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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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Republicans Have Better Sex Lives

I don't have a clue what to make of this.


Iraq: More than WMD

Enviropundit reviews the joint resolution to authorize the use of United States armed forces against Iraq with an eye to determining, with 20-20 hindsight, if the justifications hold up.


New Junior Blogger

Samantha of Uncle Sam's Cabin and Jeremy of Parableman had a




Smoking in Restaurants

Peggy at What If? has some thoughts I agree with about government bans on smoking in restaurants.


Michael Kinsley: We Hold This Dirt to Be Self-Evident

Michael Kinsley thinks the Bush campaign is so artful it could even turn signing the Declaration of independence into a political minus:

President Bush: "My opponent, you see, wrote -- or he helped to write -- this document, this so-called Declaration of Independence. And in it, see, he says something about how we hold these truths to be self-evident. Now, self-evident is just a fancy word -- or actually it's two words: Of course I know that! I can count! -- it's just a fancy way of saying you don't have to say anything because folks already know it.

"In other words, he's saying that you don't have to tell the truth. Well, I just happen to disagree with that. I think the truth is one of the most important things in our great country. The truth is American. And it's good. It's good to tell the truth. But my opponent disagrees with that. He thinks you don't need to tell the truth. And I happen to think that's wrong. It's a difference in philosophy, you see."

Newspaper Headline: "Kerry Opposes Truth, Bush Charges; Opponent Responds, 'Issue Is Complex' "...
There's more. Bush supporters won't agree with Kinsley's main point, but there is a lot of delicious satire in this op-ed.


Gin Raisins for Arthritis


Bill O'Reilly's Sexual Harrassment Case

Beldar, a trial lawyer, has an interesting post up today about sexual harassment litigation generally and O'Reilly v. Makris (and Makris v. O'Reilly) specifically. See also an earlier Beldar post on the strategies being employed by the litigants in this case.

As long as you are over there, I recommend also this post about people to whom we Americans owe a debt of gratitude.


Debate Parody

David Brooks has a rather funny parody of the debates in his New York Times column today.


Why We Fight

Courtest of Bill's Comments, I just visited Allah Ain't In The House.

Grim, but (as Bill noted), a necessary function.


Voter Intimidation

Various talk radio hosts have spent a lot of time today talking about claims by some interest groups that the 2004 election will be stolen by one side or another.

Project 21 was on this story a month ago.


Paying for Social Security Partial Privatization

During last night's debate, President Bush was asked how the federal government would find the funds to pay current retirees' Social Security benefits if younger workers were to be permitted to privately invest some of the funds they presently pay in Social Security taxes.

The New York Times has asked the same question. I have taken a stab at answering it:

The New York Times complains that President Bush did not explain how he would pay for partial privatization. Perhaps not for the first time, it is thinking backwards. Partial privatization is designed to reduce the draw on the federal treasury, not to expand it.

Workers today are contributing more money than Social Security needs. The excess tax funds are spent on other things, such as National Public Radio, U.N. dues, the National Endowment for the Arts and other federal expenses that the New York Times supports, but conservatives often do not.

Enacting partial privatization now would reduce the amount of dollars available for discretionary programs the New York Times likes, but workers could pay less Social Security taxes now without current retirees losing a penny in benefits.

What if today's workers continued to be taxed the same 12.4 percent, but the excess amount, or some similar sum (such as 3 percent of payroll), was conservatively invested for the worker's own use after retirement? The answer: Even without benefit cuts, workers wouldn't need so much money from Social Security.

Maybe Social Security, which many people now believe is destined for bankruptcy, needn't be insolvent after all.


Women and Equal Pay

During last night's debate, it was alleged that women in the U.S. are not receiving equal pay for equal work.

This helps set the record straight:

The left-wing has complained about so-called 'pay equity' for years. As the U.S. Senate's Republican Policy Committee has pointed out, however: 'The average wage gap between men and women is 26 cents (and falling). But this figure does not account for factors unrelated to sex discrimination that affect income: age, education, occupation, number of years in the workforce, and experience. Controlling for these factors shows women are actually paid 98 cents for every dollar earned by a man. The remaining 2-cent adjusted wage gap could be caused by sex discrimination, but it could also be caused by measuring errors, unaccounted for differences between men and women, or a combination of these factors. The 2-cent adjusted wage gap could also be more than made up for by the non-monetary benefits of female-dominated jobs, including better supervisors, fewer risks, easier commutes, and more flexible hours. Former Congressional Budget Office Director June O'Neill writes, 'When earnings comparisons are restricted to men and women more similar in their experience and life situations, the measured earnings differentials are typically quite small.''"


Patti Davis on Stem Cells

Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan's daughter, writing in Newsweek:

"I wonder if President Bush could look into the eyes of Christopher Reeve's family and tell them that it's because he values life so deeply that he is preserving clusters of cells in freezers -- cells that resulted from in-vitro fertilization and could be used for embryonic stem cell treatment -- despite the fact that more people will die as a result of his decision."
If Patti Davis can prove that statement, she should stop wasting her time writing for Newsweek and put her talents to work as a research scientist. She also should stop waiting around for federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and show her proof to private financing sources, who, business being business, will gladly fund a sure thing.

The fact is that no one knows if federal funding for additional embryonic stem cell research will ever save even one life.

An additional fact is that embryonic stem cell research beyond the stem cell lines eligible for federal funding is not illegal in the U.S. Davis apparently wants Newsweek readers to believe Bush has made it so. He couldn't even if he wanted to -- he doesn't have the authority.

Davis concludes:

"...never let anyone call our hopes 'false.""
Maybe not her hopes. But her writing sure is.


American Digest and the Bleat

American Digest says readers of James Lileks's The Bleat don't sufficiently appreciate the fullness of that website.


Clinton Scandals Continue

The Clinton-era scandals continue.

Hat tip to Michelle Malkin, who has more related links.


Battleground Poll Results Perplexing

In the newest Bush v. Kerry Battleground Poll, which no doubt will receive much publicity today, I noticed something odd that won't be in many headlines.

Likely voters polled said Kerry would do better at "creating jobs," but said Bush would do better at "keeping America prosperous."

Maybe Battleground respondents were thinking of non-prosperous jobs and/or a prosperous economy without new jobs...?

Sometimes poll results make no sense at all.


U.S.-Canadian Relations: Non-Supportive Without Being Helpful

Since I have written about Canada this week, I'll stick with a theme and recommend a piece on the subject of U.S.-Canadian relations by the incomparable Mark Steyn.

Money quote:

...the two nations of North America are on diverging paths. Take, for example, missile defense. This is an American issue tailor-made for Canadian politics in that it requires absolutely nothing from Canada. It's going to happen anyway, it's got the support of both parties south of the border, and because by "national defense" Americans generally mean "continental defense" we'll get the benefits of it - as we do from the U.S. nuclear deterrent - without putting up a dime. In that sense, it's almost a textbook definition of U.S.-Canadian "cooperation": we get to be supportive without being helpful. Indeed, we don't even have to be supportive. We just have to refrain from being non-supportive. And in return some of that great gushing torrent of Pentagon gravy will come the way of Canadian defense contractors.

But sorry, even that's too much to ask...


NCPPR Director Shot

From the lucky guy himself, David W. Almasi:

In what seems like an annual event, the medical community is not prepared for flu season. This year, because of potential contamination of the vaccines, the number of available shots is currently half of what is expected to be needed.

I was lucky. I went out to the grocery store on Saturday, before the news broke, where I was one of about ten people waiting for shots and the probably the only one under 60. At the time, the nurse administering the shots praised me for being wise beyond my years.

Now, these same people and government officials are asking people my age to willingly forgo being prepared. With the dearth of doses, they are calling for voluntary rationing. Clinics are being cancelled and the ones that aren't closed have people lining up long before they open the doors.

If the American people are acting this way about flu shots, what does this say for the way they will react if our health care system is further liberalized and involuntary rationing of more important procedures are the norm?
The always thought-provoking Galen's Log examines the question: Is the shortage in flu vaccine supply a market or government failure?


Russia's Economic Liberalization Faces a Bear in the Woods

National Center executive director David W. Almasi reports on his experiences at the U.S.-Russian Investment Symposium:

In the 1984 presidential race, Ronald Reagan's campaign wasn't afraid to talk about the bear in the woods. At the time, the bear represented the Soviet Union's strategic threat to world freedom. In the famous commercial, it was noted that not everyone wanted to acknowledge the problem of the bear and asked voters if they felt America should be strong enough to counter its threat. Overwhelmingly, Americans supported Reagan and his policies led to the demise of the Soviet Union.

A relative of the old bear seems to be back. Despite years of reform, the rule of law in Russia is in decline. Elections are suspect, if allowed at all. Restrictions have been placed on the press. There is a climate of fear with regard to the government, and allegations of corruption are rampant.

At the U.S.-Russian Investment Symposium held this week in Washington, everything seemed nice and sunny. Business, government and policy leaders were all smiles. Despite the decline in the rule of law in Russia, this new bear went largely ignored.

During a question-and-answer session, I asked the Russian minister of information technologies and communication, Leonid Reiman, this question:
Despite the best efforts of the business community, the continuing decline of the rule of law in Russia serves to discourage foreign investment. What would you say to those interested in investing in the telecom sector in Russia who are worried about allegations of government corruption and the systematic erosion of the rule of law?
The room became tense. Reiman smiled and tried to laugh it off. He acknowledged the bear of corruption exists but said it is becoming less and less of a problem. The solution? Clear-cutting the forest. He says new moves towards transparency in government will make corruption harder to hide.

Transparency in a country where the broadcast media is controlled by the state and the other media is looking over its shoulders?

My concerns seemed to be shared by speaker Philip Merrill, the chairman and CEO of the Export Import Bank of the United States. In a panel held earlier, he recognized the bear as an impediment to investment. Merrill says the problem is getting worse. To paraphrase him: In Russia's recent past, liberalization of the economy and progress toward dull democraticization could be described as two steps forward and one step back. Today, it is one step forward and two back.


If There Is a Bear

Via Stop the Bleating!, which credits The Volokh Conspiracy: A website featuring old political TV ads.

It has my #1 all-time favorite political commercial, the Reagan-Bush 1984 "Bear in the Woods." (Go to the website's 1984 GOP section and click on the picture of the bear.) The same section also has the classic "Morning in America" commercial (click on the newspaper carrier on a bicycle photo) and another Reagan-Bush '84 classic, "Train." That one still sends chills down my spine.

The 1988 section has one showing former President George H.W. Bush with his grandchildren. Children then; but we are seeing many of them all grown up on the campaign trail now.

So you don't have to ask, they do have the infamous 1964 LBJ "Daisy" commercial.

A note to those who don't like 9-11 footage in their political commericals: Eisenhower's 1952 "The Man from Abilene" makes plenty of use of WWI footage. But if you go to the Ike '52 section, don't watch the commercial labeled "Ike for President" unless you are willing to have his jingle in your head all night...