Saturday, May 21, 2005

Machiavelli Must be Smiling

Kausfiles quotes James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal who gives two very good reasons why Democrats might postpone a fight over the filibuster rule:

If the Democrats gain Senate seats next year--or even before the election, through the death or retirement of a Republican from a state with a Democratic governor--the filibuster may suddenly lose its "nuclear" vulnerability.

Further, some Democrats have been acting against their own political interests by obstructing Bush nominees (cf. Tom Daschle). Freeing them to vote for cloture could help their re-election chances, which would be in the long-term interests of the Democrats.

Kaus speculates that the Republicans could force a rules change vote by voting against cloture. This, it seems to us, however, would be too cynical to be worth doing. If some Republican Senators were to attempt to force a showdown on a rules change vote by causing the cloture vote to fail, they would risk antagonizing the half-dozen or so "moderate" Republican senators. These then might, in a fit of pique, decide to vote with the Democrats to reject the motion to change the rule, and the whole thing would blow up in the Republicans' faces.

Washington politics is Byzantine, but it's probably not that Byzantine.

Our Administration Barks

I find it interesting to watch our present administration as they attempt to blame other countries for problems that are clearly the fault of the current and past administrations.

Specifically, while the administration and congress blusters to China with threats of tariffs if they don't let their currency float against the dollar Dr. Allan Greenspan has this to say.

From the link:

A move by China to revalue its currency "does not follow that that will lower our overall trade balance," Greenspan said. "Indeed, it's probably quite unlikely."

That's because companies are likely to turn to other countries, such as Thailand or Malaysia for goods, rather than U.S. producers. "So essentially what we will find is we're importing from a different area, but we will be importing the same goods," Greenspan said.

As Dr. Greenspan points out, the only thing that will help the US trade deficit is for Americans to buy less imports and more American products. Not very likely, especially given that America doesn't manufacture much of anything anymore.

It is interesting to note that Dr. Greenspan realizes that Americans will buy from any other country rather than from American manufacturers.

As I see it, there are either of two scenarios that are likely to unfold: American jobs and manufacturing will continue to be exported and the trade deficit will continue to grow until foreign countries cut off our credit - Mr. America, your card has been declined, or there simply won't be enough people in this country able to buy anything from anywhere because they have lost their jobs and are broke. In either case, the exportation of jobs and manufacturing will not stop until a state of equilibrium has been attained. I've mentioned this before. It means the average income and standard of living of Americans will decline as the average income and standard of living of their counter-parts in China, Mexico, etc., increases. This process is well under way. Welcome to the New World Order.

Not only are jobs and manufacturing being exported but also the R&D is being outsourced. This means that products will and are being completely developed overseas from concept to finished product and then imported and sold under an American label while the American companies lay off "non-essential" personnel to save costs and boost their stock price. But the day will come when those doing all the work realize they can go direct to the American consumer and the rest of the world as well, and cut out the middle man i.e. the American corporation who bought into the whole idea of outsourcing leaving them with no reason for being. Now that's the definition of justice.

The Demarcation Problem

One of the oft heard criticisms of Intelligent Design theory is that it is putatively non-scientific, i.e. it doesn't meet the criteria of an acceptable scientific hypothesis. Design or creationist theories have been alleged to be necessarily unscientific for a number of reasons: they do not explain by reference to natural law, they invoke unobservables, they are not testable, they do not make predictions, they are not falsifiable, they provide no mechanisms, they are not tentative, and they have no problem-solving capability.

Philosopher of science Stephen Meyer addresses the first three of these alleged short-comings in an article at the Discovery Institute's website. The essay is lengthy and somewhat technical, but it's an excellent analysis of the problem of trying to determine what constitutes science and what does not. In the philosophy of science this is called the Demarcation Problem, and, as many philosophers have noted, trying to find the boundaries of science is often counterproductive and is in any event a devilishly difficult task.

Before concluding that Intelligent Design is not science and Darwinism is, one should read Meyer's article. It would also be good, for the individual of a philosophical/scientific turn of mind, to read Del Ratszch's Science and its Limits and William Dembski's Design Revolution.

And Throw Away the Key!

Here's a switch. The ACLU is actually trying to get the authorities to put lawbreakers into jail. Surprised? Well, the surprise might fade some when you hear that the criminals are not cop-killers or child molestors. No. It turns out that the villainous rogues the ACLU is so concerned about incarcerating are school administrators and teachers who are defying a court imposed ban on school prayer:

NEW ORLEANS - Teachers and administrators in Tangipahoa Parish continue to violate a court-imposed school prayer ban, according to the ACLU, which on May 18 asked a federal judge to send them to jail.

For the fourth time in less than two months, the ACLU has formally notified the judge that school officials are flouting the prayer ban, imposed to settle a lawsuit the civil liberties group filed for a parent in 2003.

This time, the group says, an elementary school teacher in Tangipahoa Parish repeatedly held prayers in her fourth grade class, encouraged students to bring their Bibles to school, held Bible study classes in the cafeteria of D.C. Reeves Elementary School, and admonished students who didn't show up for the class.

In addition, the ACLU cites a prayer it says was recently given at Amite High School, over a loudspeaker, at an awards banquet. The prayer ended with the words "In Jesus' name we pray," violating the ban; the principal of the school sat silently by.

"The consent judgment is repeatedly violated by these individuals because they do not believe anything will happen to them," the ACLU said in the court filing. "Their refusal to comply with the consent decree should and must result in their removal from society."

The ACLU expends vast resources to keep criminals, even felons, out of prison, but strives to bring the hammer down on Christians who choose to practice civil disobedience. Wonderful folks, those lawyers at the ACLU.