Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Nuclear Option?

More proof that the Republicans don't know how to fight.

At the moment the Democrat's strategy of filibustering Bush's judicial nominations in committee became clear, the Republicans should have voted to change the rules on cloture.

They are asking for permission, not forgiveness. The Democrats certainly didn't wait for permission prior to breaking 200 years of tradition.

By waiting and negotiating they have allowed the Democrats and the media to hype any rules change as akin to burning the Constitution. Had they simply taken care of business that first week, this episode would have been well off the front pages by now. Changing the rules of the Senate would have been perceived as proportional to the unprecedented maneuvers of the Democrats - plus they would have confirmed Bush's judges.

Instead the Dems and the media have been given the opportunity to paint the majority party, the Republicans as undemocratic, instead of the obstructionist minority Democrats.

Consider the possible sequence today: First, Democrats obstruct Federal judges for the first time in this country's history. The Republicans respond by legally changing the rules. The Democrats respond by shutting down the Senate. And the Republicans get tagged with enacting "The Nuclear Option"?!?!?

Does anybody believe that a party that is willing to break 200 plus years of tradition in the Senate's duty to "advice and consent" would even hesitate to merely change the Senate rules were the situation in reverse and they were the majority?

Republicans not only don't know how to fight, most are not even aware they are in one.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Perfect Storm

I wrote a brief response to my little sister after she sent the below article to my family. In my post below, I neglected to address the issue of global warming due to space. However, I did mention my skepticism to her. This elicited a friendly "I forgot that you are a global warming denier". I let it slide because I didn't care to get into it at that point. However, I am not a denier. My position is that there may be global warming, but I don't trust the science or the scientists on the causes. Since it is ridiculous to claim that our climate should be static over time, it must be assumed that our planet is constantly warming or cooling as it always had, even prior to human existence. That said, the certitude that global warming advocates have in their position is unwarranted in my eyes.

Part of the reason I don't trust the science is because just 30 years ago many scientists were talking about the coming ice age. It even made the cover of Newsweek. From what I can gather, scientists now believe the earth has warmed by a grand total of 1 degree over the past 100 years with most of that increase occurring the early part of the last century.

However, the principle reason I am skeptical is that global warming fits the agenda of too many activist groups. More to the point, the remedies they advocate fit their agenda. It is the perfect storm of left wing concerns. These groups include environmentalists, anti-capitalists, anti-Americans, anti-globalization, alternative energy advocates, anarchists, communists...It is also undeniable that these groups use the issue to obtain research grants from the government or contributions from individuals. Does this cause them to hype the problem in fund raising letters or cloud their research? After reading the Scientific American article below, it is safe to say that skeptics have more difficulty getting published.

There's a reason that the goals of Kyoto are always coached in terms of reduction of pollutants or greenhouse gases - not in actual demonstrable reduction in the earth's temperature. Trillions of dollars spent over decades in exchange for a potential 1 or two degrees decline in surface temperatures a hundred years in the future is not exactly an easy sell.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

April Fools

My little sister sent my family a group email on April Fools Day:

From the April 2005 Issue of Scientific American.

There's no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful letter writers told us to stick to science. They pointed out that science and politics don't mix. They said we should be more balanced in our presentation of such issues as creationism, missile defense and global warming. We resisted their advice and pretended not to be stung by the accusations that the magazine should be renamed Unscientific American, or Scientific Unamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican. But spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning over a new leaf, so there's no better time to say: you were right, and we were wrong.

In retrospect, this magazine's coverage of so called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it.

Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.

Moreover, we shamefully mistreated the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists by lumping them in with creationists. Creationists believe that God designed all life, and that's a somewhat religious idea. But ID theorists think that at unspecified times some unnamed superpowerful entity designed life, or maybe just some species, or maybe just some of the stuff in cells. That's what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it doesn't get bogged down in details.

Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody's ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts. Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do. Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as journalists is to quote them without comment or contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and therefore wrong. In that spirit, we will end the practice of expressing our own views in this space: an editorial page is no place for opinions.

Get ready for a new Scientific American. No more discussions of how science should inform policy. If the government commits blindly to building an anti-ICBM defense system that can't work as promised, that will waste tens of billions of taxpayers' dollars and imperil national security, you won't hear about it from us. If studies suggest that the administration's antipollution measures would actually increase the dangerous particulates that people breathe during the next two decades, that's not our concern. No more discussions of how policies affect science either so what if the budget for the National Science Foundation is slashed? This magazine will be dedicated purely to science, fair and balanced science, and not just the science that scientists say is science. And it will start on April Fools' Day.

Okay, We Give Up


I was pretty astounded by the arrogant tone in the piece. It was also closed-minded, especially for "scientists". They see fit to ridicule those who dare question the prevailing dogma regarding Intelligent Design, global warming and missile defense. Of course, those who dare question them will be charged with "politicizing science" even as their accusers lobby to "inform policy".

Darwinism may explain the minute changes of a finch's beak on an isolated archipelago over time. But does Natural Selection explain the existence of the finch? The islands? Time? Darwin?

Their comments on missile defense are indefensible. Please note the qualifying "as promised".

Those opposed to missile defense used to claim it would "never" work. Now it has to work "as promised", whatever that means. Promised from its inception two decades ago by Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb? Or promised after each successful test?

"As promised" is the sound of the goal posts being moved. It sounds amazing similar to the sound of Scientific American covering their ass.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

European Constitution

Just caught a story that the French government had to destroy 162,000 copies of the European Constitution because someone had inserted the phrase "incoherent text" on one of the pages.

What really caught my eye was the fact that the document is 232 pages.

With all our troubles with an over-reaching judiciary, it makes me wonder what sort of mischief an activist judge can do with 232 pages of materiel.