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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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We're Powerful, Except When We Are Impotent

I enjoyed this quote today from Rush Limbaugh:

There was a story a couple of weeks ago that said global warming is so far advanced there's nothing we can do about it... If that's true, if it's so far gone there's nothing we can do about it, then I would submit to you there's nothing we can do to cause it.


Who Killed Social Security Reform?

From today's San Francisco Chronicle, an article by Carolyn Lochhead "Social Security Rehab Died First Under Clinton":

Who killed Social Security overhaul?

A: Harry Reid.
B: George W. Bush.
D: Monica Lewinsky.

Answer: D.

Seven years ago, the first Baby Boomer president traveled the country to warn that his generation's impending retirement -- 76 million people, equal to the populations of California, Texas and Florida combined -- would bankrupt the generations to follow.

'It would be unconscionable if we failed to act,' President Bill Clinton said at a forum in 1998, when he made fixing the nation's retirement program a top priority of his second term.

Clinton's efforts then, in light of President Bush's now, induce an extraordinary sense of deja vu.

Clinton appointed a bipartisan commission, which delivered in 1997 three options to save the giant retirement program. They included a now-familiar list of possible benefit cuts, from changing indexing formulas to raising the retirement age.

One of the options would have allowed workers to divert 5 percentage points of their payroll taxes to personal accounts -- the first such proposal by a government commission...

...Today, Lewinsky is ancient history, the Baby Boom retirement is seven years closer, and the budget surpluses Clinton hoped to use to "save Social Security first" are gone...

The article quotes Congressional Democrats about the seriousness of Clinton's effort: "It's kind of the Nixon-goes-to-China theory," [then-Congressman Charles] Stenholm said. "It takes a Democrat to do some of the hard choices in social programs."

I'd take this reform -- diverting five percentage points of payroll taxes to personal retirement accounts -- from either party. Too bad, though, that Clinton traded this possible legacy for the one he ended up with.

Hat tip: Rush Limbaugh


The Papal Assassin's Ties

Thomas Joscelyn has a fascinating article in the April 7 Daily Standard, "Crime of the Century: How the Elite Media and the CIA Failed to Investigate the 1981 Papal Assassination Attempt":

A stunning revelation buzzed throughout Italy last week. According to two Italian newspapers, German government officials had found proof that the Soviet Union ordered the May 13, 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. The recently discovered documents -- which are mainly correspondences between East German Stasi spies and their Bulgarian counterparts -- reportedly discuss the Soviet assassination order as well as efforts to cover-up any traces of involvement by Bulgaria's spooks.

If the documents are as advertised, then they put an end to one of the great whodunits of the 20th century. The U.S. media has all but ignored this incredible story; which isn't, actually, much of a surprise.

Indeed, the elite media in this country never wanted to investigate the threads of evidence pointing to Bulgarian, and thus Soviet, involvement. What is surprising, however, is that in one of the greatest U.S. intelligence failures of all-time, neither did the CIA....

The article goes on to ferociously indict the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and others for, in effect, covering up the would-be papal assassin's true ties.

This article is especially interesting to me when it goes on to laud two other publications, Reader's Digest and Commentary, for their coverage in 1982-83 (articles by Claire Sterling and Michael Ledeen, respectively). At the time, The National Center for Public Policy Research was in its infancy, but we spent what was to us a small fortune mailing reprints (the official, paid-for reprints, not copyright-violating photocopies) of both articles to the mainstream press, editorial writers, Congressmen and conservative campus activists (who received copies in bulk for distribution on campuses). Our effort was intended not only to be educational about the events themselves, but to make it less politically incorrect for investigators to take a possible Soviet connection seriously.

We essentially got nowhere. (Such was the state of affairs for conservatives trying to influence the press before the explosion of talk radio and popularization of the Internet.) Given the tremendous significance of the issue, we found it extremely frustrating at the time.

It is good to see that, after almost a quarter century, the truth finally is getting out.

Read the whole thing here.


Genealogy Blog

While tracking back some of the many visitors I've gotten lately who are looking for information on the Prince Charles-Camilla Parker-Bowles wedding (I bet many of you had no idea this was a British royalty blog!) I ran into the informative Genealogy Blog.

Of course, if you aren't into genealogy, it won't interest you, but it has a wealth if information for those who are.


Environmental Quotes

Our Earth Day Information Center is getting new publications online in preparation for Earth Day 2005, which is April 22.

Just posted is a fresh list of quotes on environmental topics. My favorite quote of those we've collected this year is this very honest one, made by two environmentalists in a presentation made at last year's meeting of the Environmental Grantmakers Association:

Environmental groups have spent the last 40 years defining themselves against conservative values like cost-benefit accounting, smaller government, fewer regulations, and free trade, without ever articulating a coherent morality we can call our own. Most of the intellectuals who staff environmental groups are so repelled by the right's values that we have assiduously avoided examining our own in a serious way.
Environmental protection doesn't have to be a left-versus-right issue, but in the 35 years since the first Earth Day, it certainly has been.


The Night Writer's Interesting Quote

This is an interesting quote that I have never seen before:

It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.

- Thomas Jefferson
I found it at The Night Writer blog.



Jeff Harrell has lost his best friend.


An Accounting Mechanism, Not a Savings Account

National Review Online's Beltway Buzz column collects some quotes from surprising sources on the emptiness of the Social Security Trust Fund.


There is a Social Security Trust Fund

Deroy Murdock reports:

Yes, Virginia, there is a Social Security Trust Fund...
In Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Read it all here.


Brian Riedl: Top Ten Examples of Government Waste

Brian M. Riedl of the Heritage Foundation has an eye-popping new paper out, "The Top 10 Examples of Government Waste." Here they are:

1. The Missing $25 Billion
2. Unused Flight Tickets Totaling $100 Million
3. Embezzled Funds at the Department of Agriculture
4. Credit Card Abuse at the Department of Defense
5. Medicare Overspending
6. Funding Fictitious Colleges and Students
7. Manipulating Data to Encourage Spending
8. State Abuse of Medicaid Funding Formulas
9. Earned Income Tax Credit Overpayments
10. Redundancy Piled on Redundancy
Read the whole thing for details.


Is the World Ready for an African Pope?

Diversity magazine sent out an email today with the subject line: "Is the world ready for an African Pope?"

I'd rephrase the question, and instead ask: "Is the world ready for an African Pope who isn't a liberal?"


Captain's Quarters Goes Canadian

Captain's Quarters blog coverage of the (formerly) secret testimony of Jean Brault at (Canada's) Gomery Commission appears to be another historic milestone for the blogosphere.

Harry Forbes at the Squaring the Boston Globe blog takes a look at the traffic Captain Ed is receiving from our neighbors to the north. Nearly 400,000 visitors to the Captain's Quarters blog on Monday alone. Harry figures this is likely to be a single-day blog traffic record.

Congratulations to Captain Ed. Very impressive scoop.


Has Canada Banned Star Trek?

Has Canada banned Star Trek?

Explanation here.


The Plot to Kill the Pope

The London Sunday Times examines the evidence behind the suspicion that the Soviet government was behind the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in May 1981.

If the trajectory of the bullet that hit the Pope, and/or the one that hit President Reagan two months earlier, had been even minutely different, the Soviet Union might still be with us.

Upon such small things does history turn.


Espresso Sarcasm: Stupid Quiz Time

This is funny. Not useful, but funny.


Dueling Plans for U.N. Reform

Is Glenn Reynolds calling for U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations?

That's one way to read the last line of this post -- but I'm not sure that's what he means.

Glenn links to this piece by Austin Bay, who recommends reforming the U.N. this way:

As for real reform: (1) strip France of permanent U.N. Security Council status; (2) keep Russia as a permanent member, but with no veto (all it has are nukes); (3) add India and Japan as permanent Security Council members (though with no veto). Now Britain wields the European veto, China the Asian and America the real veto.
Dubious merits aside, this will never, ever be adopted.

Here's my reform proposal:
1) Put every nation on the Security Council.

2) Give every nation a veto.

3) Withdraw the U.S. from the U.N. entirely.
End result: A paralyzed, neutered U.N. that Americans don't pay for.


Poll on Social Security Personal Accounts

Patrick Ruffini has the stats from a new poll asking this question:

Do you favor or oppose giving individuals the choice to invest a portion of their Social Security contributions in stocks or mutual funds?
The poll results are interesting. So is the use of the term "contribution."

Are these taxes optional?


Social Security Embezzlement

The American Enterprise doesn't mince words with a piece entitled The Great Social Security Embezzlement by William Tucker:

Every writer I know is looking for that dazzling phrase that brings the Social Security situation into focus. (That's what us writers do for a living.)

Clark S. Judge, managing director of the White House Writers Group (a private organization), made a great stab at it in the New York Post on Tuesday. He used the metaphor of Enron. What's happening in the federal government now is exactly what happened to Ken Lay. It's called 'co-mingling of funds.'"

All this started way back in 1968 when Lyndon Johnson was trying to deliver both "guns and butter" and disguise the costs of the Vietnam War. Social Security was then a separate account...

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip: National Center for Policy Analysis.


Scientific Correctness

Bill of Bill's Comments predicts the future decline of American science:

In 10 to 25 years, we will see the eclipse of American science, the pride of the 20th Century. Some country, more interested in real results than in who is offended, will suddenly deluge the world with a product based on new discoveries that will destroy a major segment of our economy.
Surely not. Anyway, since global warming is coming and it will drown the Earth, it hardly matters.


A Constrained Vision: Social Security Around the World

A Constrained Vision has collected a very interesting set of links showing which countries have individual retirement accounts as part of their mandatory retirement programs.