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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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Poor, Uneducated and Easy to Command

On February 1, 1993, The Washington Post got into a heap of PR trouble after reporter Michael Weisskopf wrote in a news story that followers of the Christian Right are "largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command."

On Sunday, Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Michael Kinsley revisits that infamous quotation, but gets it wrong. Kinsley first confuses "followers of the Christian Right" with "evangelical Christians" (they are not interchangable) and then gives the quote (twice, and in quotation marks, no less) as "poor, undereducated and easily led."

Kinsley's article appears in the Sunday Washington Post, whose editors apparently ran his column without noticing he had the quote wrong.

For Kinsley, no excuse. Journalism 101 says quotations should be checked for accuracy before they are used. In this case, it would have been super-easy, too: nearly a thousand Google citations have it right.

But more important questions: Do Post editors not edit? Or did the grassroots firestorm that followed the original "poor, uneducated, and easy to command" slur leave such a slight impression on them that they read Kinsley's piece without noticing the misquotation of a phrase that -- I'm guessing here -- perhaps a hundred thousand conservative Christians have permanently memorized?

And -- even more important -- if the Post can't get the easy stuff right, how can we trust it on the big stuff?

Addendum, July 9: Early in the morning of July 6 I sent the following e-mail to the Washington Post corrections page:

On Sunday, the Post ran an op-ed by Michael Kinsley stating that the Washington Post "got in trouble a million years ago for an article that described evangelical Christians as 'poor, undereducated and easily led.'"

In fact, the original article (1993, by Michael Weisskopf) referred to followers of the Religious Right, not to evangelical Christians (evangelical Christians can be of any political persuasion), and the correct quotation was "largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command."

The url for the Kinsley piece is:


As of July 9, no correction has been posted, but the Post has had time to run corrections such as this:
A July 2 Real Estate article said that Michael Halpern had previously helped a friend renovate a house. At the time, that person was Halpern's boyfriend.
(What -- a boyfriend isn't a friend?)

Michael Kinsley quotes aside, corrections pages can be some of the funniest pages in a newspaper. The blog Regret The Error, which collects noteworthy corrections from newspapers and magazines across the country, is one I often visit for a laugh.


Everything I Know Is Wrong: A Little Blogging Break

I'm late with this news, but keep Sean in your prayers. I certainly will.


Congressional Action Today

On July 1, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located on Lindbald Avenue, Girdwood, Alaska, as the "Dorothy and Connie Hibbs Post Office Building."

Dorothy and Connie Hibbs are a mother and daughter who both served as postmaster in Girdwood, mother Dorothy from 1954-1976 and daughter Connie from 1979 to 2005.

Note: "Congressional Action" is a new education feature of this blog. It will highlight an an official activity undertaken by or in Congress, very often chosen at random, for the simple purpose of providing an educational snapshot of our Congress at work.


Probably They Think Monsters Are in Their Closets, Too

Barbara Ledeen sent over these quotes from left-wing organizations about the new Supreme Court vacancy -- quotes she received from Progress for America:

Planned Parenthood screamed that "Women's Health and Safety [are] on the Line."

People For The American Way breathlessly claimed "our very national identity hangs in the balance and progressives must be loud and clear."

The Alliance For Justice echoed that sentiment, stating "Individual rights and freedoms hang in the balance."

NARAL: "Unless we act quickly and forcefully, it will be filled by a right-wing extremist bent on ending a woman's right to choose." predicts a nominee who's an "extremist who will undermine the rights of individuals and families."

National Abortion Federation warned that women would have to "sacrifice their lives and health by having back alley abortions in order to end an unwanted pregnancy." They have even demanded "a candidate who will win a consensus of at least 60 votes in the Senate."
What is it about interpreting our Constitution according to its actual words that has these folks so frightened? Like many others, I've read the Constitution. Not scary stuff.


Constructionists Only, Please, Says Black Group

Project 21 member and U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow has this to say about the new Supreme Court vacancy, following the announcement today by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor:

I'm confident that the President will nominate someone with integrity and wisdom who understands that the proper role of a Supreme Court justice is to interpret the text of the Constitution, rather than, as Justice Thomas put it, promote 'the faddish slogans of the cognoscenti.'
Project 21 member Mychal Massie adds:
We are not looking for a liberal or a conservative jurist to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. We are looking for a strict constructionist. We are looking for someone who can uphold the Constitution, not rewrite it.
Project 21's entire press release can be read here.


Kelo v. City of New London Might Just Be the Beginning

Should the federal government tell Americans what grass seeds they can use for their lawns, what flowers they can have in their flowerbeds and what vegetables they can plant in their gardens?

If you don't think these are powers the Founders intended for the federal government, brace yourself -- another betrayal of private property rights may be on the horizon if draft language for a new (GOP!) bill in the U.S. House of Representatives accurately describes what its sponsor intends.

Kelo v. City of New London may have just been the beginning...


Deep Throat Lied to Grand Jury?

Bob Woodward's new book claims Mark Felt lied to a federal grand jury about his identity as "Deep Throat," the Washington Post reports.


Good for Time Warner

Time magazine agrees that journalists aren't above the law.

Meanwhile, Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr. of the New York Times says, "We are deeply disappointed by Time Inc.'s decision...''


"The New President of Iran is a Terrorist"

From the Washington Times:

Americans held in the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Iran said yesterday they clearly recall Iranian President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad playing a central role in the takeover, interrogating captives and demanding harsher treatment for the hostages.

As soon as I saw his picture in the paper, I knew that was the bastard,' said retired Army Col. Charles Scott, 73, a former hostage who lives in Jonesboro, Ga.

'He was one of the top two or three leaders,' Col. Scott said in a telephone interview. 'The new president of Iran is a terrorist.'

The new president's hard-line political views and his background as a student radical in the Iranian Revolution are well known.

But recollections of Mr. Ahmadinejad's direct and personal role in the embassy drama promises to complicate the already rocky relations between Iran's new president and the Bush administration.

Donald Sharer, a retired Navy captain who was for a time a cellmate of Col. Scott at the Evin prison in northern Tehran, remembered Mr. Ahmadinejad as 'a hard-liner, a cruel individual.'

'I know he was an interrogator,' said Capt. Sharer...



Jeff Harrell says:

The war on terror is no more about Osama bin Laden than World War II was about Tojo.
Speaking of Hideki Tojo, his granddaughter Yuko Tojo, president of the Tokyo-based Environment Solution Institute, recently defended him on TV, claiming Japan was not fighting "a war of aggression" in the 1930s and 1940s.

Tojo's granddaughter claims the Japanese invasion of China was merely a defense of Japanese interests, and Japan's war against the United States was fought in its own self-defense.

(I pause a moment to recall the Rape of Nanking.)

Let us hope that, 60 years after we arrest bin Laden, his grandchildren are not still making excuses for his atrocities.

Let us further hope that, unlike Tojo, bin Laden doesn't ultimately bear responsibility for the brutal and wholly unecessary deaths of many hundreds of thousands of innocent people, very many of them children.

For more on the Rape of Nanking, go to here or here, if you can stand it.


Impeach Bush?

Rep. Zoe Lofgren explains that "lying about sex" (code term for President Clinton's perjury) "certainly" isn't an impeachable offense, but "lying to Congress" (which, she claims, President Bush has done) "might well be" impeachable.

Nonpartisan translation:

Lying to the judicial branch = not impeachable.

Lying to the legislative branch = impeachable.
But don't we have three co-equal branches of government?


Weare, New Hampshire: Vacation Spot of Freedom

Can't remember when I have enjoyed a press release more.


Ruling on Property Rights Could Create Housing Crisis, Project 21 Says


A conservative group is warning that the Supreme Court's "abusive" ruling allowing government to seize private property for purposes of economic development could lead to an urban housing shortage for minorities, the poor and young families.

The black leadership network Project 21 said it's a rare day when the NAACP finds itself agreeing with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas -- but that's what happened after last week's ruling in Kelo v. City of New London.

"If even they (NAACP and Thomas) can agree on the importance of private property protections, it's utterly astonishing to me that others can so blatantly put so many at risk to favor wealthy private interests," said Project 21 member Mychal Massie.

Like many other property rights advocates, Project 21 noted...

Read the rest here.


The Greatest American

The Discovery Channel's online poll is over, and the results are in.

I'm pleased by who won, but, considering that Oprah Winfrey appeared in the top ten -- this is for the "greatest American" of all time, living or dead -- I can't take the poll too seriously.


John Walton, RIP

I am sorry to learn of the death of John Walton in an air crash earlier today. He was quite active in the effort to improve educational opportunity for young people in America, and won a Silver Star for his service in Vietnam.

He will be missed.


Optional Attendance in U.S. Senate May Soon Be Official

From the June 27 Roll Call comes this:

As some party leaders are cracking down on absenteeism among their respective rank and file, a provision included in the Senate version of the legislative branch appropriations bill passed out of committee last week strangely enough makes it financially easier for Members to miss work.

Of course, nobody obeyed the old law anyway.

The proposed measure seeks to strike Title 2 Section 39 from the U.S. Code, a rarely used and mostly forgotten provision dating back to the pre-Civil War years that directs the Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House to deduct pay for each day a Member is absent from work except for illnesses.

Explaining that the 150-year-old measure hasn't actually been enforced since the 1860s, Jenny Manley, press secretary for Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), called the effort to strike the provision as it applies to the Senate "a clean-up provision. More of a technical provision than anything else."

Jim Specht, press secretary for House Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), said although the committee had not considered whether a similar provision could be worked out on the House side, it would be an item to be discussed in conference...

There's more here (subscription required).

Backers of repealing the law say that when a Senator isn't on Capitol Hill, that doesn't mean he isn't working.


Flag Burning -- The Real Question

The Washington Post says in a Monday editorial that flag-burning should not be banned because

Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech. The great power of this principle is that it admits no exception: not for the most odious racism or Holocaust denial, not for the most insulting criticisms of those in high office, not for cone-shaped white hoods or hammers and sickles, and not for burning or otherwise defiling the Stars and Stripes.
Point 1: Speech involves flapping gums, not flames.

Point 2: Despite the Post editorial's claim, exceptions already are made to the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. Examples include defamation, causing panic/harm to others, incitement to crime, obscenity and sedition (advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government).

A more insightful Post editorial would have tackled the question: Does burning an American flag, by an American, in America, constitute sedition?

If it does, should we ban the practice, or consider it consistent with our revolutionary heritage?



British Prime Minister Tony Blair's son Euan has accepted an internship at the U.S. House of Representatives -- with a Republican Congressman.


It Is Easy To See Why He Broke Up With Her

If a person hasn't learned to get their temper under control by the time they are 78, I guess it is hopeless:

Furious that their romance was ending, a 78-year-old great-grandmother shot her 85-year-old ex-beau to death as he read the newspaper in a senior citizens home, police said. 'I did it and I'd do it again!' Lena Driskell yelled to officers who arrived at the home June 10, according to testimony. Police said she was wearing a bathrobe and slippers, waving an antique handgun with her finger still on the trigger.

She is accused of plotting the shooting of Herman Winslow because she was angry that their yearlong romance was ending and he had found another companion...


Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Kelo

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review got right to the point in an editorial about the Kelo case: If on this day you think your home is your castle, you are a damn fool.