All Hail Emperor Obama

"This notion I can somehow just change the laws unilaterally is just not true. We are doing everything we can administratively, but fact of the matter is there are laws on the books that I have to enforce. And I think...


Lisa Murkowski’s Earmark in the House Land Use Bill

On Tuesday, the House will be voting on a banal and non-controversial omnibus land use bill, H.R. 2578.  Honestly, there are much bigger fish to fry, especially as the Senate begins to tackle the $1 trillion farm bill along with over 70 amendments.  However, there is one provision in this bill that is worth highlighting, as it exemplifies the culture of quid-pro-quo parochial handouts that are endemic of Washington deal making.

The omnibus package of 14 bills includes different laws that deal with rules and regulations relating to usage of federal lands.  For example, the package includes a bill, sponsored by Cong. Heath Schuler (D-NC) that opens up land to the use of firearms and archery equipment.  Another bill, sponsored by Cong. Rob Bishop (R-UT), contains language that blocks the Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior from preventing border patrol agents from pursuing drug cartels in national forests due to cumbersome environmental laws.

Most of these bills are just a few pages long and have a universal application.  Yet, one bill, H.R. 1408, the Southeast Alaska Native Land Entitlement Finalization and Jobs Protection Act, is a 45-page carve out to a corporation that gave $1.9 million towards Lisa Murkowski’s write-in bid against Republican nominee, Joe Miller, in 2012.  The House sponsor is, of course, Cong. Don Young.

Independent journalist, S.E. Robinson, wrote a very informative piece for The Blaze uncovering all the details of the earmark and its relation to Senator Murkowski.  Here are some of the key takeaways:

Sen. Lisa A. Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Rep. Donald E. Young (R-Alaska) are the ringleaders behind legislation (S.730 & H.R.1408) that would allow Sealaska Corporation of Juneau to clear-cut the Tongass National Forest. […]

Sealaska led the charge behind Alaskans Standing Together, the super PAC that propelled Murkowski from GOP-primary-loser to write-in-winner and Republican Senator in 38 days by spending $1.7 million on a pro-Murkowski ad campaign. […]

Sealaska is one of 12 regional corporations Congress created through the Alaskan Native Land Claims Settlement Act of 1971 oversee the distribution to the native population of roughly $1 billion in federal funds and 44 million acres of land.

The largest non-federal landholder in Southeast Alaska, Sealaska stands to gain an additional 123-33 square miles of territory, depending on how House Republicans feel about another wilderness omnibus debacle.

Again, the underlying bill is not necessarily so controversial.  Nonetheless, whether this meets the technical definition of an earmark or not, it represents the worst elements of the process that should be banned from the halls of Congress.

Cross-posted from The Madison Project


Tech at Night: Obama’s FCC transparency failure, video regulatory failure, Google censorship

Tech at Night

Instead of the transparent Obama administration we were promised, from the Obama FCC, what we have here is failure to communicate.

We need to continue to cut the FCC out of the loop, the old regulations are harmful when it comes to retransmission consent and the whole cable company/local broadcaster nexus. Clear it out, deregulate, restore the free market, and the public will benefit.

Under heavy regulation, technological progress was slow and done at a leisurely pace by heavily-regulated and -favored monopolies.

Don’t be evil watch: Google actually does put profits first, like every other business, and censors as much as it needs to in order to stay in business and provide value for shareholders. And yet the digital libertarians will keep sucking up to them as being above it all, and somehow better than the firms they hate. Morons.

Another call for cybersecurity compromise, as apparently the last one died out when McCain and co. explained why compromising with a very bad bill would be very bad. Ultimately again though, it’s up to the House to send a clear statement that the Lieberman-Collins bill, or any thing like it, cannot pass.


What to take away from the debunking of MSNBC’s fake Romney WaWa ‘scandal.’

Background: Mitt Romney made a campaign speech today that used the WaWa convenience store franchise’s touch screen sandwich menu feature to make the point of how more cool and efficient the private sector is, when compared to the government. MSNBC doctored the clip to make it look like Romney was merely astounded that we have touch screen sandwich menus now*. Lots of people called MSNBC out on it. Hijinks are now going to ensue.

It’s all going to go entertainingly bad for MSNBC (and every enthusiast that uncritically believed the aforementioned doctored clip); and yes, I’m sure that everybody reading this is all broken up about that, too. But that’s not the point! You know what the point is? It’s that… do you know WHY people were able to debunk the story just in time for it to embarrassingly explode all over MSNBC? It’s because somebody in the audience was recording the speech.



Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Which is, by the way, actually very cool. And they didn’t really exist until quite recently.



Insanity Break: The Terms


Pot Dispensary Owner Faces Life Sentence for Being Too Profitable

Medical marijuana dispensary owner Aaron Sandusky might be going
to jail for a long, long time.

While President Obama made news last
by putting a temporary stop to the deportation of
immigrants who've resided in the U.S. since childhood,
Mike Riggs noted
the inconsistency of the administration's
refusal to apply a similar do-no-harm approach to medical
marijuana.Another Sandusky in trouble.

Don't Make Money

Sandusky has the misfortune of sharing a surname with a
news-making, alleged child molester, but he has the perhaps greater
misfortune of potentially facing a prison sentence equally harsh to
what Jerry Sandusky's might be. But instead of sexually abusing
more than 50 young boys, Aaron Sandusky's alleged crime is simply
that of supplying people with a product they want and legally are
allowed to have in the state of California.

Sandusky, whom profiled in
this video
, faced a post-arraignment hearing and a pre-trial
hearing in two Los Angeles federal courtrooms on Monday, as did his
brother Keith Alan Sandusky and four other employees of Sandusky's
dispensary, G3 Holistic.
According to
the federal indictment
, the Sandusky brothers each face six
separate counts, and each of the defendants face counts that could
also carry life sentences.

A group of about 30 friends and activists gathered outside of
the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building, where the first hearing of
the day occurred at about 8:30am. Among those gathered was Dan
Forman, a friend and colleague of Sandusky's who, in the clip
below, speculates about the motives of the DOJ and DEA in targeting

"I really believe it was a case of the government believing that
Aaron was commercializing and profiteering," he says.

Thom Mrozek, the press representative for the Department of
Justice's Central California district, responded to questions about
G3 Holistic with this emailed statement:

"Those associated with the G3 marijuana store ignored a series a
warnings that the retail store in Upland was operating in violation
of the law. Those warnings came from local officials, through
letters from the Department of Justice, during the execution of
search warrants and through civil lawsuits. The allegations of
illegal activity are clearly laid out in the indictment."

But Forman's speculation seems consistent with past statements
made by DOJ officials in describing the raids.

"The law has been hijacked by profiteers who are motivated not
by compassion, but by money," said Melinda Haag, one of
California's U.S. Attorneys, at a DOJ
press conference
 on October 11, 2011.  

In other words, Haag isn't bothered by the concept of medical
marijuana, so long as it remains safely in feel-good, nonprofit
"collectives" where, supposedly, nobody makes a dime. Because
Sandusky, a former real estate businessman, created a supply chain
and a distribution network that provides his customers with
high-quality, low-cost product—i.e., established a workable
business model—he must be stopped.

Drugs aren't bad. But making money off drugs is bad, or

Too Many Governments, Too Much

While the medical marijuana fight is largely a battle between
state and federal jurisdiction, the Sandusky case is even more
complicated. Reason previously covered the
problems that Sandusky had with his city government.
The mayor
of Upland, where the original G3 Holistic was located, was himself
indicted on federal corruption charges after he allegedly attempted
to extort Sandusky and other local business owners.

In 2010, Upland's city council attempted to ban medical
marijuana dispensaries altogether, which triggered a series of
legal challenges that landed the issue in California's Supreme
Court in the form of
Pack v. Long Beach.
Until that case is decided,
however, some dispensary owners, including Sandusky, believe they
are allowed to stay open unless the city can prove they are acting
illegally under California state law.

This raises the question, are city officials colluding with the
the DEA and other federal agencies to do the dirty work while their
hands are tied? Nothing in the federal indictment indicates that
Sandusky was engaging in activity inconsistent with state law,
though these are precisely the sorts of operations Attorney General
Eric Holder
promised that DOJ wouldn't target.
Don Duncan, California
Director of Americans for
Safe Access
tackles that question in the clip below.

"What this feels like is retribution," says Duncan. "Because
what we have here are collectives that are fighting with the city
over what are basically land use and license issues, really local

Stalling Tactics

The Sandusky brothers have been sitting in prison since last
Thursday. Aaron Sandusky, a soft-spoken, 42-year-old man with a
full head of salt-and-pepper hair, looked downright haggard and
defeated as he sat in court wearing an orange 2XL jumpsuit and
chain restraints. 

This hearing was meant to set the trial start date, which is
tentatively scheduled for August 7, 2012, as well as to resolve the
issue of Sandusky's bond. Sandusky and the other defendants were
arrested last Thursday, and a judge set bail for each defendant at
the initial bond hearing in Riverside. However, prosecutors
successfully filed an appeal, which kept the Sandusky brothers in
prison until now.

Aaron Sandusky's attorney, Roger Diamond, raised this issue,
mentioning that Sandusky has a heart condition called a
cardiomyopathy and stressing the importance of setting bail as soon
as possible. Judge Percy Anderson seemed willing to proceed with
the hearing, but prosecutors had failed to bring a crucial
transcript from the prior hearing, which was necessary to

"It's just a stalling tactic," Diamond said after the hearing.
"They just don't want him out at all."

The court failed to set a deadline for the production of the
transcript. In the meantime, Sandusky will have to sit in jail,
wait, and hope his heart doesn't go out before the trial.

Watch the video below and decide for yourself whether or not
this man, who never hid any of his activities from the government
and, in fact, invited government officials to tour his facilities,
deserves multiple life terms in a federal penitentiary.


Obama chooses stand-in for Romney in debate rehearsals

**Written by Doug Powers

If Obama opens his first actual debate with Romney by instinctively asking him “why the long face,” this will help explain it.

From the Washington Post:

President Obama has tapped Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, to play Republican Mitt Romney in mock debate rehearsals, Obama campaign officials and the senator’s office confirmed Monday.

Kerry will help Obama prepare for among the most consequential events of his reelection campaign — the three fall debates against Romney. As the senior senator from Massachusetts, Kerry has studied Romney’s career and campaign style for nearly two decades and has first-hand knowledge of his record as governor.

Kerry has long been considered one of the Democratic Party’s most skilled debaters, and his performances in more than 25 debates in the 2004 race earned plaudits. Some credited his strong debates against President George W. Bush with tightening the race in the closing weeks of the 2004 campaign.

It is his perspective on Romney, though, that could be especially valuable for Obama. Kerry was a key surrogate on behalf of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) when he defeated Romney in 1994. And Kerry closely observed Romney’s successful 2002 gubernatorial campaign, where his performance in debates against Democrat Shannon O’Brien were believed to have helped him win.

In the mock debates, look for “Romney” to argue forcefully that a certain Senator from Massachusetts would make a terrific secretary of state.

Hopefully Thurston’s invaluable guidance this year will lead the Democrats to an election result similar to the one Kerry’s masterful debate expertise scored for them in 2004.

The obvious question is now being asked: Who will Romney choose to play the part of Obama for his debate practice? What’s Chris Matthews doing next week?

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe


Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, Roger Clemens, and Obamacare #EERS

Tonight on the Erick Erickson Show, I’ll get into my post from this morning about Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. Also, the Department of Justice now has a long string of high profile cases that have gone down in flames. Roger Clemens is just the latest.

We’ll get into it all.

You can listen live tonight on the WSB live stream and call in at 1-800-WSB-TALK. The show runs from 6pm to 8pm ET.

Consider this an open thread.

UPDATE: By the way, a lot of people are requesting this. I read it on the radio: Read this now.


Boost for the U.S. and the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The G-20 meetings in Mexico over the weekend might actually have accomplished something. Mexico was today invited to join the nine countries, including the U.S., currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an investment and trade agreement. If nurtured properly, this development has the potential to improve the global trading system. First, caution is required. The terms of the TPP accord to this point have been closely guarded, most likely to spare the Obama Administration from...

Click the title to read the full post.


Energy Policy *IS* Grassroots Politics

Compare and contrast these maps. First, the “undervote” by county in the recent Pennsylvania Democratic Presidential primary. The numbers in each county represent the proportion of voters in a Democratic primary who selected “no candidate” rather than vote for the incumbent, Barack Obama.

“A significant portion of western and central Pennsylvania Democrats declined to vote for Barack Obama in the April primary, an analysis by PoliticsPA has found. The results there resemble those of Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia, where the President lost around 40 percent of the primary vote to no-name opponents or “undecided”. … Over 30 percent of voters left the presidential ballot blank rather than select Obama’s name in 27 counties.” (Source.)

Now, the distribution map of the Marcellus Shale:

Geologic map showing the distribution of the gas-bearing Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. (Source.)

While we’re at it, a third map shows the locations of active drilling wells in the Keystone State:

Active drilling wells in PA, June 2012. Each symbol represents a new drilling well in progress. A typical Marcellus Shale well costs $8 million to $10 million prior to production. (Source.)

In discussions of energy and politics, the focus is often on the bogeyman, “Big Oil”. But in the energy states, energy policy intersects with electoral politics at a very local grassroots level.

When an oil and gas operator decides to drill, they need a lease; in other words, the company pays cash directly to the landowner, up to thousands of dollars per acre, in return for the right to drill.

In addition to this “lease bonus”, the landowner receives a royalty on production. This is a non-cost-bearing interest in production, maybe 20% or more. “Non-cost-bearing” means the landowner does not pay one cent of the cost to drill or operate the well.

So drilling benefits only the landed gentry? Hardly.

Oil and gas money usually doesn’t end up under a mattress. It gets deposited in local banks. The money ends up with local car dealers, building contractors and furniture stores.

And then there are the oilfield jobs, generally better paying jobs, with better benefits, than previously existed in the community.

Consequently, local folks generally come to like oil and gas. Especially the Chambers of Commerce. Even local pols, local Democratic pols, like oil and gas activity because the increased valuations mean more property tax dollars filling the public coffers and enriching local school boards.

As the maps show, even Democratic voters vote their pocketbooks.

Cross-posted at Maley’s Energy Blog.


Justice Anthony Kennedy, Libertarian?

The latest issue of
Time magazine features a cover story entitled “What Will
Justice Kennedy Do?” Among other things, the story attempts to make
sense out of the fact that Kennedy sometimes sides with the Supreme
Court’s more conservative justices while at other times siding with
the Court’s liberals. “More and more cases are decided based on his
idiosyncratic values,” Time says.

David Boaz of the Cato Institute argues
that there might be a
better word than “idiosyncratic” to describe Kennedy’s

Justice Kennedy seems to be very concerned with liberty. He
often sides with conservatives on economic issues (which are
actually never mentioned by Time) and campaign speech, and
with liberals on civil liberties, gay rights, and school prayer.
Pretty inconsistent, huh?

Or then again, maybe Justice Kennedy has a basically libertarian
view of the world and the Constitution. The word “libertarian”
never appears in the article. Perhaps it should.

Boaz makes it clear that he isn’t calling Kennedy “a
down-the-line, Nozick-reading, Cato Institute libertarian,” but
rather is saying that there’s “a strong libertarian streak in
Kennedy’s jurisprudence.” I think that’s a fair statement. In
addition to the issues Boaz mentions, Kennedy has also cast
libertarian-leaning votes against race-based
government classifications
and in favor of protecting
unpopular speech
like flag burning. But then again Kennedy also
sided with the majority in two of the most notoriously
non-libertarian decisions in recent years: Gonzales
v. Raich
, which upheld the federal government’s ban on
marijuana as a valid exercise of congressional power under the
Commerce Clause, and Kelo v.
City of New London
, which allowed New London,
Connecticut's abusive
of eminent domain to stand. So while the term libertarian
may apply to a nice chunk of Kennedy’s jurisprudence, it
unfortunately does not apply to all of it.


Ira Stoll on Sheldon Adelson’s “Foreign Money” and John McCain’s Hypocrisy

The Republican Party’s 2008 presidential
candidate, John McCain, is warning about foreign money influencing
American elections this year via casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a
prominent supporter of Republican politicians. It may have
been the lowest moment of Senator McCain’s political career, writes
Ira Stoll. First, there’s the hypocrisy of it--McCain received
money from Adelson when he ran for president in 2008. But his
stance also reveals xenophobia and a stunning disconnect from the
realities of the global economy. 

View this article.


Mitt and Barry Are Neck-and-Neck, Google Says Censorship is On the Rise, Immigration Law Leaves Employers Scrambling: P.M. Links

  • Is anybody here carrying any marijuana? C'mon and turn your pockets out ...Since mid-April, presidential
    preference polls have shown a
    dead heat
    between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. With both
    candidates stuck at around 46 percent, many observers assume that
    the GOP candidate benefits, since late-deciders usually break
    against the incumbent.
  • Google says it faces a rising tide of demands
    from governments
    to remove search results, videos and other
    content to which various governments around the world object. "It's
    alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because
    some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect —
    Western democracies not typically associated with censorship,"

    Dorothy Chou, Google's senior policy analyst.
  • Alabama's anti-immigrant law has driven tens of thousands of
    Hispanics from the state — and
    left some employers scrambling
    to fill positions for which
    legal residents are unqualified or uninterested.
  • A
    30-block-long silent procession
    , led by civil rights groups and
    gay activists, protested the New York City Police Department's
    controversial stop-and-frisk tactics.
  • Stephen Downing, the former chief of the LAPD's Bureau of
    Investigation, with oversight of the Narcotics Division,
    now favors full drug legalization
    . He might want to have a

    chat with the feds
  • Having effectively
    seized complete control
    of the country,
    Egypt's military leaders insist
    they will "hand over power to
    the elected president" — apparently Mohammed Morsi — at the end of
    this month.
  • After pulling a plurality of votes in Greece's latest election,
    Greece's New Democracy party is
    struggling to piece together a ruling coalition
    . With Spain's
    bond yields jumping over seven percent and Italy also teetering,

    stock markets dipped
    over fears of European instability.

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Reason's morning and afternoon news updates.


Obama for America showing no signs of getting the point about 2012.

These three quotes seem to pretty much sum up Team Obama’s wonderful, wonderful attitude towards this election:

The campaign has an almost mystical confidence in sophisticated technology and in its organization, assets that only matter in a razor-tight race. Further, these other strategists say, the Obama camp is no more justified in its belief that this campaign is like a rerun — with the uniforms changed — of 2004, when a shakily popular Republican president won re-election, than it would be to believe that 2012 is a reprise of 1980, when an incumbent president was thrown out for non-performance.

Any outreach by Obama’s Chicago acolytes to hear out these arguments is limited and superficial.

- Albert Hunt, Bloomberg, “The Obama Campaign Needs an Intervention

This is [Vogue editor Anna] Wintour’s second campaign working as an Obama bundler, those well-connected and highly motivated wranglers of cash for political candidates. Her latest effort for the president came on Thursday evening at a 50-person, $40,000-a-plate dinner she co-hosted at the West Village town house of Sarah Jessica Parker.

During a question-and-answer session with Mr. Obama, Ms. Wintour had command of the room.

- Jeremy W Peters, New York Times, “Power Is Always in Vogue

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt suggested to Luke Russert on MSNBC Monday that the campaign has no plans to rejigger its messaging, despite recent criticism of its tactics from within the Democratic party.

“Well, it will come as no surprise to you, Luke, we don’t believe the presidential elections are determined by the ups and downs of the weekly cable news cycle,” LaBolt said.

- Donovan Slack, Politico, “Obama camp dismisses Dem criticism” (via @RyanGOP)


The three attitudes reinforce each other. Bloomberg’s telling us that Obama’s re-election campaign has decided to reproduce for the general election in 2012 the mechanistic strategy that won them the Democratic primary in 2008*. The New York Times is telling us that the administration is going to be heavily – heavily - leaning on people like Wintour to fund his campaign**. And Politico is telling us that Barack Obama’s team thinks that they’ve got a winning strategy.

Well, obviously you won’t run a campaign a particular way unless you think that running it that way gives you the best chance for victory; still… well. The aforementioned mechanistic technique was designed to take advantage of quirks, low-participation realities, and/or loopholes in the Democratic primary process. None of those actually exist in the general election. You either win a majority of the popular vote per state, or you do not. And… Anna Wintour is not an effective spokeswoman when it comes to influencing the wide swath of voters in what Wintour undoubtedly thinks of being ‘flyover country.’ Finally… just because something worked against John McCain – a candidate whose aggregate generated enthusiasm over the whole campaign has already been surpassed by Mitt Romney, and it’s not even July yet – does not mean that it’ll work on anybody else.

Which is why I called all of this “wonderful.” We have a ways to go yet on this election, but I like my political opponents to be fat, dumb, and sloppy. I particularly like it when they’re arrogant, too; it adds to the flavor.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*I know that Bloomberg said ’2004,’ but ’04 was a natsec election. There was never a chance in perdition that the American people were going to switch to a peace candidate in the middle of a war.

**As witnessed by the fact that a prudent campaign would have dropped that fundraiser, once the mocking started. You don’t let somebody cut a campaign ad like this for you if you can possibly help it.


PODCAST: Automaker Bailout or UAW Bailout?

In this week’s Heritage in Focus, expert James Sherk discusses the bailout of U.S. automakers. Click here to listen. Why did the United Auto Workers union receive special treatment? How much did the bailout cost the American public? What should taxpayers do about it? Click the link to listen to James answer those questions and more. To get regular updates on Heritage in Focus podcasts, visit our RSS feed or subscribe on iTunes. To listen to more Heritage Foundation podcasts, visit our...

Click the title to read the full post.


Is TruNarc the Answer to the Bath Salts Menace? Or Just the Latest Breathalyzer?

All your cocaine base are belong to us.Police departments around the country are getting
hot and bothered by a hand-held device that they hope will be the
key to detecting an ever-morphing range of synthetic drugs such as
oh-so-scary "bath salts" that are as hard for police to detect as
they are for the law to keep up with. By pointing the TruNarc
analyzer at a sample — even inside a clear container — police can
identify the latest drugs, so long as they keep their data
up-to-date, boosters promise. They see it as the sort of
game-changer the breathalyzer has been — which just may be the

the Wall Street Journal:

Police in a few departments around the U.S. are testing a
hand-held laser device that its boosters say can immediately
identify illegal drugs and could revolutionize how narcotics cases
are investigated and prosecuted.

Proponents hope the device, called TruNarc, will help officers
quickly discern illicit substances at a time when police are seeing
a surge in new, harder-to-identify designer drugs such as the
psychoactive powders known as "bath salts."

According to manufacturer
, Thermo Fisher Scientific, of
Waltham, Massachusetts:

With the TruNarc instrument, the accuracy and reliability of a
narcotics lab are available anywhere you go. Narcotics, stimulants,
depressants, hallucinogens and analgesics are all easily identified
using lab-proven Raman spectroscopy.

So long as you accept the premise of drug prohibition, the
TruNarc widget sounds like an improvement over current chemical
field tests, aside from its $20,000 price tag. After all, current
field tests have a nasty tendency to go horribly wrong, famously identifying soap,
for instance, as GHB
, with a stay in the clink as the booby
prize for unlucky subjects of the faulty technology. By contrast,

says the Boston Globe
, in a report on a pilot program
in the Quincy, Massachusetts, police department, "Some training is
needed to use the device, and thus far, the device has been 100
percent accurate — continually matching up with results that are
sent off to the lab, the manufacturer says."

Wow! One hundred percent accuracy! You don't often see those
kinds of results. In fact, I don't remember ever coming
across a product that was "100 percent accurate."

The Globe went on to quote Lt. Patrick Glynn, the head
of the Quincy police drug unit, comparing TruNarc to another
much-trusted technology. "Glynn compared it to the evolution of
Breathalyzer tests. The technology is at its beginning, but will
soon become the norm, he predicted."

The Wall Street Journal article made a similar

Paul Keenan, chief of police in Quincy, Mass., said his
detectives have been using it for months alongside traditional
drug-testing kits.

"It's cop-proof. It's rugged, dependable and easy to use," said
Chief Keenan. He compared the potential impact of the device to
breath analyzers used on suspected drunken drivers, which allow
street cops to produce data routinely accepted in court.
Breathalyzers have led to a greater percentage of guilty pleas and
fewer trials in drunken-driving cases, reducing police and court
costs, he said.

That Breathalyzer comparison may not be the endorsement those
officers think it is. Professor David J, Hanson of the State
University of New York - Potsdam points out that the broad range of
devices generically called "breathalyzers" have proven less
completely accurate than originally hoped

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has
found that dieters and diabetics can have acetone levels hundreds
and even thousand of times higher than that in others. Acetone is
one of the many substances that can be falsely identified as ethyl
alcohol by some breath machines.

One investigator has reported that alcohol-free subjects can
generate BAC readings of about .05 after eating various types of
bread products.

Substances in the environment can also lead to false BAC
readings. For example, an alcohol-free subject was asked to apply a
pint of contact cement to a piece of plywood and then to apply a
gallon of oil-base paint to a wall. The total activity lasted about
an hour. Twenty minutes later the subject was tested on an
Intoxilyzer, which registered a BAC of .12 percent. This level is
50% higher than a BAC of .08, which constitutes legal intoxication
in many states.

A 2007 report prepared for the New Jersey Supreme Court found
that at least one type of breath-analysis device was unreliable
if used improperly
. Last year, an Ohio judge said the
machines can be gamed by police
who want to guarantee a reading
over the limit and may be subject to interference from cell

Sure enough, the Wall Street Journal found some doubts
about the unimpeachability of TruNarc, even among its fans:

Joseph Bozenko, a clandestine-laboratory coordinator for the
Drug Enforcement Administration, uses a Raman-spectroscopy device
in drug labs around the world. He said the newer versions of the
technology are getting "rave reviews'' from his colleagues in the
field, but cautioned that the issue is more complicated than just
shrinking lab equipment to a portable size and using it in the
street or police station."That technology is in no way a substitute
for full routine analysis and a certified laboratory setting," said
Mr. Bozenko. "I would not go to court based on a test I ran in a
clandestine laboratory in the middle of a mountain crime

Other experts say it is risky to put lab technology in the hands
of law-enforcement officers without a background in science.

And note that TruNarc is being sold as non-intrusive and easy to
use — just point and click. As the price per unit comes down, the
urge to point and click a lot is likely to become

Again, taking drug prohibition as a given, for now, TruNarc may
well be an improvement over current drug field tests, if used under
the same circumstances and if it is less likely to deliver false
positives on perfectly legal substances. But if police and its
manufacturers continue to peddle it as an infallible cure-all
that's "rugged, dependable and easy to use" — just like the
breathalyzer! — then we're almost certain to get at least
breathalyzer-style problems once it's adopted. (HT Groovus