masthead-highres

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Watch Tom Borelli on the Fox Business Network's "Money for Breakfast" on Wednesday Morning

Note: Due to news coming from the G20 meeting, the Fox Business Network has postponed running the scheduled April 1 interview with Tom Borelli until April 2. We apologize for any inconvenience to our readers who tuned in April 1 expecting to see Tom.

From David Almasi:
Tom Borelli, director of The National Center's Free Enterprise Project, is scheduled to be a guest on the Wednesday morning edition of the Fox Business Network's "Money for Breakfast" program (April 1, 2009). Tom will be talking about the inherent problems with imposing a "cap-and-trade" policy relating to greenhouse gas emissions.

"Money for Breakfast" airs between 7:00 AM and 9:00 AM eastern on the Fox Business Channel. Tom is tentatively scheduled to appear around 7:40 AM eastern. Check your local cable listings for local channel number or click here.

In a recent column on Townhall, Tom wrote about why some big businesses are lobbying for the inherently risky cap-and-trade policy:
...Clearly, these firms have placed a huge wager on cap-and-trade since the legislation will make carbon dioxide a commodity and drive demand for renewable energy sources such as wind turbines and solar panels.

But carbon trading is very speculative at best. For example, JPMorgan is seeking to create carbon emission credits from distributing energy-efficient stoves in Africa. Since the stoves will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere because they burn less fuel than traditional cooking methods, the company wants to claim the savings as a carbon emission credit. The carbon credits would then be sold in the carbon exchange to a company that is over its government mandated limit...

...There must be something in the water on Wall Street that makes these firms dream up such ridiculous ideas. Creating a market built on a house of cards that man's activity is causing global warming is dangerous enough, but that risk gets magnified when markets are created by assigning an artificial value to a ubiquitous and invisible gas such as carbon dioxide.
Additionally, a National Center poll taken in 2008 found that the overwhelming majority of Americans oppose a cap-and-trade policy. The poll results can be found here

To learn more about the "Money for Breakfast" program, click here.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:59 PM

Underground Life

This could prove interesting.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:32 PM

U.S. House Holds Kangaroo Hearing to Fool Public About Causes of California Drought

The National Center for Public Policy Research has sent a 'kangaroo' to a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Resources Committee on climate change and the California drought.

The kangaroo's appearance will to protest the fact that the hearing is expected to ignore the contribution of environmental regulations in exacerbating the drought, and also the fact that only representatives of government agencies, mostly federal, have been invited to testify.

Our press release explains:
'Kangaroo-Court' Hearing a One-Sided View of California Drought

Regulations Making Water Shortage Worse


For Release: March 31, 2009 10:30 AM

Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or
[email protected]


Washington, D.C.: The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources is holding a one-sided hearing this morning on the California drought that is expected to blame climate change for a critical water shortage while glossing over the role of activist-inspired environmental policies in exacerbating the shortage, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research.

The hearing, entitled "The California Drought: Actions by Federal and State Agencies to Address Impacts on Lands, Fisheries, and Water Users," will be held today, March 31, at 10:30 am in Room 1324, Longworth House Office Building.

Only representatives of government agencies will be permitted to testify at the hearing. Most of the witnesses will be from federal agencies.

To draw attention to the biased nature of the proceedings, The National Center for Public Policy Research will send a representative to the hearing best suited for a kangaroo court - a kangaroo.

"At the height of a California drought and during a serious recession with massive unemployment in California's Central Valley, one would hope that the committee cared enough about agricultural workers and minorities to invite as witnesses actual unemployed farm workers from the scores of communities closing down," remarked R.J. Smith, a Senior Fellow at The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Let's have an open Committee hearing and hear real people discussing the impacts on their lives from government regulations and their massive job losses - instead of more government bureaucrats who are only causing the problem."

California - the nation's largest producer of tomatoes, lettuce, almonds, apricots, strawberries and many other crops - risks agricultural losses of over $2 billion for the upcoming season and $3 billion in total economic losses in 2009. According to a University of California at Davis study, 80,000 jobs could be lost in the Central Valley.

Although global warming is expected to receive much of the blame for this economic disaster, government regulation is a more significant - and preventable cause - of it, according to The National Center for Public Policy Research.

For example, state and federal water officials have sharply cut agricultural water deliveries in California so that more water can go out to sea as part of an effort to protect the Delta Smelt - a three-inch long fish listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In February, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced a "zero allocation" of water from the Central Valley Project, cutting off the massive federal irrigation system that serves numerous California farms. The supply of water from California's State Water Project is 20 percent of normal.

"By demanding that the water flow into the Pacific Ocean, government meddlers have forced farmers to abandon production, threatening both the nation's fresh food supplies and the jobs of farm workers, many of whom are among the nation's poorest minorities," said Mr. Smith. "Ironically, the cut-off of agricultural water has done nothing to help the Delta Smelt. Every year less water is diverted for agriculture, yet the fish population continues to decline."

The state of California also deserves blame for the water shortage because it has failed to build the water infrastructure necessary for the state's growing population.

Donn Zea, President of the Northern California Water Association, wrote in the March 5th edition of the San Francisco Chronicle that although California's population has doubled over the past 40 years, the state has not meaningfully updated its water storage capacity since 1967. "As a result, when drought hits, we have an amount of water suitable for California in 1960 - not 2009," wrote Mr. Zea.

The Resources Committee - which has a history of promoting global warming alarmism - is expected to explore the dubious link between a modest increase in global temperatures and localized weather patterns devastating California.

"If certain members of the House Natural Resources Committee want the world to believe that a regional drought in an arid area of California is further 'proof' of global warming, then let's hope that they apply the same reasoning to the floods that are ravaging eastern and central North Dakota," remarked Dr. Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow at The National Center for Public Policy Research. "By the thousands, residents of Fargo and Bismarck are trying to protect their cities from the rising waters of the Red and Missouri Rivers. The blocks of ice on the Missouri River north of Bismarck were so huge that explosives were used to blow them up. Will Chairman Rahall invite Fargo's mayor and other North Dakota officials before his committee to testify on how ordinary citizens spent hours in sub-freezing, snowy weather protecting their homes and businesses from the effects of global cooling?"

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-profit 501(c)(3) communications and research foundation dedicated to providing free market solutions to today's public policy problems. For more information, visit the National Center's website at www.nationalcenter.org or call (202) 543-4110.

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Here's hoping our 'kangaroo' (actually, a man in a kangaroo costume) is able to draw some attention to government regulations that are needlessly hurting Californians.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:23 AM

Monday, March 30, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Obama Breaks Tax Pledge



Not that we're surprised, but President Barack Obama has broken his pledge (see YouTube video above or go here or here) not to raise any kind of taxes on families earning less than $250,000 per year.

It took him until February 4, 2009 to break his promise; the tax hike he signed into law that day goes into effect tomorrow.

As Joseph Henchman of the Tax Foundation Tax Policy Blog noted today, tomorrow, the federal cigarette tax goes from 39 cents to $1.0066 per pack of 20 cigarettes. As Henchman pointed out last month, Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show that 95.8 percent of all expenditures on tobacco are made by people with household incomes under $150,000 annually.

Writing in 2007 for the National Center for Public Policy Research, David Hogberg, PhD pointed out that the plan -- then merely a soon-to-be-vetoed bill; now, thanks to Congress and Barack Obama, federal law -- to raise tobacco taxes to fund an expansion of the S-Chip program would "result in families whose income puts them in the bottom 15 percent of households funding benefits for children who are in families close to the top 25 percent of households."

Here's more of what David Hogberg pointed out at the time:
The legislation passed by Congress takes this unfair system and makes it regressive. First, much of the new funding for SCHIP comes from a large increase in the cigarette tax. As Table 1 shows, people with incomes under 200 percent of the poverty level smoke at rates higher than those with incomes above 200 percent of the poverty level.

NPA560Table1.jpg

Thus, the taxes to fund the expansion of SCHIP will fall disproportionately on those making under 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

It could be argued that this is a fair system if all children in families under 200 percent of the poverty level were eligible for SCHIP and if only those under 200 percent of poverty were eligible for SCHIP. But none of this new revenue goes to those under 200 percent of the poverty level; benefits for those children are already funded via other taxes. The added revenues from the cigarette tax are for the purpose of funding the expansion. Indeed, both SCHIP bills passed by Congress take the tax revenues from those under 200 percent of the poverty level and give it to those children who live in families above 200 percent of poverty, likely all the way up to 400 percent of the poverty level. Table 2 shows the income amount by family size for each poverty level.

NPA560Table2.jpg

It is not inconceivable that a parent with one child with an income of $13,690 will be funding benefits for two children in a family of four with an income of $82,600. In short, SCHIP expansion would result in families whose income puts them in the bottom 15 percent of households funding benefits for children who are in families close to the top 25 percent of households.

It is quite common for the political left to attack a flat tax as regressive. SCHIP expansion is expected to impose not only a flat tax on cigarettes, but it then to take the revenue from that tax and distribute it up the income ladder. It seems clear the political left has an agenda other than basic fairness when it supports SCHIP expansion.
(You can read the entire paper here.)

So, two weeks after taking office, Barack Obama broke his promise to not raise any form of taxes on people making under $250,000 per year, and the bill starts coming due tomorrow.

For only keeping his promise for a measly two weeks, Barack Obama gets today's Outrage of the Day.

Hat tip: Carter Wood at ShopFloor.org for alerting me that the tax goes up tomorrow and and for a link to Joseph Henchman's writing, and to Americans for Tax Reform for the video.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:13 PM

Watch Tom Borelli on Fox's "Glenn Beck" Tonight

From David Almasi:
Tom Borelli, director of The National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project, is scheduled to be a guest on today's "Glenn Beck" program on the Fox News Channel. He has been asked to appear to talk about proposed legislation to create a government-run "green bank" meant to help finance so-called green technologies.

Tom notes: "The last time the government got involved in banking we ended up with Fannie Mae and the housing bubble. Following that disaster, the last thing we need is to fund a green bubble."

"Glenn Beck" airs at 5:00 pm eastern on the Fox News Channel. Tom is tentatively scheduled to appear around 5:20 pm eastern. Check your local cable listings for channel.

To learn more about the "Glenn Beck" program, click here.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:33 PM

Earth Hour

I thought "Earth Hour" was dumb, but I'm rethinking this now that I realize Al Gore must have thought so, too.

P.S. It seems most Californians and New Yorkers agreed with me/us.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:38 AM

Would You Buy a New Car From the Folks Who Run the Post Office?

I guess being President of the United States isn't enough of a job for Barack Obama.

Now we're about to see how well he can run GM and Chrysler, too.

My guess: It won't go well. Auto firms can't print money, and Barack Obama won't be willing to stand up to unions.

Hat tip: John Amato at Crooks and Liars.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:05 AM

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Obama's Hypocrisy on Lobbying

As a candidate for President, Barack Obama made attacking lobbyists one of the linchpins of his candidacy.

As President, though, he seems to be of two minds.

On the one hand, among other things that might loosely be described as "anti-lobbyist," he's issued a directive against lobbyist participation in the distribution of "stimulus" funds that's thought by some to be so draconian, the ACLU, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the American League of Lobbyists have, as Kenneth P. Vogel of Politico tells us, decided to protest it.*

On the other hand, he's given the high-profile position of "climate change czar" to former EPA Administrator Carol Browner, whose record leads many to suspect she believes that anti-lobbying laws are there to be broken.

As David Ridenour (full disclosure: my husband) of the National Center for Public Policy Research writes in Monday's Washington Times:
...Throughout her years as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the Clinton administration, EPA officials routinely violated the Anti-Lobbying Act - a law prohibiting federal employees from using agency money for "telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress."

In 1995, the EPA flagrantly violated that law when it lobbied against the Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act, a bill that would have curbed some of the EPA's worst abuses.

As James F. Hinchman, comptroller general of the United States, noted, EPA officials "distributed EPA fact sheets to various organizations ... directly lobbied the Congress." Not only that, but an EPA regional administrator wrote a strong Op-Ed designed to stop the bill's passage.

Four years later, Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, accused the EPA of violating the Anti-Lobbying Act again. Mr. Byrd - who has made a career of steering pork to his state - complained that the EPA's Transportation Partners Program was coordinating and funding anti-road lobbyists against the law and his state's interests. Mrs. Browner was forced to terminate the program.

The following year Mrs. Browner was at it yet again. This time, her agency was accused of allowing special interests to improperly influence last-minute - so-called "midnight" - environmental regulations. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered the EPA to preserve communications with such groups. Instead, Mrs. Browner had her computer hard drive re-initialized, wiping it clean. Judge Lamberth subsequently held the EPA in contempt for "contumacious conduct."...
Did President Obama stern admonish Carol Browner that behavior of this sort would not be tolerated in an Obama Administration (and, if so, why take the risk of appointing her at all?)? Or are rules against "outside" lobbyists the only ones Barack Obama wants enforced?


* Note: In my view, the new directive to supposedly limit lobbyist influence on spending of the so-called stimulus won't mean much in the end. Businesses, unions, lobbying firms, lobbyist law firms, state and local governments and special interests wanting a piece of our tax dollars will simply lobby for it using personnel who are not required to register as a lobbyist under the terms of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (or, in some cases, people who are required to, but didn't). The only way to keep lobbyists from going after federal money is to shrink the pot of federal money available as government-distributed handouts (for instance, by leaving it in the hands of those who earned it in the first place).

Hat tip: I learned about the ACLU's position on the new lobbying directive from the Don Irvine Blog.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:33 PM

CQPolitics Compares Obama Staffing Levels to Bush's, But Spots Obama 34 Days

Pretty much everybody over a certain age remembers the Bush-Gore 2000 presidential election wasn't settled on election night, right?

You might think so, but one of the nation's best-known political journals, Congressional Quarterly, seem to have forgotten it.

A March 27 CQPolitics article by Bart Jansen, "Despite Significant Vacancies, Obama Outpaces Bush in Nominations," begins:

President Obama's pace in making nominations -- rather than occasional Republican opposition -- is responsible for vacancies in key administration posts at a critical time, senators from both parties say. But Obama is still sending the Senate more names and winning confirmations faster than his predecessor...

and continues:

...But the problem may be one of perception. Obama has sent more nominees to the Senate and had more confirmed than George W. Bush had by the same point in his first term as president, according to the White House Transition Project, a nonpartisan effort by scholars, universities and think tanks to smooth transitions.

Of the 385 posts at Cabinet-level agencies that a president must appoint, Obama had sent 100 names to the Senate as of March 24, of which 38 were confirmed. In contrast, Bush had sent 40 and gotten 30 confirmed by the same point in 2001...

The article makes an allowance for the playing field not being quite equal, saying:

...Part of Obama's advantage over Bush in submitting nominations stems from a 2004 intelligence overhaul (PL 108-458) that allowed him to name deputy secretaries and undersecretaries who could be confirmed on the first day of a new administration, in order to hasten the transition...

But no mention is made of the historic nature of the 2000 presidential election, which had no winner until after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore -- a decision not handed down until December 12. Bush was not able to open his transition office until after December 12, while Obama was able to do so immediately after November 8.

The only fair comparison (and even then, only loosely) would be to compare Obama's staffing levels to similar periods in the administrations of other first term presidents who succeeded an incumbent of the opposite party (i.e., Bill Clinton in 1993 and Ronald Reagan in 1981). Even going back as far as Reagan isn't quite fair, because the size and processes of government and the mores of the capital have changed quite a bit since then.

One thing's certain: By March 24 of his first term, George W. Bush had had 34 less days as a president-elect/president than Barack Obama had at the same point in his, making any comparison between them useless.

CQPolitics should have asked its source, the White House Transitition Project, for a more fair comparison: one between Obama's staffing levels and Bill Clinton's at the same point in 1993. The fun of a partisan comparison would have been lost, but at the gain of a more accurate one.

Cross-posted at Newsbusters.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:31 AM

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Senate Majority Leader Calls Chief Justice a Liar

HarryReidTheScreamFlickrCCabsentee_redstate.jpg In what only makes sense as his latest entry in the highly-competitive Laughstock of Washington contest, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Friday called Chief Justice John Roberts a liar.

Reid claims that, in not one but two judicial confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate,* Roberts lied to the Senate about "who he was."

From the March 28 Washington Times story by Stephen Dinan:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. lied to Congress during his confirmation hearings by pretending to be open-minded about his judicial philosophy.

"We got into a little jam with Roberts. Roberts didn't tell us the truth. At least [Justice Samuel A.] Alito told us who he was," Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, said, comparing former President George W. Bush's two successful Supreme Court nominees.

"We're stuck with those two young men," Mr. Reid said, though he added that Democrats hope to try to balance out the judiciary overall by "having some moderates in the federal court system as time goes on."...
Harry Reid acts more and more every day like the nation's crazy uncle. Of course John Roberts told the Senate "who he was" (Reidspeak for "judicial philosophy"). For his Chief Justice confirmation hearings alone, Roberts answered a lengthy Senate questionnaire, participated in four days of questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee, had all his past decisions, public writings and statements heavily scrutinized, had the 39 cases he'd argued before the Supreme Court minutely reviewed, had his professional history (including stints in the Reagan and Bush 41 White Houses and clerking for former Chief Justice William Rehnquist) gone over with a microscope, and a good bit more.

The famous arroyo toad quip ("The panel's approach in this case leads to the result that regulating the taking of a hapless toad that, for reasons of its own, lives its entire life in California constitutes regulating 'Commerce... among the several States...'") all by itself should have given Reid a big clue that Roberts wasn't the "living-Constitution-let's-see-what-the-French-think" style of jurist the left seems to prefer.

Or, as Reid calls them, "moderates."

I assume, of course, that Reid understood the point, or could even tell you what the Commerce Clause is (and yes, he's a lawyer).

But if even if all that is Greek to Reid, there's still the fact that Senate Democrats not once but twice (1991 and 2001) delayed giving Roberts his confirmation hearings when he was nominated to lower courts. We can assume it wasn't because Senate Democrats thought Roberts too "moderate."

Last week left-wing Rep. Barney Frank called Justice Antonin Scalia a "homophobe." This week, left-wing Senator Harry Reid calls the Chief Justice a liar.

Do you suppose the left is irritated that our country still has strong good men who defend our Constitution?

Must be.

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* 2003: U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; 2005: U.S. Supreme Court
Image: Flickr - absentee_redstate - Creative Commons

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:54 AM

Friday, March 27, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Obama Raised Cash for Never-to-Be-Run Senate Race After Leaving Senate

FreeFotocomDollarsSm.jpgIn a move that's cynical, even for him, Barack Obama was still raising money for his 2010 U.S. Senate re-election fund as late as December 26, 2008, more than a month after being elected President of the United States on November 8 and resigning from the Senate itself on November 16.

According to an article by Jim McElhatton in the March 27 Washington Times, an unnamed Obama defender said the funds were raised "to cover outstanding expenses that needed to be paid to wind down the campaign committee," as if "winding down" from a campaign one actually hadn't run is an especially expensive proposition.

According to McElhatton's reporting, Obama's never-to-be-run Senate 2010 campaign fund had $100,000 on hand when it was still raising money for this apparently very luxurious "wind down" operation.

The December 26, 2008 donations, McElhatton reports, included $2,300 "from a top executive of a Wall Street firm that had received a government bailout."

Gee. Who's surprised?
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Photo source: FreeFoto.com

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:06 PM

Call Me White, Blue-Eyed and Proud

Gordon Brown should have pushed this guy into the water.

Hat tip: AllahPundit at HotAir.com.

Addendum, 4/3/09: President Obama tells Silva: "This is my man, right here. I love this guy."

Hat tip: Jules Crittenden.



E-mail any comments to [email protected].
Subscribe to this blog's feed.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:55 AM

Watch Deneen Borelli Live Online on Fox's "Strategy Room" Monday

FoxNewsStrategyRoomDB103108dBy David Almasi:
Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli is scheduled to speak about current events and breaking news as part of the group discussion on the Fox News Channel's online "Strategy Room" program on Monday, March 30 between 9:00 - 10:00 AM eastern.

To access the live Internet broadcast, click here and then click the "STREAM THIS NOW" headline in the center or the page under the photo.

To learn more about Fox's "Strategy Room" Internet talk show, click here to see an article about the program that appeared in this past Monday's New York Times.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:30 AM

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pickens Plan May Test Obama's Leadership

From David Almasi:
Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli's commentary on the inherent problems within the "Pickens Plan" was published in today's Washington Examiner newspaper.

Billionaire T. Boone Pickens claims altruistic reasons for promoting the construction of massive wind farms and converting trucks and fleet vehicles to be powered by natural gas in order to lessen U.S. demand for foreign oil. Deneen points out the plan may result in both misery for politically-weak urban communities and money for Pickens.

Ultimately, she notes, the Pickens Plan may be a test of President Barack Obama's leadership.

In "Pickens Plan is Hot Air That May Burn America," Deneen writes:
Converting vehicles to natural gas taps a resource now used by power plants to generate electricity. To compensate, the Pickens Plan suggests massive wind turbines. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 100,000 such turbines - many the size of 40-story buildings - would be necessary to handle just 20 percent of the nation's electricity needs.

To deliver that power, the Energy Department further estimates 12,650 miles of new transmission lines would be needed by 2030 at a cost of between $64 and $128 billion...

...Pickens compares the proposed new power grid to the construction of the 46,000-mile interstate highway system decades ago. Sadly, back then it was often the poorest neighborhoods selected for eminent domain evictions to make way for new roads.

So-called "negro removal" in Detroit's Paradise Valley and Newark's Central Ward helped spark the July 1967 riots that collectively led to 66 deaths. Highway construction destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes in a process the San Francisco Chronicle in 1959 called "a crime that cannot be prettied up."

Pickens has not assured the public his plan would not repeat this exploitation of minorities and the politically-disadvantaged.

Pickens would also likely profit from his plan, thanks to taxpayer support. He testified before Congress that his plan might succeed only with the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), which was recently extended by the $787 billion bailout bill.

Mesa Power, a Pickens' company, wants to build a 2,700-turbine wind farm in Texas. According to a report by the National Center for Public Policy Research, "Pickens' firm stands to receive between $1.66 billion and about $3 billion in PTC payments alone over 10 years, a significant portion of its original investment."
Regarding the proposal as a challenge for the President, Deneen notes:
Obama's leadership will soon be tested. Will he side with the little guy, protecting their homes and guarding their access to affordable energy? Or will he deliver for special interests like T. Boone Pickens and anti-energy environmental organizations?

If he chooses the latter, it won't be the change so many people thought they voted for last November."
To read the entire commentary, click here.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:13 PM

Outrage of the Day: The Terrible Health Care Canadians and Britons Receive

It's become fashionable in governing circles to deride the quality of the U.S. health care system to support an ideological agenda that says Americans would be better off with a government-run health system similar to Britain's or Canada's.

The National Center for Policy Analysis puts the lie to this, well, lie, and not for the first time.

Read their Brief Analysis #649, "10 Surprising Facts about American Health Care" and learn the specifics behind the following:
Fact No. 1: Americans have better survival rates than Europeans for common cancers.

Fact No. 2: Americans have lower cancer mortality rates than Canadians.

Fact No. 3: Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases than patients in other developed countries.

Fact No. 4: Americans have better access to preventive cancer screening than Canadians.

Fact No. 5: Lower income Americans are in better health than comparable Canadians.

Fact No. 6: Americans spend less time waiting for care than patients in Canada and the U.K.

Fact No. 7: People in countries with more government control of health care are highly dissatisfied and believe reform is needed.

Fact No. 8: Americans are more satisfied with the care they receive than Canadians.

Fact No. 9: Americans have much better access to important new technologies like medical imaging than patients in Canada or the U.K.

Fact No. 10: Americans are responsible for the vast majority of all health care innovations.
Go here for the backup details and keep the document bookmarked for the health care debate to come. And maybe e-mail it to any Canadians or Britons you may know. Those folks need health care reform, ASAP.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:53 AM

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NY Times Magazine's Sympathetic Portrait of a Global Warming "Skeptic"

Despite an occasional line likely to raise a conservative's eyebrow ("Dyson may be an Obama-loving, Bush-loathing liberal who has spent his life opposing American wars and fighting for the protection of natural resources, but he brooks no ideology," for example) writer Nicholas Dawidoff's 8,200-word March 29 New York Times magazine feature, "The Civil Heretic," on world-renowned physicist, Iraq-protesting liberal and "global warming skeptic" Freeman Dyson will be appreciated by many readers of this blog.

Using a comfortable, storytelling style, Dawidoff immediately sets the scene:
For more than half a century the eminent physicist Freeman Dyson has quietly resided in Princeton, N.J., on the wooded former farmland that is home to his employer, the Institute for Advanced Study, this country's most rarefied community of scholars. Lately, however, since coming "out of the closet as far as global warming is concerned," as Dyson sometimes puts it, there has been noise all around him. Chat rooms, Web threads, editors' letter boxes and Dyson's own e-mail queue resonate with a thermal current of invective in which Dyson has discovered himself variously described as "a pompous twit," "a blowhard," "a cesspool of misinformation," "an old coot riding into the sunset" and, perhaps inevitably, "a mad scientist." ...Dyson's son, George, a technology historian, says his father's views have cooled friendships, while many others have concluded that time has cost Dyson something else. There is the suspicion that, at age 85, a great scientist of the 20th century is no longer just far out, he is far gone - out of his beautiful mind...
From there Dawidoff tells the story of Dyson's life, intermittently returning to, and ultimately concluding on, the subject of global warming.

Some brief excerpts, not complete, of the global warming sections, as they are likely to be of interest to this blog's readers:
...Dyson has been particularly dismissive of Al Gore, whom Dyson calls climate change's "chief propagandist," and James Hansen, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and an adviser to Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth." Dyson accuses them of relying too heavily on computer-generated climate models...

...Climate models, he says, take into account atmospheric motion and water levels but have no feeling for the chemistry and biology of sky, soil and trees. "The biologists have essentially been pushed aside," he continues. "Al Gore's just an opportunist. The person who is really responsible for this overestimate of global warming is Jim Hansen. He consistently exaggerates all the dangers."

Dyson agrees with the prevailing view that there are rapidly rising carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere caused by human activity. To the planet, he suggests, the rising carbon may well be a MacGuffin, a striking yet ultimately benign occurrence in what Dyson says is still "a relatively cool period in the earth's history." The warming, he says, is not global but local, "making cold places warmer rather than making hot places hotter." Far from expecting any drastic harmful consequences from these increased temperatures, he says the carbon may well be salubrious - a sign that "the climate is actually improving rather than getting worse," because carbon acts as an ideal fertilizer promoting forest growth and crop yields. "Most of the evolution of life occurred on a planet substantially warmer than it is now," he contends, "and substantially richer in carbon dioxide." Dyson calls ocean acidification, which many scientists say is destroying the saltwater food chain, a genuine but probably exaggerated problem. Sea levels, he says, are rising steadily, but why this is and what dangers it might portend "cannot be predicted until we know much more about its causes."...

... Beyond the specific points of factual dispute, Dyson has said that it all boils down to "a deeper disagreement about values" between those who think "nature knows best" and that "any gross human disruption of the natural environment is evil," and "humanists," like himself, who contend that protecting the existing biosphere is not as important as fighting more repugnant evils like war, poverty and unemployment...

... Climate-change specialists often speak of global warming as a matter of moral conscience. Dyson says he thinks they sound presumptuous. As he warned that day four years ago at Boston University, the history of science is filled with those "who make confident predictions about the future and end up believing their predictions," and he cites examples of things people anticipated to the point of terrified certainty that never actually occurred, ranging from hellfire, to Hitler's atomic bomb, to the Y2K millennium bug. "It's always possible Hansen could turn out to be right," he says of the climate scientist. "If what he says were obviously wrong, he wouldn't have achieved what he has. But Hansen has turned his science into ideology. He's a very persuasive fellow and has the air of knowing everything. He has all the credentials. I have none. I don't have a Ph.D. He's published hundreds of papers on climate. I haven't. By the public standard he's qualified to talk and I'm not. But I do because I think I'm right. I think I have a broad view of the subject, which Hansen does not. I think it's true my career doesn't depend on it, whereas his does. I never claim to be an expert on climate. I think it's more a matter of judgement than knowledge."

Reached by telephone, Hansen sounds annoyed as he says, "There are bigger fish to fry than Freeman Dyson," who "doesn't know what he's talking about." In an e-mail message, he adds that his own concern about global warming is not based only on models, and that while he respects the "open-mindedness" of Dyson, "if he is going to wander into something with major consequences for humanity and other life on the planet, then he should first do his homework - which he obviously has not done on global warming."...

... But one evening last month they sat down in a living room filled with [Dyson's wife] Imme's running trophies and photographs of their children to watch "An Inconvenient Truth" again. There was a print of Einstein above the television. And then there was Al Gore below him, telling of the late Roger Revelle, a Harvard scientist who first alerted the undergraduate Gore to how severe the climate's problems would become. Gore warned of the melting snows of Kilimanjaro, the vanishing glaciers of Peru and "off the charts" carbon levels in the air. "The so-called skeptics" say this "seems perfectly O.K.," Gore said, and Imme looked at her husband. She is even slighter than he is, a pretty wood sprite in running shoes. "How far do you allow the oceans to rise before you say, This is no good?" she asked Dyson.

"When I see clear evidence of harm," he said.

"Then it's too late," she replied. "Shouldn't we not add to what nature's doing?"

"The costs of what Gore tells us to do would be extremely large," Dyson said. "By restricting CO2 you make life more expensive and hurt the poor. I'm concerned about the Chinese."

"They're the biggest polluters," Imme replied.

"They're also changing their standard of living the most, going from poor to middle class. To me that's very precious."

The film continued with Gore predicting violent hurricanes, typhoons and tornados. "How in God's name could that happen here?" Gore said, talking about Hurricane Katrina. "Nature's been going crazy."

"That is of course just nonsense," Dyson said calmly. "With Katrina, all the damage was due to the fact that nobody had taken the trouble to build adequate dikes. To point to Katrina and make any clear connection to global warming is very misleading."

Now came Arctic scenes, with Gore telling of disappearing ice, drunken trees and drowning polar bears. "Most of the time in history the Arctic has been free of ice," Dyson said. "A year ago when we went to Greenland where warming is the strongest, the people loved it."

"They were so proud," Imme agreed. "They could grow their own cabbage."

The film ended. "I think Gore does a brilliant job," Dyson said. "For most people I'd think this would be quite effective. But I knew Roger Revelle. He was definitely a skeptic. He's not alive to defend himself..."
These excerpts don't do justice to Nicholas Dawidoff's entire piece; I recommend that readers here take the time to read the whole thing.

Kudos to the New York Times Magazine for publishing it.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org

Addendum: The Center for American Progress Action Fund's Climate progress blog has lost its mind over Nicholas Dawidoff's Freeman Dyson profile, calling Dyson's relatively tame comments about James Hansen (certainly, by the standards of Hansen, who has called for the jailing of certain global warming skeptics) "slander."

Climate Progress also blasts the New York Times' Andrew Revkin for mentioning the Dyson profile on Revkin's Dot Earth Blog, demanding that Revkin "retract his absurdly indefensible assertion that 'On climate, Mr. Dyson may be right…,'" which actually was written by Revkin as "On climate, Mr. Dyson may be right or wrong...," which is rather different, though either version is perfectly defensible.

Everybody who hasn't lost his mind knows perfectly well that climate science isn't settled; even the global warming theory proponents don't agree with one another, which is enough right there to prove that whatever the truth turns out to be (and I doubt very much anyone alive on this Earth today will live long enough to know it), the science isn't settled. If the Center for American Progress thinks the New York Times is too skeptical on global warming and that it's wrong for the Times to write of one of our nation's most prominent physicists that he "may be either right or wrong," then the Center for American Progress has pretty much gone out to lunch, having exited through the door at the far, far left.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:58 PM

Must Read: Dear AIG, I Quit! by Jake DeSantis

Please read this New York Times reprint of a letter by A.I.G employee Jake DeSantis to A.I.G CEO Edward M. Liddy.

There is much in it that hasn't been revealed by the mainstream press, to its shame (typical).

As I read it, I had this vision, a fantasy, of AIG employees picketing the homes of Members of Congress.

Won't happen.

Too bad.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:24 PM

Diverse Coalition Appeals to Congress Regarding Unjust Provisions of Omnibus Land Management Act

Readers with an interest in property rights, civil rights or simply staying out of jail for doing something one has no idea is illegal will want to review the coalition letter sent to the Congressional leadership, the Attorney General and to President Barack Obama by the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences and the National Center for Public Policy Research during the last 24 hours.

The letter was organized by John Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Boehner,

Our respective organizations have diverse viewpoints, but we share a deep and abiding belief in due process under the law. We believe that that Congress should perform careful diligence before adding violations to the criminal codes, that federal crimes should be narrowly defined and show clear criminal intent, and that the use of asset forfeiture must be narrowly tailored so that it does not unduly punish the accused before a trial has proven their guilt. As such we have grave concerns about sections of the pending Omnibus Land Management Act of 2009, which passed the Senate last week as H.R. 146, regarding "paleontological resources preservation."

These sections, now contained in the bill under Subtitle Dof Title VI, seek to empower the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior to"protect paleontological resources on Federal land using scientific principles and expertise." We understand that preventing theft of and harm to important fossils on federal land is a serious objective. However, we are concerned that the bill creates many new federal crimes using language that is so broad that the provisions could cover innocent human error. There is also, in defining the crimes, a troubling lack of words such as "knowingly" that clearly establish criminal intent as a prerequisite for prosecution. As Georgetown University legal ethicist John Hasnas has written, to serve the greater goal of justice, all criminal laws must require the government to establish that "one had to knowingly or at least recklessly act in a morally blameworthy way to be subject of criminal punishment."

H.R. 146 would make it illegal to excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface or attempt to excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface any paleontological resources located on Federal land" without special permission from the government. Penalties for violations include up to five years imprisonment. "Paleontological resources" are loosely defined as all "fossilized remains ... that are of paleontological interest and that provide information about the history of life on earth." We are troubled by this definition that paleontological organizations say could cover many common rocks that adults and children collect. The Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences has warned that with this wording, it is easy to visualize "a group of students unknowingly crossing over an invisible line."

We are also concerned about the bill's prohibition against "false labeling" of fossil specimens, an offense that also carries criminal penalties. The bill makes it a crime to "make or submit any false record, account or label for, or any false identification of, any paleontological resource excavated or removed from federal land." This broad language could criminalize innocent misidentifications, limit scientific inquiry, and infringe on the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. Fossil labeling is a complex process, and even the top museums of the world have been known to revise labeling in their exhibits upon scholarly review or new facts being discovered ..Thus, the fear of making an honest mistake in fossil labeling or even having fossil identifications proven "false" in light of new scientific discoveries could have a chilling effect on new research in paleontology.

We are pleased that the Senate recently improved provisions regarding forfeiture. Language in earlier versions of the legislation would have allowed government officials to engage in the pretrial seizure of "all vehicles and equipment of any person" accused of theft or harm to a "paleontological resource." Forfeiting a person's property without a conviction undermines the bedrock principle of our legal system: that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Past abuses of forfeiture led to bipartisan passage of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, and we had feared that these provisions would go against the spirit of these reforms. The Senate heeded our concerns with an amendment, and as passed on March 20, "vehicles and equipment" were removed from the forfeiture language, so that the forfeiture provisions apply only to the "paleontological resources" taken from federal land. This is a marked improvement, and we would oppose any attempts to reinsert forfeiture of personal property in a revised bill.

Above all, we are concerned that a bill containing new federal crimes, fines and imprisonment, and forfeiture provisions may come to the House floor without first being marked up in the House Judiciary Committee. That committee is tasked with providing centralized oversight of criminal legislation, thereby enhancing the fairness and consistency of those enactments. As such we strongly urge that the criminal provisions of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act be stripped from any final legislation until they are subject to Judiciary Committee review and amendment."

Representatives of the signatory organizations of this letter would be happy to meet with you or members of your staff to address these concerns.

Sincerely,

Caroline Fredrickson
Director
American Civil Liberties Union
Washington Legislative Office

Tracie Bennitt
President
Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences

John Berlau
Director, Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Kyle O'Dowd
Assoc. Executive Director for Policy
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

David A. Ridenour
Vice President
The National Center for Public Policy Research

Cc: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
House Majority Whip James Clyburn
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers
House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith
President Barack Obama
Attorney General Eric Holder
For more information on this issue, see this blog's previous coverage of this here and here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:40 PM

Tom Borelli on the Jerry Hughes Show - Listen Live

Tom Borelli, co-director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project with Steve Milloy, will be a guest on the Jerry Hughes Show today from 3 - 4 PM Eastern.

The Accent Radio Network show is heard on 19 stations nationwide. Click here to see if it is broadcast in your area, or click "listen live" at the top of that page to hear the interview via the Internet.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:25 PM

Enriching a Handful of Portly Middlemen

Ask one of your friends who believes in the adoption of cap-and-trade to read just one sentence against it. If they agree, send them to this Nick Loris post on the Foundry.

(By the way, the "honorable House" referred to at the beginning is our House of Representatives, believe it or not.)

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:36 PM

Massive Omnibus Public Land Management Act to See Another Vote

By R.J. Smith:
Sometime today the Omnibus Public Land Management Act will come up for its final vote in Congress. A courageous band of defenders of energy production, natural resources use, public multiple-use of the public lands, and property rights and private land ownership have tenaciously fought this massive 160+ bill package since the fall of 2007.

On Thursday 19 March the Senate completed the complicated bill switch, replacing H.R. 146 (the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act) with S.22 and then voting on that. The Senate passed the bill 77-20 (2 NV). 20 GOP voted Nay. 21 RINOs voted Yea to further shut down the West, destroy domestic energy production, lock-up tens of millions of acres of public lands in categories that much of the public will never be able to use. Destroying energy production, mining, timber harvest, grazing, and recreation.

Bad enough in normal times. Unforgiveable in a recession and energy shortage.

In addition to the 1,000 miles of new Wild and Scenic River designations there were 2,800 miles of new National Trails that will have the authority to shut down anything that can be seen from the trails that the Feds disapprove of.

Senator Reid had allowed Senator Coburn to offer 6 amendments, 5 of which were defeated, and one of which the Democrats had agreed to pass on a voice vote.

Coburn's successful amendment was to the Paleontological Resources Protection Act section of the Omnibus which would criminalize any private collection of fossils on the public lands. His amendment removed the criminalization of "casual and unintentional" collection of rocks that may contain a fossil or portion of a fossil. However, any knowing collection of a fossil is now a felony, with the Feds having nationalized all fossils on public lands and essentially closing down amateur and independent paleontological discovery, research and collection on the public lands.

But the most important provision of Coburn's amendment was that it removed the bill's draconian provisions to apply civil asset forfeiture laws to all who collect any fossils -- giving the Feds the authority to seize the vehicles and equipment and even the homes, ranches, farms and lands of amateur and professional paleontologists.

Because the original H.R. 146 had already passed the House, the complicated Senate actions sent the Omnibus and the Battlefield bill back over to the House on Monday, with the House needing only to vote to concur with the amended Senate bill.

Yesterday the House Rules Committee voted to consider it under a closed rule -- eliminating the possibility of a motion to recommit and all amendments to the bill. The House Natural Resources Committee minority members had submitted about a dozen amendments for the Committee to consider, but they were rejected. There will now be a one hour debate on the rule and then a one hour debate on the Omnibus -- and then a simple majority vote, guaranteeing that this monstrous bill will pass.

The Democrat leadership even rejected an amendment to codify the right to carry concealed weapons on National Park and National Wildlife Refuge lands -- one of the last regulations from the Bush Department of Interior. A week ago a U.S. District Court judge issued an injunction blocking the regulation. Reportedly the Democrat leadership promised the pro-gun, conservative and Blue Dog Democrats that they would bring up a stand-alone bill to restore Second Amendment rights. But it is highly unlikely that Rep. Pelosi and other extreme liberals will ever allow such a bill.

The genuine hero in the long convoluted efforts to kill this terrible bill was Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and everyone should make an effort to thank him. He kept the land-grab bottled up for almost a year and a half.

In the House, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Rob Bishop (R-UT) certainly deserve your thanks for fighting this bill in the House and for attempting to have honest and open hearings and debates on the scores of bills in the Omnibus which the House had never considered or debated.

This is another massive "mystery meat" bill with well over a thousand pages of bills which no one has read or understands. Driven by the shameful lust of Congressional members to bring pork to their districts at the expense of American freedom, energy production and security, natural resources use and the locking-out of more and more of the public from the use of their lands.

It is a step closer to making America a Third World country and a feudalistic nation with the government owning an ever-increasing majority of the land and resources.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Fellow R.J. Smith. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.

Addendum: Here's how the vote ended up.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:12 AM

Outrage of the Day: Congress Receiving TARP Funds as Campaign Contributions

Who's getting bailout money?

Michael Isikoff and Dina Fine Maron, writing in Newsweek's March 30 edition, say it just might be your Congressman:
There was plenty of outrage on Capitol Hill last week over the executive bonuses paid out by AIG after getting federal bailout money. But another money trail could make voters just as angry: the campaign dollars to members of Congress from banks and firms that have received billions via the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

A Newsweek review of recent filings with the Federal Election Commission found that the political action committees of five big TARP recipients doled out $85,300 to members in the first two months of this year—with most of the cash going to those who serves on committees who oversee the TARP program...
Businesses receiving bailout money, and/or businesses even partially owned by government, should not be making campaign or PAC contributions. Nor should Members of Congress or other candidates or officeholders accept these contributions if they are offered.

And while we're on the subject, government-subsidized or owned or partially-owned businesses should not lobby or employ lobbyists until they are privately-owned and completely off the dole.

Hat tip: Patterico.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:27 AM

George Will's 'Partial List of Recent Lawlessness, Situational Constitutionalism and Institutional Derangement'

I recommend George F. Will's column in the Washington Post and other papers Tuesday.

If it doesn't make you want to fight what's going on in Washington, nothing will.

The column begins:
With the braying of 328 yahoos -- members of the House of Representatives who voted for retroactive and punitive use of the tax code to confiscate the legal earnings of a small, unpopular group -- still reverberating, the Obama administration yesterday invited private-sector investors to become business partners with the capricious and increasingly anti-constitutional government. This latest plan to unfreeze the financial system came almost half a year after Congress shoveled $700 billion into the Troubled Assets Relief Program, $325 billion of which has been spent without purchasing any toxic assets.

TARP funds have, however, semi-purchased, among many other things, two automobile companies (and, last week, some of their parts suppliers), which must amaze Sweden. That unlikely tutor of America regarding capitalist common sense has said, through a Cabinet minister, that the ailing Saab automobile company is on its own: "The Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories."

Another embarrassing auditor of American misgovernment is...
Read it all here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:59 AM

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Sorry, Lady, Let Him Die

I made up the quote in the title, but I might as well not have.

A lady in Britain was given a parking ticket for pulling off the road to resuscitate her four-year-old son.

The local authorities were unmoved by her appeal, saying what she did was unnecessary.

Hat tip: Walter Olson and Scott Greenfield on Twitter.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:17 AM

Monday, March 23, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Turncoat Retailers Shop Card Check Compromise

As Mike Allen reports in this Politico article from Sunday night, three large retailers, Starbucks, Costco and Whole Food, are shopping around a so-called compromise on "card check" legislation, even though the position of business -- that workers should be allowed to vote on whether their own workplace should be unionized -- seems to hold the winning hand in the U.S. Senate.

(For those who haven't followed the issue, the card check bill, formally and Orwellianly known as the Employee Free Choice Act, would allow labor unions to unionize workplaces without first winning a secret-ballot vote of the workers involved.)

Opponents of the legislation, which is backed by Big Labor (naturally!), the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party's Congressional leadership, say the bill does not now have the sixty votes it needs to pass the Senate.

As Mike Allen reported:
Rhonda Bentz, on behalf of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which is working to defeat the measure, said: "Those three companies do not represent the business community’s position. Unions don't have 60 votes in the Senate [for the measure] … A compromise such as this is at best seriously misguided or at worst akin to snatching defeat out of the hands of victory."
I agree.

On a related issue, no word yet on whether President Obama will propose legislation to permit him to be re-elected if he can get 50 percent-plus-one of registered voters to call a secret phone number that will be monitored privately by the Democratic National Committee.

Hat tip: Carter Wood and Keith Smith at Shopfloor.org.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:14 AM

Barack Obama's Teleprompter's Blog

Word about Barack Obama's Teleprompter's Blog has already been all over the Internet, but I'm adding my two cents: If you haven't read it yet, consider dropping by. It's quite funny.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:08 AM

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Outrage of the Day - The Hiding of the Obama Gaffe Video

I'll concede at the outset: the video version of President Obama's TelePrompTer gaffe during the visit of Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen isn't nearly as important an issue as the economy, our undermanned troops in Afghanistan or a thousand other issues.

That said, can anyone imagine the White House press corps hiding a video of President Bush (either one) thanking himself for inviting himself over at a formal event for a visiting head of government?

Talk radio host Tammy Bruce says CNN has a copy of the tape but won't show it.

If so, why not, CNN?
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:28 PM

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Watch Tom Borelli Live on Fox's "Strategy Room" Monday

From David Almasi:
Tom Borelli, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project, is scheduled to speak about current events and breaking news as part of the group discussion on the Fox News Channel's online "Strategy Room" program on Monday, March 23 between 9:00 and 10:00 am eastern.

To access the live Internet broadcast, click here and then click the "STREAM THIS NOW" headline in the center or the page under the photo.

To learn more about Fox's "Strategy Room" Internet talk show, click here to see an article about the program that appeared in this past Monday's New York Times.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:31 PM

Outrage of the Day: The Left Calls for $60 Billion in Subsidies to Mainstream Media

Writing for the left-wing magazine The Nation, writers John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney call upon government to start funding newspapers.

They suggest $20 billion a year for the next three years to start.

Here's the core of their argument:
We begin with the notion that journalism is a public good, that it has broad social benefits far beyond that between buyer and seller. Like all public goods, we need the resources to get it produced. This is the role of the state and public policy. It will require a subsidy and should be regarded as similar to the education system or the military in that regard. Only a nihilist would consider it sufficient to rely on profit-seeking commercial interests or philanthropy to educate our youth or defend the nation from attack. With the collapse of the commercial news system, the same logic applies. Just as there came a moment when policy-makers recognized the necessity of investing tax dollars to create a public education system to teach our children, so a moment has arrived at which we must recognize the need to invest tax dollars to create and maintain news gathering, reporting and writing with the purpose of informing all our citizens.
Can you imagine The Nation fretting that declining church attendance harms society, and as a result calling for $60 billion in subsidies to America's churches? Ha!

But it's just as well.

What government subsidizes, government owns.

If you have any doubt, ask certain executives at financial institutions that received bailout money.

Publicly-funded media is a dangerous idea. We shouldn't even be funding NPR.

Hat tips: Coyote Blog and Reason Magazine.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:11 AM

New Tax Betrays the Founders, Borelli Charges

Project 21's Deneen Borelli says it's not just the issue of the ban on bills of attainder that make Congress' anti-AIG tax constitutionally suspect.

It's also unconstitutional to interfere this way in contracts:
Legislation to specifically target AIG employees with a 90 percent tax on retention bonuses directly conflicts with the founding principles of the United States, Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli charged today on the Fox News program "Strategy Room."

Saying Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from passing laws "impairing the obligation of contracts," Borelli says the AIG bonus controversy is a creation of the lawmakers who rushed bailout legislation earlier this year without due consideration.  These are the same lawmakers who now seek to hide their mistakes by pushing this new and selective tax.

"Politicians need to be reminded that we are a nation of laws.  To impose a hastily-concocted tax as a means of rectifying a problem that the government itself created and mismanaged calls their ability to lead into question," says Borelli.  "To suddenly enact a new tax to punish a few dozen people for something that was legal at the time is ludicrous, and it smacks of the British treatment of the colonists that provoked the revolt that created the United States.  Have we come full circle already?"
Read the rest here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:25 AM

Barney Frank Calls Antonin Scalia a "Homophobe"

Via CNSNews.com:
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said in an interview Friday on 365gay.com that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a "homophobe."

"At some point, [the Defense of Marriage Act] is going to have to go to the United States Supreme Court," Frank said. "I wouldn't want it to go to the United States Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia has too many votes on this current court."
I predict Justice Scalia won't call Rep. Frank any nasty name in response, which should tell us all we need to know about which of them has more class.

Some people call others names because their brain boxes are too small to permit them to think through and then articulate an idea. Barney Frank, however, is very intelligent, so we can put this one down to nastiness.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:23 AM

Friday, March 20, 2009

Outrage of the Day: MoveOn.org's Tomato Toss

Today's Outrage of the Day goes to MoveOn.org, which has responded to widespread reports of death threats against AIG employees and their families by creating an online game in which visitors who surrender their names and email addresses to MoveOn.org throw virtual tomatoes at an AIG building.

Sure, we know the tomatoes aren't real and no one got hurt in the making of this ploy to expand the MoveOn.org mailing list, but with real people being subjected to threats of violence, is this really the best time to employ virtual violence?

MoveOn.org should save its game for another day, and another issue. No doubt there will be plenty of (safe) opportunities for the throwing of virtual tomatoes over the coming four years.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:06 PM

The Need for the TelePrompTer Becomes a Little More Clear

When I said it would be a bad idea for President Obama to appear on Jay Leno's show, it didn't even occur to me that he would use the occasion to to look like he was making fun of disabled children.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:27 AM

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Outrage of the Day - Congress Treats Death Threats Lightly

Today awarded to Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) for his callous response to death threats received by private citizens, including children, employed by or related to someone employed by AIG.

Sound public policy relating to AIG - whatever that might be and not that we can expect this Congress to enact it - does not require that Congress possess the actual names of AIG employees who received contractual bonuses. Even the farcical policy of handing out money only to tax it right back (really, how ridiculous can Congress get?) does not require that Congress have these names. (The IRS would take care of collections.)

Congress leaks. And leaks. And leaks. (Usually for very selfish reasons; once in a while due to stupidity or carelessness.) Anyone who cares a fig for the safety and peace of mind of these people should just err on the side if caution and leave people's names out of the debate.

Or maybe we've just reached a place in this country in which Congress doesn't care if children are the focus of death threats.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:55 AM

Watch Deneen Borelli Live on Fox's "Strategy Room" Friday

FoxNewsStrategyRoomDB103108eby David Almasi:
Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli is scheduled to speak about current events and breaking news as part of the group discussion on the Fox News Channel's online "Strategy Room" program on Friday, March 20 between 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM eastern.

To access the live Internet broadcast, click here and then click the "STREAM THIS NOW" headline in the center or the page under the photo.

To learn more about Fox's "Strategy Room" Internet talk show, click here to see an article about the program that appeared in this past Monday's New York Times.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:19 AM

More like Chauncey Gardner than Jesus Christ

The title of this blog post is a line from Warner Todd Huston's RedState post about how President Obama has been doing so far.

It's spot on.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:35 AM

Union Forms Circle, Fires Inward

Pretty funny, but not at all surprising.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:27 AM

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Obama Tries to Bill Young Soldiers for their Own Amputations

In a spirt of miserliness at odds with his usual willingness to spend tax dollars on anything and everything, President Obama is pushing a plan that would bill veterans for health care costs related to injuries suffered in combat.

If this White House plan is adopted and current spending trends continue, service-related health care costs soon will be the only thing in America not paid for by the federal government.

President Obama recently signed a bill with some 9,000 earmarks, yet now he wants to bill young soldiers for the cost of their own amputations.

Morally, the President could not be more wrong. Politically, he's insane.

The American Legion's Craig Roberts put it very well:
[Craig] Roberts said the President's plan would increase premiums, make insurance unaffordable for veterans and impose a massive hardship on military families. It could also prevent small businesses from hiring veterans who have large health care needs, he said.

"The president's avowed purpose in doing this is to, quote, 'make the insurance companies pay their fair share,'" Roberts said. "It's not the Blue Cross that puts soldiers in harm's way, it's the federal government."
Disabled Americans Veterans agrees:
"It's a betrayal," said Joe Violante, legislative director of Disabled American Veterans, which signed the letter [veterans' groups sent] to Obama. "My insurance company didn't send me to Vietnam. My government did. The same holds true for men and women now fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's the government's responsibility."
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is making clear that it is not only veterans' groups and right-wingers like myself who find this proposal reprehensible:
"I believe that veterans with service-connected injuries have already paid by putting their lives on the line for our safety. When our troops are injured while serving this country, we should take care of those injuries completely. We shouldn't nickel and dime them with their care."
Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME) makes it clear that Murray isn't the only member of the President's party to object:
"If that is in the budget, I will not be supporting the budget. It is unconscionable and is an insult to our veterans who've been hurt overseas. So hopefully, you will give that message to OMB as it relates to third party collections for disabled veterans, which is just unbelievable that anyone would ever think of doing that..."
Congressional Republicans also staunchly oppose the plan.

Adding insult to injury, when President Obama met with veterans' groups to discuss the issue Monday, he didn't appear even to be considering their -- and our -- point of view. As meeting participant Commander David K. Rehbein of the American Legion reported:
"It became apparent during our discussion [Monday] that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan... He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it."
The least he could do -- and I literally do mean the least -- is listen to the soldiers' point of view.

But for Barack Obama, apparently, listening to the representatives of wounded soldiers is simply too much to ask.

Update 3/18/09: It appears that wiser heads (or, more likely, Congress) prevailed on the Obama White House to back down. It remains amazing that the White House floated this at all. It must be chaos over there.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:17 AM

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Outrage of the Day: President Obama's Budget

The following comes entirely from Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation:
President Obama has released a budget that would:
* Increase spending by $1 trillion over the next decade;

* Include an additional $250 billion placeholder for another financial bailout;

* Likely lead to a 12 percent increase in discretion­ary spending;

* Permanently expand the federal government by nearly 3 percent of GDP over pre-recession levels;

* Raise taxes on all Americans by $1.4 trillion over the next decade;

* Raise taxes for 3.2 million taxpayers by an average of $300,000 over the next decade;

* Call for a pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) law despite offering a budget that would violate it by $3.4 trillion;

* Assume a rosy economic scenario that few economists anticipate;

* Leave permanent deficits averaging $600 billion even after the economy recovers; and

* Double the publicly-held national debt to over $15 trillion ($12.5 trillion after inflation).
Federal spending was $24,000 per household before the recession. President Obama would raise it to $32,000 per household by 2019 (after inflation).

President Obama harshly criticized President Bush's budgets. Yet his budget actually *accelerates* Bush's policies – more runaway spending, more bailouts, and even bigger deficits.

The President is not repudiating Bushism – he's doubling down on it.

"The Obama Budget: Spending, Taxes, and Doubling the National Debt" can be found at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Budget/bg2249.cfm (click the .pdf icon for the printable version).
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:24 AM

Bad Idea: Obama to Appear on Jay Leno

Bad idea.

He's the president, not a comedian. If he doesn't infuse the office with gravitas, who else will?

Thirty years ago Jimmy Carter famously carried his own luggage in an effort to look like one of us. A few years later, people were saying his successor restored dignity to the office.

People don't want their president to be "one of us" -- they want to think their president is just a little bit better than they are (even when it's an illusion).

With no disrespect intended to Jay Leno, the President -- any President -- lowers himself if he appears on that show, or anything similar, while in office.

There will be plenty of time for that sort of thing in retirement.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:16 AM

Woman Paints Obama Tributes All Over Her Car

This is a boring story -- until you realize she's not making her car payments.

Heh.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:01 AM

Monday, March 16, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Waxman Drags Feet on Needed CPSIA Reform

Today's Outrage of the Day to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), for his refusal to hold hearings on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), legislation adopted last year (see this blog's prior coverage here and here) that has forced charities and thrift shops to toss out large volumes of used clothing and other goods, caused used bookstores to toss out children's books published before 1985, halted sales of dirt bikes, handmade toys and other children's goods, and more.

Congress adopted this law in apparent response to widespread reports of children ingesting dirt bike parts.

No, not really. Congress adopted adopted this law in part because it has no idea what it is doing (that's what happens when lawmakers vote on bills no one has read, coming from an ideological bias that the bigger government grows, the better we'll be), but that's no excuse for not revisiting the issue now that the truth is kicking many people in the teeth.

Every day this law remains unreformed, jobs get killed and books (some of which are irreplaceable) get tossed away.

You can tell that to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), though, chairman of the House Committee with jurisdiction, and he'll tell you he'll get to it later.

As Walter Olson put it on his Overlawyered blog:
...Waxman, for his part, has announced his intent to hold no hearing on the law until the Obama Administration installs a new chair at the Consumer Product Safety Commission. That serves the multiple functions of 1) stalling (while more small enterprises are driven out of business and thus are neutralized as political threats); 2) reinforcing the impression that the ball is in someone else’s court on addressing the law’s harms; 3) assisting in orchestrating whatever hearing is eventually held, since he expects an ally of his own to be installed as CPSC chair...
So now, as Overlawyered reports it, ordinary citizens are now planning their own "people's hearing" on the matter, hoping through direct action to get some relief.

It shouldn't be necessary. Congress made a huge mistake. It should admit it, and fix it.

For more on this, visit Overlawyered's CPSIA tag.

Hat tip (as if you couldn't guess): http://overlawyered.com.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:12 PM

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Harry Reid Tries Again

Today's Outrage of the Day goes to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his reported intention to try again to get the monster Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (S. 22) into law without proper deliberation.

Following the bill's defeat last Wednesday (under suspension of rules) in the House, Reid reportedly plans to try again by attaching the huge bill as an amendment to a bill, H.R. 146, "The Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act," that has already received House approval, and is to be voted on early this week in the Senate.

As National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Fellow R.J. Smith pointed out in this extensive commentary last week, it's likely that no one has read the bill-cum-amendment, as it's 1,294 pages long and nine inches thick. There have been no hearings, mark-ups or floor debate about most of it.

What's the hurry, Harry?
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:51 PM

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Obama Administration Says Some Americans Are Deadbeats

Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, we see this line in the President's budget:
"While middle-class families have been playing by the rules, living up to their responsibilities as neighbors and citizens, those at the commanding heights of our economy have not."

-Daniel Henninger, "The Obama Rosetta Stone," Wall Street Journal, March 12, 2009
Reminds me of a certain U.N. Secretary General, who considers the country he gets the most money from to be a "deadbeat" nation.

The more money an American makes, the higher his taxes are; not just in the amount of dollars, but in the percentage of his income taxed. If you pay more taxes than your neighbor, and a higher percentage of your income goes to taxes, how is it that, on the matter of taxation, your neighbor is living up to his "responsibilit[y] as a neighbor and a citizen," and you are not?

Hat tip: Tim Graham on Newsbusters.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:04 AM

Friday, March 13, 2009

Another Leftie Swears at Questioner



Looks like the lefties get mighty edgy when they get questioned.

Earlier this week we had Disney Chairman Robert Iger swearing at conservative activist Tom Borelli.  Now we have the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Charlie Rangel, asking a young man who asks him about his subsidized cars and apartments, "why don't you mind your G-- d----- business"?

I'm thinking it became the young man's business when he had to help pick up the tab.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:42 PM

Outrage of the Day: U.N. Secretary General Calls U.S. "Deadbeats"

UNFlagGoHome.jpgApparently dissatisfied with the United States paying a full 22 percent of the expenses of the ridiculously wasteful and notoriously corrupt United Nations, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon referred to the U.S. as a "deadbeat" nation while on a visit to the U.S. Congress Wednesday.

Ban effectively said that it is not only important for the United States to be the world's largest donor to the United Nations by an overwhelming margin, be perennially kicked in the teeth and insulted by U.N. proceedings, and host the United Nations here in America on some of the world's most valuable land donated by an American in a building refurbished by a massive interest free-U.S. loan, but we must also pay our dues on the timetable the U.N. specifies.

The offensiveness of the sentiment combined with the stupidity of the choice of location in which to say it makes this a whopper of a gaffe indeed.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Let us get out of the United Nations and let's kick the whiny you-know-whats out of here.

For additional commentary, see also Don Surber's "Dump Mr. Ban" on his Charleston Daily Mail blog, Jules Crittenden's "Deadbeat Nation" on the Jules Crittenden blog and Rory Cooper's "United Nations says to America: 'You're Deadbeats'" on the Heritage Foundation's The Foundry blog. Surber and Crittenden appear to be as irritated as I am; this is a quote those of us who appreciate the United Nations for what it truly is can't let die.

Let us get this one on some t-shirts.

Rory Cooper's piece should be read for information about Senator John Kerry's nauseating response, which is to give the United Nations ratification of its dangerous Law of the Sea Treaty. Kerry's obviously never going to give up his hate-America-first schtick; he must have some kind of psychological problem.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called Ban's word choice "unfortunate," and called on the U.N. to respect the rather substantial financial contributions of American taxpayers (a sentiment we hope the Administration begins to extend to domestic budgetary matters). It wasn't quite the statement I, or, I suspect, Don Surber, Jules Crittenden or Rory Cooper would have made, but considering how pro-U.N. Barack Obama is, it was a good B+ effort.

But an "F" to you, Mr. Ban.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:19 AM

Tom Borelli Interviewed on Breitbart TV About Disney Chairman's F-Bomb Attack at Shareholder Meeting - Watch Online

B-CAST031209.jpgFrom David Almasi:
Tom Borelli, director of The National Center's Free Enterprise Project, appeared on Thursday's Breitbart TV "B-Cast" program with hosts Scott Baker and Liz Stephans to discuss being verbally accosted by the CEO of the Walt Disney Company.

To access the Internet broadcast at any time, click here.

After making a presentation in favor of making the miniseries available at the company's annual shareholder meeting, Borelli, who was representing the Free Enterprise Action Fund (a Disney shareholder), tried to shake Iger's hand. Iger scowled at Borelli and said "f--- you." Borelli then returned to the podium reported the exchange to his fellow shareholders. The B-CAST plays the Disney-doctored tape, noting that, at the spot where Tom Borelli and other witnesses say he reported the expletive from the podium, the tape -- including sounds from the audience -- briefly goes mysteriously silent.

The B-CAST program also explains why the mini-series "The Path to 9/11" has become such a headache for Disney. It includes excerpts from John Ziegler's video, "Blocking the Path to 9/11."

On Thursday, Breitbart-TV also posted Disney's version of Tom Borelli's entire presentation at the meeting, as well as the Disney Chairman John Pepper's response, available here.

For more information, see National Center for Public Policy Research press releases here, here, and here.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:36 AM

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Foul Mouse! WorldNetDaily on Disney

World Net Daily has run two stories on Tom Borelli's presentation to the Walt Disney Company's annual stockholder meeting.

In Foul Mouse! Disney 'Drops F-Bomb' Over '9/11', WND columnist Joe Kovacs asks, "Did the head of the Walt Disney Company drop the F-bomb on one of its own investors at its annual shareholder meeting?" Kovacs goes on to cover Disney's denial, and our response, and includes some additional information about Disney's attitude toward the "Path to 9/11" miniseries it owns, but declines to distribute.

In the news story Disney Censors F-Bomb From CEO Iger to Conservative Activist, NewsMax recounts how the Walt Disney Company edited out of the webcast version of its March 10 annual shareholder meeting the incident in which conservative activist and Disney investor Tom Borelli received the "f-bomb" from Disney CEO Robert Iger.

The piece begins:
The Walt Disney Company has edited out of the webcast version of its March 10 annual shareholder meeting an incident in which Disney CEO Robert Iger dropped the "f-bomb" on conservative activist and Disney investor Tom Borelli.

Iger scowled at and said "f--- you" to Tom Borelli, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project, at Tuesday's annual Disney shareholder meeting after Borelli told shareholders about Iger's refusal to sell the DVD or the distribution rights of the miniseries "The Path to 9/11."

Borelli, who was attending the meeting on behalf of the Free Enterprise Action Fund, a mutual fund with which he is affiliated, had just ended his presentation and was attempting to shake Iger's hand when Iger used the phrase. Iger also refused to uncross his arms and shake Borelli's hand. Borelli, who had received applause from fellow shareholders after his presentation, went back to the podium and precisely reported to his fellow shareholders what Iger had just said, to gasps from the assembled crowd....
Read the rest here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:46 PM

Inside the Beltway Covers Disney Dustup

John McCaslin's popular Inside the Beltway column in the Washington Times today began with the Disney story:
The late Walt Disney, who in testimony before Congress accused the Screen Actors Guild of being a Communist front, must have rolled over in his grave when Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger reportedly spouted "[expletive] you" to Tom Borelli, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project, at Tuesday's annual Disney shareholder meeting.

Mr. Borelli says he just finished informing shareholders from the podium about Mr. Iger's refusal to sell the DVD or distribution rights of the miniseries "The Path to 9/11," and upon returning to his seat attempted to shake hands with Disney's CEO.

That's when the not-so-kind words were uttered. At which time Mr. Borelli says he stepped back before the microphone and quoted Mr. Iger word-for-word, which caused "gasps" from the crowd of shareholders.

"So much for the family-friendly Disney reputation," he now says in a statement released by the District-based conservative think tank and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense.

A two-part miniseries based on the federal 9/11 commission report, "The Path to 9/11" received seven Emmy nominations after airing in 2006 to large audiences over the Disney-owned ABC television network.

The think tank suggests Mr. Iger, who is labeled a longtime donor to "liberal politicians," considers the miniseries too embarrassing to officials who served in the Clinton administration.
Read the entire column here.




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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:34 AM

Breitbart.tv Posts Borelli Portion of Disney Shareholder Meeting

Breitbart.tv has posted the portion of the audio recording of the Walt Disney Company Shareholder's meeting in which Tom Borelli makes his presentation. Quite apart from the controversy regarding the expletive, Tom's full (and quite frank) presentation to the Disney shareholders will be of interest to many conservative activists, who also are likely to appreciate the fact that the assembled shareholders gave Tom strong applause.

As we noted yesterday, the audio recording the Disney Company released does not include the recording of Tom reporting Iger's remark to him after Tom concluded his presentation.

Walt Disney Company Chairman John Pepper's response to Tom is included at the end of the recording.

The entire recording runs just under nine minutes.

P.S. For those interested, the spot at which Tom returned to the podium to report to the other shareholders the comment Iger had just made to him -- the comment erased from this version of the tape by Disney -- ran from 5:52 to 5:53 on Breitbart.tv's time clock.

More specifically, the tape begins with Disney Chairman John Pepper introducing Tom. Then:

-Tom's presentation
-the applause following the end of Tom's presentation starts at 5:46
-Mr. Pepper says "thank you Mr. Borelli" at 5:50
-silence where Tom's comment about what Mr. Iger said is cut out from 5:52 to 5:53
-Mr. Pepper says "let me respond to your comments, Mr. Borelli" at 5:54
-Mr. Pepper responds until the end of the tape

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:17 AM

NY Times Blog's "Fair Analysis" of Public Lands Bill

R.J. Smith is calling this post by Kate Phillips on the New York Times Caucus blog "a pretty fair analysis" of recent Hill action surrounding the Omnibus Public Land Management Act (S. 22).
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:03 AM

Disney Issues Denial; We Respond

A spokesman for the Walt Disney Company apparently is denying that CEO Robert Iger used an expletive when conservative activist Tom Borelli tried to shake Iger’s hand following Borelli’s presentation at Disney’s annual stockholder’s meeting this week.

Our press release has the details:
Disney Spokesman Denies CEO Used "F-Bomb" to Conservative Activist; Witnesses Recount What They Saw and Heard
For Release: Immediate
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or
[email protected]
Washington, D.C. - Columnist Tommy Christopher at the AOL News website "Political Machine" reported Wednesday that a spokesman for the Walt Disney Company has denied that Disney CEO Robert Iger said "f--- you" to conservative activist Tom Borelli at the company's March 10 stockholder meeting.

Said Christopher:
"According to... the National Center for Public Policy Research, Disney CEO Robert Iger used an F-word other than Fantasia at this year's annual shareholders meeting. Conservative columnist Tom Borelli, senior fellow with the organization... claimed that Iger said "F**k you" to him at the meeting...

...Disney spokesman Jonathan Friedland, however, told me that he was 'sitting right there,' and that 'Bob didn't say anything back to him.' He also said he was 'pretty sure Bob shook his hand.' He described the episode as 'strange.'"
The following are statements from Tom Borelli, Deneen Borelli (Tom's wife and fellow of Project 21, who was present), and Steve Milloy (co-director with Tom Borelli of the Free Enterprise Action Fund, which Tom was representing at the stockholder meeting, and also of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project, who was listening to the live audio webcast of the stockholder meeting as it took place):

Tom Borelli:
"Here is what transpired.

On the way to make my statement I stopped and shook Iger's hand. He was sitting in front of the podium and because of the extra time it took for me to greet him I was late getting to the podium. In the audio recording, you can hear Mr. Pepper calling my name for a second time and asking if I'm going to be making the presentation. My first few words of my statement I mentioned I was late because I shook Iger's hand.

After I finished my presentation I again walked by Iger and offered my hand once again. He just stared at me and said 'F--- Y--.' I immediately walked back to the podium where I told the audience what Iger said to me. Passing Iger the second time, a security official was sitting right behind him and shortly after I walked by them Iger left the auditorium. He was not in the theater during the other shareholder proposals.

Finally, the shareholder that responded to my statement about the controversial nature of 'The Path to 911' defended Iger for displaying 'restraint' because he felt I launched a personal attack and he added - 'if it were me I would have probably knocked him on his rear end.'

Perhaps the Disney representative witnessed the first handshake and missed the second encounter."
Deneen Borelli:
"Mr. John Pepper, Chairman of The Walt Disney Company, opened and conducted most of the shareholder meeting. Once he completed several opening remarks, Mr. Pepper introduced Mr. Robert Iger to welcome and address the audience. During this portion of the meeting, Mr. Iger updated shareholders about company business and several sneak previews were aired introducing new Disney movies. At some point during this portion of the meeting, Mr. Iger came down from the stage and took a seat in the audience in front of the podium set up for representatives of the shareholder proposals. Mr. Iger was alone. There were several security personnel seated a few rows behind Mr. Iger.

Following the executive session of the Disney shareholder meeting, Mr. Pepper invited Tom to present his proposal. Before taking his place behind the podium, Tom stopped next to a seated Mr. Iger and shook his hand.

At some point while Tom was presenting his proposal, a woman walked past me towards Mr. Iger and took a seat to the right of Mr. Iger - either immediately next to him or with one seat in between them - where they engaged in brief conversation while listening to Tom.

Before Tom completed his presentation, the woman got up and walked away and Mr. Iger was seated alone.

Tom completed his proposal. While returning to his seat, he extended his hand to Mr. Iger. Mr. Iger did not shake Tom's hand. Then, Tom had a surprised look on his face and immediately went back to the podium and repeated what Mr. Iger told Tom."
Steve Milloy:
"I was listening to the live audio webcast. Tom completed his presentation. There was a short pause; then I heard Tom's voice. It sounded like he was near to the microphone, not at the microphone. He said, 'He just told me to go f--- myself,' or something like that.

I find it hard to believe they would deny that; there was a whole room full of people.

If you listen to the Disney version of the tape now, there's a big gap -- like Rosemary Woods. They didn't even have the brains to remove the gap. If they are going to deny it happened, they had better remove the gap.

The guy after Tom complimented Iger on being so restrained; that he would have punched Tom, I guess."
The two previous National Center for Public Policy Research press releases on this incident can be found at http://www.nationalcenter.org/PR-Disney_Iger_Censor031109.html and http://www.nationalcenter.org/PR-Disney_Iger_Shareholder031009.html. As of March 11, Mr. Christopher's column could be found at http://news.aol.com/political-machine/2009/03/11/disney-denies-ceo-cursed-out-right-wing-columnist-at-shareholder/ and a link to the archived audio webcast of the shareholder meeting supplied by the Walt Disney Company can be found at http://corporate.disney.go.com/investors/presentations.html.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:58 AM

Outrage of the Day: Kremlin Again Prosecutes Possible Putin Challenger

The ghost of Stalin smiles on Russia.

From the Wall Street Journal:
"As if his first show trial wasn't sufficiently illuminating about the rule of law in Putin-led Russia, Mikhail Khodorkovsky is back in a Moscow court this week to face fresh criminal charges.

Penned in a glass cage, Mr. Khodorkovsky can be forgiven his gaunt appearance. The former boss of Yukos, at the time Russia's largest private oil company, spent the last four years in a Siberian jail, part of the time in solitary, serving an eight-year sentence for tax evasion. Already eligible for parole, Mr. Khodorkovsky could get an additional 22 years if found guilty. Suspected of still harboring political ambitions, and a grudge, he would then be out of the way long beyond the next presidential election due in four years.

Don't hold your breath for the outcome. Russia's courts take orders directly from the Kremlin, and this trial sets a new Kafkian bar. The same prosecutor who won a state award for the first Khodorkovsky conviction came up with a thousand-plus page indictment. The main charge: That Mr. Khodorkovsky and his business partner stole the entire production of Yukos and laundered the profits. The presiding judge summarily dismissed defense lawyer motions even to consult with their clients.

A Kremlin confident about its hold on power would let this man be. Vladimir Putin has already destroyed the independent-minded oligarch who dared dabble in politics, sending a message to other tycoons about toeing the regime line...

-Editorial, Wall Street Journal, "Justice in Russia: A Confident Kremlin Wouldn't Bother With Khodorkovsky," March 8, 2009
Kudos to the Wall Street Journal for continuing to cover this story.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:09 AM

More on the Omnibus Public Land Management Act (S. 22)

R.J. Smith has expanded his remarks regarding Wednesday's defeat of the horrible Omnibus Public Land Management Act, yet another huge bill Congress voted on without reading.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:10 AM

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Disney Company Censors Shareholder Meeting Webcast Archive

There’s been a development in the Walt Disney-CEO-uses-expletive-story, as this National Center for Public Policy research press release reveals:
Disney Censors Webcast of Shareholder Meeting

Report of "F-Bomb" from CEO Iger to Conservative Activist Edited Out


For Release: Immediate
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or
[email protected]

Washington, D.C.: The Walt Disney Company has edited out of the webcast version of its March 10 annual shareholder meeting an incident in which Disney CEO Robert Iger dropped the "f-bomb" on conservative activist and Disney investor Tom Borelli.

Iger scowled at and said "f--- you" to Tom Borelli, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project, at Tuesday's annual Disney shareholder meeting after Borelli told shareholders about Iger's refusal to sell the DVD or the distribution rights of the miniseries "The Path to 9/11."

Borelli, who was attending the meeting on behalf of the Free Enterprise Action Fund, a mutual fund with which he is affiliated, had just ended his presentation and was attempting to shake Iger's hand when Iger used the phrase. Iger also refused to uncross his arms and shake Borelli's hand. Borelli, who had received applause from fellow shareholders after his presentation, went back to the podium and precisely reported to his fellow shareholders what Iger had just said, to gasps from the assembled crowd. Borelli then sat back down.

On March 11, Disney released on its website what it calls "a re-play of The Walt Disney Company's annual meeting of shareholders on March 10, 2009" at http://tw1.us/lD. A review of the webcast reveals that Borelli's report about Iger's remark to his fellow shareholders has been replaced by white noise.

Borelli's report of Iger's remark was audible, however, during the live webcast of the shareholder meeting, making it apparent that Disney personnel purposefully censored the material before posting the archived version on its website's information page for investors.

Iger's remark to Borelli appears to violate Disney's own "Standards of Business Conduct," which, as described by Iger in an open letter on the Disney website, includes, in Iger's words, "acting responsibly in all our professional relationships, in a manner consistent with the high standards we set for our business conduct." The standards also, Iger's letter says, "govern how we treat everyone with whom we have contact. These are standards of integrity... honesty... trust... respect... fair play... and teamwork." (Original at http://tw1.us/lo.)

For more information on Tom Borelli's presentation at the March 10, 2009 Disney shareholder meeting and Iger's remark to Borelli, please see the press release "Disney CEO Drops F-Bomb at Shareholder Meeting; Iger's Nasty Comment to Investor Rooted in 9/11 Miniseries Controversy," at www.nationalcenter.org/PR-Disney_Iger_Shareholder031009.html.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:35 PM

WMAL Talker Chris Plante on Disney CEO's Expletive

Chris Plante, talk show host on ABC Radio's 630 WMAL in Washington D.C. today discussed the incident in which Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Iger used an expletive to conservative activist Tom Borelli.

The following is a transcript of that segment of Plante's show:
Transcript of the Chris Plante Show, March 11, 2009

Bob Iger, Robert Iger, the CEO of the Walt Disney Corporation drops the F-bomb after it's revealed that he's still carrying water for the Clintons.

Uh, you may remember, I guess a couple of years ago now, the ABC television network, owned by the Disney Corporation, produced a miniseries that was called "The Path to 9/11." It was based on the 9/11 Commission Report and it was supposed to be a factual telling of what led to the attacks of September 11th, and what was done, and what was not done, by, primarily, the Clinton administration.

It was considered to be, in many instances, embarrassing to the Clinton administration; in particular, to Sandy "Burglar," the then-National Security Advisor, who had instructed special operations forces affiliated with the CIA to not pull the trigger on Osama Bin Laden, and, uh, and a couple of other things that they found embarrassing. Well, you may remember that the Clinton administration officials complained to ABC and to Disney, and Disney went back and kind of changed a couple of things, you know, because you certainly wouldn't want to offend any Democrat politicians. Same policy they have with Republicans, right?

Um, well, a fellow, Tom Borelli, who represents a mutual fund, speaking at the Disney Company's shareholder meeting, brought up the fact that Bob Iger, who is a contributor to Democratic causes, a supporter of the Clinton administration, and a big Dem lib, the CEO of Walt Disney, has refused to package up the very, very popular, somewhat controversial "Path to 9/11" miniseries on DVDs and sell them. Well, Tom Borelli brought that up at the shareholders' meeting. And he pointed out the fact that Bob Iger is putting politics before profits and that shareholders are being denied an opportunity to benefit from DVD sales of this ABC miniseries, "The Path to 9/11."

And he said: "Since its broadcast in September 2006, Iger has refused to profit from this project, despite its significant market potential."

"The Path to 9/11," he said, received seven Emmy nominations, had 25 million viewers over two nights, and was highly ranked in the Nielsen ratings. The first night it was number-two and on the second night it was number-one - most-watched TV programs in the country.

[He] says: "Not only has Iger decided that Disney will not to sell the DVD, he will not allow the sale of the distribution rights. Lion[s] Gate was told that, uh, distribution rights were not available," and this fellow says it's all because Bob Iger is in the pocket of the Clintons.

Well, Mr. Borelli then walked down into the audience to Bob Iger, went to shake his hand. Bob Iger crossed his arms, refused to shake his hand, and said [pause] "FU!" Although he didn't abbreviate it that way; he used the entire word - "F--- you!" So much for Disney's family-friendly...

I, I, I love this guy "Tom Borelli" at the Disney board meeting, though. He then, after Bob Iger said "F--- you!" to him, in an unabbreviated form, Borelli returned to the podium and explained to the gathered audience exactly what Iger had just said; to the gasps of the audience!
We appreciate Mr. Plante's comments, and his show as well, which -- especially since President Obama's inauguration -- has been quite invigorating.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:10 PM

Omnibus Public Land Management Act Defeated - For Now

A followup to our blog post on the Omnibus Public Land Management Act (S. 22) posted during the wee hours this morning, from the New York Times, by Eric Bontrager:
The House rejected an amended omnibus package of more than 160 public lands, water and resources bills despite a last-minute change designed to ease concerns about the bill.

By a vote of 282-144, the House failed to pass S. 22 (pdf) under a suspension of the rules, which barred any amendments from being added to the bill but also required a two-thirds majority for passage...
Read the rest here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:21 PM

Outrage of the Day: Disney CEO Swears at Conservative Activist at Shareholder Meeting

Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Iger dropped the "f-bomb" on conservative activist and company investor Tom Borelli at the Walt Disney Company's annual shareholder meeting Tuesday.

Details can be found in this National Center for Public Policy Research press release:
Disney CEO Drops F-Bomb at Shareholder Meeting

Iger's Nasty Comment to Investor Rooted in 9/11 Miniseries Controversy


For Release: Immediate

Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or
[email protected]


Washington, D.C.: Walt Disney Company CEO Robert Iger scowled at and said "f--- you" to Tom Borelli, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project, at Tuesday's annual Disney shareholder meeting.

Iger's remark came after Borelli told shareholders about Iger's refusal to sell the DVD or the distribution rights of the miniseries "The Path to 9/11."

Borelli had just ended his presentation and was attempting to shake Iger's hand on his way back to his seat. Iger, who was sitting in the audience at the time, also refused to uncross his arms and shake Borelli's hand. Borelli, who had received applause from fellow shareholders after his presentation, went back to the podium and precisely reported to his fellow shareholders what Iger had just said, to gasps from the assembled crowd. Borelli then sat back down.

"The Path to 9/11" is a miniseries based on the federal "9/11 Commission Report." The miniseries aired in 2006 on the Disney-owned ABC television network. The shareholder meeting was held at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, California.

"So much for the family-friendly Disney reputation," said Borelli. "Shareholders have a legitimate concern about the political and financial implications of Iger's actions. It wasn't until today that the depths of his contempt were revealed."

Borelli, who was attending the meeting on behalf of the Free Enterprise Action Fund, a mutual fund with which he is affiliated, registered a shareholder proposal asking the company to be more transparent about the company's political donations due to concerns about Iger possibly using the company’s assets to advance Iger’s personal political agenda. Borelli cited Disney's refusal to sell the DVD or its rights to "The Path to 9/11" miniseries as evidence of iger's bias. Iger is a long-time donor to liberal politicians and the miniseris was thought to be embarrassing to officials who served in the Clinton Administration. Withholding distribution of the DVD for personal political reasons would be a conflict with shareholder interests.

In his statement he made at the shareholder meeting, Borelli said:
Unfortunately, because CEO Bob Iger is putting politics before profits - shareholders are being denied an opportunity to benefit from DVD sales of the ABC-TV miniseries "The Path to 9/11."

Since its broadcast in September 2006 - Iger has refused to profit from this project - despite its significant market potential.

"The Path to 9/11" received seven Emmy nominations, had 25 million views over two nights and it was highly ranked in Nielsen ratings - the first night it was number-two and on the second night it was the number-one - the most-watched TV program in the country.

Clearly, "The Path to 9/11" is a valuable asset!

Not only has Iger decided that Disney will not to sell the DVD - he will not allow the sale of its distribution rights. Lions Gate was told the distribution rights were not available, and Disney has ignored repeated attempts by our company to negotiate the purchase of the miniseries distribution rights.
This is the second year in a row that Borelli has pressed Iger and Disney to release "The Path to 9/11" on DVD. Borelli has offered to negotiate to purchase the rights to the miniseries in three letters to Iger and the Disney board of directors. Disney has never replied.

Additionally, the Fund's shareholder proposal for more transparency with regard to the company's political contributions received 24 percent support.

Borelli added: "Disney truly can say it's putting people before profits - in this case, it's Bill and Hillary Clinton. Lions Gate inquired about buying the rights to 'The Path to 9/11' and was rebuffed... It's a shame that Disney is allowing these profits to slip away at a time when Disney is laying off employees."

Disney has said webcast of the meeting will be made available at http://corporate.disney.go.com.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:29 AM

Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 on House Floor Today - 170 Bills in One; Half Have Had No Hearings

By R.J. Smith:
S. 22, the giant Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, will go to the House floor today (Wednesday, March 11) under suspension of rules. This means debate will be limited to a mere 40 minutes and amendments will not be permitted. Congressmen will be asked to vote on the bill without knowing what is in the 1,294-page, 9-inch thick bill! Some 170 separate bills have all been rolled into this one omnibus. Nearly half of them have never had any hearings, review or mark-up in the House.

The major concern with the bill is the vast expansion of every sort of Federal land ownership, including new and expanded National Parks, National Trails, National Heritage Areas, National Monuments, National Conservation Areas, National Preserves, National Historical Parks, National Historic Sites, and more.

It creates 82 new Wild and Scenic Rivers including over a thousand miles of rivers.

It will also create millions of acres of new Wilderness Areas.

In addition, S. 22 will give legislative authority and statutory permanence to the National Landscape Conservation System. The NLCS was created by decree in June 2000 by then Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. It effectively removed at least 26 million acres from BLM multiple-use management, giving these lands near-Wilderness status. Federal bureaucrats and environmentalists have longed to give this new land-management system official designation, placing it on a par with the National Park System and preventing future secretaries from opening the lands to even necessary and vital energy exploration.

This massive Omnibus bill would lock up millions of acres of land at the height of an economic recession and at a time the U.S. is struggling to improve energy security. Instead of creating jobs and increasing resources, energy supplies and wealth -- it would destroy them. It will shut down cattle grazing, mining, timber harvest, energy exploration and production and recreation.

And it will add another $10-12 billion of Federal spending.

Hundreds of millions of barrels of recoverable oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas will be locked up. It will kill a vital new Liquefied Natural Gas terminal/port in Massachusetts so that Congressman Barney Frank -- who frequently rails against oil companies for pushing energy prices higher -- won't have it spoil his view.

The Omnibus creates a new Coastal and Estuarine Conservation program as well.

It also includes provsions providing Global Warming and Climate Change programs on public lands.

Under the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act it makes it a Federal crime to collect or pick up fossils or fossilized rocks on any Federal lands. It will become a Federal crime for school children to collect fossilized sharks' teeth. And in a scary twist it would extend civil asset forfeiture, permitting the government to seize ownership of all vehicles and equipment used in the gathering of any fossilized material.

The good news is that because the bill is coming up under suspension, it requires a 2/3 vote of the House of Representatives. This means only 146 votes against the bill will be sufficient to derail it.

Please spread the word about this bill and encourage people to contact their Congressman. Because it is coming up tomorrow, time is of the essence.

Thanks for your help.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Fellow R.J. Smith. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.


Update here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:01 AM

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Project 21 Chairman Meets with Irish Delegation

MMassieIrishDel030409.jpgBy David Almasi:
On March 4, Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie met with a delegation of young Irish politicians and civil servants touring the United States.

The group was in the United States as part of a program administered by the Irish Institute of the Boston College Center for Irish Programs. The mission of the Institute is to bring “officials and policymakers from Ireland and Northern Ireland for professional development programs in areas such as government, non-profit, business, and education.” The ultimate goal is “to facilitate rewarding personal, corporate, and professional educational exchanges with the goal of promoting a more lasting peace on the island of Ireland.”

This particular group was made up of people affiliated with the Ulster Unionist and Sinn Fein political parties, the Dublin City Council, the Irish Traveler Movement and the Northern Ireland Electoral Commission, among others.

While in America, the delegation met with state and federal lawmakers, diplomat and professors and opinion leaders affiliated with think tanks and activist groups. Prior to their visit with Mychal at the National Center headquarters on Capitol Hill, the delegation had met with the vice president of the National Organization for Women. They also met with the Family Research Council and Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

The spirited discussion ranged from topics of personal responsibility to the historical progression toward equality in the United States to the feasibility and wisdom of the policies of the Obama Administration. While the overwhelming majority of the delegation tended to embrace liberal politics, Mychal’s comments were well-received and appeared to have an impact on the delegation.

At the conclusion of the discussion, one member of the visiting Irishmen commented about Mychal: “I’m a liberal, but this guy is alright!”
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:28 PM

Letter to General Motors

If you haven't seen this letter to General Motors that has been circulating around the Internet for the last few months, it is worth a read.

Doesn't make the UAW or the the auto industry look very good, though.

Hat tip: R.J. Smith.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:00 PM

Outrage of the Day: State Department Claims "There's Nothing Special About Britain"

Two slaps with a rotten fish to the unnamed State Department official quoted in this paragraph in the London Telegraph:
"The real views of many in Obama administration were laid bare by a State Department official involved in planning the Brown visit, who reacted with fury when questioned by The Sunday Telegraph about why the event was so low-key.

The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: 'There's nothing special about Britain. You're just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn't expect special treatment.'"

-Tim Shipman, "Barack Obama 'too tired' to give proper welcome to Gordon Brown, London Telegraph, March 7, 2009
I call upon the Telegraph to do the United States (and itself) a gigantic favor (yes, I know, after the recent insults we don't really deserve one) and name the State Department official who made this ignorant, offensive and damaging remark. American friends of Britain want him or her fired.

Meantime, add my voice to those of the many other Americans who are profoundly embarassed that the United States treated Britain in this manner.

For additional commentary, see also: Ed Morrissey's "Great News: Obama Fumbled Brown Visit Because He’s In Over His Head on Hot Air and John Hinderaker's "Don't Blame Us: We're Incompetent! on Power Line.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:18 AM

Project 21 Hails Supreme Court Decision Against Racial Gerrymandering

Project 21 issued a press release Monday evening on the new Supreme Court decision:
Supreme Court Decision Against Racial Gerrymandering Hailed

For Release: Immediate
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or
[email protected]

Washington, D.C.: Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie today hailed a new U.S. Supreme Court decision prohibiting the use of the Voting Rights Act to supercede other laws to create predominantly black voting districts, saying the decision is a new protection against the abuse of civil rights laws for potential partisan gain.

"It continues to confound me that those whose party is responsible for preventing blacks from voting until 1964 now want to illegally redefine voting districts because it serves their best interest," said Massie. "It should go without saying that creating special black voting districts - for partisan gain or otherwise - is against the spirit of civil rights."

In the case of Bartlett v. Strickland, a 5-4 decision by the Court struck down the redistricting of District 18 in North Carolina. The prevailing concern among lawmakers involved in the redistricting process after the last census was adherence to Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. This requires the political process to be "open equally" to minority voters. In doing so, a state law prohibiting the division of counties to create voting districts was violated to raise the percentage of blacks of voting age in the new District 18 from 35 percent to over 39 percent. One of the affected counties challenged the North Carolina General Assembly's process.

This decision is important because it can prevent the political manipulation of voting district boundaries based on race. In his majority opinion, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote: "Section 2 does not guarantee minority voters an electoral advantage."

District 18, as previously drawn, gave Democrats a 59 percent to 41 percent electoral advantage among registered voters. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), however, criticized the decision as a "cramped reading" of the Voting Rights Act and a "serious blow" to civil rights.

"The only cramped reading is on the part of Leahy and his ilk. Even if his rhetoric is spoken without intended malice, his comments aid the nefarious work of partisans who seek to preserve ill-gotten political gains under the guise of promoting civil rights," added Project 21's Massie. "It's amazing the things that liberals can say with a straight face."

Project 21 is a black leadership network dedicated to promoting free-market ideals and the diversity of opinion among black Americans.

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.project21.org/P21Index.html.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:05 AM

Monday, March 09, 2009

Congress Blowing Its Next Bubble

Senior Fellow Tom Borelli has an op-ed in the D.C. Examiner: "Congress, corporate lobbyists creating Green Bubble."

It begins:
With President Barack Obama and his allies in Congress pushing for a cap-and-trade regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gases, the future of American energy is at a crossroads — and the creation of an economic “Green Bubble” is in the works.

It’s not surprising that liberal politicians embrace the cap-and-trade cause, but to many it is shocking and surprising to see corporate CEOs joining the crusade. The 21st century business model of these CEOs seems to be: “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

But their capitulation is likely to lead to history repeating itself, and not in a good way.

If there’s one lesson we all can take from the housing bubble, it’s this: The pursuit of liberal policy goals is not a sustainable business strategy.

The housing crisis developed after businesses yielded to social activism and the seduction of politically-driven and unsustainable economic incentives. It started with the Community Reinvestment Act in 1977, which encouraged banks to lend in poor neighborhoods. The Clinton administration later lowered credit standards, and set subprime lending quotas for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the leftist advocacy group, also pressured banks to make loans, and Congress skewed laws to encourage lenders to give mortgages to buyers with poor prospects for ever repaying them.

With the game rigged to make unsound lending practices profitable over the short-term, Wall Street was happy to play in this government-constructed casino. For a time, it was a win-win situation.

Profits were made, ACORN was pacified and lawmakers deemed lenders “responsible” for providing loans to low-income households with nary an eye cast to the soundness of it all. But when the over-inflated housing market collapsed, all the fun came to a crashing halt.

Yet, like hard-core gambling addicts, some CEOs haven’t learned their lesson. Instead of returning to selling good products at market prices, they want to go back to the craps table. They’re lobbying Congress to create yet another “bubble” in which government regulatory policy creates artificial value, this time in a ubiquitous gas, carbon dioxide.

Call this forthcoming disaster the “Green Bubble,” for it’s based on the notion that fortunes can be made buying and selling something for which there is no real-world market, greenhouse gas emissions credits...
Read the rest here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:14 PM

Outrage of the Day: Rep. George Miller's "Dirty Money"

Rep. George Miller (D-CA) has long been known for carrying water for labor unions. Now Kevin Mooney of the D.C. Examiner asks if he's carrying dirty union money around, too:
"WHO: Rep. George Miller, D-CA, chief House sponsor, Employee Free Choice Act (aka Card Check).

WHAT: Miller received the following dirty money: Communication Workers of America (PAC) $10,000 in 2008 cycle; $10,000 in 2006 cycle; Boilermakers Union (PAC) $10,000 in 2008; $6,500 in 2006. American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) $2,500 in 2008; $1,500 in 2006. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) $10,000 in 2008; $10,000 in 2006.

WHY IT'S DIRTY: At least eight members of these four unions have been convicted since 2001 of felonies ranging from embezzlement, falsifying official reports to government, mail fraud and conspiracy."

-Kevin Mooney, "Dirty Money: Rep. George Miller," D.C. Examiner, March 9, 2009
Mooney reports that Miller is ignoring media inquiries on the matter.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:10 AM

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Outrage of the Day: U.S. To Pay Legal Bills of U.N. Official It Seeks to Prosecute

The United Nations has agreed to pay the legal fees of Benon Sevan, former head of the U.N.'s scandal-ridden Iraq Oil-for Food program.

Sevan has been charged in the United States with bribery and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, but has been hiding in Cyprus.

Because the United States pays approximately one quarter of the United Nations' expenses, about 25 percent of Sevan's legal fees will be paid by American taxpayers.

For more information, see: Nile Gardiner, Ph.D. and Steven Groves, "Oil-for-Food Revisited: The U.N. Should Not Pay Benon Sevan's Legal Fees," The Heritage Foundation, February 24, 2009.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:10 AM

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Al Gore Claims Global Warming Theory is Not a Theory

Al Gore on the global warming theory not being a theory:
"The scientific community has gone through this chapter and verse. We have long since passed the time when we should pretend this is a 'on the one hand, on the other hand' issue. It’s not a matter of theory or conjecture, for goodness sake."

-Keith Johnson, "A Heated Exchange: Al Gore Confronts His Critic(s)", Wall Street Journal Environmental Capital Blog, March 5, 2009
Comment: We all know Al Gore is too attracted to the politics of control and his own celebrity status to accurately report facts about global warming, but it he could at least get the definition of "theory" right.

And sorry, Al. Just because you appear to believe in it with all your heart doesn't mean it's been proven. Even Albert Einstein was satisfied to have developed the Theory of General Relativity. If Einstein could live with the word "theory," you should be able to manage it as well, Al.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:09 PM

Friday, March 06, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Dow Down 50 Percent Since Obama Inauguration

"The Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen 20 percent since Inauguration Day, the fastest drop under a newly elected president in at least 90 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg."

-Eric Martin, "'Obama Bear Market' Punishes Investors as Dow Slumps," Bloomberg.com, March 6, 2009
Hat tip: Drudge Report.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:01 PM

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Carol Browner: Dictating Climate Policy Like Caesar of Old

An op-ed by David Ridenour on President Obama's choice of Carol Browner to serve as a so-called "climate czar" has appeared in newspapers nationwide, including this version from Investor's Business Daily:
Climate Czar Will Reign Like Caesar Of Old

By David A. RidenourDavid Ridenour

President Obama vowed to set a new direction of ethics and transparency in government and with his selection of Carol Browner as climate control czar. Unfortunately, her steadfast belief in the far-left policies of extreme environmentalism make that vow impossible to achieve.

An environmental zealot, Browner has so much baggage she could be an airline. But then, maybe not. For despite Browner's best efforts, some of her baggage simply won't stay lost.

Carol Browner is the right person to drive expansion of the state under Barack Obama.

The Washington Examiner recently discovered that she was one of 15 original members of the Commission for a Sustainable World Society, a branch of the Socialist International, an organization linking socialist and labor parties throughout the world.

Among other things, its Declaration of Principles 'demands compensation for . . . social inequities.' That's another way of saying that if you've prospered because of ingenuity or hard work, be prepared to give a lot of it away to those who haven't.

The issue isn't that Browner is a socialist. We crossed the socialism bridge — a real bridge to nowhere — when we sent a man to the White House who promised to spread our wealth around.

The real issue is the attempt to hide this fact from the public. Browner's photograph, which once appeared alongside that of close Vladimir Putin ally Sergei Mironov, was quietly removed from the Socialist International's Web site after the Examiner's story broke. Much like the trillions of dollars in bailouts and economic stimulus, it's as though Browner never existed.

This isn't transparent government, but all-too-transparent politics. Browner has a lot more baggage, too.

Throughout her years as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the Clinton administration, EPA officials routinely violated the Anti-Lobbying Act — a law prohibiting federal employees from using agency money for 'telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress.'
In 1995, the EPA flagrantly violated that law when it lobbied against the Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act, a bill that would have curbed some of the EPA's worst abuses.

As James Hinchman, comptroller general of the United States, noted, EPA officials 'distributed EPA fact sheets to various organizations' and 'directly lobbied the Congress.' Not only that, but an EPA regional administrator wrote a strong op-ed designed to stop the bill's passage.

Four years later, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., accused the EPA of violating the Anti-Lobbying Act again. Byrd — who has made a career of steering pork to his state — complained that the EPA's Transportation Partners Program was coordinating and funding anti-road lobbyists against the law and his state's interests. Browner was forced to terminate the program.
The following year, Browner was at it yet again. This time, her agency was accused of allowing special interests to improperly influence last-minute — so-called midnight — environmental regulations.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ordered the EPA to preserve communications with such groups. Instead, Browner had her computer hard drive re-initialized, wiping it clean. Lamberth then held the EPA in contempt for 'contumacious conduct.'
As little respect as she's shown for the law, Browner has shown even less for science. During her years at the EPA, agency scientists who didn't toe the party line were subjected to relentless harassment.

David Lewis, an EPA Science Achievement Award recipient, publicly criticized the quality of science used in crafting regulations. In response, the EPA charged Lewis with ethics violations and repeatedly denied him promotion. Although he won whistle-blower judgments against the EPA, he was eventually forced into retirement.

The term 'czar' comes from the Latin word caesar — as in Julius Caesar, the Roman leader who proclaimed himself dictator perpetuo (dictator in perpetuity) and oversaw massive expansion of government bureaucracy.

If a czar is actually what President Obama was looking for, Carol Browner may have been the perfect choice, after all.

Ridenour is vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative, nonpartisan think tank.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:44 PM

Tom Borelli to Speak With G. Gordon Liddy About Taxpayer-Subsidized Cap-and-Trade Lobbying Campaign - Listen Live!

Watergate burglariesImage via Wikipedia

By David Almasi:
Tom Borelli, co-director with Steve Milloy of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project, will be a guest on the syndicated G. Gordon Liddy show today, Wednesday, March 4 at 10:30 AM Eastern.

Tom will be discussing this press release, which talks about how major banks lobbying for the cap-and-trade policy to regulate our nation's fossil fuel use are also recipients of taxpayer-funded bailout money.

You can listen live online by clicking here and clicking the "listen live" tab in the center for the page.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:48 AM

Monday, March 02, 2009

No Coal! No Oil! No Power! No Heat!

StopGlobalWarmingIceScraper030209.jpg
Anti-global warming protester uses a "Stop Global Warming" sign as an ice scraper at rally at the U.S. Capitol coal-fired power plant Monday

"We don't want the world to boil, no coal, no oil!"

There was no chance, despite the warning of this protest chant, of anything boiling outside in Washington, D.C. today. Global warming activists who threatened "mass civil disobedience" in the nation's capitol Monday probably never expected to be competing with the biggest snowfall of the season.

SnowySolarPanel030209.jpg
Not going to get much power from this snowy solar panel...

Yet this seems to happen every time the global warming activists plan a major event to talk about how hot our planet is going to get. (For more information about this practice, see the children's story "Chicken Little.")

LightBulbsDontWork030209.jpg
...as the non-functioning light bulbs supposedly powered by that solar panel demonstrate.

Hundreds of activists - mostly students, from the looks of it - were protesting Nancy Pelosi's private coal-fired power plant. It's the plant that powers the Capitol complex. Until recently, Pelosi and company pretended to have a carbon-neutral Congress by using taxpayer dollars to buy "carbon offsets" that essentially gave them little more than peace of mind. This practice has since been discontinued. An analysis found it might not be doing any good, and they no longer have faith in throwing money at their embarrassment (now, if we can get them to expand this line of thinking to their spend-and-tax agenda).

Almasi_Carlin030209.jpg
David Almasi and Devon Carlin of the National Center for Public Policy Research

Anyway, the Competitive Enterprise Institute enlisted the help of The National Center for Public Policy Research, FreedomWorks and other groups to point out that coal and oil provide plentiful and affordable energy to average Americans. Energy bills are up this year, and there is no way wind and solar - the darling energy-generation methods of today's protestors - are going to provide people with the amount of energy they need at the prices they can afford.

CoalRallyB030209.jpg
Where's James Hansen?

No one is against new and alternative sources of energy, but it's their way or the highway in the minds of these protestors. If they are successful, expect bigger bills and energy shortages in the future.

This blog post was compiled largely from notes compiled by David Almasi.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:34 PM

Copyright The National Center for Public Policy Research