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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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Friday
Nov262004

Putin's Russia: An Air of Politburo

Yukos Oil surrenders, as its top executives flee Russia.



This story explains:

Eight months into President Vladimir Putin's second term, momentum for economic reform in Russia has all but halted as vested Kremlin interests fight for control of the nation's resources and purse strings, economists and analysts say.



"What's happening in Russia at the moment is an asset grab across the board," said UBS Brunswick economist Al Breach...



The reform of state-controlled Gazprom, now "dead in the water" according to the World Bank, as well as steps to rein in monopolies, are key to Russia's long-delayed entry to the World Trade Organisation...



"These guys ... don't believe in a free market. They don't believe in liberties..."



Alfa Bank analyst Chris Weafer said part of the government's strategy for growth is to take a chunk of available cash flows from the natural resource industries.



He said this would eventually hurt Russia's economic boom, which has seen annual growth rates in excess of eight per cent in the early months of 2004.



"Why bother with privatisation when the state can enjoy the benefits of ownership... We were all being naive, expecting reforms," Weafer said. "Now there is an air of Politburo to the place."
Read the entire story here.



Or, if you are in a hurry, you can just read my thirty-word version of the Yukos saga: Yukos Oil was Russia's top blue-chip company. Then its CEO became known as a possible political rival to Putin. So Putin used the power of the state to crush it.

Friday
Nov262004

Christmas Sales

I just want to go on the record on this, the projected busiest shopping day of the year, with a prediction that, sometime in January, retailers will pronounce sales during the Christmas 2004 shopping season "disappointing."



It seems to happen every year, and get headlines every time.

Friday
Nov262004

Priorities

If I were Captain Ed, I would have dug deeper into my pocket.



(Just kidding.)

Wednesday
Nov242004

Fighting Words - Oh, Never Mind, It's Just Not Worth It

As Sean once said about a screed by an American leftist, sometimes these left-wing communiques just fisk themselves:

I have sensational news for everybody who thinks that the general European Anti-Bush "movement" is simply created by biased media, and that Bush is a misunderstood intellectual.



We do not hate Bush because of that. We dislike him because of the politics he advocates.



Bush is not a "strong leader." A strong leader is a man who knows what he is dealing with, who is able to consider every aspect and many viewpoints on a case before making big decisions.



No one can seriously accuse Bush for being that. Bush is a mediocrily gifted man without much knowledge of politics or the world in general, nor has he much interest therein. He does never think twice before doing what his advisers tell him.



His war on terror has not and will not make the world a safer place, because its efforts are directed at the wrong places (Iraq instead of Saudi-Arabia).



Bush has scorned many international agreements in a minute - Kyoto, Hand weapons, ABM-treaty, landmines, international court tribunal and alternative energy.



We disagree with his attitude towards homosexuals, abortion and capital punishment, and we have his belief that he is in contact with God in as much derision as the like belief of Osama Bin Laden - yes, in that aspect they have indeed much in common.



No positive press could help these facts - we simply do not like his politics, and that's it.



And we can actually read American news - contrary to 99% of the U.S Americans, we Europeans actually speak more than one language.



And no, we can't allow ourselves to be indifferent of which president the U.S.A elects - your policies have profound consequences for us as well. We will ultimately pay a great deal of the price that will soon need to be paid for Bush's disastrous economic policy with the huge budget deficits.



Bush is the president, that's right - we have to live with him, but we do not have to like him - and we never will - we simply have too little in common.



That's the hard facts - Americans, DEAL with it, then we will try to live with George Bush.



Christoffer B. Harder from Denmark



P.S. Please don't call me anti-American because of this - I come from Denmark, one of the few European countries whose government still supports Bush's war in Iraq (though most people did not or were very skeptical). I really do think that even a U.S.A led by Bush is to prefer as sole superpower from which it could be else - China, France or Russia, who knows.



We still think that Europe and the USA have indeed much in common. But I also do think that my above view is absolutely fair, balanced and based on facts, viewpoints and opinions from many sides.
I have no doubt this gentleman believes himself to be "fair and balanced," and I do credit him with the grudging compliments to the U.S. he did make (we're better than Russia, China or France). But it seems pretty clear that he does not understand us very well.

Wednesday
Nov242004

Arctic Warming -- Or Not

Wondering if there is anything to the latest bit of Chicken Little global warming alarmism, to wit, the "news" that the Arctic is melting?



Sean at Everything I Know Is Wrong tackles it for you.

Wednesday
Nov242004

The White Ann Coulter and Her Clone

I find it interesting that the journalist from the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot who called Michelle Malkin an "Asian Ann Coulter" used those words. Why didn't he just refer to Michelle as "another Ann Coulter"?



After all, if Michelle Malkin is an "Asian Ann Coulter" (see David Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin), shouldn't the Virginian-Pilot refer to the original Ann Coulter as "the White Ann Coulter"?



(Frankly, though, anyone who confuses Ann Coulter with Michelle Malkin hasn't been paying attention. Maybe to some leftists, all right-of-center women who speak plainly seem alike, except for racial differences, of course. We wouldn't want to judge people by the content of their character. That so 1963.)



Addendum: Dean's Journal has an interesting take on this.

Wednesday
Nov242004

Squaring the Boston Globe: A Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving message was written by Harry Forbes at the Squaring the Boston Globe blog.



As I read it, my mind's ear (if there is such a thing) began to hear it in Ronald Reagan's voice. It is that Reaganesque.

Wednesday
Nov242004

Dean's Journal: The Blind Acceptance of Anything "Government"

Dean's Journal fisks the indignant e-mail we received Monday from a college student regarding our non-government funded website.

Wednesday
Nov242004

Limbaugh Should Have Slugged a Black Quarterback

Let me get this straight. Rush Limbaugh loses his job at ESPN merely for saying the news media hopes black quarterbacks will do well.



Meanwhile, NBA players slug their customers and only get suspended (yet still, their union complains).

Wednesday
Nov242004

Negroes vs. Black Conservatives

Mychal Massie doesn't mince any words.



Addendum: The Sparse Matrix is kind to Project 21.

Wednesday
Nov242004

Debating Intelligence Reform: A Visit to the Rush Limbaugh Echo Chamber

Says Rush Limbaugh on the intelligence reform bill:

Oh, woe is us! Oh, woe is America! The media obsessed today with: 'Why can't Congress agree on intelligence reform?' It's another non-story that's being blown up and ballyhooed... My first question is: Who said, where is it written, that the 9/11 commission's recommendations get implemented without question? Who the hell are these people? Nobody elected them. Why in the world do we have to sit there and whatever they come up with, we have to implement? Everybody's so concerned that there's no debate in the Bush administration, right? 'We're not debating anything at the State Department anymore. No! Bush is going to coalesce power there. Why, there's no debate! Why, Bush is stifling debate. Why, Bush is stifling debate in the CIA. Oh, no. Oh, no!' Well, what are we doing in Congress? We're debating the bill. Oh, no! We're supposed to rubber-stamp that. We're supposed to rubber stamp something that Richard Ben-Veniste had something to do with? Excuse me. I want a timeout.



We're supposed to rubber stamp something that Jamie Gorelick had something to do with? Excuse me, I want two timeouts. We're supposed to rubber stamp something that Timothy Roemer had something to do with? Excuse me, I want three timeouts. We're supposed to implement something without question that Richard Clarke had a role in? Excuuuuse me! I want halftime. Because, my friends, we're debating this.
Gotta agree. Debate is what they are supposed to do.

Tuesday
Nov232004

Sparse Matrix: Politics is Ugly, Politics is Dirty, Politics is War

David at The Sparse Matrix provides a Cliff's Notes version of the debate between Professor Bainbridge and I over the House GOP rule change.



He then concludes we're both wrong.



Interesting.



I'd love to say he's wrong about politics, but, alas, I cannot.

Tuesday
Nov232004

Commonwealth Conservative: Worth a Visit

If you are interested in Virginia politics, as we DC-area conservatives tend to be, this blog may interest you.



Actually, it may interest you even if you don't care about Virginia politics.

Tuesday
Nov232004

Chocolate as Cough Medicine

Will this be coming soon to your druggist's shelves? Hershey's Chocolate Cough Syrup.

Monday
Nov222004

Another Horror Story

How many babies are going to die horribly in Texas (and elsewhere) before people take post-partum depression seriously?



Death penalty.

Monday
Nov222004

CBS: No DeLay Indictment

CBS News reports (almost sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn't it?) that all the kerfluffle about the House GOP changing its rules for Tom DeLay was just that: Kerfluffle.



Says CBS:

The powerful GOP chieftain is unlikely to be indicted by a state grand jury probing alleged campaign finance violations in Texas, according to an official involved in the investigation.



"No, no, I really don't think DeLay will be indicted," the official told CBSNews.com. "And to be quite honest, [DeLay's] lawyers know that."
Of course, the source here is CBS, and a sidebar to the story uses the phrase "even if convicted by grand jury." Of course, grand jurys can't convict.



For what it is worth, however, I doubt he'll be indicted as well.



Addendum: Instapundit has some good CBS jokes up today.

Monday
Nov222004

Shocked

A college student writes us to say she is shocked, shocked to find that not every aspect of the policymaking arena is controlled by the federal government:

Hi, I'm a college student who recently accessed the Envirotruth website while researching a science topic, and I was very confused. I noticed that Envirotruth was sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, which sounds like a some sort of government office, but I was appalled when I realized it was a conservative propaganda group! I am upset that I was tricked by your official-sounding name when looking for real scientific information for my report. Real scientific information is nonparisan, obviously. Even our conservative-run federal government offers nonpartisan scientific information (see the EPA).



I am forwarding this email to everyone I know, conservative and liberal, for them to explore your websites and discover that your information is not "fair and balanced" at all. You should indicate that Envirotruth is partisan so as not to trick other students (or is that the point?!) How horrible.



Stella Bergman

srstadtherr@stthomas.edu

Minneapolis, MN

Monday
Nov222004

Strengthen The Good: Building a Future by Building a Library

Strengthen The Good's newest charity is a book-donation project.



Visit here to read the story of a little school in a land that once was communist, where the children are trying to build a library of books so they can learn English.



Strengthen The Good has a list of books the school is seeking. You have have some on your bookshelves already, especially as some of these books are widely assigned in U.S. schools. Why not clear a little clutter and help some deserving young people at the same time?


Monday
Nov222004

I love Jet Noise: Offended on Condoleezza Rice's Behalf

The I Love Jet Noise blog has a good post about the way Dr. Condoleezza Rice is being treated.



Good comments in the comments section, too.

Sunday
Nov212004

Power Line: 'DeLay Rule' a Good Thing

Hindrocket understands.



Critics of the House GOP rule change, it seems to me, are putting more faith in the judgment of prosecutors (any prosecutor) than in the House GOP caucus.



Not me.



I know it is fashionable to deride Congress, but I still prefer to be governed by an elected body.



Political philosophy aside, I believe critics also are misjudging the, to use an overworn phrase, situation on the ground.



Professor Bainbridge, for example, believes GOP caucus members would be unwilling to vote Tom DeLay out of his leadership position, apparently even if a credible indictment were to be handed down. I read the dynamics of the House entirely differently. (Members wake up every morning with the Washington Post front page, not with -- however much they may like him -- Tom DeLay.) I also believe they would not have to. If a credible indictment occurred against Tom DeLay, I believe he would voluntarily surrender his leadership position.



Let's remember (as some who send me emails apparently don't realize) that Tom DeLay has not been indicted. The caucus is responding to the possibility of an irresponsible indictment by a prosecutor who is perceived to be acting as a rogue agent. The caucus is quite properly refusing to be dictated to by someone whose professional judgment it does not believe it has reason to respect.



I do agree with Blogs for Industry that the new rule isn't quite what it should be (I don't agree with Blogs for Industry's opinion of Tom DeLay). Like Blogs for Industry, I would prefer a mandatory vote of the entire caucus to a vote of the Republican Steering Committee. But I don't want to overstress this, as I think the Steering Committee would tend to reflect the views of the members. I also think that most cases of indictment have facts that are far more cut and dried than in this hypothetical indictment, in which it is assumed that there would not only be doubt of guilt, but even that a crime took place at all.



Finally, Professor Bainbridge has opined that right-leaning bloggers "have lots of incentives to stay on the reservation. Inauguration balls. CNN and Fox News appearances. And so on..." The incentives implication is misplaced. There's the little matter of integrity, for one thing. However, even if we folks on the pro-rule change side didn't have any of that, as a practical matter, inauguration tickets and TV bookings just aren't being affected by this rule change. Emotions aren't running that high on this matter on the Hill. Even if they were, inaugural tickets and TV bookings aren't Congressmen's weapons of choice.