Posts From: December 1st, 2008

You Make Me Touch Your Hands for Stupid Reasons

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Apparently, I’m late to this party.  But it sure made me laugh.

Posse Commitatus: R.I.P.

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Yuck.

The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.

The long-planned shift in the Defense Department’s role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said.

There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military’s role in domestic law enforcement.

But the Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for a heightened homeland military role since the middle of this decade, saying the greatest domestic threat is terrorists exploiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response — a nearly sevenfold increase in five years — “would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,” Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted “a fundamental change in military culture,” he said.

I predict that while now couched in terms of the necessity for a ready response to a cataclysmic terrorist attack, within five years there will be calls to use these forces for less urgent matters, such as crowd control at political conventions, natural disaster response, border control, and, inevitably, some components of the drug war (looking for marijuana in the national parks, for example).

Here’s hoping Obama scales this back.  Or if he doesn’t, that, with a Democrat in the White House, the Republicans rediscover the way they once got the heebie-jeebies over this stuff.

You Shop, I Profit

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Just a reminder to new readers, if you click on this link before you do any Christmas shopping at Amazon, I get a little commission off everything you buy, at no cost to you.

And if you buy a book, a compact disc, a movie, or any other item I recommend in my aStore, I get an even nicer commission.

Non-Profits Want a Bailout, Too

Monday, December 1st, 2008

More begging. Of course, non-profits are always begging. That’s their business model. I know, because I’ve worked at a few, though the ones I’ve worked for don’t take any money from the government.

The fundamental concept to keep in mind, here, is that the companies and individuals who didn’t take dumb risks, make bad investments, and/or manufacture a crappy product are being forced by government to save the ones who did.

LEAP on Repeal Day

Monday, December 1st, 2008

The gang at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition—a group of ex-cops, judges, and prosecutors who’ve come out against the drug war—will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the repeal of alcohol prohibition with an event tomorrow at the National Press Club.  From the press release:

On Tuesday, December 2, a group of law enforcers who fought on the front lines of the “war on drugs” and witnessed its failures will commemorate the 75th anniversary of alcohol prohibition’s repeal by calling for drug legalization. The cops, judges and prosecutors will release a report detailing how many billions of dollars can be used to boost the ailing economy when drug prohibition is ended.

“America’s leaders had the good sense to realize that we couldn’t afford to keep enforcing the ineffective prohibition of alcohol during the Great Depression,” said Terry Nelson, a 30-year veteran federal agent and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “Now, cops fighting on the front lines of today’s ‘war on drugs’ are working to make our streets safer and help solve our economic crisis by teaching lawmakers a lesson from history about the failure of prohibition. We can do it again.”

Here’s LEAP’s compelling promotional video:

 

Morning Links

Monday, December 1st, 2008
  • Gun manufacturer HS Precision Rifles is using an endorsement from Lon Horiuchi to market its products. Horiuchi is the federal agent who shot and killed unarmed Vicky Weaver while she was holding her infant daughter at Ruby Ridge. Sounds like a good way to piss of your customer base.
  • Here’s an exceptionally stupid, jingoistic commentary on “buying American.” Except that instead of coming from some populist paleoconservative publication, it’s from the “progressive” Mother Jones. The author actually interviews an economist who explains why the “buy American” argument is mostly crap, and that manufacturing output in the U.S. actually increased (technology takes far more jobs than outsourcing ever could). But she still can’t resist the urge to “applaud” when she finds some American-made wax paper. The conclusion is something of a non-sequitur, too.
  • Nicholas Kristof on the horrific practice of acid-throwing in parts of Asia. Kristof is by far and away the New York Times’ best columnist. I don’t always agree with him, but he’s intellectually honest (he actually changed his position to support sweat shops after an extended stay in Asia). And there’s no columnist anywhere who’s better at reporting and exposing human rights violations in the developing world.
  • Northern Virginia has no acorns.
  • Two steps forward, one step back. Swiss voters vote to continue giving taxpayer-bought heroin to addicts, but reject a measure that would legalize marijuana.
  • French appeals court says stores can sell Sarkozy voodoo dolls, but “must carry a notice saying that pricking them harms the president’s dignity.”
  • Happy Birthday, Bloody Mary. A little odd that the drink would be invented just as alcohol prohibition was dying down. Most modern cocktails were invented during prohibition, a way to dilute the nastiness of black market booze. If you have a good Bloody Mary recipe you want to share in the comments, please do! I have one of my own, which I’ll try to post later this week.
  • Yet more collateral damage from sex crime hysteria.
  • Guns and Mumbai

    Monday, December 1st, 2008

    India’s government not only failed to protect its citizens from terrorism, it wouldn’t allow them to protect themselves. Check out this paragraph from the Wall Street Journal:

    At about 9:45 p.m., two gunmen, slender and in their mid-20s, ran up the circular driveway at the entrance to the Trident. They shot the security guard and two bellhops. The hotel had metal detectors, but none of its security personnel carried weapons because of the difficulties in obtaining gun permits from the Indian government, according to the hotel company’s chairman, P.R.S. Oberoi.

    On the other hand, at least some Indian officials are taking responsibility for their failure, which is more than we can say about anyone in the U.S. government after September 11.