Freedom Updates: November 21, 2002
All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
Miscarriage of Justice
In a November 21 Westword article, David Holthouse tells the story of Naim Amini, who has spent two years in prison on flim-flam charges of sexual assault. Unless his conviction is overturned, Amini will not be eligible for parole until April 13, 2005. The complete article is available at http://westword.com/issues/2002-11-21/feature.html/1/index.html. Here are a few of the highlights.
News Reviews Golyansky Case
After hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on the case by both sides, the charges were dropped against Golyansky's brother and cousin, and Golyansky pled to a trivial misdemeanor. The sentence: a single day's probation. There are so many ambiguous gun laws on the books, I am convinced the ATF could find some technical violation for absolutely ever gun seller in the United States. As part of the agreement, the Golyanskys had to surrender their FFL and can no longer sell firearms as licensed dealers.
Abbott writes, "Defense attorney Stephen Peters said the three were wrongly charged for improper political reasons and that a jury would have exonerated them if they had gone to trial... Republicans accused then-U.S. Attorney Tom Strickland, a Democrat, of filing it for political reasons." Sitting U.S. attorney Suthers said, "I had all kinds of Republicans calling me saying, 'This is a vendetta.' ...It's certainly not a perfect case... You've got to rely on hard-core criminals as witnesses. The girlfriends of hard-core criminals are not exactly spectacular witnesses either... And we knew defense counsel were going to argue the complexities of the federal regulations and, frankly, probably, to the layman, gather some sympathy there..." However, Suthers hedged and refused to criticize the case further. ATF agents had attempted to set up the Golyanskys but failed to do so.
Tancredo and "Emotional Fragility"
Apparently invigorated by the recent attention he earned by stirring up anti-Mexican xenophobia, Tom Tancredo is now going after homosexuals. According to the November 20 Rocky Mountain News, Tancredo (along with Bob Schaffer and seven other congressmen) asked Bush to ask the Big Brothers organization to drop its anti-discrimination rule regarding homosexual mentors. The problem, describes the News, is that a "national anti-discrimination rule forces local Big Brothers and Big Sisters affiliates to accept gay and lesbian mentors, without giving parents a say."
But surely this description is faulty. Can Big Brothers force a parent to hand over his or her child? Of course not. If parents don't like the program, they don't have to utilize it. And weren't conservatives just arguing that the Boy Scouts can properly set rules for its organization? Internal policies set by a private group cannot sensibly be referred to as "force."
Apparently, Tancredo and his cohorts would rather have children run wild in the streets than (gasp!) hang out with homosexuals. Tancredo is worried about creating a "risky situation" by putting a homosexual mentor with a child of the same gender. That's pure prejudice. The negative influence that most endangers our children is that of power-hungry politicians. (We might replace Tancredo's line, "Many of these kids are emotionally fragile and desperate for the attention and affirmation from an adult of their own gender," with, "Many of these interns are emotionally fragile and desperate for the attention and affirmation from an office holder of their own party.")
A reasonable suggestion would be to ask Big Brothers to avoid accepting sick, deranged predators as mentors. But the group already does that: "Each potential Big is screened, trained, and supervised to help ensure that the relationship will be safe and rewarding for everyone involved."
Big Brothers has been around since 1910. It would be interesting to go through the group's history and see if anybody ever complained about inter-racial mentoring.
Drug War Czar
These failed initiatives represent the high water mark of the drug legalization movement. Common sense has prevailed, and from now on, the tide turns our way-the way of dedicated Americans working to protect their children and their communities from the dangers of drugs. Despite the millions of dollars spent by a super-wealthy few to influence voters in these states, today's results affirm what most Americans already know: That no family, no community, no state is better off with more drug use. Despite being outspent by as much as 25 to one, voters refused to have their voices drowned out by those who are indifferent to the harms that drug use brings. We will continue to support the tireless work of parents, teachers, treatment providers, prevention advocates, law enforcement officials, and the millions of other citizens working to make our nation's drug problem smaller.
Walters is either deceitful and heartless or else completely ignorant of the impacts of prohibition. The "dangers of drugs" are created almost entirely by prohibition, which perpetuates a violent black market, makes drugs more potent and dangerous, and sends addicts to prison rather than treatment. The only way to "make our nation's drug problem smaller" is to repeal prohibition and treat drug abuse as a medical and social problem, not a criminal one.
L. Neil Smith Praises LP
Of course we got the obligatory leftist response that the show "degrades women" (Rocky Mountain News, November 21, page 50A). I don't see how. The models went to a lot of work to be selected, and they were handsomely paid. I guess the problem is that a lot of guys may have been more interested in what the clothes revealed than in the clothes themselves. But guys can view women as sexy without thinking of them as "sex objects." And it is women, after all, who comprise nearly the entire customer base of the company.
The show was almost a self-parody. One guy interviewed said the Victoria's Secret catalog gave him the courage to demand his old job back. And a younger male claimed the catalog "helps me with my homework." I'm not sure what the kid is "studying," but perhaps the endorphins did something.
I heard reports that a few protesters actually rushed the stage at one point on behalf of animal rights, though of course this segment wasn't broadcast (which is too bad, as it certainly would have been the most exciting part of the show).
So take that, you French! I guess America is finally leaving behind her puritanical dispositions.
Truly I thank the Angels that I live in America. Compare the American handling of Victoria's Secret with the following events in Nigeria:
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- Angry mobs stabbed and set fire to bystanders Thursday in rioting that erupted after a newspaper suggested Islam's founding prophet would have approved of the Miss World beauty pageant. At least 50 people were killed and 200 injured. The violent demonstrators in the northern city of Kaduna burned churches and rampaged through the streets until hundreds of soldiers were deployed to restore calm and enforce a dusk-to-dawn curfew... Street demonstrations began Wednesday with the burning of an office of ThisDay newspaper in Kaduna after it published an article questioning Muslim groups that have condemned the Miss World pageant, to be held Dec. 7 in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Muslim groups say the pageant promotes sexual promiscuity and indecency. "What would (the prophet) Muhammad think? In all honesty, he would probably have chosen a wife from among them (the contestants)," Isioma Daniel wrote in Saturday's article. The newspaper ran a brief front-page apology on Monday, followed by a more lengthy retraction on Thursday, saying the offending passage had run by mistake. (Glenn McKenzie, November 21 AP)
I'll take the crass commercialization of sex any day over murderous religious zealots.
Reply to Cacioppo
Michael Cacioppo writes, "The Shnelvar factor was a waste of time. Ralph seems like a nice fellow, but the libertarian idea of legal pot for fun in our lifetime is not a pressing matter among voters. I seriously doubt that pot smoking voters even know when election day is. Supporting this nonsense is a negative for the Libertarian Party."
Boulder Freedom Weekly
Prior to the election, the Weekly published the article, "Cops for Strickland-Oink, Oink." It begins, "The police broke the law-by violating the First Amendment rights of peaceful citizens-in order to be good Democrats, and to stand behind cowboy drug-war prosecutor Tom Strickland..." A supporter of Allard was arrested at one of Strickland's events.
In the November 14-21 edition of the Weekly, Bain wrote about Milton Friedman's recent trip to Denver and the prospects for vouchers in Colorado. Laugesen wrote about the Free State Project and suggested Wyoming might be a good bet. He said the FSP could "repeal state taxes and wasteful state government programs; end grants and collaboration between state and federal law enforcement; repeal all state gun control and drug prohibition; end asset forfeiture and abuses of eminent domain; [and] privatize utilities and untwist big business monopolies."
The November 21-27 edition is a great issue. It included a letter and three excellent articles of interest to libertarians.
John Kaluza responded to the article about the Free State Project: "When I look at a typical Libertarian, I see a Republican who smokes dope. But for that difference alone I would much rather be governed by a Libertarian than a Republican." However, the "typical libertarian" who opposes drug prohibition doesn't take illegal drugs. Kaluza wondered, "Who knows, maybe in our lifetimes a Libertarian utopia will emerge in Wyoming, and Cheyenne will become the new Amsterdam with cannabis shops and hookers displaying their wares behind shop windows and free-spirited folk eagerly chasing the almighty dollar, all packin' heat." But this comment misses the point. Libertarianism isn't about "chasing the almighty dollar," it is about creating a free society in which individuals are free to pursue whatever goals they see fit. An unfettered market economy would tend to produce more wealth at lower cost, thereby enhancing the lives of the residents. But the most significant values of freedom are spiritual in nature.
Stewart Sallo laments the "greed" of corporations like King Soopers that are starting to charge the Boulder Weekly for giving away copies at their locations. I do agree charging free publications is a pretty lame move by King Soopers. But is the Weekly really any less "greedy?" Does Sallo get paid for writing his articles? Does the paper charge other business to run ads, even if it's to give stuff away? As Sallo himself notes, the Weekly is now creating a "media center" at the Boulder Co-op Market. Capitalism at its best! The Weekly benefits, the co-op benefits, and the readers benefit.
Laugesen describes how the quasi-merger between the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News led to an end of street "hawking" of the papers. So now the Boulder Weekly is giving away papers to homeless and eccentric people who can then hand out papers for tips. But the nefarious "Boulder City Council will consider an ordinance that would forbid the activity by making it unlawful to stand on street medians."
Pamela White writes of a woman who died in prison from a drug overdose. An autopsy suggests the woman swallowed a balloon full of heroin, which then burst. Apparently she "obtained the drug from a source within the prison." White cites critics of the drug war who note its enormous cost. Christie Donner of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition makes some common-sense observations: "Prison is not a therapeutic environment... If we assumed prisons were a drug-free environment -- which they obviously are not... -- forced abstinence is not the same thing as recovery." Donner also points out the woman would probably still be alive if she'd been treated as a patient rather than as a criminal.
Denny Thanks Activists
A release from Denny's campaign stated, "The Denny campaign would also like to thank all of the citizens in Arapahoe County that supported Margaret with their votes. We share their concern about the state of affairs in the Clerk & Recorder's office, and we will continue to keep a close eye on the developments of Mr. Baker's investigation by the District Attorney's office. The campaign would also like to thank the editors at the Denver Post, and the Aurora Sentinel, as well as former Douglas County Chief Deputy Clerk & Recorder Ms. Kathleen Conway for their endorsements of Margaret's candidacy - your support was truly appreciated."
Caldara Gets Tough-- In his November 10 column in the Daily Camera, Jon Caldara laid out his plans for the Republican legislature. Here's what he says Republicans should accomplish in the coming couple years: vouchers, right to work, protection from local property takings, bus and jitney deregulation and HOT lanes, health insurance freed from mandates, and concealed carry. That's a pretty good list: we'll see soon enough whether the Republicans have the cajones to deliver.
Post vs 1984-- An editorial in the November 21 Denver Post begins, "Respecters of civil liberties are appropriately alarmed [about] the Pentagon's new Office of Information Awareness," and concludes, "We shouldn't let fear of terrorism strip us of our freedoms."
Gurley Earns Respect-- Mike Wiggins wrote a November 6 story for the Daily Sentinel about the Mesa County Sheriff's race. Stan Hilkey, the Republican who won, said of his opponent Libertarian John Gurley: "He is a decent guy. I appreciate everything he did. I think he's a hard worker who worked hard on his campaign. But I think it came down to experience, and I think people are happy with the Mesa County Sheriff's Department."
TABOR-- National Review posted a November 4 article about Douglas Bruce and TABOR. It stated, "During the 1990s conservatives and libertarians won some of their most impressive victories at the state level... [such as] the Colorado Taxpayers Bill of Rights... TABOR possesses two features which have generated a great deal of tax relief for Colorado residents during the past decade. First, TABOR places a tight cap on all state expenditures, limiting increases in per capita state expenditures to the inflation rate. Second, it mandates immediate refunds of all surplus revenues." To celebrate TABOR's 10th birthday, the Denver Post published a lengthy article about it by Aldo Svaldi. "The idea was to constrain the growth of state and local government in line with the growth of the private economy," economist Barry Poulson said. And that's a pretty good start. Thanks, Doug!
Young Libertarians-- The Washington Post published an important article about youth demographics October 20 by Amy Goldstein and Richard Morin. The article notes younger people tend not to vote, and they are "more conservative in many of their views of government, more tolerant in many of their social values." I.e., many young people are basically libertarians.
Americans Favor RKBA-- An October 25 story from Fox begins, "Few Americans think tougher gun laws could make a difference in situations like the sniper attacks in the area around Washington D.C... Only 14 percent say tougher gun laws can stop acts like the sniper shootings from happening." Moreover, most Americans saw media coverage of the murders as "sensationalized."
Stanley-- Rick Stanley, the former member of the LP and former LP candidate for U.S. Senate, sent a letter published by the November 16 Rocky Mountain News. He blasted "government outside the boundaries of what America stands for: the U.S. Constitution." So far, so good. But then he added, "The media and the Libertarian Party used dishonest character assassination techniques to destroy my campaign." Stanley has consistently blamed other people for his own shortcomings. The November 8 Rocky Mountain News referred to Stanley as a "wild extremist," prompting his letter.
LP Ticket-- Mike Rosen argued voters should vote party line -- preferably Republican. Gary Halpin replied November 6: "That's why I voted straight Libertarian. Thanks for the advice, Mike!"
Gorman Was Right-- Some were skeptical of some of Ken Gorman's claims concerning the benefits of marijuana. But Robert Melamede, chair of the biology department at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, wrote a letter for the November 8 Rocky Mountain News stating cannabinoids "help to maintain the healthful homeostasis of our immune, nervous, endocrine, reproductive, digestive, excretory and cardiovascular systems via specific cannabis receptors. Our bodies all make psychoactive, cannabis-like compounds to fit into these receptors. In addition, the cannabinoids have antiglicoma, breast cancer and prostate cancer activities. Evolution has selected the cannabinoids as natural inhibitors of peripheral pain and regulators of appetite and body temperature."
Photo Radar-- Stuart Barr is a libertarian attorney who fought Denver's photo-radar program in court and won. "The Colorado Supreme Court Monday refused to hear the city's appeal of a lower court ruling dismissing four photo-radar tickets," the November 5 Rocky Mountain News reports.
Taxing Culture-- In the November 10 Denver Post, Barry Poulson offers an excellent analysis of the flaws in a study claiming tax subsidies for Denver arts benefits the city by bringing in tourist dollars. Poulson points out the arts need not be dependent on tax dollars. The moral case, though, is simply that it's wrong to force people to pay for art they find offensive or worthless.
Ban Vanilla! There's a new menace threatening our children: vanilla. An article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reprinted in the November 14 Rocky Mountain News reports, "Because the pure [vanilla] extract is at least 35 percent alcohol by volume, it is the equivalent of a 70-proof liquor." It is "used by middle school students and others who like it for more than its sweet aroma." Will state legislators do their duty to protect the public by restricting access to vanilla? Better yet, ban it! Do it for the children! After all, nobody really NEEDS vanilla. If it would save just one life, isn't it worth it?
LP's Glass Half Full-- "Once again, [we] showed that voter dissatisfaction with the Democrats and Republicans continues to grow," LP chair John Berntson was quoted in a November 7 story in the Rocky Mountain News. Plus, Sheriff Bill Masters and Coroner Bob Dempsey were elected as Libertarians in San Miguel County. Masters made the light-hearted comment: "To say I'm the highest-ranking Libertarian, well, higher than what? What does that mean?" It means a lot to those of us who cherish freedom, sheriff. The November 6 Denver Post also ran a story about third parties, and it also mentioned Masters and quoted James Vance and Mike Seebeck: "But you've got to remember that Jesse Ventura won Minnesota with a bunch of wasted votes." Colorado Public Radio also discussed Berntson's views November 7.
Education-Deficit Disorder-- The November 11 Rocky Mountain News ran a Gannet story about ADD (/ADHD). It begins with a story of an elementary student who was doped up on Ritalin by his "school." The boy developed heart problems because of the drug. The boy's mother points out practically any child could be "diagnosed" with ADD. But one psychiatrist said, "I don't see a big problem with schools forcing parents to put their children on medications." Lisa Snell wrote an excellent article for the December edition of Reason Magazine pointing out the "attention" problems of students are really often the education problems of schools.