masthead-highres

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Your Government at Work

The federal government is going to pay businesses $25 billion to keep the businesses from ending their health care plans for retirees.

If the businesses did that, you see, it would cost the government money.

Saving money means everything to the government -- so much so, it is willing to pay for the privilege.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:22 PM

Monday, February 27, 2006

Reform the Endangered Species Act So It Works Better for Everyone

The National Center delivered a letter to members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today regarding Senate efforts to reform the Endangered Species Act, which has managed to trample on the property rights of American landowners in the service of the present ESA's less than one percent species recovery success rate.

We say these facts are not unrelated: The ESA's antiquated regulatory structure unnecessarily pits humankind against wildlife, which (predictably) harms wildlife.

People who fear losing the use of their land if a rare species is found there (under the current ESA, without compensation) have a financial incentive to make their land inhospitable to species.

The solution is grounded in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which says: "...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." The government should pay people fair market compensation for the land it takes. If it does so, people naturally will be less fearful of discovering rare species, or rare species habitat, on their property. (Recall that even the victims of the appalling Kelo decision retained the right to be paid for losses. Human victims of the ESA don't even get that much consideration.)

85 policy groups share our concern:
Protect Private Property Rights, 85 Groups Tell Senate, in Endangered Species Act Reform

Signatories Include Two Former Reagan Administration Cabinet Officials


Washington, D.C., Feb. 27 - Today, a letter signed by 85 major national and state policy organizations was delivered to Senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee. The letter warns Senators that any Endangered Species Act reform effort must include strong private property rights protections. The coalition letter was spearheaded by The National Center for Public Policy Research.

"Whatever action the Senate takes on ESA reform should reflect the national, bipartisan outcry for strong property rights protections," said David Ridenour, vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Quite simply, when the government takes your property, the least it can do is pay for it."

National policy organizations signing the letter include: Coalitions for America, the American Conservative Union, the National Taxpayers Union, Eagle Forum, the National Center for Policy Analysis, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the National Legal and Policy Center, 60 Plus Association, the Property Rights Foundation of America, and the American Family Association, among many others.

The letter was also signed by the Honorable Edwin Meese III, who served as U.S. Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan, and the Honorable Don Hodel, who served as both U.S. Secretary of Interior and Secretary of Energy in the Reagan Administration. Former Senator Malcolm Wallop (R-WY) signed the letter as well.

State policy groups, including the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Oregonians in Action, the James Madison Institute, the Illinois Policy Institute, and the Virginia Institute for Public Policy also signed the letter.

"Today, private landowners live in fear of the ESA. Those who harbor endangered species on their property or merely own land suitable for such species can find themselves subject to severe land use restrictions that can be financially devastating," said Ridenour. "This creates a perverse incentive for landowners to preemptively 'sterilize' their land to keep rare species away. Such sterilizations benefit no one - least of all the species the ESA was established to protect."

"Property owners should not be punished for being good environmental stewards, yet that is exactly what the ESA does," said Peyton Knight, director of environmental and regulatory affairs for The National Center.

In order to fix the ESA's perverse incentive problem, the letter says property owners who are denied the use of their land should be given 100 percent, fair market value compensation for losses. This would bring the ESA in line with the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees such compensation ("nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation").

"Americans nationwide were outraged when, in Kelo v. City of New London, the Supreme Court ruled that government could evict property owners to financially benefit private interests," said Knight. "As terrible as eminent domain abuse is, at least the victims in eminent domain cases are compensated. Landowners who lose their property under the Endangered Species Act don't receive a dime."

Under the current ESA, landowners who apply to the Department of Interior for permission to use their property are often forced to wait years for a response - years during which they often are unable to use the land they legally own, and on which they pay taxes.

The letter suggests that establishing a simple time limit within which the Department of Interior must issue final decisions to landowners' requests could prevent this injustice.

Meaningful ESA reform faces a big hurdle in the Senate, as the chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Act is liberal Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI).

The National Center tried to schedule a meeting to discuss upcoming reform efforts with Senator Chafee's staff. However, the prospect of a meeting was immediately rebuffed by the Senator's staff after The National Center made it clear it wished to discuss the importance of protecting property rights in such a meeting.

"Allergy season is just around the corner and 'property rights' are apparently ragweed to the Chafee office," said Knight. "Unfortunately, this strangest of allergies hurts American property owners and endangered species more than it does the Senator and his staff."

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-partisan, non-profit educational foundation based in Washington, DC. Founded in 1982, it has promoted innovative, market-based solutions to environmental problems.

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Text of letter follows; click here for a PDF copy containing the full list of signers.
February 27, 2006

Senator James M. Inhofe
Chairman
Committee on Environment and Public Works
453 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Inhofe:

The U.S. Supreme Court's contentious decision in Kelo v. New London has brought the need to protect private property rights to the forefront of America's civic debate. Citizens from coast-to-coast recognize the vital importance of being secure in the ownership and use of their homes, small businesses and family farms.

As you and your colleagues consider proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, we hope you do so with a clear understanding of the crucial role that secure property rights plays in saving threatened and endangered species.

As you know, the ESA has failed miserably in its stated purpose: Recovering threatened and endangered species. In the three-decade history of the Act, less than one percent of the species listed as either endangered or threatened have recovered.

Failure comes at a steep price under the ESA. Not only have species populations suffered, but the Act has cost billions of dollars and deprived landowners of the use of their land and, often, their savings.

The Endangered Species Act has failed not because it isn't strong enough, expansive enough, or funded enough, but because its incentives are wrong.

Today, private landowners live in fear of the ESA. Those who harbor endangered species on their property or merely own land suitable for such species can find themselves subject to severe land use restrictions. To avoid such restrictions and the losses in property values that accompany them, many decide to preemptively "sterilize" their land to keep rare species away. Such preemptive sterilizations benefit no one - least of all the species the ESA was established to protect.

By one estimate, up to 90% of all endangered species' habitat is found on private property. As such, punishing landowners for good stewardship can have extremely negative consequences for endangered and threatened species.

This perverse, anti-wildlife, incentive within the ESA would be all-but-eliminated if the ESA is brought in line with the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that private property should not be taken for public use without just compensation. Property owners who have their property taken or who are denied the productive use of it due to federal species recovery efforts deserve 100% of fair market value in compensation for losses. If property owners receive this compensation, and are secure in their belief that they can be good environmental stewards without risking (at-times ruinous) financial losses, species will benefit.

Also, as a matter of simple fairness, law-abiding American landowners should be able to learn, within a reasonable time, whether a proposed use of their property would run afoul of the Endangered Species Act. Under the current ESA, after landowners apply to the Department of Interior for permission to use their property, they can be forced to wait years for a response - years during which they often are unable to use land they legally own, and on which they pay taxes.

This injustice could be prevented by establishing a time limit within which the Department of Interior must issue final decisions.

Secure property rights are a fundamental cornerstone of our liberty and are integral to our nation's prosperity. Happily - if we as a nation would just recognize it - if we honor these fundamental rights in the ESA, endangered species will benefit.

So that it will work better for wildlife and people, the Endangered Species Act should be reformed to respect the Constitution. We urge you to keep this in mind as you begin your important work.
Full PDF copy here.

In September, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation to reform elements of the Endangered Species Act that pit landowners against species. The environmental movement lobbied hard against the bill.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:06 PM

Socialized Medicine: Learning from Canada

The wave of the future in Canada: Replacing the anachronistic "socialized medicine" health care model with one based on private enterprise.

The New York Times has the story. An excerpt:
...[Canada's] publicly financed health insurance system -- frequently described as the third rail of its political system and a core value of its national identity -- is gradually breaking down. Private clinics are opening around the country by an estimated one a week, and private insurance companies are about to find a gold mine.

Dr. [Brian] Day, for instance, is planning to open more private hospitals, first in Toronto and Ottawa, then in Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton. Ontario provincial officials are already threatening stiff fines. Dr. Day says he is eager to see them in court.

"We've taken the position that the law is illegal," Dr. Day, 59, says. "This is a country in which dogs can get a hip replacement in under a week and in which humans can wait two to three years."

Dr. Day may be a rebel (he keeps a photograph of himself with Fidel Castro behind his desk), but he appears to be on top of a new wave in Canada's health care future. He is poised to become the president of the Canadian Medical Association next year, and his profitable Vancouver hospital is serving as a model for medical entrepreneurs in several provinces.

Canada remains the only industrialized country that outlaws privately financed purchases of core medical services. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other politicians remain reluctant to openly propose sweeping changes even though costs for the national and provincial governments are exploding and some cancer patients are waiting months for diagnostic tests and treatment.

But a Supreme Court ruling last June -- it found that a Quebec provincial ban on private health insurance was unconstitutional when patients were suffering and even dying on waiting lists -- appears to have become a turning point for the entire country.
As Canadians wake up to the perils of socialized medicine, a disturbing number of influential Americans remain dogmatic believers in government-run medicine.

Ted Kennedy, for example, said in a major speech last year:
...I propose that, as a 40th birthday [of Medicare] gift to the American people, we expand Medicare over the next decade to cover every citizen from birth to the end of life.

It's no secret that America is still dearly in love with Medicare. Administrative costs are low, patient satisfaction is high, unlike with many private insurers, they can still choose their doctor and their hospital.

For those who prefer the private insurance, we will offer comparable coverage under the same range of private insurance plans already available to Congress.

I call this approach Medicare for all, because it will free all Americans from the fear of crippling medical expenses and enable them to seek the best possible care when illness strikes.

The battle to achieve Medicare for all will not be easy. Powerful interests will strongly oppose it, because they profit immensely from the status quo.

Right-wing forces will unleash false attack ads, ranting against socialized medicine and government-run health care. But those attacks are a generation out of date, retreads of the failed campaign that delayed Medicare in the 1950s and '60s.

Today we are immunized against such attacks by the obvious success of Medicare. It is long past time to extend that success to all...
Medicare is insolvent. Call me a wacky woman if you will, but I think that limits the degree to which we can accurately call it a "success."

Writing for the Hoover Institution, Thomas J. Healey (a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan) and Robert Steel (a former vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs) had this to say:
While President George W. Bush remains focused on Social Security, an even bigger fiscal time bomb is ticking away in the United States -- Medicare.

The Social Security trust fund is projected to become exhausted in 2041, but the public health system runs completely dry much sooner: in 2020. What is more, to bring Social Security into balance over the next 75 years would require a 15 percent increase in payroll taxes today (or a corresponding reduction in benefits), whereas bringing Medicare into balance would require an immediate 107 percent increase in revenue (or a 48 percent reduction in outlays).Even more significant, the present underfunding of Medicare ($29.7 trillion) is more than seven times that of Social Security ($4 trillion).

Few leaders in Washington seem willing to face the fact that Medicare is a structurally broken system -- in far worse shape than Social Security -- that could bring the American economy to its knees in a relatively short amount of time.

As accumulating evidence makes abundantly clear, Medicare is not just an undercapitalized system but a severely flawed model. One of its biggest defects is the inherent mismatch between revenues and expenditures...
In my view, it would be foolish to adopt anything like Canada's government-run health care model -- especially as Canadians increasingly are disenchanted with it. At minimum, however, I'd like to think nearly all Americans could agree on this one simple point: The insolvent Medicare system should not be expanded to cover everyone from birth to death when it cannot even afford to cover people 65 and older.

Should Medicare be covering the babies of billionaires when it can't afford even to cover seniors?

Hat tip: Kevin, M.D.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:06 AM

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Camera Coverage of the Supreme Court

Although it isn't addressed in her post, Ann Althouse makes very good arguments today for extending C-Span-style camera coverage to arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is a soapbox I have been on for years (see here for one example). Ann also has addressed the issue directly, and is in favor.

Back in the 1980s, our current Chief Justice, John Roberts, expressed skepticism about the wisdom of having camera coverage of the Supreme Court. (I base this on a statement he made in a panel discussion back then, itself broadcast by C-Span and rebroadcast in 2005.) During his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, however, Roberts said he was agnostic on the point -- so at least he is heading in the right direction.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:20 PM

Possible Autism Research Advance

A possible forward step in the search for a medical treatment for autism?

From DrugResearcher.com:
Researchers have isolated a protein molecule that may hold the key to learning and memory disorders that have been linked with autism. By isolating this potential drug target, new therapies for diseases in which synapses either fail or proliferate out of control could be produced.

The master protein shed more light as to the molecular pathway it guides and additionally could help investigators understand the process of learning and memory. More importantly, a host of effective treatments, which are based on these findings, could be a real possibility
Independent research teams from Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston identified a protein that works in the nucleus of neurons that either pares down or promotes synapses depending on whether or not the neuron is being activated.

The protein, myocyte enhancer factor 2 (MEF2), turns on and off genes that control dendritic remodeling. In addition, one of the teams has identified how MEF2 switches from one program to the other, that is, from dendrite-promoting to dendrite-pruning, and the researchers have identified some of MEF2's targets.

"Changes in the morphology of synapses could turn out to be very important in a whole host of diseases including neurodegenerative as well as psychiatric disorders," said Azad Bonni, HMS associate professor of Pathology who, with colleagues, authored one of the papers...

...The identification of these targets, and more generally the opening up of the MEF2 pathway, could lead to new therapies for a host of diseases in which synapses either fail to form or run rampant.

Michael Greenberg, HMS Professor of Neurology at Children's Hospital Boston, who led the second team, is currently a member of a consortium that is trying to get at the molecular underpinnings of autism. "We think the MEF2 pathway may be central," he said.

The research appears in two papers in the latest issue of Science (Feb 17).

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:06 AM

Where Have You Gone, Emily Post?

Washingtonian magazine interviews Robin Givhan, the Washington Post "reporter" who made fun of John Roberts' wife and two small children. For those who don't remember, Mrs. Roberts and the children dressed nicely, and conservatively (traditional dresses and a suit), when appearing at the White House, with the President of the United States, when John Roberts' first nomination to the Supreme Court was announced.

The Washingtonian piece:
But the piece that really riled readers was her essay about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts's appearance with his family at the White House last summer when President Bush announced his nomination: "His wife and children stood before the cameras, groomed and glossy in pastel hues -- like a trio of Easter eggs, a handful of Jelly Bellies, three little Necco wafers."

Children are out of bounds, readers complained. Givhan says kids are fair game "when their parents dress them as if they were props."
Dressing well for an important occasion is simply good manners. One wonders why Robin Givhan doesn't know this.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:42 AM

Blogotional: The Ugliest Statistic

Blogotional reports that 42 percent of the children born in the United Kingdom in 2004 were born to parents who couldn't be bothered to get married first.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:37 AM

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Or Perhaps He's Never Really Thought About It

I gather ABC's Bill Blakemore believes objectivity has nothing to do with journalism.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:40 PM

Friday, February 24, 2006

Global Warming Humor

Pretty funny post.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:10 AM

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Brent Bozell: Press Corps Enables Secrecy

Brent Bozell has written another doozy of a column. This one compares Time's and Newsweek's coverage of the Dick Cheney shooting with its coverage of another shooting by a White House official -- one that was a great deal more significant, but received far less attention from these newsmagazines.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:05 PM

Heritage Foundation: UAE-Port Security Recommendation

In a study by James Jay Carafano and Alane Kochems, the Heritage Foundation weighs in on the UAE-port security controversy.

The piece begins:
The sale of facilities at six U.S ports by a British-based company to Dubai World Ports, a government-owned company in the United Arab Emirates, has raised concerns among many in the homeland security community. While a review of the facts suggest no apparent security issues, these concerns do reflect the importance of ensuring that the system created by Congress to review the sale of foreign investments in the United States is functioning properly. Congress should take 45 days to review the sale to Dubai World Ports. Because Congress has not closely reviewed this oversight process since 9/11, a brief delay is reasonable and warranted...
Read the rest here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:58 PM

And, Yes, She Tells You What a Podcast Is

Jennifer Biddison provides a review of which conservative groups are providing podcasts, and ends her review with a list of urls for obtaining an assortment of them.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:16 AM

Another Cartoon Heard From

Via Bishop Grewell writing on The Commons, I learned that Dilbert has an opinion on the importance of buying fuel efficient cars.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:12 AM

Mother of the Year

Ninety-pound-mom sees a 700-pound bear sizing up her seven-year-old, so mom beats up the bear.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:43 AM

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

We Are a Hotbed of Raving Trotskyist Revolutionaries (er, No, Cato Is)

Salon magazine says The National Center "makes the Cato Institute look like a hotbed of raving Trotskyist revolutionaries."

Gee, and we didn't do anything nice for Salon...

Such a comment will be fun to use in our promotional literature, which is why we are happy to see it, but Salon actually meant it as an insult, or so I assume, since they followed up by decrying our "intellectual dishonesty." Here's an excerpt from the Salon piece:
...yesterday a reader had sent me a link to an article attacking the Kyoto Protocol "as economic suicide," citing a study that had found adhering to Kyoto's mandates would cut one or two points off GDP growth in various European nations. So I decided to look a little closer at that study.

Written under the auspices of the National Center for Public Policy Research, an ultra-conservative think tank that makes the Cato Institute look like a hotbed of raving Trotskyist revolutionaries, the piece is a classic example of the bought-and-paid-for intellectual dishonesty of so-called "climate skeptics." The study that it quotes for its GDP predictions was produced by a group affiliated with the American Council For Capital Foundation [sic]...

...The ACCF gets hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from ExxonMobil...
Let's deconstruct this a little.

A paper we published on the fact that Europe is failing to meet its Kyoto targets cited the International Council for Capital Formation as its source for two sentences of GDP and projected job loss data about the economic pain Kyoto is causing the UK, Italy, Germany and Spain. The sentences add detail to the piece but are not its central theme: even if the International Council for Capital Formation had never existed, Europe would still be failing to meet its Kyoto targets.

Salon's beef is not with the International Council for Capital Formation, however, but with its American affiliate, the American Council for Capital Formation, which, it claims, receives funding from ExxonMobil.

The mere citation of a study by a think-tank affiliated with another one that receives ExxonMobil funding makes our piece "a classic example of... bought-and-paid-for intellectual dishonesty" in Salon's way of thinking -- even though the piece's thesis is correct: Europe is failing to meet its Kyoto targets and the reason is economic pain.

Europe tried to get us to ratify the Kyoto treaty and yet is failing to live up to Kyoto itself. If Salon has a different theory than a reluctance to sustain economic harm to explain Europe's hypocrisy on this matter, I look forward to reading Salon's theory.

By the way, here's a list of the board of trustees (directors) of the International Council for Capital Formation. Remember as you read the list - which includes a former Democratic National Committee Chairman and former Secretary of State for Ronald Reagan, among many other luminaries - that the mere citation of GDP data determined in a study by this group is enough to get our work labeled "a classic example of... bought-and-paid-for intellectual dishonesty."

Kyoto's defenders are desperate - and unwilling to debate the real issue. Kyoto was and remains bad policy, and even its biggest boosters - the Europeans - know it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:32 PM

Monday, February 20, 2006

Cheney Burped Today; Was Press Given the Full Story?

Howard Kurtz says:
Nothing makes journalists madder than the feeling that they're not getting the full story...
I'm sure Kurtz's formulation has great appeal for those (journalists all) who believe the journalists-as-truth-tellers mythology, but I doubt the irritation Kurtz identifies is even in the top ten.

Something that would place higher would be "Nothing makes journalists madder than the feeling a competitor journalist got the story first..." (Getting the truth to the public is less important than getting credit for getting, well, whatever, to the public.)

Something else that would place higher would be "Nothing makes journalists madder than realizing the target of a corruption or incompetence allegation is just as likely to be honest and/or competent..." (For such tragic circumstances, the art of insinuation was invented.)

Something else that would place higher would be "Nothing makes journalists madder than learning they are not the center of the universe..."

Okay, I overreached on that last one. That hypothesis remains untested.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:25 AM

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Katrina Aftermath: Recriminations, Rancor and Racial Divisions Don't Help Us Learn from Our Mistakes

Annelie O'Neal Roche, who sent dispatches to this blog while working in New Orleans with her National Guard unit during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (see here, here, here and here), has some thoughts about the Katrina "blame game" currently being conducted in Washington,

Says Lili:
A Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs inquiry into the handling of Hurricane Katrina in recent weeks has reignited the political recriminations over the response to Hurricane Katrina's destruction of New Orleans. As a soldier who was deployed there for a month, and with family members and church friends who have made contributions to help the victims, I feel especially pained at the way this issue is being debated.

I understand this is an election year, and that our President is in his sixth year, second term, meaning he is not running for office again. It is therefore only natural that partisan debate and demagoguery will be at a fever pitch. Nonetheless, in the interest of understanding what happened and how this relates to the future, especially as regards the next natural disaster, I fear this debate is bulldozing over some important realities.

First is that the media and many politicians falsely exaggerated the scope of the disaster. I remember when Randal Robinson reported that "black hurricane victims in New Orleans have begun eating corpses to survive." Most of these totally outrageous statements, after being circulated extensively nationwide and globally, were retracted with apologies. Nonetheless, as we saw in the Congressional testimony, there has been serious damage done to the social fiber of our country. Many people continue to believe such things happened.

Second is that racial divisions have been manipulated and exploited in cruel and destructive ways. I saw in New Orleans that the damage and loss of life was about even racially, also in terms of income and class status. Voluminous reporting, however, has consistently manufactured the illusion that this wasn't the case. I don't see how inflaming racial tensions helps New Orleans or enables us to learn from the mistakes. Further, lost in all this is the much larger destruction that occurred in Mississippi and Alabama.

Third are the Hollywood-ish distortions of what actually occurred. New Orleans suffered damage in some areas, but other areas went almost unscathed. Yes the destruction in those areas worst hit was horrifying and tragic, but the portrayal that everything was destroyed down there just isn't accurate. Rather, such portrayals should be made about Mississippi and Alabama, but, strangely, those two states are largely ignored.

Fourth is the bizarre notion that anyone could be held responsible for a natural disaster hitting a city built below sea level. There is so much finger-pointing, mostly partisan, and harsh attacks on various leaders here and there. Lost in all this is the fact that this was a storm, Mother Nature, that struck a city that was settled centuries ago in a dangerous place.

Fifth is the forgetfulness over the responsibilities of the City of New Orleans. No one seems to remember that the New Orleans Office of Emergency Preparedness in its Emergency Guide for Citizens stated clearly that "we coordinate all city departments and allied state and federal agencies. All requests for disaster assistance and federal funding subsequent to disaster declarations are also made through this office." When flying over the city, I saw buses everywhere sitting idle in the water. Yet those buses were to be used for evacuation according to the city's own plans. Had that happened, we would be having none of today's angry debate.

Sixth, I don't understand how the President was supposed to take over all this and make everything happen against the local leaderships' own desires. The acute timelines everyone is focusing on about who-knew-what-when seems to overlook these fundamental sovereignty and jurisdiction issues. And as a soldier whose unit is tasked for Washington D.C., I can tell you that had the President gone into the streets to "lead" the response, that would have been a security nightmare complicating and impeding our rescue missions terribly.

I could go on, but the rest get into the partisan political debate. Having lived overseas, I respect and value our political and 1st Amendment freedoms to debate everything imaginable. I do fear that much of the debate, however, is divorced from reality. This concerns me because there were mistakes made and there are lessens to be learned. The recriminations, rancor and especially the racial targeting of the issues just doesn't help.

As I said at the top, I understand that this is an election year, so such issues are going to be hot and tense. I hope, though, that AFTER the election we will have a sober and thoughtful assessment made of what went wrong and what to learn from it all.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:09 AM

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Houston's Clear Thinkers Has a Question for Bill O'Reilly

Houston's Clear Thinkers is waiting for a word of explanation from the Fox New Channel's Bill O'Reilly about why oil company CEOs are "allowing" a drop in oil prices.

O'Reilly, of course, told the world that the post-Katrina gas price increase was not a reflection of market forces, but was "manipulated" by oil company CEOs.

One assumes that if O'Reilly was right, the CEOs would be keeping the prices high in order to maximize their companies' profits.

Indeed, if the CEOs have the power O'Reilly claims they have, they might very well owe it to their stockholders to keep the prices high.

So why aren't they, Bill?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:11 AM

Friday, February 17, 2006

Fickle Fickle

Mark Tapscott is featuring a link to a radio commercial decrying government I.D. cards and the government's infringement upon people's privacy rights.

Ironically, if you follow the link on Mark's site, and listen to the commercial, as I did, it turns out to be an appeal for visitors to become "a card-carrying member" of an organization that fights against your First Amendment religious freedom rights.

i guess the group likes some cards and not others, and treats rights the same way.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:50 PM

Kyoto: Cheaters Never Win

Vodkapundit has a nice discussion going about Dana Gattuso's commemoration of the Kyoto global warming treaty's first and altogether unsuccessful first anniversary.

Stephen notes that Europe "rigged" the Kyoto game, but is losing anyway. He's quite right.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:02 PM

Oh, Shut Up

Now the news media is criticizing Dick Cheney's neckwear, while Media Matters complains that Cheney took responsibility for the hunting accident when witnesses reportedly say it wasn't solely Cheney's fault.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:44 AM

Double Standard for Rush Limbaugh

This silliness from Bryant Gumbel about the winter Olympics being too white is far more offensive than Rush Limbaugh saying the news media wished black quarterback Donovan McNabb well.

Compare the reaction to Bryant Gumbel's comments with these very hostile and anti-conservative columns written by ignorant sportswriters when Rush Limbaugh was being pilloried.

(You know, I'm actually not offended by Gumbel's comments per se; more offensive than his comments is the fact that major networks think the American people are clueless enough to buy into his nonsense. Gumbel has spouted nonsense for many years. And the double-standard is offensive, of course.)

Addendum 2/17/06: Atlas Blogged asks:
What if Rush Limbaugh came on the air on one of his shows and said something like "I am not a fan of the NBA because there are just not enough white people in it. Going to an NBA game is like going to a Democratic Convention.
Well, we know what would happen if he said it on ESPN. They'd ban him from the airwaves and immediately put a poll on the main page of ESPN asking the same question they had just penalized Rush for asking.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:27 AM

Environmentalist Sports and How They Harm Us

Alan Caruba of the National Anxiety Center sent along thoughts on a polar bear story.

Unfortunately, it is not a story about cute bears, but dangerous ones -- the environmentalists who are using the current unreformed and unsuccessful Endangered Species Act to bludgeon, sue and spend (with tax dollars) their way into controlling so much of this nation's economy Americans may someday almost start wishing they were in Stalinist Russia (another great leftie experiment gone oh-so-predicably and lethally awry).

Says Alan:
What could possibly be more arrogant than to think that humans should determine which specie continues and which goes extinct? Or that humans can, in fact, keep a specie from going extinct?

A news item in the February 20 edition of U.S. News & World Report noted, "Citing concerns over climate change, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week began reviewing whether polar bears should be declared a threatened species. If they are, federal regulations would be required to considered the impact on the animals before ruling on such matters as industrial emissions or fuel economy standards."

I submit that is such madness and idiocy that the mere stating of the notion polar bears are going extinct or threatened by the alleged melting of the Arctic is too bizarre for rational people to contemplate. That said, the USFW will dispatch people "to collect data on polar bear population, distribution, the effects of climate change, and threats from development, contaminants, and poaching." Guess who set this nonsense in motion?

If you said the Center for Biological Diversity of Tucson, Arizona, you'd be right. Not exactly a hotbed of polar bear activity, the Center asserts that, "Arctic melting could cause polar bears to become extinct by century's end." "Could" is the key word here.

This is a splendid example of the way the environmental movement is forever cozying up to the federal government to get it to spend your tax dollars on projects of such dubious merit that a school child would dismiss it out of hand. Polar bears going extinct? The whole of the Arctic melting?

The last time I checked, the State of Alaska offered the wandering polar bears some 571,951 square miles, surrounded by 91,316 square miles of water in which to frolic. Alaska is the largest of all the U.S. States. Room enough for plenty of polar bears, scads of caribou, all manner of wildlife, and even the occasional oilrig or two with which to extract millions of barrels of oil from ANWR.

Could it be all the worrying about polar bears has nothing to do with polar bears and everything to do with thwarting the effort to reduce our dependence on the Middle East for the oil we consume? The answer is yes!

Environmentalists whose second greatest sport is playing God and whose first is getting laws passed to deprive people of the use of all public and private property in America, have been playing this game for a very long time. As this is being written, instead of just letting the Endangered Species Act go extinct, Congress is wrestling with ways to continue what is arguably the single worst piece of legislation of the past thirty-two years.

How's this for a record-setting level of incompetence? Since its enactment, the ESA has listed 1,300 species as endangered. Only 34 of these species have made it off the list and, of these, 9 are now extinct, 14 are now judged to have been improperly listed, and 9 have been judged to have "recovered" to be delisted. That's less than one percent!

The real story of the ESA is even worse than this appalling waste of tax dollars and the personnel to run about counting the population of these species. The ESA has been used to destroy the livelihood of thousands who worked for the northwestern timber industry, effecting turning some communities into ghost towns. The U.S. actually imports timber from Canada despite having an abundance of it here. The ESA was used to bludgeon the farmers in Klamath Falls, Oregon, when the water they needed for irrigation was shut off to protect a suckerfish! The examples of how the ESA has been used to deprive Americans of the value and use of their private property are endless.

The United States of America has got to rid itself of the folly of "saving" various species while decimating the lives and livelihood of Americans in the name of some fish or some owl, some wolf or some bear.

Ninety-five percent of all the species that ever called Earth home are extinct. Let's show some care for those that share the Earth, but let's not throw millions at their alleged survival because some environmentalists want to ruin our national economy.

America is not Disneyland where all the animals and fish sing and dance. America is the home to people who farm, who harvest trees, who graze livestock, who do all the hard work of providing us the food and other things we need.
See more of Alan's commentaries on a variety of subjects at the National Anxiety Center.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:46 AM

Brannon Howse: Christian "Leaders" Drinking Leftie Kool-Aid

A Christian columnist is wondering why a group of supposed Christian leaders who "would rarely, if ever, take a stand publicly on moral issues such as abortion and homosexuality" are willing to do the "bidding" of ultra-left, pro-abortion foundations when it comes to the issue of global warming.

An excerpt:
This is an emerging brand of Christianity that is assisting in and giving credibility and cover to groups in favor of globalism, the end of national sovereignty, tyranny and eventually the persecution of Christians. Let's face it; the environmental initiative of many of today's popular Christian leaders is being funded by some of the most anti-Christian, anti-American, globalist organizations. Follow the money trail.

The group of 85 is nothing less than the secular left's Trojan horse that has been placed inside evangelical circles. The question is, does the group of 85 know they are being used? If so, what does that say about the group of 85? If they don't know they are being used what does that tell you about their discernment? Can you really follow any of these "evangelical" leaders that are either complicit or ignorant in their involvement with such anti-Christian, globalist organizations?
Howse's entire column is here.

Note: I blogged about the Kool-Aid drinkers Howse refers to yesterday; more to come.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:49 AM

Watching Others Work

Alan Caruba of the National Anxiety Center is not enthuasiastic about labor unions.

Says Alan:
Unions breed corruption and incompetence. They increase costs. They ignore their own membership. They engage in nepotism. They are advocates of the most retrograde liberal programs and politics. Is there really a good reason for unions to continue? I cannot think of one.
I'd take it a bit further than Alan, but he's on the right track.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:23 AM

Thursday, February 16, 2006

No Promises, But the Trade Is Worth Considering

From the unofficial Department of Silliness:
Hockey players in four countries will lace up today to protest inaction on climate change, which they say threatens the future of their game.

"Save hockey, stop climate change," will be the slogan for participants in Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver, Whitehorse, and Fort Smith, N.W.T.

Games also are planned in the United States, Sweden, and Austria.

"Climate change is the biggest threat to hockey since the NHL labour talks," Mike Hudema, of the U.S. environmental group Global Exchange, said in a news release yesterday....
Tell you what, Mike. You lefties get rid of labor unions, and we'll talk about Kyoto.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:33 PM

Europe to America: Do As We Say, Not as We Do

On the occasion of Kyoto's first anniversary, Dana Joel Gattuso takes a look at Europe's record (so far) of adhering to the treaty it lectured Americans to adopt.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:12 PM

Pollute the Bible to Save the Earth

Noting that some Christians now are claiming -- literally -- to speak in the name of Jesus Christ ("In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, we urge all who read this declaration to join us in this effort") when they make pronouncements on global warming, I thought I would direct blog readers to this excellent paper by Samuel Casey Carter, "What Scriptures Tell Us About Environmental Stewardship."

Some excerpts:
Now that secular liberalism has all but driven orthodox religion out of public life, it should come as no surprise that heterodox spirituality has become the latest battering ram of the left. In a time when the Bible has been expunged from schoolrooms as an icon of Western bigotry, biblical arguments are now oddly on the comeback, recast as a fashionable means of pushing a leftist agenda. What is not to be expected is the degree to which well-meaning Christians have become the spokesmen of these distortions. Embracing the tenets of radical environmentalism without an eye to the manner in which these teachings are fundamentally hostile to Christian tradition, a new brand of Christian is out to save the earth, but in so doing he may well flip his faith upon its head...

...A number of Evangelical organizations have recently risen to prominence by popularizing what they take to be biblical mandates for their activist brand of environmentalism. With names like the Evangelical Environmental Network, the Christian Environmental Association, and the Christian Society of the Green Cross, a whole swarm of seemingly mainstream Protestant organizations conjures support for their activist programs through specious readings of disconnected biblical texts...

...But regardless of anyone's support for the Endangered Species Act, Superfund, or any of the programs initiated by the Environmental Protection Agency, the specific manipulation of biblical passages in order to achieve certain political goals is an abuse that must be met head on. If the Bible says anything about man's sound management of natural resources, it does so only in the setting of man's relationship with God...

...The [Evangelical Environmental Network's Declaration on the Care of Creation] sums up this state of affairs with the odd formulation, "because we have sinned, we have failed in our stewardship of creation." As it turns out, the material world is suffering for man's spiritual deficiencies. Make no mistake about it, this way of talking subordinates religious belief to a materialist view of the world... Throughout the Declaration all of the appeals to scriptural authority are a ruse. All of the pious inflections are a sham. The only concern here is for how the genius of human science will overcome the finite limits of God's creation. Interestingly, one of the chief expressions of that genius are the contraceptive methods necessary to "insure thoughtful procreation."

The reference to extending Christ's healing is particularly telling. In the same way Christ redeemed man, now man has to redeem the Earth. Needless to say, in all of man's saving activity, God is made redundant...

...Earth is not the proper object of man's religious longings. But when a man is taught to care for the Earth with a zeal reserved for the love of God, a few things are sure to be misplaced: God and man, for starters...

...Christian environmentalists have turned the world on its head. In using language reserved for God to show their concern for the Earth, they have only bred contempt for man and made a mockery of real religion. What they have not done is to make the Earth a proper object of worship. It can't be. But more to the point, theirs is not a genuine religious concern. They have simply invoked religious rhetoric to give new urgency to their worldly agenda. Sadly, for those who don't discern this agenda, this manner of speaking will make an idol of the Earth...

...When the Lord God revealed himself to Moses on Mount Sinai, he commanded all of Israel to have no false gods before him. In their fidelity to the Lord God, the people Israel kept the Lord's words in their hearts, on their wrists, before their eyes, and upon their door posts. When later they crossed the Jordan to take possession of the land that the Lord God had given them, they were careful to observe all the statutes and decrees that he had set before them.

Should they ever follow false gods, they would lose the land that the Lord God had given to them for their benefit...
These excerpts do not do the paper justice. Please read it all here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:34 AM

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

While the Cat's Away

The White House press corps is obsessed with Dick Cheney, while the Fox News Channel at this moment is providing a live shot of the top of the car escorting murder suspect Neil Entwistle.

I think we should do something useful while these folks are preoccupied. Repair Social Security, perhaps. Or take out the Iranian nuke facilities. Something.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:42 PM

Jailing Terrorists, for Good

Deroy Murdock has the rundown on escaped terrorists on the run.

Says Deroy:
The stakes are too high -- and too many people could be killed -- to risk more overseas terrorist escapes...

...turning Guantanamo into a Yucca Mountain for terrorists will make Leftists wail. Let them. It's hard to believe, but the shrieks of liberals are easier on the ears than the blasts of bombs.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:29 PM

Pappy Boyington is Still a Hero

Spoiled kids at the University of Washington are rejecting honors for an American military hero.

Michelle Malkin has the details.

Probably the best we can hope for is that when these children grow up, they'll feel ashamed. As they should.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:16 PM

The Divas Were Denied

Brent Bozell skewers the White House press corps.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:53 AM

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Unions Have Thin Skin?

The left seems a mite touchy about this new website.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:38 PM

Get Paid to Drive a Carriage

Hilarious and educational at the same time. Be sure to read the comments.

Hat tip: Tapscott's Copy Desk

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:13 PM

Good News, Unacknowledged

Mychal Massie talks about what Rev. Joseph Lowery could have said at Coretta Scott King's memorial service.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:23 PM

Monday, February 13, 2006

Leadership

Star Parker says:
If [Rev. Joseph Lowery] thought about it, and wanted to be honest about it, he might appreciate that because he and his colleagues couldn't get off the soapbox after the work was done in 1965, just as he couldn't get off the soapbox at Mrs. King's funeral, they helped lead a community that was breaking out of the shackles of oppression into a new slavery of dependence.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:25 PM

Child Killer to Be Resentenced Due to Technicality

Maryland has ordered a new sentencing hearing for a "man" who slit an eight-year-old's throat, killing her.

Apparently, the evil killer, in the words of the Washington Post, "was not questioned rigorously enough before he was permitted to waive his right to be sentenced by a jury."

The evil killer's lawyer, the Post reports, admits the evidence against his client was "airtight on the murder." He disputes whether he kidnapped the victim first.

The Post also says:
Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly said he was dismayed by the result, particularly because the state prevailed on each individual claim the court considered. "I'm doing a real bad job explaining to this family how we can win the individual issues and still have to go back for resentencing," Cassilly said.
I bet that is hard to explain.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:17 PM

Priorities

It strikes me that the news media is chattering its teeth off about the Dick Cheney "when did we know it" story in part because stories like this are easier for them to gab about than complicated issues that actually matter, such as the fact that Medicare is underfunded by 29 trillion dollars.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:52 PM

Sunday, February 12, 2006

In the Woods and Taking a Day Off...

...and still some in the press think Dick Cheney is supposed to be talking to them every second.

24 hours, more or less, just doesn't make much of a difference.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:25 PM

Freedom Has Limits

More outrage over the Muhammad cartoon.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:14 PM

Independent Finds Yet Another "Unprecedented" Global Warming Challenge

Mark Finkelstein, writing for Newsbusters, makes well-deserved fun of the ridiculous UK Independent story "Starving Polar Bears Shame Bush to Act," dated February 12.

The article begins:
Starving polar bears are presenting an unprecedented challenge to George Bush's refusal to take action over global warming - and may succeed where environmentalists and other governments have failed in getting him to curb pollution...
Thoughts on the opening sentence:

1) Can "a refusal' be "challenged"? President Bush can be challenged, but "a refusal" isn't responsible for itself. What would be the point of challenging it?

2) If this particular global warming challenge is "unprecedented," how do we characterize the 999,999 other articles in the Independent crying about global warming challenges? Were they secretly about something else?

3) The Bush Administration (correction: U.S. taxpayers) spent $10 billion since 2001 on clean energy research and Bush proposes increasing this by 22 percent. The UK Independent may call this "a refusal to take action," but you can be sure the Independent's stalwart commitment to whining about Bush would not keep them from utilizing whatever benefits may come from this spending.

4) "Getting him to curb pollution." Does this even need to be fisked? Americans in the private and public sector have spent billions curbing pollution (primarily not a climate change issue anyway, even if one accepts the environmentalist notion that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, which it is not), and Bush has not stopped this. In fact, despite what one hears from often politically-motivated environmentalists, Bush has added to these regulations. (Take, for instance, environmentalist complaints about Bush's mercury regulations. Bush, unlike Clinton, acted decisively on mercury, but MoveOn.org nonetheless ran an ad campaign attacking their design -- featuring the Clinton Administration's EPA director. Shameless.)

I could go on fisking this piece, but fisking its first 35 words took me 298 words. At that rate, fisking the entire thing would take 3,900 words. The article doesn't deserve that kind of attention, and, besides, I promised my kids I would take them out to play in the snow.

Addendum, 2-12-06: The Political Dogs has identified "more eco-garbage." Bizzy Blog seems to be taking it more seriously, however.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:08 PM

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Only Seven Years?

The "mom" who starved her kids gets only seven years in prison.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:37 PM

Tyrrell: Root of Cartoon Clash is Old Men

R. Emmett Tyrrell says the cartoon clash ultimately is the fault of old men:
The Islamicist agitators have two sources of power: the lone terrorist willing to blow himself up and the mob of young men willing to riot. It is these two instrumentalities that the Islamicist leaders rely on to acquire influence and power. These two instrumentalities are alarming, but take heart. They are also the conditions of a decadent, dysfunctional culture. Death and destruction do not create civilizations or prosperous societies or even a conquering army. Frankly, though I am no theologian, I doubt they can create heaven on earth. They are the death rattle of a dead culture.

Why so many of the countries dominated by Islam are in such a heap is a good question. Economists claim that it is because Islam does not encourage entrepreneurship. Neoconservatives argue that these countries have been denied democracy because of the rule of tyrants. And there are sociologists who perceive a deeper cause, the ancient patriarchy of these countries.

In places such as Syria, which is mostly Arab, and Iran, which is not, old men rule their families and their clans. They keep women and girls in the background. They keep young men in inferior status, despite the young men's talents and energies. The consequence is a lot of angry, frustrated young men. Such young men are available for riot at the drop of a, well, at the drop of a cartoon...
Read the rest here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:08 AM

Tide Turning Against Profiteering Trial Lawyers?

The Wall Street Journal says we have reason for a little bit of hope:
It's amazing what a little courage from the bench can do to clean up the justice system. Now that word is out that most silicosis lawsuits are shams, ever more judges are helping to expose the corruption.

The latest is Florida state Judge David Krathen, who in a recent hearing rebuked plaintiffs lawyers for inventing silicosis suits, and declared "mind-boggling" the effect that phony suits were having on the "economic well-being of this country." He vowed to ride herd on the claims in his court, separating the good cases from the fake.

This isn't the way trial lawyers are used to being treated, and credit for this tougher approach goes in part to Texas federal Judge Janis Graham Jack. Judge Krathen made specific reference to the litigation Judge Jack presided over last year, in which she exposed how lawyers, doctors and X-ray screening companies had "manufactured" some 10,000 bogus silicosis suits "for money."
Read the rest here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:15 AM

Friday, February 10, 2006

I'd Write More, But the Kids Want Dinner

Advice from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute:
Protracted relaxation, besides eating up time, interferes with the momentum of a life of work.
Not that I had not already learned this advice from life experience, but it is rather depressing to see work expressed as the purpose of life. We work. We die. The end.

I had rather hoped that at the end of the work there was, well, an end to it.

No such luck, says ISI.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:58 PM

Not Intended for Distribution Outside the Washington Post

The Washington Post has released a report in which its own staff discusses the things they like and do not like about working at the Washington Post.

As it is a "diversity report," it emphasizes race and gender, but as this is the Post, of course it does. However, a great deal of other material is covered.

On page five of the report (PDF link), for instance, a Post staffer complains about a perceived "anti-religious bias in the newsroom." The staffer who complained noted that some of her colleagues, including her boss, mocked the late Pope during media coverage of his funeral.

On page eight, a staffer is reported believing "the staff should stop supporting partisan agendas, and [the staffer] cited the recent presidential election, where her co-workers seemed to be in favor of one candidate."

Some of the paragraphs are disconcerting, such as one on page 25 about a young female reporter who complained that it was "awkward" to be partnered professionally with a colleague who is older, male and of another race, and the accompanying recommendation (by the report's authors) to management that her desire to work with people based on her preferences for race and gender should be accommodated. (If one can't even work with people who are different, how can one faithfully understand and accurately communicate disparate points of view in one's stories?)

As the report is not especially flattering to the Post, despite an occasional self-congratulatory comment within it, I was planning on commending the paper for making it public. However, the last line of the document reads: "...not developed or intended for distribution or dissemination outside the Washington Post."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:36 PM

Ethics Review

Via Ann Althouse, I happened on a New York Times story by Jim Rutenberg that begins:
With his decisive re-election victory behind him, Michael R. Bloomberg has been acting more like the man he once was before he entered politics: namely, like a Democrat.

Freed from the political considerations of a campaign and with no aspirations for higher office, Mr. Bloomberg seems to be shedding his already thin Republican skin, and has taken a number of positions that are fully, even aggressively, at odds with the party he joined months before his 2001 mayoral run.

Witness:

*Last week, Mr. Bloomberg donated $100 million to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, "anonymously," and stipulated that part of the money be used for stem cell research, which is anathema to the Republicans' core base of anti-abortion voters because human embryos are often destroyed in the process of gathering stem cells...
How can the new York Times not know by now that not all stem cell research involves embryonic stem cells?

This FAQs page from the website of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering -- which will benefit from Bloomberg's largesse -- explains some of the differences between various stem cells and notes genuine ethical issues surrounding their use. The FAQ is quite sanitized, in my view, but at least it does not cast all the stem cell ethical issues as being solely in the minds of "the Republicans' core base of anti-abortion voters."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:55 PM

The Publicity-Driven Life

Don Suber asks: "Since when does a divinity degree give you expertise in climatology?"

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:22 PM

Satirizing Fiction or Accidentally Admitting the Holocaust Really Happened?

Atlas Blogged wonders how Holocaust deniers can satirize it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:21 AM

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Constitution is Not a List of Suggestions

Kim Priestap has the goods on Justice Stephen Breyer.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:12 PM

In Victory, Defeat

A few global warming-related ironies have been posted over at The Commons Blog.

The environmental left should be more careful about what it wishes for.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:10 PM

Oil Addiction? You Bet!

Betsy Hart is addicted to oil -- and proud of it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:08 PM

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Brrrr....

Uh oh. Ice age coming.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:11 PM

Liburdi Engineering Speaks (Foul Language Alert)

Although it is not my usual practice to delete posts from this blog (in fact, it is only the second time I have ever done it; the first being the deletion of a blog post consisting exclusively of a picture, the file of which became irredeemably corrupted), I am replacing the original post that appeared here with this message.

The original post was, as some of you will recall, a letter containing -- I believe it is fair to say -- rather intemperate remarks from a young man who, writing from his office, or, at the very least, from his office account, had a different point of view than I on the merits (or lack thereof) of Mr. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

The young man has since written me not once, but twice, to express what appear to be his most sincere apologies for the words he used. He certainly could not have written a nicer apology, nor one seemed more heartfelt. In that spirit, I certainly do accept his apology, and am taking his original note off this website, so that he and his employer will not see it attached to their names for howeverlong this website might last.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:48 PM

Professor Bainbridge: Regulatory Costs Increasing

Professor Bainbridge looks at the Bush Administration's record on limiting regulation.

Apparently, the sky is the limit.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:59 AM

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

On Professors Who Deny Reality

Regarding the tenured Northwestern professor who publicly denies the Holocaust, one answer is: Abolish tenure.

College costs parents and taxpayers a lot of money. The product sold ought not be faulty.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:37 PM

Hugo Chavez Loses to Bush

Venezuelan demagogue-in-chief Hugo Chavez claims President Bush is worse than Hitler.

From Reuters:
"The imperialist, genocidal, fascist attitude of the U.S. president has no limits. I think Hitler would be like a suckling baby next to George W. Bush," Chavez said from a stage decorated with a huge red image of himself as a young soldier.
Since, according to a widely-repeated codicil of Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies, whomever first invokes a reference to Hitler or the Nazis in a debate automatically loses said debate, Chavez is... a loser.

But we knew that.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:29 PM

Martin Luther King Holiday Considered

The left should decide what it wants more: Martin and Coretta King as symbols of the liberal agenda, or a Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday.

If the national remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life work actually is something other than tribute to the importance of legal equality, then the King holiday should be reconsidered in favor of another one that will stand for that principle.

Addendum 2/8/06: Project 21 had plenty to say about the politicization of Coretta Scott King's funeral.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:13 PM

NLPC: AARP Funding is Wasteful and Improper

The National Legal and Policy Center is calling on Congress to cut funding for the AARP:
The National Legal and Policy Center yesterday sent a coalition letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert asking Congress to end all federal subsidies to AARP.

The letter was signed by Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform; Paul Weyrich, National Chairman of Coalitions for America; Jim Martin, President of 60 Plus; J. William Lauderback, Executive Vice President of American Conservative Union; Thomas Schatz, President of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste; Lewis Uhler, President of the National Tax-Limitation Committee; Terrence Scanlon, President of Capital Research Center; and Mary M. Martin, Chairman of the Board of the Seniors Coalition.

NLPC organized the letter after it published a special report, "How the Federal Government Subsidizes AARP," that examined the source of AARP's federal support. The study found that federal funding accounted for $83 million, or about 10 percent, of AARP's annual revenue of $878 million. AARP's total assets are worth $1.6 billion.

"It is ridiculous that an organization as rich and as partisan as AARP gets tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year," says John Carlisle, NLPC Policy Director and the author of the special report.

AARP aggressively pushes a liberal political agenda on a range of issues. Last year, it spent at least $10 million to block President Bush's attempt to reform the financially-troubled Social Security program through a system of private retirement accounts.

Carlisle notes that, "As a private, nonprofit group, AARP has the right to take any stand it chooses on Social Security or any other public policy issue. However, AARP does not have the right to expect taxpayers to foot the bill to help advance its political agenda."

In addition to the impropriety of AARP receiving public subsidies, there are serious questions about the merits of the group's federal grants. The large majority of AARP's federal money, $75 million, comes from a Department of Labor job-training program called the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) which has a checkered history of wasteful spending and unaccountability.

SCSEP purports to train low income seniors for gainful employment by placing them in temporary, minimum-wage jobs at private nonprofits and public agencies. However, SCSEP is nothing more than a welfare program masquerading as a job-training program. In its "Budget Options" report to Congress in 2003, the Congressional Budget Office recommended that SCSEP should be eliminated...
Visit the NLPC's website here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:44 PM

CSF: Steelers Win Super Bowl Despite Being Fat, Fat, Fat

The Center for Consumer Freedom says "a bunch of porkers" won the Super Bowl.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:41 PM

Monday, February 06, 2006

Ronald Reagan's Evil Empire Speech

In honor of President Reagan's birthday today, I am posting a link to one of his many noteworthy speeches, in this case the March 8, 1983 "Evil Empire" speech delivered in Florida to the National Association of Evangelicals.

An excerpt:
Yes, let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totalitarian darkness -- pray they will discover the joy of knowing God. But until they do, let us be aware that while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man, and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world.

It was C.S. Lewis who, in his unforgettable "Screwtape Letters," wrote: "The greatest evil is not done now in those sordid 'dens of crime' that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clear, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice."

Well, because these "quiet men" do not "raise their voices"; because they sometimes speak in soothing tones of brotherhood and peace; because, like other dictators before them, they're always making "their final territorial demand," some would have us accept them at their word and accommodate ourselves to their aggressive impulses. But if history teaches anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom.

So, I urge you to speak out against those who would place the United States in a position of military and moral inferiority...
It almost sounds like President Reagan was thinking of the folks who post at Daily Kos, doesn't it?

The 1983 Evil Empire speech, along with others by President Reagan and others, is archived in this blog's Archive of Historical Documents.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:43 PM

McCain Scolds Obama

I'm guessing Senator Barack Obama won't be invited to dinner at Senator John McCain's house anytime soon.

Addendum 2/7/06: Marc Ambinder, writing on Hotline On Call, has more.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:05 PM

Time -- and a Terrible Towel

Back during the original Pittsburgh Steeler dynasty years, I used to place my Terrible Towel on top of my parents' TV set during Steeler games in order that it might soak in luck.

During the intervening decades, I have taken very good care of my Terrible Towel. Of course, I have never washed it.

Tonight, when the Seahawks started breathing down the Steelers' necks and the Steelers' play was not really all that we might have hoped for (being honest here), I draped my Terrible Towel across the top of my TV set. Carefully. Just like I did at Mom's and Dad's house.

Immediately came several key plays. The Steelers never looked back.

Jerome Bettis said, "It was just a matter of time before we got it going."

Time -- and a towel.

Addendum 2/6/06: More on the Terrible Towel here and here. In regards to the latter link, which goes to a delightful story by Sherri L. Shaulis in the Roseville, California Press-Tribune, there's more than one "12th man" (ask me sometime, and I'll tell you how I, your modest blogger, am personally just as responsible for the Immaculate Reception as Franco Harris, Frenchy Fuqua and Jack Tatum -- maybe even more than Frenchy, since the ball didn't hit him. 12th man style -- but it counted).

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:16 AM

Ben Roethlisberger Blogs the Bowl

Ben Roethlisberger has a blog.

Sort of puts the "live" in live-blogging the Super Bowl.

Hat tip: Pittsburgh Bloggers

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Vintage Super Bowl Fun

From 1976, the Steelers Fight Song.

Crank it up loud and dance.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:09 AM

Saturday, February 04, 2006

What? These Shows Aren't About News?

Rumor has it the Today Show, Good Morning America and The View turned down an interview with Dame Judi Dench because she did not meet their target demographics.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:22 PM

A Health Care Horror Story for Michael Moore

Michael Moore appeals for help:
Friday, February 3rd, 2006

Send Me Your Health Care Horror Stories... An Appeal from Michael Moore

Friends,

How would you like to be in my next movie? I know you've probably heard I'm making a documentary about the health care industry (but the HMOs don't know this, so don't tell them - they think I'm making a romantic comedy).

If you've followed my work over the years, you know that I keep a pretty low profile while I'm making my movies. I don't give interviews, I don't go on TV and I don't defrost my refrigerator. I do keep my website updated on a daily basis (there's been something like 4,000,000 visitors just this week alone) and the rest of the time I'm... well, I can't tell you what I'm doing, but you can pretty much guess. It gets harder and harder sneaking into corporate headquarters, but I've found that just dying my hair black and wearing a skort really helps.

Back to my invitation to be in my movie. Have you ever found yourself getting ready to file for bankruptcy because you can't pay your kid's hospital bill, and then you say to yourself, "Boy, I sure would like to be in Michael Moore's health care movie!"?

Or, after being turned down for the third time by your HMO for an operation they should be paying for, do you ever think to yourself, "Now THIS travesty should be in that 'Sicko' movie!"?

Or maybe you've just been told that your father is going to have to just, well, die because he can't afford the drugs he needs to get better - and it's then that you say, "Damn, what did I do with Michael Moore's home number?!"

Ok, here's your chance. As you can imagine, we've got the goods on these bastards. All we need now is to put a few of you in the movie and let the world see what the greatest country ever in the history of the universe does to its own people, simply because they have the misfortune of getting sick. Because getting sick, unless you are rich, is a crime - a crime for which you must pay, sometimes with your own life.

About four hundred years from now, historians will look back at us like we were some sort of barbarians, but for now we're just the laughing stock of the Western world.

So, if you'd like me to know what you've been through with your insurance company, or what it's been like to have no insurance at all, or how the hospitals and doctors wouldn't treat you (or if they did, how they sent you into poverty trying to pay their crazy bills) ...if you have been abused in any way by this sick, greedy, grubby system and it has caused you or your loved ones great sorrow and pain, let me know.

Send me a short, factual account of what has happened to you - and what IS happening to you right now if you have been unable to get the health care you need. Send it to [email protected] I will read every single one of them (even if I can't respond to or help everyone, I will be able to bring to light a few of your stories).

Thank you in advance for sharing them with me and trusting me to try and do something about a very corrupt system that simply has to go.

Oh, and if you happen to work for an HMO or a pharmaceutical company or a profit-making hospital and you have simply seen too much abuse of your fellow human beings and can't take it any longer - and you would like the truth to be told - please write me at [email protected] I will protect your privacy and I will tell the world what you are unable to tell. I am looking for a few heroes with a conscience. I know you are out there.

Thank you, all of you, for your help and your continued support through the years. I promise you that with "Sicko" we will do our best to give you not only a great movie, but a chance to bring down this evil empire, once and for all.

In the meantime, stay well. I hear fruits and vegetables help.

Yours,
Michael Moore
Anyone really believe Michael Moore will personally "will read every single one" of the letters he receives?

No notice, either, of the inaccuracies he's had in past films (see here or here or here).

However, I'll overlook that and send him a health care horror story. Here it is, Michael:
Social Security... is not the gravest fiscal crisis that America faces. The 2005 Medicare trustees' report estimates that providing promised Medicare benefits over just the next 10 years could require over $2.7 trillion in new tax revenues. Raising taxes by that amount would eliminate almost 816,000 jobs per year, on average, and shave an average of nearly $87 billion from the real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) between 2006 and 2015. Even worse, the Medicare trustees project that providing promised Medicare benefits over the next 75 years would require $29.9 trillion in new tax revenues. Raising taxes to meet Medicare's 75-year shortfall would cost an average of 2.3 million jobs and well over $190 billion in real GDP annually through 2015.

Historically, lawmakers have confronted new federal spending with tax increases. The economic costs of addressing Medicare in this way are, to say the least, prohibitive...
That's story is from Paying for Medicare: An Economic Look at the Program's Unfunded Liabilities by Tracy L. Foertsch, Ph.D. and Joseph R. Antos, Ph.D. for the Heritage Foundation.

Unfortunately, unlike a Michael Moore movie, Medicare's horror story is a true one.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:20 AM

Friday, February 03, 2006

Black Conservatives on Julian Bond's Remarks

Project 21 is not thrilled with Julian Bond. Again.

The latest:
Black Conservatives Slam Extremist Comments from NAACP Leader Julian Bond

Chairman Bond's Comments Demean the Reputation of the Venerable Civil Rights Group

Members of the black leadership network Project 21 are appalled by comments NAACP chairman Julian Bond reportedly made during a recent speech in North Carolina. Members say the radical nature of Bond's comments are detrimental to the civil rights group's reputation and its ability to function within the non-partisan confines of its non-profit status.

As reported by WorldNetDaily, Bond's comments came during a February 1 speech at Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Bond is said to have called Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and predecessor Colin Powell "tokens." He also compared the Bush Administration's judicial nominees to the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan and said "The Republican Party would have the American flag and the [Nazi] swastika flying side by side."

"If Julian Bond's comments are indicative of the NAACP, the group has truly lost its way. I believe the NAACP has positioned itself on the far left of the political spectrum, and Mr. Bond's comments give me no reason to think otherwise," said Project 21 member Jimmie Hollis.

"What is most offensive to me is that Julian Bond denigrated Secretary Rice and Colin Powell as tokens at the beginning of Black History Month. President Bush's appointments are not based on skin color, but the content of peoples' character. This was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream. The fact that Rice and Powell became the face of U.S. foreign policy during President Bush's first term, as well as Rod Paige at the Department of Education and Alphonso Jackson at Housing and Urban Development, says a lot," said Project 21 member Geoffrey Moore. "And yet NAACP leaders still seem to wonder why President Bush refuses to address their annual conference."

"Julian Bond's tirades serve only to further reduce the once-great standing of the NAACP in our society," added Project 21 member Mychal Massie. "Bond's rank partisanship must call into question the legitimacy of the NAACP's political neutrality and its charitable tax status."

In October of 2005, the IRS reportedly informed NAACP leaders that anti-Bush comments made by Bond at the group's 2005 annual conference may have constituted political activity that violates the group's non-profit status.

Bond's February 1 speech was part of the Fayetteville State University's Distinguished Speaker Series. Announcements and media coverage of the speech described Bond as the chairman of the NAACP and did not indicate he was speaking as a private citizen.

"As Julian Bond wallows in the sunset of 1960s victimization, other blacks are moving onward and upward," said Project 21 member Deneen Moore. "People of all colors and creeds should stand up to those who continue to incite negative racial bigotry and name-calling as a vehicle to air their agenda..."
I commented on this yesterday, very briefly, here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:08 PM

A Green Texas Oil Man

Our Ryan Balis has thoughts about the State of the Union address:
In Tuesday's State of the Union speech, President Bush announced the goal to replace America's dependence on oil imports from the Middle East by 75 percent in 20 years. This goal, he said, would be met with more big government investment in cleaner - read greener - non-petroleum energy technology.

Not only did the president put forth a laundry list of green energy initiatives incapable of solving America's current energy woes, but he employed a rhetoric formerly only heard in leftist circles. According to the President, "we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil."

That statement abandoned conservatives' pleas to remove barriers to expanded domestic oil exploration - such as the drilling in a small portion of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (a position Mr. Bush himself alluded to in his 2002 address). It also squandered the bully pulpit in a fool's errand of leftist appeasement.

Indeed, supporters of the hard environmental left did not embrace this greener version of "Texas Oil Man":

"The president said tonight that Americans were addicted to oil but this administration is addicted to oil companies, and we won't achieve energy independence until the administration breaks its addiction," charged Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).

Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) echoed Schumer's remarks: "Last night President Bush belatedly acknowledged that 'America is addicted to oil,' but for the past five years his Administration has pursued policies which have effectively subsidized the oil company 'pushers' who have fed this addiction with tax breaks and other federal subsidies and his speech last night was nothing more than hollow promises and empty rhetoric that totally belies the Administration's record."

Since President Bush - quite predictably -- failed to win the support of hardliners in the environmental movement through his rhetorical commitment to kicking America's supposed oil addiction, one wonders who it was he hoped to please.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:49 AM

Count Diplomas

Project 21 says it is better to count black graduates than black coaches:
Black Caps and Gowns a Higher Priority Than Black Coaches

Project 21 Members Decry Bean-Counting Report on Race and Gender Statistics at NCAA 1A Schools, Prefer Focus on Raising Student-Athlete Graduation Rates

A new report taking issue with the fact that the leadership and football coaching staffs of NCAA Division 1A colleges are overwhelmingly white is being criticized by members of the black leadership network Project 21.

Project 21 members say the report is little more than a bean-counting exercise that will create unnecessary racial tension. They suggest the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (IDES), which issued the report, should instead seek ways to raise the graduation rates of black student-athletes.

The IDES report quantifies race and gender in positions including institution presidents, athletic directors, faculty athletic representatives and football coaches. Although the report indicates slight increases in minority representation in almost all areas, Institute director Richard Lapchick complained, "The study shows that the vast majority of the most powerful people in college sports are still white."

"All this report has established is that Richard Lapchick can count. I think the real problem is whether today's student-athletes are more focused on turning pro and getting paid instead of getting a quality education that would prepare them for the future," said Project 21 member Deneen Moore. "This report decries an old boys network that perpetuates the hiring of whites to coaching jobs and implies affirmative action may be necessary to diversify the ranks. Rather than creating a mountain out of a molehill, how about concentrating on the NCAA's pitiful minority graduation rates and change the current mindset of 'just bring home the trophy,' which is truly hurting and not helping these athletes."

Project 21 members point out the bigger problem facing NCAA 1A colleges is the graduation rates of student-athletes. According to the most recent statistics posted on the NCAA's web site, the graduation rate for black football players is 55 percent. This is the same as the overall black male student-athlete graduation rate, which is far below the 62 percent graduation rate for all student-athletes and 64 percent for all students. In a December 2005 report issued by IDES, Lapchick says the graduation rate for black football players in the NCAA's 1A division is 47 percent.

While some past IDES reports are critical of these poor graduation rates, the majority of IDES studies found on their web site are "Racial and Gender Report Cards" that judge professional and college institutions by the number of minorities in leadership positions. Project 21 members suggest IDES would better serve the sporting community by focusing on how schools can increase student-athlete graduation rates.

"I believe it is more important to ensure student-athletes graduate than have an ethnically-diverse coaching staff," aid Project 21 member Ak'bar Shabazz. "It would be nice to see more minority leadership in athletics, but I believe that greater emphasis needs to be put on the education of players..."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:33 AM

Asbestos Legislation: FAIR or Unfair?

Senior Fellow Dana Joel Gattuso has a column up on TownHall.com. It examines Senator Specter's Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act, also known as the FAIR Act, and finds it wanting.

Around DC at least, there are very many rather expensive commercials running that urge lawmakers to support this bill. I'm not sure if they all are supported by the same group, but I am reasonably sure The Asbestos Alliance is running some of them, and their website covers that group's point of view rather well.

I am sympathetic to arguments in favor of a trust fund generally (as one can see from numerous things I have written over the years on The National Center's asbestos page), but the legislation has to be done right.

Unfortunately, as Dana demonstrates on TownHall.com, there are a lot of weaknesses in the so-called FAIR Act.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:15 AM

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Repeat After Me: Race isn't Everything

I agree with Atlas Blogged on this one.

Donovan McNabb and Senator Ken Salazar should get together sometime and write "Race Isn't Everything" 100 times or however often it takes to sink in.

I'd suggest Julian Bond should join them, but I fear he's a hopeless case (see here, or here, or here, or here, or here, or here, or here, or here, or here).

Or just go here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:57 PM

Flight 93: The Movie

Like the Night Writer, I saw this movie Tuesday night.

Dittos to everything the Night Writer says. Everything.

I planned to work last night and flicked on this movie, expecting it to be on in the background while I worked. Instead, I couldn't look away and at the same time it was just short of too painful to watch. If I had let myself, I would have cried all the way through it.

That's all I'm going to say, except that if you are a regular reader of this blog you know I rarely mention movies, so I must really mean what I am saying about this one.

Read the Night Writer review for a more in-depth assessment, and watch the movie. It is painful, but we have to keep reminding ourselves until we win.

May God Bless the people and the families depicted in the film.

Addendum 1/3/06: AP says Flight 93 is the most watched A&E show since the network launched in 1984.

Hat tip: Power Line

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:29 AM

Blog Redesign: My New Old Book

You won't need eagle eyes to see this blog has a spiffy new design, thanks to designer Jeff Harrell.

I liked the way he redesigned his own blog, Shape of Days, so much I e-mailed him to see if I could talk him into redesigning ours. He was willing. His price was fair, too.

Jeff asked me what I wanted and all the help I gave him was that I like old books. Jeff took it from there.

The result: A blog design based on an actual photograph of a very old book and using, Jeff tells me, "ITC Founders Caslon Twelve, a modern digital typeface created from actual printed pages from the early 18th century. It's traditional while still being slightly whimsical, and it's uniquely and self-evidently American."

Traditional while being slightly whimsical, and uniquely and self-evidently American. If that doesn't describe blogging, I don't know what does.

And I just love my new "old book."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:11 AM

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Black History Month: Why February?

This Project 21 commentary by C. Mason Weaver is seven years old, but it still gets a lot of traffic on Project 21's website:
This is Black History Month. I wonder who picked the coldest, wettest, shortest month of the year to remember the history of African people and their descendants in America? How did we come to have Black History Month in February?

Why not remember the history of Black people during January for the month Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and the birthday of Dr. King? Perhaps, we could recognize it during December for the make-believe holiday of Kwanzaa. How about June in recognition of "Juneteenth," the liberation of slaves in Texas?

Why February? Slavery was abolished by Congress in April 1862; the thirteenth amendment was ratified in December of 1865. Why not one of these months? The modern history of Africans in America began with the arrival of Columbus; slavery began in August 1619 at Jamestown, Virginia...
Lots of food for thought.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:56 PM

Time for Virginia to Protect Property Rights, Group Says

Project 21 is promoting property rights protections in Virginia:
Black Activists in Virginia Call for Eminent Domain Reform

Virginia residents affiliated with the Project 21 black leadership network urge action in the commonwealth to protect property owners from eminent domain abuse. They are issuing a challenge to lawmakers and other public officials to make Virginia a safe haven for private property owners and take the lead in providing the necessary protection to homes and small businesses that are particularly vulnerable to eminent domain abuse.

Last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Kelo v. New London not only failed to rein in government abuse of eminent domain, but it emboldened state and local governments nationwide to target and seize private property for private development instead of exclusively projects that address a public-use need. It is now largely up to each individual state to protect its citizens from misuse of eminent domain.

"A man's home is his castle. Taking it from him in order to give it to the politically powerful is wrong and unfair," said Project 21 member Horace Cooper, a professor at the George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Virginia. "It's imperative that Virginia, the home of Thomas Jefferson and George Mason, secure the rights of all property owners."

The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution allows government to take private property for a "public use," but it requires that just compensation be paid to afflicted landowners. Too often, and as was the case in Kelo, governments abuse the power of eminent domain by stretching the meaning of "public use" to include increasing tax revenue.

This broad definition of "public use" places nearly all private property in peril. As Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote in her dissent to the Kelo decision, "The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."

"Abuse of eminent domain powers threatens the very fiber this nation was founded on. Failure to protect the rights of landowners from greedy municipalities, unscrupulous developers or building new stadiums should be as unconscionable as evicting a black family from their home so a white family can move in," said Project 21 member John Meredith. Meredith has served as a director for several Virginia-based non-profit organizations specializing in community service, improving educational opportunities for underserved communities, free and fair elections and defending individual property rights.

The Virginia House of Delegates Courts of Justice Committee is currently considering several reform measures that would help protect its citizens from eminent domain abuse. One proposal would narrow the definition of "public use" to exclude purposes such as economic development and increased tax revenue. Another would ensure that just compensation includes losses that businesses suffer due to condemnation procedures.

Eminent domain abuse is occurring in Virginia. Officials in the city of Hampton used their eminent domain powers in 2003 to condemn the property of Frank and Dana Ottofaro. Although the Ottofaros were told their property was needed to make way for a road project, only 18 percent of their land was used for the road. The remaining 82 percent was used to accommodate a private retail development.

"Unfortunately, the victims of eminent domain are most often the elderly, the poor and minorities. They lack the money and political power to persuade the government to respect their rights," noted Pacific Legal Foundation lawyer Timothy Sandefur in a commentary that appeared in The Washington Times.

Since the Kelo decision, 38 states have either taken action to curtail eminent domain abuse or are in the process of doing so.

"It is time for Virginia to step up to the plate and protect private property rights from government abuse," said Project 21 member Bill Cleveland. Cleveland is the former vice mayor of the city of Alexandria, Virginia...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:57 PM

Washington Post: Making Fun of Wounded Soldiers

Allow me to echo Michelle Malkin's sentiments, as well as those of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about the tasteless Washington Post cartoon making fun of grievously wounded soldiers.

Michelle's site has the cartoon, her commentary and the letter sent to the Washington Post by the Joint Chiefs here.

Addendum, 2/1/06: A reader sees the cartoon differently:
Amy,

The cartoon isn't making fun of wounded soldiers. It's very clearly pointing out how disgusting it is that the military neglects soldiers once they're damaged goods.

Cheers

Terrance McDonald
To me it seems that the Post cartoon is criticizing the Administration's Iraq war policy, but I'm posting Mr. McDonald's point of view in case I'm not seeing something that is obvious to others.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:05 PM

Shameless Misreporting

I quite enjoyed Brent Bozell's column on Newsbusters on the mainstream media's misreporting of "junkets."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:39 PM

Mark Tapscott Spoofs the Post

Mark Tapscott has a funny spoof on the Washington Post here.

My favorite line: "Bashenwright said he and Makupafak opted not to submit their study methodology or data to a peer-review process for publication in a scientific journal because "we know we're right..."

Even though Mark's post is a clear spoof of the Post, it also seems like a spoof on a lot of conventional-wisdom reporting on global warming research, except in the global warming stories, the next line is always an attack on the Bush Administration or an oil company. (You know, the folks who so far have prevented another 9/11 and the folks who provide the energy to get most of us to work everyday.)*

Speaking of Bashenwright and Makupafak, though, they might as well submit their study to a peer-reviewed journal. Their standards are not rigorous.

Mark is spoofing this Post story, which reminded me of the line in the old joke about how the Post would cover news of the end of the world: "World to End Tomorrow: Blacks, Other Minorities Hardest Hit."


*Disclaimers: No one from NCPPR has been killed in a terrorist attack since 9/11, and thus we have a conflict of interest impeding objective coverage of the Bush Administration. Furthermore, NCPPR receives funding from the fossil fuel industry. Less than 1 percent of our funding, but some people think we can be bought for that.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:49 AM

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