Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Police State Cometh: Episode II

From the New York Times (not *my* 'paper of record' by any means) we hear that Prosecution Explains Jury Tampering Charge. Wow, did some Mob guy get to a juror with threats or a bribe? Were gang-members busted intimidating witnesses? What happened?

"Julian P. Heicklen, a 79-year-old retired chemistry professor, has often stood on a plaza outside the United States Courthouse in Manhattan, holding a 'Jury Info' sign and handing out brochures that advocate jury nullification, the controversial view that if jurors disagree with a law, they may ignore their oaths to follow it and may acquit a defendant who violated it."

Wait, huh? Isn't political speech one of the most protected forms of speech? But a couple of paragraphs down we learn:

"... [P]rosecutors are offering their first detailed explanation for why they charged Mr. Heicklen, arguing in a brief that his 'advocacy of jury nullification, directed as it is to jurors, would be both criminal and without Constitutional protections no matter where it occurred.'"

"His speech is not protected by the First Amendment,' prosecutors wrote."

The Police State Cometh

From Amnesty International by way of the Huffington Post we hear: Senate Introduces Disastrous New Detention Bill. When I first read about this I thought it must be a hoax. I couldn't believe that even a Congresscritter would be stupid enough to vote for something like this, but a quick perusal of Google News confirmed that some members of Congress, not satisfied with merely abrogating their oaths of office are intent upon positively shredding the Constitution. And quite possibly starting a civil war while they are at it. I'm sure that conservatives have visions of Occupy-ers being rounded up and incarcerated dancing in their heads, but they should bear in mind Thomas Paine's admonition: " He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself." Any law that Conservatives can use to sweep up Liberal protesters can also be used by Liberals to sweep up Conservative protesters.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Loose Ramblings on the Bill of Rights

I often hear people talk about how the Second Amendment gives us the right to keep and bear arms. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. The Bill of Rights does not grant rights, rather it recognizes rights that we have simply by virtue of being people.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Is Anyone In The Newsroom Paying Any Attention?

Dennis Wagner of The Arizona Republic has a piece today regarding the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious, aka Project Gunwalker. Although I should know better by now, I am once again astounded by a mainstream journalist's clear liberal bias (right up there with calling a robber who was shot in the midst of his robbery a 'victim') in writing about a 'gun' story.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

States' Rights vs. Civil Rights

"Sen. Loretta Weinberg announced Friday she has introduced a legislative resolution condemning the 'Voting Rights Act of 1965.' saying that the federal proposal would undermine her state's election laws and states' traditional role in deciding the best voter registration strategies for each individual state."

"'Historically, states have been given the right of self-determination when it comes to deciding who can vote,' Weinberg said. 'Regardless of how you feel about our voter registration laws, the federal legislation which was recently passed by the House would set a terrible precedent, and opens the door for Negro voting activists elsewhere in the country to override our own state's laws. Hopefully, the Governor and our Congressional leaders will stand up for our state and oppose this overreaching federal bill.'"

Sounds pretty ludicrous, doesn't it? I mean in this day and age who could possibly oppose peoples' civil rights? But wait, there's more:

Firing A 'Warning Shot'

Before I start this rant, let me state up front: I am not a lawyer, nor have I ever played one on TV. Also, I am not a sexist, but I use the pronouns he and him for ease and clarity. That being said, on with the show.

In a story out of Pennsylvania a home invader was shot dead (don't you love a happy ending?) but the homeowner made what could have been a horrific mistake:

"She said she called to her husband, who came downstairs with a gun and fired a warning shot first. Then, she said, he fired another shot that hit the man ..."

Should We Hold Cops To higher Standards, Lower Standards Or The Same Standards As "Civilians"

First, let me state for the record that I admire the heck out of many cops. My best friend growing up (who was best man at my wedding last year) spent 25+ years as a New York City cop, and I have no truck with people who bash cops simply because they are cops. Indeed, insanely libertarian man that I am I don't believe anyone should be judged for anything but their own actions. I am, however, a civil rights activist focusing specifically on gun rights. This means that I get to hear the antis' endless litany of "only the police and military need to have guns." This argument has led National Gun Rights Examiner and War on Guns blogger David Codrea to collect stories of "Only Ones' (don't worry he explains the term in the piece). In answer to accusations of "cop bashing", David states on his War on Guns blogspot:
"The purpose of this feature has never been to bash cops. The only reason I do this is to amass a credible body of evidence to present when those who would deny our right to keep and bear arms use the argument that only government enforcers are professional and trained enough to do so safely and responsibly. And it's also used to illustrate when those of official status, rank or privilege, both in law enforcement and in some other government position, get special breaks not available to we commoners, particularly (but not exclusively) when they're involved in gun-related incidents."

Now with that out of the way, let us address the issue of Jersey City (the location is relevant, trust me) police officer Rick Garrison.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Refuting The Idea That "Gun Grabbing Paranoia Is Baseless"

You know, I'm really getting tired of hearing from the antis that our fears of an Obama Presidency have been shown by events to be mere 'gun-nut paranoia' (if they're feeling really frisky they'll throw in a 'black-helicopter-conspiracy-nut' too).

This evenings particular rant was set off by a letter in Spokane's The Spokesman-Review today. In the letter Joe Speranzi assures all of us weak-kneed paranoid gun nuts that:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The War on (Some) Drugs

I have been asking this question of drug prohibitionists for literally decades now and have never gotten an answer that held up to scrutiny. Can you please tell me *one* problem associated with alcohol prohibition which got *worse* when Prohibition was repealed?

The standard reply I get is something along the lines of "well alcoholism went up" or "drunk driving increased" followed by the also standard "but if we make drugs legal everyone will become druggies and they'll sell drugs to schoolchildren!"

Recently I did get something of a new reply:

Fisking Charles Moton's "Re: Sucking up to the NRA"

Charles Moton (and please, let's all make sure we spell his name correctly, we are above ad hominem attacks here) has written a piece for the Lake County (CA) Record-Bee. When such a breathtakingly broad array of idiocy is laid out the question always arises, where to begin? Let's begin at the beginning:
"The Republican party stresses the importance of States' Rights, except, it appears, in one instance: concealed weapons permits."
Charles leaves out freedom of the press, speech and religion, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, self-incrimination, the right to a jury trial. You know, all those *other* enumerated rights to be found in the Bill of Rights. And let's not even get started on voting rights, Jim Crow laws, etc..

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I believe in the separation of corporation and state

A friend of mine just posted the above bumper sticker on Facebook. Being insanely libertarian, you probably know what my reaction to this is: YIPPEE!!! Yes! What a great idea! Which is basically what I posted. Someone replied to my comment with the following:
Nay, I say. Government regulations on working conditions is fair. Allowing so many companies to ship jobs overseas helped to kill jobs. And [not] to mention, those nations are filled with exploited children and adults.
So I guess what the slogan probably means is that government should be allowed to control (regulate) industries, but industries shouldn't have any say in how they are regulated. This is not a goodness thing.

So here is my reply: Government regulations on working conditions is fair.

Really? Did you know that if you compare the pre-OSHA accident rates to accident rates 20+ years later you will find . . . wait for it . . . no change! Sure, there has been a drop in *overall* accident numbers, but that was due to shifting from heavy manufacturing to light industry and tech services. In the meantime these "safety" regulations have cost millions of dollars and countless jobs. Just as a ferinstance: A friend of my father's (call him Bob) worked for many years as a butcher. His skill in the trade grew, he saved money, he took business classes and eventually he remortgaged his house (at 15% interest!) and started his own meat processing business.
The first year was tough, Bob worked 70 - 80 hours a week and his family lived on his wife's salary and their credit cards, but the business survived. Then he landed a decent contract and things started looking up. By the fifth year Bob was still working 6 days a week, but the business was thriving and starting to really grow. Which is when a well-established competitor decided he was becoming a threat, so they filed some complaints with the health inspectors and OSHA. The health inspectors came in and decreed that, in the interests of food safety, all the equipment had to be upgraded (despite the fact that none of his customers had ever had problems with food-borne illness); there could be no slots or crevices to trap meat particles and all work surfaces had to be continuously flushed with fresh water. So he spent about $50,000 (mid-1970's dollars) to do all the upgrades. He lost a couple of contracts while he was upgrading, but figured he would win them back again.
Then OSHA showed up. In spite of his company's superb safety record, OSHA decreed that, in the interest of worker safety, all blades had to have guards (which are, by definition, crevices and slots) and all work surfaces had to be dry to prevent slipping. He explained the health requirements and OSHA said "We don't care. Comply or you will face $10,000 a day in fines." So Bob called the health inspector, explained the OSHA requirements, and the health inspectors said "We don't care. Comply or we'll shut you down."
So Bob lost his business, and went back to being a butcher. The drop in income coupled with the debts incurred the first couple of years meant Bob had to declare bankruptcy, so he lost his house too.
Thus "health and safety" regs destroyed a growing business, took a dozen plus jobs and cost the bank and credit card companies tens of thousands of dollars.

Oh, and another thing about regulating working conditions; getting rid of massive gov't bureaucracies would streamline the litigation process, allowing people injured by bad conditions to sue. And with gov't out of bed with corporations the regulations will no longer be skewed against individual workers holding their employers liable for accidents and injuries.

To say nothing of the fact that with the removal of regulatory barriers entrepreneurs would more easily be able to start new businesses, leading to job creation, economic growth (with consequent reduction of pollution), a burgeoning middle class and a raising of living standards all around.

Allowing so many companies to ship jobs overseas helped to kill jobs. And [not] to mention, those nations are filled with exploited children and adults.

Ah, so it is better for companies to increase their costs by keeping jobs here? Heck, why not have everything gold-plated too, that will increase production costs across the board which, according to your theory will be a good thing, right? And part of the reason it is cheaper to ship jobs overseas despite the capital costs and lower productivity? Because of those very same gov't regulations. Another ferinstance: I was reading in the Economist about a steel company that shut down in the States and essentially shipped the whole factory to China. As the facility was being put together, one of the workers who went along to help reassemble the equipment and train the new employees saw a bunch of 'extra' parts lying in a pile. Like having leftover parts after you finish fixing the sink, he figured this was a bad thing and informed a supervisor. "Don't worry" he was told, "that's just the EPA mandated pollution control equipment. It uses too much energy and slows production so we're scrapping it."

And those nations with "exploited women and children" are using the money earned from those jobs to build infrastructure and improve the overall living conditions. And as economies grow, surplus becomes available to start implementing those pollution controls again. If you look at China you will see a growing middle class starting to benefit their economy and, as standards of living rise, so do wages.

The commenter didn't even bring up what I consider to be the best argument for separation of Corps and Gov't: Think of what prying them apart will do for honesty in politics. If it is no longer possible to use your puppet legislator to pass regulations which quell competition or favor your company then it won't be worth maintaining a puppet legislator (those things can get expensive!).

See, campaign finance reform in one easy step!

Back from hiatus!

I gave up blogging (after only a couple of days) because I discovered that it is hard work, and I had other priorities. Now, however, due to some pesky health issues I am not working and housebound which means I will have lots of time for blogging. Whether I will have the energy is another question; we shall see what happens. Now, for my first rant!