Patterico's Pontifications

4/24/2014

The High Cost of Energy

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:34 pm

[guest post by Dana]

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Last month, in a bit of horrific news, it was revealed that aborted and miscarried babies were being incinerated as clinical waste to heat hospitals in the United Kingdom. The public outcry prompted officials to review their code of ethics and make sure hospital personnel were properly trained in presenting disposal options to parents.

This week, Oregon found itself in a similar position.

The British Columbia Health Ministry confirmed that biomedical waste is shipped to the U.S. for destruction. Such waste includes “human tissue, such as surgically removed cancerous tissue, amputated limbs, and fetal tissue.”

The biomedical waste is believed to be incinerated at Oregon’s Covanta Marion waste-to-energy facility where 800 tons of medical waste is burned yearly to produce energy. This is the only facility that uses waste to power the grid.

Today, county commissioners approved a move to halt the waste company from receiving fetal tissue to burn. County commissioners claim they were unaware of the practice.

According to commissioner Sam Brentano, the county ordinance that sets the parameters for what can be accepted at the waste-to-energy plant allows for all human tissue.

“No rule or law has been broken, but there’s an ethical standard that’s been broken.

Brentano added,

The county plans to rewrite its ordinance to spell out that no tissue from fetuses can enter the incinerator, and the providers will have to develop a workable system.

Of course, if this medical waste was once just a lentil-sized, brainless embryo or a mindless pre-person, presumably without a soul, what difference does incinerating them make? After all, they would have only grown up to be time-sucking monsters with their constant neediness anyway.

The idea that miscarried and aborted babies could be incinerated to produce energy is mind-boggling. But for those who believe that these were nothing but soulless blobs of tissue and blood, this is not a problem. And some of those people not only have no qualms about this, they might even see it as a unique way to produce energy. Do the math: with the number of abortions performed in the United States alone and approximately 800 tons of “medical waste” burned in a year at just one plant, it might be a lucrative enterprise.

At the end of the day, the hard-edged coldness of this life is wearying. And unfortunately, in this multi-layered sadness we see the most defenseless among us not only prevented from taking their very first breaths, but to our collective shame, they are met with just as much callous disregard in the aftermath. They are no different than an amputated toe. It represents who we are and what we have become. Who we will be remains to be seen.

*Preemptive strike: A baby resulting from rape is not discussed in the post or in the articles.

**Preemptive strike: I believe parents who lose through miscarriage should be given options for disposal of remains and their wishes followed. I think that aborted remains should be treated with the respect they were not accorded in life and be turned over to churches and groups who will bury them in the ground, loving them on the last part of their very limited journey on this earth.

–Dana

Hey, How About Another Bush in the Oval Office?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:42 am

Jeb Bush says he’s thinking of running.

This is likely to start yet another round in the giant match between Establishment Conservatives and Tea Partiers.

Look, I’m not a professional politico, and (like the Republican party, evidently) I have been torn over the years on the proper balance to strike between uncompromising demands and trying to get things done. To the extent I can manage to do so, I am going to try to get out of that business, because I’m not particularly good at it. It’s always satisfying (and easy) for a conservative blogger sitting at his kitchen table to say damn the torpedoes and try for the moon; we don’t have to actually do anything. The problem there: I think it’s stupid to simply hand over the reins of government to the other side for 40 years and let them appoint 9 justices who will shred what’s left of the Constitution. But at the same time, the fiscal problems we have demand action of the sort almost no “regular” politician is likely to take.

Argue it out. Be polite. I’m just going to point out that Business As Usual isn’t going to cut it. And a third Bush sure feels like Business As Usual.

Two (OK, Three) Views on How to Stop Discrimination on the Basis of Race

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:35 am

Sonia Sotomayor:

The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race.

John Roberts:

The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.

I like Roberts’s view better. Especially since “speaking openly and candidly on the subject of race” is nothing more than an invitation to have people revile you and try to get you fired.

You know who likes Sotomayor’s view better? Eric Holder.

MANDATORY HARRUMPHING AND CAVEATS: Yes, there is still racial discrimination in this society. Of all different types, I might add. This is human nature and it will never end.

So the third view — the Patterico view — is this:

The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is . . . you can’t.

The main question is, do we trust government to engage in racial discrimination, as long as some people are convinced it’s for a good end? Me, I’m not.

4/23/2014

Capitalism: Outliving Its Usefulness

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:57 pm

[guest post by Dana]

In case you didn’t know, liberals are on a mission to see capitalism abolished. Apparently it has outlived its usefulness.

Inequality, unemployment, financial crises, and environmental devestation [sic], all point toward one inevitable conclusion: we must get rid of capitalism, once and for all.

Judging by the number of signatures, I think we’ll be able to dodge a bullet. Whew!

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h/t Weasel Zippers

–Dana

First-World Problems for Women

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:29 am

Mollie Hemingway (h/t Allahpundit) compares some of the first-world problems faced by women in America to some other problems women face around the world.

Among the first-world problems include gendered children’s toys. See McDonald’s Gave Me the “Girl’s Toy” With My Happy Meal. So I Went to the CEO:

In the fall of 2008, when I was 11 years old, I wrote to the CEO of McDonald’s and asked him to change the way his stores sold Happy Meals. I expressed my frustration that McDonald’s always asked if my family preferred a “girl toy” or a “boy toy” when we ordered a Happy Meal at the drive-through. My letter asked if it would be legal for McDonald’s “to ask at a job interview whether someone wanted a man’s job or a woman’s job?”

Amanda Marcotte reminds us that getting asked to prom = sexual harassment:

Who can forget the movement to ban the word “bossy”? That was, of course, covered beautifully by our own Dana here. (See? By using the term “our own Dana” I am perpetuating the notion that men own women and their ideas!)

So there are some of your first-world problems. Some of the not-so-first world problems pointed out by Hemingway?

A conservative Daily Show (if such a thing existed, and it should) would send a correspondent to one of these latter places, where folks are committing honor killings and kidnappings, and ask them about, say, the gendered Happy Meal toys. “Yes, I know, girls are getting kidnapped from schools. You already said that. But I’m trying to ask about these Happy Meal toys . . .”

Free tip, guys.

4/22/2014

A Question From Today’s Fourth Amendment Supreme Court Opinion

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:52 pm

Here is an odd passage in Justice Scalia’s dissent today from the opinion (.pdf) allowing a stop based on a (functionally) anonymous call saying a specific vehicle had run the caller off the road. The issue was whether this (functionally) anonymous call provided reasonable cause for the stop. Here is what Justice Scalia says:

The tipster said the truck had “[run her] off the road­ way,” id., at 36a, but the police had no reason to credit that charge and many reasons to doubt it, beginning with the peculiar fact that the accusation was anonymous. “[E]liminating accountability … is ordinarily the very purpose of anonymity.” McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm’n, 514 U. S. 334, 385 (1995) (SCALIA, J., dissenting). The unnamed tipster “can lie with impunity,” J. L., supra, at 275 (KENNEDY, J., concurring). Anonymity is especially suspicious with respect to the call that is the subject of the present case. When does a victim complain to the police about an arguably criminal act (running the victim off the road) without giving his identity, so that he can accuse and testify when the culprit is caught?

Hmmmmmm. Verrrry suspicious. Verrry verrrry suspicious.

Oh: and also, untrue. From Justice Thomas’s opinion:

At the suppression hearing, counsel for petitioners did not dispute that the reporting party identified herself by name in the 911 call recording. Because neither the caller nor the Humboldt County dis­patcher who received the call was present at the hearing, however, the prosecution did not introduce the recording into evidence. The prosecu­tion proceeded to treat the tip as anonymous, and the lower courts followed suit. See 2012 WL 4842651, *6 (Cal. Ct. App., Oct. 12, 2012).

You can “treat” it as anonymous, I suppose, but it wasn’t. Therefore, to argue that the tip is suspicious because the caller oddly refused to give her name seems like a bad argument when . . . the caller did give her name.

How did Scalia miss this? It fairly screams out at the reader.

I realize they are setting rules for other cases, and the holding applies to actually anonymous calls — but that does not justify treating this call as suspicious for the caller’s failure to do something that the caller actually did. Just explain it and explain the rule.

P.S. The rest of Scalia’s opinion is pretty well written.

Breaking Reports: Supreme Court Upholds Michigan Ban on Affirmative Action

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:24 am

It’s little more than one-line breaking reports right now:

Supreme Court upholds Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions.

I’m about to leave for work, but here’s your thread to discuss the case as the details are fleshed out.

UPDATE: Opinion here (.pdf).

UPDATE x2: If an opinion makes hash of the law; if it refuses to overrule clearly bad precedents; if it seeks to harmonize irreconcilable positions with high-minded and impossible-to-understand verbiage . . . then it was written by Justice Kennedy.

I concur, as does Justice Thomas in this case, with Justice Scalia.

Is Conor Friedersdorf Calling for the Impeachment of Barack Obama?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:22 am

Conor Friedersdorf:

In a secret test of mass surveillance technology, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sent a civilian aircraft* over Compton, California, capturing high-resolution video of everything that happened inside that 10-square-mile municipality.

Compton residents weren’t told about the spying, which happened in 2012. “We literally watched all of Compton during the times that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people,” Ross McNutt of Persistence Surveillance Systems told the Center for Investigative Reporting, which unearthed and did the first reporting on this important story. The technology he’s trying to sell to police departments all over America can stay aloft for up to six hours. Like Google Earth, it enables police to zoom in on certain areas. And like TiVo, it permits them to rewind, so that they can look back and see what happened anywhere they weren’t watching in real time.

Friedersdorf says: that’s a firing.

Sgt. Douglas Iketani acknowledges that his agency hid the experiment to avoid public opposition. “This system was kind of kept confidential from everybody in the public,”he said. “A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother, so to mitigate those kinds of complaints we basically kept it pretty hush hush.” That attitude ought to get a public employee summarily terminated.

Summarily terminated, you say? OK. Let’s work with that logic for a moment.

There is undoubtedly some loss of privacy when a camera is able to record and play back all of your public movements. I think there’s a greater loss of privacy when the federal government can read my email. After all, a person’s movements in public are still public. You can be surveilled while you’re in public. While one does not expect to have all those movements tracked by technology, one still recognizes that the actions are public. By contrast, most people still think of their email as private.

But a lot of people do have a problem with their email being read — the Big Brother thing, you know — so to mitigate those kind of complaints, Barack Obama basically kept it pretty hush hush.

Should that get Obama summarily terminated?

Is Friedersdorf calling for the impeachment of Barack Obama?

4/21/2014

What Intimidation?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:10 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Giving unions more power – even the power to intimidate at one’s home,

The Obama administration is poised to change regulations to allow for union “ambush elections” in which workers have less time to decide whether or not to join a union — and in which workers’ phone numbers and home addresses are provided to unions.

The administration’s National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) proposed rules would allow for union elections — in which workers at a company vote whether or not to unionize — to be held 10 days after a petition is filed. And what, exactly, would be happening to the unions during those 10 days? The new rules require employers to disclose workers’ personal information, including phone numbers, home addresses, and information about when they work their shifts.

Workforce Fairness Institute spokesman Fred Wszolek points out the troubling obvious: [I]f you’re going to give access to unions any personal email addresses a company has, fine. But let’s protect the privacy of workers by no longer requiring companies to give to the union the home addresses of workers. It’s very hard to intimidate or coerce a worker by email. But it’s much easier to intimidate or coerce a worker when you’re standing on their doorstep.

Of course, union members showing up on an employee’s porch to intimidate is nothing new.

This poses several questions:

-Do employees have an expectation of privacy once their shifts end and they are back in their personal homes and lives?

-Understanding that employers are required to provide such information, *if* they refuse, based on the employee’s wishes, what penalties can they face?

-What recourse does an employer and employee have in light of being compelled to release said information?

–Dana

Bills Before Congress

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:04 pm

[guest post by Dana]

During every congressional session, a plethora of bills are introduced for passage. Here are a few of the more unique ones. Even if bills don’t pass, sponsors and their causes will receive attention during the session. In reading several on the list, one can’t help think that too many congresspeople have far too much time on their hands.

Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act: Would establish the Apollo Lunar Landing Sites National Historical Park on the moon. – Chief sponsor Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.)

Read the Bills Act: Would require legislation to be posted online one week before it comes up for a vote. The House version, sponsored by two Republicans, would exempt declarations of war. The Senate version, sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), would require that lawmakers sign an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, attesting that they “attentively” read the measure or were present throughout the entire reading. They do not have to sign the affidavit if they vote against the bill. – House Bill’s chief sponsor Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.)

Department of Peacebuilding Act: Would establish a Cabinet-level federal department, headed by the secretary of Peacebuilding, dedicated to reducing violence domestically and internationally. – Chief Sponsor Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland)

(The idea of a Department of Peace had been championed for more than a decade by then-Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio).

District of Columbia-Maryland Reunion Act: Would address the District of Columbia’s long-standing grievance over lack of representation in Congress by turning over the district to Maryland except for a “National Capital Service Area” that includes the Capitol, the White House and monuments on the National Mall.

SPA Act: Would prohibit the operation of the House gym during a government shutdown. The Shutdown Prioritization Act was introduced during the 16-day federal government shutdown in October.

Arguments for the bills and their current status can be read at the link.

–Dana

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