Posts belonging to Category Police State

Judge, Jury, Stoplight…

Those who would perceive themselves our masters are at it again.

Pleasanton is about to turn the fast into the furious.

In a move unprecedented in the Bay Area, the city’s traffic engineers have created a traffic signal with attitude. It senses when a speeder is approaching and metes out swift punishment.

It doesn’t write a ticket. It immediately turns from green to yellow to red.

Residents and commute-jockeys said Tuesday that the light, which the city plans to unveil today on Vineyard Avenue at the intersection of Montevino Drive, is either an inspired leap into the future or a blatant example of government overzealousness.

I’m not terribly convinced this is a good idea.  In fact, it could either encourage red-light running or it could cause rear-end collisions if someone in front of the speeder sees the light and stops.

It’s not speeding per-se that is dangerous.  Further, I’m cynical and experienced enough to know that many times speed limits are set with revenue generation or political motives in mind (*).  Many times we see that prevailing traffic patterns (when the road isn’t overloaded) move quite a bit faster than the speed limit.  The real problem is reckless driving.  Maybe they should reexamine the speed limit on this road if there is a lot of speeding.

* Some examples that encouraged my cynicism and my contempt for speed limits:

  • The whole 55MPH debacle.
  • The reduction of speed limits on the interstates in the D/FW area from 70 to 65 to “reduce air pollution.”
  • The town of Argyle.

Antismoking Nazis In Dallas

I just saw a news item that had me yelling at the TV.  Dallas Mayor Laura Miller has decided that no one should smoke in resturants.  This came at the urging of the so-called “grassroots” campaign to stop “secondhand smoke”.  She got a lot of push-back when it was first announced and the last I had heard was that it was being tabled.  Well, it came back today with a vengeance.  They are now considering an ordinance that would not only ban smoking in restaurants but in bars and private clubs (*).  Miller had the nerve to say that she thought that people would spend more time in the bars and restaurants if they didn’t have to worry about people smoking.  This really chaps my ass.  Restaurants are already required to provide separate smoking areas and I can’t recall a time when I was bothered by smoke from the smoking section.  So that’s a non-starter.  As for bars, I seem to recall something about freedom of choice.  If people don’t like smoke, they can choose not to go into a smoky bar.  If enough people complain, then some entrepreneur will open a smoke-free bar.  However, I think that the fact that no one has done so yet (at least that I’m aware of) speaks volumes to how much demand there is for such a thing.

Of course we’ll be hit with the second-hand smoke shibboleth next.  Whether second-hand smoke actually causes harm (and the primary study that supposedly proves this is based more on bias than on science), I have a hard time justifying the use of the power of the state (ultimately enforced by people with guns) to tell business owners how they may or may not use their private property.

If this nonsense passes, I will make it a point to avoid Dallas bars and restaurants on general principle.  I like to enjoy a Macanudo from time to time so the nannys at Dallas city hall can kiss my ass.

(*) The private club is something that was created to work around the stupid Texas laws concerning alcohol.  By default all political entities (precincts, cities, counties, etc) are ‘dry’, which means that no alcoholic beverages may be sold there.  In order to get around this, a business may deem itself a private club.  To drink in the club you must become a member.  Of course, this has turned into a sham where you can obtain a “Unicard”, which makes you a “member” of all the participating businesses. 

A political district must hold an election to become “wet”.  A lot of Texas cities are “damp”, which means that only beer and wine are sold there (Denton is an example of this).  This often means that people have to travel out of their way to get alcoholic beverages, which I think contributes to drunk driving.  I grew up in Big Sandy, which is a small town in East Texas (population of approx. 1500).  What’s interesting is in that small town we had (and still have) 6 liquor stores.  This is because we were the only fully wet place in the county.  People were driving 25 or 30 miles to get there.  However, I seem to have gotten off on a tangent here (train of thought derailment).

The Problems With Felony Stops

I just saw the video of the case where a family dog was shot by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.  They released the video in an attempt to cover their sorry asses in the shooting, but to me it just shows them to be more culpable. 

Part of the reason is that I think the whole concept of a felony stop has major flaws.  Officers demand absolute and blind obedience from the people being stopped and they fail to listen to what those people have to say.  The entire concept of being ordered out of your car and forced at gunpoint to perform acts that are often contradictory or impossible for some people is ananthema to a free people on moral grounds.  More practically, it is very confusing because of the inflexibility of the police and the way those commands are shouted.  I would find it very difficult to get on my knees without using my hands for balance.  The driver in the video had the same difficulty.  However, all the officer cared about was that he keep his hands up.

But what really pisses me off is that the driver repeatedly warned the officer that he had a dog in the car and he didn’t want him to get loose.  From what I could see, the driver even took pains to shut his door to keep the dog in, despite the fact that he was being yelled at by the officer.  If the officers had simply listened to the driver, the incident could have been avoided.

Of course the Tennessee Highway Patrol insists that all procedures were followed and that no one did anything wrong.  I really don’t give a damn if they followed the procedure as if they’d written the damn book.  It is the procedure itself and its inflexibility that are the problems.

I understand that cops often face dangerous people and that they must take precautions to deal with them, and I don’t have any solutions that would help them.  But I do know that the felony stop is yet another example of why people have lost respect for the police.  It is used too frequently and it is too inflexible, allowing no room for individual situations to be taken into account.  Worse, in this case was that it was used against people who had done nothing wrong.  The police simply relied on the word of a single caller to unleash potentially deadly force on an unsuspecting family.

The family is in the process of hiring a lawyer to pursue legal options against the Highway Patrol.  I wish them luck.

The Saddam Hussein Report

For those that are interested in the full text of the report, it can be found here (PDF format, Acrobat reader required).

If there are technical problems with the above link, I’ve squirreled away a copy of it here.

Liberty Dogs

It’s way past my bedtime (it takes a lot of energy to be a contrary curmudgeon and I need my sleep), but I’m sitting here killing time waiting for an instant message or a phone call.  Our infrastructure people are making a change that affects one of the applications that I work on and I have to be here to perform a quick test to make sure everything still works when they’re done.  Of course they can only make these changes late on a Saturday night.  Oh well, I guess that’s what they pay me for, so I can’t complain too much.

Anyhoo, while killing time I went to visit Spleenville and was informed of The Liberty Dogs, which is dedicated to watching the Department of Homeland Security (the very name of which has an almost Orwellian or perhaps Nazi overtone—like how they used to refer to Germany as the Fatherland).  I’m glad they’re doing this, because this new department definitely bears watching.

Maybe they’d be interested in the images that I created earlier.  Of course, I’m still learning to work with the GIMP, so maybe others could do better.  I just grabbed the image off the DARPA website and added the slash-circle and text over it (which isn’t as straight-forward as it sounds).

Brave New (Air)World

This is why I’m not interested in flying anytime soon.  Maybe this woman got a little out of hand, but the problem is that merely expressing verbal disapproval of airport security can land you in the same kind of trouble.

UN Day

No, it’s not an un-day (would that be night?), but United Nations day today.  In celebration I’m going to go to the range and shoot holes in paper targets.  Why?  Because owning guns is the right of all free people.  And it’ll piss off the UN supporters and bootlickers, who seem to hate individual freedom (and especially gun ownership).

Now where did I put those Kofi Annan targets….?


I just started reading The Ballad of Carl Drega, by Vin Suprynowicz.  It’s been sitting on my shelf for a few months, along with all the other books in my backlog.  I haven’t gotten very far yet because I keep getting boiling mad and have to put it down and go do something else for a while.  It’s strong medicine, best taken in small doses.  More later.

Revenge of the tweezer people

Instapundit nails it again with his Fox News column on airport “security” (see the responses and more commentary here).  I know that I will not fly again until this nonsense goes away.  My recent trip to California was by road (3800 miles round-trip).  I will be going to Boulder, CO next month on business and I plan to go to Las Vegas after Christmas.  Both of those will be on the road as well.  Until there is real protection in the air, it will stay that way (and both my employer and I will save on airfare as well).

The Freest Country In The World?

This article details a run-in with the petty tyrants of the Farmington, New Mexico police department. 

The author’s mistake?  Not bowing and scraping before their “authority.”