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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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Tuesday
Jan112005

France: Hopeless Even When It Means Well

If the official French attitude toward the United States and the American military has frustrated you, you will very much appreciate this post on Bloggledygook.



Appreciate, that is, in a sad and perhaps pitiful kind of way. (It would be much nicer to appreciate competence and brilliance.)



If you like the Bloggledygook post, be sure to read the post Bloggledygook is writing about, for more details.

Tuesday
Jan112005

Peter Roff: Torture and Gonzales

Peter Roff of UPI has a standout opinion column out tonight on torture and Attorney General-designate Alberto Gonzales. It begins:

"Your college-age junior comes to you with plans to spend mid-winter break in Florida rather than come home. Against your better judgment but recognizing that all children eventually grow up and leave the nest, you assent and, grudgingly, even help out with some spending money.



With a kiss on the forehead, you see them off at the airport, but not before extracting a promise of a phone call as soon as the plane lands in south Florida. Traffic being what it is, the drive back from the airport take several hours. Drained, you can do little more than flop down in front of the television -- just in time to see a breaking news bulletin explaining that your child's plane was blown out of the sky over the Gulf of Mexico by what witnesses said looked to be a surface-to-air missile fired from a ship.



There are no survivors.



The subsequent investigation reveals terror-war detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, planned the attack. Had effective methods of interrogation been available to U.S. personnel, it could have been uncovered and prevented.



Now, do complaints that Attorney General-designate Alberto Gonzales might have placed the safety and security of U.S. citizens over the interests of captured detainees still bother you? Or are you grateful that he did?"
Read the whole thing here.



Addendum:: A e-mail I received about this post today reads:
Came across Amy Ridenour's endorsement of Peter Roff's argument that torture ought to be accepted based on a hypothetical attack conducted by Gitmo

prisoners, who in the fantasy would have given up their plan if they'd been tortured some more.



The fictional character could just has easily been killed by a drunk driver, and following the logic of this piece, Americans should reinstate prohibition.



Conservatives would hardly accept this kind of reasoning regarding gun control, yet it makes perfect sense to them as a justification for torture.



It's incredibly lazy thinking.



Chris Burgoyne
Reply: If you knew someone was about to get drunk, get in a car and kill someone, would you stop him? I would. Maybe Mr./Ms. Burgoyne would not? (Actually, he/she probably would.)



The gun control analogy is too far afield to apply. Furthermore, Mr. /Ms. Burgoyne ignores everything Peter Roff wrote about the word "torture" being "defined up."



But thanks for writing anyway.

Tuesday
Jan112005

Staples - Sinclair - Media Matters: Who's on First?

A very brief update on our coverage of Staples - Sinclair - Media Matters...



This article on the Staples affair ends on a funny note:

...As for how the issue will eventually be settled between Staples - which now says it will advertise during Sinclair's newscasts - and Media Matters, [Media Matters spokesman Sally] Aman is unsure.



"Frankly, I'm confused myself," she said.
(Maybe it would be less confusing if Media Matters would name names. Who are the Staples "officials" Media Matters says approved the original Media Matters press release making the claims about Staples that got all this started?)



Meanwhile, I received the following in my e-mail box Monday:
I called my Staples representative to inform him I was firing Staples. He gave me their 1-800 number for the office of the President. I called, their story was that they were not cancelling "all of their advertising on Sinclair" just on I think the news shows. I told her that had to be politically motivated and I would vote with my feet. I also advised her that I feel a larger share of their customer base would be against their move than would favor it. In my company, which I own, I have informed my people that I will not pay to Staples nor reimburse for receipts from Staples.



Perhaps Staples will more clearly understand the freedom of speech issue, and that it has to work on all sides of an issue.



I would have to hear Sinclair come out and declare that Staples is fully advertising as before this issue prior to any change in my position.



Sincerely,



Winston Crawford
So the confusion continues. I suggest we just wait and see. Staples will either advertise on Sinclair's news broadcasts this year, or it won't.



By now, Staples knows we all are watching.

Tuesday
Jan112005

No WASPs Need Visit

Maybe if you are white, middle-class, middle-aged and don't use a wheelchair the British government will still let you in if you pretend to need a wheelchair?



Which does add an ironic twist to the fact that these programs are called "walks..."

Monday
Jan102005

Michelle Malkin: Google News Blackout?

Michelle Malkin is wondering if Google News has a biased algorithm, since the CBS story is all over the Internet, yet the CBS report does not appear on Google's list of top U.S. news stories.



Here's my guess, and it is only a guess: The Google News algorithim may have been written to overlook the names of major news publications in stories. Otherwise, terms such as "CBS," Washington Post, etc. would end up with a high placement on Google news, because all the stories these institutions publish carry their name.



If I'm right, ordinarily, this is good. But it does not work very well when a publication name is also the subject of the story.



Just my two cents.



Addendum: UNCoRRELATED says: "Algorithms don't conspire" -- and explains.



Addendum 2 (1/11): There's a "Watching Google Like A Hawk" website (it linked to this post and Michelle's).



Who knew?

Monday
Jan102005

Rethinking No-Fault Divorce  

Boots and Sabers makes a good point about this article on rethinking no-fault divorce.

Monday
Jan102005

Where is Putin Taking Russia?

Mark McDonald of Knight Ridder provides an unhappy assessment:

"We're in a downward spiral, and it's a tragedy," said Alexei Kondaurov, a former KGB general who's now a millionaire businessman and an opposition member of the Duma, Russia's lower house of Parliament. "I have no illusions about who rules Russia and what goes on here. All my forecasts are negative."



Nikolai Zlobin, an analyst with the Center for Defense Information, a global-security research center based in Washington, thinks "the United States no longer regards Russia as a democratic country ... and Putin is no longer perceived as a democrat in the Western sense of the word."
(I can't believe I just quoted both a former KGB general and the Center for Defense Information -- in both cases, probably a first for me.)

Monday
Jan102005

Interesting Concept, But It Will Never Catch On

Why isn't Al Gore's name on this e-mail?



Hat tip: Slashdot.

Monday
Jan102005

Malpractice Crisis is Real

This USA Today editorial says:

Chris Heffner, a neurosurgeon in southern Illinois, stopped treating head-trauma patients when his annual malpractice insurance premium doubled to $265,000. With only two neurosurgeons in the area, brain-trauma victims now have to be airlifted to St. Louis...



The malpractice crisis is real, though concentrated in high-risk specialties. One in seven obstetricians/gynecologists have stopped delivering babies, and three-quarters have been sued at least once, a 2003 survey found. Physicians have faced double-digit-plus premium increases for years.



We all pay for this broken system. High premiums force physicians and hospitals to raise fees. Doctors engage in defensive medicine, performing unnecessary tests that might protect them in a lawsuit. That costs at least $60 billion a year, notes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And patients can have a harder time getting care, even in urgent circumstances.



Reform measures passed the House of Representatives last year but failed in the Senate. It's an uphill battle as trial lawyers allied with Democrats duel the insurance and medical industries, which favor Republicans...

Monday
Jan102005

Child Free

I know I just linked to Eric Berlin yesterday, so I probably should not do it again so soon, but he has an eye-popping post up about people who seemingly hate children.



He's not kidding, either. I visited the website he mentioned and the very first post I saw urged donations to charities aiding animals hurt by the tsunami: "...if you're tired of the hoopla about the children you can send something to help the nonhuman victims."



Or this post, the point of which seems to be that adults should be rude to well-behaved children on commercial airlines.



A repeated theme seems to be frustration with friends who have kids and then don't have as much time to "hang out" with them. (Tragic, really.)



Eric has more examples.



I could go on about how hostile and self-centered (and in some instances, scary) these people seem, but I suspect I'd be overstating the obvious.



Ebay was advertising on this site when I was there, though I doubt Ebay even realizes it. Probably part of a package ad buy. The ad seemed incongruous, though, Ebay being a good place to get bargains to help raise kids... You know, the kids who will grow up to join the military to defend the freedoms of these yahoos, and pay the Social Security taxes necessary to feed them as they slide ever further into their dotage...

Sunday
Jan092005

Regret The Error: Rich Guys Look Alike...

Regret the Error has found a funny error in the Wall Street Journal.

Sunday
Jan092005

Arguments Against Social Security Privatization Demolished

Eric Berlin quotes and then demolishes a New York Times op-ed against Social Security privatization.



Sample comments from a piece that deserves to be read by everyone:

If you, as an individual, put a certain amount of money into the Social Security fund, and later in life you receive benefits whose value is less than that contribution... how is that good?
and
If the stock market has provided better returns than treasury bills since damn near the beginning of time, which I believe is the case, then I can live with the idea of "no guarantee."
and
Which do you think is more likely to be transparent: A private company beholden to its customers and stockholders, or a government program that you can't get out of no matter what?
and
Man, do I hate comparisons between casinos and the stock market. It's so easy, and so wrong. The stock market trends upwards every year and has since its creation. If you, as a young person, put money in a fund that tracks the S&P 500 (diversification! risk management! 500 stocks at once!), you will, when you retire, have more money in your possession when you retire 25 years later. If you go to the casino every week for those 25 years, you will be broke.
Read the whole thing.



Addendum: Hmmm.... I see that Paulie at The Commons at Paulie World tried to do a trackback to this post and it did not work. Maybe my trackback system isn't operating properly... Thanks for trying, though, Paulie. Tells me I have a problem, even though I haven't a clue why.

Sunday
Jan092005

Ryan Sager: Law and the Armstrong Williams Case

I've been reading various bloggers' takes on the Armstrong Williams case (La Shawn Barber, Ramblings' Journal, Booker Rising, Michelle Malkin, Croooow Blog, Tapscott's Copy Desk, Joust the Facts, She Who Will Be Obeyed! and many, many others), but I didn't see anyone address the issue I was wondering about: What does the law actually say about the legality of the kind of payments the Department of Education made?



That's is, until I saw Ryan Sager's blog, Miscellaneous Objections. Check it out if you are past the outrage stage and what to learn what the law actually says.



It seems to me the law itself is the paramount issue. If this is legal, and folks don't think it should be (as I don't), the law should be changed. If it isn't legal and it happened anyway, why and how can it be stopped? It is easy enough to say Armstrong should not have quietly taken the payments, but he's still just one person. If he stops, that doesn't stop the practice by anyone else, now and in the future.



As a side note, Mark Tapscott's coverage of this includes some very useful information and a number of links about filing FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests without paying legal fees. Some folks might want to bookmark it.



Oh, and as another side note, since The National Center for Public Policy Research sponsors Project 21, the national leadership group of black conservatives: The National Center/Project 21 has never received, nor applied for, federal funding nor funding from any state.

Sunday
Jan092005

Trackbacks Enabled?

Thanks to Diggers Realm, which I learned about from The Sparse Matrix, I learned how to add a trackback feature to this blog for the first time ever.



At least, I think I have... I'll try a test. If you don't see a trackback below this post, I failed.

Saturday
Jan082005

Penn State: Deer Hunting Mecca

When I saw this post on Sic Semper Tyrannis, I thought: What, no Penn State?



Penn State indeed.

Saturday
Jan082005

Flopping Aces: Putin the Dictator

Flopping Aces has a very thought-provoking and informative post up today about the future of Russia under Vladimir Putin.



Curt has excerpts from and links to pieces by historian Niall Ferguson and bloggers at The Moderate Voice, One Step at a Time, and Untimely Thoughts.

Saturday
Jan082005

Jobs Market Responds to Lower Tax Rates

A little something to read for those liberals who claim there is nothing wrong with Social Security that couldn't be repaired by repealing President Bush's tax cuts. The tax cuts improved the economy, which helps Social Security.



It just doesn't help it enough.

Saturday
Jan082005

Shelia Jackson Lee in Fine Shape

U.S. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee apparently claims to be 140 years old.

Saturday
Jan082005

Yet More Evidence, Blogged

Do read The Diplomad if you aren't convinced we should leave the U.N.

Saturday
Jan082005

Wacky Warning Labels

Some very funny warning labels, brought to you by trial lawyers Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch.