Jun 27, 2012

Two Short Takes

Two things. First, an encouraging court result, where the DC Appeals Circuit upheld the responsibility of the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases. Garrett Epps has the goods. The weirdest part of the case was where the industry group did one of those broken borrowed kettle-type arguments, where you say (1) the kettle isn't broken, (2) it was broken when I borrowed it, and besides (3) I never borrowed that kettle in the first place:
A group of state governments, and a number of industry groups, immediately challenged the new rules in federal court. Their arguments, essentially, were three. First, they said, we don’t really know whether global warming is occurring or if it is caused by humans. Second, even if it is a real phenomenon, the courts should require agencies to pretend it isn’t, because believing in global warming would cost too much. Finally, and remarkably, they argued that the new permit requirements were illegal because they did not regulate greenhouse gases strictly enough.
The DC judges didn't buy it, thank goodness.

Second, there is a truly stupendous piece in Fortune, by Katherine Eban, about the Fast and Furious scandal that completely upends the discussion. If Eban is right, almost every premise of the conventional wisdom, especially the part about ATF agents deliberately "walking" guns across the border, is wrong. It's such a staggering piece that it's a little bit hard to believe, but there are a lot of documents contained in the link, and she's got a lot of people on the record. I'll be paying attention to this one.

It's wouldn't be right to excerpt it, so I'll just recommend in the strongest possible terms you read the whole thing. I was glued to the screen, stunned. And while it's immediately going to be jammed into a partisan box, the interesting thing is that it's not really a partisan piece—it's just a great bit of journalism about "weak laws, incompetent prosecutors, juvenile bickering within the ATF's Phoenix division, a CBS reporter who basically got played, and a craven bunch of managers and politicians who decided to throw the operation under the bus because it was too politically risky to just tell the truth."
Read it.

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