The View From 1776

Judicial Excess On The Left

Read the article in National Journal by Stuart Taylor, a moderately left-of-center legal analyst.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/23 at 01:18 AM
  1. In Mr. Brewton's view, Stuart Taylor may be "moderately left-of-center," but in the article posted, he appears to be as far out in right field as Al Kaline was when he patrolled it for the Detroit Tigers.

    The article was a defense of the court's decision to allow the Navy to train with ultra-heavy sonar at the expense of the whales. Score one for the Navy.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  02:42 PM
  2. 'Protecting' whales over sailors? That's right-wing? Personally, I'm surprised there are any whales left after the last war. How could they survive that if sonar is killing them now? If common sense is now right-wing and psuedo-science is now a justiciable cause on the left then a case can be made that contemporary 'liberalism' is a form of insanity. I've got the 'science' to prove it. That kind of 'science' is bunk, of course, but it's no worse than this sonar stuff or man-made global warming. left-wing activists don't seem to realize that the basis for their activism as an approach to modifying fundamental law can be used against them if the nuts on the other side ever get power. Not to worry my fevered friends, the 'originalists', if there are any left, will save you from yourselves.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/24  at  11:21 AM
  3. Tom C.

    The reason I said Taylor's piece had a rightward tilt, was due to his comments on the positions of the existing supreme court justices, -- not because of the sonar decision per se.

    The reason there is concern about the whales is that the sonar being tested if far more powerful than that used during the last war.

    I hope you are not saying that all science is bunk. Or perhaps it is only the science whose implications you disagree with which is bunk?
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/24  at  01:14 PM
  4. Much of what is called science is nothing of the kind. Unfalsiable theories. Experiments which cannot be replicated. The misuse of statistics among the 'social sciences', etc., etc., have been given the mantle of science by certain groups some of whom have an interest in maintaining lies for power and self-interest. Passing legislation or searching for the imprimatur of the courts based on such nonsense is a problem. A huge problem. The scientific method provides the framework for understanding what is knowable and what is not. The country is about to embark on the huge boondoggle of taxing and spending in the name of fighting 'climate change' based on nothing but fear as well as epistemological and scientific ignorance. One cannot disagree with truth and be sane. Understanding that which approaches the truth or is in fact true is the trick. How do we know what we think we know if not through an understanding of the scientific method? A consensus based on ignorance? Fear? That is not science but a metaphysical belief system which, like a church, has no place utilizing the coercive power of the state.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/24  at  01:41 PM
  5. Tom C.

    I agree with most of what you eloquently say.

    Perhaps where we diverge is the relationship between "science" and "truth."

    In my view, science leads to an understanding of how the world functions by devising models that explain the physical behavior of the cosmos. But science rarely leads to a free-standing statement of "truth," mainly, because all scientific models are subject to refinement. At one point, scientists "knew" the earth was flat. Later, scientists came to be "certain" that it was spherical. More recent measurements indicate that it is rather more "pear-shaped"! So, in science, we never really arrive at anything like "Truth."

    In your example, global warming has been studied extensively and it is an incredibly complicated subject not easily reduced to simple terms. The fact of "global warming" appears no longer to be in dispute (except by a few talk show hosts of limited education.) The "cause" is obviously a combination of thousands of inputs. Determining whether man's activities contribute 0%, 10%, 50% or 90% to the effect will take much more study.

    The problem we face is that if we wait until the consensus broadens on what fraction is man's responsibility before taking any action, it may be too late to do anything to reduce the effects.

    My personal reading of the data has led me to two depressing conclusions:

    1) Man's activities are contributing substantially to the warming effect.

    2) Unless we are willing to reduce world population, no amount of engineering tricks or taxes will reduce man's effects, and virtually nobody (not even the hated liberals) is willing even to discuss population stabilization, let alone reduction over the long term.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/24  at  03:20 PM
  6. My reading of the data leads to the opposite conclusions. Human beings have intelligence. All problems have solutions if that intelligence is utilized. The more the merrier. Nightmare scenarios are a waste of time excepting campfire stories and childrens books. The universe moves at it's own pace. We are part of nature, not it's enemy. We are not gods. Silly theories based on bad data hiding behind an agenda no less, should be ignored if not fought. Such are worthy of ridicule at best.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/24  at  04:50 PM
  7. Al Kaline covered 90% of his assigned field and did an excellent job of it. Global warming, as a problem for this generation to solve, is much like the 10% of challenges that Kaline didn't bother with: It is far better to deal with immediate serious problems that one might have a chance of solving than worry about those you can't

    If our leaders dealt with the many pressing problems facing America as well as Kaline dealt with the 90% of the field he could cover, we could look forward positively to a prosperous future. Kaline knew the difference. We don't seem to get it. The current concentration on diversity, gay rights, ozone holes, spotted owls, and the future of whales, while popular and emotion-grabbing topics, only serve to avoid the real issues facing America.

    Priority should be given the tough and immediate problems like the deficit, corrupt campaign financing, soaring entitlements, a failed public school system, and the approaching bankruptcy of social security and health care coverage. If these are not satisfactorily resolved, our grandchildren will not be overly concerned with the well-being of whales, or any suspected but gradual climate changes--they will be too busy struggling to find food and a moment of freedom from whatever tyranny rules over them.
    Posted by bill greene  on  11/24  at  05:06 PM
  8. Bill,
    Your Kaline references are appreciated but I must disagree with you on judging the relative dangers posed by our current economic mess, versus the dangers posed by ignoring the larger issues of planetary health.

    Tom C. blissfully believes that population can grow infinitely with no effect on the planet ("The more the merrier.") I am sure, if he gave this a little thought, he would realize that, say, 100 billion people could not exist on the planet with anything approaching comfort.

    Whereas I believe that we are rapidly approaching the point where more mouths to feed will degrade the quality of life for all, a condition that will occur much before we approach 100 billion.

    All the items you mention (deficit, economy, health care, etc.) are of course vitally important in the short run. But in the long run, they are all trivial if there is nothing but desert, drought, famine, disease, war, pestilence, piracy, etc running amok the world over.

    We must be smart enough to worry about both the penny ante immediate issues of the economy and guarding our liberty, but also take the long view and be sure that we do not destroy the planet because we are too short sighted to see the forest for the trees.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/28  at  02:19 PM
  9. J. J. -- Are you actually a card-carrying Malthusian, advocating an ideology that has been proven wrong ever since 1798 when Malthus published his theory? He in fact claimed that our standard of living could never be raised above subsistence level because a nation's population always grows more rapidly than food supplies. Since that time, inspite of rapid population growth, most nations' people are eating more and living better than ever before.

    America's farmers helped lead the way--while in 1798 it took about 70% of the workforce to feed the nation, today it requires less than 5%. Productivity gains and the genius of farm producers reduced the problem of food supply to a minimal issue. Go into your local supermarket and see for yourself the incredible array of foodstuffs available to all. And this technology is spreading all over the world wherever indiviuals are free to use it.

    Refer to Julian Simon's books where he effectively refutes the "doomsters" predictions. He illustrates how throughout history sufficient natural resources have been made available by hard-working populations regardless of natural endowment.

    The only truly essential natural resource is human imagination and human enterprise. That is what has always found a way to overcome shortages. But such success has occurred primarily in only those societies where the people are free and empowered to innovate. Our biggest danger is that the naysayers will gain control of our governments by using Malthusian scare tactics and impose such oppressive central planning agendas that such innovation will cease. Then we will really go hungry!

    The reason Al Kaline could cover 90% of any right field ever built was that there were no governmental regulations over his footwear and glove, no regulation or impediment to his employment of his skills, and no coaches telling him over and over that he just couldn't do it.

    Now, you do have a point that to be "comfortable," traditionalists like myself like a lot of space. However, recent generations seem to enjoy wedging themselves into crowded condo units and malls. That approaches the Japanese model, a population density that I believe would allow ten times the existing world population to fit into Alaska! And it works for many people.

    But the key point is, assuming it was a worthy goal, how would you go about reducing or stabilizing the world population ? I don't believe anyone has a good answer for that. Such social engineering would have to be on such a massive, intrusive, and global scale that no one would remain free.

    And if there is no reasonable answer on how to reduce population, then an aphorism attributed to Golda Meier is relevant: "if you can't solve it, it is no longer a problem to be solved, but a fact to be lived with."
    Posted by bill greene  on  11/28  at  04:13 PM
  10. Thanks for responding thoughtfully, Bill. I do not believe the population problem is unsolvable, but to come up with solutions that that are moral and equitable, we have to as a minimum begin by agreeing that at some level of population (you pick the number) quality of life begins to degrade. We have not even gotten to that point.

    Malthus's predictions were inaccurate in time scale, but his basic point remains valid that the population cannot grow infinitely without exceeding the available resources.

    We are seeing many effects of excess population already (desertification in Africa, competition for water in our south, exhaustion of easily obtained petroleum - on which much agriculture depends for fertilizer). The green revolution which, as you point out, allows fewer farmers to grow more crops is largely petroleum dependent. When oil gets more scarce (and it, like all things that are consumed), will run out in the near term.

    The Japanese density is unpalatable for most westerners, and survival at that density is, of course, predicated on imports of food from other less dense areas -- so that density cannot be used as a general model -- you cannot expect to use farm land for cities and still grow food.

    Reduction in population does not need to a sudden or catastrophic thing if we can rationally begin to do it soon. With public awareness, a few percentage points difference in fertility can make the difference.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/01  at  11:48 AM
  11. Jay, you ducked the question: In your paragraph one you say you need a figure--So, pick one, any one, and tell me how you would somehow get the world's population to remain below that figure. It is intellectually irresponsible to promote a vague concept or goal without detailing specific and reasonable ways of achieving same.

    Your second para says Malthus's claims may not have come true in the past 210 years but will someday. I can say, with equally insufficient evidence, that so will the Second Coming, and that Jesus will take care of everything! The Yankees might even win a World Series, although there is absolutely no reason after 2008 to believe that. And, besides, you give no logical explanation why, if every threatened shortage has been overcome for 210 years, why won't that success continue ?

    Your third and fourth paras fall back on the old saw that we will run out of oil. In the 1970's the experts gave us 10 years, now they are suggesting a 30 year supply, tops! But we are already producing from shale and coal of which there is an almost unlimited North American suppy. When oil gets truly scarce, and the price gets to $4-5 per gallon, the solutions and substitutes will be everywhere. And its price increase over my lifetime will still be below the inflation of almost everything else we buy. Hooray for Big Oil, and the other future suppliers of alternative energy.

    Your 4th para suggests that the millions of New York City residents are just as crazy as the Japanese for living like they do. On that we both agree, but apparently it IS desirable to many. They LOVE NEW YORK ! And besides, city people will not need a lot of farm land anyway--hydroponics (sp?) allows vast food production from jugs of water and chemicals--visit Epcot and see the future.

    Our scientists and technical people will solve all those problems with new methods, discoveries we cannot imagine, and innovations that will surpass all prior advances. That is, they will if we keep regulators, central planners and government subsidies off their back. Government "direction" or subsidies on energy will produce only more Ethanol and Fannie Mae disasters-- leading true innovators along false paths, rewarding failure, and diverting attention from sound alternative solutions.

    In your last para you again avoid producing a real answer by suggesting that some very gradual process may reduce population. (Very vague--a D on a school paper)That is what I call wishful thinking. Anyway, it has already occurred in some places. This was a big issue thirty to forty years ago and in China and India they limited family size by decree, resulting in a lot of female infanticide, and a lower birth rate. But still no negative rate.

    The "enlighteed" Europeans voluntarily reduced births below replacement levels and they are being inundated by Middle Eastern and Asian immigrants. Muslims could well take over most of Europe in another couple generations. Similarly, Americans need vast numbers of Immigrants, legal or not, to do the work Americans are not willing to do! Your goal does not face up to these problems of disparate rates of population growth and the impact on national identities.

    Because I sympathize with the "crowdedness" issue, which is, I assert, one of simple aethetics, not survival, I would like others to have less children--but not me! I don't know your personal preferences, but I cannot in good conscience promote a policy for others (one child or less per couple) that I would not want to adhere to myself.

    I foresee a tragic future in places like Italy, where your goal of a declining birth rate has been best attained: in another generation or two, no one there will have a brother or sister, a single cousin, or an aunt or uncle. They will have less than one grand-child each.

    Your scenario means that every new babe will come into the world with no family but his parents. When the parents die, their child will not have a single relative. I don't want that for my descendants. It would, however, be fine for yours and others because that would make more room for mine. But, I sense that any solution you may come up with would be enforced by some bureaucracy on all law abiding citizens so that your future world would belong to the descendants of the most prolific and lawless.
    Posted by bill greene  on  12/01  at  07:45 PM
  12. Bill,

    I suspect you are so entrenched into your positions that it would do little good for me to spend hours trying to get you to see the light. But if I restate your views, is there a chance you might see that in some respects they lack rigor?

    As I understand your views:

    1) Population growth will never be a problem because there are infinite resources available.

    2) It is irresponsible to point out a problem unless you have the solution to remedy it. (By this logic, it was irresponsible to talk about cancer or aids before there were treatments for these diseases.)

    3) We can fill the entire world with people to New York City and Tokyo densities because we can use hydroponics to grow tomatoes on roof tops.

    4) We do not need to be concerned about resource issues because "scientists" can solve any problem that arises with technology -- as long as big government gets out of the way.

    5) We do not need to shift from a petroleum-based economy because we can easily extract oil from the tar sands of Canada.

    6) Solving problems by changing fertility rates "gradually" is invalid because doing anything gradually is "wishful thinking."

    7) Lower birth rates in Europe are not "good" because this caused foreigners from overcrowded and undeveloped areas of the world to immigrate into Europe.

    8) Declining birth rates are unacceptable because children are miserable unless they have siblings. And without siblings, when your parents die, you are bound to be lonely and miserable.

    9) Any solution to the alleged problem of excess population is necessarily going to be brutally enforced by a cabal of evil forces, (probably by men with pencil-thin mustaches and sinister laughs).

    Am I misstating your positions? Am I being unfair?
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/03  at  06:35 PM
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