Friday, April 29, 2005
CondolencesCondolences to the family of Kevin Aylward of Wizbang upon the loss of their father and grandfather.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:32 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:32 PM
The verdict in Russia's most controversial post-Soviet trial of billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been delayed by three weeks, a move announced yesterday in a simple unsigned note pinned to the door of a Moscow courthouse.On the first VE Day, Western Europeans were liberated, while the Soviet bloc remained enslaved.
The abrupt postponement until May 16 of a verdict on the Kremlin critic saves Vladimir Putin from considerable embarrassment during events on May 9 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of VE day.
The president has invited dozens of world leaders to Moscow for the occasion, including President George Bush and other vocal critics of the treatment of Mr. Khodorkovsky and his oil firm, Yukos...
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:30 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:30 PM
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:03 PM
First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.
-- Russian President Vladimir Putin
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:56 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:21 AM
Mr. President, I rise to share a few thoughts on the issue of how this body should deal with the confirmation of judges appointed by the President.
When I joined this body, I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. That document gives each Senator the responsibility to give "advice and consent" to judges appointed by the President. The Constitution does not talk about filibusters or cloture votes. It just gives me that job to do...
...the Senate is not a rigid, ancient relic that has remained static for these 200 plus years. The Senate is a great institution because over the generations it has found a way to stay faithful to its ideals and get its work done at the same time. We are at such moment.
Let me illustrate it this way. Mr. President, this (hold up) small booklet is a copy of the Standing Rules of the Senate. It is 71 (thumb to the back) pages long. It is very simple, straightforward and with a refreshingly small number of rules.
This (hold up) fat book, on the other hand, is called Senate Procedure. It has (thumb) 1608 pages. This book (right hand) is the interpretation and application of what this book ((left hand) means. The Senate proceeds by precedent. In a body of this many lawyers, issues come up about what the rules hold. They are presented to the Chair. Once the chair rules, that is the procedure of the Senate until a new precedent is made. This Procedure book is literally hundreds of pages of times precedents have been made and changed by this body.
On several occasions, when Senator Byrd was Majority Leader, and directly responsible for getting the Senate's work done, he established new precedents specifically in the area we are debating: the filibuster rule. They are called "the Byrd precedents." In 1977, 1979, 1980, and 1987, these new precedents either limited the right to extended debate in this body, or removed from the Senate the right to decide certain questions ordinarily reserved to it rather than the presiding officer.
So, there is nothing earth shattering about the Senate establishing precedents or clarifying rules. In fact, let me tell you what my predecessor in the United States Senate said in 1969. The late, great Hubert H. Humphrey from the Great State of Minnesota said:
"There is perhaps no principle more firmly established than the constitutional right of the Senate under article I, section 5 to 'determine the rules of its proceedings.' The right to determine includes the right to amend. No one has ever, to the Chair's knowledge, seriously suggested that a resolution to amend the Senate rules required the vote of more than a simple majority. On a par with the right of the Senate to determine its rules, though perhaps not set forth so specifically in the Constitution, is the right of the Senate, a simple majority of the Senate, to decide constitutional questions."
My point is not to make Vice President Humphrey's point so much as it is to simply underscore that what the majority proposes to do today in terms of clarifying the rules is a hardly novel concept.
But now that the shoe is on the other foot, members of the Minority are talking as if establishing a precedent is some sort of Constitutional obscenity, when the Senate has done it thousands of times over the last two hundred years, many times at their request.
The Senate is between a rock and hard place. We have a Constitutional responsibility, not to vote on cloture motions, but to give advice and consent. But the Minority has adopted the practice, not once but many times, of preventing the Senate from doing its job via the filibuster.
There is a misnomer being thrown around. An attempt by the current Majority Leader to set a new precedent on the specific matter of confirmation of judicial nominees is being called the "nuclear option."
I think it is being applied to the wrong side of the argument.
It is the Minority that has exercised a "nuclear option" time and time again. We are supposed to be the world's greatest deliberative body. We discuss. We debate. We try to reach consensus and often we do. But in extreme cases Senators resort to the filibuster. But what the Minority has done is go "nuclear" - literally blowing up the process - in a way that's never been done in the history of the Senate.
They are filibustering qualified judges who have bipartisan support under the management and direction of their leadership.
I must say to the leadership on the other side of the isle, if you fear the consequences of a new precedent, you are reaping what you have sown.
The Senate must get its work done. These courts need judges to allow justice to be done on a timely basis. The Senate is about to do what it has done countless times before (hold up Procedure): set a limited new precedent that allows us to fulfill our Constitutional responsibility to give advice and consent.
Let me make myself clear, if we were talking about a precedent relative to the legislative calendar, I would come over to your side of the argument in a minute. Even though I object to it on substance, I support your right to filibuster the energy bill and the malpractice bill and the highway bill and on and on and on.
But when you prevent the Senate from achieving its Constitutional requirement to give advice and consent - vote yes or no - you leave the body no choice but to make a specific change or, perhaps more to the point in this case, a clarification in the precedent to allow that to happen.
We bend over backwards to protect minority views in this Senate, but eventually majority has to rule. A duly elected president and duly elected members of the Senate have a right and responsibility to do what they were elected to do.
The best traditions of the Senate, and the best interests of our nation, require us to do that. And speaking as one member of the majority, we are not going to be intimidated into failing that responsibility.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:15 AM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:53 PM
It would be interesting to know why and at what point the NAACP switched positions on the filibuster......while Michael King says:
I really wish the NAACP would come on out of the closet...
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:30 PM
Black Activists Criticize NAACP for Filibuster Flip-Flop
Members of the black leadership organization Project 21 are criticizing the NAACP for endorsing filibusters against Bush Administration judicial nominees, calling the NAACP endorsement contradictory to the group's past position, when filibusters halted the progress of civil rights bills.
"For decades, the NAACP was vehemently against filibusters because they were employed to oppose and counter civil rights legislation. But the NAACP has now switched position," notes Project 21 member Michael King. "NAACP head Julian Bond has aggressively made verbal attacks on the Bush Administration. Though Bond and the NAACP leadership vociferously deny charges of partisanship, Bond's actions and the silence of the membership implies that partisanship is the order of the day. By virtue of its actions, the NAACP has forfeited any opportunity to provide a reasonable voice to this discussion."
Current filibuster rules require the votes of 60 or more senators to bring something up for consideration on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Then only a simple majority is needed for passage or confirmation. During President Bush's first term, Senate liberals employed prolonged filibusters against appeals court nominees for the first time ever. Senate leaders are assessing a rule change - dubbed the "nuclear option" by its opponents - to reduce the number of votes needed to schedule a floor vote as a filibuster progresses.
In a March 16 "Action Alert," NAACP Washington Bureau director Hilary O. Shelton called the filibuster "a respected method of ensuring that the most ardent concerns of the minority party... were taken into consideration" and an "accepted parliamentary maneuver." The alert suggests people contact senators to support retaining the existing Senate rules.
Between the 1930s and 1960s, the NAACP was outspoken against filibusters. For example, anti-lynching legislation was never enacted, despite three popular bills, because of filibusters. The NAACP's fair employment proposal suffered a similar fate. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was unsuccessfully filibustered.
"While the NAACP has filled its coffers and built a reputation fighting the presentation of the Confederate Battle Flag, they are now celebrating a tactic used by former Confederates and segregationists to impede the fight for civil rights," said Project 21 member Kevin Martin. "The black community should be alarmed that the NAACP now supports the same filibuster that kept lynchings legal..."
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:56 PM
New Pope's Name May Be Sign of Focus on Evangelizing EuropeAs a protestant, I would never call myself an expert on Catholicism, but I do know something about the Middle Ages. With regard to the Pope's name, I hope he is honoring St. Benedict.
The German cardinal with the charge of defending Church orthodoxy for the last 23 years was elected Pope of the Roman Catholic Church today by the College of Cardinal. The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, know for his faithful adherence to Church teaching as well as his influential role at the Second Vatican Council, emerged as the new Pope on the famous Vatican balcony of St. Peter's Basilica after it was announced he would take the name of Benedict XVI. Culture of Life Foundation board member Father Joseph Fessio told CNN that the key to the name was not his predecessor, Pope Benedict XIV, but St. Benedict, the co-patron of Europe and the founder of western monasticism.
Interpreting the name as a nod to St. Benedict would indicate that the new pope would make defending the embattled faith in Europe central to his mission just as St. Benedict and the monastic movement he led was essential to the spread of Christianity on the Continent in the sixth century. Some time around 500 AD, St. Benedict left his studies in Rome because of the widespread corruption there and eventually formed a monastic community at Subiaco, 40 miles from the city. Benedictine monastic communities became centers of intense scholarship in Europe and are responsible for preserving and developing much of the Western tradition on the Continent, a point the Pope will likely want to emphasize to the new European Community which refuses to acknowledge Europe's Christian roots.
The name could also be taken as a tribute to Pope Benedict XV who led the Church from 1914 to 1922 and oversaw the promulgation of the first Code of Canon Law. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger helped produce the second edition of the Code of Cannon Law. Following World War I, Turkish Muslims erected a statue of Pope Benedict XV in their homeland for his work with refugees during the war, a sign perhaps that Pope Benedict XVI will pursue peaceful relations with Muslim countries.
Dissenting Catholics have sought a silver lining in the election by noting that Benedict XV formally ended the Church's attack on modernism. Others noted that the new Pope was old, 78, and therefore might have little time to make his mark. But most dissenters responded immediately with anger. Andrew Sullivan on his blog, www.andrewsullivan.com, practically called the news an indication that a Church split was imminent. "It would be hard to over-state the radicalism of this decision. It's not simply a continuation of John Paul II. It's a full-scale attack on the reformist wing of the church. The swiftness of the decision and the polarizing nature of this selection foretell a coming civil war within Catholicism. The space for dissidence, previously tiny, is now extinct. And the attack on individual political freedom is just beginning," Sullivan wrote.
Following the announcement web sites with articles on St. Benedict, Benedict XV and Ratzinger were bombarded with traffic leading to sluggish surfing. An unofficial site devoted to Cardinal Ratzinger, www.ratzingerfanclub.com, was so deluged with hits that it soon crashed. The site's owner, Christopher Blosser, commented on the crash on the popular Catholic blog, Open Book. "As you can imagine, the entire world wants to know who this Cardinal is (if they don't already). I'm working on upgrading the bandwidth, but the changes may not go into effect for 24 hours, so you might have to wait to access the site. I apologize. I really should have anticipated this. But then, who knew?" he said.
Prior to entering the Catholic hierarchy, the German-born Pope was a well regarded theologian with expertise was on St. Augustine and was more comfortable in academia than the corridors of the Vatican bureaucracy. Though often labeled a "hardline conservative," Pope Benedict was one of the leading voices for reform at Vatican II. Under his years of service to Pope John Paul II he tried several times to resign but his service was so valued by the former pontiff that he would not allow him to leave his Vatican post.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:24 PM
Created to keep up with the fast pace of school choice changes around the country, Choices in Education is an online clearinghouse of information on vouchers, tax credits, public school choice, home schooling, and more. State legislatures have voted on a record number of parental choice proposals this spring, and the merits of choice are being argued in courts around the country. Stay up-to-date by visiting this one-stop shop for school choice information, from legislation and litigation to research.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:49 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:14 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:01 PM
Recent remarks by Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) calling President George W. Bush's proposal to reform the nation's ailing Social Security system "fraud" and its promotion an "impeachable offense" are condemned by members of the black leadership network Project 21...
"Charlie Rangel is hyperventilating. He should sit down and breathe slowly with a paper sack over his face," said Project 21 member Deroy Murdock. "President Bush is not 'taking away' anything from anyone. His voluntary plan would free younger workers to open personal retirement accounts that they would own and control, as opposed to today's system controlled by politicians like Rangel. Rangel should support PRAs and help black Americans enjoy the benefits of stock ownership, something that should not be a 'whites only' proposition."
In a speech outside of New York City's City Hall on April 11, Rangel called on black Americans to take part in "missionary" work to defeat the President's Social Security reform efforts, calling such work an extension of the civil rights struggle. He claimed that allowing people to personally invest and control a portion of their payroll taxes would "dismantle" Social Security and hurt blacks by reducing benefits.
In March, the trustees of Social Security announced that the program, which pays beneficiaries with taxes on the current workforce, will begin paying out more than it collects in 2017. By 2077, demographic changes in the United States are expected to require the program to pay out $25 trillion more than will be available. Experts expect this to lead to higher taxes and reduced benefits.
"Black Americans in particular would benefit from this reform," adds Murdock. "Since we tend to die sooner than other Americans, we typically collect less of our Social Security benefits that do others. Personal retirement accounts would let black Americans enjoy this wealth sooner, and, unlike in today's system, pass it along to their heirs. This would increase family wealth, another area where blacks lag behind whites."
Project 21 member Ak'bar Shabazz concurs: "It's disappointing, but not surprising, to see liberals try to scare people into preserving the status quo. Rangel knows the President's proposal will not eliminate Social Security. The younger generation will have an opportunity to take more control over their futures with PRAs, and Rangel should be ashamed of himself for derailing the destinies of our youth...
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:50 PM
A Boston Globe freelance writer fabricated large chunks of a story published this week, the newspaper said on Friday in the latest incident to embarrass the U.S. media.
The Globe, which is owned by The New York Times Co., said it stopped using writer Barbara Stewart because of a story that ran on Wednesday about a seasonal hunt for baby seals off Newfoundland -- a hunt, it turns out, had not taken place.
The story datelined Halifax, Nova Scotia described in graphic detail how the seal hunt began on Tuesday, with water turning red as hunters on some 300 boats shot harp seal cubs "by the hundreds."
The problem, however, was that the hunt did not begin on Tuesday; it was delayed by bad weather...
...Canadian Fisheries Minister Geoff Regan said his officials had called the paper to point out the error.
"We've been trying to get the facts out about the seal harvest, the fact that the herd is very healthy ... that in 98 percent of cases it (the hunt) is done in a humane way," he told Reuters in a telephone interview.
Officials with the newspaper were not immediately available for further comment.
U.S. media organizations have been hit with a series of high-profile cases involving plagiarism or fabrication.
In 2003, The New York Times' top two editors, Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd, left the paper after it was disclosed that reporter Jayson Blair had fabricated and plagiarized material.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:34 PM
In the ongoing debate over Social Security, AARP may claim that its mission is to defend the elderly, but its use of manipulative polls and inaccurate ads to needlessly frighten the public about the merits of reform raises serious questions...Addendum 4/15: John has another good one in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which reports:
...AARP is clearly out for itself and not the elderly.
It has gotten rich defending the Social Security status quo and is prepared to wage shameless scare campaigns to stop reform.
That may be good for AARP's balance sheet, but it means catastrophe for retirees in the not-so-distant future.
The policy director of the National Legal and Policy Center says organized labor is hypocritical to claim its campaign to pressure corporations to stop supporting President Bush's Social Security reform plan 'is necessary to protect retirees from corporate greed.' John Carlisle points to labor's 'sordid history of raiding union pension funds for personal gain.' Touche.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:28 AM
There was a story a couple of weeks ago that said global warming is so far advanced there's nothing we can do about it... If that's true, if it's so far gone there's nothing we can do about it, then I would submit to you there's nothing we can do to cause it.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:40 PM
Who killed Social Security overhaul?The article quotes Congressional Democrats about the seriousness of Clinton's effort: "It's kind of the Nixon-goes-to-China theory," [then-Congressman Charles] Stenholm said. "It takes a Democrat to do some of the hard choices in social programs."
A: Harry Reid.
B: George W. Bush.
D: Monica Lewinsky.
Seven years ago, the first Baby Boomer president traveled the country to warn that his generation's impending retirement -- 76 million people, equal to the populations of California, Texas and Florida combined -- would bankrupt the generations to follow.
'It would be unconscionable if we failed to act,' President Bill Clinton said at a forum in 1998, when he made fixing the nation's retirement program a top priority of his second term.
Clinton's efforts then, in light of President Bush's now, induce an extraordinary sense of deja vu.
Clinton appointed a bipartisan commission, which delivered in 1997 three options to save the giant retirement program. They included a now-familiar list of possible benefit cuts, from changing indexing formulas to raising the retirement age.
One of the options would have allowed workers to divert 5 percentage points of their payroll taxes to personal accounts -- the first such proposal by a government commission...
...Today, Lewinsky is ancient history, the Baby Boom retirement is seven years closer, and the budget surpluses Clinton hoped to use to "save Social Security first" are gone...
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:48 PM
A stunning revelation buzzed throughout Italy last week. According to two Italian newspapers, German government officials had found proof that the Soviet Union ordered the May 13, 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. The recently discovered documents -- which are mainly correspondences between East German Stasi spies and their Bulgarian counterparts -- reportedly discuss the Soviet assassination order as well as efforts to cover-up any traces of involvement by Bulgaria's spooks.The article goes on to ferociously indict the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and others for, in effect, covering up the would-be papal assassin's true ties.
If the documents are as advertised, then they put an end to one of the great whodunits of the 20th century. The U.S. media has all but ignored this incredible story; which isn't, actually, much of a surprise.
Indeed, the elite media in this country never wanted to investigate the threads of evidence pointing to Bulgarian, and thus Soviet, involvement. What is surprising, however, is that in one of the greatest U.S. intelligence failures of all-time, neither did the CIA....
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:29 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:08 AM
Environmental groups have spent the last 40 years defining themselves against conservative values like cost-benefit accounting, smaller government, fewer regulations, and free trade, without ever articulating a coherent morality we can call our own. Most of the intellectuals who staff environmental groups are so repelled by the right's values that we have assiduously avoided examining our own in a serious way.Environmental protection doesn't have to be a left-versus-right issue, but in the 35 years since the first Earth Day, it certainly has been.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:00 AM
It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.I found it at The Night Writer blog.
- Thomas Jefferson
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:13 PM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:51 AM
Yes, Virginia, there is a Social Security Trust Fund...In Parkersburg, West Virginia.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:21 PM
1. The Missing $25 BillionRead the whole thing for details.
2. Unused Flight Tickets Totaling $100 Million
3. Embezzled Funds at the Department of Agriculture
4. Credit Card Abuse at the Department of Defense
5. Medicare Overspending
6. Funding Fictitious Colleges and Students
7. Manipulating Data to Encourage Spending
8. State Abuse of Medicaid Funding Formulas
9. Earned Income Tax Credit Overpayments
10. Redundancy Piled on Redundancy
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:06 AM
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:35 PM
As for real reform: (1) strip France of permanent U.N. Security Council status; (2) keep Russia as a permanent member, but with no veto (all it has are nukes); (3) add India and Japan as permanent Security Council members (though with no veto). Now Britain wields the European veto, China the Asian and America the real veto.Dubious merits aside, this will never, ever be adopted.
1) Put every nation on the Security Council.End result: A paralyzed, neutered U.N. that Americans don't pay for.
2) Give every nation a veto.
3) Withdraw the U.S. from the U.N. entirely.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:35 PM
Do you favor or oppose giving individuals the choice to invest a portion of their Social Security contributions in stocks or mutual funds?The poll results are interesting. So is the use of the term "contribution."
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:06 PM
Every writer I know is looking for that dazzling phrase that brings the Social Security situation into focus. (That's what us writers do for a living.)Read the whole thing.
Clark S. Judge, managing director of the White House Writers Group (a private organization), made a great stab at it in the New York Post on Tuesday. He used the metaphor of Enron. What's happening in the federal government now is exactly what happened to Ken Lay. It's called 'co-mingling of funds.'"
All this started way back in 1968 when Lyndon Johnson was trying to deliver both "guns and butter" and disguise the costs of the Vietnam War. Social Security was then a separate account...
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:33 AM
In 10 to 25 years, we will see the eclipse of American science, the pride of the 20th Century. Some country, more interested in real results than in who is offended, will suddenly deluge the world with a product based on new discoveries that will destroy a major segment of our economy.Surely not. Anyway, since global warming is coming and it will drown the Earth, it hardly matters.
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:28 AM
Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:55 AM
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