Another Blogger Visited

Not to steal any of Bungalow Bill’s thunder with his recent visit from the FBI and the sheriff from the neighboring county, but in Massachusetts, a blogger has had more than that happen:

Police have seized a “large amount” of weapons and ammunition from an Arlington businessman while investigating if comments he allegedly made online were intended as a threat to U.S. Congressmen and members of the U.S. Senate.

Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan has also suspended the firearms license of Travis Corcoran, 39, who runs the online comic book business HeavyInk.com in Arlington.

What did he say?  Well, he posted about armed insurrection.  In two separate posts, he mused about at what point good citizens would revolt against an overbearing government.  Want to read what he wrote?  Here’s his blog: TJICistan.

 

Woops, there would be his blog if the powers that be had not removed it.  So you can’t see what he said, you have to take the word of the authorities or what I remember from them (I have him on my personal blogroll and saw the posts in question, but I did not feel compelled to react by summoning the authorities).

So the authorities in Massachusetts have seized his guns, but:

Corcoran, who has no criminal history, has not been arrested and does not face any charges.

Without charges, the authorities have taken his guns away.

Now, which action do you think will play more into the fears of the lunatic fringe?  Corcoran’s words, or the authorities’ actions in this case?

Just think: if Corcoran had actively built bombs to blow up government officials instead of writing political musings on the Internet, he would just be a guy from the President’s neighborhood.

(Other comment about this case at View from the Porch, Baby Troll Blog, Borepatch, and Dustbury.  This post cross-posted at 24th State.)

 

Two By Two, Pats For You

My Twitter feed associated with QA Hates You is chock full of geeks, and I don’t mind telling you, the recent upgrades to TSA security protocols have really caused quite a stir. Why on earth did this particular affront so capture geek imagination and indignation?

Then it hit me. To a geek steeped in the culture, this guy:

TSA's hands of blue

Looks a lot like these guys:

Firefly's villians with the hands of blue

The latter, of course, are the bad guys in the television series Firefly and the film Serenity.

I wonder how much that affected the geeks.

In Real Life, She Would Have Been Arrested

Bookworm dreams about getting a pat-down from the TSA.

As they started to pat me down, I started to sing The Star-Spangled Banner. The more they patted, the louder I sang. And since this was a dream, I was singing in tune. Gradually, all airport noise around me stopped, and everyone started singing The Star-Spangled Banner with me.

In real life, that sort of thing would get you arrested. There are bombs explicitly mentioned in that song, and that’s the sort of music that the TSA cannot let stand.

See also this.

Suggested Slogans for the TSA

Real Debate Wisconsin has some suggested slogans for the new TSA, including the precious “It’s not a grope. It’s a freedom pat.”

(Link seen courtesy Grandpa John’s.)

Funny thing about this TSA thing and some orthodox thinking from some liberals I encounter:

  • Sure, it’s an inconvenience, but it’s not Obama’s fault.
  • The TSA came from the Bush administration.
  • Ergo, any Republican/conservative who is against it is a hypocrite for not opposing it under Bush.

It’s a very specific funhouse mirror they see us in, wherein intra-Republican debates and dissent are unknown or ignored and policies are supported unconditionally because our team throws them up.

As if all (I dare say any) conservatives were eager for the creation of a new Federal department and its jackbooted minions. Somehow, when conservatives reflect in that particular mirror, the liberals don’t see the whacko conservatives hate Federal agents reflection because it’s from a different mirror, and some people cannot or will not look beyond some silly single image.

Government Announces Deficit Reduction Measure

$11,000 fine, arrest possible for some who refuse airport scans and pat downs

If you don’t want to pass through an airport scanner that allows security agents to see an image of your naked body or to undergo the alternative, a thorough manual search, you may have to find another way to travel this holiday season.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is warning that any would-be commercial airline passenger who enters an airport checkpoint and then refuses to undergo the method of inspection designated by TSA will not be allowed to fly and also will not be permitted to simply leave the airport.

That person will have to remain on the premises to be questioned by the TSA and possibly by local law enforcement. Anyone refusing faces fines up to $11,000 and possible arrest.

There is no opting out, citizen. Get your junk touched or pay the price.

It’s A Ruling, All Right

You’re the ruled. The bureaucrats are the rulers:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will effectively ban the sale of beverages that combine caffeine and alcohol, including Four Loko and Joose, by ruling that caffeine is an unsafe food additive, according to Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Bask in the reflected glory, subject, of the beauty of the fiat, of the diktat of the unelected officials who exercise so much anonymous power over your life. Caffeine? An unsafe food additive because they say it is. A rule that applies only in the case of alcohol, now. Because caffeine is only unsafe when added to something in a fashion that the bureaucracy has deemed unsafety.

Secondly, note the huzzahs from an elected official, an elected legislator, who could have introduced this properly as an act and had Congress pass this as a law. Instead, he’s thrilled that the control and the possible will of the people has been subverted through governmental processes designed to get around the basic processes of a Republic.

I’d weep, but my tears are an unsafe blog additive as ruled by the FCC.

(More reax: Tam, the voices in Jennifer’s Head.)

Bending the Cost Curve Over

I don’t understand the sudden outrage about the new TSA procedures. They’re listed right there in the ObamaCare bill under Preventive Care.

The backscatter machines?
Involuntary CAT scans.

The pat-downs?
Manual examination for breast cancer and other tumors.

The forthcoming body cavity searches?
Manual colonoscopies.

It’s not only for your own good, citizen, but it’s for your own good.

UPDATE: Also in the health care reform: Starting in 2014, all Americans must take one flight a year.

The End of At-Will

Ha! I like not that:

A longtime employee of the Whole Foods Market in Brentwood is suing the company for firing her after she complained to her superiors about the alleged mishandling of organic produce.

Elisha Wellman of St. Louis had worked at the store since 2001. But in late August, she was fired, the lawsuit says, after she repeatedly pointed out unsanitary display crates and shelving, and the commingling of organic and nonorganic produce.

“She attempted to bring this to the attention of her managers, then brought it to a regional level, and then a week or so later she lost her job,” said Gary A. Growe, Wellman’s attorney. “They accused her of being involved with some customer complaints some six or eight months ago, that she had nothing to do with.”

Under the “at-will” doctrine, Wellman had the legal ability to quit at anytime, while Whole Foods could fire her at any time, for any reason, unless the termination was discriminatory. But, Growe explained, the law contains a “public policy exemption” that prohibits a company from firing a person if they point out violations of law or policy. It’s under this exemption that Growe is making his case.

“The law gives you the term ‘whistle-blower,'” Growe said.

Given the number of regulations applicable to any business, it’s a very short slippery slope to making anyone who complains at work into a whistle blower, ineligible for termination.

Government Recycles Ideas To Boost Cigarette Tax Revenue

The government returns to an old idea to help boost cigarette tax revenue in decline as people stop smoking: collectible cigarette packs.

In the first major change to cigarette packaging in a quarter-century, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday it will require graphic warning labels on packages, covering half the package’s front and rear. It will also require labeling covering 20 percent of the surface of cigarette ads.

The labels will feature either drawings or photos illustrating graphically the dangers associated with smoking and will be accompanied by text stating that smoking is addictive or that it kills. The pictures are not quite as grim as some used in other countries, but regulators hope they will be sufficiently frightening to keep young people from beginning to smoke and to strengthen the will of those who are attempting to quit.

From Troglopundit, here are what the new collectible packs look like:

Collect them all!

Althouse links to some other designs at the FDA Web site.

No word on the official Denis Leary commemorative tin packs which will be the real centerpiece of the campaign.

Back in the old days, cigars and whatnot came with baseball cards. Now they come with collectible government propoganda.

As I said in a comment at Trog’s, there is a certain remarkable consistency in thought here: our Betters in Washington are sure that the proletariat have not modified its behavior according to the Betters’ wishes simply because the Betters have not effectively explained the Message to the proles.

Killer Whale Lobby: We Need $15 Million Food Assistance Program

Hubristic man, and by “hubristic man,” I mean government with too much revolving credit, considers tampering with nature:

A report by government scientists identifies killer whales as the No. 1 reason there are so few sea otters in southwest Alaska.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed five-year, $15 million recovery plan for sea otters in the Aleutian Islands considered a slew of possible reasons for the perilously low numbers found in some areas.

So is the government thinking about not spending the money? Perish the thought!

The report said there may be “few actions that can be taken” to mitigate predation by killer whales. “But the sea otter recovery program should search for solutions and be open to novel ideas,” the report said.

Why should humans be the only higher order mammal on food stamps? No Orca left behind!

From The Brian J. Noggle Independent, Non-Partisan Institute For Ceaseless Government Expansion

Our new study indicates that, when intoxicated, 83.4% of Americans (MOE 3.2%) would accept someone else getting hit on the head and them (the Americans surveyed) receiving $1,000,000.

We conclude that government could have an important role in this and should buy the beer, get out its cartoon mallet, and start writing its cartoon checks.

Government Growth: A Case Study

This story made a pretty big splash last week as the national media got a sensational bit of shockery and allowed everyone to get into high dudgeon: No pay, no spray: Firefighters let home burn.

The splashy details:

Firefighters in rural Tennessee let a home burn to the ground last week because the homeowner hadn’t paid a $75 fee.

Gene Cranick of Obion County and his family lost all of their possessions in the Sept. 29 fire, along with three dogs and a cat.

A number of people have tried to turn this into a stunning indictment of capitalism. A for-profit fire department? That’s ludicrous!

But it’s an uninformed reading of the situation. Whether willfully or out of ignorance, those who try to indict this particular system don’t get it, but that’s not necessary for sacred ceremony of High Dudgeon of the Statist Order.

Let’s look again:

The fire started when the Cranicks’ grandson was burning trash near the family home. As it grew out of control, the Cranicks called 911, but the fire department from the nearby city of South Fulton would not respond.

“We wasn’t on their list,” he said the operators told him.

Cranick, who lives outside the city limits, admits he “forgot” to pay the annual $75 fee. The county does not have a county-wide firefighting service, but South Fulton offers fire coverage to rural residents for a fee.

Cranick says he told the operator he would pay whatever is necessary to have the fire put out.

His offer wasn’t accepted, he said.

The fire fee policy dates back 20 or so years.

“Anybody that’s not inside the city limits of South Fulton, it’s a service we offer. Either they accept it or they don’t,” said South Fulton Mayor David Crocker.

This house lies outside the fire department’s jurisdiction. It offered residents who did not pay taxes to support the fire department an option for firefighting response for a mere $75 annual fee. This fellow opted out, whether through ignorance, oversight, or just feeling lucky, and when he needed the service, he was not entitled to it.

He said he would pay anything while his house was on fire, but at that point, he would promise anything. Whether he would eventually pay anything, indeed whether he, a rural Tennesseean who cannot pay $75 a year, could pay anything. Expecting the fire department to run a credit check or to accept credit cards on the scene is foolish, and to be honest, it’s almost as big of a public relations hit.

If the fire department did put out the fire of this nonsubscriber to their service who does not pay taxes to support the fire department, it would create a pricing incentive for other rural residents to not pay the annual fee with the expectation that the fire department would come and put out their fires at absolutely no monetary cost to them. When subscriptions dropped enough, the fire department would probably cancel the service at all and let the houses in the county burn.

Of course, the county officials in Obion County are probably preparing dramatic action at this time. “Fellows, we’ve been spotlighted in the national media as a backward county. We must do something to improve our standing in the eyes of the nation! We need expensive Wayfinder signs immediately! Or, barring that, we need professional firefighters paid for by county taxes to cover the county!”

I don’t know how it is all across Missouri, but in the regions where I have lived (the St. Louis area and Springfield), I have been covered either by the local city fire department (in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis) or by a special fire district covering multiple municipalities (as in Maryland Heights, Missouri, in the suburbs of St. Louis and in unincorporated Greene County near Springfield where the Battlefield Fire District covers the town of Battlefield and nearby environs). Let’s use the home I own in Webster Groves as an example. In 2009, I paid $3,139 in tax on it. The portion that goes to the city of Webster Groves is 10.8%. That’s $314. Of that $314, $42 goes to public safety pensions alone. The remainder comes from the general obligations portion of the property tax, capital improvements sales tax, and other city revenue. All in all, it’s more than $75 a year. My home is a pretty modest house for Webster Groves, where the homes can run over $1,000,000. So the tax burden is greater on other people.

As a result of one man’s decision of whether he was at risk for fire and his relative’s risky fire behavior (the grandson was burning garbage near the home, remember), the public will welcome the growth of government in this regard. A professional fire department covering Olbion County will come with its ongoing annual expenses of salaries, pensions, maintenance, training, equipment upgrades, and whatnot. Only the government can provide.

Although municpally funded and district-funded fire departments are prevalent, they are not the only models. Others include subscription-only fire departments, more prevalent historically than contemporarily, but before the government assumed this power, citizens had to provide for themselves and subscription services allowed them to pool resources to buy equipment. Volunteer fire departments still exist; when I was growing up in Jefferson County, Missouri, the High Ridge area was covered by a volunteer corps (although it has since gone to the district model). Pasadena, Texas, covers a city of over 150,000 with a volunteer fire department. And the subscription to nearby fire department model that did not fail in this case.

Discuss the efficacy of different models, particularly as related to regional needs and citizen freedom, though, and opponents will paint you as a pro-fire extremist. Discussion over. Heart-wrenching anecdote, even anecdotes that feature free citizens living with the consequences of their decisions, + Media Outrage = More Government.

And many citizens, who normally would rankle at government, reflexively applaud its growth.

Federal Government Touts Success at Killing Jobs

With many more successes like this, we won’t have any environment-killing commerce at all!

Doe Run Resources Corp. has agreed to spend about $65 million to correct violations of several environmental laws at 10 of its lead mining, milling and smelting facilities in southeast Missouri, according to an announcement Friday.

Also Friday, the company said it will end operations at its Herculaneum lead smelter by the end of 2013, rather than 2016 as required by state regulations for sulfur dioxide emissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency said the company “made a business decision” to shut down the smelter instead of installing pollution control technologies needed to reduce sulfur dioxide and lead emissions as required by the Clean Air Act.

Note how the regulations are state regulations and the decision is the business’s, but the act? All Federal government, baby. And it looks like the plant is closing down just 3 years earlier than planned, but that original plan is due to state regulations designed to comply with Federal law.

I love the little end zone dance here. It’s good for our team, the environment, woo! Those of you on the other side, who have to put food on your families’ tables, IN YOUR FACE!

Meanwhile, China is locking up natural resources and doesn’t give a damn about how many die to produce them because when you’re one in a million in China, there are a thousand just like you.

Certainly, the EPA is doing its job here. It’s job is to thrash businesses who violate regulations and then to create new regulations whose violations will require a thrashing of businesses. Certainly, we could collectively balance commerce with good stewardship, but those entrenched in our Federal ranks just want a good score for their performance reviews.

Since I’m already on the record as being an EXTREMIST! who wants to DISENFRANCHISE VOTERS!, I’d like to add EXTREMIST! who wants to feed LEAD CANDY BARS TO CHILDREN AND TO ACE ALL ON FAWNS by asking if the EPA is doing a job the majority of the population really wants.

Iä! Iä! Bipartisanship!

Is it for something trivial? You bet it is! Does it add regulation to industry? Hell yes!

Legislation to turn down the volume on those loud TV commercials that send couch potatoes diving for their remote controls looks like it’ll soon become law.

The Senate unanimously passed a bill late Wednesday to require television stations and cable companies to keep commercials at the same volume as the programs they interrupt.

Bear in mind that is our beloved Republicans standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Democrats to burden industry for a trivial citizen complaint.

So how good are you feeling about the Brave New Principled Free Market World swearing into the legislature in 2011?

Me, too.

Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

(Link seen on Boots and Sabers.)

It’s Only A Trade-off When You Have A Choice

The same old story:

Some longtime users were furious.

“My dishes were dirtier than before they were washed,” one wrote last week in the review section of the Web site for the Cascade line of dishwasher detergents. “It was horrible, and I won’t buy it again.”

“This is the worst product ever made for use as a dishwashing detergent!” another consumer wrote.

Like every other major detergent for automatic dishwashers, Procter & Gamble’s Cascade line recently underwent a makeover. Responding to laws that went into effect in 17 states in July, the nation’s detergent makers reformulated their products to reduce what had been the crucial ingredient, phosphates, to just a trace.

Right. Notice that in the named example, the corporation changed its formulation to comply with state law. Now, notice how the journalist slides into talking about consumer choices:

Yet now, with the content reduced, many consumers are finding the new formulas as appealing as low-flow showers, underscoring the tradeoffs that people often face today in a more environmentally conscious marketplace.

A tradeoff occurs when people make a decision. In some places, low-flow shower heads are still a customer choice. Unlike, say, low flow toilets and incandescent light bulbs.

Your governments are hard at work to eliminate the trade-offs entirely by making sure you don’t get to trade dirty dishes for ungreen conscience. You just get the dirty dishes, citizen, and unless you want to expose yourself to future reeducation or loss of dishwasher privilege entirely, you will accept it.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

Brian College Mindset List for the Class of 2034

Beloit College came up with its annual Mindset List that reminds us old people the limit of 18-year-olds’ experience. As I previously said, I think this year’s list is full of trivia and little else.

Then I thought, hey, the elected leadership in Washington is glibly fundamentally transforming the country. So what might the Brian College Mindset List for the Class of 2034 look like?

  • This year’s freshmen have never eaten ice cream since the FDA added it to the banned foods list.
  • The class of 2030 have never flown on a plane since commercial flights were banned due to their carbon emissions.
  • They don’t remember the rumble of a V-8 engine. Few remember the sound of an internal combustion engine at all.
  • They have never seen a political ad or an actual political candidate; the National Parliament has always been dissolved and His Excellency has always ruled.
  • Keyboards have always had nine keys, and touch-typing always relied solely on thumbs.
  • They have never burned their hands on an incandescent lightbulb. As a matter of fact, they’ve never seen one.
  • Cars have always had ORedStar installed and mandated, with its velocity capping, roadside assistance, remote unlock, and remote disable service from the Vehicle Maintenance and Safety Administration (VMSA).
  • They don’t know anyone taking a student loan nor do they know what tenure meant.
  • The government has always monitored all audio and video conversations for public safety.
  • This year’s students have never bought a new paper-based book or newspaper.
  • They have never pumped gas.
  • If employed, they have never received a paycheck from an employer; they have only gotten the Government Income Allotment from the Department of Employment and Productivity.
  • Today’s students have always enjoyed mandatory FM radio broadcasts on their imPhones.
  • They don’t remember a time when four corporations owned all channels on television.
  • The National Wildlife Preserve System has always been closed to the public.

My Disability Is That I’m An Animal Less Equal Than Others

I don’t know why conservatives aren’t still in an uproar about the Americans with Disabilities Act and its magical ability for the court to discover new disabilities and new ways that the world should be changed to accommodate smaller and smaller numbers of people. Case in point: Counters at Chipotle restaurants are too high for people in wheelchairs to see over, which is a civil rights affront akin to not letting disabled people worship, vote, or (in Finland) have a broadband computer connection.

Story:

On the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal appeals court said the law entitles wheelchair users at a restaurant to the same view as everyone else of the food that awaits them – in this case, burritos, tacos and the rest of the fare at Chipotle Mexican Grill.

The 45-inch-high wall between the customer line and the food preparation counter at two Chipotle restaurants in San Diego County, which blocked the view of patrons in wheelchairs, violated the 1990 federal law that requires equal treatment of the disabled, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Monday.

That’s going to apply to Subways, too, you know, and it might well apply to any restaurant like Zio’s here in Springfield, the Elephant Bar in St. Louis, or the Macaroni Grill chain that has a small wall dividing the kitchen from the dining area. As a result, of course, they will simply put in a full wall and stop preparing the food in the open. The disabled won’t get to see it anyway, nor will anyone else. This is the Harrison Bergeron world of the ADA.

Somehow, bad ideas passed into law become untouchable after a certain amount of time. A statute of limitations makes them unopposable, or some sort of legislative stare decisis sets in and you can’t cure a case of it with antibiotics. Sometimes, the trigger of veneration is just the president’s signature, depending upon the party of the President and the sweeping nature of the power grab.

People who oppose them or dare, dare to ask for some sort of proof that the ideas work or solve the problem, much less ask if those laws are a legitimate or moral function of government get labeled as wingnuts or extremists by right-thinking people in politics, government, and the press.

Republicans and conservatives running for office should not shy away from questioning these laws, whether the purposefully nebulous ADA, a ban on incandescent light bulbs, centralization of education into a Federal Department, or Obamacare. The press and the ruling class might well pillory conservative candidates for this stance–a rational, open mind–now, but a growing portion of the electorate is becoming amenable to considering it if candidates can provide reasoned arguments for dismantling the existing structure of the bloated government.

Too many people think the Republicans don’t want to do that, but you know what you call politicians and candidates who lay out reasoned paths, convince constituents of their values, and then carry them out? Leaders. Unironically and without quotation marks.

(Link seen on Althouse. Those playing the MfBJN drinking game (rules) take a shot. Given how few people actually read this, I can buy.)