Saturday, December 31, 2005

"Remarkable" Expert Testimony to be Archived by Medical Association

The American Academy of Emergency Medicine, concerned about "physicians who seem willing to make any statement, no matter how outrageous, in support of a malpractice claim [in order to] profit handsomely," has created a new archive of remarkable testimony.

The group is asking its members to submit examples of testimony that is especially "farfetched, unbelievable or just plain wrong," as well as especially insighful or helpful testimony.

The group has so far listed one case, in which a St. Louis doctor testified to three "facts" the group considered unreliable.

Hat tip: DrTony and Kevin, M.D.. There are some pretty strong opinions about the case in the comments section on Kevin, M.D.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:16 PM

Serving Justice

Wouldn't be nice if the "nearly a dozen current and former officials" who supposedly talked with the New York Times about classified wiretapping operations simply turned themselves in?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:00 PM

Mark Tapscott: Illegal Leaks Endangering Lives

Mark Tapscott hits the nail on the head in regards to recent high-profile national security-related leaks to news organizations:
This time around there is no question about serious crimes having been committed and only the most blindly obstinate professor of journalism will insist on the right of the relevant journalists at the Times, Post and elsewhere to protect the guilty parties.

I am generally a supporter of the strongest possible shield laws for journalists, but in these newest cases it seems most likely there will be no such legitimate place to afford cover for the recipients of the illegal leaks that almost certainly damaged national security and endangered the lives of thousands, possibly millions, of Americans.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:30 AM

Friday, December 30, 2005

Galen Institute: Europe Reduces Commitment to Medical Research

"Just a decade ago, more than two-thirds of all drug research was conducted in Europe. Now, 60% is conducted in the United States," says Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute, who blames deliberate government policies in nations that have adopted socialized medicine.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:05 PM

NCPA: Reducing Retirement Age

The National Center for Policy Analysis takes a look at a National Bureau of Economic Research study on the fiscal implications, in 12 countries, of raising hte retirement age.

Amazingly, they are discussing raising it only to 65.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:58 PM

Heritage Policy Blog: Morality of Social Security Reform

The Heritage Foundation Policy Blog, citing Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post, addresses the morality of Social Security reform.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:53 PM

Tax-Subsidized Lobbying on Social Security

Writing for the National Legal and Policy Center, John Carlisle describes how the main group opposing Social Security rescue and modernization received over $80 million from five federal departments last year.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:34 PM

Eminent Domain Abuse -- Again

The Indianapolis Star reports on yet another eminent domain abuse case: This time, a family business that has been operating since 1938 is being threatened so a sports stadium can have a larger parking lot.

Hat tip: Radley Balko.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:19 PM

Inverse Law of Global Warm-Mongering

Tim Blair has invented a new law, the "Inverse Law of Global Warm-Mongering."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:41 PM

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Advantages of Nuclear Power - A Debate

Those interested in energy development, energy independence, clean energy and/or global warming may be interested in a debate about the advantages and feasibility of nuclear energy ongoing presently in Scientific American and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Writing in the December Scientific American (go here for a pdf of the article sent to me by the authors), physicists William Hannun, Gerald Marsh and George Stanford say the U.S. is missing out on a global trend as as more people worldwide are realizing nuclear power "may be the most environmentally-friendly way to generate large amounts of electricity."

Furthermore, they write:
If developed sensibly, nuclear power could be truly sustainable and essentially inexhaustible and could operate without contributing to climate change. In particular, a relatively new form of nuclear technology could overcome the principal drawbacks of current methods - namely, worries about reactor accidents, the potential for diversion of nuclear fuel into highly destructive weapons, the management of dangerous, long-lived radioactive waste, and the depletion of global reserves of economically available uranium.
After public policy consultant Tom Randall described key aspects of the Hannum/Marsh/Stanford thesis in a piece for the Chicago Sun-Times, Edwin Lyman, senior staff scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote to the paper with a contrary view. Marsh and Stanford then responded.

Addendum: John Rennie, editor-in-chief of Scientific American, writes about the Hannum/Marsh/Stanford article on the Scientific American blog here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:10 PM

Executed at Vorkuta

Jon Basil Utley has a striking story (PDF file) in The Freeman, available on the Foundation for Economic Education website.

The story begins:
My father, Arcadi Berdichevsky, was executed at Vorkuta on the Arctic Circle in the Soviet Union on March 30, 1938.
Worth reading in full, especially if you are too young to remember the Cold War, or aren't too young, but never focused on it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:47 AM

Bursting 'Housing Bubble' Reports are Hype, Says Media Research Center

The nearly 70 percent of all Americans who are homeowners may be interested in this Media Research Center report puncturing reports of a bursting housing bubble.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:31 AM

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Andrei Illarionov Offers Resignation

Andrei Illarionov is out of the Putin Administration.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:20 PM

Captain's Quarters on Rhetorical Equivalents

Captain's Quarters reports on a case of European "hot gas with almost no substance at all."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:21 AM

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Unto You Is Born This Day

Luke 2: 1-14

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem (because he was of the house and lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Soldier's Holiday Essay

Joe Roche writes:
It is Christmas time, Hanukah, and the New Year is just around the corner. I ask you to think of our soldiers and how our Republic gives us such virtue in serving our nation. I have spent this time of year deployed in Baghdad and I can tell you that though there will be huge efforts made to make the soldiers feel holiday cheer, nothing can really ease the personal sacrifice involved. Except, that is, to behold anew what it is we endeavor to achieve as Americans, soldiers and civilians alike.

Ours is the most noble and righteous country the world has ever seen. We are slow to go to war, perhaps too slow when enemies of the peace prepare to attack. This is because we do not seek war. Our history is full of times when America did not respond to conflict, did not participate in an on-going war, and did not quash a tyrant when threats were made. This is because ours is a democracy, based on the rule of law, grounded upon a brilliant constitution that preserves the ultimate checks on the abuse of power, while always celebrating the time-honored changes of leadership by elections.

Struggling to create this great republic, Thomas Paine wrote, "man is not the enemy of man, but through the medium of a false system of government." Therefore, the Founding Fathers, recognizing that there is a higher divine authority not of this earth, laid the foundations of justice, legislation and leadership upon a system of checks and balances, augmented by the separation of powers.

Into this troubled world where repression and tyranny have been the norm, America has given hope to billions. Now, as President George W. Bush said after the attacks of September 11th, 2001, "the commitment of our fathers is the calling of our time." This is because the 21st century is seeing the rise of very dangerous regimes and terrorist organizations seeking weapons of mass destruction.

We can no longer wait for threats to become imminent. Human civilization depends upon our victory in the War on Terror. Yet, as agonizing as the political debate has become over Iraq and all that is involved, I believe we have reason to be confident, positive and very hopeful. We are, after all, doing the right thing as Americans.

The American Revolution created a republic of laws built upon respect for the liberty of the individual. This foundation has survived through tragedies such as the divisive bloodshed of the Civil War and the humiliating end of the Vietnam War. And because this country continues to be an expression of individual liberty, America, in essence, represents the human spirit among the affairs of nations. Thus, we have a duty, unlike any other nation at any other time, to stand for what is just and right. Ronald Reagan challenged us on this "rendezvous with history": "We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope for man on earth."

This is a time of immense challenge. I'm not talking about soldiering overseas, but rather about the challenges we face here at home in America to hold our resolve and our virtues.

"Enduring peace cannot be bought at the cost of other people's freedom," as Franklin Roosevelt recognized during the peak of Japan and Germany's aggression. He emphasized that America must be ready to act as "an arsenal" for people struggling against tyranny. With this principle in mind, Roosevelt concluded, "we will not be intimidated by the threats of dictators (against) our aid to the democracies which dare to resist their aggression."

We are in such a time again, and we can't avoid it no matter how much we may wish it to be over. "No peace can last, or ought to last," Woodrow Wilson stressed, "which does not recognize and accept the principle that governments derive all their just powers from the consent of the governed." Wilson, who was a pacifist, hated war, and desperately wanted to avoid it at all costs, belatedly understood America's moral role in combating injustice declaring that "right is more precious than peace."

Perhaps in the past we could wait until threats hit our shores. No longer. The terrorist threat is upon us, fed by large swaths of the planet in the trauma of tyranny, depredations and false ideologies. Some suggest peace can be had by turning our backs and not being provocative. It only needs to be pointed out that on September 11th, 2001, we weren't in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the U.S. under Bill Clinton had pushed hard to achieve peace in the Middle East for years while that atrocity was being planned.

Thus we have a choice. It truly is between victory or defeat, because our enemies seek the destruction of our very way of life, and if you listen to what they say, our annihilation.

Teddy Roosevelt gave us guidance: "A milk-and-water righteousness unbacked by force is to the full as wicked as and even more mischievous than force divorced from righteousness." Our military missions are absolutely critical to our own security as well as the prosperity and hopes for millions in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Our goals to bring democracy to those parts of the world must go hand-in-hand. It isn't vengeance, but virtue that we are all about.

America did not conquer and take parts of Europe and Japan after World War II. Instead, we liberated them, returned their nations to them, and gave them hope and prosperity such as they had never seen before. From this, we gained our own security and peace with them. "True security does not come from empire and domination," explained George H.W. Bush. "True security can only be found in the growing trust of free peoples."

Our values and security overlap with people's basic search for happiness in every corner of the globe. America's role as moral leader is a revolutionary ideal for the world. Throughout history, no such power has found contentment in the peaceful prospering of others to the same extent as does the United States. For this, we can be supremely proud. As Americans, we have a natural obligation as world leaders.

We must seize the moment of our brief lifetimes and stand up for what is right in the world. This we are doing today. The full burden of this, of course, falls mostly on our soldiers at this time of war. Those deployed are missing their families and homes. They know, though, that theirs is a vital mission, very real to our own security, and critical to the future well-being of civilization.

President Bush last Sunday asked us not to despair and lose hope. This would be, I think, a silly thing to do. While the news is so negative from Iraq, bear in mind that the realities on the ground there are actually far better and more hopeful. Polls taken of the Iraqi people found seventy percent feeling hopeful for their future and positive toward the U.S. mission there. Unemployment is down fifty percent from a couple years ago under Saddam's tyranny, average income is up thirty percent, and nearly all of the violence is occurring in just four of Iraq's eighteen provinces. It is wrong to lose hope. Instead, there is tremendous reason to be proud.

My wife and I periodically visit wounded soldiers at Walter Reed. Let me close by sharing another quote from Teddy Roosevelt that is popular there among the soldiers and speaks directly to all of us as we struggle with the political debates:
It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.


Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:36 AM

Friday, December 23, 2005

Tossing $930 Million Down a Rat Hole

From Peyton Knight:
The World Bank has agreed to pay two Chinese chemical companies $930 million in exchange for the companies' promise to reduce their future greenhouse gas emissions in the name of fighting global warming.

The two companies apparently have agreed to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 19 million tons a year for an unspecified period of time. The World Bank says the deal is good through at least 2012, but it hasn't disclosed the end date. The goal is to get China to reduce its emissions.

Of course, China is exempt from any mandatory emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol so it has no reason to do so - unless you toss nearly a billion dollars its way.

Ju Kuilin, Deputy Director General of China's International Department at the Ministry of Finance, had this to say about the deal: "The Government of China attaches a high priority to participation in global efforts under the Kyoto Protocol. We are glad that it has been possible to bring forward this project, which we expect will make a significant contribution to these efforts, with two companies from Jiangsu Province." 930 million dollars tends to generate enthusiasm for Kyoto where there was no enthusiasm before.

Kuilin's government reportedly gets 65 percent of the $930 million ($604.5 million) to invest in "projects related to climate change." We'll see if that money actually makes it to its intended destination. China's never been big on Kyoto, and government earmarks (especially large ones) have ways of straying from their intended paths.

It's worth noting that U.S. is the single largest contributor to the World Bank, giving hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:55 PM

Polar Express and Jim Glassman's Secret Warm Spot

Jim Glassman doesn't care for the children's Santa Claus movie "Polar Express," but our three kindergarteners love it (which is somewhat ironic, since the screenwriter for Polar Express once sent a less-than-warm letter to this blog). One of my sons even asked for sneakers with "Polar Express" characters on them for Christmas.

What strikes me about Jim Glassman's screed against Santa Claus movies is this: He's seen them. I think a man who can write "what rot" about "Miracle on 34th Street," a movie he credibly could have seen as a child, wouldn't have wasted time and possibly money to watch their modern-day cousins. Yet he knows the Polar Express plotline better than I, the driver of a minivan in which the movie is constantly playing, and the plotlines of other recent Santa films as well.

I think Jim Glassman has a secret warm spot for schmaltzy Santa movies. What I wonder is: Why deny it?

Must be a guy thing.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:52 PM

Munich Widows

A sad story about the Israeli athletes in Munich, as told to a San Francisco Chronicle reporter by two of the widows.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:24 PM

A Lesbian Fixation

Young America's Foundation has posted a list of America's "most bizarre and politically correct college courses."

Like Howard Stern, the American university system seems to have a fixation on Lesbians.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:20 PM

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Voting Against Us in the UN

Human Events Online has a list of the ten countries that vote against us the most in the United Nations.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:29 AM

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Fight Goes On

This is very disappointing.

The murdered sailor, Robert Stethem, was only 22 when he was killed -- singled out by terrorists because he served in the U.S. military. Thanks to the Hezbollah hijackers who hijacked TWA Flight 847, he died in pain and missed nearly all his adult life.

Debbie Schlussel has an update from this summer, "TWA 847, 20 Years Later." In it, she chronicles how Robert Stethem's murderers mostly got off scot-free, while politicians make nice-nice with his killers and their benefactors.

Schlussel's article also contains this:
...Robert Stethem was an American hero, who refused to denounce the United States while being tortured to death by Hezbollah murderers. As his brother, Ken, so eloquently said, "Every time I look at the flag now and for the rest of my life, the red will represent the blood he spilled, the blue the beating and bruises he endured, and the white the purity and integrity he demonstrated in sacrificing his life."
Robert Stethem's parents both served in the Navy; his father for 26 years. His brother Ken served in the Navy for 20 years, including as a Navy SEAL.

The U.S. Navy has named a destroyer in honor of Robert Stethem, and has his biography here.

Here's a speech by then-President Ronald Reagan after the release of the TWA 847 hostages:
...this is no moment for celebration. Let it be clearly understood that the seven Americans still held captive in Lebanon must be released along with other innocent hostages from other countries; that the murderers of Robert Stethem and of our marines and civilians in El Salvador must be held accountable; that those responsible for terrorist acts throughout the world must be taken on by civilized nations; that the international community must ensure that all our airports are safe and that civil air travel is safeguarded; and that the world must unite in taking decisive action against terrorists, against nations that sponsor terrorists, and against nations that give terrorists safe haven.

This drama has reminded us how precious and fragile are the freedoms and standards of decency of civilized societies; how greatly civilized life depends on trust in other human beings; but how those values we hold most dear must also be defended with bravery -- a bravery that may lie quiet and deep, but that will rise to answer our call in every time of peril. Freedom, democracy, and peace have enemies; they must also have steadfast friends.

The United States gives terrorists no rewards and no guarantees. We make no concessions; we make no deals. Nations that harbor terrorists undermine their own stability and endanger their own people. Terrorists, be on notice, we will fight back against you, in Lebanon and elsewhere. We will fight back against your cowardly attacks on American citizens and property...

We will remember and offer our thanks to all who helped us and who stood with us. And, yes, we'll remember those who did not. We will not rest until justice is done. We will not rest until the world community meets its responsibility.... And we call upon the world community to strengthen its cooperation to stamp out this ugly, vicious evil of terrorism.
The fight goes on.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:34 PM

Squaring the Boston Globe: Bring Back Saddam!

Squaring the Boston Globe blog notes a case of the Boston Globe making lemons out of lemonade.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:09 PM

Black History Month: Making It Superfluous

While I appreciate the logic behind Morgan Freeman's opinion of Black History Month, I believe the point of that particular commemoration is to make sure black history gets covered at all.

However, if we were to teach history (all history) rigorously in this country, which we do not now do, this special attention provided by Black History Month would become superfluous.

I vote for that option.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:28 AM

Monday, December 19, 2005

Thank A Soldier Week Started Today

Thank A Soldier Week officially began today.

Go to this webpage to easily send a message of thanks using the online form. Over 34,000 thank you messages have been collected to-date!

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:25 PM

Larry King on Black Conservatives

I was going through some files from 1993, and ran into a paragraph in a Project 21 activity report from that year that I thought I'd share on the blog, since the man who said it (somehow) remains on national television:
Soon after [Rush] Limbaugh ran clips of the press conference on television, a caller to the Larry King radio program mentioned Project 21 on the air. Never having heard of the project, Larry King made several snide remarks, saying that black conservatives must "meet in a phone booth," black conservatives are just people who "want to be white," and that to be a black conservative is equivalent to being "a Jewish anti-Semite."
Let us all be grateful that Larry King usually deals with topics that don't matter to anyone, and hope that, 12 years later, he's at least a little bit wiser.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:19 PM

ANWR: To Drill or Not to Drill? There is No Question

Peyton Knight is weighing in on ANWR:
As the debate over whether to drill for oil in a tiny, desolate portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) grows - however improbably - even more contentious, it is important to remember that honest debate must be properly framed.

Opponents of ANWR drilling claim we are faced with a difficult decision. We can either drill for oil in ANWR or protect the Arctic Refuge. That's it. Do you want oil? Or do you want wildlife? You can't have both.

This is a false dichotomy. We can have both. And judging by our nation's ever increasing reliance on foreign oil from politically unstable portions of the globe, we must have both.

Trying to explain to a tie-dyed-in-the-wool "green" environmentalist that drilling for oil in ANWR won't harm the environment is like trying to convince a 5-year-old that there is no Santa Claus. The evidence may be clear, but he just won't believe it.

In 1999, the Clinton Administration's energy department confirmed that oil exploration and drilling in ANWR can be done in an environmentally friendly manner. Under the current proposal before the House and Senate, drilling would be confined to an infinitesimal 0.01% of ANWR's total acreage. Lateral drilling technology permits extractions of oil horizontally from the point of entry on the surface.

Roads and airstrips needed to transport equipment in and out of ANWR don't pose a threat to the environment. They would be constructed of ice: When the ice melts in the warmer spring months, the roads and airstrips vanish.

The environmental movement has made the ANWR issue the equivalent of a "poster child," using it in appeals for fundraising and political support.

The environmental movement has clamored for years for greater reliance on solar and wind power, with the result that these sources of energy now supply a miniscule 0.19 percent of America's total energy. They are not, at this time, a substitute for oil.

ANWR represents a real test for Republican leadership. Early returns are not good. First, a handful of anti-drilling Republicans in the House effectively stopped ANWR from being part of the House/Senate budget reconciliation bill, legislation that would have had immunity from a Senate filibuster. Republican leaders abandoned this vehicle, and are now attaching ANWR to the 2006 defense spending bill. Though the House recently approved its version of the defense bill with ANWR attached, Senate approval is much less certain, and filibuster rules apply.

In the meantime, Americans continue to thirst for affordable energy. The U.S. currently imports roughly 60 percent of the oil it consumes. and oil imports account for one-third of the U.S. trade deficit.

The U.S. Department of Energy notes on its website:

"Our dependence upon oil, especially foreign oil, affects our economy and our national energy security. Today, over half of the oil we use is imported... Most of the world's oil reserves are concentrated in the Middle East, and over two-thirds are controlled by OPEC members. Oil price shocks and price manipulation by OPEC have cost our economy dearly -- about $7 trillion from 1979 to 2000... and each major price shock was followed by a recession. With growing U.S. imports and increasing world dependence on OPEC oil, future price shocks are possible..."

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there could be as many as 11.8 billion barrels of oil beneath ANWR's coastal plain. This is no insignificant amount, and recovering and processing this oil would create many new jobs; anywhere from low estimates in the tens of thousands to a high estimate of over two million.

Given our growing dependence on foreign oil and the predicted spike in heating costs this winter, it would be plainly irresponsible for Congress to cower to green caterwauling and put America's energy security on hold-where it's been for decades. The only thing harmed by drilling in ANWR is green self-esteem, not the environment.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:30 PM

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Top Ten Economic Myths of 2005

The Free Market Project of the media research Center has released an interesting list: the "Media's Top 10 Economic Myths of 2005."

It is well done, and worth a look.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:13 AM

Human Events Online: Corporations Funding Alito Opponents

This Human Events Online article by Timothy Carney caught my eye:
Wal-Mart, Ford Motor Co., AT&T, and Fannie Mae are among the major U.S. corporations whose foundations fund the liberal groups now waging war against Samuel Alito.

The left-wing Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary has launched a series of advertisements aimed at defeating Alito. The group describes itself as "a national coalition of public interest organizations," and includes NARAL Pro-Choice America, the NAACP, the National Organization for Women, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State among others. The Alliance for Justice, People For the American Way, and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights head the coalition.

Many of these groups are very well-funded, getting most of their money from foundations. Among the foundations bankrolling them are the philanthropic arms of many of America's largest corporations.

The AT&T Foundation, for example...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:08 AM

Friday, December 16, 2005

CRESA: Property Rights at Risk In Senate

Property rights advocates who thought they could relax after the House voted 229-193 September 29 for much-needed relief to small property owners who have shouldered the enormous financial burden of the Endangered Species Act, think again:
Senator Crapo's Endangered Species Act Reform Effort Bad for Property Owners and Species

Washington, D.C. - Yesterday Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced an Endangered Species Act (ESA) reform bill that he claims will offer "incentives" to property owners to help recover endangered species. However, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research, the "Collaboration and Recovery of Endangered Species Act" (CRESA) offers perks to large landowners and developers at the expense of small property owners and rare species.

"Senator Crapo's contribution to property rights is like Britain's contribution to fine cuisine - a contribution best not made," said David Ridenour, vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research.

According to the Liberty Matters News Service, just three years ago, in defense of his position on another property rights issue, Senator Crapo wrote: "My record in Congress includes attempts to get direct financial payments to private property owners who suffer a loss in property valuation due to threats from federal agencies over endangered species or other wildlife issues."

Yet Senator Crapo's ESA bill does not offer any direct payments to American landowners whose land values are harmed due to endangered species regulations. Instead, CRESA establishes a system whereby landowners are forced to sign away property rights in return for tax credits.

"The House of Representatives recently passed an ESA reform bill that promises to give property owners 100 percent direct compensation for their lost rights. Incredibly, Senator Crapo's bill seeks to undo this," said Peyton Knight, director of environmental and regulatory affairs for The National Center. "For property rights advocates, CRESA snatches defeat from the jaws of victory."

Since its enactment in 1973, the ESA has penalized landowners for good stewardship. Farmers, ranchers, tree farmers, homeowners and others who harbor endangered species or habitat on their property are subjected to severe land-use restrictions that can lead to economic ruin. In much of rural America, the ESA has unnecessarily turned landowners and endangered species into enemies. In order to prevent their property from falling under the ESA's land-use controls, landowners have preemptively "sterilized" their land to rid it of species and habitat.

"Unfortunately, Senator Crapo's ESA bill fails to fix this disastrous law," said National Center Senior Fellow R.J. Smith. "It would remain bad for people and bad for species. Rather than creating a win-win situation by ending the taking of property of good stewards, he tries to make a broken Act work by adorning it with gimmicks - much like the futile efforts of Ptolemaic astronomy to save an Earth-centered universe. It will fail, until Congress creates an ESA built on the use of property rights as the basis for species recovery. Ten years ago Rep. Crapo cosponsored the Shadegg bill, which would have worked voluntarily with private landowners. What happened? It's time to save America's small landowners and homeowners as well as species and their habitat."

CRESA would offer tax incentives for approved conservation efforts, but for property owners to receive tax credits equal to their full costs (lost fair market value plus out-of-pocket conservation program expenses), they must enter binding agreements of not less than 99 years. And, as this is only a tax credit, even a 99-year commitment wouldn't be enough for property owners to get back all of their costs.

"This scheme would make even Charles Ponzi blush," said David Ridenour. "It promises only a partial return on investment, yet saddles a future generation with regulatory requirements."

CRESA also includes a provision that would establish an ill-defined conservation credit trading mechanism to permit landowners to earn credits for conservation efforts that could either be applied toward other development projects or sold on the open market.

The National Center believes such a mechanism poses risks to both species and property owners.

"Landowners who earn credits would have a vested interest in increasing the value of their credits," said Knight. "The value can be increased by either more stringent regulation or reduced species populations that require a reduction in the number of credits available."

Ridenour adds: "In the classic film 'It's a Wonderful Life,' George Bailey asks Mr. Potter if it is too much to have people 'work, pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath' of their own. Judging from Senator Crapo's ESA bill, he apparently thinks it is too much to ask."

"Furthermore," said Ridenour, "In 'It's a Wonderful Life' George Bailey is given the opportunity to see what life would have been like had he never been born. After seeing his old boss a penniless drunk, his mother destitute, his uncle in an insane asylum, his wife a hopeless spinster, his brother's tombstone and his quaint hometown a place of decadence, he begs God to allow him to 'live again.' We've had a chance to see what the ESA would be without property rights. Let species and property rights live again..."
The press release can be found here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:11 AM

Peer Review -- Or Scant Review?

Those who are wondering how the stem cell scandal could possibly have occured (the apparently-falsified study appeared in the respected journal Science, after all!) should read this post on the Climate Audit blog.

Some excerpts:
It is unheard of for a peer reviewer to actually check the data and calculations. In 2004, I was asked by a journal... to peer review an article. I asked to see the source code and supporting calculations. The editor said that no one had ever asked for such things in 28 years of his editing the journal. He refused to ask for source code; the author refused to provide supporting calculations...

I've found that scientists strongly resent any attempt to verify their results. One of the typical reactions is: don't check our studies, do your own study. I don't think that businesses like being checked either, but one of the preconditions of being allowed to operate is that they are checked. Many of the most highly paid professionals in our society - securities lawyers, auditors - earn much of their income simply by verifying other people's results...
Read it all. You will never feel the same when you hear the words "peer reviewed" again.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:30 AM

Thursday, December 15, 2005

ANWR: A Special Session of Congress Might Spur a Decision

Folks on the Hill are saying Congress may not act on ANWR this year.

Same as last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, etcetera.

Husband David has been saying that President Bush would serve the country well if he told Congress he'll use his Constitutional authority to call Congress back into special session if Congress doesn't settle the ANWR issue one way or another.

For Bush, it looks like a winning strategy, as it would cast him as a decisive leader on an issue important for both pocketbook and national security reasons. It also would help the President tell Congress that, even though he's vetoed no bills as yet, he 's not the patsy they may think he is when it comes to dealing with Congress.

It would be interesting to see how many Congressmen who appreciate the opportunity to look "green" in their press releases would give that PR benefit up to save their Christmas vacation.

The country shouldn't have to take "no action" as a Congress' answer on a critical issue year after year after year. Enough already! Be a Grinch, Mr. Bush.

Addendum, 12/16/05: George Will says: A quarter of a century of this tactic applied to ANWR is about 24 years too many."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:57 PM

Media Shield Laws and the Case of KPRC in Houston

Dale Lezon of the Houston Chronicle interviewed me the other day about a pending court hearing in Houston.

TV station KPRC-TV is attempting to squash a subpoena from the Harris County, TX DA's office requiring the station to surrender unaired videotape relating to DA investigations. KPRC-TV says the surrender of its unaired videotape would violate freedom of the press.

I believe the station has a citizens' responsibility to cooperate with law enforcement, not only for the purpose of helping to combat crime, but also to help protect innocent people from false accusations or convictions.

Freedom of the press is a good thing, but so is freedom itself. What if the evidence the station withheld contained something that would exonerate someone who otherwise appeared guilty? Is the station's freedom of the press (something, in a broadcast station's case, that already is limited by the FCC) more important than that individual's personal freedom? I'm sure there are reporters who would say so, but I think they are wrong.

And what if the station's evidence -- evidence the station wants to withhold -- would be key to the conviction of someone who, without the conviction, would go on to harm others? Is the station's "freedom of the press" (in quotes because the station remains free to publish these materials, so in a real sense its freedom to publish is unabridged) a higher priority than the safety and security of the citizenry? Not to me.

The news media will tell you that it needs to be free to investigate crimes and corruption. I agree -- but not to the point of compromising justice or setting itself above other individual and corporate citizens.

Addendum: Mark Tapscott has an informative and carefully crafted (but nonetheless, wrongheaded!) response covering shield laws generally and Mike Pence's proposed federal shield law on his blog.

I'm kidding -- it's not completely wrongheaded, but I believe Mark elevates journalists past the point of good public policy. In good time, I'll post a more detailed response.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:08 AM

365 and a Wakeup: New Set of Wheels

A nice story about a little Iraqi boy and some Americans, thanks (in more ways than one) to the 365 and a Wakeup milblog.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:10 AM

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Mitey Ridiculous

Via Ann's Fuse Box comes news of a story about a British fireman who sued his fire department after slipping on "unseen dust."

The fireman won a fairly large sum, and as a result, his firehouse has banned use of exercise machines by employees.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:43 PM

FOIA Reform News

Mark Tapscott is reporting some breaking news on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reform front.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:53 PM

The Commons Blog: Environmental Laws Lead to Ban on Death

Who says environmentalists are anti-people? In Brazil, a new law has caused one town's mayor to propagate the most pro-people plan possible. (Say that three times fast.).

The Commons Blog explains how a regulation imposed by Brazil's National Environment Council led Biritiba Mirim Mayor Roberto Pereira da Silva to propose a law banning death.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:44 PM

A Weak and Feeble Woman

Richard Reeb, writing on The Claremont Institute's the Remedy blog, says: "In plain words, women need men's strength and resolution, even as men need women's civilizing."

If men truly needed to be "civilized" by women, how could we accomplish it without "strength and resolution"? We'd just give up. And why not? Who needs a wild animal in the house?

More realistically, if a man doesn't pick up his socks, he needs self-discipline, not a woman. (Indeed, he hasn't earned a woman.)

As for men having more "strength and resolution": Only if you are talking about biceps. Then it's mostly true. Otherwise, any man who thinks women lack "strength and resolution" just needs to introduce himself to a better class of women. (Or follow around the one he's got, to see how hard she's working.)

Birth characteristics should not be confused with character. The former is bestowed on us; the second is our own design.

'Nuff said. I think I'll go read a book. Maybe about this uncivilized guy, or this weak and feeble woman.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:24 AM

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Don't read the headline on this post.

We can't afford it!

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:44 PM

Global Warming Conference Summary

Peyton Knight shares his thoughts on the COP-11 global warming conference:
The National Center's delegation to Montreal has returned to the United States, and the U.N. Climate Change Conference has come to an end.

A summary of the happenings in Montreal on CNN's website leads with the headline: "U.S. Isolated on Climate Change."

This is misleading at best.

Next month the U.S., China, India, Japan, Australia and South Korea will convene to kick-off the Asia-Pacific partnership. The partnership is voluntary (unlike the Kyoto Protocol, chains participants to emissions reductions caps), and promises to embrace economic growth and technological development as weapons in the fight for a better environment and less greenhouse gas emissions (unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which harms economic growth and the technological advancement growth breeds).

Considering the aforementioned six nations comprise roughly half the world's population, the United States is hardly "isolated" on climate change.

On the other hand, the U.S. has "isolated" itself quite nicely from the climate change hypocrites in Europe and Canada. The European Union, despite its alarmist mantra, is on a sure track to miss its Kyoto targets. Eleven of the fifteen original European Union members have reported increased emissions since 1990.

Canada, host country to the recent conference, has seen its emissions rise by 24 percent since 1990. Its Kyoto emissions target of 6 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2012 isn't likely to be met, either.

The American delegation did agree to participate in future "nonbinding" discussions on climate change -- much to the chagrin of global warming theory enthusiasts.

As for the conference itself, Richard Kinley, acting head of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, declared: "This has been one of the most productive U.N. Climate Change Conferences ever."

If true, it doesn't speak too highly of past conferences.

The conference had two major objectives. Both were left unrealized.

One: Conference delegates were supposed to create an enforcement mechanism to hold nations bound by the Kyoto Treaty accountable to the Kyoto emissions reductions targets they had pledged to reach. This was not accomplished. Instead, a compliance committee was elected and it will be tasked with creating an enforcement mechanism.

Two: Conference delegates were supposed to devise a plan for future, more stringent emissions reductions after 2012, when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires. This was not accomplished. Instead, they simply agreed to meet again on the topic.

Of course, from the perspective of many conference attendees, the U.N. can't schedule too many global warming conferences. These meetings are convenient vehicles by which delegates and green groups from around the world can gather and bash the United States in unison, while dining in fine restaurants, on somebody else's nickel.

The uncertainty of the science regarding humanity's impact on climate change isn't discussed. The devastating economic costs of complying with Kyoto are glossed over. It repeatedly is stressed that storms, floods, droughts, disease are all on the near horizon if we humans (especially American humans) don't repent immediately and take Kyoto seriously. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are forgotten, and the gospel of anthropogenic global warming is anointed in its place. But the religion of the false god Kyoto has strict rules. Stepping out of line by suggesting nuclear power as a sensible way to produce adequate amounts of energy without CO2 emissions is to risk being called a blasphemer.

The conference had a carnival-like atmosphere. There were mascots, including a polar bear and a "climate change recycle bear," a giant panda and even a "Kyotometer," which resembled a "strength-o-meter" commonly found at county fairs.

If the U.N. climate change crusade has become a circus, the COP meetings are its big tent.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:00 PM

Ed Feulner: Cold is Hot and Wet is Dry

A funny Greenpeace quote is in a recent column by Ed Feulner of the Heritage Foundation. The quote is highlighted in italics:
While most Kyoto enthusiasts have long argued the planet is getting warmer, a recent report in the journal Nature hints that a new ice age may be on the way. The report says the ocean current that keeps Europe warm may be shifting, which could make the continent cooler.

But no matter what, the worrywarts have the future covered. Steven Guilbeault of Greenpeace explained, "Global warming can mean colder, it can mean drier, it can mean wetter, that's what we're dealing with." No wonder humanity is having trouble addressing the problems -- we can't even decide what the problems are.

However, activists can agree on who's to blame: The United States, of course.

Another Greenpeace spokesman, Bill Hare, told reporters, "When you walk around the conference hall here, delegates are saying there are lots of issues on the agenda, but there's only one real problem, and that's the United States."

It makes a nice soundbite and certainly plays to the anti-American crowd, but nothing could be further from the truth...
Open-minded individuals can read the rest to see why America is not to blame here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:52 PM

Deroy Murdock: Thoughts on Tookie Williams

Deroy Murdock, a Project 21 member, NCPPR Distinguished Fellow and Scripps-Howard syndicated columnist, has some thoughts to add to Project 21's statement today about the scheduled execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams:
Who knows how many people members of the Crips have killed since they were founded in the 1970s. Certainly dozens. Probably hundreds. Perhaps thousands. And what percentage of those folks were black? The Crips generally do not run around Beverly Hills and Malibu shooting their victims. That happens in Compton, Inglewood, and South Central Los Angeles. Guess who lives in those neighborhoods.

It's safe to say that, as co-founder of the Crips, "Tookie" Williams is indirectly to blame for the deaths of scores of black folks, as well as the four people he was convicted of murdering directly. No amount of "rehabilitation" compensates for his indirect or direct crimes.

I don't care about his "children's books," and I doubt the families of his victims are very impressed either. If Charles Manson wrote an opera, would he qualify for parole? Tookie has written multiple books. Good for him. How many books have his four murder victims even READ over the last 26 years? Exactly zero, since they are dead. Thanks to Tookie.

As the direct author of four homicides and the indirect inspiration for hundreds more, Stanley "Tookie" Williams finally is getting what he deserves.

Good riddance!

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:26 AM

Blogging Global Warming

Bizzy takes a look at "Global Whining: The Real Results of Montreal."

A small sample of others blogging the U.N.'s effort to stand athwart nature and yell "stop":
EnviroSpin Watch
Political Ecology
Irish Pennants
The Political Dogs
Greenie Watch
Balloon Juice
And a note to Jane: For our last year audited (2004), 97 percent of our funding came from gifts from individuals, 1.2% from foundation/non-profit grants, 1.2% from corporations, and the remainder from sales, rental income and interest income. If you want to know how many tax dollars we received in grants or contracts from government (the question conservatives ask), it is zero. If you want to know the amount of money we received from fossil fuel industries (the question liberals ask), in 2004, it amounted to six-tenths of one percent of our overall budget of $8,427,108. Numbers for 2005 should be similar, except, so far, we have received zero funding in 2005 from both government and fossil fuel industries. So, you can call that toilet paper "clean."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:53 AM

A Second-Class Citizen No More

A very impressive young lady.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:49 AM

Which Christmas Carol Are You?

Via The Night Writer, one of those silly quizzes which I nonetheless took, "Which Christmas Carol Are You?"

My result:

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Apparently, I'm a traditionalist. Go figure.

P.S. This is an Australian quiz. No sane American goes to the beach on Boxing Day -- or can find Boxing Day on a map, for that matter.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:44 AM

Professor Bainbridge Analyzes French Wine Sales

Professor Bainbridge analyzes the reasons behind the drop in sales of French wine in America, and finds them lasting.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:41 AM

Monday, December 12, 2005

Black Activists on Tookie Williams Execution

Project 21 is commenting on on the scheduled execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams:
Black Activists Speak Out on the Execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams

Former Gang Leader Should Not Be Considered a Martyr

With the execution of former gang leader and convicted murderer Stanley "Tookie" Williams virtually assured to occur tonight, members of the black leadership network Project 21 are calling on the public to remain calm as justice is administered.

They are also critical of those who seek to elevate Williams to hero status despite his conviction and his history steeped in violence.

"There can be no clemency for someone directly responsible for the murders of four innocent people and indirectly responsible for the deaths of possibly thousands more through his founding and leadership of one of the America's worst street gangs," said Project 21 member Mark Jordan. "Tookie Williams later became a published author, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and a celebrity among the opponents of capitol punishment. Unfortunately, similar opportunities were denied his victims. As a Christian, I welcome his repentance and pray for his soul. Repentance, however, does not release Tookie Williams from the consequences of his actions. This bill has finally come due."

Williams, a founder of the Crips street gang, was convicted and sentenced to death in 1981 for killing four people in 1979. His execution by lethal injection is scheduled for a minute after midnight at California's San Quentin State Prison on Tuesday, December 13.

"It must be acknowledged that Tookie Williams is a tragic example of a wasted life brought by irreversibly poor choices," said Project 21 member Mychal Massie. "It is tragic not only because of the harm he perpetrated on his community and himself, but because it is apparent he lacked the skills to rise above whatever circumstances are leveled as primary causal factors for personal decisions that ultimately led to his execution. His life should be remembered as a waste and not extolled in martyrdom and legend..."
The full Project 21 press release can be found here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:56 PM

Global Warming's Dramatic Impact

Two of the National Center's representatives at the U.N. climate conference (husband David, left, and Ryan Balis) in Montreal, enjoying the benefits of global warming.

Don't let those heavy coats fool you -- they're the latest in sunscreen technology.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:34 PM

Kyoto Protocol Meets Star Trek Convention

More about the global warming conference from husband David:
Much of the activity at the global climate talks in Montreal weren't in the negotiations themselves, but in so-called "side events": Press conferences, demonstrations and briefings by non-governmental organizations.

"Side shows" might be a more apt term.

Take, for example, the very first briefing The National Center's delegation attended upon arriving in Montreal, entitled "Creating Greenhouse Gas Markets in the United States," where panelists described their first-hand success in trading emissions credits.

Warren Batts, an Adjunct Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Chicago School of Business, described the success of one greenhouse gas market, the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX).

If that name sounds world-alteringly significant, think again: The U.S. has no caps on emissions. So, those participating in U.S.-based emissions trading schemes are not doing much more than the average participant at a Star Trek convention - they are role playing.

But all is not lost. Those having trouble deciding what to get their family for Christmas might be interested to know that they can buy a CO2 credit - good for emitting one metric ton of the stuff at your local Star Trek convention or wherever else in the USA you happen to be - for just $2-$2.50. But be forewarned: You'll have to make your purchase from 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM Monday through Friday. (Saving the planet may be important, but not important enough to forgo banker's hours.)

Members of CCX include a couple of big corporations such as the Ford Motor Company (perhaps looking for something they can actually sell), Motorola and Rolls Royce. But CCX's membership quickly drops to the likes of the City of Boulder, the University of Iowa and individuals.

Since it was started in 2003, the CCX has traded just 3.5 million tons worth of emissions credits. Apparently, to most folks, even $2 a ton is a bit steep for role playing.

Total U.S. emissions per year are about 5,789 million metric tons -- over 1,500 times the CCX volume, so you can see they're doing a bang-up job in getting the "CO2 problem" under control.

I'm reminded of the Saturday Night Live episode from 1986 in which guest host William Shatner, during a parody of a Star Trek convention, says... "GET A LIFE, will you people? I mean, for crying out loud, it's just a TV show! I mean, look at you, look at the way you're dressed! You've turned an enjoyable little job, that I did as a lark for a few years, into a colossal waste of time!"

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:09 AM

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Seigenthaler/Wikipedia: Just Ignore the Nutters

The one thing I do not really understand about the John Seigenthaler/Wikipedia story story is why Seigenthaler cared so much. The Internet, including Wikipedia, has false and malicious information about many people, and this probably is just going to be increasingly true as time passes. There's very little that can be done about it, except post corrections if one has the time/inclination/opportunity.

The best defense, in my opinion, is simply not to mind.

Seigenthaler was falsely accused of being connected to both the RFK and JFK assassinations. These are not low-profile events; anyone with even a modicum of knowledge about historical events would know this accusation was false. Even if Seigenthaler had never made the fuss he did, any serious person reading the false biography would have seen it for what it was: a strike against Wikipedia, not Seigenthaler. There can be no doubt that Seigenthaler's conscience is clean on these matters, and that's the important thing.

Wikipedia, in my view, is better viewed as a focus group (aka, "here's what a few people say they think about X") than a resource end-in-itself. It also can give good leads to other resources, it can be helpful for fulfilling superficial requests (aka, "what is an x-box?") and it can be interesting to read.

Reading Wikipedia is rather like listening to callers on talk radio or comments on a random blog post. Sometimes one can learn really good information that way, but other times, one is being exposed to nutters. And we all know what to do about the nutters. Just ignore 'em.

Addendum, 12/12: Donald Rumsfeld seems to have a similar philosophy.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:39 PM

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Climate Change Hypocrites v. the U.S., China, India, Japan, Australia and Much of the Developing World

From husband David, blackberried earlier today from the airport as he left the U.N. global warming conference:
As things wind down here in Montreal, I thought I'd offer a few closing thoughts.

From the beginning, the official delegations to the U.N.'s Climate Change Conference were divided into two camps.

One camp includes the United States, China, India, Japan, Australia and much of the developing world. This camp opposes strict greenhouse gas emissions caps on economic grounds.

The other camp includes the hypocrites.

Those paying the most lip service to the Kyoto Protocol have been amongst its most flagrant violators.

For example, Canada, whose Prime Minister, Paul Martin, lashed out against the United States for failing to support the Kyoto Protocol, has increased its greenhouse gas emissions from the treaty's 1990 baseline by between 22 and 24 percent. By contrast, U.S. emissions increased by between 14 and 18 percent from the 1990 baseline and actually dropped somewhat between 2000 and 2003.

From Kyoto's inception, the Europeans -- without question the most fervent supporters of the Kyoto process -- have worked to find loopholes to avoid any significant emissions reductions. That was the idea behind the so-called "European Bubble" through which original members of the European Union (EU-15) could exceed their emissions targets by essentially borrowing from EU members that fell below those targets. With 11 of these 15 European states failing to meet their targets, there is increasing talk that this target averaging could be extended to all 25 members of the EU, including those that are from the former East bloc and countries that have no targets whatsoever.

And speaking of hypocrites, former President Bill Clinton was scheduled to speak at an event, rumor has it, that was sponsored by the Sierra Club. He had been expected to be critical of Bush Administration policy on global warming, not only violating presidential etiquette, which stipulates that one American political leader not criticize administration policy while abroad, but also showing his hypocrisy. While President, Mr. Clinton did not submit the Kyoto Treaty to the U.S. Senate for ratification.

I missed the former president's speech while waiting for my delayed flight home.

Was it delayed due to airplane tires melted to the tarmac? Was it delayed due to a driving tropical rain? No, the culprit was snow and ice in Philadelphia.

Incidentally, the French word for delay is retarde.

You can say that again.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:21 AM

Friday, December 09, 2005

Wouldn't Say Their Names

Check out the last question asked by Newsweek's Karen Breslau in this death row interview of Stanley "Tookie" Williams.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:32 PM

Black Conservatives Skeptical of Congressional Black Caucus Actions on Alito

Project 21 members are not rushing to endorse the Congressional Black Caucus's criticism of Judge Samuel Alito.

Project 21 says:
Black Activists Criticize Congressional Black Caucus Rush to Judgment on Alito Nomination and Call for Filibuster

Filibuster of Supreme Court Nominees Thought to Be Unconstitutional

Members of the black leadership network Project 21 are criticizing the decision of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to formally oppose and call for a filibuster of the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court in advance of Senate hearings.

Confirmation hearings on Judge Alito are scheduled to begin on January 9, but CBC members - including Senator Barack Obama, who will actually cast a vote on the nomination - voted unanimously to oppose the Alito nomination over a month in advance of those hearings.

"The Congressional Black Caucus's rush to condemn Judge Alito in advance of the hearings is an unambiguously proof-positive indication of their contempt for the spirit of our constitutional order," said Project 21 member Mychal Massie. "It also clearly shows who their masters are. The CBC has clearly aligned itself with the extreme liberals who share their contempt for those who would uphold the Constitution as it was envisioned by our Founding Fathers."

Besides calling Judge Alito "a special danger to people of color and to women," CBC Judicial Nominations chairman Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) also said the Caucus's opposition was based on the nominee's "long and consistent record as a judicial dissenter" (particularly on the cases that restrict congressional power), his "automatically hard-right views" and that Judge Alito has not yet met with the CBC.

In announcing the CBC's opposition to Judge Alito, Caucus chairman Representative Mel Watt (D-NC) said the nomination poses "extraordinary circumstances" in which an expected vote to confirm Alito should be delayed indefinitely by filibuster. He said CBC members intend to meet with senators in the "Gang of 14," which formed to avoid filibuster fights, to try to persuade them to engage in a filibuster.

Pointing out that the CBC's opposition violates the Caucus's own goals, Project 21 member Deneen Moore said: "It's unfortunate that the Congressional Black Caucus has prematurely decided to oppose Judge Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination. Their announcement is at odds with the spirit of their stated priority - as posted on their website - to support the appointment of 'fair and impartial judges.' It's apparent that the liberal cluster of nonsupport is clearly taking precedence prior to the course of a fair confirmation hearing."

Project 21 takes no position on the confirmation of any particular judicial nominee, but many of its members believe that the Constitution requires only a majority vote to "advise and consent" on Supreme Court nominations, making a filibuster of such nominations unconstitutional...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:42 PM

Brendan Nyhan: The National Center on Public Policy Research is Classy

Brendan Nyhan says: "The National Center on Public Policy Research is classy."

You bet we are.

I'm afraid I can't agree with Brendan that critics of Howard Dean's statement that we're going to lose the war are demagogues, though.


Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:53 PM

Global Warming Conference Report: Logging Old Growth Forests to Stop Global Warming

Husband David has sent another note from the U.N. conference on global warming in chilly Montreal:
This afternoon I attended a briefing entitled "Implementation of the Kyoto Protocol in Russia: Current Status and Outlook," sponsored by a Moscow-based outfit called the National Carbon Sequestration Foundation.

One of the speakers was an official with the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia who suggested that the use of forests as carbon sinks would be a critical part of Russia's efforts to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions and the key to any future negotiations.

That wasn't the interesting part, however.

Unless the translator got things horribly wrong, the official said that part of Russia's strategy for reducing net carbon dioxide emissions would be to begin significant new logging operations in remote parts of Russia. The rationale is that older trees emit greenhouse gases while younger trees consume them. The wood fiber would then be used to meet some of Russia's energy needs.

Yes, he's talking about logging old growth forests.

The Sierra Club must love these guys.

And, speaking of environmental organizations, the Ministry official was asked why it is that the Russian government has been sharply restricting the activities of foreign-based environmental organizations within Russia.

His response was something like this: It's not that we think that the activities of foreign environmental groups should be limited, but that we have a sufficient number of groups with the expertise on these issues domestically.

Only in the former Soviet Union.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:03 AM

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Clinton in Montreal?

Rumor has it that former President Bill Clinton will be visiting the Montreal global warming conference tomorrow.

Do you suppose he'll have the grace not to attack President Bush for opposing Kyoto's ratification, since he himself did nothing to get it ratified?

If the rumors are true, we'll know soon enough.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:55 PM

Climate Change Report: Do We Have a Right to Be Cold?

An e-mail from husband David, stationed at the Montreal U.N. global warming conference:
One of the side events at the U.N. conference on global warming that generated some buzz was one entitled "The Right to Be Cold: Inuit Defend Their Human Rights in the Face of Climate Change."

The briefing, sponsored by the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), was organized to draw attention to concerns by Inuit that rising global temperatures could have a devastating impact on the game upon which the Inuits depend for food, thus threatening the survival of their culture.

The ICC was founded in 1977 and claims to represent approximately 150,00 Inuit of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka (Russia).

To quote from the Inuit Circumpolar Conference's Arctic Climate Impact Assessment: "Observations by Inuit should help to convince the skeptics that climate change is a reality. Inuit hunters are keen observers of the natural environment. They have to be; they depend upon it for food."

Apparently, their keen skills of observation don't just extend to the natural environment, but to science, too. The ICC has concluded not only that global warming is occurring, but also that the United States is responsible for it.

An ICC press release issued today has the headline, "Inuit Petition Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Oppose Climate Change Caused by the United States of America."

But the ICC got me thinking. Is there a right to the fulfillment of one's personal body temperature preference? Is it a human right?

In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that at the time I pondered this I was walking back from the Palais des Congres (where the meeting is being held) to my hotel in 16 degree Fahrenheit weather (minus one degree if you count the wind chill).

My conclusion is "yes" - so fire up those Hummers.

On a serious note, attempts to curb greenhouse gas emissions do have significant implications for those in the developing world.

A compelling illustration of this was provided by David Garman, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, at a U.S. Department of State-sponsored briefing that ran concurrently with the ICC event.

Garman told a story about his experience in the Peace Corps. He noted the village where he was based had no access to fossil fuels and was entirely dependent on wood for its energy needs. As a consequence, the surrounding forests were denuded and families increased in size for the purpose of having more people to gather firewood. Greater environmental degradation and more despair was the result.

He concluded by saying, "a little energy would have done a lot of good."

That about says it all.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:28 PM

Climate Change Conference Report: Agence France-Presse Freaks Out

From Peyton Knight at the COP-11 climate change conference in Montreal:
While I was distributing press releases about our toilet paper emissions credits outside a U.N. climate change panel discussion, an obviously upset reporter from Agence France-Presse (regrettably, I was unable to get his name) approached me for a brief discussion regarding The National Center's climate activities.

"Who funds you?" he angrily demanded.

I explained that individual donations make up the vast majority of our funding.

"What individuals?" he pressed.

I explained that our supporters are mostly individual Americans who believe in our mission.

Clearly disappointed that our main funding source wasn't industry, the AFP representative moved on to another line of questioning.

"I see here that you do research. Just what kind of research do you do?" he asked, growing more hostile.

I pointed to the press release in his hand, specifically the bold portion at the top that quite clearly reveals the name of our organization -- i.e. The National Center for PUBLIC POLICY Research.

Furious now, he demanded to know The National Center's stance on global warming. I began to explain to him that it is our view that mankind is not causing the planet to get appreciably warmer. Before I could delve into any specifics, he cut me off, shouting: "Why?! Because it isn't in the Bible?! It isn't in Genesis?!"

He then stormed off. He was probably in a hurry to file an honest, unbiased account about the conference... or maybe not.
Agence France Presse ought to recall -- but probably will not -- that the ordinary Americans who fund the vast majority of the National Center's budget are among the American taxpayers who are paying about a quarter of the U.N.'s annual budget. Meantime, a country as messed up as France could probably do with a little more praying, and a few less wisecracks about the Bible. (Same goes for us, for that matter.)

Addendum 12/8: I have now been told that the name of the the name of the Agence France Presse reporter is Richard Ingham. And, thanks to Iain Murray for mentioning this on NRO's The Corner.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:10 AM

The Empire Strikes Back: U.N. Disrupts Distribution of Toilet Paper Emissions Credits, Seizes National Center Literature

Uh oh. The U.N. is mad at us.

Another report from our team at the COP-11 global warming conference in Montreal:
Accompanied by a security escort, Ms. Barbara Black, U.N. Liaison Officer for Non-Governmental Organizations, accused the National Center of "disruption" for handing out emission credits printed on toilet paper and temporarily seized copies of National Center literature disseminated at the U.N.'s global warming conference.

The National Center's Peyton Knight and Ryan Balis attempted to hand out materials on the faulty Kyoto Protocol outside a discussion event on "clean energy and climate change partnerships." Audience members included dignitaries such as Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Dr. Harlan Watson, America's chief climate negotiator and special representative and Dr. Paula Dobriansky, Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs.

However, when the National Center staffers arrived, Ms. Black temporarily blocked the handing out of materials to audience members leaving the talk because of a complaint of a so-called "disruption." However, in our view, two people, standing silently in the middle of a public walk-through area, holding two-inch stacks of press releases and rolls of toilet paper and passing them out to willing recipients hardly constitute a "disruption."

After a security officer threatened to strip Ryan Balis' conference admittance badge, the U.N. authorities seized a stack of National Center news releases that describe the toilet paper credits.

When asked which U.N. rules prohibit the distribution of materials by accredited NGOs, Ms. Black backed down. The seized materials were returned and distribution resumed.

It is not clear who alerted security to a phony disruption, but Greenpeace representatives were nearby getting their own emissions credit rolls.
I have just one question: Did the bear squeal?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:02 AM

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Global Warming Briefs

More reports from the COP-11 global warming front.

From David Ridenour:
Peyton Knight and Ryan Balis attended a Sierra Club briefing that included comments from David Foster of the United Steelworkers of America making the outlandish claim that global warming is costing union jobs. Hurricane Katrina, Foster claimed, displaced workers in New Orleans and elsewhere.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, however, rejects the Katrina/global warming link.
From Peyton Knight:
It is absurdly cold here -- our hotel is only about three or four blocks from the conference, yet if it were five or six blocks, I'm not sure we'd be alive right now (much to the elation of 99.9 percent of this conference).

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:49 PM

Global Warming Conference Report: The Bear Truth About Emissions Credits

Our three-man crew at the U.N.'s COP-11 global warming conference in Montreal is still working hard to get the toilet paper emissions credits distributed to one and all.

In these photos, the National Center's Peyton Knight hands a roll of "emissions credits" to a representative of Greenpeace, and to the U.N. conference's friendly "Climate Change Recycle Bear." Our guys aren't very sure exactly what a "Climate Change Recycle Bear" is, but he was entitled to his own roll of emissions credits anyway.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:19 PM

Jeff Quinton: Death of Governor Campbell

Jeff Quinton is providing coverage of former South Carolina Governor Carroll Campbell's premature death at age 65 from Alzheimer's Disease.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:31 PM

John O'Neill Practices the Patriotism of Dissent

When Mac Cleland said the following about John Kerry Tuesday on the Huffington Post, against all odds, he meant it as praise:
[John Kerry] speaks with the same candor today that he spoke with 34 years ago when he came home from the Vietnam War.
Does Cleland not realize that Kerry was lying 34 years ago? That Kerry himself, as John O'Neill pointed out in this Wall Street Journal article, has subsequently described the remarks Cleland now calls "candor" as "over the top"?

Maybe Max Cleland doesn't care that John Kerry lied about honorable American servicemen, but Cleland doesn't speak for everybody. Most honorable people, in fact, if they believed Kerry, would wonder why he never named names 34 years ago, so that the "war criminals" could be stopped and their crimes prosecuted.

Max Cleland has odd morals. John Kerry either lied about atrocities or helped cover them up, yet to Max Cleland, he's an okay guy. John O'Neill objects when American servicemen in combat are accused of atrocities without evidence, and Cleland criticizes O'Neill.

Cleland says:
Questioning the actions of our government defines patriotism. As my friend and fellow veteran, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel said so eloquently, 'To question your government is not unpatriotic -- to not question your government is unpatriotic.' John O'Neill just doesn't believe in that kind of dissent.
First off, Max, if you think that's eloquence, better step up your reading level. Second, Kerry is part of the government. Kerry's not some shaggy longhair trust fund protester anymore. He's The Man.

It's John O'Neill, much-vilified private citizen, who is practicing the patriotism of dissent.

God bless him for it.

Hat tip: Daou Report

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:08 AM

Kelo Backlash Faltering?

BizzyBlog and Positive Liberty look at the impact of the Kelo backlash, and find it wanting.

Very informative posts; do take a look.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:03 AM

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

COP-11 Global Warming Conference Report: Pew Center Admits Kyoto is Dead... Sort of

The National Center's three-man crew at the U.N.'s COP-11 global warming conference in Montreal, has blackberried in a blog report:
The Pew Center on Climate Change held a briefing today on their "Climate Dialogue at Pocantico" that seems to confirm what critics of the Kyoto treaty have been saying for a long time... The Kyoto Treaty is dead.

The Dialogue was started by the Pew Center some 18 months ago to bring together "a select group of policymakers and stakeholders from around the world" to explore options for advancing the international climate change effort.

In what is sure to be a jolt to staunch advocates of the Kyoto Protocol, the Dialogue has called for a parallel process outside the Framework Convention on Climate Change process. What's more, it found that "To achieve broad, participation, a framework for multilateral climate action must... be flexible enough to accommodate different types of national strategies by allowing different types of commitments. It must enable each country to choose a pathway that best aligns the global interest in climate change with its own evolving national interests."

It is an admission -- albeit indirectly -- that the Kyoto strategy of strict emissions targets has ended in failure.

The briefing was also notable for a question posed to the Pew Center's president, Eileen Claussen. She was asked which is the most plausible reason why the Bush administration has rejected Kyoto:
1) It is captive to the carbon lobby (oil, gas, coal);
2) Americans' natural resistance to being told what to do;
3) The Administration's belief that the science isn't settled on global warming, or
4) The economic costs of Kyoto.
Clausen asserted that it couldn't be concerns about the science because virtually everyone agrees that global warming poses a serious global threat.

Jim Greene, a staffer with Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), seconded this, saying only "flat Earthers" debate the point.

Here's a question: If Kyoto backers are so certain they are right on the science, why do they so often resort to ad hominem attacks on the skeptics?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:42 PM

Kyoto Protocol Declared 'Dead' reports Kyoto is dead, though Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace disagree:
"Kyoto is alive and well, thank you very much," said Catherine Pearce, the international climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth International.

"These kinds of comments just come from the United States actually and it's driven by the White House who actually wants to see this process die," Pearce told Cybercast News Service.

"That is what [President George] Bush is here to do in Montreal. It's to completely kill any discussions going forward," Pearce said.

"The only way we are going to fight climate change is through legally binding targets for industrialized nations. If we don't do this, we are going to lose our planet and our livelihoods and our economy to climate change," she added.

Asked about the inability of Canada and many other industrialized nations to lower their emissions, Pearce admitted it was difficult to meet the protocol's requirements. "Yeah, sure Canada has a massive challenge on its hands to reduce emissions. I am not saying it's particularly easy," she said.

Pearce dismissed Prime Minister Blair's recent negative comments on Kyoto as "inconsistent and incoherent."

A spokeswoman for Greenpeace also denied the Kyoto Protocol was in any trouble.

"Kyoto is alive and kicking. This conference is proof of that," said Kaisa Kosonen, the energy campaigner for the European-based Nordic division of Greenpeace.

"I still have high hopes," Kosonen added, while warning that the U.S. was playing a destructive role at the conference.

"The U.S. has done its best to sabotage everything. [But] you have to differentiate the Bush administration from the United States," she said, noting the many U.S.-based groups in attendance critical of the Bush administration's climate policies.
Looks dead to me.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:57 PM

Monday, December 05, 2005

Montreal U.N. Climate Change Conference Attendees Receive Free Gifts from Us

The National Center is a recognized U.N. NGO (non-governmental organization) -- I expect, probably one of the few NGOs that wants its home country to withdraw from the United Nations.

This week, we have three representatives at the 11th Session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-11) meeting currently ongoing in Montreal. (If you have no idea of what a COP meeting is, think Kyoto Global Warming Treaty.)

Anyway, continuing that grand American tradition of giving away free stuff pretty much everywhere we go on the globe, our National Center representatives are giving away free toilet paper at COP-11.

No, Canada is not having a toilet paper shortage (that we know of; I haven't checked to see if they have price controls on the stuff). We're just politely emphasizing the failure of the Kyoto Treaty to the group that gave birth to it.

A press release we issued earlier today explains:
Policy Group Distributes Toilet Paper 'Emissions Credits' at U.N. Global Warming Conference

Montreal, Canada - The National Center for Public Policy Research is handing out "emissions credits" printed on toilet paper at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal today, to symbolize the failure of the Kyoto Protocol and the futility of emissions trading schemes.

Under the European Union's "CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme," companies are allotted credits that allow them to emit a fixed amount of carbon dioxide. Companies that reduce their carbon dioxide output, and thus don't use all of their credits, can sell them to companies who are exceeding their C02 allotments.

As the flawed Kyoto treaty is all but dead, emissions credits aren't likely to be of any value in the future.

"Emissions credits aren't worth the paper they're printed on," said David Ridenour, Vice President of The National Center, "Unless, of course, that paper happens to be toilet paper."

In 2012, the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol will expire. Major nations, including the United States, Australia, China and India already have indicated they do not support developing a new Kyoto-style treaty to take effect when the first one expires.

Even British Prime Minister Tony Blair, formerly a staunch Kyoto cheerleader, has recently switched gears, saying he expects Kyoto-style mandatory arrangements to be supplanted by voluntary incentives, as "no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem." He adds: "To be honest, I don't think people are going, at least in the short term, to start negotiating another major treaty like Kyoto."

The credits that The National Center is handing out this week are printed on rolls of toilet paper with the phrase "emissions credit" appearing throughout the entire roll in five of the six official U.N. languages. The Chinese translation is absent.

"It was difficult to obtain a good Chinese translation for the term 'emissions credit,'" explained Peyton Knight, Director of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs for The National Center. "This may be due to the fact that China, despite being the second largest emitter of so-called greenhouse gases in the world, is exempt from Kyoto's emissions targets. There must not be much demand for the term, 'emissions credit.'"

Even under the current agreement, the European Union is on a sure track to miss its Kyoto emissions reduction target of eight percent below 1990 levels. The 15 original member nations of the EU, which have all ratified the Treaty, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by a paltry 1.4 percent between 1990 and 2003. According to the U.N., this tiny reduction is due in large part to the fall of the iron curtain and the subsequent dismantling of communist-era factories.

Eleven of the 15 original EU nations have reported increased emissions since 1990.

"It's easy for politicians to make speeches about the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but few will do what it takes to meet the Kyoto Protocol's targets because they know it is the surest path to economic ruin," said David Ridenour. "No one wants to pay these costs to comply with a treaty that would have little or no impact on the climate. The Kyoto Protocol is dead. It's time to give it a decent burial."

A recent analysis commissioned by the International Council for Capital Formation (ICCF), a European think-tank based in Brussels, found that meeting Kyoto's emissions targets would result in significant economic losses for Europe. The study looked at four European states and concluded that by 2010 their economic growth would be greatly reduced from what it would have been without meeting the Protocol's targets. Spain would see a 3.1 percent reduction in economic growth, Italy 2.1 percent, Britain 1.1 percent and Germany 0.8 percent.

The ICCF study also found that purchasing international emissions credits would damage Europe's economy and lead to higher energy prices. Electricity prices would rise by an average of 26 percent, natural gas prices by 41 percent and unemployment would increase by several hundred thousand in each of the four countries. The study notes that companies would "pass the cost of the international [emissions] credit onto final consumers of energy via higher prices." Italy alone could transfer four billion euros to developing nations by 2010 if it purchases such credits.

Although it is on pace to fall short of its current Kyoto obligations, the EU is already looking ahead to when the Kyoto Protocol expires. At this week's Climate Change Conference, the EU is urging other nations to join its CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme and help to build a "global carbon market" for the trading and selling of emissions credits.

"Despite having already bitten off more than it is willing to chew, the European Union is back at the global warming table for a second helping," said Knight. "It's time for the EU go on a diet free of global warming hysteria."

In the meantime, Ridenour is urging participants in Montreal this week to stock up on The National Center's emissions credits.

"Unlike the EU's emissions credits, ours are free and actually serve a purpose," he said.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-partisan, non-profit educational foundation based in Washington, DC. Founded in 1982, it promotes innovative, market-based solutions to today's public policy problems. Media may obtain a free roll of emissions credits on a first-come, first-serve basis by contacting The National Center at (202) 507-6398. A photo of The National Center's emissions credits can be viewed at

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:24 PM

NLPC: Sponsor at Your Own Risk

Peter Flaherty of NLPC is warning corporations of the danger of sponsoring one of Jesse Jackson's events.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:41 PM

Attention Jane Austen Fans

If you skip the part about navel rings, this Done With Mirrors post is delightful.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:24 AM

YTMND Fad: Howdy Doody-Looking Nimrod

I guess a Congressman name-calls at his own risk.

Rep. Berry's YTMND can be viewed here.

More on YTMND fads, about which I was previously unaware, here on Wikipedia, a use-at-your-own-risk resource.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:22 AM

Sunday, December 04, 2005

On the One Hand, the Earth Needs Kyoto; On the Other Hand, Kyoto Barely Makes a Dent in the "Problem"

I'm contrasting two sentences from the same article in the Independent today to show why so few serious people take the pro-Kyoto propaganda campaign seriously:
The protests were directed primarily at President George Bush, who has been assiduously trying to sabotage the [Kyoto] protocol...
The Kyoto protocol targets, even if they are met, will reduce [carbon dioxide emmissions] by only 5.2 per cent, and everyone agrees that it barely makes a dent on the problem.
Had the climate change alarmists truly been as alarmed as they claim, they would have negotiated a climate change treaty of far greater consequence and fought harder for its ratification in the largely skeptical U.S.

Kyoto, after all, was negotiated during the Clinton-Gore Administration (and while pro-Kyoto Tony Blair was at Downing Street); both Clinton and Gore profess to believe the global warming theory is accurate and the problem it predicts, dire. Yet, after signing the treaty with the usual PR fanfare, both men let it die in the Senate without even a fight.

Kyoto is about a number of things. Among them are: feeling good (the self-satified "I care about the planet" attitude that characterizes many of the participants in events like these); acquiring grants (the U.S. alone spends $5 billion in climate change research annually); resenting the United States (Old Europe's answer to stagnant economies is to foul ours; the EU's worst nightmare is that its semi-sovereign nations signed it while the U.S. did not); and, of course, politics.

I have to think a little bit of twisted psychology is involved as well -- how else to explain climate change activists on private jets complaining about the mpgs of minivans?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:10 AM

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Selling Violent Video Games -- Constitutionally Protected Commerce?

I don't have time to look into the matter myself just now -- what with saving the environment and everything -- but I think Glenn Reynolds left out an analysis of possibly the most interesting part of the case in his post about a court ruling unconstitutional, on free expression grounds, an Illinois ban on the sale of sexual and violent videogames to kids.

Selling video games to anybody is commerce, and the courts have been unwilling to freely apply the free speech clause to commerce. So, why was this case different?

A few years ago Nike got into trouble for, among other things, saying in correspondence that it had honorable hiring practices. Somebody who disagreed sued. Nike tried to have the suit thrown out on the grounds that it had the free expression right to defend its own reputation; the California Supreme Court declined to throw out the suit. Nike appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case -- leaving Nike's free expression rights limited.

Had Nike been sued for creating and selling a violent video game, could it have successfully used a free expression defense? Is creating and selling a violent video game a "right" more worthy of protection than writing a letter about hiring practices?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:28 PM

Maybe I'm Just Another "Howdy Doody-Looking Nimrod," But I Think Rep. Marion Berry Was Out of Line

Are members of the House of Representatives allowed to call other members "Howdy Doody-looking nimrods" on the floor of the House?

I thought not, but when Rep. Marion Berry (D-AR) tried it on November 17, Rep. David Drier (R-CA), let him off on a technicality. Then, Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) zinged Berry on the facts.

Transcript is below, but to get the real flavor, you really have to watch the video (note: Putnam's remarks do not appear in the video).
Scene: U.S. House of Representatives, November 17; Rep. Berry of Arkansas has the floor.

REP BERRY: I am absolutely amazed at you boys over there. I wonder what you are going to be when you grow up. For you to come to this floor and attack the Blue Dogs on fiscal responsibility demonstrates an unparalleled display of ignorance, stupidity, or just down-hard foolishness. I do not know which.

You stand there and say we are increasing spending, but we are cutting spending. I do not know whether you cannot add or subtract. I do not know what your problem is. But I can tell you this, and you can be cute, you can be smart, and you may even pull this off, son, but I tell you one thing, you are young enough, you are going to have to live with it. You are putting a tax on the next generation that they cannot pay and they cannot repeal it, and you are going to have to live with it.

Do not ask for my time because I will not yield.

I can tell you this: you are going to suffer the consequences just like everybody else in the next generation and those to come thereafter. And I cannot believe that you have the audacity to come to this floor with this assault on women and children and try to portray it, as this other Howdy Doody-looking nimrod said, that he wanted to talk about family values and values. That is unprecedented in this House.

I have the time, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield for a parliamentary inquiry?

Mr. BERRY. I yield to the gentleman from California.


Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I would like to inquire of the Chair, is it appropriate for Members of this House to address the Chair or address their remarks to other Members?

Mr. BERRY. Mr. Speaker, I do believe that the Blue Dogs were referred to.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. LaHood). The Chair advises all Members that they should address their remarks to the Chair.

Mr. BERRY. Mr. Speaker, as I do proceed, let me continue to tell you, if you cannot take it, go home. Do not do this to our children and grandchildren. You cannot take it, you are not man enough to pass these rules and pass these laws and build this dam on our children and grandchildren until they cannot carry it any longer.


The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair would remind all Members that remarks should be addressed to the Chair.

Mr. PUTNAM. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, my apologies for besmirching the reputation of the Blue Dogs. It is clear that their bark is still in place, though their bite is lacking.

Mr. Speaker, that was quite a performance, and I respect the gentleman's passion; but I do not respect the fact that he chose to personalize the debate, an important debate about the future of our Nation. I do not like the way that he characterized me; I do not like the way that he characterized the gentleman from Texas. It seems to me that the sensitivities about the reputation of the Blue Dogs is where the thin skin really lies.

Mr. Speaker, this budget is about the future and this organization has created the impression over a number of years of fiscal responsibility; and yet time after time after time when given the opportunity to truly do something about it, they just fade away. They just go back to the porch. Instead of taking the tough votes, instead of bringing real reform and making government work better so future generations of men and women and businesses and children and all aspects, instead of guaranteeing a bright future for all Americans, they just choose to talk about it.

The gentleman is right when he said that our younger generation is going to be most impacted by these fiscal decisions. They are. That is why we are here today to try to do something about it. They are here today to just talk about it. Where is their plan to rein in the overarching growth of Federal spending? What are they going to do about the fact that entitlement spending takes up over half of the budget and will soon take up two-thirds? Where was their plan about what they were going to do for these same women and children, as if the country was only made up of women and children, that benefit from these programs, what about all Americans? What were you going to do about this generation and future generations' retirement security? The same thing you were going to do about this, just talk about it, but not actually take the tough votes to do anything about securing their future.
Extra points to Putnam for the line " if the country was only made up of women and children..." It is nice to see somebody making that point.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:11 AM

Skycrapers to Earthquakes to Climate Change: The Guardian Finds the Links

Reading Don Surber, I came across his post about an article in the UK Guardian blaming skyscrapers for earthquakes.

As the Guardian has been known to exaggerate mankind's ability to affect natural processes in the past, I read the article with a twinge of skeptism. In fact, it reminded me so much of the paper's rather alarmist global warming coverage that I even thought: The only thing missing here is some scary tie-in to climate change.

That is, until I got to the end:
Meanwhile, the idea of carbon sequestration - reducing global warming by locking up carbon dioxide in holes under- ground, will be pointless if earthquakes let all the carbon dioxide escape. "Huge amounts of fluid are going to be put in large cavities and earthquakes are a real concern," says Leonardo Seeber, a geologist from the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory in New York. "I am less worried about nuclear waste as it is more likely to be put in a small tunnels rather than huge cavities," he adds.
In the minds of thre alarmists, are there any subjects that cannot be linked to global warming?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:09 AM

Army Issue Weapon

Gozar the Traveler, currently serving in Iraq with the Army National Guard, is a little dubious about one of the weapons he's been issued.

Hat tip: Eric Berlin.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:07 AM

Friday, December 02, 2005

Legal Extortion, or Just Planning Ahead?

Eric Berlin, while reviewing a case in which the trial lawyers are ready to file suit -- just as soon as they locate a plaintiff, asks: "What's the difference between a trial lawyer and an extortionist?"

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:46 PM

Thank a Soldier Week

The National Center is joining in promoting December 19-25 as "Thank a Soldier Week." Townhall is making it easy.

To say "thank you" to a soldier, visit, complete their easy online form and click. also provides links to a half dozen military support charities, for those who wish to add to their thank you message by sending a gift.

And - if you see a soldier on the street - don't forget to say THANK YOU!

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:00 AM

More on Property Rights

Bizzy Blog has a property rights update that includes news about a New Jersey case that shows how topsy-turvy government policies can be.

In this case, rather than take property and transfer it to another entity for a more lucrative economic purpose, the government reversed the equation, taking an $833,000 home and farmland to build low- and moderate-income housing. Then it tried to stiff the family, paying them substantially less than fair market value for the property.

The court has now ruled on the compensation question; Bizzy has the resolution.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:46 AM

A Man's Right to Choose

From A Man's Right to Choose, an op-ed in the New York Times by Dalton Conley:
About a decade ago, my girlfriend became pregnant. It wasn't planned, but it wasn't exactly unplanned either, in that we obviously knew how biology worked. I desperately wanted to keep the baby, but she wasn't ready, and there were some minor medical concerns about the fetus, so she decided to terminate the pregnancy against my wishes. What right did I have to stop her? As it turned out, none. It was, indeed, a woman's right to choose.

Not surprisingly, we broke up... But every so often I think back to the fateful decision, and frustration boils up. I am particularly reminded of it now, as I counsel a friend who finds himself in a parallel - but reverse - situation: when he broke off his engagement, his girlfriend told him that she was pregnant and was going to have the child no matter what.

That is her right, of course, and nobody should be able to take that away. But when men and women engage in sexual relations both parties recognize the potential for creating life. If both parties willingly participate then shouldn't both have a say in whether to keep a baby that results?

...the last decade has been marked by two other legal and cultural developments that should have - but haven't - influenced reproductive policy: genetic testing and the responsible fatherhood movement. The two go hand in hand. Today we can know who the real father is, thanks to DNA testing. This means that society can hold fathers responsible for the children they sire...

...Nobody is arguing that we should let my friend who impregnated his girlfriend off the hook. If you play, you must pay. But if you pay, you should get some say...

Well, you might argue that all the man provides is his seed in a moment of pleasure. The real work consists of carrying a child for nine months...

But how many times have we heard that fatherhood is not about a moment, it is about being there for the lifetime of a child? If we extend that logic, those 40 weeks of pregnancy - as intense as they may be - are merely a small fraction of a lifetime commitment to that child.

The bottom line is that if we want to make fathers relevant, they need rights, too. If a father is willing to legally commit to raising a child with no help from the mother he should be able to obtain an injunction against the abortion of the fetus he helped create.

Putting this into effect would be problematic, of course. But while such issues may be complicated, so is family life. Better to deal with the metaphorical dirty diapers than to pursue an inconsistent policy toward fatherhood and an abortion debate that doesn't acknowledge the reality of all actors involved. Otherwise, don't expect anything more of me than a few million sperm.
To me, the choice comes before conception, not after; but other than that, I believe this man makes a valid point.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:44 AM

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Does Al Jazeera Admit Planting Anti-American Stories in Iraq?

"U.S. Admits Planting Pro-American Stories in Iraq," says Al Jazeera.

We're in a war, folks. If it is okay to use guns, it is OK to use journalism.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:33 PM

Putin's True Colors

A Boston Globe staff editorial condemns yet another poor decision by Vladimir Putin:
A harsh law on nongovernmental organizations that Russia's President Vladimir Putin and his Kremlin coterie are pushing through a docile Duma shows Putin's true colors. This is the move of an antidemocratic ruler acting on the paranoid belief of his security services that foreign human rights, educational, and medical organizations are disguised tools of Western intelligence agencies plotting to orchestrate a popular uprising in Russia like those that toppled corrupt regimes in Georgia and Ukraine...
Read it all here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:56 PM

On Iraq, Briefly

Jeff Harrell has posted a Cliff's Notes version of the White House's National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Professor Bainbridge uses the New York Times to demonstrate the war is winnable.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:54 PM

Global Warming Causing Global Cooling

Possible impending global cooling is causing "alarm," says the UK's Guardian, and it may be caused by global warming.

That sounds silly, but actually makes sense. Massively oversimplified, the article refers to a phenomenon in which melting Arctic water slows a huge Atlantic Ocean current that delivers warm water from the topics north toward Europe, Iceland, northern North America and Greenland. The result of the slowing warm water current is a temperature reduction in the northern Atlantic and adjacent land masses.

This has happened before in human history, and may be one of the causes (natural cyclical changes in solar radiance being another) of the Little Ice Age, which lasted from roughly 1650 to 1850.

Interestingly, just as the Guardian is wondering if a disruption in the Atlantic current will cause some global cooling, some scientists believe the Earth may be nearing the end of a solar warming cycle. If so, that would be another factor possibly leading to some global cooling in this century.

The theory that human-produced carbon dioxide is causing the planet to warm -- popularly known as the "global warming" theory -- gets nearly all the press, but our planet's weather patterns are really quite complex. They are driven by forces more powerful than anything mankind has the ability to control.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:31 AM

Property Rights Wins: Taking Via Retroactive Zoning Struck Down by Maryland Court of Special Appeals

Despite recent losses on the property rights front, especially the Supreme Court's Kelo decision this year, some successes can be celebrated.

One is a victory for property owners in Prince George's County, one of Washington, D.C.'s bedroom communities, where a court has ruled against a county effort to toss small car dealerships off of property they in some cases have owned and operated upon for years, so the county can lure as many as 100 artists to open studios on their land.

As the Washington Post reports:
When the gravel-covered used-car lots that dot Route 1 stood in the way of plans to turn the highway into an arts district, Prince George's County thought it could declare the businesses illegal and turn what it called blight into beauty.

It was wrong.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has ruled in favor of the car dealers and against the county council, which passed a law, effective in 2003, that banned all dealerships of less than 25,000 square feet.The county offered no compensation to the car dealers, some of whom had operated along Route 1 for years.

The dealers fought back, and Judge Deborah S. Eyler agreed with them, writing on behalf of the court that banning small dealerships is "not rationally related to a possible legitimate purpose..."
I'm cheered by this victory. It has bugged me for two years that Prince George's County would try to do this to small business owners. Here's part of the 2003 Washington Post article that got me steamed in the first place:
The forest-green 1994 Buick LeSabre with whitewalls is still reliable at 100,008 miles, the salesman said. It sits on the lot next to a maroon Toyota Supra with peeling paint and a rusting gold Camry that's seen better days. Like the other cars parked on the gravel patch on Hyattsville's main drag, none of them sells for more than $5,000, the kind of bargain that Vernon Wolverton's customers have expected for 33 years.

Head north out of the District on U.S. Route 1 and you'll pass dozens of places like Wolverton's Suburban Motors. Nearly half the 97 licensed used-car dealers in Prince George's County do business on or around the 20-mile stretch from the District line to Laurel, a road once known as the Washington region's Car Alley. Over the decades, large new-car showrooms and secondhand dealers left for less-crowded suburbs. That left the small independent lots that cater to a local clientele -- a landscape like many sections of Route 1 between Key West and the Canadian border.

Now, under a plan set in motion by county leaders three years ago, the car lots are about to be zoned out of existence. Beginning Sept. 1, it will be illegal for used-car lots smaller than 25,000 square feet to operate in the county, a limit that will force nearly all of the dealers on the highway to close. The untidy mix no longer fits with the county's image of itself as it attempts to attract more retailers and shoppers.

"Having a small used-car lot that has twinkly decorations and vehicles that are not in very good condition does not help to improve value of a commercial area," said Elaine Murphy, city administrator of Hyattsville, which has four such dealerships.

The measure was sponsored by Prince George's County Council Chairman Peter A. Shapiro (D-Brentwood), who champions a plan to recharge the business area north of the District line by turning it into an arts district.

"There is a need and a demand for selling used cars," Shapiro said, "but I don't think it is appropriate for them to be clustered on our primary commercial corridor . . . where we are focused on redevelopment and revitalization..."

...Weathered flags from nations of the world flap around Y2K Auto Sales, a 23,000-square-foot cement lot on Route 1. Owner Tony Sia is the first to acknowledge that his faded banners and yellow sign aren't pretty, but it doesn't seem fair to him that his industry is being picked on for its lack of aesthetics. Eyeing a junkyard on the other side of the railroad track across the highway, Sia said: "You can't have one side nice."

...Inside the two-room trailer that serves as the office at Suburban Motors, salesman Jack Clay pointed to a certificate taped to the wood panel closet door. "Why would the state send me my license if I can't operate?" he said.

Dino Saglimbeni, who opened Dino's Used Cars and Rentals in Riverdale in 1977, said he dismissed the chatter about the new law he heard last year at an auto auction. "I thought the guy was just running his mouth," Saglimbeni said, shrugging his shoulders and tossing up his hands.

Told last week that the law had passed, Saglimbeni began calculating the size of his lot in his head. A small vein bulged in his neck, and he immediately called his lawyer and three neighboring used-car lot owners. He hopes that his business, which is stretched over three lots, might be just large enough to squeak by...
Retroactive zoning is a form of taking, and in this case, a taking for which the county was refusing to provide compensation. Taking one person's business to give the land it sits upon to another private business operating for private profit is just plain wrong.

For what it is worth, I live in Laurel, one of the towns mentioned as part of "car alley," and I agree that art studios would be prettier than used car lots. But hey, the used car guys bought those lots fair and square. If we don't like it, we need to make them a financial offer so good they don't want to turn it down. But that's not what the county government tried to do. Nope. It just wanted to kick them out. And that's just not right.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:39 AM

Copyright The National Center for Public Policy Research