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Debunking the Paradigm Shifters


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Monday, Aug 30, 2004
I still think that the Democrats have made massive strategic errors in this election. They seem to have bet everything on (1) ill-will created by the Bush-haters, and (2) conservative respect for Kerry's Vietnam experience.

I think that those are Kerry's biggest negatives. It seems quite likely that he lied to get his medals and ribbons, he used those lies to cut his service short, and he has been lying about his service ever since. When he returned from Vietnam, he told stories about atrocities that make him look bad whether they are true or false. I would normally be willing to forgive Kerry's youthful excesses, but when Kerry based his whole campaign on his status as a Vietnam war hero, then they are hard to ignore.

I am becoming convinced that the Bush-haters have broken brains. I have heard many otherwise-intelligent folks tell me that Bush lies, is stupid, and didn't really win the election. Some claim that he is a puppet of the Israeli lobby, and some claim that he is a puppet of the Saudi lobby. (He surely can't be both!) Michael Moore says Bush went to war in Afghanistan in order to help Unocal build a pipeline there, and others say that the Iraq War is somehow going to make profits for some old buddies of Bush. Sometimes they babble about Bush taking away Constitutional rights, or ignoring the UN, or being a practicing Christian, or other such nonsense. Some will say that Bush campaigned as a moderate who is a uniter, not a divider, but he as ruled as an extreme right-winger.

All of these arguments are easily refuted, and don't really make good arguments for Kerry anyway. The Bush-haters are just brainwashed yellow-dog Democrats who would never vote Republican anyway.

I think that Republicans dominate talk-radio because the Democrats take positions that they cannot defend. I live in an extreme left-wing area, and the radio stations have a hard time finding left-wing hosts who do not make fools out of themselves.

Sunday, Aug 29, 2004
Bush tax cut favored the poor
This Detroit News article shows that
the income tax burden has shifted upward for the rich and downward for everyone else.
Here, "rich" means the top 20% of income earners. The data is based on a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Saturday, Aug 28, 2004
California's best judge
California's supreme court justice Janice Rogers Brown seems to be our best anti-supremacist judge. Bush tried to appoint her to the federal DC Circuit court, but the Senate filibustered. You can find articles supporting her nomination, and explaining the controversy, here and here. NOW opposes her. Apparently, the combination of being black, female, libertarian, and Christian makes a lot of enemies.

Here is a recent decision in which she showed that she is the only reasonable judge on the California supreme court.

Sunday, Aug 22, 2004
Kerry lies
John Kerry uses his Vietnam experience as his main qualification for office, but he cannot stand to have a little criticism. Now, he whines that there is some vast right-wing conspiracy that is out to discredit him.

Check out this July 1971 NY Times story. It says:

When Mr. Kerry, a spokesman for the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, attempted to introduce relative of war prisoners at a news conference, four women shouted, "That's a lie," and "What office are you going to run for next?"
Kerry cannot blame G.W. Bush for that.

Saturday, Aug 21, 2004
Bush-hating worse that Clinton-hating
A lot of people argue that the Bush-haters are just like the Clinton-haters of a few years ago. I say that the Bush-haters are much worse.

A mainstream publisher (Knopf) has just published Checkpoint: A Novel. It is a rambling rant by a fictional person who is thinking about assassinating Pres. Bush because he disagrees with the Iraq War and other Bush policies. The Amazon.com sales rank is 670, which is pretty good for an obscure novel.

I regularly follow right-wingers, but I've never heard anyone attack Clinton in any similar way.

Whorf hypothesis
There has been a long debate in linguistics over whether language influences how people think. Now someone has found an Amazon tribe with only words for one, two, and many, and they cannot count!

It is only a matter of time before someone documents the limitations of non-English speakers.

Friday, Aug 20, 2004
Bush lies?
Bob tries to justify to claim that Pres. Bush lies. He says this Bush statement is a lie:
I strongly oppose human cloning, as do most Americans. We recoil at the idea of growing human beings for spare body parts, or creating life for our convenience.
I guess the lie is that Bush is implying that cloning research is motivated by a desire to grow human beings for spare body parts. I don't read his statement that way. In that speech, Bush proposed federal funding for a certain form of cloning research, provided that ethical concerns were followed. It was the first federal research for cloning since Congress banned such funding in 1996.

See this NewScientist article for a typical view of what is possible with cloning, and what ethical problems arise.

Bob also says that Bush has claimed that his policies have made forests less vulnerable to fire. I don't how this could be a lie, as the Clinton forest policy was very pro-fire, and allowed a lot of forests to burn down. Just about any policy change would make the forests less vulnerable.

Bob responds:

The Bush proposal does not allow federal funding for any form of cloning. Bush allows research only on existing cell lines. This is particularly annoying because the most promising technique for cancer research is to take a human egg, remove the nucleus, transplant the nucleus of a human pre-malignant cancer cell, manipulate the cell to divide, create a cell line from the resulting stem cells which can be used to study exactly how cancer transforms into malignancy. Federal funding is not permitted for this research.
Actually, it is Congress that does not fund the cloning research that Bob suggests. The research is being done with private and with state money.

Bob cites this Bush statement:

You see, the undergrowth issue, the problem of too much undergrowth creates the conditions for unbelievably hot fires. These forest firefighters will tell you that these hot fires that literally explode the big trees can be somewhat mitigated by clearing out the undergrowth. And by the way, the undergrowth chokes off nutrients from older trees. It makes our forests more succeptable to disease. We got a problem. It's time to deal with the problem. And that's what we're going to talk about.
and says:
Bush's initiative calls trees up to 30" in diameter undergrowth. I call that a lie.
Also, he says:
Basic research is funded by the federal government, not by the states and private industry. If the cloning research mentioned above provides the knowledge necessary to cure cancer, it will be the George W. Bush and the Republican Congress who will be responsible for the deaths which occur due to the delay in doing the research upon which a cure is based.
Nonsense. They can do all the basic cancer research on rats. After curing cancer in rats, they can experiment on human beings.
Kerry's court
John sends this NRO article on how John Kerry would swing the US supreme court sharply to the left.
USA declared war
Among the sillier complaints about Pres. Bush is that we are fighting undeclared wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Congress has approved both wars. The UN even approved the Afghanistan war, and giving the war ultimatum to Iraq.

Phil disputes this, and says:

This is an up-to-date page that includes all the US military interventions, including the current war in Iraq.
That is one interpretation. I also refer you to this CNN transcript:
JONATHAN KARL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With virtually no dissent, Congress authorized the president to use all necessary and appropriate force against all those tied to the attacks. SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN, FOREIGN RELATIONS CHAIRMAN: For constitutional purposes, it's the same as the declaration of war. There is no constitutional difference between authorizing the president to use this kind of force and saying, "We declare war."
On your list, notice the conspicuous omissions of Panama, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, etc. In my opinion, they should have all had congressional votes. Those who object to the Iraq war on authorization grounds should really be unhappy about all those other wars.

Phil responds:

Roger, this is not an "interpretation". Read the whole page. It distinguishes Congress authorizing the use of force, and a formal declaration of war. There is special significance to a "formal declaration of war", as it says on that page. If there was no difference, Biden would not have gone out of his way to say that it is not distinguishable. It's like an audiophile telling us that his sound system sounds the same as Luciano Paveratti, that he can't tell the difference. But the real Luciano is not singing in his living room, in the flesh. It's a digital recording.

If it's the same as a declaration of war, why not just declare war? The reason is because it's not the same. It may be similar, but it's not the same. That is what all the encyclopedias will tell you. I can get the same information from the Encyclopedia Britannica. Or any other encyclopedia you choose. You choose one, and I will produce a page from it that agrees with the encyclopedia page I sent you. You can't hang your case on the words of one senator who was playing fast and loose with his rhetoric. The unanimous well-researched authoritative writings of all the encyclopedias in the world win over Senator Biden's one careless remark.

An encyclopedia carries more weight than the Senate foreign relations chairman who introduced the resolution?!

Taken literally, Biden only says that they are indistinguishable under the US Constitution. Conceivably, there could be some difference under UN law, or veterans' benefits, or something else.

I think that they don't say "declare war" because they want to maintain some UN legal fiction that war is obsolete.

I don't usually agree with Biden, but in this case I believe that he is right. Congress can use synonymous language, and the meaning is the same.

Even your encyclopedia article says, "The United States formally has declared war against foreign nations eleven separate times."

This suggests that some of the other declarations were informal declarations of war, but still declarations of war.

Thursday, Aug 12, 2004
Woman collects $45k for 10C
John sends this story, and adds, "I wonder if the $45,000 was for attorney's fees or the plaintiff's damages?" It says:
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A woman has accepted a settlement in her federal lawsuit challenging the display of a plaque featuring the Ten Commandments in a southwest Missouri school cafeteria.

The Humansville School District has agreed to pay Carrie M. Roat $45,000 as a part of the settlement. The district also agreed to not display any religious symbols and pledged to stop officials from leading students in prayer.

Roat claimed in the suit the plaque on the cafeteria wall where high school and junior high students eat violated the Constitutional guarantee of separation of church and state.

She also said it served as "an unambiguous symbol of Christianity and of the Christian faith and belief."

Someone should tell her that the 10 Commandments are part of Jewish law, not Christianity.
SF mayor must obey the law
The Calif supreme court ruled 7-0 today that SF mayor Newsom exceeded his authority by trying to issue same-sex marriage certificates. Links to the court papers are with this CNN story. Bob asks whether this is judicial supremacy, because Newsom was applying his own constitutional interpretation.

I might agree that it would be example of judicial supremacy of the court ordered the governor on what to do. But Calif governor and attorney general took the position that the mayor actions were illegal, and the question was whether Newsom could defy the executive and legislative branches of the Calif govt, alter state marriage forms, and issue bogus licenses.

There was a situation about 30 years in which a rogue California state agency took some unpopular action based on its own novel constitutional interpretation, and the people actually amended the California constitution to put a stop to such behavior. I suppose you could say that the clause gives the courts supremacy over lower state agencies. I do not believe that the courts should have any such supremacy over the governor, and there is no such clause in the federal constitution.

The Calif court also ruled 5-2 that the 4k same-sex marriages were void. I don't necessarily agree with that opinion, because those parties were not before the court. They have their own lawsuits pending.

George writes:

You refer to the Calif. Const. art. III sect. 3.5:
An administrative agency, including an administrative agency created by the Constitution or an initiative statute, has no power: (a) To declare a statute unenforceable, or refuse to enforce a statute, on the basis of its being unconstitutional unless an appellate court has made a determination that such statute is unconstitutional. ...
The court opinion does not rely on this section, but instead invokes general principles of judicial supremacy to say that local officials cannot interpret the constitution. It even acknowledges the possibility that Newsom could be correct in his interpretation, but says that "rule of law" requires that only a court is allowed to come to that conclusion.
Lawyers scarier than terrorists
Govt agents wanted to warn casinos and show them videotapes about terrorism threats, but the casinos were more worried about lawyers filing lawsuits! The Las Vegas paper says:
"The information, unfortunately, was not taken as seriously as we believed it to have been," Detroit-based Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Convertino said in an interview. "The reason that he (the FBI agent) was given for the low turnout was because of liability. That if they heard this information they would have to act on it. It was extraordinarily unacceptable and absolutely outrageous."

Wednesday, Aug 11, 2004
Selling fine wines across state lines
The judicial supremacists are currently before the US Supreme Court to lift restrictions on mail-order sales of alcoholic beverages. See this blog, for examples of strained legal arguments.

The fact is that section 1 of the 21A repealed Prohibition, and section 2 gave the states the power to regulate imports of alcoholic beverages. End of story.

Zywicki says that the plain meaning of the 21A must be ignored, because otherwise a state could ban the import of kosher wines! Yes, a state could even ban the import of all wines. The Supreme Court should not be invalidating a section of the Constitution just because of some absurd hypothetical scenarios.

Stem cell fraud
A lot of people seem to think that Kerry's best political issue is opposing Bush's ban on stem-cell research. Millions of people are suffering from Alzheimer's (senility) as a result. Kerry is pro-science, while Bush is anti-science.

But it is all a big lie. Slate says:

The federal government spent nearly $200 million on adult stem-cell research last year and nearly $25 million on research involving the roughly 20 approved embryonic lines. As today's Washington Post observes, what Bush actually did was "to allow, for the first time, the use of federal funds" for embryonic stem-cell research.
In addition, states, universities, drug companies, foreign agencies, and others are pumping 100s of millions of dollars into stem-cell research. Stem cell researchers are swimming in cash.

This WashPost article says that stem cells are unlikely to help anyone with Alzheimers. If it were really true that senility treatments were within reach, then you could be sure that private companies would be funding, patenting, and marketing it. Universities like Harvard and Stanford have billions of dollars of their own money that they don't know what to do with, and they are willing and able to spend it on stem-cell research if it will bring prestige, medical cures, and Nobel prizes.

If it turns out that some disease will be treatable by cloning millions of human embryos, and harvesting their organs, then we will have a big ethical debate. In the meantime, Kerry is just lying to the public when he says that stem-cell research has been banned.

Tuesday, Aug 10, 2004
Eminent domain in Detroit
Property rights activists and anti-judicial-supremacists were excited by the Michigan supreme court's reversal of its infamous Poletown decision. The Poletown case allowed Detroit to use eminent domain to destroy a large neighborhood just so that General Motors could build a factory. The new decision says:
It is true, of course, that this Court must not “lightly overrule precedent.” But because Poletown itself was such a radical departure from fundamental constitutional principles and over a century of this Court’s eminent domain jurisprudence leading up to the 1963 Constitution, we must overrule Poletown in order to vindicate our Constitution, protect the people’s property rights, and preserve the legitimacy of the judicial branch as the expositor—not creator—of fundamental law.
But the decision is no such vindication. It has sweeping pronouncements purporting to define when eminent domain can be justified, and dicta making the decision retroactive. It complains about the way the Poletown decision confuses "public use" and "public purpose", but then comes to the unusual conclusion that the meaning of "public use" is not to be taken from the 5A of the US Constitution, or the dictionary definition, or the understanding by Michigan citizens who ratified their constitution, but the meaning that judges today infer that legal scholars had in 1963 when the Michigan constitution was last overhauled. The result of that definition still allowed private property to be destroyed and sold to purely private interests, under complicated, court-approved circumstances. The original Poletown decision deferred to the legislature for certain matters of judgment, but this new decision gives no such deference, and claims that any eminent domain decision is reviewable by judges. The supremacists are not giving up any power here.
Stanford Law dean attacks judicial supremacy
A WSJ book review praises a new book by the Stanford Law School Dean attacking judicial supremacy.
In "The People Themselves," he shows that the men who wrote the Constitution would have been aghast at a judicial monopoly on its interpretation. At the time, judges did not claim some exclusive power of constitutional settlement. They believed that judicial review stemmed from their duty to interpret all relevant laws in the course of litigation. But they did not dispute that the White House and Congress had their own duty to interpret the Constitution in the course of their own official actions. ...

...presidents from Jefferson to Lincoln refused to yield all authority to judges. They embraced "departmentalism"--each branch of government claiming an equal right to discover the Constitution's true meaning.

Only recently has judicial supremacy gained wide acceptance, and it has done so with a vengeance.

This is all correct. Prof. Larry Kramer goes on to recommend some sort of political-legal constitutional interpretation, and I am not sure what that is all about. But it is good to see a legal scholar acknowledge that judicial supremacy is a construct of the Warren Court in the 1950s, and is neither essential nor desirable for out American system of government.

Monday, Aug 09, 2004
Judge Colin Powell?
Bob suggests that Bush promise to nominate Colin Powell to the next US Supreme Court vacancy because (1) he is not a lawyer, (2) polls say he is the most respected man in the world, and (3) it would help win undecided voters.

I don't get why the qualities that have earned him respect in previous jobs (soldier, diplomat, etc) are such desirable qualities in a judge, or why we need a judge who is admired elsewhere in the world. If anything, I think that judges are respected too much already, as people don't realize what terrible jobs that they are doing. As a result, they have been corrupted by increased power.

I'd like to see some court appointments who are opposed to judicial supremacy. For more info, read this book. Law schools now brainwash all their students with judicial supremacy, so perhaps Bob thinks that appointing a nonlawyer might give a non-supremacist. But why a soldier/general/diplomat? Because he supposedly has centrist political views? And why should that matter, if he is not a supremacist?

Powell does have some negatives. Those who think that Bush lied about Iraq will presumably also think that Powell lied.

Bob responds:

The most important reason for appointing Powell to the USSC is the fact that Powell is not perceived as an ideologue. One of the raps which sticks to Bush is that he is likely to appoint right wing ideologues to the USSC. One of the reasons the argument against judicial supremacy has a chance of capturing broad political support is the fact the American people are skeptical of, if not downright hostile to ideology. This is apparent from the fact that both Presidential candidates are throwing their ideological baggage overboard. Reagan was popular with the American people precisely because he blew off the ideologues while sticking to his deeper principles. Appointing Powell to the USSC would reassure the American people that Bush is not committed to appointing ideologues to the USSC.
Bush is already committed to appointing Supreme Court judges who are from the mainstream, who are not judicial supremacists, and who will follow strict interpretations of the Constitution. I suppose you could say that following the Constitution is an ideology, but he is clearly opposed to those who intend to use their political ideologies to make new laws.

So where does Colin Powell fit into this? Unless Powell is committed to strict interpretation of the Constitution, Bush would be reneging on his earlier promises. I think that the only reason some people might want Colin Powell on the Supreme Court is that he is ideologically and politically committed to affirmative action and abortion.

At the recent Democratic Convention, none of the lawyers who have taken over the party (Kerry, Edwards, Bill Clinton, Hillary, Obama, etc) was willing to attack Bush's court appointments. Apparently their political strategists have decided that the issue is a loser for the Democrats. People are much more worried about the ideologues that Kerry might appoint to the courts. (See Phyllis Schlafly column.)

Colin Powell will not even be speaking at the Republican Convention, as he did in 2000.

Bob responds:

I read the link and there is no such commitment there, just mealy mouthing from a White House flak. The mainstream is currently supremacist. This is what we agree should change. My point is that public confidence in Bush would increase by appointing Powell, leaving him free to pursue an anti-supremacist agenda. It would also free the anti-supremacist agenda of the suspicion that it is a stalking horse for right wing ideology. Adherence to the constitution is not an ideology.
This describes Bush's 2000 campaign position:
Throughout the year, Bush tried to frame the issue in terms of philosophy, saying his ideal nominees would base their judgments strictly on the words of the Constitution. Pressed to name a justice who fits that mold, Bush pointed to Scalia and Thomas. ...

The issue figured in the candidates' first presidential debate. "I'll put competent judges on the bench, people who will strictly interpret the Constitution and will not use the bench to write social policy," Bush declared.

Bush still opposes judicial supremacy, from a recent campaign speech:
We will not stand for judges who undermine democracy by legislating from the bench and try to remake the culture of America by court order.
Illegal aliens want citizen fetus
An AP story says:
Lawyers for a deported Mexican woman who is eight months pregnant are seeking her return to the United States to protect the unborn baby's health. They also say under federal law the fetus is a viable human being and thus might be eligible for citizenship rights.

That argument sounds like a long shot to some on both sides of the immigration debate. But in May, a U.S. District Court judge in Kansas City, Mo., approved a stay of deportation for a pregnant Mexican woman after raising, among other concerns, the question of whether her fetus could be considered a U.S. citizen. The judge is reviewing the issue.

These are crazy arguments. Even American birth should not automatically confer citizenship, as the 14A says:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
There is some debate about the meaning of "subject to the jurisdiction thereof".

Sunday, Aug 01, 2004
Complicated Microsoft tip
Printing an email message shouldn't be complicated, but it can be under Msft Windows. Sometimes it prints in tiny sup-10-point type, and the remedy is an arcane sequence of font size changes and reboots! Here is how the NY Times explains it:
Q. I use Outlook Express 6 for e-mail. Sometimes I want to print messages I receive. Even though the type in the message is 10 points or larger on the screen, my printer still uses the smallest type size available. How can I correct this?

A. Outlook Express, the free Microsoft e-mail program included with the Windows operating system, is closely linked to Internet Explorer, the free Web browser that also comes with Windows. If you change your settings in Outlook Express and see no results, you may also have to adjust them in Internet Explorer.

Before printing, open Internet Explorer, go to the View menu and select Font Size. If you have changed to a larger size and get small type when you print an Outlook Express message, Microsoft suggests a few further steps.

First, start Outlook Express and go to the Tools menu, choosing Options. Click on the Read tab and then on Fonts. Select Smallest in the Font Size box and then click on O.K. before quitting Outlook Express. Start the program again, and repeat those steps to get to the Font Size setting. Change the size to Medium, click on O.K., and then restart the computer.

Next, open Internet Explorer. Go to the View menu, then Font Size, and select Smallest before quitting Internet Explorer. Restart the computer. Start Explorer, go back to the font settings and change the size to Medium before quitting the program.

Once you have made all these adjustments, try printing the message in Outlook Express again.

Note that 2 steps involve reducing the font size, even tho you really want a bigger font.