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.

More Katrina Gun Grabs

F is for FemaAccording to 2theadvocate.com, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office has asked FEMA to ban guns in an evacuee travel trailer park (via No Quarters).

But a top sheriff’s official said that while it was a “close decision,” public safety became the most-important concern rather than constitutional rights.

“I’m a member of the NRA and a firm supporter of the NRA in most instances,” said Col. Greg Phares, chief criminal deputy for the Sheriff’s Office.

“But in this instance, I had to balance the responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office with constitutional rights,” Phares added. “I think it’s the right decision. It wasn’t a comfortable decision, but it is right.”

That NRA members selectively forgot that little line ending with “shall not be infringed” once again reinforces my unwillingness to be a member of that organization.

I am a bit confused about the following segment from the article:

Phares said he doesn’t consider the ban on a guns a constitutional violation because tenants can decide whether to sign the lease or not.

“It’s a voluntary choice,” he said.

However, he did admit the evacuees who signed up for the trailers had limited choices on where to live.

“The only problem is a lot of these people don’t have any other options at this point,” Phares said.

If a lot of these people “don’t have any other options”, how can it be “a voluntary choice”?

Your displeasure may be voiced by calling Sheriff Elmer B. Litchfield at
(225) 389-5055.

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Libertarian Rally Hits FrontPage Magazine

While co-blogger (and friend) Stephen VanDyke is posting entries with titles like “The Anti-War Movement is a Joke”, I’ve been busy promoting certain anti-war ralliesa recent rally in Alabama where Lew Rockwell spoke, in particular.

FrontPage Magazine is rendering an opinion on the topic, as well.

In late September, as throngs of placard-wielding protestors were descending on the nation’s capital, Lew Rockwell, the nominally libertarian proprietor of the website LewRockwell.com, was holding forth at an anti-war rally convened by the far-left Alabama Peace and Justice Coalition (APJC).

That the APJC’s rallying cry — “Spend money for human needs, not war!” — was of questionable accordance with principled libertarianism’s aversion to government largesse, didn’t seem to phase Rockwell, who joined a roster of speakers with an altogether different view about the proper role of the federal government. “I was aware that I was a token non-leftist speaking to a largely leftist audience,” Rockwell later explained on his website. Nonetheless, he noted that, despite some political differences with the gathered crowd, his “speech seemed well received.”

Jacob Laskin, who wrote the article, went on to froth at the mouth about Rockwell selling out to the liberal left.

With its foam-flecked denunciations of the United States for “the evil of imperialism, the immorality of enslaving a foreign people, the malice of colonialism, and the intolerable brutality of authoritarianism,” its paranoiac allusions to a dissent-crushing “state,” and its unelaborated call for “resistance,” Rockwell’s speech could have been given by any of the more literate ringleaders of the anti-war left.

Laskin must not have been at the event. If he was, he would have noted some clear distinctions between the libertarians and the leftists attending the rally. The top rally poster in the photograph above should provide a case-in-point. Our profile on the issue was not low key, as the media covered on our position even before the rally.

The point of greatest applause may have been when one of the speakers (not Rockwell) spoke about tax resistance. Thoreau was the obvious topic of conversation I had with many leftists attending the rally following this comment. The ensuing conversations certainly opened the door to at least some liberals and progressives reconsidering their devotion to big government.

While Rockwell did have to keep his intended audience in mind (one will not gain much by attempting to sell ice cubes to Eskimos), he did not sell out libertarian positions. In fact, his speech was well-received, despite the inclusion of lines like this:

Of all forms of collectivist central planning, war is the most egregious. It is generated by the coercive force of taxation and monetary depreciation. Its means are economic regimentation and the violation of the freedom to associate and trade. Its ends are destruction and killing — crime on a mass scale.

While a majority of Americans currently believe that we should withdraw from Iraq, many libertarians are more concerned about the reactions of publications which list names like David Horowitz and Ann Coulter as contributors. I tend to favor the approach suggested in Rockwell’s closing paragraph:

Stand up to the state. Be a dissident. Tell what is true. And do not fear the emperor-pirates. They, after all, fear you. For you help tilt the balance of history against their barbarism, and in favor of peace and freedom

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Your Advice, Please

We hit our first two debates in the Birmingham race I am managing last night. Bodenhausen did fairly well in the first one, and significantly better in the second one. It was mostly an issue of the candidate getting over the jitters and regaining that competitive campaign composure in the first debate. In the second debate, he did well except for one blown answer opportunity — but we have that problem fixed now.

There are six candidates in the race. The incumbent has used eminent domain to bring a new Wal-Mart to town in the very same district in which we are campaigning. We managed to turn a general debate into one primarily about eminent domain.

In debate one, Bodenhausen spoke first, and in his first three minute block he hammered away on eminent domain. Following Bodenhausen was the most conservative of the remaining candidates. Although we have inside information to the contrary, this forced that candidate to join the “Yea, Me Too!” club. The conservative-leaning candidate stated, “I absolutely agree with Bodenhausen on using eminent domain to the benefit of private developement.”

The topic came up a few more times in the first debate. During the second debate, it came up more often, and was used to some degree by all the candidates there to challenge the incumbent’s record. Responding to the applause we drew, even the most liberal of our opposition saw and seized upon the opportunity to torment the incumbent on this issue.

The problem is that the incumbent drew applause, too. She has a great, snappy response to the issue — which we need to overcome. She used it both times to great effect, improving upon it the second time. It goes something like this: “… [same old blah, blah, blah lines about economic development and job creation you've certainly heard countless times]. I’m proud of what I have accomplished and stand on my record. Anyway, we only used eminent domain one time, against a bookstore selling pornography.”

Both times she used this line, she drew a lot of applause. She doesn’t have to use her remaining time after that line, and promptly sits down.

To the best of my knowledge, she is technically correct. Most of the businesses that were relocated did so “voluntarily” because they were forced to do so. An article pertaining to this same case provides:

“Chris Curran, owner of Spuds Pub, told the newspaper that the city has put a gun to owners’ heads. “Anybody who has been signing contracts with Wal-Mart is signing under duress,” Curran said. “That means: Here’s our contract, sign it and if you don’t sign it, we’ll take it. … They (city officials) just want a trophy, and they don’t mind pushing us out of the way to have that trophy.”

I don’t normally cross-post blog entries on the various sites where I write, but in this case, I’m going to make an exception. We have another debate in just a few hours, and I’d like to get as many ideas as possible on how to defeat the incumbent’s most effective line. Especially a sound-byte which combines brevity and impact. Ideas?

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Busy day…

I’ve been pretty busy lately, and not had much time to rant at HoT. As I just blogged a couple of my recent activities on other sites, I’d thought I’d link them here to catch y’all up with some political activities in Alabama.

The first event on Saturday was a peace rally in Birmingham. I was able to arrange to have Lew Rockwell added to the speaker line up. Lew’s speech is here. There was a fair amount of libertarian participation, good press, and the event went very well. My blog entry at LFS, which includes a lot of neat pictures of hard working activists, is here.

From the speech:

The US believes it can starve foreign countries such as Iraq by imposing killer sanctions that a high US official said were worth the lives of hundreds of thousands of children.

The US believes that it can use its weapons of mass destruction to threaten any country in the world on the very suspicion that it might be trying to defend itself. The US can then phony up intelligence, overthrow a leader, and install a regime of its choosing. Not to worry: its magical military Midas touch will transform that country into a paragon of democratic freedom – just as soon as all political opposition is silenced or destroyed.

In short, the US government believes that it operates under a different moral standard, not only from the moral standard that regular people apply to their own affairs, but even different from the moral standard that the US applies to other states.

And who pays the price for this moral hypocrisy? The victims of war.

Although wearing a sweaty t-shirt, I had another event immediately following the rally. I managed to take a quick shower, slap on some cologne, and put on a suit and drive to the other event in less than an hour. I met Mark “Bo” Bodenhausen along with some of his staffers at the 40th Anniversary Banquet for the Alabama ACLU. National ACLU Executive Director Anthory Romero was the key note speaker, and I managed to snap this shot of Bodenhausen and Romero waiting for the valets to return their vehicles.

Romero gave a good speech. I agreed most of it — especially on voting rights and civil liberties. As he only spewed collectivist swill in my direction a bare few times and made a lot of very valid points, my applause at the end of his talk was actually heartfelt, and not the pertunctory clapping expected at a social event like that.

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A New Campaign

I’m working on a new political campaign, so don’t expect to see as much of me here for the next few weeks. As one newspaper had already covered Bo (Mark Bodenhausen), we had to announce today, before we were able to complete the website. Hopefully pulling the announcement off on a Monday will place us one day ahead of the last day filers in the news cycle, though.

Feel free to check out the site, submit better graphics, vote in the polls, and otherwise participate in the campaign. I’ll take all the help I can get on this one.

One of the key issues will be eminent domain, which is a very critical issue in Birmingham, Alabama. In addition to the famous WalMart land grab in Alabaster which Neal Boortz covered extensively, a very similar case happened in Roebuck, which is physically in the district where Bo is running. A new case just hit the paper yesterday, and we are working on a response to this one right now.

They once put black people in the back of the bus in Birmingham, until political activists changed how we deal with race issues. They are now putting property owners in the back of the bus, and I guess it is time for political activists to get busy protecting their rights, too.

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Barr Speaks Up on a Lot of Issues

I’ve been following former GA congressman (of Monica-Gate fame) Bob Barr for some time. That he is involved with both the NRA and the ACLU shows that he defies contemporary political labeling. He has been moving further and further away from the GOP for some time, and actually endorsed Badnarik for president.

One thing concerning a lot of people in the freedom movement is Barr’s very non-libertarian track record on issues like the war on drugs and equal rights for homosexuals. Barr didn’t address either of these issues in his latest article, but he did make some of the strongest anti-GOP statements on a variety of topics I’ve ever heard from him.

The thrust of the article is that a lot of people in politics are relieved that Hurricane Katrina occurred, as it removes our attention from these issues:

“…the babblings of Pat Robertson, who apparently had pieced together a list of world leaders he’d like to assassinate, headed for some inexplicable reason by tinhorn, leftist Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.”

“Presidential guru Karl Rove probably heaved a sigh of relief that could be felt all the way from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to Austin, Texas, in response to the good fortune of having the investigation of the leak of the identity of former intelligence undercover operative Valerie Plame shifted from Page One to being buried in the food sections of newspapers across this land.”

“Even though U.S. Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) remains under investigation for illegal financial dealings involving an associate in the defense industry, at least his picture is no longer gracing the front pages of state, regional and national papers.”

“While I suspect analysis of how our right to privacy in America is being decimated by the USA Patriot Act and other government actions will continue not to be a subject of extensive front-page newspaper coverage, at least we haven’t had to read stories day after day comparing political and tribal leaders in Iraq to our Founding Fathers.”

He picked on Democrats, as well:

“Closer to Katrina’s former eye, U.S. Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) has been afforded an opportunity to shift attention from the sordid story that shortly before Katrina hit, federal agents searching two of his homes looking for evidence of financial improprieties apparently found a large amount of cash in a freezer.”

“Then there is Cindy Sheehan, the sad mother of a son killed in Iraq, who in the days before Hurricane Katrina pushed much other, and more important, news below the fold in newspapers here and across America. Let’s hope she is taking advantage of this respite to reassess whether becoming the poster child for the anti-Bush crowd is the best way to commemorate the tragedy of losing a son in the service of his country.”

And we gained a glimpse of his views on Iraq:

“In the international arena, we have pervasive coverage of the hurricane disaster to thank for affording us a respite from news coverage of Iraq’s problems drafting a constitution.

Without trying to sound callous, I was growing a bit weary of hearing about whether the Shiites, the Kurds or the Sunnis were happy with, dismayed about or neutral toward the latest draft of the Iraqi Constitution.

I’m not really sure how important this debate is even to the people of Iraq, but I admit it doesn’t concern me greatly. I would much prefer to be hearing and reading about what’s happening to our Constitution in the wake of continued erosion of our civil liberties than about constitutional draftsmen in Baghdad.”

I dunno where Barr is moving politicly, but the new location is certainly closer to the intersection of Freedom Street and Liberty Lane than his old digs where Blow Job Alley crosses Drug Warrior Drive.

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Wiretapping Houses of Worship

In a speech given at the Brookings Institute, the governor of one of our more liberal states suggested today that we should start wiretapping Christian churches and conducting surveillence of students coming over from Europe in order to combat religious zealotry and eurocentrist thought processes.

Yo, conservatives, does that piss you off?

In reality, it was a Republican who suggested that we treat law abiding mosques in the US in this manner, and that we place students from Islamic countries under surveillence. The Boston Globe reports:

Governor Mitt Romney raised the prospect of wiretapping mosques and conducting surveillance of foreign students in Massachusetts, as he issued a broad call yesterday for the federal government to devote far more money and attention to domestic intelligence gathering.

While it may seem a bit harsh, a Romney spokesperson puts our mind at ease, fortunately:

”The governor believes we can strike a balance between what is necessary to protect our homeland while respecting individual freedom and liberty,” Teer said.

It seems the only freedom they are concerned about protecting is their own. If you are moslem and live in Massachussetts, expect to get your ass tapped.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: In a related surveillance story, when the government watches an actual terrorist, and then screws up at catching that terrorist before they complete their mission, the answer seems to be: destroy the evidence (via cryptogon).

A Pentagon employee was ordered to destroy documents that identified Mohamed Atta as a terrorist two years before the 2001 attacks, a congressman said Thursday.

The employee is prepared to testify next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was expected to name the person who ordered him to destroy the large volume of documents, said Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa.

Weldon declined to name the employee, citing confidentiality matters. Weldon described the documents as “2.5 terabytes” – as much as one-fourth of all the printed materials in the Library of Congress, he added.

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Racism in LA, MS and AL? Never…

A majority of people surveyed agree we pull numbers out of our butts.

There has been a lot of talk about whether race was a factor in the FUBAR Katrina relief efforts. Dubya pulled a good sound-byte out of his butt with, “The storm didn’t discriminate, and neither will the recovery effort. When those Coast Guard choppers were pulling people off roofs, they didn’t check the color of a person’s skin. They wanted to save lives.”

Gallup polled on the topic, and found the following:

Six in 10 blacks say the fact that most hurricane victims were poor and black was one factor behind the failure of the federal government to come to their rescue quickly. Nearly nine in 10 non-Hispanic whites say those weren’t factors.

Most of my black friends do honestly believe that race was a factor. My white friends are a lot more split that the survey indicates, though.

To be clear, I have seen no clear-cut evidence of racism, so I’ll not pronounce my verdict on this situation, yet. But I’d like to ask a few questions to be pondered:

  1. (from the article) “If it had been a 17-year-old white cheerleader who was caught in the water, [would] somebody would have tried to get there faster[?]
  2. For a variety of reasons, the lowest lying areas in New Orleans were primarily inhabited by the poor and the black. Was instutional or societal racism involved?
  3. Rep. Baker of Baton Rouge was overheard telling lobbyists: “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.”
  4. Could it be that race was not an issue, but systemic problems occurred because the most serious of the victims (of all colors) were from the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder?
  5. Post 9/11 relief efforts were considerably less FUBAR. However, the typical Manhattan resident or Pentagon employee has a much greater level of political access than the victims in the SE. Because 9/11 victims tended to better connected, did the authorities place a greater emphasis after that tragedy?

Photo courtesy of DribbleGlass.com

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Inde-Liber-Green-ulist files to run for Senate in MD

When I was working on the Badnarik campaign, Kevin Zeese was my counterpart in the Nader camp. Rumors have abounded for some time that he is running for US Senate in Maryland. They were confirmed today yesterday (I’m back in campaign mode and don’t realize what time of day it is) by the Baltimore Sun and the Business Gazette.

From the Gazette:

Zeese, 49, an attorney, is running as an Independent in the hopes of galvanizing support from the Green, Libertarian and Populist parties while attracting voters from the Democrat and Republican candidates.

He plans to make the war in Iraq a central theme of his campaign, and drew a parallel between the war and the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

“Katrina is the Iraq war coming home to roost. Instead of taking care of our crumbling infrastructure, misplaced federal spending priorities have made our entire nation vulnerable,” Zeese said in a statement.

He said anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, is going to headline an event for him at the University of Maryland later this month.

I’ve met with Zeese before (pertaining to a C-SPAN panel I was on, but mostly related to Ohio recount issues), and consumed a couple of cell phone charges with him, too. He’s a good guy, knows his stuff, is well connected, and presents himself well. I’ll be watching the fundraising, but an early prediction is that this may well be a race to watch closely.

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A Case of Mistaken Identity?

Vibrator bongAccording to this report, police in Joliet, IL intentionally and unnessarily confronted a teen about his mother’s private sex habits:

Police served the first search warrant with the intent to locate marijuana they believed her son, Brandon, then 18, was selling. Dorothy Campbell was not home when police arrived, but her son and four of his friends were, according to the lawsuit.

Officers handcuffed Brandon Campbell and his friends, then “went into (Dorothy Campbell’s) dresser drawers and found (her) personal and private sex toys,” the lawsuit said.

The officers “did not and could not have reasonably believed that (her) private and personal sex toys constituted evidence of possession of cannabis … or any other crime,” according to the lawsuit.

Still, the officers took them from the dresser and showed them to Campbell’s son, asking him what his mother did with them, the lawsuit states. Then, “the raiding party took (her) personal and private sex toys and used

them for their own amusement and left them strewn about the residence,” according to the lawsuit.

The article indicates that no marijuana was found, and no arrest were made. They later produced a second warrant based on what is likely to be a bogus claim of child porn to cover their asses from the first warrant. Watch out for a third warrant, where some weed will appear in the house magicly from thin air (or from the pocket of one of the cops serving the warrant).

To give the cops the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they confused the Vibratex Hungry Bear with drug paraphernalia.

Props: Loretta and Terry

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This Land was Your Land

I blog about third party political reform on another site. Yesterday, I noticed that a new political party seems to have been formed in New London, CT. Ridding the people of New London of the city council which imposed the eminent domain case which still has a good portion of the once-free world pissed off seems to be the driving force of One New London and it’s five declared candidates.

Tom from MuD & PHuD has been covering the One New London story. He commented on my entry from yesterday, which led me back to his site, where I found this news from Kelo v. New London victim Michael Cristofaro:

NLDC has hit a new low. They have decided to ignore the Governors morotorium and have sent out letters stating we need to vacate the property’s in 90 days(Dec. 8th) and we must send them starting Sept 1st. $600/month for rent. There are more stipulations but this is the jist of it. I’ve contacted 2 of the councilors tonight to see where they stand on the issue and if they were even aware of this new tactic. I will let you know what their remarks are if they ever call me back.

In a WorldNetDaily exclusive, Joseph Farah (I borrowed from his heading) (Rick, thanks for the link) also just wrote about this new break in the story. Here is a clip:

He [Cristofaro] said the city officials are apparently persuaded the Supreme Court ruling last June is all they need to proceed with their plans to transfer the properties to a private party for development of an office complex.

Cristofaro said he has attempted to contact two members of the city council to see if they are aware of the plans and approve of them.

In the highly controversial Supreme Court decision, the justices ruled 5-4 that the economic development and increased tax revenue resulting from the eminent domain action qualified as “public use” under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.

We wish Cristafaro and gang the best of luck in CT, as what happens there helps sets the stage for the rest of the country. From New Orleans to New London, the terms “freedom” and “private property” are becoming increasingly oxymoronic with each passing day.

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Eichmann and Hooch

Cute puppies: enemies of the state?Being a jackbooted thug is doggone fun to the cops in St. Bernard Parish — quite literally. No longer content with forcing people from their homes or stealing their guns, they are now shooting dogs. I’m not talking about putting down some abandoned, starving, or injured creature — but shooting people’s loved (and presumably well cared for) family pets. The Oxford Press reports:

That left forced evacuee Marie Miller on the verge of tears.

“They shot our dogs!” Miller, a 54-year-old housewife, said of her mixed pit bulls, Angel and Hooch. She had gone inside to collect clothes and personal papers when she heard it.

“Boom! Boom!” Miller said. “Hooch came in and had blood all over him.”

Expect the heartless killing of family pets to be added to the next update of the FEMA Disaster Operations Manual, placed somewhere between victim disarmament and relocation to the gulags.

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Mercy Killings in New Orleans

According to this article, euthanasia is not legal in Louisiana, but that did not stop doctors from administering lethal doses of morphine to critically ill patients during the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

The doctor said: “I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing. But I did not have time. I had to make snap decisions, under the most appalling circumstances, and I did what I thought was right.

“I injected morphine into those patients who were dying and in agony. If the first dose was not enough, I gave a double dose. And at night I prayed to God to have mercy on my soul.”

The doctor, who finally fled her hospital late last week in fear of being murdered by the armed looters, said: “This was not murder, this was compassion. They would have been dead within hours, if not days. We did not put people down. What we did was give comfort to the end.

While I strongly support assisted suicide when a patient of sound mind has indicated a desire to end his/her suffering, the article did not provide enough detail for me to make up my mind in these specific cases. While my verdict is still out on this one, I am leaning towards the decision of the doctors, albeit with some hesitation.

Update by Mike Horn: Dr. Hermant H. Vankawala, MD, a Texas E.R. physician and one of the doctors who helped thousands of patients at the New Orleans airport, provided a personal glimpse of the past week in an email to friends and family. It seems Dr. Vankawala also had to make the decision to administer lethal doses of morphine:

We did everything from delivering babies to simply providing morphine and a blanket to septic and critical patients, and allowing them to die.

I encourage you to read the whole email here: NPR.org

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One Step Closer to Slavery for Katrina Victims

Bieser Cartoon

Scott Bieser is one of my favorite political cartoonists. This statement on his new blog describes what a lot of us are starting to write about:

News of the systematic gun confiscations in New Orleans hit me like a 2×4 in the face. I knew this day was coming sooner or later but I had hoped it would be later.

What makes Bieser special is his ability to draw what most of us merely verbalize.

“The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjected people to carry arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subjected peoples to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the underdog is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty.” — Adolf Hitler, 1938

Props: Kn@ppster

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Need video proof? See how the nice armed men slam gramma against the wall (streaming vid) in New Orleans because she has a gun. Take note that she has so much food and water in her house that the second cameraman nearly trips over the stacks of it in her kitchen.

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