Sunday, April 30, 2006

Jean-Francois Revel

Via Michelle Malkin comes the news that Jean-Francois Revel has died.

Had he done nothing more than write his Cold War wake-up call "How Democracies Perish," his contribution to the world would have justly been called extraordinary -- yet he did much more.

A loss, too, on the left side of the fence: John Kenneth Galbraith is dead at 97.

He is best eulogized by those who appreciated him; The Nation magazine's blog praises him warmly here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:33 PM

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Parents May Be Fined for Helping Their Own Son

The Cleveland Bar Association has made an outrageous decision: It is attempting to get an Ohio couple fined because they went to court on behalf of their minor son without hiring a lawyer.

Says the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
The bar charged [Brian and Susan Woods] with unauthorized practice of law and threatened a $10,000 fine, saying that although the Woodses were allowed to represent themselves, they could not act as lawyers for their son. The charge is normally filed against nonlawyers who provide legal services for pay, but is rare against parents.
The parents largely won the case for their son, settling it after the school district agreed to send their son, who has autism, to a private school.

More from the Plain Dealer:
Michael Harvey, the Rocky River lawyer handling the charges for the bar association, said the goal is to protect the rights of children. Harvey said special education laws are so complex that children need experts, not untrained parents, looking out for their rights.

"You hope parents will do the right job for the child, but that's not always the case," Harvey said.

Harvey said that although the bar is officially seeking a $10,000 fine, it would be happy with an admission that the Woodses broke the law and an agreement not to do it again.

Brian Woods thinks he's being intimidated to prevent parents from handling cases themselves - and to protect the large fees lawyers charge for such cases, which can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
The parents, in suing the public schools, were suing the government. The government has a law saying they can't handle the case on the child's behalf without professional help -- apparently because the consequences to the child of losing to the government are excessively dire.

The government would do better to can the laws saying people need professional help to fight the government and instead run a government people don't need to fight.

Addendum, 10/30/06: On Oct. 27, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide if the parents had the right to appear in court without a lawyer.

An AP report says, in part:
Justices to Take Up Autism-Case Dispute

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (AP) - The Supreme Court agreed Friday to consider an appeal by an autistic child and his parents, who want to sue over his school accommodations without hiring a lawyer.

The parents, Jeff and Sandee Winkelman, say they cannot afford a lawyer to argue their court case against the school district of Parma, Ohio, near Cleveland, over the education of their son, Jacob.

The federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled that the Winkelmans, suing under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, had to find a lawyer to represent Jacob, although other federal courts have ruled differently in cases involving that law.

The Bush administration then urged the justices to take the case, saying that in adopting the measure, Congress clearly intended that parents be able to represent their children in such court proceedings.

The Winkelmans’ suit contested Parma’s plan to educate Jacob at a public school. They wanted the district to pay his yearly tuition of $56,000 at a private school that specializes in educating autistic children.

Whether Jacob should have private schooling at public expense is not before the justices, only the question of his parents’ right to go into federal court without a lawyer....
Addendum, 5/23/07: The U.S. Supreme Court has now weighed in -- on behalf of the parents.

Says Tony Mauro, writing for Legal Times:
Parents do not need to hire lawyers to litigate public school special education disputes involving their children, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The 7-2 decision in Winkelman v. Parma City School District says parents have “independent, enforceable rights” in a free, appropriate education for their children under the Individuals With Disabilities Act. As a result, they can pursue those interests not just at the administrative appeal stage, but into federal court as well.

“It is not a novel proposition to say that parents have a recognized legal interest in the education and upbringing of their child,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, adding that “a parent of a child with a disability has a particular and personal interest” in pursuing equal opportunities for the child.

The opinion did not disturb the longstanding rule that pro se litigants can only represent themselves, not others. Kennedy said there was no need to rule on that issue because the Court was saying that parents, in pursuing these claims, are enforcing their own rights, not just the rights of their children.

The ruling came in the case of Jeff and Sandee Winkelman, who were dissatisfied by the educational plan devised by the Parma, Ohio school district for their son Jacob, who has autism spectrum disorder. When administrative appeals ended, Sandee Winkelman, a nurse, schooled herself in legal procedure and took the case to federal court. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that parents could not litigate under IDEA, setting the stage for their high court appeal.

School districts, claiming that the cost of special ed litigation goes up when parents rather than lawyers are involved, fought against parental representation. In some cases, local bar groups have also complained that parents without lawyers were engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

But parents said the high cost of legal fees, as well as the dearth of lawyers willing to take on these often-complex lawsuits, made self-representation necessary...
There's more. Read the rest here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:36 PM

When Will Politicians Learn to Stay Away from Anything Related to the Watergate?

From TPM Muckraker :
It's me-too time for Hookergate. The AP filed its story on the scandal last night, with no new details. The WPost, no doubt burned up that they missed the biggest Watergate-related scandal since, well, Watergate...
Second-biggest? I think someone is forgetting that Monica Lewinsky lived in the Watergate during an interesting time in the late 1990s.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:01 PM

Limbaugh Drug Charge Settlement Mischaracterized in Talking Points Memo

Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall has posted commentary to the effect that the settlement of the state charges in the Rush Limbaugh case is actually a plea agreement, implying that Limbaugh must have confessed guilt:
Don't get bamboozled. In criminal cases we don't call them "settlement agreements." They are plea bargains.

And while the prosecutor's recommendation to the court will carry great weight, the judge is not obligated to ratify the plea agreement.
Looks like this may be wishful thinking at Talking Points Memo (a leftie blog).

According to Limbaugh attorney Roy Black:
I am pleased to announce that the State Attorney's Office and Mr. Limbaugh have reached an agreement whereby a single count charge of doctor shopping filed today by the State Attorney will be dismissed in 18 months. As a primary condition of the dismissal, Mr. Limbaugh must continue to seek treatment from the doctor he has seen for the past two and one half years. This is the same doctor under whose care Mr. Limbaugh has remained free of his addiction without relapse.

Mr. Limbaugh and I have maintained from the start that there was no doctor shopping, and we continue to hold this position. Accordingly, we filed today with the Court a plea of 'Not Guilty' to the charge filed by the State.

As part of this agreement, Mr. Limbaugh also has agreed to make a $30,000 payment to the State of Florida to defray the public cost of the investigation. The agreement also provides that he must refrain from violating the law during this 18 months, must pay $30 per month for the cost of "supervision" and comply with other similar provisions of the agreement.

Mr. Limbaugh had intended to remain in treatment. Thus, we believe the outcome for him personally will be much as if he had fought the charge and won.
Here is what the the Thompson-Gale Legal Encyclopedia says about plea agreements:
Generally a judge will authorize a plea bargain if the defendant makes a knowing and voluntary waiver of his or her right to a trial, the defendant understands the charges, the defendant understands the maximum sentence he or she could receive after pleading guilty, and the defendant makes a voluntary confession, in court, to the alleged crime. Even if a defendant agrees to plead guilty, a judge may decline to accept the guilty plea and plea agreement if the charge or charges have no factual basis.
Limbaugh, as Black says clearly, is still pleading "not guilty."

Addendum: Newsbusters is taking a look at how the Washington Post and other media covered yesterday's news in the Limbaugh drug case.

Addendum, 4/30/06: A critic writes:
Amy --

I have been reading Talking Points Memo regularly for several years. Josh Marshall, whether or not you agree with him, is demonstrably credible. You, on the other hand, are demonstrably not credible. Case in point, you quote Roy Black as though he is not lying through his teeth. I have followed the investigation of Rush Limbaugh and Roy has done a masterful job as undermining the judicial process for his client. There is no rational defense that can be made of Limbaugh's hipocracy. But that doesn't seem to matter to you in this or any other case I have seen you involved in.

Grant B. Harris
Woods Hole, Mass.
If Roy Black is lying, it will be clear soon enough. The court's records about pleas are not kept confidential. Which Black knows.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:23 AM

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Deroy Lives in New York. I Guess You Can Tell.

Josh Marshall does not seem to be entirely won over by Deroy Murdock's latest column.

On the other hand, I loved it.

A bit of advice from Deroy to the White House: "Don't leak; speak."

Or another: "Leaking to the [New York] Times... is like handing one's bitterest critic a loaded gun and awaiting good news."

Or this observation: "Times reporters are not royalty. Let them eat news releases."

Write about the Washington Post next, please, Deroy.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:30 PM

Horror Show

The Other Club describes what a sixteen-hundred percent tax increase buys you: The opportunity to sit by for weeks, officially helpless, while your 18-month-old daughter screams in terrible pain.

More details here, including comments from others living the nightmare.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:08 PM

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hot Air Down on the Farm

If you haven't seen one of Michelle Malkin's Hot Air broadcasts yet, today's a good day to check it out: She visits one of Rep. Alan Mollohan's many properties.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:15 PM

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

More Union Nonsense

The Allegheny Institute Blog writes about municipal bus drivers who have gone to court arguing they shouldn't be forced to pick up passengers.

The bus drivers are the fourth-highest paid in the U.S. (for urban areas of 500,000 to 2 million people).

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:41 PM

Editing Matters

In my opinion, publishers should carefully edit the work of all their writers, but be especially careful when publishing first-time authors.

Otherwise, dumb errors and plagiarism might happen.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:54 PM

Washington Post/Dana Priest Story: An Appeal for Disclosure -- and Consistency

I have difficulty respecting the choice of news organizations to run stories that are based on mysteries when the news organization knows the answer but choses not to inform the reader -- and glosses over their unwillingness to disclose.

In this Post story, for instance, the Post knows full well who Dana Priest's source(s) were.

I believe this article should include some kind of disclaimer paragraph early in the piece which states forthrightly that the publisher of the article knows the identity of the leaker(s) but has chosen not to disclose this information to readers. Ideally, the paragraph also should explain why.

It may well be that the reason the source wants anonymity is because what he or she did violates federal law (though other motives are possible), and the Post is respecting this.

I am aware of one or two cases in which the Post appeared to be very much opposed to suspected violations of federal law, but it may be that their views on lawbreaking are flexible.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:48 PM

Bill Bennett v. Howard Kurtz

Noel Sheppard on Newsbusters has posted a transcript of a debate between Bill Bennett and Howard Kurtz on the question, as phrased by Noel, "should journalists that report leaked military secrets during a time of war receive Pulitzer Prizes or jail sentences?"

If Howie Kurtz wants to win over anyone siding with Bennett, I think he's going to need stronger arguments than what he led with:
Well, first of all, news organizations, including The New York Times and Washington Post, consider very carefully and sometimes withhold details and sometimes delay stories at the request of the administration when there's sensitive national security involved. But what really troubles me about your approach, Bill, is that under your approach, you know, not just Daniel Ellsberg, but the journalists who published the Pentagon Papers would have gone to jail. Not just Deep Throat, but Bob Woodward would have gone to jail for publishing Watergate's secrets."
Quick thoughts:
1) The public elects presidents to decide what should or should not be secret, yet does not have a voice in selecting the leadership of the New York Times or Washington Post.

2) Any argument based on the premise that Bob Woodward is a god is unlikely to be effective anywhere outside the Washington Post newsroom.
The transcript can be read here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:59 AM

Amen to That

Jeff Harrell chides the New York Times, saying "If even the Wikipedia can get it right, it just can't be that hard."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:45 AM

Monday, April 24, 2006

Cliff Kincaid: Give Back the Tainted Pulitzers

Cliff Kincaid has posted an interesting column about what he calls the "tainted Pulitzers" of Dana Priest (Washington Post) and James Risen/Eric Lichtblau (New York Times).

An excerpt:
...during an on-line discussion of her article, Priest was asked specifically about my charge that her article reflected "the view of a faction in the agency that opposes this policy and wants to use the Post to convey its view publicly." Priest dismissed my column, saying it was laughable...

...If [fired CIA official Mary O.] McCarthy was a Priest source, as has been reported, then it is absolutely clear that Priest deliberately deceived the public about where she got the story. Talking about CIA officers voting for Bush was a diversion. She was covering up...
More here.

Addendum: Jed Babbin is just as tough writing in The American Spectator.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:44 PM

Friday, April 21, 2006

Violating a Confidential Source

A new book about former FBI Agent Mark Felt, the alleged "Deep Throat" of "All the President's Men" (Watergate) fame, says Felt believes journalist Bob Woodward violated an agreement not to describe him in print.

A Washington Post story by Lynn Duke about the new book "A G-Man's Life: The FBI, 'Deep Throat' and the Struggle for Honor in Washington," by Mark Felt and John O'Connor, leads with the information that Felt's late wife, Audrey Robinson Felt, committed suicide in 1984.

By paragraph four, however, the article reveals something entirely different:
...And the book tells of Felt's deep anger at what he believed was Woodward's violation of their source-reporter relationship. Felt did not want to be described in any way in print, but Woodward both described him and called him "Deep Throat" in 1974 in "All the President's Men."

"Mark has never seen himself as a chatterbox who gave up secrets," writes O'Connor in a lengthy introduction.

"If this book does nothing else, let it destroy that caricature. Deep Throat was a journalistic joke; the name never described Mark Felt. After Woodward revealed that he had a senior source in the executive branch, thereby breaking his agreement with Mark Felt, and after the journalist identified his confidant as 'Deep Throat,' the retired FBI man was furious -- slamming down the phone when Woodward called for his reaction" to the 1974 book.

In "The Secret Man," Woodward's 2005 book on Felt's outing as Deep Throat, Woodward also describes Felt's anger at "All the President's Men." Felt had wanted their agreement to be "inviolate," Woodward wrote. But Woodward wrote that he thought he had "some leeway" because Felt had not previously objected to Woodward's other published references to the secret source...
To me, this raises a question. If the newspaper with the #1 reputation (deserved or otherwise is another question) for investigative journalism chose not to honor a confidentiality agreement with the most famous confidential source in all history, should the public really believe journalists take the "confidential source" issue seriously? And if journalists don't, why do proponents of a federal shield law think the law should?

(Cross-posted at Newsbusters)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:18 PM

I Wonder...

...if Karl Rove were to be indicted, would Fred Barnes spin it as a positive development?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:14 PM

Rep. Alan Mollohan to Step Down From Ethics Post

So says Roll Call.

I blogged about this situation earlier here; the National Legal and Policy Center is the go-to spot on the Mollohan investigation; West Virginia MSM journalist and blogger Don Surber also has kept up-to-speed. This is the link to Rep. Mollohan's House website. It does not appear to have been updated since February 22, however.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:30 PM

Anonymous Source Watch II

Note to White House: When paragraphs like this are appearing in the New York Times and elsewhere...
A senior White House official denied that Mr. Bolten was considering such a step. "It's not the case," said the official, who was granted anonymity to get around the administration's policy of not commenting on personnel matters. don't actually have "a policy of not commenting on personnel matters."

So you might as well just comment. Authoritatively. So we know who to blame if it is a lie.

P.S. The same New York Times article says:
Mr. Snow had surgery for colon cancer last year and is awaiting an clearance from doctors before making a deal, according to people with knowledge of his deliberations who spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to upset private discussions at a sensitive time.
Yeah, right. If they "did not want to upset private discussions at a sensitive time," they would have kept their mouths closed.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:20 PM

Canadians Discuss Canadian Health Care

For a consumer's-eye-view of the Canadian health care system, which some urge Americans to adopt, check out the comments on the Small Dead Animals blog post I mentioned earlier. The commenters, who appear to be Canadians, are discussing their country's health care system, its failings, and how they would like to change it.

I wish every American would read these comments (and every official in the Canadian government, for that matter).

"Reminds me of my mother way back in 1998 when she was sick with a degenerative neurological condition known as 'striatonigral degeneration... In short, the condition... causes the gradual loss of all the autonomic functions, such as elimination, muscle control, focusing one's eyes, body temperature regulation, and eventually heart. The 'system' told us to wait for 9 months to get a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) scan. This was after about 9 months with still no diagnosis... This fall 2005 my father in law was in need of an MRI for a degenerative spine condition follow-up. Again, we were told that the wait would take some 6 to 8 months..." - Hans

"I have a brother in law who cannot walk without numbness and pain because he has a degenerative disk. Why is his only option on Canadian soil to wait until Feb 2007[?]..." - Jeff

"20 yrs. ago the father of my friend was diagnosed with cancer and told the next step was to see a specialist, and that there was a 4 month waiting period. The doctor suggested a doctor in the U.S., since he knew that quick treatment was vital. Since one of his sons had money, they made an appointment, got in right away, and were told the same thing, he needed to see a specialist. 10 minutes later he saw the specialist, and then straight to the lab for tests, and then directly into the hospital (which was attached to the clinic) for surgery. 9 days later he was discharged and lived another 12 years until he died of old age. In Canada he would likely have been terminal..." - Dirtman

"The more get away from a single-payer the better... I'd rather see a system where you could use before tax dollars to purchase health insurance and you were free to buy whatever plan suits you best. It'd be mandated by law that you had to buy it... Maybe then there would be incentive to treat sick people instead of ignoring them." - MolarMauler

"We don't want people to have to go to U.S. for treatment, we want a system that works, what a radical idea... I implore you to go to someone who has just gotten the news that they have a debilitating condition and blithely tell them that they should travel the '2 hours' to the U.S. to get healthcare... Don't worry that we spend enough per person in Canada to get top flight insurance in the states, but the people who get timely treatment are those who know someone in the system..." - Jeff

"Why not just have the gov't buy us all private insurance in the U.S.? Or better yet allow us to buy it. They get coverage for everyone and no hassle for them. Contract the healthcare services out like they have done our military capability for the last 50 years." - Shawn (To which, another commenter wrote: "With 30 million of us, I'd bet they could give us a great rate.")

"Did you know we are losing specialists to the U.S. because they're only allowed to do their work a few days a week? There are surgeons who can only operate 1 day a week in the public sector because there aren't enough support staff or beds... We've had world-class surgeons leave for U.S. teaching hospitals because of lack of funding for basic care, never mind research... The governments thought... the problem with the health care system was that there were too many greedy doctors billing too much instead of seeing the problem as a direct consequence of a 'free' service out of control. The demand for anything 'free' is infinity. There will never be enough... The health care mess would be the biggest class-action law suit in U.S. history if it were an American HMO..." - Warwick

"I always get a chuckle from those who defend mediscare, and attack private clinics. They are usually those who are cue jumpers or haven't been left stranded. My daughter has a chronic illness and the nightmare that the 'system' has put us through would make good reading in a suspense thriller... I have the advantage of being married to an ex-nurse who knows what it used to be like. She can spot soviet-style care a mile off, and believe me, that is what we have in many departments and on many wards. I saved my daughter's life by becoming a total asshole and 'demanding' action..." - Debris Trail

"I had a major heart attack. I was put on a gurney, in a hallway. At the time I was in great distress. Having a Major heart Attack. For 13 hours as I laid there dying. During this, one nurse talked to me for about five minutes. One aspirin was given me before I was put in the hallway... If not for a Jewish Intern I would have left the Hospital. He seen me pull out the Glucose drip needle. I was on my way back home to die. I could not take it anymore. He took one look at my chart & fur flew. He was outraged. I believe to this day he saved my life..." - Revnant Dream

"...Our hospitals are becoming Third-world calibre. When my family and I lived in Central America and our three-year-old had a reaction to penicillin, she spent the night in the hospital. I stayed with her. Families brought food to their family members and their own blankets and sheets. They went and got the nurses when their family member needed something. That's where we are. If you want your loved ones to have basic care when in the hospital, you'd better arrange for someone to be with them, to be monitoring the health care very carefully. You'd also better be prepared to 'be a Brunhilda,' to scream bloody murder if things aren't going the way they should. Eight years ago the system was in disarray and almost utterly dysfunctional. I can only imagine what it's like now. Kyrie Eleison. One can only pray to be taken quickly when the Avian Bird Flu arrives in Canada." - New Kid on the Block

"...As someone deeply embedded within [the health care system], in my opinion we are past the point of no return. The opportunity to fix the health care system passed, depending on the province, 5-10 years ago. Currently, it lurches from one crisis management scenario to another and there soon won't be enough critical mass within the system to do even that." - Boudica

"Waiting lists are frequently cited as indicative of our medical systems ills, and while they are perhaps the best measure, there is no mention of the 'rationing' that goes on. A relative was recently diagnosed with a coronary blockage on her second trip to Emergency. The first trip resulted in a mis-diagnosis because the Doctor on shift used an old 12 probe ECG. She was given a powerful clot dissolving drug that gave her a better than even chance of surviving. She did survive and was advised by her specialist to have a follow-up coronary catheterization... She was denied the second procedure with a bogus medical reason. She had no chest pain, a symptom commonly missing with heart attacks, mostly in women. Not on any waiting list." - Gunney99

"I have family in Illinois and Oregon and emailed them this article and a few of your posts. I wanted to make sure they were informed of what exactly Canadian-style universal healthcare will get you. I know that there is a continuing debate in the US about their healthcare system - it may not be perfect but it sure beats what we've got here..." - Sooz

"Unlike many Canadians, I actually have quite a number of friends of various ages who live in the U.S. I'll let you in on a little secret - I've yet to hear any of them worry aloud because they were on a waiting list for diagnostics or surgery." - Kate
We Americans need to pay attention -- close attention -- to the lessons we can learn from our neighbors in the north. Read the entire post and all the comments -- there is a lot more there than I have excerpted.

Note: I corrected some spelling and punctuation in the comments above.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:45 PM

Another Health Care Horror Story

Kate at Small Dead Animals says of Canada's long waits for certain health care services: "There's more than one way to shorten a waiting list."

Unfortunately, there are good ways and bad ways, and ways involving long lines to see cancer specialists are decidedly among the latter.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:40 PM

Mac Johnson: "75 is the new 67"

Mac Johnson, writing on Human Events Online, explains quite thoroughly how it is that illegal aliens cannot be expected to solve the Social Security crisis.

Warning: The piece is a tad bit politically-incorrect.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:33 PM

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Carl Bernstein Reports: Drudge Report's Comment Section Favors Senate Investigation of Bush

Does the Drudge Report have a comments section?

I ask because I've never noticed one, yet on "Washington Post Radio" this morning I heard journalist Carl Bernstein describe the comments on the "right wing" Drudge Report as favoring the creation of a Watergate-style Senate investigation of President Bush, as Bernstein proposes in in the current silly issue of Vanity Fair.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:17 AM

Deroy Murdock on "United 93"

On Human Events Online, Deroy Murdock reviews the new film "United 93."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:01 AM

Hat Tip, Roger Simon

Actually, it is "Hat Tip, Wonkette," as the last paragraph of this Wonkette post is pretty funny.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:42 AM

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Biblical Environmental Stewardship: Defining the Mandate

A report from Peyton Knight:
Before a packed audience today on Capitol Hill, the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance (ISA), along with the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty and the Institute on Religion and Democracy held a lunch briefing at which top theologians and policy experts articulated a vision of Biblical stewardship based upon the Cornwall Declaration.

The title of the briefing was: "Pulpits, Pews and Environmental Policy: How the Cornwall Declaration is helping define the mandate of Biblical stewardship."

According to a "Dear Colleague" letter circulated April 13 by Senators James Inhofe, Jim DeMint and Larry Craig: "The Cornwall Declaration is a powerful statement of ethical belief that strongly affirms the importance of caring for creation, but in a way that is based on sound theology, sound science, and sound economics, and takes into account the needs of the poor."

The Declaration has been signed by over 1,500 clergy, theologians and other people of faith.

The ISA also announced the launching of a new partnership effort with congregations around the country called the "Cornwall Network."

Some highlights from the luncheon...

Dr. Calvin Beisner, Associate Professor of Social Ethics at Knox Theological Seminary in Florida, took issue with those who "mistakenly view human beings as principally consumers and polluters rather than producers and stewards."

He noted that this outlook "ignores our potential as bearers of God's image to enhance the Earth's abundance."

"While we recognize that some environmental problems are well-founded and serious, we are concerned that some are ill founded or greatly exaggerated," said Beisner. "We are interested in priorities placed on well-founded concerns, especially those that put large numbers of people, usually the poor, at risk."

According to Beisner, some well-founded concerns include "widespread diseases in the developing world arising from inadequate sewage sanitation and drinking water purification; use of primitive biomass fuels like wood and dung for heating and cooking; and primitive, low-tech agricultural, industrial and commercial practices."

"On the other hand," said Beisner, "Ill-founded or exaggerated concerns include fears of catastrophic man-made global warming, overpopulation, resource depletion and cataclysmic species extinction."

Speaking about the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI), a statement signed by some members of the evangelical community that promotes the theory of catastrophic man-made global warming, Beisner said "[We] disagree with their assessment of the scientific evidence of the extent of human contribution to global warming, their prediction of the impact of climate change on human communities and the rest of the ecosystem, and their prescription of major reduction of carbon dioxide emissions as a solution to the alleged problem. The ECI does not specify how much emission reduction is needed to achieve its goals [to counteract global warming]. [This is] to ignore one of the most important aspects of the climatology debate: How much benefit would be gained at what cost to the global economy. And the global economy is not just an economist abstraction. It is real people who depend on that economy for jobs, income and the food, clothing, shelter, transportation and all other goods that they need."

Paul Driessen, senior policy advisor for the Congress of Racial Equality, admonished celebrities, media and wayward religious leaders who are "twisting common definitions of ethics, morality, social responsibility and compassion for the poor to justify global warming agendas."

Driessen also noted, "It is often the very policies they promote that actually represent the greatest threats to the world's poor. Over two billion of the world's people still do not have electricity for lights and refrigeration in their homes, for hospitals and clinics, for schools, shops, offices and factories, for wastewater treatment and other modern technologies that we often take for granted," he said. "And yet these poor countries are told they mustn't build coal or gas-fired electrical power plants, because First World countries are concerned about global warming."

Dr. Kelvin Kemm, president of STRATEK Business Strategy Consulting in Pretoria, South Africa, warned that misguided policies such as the ban on DDT can have consequences beyond rampant malaria death from mosquitos. "An African mother who has just watched her child die from malaria and is then told this is related to United States policy becomes a candidate to join an organization like Al Qaeda very quickly," said Kemm. "In Africa, one African dies from malaria every 40 seconds. That's the equivalent of seven Boeing 747s, full of people, dying per day. That's one Boeing hitting the ground every three hours, with 100 percent loss of life."

Rev. Dr. Jim Tonkowich, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, stressed the importance of recognizing human beings as part of God's creation, as opposed to intruders on Earth: "The Bible values humans as makers who take the raw material of creation -- the stones, the trees, the mineral waters -- and shape them and create with them. In fact, the creation is incomplete without human beings shaping it. Even in the Garden [of Eden], God calls humans to tend the Garden and to rule Earth's creatures. The Bible sees human activity as a positive good in the midst of creation."

Rev. Abdul Karim Sesay, senior pastor at Kings and Priests Court International Ministries, gave a stirring first-hand perspective of the deadly consequences that policies promoted by the environmental establishment are having in Africa. Rev. Sesay lost his father to malaria.

Rev. Ralph Weitz, stewardship pastor at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, Virginia, stressed that "We need to avoid guilt-ridden, emotional, and manipulative materials that center on a political agenda versus personal responsibility."
Addendum, 4/20/06: covers the event here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:03 PM

Universal Health Care Says: Tattoo Removal, Yes; Life-Saving Cancer Drugs, No

I've written (see here, here and here for recent examples) often on the problems with so-called "universal care" medical systems.

Now National Center board member and Heritage Foundation health analyst Ed Haislmaier writes to point out an especially ludicrious example from Britain of the misplaced health priorities such systems inevitably develop, despite the best efforts of well-meaning managers:
A former sailor who has had a sex-change is to have her tattoos removed on the NHS because she feels "unladylike..."

...Tanya Bainbridge, 57, who was born Brian, wants the tattoos removed so she can wear sleeveless dresses and tops in summer. The procedure reportedly costs [2,500 British pounds].

Miss Bainbridge, who has nine children - from whom she is now estranged - by three different women, had a [20,000 British pound] sex-change operation on the NHS in 2001 at Charing Cross Hospital in London.

Her local primary health care trust will pay for her to visit the hospital again for laser treatment to remove the tattoos...

Mother-of-three Claire McDonnell, 33, has been refused "wonder drug" Herceptin by Wokingham Primary Care Trust to treat her aggressive form of breast cancer because of its cost.

Mrs McDonnell, from Reading in Berkshire, said the cost of removing Miss Bainbridge's tattoo... was the same amount as the initial treatment of Herceptin. She added: "That money could pay for my breast cancer treatment."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:28 PM

Friday, April 14, 2006

Vanity Fair's Environmental Silliness

From the Department of Silliness: A magazine dedicated to clothes and makeup and the dissolute prancings of the Manhattan and L.A. elite decides to focus on climate change by selecting a group of celebrity party-attendees and praising their meaningless, often PR-driven quasi-activist meanderings.

With photos by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, of course.

The celebrity's credo: If something occurs without a photograph, did it really happen?

Breathless tidbits from Vanity Fair's intrepid reporters, taken from the magazine's press release hyping the issue:
Actress Julia Roberts, who thinks the planet will "implode," fights this by drinking coffee from a metal cup

Zac Goldsmith and his unnamed wife and children are "are easily the eco-movement's most glamorous family" (breathtaking news to those of us who equate "climate change" with "glamour")

Ali Hewson, married to a rock star, "bridg[es] the worlds of fashion, environmentalism, and human rights by using organic products, paying workers a fair wage, and making sure workers are treated humanely"

George Clooney, master of the mixed metaphor, "walks the walk" on environmental issues by driving an $84,000 electric car to his photo shoot with Leibovitz (silence on the politically-incorrect energy sources he exploits when he flies to his Italian villa to ride his motorcycles)

Arnold Schwarzenegger, age 58, is part of a "passionately pro-environment new generation" (Hummers and private planes and being decidedly middle-aged notwithstanding)

Yvon Chouinard, the owner of Patagonia, offers a fun benefit to employees: break the law protesting nonviolently on an environmental issue and he'll post your bail (how 1960s!)

A bunch of actors and actresses (their names in bold, of course) went to a website (or had their publicist do it for them) and determined their personal "carbon footprints" (mixed metaphors again!) and then had trees planted (by someone else) to offset their CO2 usage (so now they can use private planes guilt-free). Trees, of course, emit methane, but as methane is a colorless, odorless gas -- like carbon dioxide! -- its presence does not affect photo shoots.
There's a lot more silliness in the Vanity Fair press release (did you know that Al Gore, age 59, was the "unlikely 'It boy' of this year's Sundance Film Festival"?), but I've devoted enough time to this tripe.

Hat tip: Ken Shepherd of the Media Research Center's Free Market Project.

P.S. Not everyone is as cynical as I. Progressives for Al Gore says of this issue of Vanity Fair: George Clooney and Al Gore in the same picture... be still my beating heart. Really. It says that.

Addendum: I made fun of the Vanity Fair's loopy pretensions, but Nick Schultz at TCSDaily is seeing red at the magazine's "green" issue: It may have libeled distinguished scientist Dr. Frederick Seitz.

Addendum II: James D. Hudnall quips:
Vanity Fair just came out with a "Green Issue." It has the following people on the cover telling us that Global Warming is real and we should listen to them: Julia Roberts, Al Gore, Robert Kennedy Jr, George Clooney. It says they call for a new American Revolution.

I don't know about you, but I hardly call that a brain trust.
Ah, but they aren't paid for brains.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:14 PM

Labor Union Spending: Party City on the Workers' Dimes

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation's Michael Reitz reveals eye-popping facts about labor union speanding:
...In 28 states around the country, workers can be required to pay for union representation as a condition of employment... 2005 labor unions spent $7.3 million on plush resorts, nearly $1.3 million for amusement park events, $148,000 for liquor, and $641,000 for sporting events. SEIU Local 660 in Los Angeles spent $153,000 on movie tickets. Ironworkers Local 40 in New York spent $52,879 on a new Cadillac for a retiring president.

The rank-and-file not only pays for these exorbitant amusements; they also fund generous salaries and benefits for union employees... Nearly half of the NEA's 650 employees make over $100,000 a year. The AFL-CIO has an official chauffeur and he makes $70,951.

...The AFL-CIO reported spending $49 million on politics and lobbying in its 2005 fiscal year -- $20 million more than it spent on workplace representation.

Although 50 percent of NEA teachers self-identify as "conservative" and "tend conservative," the union gave money to numerous liberal groups last year, including Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Amnesty International, AIDS Walk Washington, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Fund to Protect Social Security...
Read the entire article here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:38 PM

Britain's "Universal Care" Health System Puts Quotas on Referrals

The London Times reports that Britain's National Health System has a secret rationing plan: Doctors are being given a ceiling on the number of patients they can refer to specialists.

Says the newspaper:
Patients are being denied appointments with consultants in a systematic attempt to ration care and save the NHS money, The Times has learnt.

Leaked documents passed to The Times show that while ministers promise patients choice, a series of barriers are being erected limiting GPs' rights to refer people to consultants.

The documents reveal that health trusts across London have drawn up plans to establish panels that will "monitor" how many patients are referred to hospital by GPs. Local health trusts have been told that they must cut GP referral rates to those of the lowest 10 per cent nationally. This, the document claims, would save £25 million a year in the capital.

Consultant-to-consultant referrals are also being limited, in many cases denying patients a second opinion....

It is not known how many similar schemes are in existence, but the British Medical Association has confirmed it has found examples in Kent, Oxfordshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Surrey, Sussex, Cornwall, Shropshire, Suffolk, Lancashire and Yorkshire, as well as London...
In other news about the effectiveness of Britain's national "universal care" government-run health system, a 54-year-old British accountant may have only months to live: He's being refused a drug that may prolong his life because it would cost the government health system a lot of money.

Strangely, if he lived in a different part of Britain he might have qualified for the drug. As Britain's Independent newspaper reported the story:
When James Tyndale and his wife first moved to Cambridge in the mid-1980s, he had no idea their choice of home would cut his life expectancy.

The chartered accountant is dying, at the relatively young age of 54, from a cancer of his bone marrow. If he had lived in another town, such as Southampton, Mr Tyndale [a pseudonym] would have been prescribed a powerful new drug, Velcade, which could prolong his life for up to two years...
Socialized medicine. You get what you pay for. Or, maybe, you don't.

(Hat tips to Jerry Pournelle. Go here to read an earlier National Center blog entry describing how Britain's "universal coverage" system saves money by denying hip and knee replacements to overweight adults.)

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:26 AM

Senator Faparillo, Call Your Office

Eamonn Butler, writing on the Adam Smith Institute Blog, proves that public policy groups put out April Fool's Day press releases at their own risk.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:39 AM

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Bellevue College's Condoleezza Quiz (Updated)

From National Center Executive Director David W. Almasi:
Reverend Wayne Perryman of Mercer Island, Washington received disturbing news from a member of his congregation who is a student at the local Bellevue Community College. The student found the following question on a handout meant to help her prepare for an upcoming final exam:
Condoleezza holds a watermelon just over the edge of the roof of the 300-foot Federal Building, and tosses it up with a velocity of 20 feet per second. The height of the watermelon above the ground t seconds later is given by formula h= -16t2 + 20t + 300.

a. How many seconds will it pass her (she's standing at a height of 300 feet) on the way down?

b. When will the watermelon hit ground?
The student's complaints about the wording of the question were ignored, so she took them to Reverend Perryman.

Shocked and appalled at this thinly-veiled insult to our nation's secretary of state, Reverend Perryman sent an e-mail to Project 21 and others noting: "If they used this same problem and substituted Condoleezza's name with Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, there would be mass protest and they would shut the college down."

Things changed after Reverend Perryman began spreading the word and local media picked up the story. BCC's president has apologized for the inclusion of the question and promised an investigation to find out how it got on the test in the first place. The current chairman of the school's math department is reportedly blaming his predecessor. When reached on the phone this afternoon, Reverend Perryman said he was on his way to the school to meet with officials about what else may need to be done and to find out who is going to take the blame.

Project 21 member Mychal Massie
had this to say about it all:
This is a flagrant example of the inculcation and indoctrination of black students and others with racial animus and prejudice towards those they should emulate. It is well-documented that the greatest threat to black families and the economic mobility of young blacks is the pandemic number of school dropouts. This incident provides an unambiguous example of the prejudice that so many educators harbor, and how it can hurt our students and our nation over the long run.
Addendum, 4/13/06: More from David Almasi:
Bellevue Community College administrators now report receiving hundreds of critical e-mails. On campus, the uproar has led to an open-campus meeting yesterday in which BCC President Jean Floten apologized for the inclusion of the racially-offensive question.

In a telephone conversation I had with Reverend Perryman this afternoon, he told me the emotional meeting revealed that there is an atmosphere of fear and intimidation at BCC affecting both students and professors. He said that white students noted they'd seen the offensive question for years, but were scared to stand up for something they thought was wrong. He said professors wept because they felt their views were not being heard, and said President Floten declared that all of this is "nothing less than institutional racism."

The teacher who most recently distributed the practice test containing the offensive question has not been named by college administrators, but it is reported that person apologized and has requested "cultural-sensitivity training."

The rest of the campus may have to brace for the same kind of barrage of political correctness. At yesterday's meeting, President Floten proposed a buffet of racial-sensitivity measures that include the hiring of a two new administrative positions related to cultural sensitivity, increased funding for sensitivity programming and general sensitivity training and tracking on campus.

Reverend Perryman was quoted by the Seattle Times as saying there are no "microwave solutions."

During our call, Reverend Perryman told me he was more interested in broad institutional changes than PC window-dressing. He noted that an eight-hour training session will not fix the hateful anti-conservative environment that permeates college campuses and allowed this particular situation to happen without challenge.

Up until now, Reverend Perryman noted, the environment at BCC - an environment duplicated at institutions of higher learning nationwide - validates such bias. Rather than initiate new sensitivity training, he said, administrators must ensure that students are being educated and not indoctrinated. In the case of BCC, he said, a qualified math department chairman would not have allowed such a question to appear on a test.

If it is found that these administrators cannot be trusted to ensure a balanced, unbiased curriculum, Reverend Perryman told me, an independent review board should be created.

Reverend Perryman is still very much involved in the situation at Bellevue Community College. He's not planning to back down. With a good bit of luck, perhaps this small local college will be the straw the broke the camel's back with regard to political intolerance in higher education. Maybe Reverend Perryman will be remembered as the David who slew the academic Goliath.
This item originally was posted 4/12/06, and updated 4/13/06.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:30 PM

Why Not Life Sentences?

Why does it seem like people who kill children so often manage to get off with only light sentences?

Addendum: Desert Light Journal has a thoughtful reply.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:17 AM

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Science vs. Daily News?

I'm no lover of Scientology, but the New York Daily News story "Travolta Son's Diagnosis: Science vs. Scientology?" is both rude and ignorant.

Rude because a minor shouldn't be subjected to public gossip just because his parents make movies.

Ignorant because autism does not require treatment by psychiatrists.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:26 PM

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

From the Heartland Defends Jeffrey Skilling

The Heartland Institute defends Jeffrey Skilling.

Worth a read.

(Via Professor Bainbridge.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:21 PM

There's a Chill in the Air

Did global warming stop?

(Via Bizzy Blog.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:38 PM

Monday, April 10, 2006


By creating a blog but not allowing links to it, and creating content non-paying visitors cannot read, the New York Times management appears to be putting their desire for revenue over their interest in being read.

Which means that maybe, just maybe, we could pay the New York Times to go away.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:04 PM

"Universal Coverage" Health Care Realities

Remember this story the next time a leftie interest group or politician recommends a "universal" health insurance coverage system like Britain's or Canada's.

That story took place in Britain. Here are some statistics from Canada.

Stat to remember: "[In Canada,] 12 percent of physicians and 4 percent of nurses believe they have had patients die specifically because of long waits for needed care."

"Universal coverage" systems excel at providing health insurance, but aren't so good at health care.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:58 PM

Patronizing Justice Kennedy

From Paul Bedard at U.S. News and World Report:
A job for life, generous bennies, the pick of tee times, and compliments from every lawyer in town can't make up for the reality of 'low' pay on the federal bench. Making between $149,132 and $208,100 (on par with the vice president and House speaker) just doesn't cut it anymore for the black-robed class. Listen to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. 'We are patronized when we meet judges from England, the European Union, or Malaysia, whose salaries double that of ours,' he tells a House subcommittee. 'They say, 'We're so sorry about your salaries.' You shouldn't put us in that position."
Here's a thought, Justice Kennedy: You could resign in protest.

Anyway, as Kim Priestap has reported, things like this happen in the Malaysian legal system. Malaysian jurists probably get paid extra to help make up for the fact that they aren't always allowed to issue opinions.

Hmmm... on second thought, Justice Kennedy may have a point. Let's pay him more.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:52 PM


Worth a look, if you are interested in the future of Social Security.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:28 PM

Earmarking Travel to Disneyland and Space

The National Taxpayers Union is wondering if federal taxpayers should be forced to pay for a superfast train between Las Vegas and Disneyland.

Travel seems to attract the attention of earmarkers. One of the projects of the Institute for Scientific Research, the group in the news lately because of attention to earmarks reportedly obtained for West Virginia non-profits by Rep. Alan Mollohan, is research into the construction of a possible space elevator.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:24 AM

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Chicago Defender to Rep. McKinney: Do the Right Thing

The century-old African-American newspaper the Chicago Defender has this to say about and to Rep. Cynthia McKinney:
McKinney has long been a freedom fighter, willing to stand up to oppression and fight for African Americans. She had the courage to question the Bush Administration for a variety of reasons, even losing her seat because of her unwillingness to alter her views to satisfy her critics.

We have stood with McKinney, but rallying around her on this issue is beyond us, and her actions are indefensible. She may not be able to get out of this jam with an apology. If the grand jury indicts, there will be a trial, and likely some sort of plea.

Rep. McKinney, it should have never gotten to this. Just do the right thing and own up to it rather than make this more of an issue than it should have been.
Read it all here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:33 PM

Fact-Checking? For a Fee, Perhaps

Finally, a way to get accurate coverage from the press: pay for it.

$100,000 up front and $10,000 a month thereafter appears to be the going rate.

An interesting thing about this story is that the billionaire the Post staffer allegedly hit up for protection money complained repeatedly to the Post's attorneys, editors and management about inaccurate coverage -- but no one at the newspaper seemed to care.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:53 AM


Next time you see Rep. Cynthia McKinney on television talking about a class action lawsuit by black Capitol Police Officers against the U.S. Capitol Police, read this analysis of the case.

It is not all the Congresswoman claims it to be.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:11 AM

Just Like a Drunk in a Bar Praising Alcoholics Anonymous

Andrew Roth has a very good point about Congress here, although I suppose an institution can honor the goals of Financial Literacy Month without first adopting the principles it stands for.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:05 AM

Liberty Zone: No Help from 911

This story on the Liberty Zone blog is very sad.

The TV news report the Liberty Zone links to says the 911 operator who berated the little boy for calling 911 about his mother will not be fired "because of her years of service." I hope that news report turns out to be incorrect. Seniority is irrelevant. The important thing is how well a job is being done, and it does not appear that it was done at all well in this instance.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:03 AM

Friday, April 07, 2006

Earmark Scandal? DOJ Reportedly Investigating WV Congressman Following Nine-Month National Legal and Policy Center Investigation

Despite significant blogosphere attention to the dubious (or, at the very least, excessive) Congressional practice of "earmarking," I'm not seeing a lot of attention on blogs today about this press release from the National Legal and Policy Center:
NLPC Complaint Alleges Ranking House Ethics Committee Member Hid Assets and Funded Business Partner's Groups with Millions in Earmarks

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) today disclosed that it filed a 500-page Complaint on February 28 with the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia detailing hundreds of ethics law violations by Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV).

Rep. Mollohan is the ranking member of the House ethics committee and a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. The Wall Street Journal this morning carried a front-page story about the case.

The lengthy complaint followed a nine-month investigation by NLPC, the ethics group that also broke the Boeing procurement scandal in 2003. NLPC alleged financial conflicts of interest by former Air Force official Darleen Druyun in negotiating the lease of refueling tanker aircraft. Ms. Druyun and Boeing CFO Michael Sears eventually served prison terms, and Boeing CEO Phil Condit resigned.

NLPC's investigation began when its review of the Financial Disclosure Reports of House Appropriations Committee members showed a sharp increase in Rep. Mollohan's assets from 2000 to 2004. A closer examination revealed that Mollohan and his wife had more than $2,000,000 in real estate investments with a former staffer, Laura Kuhns, and her husband. Kuhns ran a nonprofit, Vandalia Heritage Foundation, which had received more than $28 million in appropriations earmarks with Mollohan's help from 2000 through 2005. She was also on the board of other nonprofit groups which had received over $100 million in earmarks of federal funds during the same period with Mollohan's help.

Mollohan's 2000 Financial Disclosure Report listed his income-producing assets as being worth from $179,012 to $562,000 with liabilities of $170,000 to $465,000. Among the liabilities was Visa credit card debt listed as $45,003 to $150,000.

Just four years later, Mollohan's 2004 Financial Disclosure Report showed him with assets worth $6,313,025 to $24,947,000 offset by liabilities in the $3,665,011 to $13,500,000 range. It also showed him owning an oceanfront beach house on Bald Head Island, NC which was valued at $1,000,000 to $5,000,000. NLPC found that Mollohan was renting the beach house during the summer of 2005 for $11,975 a week.

The NLPC effort began in May 2005. Over the ensuing months, NLPC staff filed Freedom of Information Act requests and examined thousands of pages of real estate, financial and legal documents. Slowly a picture of Mollohan's finances emerged that was sharply different from the one being portrayed in the Financial Disclosure Reports...
Read the rest here.

The Wall Street Journal is covering this on page one today; their story includes a response from Rep. Mollohan, who says all of his financial investments are "aboveboard" and "every one of the earmarks is held to the highest standards of accountability."

Both NLPC and Wall Street Journal say the Justice Department, which declined to comment for the WSJ story, has opened an investigation.

This is worth watching. The NLPC is known to be careful about details and would not make charges lightly. And -- whatever the case may be in regard to Rep. Mollohan's personal finances, the amount of money being appropriated, apparently through earmarks, from federal taxpayers to these non-profits over a short period of time is truly astounding.

Addendum: Don Surber, a self-described "proud member of the MSM" in West Virginia, has comments. So do Josh Krausharr and Jonathan Martin, writing for Hotline on Call (with updates including comments by House Speaker Denny Hastert) and David Freddoso on the Human Events blog.

Addendum II: Josh Krausharr and Jonathan Martin are continuing updates at Hotline On Call. They now have posted lengthy responses from Rep. Mollohan. Rep. Mollohan focuses on the National Legal and Policy Center being a conservative group; he does not confirm, deny or otherwise comment upon the Wall Street Journal's report that the Justice Department has opened an investigation.

Other blogs covering the story: Kim Priestap at Wizbang, Irene at Corruption Chronicles, Redstate and Reconstitution.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a leftie activist group, has asked Rep. Mollohan to "temporarily step down" from his post as ranking member of the House Ethics Committee. If he does not do so "voluntarily," CREW's statement asks House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to do it for him.

Addendum, 4/8/06: Don Surber is staying on the story, posting additional commentary and links to other blogs and news outlets covering the Mollohan earmarks story today.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:18 PM

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Mark Tapscott Covers Trent Lott's "Railway to Nowhere"

Mark Tapscott is staying on Trent Lott's case -- the case of Lott's "railway to nowhere," that is.

Lott's anger at "Porkbuster" bloggers for being "nothing but trouble" is good evidence that the anti-pork blogger alliance is having an impact.

Good for them.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:27 PM

Save the Planet: Drive an SUV

From Peyton Knight:
A marketing research firm has announced the results of a two-year study that shows hybrid vehicles are more "energy expensive" over their lifetime than comparable non-hybrid vehicles and even a Hummer H3.

Says Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing Research:
If a consumer is concerned about fuel economy because of family budgets or depleting oil supplies, it is perfectly logical to consider buying high-fuel-economy vehicles. But if the concern is the broader issues such as environmental impact of energy usage, some high-mileage vehicles actually cost society more than conventional or even larger models over their lifetime.
Can we now expect environmentally-conscious celebrities to shed their hybrids like a three-month-old marriage?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:52 PM

Black Conservatives on Cynthia McKinney-Police Officer Controversy

Project 21 members have commented on the Rep. Cynthia McKinney imbroglio.

Says Deroy Murdock:
McKinney should be arrested and prosecuted for assault, just like any other American. That's called equal justice under law. She should look into it.

Rather than explain herself and apologize for hitting this officer, which would make this whole thing go away, Representative McKinney decided to go ballistic and turn this into a matter of alleged sexism and racism. Are the Capitol Police now supposed to look the other way when women, blacks or those who are both black and female walk into the U.S. Capitol without stopping to be checked or identified? Is this the policy Representative McKinney really considers wise during wartime and while Washington is appropriately concerned about terrorist attacks?
Says Gregory Parker:
This is not a matter of gender or race. This is a matter of security and law. No elected official or their ego is above the law. Simply identifying herself would have saved all of us the headache of this grand jury, investigation and the race and gender allegations that do little to help race relations. It also could have saved the taxpayers' money.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:50 PM

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

AFL-CIO Official: "The Whole West Was Part of Mexico"

The current (April 10) issue of Time magazine features a brief commentary on immigration by an official of the AFL-CIO:
President, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO

The key problem is making felons out of everyone who is here without documents. What people miss is that includes 1.6 million children. Who thinks of this crazy stuff? These measures are just horrendous. We've taken enough bad-mouthing from these talking heads on radio and TV. If this House bill passed, I would be a criminal. And I wouldn't stop what I'm doing, so I'd be one of the first people arrested. This is no longer just an immigration issue. It is a civil rights movement now.

People forget that less than 170 years ago, the whole West was part of Mexico. Who do you think named Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Antonio? It wasn't the people who came through Ellis Island. It was us. We didn't cross any borders. The borders crossed us.

Mr. Velasquez asks, "Who do you think named Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Antonio? It wasn't the people who came through Ellis Island."

Since you ask, Mr. Velasquez, it was Europeans:
Los Angeles was named by Father Juan Crespi, a Spanish Franciscan priest and missionary who was born in Palma. It is true that he did not travel to Los Angeles by way of Ellis Island, but the route is immaterial: He hailed from Europe.

San Antonio was named "San Antonio de Padua" by Spaniard Domingo Teran de los Rios in 1691. Teran, remembered today as the first provincial governor of Texas, was a member of the Spanish military who previously had spent twenty years in Spanish service in Peru.

San Francisco was named by Portuguese explorer Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno, who claimed it for Spain.
Mr. Velasquez says, "People forget that less than 170 years ago, the whole West was part of Mexico."

Some facts about which nations controlled what when:
In the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819, the U.S. ceded to Spain the possession of Texas, California and New Mexico (lands included present-day Nevada, Utah, Arizona, parts of Wyoming and Colorado). Other territories, including the Oregon territory, were ceded to the U.S. by Spain.

Mexico was not an independent nation until 1821.

By 1836 the Republic of Texas had established itself separate from Mexico and by 1846 Mexican control of California was in considerable question.

In the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the U.S. paid Mexico approximately $20 million for all of present-day California, Nevada, and Utah, and parts of present-day Arisona, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. The nation of Mexico by then had officially controlled California and the mentioned territories for less than thirty years.
Mr. Velasquez, who was born in Texas, claims: "We didn't cross any borders. The borders crossed us."

Except (arguably) for the Civil War, Texas has been part of the United States since 1846. Mr. Velasquez and his unnamed colleagues must be very, very old.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:33 AM

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Appreciating Bush

Polipundit is feeling pretty good about President Bush.

He's right about quite a bit of what he says, including the reminder that conservatives groused rather often about President Reagan back in the day.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:16 PM

Monday, April 03, 2006

Frist: Medicare Facing Collapse Unless Fundamentally Reformed

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) on Medicare, writing in the Detroit News:
With every passing year our nation's health insurance programs for the elderly, disabled, and poor draw closer to a crisis point. Right now, transforming Medicare may help American industry more than anything else that government could do.

The problem is stark. The Medicare program will run out of money sometime around 2020. At that point, the government would almost certainly need to cut benefits for all Medicare beneficiaries while raising taxes on every working American.

Without fundamental change, however, even this unpleasant course of action would only provide a temporary fix. The program would continue to expand as the ranks of retirees grow, and eventually, face total collapse...
Read the rest here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:20 AM

The U.N. is Really Helpful (Not)

From a Peter Brookes op-ed distributed by the Heritage Foundation:
A blossoming Sino-Russian romance is undercutting U.S. global interests on an unprecedented scale. Indeed, Russia and China seem to have their eyes on restraining European and Japanese power, too. Start with the United Nations, where Russia and China are hampering U.S.- and European Union-led efforts to address Iran's nuclear program. It's been weeks since the Security Council got official notice that Iran had violated its nonproliferation promises -- yet the U.N. body has yet to manage to even condemn Tehran's actions, much less impose economic sanctions.

No surprise: Both Moscow and Beijing have way too much at stake to bully their buddy, Tehran. China has billions invested in Iran's oil/gas fields; Russia hopes to make its own billions by reprocessing Iranian reactor fuel. And both sell millions in advanced weapons to Iran....
Tell me again: Why are we in still in the U.N.?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:07 AM

Sunday, April 02, 2006

If Only Walls Could Talk

This London Sunday Times story is interesting:
A pub must pay a fine for a murder on its premises more than 300 years ago.

Auditors discovered the long-forgotten penalty for The Swan in Ipswich, Suffolk, while balancing the books for the town's St Mary Le Tower Church Charities.

The annual bill of 40 shillings, equivalent to 2 pounds, seems to be a punishment for a killing in 1664 when Charles II was king...
Here's a home page for a Swan hotel and restaurants (possibly not the correct one?), which dates back to the 1400s. The website notes that the "Old Bar" (possibly the scene of the murder?) has "memorabilia, including badges and signatures of the American airmen stationed at Lavenham during World War II."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:54 PM

Copyright The National Center for Public Policy Research