Med-Marijuana Activist Arrested in California

We’ve been hammering away on the Steve Kubby issue, and now the mainstream media seems to be picking up on the issue. From the AP:

Medical marijuana crusader Steve Kubby was arrested Thursday night at San Francisco Airport after spending years as a fugitive in Canada.

Kubby was arrested on a no-bail warrant and booked into San Mateo County jail, San Francisco police said.

There was an emotional farewell earlier Thursday at Vancouver International Airport as Kubby reluctantly returned to the United States to face a jail sentence.

Richard Newell Michael Acree was on the scene, and reports the following:

Kubby’s flight landed about 8:00. I got to the airport around 7:30. There were perhaps three dozen supporters, with many signs, and half a dozen TV cameras. I didn’t recognize any other Libertarians. Most of the people I spoke with hadn’t met Kubby, and knew little about him; they were activists for the cause of medical marijuana, many of them obviously with a personal interest in the issue. Kubby was traveling with his attorney, Bill McPike; it was evidently their expectation that Kubby would be allowed to remain in McPike’s custody until his hearing in Placerville on Tuesday. Instead, police met the flight at the gate and escorted Kubby downstairs, bypassing the welcoming committee and the TV cameras, and whisked him off to jail. In Redneck City–excuse me, Redwood City–not San Francisco. McPike came out and spoke with reporters and supporters. There is supposedly some sort of hearing in Red wood City this morning at 9:00, but McPike didn’t know anything about it. He is extremely soft-spoken; standing directly behind the reporters he was speaking to, I was unable to hear him at all. I hope his soft-spoken, casual manner carries tremendous power in the courtroom, if Kubby makes it that far.

The attitude of the supporters present struck me as resolutely, and incongruously, optimistic. “There must a law against what they’re doing to him. . . .” Unlimited, unalterable faith in the government to restrain itself, and not do what it wants to do most, which is to punish critics. The last time Kubby was in jail for 4 days, without access to marijuana, he nearly died. His supporters seemed convinced that the government would not allow that to happen, lest Kubby be made a martyr. I personally don’t see the government as that terrified of creating martyrs. It is true that his dying in jail would constitute pretty good proof of his claim that marijuana is what has kept him alive for the last 30 years. But that outcome could be prevented by the simple device of having wardens look the other way while other inmates took care of him, as was done with John Geoghan. I would be at least mildly surprised if Kubby had another 2 weeks to live.

Time will tell if Kubby will be the latest American to die in the hands of the drug warriors. In the mean time, I’ve heard reliable rumors that the Kubby family needs a few thousand bucks to handle some of the additional expenses relating to the arrest. Your contributions can be made out to the Kubby Defense Fund.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Wikipedia page on Kubby has a link to this news item on his deteriorating health:

“I’m really sick already,” Kubby told [NORML spokesman] Gieringer by telephone said from jail. “I’m gonna start puking my brains out.” “He says his guards laughed at him when he requested Marinol. Kubby says he hasn’t had marijuana for half a day and has begun to experience all of the symptoms of his life-threatening disease — nausea, headaches, swollen kidneys. He has chills and has not been able to get a blanket from the guards,” Gieringer stated.

Commenter Richard Newell sez: “Good news – After much pain & anguish Attorney Bill McPike reports that Steve Kubby is to receive Marinol in the Placer County Jail!”

Brad Spangler writes on Marinol: Medical marijuana patients commonly describe Marinol as “inferior” in its effectiveness or “only marginally effective.” It might just barely be enough to save Steve Kubby’s life, though, and get him through this ordeal.


Combating Insurgency with Kidnapping

In a stroke of brilliance that could only have been conceived by the marriage of the US State Department and the DOD, offical policy toward to insurgency apparently includes kidnapping the wives of those suspected. Despite previous denial of such actions by Iraq’s deputy justice minister, Busho Ibrahim Ali and a de facto denial by U.S. command spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, the AP is reporting that the kidnappings did in fact transpire based on documents the Pentagon was legally forced to release as the result of an ACLU FOIA request.

The issue of female detentions in Iraq has taken on a higher profile since kidnappers seized American journalist Jill Carroll on Jan. 7 and threatened to kill her unless all Iraqi women detainees are freed.


Iraqi human rights activist Hind al-Salehi contends that U.S. anti-insurgent units, coming up empty-handed in raids on suspects’ houses, have at times detained wives to pressure men into turning themselves in.

…Busho Ibrahim Ali, dismissed such claims, saying hostage-holding was a tactic used under the ousted Saddam Hussein dictatorship, and “we are not Saddam.” A U.S. command spokesman in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, said only Iraqis who pose an “imperative threat” are held in long-term U.S.-run detention facilities.


…documents describing two 2004 episodes tell a different story as far as short-term detentions by local U.S. units. The documents are among hundreds the
Pentagon has released periodically under U.S. court order to meet an
American Civil Liberties Union request for information on detention practices.

In one memo, a civilian Pentagon intelligence officer described what happened when he took part in a raid on an Iraqi suspect’s house in Tarmiya, northwest of Baghdad, on May 9, 2004. The raid involved Task Force (TF) 6-26, a secretive military unit formed to handle high-profile targets.

“During the pre-operation brief it was recommended by TF personnel that if the wife were present, she be detained and held in order to leverage the primary target’s surrender,” wrote the 14-year veteran officer.

He said he objected, but when they raided the house the team leader, a senior sergeant, seized her anyway.

This issue should make anyone who gives half a damn about the lives of military personnel and civilans in the Middle East demand a complete investigation and instant termination of this insane policy. Of course it won’t. The administration’s mouthpieces and supporters liken any objection to King George and his Praetorian Guard to blasphemy of the highest order. So policies designed to create enemies where there were none and strengthen the hate and resolve of the existing ones will continue unabated.

Perhaps the defenders the neo-con lust for empire are unaware of our own government’s definition of the terror we’re allegedly combatting:

Title 22 of the US Code, Section 2656f(d):

The term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.

Doubtless, the latter portion was inserted by design so government could, as usual escape the guilt of action that, committed by individuals would constitute grave criminality. Still, the spirit of our country’s actions remains the same and in addition to angering us thoroughly at its mind-numbing stupidity, should shame us deeply.


Bloggers in Amsterdam Press Junket Kerfuffle

AmsterdamApparently anyone not cool enough to get invited to this press junket by aimed at mostly political bloggers is sniffing their noses at it. From Beltway Blogroll:

Bloggers of all stripes love to bloviate these days about public officials who accepted money or luxurious treatment from corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff in his attempt to curry government favor for his clients. But that doesn’t mean bloggers are above accepting pampering by people with an agenda.

Bloggers no doubt will justify the trip by highlighting the transparency of the junket. For one year, they must link to the Bloggers in Amsterdam disclosure statement, which itself notes the transparency “mantra.”

But curiously, the bloggers just started talking about the trip yesterday — and not all of them are doing so yet. If they really wanted to be transparent, why didn’t the bloggers tell their readers about the trip when the invitation was extended?

Personally, I don’t see how it’s such a big deal since the bloggers seem to be bending over backwards in order to keep their names clean on this with transparency. However, considering the make-up is predominantly some annoying left and right-wing bloggers, we can only hope that once in Amsterdam they run into a representative from the Bratislava tourism board.


Speech Codes Are So Gay

CensorshipIn a stunning display of overreaction and hypersensitivity, French gay-rights groups sued an MP for making anti-gay statements and won.

Stating that “homosexual behaviour endangers the survival of humanity” and that “heterosexuality is morally superior to homosexuality” can cost you dearly in France. Exactly these opinions, expressed by the French politician Christian Vanneste last year, led to him being sentenced on Tuesday to payment of a heavy fine.

A court in Lille [Rijsel in Dutch], in the French northern province of Flanders (adjacent to the Belgian Dutch-speaking region of Flanders), ruled that Mr Vanneste has to pay a fine of 3,000 euro plus 3,000 euro in damages to each of the three gay organisations that had taken him to court. The politician, a member of the French National Assembly for the governing UMP, also has to pay for the verdict to be published in the leftist Parisian newspaper Le Monde, the regional Lille daily La Voix du Nord, and the weekly magazine L’Express.

Les Flamands Roses (The Pink Flemings), a gay activist group from the North of France, applauded the verdict, saying that freedom of speech does not allow “incitement to homophobic hatred.” Mr Vanneste had been taken to court because of what he had said in a recorded discussion with activists of the “Pink Flemings.”

Tuesday’s verdict is the first conviction on the basis of the French anti-homophobia bill of 30 December 2004, one of France’s draconian laws prohibiting so-called “hate crimes.” According to the “Pink Flemings” Mr Vanneste abuses freedom of expression “in order to insult and discriminate [against] gay men and women.”

Freedom of expression should only be used for kind, gentle, non-insulting speech? Fuck that! Laws like this result in a society dominated by the banal smalltalk best reserved for dinner parties, not a vibrant free-wheeling marketplace of ideas. On the other hand, this is a country that has an offical government agency to police the language. Now those conservatives afraid of a vast gay conspiracy to homosexualize America can point to France in the same way that Second Amendment activists point to the United Kingdom. Vive la France!

When “hate speech” codes are proposed, the supporters loudly disclaim any intent to curb all but the most vile speech, yet those same codes often end up used as swords to cut down those one disagrees with, rather than shields to protect the oppressed. Note to Howard Stern (and anoyone else prone to intemperate speech): Stay out of France.


Down the Memory Hole: Google on Censorship

Google censorGoogle Blogoscoped caught the behemoth red-handed:

Incredible. Google removed their help entry on censorship, as Gary Price discovered. Here’s what it used to read:

“Google does not censor results for any search term. The order and content of our results are completely automated; we do not manipulate our search results by hand. We believe strongly in allowing the democracy of the web to determine the inclusion and ranking of sites in our search results. To learn more about Google’s search technology, please visit …”

This is what the page reads now:

Document Not Found

Sorry, the document you requested is not available. You can visit the main page.”

The document at this time was still accessible through the Google cache (I’ve made a screenshot).

Is Google’s motto of “don’t be evil” becoming a cynical relic of a doe-eyed web startup now that they’ve finally become an international megacorp? Well, public pressure and exposure may may them think twice about their responsibility to their users.

However any government inquiry is probably a really bad idea, since even for Google to be wrong doesn’t justify government intervention. After all, in a free market, some new company could come along selling services in China and knock their block off in a few years with better social policies and a more competitive product (in this case, one without censorship, like say Yahoo! someone else?).


Thomas to Bush: Some Answers, Please

According to Drudge, Helen Thomas is in a tizzy because Bush ignored her again. Thomas was quoted as wishing to ask Bush two questions. On Iraq:

“I wanted to ask about Iraq: ‘You said you didn’t go in for oil or for Israel or for WMDs. [So] why did you go in?’ ”

Reasonable question and I’d like the answer, too. It’s a shame that none of the other members of the White House press pool thought to ask. The other intended question was related to the FISA:

“You keep saying it’s a 1978 law, but the Constitution [is] 200 years old. Is that out of date, too?”

Helen, we applaud your attempts to ask the right questions. These are the questions that millions and millions of Americans also wish answered, as well. Bush keeps evading us, as he evaded you. We will keep asking the questions until we get reasonable answers to them — even if we have to ask them in impeachment hearings.


NSA on 4th Amend: Probable Lapse of Memory

WARNING: This post contains a suspected malware URL listed on Google’s list of malware sites. The URL is: – More info available at Google Safe Browsing diagnostic page.

Hayden 4th amendmentThis video of Gen. Hayden (a high-ranking military dude who vowed to uphold the Constitution and Bill of Rights, speaking for the NSA) botching the fourth amendment is crazy delicious orwellian. From the Keith Olbermann Countdown transcript:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My understanding is that the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American’s right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use…

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN: Well, actually, the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure. That’s what it says.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the measure is probable cause, I believe.

HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But does it not say probable…


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: … the court standard…

HAYDEN: The amendment says…

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: … the legal standard…

HAYDEN: … unreasonable search and seizure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: … the legal standard is probable cause.

HAYDEN: Just o be very clear — and believe me, if there’s any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it’s the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment.


OLBERMANN: To quote the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in its entirety, the one the general and the NSA folks are so familiar with and know is about reasonableness and not about probable cause, quote, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Well, maybe they have a different Constitution over there at the NSA.

And conservatives are kicking on the Georgetown demostrators for getting a Ben Franklin quote a little wrong?

I mean, if we’re talking context, we might as well call a spade a spade.


What’s a Hypocrite Look Like?

Well, if your name is James Lileks and you write an article lambasting people who make fools of themselves on the Internet by their use of hyperbole, name-calling and vileness…

James Lileks

…then you probably wanna make sure you don’t have a case study in hypocrisy floating around.


Illegal Wiretaps: Saving Us From Terrorist Bees

Fafblog has some sharp satire on the whole wiretapping thing (I’d say I saw this over at Boing Boing, but the reality is that I religiously read the Fafnir because it’s so damned funny, and I like pies):

Q. Can the president spy on me without a warrant?
A. The president would never, ever spy on you, unless you’re talking to a terrorist.
Q. That sounds reasonable!
A. Or an associate of a terrorist or a suspected associate of a terrorist or a possible suspected relative of a member of an affiliate of a terrorist or someone with a name that’s spelled like a terrorist’s or someone who’s been mistakenly identified as a terrorist by an NSA algorithm.
Q. That sounds like I should look into switching to smoke signals.
A. Well if you want, the president can stop the illegal wiretapping just for you.
Q. Really? Well thanks, that’d be great!
A. And then the terrorists can come and eat you.
Q. Wait! What?
A. Cause without the wiretaps there’s nothin to stop the terrorists from eatin you, yknow. The terrorists and their army of bees.
Q. Oh no! I’m allergic to terrorists AND bees!
A. Oh that’s too bad, cause now the president hasta stop the illegal wiretaps and let alllll those terrorist bees eat you.
Q. Quick! Put the wiretaps back, put the wiretaps back!

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Curling for Democracy

What does Democracy have to do with the sport of Curling and the Winter Olympics? If you ask the newly formed District of Columbia Olympic Committee (DCOC), a lot.

The DCOC was formed by Mike Panetta with the purpose of bringing the status of D.C.’s citizens to the attention of other Americans:

There are over 600,000 residents in the District of Columbia. We pay our taxes and fight and die in every war. But the citizens of the the District of Columbia do not have the same represenation in Congress as Americans in the 50 states.

People living in Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have just as much of a voice in our represenative arm of government as we do. These territories, and the District of Columbia, each have a single, non-voting delegate instead of two Senators and a proportionate number of Represenatives.

According to a January 2005 poll commissioned by “82 percent of Americans believe citizens of Washington, DC, should have equal congressional voting rights – in both the Senate and the House – a number that is 10 percentage points greater than a similar poll conducted in 1999.”

The DCOC believes they have a chance to be recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) because there are “all sort of odd recognitions” such as Hong Kong which still sends a team even though they are now part of the People’s Republic of China. Or Palestine’s Olympic Committee despite the fact that they are not technically a state.

And why the sport of Curling?

We figured that it was the only sport that really fit our collective athletic ability, plus there’s usually beer at the end of the games. Plus, nobody really wanted to wear the tight outfits you need for luge. We’re pretty sure you didn’t want to see that either.

The DCOC setup a form for those interested in supporting their effort to be recognized by the IOC and to further their efforts to be represented in Congress.


The Terrorists Have Won (An Election)

There’s much gnashing of teeth going on over Hamas, an admitted terrorist organization, winning political majority in Palestine:

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi, who apparently was re-elected on a moderate platform, said the Hamas victory was a dramatic turning point. She said she is concerned the militants will now impose their fundamentalist social agenda and lead the Palestinians into international isolation.

She said Fatah’s corruption, Israel’s tough measures and international indifference to the plight of the Palestinians were to blame for Hamas’ strong showing.

Washington miscalculated in pushing for the vote, as part of its pro-democracy campaign in the Arab world, she said. “The Americans insisted on having the election now, so they have to respect the results of the election, as we all do,” she said.

If you were listening closely to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this morning, you might have heard the sound of several palms connecting with their owner’s foreheads.

Update: This is going to be a weird one folks. Hotline Blog quotes Bush:

Bush called yesterday’s high turnout election a referendum on the “status quo”. Bush: “Obviously, people were not happy with the status quo.” He said the Palestinian people didn’t think the “old guard” was able to provide them with basic services and security. Bush said he likes the “competition of ideas.” He said he talked to NSA Sec. Rice twice this a.m. and would continue to monitor the situation. He hinted he would not engage Hamas until they recognized Israel’s right to exist. Since no gov’t has yet formed, though, Bush refused to say what his exact posture toward Hamas would be. Bush: “If there is corruption, I’m not surprised that people say, let’s get rid of corruption.”

If that’s not hedging and political posturing, I sure as hell don’t know what to call it. So like, what happens if Hamas is all like “Yeah, we allow Israel to exist and we have negotiations?”

Another Update: Ok, so it seems there’s this thing called real analysis (whatever that means). We’ll let Volokh do the heavy lifting:

Meanwhile, in my view, the gloves are off. If Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel (and, more important, renounce terrorism) right away, I can’t see any reason why Israel wouldn’t be perfectly within its rights to destroy all PA government buildings, given that they are now the assets of a terrorist group that demands Israel’s destruction. There may be practical reasons (let Hamas implode on its own accord), but Israel has no reason to treat Hamas as a legitimate government [update: or, as a reader suggests, perhaps Israel should treat Hamas as a legitimate government at war with Israel]. You say they were elected? So if Hamas runs a terrorist state bent on its destruction Israel should refrain from treating it as an enemy because it’s an elected terrorist government bent on Israel’s destruction? Please. By that logic, the U.S. shouldn’t have responded to the Nazis’ declaration of war.

Wait, so the theory here is that terrorists getting elected as the majority of Palestine’s government isn’t going to lead to a magical peace accord sprinkled with fairy dust? I’m shocked… SHOCKED!


Iraq Zinger for Democratic Party

dogs of war

This is one of the most amazingly accurate slap-upside-the-head editorial cartoons I’ve seen on the Democratic Party’s stance on the Iraq war. Big thanks to Mike who pointed out another cartoon by the artist Mr. Fish which led me to this one.

Oh and for the obsessive compulsive among you: how many?

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Eminent Domain: Separation of a Black Church and Their Land

Eminent domain

No longer satisfied with just taking your house, they want your church, too. Especially if you are poor and black…

From The NY Times

With bulldozers churning up the earth at the front door, the small Centennial Baptist Church in this struggling industrial hub west of Tulsa seems about to fall to the wrecker.

But the construction is just roadwork, for now. And that is all it will ever be if the congregation has its way.

“The Lord didn’t send me here to build a minimall,” said the longtime pastor, the Rev. Roosevelt Gildon.

In what a local newspaper called “a battle between God Almighty and the almighty dollar,” Sand Springs is moving ahead with a redevelopment plan to clear the church and other occupants from the rundown district near downtown to make way for superstores like the Home Depot.

Surely the U.S. Constitution provides the solution for this one:

No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Because the Kelo decision makes it even easier for the local government to underbid, the following should not surprise us:

He said the offer of $142,000 for the church and two extra lots was not enough to move to a new location where he could serve his 50 or so regular members. He said he was “praying over” the question of a counteroffer. “If I have to move,” he said, “we’re not going out of existence.”

This is not an issue of Democrat v. Republican or black v. white. It’s a matter of government v. you, and it has to stop right now!


You Can Kill a Person; Martyrs Never Die

I have been following with great interest, and much displeasure, the recent legal travails of Steve Kubby and his family.

If I put on rose-colored glasses, I suppose I would say that it’s really a blessing that Steve and his family have been granted five extra years together in Canada. Yes, I’m glad that the Kubby family had a place to go for refuge from the persecution they endured in California, but it was hardly a vacation, since legal issues have been an ever-present fact of their life since going to Canada. The simple fact of the matter is that the U.S. government prosecuted Steve Kubby originally to make an example of him, since he had gained prominence through his political activities, including his role in helping to pass Proposition 215, the very law that should have prevented the government from prosecuting him for growing and using the medicine he needs to stay alive.

This is not unprecedented. The government successfully persecuted, er, prosecuted, writer Peter McWilliams, not un-coincidentally after he had joined the Libertarian Party on nationally-broadcast TV at the 1998 national convention. In fact, they did such a good job of persecuting him that they killed him. I, probably like some of you reading this, wrote a letter to Judge King, the man charged with determining what would happen to Mr. McWilliams, a man living with cancer and AIDS who, like Steve Kubby, needed medical marijuana to stay alive. The Judge ignored our letters and kept the bond in place that McWilliams’ mother had posted for her son’s release (that is, her home), with the stipulation that if McWilliams were to test positive for marijuana use the bond would be forfeited. He abided by the Court’s stipulation, and wound up choking on his own vomit because he couldn’t keep down the numerous pills required for his illnesses. The Court, and the government, could have reasonably foreseen that this would happen. Okay, I’m being generous; I believe that they actually intended that this should happen. They succeeded. They killed a man who happened to be skilled in conveying libertarian ideas and who also happened to need the medicinal properties of a plant to stay alive. see more…


TSA and Reality

first class ticketStories of mothers forced to drink the breast milk out of their babies’ bottles are not new. Neither are stories of the elderly persons subjected to humiliating strip searches. Stories like those solidified my belief that the TSA was an inefficient agency, but this month, my fourteen year old daughter was “randomly” selected for an additional security search- on each leg of our ski trip. Thankfully, the little SSSS marking on the ticket gave us a big flashing clue, so we checked the skis under her name to avoid being detained to watch TSA sift through smelly ski socks and underwear. It saved us some time, but I found out when we arrived home, that they had sifted though that stuff anyway.

My family talked about the futility of the searches that day. The boarding card alerts you with that SSSS mark well before you clear security. Does that make the search “voluntary” and akin to the NYC subway searches? If you are carrying a prohibited item, what would stop you from just walking out of the terminal? I guess that TSA supporters would say that they stopped a crime and inconvenience be damned. After all, it doesn’t matter if you are searched like a criminal- if you are not a criminal, it should not bother you. It is the price of security. But after being detained for additional search on four occasions (during 5 flights), my daughter and I wondered how far our fellow Americans would let our government go in the name of security. (We try to do our part here at home.) How much would people allow this administration take from them? And then, something of a biblical nature happened. David loaded his sling, and focused on Goliath.

People started fighting back. At Georgetown, there was the most effective protest that America has seen of late. Librarian, Kathy Glick-Weil, thwarted the FBI and her local police in their attempt to gain information without a warrant. And, one of our country’s financial institutions has pledged to act in a manner consistent with American freedom with regard to property rights.

They said, in the aftermath of 9/11, that Al Qaeda had awakened the sleeping giant. I think that they were right. But the sleeping giant was our very own government- and we can choose to be David or dinner.


Liberty Dollar “Larcenists” Land in Lockup

liberty coinsSome of you have probably never heard of Liberty Dollars, in fact I myself am pretty skeptical of this odd currency that is backed by silver, yet is only distributed and exchangeable through a single institution (calling it a bank would be a stretch).

Not so for Daniel and Shane Buczek, both of Derby, New York. The two men are believed to be the first people to be charged for passing Liberty Dollars as real currency when they tried to buy beer with them at a at a Buffalo Sabres game (the vendors rejected the coins, shock). However it seems the two got a little pushy with vendors and the cops came to see what the deal was (via Hit & Run).

That’s when Shane Buczek allegedly pulled out a badge and falsely identified himself as a federal agent. After getting both their asses thrown in jail, the Secret Service came to check things out, determined that indeed these guys were probably a little drunk and stupid and now the charges have been lowered from felonies to attempted petit larceny and misdemeanor criminal impersonation.

Now, I’m not one to defend these boneheads from the law for trying to pass off Liberty Dollars (or Liberties as they are often called) as real currency to unsuspecting businesses who have no idea how to convert them to more accepted federal reserve notes. However, the story also included some interesting blurbage about how widely accepted they actually are:

[Karl J. Reile of Elma, the regional distributor of Liberties] identified several area businesses – mostly in the Southtowns – as being among those that accept Liberties. Two of the businessmen he named told a reporter they accept Liberties.

“About 20 of my regular customers use them. They pay me with silver, and they accept silver as change,” said Daniel Hyman, owner of the Red Apple convenience store on Route 78 in Strykersville. “With inflation and government deficits, I see more and more people who don’t trust paper anymore. Eventually, I hope the banks will accept Liberties for deposits.”

“We take it at par with dollars,” said Shawn Clawges, owner of Opener’s Grille, a restaurant on Seneca Street in East Aurora. “They’re a pretty coin, and they’re backed by silver. It’s a commodity that’s going up in value, unlike the U.S. dollar.”

So the lesson here is check with your local Liberties distributor for where you can spend them, because while the U.S. dollar may very well be going in the shitter, it’s probably not worth ending up in the klink over a beer.


Cindy Sheehan: No President Left Unbashed

Cindy SheehanFrom an interview in CounterPunch (via Instapundit):

And about Bill Clinton . . . . You know, I really think he should have been impeached, but not for a blow job. His policies are responsible for killing more Iraqis that George Bush. I don’t understand why to rise to the level of being president of my country one has to be a monster. I used to say that George Bush was defiling the Oval Office, but it’s been held by a long line of monsters.

I still don’t have a favorable libertarian view of her, since some of the things she’s said about the troops is a bit over-the-top and sensationalist, even for anti-war hyperbole (calling insurgents “freedom fighters”). Yet, it’s one thing to disagree with her point for point and it’s another to dismiss her as a caricature of the anti-war left.

She may not speak for my views against the Iraq war (her quotes smack of attention whoring), but at least she’s not holding punches against Democrats involvement in previous interventionalism that spawned the current situation.


BB&T Bank Refuses Eminent Domain Loans

John AllisonBB&T Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Allison may have a bright orange libertarian streak running through his company (via Volokh, who sees it as an Atlas Shrugging moment):

BB&T, the nation’s ninth largest financial holdings company with $109.2 billion in assets, announced today that it “will not lend to commercial developers that plan to build condominiums, shopping malls and other private projects on land taken from private citizens by government entities using eminent domain.”

In a press release issued today by the bank, BB&T Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Allison, said, “The idea that a citizen’s property can be taken by the government solely for private use is extremely misguided, in fact it’s just plain wrong. One of the most basic rights of every citizen is to keep what they own. As an institution dedicated to helping our clients achieve economic success and financial security, we won’t help any entity or company that would undermine that mission and threaten the hard-earned American dream of property ownership.”

The argument is actually pretty clear-cut that they see eminent domain as having a negative financial impact on their industry. Still, I’m willing to bet the bank will be taken to court over alleged discrimination in lending practices in some not-too-distant point in the future, probably by a local government city council to boot.

Update: Hit & Run has more:

Is this an attempt to improve BB&T’s image among home buyers looking for mortgage lenders, or a plain, old-fashioned stand on principle? Maybe a little of both. If BB&T is doing well by doing good, it could hardly be faulted by shareholders. But what if it actually stands to lose more money by turning down developers’ business than it gains by taking a stand in defense of property rights?

This seems more like a shrewd business move rather than pandering to public opinion. After all, they could have led the way in stealing property from other banking institutions, but then the banking industry probably wouldn’t do so well if everyone was only trying to fuck the other guy over.


White House Sees Shadow — Six Weeks of Impeachment Predicted

Apparently 1600 Pennsylvania is getting ready for the second impeachment hearings in ten years. We suspected that an impeachment was in the winds, but there’s really no better confirmation of this than President Bush himself getting antsy and preparing for it.

Like I’ve said before, I hope this goes through. But I also wonder what this portends for American politics. There have been three impeachment hearings in American history-the first one was for Andrew Johnson in the late 1860s, and it was a time when the nation was still deeply polarized after the Civil War. The second one was for Richard Nixon, when we were polarized by Vietnam. The third one was for Bill Clinton, when we were, um, polarized by a cigar. Or something.

My point is that impeachments have become more common in the modern era, and that is because of the increasing number of independent voters, I suspect. Less and less fealty is granted to the main two parties, meaning that the net amount of hostility to any given President is much greater than in previous years.

Is this a watershed? Is this permanent? The only solutions to this “problem” we’ve cooked up in times previous are some major decades-long struggle with a foreign power (Cold War), the emergence of a single powerful party for a few decades (1820s-1850s dominance of the Democrats). “Terrorism” just won’t work as the next Big Bad Threat, and both parties are currently equally despised. I think that, in America’s new political system, we’ll find impeachments a regular feature, as well as at least one more regular party (the Libertarians, I hope). But, when Hell freezes over, the Devil gives free sleigh rides and a Libertarian is sitting in the White House, expect him/her to get impeached over something or another. It’s just the new political reality.


Can Government Save Ford? They Already Did

In case anyone was wondering about the Ford layoffs (around 30K, or a 1/3rd of their workforce), Sploid gives us a one-two punch in the gut:

The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 makes Ford’s massive layoffs incredibly profitable for Ford

Government to the rescue? Too late, they already did.

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Libertarian Pop Media: South Park Creators Interviewed by GQ

GQ just interviewed Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park, and it’s great. To illustrate, here are the opening lines of the article:

You did an episode about Paris Hilton, in which she opens up a retail store called Stupid Spoiled Whore. Why pick on Paris?

Trey Parker: Okay, for me, she’s a whore. Whatever. She’s a dumb, ugly whore. But then I walked into a Guess store, and she was all over the place. I’m like, Wait a minute, they’re treating her like a glamorous model now? Does anyone notice how dangerous this could be to little girls?

On-screen she eventually competes with Mr. Slave in a “whore-off.” How do you come up with an idea like that?

TP: I think she came up with that idea, actually. We just made a cartoon out of it.

Normally, its pretty easy to either smackdown an article or provide a bit of snark to liven it up. As they left absolutely nothing to bitchslap, I’m relegated to merely reproducing a few quotes. On libertarianism:

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Google Bows Down to the Chinese

I said fairly nice things about Google the other day, and I might have to take some of them back. While Google had balls enough to tell the US government where to stick it, they are apparantly now playing ball with China.

According to the AP, Google is cutting a deal to censor China’s 100 million Web surfers:

To obtain the Chinese license, Google agreed to omit Web content that the country’s government finds objectionable. Google will base its censorship decisons on guidance provided by Chinese government officials.

Although China has loosened some of its controls in recent years, some topics, such as Taiwan’s independence and 1989′s Tiananmen Square massacre, remain forbidden subjects.

Google officials characterized the censorship concessions in China as an excruciating decision for a company that adopted “don’t be evil” as a motto. But management believes it’s a worthwhile sacrifice.

“We firmly believe, with our culture of innovation, Google can make meaningful and positive contributions to the already impressive pace of development in China,” said Andrew McLaughlin, Google’s senior policy counsel.

While I certainly understand McLaughlin’s argument, I don’t agree with him. As long as standardized Internet routing practices exist, innovative methods to gain access to government blocked sites will pop up — just ask any offshore e-mail or domestic blog comment spammer.

In the meantime, let me put on my super secret NSA-proof Flash Gordon decoder ring and slip a message past Google to the Chinese: “1 kn0w n0t whot c0urse 0thers mae taik; butt as 4 m3, giv3 m3 l1bertee 0r giv3 m3 d3ath!”


Jon Stewart on the Democrats and Republicans: “Holy sh&^ these can’t be the only two options!”

Daily Show 20060123Reader Rob D. pointed out that last night’s Daily Show with Jon Stewart was characteristically non-partisan when it came to talking about the similarity of Democrats and Republican corruption entrenched in Washington (torrent link, info). Stewart had conservative guest Fred Barnes on the show to pimp his book, but the interview took a turn where the topic was unfettered contempt for both parties. Stewart succinctly laid out the problem most rational third party observers have with scandal-ridden Washington:

“This idea that there’s this entrenched Washington establishment, that if you don’t… if you stick a finger in their eye, you’re not creating a different entrenched Washington establishment that’s just as perhaps corrupt or bubbled than the old one. It’s not… I guess it’s hard to give credit to someone just for coming in and going ‘that doesn’t work, let me bring in my own not-working thing’” [Applause]

A few moments later, the two talked about the (lack of) choice in politics:

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