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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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School Choice: Greater Opportunities In Education

The Heritage Foundation has just unveiled a new website on school choice.

Here's how Heritage describes its new website:

Created to keep up with the fast pace of school choice changes around the country, Choices in Education is an online clearinghouse of information on vouchers, tax credits, public school choice, home schooling, and more. State legislatures have voted on a record number of parental choice proposals this spring, and the merits of choice are being argued in courts around the country. Stay up-to-date by visiting this one-stop shop for school choice information, from legislation and litigation to research.


The Museum of Left Wing Lunacy: Propaganda Central

The Museum of Left Wing Lunacy uncovers some less-than-flattering (to conservatives) merchandise on a liberal website.


Green Porn

The environmental movement adds porn to its strategic arsenal.


Social Security Reform: Impeachable Offense?

Project 21 is not thrilled by Rep. Charles Rangel's recent comments on Social Security reform:

Recent remarks by Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) calling President George W. Bush's proposal to reform the nation's ailing Social Security system "fraud" and its promotion an "impeachable offense" are condemned by members of the black leadership network Project 21...

"Charlie Rangel is hyperventilating. He should sit down and breathe slowly with a paper sack over his face," said Project 21 member Deroy Murdock. "President Bush is not 'taking away' anything from anyone. His voluntary plan would free younger workers to open personal retirement accounts that they would own and control, as opposed to today's system controlled by politicians like Rangel. Rangel should support PRAs and help black Americans enjoy the benefits of stock ownership, something that should not be a 'whites only' proposition."

In a speech outside of New York City's City Hall on April 11, Rangel called on black Americans to take part in "missionary" work to defeat the President's Social Security reform efforts, calling such work an extension of the civil rights struggle. He claimed that allowing people to personally invest and control a portion of their payroll taxes would "dismantle" Social Security and hurt blacks by reducing benefits.

In March, the trustees of Social Security announced that the program, which pays beneficiaries with taxes on the current workforce, will begin paying out more than it collects in 2017. By 2077, demographic changes in the United States are expected to require the program to pay out $25 trillion more than will be available. Experts expect this to lead to higher taxes and reduced benefits.

"Black Americans in particular would benefit from this reform," adds Murdock. "Since we tend to die sooner than other Americans, we typically collect less of our Social Security benefits that do others. Personal retirement accounts would let black Americans enjoy this wealth sooner, and, unlike in today's system, pass it along to their heirs. This would increase family wealth, another area where blacks lag behind whites."

Project 21 member Ak'bar Shabazz concurs: "It's disappointing, but not surprising, to see liberals try to scare people into preserving the status quo. Rangel knows the President's proposal will not eliminate Social Security. The younger generation will have an opportunity to take more control over their futures with PRAs, and Rangel should be ashamed of himself for derailing the destinies of our youth...


Maybe the Water Wasn't So Red

Another embarassment for the mainstream media, says Reuters:

A Boston Globe freelance writer fabricated large chunks of a story published this week, the newspaper said on Friday in the latest incident to embarrass the U.S. media.

The Globe, which is owned by The New York Times Co., said it stopped using writer Barbara Stewart because of a story that ran on Wednesday about a seasonal hunt for baby seals off Newfoundland -- a hunt, it turns out, had not taken place.

The story datelined Halifax, Nova Scotia described in graphic detail how the seal hunt began on Tuesday, with water turning red as hunters on some 300 boats shot harp seal cubs "by the hundreds."

The problem, however, was that the hunt did not begin on Tuesday; it was delayed by bad weather...

...Canadian Fisheries Minister Geoff Regan said his officials had called the paper to point out the error.

"We've been trying to get the facts out about the seal harvest, the fact that the herd is very healthy ... that in 98 percent of cases it (the hunt) is done in a humane way," he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Officials with the newspaper were not immediately available for further comment.

U.S. media organizations have been hit with a series of high-profile cases involving plagiarism or fabrication.

In 2003, The New York Times' top two editors, Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd, left the paper after it was disclosed that reporter Jayson Blair had fabricated and plagiarized material.


John Carlisle: The Games the AARP Plays

John Carlisle of the National Legal and Policy Center scrutinizes the AARP in a Washington Times op-ed:

In the ongoing debate over Social Security, AARP may claim that its mission is to defend the elderly, but its use of manipulative polls and inaccurate ads to needlessly frighten the public about the merits of reform raises serious questions...

...AARP is clearly out for itself and not the elderly.

It has gotten rich defending the Social Security status quo and is prepared to wage shameless scare campaigns to stop reform.

That may be good for AARP's balance sheet, but it means catastrophe for retirees in the not-so-distant future.

Addendum 4/15: John has another good one in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which reports:
The policy director of the National Legal and Policy Center says organized labor is hypocritical to claim its campaign to pressure corporations to stop supporting President Bush's Social Security reform plan 'is necessary to protect retirees from corporate greed.' John Carlisle points to labor's 'sordid history of raiding union pension funds for personal gain.' Touche.


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.