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The official blog of the National Center for Public Policy Research, covering news, current events and public policy from a conservative, free-market and pro-Constitution perspective.

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Monday
Apr252016

Federal Judge Slaps Obama Administration Coverup Attempt

U.S. Court of Federal ClaimsU.S. Court of Federal Claims

Attorneys John Yoo and Horace Cooper have an op-ed in Investors Business Daily, published just now, asking why the Obama Administration is hiding thousands of documents relating to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Can't be national security reasons, surely...

A clue might be found in the fact that shareholders in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have sued the U.S. government, contending that the federal government's takeover of the institutions in 2008, and a diversion of profits to the federal government in 2012, constituted an unconstitutional taking of property.

Another clue might come from something a federal judge said when she disagreed with Obama:

The court will not condone the misuse of a protective order as a shield to insulate public officials from criticism in the way they execute their public duties.

John Yoo is Heller Professor of Law at the UC Berkeley School of Law and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, while Horace Cooper is a National Center senior fellow and co-chairman of the African-American leadership group Project 21.

Read their article here.

Monday
Apr252016

Real-Life Examples Prove Voter Fraud Does Exist

National Center Fellow and Project 21 Co-Chairman Horace Cooper gives real-life examples of voter fraud from all over the United States.

While some of these examples -- such as a New Orleans precinct that enjoyed a 108% voter turnout -- actually make Horace and the host of the show, Jack Burkman, laugh, voter fraud itself is no laughing matter.

It's fashionable on the left to claim voter fraud doesn't exist, but 108 percent voter turnouts don't happen by themselves.

Saturday
Apr232016

The Truth Can Get You Fired

Or sharing your best guess, anyway, if you aren't careful to be politically-correct.

In this YouTube clip from Behind the Curtain with Jack Burkman, Project 21's Archbishop Council Nedd II addressed the firing of WTAE-Pittsburgh TV News Anchor Wendy Bell.

After six people, including an unborn baby, three adults in their mid-twenties and no one over 37, were gunned down in an unsolved murder a few blocks from WTAE's studio, Bell wrote, in part:

...There's no nice words to write when a coward holding an AK-47 hoses down a family and their friends sharing laughs and a mild evening on a back porch in Wilkinsburg. There's no kind words when 6 people are murdered. When their children have to hide for cover and then emerge from the frightened shadows to find their mother's face blown off or their father's twisted body leaking blood into the dirt from all the bullet holes. There's just been nothing nice to say. And I've been dragging around this feeling like a cold I can't shake that rattles in my chest each time I breathe and makes my temples throb. I don't want to hurt anymore. I'm tired of hurting.

WTAE Pittsburgh ABC  Logo

You needn't be a criminal profiler to draw a mental sketch of the killers who broke so many hearts two weeks ago Wednesday. I will tell you they live within 5 miles of Franklin Avenue and Ardmore Boulevard and have been hiding out since in a home likely much closer to that backyard patio than anyone thinks. They are young black men, likely teens or in their early 20s. They have multiple siblings from multiple fathers and their mothers work multiple jobs. These boys have been in the system before. They've grown up there. They know the police. They've been arrested. They've made the circuit and nothing has scared them enough. Now they are lost. Once you kill a neighbor's three children, two nieces and her unborn grandson, there's no coming back. There's nothing nice to say about that.

Council points out that Bell's comments received more national attention than the actual murder of six people. He also noted the irony: "WTAE is a Hearst company. How did William Randolph Hearst make his money? By slandering people!"

"She dares to show some emotion; to have an emotional moment about it, and she gets fired for it," Council said.

Burkman said, "political correctness... it's becoming a kind of terrorism in this country... it's just a power game where people use this as a threat."

Critics of Bell seem not to be moved by the fact that her comments clearly were motivated by distress at the deaths of black people. She's racist anyway, according to their accusatory thinking.

Watch the entire 9-minute TV segment here.

For more Project 21 commentary on the Wendy Bell firing, go here.

Saturday
Apr232016

University Researchers Hide Good News - Why?

Why would a public research university boasting a top-100 geology program deliberately hide its work?

So asks -- and answers -- the National Center's Jeff Stier in an op-ed published today in Newsweek.

Take a look.

Wednesday
Apr202016

Bipartisan Dark Money and California's Latest Economic Misstep

Dark money, the minimum wage and media bias were hot topics of discussion when the National Center’s Horace Cooper appeared on RT Network’s “The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann.”

When discussing “dark money” in elections, Horace noted that candidates who receive dark money contributions are not necessarily going to win:

“Hillary Clinton in 2008 well outspent Barack Obama and YET! Did it make her dumb? Did it make her supporters dumb? It is not the case that whoever gives the checks get to decide. The people get to decide.”

Horace also noted that dark money is a bipartisan practice:

“It was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the NAACP, who got the Supreme Court to recognize that there was a right to keep your donors secret.” Also: George Soros “does the lion’s share of his political influencing as dark money.”

Here’s the discussion of “dark money”:

Later, Horace criticized California’s decision to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour:

“California IS the place where awful and bad ideas thrive and prosper,” crowed Horace.

“Like Apple and Microsoft?” asked host Thom Hartmann.

“Oh they’re going to be leaving soon. I just spent a few days in Austin and it is becoming the new Silicon Valley,” responded Horace.

Horace also noted that the minimum wage hike will also worsen California’s challenges regarding illegal immigration:

“The difficulty in having illegal or unlawful residents working in California is going to be exacerbated, precisely because this rate is higher than what the market will offer. These individuals, who are already here working illegally, will come in and they will accelerate and exacerbate, displacing mostly blacks and other low-income people.”

Here is the discussion of the minimum wage hike, as well as criticism of the media’s careful treatment of Donald Trump:

Friday
Apr152016

Ex-Im Bank, Scorned as Wasteful, Spends $75,000 to Lease a Car

2011 Toyota Land Cruiser$75,000 leases a very nice car

Looks like the leadership of the Import-Export Bank is exceedingly sensitive to the fact that little more than a quarter of the public wanted the U.S. Import-Export Bank to be reauthorized.

Yes, I'm being sarcastic.

If I ran Boeing, General Electric, Exxon Mobil, Caterpillar or any of the other firms benefiting from Ex-Im bank loans for foreign businesses and governments,* I'd tell the Ex-Im Bank leadership not to do things like spend $75,000 in taxpayers' money leasing a luxury vehicle.

Because, you know, Ex-Im Bank backers' rhetoric about how they wanted the bank reauthorized just to help the little guy might seem a bit more sincere if they don't screw the same little guys by using their tax dollars on fancy cars.

*Note: Ex-Im Bank backers will want me to note that the loans are made so foreign businesses and governments can buy U.S. firms' products.
Wednesday
Apr132016

E-Cigarettes May Soon be Banned in the United States

Tobaccocigarettee cigDPCW

The National Center's Risk Analysis Director, Jeff Stier, tells me that e-cigarettes may soon be banned in the United States.

This will set up a ludicrous situation in which e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine to users without cancer-causing tobacco carcinogens or any smoke (including second-hand smoke), are banned, while tobacco cigarettes are perfectly legal.

(It's almost like the government wants to kill us.)

E-cigarettes, as most of you know, are electronic nicotine-delivery devices that look like tobacco cigarettes, and which are inhaled like tobacco cigarettes, but don't contain tobacco. They emit water vapor, but no smoke.

The advantage of e-cigarettes over tobacco cigarettes is that they don't contain, and thus don't burn, tobacco. Tobacco cigarettes cause cancer because of the carcinogens a tobacco cigarette smoker is exposed to when tobacco is burned.

Jeff tells me the FDA is expected to issue a rule, known in the regulatory businesses as a "deeming regulation," that could ban all e-cigarettes that began sales after February 15, 2007. That's almost all of them.

Various nanny state organizations like the idea of banning e-cigarettes, because they don't want people to inhale nicotine. They also don't want young people using e-cigarettes.

While it is inarguable that young people won't use e-cigarettes if e-cigarettes don't exist, we are faced with the ludicrous notion in the United States today that e-cigarettes, a nicotine-delivery device much safer than tobacco cigarettes, will be banned, while tobacco cigarettes won't be.

Even more ludicrous, e-cigarettes could be banned against a backdrop in which marijuana cigarettes are increasingly made legal. I'm told marijuana cigarettes are even more carcinogenic than tobacco.

In the end, though, it comes down to this: who decides? Do you want the option of e-cigarettes for yourself or your friends and family who may be addicted to nicotine? Or do you want the federal government to take that choice away from you, effectively steering you toward tobacco, unless you quit nicotine outright?

Next Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee may take steps to tell the FDA not to ban e-cigarettes. If you have an opinion on this, let the members of that committee know. This is one of those moments in which the public has the opportunity to make a difference, because not many people know that e-cigarettes may soon be banned. Those who get in touch with the Appropriations Committee's members will likely be among the very few people they hear from.

Jeff Stier will be issuing a press release tomorrow morning with his thoughts on the matter and more information. It will be posted on www.nationalcenter.org. He's also available for media interviews. If you are with the press and want to speak with Jeff, call Judy Kent at (703) 759-7476 or cell (703) 477-7476 or email jkent@nationalcenter.org or email Jeff at jstier@nationalcenter.org

Thursday
Mar312016

Kevin Martin on SCOTUS, Drug Wars and Gitmo

On the 3/25/16 episode of RT Network’s “The Big Picture,” Project 21’s Kevin Martin took on issues ranging from the SCOTUS nominee to the drug wars to Gitmo detainees.

Martin pointed out the hypocrisy of liberals who are demanding that the Senate vote on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland:

“Why should they vote for him?” asked Martin.

“Because the Constitution says it’s their job,” replied host Thom Hartmann.

“But they didn’t do their job in 2005 when YOUR party ran the Senate,” shot back Martin.

Regarding recent revelations from a Nixon advisor about how the Nixon Administration vilified minorities and drug abusers in the 1970s because they were seen as political enemies:

“In ’70 you had the hippies, you had the blacks, you gotta keep them down, they’re scary, they’re in the corner,” said Martin. “Both parties have gone after working white folks by using minorities and drug addiction as the boogeyman.”

“I don’t like much that comes out of Kevin’s mouth, but he’s right,” replied Kevin’s liberal fellow panelist Chuck Rocha.

Regarding the future of released Guantanamo detainees, Martin noted that “no one’s gonna vote for a congressman or senator who’s gonna put these people in their backyard.”

These segments of “The Big Picture Rumble” can be viewed below.

Tuesday
Mar292016

More Indictments for Crime That Doesn't Exist

VoterIDRally030512c croppedW

Although left-wing activists claim "voter fraud doesn't exist," prosecutors have somehow continued to find cases to prosecute.

Are all these prosecutors right-wing racists?

Unlikely.

Latest case in the news comes from Florida, where, the Orlando Sentinel reports (hat tip: Election Law Center), the mayor of Eatonville and two others have been indicted on 25 counts of voter fraud.

The Sentinel reports the mayor was accused of voter fraud in 1991 as well.

I have no idea of the mayor of Eatonville is guilty of these charges, but I do know this much: Voter fraud exists.

The only question is, why are some people working so hard to convince the public it doesn't?

Saturday
Mar262016

Starbucks Asked to Protect Employees' Right to be Politically Active Without Penalty at Work

Justin Danhof, general counsel of the National Center for Public Policy Research and director of its Free Enterprise Project, addressed the CEO, board and shareholders of Starbucks at Starbucks' 2016 shareholder meeting on March 23, 2016.

StarbucksLogo

Shareholders were asked to vote for a human rights proposal and to support a policy change at Starbucks to protect employees from workplace retribution if they engage in legal political or civic activities outside of the workplace, on their own time, even if their superior holds differing views.

Justin's presentation was part of the National Center's Employee Conscience Protection Project, which, among other activities promoting human rights, has so far convinced 13 major corporations employing over 5 million workers to agree not to penalize or fire employees based on their legal political or civic activities undertaken in their free time.

Justin's remarks at the Starbucks meeting, as prepared for delivery, are available here.

More information about the National Center's presentation at Starbucks and its Employee Protection Policy Project is available here.

Saturday
Mar262016

Socialism in the Bathroom: Insane "Free Tampons" Movement Wants to Divert Tuition Funds to Tampons

I wrote on March 12 about the insane idea that public restrooms “owe” women free tampons if they don’t charge for toilet paper.

The logic, such as it is, is that if a toiletry item used by both genders (toilet paper) is provided free of charge, then ALL toiletry items used by either gender must be provided free of charge.

Some go so far as to say universities should offer "free" tampons with student tuition money so homeless women can go on campuses to get tampons without paying -- as if tuition on most campuses isn't high enough already.

tampon box

In my earlier post, I questioned this logic and also the maturity of adults who believe they are entitled to have their needs met by others.

It occurs to me now that I missed two other key points in this ridiculous debate.

First, the feminist activists think it’s a key point that women use tampons while men do not (so, somehow, out of fairness, tampons should be free), but they ignore the fact that there are other things men need that women do not, and they are not provided free to the men.

For example, the average adult male needs more calories than the average female simply to survive.

By the logic of the free-tampon-feminists, men should get part of their food for free simply because they need more than women do. Eating is as much a normal biological function as menstruation.

Second, ever notice that very many public restrooms lock down the toilet paper in devices that make it difficult for people to steal the rolls?

That’s because some people actually do steal toilet paper rolls.

Think about tampons and pads for a second.

How do you distribute them for free in public restrooms without some ladies (well, Emily Post would probably say they aren’t ladies if they are thieves) filling their purse with them?

I suspect it is actually impossible to make tampons and pads free in many restrooms, because they’d continuously be stolen.

If someone has invented a device that gets around this problem, please, someone email me at info@nationalcenter.org and tell me.

Wednesday
Mar232016

Did Zoolander Influence the Future of iPhones?

Justin Danhof, Esq., the director of our Free Enterprise Project, appeared on the Fox Business Network’s “Cavuto: Coast to Coast” Monday to discuss the future of the iPhone, Apple’s battle with the FBI, Jesse Jackson’s appearance at the Apple shareholder meeting, and more.

To view his appearance, including how the “Zoolander” movie may have influenced the future of the iPhone, watch the clip below.

Saturday
Mar122016

Are Abortionists Really "Butchers"?

Can abortionists be appropriately labeled “butchers?” That’s the term used by Horace Cooper of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a term that sent his liberal counterpart Sam Bennett reeling in horror last night on the RT Network’s “The Big Picture with Thom Hartmann.”

Perhaps Ms. Bennett should watch a sonogram monitor while an abortion is performed, to see whether the baby she objectifies as simply an “embryo” is similarly screaming in horror as it is pulled apart limb by limb.

Watch the entire exchange below:

Saturday
Mar122016

Activists Demand Free Tampons Because Men Don't Menstruate (Seriously!)

This is truly the age of grievances.

Case in point is the new political cause arguing that tampons should be distributed for free in public restrooms, simply because public restrooms almost never charge for toilet paperTampax Tampon Box.

From the New York Times:

"Tampons and pads should be treated just like toilet paper -- they're the equivalent," said Nancy Kramer, an entrepreneur from Columbus, Ohio, who started Free the Tampons, a campaign to make feminine products accessible in all restrooms. She said the cost of stocking restrooms at a school or business with sanitary supplies works out to $4.67 per girl per year. "Menstruation is a normal bodily function, and it should be treated like that."

In other words, if your local restaurant or store operates a public restroom for free, with free toilet paper, it somehow is obligated to also provide other free stuff.

The "logic" is that men don't use tampons; therefore, it is sexist for businesses and taxpayers not to give them to women for "free."

Seriously?

If someone gives you free toilet paper, that does not mean he or she owes you free tampons.

Likewise, if someone buys you a soda, he or she does not therefore owe you a bag of chips.

This is true without regard to whether men eat chips.

Whether we are ladies or we are gentlemen, let's be adults. We buy our own stuff and we buy the stuff our children need. If someone gives us something for free, we say, "thank you" -- not "gimme more or you're sexist."

Thursday
Mar102016

Project 21 Members Stand up for Sanity at Mizzou

Stacy WashingtonWProject 21 members Stacy Washington and Nadra Enzi, among other Project 21 members, have been taking to the airwaves to counteract some of the more extreme statements by radical activists at the University of Missouri.

After Black Lives Matter founders Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi told University of Missouri students that the U.S. Constitution somehow protects white supremacy, Stacy Washington noted on national radio that:

"America is the best place in the world to be a minority of any kind, be it a woman, or a black person, or Hispanic person. The proof of that is that so many people of Hispanic or Latin origin are killing themselves to get into America. If it were a hotbed of racism and racial oppression, why would people come here?"

Nadra Enzi 125x125WA few days later, Project 21's Nadra Enzi jumped in with support for the school's new interim vice chancellor, who has sent what some have called a "tough love" message to the activists, telling them in essence that, no, you can't expect to get everything you demand, including "hiring faculty or staff, or admitting students based on protected characteristics to meet a numerical target." As One News Now reports, Nadra said:

"People have a right to be safe within their persons, their workplaces and their campuses," observes Nadra Enzi, a Project 21 spokesman.

When people cross the line from personal expression to intimidation, he says, that's when "responsible leadership" should stand up to intimidation...

Instead of listening and debating, Enzi says of the black activists, they feel "empowered" to disrupt, threaten and intimidate people who disagree with them.

"And at some point somebody has to draw the line," he says.

Saturday
Mar052016

U.S. Senate Makes Bill to Fight Opioid Abuse a Priority, But Why Isn't This Best Left to States and Localities?

Old Heroin Pharmacy Bottle public domainHate to be a skunk at a garden party (as usual!), but I question the conventional wisdom about S.524, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, a bi-partisan bill that permits the Justice Department and HHS to make grants and run task forces and undertake other measures to combat prescription opioid and heroin abuse.

The bill, sponsored by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), is reportedly a high priority of the Senate. The news media, to the extent I have seen, consistently reports of the importance of getting it passed, and soon. I never see it report any skepticism.

Mindful that ObamaCare has a mandatory requirement that health insurance companies cover drug abuse programs, and that it is now mandatory for Americans to have health insurance in some form, I was wondering why this bill is necessary.

After reading it, I'm unconvinced. It's not that the bill does bad things, exactly, but it's hard to believe some of the money won't be wasted - task forces that issue reports (will they even be read?) and yet more government conferences that seem more likely to help government employees stay employed and visit with one another than to combat opioid abuse.

Other provisions are more direct, but I wonder why the programs they fund, if desired, are a federal as opposed to state or local responsibility.

For example, why is federal intervention necessary to train local EMS employees in the use of drugs to help or even save people who may be suffering an opioid overdose? EMS employees receive training in many things (almost certainly including handling drug overdoses) already. Why does opioid overdose require special intervention? Why would any competent EMS training program not include it already? (And if an incompetent training program, why would we assume a federal grant would help?)

Similarly, the legislation has opportunities for grants for kids in public schools to be warned against drug abuse. The schools already exist; all the schools presumably have competent teachers; warning kids against drug abuse does not require expensive equipment. Furthermore, there are many sample lesson plans and programs out there if any schools don't exactly know how to best warn kids about drug abuse, so no one need to expensively reinvent the wheel. And if extra funding is necessary (presumably not a lot), why would it be a federal responsibility anyway? The locality can budget for the lessons just as it budgets for all its other lessons.

Another program trains police departments in law enforcement-related aspects of enforcing our drug laws. Again, why is training people to enforce these laws any more a challenge than training them to enforce other laws? And aren't localities already training police officers in this area?

Is it really more efficient, in terms of best use of taxpayer dollars, to send the funds to Washington, so localities can go to the expense of sending in proposals in the hope of getting a limited-term grant, as opposed to, say, the state of Rhode Island budgeting properly to train its police officers, its EMS personnel, and so forth, and then just doing so, in a straightforward manner, in the way that best meets the needs of the people of Rhode Island?

I've only mentioned a small part of the grants and programs the bill wants to fund, so please, Google it and read it for yourself if this topic has caught your interest. If, after doing so, or if you already understand this bill well, you see why this federal legislation provides a more efficient and effective route to stemming opioid abuse than states could do on their own, please feel free to share your thoughts.

Honestly, short of any provisions that enhance border security to keep heroin out, all I'm seeing is that the Feds can borrow and/or print money to pay for this, whereas the states and localities are more likely to have to use funds from a funded budget. But that, surely, is an argument for keeping the job local. The federal debt is already $19 trillion. Surely, at minimum, we should make whatever government spending we do have as efficient as possible.

We'll post this on our Facebook pages. Feel free to comment there or on Twitter (our social media URLs are on the top left of this page) or email this blog at info@nationalcenter.org if you think I'm off-base here and want to set me straight.

Tuesday
Mar012016

What the FBI Wants Apple to Do

FBI Apple Logo WThere's much confusion about just what the FBI is asking Apple to do in the matter of the locked iPhone that was used by one or both of the San Bernardino terrorists.

FBI Director James Comey testified today before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and listed, in response to a question, the three things the FBI wants. I'm sharing the information since this is an important issue, and most folks will not have seen or heard the hearing.

For context, you need to know that if you try to guess a password to get into a password-enabled iPhone, and you guess wrong six times in a row(1), the phone gets locked (disabled). Furthermore, there is a speed limitation. If you try to guess super fast (as if you are a computer hacker as opposed to a human who forgot his password), the phone may lock. To use the phone if it locks you have to erase it and set it up again. Obviously, the FBI does not want to erase the terrorists’ phone. Hence the issue.

The FBI is asking Apple to write code to do three things:

1) To lift the six-guess limit to permit the FBI to make an infinite number of guesses about the password.

2) That the speed limitation be eliminated, so the phone does not lock if the FBI guesses faster then once every 80 milliseconds.

3) That there be a way to use a computer to guess passwords instead of having to assign an employee to type them in one after another.

That's what the FBI wants, so if you didn't know, now you do.

Notes:

(1) I read that the limit for guesses is six on Apple's website, but I also read that the FBI says it is ten. Either way, the important thing is that there is a limit.

(2) I read that there is an 80-millisecond delay required between guesses, but I have not confirmed this figure with Apple.

Monday
Feb292016

Liberal Congresswoman Calls for Federal Drug Tests for Farmers If Food Stamp Recipients Get Them

AddictThe left vs. the poor

Why shouldn't farmers have to get drug-tested before they receive agricultural subsidies or participate in federal agriculture programs, if people on various welfare programs, including food stamps (SNAP), do?

So asks Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) in a Colin Taylor article for Occupy Democrats, but she is only one of many liberals to whine recently about drug tests for people who rely on their fellow citizens to meet their basic needs (Think Progress also complains about this a lot).

This whining has more to do with the left trying to make people resentful than anything else, but I'll address the policy aspect anyway.

#1: People who receive agriculture subsidies, such as the federal crop insurance that DeLauro whines about, are functioning. The public isn't wondering if drug-taking is the reason they aren't functioning because they are functioning. The left can glorify poverty all it wants, but it can't change the basic fact that if a person cannot take care of himself or herself and his/her dependents, he or she is not fully functioning. Something is wrong. Why shouldn't the people who are being required under penalty of law to pay another person's bills be able to find out what, precisely, is wrong?

If a farmer applies for a genuine welfare payment, he or she would get the same drug tests, if any, that anyone else in their state gets for that particular welfare program.

#2: Not many people have figured out how to convert federal crop insurance policies to drugs. The street value of crop insurance just isn't there.

#3: Advocates of taxpayer giveaway programs, if they care at all about the recipients (I believe they mostly care about stoking resentment so they can drive resentful people to the polls and keep themselves in office), should support the drug tests, because the public at-large is more willing to support welfare programs if they believe the recipients are worthy of their support. One can argue the issue, but taxpayers are far more likely to support welfare programs if they believe most of the recipients are hardworking Moms and Dads who can't quite make ends meet, or someone who cannot find a job despite genuinely trying to do so, as opposed to a drug addict who isn't even trying to be self-sufficient.

Yes, quitting heroin is no easy thing and all that, but we all know I'm right. If the left wants broad public support for welfare programs, it should support drug tests so it can more effectively argue in the legislatures that the welfare recipients truly deserve the help.

As for agriculture subsidies, Rep. DeLauro: You aren't known for your efforts to cut them, or much else in the way of outlandish and unnecessary federal spending. Why don't you stop whining about drug tests and work on cutting spending -- including agriculture spending (which is excessive - very excessive, and which should be cut) -- instead?

If you don't, you're just another politician who is more interested in promoting divisiveness for political purposes than in genuinely helping the poor or the taxpayers. Shame on you.

Sunday
Feb282016

Hollywood Specializes in Fiction -- Beware of Following Its Policy Advice

Robert RedfordA still from Redford's video

As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences meets tonight in California to give awards to itself, it is as good a time as any to remind ourselves that there's a reason Hollywood specializes in fiction.

Example #1 is a press release by the green Natural Resources Defense Council touting a Robert Redford video for supposed words of wisdom about climate change.

Redford is a guy who recently tried to do a movie about Rathergate -- an event orders of magnitude less complicated than the global warming theory -- and he couldn't even get that right.

Redford's Rathergate movie, "Truth," was mocked (see here and here or just Google it) for its failure to understand the basics of that scandal.

It's likely Redford and his cohorts made "Truth" based on what they wanted to be true, not what really happened. If that's the case, why would we not assume Redford's judgement on climate change is colored by his desire to believe there is a crisis?

Here's the press release for those interested. Believe it, and Redford's little video, at your own risk.

Robert Redford: World Leaders Should "Take Bold Action" in Paris Climate Agreement

WASHINGTON - "With a crucial climate summit beginning soon in Paris, Robert Redford has released a video kicking off a citizen petition drive calling on world leaders to 'take bold action' to avoid the damaging impacts of climate change.

"We're running out of time. But as a husband, a father and a grandfather, I do have hope," Redford says in the 90-second video released today on social media. "If we want to leave our children, grandchildren and future generations a healthy planet, we've got to respond now to the challenge of climate change.

"This is our only planet," Redford adds. "This may be our last chance. So let's protect the most important thing in the world: our children's future."

In the video - featuring scenes of drought, fierce storms, and melting glaciers - the actor, producer, environmentalist and trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council says the world must come together now to slash dangerous carbon pollution making us and our planet sick.

"Moderate weather is virtually extinct - and global instability, poverty and conflict are rising along with the temperature," he says. "We can prevent this disaster, if we work together to do something different."

In December, world leaders hope to do so when they gather in Paris to hammer out an international climate accord. The U.N. announced it would go ahead with the 21st Conference of the Parties, known as COP21, after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

Robert Redford, a highly respected leader on environmental issues, has spoken out repeatedly for strong action to address climate change.

In 2013, he worked with NRDC on a TV and online ad calling on President Obama to rein in carbon pollution from the nation's biggest source, coal-fired power plants. The ad is here: https://vimeo.com/67822369

Last June, Redford delivered an impassioned speech on climate change at the U.N. here: http://www.ew.com/article/2015/06/30/robert-redford-climate-change-united-nations.

NRDC worked with Redford to produce the Paris climate video, which will run on NRDC social media channels and be sent to NRDC supporters and activists.

Redford's video is here: https://youtu.be/89xuO7k8ccM

The text of his comments in the video follows:

"We're running out of time. But as a husband, a father and a grandfather, I do have hope.

"If we want to leave our children, grandchildren and future generations a healthy planet, we've got to respond now to the challenge of climate change.

"You know as well as I do how serious the threat is.

"The carbon pollution that drives climate change is making us sick - it's poisoning the air we breathe and the water we drink.

"It's making our planet sick, too. Moderate weather is virtually extinct - and global instability, poverty and conflict are rising along with the temperature.

"We can prevent this disaster, if we work together to do something different.

"Everywhere we look people are beginning to take action on their own - in their homes, in their cities, in their own lives.

"And this December, leaders from every nation in the world will gather in Paris to work for change, too.

"They know that we've all contributed to this crisis, and therefore we've all got be part of the solution.

"If we stand together, we can change the course of history.

"I hope you will stand with me and others - by signing a global petition at NRDC.org calling on world leaders to take bold action now.

"This is our only planet. This may be our last chance.

"So let's protect the most important thing in the world: our children's future."

###

Interestingly, Redford's video lobbies President Obama -- something the press release doesn't mention. I surmise the NRDC does not trust Obama. I'm beginning to wonder if anyone does.

The extent of Redford's qualifications to analyze climate science is unstated. The NRDC calls him a "leader," but mentions only that he has given a speech and appeared in videos, and serves in the board of the NRDC. Just a guess, but I doubt he'd be on the board if he were not a rich and famous actor. Same for the speech and videos. So he's an actor, and if he's more than that, they're not telling.

So why should we believe this, again?

Note: The press release arrived in my in-box with garbage symbols throughout. I had to guess where the NRDC wanted to place quotation marks, hyphens and other punctuation marks. I may not have guessed correctly in all instances, but I did not change any words.

Saturday
Feb272016

Apple Shareholders Reject Shareholder Proposal Claiming Board is "Too Vanilla" (aka, White)

Silver Apple Logo White

Lack of diversity has long been a problem among the many Silicon Valley companies that employ mostly white men. Apple has said previously it would work to address gaps in employee diversity.

-Time, "Apple Shareholders Reject Plan to Recruit Minorities for Top Positions" by Katie Reilly, February 27, 2016

Would you surmise from Time's reporting here that Apple's United States workforce is 54 percent white (male and female combined)? While the United States is 77.4 percent white?

No?

I think that's the idea.

Even when companies employ white males at a lower rate than they exist in our country, it's still not good enough for the news media.

I wrote about this more here, including the quote from the shareholder proponent that Apple's board is "a little bit too vanilla," and facts and figures showing that Apple's record on diversity is actually quite good.