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OpenMarket: November 2007

  • More on private preservation

    November 5, 2007
    Eli's post about historic preservation and his mention of D.C.'s Meridian Hill Park has a lesson for preservationists who promote government as the savior of historic buildings and neighborhoods. I've lived a block away from Meridian Hill Park for over 30 years. In the seventies and eighties, as managed by the U.S. Park Service, the wonderful cascading fountains weren't operating, some of the stonework was vandalized, steps were crumbling, graffiti was displayed on the padlocked restrooms. The park and its adjacent streets became known for vandalism and muggings, and drugs deals gone violent. Only in daylight would a cautious person venture to visit it. Here's a Washington Post article from 1981 about the dark side of the park...
  • Immunity for Telecom Companies

    November 5, 2007
    In today's New York Times, former attorney general John Ashcroft explains why it would be harmful and risky to allow lawsuits to continue against telecommunications companies for cooperating with federal antiterrorism surveillance programs after 9/11. Similar arguments were made earlier by other former attorneys general, such as Benjamin Civiletti, who served in the Carter Administration, and Dick Thornburgh. They note that there has been "a flood of class-action lawsuits seeking to impose massive liability on phone companies for allegedly answering the government's call for help" in the aftermath of 9/11. Phone companies are confronted by demands for billions of...
  • Draft Gore, Seriously

    November 5, 2007
    The Draft Gore for ‘08 campaign is picking up steam. According to the Draft Gore Newsletter (sign up here!), signatures are piling up (more than 200,000!) in the wake of the Campaign's full page advertisement in the New York Times last week. Soon, Draft Gore '08 will debut a 30 second TV spot (view it here!). Even though I think Al Gore is a demagogue with dangerous ideas, the Draft Gore '08 team excites me to no end. The Goracle is already batting 0 percent in presidential contests, and an electoral defeat would be just the antidote to the nasty case of sermon-itus he contracted in Scandinavia.
  • The Cult of Historical Preservation

    November 5, 2007
    The D.C. Preservation League recently announced its 2007 list of "most endangered" properties. While there's nothing wrong with historical preservation per se, the recent list shows why and how the preservationists have transformed themselves from a sensible, aesthetically concerned citizen's movement into a quasi-religious calling. Because of D.C.'s status as a master-planned national capital, every major element of the city's architectural heritage is well-cared for: nobody could, would, or (probably) should suggest anything other than continued, indefinite care and preservation of the U.S. Capitol, the Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt memorials. For equally good reasons, nobody is ever going to make a serious suggestion that we do away with tiny neighborhood gems like...
  • Earmark incubator

    November 5, 2007
    Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Florida) has coined this apt term for companies such as Concurrent Technologies during a debate about earmarks for a center Concurrent was to run. It's really a great term for companies that keep their hands in the public tiller, playing the policy game, and producing little of worth. Reading this extensive article on Concurrent's money exchanging games with the federal government reminded me of Robert L. Bradley's speech on business ethics from the Atlas Shrugged at Fifty event a few weeks back, where he analyzed the fall of Enron in view of Atlas Shrugged. Playing the policy game was one of the commonalities he found between Enron and the scenario Rand outlined in Atlas Shrugged.
  • Simpleton's Guide to Law of the Sea Treaty

    November 2, 2007
    The new Simpleton's Guide to the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) is now on our LOST page -- and below.

    Binary Data
  • Congress' Veto Vendetta: Maximum Override

    November 2, 2007
    In a legislative drama that mixes politics as usual with examples of strange bedfellows and reputational role reversals, it looks like Congress will finally get to override one of President Bush's infrequent vetoes. This morning the President killed the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 with his (sadly underused) veto pen. The leadership in Congress, however, is promising a quick resurrection. It has even led, according to CongressNow, to Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and James Inhofe (R-OK) actually being on the...
  • Health Nannies and the Bacon of Doom

    November 2, 2007
    Our good friend and adjunct Steve Milloy has a column out today at, taking apart the latest American Institute for Cancer Research study allegedly linking cancer directly to consumption of red meat and other delicious foods:
    The report advises limiting the intake of hamburgers, French fries, milk shakes, pastries and soft drinks. It says that there is "no safe level of consumption" of processed meats; a hysterical claim that is not even true for the most poisonous substances. This certainly is a landmark report; never before have so many scientists labored so long to embarrass themselves and their academic disciplines.
    Steve then goes on to put that Master's in Health Sciences from Johns Hopkins to work by pointing out the many flaws in the report's methodology. Flawed...
  • Wherefore Art Thou Private Care?

    November 2, 2007
    Private health care is bad. Public health care will be cheaper and better quality. How do we know this? Proponents of universal care would claim that we only need to look at the current system of care in this country which performs so poorly. There's only one problem with this line of thinking - it assumes that the U.S. health care system is a private system. In The Commonwealth Fund's report released yesterday, it concluded that, when compared to health care in 7 other nations, American health care is prohibitively expensive. On the same day, Kos of the DailyKos posted a scathing entry (titled Blue Shield, scum suckers) detailing his experiences with the insurance industry.
    So they lie to us, claiming for seven months that they'll cover the procedure. They...
  • In Defense of the Zone System

    November 2, 2007
    Ivan, As I've written before, I disagree with your post on the end of D.C.'s zone system. Washington cabdrivers are overwhelmingly independent entrepreneurs and, earlier this week, they engaged in a legitimate Atlas Shrugged style withdrawal of their labor in protest of government regulations that threaten their livelihood. The zone system tends to raise the prices for short rides--which well off lawyers and lobbyists take--while providing a modest subsidy for poorer residents of the city's outer neighborhoods. It does tend to let some cab drivers cheat tourists but, in my time in D.C., I think I've been cheated only once. On dozens of occasions, actually, drivers have knowingly undercharged me for short rides that happen to cross a zone line. The system has also given D.C. the most...


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