Sunday, December 31, 2006

Hard to Argue

The COB blog says of the U.N.: "In the history of man, a more useless organization has never been chartered."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:22 PM

Friday, December 29, 2006

Pop v. Soda, et al

An interesting map.

Hat tip: Reality Hammer.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:15 AM

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I Believed, Said Ford (Not)

The Washington Post finds a way to exploit former President Ford's death, seeing the story of a decent man's passing as a way to launch an attack on -- of course -- the Bush Administration.

The fact that President Ford was a political moderate and not a man generally known for bold strokes is not page one news to anyone whose news sense, and knowledge of recent history, exceeds his political instincts. I wonder if anyone sensible thinks a President Ford would have ordered the invasion of Iraq -- either time -- so it is hardly should be page one news now that Ford expressed skepticism of the policy over two years ago.

Perhaps because of observations like this and these, the Post published very, very brief excerpts from the interview. That way, we know Woodward was really there...

...however, we don't know he did not take things out of context.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:20 PM

John Dingell's Plans

The incoming chairman of the House House Energy and Commerce Committee, John Dingell, is interviewed by Amanda Griscom Little for the environmentalist magazine Grist. Worth reading if you care about climate policy. (For what it is worth, I didn't disagree with a word he said.)

Pretty quotable, too. For instance, this exchange:
Grist: Do you think there's a way of developing a Detroit-friendly climate policy? For instance, some environmentalists have been outlining a proposal for a cap-and-trade program that offers special allowances to automakers that would help fund the industry's technological advances.

Rep. Dingell: I'm willing to consider it. I don't know. You know, before you start making a bunch of wise-ass comments, you better know what you're talking about. And right now I don't. There's all types of people running around with solutions, but when you put these solutions to the test, sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. I would be willing to bet you that half don't.
I wouldn't take that bet.

Note: I originally posted this with a link to the wrong article in Grist. The link has now been corrected. Apologies for any inconvenience, and thanks to Holly at Grist for letting me know about the error.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:43 PM

Monday, December 25, 2006

Unto You Is Born This Day

Luke 2: 1-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:00 AM

Saturday, December 23, 2006

ConWebBlog: Watching the Watcher

The at-times entertaining ConWebWatch blog, which "keeps an eye on conservative news," was more entertaining than usual Friday.

In a post castigating the accuracy of a column by Christopher Adamo, it claimed (not for the first time), that the Republican Party controlled Congress in 1982.

Apparently, ConWebWatch keeps an eye on conservative news, but not necessarily on Congress.

Addendum, 12/27/06: The ConWeb Watch blog has acknowledged and corrected the error.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:54 PM

Top 100 Baby Names of 2006

In the utterly frivolous category, we link to a list of the 100 top baby names for 2006.

There definitely are some imaginative parents out there. "Aiden," which doesn't even appear in many baby name reference works, is the #1 name for baby boys. "Nevaeh" (heaven spelled backward) cracks the top hundred for girls, yet doesn't appear in reference works, either. "Trinity" beats "Faith" for girls; this must tell us something theological. A high church resurgence is looming, perhaps.

"Peyton" hits the top hundred for both boys and girls -- no doubt, inspired by the National Center's Peyton Knight's work in defense of our Constitution's Fifth Amendment. Apparently, parents of girls appreciate the Fifth Amendment just slightly more often (53rd most popular name for girls) than parents of boys (99th for boys), a theory supported by the fact that "Madison," as in the Father of the Constitution, is the #2 name for girls.

Many names are too imaginative for the baby-name databases. "Jayden," #19 for boys, doesn't show up on this list of names, nor this one, nor this one, but this one and this one claim it is modern English with no meaning while this one says "Jayden" means "God has heard" in Hebrew. (I wouldn't rely on that last database.)

Not all the unusual names are meaningless, however. "Caden," #13 for boys, apparently means "spirit of battle" and is Welsh.

The American Baby website gets unusually specific for "Logan" (#10 for boys), defining Logan as "a tan, good-looking soap star, or a serious, strong but gentle, hardworking bodybuilder who's hard to get to know." Baby Names World shortens that to "empty."

One thing's for sure: "Logan" is not the name to pick if you are shooting to send junior to Harvard.

#54 on the baby girls' list is "Brooklyn." "Manhattan" does not appear. Nor, thankfully, does "Staten Island."

In the strangest of all search results, American Baby's result for "Kennedy" (#77 for girls) links the name to "Oswald."

Not the best combination.

Note: After this post was written, the website that defined "Jayden" as meaning "God has heard" in Hebrew removed that definition from its website.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:23 AM

Friday, December 22, 2006

Ex-Cons to Get Special Rights in DC?

The proposal adopted by the District of Columbia City Council to give rehabilitated ex-cons a special protected status under the law in DC strangely seems to be staying under the radar of most of our nation's talk hosts, bloggers and reporters.

Fortunately, some are beginning to take notice.

Tom Blumer at BizzyBlog has dug out the legislation from the less-then-people-friendly D.C. Council website, and provides information that was not in my post.

Kim Priestap, writing on Wizbang, points out: "...if Marion Barry's bill passes, Sandy Burglar would become a member of a protected class, making it illegal to deny him a job in D.C. because he stole classified documents from the National Archives."

And Courtney Mabeus, writing in the news section of the Examiner, notes concerns by a public official that "someone who robbed a bank, you don’t want working in a bank.”


I picked up on it after seeing a series of articles in Legal Times (paid subscription required), to which kudos are due.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:59 AM

Thursday, December 21, 2006

CEPR Could Be Right: After All, Anything is Possible

David Hogberg writes:
At first this column in the Sacramento Bee by Marc Weisbrot of the left-wing Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) seemed pretty unremarkable -- the usual silly nonsense about how government-run health care would be better than the private sector. It contained the typical leftist talking point about how we spend more than other countries but they "they have better health outcomes in terms of life expectancy and infant mortality." I've written a letter to the Sac Bee explaining why those two measures tell us next to nothing about a health care system. We'll see if they print it.

Of course, Weisbrot should be aware that those measures are misleading, as we have criticized CEPR for using such measures before. Nevertheless, what made this column somewhat remarkable was this line: "The private sector in health insurance has proven to be much more inefficient than the public sector." After I picked myself up off the floor, I could only think, "Surely he jests!"

Clearly, Weisbrot needs to read up on the "efficiency" of the public sector. He advocates expanding Medicare to cover all Americans, yet, as a National Bureau of Economic Research paper shows, Medicare is so inefficient that it wastes up to one dollar in five on care that provides no benefit. Nor is it particularly efficient at ensuring quality care: A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that on twenty-two of thirty-seven indicators of necessary care, at least one in five Medicare patients did not receive the necessary care.

One might also look north, to the health care system of Canada, which Weisbrot claims insures "just about everyone." It is so badly mismanaged that it must resort to waiting lists and cancel surgeries to ration care. The consequences are deadly. In 2002 the Canadian Medical Association Journal reported that in Southern Ontario alone over a two-year period 50 people died and another 73 suffered a heart attack while on a waiting list to receive a cardiac catheterization.

Of course, it's possible that Weisbrot has a definition of efficiency that the rest of us are unfamiliar with. After all, he co-authored an amusing book with the title Social Security: The Phony Crisis, so anything is possible.
Note: A typo was corrected in this post. The original version of this post said 83 people in Southern Ontario suffered a heart attack while on a waiting list; the correct number is 73.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:33 PM

Sunday, December 17, 2006

"Convict Quotas" Coming to DC?

Not a joke. DC employers may soon be required to hire ex-cons. From Legal Times (subscription required), December 11:
Ex-convicts would be protected from employment, housing, and educational discrimination as the newest protected class in the D.C. Human Rights Act under a bill the D.C. Council unanimously approved on first reading last week.
Making criminals a protected class. Oh, that's rich. Now DC employers will be vulnerable to lawsuits for not hiring ex-cons. Some interest group (taxpayer-subsidized, most likely) will figure out what percentage of the DC population has ever been convicted of anything, and any employer who doesn't have at least that percentage of ex-cons on his workforce will be vulnerable to discrimination lawsuits. De facto "convict quotas." The lawyers get thirty percent.

Anyone who thinks I am kidding, think again. Members of other "protected classes" bring suits on that basis, and a certain class of trial lawyer (the technical name is 'bottom dweller') is always looking for new reasons to bring lawsuits. If this bill passes and remains in force, "convict quota" lawsuits would not be immediate, but they are probably inevitable.

It gets worse: In an effort to avoid convict quota lawsuits, employers will seek out convicts. Hoping to stay safe and alive themselves -- not to mention avoid lawsuits that may occur should the ex-cons they hire commit crimes while on their clock -- employers will bid hard against one another for the non-violent ex-offenders. Small businesses; businesses just starting up and businesses without much ready cash will be forced to meet their quotas by hiring the folks who come cheapest -- the people who were convicted of violent or otherwise especially loathsome crimes.

Fortunately, day care and elderly care centers are big-margin businesses, so they'll probably be able to afford to bid for the embezzlers and check-bouncers. (Not.)

I wonder which sort of ex-offender will apply for jobs at security firms. Burglars?

At a certain point, it could become profitable for would-be employees to become convicted for a little crime -- something that results in probation, maybe; nothing too inconvenient -- in order to get oneself "protected class" status.

One of the sick jokes about D.C. is how much money former Congressmen can make when they sign up with lobbying firms. The joke is about to get sicker: Ex-lawmakers with criminal records now may even get more.

More details...

From a Legal Times (subscription required) October 30 article by Brendan Smith, we learn the unsurprising name of the sponsor of this unanimously-adopted legislation, and more. I recommend the entire article, which has more detail than copyright law permits me to reprint, but here are excerpts:
D.C. Council member Marion Barry's record of public service spans five decades, yet many people still remember him for that grainy FBI surveillance video showing him inhaling from a crack-cocaine pipe in the Vista Hotel in 1990...

...Barry is now pushing a bill that would add rehabilitated ex-offenders to the already-expansive list of classes protected from employment discrimination under the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977...

...Five states ban discrimination against ex-offenders by both public and private employers under certain circumstances. But Kenneth Saunders, director of the D.C. Office of Human Rights, says he doesn't know of any state that has added ex-offenders as a protected class under human rights law....

...Barry says many employers, including the D.C. government, discriminate against ex-offenders, in part because some businesses are "myopic in their thinking."

"The way the American justice system is supposed to work is, you've served your time, you've paid your debt to society, and that should be it," he says. "This is a new day in the nation's capital. We're not going to have discrimination of any kind. If you do discriminate, you're going to pay for it..."

...The D.C. Chamber of Commerce, which represents about 2,000 members, has some concerns about creating a human rights class for ex-offenders, but the chamber has not lobbied for or against the bill, says spokesman Chris Knudson...

...Jamie Fellner, U.S. program director of Human Rights Watch, says she supports adding ex-offenders as a protected civil rights class, but Human Rights Watch has not endorsed that position because "it hasn't come up."

"As a practical matter, many people today with criminal records face the same kind of off-the-cuff discrimination that people have faced because of race or sex," she says. "It shadows your life. It's like wearing the brand A on your chest, the scarlet letter..."
Yes, a scarlet letter. One a person pinned on him or herself.


Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:00 PM

Friday, December 15, 2006

European Union REACHes for Yet More Regulation

On Wednesday, the European Union adopted sweeping new regulations on chemicals. As an EU statement put it:
One of the biggest pieces of legislation in the EU's history, REACH will set up a system for the registration, evaluation and authorization of chemicals for sale in the EU. About 30,000 substances stand to be registered and 3000 authorized. It puts the burden of proof on industry to prove that their chemicals are safe or undertake research to prove they pose not threat to human health and the environment. A new EU chemicals agency based in Helsinki will be responsible for the registration and authorization of chemicals.
National Center Senior Fellow Bonner Cohen was less than enthuasistic about the REACH proposal when he wrote about it for us last year:
The European Union's REACH proposal, if adopted, will reduce international trade in chemicals, inhibit innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises, and raise costs and regulatory burdens on all users of chemical products.

Because all manufactured products contain chemicals, finished goods, including their components, are subject to REACH. The whole supply chain will be under the gun. More than half of all the products imported into the EU will be affected by REACH. Many low-volume chemicals will have to be withdrawn from the market, not because they pose a danger to the public, but because the cost of jumping through the EU's testing hoops will exceed the cost of withdrawal. Yet, all this is completely unnecessary. Chemicals already undergo extensive testing for their effects on human health and the environment.
Addendum: Environmentalists are saying REACH won't be restrictive enough.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:10 AM

Burping = Global Warming

Ross Kaminsky of Real Clear Politics warns: "For heaven's sake, stay away from the business end of a cow."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:04 AM

Thursday, December 14, 2006

'Congressional Reform' Proposal Would Regulate Ordinary Citizens More Harshly than K Street Lobbyists

Why is Joan Claybrook of Public Citizen going after the little guy? Will Nancy Pelosi -- as expected -- follow her lead?

The Free Speech Coalition has the details (emphasis is mine):
Public Citizen acknowledges it is helping craft legislation for Speaker-Elect Nancy Pelosi... The bill would treat communications to the general public more harshly under lobbying disclosure law than actual lobbying conducted by high-priced K Street lobbyists. The new legislation won't be available until the next Congress convenes, but its model, H.R. 4682, would create unprecedented restrictions and penalties, potentially criminal, on the free exercise of First Amendment rights by citizens to speak, publish, associate and petition the government.
Says the Free Speech Coalition's leader, Dick Dingman, in a press release today:
Public Citizen fails to disclose how the grassroots legislation would hurt citizen advocates and critics, protect big special interests and assist corruption in Washington. Public Citizen, with its eight-figure assets and multi-million dollar revenues, shows no shame in being less than honest about so-called 'honest government' legislation.
The Free Speech Coalition press release continues:
First Amendment lawyer and Co-Counsel for the Free Speech Coalition, William J. Olson, said, "The Public Citizen/Pelosi bill would allow corporations, unions and even foreign interests to spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars mobilizing their shareholders, officers, employees and members, yet hide those expenditures. On the flipside, their bill would require real citizen associations to essentially obtain Congress's consent to communicate about important policy matters that impact on them. It's not just the imbalance that is wrong; it's a frontal attack on the First Amendment and political speech."

"The grassroots legislation may be the most expansive and wrongly targeted regulation of First Amendment rights ever written," added lawyer Mark Fitzgibbons. "We hope that Democrats who pledged reform when campaigning will target real corruption instead of the rights of citizens to participate in their democracy," he concluded. Free Speech Coalition Co-Counsel, Mark Weinberg, expressed confidence that his fellow liberal Democrats will see the light and correct these inequities.
The National Center fought a proposal to regulate citizen communications with their elected representatives in the waning days of the last Democratic Congress. At the time, Congressional Democrats were trying to do something about the influence of talk radio hosts, which they (rightly) saw as an inconvenient impediment to their power in Washington. I also remember that issue as the one time I've ever been asked to be a guest on the Rush Limbaugh Show. We were leading an effort to alert talk radio hosts to the impact that legislation could have had on the public (for example, had it passed, an American family flying to visit DC could have been required to register as lobbyists if they also visited their Congressman and shared any opinion whatsoever with him, because the airfare incurred in traveling to DC would have met a supposed "lobbyist" test). Because the provisions affecting grassroots Americans had been written very subtly, I was asked to come on to explain how the bill would affect talk radio and ordinary Americans. Being a big ditto head (which I still am), I was really psyched, except I realized that no one had ever heard of me, and might not take my word for it that the bill really said what it did. So I called over to Tom DeLay's office. We had only a few minutes' notice, because I got the call after finishing a CNN broadcast that ended at noon, and Rush's show was to start six minutes later. The CNN folks -- liberal or not, the people in the headquarters tend to be extremely nice -- knew what was up and the time pressure we were under, and volunteered me a room from which to make the calls (this is before everyone had cell phones). Tom DeLay was still a rank-and-file Congressman then, but he knew all about the bill and, unlike me, he was known to Limbaugh's audience. The staffer told me Tom was on the floor (of the House, not his office), so I gave her the Limbaugh studio phone number, told her to run over to the floor, pull Tom off of it, and have him call Rush immediately to go right on the air. She did it -- she must literally have run to have done it so fast. Tom came right off the floor and called Rush immediately, to lead off the show. It was a great interview. The phones lit up on Capitol Hill. It had a huge impact. Support for the ill-conceived proposal -- which had been expected to pass -- evaporated because of the Limbaugh listeners, the Mike Reagan listeners, the Gordon Liddy listeners, the Alan Keyes listeners, and the listeners of many other talk shows (this is, after all, 1993 -- before most people had even heard of the Internet). It was one of those days when you really feel like it is worth it to be in the DC information-sharing (non-profit) "business," because just getting the word to the American people had such an immediate and important impact.

Unfortunately, though, even when we win here in Washington, the victories tend to be temporary. Those who would regulate ordinary citizens who merely want to talk to their government are at it again.

Now, at least, we have Internet communications to help us spread the word.

For more details about the Claybrook/Pelosi proposal, see a letter (PDF) the heads of 47 groups sent to Joan Claybrook today (disclosure: I'm one of the signers), and read the analysis that accompanies the letter. You also can visit the Free Speech Coalition's website.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:47 PM

Patrick Leahy's Bipartisan Commission

There are currently 51 judicial vacancies, with 24 of these vacancies considered "judicial emergencies" due to a court's large caseload and extended vacancies.  The incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee should be talking about getting these vacancies promptly filled, in a manner consistent with the Constitution.  Instead, says Project 21's Mychal Massie, he's talking about setting up an extrajudicial "bipartisan commission to help in the selection of judicial nominees."

The Constitution gives the President of the United States the authority to make judicial appointments. Specifically:
[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
No mention of a "bipartisan commission" in there anywhere.

I wonder who would appoint the "bipartisan commission." The President, perhaps, with the Advice and Consent of the Senate? If they can agree on a Commission, they ought to be able to agree on judges.

I also notice that Senator Leahy is not recommending that a "bipartisan commission" be empowered to determine the hearing schedule of the Judiciary Committee.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:48 PM

Conservative Black Group Questions CNN Bias Report

Project 21's Mychal Massie and Deneen Moore are skeptical of a CNN poll and report claiming Americans -- perhaps 80 percent of us -- tend to be racist, even when we don't realize it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:53 AM

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sarbanes-Oxley: Secret Costs?

Senior Fellow Tom Borelli and his Free Enterprise Action Fund partner Steve Milloy ask an important question: "What if someone threw a Sarbanes-Oxley reform party and no one from Wall Street showed up?"

It's not an idle question. Tom and Steve filed shareholder proposals with at least four Wall Street firms, including Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, and Merrill Lynch, asking them to report to shareholders about the costs they incur complying with Sarbanes-Oxley.

They describe what they've learned as a result about the costs of Sarbanes-Oxley in a December 11 op-ed in the New York Sun.

One hint to what you'll find in the op-ed: Two of the Wall Street firms petitioned the Securities and Exchange Commission to get permission to ignore Tom's and Steve's SOX information request.

Say Tom and Steve: "If our experience is indicative of Wall Street's interest in seeking [Sarbanes-Oxley reforms], we may be shackled with SOX and other unnecessary market regulatory burdens for some time to come."

Addendum, 12/17/06: BizzyBlog examines the question: Is Sarbanes-Oxley unconstitutional?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:38 AM

Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act Dies - For Now

Peyton Knight applauds one of the last non-acts, but wise decisions, of the 109th Congress:
Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act Dies With 109th Congress

Washington, D.C. - Despite a furious, last-minute charge from anti-property rights lobbyists, Congress declined to pass the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act in the waning days of the "lame duck" congressional session.

The National Center for Public Policy Research opposed the creation of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area because it would have threatened property rights and undermined the authority of local government in portions of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

"Chalk one up for property rights and commonsense limited government," said Peyton Knight, director of environmental and regulatory affairs for the National Center. "Property owners and limited government conservatives can breathe a sigh of relief for now. However, there is little doubt that the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership will be back next year, pushing their plan to make themselves the federally-funded ‘managers’ of historic areas in four states."

The Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act, sponsored in the 109th Congress by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Senator George Allen (R-VA), would have provided millions in federal tax dollars to a collection of preservation interest groups, many with a history of anti-property rights activism, and allowed those groups to spend that money lobbying local governments to impose local land use restrictions.

When word of the threat to property rights spread, local citizens and policy groups educated citizens on the dangers posed by the initiative. As a result, the bill failed to pass in either the House or the Senate during the regular congressional session. Proponents of the bill then turned their efforts to the "lame duck" congressional session, a time when controversial legislation is sometimes whisked through Congress with little notice. However, their eleventh hour lobby effort proved futile as Congress adjourned without passing the measure.

"In the very last hours of the 109th Congress, a coalition of pork-barrel politicians, elitist greens, the National Park Service and Washington DC lobbyists failed to run roughshod over the Constitution by pushing through another National Heritage Area," said R.J. Smith, senior fellow with the National Center. "It was a major defeat for those who would destroy the underlying foundations of a free society and individual liberty."

Smith added: "Now is the time for those who honor the Constitution and Bill of Rights to do the right thing by respecting property rights and returning to the unique American tradition of private conservation. Such conservation has preserved both America’s wild places and its historical and cultural sites, through the use of voluntary and contractual arrangements. It is a morally superior preservation option, compared to the use of government to take people's property by force, often destroying their livelihoods in the process."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:43 AM

Green Europe Has Red Face

Looks like Europe is still taking the Kyoto global warming treaty as seriously as ever. A Reuters report says Austria, Denmark, Hungary and Italy have failed "to submit plans that allocate how much carbon dioxide (CO2) their industries may emit in 2008-2012," resulting in those countries being issued "final warnings" by the European Commission.

The plans were due in June.

France apparently met its deadline but then withdrew its plan "in the face of likely rejection by the EU."

France, like Germany, Poland, Slovenia, Estonia, Luxembourg and Spain, is apparently also in trouble with the EU for "failing to provide complete reports on their progress in limiting or cutting greenhouse gas emissions."

Meanwhile, Kofi "Don't Let the Door Hit Him on the Way Out, Or, On Second Thought, Do" Annan continues criticizing the U.S. and Australia for not ratifying the Kyoto Treaty. "[The US and Australia] have to be in step with the rest of the industrialized world," Annan said in November.

"In step" to Annan means "ratify," then "violate."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:16 AM

Friday, December 08, 2006

Choice for Children With Autism Opposed by ACLU

From Cybercast News Service:
A legal battle over two new scholarships in Arizona has pitted proponents of school choice for children who have special needs or live in foster homes against opponents, including the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, who claim the programs use vouchers that fund 'private schools with public dollars.'

'Parents should be free to choose the education environment that is best for their child,' said Jessica Geroux of Apache Junction, Ariz., on Thursday, when five families filed papers asking the Arizona Supreme Court to support the Scholarships for Pupils With Disabilities Program and Displaced Pupils Choice Grant Program.

Geroux's six-year-old son, Tyler, has been diagnosed with autism.

'This plan would let us move to another public school district in our area that may run their special education program better or let us seek out schools that specialize in teaching autistic students,' she told Cybercast News Service Friday....
Read it all here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:55 PM

The Stranded Kim Family

Those who have been following the story of the stranded Kim family may be interested in the information in the Joe Duck blog. Don't skip the comments section.

A video shot by a commenter there, Joe Dully, shows where the family is said to have made an unfortunate turn off a main road to a logging road that leads nowhere. Viewing it shows how easily that wrong turn could be made (keep in mind the video was shot during rescue operations, not during the snowstorm the Kims faced).

The way this story has captivated the nation, and its sad ending for the man involved, reminds me of the Floyd Collins story, which was front page news in newspapers coast-to-coast for the two weeks in 1925 Collins lay trapped in a cave.

If only these stories had happy endings.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:00 AM

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pearl Harbor Survivors' 'Final Reunion'

This story about the "final reunion" of the survivors of Pearl Harbor is sad.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:40 AM

Of Course, Maybe the Census Bureau Lied

BizzyBlog has fun helping Neil Cavuto trounce Paul Krugman in a debate over real income. Krugman says it is worse now for the average person and the middle class, as compared to the situation 20 years ago.

Bizzy looked up the stats. Worth a bookmark.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:22 AM

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Media Coverage of Global Warming Climate Change Debated

On the eve of a hearing in the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on "Climate Change and the Media," Newsbusters is having quite a debate on the topic. For instance, a Tuesday afternoon post by Matthew Sheffield on the Inhofe hearings had 173 comments when I read it.

Around 1 AM Wednesday, Brent Baker posted pictures on Newsbusters of Dennis Miller reading the 1975 Newsweek article on global cooling to Jay Leno on Tuesday's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Newsweek, which is owned by the Washington Post Company, has finally found that 1975 article politically-inconvenient enough to repudiate (with plenty of spin in the repudiation, as Sean of the Everything I Know is Wrong blog demonstrates).

I always figured the embarassment over the global cooling articles that appeared in the press about a decade before James Hansen sprang global warming on Congress is the reason global warming theory activists tend to prefer the term "climate change" nowadays.

This way, if they change their minds again, they won't have to print new bumper stickers.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:44 AM

Project 21 Statement on John Bolton

Project 21 released a statement Tuesday on the regrettable resignation of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Meanwhile, Claudia Rosett knows where writers can get what seemingly is an easy writing gig for good money: The U.N.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:01 AM

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Senators Rockefeller and Snowe: Please Name the Infamous 29

West Virginia journalist Don Surber comments on Monday's Wall Street Journal op-ed, "Global Warming Gag Order: Senators to Exxon: Shut up, and pay up," with a memory:
As a West Virginian, I am not surprised by the intemperate tone of the letter. Rockefeller is who he is, an American prince who is intolerant of anyone who dares to have a differing opinion.

At a hearing on health insurance a few years ago, Rockefeller told an executive that there is a special place in hell for insurance executives. I am not an expert on the layout of the underworld, so I will have to take the Democrat's word on how the devil operates.

Senators are often referred to as cardinals. Jay and Snowe obviously recall how the real cardinals won the debate over Copernicus 4 centuries ago - by threatening Galileo.

They intend to win the global warming debate the same way...
We covered the Rockefeller-Snowe letter (pdf) (here, here, here and here).

This is as good a time as any to renew my request to Senators Rockefeller and Snowe: Please name the groups you are referring to in this sentence of your letter: "A study to be released in November by an American scientific group will expose ExxonMobil as the primary funder of no fewer than 29 climate change denial front groups in 2004 alone."

As I said November 12, I don't think there are 29 "climate change denial front groups" (however that is defined) for which ExxonMobil was "the primary funder in 2004."

I ask the Senators to prove me wrong by releasing the names of the groups. Surely, in light of the Senators' letter, the publicity surrounding it, and the likelihood that the Senators made the letter public themselves, this is a reasonable request.

I'd also like to know the name of the curiously-anonymous "American scientific group" that the Senators claimed was going to release the report in November "expos[ing]" the names of the 29 "climate change denial front groups" for which the primary funder in 2004 was ExxonMobil.

After all, it's December now. The report's been out for a while now, right?

Note: An October 27 ABC News article neutrally titled "Senators to Exxon: Stop the Denial: Democrats and Republicans Say Stop Funding Global Warming Doubters," claims the report the Senators were referring to will be/was (ABC confusingly refers to it as "upcoming" and in the past tense in the same paragraph) produced by the Union of Concerned Scientists. However, I can find no such report on the UCS website, nor do Internet news searches reveal press releases or any other mentions of a report fitting the Senators' description. Also, UCS is an advocacy group, not a "scientific group" (here's how their mission is defined in their own words), so Senators Rockefeller and Snowe might have been referring to some other group entirely.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:08 AM

Medicare Prescription Drug Price "Negotiations"

Writing on the American Spectator online, the National Center's David Hogberg questions the wisdom of Speaker-presumptive Nancy Pelosi's stated goal of "permitting Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs."

Says David:
Supposedly [Pelosi's plan] will save on drug costs for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program. Of course, Medicare would not actually "negotiate" prices in the sense of bargaining with sellers. Rather, as the limited drug program in the Part B portion of Medicare shows, Medicare sets the price for drugs by only offering to pay for the average price of the drug on the private market. This sort of "negotiation" will inevitably lead to a host of adverse consequences, such as diminished choice of drugs for Medicare beneficiaries, use of restrictive "formularies," and reduced research and development (R&D) by pharmaceutical companies.
There's more.

Personally, I don't see how anybody regulated by the U.S. government can "negotiate" with it in any reasonable sense of the term. It seems like it would work about the same way husband David and I "negotiate" with our kids over what time they go to bed. We say, "8 o'clock." They say, "night night."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:02 AM

School Admissions Standards Based on Race and Ethnicity are Discriminatory

Project 21 has issued a press release on the arguments before the Supreme Court Monday on the legality of plans that limit the ability of public school students to attend the school of their choice so that schools meet government-mandated race-based admissions guidelines.

Says Project 21's full-time fellow, Deneen Moore, in the release:
School admissions standards based on race and ethnicity are discriminatory. Resentment and anger stemming from government-enforced racial preferences only creates more racism.
Read it all here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:50 AM

Smart Growth Legislation Discriminates Against Less Affluent Homeowners

The Las Vegas Review Journal asks: "...what exactly is smart growth, who's behind it and how does it affect local property owners?"

Reporter Hubble Smith's answer includes quotations from a Capital Research Center report by James Dellinger and the National Center's own Ryan Balis.

Read it all here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:19 AM

Tidbits from Blogs I Read II

Patterico is putting things in perspective. I really liked that post.

In a similarly philosophical vein, Norma writes:
When [a blogger is] grieving -- and I've read some really heavy, heavy blogs of chronic illness, death, job loss, crashing friendships, etc. -- you can almost see the spirits lift on the screen when there is a kind or thoughtful response.
Speaking of grieving, hearts out to Kim Priestap and her husband and their entire extended family. (Photos of the crowds at the viewing shown here.)

In Bizzy Blog's "positivity" department: A teen climbs a drainpipe with one hand and his feet while calling authorities on his cell phone with his spare hand -- and then enters a second floor apartment and saves the lives of a woman and three small children, including an infant, from an apartment fire. What did you do today?

Dream Mom has gift ideas for severely disabled children. Her story is inspiring, and makes you count your blessings.

Have your kids outgrown their warm winter clothes? Send them to Nicki.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:03 AM

Monday, December 04, 2006

DeSmogBlog: A Wrecked Train Under the Big Top, Or Why I'm Not Taking Twenty Bucks from an Anti-Skeptic Attack Site

For more than a week now I have had a #10 envelope perched on my desk lamp. It has a little sticky on it, with "???" written in inch-high red letters. Someone in my office opened my incoming mail and wondered why a Canadian public affairs firm had sent me a $20 contribution to Greenpeace with a cheery but not altogether approving note -- and an apology for using recycled paper.

Because that letter is on my desk because of a post in this blog, and a response in DeSmogBlog, I really ought to respond.

But first, some backstory. As the name implies, DeSmogBlog is a blog -- one that puts me in mind of a train wreck at a circus. You can't help looking, but when you do, you can't decide whether to laugh or feel sorry for the poor sods.

The purpose of DeSmogBlog, as described in the birthday note it posted to itself December 1, is "to challenge those people who try to make climate change a political story - and not a scientific one."

If you therefore suppose that this blog run by a PR firm and funded by a banker to online casinos is challenging those who are lobbying politicians on climate issues before the science is settled, think again. The DeSmogBlog crew favors political action -- it's the political story they don't like. That is, discussing the issue through first. Talking it out. Weighing pros and cons. Letting the public have a say. All that messy democracy stuff.

No, they want us all to creep silently into the non-emissions night. And dark it would be.

Not that they're anti-democratic, you understand. They just figure that if they have a consensus, no one else needs a vote.

A DeSmoggian will tell you "DeSmogBlog is not a science site." But its main page will also tell you: "The science is clear, climate change is happening and humans are to blame."

I read that as: "Trust us on global warming. Don't ask for details."

Visit DeSmogBlog, and a latter-day Sherlock Holmes on the main page, complete with fedora and magnifying glass, will implore you: "Help us fight the PR spin on climate change. Join the growing army of DeSmog Detectives."

If you're ready to help them search for signs of climate change, don't fly to the DeSmog Crime Lab in Vancouver just yet. They're not science bloggers, remember? They're Sherlock Holmeses, looking not for credible evidence that global warming is a serious manmade calamity that human action can rectify, but for evidence that the people who don't necessarily agree with their rather alarmist predictions and/or political prescriptions are bad guys.

DeSmoggians call dissenters "deniers." Lest you miss the reference, let James Hoggan, who runs the PR firm behind DeSmogBlog, explain. "Like Holocaust deniers," he says.

Pithy fellow. Can you tell he's in PR?

The Sherlock Holmes figure drives the point further: To a DeSmoggian, global warming skeptics are Moriarties. Criminal masterminds; veritable Napoleons of crime. Criminals - in every sense except the one that includes a fair trial.

You see, the DeSmoggians are so sure they're right; so self-confident, they can't imagine anyone disagreeing with their point-of-view unless the dissenters have been paid to lie about what they really think.

On one level, you have to admire the DeSmoggian self-confidence. And their nerve. Not everyone could be as sanguine as they appear to be about libel suits.

But don't let me imply that the DeSmogBlog crewmates aren't friendly guys. They appear to be. (Well, maybe not Ross Gelbspan.) I'm reminded of the friendliness of men at a construction site. "Hey honey, nice ass." They sort of greet you and slam you at the same time, and leave you wondering what you ever did to them.

The answer is that you didn't do anything. You're just different.

* * *

But let's get back to the twenty bucks. The point of this post was to explain what I am going to do with the $20 check made out to Greenpeace from the PR firm of Richard Littlemore & Associates; said check being DeSmoggian Richard Littlemore's supposed payment to me for use of a picture I took of my husband that appeared on DeSmogBlog without my permission. Despite the fact that a photo of my husband -- stud that he is -- would be likely to drive traffic to DeSmogBlog, in the generous spirit that characterizes much of the oh-so-misunderstood climate denialist (realist) community I had offered to allow one-time use of the pic of husband David for a buck. I had promised to donate the buck to charity.

R. Littlemore, for that is how he signed his letter (may I call you "R"?), responded by mailing me a $20 donation to a political organization.

What to do? Donating the funds is off the table; I don't have the time or resources to fully investigate those pesky rumors connecting Greenpeace with boarding boats. Yet tossing the check in the trash is a non-starter; doing so might lead to its incineration, and create soot. Might that warm the planet? The science is still out. Still, I wouldn't want to distress R.

So I've decided to keep the check. It could be worth more than $20 someday - as proof of the contrary, should someone bet me that's its not possible for DeSmoggian to address correspondence to a skeptic without being nasty.

This check and letter may be the only proof of that contention in existence.

And I'll let DeSmogBlog have one-time use of the picture of husband David for free.

But, DeSmoggians, please: Next time you guys want to use a pic, ask first. Copyright laws, like libel laws, exist for a reason.

But if you're nice about it, we'll probably say "yes."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:06 AM

Friday, December 01, 2006

Segregating Children From Men

I think Wendy McElroy makes good points, but I can't help wondering about something she doesn't address: Why would any parent let a nine-year-old child fly alone?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:42 PM

Kyoto Costs Examined, Succinctly

Americans on opposite sides of the issue address the question of projected costs of ratifying the Kyoto Treaty:
Union of Concerned Scientists, 1998:
Recently [a Republican Congressman] claimed that complying with the Kyoto Protocol would increase the prices of consumer goods by more than 50 percent and the price of gasoline by 70 cents a gallon. Others have argued that the country would lose millions of jobs. Such alarmist economic assertions rely on faulty analysis...
National Center for Public Policy Research, 2000:
The Kyoto Protocol... would require the United States to make drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2010 to combat the alleged threat of man-made global warming. If ratified by the U.S. Senate, the treaty would inflict major harm on the economy and impose great costs on low-income families. ...Kyoto would increase the price of gasoline by up to 66 cents per gallon, raise the average electric utility bill by 86 percent and hike the cost of heating fuel oil by 76 percent. Each U.S. household would have to spend an additional $1,740 per year on energy.
A bulletin from post-Kyoto Europe may shed light on who which group was more correct:
BBC, 2006:
Electricity prices could double in Europe if power firms are to meet emissions reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol, says a report.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:08 PM

BBC Reports on UN "Peacekeeper" Rapes

An excerpt:
Soldiers serving with the UN have immunity from local laws and it's up to their home countries to discipline them. More often than not, they're simply repatriated and the UN has little information about what, if anything, happens to them then."The UN has to be absolutely vigilant that those troops that are conducting these practices are dismissed," says Anna Jefferys of Save The Children. "It has to ensure that those member states that are deploying these troops are somehow shamed within the UN system so that the stigma becomes too big to do it again."

The UN is holding a conference in New York on Monday 4 December, at which officials will hear from victims, NGO workers and researchers in the field.

The assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, Jane Holl Lute, says they need find ways to control the exploitation and she admits that the organisation has a very serious problem.

"My operating presumption that this is either an ongoing or potential problem in every single one of our missions," she says.

"All of our missions are in areas that are economically deprived, where societies have been torn by conflict and war, where habits like prostitution of very young children is seen as a matter of course.

"We need to bring every resource we can to bear to make that not the case when a peacekeeping mission is in place."

Ms Lute said the UN's inability to impose punishments was a shortcoming in the system and she admitted that the organisation does not have a system of justice that everyone would recognise as fair and equitable...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:57 PM

Inconvenient Truth/Laurie David/Al Gore/Keith Olbermann/Washington Post Team Losing to a Bunch of Teachers?

The Inconvenient Truth/Laurie David/Al Gore/Keith Olbermann/Washington Post v. National Science Teachers Association kerfluffle continues, with the Inconvenient Truth/Laurie David/Al Gore/Keith Olbermann/Washington Post team losing ground fast.

Watch for the drive by media to lose interest in this story any minute now.

Here's the latest (earlier posts in this series are here and here):

According to Science magazine, Laurie David now admits the National Science Teachers Association offered the Gore Gang the opportunity to mail the DVD to NSTA members. What David is mad about is 1) the NSTA didn't offer to provide a letter endorsing the movie (NTSA, according to Science, says it has had a policy since 2001 "prohibiting endorsements of any product or message by an outside organization"), and 2) the NSTA didn't offer to pay the costs for mailing 50,000 DVDs (somewhat understandably, in my view, since it wasn't their idea to mail it in the first place) of David's and Gore's movie.

As Science puts it:
David says NSTA's imprimatur was essential and that buying a mailing list is a nonstarter. 'You don't want to send out a cold letter, and it costs a lot of money,' she says. 'There are a thousand reasons why that wouldn't work.'
The Science article also says:
In a sharply worded op-ed in the 26 November Washington Post, David accused NSTA of rejecting her offer of 50,000 DVDs so as not to offend ExxonMobil, which has given NSTA $6 million over the past decade to help it promote science education. Although the money has paid for such motherhood-and-apple-pie reform efforts as creating a network of science contacts at schools around the country, David told Science that she finds it "shocking" that NSTA would have ties to a company "that has spent millions misinforming the public about global warming."

Not surprisingly, NSTA sees things differently. "We don't do mass distributions for anybody; we don't send our members material that they haven't asked for," says NSTA's executive director, Gerald Wheeler. As for the association's corporate ties, Wheeler freely acknowledges that 16% of NSTA's $23 million a year budget comes from businesses, including 3.7% from the oil and gas industry. "We're working hard to get corporate America engaged in reforming STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] education," he says. "And in no case has anybody asked us to say anything [on their behalf], which we would never agree to do, anyway."

Wheeler says NSTA has no desire to suppress information about global warming. Just last month, for example, NSTA's newsletter for middle school teachers ran a five-page article on the topic and mentioned Gore's movie in the first paragraph. He says NSTA has also offered to post a link to the movie on its Web site and to announce the availability of the DVD in a weekly e-mail letter and a monthly publication. In addition, David could put the DVD directly in teachers' hands by buying NSTA's mailing list, at $130 per 1000 names.
Maybe it's just me, but there are a lot of facts here that don't seem to have made it into the Washington Post's or MSNBC's Countdown coverage.

If the Science magazine article is correct -- unlike the Post and MSNBC, it at least covered both sides -- what we have here is a Hollywood movie producer who is angry because an independent educational organization that doesn't endorse movies declined to make an exception to a five-year-old "no endorsements" policy and endorse hers, and, furthermore, declined to spend what I estimate would have been at the very least $100,000 of its own money mailing the producer's movie to its membership with said endorsement enclosed. When the producer did not get her way, she cried to the Washington Post, which sympathized, and permitted her to vent her frustration, somewhat creatively, on its op-ed pages. And then someone at MSNBC read the op-ed, and Keith Olbermann decided to dumb it down.

Meanwhile, ever competitive, Al Gore has been off spreading misinformation of his own on Wednesday's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno":
Well, one of the producers, Laurie David, said to the science teachers association, 'we've got all these DVDs.' and they declined, and the word that came back was that their corporate board of advisors had some members that objected to it. And you'll have to ask them about it, but ExxonMobil is on their board.
Check out this list of the NSTA board of directors. See anyone from ExxonMobil on it? Me, neither.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:42 AM

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