Monday, January 10, 2011

Last Call: Epic 'We Told You So' Fail

What happens when you set up expensive restrictions on buying legal, easily available medicines in a hungry economy?  Tune in to find out!

ST. LOUIS – Electronic systems that track sales of the cold medicine used to make methamphetamine have failed to curb the drug trade and instead created a vast, highly lucrative market for profiteers to buy over-the-counter pills and sell them to meth producers at a huge markup.
An Associated Press review of federal data shows that the lure of such easy money has drawn thousands of new people into the methamphetamine underworld over the last few years.
I can't say we didn't try to tell them so.  When I was a member of the News-Leader's Editorial Advisory Board this was my pet project, and more than one op-ed expressed disappointment and outrage at the way our legislators handled the meth crisis.  Missouri's legislation to protect us from meth labs has backfired, and a new option has come up for college students or homeless looking to make a few quick bucks.   Missouri has taken the top honors in meth incidents for seven years running, but instead of seeing the folly of tracking purchases, the state is preparing to pour even more money into efforts to track the purchase of cold tablets.

"One reason these numbers have gone up is because of law enforcement's ability to track and locate the people producing meth," said Keith Cain, sheriff in Daviess County, Ky. "If we pull the plug on electronic tracking, we lose the ability to see where these labs are at. I fear we would regress 10 years."

I respectfully disagree.  The number of cases are on the rise, but they are in measure with the increase we see in meth use overall.  Tracking purchases is wasting money building a database that should be illegal in the first place, and requiring a prescription for a legal substance puts an unfair burden on the uninsured and the poor.  While I am all for supporting law enforcement and helping them protect the community, this goes too far.  If by regressing ten years Cain means going back to the days when law enforcement used footwork and reasonable doubt before burdening its most vulnerable citizens, I'm all for it.  If you want to win the war on drugs, you fight against the people manufacturing it, not creating a system that creates new friendships and networks for people who may have never gotten involved in the first place.

Follow Up: Twitter Subpoena Called Harassment

A lawyer for Julian Assange calls the Department of Justice's request for Twitter information "harassment" and points out that this violates the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.

Is he right?  I think so.  Generally, I am suspicious of lawyers in general because they are paid to have opinions that support their clients.  In this case, however, what we have is an incredibly broad search that is aimed towards anyone who "may" be connected.  In other words, they are mining data to try to make connections, and our search and seizure laws are designed to work the other way around.  The DOJ should be stating specifically what they are looking for, instead of being allowed to fish and retain copies of users private information.    It also paves the way for abuse of search if the group or association isn't criminal but merely unsavory.

The agency’s subpoena of Twitter is “grossly overbroad” and would give prosecutors access to data on a member of Iceland’s parliament and more than 634,000 people who follow WikiLeaks’ so-called tweets on the site, Stephens said. Similar information was sought from Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and EBay Inc.’s Skype unit, he said.

Regardless of how one feels about Assange, this bears watching.  The potential for abuse is overwhelming, and our ability to resist temptation equally underwhelming. I hope this is squashed for many reasons, but mostly so that our information won't be "sifted" for a reason like then, then stored for review, and then really just put into a databank where it is stored until convenient.  I have been aware of this danger for a long time, but I'm still amazed by how quickly our principles are being put to the test.

Exciting New Horizons In Obama Derangement Syndrome

Jim Hoft over at Gateway Pundit deserves some kind of award for his new depths in Obama Derangement Syndrome.

Hoft headlines his latest post "Whoops! This Changes Things- Loughner's Hero Was Barack Obama," then proceeds to breathlessly exclaim that "Killer Jared Loughner idolized Barack Obama."

He sources this scoop to "The Examiner" "via Free Republic" and links to a blog post by Anthony Martin at In the portion of his post excerpted by Hoft, Martin writes:
Even more curious are Loughner's 'heroes.'  He mentions by name Venezuelan Communist Hugo Chavez, Latin American Communist mass-murderer Che Guevara, American Socialist revolutionary Saul Alinsky, and even Barack Obama.
The link takes you to the Free Republic message board, where a commenter by the name of "Scanian" writes:
From facebook for a Jared Laughner from Tuscon, Arizona, the man named as the shooter. People who inspire him include Barack Obama, Saul Alinsky, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Huo Chavez, Noam Chomsky, Mao Tse-tung, Joseph Stalin, and Yassir Arafat. He writes "Fight the Right! Obama and the Progressives will overcome the tyrrany of big business and the racist Tea Party.
You'll notice a glaring problem with this assertion: namely, that the shooter's name was Jared LOughner, not "Laughner." (The spelling of his name was originally misreported by several media outlets.)

Which leads to....a fake Facebook profile.

You want to talk about a fact-check problem. Hoft has already indicted the President on fake evidence.

Despicable bastard.

[UPDATE]  Jim Hoft will post anything, won't he.

BREAKING NEWS: Loughner home contains egress, parents know to masticate daily.

Greek Fire, Part 26

Spreads on Greek bonds compared to their benchmark German counterparts hit a whopping 1000 basis points today.  News that Portugal will need a lifeline imminently too is driving the run on the euro right now.

The 10-year bond yield exceeded the equivalent German yield by 10 percentage points for the first time, only a day before a euro1.5 billion ($1.96 billion) auction of 6-month treasury bills - considered an important test of market sentiment.

Greece has launched a major effort to cut borrowing costs in exchange for bailout loans worth euro110 billion from the IMF and other countries using the euro.

The government says it wants to return to long-term bond markets sometime this year.

But the interest gap, or spread, on 10-year bonds compared with the German issue reached a worrying 1,001.1 basis points amid renewed worries about some EU nations' fight to handle heavy debt loads.

Greece's Socialist government is struggling to push through reforms demanded by bailout-loan inspectors that are meant to replace drastic one-off spending cuts and emergency tax measures with longer-term fiscal improvements.

Problem is, without borrowing Greece can't fund those improvements, and that means more drastic cuts ahead.   Things are getting nasty in the eurozone now, as the next bailout contestant is looking to be Portugal.

A senior euro zone source told Reuters on Sunday that Germany, France and other euro zone countries were pushing Portugal to seek an EU-IMF assistance programme, following Greece and Ireland, in a bid to prevent contagion spreading to much larger Spain, the fourth biggest economy in the euro area.

That would leave Spain as the only PIGS country without a bailout if that happens, and everyone says SPain is too big to bail out.  We'll find out before too long, I think.

When A Good Trick Backfires...

... innocent people get shot.  Good people crumble under pressure piled on by a failed economy and bleak future.  And a once noble country nears the point of no return.

We fell for a trick, folks.  We have been polarized as a nation because the people in power want to win.  Not to do good, or to change the world, or to make their mark on history.  Nope.  We were sold out for some powerful jerk to get a "neener neener" moment in on his buddies.  Government seems very little about governing the country anymore.  It is about power, getting what you want and winning no matter the cost.  We're paying for this game and suffering the consequences.

Sarah Palin is the worst example I can think of when it comes to this problem.  Her sole purpose is that of a wedge.  When she was popular, she was a wedge between Democrats and Republicans.  Now that her mask has slipped, she is now a division among those she supposedly represents.  The Arizona fiasco is only one time of many that she has proven herself to be stubborn, tasteless and immature.  The very idea of her involvement in foreign relations makes me sick, and scared.  Very scared.

We need to see this wake-up call for what it is, and listen.  It isn't about defeating the other guys, it's about maintaining our country, and looking ahead to make sure we remain stable and safe.  Everything else comes second to that.  Those who have forgotten that will be the ruin of this country, if we allow.  Maybe it took the death of an innocent child among others to make us realize that when you apply pressure for too long, people snap.  And that when government fails to do its job, countries collapse. It can happen to us, as painful as that is to realize.  We're not to the point of no return yet.  We can still turn it around and climb out of this hole.  But it will take maturity and real leadership, not just cawing and screeching at the masses.  Sadly, that's in short supply.

Civil Stupidity: Advice For Working Women

I was actually looking for something else when I stumbled across this article.  It gives advice for women who want to advance, and some interesting information about women at work.  For example, women account for 14.4% of executive positions.  You can read some interesting breakdowns by clicking here.

The first and foremost piece of advice?  Don't think the workplace is fair.  Acknowledge that this block exists, and form it into your strategy.  Forget that whole "equal" junk that business tout and look at the real picture.  Also, take a realistic look at your company.  Do you see women advancing, or do you see token promotions to satisfy the minimum requirement?  I just left a company that did not pay equally, and did not promote fairly.  In the end, if your company isn't cutting the requirements, take your ball and play somewhere else.  I moved from a shady LLC to a nationally known company, who clearly states their intent to reduce bias and discrimination in the workplace.

The article also advises to take a proactive role in your career development.  Women are more inclined to bury into work, produce great results, and drown in the resulting aftermath of more hard work. Take charge, and don't be afraid to call out inequality when you see it.  Just go through the proper channels, and make sure your head does the talking, not your emotions.

It isn't fair that women are held to a different standard.  For now, we can work around it, but in the future I hope that we won't have to.  Business is business, and women have the ability to outshine their male counterparts.  That doesn't mean every woman is smarter, or more talented.  It means the ones who are should be given fair opportunity and equal pay.  While the job market recovers, it would be a great time to let this guide hiring principles, and set the stage for real growth.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

I don't know what's worse, Jennifer Rubin's hackery bemoaning the politicization of Saturday's shooting while blaming the left for the entire ordeal for the crime of even bringing up the idea that rhetoric might have been taken seriously...

We saw the same phenomenon following the Oklahoma City bombing and the Holocaust museum shooting when MSNBC hosts and liberal pundits blamed the incidents on radio talk show hosts. These exercises in blame-mongering inevitably run aground when inconvenient details muddle the "talk show hosts did it" mantra (e.g. Did radio talk show hosts tell the Holocaust museum shooter to target the conservative Weekly Standard offices?) The same is true in this incident. You can almost hear the disappointment from the left that he was a pothead rather than a Tea Partyer.

It is as noxious to associate Saturday's shooting with conservative campaign rhetoric, even that which is over-the-top, as it would be to claim that violence is the doing of those who labeled Tea Partyers un-American (as Democratic leaders did during the health-care debate) or of those who accuse senators of being unpatriotic (as a liberal newspaper columnist recently did). If a lunatic attacks a businessman, are we to blame Obama for vilifying the Chamber of Commerce? Was the attack on an Arkansas recruiting station the fault of anti-war liberal Democrats? Of course not. The impulse to blame political opponents for tragedy and to convert human misery into a political weapon -- both of which were played out on Twitter and the Internet by liberals as diverse as Paul Krugman, Jane Fonda, and the Daily Kos crowd -- is deeply regrettable. But it has unfortunately become par for the course. 

...Or the Daily Beast's Ben Sarlin, who pens a long screed about how the real victims here are the Tea Party patriot groups who now fear violence will be directed at them...

Josh Trevino, a co-founder of Red State and a partner at consulting firm Rogue Strategic Services, said he had grown used to seeing conservatives under fire after similar incidents in the past, citing Mayor Bloomberg's speculation after an attempted Times Square bombing that the terrorist might have been motivated by the passage of health-care reform.

"It's happened before, it will happen again." he said. He added that he believed such claims were in part a coordinated political attack.

"There's a reason Democrats and the left do what they do in trying to blame Tea Parties and the right—they're out of ammo, so to speak. They were fairly comprehensively defeated in November," he said. "I wouldn't say it's a strategic reaction, but it's certainly a tactical reaction to these disadvantages."

...Or right wing radio host Jon Justice, who is demanding Pima County, Arizona's Sherriff Clarence Dupnik step down for his comments on rhetoric last night...

Right-wing radio host Jon Justice, who is on KQTH FM 104.1 in Arizona, has called for Dupnik's resignation and taken issue with the sheriff's singling-out of talk radio.
"To say, as Dupnik did, that comments made on the airwaves essentially motivated this person to commit this crime is exactly what he blamed talk radio of doing, inciting through pure rhetoric," Justice said in a statement to Tucson Weekly. "It was complete misuse of his power and he owes the media in town, TV and radio, an apology for his horrible comments in the middle of such a tragic day. He should step down immediately from his position as Pima County Sheriff."

...Or Tea Party Nation leader Judson Philips, who is blaming liberals for Saturday's assassination attempt.

TPN founder Judson Phillips, in an article linked off the e-mail "The shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and the left's attack on the Tea Party movement," described the shooter as "a leftist lunatic" and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik as a "leftist sheriff" who "was one of the first to start in on the liberal attack." Phillips urged tea party supporters to blame liberals for the attack on centrist Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who was shot through the head and is now fighting for her life, as a means of defending the tea party movement's recent electoral gains.

"The hard left is going to try and silence the Tea Party movement by blaming us for this," he wrote. Clinton used the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing to "blame conservative talk radio, especially Rush Limbaugh" and "The tactic worked then, backing conservatives off and possibly helping to ensure a second Clinton term."

"The left is coming and will hit us hard on this. We need to push back harder with the simple truth. The shooter was a liberal lunatic. Emphasis on both words," he wrote.

And you will continue to hear this in the day, weeks, and months ahead.  If you criticize the Tea Party, you are only contributing to the climate of victimization of these poor, voiceless, powerless souls.  How dare you say anything bad about them.  You're not allowed.  And if you do, God help you.  The narrative is already being written, the facts are already being made concrete, the familiar themes are already being blasted out into the airwaves again.

When this happens again, the process will be repeated.

It is possible to say "enough of this violent rhetoric".  I said it before this massacre happened.  It's even more valid now.

And no, it's not the same.

Mitt On The Road

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is trying to burnish his foreign policy cred with a trip to the Middle East this week.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney left Friday for a one-week trip to Afghanistan, Israel, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

Romney senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told CNN Romney had meetings scheduled with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

"The purpose of the trip is not to conduct private diplomacy, but to give Governor Romney a first-hand look at what is happening in an important region of the world," Fehrnstrom said in a statement.

The trip is paid for by a combination of private sources including the International Republican Institute and the American Israel Education Foundation.

Pretty clear Romney is trying to set himself up as the "sensible candidate" heading into the 2011 primary season.  Can you imagine Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann doing something like this?  It would be a disaster, although to be fair to both of them it would be badly needed experience in foreign policy.

Still, the smart 2012 money remains on Mittens, and it seems people are spending that smart money now as an investment later.  You don't just magically get a trip to meet the leaders of Jordan, Afghanistan and Israel from a cereal box.

Smart move.

Protection Connection

A Pennsylvania Democrat wants to introduce legislation that will extend the laws dealing with threats against the President to all members of Congress and federal judges.

Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) reportedly plans to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to use language or symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a federal official or member of Congress.

Brady told CNN that he wants federal lawmakers and officials to have the same protections against threat currently provided to the president. His call comes one day after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot, along with 19 other people, at a public event in Tucson. A suspect is currently in custody.

"The president is a federal official," Brady told CNN in a telephone interview. "You can't do it to him; you should not be able to do it to a congressman, senator or federal judge."

I'm not 100% sure I agree with this, even in the wake of Saturday's shooting.  It seems a step too far and yet a large part of me sees the need to tone down the rhetoric.  I just don't think this is the right way to do it, and I'm not sure it will pass Constitutional muster.  On the other hand, I disagree with this from ABC's Amy Walters:

As someone who covers Washington and campaigns I’m usually looking for the opportunity to link any and all events back to politics.  In the wake of the tragedy in Tucson, however, I think we need to focus less on the political and more on the cultural.

We can’t blame heated political rhetoric for this senseless tragedy anymore than we can blame violent video games, movies and TV shows.  American culture not only condones violence, but often celebrates it as well.

Maybe that's a problem.  We'll see.


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