Category Archives: Politics

Journalism FAIL

By now you’ve probably all heard about the controversy surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. And whatever else might eventually result, the one thing that has unquestionably come out of this law is a rather incredible amount of bad reporting. Just to pick the first ten examples I found, here are stories about his law from Associated Press, Reuters, CS Monitor, Washington Post, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, CBS, Los Angeles Times, and NY Times. If you take the time to read all of these articles (and you have my sympathy if you do), you should have little trouble spotting something that every one of these stories has in common: not one of them quotes, or has a link to, the actual text of the law.

We’re not talking about a monstrosity like the Affordable Care Act, which nobody can read without an enormous commitment of time and loss of sanity. The RFRA is about a page long and quite easy to understand. Nor was it hard for me to find. Yet the overwhelming majority of stories I’ve seen from the professional news media present only opinions about the law, without including the facts – the text itself.

Is this omission the result of massive incompetence on the part of the professional news media? From what I’ve seen in my fifty years of life, I’d rate that as a very strong possibility. But I also have to wonder, how many of those reporters are hoping their readers will simply accept the opinions of others, rather than reading the law for themselves and making up their own minds?

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If you’re not doing anything wrong…

…you shouldn’t have anything to hide. That’s the argument, right? But then I read what James Clapper told the Washington Post yesterday. It sure sounds like he thinks he’s got a lot to hide. As do Congressman Mike Rogers (R MI) and Senator Diane Feinstein (D CA).

 

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Does this make me an international arms smuggler?

Given my professional interest in the development of technology, it should come as no surprise that I’ve been following Cody Wilson’s project to design a working firearm that can be produced on a 3d printer. For anyone not paying attention, Wilson succeeded in test firing his “Liberator” pistol a few days ago and posted the CAD files for anyone to download. Yesterday, the U.S. State Department ordered him to take the files down, claiming possible violations of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. In other words, the United States government is asserting that Wilson’s printable firearm, capable of firing only a handful of rounds before wearing out, is a secret defense technology that must be prevented from falling into the hands of any non-U.S. citizens who might be browsing the web. This despite the fact that, before they acted, those files had already been downloaded more than 100,000 times by people all over the world, and that they had also already been uploaded to Pirate Bay. As of this writing, the CAD files for the Liberator pistol can be accessed here. Clearly, somebody at the State Department saw a cloud of dust disappearing in the distance and started frantically looking around for a barn door to shut.

I have made no secret of the fact that I am both a supporter of civil liberties and a strong opponent of idiocy in government, both of which motives have prompted me to write this post. Having tried (and failed) to suppress a small caliber pistol of no conceivable military value, the State Department will no doubt now display even greater alarm at my posting here of technical drawings for a much more powerful weapon; one that has proven military value and has, in fact, been used on the battlefield by the U.S. Army, among others. I present to you now the official patent drawings for Richard Gatling’s famous machine gun (click to enlarge):

 

Gatling Gun Patent Drawing 1862

Gatling Gun Patent Drawing 1862

 

Further information, including a full technical description of this deadly weapon, can be found here, courtesy of the infamous weapons smuggling ring known as Google Patents.

 

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I haven’t blogged about Gunwalking in a while

That is, the Justice Department’s scheme to allow thousands of guns to go to Mexican drug cartels without any surveillance, allegedly so that they could identify the “big fish.” Only now it turns out that the “big fish” were working for the FBI. According to the story reported in the Arizona Republic, the cartel associates being targeted by BATFE were FBI informants.

In view of this new information, I have to revise my previous assessment. These people make the Underpants Gnomes look like Nobel Prize candidates.

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More security theatre on trains

CNN has the story about yet another intrusion by the TSA that will do nothing to make anybody safer. This agency of thugs, thieves, and perverts has long since made it clear that when it comes to civil rights, their view is that you have none. They have also made it clear that they don’t know the first thing about security, as illustrated in the article by the ridiculous screening of passengers getting off a train. (What would they do if somebody refused to allow the search? Make them get back on?)

The idea that spot checking will cause terrorists to cancel their plans is beyond idiotic. In the unlikely event that a TSA team happens to be present at the time and place the terrorists intend to board, they would simply leave and return later, or go to another station. Or they would attack the people waiting in line. This is assuming they ever planned to board the train in the first place, rather than simply plant a bomb somewhere along the 140,000 + miles of railroad track that crosses the country.

The TSA needs to be disbanded yesterday.

 

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Legalizing looting in Alabama

I just saw this rather frightening proposal in Alabama to change the state law to allow treasure hunters to take artifacts from archaeological sites located underwater in rivers, streams, and lakes. This isn’t just a problem of taking the artifacts themselves, although they are a very finite resource, but of the loss of knowledge about the past. In many (I would even say most) cases, the vast majority of scientific and historical information that can be obtained from a site is derived not from individual artifacts, but from their context. Once removed from that context, any information not recorded at the time of collection is gone forever.

If any of my readers live in Alabama, please contact your State Senator and tell them not to allow treasure hunters to loot the past.

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Is the war on drugs racist?

John W. Whitehead argues in an opinion piece published today at the Rutherford Institute’s web site that it is. I don’t know if the numbers he cites are correct, but whether or not the accusation of racial inequality is valid, it’s hard to deny that the War on (some) Drugs has been an utter failure.

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Airports aren’t enough anymore

The L.A. Times is reporting that the collection of bullies, thugs, and perverts called the TSA is expanding their operations to train and bus stations, ferry slips, NASCAR races, and even trucks on the highway. Of course they won’t stop any more terrorists than they have so far, but that’s not the point. They like pushing people around, and this gives them the chance to do more of it.

I’m certainly not opposed to governments in general, but this particular agency badly needs to be abolished. They have accomplished nothing of value, the behavior of their agents has been utterly disgusting, and they have shown again and again that as an institution they have absolutely no respect for the rights they are supposed to be protecting. It saddens me deeply that the American people have allowed the TSA to continue in existence as long as they have.

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Good bye and good riddance

It’s being reported by nearly everybody that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il has died. What will happen to his former subjects is unknown, but North Korea under Kim was one of the most brutally oppressive regimes of the modern world,  it’s hard to imagine that things could possibly get much worse.

 

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Laws are just for the little people

As reported in the New York Times, an investigation into prosecutor misconduct during the 2008 trial of Ted Stevens found that the Department of Justice intentionally and illegally concealed evidence that would have helped Stevens in his defense. However, the investigator, an apologist for corruption named Henry F. Schuelke, recommended against prosecuting any of the officials involved for contempt of court because the trial judge had not specifically ordered them to obey the law by turning over all of their evidence to the defense.

As unbelievable as that sounds – I had to read it twice – Schuelke actually makes the argument that federal prosecutors shouldn’t be held accountable for breaking the law unless they were specifically told by the judge not to. I’m beginning to see why the DOJ also apparently didn’t see anything wrong with helping to smuggle guns to Mexican criminals. It looks very much like the DOJ has been infected with a massive case of Thin Blue Line Syndrome: the belief that, since they’re on the side of good, anything whatsoever that they do is justified.

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