Saturday, March 19, 2005

Insurgency Is Fading Fast

NYT reports Insurgency Is Fading Fast, Top Marine in Iraq Says

The top Marine officer in Iraq said Friday that the number of attacks against American troops in Sunni-dominated western Iraq and death tolls had dropped sharply over the last four months, a development that he called evidence that the insurgency was weakening in one of the most violent areas of the country. The officer, Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, head of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, said that insurgents were averaging about 10 attacks a day, and that fewer than two of those attacks killed or wounded American forces or damaged equipment. That compared with 25 attacks a day, five of them with casualties or damage, in the weeks leading up to the pivotal battle of Falluja in November, he said.

Jan Haugland blogs: It is worth noting that the NYT article is about as negative as it can possibly get, considering the positive information. But that is hardly surprising.

Gregory Djerejian blogs: You might have thought the linked New York Times piece would be front page news. It wasn't, alas, as I found out whilst thumbing through the paper edition today. Imagine the placement of the story if the insurgency had worsened since the elections. Much more prominent, one suspects, eh?

CQ blogs: Democratization, as we have seen, provides the only long-term solution to terrorism. When given a choice, people want freedom, not tyrannies. Even the New York Times appears to be learning this lesson ... slowly.

Pejman Yousefzadeh blogs: It should be noted that since insurgencies of all stripes gain support, power and momentum if they have a good relationship with the populace, it should come as little surprise that the Iraqi insurgency is now fading. After all, the Iraqi people are now more fully vested in controlling the destiny of their country, and have even less interest than they might have had in the past in allying themselves with the insurgency. And any semblance of an alliance has been destroyed, of course, by the insurgent attacks on Iraqis that Captain Ed discusses.

It must have really hurt Eric Schmitt to have to write this good news. At first I thought he might be different from most NYT reporters, but then I took a look at some of his earlier stories:

NYT does not need to worry about Eric; the news was just too good for him to frame it any other way.


Judicial Appointments

As HughHewitt and Instapundit noticed, Barbara Boxer wants to change the Constitution to require a supermajority for judicial confirmation. RadioBlogger has a tape of the MoveOn rally of Democratic all-stars, and Barbara said:

Why would we give lifetime appointments to people who earn up to $200,000 a year, with absolutely a great retirement system, and all the things all Americans wish for, with absolutely no check and balance except that one confirmation vote. So we're saying we think you ought to get nine votes over the 51 required. That isn't too much to ask for such a super important position. There ought to be a super vote. Don't you think so? It's the only check and balance on these people. They're in for life. They don't stand for election like we do, which is scary.
You can't believe she would be stupid enough to actually say that? Well listen to her say it.

I wonder what Barbara's opinion would be if the situation was reversed, i.e. if the Dems held the White House, the Senate, and the House, and the Republicans wanted to block a Democratic President's appointments that had the support of a majority of the Senate. No, really I don't wonder. I know what she would think. She would think that the Republicans were just being mean, and she would support stopping any Republican filibuster.

RadioBlogger also quotes what RobertByrd said:
Some in the United States Senate want to bully the American people and the Senate and force feed us far right wing judges. We cannot let them do it. Don't let them do it. Speak out. Tell the people. Get the people. Get the people. We cannot let them do it. Their view of the Constitution is based on the opinions of a fancy Washington law firm. Our view, your view, of the Constitution is based on the plain words of the framers who wrote that Constitution.

Radioblogger gave a very appropriate analysis Time out. The Democrat's view, and the public's view, is based on the plain words of the framers? The plain words that say 51 votes to confirm a nominee is all that is required? Those plain words?
See my earlier blog for further information on Byrd's position.

The Democrats are so upset at the fact that they don't control the White House, the Senate, or the House, and they are determined to use any means possible to prevent Bush from appointing any more conservative judges. See Judicial Confirmation Statistics for a very good analysis


The time has come to let Terri Schiavo die

I agree with Arthur Caplan, Ph.D. (and director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania), The time has come to let Terri Schiavo die

We have now reached the endgame in the case of Terri Schiavo. Her husband, Michael, remains unwavering in his view that she would not want to live in the state she is in. Despite the fact that he has been made the target of an incredible organized campaign of vilification, slander and just plain nastiness, he remains unmoved. Even a pathetic effort to bribe him into changing his mind with the offer of $1 million did not budge him. He says he loves his wife and will do whatever it takes to end an existence that he believes she would not want to endure. He thinks that she would want her feeding tube stopped and that she would wish to die rather than remain bed-bound in a nursing home in a permanent vegetative state for the rest of her days.

The Schindler parents and their other children remain equally convinced that Michael is wrong. They say that Terri would want to live, that she is not as brain-damaged as Michael contends, and that there is still hope for her recovery despite the fact that she has failed to show any real improvement in 16 years. They argue that there are still more treatments to be tried and that as a Catholic Terri would want to honor recent Papal teachings that feeding tubes should not be removed from those in permanent vegetative states.....

But, isn’t it true that tough questions have been raised about whether he has her best interests at heart? They have. But, these charges against Michael Schiavo have been heard in court again and again and again. And no court has found them persuasive.

Has there really been careful review of this case? Is Terri really unable to think or feel or sense? Will she never recover? The flurry of activity in Washington and Tallahassee might make you think there has not. But that is not so.

There have been at least 11 applications to the Florida Court of Appeal in this case resulting in four published decisions; four applications to the Florida Supreme Court with one published decision (Bush v. Schiavo); three lawsuits in federal district court; three applications to the U.S. Supreme Court and nearly untold motions in the trial court. This has got to be the most extensively litigated "right-to-die" case in U.S. history. No one looking at what has gone on in the courts in this case could possibly deny that all parties have had ample opportunity for objective and independent review by earnest and prudent judges of the facts and trial court orders.

I agree with Dr Caplan, this situation has been heard in court many many times, and most of these are documented here.

I have heard many times bloggers say "there has been no proof she had bulimia", but if that was true, why in January 1993 did Michael recovers $1 million settlement for medical malpractice claim involving Terri's care (jury had ruled in Michael's favor on allegations Terri's doctors failed to diagnose her bulimia, which led to her heart failure; case settled while on appeal).

I have also heard many times bloggers say "she never had a Guardian Ad Litem", but she did,in December, 2003. He was Jay Wolfson, DrPH, JD, and his report is here (PDF File).

That report says "The cause of the cardiac arrest was adduced to a dramatically reduced potassium level in Theresa’s body. Sodium and potassium maintain a vital, chemical balance in the human body that helps define the electrolyte levels. The cause of the imbalance was not clearly identified, but may be linked, in theory, to her drinking 10-15 glasses of iced tea each day. While no formal proof emerged, the medical records note that the combination of aggressive weight loss, diet control and excessive hydration raised questions about Theresa suffering from Bulimia, an eating disorder, more common among women than men, in which purging through vomiting, laxatives and other methods of diet control becomes obsessive. See also this article.

I have heard many times bloggers dismiss Michael's opinion because he moved on with his life and met another woman (with whom he has had two children), but the GAL's report says It took Michael a long time to consider the prospect of getting on with his life – something he was actively encouraged to do by the Schindlers, long before enmity tore them apart. He was even encouraged by the Schindlers to date, and introduced his in-law family to women he was dating.

I have heard many times bloggers say "Michael beat Terri". They are referring to a bone scan taken in 1991 and the doctor who read it saw on it evidence of past trauma at various places on Terri's body. Some consider that evidence of a severe beating by her husband, others consider it evidence consistent with bulimia, a fall, and CPR by paramedics. The issue was raised by the Schindlers in a November 2002 emergency motion. Judge Greer rejected the matter as being irrelevant to the issue of Terri's wishes.

I am pro-life, and some wonder why I am not campaigning for Terri to be kept alive. I was recently (September, 2004) in the hospital, and fully alert and able to make my wishes known, yet it took a threat to leave AMA (Against Medical Advice), pick up a complete copy of my record, and go to a lawyer to initiate legal action, before going to another hospital to get treatment for the condition that caused me to be hospitalized in the first place, rather than treatment for an unrelated matter which the doctor insisted on trying to force me to accept, before I got the treatment I wanted. I hate to think what would have happened had I been unconscious, and had to depend on them following a DNR form the hospital had in my file.

The Constitution (Article I, Section 9, paragraph 3) prohibits a Bill of Attainder that singles out an individual or group for punishment without a trial. I also do not believe that either the state or federal legislature should pass legislation designed to affect one person's life, one way or the other, and I certainly don't think they should abuse the committee subpoena power for one committee chairman to try to do it.

Byron LaMasters blogged: I could not imagine the horror of living 15 years attached to a feeding tube without the ability to think or communicate for myself. Given the choice of a brainless existence or death, I would choose to die - the choice that Terri Schiavo and her husband have made. That is much more humane than allowing someone to suffer for years on end. I pray that Terri Schiavo's suffering is nearing its end.


Friday, March 18, 2005

I'm not here to talk about the past.

Thursday, March 17, the House decided to waste the day pretending to be hard on baseball players expected of steriod abuse. NYT reports Commissioner Bud Selig Selig told the committee that the steroid problem in baseball had been blown out of proportion. "Do we have a major problem? No," he said..... Jose Canseco told the committee that steroids are dangerous and should be banned, the opposite of what he wrote in his book. Mr. Schilling said there was very little steroid use in baseball, the opposite of what he has told reporters in the past....

[But] Mark McGwire, one of the top home run hitters in baseball history, refused repeatedly during a Congressional hearing Thursday to say whether he used steroids while he played.... Mr. McGwire, who retired after the 2001 season, refused a request by Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, to give a clear answer about whether he had used steroids. "Are you taking the Fifth?" Mr. Cummings demanded. "I'm not here to discuss the past," Mr. McGwire responded. "I'm here to be positive about this subject." Representative William Lacy Clay, Democrat of Missouri, said: "Mr. McGwire, we are both fathers of young children. Both my son and daughter love sports and they look up to stars like you. Can we look at those children with a straight face and tell them that great players like you play the game with honesty and integrity?" Mr. McGwire replied, "Like I said earlier, I'm not going to go into the past and talk about my past." Yet Mr. McGwire offered to be a spokesman against steroids. "My message is steroids are bad, don't do them," he said.

The Chicago Tribune said The steroids hearing should be out at first.... It was said of one member of Congress that the most dangerous place in Washington was between him and a television camera. The same is true, though, of many of his colleagues, past and present..... We're at war in Iraq, at war in Afghanistan, threatened by Al Qaeda, mired in budget deficits, faced with gargantuan liabilities in Social Security and Medicare, struggling to sustain the fighting capacity of our military forces--and what does this committee think warrants its urgent attention? Whether a handful of overpaid entertainers are taking forbidden pills to improve their performance.... The hearing rests on two well-worn premises that ought to offend the conservative sensibilities of Republicans, who control this committee and Congress. The first is that absolutely everything is a federal responsibility. The second is that the private sector needs incessant guidance from government.

Robert Clayton Dean said Now the US Congress, apparently not satisfied with embarrassing itself* in its ongoing investigation into steroid use in major league baseball.... While at the gym yesterday, I caught a few minutes of the steroid hearings. It was painfully embarassing to see the solons of American governance earnestly seeking noted idiot Jose Canseco's advice on public policy. A quick survey of the fellows in the locker room revealed that this latest Congressional exercise in nannying competent adults and chasing headlines is not being well-received by the public. The universal sentiment was, "Don't they have anything better to do?"

Howard Kurtz said Mark McGwire, who hit 70 homers in '98, said he wouldn't dignify Canseco's charge that Jose had injected him with steroids by saying whether he or anyone else had used steroids. This non-denial denial made him look foolish and neutralized his sobs about the horrors of the drug. He may as well have stood up and shouted that he had cheated. And I write this as someone who admired the way he handled himself seven years ago.

Congress has many very important things to worry about. Why did they they decide they needed to waste the day browbeating some baseball players? Now if they wanted to actually pass some legislation to stop steroid use, that would have been one thing, but this hearing was a waste of time.


Google Open Source

Information Week reports Like its fellow E-commerce leviathans and eBay, Google is facing a reality of the Internet business: It needs to court independent software programmers as well as customers. Google today launched, a site for programmers interested in writing applications that work in coordination with Google's search site.

It initially includes four projects that Google developers have worked on and are releasing as open-source code through SourceForge, as well as application programming interfaces that are used to let other software interact with Google.

Companies like Google, Amazon, and eBay are increasingly courting outside programmers to create tools that interact with their Web sites, hoping to become online hubs of commerce with themselves as the technology platform in the middle of it. "One thing we really wanted to put up on Google Code was a way of bringing recognition to those people and groups who have created programs that use our APIs or the code we have released," writes Chris DiBona, open source program manager, on the Google Code page.

eWeek revealed Ask Jeeves is considering open source, and Yahoo is doing it too.

There is also a Blogger Development Network

Click here for a behind-the-scenes look at how Google operates, and click here for a summary of what is new in the world of search engines.


Unrestrained Growth

Jonathan R raises the question Why Bother Voting Republican for Senate? and goes on to complain about the Senate Republicans that restrain entitlements, in particular the Senate rejecting any cuts in Medicaid spending.

He refers to a Heritage PowerPoint presentation which shows that those 3 programs combined with interest on the debt (which also cannot be cut) dwarf the "discretionary" part of the budget, which is the part Congress can control.

He then states Without entitlement reform, the only alternative will be a crushingly high tax burden that will turn America's economy to something resembling Germany's because even eviscerating all other programs, including defense, will not suffice. Either we make the hard decisions now, or face a much more painful situation in the future.

So it seems Senate Republicans are opting for increased spending by politicians instead of tax cuts for citizens. Their cowardice is appalling but it's our fault as well. The politicians need to hear from the rank-and-file that we understand these problems and want bold action. Otherwise, we need some primary challengers to keep these profligate spenders honest.

His point is valid. We need to restrain growth in entitlements as well as discretionary spending. The answer to his question "Why Bother Voting Republican for Senate?" is we need to get more real Republicans in the Senate, not RINOs or Democrats.

For those wanting to do further research, the budget bill that passed 51-49 was S.CON.RES.18 and the ammendment that passed 52-48 to restore the Medicaid cuts was S.AMDT.204. The vote on that ammendment is here.

RINOs that voted for the amendment were Chafee (R-RI), Collins (R-ME), DeWine (R-OH), Smith (R-OR), Snowe (R-ME), and Specter (R-PA).



Mark Noonan blogs about Mindless Blather on ANWR which left me Rolling On the Floor Laughing (ROFL)

He starts out with a quote [warning, if you view that article you will have to use the downarrow in your browser to get back, because it disables the back arrow] from Patti Davis, daughter of President Ronald Reagan

It’s possible that the only thing we will be able to do is weep—at the devastation of wild, untamed land where caribou are free to breed and give birth far away from the harm that humans bring. Where polar bear are a common sight and where cars and trucks and engines are never heard. Where people are outnumbered by the vast numbers of birds and animals—safe for the moment, but soon to be doomed.
Michael then comments Gives you a vision of Bambi scampering through the forest mighty, doesn't it? In case you don't catch in the words, the piece includes a picture of bison in an ANWR meadow, the clear implication being that President Bush and Evil Big Oil (by unanimous consent of the Left, "Evil" was attached to "Big Oil" late last year) are going to rape this pristine environment.

There is another quote from Patty and a response which I won't bother to quote, but he then gets to the heart of the matter. I added the underlines.

As well as being absurd, Ms. Davis is also incorrect; she states that 1.2 million acres of ANWR will be used for oil drilling. The actual fact is that only about 2,000 acres will be needed; and far from being a pristine wilderness, the area in question is home to a village of 260 Inupiat natives. There are, obviously, houses but there are also schools, stores, boats, an airstrip, power lines; heck, even an oil well. The land, also, is owned by the Inupiat's; and there's something deliciously ironic about lefty environmentalists essentially telling Native Americans that they cannot use their own land. Maybe if they only wanted to build a casino....

There's also the usual irony of very rich, idle leftwingers like Patti Davis straying into areas they lack any knowledge of and making hard and fast decrees about what is right and wrong. The only fact of ANWR for the left is that it includes the term "wildlife"; with that, all development must stop. Doesn't matter if it can be done or if it will be beneficial; the only thing which matters is that Evil People (ie, you and me) don't get their greedy, blood-soaked, lying hands on it.

Mark then gets to the part that had me rolling on the floor, laughing

Do you want to know what we should do? We should pass some environmental laws concerning coastal areas and mountains with a view of same; demand strict accountability and that no changes be made. Call it the Malibu/Beverly Hills National Wildlife Refuge. Start kicking rich, ageing lefties out of their homes all in the name of helping the environment. Give 'em a taste of their own medicine, and maybe they'll start to get some sense knocked into their heads.


Thursday, March 17, 2005


Break out the party hats, it is time to celebrate. According to Slashdot it is now 1111111111 (in Unix Time).

This converter converts a Unix timestamp to a Readable Date/time and it converts a Date/Time to a Unix timestamp

Unix time is based on the number of seconds since January 1, 1970.

CST (Central Standard Time) = GMT-6 and this converter shows that Fri, 18 Mar 2005 01:58:31 GMT is Thu, 17 Mar 2005 19:58:31 CST.

It is now only 1036372537 seconds from 2^31 (ie Tue, 19 Jan 2038 03:14:08 GMT) which is the dreaded Year 2038 problem which results from computing dates into the year 2038 and beyond in 32-bit operating systems. Switching to 64-bit computing solves the problem. We reported earlier Pentium 4 to be replaced by dual core processors so hopefully machines in 2038 will be have 64 bit processors (or greater), and hopefully even the old computers being retired then will be >32bit so that HelpingTulsa won't have to deal with this problem.

Hat tip to Tech Smores


Most Iraqis say future looks brighter

Barbara Slavin wrote in USA Today More Iraqis believe their country is headed in the right direction and fewer think it's going wrong than at any time since the U.S. invasion two years ago, according to a new poll.

The survey of 1,967 Iraqis was conducted Feb. 27-March 5, after Iraq held its first free elections in half a century in January. According to the poll, 62% say the country is headed in the right direction and 23% say it is headed in the wrong direction. That is the widest spread recorded in seven polls by the group, says Stuart Krusell, IRI director of operations for Iraq. In September, 45% of Iraqis thought the country was headed in the wrong direction and 42% thought it was headed in the right direction. The IRI is a non-partisan, U.S. taxpayer-funded group that promotes democracy abroad. Pollsters did not survey three of Iraq's 18 provinces because of security and logistical concerns. Two of those omitted, Anbar and Ninevah, are predominantly Sunni Muslim. A third, Dahuk, is mostly Kurdish. Krusell said that even if those areas had been included and 100% had expressed negative views, the poll would still have shown that most Iraqis believe that the situation in their country is improving.

Blogger Cori Dauber has a great post about the New York Times and their quest to find bad news in Iraq no matter what the facts may be. I highly recommend it to everyone. You might also like her earlier post about how the NYT distorts things. And sure enough, here which distorts the results of this poll.

As blogger Pejman Yousefzadeh says Of course, not all is utopian in Iraq, but since optimism is a force multiplier, the poll and the results that it reports may be a harbinger of more good things to come.

GPR points out that on a day when Iraq held their first freely elected parliament in 50 years, news wire agencies felt the need to "balance" the coverage by running headlines such as the following: Iraq's New Assembly Opens Amid Explosions. This is a common tactic by the MSM, where positive news is almost always offset by bad news and can be viewed as an attempt by the MSM to portray themselves as "fair and balanced." But we have a hard time remembering the last time a headline reporting a suicide bomb was offset by mentioning a school opening or the restoration of a medical clinic. And he points out that TigerHawk puts into (historical) perspective the explosions that took place while Iraq's new assembly opened. I recommend you read everything Tigerhawk wrote, but the conclusion was If you are a Western supporter of Arab democracy, be reassured that the Iraqis are moving with astonishing speed by historical standards. If you Iraqi, you should know that the first parliamentarians of the oldest democracies on Earth met and legislated at risk for their own lives.

I am sure that there will be bumps in the road to Democracy, but I believe that the Iraqis are headed down that road.


Amazing Story

Peggy Noonan wrote The amazing story of how Ashley Smith stopped Brian Nichols's killing spree. Ashley Smith and Brian Nichols were together for seven hours. This is Nichols's mug shot. This is Nichols's face after he gave himself up to police Saturday. Something changed. Something happened.

Then as blogger Vanderleun: said she steps gracefully aside and let Ashley Smith tell it in her own words.... Read it carefully and thoughtfully. You say you don't believe in miracles? You will.

I agree with Vanderleun. The only thing I will do is show you the pictures (reduced to fit) side by side so you can see the difference. You can click on the picture to see it full size.

Now go read what Peggy wrote.

As blogger Ann Althouse wrote: Noonan adds:
It is an idiot's errand to follow such testimony with commentary. It's too big. There is nothing newspaper-eloquent to say. We have entered Flannery O'Connor country, and only geniuses need apply.

Here are mere facts. They were together seven hours and each emerged transformed. He gave himself up without a fight and is now in prison. She reported to police all that had transpired, the police told the press, and now she is famous.

Tuesday evening on the news a "hostage rescue expert" explained that she "negotiated like a pro." Actually what she did is give Christian witness. It wasn't negotiation. It had to do with being human.
Noonan's absolutely right. It was so clear that the "negotiated like a pro" explanation was not at all what happened. Maybe there are some pros who can feign such things, but I doubt it. It's even hard to imagine anyone telling the story in such beautiful sentences as those in the Smith transcript at the link. Fiction writers can only hope to labor to produce lines that good.


Don't Blame the Judge

The NYT ran a story In Schiavo Feeding-Tube Case, Notoriety Finds Unlikely Judge featuring Judge George W. Greer and indicated For the past seven years, though, Judge Greer, of Circuit Court, has been at the center of one of the nation's most contentious civil cases, the battle over whether to withdraw the feeding tube of a critically brain-damaged woman, Terri Schiavo. The case has made him a target of religious conservatives and others who object to ending any life prematurely. He resigned from his Southern Baptist church and lately travels under heavy police protection, not even going to lunch unaccompanied. Over the years, the case has traveled all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Yet it always returns to Judge Greer, 63, who most recently ordered that Mrs. Schiavo's feeding tube be removed on Friday.... Opponents have sent hundreds of letters and e-mail messages to the judge, picketed his courthouse in Clearwater, and, in a few cases, friends said, threatened his life..... Judge Greer could have avoided the Schiavo case by retiring early, friends said, but instead he ran in 2004 for another six-year term.

Barbara O'Brien blogs There are probably not enough clues in the world to enlighten Terri Schiavo groupies. The judge who ordered her feeding tube to be removed has received so many death threats from the pro-lifers (I'll pause and let that one sink in) that he has to have bodyguards at all times. And he's worried for the safety of his wife and children.

I don't agree with most of what Barbara writes, but I must agree with her that it does not make a lot of sense to me for a pro-lifer to threaten a judge's life.

Hugh Hewitt blogs In one of the great lapses of editorial judgment in recent years, the article quotes a friend of the judge:

"'It's killing me to watch him struggle with this,' said Mary Repper, a retired political consultant who worked on several of Judge Greer's campaigns."

Of course it will be Terry Schiavo who will end up dead if this judge's ruling stands.

That is certainly true, however Hugh just showed you the first sentence of the paragraph:

"It's killing me to watch him struggle with this," said Mary Repper, a retired political consultant who worked on several of Judge Greer's campaigns. "Armed guards with him all the time. People threatening to kill him and claiming it has something to do with the right to life - explain that, will you? I know he's concerned about his family and his wife, because it has gotten so ugly."
Mary may not die from the stress of seeing Judge Greer's struggle, and certainly Terry Schiavo will end up dead if the judge's ruling stands, but so may Judge Greer if the people that have threatened to kill him do it. I usually agree with Hugh, certainly much more than I do with Barbara, but I must split with Hugh this time. I agree with both a lot more than I agree with this next blogger:

Oliver @LiquidList blogs Lefkow. Barnes. Greer. When the President assaults the judiciary, America assaults the judiciary

U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow's husband and mother were found slain at her home, and as the linked article indicates, extremists on the Internet "are expressing satisfaction that they were killed. Whether you agree with Judge Lefkow's decisions or not, killing her or her relatives is not the solution.

Superior Court Judge Rowland W. Barnes was killed by a rape suspect in Atlanta. It had nothing to do with any political matter, and in any event Judge Barnes was appointed by the Governor of Georgia, not the President.

Circuit Court Judge George W. Greer is not appointed by the President, he is elected for six year terms, and as the NYT article indicates, he was just reelected in 2004, and he was up for election several times since the Terri Schiavo case started. If the people did not like the job he was doing, they would not have reelected him.

The matter with Terri Schiavo is certainly a disturbing one. Whether she is allowed to die, as her husband says she wanted, or whether she is kept in the state she is in, as her parents want, is not up to me to decide. I think the lesson we should all learn from Terri is that people should never depend on verbal end-of-life wishes, but that everyone should have a Living Will, such as that available here or here or here or here or here or here. But regardless of whether she lives or dies, no one should harm the judge.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Welcome to the Blogosphere

A new blogger, The Prickly Pear, poses a very interesting article What Christianity has Wrought, which raises some very interesting points:

Too often, I pick up a newspaper and read a letter to the editor attacking Christianity. Almost always the letter writer incorrectly blames Christianity for slavery, the holocaust, and any other ill the writer can think of. Everyone, it seems, is an expert on what Christianity has done wrong. I have yet to read a letter listing the incredible good Christians have done for the world. I will attempt to list some of the accomplishments of Christians and Christianity here.

Thousands of years before Christianity, men of all races and religions practiced slavery. No one stopped it until Christians created a movement that ended the practice.

The civil rights movement was started by a Christian, a Baptist minister, and the movement’s political vocabulary was religious.

Christians helped facilitate a cease-fire between the Columbian government and a brutal paramilitary group.

For centuries, Christians established hospitals and ran them. The first hospital in England was founded by the Archbishop of Canterbury. By the 1920's, Catholics had founded more than five hundred hospitals in America alone. Christians established havens for the deaf, blind, and mentally ill.

Christians brought about literacy on the American frontier. (The first schools were founded, because their parents wanted them to know how to read the Bible.)

Christians established leper houses and risked their own health to care for the lepers.

In his post Freedom he says: I was a democrat, a liberal, who lived in an area where only left-wing liberals lived. Everything was hunky-dory until I questioned a couple of leftwing viewpoints. By the reaction I received, you'd think I'd committed murder. The responses to my questions were so hostile that after awhile I became afraid to express myself honestly. I realized if I did, I would be ostracized from my associates and friends. Instead I just repeated the usual liberal mantras and kept the peace. I wonder if there are other liberals who do the same thing?

I'm a new Republican now, and the thing that amazes me is that liberals and democrats can disagree with Republicans to their faces, and the Republicans will argue policy with them, sometimes passionately. But they never seem to attack on a personal level. Or behave in a way that makes the liberal shut up. As a Republican, I feel like I have my freedom back. I'd lost it. Not like the people in the Middle East, of course. But in a way, my experience differs only in the matter of degree.

Welcome to the Blogosphere, Prickly Pear


ANWR has a chance

NYT reports Senate Votes to Allow Drilling in Arctic Reserve

The Senate endorsed oil-drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge today, giving President Bush and others who favor exploration of the Alaska wilderness a major victory.

The 51-to-49 vote was in favor of a budget resolution that assumes revenues of some $5 billion from drilling fees over the next decade, with the federal government and the state of Alaska to split the money.

While this afternoon's vote is not the final word on the issue, it nevertheless made drilling in the wilds of Alaska - an idea favored by the oil industry for decades and fiercely opposed by environmental groups - far more likely than before.

For drilling to take place, the Senate will later have to pass a measure explicitly authorizing the opening of the wildlife refuge to drilling, something that until now has been prohibited. Then the House of Representatives would have to explicitly authorize drilling as well.

Since the House has endorsed Arctic drilling several times over the years, this afternoon's vote in the Senate was seen by vote-watchers on both sides as perhaps pivotal. In the Senate, opponents of drilling have used the chamber's parliamentary devices - notably, the threat of a filibuster, a stalling tactic that requires 60 of the Senate's 100 votes to overcome - to frustrate supporters.

This afternoon's vote came on an amendment sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington and several other Democrats. It would have removed language in the budget resolution for 2006 that assumes that drilling will take place.

CNN reports Bush has called tapping the reserve's oil a critical part of the nation's energy security and a way to reduce America's reliance on imported oil, which account for more than half of the 20 million barrels of crude use daily. The Alaska refuge could supply as much as 1 million barrels day at peak production, drilling supporters said..... Drilling proponents say that modern drilling technology can safeguard the refuge and still tap the likely -- though not yet certain -- 10.4 billion barrels of crude in the refuge.

Thanks to TheLeftCoaster for the vote count:

These are the Democrats who voted with for drilling:


And these are the Republicans who voted against drilling:

Lincoln Chafee-RI
Norm Coleman-MN
Susan Collins-ME
Mike DeWine-OH
John McCain-AZ
Gordon Smith-OR
Olympia Snowe-ME

Jim Jeffords voted with the Democrats.

Guess what. The MainStreamMedia does not like it.

Some were just bitter, such as the San Jose Mercury News which said President Bush can just about mount the trophy he's been hunting. We suggest a caribou head over a White House fireplace to signify approval of oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Others were so upset they decided to lie, even after the vote: Seattle Times said Drilling for oil along the remote coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge does not buy the United States a nickel's worth of energy security. This is a fight about symbolism and political trophies.

Some were both bitter, and decided to lie, like the Village Voice which said Bush Digs Dry Well in Alaska - Glut of right wingers, dearth of oil. Docile as always, members of the Senate yesterday narrowly voted to support President's Bush quack solution to the energy crisis, i.e. opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. In addition to wrecking the ecology, oil drilling in Alaska won't produce more than a puddle of crude toward reducing energy imports in the Lower 48.

DailyKos is a very extreme left blog, and on it lorax offers three ways they might still defeat Arctic Wildlife Refuge drilling

  1. Focus on defeating the entire Senate budget. This is a distinct possibility, if we can cobble together a coalition of Arctic Wildlife Refuge drilling opponents and enough fiscally conservative Republicans to oppose this bloated, deficit-expanding budget. It is very common for budgets to go unapproved. Dems can offer to support the budget if Arctic Wildlife Refuge drilling is removed.
  2. The House budget does not include a provision for Arctic drilling. This is somewhat of an anomaly, as the House has been much more enthusiastic in the past about drilling the Arctic Wildlife Refuge than has the Senate. The budgets will have to undergo a reconciliation process, and maybe we can use this as another bottleneck to protect our national treasure.
  3. Worst-case scenario--the budget passes both houses with a provision to open the Arctic Wildlife Refuge for drilling. Then we take it to the corporations.... boycotting ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco, the satan-spawn corporations behind this administration and drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.


Iraqi Assembly Convenes

NYT reports Seven weeks after Iraqis defied insurgent threats to take part in the country's first free election in decades, members of the constitutional assembly convened here today for the first time, even as a series of explosions shook the heart of the capital.

The meeting, which lasted about an hour, was called even though leading politicians had failed so far to form a coalition government. The members of the 275-seat newly elected National Assembly walked quietly into the heavily fortified convention center on the west bank of the Tigris River, with little pomp but with a solemnity indicating they understood the gravity, and the immense hardships, of the task ahead of them.

The largely ceremonial meeting adjourned after the assembly members took their oath of office soon after 1 p.m., without even taking the first formal step toward putting together a government: electing a president, two vice presidents and a speaker of the assembly.

The members stood up together in the auditorium and raised their right hands as the head of the judiciary council charged them with upholding the country's newfound freedoms, among other duties. As a body, they represented the diverse nature of Iraqi society, with clerics in black turbans seated alongside Western-educated men in pinstripe suits and women in full-length robes.

Congratulations and Best Wishes to the People of Iraq


Yahoo 360

USA Today reports Yahoo is preparing to introduce a new service that blends several of its Web site's popular features with two of the Internet's fastest growing activities — blogging and social networking.

The hybrid service, called "Yahoo 360," won't be available until March 29, but it is designed to enable Yahoo's 165 million registered users to pull content from the Web site's discussion groups, online photo albums and review section to plug into their own Web logs, or blogs, the Internet shorthand used to describe online personal journals.

WebProNews reports the promotional web site is live now, and he was able to log in to a page with more info using my Yahoo! ID, but was unable to actually try the service.

ZDNet reports Yahoo's move comes as social networking and blogging draw increased interest from rivals, including Microsoft and Google. Microsoft in December added a blog product for its MSN Web service, called MSN Spaces. Google, meanwhile, owns Web log service Blogger and social networking site Orkut.

WebProNews reports Signing up for the service will be by invitation only, according to Yahoo (similar to how Google introduced Gmail).... I would imagine that Yahoo 360° will directly compete with MSN Spaces, the social networking/blogging service launched by Microsoft last December.

There is a page where you can volunteer to be added to the beta test.


Make them do it

AP reports Democrats Threaten to Stop Senate Business if GOP Changes Rules on Judge Confirmations. "To shut down the Senate would be irresponsible and partisan," Frist said in swift rebuttal. "The solution is simple: return to 200 years of tradition and allow up or down votes on judges."

Hugh Hewitt comments The battle over judicial nominees grows closer and closer. Democrats panic, and send Harry "Loose Slots" Reid out to explain that the unprecedented filibuster of judicial nominees is keeping the Republic from ruin. Really.

Orrin Judd asks Is there any downside to this for the GOP?

CQ comments Reid starts off by completely misinterpreting the intent of the Constitution's framers..... The change also doesn't eliminate debate on judicial nominations -- it removes the ability for 40 Senators to extend the debate into eternity. Claiming otherwise is nothing short of hysterical..... Since when has majority rule amounted to "absolute power"? Only since Democrats lost their absolute grip on Congress twelve years ago.

Boston Globe reports GOP sees momentum in ending judicial filibusters.... Republican activists working on the issue say they have one last obstacle to making the change -- their second-ranking Senate leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is said to be reluctant to take such a radical step..... But Manuel Miranda, a former top aide for judicial nominations to Senate majority leader Bill Frist, said "circumstances have erased many of those hesitations.... We think we have 53 votes .... The question now is not if but when."

Hugh Hewitt says Calling Senator McConnell: It is Time to End the Filibusters.

CQ comments I understand that the majority whip may not want to create more trouble than already exists in the Senate, but the antics of the Democrats in this session already demonstrate their intransigence..... The rule change will put grown-ups back in charge of Senate business and ensure votes for all judicial nominees. It will still allow for filibusters on bills and policy, where it has some application, but judicial nominees deserve respect and an up-or-down vote once they come out of committee. If Democrats want to influence that process, then they need to start winning more elections, and acting like crybabies on the floor of the Senate will not help them at all. Call the bluff and call the vote, Senator. McConnell says that the Globe article got it wrong, and issued this statement today:

View from the Left

Dr. Steven Taylor calls it a The Coming Nuclear Constitutional Option? and then goes on to say Intriguing. I am increasingly of the opinion that not only is this necessary, that the Democrats are foolish for pushing the Republicans to this point. I remain amazed that the Democrats don’t see the political opportunity here: to allow some of the high profile nominees to have a floor vote, and then use that “reasonableness” to bludgeon the GOP on the other nominees, and further, be in a position to go into the almost certain Supreme Court nomination process as the “reasonable party.” They are, instead, going the other direction, in my opinion..... I really think that the Democrats are radically miscalculating here. As I have noted numerous times: they lost Senate seats in 2002 and 2004 and yet have not changed their approach. This makes no sense.

That is what makes them Democrats.

AaronBurrFan @BOPNews focuses on Just who is Manuel Miranda? Officials familiar with the investigation identified that person as a legislative staff assistant whose name was removed from a list of Judiciary Committee staff in the most recent update of a Capitol Hill directory. The staff member's home number has been disconnected and he could not be reached for comment.... Reached at home, Miranda said he is on paternity leave

If a person used to work on the Judiciary Committee staff but now works somewhere else, why is is surprising that his name was removed from a list of Judiciary Committee staff? And if he was reached at home, why mention that his home number had been disconnected? Maybe he moved.

I am happy to see that the filibustering of judicial nominees may finally be coming to an end, and I hope that the Senate may again get the chance to vote up or down on each nominee.


Social Security Needs Help

Social Security Needs Help

The Senate unanimously agreed Tuesday that strengthening Social Security was "a vital national priority" but split acrimoniously along party lines on what to do about it in the first votes on President Bush's plans.

In one exception to the party divide, five Republicans broke ranks and voted with the Democrats in favor of a resolution declaring, "Congress should reject any Social Security plan that requires deep benefit cuts or a massive increase in debt."

There are four ways to solve the problem:

  • Raise taxes - the favorite solution of Democrats, but the Republicans are not going to go along with just raising taxes
  • Cut benefits (they just said no to that)
  • Borrow the money (they just said no to that)
  • Private Accounts, where the money is truly in a "lock box" where the government can't spend it, and where compound interest will let it grow.

Democrats argue that Bush cannot establish private investment accounts, his signature proposal for revamping the retirement program, without cutting benefits or adding to the federal budget deficit.

They argue that, but they are wrong.

"They're nervous. They're worried. But their hands are tied as long as the president sticks to privatization," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, the top Democratic spokesman on the issue in the Senate.

The only reason their hands are tied is because the Democratic leadership won't let Dems attempt to work out a compromise solution that includes Private Accounts as one key component.

The vote on the resolution, offered by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., was 50-50, with Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania joining with the chamber's Democratic minority.


Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, R-N.H., told Democrats that rather than offering a plan for overhauling the giant pension program, "You just put out there amendments which are for the purposes of political protection. You should be ashamed of yourselves."

They have no shame.

GOP Bloggers notes White House praises Senate SoSec vote and then says For more than four years the MSM has been mis-reporting on the President. They still don't understand him; they don't understand that when President Bush says he's going to do something, he keeps at it until its done. Social Security is the main reform effort of President Bush's second term and he will get it, by and by.

This is progress. The Dems have gone from "There is no crisis" to "Strengthening Social Security is a vital national priority, just don't fix it by establishing Private Accounts." Now all we have to do is peel away a few that think solving a vital national priority is more important.


Expect Social Security cuts

CNN reports Greenspan tells Congress that cuts in future retirement benefits are all but inevitable.

The Fed chairman told the Senate Special Committee on Aging that the nation has about three years to work out a fix. "In 2008, the leading edge of what must surely be the largest shift from retirement in our nation's history will become evident as some baby boomers become eligible for Social Security," he said in his prepared remarks.

By that date, the population 65 years and older will be more than one-fourth of the adult U.S. population, Greenspan said, referring to forecasts by the Social Security trustees. That would be up from 17 percent currently.

"This huge change in the structure of our population will expose all our financial retirement systems to severe stress and will require adjustments for which there are no historical precedents," he said.....

Greenspan also repeated his support for some kind of private investment accounts. The main reason he gave is that putting part of people's retirement taxes in a private account would be like putting them in a "lock-box" so that the funds could not be diverted into spending on other government programs.

The Left Coaster blog comments it any coincidence that, right when support for Social Security privatization appears headed for a free-fall, Federal Reserve Chairman and moonlighting Republican hatchet-man Alan Greenspan feels compelled to ramp up the doomsday talk? Congressional committees keep asking him the same question, and he gives the same answer. Why is that such a surprise to the Left? Sure ya did, you double-dealing little cretin. I think the blogosphere will have a gay ole' time trashing Greenspan's much-cherished "legacy" between now and his blessed retirement. Let the festivities begin. You know the Left knows they are doomed when all they can come up with is an ad hominem attack.

James Joyner notes Pollster John Zogby, a Democrat, argues that President Bush's plan to reform Social Security will likely fail but that it's nonetheless shrewd politics.

The president's real prize would be a significant realignment in party politics. It has been no secret that Mr. Bush and Karl Rove have their sights set on a political realignment not experienced since FDR built a coalition of urban ethnics, liberal ideologues and Southern conservatives under the Democrats' big tent. Like the New Deal, the president's "ownership society" is a compelling new vision and veritable redefinition of a society less dependent on government largess, of a middle class more independent and more capable of securing financial security on its own.

Tyler Cowen says Max Sawicky and I square off on taxes and spending, here is the link. Sawicky says impossible, Greenspan says inevitable.


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Raiding Retirement

New York Post published an article by Stephen Moore entitled Raiding Retirement

Saying the debate about Private Accounts should be about the positive benefits of giving every worker in America an account that they own themselves and that, as President Bush puts it, "can never be taken away by the government." Thanks to compound interest, such a system would see most young workers build accounts that total hundreds of thousands of dollars by retirement age.

Stephen is absolutely correct.

This is a very attractive proposition to workers under the age of 40. It wrestles authority away from government and gives each individual ownership and control of his or her own nest egg.

And the Democrats fear that would turn them into Republicans.

Instead, the debate on Social Security has morphed into a fracas about shoring up the finances for the government program by raising taxes, cutting benefits and/or raising the retirement age.

The Republicans seem to be offering a plan that says "pay more, work longer and get less in return." No wonder the polls show sagging support for the president's plan.

The problem is that Stephen's plan would be very good for 20 to 30 year olds, and regardless of what is done in the meantime, Social Security as we know it today will NOT be available to today's 20 to 30 year olds, and the only solution for them is to start personal accounts NOW so that by compounding it will be available for them when they are ready to retire.

Meanwhile, Democrats argue that the personal account system that Bush wants will rip a hole in the Social Security Trust Fund, because of the large transition costs. In fact, the moral high ground here belongs to the president — because those "transition costs" are all about putting a stop to Congress' annual raid on Social Security.

And is anyone surprised that they would fear that?

Every year, far more gets paid into Social Security than the program pays out. But Congress simply spends it all — on top of what's usually reported as "the deficit."

Over the past 15 years, those raids — money paid into Social Security, but spent on other government programs — have totaled more than half a trillion dollars.

As former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacoca once declared, any CEO who tried this with a private firm's pension fund would be thrown in jail.

Click to enlarge
Left Wing Blogger Angry Bear said I finally read something from Stephen Moore worth quoting but unfortunately he just quoted the above paragraph, and then he said Of course, this was Lee Iacoca’s line and Stephen does not really go after his accomplice in their Soc. Sec. scam. But George Bush ignored Al Gore’s lock box comment about not squandering the Social Security surplus and I agree this is criminal. The rest of this NY Post piece is Moore’s usual garbage Well I know Angry Bear is angry, and perhaps that is why he is confused, but the problem with Gore's LockBox is that it was a total fiction. If Bush is "raiding the lockbox" then Clinton did too, and had he been elected Gore would have raided it. Because there is no real lockbox. The law does not allow money to stay in the "Trust Fund"

So why not begin the creation of personal investment account funds with the surpluses collected each year from Social Security payroll taxes? Under this plan, all surplus collections from Social Security would automatically be diverted into personal accounts for all the workers who paid the payroll tax. The theme of this campaign could be: "Stop the raid; start the accounts."

Sounds good to me

It would be fascinating to hear liberal groups like and AARP explain why it is preferable for Congress to squander the surpluses, rather than deposit the money into workers' accounts.

That's what their claim boils down to: Rather than let today's young workers start building real retirement security, the anti-reform crowd thinks the government should take nearly $100 billion a year to spend on its programs — cash for causes from corporate agriculture to the makers of Pentagon weapons systems to the Cow Girl Hall of Fame.

It may be that the only way to stop this raid on our retirement dollars would be to deposit the money into privately owned worker accounts. If workers have the dollars in their personal accounts, there is no way Congress can get at the money to (mis)spend on other activities.

Over the next 10 years, we're talking more than half a trillion bucks: Money that can either be saved by individual American workers — or taxed in the name of Social Security but spent by Washington.

Personal accounts limited to the size of the Social Security "surplus" would be smaller than most proponents of Social Security reform have long sought, but it establishes the principle — and gives us all a chance to see how it works in practice.

And once the 20 to 30 year olds see the money compounding, they will be more inclined to put additional money in IRAs or 401Ks

I'm certain that workers will love it — and over time demand even more true ownership of their retirement money.

So stop the indefensible raid on the Social Security trust fund by starting personal retirement accounts.

Sounds good to me. And as GOP Bloggers pointed out Alan Greenspan agreed Tuesday before the Senate Special Committee on Aging: Private Accounts would be the Lockbox:
"The major attraction of personal or private accounts is that they can be constructed to be truly segregated from the unified budget," Greenspan said in his testimony.
Also see Donald Luskin's article in NRO

Larry Kudlow suggests Begin building a real pension lockbox. The funds could be invested in stock market indexes or bond market indexes. But the government would have to stop spending money that is not really theirs. Another good idea.

On first glance that seems like a reasonable alternative, except the government would be investing the money in stocks, and there would be extreme pressures to attempt to do social engineering by those investments. The money needs to be in private accounts where professional make the investment decisions, rather than in the hands of political appointees.


IBM Invents a Better Mouse

Local Tech Wire reports IBM Invents a Better Mouse – For People Fighting Hand Tremors

Big Blue scientists have created a mouse adapter that will “eliminate excessive cursor movement”, the company said. IBM has licensed the technology to Montrose Secam Limited, which is based in the United Kingdom. When available, the so-called assistive mouse adapter is expected to sell for less than $100. The adapter is designed to work with any operating system and is based on an imaging stabilization system used in some camera lenses, IBM said. An estimated 10 million people in the US alone suffer from hand tremors caused by a variety of reasons, including Parkinson’s disease.

ZDNetUK said The adapter uses a small microprocessor to apply a digital low-pass smoothing filter to the motion data from the mouse," explained Levine. "The effect is to suppress rapid tremor oscillations, which typically take place at a few cycles per second or faster, while leaving the slow, steady, progress toward the user's goal. A knob allows adjustment of the degree of smoothing, to suit the individual." It also has options to filter out short inadvertent mouse clicks, and to "clean up" double clicks that Windows would reject as too slow or too far apart.

Those without tremors tend to use the mouse quickly, and will notice that the computer is less responsive, said an IBM spokesman. This is one reason for making the device a separate box, which can be easily switched on and off by sufferers and non-sufferers alike.


Monday, March 14, 2005

Faith Helped Courthouse Shootings Hostage

FOXNews reported The only thing that helped Ashley Smith (search) get through an over-seven-hour ordeal where quadruple murder suspect Brian Nichols held her hostage was her faith in God..... "You're here in my apartment for some reason," she told him, saying he might be destined to be caught and to spread the word of God to fellow prisoners. She told him his escape from authorities had been a "miracle.".... Smith gently talked to Nichols, the armed suspect in Atlanta's courthouse slayings, and the two discussed God, family, pancakes and the massive manhunt going on outside her apartment.... "I honestly think when I looked at him that he didn't want to do it anymore," Smith said at a news conference Sunday. "I believe God brought him to my door."

Michele Catalano does not understand. If God is so interventionist as to lead this homicidal maniac to Ashley Smith's door, then why didn't he intervene when Mr. Nichols was mowing down innocent people in a courthouse? Further, why didn't God intervene when Mr. Nichols was (allegedly) raping his girlfriend? Were the deaths and rape all part of some mysterious plan to get Nichols into prison to preach the word?

The answer lies in Free Will. He gives all of us Free Will, to decide what we will do, and what we will not do. I am sure that He would be pleased if when Nichols goes to prison that he accepts Christ and preachs the word, but God certainly did not orchestrate what happened on March 11 and 12. But He certainly gave Ashley the necessary peace to enable her to survive the encounter. I don't know or care what Nichols does in prison, but I do wonder what important job He has in store for Ashley.

Michelle Malkin said that Nichols at one point called her "an angel sent from God," Smith said. and Michelle quoted Psalms 31:24: Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord

MyopicZeal said While held hostage for those seven hours, she read Purpose Driven Life to Brian Nichols. She asked him about his purpose in life, what talents he had been given to use and discussed life with him.

NeoNeoCon said The power of her story was in her sincerity, her courage, and her own belief in redemption. Whether or not you yourself are religious, there is no escaping the power of her belief, and its effect on what appears to have been the already-weary Nichols.

ChasingTheWind said Held hostage by a murderer and rapist, she teaches him the Word of God and tells him he could do the same for fellow prisoners. Incredible.

EspressoRoast said I don't know what is going to come of Nichols in the future (I hope Smith is right), but I know that there is only one source for the kind of peace and courage exhibited by Ashley Smith. It's something real inside when you lose your husband in a stabbing incident and still remain strong in your faith in God, especially in these kinds of circumstances.


Free News

The New York Times ran an article Can Papers End the Free Ride Online?

Consumers are willing to spend millions of dollars on the Web when it comes to music services like iTunes and gaming sites like Xbox Live. But when it comes to online news, they are happy to read it but loath to pay for it.

I've got news for them. Most of the music that is downloaded is pirated, and if was not for the pirated music I don't think Pay Download services would have ever gotten started

Newspaper Web sites have been so popular that at some newspapers, including The New York Times, the number of people who read the paper online now surpasses the number who buy the print edition.

I don't think the NYT or any paper has ALL of the material that goes into the print edition online, and if they do, I would guarantee them that people that want to read the entire NYT are not going to do it online.

..... As a result, nearly a decade after newspapers began building and showcasing their Web sites, one of the most vexing questions in newspaper economics endures: should publishers charge for Web news, knowing that they may drive readers away and into the arms of the competition?

If they do, that is what is going to happen

Of the nation's 1,456 daily newspapers, only one national paper, The Wall Street Journal, which is published by Dow Jones & Company, and about 40 small dailies charge readers to use their Web sites. Other papers charge for either online access to portions of their content or offer online subscribers additional features.

The Journal has some of its opinion stuff online for free, and that is all I access. My local paper, the Tulsa World, charges for most of its stuff, and because of that I don't even read the free stuff

The New York Times on the Web, which is owned by The New York Times Company, has been considering charging for years and is expected to make an announcement soon about its plans.

WashingtonMonthly said whichever newspaper makes this jump first is going to lose out in a big way. If suddenly I have to pay to read the New York Times online, and can't just *ahem* find the password somewhere, then it's not a big deal. I'll just go read the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times and KnightRidder and get my liberal media fix. There's not that much of a difference that I so desperately need the Times.

But suppose the move is inevitable. Betsy Newmark thinks subscriber fees would "put a crimp in political blogging." Perhaps. But then again, perhaps this could all work out in a way that actually improve political blogging. What if the daily news was subscriber-only, but all the news archives were free and open to internet users everywhere? Blogging, it seems, could certainly benefit from slowing things down a bit and doing more commenting on week-old or month-old political stories. And sure, a few big bloggers and institutions would no doubt still buy subscriptions and do "insta-updates" with off-the-cuff commentary, but the rest of us would have to do a bit more thoughtful analysis/research/reporting and a bit less hyperactive mouse-clicking and "breaking" updates. That sounds fine to me!

Dan Gillmor said there's a consequence for newpapers that go behind what Doc Searls and others call a "pay-wall" -- a loss of Web presence in a world where being absent from the Web is, for many younger readers, like not being anywhere at all.

Vidar Hokstad said The moment they require payment, I'll stay away permanently - the number of news sources available to me makes news a cheap commodity, and I don't value their opinion pieces and other unique content enough to pay. Fewer eyeballs for their ads, less presence in search engines, less relevance, in a time where staying relevant and visible makes the difference between setting agenda and being ignored. It's bizarre then, that this comes at a time when New York Times has become blog friendly, letting anyone
create a registration free link to refer to them from their blogs.

James Joyner said The WSJ is unique because the business content they provide is critical to those who make their money in the stock market, who can often write off the cost of their subscriptions as a business expense. It's unclear how other papers would manage the same trick, unless they banded together and did it on their own. The proliferation of blogs and news aggregators like GoogleNews and YahooNews make it even easier to find papers who put their content up for "free."

If they do begin charging, I suspect blogs will increase in popularity as a place to go for free news.


Liberal Bloggers Reaching Out to Major Media

The New York Times reports Liberal Bloggers Reaching Out to Major Media

Even as online pundits criticize traditional news organizations as slow, biased and technologically challenged, a group of bloggers is trying to use old-fashioned telephone conference calls to share their ideas with newspaper and television journalists.

The bloggers, who describe themselves as liberal or progressive, say the conference calls are intended to counter what they regard as the much stronger influence of conservative pundits online. Bob Fertik, president of, the host of the two calls so far, views them as a step toward getting their reports out to mainstream news organizations.

The Extreme Left Wing Bloggers realize they cannot do as good a job as the Conservative pundents, so they want to feed their drivel to the Extreme Left Wing Main Stream Media

Traditional journalists largely ignored bloggers when they emerged, but have begun to take note of their influence as online commentators assumed roles in news stories like the flaws in the report by "60 Minutes Wednesday" on President Bush's National Guard service and the comments by the former CNN chief, Eason Jordan, about the military's treatment of journalists in Iraq.

They are talking to the wrong bloggers. Those two news stories were reported by Conservative bloggers.

Mr. Fertik maintains that the blurring of boundaries has benefited left-wing bloggers less than their adversaries on the right, saying that reports posted on conservative blogs more easily make the jump to the main news media. "The way we perceive it," he said, "is that right-wing bloggers are able to invent stories, get them out on Drudge, get them on Rush Limbaugh, get them on Fox, and pretty soon that spills over into the mainstream media. We, the progressives, we don't have that kind of network to work with."

Do you mean more people listen to Rush Limbaugh than Air America, and more people trust Drudge than DailyKOS, and more watch Fox than CNN??? Oh, yes, you are right. But then the Left has ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, PBS, New York Times, Washington Post, etc. etc. etc.

Deacon said newspapers should pay someone to read political blogs, just as they pay people to watch bad movies

Jeff Jarvis said They have no idea whether media actually called in. I've not seen any stories about the call. So there's no way to know whether this is a success. Yet The Times devotes considerable attention to it on the front of the business section. The larger story is a good and interesting one: Are conservatives doing a better job than liberals at using the blogosphere to investigate and spread stories and get them into mainstream media?

Paul @Wizbang said The bridge is already there.... It's called a web browser. If the lefty bloggers have anything worth saying, the message would get out, just like it does from the right. After the Tsunami, a blog that was only like 3 weeks old became the #1 blog in the blogosphere in just a few hours because he linked the videos of the event. When there is content, the blogosphere is breathtakingly efficient. What is really going on here is that liberals don't have a message and haven't had the facts on their side. The right-wing blogs have had a stronger influence because we have had the facts on our side!

Matt said Now, after several victories by the right wing bloggers to move the news and Bush's reelection, liberal bloggers feel emasculated because they've just not been as effective/influential as the conservative bloggers. They've definitely tried. While conservative bloggers can say they helped take down Dan Rather and Eason Jordan, the liberal bloggers went after an unknown pseudo-journalist (who no one had heard of before) reporting for an online publication (which frankly, few people read). Now the liberal blogs want to move from "people-powered" to "media-powered"... just because they want some time in the spotlight. It is hard to blame them for desiring media attention—bloggers want recognition for what they do. But recognition by the media does not necessary increase their influence. Truth be told, liberal blogs seem to enjoy most of the media attention. It's hard to find story about blogs that doesn't mention Daily Kos or Wonkette. It's never occurred to the liberal blogosphere that maybe the reason they've lacked influence is because they've lacked substance, or as Paul says, "right-wing blogs have had a stronger influence because we have had the facts on our side!"

WizBang said At the end of the day it comes down to content. If the lefty blogs were on the right side of the facts, the media would find them. Rather than trying to manipulate the media thru conference calls, why don't the liberal bloggers just get on their blogs and find something impressive to say? But Noooo... Rather than compete in the arena of ideas, they want a "media subsidy" to "level the playing field." They want affirmative action for boring bloggers.

JackLewis said That the MSM and Liberal bloggers would eagerly work together seems to whoosh right over the NYT's head, and proof of a Liberal bias. They focus more on the advances Conservative bloggers have made, assuming as Liberals so often do, that there must be some magic trick the Conservatives use (there is -- it's called logic, intelligence and truth).

NTP said .... much more useful content than a blog where the main topic is, say, how President Bush is evil and wants to keep every minority child from graduating high school.

Update 3/17 T. Bevan noted The public relations effort is being organized by a guy named Bob Fertik.... So who is Bob Fertik? He's a self-described "life-long progressive and Democratic Party activist" and co-founder of the web site The only reason I recognized Fertik's name is because he was a behind-the-scenes player in reviving the Bush Texas Air National Guard story in early 2004 - which I wrote about here.


Intelligent Design

Washington Post reports Battle on Teaching Evolution Sharpens

Propelled by a polished strategy crafted by activists on America's political right, a battle is intensifying across the nation over how students are taught about the origins of life. Policymakers in 19 states are weighing proposals that question the science of evolution.

The proposals typically stop short of overturning evolution or introducing biblical accounts. Instead, they are calculated pleas to teach what advocates consider gaps in long-accepted Darwinian theory, with many relying on the idea of intelligent design, which posits the central role of a creator.

In Seattle, the nonprofit Discovery Institute spends more than $1 million a year for research, polls and media pieces supporting intelligent design. In Fort Lauderdale, Christian evangelist James Kennedy established a Creation Studies Institute. In Virginia, Liberty University is sponsoring the Creation Mega Conference with a Kentucky group called Answers in Genesis, which raised $9 million in 2003.

Clearly the Main Stream Media and some teachers oppose giving children both sides of the issue, and letting them think for themselves.

  • The Sun News says 'Intelligent design' shouldn't be taught .... The claim is that Darwinian processes cannot account for the history and diversity of life because life shows evidence of complex design, and that Darwinian processes could not produce design without "intelligent" input. Ergo, presumably, there must be, or must have been, an intelligent designing agent. Nevermind who. For this claim there is, so far, zero evidence. [Other than the fact that we are here. Why are they so frightened with the thought that a Creator may have wanted us to be here, and created us (in his image)]
  • MainToday says Experts support intelligent design.... Many great scientists of the past believed in biblical creation. A partial roster of great minds that accepted biblical creation includes Kepler, Pascal, Newton, Leibnitz, Mendel, Pasteur and Maxwell. There is no shortage of scientists or scientifically literate folks who believe in intelligent design and/or creation science. I hope Devine and others read this and will dig a little deeper. They might emerge with more respect for these theories or with changed beliefs.[Unlikely. If their minds are closed, it will be hard for them to change]
  • RegisterGuard says Separate faith, science: Intelligent design is not a science class subject. There is an intelligent way to teach intelligent design in U.S. public schools: Offer it in religion, humanities, history, philosophy, American studies, social studies, current events or political science classes. In those classes, intelligent design can be appropriately examined for what it is: a faith-based theory that an intelligent designer - let's cut to the chase and call such an entity God - is the only plausible explanation for the emergence of complex organisms that do not appear to have developed gradually through Darwinian natural selection. [How many public schools have classes in religion, humanities, history, philosophy, American studies, social studies, current events or political science? This is just an excuse to force a Secular Humanistic curriculum on children. They claim that the First Amendment calls for "Separation of Church and State" when really all it prohibits is a state sponsored church. But almost all faiths, other than Atheist or Secular Humanist, believe in a creator, so teaching Intelligent Design certainly is not Establishing a State Sponsored Religion]


Reveal Sources

InformationWeek reports Apple Wins Order Forcing Bloggers to Reveal Sources; Appeal Likely

A judge on Friday ordered three independent online reporters to divulge confidential sources in a lawsuit brought by Apple Computer Inc., ruling that they were not protected by the First Amendment because they published trade secrets.

The ruling alarmed speech advocates, who saw the case as a test of whether people who write for Web publications enjoy the same legal protections as reporters for mainstream publications. Among those are protections afforded under California's ''shield'' law, which is meant to encourage the publication of information in the public's interest.

The reporters--who run sites followed closely by Apple enthusiasts--allegedly published product descriptions that Apple said employees had leaked in violation of nondisclosure agreements and possibly the U.S. Trade Secrets Act.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg ruled that no one has the right to publish information that could have been provided only by someone breaking the law.

In December, Apple sued several unnamed individuals, called ''Does,'' who leaked specifications about a pending music software--code-named ''Asteroid''--to Monish Bhatia, Jason O'Grady and another person who writes under the pseudonym Kasper Jade. Their articles appeared in the online publications AppleInsider and PowerPage.

InternetNews reports Thank you, ThinkSecret. Thank you, AppleInsider and PowerPage.

No, not for your interesting, juicy tidbits on your blogs and tip sheets about upcoming products and all things Apple and Mac. We do enjoy them though, as confounding as they can be to technology news sites that write about Apple. (Quote, Chart)

No, not for when you may have slapped up any unchecked information that would arouse howls of derision about standards if it were published the same way in the so-called "mainstream" press (online or off).

Thank you for being journalists in the case involving Apple. Thanks for your work upholding the fundamental principle that journalists uphold: the ability to keep anonymous sources protected. And thank you for getting lawyers to help you cite the First Amendment in your quest to protect your sources.

We'll see if you ultimately break new ground in whether bloggers will help or hinder journalists that seek to protect their sources through shield laws.

BlogHerald reports A remarkable thing happened over the weekend, and maybe just for once the protagonist in the matter of the California 3, Apple, should be thanked for it: Main stream media (MSM) has started sticking up for bloggers as journalists.

The case, for those who’ve missed it, involves Apple Computer Corp subpoenaing 3 bloggers (the California 3) over the publication of alleged “trade secrets” last year, in an attempt to obtain the names of the Apple employees who leaked the information in breach of Apple’s non-disclosure contractual arrangements.

BetaNews reports Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg ruled that an online journalists' Internet service provider can be obligated to identify confidential sources to Apple's legal counsel.