Freedom Updates: September 29, 2002

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

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Freedom Updates: September 29, 2002

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


Greene with Compound Envy?
Susan Greene wrote a story about Rick Stanley for the September 29 Denver Post. The story is reasonably fair, and it reviews the libertarian positions on firearms, taxes, and other issues.

But, ridiculously, Greene claims Stanley lives in a "compound." That's absurd. He lives in a plush apartment above his business. In his book Boston's Gun Bible, Boston T. Party defines a "compound" as "the wooden home of a dissident under federal siege." Well, Stanley's shop is constructed of concrete blocks, not wood, but after all it's in an industrial area.

Greene also says Stanley "has stockpiled food, water and ammunition that would sustain him for at least two months..." Two months? That's it? The Mormons store food to last at least a year. Boston defines "stockpile" as "to store any quantity of Politically Incorrect items."

The caption by a photo of Stanley reports, "...Stanley... on Thursday tried to buy a handgun in an Aurora gun shop but was denied because his driver's license had expired." This is an outrage! Certainly Stanley has done nothing to warrant being stripped of his Constitutional Rights! But the Brady law has never been about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, which it has demonstrably failed to do. It is about harassing, disarming, and registering peaceable gun owners.

Shamefully, Senator Wayne Allard said he wants to expand the unconstitutional and unjust Brady gun-registration scheme by basing federal legislation on Colorado's Amendment 22. At least Stanley is acting "in protest of 25,000 laws in the United States that nullify the Second Amendment."

Perhaps Senator Wayne Allard will soon learn that Republicans who screw over gun owners often lose.


Rise and Decline of the Denver Empire
I heard a fascinating talk by Doug Casey at the FEE convention in Las Vegas earlier in the year. (FEE is the Foundation for Economic Education.) Casey noted that, originally, Roman money was coined with symbolic imagery. Eventually, money was coined with the picture of the current leader. (Jesus refers to such coinage in the Bible.)

Similarly, money in the U.S. used to carry the images of Liberty and Justice. Now it is coined and printed with the pictures of dead presidents. (I'm using the term "money" loosely to include Federal Reserve Notes.) Americans have taken to naming things for increasingly more recent leaders.

Now, Denver has named a $129 million building after Wellington Webb, and he hasn't even left office yet! All in due reverence to the State. Well, at least there's not a coin out with Webb's picture on it. Yet.


Tancredo's Dichotomy
Congressman Tom Tancredo argues in a September 23 column in the Rocky Mountain News, "Either we amnesty the 9 million illegal aliens who are here and Abolish America's borders, or we start enforcing the law." That's a false dichotomy.

America can allow guests from other countries, and still protect the borders from foreign aggressors. In fact, it would be much easier to protect the borders from foreign aggressors if the immigration laws were revised to allow all peaceful people to live and work here. Then law enforcement resources could be used more usefully and the black market in forged documents would be practically eliminated.


Common Sense Justice
South Dakotans will face a vote this November on a reform that would allow legal defendants "to argue the merits, validity, and applicability of the law," as a pamphlet from Common Sense Justice describes (see http://www.commonsensejustice.us/.) Rumor has it a prominent Colorado libertarian lawyer helped to inspire this effort.

The initiative inspired national publicity. Adam Liptak wrote a story about the initiative for the New York Times that was reprinted in the Denver Post on September 22. Liptak cites the "centuries-old debate about the role of juries in deciding not just the facts of a case but also the wisdom of the law in question." Liptak quotes Bob Newland, the Libertarian candidate for attorney general in South Dakota: "I'm concerned with the increasing criminalization of more and more behavior, of things that merely annoy other people." Liptak says opponents of the reform call it "anti-democratic." Of course it is: the entire point is to undermine the tyranny of the majority.


Changing Lanes
I put off seeing the film Changing Lanes because, while I enjoy Samuel L. Jackson as an actor, I thought the film might be a frustrating exercise of tit-for-tat. And the film is that -- for a while. But it is more than that.

Changing Lanes is a story of moral determination. Are we the playthings of a malicious fate, living in a cynical world of universal immorality? Or can we take charge of our fate and do the right thing?

Here's the basic story: Ben Affleck's character, a lawyer, runs Jackson's character off the road. Jackson's character, a father, is trying to get to court to get joint custody of his children. The lawyer is trying to get to court to file crucial -- but questionable -- paperwork. The lawyer leaves the father stranded on the street, but he leaves the file with the father! The two men lock horns in a battle to destroy each other. But the real story is how each man struggles between vindictiveness and doing the right thing.

The sub-theme is the importance of the rule of law as a means to resolve conflicts. For the first time ever I actually enjoyed Ben Affleck's performance. Worth a rent.


Gregg Miller Debates
Miller sent out the following announcement on September 25: "The Arvada Chamber of Commerce debate at West Woods clubhouse went well. There were about 50 people - candidates from HD-27 (3 of us), HD-29 & Senate District 20 with support/staff, the Chamber & the 'Arvada Sentinel', some others. As usual, I was the sole Libertarian & managed to orient most answers to the philosophy of government as protector of human rights, requiring free-enterprise for a healthy economy & the support of government, rather than today's preconception that government makes life possible."


Media Notes

Mauser-- In a September 22 letter to the Denver Post, Tom Mauser makes one good point contra Ken Hamblin: modern advocates of victim disarmament laws are not typically racists. However, as Hamblin points out, racist gun laws indeed laid much of the groundwork for modern gun laws. (Hamblin cited Clayton E. Cramer's "The Racist Roots of Gun Control." Another source is Stephen Halbrook's "That Every Man Be Armed.") Mauser cites the "nearly 30,000 lives [lost] each year to gunshots." Yet the gun restrictions Mauser advocates would not solve those problems, which are largely caused by suicide and gang violence. Indeed, the gun laws Mauser advocates would empower criminals by disarming honest citizens. If Mauser honestly wanted to reduce gun violence in America, he would advocate the repeal of drug prohibition.

City Edition-- The Westminster city government spends tax dollars to publish and mail its own newspaper, City Edition, which goes out every two months. This is a gross waste of tax money -- though it's good name recognition for the seven council members, who are always pictured on page 2. The September/October edition ran a main headline, "Winter Snow Needed to Eliminate Water Restrictions." No, market pricing is needed to eliminate water restrictions.

Katz-- Adam Katz, the Libertarian running against Tom Tancredo, earned two mentions in the Rocky Mountain News recently. On September 14, Katie Kerwin Mccrimmon quoted Katz, "This man who claims to be in favor of smaller government now wants to waste time, money and energy on a family that is no threat to our country. This is America, not Nazi Germany. He has a lot of nerve trying to use his power as a congressman in this way." Mccrimmon added, "Katz agrees with Tancredo that we need tighter control of our borders. But the INS shouldn't waste precious resources going after the Apodaca family." On September 28, a News editorial endorsed the Democrat over Tancredo. "Katz does not merely think the Patriot Act goes too far, for example, he believes 'it was passed by a government bent on enslaving us'." The News says Katz' views are not "mainstream."

Jesus-- A quote by Wayne Allard appears on the front page of the September 26 Denver Post: "I am in support of enforcing immigration laws. But immigrants play a vital role in our economy, in agriculture, tourism and construction. That's what Tom [Tancredo] has to deal with." On this one issue, Allard sounds more like a libertarian than his Libertarian opponent does. Not to be outdone, Senator Ben Campbell introduced a bill to make Jesus Apodaca -- the target of Tancredo's ire -- a permanent resident. Owens also piped in to support the bill. No senator or senatorial candidate has proposed general pro-market immigration reforms.

Aiding Terrorists-- Jim Hughes reports for the September 26 Denver Post, "The war on drugs and the war on terrorism share many of the same enemies, Drug Enforcement Administration chief Asa Hutchinson told drug investigators gathered for a conference in Fort Collins on Wednesday." But it is the black market created by America's drug war that funds terrorists! Hughes was irresponsible for reporting only one side of the story -- the DEA's side. And Hutchinson's failure to recognize the root problem demonstrates he is either stupid or willfully ignorant. Or knowingly deceitful.

Tuition for Immigrants-- A Denver Post editorial from September 26 suggests more immigrants should be given in-state tuition rates. It seems not to have occurred to the Post that the entire problem is the result of tax financing. Libertarians call for the complete separation of school and state. Then schools can charge whatever tuition rates they deem appropriate.

Libertarian Drops Ball-- The Denver Post generously allowed third-party candidates for the First Congressional to submit 500-word essays. The September 26 edition includes essays from Green Ken Seaman and Constitution George Lilly. But "the Libertarian Party candidate in the 1st District, was invited to contribute to this presentation, but was unable to participate." That is pathetic. The Denver Post is the largest paper in the region. A 500-word essay on its pages is worth thousands of dollars of advertising. And Libertarians wonder why they're not taken seriously?

Red (White and Blue) China-- China is by no means a free country. But it seems to be getting freer. Two stories reprinted in the September 25 Rocky Mountain News offer signs of hope. "Supporters of the outlawed Falun Gong movement hacked into China's top TV satellite system, beaming flashes of their material to millions of rural Chinese..." And "China has released political prisoners and invited groups of journalists to tour Tibet." Small steps.

Unheeded Warning-- One FBI agent warned on August 27, 2001 that Zacarias Moussaoui might "take control of a plane and fly it into the World Trade Center" (Ken Guggenheim, AP, September 25). This doesn't make me feel especially confident in the government's handling of national security. We do have to remember that the FBI and other agencies have to work on incomplete and ambiguous information. It's tough to predict the future. Which supports the libertarian contention that our government should avoid entangling alliances and alleviate some of the need for the FBI to protect us in the first place.

American Jihad-- Zayed Yasin delivered a speech at Harvard originally titled, "My American Jihad." Part of Yasin's talk was reprinted in the September edition of Peacework (page 43). He said, "Jihad, in its truest and purest form... is the determination to do right, to do justice..." He continued, "As a Muslim, and as an American, I am commanded to stand up for the protection of life and liberty, to serve the poor and the weak, to celebrate the diversity of humankind. There is no contradiction. Not for me, and not for anyone, of any combination of faith, culture and nationality, who believes in a community of the human spirit." This cosmopolitan attitude among Muslims, and indeed among practitioners of all religions, is to be welcomed.

'We Made a Mistake'-- A September 22 story by Paula Woodward and Nicole Vap printed in the Denver Post describes how Denver zoning officials approved a permit, then withdrew the permit, at a cost of around $15,000 to the homeowner. "We made a mistake," said Jennifer Moulton of the agency. Not good enough! The agents who made the mistake should be fired and required to personally compensate the homeowner.

Strickland the Prohibitionist-- Jack Woehr wrote a letter published in the September 29 Denver Post that described Tom Strickland as "a regular drug-war prosecutor, a role he cheerfully and energetically assumed..." Woehr accuses Strickland of "the horrendous human-rights crimes of the drug warriors, in particular the federal prosecutors, [that] remain shrouded from the public eye."

Senate Candidates Featured in Post-- The September 22 Denver Post featured essays by Rick Stanley, John Heckman, and Douglas "Dayhorse" Campbell, of the Libertarian, Concerns of People, and American Constitution parties, respectively. Heckman lambasted atheists. Campbell said he supports the right to bear arms and lower taxes. He had the best one-liner: "[I]f you can hit the target, with the first shot, every time, you have achieved gun control." Stanley said he wants to abolish the Federal Reserve and end "admiralty martial law," in addition to abolishing the income tax, ending the drug war, and protecting the right to bear arms.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com