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OpenMarket: July 2007

  • Is false advertising truthful if it is stupendously false?

    July 13, 2007
    What prompts this question is a full-page advertisement in today's (July 11, 2007) Wall Street Journal by BASF, "The Chemical Company." The ad features a big yellow ear of corn, smack dab in the middle of a mostly blank page, with a caption in bold letters underneath: "48 miles per kernel." This is so far from the truth -- it takes about 450 lbs. of corn to make enough fuel to fill up the 25-gallon tank of an SUV -- that I suppose BSAF could say, if accused of false advertising, "just kidding." But is that being straight with the public? At the bottom of the page, the ad says, "Learn more at basf.com/stories." So I visited the site. There's not even an estimate of miles per bushel of corn or per gallon of ethanol. Rather, the...
  • Attorneys General: Corruption By Contingency Fee

    July 13, 2007
    Adam Liptak of The New York Times recently wrote about the increasing practice by state attorneys general of hiring trial lawyers to bring lawsuits on behalf of the state in exchange for a big share of whatever is recovered in such lawsuits. As he noted, giving trial lawyers a share of the loot raises serious due process and separation-of-powers issues, and has been deemed illegal by some state courts. It also results in corruption, noted former Alabama attorney general (and now federal judge) Bill Pryor, in a speech quoted by Liptak. I earlier wrote about how this practice promotes corruption, violates the law, and makes the political cronies of state attorneys general fabulously wealthy, in the Issue Analysis, "The Nation's Top...
  • Hate Crimes Bill is Back

    July 13, 2007
    Earlier, I wrote about how the federal hate crimes bill contains provisions that would undermine protections against double-jeopardy and constitutional federalism safeguards (see here, here, here, here, and here). The hate crimes bill passed the House, but the President's advisors recommended he veto it on federalism grounds. The bill's supporters can't muster the two-thirds vote needed to override a presidential veto, so it looked like the bill might...
  • A message from the President of the American Council on Renewable Energy

    July 13, 2007
    A few days ago, our colleague Dr. Marlo Lewis had a column over at The American Spectator on the current debate in Congress over climate issues. This morning he received the following message (I have edited one character):
    Marlo — You are so full of cr*p. You have been proven wrong. The entire world has proven you wrong. You are the last guy on Earth to get it. Take this warning from me, Marlo. It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on. Mike Michael T. Eckhart...
  • Less reliable than Old Ben's Almanack?

    July 12, 2007
    Tim Worstall has a very interesting post over at the Adam Smith Institute blog on the validity of those temperature projections that get the IPCC so much publicity and which form the basis for all the alarmism that we hear. Two researchers who literally wrote the book on scientific forecasting have looked at the IPCC's methodology. Tim's post is worth quoting at length:
    The essential point is that to be valid, forecasts must be more than just the expression of the scientists' thoughts or hunches, however dressed up they are in mathematics. There are so many points in climate models where judgement must be used (for the details of many processes are as yet unknown) that it is arguable whether these models are in fact "scientific forecasts" rather than simply...
  • A Second Look at Second Life Analogies

    July 12, 2007
    My letter to the Washington Post regarding Michael Gerson's "Where the Avatars Roam," which appeared in the Post last week:
    Michael Gerson's July 6 piece "Where the Avatars Roam" shows that his understanding of libertarianism isn't nearly as deep as his understanding of online games.

    Mr. Gerson describes Second Life as "large-scale experiment in libertarianism," citing the game's lack of community structure and long-term consequences.  He describes this "libertarian" world as one in which there is not human nature, only human choices.

    This doesn't describe a libertarian world, but one of fantasy.  Libertarianism, as envisioned by the founding fathers or Friedrich Hayek, is predicated on an understanding of the world that's...
  • Historic buildings vs. enviro-think

    July 12, 2007
    In today's Wall Street Journal, an interesting article (reg. req'd.) on the collision between building preservation and enviro-think. Seems that people who move into regulated developments or historic districts aren't often allowed to cover their homes in solar panels or install modern-looking windows. Mount Vernon re-designed with solar panels, anyone? Didn't think so. I'd say this is a good thing - at least with respect to historic buildings. Presumably people who buy an antique home are a) aware if it comes with restrictions on altering the structure and b) chose the home because of its age. You know, does anyone accidentally buy a Victorian house when they'd be equally happy in a hulking modern monstrosity with brick...
  • Delegated democracy?

    July 12, 2007
    Paul Chesser of North Carolina's John Locke Foundation has a useful article in today's Washington Times about how one advocacy group, funded by leftist foundations, is taking over state policy decision-making on global warming:
    What does a state get? A process in which the conclusion is pretty much determined from the outset. CCS arrives at "stakeholder" meetings with all the rules and voting procedures in place. They have a prepared list of dozens of options to be considered for recommendation by the governor-appointed stakeholder group. No cost-benefit analysis is provided for any of the options — instead CCS supplies numbers that highlight the benefits in amount of greenhouse gases reduced, rather than their actual effect on the...
  • They Can Have My Maserati When They Pry My Cold, Dead Hands off the Steering Wheel

    July 12, 2007
    Bloomberg's Doron Levin presents a sad vision of Europe's future - one in which high-performance sports cars are a thing of the past:
    If one of the more extreme responses to global warming comes true, driving a sports car anywhere but on a racetrack might be relegated to history's dustbin. Fast, powerful cars within a few years may be outlawed in Europe, an idea that has been raised ostensibly because Ferraris and Porsches produce too much carbon dioxide. For those who abhor sports cars as vulgar symbols of affluence (along with vacation homes, furs and fancy jewelry), such a ban could be a two-fer: Saving the planet while cutting economic inequality.
    ...
  • When "plenty of attitude" is a good thing

    July 11, 2007
    Everyone likes getting compliments every once in a while, and we at CEI are no different in that regard, so we consider CNNMoney.com' s capsule review of CEI's website high praise indeed:
    The Competitive Enterprise Institute. This non-profit "dedicated to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government" has lots of information, with plenty of attitude, about examples of excessive regulations. Tax- and bureaucracy-haters will love this site.
    And we hope to make more "tax- and bureaucracy-haters" out there.

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