AP: Libertarians seek a place in the New Hampshire sun

Posted on July 25th, 2009 by bile
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By ADAM GELLER, AP National Writer Adam Geller, Ap National Writer – 1 hr 12 mins ago

LANCASTER, N.H. – He fled the “People’s Republic of Massachusetts” to escape tyranny. Now he strides the campground in a plaid kilt and mirror shades, an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle across his torso, an immense Scottish sword sheathed between his shoulders.

Out here, though, the only signs of danger are the ones warning drivers to watch out for moose. Could it be he senses a threat we’re not seeing?

“Not expecting,” says the swordsman, who calls himself Doobie, grinning broadly. “Just ready.”

There’s no escaping the long arm of big government — even here at the far edge of a state whose license plate decrees that without freedom from oppressive authority you might as well choose death. But for Doobie and 500 others, this tent colony on this particular weekend is about as close to Libertarian Nirvana as they’re likely to get.

They’ve come for the Porcupine Freedom Festival, four days of beer, burgers and bonfires. But more importantly, they are here to carve out an enclave of less government and more liberty to do as they wish.

They are here to show a lost nation the way back to its political roots.

It hasn’t been an easy message to sell these past few years. Their group, the Free State Project, has struggled to attract followers. But now, with Americans thinking anew about the reach and role of government, Free Staters see at least the hint of an opening.

So this weekend, they drink to the future. Between swigs of a custom brew called Overregulated Ale, they ridicule the Federal Reserve, applaud the defeat of a bill that would have required the wearing of seat belts, bemoan higher taxes and restrictions on gun rights.

“We said bad things are going to happen and they happen,” Jason Sorens, a political science professor, preaching to the crowd clustered around picnic tables. “We say, we told you so.”

Read More…

Sanjay Gupta, Obama’s pick for Surgeon General, supports marijuana prohibition

Posted on January 8th, 2009 by bile
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Maybe it’s because I was born a couple of months after Woodstock and wasn’t around when marijuana was as common as iPods are today, but I’m constantly amazed that after all these years–and all the wars on drugs and all the public-service announcements–nearly 15 million Americans still use marijuana at least once a month. California and 10 other states have already decriminalized marijuana for medical use. Now two of those states–Colorado and Nevada–are considering ballot initiatives that would legalize up to an ounce of pot for personal use by people 21 and older, whether or not there is a medical need.

What do voters need to know before going to the polls?

The first is that marijuana isn’t really very good for you. True, there are health benefits for some patients. Several recent studies, including a new one from the Scripps Research Institute, show that THC, the chemical in marijuana responsible for the high, can help slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. (In fact, it seems to block the formation of disease-causing plaques better than several mainstream drugs.) Other studies have shown THC to be a very effective antinausea treatment for people–cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, for example–for whom conventional medications aren’t working. And medical cannabis has shown promise relieving pain in patients with multiple sclerosis and reducing intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients. See Sanjay Gupta’s column Fit Nation.

But I suspect that most of the people eager to vote yes on the new ballot measures aren’t suffering from glaucoma, Alzheimer’s or chemo-induced nausea. Many of them just want to get stoned legally. That’s why I, like many other doctors, am unimpressed with the proposed legislation, which would legalize marijuana irrespective of any medical condition.

Why do I care? As Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, puts it, “Numerous deleterious health consequences are associated with [marijuana's] short- and long-term use, including the possibility of becoming addicted.”

What are other health consequences? Frequent marijuana use can seriously affect your short-term memory. It can impair your cognitive ability (why do you think people call it dope?) and lead to long-lasting depression or anxiety. While many people smoke marijuana to relax, it can have the opposite effect on frequent users. And smoking anything, whether it’s tobacco or marijuana, can seriously damage your lung tissue.

The Nevada and Colorado marijuana initiatives have gained support from unlikely places. More than 33 religious leaders in Nevada have endorsed the measure, arguing that permissive legalization, accompanied by stringent regulations and penalties, can cut down on illegal drug trafficking and make communities safer.

Perhaps. But I’m here to tell you, as a doctor, that despite all the talk about the medical benefits of marijuana, smoking the stuff is not going to do your health any good. And if you get high before climbing behind the wheel of a car, you will be putting yourself and those around you in danger.

I know several people who though Obama was going to be pro marijuana re-legalization. I tried to tell them…

I like how he attacks issues no one really disagrees with and ignores the freedom angle and passes over the black market aspects. Sad.

National Guard getting in on the asset forfeiture game

Posted on November 25th, 2008 by bile
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The Colorado National Guard, for the first time ever, received an asset forfeiture sharing check this afternoon at a ceremony that took place inside the State Capitol. The check was a result of a Western Slope marijuana investigation, involving the Guard as well as a number of federal agencies. Agencies participating in the ceremony included the United States Attorney, and representatives from the Bureau of Land Management Enforcement Division, the IRS-Criminal Investigation, and the Colorado National Guard.

Major General H. Michael Edwards, the Adjutant General of Colorado, was presented a $93,701 check for the National Guard’s role in the “Topliss” marijuana investigation, which included asset forfeiture. Beth and Alfred Topliss were arrested for growing marijuana on their property in rural Mesa County. A search warrant executed on the property resulted in a bizarre stand-off, where Mr. Topliss put a gun to his head and said, “I’ll kill the hostage if you don’t back-off.” The hostage was Mr. Topliss himself. The subject was disarmed, and ultimately he and his wife were convicted on state felony charges of possession of marijuana.

Under federal law, property involved in various crimes, including drug cultivation, may be seized and forfeited. In this case, the IRS was the seizing agency, at the request of the Mesa County Drug Task Force. The United States Attorney’s Office filed a forfeiture action against the Topliss’ property in U.S. District Court in Denver. As a result of the case, a court order was issued, forfeiting $375,000, which was the property’s value. Under federal law, the funds go to agencies involved in the investigation, for programs that aid law enforcement in apprehending criminals as well as to youth drug prevention programs. The Mesa County Drug Task Force also received a check during the event for $112,441.

A new Colorado law, Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS) 16-13-601 and 28-3-1303 (2) designate the Colorado National Guard as a law enforcement agency for the limited purpose of participating in the Federal Asset Forfeiture Program. This new law allows the Guard to receive forfeiture sharing monies from cases in which they play a direct role in investigating. The statutes do not expand the law enforcement authority in relation to other types of operations.

“No one should profit from crime,” said United States Attorney Troy Eid. “Besides facing prison and fines, drug-traffickers risk forfeiting their ill-gotten gains.”

No one should profit from crime… except those in government apparently. Asset forfeiture is bad enough already… this is only going to make it worse.

And really… “ill-gotten gains?” Providing customers with products and services you don’t like are ill-gotten? Well I guess when you have the guns and the aura of legitimacy with regard to violence… I suppose it’s whatever Troy says.

Some good news from this election

Posted on November 5th, 2008 by bile
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  • Ralph Nader, the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, and the Green Party will all substantially increase their raw vote totals over 2004.
  • Ron Paul received 2.2% in Montanna and 0.5% in Louisiana. Third place in both.
  • Ron Paul kept his districts House seat.
  • Few of the Ron Paul candidates won. Lamborn of Colorado 5th District and McClintock of California 4th District. It’s been questioned however whether Lamborn is an actual RP backed candidate.
  • Maine rejects sales taxes and medical claim fees to fund state health program.
  • South Dakota voted not to ban abortion.
  • Massachusetts decrims marijuana.
  • Michigan voted to allow medical marijuana.
  • Washington voted to allow for allowing some terminally ill adults to obtain lethal prescriptions.
  • Arizona shot down requiring revocation of business licenses of any employer who knowingly hires illegal aliens.
  • Colorado fails to define human life as beginning at fertilization.
  • Nebraska bans discrimination and preferential treatment by the State.

Let me include the bad:

  • Few of the Ron Paul candidates won. Lamborn of Colorado 5th District and McClintock of California 4th District. It’s been questioned however whether Lamborn is an actual RP backed candidate.
  • Colorado fails to ban discrimination and preferential treatment by the state.
  • Colorado fails to prohibit mandatory union membership and mandatory union dues.
  • Arizona bans same sex marriage.
  • Arizona shot down requiring that a majority of all registered voters approve any initiative with spending or tax increases.
  • Arkansas bans unmarried cohabitating couples from adopting or being foster parents.
  • California establishes the nation’s first comprehensive farm animal rights law.
  • California shot down expanding treatment programs for nonviolent drug offenders. (better then prison IMO)
  • California banned same sex marriage.
  • Florida bans same sex marriage.
  • Massachusetts overwhelmingly rejects getting rid of state income tax.
  • Massachusetts bans dog racing.
  • Montana provides government funded health insurance coverage for as many as 30,000 uninsured children.
  • North Dakota votes against reducing or eliminating income tax.
  • Oregon votes against requiring that teacher pay and job security be linked directly to classroom performance.

McCain and Obama’s national service plans compared

Posted on September 16th, 2008 by bile
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Both John McCain and Barack Obama exhorted Americans to dedicate themselves to public service in an appearance at Columbia University on Thursday, to mark the seventh anniversary of 9/11. But Americans need no lectures from politicians to participate in their nation’s civic life. They need them to stay out of the way. Between the two, Sen. Obama is far less likely to do so.

At first blush, the two candidates appear indistinguishable on the subject. Both have urged Americans to look beyond their individual, material pursuits and commit themselves to causes greater than themselves — Sen. McCain arguably even more aggressively than Mr. Obama. The difference is that for Mr. McCain this is a moral ideal. For Mr. Obama, it is a governing mission. “Making that call to service will be a central cause of my presidency,” he declared in an Independence Day address at the University of Colorado and elsewhere.

Mr. McCain certainly uses his bully pulpit to proselytize Americans about public service. But he more or less stops there, even repeatedly cautioning during the Columbia forum against federalizing public service, although that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t throw taxpayer money at some of his pet service projects. However, his Web site offers nothing near what Mr. Obama is proposing.

Mr. Obama has laid out a 10-page vision statement that includes virtually every program proposed by the left and the right in recent memory and then some. President Bush’s controversial faith-based initiative? He’ll keep it. President Kennedy’s Peace Corps? He’ll double it. Even Mr. McCain’s seven-year-old plan to raise a domestic civilian force to fight terrorism and triple enrollment in AmeriCorps gets a plug.

In addition, Mr. Obama would create several new corps of his own: a Classroom Corps to help teachers and students in underperforming schools; a Health Corps for underserved areas; a Clean Energy Corps to weatherize homes and promote energy independence. The last is separate from his Global Energy Corps, to promote low-carbon energy solutions in developing countries.

Mr. Obama calls all this his “Plan for Universal and Voluntary Citizen Service.” It might live up to its “universal” billing, given that it would prod Americans of all age groups — from preteens to retirees — to sign up. But as to its voluntariness, the plan will make generous use of Uncle Sam’s money — and muscle.

My coverage of national service and Service Nation can be found here.

Iraq war resister sentenced to 15 months, slavery alive and well in the United States of America

Posted on August 24th, 2008 by bile
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The first American war resister deported from Canada – where he had fled after refusing to be deployed to Iraq – was sentenced to 15 months in jail yesterday at a court martial hearing in Colorado.

Pte. Robin Long, 25, of Boise, Idaho, was also given a dishonourable discharge after pleading guilty to charges of desertion.

The sentence was the longest any convicted army deserter had received since the beginning of the 2003 Iraq war, said retired U.S. Army Col. Ann Wright, a former diplomat who resigned from her post out of protest at the war’s outset.

Wright testified against the legality of the Iraq war on Long’s behalf.

Of the thousands of soldiers sentenced for desertion or going AWOL – and the estimated two dozen tried for protesting the war – only former army sergeant Kevin Benderman received an equal sentence in 2005.

About two-dozen anti-war supporters gathered around the courthouse at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colo., yesterday afternoon as a military judge handed down Long’s sentence.

Though initially sentenced to 30 months in prison, that time was reduced to the 15-month maximum military prosecutors had agreed on when arranging a plea deal last week.

Long, 25, came to Canada in 2005 to flee a scheduled deployment to Iraq. While here, he was briefly engaged to an Ontario woman – with whom he had a child last year – before he moved to British Columbia, supporters have said.

He was deported and taken into the custody of the U.S. Army last month following a series of failed attempts to gain refugee status or permanent residency in Canada.

Late last week, Long’s lawyers reached an agreement with prosecutors that would see him plead guilty on charges of desertion with the intent to stay away permanently.

In return, prosecutors agreed not to move forward on the most serious charges of desertion with the intent to shirk hazardous duty.

Standing calmly and waiting for his sentence after three hours of testimony at yesterday’s hearing, Long appeared stoic and ready to serve his time in a military jail, supporters said.

“He was very calm and very measured,” said Wright. “He fully anticipated that he would be serving the entire 15 months.”

The dishonourable discharge he received could also go down as a felony offence and could restrict his future right to vote or carry a firearm, his lawyer said.

“(He) would pretty much become a second-class citizen,” his Oklahoma-based civilian lawyer, James M. Branum, told the Star earlier this week.

Like many of the other roughly 200 other American war resisters currently living in Canada, Long has said he opposed the conflict in Iraq on legal and moral grounds.

13th Amendment of the United States Constitution:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Unlike property, a man’s will is inalienable and therefore intransferable. Should a contract provide for payments upfront then breaking the contract would constitute theft which the person breaking the contract and therefore commiting the theft would be expected to pay back. However, that person would still be free to exit without the threat of violence against them.

Murray Rothbard covers this in better detail in The Ethics of Liberty.