Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks


Eggs, Omelets, etc.

Here is a police video.  It’s a warrant service on a chap who was believed to have an excessive amount of marijuana in his home.

Alas, the house wasn’t chock full of the sweet hemp of happiness.  Fortunately, however, the family owned a couple of dogs, so the raid wasn’t a total loss.

Megan McArdle says it very well:

This is our nation’s drug enforcement in a nutshell.  We started out by banning the things.  And people kept taking them.  So we made the punishments more draconian.  But people kept selling them.  So we pushed the markets deep into black market territory, and got the predictable violence . . . and then we upped our game, turning drug squads into quasi-paramilitary raiders.  Somewhere along the way, we got so focused on enforcing the law that we lost sight of the purpose of the law, which is to make life in America better.

I don’t know how anyone can watch that video, and think to themselves, “Yes, this is definitely worth it to rid the world of the scourge of excess pizza consumption and dopey, giggly conversations about cartoons.”

And, frankly, I wouldn’t care if the guy had a room full of China White stacked up to the ceiling like he was Authualpa stockpiling gold for Pizarro.  Absent a compelling physical threat from the “dealer”, there’s simply no reason for the police to launch this style of paramilitary raid on a home, especially with children present. Yet, this has become practically the standard method of warrant service.  It’ll probably come as a shock to you, but I can remember a time when nightime raids on private homes were considered the hallmark of police states.

Now, it’s just called “policing”.

And if the 7 year-old kid in the video had been clipped by a stray round or richochet, I’m sure the officers involved would regret it, personally. But, they would undoubtedly say, “I was just doing my job,” a phrase that runs a close second only to “I was only following orders” in the Banality of Evil Hall of Fame.

And the idea that their choice of these tactics will eventually make such an outcome inevitable would probably never even occur to them at all.


Observations: The Qando Podcast for 09 May 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss unemployment, Greece, and the BP offshore drilling leak.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Closing in on the Times Square bomber? (UPDATED)

Via ABC:

Federal authorities are closing in on the man they say is a person of interest in the Times Square car bomb attempt this weekend, who is described as a naturalized American citizen who hails from Pakistan and just returned after spending five months there.

There is growing evidence the bomber did not act alone and had ties to radical elements overseas, with one senior official telling ABC News there are several individuals believed to be connected with the bombing and that at least one of them is a Pakistani-American.

Attorney General Eric Holder said today the investigators had made “substantial progress” in tracking the man who drove a Nissan Pathfinder into New York’s Times Square with a crude bomb that failed to detonate.

UPDATE:

OK, so they really were closing in on someone. According to NBC:

Authorities arrested a suspect in the attempted weekend car bombing in Times Square, NBC News’ justice correspondent Pete Williams reported early Tuesday morning.

A U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, Shahzad Faisal, was arrested Monday night on Long Island, Williams reported.

Earlier, an official told The Associated Press that the potential suspect recently traveled to Pakistan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the case was at a sensitive stage.

He seems like a helpful, chap, though, assisting the FBI by apparently leaving an email trail.

The officials said the man was a Connecticut resident who paid cash weeks ago for the SUV parked in Times Square on Saturday and rigged with a crude propane-and-gasoline bomb.

NBC’s Williams reported the man’s name was on an e-mail that was sent to the seller of the car last month, as well as other evidence suggesting he had a role in the attempted bombing.

And while he pulled the VIN plaque off the dashboard, he didn’t go through the trouble of removing the embossed VINs from the engine or axle.

Apparently this rocket scientist–always assuming the FBI has the right guy, and not another Richard Jewel–couldn’t have made himself easier to find if he’d dropped a yellow dye marker, and powered up a rescue strobe and homing beacon.

Interestingly, he appears to have been born and raised in Connecticut, although he is a fellow of Middle Eastern ethnicity.


Observations: The Qando Podcast for 02 May 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the economy, Charlie Crist, and the Times Square bombing attempt. Billy Hollis checks in, too.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.


Car Bomb Attempt in Times Square

The details are still a bit sketchy, but NYPD has evacuated Times Square after discovering a car bomb.

Police said a Nissan Pathfinder at West 45th Street and Seventh Avenue was loaded with a bomb made of electrical components, three propane gas tanks and two additional gas canisters. They received the call about the suspicious vehicle around 6:30 p.m. and blocked the area from West 43rd to 47th streets along Broadway and Seventh Avenue with metal railings. Parts of 48th Street were also closed.

A press conference from NYPD is scheduled momentarily.

UPDATE (22:24 PST): Apparently, the bomb had been activated.  The vehicle was smoking, and an NYPD mounted officer kicked off the evacuation.  No injuries, and NYPD cleared Times Square in record time.  I suspect NYPD will have some questions for the vehicle’s owners, but it seems the license plate on the vehicle didn’t match the one originally issued.

According to MSNBC, cameras captured the car being parked at approx. 6:30PM ET and smoke coming out a few minutes later.

UPDATE (23:19 EST): Press Conference:

An T-Shirt vendor, who is a Viet Vet, called the cops.  Cops arrived, saw smoke, and evacuated the area, then called the bomb squad.

Bomb materials and such were found in the car.

It seems like the materials, though, are evidence of an amateur job.  Gas cans, propane tanks, consumer fireworks, etc.  In other words, it wasn’t stuffed to the gills with nitrates.

Mayor Bloomberg says the set-up was “amateurish”.  So, it seems like more of a whack-job doing something nutty, than some sort of al-Qaeda deal.


This is the Droid you’re looking for

Well, I no longer have a Motorola Droid. It’s gone.

Verizon gives you this 30 day deal where you’re allowed to swap out your phone. so I decided to take a look at the HTC Incredible. To make a long story short, I walked out with one.

The one sticking point with me was that the HTC didn’t have a physical keyboard. But I’ve noticed over the last few days that I didn’t even use the physical keyboard on the Motorola. The Incredible just seemed like a better device, after playing with it in the Verizon store for a while.

It has a 1GH processor compared to the 533MH processor on the Droid. An 8 megapixel camera compared to the Droid’s 5 megapixel one. And the virtual keyboard is pretty good, too. My only complaint so far is that the predictive text feature on the Droid works better. I’m sure I’ll get used to the way HTC has implemented the feature but the Droid’s was better out of the box.

The camera on the Incredible seems to be a lot better than the Droid, and it works a lot faster.

The HTC also has one thing most newer cell phones completely lack, and the the little lanyard attachment point. I have this little utility pouch from Wingnut that I hang off a belt loop of my pants, or my motorcycle pants. I use it to carry a multitool, a backup knife, a Cross Ion pen, and a small bottle of hand sanitizer. It also has a cell phone pocket with a quick-release lanyard you can attach to the phone.

Anyway, I have the new Incredible, and so far I’m really liking it. It’s what I’m using to write this post, in fact.

Thank you, Verizon, for letting me use a Droid for a week as a trainer phone for Android, and then giving me a free upgrade to a better phone.

At least, I think it’s a better phone. The real test will come on Sunday, when we see if the call quality to BlogTalkRadio is as good on the HTC as the Droid was last week.


Charlie Crist to launch independent Senate Run

Apparently, Charlie Crist has convinced himself that the people of Florida desire his leadership keenly, despite taking a vicious hammering in the polls for the Republican nomination. So, he’ll be announcing an independent run for US Senator.

Stick a fork in him. He’s done. The Republicans will henceforth treat him as if he has a case of virulent Ebola and herpes. I’ve got no clue where he’s going to get financing from.

The best he can do is split the Republican vote, and ensure a Democrat gets elected. If that happens he’ll be like a new Arlen Specter, except for being even more of a loser.


More debt pressure on Europe…and US business

Following yesterday’s announcement that Greek debt was downgraded to junk status, today Spain’s debt was downgraded as well. Spain is, in many ways the bellwether for Europe’s debt crisis. Spain has a much larger economy than Greece. So large, in fact, that it may be too big to bail out.

Fortunately, Spain’s debt is still less than 60% of GDP; however, the country is on a reckless fiscal path and the government shows no signs of doing anything about it.

As a result of the growing crisis, the Euro is getting hammered in the FOREX market, while the dollar is soaring. This is, in effect, an interest rate hike for US businesses that export to the Euro zone.

Naturally, this places downward pressure on US export sales at a time where the overall business climate is still weak. So, none of this is good news for the American economy, either.


Open Borders

Over the past few days, I’ve been watching with interest on Twitter as Doug Mataconis and Jason Pye have been moaning about the new immigration law in Arizona. Now, I grant it’s a bad law from a civil liberties perspective. I’ve seen to much of policing from the inside to trust police not to run a truck through any ambiguities that they find in the law.

But some of the links they’ve posted seem a bit overdone. For instance, one of them linked to an article that implied that there’s a white supremacist behind the movement to pass the law. But what really caught my eye was a link to an article that gave all the standard libertarian reasons for having open immigration.

There was only one thing wrong with the article. It made all sorts of arguments about natural rights and economics, but nowhere did it address national security.

So, I guess my question is this: If you are going to argue for opening the borders, how will you go about doing so in a world of hostile nation-states, whose citizens may wish to do us harm? Clearly, the framers gave some thought to the issue, as they gave Congress plenary power to regulate immigration.

So, even granting that the rights-based and economic arguments are correct, which, mainly, I do, I still would like to know how you would address the security implications of open borders in a hostile world.

Surely, our agreement on the general principles of liberty don’t require us to commit seppuku by allowing hostile foreign powers to take advantage of them, do they?


Observations: The QandO Podcast for 25 Apr 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, Bryan, and Dale discuss the controversial Arizona immigration law, and the squeeze public employee unions are putting on state budgets. The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.