Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Gas Taxes By State

The Periodical has a map showing gasoline taxes on a state-by-state basis.

New Yorkers top the chart by paying 63 cents per gallon in state (44.5 cents) and federal (18.4 cents) gas taxes combined. (As bad as that is, it pales in comparison to Great Britain's tax, which is the equivalent of $4.20 cents per gallon.) Alaska's rate is lowest at 8 cents per gallon in state gas taxes.

Check out your own state here.

Brings to mind my post of November 14 citing Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe, who wrote: "Government revenue from gasoline taxes alone has exceeded oil industry profits in 22 of the past 25 years."

How about a windfall profits tax cut?

Addendum, 11:19 PM: The Nightwriter follows up by comparing the cost of other processed liquids to the price of gasoline.

It led me to wonder: Why is mouthwash so expensive, anyway?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:27 AM

Religious Conservatives -- Or Just Religious People?

I'm involved in a very mild debate on the Center for Faith in Politics blog over religion, politics and money (a debate over religion, politics and money that has not descended into name calling -- miracle of miracles).

Specifically, we are discussing the article by Patrick Hynes of Ankle Biting Pundits that I blogged about here on Monday.

Patrick's article is about an identified correlation between the frequency with which a person attends church and that person's income. Some, however, seem to think Patrick has identified a correlation between conservatives who attend church frequently and other frequent churchgoers, leading them to criticize Patrick. As one put it, "It's time the right stopped claiming Christianity as their own, and realized that its beyond party lines."

I think it is pretty clear that Patrick didn't do that, but also think it is interesting that an apparently liberal person immediately assumed that a reference to "frequent churchgoers" largely was a reference to conservatives. Do liberals, speaking very generally, tend to see themselves as less devout than conservatives? It is not something I have thought about before, but I am wondering now.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:20 AM

Box Shadows for Your Website, Courtesy of Jeff

Jeff Harrell shows how to use box shadows to liven up your web art, and has even assembled a little demo of the technique he uses that visitors to his site can download and use on their own sites if their want.

As Jeff says, its pretty awesome, in a nerdy sort of way.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:52 AM

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Insider Iraq Info in New Talisman Gate Blog

Robert Stevens of Alphabet City writes to recommend the new blog Talisman Gate by Iraqi writer and analyst Nibras Kazimi.

Nibras is a visiting scholar at the Hudson Institute, a highly-regarded think-tank, and a weekly columnist for the New York Sun.

I checked his blog out, and it is indeed informative. Posts critique Bush Administration policy (though not in a manner Cindy Sheehan would endorse) and provides tons of insider info about Iraq.

It's fun, too. I liked this comment in Zarqawi Caught Fibbing...World in Shock!:
Sort of makes you wonder about the culpability of the MSM in providing more fuel to the jihadist fire. I'm looking at you, Dana Priest...
Or, from Eat My Dust Arianna, almost:
Suffering from blog-envy, and vaingloriously deeming myself a should-be (as opposed to wanna-be) celebrity, I thought that I could steal a march on Huffington's post about her soiree with Ahmad Chalabi, and thus put 'Talisman Gate' on the map. Chalabi was the flavor of the news cycle. Of course, I have privileged access to Chalabi, so I was sure to get all the hot stuff. What I ended-up getting on his farewell ride back to Dulles Airport last night were indeed some red-hot insider scoops, except, I can't quote a single line. Something about things being off-the-record and journalistic integrity, or something.

Damn you Arianna... I will get you yet!
Visit Talisman Gate here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:03 PM

Killing Rainforests -- Kyoto Style

Peyton Knight writes to say:
New Scientist reports that the current push by the European Union and Britain to meet their Kyoto Protocol emissions reduction targets is "having the perverse effect of encouraging the destruction of tropical rainforests."

Both the EU and Britain require their conventional fuels to be blended with biofuels such as palm oil and soybean oil. Just a couple problems: Palm oil production destroys rainforests in southeast Asia, and soybean oil production destroys rainforests in the Brazilian Amazon.

By increasing the demand for palm and soybean oil, the EU and Britain are driving up the cost of the oils, and consequently, production is increasing. And as production increases, more rainforest is leveled to make way for soybean and palm fields.

Seems any self-respecting eco-warrior should be chanting "Save a rainforest -- Kill Kyoto!" at this week's United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal.
Addendum, 12/1/05: Received in the mail this evening:
RE: Killing Rainforests -- Kyoto Style

This article is bunk. Mr. Knight makes blanket statements with no data whatsoever to back it up, no third party references to verify his claims. This kind of 'greenie' hype is typical - nothing but embellishment and exaggeration and wild unsubstantiated claims.

I notice you have no way for a person to publish comments on your blog. Typical of your mindset - free speech for you only.

Cordially - Joe Greene
I think we are being criticized from the right here; always a novelty.
Mr. Greene,

The link to the New Scientist article that is the third word of Peyton's note is a third party reference. However, if that is not enough for you, a few others, chosen at random from Google, can be found below. This story is all over the place. I think Drudge even had it. As for "comments enabled," I just might do that some day -- if I get a legal opinion okaying the publishing of public comments by people who won't have any notion of the need to conform to rules covering material published by tax-exempt institutions. In the meantime, you retain your freedom of speech, which is a right unconnected to our subsidy of it. Indeed, if subsidy is the issue, be advised that Blogger is free.

A few others, at random, who are discussing biofuels and Kyoto. No endorsement of the content of any of these links is implied:
Telegraph: Green fuel plan 'will destroy rainforests'

FuturePundit: Biofuels Regulations Destroying Rainforests

Single State of Consciousness: Bio-Fuel not Necessary Environmentally Friendly

Enviropundit: Green Building Blog: Forests Paying the Price for Biofuels

bh: Biofuel hurts the rainforest

Texas Venture Capital Web 2.0 Blog: Green Policies Hurt Rainforest?

Save Our Earth - We can make a difference!

New Scientist News - Forests paying the price for biofuels

Climate Conundrum as Biofuel Threatens Rainforests

Biofuels threaten rainforests as important European Commission decision lies ahead


Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:14 PM

Nobby Zoologists, Climate Change and American "Loonies"

"Impact of Climate Change 'Can be Likened to WMD'," screams a headline based on remarks by Lord Robert May in Britain's left-wing Independent newspaper.

So, have they found the WMDs?

The Independent says this nob is criticizing George W. Bush "for failing to follow through on the climate change commitments made by his father when he was president."

Clue in, Nob. Aside from the fact that George W. probably has done just that and more (under W., the U.S. is spending $5 billion annually -- yes, billion on climate change research and technology), he's not required to. It's not as if W. inherited the office from his Dad or something. (Jeez, what kind of backward system would that be, anyway?)

Nob also calls America a "sinners" nation (which we know can't be true, 'cuz we have separation of church and state) and a top Bush Administration official "looney."

Oh, and speaking of nobs who climb on climate change soapboxes and call Americans loonies, Nob, like fellow would-be loonslayer Sir John Lawton, is not a climate scientist, but a mathematical biologist (he has served as professor of zoology at both Princeton and Oxford) with a doctorate in theoretical physics.

No doubt both of these eminent zoologists are smart -- just not smart enough to realize that British nobs who publicly insult the American people in the name of the False God Kyoto just might be the best friends Kyoto opponents in the U.S. could ever have.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:19 AM

Bush Was Right -- Impeach Him Anyway

A pro-Bush mp3 file, "Bush was Right" is making the rounds. It is nicely done.

The song can be found on a UC Berkeley server that also features this ditty: "Impeach the President."

It is Berkeley, after all.

Hat tips: RightFaith and Southern Appeal.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:11 AM

Monday, November 28, 2005

An Army Joke

Just for fun, an army joke.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:37 PM

"Good Divorce" a Myth for Kids

Elizabeth Marquardt, writing in the Boston Globe, explains why even low-conflict divorces are extremely difficult for children:
In a first-ever national study, the grown children of divorce tell us there's no such thing as a ''good" divorce. This nationally representative telephone survey of 1,500 young adults, half from divorced families and half from intact families -- supplemented with more than 70 in-person interviews conducted around the country -- reveals that any kind of divorce, whether amicable or not, sows lasting inner conflict in children's lives.

Only a small minority of grown children of divorce -- just one-fifth -- say their parents had a lot of conflict after their divorce, but the conflict between their parents' worlds did not go away. Instead, the tough job of making sense of their parents' different beliefs, values, and ways of living became the child's job alone...

The grown children of divorce also report that the job of traveling between two worlds, struggling alone to make sense of them, is a lonely one. They are three times more likely to agree, ''I was alone a lot as a child," and seven times more likely to strongly agree with that sentiment. Over and over, their stories made it clear that being the only link between your parents' two worlds is a lonely place for a child to be...
There's more here, and lots more in Marquardt's book "Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:47 PM

Deroy Murdock on New Orleans' Catch-22

Deroy Murdock on the Catch-22 New Orleans faces.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:32 PM

Fat People Lose Access to Some Surgeries as Cost-Saving Measure in Britain's Government-Run Health System

The British nationalized health care system has decided to halt knee and hip replacements to overweight people in at least one part of Great Britain.

Specifically, a woman 5' 2" who weighs 168 pounds or more or a man 5' 10" who weighs 210 pounds or more would be ineligible.

Says a November 27 article in the Scotsman:
Dissolute footballer George Best was entitled to a liver transplant on the NHS in 2002, despite his transparent determination to drink himself to death. But obese people in East Suffolk are to be refused hip and knee replacements, even if they are in terrible pain, as a result of healthcare rationing.

It's not as if we are talking about people who are can't-get-out-of-bed-without-a-crane fat. The area's three primary care trusts have said there will be a blanket ban on such operations for people with a Body Mass Index of 30: that's a woman who is 5 ft 2 in and weighs 12 stone or a man who is 5 ft 10 in who weighs 15 stone.

And it's not a question of surgery being denied for clinical reasons. Although hip and knee replacements are less likely to be successful in overweight patients, Dr Brian Keeble, director of public health in Ipswich, has been clear that the motive behind the decision is primarily financial. The trusts need to get rid of a 47.9 m [British pound] deficit, and apparently believe fat people are fair game.
Later in the article, the newspaper says:
...Of course, NHS resources are finite, and, unpopular though the idea is, some degree of rationing is a fiscal necessity. For this, and to control waiting lists, it may be appropriate to look at whether a particular operation is the correct course of action for a particular individual, taking into account their age, weight and personal circumstances.

But such decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis, in the same way as liver transplants such as Best's. In those instances where obesity is impeding surgery, the excess weight should be seen as a temporary hurdle the patient can overcome with support, rather than another 10,000 [British pounds] saving to celebrate.

When making these difficult judgments, it is important for primary care trusts to remember that fat people pay taxes too. After all, it is one thing to insist everyone should be required to give a portion of their income to fund services they may not use (such as education or improved transport networks), it is quite another to demand people pay for a service they will be denied when they need it.

And if we decide the best way to cut costs is to punish people for "self-inflicted" conditions, where is the blame game going to stop? Could we see health authorities refusing to treat people who are sexually promiscuous for STDs or those who use sunbeds for skin cancer?

Perhaps those in the throes of a heart attack should be interrogated on their diet before an ambulance is dispatched and anyone who fails to do pelvic floor exercises after childbirth should surely have to thole that self-inflicted prolapse. Indeed, if fat people are refused treatment for fat-related conditions, why shouldn't sports fanatics be denied treatment for sports-related injuries?

The point is we are all fallible: we all make choices every day that impact on our health, from eating junk food to having children. And unless we are willing to sacrifice our own right to NHS treatment when the time comes, we should not be so hasty in judging other people's lifestyles, and finding them wanting.
Socialized medicine. You get what you pay for. Or, maybe, you don't.

Hat tip: Kevin, M.D.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:29 AM

Judges' Creative Sentences May Be Funny, But Also Unconstitutional

Paul Jacob takes aim against judges who sentencing "creatively," and concludes the practice is unconstitutional.

Cases in point: Judge Michael A. Cicconetti's sentencing two individuals to spend the night in the woods, and "forc[ing] a man who called a policeman a 'pig' to stand on a street corner next to a pig wearing a sign saying 'This is not a police officer.'"

Says Paul: "If I were a policeman, that punishment might not sit well..."

Paul makes some good points. Read it all here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:52 AM

Route to Wealth and Happiness

Patrick Hynes of Ankle Biting Pundits has a column saying:
Americans who attend church with greater frequency than their neighbors tend to be richer, healthier, and happier, less prone to commit acts of crime, and more likely to get and stay married; possible explanations include educational background and the influence of religion in withstanding worldly pressures.
As Patrick notes, so much for "poor, uneducated, and easy to command."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:40 AM

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Peace Movement's Moderate Face

As Cindy Sheehan is once again protesting in Crawford, Texas, I thought it a good time to share some pictures that show -- as the mainstream media often does not -- the message of the anti-war protesters.

These photos, of another anti-war rally in which Cindy Sheehan participated, were taken by Joe Roche.

Said Joe about the day he took these pictures:
I wiped myself out by walking in the opposite direction all day through the marches taking pictures of lots of stuff.

The reason I did this was because of an exchange I had with some soldiers after the Sept 11th Freedom Walk earlier this month. There was a counter-protest for that that shocked most of the soldiers. They held up signs that were extremely militant and provacative. The soldiers asked me afterwards if those were Americans. They were shocked, incredulous, when I said yes. Amy & David, there are many people in America who have no idea how radical and militant the Left really is. I think it would shock people to see how bad they really are at events like this weekend's.

Of course, we know this. The same thing happened in 1983 against Reagan, many times against Contra Aid, against the 1991 Gulf War, etc. The thing that infuriates me is how the press/media protect these protests by NOT showing the real militant and radical sides of it. NOTHING like that exists in our pro-US/pro-military rallies, but it ALWAYS is there for the anti-military stuff.

...Every time they hold these protests, the media only shows the sides of things that look normal and nice for America. It is as if they go out of their way to protect the message from the radicals to only show the most mellow side, so that the whole thing comes off acceptable to the "moderates."
Notice this photo gallery of Cindy Sheehan's protests this week (Hat tip: League of Extraordinary Conservative Gentlemen). All flags, hugs and crosses. Yet the photos below show another face of the "peace"movement -- one that is not "moderate' at all.


Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:59 AM

Friday, November 25, 2005

Oliver Willis Cries Liar

Oliver Willis gets more than one fact wrong in this post, but I'll zero in on one: He claims Kevin Martin, the Project 21 member I quoted here is a liar -- but Willis provides no evidence whatsoever.

Sheesh. Even Mary Mapes provided forged documents as "evidence." Willis offers nothing.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:31 AM

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Barely Newsworthy, If That -- But I Admit, I Voted for the Ship

If you have absolutely nothing better to do, the Commonwealth of Virginia is inviting the public to vote on the design of it's new welcome-to-virginia signs.

The commonwealth wants to install the new signs before the start of Historic Garden Week -- which certainly is understandable.

Go here to vote. If you are really into this, go to Just Barely Inside the Beltway for a discussion.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:30 PM

Massachusetts Not So Secular -- Blue Laws Remain

Blue Laws are alive and well -- in Massachusetts, of all places.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:51 AM

Last Witness to World War I Christmas Truce Has Died

The last known witness to World War I's Christmas truce has died.

Less than ten British World War I veterans remain alive; less than 50 American World War I vets are wtill with us.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:02 AM

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Michael Steele Oreo Incident Eyewitness Report

Various lefties have questioned (see Dave Pierre on NewsBusters for a roundup) whether other lefties ever threw Oreo cookies at Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele, a black conservative, during a gubernatorial campaign debate in 2002.

Project 21's Kevin Martin was present at that debate and an eyewitness. We asked him to tell us what he saw. The following is his full response, unedited:
I was present at the Morgan State University Maryland gubernatorial debate in 2002 where Oreo cookies were present and used as a means of ridiculing then-candidate for lieutenant governor Michael Steele.

When I walked towards the auditorium where the debate was held, I saw a young girl approaching me holding some Oreo cookies. She attempted to hand me some. When I asked her what they were, she cheerfully replied, "they're Michael Steele cookies."

I did see an Oreo cookie fly through the air in the direction of Mr. Steele during the event, but I did not see it hit him. The cookies were just part of a wide-ranging intimidation campaign employed against him and Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert Ehrlich that night which included booing, insults directed at the candidates' families and vandalism of their supporters' cars. While the thrown Oreo cookies may not have been "thick in the air like locusts" as Paul Schurick, spokesman for Governor Robert Ehrlich, has said, I feel compelled to ask those who are trying to downplay the events just how many Oreo cookies would constitute being offensive?

The term Oreo and the symbolism of the cookie is meant to imply that a black person is really wants to be Caucasian and otherwise ashamed of his or her race. The mere mention of them is insult enough. It is outrageous that Michael Steele's political opponents are trying to deflect their improper behavior by implying the event never happened. It did. Michael Steele may not have been pelted with a large number of cookies that night, but the epithets were there - both baked and yelled.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:43 PM

Reporters Give Thanks

Various media folks tell the world what they are thankful for this year.

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, for example, is thankful for Dennis Kucinich.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:40 PM

Doctor Kills Self After Learning He Euthanized a Woman With Depression, Not Terminal Liver Disease

A doctor has committed suicide after learning that a woman he euthanized was not terminally ill -- she had depression and a false medical report.

Hat tips: Kevin, M.D. and its source, Relapsed Catholic.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:36 AM

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ted Koppel: Looking Back Wistfully

Writing on Newsbusters the evening of Ted Koppel's final Nightline broadcast, Tim Graham posts a doozy of a quote by Koppel about the end of the Cold War.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:25 PM

GM Layoffs Linked to High Gas Prices

Peyton Knight sent over this observation:
High fuel prices are among the contributing factors forcing General Motors to lay-off 30,000 employees and shut down 12 plants and parts facilities. Ford also announced that it would be eliminating 4,000 jobs, a full ten percent of its North American white-collar work force, due to slumping profits. In a trend that began well before hurricanes devastated the Gulf Region, the soaring cost of gasoline has taken its tollon sales of SUVs and pickup trucks, which account for nearly 80 percent of Ford and GM profits in North America.

Seemingly oblivious (or just plain indifferent) to the ill-effects of America's dwindling domestic oil production, 25 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives led by Rep. Charles Bass (R-NH) are intent on blocking access to oil in ANWR.

Not only would drilling in ANWR help keep gas prices down, but it would create jobs. Estimates of the number of new jobs that would be created by oil drilling in ANWR range from the tens of thousands to over two million.

High oil prices have a damaging impact across much of the economy. Every time gas prices rise just one penny, a billion dollars are siphoned from Americans' pockets.

One of GM's now-doomed plants is located in Pittsburgh, PA. Pennsylvania Republican Congressmen Jim Gerlach and Michael Fitzpatrick are two of the 25 Republicans stonewalling oil production in ANWR.

How will they explain to former GM workers in Pennsylvania that they opted to bury their heads in the tundra instead of supporting environmentally sound oil drilling in ANWR?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:21 PM

The Shape of Days is Back

Jeff Harrell is back -- and is he ever! Complete blog redesign to the epitome of gorgeousness (that's the blog, not you, Jeff). Seriously, even if you don't like interesting posts, just go look at Jeff's blog to see the ways he used color.

(Or you could go there to see the question he has about the CNN-Dick-Cheney-X-On-Face video posted by The Political Teen.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:16 AM

Monday, November 21, 2005

Unabashedly Unhyphenated: Race-Based Hate Update

Unabashedly Unhyphenated is monitoring efforts to "dismantl[e] Whiteness Ideology and Practice" by a group that presumably has white members.

P.S. Anybody know what "color-on-color whiteness" is? This group seeks to "dismantle structures and relationships that perpetuate" it. Google has no links to the phrase, save the one to the group dismantling it. (Does that mean the group succeeded?)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:45 PM

BizzyBlog: More Kelo v. New London Updates

BizzyBlog has two very interesting updates today on the continuing saga of New London v. the People, otherwise known as Kelo v. New London. Access them here and here.

Apropos of the information in the first link, I guess the standard for becoming president of the Connecticut Bar Association is not very high.

I recommend both posts. Property rights are a bedrock freedom; it behooves all of us to monitor events when they are attacked, and get involved in their defense when possible.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:16 PM

Wall Street Journal: A Bridge Too Far

A perfectly nice editorial in the Wall Street Journal today has one heck of a kicker in its ending line:
It would be nice to think that this bridge humiliation would teach Congress about the folly of spending earmarks. The uproar has done enormous damage to the GOP majority's public image, which is of course why Mr. Stevens blew up his bridge. But, alas, apparently this is merely a symbolic and tactical spending retreat. Late last week, GOP House leaders suffered another defeat on the floor when a health and education spending bill failed to pass. One reason? Twenty or so GOP Members were angry that their special projects had been stripped from the legislation to save money. The bridge that these folks are building is one to being called "Mr. Ranking Member."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:53 AM

Protein Wisdom: Kyoto Protocol Dead?

Jeff Goldstein notes a major loss for international socialism.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:43 AM

Don't Let the Moonbats Get you Down

Michelle Malkin takes on some of her moonbatty critics:
The racist and sexist "yellow woman doing a white man's job" knock is a tiresome old attack from impotent liberals that I've tolerated a long time. It is pathetic that I have to sit here and tell you that my ideas, my politics, and my intellectual capital are mine and mine alone in response to cowardly attacks from misogynistic moonbats with Asian whore fixations. My IQ, free will, skin color, eye shape, productivity, sincerity, and integrity are routinely ridiculed or questioned because I happen to be a minority conservative woman. As a public figure, I am willing to take these insults, but I cannot tolerate the smearing of my loved ones. Because I have always been open and proud about his support for my career, my husband has taken endless, hate-filled abuse from my critics. His Jewish heritage, his decision to be a stay-at-home dad, and even his looks, are the subject of brutal mockery.

You and your family have more supporters than you may realize, Michelle. Don't let the moonbats get you down.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:30 AM

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Rabbi Eric Yoffie Rebuts Himself

According to the AP, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, has given a speech attacking conservatives of all faiths, calling them "zealots" and "bigoted," and then saying "there is no excuse for hateful rhetoric."

Rabbi Yoffie rebutted himself rather well, but Jeremiah Stoddard's two paragraphs are icing on the cake.

Rabbi Yoffie, anti-zealot, seemed rather zealous himself in this gun control speech about how the "indiscriminate distribution of guns is an offense against God and humanity."

Professor Marvin Schick has quite a takedown of Rabbi Yoffie in his blog.

On the other hand, Rabbi Yoffie apparently didn't think well of the Marc Rich pardon, and he spoke out when an official delegation of the Presbyterian Church USA met with Hezbollah. This may seem like damning with faint praise, but it is more than I have to offer Cindy Sheehan.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:24 AM

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Washington Post Internal Message Boards Buzz on Woodward

Washington Post reporters critique each other and muse on their supposedly confidential in-house bulletin board online about Bob Woodward, confidentiality rules and how much fun it isn't to be in the newspaper when one doesn't want to be, courtesy of the FishBowlDC blog.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:29 AM

Maureen Dowd's Bombshell Book Cover

The cover of Maureen Dowd's new book, "Are Men Necessary," is getting rave reviews. The Media Mob has the backstory.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:41 AM

Friday, November 18, 2005

Congratulations to Peter Kirsanow

Congratulations to Peter Kirsanow, who has been nominated by President Bush to the National Labor Relations Board.

Peter is a long-time member of Project 21 and a really good guy, besides.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:17 PM

Not Sure What Husband Will Say

Apropos of the Texas town that changed its name to DISH in exchange for ten years of free satellite television service, I have just renamed our children. For the next ten years, they shall be known as Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Liz Claiborne.

I myself shall be known as

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:46 PM

Ohio Family Finds It Paid Taxes for Nothing

By way of The True Stella Awards comes news of this story of an Ohio family that is being sued by a local school district.

The family home, you see, sat in two school districts. As the Cincinnati Enquirer reports:
While building their Forest Pine Drive home in 1993, [the Huegel family] discovered the property sat in two school districts... Because of that, the Huegels sought an Ohio Department of Education opinion in 1993.

"The Ohio Department of Education told us we could attend either school district, because we were paying taxes in both," [James] Huegel said...
But in 1999, the school district the family chose, Forest Hills, told the family the children couldn't attend its schools -- and it demanded $35,485 in back tuition to cover 1993 to 1999.

In 2000, although it was determined that the family's residence would henceforth be considered part of the Forest Hills school district, Forest Hills sued for back-tuition, and the family, despite having paid property taxes and following the procedure the state told it to follow, is still being hounded for the cash.

Huegel made one point to the Enquirer: "They (Forest Hills) have some responsibility in this also to know what property is in their district or what property they believe is in their district. It's not like we gave them a phony address."

I'd make another: The Huegel children were entitled to attend public schools. There is no reason why the school districts could not work together to ensure that the family, as well as the taxpayers of both counties, are treated equitably. Any tuition genuinely due the Forest Hills school district should be paid by the neighboring school district -- the other school district to which the Huegel family paid school taxes -- rather than from the Huegel family itself.

Failing that, the Huegel family should get a refund of all property taxes paid -- to both counties -- for all the years for which it is being charged tuition. If the school district can opt-out of providing the service the family paid taxes for, the family should be able to opt-out of paying the taxes.

Why does government so often seem to do simple things the hard way? And a final question -- are the illegal aliens who attend public schools hounded for tuition like the Huegels?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:01 AM

New on Blogroll

Recent additions to the blogroll:

  • Just Barely Inside the Beltway
  • SpeckBlog
  • FaithMouse
  • Camp Katrina
  • Dr. Hartline
  • Unabashedly Unhyphenated
  • PC540

    Plus, Who Moved My Truth has a beautiful new design, and a new address.

    If you have this blog on your blogroll and I don't have yours, drop me a note. It might not happen immediately, but I try to reciprocate.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:48 AM

  • Thursday, November 17, 2005

    CO2 Science: Glaciers Melting? Not These Glaciers

    Lies! Lies! These must be lies!

    Global warming theory advocates say all the glaciers are melting, but this group says it's just not so.

    Two quotes follow from the document "Not All Glaciers Lost Mass Over the Past Quarter-Century," published by the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change.
    * In Norway, the international team of researchers reports that the main glacial retreat "ended during the late 1950s to early 1960s," and that "after some years with more or less stationary glacier front positions, [the glaciers] began to advance, accelerating in the late 1980s."

    * In New Zealand, equilibrium line altitude (ELA) measurements of fifty index glaciers "spread throughout the length and width of the Southern Alps" have likewise revealed "two periods of positive mass balances from 1980 to 1987 and from 1991 to 1997." The most spectacular of the resultant glacial advances was experienced by the Franz Josef Glacier, which "regained 1200 m from 1984 to 2000, an extension which recovered a significant 41% of length lost since 1900."
    Read it all here.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:38 PM

    Project 21: High Home Heating Bills Disproportionately Harm Minority Households

    Project 21 members are speaking out on the topic of oil drilling and energy independence:
    Black Activists Support Increased Domestic Oil Exploration

    High Home Heating Bills Disproportionately Harm Minority Households

    Citing the need for America to achieve energy independence as well as aid poor and minority households already suffering from rising heating bills, activists with the black leadership network Project 21 are speaking out in favor of oil and natural gas exploration efforts under consideration for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

    The U.S. Senate approved legislation on November 9 to allow oil drilling on approximately 2,000 acres - or 0.01 percent - of ANWR's 19.6 million acres. The House of Representatives is expected to consider similar legislation as early as this week. Drilling on this small and desolate portion of ANWR is expected to generate $2.5 billion in government revenue, create a significant number of new jobs nationwide and recover between 4.3-11.8 billion barrels of oil. OCS-related legislation in the House would allow states to "opt out" of federal moratoriums that currently prohibit offshore oil and gas production.

    A small group of Republican congressmen are attempting to block any provision that would allow oil and natural gas exploration in both ANWR and the OCS.

    "Home heating bills are expected to be higher than usual this winter. People can choose not to drive their car when fuel prices are high, but they shouldn't have to choose not to turn on the heat to keep their family warm," said Project 21 member Deneen Moore. "Low-income households unable to afford rising heating bills might resort to unsafe alternatives. Drilling in ANWR, for example, would be essential to helping alleviate the high cost of energy in the U.S., create jobs and help America become less dependent on foreign oil."

    If new sources of energy are not found and utilized, minority households will be forced to spend a greater percentage of their budgets to keep their homes warm. The U.S. Department of Energy recently projected that heating costs will soar this winter. The cost of heating a home with natural gas is expected to increase by 32 percent increase; with heating oil, 26 percent.

    Based on 2004 median income figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the average black household using natural gas for heat can expect to pay one percent more of their income (from 3.2 percent to 4.2 percent) and Hispanics 0.9 percent more (2.8 to 3.7 percent) for home heating while their white counterparts will only be paying 0.6 percent more (two percent to 2.6 percent). Heating oil users will experience almost exactly the same percentage change but will pay a larger portion of their incomes (4.2 to 5.3 percent for blacks, 3.7 to 4.6 for Hispanics and 2.6 to 3.2 for whites) to stay warm.

    This inequity further depresses minority prospects for investing, paying for higher education and contributing to retirement savings plans and further hinders socio-economic advancement.

    "The prospect of keeping warm this winter costing so much more than the rate of inflation should offend every American family, but its impact on this country's working poor borders the criminal," said Project 21's John Meredith, who is active in several community-based non-profit groups. "How can a nation so rich and powerful justify forcing families to choose between staying warm and eating? We can't. Opening ANWR to exploration is the only humane thing to do."
    The full press release can be found here.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:28 PM

    Mychal Massie: Questions for White Americans

    Mychal Massie has some questions for white Americans.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:02 PM

    Senate on Pensions: Do As We Say, Not As We Do

    In an article by Albert Crenshaw, "Senate Passes Bill to Require Full Funding of Private Pensions," the Washington Post reports Thursday:
    The Senate yesterday overwhelmingly approved a bill to strengthen the nation's private pension system by requiring employers to pay higher premiums to the government's pension insurance agency and toughening rules for keeping plans adequately funded...
    I'm all in favor of employers fully-funding the pensions they promise, but I wonder this: How can the Senate do this with a straight face, knowing that Social Security and Medicare are vastly underfunded?

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:04 AM

    On the Dean Koontz "Japanese Racism" Controversy

    Good grief. In reference to the author Dean Koontz Japanese racism brouhaha, it is being said that referring to the Bataan Death March and World War II to a Japanese executive is akin to mentioning slavery to a black person or the Holocaust to a Jew.

    Get a clue! Black people were victims of slavery. Jews were victims of the Holocaust. Japan conducted the Bataan Death March.

    Personally, I'm not one for Bataan Death March humor. Doesn't strike me as funny, but not because I would fear offending the perpetrators, but because I would not wish to make light of the horrors experienced by the victims.

    The difference between a victim and a perpetrator is a very clear one. It's odd, and rather worrisome, that some people don't seem to see it.

    P.S. Imagine comparing the victims in this story to the brutes in this story.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:21 AM

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Helle Dale: Keep the Internet Free and Unregulated

    Helle Dale on the importance of governing the Internet through a policy of benign neglect.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:42 PM

    Tony Blankley: The Stench of Defeatism

    Tony Blankley is in fire. Topic is the Senate and Iraq. An excerpt:
    Monday, for the first time, the foul odor of the Vietnam War denouement wafted through the Senate chamber during the debate on Iraq. The Democrats called for "estimated dates for the phased redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Iraq." Phased redeployment was the maneuver the French executed in June 1940 in the days preceding the German occupation of Paris. Phased redeployment is what the Vietnamese boat people did as they swam for their lives away from their homeland.

    The Republican Senate leadership, sensing they might lose enough Republican senators (six or more) to let the Democratic amendment pass, decided to quibble with, rather than oppose, the infamous document.

    So they scratched out the explicit timeline to desertion and added fine-sounding phrases, such as calling for the president to provide more information and a schedule for reaching full Iraqi sovereignty.

    No bureaucratic euphemism can cleanse the air of the stench of defeatism...
    Blankley is as fun a read as Mark Steyn. Too bad the issues involved are no laughing matter.

    Read it all here.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:39 PM

    Just Barely Inside the Beltway: The Ambiguous Postal Rate Hike of 2006

    Maybe Congress is planning to tell the Postal Service to build a few bridges in Alaska.

    Nice of them to make the 37-cent Ronald Reagan postage stamp obsolete so soon. It didn't even get a full year.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:56 AM

    Cut Spending, Reform Entitlements Now: Category 6 Fiscal Hurricane Coming

    A scary article by Richard Wolf in USA Today says, in part:
    From the political left and right, budget watchdogs are warning of fiscal trouble:

    * Douglas Holtz-Eakin, director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, dispassionately arms 535 members of Congress with his agency's stark projections. Barring action, he admits to being "terrified" about the budget deficit in coming decades. That's when an aging population, health care inflation and advanced medical technology will create a perfect storm of spiraling costs.

    * Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, sees a future of unfunded promises, trade imbalances, too few workers and too many retirees. She envisions a stock market dive, lost assets and a lower standard of living.

    * Kent Conrad, a Democratic senator from North Dakota, points to the nation's $7.9 trillion debt, rising by about $600 billion a year. That, he notes, is before the baby boom retires. "We're not preparing for what we all know is to come," he says. "We're all sleepwalking through this period."

    * Stuart Butler of the conservative Heritage Foundation projects a period from now until 2050 in which tax revenue stays stable as a share of the economy but Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending soars. To avoid big tax increases, he says the government has to "renegotiate" the social contracts it made with its citizens.

    * Alice Rivlin and Isabel Sawhill of the centrist Brookings Institution put their pessimism into a book titled Restoring Fiscal Sanity. Rivlin, who became the first director of the Congressional Budget Office in 1974, says it will take an "economic scare" such as the 1987 stock market crash to spur action. Sawhill likens the growing gulf between what the government spends and takes in to a "Category 6 fiscal hurricane."
    I've reprinted just a bit of the middle of this long article that also inclues such phrases as "the nation's finances are going to hell" and "the United States can be likened to Rome before the fall of the empire."

    Read it all here.

    Hat tip: Tim Chapman at

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:38 AM

    Quick, Congressman, What Does A-N-W-R Stand For?

    Hugh Hewitt reports difficulty in getting Republican Congressmen who oppose ANWR drilling to appear on his radio show to explain their position.

    Gee, do you suppose some of these Congressmen are turning him down because they don't know much about ANWR... Nah! That would be like saying Congressmen introduce bills without reading them first. Public servants would never do that, right? Right.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:23 AM

    Tuesday, November 15, 2005

    Coming Soon?: People for the American Way Protest Clark Kent

    Power Line has the details.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:40 PM

    Maxine Waters Has It Right

    From the November 15 Wall Street Journal:
    Post-Kelo, conservatives made the case that the Supreme Court's ruling was a dangerous interpretation of the Constitution's takings clause. Now some liberals are catching on. "We don't need you on this one," said California Congressman Maxine Waters in response to critics who argued that urban renewal projects depend on eminent domain. "We need you to respect the right of those minorities and those poor people to hold on to what is their own."
    I posted this because I really do agree with Maxine Waters; I emphasize that fact now because this is one of the few times I ever have.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:27 AM

    Weenie Hugo Chavez Whines Again

    The news in this BBC story strikes me as a big deal:
    Mexico and Venezuela have recalled their ambassadors amid a diplomatic spat between the two countries. Mexican President Vicente Fox announced the move minutes after Venezuela said it was ordering home its envoy.

    Venezuela's Hugo Chavez refused to bow to Mexican demands to apologize for warning off Mr Fox -- after describing him as a "puppy" of U.S. imperialism.

    The row began last week, after Mexico supported a failed U.S. bid to relaunch regional free trade talks at a summit.

    On Sunday, Mr. Chavez accused the Mexican leader of disrespecting him...
    "Disrespecting him"? Give me a break. Who could respect Chavez? The man's afraid of Pat Robertson, for goodness sake, and if being afraid of a 75-year-old man isn't weenie enough, Chavez is so afraid of dissent, his government has, as Human Rights Watch put it, "extend[ed] the scope of existing provisions that make it a criminal offense to insult or show disrespect for the president."

    Mr. Chavez: Real men aren't so afraid of a little criticism they throw critics in jail or worse.

    P.S. The BBC, in its story, should have put the phrase "U.S. imperialism" in quotation marks, but perhaps this was just an oversight. Right.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:20 AM

    Monday, November 14, 2005

    Jeff Jacoby: The Real Oil and Gas Profiteers Are the Demagogues on Capitol Hill

    Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe nails Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) for the latter's attacks on oil companies:
    What would you call a return of $850,000 on an investment of just $20? A windfall? A rip-off? If such a killing were made by someone who was already a multimillionaire, would you be outraged? Would you insist that his bonanza be slapped with a stiff surtax, the better to redistribute some of that wealth to the less fortunate or to the Treasury?

    No need to wonder what Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire would say. When his $20 Powerball investment paid off to the tune of $853,492 last month, the wealthy Republican jovially pronounced himself ''truly deserving" and pocketed his winnings without a trace of embarrassment. He cheerfully declined the advice of colleagues like Kent Conrad of North Dakota, who suggested he donate the money to pay down the federal deficit.

    No way, said Gregg. He would give some of the jackpot to his family's charitable foundation, but ''the majority I will use personally."
    So it goes without saying that Gregg has been stoutly defending the major oil companies from the clamor for a windfall profits tax -- right?

    There is a lot in the piece I didn't know, for example:
    Over the past 25 years, according to the Tax Foundation, oil companies paid state and federal taxes of more than $2.2 trillion (in inflation-adjusted dollars). During the same period, the companies' profits totaled $630 billion -- less than a third of the government's take. Government revenue from gasoline taxes alone has exceeded oil industry profits in 22 of the past 25 years.
    Read the entire article here.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:33 AM

    Men Are More than Sex Objects, Maureen

    Based on this transcript excerpt published on the Political Teen blog, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times appears to be spending a lot of time thinking about George Bush's and Donald Rumsfeld's bodies.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:07 AM

    Sunday, November 13, 2005

    White-Hating Segregationists Master Photoshop and a Few Big Words -- Will Other Skills Follow?

    The white-hating segregationists are at it again.

    Last week, one of their number put Maryland's black Lt. Governor Michael Steele in blackface, crudely attempting to claim that since Steele is conservative he's not truly black but a white man in blackface (it is taken for granted that to be white is to be evil).

    More significantly, a major metropolitan newspaper claimed Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas "deserves an asterisk [when he is referred to as 'black'] because he arguably does not represent the views of mainstream black America." This is a leftie j-school graduate's way of screaming "OREO" and "UNCLE TOM" while maintaining a slight pretense of sophistication ("asterisk," you see, has three syllables, while street racists, the j-schoolers no doubt suppose, tend to stick with the two-syllable "Oreo" and "Uncle Tom" epithets).

    After Project 21 (among others), complained about these racist acts, another of the latter-day segregationists has spoken up. Apparently, this fellow is upset that, in the photo at the bottom right of this page on Project 21's website, Mychal Massie is pictured with Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who is (brace yourselves), WHITE. (Yes -- you read that right -- Mychal associated with an evil white person.)

    So the fellow did what any self-respecting segregationist would do - he photoshopped Mychal Massie's face onto Aunt Jemima, and also on the body of an Italian pizza chef (based on the caption, the latter is apparently a weak attempt to insult Mychal by associating him with white Catholic pro-lifers).

    You see, in the minds of the segregationists, we just can't have black people and white people working together and getting along. No, that would just be wrong. What would Martin Luther King, Jr. have thought?

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:31 PM

    Kelo v. New London: Scandalous Updates

    Based on my casual conversations with folks who are familar with Kelo v. New London (the case in which the Supreme Court claimed governments can take private property from one private entity and give it to another), few folks who are outraged by the Court did are familar with the particulars of the case itself.

    This in some cases may be a good thing, as people who follow what the City of New London does to its residents may suffer dangerous bouts of high blood pressure.

    BizzyBlog, however, takes the risk and follows the case, saying, "the national inattention to the day-to-day happenings in the Kelo case in Connecticut continues to baffle me, as it appears to be headed towards an epic confrontation."

    Personally, I think the mainstream press doesn't care (except perhaps the New York Times, which cheers theft of this nature, being practictioners of it themselves), and most of the property rights and anti-judicial activism folks have simply been preoccupied with other matters in recent months.

    So, as I public service, I'm listing links to Bizzy's posts on this, oldest first. If you are in a rush, just read the top one -- it says a lot.
    So What If You Own It? Pay Us Rent
    Theft Defended
    Promise? What Promise?
    Government Forces Fight Amongst Themselves I
    Government Forces Fight Amongst Themselves II
    Soap Opera I
    Soap Opera II
    As New London Turns
    A Surprise Resignation
    (By the way, don't blame Bizzy for the link titles -- I found it impossible to read Bizzy's links and not want to editorialize, and as such was rather free about the link names.)

    For those of you who aren't familiar with the New York Times' use of eminent domain, here's coverage of the matter from the National Center's book Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse:
    New York Times Says Jump, New York Government Says How High?

    Executives at The New York Times began to rumble that the newspaper would begin moving its workers to offices outside the city if the Times could not find a new building. In response, in December 2001, city and state authorities gave the newspaper a giant property located at the outskirts of Times Square for a new 52-story headquarters. Many consider it a "sweetheart deal" to keep the newspaper happy.

    However, neither the city nor the state own the land they gave away. It is privately-owned: 11 buildings on the site house approximately 30 businesses. Officials are using the power of eminent domain to evict the current tenants in an action that contradicts the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which allows the use of eminent domain only for "public use" with "just compensation."

    Specifically, on December 13, 2001, New York Governor George Pataki announced that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) would condemn land on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets for the Times' new building. The paper is set to pay $85.6 million for it; a price that Massachusetts Institute of Technology real estate professor W. Tod McGrath says is "at least a 25 percent discount." Sidney Orbach, the co-owner of one of the buildings slated to be condemned, backs up this estimate. He points out that a smaller building across from his recently sold for $111 million.

    Speaking on how the condemnation destroys his investment, Orbach told Reason magazine: "I would have said this couldn't happen in the United States. [My building] used to be a factory building, and we totally converted it to an office building. It became a very, very desirable place. We just want to keep the building. We've put a lot of money, energy and sweat into this. I am now sitting with a tremendous amount of vacancy because no one wants to rent space that has a good chance of being condemned." Worse, Scripps-Howard columnist Deroy Murdock has reported that the ESDC told tenants in August that they should send their rent payments to the state rather than landlords like Orbach from now on - making it hard for the owners to meet mortgage payments because the lack of rental income.

    Among those businesses likely to be displaced is Arnold Hatters, which has been on the block since 1960. Mark Rubin, whose father began the business that he now manages, said: "As far as I can remember, this has always been our family's breadbasket. I think it's atrocious that, for the sake of a private corporation like The New York Times, somebody has the right to take it away from us."
    The book Shattered Dreams was published in 2003. If you are willing to read a PDF copy, you can get it free here.

    Addendum 11-14-05: An interesting email and link to more on Kelo:
    Hi Amy:

    I read your article saying that few are following up on Kelo in New London. I am! I am writing an article on Kelo for the November 2006, Stetson Law Review. A draft is linked below. I update this regularly, including news from New London.

    Do you know what the real story is? The real story is that, no matter what they do in New London or in Connecticut to change the law, no law enforcement agency is willing, any longer, to physically go in and remove people from housing for eminent domain. From what I can tell, that seems to be the informal policy now throughout the U.S. Not one police agency has gone in post-Kelo to remove people from housing, even though Kelo gave them the right.

    Now let's move on to this law:

    No individual shall be involuntarily deprived of housing.


    John Ryskamp

    Ryskamp, John Henry, "Kelo, Lawrence and the New Right to Housing Under the New Due Process" (November 2, 2005).

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:19 AM

    Saturday, November 12, 2005

    Just Barely Inside the Beltway: New Tool Avoiding Traffic Congestion

    Just Barely Inside the Beltway reports on a new possibility: Cell phones could be used to monitor traffic congestion, building a picture that could be used to help drivers avoid congested roads.

    Apparently, the system soon will be tested near Baltimore and Norfolk.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:29 PM

    Friday, November 11, 2005

    AP: Few World War I Veterans Still Alive

    Inevitable, but sad anyway.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:10 PM

    Tisha Sharp: Fiercesome Marriage Tests

    If you are married with children, you may get a chuckle out of this. I sure did.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:06 AM

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    Horace Cooper: The First Borking

    Quiz: What judicial nominee was the first victim of a "borking," as described in this paragraph:
    Led by Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana, a cadre of Senate Democrats worked hand in glove with special interest groups to organize the first "borking" of a Supreme Court nominee.
    Read Law Professor Horace Cooper's column on Human Events Online for the answer.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:12 PM

    Does He Wear Croc Dentures?

    A headline from Reuters:
    135-Million-Year-Old Crocodile Found in Argentina
    I'll never complain that I feel old again!

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:28 PM

    House Moderates Block New Oil Drilling, Then Drive Home

    The Senate blamed oil executives for oil supply shortages Wednesday, while the House, finding its budget-saving measure held hostage by a tiny group of anti-drilling Republican moderates, decided to drop an effort to permit drilling for oil.

    From the Washington Post:
    House GOP leaders agreed last night to strip plans to permit oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in the offshore continental shelf from a $54 billion budget-cutting measure, probably securing the votes to pass the bill today.

    The move is a blow to President Bush, who has made expanded oil exploration a priority since he took office. Lawmakers said the White House applied pressure yesterday to Republicans to save the drilling provisions, especially in Alaska, even wooing conservative Democrats who have steadfastly opposed the GOP budget package...
    No word on what energy source was used to get the moderate Congressmen home, but it probably was oil.

    Peyton Knight has more on the ANWR provision the House dropped.

    Addendum: PostWatch has a photo. Two photos, actually.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:19 AM

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005


    Yet another reason not to live in San Francisco.

    One might get the impression from certain other characteristics of the city that folks there believe in personal liberty. You'd be mistaken.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:51 PM

    Trial by Jury Beats Incarceration by Fiat

    Rusty Yates, husband of the woman who drowned her five small children, claims the United States is "barbaric" for even putting the killer on trial:
    Rusty is no fan of the treatment of mentally ill patients in the United States. He says Americans don't have an accurate concept of mental illness, which becomes "very evident by the fact that many people have come out -- I mean, there have been many supporters, people who have experienced mental illness or who have some understanding. (But) many people have been against Andrea because of what she's done without understanding mental illness.

    "If you look at other countries, you know, in terms of the way we treat women in our legal system, you know, we're really barbaric compared to many other countries. In many other countries, the woman that did something like what Andrea has done would just be sent to a hospital immediately and never be tried."
    One doesn't have to "understand mental illness" to realize no single individual or government department should have the authority to determine that a killer is innocent by reason of insanity -- which, by default, is what Rusty Yates is advocating.

    The right of the accused to trial by jury is not a sign of barbarism, but civilization; even more so in a case about a crime as repellant as the one in this situation.

    Not surprisingly, Yates fails to name any countries less "barbaric" than our own.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:59 PM

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    Phyllis Schlafly v. Pentagon Feminists, with Rumsfeld as Arbiter

    Men in the military -- and fair-minded Americans generally -- should read Phyllis Schlafly's latest column. Some excerpts:
    The feminists have launched a devious attack on the U.S. Armed Services that could have a very detrimental effect on morale, retention, and recruitment...

    ...They have persuaded Rumsfeld's Community and Family Policy office to award a contract to Wellesley College Centers for Women to make recommendations about establishing an [Office of the Victim Advocate, or OVA] in the Pentagon.

    The recommendations are wholly predictable... They will call for setting up an OVA in Washington to provide feminists who major in Women's Studies with tax-funded jobs from which they can pursue worldwide feminist goals in the Armed Services and destroy the career of any man who stands in a woman's way.

    A Pentagon Office of the Victim Advocate would soon become an out-of-control agency working to implement feminist beliefs, i.e., men are batterers and women are victims, a woman's complaint or he-said-she-said allegation must be accepted as valid and acted upon while no presumption of innocence is granted to the man, the definition of domestic violence does not have to be violent or even physical, and the complaining woman must be provided with free legal and "victim services" while the man is on his own to find and hire a lawyer willing to challenge feminist anti-male orthodoxy.

    Wellesley's recommendations will doubtless include... a rule that no military man can be eligible for promotion if he has received any adverse personnel action relating to sexual misconduct or domestic violence. Another caveat is that arrest and prosecution of the man must go forward even if there is no visible indication of injury and even if the victim opposes prosecution...

    Violence against women should, of course, be aggressively prosecuted, but there is no justice when the government accepts feminist dogma that the woman is always right while the man is always wrong. Secretary Rumsfeld needs to understand that the civilian domestic-violence lobby uses a definition of domestic violence that includes facial gestures, perceived insults, put-downs, embarrassments, and other annoyances and disagreements...
    Read the whole thing here. Better yet, read it and then use the form on Phyllis's website to email a copy to someone you know.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:38 PM

    Easy Way to Reduce Gas Prices

    Dan Mitchell notes there is an easy way to reduce gas prices (but he also says Congress won't do it): Reduce the federal gas tax.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:51 PM

    New on Blogroll Today

    New on blogroll today:

    The Liberty Zone
    Ragged Thots
    Judicial Philosophy
    Foundational Patriot

    If you have this blog on your blogroll and I don't have yours, drop me a note. It might not happen immediately, but I try to reciprocate.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:53 PM

    Historic Preservation v. Property Rights?

    Peyton Knight has written a critique of the Trust for Historic Preservation, "Historically Untrustworthy: How the Trust for Historic Preservation Works Against Property Rights," for the Capital Research Center:
    "The National Park Service and others will use the National Register as a bludgeon against the property owner and trample his property rights, if they can. To them, your property, once listed, is just a 'resource'; to them, it is not a home."

    Last April homeowner Peter Blackman made this appeal to members of Congress at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on National Parks. Blackman objects to the Park Service's decision to place his home on the National Register, a federal historic designation that carries significant regulatory baggage. He says he has become a virtual tenant on his own property and that his most minor renovation plans are now subject to the review of federal bureaucrats.

    That is just the way the National Trust for Historic Preservation would have it....
    I guess some folks don't believe historic rights are as worthy of protection as historic buildings.

    Read all about this particular threat by downloading Peyton's paper here.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:35 AM

    WSJ: DDT Saves Lives

    The Wall Street Journal says DDT saves lives:
    It's horrifying enough that malaria -- a preventable and curable disease -- claims one million lives every year and that most victims are Africa's pregnant women and children under five. Compounding this tragedy, however, is the global lobbying effort against the most effective method of combating the mosquito-borne illness: spraying outdoors and inside houses with the insecticide DDT.

    Thanks to Senator Sam Brownback, among others, that could change. The Kansas Republican has been fighting to include language in an appropriations bill that would force the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) to spend more money on the spraying of DDT...

    Before granting the agency another $100 million or so for its 2006 malaria budget, Mr. Brownback wants assurances that AID will spend U.S. tax dollars on what works. We know DDT works because it's how Europe and North America successfully eradicated malaria in the 1940s. And it's how Greece and Sri Lanka and parts of South Africa combated the epidemic in later decades.

    The perception -- going back to Rachel Carson -- that DDT spraying is dangerous has long since been debunked. An Environmental Protection Agency hearing as long ago as 1972 concluded that "DDT is not carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic to man" and that "these uses of DDT [to fight malaria] do not have a deleterious effect on fish, birds, wildlife, or estuarine organisms."

    A few individuals at green outfits like the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace have grudgingly started to admit that there is a place for DDT in malaria control. But their organizations -- and the environmental community in general -- continue to oppose the use of insecticides...

    ...Mr. Brownback's efforts to correct this are meeting resistance from other Members of Congress, particularly in the House. The relevant appropriations bill is currently in House-Senate negotiations, and GOP Representative Jim Kolbe of Arizona is chief among those pushing for watered-down language. His argument is that Congress should defer to the "experts" at AID and resist "micromanaging." But if the agency has reached a point where it is allowing women and children to suffer and die rather than employ methods that work, it's time for Congress to exercise some adult supervision.
    Why don't we see Jesse Jackson working this issue?

    Get lots more information about DDT here, or check out the "malaria clock."

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:12 AM

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    Kendra Okonski: Environmentalist Priorities at Odds With Interests of Poor People

    Writing in the Bangkok Post, Kendra Okonski says climate itself is a bigger problem than climate change:
    Nearly all the alleged negative consequences of climate change are in fact problems that we face today...

    ...In most poor countries, climate -- that is to say the prevailing weather -- is a major problem....

    ...Fears about climate change are perhaps understandable in a country like Britain, where most people are well-nourished, live in comfortable homes that insulate them from the vagaries of the weather, and for whom malaria and diarrhea are nuisances to avoid when spending their holidays in tropical countries.

    But the priorities of Western environmentalists are often at odds with the interests of poor people.

    To the millions of people who live by Nature's whims, the debate on climate change is remote, if not downright surreal.

    What the poor need now is to benefit from economic development -- this alone will save them from the climate.
    Hat tip: The Commons Blog.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:32 PM

    John Kerry: Self-Sufficiency is Off the Table

    Courtesy of the The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, a quote from Senator John Kerry:
    All politics is a reaction to felt needs. You need to get people to feel the need. Our job is to make sure the right felt need is taken into consideration.
    I gather that, in the Senator's worldview, getting people to the point at which they don't actually need anything is not an option?

    Hat tip: James Taranto's Best of the Web.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:48 PM

    Collecting my Thoughts: Missing Angel

    Have you seen this stolen angel?

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:26 PM

    Sunday, November 06, 2005

    A Pro-France Revisionist View

    I received a thoughtful letter today in response to a post I wrote after publication of John Miller and Mark Molesky's book, "Our Oldest Enemy: A History of America's Disastrous Relationship with France."

    My post was less than pro-France. This gentleman speaks up for France, thoughtfully, and his letter is worth reading:
    Dear Ms. Ridenour,

    I just wanted to comment on your post regarding France and the publication of Our Oldest Enemy in 2004. I was struck by the fact that the book, while purportedly a history, turned out to be nothing more than a list of often inaccurate facts thrown together to prove the point that France is the United States' "oldest enemy." Is it not true that France was America's first ally? I was shocked and dismayed at yet another attempt to belittle France's reputation and involvement in world affairs. For one, none of America's faults, errors, or misdeeds are covered in the book; only France's. A truly responsible historian would include all the facts so as not to mislead, as the authors have done.

    Regarding noxious French policies during the French and Indian War, atrocities were committed by both sides. Members of my family in western Virginia and Pennsylvania were also victims of Indian attacks. However, this was not limited to French encouragement. Britain's Indian allies were urged to do the same in New France, modern Canada, and later, almost the entire Acadian population was expelled from its homeland, something France never did in her conquered territories, and something the authors of Our Oldest Enemy fail to mention.

    When it came to French persecution of Protestants, the same can be said for all of Europe prior to the Reformation, and many countries after. The French government never tended to slaughter innocents anymore than did those of Spain (the Reconquista,) England (under Mary I,) and Germany (the Thirty Years' War,) to mention a few.

    Finally, while it is true that France's chief reason for aiding the united American colonies in the 1770s was to stymie British expansion and prosperity, there is no need to belittle its assistance during this crucial period in American history. All countries act in their self-interests; why should France be any different? Needless to say, French involvement played a significant role in the outcome of the War of Independence. Great risks were involved for France were it to join the conflict, such as another all out war with England. And yet it still joined, and as our ally. France was there from the beginning, a time when it seemed that our Revolution was little more than some provincial revolt that would easily be crushed; from 1775-1777, it has been estimated that 90% of guns and munitions used by America came from France. The formal Alliance of 1778 only solidifed the union between America and France. This treaty did not provide "precious little." In fact, it allowed for soldiers, supplies, money, and much-needed international recognition of American independence. Seems like a lot for our supposed "oldest enemy."

    When it all boils down, the sacrifices France made for our independence are important, to say the least. Hundreds of French soldiers died in America in the fighting. Dozens are buried at Yorktown, considered the final showdown between Britain and the colonies. Ironically, French troops at Yorktown outnumbered their American allies, both on land and sea. France's recognition of American independence was a momentous and uncertain move; there was no sign that other countries would agree, and it would only provoke further British hostility. France did it anyway. Finally, the money loaned by France to America, which amounted to millions of dollars, was never repaid. Some ally we were for France. That sum played the most important factor in the fiscal crisis which would soon in part spark the French Revolution in 1789. The United States, ironically, attempted to ignore France during that time, despite its major involvement in our revolution and, and argued that the loan was invalid (since the king had been executed). I think these facts are worth recognizing, and far more important than the "information" contained within the pages of Our Oldest Enemy.

    Thank you very much,

    Philippe Halbert
    Food for thought.

    Addendum: Roger Simon posts an e-mail from France containing pro-American anecdotes. Some additional sentiment favorable to France can be found in this post on my blog commemorating the 60th anniversary of D-Day -- another post in which I am indebted to a thoughtful and interesting e-mail correspondent.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:06 AM

    Health Care Quiz

    In the paragraph below, a doctor is speaking at the inquest of a woman who died of an untreated perforated bowel.

    Question: Is the doctor a first world doctor working in a third world country, or a third world doctor working in a first world country?
    In my country, if you thought a patient may be suffering from a perforated bowel, you would send them to surgery because I was taught that even if they do not have a perforated bowel, you have done nothing wrong, in fact you have done the right thing.
    Answer: A third world doctor visiting a first world country. The doctor is fom Ghana; the patient died in the UK.

    Story here.

    Hat tip: Kevin, M.D.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:03 AM

    Saturday, November 05, 2005

    Bridge to Nowhere May Lead Us Somewhere Yet

    Looks like the "bridge to nowhere" is becoming a government waste anecdote for the ages. Take this paragraph from the Washington Post:
    Lawmakers say voters are stopping them back home to ask whether the "Bridge to Nowhere" is a joke or whether it actually exists. It is no joke. The project, championed by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), would link tiny Ketchikan, with a population of 8,900, with its airport on Gravina Island -- population 50.
    Maybe, if w keep the pressure up enough, the "bridge to nowhere" can help lead us to fiscal responsibility.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:13 AM

    Judge Alito Puts His Cards on the Table

    This Washington Post article by Charles Babington shows Judge Alito isn't afraid to say what he believes:
    In private meetings with senators, Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. has shown a willingness to discuss key issues -- a potentially risky strategy that so far seems to be serving him well, several senators said.

    On contentious issues including privacy, property rights and public displays of religious beliefs, Alito has been more willing to share personal or judicial thoughts than were recently confirmed Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and White House counsel Harriet Miers, whose nomination was withdrawn, these senators said.

    Alito stopped short of signaling how he might rule on cases before the court, they said, but he seemed less worried that insights into his thinking might be used against him...
    A public debate on these matters is good for the republic. This also is in Alito's and the Administration's interest: Judge Alito is showing confidence and competence. Strength of this kind earns respect, which can translate into confirmation votes.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:05 AM

    The Paragraph Farmer: Threatening Omar Sharif?

    Via Paragraph Farmer, a story on the Counterterrorism Blog that may be of striking interest to Christians.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:02 AM

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    Next Up for an Award: The U.N. Itself

    The United Nations has given an award for "understanding between cultures and the advancement of peace" to a man who two years ago publicly said of Greeks and Jews:
    Today, we can say that these little people are the root of evil.
    I guess the U.N. forgot that most institutions honor only positive and truthful understandings between cultures.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:24 PM

    Bill O'Reilly is Unlikely to Return the Favor

    Al Franken is disappointed.

    He didn't catch Bill O'Reilly in a lie (about the latter's roots in modest Levittown, New York).

    Bill is unlikely to return the favor.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:58 PM

    Senate Priorities

    President Bush said today he is "disappointed" that the Senate won't start Judge Samuel Alito's confirmation hearing until after the new year.

    Me, too, Mr. President, but look at the good side: At least the Senators at the hearing will look tanned and rested.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:29 PM

    Happy Anniversary, Reaganites!

    Jim Pinkerton reminds us that today is the 25th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's election to the presidency.

    Let's all toast the Gipper tonight.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:56 PM

    Michael Steele: Getting Thomased

    Just as conservative Supreme Court candidates risk being Borked, black conservative candidates get Thomased -- that is, assaulted on account of their race instead of debated on account of their views.

    Project 21 is on the case of reaction to verbal and physical attacks on Maryland's Lt. Governor Michael Steele, who is black and conservative, and who apparently believes that the Emancipation Proclamation applied to minds as well as bodies.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:03 AM

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    Avian Flu Update II

    Despite an ominous indication that avian flu had reached Sweden, it turns out a sick Swedish seagull didn't have avian flu after all.

    It was just drunk.

    In related news, plans for flu quarantines at U.S. university frat houses have been cancelled.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:00 PM

    Avian Flu Update I

    Sean at Everything I Know Is Wrong has the skinny on the Avian Flu -- with a twist. His information is seven years old.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:31 PM

    Working in December Would Just Be Too Droll

    The U.S. Senate has announced that the hearing into the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court will begin sometime during the period of January 9 through January 13.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:55 PM

    Work, Please

    Some Senators want the Alito confirmation hearing (why do news organizations keep writing "hearings" in the plural? -- there is only one hearing planned) delayed until January.

    From the AP:
    Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito courted Senate support in assembly-line fashion Thursday as the White House pressed for confirmation by year's end. A key Republican suggested instead that hearings would begin in January...
    Here's a key reason for Senate support for a delayed hearing: Protecting an extended Christmas recess.

    Most American workers get a day or two off at Christmas. It wouldn't kill the Senators to be in the same situation.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:46 PM

    People Don't Think With Their Skin

    Project 21 members are telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Clarence Thomas is not a legislator, and, anyway, brains determine views, not skin tone.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:23 AM

    Pennsylvania Legislators Repeal Stealth Pay Raise

    Grassroots Pennsylvanians appear to have won. From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
    State legislators, heeding a loud outcry from an angry public, last night voted overwhelmingly to repeal the 16 percent to 34 percent pay raise they approved in July.

    The Senate voted first, 50-0, to strike down the increase.

    The House, near midnight, voted 196-2 to do the same thing...

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:03 AM

    Uh Oh

    Uh oh.

    I agree with John Kerry.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:01 AM

    Speaker, Blogger

    Denny Hastert has updated his blog. Looks like the real deal.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:03 AM

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Mr. Grumpy-Pants

    At least until he cheers up, this is a pretty accurate nickname for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

    (Based on the photo on the TMH's Bacon Bits blog, I think Senator Reid would be a natural to cast as Scrooge.)

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:35 PM

    Babies Make You Smarter?

    Does parenthood make you smarter? A Boston Globe article says:
    ...a new body of research -- so far still mostly in animals -- is fueling the idea that motherhood may actually rewire the brain, making mothers (and involved fathers) more perceptive, competitive, efficient, and even socially aware. And sociological studies suggest that most of the symptoms of 'mommy brain' may be due as much to exhaustion and stress as biology...

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:03 PM

    WMDs: Found 'Em

    From Bizzy Blog on WMDs, a blog post worth repeating.

    Addendum: After I posted the above, I received an email from Tom at BizzyBlog saying in part: "Since you linked over, a commenter challenged me to find 'actual news' sources for each of the items listed, and I did. So there are underlined links in the body of the post and specific references with dates listed in Update 2 at the post." I'm partial also to what Tom added to the top of his post, which includes: "...I'm sick and bleeping tired of the absurdity of the 'no WMD' argument, the failure of the Mainstream Media to read their own news reports over the past two-plus years our forces have been in Iraq (and the 7-plus years since The Clinton Administration made the same WMD claims... and the failure of this administration and the congressional majority to defend itself on the topic."

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:59 AM

    For Once, the Right Will be Quoting the Left

    Expect to see this Los Angeles Times article about liberal lawyers who are fans of Judge Samuel Alito quoted early and often.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:48 AM

    We Thought You Knew

    The Washington Post asks:
    The problem for the Republicans is that, now that they're the elite, who are they going to denounce for elitism?
    Answer: The elite media, naturally.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:19 AM

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

    Mace Might Be Called For

    Why did the Senators have to dim their lights to have a closed session?

    Did anyone keep a flashlight centered on Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd?

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:33 PM

    Captain's Quarters: Greenpeace Harms Coral Reefs

    Captain Ed thinks Greenpeace should stop harming coral reefs.

    Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:26 AM

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