Free Markets, Free People

Dale Franks

Dale Franks’ QandO posts


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.


Arizona’s Immigration Law

Yesterday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a controversial immigration bill, the text of which you can find here (PDF).  Now, before getting into the bill itself, et me just say I’m not an open-borders guy.  The sheer mass of illegal immigration is a problem in the southern border states.  If you’re interested, I went into more detail a few years ago on the subject.

The law itself provides for the following:

  • Makes it a misdemeanor for an illegal alien to solicit work in any way shape or form, so no more hanging out around Home Depot.
  • Makes it a code violation to knowingly employ illegal aliens, and may subject the business to suspension or terminations of any and all licenses, i.e. business license, liquor license, etc.
  • No jurisdiction in the state can refuse to enforce immigration laws.
  • Illegal aliens are considered to be trespassing if found on any public or private property in the state of Arizona.  I.e., physically present anywhere in the state. It’s a class I misdemeanor.  If the illegal alien has drugs or money in his possession, that bumps the charge to a Class 3 felony.
  • A person may be arrested on the spot for this extended offense of trespassing if the officer has probable cause to believe the person is an illegal alien.
  • A peace officer may stop any person operating a motor vehicle if the officer reasonably believes the vehicle is being used to transport or smuggle illegal aliens.
  • A vehicle used to knowingly transport illegal aliens is subject to mandatory immobilization or impoundment.

I saw a statement by an Arizona police spokesman at Tucson PD that said, essentially, that this new law would never, ever be used by peace officers in racial profiling.  And you can believe as much of that as you please.  If you think the cops in AZ will be rounding up blue-eyed, blond-haired fellows who say “aboot” instead of “about”, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.  It connects Manhattan with Brooklyn.  It’s in great shape.  Worth every penny.

Essentially, if you’re a swarthy, dark-haired gentleman, the cops can stop you and ask for your papers.  You should probably obtain a copy of your birth certificate, Social Security card, and Sons of the American Revolution membership certificate, and keep them with you at all times. And lose the attractive Ricardo Montalban accent, because that’s certainly not going to be an asset when speaking to the nice officer.

And if you do pick up a few day workers at Lowe’s, don’t be surprised when the cops stop you, then laugh at your insistence that you just wanted some weeding done or  nice raised garden installed, and insist on calling you “Mr. Coyote” as they impound your vehicle and drag your ass off to jail.

I really don’t see how this law can pass Constitutional muster.  It practically requires racial profiling.  It will almost inevitably lead to civil rights violations of both lawful immigrants and American citizens, as police officers demand proof of citizenship, and subsequently arrest some poor sap who left his wallet at home. It’s just a disastrously bad law.

Now look, I understand that illegal immigration is a tough problem.  I believe that we do need to better secure the borders.  I know the Feds do little more than lip service at enforcing immigration laws. So, I understand why state government are frustrated, and grasping at something else they can do to ease the budgetary, law enforcement, and social service strains that illegal immigration puts on state and municipal budgets.

But this sort of state effort is so intrusive and far-reaching, and so ripe for abuse, that it can’t possibly be the right answer to the problem.  I see no way that it can be enforced in a manner consistent with basic civil rights.  It’s just a bad law.


The Religion of Peace II

The US Army has disinvited a Christian evangelist from attending a National Day of Prayer event, because in a recent interview, he referred to Islam as a violent religion.

Clearly, he was unaware of the official designation “Religion of Peace”.

I guess he got all confused by all the beheadings, honor killings, and flying airliners into buildings and whatnot, to properly understand that these acts have no relevance to Islam at all.

And, clearly, he fails to understand how revealing the actions of Eric Rudolph are, vis a vis the fundamentally violent underpinnings of the Religious Right.

One must, after all, learn the approved lessons, and mouth the accepted pieties. And by “one”, of course, I mean “certain people”. I mean, we can hardly expect the same rules to apply to everyone.


The Religion of Peace

It seems that once again, an insufficiently servile attitude towards Mohammed requires death threats as a response.

This time, it’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone, whose “South Park” cartoon aired an episode that revolved around Mohammed. The prophet didn’t directly appear in the episode, as he was disguised in a bear suit, but that was enough for the Islamists to warn that Messrs. Stone and Parker might end up like murdered Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh.

Apparently, that’s what Allah, the Merciful, the Ever-Loving, requires.

Jebus Cripes, I’m so sick of this crap.