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Saturday, Oct 29, 2005
Libby's indictment is weak
John writes:
Roger says Libby should have kept his mouth shut. Just like Martha Stewart! Instead, like Martha, he stupidly concocted a story that depended on the cooperation and corroboration of several other people.

If you recall, Martha's stockbroker Peter Bacanovic did indeed go along with Martha's story. But they both forgot about Peter's young assistant, Douglas Faneuil. Doug was not in on the deal, so Martha and Peter went to jail.

Likewise, Libby concocted a story which he told the FBI just 3 months (not 2 years) after the fact. Five months later, he repeated the same story for the grand jury. But Libby's story foolishly depended upon not being contradicted by 3 high profile journalists.

Libby now has the burden of proving that at least one of those journalists is lying. He will have to prove that Russert, Cooper and/or Miller learned -- or at the very least, could have learned -- the identity of Wilson/Plame from someone other than Libby.

I think Libby will not be able to prove that. Therefore he is surely going to jail, unless he negotiates a plea bargain by testifying against others (including Cheney) who were in on the conspiracy.

This scandal is huge. What has been announced so far is just the tip of the iceberg. Much more is involved behind the scenes.

I think that Libby and Rove should have kept their mouths shut to Fitzgerald, but that they should have told the whole story to the public. I have no respect for people like them who hide behind lawyers.

I still think that the case against Libby is weak. All 5 counts involve lying about his conversations with Russert, Cooper, and Miller. Counts 1-3 only paraphrase what Libby says, and it is impossible to say whether Libby was truthful or not. Counts 4 and 5 include exact quotes, and allege these lies:

4a. Russert asked Libby if he knew that Plame worked for the CIA.
4b. Libby told Russert he wasn't aware of the Plame-CIA connection.
5. Libby told Cooper he heard of Plame from other reporters.

Fitzgerald thinks that 4b is a lie because of other evidence that Libby knew of the Plame-CIA connection. But I think that Fitzgerald is simply misreading Libby's statement. Libby was not denying under oath that he knew about the connection; he was just saying that he was not revealing the connection to Russert. So I think that 4b will be dismissed.

4a is Russert's word against Libby's. Maybe Russert is lying to cover up another source. Maybe Russert forgot when he was questioned a year later. We don't have Russert's quotes, so maybe Fitzgerald has misinterpreted them also. Maybe there was a simple misunderstanding, such as Russert asking about who sent Wilson, and Libby assuming that Russert was asking about Plame.

Count 5 could also be a simple mistake. It seems quite plausible that Libby intended to tell Cooper that he heard about Plame from other reporters and didn't, but thought that he did. Or that he did tell Cooper, but Cooper ignored it because he got the impression that Libby knew for sure.

If I were on the jury, and this were all the evidence, then I'd vote to acquit on all counts.

John writes:

Libby's story is that some reporter told him (rather than the other way around) that Wilson's wife worked at CIA. Unless Libby can produce a reporter who will corroborate that story, he's going to jail.

Your proposed defense is pathetic because it does not address that basic fact. Some reporter has to step forward and testify that he learned about Wilson/Plame from someone other than Libby and then told Libby about it.

Ain't gonna happen.

I agree that there is strong evidence that Libby knew about Plame before he talked to the reporters, and that if he denied that to the feds, then he committed a crime.

But I look at the Libby quotes in the indictment, and I just don't read them that way. Libby is merely explaining to the feds how he pretended not to know about Plame when he talked to the reporters. There is nothing wrong with that. Fitzgerald never asked Libby directly, "Did you know about Plame when you talked to Russert?"

I don't know why everyone is so impressed with Fitzgerald. I think that he is an incompetent bozo. He spent 2 years doing an investigation, and then just has this trivial indictment. Worse, he cannot seem to make up his mind about indicting Rove. He says that legally he can only talk about the indictment, and yet he insinuates that Libby and Rove have committed other crimes. He subpoenas Miller and Novak, but they are curiously absent from the indictment. I can only guess that he thinks that Libby described those conversations accurately. But most importantly, he has failed to nail down the alleged crime. If Libby were really telling brazen and blatant lies, then there ought to be some quote to prove it. (You can download the indictment from this CNN story.)

McConnell on Bush v Gore
Judge Michael McConnell is being mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee. In this Slate article, McConnell seems to agree with Breyer's opinion on Bush v Gore, which said that the Florida recount was unconstitutional but that the Supreme Court should have extended the date and ordered its own recounting scheme. I think that was the goofiest of the Bush v Gore opinions.

I think McConnell says some other stupid things in that column. He says that Breyer's view could have been unanimous, but really only Souter expressed similar views. Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas were against letting the courts intervene in the election, and Stevens and Ginsburg wanted to let the Florida Supreme Court recount it according to its wishes. McConnell thinks that all nine agreed that holding that ordering a manual recount was within the Florida Supreme Court's authority. But that's not true. I don't think that the Florida Supreme Court had any legal authority to order a manual recount under either Florida or federal law, and I don't think that a majority on the Supreme Court thought so either.

McConnell goes on the say that the decision lacked political judgment. It would have been more acceptable, he says, if Gore lost because his forces were working around the clock scrambling for votes until the deadline, and then came up short. His opinion is surprising for someone who wants to be considered a strict constructionist. If there is a lawful election certification, and the recount is unlawful, then the courts should stop it regardless of political considerations.

Friday, Oct 28, 2005
Libby was Marc Rich's lawyer
John writes:
Isn't it a no-brainer that a person who represented a foreign power should be disqualified from any high position in the U.S. government?

Such a person was not only allowed in the White House; for the past five years, he has apparently been the single most powerful WH official on foreign policy matters, sitting with Bush and Cheney on every important decision. Mary Matalin called him "Cheney's Cheney": he does for Cheney what Cheney does for Bush.

The "foreign power" that Libby represented was Marc Rich, the billionaire international gangster who had renounced his U.S. citizenship. Rich was deeply involved in so many international events from his base in Switzerland that he was essentially a foreign power in his own right.

Rich and his partner Pincus Green were indicted by U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani in 1983 for a variety of crimes. They fled and were on the FBI's list of "10 Most Wanted" fugitives. Both men received full pardons by Bill Clinton on Jan. 20, 2001.

On March 1, 2001, a Congressional committee chaired by Dan Burton held a hearing about Clinton's last-minute pardons. Libby, then already in his White House job (which does not require Senate confirmation), testified that he had represented Marc Rich from 1985-1989 and 1993-2000. (During the 4-year gap, Libby was working for Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon, which was then headed by Dick Cheney.)

Libby further testified that Rich had renounced his U.S. citizenship when Libby began representing him in 1985.

I would say anyone who represented a foreign interest should never be allowed into the White House. But especially, someone who for at least 12 years represented one of the world's most notorious international gangsters, a fugitive from U.S. justice, should not have a seat at the table when U.S. foreign policy is made.

I am trying to make sense out of Libby's indictment. The crux of the case is that Russert's recollection of a phone 2 years ago differs from Libby's in some minor details. It seems clear that Libby either lied to Russert or lied to the grand jury, but lying to Russert would have been legal (and appropriate).
The human haplotype map
The human genome folks are finally admitting that different racial groups have different genomes, and that such differences may be important in understanding genetic disease. See the NY Times on the hapmap.

Wednesday, Oct 26, 2005
Evo Devo
Bob sends this article about evo devo, an alternative evolutionary model.
Evo devo’s emphasis on switch-throwing represents a profound departure from evolutionary biology’s long obsession with genes. Animal evolution works not so much by changing genes, Carroll maintains, but by changing when and where a conserved set of genes is expressed. In the lingo, evolution is regulatory (involving patterns of gene expression), not structural (involving the precise proteins coded by genes).
It says that evo devo is not quite a paradigm shift.

Tuesday, Oct 25, 2005
Importing cheap labor
Ephraim Schwartz in InfoWorld says:
It appears there is hard evidence to prove that employers are using the H-1B visa program to hire cheap labor; that is, to pay lower wages than the national average for programming jobs.

According to “The Bottom of the Pay Scale: Wages for H-1B Computer Programmers — F.Y. 2004,” a report by Programmers Guild board member John Miano, non-U.S. citizens working in the United States on an H-1B visa are paid “significantly less than their American counterparts.” How much less? “On average, applications for H-1B workers in computer occupations were for wages $13,000 less than Americans in the same occupation and state.” ...

The average salary for a programmer in California is $73,960, according to the OES. The average salary paid to an H-1B visa worker for the same job is $53,387; a difference of $20,573. ...

Miano says lobbyists will admit that a small number of companies are abusing the H-1B program, but what he has found in this research is that almost everyone is abusing it.

This should be obvious. Most, if not all, H-1B computer programmers are hired because they are cheaper than Americans.
George Clooney's troubles
Maybe I shouldn't pick in George Clooney and his politically misguided (leftist) movie that just bombed. He has other troubles:
“There was this scene where I was taped to a chair and getting beaten up and we did quite a few takes. The chair was kicked over and I hit my head,” Clooney said in an interview on National Public Radio. ... Clooney’s complaints were dismissed until spinal fluid started leaking from his nose. He has since had numerous operations. ... "And my dog got attacked by a rattlesnake and killed.”

Sunday, Oct 23, 2005
Not enough is known
On Miers:
CHATHAM - Longtime conservative author and political activist Phyllis Schlafly, speaking to a local group Friday night, criticized President Bush's latest choice for the U.S. Supreme Court, saying not enough is known about Harriet Miers' legal philosophy. "She might be a very nice lady, but I think from Bush's point of view, it's a mistake," Schlafly said. "Bush went through the (presidential) campaign leading us to believe he would appoint a judge like (Antonin) Scalia or (Clarence) Thomas, and she's not that. She's 60 years old, and she's never written anything about constitutional issues. We don't have a clue as to what is her constitutional philosophy." ...

"When Clinton appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she had a very clear paper trail. You knew exactly what she would do. You knew exactly that she would support Roe v. Wade ... that she would follow every feminist line ... I think Bush is entitled to have her opposite number," Schlafly said.

While she did not offer a candidate she would prefer to see in Miers' place, she said there are many far more qualified people, including women.

"When Clinton appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she had a very clear paper trail. You knew exactly what she would do. You knew exactly that she would support Roe v. Wade ... that she would follow every feminist line ... I think Bush is entitled to have her opposite number," Schlafly said.

"We have to have somebody who has a strong constitutional philosophy, someone who believes in the Constitution as it was written, not the way they wish it was written ..."

Federal law against lying
Sen. Arlen Spector thinks that his staff can quiz his political enemies, and send them to jail if they give any false info:
Meanwhile, he's having his staff talk to Dr. Dobson and the Texas judges to find out exactly what they did or did not say. "There's some talk of wanting to place them under oath," he says, "and I'm opposed to that. It's a violation of 18 U.S. Code 1001 to give a false statement to a federal official, and I think that's sufficient. It carries a jail term. . . . But I don't think anyone's interested in prosecuting someone for perjury. We want to find out what the facts are."
Liza writes:
I am really convinced that something has to be done to repeal the vague federal crimes of lying to federal officials (18 USC 1001) and obstruction of justice. We've already seen those statutes abused in a variety of contexts, including Martha Stewart's prosecution and probably forthcoming indictments for the Valerie Plame affair. Now, in today's WSJ, Sen. Spector invoked 18 USC 1001 as a way to throw in jail Jim Dobson and the Texas judges if they aren't forthcoming in telling Spector's staff what was said about Harriet Miers in private conversations. Spector allowed as how he didn't think it was necessary to put them under oath, because 18 USC 1001 already carries sufficient penalties. Can you believe this?

I'm not aware of any state laws criminalizing lies not made under oath. Why do the feds need such a law?

I am all in favor of getting rid of those federal lying and obstruction laws. I don't even think that Nixon's alleged Watergate crimes should have been illegal.
Court is soft on homosexual rape
The Kansas Supreme Court says it's unconstitutional to consider whether statutory rape is heterosexual or homosexual in handing out penalties. Weird. Lots of states give higher penalties to a man statutory raping a girl than a woman statory raping a boy. Nobody thinks that is unconstitutional.
Reasons for opposing Miers
Mathew D. Staver writes:
I am deeply disappointed in the president's decision to nominate Miers to fill the seat of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. My opposition is twofold. First, the president had a significant list of individuals who had a long and well-known track record setting forth their judicial philosophy, their interpretive understanding of the Constitution and their positions on specific moral issues. Instead of choosing from this highly qualified list, the president chose an invisible nominee. Second, even if Miers were to turn out to be a good candidate, nominating her sends the wrong message. For 60 years, she has held her views in silence. It sends a terrible message to our future conservative leaders that if they want to be appointed to positions of influence, they must keep their views on the Constitution under wraps and their positions regarding religious and moral issues close to the vest.
Robert H. Bork makes similar arguments and says:
Some moderate (i.e., lukewarm) conservatives admonish the rest of us to hold our fire until Ms. Miers's performance at her hearing tells us more about her outlook on law, but any significant revelations are highly unlikely.
Miers does indeed deserve a fair hearing. Maybe she will impress us. But it is very unlikely.

Saturday, Oct 22, 2005
Science news
Greenland news:
Greenland's icecap has thickened slightly in recent years despite concerns that it is thawing out due to global warming, says an international team of scientists. ...

Glaciers at sea level have been retreating fast because of a warming climate, making many other scientists believe the entire icecap is thinning.

But satellite measurements showed that more snowfall is falling and thickening the icecap, especially at high altitudes, say Johannessen and team. ...

But, they say, the thickening seems consistent with theories of global warming, ...

Global warming is one of those theories like evolution, where all observations are consistent with the theory, whether anyone predicted them or not.

Meanwhile, University of Oregon scientists say prehistoric global warming may have saved the Earth from greenhouse sterilization.

Friday, Oct 21, 2005
Another leftist movie bombs
Bob writes:
Your prediction about Good Night and Good Luck seems to be correct. They haven't given up. Good Morning America was hyping it this morning. Looks like they are pushing on a string.
The chart shows that the movie dropped to 15th place at the box office this week, in spite of rave reviews from leftists in the media.

Apparently the movie shows Sen. McCarthy exposing a commie working at a sensitive job at the US Army, and shows him criticizing the Army for hiring commies. I think that the average viewer today would not even understand why the pinko movie makers think that exposing commies was a bad thing. Someone who appears to have allegiances to a military enemy might be a spy, or might make decisions against USA interests.

Astrology is a theory
Evolutionists are bragging:
Under cross examination, ID proponent Michael Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, admitted his definition of “theory” was so broad it would also include astrology.
The actual issue was whether astrology is closer to being a hypothesis or a theory, under some definitions published by the National Academy of Sciences. Under those definitions, astrology is more of a hypothesis, because "... theories are the end points of science." Behe correctly pointed out that common usage among scientists is to use the word "theory" more broadly. A theory might be a collection of unverified hypotheses.

Evolutionists are peculiarly hung up on definitions. This article discusses some of these definitions, and says:

Recent criticisms of evolutionary theory caused the NABT (National Association of Biology Teachers) to change their definition of evolution. It was:
The diversity of life on earth is the outcome of evolution: an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process of temporal descent with genetic modification that is affected by natural selection, chance, historical contingencies and changing environments.
Last year, due to criticism that this statement would be used by creationists to attack the teaching of evolution, the NABT dropped the words "unsupervised" and "impersonal" from this definition since these they implied that God had nothing to do with the origin of life; a question which the NABT now states can’t be answered by science.
The critics are correct when they point out that leftist-atheist-evolutionists push their definitions in order to force their unscientific agenda.

Update: The evolutionists are gloating about some other admissions that Behe made. Behe denied that he was writing a book, but was confronted with evidence that several others are writing a book and expecting him to contribute. Behe also said that his anti-evolution book was peer-reviewed, but it appears that one or more of those peer reviews was not very rigorous.

Thursday, Oct 20, 2005
Miller promotes grand jury leaks
Judith Miller now justifies a proposed federal journalist shield law by arguing that grand jury leaks were a good thing in the Balco case!

I fail to see that anything good came out of the Balco leaks. Barry Bonds and others got unfairly maligned. The leaks did not tell us the extent of steroid use in professional baseball or anything useful. If reporters can publish grand jury leaks with impunity, then we as might as well abolish the secret grand jury.


John writes about this LA Times op-ed:
The moral people versus the process people. Does Dahlia have a point?
Dahlia Lithwick covers the U.S. Supreme Court for Slate, but consistently gets the facts and the laws wrong. I think her point is that conservatives are preoccupied with Roe v Wade because they think that it was morally and legally wrong. Some emphasize moral reasons, while other emphasize legal reasons. She pretends to not understand why Roe v Wade would be more objectionable than other bad court decisions.

She wrote:

But first, consider this: Roe is quickly becoming legally irrelevant. ... Roe stopped being where the real abortion action was a long time ago.

And finally, consider the polling data: Most Americans support Roe. The most recent Gallup Poll — from August of this year — shows that 54% of respondents consider themselves to be pro-choice, while 38% think of themselves as pro-life. A Gallup Poll taken last July showed that 68% of Americans do not want Roe overturned, and only 29% do. The most interesting aspect of that polling data, however, is this: These numbers have shifted almost not at all in 30 years. Despite all the screaming and sharpening of pitchforks since Roe came down in 1973, not a lot of minds have changed on the subject.

The "abortion action" ceased in 1973 when the US Supreme Court said that a woman has a constitutional right to have an abortion at any time during the pregnancy, and for any reason, provided that she gets a physician to do it.

The polls have never supported the sweeping ruling in Roe v Wade. Here is a summary of the polls. Only 28% say that abortion should be permitted in all cases. (CBS News Poll. July 29-Aug. 2, 2005.) Only 35% say that abortion should be generally available to those who want it. (Pew Research. July 13-17, 2005.) Only 24% say that abortion should be legal under any circumstances. (CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll. June 24-26, 2005.)

Meanwhile, a whopping 80% favor laws requiring that at least one parent be told before a girl under 18 years of age could have an abortion. (CBS News Poll. July 13-14, 2005.) All such laws have been declared unconstitutional under Roe v Wade.

Interpreting polls about overturning Roe v Wade is a little trickier, because a lot of people misunderstand what Roe v Wade actually did, and a lot of people think that overturning it would mean that a human fetus would have a right to life, and all abortion would be unconstitutional. Nearly all of the polls describe Roe v Wade as legalizing abortion during the first three months. Those polls report 60% or so saying that they are willing to let Roe v Wade stand. The one exception I found was a 2002 LA Times poll which described Roe v Wade as permitting a woman to get an abortion from a doctor at any time. Only 46% were in favor.

The Supreme Court is not likely to completely overturn Roe v Wade any time soon. It is more likely that the court will hear challenges that deal with the aspects of Roe v Wade that deal with late-term abortion or parental notification or permission. When asked about whether states can ban partial-birth abortions, support for Roe v Wade drops to 20-34%, depending on the poll.

Wednesday, Oct 19, 2005
Coulter makes a mistake
John writes:
Ann Coulter's new column (also here) has an embarrassing blunder about slavery. It's not true that "democracy ... never led to returning slaves who had escaped to free states to their slavemasters." That is specifically provided in the Constitution (Article IV, Section 2) as well as the Fugitive Slave Act passed by Congress in 1850.

Dred Scott was not an "escaped" slave -- he was *taken* by his master to free soil. That was the whole point of the Dred Scott case.

Coulter does makes some good points in her column. The available evidence indicates that Harriet Miers is more like to vote to overturn Roe v Wade than John Roberts. Conservatives are commonly accused of having an abortion litmus test for approval of judges, and they are also accused of just caring about the outcomes of cases, rather than the law. But if those accusations were true, then conservatives would be much happier about Miers than Roberts.

But in fact Coulter and other conservatives like Roberts better than Miers. Roberts has a judicial philosophy that is grounded in the text of the Constitution and other laws. Miers is being sold to us based on her personal beliefs, not her judicial philosophy, and her qualifications are minimal. If the Miers nomination fails, it will be because many conservatives believe that the nomination was not in accord with Bush's campaign promises.

Radical anti-life scientist lobby
The journal Nature just published a couple of papers about methods to obtain embryonic stem cells without destroying a viable embryo. You would think that this would be good news for scientists, because it might be a source of stem-cells with fewer ethical objections. But David Magnus and Arthur Caplan, a couple of big-shot academic bio-ethicists, wrote this article for the Mercury News.
The driving force behind these papers is not science. It is, rather, to use some rather unimpressive technical tricks to meet the objections of some critics of embryonic stem-cell research. In a word, it is scientific pandering. And it is wrong. ...

Does it make sense to fiddle with embryos to satisfy critics? Hardly. ... Moreover, holding up important research to pursue possible alternatives because there are critics of the morality of existing techniques is a terrible idea. The attention showered upon these articles in the media and by some politicians who oppose embryonic stem-cell research is a very dangerous development for anyone who is interested in doing embryonic stem-cell research or benefiting from it. ...

There is no evidence yet that primate cloning is possible ... Must science proceed only if everyone in the nation agrees that the research is worth doing? If so, no science will ever be conducted. We would never do research in evolutionary biology since there are creationists who oppose it. ... We should not be trying to appease a minority with scientific flimflammery while delaying promising research that one day may lead to treatments that improve millions of lives.

Somebody is paying these folks to be bio-ethicists, and they are against the whole idea of addressing the ethical concerns.

There is a lot of evidence that primate cloning is possible. A lot more evidence than there is for the idea that embryonic stem cell research will improve millions of lives. So far, it hasn't improved anyone's life. These bioethicists are just shills for science labs who want more govt funding with no strings attached.

Also, there are no creationists trying to stop research in evolutionary biology, as far as I know. The creationists support doing research. It is only the leftist-atheist-evolutionists who try to censor other points of view.

This article is just more proof that scientists will not put reasonable ethical limits on what they do. Instead they will appoint bogus bioethicists who will justify anything in order to get more federal funding.

Gorilla learns to use tools
Latest pro-evolution news:
(AP) A young gorilla in a Congo sanctuary is smashing palm nuts between two rocks to extract oil, surprising and intriguing scientists who say they have much to learn about what gorillas can do, and about what it says about evolution.

It had been thought that the premeditated use of stones and sticks to accomplish a task like cracking nuts was restricted to humans and the smaller, more agile chimpanzees. ...

He said the finding indicates that complex tool use may not be a trait developed only by humans and chimpanzees and could have its origins earlier in the evolutionary chain, among ancestors common to both humans and their closest relatives, the great apes.

Here is a letter to the San Jose paper:
Gorilla evidence may be misleading

News flash! Surprised ``experts'' have found that a gorilla using stones to break open palm nuts is another sign of evolution linking man and gorillas! (``Scientists study gorilla who uses tools,'' Oct. 18). This is laughable. Have these ``experts'' ever watched a sea otter smash shelled sea animals using rocks to gain access to their food? Give me a break! I sure hope we didn't have to pay for this research project!

Tom Corchero
San Jose

Corchero is correct. Even crows can use tools, and the evolutionists are always trying to claim that the birds are descended from dinosaurs.

Tuesday, Oct 18, 2005
Another book review
RAH writes:
It's amazing all the things escaping the liberal memory hole these days. I never knew anything about Phyllis Schlafly that wasn't spoonfed to me by the media as teenager in the 1970's, and I was in St. Louis at the time...
and sends this review of D. Critchlow's new book on Phyllis Schlafly.

Monday, Oct 17, 2005
Goofy anti-Bush questions
Here are some kooky leftist questions at White House press conferences.
Wednesday, October 29, 2003 - 12:15 PM
Mokhiber: Earlier this year, General (William) Boykin said the following: "George Bush was not elected by a majority of voters in the United States. He was appointed by God." Does the President believe that God played any role in getting him to the White House?

Scott McClellan: Again, the President has addressed that matter.

Mokhiber: Not whether God played any role in getting him to the White House.

Scott McClellan: The President has addressed that matter and I'm not going to go back through it. ...

Tuesday, February 1, 2005 12:15 PM
Mokhiber: Scott, last night, in an amicus brief filed before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Justice Department came down in favor of displaying the Ten Commandments at courthouses and statehouses around the country. My question is - does the President believe in Commandment Number Six - thou shalt not kill - as it applies to the U.S. invasion of Iraq?

Scott McLellan: Go ahead, next question

Threatening family cars
The New Republic magazine says:
When business groups were fighting fuel economy standards, GOP activist Grover Norquist convinced Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum to oppose them as well, according to a 1995 Washington Post story, "because the mileage goals could be portrayed as threatening such mainstays of the family as the station wagon and the mini-van."
She denies that she ever thought that the mini-van was a mainstay of the family. She hates mini-vans.

The statement doesn't even make any sense because the fuel economy standards promoted sales of mini-vans, because they were exempted as light trucks.

Sunday, Oct 16, 2005
Yapping on the right
David M. Shribman says:
But the yapping on the right -- maybe it is yelping, not yapping -- is indicative of a deep distrust conservatives have about politics even in an era when conservatives dominate politics.

That may seem contradictory, but it is not. Pick up the phone and call Phyllis Schlafly, whose role in American politics is almost always underestimated on the right and just as often ridiculed on the left. But she was, to use a phrase populated by Dean Acheson, a one-time anti-hero of the right, present at the creation -- at the creation, that is, of the modern conservative movement.

Here's what she says: "Conservatives are very angry -- and we have a right to be angry. We elected Bush to move the court away from its ideas of judicial supremacy. We have nothing to go on to suggest he's moved the bench one inch."

So far, so good. But there is more, and it is telling. Faith may be the evidence for things not seen, but conservatives feel they have seen so little that there is little reason for faith. That may strike you as a little self-pitying, but as a measure of the depth of this feeling, listen to the last two sentences of my conversation with Mrs. Schlafly:

"If we were going to trust anyone, we'd trust Reagan, and he gave us O'Connor," she said in a reference to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whose seat Ms. Miers has been nominated to fill. "So we don't trust anybody."

So right now -- proof that even in our sanitized brand of politics there is room for surprise -- the greatest danger for the president lies not with his determined enemies on the left, who spare no epithet for him. The danger is his friends on the right who are in full-throated rebellion, and who feel duped and betrayed.

The conservatives are just trying to hold Bush to his campaign promises.
Judith Miller testifies
She has now testified to the grand jury:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Notes by the New York Times' Judith Miller that were turned over in a criminal investigation contain the name of a covert CIA officer, but the reporter has told prosecutors she cannot recall who disclosed the name, the newspaper reported Saturday.
So why did she spend 85 days in jail? Did she forget the name while sitting in jail? Who is she protecting now? Why did the NY Times want this case prosecuted?

This case is getting weirder. I say that she should be sent back to jail.

A lot of people are saying that Karl Rove is going to be indicted because he has testified so many times. But that is not the way it works. He has a 5A right not to testify against himself, so his testimony may have ruined any case against him. It is unlikely that he is a target.

Christianity v Mohammedanism
New Scientist magazine tries to analyze religion in its current issue, as summarized here:
In "End of the Enlightenment", they make a point that is both obvious (once you hear it) and profound: Islamic and Christian fundamentalism, which are "often portrayed as being on opposite sides in a 'cosmic struggle' of good against evil," are actually two sides of the same coin. Both are threatened by modernity, especially in the form of secular humanism. The myriad successes of rationalism over the past several hundred years have resulted in a surprising backlash. "Almost everywhere you look -- with the possible exception of western Europe -- fundamentalist religions are on the march." These religions foster an Us-against-Them mentality that we see playing itself out every day in the news. ...

While we are distracted and terrified by the war, the fundamentalists are busy undermining the pillars of secular society. As New Scientist bluntly says in "Enemy at the gates", "their aim is to destroy science" via a wedge strategy that starts with an attack on Darwinian evolution in the form of the "theory" of Intelligent Design. Every scientific theory that touches on man's place in the universe will likely be attacked: the Big Bang, the age of the Earth, etc.

This is absurd. The Mohammedan religion is at war with the modern world. The war is supported by prominent religious leaders, relgious teachings, and the hoi polloi in many Mohammedan countries. They support it whether they are fundamentalist or not.

Christians do not go around planting bombs or supporting terrorist acts. You could argue that Christians have supported the Iraq War, but it is certainly not a Fundamentalist Christian war. The war had broad public support from Congress and American citizens, the vast majority of which are not fundamentalist.

The comments about science are kooky and paranoid. Evolution is taught in every public school in the USA. There is one small school district in Penn. where some fundamentalist Christians want to also read a one-paragraph statement referring to intelligent design, and the leftist-atheist-evolutionists have made a federal case out of it. This is not an attempt to destroy science. It is an example of narrow-minded evolutionists who want to censor anyone who disagrees with them.

Friday, Oct 14, 2005
Belief is genetic
This article claims that twin studies show that there may be a genetic inclination to religiosity in some people.

Thursday, Oct 13, 2005
Catherine Crier's new book
I just stumbled across Catherine Crier's new book, Contempt: How the Right Is Wronging American Justice in a bookstore. Crier is a talking head on Court TV. The book is a hysterical rant about how evangelical religious right-wing extremists are taking over American courts. As evidence on the back cover, she says that 79M people watched Justice Sunday II, and that most of the federal appellate judges have been appointed by Republicans.

The figure of 79M is apparently based on misreading this press release. The show was available on obscure cable TV channels that were available in 79M households, but the number of viewers was far smaller. The figure doesn't even help Crier's case, because if that many people really watched the show, then it would prove that the American public agrees with the conservative court critics, and not with Crier.

The book's publication date is today, but her timing is bad because she has missed the story of the Miers nomination. Miers is the first evangelical Christian to be nominated to the Supreme Court in about 50 years, and she is being attacked by many of the right-wingers in the book. If there were really a right-wing evangelical conspiracy to take over the courts, then you would think that they would actually work to get someone on the court.

She attacks Justice Scalia because she says that he is the "flag bearer" for "original intent" on the US Supreme Court. This is proof that she is an idiot. From a 1996 Scalia speech:

The theory of originalism treats a constitution like a statute, and gives it the meaning that its words were understood to bear at the time they were promulgated. You will sometimes hear it described as the theory of original intent. You will never hear me refer to original intent, because as I say I am first of all a textualist, and secondly an originalist. If you are a textualist, you don't care about the intent, and I don't care if the framers of the Constitution had some secret meaning in mind when they adopted its words. I take the words as they were promulgated to the people of the United States, and what is the fairly understood meaning of those words.
Scalia is surely the most anti-intent justice on the Supreme Court. He goes out of his way to criticize the other justices for relying on legislative intent. Crier could not read very many Scalia opinions and still think that he favors original intent.

I am sure that this book has many other problems. These were just a couple of things that I noticed in the bookstore.

Wednesday, Oct 12, 2005
California political reform
John sends this article which says that the Arnold Calif. ballot proposisitons are pulling ahead in the polls. Good. I am voting for all of them.
Edward R. Murrow movie
Hollywood has made yet another anti-McCarthyism movie, Good Night, and Good Luck. As usual, the critics rave about the movie and how important the message will be, but I bet it bombs at the box office, just like all the others. The average American movie-goer doesn't understand why the anti-communists were supposed to be so bad.

Here are critical reviews by Slate, and the NY Sun. See also Human Events. John says this about the author:

Allan Ryskind is an expert on Commies and Hollywood. His father, the famous screenwriter Morrie Ryskind, was one of the "friendly witnesses" (along with Ayn Rand) who testified before HUAC in opposition to the "Hollywood Ten".
The movie was partially funded by billionaire Jeff Skoll, who wants to make movies with a message.

Monday, Oct 10, 2005
Ethically acceptable stem cells
Bob says this NY Times article vindicates his stem cell predictions. I think that his prediction was that scientists would figure out a way to create human stem cells that are similar to embryonic stem cells, without creating human embryoes.

My prediction is that in the long run, Bush's stem cell policy will turn out to have advanced medical research, not impeded it. That is what has happened so far.

VAWA jurisdiction
Andy writes:
VAWA, as we all should know, was the centerpiece of the early Clinton Administration when he enjoyed overwhelming control of both houses of Congress. VAWA established a new, highly punitive cause of action for broadly defined "gender motivated" violence or threat of violence.

Perhaps Rehnquist's greatest achievement was holding together a 5-4 majority to invalidate the provision of this law that opened the floodgates of federal courts to them. We filed a brief requesting that result, and we won. United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598 (2000).

However, only today did I realize just how bad this statute really was. It created a new federal remedy that could be enforced in either federal or state court. Each had concurrent jurisdiction. It's common knowledge that plaintiffs typically prefer state court, where they can go for higher judgments and play the judges and juries better.

Now get this: VAWA expressly denied defendants the right to remove a VAWA action to federal court! The right of removal to federal court that belongs to defendants in virtually every other action (e.g., for diversity or federal question) was statutorily denied to VAWA defendants!

This is still in the Code: 28 USC 1445(d). I can't believe this outrageous denial of rights to defendants. This may be useful in reminding liberals how they remove federal jurisdiction when it suits them.

Unfortunately, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has just been renewed by the Congress.

Friday, Oct 07, 2005
Leftist law professor attacks Scalia
On the the Oct. 4 PBS NewsHour, Stanford law prof Pamela S. Karlan said:
Justices Scalia and Thomas who have voted during their time on the court to strike down more federal laws and more state laws, probably, than any two justices in modern times.
No, she is wrong. Here is a link to a discussion of an academic study by Gerwitz and Golder saying that Scalia and Thomas have voted to strike down more FEDERAL LAWS than others on the CURRENT COURT.

The study is just leftist propaganda anyway. The law profs are trying to argue that it is the right-wingers who are the activists, not the left-wingers. The argument is so idiotic that it is silly.

The Warren Court and subsequent liberals knocked out many 100s of laws that had a huge impact on millions of people. They required forced school busing. They set rules for legislative redistricting, invalidating all 50 state constitutions. They required Miranda warnings and other radical changes in police procedures. They legalized pornography and abortion. Just recently, they allowed eminent domain actions to take land for reasons other than public use, and they abolished the death penalty for 17-year-olds and murderers with IQs below 70.

What have the conservatives done that could be called activist?

The ABA (lawyer lobby) Journal says:

More than half of Americans are angry and disappointed with the nation’s judiciary, a new survey done for the ABA Journal eReport shows.

A majority of the survey respondents agreed with statements that "judicial activism" has reached the crisis stage, and that judges who ignore voters’ values should be impeached. Nearly half agreed with a congressman who said judges are "arrogant, out-of-control and unaccountable."

The survey results surprised some legal experts with the extent of dissatisfaction shown toward the judiciary. "These are surprisingly large numbers," says Mark V. Tushnet, a constitutional law professor at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.

"These results are simply scary," adds Charles G. Geyh, a constitutional law professor at Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington. ...

Several legal scholars responding to the survey results were startled by the numbers.

Karlan is probably one of those out-of-touch leftist legal scholars who would be startled. Americans are not angry and disappointed with Scalia and Thomas; they disapprove of the leftist judicial supremacists who think that they can impose their political views on us.
Phyllis Schlafly in the news
The Wash. Times has just published a biographical article
ST. LOUIS -- Few living Americans have done as much to shape the nation's direction as Phyllis Schlafly, who is arguably the most important woman in American political history.

She is the suburban housewife turned best-selling author who heralded conservative Sen. Barry Goldwater's 1964 Republican presidential campaign as "A Choice, Not an Echo," followed up by becoming an authority on nuclear-missile defense and then, in a stunning upset, led the forces that defeated the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).

When asked about her greatest accomplishments, however, Mrs. Schlafly takes care to mention perhaps the most important lesson of her long career -- "teaching conservatives that we can win."

Along the way, she helped arouse the slumbering giant of American politics -- millions of socially conservative but previously apolitical churchgoers. She saw their potential and figured out how to turn them into a separate force on the political right.

What Mrs. Schlafly calls the "pro-family movement" helped elect Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush to the White House and establish Republicans' decadelong dominance in Congress.

There is a new book about her by Donald T. Critchlow.
More suspicions about Miers
David Frum blasts the Miers nomination. Ouch.

The main arguments for Miers are that Bush knows her, she was a successful Dallas lawyer in a big law firm, and she is a born-again Christian. I am waiting for better arguments. Being a Bush crony is a negative, and we should have no religious tests for government office. I even have questions about how successful a lawyer she was. A lawyer in that position would have earned $400k or more a year, and yet her financial disclosure shows she only has $500k or so.

You can read her articles here.

Thursday, Oct 06, 2005
Catholic cardinal still dubious about evolution
Evolutionists are gloating that Catholic Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has backtracked on his denunciation of evolution. His earlier statement is summarized here:
In his essay, Cardinal Schönborn accepts that human and other organisms have a common ancestry and, by implication, that the species on earth today have evolved over a long period from other species no longer extant. That is, he accepts the historical fact that life has evolved. He distinguishes this acceptable fact of evolution from what he characterizes as the unacceptable "neo-Darwinian" theory that, in the words of the official 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church of which he was an editor, evolution is "reducible to pure chance and necessity." ...

In the evolutionary process, he writes, there must have been "an internal finality," the Divine plan. He calls attention to the fact that John Paul II, who endorsed the science of evolution in his 1996 address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, nevertheless insisted in his other writings that there must also be such a principle of finality and direction built into the material process. Such internal finality and direction cannot be omitted from the minimal Christian position.

Here is the new story:
“Without a doubt, Darwin pulled off quite a feat with his main work and it remains one of the very great works of intellectual history,” Schoenborn declared in a lecture in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna on Sunday. “I see no problem combining belief in the Creator with the theory of evolution, under one condition — that the limits of a scientific theory are respected.”

Science studies what is observable, and scientists overstep the boundaries of their discipline when they conclude evolution proves there was no creator, said the cardinal, 60, a top Church doctrinal expert and close associate of Pope Benedict XVI.

I see no change here. He still accepts all scientific knowledge about evolution, but rejects the notion that it is entirely unguided, unplanned, and random, as is claimed by leftist-atheist-evolutionist Dawkins and the Wiesel Nobel cabal.
Canada not so liberal
I didn't know this:
In tolerant, open-minded, diverse and creative Canada therapeutic cloning--defined as creating an in vitro embryo with the same chromosomes as any other individual--is a crime punishable by ten years in prison....

In liberal Canada... the law defines cloning expansively. Future procedures that might avoid religious objections would still be illegal. The goal is to stop certain research altogether.

In the USA, therapeutic cloning (aka embryonic stem cell research) is completely legal, and is heavily funded in universities, private industry, federal and state governments. The only restriction is that the federally funded research must use approved stem cell lines, of which many are commonly available.
Alternate universe
Al Gore says:
How many of you, I wonder, have heard a friend or a family member in the last few years remark that it's almost as if America has entered "an alternate universe"?
The scary part is that there is a parallel universe in which Al Gore is the president, according to the many worlds theory.

Tuesday, Oct 04, 2005
Miers will serve the donuts
Liza recommends this article which supports Harriet Miers and says:
As the court’s new junior member, the 60 year old lady Harriet Miers will finally give a break to Stephen Breyer, who has been relegated to closing and opening the door of the conference room, and fetching beverages for his more senior Justices. Her ability to do this type of work with no resentment, no discomfort, and no regrets will at the least endear her to the others. It will also confirm her as the person who cheerfully keeps the group on an even keel, more comfortable than otherwise might be the case with a level of emotional solidarity.
It also says that Miers is a hard worker, and has other good qualities.

This is pathetic. The article misunderstands the dissatisfaction with Miers. Conservatives wanted an intellectual like Scalia or Thomas who understands and believes and can defend a legal philosophy of interpreting textual law, not making new law from politics and prejudices. Miers appears to be not up to the task.

The article says:

Ms. Miers has actually managed a business, a substantial one with hundreds of employees, and has had to meet a payroll and conform to tax, affirmative acttion, and other regulatory demands of the state. She has also been highly active in a White House during wartime, when national security considerations have been a matter of life and death.
No, she hasn't managed a business. She was just a senior partner in a law firm. Giving private legal advice to Bush doesn't count for much, because we don't know whether the advice was any good or not.

John writes:

OK, so she's a pro-business, corporate lawyer. That's not what conservatives were looking for.

Corporate/big business interests are, at best, indifferent to the conservative agenda. At worst, they are downright opposed. In either case, they typically resent the amount of time and space consumed by conservative political movements which they view as a distraction to money making business efficiency.

Nothing in Miers' career as a corporate lawyer gives us much insight as to how she would have voted on the 100 most important Supreme Court cases of the last 50 years.

USA control of the internet
This USA-hater rants:
When the US criticizes governmental control, the obvious retort is that there is already one government with extensive oversight powers over ICANN and the core technical functions of the Internet: the USA itself. The US is completely at a loss to explain why it should have that control, to the exclusion of all other governments. Its "but we are different" argument might find a receptive audience among US business interests, but it doesn't fly anywhere else. It's not enough for the US to say, "we are not an authoritarian state like China." For one thing, the US seems an increasingly authoritarian state to many in Europe, what with the Patriot Act and other recent measures forcing everyone entering the country to undergo biometric surveillance. But even if that is not an entirely fair perception, the US cannot claim that it will not use its unilateral power over ICANN for it already has. In August, the Bush administration responded to political pressure from conservative religious groups by asking ICANN to reconsider the creation of a top level domain for adult content. It was inevitable and entirely predictable that other governments, including erstwhile allies such as the European Union, would want their own piece of that power.
We don't just distrust China. The EU doesn't believe in free speech either, and we don't need their meddling with the internet.
Krugman errors admitted
The NY Times has to keep issuing corrections when lying Bush-hater Paul Krugman says that Al Gore really won the 2000 election. Krugman's columns are no longer freely available online.
More on Miers
Buchanan on Miers.
In a decision deeply disheartening to those who invested such hopes in him, Bush may have tossed away his and our last chance to roll back the social revolution imposed upon us by our judicial dictatorship since the days of Earl Warren.
Democrats sometimes claim that conservatives only care about where judges stand on abortion. They are wrong. Miers appears to be anti-abortion, but conservatives are very unhappy about her.

Monday, Oct 03, 2005
Berkeley lefty snubbed
SF paper:
Washington -- House Republicans rejected an effort Tuesday to name a post office in Berkeley after longtime Berkeley Councilwoman Maudelle Shirek after a conservative lawmaker questioned whether the 94-year-old activist represents American values. ...

But House Republicans have sought to block the effort, mostly through a whisper campaign about her reported past ties to communist leaders and left-wing causes. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, objected Tuesday to Lee's proposal and rallied Republicans to defeat the measure in an unusual roll call vote.

Lee, who said Shirek helped inspire her to run for elected office, was furious after the House defeated her measure on a mostly party line vote of 215 to 190. The measure needed two-thirds support for passage. ...

In an interview with the Associated Press, King said Shirek had an "affiliation with the Communist Party" because she was involved with the Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library in Berkeley.

It is not clear whether she was really a commie, but what good did she ever do?
A lot of mediocre judges
Here is a Senator on a Nixon nominee:
Even if he is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they?
Mediocrity is already well-represented on the Supreme Court.