Saturday, April 16, 2005

Bill Frist's Religious War

NYT reported Right-wing Christian groups and the Republican politicians they bankroll have done much since the last election to impose their particular religious views on all Americans. But nothing comes close to the shameful declaration of religious war by Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, over the selection of judges for federal courts.

Senator Frist is to appear on a telecast sponsored by the Family Research Council, which styles itself a religious organization but is really just another Washington lobbying concern.

According to the FRC's website
The Family Research Council (FRC) champions marriage and family as the foundation of civilization, the seedbed of virtue, and the wellspring of society. FRC shapes public debate and formulates public policy that values human life and upholds the institutions of marriage and the family. Believing that God is the author of life, liberty, and the family, FRC promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society.
I see a reference to God and Judeo-Christian worldview, but I don't see them saying it is a religious organization. And Guidestar says they are a 501(c)(3) organization, and IRS Regulations say "no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying)" so I don't see how it can be "just another Washington lobbying concern" as the NYT claims.
The message is that the Democrats who oppose a tiny handful of President Bush's judicial nominations are conducting an assault "against people of faith." By that, Senator Frist and his allies do not mean people of all faiths, only those of their faith.

It is one thing when private groups foment this kind of intolerance. It is another thing entirely when it's done by the highest-ranking member of the United States Senate, who swore on the Bible to uphold a Constitution that forbids the imposition of religious views on Americans.
The Constitution says " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". I.E. Congress may not establish a particular religion as an official State Religion, but Senator Frist does not seek to do this.
Unfortunately, Senator Frist and his allies are willing to break down the rules to push through their agenda - in this case, by creating what the senator knows is a false connection between religion and the debate about judges.

Senator Frist and his backers want to take away the sole tool Democrats have for resisting the appointment of unqualified judges: the filibuster. This is not about a majority
You are wrong. It specifically is about a majority being sufficient to approve the confirmation of judges, and that a minority should not be able to block the appointment of judges.
or even a significant number of Bush nominees; it's about a handful with fringe views or shaky qualifications. But Senator Frist is determined to get judges on the federal bench who are loyal to the Republican fringe and, he hopes, would accept a theocratic test on decisions. Senator Frist has an even bigger game in mind than the current nominees: the next appointments to the Supreme Court, which the Republican conservatives view as their best chance to outlaw abortion and impose their moral code on the country.
A moral code sounds good to me.
We fully understand that a powerful branch of the Republican Party believes that the last election was won on "moral values." Even if that were true, that's a far cry from voting for one religion to dominate the entire country. President Bush owes it to Americans to stand up and say so.
How does a speach to an organization that promotes the promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview mean having one religion dominating the entire country. When the first amendment was written, four of the fourteen states recognized an official state church (and I believe all were Christian). The Founding Fathers did not fear religion, they just did not want the Federal Government to select one of those four churches and making it a national church (like the British had with the Church of England).
Joe Gandelman blogged We've gotten emails saying "How can you call yourself a moderate? You don't sound moderate on this issue?" The answer: those speaking out and making it clear that they want the America in which they were raised — an America where other religions are respected and religion is not used as a tool to smear and stir up hatred against others — are moderate.

It would seem that appear on a telecast sponsored by an organization that promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview certainly respects at least two of the major three monotheistic religions, and it is not clear that the thrid is the "Religion of Peace" some claim it to be


Filibuster myth-busters

By Wendy Long write in the Washington Times If you were a senator, whose views would be more important to you: liberal special-interest groups, or registered voters?

The liberal groups demand that Democrats filibuster (prevent the Senate from voting on) some of President Bush's best-qualified nominees to the federal appeals courts. But a recent Ayres McHenry nationwide survey reveals that 82 percent of registered voters believe well-qualified nominees deserve a Senate vote. That includes 85 percent of Republicans, 81 percent of Democrats, and 81 percent of Independents.

Some Senators apparently believe voters won't see through partisan obstructionism. But they can't possibly believe the other myths about the filibuster.

Myth No. 1:Filibuster of judges is a sacred tradition.

Fact: The filibuster is nowhere in the Constitution. It is not among the "checks and balances" our Founding Fathers created. It did not even exist until the 1830s, and the "tradition" involves legislation, not judicial appointments. The filibuster was used to defend slavery and oppose the Civil Rights Act — hardly noble purposes. The current obstruction of judges is no "traditional" filibuster: it is the first time in more than 200 years that either party has filibustered to keep judges with majority support off the federal bench.

Myth No. 2: Mr. Bush's nominees are being treated no differently than other presidents' nominees.

Fact: In the last Congress, 10 of the president's 34 appellate nominees were filibustered — the lowest confirmation rate since FDR. Democrats mask their sabotage of these nominees by citing the confirmation rate of judges to federal courts overall — an irrelevant statistic, because the federal courts of appeal make final rulings on most issues of constitutional law. Liberals also argue that Abe Fortas was not confirmed as Chief Justice in 1968. But Mr. Fortas was opposed by a Senate majority (both Republicans and Democrats), and President Johnson withdrew the nomination. Today, a Senate majority supports the nominees, and the president is not withdrawing them.

Myth No. 3: The Senate has a "co-equal" role with the president in judicial nominations.

Fact: The Constitution expressly gives the president — and only the president — the power to nominate federal judges. All the Senate can do is say "yes" or "no" to the president's choices. That is the "check" in the "checks-and-balances" system, to make sure no unqualified nominee becomes a federal judge. It does not give Senators — and a minority of Senators at that — the power to insist on judges who suit their own ideology.

Myth No. 4: The current filibuster is about "free speech."

Fact: Historically, the filibuster has given senators in the minority a chance to speak on the Senate floor before the majority rushes to pass a bill. But the current filibuster is not about the right to speak out. It is about blocking judges. These nominees have been pending for months — some for years. There has been, and remains, ample time to speak about them. The majority welcomes free speech and free debate — followed by a free vote.

Myth No. 5: The filibuster protects "the right of the minority" to veto nominees.

Fact: The Constitution requires two-thirds vote for certain things. Appointing judges is not one of them. So the basic principle of democracy applies: The majority decides. The filibuster of judicial nominees turns majority rule on its head, because 41of 100 senators can keep a judge off the bench without ever even voting.

A liberal minority needs federal judges to advance their agenda — allowing child pornography as free speech, mandating same-sex marriage, removing "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, banning school prayer and preventing the death penalty for murderers and terrorists — because they can't win these issues at the ballot box. Mr. Bush promised to nominate judges who will apply the law as written and stay out of politics. The recent Ayres survey shows 67 percent of voters agree that "we should take politics out of the courts and out of the confirmation process." A full 61 percent of Democrats agree with this statement, as well as 73 percent of Independents and 69 percent of Republicans.

The American people want senators to do the job our tax dollars pay them to do. Senators who fail to do their jobs — either by failing to show up for their committee meetings, by voting against restoring the Senate tradition of up-or-down votes for judges, or by halting the work of the federal government — might find themselves out of work when they really need the consent of the governed: at their next election.

Wendy E. Long is counsel to the Judicial Confirmation Network, a former Clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas and former press secretary to former Sens. Gordon Humphrey and Bill Armstrong.

Matt blogged posted this at BlogsForBush.

Robert Novak writes Republican leaders count only two or three GOP senators who will vote against the efforts to end, by a straight majority vote, filibusters on confirmation of judicial nominations.

Sens. Olympia Snowe of Maine and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island will not support this move, and they are likely to be joined by Sen. John McCain of Arizona. That would mean 52 senators would go along with the parliamentary maneuver attempting to end filibusters on judges. Only 50 are needed.

The only Democrat who might possibly join this effort is Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. But Bush will not press him to break party discipline if his help is unnecessary.

Michael Crowley wrote in The New Republic Everyone is waiting to see whether Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist can muster the 51 votes he needs to trigger the so-called "nuclear option" and change the Senate's rules to prevent Democrats from filibustering judicial nominees.

But, even as reporters buttonhole every fence-sitting Republican to parse their latest thoughts about the nuclear option, few people are talking about what would follow Frist's mushroom cloud. Call it nuclear winter: the scenario in which Democrats retaliate by exploiting Senate procedures to plunge the institution into chaos and prevent anything from getting accomplished. Think Mad Max Goes to Washington. "We will deny Republicans the bipartisan cooperation that allows the Senate to function effectively," says Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. Translation: You want to rename a post office? Better allow a couple days for it. As People for the American Way President Ralph Neas, a key organizer of liberal resistance to the nuclear option, puts it, "Detonating a nuclear weapon will have nuclear fallout."

This is classic deterrence theory at work. Democrats are talking about political Armageddon in the hope that Republicans will chicken out. Unfortunately, it's easier for Democrats to threaten dire consequences than it would be to enact them. Because, while Democrats feel they are morally justified in shutting down the Senate, some are concluding that, as political a matter, the strategy is too radioactive to handle.

Democrats certainly have the power to shut down the Senate. Virtually all of the chamber's business is conducted with the "unanimous consent" of all 100 senators. Usually that's a formality. But a senator always has the power to stand up and raise a procedural objection that requires a majority vote to dismiss. Senators rarely exercise such power because it infuriates their colleagues and, if everyone did it, nothing would ever get done. Reid and company could start raising nonstop objections, however--forcing multiple votes on, say, a resolution congratulating the national champion University of North Carolina basketball team. Frist would have to keep 51 friendly senators near the Senate floor to accomplish anything, which is about as easy as keeping dozens of grasshoppers in an uncovered box. The Senate rarely operates smoothly. But, in a nuclear winter, it would be about as efficient as your average Department of Motor Vehicles--and about as pleasant....

The specter of a shutdown certainly pleased the pugilistic liberal left. But it seems to have spooked Senate Democrats, who now emphasize all the things they don't intend to block, like bills dealing with national security or "critical government services." Where their tone was once bellicose, Democratic staffers are now circumspect....

Why the skittishness? Perhaps because Republicans like Grassley quickly offered a shrewd response: that Democrats were threatening to "shut down the government," a phrase that evokes the disastrous budget showdown the Gingrich Republicans forced with the Clinton White House in 1995....

So what are the Democrats willing to hold up? There aren't many good targets. Republicans have already passed major class-action and bankruptcy reform bills.... "Now that the Republicans have gotten all their agenda items through, they can afford to piss off their business backers" who are always trying to pass pet provisions, says one Democratic strategist. Meanwhile, some Democrats complain that Reid's promised exception for "national security" legislation was a blunder. "From a tactical perspective, Reid made a mistake," adds the strategist. "He created a litmus test for national security. Well, suddenly everything becomes vital to our national security." And, with the apparent demise of Bush's Social Security plan, there aren't many other major Republican agenda items left. Even a pork bonanza like the $284 billion highway spending bill would seem to pose too many hazards for obstruction-inclined Democrats. "Do they really want to go back to their states and say, 'Yeah, I know you're not getting the road funding that you wanted, and it's all because of a judge'?" asks an aide to one leading pro-nuke Republican senator.

I hope the will finally get the nerve to try it, whether they call it the Constitutional Option, or the Nuclear Option, or something else.


Saturday, April 16

This Day In History

  • 1789   President-elect George Washington left Mount Vernon, Va., for his inauguration in New York.
  • 1862   A bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia became law.
  • 1900   The first book of postage stamps was issued. The two-cent stamps were available in books of 12, 24 and 48 stamps.
  • 1905   An endowment of a college teachers' pension fund was established by Andrew Carnegie. He donated $10,000,000 of personal money to set up the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
  • 1912   Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly across the English Channel.
  • 1917   Revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin returned to Russia after years of exile.
  • 1945   In his first speech to Congress, President Harry S. Truman pledged to carry out the war and peace policies of his late predecessor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • 1947   Financier and presidential confidant Bernard M. Baruch said in a speech at the South Carolina statehouse, "Let us not be deceived. We are today in the midst of a cold war."
  • 1962   Walter Cronkite succeeded Douglas Edwards as anchorman of ''The CBS Evening News.''
  • 1964   ''The Rolling Stones (England's Newest Hitmakers),'' the band's debut album, was released.
  • 1972   Apollo 16 blasted off on a voyage to the moon.
  • 1985   Mickey Mantle, banned from baseball in 1983 because of his association with an Atlantic City casino, was reinstated on this day. He threw out the first pitch to a standing ovation as the New York Yankees played their home opener against the Chicago White Sox.
  • 1992   The House ethics committee listed 303 current and former lawmakers who had overdrawn their House bank accounts.
  • 1996   Britain's Prince Andrew and his wife, Sarah, the Duchess of York, announced they were getting a divorce.
  • 1999   Wayne Gretzky announced his retirement from hockey.
  • 2003   The Bush administration lowered the terror alert level from orange to yellow, saying the end of heavy fighting in Iraq has diminished the threat of terrorism in the United States.
  • 2003   Michael Jordan played his last NBA game as his Washington Wizards ended their season with a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1867   Wilbur Wright (aviator: one of the Wright Brothers; passed away May 30, 1912)
  • 1921   Sir Peter Ustinov (Academy Award-winning actor: Spartacus [1960], Topkapi [1964]; Quo Vadis, Death on the Nile, Beau Brummel; died Mar 28, 2004)
  • 1924   Henry Mancini (Enrico Nicola Mancini) (Academy Award-winning composer: Moon River [1961], Days of Wine and Roses [1962], Breakfast at Tiffany?s score [1961], Victor/Victoria score [1982]; composed themes for The Pink Panther, Mr. Lucky, Peter Gunn, Charade, NBC Mystery Movie, NBC Nightly News, Love Theme from Romeo & Juliet; 20 Grammy Awards; passed away June 14, 1994)
  • 1935   Bobby Vinton (Stanley Vintulla) (singer: Roses are Red [My Love], Blue on Blue, Blue Velvet, Mr. Lonely, There! I?ve Said It Again, My Melody of Love)
  • 1947   Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor) (Basketball Hall of Famer: LA Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks: NBA career record: games played [1.560], points [38,387], field goals [15,387], blocked shots [3,189] cameo role: Airplane!)


Friday, April 15, 2005

Publish or Perish

Blogger Larry E. Ribstein (ideoblog) is a a law professor who once talked about the virtue of the law review system is that it provides a law school subsidized outlet for just about anything a law professor or lawyer wants to publish. The system lets a million flowers bloom and lets this vibrant intellectual market ultimately decide merit. There is no lengthy bottleneck at a few peer reviewed journals, no chance that widely shared intellectual prejudices (such as we have seen on the causes of Alzheimer's disease) blocking publication.

The problem, of course, is that there's little vetting or intermediation. The quality of the law school publishing the review says something about the intelligence of the students, but there's only so much they can really understand, and the quality variations aren't that great. Once out there, the writer's reputation and other quality signals matter more.

Moreover, there is an alternative -- the Social Science Research Network, which makes thousands of working papers free on line with no real review process. If the purpose is to disseminate work and let the market decide based on the author's reputation, this would seem to be the way to go. And SSRN does have a kind of vetting process measured in number of downloads.

In a later blog entry Larry discusses whether blogging should be subsidized, and said at least in the law school environment, the issue isn't really direct subsidy of costs (expenses are low, and we waste our time on lots of stuff), but whether we law professors should be paid for blogging in the currency of raises, tenure and promotion....

He is referring to the fact that in the academic world, one must "Publish or Perish", and does blogging count as publishing
traditionally we've relied on student law review editors. Blogging will force us to come up with new standards and, even, read and judge the stuff for ourselves.

Blogging will not, however, force us to do without intermediaries. In my blogging article I point out that while anybody can blog, not everybody can get noticed, and this involves making investments in reputation. Intermediary blogs could, and have, developed (e.g., Solum's), which can serve as the academic filters of the future.


Blogs for Bush

One of the first blogs I read when I got into blogging was , and then later it's companion blog . I just learned that their BlogRoll (list of other blogs that also support President George W. Bush) has now reached 1500 blogs.

Congratulations to Blogs for Bush


Constitutional Option

Powerpundit blogged It looks as if Sen. Bill Frist is finally ready to take action in the Senate that will allow for an up or down vote on the president's judicial nominees. The Democrats have led an unprecedented effort to filibuster the nominees, and this action will allow a filibuster to be cut off with a majority vote by senators, not the sixty votes now required. The change will be to a Senate rule, and anyone who says anything different is simply trying to mislead you. No one is messing around with the Constitution. That is a Democrat smokescreen.

I wish him luck. Doug TenNapel has a list of the only nine instances where a supermajority is allowed.

Doug TenNapel blogged The U.S. Constitution is careful to limit Supermajorities to key votes...votes that are extraordinary and require broad bipartisan support because they are so weighty. Here are the only nine instances where a Supermajority is allowed

A number of other bloggers are fed up with the discussion, and won't provide any more money until the Republicans find the nerve to break the filibustering of judges.

CQ blogged I have been a loyal member of the GOP since I cast my first vote. I have worked campaigns and championed candidates well before I ever posted anything on my blog at CQ. However, with the defection of John McCain and the lack of any real response from party leadership on the issue, I have to take a stand and demand either action or accountability -- and this is the time to do it.

Not. One. Dime. The next time Ken Mehlman sends you a request for money, that's the message he needs to get back. We ponied up in 2004, and in 2002, and in 2000. The GOP not only has not delivered, its current leadership won't even try. Frist and Rick Santorum claim they don't have the votes. Balderdash -- they don't have the leadership to get the votes. I'm not going to fund or support people who won't try to win, especially when the issue is so important.

Wilson Fu blogged Captain Ed goes on to say no more money. I agree. Frankly the Republican Party at all levels has been in full blown fund raising mode since the election.

Ric James blogged I've received fundraiser letters from the Republican Party in the past few months. Well, I'm done with sending money in to an organization whose leadership called on its members to help in the last election and then won't even try to live up to their promises. I'm done supporting Congressmen and Senators who either can't or won't summon the courage to do what they said was necessary back when they wanted the votes. If they won't step in and handle their own house, then I'm not trusting them with anything else. If they can't take care of the problem they have already acknowledged, then maybe it's time to start putting my money behind people who will. Hear, hear, Captain Ed. Not one dime from me, either.

See also Hugh Hewitt


Blogging for a New Middle East

MBA reports The Jerusalem Report quotes MBA Member Applicant Curt Hopkins in an article titled "Blogging for a New Middle East."

Hopkins: [blogs are] "not monolithic like a newspaper, which you can shut down. It's a bunch of chirping birds in a tree and it's really hard to shoot them all out."

To expand on what the MBA item quoted: Although governments like Iran's and Tunisia's try to filter which websites people can access, there are ways to work around the filters.

In fact, if a blog is shut down, another can be started up in minutes, with the information from the old blog replicated on the new one. "I think it will be a while," concludes Hopkins, "before these countries realize that you can't shut them down."

And the Committee to Protect Bloggers recently linked to A technical guide to anonymous blogging and EFF's How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else)


McCain Sells Out The Republicans

Powerpundit blogged John McCain has gone on MSNBC'S Hardball with Chris Matthews to indicate that he will vote against the constitutional option to get an up or down vote on the president's judicial nominees when it comes up.

Note to John McCain: You can kiss any presidential hopes that you ever had goodbye. They just went right down the drain. Don't even bother visiting Iowa or New Hampshire. Save the money and go buy some champagne to celebrate with Robert Byrd, Barbara Boxer, Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid. You'll get a lot better reception from those four then you will ever get from Republicans in the 2008 primaries.

Not only has he blown his chances at the Presidency, he is not even right in what he did. He said he did it because at some time in the future the Dems will control the White House and the Senate, and the Republicans will want to block the appointment of liberal judges. In times where the Dems controlled the Senate Robert Byrd already pushed through several rules changes to make it easier for them to do things. What the heck makes McCain think that if they found Republicans fillibustering the appointment of liberal judges they would not invoke the nuclear option to stop it. They are more ruthless than the Republicans are, and if they are able to intimidate the Republicans into not doing it now, does not mean they would not do it if and when they are in power and faced with the same situation.


What Is The White House Trying To Hide?

Michelle Malkin blogs The Bush administration will not let Education Department investigators interview current and former White House officials about the hiring of commentator Armstrong Williams, Rep. George Miller asserts.

Legally, the White House is on solid ground, according to Alan Morrison, a former U.S. attorney and a law professor at Stanford University. "The inspector general has no right to tell anyone outside Education that they have to talk to him," he told USA Today. However, there is apparently no legal reason why President Bush cannot order White House officials to speak to the investigators. If President Bush will not do so, he should explain why.

I will tell you why. It is the principle of Executive Privilege. The Inspector General of the Education Department, was asked by a Democratic member of the Education Committee to investigate something the Education Department did. That is within their oversite responsibilities. But if Bush set a prescient and ordered all White House officials to speak to the Education Department's Inspector General, then any minority member of any committee of the Legislative Branch could institute any investigation he wanted to try to embarrass the Executive Branch.

This does not say what was done was right. But it was stopped, and Armstrong Williams paid the price.

Mark Tapscott blogged It makes absolutely no difference that the administration has the law on its side in matters like this.

It makes a significant difference. Executive Privilege is very important, and we can't have the White House Staff interrogated every time someone screws up in some executive branch department.
In 1965, when Washington wanted to keep something behind closed doors it was easy because the MSM was for the most part willing to abide just about anything in the interest of advancing the New Frontier/Great Society. In 2005, there is no way to keep something behind closed doors for long. If it is damaging to Republicans, odds are good the MSM and the Left side of the Blogosphere will find it sooner or later. If it is damaging to the Democrats, odds are good Talk Radio and the Right side of the Blogosphere will find it sooner or later.
It is already out.
Bottom line: Trust is earned through transparency. Distrust is earned through evasion. When is Washington going to get this?

What makes you think the Democrat ordering the IG of the Education Deparatment to do something would be impressed if Bush rolls over. It will just cause Dems in other committees to try to find other things to embarrass the White House.


The Coming Muslim Conquest of the Vatican

LGF blogged We’ve been told by the usual suspects that the next Pope must “reach out” to Muslims and build bridges between the Catholic Church and Islam.

The highest authorities in Islam, however, seem to have a different sort of “reaching out” in mind: The Next Pope and Islamic Prophecy.

The referenced FrontPage article reported Following Pope John Paul II's visit to the Middle East in 2000 and 2001, some prominent Muslim leaders openly discussed the future dominance of Islam in Europe, including conquesting the Vatican.

While the identity of the next pope is decided, one of the pressing issues he will have to deal with is the growing Muslim community in Europe, part of which have Islamist inclinations. As the New York Times reported this week, the next pope will be facing "increasing secularism in Europe, contrasting with the religious revival in the Islamic world… and the rising number of Muslim immigrants in Europe."

Saudi Sheikh Muhammad bin Abd Al-Rahman Al-'Arifi, Imam of the mosque of King Fahd Defense Academy, discussed the coming Muslim conquest of the Vatican. Citing a Hadith in an article posted on the Kalemat website in 2002, he stated: "… We will control the land of the Vatican; we will control Rome and introduce Islam in it. Yes, the Christians, who carve crosses on the breasts of the Muslims … will yet pay us the Jiziya [poll tax paid by non-Muslims under Muslim rule], in humiliation, or they will convert to Islam…"

I wonder if that conquest of the Vatican will be done peacefully, because isn't Islam a "Religion of Peace"?


Moore's Law Due For Retirement reported Moore's Law Due For Retirement

Forty years ago next week, an obscure trade magazine called Electronics published an article by one of the electronics industry's leading thinkers, the director of research and development for the semiconductor division of the Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp. It was entitled "Cramming More Components Onto Integrated Circuits." The author was Gordon Moore. Three years after the article was published he, Robert Noyce and Arthur Rock would settle on a contraction of the phrase "integrated electronics" as the name for their new company: Intel

His forward-looking article has for years been widely acknowledged as Moore's Law, one of the great benchmarks of faith in technological innovation as an engine of economic growth. It's also widely misunderstood. The key section of Moore's piece doesn't exactly sing. "The complexity for minimum component costs has increased at a rate of roughly a factor of two per year," he wrote. "Over the longer term, the rate of increase is a bit more uncertain, although there is no reason to believe it will not remain nearly constant for at least ten years." Loosely translated, Moore was arguing that the number of transistors which could be economically built on a chip tended to double every year. In those days, the most advanced chips had about 50 transistors, but he argued it would be economical to build chips with 65,000 transistors by 1975. On the whole Moore's Law has shown to be prescient, but by the time of its 50th anniversary in 2015, it will probably no longer be true.

The most advanced chips currently being manufactured have elements 90 nanometers in size, and by the end of the year, smaller chips with 65-nanometer elements will come to market. Chip manufacturers tend to upgrade their manufacturing technology to allow for the smaller transistors every two years or so. Smaller transistors can be crowded in greater numbers onto ever-small slices of silicon, increasing the amount of work a chip can do. You can expect Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, IBM and others to further shrink their manufacturing capabilities to 45 nanometers by 2008 and 32 nanometers by 2010. How they'll get to that point is generally well understood, but looking beyond 32 nanometers is hazy, says Kevin Krewell, a chip technology analyst with Instat/MDR in San Jose, Calif.

Many have predicted this before only to regret it later. But I'm willing to bet that by the time Moore's Law turns 50, it will be nothing but a memory. It's due for retirement.

Many thought Moore was wrong when he said what he said, and to some extent they are right, but not for the reason they thought. They did not think it possible that the number of chips could possibly double every year, and in fact they have more than doubled every year since then. There may be a point in time when that will no longer take place, but I would not want to be my lunch money on it. I might go hungry.

Intel is unveiling its dual core Pentiums on the 40th aniversary of Moore's Law


Media Bloggers nominated

BatesLine reported Reporters without Borders has nominated the Media Bloggers Association for a Freedom of Expression Blog award, in the International category.

You'll recall that the Media Bloggers Association provided legal assistance to BatesLine in response to the threat letter I received from the Tulsa World back in February. If you appreciate what MBA did on my behalf, help them get some well-deserved recognition by clicking here and voting.

I agree with Michael, and I ask all of my readers to vote for Media Bloggers Association. For complete disclosure, the fact that I am up for membership in the MBA has nothing to do with my support for them receiving the award; it is because of the help they provided Michael.


Computer-generated gibberish

CNNreported In a victory for pranksters at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a bunch of computer-generated gibberish masquerading as an academic paper has been accepted at a scientific conference. Jeremy Stribling said Thursday that he and two fellow MIT graduate students questioned the standards of some academic conferences, so they wrote a computer program to generate research papers complete with "context-free grammar," charts and diagrams.

The trio submitted two of the randomly assembled papers to the World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (WMSCI), scheduled to be held July 10-13 in Orlando, Florida. To their surprise, one of the papers -- "Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy" -- was accepted for presentation. The prank recalled a 1996 hoax in which New York University physicist Alan Sokal succeeded in getting an entire paper with a mix of truths, falsehoods, non sequiturs and otherwise meaningless mumbo-jumbo published in the quarterly journal Social Text, published by Duke University Press.

Joanne Jacobs blogged You can write your own meaningless computer science paper by using the paper generator at their SCIgen site. I tried it myself and came up with this:

Mitch Berg blogged If you love the English Language but fear its gatekeepers, read the whole thing.

Betsy Newmark blogged First of all, why did the three reviewers not reject the paper immediately? Had they read it? And why accept non-reviewed papers for a conference that people are presumably spending money and time on attending. It sounds like a conference that only exists so that people will have something to put on their resume. Kudus to the kids. Maybe they should be invited next year to present a paper on how they designed their program that lets people spoof the gibberish that is many scholarly papers.

I agree with Betsy. I think they should present a paper on how they designed a program that can write a "scholarly paper" that can fool the people selecting papers for presentation.


Friday, April 15

This Day In History

  • 1817   The first American school for the deaf opened, in Hartford, Conn.
  • 1850   The city of San Francisco was incorporated.
  • 1861   President Abraham Lincoln declared a state of insurrection and called out Union troops, three days after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
  • 1865   Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America, died at 7:22 a.m. Lincoln had been shot in the back of the head the previous evening while attending a performance of "Our American Cousin" at Ford?s Theatre in Washington, D.C. The assassin, John Wilkes Booth, escaped, only to be hunted down and shot to death. Lincoln was carried to a boarding house across the street from the theatre. He never regained consciousness.
  • 1865   Andrew Johnson became the 17th president of the United States after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
  • 1912   The "unsinkable" luxury liner, "Titanic", sank at 2:27a.m. The largest passenger vessel in the world went under off the coast of Newfoundland two and one-half hours after striking an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City. A young David Sarnoff, later of RCA and NBC, relayed telegraph messages to advise relatives on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean of the 700+ survivors. 1,517 lives were lost at sea. Many movies and documentaries about the monumental disaster have been filmed over the years. However, none had the exacting data gleaned by scientists from the 1986 expedition aboard "Atlantis II". Dr. Robert Ballard headed a crew and a robot named Jason in a descent to the deck of the "Titanic" aboard "Alvin", a submersible craft. They returned with information and photos that challenged and verified stories from the past. After years of studying the facts, the 1997 Academy Award-winning film, "Titanic", recreated the ship to the tiniest detail including the design on the elegant china. Although the film?s love story is fictitious, the true tragedy of the Titanic can now be seen by the world some eight decades later.
  • 1923   Insulin became available for general use on this day. It was first discovered in 1922. Today, insulin is used daily in the treatment of diabetes. It is extracted from the pancreas of sheep, oxen and by other means, including synthesization in the laboratory. Insulin, a natural and vital hormone for carbohydrate metabolism in the body, is manufactured by the pancreas. An overabundance of insulin causes insulin shock and leads to a variety of symptoms, including coma.
  • 1945   British and Canadian troops liberated the Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen.
  • 1947   Jackie Robinson became baseball's first black major-league player when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
  • 1955   This is the anniversary of McDonald's. Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald's -- in Des Plaines, IL.
  • 1959   Cuban leader Fidel Castro arrived in Washington, D.C., to begin a goodwill tour of the United States.
  • 1980   Existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre died in Paris at age 74.
  • 1986   The United States launched an air raid against Libya in response to the bombing of a discotheque in Berlin on April 5; Libya said 37 people, mostly civilians, were killed.
  • 1989   Students in Beijing launched a series of pro-democracy protests upon the death of former Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang.
  • 1990   Actress Greta Garbo died at age 84.
  • 1997   Jackie Robinson's No. 42 was retired 50 years after he became the first black player in major league baseball.
  • 1998   Pol Pot, leader of the Khmer Rouge regime that killed an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians in the 1970s, died at age 73.
  • 1999   NATO acknowledged mistakenly bombing a convoy of ethnic Albanian refugees under Serb escort in Kosovo. Yugoslav officials said 75 people died and more than two dozen were injured.
  • 2000   Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles became the 24th major league player to reach 3,000 hits.
  • 2001   Punk rock musician Joey Ramone died in New York at age 49.
  • 2002   Retired Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White died at age 84.
  • 2003   Looters and arsonists ransacked and gutted Iraq's National Library, as well as Iraq's principal Islamic library.
  • 2003   Umpire Laz Diaz was attacked by a fan during a baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox; the fan was later sentenced to six months in jail.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1452   Leonardo da Vinci (artist: Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, The Virgin of the Rocks, The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne; died May 2, 1519)
  • 1933   Elizabeth Montgomery (actress: Bewitched, Robert Montgomery Presents; died May 18, 1995)
  • 1933   Roy Clark (musician: guitar, banjo; CMA Entertainer of the Year [1973], Comedian of the Year [1970, 1971, 1972], co-host: Hee Haw; country singer: Tips of My Fingers, Through the Eyes of a Fool, Yesterday, When I Was Young, Come and Live with Me, Somewhere Between Love and Tomorrow, Thank God and Greyhound [You?re Gone])
  • 1937   Bob Luman (singer: Let?s Think About Living, Every Day I Have to Cry Some, The Pay Phone, Proud of You Baby; died Dec 27, 1978)


Thursday, April 14, 2005

What a way to go

Guardian reported
How will it all end? Some say we are likely to go with a bang, others predict a slow lingering end, while the optimists suggest we will overcome our difficulties by evolving into a different species. Kate Ravilious asks 10 scientists to name the biggest danger to Earth and assesses the chances of it happening

  1. Climate Change - Chance of temperatures rising more than 2C (the level considered to be dangerous by the European Union) in the next 70 years: High. - Danger score: 6
  2. Telomere erosion - Chances of a human population crash due to telomere erosion during the next 70 years: Low - Danger score: 8
  3. Viral Pandemic - Chance of a viral pandemic in the next 70 years: Very high - Danger score: 3
  4. Terrorism - Chances of a major terrorist attack in the next 70 years: Very high - Danger score: 2
  5. Nuclear war - Chance of a global nuclear war in the next 70 years: Low - Danger score: 8
  6. Meteorite impact - Chance of the Earth being hit by a large asteroid in the next 70 years: Medium - Danger score: 5
  7. Robots taking over - Chance of super-intelligent robots in the next 70 years: High - Danger score: 8
  8. Cosmic ray blast from exploding star - Chance of encountering a supernova in the next 70 years: Low - Danger score: 4
  9. Super-volcanos - Chance of a super-volcano in the next 70 years: Very high - Danger score: 7
  10. Earth swallowed by a black hole - Chance of Earth being gobbled up by a black hole in the next 70 years: Exceedingly low - Danger score: 10

McQ blogged These seem, at least to me, to be more of the grist for Sci-Fi disaster flix than anything to really worry about but then stranger things have happened. And you should note that according to these "experts" (I can't help the scare quotes, they seem more like frustrated screen writers)and the folks at the Guardian, it could be robots run amok or super volcanoes which have the greatest chance of doing mankind in. Me? I'm still holding out for an alien invasion from the planet Moktar, but hell, what do I know.

Scott Burgess blogged Several things concerning prevention are clear, however, and will be of interest to those setting the policy agenda for the coming decades - one of which is that, according to the Guardian, we should expend more effort and money on fighting terrorism than on climate change.

And Subjugation by Hostile Robots is even of more concern, accourding to the Guardian

Glenn Reynolds blogged Robot Rebellions And Telomere Erosion: Oh, my. Scott Burgess, meanwhile, wonders who will fund the fight against our robot overlords?

I, on the other hand, join with Kent Brockman in welcoming them. Embrace the machine!

I don't know whether it will happen in the next 70 years but we already have been told how it will end.


U.N. Votes To Outlaw Nuclear Terrorism

WaPo reported The 191-member U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday unanimously approved a treaty outlawing the use of nuclear weapons by terrorists and their supporters. The treaty, which governments will begin signing at the General Assembly session in September, criminalizes the possession or use of radioactive material or a nuclear device "to cause death or serious bodily injury." It also makes it a crime to use a nuclear device to damage property or the environment or to attack a nuclear facility.

It requires governments that ratify the treaty to amend national laws to prevent terrorists and their supporters from financing, planning or participating in nuclear terrorism. It also calls on governments to share information, ease extradition proceedings and pursue criminal prosecutions of suspects linked to such terrorist acts. The nuclear treaty, which places no new restrictions on the use of nuclear weapons by states, will become law after it is ratified by 22 states.

Hugh Hewitt blogged Bin Laden must really be worried now.

Ace blogged The resolution was almost derailed when someone attempted to add a "Puppies are really adorable" amendment

Dr. Steven Taylor blogged Well, I Certainly Feel Safer Now

Dale Franks blogged The Department of Homeland Security can now stop worrying about nuclear terrorism. The United Nations has made it illegal. Now that we know the UN is on the job, all of our problems are solved. Terrorists would never use nuclear terrorism now, because now they know it's wrong. I can't tell you how relieved I am.

I agree with the sarcastic comments of the above blogs, but on a more serious note, this a good reason why we need someone like Bolton in the UN, to try to redirect it from passing meaningless motions like this to obscure all of Oil for Food money they are stealing, and all of the people it's peacekeepers are raping.


Loudly, With a Big Stick

David Brooks editorialized in the NYT I don't like John Bolton's management style. Nor am I a big fan of his foreign policy views.

Although I agree with most of this article, I disagree here. I like his kick ass management style. I might not want to work under him, but I certainly want someone like that representing us at the UN

He doesn't really believe in using U.S. power to end genocide or promote democracy.

As long as he can kick the UN into shape, I really don't care.

But it is ridiculous to say he doesn't believe in the United Nations. This is a canard spread by journalists who haven't bothered to read his stuff and by crafty politicians who aren't willing to say what the Bolton debate is really about. The Bolton controversy isn't about whether we believe in the U.N. mission. It's about which U.N. mission we believe in.


From the start, the U.N. has had two rival missions. Some people saw it as a place where sovereign nations could work together to solve problems. But other people saw it as the beginnings of a world government.

The former is a good idea; the latter absolutely is not.

This world government dream crashed on the rocks of reality, but as Jeremy Rabkin of Cornell has observed, the federalist idea has been replaced by a squishier but equally pervasive concept: the dream of "global governance." The people who talk about global governance begin with the same premises as the world government types: the belief that a world of separate nations, living by the law of the jungle, will inevitably be a violent world. Instead, these people believe, some supranational authority should be set up to settle international disputes by rule of law. They know we're not close to a global version of the European superstate. So they are content to champion creeping institutions like the International Criminal Court. They treat U.N. General Assembly resolutions as an emerging body of international law. They seek to foment a social atmosphere in which positions taken by multilateral organizations are deemed to have more "legitimacy" than positions taken by democratic nations.

They are idiots.

John Bolton is just the guy to explain why this vaporous global-governance notion is a dangerous illusion, and that we Americans, like most other peoples, will never accept it.

I agree completely

We'll never accept it, first, because it is undemocratic. It is impossible to set up legitimate global authorities because there is no global democracy, no sense of common peoplehood and trust. So multilateral organizations can never look like legislatures, with open debate, up or down votes and the losers accepting majority decisions. Instead, they look like meetings of unelected elites, of technocrats who make decisions in secret and who rely upon intentionally impenetrable language, who settle differences through arcane fudges. Americans, like most peoples, will never surrender even a bit of their national democracy for the sake of multilateral technocracy.

Which is one good argument for closing the UN down and setting up a Union of Democratic Nations.

Second, we will never accept global governance because it inevitably devolves into corruption. The panoply of U.N. scandals flows from a single source: the lack of democratic accountability. These supranational organizations exist in their own insular, self-indulgent aerie.

The current problems at the UN certainly prove this.

We will never accept global governance, third, because we love our Constitution and will never grant any other law supremacy over it. Like most peoples (Europeans are the exception), we will never allow transnational organizations to overrule our own laws, regulations and precedents. We think our Constitution is superior to the sloppy authority granted to, say, the International Criminal Court.

Absolutely. As I understand it, some European countries are finding it difficult to persuade their voters to accept the EU constitution.

Fourth, we understand that these mushy international organizations liberate the barbaric and handcuff the civilized. Bodies like the U.N. can toss hapless resolutions at the Milosevics, the Saddams or the butchers of Darfur, but they can do nothing to restrain them. Meanwhile, the forces of decency can be paralyzed as they wait for "the international community." Fifth, we know that when push comes to shove, all the grand talk about international norms is often just a cover for opposing the global elite's bĂȘtes noires of the moment - usually the U.S. or Israel. We will never grant legitimacy to forums that are so often manipulated for partisan ends.

I agree

John Bolton is in a good position to make these and other points. He helped reverse the U.N.'s Zionism-is-racism resolution. He led the U.S. rejection of the International Criminal Court. Time and time again, he has pointed out that the U.N. can be an effective forum where nations can go to work together, but it can never be a legitimate supranational authority in its own right. Sometimes it takes sharp elbows to assert independence. But this is certain: We will never be so seduced by vapid pieties about global cooperation that we'll join a system that is both unworkable and undemocratic.

Barbara O'Brien blogged As near as I can determine, the "wrong" mission is the one that attempts to promote international peace and security. The "right" mission is the one that relieves the United States from all responsibility for international peace and security.

You need to take off your rose colored glasses and reread it. He said that the "right" mission is one where the UN is a place where sovereign nations could work together to solve problems. The "wrong" mission is one where it is the begin of a world government, where we have to yield our sovernity to an undemocratic organization.

Betsy Newmark blogged And that is why JOhn Bolton should go to the U. N. so that he can articulate why we do

Matthew Yglesias blogged As usual, there are various things one could take issue with in the latest David Brooks column, but I'll just pick the assertion that Americans "will never allow transnational organizations to overrule our own laws, regulations and precedents." Now since treaties have the force of law, in a sense all international agreements overrule our own laws, regulations, and precedents. Less tendentiously, trade agreements like NAFTA and the WTO have set up transnational arbitration mechanisms that are empowered, on certain issues, to overrule our own laws, regulations and precedents. In other words, this thing that we'll allegedly "never allow" is something we have, in fact, already allowed. NATO's Article V guarantee that we will regard on attack on, say, Denmark as an attack on the United States also de facto overrides Congress' power to declare war, though the document uses some ambiguous wording to get around the constitutional problems here.

Gee, is the Left suggesting we are TOO Multilateral?

Treaties do have the force of law, but they must be ratified (approved). What Bolton was talking about is allowing other countries to decide how we should do something, without our review. That is why we withdrew from the International Court, and never ratified it.


Thursday, April 14

This Day In History

  • 1759   Composer George Frideric Handel died in London.
  • 1775   The first American society for the abolition of slavery was organized by Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush.
  • 1828   The first edition of Noah Webster's ''American Dictionary of the English Language'' was published.
  • 1902   J.C. Penney opened his first store, in Kemmerer, Wyo.
  • 1912   The British liner Titanic collided with an iceberg in the North Atlantic and began to sink.
  • 1931   King Alfonso XIII of Spain went into exile and the Spanish Republic was proclaimed.
  • 1939   ''The Grapes of Wrath'' by John Steinbeck was published.
  • 1956   Ampex Corp. demonstrated its first commercial videotape recorder.
  • 1981   America's first operational space shuttle, Columbia, landed at Edwards Air Force Base in California after its first test flight.
  • 1997   Whitewater figure James McDougal drew a three-year prison sentence for 18 felony fraud and conspiracy counts.
  • 1999   NATO mistakenly bombed a convoy of ethnic Albanian refugees; Yugoslav officials said 75 people were killed.
  • 2002   Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returned to office two days after being ousted and arrested by his country's military.
  • 2002   Tiger Woods became only the third player to win back-to-back Masters titles.
  • 2003   Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit fell with unexpectedly light resistance, the last Iraqi city to succumb to overpowering U.S.-led ground and air forces.
  • 2003   U.S. commandos in Baghdad captured Abul Abbas, leader of the Palestinian group that killed an American on the hijacked cruise liner "Achille Lauro" in 1985.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1866   Anne Sullivan (Macy) ("The Miracle Worker": famous for teaching the blind and deaf Helen Keller to read, write and speak; died Oct 20, 1936)


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Design A Stamp

Blogs for Bush is running a Design A Stamp contest, to design a stamp that is pro-Bush, pro-America, or pro-troops (they are as upset as I am about the "art" exhibit featuring mock stamps depicting George W. Bush with a gun to his head labelled "Patriot Act."

To participate, download one of these templates (photoshop or jpg), and create a stamp design. If you are a blogger, you can post your design on your blog and trackback to this link, and/or you can send your design in JPG format to You can submit as many designs as you like. We will post all submissions here as they come in. When submit please give them the following information:

Your Full Name
Your Blog Name and URL (if applicable)
Your Home State

They will be accepting submission for at least a week. I am sure you all will want some time to create you design.

Here are my submissions
Don Singleton


Cafe Press

LGF blogged An update to yesterday’s report on a sick “Kill Bush” t-shirt available for sale at Cafe Press; they’ve pulled the product from their site, and the link is now being redirected to a Pro-Bush page. But you can still see an image of the shirt here.

And they still have Kill Bush buttons and other products. Also see Power Line and Michelle Malkin with other examples of assassination rhetoric from the unhinged left.


Rigged Calculator reported Democrats have been using a web-based "calculator" to generate individualized answers to the question, "How much will you lose under Bush privatization plan?" In fact, the calculator is rigged. We find it is based on a number of false assumptions and deceptive comparisons. For one thing, it assumes that stocks will yield average returns of only 3 percent per year above inflation. The historical average is close to 7 percent. The calculator's authors claim that they use the same assumption used by the Congressional Budget Office. Actually, CBO projects a 6.8 percent gain.

See their website for a detailed analysis

Matt blogged Check out the latest fact sheet (PDF file) from Strengthening Social Security. Amongst other pieces of useful information, it tells us that the Social Security tax rate woudl have to be increased to 14.32 to "restore 75-year solvency" and a to whopping 15.9 percent to "restore infinite solvency." Of course, any increase in the payroll tax rate would be a burden for American workers and be devastating to our economic strength.

Andrew Roth blogged pulls no punches when it exposes the Democrats’ faulty Social Security reform calculator.

Right Side of the Rainbow blogged The Democrats' Social Security calculator is rigged. Imagine that....

There are other much more accurate calculators to use, such as this or this


40% Read Political Blogs

WSJ reported Two-fifths of Americans who are online have read a political blog, and more than a quarter read them once a month or more, according to a recent Harris Interactive poll. Still, 56% of the public has never read a political blog and only 7% of online adults have posted a comment, according to the poll. Of online adults who have posted comments on a political blog, 21% have posted 10 times or more in the past year. Half have posted between two and five times and 20% have posted only once. People who identify themselves as Liberals are mostly likely to post comments to political blogs (28%); Moderates (17%) and Republicans (17%) were least likely.

Joe Gandelman blogged The bottom line is what we've politely hinted at before: blogging is a new frontier. It has great potential. But the majority of Americans are not sitting at their computers reading political blogs. Many of us would certainly wish this was the case: in case you haven't figured it out, the people who write these blogs on the left, in the center and on the right basically don't make money on them, although the bigger ones do make some Big Bux on blog ads. Bloggs are a new form of citizen journalism so bloggers shouldn't be discouraged because of what this poll shows. Nor should they fall into the old pattern of now saying this poll is flawed, etc. People tend to embrace polls they agree with and try to discredit those they don't. The bottom line is that blogging is indeed "hot stuff" in journalism schools, to the media — and it's growing in readership and influence. This poll adds a little bit of humility to us all. (Of course, TMV is always humble as angry readers on the right and left vow never to return every time he takes a side they don't like). Blogs are today highly influential with a good, solid-starting base of readership but what you read here (and elsewhere) is unlikely to change the world. Yet.

Michelle Malkin blogged If there are 120 million Americans adults online, this survey suggests that 31 million Americans read a political blog at least once a month and 6 million Americans read a political blog at least once a day. This would mean that Instapundit is read by less than 3% of those who read political blogs on a daily basis. I don't believe it. I suspect the survey results would be quite different if respondents were informed that the Drudge Report, Slate, Free Republic, Democratic Underground,, and are not blogs. More: Sitemeter explains why tracking services often overstate the number of blog readers:

Taylor W. Buley blogged I think this is a positive trend toward transparency in government. Readers usually add blogs as a source of information instead of replacing msm all together, so that means that two fifths of Americans are today more politically savvy than they were before. It also tells me why this blog has relatively less comments than soem others of similar traffic and caliber. Any ideas about why conservatives are less likely to post comments?

Scott @PowerLine blogged What is the breakdown of left-wing moonbats versus right-wing nuts who obscenely project their fantasies of homosexual conduct on bloggers they wish to abuse? Based on our experience with the beating heart of the left, I bet that the answer to that question tilts astronomically toward the left-wing moonbats who hold themselves out as the guardians of civil liberties from the similarly imaginary depredations of George Bush and John Ashcroft. Unfortunately, however, that's the missing question from the Wall Street Journal's poll report: "Two fifths of Americans online have read political blogs."

Well Scott, I don't necessarilly agree with your characterization of bloggers on either side, but the poll shows Republican 45%, Democrat 47%, and Independent 43%; Conservative 48%, Moderate 46%, Liberal 52%.


Let's make a deal

The Hill reports Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who is working on a bipartisan compromise to end the filibuster of judicial nominees, said he believes that his party’s practice of blocking confirmation votes on controversial nominees has put him and fellow Democratic centrists in politically difficult positions. Nelson, who accepts recent comparisons between himself and former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.), a centrist Democratic dealmaker, suggested that a few Democrats in so-called red states might be relieved should the prospect of filibustering the president’s nominees be eliminated. “I think that some of my colleagues have had some discomfort in voting against cloture but have felt that the nominees were sufficiently unwise choices to feel that was justified,” he said. “I’ve sensed some concern.” Nelson said that one such colleague is Sen. Ken Salazar (D), who represents Colorado, a state that President Bush carried twice. Senator Salazar has been supportive of moving forward” on allowing confirmation votes on even Bush’s controversial nominees, said Nelson. “Senator [Mark] Pryor [D-Ark.] voted to move forward on Judge [Bill] Pryor, and Sen. [Blanche] Lincoln [D-Ark.] has on a couple of occasions voted for cloture on other judges,” Nelson added. Judge Pryor is a nominee to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

All good targets if something is not done about the 10 judges being held up.

Nelson is negotiating with Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), chairman of the Rules Committee, to reach a bipartisan compromise to end the impasse between Republicans and Democrats over the judicial filibuster. Nelson has suggested to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and his own party’s leadership a proposal that would automatically discharge judicial nominees from the Judiciary Committee after a certain amount of time if the panel failed to vote on them. Under Nelson’s proposal, after another set period any senator could then call nominees discharged from committee to the floor for a confirmation vote. The proposal would be implemented as a permanent change to Senate rules. Lott said yesterday that he would have no problem supporting such a compromise but that it’s unlikely that Democratic leader Harry Reid (Nev.) would.

This proposal clearly would block what the Republicans did under Clinton, and not let controversial judges out of committee, but assuming Nelson's compromise would make the vote on the floor of the Senate not subject to a filibuster, then I would support that compromise. I believe that the committee has a right to hold hearings and establish facts it wants to bring up when the nomination is debated on the floor of the Senate, and that debate should take place, but I think any President (D or R) is entitled to having his nominations receive an up or down vote.

Nelson’s proposed compromise — or a similar proposal — could attract the support of other Democratic centrists who find supporting judicial filibusters politically risky, or those who do not want to be blamed for obstruction if prominent legislative items are imperiled by Republican use of the so-called nuclear option and Democratic retaliation. Sen. Kent Conrad (D), who represents North Dakota, where Bush enjoyed a double-digit margin of victory last year, said that he would “prefer not to have these battles” over nominees, adding that for red-state Democrats the issue is “certainly more sensitive than for people from other states.”

Let the compromise move forward, and then vote on the nominees.


Failure Buster

Matthew Yglesias editorialized in American Prospect The filibuster helps conservatives more than liberals. It’s time to get rid of it.

Washington is abuzz with talk that the Senate Republicans will deploy the so-called "nuclear option" -- in essence, violating the rules of the Senate to eliminate the possibility of mounting a filibuster against a presidential nominee -- in order to obtain the confirmation of a handful of President George W. Bush's appointments to the federal judiciary.

The Republicans are not talking about violating the rules of the Senate; they are talking about changing the rules, and Senate rules have a procedure for changing the rules.

Senate Democrats, naturally enough, are plotting a second strike: Through various manipulations of the Senate rules, they will bring the entire legislative process to a grinding halt. And rightly so. There's no particular reason why filibusters should be banned just for nomination votes, and there's certainly no justification for doing so in a way that violates the Senate's rules.

Other than perhaps the fact that no Presidential nominee has ever been denied an up or down vote because of a fillibuster, prior to the election of George W. Bush

The politics of the fight that would ensue are uncertain but probably winnable for the Democrats. The substantive outcome -- no passage of any bills of any sort -- is the best liberals can hope for, given the current correlation of political forces inside the Beltway.

And Democrats being blamed for the obstruction, as the Republicans were when Newt lead a shutdown of the Government by blocking budget legislation in the House

There is, however, a better way. Democrats should counter loose talk of going nuclear with a proposal of their own: The Senate as a whole could vote, through proper procedures, to end filibusters on votes of all kind, allowing passage of any bill (or nominee) that can secure a majority vote. Republicans may reject the offer, of course. But if they do so, that will only strengthen the Democrats' hand politically in combating the nuclear option -- by demonstrating a fair-minded commitment to principle over short-term partisan advantage.

Alternatively, the GOP might agree. In the short term, this would produce bad results: confirmation for some bad judges. In the long run, however, eliminating the filibuster will be good for liberals, and Republicans will rue the day they decided to sacrifice a major prop of conservatism in order to put a handful of under-qualified nominees on the bench.

Bring it on

.... The liberal difficulty is what it always has been -- getting new stuff passed into law. The public's instinctive skepticism toward novelty is re-enforced by the fact that the American political system puts into place an uncommonly large number of veto points at which legislation may be blocked. New bills must pass two separate legislative houses, each representing different sorts of constituencies; acquire a presidential signature; and pass muster with the Supreme Court. The filibuster merely enhances this tendency, already an outlier in the democratic world. It's no coincidence that the United States is also an outlier in terms of having a relatively underdeveloped welfare state. The many sticking points in the legislative process were deliberately designed by the Founders to bias the political system in favor of conservatism. Speaking ill of the Founders is, of course, not something done in polite American political discourse, but such biases are nothing liberals should embrace.

A filibuster-free U.S. Senate will give the Republicans only minor advantages.

Yeah, just the ability to get new conservative stuff passed into law.

The Democratic talking points arguing that they've only filibustered a tiny minority of Bush's judicial nominees are perfectly accurate. This, however, is the problem. Preventing the courts from being packed with bad judges is important. But it's happening anyway.

Actually it has already happened, with so many liberal judges legislating from the bench. And that is why we want more conservative judges, especially at the appellate level.

The handful of judges actually being blocked by the filibuster aren't notably worse in substantive terms than the huge quantity that have gone through already; they're just a bit easier to mount a public argument against.

I am happy to see a Democrate finally admit that.

Beyond that, the main things conservatives have been successful at passing during their moments of ascendancy are huge tax cuts. But tax cuts -- thanks to the arcane-but-important budget reconciliation rules -- can't be stopped with filibusters. Indeed, it's very hard to think of any major conservative legislation that's ever been stopped by a filibuster.

Remove the filibuster for legislation, and I bet the Left will see a lot of legislation they would like to filibuster

It is, by contrast, very easy to think of liberal initiatives that filibusters have blocked. Indeed, as conservative activist Jim Boulet Jr. has wisely argued in a memo to his comrades, the filibuster is crucial to conservatism. By his account, without it, majorities would exist to raise the minimum wage; reform labor law to make new union organizing easier; ban discrimination against gays and lesbians in employment; reduce greenhouse-gas emissions; and close the "gun-show loophole." I'm not a gun-control fan myself, but everything else on the list is a key priority. In the past, of course, the filibuster is most famous for its role in delaying the dawn of civil rights. Less well known is that it was integral to the defeat of Bill Clinton's health care plan in 1993. If liberals ever get another chance to go for comprehensible health-care reform, the filibuster will once again rear its ugly head.

At any given moment, the filibuster rule helps the minority party. Right now, that's Democrats. But taking the long view, the filibuster is bad for Democrats. Ideally, you'd want to get rid of it at just the ideal moment. But, realistically, that can't be done; only minority-party acquiescence will let it happen. Now's a good time for Democrats to show some rare appreciation for the importance of long-term thinking and let the right shoot itself in the foot -- rather than giving them yet another tool with which to rile up their base.

Matthew Yglesias blogged The column also scare-quotes "gun show loophole" in the conservative style. Did you know that this loophole -- which is a real loophole -- has nothing to do with gun shows? Conservatives seem to think that labeling it "gun show loophole" is part of a massive liberal scam. I've never understood what the scam is supposed to be, exactly. Nevertheless, gun shows have nothing to do with it.

Actually it has a lot to do with gun shows. It relates to delay before you can buy a gun, and if that delay is longer than the time the gun show would be in town, one could not buy guns at a gun show. This is why Instant Check is the answer

Orrin Judd blogged It would, of course, be a change in the rules, not a violation of them. But Mr. Yglesias is too conservative: the best America can hope for is that the Democrats shut down the Congress.


Wednesday, April 13

This Day In History

  • 1598   King Henry IV of France signed the Edict of Nantes, granting rights to the Protestant Huguenots.
  • 1742   George Frideric Handel's ''Messiah'' was first performed publicly, in Dublin, Ireland.
  • 1743   Thomas Jefferson, statesman and third president of the United States, was born in Virginia.
  • 1870   The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in New York City.
  • 1943   President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Jefferson Memorial.
  • 1963   Pete Rose got his first major-league hit for the Cincinnati Reds. Twenty one years later to this day, ?Charlie Hustle? collected his 4,000th hit. Rose was playing for Montreal when he achieved the feat. (See 1984.)
  • 1964   Sidney Poitier became the first black performer in a leading role to win an Academy Award, for ''Lilies of the Field.''
  • 1972   The first strike in the history of major-league baseball ended. Players had walked off the field 13 days earlier.
  • 1981   Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke received a Pulitzer Prize for her feature about an 8-year-old heroin addict named ''Jimmy.'' Cooke relinquished the prize two days later, admitting she had fabricated the story.
  • 1986   Pope John Paul II visited a Rome synagogue in the first recorded papal visit of its kind.
  • 1990   The Soviet Union accepted responsibility for the World War II murders of thousands of imprisoned Polish officers in the Katyn Forest, a massacre the Soviets had previously blamed on the Nazis.
  • 1997   Tiger Woods, 21, became the youngest person to win the Masters Tournament and the first person of African heritage to claim a major golf title.
  • 1998   NationsBank and BankAmerica announced a $62.5 billion merger.
  • 1999   Jack Kervorkian was sentenced in Pontiac, Mich., to 10 to 25 years in prison for the second-degree murder of a man whose assisted suicide in 1998 was videotaped and shown on ''60 Minutes.''
  • 2002   Venezuela's interim president, Pedro Carmona, resigned a day after taking office in the face of protests by thousands of supporters of the ousted president, Hugo Chavez.
Happy Birthday To
  • 1743   Thomas Jefferson (3rd U.S. President [1801-1809]; married to Martha Skelton [one son, five daughters]; nickname: Man of the People; died July 4, 1826)
  • 1852   F.W. (Frank Winfield) Woolworth (merchant: created the five and ten cent store [1879 in Lancaster, PA]: headed F.W. Woolworth & Co. with over 1,000 stores, funded NY?s Woolworth Building; died Apr 8, 1919)
  • 1866   Butch Cassidy (Old West outlaw: leader of The Wild Bunch gang; legend has it that he was killed [w/Sundance Kid: Harry Longabaugh] in a Bolivian shootout Nov 3, 1908; other legend has it that he and Sundance faked their deaths [that another pair of outlaws was actually killed] and lived happily ever after, under aliases, in the U.S.)
  • 1899   Alfred M. Butts (architect, inventor: game of Scrabble; died Apr 4, 1993)
  • 1906   Samuel Beckett (author, critic, playwright: Waiting for Godot, The Unnameable, Eleutheria, Malone Dies, Malloy, Endgame; died Dec 22, 1989)
  • 1906   Bud (Lawrence) Freeman (jazz musician: tenor sax: China Boy, Easy to Get, I?ve Found a New Baby, The Eel, Mr. Toad; died Mar 15, 1991)
  • 1919   Madalyn Murray O?Hair (author: Why I Am an Atheist; murdered: missing since Aug 1995, her body was found near Camp Wood TX Jan 28, 2001)
  • 1923   Don Adams (Donald James Yarmy) (Emmy Award-winning actor: Get Smart [1966-1967, 1967-1968]; Back to the Beach, The Nude Bomb)
  • 1939   Paul Sorvino (actor: Law and Order, Reds, Oh! God, The Day of the Dolphin, Dick Tracy, Goodfellas, A Touch of Class)
  • 1945   Tony Dow (actor: Leave It to Beaver, Back to the Beach, High School U.S.A., Death Scream)
  • 1970   Rick Schroder (actor: NYPD Blue, Crimson Tide, Texas, Lonesome Dove, Hansel and Gretel, Earthling, The Champ, Silver Spoons)


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Smart Money

NYT reported Do not be fooled by the talking heads in Rome. The journalists handicapping the papal election may sound as confident as ever, authoritatively quoting anonymous cardinals and exclusive sources deep in Opus Dei. But our profession is in trouble. A specter is haunting the punditocracy - the specter of Intrade.

That's an online futures market, based in Dublin and used by more than 50,000 speculators worldwide who put their money where our mouths are. They're expected to spend at least $1 million on futures contracts tied to the election of the pope. And if recent history is any guide, their collective wisdom could be a lot more valuable than ours.

If you listened to journalists during last year's presidential campaign, you heard about a tight race with oscillating polls and shifting momentum. The weekend before the election, we painstakingly analyzed the battleground states and bravely proclaimed them too close to call.

But if you watched the Intrade market throughout the campaign, you saw the traders serenely betting on a Bush victory. Most remarkably, the weekend before the election, the traders correctly called the winner in every one of the 50 states.

Of course, it's much easier to call Ohio than a conclave of cardinals who have never been polled and would be excommunicated for joining an MSNBC focus group. But given the news media's track record, any system more scientific than scrutinizing the entrails of a sacrificial chicken could be an improvement.

Steve Bainbridge blogged The most interesting column I've seen in the NY Times for a while praised the power of prediction markets. Why do prediction markets work? For the same reason that any other efficient market works: they attract smart money that can make a viable return off fleecing the sheep and, especially, because they may attract those with inside information. PS: One more thing I learned from Tierney's column; it turns out there is "a 1591 papal bull forbidding Catholics from betting on a conclave." What a bummer good thing.

Dale Franks blogged The New York Daily News has an interactive flash presentation to help handicap the selection of the next pope, as well as an in-depth profile of Dionigi Cardinal Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan, who is currently considered to be the front-runner for the papacy.

Meanwhile at Tradesports, the futures market contract prices look like this:

  • Tettamanzi: 20.0
  • Arinze: 14.0
  • Rodriguez-Maradiaga: 9.1
  • Ratzinger: 8.0
  • Hummes: 7.1
To compare those numbers with Intrade we have
  • Tettamanzi: 19.1
  • Arinze: 14.0
  • Rodriguez-Maradiaga: 11.0
  • Ratzinger: 8.0
  • Hummes: 7.1
  • Field (anyone else): 19.9
Betfair lists the odds at
  • Tettamanzi: 4.8/$25
  • Arinze: 6.4/$29
  • Hummes: 9/$19
  • Rodriguez-Maradiaga: 9.8/$75
  • Maradiaga 9.8/$75
  • Ratzinger: 12.5/$3
Pinnacle Sports lists the odds at
  • Tettamanzi: +384
  • Arinze: +541
  • Rodriguez-Maradiaga: +748
  • Ratzinger: +508
  • Hummes: +711
Tom Maguire: blogged This site (Tradesports) has the current betting (look under the tab for "Current Events"). They have a perma-link feature, and I would welcome assistance with that.

I did not see a perma-link, but the trade number is 226549

James Joyner blogged I agree with Tierney that watching Intrade is at least as likely to give insights as listening to talking heads on television. Of course, reading Rob Tagorda's background summaries on the papabile wouldn't hurt, either.


Cat Hunting

ABC reported Cat lovers might be outraged by the idea of allowing hunters to stalk their furry friends, but some naturalists say pet owners ought to take the proposal as a wake-up call to be more responsible.

The issue of whether to make feral cats an unprotected species, meaning they could be hunted and killed, was put before the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, an independent organization created by the state 70 years ago to take public input on conservation issues, last night. Representatives from 72 counties listened to residents' concerns about the issue.

The proposal, which was raised five years ago and voted down by the congress, was revived after a 2004 University of Wisconsin study that found non-native feral cats were a threat to native animals such as lovebirds.

Estimates of the number of songbirds killed each year by feral cats in Wisconsin alone range from 8 million to 217 million, though the number is actually believed to be around 39 million, said Steven Oestreicher, the chairman of the congress.

"When you're talking about millions and millions of songbirds in state, you've got take a harder look at this," he said.

Joe Gandelman blogged It is a fact that there is feral cat problem nationally. But we also know there are some people who'd just love to be able to feel alive and powerful by going out there and shooting some cats, just as some people jump through intellectual hoops to justify battering wide-eyed baby seals who never had a chance to live bloody and senseless. And we're sure in their minds they have the intellectual justification for doing so. We wish them a happy life (well, almost..) But there are other ways...but these folks would rather take the easy (and apparently for them FUN) way out. Sorry. I love the birds (and as a teenager really loved the birds and the bees) but I'll be one of those crazy ones signing petitions and writing letters on this one.

QD blogged Thinnin' the Cats: Who says Yankees never come up with any good ideas?

As long as they don't do it to dogs. <grin>


Paris Hilton Tax Cut

E. J. Dionne editorialized on the WaPo The same people who insist that critics of Social Security privatization should offer reform proposals of their own are working feverishly to eliminate alternatives that might reduce the need for benefit cuts or payroll tax increases.

It is unrelated. Social Security benefits are paid from Social Security Revenues. The estate tax goes to general revenues, not the social security tax fund.
I refer to the fact that House Republican leaders have scheduled a vote this week to abolish the estate tax permanently. With so many other taxes around, it's hard to understand why this is the one Congress would repeal. It falls, in effect, on the heirs to the wealthiest Americans. Fewer than 1 percent of the people who died in 2004 paid an estate tax, and half the revenue from the tax came from estates valued at $10 million or more.
And it forced the liquidation of a lot of family farms and small businesses to pay the tax.

Ezra Klein blogged Dionne argues for explicitly tying the tax to the Social Security shortfall. According to the CBO, even a reduced estate tax would cover fully 1/2 of the program's deficit, which means Republicans are going to have to decide between protecting Paris Hilton's inheritance and paying Grandma Millie's Social Security check. Democrats should be all over that choice, making sure it's made as publicly as possible.

Yes, let the Democrats admit that the Oonzi scheme cannot support itself without having the additional revenue source from the liquidation of a lot of family farms and small businesses. If Grandma Millie owns a farm or a small business she hoped to leave to her grandchildren she should be very happy

Tully @Centerfield blogged You know that someone is playing defense when they rely on emotional arguments and volume, instead of realities. The Washington Post weighs in with two editorials this morning, one from the editorial board and one from the ever-petulant E.J. Dionne, both of them notable for their histrionic use of psuedo-factoids and class envy arguments. So what are the facts about the "death tax?" What are its real purposes, how well does it work at achieving those goals, and how much of the smoke and mirrors is based in reality rather than rhetoric?


Insane Left

Michelle Malkin blogged There are plenty of other hate-filled, liberal knick-knacks and apparel items still on sale. Like this "Kill Bush" magnet depicting the president holding a gun to his head with the caption "End Terrorism Now" Or this bright yellow "Kill Bush" t-shirt splattered with blood. Or this handy "Kill Bush" messenger bag with a macho pic of John Kerry. And before the "everybody does it" apologists pooh-pooh this lunatic anti-Bush merchandise: There's tasteless political paraphernalia on both sides of the aisle, but I've already searched and there are currently no "Kill Kerry" products, blood-spattered or otherwise, being sold at Cafe Press.

That is true, but they do have a Kill Everybody shirt, but I don't recommend it.

"Where's your sense of humor?" the libs will ask. Where's their decency? Their sanity? Welcome to the sick world of the pro-assassination Left.

They lost the election, and they just can't get over that fact

Scared Monkeys blogged Its just another example of that liberal tolerance. Its probably also another example why the Democrats will not win another election any time soon. Or possibly the reason why hate acts have become a common occurrence on college campuses?

ance commented They've come undone the frightening left

Mark blogged Back in during the Clinton administration, supporters of President Clinton would call anybody who disagreed with their hero a "Hater."
Typically they would chant the word like a mantra, getting louder and louder, in order to drown out the sound of anybody who would disagree with them. I was certainly not a Clinton fan (although I'd take Bill any day of the week over HRC), and saw some pretty nasty stuff said about former President Clinton. None of it was of the level of raw hatred that democrats routinely sink to whenever they reference President Bush.

Pageman blogged take note of the Pro-Assasination Left's dreams of Killing Bill. If they find that FUNNY, then they should find this VERY VERY FUNNY! I wonder if they will blog about the FBI's visit to their houses?

Nathan blogged So why isn’t the Secret Service investigating this, and jailing the people responsible for it? My understanding has always been that even joking about assassinating a sitting president is grounds to be invited to the local cop shop for a sit-down. I’m all for free speech, but not irresponsible, childish, and dangerous speech. I don’t think that’s what the Founders had in mind.

Rob commented One day maybe the ‘tards who do this sort of thing will realize that this sort of thing does more harm to their political movement than good.

Linda blogged
Just how disgusting can they get? I have no words that would be sufficient to express my disgust with how anti-democratic (small d) this is. In a democracy, we don't threaten to kill our political enemies. Or, I should say, we dare not. To encourage violence against political opponents is to move a giant step closer to anarchy. There's a reason that our government imprisoned anarchists - no democracy can survive violent assaults by immoral lunatics. Michelle failed to show some of the more disgusting items for sale, including

Jason blogged Democrats are the "party of peace" like radical Islam is the "religion of peace"

Brian blogged The liberal left is hawking all sort of anti-Bush junk, but I'm left to ponder, where is the Secret Service on this? It's illegal to make threats against a President (current or former). I would sincerely hope there is at least an investigation going on here...

BlogCarnival blogged Unhinged Liberal Products For Sale

Lockjaw blogged Hate is a Liberal Value?

Jeff blogged It seems to me that the hard-core Left is so despairing of ever seeing their socialist, anti-democratic beliefs ever enacted that they have just gone insane.