Et Tu, Missouri?

No voter identification here:

Missouri voters won’t need to show a photo ID at the polls after all, after the state Supreme Court today struck down the new requirement.

A lower judge ruled last month that the ID requirement was an unconstitutional infringement on the fundamental right to vote. The Supreme Court agreed in a 6-1 unsigned opinion.

The law required voters to present a photo identification card issued by Missouri or the federal government to cast a ballot starting with the November election.

Opponents argued people impersonating others when voting is rare, and that the ID requirement would especially harm the poor, elderly and disabled who may be less likely to have a driver’s license.

The Democrat Party is thrilled with the result, as are the expected Democrat voters recently enfranchised by ACORN.

Coming Next: A Tax on Monopoly Transactions

Virtual economies attract real-world tax attention:

Users of online worlds such as Second Life and World of Warcraft transact millions of dollars worth of virtual goods and services every day, and these virtual economies are beginning to draw the attention of real-world authorities.

“Right now we’re at the preliminary stages of looking at the issue and what kind of public policy questions virtual economies raise — taxes, barter exchanges, property and wealth,” said Dan Miller, senior economist for the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress.

“You could argue that to a certain degree the law has fallen (behind) because you can have a virtual asset and virtual capital gains, but there’s no mechanism by which you’re taxed on this stuff,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Forget what you learned about how laws are made on Schoolhouse Rock; here’s how they’re really made:

  1. Some crackpotesque person or thoughtful person presents a whacked-out taxation proposal, just for discussion.
  2. A loud cacophony of jeering greets the proposal, and it’s tabled.
  3. A slightly less crackpot person brings it up again, perhaps in a time of fiscal crisis.
  4. A smaller number of jeers greets the second person, and the proposal is tabled.
  5. An almost rational person brings up the proposal again, possibly with a cool acronym and certainly some promise for funding education with the proceeds.
  6. The mass of jeering crowd is silent, for it has already expressed its displeasure.
  7. Legislators take the relative silence as assent and bring the bill up.
  8. Suddenly startled citizens react negatively, firmly, and resolutely.
  9. Legislators table the bill.
  10. State legislators in California or New Jersey pass a similar bill.
  11. Your state legislators bring the bill up and pass it because they want to be cool like the big states.
  12. Congress determines that taxing the thing only in New Jersey, California, and your state impedes interstate commerce and attaches the bill at the last minute, in the middle of the night, to a joint house resolution honoring Mom, because who could vote against Mom?

So you better start saving up, because the IRS is going to find out you bought Illinois Avenue in 1982 without paying sales tax and is going to want interest and penalties.

Amendment .viv

Here’s how Amendment I of the United States Constitution used to read:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Well, that was before the government began taking its normal vigorish off of the top. Latest evidence:

Police officers arrested Earl Hogan, the president of the Venice-Tri City Lions Club, on Saturday as Hogan tried to lead a small procession of cars into the city for a parade.

The Board of Aldermen had denied Hogan and the Lions Club a parade permit earlier this month, but Hogan said lack of a permit wouldn’t stop the parade. Lions clubs are holding numerous events this weekend to raise money for charitable causes.

Officers who handcuffed Hogan and took him to the station called the arrest “unfortunate” but said they had no choice.

“We have to do our job,” said Police Chief Shawn Tyler after the arrest.

Hogan was cited for unlawful assembly and released after about 30 minutes. His fine could range from $100 to $1,000, Tyler said.

After the addition of the crime of unlawful assembly and Mark of McCain-Feingold, how’s that amendment looking now?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of the press; or the right of the people peaceably petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Much more economical. The fewer rights, the more the citizens can enjoy them, right?

Book Report: The Way to Dusty Death by Alistair MacLean (1973)

This is my second Alistair MacLean of the year (the first, as you remember, was The Golden Gate in August. Both stem from the 1970s, which based upon the evidence of these two texts might represent the phoning-it-in period for MacLean.

The book starts out with an race car crash in the European Grand Prix circuit. The reigning champion apparently has lost his nerve and become an alcoholic. However, he seems to have some hidden agenda, for while he’s putting on the show, he’s sneaking around and investigating something. MacLean doesn’t really draw us into his investigations or quickly identify the real meat of the story–Harrow has gone underground or underdog to find out who’s gambling on the races and fixing them by sabotauging cars while selling heroin.

The reader goes along mainly because it’s an Alistair MacLean book and something’s going to happen. It does, and then the book ends abruptly.

Not MacLean’s best effort, and not even as good as Floodgate, which draws the user into the plot if not the characters. The Way to Dusty Death does neither, really.

Books mentioned in this review:


Where Metaphors Fail

We talk about making sacrifices in our lives and our working world, using figures of speech such as taking one for the team or jumping on the grenade. Some say this makes our language richer, to use metaphors to express concepts in a colorful way. Hey, as an writer, I’m all in favor of it. However, when those colorful metaphors become cliches bantered about too easily, we forget the powerful sacrifice of those who do it literally:

A Navy SEAL sacrificed his life to save his comrades by throwing himself on top of a grenade Iraqi insurgents tossed into their sniper hideout, fellow members of the elite force said.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor had been near the only door to the rooftop structure Sept. 29 when the grenade hit him in the chest and bounced to the floor, said four SEALs who spoke to The Associated Press this week on condition of anonymity because their work requires their identities to remain secret.

“He never took his eye off the grenade, his only movement was down toward it,” said a 28-year-old lieutenant who sustained shrapnel wounds to both legs that day. “He undoubtedly saved mine and the other SEALs’ lives, and we owe him.”

I don’t expect I could or would do that.

(Link seen on Outside the Beltway.)

Author Coming to Town

The Programs Coordinator for the St. Louis [City] Public Library has informed me that Daniel Woodrell, the author upon whose works I commented in August, is coming to town:

The St. Louis Public Library and Big Sleep Books are pleased to host author Daniel Woodrell. He will discuss and sign his new book, Winter’s Bone, November 15 at 7pm at the Schlafly Branch Library, 225 N. Euclid Ave. Books for sale will be provided by Big Sleep Books. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 314-206-6779.

Winter’s Bone follows a 16-year-old heroine named Ree as she hunts for her drug-dealing father, while trying to keep her family intact. The book, set in Missouri’s Ozarks region, is earning comparisons to True Grit.

Daniel Woodrell lives in the Missouri Ozarks. Winter’s Bone is his eighth novel and has just been selected as the 2007 ReadMOre book.

Well, there you go; or there you might go, but I’ll probably skip it.

In a side note, the Programs Coordinator represents the third person with whom I went to high school to contact me out of the blue this week. Weird.

Book Report: Kings and Queens of England and Great Britain by Eric R. Delderfield (1975)

As you know, gentle reader, I am something of an Anglophile as long as it doesn’t require actually traveling to Britain or liking, really, anyone or anything currently British. I was an English major, though, and as much as I tilted the degree toward American writers, I couldn’t escape the constraints of my collegiate upbringing. Plus, I think it’s interesting the progression of the English monarches throughout much of the relevant history of the Western world.

Consider this book to be a more detailed version than Britain’s Kings and Queens: 63 Reigns in 1100 Years, which I reviewed three years ago. That pamphlet, from the same time period as the edition of this book that I read, summed up the leaders and the effects their rules had upon England and Europe at large; this book, though, offers more verbosity in the leaders’ lifetimes and occasional sections into the time periods. Of course, this book is worth more than the pamphlet I reviewed in 2003, but it’s an expansion on the themes and rules therein.

Both books I’ve reviewed come from the early 1970s, so there’s not been much change in the lineage aside from the marriage of Charles III (projected) and the divorce of Charles III (projected) and his issue. Still, in the 1970s, the chroniclers had a certain (as sports fans now call it) homer sentiment; that is, the introduction of this book admits that the early rulers were barbaric, but the early times were barbaric, but that the home team (Britain) eventually turned out okay and that its influence on the world was good. As an American conservative, I respect that (and apply it to my own country).

This edition (ca 1975) offered me enough trivia and Britainnia to be worthwhile; I cannot speak to the late editions, but I don’t think they’ll be any less interesting.

On a side note, I’ll let you know, gentle reader, that I was a little ashamed of recovering the same territory that I mentioned in my review of the Bellews book. Until such time as I discovered when I covered that book, that is. I thought I’d read that book this year, or perhaps late last year. When the beauty that is this blog revealed that I read that earlier pamphlet 3 years ago, I was stunned. What a different world that was, for me at least. What were you doing then, and was it as immediate for you as the 9th century was for me?

Books mentioned in this review:


The Untold Story

Lost emu raises ruckus on Route 3:

Six times during the weekend, police here responded to the same call: a 100-pound emu running wild near Illinois Route 3.

The 5-foot-tall bird caused quite a ruckus, especially when it wandered into traffic on the busy highway, Police Chief Richard Miller said.

Sure, when it was apprehended, the emu told the cops it was lost, but the word I heard on the street is that this particular emu was looking to hitchhike to Carbondale to settle a score.

Hijinks Not A Felony, If You’re The Police Chief’s Son

In St. Charles, Missouri, two youths in an unmarked police unit pull over an off-duty police officer, who recognizes the youths as not really cops. The leader youth is charged with misdemeanor impersonating a police officer instead of the felony tampering or, you know, stealing a freaking police car.

The city of Ballwin, whose police car was misappropriated, chooses not to press charges:

Banas said City Administrator Robert Kuntz had faxed a letter stating the following: “With regard to the case involving Brian Biederman and the use of his father’s police vehicle, the city of Ballwin is not desirous of prosecution in this matter. Please find enclosed a notorized form of no prosecution from the city of Ballwin.”

No doubt Ballwiin treats all youths, regardless of whether they’re the fruit of the Police Chief’s loins, with that amount of tolerance.

Is There Anything Jail Cannot Solve?

Walk a dog without something to clean up after it? Go to jail in St. Charles:

Like many municipalities, St. Charles for years has had a pooper-scooper law requiring pet owners to remove their animal’s droppings while in public places.

However, Councilman Jerry Reese says the new measure, which he got the council to pass last week, will make it easier for police and animal control officers to deal with the problem. No longer will a witness to the droppings be needed to make a case, he said.

From now on, the ordinance books also will say that simply walking a pet without “waste removal equipment” in itself is a violation. Those convicted could be fined up to $500 or get up to three months in jail. The measure will take effect when Mayor Patti York signs it; she says she’ll do that sometime this week.

Now the government wants to micromanage the minutiae like a subdivision association with SWAT teams standing by. Why don’t we just get body armor and automatics for the building inspectors and get it done with?

Newcomer Agitates In Favor Of Train Crossing Fatalities

No, he’s against train whistles:

Train horns are keeping Wentzville newcomer David Lutes up at night.

“It was a great disappointment to move to Wentzville and hear so much noise at night,” Lutes, 54, said. “On about the second night here, it was like (a train) was in our bedrooms.”

Lutes said he left Southern California for the clean air and convenience of Wentzville. He and his family absolutely love their new city — except for the nightly noise from train horns.

A Wentzville resident for just about a month, Lutes has already established a community action group, Wentzville Against Noisy Traffic and Trains. He’s looking for others wanting more sleep and less noise at night to write aldermen and sign a petition urging the city to apply for a quiet zone with the Federal Railroad Administration.

I’d remind the fellow that train whistles are safety devices designed to prevent collisions with the train. But I expect the gentleman doesn’t care as long as he gets his night’s sleep.