Category ►►► Enviro-Mental Cases

August 8, 2013

Look! The Sun! Look At the Sun!

Enviro-Mental Cases
Hatched by Dafydd

Magnetic Field of Sun to Flip

Women, minorities hardest hit

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 8, 2013, at the time of 2:12 AM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2013

California Screaming

Enviro-Mental Cases
Hatched by Sachi

Few people realize how California's San Joaquin Valley (a.k.a. the "great central valley"), which used to be the breadbasket of the Golden State, has been devastated by one of the most inhuman federal rulings in the nation's history: In 2007, the aptly named Judge Oliver Wanger ruled that in order to protect the tiny Delta smelt, the California Aqueduct must be virtually shut down, causing severe water shortages throughout the southern two-thirds of the state... and especially ravaging the central-valley farmlands. It was a classic case of putting "pristine nature" ahead of mere human beings, with jobs and lives and families to support.

Only a tiny fraction of previously contracted water has been allowed to flow down from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta into inland and Southern California. The judicially induced drought resulted in massive agricultural failure, which in turn produced sky-high umemployment, as much as 30% in some districts of the San Joaquin Valley.

Alas, there was nothing those south of Sacramento, the state's capital, could do; for voters had seen fit to install a veto-proof Democratic majority. But following last Tuesday's special election in the 16th state Senate District, an electoral earthquake may be at hand.

It's the first hint of a swing away from liberal monopoly (and eco-insanity), back towards the pluralism that had generally blessed California until the new millennium. For as the Wall Street Journal and other organs have reported, Republican Andy Vidak appears poised to defeat Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez for state senator.

This is a very big deal, and Democrats are starting to panic. The special election was caused by Democrat state Sen. Michael Rubio's unexpected resignation to take a high-paying job lobbying for Chevron. Despite his political party, Rubio has consistently advocated jobs for his constituency, hard hit by the environmentalist nightmare, over the liberal dream of an $80 to $100 billion high-speed railway running through California. (Do liberals expect it to take the place of air travel?)

Retread Gov. Jerry Brown touts the "railway to nowhere" as the savior of the debt-ridden Golden State -- presumably based upon the Obamunist argument that any government spending at all, no matter how useless, foolish, frivolous, or corrupt, is necessarily "stimulative." But Republican Vidak, and his Democrat predecessor Rubio, think it's more important to restore water to the parched central valley than to subsidize empty bullet trains -- or deify a fish the size of a pinky finger.

From the Journal:

Democrats were writing obituaries for California's GOP after winning a supermajority in the state legislature last November, thus gaining veto-proof power to raise taxes. But their legislative lock may have slipped after this week's special election in which Republican farmer Andy Vidak appears to have defeated a Democrat -- in a heavily Democratic senate district -- who had championed high-speed rail and a higher minimum wage.

A high-speed railway to nowhere, plus a higher minimum wage for the job you don't have; can't beat that! Except it appears that Vidak is about to do so. So who is Republican Andy Vidak, and why is he likely to win the runoff election against a Latina running in a heavily Democratic state-senate district with a 60% Hispanic population?

Local farmers and businesses recruited the 47-year-old Mr. Vidak, a third-generation Valley farmer who narrowly lost his challenge to Democratic Rep. Jim Costa in 2010, to run on the Republican ticket. The white, middle-aged man appeared to come straight from the California GOP's central casting, but Mr. Vidak is more salt-of-the-earth than many of his new compatriots in Sacramento.

Mr. Vidak is a farmer and local. He lives there and understand what the local farmers are going through. They want water back to their farms, not a useless railroad tearing through the farmland, wreaking further destruction of jobs and property.

Leticia Perez, however, is about as far from "local" or "salt of the earth" as one can be:

Notwithstanding her Hispanic heritage, Ms. Perez appeared out of touch with Valley voters' values and concerns. She raised twice as much money as Mr. Vidak, but 90% of her contributions came from outside the district.

She spent nearly all her campaign trying to persuade broke and desperate, out-of-work farmers that Brown's Boondoggle will be a golden ticket for the stricken San Joaquin Valley. (She even had to issue a public apology for a campaign flier that implied Perez had gained the endorsement of the Virgin of Guadalupe, last seen in Mexico in 1531.)

By contrast, Vidak focused his underfunded run on more immediate (and secular) relief:

"It's fish versus farmer," [Vidak] says, and liberals are siding with the fish.

Other species-protection policies have removed thousands of acres of land from production, endangering the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers. Meanwhile, California's bullet train, beloved by liberals, will slash through Mr. Vidak's district and raze hundreds of farms, homes and businesses.

"We don't have clean drinking water in some areas of our district," Mr. Vidak says. "And they want to build an $80 billion bullet train!"

Vidak came close to winning outright; he needed 51% of the vote but got only 49.9%. However, he is 6% ahead of Supervisor Perez. The election isn't in the bag; if Perez can pick up every last Democratic and leftist vote, she could squeak into office... but one would have to say that the leader in a runoff is generally favored. The final election will be held July 23rd.

In a rational world, this would not be a Democrat versus Republican issue. The Old Left was as pro-growth, pro-job as Republicans were (and still are); the Labor-Left would unquestionably have sided with the farmers, not the fish!

Restoring flow to the California Aqueduct is a survival issue for California farmers, and indeed to anyone who likes to eat now and again. I hope Democratic voters in the great central valley understand that the Sacramento Democrats are not their friends; they are radicals who care more about raw political power, ruinous spending, and lunatic lefties with quasi-religious yearnings for Gaia Worldmother.

But I also hope that Republicans get it through their thick skulls that a liberal candidate with a Hispanic surname can still lose an election, even in a heavily Democrat-Hispanic district, if the candidate refuses to treat constituents as individual people with local problems -- and instead tramples them underfoot in the name of bigfoot Progressivism and "saving the world."

Hatched by Sachi on this day, May 28, 2013, at the time of 6:37 PM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2010

No Light Bulb at the End of the Tunnel

Enviro-Mental Cases , Globaloney Sandwich
Hatched by Dafydd

The Obamunists in Congress and in the administration are still on track to effectively ban all incandescent light bulbs by 2014, in yet another self-congratulatory scheme to stave off global warming.

Think I'm joshing?

Press coverage has described federal law on incandescents as a "ban," although this is not strictly true. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 raised efficiency standards for "general service" incandescent lamps, the light bulb known to millions. The targets will take full effect in 2014.

However, these standards are high enough that incandescents used today -- which basically resemble the one designed by Thomas Edison in 1879 and perfected by General Electric in 1906 -- won't make the grade.

The U.S. phaseout parallels efforts in other wealthy countries, as well as some developing countries, to reduce incandescent use or ban them outright.

Ultimately, those politicos that Jonah Goldberg calls "liberal fascists," who have exiled God and worship health care and environmentalism in His place, want to force us all to use those God-awful compact fluorescent bulbs.

I suppose some like them, but I despise them:

  • They flicker.
  • They produce an audible buzz (at least, I can hear it).
  • If you drop them, they have enough mercury that you should probably call a HazMat team and evacuate.
  • A 150-watt equivalent costs about $13-$15, compared to $6-$7 for a regular incandescent or $9-$10 for a halogen.
  • But worst of all, they produce a sallow, sickly light that makes food look spoiled and people look jaundiced.

Fluorescents make me feel physically ill; the flickering plus the color give me headaches and nausea. But I suppose that won't bother President Barack H. Obama; I should simply turn to the government "option" to prescribe Motrin and anti-emetics.

We still have a chance to overturn this policy; there are two elections before the final rules go into effect, and one of them can remove the Incandescer-in-Chief himself. For right now, halogen bulbs -- which are modified, more efficient incandescents and don't have the problems enumerated above -- can still meet the new standards; but those standards will continue to tighten until nothing but fluorescents will ever pass:

Paul Simonetti, a spokesman for Philips, said its "Halogena" has been out for a few years; it is about a third more efficient than standard bulbs and costs about $4. But when standards are raised in 2014, he said, Halogena won't have much time left.

"The halogen, which is a good replacement right now, actually would not meet the standard in 2020," he said. "The long-term solutions are in LEDs. That's what we see."

Now, I would love to be able to buy LED bulbs that have the same light output as 100-watt (1250 to 1600 lumens) and 150-watt (2000 lumens) bulbs; they don't flicker, they last far longer than any other kind of bulb, they don't buzz, they contain no poisons (at least not in significant quantities), they're even cooler than fluorescents, and they can be tuned to any color spectrum desired.

But at the moment, this is a typical Obamic fantasy solution: First, you can't even buy LED lights brighter than the equivalent of 60 watts... and even that is even more hideously expensive than fluorescents -- the cheapest I've seen them is still in excess of $40 a throw. (That's for a bulb that illuminates in all directions, like a normal, Edison-style, incandescent. Directed-beam bulbs are cheaper, but they're more like flashlights.)

The limitation derives from the technology: All manufacturers can presently do to make an LED brighter is to pack a bunch of them in a globe-shaped lump.

They need to be able to make each individual LED significantly brighter in order actually to compete with incandescents. Either that, or get the government to make incandescents even more overpriced than LEDs by taxing the heck out of them, or simply banning them outright. This is, not surprisingly, the tack the Obama administration has chosen to sail.

I am optimistic that the technology curve will eventually bring LED prices down as demand increases, triggering a huge increase in production; but I don't believe LEDs, compact fluorescents, or halogens will ever be as cheap, bulb for bulb, as ordinary incandescents. It must be said, though, that over the long haul, all three are more cost-effective, given their longer lifespans (assuming you don't accidentally damage or destroy them).

However, I am not at all optimistic that LEDs with the lumens I demand for lighting in my house (we like it bright, b'dad!) will be available before the bulb-grabbers take away my incandescents.

In this sense, the Obamunists are consistent: When they ban some technology for the sin of being insufficiently "green," they never worry whether a replacement is available; it's enough that some technology exists, at least in theory, that will eventually be just as good -- under the most optimistic possible fairyland scenarios. Thus, they want to ban fossil fuels and nuclear power now, on the supposition that sometime in the distant future, technology elves will invent ludicrously efficient solar cells and windmills to replace today's power plants.

Alas, this means that we're in for a number of years in which incandescents are already banned, but LEDs not yet ready for prime time. I think I must begin hoarding halogens; maybe I can stockpile enough to last me through the seven lean years.

I'm most irritated by the ease with which societal planners declare themselves to be seers and oracles (or Obamacles, in this case). This is my stock in trade; believe me, there's more to being a "futurist" than watching Captain Eo a couple hundred times at Disneyland. You actually have to, you know, think about the future and how you can bring it about in the real world, step by step, taking all constraints of cost, availability, and opportunity into account, and understanding that you can no more command scientific innovation to adhere to a timetable than King Canute could order the tides in and out.

Lennon-ism notwithstanding, it's not enough simply to "imagine" a world of unicorns and free lunches.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 28, 2010, at the time of 6:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 2, 2010

Environmental Activism in Russia - Different in Kind, or Just Degree?

Enviro-Mental Cases , Russkie Resurgence
Hatched by Dafydd

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov -- personally appointed by Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin -- has ordered the wholesale demolition of houses in a Moscow neighborhood, based upon ambiguous land-title laws dating from the Soviet era; erstwhile residents are simply tossed into the street in subzero temperatures, while bulldozers obliterate their homes, whether "mansion" or "quaint cottage."

But here's the real kicker, Luzhkov's professed reason for decreeing such destruction:

Mr. Luzhkov, who in his 18 years as mayor has not been given to tolerating affronts to his authority, has stood firm. In an interview published Thursday in the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets, he called the residents “impostors” squatting on land that he said was zoned to be a park. “These cottages are located in a protected environmental zone,” he said. “The city has been saying for years that construction in this area was forbidden.”

The reality is quite another story -- a story of corruption, greed, raw power, and tyranny. (Corruption and tyranny in Russia? Say it ain't so, Uncle Joe!) We continue quoting:

Critics have accused the mayor, whose wife is a billionaire real estate developer, of using ambiguous land laws to acquire prime property and resell it to private interests. Just over a year ago, several dozen similar homes were destroyed in a neighboring community that was in the same nebulous legal situation.

So let's add it all up. We have:

  • A feigned and spurious exercise in environmentalist zeal by "watermelons" (green on the outside but red to the core) --
  • -- designed to cover up what appears to be naught but a tawdry land-snatching scheme --
  • -- enabled by corrupt but well-connected "nomenklatura," whose rank and whose friends in high places make them unassailable under the law, such as it is.

Say... sounds like tactics employed by every radical environmentalist movement in the world, from ELF to ALF to Greenpeace: They live for the chance to burn down a housing construction site or file a federal lawsuit expropriating private land to declare it a "preserve" for gnat catchers, snail darters, or Delta smelt.

Enviro-mental cases have colluded with the Obama administration and other Democrats to prevent us from drilling for oil in ANWR, in the Gulf of Mexico, in Colorado, or indeed anywhere else. They misuse and abuse litigation and "action directe" (fancy phrase for eco-terrorism) to stop nuclear-power plants, freeze construction, put the kibosh on animal testing of pharmaceuticals, ban the exhalation of carbon dioxide, and outlaw Capitalism.

In fact the only real difference I can see in the two situations, here and in Russia, is that in the United States, the watermelons have the ear of the government; whereas throughout Europe, the watermelons are the government.

Take a good look at Moscow, where the mayor throws Baba Yaga into the snow so Mrs. Mayor can buy the land for a song and make another cool billion. That's Barack H. Obama's America... if we let him.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 2, 2010, at the time of 8:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 15, 2009

They Don't Love Nature - They Just Hate Mankind

Enviro-Mental Cases , Globaloney Sandwich
Hatched by Dafydd

That was my honest, stunned conclusion some years ago about the "environmentalist" movement; if anything, the evidence of anti-human insanity has become even clearer since then:

  • The increasingly violent, even murderous tactics of terrorist groups like the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and their enablers -- Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Wildlife Fund, and other ostensibly "mainstream" environmentalist organizations;
  • The callous disregard of real science in the zeal for "reducing the human footprint" (eventually to zero)... accompanied on the side by mindless chanting, drumming, and puppetry in place of reason, debate, and consensus;
  • The rise of modern "Earth religions," which recognize no law but "save the animals -- no matter what the cost to people"... a quasi-spiritualism that bears no relation to ancient pagan beliefs (which always recognized not only the friendly but also the malevolent nature of, well, Nature);
  • And the obsession on the part of every branch of government, from municipality all the way up to international tribunals, with enforcing environmentalist dogma and propagandizing children with the preservationist catechism, showing literally no concern whatsoever about the enormities inflicted upon individuals and communities by vague laws interpreted into enviro-madness by administrative agencies and judges run amok.

In America, the ultimate enabler of eco-terrorism is the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the entire "green machine" that enforces the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and similar anti-human legislation enacted over the decades. Many of those who supported the Nixon-era ESA were simply soft-hearted, soft-headed conservationists; but they were rolled by environmental extremists who frankly believe that the entire human race should be expunged.

Most of the elite media refuse even to report on how much of our current economic devastation is caused in fact by environmentalism run rampant:

New data from satellites show the vast underground pools feeding faucets and irrigation hoses across California are running low, a worrisome trend federal scientists largely attribute to aggressive agricultural pumping.

The measurements show the amount of water lost in the two main Central Valley river basins within the past six years could almost fill the nation's largest reservoir, Lake Mead in Nevada.

"All that water has been sucked from these river basins. It's gone. It's left the building," said Jay Famiglietti, an earth science professor at the University of California, Irvine, who led the research collaboration. "The data is telling us that this rate of pumping is not sustainable."

Darn those agricultural robber barons! They're despoiling the very water we need to drink, just so they can make their obscene profits. Why are they doing this? Why?

We get only a single, slight hint, two vague words buried in the midst of the story:

Hundreds of farmers have been drilling wells to irrigate their crops, as three years of drought and environmental restrictions on water supplies have withered crops, jobs and profits throughout the San Joaquin Valley, where roughly half of the nation's fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown.

What environmental restrictions are those? The story never elaborates.

Even worse is this piece in Science Daily, which attributes the increased pumping to... well, see if you can guess:

New space observations reveal that since October 2003, the aquifers for California's primary agricultural region -- the Central Valley -- and its major mountain water source -- the Sierra Nevada -- have lost nearly enough water combined to fill Lake Mead, America's largest reservoir. The findings, based on satellite data, reflect California's extended drought and increased pumping of groundwater for human uses such as irrigation.

At the American Geophysical Union meeting this week in San Francisco, UC Irvine and NASA scientists detailed the state's groundwater changes and outlined research on other global aquifers conducted via twin satellites called the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment. GRACE monitors tiny month-to-month differences in Earth's gravity field primarily caused by the movement of water in the planet's land, ocean, ice and atmosphere. Its ability to "weigh" changes in water content provides new insights into how climate change is affecting Earth's water cycle.

Ah ha, so all this increased pumping of groundwater wells in the San Joaquin Valley is due to global warming. If only we would agree to Kyoto II, all would be well; just ask Algore.

On the other hand, maybe this has something to do with it:

The Delta smelt issue in California is a prime example how an ESA interpretation has resulted in lost jobs and businesses, Stirling says. The smelt population has declined for decades attributed to the diminished quality of Delta water, predation by other fish, invasive species consuming the smelt’s food chain, and pumps that propel Delta water through the Central Valley to Southern California.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued a biological opinion in 2005 indicating the smelt decline was caused by several factors including the pumps, Stirling explains. A lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other preservationist groups challenged the biological opinion. A judge ordered the pumps shutdown when smelt are young and in the pump vicinity.

The pump shutdown reduced 2008 Delta water deliveries via the California aqueduct and caused a 30 percent reduction of pumped water and a $300 million loss to California’s economy, Stirling says. Delta water deliveries in 2009 were reduced by 90 percent in some parts of the Central Valley.

The real reason for most of the increased (and "unsustainable") groundwater pumping in the San Joaquin Valley (a.k.a., the Central Valley) is what AP so obliquely called "environmental restrictions": To protect the Delta smelt, farmers have been cut off from the surface water they formerly used for irrigation; now, the only options they have are (a) pump the groundwater dry, or (b) abandon the farmland that provides nearly half of all American fruits, nuts, and vegetables... let the land become a desert and allow the entire country to go hungry.

But at least we can bask in the knowledge that some thumb-sized fish still survive. After all, what's more important, an endangered fish -- or a few measley humans?

Only an enviro-mentalist apparatus that nurses an intstitutional hatred of humanity could possibly enforce the ESA in such a way:

On the ESA loss-of-private-property-rights claim, Stirling points to the case of Paul Fisher whose home in Perdido Bay, Fla., was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Before the Fishers could gain local permits to rebuild, FWS declared Fisher’s private property as a critical habitat for the Perdido Key beach mouse.

“The federal government has virtually taken their (Fisher’s) property as a nature preserve for the mouse in effect,” Stirling said, “but refuses to pay them just compensation under the Constitution’s 5th Amendment.” PLF is representing Fisher in a lawsuit.

The apotheosis of enviro-mentalism is Globaloney itself, of course; and its synecdoche is found in ClimateGate: erstwhile climate "scientists" became so absolutely certain that human technology is destroying the Earth that when the evidence just wouldn't behave -- when other scientists kept asking inconvenient questions and finding confounding and complicating answers -- the true believers started falsifying the science, blocking independent investigation, banning publication by the wrong sorts, destroying the careers of "deniers," and ultimately, so utterly politicizing the field of AGCC research (anthropogenic -- "man caused" -- global climate change) that today we face a mandated energy cut-off that could hurl us back into the Dark Ages.

At the core of enviro-mentalism is an arrogance so intense and narcissistic, it mimics the hubris of classical Greek theater: The AGCC inquisitors literally seem to believe they can remake the Earth by signing a treaty, passing a law, or electing one of the anointed. After all --

This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.

Environmentalism became a religion long before the rise of "global warming;" in fact, even before the earlier exercise in catastrophism, "global cooling." The Endangered Species Act of 1973 was not the beginning, it was just the warning shot that should have been heard round the world, but was ignored. I suspect the First Church of Fundamentalist Enviro-Mentalism was founded in the early 19th century, wrought by the Romantics and their anti-industrialism nature-worship.

But it's finally come to the boiling point today. And unless we find the guts and the will to turn off the heat -- and if necessary, identify the lunatics who want to cleanse the planet of pesky humanity and exile them from the halls of science, politics, and the judiciary -- we'll all be boiled in our own primordial soup.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 15, 2009, at the time of 12:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 12, 2009

The War Against Children Spreads to Canada

Enviro-Mental Cases
Hatched by Dafydd

The Canadian newspaper the National Post has hit upon a brilliant solution to all the world's problems; not only that, they have discovered that if their solution is not implemented immediately, the Earth will be destroyed in short order.

But the solution turns out to be simple... ban children!

The "inconvenient truth" overhanging the UN's Copenhagen conference is not that the climate is warming or cooling, but that humans are overpopulating the world.

A planetary law, such as China's one-child policy, is the only way to reverse the disastrous global birthrate currently, which is one million births every four days.

The article (opinion piece, whatever they consider it) was written by Diane Francis and published in last Tuesday's business section (called the "Financial Post," after a newspaper that the National Post gobbled up). Friend Lee tells me that on yesterday's O'Reilly Factor, Laura Ingraham "ripped Diane Francis a new one." I wish I'd seen it.

Incidentally, I wonder which of Francis' two children she regrets having?

I published a post some days ago, noting that a very significant portion of the global enviromentalist "movement" does not love nature half so much as it hates Mankind. Back then, I wrote:

But a darker motive lurks at the intersection of cultic environmentalism and madness; it's not just that the rich should be killed and eaten, that's old hat; humanity itself is a cancer upon the Earth... and it must be expunged. The anti-human radicals at, e.g., the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) believe that amputation is the planet's last hope; we must extirpate the human race.

And these "elves" are driving the environmentalism bus.

I believe the entire movement is riddled with people who believe Mankind itself should be exterminated, as the only way to open the door for a truly "green" Gaea. It's not everybody who calls himself an enviro; it's not Ed Begley, jr., for example. But it is the activist crust, and they're the ones pushing the agenda. I truly believe that many of what I call the "enviro-mental cases" see globaloney hysteria as their best shot at so devastating the world economy that our global population is reduced to a fraction of our current level... where "reduced" is a euphemism for an almost Malthusian die-off of human beings.

And the One We Have Elected is, all unwittingly -- or simply not caring, so long as he gets his -- playing right into the nihilists' hands.

Compare and contrast today's story in the National Post:

The world's other species, vegetation, resources, oceans, arable land, water supplies and atmosphere are being destroyed and pushed out of existence as a result of humanity's soaring reproduction rate.

Ironically, China, despite its dirty coal plants, is the world's leader in terms of fashioning policy to combat environmental degradation, thanks to its one-child-only edict.

Say... isn't China also the world's leader in poisoning people with everything from toxic frozen potstickers and vegetables, to toxic toothpaste, pet food, blood thinner, salt, instant noodles, lead-filled paint and lead-coated toys, and dozens of other pollution-related poisoning incidents, killing hundreds of people around the world. (They also sold industrial oil as "cooking oil.")

Many countries have adopted policies of banning Chinese imports -- evidently unaware that the Chinese policy of forced, post-partum "abortions" gives them "absolute moral authority" (as Ann Coulter likes to say) to poison those humans lucky enough to dodge the birth dragnet and be born.

The tale ends with the usual Gaea panacea for every plague and pestilence: totalitarianism:

For those who balk at the notion that governments should control family sizes, just wait until the growing human population turns twice as much pastureland into desert as is now the case, or when the Amazon is gone, the elephants disappear for good and wars erupt over water, scarce resources and spatial needs....

The only fix is if all countries drastically reduce their populations, clean up their messes and impose mandatory conservation measures.

In Robert Graves' novel about the Roman emperor Claudius, he has Caligula say something along the lines of "I would that all Rome had but a single throat, so I could cut it." Well, today's enviro-mental cases do the mad emperor one better: They wish to halve the human population, thus condemning the remaining half to lives of grinding poverty, a further collapse in population, eventual extinction -- and the utter loss of liberty, freedom, and dignity in the few remaining years we will have.

Alternatively, the developed (i.e., "civilized") countries will impose the one-child policy, while the developing (i.e., "third world") countries -- such as Yemen, Qatar, Libya, Sudan, and Indonesia -- will export their burgeoning population of radical jihadis to take the place of the forcibly aborted babies. Then Francis can call for the global imposition of sharia law and complete the triumph of her brand of "feminism."

But sharia cannot sustain itself in the absence of a civilized world to buy its oil and sell it the guns it needs to rule its own people; thus the new global ummah will quickly collapse into chaos and the war of all against all; heck, it's almost there already! Either way, in the end, Gaea will reign supreme over a world without Man.

Heavens, in what deep and deadly currents of hatred and misanthropy these enviros swim.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 12, 2009, at the time of 6:40 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 7, 2009

Congress Be Damned, Globaloney Marches On!

Enviro-Mental Cases
Hatched by Dafydd

Now that the Cripple and Tax energy-killing bill flogged by President Barack H. Obama is stalled in the Senate, where it doesn't have the 60 votes needed to advance (sounds familiar), we can take a breather, right? We're safe from the overwrought, hyperventilating, anti-Capitalist hysteria that is sweeping Europe; after all, senators surely don't want to destroy our economy (what's left of it) by preventing us from generating the energy we need to run America!

Not so fast, monkey boy.

Quietly, sub rosa, the Environmental Protection Agency has been beavering away with it's "finding" that carbon dioxide -- a gas essential to the continued existence of life on this planet (beyond the bacterial stage) -- is actually a deadly poison, a pollutant that must be stamped out.

Do I exaggerate? Yes, a little; the EPA doesn't want to ban all CO2 from the planet... but they do intend to use the finding to implement the entire Cripple and Tax carbon-restricting program that the Senate will not:

The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday will complete its determination that greenhouse gases pose a danger to human health and the environment, paving the way for regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, power plants, factories refineries and other major sources....

The move gives President Obama a significant tool to combat the gases blamed for the heating of the planet even while Congress remains stalled on economy-wide global warming legislation.

The Obama administration has signaled its intent to issue a so-called endangerment finding for carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases since taking office in January. Ms. Jackson announced a proposed finding in April and has taken steps to implement the rules that would be needed to back it up.

Why are they doing this? And why now? Two reasons:

  1. They can use the threat of heavy-fisted EPA regulations, which would have all the finesse and sensitivity to business needs of a kid in a china shop, to extort the Senate to pass the Obamic legislation.

The administration evidently believes Republican senators will be so desperate to ward off the thuggish, slash-and-burn EPA-style "regulation," they will drop their filibuster in the Senate. In other words, the Obama administration now holds the nation's economy hostage, threatening to wreck it unless Congress passes Cripple and Tax -- which will also wreck the economy, but a little more slowly. "Say, nice little country you got there; be a shame if something was to happen to it..."

If this squeeze play works, it will give the radicals in government the power to rule by decree, and to the devil with the legislative branch:

The administration has wielded the finding as a prod to Congress to act on legislation, saying in effect that if lawmakers do not act to control greenhouse gas pollution they will use their rule-making power to do so. At the same time, the president and his top environmental aides have frequently said that they prefer such a major step be taken through the give-and-take of the legislative process.

"Look what you're making me do!"

Evidently, having gigantic majorities in both chambers of Congress is not enough: The Left will never be satisifed until there is no obstacle, or even a speed bump, between it and direct rule. It's no coincidence that the Obamacle is so enamored of Venezuelan dictator Oogo Chavez; they are kindred souls.

  1. The other reason for the finding -- and the reason it must be right now, not a month from now -- is that Barack Obama plans to use this regulatory threat to boost his internationalist standing at the Copenhagen conference of Anthropogenic Global Climate Change (AGCC) nutters... waving the bloody green shirt, as it were.

The Times on that last point:

The agency finding also will allow Mr. Obama to tell delegates at the United Nations climate change conference that began today in Copenhagen that the United States is moving aggressively to address the problem.

"Aggressively" is the word, all right: The president is aggressing against his own people.

(I think I misspeak; Barack Obama's "people" are actually those so chillingly described in Jonah Goldberg's book Liberal Fascism. But he is aggressing against real America, however.)

There is certainly a utopian economic motivation behind the madness: a climate-change Ponzi scheme to force the "rich countries" to transfer most of their wealth to "poor countries." In the universe of the Left, distributing the wealth around is a good thing; after all, with our evil Capitalist system, we've been holding down the poor for hundreds of years!

Botswana and Belize, Burma, Bulgaria, and Bangladesh would all be well-fed and prosperous -- were it not for the developed countries systematically looting them. There is nowhere else our wealth could have come from but stealing it from the poor. (Unlike the Old, Communist Left, the New Left does not believe in wealth creation, only redistribution.)

But a darker motive lurks at the intersection of cultic environmentalism and madness; it's not just that the rich should be killed and eaten, that's old hat; humanity itself is a cancer upon the Earth... and it must be expunged. The anti-human radicals at, e.g., the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) believe that amputation is the planet's last hope; we must extirpate the human race.

And these "elves" are driving the environmentalism bus.

I believe the entire movement is riddled with people who believe Mankind itself should be exterminated, as the only way to open the door for a truly "green" Gaea. It's not everybody who calls himself an enviro; it's not Ed Begley, jr., for example. But it is the activist crust, and they're the ones pushing the agenda. I truly believe that many of what I call the "enviro-mental cases" see globaloney hysteria as their best shot at so devastating the world economy that our global population is reduced to a fraction of our current level... where "reduced" is a euphemism for an almost Malthusian die-off of human beings.

And the One We Have Elected is, all unwittingly -- or simply not caring, so long as he gets his -- playing right into the nihilists' hands.

Elections have consequences; one of the consequences of this last one is that we have an "imperial presidency" and "unitary executive" (as the liberals misuse those terms) that dwarfs any feeble steps the Bush administration ever took to castrate Congress, just as the Obama deficit spending towers over Bush's paltry excesses like Ozymandias looming over the desert sands in Percy Bysshe Shelly's famous 1818 sonnet. For some unaccountable reason, the Left doesn't mind having an American monarch, so long as he's their American monarch.

In fact, I feel a great kinship with Mr. Shelly right about now; with every new outrage by America's worst president ever, I hear the echoes of Shelly's arrogant demigod:

"My name is Obamandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Alas, it's difficult not to proceed immediately from there to the prophetic and terrifying final triplet of that poem... for which you will have to read the entire (14 line) sonnet below.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

(The complete text of Ozymandias may be found by clicking the "Slither on.")

by Percy Bysshe Shelly
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 7, 2009, at the time of 5:10 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 28, 2009

Barbara Boxer - Thank Goodness for National Poverty!

Energy Woes and Wows , Enviro-Mental Cases , Liberal Lunacy
Hatched by Dafydd

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA, 100%) is of course shepherding the economy-killing energy bill, Cripple and Tax (sorry, I meant Cap and Trade) through the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs. Her fellow committee member Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT, 80%) -- who just recently wrote his own Obamacare bill in the Senate Finance Committee, which he chairs -- has decided to write his own energy bill as well; he came out swinging against the Boxer bill... but his objections are all to the specifics; Baucus has no problem with the basic concept of the Obama-Boxer bill:

  1. Regulate carbon emissions as if they were pollutants (so stop exhaling, you climate traitor!)
  2. Force industries, farms, utilities, and other businesses to buy "carbon credits" that allow them to pollute the planet -- i.e., feed the plants.
  3. Set a national carbon reduction goal of about 80% by 2050 (!). This is so draconian, it can only be achieved one of two ways: By absolutely crippling American industry to the point where we'd have trouble competing with Albania; or by embarking upon a massive program to build a hundred or more nuclear power plants.

    The Democrats have no interest in building a hundred nuclear power plants. Or even one.

  4. "Fine" businesses and utilities increasingly staggering amounts of money when they're unable to meet that absurdist goal... thus creating the most massive tax the United States has ever levied -- on the evil, unAmerican sin of producing energy.

Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX, 76%) and Kit Bond (R-MO, 75%) conducted a study that found the gasoline tax increase alone would carry a price tag of $3.6 trillion, a cost that would be borne by "families, small businesses, farmers, truckers, & air travelers." I don't believe that even includes energy taxes on other forms of fossil fuel besides gasoline, deisel and jet fuel, such as natural gas, ordinary coal, or clean-coal technology.

But all this is prolog; what really caught my eye was this astonishing suggestion from Boxer:

Mrs. Boxer said that Mr. Baucus told her Friday that he could not back the bill in its current form. Still, she expressed hope that recent declines in U.S. emission levels caused by the economic recession of as much as 8 percent since 2005 would make the 2020 target more palatable for Mr. Baucus and other bill critics.

And there you have it, the essential absurdity of Cripple and Tax: A United States senator hopes that the current recession continues plaguing America, because that would reduce emissions (by reducing industrial production, jobs, and GDP) -- and "make the 2020 [emissions reduction] target more palatable!"

In other words, we'll already be so impoverished by the recession, which Barack H. Obama now "owns" via his counter-economic policies that perpetuate it, that we'll hardly even notice when we become even poorer due to his equally risible energy policy.

At last I understand: It's not true that the One's economic plan is failing; it's succeeding beyond his wildest dreams. We just misunderstand its real goal.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 28, 2009, at the time of 1:18 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

October 20, 2009

California's Putting Its Foot in the Sand

Enviro-Mental Cases
Hatched by Dafydd

I just read that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill, passed by the state legislature, to issue an "environmental exemption." Why? So that investors can build a new football stadium in Los Angeles, allowing L.A. to once again have an NFL team.

But nobody is willing to issue an "environmental exemption" so that the western San Joaquin Valley, the soon to be dried-up "breadbasket" of California and much of the West, can get enough water from northern Cal to avoid destroying scores of farms -- and farmers' lives, plus thousands of farm workers who will soon be out of a job and probably on welfare (and I don't mean illegals). Not to mention the economic hit all across the United States, as produce prices rise steeply (supply and demand).

And all this to "protect" the delta smelt, a small fish in San Francisco Bay that some say is endangered.

So environmental exemptions for a football stadium but not for farmers who see their multi-generational investment being wiped out by state decree. But hey, you gotta draw the line somewhere!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 20, 2009, at the time of 4:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 23, 2008

"Paranoia Strikes Deep..."

Enviro-Mental Cases , Future of Energy Production , Hippy Dippy Peacenik Groove
Hatched by Dafydd

Whilst strolling the streets of Victoria, B.C. today, a revelation hammered me like Hephaestus with a hangover. I've long been croggled by the sheer insanity of the most extreme environmentalists, who seem to reject or deprecate every conceivable method of creating usable energy:

  • We can't use any product associated with Big Oil; that includes oil drilled from ANWR, the OCS, the G. of M., international waters, or even existing (productive) wells in CONUS; we cannot use shale oil; we cannot import gasoline or deisel; we cannot use natural gas; and we cannot use oil made by liquifying coal, because fossil fuels send the deadly poison CO2 into the atmosphere with devastating, disastrous results.
  • We cannot burn coal directly, because that, too, contributes to global warming. And besides, what about black-lung disease?
  • We can't use nuclear for reasons that really ought to be obvious (that is, nuclear hysteria -- "¡Rabanos radiactivos!")
  • We cannot use solar panels, because they disturb the fragile desert ecosystems.
  • We can't use windmills, because birds might fly into them. (Noting that putting the windmills inside giant birdcages would keep the birds out seems to have no impact on the enviro-mentals.)

When one suggests that even if a country fully commits to switching to "green" energy (which in this case means both "environmentally friendly" and "new and untested"), we must generate energy somehow in the meanwhile seems to elicit rage and fury, as the 'mentals angrily deny that we need do any such thing. But surely they cannot imagine that we can live without any energy at all... so what are they thinking of to replace our current oil-based economy during the transition period?

And then it hit me on Government St., halfway between the Gray Line bus depot and the Bon Rouge boulangerie and bistro: These radicals don't believe there is going to be any lack of energy at all.

Sidebar: For decades now, I have been hearing of a very particular conspiracy theory -- that someone (usually described as a small, private inventor) has created a magic pill; you fill your car's gas tank with water from your garden hose, toss in this pill, and voila! you get a cool 50 miles per gallon (or 100, or 150, depending who's telling the story) from straight water plus the magic bullet.

But of course any conspiracy needs a villain; in this case, Big Carbon is frantic about this invention, because it would put them out of business. Even if they sold the pills, they wouldn't make the hundreds of billions of dollars they currently get from fossil fuels.

Therefore, goeth the conspiracy, the petrol producers have "suppressed" this invention. It's non existence on the shelves of Pep Boys and Kragen has nothing to do with the chemical impossibility of turning water into an inflammable substance -- and everything to do with wicked multinationals (Halliburton!) that have covered up the greatest invention since movable type.

All right, you're way ahead of me; but I'll say it anyway: The revelation suddenly consumed my brain that these extreme environmentalists must have fully bought into this conspiracy: They believe that by denying Big Carbon all the quick fixes and low-hanging fruit of the oil economy, the scoundrels will be forced to reveal this invention, just to keep their heads above Davy Jones' water.

They actually believe -- or I believe they believe -- that cutting off the oil supply will force the bad guys to fess up and reveal this marvelous artifice they have locked up somewhere in a gigantic warehouse, right next to the Ark of the Covenant... and then we'll have paradise on Earth. To very nearly quote Robert Browning:

1 The year's at the spring,
2 And day's at the morn;
3 Morning's at seven;
4 The hill-side's dew-pearled;
5 The lark's on the wing;
6 The snail's on the thorn;
7 Gaea's on Her divan --
8 All's right with the world

[Note that line 7 is edited to make all more politically and environmentally correct.]

We already see a deep nexus between leftish radicalism and conspiracy theory; for three uncontroversial examples, consider how many radicals passionately believe that we went to war with Iraq to steal its oil, that George W. Bush "stole" the 2000 and 2004 elections, and that the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon were brought down by "controlled demolition." While this doesn't prove environmentalists believe in the water-to-gasoline magic pill, it eliminates the best defense against swallowing such tommyrot: common sense.

(Of course, there really is a "magic bullet," or stream of such bullets, that would, once and for all, kill the dysfunctional energy-production gap; I believe it will eventuate over the next 50-60 years. But I'll talk about that in a later post.)

Again, this is not proof, but it's provacative: If you assume my supposition above to be true -- that the enviro-wackos believe Big Carbon is sitting on an invention that would get us through the "seven lean years," and that the oil barons will be forced to reveal the secret elixir that replaces gasoline and gives us limitless energy with no pollution and no hard work -- it's amazing how many other leftish, Earth-worshipping policy issues fall out easily, from "sustainable food," to the Kyoto Protocol, to "animal liberation," to the reforestation of the entire North American and European continents.

I think the Earth First (Humans Last) leaders especially would insist that B.O. -- Big Oil, not Barack Obama -- really has committed exactly that "intergenerational crime" "against humanity and nature"... but only if you got them drunk enough to forget their political inhibitions.

Just a wild, hippie-dippie speculation; take it for what it isn't worth, which is the paper it isn't printed on.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 23, 2008, at the time of 10:39 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

October 25, 2007

Jindal Bells Ring In a New Era

Elections , Enviro-Mental Cases
Hatched by Dafydd

In a stunning victory that few expected so early in the Louisiana election process, Rep. Bobby Jindal won election as governor last Saturday (October 21st, 2007) by garnering more than 50% of the vote in a crowded field. Jindal will be the youngest governor in the United States at 36 years old.

(And contrary to apparently widespread belief, Jindal is eligible to run for president, as he is a native-born American, not an immigrant._

Our previous Jindal Bells post is here.

What may also be unexpected is the way that Louisianans have faced up to the catastrophe that is the current governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco; they now embrace the view that the Katrina disaster was largely a failure of state, not federal response:

Mr. Jindal’s victory over a state Democratic party weakened by perceptions of post-hurricane incompetence and corruption was expected, as he has had an overwhelming lead in polls for months. The incumbent, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, hurt by stumbles after Hurricane Katrina, did not seek re-election....

Mr. Jindal campaigned as a cautious reformer, promising a more ethical government, for example, with greater transparency from lobbyists and legislators. His extensive résumé helped him project an image of competence, as did his detailed if conventional policy prescriptions — both evidently appealing to voters here weary of missteps in government since Hurricane Katrina.

While it may be easy for those "on the spot" -- in Hollywood, Chicago, and DC -- to spout the traditional Democratic "Katrina Truther" storyline of a heroic Gov. Blanco begging for help from a cold and callous Bush administration determined to permanently evacuate all the blacks out of New Orleans (failing that, to drown them by blowing up the levees)... those ordinary people actually living in Louisiana cannot help contrast the cleanup, reconstruction, and building efforts in the Pelican State with that of neighboring Mississippi (the Magnolia State, in case you're interested).

While Mississippi has done a fairly good job of rebuilding -- enough so that the elite media seems uninterested in reporting on the progress -- Louisiana has lagged, and its citizens have noticed. But the lag is not universal; it's much worse on projects controlled by state and local authorities than on projects paid for and run by private individuals or companies -- and don't think the residents haven't noticed that, too:

Two years after the devastating floods that followed Hurricane Katrina, the rebuilding of New Orleans, and much of the Gulf Coast, has largely taken two paths: communities that have rebuilt themselves using private funds, insurance money and sheer will -- and publicly funded efforts that have moved much more slowly.

Federal, state and local governments have struggled to speed up the release of funds and restore infrastructure. None of the 115 "critical priority projects" identified by city officials has been completed: For example, New Orleans' police superintendent still works out of a trailer, as do most of the city's firefighters. And analysts at the city's crime lab don't have a laboratory to match DNA samples.

The delays have affected the poor the most — those dependent on government assistance to rebuild their lives. While middle- and upper-class neighborhoods have rebuilt using private insurance and contacts, residents of low-income areas such as the Lower 9th Ward and Holy Cross — roughly 20,000 of them — for the most part remain scattered throughout the region, their return uncertain.

However, it's not lack of federal funds, as the USA Today article suggests; by July of 2007, Congress had already allocated $128 billion worth of tax credits, loan guarantees, but mostly direct block grants to the states affected by Hurricane Katrina. The problem, as the libertarian Reason Magazine points out, is that nobody really knows how to spend that money:

So it's not a lack of funding that's the problem. It's spending the money. Under existing laws, FEMA can't simply write checks to Katrina victims. Some recipients would undoubtedly squander their funds, and there would be widespread fraud. This isn't idle speculation. According to the Government Accountability Office, immediately after Katrina hit, about a billion dollars of emergency aid—16 percent of the total—was lost to fraudulent claims. Even legitimately obtained pre-paid debit cards given to aid Katrina's victims were used to buy champagne, guns, tattoos, and porn.

Unfortunately, the other option -- the one currently in place -- isn't any better: government micromanagement of payouts. This is where you get the [Louisiana] Road Home program's Byzantine policies, which includes dozens of dizzying, intermediate steps between filing a claim and the receipt of funds and, consequently, the plodding pace of recovery we've seen over the last two years. Because of legitimate fears that money will be squandered, mismanaged, or lost to fraud, the money sits unused.

But while Mississipians seem by and large satisfied with the actions by Gov. Haley Barbour, Lousianans did not the feel the same about Gov. Blanco. In fact, opposition to her was so intense that last March, Blanco dropped out of her own reelection campaign. Thus ends the short, hapless career of Kathleen Babineaux Blanco.

In 2003, she beat Jindal 52-48 in an election marred by very questionable eleventh-hour ads Blanco ran accusing Jindal of throwing tens of thousands of poor patients off of Medicaid when he was Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals from 1996 to 1998. Considering the bitterness of that race, it must truly gall Blanco that she will be succeeded by the very man she worked so hard to destroy.

Jindal was also the top vote-getter in 2003's first round of voting; but this year, he did 20 points better, actually finishing above the 50% mark; thus the first round of voting is the only round... almost unheard of for a candidate who is not the incumbent and has never been governor before.

But the main change in Louisiana politics is likely to be on the ethics front. In most people's minds, Louisiana edges out Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey to win the prize as the most corrupt state in the union. The image is propelled by the state's history, from Huey P. "the Kingfish" Long to Rep. William "Cold Cash" (a.k.a. "Freezerburn") Jefferson (D-LA, 60%). Long was the governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 (and nominally U.S. senator from Louisiana from 1931 -- yes, he was both governor and senator simultaneously -- until his assassination in 1935); William Jefferson is the Louisiana representative in whose freezer the FBI found $90,000 in cash.

Jindal insists that his first action will be to clean up Baton Rouge, the state capital, and then the rest of the state government apparatus. It's an open question whether the Louisiana State Legislature, heavily dominated by Democrats in both chambers, will permit an end to the corruption they have come to accept as a mandatory perk of public office. But I have no doubt that Jindal himself is sincere and will fight hard to legitimize his state.

And then, will this young, energetic, conservative, charismatic, born-again Roman Catholic Indian American run for the presidency? If so, he will make a formidable opponent to whichever old, entrenched, left-liberal, peacenik the Democratic Party nominates that cycle.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 25, 2007, at the time of 6:27 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

September 24, 2007

Cindy Sheehan's Day of Out-of-Tunement Manifesto

Afghan Astonishments , Asquirmative Action , Dhimmi of the Month , Domestic Terrorism , Drama Kings and Queens , Econ. 101 , Enviro-Mental Cases , Hippy Dippy Peacenik Groove , History of Moral Philosophy , Illiberal Liberalism , Impeachment Imbecilities , Iraq Matters , Kriminal Konspiracies , Liberal Lunacy , Logical Lacunae , News of the Weird , Palestinian Perils and Pratfalls , Politics 101 , Scurrilous Scribblings , Terrorism Intelligence , Unnatural Disasters , Unuseful Idiots
Hatched by Dafydd

I rarely do this, as you know: I rarely link to some piece and say simply "read this." (I'm too in love with the sound of my own fingers typing on a keyboard.)

But here's an exception. Read Cindy Sheehan's Yom Kippur "sermon," delivered at Michael Lerner's Beyt Tikkun "synogogue;" you will be -- if not exactly glad, then at least agape. (Rabbi Lerner is Hillary Clinton's mentor, author of the Politics of Meaning and other works of Socialist agit-prop masquerading as theology.)

My response (I love this) is entirely contained in the list of categories I had to attach to this post.

(Well, one more thing. It has always been my understanding that Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, is a day for each person to atone for what he, personally, has done wrong -- not "atone" for his enemies failing to live up to his own lofty standards, apologize for all the times America hasn't followed his lead, or wallow in self-righteous indignation that nobody listens to him. 'Nuff said; read the list of categories above.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 24, 2007, at the time of 2:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 18, 2007

Newsflash: Clinton Judge Finds Limit to Judicial Power

Court Decisions , Enviro-Mental Cases , Injudicious Judiciary
Hatched by Dafydd

It's a bit sad that I consider it newsworthy that a federal judge appointed by President Bill Clinton, Martin Jenkins, has actually thrown out an activist, leftist lawsuit, filed by the state of California against automakers, alleging they have damaged the state by making cars that contribute to global warming. (Actually, the lawsuit was filed by former governor, former mayor, now Attorney General and perpetual nutjob Jerry Brown "on behalf of" the state of California; I didn't get to vote on it.) The judge held that setting such policy was rightly the task of the legislative branch of the federal government, not the judiciary:

A U.S. federal judge tossed out a lawsuit by California's attorney general on Monday seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from six automakers for damaging the state with climate-changing greenhouse gases.

Martin Jenkins, a federal judge in the Northern District of California, said the issue of global warming should be decided in the political rather than legal arena.

"The Court finds that injecting itself into the global warming thicket at this juncture would require an initial policy determination of the type reserved for the political branches of government," Jenkins wrote in approving the automakers' motion to dismiss the case.

(It's unclear from the article, but I think Judge Jenkins held that the federal courts do not have jurisdiction.)

I am stunned. I thought this would be a slam-dunk before a liberal judge in blue-state California. Evidently the Office of the Attorney General was likewise stunned, because its spokesman just made what is simultaneously the most fatuous and the most legally incompetent argument I've ever seen from that body:

The suit was the first seeking to hold manufacturers liable for global warming damages caused by greenhouse emissions. It said cars made by the six automakers account for more than 30 percent of human-generated carbon dioxide emissions in California, the most populous U.S. state.

"We understand why a district federal judge may not want to jump into a global warming thicket with both feet," Ken Alex, California's supervising deputy attorney general, said in an interview. "Having said that, the basic tenet of law is that where you describe a harm then there needs to be a remedy for it."

"Right now because the political branches -- the federal government, Congress and the executive branch -- have not acted, the state of California is left without a remedy."

Now I must again caution that I am not a real lawyer; I will cop to being a "Philadelphia lawyer" or a "sea lawyer," to playing one on this blog sometimes, and to thinking of myself as more informed on the law than 95% of laymen (and so much more modest, too!) So maybe I've misunderstood this point all these years.

But I remember both my lawyer father and a friend of mine who attended law school but chose not to become an attorney separately telling me the exact opposite. They said that the idea that "every harm has a legal remedy" is discussed as a false belief that many people have about the law. In other words, both these two lawyers told me that Counselor Alex is 180 degrees off course: Not every harm has a legal remedy; sometimes, bad things happen, and there is nobody you can collect from.

For example, suppose you're hiking in Yosemite, admiring the beautiful scenery. Too much so; you fail to note that the trail turns north, and you continue walking west... right into a creek, where you stumble, fall, and crack your kneecap on a rock.

Ow. Nobody can tell me that's not a "harm." You're in agony; you can't walk; you're stuck four miles from the nearest help. And you know what? There is not a single person in the world you can successfully sue. You have no legal remedy whatsoever. A bad thing happened to you -- because you were a dumbass.

Even overt actions that harm people in ways obviously known to the actor don't necessarily mean the victim has a valid lawsuit. For example, suppose the government condemns somebody's house under eminent domain (in order to build a public emergency trauma center), and suppose further they pay the owner market price plus 5%. But suppose the owner was born in that house, as were his family for the previous three generations, as well as his daughter; and suppose he would never have sold it for any amount of money at all. Hasn't he suffered a grievous harm?

Well, yes he has; but no, he has no real case against the government, because they paid him "just compensation." He has no legal remedy for the harm he suffered.

In the global-warming case, I'm certain that Jerry Brown will appeal to the 9th Circus Court, which could overturn the judge's ruling on the motion to dismiss. No matter, the loser will appeal to the Supreme Court; once there, I believe the majority will use Judge Jenkins' decision as the basis for confirming that there really, truly are limitations on legislating from the bench.

Thus it may turn out that Jerry Brown's most enduring legacy will be striking a mighty blow -- albeit inadvertently -- for judicial restraint. Exciting, isn't it?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 18, 2007, at the time of 1:52 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 5, 2007

Incandescent Irritation

Enviro-Mental Cases , Globaloney Sandwich
Hatched by Dafydd

What did the corned beef say to the sliced tongue? "I'm on a roll!"

Here's another insane environmentalist moment, this time from my native state again -- California, the granola state: land of fruits, nuts, and flakes. Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, representing Van Nuys (that's a small city within the city of Los Angeles, in the southwest end of the San Fernando Valley), chairman of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee, has introduced a bill to ban all incandescent lightbulbs by 2012.

No, it's not a rib. Sorry:

A California lawmaker wants to make his state the first to ban incandescent lightbulbs as part of California's groundbreaking initiatives to reduce energy use and greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

The "How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb Act" [this part may be a rib!] would ban incandescent lightbulbs by 2012 in favor of energy-saving compact fluorescent lightbulbs.

"Incandescent lightbulbs were first developed almost 125 years ago, and since that time they have undergone no major modifications," California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine said on Tuesday.

Well, yeah. That's because, to quote Mary Poppins, they're "practically perfect in every way" (except they burn out too quickly).

This stands in stark contrast to fluorescent lighting, which makes me sick. I mean that literally: they flicker at some frequency that gives me a headache and makes me feel a bit queasy. When I used to work in a office, I bought a regular lamp and put it on my desk, so its light could drown out the finicky, flickering fluorescent flapdoodle overhead.

Nowadays, I always buy the GE Reveal bulbs, which are as much like outdoor light as one can get in an inexpensive lightbulb; and I like a lot of lumens... in the living room alone, we have two 150-watt bulbs and a 100-watter. That's another reason I detest fluorescent lights: they turn everything a weird, pasty-purple-ish color that makes me feel like I'm on Mars, except without the low gravity.

This brings me to the point of this post (you knew there was going to one in here somewhere): Is there anything more typical (and telling) than a lefty who is so totalitarian, he even wants to tell you what kind of lightbulb you're allowed to use? Well, maybe the Al Gore "two-flusher." Both are indicative of the Left's hatred of human choice. When they say they're "pro-choice," they certainly don't mean you to have the choice to disobey them.

They are, as Thomas Sowell dubbed them, the "anointed;" and they are anointed because they have "the Vision"... the Vision being of a man-made utopia run by -- well, by people like them. The Vision includes a rather colossal ego that compels the anointed to declare (now I'm quoting George Bernard Shaw) that "the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature." (Antony and Cleopatra, Act II)

In the present case, Mr. Levine evidently doesn't like to read much, or to do anything else involving the eyes after sunset. Thus, he sees no moral or ethical impediment to telling everyone else to pollute his home with awful, color-changing, eye-straining fluorescent lightbulbs. The wishes of hoi polloi are of no account.

But of course, the reality is that even if this abomination passed -- it would just mean a huge black market in California incandescence: we would all order lights from the internet; and if they passed a second law prohibiting the operation of the U.S. Mail or requiring inspections to ensure that nobody is obtaining the forbidden fruit, we would find a way around that, too. Maybe some enterprising mafioso would ship lightbulbs into the Golden State hidden inside bales of medical marijuana or boxes of condoms destined for Van Nuys Middle School.

And I doubt Assemblyman Levine would even care: the important thing is to make a statement; whether the plan is actually plausible -- or even possible -- is an engineering detail. (As a minor aside, it's also evident he wrote his own hagiographic Wikipedia entry.)

Liberals... can't live with 'em; can't ditch 'em in the Mojave Desert with defective cell phones.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 5, 2007, at the time of 5:36 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

January 29, 2007

Four Walls Do Not a Wilderness Make

Enviro-Mental Cases
Hatched by Dafydd

This story jumped out at me precisely because I don't think most bloggers will cover it... yet it cuts right to the heart of the conflict between Right and Left -- more specifically, between conservationists and environmentalists.

Back in July of 2006, a "small group of environmentalists" won a victory in federal court, when U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii ordered a halt to seven reconstruction projects in Yosemite National Park. The projects had begun pursuant to two major plans: the Merced River Plan and the Yosemite Valley Plan.

Both plans were written shortly after a devastating flood of the Merced River back in 1997; the flood wiped out campgrounds, employee housing, hotels, trails, roads, sewer and water lines, electrical lines -- virtually the entire infrastructure of the park in that area.

The rebuiding aimed to restore much of what was lost -- while simultaneously relocating most employee housing outside the park, reducing the number of hotel rooms, and designating more areas off-limits to private cars, forcing visitors to park and ride on more environmentally friendly buses:

Together, the documents provided an ambitious blueprint to reinvent Yosemite. The Wilderness Society, the National Parks Conservation Association, the American Alpine Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council eagerly endorsed them....

Californians, too, overwhelmingly approved of the plans, according to a statewide poll commissioned by the defense council shortly after the plans were announced.

But two small environmental organizations, Friends of Yosemite Valley and Mariposans for Environmentally Responsible Growth, opposed the plans. They sued, arguing that the Merced River Plan was hastily written, used flawed data and favored development [Note that last cause of action; it is the key to this entire case].

U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii agreed and rejected the plan in July. He ordered the Park Service to draft a new plan, a process the Park Service says will take 33 months. In October, Ishii shut down several construction projects until the new plan is drafted.

The ruling by Judge Ishii -- a Clinton appointee -- followed a 2004 ruling by the notoriously liberal Ninth Circus Court of Appeals overturning an earlier Fresno judge's ruling against the environmentalists. The Ninth issued an injunction, also stopping construction; Judge Ishii's ruling last July was whether the Merced River plan could be "tweaked," or whether it would have to be completely junked and a new plan started from scratch.

Judge Ishii held the latter. Now any reconstruction must await an entirely new plan -- and nearly three more years of planning (during which more lawsuits can be filed, possibly "delaying" the rebuilding indefinitely).

Reading a bit between the lines, the real agenda of the environmentalists appears to be to wall off Yosemite from tourism:

The case may come down to the challenge facing all of America's parks: Should they remain open to everyone, or should access be limited in the interest of protecting them?

The SFGate story goes into more detail about the same basic conflict:

[The environmenatlist plaintiffs] believe the Park Service has crafted a plan to urbanize Yosemite and create a theme park resort. They argue it will expand Yosemite Lodge, cede the valley to tour buses and push traditional campers aside in favor of RVs. They say the plan does little to restore the valley's beauty....

"We see the proposals at Yosemite as benefiting the wealthy and the corporate interests over the people," he said. "It's mass-transit, tour-bus tourism."

Note the irony: the entire point of the "mass-transit, tour-bus" plan is to dramatically reduce the number of private cars driving up and down the valley... a goal with which Friends of Yosemite Valley and Mariposans for Environmentally Responsible Growth both agree. They're opposed to private-car tourism in Yosemite.

But they're also opposed to tour-bus tourism. About the only conclusion left is that Friends and Mariposans simply want nearly all ordinary people to stop coming to Yosemite altogether, leaving it "protected" from everyone but hikers who are intrepid enough to hike all the way into the area -- dozens of miles -- a trek that would take many days: that's what they mean when they say reject any plan unless it "respects the river and works toward protection."

Here is the basic dichotomy; it's between conservationists and environmentalists:

  • Conservationists want to protect nature for humans;
  • Environmentalists want to protect nature from humans.

The Yosemite park planners are at a loss for what the environmentalists want them to do:

The plaintiffs' reading of the plans stuns park officials and their supporters. Yosemite Superintendent Mike Tollefson says Adair's claims are "so bogus."

"Before the flood, we had twice the number of rooms at the lodge," he said. "Cutting the number of rooms in half is not urbanization. We've lost more than 300 camping spaces. That's not urbanization. We've got a plan to move 600 more employees out of the valley. That's not urbanization. We've got a shuttle system that gets people out of their cars. That's not urbanization."

Yet the environmentalists' position has now been read into law, first by the Ninth Circuit and now by Judge Ishii. At this point, it would seem the only relief for the people of the United States, who might think they had some claim on land set aside especially for them, would have to come from the U.S. Supreme Court. And this is the central issue: to whom does federal land belong? To the people, collectively, of the United States of America? Or to nature-elitists, high priests of the cult of misanthropic environmentalism?

The bizarre coda to this legal danse macabre is that tourism to Yosemite National Park has been declining anyway for many years. According to AP:

In 1996, when the park had a record 4 million visitors, rangers shut gates when all parking spaces were filled. But last year, the nation's third-most popular park hit a 16-year low with 3.36 million visitors.

Park tourism has dropped a worrisome 16% in ten years; and even mainstream conservationist groups (the Wilderness Society, the NRDC, and so forth) approved the Merced River and Yosemite Valley reconstruction plans -- which actually reduce the "urbanization" of the park. Still, the environmentalists evidenly won't be satisfied until the only people who can visit Yosemite are members of Friends of Yosemite Valley or Mariposans for Environmentally Responsible Growth, many of whose members actually live near enough to hike into the area.

This is an astonishing position to take: that the purpose of the National Park System is to protect the wilderness areas from human beings, rather than to afford ordinary people the opportunity to experience nature without having to be mountain men or wilderness scouts. But it fits well with an environmentalist movement that has become less concerned about the full environment (which of course includes human beings) and simply opposed to people, ordinary people, instead.

Sachi has often asked me why, if environmentalists care so much about pollution, they aren't in China and Russia, protesting the massive contamination of water and air. I believe this case is a window into their souls: they're not all that concerned about curing environmental damage in areas where people actually live (especially not in Socialist or quasi-Socialist countries); rather, they want to rescue wild Earth from people altogether... environmentalists see humans themselves as "the problem" that needs to be cured.

Yet another in the seemingly endless chain of contradictions on the Left.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 29, 2007, at the time of 10:53 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 21, 2006

The Glozone Layer

Enviro-Mental Cases , Globaloney Sandwich , Science - Bogus
Hatched by Dafydd

Beginning 28 years ago (starting with Sweden in 1978), the hysterical fear-mongering du jour were a pair of rapidly expanding "holes" in the ozone layer high above the Earth, one above each pole in the stratosphere (10 km to 50 km altitude, or 33,000 feet to 164,000 feet). The ozone holes -- actually, areas of somewhat decreased ozone concentrations, not the absence of ozone -- would let in too much ultraviolate radiation (UVR), which would lead to skin cancer, genetic damage, and the destruction of life on this planet.

The primary culprit for ozone depletion (this is actually correct) was found to be manmade refrigerants, propellants, cleaners, and fire extinguishers, nearly all based upon chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and bromofluorocarbons (BFCs). In an orgy of enviro-mental disorder, virtually every civilized and semi-civilized nation on the planet rushed to eliminate CFCs, substituting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) for the dreaded CFCs.

But now it turns out, with an irony thick enough to spread on a muffin, that the wonderful chemicals we've shifted to using, in order to allow the "ozone holes" to "heal," are themselves very powerful greenhouse gases... and they're significantly contributing to supposedly human-induced global warming:

The chemicals that replaced CFCs are better for the ozone layer, but do little to help global warming. These chemicals, too, act as a reflective layer in the atmosphere that traps heat like a greenhouse.

That effect is at odds with the intent of a second treaty, drawn up in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 by the same countries behind the Montreal pact. In fact, the volume of greenhouse gases created as a result of the Montreal agreement's phaseout of CFCs is two times to three times the amount of global-warming carbon dioxide the Kyoto agreement is supposed to eliminate.

The international association of the perpetually aggrieved now laments the fact that nobody appears to own the earth's atmosphere... hence, there is nobody to be sued:

"But now the question is, who's going to ensure that the replacements are not going to cause global warming?" said Alexander von Bismarck, campaigns director for the Environmental Investigation Agency, a nonprofit watchdog group in London and Washington. "It's shocking that so far nobody's taking responsibility."

"A massive opportunity to help stave off climate change is currently being cast aside," he said.

Environmentalists now demand that those countries that spent themselves into recessions replacing CFCs with HCFCs and HFCs do it all over again, this time substituting for the substitutes:

The U.N. report says the atmosphere could be spared the equivalent of 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions if countries used ammonia, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide or other ozone-friendly chemicals, rather than HCFCs and HFCs, in foams and refrigerants. Such alternatives are more common in Europe.

And of course, most of the international enviromentalist organizations are -- European! What a lucky break for countries of that continent.

Of course, the only other problem (besides prohibitive cost) is that the alternatives don't work very well, if at all. But that's a small price to pay for the priviliege of being on the cutting edge of chemical conscientiousness.

What has always struck me as hilarious is that the folks who are most exercised about global warming nevertheless recoil from the single most effective method of redusing carbon and carbonoid emissions: a massive program to replace all oil- and coal-based powerplants with clean, modern, and safe nuclear fission reactors, using new technologies. As Big Lizards discussed back in December:

But there are many methods of producing energy that do not require burning anything... the most effective of which, in the short-to-medium term (0 to 50 years), are hydroelectric generators and nuclear power plants. Since the former are limited by the number of rivers you're willing to dam (which causes rather significant environmental change, to say the least!), we should probably concentrate on the latter. Recent radically improved technologies for nuclear fission, including Pebble Bed Modular Reactors (gas-cooled) and Integral Fast Reactors (liquid-metal cooled), already exist in prototype but lack either funding or a favorable political climate for wide-scale development.

That last void is courtesy the environmentalist movement, which demands we solve a problem while nixing all possible solutions.

But hey, what do I know? I gloriously wasted my youth studying real mathematics and logic.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 21, 2006, at the time of 4:49 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 26, 2006

Globaloney Slicers

Court Decisions , Enviro-Mental Cases , Globaloney Sandwich , Injudicious Judiciary
Hatched by Dafydd

Although it may seem at first as if the Supreme Court is going to substitute itself for the scientific method in deciding whether anthropogenic global climate change is actually real, it's nowhere near that dire; in fact, this case is a chance for the Court to strike a blow for sanity by clarifying what only it can clarify: whether the executive has a legal duty to solve problems as determined by community leaders -- or just legal jurisdictions and prohibitions set by the Constitution. (Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, 05-1120.)

Spurred by states in a pollution battle with the Bush administration, the court said it would decide whether the Environmental Protection Agency is required under the federal clean air law to treat carbon dioxide from automobiles as a pollutant harmful to health.

The decision could determine how the nation addresses global warming.

Curiously, the AP article never gets around to mentioning exactly what CO2 -- carbon dioxide -- actually is. Besides being emitted from smokestacks and auto exhaust pipes, it is also emitted every time an air-breathing animal exhales.

Evidently, what the states argue is that we should declare the natural exhalation from snakes, rats, monkeys, and human beings -- and even lawyers employed by the plaintiffs -- as a "pollutant" when it's inhaled by a car or a factory, and that the EPA must perforce regulate -- that is, ban -- any releases over a certain amount.

This would indeed be asking the Court to brush science aside and substitute decree. Can this actually be done? Let's not hold our breath.

The EPA said in a statement that the agency "is confident in its decision" not to regulate the chemical under the federal Clean Air Act and plans to argue its case vigorously before the high court.

Recently, Bush told reporters he views global warming as a serious problem and has "a plan to be able to deal with greenhouse gases" short of regulating their use. It includes developing new technologies for cleaner burning coal, using alternative motor fuels such as ethanol as substitutes for gasoline and expanding nuclear power to produce electricity. [All sensible policies even without taking global warming into account. -- the Mgt.]

Critics argue that carbon emissions have continued to increase - though the rate of increase has declined - and only regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will stem the amount going into the atmosphere.

President Bush has a workable plan: the only way to reduce the use of carbon-based fuel is to find an alternative that uses less carbon. (This is not a trick question.)

The states' plan, contrariwise, is to shake a fist and shout at every industry in the United States, confident this will cause emissions to disappear while the economy magically remains constant. By the way, which states in particular do you think might have been involved in this lawsuit?

  • California (9%)
  • Connecticut (10%)
  • Illinois (11%)
  • Maine (9%)
  • Massachusetts (25%)
  • New Jersey (7%)
  • New Mexico (-1% * )
  • New York (19%)
  • Oregon (4%)
  • Rhode Island (21%)
  • Vermont (20%)
  • Washington (7%)

(The number in parentheses is Kerry's margin of victory over Bush in each of these plaintiff-states. * New Mexico actually went for Bush by 1 point; but the governor of New Mexico is former Clinton Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson... and guess who made the decision for New Mexico to join the lawsuit?)

In addition, several cities joined up, including Baltimore, New York City and Washington D.C. (all Democrat, all the time), as well as America Samoa (huh?)

Besides the governmental bodies, other plaintiffs included the Union of Concerned Scientists (they of the "doomsday clock," which is always set closer to midnight whenever a Republican is elected), Greenpeace (who are in the business of sabotaging our military), and Friends of the Earth (say, I wonder where they stand on the political spectrum!)

A more motley looking crew I don't think we'll ever find. Every wild-eyed lefty in America would crawl on his hands and knees though boiling pitch to be a part of the lawsuit to force President Bush to ban carbon dioxide.

The states involved, which together account for more than a third of the car market, say the Clean Air Act makes clear carbon dioxide is a pollutant that should be regulated if it poses a danger to public health and welfare. They argue it does so by causing a warming of the earth.

Reckon they didn't get the memo about calling it "global climate change," not "global warming," so even when the weather is unseasonably cold they can still cite that as evidence.

I haven't reviewed the Act itself; but the EPA has a "Plain English Guide To The Clean Air Act." Under the heading "The Common Air Pollutants (Criteria Air Pollutants)," I find the following air pollutants listed:

  • Ozone
  • VOCs (volatile organic compounds), such as "benzene, toluene, methylene chloride and methyl chloroform"
  • Nitrogen Dioxide
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Particulate Matter (dust, smoke, soot)
  • Sulfur Dioxide
  • Lead

Maybe it's just me, but I don't see carbon dioxide on that list -- and no, you cannot snip the first word off carbon monoxide and combine it with the second word of nitrogen dioxide. In fact, every pollutant on this list except ozone is a polluting additive not normally found in air, something that would be virtually undetectable in the air of A.D. 1000, except perhaps in special areas (such as around a lead mine or in the bubbling cauldrons of Yellowstone National Park).

But... carbon dioxide? That has always been a huge and natural part of our atmosphere. Plants "breathe" it in order to live. Plants actually grow better in a high CO2 environment than in the current atmosphere -- which is not true of any of the actual pollutants listed above.

To call this "air pollution" is to strain the definition to the breaking point. It's ludicrous. Maybe it should be regulated; I don't think so, but let's suppose it should be. Then get Congress to regulate it!

Get them to pass the Excess Exhalation Act of 2006... don't try to shoehorn carbon dioxide into a regulatory scheme that long predates the globaloney panic by calling CO2 "pollution," as if it were some alien matter that somehow snuck into our pristine breathing matter. (If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?)

But more to the point, there is no general legal duty for the executive (or Congress) to solve problems. The Court cannot tell the president that he is obliged to force oil companies to drill for more oil, or that he must resolve the immigration question, or that he has to shift U.S. troops into Jordan in order to guard against a sneak attack from Syria.

Occasionally, the courts will order the executive to act; but that is generally only as a remedy for past misdeeds... such as Brown v. Board of Education, where the executive was ordered to desegregate the schools. The Constitution is silent about the exact level of carbon dioxide that is allowed to be in the earth's atmosphere.

If the Court held that states could sue to force the president to start regulating carbon dioxide, even in the absence of any legal mandate to do so -- and clearly Congress never imagined that what it called "air pollution" would be extended to include exhalation -- just because the plaintiff-states think that would be a better policy, then that would spell the end of our form of government: every state, city, and NGO would sue in federal court to force the White House or Congress to enact specific pieces of legislation that the plaintiffs prefer. That's what we have a Congress for, for heaven's sake: to make such decisions in a democratic manner.

Although it's a logical end-point for a Court that is increasingly narcissistic, I still have confidence that, even if four justices thought this case should be heard (a divided circus-court narrowly held for the administration), the full Court will come down resoundingly against the states in their arrogant lawsuit... and by more than 5-4, too. I'm guessing that both Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice David Souter will rule for the president, and maybe even Justice John Paul Stevens (and of course Justices Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Chief Justice Roberts). I am absolutely convinced this writ of cert is a dead cert.

So I look forward to the Court clarifying that no, neither the states nor Congress can simply dictate to the president how he will do his job. The executive is a co-equal branch of government... not Vermont's errand boy.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 26, 2006, at the time of 11:58 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

June 19, 2006

Erwin Chemerinsky Is All Wet

Constitutional Maunderings , Court Decisions , Enviro-Mental Cases
Hatched by Dafydd

Not being an attorney, I'm not allowed to have much of an opinion on today's Supreme-Court decision in the two linked "wetlands" cases, John A. Rapanos, et ux., et al. v. United States and June Carabell, et al. v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, et al.

However, since I play a "Philadelphia lawyer" on the blog, I will spout off anyway. The Court held that it wouldn't hold anything; well, actually it held only that the lower courts that decided these cases had to rehear them to determine what "nexus" (if any) exists between the wetlands under question and "navigable waterways."

The Court didn't say what it might do with that information once it got it:

  • The four conservative members -- Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas -- said that if the wetlands weren't at least adjacent to navigable waterways (and with a surface connection), then the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) and Congress could not, under the act, regulate them.
  • The four liberal members -- Justices Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg, and Souter -- opined that it wouldn't make any difference if the "wetlands" in question was in fact the sewer system of Long Beach, California; the act gives the ACE power to regulate anything it wants.
  • And alas, the "swing vote," the man with the bidirectional mind, Justice Kennedy, announced that he had no clue how he might rule once he saw the new evidence, nor what he actually thought about anything, nor even whether he would care. In fact, he literally announced that he would simply consult his Magic 7-Ball (he doesn't quite have an 8-Ball). No, seriously.

(I wonder whether Patterico or Dan Kauffman will be first to post a comment demanding to know where exactly in the Kennedy opinion does he "literally" say he will use a Magic 7-Ball...!)

Today, Hugh Hewitt had a special visitation by the "smart guys," which actually means the smart guy and the screaming schemer: John Eastman and Erwin Chemerinsky. Eastman was rational, so let's dismiss him. I want to focus on Chemerinsky.

The case hinges on what, exactly, the Clean Air and Water Act of 1972 regulates -- and secondarily, though I don't think the Court got to this question, what Congress is constitutionally allowed to regulate. But when Hugh asked Chemerinsky what (in his expert legal opinion) could be regulated by the 1972 act, Chemerinsky kept dodging the question, referring only to things where virtually everybody would agree that regulation was necessary. For example, he risibly suggested that under the Scalia approach, all a "polluter" would have to do is put his dirty factory "far enough upstream," and he could then pour anything he wanted into the river.

This of course assumes that there are no state regulations banning such pollution... because actually, all we're talking about here is whether the Army Corps of Engineers could regulate against the wishes of state agencies. The Court was not deciding whether people should be allowed to pollute rivers and streams. In fact, the case wasn't even about pollution but whether land-owners could fill-in man-made drainage ditches and small lakes unconnected with any "waterways."

There is a more urgent question that I wish Hugh had asked, but which evidently didn't occur to him: Mr. Chemerinsky, under your interpretation of the scope of the act -- what kind of wetland wouldn't fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government? Can you imagine any puddle of water anywhere that would be immune from the ACE, if they chose to issue pronouncements about it?

I suspect Chemerinsky would have had a very hard time answering that question... because in fact, everything I have ever heard him say makes me believe that the man is the opposite of a federalist: he is a nationalist (and on many issues, an internationalist). Chemerinsky seems to believe that Congress should have, and indeed does have under the Constitution, authority to mandate, regulate, or forbid any behavior in any state, county, or city anywhere in the country, with no limits whatsoever.

To me, it appears that Chemerinsky desperately wants the federal government to have general police powers over the states and local government; and that that famous list of areas where Congress can regulate, found in the United States Constitution (Article I, §8), is simply a laundry list of suggestions -- not any sort of limitation.

Penultimately, I suspect that Chemerinsky would like to see all power in the hands of the federal government... then ultimately under the control of a single, pan-national congress or parliament made up of the "anointed elites" of all nations. Am I misjudging the man?

In any event, this is a very serious argument. The wetlands in question seem to have no "nexus" to any navigable waterway stronger than the mere fact that we have a water cycle on this planet: water from everywhere gets evaporated by sunshine, then returns to the Earth as rain, falling upon every navigable waterway in the world.

If the standard governing whether a wetlands is covered by the 1972 act is that there exists any nexus at all, including the water cycle -- and if the act applies to these particular wetlands, then that must be the standard -- then Congress has given jurisdiction to the ACE to regulate any water-filled indentation at all... including your backyard swimming pool.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 19, 2006, at the time of 4:42 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 19, 2006

The Perfect Swarm

Energy Woes and Wows , Enviro-Mental Cases , Future of Energy Production
Hatched by Dafydd

Captain Ed has up a fascinating post on an issue near and dear to our reptillian hearts: the future of energy production.

The good captain quotes from an article by Anne Applebaum at the WaPo, as we in “the business” call the Washington Post (actually, I’m not in “the business;” but the Post has given me the business many times). She notes an interesting phenomenon: anti-nuclear, anti-coal, and anti-oil activists appear to have merged and metastisized into generic anti-energy fanatics... so much so that they now attack even alternative sources of energy: solar, biomass or biofuels, indeed everything that could possibly make any physical object move, shake, or create anything.

Even wind power, which used to be the ultimate dream of "environmentalists." Her clever title, "Tilting At Windmills," perfectly encapsulates both the insanity and futility of the New Luddites.

One “wind-power executive” has even coined a new term to describe this rage against the machine -- any machine. Riffing off the well-known “NIMBY” (Not In My Back Yard), the exec calls this new madness BANANAism: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.

It’s a fit acronym, as it no longer seems to matter what sort of energy-producing facility one proposes or where it is to be built; activists will swarm in to attack from all four corners of the globe (in their flat-Earth, “globes” have corners).

Captain Ed, as usual, does a bravura job of covering the substance, those who reflexively oppose any form of generating energy... though he focuses on power generation itself. There are other aspects that also deserve mention: the motivation behind the Luddites, alternative solutions that could be pursued, and of especial interest to Big Lizards, how it all plays out in the electoral arena half a year hence.

So let's dive right in.

Motivation of the BANANAmites

This is actually the easiest question to answer, because it hasn't really changed since dim Ned Ludd was appropriated by the Luddites as a pretext to smash the looms.

Technological advance means change. The prospect of change produces raw terror in many people.

Robert Anton Wilson divides the entire world into neophobes and neophiles; the former, those who fear the new, can become Luddites at the extremes: people who attempt to destroy technology in order to arrest Time. We've all known people who are afraid to touch a computer, for example; every technological advance -- cars, telephones, microwave ovens -- is fought by some of the more extreme neophobes.

However, starting in the late 1960s, the New Left allied itself with the environmentalist movement sparked by such fearmongers as Ralph Nader, Barry Commoner, Rachel Carson, and so forth.

Some of this anti-technology activism was probably driven by a phobic fear of nuclear catastrophe left over from the 1950s... "phobic" because it found expression in irrational ways, such as demanding unconditional American surrender, unilateral disarmament (same thing), or in a wild example from my own alma mater, UC Santa Cruz, student followers of Dr. Helen Caldicott who demanded that the university stock enough suicide pills for the entire student body.

UCSC was supposed to dispense these suicide pills to anyone who asked (student, staff, faculty), in the event some terrible calamity occured that drove simpletons to believe that nuclear attack was imminent -- such as the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 for example (after which, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its "doomsday clock" hands to one minute before midnight). After all, in such a dreaded nuclear exchange, "the survivors would envy the dead!"

But in the late 1960s, the wacko environmentalists lay with the Neo-Stalinist Left of Tom Hayden, Jerry Rubin, and that lot; the fruit of that unnatural congress was a Democratic Party almost pathologically opposed to any new technology. Especially energy production, which the New Environmentalist Left rightly understood to underpin all technology. They turned the planet into a goddess, Gaea/Gaia, and literally began worshipping Her.

(The neopagan movement took off about this same time, ten years or so after Gerald Gardner invented or revived Wicca and around the time the Reformed Druids of North America were formed.)

That is where we're at now: even Democrats who have drifted back towards the center -- after their halcyon university days, when they were screaming in the streets -- are made terribly uncomfortable by even the thought of energy production of any kind. They envision a pastoral Eden, where everyone lives in the back of the woods, and little, furry animals hop up and munch granola out of the Democrats' hands. It is a mythical world where there is no industry at all -- but where the fruits of such industry are omnipresent.

It's all very Randroid, as Ayn Rand described (and decried) in Atlas Shrugged. You should read it; it pretty much covers the whole "motivation" topic better than I can (among other reasons, because even I can't write a 300,000-word blogpost!) Instead, we move on to....

Aggressively high-tech conservationism

While we completely support increased power generation -- pumping more domestic oil, more refineries, more nuclear plants, even such long-term goals as orbital solar-power satellites, which is the ultimate solution -- there is another tack to take while fighting against the New Luddites: that is to aggressively develop methods of dramatic energy savings, using our advanced technological edge over the rest of the world.

We've already been doing this. Computers use far less energy now than they did twenty or thirty years ago. This trend should continue as smaller and smaller chips are used... or even some computing medium other than silicon.

But we need to do the same for larger types of machinery. For example, we've already talked here about switching from the internal combusion engine (both in cars and in electrical generators) to a high-temperature ceramic engine that would burn gasoline at 5,000ºF, rather than the paltry 1,350ºF the typical ICE uses now. That could result in a huge increase in gasoline mileage without any corresponding drop in available power and acceleration. See The Wishing Ring, part 2 and Wanted: High-Efficiency Gasoline Engine X-Prize.

Other techniques include some sort of flywheel to absorb and "store" the forward momentum of a car: as the car brakes, much of the decelerative force comes from spinning up the flywheel, rather than applying brake pads. The linear momentum is transferred to angular momentum, rather than being dissipated as waste heat. When the light turns green and you start out again, much of your acceleration is imparted from the flywheel, spinning it back down again.

The result is to significantly mitigate the gigantic energy loss that occurs in stop-and-go driving, where you just build up a good head of steam (rather, gasoline vapor), and then at the next intersection, you have to throw it all out the window. Tailpipe, whatever; you know what I mean. Less waste means more efficiency; more efficiency means more MPG.

Heat is also wasted in industrial applications. In fact, most heat is waste. Unless the heat is actually used -- to warm food or the consumers thereof, or melt metal, or something -- it's just energy in its most entropic state, energy that could have been used to move, shake, or create.

But heat can be reconverted into useful form (with a loss, of course, but less than 100%). Every factory, power plant, and transportation system should be designed to channel waste heat into some form of power-generating "rebreather"... a gas turbine, say.

We also need much better battery technology. Our current batteries are pathetic. We need batteries that weigh about what a normal car batter weighs, but which could power a vehicle at Ferrari speeds for several hundred miles (however much electricity it would take to do that). That requires fundamental physics breakthroughs in battery technology. Get cracking!

There are many other such ideas floating around:

  • Better jet transport technology;
  • Artificially intelligent cars that drive themselves faster and more efficiently;
  • Star-Trek-like "replicator" technology (which is already in progress) to manufacture material items with less wasted energy -- it takes a lot of energy to melt steel;
  • Shifting more of manufacturing to information -- a really readable, portable electronic book, for example;
  • Nanotechnology, and so forth.

Each of these requires a lot of government investment, or corporate investment with government tax incentives, because the developmental technology is expensive and the projects require years of basic scientific research. So let's pour some money into it.

And that brings us to....

The politics of it all

The rise of BANANAism within the Democratic Party has the potential to hand the election to Republicans on a silver oil-barrel. The basic political formula runs as follows:

  1. Conservative Republicans and pro-energy Democrats caucus together and come up with four or five good ideas for energy production, plus some basic research for aggressive, high-tech conservationism.

For example, increased domestic oil drilling, building more refineries, building modern, safe nuclear power plants, some shale-oil plants -- and specifically exempting these projects from the decades of environmental gridlock that are normally used to obliterate any new power plant.

  1. Republicans need to move them through committee to the floor, even if some have to be sent without recommendation.

We can't let them get bogged down by RINOs; they must go to the floor with all or nearly all the committee Republicans backing them, along with the Republican leadership. Consult with the "dirty dozen," the handful of prominent liberal Republicans and even moderate Democrats who have sometimes approved of power generation or are particularly close to industry. Make it clear this is going to the floor... where it will either be voted on or filibustered by the Democrats.

The House tends to be better about passing controversial legislation than the Senate; the Republicans in the Committee on Energy and Commercehave a six-seat majority; and one of those GOP committee members is Majority Whip Roy Blunt... the man specifically responsible for keeping Republicans in line. Presumably he would be even more effective in that task for his fellow committee members. I think the package could be pushed through committee in the House.

The Republicans on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources have a 12-10 advantage; but in addition, two of the Democrats on that committee are in tough re-election fights this year: Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and appointee Robert Menendez (D-NJ). One or both might join in a vote for energy independence, worried about being tagged as a wacko environmentalist. I think the same package could be pushed through the Senate committee, too.

  1. Then on the floor, every Republican who supports energy production gets up and denounce every Democrat voting against the package as being in thrall to "foreign oil," opposed to American industry, opposed to union workers, and wanting American drivers and consumers to be forced to pay higher prices as a way of forcing conservation by deprivation.

This especially goes for Cantwell and Menendez: if they oppose the energy bill in committee or on the floor, go after them hammer and tong: make them out to be hypocrites and spoilers. Maybe we can defeat one or both at the polls!

Fight hard to get to cloture; but even if a measure (or the whole bill) gets filibustered, that's politically all right too... so long as the ringleaders of the filibuster are clearly seen to be Democrats. We can run against them in November on that very issue.

Remind everyone of the endless gas lines of the 1970s, "odd and even days," and note that the Democrats voting against energy production want to bring those days back.

Make the election about energy production; that's an issue supported by a very healthy majority of Americans. Bring up all the stories showing that the same people who oppose gasoline refineries and nuclear power plants also oppose solar power, geothermal power, and even windmills! (You like how I neatly tied that all up?) Paint them not as "environmentalists" but as people who want America to just dry up and blow away.

And then remind voters of China... which is massively industrializing at the same time these Democrats want America to de-industrialize. Ask the Democrats, "who do you want to be the economic powerhouse of the twenty-first century: America or China?" Ask them how high they want gas prices to rise -- how much of a "tax on driving" is enough? Appeal to teamsters, manufacturers, farmers, and to soccer moms driving the carpool to school.

Make the election about energy, in addition to being about judges and about whether we're going to win in Iraq, or just call off the game and run home, like the Democrats want. Energy is something that hits home to everyone; we all use it, want it, need it. The Republicans must paint the Democrats as the the men standing in the power-plant door, saying "no, you can't have any! Go away!"

It worked in California in 2003 to oust "Grayout" Davis; there is no reason it would not work equally well in 2006. New Environmentalist Leftism is on the wane; it's time we recognized that and made energy production an integral part of the Republican campaigns for 2006 and 2008.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 19, 2006, at the time of 5:22 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 20, 2006

Aliens and Elves Finally Indicted

Enviro-Mental Cases
Hatched by Dafydd

For many years -- under previous administations -- the United States has dithered about eco-terrorism, on the one paw condemning it, but on the other paw being unwilling to label it actual terrorism. But today, the Bush administration dropped the other two paws, coming down firmly on the side of labeling a wolf a wolf and not just a sheep having a bad wool day. The fur -- and indictments -- have finally begun to fly:

WASHINGTON — Eleven people were indicted in a series of arsons, claimed by the radical groups Earth Liberation Front and Animal Liberation Front, in five Western states, the Justice Department said Friday.

The 65-count indictment said the suspects are responsible for 17 incidents in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming, including sabotaging a high-tension power line, in a conspiracy that dates back to 1996. The indictment was returned Thursday by a federal grand jury in Eugene, Ore., and unsealed Friday.

Arson is the favorite tactic of ALF and ELF: whenever they, in their lordly wisdom, decide that some industry, housing complex, or other property is insufficiently respectful of gnatcatchers or banana slugs, or even when they just get mad that we actually build houses out of wood (instead of mud and old tires), they arrogantly burn the place down. Then they brag and smirk on their various websites about their bold "heroism"... secure in the knowledge (now a bit out of date) that nobody is really going to treat them like the terrorists they actually are.

Neither ALF nor ELF is particularly concerned about potential human victims of their fires and tree-spikings; like most enviro-wackos, they love all animals except the hairless bipeds, and their misanthropy is so severe that they're willing to risk killing any number of innocent humans -- folks who had the bad luck to be present when the aliens and elves had one of their fits -- in order to "protect" (in a very patronizing way) some non-sentient animals.

Oddly, they don't even seem concerned that one of their arson fires at, say, a forest ranger station might spread and spark a huge forest fire, killing many of the very animals ALF and ELF pretend to care about. In fact, as typical with terrorists, it's never really about the "cause," whatever that happens to be. The act of terrorism is really all about the terrorist -- his colossal ego, his solipsistic obsession with himself, his total disconnect from the real world and retreat into fantasy and delusions of grandeur.

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in't!

Well, it turns out this administration takes terrorism -- even on behalf of cute, furry little critters -- a heck of a lot more seriously than did the previous two. Surprise, surprise on the Jungle Cruise tonight. Perhaps after a few more rounds of such indictments, resulting in a number of shocked, shocked "heroes" finding themselves locked in cold, cold cells, other teens and young males will find less violent and dangerous ways to act out their little psychodramas.

Scream therapy might be attractive.

(And on a personal note, what offends me more than anything else are the names they chose. Throw the book at 'em!)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 20, 2006, at the time of 4:06 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 9, 2005

More December Hot Air

Enviro-Mental Cases , Science - Bogus
Hatched by Dafydd

In an otherwise tedious and uninteresting Reuters story -- hey, we read these things so you don't have to! -- I stumbled across this perfect example of the lie by omission:

President George W. Bush pulled out of Kyoto in 2001, arguing that mandatory cuts on emissions from fossil fuels would hamper growth and job creation. Washington prefers its own approach to stem global warming, mostly by investing heavily in technology.

Why is this a lie? Because in reality, Bush did not pull out of the Kyoto Protocol -- because we were never in it to begin with.

True, Bill Clinton signed the agreement (rather, Al Gore -- but he was signing on behalf of the president); but he never submitted it to the Senate for ratification, as required by Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution before a treaty can go into effect. Why didn't he? That's an easy one:

On July 25, 1997, before the Kyoto Protocol was to be negotiated, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by a 95–0 vote the Byrd-Hagel Resolution (S. Res. 98), which stated the sense of the Senate was that the United States should not be a signatory to any protocol that did not include binding targets and timetables for developing as well as industrialized nations or "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States". On November 12, 1998, Vice President Al Gore symbolically signed the protocol. Aware of the Senate's view of the protocol, the Clinton Administration never submitted the protocol for ratification.

When George W. Bush became president, he took a look at the signed but never ratified treaty, concluded that the Senate would never ratify it, and simply formalized what was already the de facto situation: that the United States had never officially agreed to the Kyoto Protocol.

Not wanting the onus to fall upon Mr. C., however, Reuters simply omits this part of the story. The closest they come is here:

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who supported Kyoto but failed to convince U.S. lawmakers, will enter the fray on Friday with an appearance on the sidelines of the conference.

I think readers could be forgiven for failing to deduce from this comma-delimited parenthetical remark the actual sequence of events I detailed above. Oh, and here is one more lie by omission; Reuters just seems full of it today -- full of such failures to relate the whole truth, I mean:

Many here had hoped that the United States' resistance would be broken by this year's extreme weather events, particularly Hurricane Katrina's destruction of New Orleans. Scientific evidence suggests global warming might be behind recent devastating weather patterns.

It's possible that some papers submitted to refereed journals here and there might have made such an argument; I can't say for certain that none has. But the reality is that the overwhelming consensus of meteorologists, atmospheric physicists and chemists, and other scientists from relevant disciplines is that global warming has nothing to do with the frequency or intensity of hurricanes -- and that in fact, there was nothing particularly unusual about this year's hurricane season, except that one big one happened to hit a heavily populated area of the United States and kill 1,000 people.

But of course, Reuters simply didn't have room to fit in all of these inconveniently non-fitting facts; besides, that wasn't the story they wanted to tell.

Thus are great nonsense-discoveries made.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 9, 2005, at the time of 1:38 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 5, 2005

Six Billion Chickens Come Home to Roost

Domestic Terrorism , Enviro-Mental Cases
Hatched by Dafydd

Ingrid Newkirk, founder and president-for-life of PETA (People for Eating Tasty Animals the Ethical Treatment of Animals), is well known for saying that the massacre of six million Jews during the Holocaust is nothing compared to six billion chickens barbecued each summer.

But now, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) has extracted from an animal "rights" activist the obvious consequence of that sort of mentally unbalanced, misanthropic floccinaucinihilipilification: an explicit call to "assassinate" human beings in order to save "10 million non-human lives" from medical research.

From Robert Novac's column today (scroll to the bottom):

Sen. James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, at an Oct. 26 hearing drew from an animal rights activist an admission that he advocated murder of medical researchers who performed experiments on animals.

Dr. Jerry Vlasak of North American Animal Liberation was quoted as saying at an animal rights convention: "I don't think you'd have to kill, assassinate too many. I think for five lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, or 10 million non-human lives."

Questioned by Inhofe whether he was "advocating the murder of individuals," Vlasak replied: "I made that statement, and I stand by that statement."

(Ten million non-human lives? What is Jerry "the Pickle" Vlasak counting -- experiments performed on bacteria?)

Well, there you are. Does this really need comment?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 5, 2005, at the time of 9:48 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

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