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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
Mar182005

Five-Year-Old Girl Arrested

This seems extremely silly.

Friday
Mar182005

Apologies

Sorry about the light-to-nonexistent posting. The Ridenour household has been facing the flu bug, but I think it now has been vanquished.

Too bad the same can't be said for all the laundry that piled up...

Friday
Mar112005

Washington Post: Yushchenko Treated by U.S. Doctors

I'd say this explains the mystery about why, back in December, Ukraine's president (then candidate) Viktor Yushchenko visited a Viennese clinic not known for its expertise in dioxin poisoning.

Friday
Mar112005

Not a Fan

I guess this guy isn't a fan...

Ms. Ridenour:

While searching for news articles on US - French relations I stumbled upon your website. I guess I should describe it as your repugnant and ill-informed website.

That you would bash the French so brutally shows you have no conception of who the French really are and how they think. But then, as I read on, I discovered you also believe that global warming is just a big myth. Ah, I get it!

Time machine, take me back to the 1950's please! I suppose you still watch 'Leave it to Beaver' and think that George W. Bush is a great president, too! (And there's an Al Qaeda member behind every corner! Fait attention!)

As an American living in France for the last several years, I have found the French to be a wonderful, thoughtful, intelligent, honest, and realistic people. Which is a lot more than I can say about the millions of American sheep that are being lead to the slaughter unquestioningly. What an ignorant country America is; the average person couldn't tell you where France is, but they can sure tell you exactly what the French are like and why they hate them!

You can disparage the French all you want, and they will just smirk, because they really don't care. And quite frankly, I'd rather side with a people that know the horrors of war and try to avoid it, than with a country that promotes lies to create wars to make money and further a dubious agenda for world domination, aka The New World Order.

So, to use an a shared French and American phrase: Dans ton cul! Because that is where the inane and insipid propaganda you espouse belongs.

Sincerely,

T.A. Cameron

Saturday
Mar052005

Little Foot

What a picture!

From Dr. Jack Wheeler's To the Point website, where Jack is arguing that, given the seriousness of his illness, the importance of the job and the heaviness of the workload at a time of many judicial vacancies, Senator Arlen Specter should take a leave of absence as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee until he recovers from Hodgkin's disease.

Addendum, 3/7/05: I seem to have fallen for a hoax. "Anonymous" has set me straight (he wasn't really anonymous, but I removed his name and professional affiliation -- which was impressive -- at his request before publishing excerpts from two emails I received from him today). The excerpts, and the link, are instructive:

Just thought I'd drop a quick note to you about your posting from Dr. Jack Wheeler and the picture of the baby's footprint through her mother's abdominal wall...

As a board certified Ob/Gyn physician, I have to tell you that there is absolutely no way that this picture is real. It brings home a very real point which is that there is a baby human inside of a pregnant mother. But it is not real.

There are many reasons why it cannot be real:

1) The uterus is a thick muscle. It is at least an inch thick at that point in pregnancy. Try poking a baby's foot through a steak that's an inch thick and see if you can get any definition from an image on the other side. There is such a thing as an abdominal pregnancy where the baby is freely floating within the abdomen in nothing but an amniotic sac protecting it (with the placenta attached to inconvenient places like over the aorta). Even then, see number two.

2) In addition to the thick muscle called the uterus, even the skinniest person has, at a very minimum, at least one to two inches of tissue between the outer layer of skin and the inside of the abdomen. There is the layer of skin and subcutaneous fat, there's the fascial layer (that is the connective tissue that holds the internal organs in place, and then there's the muscles (rectus abdominus, the washboard / 6-pack muscles - though they do thin considerably during pregnancy), and finally the pre-peritoneal layer with fatty tissue (less in skinny people) with its peritoneum.

3) How in the world would they time that picture and get it just right? They would have to have been photographing her stomach for whatever reason and just got lucky? I guess that part is at least plausible, but realistic?

4) I have looked up online at the urban legends website. Here's a link to more discussion on it: http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_fetus_footprint.htm

It's my professional opinion that this cannot be real. For what it's worth.

Thanks for the website. I really enjoy it!

"Anonymous"

...Again, I agree with the principle that this is used for (supporting a pro-life position). So in some ways I did not want to de-bunk it only because I don't want it to lose its power. But it can't be a real photo.

That being said, by the same token I HAVE seen and done ultrasounds on hundreds if not thousands of women who are pregnant and can tell you that as early as 8 or 9 weeks you can see movement and limb buds. There is no doubt in my mind that a "fetus" at the end of the first trimester responds to pain and light. During the mid trimester (16-24 weeks) I have done amniocentesis on patients and had the baby roll onto the amnio needle. It's really startling to have them jump (and you feel it through the needle). Don't let anyone tell you that they feel no pain when they are "D&E'd" in the second trimester. It's truly barbaric.

Sorry, folks! And, to close this post, let me add that Jack Wheeler's an old friend and great guy, so I suspect he had no idea the photo is discussed on an urban legends site. And, thanks to "Anonymous" -- it is an honor to have you as a reader of this blog!

Saturday
Mar052005

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Which would be worse: Incarceration or being forced to hand over your money against your will to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.?

It is not an academic question in Westchester County, New York, as Walter Olson explains.

Saturday
Mar052005

Shame on Andrew Greeley, Anti-Democrat, and Anyone Who Shakes His Hand

This March 4 Chicago Sun-Times op-ed by Andrew Greeley disgusts me.

Consider just two sentences:

I am suggesting that for President Bush to come to the edge of Russia (Slovakia) and preach about democracy to Putin is rude, crude and undiplomatic. It is an insult to Putin and to Russia and to the Russian people.
First, Slovakia is a sovereign nation. It is not "the edge of Russia." Would you refer to Canada as "the edge of the United States"?

Second, diplomacy achieves nothing, save perhaps the digestion of canapes.

Third, it is not rude to question Putin's commitment to democracy when Putin's commitment to democracy is questionable.

Fourth, and most important, standing up for the right of the Russian people to govern themselves and enjoy full civil rights is not an insult to the Russian people.

What is an insult to the Russian people is something Greeley says next:

Putin seems by all accounts to be popular with his people. He is the strong leader that Russians have always wanted...
Greeley's bizarre belief in Putin's popularity aside, Greeley is saying the Russian people don't really want full self-government.

Why not spell it out, Andrew? Just call them "untermenschen" -- sub-humans -- people not quite wanting or deserving of the full political and civil rights Americans demand and deserve.

Too harsh? Spot-on, actually. The Nazis coined the term untermenschen not just for Jews, but also for Gypsies and Slavs. The Russians are Slavs.

Coincidence? I think not.

The deliriums of the lectures we received from the pinko left from the Cold War days still echo in my mind: The Russians aren't like us. They don't like freedom the way we do. You are wrong to try to force it on them.

That's what Cold Warriors used to be told -- well, scratch the past tense, since Andrew Greeley's still doing it. Is the world better off now because America and the West won the Cold War?

Based on what he has written here, I very much doubt Andrew Greeley thinks so.

Oh, and by the way, Andrew: You are wrong when you claim conservatives don't believe the Cold War is over. We know it is over.

The reason we can be sure is that we're the ones who won it. Not your sort, Andrew. You lost. Get over it.

Friday
Mar042005

Sentence of the Day

"There is no evidence that the modern Court follows election returns, at least not American ones."

- Deacon, writing on Power Line, March 4

Friday
Mar042005

INDC Journal: Fisking Amy

I usually visit INDC Journal a few times a week.

I guess I should make it by there more often, because when I went by last night, I found Bill was in part two of a multi-day, multi-part fisking of one of my recent posts (the one in which I said reports of a pending split in the conservative coalition are overblown and perennial) that began on February 28.

Bill's first fisk is here; his second is here. More to come, apparently.

The comments -- of which there were 137 when I last visited -- have much to recommend them in terms of vigorous and, more often then not, informed debate about the role of government.

I'll respond at some point, but not tonight. Several of the commenters responding to Bill are doing it so well, I'm content to read their thoughts for a while.

Thursday
Mar032005

Mark Tapscott: Wake Up Conservatives!

Regarding the news going round the blogosphere that the federal government would soon regulate blogs: Mark Tapscott predicted this in 2003.



(I, too, been warning bloggers to expect the heavy hand of government regulation, if I may say so myself.)



Mark also updates the federal shield law story. Mark is far more sympathetic to the notion of journalists having these special rights than I am, but with that caveat, I recommend his blog for this topic.

Thursday
Mar032005

MMR & Autism: A Conversation

Those interested, dispassionately or otherwise, in the "what causes autism?" mystery will find an interesting conversation in the comments to this post in the Crooked Timber ("Out of the Crooked Timber of Humanity, No Straight Thing Was Ever Made") Blog.

Thursday
Mar032005

Morganatic Marriage

Ed Haislmaier writes to add some scholarship to my post about solving the civil marriage conundrum faced by Prince Charles and Mrs. Parker-Bowles:

...there is a long-standing word for what you are proposing - "morganatic." Here are two definitions listed on dictionary.com:
morganatic adj. Of or being a legal marriage between a person of royal or noble birth and a partner of lower rank, in which it is agreed that no titles or estates of the royal or noble partner are to be shared by the partner of inferior rank nor by any of the offspring of the marriage. [New Latin morganaticus, from Medieval Latin (matrimonium ad) morganaticam, (marriage for the) morning-gift, of Germanic origin.] morga nati cal ly adv.

Source: The American Heritage(r) Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, (c) 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

morganatic adj: (of marriages) of a marriage between one of royal or noble birth and one of lower rank; valid but with the understanding that the rank of the inferior remains unchanged and offspring do not succeed to titles or property of the superior [syn: left-handed]

Source: WordNet (r) 2.0, (c) 2003 Princeton University

Thus, the effect of your proposed Act of Parliament would be that any (purely) civil marriage entered into by a member of the British royal family would be automatically deemed a morganatic marriage.

Thursday
Mar032005

Who, Me?

Jeff at Protein Wisdom highlights the words "quite arrogantly" with a link to a post on this blog.



Well, thanks for the link.

Wednesday
Mar022005

Blog Alliance for Social Security Reform

I've just joined the new Blog Alliance for Social Security Reform.



Drop by the Alliance's blog, which promises to cover all the skirmishes as the battle for true Social Security reform moves forward.



(If you're a blogger who might like to join the Alliance, visit here for more information.)

Tuesday
Mar012005

Medicare's Troubling Limitations

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit for a link over the weekend to a post here by Joe Roche (a post which also was published in short form as an op-ed in the Sunday Washington Times).

Speaking of Instapundit, Glenn's regular readers will recall his recent posts about his wife Helen's hospitalization for implantation of an implantable pacemaker/cardioverter.

Said Glenn of the device: "The good news is that those things are available..."

He's right. But for Medicare patients, that good news is nothing to take for granted. Many of them simply haven't been able to get the device.

As our Ed Haislmaier reports for us, Medicare patients haven't had the same access to these devices as Americans with private health insurance have had. Says Ed:

[In]1985, the FDA approved the first implantable defibrillator and by 1989 the first cardioverter-defibrillator that could deliver a multi-stage shock therapy to correct heart rhythms. Since then, device companies have continued to innovate, simultaneously making ICDs more sophisticated and less costly.

But the story involving Medicare isn't so positive. Medicare first agreed to pay for ICDs for a limited number of patients in 1986. But it was not until 1991, and then again in 1999, that Medicare further expanded its definition of 'medical necessity' to cover ICDs for more Medicare beneficiaries.

In the spring of 2002, armed with new clinical trial data from the New England Journal of Medicine, ICD makers asked Medicare to further expand coverage. A year later, Medicare's Coverage Advisory Committee unanimously endorsed the expansion. By that time, private insurers were already paying for ICDs for patients with the same characteristics and the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology had already revised their treatment guidelines.

But not until June of 2003 did Medicare agree to a further coverage expansion, and then only to one-third of the recommended patient population. Only now is Medicare finally agreeing to the full ICD coverage criteria the private sector adopted two and a half years ago.

In announcing plans to expand coverage for IDCs, Medicare touted that it expects 25,000 more patients will receive IDCs in 2005, "potentially saving up to 2,500 lives." Thus, we may infer that Medicare's foot-dragging, bureaucratic coverage process probably resulted in the avoidable deaths of between 5,000 and 10,000 Medicare patients over the past two and a half years.

A big reason for Medicare's foot-dragging on IDCs is cost...

The hard truth is that, like national health systems abroad, Medicare saves money by limiting the availability of life-saving care...

Read Ed's entire piece here.

Tuesday
Mar012005

Power Line Has It Right on Judicial Nominations

Deacon and Hindrocket have it right in their Power Line commentary Monday: Bush should not entertain suggestions for judicial nominations from a bipartisan group of Senators, as suggested by very liberal Senator Charlies Schumer of New York.

For strategic reasons, Bush should show no weaknesses whatsover in the matter of judicial nominations. None.

Monday
Feb282005

Changing Social Security: The Impact on African Americans

Horace Cooper, a member of Project 21 and also a member of The National Center's board of directors, will be a panelist at a Changing Social Security: The Impact on African Americans forum tomorrow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (10 AM to noon).

Other panelists include Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), AARP Policy Director John Rother, Dr. Maya Rockeymore of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and Dr. Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy Research.

Derek McGinty will serve as moderator.

Horace will be the only participant representing a conservative/free-market point of view, so he'll need to take his vitamins tomorrow morning!

Addendum (3/5/05): The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies has announced that the audio for the conference is available online for those who wish to listen in.

Sunday
Feb272005

Vladimir Putin May Need to Get Out More

This story, by John F. Dickerson in the March 7 edition of Time magazine, is amazing:

George Bush knew Vladimir Putin would be defensive when Bush brought up the pace of democratic reform in Russia in their private meeting at the end of Bush's four-day, three-city tour of Europe. But when Bush talked about the Kremlin's crackdown on the media and explained that democracies require a free press, the Russian leader gave a rebuttal that left the President nonplussed. If the press was so free in the U.S., Putin asked, then why had those reporters at CBS lost their jobs? Bush was openmouthed. "Putin thought we'd fired Dan Rather," says a senior Administration official. "It was like something out of 1984."

The Russians did not let the matter drop. Later, during the leaders' joint press conference, one of the questioners Putin called on asked Bush about the very same firings, a coincidence the White House assumed had been orchestrated...

The article says the Administration is trying to fight this level of "misinformation" by "struggling to build relationships that go beyond Putin."

If this story is true, it explains a great deal.

Hat tip: Drudge Report.

Sunday
Feb272005

Squaring the Boston Globe: Getting Winston's Legacy Wrong

I love this piece about a Boston Globe writer who tries to use history to attack President Bush, but gets his history all wrong.

Saturday
Feb262005

Portland Home Prices: Higher Than Necessary?

An Oregon Congressman apparently is offended by National Center Policy Analyst Ryan Balis' observation in the Washington Post that "smart growth" anti-sprawl policies in Portland, Oregon have tended to push housing costs higher.

The Congressman responds with his own letter to the Post:

In his Feb. 9 letter, "The Cost of Containing Sprawl," Ryan Balis wrote: "Suppressing housing development as demand for it grows will cause prices to skyrocket. This is evident in Portland, Ore., long considered a model for 'smart growth' planning."

According to the National Association of Realtors' Web site, the median price for a single-family home in the Portland region in the third quarter of 2004 was $215,000. This compared favorably to the cost of homes in sprawling Denver, $241,800 (second-quarter data); Las Vegas, $283,200; and the Washington area, $362,400. Also, The Post has run several articles about skyrocketing housing prices in Northern Virginia, an area known for its lack of growth-management policies.

Sprawling onto unlimited supplies of land has never made housing affordable and never will. Portland's housing remains relatively affordable in large part because its smart-growth policies have curbed sprawl onto farmland and made it easier to build more types of housing on less land inside the urban-growth boundary. The result is a more livable community -- and less expensive housing. Indeed, Portland's housing prices are substantially lower than those of every West Coast city from San Diego to Seattle.

EARL BLUMENAUER
U.S. Representative (D-Ore.)
Washington

Says Ryan:
Congressman Earl Blumenauer claimed the following: "Portland's housing prices are substantially lower than those of every West Coast city from San Diego to Seattle." However, a just released housing affordability study by the National Association of Home Builders placed at least three West Coast metro areas ahead of Portland for the 4th quarter of 2004: Salem, Oregon; Olympia, Washington and Eugene-Springfield, Oregon.
My two cents: The Congressman is mixing apples with oranges. Knowing that Denver's home prices are higher than Portland's tells us nothing about the impact of "smart growth" policies on Portland prices. Furthermore, the Congressman's contention, for which he provides no support, that reducing the available supply of land for homebuilding reduces home prices violates the law of supply and demand.

We still contend: "Smart growth" policies tend to increase home prices, making homeownership more difficult for lower-income individuals and families. But we agree with the Congressman on one thing: When they do find a way to buy a home, the homes will probably be built on smaller lots.