Spot on

September 28, 2007

A great political cartoon about President Gilligan’s Ahmadinejad’s appearance at Columbia University.

(hat tip: Contentions)

Welcome to Tennessee. Y’all are being watched.

September 28, 2007

Cigarette surveillance program begins today

Starting today, state Department of Revenue agents will begin stopping Tennessee motorists spotted buying large quantities of cigarettes in border states, then charging them with a crime and, in some cases, seizing their cars.

Critics say the new €œcigarette surveillance program€ amounts to the use of €œpolice state tactics and wrongfully interferes with interstate commerce. But state Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr says his department is simply doing its job, enforcing a valid state law while protecting Tennessee retailers who properly pay state taxes.

Agents have already been watching out-of-state stores that sell cigarettes near the Tennessee border to “get a feel where problem areas are,€ Farr said.

While declining to be specific, the commissioner said €œproblem areas€ are generally along interstate highways with exits near the Tennessee border.

The idea is for the monitoring agent to spot a person buying cigarettes in volume at an out-of-state market, then departing in a vehicle with Tennessee license tags. Starting today, monitoring agents spotting such a suspect will call an arresting agent who will stop the car when it enters Tennessee, he said.

The agents will work €œin roving teams at random times,€ he said.

OK, I understand wanting to stop people from reselling imported cigarettes without paying state taxes — that’s called "smuggling." But sending agents into neighboring states to watch in case someone from Tennessee buys more cancer-sticks than the agent thinks he should and then tries to take them home? What if he’s just stocking up for winter, or giving them as gifts to friends, family, and people he wants to see suffer emphysema? Is the Tennessee Department of Revenue now saying it’s illegal to shop for smokes in another state? Shouldn’t they wait to see if the buyer is really going to try to re-sell them? 

Does this man really have nothing better to do?

(hat tip: Blue Crab Boulevard)

LINKS: More at Captain’s Quarters, where Ed notes that it takes as little as three cartons to bring down the wrath of Tennessee Revenue; Hot Air; Outside the Beltway; the Corner; Oxford Medievalist;and David Harsanyi.

Politics notes

September 28, 2007

Apparently Fred Thompson needs to study a bit more, especially since he plans to participate in the Republican game show debate in Michigan in October. It seems he didn’t know a federal judge had ruled execution by lethal injections illegal in his home state of Tennessee, nor did he know that the Supreme Court will take up an important death-penalty case this year. And yet Fred had made support for the death penalty a key part of his run for the Senate in 1994.

The knock on Fred has always been that he’s a bit lazy. If he wants to avoid embarrassing himself against perennially sharp candidates like Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani, he’d better start studying hard.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side of our political funny farm, George McGovern has announced he will endorse Hillary Clinton:

McGovern will announce his support in Iowa City on October 6th, he confirmed while sitting in a barber shop in his home town of Mitchell, South Dakota.

This might be a "with friends like these" moment, but maybe not. McGovern is a darling of the defeatist, anti-war Left in the US, which includes the arguably dominant faction of the Democratic Party. She’s always been on thin ice with them for her vote in favor of the invasion of Iraq and her subsequent failure to apologize for it, and her failure to guarantee a complete withdrawal from Iraq during her first term must annoy the crowd. Winning an endorsement from the poster-child of the anti-Vietnam war generation should earn her some points, or at least tolerance, from the Democratic base.

On the other hand, he’s also the face of national self-defeat in war and catastrophic defeat in elections for the Democratic Party. McGovern’s firm identification with the hard left of his party, carrying as it does the baggage of higher taxes, national security weakness, and a massive extension of federal power could well drive off independent voters, as it did in 1972. My guess is that it will help Hillary a bit in the primaries (though she could derail herself), and not matter much in the general election, which is so far away that most voters will have forgotten McGovern’s endorsement by then.

(hat tips: Real Clear Politics’ Politics Nation blog.)