October 19, 2007 9:59 AM
Neil Clark, who usually writes for the Guardian, on his blog, mocks what he calls another commenter's "over the top" Che Guevara analogy.
And the winner is........by a distance- Simon Heffer in today's Daily Telegraph.
"To wear a T-shirt with his (Che's) image on it has also seemed to me like wearing one with a picture of Hitler on it: although there is more evidence for Che's psychopathic tendencies even than of those of the FÃ¼hrer."
Yes, Simon is comparing a man, who even if we accept the figures of his critics, was guilty of the summary execution of "hundreds" of former supporters of the Batista regime, with a man who started a world war in which 72 million people lost their lives.
Even if? Never mind that Che's murders are well documented -- is Clark making the repugnant implication that in the case of mass murder, numbers matter? If he's not, he has no argument here.
By such reasoning, Stalin was less of a butcher than Mao because of his lower body count -- and the two of them may qualify as not as bad as Pol Pot, who killed a bigger share of his population.
Finally, does anyone doubt that Che would have murdered thousands or millions if given the chance? It's a good thing he wasn't.
October 19, 2007 9:16 AM
Since the government took over aviation security since 9/11, security has actually gotten worse. Fake bombs usually pass undetected by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the government agency set up to take control of airport passenger screening. One study found that the TSA is 2.5 times as likely to fail to detect a bomb as the none-too-effective private security firms it replaced. And investigators have invariably succeeded in smuggling common ingredients for explosives past TSA screeners. The new Congress, meanwhile, has worked to extend collective bargaining rights to TSA employees, so that their unions can protect them from being terminated for incompetence.
October 19, 2007 9:15 AM
The upholding of Bush's SCHIP veto is no big victory for spending control. As reported in Time magazine online on Wednesday, Bush wasn't exactly saying "no increase" when he vetoed the bill raise -- he was saying no to raising it that much.
While virulently opposed to an increase of $35 billion, the White House has made it clear that it is willing to increase funding for SCHIP by $25 billion over a five-year period.
It's good to know that in today's political environment the difference between Democrats and Republicans is not about opposing principles, but the degree to which each practices the same ideals.
October 18, 2007 4:09 PM
Today, the House Natural Resources Committee is considering the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, sponsored by Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Christopher Shays (R-CT). It would designate nearly 7 million acres of federal lands in Montana as Wilderness, along with some 17 million acres more in four other states. Yet Montana already has 3.5 million acres of Wilderness, or 4 percent of the land. That's a 200 percent increase. In 1988 Reagan wisely vetoed a 1.4 million acre Wilderness addition in Montana because it was excessive. This proposal would become the single largest lock-up of land in over a quarter century, locking the American people out of the land they all supposedly own.
The legislation's sponsors—essentially carpetbaggers from the east coast—want to deprive people who live out west from using resources on this land. Leaving these forests unmanaged will mean yet more disease, insects, and unfightable wild fires. Apparently, the eastern liberals want to make the "public" lands the exclusive playground of only the wealthiest Americans. The sponsors appear to be “geographically challenged” as well. The Northern Rockies in their bill include not just Montana, Idaho and Wyoming -- but also Oregon and Washington. Why not Hawaii?
Moreover, the bill not only creates 24 million additional acres of Wilderness, but includes still more Wild & Scenic Rivers and Wildlife Corridors to help Grizzly Bears, Mountain Lions, Canada Lynx, Gray Wolf, etc., find their way to your backyard, if you live out West. Since the public and rural Americans have figured out precisely what Wildlife Corridors are and the harm they will do, the Greens and the Committee are now calling them "Biological Connecting Corridors."
October 18, 2007 3:57 PM
Today's USA Today reports on the growing trend among city lawmakers to tax, ban, and otherwise regulate bottled water. CEI recently highlighted the absurdity of these policies in an op-ed article. Since then, lawmakers in the City of Chicago have proposed taxing bottled water ten cents a bottle because supposedly this product is wasteful.
It is true that the bottles use energy to make and transport, but so does every other item in commerce. Singling out of bottle water is simply arbitrary. And bottle water isn't “wasteful” to the people who chose it. Many of us find it convenient to pick up a chilled, fresh drink of water while on the road. Who would rather carry around refillable bottles with lukewarm water in their car? And who really wants to stop off at gas stations to refill with unchilled water from the tap in public bathrooms? Not me!
The anti-bottled water craze is all the more absurd if you remember that it has long been the green choice because as environmental activists have continually fomented unfounded claims that tap water wasn't safe. Such environmental activism is, arguably, one of the best things that ever happened to the bottled water industry—until now.
October 18, 2007 1:39 PM
The House of Representatives just failed to override Bush's veto of a bill that would have greatly expanded the cost and scope of the federal SCHIP health care program. The vote for the bill was 273-to-156, or 13 votes short of the two-thirds margin needed to override the President's veto.
Congressional leaders immediately began engaging in deceptive spin. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed the veto harmed "America's poorest children," even though the nation's poor children are already covered by Medicaid and SCHIP, and the whole point of the SCHIP expansion bill was to extend health-care subsidies to households that are not even poor.
Moreover, the SCHIP program, which was originally designed to help poor children, now covers childless adults, and "some states spend more than half their SCHIP funding in care for adults, not children." So much for truth in advertising.
October 18, 2007 1:37 PM
The Financial Times has an article on how the agricultural subsidies contained in the Farm Bill seemingly promote obesity by encouraging the production and consumption of starchy and sugary foods at the expense of more nutritious fruits and vegetables.
Agricultural subsidies have long been criticized for making "bad-for-you food cheaper than healthful fare," and encouraging the consumption of corn-based sugars and soy-based fats derived from heavily-subsidized corn and soybean crops.
I think that the critics are right that successive farm bills have artificially reduced the price of highly-processed junk foods to below the price of many fruits and vegetables.
But I think some critics overstate their case. While many vegetables cost more than junk food, since junk food's price is artificially depressed thanks to agricultural subsidies, some vegetables continue to be cheaper than junk food.
I recently bought ten pounds of potatoes on sale from my local Grand Mart for $1.29. That's much cheaper, per calorie, than a Twinkie or Ding Dong. And a single potato contains many minerals and as much as 40 percent of your day's supply of vitamin C.
October 18, 2007 1:36 PM
I mostly agree with your post but, well, I think that private enforcement of law in Medieval Iceland is an example of exactly why we need the state to enforce criminal laws. Have you ever taken a look at NjÃ¡ll's Saga? (Which the paper you link to cites.) It's a great read but it tells the (probably largely true) story of an out-of-control feud that results in the murder of something like five percent of Iceland's male population over a 30 year period. One of the major characters (the Nijal of the common title) is actually a lawyer within the largely private system. And, for his trouble and enormous skill at law he gets burnt alive in a revenge killing. I actually first read it myself in a class on Medieval law.
October 18, 2007 1:35 PM
CEI's The Nation's Top Ten Worst State Attorneys General described how wealthy trial lawyers like the indicted Milberg Weiss law firm have bankrolled state attorneys general who hired them to sue out-of-state businesses in exchange for billions of dollars in attorneys fees.
A New York Times story today shows that liberal politicians are still collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars from lawyers associated with the Milberg Weiss law firm, even after its highly-publicized indictment for bribery and fraud.
October 18, 2007 9:49 AM
Today the house is expected to vote to override President Bush's veto of the State Children's Health Insurance Program bill—which would increase the funding by $35 billion.
One of the arguments for SCHIP is that it will save more money in the long run. It is supposed that children who withdraw from SCHIP eschew the regular healthcare that reduces emergency medical situations, resulting in increased ER visits and a greater cost to the state.
If that is the reason for increasing spending on SCHIP, the better alternative may simply be to loosen regulations on retail health care. Retail health clinics (aka convenient care clinics) are housed in stores like Wal-Mart or CVS, staffed by physicians assistants and nurse practitioners, where patients can drop-in and receive treatment for various conditions.
Not only are these clinics about half as expensive as private physicians, but they are usually open 7 days a week and hold better hours than private practices--this convience for parents (who wouldn't need to take off from work) makes it far more likely that children will see some health provider sooner rather than later.