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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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Yet, President Bush Wants This for Political Reasons...?

"When the complex Senate drug benefit was described to seniors who have drug coverage to ask if it would be better than the coverage they have now, 74% of seniors said no and only 16% said it would be better."

Grace-Marie Turner, Galen Institute, 6/29/03


Bill O'Reilly: If Bush Deserves to Be Treated Fairly Vis-a-Vis Iraq, He Deserves to Be Treated Fairly on Global Warming

Bill O'Reilly was right (July 7 FNC O'Reilly Factor) when he emphatically said opinion columns should contain documentation for inflammatory accusations (his example was an International Herald-Tribune column calling President Bush a liar).

I believe he's right, but I wish he had applied this standard to his own "Talking Points Memo" of June 19, when he made the infammatory (and false) claim that President Bush is "censoring" federal government global warming studies.

See here and here for more of my thoughts on this particular point, and here for some of Bonner Cohen's.


An E-Mail from Iraq

One of the many admirable individuals associated with the African-American leadership group Project 21 (which we sponsor) sent this e-mail from Iraq to our David Almasi on Independence Day. Clearly, morale among American troops in Iraq is not universally low.

"Thank you for all your well wishes during this war. Your emails mean more

to me than I could possibly express. This 4th of July is very significant

for me, because of all that I have seen over the past 6 months. It is

incredible to me how little some Americans know about the freedoms which

they enjoy. That good people fought and died for such freedoms, and all of

the liberties that we take forgranted back home. Many question this war,

but the fact is America was founded out of taking a stand for what we

believe in. At home and abroad.

WE were attacked on Sept. 11th. The freedom which we enjoy was challanged.

We are meeting that challenge today, and will continue to do so for quite

some time. But the end result will be a preservation of that which we hold

so dear.

As I sit here in the desert, enduring a sand storm, on the 4th of July. I

do miss my family, friends, and all the celebrations, but I am where I am

supposed to be right now. I am here for everyone back home. I fought the

war in Iraq for everyone back home, and for those reasons, I will stay for

as long as it takes.

Thank you and others like you, who are fighting the 'good fight' at home.

Great Americans!

God Bless America

[Name Withheld],

Major, US Army"



Interesting tidbit in an e-mail received today by our V.P., David Ridenour, from "J.S." in South Africa:

"Zimbabwe must be one of the few places in the world where the largest note - Z$500 - can't buy you a beer, which costs Z$650. But if that's not bad enough, then consider that a roll of single-ply toilet paper costs Z$1000. There are about 72 sections on the average roll, so it is cheaper to take your Z$1000, change it into Z$10 notes, wipe with 72 of your notes, and keep the other $280 as change.

Financial Mail, 13 June 2003 issue, page 82"


White Like Us

Thanks to the National Center for Policy Analysis for noting this fact in a July 7 Minnesota Star-Tribune story by Kevin Diaz: Although blacks and Hispanics make up 26 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 3.5 percent of staffers on Capitol Hill.

We wonder what the percentage is at some other places... say, Justice O'Connor's staff.


What's at Stake With Medicare

If you want to know what's at stake during the debate over Medicare this summer -- what's at stake, that is, for everybody, not exclusively Medicare recipients -- Bob Bartley's July 7 column in the Wall Street Journal is a good place to start.

A preview: To sum up the Senate version of the Medicare bill, think France.


Number of Tax-Subsidized Enviro Groups Doubled in 1990s -- to 4,000

There is a worthy letter to the editor by Paul Taylor in today's Wall Street Journal. A brief excerpt:

" a percent of GDP we spend as much on environmental protections as we spend on national defense and homeland security combined. Taxpayer-subsidized green non-profit groups grew from 2,000 to 4,000 during the 1990s. These eco-non-profits have become skilled at gaming the regulatory system for political advantage in the guise of politically correct progressive public service."


Greg Kelly Online

We ran across an unofficial fan site for Fox's "awesome" Greg Kelly while clinking links on various blogs. Apparently he's not the only Fox war correspondent to raise heart rates. Check out this site for the "capitivating" Jennifer Eccleston and this one for the Rick Leventhal, who "brings you the news with style." There probably are others.

There's a rather nice story in Newsday about what it was like for embedded journalists from various TV networks when they returned home after the war. It has less superlatives than the fan sites, though.


Jesse Jackson: Secretly Shy?

In this July 5 Orlando Sentinel story by Sandra Pedicini, one of Jesse Jackson's groups, Rainbow Sports, says it can't sponsor black race car driver Herbie Bagewell, Jr. or another black NASCAR driver because it "does not sponsor athletes."

Why not? Aside from possible embarassment to the driver, what's wrong with a car from going around the track with "Rainbow/PUSH" painted on it? Rainbow/PUSH took $250,000 in gifts from NASCAR and nothing about Jesse Jackson's career so far suggests that he is shy about advertising.

Still, Charles Farrell of Rainbow Sports told the Sentinel the group "could try to find Bagwell a sponsor." We hope Farrell meant it. Maybe Jackson does intend to leverage the quarter-million into substantial sponsorships -- say, more than a quarter-million worth -- for black race car drivers. If he does, we'd applaud his action. We'll stay tuned.


Washington Times on Jesse Jackson

Greg Pierce of the Washington Times was kind enough to mention Project 21's recent exhortation to Jesse Jackson in his July 4 column:

    The black leadership network Project 21 is pressuring the Rev. Jesse Jackson to support a promising black race-car driver who lacks the financial sponsorship needed to advance in the sport.

    Mr. Jackson has complained publicly that black drivers have been excluded from NASCAR. In 1999, according to the National Legal and Policy Center, Mr. Jackson told a conference attended by NASCAR's chief executive officer, "The fact of the matter is there is frustration because of exclusion. We were qualified to play baseball before 1947. We are qualified to race cars now."

    Since then, Mr. Jackson's organizations have received a reported $250,000 from NASCAR.

    On June 24, a board member of Mr. Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition renewed the attack on NASCAR, publicly charging that auto racing remains "the last bastion of white supremacy" in professional sports.

    Project 21, in a prepared statement released yesterday, urged Mr. Jackson to take the money given to his operations by NASCAR and use it to directly support an up-and-coming black driver.

    "As a devoted fan of NASCAR, I am troubled by Jesse Jackson's latest exploits," says Project 21 member Reginald Jones. "I never once have paused to consider the racial makeup of the drivers or other fans. Like white fans of the NBA, racial proportions are irrelevant to me.

    "NASCAR is a juicy target because of its Southern heritage and vast financial resources. Fans should be outraged by NASCAR's cowardice in the face of Jackson's latest hustle. People like me who have supported the sport do not appreciate our money going to him."


The Car They Don't Want Us to Drive

More fan mail about a piece by Eric Peters and me on SUVs and those who hate them called "The Car They Want You to Drive:"

"If you people are the product of American universities it is a sad testament to the rock-bottom quality of that education."
Gotta love all the reasons he gave us to change our opinions.


Jesse Jackson: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is just published a short story about Project 21's press release of earlier today.

Jesse Jackson Urged to Sponsor Black Race Car Driver

( - A conservative African-American leadership network says Jesse Jackson should put his money where his mouth is -- by sponsoring a promising black race-car driver. Project 21 notes that Jackson has publicly complained about black drivers being excluded from NASCAR. Given this continuing dissatisfaction, Project 21 said Jackson should use some of the money NASCAR has given him "and use it to directly support an up-and-coming black driver -- a driver, for example, such as Herbie Bagwell, Jr." As reported earlier, on June 24, a board member of Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition renewed the attack on NASCAR, publicly charging that auto racing remains "the last bastion of white supremacy" in professional sports. According to Project 21, Bagwell - a racer since 1988 - recently was offered a race team for the upcoming Busch North Series after posting good testing times at the New Hampshire International Speedway. The $250,000 that NASCAR reportedly gave Jackson could be used to finance a driver like Bagwell throughout the six-race series, Project 21 said in a press release.


Volunteering for Dollars

In Al Hunt's Wall Street Journal column today, he complains about inadequate federal funding for AmericCorps volunteers.

If they need funding, why are they called "volunteers"?


Civility, Schmility

"If anyone disagrees with you or has a different point of view, you demonize them and label them as extremists." - Marty Hayden, legislative director of Earthjustice, complaining about press releases issued by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) that criticize groups on the environmental left, Sacramento Bee, Sunday, June 29, 2003.

"The Bush administration has adopted a 'no tree left behind' policy when it comes to our national forests. Under the Bush administration, the timber industry is calling all the shots; leaving fish, wildlife and the American public out in the cold." - Marty Hayden to's Jeff Johnson while participating in a "21 Chainsaw Salute" protest demonstration outside the U.S. Forest Service Headquarters in Washington, July 3.


Make Way for Ducklings

"The one woman will throw herself into traffic to save baby ducks, but promotes human abortions as a career."

-Our executive director, David Almasi, commenting on a June 28 Washington Post story about the communications director of the National Abortion Federation, who "threw herself in front of a Metro bus" to protect wandering baby ducks.


Choosing to Chew - Why Do Advocates of Choice Draw the Line at Tobacco?

Annette Niebelski has an interesting point on the Capital Research Center website today:

Anti-smoking advocates don't want you to compare the health risks of smoking and using smokeless tobacco because they oppose all tobacco use. They tout a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, which shows smokeless tobacco leads to oral cancer rates higher than non-use. But they fail to point out that smokers who switch to smokeless tobacco reduce their risk of developing oral cancer by 50 percent. Also, it seems counter- intuitive for activists to campaign aggressively against second-hand smoke yet oppose smokeless tobacco.

Abstinence-only activists worry that if tobacco companies are allowed to show tobacco users how to minimize their health risks, the companies will entice new users. This is the impetus behind their campaigns attacking any kind of tobacco advertising.

But why should abstinence from tobacco be the only answer? The answer is that the activists are really arguing over morality. Many liberals tolerate promiscuity and drug use, but not tobacco. Most conservatives have strict moral objections to promiscuity and drug use, but don't think using tobacco is a sin. Both sides construct abstinence programs to reflect their moral opinions. An alternative like smokeless tobacco only seems incomprehensible if you are morally opposed to tobacco use.



Not everyone agrees with my rosy picture of Senator Hatch's work on a solution to the asbestos crisis. "D.C." e-mailed me to write, in part: "Please read today's WSJ editorial: Senator Hatch's long-awaited 'reform' makes things worse. This contrived issue of asbestos liability is a national embarrassment concocted by the trial lawyers and the Democrats to bleed successful people of their hard-earned money. In fact, everyone in their criminal conspiracy should be sued by people injured or burned by fires and explosions that would have been prevented had asbestos been in more common use."


Sue Me Before I Speak Again

The June 30 Wall Street Journal editorial page reports that after a group of tort reform advocates held a press conference recently, the speakers were immediately subpoenaed by a firm of trial lawyers.

The press conference was about class action abuses. The law firm has filed a class-action suit against Ford Motor Company. It apparently believes the topic of the press conference applies to its case.


The Last Bastion of White Supremacy

Members of Project 21, the conservative black organization that has been sponsored by The National Center since 1992, have announced their support for the National Legal and Policy Center's call to NASCAR to cease its support for Jesse Jackson.

According to Marc Morano at, NASCAR has donated at least $250,000 to Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

In grateful thanks, Bill Shack, a board member of Rainbow/PUSH has just given a speech calling auto racing organizations such as NASCAR "the last bastion of white supremacy."

A quick Google check found that many others in recent months have publicly been dubbed "the last bastion of white supremacy," among them: the University of Virginia, Columbia University, the South African rugby team, Minnesota's Guthrie Theater, the entire United States, all of academia, the Los Angeles police officers' union and many others.

Shack's gratitude is exceeded only by his originality.


Public Access to Yosemite National Park

Bonner Cohen, who just joined the National Center as a senior fellow after leaving the Lexington Institute, has a new piece on our website discussing the National Park Service's Yosemite Plan. It seems the Park Service wants to spend $442 million making Yosemite more difficult to visit for people who have small children or don't make a lot of money.

The goal, of course, is to make this popular park less popular. To be fair, the Park Service probably has nothing against families or lower-income people, but if you make visitors tote strollers on buses and eliminate 60 percent of the campsites that are accessible by car (but leave in place the more expensive hotel housing), you are bound to end up with older, richer visitors.

We could call it the graying -- or the whiting? -- of the National Park Service. The NPR crowd will be overrepresented.