Freedom of the Press Suppressed in Tennessee HS

In a move sure to make members of the Bush administration proud, an Oak Ridge Tennessee high school principle named Becky Ervin has shut down the school newspaper and seized copies which had already been distributed.

Tennessee Independent Media Center reports:

Administrators late Tuesday searched through teachers’ rooms and desks and seized copies, they said. The inter-school mail system delivering copies was halted, and the newspaper returned. Bundles of papers were removed from teachers’ mailboxes, Grooms [the newspaper advisor] said.

Grooms said she was told to retrieve “all copies that went home. I picked up one copy from one student.”

The students don’t seem to be standing down, though.

“The school administration should realize they don’t have the power to censor our paper,” [the paper’s Editor-in-Chief Brittany] Thomas said, while fellow students gathered around her living room late Wednesday afternoon to hand-paint T-shirts they plan to wear to school on Monday in protest.

According to the Boston Globe, the issues at stake are tattoos and birth control:

The Oak Leaf’s birth control article listed success rates for different methods, and said contraceptives were available from doctors and the local health department. Superintendent Tom Bailey said the article needed to be edited so that it would be acceptable to all the school.

The edition also contained a photo of an unidentified student’s tattoo, which the student had not told her parents about, said Bailey.

”I have a problem with the idea of putting something in the paper that makes us a part of hiding something from the parents,” Bailey said.

And we can be sure this infuriated the control freaks even more:

However, this time a quote from a health department doctor explaining pregnant teens rights to privacy went too far.

“I don’t think we should be condoning anything that tries to suggest a school newspaper or a school’s mission is to keep things from parents,” Dr. Bailey said.

To the students at Oak Ridge High: We know what it is like to have to resort to samizdat news coverage. That’s why we run this website. Our presidential candidate was arrested last year, and I’ll bet most of you never even heard about it. Please bear in mind that many authorities at all levels will try to suppress journalistic expression. Journalism classes and school newspapers are supposed to teach students what it is like in the real world. The way things are going politically, this may soon be the case.

Contact: Principal Becky Ervin or Superintendent Thomas Bailey. Props.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: I know this is a bit late, but I wanted to note this comment from Fark:

Fark censorship

Senior Congressman Guilty: $2.4M in Bribes

Rep Cunningham statementIn a story that is sure to rock the “Moral Majority” [ed- on second thought, they seem to pick and choose their morals] wing of the Republican Party, eight-term California Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges and tearfully resigned from office. From the Associated Press:

In a statement, prosecutors said Cunningham admitted to receiving at least $2.4 million in bribes paid to him by several conspirators through a variety of methods, including checks totaling over $1 million, cash, rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees and vacations.

“He did the worst thing an elected official can do _ he enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there,” U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said. The statement did not identify the conspirators.

The case began when authorities started investigating whether Cunningham and his wife, Nancy, used the proceeds from the $1,675,000 sale to defense contractor Mitchell Wade to buy the $2.55 million mansion in Rancho Santa Fe. Wade put the Del Mar house back on the market and sold it after nearly a year for $975,000 _ a loss of $700,000.

Actually, I don’t care what his political affiliation is, I just hope he ends up sharing a cell with former Ohio Rep. James Traficant.

Update: There might be something in the water down in San Diego that leads to corruption, as this is the 4th high-profile case of the year. Two city council members got swatted and the mayor pulled out all the stops when he was found guilty of corruption… his first day in office.

Another Update: Defense Tech has more details on his military accomplishments and that the Air Force (and their defense contractors) are losing a powerful ally.


“Trophy” Video: Contractors Shooting Civilians

Iraq trophy video stillThe Sunday Telegraph reports that “a ‘trophy’ video appearing to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians has sparked two investigations after it was posted on the internet.” The video, which was originally posted on an adjunct employee website of UK private security contractor Aegis Defence Ltd, is set to the music of Elvis:

In one of the videoed attacks, a Mercedes is fired on at a distance of several hundred yards before it crashes in to a civilian taxi. In the last clip, a white civilian car is raked with machine gun fire as it approaches an unidentified security company vehicle. Bullets can be seen hitting the vehicle before it comes to a slow stop.

There are no clues as to the shooter but either a Scottish or Irish accent can be heard in at least one of the clips above Elvis Presley’s Mystery Train, the music which accompanies the video.

The wanton disregard for human life displayed in the video has led some to question the role and accountability of private security contractors in Iraq (at one point a Humvee is seen driving on a parallel road with no intervention).

You can see the video for yourself here and here. (via Political Wire)

Update by Stephen Gordon: I just FTPed the video in Windows Media and Quicktime to save bandwidth for the sites linked above.


Marijuana No Longer the Key Gateway Drug

Anecdotal data already indicate that Viagra use leads to pornography, polygamy, and even death. If this trend continues, older people may actually start engaging in sexual activites which don’t even include the missionary position. Considering the absurd position of the DEA on marijuana prohibition, these data should already be more than enough to forever prohibit this evil drug which actually can kill.

New evidence suggests that Viagra is the pill of choice for people using illicit recreational drugs. From the article:

“Viagra has been the number one party pill since it was released,” said Paul Quigley, emergency medicine specialist at Wellington Hospital.

Partygoers report many party pills and illicit drugs make them amorous but unable to perform. They see Viagra and other similar drugs as the perfect finale to their weekend cocktail.

“Most recreational drugs make you very randy but you can’t do much about it,” said Quigley, an expert in recreational drugs. “That’s the standard mix to go out in the evening – to make sure you take some Viagra with you.”

Viagra is a common addition to illegal party pill packs combined with “uppers” for Friday and Saturday night, as well as “downers” to help clubbers sleep on Sunday before work.

Not only might one argue that Viagra is frequently abused by people taking it for recreational use, but it also leads to more dangerous activities. The strength of the DEA argument against marijuana has always rested on the distortion fact that marijuana is a gateway drug. Viagra is much more of a gateway drug, as it is not only associated with the use of hard (no pun intended) drugs, but it also leads to such things as marital enhancement for those with erectile dysfunction and the restoration of healthy sex lives for our elderly. Like marijuana, it must be outlawed today before our society slips into further decay.

Update By Jake Porter: Let’s not forget the government funded Viagra.


Norwegian Expansion of Bush Policy: All Children Left Behind

Not wishing to be outdone by the US, Norway seems to be working on a plan specifically designed to leave all children behind. Aftenposten reports on a proposal to revise the way history is to be taught in the land which bore Thor Heyerdahl and Roald Amundsen:

The new program leaves out the world wars, the Russian Revolution, the Cold War, and does not mention the topics of Nazism or Communism.

The world wars are potentially included under a clause that would allow teachers and students “to choose and examine two or more recent international conflicts, and assess cause and effect”.

The reform would further complicate the teaching of general education by reducing the number of hours of history to two hours a week.

We already know the results of teaching revisionist history in the United States. Let’s just hope that Norway doesn’t forget its proud history of resisting the Nazi occupation, so this piece of soon to be verboten history doesn’t repeat itself.

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Missing Home: the Good, Bad and Indifferent

I am still in Bangkok and I am enjoying a quiet moment. Jet lag has the rest of the family in bed and I am feeling a bit homesick. To combat that ache, I opened and went to my normal starting point- the Op-Ed page. Sunday’s letters section is always grouped by subject matter, and of late, there is a whole section dealing with patriotism and the war. I remembered a George Washington quote and thought to look it up- I wanted to share what I felt reading it years ago. I found much wisdom (as well as contradiction) attributed to Washington, but came across a quote that I did not remember. “An army of asses led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by an ass.” I think this may accurately reconcile the opposing ideas of support for the troops and disdain for the commander’s cause. I never did find the quote I was looking for- I was asked to register for the site and thought that time may be better spent taking advantage of the free mini bar. As I enjoy Thailand’s brew, I will be thinking of our lions. May they have an ass for dinner soon.

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Cleveland Muslim Imam Arrested

Fawaz Damra - photo from The RepositoryThis is an interesting story since it’s going on in my neck of the woods. Apparently the authorities caught a terrorist fundraiser living in Cleveland, Ohio who was funneling money back to the Islamic Jihad:

Controversial Imam Fawaz Damra was arrested outside his home early Friday morning and taken to Detroit for the start of his deportation case.

[…] “He actively espoused and sought funding for the killing of Jews and innocent people,” said [Brian] Moskowitz, who is overseeing the deportation case. “This trumps the others because of the national security grounds.”

Damra was convicted last year of lying on his citizenship application more than a decade ago. He spent two months in prison after prosecutors proved he raised money for Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other groups.

But the real jab in the government’s eye is the possibility that they won’t be able to deport the guy — even with all the curtailing of civil liberties that came in the wake of the PATRIOT Act:

After a year of little public activity on the case, several of the lawyers involved acknowledged they were concerned that Damra could escape deportation for two reasons:

He had committed only one crime — lying on his citizenship application — since coming to the United States. Two crimes of that nature are usually required before deportation, if they occurred more than five years after arrival. [ed- funding terrorist organizations isn’t a crime?]

[…] Damra claims he will be tortured if sent to the West Bank, Gaza or Jordan. International law forbids deporting someone if there’s a likelihood they will be tortured.

I mean come on, this the exactly what they claim to need the Act for, yet they seem utterly hamstrung on what to do with him.

Well, I have a suggestion… do the Israelis a favor and drop him off in the West Bank with a discrete tracking device hidden on his clothes. If he heads for an Islamic Jihad safehouse (you know because the satellite photo will likely show some masked guys carrying RPGs and AKs around the compound), pick up the phone and let Sharon know the coordinates.

[photo credit: The Repository]

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No Child Left Behind

It appears that Bret Chenkin, a high school English teacher, wishes to do his part to be sure no child is left behind. He is under fire for giving students a vocab quiz that poked fun of the nation’s president. An example question reads, “I wish Bush would be (coherent, eschewed) for once during a speech, but there are theories that his everyday diction charms the below-average mind, hence insuring him Republican votes.” “Coherent” is the right answer.

Kudos to him for incorporating vocabulary, current events and humor in a single quiz.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: The Moderate Voice makes an interesting point, saying “Simply put, we’re supposed to get both sides when we’re learning, especially in high school. We can’t be objective if the knowledge is unequal.”

If public school teachers will bash Republicans and Democrats equally, this would be a moot issue.


Next Stop: Big Brother…

Papers PleaseWho needs the Real ID when you can get all “Big Brother” on someone going to work using public transportation?


One morning in late September 2005, Deb was riding the public bus to work. She was minding her own business, reading a book and planning for work, when a security guard got on this public bus and demanded that every passenger show their ID. Deb, having done nothing wrong, declined. The guard called in federal cops, and she was arrested and charged with federal criminal misdemeanors after refusing to show ID on demand.

On the 9th of December 2005, Deborah Davis will be arraigned in U.S. District Court in a case that will determine whether Deb and the rest of us live in a free society, or in a country where we must show “papers” whenever a cop demands them.

What this introduction doesn’t mention is that a section of the bus route transits the Denver Federal Center, where this incident took place. According to no signage was posted warning commuters that presenting ID would be required even though it appears that Deborah will be charged with “Conformity to Official Signs and Directions.” responds by saying:

Through these charges, it appears that the Feds are claiming that people were on notice that they had to show ID. Nowhere is this evident, unless ‘Public Welcome’ flags are bureaucratese for ‘Papers, please’.

Would you have shown your ID?


Raich Continues to Challenge Federal Medical Marijuana Prohibition on Constitutional Grounds

Angel Raich, of Gonzales v. Raich fame, is taking her case back to court despite the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that growing weed in one’s backyard somehow involves interstate commerce.

This time, she is using a new constitutional angle of attack. From CBS 5:

Angel Raich contends in a brief filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that she has a fundamental liberty right to take “the only medication that enables her to avoid intolerable pain and death.”

The brief argues that barring her from using marijuana would violate her “fundamental right to life” under the Fifth Amendment due process guarantee of the Constitution.

Her hubby adds:

Robert Raich, who is Angel Raich’s husband and attorney, said, “This case implicates perhaps the most fundamental right of all, the right to preserve one’s life.”

As always, everyone at HoT admires Angel for her courage, wishes her success in her legal endeavors, and perhaps even more importantly, hopes that she survives the ordeal. Others haven’t always been so lucky.


Recent Stories that Missed the Front Page

This must take the cake as the world’s worst business plan:

Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency’s slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job.

Some thoughts on beer, evolution and Intelligent Design:

If you’re such as inclined to do something in close proximity to a whirring propeller, AND you’ve got a good belly full of beer, then congratulations!

…Most people would say, “Why would I somehow enter into a situation where my penis is coming close to a decidedly anti-penis contraption?” But for the boat accident victim, their brain works differently. Their question is, “How can I afford not to do this?” And that’s how the herd is thinned. Sunrise, sunset. Beautiful.

From the “Must Be a Typo Department”:

A recent survey has poured cold water on what everyone believed till now was every man’s dreams…
…if they were paid a 100,000 pounds for it, a whopping 83 percent of them would turn down an offer of sex with their wives and a sexy girl friend, even if the opportunity ever presented itself.

Here is an example of the Justice System (almost) actually working:

“Cold and snow forced an Ohio woman sentenced to spend a night in the woods for dumping 33 kittens back to jail. Michelle Murray, 25, a former animal rescuer, was convicted of animal cruelty last month. Judge Michael Cicconetti sentenced Murray to spend the night in the woods without food or light. He said he wanted her to feel the same pain as the kittens she neglected.”

Libertarians no longer the world’s worst dressed, according this article:

More than 150 tech professionals attended a corporate fashion show in Sydney as organisers officially dubbed the industry “the worst dressed” in Australia.

Short sleeved shirts, man-made fibres and the wrong coloured socks were some of the most common fashion faux-pas cited by corporate stylist, Melanie Moss, who hosted the event on Wednesday night.

Oops of the day! Seems the writer forgot about that pesky little Patriot Act thing.

Title: The FBI Is NOT Watching Your Email

Okay, everyone who has received one of those emails supposedly from the FBI or CIA telling you your IP address has been logged for potential illegal activity, RELAX. It’s just another stupid scam.

Coyote ugly (def.) no longer blamed on beer, and provides one argument to ban smoking:

“The beer goggles effect isn’t solely dependent on how much alcohol a person consumes, there are other influencing factors at play too,” said Professor Nathan Efron, Professor of Clinical Optometry at the University of Manchester. Amazingly, scientists now believe you don’t even need to have had an alcoholic drink to suffer from the beer goggles effect.”


The Great Thanksgiving Hoax – Richard Maybury

No, I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade. This is actually an inspiring article on how free market principles allowed the early colonies of this country to thrive after brief and largely unsuccessful attempts with socialism.

To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.

Many early groups of colonists set up socialist states, all with the same terrible results. At Jamestown, established in 1607, out of every shipload of settlers that arrived, less than half would survive their first twelve months in America. Most of the work was being done by only one-fifth of the men, the other four-fifths choosing to be parasites. In the winter of 1609-10, called “The Starving Time,” the population fell from five-hundred to sixty.

Then the Jamestown colony was converted to a free market, and the results were every bit as dramatic as those at Plymouth. In 1614, Colony Secretary Ralph Hamor wrote that after the switch there was “plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure.” He said that when the socialist system had prevailed, “we reaped not so much corn from the labors of thirty men as three men have done for themselves now.”

I’ll end by saying that Richard Maybury is one of my favorite authors. His ‘Uncle Eric‘ series is a great introduction to the theory of individual liberty. They make great Xmas gifts for younger family members (hint hint).

Happy holidays.

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In July, I posted a blog entry over at the Libertarian Party website entitled “Can Purism and Pragmatism Co-exist?” My key intent was to better define the role of the LP and figure out some mechanism for purists and pragmatists to ally against our common enemies. I closed my rant with with:

There is nothing wrong with being an ideologue – I consider myself one. However, in a conflict between ideology and politics – as a political party, the LP must act in a principled but political manner.

There is clearly room for both ideologues and political players within the libertarian movement. However, for movement to actually move, it is imperative that we work together instead of in opposition to one another.

The comments on that posting led to another blog entry, which I posted at LibertyForSale. There are many brands of libertarians, and I was trying to get beyond the traditional labels to better define the conflict many of us have with each other. In an e-mail, Tom Knapp summed the major conflict best by stating the real division is probably between the ideological wing and the political wing of the party. He even used this dividing point in an article a few days later.

I thought I had seen every possible legitimate definition and subset of libertarianism until I ran into this one today (which, in turn, led me to this website). The guy who wrote it is a local, so I intend to contact him personally and get more of his views on the topic.


Libertarians Can Be Christians

I am a libertarian and also a Christian. Many if not most libertarians I speak to are also Christians.

Many Christians do not support gay marriage. I also do not support gay marriage but I realize that marriage licenses were first used in this country to stop whites and blacks from intermarrying. George Washington did not have a marriage license. Was he living in sin? I personally don’t want the government telling me what is acceptable or giving me permission to do something that God has already gave me a right to do.

My parents had a marriage license and when I was about five months old my father left us. That marriage license was nothing but a waste of money. It is also common to hear about how gays will go to hell and I am not doubting that but we very seldom hear people condemn fornication or adultery this aggressively but the Bible tells us that they are both sins.

Another argument is that God will destroy America if gays live together remember Sodom. Yes I do remember Sodom and if we read the whole story it tells us in Genesis 18:33 that it would not have been destroyed if only ten righteous people could be found in the city.

If you have a right from God to do something you don’t need a license. In the day of judgment God will decide who is correct and who is incorrect not the government or the president who are supporters of the United Nations.

Free speech is also something libertarians love and we support you talking about your religious beliefs in public because the public square is a free speech zone and you don’t have to have permission from anyone to say what is on your mind even if it offends someone.

In closing I would like to remind everyone that the first amendment does not create a separation of Church and state but stops congress from passing any laws establishing religion. I am against the federal governments involvement in education where there is a public funding of the religious belief in Evolution.


Thanksgiving Reflections

Once a year, Americans take a day off work to reflect about things for which we should be thankful. I thought I’d come up with a short list of issues we could celebrate this year:

  1. Unlike the Viet Nam era, our kids aren’t involved in an unpopular quagmire in a far away land.
  2. America sets international standards for the ethical treatment prisoners, ensuring their civil rights, as well as protecting them from torture and abuse.
  3. Our civil liberties are safe, secured by a government that won’t invade our privacy without cause and due process.
  4. Our homes and land are secure from eminent domain seizure by corporate interests.
  5. All levels of our government ensure that we have access to the medications which keep us alive.
  6. Our politicians secure a future for our children by implementing responsible fiscal policy.

Actually, I am thankful about one thing. We still have the right to vote the bastards out!


Brady Campaign Distortion: Out of Control Floridians are Gonna Shoot Ya

Howard Nemerov may be on to something. In his article Gun Control: No Illusion Without Collusion, he outlines Brady Campaign activities intended to scare tourons (my neologism for intellectually under-developed tourists) in Florida:

Visitors were responding to the interviewer after being greeted by the Brady Campaign as they disembarked and given a leaflet advising them to avoid confrontational behavior with the locals, as they are allegedly armed and out of control.

“Do not argue unnecessarily with local people,” it says. “If someone appears to be angry with you, maintain to the best of your ability a positive attitude, and do not shout or make threatening gestures.” From flyer entitled “An Important Notice to Florida Visitors” from Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Far from being the end of life as we know it, Florida’s SB 436:

Creates “a presumption that a person acts with the intent to use force or violence under specified circumstances.”

States that “a person has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force if the person is in a place where he or she has a right to be and the force is necessary to prevent death, great bodily harm, or the commission of a forcible felony.”

Provides “immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for using deadly force” if the above two conditions are met within the definition of the law.

This means that if you have the right to be where you are, and you are attacked, it is reasonable to believe that the person attacking you means you harm, and you have the right to protect yourself. If these two conditions are met, you can defend yourself with force, and if you kill the predator, his family cannot continue the assault by suing you for wrongful death. Florida law has become common sense: all resulting consequences reside with the attacker.

Seems pretty common sense, to me. Robert A. Heinlein once wrote, “An armed society is a polite society.” One is always free to choose between Heinlein’s reality or Brady’s illusion.

And speaking of illusions, don’t forget to check out this piece of editorial excrement.


Scattered Thoughts of the Day…

From the blogosphere:

  • The former Chief Justice of the North Carolina State Supreme Court has called for decriminalizing drugs. Good for him. But I wish all of these former public officials jumping on board with us had seen the light before they were former public officials. — TheAgitator
  • We worry about the Post. First, Richard Cohen gets “sexually excited” about a possible change in Bush policy, now: Woodward juice. Bet Patrick Fitzgerald has to sleep on the wet spot. — Wonkette
  • A “seasoned Democratic operative” tells The Plank “that he fully expects Bob Shrum will emerge from his semi-retirement/exile to work for a 2008 Democrat. Last time around there was a big hullabaloo about the ‘Shrum Primary’ — the intense competition to snap up Shrum as an advisor. This time, given Shrum’s battered reputation [his 0-7 record should give even LP campaign consultants some bragging rights], the interesting question is, Which candidate will be willing to have him?” — Political Wire
  • I would avoid Dick Cheney’s embrace even if I thought he liked me. So to see Tom Delay embrace Darth Vader at a fund-raiser is really exciting. First of all, perhaps the viciousness chip will override the bonhomie chip, and Dickey C will bite his head off, literally. More likely, this confab of the Neocons and Cons-to-be will be a masturbatory orgy of self congratulation combined with complaints about radical liberals who are out to get them… — the Defeatists
  • At the event — which was also attended by Chris Matthews, Terry McAuliffe, Matt Cooper, Tony Blankley and others — Dodd “conveyed his interest in running for the presidency in 2008. He said this pretty directly to [former DNC Chair] Terry McAuliffe … By the time official sounding remarks were made, Margaret Carlson introduced Dodd as the Senator who might or might not be running. — Politics1
  • Guess this answers the questions for us: is dubya drinking again? Brings to mind the old adage “how far do i have to go to get a drink aroud here!” now we have the answer: mongolia! — DailyKos
  • Whose brilliant idea was it to have the most hated person in the White House [Cheney] talk about standing firm in Iraq while he’s looking like Edward Arnold playing the villain in a Frank Capra movie? — Hit and Run
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    Catholic Church Hardens Stance on Gay Priests

    “The House Transportation Committee is now considering a bill that would allow pilots to carry guns for protection. I’ve got a better idea, why not give guns to altar boys, give them a fighting chance.” — Jay Leno

    It’s hard to pass by a title like “Vatican Speaks Against Gay Seminarians” without rendering some sort of smart comment. According to the AP article:

    The Vatican is toughening its stand against gay candidates for the priesthood, specifying in a new document that even men with “transitory” homosexual tendencies must overcome their urges for at least three years before entering the clergy.

    One would suspect that Father John Geoghan considered each of his victims merely transitory, and considering the very long list of them, he’d be technically correct.

    For the record, I’m not Catholic, and could care less which sort of private parts prurient priests prefer, so long as it doesn’t involve pedophilic penile penetration. However, it does seem to me that the Catholic Church should be spending more of its efforts fighting seriously depraved crimes (along with their subsequent cover-ups) as compared to modifying its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.


    Local Political Blogs will Impact 2006 Elections

    I’m not very suprised by the latest blog meme to start emerging: locality blog aggregating. In fact, it’s something we here at Hammer of Truth will be adding in the upcoming site overhaul. Politics and Technology, a lefty blog breaks down the strategy that’s gathering steam [via Political Wire]:

    Over at Roll Call, they’ve got a great piece about the coming role of state and local blogs in the political world.

    But if 2004 belonged to the national political blogs, 2006 might well be the cycle of the local political blog. These blogs specialize in state or local political coverage, and while these smaller, non-national political blogs may not have the resources – financial or otherwise – of the well-known titans of the blogosphere, many are starting to gain a following, not to mention the respect of state and local media outlets and politicians.

    Last weekend, the Reno Gazette-Journal took notice of the rise of Nevada political blogs, including the Las Vegas Gleaner – a blog that “has quickly become a must-read in political circles.”

    Though readership is tiny for local political blogs, the Nevada Democrats’ spokeswoman Kirsten Searer makes the critical point:

    The beauty of bloggers is they have an audience of the right people. If they break news, then insiders in politics and mainstream media are likely to pick it up.

    I think it has more to do with people wanting to know what’s going on from the national level down to their own neighborhood, so there’s an obvious need to build the infrastructure to be able to do this on a repeat basis across every state and locality (while getting people to participate).

    Call it Politics 2.0


    The Internet and the Military Draft: Part Two of a Review of a Recent Libertarian Speech

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

    Part Two of My Review of a Recent Speech

    In my final thoughts on the speech given by Eric Garris about the Internet, I’d like to provide some personal insight into one area about which he talked. After proving his point about the libertarian free market mechanics of the Internet, Garris then takes us in the direction of the Internet and politics. As I was directly in the middle of one of the examples he provided, I’d like to add that he was absolutely accurate in his detail:

    During the last presidential campaign, almost everyone was online, keeping tabs on what the candidates were saying as had never been feasible for any of the other elections in American history. And so when John Kerry posted on his Web site that he believed in a mandatory national service program, some activists caught it immediately and, correctly predicting the Kerry camp would take it down as soon as it was noticed and criticized, make caches online for posterity’s sake. The buzz about a possible draft spread infiltrated the mainstream, thanks to the net. People began to fear conscription would come back under Kerry, and others suggested Bush might bring it back, too.

    The Kerry people took the offending line off its site — which was pointless, since more people probably read about the removal than read his online platform.

    The Washington Times justified Garris’s account (I was the quoted insider):

    Mr. [Aaron] Russo, perhaps seeing another chance to annoy Mr. Kerry, ramped up his own antidraft rhetoric by saying that Mr. Kerry recently continued to use the pesky word “mandatory” in his description of student service at his campaign Web site.

    But as of yesterday, Mr. Russo said, the “mandatory” adjective was strangely missing from the account – though it still turned up in a check of the site’s archives. The disappearance is a mystery – “just another indicator of the flip-flop nature of John Kerry, perhaps,” one insider said.

    To expound on a point made by thousands of bloggers during the last presidential election cycle, the Internet is a very effective medium to immediately implement political change. I was advised by many Libertarians not to use military conscription as a political issue in the Russo campaign. Many thought the issue would go nowhere — but we turned it into an issue which both Bush and Kerry eventually had to face time and time again.

    Despite claims from the same newspaper that Russo followed Nader’s lead on combating the draft, Russo started the presidential level Internet buzz as early as January 2004. The level of rumors had really picked up by the time this article appeared at NewsMax. Continuing to hammer Kerry about his call for slavery mandatory service, we also corrected the historical revision made by the Times in this article.

    The Russo campaign kept applying pressure on Kerry about this issue until Russo lost his bid for nomination at the LP Convention. Wasting no time and taking advantage of the temporary disorganization in the Badnarik camp, Kerry immediately announced that he would add 40,000 new troops to the Army.

    Once his real campaign was off the ground, Badnarik started applying pressure to Kerry, who in turn applied pressure to Bush. The issue soon starting receiving major media coverage as a signicant campaign issue.

    At the same time Michael Badnarik was being arrested, both Bush and Kerry were forced to officially go on the record during their second debate:

    BUSH: We’re not going to have a draft so long as I am the president.

    KERRY: Daniel, I don’t support a draft.

    While the verdict is still out as to whether Bush will reinstate the draft, current resolve against the war makes it difficult for him to do so. Especially since we harnessed the libertarian power of the Internet to first expose and then exploit a major political issue.


    The Internet, Revolution and LSD: A Brief Review of a Recent Speech

    Al Gore can no longer justify his claim to have invented the Internet, as we now know the proper credit goes to 1960s counterculture icon and LSD advocate Timothy Leary. Or at least Leary accurately predicted what the Internet is currently on the edge of becoming:

    At the 1977 Libertarian Party Convention, mind-expansion advocate and LSD guru Timothy Leary gave a speech that few of us took very seriously. He spoke of something called the Internet, a network that would connect computers worldwide, allowing participants from around the globe to sign on and retrieve text, photographs, audio and video instantaneously, and to communicate in realtime with anyone in the whole world who also had a computer and a connection. He said that it would be the new revolution against the current social order and stifling status quo. He predicted it would be much, much bigger than drugs in its ability to overthrow the establishment. Whereas tuning in, turning on and dropping out had been of great interest to a somewhat narrow subset of the population, everyone would be able to use the Internet, in his own way, and thus the new revolution against the old order would transcend class, age, nationality and all other demographics. The bourgeois would have just as much interest and use for it as the so-called counterculture. And nothing would ever again be the same.

    As I said, no one at the time really believed it. We figured Leary had just done a little too much acid and his imagination had gotten the best of him. The network of information he described seemed totally impossible — and yet it exists, precisely as he predicted it, right now.

    …says Eric Garris, the libertarian technical genius behind and in a speech delivered last Saturday.

    As an outspoken advocate of using the Internet to create significant and meaningful political change, I find his speech perhaps the best I have ever heard or read on the topic. He provides a compelling argument that the Internet is truly “libertarianism in action” and provides examples from E-Bay, PayPal, Google, Adobe, and Wikipedia to prove his point.

    If you will pop back to HoT a bit later today, I’ll try to add a bit more to this review and fill in some relevant historical detail. In the meantime, I’d strongly recommend reading Garris’s article.

    UPDATE: Part Two is posted here.


    UN Declares Universal Ban on Revisionism

    I’m not a betting man, but I always thought that we’d lose the 2nd amendment well before we’d lose that dearly held one mentioning speech, press, and apparently religion. Either way, if we lost either, we’d all still lose. But at least I’d make some money on some side wagers to pay off the cops to not arrest me for emphatically saying “our administration is full of uncaring douche bags”. But then again, maybe they’d agree and let me off anyway.

    Well, the UN has decided to make things interesting. The simple ‘hate crime’ was so 90’s. On Nov 1st, they decided to kick it up a notch (their absurdity goes to 11) and pass what I believe is the first ‘thought crime’. The legislation? To make January 27th the “International Day of Commemoration in memory of the Holocaust.” Ok, that’s cool. Let them have their day in the sun. Fine. But there is a more sinister clause. The resolution:

    “Rejects any denial of the holocaust as a historical event, either in part or full”

    Woah woah woah – back up there fellas. They specifically decreed that they reject someone denying the holocaust happened? Most likely, this will blossom into a punishable offense. How absurd! What’s next? Is it going to be a crime to deny that God exists? What about making it a crime to believe OJ was guilty? How about believing that diet Dr. Pepper really doesn’t taste like regular Dr. Pepper? If given enough alcohol, I can also be persuaded to believe a lot of things! That is, of course, till the hangover kicks in.

    But denying something exists? So what! Well the problem is that some of these “revisionists” are getting deported back to Germany to either re-educate themselves or go to jail. Remember, Oceania is at war with Eurasia. It’s always been at war with Eurasia. And don’t you little bastards think otherwise, or we’ll jail you!

    This is not a question of whether these people are right or wrong, but if one can’t speak about it, then one can’t argue his case. If one can’t argue their case, then apparently truth is decided by legislators. Ugh…


    Campaign Finance Proposal

    Greg Newburn from Liberteaser has a novel approach to campaign finance reform:

    We all know that limits on campaign donations violate the First Amendment, and act as an “incumbent protection racket.” So we don’t want those. As such, here’s my plan: Remove all limits on donations to political campaigns. However, for every $100,000 an incumbent candidate spends above $1 million, that candidate’s personal income tax rate goes up 1%. Challengers can spend any amount they want, with no limits.

    Let me play devil’s advocate and say that the likely response would be that incumbent campaign money would be funneled into PACs. Of course this is all theoretical, so who cares about loopholes, really.

    I have to agree with the concept of his idea though, it should be harder to get reelected back to your job than to get it in the first place.

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