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Saturday, May 27, 2006
Bush's mistakes
Pres. Bush's enemies are now bragging that he has admitted mistakes:
I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner, you know. "Wanted, dead or alive"; that kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted.
Where was "Wanted, dead or alive" misinterpreted? What part of that doesn't translate into some other language? I do not think that Bush was misinterpreted.

Friday, May 26, 2006
Evolution sticker in court
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:
In January 2005, Cooper ordered the removal of evolution disclaimers affixed to almost 35,000 science textbooks in Cobb after finding they conveyed an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. The county complied, but also appealed that ruling, which was thrown out Thursday by the 11th Circuit.

The 11th Circuit noted that all parties in the case agree that some evidence presented to Cooper during a four-day trial is now missing. "The problems presented by a record containing significant evidentiary gaps are compounded because at least some key findings of the district court are not supported by the evidence that is contained in the record," Judge Ed Carnes wrote.

The 43-page decision said whether the 11th Circuit upholds or rejects Cooper's ruling depends on what evidence was before Cooper, but the appeals court cannot tell what all of the evidence was.

This is ridiculous. Does the court really want more fact-finding on the theory of evolution? The sticker is just an innocuous disclaimer. If it takes that much judicial effort to check the facts, then it should just let the schools use the sticker.
NAACP wants innocent people gagged
Lacrosse news:
DURHAM -- A lawyer with the state NAACP said the civil rights organization intends to seek a gag order in the Duke lacrosse case, and a journalist who participated in a forum with him on Wednesday said media coverage of the alleged rape may deprive the alleged victim of her legal rights to a fair trial.
What he doesn't want the public to hear is that the accuser, Crystal Gail Mangum, is a prostitute who had sex with three other men before going to work as a drunk stripper at the lacrosse boys' party. Her main evidence is that she had injuries consistent with rape, but DNA tests say that the semen did not come from anyone on the Duke lacrosse team.

Mangum has no right to a fair trial. She is not the one on trial. It was the Durham DA who decided to try this case in the press. The accused have a right to defend themselves publicly. The jury may not find out whether Mangum really is a prostitute because of rape shield laws, but I think that the Duke players are entitled to release info that rebuts what the DA has told the press.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Toddlers watching TV
NY Times reports:
Parents Making Use of TV Despite Risks

A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation ... found that despite increasing debate over the potentially harmful effects of television on young children, many parents believe that the benefits of a little tube time — whether for their children's development or their own sanity — outweigh the risk of raising a generation of crib potatoes.

On a typical day 61 percent of babies one year or younger watch TV or videos, with average viewing of more than an hour, the study found. A third of children under 6 have a TV in their bedroom. And more than half of parents surveyed said their main reason for putting a TV in their child's room was so that they or other family members could watch their own shows.

The pediatricians say that children under 2 should not watch any TV. But they have no real research to back them up. Some TV may well be beneficial.

George writes:

Are you saying that you subscribe to Baby Einstein and Mozart products? There is no evidence that those products work.
No, they probably don't work. But I let my toddlers watch some TV, and some of it appeared to be beneficial.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Google censorship
Newsbuster writes:
Something frighteningly ominous has been happening on the Internet lately: Google, without any prior explanation or notice, has been terminating its News relationship with conservative e-zines and web journals.
Humans v Evolution
NY Times reports:
Humans can threaten species with extinction in many ways, including overfishing, pollution and deforestation. Now a pair of studies points to a new danger to the world's biodiversity: humans may be blocking new species from evolving.
We should send these folks to talk to the climate change folks. Evolutionists usually say that dramatic climate changes promote evolution.
Failure of psychiatry
NY Times reports:
In a career that has spanned four decades, Dr. [Thomas H.] McGlashan, now 64 and a professor of psychiatry at Yale, has with grim delight extinguished some of psychiatry's grandest notions, none more ruthlessly than his own. He strived for years to master psychoanalysis, only to reject it outright after demonstrating, in a landmark 1984 study, that the treatment did not help much at all in people, like Keith, with schizophrenia. Once placed on antipsychotic medication, Keith became less paranoid and more expressive. Without it, he quickly deteriorated.

Dr. McGlashan turned to medication and biology for answers and in the 1990's embarked on a highly controversial study of antipsychotic medication to prevent psychosis in high-risk adolescents. But doctors' hopes for that experiment, too, withered under the cold eye of its lead author.

Early this month, Dr. McGlashan reported that the drugs were more likely to induce weight gain than to produce a significant, measurable benefit.

That is right. The scientific evidence that psychiatric drugs do any good is extremely weak.

Saturday, May 20, 2006
Fake portrait
There is a famous painting of a black sailor, wearing an officer's uniform, who fought with George Washington during the American revolutionary war. Supposedly he saved Washington's life in the 1783 Battle of Brooklyn. It’s in just about every book on AfricanAmerican history. Unfortunately, it is a fake.
Evolution by small jerks
Here is Niles Eldredge with Confessions of a Darwinist:
In a clear demonstration of how thoroughly political the creationist movement has always been in the United States, Ronald Reagan told reporters, after addressing a throng of Christian ministers during the 1980 presidential campaign, that evolution “is a theory, a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science and is not yet believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was believed.” The creationist who managed to get to Reagan’s handlers later bragged to me that those scientists in question were none other than Gould and me. ...

I take being called anti-Darwinian very personally. ... But I never thought the fact that Darwin—from where I stand as a paleontologist—got some of his story wrong somehow made me an anti-Darwinian.

He wants scientific credit for proving Darwin wrong, but he doesn't want creationists to notice.

Friday, May 19, 2006
9-11 warnings
Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted to life in prison for failing to warn the FBI before 9-11 with what he knew about a possible Al Qaeda attack. According to Judith Miller, the NY Times had a story before 9-11 that Al Qaeda was planning a major attack. Her editor rejected it, and still has regrets about it.

I am not necessarily blaming anyone. I just think that it is unlikely that Moussaoui would have been taken very seriously anyway.

Thursday, May 18, 2006
Human ape hybrids
Evolutionists in Nature are claiming that human ancestors spent a million years interbreeding with chimps, and that we are descended from hybrids. Nicholas Wade writes:
"If the earliest hominids are bipedal, it's hard to think of them interbreeding with the knuckle-walking chimps — it's not what we had in mind," said Daniel E. Lieberman, a biological anthropologist at Harvard. ...

"We'd like to have a more Victorian view of our genome," he said, "and this reminds us that we are really animals and gives us a glimpse of our past and of a story that we might like to have told in a different way."

This is nonsense. It is doubtful that the earliest hominids were bipedal, and there are not enough fossils to give any evidence on interbreeding. All they really found out was that chromosome differences between humans and apes are slightly greater for Y than X.

I expect evolutionists to go ape over this. They are often big fans of the Copernican-Freudian-Gouldian principle that the essence of science is knocking Man off his pedestal. What could be better than claiming that Man is a ape half-breed that spent a million years mating with knuckle-draggers?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Consensus letter
Some economists are circulating a consensus letter in favor of immigration. I may submit my own:
Open letter on global warming

Overall, sunshine has been a net gain for American crops. It may have given some people sunburn, but the gains outweigh the losses.

America is a warm and friendly country and these qualities make America a beacon to the world. We should not let exaggerated fears dim that beacon.

The economist letter is just as silly. It tells us nothing about whether immigration levels should be increased or decreased, or how criminal behavior might be dealt with.
Human ancestors breeding with apes
Evolution news:
The earliest known ancestors of modern humans might have reproduced with early chimpanzees to create a hybrid species, a new genetic analysis suggests.

Based on the study of human and chimp genomes, the scientists believe the split between the human and chimpanzee lines occurred much more recently than previously thought—no more than 6.3 million years ago and perhaps as recently as 5.4 million years ago.

Human and chimpanzee ancestors began branching apart on the primate evolutionary tree some 9 million years ago, but there are significant gaps in the fossil record. The new analysis suggests that a full split, which scientists call speciation, wasn't achieved for nearly 4 million years and might have occurred twice.

I just don't believe that this can be deduced by extrapolating present-day gene sequences.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Employer penalties
Andy writes, about proposed immigration reform:
After watching people pretend that the penalties in the House version (HR 4473) were fair and sensible, and suspecting otherwise, I looked it up myself. In addition to hefty fines for employers not "verifying" employee status, get a load of this:
SEC. 706. PENALTIES. ... `(1) CRIMINAL PENALTY- Any person or entity which engages in a pattern or practice of violations of subsection (a)(1) or (2) shall be fined not more than $50,000 for each unauthorized alien with respect to which such a violation occurs, imprisoned for not less than one year, or both, notwithstanding the provisions of any other Federal law relating to fine levels.'; and ...
What an outrage that is! A small businessman is imprisoned for NOT LESS THAN ONE YEAR!!!!!! A floor on the penalty, not a ceiling!!!

No thanks. I'll pass on that bill. This is Big Brother terrorizing small business once again. I suspect most conservatives would oppose this also, once they learn the truth about it.

John replies:
The quoted provision applies only if an employer "engages in a pattern or practice of violations" of specified sections of the 1986 Simpson-Mazzoli law. Those 20-year-old provisions make it unlawful for an employer to employ an illegal alien, "knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien."

So there are two giant escape hatches for any employer. First, the employer has to have actual knowledge that the employee is an illegal alien. Second, the employer must have engaged in a "pattern or practice" of such intentional violations.

No honest small employer has any risk of being caught by these laws. Using the instant check system would provide a complete defense. These provision are really quite soft compared with many other, stricter federal laws that we all observe every day.

The real problem is, Andy apparently agrees with Bush that those who knowingly employ illegal aliens should not be punished. However, the nation decided otherwise in the last "comprehensive" law, which Reagan signed in 1986. In exchange for giving amnesty to 1 million people (which then seemed like a huge number), Congress enacted a law requiring employers to check employment eligibility for all new employees.

As we all know, the illegal alien lobby got what it wanted, and then some: 3 million eventually got amnesty, instead of the 1 million Congress intended. But the American people, whose votes and citizenship were diluted, got the short end of the stick. The promised employer verification was never enforced, so 20 years later, we now have 12-20 million more illegals.

I actually agree with Andy that we don't want to rely on the federal government to enforce the law -- not because it would be "Big Brother terrorizing small business once again," but because the federal government would do nothing once again.

The solution is to make the law self-enforcing. That's the beauty of the H.R. 4437: it sets up a system that any small business can use easily, quickly, and cheaply. Anyone who uses that system never has to worry about criminal violations.

I think that the feds should be enforcing immigration law, not private employers.
Winning in Iraq
Three years ago, Pres. Bush announced on the USS Abraham Lincoln under a "Mission Accomplished" banner:
In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. ... Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.
I am surprised to still see people attacking this claim. It was the correct thing to say.

We won the Battle of Baghdad. We destroyed Saddam Hussein's govt. We defeated and dispersed the Iraqi army. It was a very impressive military victory.

Occupying Iraq has proved difficult, of course. A lot of people thought that it would be impossible a Western-style govt there. The Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds might still be fighting each other 100 years from now. Maybe the nation-building experiment will fail in Iraq. But there is no doubt that we decisively and brilliantly won the battle of Iraq as Bush said, and it was correct to claim military victory. It would have been irresponsible for Bush to say anything else.

NY Times says NSA makes math errors
Jonathan David Farley writes in the NY Times:
Math is just a tool. Used wisely, math can indeed help in warfare: consider the Battle of Britain, won in part by breaking the German codes. But use it unwisely -- as seems to be the case here -- and your approval ratings might just hit a new all-time low.
His argument is that Pres. Bush's ratings are down because he fallaciously thinks that the NSA will be able to use phone network data to gain intelligence on potential terrorists.

The guy is a nut. Bush's rating are not down because of bad mathematicians at the NSA. If the guy is correct that the phone data is useless, then no one should object to the NSA collecting it. Not many people object to it anyway.

Sunday, May 14, 2006
State babysitting
Calif Prop 82 is on the June ballot, and it would amend the constitution to impose a surtax on the rich to fund a state babysitting (aka preschool) program for 4-year-olds. The plan is to spend about $8k for 540 hours of day care for each participating 4-year-old.

That is about $15 per hour. I can hire individual private tutors for less money than that. They would do a lot better job also, and I wouldn't have the problem of taking the kid to and from some silly preschool in the middle of the day. Even the left-wing San Jose paper is against it.

I don't even think that the ballot initiative should have been permitted under the single issue rule. Prop 82 does 2 things: tax the rich and start a preschool program. If the rich are undertaxed, then maybe we should have an initiative just for that. If preschool is really such a big win, then we should fund it out of general revenues. But taxing the rich has nothing to do with preschool.

Driving while black
UK news:
BRITAIN’S most senior policeman Sir Ian Blair is facing a race relations dilemma after the release of figures that reveal almost half the number of people arrested in relation to car crime in London are black.

Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, has signed off a report by his force’s traffic unit which shows that black people account for 46% of all arrests generated by new automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) cameras.

The technology allows car registration plates to be scanned and automatically run through databases to determine whether a vehicle is stolen, uninsured or has not had its road tax paid.

American blacks sometimes complain about being stopped by police just because they are black, but these arrests are generated automatically by robots without regard to race.

Saturday, May 13, 2006
Meddling Judges
Robert P. Rew of San Jose writes:
Judges meddling with people's job

We have Judge Jeremy Fogel, who wants to change or eliminate the death penalty, and now we have Judge Robert Freedman, who wants to run high school graduation (Page 1A, May 10). It's time for the judicial system to remember that we have a ``government of the people, by the people, for the people.'' We the people make the rules for high school graduation. Judges have no role in it. Send Freedman back to school until he learns that. And when the framers of our Constitution wrote that part about ``no cruel or unusual punishment,'' the death penalty was hanging or firing squad.

Limiting judges
Missouri news:
The Missouri House approved by voice vote on Wednesday a resolution that calls on Congress to rein in the nation’s judges by approving the Constitution Restoration Act of 2005 (CRA).

The resolution was sponsored by state Rep. Mark Wright, R-Springfield. It says that the Restoration Act would “resolve the improper judicial intervention in matters relating to the acknowledgement of God.”

Missouri is at least the third state to pass such a resolution, following Idaho and Louisiana.

Friday, May 12, 2006
Evolution and bacteria
Holden Thorp writes in the NY Times:
Since evolution has been the dominant theory of biology for more than a century, it's a safe statement that all of the wonderful innovations in medicine and agriculture that we derive from biological research stem from the theory of evolution.
Thorp is a chemist, so perhaps that is why he has to guess about the history of biology. In fact, there are hardly any innovations that are attributable to the theory of evolution.

His favorite example is resistant bacteria. The idea is that if an antibiotic kills some bacteria and not others, then the surviving bacteria will reproduce and not be killed. Sound profound? No, it is as trivial as it sounds. No theory is needed.

Biology certainly has made tremendous progress in the last 50 years, and the field has been dominated by evolutionists. That suggests that the theory is useful, and worth teaching. But Kansas has not stopped teaching evolution, and neither has anyone else. Thorp is on the warpath against Kansas not for the science that it is teaching, but for its definition of science.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Reading the 4A
John sends this NRO article on how to read the 4A.
This week, following Hayden’s nomination, Editor & Publisher republished the Hayden-Landay exchange under the headline, “Hayden, Likely Choice for CIA Chief, Displayed Shaky Grip on 4th Amendment at Press Club.” And just yesterday, Fred Kaplan wrote an article for Slate in which he relates part of the exchange. He then comments, "This is startling. Elsewhere in the speech, Hayden said, 'If there's any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it's the Fourth.' And he doesn't know that it requires ‘probable cause’ as the criterion for ‘reasonable’ search? ... Hayden may have dug his own hole with this one.”
The 4A requires that searches and seizures be reasonable, and that warrants be based on a showing of probable cause.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Nonlawyer defends son
The NY Times reports:
Several years ago, Brian Woods sued the school board in Akron, Ohio, on behalf of his autistic son Daniel. Mr. Woods wanted to make sure that Daniel received an appropriate education, and he won several concessions and about $160,000.

Sandee and Jacob Winkelman at home in Parma, Ohio. She said lawyers wanted thousands of dollars to help Jacob, who is autistic. "We had no money, and we had nowhere to send Jacob to school," she said.

"I soundly defeated a team of lawyers," Mr. Woods, an adjunct professor at Cuyahoga Community College, said yesterday.

When the Cleveland Bar Association got wind of Mr. Woods's victory recently, it also went to court — to sue Mr. Woods.

The bar association said he had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. It sought a $10,000 fine, lawyers' fees and a promise that he would not continue to assist other parents seeking to represent their own children in court.

The Ohio Supreme Court was not impressed.

I am not impressed either. He won his case, and that should be proof that he competently represented his son's interests. The lawyers just want to monopolize the business.

The article suggests that the US Supreme Court might hear a similar case. It sure seems to me that a father should be able to stand up for his son in court.

Monday, May 08, 2006
Physicists make political statement
Leonard Susskind and a bunch of other mathematical physicists have written a letter to the NY Times:
Scientists Speak Out About Guantánamo (1 Letter)
Published: April 30, 2006

To the Editor:

We are deeply concerned that without serious debate, the United States has crossed the limits of acceptable practices in the treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and other sites. The secrecy and the disdain for international law and opinion are contrary to the very ideals that our country has long stood and fought for.

Huhh? I always thought that that our country stood for disdain for international opinion. International law is certainly not an American ideal. Americans think that the rest of the world is screwed up, and we stand for doing things better.
We are told that our country is being protected by locking up dangerous terrorists in isolated facilities in order to make us accept a breakdown of our own laws.
This is really wacky. Do they really think that Pres. Bush and Cheney and Rumsfield adopted some course of action for the purpose of making American accept a breakdown of our own laws? It sounds to me as if it is the physicists who want us to accept international law instead of our own laws.
But we do not know - indeed, we have not been allowed any way of finding out - if the individual prisoners are enemy combatants, Al Qaeda suspects or innocents unlucky enough to have been caught in a blind sweep.
Do they really care whether they are enemy combatants or Al Qaeda suspects? I don't.
It is one of the most fundamental principles of a democracy that all accused should be tried without unreasonable delays and freed if innocent.
Democracy means majority rule, not how to try terrorist suspects. It does not mean freeing wartime prisoners, even if they are innocent. Soldiers who fought for Germany and Japan in WWII were innocent in the sense of not having broken any law, but we still did not free them until the war was over.
In no case do our moral principles permit humiliating and degrading treatment.
Did they become moral philosophers?
The administration has cynically used fear to justify behavior that the civilized world has long considered criminal.
Criminal? These physicists probably disagree with the Iraq War and have some policy disagreements, but the the civilized world has never considered it criminal to detain and interrogate enemy combatants.
Although this is not a scientific issue in the usual sense, we feel that to ignore it would be to abdicate our responsibility to the truth. Therefore, we have felt compelled to speak out against human rights violations, including those committed by Americans. We are asking all people of good will to join us in demanding a quick return to our country's great traditions.
These guys should stick to math and physics.

I do think that citizens who are accused of crimes should get protections in the Bill Of Rights, and prisoners of war should get protections as in the Geneva Conventions. But those who conspire with Al Qaeda against the USA are in the another category. They have no rights that the civilized world recognizes, and they should be treated much worse than criminals and prisoners of war.

George writes:

You might be misinterpreting the sentence about making "us accept a breakdown of our own laws". It sounds like the Bush administration has one reason for Guantánamo, but is telling us another reason in order to trick us into accepting a breakdown of our own laws so that Bush can declare marshal law or something like that. Or maybe left-wing propagandists are trying to trick us about Guantánamo. Or maybe Bush is detaining those prisoners as a trick to make us accept other violations of the law. The physicists are probably just unhappy about Guantánamo, and wanted to qualify their statement with "we are told" because they don't really know what is going on.
The signers of the letter are 19 of the smartest people in the world. I am sure that they scrutinized every word, and they mean exactly what they said.

Bush argues persuasively that Guantánamo is legal. I don't see how anything related to Guantánamo could be leading to the public accepting a breakdown of our own laws. It might be leading to an expansion of executive authority or to the irritation of the Mohammedan world, but not to a breakdown of our own laws.

Sunday, May 07, 2006
No shortage of skilled workers
Christopher R. Moylan cites a bunch of article about the supposed shortage of scientists and engineers, and writes:
Whether the cry is for more H-1B visas or more female engineers, the goal is the same: a dramatic increase in the supply of high-tech workers. The problem with these proposed remedies is that they address an employee shortage that does not, in fact, exist.

Thousands of highly trained scientists and engineers still roam Silicon Valley looking for work after having been cut adrift by the same types of people who now claim that they can't find anyone to hire. And thousands more are now working in different fields at substantially lower salaries, having given up searching for an equivalent to their previous positions. ``No one I know who has looked at the data with an open mind has been able to find any sign of a current shortage,'' said demographer Michael Teitelbaum in the Wall Street Journal's Nov. 16 front-page story, ``Behind `Shortage' of Engineers: Employers Grow More Choosy.'' In a column titled ``A Phony Science Gap?'' (Feb. 22), the Washington Post's Robert J. Samuelson explained in detail why ``it's emphatically not true, as much of the alarmist commentary on America's `competitiveness' implies, that the United States now faces crippling shortages in its technological elites.''

... When the best students, being rational, start to desert science and engineering, businesses will have nobody to blame but themselves. The solution will be the same one that existed before the Reagan administration, as Harvard economist Richard Freeman told Samuelson: ``If we want more (scientists and engineers), we have to pay them better and give them better careers.''

He's right. For as long as I can remember, businesses and others have been complaining about a shortage of scientists and engineers at the same time that they were cutting their wages and laying them off.
Freud was a kook
The Si Valley paper is celebrating Sigmund Freud's 150th birthday, and lists his major inventions:

Sigmund Freud maintained that people are not entirely aware of what they think and act in ways that have little or nothing to do with their conscious thoughts. He proposed that awareness existed in layers and that important and influential thoughts occurred ``below the surface.'' He wrote extensively about how people repress painful ideas, thoughts or feelings.

This was Freud's proudest accomplishment. He said that his symbolic interpretation of dreams was the royal road to the unconscious.

Of course people are unconscious when they are asleep; that has been known for 1000s of years. But Freud's theory of dreams is contrary to everything that we now know about dreams.


Freud argued that starting at birth, people go through stages of development -- including the oral, anal and phallic stages -- and become fixated on different objects. He also believed that children at one point see their mothers as sexual objects, a theory that became known as the Oedipus complex; the phenomenon of little girls fixating on their fathers was dubbed the Electra complex.

This is kooky, and has no merit.

To explain the driving forces behind human behavior, Freud theorized that the psyche is divided into three parts: the id, which contains primitive desires such as hunger, rage and sex; the superego, which internally deals with morals, taboos and societal norms; and the ego, which shifts between the two and plays a key role in a person's sense of self.

This was just new terminology for old ideas.

Freud believed the ego uses defense mechanisms to resolve conflicts between the id and the superego. These include denial, displacement, repression or suppression, projection, compensation, intellectualization and rationalization. Freud was convinced those were all ways people try to spare themselves emotional pain when confronted with stress, unpleasant truths or undesirable thoughts.

There is no scientific evidence for what Freud called repression.

Freud pioneered the modern concept of "talk therapy" to help patients explore what subconscious fears and desires might be surfacing in their conscious thinking or behavior. The technique initially involved using hypnosis to get a patient to recall and relive forgotten or repressed memories. Freud later rejected hypnosis and developed ``free association,'' in which patients are encouraged to express seemingly irrelevant thoughts as they occur to bring repressed traumatic events into the open.

All scientific studies have failed to show any benefit to Freudian psychoanalysis.

Freud was a pervert, drug addict, and a scientific fraud. His ideas have been proven false, to the extent that they are testable.

Friday, May 05, 2006
President's duty to the Constitution
John credits Michael Kinsley for being an honest liberal for writing this:
Last Sunday's Boston Globe carried an alarming 4,000-word front-page article about President Bush and the Constitution. It seems that Bush has asserted the right to ignore "vast swaths of the law" simply because he thinks that these laws are unconstitutional.

The article is specifically about "signing statements," in which the president offers his interpretation of an act of Congress as he signs it into law. This was an innovation of the Reagan administration, intended to give courts something other than a law's legislative history -- that is, Congress's side of the story -- in any future dispute. Bush often signs a law and at the same time says that parts of it are unconstitutional. Sneaky!

The Globe does not report what it thinks a president ought to do when called upon to enforce or obey a law he or she believes to be unconstitutional.

The President is sworn to uphold the Constitution, as part of his Oath of office. It would really be alarming if the President declared that he could enforce some unconstitional law. Not even Richard Nixon said that.

G.W.Bush did raise some eyebrows when he signed the the McCain-Feingold (campaign finance) Bill while expressing reservations about parts of it being unconstitional. Perhaps he thought that those parts would not be enforced.

Thursday, May 04, 2006
Why Bush appointed Miers
A Cato Institute article says:
"Trust the president." That was the Bush administration's main defense of the president's bizarre choice of corporate lawyer Harriet Miers for a seat on the Supreme Court. But the administration also had a backup rationale: as D.C.'s Hill newspaper reported, in an October 3, 2005, conference call with conservative leaders, Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman stressed "the need to confirm a justice who will not interfere with the administration's management of the war on terrorism."
A reader says, "This rings absolutely true to me."
Princeton Prof defends marriage law
A reader writes:
What a laugh that Princeton would criticize Robbie George because he "stepped out of the ivory tower," one week after Princeton history prof Sean Wilentz published his ridiculous cover story in Rolling Stone!

I do think George deserves severe criticism -- not for becoming an activist, but because neither he nor his colleagues have ever published a law review-style article explaining his position, advancing his argument, or defending the text of the constitutional amendment they drafted. Although there have been 3 versions of the amendment since 2003, neither George nor his colleagues explained why, or whether the changes in wording were meant to have legal significance.

On the basic question of what effect, if any, the amendment would have on same-sex domestic partners, George has disagreed with his own fellow drafters, as well as with the House and Senate sponsors of the amendment. So what is the public supposed to think?

Yes, I think that the marriage amendment is hopelessly ambiguous and confusing, and not likely to do what the proponents say it will do. The public will not get behind it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006
A really scary idea
John sends this AP news story:
WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Tuesday that a Republican proposal in Congress to set up a watchdog over the federal courts is a "really scary idea."

Ginsburg told a gathering of the American Bar Association that lawyers should stick up for judges when they are criticized by congressional leaders.

"My sense now is that the judiciary is under assault in a way that I haven't seen before," she said.

As an example, she mentioned proposals by senior Republicans who want an inspector general to police judges' acceptance of free trips or their possible financial interests with groups that could appear before them.

"It sounds to me very much like the Soviet Union was .... That's a really scary idea," said Ginsburg, who was put on the court by President Clinton and is one of its liberal members.

Yeah, just like the USSR. The Soviet Union was famous for monitoring judges for conflicts of interest. Ginsburg gets paid about $200k per year and she cannot be fired, and she is really scared that someone might notice her taking bribes.