Author Archives: Stephen Gordon

About Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

HoT Blamed for Shutting Down TABC Arrests

At least one Texan sticks up for the recent actions of the TABC. Bud Kennedy wrote:

But I also think a lot of computer geeks are having way too much fun ripping the TABC for enforcing the long-standing Texas law against being drunk in a public place or business.

Just because it’s the law doesn’t make the law right, Bud. What if they had a law which preemptively incarcerated people in the obvious high risk group of those having the last name Kennedy for being an alcohol-related risk to others?


New Sentencing Guidelines in Alabama?

Here’s the latest scoop on one of the issues we’ve been working in Alabama:

Alabama Governor Robert Riley (R) is expected to sign S.B. 231, a bill that creates voluntary sentencing guidelines for the state. The bill, which passed the legislature last week, is an important reform for the state, which suffers from severe prison overcrowding due in large part to harsh sentences for nonviolent drug possession offenses. The bill is part of the New Bottom Line Campaign, an Alabama group that, with the help of the Drug Policy Alliance, works to promote effective drug policies.

The legislation still is not signed into law and we need your help to ensure that it is. Please contact Governor Riley today and encourage him to sign S.B. 231 into law. Call Governor Riley at (334)-242-7100 and tell him that you support S.B. 231 and drug reform in Alabama. After you call, please visit the governor’s home page and submit an e-mail to the governor.

Last year, over one-third of Alabama’s prison admissions were for low-level drug offenses and sentencing procedures varied dramatically throughout the state. 75 percent of the state’s judges are expected to follow the voluntary guidelines introduced by S.B. 231, which would significantly reduce prison overcrowding in the state.

The new guidelines radically change drug-sentencing standards. The bill does not mandate a prison sentence for marijuana possession until the fourth offense, as opposed to the current guidelines, which mandate a prison sentence after the second offense.

Behind the leadership of the New Bottom Line Campaign and the Drug Policy Alliance, Alabamans are making progress for drug reform and enacting sensible marijuana policy.

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Minnesota: Sue Jeffers to slap Governor Pawlenty around on his home turf

Sue Jeffers, the Minnesota Libertarian Party candidate for governor certainly knows how to shake up the state political scene. She’s trying to get into the Minnesota GOP primary, but state party officials don’t like that very much. The StarTribune reports:

A feisty bar owner named Sue Jeffers has suddenly emerged as a challenger to Gov. Tim Pawlenty for Republican Party endorsement.

She faces just one big obstacle: Top party officials say Jeffers is not a real Republican and are blocking her attempts to participate in the process.

To which Jeffers responded:

“We cannot give [Pawlenty] a free ride,” said Jeffers, a 49-year-old activist who has been in the news recently leading opposition to bar-and-restaurant smoking bans and to taxpayer subsidies for pro sports stadiums.

“I am the only fiscal conservative running in this race,” Jeffers said.

“It’s clear Tim Pawlenty does not know how to close the checkbook,” she added.

This was clearly my favorite quote:

“Let’s slap him up a bit, at the very least,” Jeffers said.

I’m guessing we’ll see a lot more future excitement from this race.


Compassionate Conservatism: The Federal War on Patients

We posted about the recent FDA statement which dissed the medicinal use of marijuana. Here’s a sampling of what others are saying about it:

From The New York Times:

“We’re going to have members of state legislatures say, ‘But even the F.D.A. has said there’s no medical value,’ ” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which works to loosen drug laws. “That’s where it’s going to hurt.”

The Supreme Court decision killed efforts to allow medical marijuana in Connecticut, Mr. Nadelmann said, adding, “It had no legal impact, but it created a perception.”

A spokesman for John P. Walters, director of the U.S. government’s national drug control policy, said that the FDA’s announcement should help put an end to what he called “the bizarre public discussion” that has led some states to legalize marijuana for medicinal use.


“This is a political statement, not a scientific statement, and the FDA should be embarrassed,” Bruce Mirken, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, tells WebMD.


Tom Riley from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy applauded the move.

“Why does it get a special get-out-of-jail-free card by plebiscite?” he asked. “The medical marijuana ballot initiatives have been attempts to do an end-run around science. Let’s takes it out the political realm and put it back into science where it belongs.”

see more…


Tagging Air Force One (Part II)

While it’s already old news for HoT regulars, the topic of one of Stephen VanDyke’s postings is now on the Most Popular list at Yahoo News. Here’s the clip, in case you missed it the first time around:

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George Phillies 2008 Video

LP prez candidate George Phillies has his first online campaign video available at YouTube. Here it is:


Libertarian Internet Stuff


An old friend from Illinois e-mailed me (about another topic). I’ve blogrolled him from other sites in the past and didn’t realize he was omitted him at HoT. Jeff Trigg blogs at Random Act of Kindness, where he dishes up an a daily dose of rants and opinions about Illinois and libertarian politics. You’re rerolled, dude.

Big Fish in a Small Pond

HoT is currently listed as the top political blog by Blogranking (they have a very small field of players, so far), even beating one of my longtime favorites, Ron Gunzburger’s Politics1.

Former Governor Weld Will Seek the LP Nod

While they’ve got great political coverage over at H&R, it’s rare that scoop us on Libertarian Party news of importance. Jacob Sullum just did when he informed us that William Weld has confirmed his intent to run on the LP ticket and wishes to speak at the LPNY convention.

Che Guevara-keteer

One of our new advertisers might have accidently made a good pick by hawking a particular book here. The Independent Institute is currently advertising The Che Guevara Myth and the Future of Liberty. What they don’t likely know is how many hits (and hotlinks) we still get because of this old posting.

Phillies Campaign Update

LP presidential candidate George Phillies has added two new people to his campaign team: former HoT blogger Jake Porter and the consumate LP insider Sean Haugh. Phillies already has about the same size campaign team Michael Badnarik did when he and Jon Airheart rolled into Atlanta in 2004. I think Phillies is aware that his website needs a serious overhaul. In an e-mail to me he jokingly suggested, “Now watch me get castigated for not using the blink command.”


Attorney General Calling for Draconian Internet Pr0n Standards

If Attorney General Alberto Gonzales gets his way, which of the two graphics will be considered online porn – the one on the left or the one on the right?

According to Declan McCullagh, Gonzales is pushing for very unreasonable porn standards on the Internet:

One of the three new laws is on the remote verge of common sense:

A third new crime appears to require that commercial Web sites not post sexually explicit material on their home page if it can be seen “absent any further actions by the viewer.”

The second is one is laughable, at best. They’re telling me I can’t take nude models and parody them as Barbie dolls?

A second new crime would threaten with imprisonment Web site operators who mislead visitors about sex with deceptive “words or digital images” in their source code–for instance, a site that might pop up in searches for Barbie dolls or Teletubbies but actually features sexually explicit photographs.

This one really shows how incredibly stupid they are (emphasis added):

The Bush administration’s proposal would require commercial Web sites to place “marks and notices” to be devised by the Federal Trade Commission on each sexually explicit page. The definition of sexually explicit broadly covers depictions of everything from sexual intercourse and masturbation to “sadistic abuse” and close-ups of fully clothed genital regions.

Please remember to vote Republican in November, as someone has to have the moral courage to save us from dungarees. Thanks to IanC DAP for the tip.


Your Constitutional Right to Kindergarten

Radley Balko found this gem turd in the Wall Street Journal:

This spring, at least 65,000 undocumented immigrant students, many of whom have been in this country most of their lives, will graduate from high school. The Constitution guarantees a public-school K-12 education for every child in the U.S. But after that, their future is uncertain.

They didn’t offer kindergarten in my school system when I was a kid — “First” Grade meant exactly that. Does this mean I can sue the school system for violating my civil rights?


Poway T-Shirt Policy is “So Gay”

Public schools continue to serve their most vital public function: Teaching kids that they can’t express themselves except in government approved methods. It’s no surprise that a government court just upheld the action of the school in question. From Reuters:

Public schools can bar clothing with slogans that are hurtful, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday in the case of a student who wore a T-shirtsaying “Homosexuality is shameful.”

The 2-1 decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals backed a San Diego-area high school’s argument that it was entitled to tell a student to remove a T-shirt with that message.

The officials were concerned the slogan could raise tension at the school, where there had been conflict between gay and straight students.

The student sued, claiming the school’s dress code violated his free speech, religious freedom and due process rights.

What’s even worse is they are turning the already scary nanny state into a cry baby state:

Writing for the panel’s majority, Judge Stephen Reinhardt affirmed a lower court’s decision against an injunction against the school and said schools may bar slogans believed to be hurtful.

Students “who may be injured by verbal assaults on the basis of a core identifying characteristic such as race, religion, or sexual orientation, have a right to be free from such attacks while on school campuses,” Reinhardt wrote.

“The demeaning of young gay and lesbian students in a school environment is detrimental not only to their psychological health and well-being, but also to their educational development,” Reinhardt added.

Since when did a t-shirt cause harm to one’s “psychological health and well-being”?

I may disagree with the message of the t-shirt, but I don’t go around playing t-shirt message cop. They shouldn’t either. If they can ban this particular message, then they also have the power to ban shirts which read “Celebrate Diversity”, “My gay son beat up your straight son” or “Your straight son isn’t as straight as you think he is”. The next thing you know, this message will be off-limits, too: “Support Free Speech Rights”.


Marijuana Truths and FDA Lies

Here’s the latest from the Feds on medical marijuana:

Inter-Agency Advisory Regarding Claims That Smoked Marijuana Is a Medicine

Claims have been advanced asserting smoked marijuana has a value in treating various medical conditions. Some have argued that herbal marijuana is a safe and effective medication and that it should be made available to people who suffer from a number of ailments upon a doctor’s recommendation, even though it is not an approved drug.

Marijuana is listed in schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the most restrictive schedule. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which administers the CSA, continues to support that placement and FDA concurred because marijuana met the three criteria for placement in Schedule I under 21 U.S.C. 812(b)(1) (e.g., marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision). Furthermore, there is currently sound evidence that smoked marijuana is harmful. A past evaluation by several Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), concluded that no sound scientific studies supported medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States, and no animal or human data supported the safety or efficacy of marijuana for general medical use. There are alternative FDA-approved medications in existence for treatment of many of the proposed uses of smoked marijuana.

FDA is the sole Federal agency that approves drug products as safe and effective for intended indications. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act requires that new drugs be shown to be safe and effective for their intended use before being marketed in this country. FDA’s drug approval process requires well-controlled clinical trials that provide the necessary scientific data upon which FDA makes its approval and labeling decisions. If a drug product is to be marketed, disciplined, systematic, scientifically conducted trials are the best means to obtain data to ensure that drug is safe and effective when used as indicated. Efforts that seek to bypass the FDA drug approval process would not serve the interests of public health because they might expose patients to unsafe and ineffective drug products. FDA has not approved smoked marijuana for any condition or disease indication.

A growing number of states have passed voter referenda (or legislative actions) making smoked marijuana available for a variety of medical conditions upon a doctor’s recommendation. These measures are inconsistent with efforts to ensure that medications undergo the rigorous scientific scrutiny of the FDA approval process and are proven safe and effective under the standards of the FD&C Act. Accordingly, FDA, as the federal agency responsible for reviewing the safety and efficacy of drugs, DEA as the federal agency charged with enforcing the CSA, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, as the federal coordinator of drug control policy, do not support the use of smoked marijuana for medical purposes.

I’m traveling right now, but I’m sure y’all can rip this bullshit apart better than I could, anyway. Have at it, and cheers!


Paris Saved for the Moment: French Hold Maginot Line Against Smoking Nazis

In January, Michelle told us “J’aime fumer en France!” One can still light up a cancer stick at their Parisian cafe. From The Smoker’s Club:

Paris smokers and tobacconists puffed their cigarettes in relief on Thursday, happy they would not have to light up in hermetic cabins in the future after the French government postponed legislation to ban smoking in bars.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, weakened after a months-long crisis over a youth jobs law, on Wednesday delayed the proposals for a ban on smoking in public places and called for months of consultation on the issue.

Anti-smoking campaigners complained the government had sacrificed the health of millions to avoid a new controversy so soon after the humiliating jobs law debacle.

But smokers were happy.

“I love my daily coffee and cigarette,” said Louisa Bunz, 47, as she smoked in a central Paris bar.

Bunz said the government’s idea of making restaurants tobacco-free and force smokers into hermetic, ventilated phonebox-style cabins without drinks and food was ridiculous.

“It would be like a little smokers’ prison cell,” she said.

If I lived in France, I’d be digging in for a new wave of attacks and certainly not resting on my laurels. The enemies of freedom prefer sneak attacks right before dawn.


Baptists Afraid of Boobies???

On of my favorite local religious jokes goes like this:

Q: Why don’t Southern Baptists believe in premarital sex?

A: Because it might lead to dancing.

Apparently this mindset has taken hold at Baylor University. From Reuters:

Baylor University in Waco, Texas, which bills itself as the world’s largest Baptist college, has threatened to discipline female students if they pose for Playboy magazine, which is trying to recruit models from the college.

Playboy photographers came to Baylor’s hometown seeking models for a photo spread on women of the Big 12 college athletic conference, of which the college is a member.

Baylor Vice President for Student Life Samuel W. Oliver sent an e-mail to women students this week warning that any who “associate” with Playboy would be subject to the university’s disciplinary processes.

“Playboy is clearly antithetical to Baylor’s mission and associating with the magazine would be a violation of the code of conduct,” Oliver wrote in the e-mail. University officials said punishment could include suspension.

I’ll be the first to suggest that Baylor has the right to set whatever policies they want, even if they are stupid. This said, Baylor’s actions are incredibly stupid. What their students do off-campus should be of no concern to the faculty.

Restrictive sexual policies frequently lead to promiscuous behavior. Prohibition – whether of alcohol, marijuana or sex – simply doesn’t work and generally increases the amount of crime and riskier behaviors associated with the prohibitied activity.

When I was younger, “everyone” knew that if a guy wished to get laid he should date a preacher’s daughter. I’ve always theorized that preachers’ daughters were more likely to put out because they were rebelling against their restrictive parents. It seems to me that Baylor’s actions are more likely to produce off-campus sex parties than the results they actually desire.


Upcoming Trial in Texas: TABC v. Cajones

When accused of a crime, most people don’t mind if the charges get dismissed. Chris Nash, who was arrested in one of the recent Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission stings, is fortunately an exception to the rule. From the Dallas Observer:

“If they don’t let me challenge them, the dismissal doesn’t have any weight,” says Nash, who works as a systems engineer. “It allows them to duck and run. I want to confront my accusers.”

He claims to have an open-and-shut defense. On Saturday night, March 11, an undercover agent with the TABC tapped on Nash’s shoulder as he sat at the back of the Inwood Tavern with his girlfriend and a few others. At first, he thought the lady wanted the book of matches on his table. But she said she was with the state police and asked him to step outside. A second agent joined them.

As the suspected scofflaw was being questioned and videotaped, a cabbie that he knew circled around and asked him if he needed a ride. That footage would be exhibit A for the defense. Nash had taken a taxi to the tavern and planned to take one back. That was his new routine after he’d been arrested for drunk driving not long ago. Nash showed the agents that he didn’t even have his car keys on him, but he was unable to perform the sobriety test because, he said, he suffered from lower back pain.

It gets even better:

Between his defense and the aftermath of Monday’s hearing in Austin on the agency’s public intoxication arrests, Nash is worried that TABC will drop the case against him. So he and his attorney Lee Bright are researching their legal options to make sure they’ll have a chance, in essence, to humiliate their accusers in court. “I’ve talked to judges about it, and they’ve asked me why wouldn’t I want a criminal charge dismissed?” says Bright, who is representing Nash at cost, in part because of the principles involved in this case. “Don’t accuse somebody, don’t file charges and disrupt their life and when they want to defend themselves deny them a chance to confront their accuser.”

In what won’t be a shocker to anyone here, the article mentions that Nash leans politically in a libertarian direction. I don’t care what his politics are, he has the courage of our founding fathers and deserves our applause and support. I’d also like to see around 2200 civil proceedings filed against the state. Any greedy lawyers reading my rant?

Props to Michael Nelson.


WHNT Political Coverage: Every Candidate (except for one). Every Race. Every Issue.

If you click the banner you’ll see one candidate missing from their site: Loretta Nall, the Libertarian Party candidate for governor in Alabama.

The way I see it, there are three possible reasons why Nall’s name wasn’t listed:

  1. An honest administrative oversight
  2. They’ve never heard of her (which would make me doubt their journalist credentials considering how many people around the world do know just exactly who Nall is)
  3. They intentionally left her off the list

Their feedback mechanism on the page requires site registration and the unnecessary disclosure of a lot of personal information, but there’s a simple one, too. It just takes 5 seconds, so give ’em hell!

UPDATE: They’ve now included Loretta on their candidate listing. Thanks, guys.

This has been a test of the Libertarian Internet Activist Network. Had this been an actual emergency, you…


The Latest Blogwar

Last night I posted about an interesting little entry at H&R. Well, now it’s turning into a blogwar.


Stupid Government Tricks (Part II)

They used a drug war related letter-to-the-editor as probable cause for a search warrant against Loretta Nall. Now they’ve accused a nurse of sedition for writing a letter to an underground paper criticizing the Bush regime. The VA is now trying to get away with a private apology, but Laura Berg understandably wants more:

“My concern about just having a private apology is because this happened to me it has frightened other people. It was intimidating,” she said. “I appreciate having a personal apology saying, `Yes, it was an overreaction,’ but my concern is for the wider environment.”

I’m expecting the next round of Patriot Act legislation to contain new sedition definitions and penalties. After all, we can’t allow this First Amendment thing to continue to go unchecked. In the mean time, keep sending in those LTEs.


Stupid Government Tricks

For those who argue that the gun grabbers will stop when they get all the firearms, think again. They are trying to ban swords in Tacoma. That’s right — swords!

For more than a year now, Tacoma city officials have quietly struggled to find a way to regulate the sale of ancient weapons.

Swords. Throwing stars. Daggers. Knives. Crossbows.

Medieval stuff that freaks out average law-abiding citizen-types when they see it for sale at the corner store alongside candy bars and gum.

So far, the attempt has produced little in the way of results. Stanching the sale of drug paraphernalia proved easier.

The challenge for the city’s lawyers is figuring out how to update Tacoma’s “dangerous weapons” ordinance to stop a convenience store from selling a giant collectible sword, but not also make it illegal for Fred Meyer to sell a bread knife.

What’s the next thing to outlaw, Bic lighters or nail clippers? I forgot, TSA has already started that process for both.



On the Cover of the Rolling Stone

Gonna buy five copies for my neighbors. Props.


It Feels Like the First Time: Falwell Dissed by Supremes Again

In sort of a reverse take on issue, Jerry Falwell’s got his panties in a wad over the site From The Register:

The US Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of Reverend Jerry Falwell against an Appeals Court ruling that allowed a gay rights activists to continue operating a site about the television evangelist under the domain name

Jerry Falwell has suggested that people who are gay and lesbian are sinning and that one’s sexual orientation is something that can be changed, according to Christopher Lamparello, who set up the ‘gripe site’ to challenge Falwell’s views.

Falwell sued, but the US Appeals Court ruled in August 2005 that Lamparello’s site did not violate trade mark law because it is not a confusing use of Falwell’s trade mark.

One might think Falwell would have learned when he lost to Larry Flynt in the Supreme Court over a funny parody advertisement (click poster to enlarge) years ago. I wonder if Falwell’s next target will be the poultry industy.

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I’m Certainly No Republican

I was speaking with a salesman yesterday who hates Libertarians because he thinks they are opposed to gay rights. Consider this a primer for those who consider Libertarians hardcore Republicans. The AP is running a story about the social policies the GOP hopes to change between now and the November elections.

Protection of marriage amendment? Check. Anti-flag burning legislation? Check. New abortion limits? Check.

Between now and the November elections, Republicans are penciling in plans to take action on social issues important to religious conservatives, the foundation of the GOP base, as they defend their congressional majority.

In a year where an unpopular war in Iraq has helped drive President Bush’s approval ratings below 40 percent, core conservatives whose turnout in November is vital to the party want assurances that they are not being taken for granted.

In addition to being in opposition to all of those items, we’re against the War in Iraq, too. Ed Thompson just covered one of those issues well:

The guy who ran for Wisconsin governor as “the voice of the common man” is calling state lawmakers bigots for picking on gays and lesbians.

Ed Thompson says the No. 1 issue in Wisconsin this year is defeating a Republican-backed constitutional amendment that would emphatically ban same-sex marriage and similar civil unions.

The proposed amendment is an “evil thing” that is “so incredibly wrong” it amounts to “lunacy,” Thompson declared last weekend at the state Libertarian political convention in Madison.

The GOP-run Legislature is attempting to “pass laws of prejudice against people,” Thompson told convention-goers. “If you can accept that, you’re not a Libertarian. You’re not even an American. You’re a bigot.”

Those are strong words coming from a hard-working, fun-loving, small-town bar and restaurant owner whose appeal in rural areas remains strong.

It’s also a sign that Wisconsin could become the first state in the union to defeat a needless and divisive constitutional attack on gay and lesbian love.

Thompson, you may recall, is the former mayor of Tomah who ran for governor as a Libertarian in 2002. He collected more votes — 185,000 — than any third-party candidate in modern state history.

Thompson’s tough talk drew a standing ovation and signaled that public perceptions and political momentum on the controversial issue are changing.

That seems pretty plain and simple to me.


Reasons to Force Straight Marriage on People

More from Reason (apologies in the posting below). Hit this link fast before the bigots in Colorado update their site. At this moment, they are promoting all of the great things about state-sanctioned hetero marriage with:

Coloradans for Marriage

That was a cut-n-paste screenshot. They seem to have nothing to say (until the wingnuts suddenly feel all the traffic hitting them upside the head) at this moment.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Added screenshot for even better visual yumminess.


Gillespie Talks Mierda

I guess it’s Reason night tonight — I haven’t hit their site much lately and am trying to catch up (I also catch up on the magazine on plane flights then donate them to my physician wife’s waiting room). For a more objective view at the racist immigration related banter floating about, one might wish to take a look at Nick Gillespie’s latest about Rep. Tom Tancredo’s proposal to force everyone to speak English. Here’s a clip:

Thank you, Middle Eastern 9/11 hijackers, for finally getting the point through our thick skulls (forgive our slowness, but all too many of us are descended from immigrants) that the greatest security threat to the United States is the influx of Spanish speakers from across the border with Mexico. […]

It’s embarrassing enough — humiliating really – that the United States doesn’t have a state religion, which would facilitate community and national identity. […]

…I think about my maternal grandfather, Nicola Guida, who showed up at Ellis Island (what a polyglot slum that was!) in 1913 and then proceeded to waste most of his time working manual labor jobs like quarrying rock and digging basements by hand and raising four children rather than taking the time to learn English, the ingrate. It’s one of the great pities of my life that, because I speak no Italian (other than what I picked via the Godfather movies) and he spoke no English (other than what he picked up watching Gunsmoke, his favorite TV show), I was never able to communicate effectively to him just how un-American he was.

If you haven’t figured it out already, you’ll have to hit his article to see why I accused him of talking mierda.