- New Mexico wants to shut off your water if you don’t pay your traffic tickets.
- Stellar week for TSA: Agents harass a 7-year-old disabled girl, then scare the hell out of a four-year-old for the crime of hugging her grandmother. Somehow, I’ll bet the Koch brothers put those kids up to this.
- “Change is a big problem in Zimbabwe.” But not in the way you might think.
- Headline of the day, auf Deutsch edition.
- I can’t figure out if this is a gag or just a really, really dumb idea.
- “The GOP of Thrones.”
- Quick! Everyone panic!
Great article in the Nashville City Paper about the proliferation of distilleries in Tennessee. Until just a few years ago, there were only two, Jack Daniels and George Dickel. Now there are about a dozen. Here’s why:
From the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 until the most recent law change, it was exceptionally difficult to get legal approval to distill spirits in the state of Tennessee. Only a few counties allowed the practice, and for a distillery to be approved it had to get a referendum on the ballot and then win a countywide vote. This made it nearly impossible for new producers to start up.
In 2009 all that changed. A bill was drafted that would permit distilleries in any county in Tennessee where there are both operating liquor stores and liquor by the drink, which opens up much of the state. But there was a moment where things didn’t look good for the bill.
“A state senator said to us at one point: ‘Wine is good because Jesus drank wine. But beer and whiskey are bad, because Jesus did not drink those,’ ” Darek Bell of Nashville-based Corsair Distillery recalled. “It felt like we had traveled back in time to Prohibition.”
“At one point it looked like the bill would fail,” Bell said. “An older representative got up and spoke. He said ‘I don’t know anything about this stuff. But if it will help the farmers in my community sell more corn, then I am all for it.’ And just like that, the opinion turned, and the bill seemed to sail through after that.”
But that doesn’t mean there still aren’t some daunting regulatory hurdles. The most asinine is probably the wholesaler/distributor laws, variations of which are common to many states. The only real purpose of these laws is to drive up the cost of booze in order to enrich people who run alcohol wholesaling businesses. Wholesalers are also licensed by the state, and usually given state-granted monopolies over large chunks of territories.
[T]o make it to the shelves, a distillery must sign on with a distributor, which is a very delicate aspect of the process. Tennessee liquor distribution, which also includes wine and higher-alcohol beer, is subject to what is known as a franchise law. This law was put in place to protect the franchisee, in this case, the wholesaler. According to local attorney Will Cheek, once a distiller enters into a contract with
a wholesaler, it is very, very difficult to terminate that contract. In fact, he couldn’t recall a single case of such a relationship being terminated.
So, hypothetically, were a distiller to ever get crossways with the distributor for whatever reason, leaving that relationship would be nearly impossible.
“It’s a harder choice than choosing your spouse. Getting divorced is far easier than breaking up with your distributor,” Cheek said.
This could prove especially difficult for microdistilleries, which might not get as much notice on a wholesaler’s radar. Cheek said the law is structured to protect the wholesalers from big, out-of-state competitors.
“From a distiller’s standpoint, the law is ridiculous. It offers every protection to the wholesaler and almost none for the distiller,” he said.
If you sat down and consciously tried to design a system prone to corruption and highly favorable to large, incumbent alcohol companies at the expense of upstarts, I don’t think you could do much better than this.
But the most beautiful example of regulatory nonsense can’t be blamed on Bible Belt temperance. It comes courtesyof the federal government. In order to get a federal permit for whiskey-makin’ . . .
. . . you have to be able to prove you know how to make whiskey but are not allowed to have actually made it . . .
Wonderful, isn’t it? It’s illegal to distill booze for any reason, even solely for personal consumption. So to get a federal permit, you really do have to swear to the feds that you know how to distill, but it’s illegal for you to ever have tried.*
Related: This Tennessee-distilled wonderfulness is the best bourbon I’ve ever had. Don’t be deterred by the chocolate. It’s delightfully subtle.
*A commenter points out that someone could conceivably have learned the art of distilling in another country. Good point! That also means that when it comes to whiskey-making, the feds are giving a huge advantage to . . . foreigners!
This actually happened a few hundred feet from where I live, though I don’t remember hearing about it at the time. An intoxicated man apparently struck and killed two pedestrians at a roundabout, then collided with a taxi.
It’s a really poorly designed intersection. There’s a smooth, three-lane, one-way road that runs for about a mile, then stops abruptly at a roundabout with quite a bit of pedestrian traffic, especially at night. So people fly up the road, then zip around the circle without looking out for people crossing. It’s especially bad late at night when people coming home from the strip of bars on the street where this happened are probably in a state where they’re less prone to be looking out for cars. (I mean, so I’ve heard.)
Of course, poorly designed or not, it doesn’t excuse the this guy, who was apparently pretty drunk. He was been charged with vehicular homicide. I’m not sold on the appropriateness of that charge for drivers in these cases (although this guy didn’t help matters by fleeing the scene—twice).
But what happened to the guy’s girlfriend seems way over the top.
Erin Brown’s boyfriend was charged with vehicular homicide and assault. She had been in the passenger seat. But in a rare use of the law, police also are charging Brown with the same crimes.
She faces as many as three decades in prison.
Police and prosecutors says Brown violated a part of the highway safety section of the Tennessee Code that makes it unlawful for the owner of a vehicle to direct, require or knowingly permit the operation of a vehicle in any manner contrary to the law.
Allowing someone to drive your car when you know they are drunk, prosecutors say, makes you criminally responsible for their actions.
The District Attorney’s Office commonly charges vehicle owners with driving under the influence for allowing a drunk person to drive their car.
But the vehicular homicide charge, a felony, against Brown is the first of its kind in Nashville.
Brown apparently was drunk too, and in her state of intoxication,she improperly gauged the level of her boyfriend’s intoxication before handing him the keys.
I’m okay with finding some civil liability for Brown, here. But it seems awfully excessive to take this woman’s life away from her for a split-second error in judgment that indirectly led to her boyfriend unintentionally striking and killing two people.
Brown apparently set herself up for the charge by telling police she gave her boyfriend the keys because he seemed “less drunk” than she was. So she basically admitted she knew he was intoxicated. (Again—never, ever talk to the police. Get an attorney.) But I wonder. What if she hadn’t made that statement? Could she have been charged if she should have known her boyfriend was drunk? How obviously drunk would he have needed to be? What if he was, say, just a hair above the legal limit? How much of a duty do you have to determine someone’s sobriety before you allow them to drive your car?
Seems to me that this is a pretty good example of “just because you can charge someone with a crime doesn’t mean you should.”
- Last week, the Keene, New Hampshire city council voted 9-4 in favor of purchasing the Lenco, Bearcat.
- 11-year-old handcuffed, taken to a holding facility for having a “bad attitude.”
- U.S. government says it can seize any .com., .net, or .org domain, no matter where the company that owns it is incorporated.
- Good bit of contrarianism from Michael Kinsley: The case against the case against Rush Limbaugh.
- Housing for hipsters.
- San Francisco police haven’t been conducting accuracy tests on breath test devices used in DUI cases. They’re supposed to conduct them every 10 days. They haven’t conducted any in six years.
- Michigan State will offer a course on surviving a zombie apocalypse.
- British government, public health activists say alcoholism running rampant even though per capita consumption is down.
- States looking to pass yet more policies to curb access to prescription drugs. Note that one politician quoted refers to “patients” trying to manipulate the system, not “addicts” or “dealers.” A patient trying to manipulate the system is a patient who can’t get the drugs he needs, because of the system.
- I feel another law named after a dead person coming on.
- Oakland cops were given body-mounted cameras to improve relations with the public. But they aren’t turning them on when they’re policing protests.
- The best outcome to the birth control debate: Make the pill available over the counter. I have a feeling neither side would approve.
- Philly cops say they aren’t required to observe bike lanes.
- Middle-aged American Family Association columnist calls high school junior a “small-minded and vengeful brat.” He also calls her “mean.”
- So this is fairly terrifying. But remember — debt doesn’t matter!
- More coverage of Keene vs. the Bearcat from the local college paper.
- Rutherford County, Tennessee hires anti-Islam group to “train” deputies at a seminar run in an vocally anti-Muslim church. What could possibly go wrong? More here.
- Toronto head of DUI enforcement (allegedly) comes to work drunk.
- Ignorance of the law is no defense. Unless you’re in law enforcement.
- Iran is planning to execute a Canadian-born software developer because his product was used by a pornographic website. (NOTE: Per the comments, the Guardian article linked in the Reason post actually say the Iranian high court quashed the death sentence. But it has since been reinstated.)
- More on how Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
- Judge allows Houston residents to become party to lawsuit between the city and a red light camera contractor.
- Feds end criminal investigation of Lance Armstrong, but “sources close to the investigation” continue to smear him in the press, anyway. Don’t hold your breath waiting for a criminal investigation into who is leaking grand jury testimony.
- Houston TV station bites on the vodka-soaked tampon story. Favorite quote from alleged expert on teen drinking habits: “More often than not, it’s happening in a lot of the Houston area.” More often than not? What could that possibly mean?
- Attempted puppycide.
- French court fines Google for providing a free map service, which is apparently an anti-competitive act of aggression against French companies that charge money to use their maps.
- Cribs: The GOP Edition.
- This is the most terrifying thing I’ve read in weeks. And I’m not even a carpenter ant.
- Incredible photos from yesterday’s cruise ship sinking in Italy.
- We may soon have our first picture of a black hole.
- Panic of the day.
- First person account of a bad interaction with the New Orleans Police Department.
- Lawsuit: Family woken, taken outside, handcuffed at gunpoint after neighbor mistakenly reports burglary.
- Responding to a rape call, Louisiana police break down the door, storm the wrong house. Sheriff calls the mistake a “boo-boo.”
- I think I’ll pass.
- David Boaz catches the Heritage Foundation using some blatantly misleading graphs to argue for more defense spending. That the Iraq and Afghanistan wars aren’t included in the graphs makes them all the more dishonest.
- TSA posts its top 10 “catches” of 2011. Bruce Schneier points out that none of them were actually terrorists.
- I don’t like where this is going.
- New Hampshire activists get police officer to concede he was wrong about the state’s wiretapping law.
- CNN, which left Gary Johnson out of debates because he wasn’t polling high enough in their poll that didn’t offer him as an option, will now break its own rules to let Rick Perry participate in an upcoming debate.
- Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to law mandating licensing for interior design.
- Bad news. Also, more bad news.
- Headline of the day. Article is actually from September. But wow.
- More wine?
- This photo? Just the latest evidence that we’re really, really close to winning.
- Zero tolerance + anti-bullying hysteria + Internet = criminal charges for teen’s innocuous Facebook post.
- A Ron Paul-touted conspiracy that turned out to be true.
- One of the sadder year-end lists you’ll read.
- Back in 1956, you’d have needed one of these to store each of your iTunes songs.
- Some great space-related time-lapse videos from the past year.
- An undiscovered Ron Paul newsletter.
- And another one, this time a ferocious Jack Russell Terrier.
- Why Ken White matters. Be sure to read White’s excellent dissection of the culture of prosecutorial misconduct in the criminal justice issue of Reason.
- How many things wrong with this picture can you find?
- Police union fights to reinstate cop who was driving 143 mph with a .089 BAC.
- I always thought this was a joke. It apparently really exists. (It’s also available in a can, but only on your birthday.)
- How to make a Thing in a Jar.
- Headline of the day. (Bonus points: Santorum retweeted it.)
- 2012 will bring the end of Happy Hour in Utah.
- Indiana lawmaker wants to hand out fines for poor renditions of the national anthem.
- The state of Florida wants to allow cops to bring drug-sniffing dogs to your door without a warrant.
- Cool map showing the geographical distribution of support for/opposition to SOPA.
- Gary Johnson announces his candidacy for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination.
- Headline of the day.
- This story seems dubious.
- Tyler Cowen’s Ted Talk on why he’s suspicious of stories.
- How Jamie Oliver, Eric Schlosser, and other “industrial food” critics may be making meat less safe to eat.
- Candidate Newt proving lucrative for Newt, Inc.
- Virginia drivers ticketed for breaking a law that doesn’t exist.
- Another tribute to Siobhan Reynolds from Eapen Thampy.
- Professional Courtesy: NYPD officer suspected of drunk driving after car crash wasn’t given a blood alcohol test until eight hours later.
- DOJ changes its position on the Wire Act, possibly clearing a path for legal online poker.
- Annapolis police arrest the wrong “Hot Dog.”
- The New York Times looks at the expanding bourbon market. I’m excited for the new Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.
- People Are Awesome, the 2011 edition.
- Another example of how when police know a suspect is actually armed and dangerous, they find other ways to apprehend them than to send in the SWAT team while the suspect is sleeping.
- America’s is losing its faith in government. If this brings some skepticism about giving government ever-more power (though it likely won’t), it’s a good thing. But it also means government is failing at its most basic and fundamental obligations.
- Mark Hemingway on how the fact-checking trend in journalism has evolved into a way for journalists to simply validate their own opinions.
- The Supreme Court may be on its way to authorizing medical patents. Tim Lee explains why this is something to worry about.
- Alabama: Where it’s illegal to brew your own beer, but it’s perfectly fine to drink while you’re serving on the jury in a death penalty case.
- The latest in the Michael Mermel saga: An Illinois court has reversed the conviction of Juan Rivera, the subject of the New York Times piece that led to prosecutor Mermel’s resignation.
- Great piece by my HuffPost colleague John Rudolf about an Alabama woman trying to find out why and how her son died in police custody.
- Marist poll (PDF): In hypothetical general election matchup with Obama, Ron Paul is tied. All the other GOP candidates would lose.
- Mississippi Supreme Court admonishes DA Forrest Allgood. (PDF)
- DEA has laundered millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels. Hey, why not! It’s our policy that made them rich in the first place. Not to mention that we’re also arming them.
- Mitt Romney’s staff spent $100,000 in public funds to wipe out all email from his tenure as governor of Massachusetts.
- I did an interview yesterday with Wall Street Journal Radio about police militarization. You can listen here. My interview starts at about the 22 minute mark.
- New threat: drunken gummi bears.
- The Durbin Swipe Fee Amendment: the latest consumer protection measure that isn’t protecting consumers.
- How Rand Paul prevented World War III.