masthead-highres

Thursday, June 26, 2008

In Kennedy v. Louisiana, Court Deaf to Child Welfare and State Sovereignty

Research Associate Reece Epstein takes a critical look at the Supreme Court's decision in Kennedy v. Louisiana:
On May 2, 1998, Patrick Kennedy raped his eight-year-old daughter. Brutally.

The medical examiner discovered:
A laceration to the left wall of the vagina had separated her cervix from the back of her vagina, causing her rectum to protrude into the vaginal structure. The injuries required immediate surgery.
Kennedy was arrested and later found guilty by a jury of his peers of "aggravated rape of a child." It was "unanimously determined that [he] should be sentenced to death" in accordance with Louisiana State law.

But today, in its ruling in the case of Kennedy v. Louisiana, the U.S. Supreme Court held:
The Eighth Amendment bars Louisiana from imposing the death penalty for the rape of a child where the crime did not result, and was not intended to result, in the child's death.
In dissent, Justice Alito noted:
This is so, according to the Court, no matter how young the child, no matter how many times the child is raped, no matter how many children the perpetrator rapes, no matter how sadistic the crime, no matter how much physical or psychological trauma is inflicted, and no matter how heinous the perpetrator's prior criminal record may be.


The majority decision, written by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, focused on a supposed "national consensus" against capital punishment as a penalty for rape. Justice Alito, however, noted the majority ignored that "in just the past few years... five States have enacted targeted capital child rape laws." Those laws are a reaction to a stunning nationwide rise in child abuse:
From 1976 to 1986, the number of reported cases of child sexual abuse grew from 6,000 to 120,000... By 1991, the number of cases totaled 432,000. In 1995, child protection services agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims... Nearly 30 percent of those child victims were between the age of four and seven.
Most important, the majority argued that the death penalty is not appropriate in the case of child rape:
in determining whether the death penalty is excessive, there is a distinction between intentional first-degree murder on the one hand and nonhomicide crimes against individual persons, even including child rape, on the other.
As an aside, Justice Kennedy also noted:
Our concern here is limited to crimes against individual persons. We do not address, for example, crimes defining and punishing treason, espionage, terrorism, and drug kingpin activity, which are offensives against the State.
When used in cases of offense against the State, the death penalty serves to reinforce that the apparatus of government is more than a mere collection of laws and politicians. Rather, it is the vanguard of our freedom and rights, and the hand of justice.

But if we hold the State sacrosanct and crimes against it as particularly heinous, then we ought to afford the same esteem to its citizens and to children especially. Accordingly, Louisiana's law mandating the death penalty as a punishment for child rape was just. It reinforced the notion of right and wrong, and recognized the dignity of both criminal and victim; the former by holding him ultimately responsible for his actions, and the latter by the same justice.

In Kennedy v. Louisiana, a majority of the Court showed itself to be deaf to America's alarm at a sharp rise in child abuse, and disrespected the sovereignty of the States by deciding to suspend their power to determine how injustice ought to be remedied.
To contact author Reece Epstein directly, write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:47 PM

Horace Cooper on Ruling Against the D.C. Gun Ban - Listen Live

From David Almasi:
Project 21 member Horace Cooper, a former constitutional law professor at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, will discuss the U.S. Supreme Court's Thursday ruling overturning the Washington, D.C. ban on handgun ownership live with Scott Sloan on WLW in Cincinnati on Friday, June 27 at 10:00 am eastern.

You can listen live over the Internet.

To listen, click here and look for the listen live tab at the top left of the page under the station logo.
To contact author David Almasi directly,
write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:28 PM

Court Continues Welcome Trend of Reigning in Excessive Punitive Awards

From Research Associate Justin Danhof comes this look at the decision in Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, handed down June 25:
In 1989, the Exxon Valdez supertanker grounded on a reef off Alaska's coast, spilling millions of gallons of oil. Since that time, Exxon has spent $2.1 billion in clean-up efforts, $900 million to settle a civil lawsuit and $303 million in voluntary payments to private parties.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in the case of Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, that that is enough... almost.

The Supreme Court did rule that punitive damages are allowed under maritime law. In a 5-3 decision, however, the majority directed the lower court to reduce the punitive award from $2.5 billion to no more than $507.5 million.

The Court took a commonsense approach by aligning punitive damages with compensatory damages. Associate Justice David Souter, writing for the majority, rejected a hard cap for punitive damages and instead affixed the maximum punitive award to the compensatory award: a one-to-one ratio. Although these studies were not dispositive, the Court cited empirical studies showing that a one-to-one ratio is consistent with America's average punitive award.

The decision was made under maritime common law, not the due process clause under which most punitive challenges are brought. Justice Souter explained:
[t]oday's enquiry differs from due process review because the case arises under federal maritime jurisdiction, and we are reviewing a jury award for conformity with maritime law rather than the outer limit allowed by due process.
Although the decision did not set direct precedent for future constitutional claims, it offered guidance to lower courts and was instructive of the Court's position towards punitive awards generally.

The Court was mindful that punitive awards are often criticized for their unpredictability. This unpredictability runs counter to a main goal of punitive awards: to provide an example. The Court explained that,
...a penalty should be reasonably predictable in its severity so that even Justice Holmes's 'bad man' can look ahead with some ability to know what the stakes are when choosing one course of action or another.
This decision goes a long way towards achieving this goal.

The Court's decision continues a welcome trend of the court reigning in excessive punitive awards. In State Farm v. Campbell (2003), the Court held that a single-digit maximum (i.e., no greater than a nine-to-one punitive to compensatory ratio) is appropriate in all but the most exceptional cases. Indeed, the Exxon decision follows State Farm's guidance which suggested that,
[w]hen compensatory damages are substantial, then a lesser ratio, perhaps only equal to compensatory damages, can reach the outermost limit of the due process guarantee.
Justice Souter's majority opinion was joined by Justices Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas and Chief Justice Roberts. Justices Breyer, Ginsberg and Stevens dissented, arguing that the Court went too far in limiting punitive awards. Justice Alito, a holder of Exxon stock, took no part in the decision.

Excessive punitive awards are a scourge on the business community; reducing innovation, investment and economic growth. Today's decision sends an appropriate message that companies will be held accountable for their mistakes, but not bankrupt by untenable punitive award figures.

To contact author Justin Danhof directly,
write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:14 PM

Deneen Borelli on the Supreme Court's Ruling Against the D.C. Gun Ban - Listen Live (Three Opportunities)

From David Almasi:
Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli will discuss today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the Washington, D.C. ban on handgun ownership live this afternoon with Vicki McKenna on WIBA-Madison at 4:35 pm eastern [see note below], with Don Kroah on WAVA-Washington at 5:30 pm eastern and with Jeff Whitaker on WOND-Atlantic City at 6:15 eastern.

You can listen to them live over the Internet.

To listen to Deneen with Vicki McKenna, click here and look for the listen live tab to the right of the station logo at the top of the page.

To listen to Deneen with Don Kroah, click here and look for the listen live tab at the top of the page at the center [see note below].

To listen to Deneen with Jeff Whitaker, click here and look for the listen live option at the top left of the page.
To contact author David Almasi directly,
write him at [email protected]


Addendum: The interview with Vicki McKenna on WIBA-Madison has been changed to Friday, June 27 at 4:35 pm eastern.

Addendum II: The Don Kroah show has an audio archive that can be found here. Deneen's interview will be in the audio file for hour 1 of the June 26, 2008 broadcast. The Vicki McKenna Show's audio archives can be found here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:00 PM

Black Group on Gun Decision: A Great Day for Law-Abiding Citizens

The Project 21 black conservative leadership group  comments on the Supreme Court's gun rights decision:
District of Columbia v. Heller Supreme Court Second Amendment Decision Hailed by Black Activists

For Release: June 24, 2008
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected]


Today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing the Constitution's individual right to own firearms and overturning the ban on most gun ownership in the nation's capital in the first major Second Amendment case in almost 70 years is being hailed by black activists of the Project 21 leadership network.
Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli says the decision supporting an individual right to use firearms is a loud and clear declaration that the government cannot pick and choose what constitutional protections are honored and enforced.

"This is a great day for law-abiding citizens of the nation's capital who have unjustly been denied their full right to protect themselves and families for over 30 years," said Borelli. "The Second Amendment guarantees the individual right of citizens to arm themselves for self-defense and not become easy prey. Perhaps the government should find a better way to keep illegal guns away from criminals and not law-abiding citizens."

The case of District of Columbia v. Heller is an appeal of the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in Parker v. District of Columbia. In Parker v. District of Columbia, the DC Circuit ruled the District of Columbia's Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, which bars handgun ownership by most D.C. residents, is unconstitutional.

The specific question being answered in District of Columbia v. Heller today was, as phrased by the Court: "Whether... provisions [in the District of Columbia code] violate the Second Amendment rights of individuals who are not affiliated with any state-regulated militia, but who wish to keep handguns and other firearms for private use in their homes."

The District of Columbia, defending the constitutionality of the firearm ban before the Court in oral arguments March 18, argued the Second Amendment's right to "bear arms" refers not to an individual right to use firearms, but rather to a "right to participate in the common defense" and a restriction of "the authority of the federal government to interfere with the arming" of state militias. The District of Columbia argued to the Court that "the Second Amendment... is expressly about the security of the State; it's about well-regulated militias, not unregulated individual license."

Opponents of the ban, however, said the Founders considered self-defense a right and one they intended the Second Amendment to protect, telling the Court "the framers knew exactly how to condition a right on militia service... and they didn't do it with respect to the Second Amendment."

"There are countless instances in which individuals are on their own when it comes to protecting themselves and their property. A majority of the Justices recognized this and upheld the Second Amendment's specific protection of an individual right to self-defense. Now that D.C.'s citizens have had this constitutional right restored, criminals will have good reason to think twice before trying to plunder another's property," added Project 21's Borelli.

In 2007, in a newspaper column published in Philadelphia, Chicago, Pittsburgh and elsewhere, Borelli addressed some of the public policy aspects of the case:
Besides violating the Second Amendment, D.C.'s gun ban is a violation of the fundamental rationale of law. In The Law, noted political theorist Frederic Bastiat wrote: 'It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder.' D.C. promotes the opposite, effectively protecting the plunderer and punishing the property owner.
Borelli also pointed out:
Research shows that law-abiding citizens using firearms for protection can save lives and deter crimes. In 'Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control,' co-authors Gary Kleck and Don Kates note that 'as many as 2.5 million victims use guns to defend against crime each year' and 'handguns are actually used by victims to repel crime far more often than they are by criminals in committing crimes - as much as three times more.'
Borelli believes that in addition to it being unconstitutional, it is immoral to deny law-abiding citizens the right to legally possess a firearm, especially within crime-infested neighborhoods.

Borelli's column is available at www.nationalcenter.org/P21NVBorelliGuns90507.html.

Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21's website at http://www.nationalcenter.org/P21Index.html.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:20 PM

Best Title

Best title on a Supreme Court District of Columbia v. Heller-related blog post today: "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" from John Bambenek on Blogcritics.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:01 PM

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stephen Colbert for Meet the Press

I have to agree with columnist Maggie Gallagher when she recommends Steve Colbert for the Meet the Press desk chair.

The man manages to get to the heart of every issue.

Talking about issues a bit more and handicapping election results a bit less would be refreshing, too.

The drive-by media would be appalled, but the suits at GE would love the ratings.

Think about it, NBC.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:26 PM

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Back to the Drawing Board

Husband David says:
Hill opponents of oil development in the Out-Continental Shelf and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge say no more land for oil exploration until the oil companies drill in the 68 million acres in leases they already hold. Drilling hasn't begun in these areas because oil hasn't been found in sufficient quantities to make drilling economic.

The call to drill in areas where there may be no oil at all is only slightly more moronic than their last big idea -- drilling for fuel in corn fields.

Maybe their plans could use a little work.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:27 PM

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Weyrich: Congressional Hearings on Land Trusts Needed

Conservative leader par excellence Paul Weyrich has written a column about National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Fellow Dana Joel Gattuso's National Policy Analysis paper, "Conservation Easements: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly."

Paul begins:
Phil Truluck is today Executive Vice President of the Heritage Foundation. He is the right-hand man of Edwin J. (Ed) Feulner, Jr. In 1973 he worked under my supervision. Then as now he is one of the most able and tireless laborers for the cause I ever have known. That year he worked day and night on the liberal's pet cause of that era - namely, land use. Had the land use bill passed the federal government would have been able, in effect, to do away with private property.

Although others took credit for the defeat of that terrible bill, I can state without fear of contradiction that it was Truluck's work that was responsible for the outcome. It is true that this bill has not reared its ugly self for the past 35 years but no bad idea ever dies in Washington. The National Center for Public Policy Research has issued a new study which contends that the federal government has found a new way to restrict the use of private property. A total of 37 million acres throughout the nation is under the control of land trusts. The best known of these is the Nature Conservancy. Dana Joel Gattuso, a senior fellow at the National Center, is author of the report, "Conservation Easements: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly." It seems that the Conservancy approaches land-rich but cash-poor farmers. In return for donating their land for supposed conservation purposes, the land owners are provided with federal and state tax breaks provided they agree never to develop or use the land for anything other than farming or ranching.

But the next thing that most often happens is a land flip...
Paul ends the piece with a call upon Congress to hold hearings to expose the way conservation easements are being abused, with an eye toward amending the law to prevent these abuses.

Read the rest of Paul's commentary here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:36 PM

America Only Oil-Producing Nation That Severely Limits Its Production

National Center for Public Policy Research Research Associate Reece Epstein has a letter to the editor in today's D.C. Examiner newspaper, written in response to an opinion column by Irwin Stelzer entitled, "No Quick Energy Fixes, Despite Officials’ Promises."

Says Reece:
Irwin Stelzer is rightly disappointed in politicians who "prefer to keep Alaska safe for caribou rather than tap our own oil reserves." America remains the only oil-producing nation that severely limits its own production.

Federal law currently prohibits tapping about 10 billion barrels of oil in the barren tundra of Alaska and another 16 billion barrels off the coasts. It also prevents utilizing the largest known oil shale deposits in the world, which are found in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

The RAND Corporation estimates that between 500 billion to 1.1 trillion recoverable barrels of oil can be found in the shale of the Green River formation, making it the largest known fossil fuel deposit in the world.

With demand for energy skyrocketing and supply subject to incessant instability, we have a clear imperative to develop this untapped and readily obtainable supply of American oil.

Reece Epstein
Research Associate
The National Center for Public Policy Research

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:28 AM

David Ridenour on G. Gordon Liddy Show

Husband David will be a guest on the G. Gordon Liddy Show today about 11:30 AM Eastern, talking about ethanol.

Interested folks can listen live on the Internet or hear the show anytime over the next couple of weeks by downloading a podcast of this broadcast from the show's website.

Addendum 6/19/08: The direct link to the audio for the June 16 Gordon Liddy broadcast is http://feeds.radioamerica.org/podcast/GGL/audio/Liddy_tue_17-06-08_H2.mp3.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:12 AM

Monday, June 16, 2008

Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie on the Death of Tim Russert

From David Almasi:
Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie asked that we pass along his comments on the passing of NBC "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert this past Friday:
We acknowledge the passing of Tim Russert; and with deepest and most sincere condolences offer our prayers to his remaining family and loved ones.

Russert was the personification of fairness in an industry known the least for it. America will always remember his stellar and sensitive coverage of President Reagan's funeral. The nation has lost a newsman who truly understood the confidence entrusted to him by the viewers.

He will be missed.
To contact author David Almasi directly,
write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:56 PM

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Boumediene v. Bush Ruling Will Cost Lives

Project 21's Kevin Martin and four members of the U.S. Supreme Court fear the Supreme Court's ruling in Boumediene v. Bush (pdf) -- the Guantanamo Bay/enemy combatant decision -- will cost lives:
Supreme Court Gitmo Ruling Called "Chilling"; Will Cost American Lives

For Release: June 12, 2008
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected]


Washington, D.C. - Responding to today's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Boumediene v. Bush that allows suspected terrorists to challenge their incarceration, Project 21 member Kevin Martin is criticizing the Court, saying this decision puts national security at risk and sends a confusing signal to the military.

"As a Navy veteran who supported and defended our Constitution at home and abroad, today's Supreme Court ruling benefiting suspected terrorists is deeply disappointing," said Martin. "To grant suspected terrorists the same rights as those fighting to protect our nation is wrong. I consider this one of the most chilling legal rulings in my lifetime. Giving alleged foreign combatants the same rights as any American provides potential ammunition to those with political agendas running counter to the commander-in-chief. Our nation's enemies will now have the ability to gum up our federal courts with baseless legal challenges and further hinder the pursuit of justice."

In the razor-thin 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court decision allows suspected terrorists such as those currently held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba the right to challenge their incarceration in federal courts. It overturns a law passed in 2006 that limited judicial jurisdiction and affects 270 suspected terrorists currently being held by the U.S. military - including 14 suspects al Qaeda members.

Writing in dissent, and joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the 2006 law struck down today was "the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants. The political branches crafted these procedures amidst an ongoing military conflict, after much careful investigation and thorough debate. The Court rejects them today out of hand, without bothering to say what due process rights the detainees possess, without explaining how the statute fails to vindicate those rights, and before a single petitioner has even attempted to avail himself of the law's operation... One cannot help but think... think, after surveying the modest practical results of the majority's ambitious opinion, that this decision is not really about the detainees at all, but about control of federal policy regarding enemy combatants."

In another scathing dissent, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas and Alito, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the majority decision "warps the Constitution" and that "[our] nation will live to regret what the Court has done today." Scalia further warned the ruling "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed... that consequence would be tolerable if necessary to preserve a time-honored legal principle vital to our constitutional Republic. But it is this Court's blatant abandonment of such a principle that produces the decision today." Scalia also wrote a practical affect of the decision will likely be harm to enemy combatants, as the decision is likely to result in enemy combatants being turned over to other nations by the United States following capture.

Martin added: "This sends a confounding message to our men and women in uniform, within our intelligence community and to our allies. Their hard-fought efforts to capture terrorist suspects maybe for naught because they could simply be released back on the battlefield on a legal technicality."
For more information, I recommend reading the decision.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:33 PM

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Project 21's Borelli Rebuts Jesse Jackson at JPMorgan Chase Shareholder Meeting


Deneen Borelli, Project 21 Fellow, shares at our request the details of her appearance at the question-and-answer session of the recent JPMorgan Chase stockholder meeting, at which she had a decidedly different question for CEO Jamie Dimon than did her predecessor at the microphone, Jesse Jackson:
Jesse Jackson appeared to be up to his old tricks at the JPMorgan Chase annual shareholder meeting in New York City. During the question-and-answer session of the meeting, Jackson pressed company CEO Jamie Dimon about the company's commitment to diversity. Among "several concerns," Jackson specifically asked Dimon how much of the company's $750 million dollars spent in legal and management fees on the recent merger went to minority contract lawyers. As Jackson tactfully put it: "how much of that was done by black and brown lawyers?"

While Dimon said he did not know the specific dollar amount, he emphasized that JPMorgan's support of minority contractors was up and that the company had a vice president of diversity. That led Jackson to increase the scope of his question to include the amount of accounting and advertising fees paid to those with black or brown skin color.

Clearly, JPMorgan is already dancing to Jackson's tune, but I guess it is not paying the piper.

I addressed the meeting after Jackson. I asked Dimon and the board of directors if there would "ever be a day you stand up and say no to Jesse Jackson." I suggested that people should be hired for their talents and retained for their results -- not their skin color. Following my statement, I got a round of applause from among the assembled crowd. After the meeting, a few shareholders congratulated me for saying what many were thinking.

To hear the exchange, click here; to read a transcript, go here.
To contact author Deneen Borelli directly,
write her at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:58 PM

Friday, June 06, 2008

Lieberman-Warner Spin Tornado Ensnares Journalists

Husband David has shared his analysis of the spin coming from a sponsor of the late and unlamented Lieberman-Warner global warming cap and trade bill, and the media’s response:
We've been hit with a fast-moving, spinning column of hot air - and it's not another midwestern tornado. It's Joe Lieberman.

After Senate Democrats fell 12 votes short of the number needed to invoke cloture to end debate over the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act and move to a vote earlier today, Senator Lieberman (I-CT) issued a press release boldly proclaiming victory.

"Today 54 members of the United States Senate, including 9 Republicans, demonstrated their desire to move forward with the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act," Lieberman's press statement said.

Oh really? There were, in fact, only 48 votes in favor of ending the debate. The Connecticut tornado - er, Senator - also counted five Senators who didn't attend the vote, but who indicated in letters that they would have voted in favor of cloture had it been important enough to them to show up. Lieberman's count also included Senator Edward Kennedy, recovering from surgery, who had also sent a letter.

But U.S. Senate doesn't operate by mail-in ballot - at least, not yet. Senator Lieberman used to know that when he was a Democrat.

Then Senator Lieberman told this whopper: "We have convinced a majority in the Senate to support mandatory, comprehensive, market-based legislation to curb global warming and enhance U.S. energy security."

Majority? What majority? Even if one accepts the dubious claim that Senators who don't vote count, an aye vote in this instance doesn't translate to support for the underlying legislation. This was a vote to end the debate.

As Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) noted, as quoted in the National Journal, "I separate the two. I may be against the bill, but I want to vote for its consideration so it gets an up-or-down vote."

In fact, ten Democrats, nine of whom voted for cloture on Lieberman-Warner, had already indicated their intention to vote against final passage.

In a letter to Senators Harry Reid and Barbara Boxer dated today, the ten Democrat Senators stated: "As Democrats from regions of the country that will be most immediately affected by climate legislation, we want to share our concerns with the bill that is currently before the Senate... we cannot support final passage of the Boxer Substitute in its current form."

The Senators were Debbie Stabenow (MI), Jay Rockefeller (WV), Carl Levin (MI), Blanche Lincoln (AR), Mark Pryor (AR), Jim Webb (VA), Evan Bayh (IN), Claire McCaskill (MO), Sherrod Brown (OH) and Ben Nelson (NE).

Senator McCain has said he wouldn't support the bill's final passage unless changes were made - including a provision specifically permitting nuclear power to be used to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Since no amendments were to have been allowed and nuclear technology wasn't part of the bill, this all but assured that Senator McCain would have voted against the bill's final passage.

The number of Senators who supported the climate bill was likely less 44, meaning that climate change legislation hasn't gained much ground if any since the Senate last voted on the issue in 2005. Back then, it received 38 votes in favor.

Nonetheless, many in the mainstream media happily followed Senator Lieberman's spin

Reuters wrote, for example, "Far from being discouraged, Sen. Joe Lieberman said international observers would be gratified that the measure got support from a majority in the Senate."

And the San Francisco Chronicle noted: "The tally was a big jump over the 38 votes a similar bill received in 2005..."

Just three days ago, Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act's advocates hailed the 74-14 vote to consider the measure as a great victory.

Three days later, the number of Senators supporting their position has dropped by over 35%.

Now that's what I call Joe-mentum.
David Ridenour is vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. To contact David directly, write him at [email protected].

Cross-posted on Newsbusters.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:23 PM

What John Warner Doesn't Know Can Cost You

Senator John Warner to Fox's Neil Cavuto: "Just why [gasoline] prices have skyrocketed, we know not."

Shouldn't the co-sponsor of the Lieberman-Warner global warming bill, which several independent econometric studies have concluded would significantly raise consumer gasoline prices, have bothered to learn the mechanics of gasoline pricing before creating, co-sponsoring and promoting his bill?

Warner, in the same interview, called concerns that his bill would raise gas prices "purely a scare tactic." One wonders how he could possibly know.

Ben Lieberman at the Heritage Foundation doesn't think gas increase fears result from a scare tactic.

Says he:
A recent study by The Heritage Foundation estimates a cost increase of at least 29 percent by 2030, or $1.10 per gallon based on current gasoline prices. The Environmental Protection Agency is a bit less pessimistic, estimating a price boost of 53 cents per gallon by that year. But others predict an earlier impact - a National Association of Manufacturers' study projects as much as $1.07 more per gallon by 2014.
Anyone want to pay anywhere from .53 - $1.10 more per gallon of gas just to have an outside chance -- a very remote outside chance -- of reducing global warming by 0.013 degrees (C)?

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:26 AM

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Media Double-Standard on Global Warming "Censorship"

If you plug the search terms "James Hansen" and "censored" into Google, you get 37,900 results.

Do the same search substituting "Roy Spencer" for "James Hansen," and you get 610 results (the third of which is from Newsbusters [here and here]).

The media is highly selective about the censorship it covers. Consider the note climatologist Roy Spencer posted on his website today:
A NOTE ON NASA'S JAMES HANSEN BEING MUZZLED BY NASA

I see that we are once again having to hear how NASA's James Hansen was dissuaded from talking to the press on a few of the 1,400 media interviews he was involved in over the years.

Well, I had the same pressure as a NASA employee during the Clinton-Gore years, because NASA management and the Clinton/Gore administration knew that I was skeptical that mankind's CO2 emissions were the main cause of global warming. I was even told not to give my views during congressional testimony, and so I purposely dodged a question, under oath, when it arose.

But I didn't complain about it like Hansen has. NASA is an executive branch agency and the President was, ultimately, my boss (and is, ultimately, Hansen's boss). So, because of the restrictions on what I could and couldn't do or say, I finally just resigned from NASA and went to work for the university here in Huntsville. There were no hard feelings, and I'm still active in a NASA satellite mission and fully supportive of its Earth observation programs.

In stark contrast, Jim Hansen said whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted to the press and congress during that time. He even campaigned for John Kerry, and received a $250,000 award from Theresa Heinz-Kerry's charitable foundation -- two events he maintains are unrelated. If I had done anything like this when I worked at NASA, I would have been crucified under the Hatch Act.

Does anyone besides me see a double standard here?

-Roy W. Spencer
The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Answer: Yes.

Dr. Spencer is right about the double standard, and also right to note that government scientists have bosses who -- quite appropriately -- get to set the rules. Not NBC News, not the Washington Post, and not each individual government employee (even the ones who think they are smarter than everybody else). No, the bosses who report to, and sometimes are, directly elected by the public get to set the rules, and employees like Hansen are supposed to follow them.

If they don't want to, they can quit -- as Roy Spencer did -- or even run for office themselves. (I don't recall James Hansen ever submitting his name on the ballot for public approval.)

The entire so-called "censorship" controversy is a creation of the media, Hansen himself, and a few other pro-global warming theory activists who are trying to promulgate the absurd notion notion that federal government employees, unlike any other employees anywhere, get to say whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want, while on office time.

Hansen called it censorship when his employer decided to have its employees coordinate work-related media interviews through a designated office, leaving some of us to wonder how we can possibly be expected to accept the results of complicated global warming models promoted by a guy who doesn't even understand the definition of a commonplace word like "censor."

Hansen even had the chutzpah to refuse to testify before Congress in 2006 because a so-called "skeptic" scientist, the highly-credentialled and far more polite Dr. John Christy, was also invited to testify. Hansen's effort to get Christy booted from a Congressional panel's witness list doesn't quite fit the formal definition of censorship, but Hansen's intent -- to keep Christy from sharing his views -- was substantially closer to it than anything the Bush Administration has ever done to Hansen.

And speaking of ethical violations, government employee Hansen's refusal to testify to Congress was itself an ethical violation. There may not be a formal rule against it in the rulebook, but Congressmen are the people's representatives, and Hansen works for the people. When Congress wants information, Hansen should provide it.

Too bad Congress didn't subpoena him. Let him claim "censorship" while he's being chased around by U.S. marshalls for his refusal to speak.

Dr. Spencer does valuable work at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, but Alabama's gain was NASA's loss -- the loss of a true professional that few in our blind-eyed news media even realizes, much less acknowledges.

Hat tip: Marc Morano. Cross-posted on Newsbusters.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:58 PM

Monday, June 02, 2008

Rush Limbaugh's Take on NCPPR's Lieberman-Warner Poll

Rush Limbaugh discussed the National Center for Public Policy Research's poll on the Lieberman-Warner cap and trade bill Friday. He also discussed a poll on energy production and prices conducted by Gallup.

Debate on Lieberman-Warner in the U.S. Senate is expected to begin today.

From RushLimbaugh.com, an excerpt:
...A couple of interesting polls.  First off, Gallup poll.  It's an energy poll.  It's out today on gasoline prices. It has some interesting findings.  Americans want increased domestic production, even if it means opening areas that are now off limits.  The Gallup poll found the majority of 57% to 41% of Americans support drilling in US coastal and wilderness areas, which are now off limits.  By comparison, by the way, in a more specific Gallup poll taken in March three years ago; a majority of Americans, 53%, was opposed to opening ANWR for oil production.  So there has been a big shift.  Despite the onslaught from the Drive-By Media and both presidential candidates, an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose rationing.  A slight majority, 53%, support price controls on gasoline, but an overwhelming majority, 79%, oppose the rationing of gasoline that would result from price controls, and unlike some in Congress, most Americans don't blame Big Oil.  Despite recent high-profile hearings with oil company executives, the percentage of Americans blaming the oil companies for skyrocketing gas prices fell from 34% to 20%.  

That's the Gallup poll.  Now, here's another one.  This poll is the National Center for Public Policy Research.  Their poll found that an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose Warner-Lieberman, the cap-and-trade bill that attacks the US economy when they learned about the impact on gasoline and electricity prices.  Sixty-five percent of Americans reject spending even a penny more for gasoline in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Does this jibe with what you think?  This kind of surprises me. Sixty-five percent of Americans -- this is the National Center for Public Policy Research poll -- reject spending even a penny more for gasoline in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?  Seventy-one percent of Americans reject spending more for electricity, with 16% opposing spending any more than 12% extra for electricity.  When gasoline and electricity price increases are taken together, 90% of the American people reject Lieberman-Warner's plan and its costs, even at the low range of the projecting costs.  Now, I think this poll is a bit different than most other standard Drive-By Media polls, because what the National Center for Public Policy Research did is they went out and said, 'Okay, here's what Warner-Lieberman will do, and here's what it's going to cost you.'

Then they asked the question, 'Do you support paying higher gasoline prices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?' Sixty-five percent of the American people said no.  The Gallup poll, I don't know how this one was conducted.  I've got the full poll.  I just haven't clicked on the link to get the questions.  But both polls surprise me because the public perception is like Vaclav Klaus said a couple days ago when he was at the National Press Club doing a speech, the Czech Republic president. He said (paraphrased), 'We've lost. The facts don't matter. The facts do not matter now in the global warming debate.'  Well, maybe they do.  Maybe they do.  I'm under the impression that over half the American people have bought into this.  But I don't think that's true.  I think all of the media has bought into it.  We played those sound bites of poor old Juan Williams who had no clue, no clue that environmentalism is an ideological advancement, that it's liberal.  He had no clue that it was about an expansion of government and a huge attack on individual liberty. He said Vaclav Klaus raised his consciousness on this.  Well, that's good, you know, any time that happens...
I believe Rush Limbaugh is America's #1 asset on global warming education. He takes the time to understand the science and the economics, and has the talent to explain it understandably and entertainingly. I shudder to think we're we'd be without Rush.

For a longer excerpt from Rush's Friday broadcast, go to RushLimbaugh.com. For more on our poll, go here; for a quick summary of Lieberman-Warner, please go here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:35 AM

Copyright The National Center for Public Policy Research