Friday, June 29, 2012

Drug Dog Scandal Unfolding?

Radley Balko is right. This could be big.

Some retired cops from Nevada have filed a racketeering complaint against some local police departments. They claim the department's drug dogs were trained to alert on cue, not scent,  enabling police to perform illegal searches.

It will be interesting to see how this case unfolds.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tweeting The Cylons?

If you want to send a return message towards that cryptic signal we got from outer space back in '77, now is your chance. The only thing is, you have to do twitter. Instructions here.

This sounds fun, but I'm not sure it's a good idea. What if the Cylons intercept the message and are able to figure out where we are?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Illegal Immigrants: Where do they get the money?

This Sacramento Bee story about two Border Patrol agents includes a story I've heard before: "One 24-year-old Brazilian woman said she paid $12,000 to be taken across the border in "a police car."

I've heard similar stories many times, but I'm inclined to disbelieve them. Not so much the police car part, but the money. Where do they get it to begin with?

I'd be hard pressed to come up with a couple thousand dollars to get out of the country. If they lived somewhere they could save up that kind of money, why would they want to use it coming to the U.S.? Seems to me they'd have a pretty decent lifestyle to begin with if they were making that much.

And then to risk it making an illegal border crossing? What if they get caught? They lose it all. Doesn't make sense. Maybe some of you can clear this up for me?

Read more here:

Wendy's Closure Was ADA Related

I bumped into a fellow on Saturday who was in the position to know. He told me the closure of Eureka's Wendy's restaurant was, indeed, because of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He didn't know if local scuzbag, Jason Singleton, was involved.

There were a number of supposed violations and the chain's management decided it wasn't worth the expense to make the corrections so they shut the place down. Another one bites the dust because of the ADA.

On a related note, looks like Senator Dianne Feinstein is using the issue to get her name in the paper in an election year. She's made some waves so there might be some legislative resolution to the ADA issue on the horizon.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Democrat For Gary Johnson

A former Democratic press secretary makes his case for supporting Gary Johnson for President this time around. This is great to see and shows Gary Johnson's appeal can cross party lines. Just how much remains to be seen.

Oh, this same fellow made a Libertarian case for Obama back in 2008.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Driving Stuff

The Santa Rosa Press- Democrat's Road Warrior column yesterday focused on driving laws some seem to have forgotten. He seemed to cover most of the bad acts or omissions I see people do while driving. My comments to the column involved minor annoyances rather than safety related stuff.

For instance, one thing I've noticed in Eureka is that a number of people don't realize you can turn left on a red light, provided there is no sign saying otherwise. I'm referring to turning left from the left hand lane of a one way street into the left hand lane of another one way street. I see this fairly often at the intersection of Harris and H Streets in Eureka.

Heading south in the left hand lane of H Street, you often come to a red light at Harris Street, next to the old General Hospital. You don't have to wait for the light to turn green to turn left on to Harris Street there. If the left lane of Harris (a one way street at that point) is clear, you can stop, then turn. I've seen a number of drivers sit there and wait for the light to turn green. That's not necessary.

Another commenter to the Road Warrior column said I was wrong. I say I am right, although I couldn't find it mentioned in the DMV manual. One other commenter said I was right. Think of it like this: You can turn right on a red light after stopping and checking to make sure it's clear, can't you? It's no different turning left when you don't have to cross traffic to worry about.
The first thing I brought up in that column I hesitate to bring up again as I couldn't explain it clearly. I still don't think I can. Suffice it to say, you don't have to wait for me to proceed thru a four way stop intersection when the car opposite of you is crossing the intersection.

Say I come to the north facing stop sign at Buhne and E Streets in Eureka. You come to the east facing stop sign a half a second later than I do but we're stopped about the same time. The other car facing west on Buhne is already there and starts to move through the intersection. You might as well go ahead and cross the intersection since the car opposite you is already crossing. I can't cross with him there, anyway.

I've had a number of people sit and wait for me to go first because I stopped a split second before they do. They're actually being polite, but seems to me the idea is to have drivers opposite each other cross at the same time. We don't want drivers crossing four way stops in the same exact order that they came to the stop. That causes twice the congestion if they all stopped at four different times. We want east/ west and north/south traffic crossing at the same time when possible.

Make sense? I didn't think so. I give up.
One other thing I've seen fairly often that I didn't see mentioned in the Road Warrior column is people not yielding the right of way at intersections. More specifically, something I've seen in Henderson Center on E Street fairly often.

You come to the red light. As soon as the light turns green, the driver across the intersection turns left, crossing right in front of you. That driver is supposed to wait. The car going straight has the right- of- way. Why they don't is beyond me. A pretty brazen, if not downright rude, violation.

That doesn't happen at Harris and E since they installed the left turn light. I did notice it the other day at E and Henderson. What's the problem with just waiting for half a minute for the through traffic to pass?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More BS From R. Decker

The crap we hear from local Occupy spokesman, Robert Decker never ends. From today's Times- Standard, his statement to the Board of Supes regarding the ordinance prohibiting hanging out directly in front of the courthouse:

”These regulations prevent people from assembly, to gather and discuss things,” Decker said."

All the stuff the police had to haul away from the sidewalk in front of the courthouse is ample evidence there has been more than enough assembly, gathering and discussion of things there. It's obvious no one's right to free speech has been infringed.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Crescent City Abalone Farm

I had no idea Crescent City had its own abalone farm until I read this story in the Del Norte Triplicate. Shame that it went by the wayside.

Not sure you can blame its demise on government. Problems with regulations seem to have played a part in its closing but the farm might not have ever been started if the bay wasn't being dredged to begin with.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pedestrians Asking For It?

Another school bus vs. pedestrian accident, this time in Eureka. That last one in Fortuna, under different circumstances, resulted in the pedestrian dying.

Information on this last one is sketchy. It looks to me as if the girl might have deliberately walked in front of the school bus.  Why go to the hospital when you weren't even knocked to the ground and had no visible injuries? An easy insurance settlement, perhaps?

Funny that this isn't the first time I've heard of or noticed brazen pedestrian behavior over the last 3 days. Two days in a row- Tuesday and Wednesday- I've been driving down Buhne Street in Eureka during the afternoon. Both incidents happened within three blocks of each other.

Two guys in their late teens or early twenties look right at my car and walk out into the street in front of me. I was less than 50 feet from both of them. At least they gave me enough distance to slow down. They knew I was there and was driving normal speed. Did they want to get hit or were they just trying to jerk me around by making me slow down and stop real fast?

Wish there was a way for guys like that to get ticketed.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Real Presidential Spending Story

I thought this Wall Street Journal piece did a good job of cutting through all the partisan rhetoric about presidents and their spending records.

According to the writers, Bill Clinton was the lowest spender, at least in modern times:  'President Clinton, in conjunction with a solid Republican Congress, cut government spending by more than any other president in modern times, and oversaw one of the greatest periods of economic growth and prosperity in U.S. history.'

The biggest surge in spending goes to George Bush during his last two years, 2007-2008: "...government spending skyrocketed to 27.3% of GDP from 21.4%. It was the largest peacetime expansion of government spending in U.S. history".

Spending supposedly fell under President Obama, but they credit that with repayment of TARP loans: " While spending did come down in 2010, it wasn't the result of spending cuts but rather because TARP loans began to be repaid, and that cash was counted against spending.".

They give the newer Republican congress credit for not approving around $150 billion Obama had wanted to spend.

That should put an end to all the partisan finger pointing over federal spending, shouldn't it?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

ReVote the Rail Changed

The past effort to stop the current High Speed Rail project in California has been sidelined. Those folks have joined the effort of these folks to do the same thing: Put the High Speed Rail project, passed by voters back in 2008, back on the ballot.

If you'd like to help, you can fill out their volunteer form. There's a link there to order petitions, too. Even if you and some friends sign the petition and send it in it can help, so don't be shy about signing up.

As an aside, I'm not one who takes recalls lightly, but I think Governor Brown should face one over his dogged insistence on pursuing HSR when the state is floundering in deficit with no end in sight.

ReVote also has a Facebook page you can Like.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Money In Politics: A Look At Wisconsin's Recall

A well thought out look at the money spent on the recent recall election in Wisconsin. The author points out Walker likely would have won even if he hadn't received a large amount of money from outside the state:

"So there’s your money effect, folks. Go from a 2:1 money advantage to a 7:1 money advantage, and it could increase your vote share by a full percentage point! Woo hoo!"

"I don’t mean to sound snide, but I’d say in general that if you pair the same candidates up against each other for the same office, you’ll probably get similar results. And I’d say that the real lesson here is how little the electoral results changed after a vast change in financing."

I'd suggest money could have a greater effect in some instances. Prop 29, for instance: Large infusions of cash can help the underdog. It allows them to make their case and possibly change electoral outcomes, but not always.

In the case of Prop 29, the minority might well have lost without the added infusion of funds that allowed them to present their side of the issue. In the local case of WalMart trying to change zoning on the Balloon Tract, the money- and the argument presented with it- wasn't enough.

Hat tip, as usual, to Radley Balko for the link.

Only In America

James Delingpole (who really is right about everything) is spreading around this piece with a few observations about America.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Industrial Hemp Bill Introduced

An amendment which would legalize the growing of industrial hemp has been introduced in  congress. Be interesting to see how this plays out and who the players end up being. My guess is the amendment will be quietly dropped.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Post Election Musings

Hard to say if this last election was better or worse than the norm from a libertarian perspective. As far as local races go, no biggie. I'll admit enjoying the hair pulling and gnashing of the teeth by local lefties over Seidner and Clendenen's losses in the Board of Supes race.

Unlike many of them, I don't think the world would come to an end had the results been different. It will likely continue to be business as usual at the county courthouse with the newly elected supes.
As far as ballot propositions go, some are ecstatic of Prop 28 passing. I see that one as six one way, half dozen the other. Eric Kirk claims this will help rural communities because it will allow rural legislators to gain committee positions due to seniority. Seems to me even with different time frames- shorter or longer- you still gain seniority.
Prop 29- the tobacco tax- is still up in the air. They say it's going down if it's still losing at this point. I'll certainly be glad if it loses but the close numbers show we live in a very immoral state with close to half the people voting to tax a minority.

No reason to be all that excited about it losing, either. In a contest this close the results could well have gone the other way had the election been held a day earlier or later. That, and now we have some suggesting the legislature go ahead and add the tax to cigarettes, anyway. They never sleep.
Another thing that gets me is they're saying it could take days to weeks for them to finish counting all the votes cast on Tuesday. This isn't the first time.

I'll never understand how they can count enough votes to declare winners on Election Night, yet take days to weeks to finish counting the rest of the votes.
My biggest disappointment was the 2nd district, state assembly race. I was hoping Firenza Pini might get the percentage that Green Party's Pam Elizondo got. Last I looked Elizondo got something like 9%(!!!). As it was, my favorite only got 4%, coming in fourth out of four.

I'm wondering if that 9% Elizondo got might be a record for a third party candidate up here?

No surprise Chesbro came in first. Now I'll have to decide whether to support his opponent, Tom Lynch, or just stand aside and not vote in that race. I'm leaning toward voting for Lynch. We'll see how he stands on the issues as time goes on.
No surprise in the U.S. Senate race, either. The authoritarian's choice, Dianne Feinstein, is always a shoo- in here. A little disappointed Libertarian Gail Lightfoot didn't get a higher percentage but that's par for the course when you're a libertarian. I'm used to it.

Only vaguely heard of the Republican gal, Elizabeth Emken, that took second place. A quick look at her campaign page gives the usual hints of the Religious Right. I'll give her a chance and see what she's got to say. We'll decide later whether we'll vote for her if only to vote against Feinstein.
Damn! Almost forgot about the congressional race. No surprise that Huffman, as did Feinstein, took it. This is typical for me: I hate the guy's guts and he wins, with the press saying now just as they always have that he's got the election locked up. 

I was right that Dan Roberts would win if all the Republicans voted party line. I don't think he can win against Huffman, especially with the districts gerrymandered to favor Democrats. I'll probably vote for Roberts even if he does piss me off somehow. I really hate Jared Huffman.
The Santa Rosa Press- Democrat says this new primary system is a "win for voters", as if having a Democrat vs. a Democrat in the general election is a win. They're probably referring to having Republicans out of the way but I don't see it. Looks like incumbents kept their advantage and most, if not all, seem to be heading to the November election.

Doesn't look like any change to me from the status quo and, with the Democrats having gerrymandered the districts even more in their favor, there's even less likelihood of any change. For better or worse, I guess that's what we call progress in California.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Lots Of Rain

My rain gauge shows just over an inch and a quarter of rain from this last bunch of rain. Not bad. I wish it would do that two or three times a month all summer.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Willie Predicts Prop 29 Wins, Smuggling Explodes

Ex- Sacramento strong man, Willie Brown, predicts Prop 29- the tobacco tax- wins on Tuesday. He also predicts a resulting shift by smokers to indian casinos and increased smuggling of tobacco from out of state.

I was as happy as many were to see Willie get canned because of term limits. I'd go so far as to say he was one of those guys I truly hated. I don't feel so much of that any more. I really enjoy his weekly column, Willie's World. It's always a fun read. I wish I could write like that.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Throwing Away Votes?

I believe this is the first piece I've read by Bryan Hyde. Heck, I think it's the first I've ever heard of him. It's one of the best arguments I've seen for voting on principle rather than partisanship. One of my favorites:

 "Columnist Vin Suprynowizc once asked his readers to imagine that they were citizens of the Weimar Republic in the 1930s. He asked them how they would want to address their grandchildren as they approached the end of their lives. Would they prefer to tell their families “They told us that our only choice was between the Nazis and the Communists. So I had to choose the lesser of the two evils”? Or would they rather say, “I refused to support either the fascists or the Bolsheviks. Because of this, I was shouted down, marginalized and abused for refusing to acquiesce, but I stayed true to my conscience and to my principles”?"

Hat tip to Gary Johnson's Facebook page. I'm getting some fun reads from links posted there.

Friday, June 01, 2012

November Choices