Monday, May 3, 2010

Oh, By The Way, Did You Know That...

...another terrorist attack on New York was foiled over the weekend:

Saturday at 6:30 p.m., authorities were alerted that a Nissan Pathfinder was billowing smoke in the middle of Times Square, New York City. Upon investigation, they found the car was rigged with explosives including "three propane tanks, consumer-grade fireworks, two gasoline containers, [and] wires and two clocks." No one was hurt, and authorities were able to stop a potentially deadly explosion. New York Governor David Paterson has recently stated that this attempted car bombing was in fact "an act of terrorism."

Both the timing (Saturday night) and location (Times Square) suggest the bomb was intended to do a lot of damage—in fact the gas tanks inside the car were intended magnify the explosion. Fortunately, those in Times Square were safe when several citizens alerted authorities that there was smoke coming from the automobile. This type of "see something, say something" is a vital tool of public safety—lives and property were saved as a result of these reports.

It's not clear yet who was responsible, but an investigation is underway.  Regardless, this makes 31 unsuccessful plots on American soil since 9/11.  While it's (obviously) outstanding that it was stopped, it is once again disturbing that it had to be done by the very citizens who would have been killed with inaction.  Isn't it the government's specified Constitutional function to protect the citizens rather than the other way around?

...more auto regulations are coming:

The aftermath of the unintended acceleration hearings involving Toyota is moving to the front burner again as lawmakers are proposing legislation that would increase auto safety regulations to address all potential sources of unintended acceleration. The bill would also increase the budget of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well increase the maximum financial penalty Congress could impose on an automaker. Draft legislation titled The Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 has been introduced in the House by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.).

The Los Angeles Times reports that:

"The bill is likely to face opposition from automakers, in particular over a provision that would remove the existing $16.4-million cap on civil penalties against vehicle manufacturers for violations of safety laws and boost the fine for each violation to $25,000, from the current $6,000.

It would create a new tax of $9 per new vehicle after three years, payable by the manufacturer, to help fund NHTSA and some of the new requirements of the law. The tax could raise more than $100 million a year based on current sales figures.

Beyond fines and taxes, the bill would dramatically overhaul the federal government's ability to oversee rapidly advancing electronics technology that is at the heart of new vehicles. It would create a center for vehicle electronics and emerging technologies. The measure would require automakers to adopt so-called brake overrides, which cut engine power back to idle when the brake pedal is depressed. It would also set separate new standards on the placement of foot pedals, keyless ignition systems and transmission shift controls."

Toyota isn't owned by the government, and yet the government is going to have to find some way (through regulation) to drag the non-Government Motors companies down so their own brands can hope to compete.  As predicted, here's your takeover of the auto industry.

...Americans retain their sanity on taxation for deficit reduction...Washington not so much:

Only 18% of Americans are willing to pay higher taxes to lower the federal budget deficit, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

Sixty-nine percent (69%) are not willing to have their taxes raised to deal with deficits that are projected to rise to historic levels over the next decade. Thirteen percent (13%) more are not sure.

But most voters think President Obama's new bipartisan deficit reduction commission is more likely to recommend tax increases than spending cuts to meet the growing deficit, and 78% expect Congress to raise taxes if the commission recommends it.

Normal people know that the key to digging out of our unprecedented debt hole is not to raise taxes, but to cut spending.  Too bad Washington is compose primarily of wackos.

...the Wall Street 'reform' bill has some completely unrelated takeovers in it, including...

    ...the Internet:

Democrats have pushed hard to get the financial-regulation reform bill unstuck in the Senate, mainly playing on class-warfare themes in painting the GOP as the party of eeeeeeevil Wall Street robber barons. However, the House version of the bill contains provisions that would put the Federal Trade Commission in position to start issuing rules on Internet transactions that would not only slow down business growth but also have no relevance at all to the financial collapse that prompted the bill...

Neither the FTC nor the Internet had anything to do with the Wall Street meltdown in 2008.  If this financial-regulation bill is so desperately needed, why did House Democrats lard it up with this power grab at the FTC?  Why does the FTC need any further authority over the Internet, where fraud and abuse regulations apply already?   The Internet economy has been one of the bright spots throughout a dismal period of recent history.  Do we need to attack the one area that shows growth and promise?

    ...and your checkbook:

The next time you make a withdrawal from an automated teller machine, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner might be watching over your shoulder. Boosted by the sweeping, 1,400-page financial regulatory proposal currently making its way through the Senate, Mr. Geithner would have unprecedented, real-time access to a wealth of personal and corporate financial data - all in the name of protecting the public.

The legislation, sponsored by Senate banking committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, would create the innocuously named Office of Financial Research as a central repository for transaction-related records held by financial companies. ...

Mr. Dodd's legislation would grant the agency director the coercive power of subpoena to obtain records and rulemaking authority to force private-sector firms to maintain their internal financial records in a format acceptable to the government. The legislation also grants sweeping authority to maintain a data center that would collect and maintain "all data necessary" to carry out the director's wishes. Needless to say, the government's history of losing hard drives and laptops filled with sensitive information suggests entrusting more to a federal agency is not a smart idea.

Of more concern is how the proposed law treats government employees with legal access to this gold mine of information. Bureaucrats would be allowed to exploit their knowledge of market conditions as private-sector consultants one year after leaving the agency. Not only would individuals who had such privileged access to confidential information command a high price in the private sector, they also would be equally rewarded while employed at public expense.

You lose freedom, the government gains more power, and the Friends-of-Obama club gets rich.  Hey, that's hope-n-change for you!

Sorry to crap all over your Monday.  I just thought all that was pretty important stuff that you should know, and the mainstream media sure isn't going to report it.

There's my two cents.

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