Odds & Ends: Hannibal Regulator; Greenpeace Hitting Bottom; Nutty for Nader; Cabbage or the Gettysburg Address?

In late July, the Federal Communiations Commission held a hearing on issues surrounding the America Online/Time Warner merger



From the August/September 2000 issue of CEI UpDate




Chutzpah, legal scholar Eugene Volokh writes, is “when you get a job working for your wife’s parents because you are their son-in-law, and then when you and she get divorced and her parents fire you, you sue them for marital status discrimination.” That happened recently in Montana, where, remarkably, the state Department of Labor and Industry ruled in favor of the plaintiff. Prince, Inc. was found by the board to have discriminated against Brad Matteson, but was spared having to pay any damages because the board also claimed he should have been fired for having gotten into an argument with his employers.



Coming in a strong second in the balloting for Sellout of the Month is Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA). The Seattle congressman was outraged in 1996 when fellow Washington lawmaker Randy Tate (R-WA) started a “Congressional Coffee Club” to meet campaign contributors. “If you have a briefing, have people come into your office,” McDermott was quoted saying. “If you want to raise money, raise money—but don’t mix the two. Don’t offer information if people plunk down $100 on the table. It leaves people without $100 out in the cold.” So we were shocked to learn that McDermott now is soliciting folks to join “Jim McDermott’s Agora.” For only $1,000, you too can become “a founding member of my new advisory group.” Meetings will be held in the homes of supporters. (Click here for the SOTM grand prize winner.)



Two federal fire trucks on their way to fight the great western fires in Montana were stopped and held in Coeur d’Alene, ID, recently. The problem? They were overwieght with water. State government trucking regulations prevented them from moving on until they dumped some of the water in their tanks to make weight. The drivers face fines. As the Billings Gazette remarked on the catch-22: “Joseph Heller’s Yossarian would have understood this perfectly well: Fire trucks can go through Idaho, but only if they cannot fight fires.”



Wire services reported that thousands of anti-globalization protesters in Australia successfully disrupted the three-day World Economic Forum summit being held, interestingly, at Melbourne’s Crown Casino. According to one story: “An army of Trotskyists, anarchists, students, gay rights activists, environmentalists, and even Falun Gong supporters …linked arms in a weaving chain that snaked half way around the casino complex, chanting demands for an end to economic rationalism, for the Western world to write off third world debt, and for Asian sweat shops to be closed.” They were also rumored to be unhappy with the long lines and poor selection at the casino buffet.



A popular list making the email rounds entitled “Economy of Words” offers this comparison:

Pythagorean theorem: 24 words

The Lord’s Prayer: 66 Words

The Ten Commandments: 67 words

The Gettysburg Address: 286 words

Declaration of Independence: 1,300 words

US government regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words



The international environmental group is in dire straits, according to a recent London Times report. It is hemorrhaging members (1.6 million lost in recent years) and cash ($45 million down the tubes). In the United States, the situation is particularly acute, with the organization’s American membership having dropped 70 percent from a high of one million in the early 1990s to just 300,000 today. How come? According to Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace who has become disenchanted with the organization, it has become  “dominated by leftwingers and extremists who disregard science in the pursuit of environmental purity.”



The National Taxpayers Union Foundation conducted a study of the 106th Congress and found that bills introduced to hike spending vastly outnumbered those that would cut it. In the House or Representatives, there were  eight bills raising spending for every one that would cut expenditures. In the Senate the ratio was even worse:  12-1.



According to wire service reports, recruits in the British Royal Navy are being instructed to shout “Bang!” rather than fire live rounds in some miltary exercises. The stated purpose is to save money.



The Washington Post recently uncovered a nifty feature of the ethics laws that govern Maryland state lawmakers: They don’t apply out-of-state. So legislators have to turn down offers of meals, sporting event tickets, and other favors from lobbyists in Annapolis…but not when they are on the road. And take to the road they do. Maryland lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano follows the lawmakers to legislative conferences in places like Chicago and Biloxi, and then throws big parties for them there. It’s all legal. And here’s an extra kicker: The legislators don’t have to disclose if they attend such events, and the lobbyists don’t have to disclose if they are lavishing meals and gifts on lawmakers. It’s almost as if it never happened!



Who cares about movies like The Cell that try to get inside the mind of a serial killer? Try getting inside the mind of a regulator. A hygiene association journal did that recently with an interview with Marthe Kent, director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s safety standards program. Said Marthe: “I was born to regulate. I don’t know why, but that’s very true. So long as I’m regulating, I’m happy….If you put out a reg, it matters. I think that’s really where the thrill comes from. And it is a thrill; it’s a high.”



Remember the decades-old photograph of Ralph Nader that CEI unearthed and published in our March UpDate? It showed him at a 1977 press conference, demonstrating a simulated air bag on an unbelted 3-year old girl. The purpose of the press conference was to demonstrate the alleged benefits of the just-issued air bag mandate. But air bags have turned out to be a lethal danger to children; according to Department of Transportation statistics, nearly one hundred children have been killed by air bag deployments in what would otherwise have been survivable accidents. Since our unveiling of it, this photo has appeared or been cited in a number of publications to illustrate the risks of overregulation. So imagine our surprise to see it in E Magazine (“The Environmental Magazine”) in a puff piece on Ralph Nader. A little knowledge, the saying goes, can be a dangerous thing; when it’s accompanied by a photo, it can be downright hilarious.