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  • How long until he changes his country's name to "Chavezuela"?

    March 12, 2007
    Today on National Review Online, I contribute to a symposium on Hugo Chavez.
    There is little the United States can do about Hugo Chavez's undermining of democracy in Venezuela. As long as high oil prices keep subsidizing his regime, he can survive. However, there is something that can be done to counter Chavez's efforts to throw his weight around Latin America: Improve ties with allies in the region by ratifying free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Peru.
  • The Great Global Warming Swindle

    March 11, 2007
    Martin Durkin brings us the documentary answer to global warming alarmism - recently broadcast in the UK. Enjoy: [googlevideo]9005566792811497638[/googlevideo] UPDATE: The Telegraph has a story today on how some of the scientists interviewed for the film have received death threats and been subject to other forms of intimidation.
  • The Landmark Decision That Nearly Evaporated

    March 10, 2007

    In a ruling I discussed early on Friday, a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. struck down Washington, D.C.'s gun ban. But the challenge to the ban very nearly failed on technicalities. Similar technicalities will keep many Washington, D.C. residents from relying on the court's landmark ruling that individuals have a right to possess and carry handguns in their homes for self-protection, making it risky to possess a gun even for self-defense.

    Bound by its past rulings, the federal appeals court ruled that to have standing to challenge a gun ban, you have to either (a) be specifically threatened with prosecution for possessing a gun in violation of the ban, or (b) have applied for an exemption to the ban and been refused by the government. It held that five of the six plaintiffs met...

  • Ted Kennedy says eliminate private sector from student loans

    March 10, 2007
    CEI would never argue that the current federal student loan programs are perfect. They are a mishmash of subsidies and regulations that cause distortions, not the least of which is to raise the sticker price of tuition significantly more than it probably would be otherwise. That being said, this doesn't mean that it's not possible for the student aid system to get worse -- even much worse. To Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., who is once again chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, or HELP committee (a misnomer for a political body if there ever was one), the problem isn't the fact of government interference, but the fact that private banks are still involved at all. He wants to make student loans a 100 percent socialist system, because he and others claim that this would save money by...
  • Leave the wind to Uncle Sam?

    March 9, 2007
    A newish Congressional Research Service report raises some very interesting questions about current proposals that the federal government begin to provide wind insurance. Paired with existing federal flood insurance, wind (aka multi-peril) insurance would make the federal government the primary source of catastrophic-loss coverage for most homeowners in coastal areas. Given that a California Democrat, Maxine Waters, is currently the first listed co-sponsor, I'd suspect that the proposal could well evolve to include earthquake coverage as well. (For the moment, however, the bill looks unlikely to move forward.) Still, the idea has real appeal. In the short term, federally backed wind insurance would make a lot of people happy: this year, Gulf Coast Mississippi...
  • Examiner Columnist Holds Timothy P. Carney Monopoly

    March 9, 2007
    Our good friend Tim Carney is in the DC Examiner today on big business opposition to the proposed XM/Sirius satellite radio merger. Among many other good points, Tim reinforces one of the central problems with antitrust law - a monopoly is in the eye of the beholder. Simply define a market narrowly enough, and anyone can be said to hold a monopoly:
    The satellite companies argue that regulators should not look at their combined share of the satellite market, but their combined share of the entire radio market—where the company wouldn't even be the largest, much less a monopoly. The broadcasters respond that the two markets are separate. They say the satellite companies don't compete with...
  • Washington, D.C. Gun Ban Shot Down

    March 9, 2007
    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has just declared Washington, D.C.'s gun ban unconstitutional under the federal Constitution's Second Amendment, which protects the right to keep and bear arms. In Parker v. District of Columbia, the court held that the Second Amendment protects individuals' right to possess guns, not just states' rights to do so through their state militia. The case was argued by Alan Gura and brought with the assistance of Cato legal scholar Robert Levy. Supporters of gun control often claim that the Second Amendment doesn't protect individuals' rights to possess a gun, only the collective right of a state militia to do so, since the Second Amendment refers to the right of the "people" to bear arms and cites the importance of maintaining a...
  • Caring for Vets: A Healthy Plan

    March 9, 2007
    I have a piece in yesterday's NR Online--my first CEI publication--that may seem a little counterintuative coming from a free market organization like CEI. In essence, I argue that the key to making Walter Reed work better is making it more like the Department of Veteran's Affairs Health System. While it's not perfect (what is?) the VA health system is one of the Federal government's best run agencies. It works a lot like Kaiser Permenente—incidentally, probably the best sizeable private health system in the country. It's really a giant HMO with a great computer system. While the care quality and outcomes are good, consumer choice is limited. While I think the military can learn a lot from the VA, for a number of reasons, I think it's a terrible model for the country as a whole. It does...
  • At Least Private Property Is Expanding in Some Nations

    March 9, 2007
    A very interesting story in the Washington Post today notes that China is moving to protect private property. The Communist party apparently realizes that insecure tenure over valuable assets weakens the incentives to invest, to modernize, to improve. Now if we could just persuade our politicians!
  • Do Editorialists and Environmentalists Read the Paper?

    March 9, 2007
    February was an interesting month; here in Washington, the media and the new Democratic congress are moving rapidly ahead to push alarmist global warming policies. Yet, the headlines today were interesting: in the Wall Street Journal, "Store Sales are Chilled by Winter Weather"[subscription required] and in the Washington Post, "Cold Puts Chill on Retail Sales." The post notes, interestingly, that this has been "the coldest February since 1979." The alarmists are encountering two major problems with their catastrophe scenarios—reality and winter. And Spring is coming!


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