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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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Monday
Jan242005

Johnny Carson: An Appreciation

Google has 440,000 entries for the phrase "end of an era"; yet, few of its uses are likely to be more apt than in referring to the loss of Johnny Carson.



It is not just Carson's uniqueness -- which others are addressing better than I can -- but that for much of his "Tonight Show" career, most of us had 3-4 TV channels at most. So we all had Johnny Carson in common. For thirty years.



Some reports about Carson say he was painfully shy. I'm pretty sure he was. Back in the mid-70s my parents took our family to tour NBC. Our tour was walking though an indoor parking lot when our tourguide was briefly called away. As we waited, a car pulled up. It was Carson, and he had to get out and get by us to get into the studio.



He looked at us. (We had looked at him first.) After the first few seconds it was kind of awkward -- the way it can be if you look at a stranger in an elevator and he happens to look at you and then you both feel as though someone has to say something, but no one actually has anything to say. But this was Johnny Carson; the master of talk! Who could be more comfortable filling just a few seconds with friendly chatter?



Somebody else. The King of Late Night was too shy to speak.



Soon realizing this, my Dad -- who as an engineer had professional training about as different from a professional talkmeister's as it is possible to have -- filled the awkwardness (I think he simply made a comment about the weather). Carson did reply; he was friendly, actually, but I had the definite impression that if one of our group had not spoken first, Carson would never have said a word.



Once in a long while, I think about that incident. Mostly, I think it was pretty cool that there was a social situation in which my Dad was a better conversationalist than Johnny Carson (I mean, really, it was Johnny Carson!). But I also think that if someone so painfully shy he could not even think to say something like "have a nice day" could become The Interview King, then we all should take a look at the personal weaknesses we have that we think we can't overcome. Because, just maybe, we can.



Thanks, Johnny.

Monday
Jan242005

Stand in the Trenches: Dumb Ironies

This is the best short critique of the Harvard-President-thinks-men-and-women-differ kerfluffle I have seen.

Sunday
Jan232005

Douglas Brinkley: Inconvenient History

Douglas Brinkley (the one who appears on cable shows with the title "historian") complains in the Washington Post that "the right has hijacked the word 'freedom' from the progressive movement."

...Historian Douglas Brinkley points out that Bush's use of "freedom" as political rhetoric pulls a fast one on liberals. The word had mostly been adopted by Democratic and progressive movements. Think of Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms," Brinkley said, or the "Freedom Rides" into the segregated South during the civil rights struggle of the 1960s, or the "freedom movement" to end the Vietnam War in the same period.



But Brinkley, whose book on John Kerry's Vietnam service, "Tour of Duty," became grist for a conservative attack on the Democratic candidate during the presidential campaign, says conservatives have given the word a different spin.



"The right has hijacked the word 'freedom' from the progressive movement," he said. "It's now becoming associated with the global liberation policy of the Republican Party. The left hasn't put up much of a fight to stop it."
Comments:



1) Brinkley remembers the civil rights Freedom Rides of the early 1960s as part of the "Democratic and progressive movements." The progressives (read: liberals) did support the Freedom Rides. Democrats, at best, were split. (Think for a minute about which political party controlled the segregated southern states.)



2) At the 1964 Republican National Convention, in the most significant non-Reagan American conservative speech of the last 100 years, Barry Goldwater said:
"...My fellow Americans, the tide has been running against freedom. Our people have followed false prophets. We must, and we shall, return to proven ways -- not because they are old, but because they are true.



We must, and we shall, set the tide running again in the cause of freedom. And this party, with its every action, every word, every breath, and every heartbeat, has but a single resolve, and that is freedom.



Freedom made orderly for this nation by our constitutional government. Freedom under a government limited by laws of nature and of nature's God. Freedom balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the slavery of the prison cell; balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the license of the mob and of the jungle.



Now, we Americans understand freedom; we have earned it, we have lived for it, and we have died for it. This nation and its people are freedom's models in a searching world. We can be freedom's missionaries in a doubting world.



But, ladies and gentlemen, first we must renew freedom's mission in our own hearts and in our own homes...
The word "freedom" was a major theme of conservatism in the 1960s. And since. (Does Brinkley not remember that the #1 objective of the Reagan Administration was victory in the Cold War -- or does he not understand what the Cold War fundamentally was about?)



3) Franklin Roosevelt's Four Freedoms speech concludes with a message that could have been -- and, arguably, was -- delivered by George W. Bush:
This nation has placed its destiny in the hands, heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women, and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.



To that high concept there can be no end save victory.
Contrast them with the ideas expressed in these lines from Bush's Second Inaugural:
From the day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights and dignity and matchless value because they bear the image of the maker of heaven and earth. Across the generations, we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave.



Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time. So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.
Bush is continuing Roosevelt's work, not hijacking it. (I refer to continuing FDR's work as outlined in the quoted excerpt and the passages supporting it -- parts of the rest of FDR's speech, including its January 1941(!) support for disarmament, could be read as a case study of how liberalism failed).



Freedom is neither a Republican nor Democrat value; it is an American value. We do not hijack it from one another; we defend it together.



Douglas Brinkley, partisan, just doesn't get it.

Sunday
Jan232005

Blunt Talk from U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln

Michelle Malkin has a link to an on-the-scene report from a writer who serves on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, which is engaged in tsunami relief in Indonesia.



The writer, "Ed Stanton," does not mince words.

Saturday
Jan222005

Anti-Spam Blogs

A blog about spam.



Efforts to fight it, that is.



And here's another one.



While this anti-spam site has an article about new developments in the war against comment spam on blogs.

Saturday
Jan222005

The Paragraph Farmer: Misreading the Coverage

The Paragraph Farmer uses a football analogy while analyzing Bush's Second Inaugural Address.

Friday
Jan212005

Appreciation

"There's snow! It's on the playground! That's beautiful!"



That's what my four-year-old son said when he saw the newest picture atop the Everything I Know Is Wrong blog earlier this evening.



(The articles there are nice, too.)

Friday
Jan212005

New Sisyphus: State Department Underground

Another member of the State Department Republican underground has a blog.



This post in particular caught my eye. There are some good comments posted to it, too.


Friday
Jan212005

Glenn Reynolds: Regulator?

Glenn Reynolds seems to be calling for governmental regulation of free speech.



If the government can regulate a nonprofit's ability to say it believes that one in five children have been sexually solicited online, then that same government can regulate a nonprofit's way of speaking about Social Security reform, the war on terrorism, or whether low-carb or low-fat diets are the healthiest ways to lose weight.



Apparently, in Glenn's World, nonprofits may only commit government-approved speech. Rules applied retroactively.



Does Glenn know how much scrutiny nonprofits receive? Does he know how much time and financial resources nonprofits already put into meeting regulatory requirements? (I suspect not.) He writes, "Nonprofits need to be getting the kind of financial-accounting scrutiny that businesses get." What leads him to believe that they don't now? Does he think a nonprofit's CEO can't go to jail for signing a false tax return (the non-profit's equivalent of a for-profit's financial statement)?



Is he aware that a typical national nonprofit (to be "national" in this context all you have to do is have "please donate" on a website that is accessible from all fifty states, even if no one donates) is regulated by nearly fifty different government agencies?



Glenn says, "Some readers may think I'm not serious about these proposals. I am." Maybe I missed them, but I didn't actually see any actual suggestions for what regulations he would change, where he thinks enforcement has been lax and what he would do about it.



Glenn's post, by the way, rebutted itself. He quoted a Wall Street Journal columnist who challenged the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's sex stat while (oddly) claiming no one would challenge the (supposedly false) sex stat. But both the columnist and Glenn Reynolds complained about it. The Wall Street Journal and Instapundit's 150,000 readers a day versus the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Is something unfair about this? And even if one side or the other has a larger audience (which?), is not the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children entitled to its opinion?



And, speaking of that opinion, Glenn calls for regulation based on the supposed inaccuracy of a statistic that might not be inaccurate. Does Professor Reynolds not receive spam? Tell me that one in five children who receive e-mail have NOT been sexually solicited online. Probably repeatedly. Unless you narrowly define "solicitation" exclusively as one-on-one solicitations for in-person sexual activity and make a case that Triple XXX porn site solicitations don't count -- an argument made neither by the Wall Street Journal columnist nor by Glenn -- the stat on the face of it appears reasonable. There is just too much porn spam out there for kids not to be receiving it in droves.



But the point of this post is not to take a position on how many kids get sexual solicitations online -- just to say that the government should not regulate the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's right to say what it thinks on the matter, just as Glenn and the Wall Street Journal should be able to say what they think, unfettered by regulation.



When perhaps the nation's #1 blogger calls for government regulation of the content of public policy speech, one wonders: Will a call for government regulation of blog content be next? Sometimes bloggers post things that -- horrors! -- readers disagree with. Should someone go to jail?



Quick, somebody, call the regulators. We're all going to jail.

Thursday
Jan202005

Rumsfeld the Wimp...

...at least, in comparison.



Personally, if we are going to have a sex symbol at DoD, I'd like to keep the male one.

Wednesday
Jan192005

The Corner: Arlen Specter's Early Moves

I actually noticed this National Review "The Corner" post by Ramesh Ponnuru because it contains a link to a Project 21 press release, but I am glad I did.



It seems Senator Arlen Specter has hired one of the NAACP's top lawyers for the Judiciary Committee staff as one of his first acts as Judiciary Committee Chairman.



Stay tuned...

Wednesday
Jan192005

FDR's Sparse Fourth Inaugural

Dittos on what Squaring the Boston Globe says about FDR's fourth inaugural, and Bush's second.



Harry includes a link to and comments about FDR's fourth inaugural address ("[it] would choke any Democrat who tried to give it today"). Agree. There's something else I noticed, re-reading it. It reads like something someone says when he knows he's dying.

Wednesday
Jan192005

Overlawyered: Newsweek v. Washington Monthly

We are in for a tumultuous four years, folks. Nationally, the Right is in the most advantageous policymaking position it has been in since before the New Deal. The Left knows it, and is throwing everything it can against the Right in an attempt to stop or slow its agenda.



One of several top areas of confrontation is, and for some time will remain, civil legal (tort) reform.



I say all this by way of introduction to one of the battles in the tort reform war, as illuminated by a post on Walter Olson's Overlawyered.com today.



In December 2003, Newsweek ran an cover story on tort reform by Stuart Taylor, Jr. and Evan Thomas. Reformers loved it (including me). The liberal Washington Monthly did not. In October 2004, the Washington Monthly picked apart the Newsweek piece. One of the Newsweek authors responded, asking the Washington Monthly to run the response in their magazine. So far, its editors have not.



The rebuttal, along with Washington Monthly's allegations of Newsweek inaccuracies, makes for an excellent survey of some of the key issues involved in tort reform. Walter Olson has it all here.



And as for Newsweek in this instance fighting on "our side" -- well, I did say the Right is in its best position since the New Deal, didn't I?

Wednesday
Jan192005

From Mrs Suha Arafat - Again

When I said this letter was just a parody, I did predict "so far."



Not anymore.



Can the people who fall for stuff this stupid really have any money worth stealing? (Maybe the joke is on the 419-ers.)



Hat tip: American Digest.

Wednesday
Jan192005

Social Security Reform: Necessary or Not?

The Wall Street Journal is hosting a bloggers' debate on Social Security reform.



Visitors are being encouraged to vote in an online poll and leave public comments about the debate.



Hat tip: InstaPundit.

Tuesday
Jan182005

Greatest American: Nominations Open

AOL Television/Discovery Channel is asking the public to nominate up to five people per person for the title of "greatest American," living or dead. They'll tell us who the top 100 vote-getters are.



You can vote online here.



One of my five nominees is my late father. Not all of the greatest Americans are famous.

Tuesday
Jan182005

Third Infantry Division Support Blog

The Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, which has just been deployed to Iraq, wants family, friends and supporters to know they have a blog.



You can visit, read and leave comments here.

Tuesday
Jan182005

Tryanny Has No Dress Code

Ed Haislmaier recommends this Mark Steyn piece on the "Prince Harry as a Nazi" flap.

Monday
Jan172005

Social Security Employees Oppose Answering Questions According to Employer's Instructions

I was going to write a post about the whining labor union representing employees of the Social Security Administration, but Dick McDonald did it first.



Dick is way less P.C. than I am, but he hits the nail on the head.



By the way, the White House says the entire kerfluffle is fake -- which is what most sane observers already thought. The union's big whine was that Social Security Administration employees might be asked questions by the public, and be expected to answer them according to their employer's point of view.



There is a way to avoid that, if it actually were happening: Quit. Nobody elected these people. Besides, anyone who is not comfortable working for a variety of presidential administrations should not seek to spend their career as a federal government employee. Sometimes these folks answer to Democrats; other times, to Republicans. Live with it or move on.

Sunday
Jan162005

Daly Thoughts Returns

After a post-election break, Gerry returns.



We missed you!