Here's yet another plan to hamper the Senate's advise and consent role for judicial candidates: limit the time allowed to vet the prospective judges. Senate historian Baker: ""The framers of the Constitution expected the Senate to slow things down, and that has annoyed a lot of presidents over two centuries." The administration really does seem to think a monarchy would be a great idea; when Bush made that crack a while back it was taken as a joke, but I'm beginning to think he meant it.
The Post has been running what it calls "an occasional series" examining present-day American politics; "Breaking the Deadlock" is part 3 (links to the two previous articles are contained within). If you have the time and inclination, it's an interesting study.
In football they call it the "prevent" defense, often derided as preventing nothing but victory. That's what I'd call the Democratic election strategy this midterm, and there is at least one reporter at the NYT who agrees with me. Grrr. Of course, it's a little hard to compete with Air Force One. In other large mechanical object news, the Brits are looking for a lost tank. Those weekend winds were really something, huh?
If you're old enough, you may remember all the management books touting Japan as the growing economic entity of the new century, and as an implicit threat to the US. Well, we've all seen that that didn't happen, but here's an interesting op/ed which makes the case for a Japanese threat to the US economy if it reforms, in part because of all the dollar-denominated savings their companies, banks and individuals hold.
Here's a lovely tribute to Paul Wellstone from David Broder, one of the nation's most experienced political observers. C-SPAN is showing the public memorial at the moment; it's a Who's Who of the Democrats (I will not make any wisecracking conspiracy theories about what the administration could do if it were so minded, mostly because I don't think they're that evil).
Wow. As Buck and McCarver said yesterday during that incredible win by the Angels, "we thought we'd seen it all last year, but..." Even my less-than-fanatic sports fan mother was caught up in the excitement. Now I really wish I'd had tickets to the game. Here are some links to various hometown newspapers for game stories: The LA Times, the Orange County Register, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Game Six of the Series often seems to present these amazing events to the unwary; here's Tom Boswell of the Washington Post.
How the hell am I supposed to prepare dinner while Game Seven is going on?
"...never before has the bottom line swung by $286 billion in a single year." Yessiree bob, we need more members of the President's party in Congress, so his agenda can move forward without those pesky obstructionist Democrats. And what an agenda it is: judges, guns, and permanent tax cuts. But that's all a good thing, isn't it? Well, suppose Congress was all-Republican; I suspect this problem with falling Medicare fees to doctors would go unrepaired (tax cuts for the highest-income folks are more important than caring for Medicare users, judging from past rhetoric by the administration).
Ok, this one's not my diatribe; it comes from someone at the SF Chronicle who's obviously infuriated with what he deems inappropriate usage of governmental web sites. He seems to be particularly exercised about the SF County Board of Supes, and a recent edict from someone in the Governor's office to have a photo of Gray Davis on every single page of state agency sites. I can see why this would appear to be a tad self-serving.
Speaking of self-serving, I have no reason to believe that my local clinic is in league with the company that runs its parking structure, but when the pharmacy loses my prescription within an hour of my calling to find out if it's ready, meaning that they have to re-do the thing, all the while wasting 25 minutes of the 1/2 hour parking grace period, thus causing me to pay $3.00, what should I think?
Here's a link to Senator Wellstone's hometown newspaper; as you can imagine, the entire front page is devoted to the plane crash and Wellstone's career. I admired the man as one who almost singlehandedly reminded his colleagues that principle was important, something they'd do well to remember but probably won't.
From the party that has been happy to have Strom Thurmond represent it in the Senate at his advanced age, using Frank Lautenberg's age as a negative in the NJ Senate race is pretty rich; one more example of expediency triumphing over fact and logic, never political consultants' strong points anyway (remember Lee Atwater?).
Non-prescription decorative contact lenses present potential health problems, the FDA says. As one who once wore contact lenses, overdid their usage early on and suffered some severe but short-term corneal abrasions, I can attest to the possible problems. Kids, do not get these without prescriptions!
The road to privacy hell is paved with good intentions, it appears. In his rage against child pornography, Mr. Bush wants to monitor chat rooms at an even greater funding level than already done. Call me paranoid, but I can see Ashcroft licking his lips at the prospect of monitoring dissent as well as naughty sites.
I wish I had some of these for Game Six at Edison Field in Anaheim.
We moved to Westwood (home of UCLA) when I was nine years old. The Dodgers had moved to LA from Brooklyn only two years earlier, and their 1959 team went to the World Series. The sports pages were crazy about their new team, and so was I. I still remember the portable radio I carried around the house, listening to every minute of the broadcasts on KFI with Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett. I used to make scoresheets in spiral notebooks, and I'd religiously keep track of all the hits, runs, errors and outs. I was hooked, and I have been ever since. Someday I'll make it to a World Series game.
Well now. Granted that all Presidents spin their statements to put the best light possible on circumstances, Mr. Bush seems to have done more than his share, and about policy, not personal peccadilloes. And have you heard the one about the mis-addressed E-mail? I can't decide whether these people are stupid, nasty, or both. Then there's the apparent packing of advisory committees at HHS with people whose primary qualifications seem to be ideological purity rather than scientific knowledge.
Enough. I'm off to watch the game.
Just as Tucson has a graveyard of old airplanes, so the University of North Texas has the CyberCemetery, a repository of defunct Federal agencies' websites. One of those agencies is the Office of Technology Assessment, which surprises me; I'd have thought there would still be a need for that, but apparently some budget hawks managed to kill it. I suspect, though, that its function remains, folded into some other agency.
If you ever wondered what the point of the Sunday talk shows was, here's an explanation. As you might expect, there are several different agendas being served: spin for the White House, and, for the networks, "...the programs not only keep the news machine going on a slow day, but also generate handsome profits because of their low costs".
I just realized I've been doing this for a year and a week...started Oct. 15, 2001 at LiveJournal (thanks to Batty for the key over there), moved to Geocities, then to Lee's first site as a subdomain, and now to this one. Has it really been a year? Huh.
Hey! Common sense has emerged in the Internet radio royalties argument! The outfit that collects the royalties says "pay us $500 in good faith," and let's let Congress fix the problem when they get back. Now, expecting Congress to "fix" the problem may be a tad over-optimistic, but nonetheless...
You know how sports teams sometimes take a remark made by an opponent and tack it up on the locker room bulletin board? Well, some idiot at The Heritage Foundation just made one which should go into every Democratic Party HQ across this country. "'It's the domestic equivalent of planning for postwar Iraq,' Franc said." It came while discussing the possibility of the Republicans taking over both houses of Congress in November's elections. Not exactly in rebuttal, but a counter-argument just the same, comes this satire from Ted Rall, a cartoonist/columnist. It's a purported speech to the UN from the Iranian delegate, calling for regime change in the US. It calls Bush's 2000 assumption of power a "coup d'état", and names Al Gore as "President-in-Exile." Funny stuff.
DON'T know why I'm surprised at any evidence of this administration's ability to talk out of both sides of its mouth, but...here we go again. As the story says, "with great fanfare" Bush signed the corporate reform legislation, but his budget request for the SEC doesn't even come close to what was recommended in that bill, and it's apparently a conscious political decision that corporate reform has been overshadowed by Iraq, so who'll notice? Then there's North Korea; the prevailing view among Democrats on Capitol Hill is that the news about its nuclear behavior was deliberately withheld until after the Iraq vote. Interestingly, the neo-con Project for the New American Century (see above) is now demanding regime change in North Korea, too.
The World Serious, a remark attributed to Yogi Berra, begins today. For those non-Californians out there, you should know that there has always been a rivalry between Northern and Southern California, and it's occasionally gotten a tad nasty. However, it's nearly always been between San Francisco and LA; there's been no such animosity between Anaheim and the northerners. There are some attempts to foment one now ("Our weirdos are way more overt", says a café owner in North Beach), but don't believe it. Just relax and enjoy the games. I know I will; I was an attendee at one or two of the Angels' games in their first season, back at old Wrigley Field in LA.
All you folks who haunt the music/video stores may know this, but long-form music videos on DVDs are new to me. The list of performers releasing them is certainly eclectic. On the darker side of entertainment, your favorite Internet radio station may go dark as of Sunday; the bill to block the Library of Congress royalty schedules from going into effect has died, at least for the moment.
Teenage angst has gone agoraphobic in Japan, if this story is to be believed. Over one million teenage boys have become hermits in their own homes in the past few years. I remember being pretty reclusive when I was 15-16 (Mom calls it The Great Silence), but certainly nothing like this. I lived in that country for two years, but I never really understood the people, and reading this makes me think I never will.
I suppose if one has a 30-year-old water heater, one should expect it to die, but still...early estimate for replacement and installation: $1,100.
"Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of..." the Royal Society of Chemistry? Yup. The great detective is being awarded an Honorary Fellowship. About damned time, too. I still have my copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, given to me for my 14th birthday. It's kind of fun to look at the frontispiece, inscribed in my father's hand. (Note: I'm still writing about this, even though Batty beat me to it yesterday). The book is showing its age, but then so is its owner, so I guess that's fair enough.
Now here's a thought which pertains to blogging as well as newspaper columnizing: "The problem with writing a newspaper column is that you are forced to be wise and provocative on deadline, whether or not you feel wise and provocative at that moment." I grant you, the story has to do with the NJ Senate race, but it seems like an apt expression for bloggers as well.
I am newly crowned! I probably should have looked at this page before I had the thing put on, but... the type I have is down there on page 6, porcelain fused to metal. No numbing, shots or gas required during installation of the permanent cap, which I thought was interesting. It took all of twenty minutes in the chair, too.
Did you know there are an estimated five million trees in New York City? That's pretty startling, at least to me; my image of the city is skyscrapers and brownstones, along with Central Park, of course. Another startling idea: use box-office receipts to back bonds? If I were a corporate debt-buyer, that form of collateral might seem iffy, but what do I know? According to the article, it was a fairly common practice in the '80s and early '90s.
"Congress should make it easier to identify ammunition and the weapons of individual destruction that fire it. Gun registration's time has come." I never thought I'd see the day William Safire would break ranks with the conservative gun rights folks. Bush, however, doesn't seem to agree, even with his own ATF reports. Concerning the gun "fingerprinting" issue, I nominate Ari Fleischer's remark "...the real issue is values" for most inane administration response to a reporter's question so far this week.
Speaking of breaking ranks, there's apparently quite a row going on at the Pentagon between that charming Mr. Rumsfeld and the uniformed members, the Army in particular.
Here's an example of unintended consequences: Senators are not allowed to update their websites within 60 days of an election, lest they electioneer on the sites. The House has no such restriction. Some of the more web-savvy Senators are objecting, as you might imagine.
I'm not a conspiracy theorist (I'm not, I'm not!), but "For the dozen former Starr underlings with high-level jobs in or appointments by the Bush administration..." this might explain a lot about the administration's view of civil liberties. As in, the only ones who must disclose information are Democrats; all Republicans are exempt, particularly if they're president.
From Sunday's WashPost Outlook section comes a dissection of why administration opponents couldn't get much traction in the Iraq debate: fear. The author's argument is that the President's hole card is September 11, and he uses it very skillfully whenever challenged.
As mentioned Friday, the House Republicans blocked an inquiry to investigate September 11, apparently at White House behest. Here's a follow-up. One does wonder if it is trying to hide something beyond general ineptitude, or does it just not want distractions while campaigning to take over Iraq? MacArthur "regency", for heaven's sake. The hubris is appalling.
Have a laugh. A sarcastic laugh, maybe, but still...
In yesterday's comments I mentioned that the administration appears to be putting ideology ahead of scientific experience in its FDA appointments; that's not just my opinion.
More examples of administration obstructionism: now it seemingly objects to the makeup of an independent panel designed to investigate September 11. It also apparently wants to sandbag corporate reforms, apparently with the blessing of one of the Senate bill's co-authors. The Harvard information Krugman cites first came to light earlier this week.
Here are two thumbnail sketches of the copyright issue argued yesterday before the Supreme Court. The argument made by the plaintiffs (the good guys, in my view) is that if the law stands, it sets a precedent which would allow Congress to extend and keep extending copyright protection for creative works in perpetuity. One of the plaintiffs, as explained on the News Hour last night, is a choir director looking forward to being able to acquire sheet music (on which copyright was due to expire) free on the 'Net which she couldn't otherwise afford for her singers; this was precluded by the 1998 Copyright Extension Act. (As an aside, that act is formally named for the late Rep. Sonny Bono; do you want his estate to receive royalties for "I Got You Babe" through 2070?)
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is a research outfit with which counsel for the plaintiffs is affiliated; they have many 'Net research programs ongoing.
"He says he prefers not to prescribe contraceptives to single women, but will if they insist and reject his advice to abstain." Hmmm. Is that a desirable approach for the chairman of the FDA's women's health policy committee? The last time I insisted on a specific treatment from a doctor was, umm, never. In other women's health news, "The U.S. abortion rate dropped significantly during the second half of the 1990s...for women below the poverty line, the abortion rate rose 25 percent." As with all surveys, explanations vary depending on one's agenda.
Those of us who suffer from (or just worry about) carpal tunnel syndrome, go beach! Even better, it comes from Hawai'i! On a completely separate topic, the other day I mentioned the copyright case heading for the Supreme Court. Go here for a play-by-play of the arguments and some observations so far.
Opening today at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, MD: Dream Anatomy. From the Library's collections, it's a gallery of artistic depictions of the human body in "fantastic settings, bizarre juxtapositions, antic poses, intense colors, and fanciful metaphors" from the 1500s forward.
F YOU'RE wondering just what is behind the GAO suit to get Cheney's energy policy documents, and what's behind the workers' rights argument in the Homeland Security department, here's one answer: it's an attempted power grab by the executive branch. The GAO argument comes down to an attempt by the administration to eliminate the legislative branch's right to sue the executive for information. It would enable the executive branch to act with virtually no oversight from Congress, if the article's author is interpreting it correctly. So it is quite a serious issue buried under dusty language.
Now that we've reached the League Championship Series stage, we Hawai'i viewers are forced to hide from all sports news tickers every afternoon; our local television stations (be it Fox, ABC or NBC) all delay games until evenings, thinking that the majority of their viewers would prefer to see the games in their entirety, rather than just hear the results on the evening news. I have mixed feelings about this policy; on the one hand, for the average day-worker, it's a good thing, but for the work-from-home type like me, it doesn't much matter. The same thing happens with Monday Night Football. Weird, yeah?
IRST Monday in October: here's a preview of what SCOTUS will take up beginning today. There are cases stemming from the Patriot Act and the "enemy combatant" designation slowly moving up the chain towards the Supremes, as well as a copyright extension case.
Could classical music be a smoking gun behind pop music hits? That's the claim from some guy I've never heard of.
The IgNobel prizes have been handed out; you'll be glad to know that there's now a mathematical technique for estimating the surface area of an elephant's skin. On the other hand, the MacArthur Fellows were named recently as well. I was not a recipient of either prize, to my vast regret.
Finally, my sympathies and condolences go out to Lee, whose mother passed away over the weekend. Losing a parent is devastating, no matter whether rationally expected or not, as I am all too well aware. Good thoughts and wishes to you, ma'am.
Today is the 45th anniversary of the launch of that little item above. Here's a perspective from five years ago. A summary of the National Defense Education Act of 1958 (mentioned by Doris Kearns Goodwin) gives some idea of the government reaction. Notice the loyalty oath.
NPR had a reminiscence from Walter Cronkite today on All Things Considered; it was interesting to hear his viewpoint, complete with contemporaneous clips.
Drug profiteers at the wholesale level have apparently diverted HIV drugs from African destinations to Europe. That may be the most appalling case of greed I've heard of, even in a summer of hearing about corporate theft.
This is one of the better arguments for funding AMTRAK and letting the airlines go hang for more federal money/bailouts. In other transportation-related news, here's a pretty good overview of the impact dock strikes have on island communities (specifically Hawai'i).
Here's a new meaning for the term "player piano." In this instance it's one that is reputed to have been thrown into a pond by no less a personage than Babe Ruth, and it is being given iconic status (sort of) by Boston Red Sox fans. More music: if you bought a CD between 1995-2000, you may be eligible for a refund; a price-fixing case has been settled. Don't count the money too quickly, though; there's absolutely no idea of how to compensate the consumer.
Here are some tips on how to sell the useless-to-you on E-Bay.
If you've got an interest in what's happening with the world of domain names, you could do worse than bookmark this page; it tries to keep informed about all things ICANN and domain.
Oops! That report about blond genes disappearing? Well, it was supposedly based on a WHO report, but WHO says it's never issued such a report. Reporters, check your sources!
Milosevic's war crimes trial continues; yesterday's events were unprecedented, apparently. It's the first time a sitting chief of state has testified at a tribunal of this sort, and it's very well described in this brief article.
Since it's playoff time, here's a profile of Roger Angell, one of the best baseball writers of the last 50 years. He's been with the New Yorker seemingly forever, serving mostly as chief fiction editor. Here's a bibliography. He started writing baseball articles for the magazine in 1962, and I've read most of them (shockingly, there's a book in that list I don't own, so I'm off to the library).
And if you're wondering who I'm rooting for, don't ask; I only know who I'm rooting against!