Archive for March 2011

Stupid Grandstanding

So a bunch of Senators want Apple and others to pull an iPhone DUI checkpoint locator.  First, I want to note that these are all Democrat Senators.  I guess harassing a private company is better than doing what they are supposed to be doing, like finding out why the president is going to war without Congressional approval or passing a budget or finding out why the ATF is helping to smuggle guns to the Mexican cartels to murder Americans with.

“Giving drunk drivers a free tool to evade checkpoints, putting innocent families and children at risk, is a matter of public concern,” the senators said in a letter to the executives at the three companies. “We hope that you will give our request to remove these applications from your store immediate consideration.”

This is really stupid.  The first thing you should know is DUI checkpoints don’t work.  They don’t catch drunk drivers, and they don’t reduce drunk driving.  All they do is harass normal drivers, and give police an excuse to make a lot of overtime money.

DUI checkpoints aren’t about DUI.  They are about revenue.  They give the police an excuse to check everyone’s insurance and registration, run everyone’s names for unpaid tickets, and give all the cops working it a nice chunk of overtime money courtesy of the federal government.

(BTW, am I the only one who notices that cops are always hustling for more money?  Does anyone know a cop who doesn’t moonlight (usually for cash), on top of a salary that starts at $40K and goes up to almost $100K, before you figure in overtime?  And even then, they have constant complaints about bills they have to pay?  Am I the only one slightly disturbed that we give so much deference to people who can’t seem to handle a budget?)

The second thing is, the police themselves publicize the checkpoints.  They get on the news and tell people exactly where they are going to be.  None of this is secret — and even if it was, you would have a 1st Amendment right to tell people anyways.

The third thing is, you can just turn away or around when you see the checkpoint.  It’s not reasonable suspicion to stop you.  (Of course, they’ll find some other reason — or just lie about finding a reason later.)  But, if they do, it’s a good grounds for an attorney to get it thrown out, which means that the guy is going to fight it, which means that the state spends a bunch of money on someone who probably would have gotten caught anyways.

What’s the bottom line on all this?  Because of neo-prohibitionists like MADD, our DUI laws are all jacked up.  We take cops off the streets on patrol where they might actually see someone driving impaired, and put them on checkpoints where they don’t catch any drunks at all.  Then, because our DUI laws are actually working, and arrests are down, MADD and others convince the legislature to lower the legal limit.  Then what happens?  The police can’t catch the people at the lower limit by watching them drive, because they aren’t actually impaired enough for it to show in their driving. Got that?  The “legally drunk” level is so low that the only way to tell that someone is there is to use some sort of chemical measurement.  So what do you do?  You set up a checkpoint so you have an excuse to use those measuring devices on random people, because there is no other way to tell, because it isn’t effecting their driving.

And our police not only don’t see a problem with this, they actually think it is a good idea.  (Or say it is, because of the money.)

Beauty Queen…

Same as the Old Boss

So, just to make sure I’m following this…

Extended “tax cuts for the rich”?  Check.

Continued Drug War?  Check.

Increased unemployment?  Check.

Issuing executive orders and signing statements when Congress doesn’t do what he wants?  Check.

Gitmo still open?  Check.

Troops in Afghanistan?  Check.

Troops in Iraq?  Check.

And now, we have an unauthorized war against an Arab dictator to sorta-remove him from power?  (Which, for the record, I support in principle, but I’m getting serious misgivings about the methods being employed)

Constitutional Law “Professor” on War Powers

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

Take it to Congress — get authorization.

Obama Makes Demands on Libya

If he follows through, this is a damned good place to start. A lot of libertarians are strict non-interventionists.  I’m not.  When you are a human rights violator, I think that your shit needs to be blown up, and we’ve got the bombs.  Qadhafi is certainly a human rights violator.

Obama made a clear justification of why we should take the admittedly sobering act of using military force:

Left unchecked, we have every reason to believe that Qadhafi would commit atrocities against his people. Many thousands could die. A humanitarian crisis would ensue.

The entire region could be destabilized, endangering many of our allies and partners.

The calls of the Libyan people for help would go unanswered. The democratic values that we stand for would be overrun.

That’s good enough for me.  And it was good enough in Iraq, as well.

The conditions we expect Libya to meet are clear:

The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Arab states agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop.

Qadhafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Adjabiyah, Misurata (ph) and Zawiyah (ph), and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all area.

Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.

Let me be clear: These terms are not negotiable. These terms are not subject to negotiation. If Qadhafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action.

My only concern is that the president has not yet sought Congressional approval for the mission.  It’s a constitutional requirement (yes, I know what the War Powers Act says, but it’s not a repeal of the constitution) and he should comply with it.

Let’s hope that the enemies of world freedom are as impotent in opposing this president on this as they were in opposing Bush in Iraq.

Idiots in Blue Shirts

Remember when I told you to Opt Out?  When I said,

We still don’t know what the long term effects are, and if you believe that the emitted amounts published by the manufacturer are even accurate when they leave the factory, much less after they’ve been in the hands of the TSA for a while and under their maintenance, you are a fool.

Yeah, well, now the word is out.

The Transportation Security Administration announced Friday that it would retest every full-body X-ray scanner that emits ionizing radiation — 247 machines at 38 airports — after maintenance records on some of the devices showed radiation levels 10 times higher than expected.

Wow, if only there was some way that we could have expected something like that!  Like if there were some sort of sages who could predict that government employees shouldn’t be trusted to handle radioactive medical equipment!

Then again, we should give them a break.  I mean, it’s not like they’ve had other problems with the x-rays they were shooting at our luggage instead of our genitals, right?

In the past, the TSA has failed to properly monitor and ensure the safety of X-ray devices used on luggage. A 2008 report by the worker safety arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the TSA and its maintenance contractors had failed to detect when baggage X-ray machines emitted radiation beyond what regulations allowed. They also failed to take action when some machines had missing or disabled safety features, the report shows.

Chaffetz said the TSA’s characterization of the maintenance mistakes “sounds like an excuse rather than the real facts.”

“I’m tired of excuses,” Chaffetz said. “The public has a right and deserves to know. It begs the question, ‘What are they still not sharing with us?’ These are things you cannot make mistakes with.” Chaffetz said he expects to address some of his concerns during a hearing Wednesday.

Oh.  Right.  Well, gotta break a few huevos, right?

The Worst Scandal That You Haven’t Heard About

Project Gunwalker.

Project Gunrunner was an operation by the BATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.  This operation was allegedly put in place to try to interdict and prosecute gun smuggling from the United States to Mexico.  A subset of Project Gunrunner was Operation Fast and Furious.  F&F was designed to allow guns to be “walked”, or knowingly smugged to Mexico, allegedly to draw out the “big fish” to be arrested.

Think about that.  The BATF, the agency charged with preventing criminals from legally buying guns, was allowing criminals to buy guns and smuggle them across the border.

One of those guns was used to kill Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.  He had only a bean-bag shotgun to fight back with.  The rifle that killed him was one of thousands the ATF let through.

When I say that they let them through, I’m not exagerating.  Time and again, FFLs — licensed, legal gun shops — called the BATF, and did what they were supposed to do.  They said, “I have a guy here trying to buy a bunch of guns.  I think it is a straw purchase, and that they intend to smuggle them to Mexico.”  And each time, the BATF had the same response:

“Let them buy them.”

The street level agents weren’t comfortable with this.  They told the higher ups, these guns are going to be used in crimes in Mexico.  Then, when the traces started coming back, they told them, these guns are being used in crimes in Mexico.  And the answer was still the same.

“If you’re going to make an omelette, you’ve got to break some eggs.”

I guess Brian Terry was just another egg.

At one point, so many agents were complaining and warning that the higher ups actually sent out this email:

If you don’t think this is fun you’re in the wrong line of work — period! This is the pinnacle of domestic U.S. law enforcement techniques.  After this the tool box is empty.  Maybe the Maricopa County Jail is hiring detention officers and you can get paid $30,000 (instead of $100,000) to serve lunch to inmates all day.

If you don’t want to help the cartels get more guns to kill our own border patrol agents with, then you can just get a job at the county jail.  And they finished with this:

We need to get over this bump in the road once and for all and get on with the mission at hand.

Bumps in the road, like having our own officers murdered with guns they were supposed to stop.

Whistleblowers in the ATF finally got word out after Brian Terry was killed about what was going on.  Threepers and Freepers started covering.  Letters were written.  Finally, Senator Grassley started investigating it.

And he got stonewalled.  First, the ATF simply refused to answer his questions.  Then, when they started answering… they lied.  And they enlisted the DOJ and Eric Holder in their lies.

In light of this evidence, the Justice Department’s denials simply don’t hold water.  On February 4, 2011, the Department claimed that the ATF did not “knowingly” allow the sale of assault weapons to straw purchasers and that “ATF makes every effort to interdict weapons that have been purchased illegally and prevent their transportation into Mexico.”  Clearly those statements are not accurate.  These documents establish that ATF allowed illegal firearm purchases by suspected traffickers in hopes of making a larger case against the cartels.  ATF was not alone.  The U.S. Attorney’s office appears to have been fully aware and engaged in endorsing the same strategy.

For two years, the ATF has been claiming that 90% of the guns in Mexico were smuggled there from the US.  Now, we know why.  For two years, the ATF has been letting 90% of the guns they are aware of walk into Mexico.

Why?  My own opinion?  To justify their own existence.  The system we have now works, if we follow it.  The only way for the ATF to expand is to show that the existing system doesn’t work.  They did it by not following it.  On top of that, the cartels have a ton of money.  I think that if you start investigating the finances of some of these higher ups that pushed F&F, you’ll find suspicious deposits.  It’s how Al Capone did business when we prohibited alcohol.  There’s no reason for the cartels to not do it with drug prohibition.

The ATF is a rogue agency doing the exact opposite of its job.  The agency charged with preventing criminals from getting guns and smuggling them is giving criminals guns to smuggle.  They are being supported in this — knowingly — by Eric Hoder’s Department of Justice.  They are covering this up from the Senators trying to get to the bottom of it.  And people are dying because of it.

And no establishment media but CBS is reporting it.  No CNN, no MSNBC, not even Fox News.  Think about that one.

Update: Fox is joining in, finally.