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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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Monday
May102004

We Know the Sierra Club Doesn't Do Science, But Apparently it Can't Do Math or History, Either

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web today has a hilarious point to make about a new book written by Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope.



Taranto notes that Pope complains that President Bush has (supposedly) turned back the clock on environmental protection "a full century" -- and Pope complains that Bush has "abandoned the environmental principles first championed by President Theodore Roosevelt."



But, Taranto points, out, "if Bush is trying to turn the clock back a century, that would be to 1904, when the president was... Theodore Roosevelt."

Monday
May102004

Rumsfeld Must Stay

David Frum ha good points on the Rumsfeld-should-resign issue in his blog on National Review Online today.



I continue to maintain that those who want Rumsfeld out have wanted him out all along; the prison abuse issue simply gave them an opening.



Thanks to Power Line blog for the pointer.

Sunday
May092004

The Day After Tomorrow

I have a new op-ed out, on the topic of the new global warming disaster movie, and thought I would share an abridged version of it here:

Promoters of the global warming disaster movie "The Day After Tomorrow" must believe we were born yesterday.



The film focuses on a global apocalypse. Two hundred and ninety-foot tidal waves surge against Manhattan skyscrapers followed by a quick freeze that leaves Manhattan enshrouded in ice. Dozens of cities get hammered. A tornado levels Los Angeles, five-pound hailstones bombard Tokyo while San Francisco Bay freezes. It's a New Ice Age.



It's also the latest brainstorm of German schockmeister Roland Emmerich, best known for "Independence Day" and "Godzilla."



Those movies were enjoyable examples of the "sky is falling" fantasy genre. "The Day After Tomorrow," however, is the subject of a multi-million dollar PR campaign touting it as if it were a realistic warning of what could happen if we don't dismantle our economy to stave off global warming. Yet the extreme scenarios promoted by global warming theory advocates are supported more by politics than by science.



Kyoto was rejected by President Bush because of its draconian economic burdens and because the treaty wouldn't prevent global warming. There is little scientific evidence documenting the need for a Kyoto-style crusade against climate change, anyway.



Excepting the El Nino year of 1998, since about 1979, the Earth's temperature apparently has not been increasing. What minor warming the Earth experienced over the past century primarily occurred before 1940, when there were far fewer automobiles and power plants.



The U.S., in any case, is not ignoring climate issues. The U.S. government spent over $3.5 billion on climate change in 2003 alone.



Many of the horrendous events predicted by global warming scaremasters have no basis in reality. Even if global warming were to occur at the fast pace predicted by alarmists, it wouldn't unleash the New Ice Age predicted in "The Day After Tomorrow."



Says scientist Andrew Weaver in the journal Science, "it is safe to say that global warming will not lead to the onset of a new ice age."

Friday
May072004

The Commons

There's a new blog in the neighborhood, "The Commons," a group blog of free-market environmentalists that is the brainchild of Iain Murray, blogmaster of the excellent The Edge of England's Sword blog.



The Commons, named in honor of the concept of the tragedy of the commons, is dedicated to showing how environmental quality is best defended by free markets and property rights. It made its debut this evening.

Friday
May072004

Giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy

Thoughts from husband David:

It is not Donald Rumseld who should resign, but Nancy Pelosi. If it is a resignable offense to avoid making public statements that could prejudice an ongoing military investigation, then it must be an offense to send a message to our enemies that we're not united behind our military leaders, that we're losing our stomach for the battle, and that what our enemies are doing is working. All of which Nancy Pelosi and her comrades have done.



Rumsfeld is being held accountable for the actions of perhaps six individuals out of some several hundred thousand, while Nancy Pelosi can't even monitor her miniscule staff to make sure her employees do not violate campaign finance laws.



There clearly are some politicians who are gleeful when things don't go well in Iraq. They put their narrow political interests above the welfare of the troops on the field. They have blood on their hands.



Nancy Pelosi and all the rest who are playing this game should resign.

Friday
May072004

"His Actions Have Been Exactly What They Should Have Been"

An excellent post at Everything I Know Is Wrong on the Rumsfeld-Should-Resign nonsense. Sean has more common sense than the entire New York Times editorial board, and his prose is better, too.

Friday
May072004

Nicer Mail

From the mailbag:

Hi:



I saw the link you put up for Joe Roche's group to receive care packages. How can we find out about other folks serving in Iraq who also need care packages? I have a group of friends who would like to make this a project.



Thanks,



Debra
Folks have written to tell me about these three sites, all of which I have visited and which can provide assistance:



Keystone Soldiers

Operation Military Pride

Books For Soldiers



These are quality sites worth visiting, even for those who don't plan to send care packages at this time.

Thursday
May062004

Perjury is O.K.

I'm watching U.S. Senator Jon Corzine of New Jersey explain to Sean Hannity that Rumsfeld should resign because the actions of some of his subordinates put the reputation of the United States in a bad light.



Does he truly want that to be the new standard for all public officials?



If so, it is quite a change in opinion from the days he which he thought Bill Clinton should remain in office, even after committing perjury.

Thursday
May062004

Inside the Beltway

The Washington Times Inside the Beltway column today includes quotes from Joe Roche's letter about the soldiers' response to the prison abuse, as posted May 5 in this blog.



John McCaslin, who writes the column, has a book, "Inside the Beltway: Offbeat Stories Scoops and Shenanigans from Around the Nations Capital" coming out next month. If it is as widely read as his column, he'll have a best-seller.

Thursday
May062004

Will Moammar Gadhafi Go on International TV to Apologize for This?

Will Moammar Gadhafi go on international television to express regrets for, and a full investigation of, the treatment of these prisoners?



Will Le Monde run an anti-Libyan cartoon?

Thursday
May062004

Speaking of Hostile E-Mail...

I have the O'Reilly Factor on right now. The guest is Christopher Wolf, listed as representing the law firm of Proskauer Rose LLP.

Small world. Another person from that very law firm sent the black conservative group Project 21, which we sponsor, race-based hate mail the other day.

According to Google, Christopher Wolf wrote an essay published on GigaLaw.com entitled "Racists, Bigots and the Law on the Internet." The piece describes the legal limitations on prosecution for Internet hate speech and advises that the "best antidote" to hate speech is "more speech."

So, in the spirit of taking his advice, here's some more speech:

Dear Proskauer Rose LLP,

It is rude to call black conservatives "Uncle Toms."

Please inform your staff.

Thank you.

Wednesday
May052004

Apparently, We're Unpatriotic

I received a rather odd e-mail a few minutes ago. It is from a fellow who considers our entire organization unpatriotic, and wants us to know that his soldier nephew thinks we're "a bunch of assholes."

I gather the correspondent objects to our press release Amid the Nightline Controversy, Remember: Our Troops Are Doing A Great Deal of Good. He seems to think the press release is anti-soldier, and unpatriotic.

The press release begins: "Believing that it is the best way to respond to ABC broadcaster Ted Koppel, The National Center for Public Policy Research today has posted on its website an extensive list of the achievements of just one of the many U.S. units operating in Iraq. On his April 30 broadcast Koppel will recite the names of all the Americans killed in combat in Iraq. The list recounts the achievements of the 16th Combat Engineer Battalion, part of the 1st Armored Division, which has been in Iraq since the war started and remains on active duty there at this time. It was provided by Spc. Joe Roche, who serves with the 285-soldier unit."

This seems uncontroversial to me, but it really hit a nerve with this guy:

The National Center for Public Policy Research:

It amazes me that somehow you wish to draw controversy out of a simple reading of the soldiers who have died in Iraq. Shame on you for your simplistic opportunism to get press for your organization.

My deceased father George Massie Gividen, Jr. will be inducted into the US Ranger Hall of Fame this July. He served as a Marine before he was accepted at West Point. Among his many citations and awards from the Korean War are the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver,Star, Soldiers Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and 5 purple hearts. He then taught at West Point and served in the Civil Service until he retired a few years before he died. If he were alive, he, like me, would have sat through every minute of the Nightline program paying his respects to those soldiers who have died over there.

I spoke to my brother J. Richard Gividen, a retired Army officer. Though he missed it, he also wanted to see it. In fact I am sending him a copy. He also confirmed my father would have been glued to the television.

My nephew, SPC Dustin Schafer with the 2nd Brigade Recon Troop Iron Horse, just got back from Iraq about a month ago. He told me he is shocked that someone would not want people to know about those that have given their life in Iraq--in fact he was injured while his driver died in a Humvee accident. His words about you--"what a bunch of assholes." His friends in his unit share his sentiments.

As you can see my family is full of military people who all support the idea and spirit of this show. I teach government here in Texas and I tell my students daily the number of soldiers who have died. Why do I do this? Because I think they should know the sacrifice which goes on daily in their name. That at least for those couple of minutes they will soberly think and pay their respects. I do not see how an informed public is a bad public. Does this somehow make me a bad American? Does this make the members of my family bad Americans? I think not.

Maybe you need to reexamine your beliefs and see if you really are pro-soldier, and pro-American. From here in San Marcos and Fort Hood, Texas, and from Arizona you are not looking to patriotic. I will be sure to mention your group as a fine example of partisan politics over substance to my class. Thank you for your time.

J. Michael Gividen, MA
[street address deleted]
San Marcos, TX 78666

I made several comments about the Koppel broadcast in this blog, available here, here, here, and here, but none of them urge people not to know about or pay respects to our military war dead, or take the position that "an informed public is a bad public." And there was certainly nothing obviously partisan about anything we said about Ted Koppel. Heck, I watched the show myself -- I just wanted it balanced with something about what those men and women died for.

As I said at the time, the Nightline controversy really was much more about perceptions of Ted Koppel's entire body of work than it was about the soldiers and Marines. I'm not convinced even now that Koppel himself understands this, but the controversy over that broadcast played the useful role of making sure the broadcast could not be turned into an anti-war tool.

We do get rather a lot of hostile mail here. It is not the first hostile e-mail that has me perplexed, and I don't suppose it will be the last.
_____

Wednesday
May052004

"I Hope People Don't Lose Faith in Us": A Soldier Discusses the Prison Abuse Incidents

This letter about the prison abuse incidents, received May 4 from U.S. Army Spc. Joe Roche in Iraq, speaks eloquently without any need for further comment from me:

Dear Amy,

...about the abuse at the prison. I'm at a place right now where there are thousands of U.S. soldiers. I went to breakfast and dinner at the KBR dining hall here. It is huge, hundreds of soldiers gathered to eat. Around us are large-screen tvs, and yes, the news was mostly about the prison abuse.

Everyone is so angry. I mean, angry! It is as if those soldiers hurt us more than the enemies here in Iraq have. I don't think that if that RPG last week had hit and killed us in my hummwv, there would have been any of the damage done to our cause here that those soldiers have done. I remember when I worked for the University of Minnesota Police Department that when one police officer acted wrong and was captured on camera, anywhere in the U.S., it was as if all police everywhere were made the bad guys, blamed and hurt. Now I'm feeling that here.

I can't tell you of the outbursts by my fellow soldiers at those pictures. For one thing, it is mostly swear words and I don't want to write that to you. Amy, this is a powerful blow to us.

As you know, we have done raids and captured some of the top terrorists in Baghdad over the past months. My sister has some dramatic pictures of at least one raid. In all of those, we handled the enemy w/ respect. Our big bosses always pressed us on the Geneva Convention rules before raids, and we have taken many classes on ROEs (rules of engagement) and on the proper treatment of prisoners. There are rosters w/ all our names on them for these classes because dealing w/ prisoners is major concern of our leadership.

My battalion has caught car bombers, weapons' smugglers, and those laying IEDs to kill us. We've even captured in raids those who fired mortars at our base on Baghdad Island. And EVERY TIME, we treated them w/ respect and took care to give them full medical treatment, food and clothing.

Let me recount to you a story that [name and unit deleted] told Tom Ricks of the Washington Post when he visited last month. One day one of his best friends and another soldier were hit by an IED in a hummwv in front of him. They got the one soldier out who was badly injured, but the fire was so bad that they couldn't get his friend out. They don't know if he was alive as he burned, but they had to watch. Now, that street that this happened on was one where they had built schools, improved much infrastructure, many many projects to make it a better and safer place. ...When the IED blew, across the street were some of those very same neighborhood people cheering. They cheered as our fellow American burned and the other one was dragged out. Now, these are tankers, and they have big BIG guns, and all were ready to fire. The soldiers, all of them seeing the tragedy of the attack, and seeing the sick group cheering across the street, they all held their composure. No one fired a shot, no one did anything inappropriate. They did exactly as they were trained. They acted more professional and disciplined in a manner that I don't think many other people in the world could have. All because they cheered, those people were not to be engaged or harassed. That is what we live w/ out here. And Amy, our soldiers, your soldiers, they acted supremely better and more heroic for our country in that scene. Those scum will remember the restraint and composure of those Americans, even if today they are still infected w/ this sick hate of us. Contact Mr. Ricks if you can because [the soldier] gave him a powerful quote that he thought well accompanied that experience, and perhaps he can elaborate even more from [his] account.

So you can imagine how horrified and truly angry everyone is.

I guess that in any job, any profession, anywhere we will find bad eggs. It is just that it seems shocking that even, well, those soldiers there have hurt us.

Let me just say on a personal note that I hope all those people who have given us support and prayed for us will accept my assurance that your anger at the abuse it shared by us in my battalion, by many more soldiers around me that I'm encountering right now, and that no one should have any fear that such abuse is done by us. Frankly, I'm just shocked and angry. I hope people don't lose faith in us over this. Those soldiers are idiots, and have attacked our country in a manner perhaps more painful than our enemies have. No one committed and dedicated to this mission should feel that abuse is reflective of what we are doing. It is completely the opposite....

-Joe

Wednesday
May052004

Attack of Cucumber-Eaters, Part II

The cucumber-eaters have struck in the U.S.



Copying a similar group of crustless-sandwich munchers, self-described "former [U.S.] diplomats" (although the list of signers reveals the description isn't quite accurate) have sent a letter to President Bush complaining that U.S. policy in the Middle East favors Israel over the Palestinians.



The letter begins "We former U.S. diplomats applaud our 52 British counterparts who recently sent a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair criticizing his Middle East policy and calling on Britain to exert more influence over the United States."



Isn't that just like a diplomat? Even when retired, they call upon our government to take orders from foreigners.



Check out the website of the sponsoring group, whose first two board members, Andrew I. Killgore and Richard H. Curtiss, signed the letter first and second. As a parlor game, see how many statements critical of Israel you can find on the main page alone. I'd suggest that old drinking game -- drink a shot for every one you can find -- but playing might kill you.



Browsing back issues of their publication also is instructive. My favorite article is "It's Academic! Saudi Arabia's Remarkable New Cabinet." Would that be the cabinet that stopped funding anti-Americanism and decided to let Saudi women drive? Er, no. Not quite that remarkable.



We'll hold off on calling a Saudi Arabian cabinet "remarkable" until one serves in a democratically-elected government.



Meanwhile, we've read through the very many media reports covering the release of this letter. None of them I read, including this mention in the Washington Post, this AP report, or this Saudi editorial, mention that the sponsoring group is ardently critical of Israel, although a report in Britain's Independent does at least quote the group's president, Killgore, saying, apparently critically, of George Bush and John Kerry, "They're both very dedicated Zionists, it seems to me." Fox News, predictably, did a better job of describing the group during the "roundtable" segment of Brit Hume's "Special Report."

Tuesday
May042004

"One of the Most Inspiring and Important Things to Us Has Been the Incredible Arrival of Care Packages..."

Frequent visitors to this blog know that a long-time associate of The National Center's, Joe Roche, joined the U.S. Army after 9/11, inspired by those events. He was assigned to the 16th Engineering Battalion of the 1st Armored Division, and has been in Iraq since the war started.

Joe has attracted some attention here in the U.S. because an essay he wrote about his experiences in Iraq was published by many metropolitan newspapers and Stars and Stripes in April, read aloud on-air by several of the most influential talk radio hosts in America, circulated by several organizations and numerous individuals to their own e-mail lists, posted on blogs, and much more.

A few days after Joe's essay began to be widely circulated, the 1st Armored Division received word that its 12-month deployment in Iraq would be extended at least three more months. As tough as that news was, something made it tougher: Most of the soldiers already had shipped their personal effects home. So a call went out for care packages.

On Sunday, for the first time since April 20, Joe had access to e-mail for about thirty minutes. He was able to write to tell us what we have been wanting to know: Had the American people responded to the call for care packages?

May 2, 2004

...Amy, you will be hearing from my commanders soon. What everyone has done to send us care packages has been quite overwhelming. So many items that were critically needed by soldiers arrived just in time. I simply cannot overstate this.

We arrived at our new locations, only to be moved further, and then to face the reality of starting up many things for ourselves. This includes latrines, showers, and of course the mission-essential matters. We've been going hard and strong almost non-stop. I cannot elaborate where or what we are doing amongst the 16th Engineers, though I wouldn't be surprised if some of the news gives you hints. All I will say is that our units are right where it is all happening, and some are in places that are harsh, spartan in the extreme, and extremely challenging just for each soldier to get through the day.

These units are setting up in conditions that would make most people forlorn. They are doing it great, and you would be very proud.

The thing I must impart to you right away, though, is that one of the most inspiring and important things to us has been the incredible arrival of care packages from people all over the country. It is overwhelming. The first day such critically needed items arrived such as socks and baby wipes. Then a massive load of packages w/ treats, leisure items like books and DVDs, and more hygienic essentials. The big bosses lined up the soldiers to walk through and take what they need. It was like everyones' birthday, as I watched the soldiers hauling things back to their rooms.

...I'm running out of time to be on the net.

Quickly I have to say that there is no time to respond to everyone. My commanders are stressing about this and are trying to find ways to convey the deep thanks we all have. Packages continue to arrive each day. It is beyond incredible!

Lastly, I want to make a personal thanks to all of you for sending prayers and best wishes. I'm aware of the news. On a daily basis, however, many many more things happen than you ever hear about. ...In the past 8 days, on convoys and missions myself, we have been attacked by an RPG, 3 IEDs and a mortar attack. It is a miracle, really, that NONE of us have been hurt. The RPG, for example, aimed right at my hummwv (w/ 8 soldiers) missed by hitting a barrier just a few yards away (blowing it to pieces). Two of the IEDs blew next to our vehicles, yet somehow no one was hit. And in that mortar attack, one landed in the middle of a group of our hummwvs, just 20 feet in front of me. Again, we are all amazed that no one has been hit.

This is your prayers. Thank you so much. Please keep strong and keep your heart in our mission. I know you have done more than is imaginable. ...My time is up on the computers. I must go...

-Joe

Joe's words speak for themselves. If you would like to join the many thoughtful people who sent care packages to the troops, please do so. You can see how much it means to them. We're not in danger of sending more than the soldiers need.
_____

Sunday
May022004

D.C. Fails New EPA Standards, But is Not at Fault

National Center research associate Eric Chapman clears the air about regional air quality rules:

A Washington Post article on April 16, 2004 "Air Quality in Region Fails EPA's New Test," identified the District of Columbia and several Maryland and Virginia counties as failing to meet new smog standards. The new restrictions in the Clean Air Rules of 2004, which were announced on April 15 by the Environmental Protection Agency permit ozone levels to average no greater than 85 parts per billion (ppb) over an eight-hour period. In contrast to the levels enforced in 1990 - 120 ppb per hour - the new levels are far more encompassing. Because its air quality is designated as moderate, the District and many of its surrounding counties have until 2010 to improve their quality of air. However, D.C., Maryland and Virginia aren't really the source of the problem.



In fact, most of the blame can be attributed to "transport" pollution, which comes in from Mid-western states. For example, emissions from Chicago, and other Midwest cities contribute to the rising ppb rates of cities on the East coast. "Transport pollution accounts for 70 percent of the pollution we experience during the worst days of summer," said Joan Rolfs, the chief of air quality planning for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. According to the EPA, 474 counties in the nation were in violation of the new requirement. Deadlines to meet the new emissions regulation range from 2007 to 2021. Those counties with the most severe problems, like Los Angeles County, are given the most time to apply and enforce new measures of control.



The potential economic consequences of attaining such measures might prove to be problematic. Jeffrey Marks, the National Manufacturers Association director of air quality, commented that, "many communities will find it difficult to eventually meet such standards without jeopardizing local economic growth." Touching on the issue of transport pollution as well, Marks notes, that, "more than half of the nation's manufacturing capacity is located in non-attainment areas that have been reducing emissions for years, even as emissions from neighboring communities and states continue to pose problems for them. Unless transport pollution can be effectively remedied, expect Washington D.C. and its surrounding counties to maintain high ppb levels.

Sunday
May022004

Criminals Invade Capitol Grounds, Police Do Nothing

National Center executive director David W. Almasi wonders just what the U.S. Capitol Police are there for if not to enforce the law.

On April 20, about 70 teenagers who are illegal aliens held a mock graduation ceremony on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol to protest that they cannot benefit from things like in-state college tuition benefits because they are not legal citizens. Despite their literally wearing their illegal status on the sleeves of their gowns, no arrests were made.



As naturalized citizen Yakov Smirnoff might say, "only in America."

Saturday
May012004

Worth a Look

This is a wonderful analysis of the attack on Tony Blair by 52 cucumber-eaters.



Thanks to the always-excellent Dissecting Leftism blog for the pointer.


Saturday
May012004

Wondering

The other day, Ted Koppel appeared on Sam Donaldson's radio show on the local ABC Radio affiliate to give his reasons for doing the television broadcast tonight.



Just now, Koppel concluded the broadcast by explaining the same thing. He seemed thoughtful. it seemed reasonable.



In fact, it seemed so good, I can't imagine why he didn't use that reasoning on the radio show the other day.



Unless he hadn't thought of it yet.

Saturday
May012004

More Enrons, Anyone?

To borrow a phrase from Senator McCain himself (no hard thing to do, as he appears in the news constantly, on a seemingly limitless variety of topics), I found Senator McCain's letter to the Sinclair Broadcast Group "deeply offensive."



I believe reasonable, patriotic people can differ about the degree to which the April 30 Nightline is appropriate, whether it was intended or will be perceived as a statement against the war, and/or whether the fact that it was scheduled for the first day of sweeps week instead of Memorial Day was influenced by a desire for ratings.



But the Senator doesn't appear to believe that reasonable people can disagree on this matter. He told Sinclair in his letter that "there is no valid reason" for Sinclair to "shirk its responsibility" by not broadcasting Nightline tonight.



First, the "no valid reason" comment is a gratuitous insult to everyone with concerns about the broadcast. Clearly, a lot of people believe there are valid reasons for concern. McCain dismisses them all. He doesn't bother to discuss any of the concerns; he simply declares them invalid. Coincidentally -- or not -- that's the same kind of condescending attitude for which Ted Koppel is known. It is insulting to be talked down to, regardless of who is doing it.



Second, Sinclair does not have a "responsibility" to broadcast whatever Ted Koppel wants them to broadcast. Because Sinclair believes the broadcast is unpatriotic, and our nation is at war, one can reasonably take the position that it would have been "irresponsible" for Sinclair to run it -- even if every other adult in America thought the broadcast was as American as apple pie. McCain essentially is saying that Sinclair executives have a responsibility to do something it believes is wrong.



It is an interesting world when a U.S. Senator lectures business executives for following their consciences.



(Sinclair's response to McCain is worth reading. It's on the main page of their website right now; probably temporarily.)