We've got a new edition of What Conservatives Think online today, answering Jesse Jackson's charge that tax cuts for the rich have been the Bush Administration's highest priority.
NCPPR executive director David Almasi points out the selective secrecy of the liberals:
What exactly is the liberal policy on secrecy and propriety? From their actions, it appears to be "Do as I say, not as I do."
When Clarence Thomas appeared to be a shoo-in for confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, the liberals had no problem with the release of the classified files - allegedly leaked by an aide to then-Senator Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH) - that made Anita Hill a household name and nearly torpedoed the Thomas nomination. Likewise, the stolen "Pentagon Papers" of the Vietnam era were important enough for the Washington Post and New York Times to face off against the government for the right to print these classified files in their entirety.
When the shoe is on the other foot, things are different. Of late, it first was the discovery of a Senate Intelligence Committee memo - authored by liberal staffers - that laid out a plan to conduct an investigation on intelligence methods used in the war on terrorism and the justification for the liberation of Iraq in a manner that would be the most damaging to the Bush Administration as the President runs for re-election.
This outrage was largely forgotten when 13 memos leaked from the Senate Judiciary Committee were published in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times and the web site of the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary. The memos, written during the period when liberals ran the Committee, indicate that liberal special interests virtually controlled the judicial confirmation process during that time. In one memo, it's implied the NAACP successfully delayed a confirmation in an attempt to influence the verdict in the University of Michigan affirmative action case. The allegation was made stronger since the head of the NAACP's legal group resigned shortly after a complaint was filed against her with regard to the memo's content.
The liberal reaction to the memos? It wasn't shame or regret over the content, but anger and the thirst for revenge that they became public knowledge. Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) played into this strategy. He focused on the leak and not the content of the memos. Every time he and other Senate leaders gave into a demand, the liberals made a new one. The Senate sergeant-at-arms had his staff confiscate computers, interrogate Republican staffers and recently released a report on the findings.
The report was released last week, but the findings were less than damning on their main target: Manny Miranda. A former counsel to Senate Majority Leaders Bill Frist (R-TN), Miranda resigned at the insistence of Hatch. Since the report didn't produce the hoped-for repercussions, the Senate liberals are asking for the Justice Department to conduct a criminal investigation.
When the sergeant-at-arms' report was released to the press, it was supposed to be edited to protect the identities of some staff members who were interviewed. An unedited version, however, was handed out. Those who question the impartiality of the sergeant-at-arms suggest the release was intentional so as to hurt the reputation of Republican staff members cited in the report. In the future, those staffers can harbor a lingering concern that their involvement in the investigation, as cited by the report, may keep them from getting a job even though they were not involved in any wrongdoing. Despite efforts to collect all of the unedited reports, copies still exist in the public domain.
This sets the stage for the newest case of liberal selective secrecy. The uncensored report is available online at the Calpundit blog. Blogger Ken Drum endorsed Democrat Wesley Clark for President, and his blog is rife with Democratic campaign links and liberal commentary. While he is appalled by the leak of the Judiciary Committee memos, he has no apparent problem with subverting the Senate's desire to keep parts of their report secret. While an edited version of the report exists online (like the one we've linked to), Drum is contentedly spilling secrets.
Drum isn't a high-profile figure like a U.S. senator and the unedited sergeant-at-arms' report is not the Pentagon Papers, but Drum still functions as an important cog in the liberal political machinery. President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Frist and Chairman Hatch should keep him and his actions in mind the next time they consider giving in to another liberal demand for power on the judicial issue or anything else.
NCPPR executive director David Almasi gives a positive update on the fight to keep questionable material from kids:
A few months ago, I wrote a commentary on how easy it is for children to anonymously buy illicit DVDs such as those from the "Girls Gone Wild" series through Internet web sites. At the time, I credited Wal-Mart - one of the larger sellers of DVDs and CDs - for not being a part of this problem. I'm happy, by way of embarrassment, to say they are equally as diligent at their brick-and-mortar stores.
I hate shopping at Wal-Mart, but it's the place to go on a weekend when you need a bird feeder and a headlight lamp. As it is also a place with impulse buys everywhere, I found myself fishing through the big box of $5.50 DVDs. One reason in particular I dislike Wal-Mart is the check-out area is never big enough to accommodate the ever-present long lines. You can imagine my thrill to discover my local store now has self-serve check-out. Since I had just a few items and there was no wait at the time, I anticipated a speedy exit. Not so.
I had picked out an R-rated DVD. Wal-Mart has instituted a safeguard at the self-serve check-out that requires the employee overseeing the area to verify the age of the purchaser. Unfortunately for the line growing behind me, that employee was AWOL.
To my comfort, the customer immediately behind me was a regular and not mad. As I slinked out with my purchases, I was nonetheless thankful that Wal-Mart is keeping up its commitment to its shoppers and the community by not turning a blind eye to whom it sells its wares. In the case of DVDs, they are rated for a reason. Just as a theater box office has the duty to turn away underage customers from R-rated films, Wal-Mart is doing it's part by making sure the same policy is administered when the film is available for home viewing. Good job!
One of the Britons freed from Guantanamo Bay incarceration complains of mistreatment. One of the complaints is that U.S. soldiers brought prostitutes to the camp and paraded them naked in front of the detainees, some of whom are devout Muslims.
I am not overly inclined to take the word of an accused terrorist who is not cooperating with authorities, but it occurs to me that even if this part of his story is true, all the prisoners had a defensive weapon against being forced to look at naked women: they could have closed their eyes.
We issued an alert setting the record straight on the Superfund "polluters pay" vote in the Senate this week.
Like most environmental votes, this one had political overtones. We're trying to separate the politics from the facts.
As some readers know, I'm the mother of three, two of whom are twin boys, age three.
I was thinking about the woman who apparently let one of her twins die on purpose while I was playing with one of the twins tonight. I was trying to imagine life without one of the boys, if, arbitrarily, I'd just decided to have one of them killed, or let one of them be killed, before they were born.
It sent chills through me even to think that such a thing could be legal.
InstaPundit just suggested sending flowers to the Spanish Embassy. His blog has the necessary address.
We just did it. The Spanish people should have some tangible proof that the American people care about what they are going through.
Among the paragons who are shocked, just shocked, that some Judiciary Committee staffers read some non-password protected computer files of other Judiciary Committee staffers may be some who are stealing food and services from the taxpayers.
According to a March 10 article in Roll Call (paid subscription required), the U.S. Senate Restaurants "experienced more than $678,000 in sales losses in fiscal 2003. While that amount is significantly less than the $1.2 million loss posted in fiscal 2002, it is still nearly double the losses of $351,000 and $388,000 reported in fiscal 2001 and 2000, respectively."
The audit says "if losses from operations continue, the [restaurant] fund will continue to require [taxpayer-supplied] financial support to maintain operations..."
That's the first interesting point: That taxpayers have been subsidizing the Senators' food. Now it gets even more interesting:
"The audit also shows that those customers allowed to run a tab -- Senators, former Senators and certain officials -- often fail to pay their bill on time. In fiscal 2003, the restaurants billed $189,545 to the 'customer accounts' of which than $88,000, about 47 percent, was paid back within a 30-day period. Nearly $27,000 in charges remained outstanding after 60 days and an additional $65,000 remained outstanding after 90 days."
(That wording is a little confusing. Comparing the text to a chart in the newspaper, it appears that the $27,000 figure refers to accounts 60-90 days old and the $65,000 figure to accounts 90 days or more old.)
So, there are Senators, former Senators, and "certain officials" who haven't paid their resturant bills in months.
1) Name them all. In public.
2) Dock pay/pension payments for unpaid bills over 30 days old from now on.
3) File charges for "improper retrieval." (See "Wuss Watch" below)
Senior Fellow Dana Joel Gattuso has a great new Tech Central Station piece, Asbestos Exposed. Remember this money quote next time you see one of those tear-jerker asbestos commercials put on by the trial lawyer industry: "...as many as 90 percent of all asbestos claimants are without injury."
Who benefits from this system? Lawyers. Those who genuinely are ill are finding the money pot empty, because too many lawyers love money more than they love justice.
A timely note from Will Hart of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee:
Under the guise of deficit reduction and cleaning up the environment, Senate Democrats this week are offering a so called "Polluter Pays" tax amendment to the Budget Resolution. In reality this amendment would levy a massive direct tax on business and an indirect tax on consumers, regardless of whether or not they have ever been connected to a Superfund site or any environmental cleanup. This is NOT a tax on "polluters."One might almost say that some of these folks who want to hamstring business are "Benedict Arnolds."
The "polluter" already pays! When there is an identifiable and viable "polluter," consistent with the law, those companies are held liable for cleaning up or paying for the cleanup of that site. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency's focus on making sure that the polluter does in fact pay resulted in 87% of new cleanups borne by Potentially Responsible Parties in 2003 --exceeding the Agency's historical 70%. Federal Government spending on the Superfund program is directed at cleaning up "orphan" sites, those sites where there is NOT an identifiable and viable party.
Advocates of reinstatement of the Superfund tax will likely also bombastically decry "cuts" in the Superfund budget as another reason to implement the tax. Their reasoning on this point is mythical as well and based on an inaccurate GAO report which fails to reflect that Congress continues to provide level funds to ATSDR, NIEHS, and Brownfields, but from separate appropriations. For Fiscal Year 2005, the President requested $1.4 billion for the Superfund, a $124 million, or 10%, increase over the 2004 Consolidated Appropriations level. This increase reflects a 48 % boost targeted for the Superfund's remedial program, which will allow 8-12 additional construction starts in 2005 and a similar number of additional completions by 2006.
In addition, the original Superfund tax was more than 50% paid for by the oil and gas industry through revenues brought in by petroleum excise taxes including the Refinery Crude Oil and Importers Petroleum Products Tax, the Chemical Feedstocks Tax, the Imported Chemical Derivatives Tax, and the Special Environmental tax on Corporate Alternative Minimum Taxable Income - even though those industries accounted for far less percentage of the sites. In a time of already drastically increasing fuel and energy costs amid a rebounding economy, one wonders why Democrats would even consider heaping on top these kinds of additional costs which get passed on directly to the American consumers through higher prices at the gas pump.
If members of Congress are sincere in their support for the Superfund program, they should support the President's budget request, not levy a burdensome tax increase on businesses and consumers that would hurt or economy and create job loses for potentially thousands of hardworking American citizens. Reinstating this tax at the same time complaining about U.S. job losses is exactly the same type of Democrat double talk we are getting more and more accustomed to. On one hand they claim to promote U.S. jobs, but then try to push through unfair taxes that only hamstring struggling businesses.
A frustrated NCPPR executive director, David Almasi, provides an example of the Law of Diminishing Returns in action:
When we moved into our current Capitol Hill office in 1998, The National Center's mail was picked up at 10 am, 3 pm and 5 pm. Somewhere along the line, the 10 am pick-up was eliminated. Now that's been consolidated into one afternoon pick-up at 4 pm. Two days ago, they didn't even take everything that was left out.My related personal pet peeve is that the USPS has changed The National Center's zip+4 code three times since 1998. We've since phased out using it on much of our materials in order to save funds and staff time on reprinting printed materials with new addresses when we did not even move. But somehow, I don't think that's the end goal the Postal Service had in mind.
Also during that time, the price of postage rose twice.
Sean over at the Everything I Know Is Wrong blog posted Project 21's press release of today on a logical and, for once, bi-partisan way to get more investment into the U.S. economy: reduce tax policies that encourage U.S. businesses to keep their foreign-made profits out of the U.S.
Unfortunately, we had a typo in the press release that made its argument seem less compelling than it truly is. We wrote: "According to a study by the financial services firm J.P Morgan, Chase and Company... the enactment of legislation reducing the tax rate could bring $300 million of that profit back into the U.S. economy..."
The actual figure is $300 BILLION, not million.
A note from husband David about lawsuits and personal responsibility:
The lawsuits against fast food companies, which blame the "enablers" rather than the fry-inhaling, super-sized coke slurping public responsible for their ever-expanding waistlines, raise some interesting questions.On that last point, he's just kidding, folks.
If people are no longer responsible for their own actions, does this mean tax evaders can blame the IRS for their crime? The IRS does, after all, provide the tax forms.
Or, does it mean that if an individual runs over a trial lawyer, the trial lawyer is to blame for presenting an all too tempting target?
In testimony before Constitution Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, NAACP Washington Bureau head Hilary Shelton said her group opposes a Federal Marriage Amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
It's perfectly fair for the NAACP to oppose such an amendment, but what about its opinion of the notion that led to its introduction In the first place: gay marriage? "The NAACP has not taken a position on that question," Shelton says.
Why? Maybe because, according to a recent CBS poll, 58 percent of surveyed blacks said they'd likely vote against a candidate who disagreed with them on the gay marriage issue. And most of that 58 percent opposed it.
Poll results from Wirthlin suggest the NAACP's apparent strategy of trying to keep both sides happy isn't going to work. Wirthlin found that 62 percent of black Americans support the Federal Marriage Amendment. And it's more popular among the lower income demographic that the population as a whole.
Here is Project 21 member Horace Cooper's take on the NAACP's maneuver:
Finally it's clear just how out of touch the NAACP is. Rather than focusing on issues of importance to improving the plight of blacks - education, housing and job training - they are wasting time pursing an elitist left-wing agenda. This position clearly does not reflect the sentiment of black America nor of the rank-and-file membership of the NAACP.
As Daniel Patrick Moynihan thoroughly documented, the breakdown of the family has led to poverty and crime in the inner city. It is inconceivable that a group which purports to exist to help blacks is placing its moral authority behind such an extremist counter-culture platform. This venerable organization has lost its moral roots. When the NAACP supports obstacles to marriage and family rather than protections, something sad has happened.
A note from husband David:
It seems to me that the liberals are Benedict Arnold-enablers. Or, to put it another way, they didn't fall -- they were pushed.I agree with this, but would add another consideration: Our tort system. The big trial lawyers give liberal politicians and their allies cash, in exchange for which the left blocks legal reforms that would guarantee the rights of victims to receive fair treatment but reduce huge payouts to trial lawyers. Tort costs are definitely a consideration when businesses consider outsourcing.
The reason manufacturing jobs are going overseas is more complicated than simply the cost of labor is cheaper there -- though, the trade unions' enormous power here is a big factor.
The costs of opening new plants in the current regulatory climate are enormous -- so enormous, in fact, that industry has an incentive to keep old and inefficient plants in operation as long as possible. At a certain point these plants can no longer compete with new, state of the art facilities built abroad. They then have to look overseas for their manufacturing needs.
Remember the experience of Shintech. They wanted to in-source jobs, but weren't allowed to.
Outsourcing is not a decision a company makes lightly. There are enormous costs associated with building new facilities, even when they are built abroad. There is also a lot more risk: Companies risk losing their investments to nationalization or damage due to political instability. Plus, there often are additional costs associated with getting finished products back to the U.S.
Even with all these costs and additional risk, many companies have concluded that their best interests are served by moving overseas. This should be a wake up call to everyone that something is wrong.
Liberals have backed virtually every item of the labor and environmental movements' big government agenda that put these perverse incentives in play.
Liberals wanted only clean industry -- they're getting it.
Liberals wanted only high paying jobs -- they're getting them too.
The trouble is that they're exporting all the remaining industries and jobs overseas in the process.