Monday, 24 September 2007

Rants

Welcome to the Peoples Republic of Colorado. Your papers, please.

From Declan McCullagh/PoliTech:

The Gilpin County Sheriff's Office in Colorado, a rural area not that far west of Denver, recently set up a highway checkpoint where motorists were stopped and, at least in some cases, not allowed to leave until they gave breath, blood, and saliva samples for the benefit of a private research firm. A report by Ernie Hancock says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was involved as well. [highlighting mine - o.g.]
The "private research firm" turns out to be a not-for-profit neo-prohibitionist QUANGO and major federal contractor called "Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation," which is located not on the west coast, but in the beltway town of Calverton, Maryland.
It specializes in funneling over $35 million of taxpayer money a year into its own coffers through law enforcement contracts of dubious utility, mostly dealing with drugs and alcohol, from sources including the U.S. Department of Justice. 100 percent of its budget appears to come from government contracts or grants.

Although PIRE pretends to be a "nonprofit" organization -- at least that label helps to collect those fat taxpayer-funded checks from the DOJ -- in reality it spends about $1.35 million a year on lobbyists. Not a bad 30-fold return on investment. And [several of] its employees are paid six-figure salaries that would be handsome even by for-profit standards.
It gets worse. Read the whole thing.

First Issue: There's been a lot of discussion[1] in recent days about the authority of police in their interactions with the average citizen, especially in cases where the average citizen may be doing nothing wrong. The "legal establishment" consensus appears to be
You cannot resist arrest - period. You get a hearing later to determine the facts (was the arrest lawful, etc.) but you must comply with the officer’s orders. Any other rule would be a invitation to anarchy - with every prospective arrestee free to decide whether the officer’s actions are lawful. - "Brian," in DP comments thread
Okay, that's arrests.  But what about "refusing to obey an illegal order, when failure to obey is implied as a cause for arrest?"  Hey Beldar, got anything to say about this one?

Second Issue:  Ain't it great that our government spends $35 million a year to fund a neo-prohibitionist group?

Naming names: If you're upset about this and want to let someone know, Declan's report has a lot of helpful contact information.

Previously:  Your Tax Dollars At Work

Footnotes:
[1] Some of the discussions:
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HT to Tamara. And thanks for ruining my Sunday evening

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Saturday, 22 September 2007

Rants

Man, you've got to watch them EVERY MINUTE!


I swear, I want to revise "legalpad's" quote to include the whole damn federal government!

ONE:

Nearly 10,000 people from countries designated as sponsors of terrorism have entered the United States under an immigration diversity program with relatively few restrictions, a report released on Friday said.

The report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the State Department's inspector general warned in 2003 that the Diversity Visa Program posed a significant risk to national security and recommended it be closed to people from countries on the U.S. list of state terrorism sponsors.

But four years later, the program remains open to people from those nations and little is known about what becomes of them once they enter the United States, the GAO said.
...
The GAO said the State Department expressed disappointment with the report's findings and rejected recommendations that the department compile more comprehensive data on fraud activity and formulate a new strategy for combating it.-- Reuters, September 21, 2007 [highlighting mine - o.g.]
Ah yes, the State Department: "Looking out for everybody's interests except America's."

TWO: It's amnesty! And it's alive! Again!:
The problem with this bill is not just that it's apparently been drafted as a stealth mechanism to allow lots of illegal immigrants to claim they qualify and thereby achieve legal status, although it has... [But that] it would inherently create an incentive for further illegal border crossing (namely by telling potential illegals to bring their kids across the border when they are young)... Now that the government is finally (seemingly, at least temporarily) trying to remove the "jobs magnet" for continuing illegal immigration, this is not the time to activate an alternative "kids magnet." -- Mickey Kaus [bolding and link in the original - o.g.]
Sigh! Time to write our Senile Senators AGAIN! The bill number is S.774.

THREE: Various corporate weasels[1] want to screw up our chocolate!
The current legal standard to call something "Chocolate" is that it be made of:
  1. Chocolate Liquor*
  2. Cocoa Butter**
  3. Real Sugar
  4. Real Milk solids (for Milk Chocolate)
*Chocolate Liquor (or unsweetened baking chocolate) is the meat or nib of the cocoa bean which has been ground into a smooth paste. It contains more than 50% cocoa butter.

**Cocoa Butter is the vegetable fat found in cocoa beans which is released when Chocolate Liquor is pressed.
...
Today, whenever you see the ingredient "chocolate" on a package, it MUST be made of these, and only these ingredients.

The proposed, lower standards would allow for cheaper, non-cocoa-bean vegetable fats to be substituted for cocoa butter, and still allow manufacturers to call the resulting brown stuff "Chocolate".
...
Basically, they want to make the chocolate equivalent of Velveeta...but not be required to call it "processed [chocolate] food". [highlighting mine - o.g.]
The Food and Drug Administration is the agency involved in this mess. Address, fax number, and sample letter here. (It's Docket 2007P-0085.)

Hattips:
------
Footnote:
[1] The weasels: American Frozen Food Institute, American Meat Institute, Chocolate Manufacturers Association, Food Products Association, International Dairy Foods Association, Juice Products Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Fisheries Institute, National Meat Canners Association, North American Millers’ Association, and Snack Food Association, along with the Grocery Manufacturers Association. I'm not going to chase links to all of these, but if anyone has some spare time, it might be interesting to find out why the various "meat" associations have signed on to something involving chocolate? Hmmm?

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Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Rants

Republican suicide watch


Another political stumble by the Bush administration. This idea should have strangled in its cradle:

In a move that has stunned New York, the Bloomberg administration is in discussions to escort the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to ground zero during his visit to New York next week, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said today. -- New York Sun
(And yes, I know that as of now Bloomberg is "not Republican." That's not the point.)

UPDATE 070920 14:18: NYC police rejected the request, but...
A law enforcement source says the Iranian mission to the United Nations has informed the Secret Service that the Iranian president intends to visit Ground Zero Monday at 10 a.m.

The source says regardless of the NYPD's rejection of the request for a Ground Zero tour, Iran's president and his entourage will be accompanied by a Secret Service protective detail, a detail provided to all heads of state when they visit the United States. -- WABC report
(ABC link from Michelle, who is reporting on efforts to organize a protest demonstration.)
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Naming names:
City of New York, Mayor's Office:
U.S. State Department: phone 202-647-4000

Via: LGF and Hot Air

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Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Rants

9/11 + Six Years + One Day: Myths and Hopes

Well, I spent a good deal of Tuesday reading various 9/11 posts, all the while trying to organize my thoughts for a post of my own. Things never did gel, so a day late, instead of a "here's how I feel this year" post, a look at some myths that have grown up around 9/11, some hopes that never materialized, and some lessons learned.  
more...

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