Feuds, Funerals, Fundies and Free Speech

Fred Phelps, the mind behind godhatesfags.com, is quite possibly the modern living embodiment of George Orwell’s quote “if liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” He and his church have become infamous for their shocking-but largely legal-denunciations of homosexuality. Their favorite modus operandi seems to be picketing funerals, as they did with Matthew Shepard.

Their latest gig seems to be picketing funerals of American soldiers killed in Iraq. The argument they base these protests on is that America supports homosexuality, therefore every dead soldier is God’s way of telling America to stop supporting homosexuality. The twistedness of this man is unfathomable-I’ve never known any anti-war protester who actively hopes for the deaths of our soldiers. That’s just sick.

Patriotic veteran bikers seem to think so, as well. Organized as the Patriot Guard, they are now going to funerals to support the war’s dead against the protests of Fred Phelps’ church. While mindless flag-waving annoys me, this seems to me a very noble thing to do.

This shows the world that the best antidote to free speech is more free speech. Those who would curtail Fred Phelps’ right to spew bigotry would merely make it harder to protect other forms of free speech. Meanwhile, protecting all free speech lets the moral force of the Patriot Guard be brought to bear against Phelps and his sinful, racist, drug abusing, immoral lot.

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It Still Reeks of Eminent Domain

The New York Times is reporting about a rash of state legislation and constitutional amendments designed to decrease eminent domain abuse thoughout the country:

The measures are in direct response to the United States Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision last June in a landmark property rights case from Connecticut, upholding the authority of the City of New London to condemn homes in an aging neighborhood to make way for a private development of offices, condominiums and a hotel. It was a decision that one justice, who had written for the majority, later all but apologized for.

The reaction from the states was swift and heated. Within weeks of the court’s decision, Texas, Alabama and Delaware passed bills by overwhelming bipartisan margins limiting the right of local governments to seize property and turn it over to private developers. Since then, lawmakers in three dozen other states have proposed similar restrictions and more are on the way, according to experts who track the issue.

What they seem to be ignoring is that some of these bills do relatively nothing to stop such eminent domain abuse. As I live there, let’s use Alabama as an example. Shortly after the Kelo decision, Alabama passed a supposedly tough new eminent domain law. However, it was primarly an act of political grandstanding. Here is the view of the largest independent newspaper in the state:

The term “blighted” is a loophole in Alabama’s new private property protection law big enough to drive a bulldozer through, says an attorney who lost a landmark case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Alabama is doing the right thing in taking a great first step,” said Dana Berliner, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, a public interest law firm based in Washington, D.C. “Now Alabama needs to take the second step to tighten sections of the law that deal with blight.”

To be sure, there is already another land taking brewing in Birmingham. In what appears to be the beginnings of a major redevelopment in town, step one involves the city paying Wal-Mart $11,000,000 in tax revenue from the general fund (which is to be later repaid with bond money) to move into a mostly vacated mall. I went over the paperwork presented so far with one of the city counselors and there are a lot of unanswered questions, so far. The contract leaves more questions to be asked than it answers, including vagueness which could cost the city millions more.

This appears to be step one in the larger development scheme being worked behind the scenes. We are working on obtaining as much information as possible though the Open Records Act, but it is unlikely that the requested material will arrive in time to develop enough political opposition to fight the immediate issues. In a recent town hall meeting, city planners presented an area which is a combination small and larger store fronts (of which the new Wal-Mart will serve as the hub), residential areas and major thouroughfares. They described plans which would reroute roads, add parks, and totally modify the landscape of the area. Unless 100% of the property owners involved will willingly give up their homes and businesses, eminent domain (or the extortive threat thereof) will have to be used.

The mayor said the votes are already there to shove the Wal-Mart down our throats against our will. However, we managed to defeat the proposal in committee yesterday, which will probably only delay it hitting the full council by one week.

When the issue was forced on them, the mayor and the city councilperson pushing this agenda denied that eminent domain would be used. When I asked the question, it seemed to draw greater applause than anything thing else during the presentation, but the local paper seemed to omit this from their account of the meeting. However, this same councilperson used eminent domain (and gave away 10,000,000 taxpayer dollars) to build another Wal-Mart in her district a few years ago. Even the current contract before the city council has phrases imbedded in it like “…the Redevelopment Property will result in the elimination, remedy and prevention of blight and blighting factors in the project area…” and “…and will advance and implement the purposes of the Oporto-Crestwood Plan, and, accordingly, is a public use, is in the public interest…”. Future contracts dealing with future phases of this plan will certainly be scarier.

Where I come from, we know that if it looks like shit, smells like shit, and tastes like shit, we ain’t a gonna step in it — despite what The NY Times, mayor of Birmingham, or certain city counselors have to say about it.

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Good for the Gander, Too

The bad news comes from the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer
:

Houston’s police chief on Wednesday proposed placing surveillance cameras in apartment complexes, downtown streets, shopping malls and even private homes to fight crime during a shortage of police officers.

“I know a lot of people are concerned about Big Brother, but my response to that is, if you are not doing anything wrong, why should you worry about it?” Chief Harold Hurtt told reporters Wednesday at a regular briefing.

The good news comes from Matt Asher:

Harold Hurtt has suggested that surveillance cameras be placed “in apartment complexes, downtown streets, shopping malls and even private homes”, according to this story in the Seattle Post Intelligencer. In response, I hereby found….

The Hurtt Prize

The Hurtt Prize is a $1185 (and growing) reward for the first person who can provide definitive videotaped evidence of Houston police chief Harold Hurtt committing a crime, any crime. This evidence will posted here and forward to the Houston Police Department along with a demand that action be taken.

If I lived in Houston, I’d be out there with my camera already. Even if he’s not breaking the law, I’d hope to capture everything from Hurtt spilling soup on his tie to the sexual peccadilloes in which he might engage.

Props.

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It’s Time for an Intelligent Design Coalition

As a Pastafarian, I’m terribly upset. Scientists are meeting in Saint Louis and going on the offensive to take away our religious rights. Worse yet, they’ve invited a host of teachers. According to the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch:

Scientists aren’t just defending evolution anymore. Over the weekend in St. Louis, the nation’s leaders in science went on the offensive.

With the fervor of preachers and the drive of generals, scientists from across the country rallied against what they describe as religious pressure in public schools. And they enlisted the help of hundreds of teachers.

The situation is becoming critical. They are trying to teach heretical concepts like the Theory of Evolution, filling children’s brains with ideas that will forever seperate them from everlasting life secured beneath the noodly appendage of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Perhaps it’s time to strike back. I’m merely afraid that there aren’t enough Pastafarians out there to combat this evil element in our society. Now is time for a host of organizations which support various views about Intelligent Design to join together so we can ensure that our children won’t be exposed to such radical views.

In order to implement effective change, I propose we call for a national conference (with C-Span coverage, of course) with panel discussions led by groups like:

      The Taliban (they’ve successfully kept such heresy out of the heads of women for years)
      The Catholic Church (Galileo and Copernicus were chump change, they’ve proven for centuries how to minimize dissension within the ranks)
      Nazis (most of those scientists are probably Jews trying to take over the world, anyway)
      Fred Phelps and his God Hates Fags Baptist Church (they really understand public relations and activism)

At the conference, we should form a new umbrella coalition organization, perhaps called S.A.R.E., which stands for Science Abuse Resistance Education. If we ever expect to keep our kids off science, we’ve got to work together — starting now.

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Jokes of the Day: Big Government Really Works

Joke Number One, from Newsday.com:

The mobile homes started arriving sometime in October, pulling into a 282-acre site at the Hope, Ark., airport, one after another, row upon row. They kept on coming, week after week and month after month, convoys of sometimes 100 at a time lugged by trucks that clogged the roads into town, queuing up on a runway and on the adjacent gumbo-like soil, side to side, front to back.

They were supposed to be shelters for the thousands of victims left homeless by Hurricane Katrina, waiting here to be shipped out, reflections of the goodwill of a nation. But they never left. Instead, they kept on coming, kept on piling up, like logs at a dam. Today, 10,777 of the units sit stockpiled in Hope, $300 million in taxpayer money gridlocked in bureaucracy, 450 miles from New Orleans with no place to go.

And more than five months after Katrina hit, the scene has become a symbol to locals almost on a par with the Superdome of the federal government’s ineptitude in dealing with the most serious natural disaster in recent U.S. history. Part of the problem, it turns out, is that the Federal Emergency Management Agency spent millions on mobile homes to house hurricane victims, but its own regulations say they can’t be installed in the floodplain zones where the hurricane hit.

Joke Number Two, from MSNBC:

Here’s a pop quiz on gender equality. In which part of the world are women most likely to reach the highest rungs of power? Choice A offers new moms 12 weeks of maternity leave, almost no subsidized child care, no paid paternity leave and has a notoriously hard-driving business culture. Choice B gives them five months to three years of paid time off from their jobs after having kids. Millions put their offspring into state-sponsored day-care centers for several hours a day. Government agencies, full of female directors and parliamentarians, protect workers at the expense of business and favor a kinder, gentler corporate culture. So which place is better for women who want to make it to the top? If you guessed A, the United States, you’d be right. If you chose B, Europe, think again.

It sounds impossible, but it’s true. For all the myths of equality that Europe tells itself, the Continent is by and large a woeful place for a woman who aspires to lead. According to a paper published by the International Labor Organization this past June, women account for 45 percent of high-level decision makers in America, including legislators, senior officials and managers across all types of businesses. In the U.K., women hold 33 percent of those jobs. In Sweden — supposedly the very model of global gender equality — they hold 29 percent.

Let’s keep those wonderful big government solutions rolling, folks.

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Homeland Porno Police

Two men walked into the Little Falls library in Bethesda, MD wearing hats which read “Homeland Security”. They then announced to the people inside the library that viewing Internet pornography is verboten. From WaPo:

After the two men made their announcement, one of them challenged an Internet user’s choice of viewing material and asked him to step outside, according to a witness. A librarian intervened, and the two men went into the library’s work area to discuss the matter. A police officer arrived. In the end, no one had to step outside except the uniformed men.

In the meantime, Osama bin Laden threatened the United States again. From ABC News:

In the tape posted to the Web site Monday, bin Laden offered the United States a long-term truce but also said his al-Qaida terror network would soon launch a fresh attack on American soil. The tape was initially broadcast Jan. 19 on Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab satellite channel.

It’s nice to see that we finally have our security priorities straightened out.

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We Don’t Need No Legislation

Mike DeWine said that we don’t need no stinkin’ debate about NSA wiretapping issues, and now Bill Frist is jumping on board the Constitution-be-damned train. From Yahoo News:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, standing firmly with the White House on the administration’s eavesdropping program, said Sunday he doesn’t think new or updated legislation is needed to govern domestic surveillance to foil terrorists.

“I don’t think that it does need to be rewritten, but we are holding hearings in the Judiciary Committee right now,” Frist said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Frist also said he didn’t think a court order is needed before eavesdropping, under the program, occurs. “Does it have to be thrown over to the courts? I don’t think so. I personally don’t think so,” he said.

Business as normal in GOP-land continues…

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United States Joins International “Coalition of the Homophobic”

As we’ve often charged, there are few differences between American Christian and Mid-eastern Islamic fundamentalists. Human Rights Watch provides the latest example:

In a reversal of policy, the United States on Monday backed an Iranian initiative to deny United Nations consultative status to organizations working to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, a coalition of 40 organizations, led by the Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called for an explanation of the vote which aligned the United States with governments that have long repressed the rights of sexual minorities.

“This vote is an aggressive assault by the U.S. government on the right of sexual minorities to be heard,” said Scott Long, director of the LGBT rights program at Human Rights Watch. “It is astonishing that the Bush administration would align itself with Sudan, China, Iran and Zimbabwe in a coalition of the homophobic.”

Now that Condi has opened the door by jumping into bed with Ahmadinejad, we might now expect to see couplings like Pat Robertson and Osama bin Laden or Roy Moore and Saddam Hussein. Oops, I forgot. Saddam already has a partner.

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Cory Maye Story Hits Fox News

In case you missed it like I did, Radley Balko’s article on Cory Maye is now up at Fox News. The article provide a good overview of the case, and contains a few new pieces of information for those of you not following the story as it unfolds. I’ll provide a brief segment which provided information not well covered on this site:

But it gets worse. For the last 10 years, Bob Evans has been public defender for the town of Prentiss. Late last year, Evans says he was warned by town officials not to represent Cory Maye in his appeal. Evans ignored the threats, and gave Maye representation. In January of this year, Prentiss made good on its promise, and fired Evans.

According to Evans, Prentiss Mayor Charlie Dumas told him point blank that he was terminated for representing Cory Maye. In a phone interview, Mayor Dumas confirmed having a conversation with Evans, but declined to go into specifics. Calls to the town’s aldermen weren’t returned, or were answered with “no comment.”

If Evans version of events are true, the firing of Evans stinks. It’s the kind of thing public officials do when they have something to hide. And it only adds to the already obvious notion that the town of Prentiss doesn’t much care about giving Cory Maye a fair shake at justice.

Fortunately, Orin Kerr of the Volokh Conspiracy is jumping on board. From Balko’s blog:

Orin Kerr Joins Cory Maye’s Legal Team

And that’s terrific news.

Kerr’s a highly regarded legal scholar, professor at the George Washington University School of Law, and a blogger at the Volokh Conspiracy.

That Kerr’s lending his expertise to Cory’s case I think speaks volumes about how his cause is cutting across ideological lines. I don’t think Kerr would object to being called a consistent but thoughtful law-and-order conservative.

And Abe Pafford, the associate who first brought the case to the attention of the partners at Covington and Burling, went to Liberty University (founded by Jerry Falwell), and first learned of the case courtesy of this post by Jonathan Adler at National Review Online.

On the other end of the spectrum, last week I met with the folks at the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. They say Cory’s case is drawing attention among leftist groups, too, including the ACLU, Amnesty, and the NAACP.

The group I’d most like to hear from is the NRA. Seems to me this would be a gut-check case for them.

This is obviously good news. Like Balko, I’m curious about the silence from the National Rifle Association on this issue. They are either truly interested in the rights of gun owners or the accusations from the left about them being racist GOP sycophants are indeed correct.

If you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to sign the petition or contribute to the legal fund.

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Homeland Security: Saving Us from Fourth Graders

Azzah is a typical fourth grader in a Detroit public school. As she saw the school bus through the kitchen window, she quickly grabbed her homework assignment and books and ran out the door, coat unzipped, and ran so she could make it to the bus stop in time to catch her ride to school. Her mother yelled at her to zip her coat, but Azzah didn’t hear in the rush to make it on time.

Suddenly, as she approached the stop, a line of men in suits brandishing firearms ordered her to halt and drop to the ground. Helicoptors swooped low overhead. Her mother ran out the door to do what should could to save her daugher, but was tackled by men waiting outside the back door.

“Yep, Agent Smith, they’re guilty all right,” stated one of men as he held up a seating chart for Comerica Park.

Azzah’s mother, now in handcuffs, stuttered in disbelief, “But, but, she’s got a field trip to watch a baseball game and…”

“Shut up, bitch,” one of her captors sneered as he jerked her off the ground. As he shoved her into one of the unmarked sedans, he knocked her hijab onto the ground.

As the men, prisoners and vehicles quickly departed the scene, the senior agent thanked the school bus driver for his assistance in this important arrest. The bus driver walked back to his vehicle, head held high, knowing that he had saved America from another terrorist attack.

Does this seem like fantasy, reality or a South Park episode to you?

According to Fox News, school bus drivers are being trained to watch for potential terrorists by Homeland Security officials. Hopefully someone will save America from all the evil fourth grade children.

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Mike DeWine: Screw the Constitution

While I’m still not sure whether George Bush actually stated that the Constitution is “just a goddamned piece of paper,” it seems that Ohio Senator Mike DeWine did so on Fox News tonight. The quote in question referred to the NSA wiretapping program and is provided by ThinkProgress (emphasis added):

You know, there’s been some controversy about whether or not this program is legal or is not legal. I think we need to get beyond that. And the vast majority of American people believe these calls need to be listened to. But we don’t want to have any kind of debate about whether it’s constitutional or not constitutional. So I think we need to put that beyond us.

While Republicans used to play lip service to their favorite portions of it, it’s starting to look like there is a GOP-wide consensus for an absolute disregard of all portions of the Constitution.

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Georgia: Stupid Law of the Day

How can one tell when delusional people are about to go off the deep end? One indicator is that they might disregard reality at an increasing rate, further fueling their paranoid delusions, beginning a feedback cycle which quickly escalates until they have lost all contact with reality.

According to Atlanta’s WSB-TV, legislators in Georgia are currently in the state I just described. Not just content with propagating myths that recreational marijuana use causes white women to date jazz musicians or forces people to mainline heroin, they are also one of the states which doesn’t have the balls to take on the federal government by allowing for the compassionate use of medicinal marijuana. Now they are taking it one major step further:

Candy that’s flavored like marijuana would be outlawed under a bill proposed in the state Senate.

The effort, spearheaded by Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, is one of several throughout the nation targeting increasingly popular candies marketed with drug-inspired names like Purple Haze and advertised with slogans such as, “Every Lick is Like Taking a Hit.”

Marketers call the treats a harmless novelty. But anti-drug advocates say they glorify drug use and encourage children to smoke pot.

“Should a 9 year old be able to go into a store and get a bag of chips, a soda pop and some dope candy?” said Fort, who announced his bill Thursday in the parking lot of an Atlanta convenience store where he said he bought the candy the day before. “That’s ridiculous.”

Actually, what’s ridiculous is that they are no longer content merely to outlaw products which contain THC (even when it saves lives), but they are now attempting to outlaw products which might even taste like marijuana. If this doesn’t deter marijuana smokers, what’s next? Do they plan to outlaw products which are colored the same as marijuana?

The real suckers are the people who continue to vote for politicians such as these.

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Just Another Government Whore

According to the Dallas Morning News, a Democratic candidate for the Texas House used to be a male prostitute. I had a few reactions after reading this bit of news.

First off, at least he’s an honest whore; the rest of the government should be so honest. Both in literal acts of adultery and in the corporate lobbyist harlotry that so commonly takes place.

Second off, I thought “A former prostitute! This guy should know better than anyone that prostitution should be legalized.” While Mr. Malin himself has personally repudiated prostitution after a religious conversion, he hasn’t said anything regarding its legality. His backers, however, have said plenty… and they’re considering ending their support for him. So much for the civil libertarianism of the Democratic Party.

Oh well… the rest of Malin’s platform appears to be pretty moderate for a Democrat, so just for the sake of supporting an honest fellow I hope he wins the primary, at least. I’d rather a prostitute in government than a corporate whore any day.

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DC Business as Normal: The people screwed again, and again, and…

There’s the wind up. Now the pitch. Fast ball right down the center. From the MercuryNews:

The Patriot Act cleared a major hurdle Thursday that ensures it will be renewed soon.

The Senate voted 96-3 to move toward final passage of new civil liberties protections to the Patriot Act, which the White House negotiated with a handful of Republicans.

Some Democrats remain convinced that the post-Sept. 11, 2001, anti-terrorism law gives the federal government too much power to intrude into the lives of innocent Americans. It is set to expire next month unless it is renewed.

But Thursday’s vote clears the way for final congressional approval, which seems assured once Congress returns after next week’s Presidents Day recess.

The Patriot Act bill would renew most provisions. Last year, the Senate blocked renewal after Democrats and a few Republicans argued that more protections were needed against government intrusion.

Streeeee-ike!

From the Chicago Tribune:

The Bush administration helped derail a Senate bid to investigate a program of warrantless eavesdropping.

Senate Democrats said the Republican-led Congress was abdicating its obligations to oversee a controversial program in which the National Security Agency has monitored phone calls and e-mails involving U.S. residents and foreign parties without obtaining warrants from a secret court that handles such matters.

“It is more than apparent to me that the White House has applied heavy pressure in recent days, in recent weeks, to prevent the committee from doing its job,” Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said after the panel voted along party lines not to consider his motion for an investigation.

Stree-ike two!

I’ve got an idea. Let’s see which civil liberties bill is voted upon by the Senate next. With the count at two and oh, there’s a remote chance they’ll be afraid (you may reasonably ask what I’m currently smoking) of striking out. Should they swing and miss on the next pitch, we all know the penalty. Even the mighty Casey didn’t get another chance at bat after he struck out.

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Liberty in Our Lifetime: Get Off the Couch, You Lazy

Are you sick and tired of the government telling you what you can and cannot do with your own body and in the privacy of your own home?

Are you sick and tired of the government taking your money and spending it on programs you don’t agree with that don’t work anyway?

There finally is something you can do about it.

I’ve been meaning to do this for quite a while, and finally did it tonight. And that’s part of the problem: We as Americans have become apathetic. We hear about the government getting bigger and more invasive, and we shrug our shoulders, say “What can I possibly do?” and go back to watching TV.

Far from being lovers of liberty dedicated to keeping America the land of the free, we have become a nation of couch potatoes who only become upset enough to do something when FOX cancels our favorite TV program.

That must change. And it starts with you. Or in my case, me. So today I finally signed up for the Free State Project.

Once in New Hampshire, the 20,000 or more true lovers of liberty will work to cut the government down to a more appropriate size. If you have been sitting on the fence, waiting to see how it comes out before you sign up, what the hell are you waiting for? How it comes out is up to you. Are you going to sit there and complain about the government endlessly, or until they come and cart you away, or are you going to do something about it?

Signing up for the Free State Project isn’t the only thing I did tonight. Radio talk show host and occasional HoT contributor Ian Bernard thought that people weren’t signing up quickly enough, so he created the First 1000 Pledge. People who sign the First 1000 Pledge agree to move to New Hampshire by December 31, 2008, as long as 999 others also agree.

Tonight I also signed the First 1000 Pledge. And I intend to move to New Hampshire whether 1,000 other people do or not.

What are you doing to work for liberty? What’s stopping you from joining the Free State Project? Do you even believe in liberty?

(This post orginally appeared at Homeland Stupidity. But Ian has managed to convince me, probably without realizing that’s what he was doing, that this needs much wider distribution. Enjoy!)

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Ed Thompson for Congress???

Rolf Lindgren gave me a call last night and stated that Ed Thompson might consider running for U.S. Congress in Wisconsin’s Third District. Knowing that my good friend Rolf has the tendency to become overly enthused at times, I gave Ed a call to see what might be going on.

For those of you who don’t recall, Thompson ran for governor of Wisconsin in 2002 and won nearly 11% of the vote as a Libertarian. He was the mayor of Tomah, Wisconsin at the time — a seat he won with 58% of the vote. Thompson currently serves on the Tomah City Council as a result of a race in which he wasn’t even a candidate. As I recall the story, Ed’s townspeople ran a write-in campaign for him (without his knowledge or approval) for the city council seat. The other candidate only got 3 votes — his own, Ed Thompson’s and his girlfriend’s. Thompson runs Mr. Ed’s Tee-Pee restaurant, is the brother of former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and is the subject of the (really good — I’ve seen it) documentary titled A Remarkable Man.

After his gubernatorial run, I studied Thompson’s polling data. I also polled Thompson statewide in 2004, and found that his level of support did not decline even two years after his race. My crude graphic (click to enlarge) indicates Thompson’s 2002 vote broken down by county in the 3rd Congressional District. Note that Tomah is in Monroe County, where Thompson enjoyed the greatest level of support. That Thompson’s support radiates from his home base indicates my personal impression of him — those who know Ed Thompson like (and will support) Ed Thompson. see more…

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A Veteran’s Perspective on the Abu Ghraib Photos

Just like the rest of the country, the rhetoric on this site is intensifying as a result of the new Abu Ghraib photos. Salon just published an even newer batch of them. Beware, there is a lot of blood and nudity in the latest of the torture photos.

Trevor stated:

The people responsible will be or have been punished. That’s the difference between the old and new Iraq. In the old, those responsible for the much wider torture going on were not held accountable – they were actually government sanctioned.

Wrong answer, dude. Only the lower level heads have rolled — but not the senior ones most responsible for this.

Vietnam veteran Julian (when not fighting with Pauli and Artus) defended Trevor with:

Glad to see you are still around. Most of these jack asses don’t know you are in Irag and are in the army. You are the real eyewitness to history.

Guess what? I’ve spent over a decade in the Army, and find the actions at Abu Ghraib absolutely deplorable. I’ve been the eyewitness to history that Julian described; I was stationed in Germany when the wall fell. I am still proud of my minor role in tearing it down, too. While I can expect a ration of shit from people like Artus and Pauli, they should know that I got out for two reasons: doubts about the first Iraqi War followed by Clinton’s absolute disrespect and misuse of the military.

Should America ever be truly threatened by some other country, I’ll be in the front of the line to defend her. I’m neither a pacifist nor a member of the left — no matter what the WSJ says about my actions. I volunteered to help defend my country — not to offend other countries. We’ve clearly lost sight of the concept of a defensive military since WWII. It may be notable that we haven’t actually had a constitutionally declared war since then, either.

Julian seems to think that bravery (and the right to hold an opinion about things military) should be reserved for those who have served. OK, dude — I’ve done my time, and then some, and then some more. Perhaps he and others like him will at least listen to me.

This war is bullshit. We attacked the wrong frigging people. Saddam Hussein did not kill 3,000 people on 9/11. There are no WMDs. Saddam Hussein is in jail now — negating yet another reason stated for going to war. We have no reason to be in Iraq right now. None at all.

Our rape and torture of POWs and detainees is deplorable. It serves no purpose. When I was in the Army, had any of my buddies been engaged in such activities, every last one of us would have done what we could to stop it. Not only would most of the troops reported it, commanders would have started serious investigations immediately. At a lower level, they probably would have “blanket-partied” anyone involved. I wouldn’t even rule out the possibility that someone might have fragged an NCO or junior officer involved, too.

That was my Army. Today’s Army is considerably less professional, and suffers from a serious lack of professional military leadership. The civilian leadership is even worse, providing guidelines like the Bush Doctrine which expands our offensive role.

America needs to wake up to what our military is doing and insist that it resume a defensive role, as opposed to an expansionistic one. Perhaps this latest round of extremely twisted pictures will open a few more eyes.

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Libertarian Party Campaign Sites Update

There are some pretty good websites out there for LP candidates, and some which are not so good. The best list I have is over at LFS. Please let me know if you have any updates.

Here are some of my recent favorites:

Jeremy Ryan — City Council, Ward 7, Burlington, VT
Wilbur Wood — U.S. Congress, District 10, Virginia (new)
Bill Peirce — Governor, Ohio (one of Van Dyke’s sites)
Sue Jeffers — Governor, Minnesota (won Politics1 site of the day)

Apparently, there are some who place the party banner ahead of advancing the cause of liberty. Believe it or not, Congressman Ron Paul has a challenger from the Libertarian Party.

I don’t know anything about him, but if Eugene Flynn (who doesn’t even seem to have his own website) manages to draw enough votes to knock Paul out of office, I expect that he will become enemy number one of the entire freedom movement.

To be sure, everyone should have the right to run for office — including Jeffrey Diket, Jim Burns and Dave Hollist. However, people like these give the general public plently of reason to call the LP a bunch of loooooosers. Perhaps if we pop Flynn enough e-mails, he’ll remove the tin foil from around his head and kindly drop his race.

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Refusing to Bow to the Tyrants

I hadn’t heard much from Melinda Pillsbury-Foster recently (aside from this article) until I ran into (what I assume is) her latest column today. Even if it’s recycled material, it is well worth the read. Here’s a sneak peak to pique your interest:

As Americans confront the grasping machinations of George W. Bush in regards to their rights we must recall why the Constitution would not have been ratified without each of those Amendments, but most especially the First Amendment.

Words, the truth, are the first defense against oppression.

[...]

The Founders thought they had taken care of the issue of free speech as a tool for self defense. They remembered the case tried in New York forty years before that had proven the need for free speech.

The Case of John Peter Zenger had been tried in 1735 and its example had demonstrated to the Founders, who were certainly aware of it and its import, the nasty tendencies of government to use its power to stifle dissent and the truth.

[...]

The Penn Case, tried in London in 1670, had refused to convict for a crime because English juries had the right to consider the law as well as the case at hand, the basis for jury nullification.

I won’t give away the ending, but will state that is was very pleasant considering our history as opposed to dealing with contemporary issues. As with taxes, we put up with more basic violations of our civil rights today than we fought our revolution over some 230 years ago. Perhaps it’s time to bring back those Sons of Liberty.

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Ann Coulter Guilty of a Felony???

Perhaps she is, according to folks in Palm Beach County. This article states that she committed “a third-degree felony to vote knowingly in the wrong precinct. Lying on a voter’s registration can cost up to $5,000 and five years behind bars.”

A fave on the college speaking circuit and the occasional target of cream-pies-to-the-face, Coulter registered as a Republican (no kidding!) with the supervisor’s office June 24. That’s three months after she bought the home and moved to Palm Beach from Manhattan.

Here’s the sticky part for The Right’s Lady Macbeth: She wrote down an Indian Road address instead of Seabreeze on her voter’s registration application. And she signed to certify the information as true.

“She never lived here,” said Suzanne Frisbie, owner of the Indian Road home. “I’m Ann’s Realtor, and she used this address to forward mail when she moved from New York.”

If she wasn’t in the obviously pro-GOP land of hanging chads and the Rush Limbaugh defense against hypocrisy, Coulter might end up being part of the prison love crew pictured above.

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Batman to target bin Laden…

From ABC News:

Beware, terrorists! The Caped Crusader is targeting a villain more sinister than the Joker – Osama bin Laden.

At the WonderCon 2006 comic-book convention in San Francisco last weekend, legendary comics writer and artist Frank Miller revealed that Batman would hunt down bin Laden and al Qaeda in his next DC Comics graphic novel.

In “Holy Terror, Batman!” the Caped Crusader goes after the terror leader and his organization after Gotham City is attacked by terrorists. Though the graphic novel’s title is a take on Robin the Boy Wonder’s catchphrase, Miller said there was nothing campy about the story.

If it wasn’t fiction, I’d predict that the libertarian caped crusader might be more successful than our cowboy boot wearing comic-in-chief. At least it appears that that Batman will be targetting the real enemy, as opposed spending most of his time creating new ones.

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New Hope for the Free Market in Space?

It’s but a small step, but this one looks a bit hopeful. From NewScientistSpace:

A slim cable for a space elevator has been built stretching a mile into the sky, enabling robots to scrabble some way up and down the line.

LiftPort Group, a private US company on a quest to build a space elevator by April 2018, stretched the strong carbon ribbon 1 mile (1.6 km) into the sky from the Arizona desert outside Phoenix in January tests, it announced on Monday.

The company’s lofty objective will sound familiar to followers of NASA’s Centennial Challenges programme. The desired outcome is a 62,000-mile (99,779 km) tether that robotic lifters — powered by laser beams from Earth — can climb, ferrying cargo, satellites and eventually people into space.

The recent test followed a September 2005 demonstration in which LiftPort’s robots climbed 300 metres of ribbon tethered to the Earth and pulled taut by a large balloon. This time around, the company tested an improved cable pulled aloft by three balloons.

I’m not sure how much of the bed LiftPort shares with NASA, but this looks like one of the more promising areas where the free market may be able to make some serious gains in the race for space and get the government out of the picture.

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Friedman’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose

Kinky Friedman Loves TexasPenn Jillette had Kinky Friedman on his show last week. The interview got heated at times, especially when Kinky “non-denominational prayer in the public schools” Friedman was challenged by Penn “there is no God but Allah” Jillette.

Prompted by the show, I checked out the campaign site and saw the awesome new “Kinkytoon” featuring church and state getting gay married, and monkey legislators trying to reform the schools (“Don’t eat law!”). It’s hilarious and effective. Libertarian campaigns should learn a lesson here.

Kinky’s campaign is heating up, with poll numbers at around 20% before he’s even on the ballot. With fundraising help from supporters like Willie Nelson (when he’s not busy writing gay cowboy songs), he’s raising money faster than either of the Democrat candidates.

There’s going to come a time in American politics when we’re tired of ex-wrestlers, action heros, and writer/author/country singers and want staid guys in suits to lead us. Until then, and as long as the establishment politicians are fun-hating windbags who only stop legislating morality long enough to take a bribe or shoot their friends, Go Kinky!

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