Freedom Updates: November 3, 2002

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

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com

Freedom Updates: November 3, 2002

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.


Shnelvar Finishes Rounds
The LP's candidate for governor, Ralph Shnelvar is ending the last week of the election cycle with a flurry of activity. He recently appeared on the Joseph Michelli show on KVOR 740 AM in Colorado Springs. He is also running radio ads in Colorado Springs blasting Owens for his positions on taxes, guns, and medical marijuana. He scheduled a TV interview there for the 3rd, and he spent the 2nd and 3rd in Longmont at a biker event.

Shnelvar also ran an edgy radio ad in the Denver market critical of drug prohibition. (Clear Channel almost didn't allow it.) The ad ran on KTCL, 93.3 FM, and KBPI, 106.7 FM, both contemporary rock stations. Behind the voices played a song from Ken Gorman's album, "It's a Cannabis Christmas." The words "bud, bud bud bud" played to the music from Carol of the Bells. Shnelvar said he used the music to get people to pay attention to the ad. The text follows.

This is Ken Gorman. I'm the one who's been passing out the pot on the capitol steps for the last ten years.

Now that I can't run for governor, I've found someone who can really do the job. His name is Ralph Shnelvar, Libertarian candidate for governor. And, Libertarians are totally opposed to the illegal and unconstitutional war on drugs.

The war on drugs is totally supported by the current Texas oil-lobbyist-Republican governor. Our current government wants to put medical marijuana patients in prison in the face of voter-approved legalization.

I want this oil-pig out of office. The only way to do that is to vote for the Libertarian candidate for governor.

You can tell just how much I respect and approve of Mr. Shnelvar, the Libertarian candidate for governor, by going to my web site, www.kg1.org.

This is Ken Gorman. Do it for me, and do it for yourselves. But vote for Shnelvar, Libertarian.

This is Ralph Shnelvar, Libertarian candidate for Governor. Paid for by Shnelvar for Governor.

The ad is available via internet at www.shnelvar.com.


Denny Scores Media
Margaret Denny is the only opponent of the scandal-ridden county clerk in Arapahoe County. Karen Rouse wrote a November 3 article for the Denver Post titled, "Libertarian seizes chance for Arapahoe clerk slot."

Michelle Konieczny wrote to the "lpco-chat" e-list, "Way to go Margaret! ... By the way, this article is a direct result of sending honest to goodness NEWS releases, and a thank you note for including a small paragraph about Margaret with a quote in an earlier story. Kindness goes a long way when dealing with the press... Thanking them when they do a small favor, and supplying them with enough real information to write a news or feature article will win your campaign and the LP points. Not to mention getting a story printed when none was planned!"

Others, however, complained that Rouse sensationalized Denny's religious beliefs. Rouse refers to Denny as a "self-professed witch" and spends around 20% of the article discussing her "pagan" religion.

True, Rouse's discussion of religion was out of place. Still, it is an unusual point, and reader-hungry papers will always report a candidate's eccentricities. For libertarians, a person's religion should be irrelevant to government (unless of course the religious beliefs entail the use of physical force for political ends).

When Kennedy ran for president, his Catholic religion was certainly an issue in the election. Libertarians should not hesitate to use Denny's campaign to promote religious political tolerance, something necessary to a peaceful society.

Fortunately, Rouse also covered more important issues, such as the incumbent's problems. John Berntson, notes Rouse, is "optimistic about Denny's chances," but, he said, "My fear is people who just walk in and pull the Republican lever out of habit." Denny's Republican opponent is accused of "gross mismanagement, sexual misconduct, misuse of public funds and creating a hostile working environment," Rouse notes. The local Republican machine still supports him, though.

This election will be an important test of voter's ability to do the right thing. Denny is so obviously the superior candidate in this race, she should win with 100% of the vote. Her loss would indict the entire democratic process.


The Liar and the Coward
A recent Democratic Party mailer for Tom Strickland is filled with lies. It supports the expansion of Brady's gun registration program by passing new federal laws pertaining to gun shows. The tone of the Strickland mailer is far different from a superficially pro-gun mailer the Democrats sent out for Matsunaka (see http://www.freecolorado.com/2002/10/matsunaka.html.) What this demonstrates, I suppose, is that the Democrats are political opportunists (big surprise there). The mailer notes "Colorado voters passed Amendment 22 by a 70 to 30 percent margin." So the Democrats will trample civil rights when the majority says it's okay. The only silver lining is that the Democrats aren't likely to stick to the gun issue if civil libertarians are able convince many voters disarmament laws are immoral and counterproductive.

The mailer asserts, "Gun shows are where criminals go to get guns..." But that is a lie. David Kopel points to two studies that indicate criminals get their guns from gun shows only around 2% of the time. See the following two links.

http://www.davidkopel.com/2A/IP/gunshows2.htm
http://www.nraila.org/articles.asp?FormMode=Detail&ID=27&1=View

(For more articles that address the issue of gun shows, see http://www.davidkopel.com/2dAmendment.htm#Other.)

But, as Kopel notes, existing registration checks do not stop criminals, so there is no reason to expect additional laws would stop the tiny fraction of criminals who get their guns at gun shows. (Most criminals already get their firearms illegally.)

The Strickland mailer claims existing registration checks have "successfully prevented 600,000 purchases by convicted felons and other prohibited purchasers." That is again a lie. As Kopel notes, such bogus numbers include wrongful denials (http://www.nationalreview.com/kopel/kopel052102.asp). There's no evidence to suggest registration laws reduce the criminal use of guns, and two studies demonstrate existing registration laws have not reduced crime.

The Strickland mailer continues, "[T]he Middle East terrorist group Hezbollah used the gun-show loophole last fall to purchase large quantities of weapons at a gun show in Michigan, and attempted to ship them to the Middle East."

Kopel again tells the whole story (http://www.davidkopel.com/2A/IP/gunshows2.htm). The person in question tried to smuggle "automatic weapons, explosives, grenades and rocket launchers," none of which are available at gun shows. "Thus, it appears that Boumelhem had some source unrelated to gun shows from which he obtained very powerful weapons." Boumelhem, already a convicted felon, relied on his brother to make "straw purchases" at a gun show. But Brady registration checks do nothing to stop such sales.

As the Strickland mailer indicates, the shipment was not successful, because the authorities caught the criminal. So what this case really demonstrates is that politicians should repeal the unworkable, unconstitutional, and immoral Brady registration law so that law enforcement quits wasting valuable resources monitoring millions of peaceable Americans and spends those resources going after criminals.

Contra Strickland the Liar, we have Allard the Coward. Allard indeed supports the expansion of Brady's registration law by basing federal legislation on Colorado's Amendment 22. In addition to being unethical, Allard's position is also politically stupid. All he has managed to accomplish is lose some votes of gun owners to Rick Stanley and Doug "Dayhorse" Campbell, without picking up any votes from disarmament activists.

Allard, the coward, kicked gun owners in the teeth. Now it appears very likely that he will lose his election to Strickland, the liar.


"Freedom-Killer" Politicians
Speaking of liars, Mike Feeley ran TV ads claiming Bob Beauprez doesn't want to ban "cop-killer bullets." The trouble is, such bullets do not exist.

Criminologist Gary Kleck writes in Armed (2001), a book he co-wrote with Don Kates:

In 1985 and 1986, one of the major gun-related stories concerned armor-piercing ammunition. Numerous examples of biased exclusion of relevant information can be found in stories on these 'cop-killer' bullets, projectiles capable of penetrating the body armor worn by police officers. Two facts were consistently omitted from stories on this issue: (1) supporters of restrictions had never documented a single case in which this ammunition actually killed a police officer by penetrating his body armor, and (2) many common types of rifle ammunition had always been capable of penetrating police body armor, and had been widely available for years. (77)

(Rifle ammunition has greater power simply because it uses more powder.)

The Brady Campaign claims, "In the 1980s, we helped pass legislation outlawing 'cop-killers' bullets and handguns with plastic parts that could not be detected by airport x-ray machines and other security technology." Such "plastic" guns are also "nonexistent," Kleck notes (85), and he describes "cop-killer" bullets and "plastic" guns as "substantively trivial sideshow issues" (208).

The cynical disarmament lobby fabricates lies and nonsense tag phrases in order to pass any incremental anti-gun law. I doubt Feeley will outline just how many more federal gun laws he wants to add to the thousands of laws already on the books, though he does boast he wants to expand the federal registration of peaceable gun owners. Just exactly what ammunition does Feeley believe should remain legal, and for whom?

Shame on Mike Feeley for resorting to these pathetic lies. (Feeley also helped orchestrate the 2000 attack on the right to bear arms in the context of the state senate campaigns.) Shame on Bob Beauprez for failing to make a principled stand for freedom. And shame on John Sanko for failing to report the truth in his October 29 article for the Rocky Mountain News, and on Peggy Lowe for the same failing in her News article the next day.


The Stanley Factor
M.E. Sprengelmeyer wrote an excellent story for the November 1 Rocky Mountain News about Rick Stanley and the Senate race. The headline asks, "Is Stanley to Allard as Nader was to Gore?" The first sentence reads, "The balance of power on Capitol Hill could rest on the shoulders of a politician who has been censured by his own party and arrested three times this year."

One GOP member referred to this as the Stanley Factor. Pollster Paul Talmey said, "It is theoretically possible... It ultimately could affect whether Democrats have a majority. Maybe the whole universe tilts on Rick Stanley." Many recent polls show Stanley with a greater showing than the margin of difference between Strickland and Allard.

Sprengelmeyer reports, "Stanley is a self-described 'attack dog,' defender of the U.S. Constitution and the right to bear arms."

Notably, Dick Wadhams believes LP candidates may also attract votes that would otherwise go to the Democrat, because of the LP's "calls for legalizing marijuana."

One of my friends pointed out to me that Strickland is a die-hard "Drug War prosecutor" and argued it would be a shame if Stanley's campaign resulted in a win for Strickland. However, Allard has also expressed hostility to drug policy reforms, wanting to keep even industrial hemp illegal.

By the way, it's no secret I've been very critical of some of Stanley's actions. (I've been supportive of other things he's done, such as when he was arrested in Denver for carrying a firearm.) Because I've been critical, perhaps I have an extra responsibility to defend Stanley against unfair attacks. For instance, Bo Shaffer wrote a letter published in the October 13 Denver Post that claimed Stanley was "arming himself with truly formidable weaponry and thrusting it in everyone's face to intimidate them." I have seen no evidence to substantiate this claim. I have been around Stanley twice when he carried a firearm -- once when he got arrested in Denver and once at his hearing -- and both times he carried a firearm peacefully and responsibly. (Besides, many gun enthusiasts think Stanley's handguns are too puny a caliber to be considered "truly formidable.")

Stanley reportedly plans to quit the Libertarian Party the day after the election and create a new third party.


A Liberty Coalition
Mike Rosen argues in the November 1 Rocky Mountain News voters should select candidates based on their party affiliation. His comments point to the problems with the Republican Party:

"The Republican coalition includes... individualists who prefer limited government, pro-market... advocates; supporters of American sovereignty and a strong national defense; and social issues conservatives."

But "social issues conservatives" want drug prohibition, censorship, more restrictions on abortion, more conservative government schools, etc. They want bigger government and they are anti-market. (Wayne Allard won't even fight to legalize industrial hemp, even though America's founding documents were drafted on hemp paper.) Also, supporting American sovereignty is incompatible with sending American troops around the world, as many conservatives advocate.

The Democrats pull in people who benefit from wealth redistribution schemes and collectivists, Rosen notes. In the list he also includes "most minorities," gays, and "dogmatists for an assortment of leftist causes." (Why didn't he refer to the dogmatists for rightist causes?) Rosen says a vote for Strickland is also a vote for "Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton... [and] the ACLU." But one can support the ACLU without supporting Kennedy or Clinton.

Obviously, what needs to happen here is for the liberty advocates of both parties to break ranks and join the libertarian movement. Here's what the liberty coalition should look like: free-market advocates, civil-rights advocates such as ACLU members and NRA members, persecuted minorities of all types, gays (gotta love the Pink Pistols!), drug policy reformers, and pretty much everybody who wants busy-body politicians to leave them the hell alone.


The Senate Race and Civil Liberties
It's obvious neither Wayne Allard nor Tom Strickland cares much about civil liberties. Allard voted for the PATRIOT Act. Strickland enforced drug prohibition laws and persecuted non-violent gun offenders. From a civil libertarian perspective, Rick Stanley is clearly ahead.

A poll published in the October 26 Rocky Mountain News asked which of the two old-party candidates "will work to protect the civil liberties of all citizens." 45% said Allard would, while 54% picked Strickland. (These numbers include 19% who said "both.")

Another poll published in the October 30 edition of the paper asked which candidate "most closely represents your views" on the issue of abortion. Allard pulled 29% while Strickland got 50% (including 1% for both). The candidates tied on the issue of guns with 33% each.

Strickland has beat up Allard on two civil liberties issues: he claimed Allard voted to sell our Social Security numbers, and he blasted Allard for wanting to ban abortions. Meanwhile, Allard has not defended civil rights at all, at least that I'm aware of. His support of expanded Brady registrations will cost him some gun votes.

The upshot is that if Allard loses, it will be because voters perceive him as weak on civil liberties. No matter what happens, the fact that many voters seem to care about civil liberties is the silver lining of this election.


Mass-ively Expensive Transit
John Andrews is pretty keen on retaking the Colorado Senate for the Republicans. A service from ColoradoSenate.com made the following excellent points about mass transit:

--Public transit's share of transportation in Denver has hovered around 2 percent for the last decade, mirroring a national trend.

--For every mile traveled, government spends about twenty times as much on public transit as it does for roads.

--The average cost per passenger-mile on light rail is about $2.30, of which the rider only pays 13 cents per mile on average. You and other taxpayers subsidize the rest.

--Light rail is more expensive to build - about $40 million per mile of light rail track vs. $30 million per mile of urban highway - but highways can carry five to ten times more person-miles of travel.

Unfortunately, at least two Republicans on my ballot -- Bill Owens and Bob Briggs -- have supported spending more tax dollars on these wasteful schemes.


Fanshier Stays Active
Rand Fanshier has been one of the most active LP members this election cycle. He sent out the following update via e-mail:

Folks, we met in Golden, Wednesday Oct 30 7pm Buffalo Rose.

In attendance: Steve Gallant, Dave Madison, Rand Fanshier.

For those who were not there, we accomplished three noteworthy things:

1) We packed about 100 "New Vision" brochures with candidate flyers for Ralph, Rick, Adam, Aitken, Denny plus the world's smallest political quiz and full-slate candidate list.

2) We handed out several said packets and spoke to people in the bar about the party and our candidates. Left a bunch of brochures and handouts in the rack there.

3) Discovered Dave Madison, a 30-year veteran libertarian who hasn't done any real outreach his entire time with the party. But what got me was his words, "I feel that the time has come for me to get active." Did I get his contact info? You bet! Did he buy a "Ladies for liberty" calendar? You bet! Did he take a short stack of brochures to hand out? You bet!

Media Notes

School Funding -- Ron Bain wrote a great review of school finance for the October 31 Boulder Weekly, noting that "children go door to door" hocking stuff for school funds "while administrators relax in big leather chairs." Bain notes tax money is redirected to teachers' unions, which then spend most of the funds on political advocacy. One critic wonders why Boulder wants to increase the education budget even as it serves fewer students. Bain cites advocates of "market forces and competition." And he reports George Garcia, a superintendent in Boulder, gets $163,000 every year in tax money. Now that's obscene!

Columbine -- Westword has investigated the murders at Columbine, and the resulting political fallout, thoroughly. A lengthy article written by Alan Prendergast for the October 31-November 6 issue delves into a variety of topics, including Duncan Philp's recent lawsuit against the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. The article relates, "[A] Jeffco sergeant had obtained information about Philp from the state motor vehicle database by telling a DMV official that Philp was under investigation for felony fraud, when there was no such investigation."

Strickland for the State -- The editorial board of the Rocky Mountain News can sometimes get straight to the core of the matter. A November 3 editorial asks, "Can all these votes against additional regulation and increased federal spending really be as awful as Tom Strickland says? Is there any proposed regulation or spending hike that Strickland himself would oppose?" The answer: "Apparently not." Unfortunately, while Allard did vote against a few federal power-grabs, he has utterly failed to defend those votes on any basis of principle. Instead, he is trying to play me-too, as in, "I can vote for more federal intrusions, too!" The irony is that he'd probably win by a wide margin if he had actually stood up and made anything resembling a moral case for freedom.

"Dial 911 and Die" --This from the October 31 Denver Post: "Karri Frazier, 20, was killed about 11:30 a.m., only 45 minutes after she had called Colorado Springs police to report that Keith Warren had violated a restraining order for a second time in 11 days." Neither the restraining order nor the police saved this woman's life.

LP TV -- Ralph Shnelvar and Rick Stanley have earned television coverage across Colorado. 7News ran a short piece about Stanley November 3. Unfortunately, the focus was on how Stanley might affect the outcome of the race, not on Stanley's proposals. About the only thing the story told voters about Stanley is that he doesn't pay income tax. According to Michelle Konieczny, Margaret Denny had an interview on WB2 News the same day. At least the LP is no longer ignored.

Drug War Casualty -- A 14-year-old boy was shot to death in Boulder over a "botched deal for marijuana," the October 28 Denver Post reports. Drug prohibition breeds violence. This boy would not be dead but for the policy of prohibition.

Election Challenge? --Diane Carman notes in her November 3 article for the Denver Post Colorado's election results may result in legal challenges. Carman reviews some of the problems with the polls this year: "duplicate or erroneous absentee ballots in Denver County, Boulder County voter registration forms bearing the wrong addresses, Adams County absentee ballots with the wrong return dates, and others..." This just points to the ultimate arbitrariness of any democratic system.

Voter Registration-- According to the November 1 Rocky Mountain News, 63.2% of those eligible to register to vote did in fact register. But only around half of those registered to vote do vote, and only about half of those support any particular candidate. Thus, our allegedly "democratic" system elects candidates who have support from about 15% of the adult population.

Nature of Capitalism -- George Reisman presents a nice summary of the "benevolent nature of capitalism" at http://www.mises.org/fullstory.asp?control=1079. Reisman relates, "Capitalism is a system of progressively rising real wages, the shortening of hours, and the improvement of working conditions."

Trash the TV -- Linda Seebach reminds us in the November 1 Rocky Mountain News that the average home leaves the TV on 7.5 hours a day. Passivity is both cause and consequence of our Big Brother state.

Permits for Gays -- Kevin Tebedo, one of the supporters of the overturned Amendment 2 initiative intended to block anti-discrimination laws pertaining to gays, lamented, "It would have put a huge roadblock in the way. You would have seen city councils refusing to grant parade permits to homosexual lobbies..." Wow. This guy thinks it's somehow okay to tax gays to pay for the streets but deny them the same access as everybody else. Libertarians advocate individual rights and free markets, not group rights. But libertarian policies would protect individuals of persecuted groups better than any other possible set of policies.

Ballistic Limits -- An AP story printed in the November 2 Rocky Mountain News notes the D.C.-area sniper was recently linked to a September 14 shooting. "Ballistic tests on bullet fragments were inconclusive; the link was based on witness accounts, similarity of circumstances and evidence putting the suspect's vehicle in the area the day of the shooting, said Montgomery County police spokesman Derek Baliles." But how is that possible? Judging from some media accounts, ballistic databases are necessary for any police breakthrough. Comparing ballistics from crime scenes can obviously be helpful to investigators, but it is only one of many tools, and there's no reason to think a database on peaceable gun owners would do anything but waste enforcement resources.

The End of Privacy? -- I was stunned. The Denver Post actually published an article that raised civil rights concerns in connection with disarmament laws. Ron Franscell wrote an outstanding piece for the October 29 paper. He begins, "Imagine this: To make it easier to solve future crimes, the federal government collects every American man, woman, and child's fingerprints, DNA and handwriting and stores them in an enormous national database. Can the government be trusted or might the data be abused?" Well, the answer to that is obvious. Franscell goes on to cite leaders of GOA and others who criticize a ballistic database that tracks peaceable Americans.

Craig Johnson Picks Up Endorsement -- The Rocky Mountain News endorsed a single Libertarian candidate for the state legislature: Craig Johnson in HD 10 (November 3 edition).

No More Prisons -- "Owens seeks rise in prison spending," the front cover of the November 3 Denver Post announces. Owens just doesn't get it. He needs to work to reduce the number of non-violent drug offenders in prison, not build new prisons.

Atheist Scouts -- The November 3 Rocky Mountain News reprinted a New York Times article about the atheist Boy Scout who faces expulsion. The Boy Scouts are unjustly discriminating on the basis of religious beliefs. The Boy Scouts also have the right to run their organization however they please. If they want to require scouts to lick toads once a week for membership, that's their right. Libertarians can simultaneously defend the right of free association and condemn unjust discrimination. Put another way, not everything that is immoral should be illegal.

Who Made WHO? -- The World Health Organization examined "the 20 biggest risks to human health..." (Rocky Mountain News AP reprint, October 31) The conclusion? WHO wants nations to impose regulations to regulate "unhealthy ingredients" in food. But this is insane. The biggest threat to human health and well-being is the massive state. We can begin to reverse this health risk by abolishing WHO and its sponsor, the UN.

NASA Fraud --Both the Post and the News reprinted an AP story October 31 about how NASA "was defrauded dozens of times over the last year." How dare people steal all that money NASA first stole from the taxpayers!

Colorado Values -- Ed Quillen takes a pretty good stab at defining appropriate Colorado values in his October 29 column in the Denver Post: live and let live, tolerate eccentricity, and take care of your own.

Bellesiles -- Even the Denver Post has criticized Michael Bellesiles, the author of Arming America. An October 30 editorial notes the widespread agreement that "some of the data in his book were simply invented." Bellesiles had argued gun ownership in America was less prevalent than previously believed. He was recently forced out of Emory University.

Gun Control -- Mike Soraghan wrote a fair article for the October 30 Denver Post titled, "Prospects for gun control appear dim, experts say." Which means the prospects for real gun control -- the safe and responsible control over one's firearms -- are finally looking better.

Freedom Leechers -- Matthew Nosanchuck of the Violence Policy Center told the Washington Post: "No matter how he [the D.C.-area murderer] got it [his gun], he didn't get it legally" (Denver Post, October 27). Of course, for Nosanchuck, the fact that existing disarmament laws failed to stop the crime somehow demonstrates the need for more disarmament laws. And this is why the march to confiscation is a genuine threat. This disarmament position is analogous to the argument, "Leeching your blood didn't make you better, therefore we need to leech more of your blood."

Olsen Earns Attention -- Norm Olsen, the Libertarian candidate running for Congress against Mark Udall, was featured in an October 27 story in the Denver Post titled, "For third parties, message matters: Hopefuls say they can alter politics." Olsen also wrote a letter to the Post that appears in the same issue, in which he states, "Minor-party candidates and their ideas do not get any media attention because they are not celebrities." Sue O'Brien helps prove Olsen wrong by adding an article the same day that quotes three Libertarians: Biff Baker, John Lappart, and Gaar Potter. Baker argues he is the "most highly educated and qualified candidate." Potter says, "I for one congratulate the Post and News for the amount of coverage they've given minor-party candidates this year."

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com