This WTO ruling against Bush's steel tariffs is said by the Washington Post to be bad for Bush politically, but it may not be. It may well remind voters in steel producing states that Bush tried to support them -- tried so much, in fact, that the WTO shot him down.
The ACLU and Planned Parenthood have sued the state of Tennessee, saying the state's "Choose Life" Specialty license plate "discriminates against those citizens with opposing viewpoints."
There is no record I can find of the ACLU suing the District of Columbia in regards to their "taxation without representation" license plates, which protest the fact that the District of Columbia, not being a state, does not have a Congressman and two Senators.
Unlike the Tennessee plates, which are issued to people only upon their request, the D.C. plates are mandatory for all vehicle owners.
ALCU has an interesting record in regard to license plates. In 2000, it sued in federal court to force Missouri to issue an "Aryan 1" license plate after the state had refused, saying the plate ran afoul of a law banning plates that are "obscene, profane, inflammatory, or contrary to public policy." Judge Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr. had previously refused to order Missouri to issue the plate.
(Limbaugh, by the way, is a relative of Rush Limbaugh's, putting at least part of the Limbaugh family against ending a ban on racially inflammatory license plates while the left-wing ACLU take the opposite position.)
In Ohio, Ray Vasvari, legal director for the ACLU, told the Cincinnati Post (11/23/2001) that license plates are a public forum that should not be heavily regulated. Vasvari was commenting on Ohio's policy banning hateful speech, profanity and enthic slurs on plates. His comments would seem to leave the door open for "choose life" plates, and all other specialty license plates, for that matter.
If anyone knows that the ACLU did try to block the District of Columbia from forcing its residents to display a slogan with which they might not agree, or can give me a good argument as to why the ACLU should be more interested in a voluntary slogan than a mandatory one, please let me know. I'll share anything thoughtful I receive here in the blog.
Anyone who is following the Yukos case at all will want to read this Washington Post article today. The article explains much about the Khodorkovsky and Lebedev indictments -- warts and all.
Khodorkovsky doesn't look great in the piece, but Putin looks worse, because by the end of it one is left with even more reason to believe that the Russian government's prosecution of these Yukos executives is politically motivated.
A note from our executive director, David Almasi:
People have been warmed about putting foxes in charge of henhouses. This is what you'll get:
Not only did liberal Congressman John Conyers take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution when he was sworn in, but he is also the ranking liberal on the House Judiciary Committee. As such, he can be rightfully considered the top liberal in the House of Representatives in charge of protection the integrity of that sacred document. So why is he pushing legislation that is in direct violation of the Constitution?
The Constitution expressly forbids bills of attainder -- legislation that singles out an individual or a group for punishment without a trial.
Conyers has sponsored legislation to censure U.S. Army Lieutenant General William Boykin, the 32-year Army veteran heading the office in charge of hunting down the likes of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Boykin is under fire for saying America is a "Christian nation" and remarks that some people say are critical of the Muslim faith. Boykin's remarks were made at a private church gathering, and not as a representative of the military.
Under our Constitution, people are entitled to their own opinions (First Amendment) and protected against bills of attainder (Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 3). Except, in this case, General Boykin. It's a sad day when liberals believe that a political drive-by shooting, which is essentially what the anti-Boykin bill is, trumps a congressman's better judgment and compliance with his oath of office and leadership position.
The judge in this news story is effectively trying to decree that homosexuals have less First Amendment rights than anyone else.
Briefly, Denver Judge John Coughlin has ordered a mother not to teach her child any Christian teaching that condemns homosexual activity. This is because the mother (who is the child's sole parent) considered herself to be a lesbian at the time of the child's adoption, and had a lover at the time.
The judge believes the former lover's feelings should be taken into consideration, even though the former lover has no legal nor biological relationship with the child.
Legal precedent grants no rights to persons whose sole relationship to a child is a sexual relationship with the child's parent, regardless of the parent's sexuality.
Had the mother in this story not considered herself to be a lesbian before her conversion to Christianity, she would not now be being told that she can't legally instruct her child that sex outside of marriage is against Christian teaching.
Can anyone imagine a judge telling a woman who used to sleep with her boyfriend that she can't teach her children that sex outside of marriage is against Christian theology?
The judge, by the way, did not tell the mother's former lover that she can't make disparaging remarks about Christian theology to the child.
Don't expect gay rights groups to stand up for the First Amendment rights being threatened in this case. All they'll see is a judge telling someone not to criticize homosexual activity. Nonetheless, they should remember that when fundamental human rights are tossed out like dirty bathwater, historically it is minorities who suffer most.
WorldNetDaily has an story about this as well, here, for anyone who wants additional details.
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter is on television just now comparing a ban on partial birth abortion to a ban on hysterectomies.
The root word for "hysterectomy" is "hysteria," as in "behavior exhibiting excessive or uncontrollable emotion, or a mental disorder characterized by emotional excitability."
I hope this Congresswoman, who can't tell the difference between a human life and a uterus, is not serving on the Intelligence Committee.
From a Reuters Report, November 6: "An EU official in Brussels, who declined to be named, told reporters the way the Yukos case was being handled was 'way off what we would consider acceptable in the European Union.'"
A left-wing talk show host, Thom Hartmann, has published an Internet document called Free Yourself from Conservative Talk Radio: 12 Steps to Recovery.
Among other advice, he suggests that readers "love democracy's basis in debate and respectful disagreement."
He spends most of the rest of the piece throwing mud at people who disagree with liberals.
The headline, "GOP Blocking Drug Bill, Democrats Say," in this Washington Post article today is a little bizarre, given that the piece goes on to discuss a possible Democrat filibuster of the bill.
The article's paragraph two also is ridiculous:
Negotiations to reach a compromise on Medicare and the drug plan are on "a surefire road to failure unless something changes," said Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.).Well, yes. Negotiations to reach a compromise on ANYTHING will fail unless changes occur. Compromise is a verb.
Finally, it becomes clear that the thrust of the piece is that the GOP is insisting upon doing what it believes is best. Naughty, naughty. Only Democrats are allowed to do that.
It must have been a very slow news day.
A note from our executive director, David Almasi:
I'd love to have a bigger television, but I bought the biggest one I believe my family can afford.
Today the Washington Post discusses the long-awaited move of some public housing tenants in Annapolis, Maryland.
I can't help but notice that the accompanying photo shows them moving one tenant's television that is larger than the one my household believes it can afford on two good incomes.
For more on the how "poverty" might not really mean poor, see this recent
column by Ralph de Toldeano from Insight magazine.
An e-mail from Mike Catanzaro over at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee raises some very good questions about polling done on a global warming bill the U.S. Senate voted on last week:
One of the many canards about the Lieberman-McCain bill (S. 139) is the notion that the American public overwhelmingly supports it, and mandatory greenhouse gas reductions more generally. This is something supporters argued in last week's debate, and will repeat with greater vehemence in the coming months. Opponents, as the argument goes, are guilty of obstructing the "will" of the people, something that, apparently, is fairly easily and readily identifiable. To find it, and discern its meaning, Lieberman-McCain supporters point to a recent Zogby poll, which found that "75 percent of Americans want the U.S. Congress to take action now to stop global warming," according to Phil Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust. "The numbers speak for themselves," Jeremy Symons, climate change manager for the National Wildlife Federation, said of the poll. "Americans want action now on global warming, and they clearly support the moderate approach being offered by Senators McCain and Lieberman."
FACT: The Zogby poll provides no evidence of overwhelming support for S. 139 or Kyoto-style restrictions on energy use. Consider the questions: "Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman have proposed legislation to begin addressing global warming. If enacted, the bill would -- for the first time -- require major industries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, these industries would be required to reduce emissions to year 2000 levels within the next 7 years. How you feel about this proposal?" Not surprisingly, 75 percent "feel" pretty good about it, because the question says nothing about costs, who pays them, or what it means--both for consumers and the economy -- to reduce emissions to 2000 levels. Here's another: "Addressing global warming by requiring major industries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can improve the environment without harming the economy. Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree?" Again, many respondents thought that sounded plausible as an abstract proposition. Instead, w hat might the reaction be to this question: "How would you feel about this legislation if you knew that, when fully implemented, it would increase your electricity bill by 46 percent?" Or: "How would you feel about this bill if you knew that, when fully implemented, it would impose a tax of $1,000 on every American household?" Or even: "Would you support the Kyoto Protocol if you knew it would impose substantial burdens on the poor, elderly, and minorities?”
A note from our executive director, David W. Almasi:
Because, according to a Metro spokesman, "integrity and trust are the cornerstones of effective leadership," the mass transit authority for the Washington, D.C. region spent over $275,000 on workshops to teach these values to their management.
In most places, this is taken care of by careful interviews of applicants. But this is Washington, and this is the same system that recently raised fares and is already contemplating raising them again soon while simultaneously demanding more funding from the federal government. Metro board members find no problem with this lavish expense or similar expenses like promoting of artwork, self-cleaning toilets and a new staff law library and redecorated legal offices at a time when the system is supposed to be tightening its belt.
From National Center executive director David W. Almasi:
Utah Governor Mike Leavitt was finally confirmed to become the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on October 28. He was confirmed by a vote of 88-8, with four members not present.
That's a pretty wide margin of victory for Leavitt and the Bush Administration, but the way in which it came shows how Senate liberals are abusing the legislative rules to take out their aggression on the President.
The first time Leavitt was scheduled for a vote in the Environment and Public Works Committee, minority members boycotted the meeting -- thus denying committee chairman James Inhofe a quorum. Leavitt was also deluged with questions and legislative holds on the nomination, common precursors to a filibuster.
After the Bush Administration made some concessions and took some lumps of criticism, the liberals dropped their holds and filibuster threat and the vote when through with overwhelming support. Bush's nominees to the appeals courts are facing filibusters of the sort threatened against Leavitt, but they have not been as lucky. Some nominees have been waiting since May of 2001 for the courtesy of an up or down vote in the Senate, but are being denied by liberal filibusters. Most, if not all, would easily be confirmed if they were brought up for the vote. One nominee, Miguel Estrada, withdrew his nomination rather than continue this debasement of democracy.
Four senators didn't vote. To really turn up the hypocrisy level on all of this, those four included John Edwards amd Joe Lieberman -- who both had holds on the nomination.
Important enough to obstruct, but not important to actually come out and vote on, eh?
Another excellent report today from the Washington Post about the struggle within the Kremlin between the pro-Western reformers and the former KGB. Here's just one excerpt:
"Several prominent human rights advocates described the billionaire as a political prisoner. 'I think that any person becomes a political prisoner if the law is applied to him selectively, and this is an absolutely clear case to me,' Yelena Bonner, widow of the legendary dissident Andrei Sakharov, told Ekho Moskvy radio. 'This is a glaringly lawless action.' "
The Washington Post is saying it better than I can:
Washington Post, 10-27-03:
“…Khodorkovsky had the additional misfortune of being the last surviving oligarch. For those who have not kept up their Russian, ‘oligarch’ is a term of art for ‘rich Jews’ who made their money in the massive privatization of Soviet assets in the early 1990s. It is still not a good thing to be a successful Jew in historically anti-Semitic Russia.
Since Putin was elected president in 2000, every major figure exiled or arrested for financial crimes has been Jewish. In dollar terms, we are witnessing the largest illegal expropriation of Jewish property in Europe since the Nazi seizures during the 1930s.
Unfortunately, the implications of Khodorkovsky’s arrest go beyond the suppression of democratic voices and the return of official anti-Semitism. This arrest must be seen in the context of increasingly aggressive, military and extrajudicial actions in Ukraine, Moldova, the South Caucasus and Chechnya. In the past month, Putin has demanded that Ukraine sign a concessionary economic treaty; Russian intelligence services have been detected behind election irregularities in Azerbaijan and Georgia and in influence-peddling in Moldova and Abkhazia; and Russian gunboats have confronted the Ukrainian Coast Guard in an illegal attempt to seize a valuable commercial waterway.
For the balance of his first term, Putin has skillfully taken advantage of America’s necessary preoccupations with the war on terrorism and the liberation of Iraq. Now Moscow and the capitals of Eastern Europe are watching carefully to see how Washington responds to this latest crackdown. If the United States fails to take a hard line in response to such a high-visibility arrest, chauvinists in the Russian Ministry of Defense and the FSB will correctly conclude that there will be no meaningful response to the reestablishment of a neo-imperial sphere of influence in the new democracies to Russia’s south and west. In addition to the expected Cold War thuggery and opportunistic financial seizures, we should expect that the new powers in Russia will rig the crucial elections in Ukraine and Georgia next year and continue to prop up the brutal dictatorship of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus.
Finally, the incarceration of one man in Moscow’s notorious Matrosskaya Tishina Prison poses painful questions for U.S. policy. It is now impossible to argue that President Bush’s good-faith efforts at personal diplomacy with Putin have produced democratic outcomes. Indeed, each of Putin’s visits to the Crawford ranch and Camp David has been followed by the cynical curtailment of democratic freedom inside Russia. While it remains unclear what positive qualities Bush detected in Putin’s soul during their famous meeting in Slovenia, it is abundantly clear that this is the ‘soul’ of a would-be Peter the Great.”
Washington Post, 10-27-03:
“Mr. Khodorkovsky stands out in Russia because he has made his company and its books more transparent than had any of his rivals. Though the origins of his empire are shady, he is, in some ways, Russia’s first real capitalist — and like a real capitalist, he hasn’t hesitated to participate openly in the democratic system by donating money to political parties, including those who oppose Mr. Putin. Putting him under arrest sends a clear signal to other Russians that no one is safe from arbitrary prosecution, or from the political whims of the Kremlin.
It’s also a signal that the Russian government cares far more about destroying its rivals than it does about genuinely improving the Russian economy. In recent months, there were signs that capital flight from Russia had stabilized, as Russian businessmen slowly began to feel more confident in the country’s legal system. Following Mr. Khodorkovsky’s arrest, the stock market crashed and the Russian ruble plunged, as rumors of new capital flight abounded. Large investors, including Western oil companies, may be confident they have enough Kremlin connections to stay in the country, but smaller investors are now more likely to stay away.
The Bush administration’s reaction to this arrest may determine whether it sticks. Just a few weeks ago, President Bush endorsed ‘President Putin’s vision for Russia: a country … in which democracy and freedom and rule of law thrive.’ It’s hard to see how President Putin’s ‘vision’ can include the rule of law if it also includes arbitrary prosecution. Certainly there are some within the administration who believe that a Russian strategic decision to start rolling back democracy and the rule of law will undermine the Russian-American relationship. But the president himself must now recognize that that is what now may be happening. Mr. Bush may be unable to persuade his friend Vladimir to behave differently, but it is vital that he try. The preservation of democracy in Russia is more than an ideal; it is a crucial U.S. interest.”
Putin says his #1 concerns are establishing the rule of law and economic development. You be the judge.
Financial Times, 10/27/03
The Moscow stock market plunged more than 10 per cent on Monday after the arrest of the head of Yukos, the oil major, prompted fears about investing in the country - just one week after the market hit an all-time high. The arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Yukos chief executive, on Saturday morning and the seven charges brought against him by the Kremlin, ranging from tax fraud to theft against the state, rattled investor sentiment.
"The arrest of YUKOS head Mikhail Khodorkovsky will result in a 20-percent fall on the domestic stock market this week, stock analysts reported ..."
Speaking of WMAL, here's a report from their website about the reaction fo Rush Limbaugh's fans to news of his drug dependency:
By a nearly unanimous margin, Rush Limbaugh's listeners are sticking with the nation's No. 1 talk radio host, despite his current absence from the airwaves and recent admission that he is addicted to prescription painkillers.There's more, but you get the idea.
In a survey of Limbaugh's audience conducted last weekend for Critical Mass Media by Burke Incorporated, an independent polling firm, more than nine out of ten listeners said that news of Limbaugh's drug dependency had not diminished their regard for him. Indeed, 22% of those questioned said they had gained respect for Rush "because of the way he is handling his problems," while only 8% said they had less respect for him.
An overwhelming 95% of the sample agreed that "Rush is human, he has made mistakes, and is entitled to a second chance with a clean slate." And more than 99% of those surveyed said they expected the show to be just as good if not better when Limbaugh returns.
Limbaugh continues to inspire enormous trust among his listeners. When asked to rate on a scale of one to 10 how much trust they "usually have" in Limbaugh (one being "no trust" and 10 being "complete trust") roughly half of those questioned put him at 9 or 10. His mean score among the entire sample was an impressive 8.2. When respondents were asked how much they will trust Limbaugh when he returns to the airwaves, the numbers were virtually identical....
An on-air reporter for WMAL Radio, a good station I listen to a lot, had an odd bit of news early this afternoon.
Reporting on an incident in Fairfax County, Virginia in which unknown vandals spray-painted cars, apparently at random, with swastikas and other things, the reporter noted that the authorities plan to investigate the vandalism, even though "all the victims are white males."
It is good to know that white males are still entitled to the protection of the laws, but it is disturbing to learn that's newworthy.