Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Two links, both worth reading.
Ezra Klein, on the procedural device that could get rid of the filibuster. The Democrats had better think twice. When the Republicans proposed to do the same in the context of judicial appointments five years ago, I argued against it. What seems like a smart move when you run the place can blow back in a hurry if you lose control.
The other? The best magazine articles ever. A real trip down memory lane.
The first article on your best ever list -- As We May Think -- may seem dated but it's actually quite prescient.
Vannevar Bush was a household name during WWII but has faded from our collective memory. He was our chief scientist during WWII and more than anyone was responsible for our commitment to building the Bomb, and for creating our military-university complex. He had a blind spot on rocketry, which is why we lost a step to the Germans despite the early lead Goddard had spotted us. Like many involved in building the Bomb, he had later regrets. He was unrelated to Poppy or W Bush.
In this July 1945 article Bush puts forth the idea of the memex, which anticipates in many respects the internet-connected personal computer and World Wide Web that we're now all using. He saw the memex as a tool to improve the way we think, so it also anticipates ideas like the semantic web that are still being put forth.
Bush called science the Endless Frontier. He'd have been a Trekkie and would be hanging at Comic-Con, were he still around.
Ezra Klein is on my Public Enemies list, but I'd cut him slack at sentencing for being a juvenile. When it comes to anything involving numbers, he's a child playing with matches.
A big thank you for the Cool Tools link! I've had a great morning here in sunny New York reading 'Pearls Before Breakfast' & 'Federer as Religious Experience'. I have to confess, reading about the Joshua Bell/WaPo experiment makes an analysis of the removal of filibuster procedures seem a litte - er - dry :)
Debates about the filibuster need to distinguish between applying the filibuster to frustrate the legislative process, which is entirely appropriate and precisely what the filibuster was intended to accomplish, and applying the filibuster to frustrate executive appointments, which is entirely inappropriate.
Exercising the constitution option will destroy the Senate, effectively turning the Senate into the House. It will dramatically reduce the power of Senators, which is precisely why it has never been used and never will be used.
Democrats have been far more aggressive in using the filibuster to frustrate executive appointments, particularly of judges. Nothing in the original intent of the Advice and Consent clause necessitates that Advice and Consent of the Senate requires a vote in the affirmative from the full Senate. I would love to see a President bypass the Senate for a judicial nomination.
I would take Ignoramus and extrapolate what Bush might envision. Years ago I witnessed a demo of an online voting session where the actual constituents voted in real time on legislation rather than their elected officials.
Who else reading this can envision a day when the voters actually provided real time, recorded feedback to their representatives in terms of yes/no, for each legislative vote. Not just emails, but every voter validated by a unique passcode and voting electronically to show their intent on legislation then tracking how that representative voted. That is the only path I see past the Byzantine rules Congress has set up to obfuscate the interests of the voting public. (The filibuster being but one tactic.) A rep who ignored his constituents would be shown up for the paid out lackey he was, point by point, vote by vote, with their recorded vote versus constituent intent reporting tallies on each member of Congress and all.
We have the technology.