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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    McCain Slams GOP: “Lost Our Way as a Party”

    Senator John McCainArizona Senator John McCain, along with fellow-Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, unleashed on the Republican Party today, noting their shortcomings and saying that there was little to differentiate between them and Democrats when it came to massive federal spending:

    “I think if this were not an odd-numbered year, we would have great difficulties,” said U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

    […] “If the election were tomorrow, we’d be in trouble,” agreed Graham, who said the party must work to cut spending.

    “If we really want to do well in 2006, we need to have fiscal discipline like Republicans campaigned on,” he said. “We have lost our way as a party. Our base is deflated and taxpayers don’t see any difference between us and the Democrats.”

    Graham said the party has to again reach the voters.

    “You don’t have to stop being conservative, you got to start connecting,” he said, adding “we need to adjust and if we don’t adjust, we’re going to be in trouble.”

    With both Republicans and Democrats getting burned in recent polls, it may already be too late to turn the ship around for the GOP. McCain, on the short-list for possible 2008 presidential candidates, may be better off defecting to a third party in 2008, considering his views on spending and limited government may be closer to that of the Libertarian Party or Constitution Party.


    Russia’s New Nuke may Nerf U.S. Missile Defense

    Russian warhead (file photo)Last November, Russian president Vladimir Putin promised a warhead that according to analysts would be “capable of defeating any space-based defense system.” In a recent flight test of a new warhead, Putin delivered on that promise with new technology that allows the warhead to change course during flight. From the Washington Times:

    The missile booster fired for a shorter-than-usual duration in placing the dummy warhead and re-entry vehicle into space. The warhead then dropped down to a lower trajectory and was able to maneuver.

    Kremlin officials were quoted in Russian press reports as saying the new warhead was designed to thwart the new U.S. missile-defense system of interceptors deployed in Alaska and California.

    The U.S. missile defense shield has been under scrutiny in the past for budget overruns and failure to hit even non-maneuvering target missiles. However, the recent news indicates that the whole endeavor may have been for naught — as the Russian response may spark a new anti-missile arms race.

    The estimated cost of running the defense program was last fingered at $830 million per month.

    Previously on Hammer of Truth:
    Missile Defense Test Fails . . . Again
    Pentagon: These Missiles were made for Launching…
    Missile Defense Test Thwarted by… Clouds?
    Russia: Putin Hedging Bets with New Nuke Program


    Dubya Finally Finds Some Kindred Spirits

    With the continuing decline in his domestic approval ratings, one should not be surprised by news reports coming from Mongolia indicating Bush’s popularity with the locals. The Australians already know his game, and report that he skipped out of Rosa Parks’ recent funeral in order to escape being booed.

    The International Herald Tribune reports it this way:

    ULAN BATOR, Mongolia — If you are an American president in need of just a few hours of temporary political asylum – no debate about Iraq, no Chinese leaders stiff-arming the U.S. agenda, and plenty of adulation – here is the solution: Come to the endless steppes that Ghengis Khan made famous.

    For those not up on their history, Wiki provides us with this refresher course:

    Destruction and effects on civilians

    Genghis preferred to offer opponents the chance to submit to his rule without a fight, but was merciless if he encountered any resistance: in such cases he would mercilessly attack the population of the resisting cities leaving engineers, submitted troops, artists, spies and human shields to survive. There also were instances of mass slaughters even where there was no resistance, especially in Northern China, where the vast majority of the populations had long histories of accepting nomadic rulers.

    Genghis’ conquests were characterized by wholesale destruction on an unprecedented scale and radically changes in the demographics of Asia. Over much of Central Asia Indo-European Persian-speakers were replaced by Turkic speakers. According to the works of Iranian historian Rashid al-Din, the Mongols killed over 70,000 people in Merv and more than a million in Nishapur. China suffered a drastic decline in population. Before the Mongol invasion, China had 80 million inhabitants; after the complete conquest in 1279, the census in 1300 showed it to have roughly 60 million people. How many of these deaths were attributable directly to Genghis and his forces is unclear.

    One might think that Dubya and Genghis have a lot in common, such as their love of empire or general ruthlessness. There are some striking differences between the two, though. To begin, Kahn’s military personnel file is significantly more complete than Bush’s, with no one year gap in his Air Guard Calvary service records. Additionally, Genghis Kahn had a true love of horses, unlike the American fake tin star president. As reported in the International Herald Tribune article:

    Gift horse? No thanks.

    Bush may love Texas, and love his ranch, as he reminded Mongolians Monday when he stood in their Parliament and compared their land to his. But his enthusiasm does not extend to another Mongolian passion – horses.

    When the U.S. defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was here a month ago, the Mongolians presented him with their highest honor: a beautiful gelding that he named Montana. When the White House caught wind of this tradition, they knew they would have to head it off at the pass, so to speak. “There aren’t any horses at the Bush ranch,” one of his aides noted. “At least none that he rides.”

    Despite the common history of ruthless empire building, it seems that even the Mongols could begin to hate Bush as much as we do when they get to know him a little better.


    Know your Exits: Bush’s Door Gaffe

    Bush presidency definedA press conference in China turned humorous Sunday when Bush was unable to escape tough questions by simply walking out of the room. After being irked by one reporter who asked if he was “off his game” and requested a follow-up, Bush responded “No you may not,” and turned to a pair of double doors stage left. Problem was, both doors were locked (video link, high quality vid).

    The president, aware of the obvious humor, stood comically still for a moment in front of the gathered reporters before saying “I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn’t work.”

    Normally, this would merit a chuckle at our not-so-suave-in-chief, but the phrase “exit strategy” just seems to fly out of everyone’s mouth. Now, I’m not one to try and draw some parallel between Iraq and this event, but this just strikes me as a Gerald Ford falling down the airplane stairs moment.

    Will this event become the historic caricature of the Bush presidency?

    Update: I imagine the caricature version would be something similar to the humorous Saturday Night Live Funhouse skit cartoons. Audio is from some random old Bush speech about staying the course in Iraq. On screen, he tries various methods of opening the door (from putting a foot up on the other door and yanking on it violently to chopping on it with an ax to the crescendo of blowing the door up with dynamite).

    And speaking of SNL, be sure to watch this weekend’s opening skit and Weekend Update.


    Donald Trump for President

    Donald TrumpA recent post by Jake Porter got me thinking. Ross Perot might be out, but Donald Trump seems like a suitable replacement.

    Trump on Iraq and Osama:

    “What was the purpose of the whole thing?” Donald Trump asks in an Esquire interview. “Hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and no legs?”

    “Tell me, how is it possible that we can’t find a guy who’s 6-foot-6 and supposedly needs a dialysis machine?” Trump said. “Can you explain that one to me? We have all our energies focused on one place – where they shouldn’t be focused.”

    That same article suggests Trump is a Republican, but his donations to Democrats trumps those to Republicans by a small margin. Personally, I think he would make an excellent Libertarian candidate.


    $500 Million Tax Dollars to “Secure” Sahara Desert

    A mere $500 million will be spent to make us all safe from the Sahara Desert:

    The U.S. government will spend $500 million over five years on an expanded program to secure a vast new front in its global war on terrorism: the Sahara Desert.

    Critics say the region is not a terrorist zone as some senior U.S. military officers assert. They add that heavy-handed military and financial support that reinforces authoritarian regimes in North and West Africa could fuel radicalism where it scarcely exists.

    I wonder which of Bush’s cronies will be the recipients of this huge waste of money.


    Rumsfeld Reports, You Decide

    According to this report (audio available), Donald Rumsfeld claims that the treatment political prisoners detainees receive in Guantanamo Bay is both excellent and professional.

    DONALD RUMSFELD: The situation in Guantanamo Bay has been looked at by literally hundreds of journalists, by hundreds of members of the United States House and Senate, by the International Committee for the Red Cross, which has been there since the outset, and has in fact physically been located there during much of the period.

    Uniformly people who go there come away saying that it is being handled in a highly professional manner and that the treatment that’s being provided people in Guantanamo Bay is excellent.

    In this context, my definition for uniformly means loddy doddy everybody. To the best of my knowledge, Rustam Akhmiarov is indeed a somebody, and ISN tells his tale:

    Ahmiarov said he was studying Arabic at the Islamic university in Karachi when he was picked up by the Pakistani police and imprisoned. He claimed he was given no explanation for his arrest and no official charges were brought against him.

    After three weeks, he claimed, he was handed over to US officials for a sum of US$5,000. He said he was then taken to Kandahar in Afghanistan where he spent six months in what he described as a “concentration camp”, and was later allegedly transferred to Guantanamo for a further 18 months.

    He told ISN Security Watch he was kept in solitary confinement for months on end and interrogated on an almost daily basis.

    “All they wanted me to do was to confess to being a member of al-Qaida, or incriminate someone else,” he said.

    Ahmiarov claimed he was subjected to a variety of torture techniques, including the administration of mind-altering drugs.

    “I was beaten, and I saw other people being beaten. I was subjected to torture by cold and by insomnia, and by mind-changing medicines, and dogs as well,” he claimed.

    Eventually Akhmiarov was turned over to Russian authorities and released, as no evidence was found against him.

    To give Rummy the benefit of the doubt, let’s consider his complicity in the Abu Ghraib tortures. Perhaps by Rumsfeld’s standards Dr. Mengele was truly “professional”, and the medical care he provided was indeed “excellent”.


    “Libertarian” the In Vogue Adjective

    On the radio, the TV and throughout the blogosphere I have noticed an increase in the use of the word “Libertarian.” But, it seems that whenever the word is used it is to associate the political philosphy with some other THING. On the radio I heard someone being referred to as a “CIVIL Libertarian.” On TV a few days ago someone pointed out that the perspective of one commentator was “Libertarian THINKING.” I read articles about Scalito’s “Libertarian STREAK” and then there is the “Libertarian WING” of conservatism.

    I find it curious that media personalities toss around the “L” word to describe characteristics of conversation or to label specific aspects of their idealogy and not as a reference to the philsophy as a whole.

    When and why did “Libertarian” become such a popular adjective?! Does this use of “Libertarian” hurt or help the party’s constant effort to “get the word out?”

    I do find some satisfaction when the politicking pundits use my party’s label as a reference to behavior or actions that reflect the Constitution. Then again (putting on foil cap) the conspiracist in me feels that the Democrats and Republicans are slinging the “L” word around to suade anyone considering the Libertarian party that they share the same political beliefs… maybe that’s just me.


    Marijuana Deranged Pit Bulls Injure Six

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

    This is not a joke. From the Chicago Tribune:

    Toxicology tests are being done on the bodies of three pit bulls shot after they mauled two children and four adults to determine if the dogs ingested marijuana found inside their owner’s home, authorities said Tuesday.

    The dogs’ owner, Scott Sword, 41, of the 6600 block of Hawthorne Drive near Cary, has been charged with felony possession of marijuana and misdemeanor production of marijuana plants, said McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nygren.

    On Nov. 5 police handling the dog attack found five harvested marijuana plants growing in Sword’s back-yard garden and more than 30 grams of marijuana in his home,Nygren said.

    The dogs, which were killed by police, were sent to a veterinary laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where they are being tested for drugs, specifically marijuana, said Edin Mehanovic, the county’s animal control administrator.

    If the dogs ate marijuana, police want to know if it may have contributed to their vicious behavior.

    The only joke is that the Reefer Madness Syndrome is still alive and well in the United States. That is unless “killer weed” caused the dogs to get the munchies and chase after a bag of human Fritos.



    Litigious Society: Not so Fast Mr. Balko

    Radley Balko of The Agitator has an otherwise good post up detailing the scandal of how a couple was raided by SWAT after being tipped off by an feuding family member. It’s pretty screwed up how the police warrant-shopped around until they could get the raid approval. On that, Balko is — as usual — on top of his game. What’s problematic is his litigious solution:

    Here’s hoping the Davises get at least the $12.5 million the Gallardos got. Perhaps a bankruptcy will convince North Richland Hills’ inept public officials to a) exercise some oversight over its jacked-up police department, b) rethink the policy of sending the SWAT team after nonviolent offenders, and c) put some accountability mechanisms in place when things go wrong in the future.

    No Treason chimes in by noting the money isn’t free:

    Why would that work? The money won’t be coming out of the pockets of these people, it will of course be paid out of tax revenues. And a public bankruptcy won’t show up on their individual credit reports.

    I was instantly reminded of a recent South Park episode on litigation (sexual harassment lawsuits), but the moment of clarity sums it up nicely (and humorously):

    [The courthouse. Closing arguments begin.] […]
    Petey, the Sexual Harassment Panda: Listen to me: when you sue somebody, it hurts everyone. You sue for money, but where do you think that money comes from? From the schools, from taxes, from the state. From you. [The courtroom is silent, listening] There’s no such thing as free money. When you sue somebody, you take money away from parks and schools and charities, and put it in your own pocket. And that makes me a sa-a-a-a-ad panda. [reactions are seen in the faces of various people in the courtroom, even in Gerald’s face.]

    Bearded man: I’m a sad panda, too.

    Man 1: I’m a really sad panda. I didn’t know we were doing all that damage. This is all that damn lawyer’s fault! [people get angry at Gerald Broflovski, Kyle’s dad]

    Man 2: [rises] Yeah! Let’s sue the lawyer!

    All: [rising] Yeah!

    Gerald: [approaches Petey and the boys] No! Don’t you see? Th-the panda’s right. Boy, what a great message he has! When you sue people, you just end up causing a lot of problems for society. Uhwell, I’ve really learned something today. All I could see was the millions of dollars coming to me and I didn’t care about where the money came from. Well, I’m no longer doing sexual harassment lawsuits in schools! They’re too vague and two easily corruptible. Thank you, Sexual Harassment Panda!

    Petey: “Don’t Sue People” Panda.

    Gerald: Yeah, well, whatever, sooo let’s sue anyone again. Okay, come on, guys. Let’s go get some ice cream!

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    West Virginia: Drunk with Power

    West Virginia grain alcohol banWest Virginia banned high-proof grain alcohol sales this week, citing bogus concerns by college officials that can be summed up by simply saying they don’t think people should be able to get drunk on the cheap (“you’ll notice that people don’t drink grain at a cocktail party”). Forget that college is where most people learned the Zen of Ramen noodles and note that they didn’t cite any actual cases of abuse.

    Rogier van Bakel of Nobody’s Business retorts on the ban:

    I’m sure it’ll be a terrible blow to college bars and frathouses everywhere, because now the kids have nothing to get drunk on. Except gin, vodka, bourbon, Jaegermeister, and about ten thousand other widely available alcoholic beverages.

    Yeah, but now they’ll have to actually go buy a cleaning agent to remove the permanent marker scribbilings off their buddy in the morning.


    Who Really Owns the Internet?

    It is almost as if recent headlines are holding a conversation. PCWorld asks, “Who’s Running the Internet?”

    “US Retains Control of Internet – for Now” is the answer provided by CNSNews.

    The immediate issue at stake was whether the United Nations should wrest control of Internet domain names from ICANN, but seriously deeper issues were being debated, too. From CNSNews:

    In an outcome that has drawn mixed reactions, more than 170 governments at a U.N. summit in Tunisia have agreed to leave the U.S. effectively in control of managing the Internet, while also setting up a new Internet Governance Forum (IGF) to enable governments, businesses and other “stakeholders” to discuss public policy issues.

    In response to the control issue, the LA Times is not in total agreement:

    Not that the federal government wields much power over the Net. Its influence is essentially confined to the mundane but important issue of how domain names are assigned.

    The BBC sees it differently, though:

    In the days leading up to the Tunis summit, the US had loudly indicated that it was not prepared to make concessions.

    Indeed, it adopted a very hard line by even questioning its commitment to independence for country-code domains such as Britain’s .uk domain.

    Without a credible threat, the US was able to maintain its position and ultimately force everyone else to deal.

    To be quite clear, any government (or private entity for that matter) has the ability to establish its own “Internet”, either by using the current technical protocols or by establishing new ones. There are no technological or significant economic constraints prohibiting any country or transnational group of people from seceding from the ICANNet. The obvious downside to such a secession would be the loss of benefits derived from association with the larger body — but that is always the price to be paid with any secession attempt, be it interpersonal, technical or governmental.

    While I’ve certainly had some problems with ICANN over the years, the surrender of Internet name and numbering control to the United Nations is indeed scary. They managed to sneak in a new bureaucracy at this summit. As with all Leviathans, one can expect the IGF not only to discuss, but also to eventually regulate public policy issues. Any such regulation will necessarily mean a loss of freedom on the Internet. The BBC column clearly indicates one dismal future view of international Internet regulation:

    Not only does the Tunis agreement address many global concerns, but it also points to the future of the internet governance debate.

    Armed with these provisions, countries will look to the newly established governance forum as the venue to raise grievances and pursue continued reform.

    Although the US suggests that the governance forum is non-binding and relatively powerless, it actually appears to look much like WSIS itself.

    Both are multilateral, multi-stakeholder, non-binding, UN created, and able to address a wide range of internet and technology policy issues.

    Notwithstanding its limitations, WSIS succeeded in putting internet governance squarely on the map.

    As its obvious successor, the governance forum has the potential to emerge as the platform to allow for a continued emphasis on internet regulation concerns.

    Delegates may have resolved the issue for now, but the debate appears to be far from over.

    The implications are Orwellian, at best. Little Brother is already burdensome with respect to Internet regulation, and the global community wants place all the power in the benevolent hands of Big Brother. To turn even a miniscule amount of control over to the UN is tantamount to allowing Kofi Annan to take just a little bit of one’s virginity.

    While ICANN may have a limited amount of control over how we arrive at our favorite Internet destinations, we go there voluntarily and they have no control over the content once we get there. To conclude the conversation between headlines, the LA Times could not have stated it better when it said, “Hands off the Net”!


    Where’s Ross Perot?

    We had Michael Badnarik in 2004, but nobody listened. How many more times will you vote for big government before you wake up and say no more.

    Walker’s not the only one saying it. As Congress and the White House struggle to trim up to $50 billion from the federal budget over five years – just 3% of the $1.6 trillion in deficits projected for that period – budget experts say the nation soon could face its worst fiscal crisis since at least 1983, when Social Security bordered on bankruptcy.

    Without major spending cuts, tax increases or both, the national debt will grow more than $3 trillion through 2010, to $11.2 trillion – nearly $38,000 for every man, woman and child. The interest alone would cost $561 billion in 2010, the same as the

    Read full story.

    Update by Stephen VanDyke: Shane Cory writes:

    I know it’s just a title for your site’s latest entry but Ross Perot has dropped out of politics for good. I spoke with Russ Verney a few weeks ago and Ross has created a private hospital to treat Iraq war veterans that the government was failing to assist.

    Here’s a link to an older story about Perot being honored for his assistance of Vietnam Veterans.


    Bipartisan Bickering Leads to More Deaths in Iraq

    While Democrats and Republicans continue their petty bickering, Americans continue to die in Iraq. Both sides had the opportunity to vote on a withdrawal resolution offered by Democratic Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania. Hoping to embarrass the Democrats, Republicans took Murtha’s resolution and basically stripped it down to the following words, “It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.”

    The AP reported:

    House Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, said the resolution was intended “to make sure that we support our troops that are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    Not to be outdone, Pelosi decided to continue increasing the amount of body bags flown back from Iraq:

    For those reasons, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent word to the rank-and-file to vote with the Republicans against immediate withdrawal of American troops.

    While the wording of the resolution is in keeping with the views of a majority of Americans, both major parties sent their message loudly and clearly to the American people: We don’t care if your children continue to die in Iraq, so long as we don’t lose any political power.

    According to the BBC:

    Stephen Hess is another renowned Washington scholar who has served on the White House staffs of Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, and advised Presidents Ford and Carter.

    He says the current level of argument has reached a “miserable point”.

    “One side says ‘you are liars’, the other says ‘you are traitors’ – it doesn’t move the debate very far,” he told the BBC.

    My observation is that the lines are blurred, and there is no real difference between those called liars and those called traitors.

    UPDATE: Sen. John Kerry continues the bipartisan battle of sound-bytes while continuing to support our continued presence in Iraq. ABC News reported just today:

    Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., says U.S. troops do not necessarily need to be pulled out of Iraq right away, as a senior Democrat suggested this week, but they need more leadership from the Bush administration.

    “What we need is a little more commander-in-chief, and a little less campaigner-in-chief,” Kerry said in an exclusive interview on “Good Morning America Weekend Edition.”

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