Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Monday November 29, 2004. From The Volokh Conspiracy http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2004_11_28.shtml#1101697243

"Sunday, November 28, 2004
[Orin Kerr, November 28, 2004 at 10:00pm] Possible Trackbacks
George Will on Filibusters:

"From his Newsweek column, brought to my attention via Howard
[ http://www.legalaffairs.org/howappealing/2004_11_01_appellateblog_archive.html#1101696016 ]:

"'The filibuster is an important defense of minority rights, enabling democratic government to measure and respect not merely numbers but also intensity in public controversies. Filibusters enable intense minorities to slow the governmental juggernaut. Conservatives, who do not think government is sufficiently inhibited, should cherish this blocking mechanism. And someone should puncture Republicans' current triumphalism by reminding them that someday they will again be in the minority.'"

But some know that they will never again be in the minority; that conservatives and Republicans (who are, of course, identical) will now rule forever in America. See, for example, the September 27 issue of National Review. It has an article explaining how Bush's impending landslide victory will result in the end of liberalism forever.

And there are conservatives who think the government should have no inhibitions whatsoever. For example, John Ashcroft has explained that courts should never rule against the President. (I haven't yet found evidence that he also said this during the Clinton Administration; but surely he did. For Ashcroft is an honorable man.)

A while ago, someone commented in soc.politics that liberals were obviously fueled by hatred of George W. Bush.

I replied that there are two reasons why I don't hate Bush:
1) I'm not a conservative
2) I'm not a Republican

The same applies to most of the current leaders of American conservatism.
From http://bna.com newsletter:
Philadelphia's plan to offer inexpensive wireless Internet as a municipal service has collided with commercial interests, including local phone company Verizon Communications. Regional and long-distance phone companies have intensified a national campaign to quash municipal wireless initiatives like Philadelphia's as dozens of cities and towns have either begun or announced such plans.

Chicago, IL. November 8, 2004. Arryx, Inc. announced today that it has added an infrared (IR) product to its line of BioRyx(R) 200 optical trapping systems.....One of the initial applications of their technology is going to be the sorting of bull sperm to select cow gender in order to reduce the number of less valuable male cows (only females can make milk)....Cow semen sorting by sex chromosome will be available in 2005....For information and background on the scientific and technical work that led to the implementation of laser tweezers, feel free to browse Dr. David G. Grier's Web site: http://physics.nyu.edu/grierlab/.

Eventually much easier and lower cost pre-conception sex selection technologies will be available for human use. As it stands now cheap ultrasound technology and selective abortion are already causing large excesses in male births in Taiwan, China, and India. Imagine what will happen worldwide as costs and risks of sex selection drop.

My comments: Science fiction which looks at this includes: James Blish, "This Earth of Hours". Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign.

I don't think it will make much difference in India, where the number of adult women has long been held down by treating boys better than girls.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Saturday November 27, 2004. In the 1950's, English science fiction writers presented a future in which England was still a world power, and had become a major power in space.

By the 1950's, England was no longer a major power. And the signs of this were obvious.

(Note that I said "England" rather than "United Kingdom." The other parts of the UK weren't considered important.)

Today, some of the Russian Federation's policies make sense only if the government is run by people who think Russia is still a superpower. It hasn't been since the Soviet Union fell apart; and the evidence is that it never will be again. Russia is not going to be a superpower; it's not going to be a world power; it quite likely will not be a major power in Europe. And it might not hold on to the rest of the Russian Federation.

Today, many people -- inside and outside the US -- take it for granted that the US is the last superpower standing and will remain a superpower well into the future.

I suspect that being a superpower requires at least one opposing superpower. But even if so, the US is a major world power -- in some ways, the major power.

I wonder how much longer that will be true. And how much time will pass between that and the time when Americans realize we no longer live in the world's strongest country.

By some standards, we aren't now. For example, we're probably second in space to the European Space Agency.
Covering events in Ukraine: http://fistfulofeuros.net. Digest of blogs commenting on the situation there: http://kinja.com/user/Ukraineblogs

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All comments assumed to be for publication, unless I'm told otherwise.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Monday November 22, 2004. Fifty years ago in the US: Southerners in Congress supported white supremacy -- no matter how liberal they might otherwise be.

Homosexuality was a disease -- that was established scientific truth, and it was also the liberal position.

Advice columnists for teen-girl magazines said firmly that girls should hold on to their virginity before marriage. Now, they say it's a personal decision.

There were no openly-gay men in Congress. Now there are two -- and one is a conservative Republican (Jim Kolbe of Arizona).

Related: From Sightings -- newsletter from http://marty-center.uchicago.edu/

....owners of the Family Christian Bookstore (FCB), a chain of 326 stores, recently decided to open on Sundays, causing their store managers to regularly miss church.

How does FCB legitimate this choice to violate the Commandment? FCB’s CEO Dan Browne called it a “ministry decision." Reminded that Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A keep the Sabbath on good evangelical grounds, Browne responded “No one’s going to go to hell for not eating a chicken sandwich,” implying that not being able to buy a religious book on Sunday might mean going to hell. The Berean Christian Stores chain is also now open on Sunday. Its VP, Greg Moore, gave his “higher critical” defense: “There is more value in saving a lost soul than adhering to an Old Testament custom that later became a commandment."

Is there any outrage against this latest assault on God’s Law? Pollsters found that 80 percent of FCB constituents shop on Sunday. Jamie Dean checked inventories of the FCB stores for books “specifically about the Sabbath,” a topic regularly addressed by Catholic and mainstream Protestant spiritual literature. How many titles did he find? “Zero."

Is this how values and morals change: when enough people engage in a new practice, the fight over the divine origin of “custom” or “Commandment” slips from view? Surveys show that something like this also happens on conservative Protestant fronts. Thus, calling divorce a sin and preaching against it, as evangelicals once did -- now it is a "tragedy" that is ministered to in “pastoral care” -- and, increasingly, preaching against gambling is largely off the evangelical screen. Birth control was preached and editorialized against decades ago, and the "born-again" now take it for granted.

What’s next? Women identifying themselves as Protestant obtain 37.4 percent of abortions in the U.S. Catholic women? 31.3 percent, slightly above the general public average. Jewish women? 1.3 percent. As of now, nearly one-fifth of all abortions are performed on women who identify themselves as born-again/evangelical.

If the "born again" number grows, will anti-abortion continue to hold the place it now does on the “values and morals” front? Or will it too fade?
Investigative bloggers are taking on Tom DeLay. Following Joshua Micah Marshall's lead in trying to figure out just which legislators voted for the DeLay Rule, David Donnelly has created The Daily DeLay, a weblog for tracking just who voted for the rule, and who opposed it. (The DeLay Rule is a rule change by House Republicans that will allow a legislator indicted by state prosecutors to remain in a leadership post, passed because Majority Leader Tom DeLay may face prosecution in Texas.) This is another case where bloggers won't let a story die: in addition to the Daily DeLay, Technorati shows a number of bloggers that have linked to the CNN version of the story, as well as 3544 entries that mention the DeLay Rule. (I suppose that'll be 3545 after I post this...) (Thanks and a tip o' the SmartMobs hat to Micah!)
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 22-Nov-2004
Examination of possible conflicts of interest to influence look at suspected adverse drug reactions
A review of the published literature and of internal company documents from the manufacturer of cerivastatin, a cholesterol lowering drug removed from the market in 2001, suggests that information about serious adverse effects of this medication was known to the company within months after this drug was launched, and that company analyses showing substantially increased risk of rhabdomyolysis were apparently not published or disseminated to physicians and patients.
The Tipsheet for November 19, 2004; from http://thehill.com:

New favorite
Simon Rosenberg, who currently heads the New Democrat Network, is becoming the favorite to become the next chairman of the DNC. But the former Clintonite also has a strong following among “outside” Democrats—activists who came to the party via former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and other Internet voters who read the blogs. Rosenberg’s straight talk about what the party needs to do has been remarkably consistent and his 527’s effort to win Hispanic voters was more successful than expected. Also in his favor: He’s a tireless fundraiser.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Sunday November 21, 2004. Today's Star Tribune has a column by Dick Day, minority leader of the Minnesota Senate:

"....the one hangover I worry about is the loss of good leaders in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

"Recently, we've learned a lot about what it takes to topple 12 public servants. It seems DFL[1] House Leader Matt Entenza wooed the public with intoxicating amounts of 527 money and plenty of negative campaign attacks.

"In the end, the voters probably did what they thought was right -- after being bombarded with negative direct mail and advertising against Republican House members, how else could they vote?


"The common thread that binds these 12 representatives is integrity. They can go home with the knowledge that they took the tough votes, solved a massive state budget deficit and stayed true to their values."

Tsk -- I forgot to mention which party Mr. Day belongs to. Anyone have trouble guessing?

I don't believe him. Legislators whose integrity is unblemished aren't well-liked by party leaders.
They have the nasty habit of voting the wrong way, every now and then -- without the excuse that doing otherwise would cost them needed support from contributors and voters.

I also don't believe the Minnesota Republican Party is composed of angels who would never stoop to negative campaigning. Nor do I think he honestly believes that.

[1] In Minnesota, the Democratic Party is officially the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. There was a merger between the Democratic and Farmer-Labor parties. If there's still any trace of the Farmer-Labor component, I haven't been able to detect it.
News You Might Not Have Seen

Sunday, 21 November, 2004, 01:53 GMT
Anti-terror laws 'may go further'
The home secretary is to spell out proposals for more far-reaching measures to tackle terrorism, amid fears of an al-Qaeda attack on Britain.

David Blunkett will unveil the ideas on ITV1's Jonathan Dimbleby programme.

Proposals include special anti-terror courts without juries and civil orders which could be used against people suspected of planning terrorism.
Via http://politicalwire.com:
ANTIGUA, Guatemala (Reuters) - A U.S. congressman married the daughter of Guatemala's most notorious former dictator on Saturday in a controversial wedding that took place in a high-walled compound ringed with razor wire.

Illinois Rep. Jerry Weller tied the knot with Guatemalan lawmaker Zury Rios Sosa in the compound, just off a dusty road between a building site and a volcano near Guatemala's colonial capital Antigua.

The couple, who met while Weller was on a visit to Guatemala, married in a civil ceremony attended by Guatemalan military, politicians and the U.S. ambassador to the Central American nation, John Hamilton.

Weller was re-elected in November despite questions from his opponent about his choice of fiancee and a possible conflict of interest with some of his government posts.

He serves on the U.S. House of Representatives sub-committee for Western Hemisphere Affairs that sometimes sees legislation concerning Guatemala.

"At the very least he should resign from the committee, it's a potentially compromising relationship, in terms of his foreign affairs activity," said Patricia Davis, of the Washington based rights group, the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission.

Rios Sosa's father Efrain Rios Montt took power in a 1982 coup at the peak of Guatemala's 36-year civil war, which pitted the army against leftist insurgents.

She is a high ranking member of her father's Guatemalan Republican Front party, which held the presidency between 2000-2004, and is seen as a possible future presidential candidate herself.

The retired general's de facto presidency is remembered for his weekly sermons broadcast live on television and for a "scorched earth" campaign that killed thousands of mostly civilian Mayan Indians.

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All comments assumed to be for publication, unless I'm told otherwise.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Saturday November 20, 2004. Just because everyone knows it doesn't mean it's true. For example, that American urbanites voted for John Kerry and ruralites voted for George Bush.

Not where I grew up. Ulster County, NY is mostly-rural, and votes Democratic. It used to be reliably Republican; but it hasn't been for several decades.

Farther south in NYState: Roughly speaking, New York City votes Democratic and the suburbs vote Republican. But that's very roughly speaking: Some suburbs vote Democratic, some parts of the city vote Republican. And the city now has its second Republican mayor in a row.

I would be greatly surprised to learn that this is the only anomaly; that everywhere else in the US, city folk and country people voted the way they were supposed to.
Stirring the Pot
By Susan Q. Stranaha

Journalists are about to embark on an uncommon task in American politics: covering a president's second term. As Ronald Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times wrote recently, only eleven presidents have won a second term since the formation of the modern political party system in 1828.

Bill Clinton did it; so did Ronald Reagan. Now, as George W. Bush outlines his agenda and shuffles his cabinet in advance of Inauguration Day, it seems a good time to ask this question: Will the media, which belatedly conceded that they failed to adequately scrutinize Bush's rationale for the Iraq war in his first term, take off the gloves in the next four years?

"History doesn't give us much evidence of that," says author Mark Hertsgaard. "Look at the Reagan era. The media certainly didn't get tougher in his second term."....
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/econnews.php:
Public Release: 19-Nov-2004
'Fatally flawed' legal analysis will not stand
Legal scholars advising the Alliance for Taxpayer Access quickly dismissed the faulty analysis made by the American Physiological Society's outside counsel suggesting the National Institutes of Health's public access plan will infringe copyright claims of grantees and publishers. [The claims were included in the APS comments filed with the NIH this week.]
Association of Libraries

Friday, November 19, 2004

Friday November 19, 2004. I've been expecting the US health industry to begin having interesting times. This might be the start of that:

A veteran Food and Drug Administration safety officer said yesterday at a Senate hearing on the abrupt recall of the arthritis drug Vioxx that five other widely used drugs should either be withdrawn or sharply restricted because they have dangerous side effects.

Describing the agency he works for as incapable of stopping dangerous drugs from entering and staying on the market, David J. Graham, associate director of the Office of Drug Safety, told the senators that the FDA's role in reviewing and approving new drugs sometimes conflicts with its duty to address safety issues.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A61157-2004Nov18.html (free subscription, or go via http://bugmenot.com )
From the Volokh Conspiracy http://volokh.com:
[Orin Kerr, November 17, 2004 at 3:07pm]
New Blog Following State Attorneys General:

Available here http://tierney.blogware.com/, hosted by James Tierney of the Columbia Law School program on state Attorneys General. Thanks to Susan Crawford for the link.
From EurekAlert http://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php:
Public Release: 18-Nov-2004
Major-party candidates wield the Web, with many challengers still offline
Third-party political challengers aren't using the Web as widely as expected, researchers find.

Public Release: 19-Nov-2004
New sampling method to track HIV-risk behavior
An innovative sampling method, respondent-driven sampling (RDS), developed by Cornell University sociologist Douglas Heckathorn, has been adopted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for recruiting and measuring HIV risk behaviors among injecting drug users in the 25 cities with the largest number of new AIDS cases.

Public Release: 19-Nov-2004
Space sentinels track desertification on Mediterranean shores
The severe droughts and forest fires of recent years underline Mediterranean Europe's continuing vulnerability to desertification – 300 000 square kilometres of territory are currently affected, threatening the livelihoods of 16.5 million Europeans. A new satellite-based service is set to provide a continuous monitoring of regions most at risk.

Public Release: 19-Nov-2004
Space sentinels track desertification on Mediterranean shores
The severe droughts and forest fires of recent years underline Mediterranean Europe's continuing vulnerability to desertification – 300 000 square kilometres of territory are currently affected, threatening the livelihoods of 16.5 million Europeans. A new satellite-based service is set to provide a continuous monitoring of regions most at risk.
From http://www.eurekalert.org/econnews.php
Public Release: 19-Nov-2004
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Chernobyl disaster caused cancer cases in Sweden
Chernobyl disaster caused cancer cases in Sweden Study of development of cancer in seven Swedish counties establishes connection A statistically determined correlation between radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl accident and an increase in the number of cases of cancer in the exposed areas in Sweden is reported in a study by scientists at Linköping University, Örebro University, and the County Council of Västernorrland County.

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