Archive for August, 2010

War against ammunition heats up

Lead, first employed in weaponry by the Romans, has been the metal of choice for use in bullets and shotgun shells for more than seven centuries. However, since at least the mid-1980s, its use has been under attack by various environmental and animal rights groups, joined periodically by government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  In recent months the campaign has heated up considerably, and gives no sign of cooling down; within the U.S. or abroad.

The movement against lead in ammunition has progressed much farther in Europe than here.  For one thing, the culture prevalent in Europe (Switzerland being a notable exception) considers firearms ownership a privilege rather than a right; subject to easy and frequent government control.  The environmental and animal rights movement is also well-entrenched throughout Europe and within the European Union bureaucracy.

These forces in Europe have resulted in at …

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Mega-schools are mega-dumb

The Golden State, or the “Left Coast” as California is known to many who marvel at the state’s many foibles, is once again at the top of the list of idiocies.  The most expensive public school ever built in the United States (and probably, the entire world) is set to open in just days in the City of Angels.  The price tag for this monument to coddled school children from kindergarten through 12th grade?  A mere $578 million!  Nearly $600 million to build .  .  .  a school. 

With California facing a state budget deficit of more than $19 billion, and the city of Los Angeles itself weighing in with a not-insubstantial deficit of $222 million, one might have expected that cooler, more fiscally responsible heads would have prevailed, and cut back the cost of this latest mega-school by at leasy a few hundred million dollars.  But no, not in La La Land, where nothing is too good or too costly for the Children of the Sun. 

While their tax-paying parents sweat about how …

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Ft. Hood massacre recommendations – bureaucratic pap

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates last week signed off on a report containing the “Final Recommendations of the Ft. Hood Follow-on Review.”  Reading this 23-page compilation of recommendations in conjunction with the January 2010 “Report of the DoD Independent Review,” one can readily understand why Maj. Nidal Hasan was able to stroll around Ft. Hood, Texas last November 5th and calmly shoot to death 13 people and wound many more.  The Army was ill-prepared to identify Nidal as a potential shooter (though the signs were legion), and even less  able to stop him once he started his deadly rampage.

The January report was an 80-page, feel-good document that added precious little to developing concrete solutions necessary to avoid a similar catastrophe.  Last week’s recommendations illustrate graphically that the U.S. Army, for all its considerable capability to wage war overseas, remains bureaucratically moribund and indecisive when it comes to dealing with serious …

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Government increasingly mocks Constitution

As I prepared for my first constitutional law seminar of the fall semester at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta last week, I was reminded again of the majesty of the document which forms the basis for my teaching role.  I have always considered the Constitution of the United States to be the most magnificent document ever writ by the hand of Man. It is profound in its clarity of purpose and its deep understanding of human nature.  It outshines by orders of magnitude other, more “modern” government blueprints; such as the multi-hundred page, detail-burdened European Union version.

It is the Constitution alone to which top government officials, including the President and members of Congress, take an oath upon assuming office.  They swear to protect and defend the Constitution; not their opinions or their policies; not what their constituents might want from government; and certainly not what office holders themselves seek to have government do for themselves or their …

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Blagojevich prosecution raises troubling questions

Yes, he may be foul-mouthed and irreverant; boastful and egotistic; and he often appears to be living in a world not always in synch with that in which we expect and wish elected officials operated.  But you gotta give credit where credit is due; and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is one tough cookie.  For over a year and a half, facing a federal indictment with two dozen charges that could subject him to decades behind bars, Blagojevich never backed down, never even hinted at caving to the tremendous pressure to try and cut a deal, and never lost his sense of humor (which is extensive). 

About three months ago, the Main Event got under way, with a federal jury trial in Chicago.  The government presented the results of its multi-year undercover investigation of Blagojevich, his brother, and former associates.  For week after week, the jury listened to some of the literally hundreds of hours of surveillance tapes the government made of the former governor’s …

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Nanny State alert — Bus seat belts to be mandated

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, moving to solidify his status as the nation’s Nanny-in-Chief, has shifted his focus from using the might of the federal government to outlaw texting while driving, to now require that commercial buses be outfitted with lap-shoulder safety belts.  Never content to let the marketplace determine if consumers care sufficiently about a safety item to use their buying power to force manufacturers to incorporate those features in their products, Uncle Sam is once again forcing the marketplace to adhere to its dictates.  In this instance, LaHood is citing the fact that in an average year there are 19 (that’s correct, 19, one-nine, only) fatalities involving passengers on commercial motorcoaches, as the “crisis” necessitating this federal mandate.  Initially, the regulation will apply only to new motorcoaches, but once the door is opened, it will be only a matter of time before mission creep sets in and the mandate is expanded.

The pattern is …

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It’s time for direct US-Iran Meetings

It has been nearly 33 years since a president of the United States met face-to-face with the leader of the world’s 20th most populace country; a nation that enjoys the third largest known reserves of oil and the second greatest reserves of natural gas.  Yet, if President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, retired General James Jones, is to be believed, the upcoming convening of the United Nations General Assembly may very well bring together the leaders of the United States and Iran for the first time since Jimmy Carter hosted the Shah of Iran in the White House in November 1977.

This is not the first time the stars aligned in favor of a meeting of these two adversaries.  In February 2009, less than one month after Obama was sworn in, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said publicly that his country was “ready for talks” with Washington.  These overtures were not immediately embraced by the Obama administration, but a month later, on March 20, 2009, in a …

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Government “health” bullies target kids’ lemonade stands

In one of the latest, but by no means isolated examples of the Nanny State run amok, so-called “health inspectors” are shutting down kids’ neighborhood lemonade stands.  These regulatory bullies are forcing kids who want to supplement their allowances by offering a cool glass of lemonade for a few cents to willing consumers, to either pay for a “temporary restaurant license” or be shut down.  A seven-year old girl in Portland, Oregon, is but the latest victim of this bizarre government action.

Little Julie Murphy was confronted by one of these government intimidators while selling lemonade at a neighborhood fair and forced to stop her enterprise because she had failed to secure a $120 license.  Had she continued to engage in the apparently deadly act of selling lemonade without a license, the “health” inspector informed her she would be subject to a $500 fine. 

Oregon’s lemonade police defended their actions by claiming they were simply there to “protect” …

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“Liar, liar, pants on fire” — Feds keep x-ray images

Ever since the federal government began deploying the new-fangled, full-body x-ray machines at airports and federal buildings to make us “safer,” Uncle Sam has been assuring us that the images of essentially naked bodies that the controversial machines take would not be recorded or stored.  Well, surprise — it now turns out the government has been lying.  The full-body x-ray machines not only do record the images they take of law-abiding citizens (and others) but also store the images.

As a result of efforts by private organizations — most notably the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) — to uncover the truth about the government’s use of these privacy-invasive devices, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the U.S. Marshals Service, have been forced to admit publicly that the machines in fact do exactly what the feds had assured us they would not do.

Even in the face of these recent …

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Time to limit 14th Amendment “anchor baby” language

The summer months of 1967 are recalled by many middle-aged hippies as the “Summer of Love.”  The summer of 2010 may be remembered as the “Summer of Immigration Discontent.”  From Arizona to Nebraska, and in political contests from California to Georgia, immigration debates raged white-hot across the land. 

  •  In Fremont, Nebraska a local, immigration-based law was passed that would require any person, regardless of their immigration status, to register with the local police and obtain a permit before being able to reside in any dwelling within the city limits.
  • In Phoenix, a federal judge granted in large part an injunction sought by the Obama Administration to halt implementation of the state law passed earlier this year, commonly referred to as “S.B. 1070,” that would have significantly enhanced the power of state and local law enforcement authorities to take action against known or suspected illegal aliens.
  • In Georgia’s gubernatorial primary, one Republican …

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