Archive for October, 2009

CDC and guns — here it goes again!

With the H1N1 “swine” flu season moving into full swing, and with AIDS/HIV and other deadly diseases continuing to plague millions of Americans, one might think that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), would have its hands full.  After all, the CDC “serves as the national focus for developing and applying disease prevention and control,  .  .  .  to improve the health of the people of the United States.”  You might be inclined to think that with all that’s happening here and around the world posing very real and very serious health risks to the American citizenry, the CDC would have sense enough not to squander its resources on matters wholly unrelated to health and infectious diseases.  If you made such a presumption, you’d be flat wrong.

The CDC, like many if not all federal bureaucracies, seems always to be searching for new projects and agendas in which to involve itself.  One “problem” on which the CDC has now focussed its attention, is gun control.  That’s …

Continue reading CDC and guns — here it goes again! »

Flu “emergency” powers can be extensive

President Obama has declared the H1N1 or “swine” flu a “national emergency.”  Exactly what this will mean to the average citizen remains unclear, as shortages of the swine flu vaccine continue; but it is unlikely that simply declaring an “emergency” will relieve bottlenecks in distribution or cause additional supplies to magically appear.  What is perhaps more interesting, will be if governors follow the president’s lead and start declaring state “emergencies” simply because the H1N1 flu virus has appeared in their state.  Various “emergency declaration” provisions in state law books or currently being considered by state legislatures (such as in Massachusetts) give the governors extensive, if not downright frightening powers once an “emergency” is declared.

Legislation currently pending in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for example, would allow the governor to forceably quarantine citizens in the event he declares a “health emergency.”  Forced vaccinations could also …

Continue reading Flu “emergency” powers can be extensive »

“Perfect Storm” For UN Gun Control Agenda

The folks at United Nations headquarters in New York City, and our “allies” at Number 10 Downing Street in London, must be rubbing their hands with glee. Gun control groups here and abroad likewise are at last quietly cheering. Why? After a decade and a half of pushing unsuccessfully to secure America’s support for a legally-binding, international instrument to regulate the marketing, transfer and brokering in firearms, they are now on the brink of success. The process of formally negotiating an Arms Trade Treaty (“ATT”) now has Washington’s seal of approval; announced October 14th by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

It was not always thus.

In the summer of 2001, the UN formally launched its multi-year effort to institutionalize its role as regulator of international transfers of firearms; something it had coveted openly since the mid-1990s. In July 2001, John Bolton had been serving as President George W. Bush’s undersecretary of state for arms control and …

Continue reading “Perfect Storm” For UN Gun Control Agenda »

New federal marijuana policy a welcome change

In 2005, the United States Supreme Court struck a blow against the medicinal use of marijuana and against the notion that states can enact and enforce their own laws without being trumped by the federal government.  In the Gonzalez v. Raich decision, the High Court used the Constitution’s much-abused “interstate commerce” clause as a basis on which to uphold a federal prosecution of two women who grew and used small amounts of marijuana under a doctor’s care, in compliance with California’s law permitting medicinal use of marijuana.

The Raich opinion personified the perspective of the administration of George W. Bush toward medicinal marijuana useage as well as state’s powers.  On October 19th, in a partial but welcome reversal of that Bush-era policy, the Department of Justice issued new guidelines for United States Attorneys in those states (California and 14 others) that have medicinal marijuana laws on the books.  Henceforth, so long as individuals in those states are …

Continue reading New federal marijuana policy a welcome change »

Making nasty faces now a Patriot Act Violation

Back when the USA PATRIOT Act (short for the complete title of the massive bill — the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act”) was being debated by the Congress in the weeks following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush Administration told the Congress the legislation had to be passed in order to protect the nation from any similarly destructive acts of terrorism in the future.  I distinctly recall being informed that the Patriot Act was absolutely essential to stop acts of bio-terrorism and similarly dangerous and frightening acts that could lead to multiple if not massive casualties.

Well, here we are, almost exactly eight years after then-President Bush signed the Patriot Act into law, and what do we have?  We have a respected Washington, DC public relations executive facing felony charges under the Patriot Act for allegedly “acting” or “appearing” drunk on a commercial airliner …

Continue reading Making nasty faces now a Patriot Act Violation »

Robo-scanning at airports may be near

Two years ago in this column, I wrote that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was deploying “Behavior Detection Officers” (BDOs) at America’s airports to watch for “suspicious” behavior exhibited by people at those facilities.  The program purported to teach undercover TSA employees to scan people at airports – not just passengers waiting to pass through security, but everyone – for tell-tale signs of nervousness, which could then lead to their being interrogated and possibly arrested. 

I complained at the time of this significant expansion of TSA’s jurisdiction (the “mission creep” that seems to bedevil virtually every government agency), and reminded readers of the evils of attempting to “profile” people based on behavior characteristics.  

Earlier this year, I wrote again about TSA’s fixation with technology, as evidenced by its plan to greatly expand the number of full-body x-ray machines at airports.

Well, those loveable folks …

Continue reading Robo-scanning at airports may be near »

Border fence boondoggle

The much-heralded and much-maligned 600-mile long border fence between the United States and Mexico, is morphing into a typical government boondoggle — way over budget, way behind schedule, and way short of its promised goals. 

The border fence, designed to thwart illegal border crossings into the U.S. from our southern neighbor, was supposed to have been completed this year.  However, estimates now place its completion date seven years hence — 2016, to be exact.  Its construction costs have sky-rocketed, as has the amount of money needed just to maintain it, which now is estimated by the Government Accountability Office at $6.5 billion over the next two decades.

Although the fence was envisioned by its congressional and Bush Administration proponents as providing a near-impenetrable barrier to those intent on entering our country illegally from Mexico, the reality is that it is anything but.  Sandstorms in the arid border area frequently render unusable the expensive …

Continue reading Border fence boondoggle »

RealID real sneaky

The federal government may not be able to balance a budget or define the goals of a foreign military operation, but it sure excels at finding ways to gather more and more private data on more and more citizens.  Two of Washington’s latest targets from which to gather personal data are students of higher education, and people who need healthcare and are looking for tax credits.  

The move to nationalize the delivery of health care in America — which received a slight boost just yesterday with the Senate Finance Committee passing the Max Baucus health care bill out of the Finance Committee — offers government snoops a vast new universe of private health data to gather. 

And, as more and more students turn to Uncle Sam to help defray or cover the cost of their university education, the folks in Washington, DC are finding it increasingly easier to get America’s young people and their families to relinquish the privacy of their financial information for a little help from …

Continue reading RealID real sneaky »

“Carbon footprint” smoke and mirrors

Several months ago, I caught an episode of Penn & Teller’s “Bull****” that showed people collecting money in parking lots from shoppers, by making them feel guilty that their vehicles were contributing to global warming.  People were actually being made to feel sufficiently guilty about driving an SUV to the super market, that they were handing over money to a perfect stranger.  These were not actors hired by Penn & Teller to illustrate a point; they were real – albeit mighty stupid – people who apparently are part of the “green generation.”  Members of this growing movement apparently feel guilty that mankind has over the course of its sorry existence, so desecrated Mother Earth that we must now spend our lives atoning for such sins as driving cars, flying on airplanes, or turning on electric lights. 

 P.T. Barnum actually underestimated the number of suckers born every minute.

 Apparently this is no longer a few sappy people in La La Land taking a break …

Continue reading “Carbon footprint” smoke and mirrors »

Over-criminalization of cold medicines

A grandmother of triplets in Indiana recently discovered what it means to be on the receiving end of a bad law and an overzealous, uncaring prosecutor.  Sally Harpold faces jail and a criminal record not for child abuse, extortion, or grand theft auto.  No; she’s being prosecuted by Vermillion County District Attorney Nina Alexander for buying two small boxes of cold medicine within one week.  This truly is law enforcement run amok.

Thanks to Republican President George W. Bush, who signed legislation in 2006 that “strengthened” the USA PATRIOT Act, the federal government now regulates the sale and purchase of all forms of cold medicines and related drugs that contain pseudoephedrine.  The reason for this chapter in the “Nanny State” is that a relatively small number of individuals were purchasing large quantities of Sudafed and other pseudoephedrine-containing, over-the-counter medications, to use in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine, a Controlled Substance.  …

Continue reading Over-criminalization of cold medicines »