- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stuff happens

A hearing last week before the House Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law produced a scene between a Democratic congressman and a Republican gubernatorial candidate worthy of a great director … specifically, Francis Ford Coppola.

According to an account in PolitickerNJ, Rep. Steve Cohen, Tennessee Democrat, used language from “The Godfather” to describe agreements on deferring prosecutions of some corporations negotiated by former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie of New Jersey, who is running for governor.

Companies may have accepted the agreements because Mr. Christie, a Republican who is leading Democratic incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine, “made them an offer they couldn’t refuse,” Mr. Cohen remarked.

“First of all, it’s an ethnically sensitive comment to an Italian-American,” Mr. Christie said. “I don’t appreciate the implications you’re making.” According to NJPoliticker’s Matt Friedman, “Cohen responded that he ‘had no idea’ that Christie was Italian-American.”

National Review’s Jim Geraghty wasn’t buying the coincidence.

“And while questioning a witness who’s running as a corruption-busting reformer, Cohen just happened to quote ‘The Godfather’ in reference to his Italian-American witness’s decisions. Cohen emphasized that this just happened, he couldn’t possibly have known that Christie was Italian-American, obviously the witness before him could just as easily be African-American or Puerto Rican or Chinese or Scandinavian,” he wrote at his National Review blog, the Campaign Spot.

Canadian speech

Maine borders only one American state, and most of its land boundary is shared with Canada. The Canadian influence may be more than geographic, as Maine state bureaucrats, in an act reminiscent of Canada’s speech-restricting human-rights commissions, are threatening a Christian group with $4,000 in fines for mailings containing an “inflammatory anti-Muslim message.”

Patrick Poole wrote at Pajamas Media that the Christian Action Network (CAN) “received notice of the fines and the fundraising ban in a May 6 letter from Elaine Thibodeau of the State of Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. Enclosed in the letter was a prepared consent agreement” that, among other things, required CAN to admit all charges — without appeal, including Maine’s “assertion that their mailing amounted to hate speech.”

Mr. Poole wrote that “in two separate rounds of correspondence with Thibodeau, I inquired what basis the state used to determine that the mailing was ‘inflammatory,’ but she refused to address that question on both occasions.”

The letter in question encouraged CAN supporters to mail Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, asking him to prevent instruction in Maine similar to a curriculum on Islam used in California that requires students to recite Muslim prayers and adopt Muslim clothing and names.

“Ms. Thibodeau makes two regulatory claims that prompted the $4,000 in fines. The first claim made by the state is that CAN was not properly registered when the mailings were sent. The second is that CAN used Maine Gov. John Baldacci’s name without his permission,” Mr. Poole reports.

CAN disputes the truth of the first claim. As for the second, “the free-speech chilling effect from Maine could be enormous, as their interpretation of state law could virtually outlaw any issue mentioning government officials without obtaining their prior written consent. As [CAN President Martin] Mawyer observes, ‘Imagine not being able to criticize a public official without their express written permission or without any reference to them whatsoever.’”

Green beef

As 50 percent of the surviving Fab Four, plus a knight of the realm, Sir Paul McCartney has an enormous responsibility to guide our lifestyle choices.

He recently has gone on a kick about meat (his first wife Linda also was known as an animal rights and vegetarian crusader), pushing for “Meat-Free Mondays” and citing a U.N. report that cows cause 18 percent of the worlds carbon emissions.

Michael Deacon of the Daily Telegraph, cheeky as only a Fleet Street reporter can be, explained that the reason is that “to put it plainly … cows break a stupendous volume of wind.”

“Sir Paul’s solution is that we eat less meat.… I fear there is a flaw to his logic. Because if we eat less meat, the cows will live, and thus continue blowing” methane into the atmosphere.

“The truth is, Sir Paul, that there is only one way to save our planet from these dangerous beasts: Kill them. … So let us rise as one and join the fight against climate change today: The farmers must keep slaughtering and the burger-bar customers must keep eating. The cycle must never stop, lest our toxic bovine foes overcome us,” he concluded, tongue firmly in cheek.

Blinded by science

Remember how President Bush supposedly suppressed scientific findings in favor of ideologically predetermined conclusions?

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, at least according to a little-noticed report at CBS News’ technology site CNet late last week.

“The Environmental Protection Agency may have suppressed an internal report that was skeptical of claims about global warming, including whether carbon dioxide must be strictly regulated by the federal government, according to a series of newly disclosed e-mail messages,” Declan McCullagh reports.

“Less than two weeks before the agency formally submitted its pro-regulation recommendation to the White House, an EPA center director quashed a 98-page report that warned against making hasty ‘decisions based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data.’

“The EPA official, Al McGartland, said in an e-mail to a staff researcher on March 17: ‘The administrator and the administration have decided to move forward … and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision,’” CNet reported.

“Alan Carlin, the primary author of the 98-page EPA report, said in a telephone interview on Friday that his boss, McGartland, was being pressured himself. ‘It was his view that he either lost his job or he got me working on something else,’ Carlin said. ‘That was obviously coming from higher levels.’”

The EPA criticized as “entirely false” any “claims that this individual’s opinions were not considered or studied.”

The 98-page report is available online.