The United States government is criticizing the Putin regime in a reasonably strong statement (by diplomatic standards) today, says the Associated Press.
The AP reports the arrest of the head of Russia's largest oil company, Yukos, in what are widely believed to be trumped-up political charges (the company contributes to two Russian political parties unaffiliated with Putin) will have significant negative ramifications for Russia's economy.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow was quoted speculating that Russia law is being used selectively to silence and inimidate critics of Putin. He also implied he was speaking for higher authorities in the U.S. government, saying Sunday that Washington "was disturbed by the escalation of tensions around Yukos" and concerned that "after these occurrences new doubts will arise among foreign companies that work in the Russian market and also among potential investors."
The United States government is criticizing the Putin regime in a reasonably strong statement (by diplomatic standards) today, says the Associated Press.
Breaking news in Russia that seems to tell us a lot -- none of it positive -- about Vladimir Putin's commitment to democratic values and the rule of law. This exerpt is part of a long Associated Press report Saturday:
Russian authorities charged the country's wealthiest man and the chief of its largest oil producer with fraud and tax evasion yesterday, the culmination of a sweeping investigation decried by many leading business and political leaders as Kremlin-orchestrated and politically motivated.There is a lot more, and it is worth reading.
Shortly before dawn, Russian special forces in black uniforms stormed Mikhail Khodorkovsky's private jet moments after it landed in Siberia, shouting, 'FSB, put your weapons down or we'll shoot.'
FSB is the abbreviation for the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB....
Khodorkovsky's arrest sent shudders through Russia's business community and renewed troubling questions about the Kremlin's commitment to a rule-of-law approach to governance.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly promised Russians that he would steer the country toward democracy and foster conditions for its growth as a free-market economy. But the four-month investigation into Khodorkovsky's Yukos Oil has been widely viewed as the Kremlin's ham-handed way of reining in Khodorkovsky's political activities..."
Senate Democrats say the conservative plan to give seniors health care as good as that enjoyed by Members of Congress is the one thing that could destroy Medicare.
First, that's either a reflection of stupidity or an intentional lie, as bankruptcy would destroy it pretty well.
But beyond that, the only way Medicare could be "destroyed" by seniors flocking to the alternatives conservatives want to offer is if seniors LIKE the other options better.
So what the Democrats are saying essentially is that they don't give a darn what seniors want.
No surprise here, but infuriating anyway.
And let's reflect for a second on what the Democrats are saying. They are saying that can't countenance anything that would lead to the American people not needing or wanting a government program. Tells us a lot about their priorities, doesn't it?
Another timely and valuable note sent over by Mike Catanzaro of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee staff:
According to a number of indicators -- GDP growth, a stock market surge, productivity gains, stable prices -- the economy is roaring back to life. Thus it would be useful to assess just how the Lieberman-McCain global warming bill would affect the recovery, and the long-term health of the economy more generally.
Below is an assessment of current economic conditions compared with analyses of S. 139, the Climate Change Stewardship Act, by the Energy Information Administration and the Congressional Budget Office. As the assessment shows, S. 139, contrary to its most ardent champions, would negatively impact everything from taxes and employment, trade and manufacturing, as well as investment and federal deficits.
EIA on S. 139: The Lieberman-McCain bill will reduce GDP by $106 billion. That amounts to a tax increase of about $1,000 on every American household.
Ken Mayland, economist with Clearview Economics, quoted in the Oct. 16 edition of the Washington Post: "You give consumers a tax cut and they'll spend it. That's the way America works."
The Joint Economic Committee, Oct. 16 report on the economy: "Consumption has been a sector consistently supporting the economy in recent years."
EIA on S. 139: The bill would cause drastic reductions in coal use, resulting in the elimination of over 50,000 coal industry jobs.
The Washington Post: "The Labor Department reported Friday that employers added 57,000 payroll jobs, reversing the long slide that has confounded a broader economic recovery."
EIA on S. 139: The price of natural gas would increase 16 percent in 2010 and 46 percent in 2025. The effect? Manufacturing industries "participate in highly competitive international markets and would be expected to lose markets if domestic energy prices increase relative to foreign energy prices."
The Associated Press, Oct. 21: "One of the key complaints of American manufacturers is that China is undervaluing its currency, giving Chinese products a competitive advantage against U.S. manufactured goods of as much as 40 percent."
EIA on S. 139: "Because of lower real disposable income resulting from higher prices for energy, consumers will reduce overall spending and savings. Energy services also represent a key input in the production of goods and services. As energy prices increase, the costs of production rise, placing upward pressure on the nominal prices of all intermediate goods and final goods and services in the economy, with widespread impacts on spending across many markets."
The Joint Economic Committee, Oct. 16 report on the economy: "Consumption growth increased sharply in the fourth quarter of 2001 and was a major factor boosting real GDP for that and subsequent quarters."
Richard Yamarone, economist with Argus Research: "Consumers are really supporting the expansion with a voracious appetite for spending."
CBO: "A cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions could impose significant costs on the economy in the form of welfare losses...Welfare losses are real costs to the economy in that they would not be recovered elsewhere in the form of higher income. Those losses would be borne by people in their roles as shareholders, consumers, and workers...Losses to industry--in the form of lower stock values--would be broadly distributed among investors, to the extent that they have diversified portfolios."
The Washington Times, Oct. 10: "Major stock indexes, buoyed by declining unemployment and booming sales at the nation's department stores, yesterday climbed to their highest levels of the year, marking the first anniversary of a new bull market...Wall Street analysts say the year-long bull run has at least interrupted - and may possibly have ended - the longest bear market in modern times."
CBO: "A carbon trading program would lead to a decline in economic activity and a corresponding decrease in tax collections."
Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.), ranking minority member, House Budget Committee: "The administration's tax cuts and budget policies have not created the promised new jobs over the last three years, but they have created huge deficits that will stifle future growth and burden our children and grandchildren with debt."
NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi sends along a note:
Liberal hatred of President Bush has become an all-consuming passion for many. In his congressional district, it's gone so far that a candidate running to replace a very embarrassing incumbent has dropped out of the race to focus her efforts on hating the President!
Here are just a couple of things that my congressman, Jim Moran (D-VA), has done to bring attention to himself:
* Accosted an eight-year-old boy who pretended to hold him up.
* Entered into a questionable personal financial deal with a lobbyist involved in legislation he was in a position to influence (he needed the money to help pay off personal debts). He also received a favorable loan despite his poor credit.
* Alleged to have roughed up his wife, but no charges were filed (his wife filed for divorce a short time afterward).
* Sold his personal car and began using a car leased by his campaign for personal use.
* Assaulted fellow congressmen Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) and Dan Burton (R-IN).
* Viciously opposed the renaming of Washington National Airport to honor Ronald Reagan to the extent that he was against the Reagan name being used on mass transit maps and signs.
* Claimed that powerful American Jews were behind the military ouster of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
* Has a reputation of being a very combative and physically abusive when confronted by critics.
In 2004, he will face primary opposition. This watershed came after the Jewish remarks were made earlier this year. Several prominent local politicians have announced their intentions to challenge him. But one, former congresswoman and current state senator Leslie Byrne, has decided to drop out of the race. Why? The Washington Post reports Byrne feels her time is better spent trying to get George W. Bush out of office. If she defeated Moran, she says, it might be a hollow victory: "I would still have George Bush in the White House, and that is just not acceptable."
When liberals cannot take care of their own, why should they think they have the moral standing to take care of all of us?
Interesting article in The Hill today about the Leavitt nomination. Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma essentially says the nomination is being held up by Senator Lieberman because Lieberman is trying to jump-start his presidential campaign. Lieberman denies it. Interesting read.
For those of you with an interest in what is going on in Russia, I had an op-ed published recently in several papers, including this in the Miami Herald.
I also recommend to you our Future of Russia website, where we have another blog, links to news articles, and a discussion board. I invite anyone with an interest join our discussion there.
A note from Mike Catanzaro of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee staff:
During a recent Senate Commerce Committee hearing on global warming, proponents of mandatory energy suppression declared, in their usual glib manner, that the "consequences" of global warming (a term left conspicuously undefined) are "extremely serious." As we have seen, "serious consequences" is alarmist code for hurricanes, droughts, floods, etc., but also within that category is an increase in serious diseases (dengue fever, malaria). At what temperature level those maladies become more rife, more pervasive, and more afflicting is never stated. NRDC contends, first tentatively, then more confidently, that the spread of global-warming-induced disease is essentially occurring now: "Global warming is expected to increase the potential geographic range and virulence of tropical diseases...Disease-carrying mosquitoes are spreading as climate shifts allow them to survive in formerly inhospitable areas." Environmental Defense, sticking with the subjunctive, reaches a more hesitant, though no less alarmist, conclusion: "If the warming continues as scientists expect, we face the possibility of...insect-borne tropical diseases" (presumably the "we" means Americans).
FACT: There is no connection between global warming and outbreaks or increases in disease, tropical or otherwise. Dr. Paul Reiter, who worked for 22 years as a medical entomologist for the Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Disease of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and now head of the new unit of Insects and Infectious Disease at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, recently complained that those making such connections (including the U.N.'s IPCC) are "exploiting common misconceptions: mosquito-borne diseases are 'tropical,' hot weather and heavy rainfall mean more mosquitoes, mosquitoes die if the weather is cold, and more mosquitoes mean more infections." As he put it, "It is immoral for the political activists to mislead the public by attributing the recent resurgence of these diseases to climate change, particularly in Africa. The true reasons are far more complex, and the principal determinants are politics, economics, and human activities. A creative and organized application of resources to change the situation is urgently needed, regardless of future climate."
There's been a development in the Gregg Easterbrook story. NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi elaborates:
I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but the Tuesday Morning Quarterback was, in fact, sacked.
In the October 20 Washington Post, media critic Howie Kurtz reports that Easterbrook was unceremoniously dumped by ESPN without even a phone call. Furthermore, it appears his body of work with the network has been removed from their Internet web site.
Easterbrook is a visiting fellow at The Brookings Institution and an editor at The New Republic and several other magazines. It's not like he'll be worried where his next meal is coming from. However, besides the initial Associated Press story that can be found on a few media web sites and Kurtz's follow-up today, this is liable to be the last you see of it. While I commend ESPN for not creating a double-standard by keeping Easterbrook and dumping Rush Limbaugh, I do wonder why this is getting such little coverage.
My beef remains with the lack of media interest when liberals are caught behaving badly.
Everyone knows about Trent Lott and his comments at the Strom Thurmond birthday celebration. Many may also remember his association with the Council of Conservative Citizens. Both stories got major play. But did you know that Senator Jay Rockefeller has a "very close and personal friend" who is a Nazi sympathizer. He's not really close to the man, but was pretending to as he used Rickey McCumbers as a prop at a 1997 new conference. It was only after the press conference started that it was discovered that McCumbers had a swastika tattooed on his forearm. There was little coverage of the incident. To reveal the media bias, Frank Sesno of CNN said it would have been reported far and wide had the same faux pas been made by Newt Gingrich (see
http://secure.mediaresearch.org/news/cyberalert/1997/cyb19970729.html#3 for the story).
By the way, did you know that Cruz Bustamante once used the "n-word" in a speech (http://sandiego.indymedia.org/en/2003/09/100728.shtml)? Of course, you didn't. But you do know Governor-elect Swarzenegger is accused of being a sexual predator.
I'll stop now, since I could go on for hours...
Here's what NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi is saying about a new controversy involving another ESPN personality under fire:
It may be time to sack the "Tuesday Morning Quarterback."
That's the name of Gregg Easterbrook's football column appearing on ESPN.com. Easterbrook is a senior editor at the New Republic magazine, where he maintains an Internet blog. On Monday, October 13, in a column complaining about the violence in the new movie "Kill Bill," Easterbrook questioned the religious morality of the studio executives at Miramax and its parent Walt Disney Company for distributing it. Disney also owns ESPN.
Harvey Weinstein of Miramax and Michael Eisner of Disney are both Jewish. Easterbrook questioned their religious consciences, writing: "Does that make it right for Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by promoting for profit the adulation of violence?"
Easterbook has since apologized on that very same blog site, calling it a case of "mangled words." It's easy to accept his apology and move on under normal circumstances, but ESPN happens to be the same network that just a few weeks ago expressed great dismay and regret and -- depending on what stories you believe -- got rid of conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh for saying the media promotes the careers of black quarterbacks like Donovan McNabb.
One could say that Easterbrook's blog remark is part of a pattern of insensitivity. This past January, in a review he wrote of Kenneth Bradsher's anti-SUV book "High and Mighty," he approvingly reprinted Bradsher's assertion that the roads will be less safe in coming years as "immigrants, the lower middle class and the poor, who generally speed, run lights, drive drunk and crash more often than the prosperous class" begin to acquire secondhand SUVs.
Even though neither of Easterbrook's remarks were made on ESPN, network executives must take notice of them. Their outrage over Rush demands it.
Send Easterbrook to sensitivity training? Suspend him? Fire him? That's up to the network. But doing nothing is hypocritical.
Thoughts from our Ed Haislmaier:
"Well, you know something, they've played Hitler, nobody has ever really touched Stalin, it just occurred to me. It's not because I am a liberal or anything like that. Stalin is one big d--- mystery, I wonder why nobody has tried it? Many people, you know, speak of the fact that he killed more people than Hitler - why does nobody touch him? It's strange. So, and he was about my size, my height - with a wig I probably could do it."Coincidently, the next day The Heritage Foundation published a lecture by Anne Applebaum, columnist and editorial board member at the Washington Post, on her new book, Gulag: A History, in which she notes:
-Ed Asner, as quoted by columnist and talk show host Kevin McCullough on October 15 (a column correcting an earlier verion in which Asner was misquoted)
"Thanks to archives, we now know that there were at least 476 camp systems, each one made up of hundreds, even thousands of individual camps or lagpunkts, sometimes spread out over thousands of square miles of otherwise empty tundra. We know that the vast majority of prisoners in them were peasants and workers, not the intellectuals who later wrote memoirs and books. We know that, with a few exceptions, the camps were not constructed in order to kill people -- Stalin preferred to use firing squads to conduct mass executions.
Nevertheless they were, at times, very lethal: Nearly one-quarter of the Gulag's prisoners died during the war years. They were also very fluid: Prisoners left because they died, because they escaped, because they had short sentences, because they were being released into the Red Army, or because they had been promoted from prisoner to guard. There were also frequent amnesties for the old, the ill, pregnant women, and anyone else no longer useful to the forced labor system. These releases were invariably followed by new waves of arrests.
As a result, between 1929, when they first became a mass phenomenon, and 1953, the year of Stalin's death, some 18 million people passed through them. In addition, a further 6 or 7 million people were deported, not to camps but to exile villages. In total, that means the number of people with some experience of imprisonment in Stalin's Soviet Union could have run as high as 25 million, about 15 percent of the population."
Someone should turn Ms. Applebaum's new book into a movie and cast Mr. Asner as Stalin.
NewsMax.com is reporting that the owner of a New York Newspaper, the Niagara Falls Reporter, has said he hopes Rush Limbaugh gets cancer and dies.
According to the newspaper's website, the owner is also the editor-in-chief. It doesn't appear that he's a very nice guy. Here, for example, is what he published after the editor of a rival newspaper was fired: "Normally, I hate to see anybody lose his job. In the case of former Niagara Gazette Publisher Steve Braver though, I'll make an exception. I hope he has to eat dirt. He's a supercilious, arrogant jerk..."
I don't know anything about Steve Braver, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn he's a great guy.
An article by Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation in The Washington Dispatch reports that the Communist Party is growing again in Russia. Specifically, he says, last year 18,000 new recruits joined, 80 percent of whom are under 40 years of age.
Most noteworthy, the "reasons given were to 'protest current conditions' and because of their 'dislike of [Vladimir] Putin and Company.'"
This is worrisome because, in historical terms, there may be only a short window to convince the Russian people that democratic capitalism is their best option. No one denies that cleaning up after communism, especially economically, is difficult and can't be done overnight. But Russia needs leadership that -- in its words and especially its actions -- models the best of what democratic capitalism can be.
Think of Konrad Adenauer, who helped turn West Germany into an economic powerhouse after World War II, and reconcilled with Germany's neighbors to the point that Germany was allowed not only to re-arm, but to join NATO as well. Or George Washington, who could have become a King (or at the very least run for a third term), but chose instead to teach his people about a new way of thinking about political leadership.
No one can seriously say that the challenges facing Vladimir Putin aren't daunting, but he sought the job. Putin needs to do a great deal more to show his people that the rule of law has been fairly and objectively established in Russia. Until he or another Russian leader does that, Russia will not meet its economic goals nor will it establish a stable democracy where human and civil rights are the norm.
A Washington Times report by Amy Fagan Friday says Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) is showing a minute crack in his resolve to filibuster the Medicare prescription drug bill if it includes means testing (aka includes any provisions making wealthy seniors pay more for health care and/or drug coverage).
Meanwhile, the Fox News Channel's "Special Report" on Thursday said Kennedy gave a Senate floor speech saying American servicemen cannot be considered "liberators" of Iraq.
More evidence that lawyers are trying to take over the world. California has joined the other ridiculous states in trying to set national global warming policies though lawsuits.
This Heritage Foundation WebMemo #341 by Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., is worth a read. Gardiner predicts:
The UN failed spectacularly to deal with Saddam Hussein, and its influence is likely to diminish further in the coming years unless it demonstrates a greater willingness to address the threat posed by international terrorism, state-sponsors of terror, and rogue regimes developing weapons of mass destruction.
Good News for Gay Marriage Advocates: The Russian Orthodox Church has just performed its first-ever gay marriage ceremony.
Bad News for Gay Marriage Advocates: After the ceremony, the priest was fired and the church bulldozed and then burned because, church officals said, the ceremony had "desecrated" the building.