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OpenMarket: June 2007

  • Reid Removed Limit on Welfare for Amnestied Illegal Aliens

    June 27, 2007
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) omitted a limit on welfare for amnestied illegal aliens previously adopted by the Senate when he revived the Senate immigration bill supported by Ted Kennedy and George Bush. In reviving the bill, Reid included a "clay pigeon" amendment that supposedly included all the amendments passed by the Senate to the original version of the immigration bill. But although Sen. Reid included all the anti-business amendments to the bill, such as limits on guest-worker programs and high-skilled immigrants, he left out an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) that would have protected taxpayers. The Sessions amendment, agreed to by a majority of the Senate, would have prevented those who were once illegal aliens from receiving the earned-income...
  • Next: Mandatory equal air time for rock and disco

    June 27, 2007
    Isn't it comforting that Dick Durbin is watching out for Americans' impressionable minds? He recently told The Hill, “It's time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine...I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they're in a better position to make a decision.” Durbin's attitude is old-fashioned alright, in two ways. It betrays an old-fashioned paternalistic distrust of the public being easily manipulated by the media. And it's also old-fashioned in its willful ignorance of new media. Remember that when the Federal Communications Commission dropped the Fairness Doctrine in the 1980s, cable TV was young and the Web did not exist. This idiocy would be surprising from anyone other than a politician. What other class of people would...
  • Gouged by the Government

    June 27, 2007
    Here's what (state) regulators can do for you: fine a gas station owner for giving a two-cent a gallon discount to senior citizens. That's the story - grandma and grandpa are getting slightly cheaper gasoline, and officials from the Wisconsin state government are there to put an end to it. The agency in charge of confiscating candy from small children must have the week off. Here are the details, from the Associated Press' Ryan J. Foley:
    [Raj] Bhandari, who owns Center City BP in Merrill, Wis., about 150 miles north of Madison, stopped offering discounts of 2 cents per gallon to senior citizens and 3 cents per gallon for donors to a youth hockey league after being warned by state regulators in April the programs may violate the law. Gasoline sales dropped by about 20...
  • Radio Frequency Your Way to Good Health

    June 27, 2007
    AFP reports on a new study by the American Medical Association recommending the implantation of RFID tags to carry medical information in case of an emergency. This, of course, is an excellent idea, especially for people with particular allergies or medical conditions which could complicate emergency care. There are some practical questions to work out - such as how you keep something the size of a grain of rice from moving around under your skin - but in general, the technology is ready to be deployed widely and start saving lives. Naturally some patients have privacy concerns, especially about "active" versus "passive" tags, but these also need to be put into perspective. Particularly if you are contemplating a stripped-down version of a medical RFID tag with, say,...
  • Supreme Court Denies Property Owners Relief from Harrassment

    June 27, 2007
    On Monday, the Supreme Court weakened property owners' protection against government harassment in Wilkie v. Robbins.  Law Professor Ilya Somin explains why the decision was wrongly decided here. Plaintiff Harvey Robbins described an extended campaign of harrassment and intimidation against him by government officials seeking to obtain an easement across his land. But in a 7-2 decision on Monday, the Supreme Court held that he could not obtain relief either under the Fifth Amendment (through a so-called Bivens action) or under RICO, the federal racketeering statute. Robbins ran a private cattle and commercial guest ranch in Wyoming.   His ranch extends for 40 miles, occasionally interspersed with property owned by the federal government....
  • Shining a Spotlight on Anti-DDT Activists

    June 27, 2007
    A story in today's Mail and Guardian, an online African newspaper, highlights First Lady Laura Bush's trip to Africa, where she is "shining a spotlight on malaria and aids." The story offers great insights into the malaria crisis and the dire impacts of activist campaigns that prevent DDT spraying. Some sections are worth quoting:
    'We need DDT because there is no other insecticide which is as effective and can be used so successfully to control malaria,' said Pierre Guillet, of the WHO's anti-malaria campaign in Geneva The WHO long promoted insecticide treated nets as the main preventive weapon against malaria. But the stubbornly high death toll—and the success of DDT-spraying in countries such as South Africa and Swaziland in virtually eradicating the...
  • All Real Crimes in Hot Springs Now Solved

    June 27, 2007
    Apparently, in Arkansas, skateboarding is a crime. Witness the ridiculous overreaction of one Hot Springs police officer to the threat of youngsters on skateboards. Law enforcement pulls a jerk move, and YouTube is there:

    Binary Data
  • Meet Marc "Brass Knuckles" Morano

    June 26, 2007
    Our good friend Marc Morano, communications director for the minority staff at Senate EPW, is treated to a "Hill People" profile (sub. req'd.) in National Journal this week. In surprising news, who knew he also wrote for The New Republic?
    In his first year on the Hill, Morano has gained attention for strongly criticizing several prominent environmental reporters and for crashing the Senate Web site. "As I like to half-kiddingly say, it's one of the few jobs in Washington where you go to work every day and decide how we can critique and essentially attack the mainstream media," he said. A former reporter for Rush Limbaugh, Morano is pushing committee Republicans to take a "new media" approach to communications, using talk radio, cable news programs, and the Internet to spread...
  • Progressives engage in globalization debate

    June 26, 2007
    The Democratic Leadership Council — home to progressive Democrats -- last week announced a new Global Economy Project, whose mission is —
    . . . to develop progressive national policies designed to help preserve America's role as the global economic leader in the 2010s, and to help workers and families manage the stresses and take advantage of the opportunities created by the rapidly evolving global economy.
    Now, I'm somewhat skeptical of Progressives' history in the U.S. of using government institutions managed by the intellectual elite as their means-to-the-ends of a better, fairer society. (See just one of Fred Smith's many writings on this topic.) However, I'm a bit encouraged by the DLC's new project that seems to challenge...
  • Labor senior groups' gravy train gets lumpy

    June 26, 2007
    Earlier today at the Heritage Foundation, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao highlighted some of the Labor Department's accomplishments during her tenure. I found of special note her mention of the competitive bidding of grants for subsidized senior employment under Title V of the Older Americans Act, which, she said, had previously gone to only a handful of groups. Not to toot my own horn too loudly, but this topic is of special interest to me, since in 2001 I documented (with help from my then-colleague Christophery Yablonski and John Samples of the Cato Insitute) how those grants have helped subsidize political activity by the AFL-CIO-backed National Council of Senior Citizens (NCSC), which later became the Alliance for...

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