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Wednesday
Jun082005

Sex Story or Property Rights Story? I Say the Latter

The Washington Post has a page one story Wednesday about the government of the District of Columbia seizing property where gay sex clubs have been located for some thirty years.

The city, says the Post, has "notified property owners that the city will make offers for their parcels, possibly by next month, and that it intends to force out those who don't move by year's end."

The reason for the land seizure is the city's desire to build a baseball stadium on the land owned by these establishments.

Essentially, the city is taking land owned by some private businesses for the benefit of the owners, as yet unknown, of baseball's Washington Nationals.

In a piece otherwise largely sympathetic to the owners and patrons of the clubs, the Washington Post never managed to use the phrase "property rights" even once. Yet, all things being equal, isn't it wrong for the government to take private property belonging to one private business and turn it over to the benefit of another?

Didn't the property rights issue deserve at least some mention?

Apparently Post editors didn't think so. They did, however, provide plenty of coverage of the sexual elements of the story.

Sunday
Jun052005

Maryland Christian Preschool Opportunity -- A Rare Blog Endorsement

I usually leave the personal stuff out of this blog because, well, it is not a personal kind of blog. But I am making an exception tonight to tout the preschool two of my three children attended over the past year for these reasons: Because it is fantastic and because, for some odd reason, they don't have a waiting list right now for the 2005-2006 school year. (Last year at his time we were placed on a waiting list for the 2004-2005 program, and barely made it in.)

The program is the Kindergarten Readiness Program at the Annapolis Area Christian School. As the name implies, it is designed for children one year too young for kindergarten, and it specializes in getting them ready in every way. Also as the name implies, it is Christian, and it means it. Our pre-K kids memorized 24 verses each over the school year -- and were happy to do it, in part because they earned stickers.

Our kids loved the Annapolis Area Christian School and David and I could not be happier with everything about their Kingergarten Readiness program, including the friends they made and the dedication and friendless of the teachers and the other parents. So, when I heard they had unexpected openings left for the next school year, I wanted to put in a plug in this blog.

If you live anywhere near Annapolis, MD (we drove a half-hour each way and never regretted it), and are looking for a good school for a four-year-old, and you are seeking a solid (and fun) educational program with a Christian foundation, I urge you to give the Annapolis Area Christian School a look.

Saturday
Jun042005

Congress' Most Partisan Members of the Last 25 Years

Roll Call has assembled a list of "the top 10 most partisan Congressional 'street fighters' from the past 50 years."

Roll Call, which admits this list is "somewhat subjective" (I'd call it very subjective), says its criteria were "Members who are viewed as the most combative, most effective at using partisanship for political gain and most likely to show a virtual disregard for the other side of the aisle."

Roll Call's selections were:

Rep. Jim Wright (D-Texas)
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.)
Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.)
Sen. Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio)
Rep. Bob Walker (R-Pa.)
Rep. Tony Coelho (D-Calif.)
Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas)
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
I would write a very different list (listing Mitch McConnell but not former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell is ludicrious, for example, and how could none of the following make the list: Tip O'Neill, Lyndon Johnson, Robert Byrd, or Sam Rayburn?).

Barbara Boxer's probably on the list because they wanted to include a woman. Does she deserve the "chick chair" more than Bella Abzug?

How is it that Democrats dominated Congress during most of the last 50 years, yet most of the "most partisan Congressional street fighters" Roll Call lists are Republicans? Over the paast 50 years, were Republicans better at partisan fighting while the Democrats were better at winning -- and, if so, how?

Roll Call's list of the "most partisan Congressional street fighters" of the last 50 years mentions only one member who served most of his term during the first 25 of those 50 years. That member, Jim Wright, is still well-known today. Could it be -- scary thought -- that Roll Call journalists and the "dozens of political observers" Roll Call called upon to pick the list don't know much about near-recent Congressional history?

I am reminded of the old saw that every generation of young people thinks it invented sex. In Washington, every generation thinks it invented partisanship. So count the Roll Call article as a "fun to argue over" list of the best Congressional partisan street fighters of the last 25 years -- with plenty to argue over.

Saturday
Jun042005

Regarding Deep Throat II

Ben Stein's piece on Deep Throat and Genocide doesn't mince words.

Keith Olbermann blogs some interesting Deep Throat questions.

John Dean, closer to the story, finds many errors in Deep Throat's tips to Woodward, while journalist William Greider, writing for the left-wing publication The Nation (as reprinted by CBS News), says the value of Deep Throat's "impeccable" information proves the need unnamed sources.

Tuesday
May312005

Regarding Deep Throat

One of Richard Nixon's biographers doesn't believe the "Deep Throat" mystery is over, but Ben Bradlee, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward are confirming it.

Bradlee, Bernstein's and Woodward's top editor, said Tuesday that he didn't learn Deep Throat's name until after Nixon resigned. In 1972, neither Bernstein nor Woodward had celebrated their 30th birthdays. At the time, neither was particularly experienced. Given the importance of the story, shouldn't their editor have checked their sources?

Writing in her autobiography, the late Post publisher Katherine Graham wrote (page 471, March 1998 paperback edition) of the Post's Watergate coverage:

From the outset, the editors had resolved to handle the story with more than the usual scrupulous attention to fairness and detail.
Yet, even by this standard, young reporters were not required to reveal the name of a key source to an editor? (Graham writes in her 1997 autobiography that she still did not know Deep Throat's identity.)

In what to me is another curious passage, Graham writes (page 483) that on January 15, 1973 she asked Woodward to tell her Deep Throat's identity:

It was also at this lunch that Woodward told me he had told no one the identity of Deep Throat. "Tell me," I said quickly, and then, as he froze, I laughed, touched his arm, and said that I was only kidding -- I didn't want to carry that burden around.
In her situation, wasn't "that burden" her responsibility? What if 29-year-old Woodward had been an early Stephen Glass? And while Graham then relates that Woodward did tell her he would give her Deep Throat's name if she pressed, he also, she said, "was praying I wouldn't press him." Why?

It strikes me as curious that the Post's top leadership believed they should trust young reporters while the young reporters were not required to trust their top editor and publisher.

Is the Post run this way today?

Monday
May302005

Jeff Jarvis Profiled

In a Washington Post profile by Howard Kurtz today, blogger Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine shares his proudest moment.

Sunday
May292005

EU Grounds Flying Fortress

Speaking of the EU, here's another reason not to like it:

A World War II Flying Fortress cannot make a flypast at a tribute for America's war dead [May 30] because of barmy EU insurance rules.

Sally B, Britain's last flying B-17, was due to take part in the Memorial Day event at the American military cemetery at Madingley near Cambridge.

Thousands of American airmen laid to rest in the cemetery's graves once flew in B-17 bombers and of the 45,000 US air crew who lost their lives over Europe in WWII most took off from British bases.

But thanks to Brussels, much-loved Sally B, is now in the same insurance category as a passenger jet.

This month the new aircraft insurance rules sent her annual premium soaring 50 per cent by an unaffordable £25,000 and she has been grounded ever since.

Sally B, which is operated by a charity and based at the Imperial War Museum's aviation collection at Duxford, has already been forced to miss Victory in Europe commemorations in Southampton.

It costs £300,000 to keep her airborne each year and she is paid an 'appearance fee' for flypasts.

If she does not fly again soon, her operators fear they will have no choice but to sell her to American collectors.

Their spokesman Sean Maffett said that Sally B had flown on Memorial Day for the last 30 years. He said it was "ironic" that she had now been grounded by Brussels bureaucrats.

He said: "It is quite extraordinary and ironic that this year because of European bureaucracy, which would not even exist but for the B-17, Sally B will not be flying.

"Even when Sally B is on training flights from Duxford, she tries to fly over the cemetery at least once because it means so much to anyone there to look up and see her...

Read the entire article, from Britain's Life Style Extra, here.

A tip of the hat to Dr. Eamonn Butler of Britain's Adam Smith Institute for alerting me to this story in a blog post he wrote on the excellent Adam Smith Institute Blog. Butler's post on the Flying Fortress is accessible here.

Sunday
May292005

If I Were French I Wouldn't Ratify It Either

From an essay by Timothy Garton Ash in the May 30 Guardian:

For the French to say no to Europe is like the English saying no to beef or the Russians saying no to vodka. Or perhaps like the heart saying no to the body. Yesterday the French did not just say no to a particular, cumbersome constitutional treaty, despite the fact that its main architect was a Frenchman. They said no to what the EU has become since the fall of the Berlin Wall. No to a much-enlarged EU where France is no longer in the driving seat. No to the prospect of Turkish membership. No to Anglo-Saxon-style economic reform: deregulation, free-market liberalism, Thatcherism imported via Brussels. And, of course, no to lupine Jacques Chirac, and the Parisian governments and elites they feel have failed them...
If I were French, I wouldn't have ratified it either -- though not to avoid "Thatcherism." Thatcherism works, but the EU is doomed to failure.

Sunday
May292005

Eddie Albert: War Hero

In a post on the Chicago Boyz blog, James Rummel told me something I didn't know about actor Eddie Albert, who died May 26.

Saturday
May282005

Heritage Policy Blog: Social Security Options

The Heritage Policy Blog has an interesting post on Social Security:

The Hill reports that Clinton-era Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin met with House Democrats yesterday to advise them on the Social Security debate.

His advice was simple, reports the Hill:

Putting out a Democrat plan on Social Security would be a horrible mistake because right now it's the president's principles against our principles, Rubin said, according to a Democratic leadership aide. The aide added that Rubin told his party colleagues that it would be hard to win a battle of specifics.
Telling, isn't it?

And the message that his audience took was a bit strange:

Another leadership aide said, "From a political standpoint, he said, hold firm because you have a difference in principles; their principle is a privatization plan, ours is not to add to the deficit, and there's not a whole lot of room for compromise."
Not adding to the deficit is an admirable principle. Carried out fully, it would mean cutting benefits around 2017, when the Social Security trust fund bonds begin to come due. Alternatively, it could mean raising taxes then or slashing other spending...
Read the rest of the Heritage Policy Blog post here.

Saturday
May282005

First Amendment's True Guardians

Via the always thought-provoking Tapscott's Copy Desk, I learned that several of my favorite bloggers have started a new group blog dedicated to "highlighting bias, rumor and falsehoods that have been creeping into military coverage under the guise of objective news."



I liked the sentiment in this sentence in the new website's "Purpose" post:

As much as journalists feel that they are the guardians of the First Amendment, its true protectors are standing watch in Iraq, Afghanistan and places no one will ever hear about.

Thursday
May262005

Conservative Comics

Michael King highlights a cultural first.

Thursday
May262005

Chris Matthews v. Nan Aron

Barbara Ledeen of the Senate Republican Conference is circulating a transcript of a Chris Matthews/MSNBC interview with Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice. The Alliance for Justice is a leading organization working with Senators opposing the confirmation of "extremist" judicial nominees.

In this interview, Aron defines "extremist" -- and manages to make liberal Chris Matthews, by contrast, look like a conservative.

The following is an excerpt of the interview, with some of the parts I found most noteworthy in bold. I've provided a link to entire interview at the beginning and end of the excerpt for those who wish to read it in full context.

MSNBC Hardball with Chris Matthews Transcript
May 24, 2005


MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about -- do you believe -- let me just go to what I think might be just sort of a paradigm here. If the president were so nominate Associate Justice Antonin Scalia for chief justice, then bring in his attorney general in, who has already passed the Senate muster, for associate justice, would that be an extraordinary nomination?

ARON: Based what we've read of his record or Alberto Gonzales' record, I think that there would be extraordinary circumstances. And I certainly think the Senate would filibuster.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So, you would ask for a veto? You would ask for a filibuster against that?

ARON: We certainly would.

MATTHEWS: Against Scalia?

ARON: We certainly would. Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: Scalia was approved by 98-0 to be put on the court. And he served all these years. Why would all of sudden become an extraordinarily bad proposal?

ARON: He has a record on the Supreme Court of extremist, of holding -- upholding laws that hurt people, of denying ordinary Americans their rights and protections. I think, if he's elevated to chief, I think that there would be an outcry, an outcry.

MATTHEWS: OK. He`s extraordinary?

ARON: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: How about Clarence Thomas? Is he extraordinary?

ARON: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I think he's someone on the Supreme Court that doesn't even believe in...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: So you would filibuster -- is there anyone you can think of who might be picked by the president for the Supreme Court if there's an opening this summer who doesn't fit your definition of extraordinarily bad and therefore requiring...

ARON: Sure. I think if -- if -- if President Bush were to elevate Sandra Day O`Connor, that that nomination wouldn't constitute extraordinary circumstances. And I think she would probably be confirmed.

MATTHEWS: Or Kennedy? Or Anthony Kennedy?

ARON: I don't think Kennedy is even is within the running.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

ARON: But I think if -- in fact, if he were selected, that he, too, just like Sandra Day O'Connor, might be confirmed.

MATTHEWS: And, if it's Souter, you would put bells on your feet, right?

(LAUGHTER)

ARON: Well, yes.

MATTHEWS: I don't think that's likely.

ARON: But I don't think it'll happen.

MATTHEWS: So, in other words, you -- I`m trying to define what this means.

Well, let me ask you this. You've got seven Democrats there who all come from pretty moderate states. I noticed. I was going down the list of Ben Nelson, Nebraska, hardly a left-wing hangout. You've got Lieberman from Connecticut, which could be somewhat liberal on this issue of abortion rights. You have got Pryor from Arkansas, Byrd from West Virginia. You`ve got Landrieu from Louisiana. You've got Salazar from Colorado, Inouye from Hawaii.

Hawaii and Connecticut are the only really liberal states represented by these deal-makers. Does that concern you, that the Democrats have found a way to avoid dealing with the abortion rights people, have people deal who don't represent the liberal states?

ARON: No, because I think a nominee will be examined based on his or her entire record. And I think, at the end of the day, if that record is one of extremism, if this candidate...

MATTHEWS: On abortion

ARON: ... is against individuals rights...

MATTHEWS: What -- what -- what -- how do you define extremism?

ARON: Well, if there's a nominee who is tapped for the seat who opposed to Roe vs. Wade, that would constitute...

MATTHEWS: That's an extremist?

ARON: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: But a person who is for Roe v. Wade is not an extremist?

ARON: No, because Roe vs. Wade is great, a landmark precedent, just like Brown vs. Board of Education.

MATTHEWS: But there are three members of the Supreme Court right now who would vote against Roe v. Wade if it was an open question? Are they extremists?

ARON: On that issue, they certainly are. But abortion isn't...

MATTHEWS: Scalia, Thomas and Rehnquist are extremists?

ARON: Absolutely. Absolutely. And if Thomas or Scalia were to be elevated to the chief justice position, we at the Alliance For Justice and other organizations around the country...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Let me get some legal history here. Roe v. Wade came in, in '73, right?

GRAY: That's correct.

MATTHEWS: So, we didn`t have it before then.

GRAY: Right.

MATTHEWS: So, everybody who was on the Supreme Court before '73 was an extremist, by this definition, because they weren't Roe v. Wade? They didn't believe a woman had an inherent right to an abortion.

GRAY: That's correct.

MATTHEWS: You say that's true?

(CROSSTALK)

ARON: No.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, what do you mean by extremist?

ARON: You've got a completely different court today than you did in 1973.

MATTHEWS: No, I'm asking a question. You're saying that, until 1973, the United States Supreme Court was inhabited by extremists, because they didn't support the woman's right to choice. They didn't find in the Constitution this inherent right to privacy, this penumbra of privacy which allows for a woman to make that choice.

ARON: We are looking...

MATTHEWS: They were extremists, therefore?

ARON: We're looking for individuals who are respectful of people's individual rights and liberties.

MATTHEWS: ... respectful. I'm asking about constitutional questions here.

The transcript continues. You can read it all here.

Thursday
May262005

Future Malpractice Alert

Via Overlawyered and Kevin, M.D., we learn of medical residents with learning disabilities who have filed lawsuits, demanding that the medical profession accomodate their disability.

Tuesday
May242005

Meanwhile, Iranian Mullahs Continue Pro-U.S. Lovefest

CNN headline: "Syria Halts Cooperation with U.S."

How could anyone tell?

Tuesday
May242005

Nice Stem Cell Bias, Voice of America

This Voice of America (?) report is headlined "U.S. Lawmakers Hand President Bush Defeat on Stem Cell Research."

It begins:

In a challenge to President Bush, the House of Representatives has approved legislation by a vote 238 to 194 to expand federal government funding for research using embryonic stem cells. House action came just days after a new advance in stem cell research in South Korea, which many lawmakers say underscores the need to intensify stem cell research in the United States...
President Bush has pledged to veto this particular stem cell legislation. Therefore, assuming this stem cell bill makes it to the President's desk, it won't become law unless Bush's veto is overridden. That takes a two-thirds vote. So far, proponents have only 55 percent of the House votes cast.

So Bush won.

To be fair, in paragraph 14, some distance below the headline, the article does mention that proponents failed to achieve a veto-proof majority.

The article also gives arguments in favor of the bill higher placement in the text, including the lead paragraph and paragraph three. Reasons for opposition to the legislation do not appear until paragraph four. Overall, sentences favoring the legislation accounted for 310 words; opposing it, 256.

The article also struck an unintentional lighter note by referring to Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney as "he."

Monday
May232005

Great Moments in Minority Rule

Underlying the fondness for the judicial filibuster is the scantily-disguised philosophy that the minority knows better than the majority.

Husband David has considered this philosophy, and found it wanting:

To hear Senate Democrats talk, you'd think that only majorities are capable of tyranny. That seems to be the general thrust of their argument for maintaining the judicial filibuster.

But history is littered with examples of tyranny by the minority -- examples that prove tyranny is no picnic, regardless of who the tyrant may be.

Here are just a few of the most spectacular examples:

1948-1990
South Africa: Under the apartheid regime, non-whites were barred from voting in general elections; they were required to carry identification cards wherever they went; they were told where they could live and where they could travel; they were prevented from using certain public amenities; and they were routinely abused by the white-run police force -- despite the fact that they accounted for more than three-quarters of the nation's population.

1963-2003
Iraq: After seizing power twice through military coups -- once in 1963 and again in 1968 -- Iraq's minority-run Ba'athist party ruled Iraq with an iron fist until deposed by the U.S. military two years ago. In 1988, for example, Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime used nerve agents to kill an estimated 100,000 Kurds. The Ba'athist Party is made up principally of Sunnis, who currently make up about one-fifth of Iraq's population.

1964
U.S.: To stop the Civil Rights Act of 1964 from becoming the law of the land, Southern Democrats filibustered it for 57 hours before a sufficient number of votes were lined up to invoke cloture.

1972
Burundi: Burundi's Tutsi-run government exterminated as many as 200,000 Hutus. Tutsis are an ethnic minority making up only about a sixth of Burundi's population, while Hutus are the ethnic majority making up more than 80% of the population.

There's no automatic virtue in minority rule.

Monday
May232005

Nice Bias, AP

From the lead paragraph of an AP op-ed news story:

WASHINGTON May 23, 2005 - In a dramatic reach across party lines, Senate centrists agreed Monday night on a compromise that clears the way for confirmation of many of President Bush's stalled judicial nominees, leaves others in limbo and preserves venerable filibuster rules.
From the American Heritage Dictionary via Dictionary.com, "venerable" is defined as:
1. Commanding respect by virtue of age, dignity, character, or position.

2. Worthy of reverence, especially by religious or historical association: venerable relics.

Thanks, AP, for telling us what to think about the filibuster rule, but we're smart enough to think for ourselves.

Addendum: P.S. to anyone not certain the AP's lead paragraph, above, is biased: Does the following paragraph seem biased?

WASHINGTON May 23, 2005 - In a dramatic reach across party lines, Senate centrists agreed Monday night on a compromise that clears the way for confirmation of many of President Bush's venerable judicial nominees, leaves others in limbo and preserves filibuster rules.
Bias-wise, what's the difference between the two paragraphs? Answer: No difference -- except the AP would never print the second one.

Monday
May232005

Cliff Kincaid: Abolish Public TV and Radio

Cliff Kincaid says:

In a front-page story on May 2, the New York Times accused the new Republican chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting of "aggressively pressing public television to correct what he and other conservatives consider liberal bias..." That was in the first paragraph. If you got to the 22nd paragraph, continued back on page 19, you found that the CPB chairman, Kenneth Tomlinson, was insisting that the programs it supports and funds adhere to the federal law requiring objectivity and balance. That law was passed back in 1967 and has been flaunted by public TV and radio ever since...
He also says:
What's needed is a congressional effort to de-fund public broadcasting. In a 500-channel universe, public broadcasting should survive on its own -- if it can.
I agree.

Read it all here.

Monday
May232005

Catherine Crier: Filibuster Fight is About Creating a Theocracy

Catherine Crier seems to believe that the battle over the "nuclear option" is actually a fight over whether the U.S. becomes a theocracy:

The Senate filibuster fight between Republicans and Democrats is not over the majority's attempt to put more conservative judges on the bench. Contrary to their mantra -- that liberal 'activist' judges have taken over the courts -- the nation has had a majority of Republican appointees on the federal bench and Supreme Court for generations. No, this is a fight over a very specific judicial ideology that the far right wing of the Republican Party wants ensconced in our courts...

The real fight is not over the lower courts in the federal system, but instead, the ultimate prize -- the highest court in the land. There is no question that President Bush will have the opportunity to appoint several justices to that Court during his second term. He has made his ideological preferences clear. Conservative justices aren't enough. He wants jurists of a particular persuasion. They must satisfy the requirements of fundamentalist Christians, with a willingness to roll back the clock to a time where children prayed to Jesus in public school, gays were back in the closet and women were forced into back alleys.

Those with different religious beliefs, (forget those with none at all), are dismissed entirely. Those who assert they are moral without believing in the Scriptures, verbatim, go straight to Hell.

If we want a Theocracy in this country, then ignore the assault on our nation's judges. If you believe in the Republic that our Founding Fathers bequeathed, then prepare to battle for the one remaining branch of the government that has not yet been co-opted -- the federal Judiciary.

I read her post four times in an effort to be sure she really means this. It seems too extreme to be her real view, so I urge my readers here to read the whole thing for yourself to judge for yourself if I am accurately describing her views in this piece.