Author Archives: Michelle Shinghal

TerrorStorm Premier

My good friend and fellow libertarian chic, Elle, asked me to attend the Dallas premier of Alex Jones’ movie, “TerrorStorm” this past Saturday. I accepted. I am not a listener of Alex Jones, but had visited his Infowars site after my father told me of it. (I should mention that my father is not the man described in my bio, but he and I are quite close now that I am an adult.)

Elle and I arrived early and went to The Balcony for a drink. We had barely finished our drinks when we decided to go downstairs to enter the theater. I was blown away by the line waiting to enter. It was a very long line of people that fit into no certain camp. There were young professionals next to hippie types. There were old people talking to younger people. Republicans, Independents, Democrats and, of course, Libertarians. Most of us were Americans; all of us were hoping to glean some sort of truth from the chaos which seemed to have started on September 11, 2001.

Conspiracy theories are in fashion today, so please pardon me as I put on my Prada tin foil hat and officially jump on board. I am a “nut job” who believes that 9/11 was an inside job. I believe that the media barrage of unsubstantiated bullshit is purposeful in design. From the Miami 7 to the Michigan 3 to the Heathrow, what was it? Um, 17, 21? To the many recently diverted flights and biometric scanners at Knoxville- there is purposeful intent to intimidate people to disregard freedom in favor of state control. But, I knew and said that before Saturday.

Even with the slams I am sure to take for it, I am happy to proclaim “TerrorStorm” a well delivered message for our time. I encourage all of you to see it, buy it, and share it. I found it mostly historically factual. (Mostly only because I have not checked every single detail.) And, I am sorry to say, I have always mostly agreed with Rick Rajter on this issue, and did not speak up. Oh, I spouted off to friends, but it took me a while to get used to the “crazy” description. It took me some time, some books, and the review of hours worth of 9/11 footage to make this public. It took report after report of bullshit to remove the last of my blinders.

Orwell’s “1984″ is here- though 22 years late. Everyone is a potential terrorist. We were always at war. Speaking the Truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.

Thank God for revolutions. May a revolution of thought rain/reign (you pick the usage) on us now.

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Mr. Smith(er) Goes To Washington. (OK, we need your help for it to happen.)

There is a lot of talk today about Bob Smither and District 22. With Tom Delay’s withdrawal from the race, it is a two man fight- Democrat and Libertarian. The Libertarian Party candidate, Bob Smither, is counting on the largely Republican district for a victory.

Is Bob Smither the usual candidate? No, but that is what makes him perfect for this race. Think of it as a real life, modern day “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”. Libertarians are excluded in a purposeful manner by the duopoly now in charge of our lives. The ruling duopoly would have you think that libertarians are on the fringe of society- that is how they avoid real issues and perpetuate their attack on liberty. They want the voter to equate libertarians with Jimmy Stewart’s naive character. (Hopefully they have forgotten how the story goes just long enough to vote for freedom.)

That said, I have to admit that the LP’s bet on the largely Republican District 22 is not a bad wager. Republicans used to believe in small government and low taxes. (It is well noted that today’s Repubican Party knows nothing of the aforementioned ideas.) Libertarians are on board where those “out of fashion” ideals are concerned, but we go a step further. Libertarians believe in the inalienable right of self-ownership.

Mr. Smither takes on the “taboo” self-ownership issues in well mannered argument, and I believe that with an elected Mr. Smither, we will see true freedom on the near horizon. I do feel it necessary to say that Libertarians are not a version of Republicans; we are more a portrait of the Republic. Any freedom loving soul should be able to get on board with that. Party affiliation not required.

You can learn more about Bob here. If you would like to help spread the message, call 1-800-Elect-US or 202-333-0008. People will be working in the LP office over the weekend. If you call, please leave a message at EXT 232 so they can get you signed up for BallotBase.

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Dallas Gets Our Own Bomb Scare

The newest bomb scare had nothing to do with England, Miami or Michigan. The newest bomb threat was right here in Dallas. Learning the name of the young man with the bomb has proven difficult- because he is 9.

Yep, you heard me. The kid is 9. Dallas Police Department’s bomb squad secured and detonated the makeshift coffee can bomb which the boy said came from a friend at Kleberg Elementary. According to DISD spokesperson, Celso Martinez, disciplinary action against the 9 and 10 year old boys could be decided today.

I don’t know about you, but I want to feel safe in my city. I am calling for authorities to ban coffee cans and little boys. Nobody will be safe as long as little boys have imaginations. And thank God that I have the Dallas Morning News as my local paper. I appreciate getting real news like this. I am sooooo happy that they keep silly information like this from distracting me from local terrorism.

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Proof That Americans Have Short Attention Spans

A whole month ago, I wrote much about Abraham Cherrix. You remember, right? He was that kid who refused chemo to pursue alternative therapy. Reader’s Digest version is that the state stepped in and demanded that he submit to chemo. The state even divided custody between Social Services and Abraham’s parents. The matter was reversed by a judge and set for hearing August 16, 2006.

Well, today is August 16th. I had marked it in my calendar, but the funny thing is that I find hardly anything about it online. I saw a short blurb on the evening news, but the report may as well have been a Boy Scout recognition for the amount of time it was given. One exception is Homeland Stupidity. Dana over at Homeland Stupidity did a great job covering the story, so go look there for details. For the lazy version, here goes:

Abraham has a half-win. He gets to pick his own doc who specializes in both Oncology and alternative meds. Great for him- sort of. The bad news is that he must provide his treatment results to the court until he is 18. Big friggin whoop! He is still not free. He settled for the watered down scotch version of freedom. Worse news is that nobody cares anymore. Like all things in MSM, it is shock, awe and move on. And, the worst part is that America accepts that as journalism.

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Smither4congress.com

Stuart told us the other day that Bob Smither needs our phone calls. I just got online with the program and have been making some calls. I am quite impressed with how easy the program is to use. I am finding the information to be very accurate and the voters very receptive to my “telemarketing” type intrusion. In fact, the last home I called told me that they not only know about the Smither campaign, but the whole family plans to vote for him.

What we need right now (read: before Thursday) is 30 more people to make calls with us. If you have a computer, cell phone and a few free minutes, you can really do something to help District 22 realize a Libertarian victory.

C’mon guys, let’s put our cell phone minutes where are mouths are. I will see you online!

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More Molesting At The Terminal

In an effort to fight terrorism, many airports are considering use of a machine which would read and analyze biometric responses such as blood pressure, sweat and pulse rates. According to the Wall Street Journal, some Knoxville, TN passengers were selected to participate in a trial of such a machine.

With one hand inserted into a sensor that monitors physical responses, the travelers used the other hand to answer questions on a touch screen about their plans. A machine measured biometric responses — blood pressure, pulse and sweat levels — that then were analyzed by software. The idea was to ferret out U.S. officials who were carrying out carefully constructed but make-believe terrorist missions.

The TSA is being pretty tight lipped about the nature of the tests and questions but the WSJ reports that “the system is generally designed to measure physical responses to hot-button questions like “Are you planning to immigrate illegally?” or “Are you smuggling drugs.” Hmm, that sounds pretty terrorist related to me.

The method isn’t intended to catch specific lies, says Shabtai Shoval, chief executive of Suspect Detection Systems, the start-up business behind the technology dubbed Cogito. “What we are looking for are patterns of behavior that indicate something all terrorists have: the fear of being caught,” he says.

Now I am sure that terrorists fear getting caught, but what about those poor souls that have an honest fear of flying? What about those who have health issues that make it appear that they are fearful of being caught?

The TSA already has a human version of the test and deals with those very questions.

The people-based program — called Screening Passengers by Observation Technique, or SPOT — began undergoing tests at Boston’s Logan Airport after 9/11 and has expanded to about a dozen airports. Trained teams watch travelers in security lines and elsewhere. They look for obvious things like someone wearing a heavy coat on a hot day, but also for subtle signs like vocal timbre, gestures and tiny facial movements that indicate someone is trying to disguise an emotion.

“All you know is there’s an emotion being concealed. You have to find out why the emotion is occurring,” says Paul Ekman, a San Francisco psychologist who pioneered work on facial expressions and is informally advising the TSA. “You can find out very quickly.”

More than 80% of those approached are quickly dismissed, he says. The explanations for hiding emotions often are innocent: A traveler might be stressed out from work, worried about missing a flight or sad because a relative just died. If suspicions remain, the traveler is interviewed at greater length by a screener with more specialized training. SPOT teams have identified about 100 people who were trying to smuggle drugs, use fake IDs and commit other crimes, but not terrorist acts.

It seems to me that this is less about terrorism and more about policing human behavior. The saddest part is that this will likely be an implemented policy in the very near future and people will scream so much about saving just one life that many will accept it with open arms.

My own husband told me the other day that it is not my “right” to travel on American Airlines. Perhaps he is right. When I was studying for my private pilot’s license, he refused to fly with me. He hates small aircraft and he talked me out of completing my training as I was to solo. Well, I guess it is time to start flying again because I will refuse to fly with him on a commercial airline which demands me be treated like property. Or even worse, like a criminal.

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It Is Not So Bad To Be A Mouse

We have all been sent those inspirational emails. While well intended, they are generally a nuisance. They clog inboxes and usually distract from business at hand, but sometimes, there is a gem of a message contained in them. My friend Barbara sent me one such gem.

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package.

“What food might this contain?” The mouse wondered – he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning.

“There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”

The pig sympathized, but said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.”

The mouse turned to the cow and said, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”

The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap– alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house — like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.

The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught.

The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital and she returned home with a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.

But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer’s wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.

The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn’t concern you, remember — when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.

I think that this applies very well to the message libertarians are sending. We are like the mouse running around warning others that there is danger in our midst. The others may be Republicans, Democrats, Independents or the politically homeless. We warn everyday that there is a trap set for us and we get blow off “not my problem” sorts of responses.

We call for the end of the War on Drugs. We work toward preserving privacy, the fruits of our labors and freedom. We work toward peace by calling for non-interventionist foreign policy. We work toward minimal government. We know that an affront to the fundamental right of self-ownership is our mousetrap. For our efforts, we are (mis)labeled as druggies, wimps and nut jobs. I have seen comments from fellow libertarians that would indicate hope is nearly lost. They have heard the excuses from those warned and think we are better off buying gold, canned goods and ammo before we head to the hills. I hope it never comes to that, but if it does, libertarians will at least see it coming and be ready to fight it. And, like the little mouse in the story, we will live free of the trap.

When a building is about to fall down all the mice desert it. Pliny the Elder

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Stop Arresting Them Stupid

I love the New York Times, though admitting it here may be akin to screaming, “I love Satan” in the middle of a church. I think that the paper does a fairly decent job of reporting the news. I don’t care that people call it left leaning. It is, so what? With the NYT, I can get some national news coverage. My own city paper barely covers state events. In fact, the only thing my city paper is good at is omitting important information from its readers.

Anyway, the NYT reported today that the hardest part of prison is staying out. Duh. The article opens in Providence, RI and speaks of the issues facing parolees as they start their lives anew. The first person profiled was sent back to prison because she failed a urine screen,

In April, Debra Harris took her 15-year-old son along for what she thought was a final visit to her parole officer. Instead, because of a “dirty urine” test two weeks before, proof of her relapse to crack use, state troopers led her straight back to prison for three more months.

And then moves to,

The strains on families take many forms. Not far from the Harris household, Alberto Reyes, 27, a forklift operator, was put on probation last winter for burglary. But in March, Mr. Reyes failed to meet his parole officer and was sent to prison for three and a half months. Without his help, his girlfriend, who makes just $280 a week as a nurse’s aide, was left in desperate straits, he acknowledged, and had to rely on charity to get summer clothes for their baby.

Before moving here:

Erick Betancourt, 26, spent 2 years in prison for dealing crack and will be on probation for the next 10 years, leaving him vulnerable to confinement for any mistake. “Everybody you bump into is on probation or parole,” said Mr. Betancourt, who has landed a job counseling youths in the streets.

All of you know that I think drugs should be legal. You need only read the comments here to know that I experimented in my past. Drug use should not be a reason to put people in prison. In the case of Mr. Reyes, there was a crime committed against another person’s property. Under current law, he rightfully went to jail, though in a perfect world he would have paid for damages incurred by the person injured by his crime. I am not asking to debate the (de)merits of the “War on Drugs.” What I am wondering about today is the notion that once imprisoned for a crime; you are indeed property of the state.

I am thinking of old books. The ones in which a petty crook says, “I have paid my debt to society.”

I am thinking that we must overhaul not only the drug laws in this country, but the ones that dictate jail for any non-violent offender. We need to change laws that make former non-violent inmates continue to live as a criminals and we certainly need to overhaul laws that give Mr. Reyes an excuse to live apart from his partner and child. His girlfriend and child live in public housing and public housing policy prohibits a felon from living on premises. But, of course, I disagree with tax funded subsidized public housing. And that is a whole other libertarian issue, ain’t it?

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“Freedom to Fascism” Pulled From Dallas Theater

With bated breath, I have waited for Aaron Russo’s movie to come back to Dallas. The Angelika screened America: Freedom to Fascism several months ago. I was unable to obtain a ticket but have been watching the trailers posted across the Web. The movie was scheduled to open this weekend, again at the Dallas Angelika, but I could not view showtimes on the Angelika site. A quick phone call provided information that the film had been pulled by its distributor. There are no Dallas dates shown on the movie site, so I am wondering what happened. Do any of you guys know? In the meantime, I will breathe- blue is not a good color for me.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Politics and tech journalist Declan McCullagh has had his review up for a little while now. He’s far more gracious than the Onion AV Club, but still hints the direction of the film veers well into conspiracy territory and could use some better editing:

The problem, though, is that “America” never manages to do what a compelling documentary must accomplish: state a thesis and adequately defend it. More than half the movie is spent lauding the tax protest movement, including Russo’s sometimes-entertaining efforts to get the IRS to answer his questions–but then the focus abruptly shifts to RFID, NSA surveillance, national ID, President George H.W. Bush’s “new world order” speech and so on. Plus, the movie’s length is too much; Russo badly needs an editor.

Over at Third Party Watch, Cassidy tells us that even with such a limited opening, it’s playing to decent sized crowds but getting overwhelming bad reviews (11/14 reviews are splats according to Rotten Tomatoes).

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Why Libertarian In Texas?

I asked for help last week when KERA was on the fence about a debate invitation and you guys were amazing with your responses. I don’t know if Mr. Werner is going to be invited, but I was able to see his response to KERA’s questionaire. This was totally lifted from http://waxahachiedaily.blogspot.com/. Thanks to Jonathan Blundell for covering this in MSM. Some excerpts:

At this time, I plan to delay my response to this questionnaire.

During our telephone conversation of Friday, July 28th, you indicated that I was the only one of the five certified candidates for governor to be sent this questionnaire””and that I remain the sole candidate not to have yet received an invitation to the debate. In the interests of fairness and equity, I will allow the other candidates to be given the opportunity to answer this questionnaire as well. In the interim, I will look forward to receiving my own invitation to the debate.

On media interest:

Thus far, my candidacy has been noted in national publications as diverse as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle. I have been interviewed and/or extensively profiled by the San Antonio Express, the Dallas Morning News, the Austin Chronicle, Houston Business Connections, the Waxahachie Daily Light, The Austin American-Statesman, the Houston Chronicle, and other major Texas dailies. I have conducted lengthy on-air radio interviews with Jeff Ward of KLBJ Austin (with over 85,000 listeners), the Sam & Bob show at KVET Austin, Jeff Michaels of KUZN, and by KUT Austin. I have been interviewed by Channel 8 News in Austin, and Jacqueline Schechner of CNN for a story on Wolf Blitzer’s “Situation Room.”

On polling:

Finally, I would like to address the question you posed about poll results. You indicate that you would prefer to see me approach polling numbers of 6% in an “established, nonpartisan” poll. Happily, I received nearly 16% in Texas Monthly’s July 2006 on-line poll””a well established poll that has been run for many years. Another established on-line poll by the Victoria Advocate places me at 31% in a two-way matchup with Chris Bell. I believe that over time, my numbers will continue to rise with respect to Bell and the other candidates. As you are no doubt aware, many of the larger polls have neglected to include my name among their possible responses. Clearly it would not be reasonable to expect me to register substantial support in a poll in which my name is not included.

On the issues:

As you are aware, I am the only pro-immigrant candidate on the ballot. I am the only candidate who calls for an end to the destructive war on drugs. I am the only candidate who advocates ending state-sponsored discrimination against gays. I am the only candidate who calls for universal choice in education. And of course, I am the only true fiscal conservative.

I have been asked why I care so much about the Werner4Texas campaign. After all, there are two high profile independent candidates running in a five way race for Texas governor. In short, the Independents do not represent my views. Mr. Werner is certainly as qualified as the other candidates and he is working his tail off to promote liberty and the only party that cares about it. He is deserving of our support. If some libertarians are excited about the Kinky campaign simply because he is an Independent with “juice”, then perhaps they should rethink their positions on the issues.

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NOLA: The FCP Answer To The FSP

From NOLA.com:

“It is a pathetic and shameful state of affairs the criminal justice system finds itself,” Judge Arthur Hunter ruled from his bench at Criminal District Court on Friday after a hearing that Gov. Kathleen Blanco declined to attend, despite having been subpoenaed.

Governor Blameco Blanco refused to appear in court after being subpoenaed to testify about Judge Hunter’s release of defendants from Orleans Parish Jails. The issue at hand is some 6000 defendants in OPP; defendants denied the constitutional right to trial.

“After 11 months of waiting, 11 months of meetings, 11 months of idle talk, 11 months without a sensible recovery plan and 11 months of tolerating those who have the authority to solve, correct and fix the problem but either refuse, fail or are just inept, then necessary action must be taken to protect the constitutional rights of people,” Hunter said

Since Katrina, NOLA has lacked resources in the areas of jails and public defenders. But Judge Hunter has been involved with resources as well as constitution.

Hunter earlier this year ruled unconstitutional the way the state pays for public defense, a formula that relies heavily on court fees and traffic court fines. Nowhere else in the country does a criminal court system use such an inconsistent, unfair formula to pay for lawyers to represent the poor, said Ronald Sullivan, a Yale professor hired by the Indigent Defender Board to act as a consultant and all-purpose fixer for the system. Even pre-Katrina, OIDP did not provide the level of service that the Sixth Amendment commands,” Sullivan testified before Hunter. “OIDP today is at about half the capacity from its pre-Katrina days.” In another statement issued Friday, Hunter said that, with 6,000 cases looming, it is time for District Attorney Eddie Jordan to start “the process of determining which cases can be prosecuted.”

Hmmm, note to self: Tell Ash that her speed trap ticket fine will be used to fund a criminal’s public defender.

Sorry, back to biz…

Between ruined evidence, relocated cops and absent witnesses, there is little to hold some “criminals” in jail. Judge Hunter sees that. He called on state assistance. He got nothing, and he is doing the right thing. He is letting the “criminals” go.

Hunter made his emergency order and ruling during a four-hour morning session in his courtroom. His docket included the cases of six inmates — still the maximum number of jailed pretrial defendants allowed at one time in court due to security concerns since the courthouse reopened June 1.

When one inmate told Hunter he had been jailed for three months without arraignment, Hunter said, “I know. The criminal justice system is in question. You’re not the only one.”

In another case, prosecutors announced they were dropping a possession of crack cocaine charge against Lisa M. Monroe, 41, a woman with prior convictions for theft, forgery and cocaine possession. Monroe was arrested on the crack charge May 2 and has been in jail since.

Pipes dropped the charge and requested Monroe be released Friday.

“I wish you’d do that on about 5,999 cases,” Hunter replied.

New Orleans has a judge operating within constitutional boundaries. Half the city is gone. These things would make one think that a Free City Project might be more successful than a Free State Project- at least early on.

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HoT Readers: TX Needs Your Help

Televised Gubernatorial Debate Coming In October, and the Libertarian Party candidate may be excluded. KERA, the public station here, is undecided about inviting James Werner to participate in the scheduled debate. The article is pretty short so I will post a quick copy here:

A televised debate among candidates for Texas governor is set for 8 p.m. on October 5 in Dallas.

KERA public television spokesman Steven Anderson says the major gubernatorial candidates have been notified and he expects all will participate.

Aides say Democrat Chris Bell and independent candidates Kinky Friedman and Carole Keeton Strayhorn will take part. A spokesman for Republican Gov. Rick Perry says his campaign hasn’t decided yet on whether he’ll participate.

Anderson says organizers will use an established debate criteria to assess the Libertarian candidate’s campaign to determine if James Werner will be invited.

James Werner is certainly qualified for the position of governor. And, even if he weren’t, he is on the ballot and worthy of participation. I am begging our readers, on my knees if necessary, to email Mr. Anderson. I don’t know if he will listen, but if he does, we will be one step closer to a fair fight.

I promise to make it up to you!!!

Update: Deived pointed out the comments section on the KERA site. Click here to use their online form.

Update: There was a server issue and Mr. Werner’s site went down. It has been corrected. Visit www.werner4texas.com for more info.

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Adding Insult To Injury

A while back, I wrote about the awful circumstances at Memorial Medical Center during Hurricane Katrina. There was some talk about medical staff euthanizing patients, and I suggested that Louisiana turn the scrutiny from the staff to the state. Apparently nobody in LA law enforcement reads our blog. Warrants were issued for the arrests of Dr. Anna Pou, and nurses Lori Budo and Cheri Landry. The charges are:

Principal to Second Degree Murder, four counts, by intentionally killing four patients at Memorial Medical Center, New Orleans, LA, by administering or causing to be administered lethal doses of morphine sulphate (morphine) and midazolam (Versed), as defined in Louisiana Revised Statute 14:24 and 14:30.1.

I am not the only one outraged. These medical providers were working in war-like conditions. No electricity. No food. Shootouts in the street. Backed up sewage. No assistance. They stayed behind to care for the sickest patients, and this is how they are thanked? I think that every government agency that took tax money to fund inept agencies like FEMA should be named as co-defendants. Perhaps a jury would then come back with a not guilty verdict for the three people in this situation who actually did their jobs. And maybe then, the government can be held accountable.

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Is That Freedom Ringing?

Good news from the Abraham Cherrix saga! Accomack County Circuit Court Judge Glen A. Tyler ruled that Abraham does not have to report for treatment of his cancer as previously ordered. The judge also returned custody of Abraham to his parents. Unfortunately, this may be temporary.

Carl Bundick, an attorney for the department, told the judge the department would not object, provided a new trial takes place quickly. “What the department is interested in is this young man being cured of cancer,” Bundick said.

It is good to know where the state stands. Judge Tyler scheduled the trial to start August 16th. It may still be an uphill battle, but I am happy to see that there is a judge with some sense. And it is good to know that Abraham is free for now. You can get the latest from Abraham’s website.

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Coked Up Congressman? Nah, It’s Just a Joke.

Ok, this is not news, but it was too funny to pass up. Robert Wexler, a congressman from Florida, appeared on the Colbert Report and said, “I enjoy cocaine because it is a fun thing to do.”

From Yahoo News:

The Florida congressman who is unchallenged for re-election appeared on Colbert’s Comedy Central show and was asked to say a few things that would “really lose the election for you if you were contested.” Colbert asked the congressman to complete this sentence: “I enjoy cocaine because … ”

A bemused Wexler looked into the camera and said, “I enjoy cocaine because it’s a fun thing to do.”

A follow-up in the complete-the-sentence questioning led to this comment: “I enjoy the company of prostitutes for the following reasons … because it’s a fun thing to do. If you combine the two together, it’s probably even more fun.”

Congressman Wexler said that he did not regret his statement.

“I think it’s an important thing for members of Congress to be able to participate in a good-natured joke,” he said. “Everyone who watches the show knows that what is being said is a joke and that it’s about silly topics. I thought it was funny.”

I think VanDyke needs to check the site meter to find out who is on. It seems that the Dems may be reading HoT and stealing humor from the Doug Stanhope playbook.

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What Is Child Neglect?

Some things get under your skin and then you open your eyes and see injustice everywhere. For me, the most recent is the Abraham Cherrix case. For those of you who haven’t heard of him, Abraham is the young man recently ordered by a court to submit to chemotherapy against his will. I have been quite upset about this case. Whether or not one agrees with this young man’s course of treatment, it must be recognized that the state is overstepping its authority. The state charged his supportive parents with neglect and wriggled into their lives as a joint custodial entity. The Cherrix ordeal was the eye opener for me, and the brick in the head was the NYT Magazine article about Marie (not her real name), her five children and the Stamford, CT Department of Children and Families.

A year ago, Marie’s children were taken from her based on allegations of neglect. The DCF recently petitioned to terminate Marie’s rights as a parent and they have found potential adoptive parents for Marie’s boys. The Cherrix family seems to be a solid family while Marie is a former drug abuser. The Cherrix case is different from Marie’s, but neglect allegations link them in a war over parental rights. They are just two of the many American families fighting the system over subjective definitions of neglect.

On the surface, Marie’s case may seem like a slam dunk. At birth one of her children tested positive for marijuana and another tested positive for marijuana and cocaine. She is a single mother and her five children have three different fathers. She is married to the father of two of her children, but he was deported to the Dominican Republic. She dropped out before she made it to high school, and lives on state assistance. None of this makes for an ideal parenting situation, but Marie has been clean for the last year. Hair and urine tests show no relapses. She has gone through mandated parenting courses. Her home is “spic and span” according to one social worker, and her kids seem to love her, flaws and all. And her flaws seem to be many. She is, in fact, pregnant with her sixth child. The DCF recently petitioned to take that child too.

Daniel Bergner, the author of the NYT Magazine piece, was very thorough in his research. He covered the start of the “social engineering” project that gave birth to agencies like the DCF. It is not my intention to rewrite an excellent article. I merely want to bring to light how much control the state has over our families. I would never advocate irresponsible behavior during pregnancy. If you are pregnant and plan to carry to term, it is unwise to consume drugs. According to UCSB’s sexinfo website, there are many drugs that can harm a fetus in utero. Antibiotics and Accutane make the list, yet we never hear of children taken from their families over them. The public would go nuts over that.

Mr. Bergner’s interview with a law professor netted a very insightful observation:

I believe in the golden rule,” said Martin Guggenheim “” the N.Y.U. law professor, who represented hundreds of kids in juvenile-delinquency, child-protection and T.P.R. cases as a legal-services attorney “” when I described Marie’s situation. “Test this case against what we would want for our own families.” He spoke about race and class and suggested that we substitute someone influential for Marie and painkillers for cocaine. “If we imagine it was substances that important people use, we can’t imagine that we would be taking those children.”

We need to stand up and get the state out of our families. If we opt to take children away from families over what is essentially a morality war on some drugs, we will only have to wait a few years to see children taken from mothers who smoke or drink caffeine during their pregnancies. Marie was not acting in the healthiest manner by consuming drugs during her pregnancy, but how much do the moral busybodies in this country wish for her and her children to endure?

Did I mention that Marie’s 16 year old son ran away from the DCF and has not been found? Or that Marie, realizing that Connecticut is trying to take her unborn child without regard to her efforts, decided to have the baby in New York? I disagree with many of Marie’s actions. She and her children should not have depended on the state for financial benefits. She should not have used drugs during her pregnancy. I agree with her decision to flee. She may never again see her oldest son, but her flight has given her an opportunity to be a mother to her youngest. Perhaps she will forge a bond strong enough to break her cycle of dependence. A bond strong enough to give her courage to fight for the children that Connecticut stole from her.

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Live Free You Are State Property

It is official. You do not own your body. You can be told where to smoke. You are told what drugs are prohibited. Some politicians are trying to tell you what foods to eat. If all this weren’t bad enough, a judge ruled yesterday that you can be forced to undergo medical treatment you might otherwise decline.

A week ago, I talked a little about Abraham Cherrix. Abraham has cancer and had opted for alternative therapy. The omnipotent state stepped in, awarded joint custody to itself and ordered that the young man submit to tests. Friday’s decision goes further and orders that the young man receive the treatment his doctor wishes to administer. Some people thought that I was a granola eating nut job when I first brought the issue to HoT. They must have skimmed over the part of my last piece that said that the young man’s alternative therapy had not been proven efficacious. Some people missed the point that this young man and his family should be left alone to pursue health in whatever manner they choose- this is not the state’s business.

I am now wondering what other kinds of court orders might come down to save us from ourselves. Married couple required to use condoms because she is a genetic carrier for NF. Forced HPV vaccinations for anyone who is sexually active? Forced workouts for anybody more than 20 pounds overweight? It’s coming. And when it arrives in full force, you can kick your own ass for dismissing libertarians’ slippery slope comments.

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White Lines…

Libertarians are not drug addicted burnouts, but we are often harsh critics of the “war on drugs.” I said, publicly and recently, that I am not opposed to legalizing drugs. I said that our “war on drugs” is a resource draining initiative. I have seen lives destroyed over a weekend of partying. And I have seen lives destroyed when overzealous officers wish to keep funding. Recent news lines include articles that read: Meth still No. 1 drug problem. And more recent news tells us that cocaine seizures are largest ever in Dallas.

Officers are hailing two drug busts that netted about 654 pounds of cocaine as the largest such seizures in Dallas police history, worth an estimated $13.3 million on the street.

654 pounds is nearly five of me. That is a lot of blow. If it is real. Maybe I am cynical, but I just don’t see somebody meandering through Dallas streets with > $1M uncovered in the bed of a pickup. Let’s face it; the war on drugs has made drug dealing a VERY profitable business, and dealers are much smarter than getting busted with that much inventory. I want to see that it is 654 pounds of coke, but it will take lab tests to show me that DPD is not trying to steal my cash.

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Online Gaming Dealt A Bad Hand

I like movies like “Ocean’s 11.” Obviously the eye candy is top rate, but I have always found it interesting that a thief will put more time, effort and resource into the big score than he will into honest work. Reading the news this morning, I see that life imitates art. Yesterday, eleven people were charged with conspiracy, racketeering and fraud. Who did they allegedly swindle? The American government. They are charged because they run online gambling sites that accepted online bets from Americans. The American government wants a piece of the pie. A $4.5 billion piece.

The American government has been slowly chipping away at the internet. These gambling companies are set up in other countries and most are run by people who do not live in the US.

Several of the defendants live outside the United States, which will make them hard to catch, said U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway in St. Louis. Among those who live abroad is Gary Stephen Kaplan, the founder of BetOnSports, which is incorporated in the United Kingdom and listed on the London Stock Exchange.

$4.5 billion worth of cash, cars and property is a pretty big deal. I guess that is why they tracked these people down and arrested them at airports. Funny, they never enforced my child support order. You would think that if our government was as concerned about the children as they tell us, they would get serious about deadbeat parents behind on support payments. Why do honest work for me, a taxpayer? If you just arrest and charge the CEOs of legal, foreign companies that make their earnings by providing a service that people obviously want, you may end up with a much bigger payday. If they get away with this, online porn sites will follow. Internet regulation is on its way and the march is led by the thieves in the American government.

UPDATE by Michael Hampton: BetOnSports’ CEO David Caruthers was arrested Sunday night in Dallas while he was changing planes on a trip from a business meeting in the UK to his home in Costa Rica. The crackdown begins

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What Does Bush Really Think?

In an unintentionally broadcasted conversation, Bush told Blair that Syria should press on Hezbollah “to stop doing this shit.” Yahoo News reported on the comments this morning, but I thought that I would give you a taste here.

“What about Kofi Annan? I dont like the sequence of it. His attitude is basically ceasefire and everything else happens,” said Bush.

“What does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine, if he gets a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way, he’s done it. That’s what this whole thing’s about. It’s the same with Iran,” added Blair.

But Blair also cautioned that “the thing that is really difficult is you can’t stop this unless you get this international presence agreed,” an apparent reference to the G8 leaders’ call for UN consideration of an international security force in Lebanon.

Bush said he wanted to tell “Kofi to get on the phone with (Syria President Bashar al) Assad and make something happen. We’re not blaming Israel and we’re not blaming the Lebanese government.”

I think it is great that we are able to hear the private thoughts of the president. It kind of makes me feel even about that phone tapping garbage.

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My First Time

It is not often that libertarians are invited by MSM to share their views. When we are invited, producers usually do what they can to make us look like asses. That is why I was surprised when Wes Benedict (LPTX executive director) called and asked me if I could do an interview at WBAP. I gave Scott Crowder a call and asked him what his angle was. I was not at all excited about being thrown under a bus. Mr. Crowder assured me that this was not a mean spirited piece and that he is also a libertarian. I agreed to the interview and met with him at the studio last Thursday.

I have been reluctant to share this online because I was worried that I would sound like an idiot. It is quite intimidating to have a mic in your face for the first time. ESPN ran the segment this morning and I now am not too worried about sharing with you guys. Like most first times, it wasn’t great, but I am excited to get us 25 minutes of air. You can catch the interview at WBAP tonight at 8 central. Tune in if you are able. And if Scott Crowder happens to be reading, thank you to him.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: For anyone interested in listening to the interview, Mike Nelson recorded it an it’s now archived here as an MP3. A very good interview in my view, with a very sympathetic host who openly supported Michelle during the whole thing.

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Louisiana’s Newest Dumb Idea

You would think that Louisiana has a lot on its plate right now. I mean they are heading into hurricane season and they still haven’t recovered from Katrina. Forget the levees and FEMA mobile home lots, a more pressing matter is ticketing drivers who smoke in a car in which children under 12 are passengers. House Bill 1010, introduced by Gary Smith of Norco, was signed by Governor Blameco er, Blanco. Violation of the new legislation, which goes into effect August 15th, would result in a fine of up $150 or a minumum of 24 hours community service.

I know Norco well. It is in the parish I grew up in. St. Charles Parish is a laid back, drink beer on the porch (or a bass boat) with your neighbor kind of place. I can’t imagine how Mr. Smith thought up this horseshit. With Shell Norco burping out toxins all day long, I wonder how a little second hand smoke became even a blip on the radar of the nanny state. (I should mention that I am not implying that Shell is guilty of any wrongdoing.) This is either an attempt to wriggle into people’s homes (for the sake of the children) or an attempt to give an officer cause to pull over more vehicles for reasons much worse than I care to imagine right now.

Whatever the motivation, the law is shit. Now, if you will excuse me, I must go call the smokers in my family. They don’t have long to change their habits and somehow I just don’t see Dad doing community service.

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Starchild the Courtesan?

starchildphoto.jpgIn Las Vegas, those who work in the world’s oldest profession are demanding respect, and they seem to have found a natural spokesperson in our Starchild. Yahoo news reports that escorts and strippers marked the end of a three day conference on the steps of the Las Vegas courthouse. They were there to protest new antihuman trafficking laws that they say restrict their freedoms. They also called for decriminilization and better working conditions for those in the trade. Prostitution is legal in certain areas of Nevada, but activists say more can be done.

“We just want the government off our backs,” said Starchild, adding he used the conference to link up with other sex workers interested in restoring the “spirituality and dignity” the profession enjoyed in Elizabethan England.

I would say they certainly have a voice with Starchild on their side. While I have not personally met Starchild, I know from Stephen Gordon that he is a lover of liberty. And he does seem to get around. He was at the LP convention last month and in Vegas now. Dressed as Lady Liberty at the convention he carried liberty’s flame. On courthouse steps, he became part of liberty’s fire. Hell, if you can get a 76 year old quilting expert to leave her conference and join yours — carrying a banner that reads, “Support your local sex worker” — you have to be doing something right.

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