Palin and Abortion

As usual, the right misses the point when it comes to abortion:

I saw a concerted effort by the media to marginalize her as a far right winger, out of touch with moderate and pro-choice women.  This is unfair to her, and to all of us who respect her admirable decision to carry to term a child diagnosed in utero with Down’s Syndrome.  It’s been noted here that 90 percent of parents who receive the news that their child will be born with this disability choose to terminate.  Governor Palin put her principles into practice.  And as a pro-choicer, I can say with sincerity that I admire her act of character and love.

As can we all. What provokes rather more controversy, however, is the assumption that people who believe as Palin does have the right to impose their views on the other 90 percent of America.

Backbone Growth

Also from the New York Times, an interesting piece about how other countries are trying to build Internet backbone infrastructure to bypass the US. Even amongst our allies, there’s worry about how a US-dominated net would expose information:

“Since passage of the Patriot Act, many companies based outside of the United States have been reluctant to store client information in the U.S.,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. “There is an ongoing concern that U.S. intelligence agencies will gather this information without legal process. There is particular sensitivity about access to financial information as well as communications and Internet traffic that goes through U.S. switches.”

The Grid’s the Thing

The New York Times identifies a key barrier to exploiting renewable energy: the fractured state of America’s transmission grid. Eventually, Congress may have to invoke its power to regulate interstate commerce to sort things out:

Politicians in Washington have long known about the grid’s limitations but have made scant headway in solving them. They are reluctant to trample the prerogatives of state governments, which have traditionally exercised authority over the grid and have little incentive to push improvements that would benefit neighboring states.

Appealing No-Fly

The Ninth Circuit says a Malaysian woman can appeal her placement on the FBI’s no-fly list. Timothy Lee at Ars Technica applauds:

If the FBI or TSA genuinely suspected that Ibrahim was a terrorist, they should have been actively investigating her and preparing to arrest her; as a Stanford student, she can’t have been hard to track down. If she wasn’t a terrorist — and by all indications, she’s wasn’t — then harassing her at the airport is a gratuitous infringement of her civil liberties. The no-fly list allows federal officials to act like they’re “doing something” about terrorism without taking responsibility for actually investigating and charging terrorism suspects.

The Perils of History

Eric Muller of the UNC School of Law has published a well-noticed new paper arguing that Department of Justice lawyers exaggerated the threat of a Japanese invasion to secure a Supreme Court decision upholding actions against Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast. He notes, correctly, that key military leaders like Eisenhower (then a staffer in Washington) thought the risk of invasion was non-existent even as they conceded the possibility of small, inconsequential raids. Muller finds in the willingness of civilian leaders like Henry Stimson, the secretary of war, to nonetheless believe in the possibility evidence of nothing more than racism:

There is no reason to think that Edward Ennis and Philip Burling preached or even consciously entertained the rabid depictions of the Asian horde that marked the Yellow Peril era.  But this account of the early-century zeitgeist is what makes Henry Stimson’s February 1942 diary entry so revealing of a turn of thought that may have been common after Pearl Harbor.  Stimson had access to all of the military’s data and reporting.  None of it foresaw or counseled preparation for a Japanese invasion of the coast.  Nonetheless, Stimson’s mind wandered to the thirty-plus-year-old, Yellow-Peril-inflected predictions of Homer Lea; suddenly they did not seem to him so fantastical.  This is powerful, and unusually direct, evidence of the operation of a racial schema:  the uncertainties of the day led Stimson’s mind past what he knew to something he had long latently feared, a Japanese invading horde.

There is only one problem with this analysis: It is incomplete. Reading it, one notes there’s no mention anywhere in it of the words “Singapore” or “Philippines.” And yet, contemporaneously with Stimson’s Feb. 10, 1942, diary entry, the Japanese Army had begun its push down the Malay Peninsula toward Singapore and was in the process of ejecting American forces from Luzon. Certainly in the Singapore case, the Japanese were acting in the face of apparent British military superiority. Meanwhile, it’s not like America’s armed forces in early 1942 had demonstrated any great degree of military competence. Indeed, it wouldn’t be until that May and the Battle of the Coral Sea that the US Navy began offering more than token resistance to the Japanese advance. Stimson and other civilian leaders until then had real cause to wonder if American forces were up to the job. Military leaders, to be sure, had few doubts. But until they started winning a few battles, their assurances were always subject to question.

UC, Judge Slap Creationists

Well, this will make for an interesting Ninth Circuit case:

U.S. District Judge James Otero of Los Angeles said UC’s review committees cited legitimate reasons for rejecting the texts – not because they contained religious viewpoints, but because they omitted important topics in science and history and failed to teach critical thinking.

Non-Complete Clauses Fall

California’s Supreme Court has struck down the use of non-compete clauses in employment contracts in that state. (Opinion here.) All to the good, I think. A company has the right to protect its intellectual property. Society, however, has an interest in seeing to it that people can work in their chosen fields of expertise.