Author Archives: Stuart Richards

About Stuart Richards

Stuart Richards is a 26-year-old land surveyor based out of Portland, OR. He is a left-leaning geolibertarian and (theologically) liberal Christian, and has been blogging on HammerofTruth.com and other libertarian sites since 2004.

A Message From Badnarik

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

Michael Badnarik put out the following press release on his blog yesterday. Apparently they’re running so much good stuff down in Texas that they’ve got a problem pretty much any campaign would love to have: too much volunteer support. Here’s their idea of how you can help put idle Libertarian hands to work:

Wes Benedict is a true, Texas hero! There isn’t a single person in Texas, myself included, who has done more to promote Liberty and the Libertarian Party of Texas, than our Executive Director, Wes Benedict. I never knew Davey Crockett or Sam Houston, but I am very proud to include Wes among my close, personal friends. As you read the eMail that Wes mailed out, please notice how much personal time, treasure, and talent he has selflessly devoted to the cause.

For the Cause of Liberty in Texas, I implore you to contribute money to the LPTX doorhanger campaign. When you call, please tell him “Michael sent me” so he knows that my blog entry is what motivated your donation. I have exactly $90 to my name. I am giving $45 of it to Wes.

Texas Libertarians: Urgent Request

Volunteer support for our “Quiz Across Texas” campaign has surpassed our expectations. (That’s good news!) We are well on our way to distributing our stock of door hangers. These door hangers feature the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz,” which has proven to be one of the most successful ways to get voters to find out they are Libertarians. We’re rapidly blowing past our original goal of 100,000 door hangers and need to place our next order of 100,000 or more immediately, before it’s too late. But to order the additional door hangers, we need funds!

Please visit our campaign materials page to see our outreach materials:

http://lptexas.org/campaignmat.shtml

and make a $500 contribution if you can. If you can only afford $200, $100, $50, or $20, please do that.

You can also mail a check (payable to “Libertarian Party of Texas”) to:

Libertarian Party of Texas
Attn: Quiz Across Texas
PO Box 41059
Austin, TX 78704

If you use the mail route, please send me a note (director@lptexas.org) or call me at 512-442-4910 between 8 AM and 10 PM any day of the week to let me know your contribution is in the mail. Or call me and I can take your credit card information over the phone.

In August, we purchased 100,000 door hangers. We only have 28,800 left! That’s a great problem to have so early in the campaign.

Now, we haven’t actually put up all of the other 61,200 yet. In fact, about 20,000 are in the hands of county chairs and a few distribution points in Dallas, Harris County, and a couple of other locations. Plus many others were recently sent out to volunteers who have not yet had time to distribute them. But they will soon! And when they’re done, they’ll be asking for more because this is such a great way for our many willing volunteers to get the Libertarian Party message out to voters. see more…

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Markets better than hierarchy?

I found this article to be pretty fascinating.

From CNN Money:

Jawing about tomorrow’s weather for an hour might sound more intriguing. But at HP, the DRAM powwows often turn into shouting matches for a simple reason: After each meeting the managers vote and then put out an official forecast that 70 HP buyers rely on to price more than $50 billion in HP computers and other hardware-often months before the chips that go in them are bought. If the forecasts miss by even a few cents, the difference, which can add up to millions of dollars, comes out of HP’s slim profit margin for hardware.

Bernardo Huberman, a senior fellow at HP Labs, believes there’s a smarter way to make predictions that affect a company’s bottom line – and he and Fine have made guinea pigs of the DRAM squad to prove his point.

These days, after each meeting, the 10 managers and 10 other colleagues from around the world log on to an internal website and enter bets on chip prices. Each “player” gets 100 tickets to place bets on different price ranges. At the end of the quarter, the winning player gets up to $250.

Huberman’s experiment is just a few months old, but already his betting market for DRAM prices is batting .750 against the status quo. So far it’s beaten the official HP forecast six out of eight times, and tied on the other two.

Removed from the closed-door setting of executive meetings, where personality and ego can skew honest opinion, the new forecasting tool “works better than the best person,” Huberman says.

More important, it’s lending credence to the notion that online betting and similar types of so-called prediction markets aren’t just for Wall Street and Las Vegas. They’re evolving into a potentially powerful management tool for making calls on everything from new hit products to next quarter’s sales numbers.

This isn’t about government so much, but the principle is the same: a free market of people making personal decisions based on their own knowledge and desires is a far better allocator of resources than a hierarchical decision-making structure, be it a government planning bureau or a corporate management structure.

And, like their fellows in government, the hierarchs in the business world are apparently jealous of their unnecessary power:

With blue-chip goliaths showing people how to mobilize brainpower, you’d think more would be racing to push ahead. Problem is, the better the markets get at performing business tasks, the more they make managers look expendable.

“If you have a culture in which vice presidents have been making the decisions for decades,” says Thomas Malone, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Business, “the very idea that you would let just anybody participate threatens a lot of people.”

Naturally though, I feel that the free market in business will correct this lack of a desire for a free market in decision-making. If you as a corporation can allocate resources better, then you can manufacture a better, cheaper product. If you can do it while skipping the padded salaries of management, then that’s even more true. The hierarchs of the economy will find themselves out of jobs one day. They can slow down this inevitability, but they will never stop it, so long as the free market remains free.

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Swastika crawls up Air Force chief’s ass; dies

UPDATE: CNN MISQUOTES, MAKES SHIT UP, WHATEVER… It seems Secretary Wynne never actually said that, it was just CNN’s way of spicing up their story by using wild-ass out-of-context quoting in the lede. Cut and paste journalism is this month’s photoshop, natch. Then again, the blogosphere reaction shows how very little we trust the government these days. /UPDATE

As an American citizen guinea pig, I simply cannot stand for this.

Nonlethal weapons such as high-power microwave devices should be used on American citizens in crowd-control situations before being used on the battlefield, the Air Force secretary said Tuesday.

The object is basically public relations. Domestic use would make it easier to avoid questions from others about possible safety considerations, said Secretary Michael Wynne.

“If we’re not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation,” said Wynne.

Yes, let’s test out these brand-new weapons on American citizens at protests. It’s better to potentially kill/disable those stupid anti-war anarchy lefto fucks anyway, because who’s gonna protest? Their government? Pshyeah.

Here’s a crazy idea: why don’t we test things out humanely? Pay some willing adults good money to stand there and be subjected to this weirdass Star Trek shit. That sounds like a good idea. We can pay for it by, I dunno, telling all those pork-eating congresscritters to piss off and die when they try to pull stunts like this:

He said he can’t cut more people, and it would not be wise to take funding from military programs that are needed to protect the country. But he said he also incurs resistance when he tries to save money on operations and maintenance by retiring aging aircraft.

“We’re finding out that those are, unfortunately, prized possessions of some congressional districts,” said Wynne, adding that the Air Force will have to “take some appetite suppressant pills.” He said he has asked employees to look for efficiencies in their offices.

God I hate our government.

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Hmm… :\

These charges could hurt Stanhope’s campaign. From CNN:

The entertainment company that produces the “Girls Gone Wild” films and its founder pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges they failed to document the ages of female performers in sexually oriented productions.

Mantra Films of Santa Monica, California, entered a plea agreement in a federal court in Panama City, Florida, the Justice Department said.

Authorities said Joseph Francis, founder of Mantra Films and a related company, MRA Holdings, also agreed to plead guilty to charges to be filed later in Los Angeles, and to pay fines and restitution totaling $2.1 million.

Fortunately, the article doesn’t mention his name, and Stanhope wasn’t involved in the suit as far as I can tell. But the fact that he worked on the project could be spun some really hideous ways and the Stanhope campaign’s gotta be prepared for this. I’m sure Doug knows way more about all this than we do, and already has plans in place to counter it, but nonetheless this is a potential propaganda blow for the other side (most likely for conservatives) and we’ve gotta be prepared for it.

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8% is the new 2% for Libertarians

Apparently Libertarian Garrett Michael Hayes is polling 8% for the governor’s race down in Georgia. According to Ballot Access News, the Libertarian results for that race have always hovered in the 2-3% range. So a breakout candidate like Hayes is awesome and I hope he keeps his numbers up and climbing.

Similarly, I heard tell that Badnarik’s numbers were around 7-8%, according to a poll taken by the Democratic challenger in the race, Ted Ankrum.

We’re also forcing our way into the debates more often, as has happened in Indiana and Colorado. And when we get an eloquent speaker in the debates, we clean house.

I dunno just how many high-level Libertarians we’ll be electing here in 2006, but if these upwards trends are permanent, it means that libertarian values are finally resounding with voters, we’re finally speaking to the issues they care about, and we’re probably gaining ground for good with a lot of people.

Remember, the Socialist Party changed the face of American politics forever when they only grabbed 10% a small portion of the Presidential vote. This means, if nothing else, that we’re starting to change the face of local politics. By 2008, we might even be seeing a few higher-level elected Libertarians, if this trend continues.

Rumors of the slow death of the LP have been greatly exaggerated. We’re surging ahead full steam into the future.

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New LP Candidate Tracker Released

The LP’s got a shiny new toy for all of us to play with.

Instead of talking about this bad boy myself, I’ll let the LP e-mailer do the job:

Last night, we officially launched the LP’s Candidate Tracker!

The Candidate Tracker (CT) is an online tool that reports on our candidates from around the nation and ranks then according to objective data. This data includes, funds raised, media appearances, opposition, etc.

We have an initial 25 candidates currently loaded into the system and over the weekend we will be adding the remaining candidates that have sent in their data.

Take a look for yourself by visiting www.lp.org/candidates. You can also access the CT from the main page of LP.org. Note that candidates are listed by highest score (their CT Score) but you can also view candidates by state.

If you’re a candidate and want to be sure you’re included, please send an e-mail to campaigns@lp.org and let us know. Our consultant, Sean Haugh, who has been a great help in collecting this information will get back to you and create your profile.

This looks like a really sweet tool that’ll help us pinpoint our funding towards credible races, quite possibly leading to some real breakthroughs in the next few election cycles. Way to go, National!

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New York Times Picks Up State Of World Liberty Story

Remember how we broke the story on the State of World Liberty and pretty much all of Eastern Europe picked it up?

Well, now the New York Times is doing so. They put an article out on September 5 about Estonia’s ranking in Nick Wilson’s index, and the reason for it and what it’s done to Estonia. I think this is pretty much an airtight case against socialism, too.

Since you have to register for the article, I found it reprinted here. But here’s the relevant portions:

Economists call Estonia the Baltic Tiger, the sequel to the Celtic Tiger as Europe’s success story, and its policies are more radical than Ireland’s. On this year’s State of World Liberty Index, a ranking of countries by their economic and political freedom, Estonia is in first place, just ahead of Ireland and seven places ahead of the U.S. (North Korea comes in last at 159th.)

It transformed itself from an isolated, impoverished part of the Soviet Union thanks to a former prime minister, Mart Laar, a history teacher who took office not long after Estonia was liberated. He was 32 years old and had read just one book on economics: “Free to Choose,” by Milton Friedman, which he liked especially because he knew Friedman was despised by the Soviets.

Laar was politically naïve enough to put the theories into practice. Instead of worrying about winning trade wars, he unilaterally disarmed by abolishing almost all tariffs. He welcomed foreign investors and privatized most government functions (with the help of a privatization czar who had formerly been the manager of the Swedish pop group Abba). He drastically cut taxes on businesses and individuals, instituting a simple flat income tax of 26 percent.

These reforms were barely approved by the legislature amid warnings of disaster: huge budget deficits, legions of factory workers and farmers who would lose out to foreign competition. But today the chief concerns are what to do with the budget surplus and how to deal with a labor shortage.

It’s obvious: socialism can’t hold a candle to the free market insofar as the creation of wealth, or its equitable distribution, goes. They have no argument.

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Starchild? Arrested For Solicitation Charges? Muh?

Yes that’s right, sadly it appears that the most fabulous Libertarian of all has been on the business end of the omnipotent state.

From the Bay Area Reporter:

Starchild, a candidate in the District 8 supervisor race, is fighting prostitution charges after he was arrested in a police sting operation last winter in a Fremont hotel. Already struggling to be taken seriously as a political contender, the perennial candidate could face jail time if a jury convicts him.

Despite his arrest, Starchild said he saw no reason why he should not enter the supervisor race. He first ran for the District 8 seat in 2002 and made his first foray in politics when he ran for state Assembly in 2000. Two years ago he tried to win election to the city’s school board.

On the one hand, this is probably not the best thing to be doing if you’re going to be running for public office, even if you lived in an area where prostitution is perfectly legal. On the other hand, I do admire his stand for civil rights, and given that he’s in the San Francisco area, his hardline stance on sex worker’s rights might actually resonate well with voters. I guess we’ll just have to see how well this works out for his campaign, as far as this issue goes.

At any rate, I think we can all agree that how he was arrested is pretty much horrible, political candidate or no:

His legal troubles began on the morning of December 6 last year when a woman responded to his escort advertisement on Craigslist.com. According to various accounts of his arrest he posted online and provided via a friend to the Bay Area Reporter, Starchild received a call from the woman, who identified herself as Sara, asking him to meet her and her friend, Tiffany, at the Best Western Garden Court Inn on Mowry Avenue in Fremont.

After taking BART from San Francisco to the inn, Starchild said he arrived at the hotel and met the woman he had spoken to on the phone, who gave her name this time as Heather. He said he questioned her about the name change ““ she said she did not want to use her real name on the phone ““ but was not overly alarmed by the discrepancy.

Once inside the room, he noticed cash on a bedside table but declined at first to take it from the women. He began to undress, lit several candles and opened a bottle of wine he had brought, while the women peppered him with questions about what kinds of activities they would engage in.

According to the accounts, at this point Starchild heard a voice shout “Fremont police” from outside the door and six officers barged into the room with a canine officer followed by a television cameraman who identified himself as a KRON 4 employee. The police placed him in handcuffs and charged him with soliciting prostitution.

It was a setup, which is all too common in that industry. He hadn’t even done anything illegal yet before the police charged in and slapped cuffs on him. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? And on the nightly news? Whoever the hell “KRON 4″ is, they as an organization can eat a bowl of dicks and die, if they get their kicks out of seeing human rights violations.

Nonetheless, I still think the timing of this was pretty bad, so let this be a lesson for all future Libertarian candidates: Take a temporary break from your sex worker job while you’re running for office. You can preach just as well about the evils of sex worker rights violations from outside of the clink. Thank you.

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Coburn Smells Bacon… In The General Direction Of Alaska

It looks like Captain Bridge To Nowhere is at it again.

From the Fort Smith Times Record:

Still, those senators have ways to stymie things. One of the senators most criticized for his personal projects, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, has a hold of his own on Coburn’s bill to make public the spending patterns of the government. Called the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, the legislation calls for the creation of a database open to the public where citizens can track government spending.

“He’s the only senator blocking it,” Coburn said of Stevens.

Coburn and Stevens sparred earlier this year when Coburn attempted to block the so-called “bridge to nowhere,” a transportation project in Alaska to build a bridge that less then 60 people a day would use that would have received $223 million from the federal government.

Coburn said the purpose of the transparency act is to open up government so citizens can hold officials accountable.

“What we need is transparency and sunshine,” Coburn said.

For a while, Stevens refused to confirm that he was the one placing the anonymous hold on the legislation, but he finally admitted it today.

While I hardly agree with Coburn on everything, he does strike me as one of the last few honest Senators left in America. We need that Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act to pass if we’re to have any hope of reclaiming the nation from its debts.

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More News From The Smither Campaign

Smither’s picking up some major MSM coverage lately.

The New York Times noted his campaign:

The bleak prospects for Republicans in the 22nd District has prompted some to consider an alliance with the Libertarian candidate, Bob Smither, an electrical engineer, who does have a place on the ballot. “I’m not convinced a write-in will succeed,” said Jerry Patterson, commissioner of the Texas General Land Office and a Republican running for re-election. At least Mr. Smither, he said, would vote with the House Republican leadership, “denying Nancy Pelosi a vote for speaker.”

Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle had this to say about Smither:

The write-in campaign is a long shot even in the Republican-leaning district, and party leaders have said they want to unite behind a single contender to improve GOP chances of beating Democratic nominee Nick Lampson. Libertarian Bob Smither also is on the ballot and says he is receiving support from some Republicans who want to keep the seat out of Democratic hands.

In an open letter Monday to voters in the 22nd District, Smither wrote that he “firmly subscribes to the Libertarian ideals of small government, individual liberty, and personal responsibility. But I have decided that if elected I will vote for a Republican speaker of the House.”

Smither, the co-founder of the Laura Recovery Center for missing children, has lived in the Friendswood part of the district since 1990.

“It will be in the best interest of Republicans to throw their support behind our candidate rather than giving this seat up to Democrats,” said Shane Cory, executive director of the Libertarian National Committee.

“Republicans’ only shot at retaining a conservative vote is to back Bob Smither. We have a chance of taking this seat with their support.”

No Libertarian has won a congressional seat during the party’s 35-year existence.

The outpouring of MSM coverage for Smither’s campaign is a good sign-I’d say that his campaign has a rather good chance of succeeding at this point, if we keep the momentum up.

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Angela Keaton Is Hilarious

It’s a slow news day, so I decided to reprint this for its humor value alone. I guess Angela Keaton’s gotten fed up with the Libertarian Party of California and released a letter saying as much.

From Freedom’s Phoenix:

No, I don’t mind that each and every member past and present of the LPC ExCom possesses a personality defect or some completely untoward eccentricity. What I mind is that every faction insists that its vision of the LPC is the true and only heaven. Meanwhile, I’m just some anarchist crank who gets elected merely because I possess a vagina.

Granted, I am developing a fondness for this collection of kooks, hence, I am issuing not so much a fatwa but a guide to how and why I will vote any goddamn way I want for the remainder of my term.

Please: No emails, no plaintive phone calls. I’m done with the plots, the therapy sessions, the tormented revelations. Like the rest of you, I am voting based on my values and if you don’t like it you can vote me out in 2008 when we have our convention in an efficiency off of Wilshire or a cargo ship off of Novaya Zemlya.

*snicker* That’s awesome.

1.) Operation Breakthrough–It is distasteful however well meaning to create a professional class of libertarian bureaucrats through elections to non-partisan administrative boards. While I maintain the deepest respect and affection for our chair, Operation Breakthrough is antithetical to the goals of a libertarian society and merely adopts the strategy of our oppressors.

Finally, as we slide toward a moderate platform with an increasing reluctance to stand by our radical principles, we demonstrate no understanding of the Hegelian dialectic, human psychology or recent political history. Those yet unknown fellow travelers among us crave, “a choice, not an echo.”

This… is a different type of funny. Anytime we take power anywhere, we’re clearly betraying our long-held principle of never actually holding any political power. The voters are going to feel hurt and betrayed, especially the mighty, um, Hegelian dialectic lobby. Oh, they’re going to hate us.

Major props to Angela Keaton for a few minutes of hilarity.

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Skepticism Alive And Well In Britain

I guess the British trust their government just about as much as we trust ours. I’m normally not one for conspiracy theories, but the circumstances around this supposed “9/11 2″ plot do make me wonder.

From The Guardian:

Suspicion and (often internet-fuelled) talk of conspiracies is no longer the prerogative of the young, it seems. According to Khan, it has been noticeable that older Muslims, traditionally engaged in mainstream politics in a way that their children are not, have talked openly of their anger and distrust of the government in recent months.

Scepticism about the plot is shared by many in the area and not just by Muslims, says Qurban Hussain, a local resident and the deputy leader of Luton borough council. “People are definitely sceptical. They are not sure whether these claims are just to clamp down on British Muslims. Is it scaremongering tactics by the government or another reason to harass more innocent people?

I do confess that as much as Bush fills me with distrust, Blair fills me even moreso. Labour has a lot of explaining to do to the British and American people, if they want our confidence.

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Someone Offer The Pope A Cookie; Freedom Made Him Cry

They’re at it again.

You’d think that Europe, long famed for generally being a place of civil libertarian badassery, wouldn’t succumb to shit like this. Alas, no.

From CNN:

Prosecutors plan to keep an eye on Madonna’s weekend concert in Duesseldorf to see if the pop diva repeats the mock crucifixion scene that has drawn fire from religious leaders.

Johannes Mocken, a spokesman for prosecutors in Duesseldorf, said Tuesday that a repeat of that scene during Sunday’s concert could be construed as insulting religious beliefs.

Madonna, who is known for her theatrical, action-packed shows, wears a crown of fake thorns while performing on a mirrored cross.

The stunt, which has been included from the outset of her worldwide “Confessions” tour, has been criticized as an act of hostility toward the Roman Catholic Church.

Oh boo fucking hoo. I’d expect guys with funny hats to be all over the banning freedom thing in, say, Iran. But it’s happening here in the West; and moreover it’s coming from the same source. Remember that the Catholics were knocking the right of free expression back during the whole Mohammed cartoon thing.

No offense, Catholicism, but this Ratzinger dude sucks at freedom. Give us John Paul II back-at least he was more of a moderate. And get with it on the whole “freedom of speech” thing. The Inquisition was so 16th century.

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Nebraska ACLU Stands Up Against Wiretappings

Here’s an interesting take on the whole wiretapping thing: what happens when an action may or may not violate the federal constitution (according to the SCOTUS interpretation) but it violates a state’s constitution? Can a state ban private collusion with the government on wiretapping?

The ACLU of Nebraska is set to find out. They filed an FOIA request asking about FBI monitoring on anti-war groups in Nebraska. Two formal complaints were filed with the Nebraska Public Service Commission, one against AT&T and one against Verizon.

Enclosed with this letter are two formal complaints against Verizon and AT&T
that ACLU Nebraska files on behalf of its members regarding reports that these
companies violated their privacy as well as Nebraska state law.
In filing these formal complaints, ACLU Nebraska also wishes to share a key
legal decision regarding a telecommunications provider and the state secrets privilege,
delivered Thursday, July 20, 2006. In the case of Hepting v. AT&T Corp a federal judge
refused to dismiss a lawsuit against AT&T, arising out of the company’s cooperation
with the National Security Agency’s surveillance program. In the first ruling on this issue
anywhere in the country, the court affirmed that the NSA program itself was not a state
secret nor was AT&T’s cooperation with that program. The court further ruled that the
privilege did not require that the lawsuit be dismissed and ordered the parties to go
forward with discovery regarding the non-secret information in the case.

Even if, by some miracle, SCOTUS rules wiretapping okay on the federal level, it’s possible to throw fifty separate wrenches into the system by taking this to the state level. If anyone’s interested in this particular case, you can keep up with it here. It might be a smart idea to get together any and all civil libertarian groups to start things like this in all fifty states, and strip the secrecy bare until we’re certain our privacy is safe.

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Bob Smither Needs Your Phonecalls

Normally I don’t rock the whole straight-up copypaste of a press release, especially one from LPHQ (which most of you would have likely read anyway), but I figured this was justified. This is time-sensitive and I haven’t found anything on the LP site (do correct me if it’s on there) about this-so yeah. Help out the LP, and let’s see just what kind of an edge that our new GOTV tool can give us. And let’s get Bob Smither in Congress.

Here’s the press release. see more…

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CNN Has Really Screwed-Up Priorities

To recap, let’s take a look at recent world happenings. Let’s see here-we’ve got the war in Iraq, the war between Israel and Lebanon, a massive debt, scandals all around. So let’s take a look at what’s on CNN’s front page today, Monday, August 7, 2006, at 7:18 PM Central Standard Time.

Yes, that’s right. Paris Hilton deciding to try not to fuck anyone for a year is not only news, it’s apparently front-page news. With everything else going on in the world, they report on this.

I’m not one of those “OMG LIBERAL MEDIA” types, but very clearly something’s fucked up inside Ted Turner’s little cash cow.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Just a little bit of clarification, CNN was sold by Ted Turner quite a while ago and is owned these days by AOL/Time Warner. As a side note, I can hardly blame CNN for covering stupid news like this when it’s their viewers that clamor for it.

Hell, I even clicked on a link this morning because who isn’t curious to know what a Hello Kitty + Paris Hilton mash-up doll looks like… and you’ll probably click it too.

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Europe Undergoing Pro-Capitalist Sea Change?

Apparently there’s a growing trend in Europe: capitalism. From Newsweek:

Europe could use more people like Ehssan Dariani. The 26-year-old entrepreneur runs a hot Internet start-up called studiVZ””Europe’s fastest-growing social network for university students. Since setting up in a cheap Berlin loft only last fall, he’s already hired 25 people. Yet when Dariani looks back at his high-school days, a decade ago in the west German city of Kassel, he remembers his teachers warning against exactly what he’s doing. “They taught us the market economy was a dangerous wilderness full of risk and bankruptcy,” Dariani says. “We never learned how prices affect supply and demand, only about evil managers and unjust wages.” If he’d listened to his teachers, he’d be among the vast majority of German students who dream of becoming civil servants or fitting into the comfortable hierarchy of a traditional corporation. Instead he set out and created some desperately needed jobs.

Such blatant disinformation sheds new light on the debate over why it is that Europeans lag so far behind Americans in rates of entrepreneurship and job creation. It also helps explain widespread resistance among Europeans to accepting even the smallest reforms of their highly regulated economies. But recently there appears to be a small but growing backlash against the popular vilification of capitalism. Unthinkable only a decade ago, business associations, think tanks and a whole slew of capitalist and libertarian activists, many only in their 20s and 30s, are leading a tiny but noisy counterattack. Their common goal: making sure the next generation of Europeans is less in tune with Karl Marx and more with Adam Smith.

Good news to hear about the birthplace of capitalism.

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More Goodness From Nick Wilson

Now he’s seeking your, yes, your opinion on whether the Libertarian Party should try to reach out to other libertarian political groups (the Republican Liberty Caucus, the Democratic Freedom Caucus, minor libertarian parties, et cetera). He’s considering making this his next big project after the Freedom Index, if there appears to be enough support for it. You can vote here. Purists, pragmatists, and everyone in between-let your voice be heard.

This guy has a history of doing good things for liberty-he’s gotten insane amounts of coverage in Eastern Europe and the BBC with the Freedom Index, he helped co-found the Libertarian Reform Caucus, and so forth and so on. So let’s help him out with this.

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French Freedom French Fries Served On Capitol Hill

The Republicans are switching it back. From the official LP blog and the Washington Times:

The fries on Capitol Hill are French again. So is the breakfast toast in the congressional cafeterias, with both fries and toast having been liberated from the appellation “freedom.” Three years after House Republicans trumpeted the new names to get back at the French for snubbing the coalition of the willing in Iraq, congressmen don’t even want to talk about french fries, which are actually native to Belgium, and toast.

And so ends one of the most absurd aspects of American politics for the past few years.

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Bush Wants To Expand Military Court Authorities

Yeah, this is no good.

A draft Bush administration plan for special military courts seeks to expand the reach and authority of such “commissions” to include trials, for the first time, of people who are not members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban and are not directly involved in acts of international terrorism, according to officials familiar with the proposal.

The plan, which would replace a military trial system ruled illegal by the Supreme Court in June, would also allow the secretary of defense to add crimes at will to those under the military court’s jurisdiction. The two provisions would be likely to put more individuals than previously expected before military juries, officials and independent experts said.

Once again, our Fearless Leader demonstrates his uncanny ability to turn chicken soup into chicken shit.

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Another Take On The Russell Kanning Situation

Frequent HoT junkie Seth Cohn just offered another view on the whole Russell Kanning deal that Ian already covered. From the Concord Monitor:

“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!” according to the late Barry Goldwater. I’m sure Russell Kanning agrees with that sentiment, and because of that belief, he is sitting in a jail cell. He’s likely on a hunger strike by now, and protests calling for his release are already in the planning stages. I won’t be at any of those protests though, because as much as I like Russell as a person and fellow liberty activist, he’s in the wrong, this time, in my opinion.

Last week, Russell was arrested while attempting to pass out flyers to IRS agents, which compared Bush to Hitler and asking them if they wanted to be a part of that evil, or if, instead, they would quit their jobs. Released right away, he went back, this time without his flyers, and attempted again to enter the IRS office. Arrested yet again, he then publicly announced that he would not attend a court hearing the next day. On Monday, federal agents came to his home, where Russell was seized and taken forcibly to a Federal Court in Concord, to answer to an arraignment hearing. Russell made clear he would refuse to cooperate with the proceedings, he didn’t want a lawyer, and if allowed to leave, he would not voluntarily return to the court. As a result, the trial was held right then and there, and after being found guilty on 4 of 5 charges (essentially disobedience of the officers and disruptive conduct) he’s now being held in jail until his sentencing, in early September. The sentence could be as high as 4 months in jail and twenty thousand dollars.

Russell has a history of doing non-violent civil disobedience activism. He’s taken to dressing in overalls and bearing a pitchfork, evoking some archetypal farmer, yet formerly, he was an accountant, and among other things, now publishes a small newspaper. He holds protests and events without permits. He burns flags and hold up picket signs along the roadside. He refuses to argue before a judge or post bail, and pleads guilty when charged with a crime, rather than fight it, because he refuses to acknowledge the court’s right to try him in the first place. When he attempted to board an airplane, without any identification and without submitting to a secondary search by security, while carrying his Bible, Constitution and an airline ticket, he was arrested and pled guilty to trespassing. No one was hurt, and if he’d been allowed to pass, his flight would have been uneventful. When he and his wife were holding signs protesting eminent domain and President Bush, in Manchester on a public street corner, they refused to move to a ‘free speech zone’ and were arrested. Those charges were later dropped.

Russell wrote before going to the IRS offices: “I don’t plan on hurting people, but I am resisting them and might mess up the office. I don’t think it is infantile, but maybe I am wrong. I do call it tilting at windmills. I have chosen to begin with the IRS. Jesus Christ overturned the moneychangers tables. I will try to turn over the tax collectors desks. I might even use a big magnet (a weapon of mass destruction). I am trying to break laws and certainly disturb the peace.” This potential threat of violence is why the officers were waiting for him in the first place last week, and at the first sign of his intent to commit that act, they stepped in and arrested him.

I think Seth has a point here. There’s nothing wrong with civil disobedience, and there’s plenty wrong with the notion of “free speech zones.” But going so far as to threaten property damage? In the name of God? Maybe if Kanning was Jesus Christ Himself. But that’s pretty much against Christian Anarchism, in just about every meaningful sense of the term. And it’s certainly not libertarian.

Seth’s got the right idea here. We shouldn’t be apologists for this sort of thing; we should apologize for it instead, lest we be associated with mayhem, property damage and extremism.

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Estonia Owns Us, Dudes

freest_countries_on_earthWho would’ve thought that a former part of the USSR would kick America’s shiny ass when it came to liberty?

Nick Wilson of the LRC compiled a list of the world’s freest countries. The research was derived from four separate studies measuring economic freedom, personal freedom and freedom of the press. According to the research, Estonia is the world’s freest country, followed by Ireland and then Canada. The United States of America? Eighth.

We’ve got some work to do, folks.

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Democrats Co-Opt Libertarian Iraq Exit Strategy

The old maxim once again rings true: all the best ideas belong to the Libertarians. The jackyderms might malign us, call us radicals or nutcases, but in the end they have no option but to implement our ideas to save the country and their own sorry political hides. From CNN:

House and Senate Democratic leaders have joined together to urge President Bush to start bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq this year.

The move is part of an effort to shake the notion that Democrats are split on the Iraq war and keep the focus on what they see as a winning issue against Republicans.

Twelve Democrats, including the Senate and House minority leaders and ranking members of key committees, wrote President Bush on Sunday about the matter.

“In the interests of American national security, our troops and our taxpayers, the open-ended commitment in Iraq that you have embraced cannot and should not be sustained,” said the Democratic letter, which CNN obtained.

Democratic senators and aides said the letter was intended to illustrate a unified position on the war after June debates in the House and Senate exposed differences inside the party, which Republicans tried to exploit.

The Democrats will be adopting an exit strategy that the Libertarians put out almost, what, a year ago now? And they’ll be claiming it as their own, of course. Hagel, a Republican senator from Nebraska, has already acknowledged the wisdom of going Libertarian on this issue. Now, the Democrats are realizing that a coherent anti-war message is the only thing that will save their party from oblivion come November, and they’re forced to give the American people what they want at long last.

We’re the only party making any sense these days. Whether anyone in the political world wants to come out and admit it or not, we truly are the party of ideas and it will only be the implementation of libertarian ideas, whether by elected Libertarians or by statist jackyderms afraid of the consequences, that will save this nation.

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