9/11 Conspiracy Theories Go Mainstream

9/11 Charlie Sheen CNN poll

I’m bound to catch some flak from certain quarters for giving this the time of day since it’s been one of our policies here that conspiracy theories are largely a waste of time, but when flippin’ New York Mag devotes a 9-page expose on the topic of 9/11 conspiracies… well, something has to give. And on top of that, the poll above is from none other than CNN (which was spawned by Charlie Sheen’s comments on Alex Jones’s conspiracy-driven radio show).

So let’s get out our tin-foil hats and give it the time of day, because in my opinion, 9/11 conspiracy theory just came back into focus:

In his paper “What Is Your ‘HOP’ Level?” Nick Levis, who co-coordinates the N.Y. 9/11 Truth meetings with Father Morales and Les Jamieson, categorizes the basic narrative theories about September 11. The options essentially boil down to four.

(A) The Official Story (a.k.a. “The Official Conspiracy Theory”). The received Bushian line: Osama, nineteen freedom-haters with box cutters, etc. As White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said, there was “no warning.”

(B) The Incompetence Theory (also the Stupidity, Arrogance, “Reno Wall” Theory). Accepts the Official Story, adds failure by the White House, FBI, CIA, NSA, etc. to heed ample warnings. This line was advanced, with much ass-covering compensation, in The 9/11 Commission Report.

(C) LIHOP (or “Let It Happen on Purpose”). Many variations, but primarily that elements of the U.S. government and the private sector were aware of the hijackers’ plans and, recognizing that 9/11 suited their policy goals, did nothing to stop it.

(D) MIHOP (“Made It Happen on Purpose”). The U.S. government or private forces planned and executed the attacks.

Personally, I’m in the Incompetence Theory crowd, while occasionally dipping a toe into the LIHOP mindset when certain questions arise (What happened to the investigation into all the pre 9/11 short-sell stock orders? Why were top brass warned not to fly? Etcetera, etcetera). But my own compass keeps swinging back to current events as we have to ask the hard questions about competence and we watch as this administration so effortlessly fucks up everything it touches.

But for those of you on the outskirts of the MIHOP crowd… take to heart that you have sympathetic ears amongst the most rigidly pro-official-story folk:

“Not answering that,” he said, warning not to ask others in the company, which had lost men on 9/11. This didn’t mean he wasn’t of the opinion that if he lived to be a million he’d never “see anything as corrupt, bullshit, and sad as what happened at the WTC.”

[…] Still, the fireman said, if he had to pick a letter in my poll, it would be A.

“Osama fucking bin Laden, like Bush says. If I thought it was someone else, then I’d have to do something about it. And I don’t want to think about what I’d do.”

Read the whole thing, it’s actually a very good piece. And then feel free to conspiracize your little hearts out in the comments…

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GOP Victory Plan

Note: this article contains dead links, the url is still in the hover/alt text. Keep the web working, curate content well!

There has been much ado about losses the Republican Party is expected to take this upcoming election cycle. There is one angle which the GOP could take with which they’d be likely to continue to control both houses of congress: Changing their position on the drug war. It seems unlikely that the GOP would lose many votes over this issue, but they’d gain a lot of independent, libertarian, and even Democratic support.

John Stossel is a favorite of right-wingers who still believe the Republican Party is the more conservative of the two major parties. He just posted an article at conservative TownHall.com renouncing his former views on the drug war. From the article:

Getting high can be bad. Putting people in prison for it is worse. And doing the latter doesn’t stop the former.

I was once among the majority who believe that drug use must be illegal. But then I noticed that when vice laws conflict with the law of supply and demand, the conflict is ugly, and the law of supply and demand generally wins.

The drug war costs taxpayers about $40 billion. “Up to three quarters of our budget can somehow be traced back to fighting this war on drugs,” said Jerry Oliver, then chief of police in Detroit, told me. Yet the drugs are as available as ever.

While I doubt I could ever be a Republican again (no matter how libertarian their positions might become, they’ve repeatedly violated my trust), comments about the Stossel article indicate that a lot of Republicans don’t agree with the war on drug users. Here’s a sampling:

I think you don’t go far enough in your article. If we decriminalise drugs, we can divert a mere portion of the $40 billion into rehabilitation of drug dependant users and also into education of its consequences.

Two important comments I feel should always be added into the killing the war on drugs and making them legal. They are: employers do not have to hire you if you choose to use these drugs, and we must also do away with any social programs that entail addicts or recovering addicts to government money. With the addition of these two items you have a completely fool proof method of helping people understand why they should or should not do them and what happens when they do.

Thanks to Mr. Stossel for a well reasoned piece. I dislike addictive drugs (incl. alcohol and nicotine) as much as anyone, but harsh penalties only compound the problem.

John, I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been saying this for years. Nobody wants a bunch of “stoners” in our country, yet despite our best efforts we still have them; and always will.

I agree. Life sentences in Michigan for distribution sure didn’t work. Teaching kids about drugs (DARE program) has a negligible to negative effect on drug use, but it makes parents, teachers, and politicians feel better.

There are also these sorts of folks in the conservative movement:

I just think that the argument is the same. If its legal, it must be A-OK.

the solution to the problem is the death penalty for possession for distribution, involuntary sterilization for repated recreational and habitiual drug use, and wholesale agricultural destruction of the crops. Recreational drug users should be disqualified from any and all governmental assistance and drug use by parents should result in the permanent relocation of the dependent children

Surrendering a war because the tactics are not working is irresponsible. Clearly the problem is that the country is lax on the deterrent. Make the deterrent high enough and it can absolutely be controlled.

Offer treatment for first-time convicted users, and give the death penalty for repeat offenders. For those dealers who peddle death to our kids and adults the punishment could be enhanced. Give treatment and a one year prison sentence to small time dealers who plea bargain by giving up the name of their supplier. Repeat offenders and those up the supply chain should be sentenced to death.

After considering that most Republicans in Congress favor the continued death and suffering of medical marijuana patients coupled to these calls for the death penalty for recreational use, I retract my earlier statement. There is no hope for the GOP. With extremist views (and they call us extremists?) such as these, there can be no hope for the Republican Party. I say we flush the GOP down the toilet so they may wallow in their own political excrement.

Props.

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Raves Don’t Kill People, People Do

I don’t know much about the mayor in question, but he showed a lot of common sense with his statement about raves in Seattle:

Despite seven violent deaths last weekend, the mayor and other city leaders have a reassuring message for the youths who love the all-night music and dancing of the “rave” party scene: Rave on.

Kyle Huff, 28, fatally shot six people and himself Saturday at an early-morning house party after a zombie-themed rave at a performing arts center. It was Seattle’s worst crime since 1983, when 13 people were killed at a Chinatown gambling club. And it was the first such incident to mar the Pacific Northwest’s rave culture, where partygoers and police have had an accord that some other U.S. localities haven’t matched.

As a police task force continues searching for a motive for Huff’s rampage, Mayor Greg Nickels told a community meeting Tuesday that the loud, pulsating electronic music featured at rave dances is “not a threat to us.”

He started off really well, but blew it a bit on this line:

“We don’t know why he picked these particular victims,” Nickels told the group. “We do know that this incident was not caused by music – a particular kind of music. It was caused by a disturbed individual who chose to take out his anger or rage on other human beings. As a society, we have got to come to grips with this infatuation that we have with guns.”

Perhaps Mayor Nickels could apply the same logic to guns that he did to raves and music.

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Various Local Takes on TABC Arrests

The letters section of the Dallas Morning News covered a wide range of views on the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s operation to preemptively arrest drunk drivers. Here are some local responses to the issue:

The common sense view:

Backwater Barney Fifes turn Texas into a joke

What am I missing here? Operation Last Call is supposed to eliminate or reduce drunken drivers by issuing citations before they leave the bar, if, in the “opinion” of the agent, the perpetrator “seems” drunk?

By that logic, we can remove all, or most, murderers from our streets by perusing the gun registry, since murderers usually use such weapons.

I’m not certain how such citations are even constitutional, but I’m willing to bet most people just pay the fine and get the hell out of Texas, making our state the butt of more jokes.

I think a more appropriate term for this recent activity would be “revenue enhancement by swaggering, tin-horn, backwater Barney Fifes.”

Mike Nielson, Dallas

The MADD view:

My family’s experience tells me TABC is right

Re: “TABC stakes out bars in intoxication sting — Effort goes too far, say 2 jailed for drinking and sitting in Irving; officials stand by law,” Friday news story.

I am a nondrinker who has never patronized a bar and who is fully aware of the association between alcohol and crime.

In addition, my aunt and cousin are dead and my uncle is quadriplegic as a result of a drunken driver. Therefore, I find it very difficult not to applaud any effort to reduce public intoxication.

Kathy Ortiz, Richardson

The liberal view:

Here’s a state agency that could use funding …

Re: “Woman opened the door to her son’s killer,” by Jacquielynn Floyd, Tuesday Metro, on the tragic death of 2-year-old Chase Chamberlain.

There was a story in the previous Saturday’s Dallas Morning News about how horribly underfunded Child Protective Services is. On the page opposite this appeared coverage about Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents run amok and proud of it.

Maybe funding being squandered by TABC would be better spent with CPS.

David Newell, Euless

The conservative view:

… and here’s another real problem to fix

Re: “Bar arrests elicit outrage — Public floods TABC with e-mails; legislators to review program,” Saturday news story.

How ironic and frustrating that we can come up with 100 additional officers to enforce public intoxication laws, yet we can’t find any additional agents to enforce our immigration laws, especially here in Texas.

Don Pinkos, Plano

While it’s a repeat, it’s still my favorite:

I’ll be fucked by a rabid wombat! Youse cunts won’t even let a guy get drunk anymore? Christ on a shaslick stick, what the fuck was The Alamo about? Guess who will NEVER spend tourism dollars in your (police) State? Me, ya fuckin’ wankers. GreginOz. And P fuckin’ S, since I am in Australia – get a bristly Brahman bull up yer arse, bristles backwards, you sanctimonius butt fuckers.

GregInOz

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Stop the ACLU Needs to be Stopped

WARNING: This post contains a suspected malware URL listed on Google’s list of malware sites. The URL is: http://www.stoptheaclu.com/2006/03/28/aclu-teaching-children-how-to-be-good-criminals/ – More info available at Google Safe Browsing diagnostic page.

Flex Your Rights, the people behind the popular (in student and libertarian circles, at least) DVD Busted, was just mistaken for being the ACLU. This article was the source for the bad information provided. Flex Your Right’s response is here. While Stop the ACLU retracted the portion about Busted being an ACLU film, their commentary on the general topic is pretty scary.

Now, here is where I really started having a problem:

The video also showed a segment where a young woman hosting a party got herself into a world of trouble when a guest allowed police to enter her home and find drug paraphernalia.

According to the ACLU video, however, “getting busted is no party.”

They suggested a number of ways the young woman in the video, and viewers, could protect herself from a police violation of her rights. The ACLU recommended that partiers:

– Know who is at the party and what they are doing.

– Keep paraphernalia and other illegal articles out of view of police.

Lets stop right there for a moment. Notice that the ACLU did not suggest the best method to keep out of trouble at a party; obeying the law. Instead they told the kids to keep their drug paraphernailia well hidden, in essense not only condoning the criminal activity of possessing it, but also of concealing it. They go on to even offer suggestions on how to do so.

If the law is unjust, why the hell should it be obeyed? Would Stop the ACLU have supported Jim Crow laws merely because it was the law? Would they have supported the internment of the Japanese because it’s the law? If the police pick you as a random target for a beating (or shoving a nightstick up your ass), don’t resist. After all, they are the law.

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Traffic Ticketed: Not a Fan of Bush “Informal Terminology”?

BUSHITAn Athens, Georgia woman received a traffic ticket estimated at $100 for displaying what an officer called “a lewd decal” when she was pulled over for having a bumper sticker that read “I’m tired of all the BUSHIT.” From Sploid:

The ticket is for $100 and under “offense” it says “Lewd decals.”

Georgia’s Supreme Court struck down a “lewd bumper sticker” law in 1991, after a defendant with a “Shit Happens” bumper sticker took the their case to court.

Even so, the DeKalb County Police Department had nothing to say about Grier’s ticket.

“We don’t comment on other officers’ tickets,” says Officer Herschel Grangent, who handles media affairs. “That officer is making his decision on the street. And it’s going through legal channels now.”

While I won’t bother to take sides on the the whole demonization of Bush thing that’s bound to come of this in the comments, I do want to point this out to our Bush apologist folks as an example of real curtailing and intimidation of freedom of speech that they proclaim that protestors have every right to. If anything, I would hope some right-wingers will see the hypocritical humor in all of this.

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…when they came for the gunowners, there was no one left to speak out.

Tom DeLay had his concealed carry permit rescinded because of his indictment. From Reuters:

Rep. Tom DeLay, once one of the most powerful figures in the U.S. Congress, wants his right to pack a pistol restored after the state of Texas revoked his permit following his indictment last year.

The former House Majority Leader’s licence to carry a concealed handgun was taken away after he was indicted on campaign finance charges, but he has appealed the revocation, DeLay spokeswoman Shannon Flaherty said on Tuesday.

She would not say whether DeLay, a “gun rights” advocate who spoke last year at the National Rifle Association annual convention in Houston, carries a gun.

“That’s the point of having a CHL (concealed handgun licence) in Texas — potential criminals should assume everyone is (carrying),” Flaherty said in an email.

Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said she could not disclose how long DeLay has had the gun permit, but that state law dictates it be revoked upon indictment on felony charges.

Normally, I’d be more than willing to stand up for DeLay’s constitutional rights. Considering DeLay’s actions which curtailed our constitutional rights on issues ranging from medical marijuana to the Patriot Act, I’m not at all sympethetic. Perhaps DeLay (and his Republican cronies) should read the famous Niemöller quotation from time to time.

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Former FEMA Head Michael Brown on Colbert Report

Michael Brown on Colbert ReportFor anyone who missed last night’s episode of the Colbert Report, Stephen has as a guest FEMA’s disgraced Michael Brown (link to torrent, interview starts at 13:20). I expected this douchebag to remain unapologetic and to keep up the spin that he was obviously competent, but just lacked the funds (right, because lack of money was why $100 million in ice was trucked all over the country). What I didn’t expect is how smug and smarmy this guy is in front of a camera, it’s baffling that he can just walk around saying he did his “dangdest” but boohoo for all them people because it’s someone else’s fault (the buck stops where?).

From the interview:

Stephen Colbert: Who is the person to blame? Because we have to blame one person. [audience laughter] Right? One person’s head has gotta roll… and yours won’t seem to lop off. [audience laughter] So… who is the one person we should blame? Do you blame Chertoff?
Michael Brown: I’d like to!
Colbert: Go ahead, let’s do it right here on this show.
Brown: Sure!
Colbert: Okay?! Well, why? Why is it Homeland Security’s problem?
Brown: Because Homeland Security has become too much of a bureaucracy, it’s too big, it’s not nimble, it can’t move fast enough. FEMA’s only 25 hundred people, we can move on a dime. [snaps fingers]
Colbert: And what dime were you standing on during the hurricane? [audience laughter]

And when pressed on his laughable credentials and cronyism:

Colbert: You were called a political crony… okay? Were you a political crony? [audience laughter] Crony just means friend, by the way.
Brown: Right, and I was a political appointee. So if an appointee is the same as a crony then i guess I was. But I went through the confirmation process, was approved by the Senate, um… had the experience for the job. [audience laughter] And just because my friend happened to be a friend of the president’s shouldn’t make me a crony.
Colbert: Now this experience for the job, are you talking about the horses? [audience laughter]
Brown: Well actually… yes.
Colbert: You are!
Brown: Yes.
Colbert: Horses can be a handful, right?
Brown: Horses asses can be an absolute handful, and that got me ready to work for Washington, work in Washington D.C.
Colbert: You got that criticism that you, ya know head of this Arabian Horse Guild or whatever it was called and now you’re running FEMA. Is that the truth?
Brown: That is the truth.
Colbert: So that’s your experience?
Brown: No that was just part of my experience. I have a 30-year career in public service. Part of which was serving for state and local governments doing emergency operation plans, building emergency operation centers and then serving as a lawyer for the Arabian Horse Association and then I came into FEMA as the attorney for FEMA. And then I worked my way up through the organization. The American way.

Brown’s “American way” must be to bullshit your way through life and take no responsibility for your failures later. I’m surprised Colbert didn’t call him on his bullshit straight to his face, as the interview is relatively tame and cordial.

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ATF Kids Drawings: “Put Down the Super-Soaker and Step Away From the Burning Church, Scumbag Branch Davidian”

Put Down the Super-Soaker and Step Away From the Burning Church, Scumbag Branch Davidian

I’m pretty sure we’re behind the curve on posting a link to the ATF (or BATFE, if you prefer) Kids drawings depicting what they think mommy and daddy do at work, but I can give you a hint that most kids aren’t all that interested in the alcohol or tobacco (some take a liking to the bureaucracy part).

Wonkette has some of the better ones on display, but the deafening silence is coming from another quarter… where the hell are the Something Awful forum goons when you need them? Maybe I’m just not looking hard enough?

In their void, perhaps some of our own witty commenters can provide captions for some of these great masterpieces of youthful government-warped minds. The playground is open… just hyperlink to your cartoon of choice in the comments with your own made-up caption.

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National Disgrace: Punishing Non-Plea Bargainers

kangaroo courtRadley Balko points out an interesting report in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on a national rise of out-of-control prosecutors dumping charges upon charges on defendents in order to overwhelm them into plea bargains:

Nationally, for fiscal year 2004, 95.5 percent of the 51,666 convictions were reached through guilty pleas. That means that only 2,316 U.S. District Court cases across the country went to trial.

In the Western District of Pennsylvania, the percentage was just a bit lower. Of the 261 convictions that year, 94.3 percent were reached through pleas.

Mr. Kramer, who now teaches at Penn State University, believes the American court system has been acclimated to processing guilty pleas.

“We’ve created a barrier to any potential increase in jury trials,” he said. “If all of a sudden we had a 20 percent increase, it would be tremendously burdensome on the court system to accommodate those.”

[…]

“It’s a perfectly laughable system,” he said. “The prosecutors love it. The message is any sane defendant, guilty or innocent, ought to do the prosecutor’s bidding.”

To supplement this article, I found an older PBS interview with Yale professor of law and legal history John Langbein who puts it succinctly:

What is wrong with the plea bargain system in our courts today?

Plea bargaining is a system that is best described as one of condemnation without adjudication. It is a system that replaces trial, which is what our constitution intended, with deals.

Second, those deals are coerced. The prosecutor is basically forcing people to waive their rights to jury trial by threatening them with ever greater sanctions if they refuse to plead and instead demand the right to jury trial.

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Getting Satired with Style

How do you know when you’re making a difference in politics? When they start setting up satire sites about you. A bunch of them, in this case. Some mystery person just did that to Joel Montgomery (one of my recent candidates) and we wondered just who was behind it. Then we found they’d started sites for at least three (Valerie “Drabley” Abbott, Carol “Corporate Welfare” Reynolds, and Roderick “the Twerp” Royal“) more of the nine Birmingham City councilors.

They were pretty nice to me, providing only some bio information (so far):

Stephen Gordon – Political consultant, blogger, former employee of Ross Perot and Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Alabama; in his own words, Stephen Gordon’s “expertise was crucial in the re-election of Joel Montgomery to the City Council in Birmingham, AL.” Apparently, he also enjoys smoking the occasional cigar.

To be clear, those weren’t my words (I think Thomas Knapp did the latest edit of that bio which started years ago — and I won’t write my own bio) but it’s generally correct. Their cigar picture was certainly more flattering than this one.

For the record, any insinuation that I had anything to do with evil cigar lobby money is entirely innacurate. The only smokers’ rights group with which I’m affiliated is The Smoker’s Club . I’ll add that I would have taken the money, though — especially after they outlawed private property rights in Birmingham with a freakin’ smoking ban for restaurants.

Aside from mild jabs for Montgomery’s vote opposing the smoking ban, the mystery satirist seems pretty freedom-oriented, so far. The section on Pinky and the Brain jabs Carol Reynolds for her support of corporate welfare/eminent domain Wal-Mart deals — which Montgomery fought hard, but lost.

In our local version, we’ll risk of being accused of typecasting and let Carol Reynolds (aka “Carol Corporate Welfare Queen) play the role of Pinky. As for the Brain, our favorite “Movie Villain” is perfect for the part–aside from the whole “genius” thing, that is.

Here’s a brief scene taken from our screenplay:

INTERIOR – COUNCIL CHAMBER – DAY
Brain: Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?
Pinky: I think so, Brain, but how can we give Wal-Mart a $10 million tax break and move them from your district to mine?
Brain: We will disguise ourselves as a cow.
Pinky: Narf! That was it *exactly*.
Brain: Moo. We are a cow. Take us to China.

Despite the history behind calling Royal a twerp, a lot of us (sometimes) affectionately refer to him as Urkel. He asked for my support on his first run for city council, and I (reluctantly) provided it. I stayed out of that picture during his latest race.

Unlike some cities, Birmingham (at least in certain districts on certain election dates) is one in which Libertarian support can make you or make and then break you (if you screw up — like Johnson did). About Johnson, Mark Bodenhausen once said, “We brought him in, regretted it, so we took him out.”

Ironically, Bill Johnson (of Alabama, for the most part) is the person who convinced Thomas Knapp (who lives near St. Louis) to join the Libertarian Party.

While cracking on Valerie Abbott, I hope they’ll explore to see if there’s some connection between the timing of her votes on Wal-Mart deals and disproportionate funding for parks in Abbott’s district (where I have an office and my “city apartment”, BTW). Disclaimer: She did show at a charity fundraiser (Children’s Hospital) Libertarians held in one of those parks. Additionally, the rumors that I changed my voter registration from my house to my apartment in order to take Abbott’s slot on the City Council simply aren’t accurate. She’s much more talented at wasting taxpayer money than I could ever be.

They picked on Carol Reynolds for her support of corporate welfare — specifically $21 million to Wal-Mart in two separate deals. She received significant libertarian support in her first run for city council, but we all worked against her during her re-election bid — mostly due to the way she now wields eminent domain as her sword and corporate welfare as her shield.

From her particular home page:

“Let them eat cake.” — Marie Antoinette

Without a doubt, the once and future Queen of corporate welfare handouts in Birmingham, Alabama is Carol Reynolds.

It gets even better. There are two other sites out there that we’ve found so far. First of all there’s the UnCivilCouncil site, where they correctly poke fun at how rudely city counselors treat citizens, as well as each other. Better yet, the Birmingham Department of Corporate Welfare is an absolute hoot, so far. To be fair to Montgomery, he just voted against giving the Drug Enforcement Agency a tax break for their new building in town — a key fact omitted on the site.

After the eight Councilors present–Joel Montgomery was absent with an illness [he truly was; he looked near death at my place — and gave his crud to my wife and me] –voted unanimously to approve the [Wal-Mart corporate welfare] deal, Carol Reynolds bolted from the dais and ran into the hallway outside the Council chambers, where she proceeded to giddily dance and jump around like an eigth-grade school girl who has just been asked on a date by her latest crush.

In addition to the additional information likely to be provided, I’ll be awaiting the sites for the other five counselors, as well as any additional sites he/she/they dream up. Matter of fact, I’ve got a site I can’t keep up with which I just redirected to my favorite of theirs(?). I’m not yet sure who’s behind this series of websites, but if you’ll pop me an e-mail, I’d love to buy you/y’all a drink (and perhaps some new leads for your sites). Anyplace but Bubba’s Pub, though — that place just ain’t my style.

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New Libertarian Publication in Gotham

Note: this article contains dead links, the url is still in the hover/alt text. Keep the web working, curate content well!

From The NY Sun:

At the height of the political races last summer, the libertarian candidates weren’t getting much press in the daily newspapers in New York. So Jim Lesczynski and the Manhattan Libertarian Party created their own publication, Serf City.

The title is a pun on a Beach Boys song, but also symbolizes the state of affairs in New York City, Mr. Lesczynski said.

“It says “serf” because the government thinks of us citizens as serfs,” he said. “They tax and regulate, running their little feudal system, with Bloomberg as our lord.”

I know Jim well enough to suspect that the content’s pretty hard core libertarian. I’d love to get my hands on a copy.

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Casper Weinberger and Lyn Nofziger, RIP

From the NY Times:

Lyn Nofziger, the cigar-chomping former newspaperman who served as spokesman and strategist for Ronald Reagan in Sacramento and Washington, died of cancer on Monday at his home in Falls Church, Va. He was 81.

From Nofziger’s website:

I served in Ronald Reagan’s governor’s office and White House and in Richard Nixon’s White House. I have run and participated in numerous political campaigns, including five for president, and have won some and lost some. Once I even worked at the Republican National Committee.

I am a Republican because I believe that freedom is more important than government-provided security. Sometimes I wish I were a Democrat because Democrats seem to have more fun. At other times I wish I were a Libertarian because Republicans are too much like Democrats.

What I actually am is a right-wing independent who is registered Republican because there isn’t any place else to go. In the future I expect to be critical of both parties and their leadership and a lot of other people and things, too.

Casper Weinberger died, as well. From VOA:

Casper Weinberger, who served as defense secretary under President Ronald Reagan, has died at the age of 88.

His family said he died from pneumonia early Tuesday morning in the town of Bangor, Maine.

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Best Comment I’ve Seen on the TABC Issue

Most of us must be freakin’ wimps. Frequent HoT commenter GreginOz hit the nail smack-dab middle of the bloody head (hopefully with our hammer) with his take on how the goose-stepping goons in Texas are effectively trying to outlaw pubs, taverns, and other fun places that serve alcohol:

I’ll be fucked by a rabid wombat! Youse cunts won’t even let a guy get drunk anymore? Christ on a shaslick stick, what the fuck was The Alamo about? Guess who will NEVER spend tourism dollars in your (police) State? Me, ya fuckin’ wankers. GreginOz. And P fuckin’ S, since I am in Australia – get a bristly Brahman bull up yer arse, bristles backwards, you sanctimonius butt fuckers.

Greg, you put us all to shame, dude!

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Drug Prohibition, Alice in Wonderland, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons

Rolf Lindgren e-mailed the following to us. I haven’t fact-checked all of his claims (and some would be incredibly difficult to check out), but his perspective on Federal prisons and the War on Drug Users (and some who don’t even use drugs) is a must read merely for the satirical and literary value. I’ve left his original e-mail unedited and merely performed a cut-and-paste to post his content. Disclaimer: This article by Rolf Lindgren expresses opinions of his own — which are not neccessarily (but most of them are) entertained by HammerOfTruth.com.

an eyewitness account by Rolf Lindgren

Alcohol Prohibition raged from 1920 to 1933 and the national murder rate increased all 13 years. Then when Prohibition was ended, the murder rate decreased the next 9 consecutive years. This alone convinces me Prohibition is bad public policy, though I didn’t live during that time. Now we have the New Prohibition, Drug Prohibition, along with increased crime again. Drug Prohibition is bad public policy and I know this not only because I’ve read the statistics. I know this because I’m a statistic.

Note – Unlike Alcohol Prohibition, there has never been a Constitutional amendment to legalize Drug Prohibition.

On July 3, 1990, I was snared in what I soon learned was a new type of crime that hadn’t existed in all annals of human history from 3000 BC until our generation, the reverse-sting drug crime. Reverse-sting crimes are created when undercover government agents push drugs. It’s an intent crime. If you show your intent with even the slightest act of agreement, you’re guilty. Reverse-sting crimes remind me of thoughtcrimes in George Orwell’s 1984 or of Christmas presents; It’s the thought that counts! In my case, an undercover college student named Nick Hare called me on the phone 10 times offering drugs. Nick knew I was young, naive and financially unstable. He also was facing a prison sentence and had a deal where for every 5 years prison he could induce someone else to receive, he’d get a year reduction in his sentence. This doesn’t meet John Stuart Mill’s criteria for Utility. Not once did I call back. However, being an entrepreneurial person in a capitalist country who believes crimes have victims, I foolishly agreed to borrow money and meet Nick and his “friend” David Matthews. I went to the Fairfield Inn on the Madison east side with $10,750 in a Hardees cup. No drugs were present and no agreement was reached, but police still swarmed into the room, robbed me and put me in handcuffs. They said I was facing 5 years prison for attempting to buy drugs. I said, “I thought you were attempting to sell them!” Nick told undercover agent Matthews I was “a gift from God”. While in jail other inmates drank alcohol and took LSD and I met a murderer who protested the Vietnam War by robbing 43 banks.

At my first court appearance, Magistrate James Groh didn’t violate my Constitutional right and give me unreasonable bail, he didn’t give me any bail. Fortunately Judge Barbara Crabb overturned the decision and set bail at $100,000 for a nonviolent first offense. When home the first thing I saw in the paper was a murder suspect with $10,000 bail. I had to hire a Notary to watch me 24 hours a day. I was ordered to find a new job, but the magistrate wouldn’t let me go to an insurance interview. The magistrate wouldn’t let me substitute a private lawyer for a public pretender. I was subjected to body cavity searches and urinalysis drug tests each week. I’ve passed 65 drug tests. God forbid what would’ve happened had I ever failed one. To justify Drug Prohibition psychologists, police and probation officers constantly asked me if I had a drug problem. I replied “No.” They continued to ask if I had a problem. I answered “Well yes, I’ve just been arrested.” They would not let up and said “Mr. Lindgren, have you ever heard of denial?” I retorted “Yes. Denial is a river in Egypt!” Rather than create 5-year reverse-sting crimes for others I reluctantly plead guilty and prepared to spend 5 years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). see more…

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Shameless Self-Promotion

I’ll be speaking at three Libertarian Party state conventions in April. I consider myself honored to be sharing the podium with people like former congressman Bob Barr, Sharon Harris of the Advocates for Self Government, Vice Admiral (retired) Michael Colley, Dr. Gerald Schneider, LNC Chair Michael Dixon, LNC Vice Chair R. Lee Wrights, Dade County GA County Executive Ben Brandon (who defeated his GOP opponent by a 2-1 margin), Jeff Edgens of the Irwinton GA City Council, Dr. Lawrence Egbert of the Maryland ACLU, LP Chief of Staff Shane Cory, Russ Diamond of PACleanSweep, Rep. Randy Hinshaw of the Alabama legislature and Thomas Firey of CATO and MPPI.

Bob Johnston indicated that the Maryland crowd was interested in my inside perspective of the 2004 presidential race and wanted my insight about running effective political campaigns. Thomas Knapp artfully combined the two issues and wrote most of the material I’ll be presenting. Hopefully, I’ll do his work some justice at all three April events. I’ll be the dinner speaker in Baltimore and speaking around lunch time in Montgomery and Atlanta.

Additionally, I was invited to speak at the Wisconsin LP Convention, but had to decline due the scheduling conflict with the Alabama LP. I thought I’d give them the plug because they were nice enough to invite me. I’ll likely be speaking in some function for the Badnarik campaign at the Texas Libertarian Party convention, too. We’re working out the details at this moment. Of course, I’ve threatened not to take this trip if the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission doesn’t back down. After all, drinking and politics go hand in hand.

Here are the links for all five conventions:

April 1, 2006 Baltimore (Dundalk), Maryland
April 8, 2006 Montgomery, Alabama
April 8, 2006 Madison, Wisconsin
April 22, 2006 Atlanta, Georgia
June 10, 2006 Houston, Texas

Hopefully, I’ll see some of you at one or more of these upcoming events.

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Would-Be Rapist Takes It in the Balls

It looks like she has more balls than the man who allegedly tried to rape her:

A 14-year-old girl told Toledo police she was abducted Tuesday by a man with a gun but got away with help from a hammer.

Police said the quick-thinking teen found it in the man’s car and used it to hit him in the groin.

According to police, the man forced the girl into his car while she was walking to her school bus stop and said he wanted sex. So, she told him she had dropped her ring in the car and went searching for it. That’s when she felt the hammer under her seat.

I’m just waiting on the social do-gooders to start requiring licensing and waiting periods for hammer purchases. After all, there isn’t even a constitutional protection for the right to keep and bear hammers.

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Texas Gets it Right…Sort of

It’s not often that a government agency gets something right. But in the interest of fairness, we like to point out such anomalies.

The Official Site of Texas Tourism, TravelTex.com really smacked the nail squarely with their slogan Texas: It’s like a whole other country.

Unfortunately for Texans, the list of other countries Texas is like includes Belarus, Cuba, North Korea and Zimbabwe. Actually, the recent actions of TABC may be insulting to the libertarian-by-contrast nature of those countries. Typical tyrannies don’t use a pretense of concern for their subject’s safety, they rule them for the sake of order and obedience.

It would seem as though the state of Texas would “need” increased revenue from tourism to offset the self-imposed loss they are doubtlessly suffering after a de facto criminalization of drinking establishments. While the iron is HoT, it would be a great time to contact the office of Economic Development and Tourism (operating under the Office of the Governor) and explain exactly why you won’t be visiting Texas. Those on a budget may choose to explain that while you enjoy a drink from time to time, you can’t afford to pay for a vacation and a bail bondsman.

A flood of canceled vacation explanations on the heels of the flurry of complaints HoT previously covered might fast track these goons back to a desk job in Austin.

From the TravelTex.com site:

If you find an error or want to provide feedback on TravelTex.com, we’d love to hear from you. To share your comments, please complete the form below. We review all comments and appreciate your interest in Texas Tourism; however, due to high volumes we cannot respond to emails.

Let’s show them some all time “high volumes!”

The Governor’s website also lists, in addition to a lot of tripe about the state’s “unique spirit” and “opportunity,” a Citizen’s Opinion Hotline number: 800-252-9600. Happy dialing.

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Overloading the National Debt Clock

From MET via Sploid:

The national debt clock, as it is known, is a big clock. A spot-check last week showed a readout of $8.3 trillion – or more precisely $8,310,200,545,702 – and counting.

But it is not big enough.

Sometime in the next two years, the total amount of US government borrowing is going to break through the $10-trillion mark and, lacking space for the extra digit that such a figure would require, the clock is in danger of running itself into obsolescence.

The clock’s owner, real estate developer Douglas Durst, knew such a problem could arise but had not counted on it so soon.

According to the article, Durst plans to upgrade the clock to accomodate our greater level of debt:

“When it became clear what was going to happen, our first thought was to free up the digital square occupied by the dollar sign so that we could cope with a 14th digit,” Durst said.

The latest plan is for yet another replacement, involving a larger scale signboard.

“We’re not happy at the impact we’re making with this one,” he said.

Durst insists that the clock is non-partisan in its effort to shame the federal government over what he sees as its willingness to gamble away the nation’s future.

“We’re a family business,” Durst said. “We think generationally, and we don’t want to see the next generation crippled by this burden,” he said. Last week the “family share” readout on the clock stood some loose change short of $90,000.

I’ve got a better idea. Instead of upgrading the clock, let’s pass legislation forcing the federal government to cease operations whenever they’ve bumped our future (and the future of our children) over 13 digits long.

It’s also interesting to note that Sploid had to go to a Libertarian website to get a live debt clock link. I guess that’s because the Republicans and Democrats are more concerned with spending your money than in finding some immediate and meaningful solutions to our runaway debt.

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Students Prevail in Lawsuit Against Dept. of Education

Here’s a press release worth passing on…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 27, 2006
CONTACT: Tom Angell — (202) 293-4414 or tom@ssdp.org Adina Rosenbaum — (202) 588-7720 or arosenbaum@citizen.org

Students Prevail in Lawsuit Against Dept. of Education

Government Surrenders Data on Drug Law to Avoid Court Battle

WASHINGTON, DC — After being sued by one of the nation’s largest student organizations, the U.S. Department of Education has agreed to waive a hefty fee and turn over data on the effects of a law that strips financial aid from college students with drug convictions. The group, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), submitted a Freedom of Information Act request more than a year ago seeking a simple state-by-state breakdown of the number of people denied aid due to the law. Nearly 200,000 have been affected nationwide. see more…

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Working Together Towards Common Goals

Conventional libertarian wisdom provides that the Dallas Accord created a temporary alliance within the movement — until such time as we actually have a small and limited government once again. One look at the comments on a posting with which libertarians of all stripes and shades should agree upon clearly indicates we are spending more of out time fighting with each other than in fighting an ever expansive and tyrannical government.

I’ve got an idea. I’m going to create two posts. This one will be dedicated to commentary where we can try to find positive ways to work with one another. The one below be where y’all can fight it out to the bitter end. I’m sure I know which will have more comments.

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Libertarian Flame Wars

OK, libertarians, duke it out here. If you tire of fighting over anarchism v. minarchism, there’s a host of other divisions to fight about here.

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TABC: “Nazi, Taliban, Gestapo”

We asked you to send your complaints to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for their preemptive arrests of drunk drivers and related usurpations of our rights. Apparently, it’s beginning to work. From NBC5:

“I’m getting all those same e-mails, the Nazi, Taliban, Gestapo e-mails,” said commission spokeswoman Carolyn Beck. “I don’t really understand the hateful outrage. I don’t understand, ‘Die in a fire.'”

That she doesn’t even understand the criticisms clearly indicates how far out in Lalaland she is. Some additional suggestions for your complaints include TABC stormtroopers, Lone Star Savak, Shiner Boch Stasi and the Killian’s (or even Killeen) KGB. Additionally, the Texas Central Committee Legislature may be taking up the issue.

Legislators who oversee the commission said they agree with the emphasis on public safety, but the program should be reviewed to check for abuses and to measure its effectiveness. […]

Rep. Kino Flores, chairman of the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures, said he plans to call a meeting next month to examine the commission’s work.

“We’re looking at it and we’re going to be looking at it: Are we going too far, or do we need to go further?” the Mission Democrat said.

The key problem is that the legislators don’t get this really simple concept called freedom.

Sen. John Whitmire, a Houston Democrat and member of both the powerful Senate Finance Committee and the Criminal Justice Committee that oversees the commission, defended the principle of in-bar citations.

“Even though a public drunk is not planning on driving, that could change in an instant,” he said. “There is certainly potential danger.”

With that line of reasoning, why not just arrest people at the store when they purchase a six-pack of beer? After all, they could potentially cause danger, too. In addition to the individual rights issues, there are additional questions which need to be addressed. Why isn’t a bar considered private property by Texas law? Why the hell does the TABC have a Homeland Security department?

We suggested it, and obviously you’re doing a great job at contacting the TABC thugs. It’s starting to work, so let’s keep up the telephone and e-mail campaign. You can e-mail their complaint line, call their complaint line at 888-843-8222, or call the TABC executive department at 512-206-3221. I’m adding John Whitmire to my correspondence list, too.

UPDATE: It seems that at least one organization has picked up on the neologism neoprohibitionist:

But the executive director of a national restaurant trade group Friday termed the sweeps “neo-prohibitionism,” which he blamed on the Irving-based group Mothers Against Drunk Driving. MADD issued a statement supporting the alcohol commission’s efforts.

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