TSA Gets Comments Whether they Like it or Not

A month or so ago, I mentioned that the Transportation Security Administration had refused to hold public hearings on their decision to use the nude body scanners even when ordered by a judge to do so.  Now Techdirt points out that one enterprising organization has determined that if they won’t take public comment, then public comment will come to them.

We Won’t Fly has set up a web page where the public can comment, and they promise to deliver said comments to TSA administrator John Pistole.  Curiously, there doesn’t seem to be much pro-TSA feeling at the site.  A couple of examples.

Susan J Barretta writes

TSA security is nothing more than theater to keep a lot of people busy who would otherwise be unemployed.

Kristina Frey:

I work in the healthcare field, and unfortunately for me, have to fly at least twice a month. I would like to know – what kind of calibration standards are followed for these radiation-emitting machines? Can I trust that the TSA takes the same type of precautions that healthcare facilities take to constantly maintain quality control? Considering that I have found TSA to not be following their own policies at several airports, and been told they know the requirements but can’t or don’t follow them when I pointed it out to supervisors, I don’t trust the TSA with exposing me to radiation. No way.

They say that once they hit 10,000 comments or December 1, 2012, they’ll deliver the goods to DC.  Get your comments in while you can.  I’d wager they hit 10,000 well before the December deadline.

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Scratch Brussels off of the Vacation List

ABC reports that Brussels, Belgium has passed rules fining people between €75 and €250  for using insulting or offensive language.

“Any form of insult is from now on [is] punishable, whether it be racist, homophobic or otherwise,” Brussels Mayor Freddy Thielemans’ spokesperson quoted him as saying, according to the Telegraph.

This calls for another letter. Second one in a single day, too.

Dear Mayor Thielemans:

Go fuck yourself, you miserable, fat, Belgian bastard.

Sincerely,
VPJ

Guess I can kiss that Brussels vacation goodbye now.

ht PJ Media

Update: I knew this sounded familiar

 

Censorship by Proxy

Walter Olson of Overlawyered has another story of an elected official using the power of his office to (at best) criticize the speech of a private citizen (at worst, a veiled threat in a nice-place-ya-got-here-shame-if-somethin’-were-to-happen sort of way).  It seems that Delegate Emmett Burns (D-Baltimore County) is not a big fan of same-sex marriage or those that openly agitate for it to become legal and sent a letter to the employer of said private citizen on official stationary.

Del. Emmett Burns (D-Baltimore County), an opponent of same-sex marriage, fired off a letter to the owner [PDF] of the Baltimore Ravens on legislative stationery demanding that he silence Brendon Ayanbadejo…

Mr. Olson also has a challenge for the conservative commentariat:

Pretty much every conservative commentator in America (properly) denounced the Boston mayor and Chicago alderman for menacing Chick-Fil-A. I hope some of them will speak up against this abuse of government office as well.

I consider myself a libertarian, but it seemed like a good idea, so Mr. Olson, you may consider it done.

Dear Del. Burns:

What in God’s name are you thinking when you send a letter to a private citizen’s employer on your official letterhead?  Are you so consumed by outrageous outrage that you don’t stop to think about the veiled threat that is communicated by this letter?  What kind of a censorious thug would insist that a company  “inhibit such expressions from your employee”?  Especially when the subject matter is one that is currently being hotly debated in the public arena.  And most especially when the request is made by an individual who writes the rules that said company will need to operate under, an individual who can certainly make life much more difficult if he wished to do so.

I fully recognize that, as a private company, the Baltimore Ravens can set limits on the speech of their employees that the government could not.  To go around the First Amendment and ask that a private company do what you cannot is reprehensible.

Like Alderman Moreno and Mayor Menino, you have violated your oath to uphold the constitution.

Regards,
VPJ

A Tyranny Sincerely Exercised

CS Lewis once said:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

That out of the way, it’s time for Reason’s Nanny of the Month.

Apparently, I’m Doing it Wrong

I was going to update my Neil Young Armstrong post, but I felt it was more important to confess my sins and come clean afresh.  Apparently, my homage to the great explorer and pioneer was insufficiently grand, as I included a stock NASA photo of the man.  Turns out, the proper homage would have been to include a stock photo of myself.

I do hereby humbly apologize for the grievous sin of not making it all about me.

A most humble hat tip to Stoaty

Not Smart

Not a particularly bright move on the part of the staffer in question.

Granted it wasn’t quite as bad as the dustup during the Coakley campaign (as Prof Jacobson reminds us), but it’s still not a smart reaction to an opposition tracker.  A tracker who is likely trying to get that very sort of reaction on camera.

Trackers have become a fact of life on the campaign trail, thanks to the decline in the cost of recording everything.  In fact, this is precisely the kind of thing that trackers want to catch on camera, along with candidate gaffes and inconsistencies.  How smart is it to hand that kind of event to one’s opponent on a silver platter?

The candidate who lets his staff, or himself, loose their cool in front of a camera doesn’t usually have things end well for them.

Devils and Hell and Mitres, Oh My!

Popehat brings us the story of the young valedictorian who had her diploma withheld because she said something offensive during her speech.  I wonder what it was.

It must really have been bad.  It must have been something off of George Carlin’s list of seven words you can’t say on television.  Only an utter cunt or a complete motherfucker would use one of the heavy seven in a high school graduation speech, so it must have been something totally fucking outrageous that she said.  It must have been something so utterly shitty that the principal of the school got his tits in a such in a wringer that he required a letter of apology before he would release her diploma.  What got him so pissed off?  Let’s see here, what did she say

 “Her quote was, ‘When she first started school she wanted to be a nurse, then a veterinarian and now that she was getting closer to graduation, people would ask her, what do you want to do and she said how the hell do I know? I’ve changed my mind so many times.’”

Hell?  That’s it?

Hell?

At a school whose mascot is a freakin’ devil, the word “hell” is enough to completely freak out the administration? The word “hell” is enough for Principal Slubgob to take such umbrage as to demand a written apology and hold up her diploma? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THAT ASSHOLE?

What a cocksucker.

Edit: minor style change in one sentence.

Best Rejection Notice Response Ev-vah

When budding sports agent Taylor Grey Meyer received the umpteenth rejection notice from the San Diego Padres organization, she figured that it was about par for the course in this economy.  Either that, or someone in the organization did not particularly find her resume enthralling.  However, shortly thereafter, she recieved a follow-up email inviting her to come by a job fair.

On Sun, Aug 5, 2012 at 10:09 AM, <[Redacted]@padres.com> wrote

Hi Taylor,

I wanted to reach out to you as you had previously applied for a position here with the Padres to join our Inside Sales Program. While it may not have been a fit at the time, we appreciate your interest in the position and encourage you to pursue your dream of working in professional sports.

With that being said, I wanted to make sure you are aware of an opportunity to get your start and to pursue a career in sports. Dr. Bill Sutton, author of Sports Marketing, has asked our organization to host the Sports Sales Combine here at Petco Park on September 14-15. It will be the first ever West Coast Combine! As a Combine attendee you would have the opportunity to spend quality time with the hiring managers for multiple teams from different leagues across the country.

Following a link that [Redacted] helpfully included  at the bottom of the email gives us the following tidbit of information (my emphasis):

* Registration fee for this unique sales experience is only $495 and includes the following:
* Two days of hands-on sales training, prospecting and sales call experience;
* Access to a network of professional sales managers from NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL teams as well as
other attending sport properties;
* Sport Sales Combine Scouting Report. A comprehensive overview of the attendee’s Combine
performance including feedback from participating coaches;
* Mixer and networking opportunities
* GUARANTEED interview with at least one hiring team/property; and,
* Access to a discounted rate at a local hotel.
* Access to the Padres v. Rockies series the weekend of September 14 & 15, 2012.

So, not only is the Padres organization so popular that they hire only the cream of job applicants, they (and other organizations) can charge the losers $500 for the privilege of a  bullshit interview. Read more of this post

9 out of 10 Can’t Tell the Difference Between North Face Apparel and a Dead Crab

Timothy Geigner at Techdirt brings us a story full of drama, humor, and a double-layered Streisand Effect.  It seems that an 18-year old student named Jimmy Winkelmann was sued previously by North Face for creating a parody line of clothing named The South Butt.  Hilarity, as they say, ensued.

Now North Face is suing Winkelmann again.  It seems that they are very unhappy that, after settling in the previous lawsuit, Winkelmann simply re-branded to a new parody mark–The Butt Face.  And they’re extremely butthurt (pun intended) that this young man used, and is using, the threat of legal action for publicity purposes.  From the filing:

TSB’s carefully orchestrated publicity and use of the lawsuit as a marketing campaign is detailed in Winkelmann, Sr.’s sworn deposition testimony, wherein he described how—even before The North Face filed its lawsuit against TSB—TSB devised a plan to increase sales by “stir[ring] up a lot of publicity.”

So, of course, North Face had no choice whatsoever but to file another legal action that will garner more publicity for Winkelmann.

The second layer of this Striesand-tastic story is where North Face seriously claims that 35% of their potential customers will be confused.

Fourth, survey results indicating that 34.5% of respondents associate THE BUTT FACE Trademark with The North Face show both extremely high recognition of THE NORTH FACE Trademarks as well as a high level of association with THE BUTT FACE Trademark.

Techdirt questions the methodology thusly:

If this is alledging[sic]  brand confusion, I’m at a loss as to exactly how North Face went out and managed to collect what has to be the world’s most hurried morons in a single room as a method for getting 35% of them to think Butt Face and North Face were the same thing.

To be fair, I looked in the filing and didn’t find a statement where North Face claims “OVER ONE-THIRD OF OUR CUSTOMERS ARE BRAINLESS PRATS”, but I think it’s implied.

So, I see two foolish moves here.  First, I see North Face giving even more publicity to a company that they would probably be better off ignoring.  They get bonus asshat points for complaining about it.  Second, I suspect their marketing boys don’t really think the idea of coming right out and calling your customers stupid in a legal filing is the best of ideas.  Of course, if their customers are that stupid, they’ll probably get away with that bit.

Life imitates art.

Congress Makes the Tough Decision to Eviscerate the First Amendment in Order to Punish a Group Everyone Hates Anyway

What brings together a conservative blowhard blog, a hard-left-leaning-liberal rag, and a group of ungenerous “anarchists, monarchists, or social democrats”?  A disdain for the Westboro Baptist Church is one thing.  More importantly, however, is a shared dislike for the pandering, anti-first-amendment portion of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act.  According to the Army Times, there are more than 50 provisions in the bill, most of which are relatively non-controversial or even necessary.  However, one of these provisions is not quite so harmless.

Under the new legislation, protests must be held at least 300 feet from military funerals and are prohibited two hours before or after a service. The law counters a 2011 Supreme Court ruling, which found that displays such as Westboro’s were protected under the First Amendment.

Popehat (in a post I’ve already linked once) takes the law to task in their own unique style, with even more fun to be had in the comments.  Hot Air opines on the law in two separate posts, but both express similar concerns.

I hate to say it, but this certainly does smell of pandering. There’s no easier path to public praise for politicians than to do something to support our military and veterans. (And rightly so.) But there’s a difference between doing something substantive to help them and just passing a bill which you know will get shot down just so you can look like you’re being tough on the protesters. If the government can regulate speech to the point where they can prevent you from showing up two hours before until two hours after an event, that would be a precedent which could very quickly get out of control.

Westboro baptist is a truly vile and hateful group, but as American citizens, they have the right to be hateful and vile.  It’s something the supreme court recently reminded us about.  I’m somewhat surprised that no one seems to have mentioned it to the congresscritters that voted for this.  In addition, I suspect that the Westboro clowns have their lawyer on speed dial, or at least within sermonizing distance.  This would be the very same lawyer that successfully argued this very issue in front of the supreme court.  So not only is this a simple look-what-I-did for congress to give to mommy to stick up on the fridge, it’s ultimately doomed to failure.  We can only hope that only a few tax dollars get flushed down the crapper during the inevitable court fight.

Meanwhile, first amendment lawyer Marc Randazza reminds us of a much simpler and cheaper solution.

Edit: Fixed speling errer in hedline
Edit:  Made some minor word and format changes.
Edit:  Dustin points out in the comments that the lawyer for the Westboro Baptist Church is the daughter of Rev. Phelps.  I’ve made a clarification.