Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Critics of Global Warming Agenda are Motivated by a Love of Freedom, Borelli Says

From David Almasi:
Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli recently wrote a New Visions Commentary on global warming politics that has been re-posted all over the Internet, including, and ChronWatch, to name just a few.

Here is a sample of Deneen's commentary:
Despite the numerous flaws and ambiguities in trying to link human behavior and global warming, activists and their allies in government use emotion and alarmism to make their case. They are seeking to cut off any reasonable debate and silence their critics by saying these people are motivated by corporate and personal greed and don't care about pollution. That, however, is hardly the case.

Critics of the global warming agenda are motivated instead by a love of freedom and civil liberties. They want a discussion based on logic and facts that will address any problems without depriving us of liberty and personal choice. They do not want to sacrifice our way of life based on fears of an unproven theory.
New Vision Commentary op-eds by Deneen and other Project 21 members are available online at the National Center for Public Policy Research website here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:41 PM

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Don't Let Al Sharpton Hold English Hostage

National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi says Project 21's Mychal Massie is right to take on Al Sharpton in the recent Tiger Woods - Golf Channel controversy. Says David:
When Golf Channel commentator Kelly Tilghman used the term "lynch" as part of a facetious strategy for young pro golfers to get an advantage on her friend, Tiger Woods, the poor choice of words went largely overlooked. After her employer took action and suspended her, Al Sharpton found out. He wants her fired.

Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie, a Golf Channel fan, knew about the controversy from the beginning and points out in a recent New Visions Commentary that Sharpton is trying to blow the situation out of proportion for his own benefit. After all, Tiger Woods dismissed any real controversy before Sharpton even hit the scene.

Among other papers, the Philadelphia Inquirer has published Mychal's commentary.

An excerpt:
...I probably watch an average of ten hours a week of the Golf Channel (more when there is an interesting tournament). I am well-acquainted with Tilghman's work, and I've never heard her speak an ill word about Woods. In fact, I distinctly remember her lavishly praising him and his family just last month. This indicates to me that Sharpton's rant only seeks to create conflict where none exists.

Tilghman's words were offensive only to those who trade on race-mongering and/or capitalize on creating strife for personal gain. The Golf Channel viewers owe it to themselves to stand with Tilghman or risk having the network destroyed by someone who, until last week, might not have even known such a channel exists.

The English lexicon should not be held hostage by self-serving individuals who trade on race and immiseration. We should be able to speak freely, within reason, without fear of harsh consequences for utilizing innocuous and jocund adjectives that are in no way intended to cause harm or offense.

It is time for America, all the young golfers gunning for Tiger and Golf Channel viewers to "lynch" those who would subject our nation to unreasonable and fallacious accusations of malicious intent. Such should be "hung" by their thumbs in the town square for provoking racial discord where none exists and none was intended.
New Vision Commentary op-eds by Mychal and other Project 21 members are available online at the National Center for Public Policy Research website here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:29 PM

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pardon Ramos and Compean, Says Project 21 Chairman

Advocates of pardons for incarcerated border agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean have an ally in Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie, who called on President Bush to pardon Ramos and Compean in an op-ed published by the Washington Times:
Justice for two

by Mychal Massie

President Bush has disappointed his staunchest supporters no few times during his presidency, but nothing — not even his failed attempt to force a flawed immigration bill upon the nation — has been more disappointing than his refusal to pardon or commute the sentences of incarcerated border agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean.

On Dec. 11, 29 convicted criminals received presidential pardons. They included persons convicted of tax evasion and bank fraud, and drug smugglers and dealers and a moonshiner. However, while Mr. Bush was willing to extend the ultimate gift of the season to corrupt criminal elements, he stubbornly refuses to show the same forgiveness to Ramos and Compean. Unquestionably criminal elements are now free to enjoy Christmas with their families, while the two border agents languish in prison, separated from theirs.

Ramos and Compean are serving 11 and 12 years, respectively, after being convicted of assault, obstruction of justice and civil rights violations related to the wounding of Mexican drug-smuggler Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila. On Feb. 17, 2005, the agents chased Mr. Aldrete-Davila near the U.S.-Mexican border outside of El Paso, Texas, after Mr. Aldrete-Davila abandoned a van containing 743 pounds of marijuana with an estimated value of more than $1 million.

As the border agents attempted to apprehend Mr. Aldrete-Davila, he wrestled with Compean, ultimately escaping. As he fled, Mr. Aldrete-Davila produced and pointed an object that Ramos thought was a gun. Ramos fired at the fleeing Mr. Aldrete-Davila, but thought he had missed. In reality, Mr. Aldrete-Davila had been wounded in the buttocks, yet still managed to escape across the Rio Grande, where be met an accomplice who then drove him into Mexico.

Prosecutors claimed the agents had violated Border Patrol policy when they pursued Mr. Aldrete-Davila without supervisor approval, that Compean moved shell casings, and that both did not properly report the shots fired. Testifying against Ramos and Compean, under the veil of immunity from prosecution for his actions on the night in question, was none other than Mr. Aldrete-Davila himself.

T.J. Bonner of the National Border Patrol Council noted in Senate testimony that jurors were not told of Mr. Aldrete-Davila's continued drug trafficking after he was granted immunity (something for which he has since been indicted), nor that an agent who testified against Ramos and Compean is a life-long friend of Mr. Aldrete-Davila (a clear violation of agency policy). Mr. Bonner also testified that the shooting was justified by both Department of Justice and Border Patrol policies — and that a medical examination of Mr. Aldrete-Davila had supported the agents' description of events. Still, Ramos and Compean went to jail.

From the beginning of the agents' prosecution there has been a bitter public outcry, and wide-ranging, bipartisan congressional support for the border agents — all of which has fallen on deaf White House ears.

It can be argued that the agents may have dispensed their duties in a way that on some level inadvertently abrogated the strict letter of their proper protocol. It cannot be argued that they are being punished proportionately for the offense.

Mr. Bush has made a habit of letting his penchant for brash bravado cause himself and his party embarrassment. He did it standing on the deck of the USS Lincoln when he declared "mission accomplished." He did it when he tired to convince his base and the nation that Harriet Miers was the quintessential best pick as the nominee to be a Supreme Court justice — leaving us to ask in retrospect: "if said were true, what did that make replacement nominee Samuel Alito?" He did it when he stood before a global media in Sofia, Bulgaria, and boasted, "I'll see you at the bill signing," in reference to the flawed immigration bill that subsequently suffered a much-deserved ignominious defeat. Now he purposes to make an even more egregious error in judgment by ignoring the pleas for forgiveness for two of the agents responsible for securing our borders. This is something one could be forgiven for assuming he has little real interest in doing.

Mr. Bush is no longer owner of a baseball team. The futures of the now-tortured and oft-threatened lives of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean are not subject to contract negotiations. They cannot simply sell their services to the highest bidder. However, as president of the United States, Mr. Bush can offer them new contracts — contracts that at the very least show them the same mercy and level of forgiveness the president has seen fit to bestow upon those who, statistics show, are very likely to return to lives of crime. Yet the chances of Ramos and Compean being anything but committed assets to their communities and country are remote.

In the spirit of Christmastime, Mr. Bush should immediately pardon Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, or at the very least, commute their sentences. His failure to do so can only be viewed as a flagrant abrogation of support for the superior and often dangerous work Americans in uniform do throughout the world to protect our freedoms.

Tell us again, Mr. President, exactly how much you value those who are charged with protecting us? Better still, as you gather with your family, and the drug smugglers you pardoned gather with theirs this Christmas, tell the families of Ramos and Compean.
Apologies for not posting this earlier. It ran in the Times on December 28.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:49 PM

Tax Reduction, Not Tax Redistribution, Spurs Economic Activity

The National Center for Public Policy Research's David Ridenour signed on today to a coalition letter on the so-called "stimulous plan" that was organized by the National Taxpayers Union:
January 28, 2008

An Open Letter to the United States Congress: Don't Fall for "Stimulus" Fairy Tales!

Dear Member of Congress:

On behalf of the millions of members of our respective organizations, we write to urge caution regarding the so-called "economic stimulus" plan that may soon be before you. As more details emerge about this initiative, it is becoming clearer that it would favor wealth redistribution over true economic expansion.

The recently announced plan has some questionable elements, chief among them a $100 billion income tax rebate scheme that will distribute checks of up to $600 for individuals making less than $75,000 and $1,200 for couples making less than $150,000. Even those who had no income tax burden will be eligible for checks worth $300, provided they earned more than $3,000 in 2007. These tax rebates don't create any new wealth, they simply redistribute resources that the Treasury extracted from others.

In addition, the plan will increase the limits for loans purchased or insured by the Federal Housing Administration as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It would increase those loan limits to $725,000 and $625,000, respectively. This expansion of federally sponsored mortgage debt is but a continuation of risky lending practices, backed implicitly by the American taxpayer.

The plan laudably includes roughly $50 billion in tax incentives for business. But while enhanced expensing and carryback provisions constitute worthy tax relief for businesses, the fact that the provisions only apply this year simply means that many businesses will shift their future investments up to 2008, potentially leading to a slowdown of investments in 2009. Consistent and stable business expansion requires long-term policies, not temporary changes.

Despite claims by its proponents, this plan will not lead to the kind of economic stimulus that has been advertised. Congress has no mechanism for "creating" additional wealth in America over the short term, as 1970s experiments in tax rebates and spending increases proved. This plan amounts to taking a bucket of water from the deep end of the pool and pouring it in the shallow end; the result yields neither new water nor a larger pool.

Furthermore, the focus on consumer spending is ultimately misguided. To quote economist Don Boudreaux, "Spending power is not so much the fuel for economic growth as it is its reward. [T]he key to economic growth is investment that raises worker productivity." If Congress seeks true stimulus that is economically sound, it ought to reduce tax rates and avoid bailing out the housing market. Making the lower capital gains tax rate permanent and reducing inordinately high corporate taxes would have a much more stimulative effect than any rearrangement of existing tax revenue.


Duane Parde
National Taxpayers Union

Jim Martin
60 Plus Association

Tim Phillips
Americans for Prosperity

Amy Ridenour
Vice Chairman
Americans for the Preservation of Liberty

Timothy Wise
Arlington County Taxpayers Association (VA)

Jeffrey Mazzella
Center for Individual Freedom

Doug Bandow
Vice President for Policy
Citizen Outreach

Barbara Anderson
Executive Director
Citizens for Limited Taxation

Clyde Wayne Crews Jr.
Vice President for Policy
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Thomas Schatz
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Bob Williams
Evergreen Freedom Foundation

Tom McClusky
Vice President of Government Affairs
Family Research Council

Richard O. Rowland
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

Jon Coupal
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

John Tillman
Illinois Policy Institute

Karl Peterjohn Executive Director
Kansas Taxpayers Network

Richard Falknor
Maryland Center-Right Coalition

David Ridenour
Vice President
National Center for Public Policy Research

Lew Uhler
National Tax Limitation Committee

Doug Kagan
Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom

Paul J. Gessing
Rio Grande Foundation

Phil Krinkie
Taxpayers League of Minnesota

Rick Durham
Tennessee Tax Revolt

*Organizations listed for identification purposes only.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:00 PM

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Are the Airlines Anti-Family?

Planning a trip, husband David Ridenour finds that airlines aren't exactly family-friendly...
You ever wonder why airlines are about as popular as used car dealers these days? Perhaps it's due, in part, to their anti-family policies.

Case in point: I learned this afternoon that when you fly with your family on Southwest Airlines, you can't use one frequent flyer number for everyone to consolidate your miles, but must establish a frequent flyer program for each family member. It doesn't matter that the same person is paying for all the flights nor that the children are very young.

As a Southwest agent helpfully noted, "It's a frequent flyer program -- you have to fly frequently."

That customer service training really paid off, didn't it?

Well, the Southwest agent wasn't exactly correct, anyway.

You see, since you can give away your "Rapid Rewards" points to any family member, the only thing Southwest achieves through this rule is giving already busy parents one more thing to do.

I take that back, it does do at least one more thing...

It adds to Southwest's costs (stockholders are gonna love that). Do they really think a seven year-old is going to fly more so he can take advantage of special Rapid Rewards promotions?

Of course, its not just Southwest that has anti-family policies.

Almost all the airlines now charge an "excess weight" charge -- usually $25-$50 -- for any bag weighing over 50 lbs.

The airlines argue that this policy is necessary to reduce excess fuel costs caused by overloaded baggage compartments. But if if this was really the case, wouldn't they impose an overall weight limit rather than a per piece limit?

Under the current policy, a businessman with two bags weighing 49 pounds each -- 98 pounds total -- is charged nothing, while a parent with a bag weighing 70 pounds -- or as little as 51 pounds -- is charged up to $50.

There's a practical reason why parents, especially those with small children or children with special needs, might have heavier luggage. They might try to consolidate everything into one bag to have a hand free for children.

These parents are faced with a choice: Pay the extra $50 or take the risk their child won't be lost or abducted in a busy airport.

Cost savings? In this litigious country, it's only a matter of time before a distraught parent sues an airline.

Stockholders are gonna love that, too.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:22 PM

Monday, January 21, 2008

A New Environmentalist Manifesto

What might an effective environmental movement be like?

WILLisms writes what could, and should, be the philosophical basis of a new environmentalist manifesto:
I tend to think of myself as an environmentalist, but completely removed from today's movement. I reject the Marxism that pervades the modern environmental movement. On the contrary, the way we can best improve our environment is to make everyone rich enough to afford it (something that is already happening); once enough people have enough dough, they move into the next phase of human actualization. Sure, we still have to cross a few priorities off the top of the ole "to do" list, but once a critical mass of people can afford a cleaner environment, they'll go ahead and buy it.

The answer to future environmental problems will be found in the minds and efforts of entrepreneurs, who can only succeed if there are plenty of yuppies wealthy enough to afford to become early adopters for various green ideas. Sometimes I wonder how much healthier our environment would be if we had seen a GDP growth rate of just 1 or 2% higher each year, over the course of the 20th century. The U.S. could easily have a 30 or 40 trillion dollar-per-year economy, instead of a 14 trillion dollar one. Then I start thinking of how 1 or 2% each year over the next century could mean the difference of hundreds of trillions of dollars of wealth, yet how we're not always maximizing our pro-growth policies. Those hundreds of trillions in potentially-lost dollars are precisely what could produce the brilliant breakthroughs that will improve our planet.

So, to me, when I see enviro-luddites burning down homes and torching SUVs, when I see so many people transfixed on punitively taxing carbon and subsidizing allegedly better alternatives, when I see anti-intellectual hysteria over a degree Fahrenheit of global warming over a century's time, and when I see all sorts of anti-business taxes and regulations masquerading as necessary for the environment, I see a lot of negative unintended consequences. I see people standing in the way of progress. I tend to view today's collection of largest environmental interest groups, replete with anti-human population control worldview and socialist overtones, as-- at best-- neutral for the environment in the short term and terrible for the environment over the very long term.
There's a lost more to Will's post, including a comparison of air pollution levels between 1980 and 2006, but I just had to quote the above before suggesting you go here to read the rest.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:24 AM

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wolf-Protecting Oil Drilling Opponent Rep. George Miller Stands Squarely on Both Sides of the Caribou-Protection Issue

From Roll Call, a story about a generous offer by Alaska Rep. Don Young to the very liberal Rep. George Miller:
Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) wants California Democrat George Miller’s district to go to the wolves.

Young sent a 'Dear Colleague' missive Tuesday attacking Miller and the group Defenders of Wildlife for their efforts to make it illegal to shoot wildlife from aircraft, a common practice in Alaska to help control the wolf population. Young, who nicknamed Miller’s bill the ‘Wolves are Cute Act,’ told colleagues the sad tale of a constituent’s 10-year-old retriever, Buddy, who was killed by wolves.

Young proposed a solution that he thinks should satisfy everyone: Instead of passing legislation, just use the money the Defenders of Wildlife raised to herd Alaska’s wolves and transport them to Miller’s district. 'This proposal is a win-win for everyone, and I would suggest my colleagues present it to Defenders of Wildlife representatives roaming the Capitol this week,' Young wrote.

So far, the Alaska Republican has gotten support from many Western states, according to his spokesman Steve Hansen...
I bet he has. People who live with the possibility of encountering potentially lethal wild animals on their own land tend to have a more passionate interest in predator control programs than do people in urban and suburban neighborhoods.

Nevertheless, we cannot discount the passion of environmentalist do-gooders, who always side with animals, even against other animals. Their allies don't delude themselves entirely, however: When press hound Rep. Miller had a press conference touting his bill (H.R. 3663, the Protect America’s Wildlife Act, or PAW Act -- get it?) to outlaw airborne hunting, he invited an Arctic Grey Wolf -- and then had his staff issue a warning to everyone present that food was not allowed near the press conference.

Perhaps this nod to the wolf's lethal nature is why Miller's bill doesn't outlaw poisoning wolves, or shooting them out the window of one's truck. Or maybe he'll get to that later. The environmentalists may prefer to raise money fighting wolf poisoning some other time.

Miller ludicrously claims shooting a wolf from the air is "unfair"; by that standard, shooting them at all should be banned. What wolf ever shot a human?

But then we have to remember that the point of the predator control program is not to save humans, but moose and caribou, animals so near and dear to the hearts of environmentalists that they've repeatedly managed to stop drilling in the oil-rich Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, lest a caribou be mildly discomfited. (Ignore for a moment that caribou populations rose after oil drilling in Alaska's Prudhoe Bay.)

So there we have the priorities of liberal Rep. George Miller.

When American needs energy independence, and Alaska natives need jobs, Rep. George Miller sides against them and with the caribou. But let an environmental organization decide that the state of Alaska shouldn't use airplanes to kill under 200 wolves a year to protect caribou, caribou health suddenly isn't so important anymore.

Indeed, the Arctic Grey Wolf present at Miller's press conference is fed an average of five pounds of meat every day.

Including caribou.

Bonus: You can read more of Rep. George Miller's views on ANWR in this newsletter (PDF) by the ardently-anti drilling Alaska Wilderness League, which lobbied Congress against ANWR drilling in 2006. The group's newsletter thanks the following corporations for helping to make its lobbying work possible: Bank of America, Monsanto, PG&E, Microsoft, American Express (via its foundation, which is an interesting, as foundations rarely fund overt lobbying) and Ameriprise.

Double bonus: Find what the National Center for Public Policy Research has published concerning ANWR and caribou here.

Issue background: For the last five years Alaska has run a predator control program to increase moose and caribou populations and to protect other animals. It is targeted mostly at wolves, but also at grizzly and black bears. Under 700 (671 is the latest number I've seen) wolves have been killed in this program.

Predator control programs are not new to Alaska. They existed among Alaskan Native Americans before European contact. The territory of Alaska paid bounties for predator killing as early as 1915; the federal government, by the 1920s. Predator control by aircraft has been official policy off-and-on during that time.

For more information on the state's perspective, I recommend these papers by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Division of Wildlife Conservation. For more on Rep. Miller's views, go to one of his press conferences -- but don't take a snack with you.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:43 AM

Friday, January 18, 2008

Ten Myths About Nuclear Power

Rob Johnston, writing at Spiked, takes apart ten myths popularized by British environmentalists against nuclear power.

As many if not all of these myths are promoted here in the U.S., I thought I'd reprint them here, but you have to go to Spiked to see Johnson's case for why they shouldn't be believed.
1) Uranium is running out
2) Nuclear is not a low-carbon option
3) Nuclear power is expensive
4) Reactors produce too much waste
5) Decommissioning is too expensive
6) Building reactors takes too long
7) Leukemia rates are higher near reactors
8) Reactors lead to weapons proliferation
9) Wind and wave power are more sustainable
10) Reactors are a terrorist target
(Speaking of nuclear reactors being a terrorist target, the National Center for Public Policy Research published a study of eight different terrorist-attack-on-nuclear-power-plant scenarios in 2001 by nuclear physicists Gerald E. Marsh and George S. Stanford. The paper, "Terrorism and Nuclear Power: What are the Risks?" can be read online here.)

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:30 AM

Corporate CEO or Environmental Advocate?

If you are one of the tens of millions of Americans who own stock, and maybe aren't too thrilled with what's been going on on Wall Street lately, you'll want to read National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Fellow Tom Borelli's column naming the five worst CEOs of 2007.

The five worst CEOs share a common trait, in Tom's view: a desire to place the desires of the liberal corporate social responsibility movement over the financial interests of stockholders.

A case in point: GE CEO Jeff Immelt, who allies his company with left-wing advocacy groups on environmental policies and promotes the adoption of new new regulations intended to influence the temperature of the planet. Says Tom:
Immelt’s global warming strategy is causing a series of unintended consequences. For example,the incandescent light bulb – a GE product and invention of its founder Thomas Edison – will be phased out by federal law. Over the past year, GE lobbyists had to fight hard to defeat outright bans of incandescent bulbs and buy time to restructure its lighting business that currently relies more on traditional bulbs.

GE’s coal business is also feeling the heat from concerns over global warming. While it has invested heavily in Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC), a technology that captures carbon dioxide from coal-fired electricity plants, environmentalists have another plan – just ban the use of coal.

This year, environmental activists have been successful in blocking the construction of a number of coal-fired power plants including 8 of 11 plants in Texas. The termination of the Texas power plants resulted in the cancellation of orders for GE’s steam turbines worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Immelt and the other four CEOs named by Tom should reconsider their career paths by resigning their current positions and taking jobs with environmental organizations. True, the pay is less (though not as bad as some might think, and anyway, these guys should be able to live quite comfortably on their savings), but the little old ladies who rely on these companies' stocks for their retirement accounts would appreciate the gesture.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:17 AM

Thursday, January 17, 2008

End of Hiatus

Because of the need to attend to one thing and another that needed my most precious resource - time - posting over the last month has been negligible. I apologize for this, and, as always, thank this blog's readers for stopping by.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:59 PM

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