Sunday, February 29, 2004

White Men Are Americans, Too

Earlier in February, I really appreciated an item in the Everything I Know Is Wrong blog about an apparent double standard for scandals: a leftist can say or do things a rightist can't. I meant to link to it but didn't get to it.

Now that same essay has been updated to cover Rep. Corrine Brown's comments in an official government meeting about all white men look alike (and how the Bush Adninistration's position on Haiti is racist). I agree with Sean's post. Brown should resign. She clearly cannot objectively represent those Americans who were not born with her favored hue.

However, as few Congressmen actually resign from their positions because of incompetence, especially those who ought to, she won't. She probably thinks it is racist of her critics to want a color-blind government.

I do not understand, however, why Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega said he "deeply resent[s]" being "branded a white man." Maybe I have seen the quote out of context. Maybe he resents being branded at all. But if he doesn't like white men, either, he, too, should go.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:23 PM

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Greenspan's Warned Us Before on Social Security

Alan Greenspan's warnings on Social Security aren't new.

Here's part of what Greenspan said in 1996:
We owe it to those who will retire after the turn of the century to be given sufficient advance notice to make what alterations in retirement planning may be required. The longer we wait to make what are surely inevitable adjustments, the more difficult they will become. If we procrastinate too long, the adjustments could be truly wrenching. Our citizens deserve better.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:45 PM

Captain Renault's Return

A note from NCPPR executive director David Almasi:
Howard Stern is foul-mouthed and his show is intentionally titillating. I think we all understand that. The fact that Clear Channel suddenly found him to be indecent reminds me of Captain Renault in "Casablanca" (I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!). The same goes for all of the other "shock jocks" out there. They're like charted reefs at sea. You can be warned to steer clear, but you always run the risk of running into them.

While listening to the radio on the way into work Friday morning, I heard a real concern that so far seems to be flying under the radar. Tonight's "George Lopez" on ABC (a Disney-owned company) features a guest starring role by socialite/heiress/amatuer porn actress Paris Hilton as "a beautiful tutor for [George's son] Max." The clip they played in the radio commercial had Max learning algebra, with Paris's character telling him he needs to "find her X." Max responds that he felt a chill when she said that, and laughter ensues. Upon reaching the office and cracking open the paper, I saw a photo of the same scene -- and Max appears to be 10-12 years old.

"George Lopez" is marketed as a family show. It airs at 8pm. There's no doubt in my mind that Hilton got the job because she is provocative. Stern was booted from Clear Channel, by the way, for statements made while he was interviewing the man who is selling a video of himself and Hilton having sex. She is there to titillate. And her foil is a young boy. In their wisdom, Disney executives apparently didn't think it might be a good idea to delay airing this episode or pulling it entirely. Why? Lawmakers are going for the low-lying political fruit of "shock jocks."

While Congress should be appalled by what's allowed on the radio, they should be more shocked that ABC is using sex to sell their family shows. And they should be appalled that the FCC has not set a bright-line standard for what is acceptable and what is not.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:37 AM

Judicial Pass it On

Thoughts from hubby David, our VP:
Everyone remembers the childhood game "pass it on." A story is whispered in the ear of one child, who then passes it on by whisper to another child and so on. You know what happens when the child at the end of the line tells the story aloud. The resulting tale bears very little relation to the original story.

That, in a nutshell, is the problem with court decisions being based on precedents. Poor legal and constitutional judgements inevitably lead to progressively worse judgements.

That's how rights are lost and new ones created based neither in law or constitutional authority.

What a different world it might be if courts were forced to think for themselves on every single case.

Wouldn't it be nice to have judges who are actually judges instead of parrots?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:10 AM

Friday, February 27, 2004

FauxPolitik Disagrees With Me On Gay Marriage, But Did Earl Warren?

The FauxPolitik blog disagrees with my thoughts on the Constitution and gay marriage. More to the point, Enobarbus says Chief Justice Earl Warren, writing in Loving v. Virginia (the case that nixed bans on interracial marriage), disagrees with me.

I can't conclude that Warren disagrees with what I posted online. Warren argued that banning marriage between the races had no rational basis. He didn't argue that all restrictions on marriage are irrational or unconstitutional.

I suspect Warren would have been astonished at the notion that a person's gender within a marriage is an arbitrary matter. Yet he would have to have thought it arbitrary to apply his reasoning in Loving to same-sex marriage. Look at his wording in the case: "...the Equal Protection Clause requires the consideration of whether the classifications drawn by any statute constitute an arbitrary and invidious discrimination."

Also note Warren's conclusion: "Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State."

It is clear that Warren is addressing race only. His opinion cannot be read as a ban on all state regulation of marriage (if it were, we'd have a perceived Constitutional right to marry our cousins). Furthermore, it is clear he is not even thinking of same-sex marriage, or he would not have used the phrase "fundamental to our very existence and survival" to refer to the institution.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:27 AM

Asbestos Commercials: Stingy With the Truth

Had the local DC NBC affiliate news on tonight and saw a commercial about asbestos. I didn't catch who produced it, although it may be the one referred to near the end of this Washington Post article.

If only trial lawyers were as economical about their fees as this commercial is with the truth.

The commercial claims that people in the U.S. Senate are trying to tell a worker that he's not sick with an asbestos-related disorder. That's not what's going on in the Senate with asbestos at all.

Here's the truth: Some in the Senate, prominently Judiciary Committee Orrin Hatch, are trying to fashion a trust fund, to be paid for by corporations facing asbestos litigation, to which persons who are sick can apply for compensation without having to pay a lawyer.

The trial lawyers don't like this idea.

I am very critical of Senator Hatch on the "memogate" issue, but he and others laboring in near-obscurity to try to help solve the asbestos crisis deserve better than dishonest commercials. And people who truly are sick with asbestos-related illness deserve better than abusive profiteering by lawyers that has resulted in 60 percent of the awards in asbestos lawsuits going to lawyers and court costs, not to those who are truly ill and their families.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:08 AM

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Maybe the Dems Like Nazis

An observation by NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi:
At a private White House meeting, Secretary of Education Rod Paige called the National Education Association teachers' union a "terrorist organization". When word of the comment leaked out, Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe called it "the most vile and disgusting form of hate speech." An apology was proffered by the end of the day.

Over in the Senate, a memo leaked from the Judiciary Committee contains a comment made by Democratic staffers that Bush judicial nominees are "Nazis." So far, no outrage over the remark from McAuliffe (at least not toward his fellow Democrats -- he is raising money by comparing the leak to the Watergate break-in of the Nixon era). What's worse, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch appears not to be outraged.

Hatch has instead directed his outrage at his own staff for having obtained the memos in the first place. Can there any doubt as to why the President has to resort to recess appointments to get his nominees on the courts?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:29 AM

Remember the Titans, Forget Their Name

NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi is true to his school:
Where I live, northern Virginia, the local NAACP wants to rename T.C. Williams High School. People across the country may recognize the school from the movie "Remember the Titans." That movie, based on a true story, showed how kids can overcome racial stereotypes and animosity to come together as one society. It's inspiring. Too bad that T.C. Williams, the man, opposed desegregation in the 1950s when he was the school superintendent. Activists now want the school renamed.

Renaming schools because they are named after historical figures who owned slaves or supported segregationist laws is all the rage these days. I'm not T.C. Williams' biographer, but I figure they named the school after him for achievements unrelated to his segregationist views. Besides, the history of the school itself is now more important than the man ever could have hoped to be. How do you explain to someone the moral of the movie with the coda that they changed the school's name to be politically correct?

When I was growing up in Country Club Hills, Illinois, I went to Willowview Middle School. A few years later, along with building a nice new gym, they renamed it Zenon J. Sykua School after a recently-deceased superintendent. Up until now, I always thought the decision to give it such an complex name wasn't such a good idea. Not anymore.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:26 AM

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Thoughts Elsewhere on Gay Marriage

The AnalPhilosopher blog has some very interesting observations on the gay marriage debate today and some good links posted Feb. 22. Thanks to Dissecting Leftism for the pointer.

Also, Captain's Quarters has a good essay posted today under the heading "No One to Blame But Themselves." I don't agree with Captain Ed on the gay marriage issue itself, but his essay here is worth reading.

And don't miss the collection of links put together by

There are a lot more worthy essays out there. I suspect that a lot of people have been quietly thinking over the issue of gay marriage for some time, but have kept their thoughts mostly to themselves. Until they felt forced to speak.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:43 PM

Monday, February 23, 2004 Ad Dissected

H a w s p i p e blog dissects a radio ad about Iraq and George Bush by providing full context examples of Bush statements cites. He also has a list of quotes from leading liberals (Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and others) agreeing with Bush on the very matter takes issue with.

I guess we won't soon be radio any ads against Clinton, Kerry or Kennedy, though.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:19 PM Ex-GOP Lawyer Wants Judiciary Probe Focused on Democrat 'Corruption' has a useful article on the Judiciary Committee memos controversy today.

One of several parts of the story that caught my eye is this:
A June 5, 2002, memo, again to [Democrat Senator Dick] Durbin, stated: "Under pressure from Senator Hollings - who apparently is backing [Dennis] Shedd because the trial lawyers want him off the district court bench - Chairman Leahy is planning to hold a hearing in late June [2002]."
So the liberal Senators have been letting trial lawyers move judges around?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:32 PM

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Not Literally True, But Funny Nonetheless

I'm not the only one, it seems, that took exception to Andrew Sullivan calliing Washington conservatives "extremists" for our disappointment with Orrin Hatch over Judiciary Committee controversies. The Spoons Experience blog had the same reaction I did, but with a funny comment: "Orrin Hatch is less likely to bark at a Democrat than to wet himself at the sight of one."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:15 AM

Man-Woman Marriage is Not Unconstitutional

Speaking of Andrew Sullivan, he writes this (2/17): "...under almost any rational understanding of equal protection, civil marriage has to be extended to gay couples."

Ah, no. Silly (though dangerous) statement, really, and one he only gets away with because most people haven't thought about these issues and many of the ones who have thought about it have a conflict of interest.

Sullivan's statement relies on an improvable and unsound assumption, that is, that there is a class of people who are inherently separate and distinct from other people based simply on their announcement of a preference, even a temporary one, for sexual relations with a person of their own gender.

Sullivan believes the Constitution requires the law to accommodate, by requiring the rewriting of long-held laws and the abandonment of fundamental assumptions about society and morality, the notion that these individuals represent a distinct class under the law.

If Sullivan was right, which he is not, any group anywhere could announce themselves to be a distinct class under the law, simply by asserting a preference contrary to the established norm in a matter regulated, subsidized, or affected by government policies. That is, after all, essentially all the homosexual advocacy organizations have done.

Now, many of those in Sullivan's camp will tell you that I'm wrong because sexual preference (a term many abhor, but nonetheless the one that seems most accurate) is, they say, something people are born with. Setting aside the notion that this is not scientifically provable (though it is possible to prove it is not wholly true -- there are persons described as "ideological lesbians," that is, extreme feminists who have made an intellectual decision to engage in intimate relationships only with women), it would be a bad precedent to use birth characteristics as a basis for constitutional interpretation.

This is true in part because even if, perhaps especially if, sexual preference is something we are born with, other personality traits are inborn as well. If one's "sexual personality" elevates them into a protected class, why not shyness? Most people believe some people are born shy. Shy people may well suffer a financial disadvantage in a competitive capitalist economy. Should shy people be accommodated as a protected class under the law? After all, shy people probably aren't faking it. Who would chose to be born shy?

If you think this notion is ridiculous, recall that the idea that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage would have been perceived as preposterous 20 years ago. And remember that there are lawyers out there who make big money litigating on behalf of protected classes. The more protected classes there are, the more money they potentially can make.

"Shyness" might never qualify a person as a member of a protected class, but if we follow the Sullivan School of Jurisprudence, we can be certain some new classes will form, and the basis of some of them may amaze us.

One need not consider the probability of the development of new protected classes, however, to see that Sullivan is wrong that the Constitution's equal protection clause mandates that anyone can marry whomever they wish. (Sullivan would never phrase it that way, but that's what his assertion comes down to.) No one can do that.

Every American of legal age, excluding some deemed mentally incompetent to fulfill a contract, is treated the same by our marriage laws. We can only marry if we are unmarried, and if the person we wish to marry is eligible to marry. We can only marry a person if that person wants to marry us back. And, yes, we must marry someone of the opposite sex.

Equal rules. Equal protection. Anyone who wants to follow the rules of marriage can marry. Anyone who doesn't, doesn't have to.

Andrew Sullivan has the right to want to change our marriage laws. But our marriage laws, as written, are not unconstitutional.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:49 AM

Better to Be Called an Extremist Than to Actually Be a Weenie

Andrew Sullivan has a piece in his blog on Friday referring to conservative frustration with Senator Hatch over the judicial confirmation issues as "more signs of conservative extremism in Washington."

He doesn't say any more, but he links to a very superficial New Republic piece that portrays Senator Hatch as a conservative attack dog. (Pardon me, the actual quote is "crude partisan attack dog.") The evidence for this is that sometimes Hatch doesn't back down as much as the Democrats wish.

The New Republic is liberal, so it is not surprising that it would write an opinion piece reflecting only one side of the judicial nominations debate. But why would a man who calls himself a conservative think it is extremist for Washington conservatives to expect the Senate to investigate allegations of wrongdoing among Democrat Senators as assiduously as it investigates allegations of wrongdoing among Republican staff members?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:13 AM

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Are the Children Alive Somewhere?

The New York Times has a ridiculous editorial on Bill Pryor today.

It is not even high school level material.

For example, anyone want to bet that the Times' complaint in the piece that Pryor "argued in favor of a Texas law that made gay sex illegal" isn't correct? Pryor probably argued that the Texas law was constitutional, which is a great deal different than arguing in favor of the law. (It also would be consistent with what the U.S. Supreme Court itself said in 1986, aka, that such state laws are constitutional.)

I haven't checked the record to confirm my suspicions, but few people in Alabama (Pryor's state) do much arguing on behalf of, or against, state laws within Texas, or any other state in which they do not reside. But the constitutionality of that particular Texas law has been debated nationally, and it is likely Pryor would have been asked about the constitutional issue involved as part of the broken judicial confirmation process.

Pity the poor Times editorialists, apparently so ignorant of basic civics.

The Times also described federalism as "a states' rights philosophy that seeks to undercut federal rights." "Federal rights," indeed. (Probably another of those emanations arising from penumbras that have been in the Constitution since 1789 but lurking invisibly until the valiant Times editorial writers ferreted it out.)

If the feds have "rights," from whence do they come? Divine right?

(As an aside, I suppose the Times thinks the Bill of Rights was adopted to protect federal power. All but the First Amendment, of course, which the Times probably thinks was adopted to give journalists carte blanche while protecting Americans from the evils of organized religion.)

The Times then complains that Pryor once said Roe v. Wade, "the landmark ruling upholding abortion rights," had "ripped the Constitution and ripped out the life of millions of unborn children." The Times does not say what is inaccurate about Pryor's comment. Roe v. Wade dramatically altered the Constitution, at least, the way it is interpreted (as yet, the words "privacy right" do not appear in any versions of the Constitution I've seen, but narrow-minded as I am, I've been sticking to the printed version -- perhaps the Times has scribbed the term onto its own copy). Presumably, the term "ripped" was meant to be figurative.

As to the rest of it, does the New York Times actually contest the assertion that millions of children have lost their lives because of Roe v. Wade?

Are the children alive somewhere?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:35 AM

Black Conservatives Decry Discrimination... Against Catholics

Project 21 is applauding the recess appointment of Bill Pryor. Part of the group's press release:
After a vote on his nomination was blocked by obstructionists in the U.S. Senate for over ten months, President George W. Bush today installed Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor as a judge on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals through a recess appointment. While members of the African-American leadership network Project 21 regret the President was forced to resort to extraordinary measures to seat Pryor, it is hoped that the move will invigorate the debate over the constitutionality and collegiality of the liberal obstruction of Bush's appeals court nominees.

"I applaud the President's recess appointment of William Pryor and his commitment to appoint constructionist jurists to the courts," said Project 21 member Mychal Massie. "However, I believe a more unambiguous indication of his resolve would be for him to show the same tenacity for those still-languishing judicial nominees that was shown in his relentless determination in passing of the Medicare/prescription drug bill last year."

A president has the power to install nominees when the Senate is not in session, bypassing the need for Senate confirmation and the anti-religious bias shown toward him by some senators. The appointment is only temporary. A recess appointee only serves through the remainder of the congressional term. In the case of Pryor, he will need to be reappointed next January.

Last November, Project 21 released a New Visions Commentary by Matthew Craig about the obstruction of the Pryor nomination. Craig noted: "As Alabama's chief law enforcement official, Pryor has vehemently fought discrimination... Ironically, Pryor himself is now a victim of discrimination. Instead of bias against his skin color or ethnicity, liberal U.S. senators are trying to deny Pryor a federal appeals court appointment largely due to his strong Catholic beliefs."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:40 AM

Friday, February 20, 2004

Good for Goose, Good for Gander

National Center executive director David W. Almasi has some advice for Texas Republicans:
There is political turmoil in Texas over charges made by a left-wing organization that the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives and a political group linked to federal House Majority Leader Tom DeLay may have illegally disbursed campaign donations (for the record, the charges have been denied). Some of the discussion thus far is based on internal memos obtained by the Dallas Morning News.

Texas Republicans should express their extreme shock and dismay about the leak of the group's internal memos. The Texas Rangers should be called in to conduct the most thorough investigation possible to find out who leaked to memos. All state legislative affairs should stop until the leaker is identified and pilloried. They should demand that the employees of the Dallas Morning News who obtained the memos resign and face possible criminal charges. As for the money-laundering issue, they might address that down the line.

Sound silly? Yes, but that's exactly what's happening in the U.S. Senate regarding the leak of memos within the Senate Judiciary Committee. The head of the NAACP's legal arm resigned under a cloud of ethics charges that she colluded with liberal Senate staff to manipulate the nominations process to benefit one of her cases. Another allegation has surfaced that liberal actions on the Senate Judiciary Committee may have been dictated by the promise of campaign contributions. Yet liberal senators have spun the issue into an investigation of the leaks and not the substance of the memos, and Republican Senators seem to think that is just dandy.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:40 PM

Medicare Reform Backfires on Bush

This is what happens when legislation is sought for political rather than policy reasons.

Yes, I know it is easy for me to say that, since I work for a think-tank and no one here ever has to face the voters. But if the White House and the Congressional GOP leadership had tried to sell the genuine conservative Medicare reform package -- the one that offers senior citizens health care coverage similar to that enjoyed by Members of Congress -- I bet it would have been very popular. But they didn't try.

Fortunately, the White House is not trying to fight the war on terrorism this way.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:39 PM

Thursday, February 19, 2004


Thanks to a pointer from the "Everything I Know Is Wrong" blog, I visited the Captain's Quarters. I don't usually comment on such things, or even notice them particularly (as readers may have concluded from my own rather minimalist blog design), but that's the most gorgeous blog I have ever seen.

The articles are thought-provoking, too.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:49 PM

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

GOP Senators Circle Wagons Round Hatch

The Hill newspaper's take on a meeting last Thursday between conservatives and a handful of Republican Senators on the judicial nominations/leaked memos issue.

David Almasi, who is quoted in the article, attended for us (the American Criminal Justice Center referenced as his employer is the name of one of our projects), as did Mychal Massie of Project 21.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:00 PM

Ignore Greenpeace on Homeland Security

Our Bonner Cohen has a thoughtful piece on Tech Central Station on a proposal Greenpeace is pushing that Bonner believes is dangerous.

Greenpeace wants trucks and freight trains carrying chemicals banned from Washington, D.C., and is pushing the D.C. city council to enact a ban. Bonner says:
...rerouting freight trains with tank cars away from Washington is a bad idea.  It would force them to travel a greater distance and actually increase the statistical possibility of an accidental chemical release.  The risk of a chemical release, whether by accident or as a result of a terrorist attack, would simply shift from one community to another.
Bonner also notes that some harzardous chemicals, such as those that purify drinking water or the chlorine-based antibiotic Cipro, are "critical assets in the war on terrorism." As Bonner put it:
No one knows when or if there will be another anthrax incident in Washington or elsewhere. What we do know, however, is that adequate supplies of Cipro need to be on hand just in case. And you can't send Cipro over the Internet.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:33 AM

Monday, February 16, 2004

Watergate Redux?

Ted Kennedy, one of the Democrats involved, has tried to paint the Judiciary Committee memo situation as another Watergate break-in.

In Watergate, it wasn't the break-in that did in Nixon. It was the cover-up. And Kennedy's attack on those who read the memos is an effort to divert attention from their contents.

A cover-up.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:00 AM

Sunday, February 15, 2004

ABC Teams with Greenpeace to Give Terrorists Ideas

I's watching the local Washington D.C .news on the ABC affiliate. They are pointing out -- literally, with a guy standing in a spot where he could do a certain thing we hope no one will do -- ways terrorists could cause a chemical attack in Washington D.C.

How could it possibly be necessary to put this information on television? It's possible to report the opinion that a system has vulnerablities without describing the weakness in such detail a high school student could follow the instructions.

Fortunately, the station didn't post this information on its website. (I doubt I would have written this blog entry if they had.)

And, by the way, ABC says they got this information from Greenpeace. Thanks for nothing, guys.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:21 PM

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Memogate Update

Interesting feature story on Manuel Miranda and Memogate.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:14 AM

The Tiger Woods of NASCAR

The Daytona 500 kicks off this weekend, and to commemorate the occaision, our David Almasi takes a realistic look at Rainbow/PUSH's charge that NASCAR is "the last bastion of white supremacy."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:10 AM

Friday, February 13, 2004

Headline of Future?: Activist Judge Rules the Invisible Hand Unconstitutional

I have the re-run of the Brit Hume report on Fox News running now. Senator Patrick Leahy is on, referring to us as "far right" and calling us liars.

Well, Senator, all I can say is if someone were to read our computer files, they wouldn't find any evidence of wrongdoing. Too bad we all can't say that.

I'd write more but I'm busy rebutting some other liberal silliness this evening. Specifically, the allegation made by the Center for American Progress, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi (as well as others who apparently miss the horse-and buggy days) that George Bush is personally responsible (and gleeful about) the fact that economic progress means some jobs move, and some become obsolete.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:30 AM

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Biased, Yet Objective

The Senate Sergeant-at-Arms investigating Judiciary memos says there is "no doubt" Republicans acted improperly, and also that he's not taking sides.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:55 AM

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

The Salt Lake Tribune: Ex-Staffer Scolds Hatch Over Stand on Leaked Memos

Nice article in the Salt Lake Tribune today on the Judiciary Committee controversy.

Note the end, where Senator Leahy's press secretary says: "Senator Leahy made several attempts over the past five years to create a more secure computer system by separating the networks of the majority and minority staffs, but his efforts were repeatedly rebuffed or ignored by the Republican side of the aisle."

The Democrats ran the Committee during much of that period. What the press secretary claims is only possible if they were too incompetent to run an office.

In any case, as Manny Miranda put it, "there is no privacy expectation to documents on a government server." No one on the government payroll should be writing memos at work that they would be embarassed to have made public.

Let this be an object lesson to government employees everywhere.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:53 PM

Viva La Secularism

France's Lower House Affirms Head Scarf Ban, says the Washington Post today.

France thinks it is a secular nation, but in fact it has merely replaced the worship of God with the worship of his absence.

It shows.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:21 AM

Incomprehensible, But at Least the Punctuation is Atrocious

A sample of the type of email often sent to the black conservative group Project 21:
Since the very beginning we the original people of the earth has been under biases attacks by whites as long as we live on this earth but people like you will help them lynch many more before to go to hell. I don't agree what your reasons are but 30 pieces of silver is not enough for you is it.
Impossible to know what the topic is here, but it may be a complaint against Kimberley Wilson's recent essay, Why People Defend Michael Jackson. A worrisome number of Jackson fans have been writing to complain about it. I'll have to post a montage of their logic sometime, perhaps leading with the email from a self-described white woman from France who complained that Kimberley, who is black, is racist in believing that Michael Jackson's legal woes are not caused by racism. Or the woman who says people admire Michael Jackson for "what he stands for." Never mind that prosecutors allege that he stands for something very unsavory, and the fan cannot possibly know if the prosecutors are correct.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:01 AM

Monday, February 09, 2004

A Man of Principle, Betrayed by His Bosses

Very nice Robert Novak column today posted on on the Judiciary Committee scandal. Novak draws on his long-time Washington experience when he sees comparisons between this case and that of the Pentagon Papers 30 years ago. He also reveals that a GOP desire to get a Medicare prescription drug benefit bill through the Senate played a role in this dismal affairs -- which was news to me.

Novak also days Manny Miranda as been "treated shabbily" by both Hatch and Frist, and concludes:
Manny Miranda is a man of principle who was betrayed by his bosses in the interests of maintaining an artificial comity with their Democratic colleagues. Now they must decide what to do with those unread e-mails hidden in the safe of the sergeant at arms.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:42 PM

Computer Hackers in the Senate (And No Objectivity at the NY Times)

New York Times has an editorial, Computer Hackers in the Senate, today on the Judiciary Committee travesty.

The editorial is a travesty, too. Reading it, you can't tell that the leaked memos revealed wrongdoing. You can't even tell that there are two sides to the leak part of the story.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:20 AM

Do Kennedy and Durbin Believe Senate Judiciary Committee Minority Staffers Outrank the Vice President?

After more than 20 years in Washington, I shouldn't be naive, but there is an aspect to the "leaked" Judiciary memos controversy that I just don't get.

Specifically: why are government documents of this type not automatically open to the public? Why should it require a "leak" for the public to see what its paid government employees are doing and thinking?

I'd make an exception for national security issues, of course, and certain other documents, such as raw FBI files (which often contain unsubstantiated allegations that can unjustly harm people's reputations), but certainly not for the topic under discussion in this story. Either a judge is worthy of confirmation or he isn't, and knowing the thought processes that go into deciding is very much in the public interest.

Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings, after all, aren't held in closed session. So why should a process that should simply be a matter of deciding what questions should be asked at an open hearing be secret?

(Maybe because shenanigans were going on instead?)

And, besides, aren't many of the same people upset that GOP majority staffers saw some "confidential" minority memos about judicial confirmations the same ones who support the lawsuit against Vice President Cheney, claiming that the Vice President should not be allowed to have meetings of his energy task force without the transcripts being made public?

Why should minority staffers on a Senate committee effectively outrank -- in terms of the deference with which their desire for private work product is honored -- the second-highest elected official in the land?

Overall, I'm for open government (far more than we have now), but if I had to decide between giving "secrecy rights" to either anonymous staffers or an official who has to run for election and then re-election to keep his job, I'd rather trust the guy who faces the voters. At least he's accountable to somebody, and takes questions from the press occasionally.

As for you, Senators Kennedy and Durbin, if your employees are doing things you are ashamed to have made public, fire them. And since public officials shouldn't be agreeing to things in private they are ashamed to have known in public, how about firing yourselves as well?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:09 AM

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Take Care of Your Foot Soldiers!

Mychal Massie, a member of the black conservative group Project 21, expresses regrets in this editorial that Senators Hatch and Frist aren't standing behind their man.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:05 PM

A Mystery... And a Shame

Our David Almasi takes on the judiciary committee controversy, calling the charges against staffers of Senator Pat Leahy "grave" and complaining, as many conservatives are, that Senators Hatch and Frist are letting the real ethical issues be "spun away."

Speaking of the real ethical issues, I recommend a piece by Byron York of National Review Online, who says one of the issues involved is "evidence of the direct influencing of the Senate's advice and consent rule by the promise of campaign funding and election support in the last mid-term election."

Quin Hillyer, also writing on NRO, takes a look at what Senator Hatch has just done. He concludes: "The whole battle over judicial nominations long ago turned sleazy, with plenty of allegations back and forth. Why Orrin Hatch should sweep the Democrats' sleaze under the rug is both a mystery and a shame."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:35 AM

Friday, February 06, 2004

Environmentalists Circa 1975 Propose Covering Arctic in Black Soot

Over the years I've taken to collecting old books and articles (old being 20-30 years ago), when the low-budget versions of today's environmental movement predicted global cooling.

Today, on Rush Limbaugh's website, he has posted a text file and pdf to an article from the April 28, 1975 edition of Newsweek that I didn't have in my collection.

It's entitled, "The Cooling World," by Peter Gwynne. It is a fun read.

Some excerpts (the second one is especially funny):
"The evidence in support of these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. In England, farmers have seen their growing season decline by about two weeks since 1950, with a resultant overall loss in grain production estimated at up to 100,000 tons annually.... To scientists, these seemingly disparate incidents represent the advance signs of fundamental changes in the world's weather. Meteorologists... are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic. "A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale," warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences... A survey completed last year by Dr. Murray Mitchell of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveals a drop of half a degree in average ground temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere between 1945 and 1968. According to George Kukla of Columbia University, satellite photos indicated a sudden, large increase in Northern Hemisphere snow cover in the winter of 1971-72. And a study released last month by two NOAA scientists notes that the amount of sunshine reaching the ground in the continental U.S. diminished by 1.3% between 1964 and 1972."

"Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing the variables of climatic uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies. The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality."
It is amazing to me how much the language in this piece echoes coverage of "global warming" today. Even some of the expert players quoted -- the NAS and NOAA -- are the same.

What will environmentalists worry about next?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:54 PM

Why People Defend Michael Jackson

Project 21's Kimberley Jane Wilson takes a look at the other Jackson, Michael, in a timely essay we've just posted online.

Memorable for me are the stories she tells in the fourth paragraph.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:50 AM

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Beware of Judges Bearing Rights

Mitt Romney, governor of Massachusetts, has a worthy op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal. One of several excellent points:
Beware of activist judges. The Legislature is our lawmaking body, and it is the Legislature's job to pass laws. As governor, it is my job to carry out the laws. The Supreme Judicial Court decides cases where there is a dispute as to the meaning of the laws or the constitution. This is not simply a separation of the branches of government, it is also a balance of powers: One branch is not to do the work of the other. It is not the job of judges to make laws, the job of legislators to command the National Guard, or my job to resolve litigation between citizens. If the powers were not separated this way, an official could make the laws, enforce them, and stop court challenges to them. No one branch or person should have that kind of power. It is inconsistent with a constitutional democracy that guarantees to the people the ultimate power to control their government.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:52 PM

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

The Massachusetts Supreme Court Makes Its Decision; St. Peter's Is Pending

The Massachusetts Supreme Court announces that traditional religious values regarding marriage are a "stain." Also, they are "no[t] rational."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:18 PM

Bet This Comes in Handy During GOTV Efforts

Here's a guy who can tell a person's party registration from the kind of vehicle they drive. Neat trick!
You should be ashamed of yourselves and your responses. The main way our country can reduce its dependence on resources plentiful in the Middle East is by reducing our current consumption and developing alternative fuels (fuel cells). If the Republican politicians were as patriotic as they claim, they would be willing to sacrifice their gas guzzling vehicles and address the long term problem -- eliminating our dependency on fossil fuels and thus the Middle East. Every time I see a 7000 lb Ford Excursion or Hummer driving down the interstate I think, "There goes another Republican patriot."

Get real.

Regards, John

John W. Callahan
Pagnotta Engineering, Inc.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:25 PM

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

An E-Mail Exchange with the NFL

I've watched some commentators -- Alan Colmes at Fox is among them -- question why anyone should care about a little nudity at the Super Bowl.

Other commentators have rebutted them, so I won't say everything I could, except this:

One reason the Super Bowl grew into such an institution was its sense of, to invent a term, "American-ness." Watch the Super Bowl, laughing at the funny commercials, rooting for someone, hosting or attending Super Bowl parties -- it had all become a celebration of part of what it is to be an American. For that to work, though, the Super Bowl has to reflect things about America that we are proud of. Working hard, competitiveness, doing one's best -- these are qualities the Super Bowl should reflect. Not sleeze.

The issue, therefore, is about a lot more than just the sight of a portion of Janet Jackson's unremarkable torso. It is about what we are proud of. And we weren't proud of what we saw Sunday.

I sent an e-mail to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue reflecting some of these thoughts at My e-mail, and his auto-generated response, are below. I also sent an e-mail yesterday to Michael Powell at the FCC at

Dear Sir:

PLEASE do something so parents can feel confident about allowing their children to watch the NFL on TV.

I grew up in a family that watched the NFL every Sunday during the season, with almost no exceptions. Some of my fondest memories come from watching those games and rooting for our team, the Steelers.

Before my kids were born I bought them little Terry Bradshaw beanie babies to put in their cribs to start getting them in the spirit of things. Now our oldest is four years old, our twins are three -- and if you don't do something, I won't be letting them watch NFL football until they are at least old enough to drive.

It isn't just the stupid "wardrobe malfunction." That was a cheap publicity stunt. It was the lyrics of those songs and the sexualized gags on some dancers and the ridiculous little underwear the halftime dancers wore. And the commercials. In your house, do monkeys proposition women? I doubt it. And they won't be doing it in our house, either, even if blocking the sight means we can never watch an NFL game again.

That the NFL did not know about the nudity in advance I can well believe. But if you did not know about the rest of it, you weren't doing your job.

We'll be monitoring the situation. I hope we'll be watching, too, but that's up to you.

Amy Ridenour


Dear NFL Fan,

Thank you for your comments and interest in the National Football League.

We were extremely disappointed by the MTV-produced halftime show. It was totally inconsistent with assurances our office was given about the content of the show.

The show was offensive, inappropriate and embarrassing to us and our fans.

We will change our policy, our people and our processes for managing the halftime entertainment in the future in order to deal far more effectively with the quality of this aspect of the Super Bowl.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:43 PM

Clear Skies, Clear Bias

By way of AndrewSullivan's blog, I ran across Gregg Easterbrook's analysis of a National Research Center (National Academies of Science) report on President Bush's Clear Skies proposal, and the apparently biased manner in which the Washington Post and NY Times have covered it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:52 PM

Monday, February 02, 2004

I Liked it Better as a Game

A wry remark from hubby David about last night's football-themed bacchanalia:
It used to be that sex was device to sell more beer. Now beer (and beer commercials) are a device to sell more sex.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:02 PM

If You Think the NFL is Bad, Wait for the Grammys

A warning to the FCC from NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi:
Next week is the Grammy Awards. It will be broadcast live on CBS, the same network that brought us last night's Super Bowl halftime show featuring Janet Jackson's bare breast. Internet gossip Matt Drudge reports the peep show was approved by top officials at the network. Whatever the case, the FCC needs to stop dodging the issue of what's inappropriate on broadcast radio and television before the Grammys because next Sunday has the potential to make this Sunday look like a church service.

The FCC recently took a position that it was OK for U2's Bono to have used the f-word on last year's live Grammy broadcast. That lead to a public and political uproar, and it was followed by live swearing on the subsequent People's Choice Awards and Golden Globe Awards broadcasts. Infinity, a CBS-owned radio network, was fined on several occasions by the FCC for indecent antics by on-air talent, but is refusing to pay the fines. This has prompted syndicated shock jocks such as Howard Stern and Don and Mike -- who are both frequently censored by their own production staff for fear of incurring complaints and fines -- to call on the FCC to learn what they can and cannot do. Why is it OK for TV's daytime show "The View" to use the "T-word" for breasts when they cannot, they wonder. Comedy Central has twice played the "South Park" movie unedited in late night. Every new pop video on MTV seems to push the envelope just a little bit further.

Most kids probably know more swear words than the average adult and pornography is omnipresent on the Internet. That's an issue for parents to handle individually. But the FCC is charged with enforcing decency on the airwaves. People could have tuned into the pay-per-view "Lingerie Bowl" at halftime if they wanted titillating fare, but CBS gave it to them free. It also gave all of the rappers, metalheads and poseurs getting ready for Grammys the green light to be as offensive as they wanna be next week.

Unless the FCC warns CBS and Grammy Award producers that allowing bad behavior will come at a price, the Grammys should be pre-emptively rated "TV-MA."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:50 PM

Don't Want No MTV

On his blog today, Project 21 member Michael King points out some MTV hypocrisy:
"While MTV is busy apologizing for the Janet Jackson 'exposure' during the Super Bowl halftime show, at the same time, on another portion of their web site, they are touting the show's 'kinky finale.'"
Reminds me of when ESPN cast off Rush Limbaugh for his Donovan McNabb comments while simultaneously running a poll on its website asking the same question Rush had raised.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:48 PM

Three Cheers for Michael Powell

Three cheers for Michael Powell. An FCC press release today:

FCC Chairman Michael Powell today issued the following statement:

"I am outraged at what I saw during the halftime show of the Super Bowl. Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around the television for a celebration. Instead, that celebration was tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt. Our nation's children, parents and citizens deserve better.

"I have instructed the Commission to open an immediate investigation into last night's broadcast. Our investigation will be thorough and swift."

Good for him. I am appalled to think that perhaps we can't let our children watch the NFL anymore. I hope the outcry from the public on this travesty is thunderous.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:28 PM

Conflict of Interest, Anyone?

Greg Pierce of the The Washington Times reports that fundraisers for New York Attorney General Elliott Spitzer (who wants to be a governor) are soliciting checks from lawyers whose clients are negotiating deals with Spitzer's office.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:57 AM

Sunday, February 01, 2004

When They Call Themselves Greens, They're Apparently Referring to Their Love of Money

Environmentalists are making plans to sue energy companies over perceived global warming.

My thoughts:

* "Global warming," in colloquial usage, refers a theory predicting certain things about the future. The future has not occurred. Imagine the court testimony: "Your Honor, in the future, we expect to be injured... but we want the money now."

* Energy companies sell nothing without customers, so if it genuinely cares about the environment more than deep-pockets plaintiffs, Friends of the Earth should sue these customers, who often actually (gasp!) are the ones who burn the oil. (Of course, it would have to sue itself, and Greenpeace, and the Sierra Club, and Al Gore, but the environmentalist war on capitalism is serious business, and some collateral damage is inevitable.)

* Friends if the Earth thanks a European outfit called the "Minor Foundation for Major Challenges" for paying for their work on this. That's a new wrinkle on the global warming debate, which previously had been funded by major foundations chasing a minor challenge.

* As a defensive legal strategy, energy companies should stop selling to anyone planning to sue them. After a week or two, prospective plaintiffs will recall that energy has its uses, and want to use some more. (It should take less than a week in regions affected by the current uncommonly cold "global warming" weather, or, during summer, when it is over 78 Fahrenheit in France.)

* Friends of the Earth's director boasts their "global warming report should send shivers through the boardrooms." Anyone using the term "shivers" in connection with "warming" is not to be feared.

* Evidence of shivering in a boardroom may be used in court as evidence against global warming.

* Friends of the Earth says it singles out ExxonMobil because it "has repeatedly attempted to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change and actively resisted attempts to limit carbon dioxide emissions through law." In other words, it has disagreed with Friends of the Earth on scientific and legislative issues. Mediating such disagreements is not the purpose of courts.

Note to self: Plan the mother of all lawsuits -- one against environmentalists.

First up in the docket: The next-of-kin of millions of Third Worlders, very many of them children, who have died needlessly from malaria because environmentalists won't admit they are wrong about DDT.

Second up: The half million kids who go blind in the Third World due to a Vitamin A deficiency that could have been addressed with agricultural biotechnology -- technology opposed by wealthy First World environmentalists.

Third up: The next-of-kin of the 2,000 extra people killed in the U.S. every year since 1975 (National Academies of Science 2002 estimate) because environmentalist-supported fuel economy standards reduced the safety of passenger vehicles.

Fourth up: Any American who lost someone or something in forest fire because the environmentalist belief that land should be left untouched by humanity stopped forest thinning projects and other sane fire control measures. (Governor Schwarzenegger, call your office.)

I could go on. Anyone know a good lawyer? Humanitarians should apply.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:15 AM

Are We Liberal?

It's not just leftists who send less-than-friendly e-mails. Here's one from a fellow, I presume a conservative, who thinks our latest edition of What Conservatives Think is distressingly liberal (punctuation as we received it):
You say that your publication is not liberal yeah right your magazine sucks and everything and everyone in your organization as well I hope you have a miserable life I better not see anymore of your communist liberal garbage on my computer anymore

Wesley Tilley
I'm sorry you're not happy, Mr. Tilley, but we call 'em as we see 'em. If you're on our e-mail list and don't want to be, just click "unsubscribe."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:07 AM

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