This is pretty remarkable...
You may have heard already, but if you haven't, check out the search results on Google for the phrase "miserable failure".
It probably won't last much longer, but right now, the #1 result is the biography page of George W. Bush.
--Instant Update: I just read a Newsday article that said it's an instance of "Google bombing", where a bunch of people linked that term to the bio page, to boost its listing. Pretty clever -- and now it will likely get Internet-wide exposure. Hard to say what the political ramifications of it will be.
Here's an archived copy of the Google page, since the original is going to change eventually.
I'm wondering if Google will penalize the pranksters or not. I pondered the idea of hopping on the bandwagon (I even had the link made), but I decided that Google treats this site too well for me to join in. It's not worth risking a demotion when Google probably provides 40% or more of my traffic.
Further Update: I see that Democrat Dick Gephardt has a site called amiserablefailure.com, which features the phrase. Is this Gephardt trying to out-'Net Howard Dean? Hmm...
Here's a cross-post from The Little Brown Reader:
I just wanted to post a more prominent link to the ever-growing California Recall Archives here at The Little Brown Reader. I'm soaking recall articles up like a sponge lately -- there were 14 recall-related entries in the past 3 days. I'm mostly watching closely to see if there's enough of a defection from Arnold to motivate the No On Recall movement, or to shift a critical mass over to support super-conservative-but-well-respected Tom McClintock.
Enjoy the archives! They may only matter for a few more days. ;-)
(I haven't decided whether I'll start new archives for the recall that's likely to start shortly after this election.)
I may post something else here about the recall before it happens, but if I don't, there are three entries at the Reader that shed a good amount of light on my feelings: there's this one about Tom McClintock, and how everyone can pretty much tell he'd be the best (of the frontrunners) for the job, and this one where I link to an article entitled The Progressive Case for Governor Tom McClintock, plus this one and this one where I remark upon the candidate that the Libertarian Party of California chose to endorse.
(And in case there's room for misinterpretation, I won't be voting for or endorsing Tom McClintock -- as a lot of Libertarians are doing -- because he's a Republican, and I can't/won't support the Republican (or Democratic) Party.)
I want to share a mix of things I've been reading on and around this Independence Day. They all tie in to the same theme, in their own way.
In this must-read essay, Dinesh D'Souza explains what it is that draws people from other countries to America. He calls it "self-determination" and "the pursuit of happiness", both of which support my belief that what draws people to America is freedom. Not wealth or welfare, but the promise of individual liberty.
This chronology of Thomas Edison's inventions and projects shows the amazing potential of unrestrained human energy. This is a shorter version from the same source, and here's a version that's got a lot more narrative detail, but might not be quite as reliable with the hard facts. And here's one from Edison Elementary School that's got narrative and is probably pretty reliable.
Any of those, or any telling of Edison's life really, shows just how much a person can accomplish if they set their mind to it -- and if they are allowed to. There are so many limits, controls, and bureaucratic barriers in modern-day America, that I'm doubtful that a Thomas Edison born today would be able to follow a similar course. Undoubtedly, people can still accomplish great things, but if you just imagine how much extra time, money, and energy of Edison's would have been consumed in dealing with getting permits and licenses, fighting with various officials from various agencies, complying with regulations, and so on...well, let's guesstimate that it might have consumed 20% of his personal working capital. (I believe the amount would have been much, much higher.) What 20% would you subtract from a life like that? Just think about how hard it is to open up a factory or a laboratory now. In many instances, Edison went from looking at the problem to solving it to mass-producing the solution in 90 days or less. Is that possible now, in the U.S.? I think not. And it's not due to the limitations of human energy or knowledge. It's due to needing to get approval or disapproval before doing or not doing almost anything of significance.
Finally, this column by Michael Kinsley proposes an exit strategy by which to cut short the likely long debate over gay marriage -- which is, to get the government out of the job of licensing or sanctioning marriages entirely. His case similar to the view I posted back in December of 2001, but he fleshes it out more than I did.
We turn now to a new chapter in the Get Off Your Butt Chronicles. An ironic one, since it's centered around things you can do without any posterior movement whatsoever.
Meet E-Actions for Freedom, a new weblog here at this site, where I will post action items -- lots of them. Say goodbye to your "But I don't know what to do!" Gone are your concerns about what to do with the copious amount of money you've been wanting to donate to freedom organizations. Never again must you end your weeks feeling guilty for not having written to your Congressperson enough.
E-Actions for Freedom is just an infant site at this point, but I think it will be growing tall and mighty pretty quickly. In some ways, it actually makes things easier for me, in that it provides a simple outlet for some of my e-mail flow. I don't have to struggle with who or what lists to forward things to, or whether to mention it here. I'll just post every action item that I deem worthy over there. I'll also be making up a lot of my own actions, as I am wont to do. I suspect that this is the start of something potentially big. If my estimates are right, there will be a couple hundred actions up there within the next few weeks probably.
There's a subscribe box there, right where it is on this page, but it's for those updates. That will be a separate e-mail list, which you're welcome (indeed, invited) to sign up for. I've got to make some changes to clarify the two different blogs, but other than that, it's off to a good start. There are three worthwhile actions posted there so far. Jump in, and tell your friends!
They honor activists who have completed one of their three criteria -- writing 3 letters to the editor with "libertarian" in them, giving three libertarian speeches to primarily non-libertarian audiences, or working 3 "Operation Politically Homeless" booths. It was that last that I did. The OPH booth is basically an information table where you encourage people to take the World's Smallest Political Quiz, and map them on a big chart -- the one you see when you take the quiz (which you should do, if you haven't).
I feel like a Junior Light of Liberty, however, because I really should have completed all three criteria. I had one speech, and one op-ed piece, but that's not enough. It's not like I wasn't keeping busy, but I wasn't doing those things enough, and I should have been.
Which is why my hat's off to Aaron Biterman, a young Libertarian firebrand of the finest kind, who I've cyber-known (and known of) for quite a while. He was one of a double-handful of folks who completed the Lights of Liberty Triathlon, doing three of each of the requisite things. My hat's even more off (I'll lay it on the ground or something) to Jim Lark, former chair of the LP. He's done the triathlon a few years running now.
I'll be completing the triathlon each year from here on out, and I'm inviting you to too. If you don't consider yourself a libertarian, you can play along anyway. Just do three of those things expounding whatever view it is you have (as long as it's not foul and hateful), and I'll send you a Light of Activism award. How's that for a deal?
3 letters. 3 talks about what's important to you. 3 tables at the street fair or something. It's not so much...maybe 24 hours worth of your time, if you have to work a lot on your letters and speeches. Over the course of the year, that's not a whole lot to ask for, in terms of trying to make the world a better place.
And if you can handle embracing the libertarian philosophy, you can get your name on a roll of honor page like me, and get a cool certficate and other stuff. It's a little geeky, I suppose, but geeky is cool now, right? ;-)
Either way, consider this another episode in the Get Off Your Butt Chronicles. Just presenting another option for y'all.
You may have heard that Total Information Awareness has been re-named Terrorism Information Awareness, so it's not a scary Big Brother project anymore. (Phew!) They got rid of that spooky eyeball-on-the-world logo a while ago, and now they've decided on a less scary name, so civil libertarians all around the world can breath a sigh of relief.
If my sarcasm isn't clear enough, maybe Mark Fiore's update to his brilliant first TIA animation will suffice. His Flash animations are consistently some of the cleverest political satire around, and I think this is the funniest one I've seen so far.
TIA Two (Cuddly!)
R. Lee Wrights, editor and writer for Liberty4All (and an editor of the excellent Rational Review News Digest), wrote a commentary recently which gets at the heart of one of the keys of the philosophy of freedom: choices. I've been working on an article on this same issue, though I've been thinking of it in terms of "decisions" instead of "choices". Same concept, really -- just a different measuring unit in that realm. I often find myself using the "decisions factor" when explaining to people why liberty is important, and why it's under threat.
I'm not going to get into my version of explaining this point now, because I want to develop it fully. I had most of it recorded on my digital voice recorder, which I use quite a lot to catch my thoughts, but it went missing about a couple weeks ago, and I've about resigned myself to it being lost for good. Along with about an hour-plus of various commentary bits, ideas, and to-do items. I'm surprised I lost it -- it had become pretty much inseparable from me, like my car keys or my glasses, but I guess it slipped away (fell out of my shirt pocket, I suspect) while I was out running errands or something.
Anyway, my "Decisions, Decisions" article is ripe for the writing...I just have to carve out some time for it. In the meantime, R. Lee's "Choices" covers a number of the same ideas. I'll probably approach it a little differently, but I like what he has to say. That's true for most of R.'s articles that I read. He puts a calm and reasoned face on his pieces generally -- writing more to convert the curious than to preach to the choir, which is what all libertarians need to seek to do. Because when prepared and delivered in a calm and rational manner, most libertarian arguments and solutions make sense to a lot of people, I've found.
Here is the text of the first ten amendments of the U.S. Constitution, known as The Bill of Rights -- adopted on December 15th, 1791.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Thanks to USConstitution.net for the text.
I found a funny-but-sad Daily Show segment on the Comedy Central website. It's a simulated interview/debate conducted by Jon Stewart between Governor George Bush and President George Bush, and it painfully illustrates the extreme 180 that Bush has done in his views on foreign policy between the time he was campaigning and now. Basically, what he said then is the opposite of what he says (and does) now.
See for yourself:
FoxNews superstar and all-around hard-to-like guy Bill O'Reilly has a poll on his web site right now asking if marijuana use should be decriminalized in the U.S. When I got an e-mail letting me know about it, the author said that "no" was winning. "Yes" is now winning, as it should be. Help make sure it stays that way -- go to BillOReilly.com and scroll down a bit. The poll is on the right side.
There's no telling how long the poll will run, so get your vote in now -- and spread the word! O'Reilly is a huge TV news personality, generally known to be a conservative, and openly and firmly against any loosening of drug laws. This is a good opportunity to challenge the O'Reilly paradigm.
I saw a speech on C-Span late the other night by former Attorney General (under President Johnson) Ramsey Clark, the man behind VoteToImpeach.org (which I knew), and the founder and Chairman of International A.N.S.W.E.R. (which I didn't know). The speech was great -- it was all about the dangers of what Bush has gotten us into post-9/11. It'd be silly to try and capsulize it here, especially since it was two days ago that I saw it, but I agreed with most of what he had to say...and the Q & A session that followed the speech was even more enjoyable (and less capsulizable).
The video is online, like most of C-Span's past programming, but I couldn't find a page to link to that featured it per se. However, this link should take you to a video search results page where the speech is the second result listed. I'd post the direct link that that page offers, but it's a RealMedia stream pop-up link, and I doubt I can get it to work right coming from here. So just go to that C-Span search results page, and click on the "U.S. Militarism Threatens the Destiny of Humanity" link. The speech is dated 5/12/2003. That should be enough to point your way there. It's really a speech worth hearing.
I'm overdue in giving props to Dane Carlson, creator of the new libertarian community blog Libertyfilter.org. He noticed my list of e-zine and list subscriptions, and gave it a mention, as well as adding me to his blogroll.
Dane appears to be a weblog guru -- his site CarlsonCarlson.com says "We can help you build a weblog that'll make you rich, famous, and beautiful." The home page is unlike any I've ever seen, though. It's a sole page, with no links to click in, and no contact information or credits. Pretty weird. I'm not objecting, though -- Dane seems pretty cool, even with his weird home page. ;-)
I'm blogrolling Libertyfilter, and joining it too. It's got lots of promise. I just heard that Dane was inspired to start the site by George Bush's May 1st proclamation honoring "Loyalty Day", which, unbelievably, is a holiday in the U.S. -- the home of the Declaration of Independence, and the Revolutionary War that sprung from it.
Remember, you're either with us or you're against us -- by which I mean you're either down with Loyalty Day, or you're down with Libertyfilter. For the time being, you're still free to choose. Pledge allegiance to the Homeland, or pledge allegiance to liberty.
Sounds more like a no-brainer than a choice to me, but I'll let you decide for yourself.
(More on Loyalty Day coming soon.)
I posted a couple days ago saying I was getting back into the blogging swing of things...then had a two day lapse in posting. I have some good excuses, though, which I've prepared in list format, to make them look more important (don't worry, there's also something useful in this post, after the excuse list):
1. The other day, I started writing up a post about the recent ruling on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, and it developed into a long piece about "bipartisan", and how that's code for "really bad for the country". I didn't get it finished, and it drew late so I saved it to finish sometime soon.
2. The next day (yesterday), I hurt my back -- creamed it really -- while doing some major outside spring cleaning, and didn't get a whole lot done at all that night. That carried over into today, with me resting a lot and being kind and therapeutic toward my back. (It's working...my back is feeling much better.)
3. Today my new notebook computer showed up via UPS, and I've spent the past many hours getting it set up with my software and Windows Updated and such. Good and necessary stuff, but time-consuming.
So there you have it. I also caught up reading PoliticsOnline.com's NetPulse e-zine, which is a killer resource for anyone interested in online campaigning -- what works, what doesn't, and what's being used by who, and to what effect. It's chock full of news and resources about e-campaigning...if you run a campaign and want it to be 21st-century-compatible, you'd be foolish not to sign up for NetPulse, which you can do on PoliticsOnline's home page, or at the NetPulse sub-area. Those folks have so much to offer relating to online campaigning that it's almost too much.
I've had a number of distractions keeping me from posting new entries-- I've got a dumpster rented for the week and am doing some dramatic spring cleaning; my mother has come to visit from Massachusetts and I've been preparing for that; and then when I was finally ready to get going again, my blog software wouldn't let me in because something broke when my web host installed an upgrade of some sort.
All that's mostly in the past now (though the dumpster's here for two more days, and my mom's here 'til the 19th), and I'll try to get back in the swing of things. In that spirit, here's an article about William Bennett, the U.S.'s top public moralizer. Apparently, Mr. We-Must-Be-Better-People has a major gambling itch, and he scratches it with much gusto, dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars on his habit. In fact, the Washington Monthly article claims he has lost a total of 8 million dollars to his diversion of choice.
From the article:
Bennett says he has made no secret of his gambling. "I've gambled all my life and it's never been a moral issue with me. I liked church bingo when I was growing up. I've been a poker player."
It's never been a moral issue with him...but I'm sure there's at least a few people who would disagree, and strongly.
The article again:
Heavy gambling, like drug use, can lead to divorce, domestic violence, child abuse, and bankruptcy. According to a 1998 study commissioned by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, residents within 50 miles of a casino are twice as likely to be classified as "problem" or "pathological" gamblers than those who live further away.
I'm no big moralizer. I do believe that people should do good, and I do think there are ways to live badly and screw up one's life, and that it's generally better to avoid going down that path, but I sure don't make a living urging and forcing people to do so. Bill Bennett does, though -- from being a hard line Drug Czar, to implementing character education in schools, to writing book after book about virtue, to starting foundations and doing speaking appearances. And it strikes me as ironic at best -- hypocritical at worst -- that Mr. Morality whiles away the hours at the big-money slot machines.
At the least, it'd be nice if he'd apply his own abuse standard to others:
"I play fairly high stakes. I adhere to the law. I don't play the 'milk money.' I don't put my family at risk, and I don't owe anyone anything."
If we ended the drug war, there would be millions of currently-criminal people who would be able to offer the same reasonable-sounding justification for their own less-than-productive habits.
Or maybe he could try applying this standard:
When reminded of studies that link heavy gambling to divorce, bankruptcy, domestic abuse, and other family problems he has widely decried, Bennett compared the situation to alcohol.
"I view it as drinking," Bennett says. "If you can't handle it, don't do it."
Wow, imagine that! People making their own decisions about whether they can handle their hobbies/habits responsibly. I guess if we were all as upright as William Bennett, we wouldn't need all these laws to make us become good people. But we're not...so for now we'll just have to keep looking to moral paragons like Bennett to help keep us on the straight and narrow. Maybe we can figure out a new Czar job he can have. Or at least we could get him a long-term suite at the Bellagio. After all, he's given us so much -- and by "us" I mean, of course, the gambling industry.
Here's another story about this from MSNBC.
Regular readers know that I've been participating in an ongoing discussion about the War on Drugs over at my workplace, PeoplesForum.com. I've said it hasn't been very productive, and while that's true, it does appear that a few people have moved a couple notches on the issue, and most of the participants have somewhat elevated their tone.
The discussion turns again and again to the first Prohibition, because the parallels are stark and plentiful. In searching for evidence of the rise or fall of alcoholism during Prohibition (because our discussion had shifted to whether ending the drug war would increase or decrease addiction), I came upon this superb essay from the Cato Institute. It's a pretty extensive discussion of the numbers and trends behind Prohibition, wrapped in the broader context of measuring whther Prohibition managed to achieve any of its stated goals. Everyone pretty much universally agrees that it failed in reducing crime, increasing employment, or healing society, but some dispute remains about its impact on usage and addiction.
I've got some more comments about the drug war -- I'll probably post a thousand more entries about it in due time -- and I have some stuff that I've posted at PeoplesForum.com that I'll probably bring over here, but for now, this essay is a thorough debunking of the idea of Prohibition I as a success by any measure. Almost every trend depicted in it can be seen recurring in our Prohibition II, the War on Drugs.
Alcohol Prohibition Was A Failure
by Mark Thornton
(Mark Thornton is the O. P. Alford III Assistant Professor of Economics at Auburn University.)
National prohibition of alcohol (1920-33)--the "noble experiment"--was undertaken to reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems, reduce the tax burden created by prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and hygiene in America. The results of that experiment clearly indicate that it was a miserable failure on all counts. The evidence affirms sound economic theory, which predicts that prohibition of mutually beneficial exchanges is doomed to failure
The lessons of Prohibition remain important today. They apply not only to the debate over the war on drugs but also to the mounting efforts to drastically reduce access to alcohol and tobacco and to such issues as censorship and bans on insider trading, abortion, and gambling.
Although consumption of alcohol fell at the beginning of Prohibition, it subsequently increased. Alcohol became more dangerous to consume; crime increased and became "organized"; the court and prison systems were stretched to the breaking point; and corruption of public officials was rampant. No measurable gains were made in productivity or reduced absenteeism. Prohibition removed a significant source of tax revenue and greatly increased government spending. It led many drinkers to switch to opium, marijuana, patent medicines, cocaine, and other dangerous substances that they would have been unlikely to encounter in the absence of Prohibition. Those results are documented from a variety of sources, most of which, ironically, are the work of supporters of Prohibition--most economists and social scientists supported it. Their findings make the case against Prohibition that much stronger.
I recently finished reading a fantastic book called Healing Our World In an Age of Aggression, by Dr. Mary J. Ruwart. It's easily the best book I've read this year, and the best "liberal" explanation of libertarianism I've ever read. I bought 6 extra copies to give away to left-leaning people, and others who are willing to consider libertarianism but aren't yet sold on its practical viability.
The book is intensely researched (there are over 1100 references), and packed with information that you won't learn in school. The best aspect of the book, however, is its approach. The book's title, "Healing Our World" gives an indication of it. You could call it "compassionate libertarianism", I suppose. Green Liberty is the term I like to use.
Words don't exist to describe how strongly I recommend this book.
This speech by law professor Charles Whitebread is actually titled "The History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United States", but I don't think that's a very accurate title. His speech, which makes a pretty good essay, doesn't talk that much about drug use. It's really a history of the hows and whys behind the major laws that have grown into the War on Drugs. It's quite fascinating -- one of the best relatively short tellings of that story that I've read. The speech was given to the California Judges Association 1995 annual conference.
Here are some highlights:
Basically, none of the white people in these [Rocky Mountain and southwestern] states knew anything about marijuana, and I make a distinction between white people and Mexicans to reflect a distinction that any legislator in one of these states at the time would have made. And all you had to do to find out what motivated the marijuana laws in the Rocky mountain and southwestern states was to go to the legislative records themselves. Probably the best single statement was the statement of a proponent of Texas' first marijuana law. He said on the floor of the Texas Senate, and I quote, "All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff (referring to marijuana) is what makes them crazy." Or, as the proponent of Montana's first marijuana law said, (and imagine this on the floor of the state legislature) and I quote, "Give one of these Mexican beet field workers a couple of puffs on a marijuana cigarette and he thinks he is in the bullring at Barcelona."
Well, there it was, you didn't have to look another foot as you went from state to state right on the floor of the state legislature. And so what was the genesis for the early state marijuana laws in the Rocky Mountain and southwestern areas of this country? It wasn't hostility to the drug, it was hostility to the newly arrived Mexican community that used it.
On the hearings for the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937:
The other piece of medical testimony came from a man named Dr. William C. Woodward. Dr. Woodward was both a lawyer and a doctor and he was Chief Counsel to the American Medical Association. Dr. Woodward came to testify at the behest of the American Medical Association saying, and I quote, "The American Medical Association knows of no evidence that marihuana is a dangerous drug."
What's amazing is not whether that's true or not. What's amazing is what the Congressmen then said to him. Immediately upon his saying, and I quote again, "The American Medical Association knows of no evidence that marihuana is a dangerous drug.", one of the Congressmen said, "Doctor, if you can't say something good about what we are trying to do, why don't you go home?"
That's an exact quote. The next Congressman said, "Doctor, if you haven't got something better to say than that, we are sick of hearing you."
And then on the final voting on that Act:
They were getting ready to pass this thing...without discussion and without a recorded vote when one of the few Republicans left in Congress, a guy from upstate New York, stood up and asked two questions, which constituted the entire debate on the national marijuana prohibition.
"Mr. Speaker, what is this bill about?"
To which Speaker Rayburn replied, "I don't know. It has something to do with a thing called marihuana. I think it's a narcotic of some kind."
Undaunted, the guy from Upstate New York asked a second question, which was as important to the Republicans as it was unimportant to the Democrats. "Mr. Speaker, does the American Medical Association support this bill?"
In one of the most remarkable things I have ever found in any research, a guy who was on the committee, and who later went on to become a Supreme Court Justice, stood up and -- do you remember? The AMA guy was named William C. Woodward -- a member of the committee who had supported the bill leaped to his feet and he said, "Their Doctor Wentworth came down here. They support this bill 100 percent." It wasn't true, but it was good enough for the Republicans. They sat down and the bill passed...without a recorded vote.
In the Senate there never was any debate or a recorded vote, and the bill went to President Roosevelt's desk and he signed it and we had the national marijuana prohibition.
It's a sad bunch of our country's history, but vitally important one to know about if we're ever going to finally leave it in the past.
The History of the Non-Medical Use of Drugs in the United States
(a.k.a., The History of Drug Prohibition in the U. S.)
This essay by Lawrence Reed is an on-point appraisal of the great divide in U.S. politics over the purpose of government, and the meaning of "rights". I'll let him explain. Here's an excerpt, which includes one of my favorite quotes from my favorite quote creator, Thomas Jefferson:
The most profound political and philosophical trend of our time is a serious erosion of any consensus about what government is supposed to do and what it's not supposed to do. The “instruction books” on this matter are America’s founding documents, namely the Declaration of Independence and the original U.S. Constitution with its Bill of Rights. In the spirit of those great works, most Americans once shared a common view of the proper role of government — the protection of life and property.
Jefferson himself phrased it with typical eloquence: “... Still one thing more, fellow citizens — a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”
Today, there is no longer any common view of the proper role of government or, if there is one, it is light years from Jefferson’s. Far too many people think that government exists to do anything for anybody any time they ask for it, from day care for their children to handouts for artists.
His introduction uses a simple but very effective analogy:
Imagine for a moment what the world would be like if the art of political governance were treated like a game — baseball, cards, “Monopoly” or whatever — in which there was only one rule: anything goes.
What if you could discard the “instruction book” from the start and make things up as you go? If it “works,” do it. If it “feels good,” why not? If opposing players have a disagreement (an obvious inevitability) — well, you can just figure that out later.
What kind of a game would this be? Chaotic, frustrating, unpredictable, impossible. Sooner or later, the whole thing would degenerate into a mad free-for-all. Somebody would have to knock heads together and bring order to the mess.
OK, now that I've given away half of it, go read the whole thing.
The folks at Free-Market.net are back up and unning, and they're having their monthly free drawings again. This month the prize is $250 of cool international products from WorldStock.com. It's being offered by AWorldConnected.org, which is promoting their Globalization Essay Contest.
If you're a student under 25, and you want to write an essay about the effect of globalization on poverty around the world, you could win $5,000, which is no small change.
Also, sign up at Free-Market.net and you can enter the monthly drawing for free. Free-Market.net is a great resource anyway, so signing up with them will do you good.
Roderick Long wrote an open letter to the peace movement which I think makes a really great point. The point he makes is, in short, that all the liberals who decried the use of force applied from above in Iraq should extend their newfound belief in non-intervention to the domestic sphere.
Here's a snippet of him making his case:
Much has been said, and eloquently so, about the need, in dealings between nation and nation, to choose persuasion over violence whenever possible. Hear, hear!
But why this qualification: between nation and nation?
If persuasion is preferable to violence between nations, must it not also be preferable to violence within nations?
Suppose my neighbour runs a business out of his home, and I’d rather he didn’t. If I call the zoning board and ask them to shut his business down by force, am I acting like a peace activist? Or am I acting like George Bush?
If you consider yourself a liberal, not a libertarian, please read this artcile. And if you're a libertarian, read it to learn a useful way to approach liberal anti-war folks with one of the central ideas of liberty: non-intervention.
John Mellencamp, one of my all-time favorite musical artists, has released a protest song called "To Washington". It's more than just a war protest song -- it's protesting the whole chain of events that led Bush and us to this point.
I've been a Mellencamp fan since before anyone knew his name was Mellencamp -- since I was a little kid, really. In many ways, he could be said to be my first favorite artist. I had older sisters, so in the early 80's, the music I heard was Meatloaf, John Cougar, Bob Seger, AC/DC, and KISS. John, Bob, and 'Loaf were my favorites back then, probably in that order.
Eight years of peace and prosperity
Scandal in the White House
An election is what we need
From coast-to-coast to Washington
So America voted on a president
No one kept count
On how the election went
From Florida to Washington
Goddamn, said one side
And the other said the same
Both looked pretty guilty
But no one took the blame
From coast-to-coast to Washington
So a new man in the White House
With a familiar name
Said he had some fresh ideas
But it's worse now since he came
From Texas to Washington
And he wants to fight with many
And he says it's not for oil
He sent out the National Guard
To police the world
From Baghdad to Washington
What is the thought process
To take a humans life
What would be the reason
To think that this is right
From heaven to Washington
From Jesus Christ to Washington
9-10 Correct: Excellent. Contact United for Peace and Justice, http://www.unitedforpeace.org/, and work to fight the war and the system that produced it.
Which is funny, because that's exactly what I plan to do. :-) More soon...I'm setting up two websites as I type this. Not to mention preparing for a big Board of Supervisors meeting here tomorrow, where the Supes will be considering three different resolutions in support of the troops and the President. It's gonna be a major heated hoedown, I suspect. Filled to the proverbial rafters. I'm printing out copies of the PNAC's Rebuilding America's Defenses plan.
Former Senator and twice-presidential candidate Gary Hart has launched a blog.
I posted a comment to his opening post, which I'll share with you below. I've fixed a couple typos since.
I applaud your effort to engage with people via your blog, and I am excited to read many of your refreshing ideas here on your website. I'm even more excited to hear that you're considering a run for president.
In at least one way, you and I are peers, in that we're both presidential candidates with blogs. I'm running for the 2008 race, and I started blogging last year. (Check it out here: http://freedom2008.com )
My question ties into what a few people have alluded to here: how can someone as cool and principled as you clearly are hope to achieve positive change through the Democratic Party? I submit that the substantial reforms needed in this country can not be accomplished through the Bipartisan political machine. There is simply too much pressure for constant compromise.
Please consider running as an Independent instead of a Democrat. Even having to go through the meat grinder of a 9-candidate primary process will be harmful toward your effectiveness as a real reformer. Bill Clinton is a perfect case in point. His real vision was diluted week by week, and by the time he became President he gained the nickname "the waffler".
Rise above that fray. Of course, it will impact your fundraising capabilities, but that's almost part of the point, too. The media will follow your campaign whether you're a Democrat, a Green, a Libertarian, or and Independent. If you were any of the last three, you'd get yourself elected -- for the right reasons. If you go the first route -- the road more traveled, if you will -- I fear you'll end up like a Bill Clinton or an Al Gore...campaigning (and then leading) in a box. Instead of what our country really needs -- a true, unbridled visionary.
I wish you the very best in your campaign, but I won't be able to vote for you if you run as a Democrat. I vowed in 1994 to never vote for a Democrat or Republican again, and I haven't seen anything since to make me believe I chose unwisely.
I don't mean to cast any aspersions on you at all, Senator Hart. I practically idolized you back when I was a teenager -- I was convinced you were the "next John F. Kennedy". I'm willing to believe that you may still be that -- but I don't think even JFK could make it through the current Bipartisan rise-to-power machine with his ideals intact. And I don't think my cynicism regarding those two parties is unusual at all. over 50% of eligible voters are *not* registered Democrat or Republican.
Best of luck in your campaign, and I look forward to reading more of what you have to say.
It's that time of year again...time for Carla Howell's song, "How Could I Live Without Filing Taxes?" It's a funny and fun song. Kinda cheesy, but good for a few worthy chuckles. If you've ever been frustrated by filing for and paying taxes (which would be, I dunno, everyone?), give it a spin. If you're the enterprising type, burn it on a CD and send it into your local radio stations.
Here's a snippet:
I love doing my taxes
When springtime comes
Instead of garden walks and ballgames
I get to work my weekends too!
How could I live without filing taxes?
What would I do with my free time?
Where would I go on a beautiful Sunday?
Good thing I won't have to make up my mind
Carla is a prominent Libertarian who has run for Senator and Governor in Massachusetts, and recently ran a ballot initiative campaign that came fairly close to eliminating the income tax in my old home state (it lost 55/45% or so, faring much better than anyone expected.) I've never met her, but I've been following her for years. She's considered to be a likely 2004 LP presidential candidate. There's a good chance she could run in 2008 as well.
The Onion brought together two opinionmakers to break down the arguments for and against the war in Iraq.
It boils down to something like this:
This war will not put an end to anti-Americanism; it will fan the flames of hatred even higher. It will not end the threat of weapons of mass destruction; it will make possible their further proliferation. And it will not lay the groundwork for the flourishing of democracy throughout the Mideast; it will harden the resolve of Arab states to drive out all Western (i.e. U.S.) influence.
No it won't.
It just won't. None of that will happen.
You're getting worked up over nothing. Everything is going to be fine. So just relax, okay? You're really overreacting.
This site has a page of printable snapshots of Iraqis -- just regular-people Iraqis, having a good time and hamming for the camera. The people who set up the site intend for people to print out the photos and post them around wherever, just to provide people a picture of Iraq that they don't normally get, and to, as they say, "show the world the people who will get both liberty and death in one fatal blow if this war begins."
"If this war begins..." It sounds sad now.
Anyway, even if you don't print the pictures out and post them, at least go take a look and put a human face on the war for yourself for a minute.
(I had a little gap in posting here, mostly because I've been busy posting at PeoplesForum.com about various topics -- the war, and the Libertarian non-intervention principle, and the drug war, and the Constitution. I plan to post some of that stuff here, but I'll have to do a bunch of piecing together and providing context so it'll make sense -- which means it's going to take a little time. So I'm not sure if I'll get to it tonight, or even tomorrow necessarily.)
This guy "Salam Pax" is a daily blogger who apparently lives in Baghdad. There's also apparently some theorizing that he's a hoax. I couldn't say either way, but if his blog is the real deal, then it's pretty intense. If it's not real, someone will figure out proof and word will get around, I'm sure. I'll be tuning in until then.
The government has set up a website where we can submit comments on how we should be controlled by any number of federal agencies.
Or, as they put it: "On this site, you can find, review, and submit comments on Federal documents that are open for comment and published in the Federal Register, the Government’s legal newspaper."
6 of one, half-dozen of the other. Either way, it's a tool with which to make some noise. I haven't checked it out too deeply yet.
Below is the table of contents of Gene Sharp’s book The Methods of Nonviolent Action (1973). It makes a handy list if you're looking for something to do. ;-)
THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT PROTEST AND PERSUASION
1. Public speeches
2. Letters of opposition or support
3. Declarations by organizations and institutions
4. Signed public declarations
5. Declarations of indictment and intention
6. Group or mass petitions
COMMUNICATIONS WITH A WIDER AUDIENCE
7. Slogans, caricatures, and symbols
8. Banners, posters, and displayed communications
9. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books
10. Newspapers and journals
11. Records, radio, and television
12. Skywriting and earthwriting
14. Mock awards
15. Group lobbying
17. Mock elections
SYMBOLIC PUBLIC ACTS
18. Displays of flags and symbolic colours
19. Wearing of symbols
20. Prayer and worship
21. Delivering symbolic objects
22. Protest disrobings
23. Destruction of own property
24. Symbolic lights
25. Displays of portraits
26. Paint as protest
27. New signs and names
28. Symbolic sounds
29. Symbolic reclamations
30. Rude gestures
PRESSURES ON INDIVIDUALS
31. "Haunting" officials
32. Taunting officials
DRAMA AND MUSIC
35. Humourous skits and pranks
36. Performances of plays and music
40. Religious processions
HONOURING THE DEAD
43. Political mourning
44. Mock funerals
45. Demonstrative funerals
46. Homage at burial places
47. Assemblies of protest or support
48. Protest meetings
49. Camouflaged meetings of protest
WITHDRAWAL AND RENUNCIATION
53. Renouncing honours
54. Turning one's back
THE METHODS OF SOCIAL NONCOOPERATION
OSTRACISM OF PERSONS
55. Social boycott
56. Selective social boycott
57. Lysistratic nonaction
NONCOOPERATION WITH SOCIAL EVENTS, CUSTOMS, AND INSTITUTIONS
60. Suspension of social and sports activities
61. Boycott of social affairs
62. Student strike
63. Social disobedience
64. Withdrawal from social institutions
WITHDRAWAL FROM THE SOCIAL SYSTEM
66. Total personal noncooperation
67. "Flight" of workers
69. Collective disappearance
70. Protest emigration (hijrat)
THE METHODS OF ECONOMIC NONCOOPERATION: ECONOMIC BOYCOTTS
ACTION BY CONSUMERS
71. Consumers' boycott
72. Nonconsumption of boycotted goods
73. Policy of austerity
74. Rent withholding
75. Refusal to rent
76. National consumers' boycott
77. International consumers' boycott
ACTION BY WORKERS AND PRODUCERS
78. Workers' boycott
79. Producers' boycott
ACTION BY MIDDLEMEN
80. Suppliers' and handlers' boycott
ACTION BY OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT
81. Traders' boycott
82. Refusal to let or sell property
84. Refusal of industrial assistance
85. Merchants' "general strike"
ACTION BY HOLDERS OF FINANCIAL RESOURCES
86. Withdrawal of bank deposits
87. Refusal to pay fees, dues, and assessments
88. Refusal to pay debts or interest
89. Severance of funds and credit
90. Revenue refusal
91. Refusal of a government's money
ACTION BY GOVERNMENTS
92. Domestic embargo
93. Blacklisting of traders
94. International sellers' embargo
95. International buyers' embargo
96. International trade embargo
THE METHODS OF ECONOMIC NONCOOOPERATION: THE STRIKE
97. Protest strike
98. Quickie walkout (lightning strike)
99. Peasant strike
100. Farm workers' strike
STRIKES BY SPECIAL GROUPS
101. Refusal of impressed labour
102. Prisoners' strike
103. Craft strike
104. Professional strike
ORDINARY INDUSTRIAL STRIKES
105. Establishment strike
106. Industry strike
107. Sympathy strike
108. Detailed strike
109. Bumper strike
110. Slowdown strike
111. Working-to-rule strike
112. Reporting "sick" (sick-in)
113. Strike by resignation
114. Limited strike
115. Selective strike
116. Generalised strike
117. General strike
COMBINATION OF STRIKES AND ECONOMIC CLOSURES
119. Economic shutdown
THE METHODS OF POLITICAL NONCOOPERATION
REJECTION OF AUTHORITY
120. Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance
121. Refusal of public support
122. Literature and speeches advocating resistance
CITIZENS' NONCOOPERATION WITH GOVERNMENT
123. Boycott of legislative bodies
124. Boycott of elections
125. Boycott of government employment and positions
126. Boycott of government departments, agencies, and other bodies
127. Withdrawal from governmental educational institutions
128. Boycott of government-supported institutions
129. Refusal of assistance to enforcement agents
130. Removal of own signs and placemarks
131. Refusal to accept appointed officials
132. Refusal to dissolve existing institutions
CITIZENS' ALTERNATIVES TO OBEDIENCE
133. Reluctant and slow compliance
134. Nonobedience in absence of direct supervision
135. Popular nonobedience
136. Disguised disobedience
137. Refusal of an assemblage or meeting to disperse
139. Noncooperation with conscription and deportation
140. Hiding, escape, and false identities
141. Civil disobedience of "illegitimate" laws
ACTION BY GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL
142. Selective refusal of assistance by government aides
143. Blocking of lines of command and information
144. Stalling and obstruction
145. General administrative noncooperation
146. Judicial noncooperation
147. Deliberate inefficiency and selective noncooperation by
DOMESTIC GOVERNMENTAL ACTION
149. Quasi-legal evasions and delays
150. Noncooperation by constituent governmental units
INTERNATIONAL GOVERNMENTAL ACTION
151. Changes in diplomatic and other representation
152. Delay and cancellation of diplomatic events
153. Withholding of diplomatic recognition
154. Severance of diplomatic relations
155. Withdrawal from international organisations
156. Refusal of membership in international bodies
157. Expulsion from international organisations
THE METHODS OF NONVIOLENT INTERVENTION
158. Self-exposure to the elements
159. The fast
a) Fast of moral pressure
b) Hunger strike
c) Satyagrahic fast
160. Reverse trial
161. Nonviolent harassment
168. Nonviolent raids
169. Nonviolent air raids
170. Nonviolent invasion
171. Nonviolent interjection
172. Nonviolent obstruction
173. Nonviolent occupation
174. Establishing new social patterns
175. Overloading of facilities
178. Guerrilla theatre
179. Alternative social institutions
180. Alternative communication system
181. Reverse strike
182. Stay-in strike
183. Nonviolent land seizure
184. Defiance of blockades
185. Politically motivated counterfeiting
186. Preclusive purchasing
187. Seizure of assets
189. Selective patronage
190. Alternative markets
191. Alternative transportation systems
192. Alternative economic institutions
193. Overloading of administrative systems
194. Disclosing identities of secret agents
195. Seeking imprisonment
196. Civil disobedience of "neutral" laws
197. Work-on without collaboration
198. Dual sovereignty and parallel government
(This list is apparently posted all over the Internet, but thanks to Carol Moore for bringing it to my attention.)
I found another good nugget at the FreedomAds.org site -- a really funny satirical song called "We Like The Government". It's not only funny, but it's extremely catchy...I've found myself stuck with the chorus in my head for a few lengthy stretches in the past day.
Just for kicks, I'll transcribe the lyrics here, for those too lazy or connection-disabled to listen to the song themselves. It's got sort of a British flavor to it's lyrics and vocals, but it's about the U.S.. It's done very sing-song-ey, like a kids song, sorta, with acoustic guitar. I'm writing the choruses out, because I think that flows better than using "(chorus)" after the first one.
We Like The Government
by Sebastian Carter
We like the government lots, tots
We like the government lots
For rules and taxes and love, guv
We like the government lots
Take some more of our income
And tax the stuff that we buy
If you tax the stuff that we own, Joan
We'll be as happy as pie
Tell us just what we can do
Tell us what is taboo
And you tell us how to have sex, Rex
We'll be as happy as you
All together now!
We like the government lots, tots
We like the government lots
For rules, and taxes and love, guv
We like the government lots
Prohibition was neat, Pete
Bans in general are cool
Ah, People who drink kinda stink I think
They're nasty and brutish and cruel
Ah, People who smoke pot should rot a lot
People who sell drugs should fry
Please take their homes and their cars, Lars
And pray to God that they die
All together now
We like the government lots, tots
We like the government lots
For rules, and taxes and love, guv
We like the government lots
Please take away our tobacco
'Til then please increase the price
And use those cigarette taxes
To shiv us for loving this vice
Vote whenevr you can, Stan
Sign a petition each day
Ah, you know it's the best way to change things
And it gives you a right to complain
All together now
We like the government lots, tots
We like the government lots
For rules, and taxes and love, guv
We like the government
Like the government
Like the government lots
When the government's dead
We'll be sad
When it starts getting old
Until then we'll love Uncle Sammy
And bend over whenever we're told
All together now
We like the government lots, tots
We like the government lots
For rules, and taxes and love, guv
We like the government
Like the government
Like the government
Like the govern-
No, we LOVE the government lots!
You should still go listen to it if you haven't, but I'm glad I wrote the lyrics out anyway. It reads better than I thought it would.
I posted a list of tips for promoting a campus event (in this case, a Libertarian club wanting to promote a speaking appearance of LP presidential candidate Gary Nolan) on the LPCampusActivist e-mail list a couple days ago, and I figured it'd make a good entry for the new "Useful Lance" category.
This isn't everything you can do, but it's plenty. Keep in mind it's written to the leader of a Libertarian Party campus club. You may need to adapt parts of it if your organization leans a different way.
> Hi, Gary Nolan's going to visit Iowa State University next Friday. The
> local Libertarian group hasn't had much time to plan for his visit.
> Suggestions on how to promote his visit would be welcome.
> Thank you.
--Get him booked on any area talk radio stations, and the college radio station, and local & campus cable access stations
--make quarter or eighth-page flyers and hand them out at the beginning of poli-sci, history, communications, and other related classes
--Send a letter out to professors, touting the learning opportunity the event holds for their students and urging that they offer extra credit or assignment credit to students who attend; and/or offer to do a 10-15 min. presentation in their class on libertarianism or the LP on one of the days preceding the event
--set up tables in the campus center or main concourse, with a large, stand-up sign promoting the event
--hand out 1/8 page flyers in areas of heavy foot traffic, or, for extra credit, hand out "Libertarian Viewpoint"s with a flyer for the Nolan event stapled to the front corner, or inserted
--If he'll be there during the day and the event is at night, hold a short, low-maintenance rally (anti-war? pro-civil liberties? anti-Drug War?) during the day on the steps of the student union (or the place where such things occur on your campus). On the low end, you could probably do it with no amplification, or a handheld megaphone or amp system. Your school also probably has the means by which to secure a podium with mike and PA system. Have a couple students, a professor, a veteran (if it's an anti-war rally), a lawyer (if it's civil liberties or the drug war), and Gary Nolan each speak for 5-10 minutes. During the rally, hand out 1/8 pagers promoting the Nolan evening event, as well as mentioning it throughout the rally.
Make big signs on large posterboard or (better) white sheets for the walls or columns behind or beside the "stage" area. One with a libertarian slogan, and one promoting Gary's event, maybe. Plus your group's banner, if you have one.
--Meet with the editor, or editorial staff of the student paper (and local paper), and sell them on the significance of following the LP presidential race-- it looks like it will be a highly-contested race this time, with a few nationally noteworthy competitors. Gary is a nationally recognized figure to an extent-- they should do a pre-story about his appearance, as well as cover it.
--Meet with influential students and administrators-- the dean/chancellor, the heads of frats and sororities, heads of student government and dorm governments, RAs and dorm administrators, with uniquely crafted appeals on why attending the event (and urging the same to their circle of influence) is to their benefit. If any of them give an enthusiastic "Yes! I'll be there, and urge my
friends/colleagues," ask them if you can mention that in your press release, and offer their name to the school paper for a possible quote of support
--Particularly make sure to meet with the heads of any student organizations with close or remote interest in liberty: drug reform groups, college repubs ("economic freedom!"), dems ("civil liberties! No Bush!"), greens ("civil liberties! legalize! no war with Iraq! No Bush!"), economics or history clubs, and so on. Just go through the list of groups and if you see one that we agree with
on one or more points, emphasize that "Gary Nolan agrees with that!"
--Get interviews for you or other club leaders on any broadcast media show that will have you between now and then. Many political radio stations have 10 or more hosts/shows in a given week-- that's ten separate opportunities.
--Poster, poster, poster (with a large, provocative headline and large, clear date/location).
Spontaneous poster idea:
Then you'll love Gary Nolan.
(medium to regular text)
Come see him speak at -wherewhenwhywhat-
I'm a few days late on my promise to talk more about The Free State Project.
The idea behind The Free State Project is deceptively simple. The plan is to amass 20,000 serious libertarians who are willing to move to an agreed-upon small-population state and, essentially, take it over.
Simple enough, and surprisingly feasible when you think about it. They're limiting their choices to states with a population of 1.5 million or less, and some quick math tells me that probably less than 500,000 people in even the biggest of those states actually vote. Which makes 20,000 like-minded voters a powerful swing vote. More importantly, these are serious libertarians, as I mentioned. They are going to be running for office in droves-- my guess is that there would be a Libertarian on the ballot for every single elected office in the state within a year or two, with the most promising campaigns enjoying the enthusiastic financial support of 20,000 free-staters. Their ability to get initiatives on the ballots, both statewide and locally, would be comprehensive. their ability to recruit and grow would be phenomenal. It's not at all unthinkable that they could turn a state libertarian within 10 years, during which time they would surely become a growing haven for emigrating libertarians from around the country.
When I first heard about The free State Project and checked out their web site, I had the same reaction a lot of people probably have: I chuckled, thought it was a funny and interesting idea, and probably a good one. But I didn't take it too seriously -- I filed it under "keep an eye on it and see where it goes".
At the California Libertarian Party Convention last week I met Jason Sorens, founder of The Free State Project. I'm pretty much sold. I'm certainly convinced that it will happen, and that it's a good idea. These folks aren't fooling around -- they're taking it very seriously, and strategically-- analyzing the various states in every way they can. The state is going to be chosen by mail ballot once 5,000 people have signed up, and then once it's chosen, people will start flowing there, with recruiting continuing until 20,000 have signed up (and probably continuing on informally for long after that). There are 2,700 or so signed up now, if I recall correctly. They anticipate reaching 5,000 this year I think. I'm starting to think about joining in, but I'm a little divided, partly because of the geographical considerations (it's probably going to be either Maryland, Delaware, New Hampshire, or something like Wyoming), partly because I'd like to remain a California resident through 'til the '08 election (for political reasons), and partly because I'm still absorbing the whole idea. It's pretty radical stuff.
I dunno...having been a California resident for 11 years would be a good thing to have on my resume in the '08 campaign. Without that, I'd basically be campaigning as being from wherever the Free State is, plus Massachusetts, where I grew up. California would just be somewhere I had lived for a few years...which doesn't carry much clout in comparison. Plus, I genuinely like California. I don't live here just for the Electoral College votes. :-) If I had to vote for my favorite state, California would win hands down.
I could always move to the Free State after the '08 election. One of my possible plans in preparing for Election 2016 (if I don't win in '08) is to win local and state-level elected offices between '08 and '16. In a Free State with 20,000 die-hard libertarians, and with the name recognition coming from the '08 race, it's possible I could move through the ranks pretty well in 8 years. Mayor or City Councilman after 2 or 3 years, state assembly or Governor after that term...something like that. All depending on terms of office and election years for the offices, of course. I may not go that route at all...if I don't win in '08, I plan to "fill in the blanks" in my candidacy over the next 8 years, in whatever way I think will make the greatest improvement in that time. I will probably get a law degree then, I will write books, will try to have a talk radio or TV show, and so on. Running for office may or may not fit in that mix. I won't know until the election's over probably. It's all heavy-duty conjecture at this point.
Carol Moore is a pedal-to-the-metal libertarian activist in Washington, D.C.. She's one of the founders (and the principal organizer) of Libertarians For Peace, she runs Secession.net and WhatWouldGandhiDo.net and others, she's involved with Aaron Biterman and the American University Libertarians...I could go on and on. She really is a full-blast activist-- my favorite kind of activist. ;-) She's what I'd call a Green Libertarian, which is basically a Libertarian who's not afraid to propose a specific, positive vision on how to solve our world's problems. Green Libertarians are my favorite kind of Libertarians...so Carol gets high marks in my book pretty much across the board.
More to the point of this post, she also has a massive selection of peace and political buttons for sale. There's probably almost 100 different designs, ranging from the mellow (peace flag, peace signs) to the aggressive ("DISARM USA - Rogue Nation!", Impeach Bush, F*ck This Stupid War), to the new agey ("All We Need Is Love" "Reincarnation Happens"), and so on. There's anti-war, anti-Bush, pro-peace, pro-freedom, feminist, anti-drug war...you name it. If it fits in both the left and libertarian quadrants, she's probably got a button for it. They're reasonably priced, and the money goes to support a 100% jammin' freedom activist. You can't beat that with a stick. There's even cool "What Would Gandhi Do?" buttons.
So, go to it: Buy some cool buttons. They make great conversation starters, and they're an easy way for shy or lazy activists to play a small part in the social dialogue. Feeling all lame and apathetic, like you can't make a difference? Start with a button. Hell, start selling buttons! Get off your butt, lazybones! ;-)
A campaign supporter suggested that I offer up info for people on their legal rights when dealing with law enforcement. Great idea!
I'm going to put out a disclaimer before we get to the nitty gritty. Here it is:
While there are certain rights, procedures, and protocols you can invoke if confronted by the police, keep two things in mind:
1. It will piss them off if you assert your rights. Now, you may not care about their feelings and emotions, but take a guess who a pissed-off cop is likely to take his or her anger out on. Some police officers may be all polite and accomodating if you assert your rights in a way that complicates their task, but many will deem you uncooperative, suspicious, and/or outright criminal. And asserting your rights does not mean the police will comply with your assertion. Sometimes it can have just the opposite result. I learned that the hard way, and bought myself a few hours in jail, a bunch of lawyer's bills, and a lot of cynicism. Terrence Bressi learned it the hard way too.
2. There are plenty of cops who will just violate your rights with impunity, especially if they feel certain they will find something. Once they find something, and you officially become a "perp", they know they will be able to whitewash the details in their report, and it's your word against theirs, you perp you. I learned that the hard way the same time I learned number one, when a state trooper went to great lengths to search me and my jacket, under no pretense whatsoever, until he at last discovered a burned out corncob pipe bowl that smelled like weed. At which point he exclaimed "Aha! Now that's probable cause!" and preceded to search my car and all my friends, resulting in the arrest of three of us. At one point, having grown frustrated with my frequent appeals to my "rights", he turned to me and said "Don't you get it? None of that matters. You're done." Or something to that effect. I won't even get into what a bogus joke the arrest report was.
Now, this disclaimer is not intended to dissuade you from asserting your rights in such situations, or to say it never works like it should. You should assert your rights as firmly as you feel you need to, and oftentimes it does work like it should. At the very least, most police who are aware that you are serious and informed about your rights are more likely to exercise caution in that respect. Just don't go into it all pie-eyed and naive, and maybe try to be diplomatic and calm rather than aggressive or confrontational, if possible. And be aware it could backfire. It's sad but utterly true.
Now that my Negative Nelly bit is out of the way, let's get to those rights of yours. I got lots of rights for you -- all free.
From the National Lawyers Guild:
Know Your Rights!
- What rights do I have?
- What should I do if agents come to question me?
- How should I respond to threatning letters or
- What if I suspect surveillance?
- What if I am not a citizen?
- Contact information
- The Right to Advocate for Change.
- The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of groups and individuals who advocate changes in laws, government practices, and even the form of government.
- The Right to Remain Silent.
- The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution provides that every person has the right to remain silent in the face of questions posed by any police officer or government agent.
- The Right to be Free from "Unreasonable Searches and Seizures."
- The Fourth Amendment is supposed to protect your privacy. Without a warrant, no government agent is allowed to search your home or office and you can refuse to let them in. Know, however, that it is easy for the government to monitor your telephone calls, conversations in your office, home, car, or meeting place, as well as mail. E-mail is particularly insecure. The government has already begun stepping up its monitoring of e-mails.
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS CANNOT BE SUSPENDED -- EVEN DURING A STATE OF EMERGENCY OR WARTIME.
- YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TALK TO THE POLICE, FBI, INS, OR ANY OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENT OR INVESTIGATOR. Other than providing your name and address to a police officer who is investigating a crime, you are not legally obligated to talk to anyone: on the street, at your home or office, if you've been arrested, or even if you're in jail. Only a judge has the legal authority to order you to answer questions.
- YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LET POLICE OR OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENTS INTO YOUR HOME OR OFFICE UNLESS THEY HAVE A SEARCH WARRANT OR ARREST WARRANT. Demand to see the warrant. The warrant must specifically describe the place to be searched and the things to be seized. If they have a warrant, you cannot stop them from entering and searching, but you should still tell them that you do not consent to a search.
This will limit them to the scope of the search authorized by the warrant.
- IF THEY DO PRESENT A WARRANT, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO MONITOR THEIR SEARCH AND ACTIVITIES. You have the right to observe what they do. You have the right to ask them for their names and titles. Take written notes including their names, badge numbers, and what agency they are from. Have your friends who are present act as witnesses. Give this information to your lawyer. A warrant does not give the government the right to question, nor does it obligate you to answer questions.
- IF THE POLICE OR FBI OR INS OR ANYONE ELSE TRIES TO QUESTION YOU OR TRIES TO ENTER YOUR HOME WITHOUT A WARRANT, JUST SAY NO!
Police and other law enforcement agents are very skilled at getting information from people. Many people are afraid that if they refuse to cooperate, it will appear as if they have something to hide. Don't be fooled. The police are allowed to (and do) lie to you. Although agents may seem nice and pretend to be on your side, they are likely to be intent on learning about the habits, opinions, and affiliations of people not suspected of wrongdoing, with the end goal of stopping political activity with which the government disagrees. Trying to answer agents' questions, or trying to "educate them" about your cause can be very dangerous. You can never tell how a seemingly harmless bit of information that you give them might be used and misconstrued to hurt you or someone else. And keep in mind that lying to a federal agent is a crime.
- IF YOU ARE STOPPED ON THE STREET, ASK IF YOU ARE FREE TO GO.
If you are stopped by the police, ask them why. If they do not have a good reason for stopping you, or if you find yourself chatting for more than about a minute, ask "Am I under arrest, or am I free to go." If they do not state that you are under arrest, tell them that you do not wish to continue speaking with them and that you are going to go about your business. Then do so.
- ANYTHING YOU SAY TO THE POLICE, FBI, INS, ETC. WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU AND OTHERS. Once you've been arrested, you cannot talk your way out of it! Don't try to engage the cops in dialogue or respond to their accusations.
- THE FBI MAY THREATEN YOU WITH A GRAND JURY SUBPOENA IF YOU DON'T TALK TO THEM. They may give you a subpoena anyway, so anything you tell them may permit them to ask you more detailed questions later. You may also have legal grounds to refuse to answer questions before a grand jury. If you are given a grand jury subpoena, you should call a lawyer immediately (see contact information at the end). Tell your friends and movement groups about the subpoena and discuss how to respond. Do not try to deal with this alone.
- IF YOU ARE NERVOUS ABOUT SIMPLY REFUSING TO TALK, TELL THEM TO CONTACT YOUR LAWYER. They should stop trying to question you once you announce your desire to consult a lawyer. You do not have to already have one. Remember to get the name, agency, and telephone number of any investigator who visits you, and contact the National Lawyers Guild for help getting a lawyer.
If your home or office is broken into, or threats have been made against you, your organization, or someone you work with, share this information with everyone affected. Take immediate steps to increase personal and office security. You should discuss with your organization and with a lawyer whether and how to report such incidents to the police and the advisability of taking other legal action. If you decide to make a report, do not do so without a lawyer present.
Prudence is the best course, no matter who you suspect, or what the basis of your suspicion. Do not hesitate to confront suspected agents politely, in public, with at least one other person present, and inquire about their business. If the suspect declines to answer, he or she at least now knows that you are aware of the surveillance.
If you suspect government agents are monitoring you, or are harassing you, report this to the National Lawyers Guild.
- YOU DO NOT HAVE TO REVEAL YOUR IMMIGRATION STATUS.
We cannot count on the police to honor local sanctuary ordinances, and the fact that the INS obtained your name in violation of a sanctuary ordinance will NOT prevent you from being deported.
- FOREIGN NATIONALS WHO ARE ARRESTED IN THE U.S. HAVE THE RIGHT TO CALL YOUR CONSULATE or to have the police inform your consulate of your arrest. The police must allow your consul to visit or speak with you. Your consul might assist you in finding a lawyer or offer other help, such as contacting your family. You also have the right to refuse help from your consulate.
- DO NOT TALK TO THE INS, EVEN ON THE PHONE, before talking to an immigration lawyer. Many INS officers view ;enforcement,"" meaning deporting people, as their primary job. They do not believe that explaining immigration options is part of their job, and most will readily admit this. (Noncitizens who are victims of domestic abuse should speak with an expert in both immigration law and domestic violence.) A noncitizen should always speak with an immigration law expert before speaking to the INS either in person or by telephone.
- KNOW AND ASSERT YOUR RIGHTS!
All noncitizens have the following rights, regardless of your immigration status:
- The right to speak to an attorney before answering any questions or signing any documents;
- The right to a hearing with an Immigration Judge;
- The right to have an attorney at that hearing and in any interview with INS (however you do not have the right to a free, government-paid lawyer); and
- The right to request release from detention, by paying a bond if necessary.
Noncitizens must assert these rights. If you do not demand these rights, you can be deported without seeing either an attorney or a judge. Leaving the U.S. in this way may have serious consequences for your ability to later enter or to gain legal immigration status in the U.S.
- TALK TO AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER BEFORE LEAVING THE U.S.
Anyone not a U.S. citizen may be barred from coming back to the U.S. if they fall into certain categories of people barred from entering. This includes some lawful permanent residents and applicants for green cards. Some noncitizens that have been in the U.S. without INS permission may be permanently barred from re-entering. In addition, some noncitizens that leave the US and return with INS permission may be swiftly removed from the U.S. if they end up in immigration proceedings.
(Many foreign-language versions and PDF posters of this info are available at the NLG website.)
What can you do if you are stopped? Civil rights attorneys advise the following:
1. Know your rights: you are not required to give permission to police officer to search your car. You can deny the request - but do so politely.
2. Don't argue: the police may try to intimidate you. Do not be confrontational and provoke an argument.
3. Get the names of the officers: be sure to get their badge numbers, squad car number, license plate number, and make a note of the location and time of day.
4. File a complaint if you feel you have been mis-treated: contact the ACLU or other civil rights organizations for legal advice.
Illionois Attorney Warren Breslin has a whole bunch of advice on his web site about your rights, including specific advice about interrogations, DUI situations and search and seizure, as well as this statement which he recommends carrying around with you to use when push comes to shove:
I KNOW MY RIGHTS
My lawyer has told me not to talk to anyone about what may be a case against me, not to answer questions and not to reply to accusations. I do not agree to perform any tests of any kind and do not give my consent for you to search me, my car, my house or any of my property. It is not that I am guilty or intend to obstruct a police investigation; I simply will not waive any of my constitutional rights without my lawyer present. Call him.
ImmigrationLinks.com has a Know Your Rights if You are Stopped for Immigration Questioning page from the National Lawyers Guild.
When you are stopped by the police or arrested, you have certain rights under the law. These rights are the same whether or not you have done anything wrong. Know these rights and use them during your encounter with the police.
Above all, do not do or say anything that would make your situation worse. What you say to the police is always important. What you say can be used against you, and it can give the police a chance to arrest you, especially if you bad-mouth a police officer.
Remember that you have the right to remain silent. Use that right!
Do not resist or try to run away. Keep your hands where the police can see them. Never touch a police officer. Stay calm and speak politely.
Insist on knowing why you have been stopped. Ask, "Officer, why did you stop me?" (Note: Your race, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age or appearance alone are not valid reasons for the officer to stop you).
If you are stopped while you are driving, give the officer your driver's license, registration and proof of insurance if he or she asks for them. If you're given a ticket, you should sign it; otherwise you can be arrested. You can always fight the case later in court. If you're suspected of drunk driving (DWI) and refuse to take a blood, urine or breath test, your driver's license may be suspended.
If you are not driving (for example, if you are walking), you are not required to carry any type of identification. If you are asked for identification, you may give it to the officer if you want to, but you do not have to do this. You can't be arrested merely for refusing to identify yourself on the street.
Never give false information to a police officer.
Police may "pat down" your clothing if they suspect a concealed weapon. Don't physically resist, but make it clear that you don't consent to any further search.
Ask the officer, "Am I free to leave?" If the officer says "No," assume that you are under arrest. If the officer says "Yes," you can leave.
Remember that you have the right to remain silent. In most situations, do not say anything except to identify yourself or ask the officer why you have been stopped. Don't bad-mouth a police officer, even if you believe that what is happening is unreasonable. That could lead to your arrest.
Police may ask to search you, your car, or your home. Do not agree to such a search. Be polite, but make it clear that you are not consenting to a search. IMPORTANT: The police may have a right to search you anyhow, and they can do it without your consent. BUT if you give them consent, you may not be able to challenge an illegal search later in court.
It is not lawful for police to arrest you simply for refusing to consent to a search. If the police say they have a search warrant, ask it see it.
If You Are Arrested
Do not resist arrest or try to run away. Keep your hands where the police can see them. Never touch a police officer. Stay calm and speak politely.
Ask for a lawyer immediately. Do not talk to the police without your lawyer.
Never lie to the police. Exercise your right to remain silent. Do not make any statements or answer any questions except to give your name and address and to ask why you have been arrested. Also, do not sign anything and do not agree to talk to the police.
You have the right to contact a lawyer, or to contact someone in your family who can ask for a lawyer for you.Tell the police that you do not wish to speak to anyone until you have a lawyer.
In Missouri, the police cannot hold a person for more than 20 hours without a judge setting bail. A judge will set bail at your first court appearance. The judge will also appoint an attorney to represent you if you cannot afford to hire an attorney.
The police may keep you in a jail cell. Do not talk with anyone about your case. This includes people who are in the cell with you. Talk about your case only with your lawyer.
In Your Home
If the police knock and ask to enter your home, you don't have to admit them unless they have a warrant signed by a judge.
However, in some emergency situations (like when a person is screaming for help inside, or when the police are chasing someone) officers are allowed to enter and search your home without a warrant.
If you are arrested, the police can search you and the area close by. If you are in a building, "close by" usually means just the room you are in.
This here appears to be the ACLU flyer from above, but in web page form. Lots of good stuff there.
And if you're still hungry for more, dig into Google's search results for ' "know your rights" when stopped by the police '.
And remember who pulled all this stuff together for you -- Lance Brown, Candidate for President in 2008. Spread the word!
Free-Market.net's Freedom News Daily used to be my favorite e-mail news source. They collected all the most important news and opinion pieces pertaining to freedom from around the world each day, and delivered it up in heaping servings.
Unfortunately, the Henry Hazlitt Foundation, parent to Free-Market.net, went bust a few months ago, and all their assets and services hung on the brink for a while. Fortunately, Tom Knapp, one of the Free-Market.net castaways, grabbed the Freedom News daily flag and kept it flying, via the Rational Review News Digest. It's basically the same thing. Hooray for Tom Knapp (as well as Mary Lou Seymour, Steve Triniward, and R. Lee Wrights, top-level freedom activists on and all) for keeping it alive, because it's easily the best daily political news resource I've encountered in my 6+ years on the web. If you know what's good for you, you'll subscribe to their e-mail updates, or at least bookmark that site and visit it frequently.
I was checking my site's traffic logs, and I noticed a lot of people are coming here on a search for "pictures of the bill of rights" or "bill of rights pictures". I suspect they're finding this site because of my entry with pictures of the Funeral for the Bill of Rights, but I imagine they're ending up disappointed (while being pleasantly surprised to find such a promising young activist like myself ;-)).
So I figured I'd give the people what they want, and hunt down some pictures of the Bill of Rights. All you random surfers, just remember who's got your back. (It's me -- Lance Brown, candidate for president in 2008.)
This page from the Library of Congress' America's Story collection has a version which is nice and authentic-looking -- which means it's pretty grubby and time-worn. Nice for that rustic feeling, but not great for reading.
This image from the National Archives looks to be the same as the one above, but lightened up considerably. Less rustic, slightly more viewable. Still can't read the small text though. The image is linked to from this "December 15th: Today in History" page, from the American Memory collections of the Library of Congress. All those source sites are great resources for historical documents and stuff, which is why I bother mentioning them all.
Here's a small one, also from the National Archives:
There is a high resolution image, which is huge and very detailed, and actually readable (although only a tiny portion of it fits on a screen at one time). It's 8 megabytes, which I think is the biggest .JPG file I've ever heard of. It'll take you over an hour on dial-up I think. With that warning in mind, here's a direct link to the image. You should probably right-click and do "Save Target As..." or whatever comparable function you have, unless you have a super-fast connection and you want to just pull it up in a browser window. That image is from this page -- the high-resolution image page of the National Archives "Charters of Freedom" collection, which I mention only because that same page has high-res versions of the Constitution (page 1, 2, 3, 4) and Declaration of Independence as well. (All those links also go to huge 8-10 MB .JPG images.)
Then of course a Google image search for "Bill of Rights" has about a zillion more versions and styles of Bill of Rights pictures to choose from, including other authentic-style ones like the ones above.
In my Google search, I discovered this really creative Bill of Rights flag image from Bangpound. The words of the Bill are in red, creating the stripes of the flag. It's for sale as a poster at Bangpound for 10 bucks. Very cool.
This Flash animation introduction to "The Philosophy of Liberty" by the International Society For Individual Liberty is really good. It's very basic, but in a good way. Simply put, it's the best simple introduction to the foundations behind libertarian thought that I've seen to date. It's really cool. The way they use the graphics to illustrate their points is brilliant. It's nearly perfect.
Check it out: Flash introduction to The Philosophy of Liberty
It has background music, so you might want to turn down your volume if you're at work.
This is one of the hot tickets lately on the 'Net, apparently. It's got its flaws (not the least of which is being called a game when it's a simulation), and some anti-Administration sarcasm, but overall, it presents a not-inconceivable scenario of how the war Bush wants could get really messy pretty easily. I really think that the pro-war people may be underestimating the backlash and response that will likely come if we launch a war.
On that note, check out the Gulf War 2 "Game" here.
Truth Out is a good "dissident" news site. They appear to aggregate stories from all different sources. I get their e-mail updates, though I don't think I signed up for them. I think someone else might have signed me up, because the e-mail address I'm subscribed at is one I can't imagine using for that.
You can subscribe here.
Or give 'em some money. I just did. Apparently they're growing fast and aren't making ends meet. It'd be a shame to have them go away for lack of funding.
I've been pretty silent in this blog lately about the Bush Administration's war on civil liberties. I can assure you it's not for a lack of thought on the subject. I'm actually working right now on building a coalition locally to stand up in opposition to the looming federal police state. We're going to be advancing resolutions before the county Board of Supervisors and the various city councils here, affirming the committment of our local governments to putting the rights and liberties of its residents first, even if the Feds urge otherwise. I'll be posting more about that tonight or tomorrow.
For now, enjoy this animated cartoon about Total Information Awareness. If you're able to laugh and shiver with fear simultaneously, this cartoon by Mark Fiore will probably make you do just that.