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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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Worth a Look

Found an interesting new blog today, Below Street Level - Subverting Youth Culture .

It has thoughtful commentary and some superb links, such as this one to a Washington Post story explaining (in very straightforward terms) what America's current stem cell policy actually is (as opposed to what some folks imply that it is.


Court Rules Journalists Are Not Above the Law

Reporters are being held in contempt of court for believing they don't have to testify under subpoena as lesser mortals do.

(Link above has a pdf copy of the U.S. District Court's court's ruling, for those who like their news in the original.)

As I asked (rhetorically) before, would a blogger be free to refuse to cooperate in a law enforcement investigation of an illegal action that he covered in his blog?

The answer, of course, is no. The same rules should apply to compensated journalists.


If You Don't Cry, You Get a Good Laugh

Captain Ed has an amazing post today about an alternative high school in California that teaches that there are 53 states in the U.S., but our flag only has 50 stars because we haven't updated it yet.

And you would not believe what it teaches about our bi-cameral legislature.


The One Secret Washington DC Has Been Able to Keep (Or Not)

Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of President Nixon's resignation.

Thirty years of official mystery: Who is "Deep Throat"?

In thirty years, "Deep Throat" never wanted to write a book, be known for his (presumably most famous) achievement, get a little attention or simply settle the issue once and for all.

Yet, according to Bob Woodward, "Deep Throat" is perfectly OK with the notion of Woodward revealing his name after he's dead. So, he obviously doesn't mind if his family and friends know.

So, why so shy? It's not like Nixon's going to try to get revenge -- or that anyone else will even care enough to try, after thirty years.

Edward Jay Epstein's take on the matter is worth serious thought.

Keep in mind one other thing: Have any other major public secrets not involving national security been kept in Washington for thirty years?


Coca-Cola Can't Win

While reading various legal blogs tonight (including Overlawyered,,, BeldarBlog, The Curmudgeonly Clerk, ProfessorBainbridge and others), I was reminded of one of the stories in The National Center's own Legal Briefs newsletter (in this particular case, Overlawyered was one of the sources):

The recipe for Coca-Cola is a closely guarded secret, and the Coca-Cola company has been pleasing customers since 1886. But that hasn't stopped a group of class action lawyers from suing the company, saying they don't like the company's recipe.

It seems that Coca-Cola uses the sweetener Aspartame in bottles marketed for home use, and uses saccharin (in part) in soda fountains. The reason, Coca-Cola says, is that Aspartame is not as stable for fountain use.

Plaintiffs in the case say they should have been warned that fountain soda contains saccharin instead of the preferred Aspartame.

Meanwhile, another group of plaintiffs is suing Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and ten other companies for using Aspartame, saying it "is a drug masquerading as an additive."
Damned if they do; damned if they don't.


Kranish-Elliott Re-Creation

The BeldarBlog has a fun fictional speculative re-creation of the telephone interview of Captain George Elliott by the Boston Globe's Michael Kranish.

If accurate, it could explain much. One quibble, though: As noted below, Kranish probably didn't call Elliott "Captain" in the interview.

Has the Boston Globe yet said if Kranish taped his Elliott interview? I can find no evidence that the Globe has answered this question (or been asked, for that matter). Yet, given the significance, high profile and controversial nature of the subject matter, it might have been done.

Anyone else know?


Speaking from the Floor of the Senate, Lt. Kerry

David of the No Caliban blog has a response to my query about whether Swift Boat veteran George Elliott is properly addressed as "Captain" (Human Events, Washington Times, his own affidavits and others) or "Lt. Commander" (Boston Globe, New York Times, others).

Assuming David's theory about the mix-up is correct, this kind of error is not a good sign about the reliability of the reporting of the Boston Globe and New York Times on the Swift Boat Veterans story. Calling a Naval Captain, retired or not, "Lt. Commander" just because he once was one (weren't they all?) is rather like calling Queen Elizabeth "Princess Elizabeth" just because she used to be a princess.

Will they next refer to John Kerry, properly addressed as "Senator John Kerry," "Lt. Kerry," because that once was accurate? I doubt it.


The Atheist Sloth Ethic

Professor Bainbridge has another fun post, a discussion of and link to an essay by historian Niall Ferguson exploring why it might be that Europeans work much less than do Americans.


Freedom's Truth: Liberating Iraq

I've just added the Freedom's Truth: Liberating Iraq blog to my blogroll. It has very comprehensive Iraq coverage -- it is the Instapundit of Iraq-oriented blogs.

Note also that Freedom's Truth has a fascinating blogroll in several categories: Iraqi blogs, soldier blogs, websites supporting Iraqis and our troops, Arab/Middle East blogs, anti-coalition blogs, links to key Iraqi and coalition websites and a lot more. One could spend a lot of interesting time just investigating his blogroll.


Nice News

The blog has a nice post up today listing easy ways to tell a soldier, sailor or Marine you appreciate their work and hardships in defense of our freedom and safety.


Swift Boat Vet Elliott: Captain or Lt. Commander?

I've read more articles about the Kranish-Elliott you-said-it-no-I-didn't debate since my my post about this a few minutes ago and have noticed that some, such as The Washington Times, give swift boat veteran George Elliott's rank as "Captain."

Checking, I see that Elliott, in his recent, much-discussed affidavits, refers to his own rank as "Captain."

I am unable to explain why the New York Times and Boston Globe refer to Elliott as "Lt. Commander." Surely, a checkable, absolute fact such as the man's military rank is something every journalist covering this story ought to be able to get right. Yet, somebody must be wrong here.

If Elliott's rank is Captain, I apologize to him for getting it wrong in my prior post.


New York Times Readers Deserve Full Story

The New York Times just posted online an article exploring Friday's contretemps over a swift boat veteran, Lt. Cmdr. George Elliot (USN-Ret.) a visible member of the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who says he was misquoted by the Boston Globe, and the Globe's denial of the misquotation charge.

The article notes a major funding source for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth but failed to note a rather major money issue it has vis-a-vis the Boston Globe: The New York Times Co. owns it, and thus has a vested interest in the Globe's reputation for accurate journalism.

I think New York Times readers deserve to be told about conflicts of interest of this nature.

(As a side note, I wonder why the New York Times story does not tell us if Boston Globe reporter Michael Kranish's interview of Elliott was tape-recorded. That's the second question I'd ask the Globe, right after "do you stand by your story?")


Impressive Man, Sad Story  

I added a new blog to my blogroll, The Black Informant.

Among other interesting features, it describes how the champion boxer Joe Louis, when he earned $371,000 boxing, voluntarily paid back the welfare payments his stepfather had received from the government.

Unfortunately, the story has a sad ending.


Money-Making Opportunity?

The ProfessorBainbridge blog has a fun commentary on France's new enemy: SUVs.

Seems the Paris City Council is trying to get rid of these vehicles.

I think I'll buy stock in some firms that make SUVs...


Cows, But No Fish

Radley Balko has a solid piece explaining his take on "the tragedy of the commons." Money quote:

The best example of the tragedy of commons occurs in the oceans. Why is it that we regularly hear about how we're running out of various species of fish, but we're always well stocked with beef, pork and poultry? The difference is that the latter are raised on dry land, where there are clear, discernible property rights.
Robert Kennedy, Jr. -- among others -- should read it.


Robert Kennedy on History

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is not only not a serious environmentalist, as I noted below, nor a free-marketeer, as Jonathan Adler has just demonstrated on The Commons Blog, but he's not much of a historian, either.

Note this Kennedy paragraph in Grist magazine:

When Roman law broke down in Europe during the Dark Ages, a lot of the feudal kings began reasserting control over the public-trust resources. For example, in England, King John began selling monopolies to the fisheries and he said the deer belonged to nobility. The public rose up and confronted him at the Battle of Runnymede and forced him to sign the Magna Carta, which of course was the beginning of constitutional government. In addition to having virtually all of our Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta has two other chapters on free access to fisheries in navigable waters. And those rights descended to the people in the States when we had the revolution. And virtually every state constitution says the people of the state own the waters and the fisheries, the wildlife, the air. They're not owned by the governor, the legislature, the corporations. Nobody has a right to use them in a way that will diminish or injure their use and enjoyment by others.
There's too much to address here for just a blog entry, but a few points:

1) King John was one in a long line of Norman/English/British Kings who believed that the nobility had the right to control hunting rights in "public" forests. William the Conquerer, King John's grandmother's grandfather, was a big believer in exercising the sovereign's "right" to control the land, and the practice did not end with the signing of the Magna Carta (although that document does address the matter).

2) The Magna Carta does not "hav[e] virtually all of our Bill of Rights." It was mostly about preserving the prerogatives of a small number of families against the power of the monarch.

3) Note Kennedy's line "those rights descended to the people in the States when we had the revolution." The the governmental philosophy of the United States is that rights descend to the public (actually, all individuals) from our Creator, not from some dude or dudette in London ("...all men are created equal... endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights").

4) Kennedy's timeline ("those rights descended to the people in the States when we had the revolution") is baffling. The Revolution ended the authority of any British monarch and his/her governments over the American (ex)colonies. It was not a lobbying effort aimed at convincing King John's heirs to grant Americans a few more "rights."


Overlawyered Finds Another Doozy

Overlawyered's Walter Olson has found another doozy for his frivolous lawsuit files: Leona Helmsley is suing Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx for $150 million because the "view" from the family mausoleum has changed -- for the worse, she says.

I say, if anyone in the mausoleum can actually see, let them out.


Robert Kennedy on Environment

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has been known to make exaggerated claims -- utterly ridiculous, completely laughable statements -- about environmental issues.

This quote from him may explain why:

I have so much mercury in my body right now, having tested it recently, that if I were a woman of childbearing years, my child, according to Dr. David Carpenter, the national authority on mercury contamination, would have cognitive impairment -- permanent IQ loss.

In the same interview, from Grist magazine, the following exchange occurs:
Grist: So if you were to tell our readers the single most important environmental action they should take, what would it be?

Kennedy: If your choice is to buy a Prius or go work for a politician who is going to implement the CAFE standards, you better work for the politician. The most important thing you can do is participate in the political process. Support the environmental groups that wage legal action and lobby for these bills. Get rid of the politicians who are whoring for industry. It's more important than recycling. It's more important than anything you can do.
So rather than drive a small, fuel-efficient car, Kennedy advises, it is better for you to vote for a politician who will force you to drive a small, fuel-efficient car.

Why not eliminate the middleman?

That is, if you want to take your life in your hands. In 2002, the U.S. government's National Academy of Sciences released a report (Effectiveness and Impact of CAFE Standards 2002) saying that since CAFE standards were imposed in 1975, an additional 2,000 deaths per year can be attributed to the down-sizing of cars required to meet these fuel efficiency standards.

The National Center has a webpage devoted to fuel economy standards, our Fuel Economy Information Center. Stop by and take our quick poll: Should CAFE standards be raised, lowered or left where they are?


Bad Day

I've had bad days in my life, but I've never had my pants explode.


NAACP: Living Off Its Past

I recommend an essay by Ward Connerly on the NAACP on National Review Online Monday. A brief excerpt:

Historically, the NAACP has represented black people who were confronted with the worst kind of racial oppression imaginable: prohibited from eating at public lunch counters, forced to sit at the back of public buses, denied the right to vote, and denied access to public schools. In all of these instances, the NAACP has been the champion of those who have been without defenders. Clearly, all of us owe this organization a debt of gratitude.

In the fullness of time, however, it is not unusual for organizations to find themselves living off their past and not keeping pace with changing times. Instead, they become stagnant and atrophy fighting old battles that no longer apply, never realizing when they have achieved what they set out to accomplish. Preservation of the organization becomes more important than the original mission.

I fear that this describes the NAACP.
There's lot's more.