Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Picking a Bad Day to Quit Drinking - Michigan Dems Pass Anti-Bootlegging Bill in Legislature

Because as the economy continues to be driven over the cliff by the Michgian Dems, they've got time to worry about some good ol' fashioned crimes like bootlegging. Yes, in 2010, Michigan is concerned about Smokey and the Bandit.

The Traverse City Record Eagle: Bill aims at bootlegging liquor

The first question is - is this even a real problem?

Well it is of course importing without taxing some very precious bodily fluids. Which is bad.

The word bootlegging brings to mind images of Prohibition-era gangsters wearing fedoras and smoking cigars.

It's not an issue most people expect to encounter in 2010, but Rep. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park, begs to differ.

"There are people who are absolutely making a living off of bootlegging," Johnson said. "Not the smart wholesalers or distributors or retail outlets, but the ones that are unscrupulous believe that it's an act that they can participate in, so we want to stop it."

Johnson is the primary sponsor of a bill that would raise penalties for those who sell, deliver or import liquor into the state without going through Michigan's Liquor Control Commission.

A 2008 study by the LCC estimated the average bootlegger brings about $30,000 worth of products over state lines, two to three times a week. That results in a revenue loss for the state of between $1 million and $2 million annually in liquor taxes.

The bill is predicted to earn $9.1 million annually for the state's general fund, primarily from fines of $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the amount of liquor involved. Now, the maximum fine is $1,000.

The bill passed through the Senate and House by votes of 30 to 7 and 77 to 28, respectively.
Of course - this bootlegging is due to Michigan's higher taxes in comparison to neighboring states.
Lance Binoniemi, executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, said the gap between Michigan's liquor tax and that of surrounding states adds to the lure of bootlegging.

"We are the sixth-highest taxed state in the country when it comes to distilled spirits," Binoniemi said. "Our tax rate is four times higher than Indiana's, and over three times higher than Wisconsin's."

In Michigan, the liquor tax is about $10.09 a gallon, compared to about $2.68 in Indiana and $3.25 in Wisconsin. That means a fifth of vodka that costs $17.02 in Michigan would cost only $15.54 in Indiana.
The legislators of course don't propose the simple fix to the problem - matching Michigan's alcohol taxes with its neighboring states, causing the entire reason for this smuggling to go away. That would mean losing revenue (actually it would probably lead to more revenue as the liquor would be bought locally rather than smuggled across state lines) and we can't have that!

I suspect the projected $9 million in fines is a tad optimistic - you'd have to catch the Bandit first in order to fine him, and if you haven't been doing so to date, the increased fines won't magically appear once the law is passed.

Midwest bound and down....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

When driving with illicit funds, you may want to slow down

In our continuing exhibition of stupid criminals, we present the driver who led police on a 10 mile high-speed pursuit. We should of course mention that he had a million dollars cash in his car at the time.

From The Detroit News: $1M found in car after 10-mile police chase

Charges are expected following a high speed chase in West Michigan's Sheridan Township in which police found $1 million in a man's car.
At $100,000 per mile chased this doofus has got to be crying. That was one of the most expensive drag races ever.

Michigan State Police said the man pulled off suddenly after he initially was stopped about 8 p.m. Friday about 65 miles southeast of Grand Rapids. He eventually pulled over and surrendered after a 10-mile chase.

The cash was found during a search of the car.
Most likely this guy panicked for no good reason.
But its just as well that he couldn't keep cool and now loses all that cool cash.
Police said the money may be drug proceeds.
Gee, ya think? Either that or the money is going to fund other nefarious ends. Darn few people have a million bucks in their car as walking around money.

I guess it goes to show that doing drugs really does make you paranoid and stupid, not to mention broke.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Three Is or Three Cs - it all spells trouble for Detroit,

Nolan Finley of the Detroit News, in a well-written article came up with three "I"s that hold back Detroit: ignorance, illegitimacy and isolation.

I've got three "C"s - Corruption, Culture and Crime

Corruption - its endemic to Detroit -- from monies disappearing from medical, fire and city services into politicians pockets, sweetheart deals on city contracts to school paychecks written for non-existent workers. Kwame and friends were just the tip of the iceberg that's been sinking the Titanic that was Detroit, and there's only been prosecutions of the very tip of the tip of the iceberg.

Culture - Detroit is the most segregated city in America, controlled very much on racial lines with the city leaders ruining the show (yes ruining not running) by claims that the suburbs (read whites) will take over Detroit and steal its "jewels". The leadership of Detroit has used race to divide the city from the suburbs and to create a city citizen dependent on the government for services and daily life. In short, its everything Mr. Finley covers with his three "I"s, and he writes it a lot better than I. Unfortunately, I'd have to disagree with his prescription of a regional government - I don't know many people in the suburbs that feel like having to pay for the mess that decades of ineptitude and corruption on the part of the cities leaders and the apathy of its residents have caused, nor will the suburbs pay in to watch the money disappear into numerous rat-holes and Detroit establishment pockets.

It may take removing Detroit from self-governance and instead rule by Gubernatorial fiat to finally get through the pervasive culture of corruption and failure that Michigan's most famous, or indeed infamous city, continues to suffer.

Its a one-party City - straight D Democrat, or in the words of Obama - its in D for Drive - straight into the Detroit river.

Crime - A city with a crime rate that Detroit has will not draw the types of residents that it so desperately needs. Combine the crime with high taxes and pathetic city services and its no wonder that riverfront condos that in any other city would be packed stand vacant. Again, that's something the city officials and residents have to take care of it they're going to move forward.

A vibrant and livable Detroit would go a long way to improving Michigan's outlook.

Detroit can turn itself around, but its going to take shrinking it down to size, cracking down on entrenched corruption and crime and removing a lot of control and decision-making powers from the current rulers of Detroit to outsiders to keep the Detroit establishment's hands off the money to make sure it gets to its citizens and infrastructure where it is actually needed. Not sure if that can happen in real life, given the interests already in place, and it certainly won't happen as long as the state governor is a Democrat counting on the Democrat machine in Detroit for votes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Orwellian Language and History Abuse in Aisle 1

Pelosi hedges on tax cuts

Get this statement by Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

“What I believe the American people deserve is a tax cut for the middle class,” Pelosi said. “And without getting into procedure and timing and process, what we’re going to do is to say at the end of the day the extension of the Obama middle-income tax cuts will take place, and that’s what I have to say on the subject.”

the "extension of the Obama middle-income tax cuts"?

Really now, with a straight face she said the "extension of the Obama middle-income tax cuts"?

Madame Speaker don't you mean an extension of the BUSH tax cuts.

Really, go ahead Madam Speaker, you can say it without the nonsensical historical revisionism. Obama was not president in 2001 or 2003 and was only a US Senator in 2005 so no matter how you slice it they are not and cannot be "his" tax cuts.

Next thing you know the Democrats will be taking credit for success in the War in Iraq.

Oh, nevermind.

Threat against the Pope in the UK thwarted by police

UK Police: 5 arrested in alleged threat to pope
British police arrested five London street cleaners over an alleged threat to Pope Benedict XVI on Friday, the second day of a papal trip to Britain that has brought both a warm welcome from Catholics and renewed anger over the clerical sex abuse scandal.

The Vatican said the pope was calm despite the pre-dawn arrests and planned no changes to his schedule.

Acting on a tip, police detained the men, aged 26 to 50, under the Terrorism Act at a business in central London. They are being questioned at a London police station and have not been charged. Police said an initial search of that business and other related properties had not uncovered any hazardous items.

Westminster Council said the suspects worked as street cleaners for a contractor on its behalf.

Police said they received information about a potential threat against the pope overnight, prompting the armed operation to arrest the men early Friday.

Police declined to say whether the men were British or give details of their ethnicity....
Even as the authorities are reluctant to give out the ethnic and religious persuasions of the conspirators, they have now confirmed they are not British nationals and some sources identify them as Algerian nationals.

Unless Algeria has, unbeknownst to the rest of us, recently gone militantly Protestant, I'd submit it is yet another moderate act by the Religion of Peace and High Exposives.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Some concerns raised in headlines are quite frustrating

A Detroit News headline: U.S. Muslims frustrated by Americans' suspicions

Could these suspicions be because of (all additional stories on the same day also in the Detroit News):

Report: Torn Quran in Mich. prompts church fire in India

Accused underwear-bomber gets OK to defend himself

And many more incidents including
The past year has been especially tough for mainstream Muslims, who say they feel they need to constantly defend their religion when Islamic extremists make headlines.

In November, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas. Government officials say he was in contact with a cleric with ties to al-Qaida.

A month later, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was charged with attempting to blow up a plane en route from Amsterdam to Detroit.

On May 1, a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen, Faisal Shahzad, allegedly tried to blow up an SUV in Times Square in New York. He told authorities he was a "Muslim soldier."

And just this week, two former Detroit men -- Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi and Hezam al Murisi -- were detained, but later released without being charged, in Amsterdam when authorities said suspicious items were found in one of the men's luggage.
Nope, no well-founded reasoning for suspicion at all.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Happy Rosh HaShanah Year 5771

I'll kick off the end of the first day of the Jewish New Year with a little religious levity (After being at Synagogue all day a little humor is good to have):

A Catholic Priest, a Baptist Preacher, and a Rabbi all served as chaplains to the students of Northern Michigan University in Marquette. They would get together two or three times a week for coffee and to talk shop.

One day, someone made the comment that preaching to people isn't really all that hard - a real challenge would be to preach to a bear. One thing led to another, and they decided to do an experiment. They would all go ou t into the woods, find a bear, preach to it, and attempt to convert it.

Seven days later, they all came together to discuss their experience.

Father Flannery, who had his arm in a sling, was on crutches, and had various bandages on his body and limbs, went first. 'Well,' he said, 'I went into the woods to find me a bear. And when I found him, I began to read to him from the Catechism. Well, that bear wanted nothing to do with me and began to slap me around. So I quickly grabbed my holy water, sprinkled him and, Holy Mary Mother of God, he became as gentle as a lamb. The Bishop is coming out next week to give him first communion and confirmation.'

Reverend Billy Bob spoke next. He was in a wheelchair, ha d one arm and both legs in casts, and had an IV drip. In his best fire-and- brimstone oratory, he claimed, 'WELL, brothers, you KNOW that we don't sprinkle! I went out and I FOUND me a bear. And then I began to read to my bear from God's HOLY WORD! But that bear wanted nothing to do with me. So I took HOLD of him and we began to wrestle. We wrestled down one hill, UP another and DOWN another until we came to a creek .. So, I quickly DUNKED him and BAPTIZED his hairy soul. And just like you said, he became as gentle as a lamb. We spent the rest of the day praising Jesus. Hallelujah!

The priest and the reverend both looked down at the Rabbi, who was lying in a hospital bed. He was in a body cast and traction with IVs and monitors running in and out of him. He was in really bad shape.

The Rabbi looked up and said: "Looking back on it, ....... circumcision may not have been the best way to start."

Happy Rosh HaShanah!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Just when you thought the only sharks along the Potomac are in Congress.....

Eight-foot shark caught in Potomac River

Fisherman Wily Dean was trying to catch cow-nosed rays in Southern Maryland's Potomac River for a marine biologist this week, but he ended up netting an 8-foot-long bull shark.

This adds new complexity to my plan to dive the World War 2 German U-Boat, U-1105 sunk in the Potomac.

Bull Sharks - Carcharhinus leucas can survive in fresh as well as salt water and some have even (thankfully only very occasionally and rarely) been found in Lake Michigan.

The comments in the linked to article are pretty funny, with quite a few from bleeding heart greenies that would wet themselves if they ever saw a bull shark in person. That is, of course, if they had time to wet themselves before this apex predator showed them what the maritime food chain looks like.

How I Spent My Past Two Weekends

Its been a busy past couple weeks.

Last weekend I took the kids apple picking at Erwin Orchards and Cider Mill - highly recommended (they even have a blog). It was hot, hot, hot last Sunday, but the Ginger Gold apples were fantastic - I've never had one before and its now my favorite apple - sweet, apply, and crisp with a great firm texture (I hate mushy apples except in its proper place as apple sauce). The Paula Red and Ida Red varieties weren't nearly as good.

The kids enjoyed picking apples, especially when I served as a lift and got them to the fine apples near the tops of the trees.  It was good for them to see where apples come from, and picking your own beats the store hands down. 

Picking apples in the hot sun with tractor rides amongst the varieties done, we headed in to buy some cider and doughnuts.  Cider is great when you're hot, and this was good cider, served nice and chilled with some fine fresh doughnuts.

The kids then played on the tricycle track, on cycles that cry out for some maintenance, lubrication, and replacement, but they had fun for all that the trikes were heavy and very slow to move, and no serious spills occurred.

After the successful day we went off to swim and went home.

For the Labor Day weekend I headed to Toronto for my cousin Paul's wedding.  The wedding was held at McLean House, a beautiful location for such an occasion.

The day before on heading to the open house at Paul's parents, Leah got to experience her first ever subway ride, with a switch in lines to another train.

A very nice wedding, and Paul and my now new (and quite wonderful and a worthy addition to the family) cousin Kate are splendidly matched for each other.  May they have a very long sweet life together ahead of them.  At the brunch I got a chance to sit beside some of their friends from New Brunswick who had done one of the readings during the wedding ceremony and some very erudite and far-ranging conversation was had from the topics of wedding to the US and Canadian economies and beyond - very pleasant indeed.

The wedding offered a sweet finish - samples of cookies from both sides of each of the brides and grooms families.  Paul did quite a faithful recreation of my Nana's chocolate chip cookies.

We drove back after stopping at my Mother-in-law's apartment, from whose balcony I took this nice shot of the Toronto Skyline: 

We then made incredibly good time on the road and at the border and had a record 4 hour door-to-door trip.  A first time we've ever gotten under 5 hours with the kids on board.

So two very different but very nice weekends.