masthead-highres

Friday, April 09, 2010

Our Bart Stupak Story

Bart Stupak: Good riddance to a dangerous Congressman.

Most of you will suppose I'm referencing Bart Stupak's double-cross of the pro-life movement, but that's not the only thing. In the late 1990s, Stupak tried to have this institution charged with a federal crime for publishing materials inconvenient to the left on health care issues.

Up to then, I had naively supposed prosecutors didn't investigate policy disagreements in America.

The issue in question was Section 4507 of the 1997 Balanced Budget Act, which prohibited Medicare patients from contracting privately with medical doctors unless the doctor opted out of the Medicare system for at least two years, among other requirements.

Here's how Steve Forbes described it in the American Enterprise Institute's magazine (11/1/97):
...buried in the 1,200-page budget bill is a nasty, little-known provision, Section 4507, that begins to write socialized medicine into law. Starting January 1, 1998, American doctors will effectively be prohibited from treating elderly patients on a private basis outside of the Medicare program.

The government health care bureaucracy had already been using its regulatory powers to forbid doctors who accept Medicare patients from also treating senior citizens who choose to pay out of-pocket. Republicans originally tried to insert into the budget agreement a provision that would overturn this regulation, but President Clinton protested and the Republicans caved in.

Since over 90 percent of doctors accept Medicare patients, this law makes it nearly impossible for seniors to find a doctor who will also treat them on a private basis, outside Medicare's rules and regulations. Only doctors in the very wealthiest areas will be available to seniors hoping to engage in private health care between consenting adults. Astonishingly, even Britain, mother of socialized medicine, allows patients to contract privately with physicians. Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) is leading the charge to repeal Section 4507. He points out that the current law is the equivalent of forbidding everyone enrolled in Social Security from also investing his own money privately with stockbrokers: Such a law "would be met with disbelief and derision," yet it is no different from what the new Medicare law does.
To seniors, especially those not living in big cities, this had the effect of making some medical procedures unavailable to them unless they travelled long distances, as in small towns there might not be a single doctor providing the services they desired who also was willing to forgo treating anyone receiving Medicare for two years.

To conservatives, this provision was a step forward for government control of medicine and a violation of the civil rights of senior citizens.

To liberals, including the Clinton Administration, it was a way to restrict private involvement in health care. They further argued that doctors would overcharge vulnerable seniors for services, and that it would be better for seniors to be denied certain services entirely than to risk being overcharged privately.

Section 4507 received scant public attention when the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 was adopted, but seniors soon began to report difficulties. Simple and inexpensive tests sought by people with diabetes or concern that they might have diabetes, for example, were not in all circumstances covered by Medicare, and now seniors could not get them unless they found a doctor who had entirely opted out of Medicare. Similarly, men over 65 were barred from privately contracting with doctors for screening tests for prostate cancer, although Medicare did not cover these tests for men without symptoms. And there were other examples.

We, along with several other institutions (not all of them conservative), began to call attention to the detrimental impacts of Section 4507 on seniors. One think-tank published a book. Another published numerous papers and held at least one symposium. A seniors group filed suit in federal court on civil rights grounds. And a U.S. Senator (Jon Kyl) and the then-chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee (Bill Archer) introduced joint legislation to repeal Section 4507.

Our work on this was routine for a think-tank. We published informational materials on it for the public and policymakers (for example, this, posted online at that time), press materials (for example, here) for talk radio hosts and editorial writers, and collected petitions from the public about Section 4507 and sent them to Congress.

Routine work, that is, until we got a phone call from a federal investigator. Rep. Bart Stupak, we were told, had a received a copy of some of our materials and had contacted law enforcement, alleging that the Section 4507 did not do what we claimed it did, and that our claims constituted mail fraud.

To me, this was preposterous, and as I was naive back then, I told the investigator to come over, and I'd share information about the provision with him. I didn't contact legal counsel, as I did not want to waste donors' money on such a ridiculous and (I thought) easily-rebutted allegation.

The investigator came over, and I showed him the book, and the policy papers by other institutions, and information about the Kyl-Archer bill to repeal, and press materials by the seniors group that had filed suit in federal court. The investigator, however, was unmoved. Just because other groups are saying the same thing you are, he said, doesn't make you right. Instead, he said, it is evidence of a conspiracy.

I was taken aback, as one might expect, and the investigator added his coup de grace: the Congressional Research Service says all of you are wrong on this, he said, and what did I have to say to that? He made it clear he considered the CRS the final authority, and believed that publishing anything to the contrary and mailing it would constitute mail fraud. I hadn't read what the CRS said, so I couldn't comment on its position. The investigator left, and faxed me the CRS document soon after, with a cover note that wasn't promising. The CRS document itself, however, was: The CRS agreed with our position entirely.

None of this should have happened, but it didn't end there. Before long, we received a subpoena from the U.S. Justice Department requiring us to turn over all documents, communications, etc. relating to our work on Section 4507. We complied, and also involved counsel. Our attorney phoned the Justice Department attorney whose name was on the subpoena and pointed out that First Amendment protects our right to publish as we see fit on public policy issues. In fact, he said, the investigator's entire line of questioning as to whether our papers were correct was inappropriate, as people have a constitutional right to publish things the government disagrees with. The Justice Department attorney told him she in fact agreed with him, but that, because of superiors, her hands were tied on the case. So we had to consider ourselves under active investigation.

We didn't hear anything from them for about two years (to the best of my recollection, between the 2000 presidential election and Bush's inauguration), when the DOJ returned all our subpoenaed documents. We never found out anything more about who at DOJ had considered the case worth investigating, but we couldn't help thinking it was someone inclined to discourage conservative groups from working on health care. No charges were ever brought.

So now that Congressman Bart Stupak, whose office thought it was perfectly proper to sic federal law enforcement on a conservative organization simply for publishing perfectly accurate materials inconvenient to the liberal big-government position, has decided to retire, I say good riddance. We don't need any Congressmen, on the left or the right, who believe in criminalizing policy disagreements, and who oppose the people's right to free speech.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:53 PM

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Britain Censors Climate News

ASALogo.png...but maybe not in the way you expect.

It seems Britain's independent, non-governmental Advertising Standards Authority, charged with monitoring advertising for truthfulness, has banned advertisements by Britain's Labour government for exaggerating the risk posed by greenhouse gas emissions.

The ads claimed heat waves, storms and floods will become more "frequent and intense" thanks to "climate change."

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled it is impossible for the government to make such a claim with certainty.

ADDENDUM: Here's what the banned ads look like (open in another window to enlarge):

BritishGovJackandJillb031610.png


BritishGovRubaDub031610.png

The ruling doesn't mean the government has stopped telling mis-truths about global warming, however. For example, on a webpage entitled "Climate change myths and misconceptions," the British government claims climate regulations will lower the cost of energy:

actonco2.direct.gov.uk-031510.png

If this were true, the market would take care of the matter without the need for government interference.

I don't mean to single out the British government, however. Our own lies about global warming rather often.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:38 PM

Monday, March 01, 2010

Did Charles Rangel Vote for Sarbanes-Oxley?

Yes, on July 25, 2002, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) voted to agree to the conference report for the Corporate and Auditing Accountability and Responsibility Act, better known as Sarbanes-Oxley.

If you just came back from a deserted island, Rep. Rangel has been admonished by the House Ethics Committee for breaking House rules regarding corporate sponsorship of Congressional travel; Rep. Rangel's defense is that he didn't know corporations paid for his travel, his staff did, and he shouldn't be held responsible for the actions of his Congressional staff.

Under Sarbanes-Oxley, corporate CEOs can be held criminally responsible for signing false reports, including reports prepared by staff (as most are).

Regardless of the double-standard Rangel seeks to hide behind, Peter Flaherty of the National Legal and Policy Center -- which broke the Rangel scandal in the first place and is still the best source of information on it -- says it simply is not credible that Rangel didn't know he was violating House rules by accepting direct corporate support for his travel.

Go here to visit the National Legal and Policy Center's website, which shows pictures of Charlie Rangel at the Caribbean conference, facing a sign listing the conference's many corporate sponsors.

Perhaps next the Congressman will claim he cannot read?

In related Charlie Rangel-scandal news, House Democrats are increasingly pressuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to ask Rangel to step down from his post as chairman of the uber-powerful House Ways and Means Committee.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:57 PM

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Bizarre Climategate Update #4: IPCC Chairman Wishes Painful Death Upon Critics

ALT TAGQuestion this report, and a top UN official will wish you dead


Under fire for the Glaciergate, Amazongate and Please-Fund-My-Institute-Gate sectors, among others, of the ever-broadening Climategate scandal, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (and a man who cares so much about global warming, he doesn't use his free electric car because it isn't big enough for his chauffeur), has now all but wished a slow and painful death upon his critics.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Pachauri said:
I don't want to get down to a personal level, but all you need to do is look at [my critics'] backgrounds. They are people who deny the link between smoking and cancer; they are people who say that asbestos is as good as talcum powder - I hope that they apply it to their faces every day - and people who say that the only way to deal with HIV/Aids is to screen the population on a regular basis and isolate those who are infected.
Typical of IPCC research, everything here except, presumably, Pachauri's wish that we would put a carcinogen on our faces daily is an invention, and a strikingly obvious one at that.

The man doesn't even lie well.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:05 PM

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bizarre Climategate Update #3: IPCC Chairman Writes Racy Novel

ALT TAGThe IPCC's last assessment report (AR4), which contained major errors and dubious sourcing

And based on the excerpts, it's a really bad sexy novel...

...though if your taste runs to novels with 60-something male protagonists who hop in and out of bed a lot, you might forgive the wooden prose.

The rest of us will just have to see the book's existence as a possible explanation for why the IPCC chairman "didn't notice" the many errors and non-peer-reviewed sources in the last IPCC report.

Others commenting: Climate Audit, The Reference Frame, The Dog Ate My Data, Tom Nelson.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:50 PM

Bizarre Climategate Update #2: Prince Charles Supports Lawbreaking Science Unit


After the British government's Information Commissioner's Office concluded the Climate Research Center at the University of East Anglia violated Britain's Freedom of Information Act law, Prince Charles visited to show his support...

...that is, he showed support for the Climate Research Unit, not the Information Commissioner (the report starts at 4:16 in the video).

Surprising to me, the prince specifically met with Phil Jones (reported at 5:21 in the video), the head of the unit (on leave since the scandal broke) and the man most under fire for the FOIA violation.

Typically in these bad-PR situations an institution will get rid of problem-causers first, and then bring the bigwigs in for a photo op expressing support for the replacement team. Fresh start, break with the past, that kind of message.

Seems Prince Charles doesn't see a need for a fresh start.

John O'Sullivan on Climategate.com has another detail about the prince's visit. Reportedly, the prince told the Climategate team:
Well done all of you. Many, many congratulations on your work. I wish you great success in the future. Don't get downhearted by these little blips here and there!
Well done?

Blips?



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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:09 PM

Bizarre Climategate Update #1: Turns out There is No Statute of Limitations on British FOIA Violations

LondonTelegraphTLogo.png

Christopher Booker at the London Telegraph reports the British government office that determined the University of East Anglia violated Britain's Freedom of Information Act was wrong when it claimed it could not prosecute due to a statue of limitations.

I reported the original claim here; more detail on what this may mean can be found on Climategate.com.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:43 PM

Friday, January 29, 2010

Did 60 Senators Violate the Law?

James O'Keefe has been charged under Title 18, Section 1036 of the U.S. Code, which prohibits persons from entering "any real property belonging in whole or in part to, or leased by, the United States... by any fraud or false pretense."

My question is, why hasn't Landrieu been arrested? Didn't she take an oath to uphold the Constitution, but then vote for a health care bill with unconstitutional provisions on December 24?

Didn't all the 60 Senators who voted for it violate the law when they entered their publicly-owned offices on December 24?

Tell you what... Dismiss the charges against O'Keefe and give the 60 Senators a pass this time on their "fine... or imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both..."

Or charge the Senators, too.

I'm fine with it either way.

Written by David A. Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. As we occasionally reprint letters on the blog, please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private, or only published anonymously.

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Posted by David A. Ridenour at 6:38 PM

Monday, January 25, 2010

Three Steps the IPCC Must Take

IPCCLogo.jpgIn the wake of admissions the IPCC knew all along it was putting bogus science in its 2007 Assessment Report, that the false prediction was included specifically for its "impact on policymakers and politicians," and that this allegedly was covered up as long as it was because the IPCC chairman was raising money for his personal pursuits based on the prediction, the IPCC must immediately take three steps to restore its credibility. If it does not, the Obama Administration should use its influence to have it shut down.

To restore its credibility, the IPCC should:
1) Return its half of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize and replace its current leadership;

2) Adopt and enforce a strict conflict-of-interest policy;

3) Adopt an uncompromising transparency policy, which includes the release of all data, all emails, all meeting minutes, all drafts and all other documentation related to the development of assessment reports and all other policy pronouncements, in the past and from this date forward.
Step one would signal to the world that the IPCC is serious about reform.

Step two would reduce, though not eliminate, the temptation faced by IPCC personnel to tailor conclusions to moneymaking, career or fundraising opportunities for themselves or affiliated businesses or institutions.

Step three would be a constant reminder to IPCC personnel that their work genuinely will be peer-reviewed, in a universal sense, which is as it should be given the gravity of the IPCC's work.

Politicians relying upon IPCC recommendations are considering policies that would limit the access of billions of people to low-cost energy in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This is a grave step that should be undertaken only if the alternative is worse. As many have considered the IPCC to be the institution that can answer that question, given the gravity of these circumstances, no level of transparency and ethics can be too high.

Global warming believers and "skeptics" do not often agree, but this is a subject upon which we should be able to reach a true consensus. No one benefits when the IPCC knowingly publishes bogus science.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:56 AM

Sunday, January 24, 2010

IPCC Breaking Scandals: Where to Get News

ClimateDepotTomNelsonPlainPNG.pngNews is breaking fast and furiously in the breaking IPCC scandal. We'll have more to say about it shortly, but won't have time for a full roundup of links to news about all the breaking events. For that, I strongly recommend visits to Climate Depot and Tom Nelson.

Don't go to one; go to both.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:37 PM

Message to IPCC: Time to Return the Nobel Peace Prize

Kids holding candlesChildren in Kenya light candles to illustrate the need for access to energy in their community. Many of the pictured children cannot do homework at home after dark, as they do not have electricity in their homes. Photo by David Ridenour

The relevant scientist at the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has now admitted false information on the alleged aggressive melting of Himalayan was placed in the 2007 IPCC report to "impact policy-makers and politicians," and that he knew the information was not based on a solid scientific foundation.

For this work, the IPCC won half the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 (sharing it with Al Gore, who was awarded half in his own right).

For committing this fraud, the IPCC should voluntarily return the Nobel Peace Prize, and, if they want the IPCC to ever have credibility again, people who believe in the global warming theory should join us in this call. Unless there are severe repercussions -- in the case of the IPCC, mostly embarrassment -- for intentionally committing scientific fraud, we'll get more and more of it. There is money to be made if the global warming theory is proven true, which leads to a lot of temptation that not every scientist or allegedly scientific organization is going to resist.

The stakes are high here: People in developing countries need low-cost access to energy to reach the living standards we in the U.S. mostly take for granted. Policies to combat carbon raise energy prices, retarding that development.

Anti-global warming policies also disproportionately hurt the poor in developed countries.

To be brutally frank, our politicians have enough trouble delivering sound energy policies when they do have access to accurate information; the odds get significantly higher when scientists intentionally feed them lies.

To prove it has learned its lesson (and thus is worthy of being trusted in the future), and to send a strong message to every scientist that deceit will not be tolerated, the IPCC should immediately return its half of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Furthermore, it should accept the resignation of its chairman and clean house, top-to-bottom, putting a strong error-checking and strict anti-conflict-of-interest system in place.

Addendum: Noel Sheppard of Newsbusters points out that this story was broken by the British press, and chastises the U.S. mainstream media -- quite properly -- for ignoring important global warming-related stories their counterparts abroad cover deeply. For additional developments on this breaking story (and there are plenty of them), visit Climate Depot.

Addendum 2: We may be looking at a criminal case.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:44 AM

Friday, January 08, 2010

Three Questions for the Congressional Leadership

MPatterson102209b.jpgAre you "open," "honest," and ethical"? These are three questions National Center for Public Policy Research Policy Analyst Matt Patterson asks the Congressional leadership in a new paper just out today.

The paper, "Bad Faith & Broken Promises: Accountability and Transparency Casualties of Health Care Debate," asks:
* Is it "honest" to hide the true cost of your legislation with budgetary gimmicks in which three years of new taxes precede the bulk of the spending, making your program seem more affordable than it really is in an artificial budgetary window?

* Is it "open" for the Congressional leadership to "secretly craft the final bill behind closed doors," far from the prying eyes of the press, the public, and the rest of Congress, or to have important procedural votes in the middle of the night, or pass critical legislation on Christmas Eve, when most sane people are blissfully distracted from the machinations on Capitol Hill?

* Is it "ethical" to buy the votes of recalcitrant members of your caucus with hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars in backroom deals, such as "the inclusion of $100-$300 million in added federal aid for Medicaid recipients in Louisiana, the home state of Sen. Mary Landrieu," in return for her vote, or the offer to Senator Ben Nelson of "a permanent exemption from the state share of Medicaid expansion" for his home state of Nebraska, in exchange for his vote?
"Despite promises made by Congressional leaders, they have shepherded health care legislation through Congress in a manner that is demonstrably secretive, unethical and dishonest," Matt says. "Promise after promise made by the Congressional leadership to conduct an open, bi-partisan process to reform health care has been shamelessly broken. It's really quite astounding; Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama, don't even try to pretend to hold to their many and frequent promises to conduct open and fair negotiations to reform American health care."

Matt concludes: "The question we have to ask ourselves is: Why have they done this in secret? What is it about this process that they don't want the public, the press, or even fellow members of Congress to see?"


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:19 AM

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Media Matters Tries to Blame Climategate on Exxon Mobil, Fails Utterly

MediaMattersActionNetworkLogo.jpgThe Media Matters Action Network has a page up claiming we at the National Center for Public Policy Research are "doing everything in [our] power" to draw "attention to the so-called 'Climategate' scandal" and implying that the fact that Exxon Mobil has donated to us is the reason.

What dishonest dopes. We've barely touched on Climategate. A few sentences here and there. In fact, given the gravity of the scandal, we really should have done more.

Media Matters is trying to claim it is relevant that handful of groups that have in the past received funding from Exxon Mobil have mentioned Climategate, which is a huge, major story (not broken by any of these groups, incidentally) repeatedly covered by every major newspaper in the English-speaking world and in many many newspapers and other media elsewhere. Hello? Are all the major papers in Britain, including the openly left-wing Guardian and its most famous ultra-green columnist (who takes Climategate very seriously indeed), in the pockets of Exxon Mobil?

Sorry, Media Matters, your desperate ploy won't work. Climategate has shown the unreliability and unprofessionalism of some Ph.Ds the U.N.'s IPCC and other organizations -- including yours, Media Matters -- have relied on for many years to help prove to the world that massive job-killing, government-growing treaties and policies are necessary. This is YOUR scandal, not ours, and even if you put a nice pretty red bow on it, we aren't going to accept it from you as a gift.

Yes, Exxon Mobil has contributed to us and we appreciate its support as we do the support we receive from any of our 100,000+ supporters. (Without Exxon Mobil, the whopping approximately 1.5 percent of our annual revenue that comes from corporate sources would be a little smaller. How much corporate support do you get, Media Matters?)

But Exxon Mobil's funding does not specifically support our work on climate nor has the corporation suggested in any way, shape or form that we mention, promote, acknowledge or otherwise notice Climategate, a scandal that is getting worldwide attention because it is newsworthy.

And we remind Media Matters that the only reason Media Matters knows about Exxon Mobil's gifts to public policy institutions is because Exxon Mobil and many of the recipient foundations (including us) freely and voluntarily disclose this information. (Does Media Matters CEO David Brock voluntarily disclose which corporations and special interests help pay for his nearly $300,000 salary?)

Which reminds me. Media Matters found eight public policy groups that have received at least one contribution from Exxon Mobil since 2001 that either have mentioned Climategate or, in the case of one, are affiliated with an individual who wrote a story about Climategate in an unaffiliated opinion journal (wow, there's a smoking gun for you). Here's a seven-page list of all the public policy institutions that received gifts from Exxon Mobil in 2008 alone. Over 130 institutions, some of them very liberal, are listed, and yet Media Matters could only find eight public policy groups receiving such gifts since 2001 that have mentioned Climategate or work with someone who has? Only eight?

P.S. to Media Matters: Have you guys apologized yet for promoting environmentally-useless climate policies that can hurt people based on unverifiable information? People really do rely on the jobs you want to kill, you know.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:14 AM

Sunday, August 30, 2009

What's Happening Now

What would John Jay do?

Obama and Kennedy "weren't that close." We could tell from Obama's eulogy.

Laws covering certain major campaign supporters will not be enforced, Obama Labor Department says. Equal justice under law is "the animating ideal of our democracy," says Obama. We aren't feeling animated today.

Ed Morrissey, optimist: "We've spent enough on the UAW, thank you very much." Realist: We'll never stop paying for the UAW.

Moe Lane/RedState: "Sometimes, I miss Tony Blair." Me, too, but I suspect it's because we live here.

Ed Driscoll: "It can't happen here." Or it can.

Nice enough to make you want to be a cave dweller.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:02 AM

Friday, August 07, 2009

Bill O'Reilly Covers National Center Free Enterprise Project's Call on Obama to Dismiss Jeffrey Immelt


The National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project has called on President Obama to dismiss General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt from his Economic Recovery Advisory Board following findings from the Security and Exchange Commission that "GE bent the accounting rules beyond the breaking point" to "avoid missing analysts' final consensus EPS expectations."

You can read the Free Enterprise Project's complete press release here.

In the video above, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly covers the Free Enterprise Project's call in this nightly "Talking Points Memo" and adds commentary of his own. He then is joined by political strategist Dick Morris, who continues the Immelt-GE-Obama discussion.

Hat tip: To NewsPoliticsNews for posting the video on YouTube.com.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:17 AM

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What's Happening Now

A secret meeting. Others are not-so-secret anymore.

Opposed to government-run health care? Join the bus tour.

We need a special prosecutor.

Surprise! A letter to the Senate (pdf) on Sotomayor.

The House Democrats' health care bill and illegal aliens.

Bill Cosby is shocked at Barack Obama.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:32 PM

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rolling Stone: Cap and Trade is a Carbon Tax Structured So Private Interests Collect the Revenues

Tom Borelli of our Free Enterprise Project has repeatedly warned Americans that passage of cap-and-trade will lead to the creation of a new economic bubble (see here, here or here).

Now Rolling Stone magazine is getting into the act, and it's not pulling any punches.

A sample paragraph to whet your appetite:
...cap-and-trade, as envisioned by Goldman [Sachs], is really just a carbon tax structured so that private interests collect the revenues. Instead of simply imposing a fixed government levy on carbon pollution and forcing unclean energy producers to pay for the mess they make, cap-and-trade will allow a small tribe of greedy-as-hell Wall Street swine to turn yet another commodities market into a private tax collection scheme. This is worse than the bailout: It allows the bank to seize taxpayer money before it's even collected. [Emphasis in the original]

"If it's going to be a tax, I would prefer that Washington set the tax and collect it," says Michael Masters, the hedge fund director who spoke out against oil futures speculation. "But we're saying that Wall Street can set the tax, and Wall Street can collect the tax. That's the last thing in the world I want. It's just asinine."
Read Rolling Stone's "The Great American Bubble Machine" by Matt Taibbi for the rest of the story.

We've said all along that if you actually believe human beings are causing dangerous global warming, and you honestly believe that this global warming must be fought by suppressing energy use, the only approach that has any hope of not being corrupt is increasing energy taxes. We do oppose increasing energy taxes, but would prefer that by far to cap-and-trade.

I did not expect to see this sentiment in Rolling Stone, but we welcome it to the club.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:17 PM

Monday, July 13, 2009

Video of Tom Borelli on Obama's Corporatism Strategy on Glenn Beck

Here's the video of Monday's broadcast of the Glenn Beck Show on the Fox News channel in which Tom Borelli, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project and Wall Street analyst/Fox Business News commentator Charles Payne talk about GE's quasi-merger with the Obama Administration, GE's hiring of Linda Daschle as a lobbyist, the recent appointment of a GE executive to a top Obama Administration post at the EPA and how, as Glenn Beck put it in the segment, "the little guy gets screwed."

Hat tip to America's News Today for putting the video on YouTube.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:10 PM

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Carol Browner's Hijinks: They Call This Open Government?

Mark Tapscott is on the case of White House "climate czar" Carol Browner, who appears to be continuing her wily Clinton Administration pattern of dodging and weaving whenever legal niceties interfere with her left-wing agenda.

As Mark writes in his piece entitled "'Put Nothing In Writing,' Browner Told Auto Execs on Secret White House CAFE Talks; Sensenbrenner Wants Investigation":
Carol Browner, former Clinton administration EPA head and current Obama White House climate czar, instructed auto industry execs "to put nothing in writing, ever" regarding secret negotiations she orchestrated regarding a deal to increase federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-WI, is demanding a congressional investigation of Browner's conduct in the CAFE talks, saying in a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA, that Browner "intended to leave little or no documentation of the deliberations that lead to stringent new CAFE standards."

Federal law requires officials to preserve documents concerning significant policy decisions, so instructing participants in a policy negotation concerning a major federal policy change could be viewed as a criminal act...
Browner should answer these charges and very specifically, too, but President Obama must be held to account as well. It's not as though he didn't know what he was getting when he appointed Browner. As my husband David Ridenour pointed out in an op-ed published around the U.S. early this year, when Browner was head of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton Administration, it made a practice of skirting the law.

David wrote, in part:
Throughout [Carol Browner's] 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.
I recommend reading both Mark's full editorial on Browner's CAFE shenanigans and David's full op-ed on Carol Browner's ideology and ethics, as well as a second commentary by Mark, "Browner Has History of Deceit on Government Files" in today's Washington Examiner.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:47 AM

Monday, June 29, 2009

Subjects of Congressional Ethics Probe Fight Back

Project 21 just issued a press release criticizing the Congressional Black Caucus's apparent plans to retaliate against the House Office of Congressional Ethics, which concluded that several CBC members should be investigated by the full Ethics Committee for alleged violations of gift rules.

The release says:
Project 21 Critical of Members of Congress Under Ethics Investigation for Retaliating Against House Ethics Office and for Playing 'Race Card'

For Release: June 29, 2009
Contact: David Almasi at 202/543-4110 x11 or [email protected]

An apparent effort by the Congressional Black Caucus to deter ethics investigations of its membership is drawing sharp criticism from members of the black leadership group Project 21.

CBC members reportedly are considering changes to the law authorizing the House Office of Congressional Ethics, or OCE, in retaliation for the OCE referring allegations against several CBC members to the House Ethics Committee.

CBC members reportedly also have complained that the OCE does not have enough minority staffers, adding a racial element to the apparent retaliation.

"What does the racial or ethnic makeup of the Office of Congressional Ethics have to do with the fact that these members of the Congressional Black Caucus may have violated ethics laws? It has absolutely no bearing on the charge, and to claim that is a lack of diversity at the OCE is playing the race card plain and simple," said Project 21 member Joe Hicks, also a commentator for Pajamas Television. "It is laughable that CBC members are charging the OCE with some sort of racial targeting. The OCE was created by Speaker Pelosi, someone who shamelessly bends over backwards to be politically correct."

Of the three investigative counsels hired by the OCE, one is black. The chairman of the formal Ethics Committee investigation sparked by the OCE referral is a black Member of Congress, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), a CBC member.

"A legitimate complaint has been filed and an investigation has begun, but political pressure is now being applied to cover up the allegations and brush everything under the rug," said Project 21 member Bishop Council Nedd II. "So much for those promises to 'drain the swamp' and root out the 'culture of corruption.' It seems that swamp has turned into a hot tub for them rather quickly."

"President Obama has long proclaimed that it is special interest lobbyists who are the root of what is wrong with our federal government. This latest lapse in congressional sensibilities exposes the fact that it is wayward members of Congress themselves, whether Republican or Democrat, who pose the greatest threat to good government for the citizens of this country," said Project 21 member John Meredith. "The idea of disbanding the one avenue the citizens of this great nation have to track congressional malfeasance is an affront to the pledge of transparency in government and the use of the race card to facilitate the closing of the Office of Congressional Ethics is insulting not only to black people but to people of every color."

The controversy was sparked by an ethics complaint (PDF) filed with the OCE by National Legal and Policy Center President Peter Flaherty.

In November 2008, Flaherty attended the "Caribbean Multi-Cultural Business Conference" on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. Although the conference officially was sponsored by the Carib News Foundation, according to Flaherty, signs and materials present indicate the event was funded by Citigroup, Pfizer, American Airlines, Verizon, IBM and other large corporations with business before Congress. CBC members Charles Rangel (D-NY), Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Delegate Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands) attended the event.

Members of Congress have been prohibited since 2007 from taking funded trips of over two days if those trips are paid for or coordinated by companies that "employ or retain a registered lobbyist."

Flaherty alerted the OCE. In his letter to the OCE, Flaherty noted: "My characterization of the trip as a 'junket' is based on my observation that the sessions were lightly attended. Most attendees spent significant time at the beach or the pool. Members of Congress attended the sessions when they had a speaking role." Flaherty also said any suggestion that attendees could not see evidence of corporate involvement was "implausible."
The press release can be found online at http://www.nationalcenter.org/P21PR-Congressional_Ethics_062909.html.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:16 AM

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Boneless Goose

The "central activity" of the Obama Administration "is corruption," says George Will today.

The column begins:
Anyone, said T.S. Eliot, could carve a goose, were it not for the bones. And anyone could govern as boldly as his whims decreed, were it not for the skeletal structure that keeps civil society civil -- the rule of law. The Obama administration is bold. It also is careless regarding constitutional values and is acquiring a tincture of lawlessness...
Read it all here.

Hat tip: Drudge Report.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:33 AM

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Scandal that is the EPA

Writing on National Review Online, Henry I. Miller excoriates the Environmental Protection Agency.

Here's just a sample:
...The EPA has long been more concerned with public relations than public health. An EPA scheme that was exposed in 2005 planned to divert research funds to pay outside public-relations consultants up to $5 million over five years to improve the website of its Office of Research and Development, conduct focus groups on how to polish the office’s image, and produce ghostwritten articles praising the agency “for publication in scholarly journals and magazines.”

It’s no surprise that EPA must buy good press. The agency is relentlessly inept and corrupt, and motivated by radical ideology rather than a genuine desire to protect the environment. It serves not the public interest, but the most extreme and doctrinaire environmentalists.

The EPA’s payola scheme is similar to the agency’s longstanding practice of buying influence by doling out hundreds of millions of dollars each year to non-profit organizations—money that, according to the inspector general and Government Accountability Office, is dispersed with no public notice, competition, or accountability. Specifically, they documented systematic malfeasance by regulators, including: (1) making grants to grantees who were unable to carry out the terms of the grants; (2) favoring an exclusive clique of grantees without opening the grants to competition; (3) funding “environmental” grants for activities that lack any apparent environmental benefit; and (4) failing to ensure that grantees performed the objectives identified in the grants.

Misconduct, mendacity, and conflicts of interest are just business as usual at the EPA...
With all the other governmental disasters going on, scandals that are business-as-usual at the EPA can fly under the radar. Kudos to Henry Miller for shedding light on this subject.

Read it all here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:44 AM

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

What is Senator Dodd Hiding?

Ed Morrissey asks some good questions.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:44 AM

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Curious Omission

In light of the new federal subpoenas on top Obama aides avid Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, Hot Air's Ed Morrissey asks: "Why did the internal report from the Obama team [on the Rod Blagojevich scandal] not mention Axelrod when they cleared themselves of all complicity in the scandal?"
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:58 AM

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Very Good Point

Kudos to Rep. Joe Barton and to Iain Murray for drawing attention to this question.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:09 PM

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Detroit Mayor Finally Removed from Office, Project 21 Member's Suggestions Finally Acted Upon

By David Almasi:
After months of controversy, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D) finally admitted his guilt this morning and resigned from office. He pleaded guilty to two felony counts of obstruction of justice related to his lying under oath during a police investigation into his political inner-circle.

In addition to Kilpatrick's resignation, he is expected to serve up to four months in jail, five years of probation, up to a $1 million in fines and at least a temporary revocation of his law license.

Back in April, Project 21 member Tara Setmayer wrote a New Visions Commentary entitled “Haters Didn't Hurt the Hip-Hop Mayor, He Did” that points out how politicians have a duty to live up to the public trust. If they want to live fast-and-loose, as Kilpatrick did, Setmayer noted that public office is not the place for them.

Among other things, Setmayer wrote:
From Marion Barry to Eliot Spitzer and Richard Nixon to Mark Foley, character and integrity - or the lack thereof - know no party affiliation or skin color.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, "King Kwame" or the "Hip-Hop Mayor" to some, is yet another example of a politician drowning in his own narcissistic sense of infallibility. The opportunity to earn the public trust is a privilege, and politicians often forget who they are working for.

Anyone aware of Mayor Kirkpatrick's tenure shouldn't be surprised. Arrogance and a sense of entitlement are a recipe for disaster, especially when the resources of an entire city are at one's disposal and "yes men" who occupy high-ranking city positions act as enablers.
She added:
I'm sick and tired of people saying the very serious felony charges are the product of an overambitious prosecutor's witch-hunt over a sexual affair. Let's not forget that Mayor Kilpatrick not only took an oath to uphold his office with honor, but another to honor his marriage. He has apparently failed miserably at both and has only himself to blame.

We all make mistakes, but part of learning from those mistakes is accepting responsibility for them. This often requires paying a heavy price.

No one is above the law. Not even Mayor Kilpatrick. Not even in Detroit. No matter how large the entourage, how luxurious the vehicle or how flamboyant his clothing, he is still a public servant accountable to the people of Detroit.

If the Hip-Hop Mayor wants to live the lifestyle of a 50 Cent, he needs to relinquish his public office and become a member of G-Unit on his own time - not on the taxpayers' dime.
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 10:51 PM

Monday, July 28, 2008

Project 21's Borelli on Civil Rights Shakedowns in Philadelphia Inquirer

By David Almasi:
An article critical of activists Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson by Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli was published Friday in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Said Deneen:
Al Sharpton is making headlines again, but it's not for one of his crusades. Instead, Sharpton, his National Action Network (NAN), and several major corporations that have donated to NAN have been subpoenaed in recent months by federal investigators.

While Sharpton's attorneys reported Tuesday that the criminal probe over millions allegedly owed in taxes by Sharpton and NAN has been dropped in lieu of civil action by the IRS, federal authorities remain tight-lipped over the status of any investigations.

Critics have long accused Sharpton of obtaining corporate contributions by threatening racial boycotts.

Sharpton denies this, saying "That's the old shakedown theory that the anti-civil-rights forces have used against us forever."

But there's plenty to wonder about. In November 2003, according to the New York Post, Sharpton picketed a DaimlerChrysler air show, threatening a boycott. After the company began sponsoring NAN's annual conference in 2004, however, Sharpton bestowed an award on it for corporate excellence. General Motors and American Honda also began giving to the group after similar threats.

Sharpton's not alone. Critics of Jesse Jackson claim he has perfected the art of the shakedown. Suspicions persist, for instance, about motives behind repeated generous contributions from mortgage giant Freddie Mac to Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition. As the National Legal and Policy Center has reported, "Jesse Jackson's relationship with Freddie Mac began in 1998 when Jackson accused Freddie Mac of racial discrimination and encouraged major shareholders to sell their stock. Freddie Mac began financial support for Jackson's organizations and his criticism of Freddie Mac stopped."

Freddie Mac donated $150,000 to a Rainbow/PUSH conference earlier this month, even as Congress was debating a bailout of the struggling firm and Fannie Mae, a bailout that the Congressional Budget Office says might cost taxpayers as much as $100 billion.

A 16-year crusade against Anheuser-Busch for not having enough minority beer distributors ended with Jackson's sons being awarded a lucrative Chicago distributorship. Businesses that Jackson has criticized, including Toyota and NASCAR, have become sponsors of his annual Wall Street Conference...
Deneen then discussed her own experience challenging Jackson directly at the recent JPMorgan Chase and Company shareholder meeting. To read more about this or hear Deneen in action, click here.

To read the full Philadelphia Inquirer 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 7:00 PM

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Privacy Fetishists Strike Again

Pardon me for venting a little, but this story about a Vermont librarian who prevented five state police detectives from temporarily taking a public library's computers as part of their effort to rescue the then-missing (since discovered to be murdered) 12-year-old Brooke Bennett infuriates me.

From the AP:
Children's librarian Judith Flint was getting ready for the monthly book discussion group for 8- and 9-year-olds on "Love That Dog" when police showed up.

They weren't kidding around: Five state police detectives wanted to seize Kimball Public Library's public access computers as they frantically searched for a 12-year-old girl, acting on a tip that she sometimes used the terminals...
We all have a moral responsibility to help one another in life and death situations. There's no exception for government employees, whether librarians or dogcatchers. In fact, a heightened duty of care obligation may exist for public servants.

Privacy on any matter that is not literally life or death is less important than possibly saving a little girl's life.

How much of a narcissist does a library patron have to be to imagine that other people really care what he's gazing at? (For goodness sake, Mr. Narcissist, if we really care to know what websites you visit, we'd just stand behind you and watch you surf. It's a public library, after all!)

Anyhow, a public library's computer is owned by the government. Anybody who doesn't want the government to know which websites he visits ought not use a government computer to visit those websites.

P.S. The AP story above also is noteworthy for a profuse blast of whining excessive even by generous Vermont feminist standards:
"What I observed when I came in were a bunch of very tall men encircling a very small woman," said the library's director, Amy Grasmick, who held fast to the need for a warrant after coming to the rescue of the 4-foot-10 Flint.
Gimme a break. While a little girl was in what proved to be mortal danger, the chief public librarian frets that policemen are tall.

Honey, Brooke Bennett had the scary role in this story, not Judith Flint.

Hat tip: Best of the Web
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:29 PM

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Should Earmarks be Spent on Lobbying? Should Lobbyists Represent Congressmen?

Should earmarks paid for with public funds be spent promoting projects under consideration by Congress?

Is it OK for a lobbyist to represent a Congressman at a meeting about one of the Congressman's bills?

As far as I know, these things as legal, but are they proper?

Husband David has an op-ed on TownHall today that examines at a case in which both seem to have happened.

At issue is the creation of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, which will run from Gettysburg, PA to Charlottesville, VA, unless President Bush vetoes the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (S. 2739), which is now on the President's desk.

Heritage areas are National Park Service preservation zones in which environmentalists, federal officials and local activists influence local land-use decisions, frequently in ways that restrict the rights of private property owners and make property ownership more difficult for those of low or moderate income.

The Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 is the same legislation that would allow taxpayer money to be spent studying places "that are significant to the life of Cesar E. Chavez." Chavez was, of course, the ultra-militant leader of the United Farm Workers and a man who, as Project 21's Joe Hicks has said in Congressional testimony, "did or said little to reign in the violence" against workers by union organizers. Members of Congress who find this form of domestic terrorism worthy of honor are trying to use tax funds in an effort to make Chavez seem like another Martin Luther King, Jr.

As Joe Hicks pointed out on May 5, "To say the jury is still out on the legacy of Cesar Chavez is an understatement. Unlike other individuals who have been honored in the manner suggested by this earmark, the politics behind and the consequences of Chavez's activism remain dubious."

Hicks, once a member of the Communist Party USA, trained UFW members in "revolutionary theory" and marched arm-in-arm with Jesse Jackson at Cesar Chavez's funeral in 1993.

If you have an opinion on using earmarks to promote legislative proposals, Congressmen being represented by lobbyists, national heritage areas or even the use of tax dollars to honor dubious labor union organizing techniques, drop by TownHall.com to learn more and leave your views.

Addendum, May 8: The White House has signaled its comfort with the above, signing the bill into law today. The full text of the White House statement:
On Thursday, May 8, 2008, the President signed into law:

S. 2457, which authorizes the Mashantucket Pequot (Western) Tribe to lease certain land to entities for up to 75 years, rather than 25 years as under current law,

S. 2739, the "Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008," which designates the 106,000-acre Wild Sky Wilderness in Washington State; designates three new National Heritage Areas; expands several national parks; authorizes funding for specified water projects; modifies two existing energy programs; applies U.S. immigration law to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; and grants the Commonwealth a non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives.
I can't say I'm surprised President Bush signed this, if only because he's signed a lot of bills that appear to be contrary to a limited government philosophy, and it is his Administration's National Park Service that worked in favor of the legislation and failed to fully comply with a Freedom of Information Act request regarding its activities (not that I am under any illusion that National Park Service officials thought they were doing the bidding of the man the voters elected when they did these things). When it comes to expanding government's size, "just say no" has not been the hallmark of this Administration or its agencies.

On a more positive note, however, it's almost a miracle the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area was not adopted two years ago. When proponents of legislative proposals get a million bucks worth of help in tax money from Congress before they are even incorporated, its a pretty clear sign they've got Congressional support and a leg-up over those of us who rely on voluntary donations to pay our bills. Before we started this fight to remind Congress that federalism and the Fifth Amendment right to private property are worth defending, national heritage areas tended to sail right through Congress. Even genuinely conservative Members hadn't stopped to think about the contradiction between their beliefs and what national heritage areas do and are. Now opposition to them is the new, though for all that, fairly strong conservative position on Capitol Hill. We may not have been able to stop the wasteful (and far worse) behavior surrounding the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area, but we've most likely slowed the creation of more of these elitist boondoggles.

Those interested in more information about national heritage areas -- as this particular policy battle is far from over -- might find the following resources helpful:
"The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area: An Example of How Pork-Barrel Politics Can Threaten Local Rule and Property Rights," by Peyton Knight for the National Center for Public Policy Research, available here

"Another Federal Assault on Property Rights: The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act," by Ron Utt for the Heritage Foundation, available here (this is the paper in which Dr. Utt revealed that the private organizers of this heritage area have "acknowledged that they are contemplating additional wealth-enhancing opportunities through the creation of a privately owned, for-profit real estate investment trust (REIT) to acquire properties in the heritage area and presumably develop them for the benefit of the REIT's shareholders...")

To read a coalition letter signed by over 110 organizations, elected officials and concerned citizens about heritage areas sent to Congress in September 2007, go here (pdf)

For a short handout-style document on heritage areas, "What People Are Saying about National Heritage Areas," suitable for distribution at public meetings, go here (pdf)
Or, simply go to the National Center for Public Policy Research's search page and type in "national heritage areas" -- we've got 80 documents so far, and, no doubt, more to come.

Thanks to all who joined us in this effort. While supporters of limited government had a setback today, because of our work together on the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, our support for the next battle federalism and property rights battle is much deeper. I'm confident that victories lie ahead.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:41 PM

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

EPA Jeopardizes Children in Potentially Dangerous Sludge Experiments

Project 21's Deneen Borelli is not happy about the EPA and other federal agencies conducting de facto experiments on families in poor, black families:
EPA Sludge Tests a "Modern-Day Tuskegee Experiment"

Children in Poor Black Neighborhoods Potentially Imperiled by EPA Studies


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

Washington, D.C.: Revelations that the federal government conducted potentially dangerous sludge-related experiments on children in Baltimore is condemned by Project 21 black leadership network fellow Deneen Borelli, who is demanding more answers about the origins of the experiment and wants to know how much other reckless policymaking is permeating federal agencies.

The Associated Press reported April 13 that researchers using federal grant money selected nine families in poor, black Baltimore neighborhoods to test if sludge could reduce child health risks from lead. Sludge derived from human and industrial waste was tilled into the families' yards and grass was planted over it.

The AP story said families were told that lead found in the soil in their yards posed a health risk and that the sludge was safe. The study, the findings of were published in 2005, did find that sludge bonded with the harmful metals lead, cadmium and zinc in the soil. However, concerns about the health risk of the sludge appear to have been overlooked, and no follow-up medical examinations of the families were reported.

The AP says, "epidemiological studies have never been done to show whether spreading sludge on land is safe."

A similar experiment was done in a poor, primarily black neighborhood in East St. Louis, IL.

"This is no less than a modern-day Tuskegee Experiment," said Borelli. "The government appears to have clearly failed - in the case of the EPA - in its mission 'to protect human health and safeguard the environment.' In fact, it is failure on both counts. For federal bureaucrats at EPA and HUD to knowingly allow this experiment to take place and jeopardize the health of children and adults is outrageous."

In 1993, the EPA began allowing Class B sludge containing human feces, medical waste and assorted chemicals to be used on farmland, in national forests and for mine reclamation efforts. EPA managers have been hostile to critics who questioned whether the sludge is safe. The hostility included angry calls and letters to public critics and unfounded ethics complaints imperiling the careers of critics within the agency. EPA scientists David Lewis and William Markus, who spoke out about the unknown potential dangers of Class B sludge, were retaliated against by their superiors, but later sued the EPA and won a $100,000 settlement.

In March a federal judge ordered the U.S. Department of Agriculture to compensate Georgia farmer Andy McElmurray because sludge used in his fields to grow corn and cotton to feed livestock contained extremely high levels of arsenic, toxic heavy metals and PCBs. U.S. District Judge Anthony Alaimo wrote that government-endorsed data on the sludge was "unreliable, incomplete and, in some cases, fudged." Judge Alaimo further wrote, "senior EPA officials took extraordinary steps to quash scientific dissent."

Borelli wants to know if there are other issues championed by the agency in which necessary assessment was bypassed to meet desired political goals.

"One can't help but compare the scandal in Baltimore to global warming policy promoted by environmental activists and many of their supporters in the government bureaucracy," added Project 21's Borelli. "In the case of the EPA, the agency's lack of sound analysis regarding climate change will undoubtedly lead to dire economic consequences. For instance, the American Council For Capital Formation predicts '...the United States would lose between 1.2 and 1.8 million jobs in 2020' and that the 'primary cause of job losses would be lower industrial output due to higher energy prices, the high cost of complying with required emissions cuts, and greater competition from overseas manufacturers with lower energy costs.' We can't be allowed to run headlong into a crisis without proper scientific evidence. In Baltimore and the nation as a whole, it looks as if the government is putting policy goals ahead of public welfare."

Between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service conducted a study on the effects of syphilis on black men. In the process, researchers intentionally denied full knowledge and treatment for the debilitating sexually transmitted disease to the 399 black men studied. Called the Tuskegee Experiment because government researchers used the renowned black institution's medical facilities, the race-based study led to the deaths of 128 of the study's subjects while 59 wives and children contracted or were born with syphilis.

The AP story was written by John Heilprin and Kevin S. Viney.

-30-
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:49 AM

Monday, November 05, 2007

Anti-Photo ID Legislation Would Promote Election Fraud, Says Group

Project 21 isn't thrilled about efforts to ban photo ID requirements in federal elections:
Anti-Photo ID Legislation Would Promote Election Fraud, Says Group

Legislation introduced by Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) to prohibit photo ID requirements for voting in federal elections would promote election fraud, say members of the black leadership network Project 21.

"Representative Ellison's proposal is fundamentally flawed and potentially harmful to the integrity of our democratic process," said Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie. "Why invite that which can only lead to unimaginable fraud and corruption?"

Imposing existing Minnesota election law on a national scale, the "Voter Access Protection Act of 2007" (H.R. 4026) would ban the use of photo ID for voter verification in federal elections. Rep. Ellison calls photo ID requirements "burdensome" and liken them to a "modern-day poll tax." He further charges that the Bush Administrations enforcement of voting rights issues effectively promotes "voter suppression of minorities, seniors and young people."

"The Ellison bill will do nothing more than encourage situations in which legitimate minority, elderly and poor voters - among others - will be disfranchised by non-citizens and corrupt political activists," said Project 21 member Kevin Martin. "Americans are already required to present photo ID for things such as banking and travel. I must show a photo ID if I want to try to talk to Representative Ellison about his bill in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, but I presently do not need to show any identification to vote for him back in Minnesota. To compare voter security precautions to a poll tax is reprehensible."

Project 21 members suggest that voting rights groups - many of which accept taxpayer funds - offer services to ensure those currently without valid ID can obtain them.

"Photo ID is not the problem. Photo ID is the solution," added Project 21's Massie. "The rational and responsible response to complaints about a photo ID requirement is to help those who absolutely cannot get identification without assistance. If groups such as ACORN can afford to conduct voter registration and voter education and transport people to the polls on Election Day, they should certainly be able to transport and subsidize the cost of IDs for those who need them as well. If they cannot undertake this pro-active action when they can afford to lobby and litigate against photo ID requirements, they reveal their concerns are disingenuous."
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:15 AM

Monday, October 08, 2007

An SCHIP Fraud? Boy Who Delivered Democrat SCHIP Rebuttal May Not Be Low-Income

A Freeper who goes by the nickname Icwhatudo has come up with evidence that the 12-year-old Baltimore child, Graeme Frost, who spoke for the nation's Democrats September 29 regarding his family's need for taxpayer-financed health insurance, goes to a private school that costs $20,000 per year. As does his sister. And the family lives in a 3,000 square foot house. Plus more.

In his radio address, young Graeme said (most likely, was told to say) "CHIP is a law the government made to help families like mine afford health care for their kids."

Actually, assuming the Freeper's research holds up, Graeme was misled. SCHIP was not designed for families who can afford expensive private schools and big houses. It was designed for low income families who nonetheless are not eligible for Medicare.

Young Graeme told America he doesn't know why "President Bush wants to stop kids who really need help from getting CHIP." Possibly someone at his expensive school should tell him that if you don't know the other side of an argument, you don't fully understand your own argument, either.

I don't blame young Graeme. He's a kid. But if the facts in this case turn out to be as the Freeper's research implies, I sure do blame the adults, including Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who selected Graeme and his specific message either knowing it was wrong or not caring enough to check.

Oh, and by the way, according to the Baltimore Sun's Matthew Hay Brown, the Frost family can't find private health insurance in Maryland for less than $1,200 a month. I don't believe it. Our family lives in Maryland, a mere 22 miles from the Frost family, yet we have comprehensive health insurance that costs $785.24 per month, covers both parents and does not charge extra for large families. Our insurer sells policies in the Frosts' zip code and has a medical center located just two miles from the Frost home.

Others blogging this: Don Surber, Kim Priestap/Wizbang, Mark Tapscott (who wonders why the mainstream media didn't check this story out), the Western Standard and others.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:08 AM

Friday, September 07, 2007

Congressman Jefferson's Racial Sensitivities...

...are decidedly one-sided.

He has had his attorneys file a motion (subscription may be required) asking a federal judge to move his trial on corruption charges from Virginia to either the District of Columbia or to New Orleans. Jefferson's motive is to try to influence the likely racial make-up of the jury:
Lawyers for Rep. William Jefferson entered a motion in federal court today claiming prosecutors filed the corruption case against the Louisiana Democrat in a U.S. court in Virginia only to avoid the predominantly black jury pools that would be available to them in Washington, D.C., and New Orleans.

Jefferson's attorneys asked the court to order the case moved from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, and asked for an investigation of the decision-making process that led the Justice Department to file its charges there...

...Jefferson’s motion for change of venue argues that there is no reason for the case to be tried in Virginia, and that it appears “the prosecution used forum selection to affect the racial make-up of the jury in this case.”

The bulk of the alleged crimes took place in D.C., where Jefferson’s Congressional office is, or in New Orleans, where Jefferson resides. The primary connection to Virginia is that an FBI informant, at the direction of the FBI, invited Jefferson to Virginia for a meeting to hand over cash, the motion argues.

“The defendant is African American, and the government’s chosen venue has a markedly lower percentage of African Americans in the potential jury pool than the District of Columbia, where the case fairly belongs,” his lawyers wrote.
If Jefferson objects to the (alleged) practice of attempting to influence the racial make-up of a jury, why is he attempting to influence the racial make-up of a jury himself?

What constitutes a true "jury of his peers" when it comes to the trial of a Harvard-educated Member of Congress is an interesting question. Any given person may be black or white or Asian or some combination thereof, but that's not all he is.

More coverage of the story here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:19 PM

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Congress Covering Up Crime?

Not their own -- donors'.

As the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, nearly 800 convictions in si years -- a staggering number -- have occurred as a result of audits and investigations of labor unions conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Labor-Management Standards. So how does the new Congress respond? By cutting its $47.7 million budget!

Normally, I love it when federal budgets are cut, but the Congressional Democrat majority doesn't want to cut the Labor Department's budget overall -- just 20 percent of the part of it that conducts audits on labor unions, which happen to support the Democratic Party.

As Mark Mix notes in this August 6 Washington Times op-ed, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) had the nerve to claim that auditing labor unions to make sure they keep clean books is "going after... people who are trying to earn a living."

Not at all, Rep. Kennedy. The workers who are "contributing" (often under force of law) to labor unions are not harmed by the audits, but by the loss of their money. The very least labor unions, and those who accept contributions from labor unions, could do is cooperate in the detection and prevention of wrongdoing.

Kennedy is on the side of the criminals on this one.

As Mark Mix notes, even at the present, pre-cut level of funding, the Office of Labor-Management Standards only has the resources to audit 4.6 percent of the unions that file federal disclosure forms. That's less than one-in-twenty. 775 convictions and counting.

It's clear what labor union officials are afraid of, but why should we stand for a Congress that rushes to their aid?

Hat tip: Carter Wood at the NAM blog.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:18 PM

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