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The official blog of the National Center for Public Policy Research, covering news, current events and public policy from a conservative, free-market and pro-Constitution perspective.

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Friday
Aug192005

No Pundit Intended: To Kill An American

Despite the title, a heart-warming post.

Friday
Aug192005

Endangered Species Reform and Immigration: When Travel is Illegal, Only Illegals Will Travel

Does a proposal to reform the Endangered Species Act intersect with the immigration issue? Husband David thinks so:

A draft of an Endangered Species Act bill that reportedly will be introduced by Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) next month includes a provision that could sharply restrict how and where Americans travel.

The bill, known as the "Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act," would extend the ESA to cover certain so-called "invasive species."

"Invasive species" are generally defined as plants, animals, fish or other organisms that have spread beyond their normal geographical range.

People can spread invasive species by inadvertently picking up seeds of plants on their clothes and dropping them in areas where the plant doesn't normally grow.

Because invasive species can be spread through such activities as hiking, biking, driving, horseback riding and boating, among other activities, including an invasive species provision in the Endangered Species Act could give federal authorities new powers to restrict our travel.

Interestingly, the debate over invasive species and whether to include them in the Endangered Species Act comes at a time when the issue of weakness in U.S. border security is receiving increasing attention.

One wonders if immigrants crossing our border illegally - who, presumably, would be as likely as anyone else to inadvertently transport seeds of invasive species - would be covered by the new regulations.

If so, would the federal government enforce them?

That's doubtful, given that we can't even manage to enforce our border.

When travel is made illegal, only illegals will travel.

Thursday
Aug182005

Mark Tapscott: Promoting Open Government

Mark Tapscott is a real leader when it comes to promoting open government.



Mark's op-ed for Knight-Ridder Tribune, available here on the Heritage Foundation website, explains the advantages of beefing up the Freedom of Information Act, how it can be done and who in Congress is on the job.



Mark's blog, meanwhile, always has the latest on this important issue, plus lots more. For example, did you know that Hell froze over?

Wednesday
Aug172005

Liberty Matters: Property Rights May Be a Major 2006 Election Issue

The Liberty Matters News Service, writing August 5, had some good news for property rights advocates:

The Supremes' decision in Kelo v. New London in June has had some unforeseen results; people in all walks of life have suddenly realized their homes are not secure from government seizure and are taking steps to correct the problem. 'A property rights revolt is sweeping the nation, and Alabama is leading it,' said Republican governor Bob Riley, as he signed the nation's first bill to prohibit local governments from seizing private property to turn it over to other private interests. The Kelo decision has been a wake-up-call for those who have long considered property rights concerns to be 'red state' issues. 'A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found that Americans cite private property rights as the current legal issue they care most about.' Donald Lambro, writing for the Washington Times said; '[T]he property rights movement, which had been somewhat moribund before the court acted, has spawned what many political strategists expect to be a major issue in the 2006 election cycle.'

Wednesday
Aug172005

General Electric Thinks Regulation Needed for Innovation?

As long as I am writing about the National Journal's coverage of global warming, here's a perplexing quote from the chairman and CEO of General Electric, Jeffrey Immelt (2004 salary: $8.5 million), as reported in the National Journal cover story "Heating Up," by Margaret Kriz (8/6/05 issue):

We think that real targets, whether voluntary or regulatory, are helpful because they drive innovation. We believe in the power of market mechanisms to address the needs of the environment.
Aside from the weird construction ("the environment" can't have "needs" -- it is what it is), sentence two is okay, but sentence one is a stunner. The CEO of General Electric thinks more government regulation on General Electric is a positive thing?

This article says Jeffrey Immelt is "trying to revivify the culture of innovation at GE" (is "revivify" a word?). If so, that government should regulate GE more intensely is a doggone odd way to do it.

Why can't GE innovate for the old-fashioned reason -- because it likes profits?

Immelt's quote reminds me of the scene in the movie "Animal House" in which pledges to the geek fraternity, while being paddled, are forced to say "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"

I was raised in a Westinghouse family. We never did understand those GE people.

Addendum: Apparently, revivify is a word.

Wednesday
Aug172005

National Journal on Global Warming

I received the following not long ago from a staffer at NationalJournal, a publication to which I subscribe.

Dear Amy,

I wanted to bring to your attention the attached article in this week's National Journal, "Heating Up."

In the article, Margaret Kriz emphasizes the growing demand for action to limit greenhouse gas emissions as the key players realize global warming is real and very dangerous.

I thought this issue might be of interest to you, and I hope you find this type of coverage valuable to your work...

Based on this e-mail, raise your hand if you think National Journal provides neutral, unbiased coverage on global warming.

My hand is down.

Wednesday
Aug172005

Where's the Deterrent?

This story, from the CrosSwords blog, is appalling.

Apparently, the District of Columbia held an innocent man in its jail for 670 days after a judge ordered him released.

The man's lawyer says the reason was "sloth and incompetence." The District has settled a large sum on the victim. The AP coverage of this I found in the Wahington Times said nothing about what happened to the employees who allowed this to occur. This Washington Post story contains more details but also neglects to discuss disciplinary action.

Government payouts of cash are nice for the victim (who might well have preferred to have two years of his life back), but are no deterrent against future wrong-doing. Governments raise their money through taxes. If you or I (anyone except the very rich) had to pay someone a large sum because we had treated them unfairly, we'd feel it. Government doesn't feel it.

Addendum: More searching found a different Washington Post story about this case ("Warnings Of Wrongful Jailing Went Unheeded," by Carol D. Leonnig); one that does discuss who was at fault in more detail, and what happened to them as a result.

Very, very little happened.

Wednesday
Aug172005

Comparable Worth, Judge John Roberts and Why It is Not Radical to Oppose the Overturning of Our Capitalist System

Despite what some may be led to believe from the rather hysterical news coverage Tuesday, then-29-year-old Associate White House Counsel John Robert, Jr. was right, and feminists and some Members of Congress were (and in some cases remain) wrong on the issue of "comparable worth" (sometimes misleadingly called "pay equity").

News services, too, are wrong to run headlines that imply that Roberts opposed "gender equity" when he opposed adoption of "comparable worth" proposals designed to allow government to set wage rates throughout our economy.

Comparable worth, simply put, was nothing less than an attempt to use the pretext of equal rights for women as a means of putting judges, bureaucrats, legislators and trial lawyers in charge of private and public sector wage rates.

Equal rights means equal rights, not guaranteed equal outcomes.

Fortunately, comparable worth as a serious public policy idea died a well-deserved death back in the 80s (though some on the left continue to promote the idea, mostly in an echo chamber). Unfortunately, the idea was so utterly annihilated, it seems most conservatives now don't even recall the proposal, which made it rather difficult for them to explain on short notice today how lousy it is, and why John Roberts was right to compare it to Marxism.

I explained what comparable worth advocates believe, why it is so radical, and how comparable worth (if adopted) actually would hurt women in this National Center "What Conservatives Think" publication back in 2004. "Comparable worth" was considered a dead idea even then, but some on the left kept trotting it out, as if it were a pro-woman, pro-fairness initiative, instead of a radical restructuring of our entire economy.

Here's what I wrote:

The left-wing has complained about so-called "pay equity" for years. As the U.S. Senate's Republican Policy Committee has pointed out, however: "The average wage gap between men and women is 26 cents (and falling). But this figure does not account for factors unrelated to sex discrimination that affect income: age, education, occupation, number of years in the workforce, and experience. Controlling for these factors shows women are actually paid 98 cents for every dollar earned by a man. The remaining 2-cent adjusted wage gap could be caused by sex discrimination, but it could also be caused by measuring errors, unaccounted for differences between men and women, or a combination of these factors. The 2-cent adjusted wage gap could also be more than made up for by the non-monetary benefits of female-dominated jobs, including better supervisors, fewer risks, easier commutes, and more flexible hours. Former Congressional Budget Office Director June O'Neill writes, 'When earnings comparisons are restricted to men and women more similar in their experience and life situations, the measured earnings differentials are typically quite small.'"

If there is a pay equity problem, however, the left's solutions are far worse than any problem. Proposals such as those introduced in Congress by Rep. Rose DeLauro and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton in the House and Senator Tom Daschle in the Senate would create a flurry of lawsuits and much work for trial lawyers and government employees. Conservatives suspect this is no accident.

It is worth noting that wage discrimination on the basis of gender already is illegal. The government has structures in place to assure that a woman doing the same job as a man receives the same compensation. What the left seeks is a government mechanism to assure that persons in female-dominated professions are paid as much as people in male-dominated professions.

The philosophical issue involved is this: Liberals believe it ultimately is the responsibility of federal government to assure "fair" wage rates, while conservatives believe this is neither true nor wise. Wage rates are properly negotiated between employer and employee. Employers who do not provide adequate compensation will find themselves with a shortage of workers. Any other standard is subjective.

Another way to put it: The left believes both government employees and trial lawyers have a superior ability to set fair wage rates than do traditional supply and demand mechanisms. The right disagrees.

Ironically, because the law of supply and demand ultimately can never be repealed, pay equity laws (also called "comparable worth" proposals) are likely to increase unemployment rates for women by raising wage rates in female-dominated professions beyond what the market will bear.

What's amazing is not that young John Roberts opposed having the government set wage rates, but that anyone who calls herself or himself a capitalist, let alone a Republican, disagrees.

Note this passage in an August 16 New York Sun article by Josh Gernstein referring to Rep. Nancy Johnson, Republican of Connecticut:

Ms. Johnson's office offered a more pithy rebuttal to the nominee's memo. "We don't think equal pay for equal work is a radical concept," said a spokesman for the congresswoman, Brian Schubert. "Women and men doing comparable work should be paid fairly and equally."
Does Mr. Schubert understand that comparable worth proposals mean the government, not the private sector, would set wage rates? I wonder.

Addendum (8/18): This August 18 article by Robert Parry, author of the book "Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq," and a former AP and Newsweek writer, is a perfect example of how not to write about Judge John Roberts and comparable worth. Despite Mr. Parry's apparently impressive credentials as a reporter, Parry apparently had absolutely no idea what "comparable worth" proposals were designed to do when he wrote his screed. As such, Parry makes the mistake of assuming that Roberts' opposition to handing government the power to set public and private wage rates necessarily means that Roberts, when he worked in the Reagan Administration, thought women deserved to be paid less (for the same work) than men. Parry says Roberts is on the wrong side of history. In fact, Parry is on the wrong side of accuracy.

Tuesday
Aug162005

Cindy Sheehan, Bill Broyles and the Lessons of the Pacific War

In response to my post asking folks to e-mail me if they know of any cases in which a family member of someone killed in World War II protested against FDR comes the following reply from the former editor-in-chief of Newsweek and screenwriter Bill Broyles (who also is a Marine Vietnam combat veteran).

This happens to be the only email I so far have received that provides actual information about World War II-era war protests, though plenty have written to lecture me, saying Cindy Sheehan has a right to protest the present war (a point I have never disputed).

Mr. Broyles's letter, in full:

First, there were many protests. After the battle of Tarawa anguished families called the Marine Corps "the greatest instrument for the slaughter of young Americans ever invented." See James Bradley's fine book, "Flags of our Fathers."

Second, FDR didn't invent reasons to send those Americans off to war. As you may or may not recall, Japan attacked us. Count the number of Iraqis involved in September 11, please; and also perhaps list the number of nuclear weapons or any weapons of mass destruction found there.

Third, how many of YOUR relatives are in Iraq right now? Or are you one of those elitist right-wing jerks who loves the war so long as other people's sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives are fighting it?

And BTW, my son is in Iraq on his third tour right now.

So before you go making snide remarks about a mother whose son made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, why don't you yourself sign up and go over there, you love the war so much.

Bill Broyles

Response:Thanks to Mr. Broyles for the information on protests regarding Tarawa. I checked the recommended book. The edition I have does not contain the quote referenced (perhaps another edition does), but it does refer to newspaper editorials condemning the loss of life on Tarawa ("This Must Not Happen Again") and says "one mother wrote a commander, 'You killed my son on Tarawa.'"

It continues:

[Time War] Correspondent [Robert] Sherrod worried that Americans would not have the stomach for the sacrifices the Marines would have to make to conquer the Pacific. To him it was obvious that the Japanese strategy was to dig in on every island in the Central Pacific to inflict horrendous losses in the hope that America would give up and negotiate a peace. The Japanese were counting on civilians to blanch at the human cost of advancing on Japan and for the Marines to falter in the face of fanatical Japanese defenses. Yet, howevermuch civilian support may have been in doubt, [Marine General Holland 'Howlin' Mad'] Smith had no doubts about the bravery and determination of his Marines.
The parallel to the present situation is obvious.

I have not, at least yet, made any serious effort to find the editorials referenced in Bradley's "Faith of our Fathers," but if anyone who reads this is familiar with them, I would be interested to know if the editorials questioned the way the battle (or Pacific War) was being fought or if any influential newspapers or media commentators of the time, citing U.S. casualties, called upon FDR to withdraw U.S. troops from the Pacific.

As for Bill Broyles' second point: While the notion that President George W. Bush invented reasons for going in to Iraq is debatable, it is not debatable that FDR had options. FDR did not have to propose that Congress declare war on both Germany and Japan after Pearl Harbor (Yes, Mr. Broyles, I have heard of Pearl Harbor); FDR and his successor had the option, too, of seeking something less than unconditional surrender from our Axis enemies.

I wonder: Did any of FDR's contemporary critics ever refer to FDR "inventing" reasons to attack Germany (Germany had no ability to seriously attack the U.S. mainland, after all -- the contemporary equivalent of having no WMDs)?

If so, perhaps FDR's defenders noted approvingly that President Roosevelt wanted to plant a stable democracy in central Europe and bring safety, human rights, prosperity and hope to millions. Perhaps, FDR's defenders said, Roosevelt was right to decide the U.S. should finish a war against a nation the U.S. had fought not long before -- in a war the U.S. and its many allies won in combat, but without winning a full, just and lasting peace?

As to the personal, Mr. Broyles: Two members of my extended family are presently of an age to be eligible for military service. Of the two, one has served two tours in Iraq with a combat unit. I myself at 45 am too old to enlist and was too young for Vietnam. I did seriously consider a military career when entering college, but abandoned the notion as women were then ineligible for combat and I could not pass the vision test (I checked). We were at peace at the time anyway. Birthdate-wise, the war our family had folks eligible for was World War II. Everyone in our family who was eligible joined up for that one, including the women. We do our part.

Addendum and Mea Culpa, 8/17: An e-mail correspondent has kindly reminded me that, in World War II, Germany declared war on the U.S. before the U.S. declared war on Germany. He's quite right.

Addendum, 9/26: Steven Gay of Bank of America apparently finds the addendum above, and my mea culpa of 8/17, inadequate. Mr. Gay writes on September 26:

Regarding the statement, "FDR did not have to propose that Congress declare war on both Germany and Japan after Pearl Harbor." Get it straight. FDR did NOT declare war on both Germany and Japan. He declared war on Japan only, on December 8. On December 11, Germany declared war on the United States. FDR, that same day, informed Congress, and asked Congress to "recognize" that a state of war existed between Germany and the United States.
Okay, mea culpa again, if that helps. I hadn't realized America's leading financial institution, as it calls itself, was so touchy about our entry into World War II.

Saturday
Aug132005

Varifrank on Cindy Sheehan

Varifrank's essay on Cindy Sheehan, what's she's going through, and how we should regard her message, is the best I've seen anywhere.



Hat tip: Explicitly Ambiguous

Saturday
Aug132005

Hounded at Death by the Greenies

Not every news story has quotes this odd:

It is not enough to be a corpse anymore. Now, you have to be a politically correct corpse.
Yes, folks, you can spend up to $15,000 to be buried the eco-friendly way.



What I found most intriguing in this story about the "little boutique cemeteries with a social justice component" is the brief mention that embalming is done by a freelance embalmer named "Dead Ed" who works on -- believe it or not -- a bicycle.



Others, however, may be more interested in learning more about $5,000 eco-friendly coffins made of recycled newspaper and non-toxic glue. To a greenie, paradise. To me, peewee art gone grotesque.

Saturday
Aug132005

Cindy Sheehan's Apologist Allies

I see in the Washington Post that Cindy Sheehan is using the same PR agency the Nicaraguan Sandinistas used.

Perhaps understandably, Fenton Communications doesn't brag about its work promoting Nicaragua's pro-Castro, anti-U.S. communist government. At least, not on its website.

For those who don't remember the Sandinistas, here are remarks by then-President Ronald Reagan about the Sandinistas' torture of dissidents, their pro-Soviet military activities, their personal financial corruption and more. Read it while remembering that Fenton Communications stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Sandinistas, and now Cindy Sheehan stands with them.

Friday
Aug122005

Funniest Blog?

I think if a careful tally were to be taken, The Shape of Days just might officially be named "Most Sarcastic Blog." Or funniest. Or both.

But: That cute little boy pictured at the top right of The Shape of Days sure knows some naughty, naughty words.

(Yes, Jeff, I did see the last sentence of this post.)

Friday
Aug122005

War Protest Question

408,306 Americans were killed in World War II. Does anyone remember a case in which the family of one of them protested subsequently against FDR, U.S. participation in the war, or the way the war was being conducted?



I'm wondering: Did this simply never happen, or did it happen a) without media coverage, or b) without me having ever learned of it?



I would appreciate an e-mail from anyone who knows the answer.

Friday
Aug122005

Social Security's Birthday

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey says the Social Security program turns 70 this week.



It seems a lot older than that.

Thursday
Aug112005

Mick Jagger, This One's For You

New to the blogroll, listed under "Interesting Websites": The United States Central Command (more commonly referred to as CENTCOM) Home Page.



I received an e-mail today from CENTCOM asking to be listed on our blogroll (I'm guessing other bloggers did, too). I would have said "yes" anyway, but in light of Mick Jagger's recent dig at those who are protecting his sorry existence, I'm extra enthusiastic about doing this today.

Thursday
Aug112005

Another Dope Heard From

Thursday
Aug112005

David Limbaugh on Mario Cuomo's Damning Admission

David Limbaugh referees a debate held on "Meet the Press" between Professor Douglas Kmiec and former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. Says Limbaugh, in part:

...it is axiomatic that those who don't play by the rules are always suspicious that the other side won't either. Since liberals have routinely exploited the judiciary to implement their policy agenda they fear conservative-oriented judges might do the same. Actually, they're horrified at the prospect that conservative judges might simply reverse precedent established through liberal activism, such as Roe.

Mario Cuomo gave voice to this liberal fear during the debate. Kmiec asserted that Pope John Paul II's admonition to public officials to work legislatively to limit abortion did not apply to judges, because they are not legislators. Cuomo vehemently disputed this, saying, 'The law today, as we all know, is Roe against Wade. That was made by judges and it can be overturned by judges. To say that the [pope's] rules that apply to legislators shouldn't apply to judges is, it seems to me, wrong.'

Quite a damning admission by Cuomo. That he so adamantly rejected the legislative-judicial distinction reveals that he fully embraces the idea that courts are a third policymaking branch...
About ten years ago, Mario Cuomo had a national weekly talk radio show. In an attempt to give the liberal point of view a fair hearing, reasoning that Cuomo was one of liberalism's leading lights, and figuring that three hours per show gave Cuomo a chance to really present the liberal POV, I made a point of listening to every show.

This, unfortunately, soon became a painful experience. Cuomo patronized nearly every caller, and gave answers, when challenged, that often were self-contradictory. He convinced me only that liberalism is a dead philosophy -- which soon proved to be the fate of Cuomo's radio show, as well.

I wonder: How many liberals can even correctly define the term "strict constructionist"? It might be fun to ask a few.

Meanwhile, I recommend David Limbaugh's entire piece. Unlike Mario Cuomo, David Limbaugh understands the Constitution.

Addendum: MSNBC has posted the transcript of the August 7 debate between Doug Kmiec and Mario Cuomo. ( As an aside, for those who are interested, the transcript also contains a debate between two autism experts, Dr. Harvey Fineberg of the Institute of Medicine and David Kirby, author of "Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy," regarding the state of scientific evidence relating to the cause and treatment of autism.)

Wednesday
Aug102005

Ghost Stories

Thoughts of Loy is telling ghost stories with a twist.

Hat tip: The Paragraph Farmer.

Addendum (later): If you stop by Thoughts of Loy, stick around to read this post. It starts out as a gripping and inspiring war story, but if you take the time to read the comments, it becomes a discussion of the role of divine Providence in pivotal battles of world history.

Sometimes I read blogs and am amazed they can be read for free.

Monday
Aug082005

Embryonic Stem Cells, James Dobson and David Brock

Jeff Blogworthy praises James Dobson and David Brock in the same post.



It's a good, thoughful post, too.