Saturday, January 19, 2008

Schticks of One, Half a Dozen of the Other

The Cops Are Cheating…

According to AP

A motorist who paid a speeding ticket he got from a state trooper who used out-of-state license plates on his unmarked patrol car wants his money back “What gives police the right to drive illegally on the highway?” said Dave Milbrandt, a company finance manager. “Do they have a special exemption?”

It appears Washington State Patrol Trooper Bradford A. Moon was driving an unmarked Dodge Charger with Oregon plates. Moon had removed the plates from a personal vehicle (presumably his, although the article didn’t specify it) after he moved to Washington from Oregon.

Now, when I was a cop, using license plates on a vehicle other than that for which they were issued was called “Misuse of Marker Plates.” In Connecticut, that was an arrest, rather than a ticket. Also, the plates were to be seized, and the car was to be towed. In addition, the car was considered to be (a) unregistered, and (b) uninsured. Operating an unregistered vehicle was a ticket, operating uninsured was another arrest offense. Generally, the penalties were fines: $250 for misuse of plates, $250 for operating uninsured, $50 for operating unregistered, and a one-year drivers license suspension, plus towing and storage charges. Oh, and you didn’t get your vehicle back until you showed up with valid plates, which meant paying the registration fee and buying insurance. Subsequent violations generally doubled all the fines.

So, if there were any justice in the world, the state of Washington would refund Milbrandt’s money, charge Moon with the appropriate violations, and fire his ass.

National Security Trumps All. Well, Almost All…

The telecommunications companies have justified their participation in NSA’s warrantless wiretapping on the basis of “national security.” And I’m willing to admit that national security is important, although not to the extent of sacrificing our liberties.

Unfortunately, a blogger at CSO Magazine found a little monkey wrench in the works:

Telephone companies have cut off FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals because of the bureau’s repeated failures to pay phone bills on time.

A few of the juicy details:
  • A wiretap used in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) investigation “was halted due to untimely payment,” the audit found. “We also found that late payments have resulted in telecommunications carriers actually disconnecting phone lines established to deliver surveillance results to the FBI, resulting in lost evidence.” [The blogger, Jeff Bardin, commented, “chain of custody and rules of evidence don’t mean squat if you can’t pay”]
  • The ACLU also took a swipe at the telecommunications companies: “It seems the telecoms, who are claiming that they were just being ‘good patriots’ when they allowed the government to spy on us without warrants, are more than willing to pull the plug on national security investigations when the government falls behind in its bills,” and “To put it bluntly, it sounds as though the telecoms believe it when FBI says the warrant is in the mail but not when they say the check is in the mail.” [Bardin has another pointed comment: “We’ll violate laws as long as you pay for us to violate them.”]

Now remind me again why the telecoms are saying they should be granted retroactive immunity for engaging in national security investigations?

No More Good Hands in Florida…

This just in from Business Insurance Magazine:

Florida’s insurance commissioner said on Wednesday that he had suspended Allstate from writing auto insurance policies in the state because it had not complied with a subpoena to testify about its property insurance business.

State officials called off the hearing… when the company officials refused to answer questions and to provide specific documents.

We all know bush, Cheney and their sycophantic thugs are doing everything they can to turn the United States into a wholly-owned subsidiary of Corporate Thieves R Us, so I’m thrilled that Florida (now that Jebbie is gone, thank God) is telling Allstate to stuff their good hands.

Some Future Date in Fire History…

Via the Washington Post, we learn that the brand-spanking new Baghdad embassy is a fire trap:

The firefighting system in the massive $736 million embassy complex in Baghdad has potential safety problems that top U.S. officials dismissed in their rush to declare “mission accomplished”, err... construction largely completed….

“[No] one has ever inspected the electrical system, the power plant” and other parts of the embassy complex….

The Justice Department, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Halliburton, is investigating.

For all the good that will do…

The fire system was installed by First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting (probably a wholly-owned subsidiary of Halliburton). The pipes burst during a routine test. The State Department, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Halliburton, turned to “an outside consulting firm,” which although unidentified, is almost certainly a wholly-owned subsidiary of Halliburton.

The Justice Department “probe” is said to focus on James L. Golden, a contract employee (probably from Halliburton or one of its wholly-owned subsidiaries) and Mary M. French, the project coordinator based in Baghdad.

Once again, corporate profits come ahead of life safety.

Republicans: The Party of Honesty. Aw, BULLSH*T…

Those friggin’ Republicans – the ones who claimed to have restored “dignity” to the White House and the rest of the government – just cannot resist being sleazy and pulling sleazy tricks, no matter how unnecessary:

A mailer from a congressional candidate’s campaign contains a photo of his head attached to an image of a different body that makes him look thinner.

The photo is presented as a true image of Dean Hrbacek, a Republican former mayor of Sugar Land.
Campaign manager Scott Broschart acknowledged to The Houston Chronicle that the
image is a fake.

Is there anything about which a Republican would be truthful?

To borrow Great Orange Satanist Bill in Portland, Maine’s one-word answer…


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