Freedom Updates: June 30, 2002

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com

Freedom Updates: June 30, 2002

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


Life Threatened, LP Candidate Claims
On June 16, Biff Baker, the LP's candidate for U.S. Congress against Joel Hefley, sent out the following e-mail.

As you know, I reported $100 million in fraud -- since then, I lost my job, got black-listed, threats of law suits, and a Death Threat... Yesterday, I almost got run off the high-way I-25 -- then heard prowler behind my house last right. All neighbors came out with weapons and prowler fled. .. good gun toting neighbors. Loyal. Also called the cops who showed up 30 min later... Notified FBI 10 days ago -- just rcd an "auto-reply" to my email. Status Update -- Scary Stuff, but still hanging on for Justice, Honor, and Integrity...

This web page has not received outside verification of these claims. The June 13-19 edition of the Colorado Springs Independent published a lengthy article by Terje Langeland about fraud Baker alleges. That article sums up:

[F]ederal investigators are looking into Baker's allegations that agencies working on the missile-defense program are engaging in fraud, waste and abuse. Baker of Colorado Springs, claims the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency and the Army Space and Missile Defense Command have been awarding sole-source contracts to a defense contracting company run by a retired high-ranking general, who at one point served as assistant vice chief of staff for the Army. This, Baker maintains, not only raises questions about business dealings between current and retired command staff, but also violates federal regulations that require contracts to be awarded through a competitive bid process.

The article goes on to say Baker was fired from his job eight days after alleging the abuse. Senator Wayne Allard characterized the allegations as "serious," and the General Accounting Office is looking into the matter.

Baker's story was also reported by the Daily Camera of Boulder on June 21:

Baker's complaint involved an Army announcement in December that SY Technology would get a $43.6 million sole-source contract to build the Site Activation Command, which will control the Army's land-based missile system. Baker said the work could be done by a few dozen other companies. SY has said it was chosen based on its work record and knowledge of the program.

Baker wrote a letter to the Washington Times about the matter that was published June 27:

I read with horror "Security bill bars blowing whistle" (National, Saturday), which details how the bill seeking to create a Homeland Security Department would exempt its employees from whistle-blower protection. This would create a strong disincentive to report abuse. I say this based on personal experience.

I discovered $100 million in fraudulent contracts within the National Missile Defense program, which I reported to my boss. I was fired eight days later. It was only after reporting the wrongdoing that I learned I was not protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act. The limited scope of the act undoubtedly has kept other employees from talking about fraud in the National Missile Defense program, where the annual budget is $3.2 billion. If the proposed Homeland Security Department, with an estimated budget of about $37 billion, also is exempted from the whistle-blower act, there will be much more abuse that will go unpunished because it will be unreported.

Libertarians Rally in Colorado Springs

Ralph Shnelvar organized a rally in Colorado Springs June 29 in support of legalized marijuana. Shnelvar is the Libertarian Party's candidate for governor. Several hundred people attended the event, and the LP earned 107 new voter registrations. Later that night, Shnelvar went on a "pub crawl" with his running mate Desiree Hickson. Keith Hamburger and Scott Graves also attended. They earned another 27 voter registrations there.

Shnelvar pointed out, however, that getting people to register Libertarian is much more difficult simply because the party isn't listed on the official registration forms. He said, "The cost to Democrats and Republicans for their registrations is roughly zero. When people register they see the Party name on the registration form." Still, the LP increased its membership by about 2% in a single day.


Freedom a 'Nonissue'?

Recently, I wrote an article about Colorado's blue laws that was published in the Rocky Mountain News (www.freecolorado.com/2002/06/bluelaws.html). On June 28, Jim Perrin wrote a letter to the paper criticizing me.

Because Perrin summarized many of my arguments, I'm thrilled with the additional coverage. I am perplexed, however, by Perrin's attitude: "I often ponder why some people spend so much time being passionate advocates of nonissues... A little planning will take care of Sunday's liquor problem. Both Armstrong and [Blake] Harrison need to get a real life while the rest of us enjoy the booze we bought on Saturday." If the blue laws are a "nonissue," then why did Perrin take the time to comment on my article? But of course economic freedom is an important issue, even if the blue laws are only a small element of the economic restrictions now in place.

The following two letters defend my original article. (To date they have not been published by the Rocky.)

Jim Perrin wrote (RMN, June 28), "I often ponder why some people spend so much time being passionate advocates of nonissues" and then tells the defenders of freedom, Armstrong and Harrison, that they "need to get a real life."

I, on the other hand, often ponder why people like Mr. Perrin do not become incensed about the nonissues that the government has heaped upon us: the insane blue laws; the complete prohibition of marijuana; the disarmament of the citizenry; the multitude of tiny, little overt and hidden taxes that eventually consume 50% of the average wage earner's income.

It is the death of freedom by a million tiny cuts. Each cut hurts and each cut must be fought.

The death of freedom is the most important reason I am running for governor.

Instead of applauding the efforts of those who fight for liberty, Mr. Perrin's idea of 'getting a real life' is writing a letter to the paper opposing economic freedom.

Ralph Shnelvar
Libertarian nominee for governor of Colorado

* * * * *

Blue laws, whether they regard Sunday liquor sales or soothsayers over at Isis Bookstore, are nothing more than obsolete antiquities that deserve repeal.

In the case of liquor sales on Sunday we're talking about letting consumer choice in the free market decide. Banning liquor sales because of an arbitrary decision of a calendar is a needless intrusion by government into the marketplace.

In the case of soothsayers laws, they only serve to interfere with individual freedom to no purpose. Isis has been repeatedly raided by the Denver PD for doing tarot readings (which falls under both free speech and free religion exercises). To what purpose? None, really, except to prosecute someone for the "crime" of having a palm read.

Then again, intrusion on individual freedom seems to be the hallmark of an out-of-touch, out-of-control government. So I guess those who favor this type of thing will not object when the government labels them domestic terrorists under the PATRIOT ACT in the future when they unwittingly break a law.

Freedom is precious and should not be infringed by the stupidity of government. Pass the beer and give me a reading!

Mike Seebeck

Civil Disobedience a Virtue

A letter I wrote about civil disobedience appeared in the June 13 edition of the Denver Post.

Re: "Libertarian's action at Civic Center was anything but civil disobedience," June 6, The Open Forum.

Apparently, Ted Remington believes any law supported by the majority is necessarily just. By Remington's standard, segregation was just, and Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. were wrong in fighting those laws. Remington is wrong. Libertarians know that individual rights trump majority rule and that Rosa Parks is a great hero.

Rick Stanley carried a loaded gun on his hip in Denver to protest the city's disarmament ordinance, which he believes is unconstitutional and unjust. Remington compares Stanley's peaceful act to an act of murder. Remington's suggestion is absurd. The definition of "civil disobedience" is engaging in peaceful behavior to break a law one believes is unjust, in order to encourage the repeal of the law.

Remington says Stanley should move to where "people don't speak English, you can't drink the water, and there are no seats on the toilets." On the contrary: people willing to go to jail to peaceably protest unjust laws deserve the highest seats of honor in our society (whether they speak English or not).


Rise in Anti-Semitism?

The June 13 Rocky Mountain News notes, "A new survey has found that 17 percent of Americans hold 'hard-core' anti-Semitic views -- up from four years ago -- while another 35 percent fall into a 'middle' category defined as faint prejudice against Jews."

That's a shocking finding. If it's true, then over half the American population is bigoted against Jews. Even if the claims are exaggerated, still if there is an increase in racism that's highly disturbing.

I'm a little skeptical, however. I wonder if people who think the U.S. should neither support nor oppose the state of Israel are wrongly categorized as "faintly" anti-Semitic. Also, the survey was released by the Anti-Defamation League. Ever since the ADL defamed Bob Glass -- who is Jewish -- I've been a little more skeptical about the group's claims. (See www.freecolorado.com/2001/05/seibert.html.)

Whether or not the poll's results are accurate, obviously it is incumbent on libertarians and honorable people of all political persuasions to counter racism wherever it's found. While our country has made great strides in eliminating racism, clearly much work remains to be done.


Media Notes

Shnelvar Featured in Grand Junction Sentinel

Ralph Shnelvar, the LP's candidate for governor, spoke with Gary Harmon of the Daily Sentinel June 24. Four days later, Harmon's story appeared in the paper. The article began, "The Libertarian candidate for Colorado governor has two big issues: guns and marijuana. Neither should be regulated, Ralph Shnelvar said. Shnelvar, 51, said he was disappointed with the performance of Republican Gov. Bill Owens, especially in the area of Second Amendment rights."

According to Shnelvar, Harmon related, Amendment 22 "requires criminal background checks for purchases of handguns in all but private transactions, creates a de facto registration system, providing government with information it shouldn't have."

Harmon reported Shnelvar's campaign strategy: to bring the 30% of voters who support gun rights together with the 30% of voters who advocate the legalization of marijuana for a majority. Harmon also noted Shnelvar's support for TABOR and his opposition to the PATRIOT Act.

Suprynowicz Covers Stanley Trial

Vin Suprynowicz, the libertarian reporter who works for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, wrote a June 23 column about Rick Stanley's trial in Denver. Stanley was convicted of carrying a gun on his hip.

During voir dire, Stanley's lawyer, Paul Grant, questioned a police officer from the jury pool. "I asked her when you became a police officer didn't you take an oath to protect and defend the constitutions of the United States and the state of Colorado. She said, 'I guess I did; I can't remember.' I asked her were you ever instructed in those constitutional rights, and she said no. Then I asked her, if the judge were to instruct you that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the defendant a right to keep and bear arms, do you think you could follow his instructions?"

Judge Patterson interrupted the proceedings, dismissed the jury, and told Grant, "I already sent you an order in this case. The order has been mailed to your offices. You are not to mention the Constitution during this proceeding. Do you understand?"

When Grant said he wasn't sure he understood, the judge continued, "Then I'll explain it again. You are not to reference the Constitution in these proceedings. You will not address it in voir dire, you will not address it in your opening remarks, you will not ask any questions about the Constitution when you summon your witnesses, and you will not talk about the Constitution when you give your closing arguments. Do you understand my instructions?"

Suprynowicz called city attorney Paul Puckett, who said, "What I did tell him [David Bryant] in the courtroom was that Denver, as a home-rule city, has a right to pass reasonable regulations on the carrying of weapons. That's under their home-rule status and the constitution of the state of Colorado, and I referred him to a recent court of appeals case finding that ordinance constitutional.."

Suprynowicz called the city's reasoning "pernicious nonsense." He argued, "What other constitutional rights could be violated so blatantly, and with such impunity? If the Denver City Council passed an ordinance banning Presbyterian sermons within city limits; or free speech by anyone... would Judge Patterson sit there and simper, 'I have no choice but to enforce the law as written. The defendant was clearly caught conducting a Presbyterian religious service within the city limits'? I don't think so. I think it's just our gun rights."

Bain Covers Gorman

Ron Bain, a Libertarian, now works for the Boulder Weekly. On June 13, Bain wrote a lengthy column about local marijuana-rights activist Ken Gorman. Part of Bain's article related,

Gorman's most recent spout of activism has been to support the growing list of Libertarian candidates who are ballot eligible in the 2002 election, including Rick Stanley for Senate and Boulder's Ralph Shnelvar for Governor. "I can pay my rent and buy my food, but the rest goes to anybody who will run against the drug war. Colorado is pivotal in tipping the scales one way or another nationally," Gorman says. "We're either going to have a police state which will end our right to vote, or there will be a state-by-state domino effect in toppling the drug war." ...He promises the Libertarian Party that his activism will deliver their candidates some 300,000 votes in 2002. That claim may be reflective of past drug use, but who really knows?

Drug War Violence

The June 13 Rocky Mountain News reports, "A man opened fire outside a house [in Memphis] after a drug deal went sour Wednesday, injuring three adults and five children inside the home, police said. A 3-year-old girl and a 59-year-old woman... were in critical condition..." Obviously, violence associated with the drug trade is result of prohibition laws. Absent prohibition, the little girl and older lady would not have been shot "in the chest."

On June 20, Betsy Shaffer defended Judge John Kane in a letter to the Rocky. She wrote, "Thirty years of black-market terrorism, increasing property crimes, prisons so crowded with nonviolent offenders that rapists get early release to make room for them, and the disintegration of family structure due to the incarceration and untreated addictions are a direct result of prohibition..."

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com