Our own Aurora and the neighboring city of Denver have experimented with red-light cameras. I think it’s a terrible idea, and almost certainly unconstitutional. Here’s an interesting take on the topic. Excerpt:
Speed and red-light cameras are the bane of many motorists. A modern idea made possible by technology, they have been installed in at least 24 states. Although these cameras are a revenue boon for governments across the nation, their intrusion into daily life is disturbing, and their constitutionality is dubious.
Specifically, use of these cameras could violate the Sixth Amendment. The Confrontation Clause grants criminal defendants the right to be confronted with the witnesses against them. Since it is a camera and not a person that witnessed the offense, such violations generally cannot be considered a criminal offense. The ticket is issued to the owner of the vehicle, not to the person driving it, leaving a lack of certainty as to the identity of the offender.
Therefore, the “ticket” in most places is nothing more than a civil fine, making enforcement and collection difficult. To date, governments have avoided this problem by requiring payment of the fine before motorists can renew their driver’s license or auto registration. Although there generally are appeals procedures, they typically do not give drivers a day in court. In other words, what happened to being innocent until proven guilty?
There are several for-profit companies that install and operate the cameras, some of them foreign-owned. In a typical arrangement, a camera company will contract with a local government to pay the capital cost of installing the cameras in exchange for a share of the revenue generated via fines. In short, governments get a new revenue stream without any operating cost, and the camera companies make a tidy profit.
Stop right there. Take a look at that last sentence. Here, read it again:
Did you get that?
In short, governments get a new revenue stream without any operating cost, and the camera companies make a tidy profit.
Now there, True Believers, you have the key to the whole thing. These red light cameras, which almost certainly violate the Sixth Amendment – how can you confront your accuser when the accuser is a camera? – aren’t about traffic safety. They are all about generating revenue for city governments.
Most of the citations issues are civil fines, meaning you have no recourse in the courts. And since these are based on photos of moving vehicles and are focused on the plates, the better to ID the owner, they are issued to the owner of the vehicle. So if you loan your car to a friend, or let your teenager drive, you are fiscally liable for a minor infraction you didn’t commit.
Crap like this lessens respect for the law. It’s capricious, lacks even a pretense of due process, and is clearly and transparently a revenue-generating tool for city governments.
Last year our own Aurora put the issue on the ballot. The residents of our town, yr. obdt. among them, voted to get rid of the cameras. That’s a step in the right direction. Let’s hope more municipalities follow suit.
Over at PJMedia, parenting scribe Megan Fox tells us about her kids’ back-to-school physicals, where she was asked (apparently) some… interesting questions. Excerpt:
In fact, it took well over two and a half hours while I sat there and listened to this man, who has seen us regularly, ask my children uncomfortable questions about sexual abuse, guns in the house, bullying at school and a myriad of other things that, frankly, aren’t any of his business.
Several times he addressed me directly on parenting issues like “are they wearing helmets when they bike ride?” or “have you spoken to them about inappropriate touching?” Well, yes, actually, of course they do and I have spoken to them about abuse regularly, but what that has to do with a school physical is beyond me.
Very little was done to check them for actual physical health. I think he looked in their ears and listened to their hearts, but no reflexes were checked, no neurological exam or eye exam was given. No hearing test was administered. Mostly, it was an inquisition into my parenting skills. What do you feed them? Are they eating enough vegetables and staying away from processed foods? Do they sleep well at night and have regular bedtimes? Do you and your husband fight? Are you safe at home? Is anyone smoking? I kid you not. This was the tone of the interrogation.
I’m so glad my kids are all adults now. But they were once in school too, although we were never subjected to this kind of interrogation – I’ve known our family doc for over thirty years and he’d have no damn part of any such shenanigans – it should surprise anyone that I have some thoughts on this. Let’s look at those questions, and I’ll answer them.
Q: Are they wearing helmets when they bike ride?
A: None of your damn business.
Q: Have you spoken to them about inappropriate touching?
A: None of your damn business.
Q: What do you feed them?
A: None of your damn business.
Q: Are they eating enough vegetables and staying away from processed foods?
A: None of your damn business.
Q: Do they sleep well at night and have regular bedtimes?
A: None of your damn business.
Q: Do you and your husband fight?
A: None of your damn business.
Q: Are you safe at home?
A: None of your damn business.
Q: Is anyone smoking?
A: None. Of. Your. Damn. Business.
See how easy that is? The best way to handle with intrusive behavior, whether it be on the school district, by a doctor (and I would suggest the Fox clan find a new one) or anyone else, the best reply is to refuse to reply.
It’s fun, too.
This time, Florida Man isn’t the one who comes off looking like an asshole. Excerpt:
Just last week, a man in Florida had his firearms confiscated simply because he had the same name as a criminal. That’s right. A man was stripped of his Second Amendment right…because the police failed to differentiate a law-abiding citizen with a thug.
According to Ammoland, Jonathan Carpenter received a certified letter from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services saying his concealed handgun permit had been suspended for “acts of domestic violence or acts of repeat violations.”
Carpenter was forced to go to the Osceola County clerk’s office to have a form filled out stating he wasn’t the person law enforcement was looking for. At that point, the clerk instructed Carpenter to speak with the sheriff’s office.
The Sheriff’s office supplied Carpenter with a copy of the injunction. In the statement, the plaintiff stated that she rented a room out to a “Jonathan Edward Carpenter” and his girlfriend. She alleged that this Carpenter was a drug dealer who broke her furniture and sold her belongings without her permission. He had a gun, and she feared for her life. She was not sure if the firearm was legal or not.
Carpenter had never met the woman in question and never lived at the address listed in the restraining order. Moreover, other than being white, he looked nothing like the man the terrorized the woman.
The man in question is 5’8. Carpenter is 5’11. The alleged drug dealer is 110lbs. Carpenter is over 200. The man has black hair. Carpenter is completely bald. Last but not least, the man in question is covered in tattoos, and Carpenter only has a few.
Even though it was evident they had the wrong man, Carpenter was forced to hand over his firearms. There was no hearing or any kind of court proceeding.
This is so stupidly unconstitutional it’s not even funny. Here’s the Fifth Amendment:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Jonathan Carpenter was deprived of his property without due process. No judge was involved. No court order was filed. Carpenter had no opportunity to confront his accuser. The accuser wasn’t even talking about him, just some asshole who happened to have the same name.
Red Flag laws are the subject of much discussion right now. Proponents of those laws – in both parties – assure us that the law-abiding citizen has nothing to worry about; that due process will always apply; that nobody’s property will be capriciously confiscated.
Well, tell that to Jon Carpenter. He has a long road, a great deal of expense, and a nebulously defined path ahead to get back his own damn property that the government had no business taking in the first place.
And if he had refused to comply, the Osceola County authorities would have flung him into a cell.
If that’s not a horrendous injustice, I don’t know what is.
Now, moving on: Last night I stumbled on this article over at Guns.com – The Best Handguns for Hunting. Now, I carry a sidearm routinely when out and about my business in forest and field; a sidearm, to my thinking, should be something that can be carried in a belt holster all day with minimum inconvenience. If you need more punch, pack along a rifle. A handgun should be just that, a handgun, not a pocket rifle.
Guns.com has some other ideas. Well, I have some comments on that. Here are the five, with my commentary:
First: The Nosler M48 Independence. Sorry, but this isn’t a handgun. You can’t pack this around in a holster. This is a cut-down rifle. I honestly can’t see the point of this kind of thing; it seems like it would be as much trouble t pack around as a rifle, and with that being the case, why not just pack a rifle?
Second: The Ruger Super Redhawk. Now this is at least a handgun, well-suited for holster carry, at least in the trim shown. Ruger does produce these in some rather sillier versions, with elongated barrels, muzzle brakes, bipods and so forth. But in the short-barreled trim shown, it is at least portable, although in some of the calibers offered it might be a big handful.
Third: The Remington 1911 R1 Hunter. Now this is more my idea of a sidearm, and the R1 Hunter is available in the walloping 10mm round, which doesn’t seem too popular these days but which packs almost a .44 Magnum-level punch. And the 1911 pattern – well, damn few weapons have a better history for durability and reliability.
Fourth: The Magnum Research BFR. Now this is a perfectly ridiculous object. Chambered in rounds including the .45-70, .30-30 and .500 S&W, this thing weighs as much as a lightweight rifle and has to be an order or two of magnitude more difficult to shoot. If I need that much power, I’ll grab my Marlin Guide Gun, also in .45-70, but much more manageable – and only a little bit less portable.
Fifth: The Smith & Wesson 460. Most of what I said about the BFR applies here as well, but the Smith lacks the versatility of chambering in big-punch rifle cartridges, making it even less versatile and no more portable.
Of the five, only two of them are really handguns, and one of those only marginally.
Long-term readers of these pages know my preferences in sidearms. My favorite (left, middle) is my big Smith & Wesson 25-5, mid-Seventies vintage, .45 Colt. This great piece (along with the .45 Colt Vaquero, also pictured) can be easily packed in a belt holster all day, and packs enough punch for most jobs you’d ask of a sidearm. My favored load is a 255-grain hard cast Keith-type slug over 8 grains of Unique – do not try that load in an old Single Action Army, Colt New Service or anything but a modern revolver – and that will blow through a railroad tie or, from personal experience, lengthwise a big Iowa farm-country whitetail.
That’s enough handgun for just about anything.
Here are a few tidbits from the last 24 hours news-crawl to start off your week:
From my own Iowa: Trump-supporting former Democrat urges a return to civility in America. Yeah, good luck with that.
The Southern Poverty Law Center – a hate-based scam. That rates a giant “no shit.”
AntiProFa fascists were kicking up their heels again over the weekend. Several assaults resulted. These masked cowards keep thinking they can go on with this kind of behavior; sooner or later regular citizens are going to have had enough, and the ProFa assholes aren’t going to enjoy the result.
Roger Simon points out that the news compilation site RealClearPolitics has replaced the New York Times as the news source of record. Representatives of the former Gray Lady, now fish-wrapper, were unavailable for comment.
I’m really digging Lindsay Graham 2.0. The other day he schooled a bunch of
reporters nitwits as to why he owns an AR-15, and why he will continue to do so.
In Wales, they’re getting serious about preventing sex in public toilets. I’m not sure what to think about this. The Welsh seem skeptical, which may be add fuel to the Welsh independence movement.
By the way, there really is a Welsh independence movement. Who knew?
In New Jersey, the law apparently is THOU SHALT NOT COOK FOOD FOR PEOPLE IN RETURN FOR MONEY. Because we can’t just have people, you know, freely providing a service to other people in return for compensation.
Robert Stacy McCain points out that kooks are gonna kook.
Our good friend Jillian Becker has a great piece on the ongoing revelations about Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I’s email servers.
Bill Maher finds an acorn. The Nut Squad calls for a boycott. They really are becoming tiresome.
And on that nutty note, we return you to your Monday, already in progress.
Ever wondered about ways to solve the shortage of donor organs for folks needing transplants? Well, John Stossel may have an idea on how to help, at least in some cases. Excerpt:
I just clicked the box on the government form that asks if, once I die, I’m willing to donate my organs to someone who needs them.
Why not? Lots of people need kidneys, livers, etc. When I’m dead, I sure won’t need mine.
Still, there are not enough donors. So, more than 100,000 Americans are on a waiting list for kidneys. Taking care of them is so expensive, it consumes almost 3% of the federal budget!
So why not allow Americans to sell an organ?
If the U.S. allowed people to sell, the waiting list for kidneys would soon disappear.
“Poor people are going to be hurt,” replies philosophy professor Samuel Kerstein in my latest video. Kerstein advised the World Health Organization, which supports the near universal laws that ban selling organs.
“Body parts to be put into Americans will come from poor countries,” warns Kerstein. “I don’t want to see poor people in Pakistan having their lives truncated.”
People have free will. Poor people are just as capable of deciding what’s best for them as rich people. Who are you, I asked Kerstein, to tell people they may not?
“We are people who care about people who are different from us,” he replied, “and poorer than we are. That’s why we care.”
These are “vacuous moralisms,” replies Lloyd Cohen, an attorney who’s long argued against the ban on organ-selling.
Vacuous is exactly the right term.
The fact is, you can sell an organ right now. Let’s say you’re approached by someone who desperately needs a kidney – somehow they have become aware that you are a compatible donor. Let’s say that this is a fabulously rich man or woman, and they make you a quiet offer – “…just between us, you understand. I’ll put $1.5 million in an escrow account in your name, to be released to you after completion of the surgery.”
That’s technically against the law. But who is going to report this crime? The person whose life was saved, or the person who is now a mill and a half richer?
“But Animal,” you might ask, “won’t this sort of thing promote organ trafficking?”
“Organ trafficking happens now,” I’d reply, “and legalizing the process should actually reduce that by providing a supply of kidneys at less (or at least comparable) cost, with much less risk.”
Stossel has this one right. It’s not the role of government to interfere in a private business arrangement between competent, consenting adults.
Some idiots are thinking that a sin tax on red meat might be a good idea. My reply: Fuck off, slavers. Excerpt:
The idea is still in its infancy and faces a lot of opposition from farming groups, but it’s emerging as a trend in Western Europe, said the research group. If taxes gain traction, it could encourage more people to switch to poultry or plant-based protein and help drive the popularity of meat substitutes.
“The global rise of sugar taxes makes it easy to envisage a similar wave of regulatory measures targeting the meat industry,” Fitch Solutions said. However, “it is highly unlikely that a tax would be implemented anytime soon in the United States or Brazil.”
In Germany, some politicians have proposed raising the sales tax on meat products to fund better livestock living conditions. A poll for the Funke media group showed a majority of Germans, or 56.4 percent, backed the measure, with more than a third calling it “very positive” and some 82 percent of voters for the environmentalist Greens in favor. Similar proposals have been introduced in Denmark and Sweden since 2016, Fitch Solutions said.
Goldsmiths, University of London, announced on Monday that it’ll stop selling beef on campus as part of a push to combat climate change. The decision was met with opposition from the U.K.’s National Farmers Union, which said it was “overly simplistic’’ to single out one food product as a response to global warming.
Not only is this a stupid idea – the very concept of a sin tax is utterly antithetical to a free society. The very concept of liberty – actual, honest individual liberty – requires that free citizens live free of coercion, whether the coercion comes from a street-corner thug or government.
And let’s be honest, that’s what sin taxes are – coercion. The government is using their power to initiate the use of force to change people’s behavior. The only time government has the legitimate right to do that is to prevent one person from harming another physically or financially; to prevent the use of force or fraud by one citizen on another.
The purpose of taxation is to raise what funds various levels of government needs to carry out the (few) legitimate roles of government; namely to take care of a few distributed interests, like national defense, treating with other nations, and establishing currency – that can best be done at that level.
Not to change behavior. Not to reward or punish.
Mind you, the idiocy proposed in the linked article is in Europe. But the United States has long had a wealth (hah) of sin taxes, and still does; only this week Princess Spreading Bull Warren proposed a sin tax on guns.
A sin tax on red meat? There are certainly enough nitwits here that would find it a good idea.
Yesterday was a doozy.
After seeing to some family business and visiting our daughter in Iowa, Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. repaired Monday evening to Des Moines, where we had an early flight the next morning – yesterday. We arose at 4AM and went from our one-night hotel room to the airport, there to board our plane on time.
And then, in that plane, we sat on the tarmac for an hour waiting for some thick fog to clear so we could take off on the VFR-only runway, the “instruments” runway being closed. (Who knew that was a thing?) So that made us an hour late getting into our connecting airport, Chicago/O’Hare, one of the worst airports in the nation. And, sure as hell, we were rebooked on the next flight, with crappier seats.
And then that flight was delayed two hours due to weather screwing up air traffic on the Eastern Seaboard. Instead of getting back to our temporary New Jersey lodgings at a little after noon, as expected, we got here about five o’clock.
I guess the theme for today is “people in so-called ‘public service’ are generally assholes.” But then, honestly, we knew that already, didn’t we?
And on that brown-eyed note, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.