Daily Archives: December 21, 2010

Food Safety Bill Passes Into Law On Sunday

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Somehow emerging from the scrum of last minute contentious issues facing Congress before adjournment, the food safety bill scored a huge win Sunday night.

On a voice vote, the U.S. Senate approved the bill and sent it to the House where it faces certain passage. Earlier, the Senate had endorsed the bill by a vote of 73-25, but it became caught in a parliamentary tangle with the House version an appeared to be heading for the dust bin.

But the measure had strong bi-partisan support and was given a last minute push by a strong coalition of health, business and consumer groups.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lauded the action. In a statement he said, “Our food safety system has not been updated in almost a century. Families in Nevada and across America should never have to worry about whether the food they put on their table is safe. “This is a common-sense issue with broad bipartisan support.

“Tonight we unanimously passed a measure to improve on our current food safety system by giving the FDA the resources it needs to keep up with advances in food production and marketing, without unduly burdening farmers and food producers,” he said.

The legislation was steered through the difficult legislative maze by Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

Once the clerical error was discovered in the Senate-passed version of the bill Democrats attempted to attach the food safety bill a measure designed to fund the federal government. But Republicans resisted that approach. Later they agreed to pass it by voice vote.

Sen. Tom Coburn, the measure’s most vigorous opponent, lifted his objection at the final moment.

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Net Neutrality Update — FCC Passes First of Rules

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By Cecilia Kang

The Federal Communications Commission voted Tuesday to approve its first ever Internet access regulation, which ensures unimpeded access to any legal Web content for home Internet users.

The same provisions do not apply as strongly to cellphone users because the agency voted to keep wireless networks generally free of rules preventing the blocking and slowing of Web traffic.

The FCC’s three Democratic members made up a majority of votes in favor of the so-called net neutrality regulation, which was introduced more than a year ago by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

The rules have sparked intense debate and lobbying over whether such legislation is needed, and are likely to face a legal challenge. Genachowski has argued that Internet access rules would protect companies just starting out on the Web, as well as consumers who are increasingly relying on the Internet for news, entertainment and communications.

The agency’s two Republican members voted against the rules, showing support for Internet service providers who say the regulation will impede their ability to create new business plans that expand their roles over the Internet economy.

Genachowski said the measure represents a compromise between industry and consumer interests.

“I reject both extremes in favor of a strong and sensible framework — one that protects Internet freedom and openness and promotes robust innovation and investment,” Genachowski said.

The net neutrality measure is the federal government’s first move to regulate broadband access. Questions remain, however, over whether the agency has the legal right to serve as the nation’s watchdog over Internet access. Last spring, a federal appeals court said the FCC overstepped its authority by sanctioning Comcast for blocking access to users of BitTorrent’s peer-to-peer sharing application.

The rules are sure to face a court challenge and have prompted opposition from Republican lawmakers, who plan to tackle the regulation through Congressional action.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said she will reintroduce legislation to overthrow the rules. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) said she will move to withdraw funds appropriated to the FCC to execute the rules.

“The FCC is attempting to push excessive government regulation of the Internet through without Congressional authority, and these actions threaten the very future of the technology,” said Hutchison, the ranking GOP member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

And on the other side, consumer groups aren’t happy, either. Public interest groups have said they will consider filing suit against the rules that they fought to enact, asserting that the regulation doesn’t go far enough to protect consumers.

“The activist Internet community is independent, innovative and fearless in this power grab,” said Tyrone Brown, former FCC commissioner and president of the nonprofit Media Access Project. “The telecom giants may have bitten off more than they can chew.”

Democratic members Michael J. Copps and Mignon Clyburn agreed that the rules fell short but said they were willing to back the government’s first step toward overseeing Internet access.

Copps said he considered opposing the measure but instead chose between the better of two bad options: weak rules or no rules at all. He said the FCC should redefine broadband as a telecom service to ensure that the agency’s rules aren’t plagued by court battles. The FCC is considering such a proposal by Genachowski.

“To be clear, we do not anchor ourselves on what I believe to be the best legal framework,” Copps said. “Nor have we crafted rules as strong as I would have liked. But, with today’s action, we do nonetheless appear to steer ourselves back toward a better course.”

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American Military History Dec. 22-28

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Dec. 21, 1861:  The congressionally conceived “Medal of Honor” is signed into law authorizing such medals be awarded to enlisted sailors and Marines who “distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seamanlike qualities.” The Army version of the medal is signed into law the following summer.

Dec. 22, 1864:  Following his “March to the Sea” and just before his “March through the Carolinas,” Union Army Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman presents the captured city of Savannah (Ga.) to Pres. Lincoln as a “Christmas gift.”

Dec. 24, 1814:  The Treaty of Ghent is signed ending the War of 1812.

Dec. 25, 1776:  Continental Army Gen. George Washington conducts his famous crossing of the Delaware River from the icy Pennsylvania shoreline to the equally frozen banks of New Jersey. It will be followed by an eight-mile march to the town of Trenton where he will meet and defeat the Hessians (German soldiers allied to the British).

Speed of movement, surprise, maneuver, violence of action, and the plan’s simplicity are all key. Fortunately, the elements will all come together.

The factors in Washington’s favor are clear: The weather is so bad that no one believes the Continentals will attempt a river crossing, much less a forced march at night. The Continentals are numerically – and perceived to be qualitatively – inferior to the British Army. The Hessians, mercenaries allied to the British and who are garrisoned in Trenton, have a battlefield reputation that far exceeds their actual combat prowess. And no one believes the weary Americans will want to attempt anything with anyone on Christmas.

Hours before kickoff, Washington has his officers read to the men excerpts of Thomas Paine’s The American Crisis.

By 4:00 p.m. the force of just under 2,500 men gathers at McKonkey’s Ferry, the launching point for the mission. The watchword, “Victory or death,” is given. As darkness sets in, the men climb into the boats and begin easing out into the black river.

Washington’s crossing and subsequent raid has been dubbed “America’s first special operation” in some military circles: Though there were many small-unit actions, raids, and Ranger operations during the Colonial Wars, and there was a special Marine landing in Nassau in the early months of the American Revolution. Still no special operation in American military history has been more heralded than that which took place on Christmas night exactly 234 years ago, this week.

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Anti-Healthcare = Pro-Slavery

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Posted by Vladimir (Profile)

Monday, December 20th at 5:49PM EST

Scaling new heights of moonbattery , Huffington Post columnist Manisha Sinha posits that arguments against Obamacare and other Federal intrusions on states’ rights have their roots in the pro-slavery movement, ca. 1840-60:

Long before Tea Party activists and other sundry conservatives detected the ghost of socialism in health care reform and financial regulation legislation, proslavery theorists argued that abolition was akin to socialism. Even though the Lincoln administration would preside over the largest uncompensated confiscation of property in American history, four million slaves valued at around three billion dollars, the Republican party of the Civil War era was as far from socialism as the Obama administration is today.

Not only do contemporary accusations of a drift towards socialism have historical roots in the debates over secession but the alleged rights of the states to nullify or veto federal laws and secede from the Union are also enjoying a newfound popularity. {Emphasis added.](This is the nullification process that many “tea-party-ers” are exploring right now)

A few observations:

  • Ms. Sinha makes me feel silly and delusional for accusing self-described socialists of having socialist tendencies.
  • I really don’t feel like researching it, but I could swear that HuffPo’s position has generally been “Of Course Obamacare is Socialist; Get Over It!”
  • How doubly silly of people to read the 10th Amendment, and then expect it to mean something: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
  • It’s just a guess, but I’d bet that John C. Calhoun never once made reference to Marx and Engels in debating slavery.
  • Detecting the “ghost of socialism” in HCR is a lot like detecting “the ghost of a football player” in DeSean Jackson.

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Man Boards Plane W/Loaded Gun — Napalitano Declares “The System Worked”!?

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Posted by Ben Howe (Profile)

Monday, December 20th at 11:00AM EST

Some moments have come to define this administration’s level of incompetence and detachment from reality.  For Janet Napolitano of Homeland Security, the defining moment is when she claimed “the system worked” shortly after a man came within seconds of blowing up a commercial airliner having only been narrowly thwarted by other passengers.  She soon retracted her statement, however the damage had essentially been done.  Coming from the administration that referred to the wars as “overseas contingency operations” and terrorism as “man caused disasters,” it became clear that they cared more about process than substance.  What was important to them was correctly completing arbitrary screenings as opposed to making sure that terrorism is thwarted.  It’s really a typical liberal mindset: The intentions far outweigh the results.  Practical real-world application of experience is replaced by academic experimentation.

Now comes the news that a man in Houston boarded a plane with a loaded pistol despite having gone through the TSA screening process:

Said the gun owner:

Houston businessman Farid Seif says it was a startling discovery. He didn’t intend to bring a loaded gun on a flight out of Houston and can’t understand how TSA screeners didn’t catch it.

“I mean, this is not a small gun,” Seif said. “It’s a .40 caliber gun.”

Unfortunately, this is par for the course.

From the ABC report:

Authorities tell ABC News the incident is not uncommon, but how often it occurs is a closely guarded government secret. Experts say every year since the September 11 attacks, federal agencies have conducted random, covert tests of airport security.

A person briefed on the latest tests tells ABC News the failure rate approaches 70 percent at some major airports. Two weeks ago, TSA’s new director said every test gun, bomb part or knife got past screeners at some airports.

So, after all of these calls for sacrifice in the name of security, it turns out that the TSA can’t do its job as well as a bouncer at a night club.

It serves as an example of why people like me are so incensed at the current state of TSA screenings.  Pulling people aside and searching them is an excellent way to administer security; Pulling people aside at random to search them is security theater which does about the same amount as doing nothing.  In fact, the only thing that these searches have over doing nothing is that a TSA agent might get to see a woman’s breasts.

If 70% failure rate even after completely depriving people of their right to privacy is the system working, then my car is about to get a lot more mileage.

Don’t let it come to this:

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