April 2005 Archives

Dear Editor,

I've seen letters recently, such as in your paper this week ("Fallout will be extensive"), that claim there is a "requirement for a supermajority to approve federal judges." But no such requirement has ever existed.

Clarence Thomas, for example, was approved by a mere majority, 52-48. Various Clinton nominees -- including Richard Paez, who was unsuccessfully filibustered by the Republicans -- were also passed by a regular majority, not a supermajority (which also means that some people who voted to end the filibuster also voted against the nominee).

Highlighting this mythical "200-year-old requirement" in fact argues against tradition, because not until recently, under Bush, has a judicial nominee who had the votes to be confirmed ever been rejected because of a filibuster. Not until now has reaching a supermajority actually been required. slashdot.org

If Only

| | Comments (0)
I was watching a story about Timothy McVeigh on MSNBC last weekend.

I noticed something in the old pictures of him I'd never seen before. He was wearing a Buffalo Bills t-shirt. McVeigh was a native of the Buffalo area.

The Buffalo Bills hold the record for short-term futility in professional sports in the U.S. They lost four consecutive Super Bowls, from 1991-1994. McVeigh blew up Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building just over a year after their final loss, in April 1995.

The program noted, if only McVeigh had some entrance into mainstream society, his frustrations likely would not have pushed him to the fringes, and to the destruction of a federal office building. If only he had been accepted into special forces, or the U.S. Marshals, or if he had gotten a girlfriend, or something. If only ... 168 people might still be alive today.

I submit that if Scott Norwood's field goal attempt with 8 seconds left in Super Bowl XXV hadn't sailed wide right, that building might still be standing. slashdot.org


| | Comments (0)
If DeLay were a Democrat, would the Democrats be attacking his so-called ethical problems? Would the Republicans be defending them?

If the Democrats agreed with Bolton's views, would the Democrats be bringing up this stuff about his personality? Would the Republicans be dismissing/apologizing for the arguments?

If the judicial nominees believed that abortion was always OK, in every situation, instead of that abortion should have significant limits, would the Democrats say they are extreme? Would the Republicans defend them as representative of the views of the people?

Would the Republicans filibuster those nominees? Would the Democrats be trying to remove the filibuster?*

I know the above focuses on the Democrats, because they are in the minority and doing most of the attacking because of that. But this isn't about partisanship. This is about ignoring the completely B.S. arguments the politicians use to attack something.

The Democrats do not think DeLay has ethical problems, they simply dislike him. The Democrats do not think Bolton has a bad personality, they simply dislike his views. The Democrats do not think the judicial nominees are extreme, they simply don't want new conservative judges in district courts.

The rest is just garbage. But the Democrats won't stick to the real point, because if they do, they lose, because they are in a minority, just like the Republicans did in the early 90s when they were the minority. So they bring up the garbage to try to confuse people. And we're stupid and gullible, as we are a mob of people, so it works.

*Lieberman, Kennedy, and Kerry are among the Democratic senators who are fighting to "save the filibuster" because it is so integral to democracy, but voted to abolish all filibusters 10 years ago, calling them "legislative piracy." And, of course, some of the current GOP senators participated in judicial nominee filibusters in the 90s. slashdot.org

Re: But not now

| | Comments (0)
TorgoX loves to say nonsensical and insupportable things like "Bush is a fascist." Oh, he doesn't come right out and say it, because saying what you mean is so gauche.

But really, my point in writing is to rebuke his silly attack on global warming skeptics. In this case, something brand new pops up, and he expects people to immediately recognize it as proof of some case. He decries that people should actually take time to study the evidence. It's amazing to me that people can take this stance at the same time they criticize people for supposedly ignoring science. He is, in fact, asking people to ignore science by jumping to conclusions about what this evidence means.

Take his sentence, "The data from the icecores will be denied." Maybe, but maybe that will be because it is actually flawed. Who can say, before the fact? '"More research" will be needed.' Maybe because the initial research was incomplete.

I could make equally damning charges of the other side. How about: the data from the icecores will be said to prove that global warming is caused by man. They will say no more research is needed, that the case has been proved absolutely.

I take it back, that is not equally damning, it's more damning. And at least as true.

And as side note, the title of that article, "900,000-year-old ice may destroy US case on Kyoto," is false. The case against Kyoto was never that we don't need to reduce pollution, but that Kyoto was a piss-poor way to do it, for many reasons, including -- but not limited to -- the fact that "developing nations" were significantly exempted, and that the U.S. would be harmed more than most developed nations in that the baseline data used for reduction targets was taken just before the latest U.S. economic boom, which makes U.S. targets far greater -- even proportionate to the amount of pollution produced -- than the others.

You could make the case, perhaps, that the U.S. should have to reduce proportionally more because it is the baseline that matters, and it is just unlucky for the U.S. that it has so much further to go. But then why not make a similar argument for developing nations? Clearly, there are some factors that are, if not more important than the need to reduce pollution, mitigating of it, but they pretend -- in the case of the U.S. -- that reducing pollution is all that matters, so suck it up!

Of course, the greatest argument against Kyoto is simply that the U.S. doesn't need an international treaty to fix its problems, and therefore we are better off doing it on our own. I'd vote against it for that reason alone. But I'm cool like that. use.perl.org

Federalist No. 7

| | Comments (0)
In the last article, Hamilton wrote that there was nothing inherent in our circumstances by which war might be prevented between states or confederacies, if there is no Union. In this article, Hamilton describes, rather than false reasons war would be prevented, reasons that war would occur.

First and foremost is land, followed closely by trade. These are universal causes for war, and Hamilton gives a bunch of specific existing disputes that could lead to war at some point, especially in regard to land, as the state borders were not as well-established as the national borders in Europe, and there was a whole bunch of land yet to be claimed, to the West.

Then there's the matter of the public debt, which is held by the states collectively, and would need to be split up. Some states would be hit harder than others, no matter how you deal with it. [This would prove to be a significant problem even in the Union, as we saw with Assumption.]

Hamilton closes by once again noting that a divided America would invite European influence, as they must, if they hate or fear them, attempt to divide and conquer them.

Come back again for another installment of The Federalist . slashdot.org


| | Comments (0)
There is a fight over judicial nominees in the Senate. Has been for a few years.

What it comes down to is this: the Democrats are attacking some of the most prominent and highest-placed nominees because they disagree with them. It is the most concerted and united attack against nominees in history: never before has one party united to successfully filibuster judicial nominees.

On the other side is the Republicans, who first reacted by using recess appointments to bypass the Senate, and are now threatening to end the filibustering of judicial nominees.

I am not in favor of the proposed rule change, simply because I don't think it's worthwhile. I don't say what a lot of Republicans are saying: that someday the GOP might be a minority again, and they may want the filibuster. That's fine by me, since I am against the filibustering of judicial nominees.

No, my problem is a bit deeper than that. I just dislike the precedent it perpetuates: an ever-escalating arms race over nominees.

Don't get me wrong, if the Republicans do this, I won't lose sleep over it. The Democrats, through their unfair and unreasonable actions over these nominees, brought it on themselves.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), one of the leaders of this effort, shows us all we need to know. He says he opposes them because they are "extreme," even though they reflect the views of the President who got a majority of electoral (and popular) votes. He says they cannot be trusted to follow the law instead of their beliefs (such as in the cases of abortion or establishment of religion), even though Pryor has proven time and again he is. He says Estrada must give his views about certain controversial issues, even though it is common ethical practice for nominees to not state such views about issues that might come before them in court.

It is not about principle, except for the principle of preventing the GOP from getting any conserrvative judges in positions of power.

But I prefer another option: the GOP should refuse to bring any bills to the floor until the nominees get a vote. I like this option because it emphasizes that the Democrats are blocking the Senate from doing its work, and because to me, the less that gets done by the Senate, the better.

Of course, it won't happen. Shutting down the government is bad PR. But it would please me personally, anyway. slashdot.org

Bobby Fischer

| | Comments (0)
ESPN's Jeremy Schaap did an outstanding report on Bobby Fischer on Sunday's SportsCenter broadcast.

Schaap's father Dick, also an ESPN reporter, who died a few months after 9/11, covered Fischer throughout his career, and as Fischer had no father, Dick was also a father figure to him. He took him to sporting events, hosted parties for him, tried to give him guidance and aid when he needed it. Dick was M.C. of the celebration back in New York after Fischer beat Boris Spassky in the famous 1972 match in Iceland.

As many people know, Fischer had some sort of mental break a few decades ago. He became a recluse, joined a cult, spouted anti-Semitic remarks. In the 90s he violated UN sanctions by participating in a rematch with Spassky in war-torn Yugoslavia. He became a fugitive, uncovering himself here and there to spout anti-U.S. and anti-Semitic remarks, such as his Phillippines radio note after 9/11 that the attack was "wonderful."

Last year he was arrested in Japan, and after many months, he was sent to Iceland last month, where, in recognition of his previous chess victory there, they offered him citizenship, apparently as a ploy to prevent his extradition to the U.S., as they won't extradict a citizen.

Hours after arriving in Iceland, Jeremy Schaap was there at the press conference to meet him and ask him questions. But Fischer seemed to have more questions for Schaap.

He started by asking Schaap if he was Dick's son, and then said yes, I knew your father, he was a Jew, right? Schaap answered yes, as are you (he reports that Fischer's mother was Jewish). Fischer responded by saying that in 1984 he had his name removed from the Encyclopedia Judaica, saying they gave him a "clean bill of health."

He kept returning to Schaap throughout the conference, and pounded him about how Dick had once said Fischer didn't have "a sane bone in his body." He befriended me, Fischer said, and then turned on me like a "Jewish snake." He asked Schaap if he had read the article Dick had written, and Schaap said he didn't know, but he new his father had written it, and that honestly, nothing Fischer had said today disproved it.

Oooo, snap.

Fischer is a sad case. Who can say what turned him to be the corrupted, twisted, despicable, pitiful man we see today?

The story may have a just or ironic ending, if not a happy one: it is possible Fischer may be prosecuted under Iceland's hate speech laws, for what he said to Schaap at the press conference. slashdot.org
Democrats in Washington have completely given up any pretense that they actually care about democracy. I am not one to normally make overt partisan attacks, but what other way is there to say it, when the Democratic party is united in attacking the will of the voters?

It is difficult to understand how they could justify their stance on election reform: by not requiring identification to vote, they are diluting the power of each legal voter's ballot, because if you don't check identification, people can more easily vote illegally, which means more people will vote illegally, which means my vote has less meaning.

Not only that, but in refusing to take such action, they violate federal voting law (HAVA) and, arguably, the state and federal constitutions, which set out guidelines for eligible voters that are violated when proper identification is not required.

But that democracy-destroying inaction pales in comparison to the new law passed by the Democrats this week that overturns voter initiative 601, which required 2/3 of the legislature to pass tax increases.

I am not going to argue a supermajority is democratic while a majority is not; that's foolish, and Governor Gregoire's argument that she "believes in a majority vote" is a straw man, because the point is not that a supermajority is in some way inherently superior, but that this is the clear and expressed will of the people of Washington, and the Democrats abolished it simply because it was inconvenient for them.

The Democrats are sending an unmistakable signal: when they are in power, they don't care about the will of the voters; what Gregoire "believes in" is more important than what the voters want. The clear message voters should get from this is that Democrats should not be in power. slashdot.org

Left vs. Right

| | Comments (0)
One thing I hate is hypocrisy.

Like when the Democrats violate the-spirit-but-not-the-letter of the filibuster rules to block judicial nominees, but then scream when Bush violates the-spirit-but-not-the-letter of recess appointments in response. Same thing happening again, where they continue to threaten to violate the-spirit-but-not-the-letter of the filibuster rules, and attack the Republicans for threatening to violate the-spirit-but-not-the-letter of the rules in response (the widely misunderstood "nuclear option").

Another example of hypocrisy is the latest cries from Democrats about some ad campaign that says the fight over judicial nominees is an attack by Democrats on "people of faith." Senator Chuck Schumer said yesterday it was "over the line" and "deeply un-American," inferring that the organizers are saying that Democrats are not people of faith.

Now, I think this interpretation is over the line, as what was actually said is that the filbuster is being used against people of faith, which seems to me to be accurate, and at least arguable. But even if true, how is this private citizen saying that any worse than the chairman of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean, saying that Republicans are evil? Isn't what Dean said far worse, not only in what he said, but in that he is the party leader and this other guy isn't a party official at all? And there is no reasonable room for creative interpretation in what Dean said, either.

Another recent Dean example came up recently. We all have heard about the mid-level GOP staffer who was fired because he wrote a memo that said the GOP could use the Terri Schiavo situation to their political advantage. Now Howard Dean says basically the same thing, that the Democrats will use Terri Schiavo to their political advantage, and where's the outrage? The calls for his resignation?

And then there's DeLay. What is there to say? Because the House can investigate anyone based on a party line vote in the ethics committee, the Democrats investigate DeLay. When DeLay is found to be innocent of any ethics rules violations, they say he was "admonished," which has no actual meaning. And when the Republicans try to prevent this purely politically motivated attack from happening again by requiring at least one member of the opposing party to concur in order to investigate -- thereby preventing the Democrats from using these dirty tricks in the future -- they attack that as unreasonable and un-American and all the rest.

Not that I expect either party to be as critical of their own as of the other -- the Republicans have done the same or similar in the past to most of this -- nor do I expect the press to care as much about hypocrisy of Democrats versus potential wrongdoing of Republicans. But I like to note it for those on the left who think their side is pristine. Lately, they've been quite a lot worse than the Republicans in these matters. slashdot.org


| | Comments (0)
I am now a carpetbagger. There's a law that says precincts can't have more than 800 voters, and due to the huge turnout from the recent election, the precinct I am the duly elected PCO of -- Bryant -- has over 800 voters, and was split into another precinct, Henning, in which I now reside. The Republican voters of Bryant have a Henning resident carpetbagging as their representative! It's an outrage!

Likely, after the next election in May, I'll get local party officials to switch my office to the Henning precinct, as they have the power to fill vacancies, and I can resign from Bryant and be appointed to Henning, meaning I will no longer be duly elected, but appointed. Oh well, it was good while it lasted. slashdot.org

Federalist No. 6

| | Comments (0)
Hamilton is back, thankfully. He's a much more engaging writer than is Jay.

After spending several articles discussing threats from without, Publius turns us inward, to wonder what -- if we were not to remain a single union -- might drive us to war against each other. In this article, he focuses on the idea that somehow by our nature as a republic, or by our intersts in commerce, we would naturally avoid war.

He first dispenses with the notion that there's not enough reasons to drive us to war. History shows us there's never want for reason for war: "To presume a want of motives for such contests as an argument against their existence, would be to forget that men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious." Still, just because the states are at peace now does not mean they will continue in such state: "To look for a continuation of harmony between a number of independent, unconnected sovereignties in the same neighborhood, would be to disregard the uniform course of human events, and to set at defiance the accumulated experience of ages."

It's at this stage I start to wonder if much has changed in the last 200 years. Not that we don't have a significant amount of war in this world of ours, but Western Europe has been essentially at peace with itself for 60 years, and that's noteworthy.

Back to the 1780s: Hamilton notes that republics don't prevent war, as the Peloponnesian War brought down Athens.

Neither is, as many say, the commercial nature of the states any protection from war, as many claim. The idea -- proferred by many at the time, and by luminaries such as Alex Chiu today (sorry, couldn't resist) -- is that war is a waste of resources, and that as such, commercial republics will work for mutual benefit. Obviously, they read the 35th Ferengi Rule of Acquisition ("Peace is good for business") but skipped over the 34th ("War is good for business").

Again, Athens was commercial, and they were the agressors in the war that ruined them. As was Carthage. As was Venice, which was in several wars. The Dutch participated in several contests with England because of trade routes on the sea. And England itself -- for which "commerce has been for ages the predominant pursuit" -- has engaged in as many wars as almost any other nation.

Even in the states themselves, Shays' Rebellion in Massachusetts -- which happened only a year before this article -- was caused because of, not in spite of, problems over commerce. Shays and his fellow farmers thought the government was unfair to them and ruining them with taxes, and so they took courthouses by force.

Considering all this, what reason do we have to presume peace for the future, when the past and present tell us differently? (And, of course, we know that the future would see an American civil war predicated primarily on commercial disputes as well, and entirely within the auspices of republican governance, so it's hard to argue with his line of reasoning from our perspective.)

Come back again for another installment of The Federalist . slashdot.org

The Hand That Feeds

| | Comments (0)
As you may have seen, NIN's Trent Reznor released a GarageBand version of their new track, The Hand That Feeds.

Here's my humble version. Also, an image to go with it, that might pique your interest as to what the NMC remix is all about. slashdot.org

Skykomish Scaremongering

| | Comments (0)
American Rivers, a national environmental group, has been drafted in the fight over growth management in Snohomish County, WA, where I live. Skykomish River is, according to their annual report, the fourth "most endangered river" in the United States.

It's a ridiculous claim on its face. The river is in great shape, one of the healthiest in the state, but they claim it is endangered because it is threatened by "runaway development," that "[w]ithout a strong plan to manage growth, runaway development will damage the health of the river and diminish the quality of life for watershed residents."

No one could disagree with this; but there is such a plan, and the state's Growth Management Act mandates such a plan. The state says that the county should expect 285,000 new residents in the next 20 years, and the county council is looking to direct 85 percent of new development over that period to urban areas, while carefully balancing other development with the obligation to protect resources like the Skykomish.

Let us be clear: the dangers to the "clear, clean water and the salmon, steelhead, and char that swim in it" are invented. Current law and practice and the proposed plans all protect these things. This American Rivers campaign is not about protecting the environment, it is about preventing new development. slashdot.org

Driver License Number

| | Comments (0)
In Washington, all you need to know to figure out someone's driver's license number is their full name and date of birth. This site correctly told me what my license number would be, before it was even issued to me.

You think the identity thieves know about this? Calculators for several other states are included there, too.

Stupid DOL. use.perl.org

Valid, Strict, HTML

| | Comments (0)
I've installed on use.perl.org the code that turns your comments and journals into valid HTML 4.01 strict. The surrounding HTML is not, but the comments and journals themselves are.

Or should be.

If you notice any big problems, let me know. I had some issues with character references, but a sampling of TorgoX's journal entries with Unicode in them showed that I appear to have gotten those fixed.

I had most of the problems recently with URL handling, mostly because I was not concentrating on those but the tags themselves, and some errors crept in. Those should be ironed out too.

Probably next week I'll begin converting old comments, sigs, user bios, etc. to valid HTML. Maybe even stories. Journals don't have to be converted, as they are rendered on display from the originally saved HTML. use.perl.org

Tiger and FireWire

| | Comments (0)
Three Mac models exist with USB, and no FireWire. These computers are supported by Mac OS X 10.3, but not 10.4. And I have them all: the original iMac, the original iBook, and the PowerBook G3 with a bronze keyboard and SCSI.

A later PowerBook G3/bronze keyboard was almost identical, but had FireWire and internal AirPort slot. There were a few different slight revisions of the iBook (I have the SE) and the iMac (Rev. B, which I have, and the "life savers" colored iMacs) model without FireWire.

Anyway, Apple screwed me here pretty good, if I cared about installing Tiger on these computers. use.perl.org

Tom DeLay

| | Comments (0)
I don't really care about Tom DeLay. But the recent NY Times piece about his family members getting paid by his campaign and PACs really boiled my blood.

The story was completely irrelevant and had no business ever being published. The story was trying to show that DeLay did something wrong by paying family members to work for his campaign and PACs. But there is nothing remotely wrong with it, in any way. It is not illegal, unethical, or immoral. It is perfectly acceptable.

It was a hatchet job, intended specifically to make DeLay look bad without actually showing him doing anything wrong. And it's a great example of why so many people don't trust or like the media. The Times could go a long way toward improving its image by disavowing the story and firing the reporter who wrote it. slashdot.org

Be Discrete

| | Comments (0)
In the Lion King special edition DVD, in the audio set up menu, it has some text talking about "discreet 5.1 audio."

Maybe that's for systems in soundproof rooms? use.perl.org

Re: Quil Ceda City

| | Comments (0)

To Forgive

| | Comments (0)
I am not Catholic and don't have much to think or say about the Pope. But one of my favorite songs from the 80s is by the incomparable Steve Taylor, written on the occasion of the Pope's visiting in prison the man who tried to kill him.

The first verse went:

I saw a man
He was holding the hand
That had fired a gun at his heart
Oh, will we live
To forgive?

I saw the eyes
And the look of surprise
As he left an indelible mark
Oh, will we live
To forgive?
And that's how I am going to remember John Paul II. use.perl.org

Federalist No. 5

| | Comments (0)
Jay continues, again, on his theme that Union offers greater security.

He starts off by entering more detail on the comparison of the Union to the union between Scotland and England, quoting Queen Anne. He adds, "We may profit by their experience without paying the price which it cost them." While their interests kept them unified, their differences kept them in conflict with each other, and "Should the people of America divide themselves into three or four nations, would not the same thing happen?"

Jay notes that even if you could have three or four confederacies begin on equal footing, they would eventually become unequal, necessarily. Likely, the North would become more powerful, which would make the South ditrust them, and vice versa, which would likely, eventually, lead to war.

Jay looks naive in retrospect, as the United States would end up in a nasty war of its own, in about 80 years. But even back then, the UK was not exactly unified in peace, and the members of the Constitutional Convention were well aware that if they were not careful, jealousies and uneven powers would tear them apart. And even though they came up with the Great Compromise to mitigate the chances of it, they knew it could happen anyway, and it did.

Who knows? Maybe disunion might have prevented war altogether, as we've averted any significant armed conflicts with Canada.

I am on board with Union as a way to protect from exterior threats, but I am not sold on it as a way to prevent interstate conflict, and the Great Compromise is evidence that this is not merely retrospective wisdom.

Come back again for another installment of The Federalist . slashdot.org

Quil Ceda City

| | Comments (0)
Last month, the Washington state House passed HB 1721. Its purported aim is to "simplify" the state and tribal tax jurisdictions, by allowing the Tulalip Tribes to call Quil Ceda Village a city, thus keeping the sales tax revenues as any city would, for the maintenance and improvement of the city.

But Quil Ceda Village is not a city. It has no citizens, no residents. The tax money would not go to provide services for the people who live there, as no people live there. It would go into the pockets of the Tulalip Tribes, depriving the state of over $12 million for the next 6 years, according to the state's own estimates.

The question is: why? It takes money from the taxpayers, and converts it directly into coprorate profit. It's clearly bad for the taxpayers, so its purpose must be to follow a principle that overrides the interest of the taxpayers.

Proponents, such as John McCoy, D-Tulalip, say that the Tribes pay out millions for Quil Ceda Village in infrastructure, security, roads, and other expenses that cities sometimes pay for. But the same is true for many non-tribal properties, too, like the malls at Everett, Alderwood, and Northgate.

Of course, McCoy is not the general manager of those malls. The interests-conflicted McCoy is, however, the general manager of Quil Ceda Village.

McCoy and the Tulalip Tribes say they want to be treated like everyone else. I agree: they should be like everyone else, funding expenses by collecting rent, not taxes. slashdot.org

Assisted Suicide

| | Comments (0)
If it were not possible to die by our own hand -- think Groundhog Day -- would doctor-assisted suicide be legal today?

That is, is one of the primary reasons we disallow it that we think it is unnecessary? We don't like the government doling out this authority to kill, and it is not -- in almost all cases -- necessary, because people can find ways to kill themselves if they wish (they simply prefer not to, for various reasons). But if it were "necessary," would we allow it? slashdot.org
<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2005 is the previous archive.

May 2005 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.