Monday, May 24, 2004

Enjoying my break . . .

I've obviously been taking a much needed vacation from blogging. After all, all work and no play makes Jack a big loser, and we don't want that.

I did see this in the Washington Post today while riding the Metro:

Like Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network [Metro, May 14], I favor alternative sources of energy, especially for this region.

But before we jump on the wind-power bandwagon and beat our chests about how green we are, let's look at the bigger picture.

These massive wind towers -- as tall as 380 feet -- require a constant wind source, so many are being built along the ridges of the Eastern mountain ranges.

These mountain ranges are used by migratory birds, especially eagles, hawks and falcons. Studies have shown that these birds are at risk when migrating through a wind farm.

It is ironic that this agreement was reached about the time of International Migratory Bird Day, an annual day -- May 8 this year -- when we celebrate the amazing feats of these birds.

In a time when bird populations have suffered huge declines from West Nile virus and habitat destruction, we need to reexamine wind power and the ramifications of the criteria used to permit these power plants.



The writer is the owner of the Wild Bird Center in Rockville.
The environmentalists hate nuclear power, they hate hydro power, and now they even hate wind power. Perhaps what they really hate is not a paticular genus of power but the entire species.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Antitrust News: Looters' Paradise

Oh, savor the delicious irony (Hit tip to How Appealing):

Poor Lloyd Constantine.

The New York lawyer should still be celebrating last May's $3 billion settlement of a landmark case against Visa USA Inc. and MasterCard International Inc., one of the largest antitrust awards in U.S. history. Mr. Constantine represented retailers, led by Wal-Mart Stores Inc., that sued the card companies for forcing stores that accept credit cards to pay surcharges to accept debit cards. His firm, Constantine & Partners, requested fees of roughly $600 million.

But almost a year later, instead of savoring victory, Constantine & Partners is having trouble getting paid. A handful of lawyers known as "objectors" have swooped down on Mr. Constantine's case. Objectors are attorneys who earn fees by challenging settlements, usually arguing to lower the fees requested by other attorneys in successful class-action settlements. [WSJ]
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn’t there this novel in which the looters who destroy America’s producers get looted themselves??? I think there was a lot of speeches and philosophy in it too . . .

Thursday, May 06, 2004

The Culture: Soft on Character?

This just in from John Bragg on my "soft of communism" post:

I emailed Prof. Volokh:

"Would you make the same statement about Nazis, al-Qaedists, Klansmen? The logic of your position seems to demand it." He replied: Sure; I wouldn't fire a postman just because he's a Klansman, and the Supreme Court's caselaw would be on my side in this, see, e.g., U.S. v. Robel; Elrod v. Burns.

So, Volokh is not soft on Communists, he is a First Amendment scholar.
In Elrod v. Burns, the US Supreme Court held that the Democratic Sheriff of Cook County, Ill., had violated the constitutional rights of non-civil-service employees by discharging them "because they did not support and were not members of the Democratic Party and had failed to obtain the sponsorship of one of its leaders". In US v. Robel, the Court held that a law barring members of the Communist party from “engage[ing] in any employment in any defense facility" to be unconstitutional.

I agree with the Court’s decision the first case. A government officer does not have the right to coerce membership or support for a political organization as a condition of employment.

The second case is more complex. In US v. Robel, the court held that a ban on communists from working at government facilities was “an unconstitutional abridgment of the right of association protected by the First Amendment.” The law in question was politically controversial and was passed over President Truman’s veto. In its decision, the Court quotes Truman as saying "the language of the bill is so broad and vague that it might well result in penalizing the legitimate activities of people who are not Communists at all, but loyal citizens."

Yet in rendering its decision, the Court did not contemplate situations where a person’s philosophy would be so irrational and so abhorrent that it would preclude them from being employed by the government. Membership in the Klu Klux Klan is based on the philosophy of racial collectivism—the view that one’s racial group is the fount of all truth and justice— and the desire to implement that philosophy nation-wide. If that is a person’s view, how can they be trusted to be just with coworkers of different races, or with the public? Taken literally, the Court precludes the government from contemplating a person’s character and actions in is its hiring and firing for anything other then the most concrete-bound issues. The government may fire Jones for stealing pens, but not for being an active advocate for the institutionalized theft between the classes as a member of the Communist Party.

The difficulty in judging these cases rests in divining the line between the an individual’s right to hold ideas free from coercion and the responsibility he bears when he acts upon wicked or vicious ideas. Life requires the freedom to think without shackles—yet this freedom does not excuse one from bearing the responsibility for his corrupt actions. Agreement with racial and social collectivism is outside the bounds of honest disagreement. Membership in an organization dedicated to the advancement of these ideals indicates a serious moral breach, and takes one from merely holding a wrong idea to acting upon it. Those who seek to implement vicious ideas have no right to demand that other men deal with them, or that a government dedicated to protecting individual rights provide them with job opportunities.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Short Break

With finals and all, I'm taking a short break from blogging, probably until next Thursday. See you all then!