masthead-highres

Friday, April 30, 2004

Maybe Bar Exams Should Have a Tolerance Test

From our mailbag today, to the black conservative group Project 21:
You call youselves "conservatives!" What do Black Americans have to conserve in America? You should be looking to be "progressives"? Black Americans need a lot more progress in order to gain as compared to the White Americans. We don't need to "conserve" things the way they are right now. GET A GRIP, YOU BUNCH OF "UNCLE TOMS."

Paulette Clarke PPClarke@proskauer.com
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:59 PM

The Good Men Do

On April 7, Spc. Joe Roche of the 16th Engineering Battalion, 1st Armored Division, wrote us an e-mail listing the accomplishments of his unit since the war began.

Joe told me to make use of it at an appropriate time. I think that is today.

With no further ado, then, Joe's letter:
In the next paragraph and going on a little you will see a summary of exact numbers and a general survey of what my unit, the 16th Armed Engineer Battalion, has done since arriving in Baghdad a year ago. I got this from the battalion commander, Lt. Col. John S. Kem. This information is put together by the battalion itself, so you can use this as exact....

This is a general survey of the accomplishments of one unit, the 16th Armed Engineer Battalion of the 1st Armored Division, operating in Baghdad. We have carried out raids, river patrols, cordon and search operations, traffic control points and searches and tunnel/bunker recons. Acting more in the role of infantry, we have also conducted combat operations, seized and established fixed sight security positions, numerous and constant recon patrols and well as security patrols.

Operating in Baghdad, we set up 16 forward operating bases in the city, placed barriers to protect embassies, hospitals, government buildings and major hotels. These included the Ministry of Oil, the Palestine Hotel and Sheraton Hotel. Thirty-two power substations scattered in the most dense parts of the city were extensively worked on and improved, as well as major power stations such as Taji and Al Mansour. We established 13 police stations. We also secured and re-constructed five banks in the main central banking district. We also set up the security measures and defenses at embassies such as the Turkish, Polish, Swedish and Japanese ones.

For empowering Iraqi self-governing mechanisms, we established a number of ICDC camps and conducted the training of them.

Our missions encompassed several major operations which still must remain unspecified, but were critical to major operations.

Several times we were the primary response force to major terrorist attack sites such as the United Nations compound, the Turkish Embassy, and other sites.

We removed more than 200 abandoned Iraqi military vehicles such as tanks and anti-aircraft guns, artillery guns, APCs and many other crafts. Accompanying such missions were Explosive Ordnance Disposal missions that secured the removal of 1902 tons of unexploded munitions. This involved clearing 726 sites and 190 weapons/explosives caches, sometimes well dug and concealed.

Constant and exhausting are the IED sweeps, searching for roadside bombs. This combined w/ a route clearance effort of trash removal, vegetation clearance and filling abandoned fighting positions that amounted to $73,000.

This list is huge and too long to recount in detail, but weapons cleared in such efforts included over 10,000 artillery pieces, over 4000 RPGs, around 5000 mortars, over 1200 grenades, even including large missiles, rockets and warheads. Realize that some of these items are now in use in IEDs (roadside bombs). Imagine if we had not cleared all this. As it is, we have located and neutralized 95 IEDs.

Our infrastructure missions included major bridging construction that opened up highways for Iraqi commerce and travel. Along w/ this, 24 kilometers of main roads and many more secondary roads were repaired and cleared.

In what may be the US Army's record accomplishment for any single unit carrying out humanitarian missions, we completed 224 neighborhood projects totaling nearly $5 million. Twenty-eight primary and secondary schools were repaired, built and improved. We also completed 67 projects to construct and improve Baghdad University and Mustansariyah University, which included 7 colleges, 3 dormitories, 250 renovated rooms, and many internet and computer labs, totaling around $1.5 million. This included restoration and improvement to the Museum of Natural History.

General infrastructure projects included 23 major ones that involved everything from major repairs to establishing security at a value of $140,000. Sewage projects covered 31 major items, 19 substations and 15 vehicle trucks totaling $1.97 million. We also completed 4 major water projects at $152,000 and $94,000 of irrigation systems.

All this was accomplished by our single unit in Baghdad's toughest areas while averaging around 285 soldiers. Many times we operated w/ units from Florida, Oregon, Utah, Puerto Rico, Kansas and Texas Reservists and National Guardsmen, as well as a couple other active army units.
We haven't heard from Joe in over a week. He predicted he would soon be without Internet access in an e-mail about his unit's new assignment he sent ten days ago.

We can, however, see from news reports today that some of the soldiers from the 1st Armored Division in which he serves are operating in Mahmudiyah, clearing roadside bombs.

Surely, work worth commending, even as Ted Koppel reads the names of the lost.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:32 AM

Thursday, April 29, 2004

If We've Lost Ted Koppel, We Still Have the Country

Observations about Ted Koppel's decision to read the names of U.S. troops killed in Iraq on his show Friday:
1) It is impossible to be sure about Koppel's motives in this instance, but Koppel is being judged not only on his decision to do this broadcast, but on his whole body of work. If many people had not already concluded that Nightline is biased, fewer would question his motives now.

2) Excluding private memorials, the proper, truly non-political time to memorialize the war dead is after the war is over. Recognition of the sacrifices made by those who died is right and proper, and necessary. Because it is important to do, it is likewise important to do it right.

3) Approving comparisons made by some of Koppel's plans to the listing of the names of the Vietnam War dead on the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Washington D.C. often fail to note that the original design -- the wall with inscribed names of those American service personnel lost in the conflict -- was immensely unpopular with very many Vietnam Veterans. Matters were settled only after it was agreed that the Memorial also would include a nearby statue of soldiers doing their honorable duty. Koppel's show will have the "wall," but no "statue."

4) The perception that network anchormen played a key role in spurring America’s dishonorable departure from Vietnam makes those who rue those events especially sensitive to the possibility that history could repeat itself. Anchormen in particular should be aware of this dynamic. The patriotic public, however, should realize that no one with his finger on the pulse of the nation ever will say: "If we've lost Ted Koppel, we've lost the country."
Early on Friday, we will post another response to Koppel's decision: A list of the very impressive humanitarian accomplishments of just one 285-soldier unit that has been present in Iraq since the war began.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:40 PM

Our Party, Under God

Roll Call today has an interesting story by John Bresnahan about Rep. Jim McDermott getting slammed by fellow Democrats for his failure to properly lead the Pledge of Allegiance:
Fallout from Rep. Jim McDermott's (D-WA) refusal to say the words "under God," or place his right hand over his heart while leading the Pledge of Allegiance on the House floor Tuesday morning continued Wednesday.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was furious with McDermott and blasted his longtime colleague during a Democratic leadership meeting Wednesday, according to sources.

Hoyer argued that whatever McDermott's personal feelings were about the phrase "under God," that when he gave the pledge on the floor, McDermott was representing all Democrats, not just himself. In Hoyer's view, McDermott should have thought about what it would mean for the entire Democratic Caucus and not just himself before he spoke...

"There are a lot of people unhappy with McDermott," said a senior Democratic leadership aide...

The pledge was printed in the Congressional Record without McDermott's revisions...

McDermott's explanation for Tuesday's episode was laid out in a statement released by his office: "My thoughts were not where they should have been and I reverted to the Pledge as it was written and taught in the public schools throughout my childhood. The Pledge has indeed been amended since then and I will endeavor to concentrate on what I'm doing in the future and say the modern version."
There's more, but I think they'll want you to subscribe.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:12 PM

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Michael King Must Be Popular

Either Jesse Jackson's anti-U.S. comments are attracting a lot of interest, or Project 21's Michael King has a lot of fans, or maybe both, but a discussion about Michael's appearance on Hannity and Colmes last night to discuss the comments had 209 posts the last time I looked.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:43 PM

When Will They Investigate?

A second complaint has been filed with the Senate ethics committee regarding Senator Ted Kennedy and memogate. Says Jeffrey Mazzella of the Center for Individual Freedom in a CNSNews.com report today: "'Certainly, Kennedy's office violated ethics rules of the Senate. The question now becomes, did Kennedy do so himself?"

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:00 PM

Blood Libels

This April 28 editorial in the Financial Times begins:
In possibly the most stinging rebuke ever to a British government by its foreign policy establishment, 52 former ambassadors and international officials have written to Tony Blair telling him he is damaging UK (and western) interests by backing George W. Bush's misguided policies in the Middle East.
British history is replete with examples of stinging rebukes to its governments -- some of them quite painfully, even imaginatively, fatal. A stern letter by a bunch of bureaucrats, retired bureaucrats and and bureaucrat-wannabes wouldn't even make the top ten.

The letter, the paper reports, complains that the Blair-Bush policy has "inflamed Arab opinion to the point where it sees Palestine and Iraq as two fronts in a war of resistance against the west."

Yep. Present world tensions are all Bush's and Blair's fault. The fanatical Muslims were just minding their own business on 9-11, and Arab culture doesn't teach its otherwise often uneducated youth that Jews slaughter young Christians and Moslems in order to use their blood in pastries. Not.

No, that blood libel stuff didn't do any "inflaming" worth mentioning -- Bush and Blair are responsible. If only the people of the U.S. and Britain had elected thinking liberals in their last major elections instead of hard-hearted right-wingers like Bush and Blair... no, scratch that last bit of fantasy, too.

The 52 former ambassadors and international officials clearly have spent way too much time sharing cucumber sandwiches with petty dictators and not enough time with their history books. They not only missed the chapters about anti-Semitism, they entirely overlook the Crusades.

The Financial Times piece ends with the FT urging "London to co-ordinate its position more closely with its European partners."

Wouldn't those be many of the same folks Saddam was bribing?

They don't call it the Financial Times for nothing.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:04 AM

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Project 21 to Discuss Jesse Jackson's Inflammatory Comments on Iraq on Fox's "Hannity and Colmes"

Project 21 member Michael King will appear on Fox's "Hannity and Colmes" tonight, April 27, to discuss Jesse Jackson's comments about U.S. policy in Iraq.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:51 PM

Notice They Don't Recommend Taxing Private Planes

A script for a radio broadcast I ran across in the course of my work:
Air Traffic Contributes to Global Warming

January 14, 1999

You've heard that cars add to global warming — they burn fossil fuels, so they pump out carbon dioxide. Well, there's another carbon dioxide culprit. Look to the sky on today's EnvironMinute. [:11]

That's right, airplanes are another major player in the global warming game. Planes pump about 660 million tons of carbon dioxide into your friendly skies each year. And thanks to increasing air traffic, that figure is going up by about 40 million tons annually. At that rate, you could see airplane emissions triple in the next two decades! Rather than add more heat-trapping gases to our global green house, let's just 'plane' cut back on carbon dioxide pollution. A tax on airplane fuel could encourage airlines to conserve fuel. Plus it could fuel the development of new, more energy-efficient planes. [:36]

The EnvironMinute is produced in cooperation with the National Safety Council and made possible by the Teresa and H. John Heinz III Foundation. [:10]

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:27 PM

Jackson Lite

Some folks will tell you that they oppose the war but support the troops. But not everybody. Here's something from the mailbag.
Sorry Joe, I don't believe you.

Seen too much and read to much.

How many Iraqi's have you killed?

If you believe what you wrote, I feel sorry for you.

I do not support you or our troops, perhaps because I have read and seen too many dead Iraqi civilians at you hands.

Paul Myers
Houston, Texas
Maybe he works for Jesse Jackson.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:03 AM

More Good News from a Soldier

If you liked Army Spc. Joe Roche's story, you'll like this one, too.

Maybe the way to cover the next war is with little cameras in soldiers' helmets.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:11 AM

Going Home

There is a tremendously moving story in the Everything I Know Is Wrong blog tonight. It is about a young Marine's journey home.

I was crying about a third of the way into it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:27 AM

Monday, April 26, 2004

Double Standard? Or a case of the Left Being Impossible to Please?

Some outfit called "One People's Project" has attacked Project 21 (and also the Independent Women's Forum) for saying that conservatives are called to task more often than liberals on questions of racial sensitivity.

In a document called How Right-Wingers Define Intolerance, the group complains that Project 21 has a "double standard" because many of its members asked for the resignation of Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) after Dodd's racially insensistive comments about Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), but when Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) made racially-insensitive comments about then-Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC), Project 21 members only called for Lott's resignation as Majority Leader.

In each case, Project 21 members called upon each man to resign his most influential position. It is not Project 21's fault that Chris Dodd has never been elected Majority Leader.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:28 PM

Black Conservative Runs for President, Sort Of

NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi with instructions to set your VCRs this summer:
Project 21 member Tara Setmayer is running for president, sort of.

Tara is a contestant on a reality show premiering this summer on Showtime called "American Candidate."

Here's a description of "American Candidate" from the show's website:
"American Candidate" will attempt to identify one individual who has the qualifications and qualities to be President of the United States. This summer, "American Candidate" will debut with 12 contestants from all walks of life. Over the course of 10 weeks, those 12 will face-off against each other in a series of challenges designed to test their presidential mettle and to show viewers what really goes on in the making of a presidential candidate. Week-by-week, the original pool of candidates will be winnowed down. The final episode will be a showdown between the remaining two candidates, and one person will emerge victorious -- the "American Candidate."
The winner gets $200,000 and a nationwide media appearance after the show so the "American Candidate" can make his or her address to the nation.

To check out Tara's bio and become a supporter, click here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:42 PM

You're Either With Us Or Against Us, and It's Clear Where Jesse Stands

Project 21 is preparing a press release on Jesse Jackson's exceedingly inflammatory comments about Iraq.

Jackson's comments, which include a call for the sanctioning of the U.S. by the U.N. and a claim that U.S. actions in Iraq constitute "murder" and "a crime against humanity," really have to be read to be believed. He even raises the thought that the U.N. should act against the U.S. "in a military way," although he (correctly) doubts the U.N. has the power. (Or the gumption.)

Although Project 21's press release isn't finished yet, it is already receiving press attention, thanks to a column by Project 21's Bob Parks. In the column, Parks seems to be a little peeved with Jackson.

Jackson's comments were brought to our attention by the good folks at the National Legal and Policy Center. The NLPC is calling on Coca-Cola to stop giving Jesse Jackson money.

In my opinion, Jesse Jackson has crossed a line here. Every corporate executive that has ever even considered contributing to Jackson's empire should take notice.

Coca-Cola should make a formal statement disavowing Jackson's remarks. If the corporation is helping to pay for Jackson's media operation, that's the very least it should do.

If Jackson's comments inspire you to want to do something to show support for the troops, consider sending a care package to soldiers. And, maybe, toast them -- with a Pepsi.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:21 AM

Sunday, April 25, 2004

We Can't Vote UN Officials Out... But We Can Kick Them Out

The Friends of Saddam blog has created an Excel file containing the names of all 270 recipients of vouchers from Saddam Hussein under the U.N.'s Oil for Food program.

One of the people on the list is said to be the financier of a film done by Scott Ritter, the former U.N. weapons inspector who underwent a must-remarked-upon change of heart about the former Iraqi regime.

There's a lot more on the Friends of Saddam blog for anyone following details in what is fast becoming the #1 scandal of the past 50 years. Although most of it is appalling, some if it is unexpectedly funny, such as the stories about the British politician accused of being bribed by Saddam who claimed he'd never even seen a barrel of oil -- so a leading British newspaper had one delivered to his house.

When considering the possibility that the U.N. might be corrupt (even on this scale), keep in mind that government corruption is the rule in much of the world. Bribery of government officials is common even in some First World countries, such as France.

Thanks to Captain's Quarters for the pointer.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:56 PM

Memo to Gov't: Be Culturally Insensitive Next Time

The Captain's Quarters blog today covers a shocking case of California state officials acting as if "displaying cultural sensitivity is more worthy than the lives and health of Latino children."

The issue involves candy marketed to Latino children that contains high levels of lead. The state knew about it, but apparently didn't want to be "culturally insensitive" by banning the candy.

Lead poisoning can cause memory loss, brain damage and kidney damage -- any one of which is a lot worse than hurt feelings.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 7:36 PM

Their First Product Was Horseradish

Why do reporters constantly refer to Teresa Heinz Kerry as being the heir to John Heinz's "ketchup" fortune, when everybody knows that Heinz makes 57 Varieties?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:13 AM

Now, Jim, Don't Think and Wait

The Travelling Shoes blog has compared Andy Rooney's five questions for American soldiers with a leaflet circulated by the Nazis, circa 1944, to American soldiers rescuing France.

Must reading. Check out the links he has within it, too.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:49 AM

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Doing the Time

NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi never thought there'd be a day when he would be complaining about the music kids are listening to:
It was the theme song for the 70s TV cop show "Baretta" that advised: "don't do the crime if you can't do the time." Modern rappers are showing this is no longer the case.

Island Def Jam Records is reportedly preparing to sign Jamal "Shyne" Barrow to a $3 million recording contract. It plans to use previously-recorded tracks for his first release, but the follow-up will be tricky since Shyne is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence and might not be released until 2009. He is in jail for his role in a 2001 shooting at a New York nightclub that also included rap mogul Sean Combs and his then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez (they weren't charged).

When someone does a poor job, they're often accused of "phoning it in." In Shyne's case, he might have to literally do so from the prison payphone. It will be that or, as many other prison rappers reportedly do, he will record
in the public visiting area.

The actor who played Baretta, Robert Blake, now stands accused of either killing his wife or having her killed.

Seems he didn't live up to his song, either.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:01 AM

Earth Day's Disparate Impact

A nice column Friday by Duane D. Freese, published by Tech Central Station, on the press conference Project 21 participated in on Earth Day. Here's how it starts:
Does Earth Day need a disparate impact statement? The thought may make many political conservatives cringe, but an accounting given at a forum on April 22 called "Eco-Imperialism: Reflections on Earth Day" at the National Press Club ought to give liberals pause as well about what extremist environmental positions mean for the world's poor and minorities. For those who don't recall what disparate impact is...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:29 AM

Coffin Photos

NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi points out the media has already shown its lack of respect for the dead:
The media's zeal to publish photos of war dead returning to Dover Air Force Base has blown up in their faces as it is now being reported the photos of flag-draped coffins distributed by many news services are actually old photos of the late crew of the space shuttle Columbia.

The first Bush Administration banned the media from taking photos like these back in 1991 with good reason. In 1989 after the liberation of Panama and in 1991 during the first Gulf War, networks spliced images of the returning dead with the President joking around or relaxing. Intentional or not -- and I believe it was intentional -- it made the President look disrespectful. Either way, it was wrong, and it showed the media was not up to the somber responsibility of reporting on these activities. This ban was honored by both Clinton and the current President.

One of the employees who was fired for taking photos of returning caskets did so for the families of the dead. She wanted the families to know their loved ones were being treated with honor and respect rather than as luggage (if you want to see my point, try to catch a rerun of the new A&E show "Family Plots" where a mortician is shown stuffing a corpse -- still in a body bag -- into a casket and run out to a closed-casket burial they'd forgotten about). Instead of sharing this reverence, the media seems to be shouting, "Look! Dead bodies!" And, if you want to find a pattern of morbid behavior in the media, you need only remember earlier this week when CBS was criticized for showing death photos of England's Princess Diana.

If the media wants to be reverent about our war dead, fine. But their current behavior proves the first Bush Administration was correct. They still haven't learned their lesson and cannot be counted on to act mature.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:07 AM

Friday, April 23, 2004

How Wonderful!

Re: Keep the Faith: A Letter from Iraq by Army Spc. Joe Roche
How Wonderful!

Joe Roche!

What a wondeful way to reach the dopers with "no future" except rotting from D.U. in the desert! Are you a member of the same "Think Tank" that brought us Wolfawitz and Pearle, and "The Project For The New American Century"??? The same who brought us "The Uniform Military Service Act", and "Smart Borders" to prevent defectors from "Voting with their feet"?

So, it's all "Hail & Glory" over there in "New Texas", eh?

Now repeat after me; "Hail George Bush Jr., you recycled bar slime, I who am about to die admit you are driven by people more viciuos and intelligent than you ever could be."

Lottsa luck, Joe Think Tank.

Dyann & Glenn murphysplace@elltel.net
Fortunately, this letter is an aberration. The vast majority of the letters and e-mails we are receiving and forwarding to Joe are wonderfully supportive of our soldiers and Marines.
_____

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:23 PM

They Might as Well Ask Infants to Do Calculus

This has to be one of the most (unintentionally) humorous proposals that I have ever seen.

Any environmentalist who believes a parent can tell (a minute or so in advance, yet) when an infant is going to urinate is giving a whole new dimension to the term "looney left."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:37 PM

In the Interest of National Morale, I Will Not Be Participating in This Event

I got this amusing e-mail from a complete stranger today, and decided it was funny enough to share, although it is tremendously un-PC.
We all know that it is a sin for an Islamic male to see any woman other than his wife naked, and that he must commit suicide if he does. So this Sunday at 4:00 PM Eastern time all American women are asked to walk out of their house completely naked to help weed out any neighborhood terrorists. Circling your block for one hour is recommended for this Antiterrorist effort.

All men are to position themselves in lawn chairs in front of their house to prove they are not terrorists, and to demonstrate that they think it's okay to see nude women other than their wife and to show support for all American women. And since the Koran also does not approve of alcohol, a cold six-pack at your side is further proof of your anti-terrorist sentiment.

The American Government appreciates your efforts to root out terrorists and applauds your participation in this anti-terrorist activity.

God bless America!

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:36 AM

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Environmentalism Kills

A provocative headline for Earth Day, I know, but check out the
Junkscience.com "malaria clock" before you decide it is unwarranted.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:09 PM

Black Activists to Expose Environmental Policies that Harm Minority Advancement

Project 21 will participate in an Earth Day press conference at the National Press Club today on the topic of environmental policies that harm minority advancement.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:30 AM

And They Call Themselves Environmentalists?

William La Jeunesse had a report on the Fox News Channel yesterday detailing how anti-nuclear environmental activists are trying once again to shut down America's most environmentally-friendly major energy source.

I provide my take on this here.

(Just for the record, the nuclear power industry is not a donor to The National Center.)

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:20 AM

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Outsourcing Our Jobs

A new commentary by Project 21's Kevin Martin points out:
While outsourcing is a term that's on everyone's lips, there's little concern over something called "environmental justice." It's a policy advocated by elite environmentalists, and it is killing job prospects in minority communities. If outsourcing is considered bad, environmental justice is much, much worse...

In 1996, Shintech Inc. -- a Japanese chemical company -- wanted to build a $700 million facility in Convent, Louisiana to make the polyvinyl chloride that is used in building materials, upholstery and clothing. Shintech promised to hire hundreds of area residents for the construction of the plant and provide $500,000 in local job training. After the plant was built, it would employ 165 people with salaries beginning at $12 an hour - twice the average wage area residents made working in the region's sugar cane fields.

Shintech was never able to build the plant in this poor, job-starved community. Despite strong local support among residents, politicians and the NAACP, EPA officials in Washington, D.C. -- at the urging of environmentalists -- denied Shintech a permit based on concerns about environmental justice.

Environmental justice policies are supposed to keep businesses from inflicting a "disparate impact" on minority communities, but this vague definition does not weigh the costs against the benefits of introducing a job-producing industry to a poverty-stricken area. To the elitists in the environmental movement, it's a black and white issue where businesses are guilty until proven innocent. In reality, it's about black and white jobs. Those people who need jobs the most often find their prospects gloomier after environmental justice concerns are raised.

Former Detroit mayor Dennis Archer has complained that the EPA's environmental justice policies are "so vague and so broad that it nullifies everything that we have done to attract companies." It seems activists are willing to make an issue out of just about everything. When a formerly blighted neighborhood in Harlem was cleaned up and a Home Depot that created 400 area jobs moved in, it was criticized by environmentalists because it wasn't a "clean industry" like a school and increased area truck traffic...

In 2000, The National Center for Public Policy Research surveyed 69 community-level environmental groups about "environmental justice." When presented with the choice between jobs and justice, 72 percent didn't think jobs or wages should be sacrificed to achieve environmental goals. Likewise, 57 percent said environmental goals must be balanced with economic opportunity.

Environmental goals are important, but they cannot come at the expense of people and their livelihoods....

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:07 PM

Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out

David Almasi sends over this note:
Elaine R. Jones, the outgoing director of the NAACP's legal arm, is being feted in New York City on April 22. Her resignation was announced shortly after a complaint was filed against her with the Virginia Bar Association. The complaint was related to information found in a leaked Senate Judiciary Committee memo in which Ted Kennedy staffer Olati Johnson informed the senator that Jones had called seeking a delay in the confirmation of a Bush appeals court nominee so that the NAACP's perceived upper hand in the University of Michigan affirmative action case would not be jeopardized (Johnson, who once worked for the NAACP, is now at the ACLU).

The complaint against Jones was dismissed just prior to the Jones tribute. It's not certain if the dismissal was due to the brilliant work of her legal team (which included Bill Clinton's attorney and a former Virginia governor) or barrister collegiality, but the timing is certainly odd.

Here are Project 21 member Mychal Massie's thoughts upon the occasion of Jones' retirement:

"It is important to not forget the real reason for Elaine Jones' resignation. Her resigning has nothing to do with 'a job well done, it's time to move on to the next big thing.' Rather, it has everything to do with her clandestine influence over the liberals on the Senate Judiciary Committee and the subsequent call for her investigation by several groups — including Project 21 — before Virginia Bar Association. Elaine Jones is neither hero nor a champion of righteous causes; her reported actions are, in fact, representative of the quintessential ill befalling America and American government."
By the way, can anyone doubt the Elaine Jones story would be page one if she had worked for Bill Frist?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:05 PM

Clarity Needed on Clear Skies

Comments from NCPPR research associate Eric Chapman:
Bruce Barcott's New York Times Magazine cover story on April 4, 2004, "Changing All the Rules," criticized the Bush Administration for its failure to pass the President's energy bill and said the President's Clear Skies initiative is collecting dust on a committee shelf.

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the Bush energy bill. The problem lies in the Senate, where Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) refuses to let the bill come to the floor for a vote. Furthermore, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) vows to filibuster any bill that would allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Also, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), the ranking minority member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, opposes letting the bill leave the committee.

As for the Clear Skies package, both chambers of Congress have taken action (H.R. 999 and S. 485), but subcommittee hearings and committee markups are not instantaneous, especially in an election year in which election politics and senatorial campaigns are taking precedent. Action, if and when taken, on the Clear Skies initiative will provide power plants with needed flexibility to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury in an inexpensive way.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:01 PM

Senator Kerry, Please Respond

At an Earth Day observance in 2003, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) pledged to make "environmental justice" a top priority of his administration should he be elected president in 2004...

Because there are diverse views on environmental justice that in practice can be both helpful and hurtful to minority communities as well as the economic prosperity of all Americans, the African-American leadership network Project 21 contacted Senator Kerry's presidential campaign and his Senate office to ask him to define his intentions with regard to environmental justice enforcement. He was also offered help in further developing his position on this important environmental and economic issue affecting minorities and the poor.

Here's what he told us:

nothing

After one year and several attempts, including formal letters to his office sent via FedEx, there has been no response of any kind from Senator Kerry or his staff.

In the interest of fairness, all the candidates for president were asked the same questions and offered the same assistance.

Here is what former senator Carol Moseley Braun (IL), retired General Wesley Clark, former governor Howard Dean (VT), Senator Bob Edwards (NC), Congressman Richard Gephardt (MO), Senator Bob Graham (FL), Congressman Dennis Kucinich (OH), Senator Joe Lieberman (CT) and the Reverend Al Sharpton had to say in response about their commitment to environmental justice:

nothing

Kerry's fellow candidates for the Democratic nomination were equally silent.

We also asked the President of the United States. White House staff members told us by telephone...
For more, see a document just posted online by our Center for Environmental Justice, Our Leaders Speak... Sort Of.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:30 AM

Center for Environmental Justice Unveils New Website

The Center for Environmental Justice, a joint project of The National Center's John P. McGovern MD Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs and Project 21, has unveiled a new web design. We invite you to visit.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:25 AM

Black Activists Condemn Elitist "Earth Day"

Project 21 has issued a press release making the following points:
* Provisions to combat the unproven theory of global warming, as dictated by the United Nation's Kyoto Protocol, would force almost 1.4 million black and Hispanic Americans out of work and raise the price of food, energy, gasoline and other necessary goods.

* "Smart growth" land use plans restricting new home construction essentially create a new form of segregation by preventing upwardly-mobile black prospective homebuyers from being able to find preferred affordable housing.

* Elitist environmental groups prefer to focus on issues such as abortion and campaign finance reform rather than on legislation that will clean and give an economic jump-start to inner-city communities. These groups also lack diversity in their hiring.
Says Project 21's Ak'Bar Shabazz:
"Most people in our country favor things such as clean air that are raised on Earth Day. However, I believe that Earth Day has changed into an opportunity for socialists and others with interests in slowing down our economy to suppress the resource development, exploration and production that our country needs to maintain our quality of life."
Project 21's Michael King says:
"The notion of sacrificing economic empowerment for the sake of assuaging the feelings of a handful of environmentalists is offensive. These activists seem to think their notions of solving pseudo-scientific concepts like 'global warming' will save humanity, but at what cost? These increased costs create a new underclass unable to afford to buy homes, vehicles and household goods."

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:20 AM

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Page One Washington Post Coverage for Joe's Unit

The Washington Post has a page one story on Joe Roche's battalion by Tom Ricks today.

Joe also was able to get in touch with us by e-mail. Turns out Joe was, in his words "the one who got to show him around. Very nice man, Tom Ricks."

The article discusses the soldiers' personal reactions to the unexpected extension of their deployments and describes their current home base, nicknamed "Baghdad Island."

Of the latter, Joe says:
We have only 4 days left on the Island. It is going to be hard to leave here for the last time. I'm very glad that though it was too short and didn't say much, Tom Ricks wrote about the Island in today's WashPost. This really is an amazing place. Emotions around here are at their highest. Yes, Baghdad Island is being shut down.
The Post also described the unit's new mission...
....as part of a big, brigade-size quick reaction force that the U.S. Army is creating here to rush to hot spots.

The idea behind that force is to prevent the embarrassing recurrence of loss of control of cities, as occurred recently in Fallujah, Najaf and Kut in central Iraq. The new force also promises to give commanders an extra bit of combat flexibility as the planned turnover of sovereignty on June 30 nears -- an event that authorities here widely expect will be preceded by outbursts of violence.
Of the new mission, Joe says:
[We have] been doing a lot of recon runs. Our mission tasking has been changed so that now we aren't going to be a stationary force here or elsewhere, but instead we are forming up as one massive QRF-like force (quick reaction force).

This is cool, and kind of scary too. Let me try to explain. On the cool side, we are going to be forming up at BIAP, w/ all the comforts BIAP has for us. This is like one massive huge US military base/city. Many of the guys are happy because there are girls there. We'll have PX, 'net and phone access. We should also have decent 3-to-6 man bays to live in.

HOWEVER!, and this is the kicker -- if anywhere anything goes down that is bad, our QRF force is the one that will immediately deploy out to deal w/ it. That includes Fallujah, Najaf, here in Baghdad, everything and everywhere. We will be going wherever the fight is. Further, if and when it happens, we could be gone doing that for days or weeks. Further!, we could go from one to another as long as it takes w/out returning to BIAP.

It is all kind of cool because now we're not going to have the constant street missions... none of the stress each hour and constantly 24/7, all night and all day, ...you get the idea. We're relieved of that. Two other units are taking over the missions and patrols we have done all year. We're off of Task Force Baghdad. Wow.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:41 PM

Monday, April 19, 2004

It is Like They Are In Denial

"The kids... It is like they are in denial. No one talks of our leaving, but they know. Instead, they play and play and play w/ us. But, the one thing, hugs and 'I love you' and stuff like that all the time. They are going to be so lost w/out us."

We've shared thoughts on this blog about how much our soldiers abroad miss their families, and how much their families miss them. There's another side, though. The above quote is something Joe Roche wrote about the Iraqi children his unit must leave behind.

_____

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:56 AM

Saturday, April 17, 2004

"One Day My Children Will Understand"

Osama bin Laden thought Americans would crumble and cower when his nerdy bunch attacked our airplanes and cities. But as this letter sent to Army Spc. Joe Roche proves, we Americans are made of much sterner stuff.
I just wanted to thank you for the positive input, as a wife of a soldier in Sadr city, its nice to hear an encouraging word rather than the bombardment of negative information that the media is releasing. I'm proud of the work that you guys are doing, and thank God there are people like our soldiers in this world to protect us. I know that you guys are working hard and giving people a better life, and we here at home support you. We miss our husbands, our children miss their daddys, and while it would be easy to be selfish and say I want him out of Iraq regardless, that's not the right choice.. it's the selfish choice. One day my children will understand that their daddy helped bring freedom and a better way of life to the suffering children and people of an oppressed nation. I appreciate the sacrifices you guys make, and am proud of you, one and all of you.

thanks again,

[name deleted upon request]
I find this message quite inspirational. That's why I wrote to the author and asked permission to post her letter in this blog. Let's keep her husband and entire family in our prayers, that he may return home soon and safe, mission accomplished.

If you haven't sent a care package or letter of support to our soldiers abroad, please consider doing so. In addition to our suggestions, there are many other websites and worthy organizations that can help Americans here at home support our soldiers abroad, and their (often worried) families here at home.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:19 AM

Letter from a Security Contractor

If you appreciate letters written by Americans in Iraq on the situation there, read this letter on Captain's Quarters by a special forces vet who works in Iraq as a security contractor.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:06 AM

Friday, April 16, 2004

The Sweetest Woman on the Planet Goes to Baghdad

We've been receiving some e-mails from family members of soldiers serving in the 1st Armored Division, sharing news. Some of you might appreciate a visit to the CPT Patti: The Sweetest Woman on the Planet Goes to Baghdad blog, written by the husband of a soldier, "CPT Patti," who is deployed in Iraq with the 1st AD.

This is a very interesting blog for anyone, but I expect especially interesting for anyone with a loved one serving in Iraq.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:44 PM

"It's Mentioned by Nearly Every Soldier That I Have Met..."

Joe Roche's sister, Gita, saw the letter I wrote to Kirby Wilbur of KVI Radio, thanking him and his listeners for their notes of support and care packages for the troops, and mentioning the interactions between GIs and Iraqi kids.

Gita sent me a note sharing some of Joe's experiences, as he wrote them to her, about the interactions between American troops and the children of Iraq, including a small group of Iraqi children aged about 4-11 who literally have been living on base these past months with the men of the 16th Battalion, 1st Armored Division.

As soon as I read her note, I knew it should be shared with others:
...I wonder why no one has yet picked up the stories about the children of Iraq, it's mentioned by nearly every soldier that I have met or read the letters of.... I have so many letters [from Joe with] funny stories about the little ones who lived on base, and nearly every set of 5 or 6 pictures that Joe sends has at least one of the photos being of various children around the humvees, reaching in to touch the soldiers and smiling so happily. In the early letters to us, and throughout as his supply would run low, Joe would ask repeatedly for us to send little toys for the soldiers to be able to give to the little children that their unit would see on their runs.

One of the funniest series of pictures had to do with the day that the schools that the 16th Eng Batt had been rebuilding were opened. On one pic, there is a crowd of children mobbing the soldiers celebrating their rebuilt school. In the next pic the soldiers are sitting there in full battle rattle trying awkwardly to eat cake as the children chatter away with them, the note on the back goes on about how funny it was to see these big soldiers trying to figure out how to respond to and mingle with a bunch of 6 year olds simply gleeful at their presence.

I don't think anyone knows how the 4 or 5 children who have been living at camp came to be there. Somehow after the perimeter had been cleared for Joe's unit to set up camp the children were found to be already living there on their own inside the cleared perimeter! Given how dangerous it was outside, no one apparently had the heart to put them out, so these children have been with this unit thru their entire tour in Baghdad. Joe has often written me about how they wave the soldiers out each day as they go on missions, and welcome them home gleefully. When there were casualties and soldiers did not return to base, Joe would tell me about little [name deleted] and the other children crying at the gate.

Joe would write of the endless games the kids on base would play. One package we sent over had a bunch of toy whistles in it, well that's all the soldiers heard for weeks. Joe said they were driving everyone nuts with those things, but the funniest part was that later Joe would hear the soldiers whistling the same tunes as the kids had been playing. As I told you, another game the kids loved to play was to spring upon a soldier while he was trying to catch some much needed sleep, no matter how tired the soldiers were they always managed to wake up giggling at the game, and the children never tired of playing it. I remember a few weeks back Joe wrote that he could not even talk about how difficult it was going to be to leave the children. I have not had the nerve to ask him what is going to become of them. I wonder if he even knows.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:09 AM

Petition in Support of a Non-Partisan, Solution-Oriented 9/11 Commission

The Independent Women's Forum is circulating an online "Petition in Support of a Non-Partisan, Solution-Oriented 9/11 Commission." It reads:
'If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find we have lost the future.' Winston Churchill - June 18, 1940

We, the undersigned, object to using the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States to assign blame for the 9/11 attacks anywhere other than where it properly belongs: on Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist network.

The purpose of the commission is to improve our security and intelligence capability to better prevent future attacks.

The commission should return to focusing on the future, instead of playing a blame-game about the past.
If you would like to sign this petition, visit here.

One of the founders of this group was Barbara Olson, who was killed on 9/11.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:00 AM

Our Curmudgeon Says: Time for CBS's Favorite Curmudgeon to Retire

You know what bugs Project 21 member Darryn "Dutch> Martin? Andy Rooney. Here’s what our curmudgeon has to say about the media’s favorite curmudgeon:

I just read an outrageous comment made by CBS talking head and syndicated columnist Andy Rooney. In his syndicated newspaper column, Rooney said the following:
Treating soldiers fighting their war as brave heroes is an old civilian trick designed to keep the soldiers at it. But you can be sure our soldiers in Iraq are not all brave heroes gladly risking their lives for us sitting comfortably back here at home.
Liberal bias in the media is no secret, but whether one is a liberal or conservative or whether they agree with the Bush Administration's policy on Iraq or not, Rooney's comments go way over the line and are just plain unacceptable!

Remember how liberals reacted to Rush Limbaugh regarding Limbaugh’s comments about NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb? That's nothing compared to how all freedom-loving Americans should respond to Rooney's flagrant belittling of America's troops who are paying the ultimate sacrifice for their nation and for the Iraqi people in the name of freedom and democracy. Who does he think he is?

One's freedom-of-speech notwithstanding, this is an egregious example of liberal media bias and arrogance gone too far. Andy Rooney has spit in the face of the American military and everything it stands for. For that, he should be promptly forced into (long overdue) retirement.

CBS and Tribune Media Services owes the entire country (especially our armed forces) a huge apology.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:34 AM

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Can a 9/11 Commission Reality Show Be Far Off?

Ed at Captain's Quarters blog has an excellent analysis today about the amount of time 9/11 Commission members have spent on talk shows. Ed's entire analysis is worth reading, but here's a teaser:
What we see now with 9/11 commissioners is the equivalent of the OJ jury coming out every night to debate the day's proceedings with Geraldo Rivera and Charles Grodin. National-security resources have been exposed in the media spotlight as witnesses are hauled before the camera by day and their testimony dissected every night by the people who are supposed to be listening with open minds...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:47 PM

Kyoto Protocol is a "Death Treaty," Says Russian Official

Andrei Illiaronov, an influential Russian economist close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has come under fire for saying: "'The Kyoto Protocol is a death treaty, no matter how strange this seems, because its main purpose is to stifle economic growth and economic activity in countries that assume obligations under it.'"

He's right, although he should have said "assume and fulfill." The EU assumed Kyoto obligations, but most of its member nations are not fulfilling them.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:33 PM

Where's Gorelick's Apology?

Husband David asks: If apologies are so important, where's Jamie Gorelick's apology?

On the whole, we'd rather hunt for terrorists than apologists. Richard Clarke's apology was theater. Theater doesn't save lives.

Former Navy Secretary John Lehman, a member of the 9/11 Commission, says the Commission is doing better work behind the scenes than Americans might think. He's a good man who has been right about many things; I hope he's right this time.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:26 PM

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

But, Mostly, He Talked About the Children

I want to share a letter I sent earlier this evening to Kirby Wilbur, a host on KVI in Seattle.

Thanks to Kirby's effort to spread the word about the need for care packages and notes of support for troops whose deployments have been extended, notes have been streaming in from individuals and families, telling us about the care packages they've assembled. And at least three businesses in the Seattle area that I know of (thanks to Kirby) are accepting contributions of items for the troops, which the businesses will then ship to Iraq. (If you live in the Seattle area and want to know the names of these businesses, drop me an email or listen to/call Kirby's show on 570 AM 5-9 AM weekdays.)

Regardless of where you live, if you are willing to consider sending a care package or a note, click here for information about suggested items and an address for shipping.

Special note to bloggers, journalists and talk show hosts: Please consider sharing the information about the need for care packages for men whose deployments were extended after their personal possessions were shipped home. (In many cases, these are the same men we see fighting on the news each night.) No link to this website is required -- you are welcome to use any of the the info here or in this blog about care packages without attribution.

Here's the note to Kirby, which really is a "thank you" to everyone who is participating in this project.
Kirby,

I've been sitting here trying to figure out how to express in words just how much difference the care packages and letters of support you and your listeners are sending are having and will have on the soldiers who are, as I write this, in pretty much constant action in Iraq. I don't know that it is going to be possible to communicate this adequately but I will try.

I should first mention that I don't have special expertise on what it is like to be a soldier in combat, nor have I ever been in Iraq. But what I have done is read e-mails written by a soldier while mortar shells literally were being lobbed at his building and he stayed at his terminal instead of running for cover in order to express his feelings about the notes of support and care packages because the best time to get a computer terminal is during an attack -- no one else wants it then, you see.

The men of the 16th Engineer Battalion and the 1st Armored Division of which they are a part have for the most part been deployed in Iraq for a year now. I've written to you and your listeners before about what many of these men feel about having their deployments unexpectedly extended at least another four months when they expected to be reunited with their wives and in many cases their children right about now. But there are other things that have been written to me that I hadn't shared: for example, how very strongly the soldiers in general care about what Americans back home are thinking. I have literally been told of soldiers crying when one of their fellow soldiers returned from R&R in the U.S. and reported that the American people are really behind them and that many people here "get it" in terms of the fact that what they are doing in Iraq is genuinely in the pursuit of good. Plain, old-fashioned goodness in a way that transcends politics, at least the domestic U.S. variety. In such an atmosphere, you can imagine how much notes of support, or care packages of any size, mean to soldiers and Marines.

There also is another factor that has been related to me in regard to the 16th Engineer Battalion, but I can't believe it would not apply equally to many other units that have been serving in Iraq for quite a while now. That factor is the children of Iraq. We think of ourselves as somewhat "adopting" a soldier when we send care packages to them. Well, in many ways the local children in Iraq adopted our soldiers long before we licked our first stamp on any box or letter. Our soldiers are beloved by those children. We can imagine what a unit of American soldiers can mean to a child, but the local kids also have become surrogates for the soldiers' own children. In many instances, a true bond has been formed.

Well, along with the news of the extended deployment comes the reality that many of our soldiers and Marines are on the move. We'll see the where and when on the news, but no news channel is likely to show soldiers saying goodbye -- in most cases, forever -- to little Iraqi children they have come to love.

But I don't want to give the impression that the tone of the e-mail communications I have seen is negative. In some ways, it is some of the most uplifting writing I have ever read, because these men truly believe in what they are doing. We know intellectually that the soldiers and Marines were deployed to Iraq to keep Americans safe from terrorists, and that improving the lives of ordinary Iraqis was not the reason Americans went to war. But that doesn't mean that strong bonds aren't being formed with ordinary Iraqis. Not all Iraqis, by a long shot, are bad guys. Our men truly want to leave them a functioning society where ordinary Iraqis can be safe and prosper in addition to creating a world where Americans can safely board airplanes. And they, meaning our men, want to know that the American people are with them on this.

Today an e-mail written by a soldier within the last 24 hours was read to me by one of his family members. He talked about what it was like to kill bad guys. He talked about how proud he was of his fellow soldiers for being careful to safeguard civilians even when snipers were shooting at them from within crowds, even if it meant not firing back. He talked about how much he wished he had some soap. But mostly, he talked about the children he had come to love in Iraq.

Sitting here in the U.S., we can't do much, at least directly, for those children. We can't fire back at the snipers hiding in crowds. But we can send notes of support. And soap.

So please know that the notes of support and care packages mean a lot. Probably more than I, a mere intermediary, have been able to properly say.

Thanks again to you and your listeners,

Amy

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:54 PM

Shelby Steele: Marriage is More Than Love and Fulfillment

Shelby Steele has a piece in The New Republic Online on gay marriage. It is part of a larger public conversation with Andrew Sullivan and is worth reading. Two sentences in particular:
"Marriage brings 'stability' to love by humbling it, by making it often less important than the responsibilities to family and community. When love and fulfillment are of first importance, marriage weakens as an institution, as the high divorce rates of recent decades illustrate."
A lot of people, including (unfortunately) married people, don't get this. It is an important point that in itself transcends the gay marriage debate.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:25 PM

Worth Noting

"...there are only two people in the world who can keep our soldiers and Marines from winning: you and me."

-Jack Kelly in April 11, 2004 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, citing the Tacitus blog

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:11 AM

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

1st Armored Division Told Staying Put

A brief AP story explaining why Joe Roche's division isn't coming home as scheduled.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:28 PM

Joe Roche Photos; Care Package Info

We've put up a succinct page for information about:
1) sending care packages to soldiers whose deployments were extended after their personal possessions were shipped home;

2) links to all the articles by or about Joe on this site;

3) some pictures of Joe. (Those of you who believe Joe is a fictional creation be will just have to trust that we did not make the pictures of Joe with Photoshop.)

_____

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:39 AM

Monday, April 12, 2004

It's Just CBS

The Travelling Shoes blog dissects the statistics behind Andy Rooney's controversial comments, and finds a few things Rooney clearly hadn't considered:
One indication that not all soldiers in Iraq are happy warriors is the report recently released by the Army showing that 23 of them committed suicide there last year. This is a dismaying figure. If 22 young men and one woman killed themselves because they couldn't take it, think how many more are desperately unhappy but unwilling to die.
Andy Rooney is a big-name media star with a nice salary and a staff. Too bad his research isn't even blog-quality.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:09 PM

The World Bank's Mission Creep (and Other Snoozers)

Jeff Jacoby makes some good points in the Boston Globe April 11 about the degree to which our foreign policy establishment was monitoring the threat from bin Laden in the days before 9-11.

Thanks to Volokh Conspiracy for the pointer.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 8:51 PM

Hang In There, Says Vietnam Vet

This letter appeared in the Maui (Hawaii) News on Easter Sunday, and caught my eye (via the Internet, alas):
Life on ground different from what's reported

Congratulations for having the guts and impartiality to spot the article of U.S. soldier in Iraq, Joe Roche, baring his soul (Opinion, April 7). "Why don't they see the good we're doing here? The news you are hearing from stateside is awfully depressing and negative."

This soldier exists each day in dust, heat, sweat, thirst, flies, danger, hunger, exhaustion, uncertainty and working seven days a week with sleep deprivation, yet he pleads, "Our mission is vital. Our efforts to train . . . Iraqis to police themselves are bearing fruit."

Having been a combat soldier in Vietnam, I can identify with Roche's frustrations about the shortcomings of our media. We military reporters wrote thousands of positive stories. Some, like me, lived with the troops during search and destroy missions where we became intimately involved with the communist terror attempting to inundate the countryside. Our positive stories of construction and care never made the cherished national news.

In retrospect, reporters from the major news facilities shacked up along Tu Do Street with the finest women, attended the morning MACV briefing, typed their report while incorporating the particular slant required by their publishers and adjourned to some of the finest restaurants in Cholon on the company tab.

Hang in there, Roche. Americans from my generation support you. We remember the time when it was possible to board an airliner without our personal belongings being searched for bombs and weapons. This is what you are fighting for.

Ray Pezzoli Jr.
Kihei

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:02 PM

Almasi Has Thoughts for Howard Stern

NCPPR executive director David W. Almasi would like to point something out to Howard Stern:
On April 12, in between complaints about being fined by the FCC for indecent on-air conduct, Howard Stern and his crew discussed a weekend dinner they'd just enjoyed together. With ten of them gathered at a fine suburban Connecticut eatery, they spoke loudly about in-studio events that could never be aired due to content restrictions. Their conversation was reportedly so graphic that a nearby table that couldn't help but hear them asked to be moved. One of their former neighbors gave them an glare while relocating.

"My sense of community standards is different," Stern said in shock after first learning about it while on the air.

Exactly. And that is why he is being fined by the FCC. It's not a conspiracy concocted by President Bush, Secretary of State Powell and the religious right as Stern often rants. Instead, he hasn't noticed that he's already pushed his way out of the envelope. Even though the FCC is guilty of not setting clear standards and enforcing them, on-air talent like Stern and so many others who who may now find themselves looking for employment have a duty to police themselves when it comes to questions of good taste.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:49 PM

Public Transport Disincentives

Thoughts from David Almasi:
In the Washington, D.C. area, they are contemplating raising the rates for public transportation yet again. Actually, you can consider them raised since the hearing process and deliberations are merely a formality. It's telling that, when a fare increase was "considered" last year, the signs with the new rates were installed in stations in advance of the final board vote.

A rate increase will be a disincentive to use the system. I live just outside the Washington Beltway. I am considered close to D.C., but I am equidistant to two of the end-of-the-line stations. If I take Metro to work these days, it costs me $5 round trip for the train and $3 to park. Taking a bus to the station is just a little bit less. To drive and park in a lot near my office is currently the same price, but I avoid the crowded rail cars, perpetually-broken escalators and the knowledge that I have to wait to get all the way home if I need to go to the bathroom (after years of fighting, Metro finally opened their spacious bathrooms to the public for a short time before declaring it a security risk in the wake of the bombings in Spain). Plus I can run my errands on the way to pick up my wife.

When the rates are raised in June, it will be an even greater financial disadvantage to use public transit. It will also make it harder on the people who can least afford it. Rather than tightening their belt (they recently spent a mint remodeling their legal offices and current and retired employees ride free on and off duty), they are shaking down the riders. Will the last rider on the system please turn out the lights?
Sure makes me glad we did the environmentally-sensitive thing and located our headquarters near a subway station.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:46 PM

Andy Rooney - Our Soldiers in Iraq aren't Heroes

Contrast what Andy Rooney says with what Joe Roche says.

Among other things, Andy Rooney says: "Most of the reporting from Iraq is about death and destruction. We don't learn much about what our soldiers in Iraq are thinking or doing. There's no Ernie Pyle to tell us, and, if there were, the military would make it difficult or impossible for him to let us know."

I seriously wonder about old men who don't know recent history. This war is the most covered war ever. There are plenty of "Ernie Pyles," except probably none of them are named "Ernie Pyle." Plus, I'd bet all my money that no combat soldier on D-Day e-mailed their thoughts home to be published on public websites. Even paper mail from soldiers then was carefully censored -- as were Ernie Pyle's reports. The e-mail isn't.

Do you ever wonder where Andy Rooney gets these ideas?

_____

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:29 PM

Thanks to all the Kirbys

KVI Seattle talk show host Kirby Wilbur is one of many helping pass the word about the importance of care packages for our soldiers in Iraq who have had their deployments extended through summer 2004 (and other military personnel serving overseas as well).

I hope Kirby won't mind me saying this, but he is one of the more influential talk show hosts most people outside of his listening area have never heard of. Just to name one thing: His work at KVI has a lot to do with the fact that Hillary Clinton' health care plan was never inflicted upon America. We tend these days to take it for granted that that montrous plan was never approved, but defeating it was an uphill battle.

Conservative leader Morton Blackwell has a saying that goes something like this (I'm paraphrasing): "never trust someone unitl they've stayed with you in a cause they knew was losing." I've mangled that, but Morton basically means is joining a winning team is easy. The true measure of a person is the work they do when they don't expect any glory, but fight anyway.

There are a lot of good folks like Kirby out there, working hard and not getting as many kudos as they deserve. I don't just mean talk show hosts, but volunteers, donors, bloggers, letters-to-editor writers, and many, many others who are putting their brain power and energies to work to make America a better place the best way they know how.

We should all stop a minute every now and then and think about how much we owe all of them.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:42 PM

"I Got My Brothers Here. They Always Watch My Back."

Reading this story makes me proud to be an American.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:38 AM

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Democrats.com Claims Soldier Who Proclaims News is Good in Iraq Doesn't Exist

Isn't this charming? It is a screenshot from Democrats.com, datelined April 8.



The 16th Combat Engineer Battalion, unlike Democrats.com, has better things to do than play games. Right now, the unit is in the thick of things fighting the Sadr insurgency. In other words, making the world safer for the people at Democrats.com.

Too bad the people who run Democrats.com don't appreciate their hard work and many sacrifices.

Read about Joe here (the essay Democrats.com complains about above) and here, and read about why his unit is in special need now of care packages and notes of support here.

Watch this blog for more from Joe, including some snapshots he sent from Iraq. If Democrats.com apologizes, we'll post that in this blog, too.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:11 AM

News for the Ages

He is Risen!

Luke 24:5

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:35 AM

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Help a Soldier, If You Can

As blog readers and visitors to our website know, the National Center is in contact with a soldier, Army Specialist Joe Roche, who is serving with the 16th Combat Engineer Battalion in Baghdad. This unit is currently in active combat.

Joe wrote an essay for us showing a picture of the war effort that isn't quite what some of us have been seeing on the news. You can read it here or in a variety of newspapers across the country that were kind enough to publish it. A follow-up message Joe sent us can be found here.

The unit has been in Iraq since the start of the war and was to have been relieved by the 1st Cavalry right about now. However, about two days ago, after all the soldiers' personal effects had be sent to Germany, their deployment was unexpectedly extended by at least four months.

Although Joe tells me that morale in his unit is generally good, the 285 men and women (all but about six are men) of the unit are understandably disappointed that they will not be spending the summer with their spouses and children. Some of the men have babies they have never seen, and had been expecting to meet for the first time in a week or so. Now they won't.

Making it harder is the fact that the men have no diversions nor even the small material comforts they had in recent months -- things like magazines, hand-held games, CDs and snacks -- as all their possessions are now in Germany.

We are, therefore, spreading the word that it would mean a great deal to these men to receive care packages, or even simple letters of support, from the American public. I have an address for the unit and a list of suggested items, most of which are quite inexpensive for us stateside, but unavailable to the soldiers. I have included that information at the bottom of this blog entry and hope that blog readers might consider sending these soldiers a little something. Postage for shipping is the same as shipping to a U.S. address, whether you ship something yourself or order something online.

I'll conclude this blog entry with part of an e-mail I received from Joe today: "...back to the care packages help. I've run this by Lt. Col. Kem and Sgt. Major Placeras -- the Big Bosses of our battalion. I can't describe to you how much relief was on their faces when I told them that we might be able to get some care packages. I know neither of you are sure you can get anyone to do this, ...but forgive me please, the pressure is on."

----

List of good care package items and address for shipping them, as supplied by Army Specialist Joe Roche of the 16th Combat Engineer Battalion in Baghdad

Powdered Kool-Aid and Gatorade
Batteries
Magazines
Beef jerky
Baby wipes
Hand-hand game players
CDs and CD players
DVDs and DVD players
Paperbacks
Cookies
Chips
Snacks of any kind (especially ones that don't melt)
Tobacco products

The address for shipping is:
1LT Stephen Oliver
ATTN: Soldier Care/Support
Headquarters, 16th Engineer Battalion
Unit 92890
APO AE 09324-2890

Later note: This address is now out of date.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:06 AM

Friday, April 09, 2004

Nice Mail

We're getting flooded with e-mail these days.

We've received many, many e-mails of support for Joe Roche and his fellow soldiers in the 16th Combat Engineer Battalion stationed in Baghdad, all of which we have forwarded to Iraq. Thanks to all of you who have sent them. If you haven't yet, but wish to, use this link. If you want to learn more about Joe and his unit, visit here and here, and watch this blog, as more news is coming soon.

Then a flood started in favor of Project 21's call, in concert with others, for an investigation of the Congressional Black Caucus in relation to recent events in Haiti. To be fair, one person wrote a reasonably polite complaint about Project 21's stance on this, but all the rest of the e-mails, most from self-identified Haitians or Haitian-Americans, have been enthusiastically supportive.

And now we are receiving e-mails like this one relating to Dr. Rice's testimony Thursday: "I want you to know how very proud I am of your conservative stance! I did not know you existed, until hearing, some of you were represented at the 9/11 commission today with Condi Rice! She is fantastic, and those Senators who were so 'rude' to her, should be taken to the woodshed!!!!! May you grow in number and spread all over this Republic!! - JH"

We usually get hostile mail. It's more fun to get mail like this.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:21 AM

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Black Conservative to Discuss Rice Testimony on CNN

According to RushLimbaugh.com, CNN had Anita Hill on the network as an advance commentator in preparation for Dr. Condoleezza Rice's testimony before the 9-11 Commission today.

What's the connection between Dr. Rice and Professor Hill? Deep knowledge of national security issues? Both experts on terrorism? Both high-ranking White House staffers who know how the federal government works?

Nah! Both black women!

I can count on zero fingers how many white men were booked for a white man's point of view when Dick Clarke testified -- and rightly so. Good grief.

On a related topic, Project 21 member Mychal Massie participated in a CNN focus group about Dr. Rice's appearance today. It will be broadcast on CNN at 8 PM and 2 AM tonight, April 8, Eastern.

I suppose CNN picked him in part because Myke is black, but Myke's also been quite involved in efforts to support the war on terrorism (as the post directly below shows).

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:35 PM

Rallying for the Troops

WHP Talk Radio 580 in Harrisburg, PA has a a nice photo online of Project 21 member Mychal Massie speaking at a pro-America rally on the steps of the Pennsylvania state capitol building last weekend.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:58 PM

Rice Rocked

Project 21 member Darryn "Dutch" Martin has some comments about National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice's testimony this morning before the 9-11 Commission:
If there were any doubts about Condoleezza Rice's ability as a capable and competent national security advisor, those doubts were probably dashed with her testimony before the 9-11 Commission. She handled herself like a true champion, despite the occasional partisan sniping from some Democratic members of the Commission. She knows her stuff like the back of hand, and it was virtually impossible to break her down (despite Bob Kerry's obviously partisan attempts to do so).

Now what the 9-11 Commission needs to do is call Bill Clinton's NSA chief, Sandy Berger, to testify in the same kind of public circus Dr. Rice had to endure. How many of you think THAT will ever happen?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:27 PM

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Rwandan Leader Kagame blames France as 10th Anniversary of Genocide Marked

A rather sobering story from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: Kagame blames France as Rwandans mark 10th Anniversary of Genocide

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:10 PM

"My Battalion is Right in the Middle of Sadr's Challenge" -- An E-Mail from Joe Roche

Joe Roche's essay giving us a soldier's view of what is going on in Iraq has now been run by several newspapers, cited on the RushLimbaugh.com main page (listed as "Great Letter to the Editor" in the "stack of stuff"), on the front page of Lucianne.com yesterday, on some blogs (for example, Blackfive), and elsewhere.

There's also an amusing discussion on Free Republic as to whether Joe is real and if he has a Master's Degree. I told Joe via e-mail about the Free Republic debate and he managed to see it (it is not easy for him to view things online because he has to rely on a weak satellite connection for his Internet access). He got quite a kick out of the thread there and has a message for the Freepers: yes, he is real, and no, he does not have a Master's Degree.

But on to the more important issue -- Joe's comments on what is going on in Iraq right now. An excerpt from his e-mail of this morning, U.S. Eastern time:
...Let me tell you, it is maddening to watch the news. Even now! I've told you this before, but I'll repeat it for clarity -- My unit, the 16th En Bn of the 1st AD, covers Sadr City and the bulk of the most intense areas of downtown, mostly east side of the Tigris. If you look at a map, pretty much everything north from the Palestine & Sheraton hotels north and east. My point is that my battalion is right in the middle of Sadr's challenge.

I would like to tell you a zillion things, but for the moment allow me to tell you that none of this here is a surprise or unplanned. We've been on these very current events for several months.

However, NONE OF THIS is the disaster bad news that you are seeing on CNN and others. Let me give you perhaps one of the best examples. A police station that we covered and set up last summer in Al-Shawla made the news yesterday because, SHOCKINGLY!!! it was attacked by two RPGs. Now, Amy, here is the reality....

Last summer that very police station was HIT 2-3 times every damn night for 20 consecutive days while my battalion and the 2nd LCR were working to secure it. In this current crisis, it wasn't even hit -- the RPGs flew over the bldg, and there were only 2 fired in one night.

Basically what I think is happening reminds me of Peter Breastrup's (sp?) book, The Big Story, about the press coverage of the Tet Offensive. CNN and most others are hold-up in the Palestine and Sheraton hotels (which my unit put the "blast deflectors" and hesco bastions around!) because they can't get around the city w/ us as they'd like. They get their two minutes on tv and make it seem like they are in the middle of Tet Two.

...Ok, I could go on. Just to give you a heads up, when Sadr is captured, there may be an initial explosion like happened after Israel took out Yassin. But it will pass and the most senior Shia clerics like Sistani will re-assert control.

I liken this to going in for an operation to remove a small cancer tumor. It is a painful and disruptive procedure, but it is necessary to make things better.

…getting an accurate picture showing the positive side of things is never more critical than now.

Take Care...

-Joe
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:18 AM

A Soldier Assures Us: Our Progress is Amazing

Normally, I don't post the entire text of our papers (even the short ones) on this blog. I am going to make an exception now, however, given the content of our newest paper and current events in Iraq.

The piece, Keep the Faith: A Letter from Iraq, was written by Joe Roche, who is on active duty with the U.S. Army in Baghdad. I'm pleased to report this essay also has been published this week by the Houston Chronicle and other papers nationwide.


Keep the Faith: A Letter from Iraq


by Joe Roche


I'm in Baghdad, Iraq.

I'm a soldier with the U.S. Army serving in the 16th Combat Engineer Battalion.

The news you are hearing stateside is awfully depressing and negative. The reality is we are accomplishing a tremendous amount here, and the Iraqi people are not only benefiting greatly, but are enthusiastically supportive.

My job is mostly to be the driver of my platoon's lead Humvee. I see the missions our Army is performing, and I interact closely with the Iraqi people. Because of this, I know how successful and important our work is.

My battalion carries out dozens of missions all over the city -- missions that are improving peoples' lives. We have restored schools and universities, hospitals, power plants and water systems. We have engineered new infrastructure projects and much more. We have also brought security and order to many of Baghdad's worst areas -- areas once afflicted with chaos and brutality. Our efforts to train vast numbers of Iraqis to police and secure the city's basic law and order are bearing fruit.

Our mission is vital. We are transforming a once very sick society into a hopeful place. Dozens of newspapers and the concepts of freedom of religious worship and expression are flowering here. So, too, are educational improvements.

This is the work of the U.S. military.

Our progress is amazing. Many people who knew only repression and terror now have hope in their heart and prosperity in their grasp. Every day the Iraqi people stream out into the streets to cheer and wave at us as we drive by. When I'm on a foot patrol, walking among a crowd, countless people thank us -- repeatedly.

I realize the shocking image of a dead soldier or a burning car is more sellable than boring, detailed accounts of our rebuilding efforts. This is why you hear bad news and may be receiving an incorrect picture.

Baghdad has more than 5 million inhabitants. If these people were in an uprising against the United States, which you might think is happening, we would be overwhelmed in hours. There are weapons everywhere, and though we are working hard to gather them all, we simply can't.

Our Army is carrying out approximately 1,700 convoys and patrols each day. Only a tiny percentage actually encounter hostile action. My unit covers some of the worst and most intense areas, and I have seen some of the most tragic attacks and hostility, such as the bombing of the United Nations headquarters. I'm not out of touch with the negative side of things. In fact, I think my unit has it harder than many other Army units in this whole operation. That said, despite some attacks, the overall picture is one of extreme success and much thanks.

The various terrorist enemies we are facing in Iraq are really aiming at you back in the United States. This is a test of will for our country. We soldiers of yours are doing great and scoring victories in confronting the evil terrorists.

The reality is one of an ever-increasing defeat of the enemies we face. Our enemies are therefore more desperate. They are striking out more viciously and indiscriminately. I realize this is causing Americans stress, and I assure you it causes us stress, too.
When I was a civilian, I spent time as a volunteer with the Israeli army. I assure you we are not facing the hostility Israelis face. Here in Iraq, we Americans are welcomed by most Iraqis.

I'm not trying to sound like a big tough guy. I'm scared every day, and pray before every mission for our safety and success. This is a combat zone. We are in the heart of the world's leading terrorist birthing society. I remember well how families of suicide bombers who attacked in Israel received tens of thousands of dollars from Saddam for their kins' horrendous crimes. A generation of Iraqis was growing up in a Stalinist worship of such terrorism.

They are no longer.

Instead, Iraqis today are embracing freedom and the birth of democracy. With this comes hope for the future. Yes, there are terrorists who wish to strike these things down, but this is a test of will we must win. We can do this, as long as Americans at home keep faith with the soldiers in this war.

We are Americans, after all. We can and must win this test. That is all it is.


###

Joe Roche serves with the U.S. Army's 16th Combat Engineer Battalion in Iraq and is an adjunct fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, a Washington think-tank.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:17 AM

Some Thoughts on Racial Code Words

Some thoughts on racial code words from Ed Haislmaier:
Writing in the American Spectator, David Hogberg offers the interesting thesis that liberals are really using a "racial code word" when they attack "outsourcing." As Hogberg notes:
"For the uninitiated, racial code words are words politicians (usually Republicans) are accused of using to supposedly help them win votes by raising whites' fears of minorities. According to pundit Clarence Page, racial code words include terms like "states' rights," "crime in the streets," and "welfare queens." Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. has even suggested that "tax-and-spend liberals" qualifies. The concept was trotted out again during the controversy over the University of Michigan affirmative action cases early last year. In a column in AsianWeek, Phil Tajitsu Nash lamented that "President Bush is continuing to use racial code words...such as 'quota.'" Earlier this year, Howard Dean similarly tagged President Bush: "The President used the word 'quota' five or six times. The word 'quota' every politician and every pollster in America knows is a race coded word deliberately designed to appeal to people's fears that they may lose their job, or their place at [a] university to a member of a community of color."
Hogberg's point is that, when viewed through the left's prism of omnipresent racism, attacks on "outsourcing" can also be seen as thinly disguised appeals to bigotry. After all, those attacking outsourcing are appealing to the fears of (mainly, white) Americans that they will lose their jobs to (mainly, black, brown and yellow) foreigners. (I haven't heard a lot of complaints about American jobs being outsourced to white Europeans. In fact, the left seemed quite upset when the Administration threatened to cut the French and Germans out of contracts for rebuilding Iraq -- and keep those jobs with Americans.) Thus, such a tactic can be seen as not merely xenophobic, but racist as well.

Of course, there is always the possibility that when a politician blames his opponent for aiding and abetting the "outsourcing" of American jobs, that he is really expressing a legitimate disagreement over economic policy. But that would mean that when other politicians attack their opponents for being " soft on crime," or trampling "states rights," or supporting "quotas" that they are really just expressing legitimate differences over law enforcement policies, constitutional law, or basic fairness in the workplace and academia.

Gosh, what a novel idea! Lots of people might hold differing opinions on a range of issues for reasons other than race. Naaah. That's probably too "simplistic" an explanation.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:00 AM

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Environmentalist Predictions: Why They Don't Come True

I just spotted this on the Reason magazine website: testimony by Ron Bailey before Congress in February on the topic of why past predictions by the environmental movement haven't come true.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:04 AM

Monday, April 05, 2004

Greenie Watch

John Ray has a new blog, Greenie Watch. The early entries, such as Queen Victoria A Greenie? are enjoyable.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:49 PM

Some Predictions Don't Come True

John Ray at the Dissecting Leftism blog makes an interesting observation today. He compares reporting on AIDS in the 80s and early 90s (specifically, that the disease would ravage the American heterosexual community) to the global warming scare today.

Yes, folks, it is possible for the mainstream news media to report something as an accepted scientific fact, almost a certainly -- and be wrong about it.

Which does not prove, of course, that the theory known as global warming is wrong -- only that the fact that it gets a lot of good press doesn't mean it is right.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:37 AM

Friday, April 02, 2004

EPA Asked to Supply Information on Grants to Group that Protested at Rove's House

Continuing the discussion about the DREAM Act and the National People's Action group (from posts here, here, and here), I'll share a copy of a press release issued today by the office of Senator James Inhofe, who chairs the Senate committee with EPA oversight:
For Immediate Release: April 2, 2004
Contact - Will Hart: 202-224-5762


INHOFE QUESTIONS POSSIBLE GOVERNMENT FUNDING OF PROTEST GROUP

Asks EPA for information on organization that recently protested White House Advisor Karl Rove's home


WASHINGTON, DC - Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, sent a letter today to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Mike Leavitt, asking for information regarding possible EPA grants awarded to an interest group - National People's Action - that recently picketed the personal residence of Presidential advisor Karl Rove. The protest occurred when he and his children were home and that U.S. Secret Service and D.C. Metropolitan Police were required to disperse the group from Mr. Rove's lawn.

Inhofe held a hearing on EPA grants oversight on March 3rd of this year to look into the grants management practices at the EPA which have been a subject of criticism by the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. General Accounting Office, and the EPA Inspector General for the last several years.

Inhofe writes, "I believe that grants can be one of the best tools to accomplish the EPA's mission of protecting human health and the environment; however, it would be disturbing to learn that the federal government is subsidizing interest groups or their affiliates that conduct themselves in such a manner as the National People's Action has demonstrated."

The following information on EPA grants or contracts awarded directly to or subcontracted by other grantees to the National People's Action and the Sunflower Community Action over the past five years has been requested:

* Amounts of any grants or contracts
* Beginning and ending dates of any grants or contracts
* Copies of grant contracts or contract awards
* Copies of all grants or contracts deliverables
* Names of project officers for any grants or contracts
* Names of approving officers for any grants or contracts
* Approving office within the Agency

A full copy of the letter is attached:

###

April 2, 2004

Honorable Michael O. Leavitt
Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator Leavitt,

In an article featured in Washington Post on Monday March 29, I was alarmed to read that an interest group picketed the personal residence of Presidential advisor Karl Rove when he and his children were home and that U.S. Secret Service and D.C. Metropolitan Police were required to disperse the group from Mr. Rove's lawn. I was alarmed even greater to read in the same article that this group also intended to picket the homes of Secretaries Chao and Veneman. The article ended with a quote from the leader of the interest group stating that they intended to possibly return Mr. Rove's home.

However, what may cause the greatest alarm, is that I understand this group is at least partially funded by the federal government receiving grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
I would like to request the following information on EPA grants or contracts awarded directly to or subcontracted by other grantees to the National People's Action and the Sunflower Community Action over the past five years:

* Amounts of any grants or contracts
* Beginning and ending dates of any grants or contracts
* Copies of grant contracts or contract awards
* Copies of all grants or contracts deliverables
* Names of project officers for any grants or contracts
* Names of approving officers for any grants or contracts
* Approving office within the Agency

I would like this information by Monday April 12, 2004.

As you know, the Environment and Public Works Committee takes its oversight responsibilities seriously in regards to federal grants management. Grants management practices at the EPA have been a subject of criticism by the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. General Accounting Office, and the EPA Inspector General for the last several years. I announced at the Committee's March 3, 2004 hearing that we are going to stay on top of this issue until real changes are made. I believe that grants can be one of the best tools to accomplish the EPA's mission of protecting human health and the environment; however, it would be disturbing to learn that the federal government is subsidizing interest groups or their affiliates that conduct themselves in such a manner as the National People's Action has demonstrated.

I appreciate your cooperation with this request.

Sincerely,

JAMES M. INHOFE
Chairman

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:33 PM

Regulations keep Forest Fire Victims from Rebuilding

One of my stronger memories from 2003 is listening to talk show host Roger Hedgecock, who is based in San Diego, describe the enormity of the forest fires that took place in California last November.

As luck would have it, Hedgecock guest-hosted the Rush Limbaugh program at the time, so millions of Americans like myself, for whom the forest fires were a far-away story, suddenly felt as though we were part of it.

It was an illusion, of course. Most Americans weren't part of it at all. We went back to our daily lives and our air-conditioned houses while the victims of the California forest fires, like the victims of other forest fires, were left to pick up the pieces.

Only in some cases, it seems, the victims aren't being allowed to pick up the pieces. the government won't let them.

As readers of this blog may recall, last November I shared the story of Ron Nehring, who once served with great distinction here at The National Center as Project 21's director.

Ron's home these days is in San Diego County. He had the ill-luck to be in a neighborhood that was hit hard, though he had more luck than many of his neighbors: His house survived.

I heard from Ron today. Here's part of what he told me:
"They just started work on the first new/rebuilt house on my street.

About ten other neighbors are still living in motor homes...

Many homes in my general vicinity will not be rebuilt because the building code for septic systems, etc. has been so radically changed since the homes were first built 40 years ago.

In Harbison Canyon and Crest, people are on septic systems rather than sewers. The parameters for those systems are such that some people will not be permitted to rebuild because their homes are too close to one another, and no sewer system installation is likely any time soon.

Many of these same homeowners were uninsured.

Hence, because of these policies, they went from owning a home on a parcel, to owning a worthless piece of land on which they can't build anything.
Way to go, government.

First, idiotic government policies help lead to monster forest fires (see our Forest Policy Information Center for more details). Then, government steps in the way of people who are trying to recover.

I'm not surprised this atrocity isn't getting attention here in the East, but Ron tells me it isn't getting much publicity in California, either.

Maybe we bloggers should spread the word.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:51 PM

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Liberal Media Takedown: "Get Condi"

Atlanta-based but nationally-syndicated talk host Neal Boortz, a libertarian who speaks his mind forcefully and often with wit (as you might guess by reading his bio), has an insightful commentary on his website today on the news media's recent treatment of Condolezza Rice.

It concludes:
"And by the way...can you imagine if the shoe was on the other foot.... if Republicans were attacking a Democrat's national security advisor (who happens to be a black woman?) The cries of racism would be deafening."
Not for the first time, I agree with Neal.

Neal, by the way, has 4 million listeners. He's been a talk show host since 1969. Meanwhile, Al Franken thinks he can change America by being a talk host for a year. And Al Franken, though a professional comedian, isn't nearly as funny as Neal.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:20 PM

Senators: It is Time to Break Your Silence

Another set of ads are being released on Memogate by the Center for Individual Freedom.

A brief section of the story from Bobby Eberle of Talon News:
"The time has long passed for senators on both sides of the aisle to break their silence on the content of these memos," said Jeffrey Mazzella, the Center's Executive Director. "Allegations of cash for judges; possible attempts to fix pending cases; what more do senators need to call for an investigation? And what more does the normally watchful media need to begin asking tough questions on behalf of the public?"

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:25 PM

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