Steve G.

Posts Tagged ‘Constitutional Rights’

WE MUST AMEND THE CONSTITUTION IMMEDIATELY OR AMERICA IS DOOMED… DOOMED, I TELL YOU, DOOMED!

In Civil Liberties, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Democracy, History, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Minorities, Politics, Protest, US Government on April 6, 2009 at 8:42 pm

We need to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage because people getting married to show their love of each other is an abomination… and because the idea of two guys or two ugly chicks making out with each other is just gross… and we can’t stop thinking about what it would be like to try it! We need to amend the Constitution to ban the burning of the American flag except by the Boy Scouts… and anyone who wants to dispose of a flag the way it is supposed to be disposed of, never mind that you can’t make people respect a symbol by passing laws which order them to We need to amend the Constitution to ban abortion because the wealthy can ALWAYS find doctors to take care of THEIR wives, mistresses and daughters! We need to amend the Constitution to allow school prayer and the reading of the Bible in school even though Jesus said “Do not practice your piety in public.”! We need to amend the Constitution to permit the use of the word ‘God‘ in the Pledge of Allegiance and the national motto because if WE are going to suck up to him, we damn sure want everyone else to be required to, also! We need to amend the Constitution and we have to amend it NOW, because the sky is falling on our heads… AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

For all of the ideologues who think that amending the Constitution is the appropriate way to enshrine their particular prejudices and passions, I want to ask you a question. Very simply, “Have you ever actually read The Constitution?

The Constitution is a relatively simply document. Its length is only 4543 words, which isn’t all that much longer than this article. One key thing that is important about the Constitution is not what it says, but what it does NOT say. The Constitution does NOT say anything about social rules or the moral conduct of ‘we the people’ of The United States. The Constitution is an owner’s manual of how to operate our government. It does not tell its citizens how to live their lives. In fact, with the exception of our disastrous foray into social policy with the 18th Amendment, which gave us both prohibition AND well financed organized crime, there is nothing in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or any subsequent amendment which deals with dictating social or moral behaviors or beliefs to the American people.

Nowhere in the Constitution is a single word which even speaks to specific imposed restrictions on the rights of the citizens, unless you count treason, insurrection, piracy, counterfeiting, malfeasance in office or other such defined crimes as rights which are denied to ‘we the people’. It doesn’t even speak to obligations of ‘we the people’ TO the government, though it does speak of obligations which the government has to ‘we the people’. In fact, other than talking about issues such as voting, or rights before the courts, the Constitution itself barely even deals with individual citizens.

The Constitution itself does not say anything about WHEN, WHY, or FOR WHAT REASONS it should be amended. THOSE questions are left up to the citizens and the legislators of The United States to answer. Article V of The Constitution, in its entirety, says:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

Thus, whenever someone raises the issue of amending the Constitution, the first question that should be asked is: “Is the issue itself appropriate for inclusion?

Amending The Constitution is, and was intended by the framers of The Constitution to be, a VERY difficult and VERY time consuming process. It is not supposed to be something that happens very often or for trivial reasons. To see how meaningless a constitution becomes when it can be easily and frequently amended one need only look at the state constitutions of either Texas (amended at least 632 times in 136 years [although Texas voters subsequently rejected at least 176 of them after our legislature passed them]) or Alabama (at 357,157 words it is about 40 times longer than the US Constitution and even three times longer than the longest national constitution of any sovereign nation in the world India, whose constitution has 444 articles, 12 schedules and 94 amendments, with a total of 117,369 words and is, unbelievably, an even worse document than the state constitution of Texas, which has been amended at least 798 times the last amendment was #799, but even the Alabama legislature couldn’t even keep track of how many there were and Amendment #693 doesn’t even exist in 108 years most of those amendments affecting only single individual counties or even cities, or regulate such minutiae at the salary as the Greene County Probate Judge).

Amendments to state constitutions, such as the one now being called for in Iowa by those scared to death by the idea of two people of the same sex even holding hands, often also seem to ignore the fact that the US Constitution takes precedence over them and has this little thing known as Article IV which includes such provisions as the Full Faith and Credit Clause (Section 1: “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.) and the Privileges and Immunities Clause (Section 2: “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”).

As difficult as it is to amend the US Constitution, it is therefore necessary and proper for both the Legislative and the Judicial branches to interpret and even expand on the meanings of both The Constitution AND of its 27 amendments. Please note, however, that while the very names of those two branches tells us of THEIR roles in that process (to ‘legislate’ and to ‘adjudicate’), no such power is given to the Executive branch, whose task is to ‘execute’ the laws and provisions of The Constitution and the other two branches. This was yet another aspect of our Constitutional government which was not understood by King George (Bush) II or his cronies in crime. Many people who want to use legislation (either federal or state) to counter or go around provisions of The Constitution, however, also show their ignorance of the document as Article VI specifically states that “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Constitution of the United States was not conceived or written to tell ‘we the people’ how to live their personal lives or even to place burdens on them towards their Society or their government. It does, however, tell the government how to operate and imposes obligations on it towards ‘we the people’. The Constitution is not a downward directed document, written on the mountain and handed down to ‘we the people’ by a supreme being who must be obeyed. The Constitution was not written by the government to ‘we the people’. The Constitution was, instead, written by ‘we the people’ to tell their government what limits and restrictions are placed upon IT, and what powers and authority are granted to it by the citizens who agreed to be governed by it. I wish people would realize that when they think about using The Constitution for shaping American society according to their own preferences or to try to tell people how to live or what morals they should adopt based on their own prejudices, bigotries and beliefs.

So, if The Constitution focuses on the operation of our government rather than on the behaviors of its citizens, where does the whole debate about our rights originate? The framers of The Constitution believed in ‘natural rights’, the idea that people, by their very nature, HAVE (not ‘are given’, but by birth ‘have’) certain rights which precede the establishment of any government. When The Constitution was written, there was a huge debate about even listing the rights of the citizens of The United States because some feared that the very fact that some rights were enumerated within The Constitution would mean that there would be those who would later argue that rights which were NOT enumerated in The Constitution were not ones which the citizens would have. In Federalist #84, Alexander Hamilton asks “Why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?” and writes that a “bill of rights is not only unnecessary but even dangerous” for that very reason. James Madison told Thomas Jefferson that “I conceive that in a certain degree … the rights in question are reserved by the manner in which the federal powers are granted. The fear of many was the very idea that enumerating ANY rights within The Constitution be interpreted by any moron as meaning that citizens only had rights BECAUSE of The Constitution. The very intention of the framers was to emphasis that the entire purpose of creating The United States was to protect the rights of the citizens and that the very idea that rights had to be ‘givenTO ‘we the people’ was monarchical and anathema to everything they believed in and stood for. Connecticut’s Roger Sherman, in his own proposed draft of a Bill of Rights says that “The people have certain natural rights which are retained by them when they enter into Society.

Much of the concept of natural rights which the framers believed in came from John Locke, the great philosopher and theorist of natural rights. He believed that the primary justification for even founding any government was specifically to make those rights more secure than they would be in a state of nature (a Society with NO government). Thus, the very reason to join together IN a governed Society is to provide ‘we the people’ protection of those rights by being part of a collective, governed Society which is not present in a lawless Society, in which the strong are able to prey on the weak and take those rights away from ‘we the people’. This is where the framers showed their true genius and foresight by giving us the 9th and 10th Amendments to The Constitution, the “if we forgot something, it’s covered, also” amendments.

The 9th Amendment, in its entirety, states that:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The 10th Amendment, in its entirety, says that:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

These are both very interesting Amendments. The 10th is usually used to support arguments which advocate State’s Right’s against federal power by people without an awareness that States do not have rights, only powers (as specified in the literal wording of the Amendment), and that those powers are granted by the citizens. It is usually ignored that the 10th tells us that, in addition to having rights, as provided for in the 9th, ‘we the people’ ALSO have power. By the very wording of The Constitution, our government only has certain powers and authorities (specifically spelled out within The Constitution), while ‘we the people’ have rights IN ADDITION to powers and authorities. While there has been a lot of talk about the 10th Amendment, especially since the end of Reconstruction in The South, and since the movement towards recognizing the civil rights of ALL citizens in the 40s and 50s, the 9th may very well be the most ignored part of the entire Constitution. There even seems to be more case law that is based on the 11th Amendment (“The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.”), which was passed in response to one single Supreme Court case in 1793 (Chisholm v. Georgia), than there has been based on the 9th. Most of the court cases which would seem to be obvious ones about the retained rights and powers of the citizens under the 9th and 10th Amendments, such as Roe v. Wade, typically hinge on arguments which use the provisions of the Section 1 clauses of the 14th Amendments regarding Due Process and/or Privileges and Immunities (“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”) as their foundations.

Why IS the 9th Amendment so rarely raised, utilized or argued in American Courts? I think it is, very simply and fundamentally, because both the courts and our government are afraid of it. If we followed the literal provisions of the 9th Amendment, both the courts and our entire government would have MUCH less power over the citizens than they would like. If we observed the provisions of the 9th Amendment, the citizens would never have the burden to prove that they have certain or specific rights, the government and the courts would have the burden to prove that they DON’T. The party on whom the burden of proof rests has an MUCH more difficult case to make than the one which has the presumption of being correct or innocent. No government in history has ever wanted to bear that burden when they are challenging their own citizens, and courts are a function of government. Into this fray go those who advocate that The Constitution favors the government over the governed. One of the most prominent advocates of reading The Constitution as only protecting enumerated rights was Judge Robert Bork and his famous ‘inkblot’ interpretation of the 9th Amendment. About the beliefs held by Judge Bork and those who interpret The Constitution using the same flawed concept of ‘originalism’ which he uses, that the only rights belonging to the citizens are those which are specifically spelled out in The Constitution and that any other ‘discovered’ rights are illegitimately ‘created’ by the courts, The Oxford Companion to The Supreme Court of the United States says:

Yet this skeptical view of unenumerated rights would have the practical effect of converting the original scheme of limited [and] defined powers [of the government] in a sea of individual rights into a scheme of limited enumerated rights in a sea of [unlimited] government powers.”

I would also ask those who advocate such positions as Judge Bork’s for his ‘original intent’ interpretation of The Constitution, “Why do you think that the framers of The Constitution destroyed all of their notes and minutes from the entire Constitutional Convention if not to keep those who followed them from relying on their intent and, thus, giving us the freedom to make this country what we want it to be and to be able to adapt it to the changing needs of Society? While I have my own beliefs about requiring legislators to specify the goals and objectives for any legislation that they create (in order to make it easier for us to get rid of that legislation later), I can find no fault with the wisdom of the founders to deny us the knowledge of their ‘original’ intentions.

Anthony de Jasay, a Hungarian-born libertarian anarchist philosopher and economist who is best known for his writings against ‘the state’, talks about using a ‘Presumption of Liberty’ concept of natural rights. De Jasay argues that “liberty should be presumed, not because we have a “right” to it, or because it is the most important value or goal, but because it follows from the requirements of epistemology and logic. In other words, instead of appealing to a person’s preference for liberty, logic dictates that liberty should be presumed. The critical rationalist and philosopher of science, Gerard Radnitzky, was so impressed with de Jasay’s case for the presumption of liberty that he stated that “for the first time the political philosophy of libertarianism and of classical liberalism has gotten a solid base in logic and epistemology.


There is much to be considered by anyone who would advocate amending The Constitution with a goal of enshrining bigotry or prejudice within it, or of using it to take away rights from our citizens. To do so would be against every idea upon which The United States was created. I personally think that there should be (at least) four levels of rights and powers which should be considered by anyone who thinks they should have the right to tell everyone else what freedoms they do and do not have. They are, in order from highest to lowest:

1.) Rights that are retained by the people;

2.) Rights that are voluntarily surrendered by the people to the government;

3.) Rights that are suppressed by the people in our ‘voluntary’ association in a governed Society; and

4.) Rights that are repudiated by the people through the granting of certain powers and authority to the government.

Governments may have power, but only people have rights, and it is simply wrong for anyone to try to use our Constitutions to try to take away ANY of those rights. That is a ‘right’ which I do not believe anyone of ‘we the people’ ever gave away to anyone else.


As always, I want to acknowledge books and the Internet for giving me invaluable assistance in being able to use my mind and to write articles such as this. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Special thanks must be given, as is common for my constitutional articles, to The Oxford Companion to The Supreme Court of The United States (second edition), edited by Kermit L. Hall.


Rhys M. Blavier

Romayor, Texas

Truth, Justice and Honor… But Above All, Honor

© copyright 2008 by Rhys M. Blavier

Bob Barr on privacy

In Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Media, Politics on October 1, 2008 at 9:35 pm

Posted at Bob Barr blog

Bob goes into how our liberties have been put at stake by the Bush Administration and Congress, under both Republicans and Democrats. He blasts the recent FISA law and say, “When government grows so large that it knows virtually everything a person is doing, then you have no freedom.”

Scotty Boman, Michigan Libertarian for U.S. Senate puts out new video

In Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Politics on October 1, 2008 at 9:23 pm

H/T IPR

Technically legal signs for libraries

In Activism, Big Brother, Censorship, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, First Amendment, Human Rights Abuses, Law Enforcement, Police State, Protest, Terrorism on July 27, 2008 at 1:57 am

From librarian.net

Starchild instrumental in putting prostitution decriminalization on the ballot

In Activism, Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Economics, Entertainment, First Amendment, Law, Law Enforcement, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Local Politics, Nanny State, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Police State, Politics on July 19, 2008 at 4:11 pm

Press release posted on the LP Radicals yahoo group. Starchild has had various offices in the San Francisco and California LP, and is one of the spokespeople for this initiative.

The San Francisco Department of Elections announced today that the measure prohibiting city officials from spending money arresting and prosecuting people for prostitution, and mandating equal legal protection for sex workers, has qualified for the November ballot. Of 500 signatures randomly sampled and checked by department personnel, 80 percent were found to be valid. “This is a happy day for San Franciscans who want government to focus on fighting real crimes like homicides and robberies, and are tired of seeing resources wasted in a futile effort to police consensual sex between adults,” said Starchild, a sex worker activist and spokesperson for the campaign. “We’ve cleared the first hurdle.” By the Elections Department’s tally, supporters had turned in 12,745 signatures of registered San Francisco voters on July 7.

The campaign to decriminalize prostitution will hold a kickoff rally and press conference to formally announce the results on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in front of the Polk Street entrance of City Hall, with
speakers to likely include Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who was a signer of the petition to put the measure on the ballot along with two of his board colleagues. “It is way past time that the
recommendations of the Board of Supervisors 1996 Prostitution Task Force were implemented,” said the measure’s proponent, Maxine Doogan. “Criminalizing sex workers has been putting workers at risk of violence and discrimination for far too long.”

The prostitution reform measure joins two other voter-submitted measures on the local Nov. 4 ballot, along with eight measures put on the ballot by the mayor or members of the Board of Supervisors, with many others expected to be added in the next several weeks.

Starchild – (415) 621-7932 / (415) 368-8657 / RealReform@…
Maxine Doogan – (415) 265-3302 / MistressMax@…

Libertarians for Obama

In Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights on June 28, 2008 at 7:57 pm

Libertarians For Obama (not the same as libertariansforobama.com) argues, among other things, that Barack Obama is more libertarian than Bob Barr. Here are a couple of excerpts from their site:

From Five Reasons This Libertarian Prefers Barack Obama Over Bob Barr:

1. Obama is consistent. I believe Barr when he says that he’s against the war, but Barr voted for the war in 2002, and continued to support it for several years, even when it became clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that the Iraqis didn’t consider the war a “liberation.” As far as I can tell, Barr didn’t start denouncing the war until earlier this year (if there’s an earlier citation of him speaking out against the war, please let me know). He’s also switched positions on the Patriot Act, war on drugs, gay marriage and several other issues. This change of heart would be easier to accept if it hadn’t come less than two years before Barr launched his presidential campaign. Obama has always been against the war and the Patriot Act.

From More Wayne Allyn Root Nuttiness:

And please check out this great Las Vegas Sun profile, in which Root shares his opinions on kids who are bullied (“You get bullied day and night if you’re weak.” – I am not taking this out of context. Root really does appear to look down on kids who are bullied), takes a seemingly un-libertarian position on campaign contributions (calling them “bribes”), insinuates that Barack Obama did not graduate from college (there are records confirming that he did) and insults New Orleans hurricane victims for good measure (“Their mouths were open and their hands were out and they were praying for Mama Bird to throw something in there.”)

US Supreme Court upholds right to possess and carry a gun

In Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Law, Libertarian, Second Amendment on June 26, 2008 at 8:13 pm

From ScotusBlog:

The opinion can be downloaded here. Relevant quotes from the majority opinion can be found here, and a replay of our LiveBlog can be found here. Tom’s commentary is here.

Answering a 217-year old constitutional question, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to have a gun, at least in one’s home. The Court, splitting 5-4, struck down a District of Columbia ban on handgun possession. Although times have changed since 1791, Justice Antonin Scalia said for the majority, “it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.”

Examining the words of the Amendment, the Court concluded “we find they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weaons in case of confrontation” — in other words, for self-defense. “The inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right,” it added.

The individual right interpretation, the Court said, “is strongly confirmed by the historical background of the Second Amendment,” going back to 17th Century England, as well as by gun rights laws in the states before and immediately after the Amendment was put into the U.S. Constitution.

What Congress did in drafting the Amendment, the Court said, was “to codify a pre-existing right, rather than to fashion a new one.”

Justice Scalia’s opinion stressed that the Court was not casting doubt on long-standing bans on carrying a concealed gun or on gun possession by felons or the mentally retarded, on laws barring guns from schools or government buildings, and laws putting conditions on gun sales.

Read the rest of this article on ScotusBlog.

Present Your Papers, Comrade!

In Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Libertarian on June 20, 2008 at 11:34 am

One of the old-fashioned expectations that most Americans had was absolute freedom of movement within the country, without government checkpoints, “paper checks,” or other such nonsense.

Alas, in the era of the New Security State, the “internal passport” once mocked by Americans as a Soviet abomination is becoming a reality for numerous Americans.

For example, if you fly domestically, you used to be able to fly without presenting a government-approved form of ID — albeit with the caveat that you’d be subjected to “more extensive searches.” That option ends this Saturday, when a government-issued REAL ID-style driver’s license or other “official ID” will be required to travel domestically by air.

That’s right — without your government-issued mandatory ID (which often involves the taking of fingerprints, as in Texas, and may soon require biometric information as well), you may not travel long distances domestically.

Lest some Ron Paul states’ “rights” advocates step in, it’s important to note that local government is getting even more draconian than the feds. In numerous cities across the country, including theoretically federally-administered Washington DC, entire neighborhoods are being closed up and blocked — with all traffic being directed through a central checkpoint. Individuals must present a form of ID to “prove” they “belong” there, and their entry and exit is left to the sole discretion of the police. Don’t have your “papers?” You’re not getting in (or out).

These situations beg a few questions to be asked of the security statists:

1) The federal government has instituted a massive, draconian entry and exit requirement for all foreign nationals, requiring photographs and fingerprints to be taken at entry. These new requirements, we’re told, “keep us safe from terrorists and criminals.” So if no terrorists or criminals may enter the country due to this incredible system, why are individuals *already in the USA* subject to these internal passport controls? Didn’t the magical draconian border controls already shut all dangerous people out of the United States?

2) How does an ID check “enhance security?” If one has a piece of plastic with a name and photo on it, how does that ensure that he/she isn’t going to attempt violent behavior? Conversely, who are individuals who value their privacy in terms of movement and activities suddenly “suspicious?”

3) Why should we trust local, state or federal government to protect our privacy rights, when you’re already using these internal passports to violate our constitutional right to freedom of movement between states — not to mention our Fourth Amendment rights to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures? What form of “probable cause” can be invoked to shut off entire sections of a city, or the country, unless an individual undergoes a draconian search and interrogation?

Barr vs. Paul On The Issues: Barr Comes Out Ahead

In Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Personal Responsibility, Politics on June 16, 2008 at 4:29 am

After reading a great hue and cry about my comments supporting our Party’s ticket in 2008, many people compared Bob Barr unfavorably to other Libertarians (as well as Ron Paul) on a whole host of issues, including DOMA and immigration.  So let’s look at the individual candidates and see who is closer, today, to the Libertarian Party platform on two issues often invoked by self-described “principled purists” when attacking the Libertarian nominee.

Immigration

The LP platform says that “Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders.”  Where do Bob Barr and Ron Paul stand on this?

Barr says that “we must be aggressive in securing our borders while at the same time, vigilantly fighting the nanny state that seeks to coddle even those capable of providing for their own personal prosperity.”  He proposes an approach identical to the LP platform — maintaining control over the borders to allow peaceful people in, while denying entry to criminals.

Ron Paul, in contrast, favors the imposition of visas, including demanding that federal bureaucrats “track visa holders and deport anyone who overstays their visa.”  He also complains that open borders will “allow up to 60 million more immigrants into our country, according to the [arch-conservative] Heritage Foundation.  This is insanity.”  He advocates an end to citizenship by birth, a concept of American law since the beginning of the Republic.  He also ran one of the most anti-immigrant television advertisements in the Republican primary.

Most Libertarian candidate of the two on immigration: Bob Barr.

The Defense of Marriage Act, Marriage Equality, and Sexual Freedom

Bob Barr co-sponsored and authored the Defense of Marriage Act.  Ron Paul supports DOMA and declares that he would vote for it in its entirety.

The Libertarian Party platform says that “Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the rights of individuals by government, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships.”

Barr has advocated a repeal of the DOMA provisions that force the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriages performed by states that do recognize them.  In his nomination speech at the Libertarian National Convention, he declared that “The Defense of Marriage Act, insofar as it provided the federal government a club to club down the rights of law abiding citizens has been abused, misused and should be repealed. And I will work to repeal that.”  This position moves the federal stance on this issue significantly closer to the Libertarian Party platform.

Ron Paul, in contrast, has declared that “I would have voted for the Defense of Marriage Act… to ensure that no state would be forced to recognize a ‘same sex’ marriage license.”  That’s directly opposed to the Libertarian Platform.

On the California same-sex marriage ruling, Barr released a press release applauding the California Supreme Court’s ruling, stating that “The decision in California is an illustration of how this principle of states’ powers should work.”

In contrast, Ron Paul has declared his undying opposition to same-sex marriage in his own state (in opposition to the LP platform), stating that “If I were a member of the Texas legislature, I would do all I could to oppose any attempt by rogue judges to impose a new definition of marriage,” effectively nullifying the equal protection clauses of the state and federal constitutions.

Worse still, Paul strongly supports state governments as sex police, declaring on the floor of the House that “the State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards” — a position that no serious libertarian could possibly take.

Most Libertarian candidate of the two on these issues: Bob Barr.  By far.

Now, you may be wondering why I am focusing on these two issues.  It’s mostly because so many purists for Paul have attacked the LP (and Barr) on the basis of his positions on immigration and DOMA, while ignoring their own preferred candidate’s positions.

Many have lectured me, declaring that “conservatism isn’t libertarianism” and other 50 cent cliches, while ignoring the fact that their own ideal candidate is more conservative on these issues — to the point of citing conservative groups like Heritage on hot-button social issues.

I could continue comparing the records of the two candidates in this regard on many more issues, and on most of them, Barr will not come out waving the white flag based on the Libertarian Party platform.

In short, if you’re proposing that Ron Paul is the antidote to conservatism as represented by Bob Barr, you need a remedial course in the positions of the two candidates.  It’s time for Ron Paul partisans to drop their “revolution” pipe dream and take an honest look at the Libertarian Party’s candidate and positions — while also honestly acknowledging their own tone-deafness on many areas of personal liberty crucial not only to American libertarians, but all American citizens.

Six plank suggestions for the Boston Tea Party

In Constitutional Rights, Libertarian Party-US on June 5, 2008 at 12:14 am

The Boston Tea Party seems to have found its ticket — Charles Jay and Tom Knapp — and it is working on a platform. I recently joined the BTP and offered six suggestions on constitutional and monetary issues. Your feedback is appreciated.

  1. The Boston Tea Party acknowledges that the 14th amendment was never properly ratified, is illegitimate, and all ensuing legislation based upon the 14th amendment, including the Supreme Court’s “incorporation doctrine,” is null and void.
  2. The Boston Tea Party calls for the repeal of the 16th amendment, and a new amendment to the Constitution limiting the scope of Congress’s powers of taxation to proportioned taxes assessed to the states.
  3. The Boston Tea Party calls for the repeal of the 17th amendment, which gave us the direct election of senators. U.S. Senators should be elected by their state legislatures in order to best represent the interests of the individual states versus the federal government, as the framers intended.
  4. The Boston Tea Party calls for a Free Trade Amendment to the Constitution, revoking Congress’s powers to assess tariffs, duties, or other taxes on imports, and barring embargoes, sanctions, quotas, and other restrictions on free trade absent a formal declaration of war against the named country. This amendment would render all current trade agreements null and void and prohibit the negotiation of new ones, henceforth.
  5. The Boston Tea Party calls for the abolition of the Federal Reserve, and the liquidation of the Federal Reserve System and all federal-government assets, excluding those few necessary for legitimate constitutional functions, for the purpose of paying off the national debt and redeeming all outstanding Federal Reserve Notes, pro-rata.
  6. The Boston Tea Party calls for the full legalization of competing currencies and the abolition of unconstitutional legal-tender laws. Under the Constitution, only the states may declare legal tender, and they are limited to choices of gold and silver.

Note: Membership in the Boston Tea Party in no way excludes someone from membership in the LP, nor does it preclude support of the LP presidential ticket. I do like having the BTP as a back-up option for a write-in vote that will be counted, though. And I think it will be fun to help fashion a truly libertarian platform, without the statist “reformers” raining on our parade.

Where does Bob Barr stand on DOMA?

In Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Libertarian Party-US, Politics on June 3, 2008 at 11:26 pm

Ah, my first blogpost on LFV! A quick hello to all and sundry.

One of the more controversial issues regarding the Barr candidacy was his stance on the ill-named Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA). I had the opportunity to sit down with Bob Barr last year and discuss, in detail, the impact of DOMA on Americans as well as the Libertarian Party platform on the issue.

Barr had been a primary author of the law, and was initially resistant to calls to renounce the law. By the time I’d spoken with Barr at the Conservative Leadership Conference in Reno in 2007, he agreed to a position identical to that of Hillary Clinton — amending the law to eliminate the federal definition of marriage, while preserving the portion allowing states to ignore other states’ marriages.

While this was suboptimal from a Libertarian Party perspective, it did represent significant evolution, and I encouraged Barr to make his position known. He seemed a bit hesitant to do so up until declaring his presidential candidacy, at which point the issue sprang out of the closet.

Jumping forward to May 2008, during his Sunday morning nomination speech at the 2008 convention, Barr appeared to call for the repeal of the law altogether. A number of delegates to the convention expressed surprise at this apparent evolution, and Outright Libertarians was only too happy to publicize Barr’s apparent change of heart. It received extensive coverage in the gay press, from local and national periodicals as well as radio and television. Dozens of undecided delegates, during the voting process, told Outright members that Barr’s apparent Sunday-morning conversion led to them making him their first or second choice.

However, we’re now getting mixed signals from the Barr campaign and Barr supporters regarding just what his position is on DOMA. Some are telling voters that Barr favors a repeal of DOMA, others are claiming his position hasn’t changed. The latter appear to be closer to the truth, if details from Barr’s recent interview with his local gay paper are to be believed.

While this represents evolution from Mr. Barr, it’s important to note that the LP platform, as implemented and amended at convention, rejects *all* government efforts to regulate or restrict personal relationships between consenting adults — including same-sex ones. It’s also disappointing to those of us on the floor who, after watching Barr’s “last word” on the issue on the convention floor, had been led to believe that he had come around to a position of full repeal.

FLDS finally getting their children back today

In Big Brother, Children, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, First Amendment, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Libertarian, Media, Minorities, Nanny State, People in the news, Police State on June 2, 2008 at 7:15 pm

Two months after their children were taken by state social service agencies, the parents of the Yearning For Zion polygamist sect have been granted permission by the court to pick up their children from foster care starting at 10:00 am CDT today.  This latest development comes after the Texas Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the state lacked probable cause to remove their children from their families, because they could not show that any of the children were in immediate danger.

The order does have some serious restrictions, however.  The families have been ordered to cooperate with state officials, including unannounced home visits and physical and psychiatric testing; they are also not permitted to leave the state of Texas, and the parents must take parenting classes.  The families are also not allowed to travel more than 100 miles without notifying Child Protective Services.

The return of the children is being hailed as a victory by civil libertarians, who viewed the raid as a violation of the sect’s constitutional rights.  However, many still question the restrictions placed upon the families by the court.

Yearning For Zion is a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sect.  FLDS members believe in the original teachings of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, who taught that polygamy is the way to glorification in heaven.  The mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints banned polygamy over a hundred years ago.

The state of Texas had taken over 400 children into custody, following a hoax call from a woman falsely claiming to be a pregnant FLDS teenager being beaten by her much older husband.  That woman, Rozita Swinson of Colorado, has been arrested; and it has come to light that this is not the first time she has perpetrated a hoax of this type.

It is expected that the YFZ families whose children were removed, as well as the young women who were taken against their will and assumed to be underage even though they are legal adults (at least one is in her mid-twenties), will sue the state of Texas and the state’s Child Protective Services agency.  If that occurs, due to the number of people involved, the damages could be in the billions.

Previous LFV entries on this subject (listed in chronological order):

“Sickos: What’s a free market solution?” by Nigel Watt, 4/22/08

“Another viewpoint on FLDS case” by ElfNinosMom, 4/22/08

“Texas Supreme Court orders polygamist children returned to parents” by ElfNinosMom, 05/29/08

Dirty cop convicted in no-knock warrant death of 92-year-old woman

In Constitutional Rights, Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Drug War, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, Obituaries, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Police Brutality, Police State on May 21, 2008 at 4:37 pm

After two Atlanta cops (Gregg Junnier and Jason R. Smith) pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and federal civil rights violations in the death of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston, a third cop (Arthur Bruce Tesler) has been found guilty by a jury of lying in the investigation into the woman’s death. Tesler did not fire any of the shots in the raid.

Tesler and his partners Junnier and Smith had gotten a no-knock warrant, claiming that there was a kilo of cocaine in the house, but they lied about whether they had confirmed the information from their informant. Consequently they busted into the elderly woman’s home in plainclothes, shot and killed her when she shot at them – undoubtedly in self-defense, believing them to be intruders – then planted drugs in her house to make it look like a “good” bust.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The jury acquitted Tesler on two charges from the illegal 2006 narcotics raid in which officers shot and killed Kathryn Johnston in her northwest Atlanta home. It found him guilty of lying in an official investigation in the cover-up of police wrongdoing that followed the shooting.

“It is not like anyone intended to hurt her, but that’s what came out of it,” Woltz said. “Right will win out.”

Tesler, 42, faces up to five years in prison when sentenced Thursday. If he had been convicted on all counts, he could have been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The verdict came shortly after the jury reviewed a transcript of Tesler’s defense testimony. He and his two partners were accused of lying to get the no-knock search warrant for Johnston’s home on the mistaken belief it was the house of a drug dealer.

The Johnston killing shocked metro Atlanta and enraged many in the African-American community, who complained that shoddy or heavy-handed police work in the war on drugs was a source of repeated abuses.

You can read the article in its entirety on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Police brutality in Philadelphia last night caught on tape

In Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Cops Gone Wild, Corruption, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, Media, Minorities, People in the news, Police Brutality, Police State on May 7, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Bob Barr’s “emotional distress”

In Congress, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Crazy Claims, Democrats, First Amendment, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Republican, US Government on May 7, 2008 at 1:43 am

In 2002, Salon published an article detailing how Bob Barr filed a $30 million lawsuit against Bill Clinton,Bob Barr Larry Flynt, and James Carville, claiming “emotional distress”, on the same day he was championing a bill that would cap damage awards for pain and suffering (for everybody else, naturally) at $250,000.

As I’m sure you’ve already figured out, he didn’t win; the lawsuit was dismissed on the basis that he failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted; he appealed the dismissal, and lost again. The dismissal on appeal was even more embarrassing, since the court determined that he never even claimed the disparaging information to be false, or stated with reckless disregard for the truth, or with knowing disregard for its falsity.

Think about this for a minute. He was suing a man he had impeached and two alleged (but extremely unlikely) conspirators, unsuccessfully mind you, for causing him emotional distress; yet he still never once claimed that the dirt they dug up on him (and which Flynt eventually published) was even false.

I don’t know about you, but I find even the idea of that lawsuit incredibly amusing. Can you say “frivolous”? Or maybe the word I’m looking for is “paranoid”. Either way, the word “disturbing” also comes to mind, given that an appellate court ruled that he had sued three people for $30 million, when all they had really done was exercise their First Amendment right to free speech.

By the way ….. it’s only 17 days until the convention, and Bob Barr still has not announced his intentions, and still is hiding behind his Exploratory Committee rather than subjecting himself to voter questions and scrutiny like the other candidates have already done. Gee, I wonder why. LOL

Here’s an excerpt from the Salon article:

Jun 14, 2002 | When the news finally broke — because porn magnate Larry Flynt sent out his own press release — that Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga., had filed a lawsuit in March against Bill Clinton, pundit James Carville and Flynt for $30 million, claiming “loss of reputation and emotional distress,” the timing couldn’t have been much more awkward for Barr. That very day, he was championing a bill that would cap damage awards for “pain and suffering” at $250,000.

This week, at a hearing of the House Judiciary Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee, which he chairs, Barr heaped praise on a bill that would limit so-called non-economic medical damages to $250,000, saying “a national liability insurance crisis is ravaging the nation’s healthcare system.”

So how can someone who wants to limit awards for pain and suffering sue the former president and others for a whopping $30 million in emotional distress?

The depths of the former House impeachment manager’s disdain for the former president should not be underestimated. Of all the House managers, Barr was perhaps the most gung-ho in his desire to get Clinton. Back in November 1997, before the world had ever heard of Monica Lewinsky, Barr tried to bring impeachment charges against Clinton, alleging violations of campaign finance laws.

Now, Barr has quietly filed a suit against Clinton, Carville and Flynt for “participating in a common scheme and unlawful on-going conspiracy to attempt to intimidate, impede and/or retaliate against [Barr]” for his role as an impeachment manager in 1999.

Behold: Bob Barr’s vast left-wing conspiracy.

The suit comes, however, as Barr has other things to worry about. Redistricting has placed him in a tough primary fight against Rep. John Linder, R-Ga. When asked on Thursday about Barr’s suit, Linder spokesman Bo Harmon offered a jab veiled in a no-comment. “A sitting congressman suing a former president for $30 million raises all sorts of serious questions,” Harmon said. “Until we know more about Congressman Barr’s state of mind on this, we’re going to refrain from commenting.”

Barr’s case is yet another bizarre coda to the impeachment saga. Among the documents submitted in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, was a section of The Flynt Report, the 1999 document by the Hustler publisher that shone a spotlight on the private lives of the House impeachment managers and other moralizing Republicans. The report calls Barr “a twice-divorced family values cheerleader … who condoned an abortion, committed adultery and failed to tell the truth under oath” in a 1986 deposition.

Flynt’s report was one of the blows struck in a tit-for-tat mud-wrestling match between investigators in the Office of the Independent Counsel and their congressional allies and Democratic attack dogs during the halcyon days of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Democrats pointed to stories like the ones contained in the report and to Henry Hyde’s extramarital affair to label Republican impeachment managers as hypocrites.

Barr has long talked of a conspiracy behind the attacks on him. At the time the Flynt Report was published, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Barr if the White House was behind the smear campaign. “Most people can’t even deny that with a straight face,” Barr told Blitzer.

The suit is not the first time Barr has tried to sue Clinton outside the confines of Congress. The new civil suit is a reprise of a criminal case Barr brought in 1999 against the Executive Office of the President and the Justice Department, claiming the White House was keeping a dossier on Barr and that the congressman “was subject to attacks and threats of attack by persons in the media, including Larry Flynt, James Carville, [investigative journalist] Dan Moldea and others.”

The new complaint charges that the White House kept “files on [Barr] and routinely disseminated the contents of those files to defendants Carville and Flynt and others, including members of the media, in an effort to intimidate and impede” Barr’s investigation of Clinton. The suit also alleges that the White House kept an enemies list that included all 13 House impeachment managers; Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind.; Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark.; Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff; and Judicial Watch’s Larry Klayman, who is serving as Barr’s attorney in the case.

The suit, however, includes no evidence of such collusion.

Read the rest of this article here.

LFV Exclusive…….

In Constitutional Rights, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Personal Responsibility, Politics, War on May 2, 2008 at 2:39 pm

First of all, it’s great to be back at the “new and improved” Last Free Voice. I like what Elfnino’s Mom is doing to the site and hopefully she’ll let me stay here as long as she can stand me. Face it, she did endorse me but due to financial reasons I had to terminate my campaign. Maybe I’ll try again in eight years!

Now that I am no longer a candidate for office and will be graduating next Saturday (party at my house, B.Y.O.Beer, if you’re in the area, you’re invited), I’ll just give you my opinion on all the serious candidates (yeah I’m excluding those like Milnes, Burns, Hollist, Imper-wacko, Link and other not-so-serious candidates).

Now who can I ridicule, I mean, talk about first. Let’s talk about Christine Smith. I think she’s crazy personally. I contacted her early in her campaign and she seemed like a nice person until she stopped calling or e-mailing me. Then again she doesn’t return e-mails to anyone. Steve Gordon has tried to get an interview with her for TPW. I think Tom Knapp has tried for Rational Review. Even her supporters can’t get a hold of her. What a way to blow off your base support by ignoring them. Great campaign strategy! She may have enough support to make to the debate in Denver. Out of all the candidates who would have an easy time to get to Denver, it’s her, even though she failed to make it to her own state party’s convention. Good luck Christine, run for Congress next time. Besides, I think she’s threatened by Mary Ruwart’s celebrity status.

Next is Mike Gravel. I’m glad to see a former Senator in our party even though he’s been out of office for 25+ years. He brings to the party a lot of passion. He’s not going to be our Presidential candidate. He’s supports the “fraud tax” and universal health care but he’s anti-war, anti- drug war and anti-Income Tax. He needs some grooming in our party.

Next is George Phillies. I like George, he’s a nice guy, not Presidential. He should be running for an at large spot on the LNC. George and I worked on Russo’s and Badnarik’s campaigns back in 2004. I have to say this much: George’s campaign is better organized than the others and I’m impressed. Now the big problem I have with George is that it seems like he has no respect for pro-life Libertarians and that he favors the continuation of the Federal Reserve and the Inflation Tax. Run for LNC in 2010, I will vote for YOU!

Next is Mike Jingozian. Mike is a nice guy, I spoke with at length in Kansas City. Very smart business man; a man with a plan! Unfortunately, Mike, you would be a great Gubernatorial candidate in Oregon. I can’t say much about Mr. Jingozian but I think his time is not now, maybe 2012.

Next is Bob Barr. Bob would be my third choice right now. There’s a huge problem why Bob Barr isn’t higher. He supports the “fraud tax” and he doesn’t fully agree with decriminalization of drugs. Bob, just answer the questions, we Libertarians have been trying to get you to answer since your grand announcement. Please re-clarify your stance on these issues or DON’T RUN FOR PRESIDENT!

Next is the oh so arrogant Wayne Allyn Root. I dislike him; he’s like a used car salesman selling a lemon. He’s just another conservative trying to hijack the LP. A Root nomination will effectively destroy the LP. Mr. Root can not see that the LP is NOT a wing of the “Torture” party. Libertarians aren’t conservatives and if you can’t see that, just leave the party-wait I’ll help you pack your bags.

Next is Steve Kubby. Before I jumped into the VP race, I supported Kubby. Kubby would be my second choice right now but I hope he doesn’t let his ego get the best of him and run for VP. Besides Tom Knapp would kick my ass if I didn’t say something nice about Kubby.

Finally, there is Mary Ruwart. I’m endorsing Mary because she’s the best candidate for the party. She will bring members into the party that will last. She’s the type of candidate that would be able to bring in the younger people, more women and possibly minorities into our homogeneous party. She’s not loud nor shy. She’s angry but soft-spoken. She’s articulate and principled. It’s just too bad I won’t be able to make it to Denver to cast me vote for her. I’ll be glued to C-Span all weekend though watching our convention but it’s not the same. At least if Mary is our nominee we will have our party intact and to me that’s what’s important.

Another viewpoint on FLDS case

In Activism, Big Brother, Children, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Crime, First Amendment, Fraud, Human Rights Abuses, Law, Law Enforcement, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, Nanny State, People in the news, Police State on April 22, 2008 at 7:04 pm

Polygamists outside courtThe judge hearing the case of 400+ children removed from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), Judge Barbara Walther, has ordered DNA tests of the children from the Yearning For Zion (YFZ) compound. The tests began yesterday via cheek swab, and it is taking an extraordinarily long time to do each one (about 30 minutes) due to the convoluted relationships between the adherents, which brings with it fear of contamination of the samples. Many polygamist children living in a sect of this type have no idea which woman is their biological mother, or which man is their biological father. Prosecutors have also requested psychiatric examinations of the children, while the attorneys for the children objected vehemently to both.

In polygamist relationships, the women assigned to a particular man refer to one another as “sister wives”, and they are all viewed as mothers to all of their husband’s children. There is a pecking order among the wives, though, with each subsequent wife bearing less power within the overall relationship. Furthermore, women and children can be taken from the fathers, and “reassigned” to another man. For this reason, it is not at all unusual for a child to not know the identity of their biological parents.

However, there is reason to fear that the DNA tests will be used for other purposes. For example, if it is proven that a child was born to an underage mother, or that the mother and father are closely related, criminal charges could ensue, and the state will already have proof of the illegal relationship. More chillingly, under the guise of scientific knowledge, the test results could be used for other purposes, since in established polygamist sects everyone is related by blood to everyone else, and incest is common. Frankly, I fear that these children will become guinea pigs.

The judge stated the reason for the testing is that the mothers have regularly changed their names, possibly lied about their ages, and have difficulty naming their relatives.

In the meantime, the children are being held as a group, inside a coliseum.

In an interview with CBS’s “The Early Show” one of the men from the polygamist sect, known only as “Rulan”, stated that the men would cooperate with DNA testing if it will help them get their children back. He also stated that the sect would reconsider allowing sex with girls under 18.

Many of us perhaps were not even aware of such a law. And we do reconsider, yes. We teach our children to abide the law.

Prosecutors claim that simply living in the compound exposes the girls to sexual abuse, or the imminent risk of abuse, due to the practice of forcing girls as young as 13 to marry men sometimes old enough to be their grandfathers or great-grandfathers. There is a pecking order among the men, just as there is among the women, and even elderly men can request that a young girl be “assigned” to them as an additional wife. The purpose of this, insofar as their religious belief, is so that the man can produce as many “superior souls” as possible. Once that man dies – or if he no longer wants the wife, or if a man higher in the patriarchy decides he wants that man’s wife – his wives and children are assigned to other men; the women have no say with regard to which man they are assigned as a wife.

Once the DNA sampling is completed, which is expected to take several days, the children will be placed in foster care, and the children younger than four – who up to this point have stayed with their mothers – will be taken away as well.

Psychologists, however, warn that placing the children in conventional foster homes can cause severe psychological damage due to overexposure; these children have lived in such a strict community that even being allowed to play with mainstream children could cause serious problems. State workers have said that they will try to keep siblings together, and keep the children in groups. For the sake of the children, they will also need to create an environment with little to no contact with the outside world, which means no television, computers, or other media. It is unclear how the children will be educated, given that sending them to public school could prove to cause lifelong emotional and psychological scars.

Furthermore, another barrier stands in the way, which is that FLDS children have been taught from the earliest age that even mere disobedience to one’s parents leads to eternal damnation, and that the world outside the compound is evil. Obviously, these children are suffering both emotionally and psychologically, not just from being separated from their parents and community, but because they fear damnation for merely being taken by the state into the outside world.

I know some foster families, but I cannot imagine changing their entire household to accommodate restrictions that severe. I fear most foster parents will not even try, thinking it is best for the children to be exposed to the outside world. I therefore fear for those children, because I honestly think the psychologists’ warnings are to be taken seriously. We’re living in the 21st Century, while those children for all intents and purposes have never known anything beyond the 19th Century, since most have never even been off the compound before now. Experiencing a typical home today would be something akin to a time machine for them, and could even alter the religious beliefs they have been taught. The state, however, has absolutely no right whatsoever to expose those children to anything which might alter the beliefs their parents hold as truth; and to do otherwise is a violation of the First Amendment.

This is a very serious problem in this situation, and personally, I think this is such an extreme case – since the state has essentially denied their religious rights as well as the right to be secure in their homes – that the Supreme Court needs to step in and make sure the constitutional rights of the children and their parents are protected, before irreparable damage is done. It may already be too late.

Rozita SwinsonIn the meantime, police have identified a 33-year-old Colorado Springs woman, Rozita Swinton, as a “person of interest” and the possible source of the phone calls which caused this situation. Swinton is currently in police custody, charged with false reporting to authorities in another, unrelated case. There has been no explanation regarding why she would make phone calls of that nature regarding this particular religious sect, as it appears that she has no ties to the group.

We should all watch this case very, very closely. What the state is doing in the YFZ case could happen to any of us, based upon a hoax call. Child Protective Services nationwide is renowned for removing children from homes on the flimsiest of evidence, while leaving children actually at risk (and sometimes obviously being abused) in the home with their abusers. The truth of the matter is that religions such as the Primitive Baptists are equally strict with their children, and the women are completely subservient to their husbands (in fact, Primitive Baptist women look very much like the FLDS women), both of which could also be misinterpreted as abuse by overzealous social workers. One attorney stated that none of the parents had ever even received a copy of the original petition for removal of the children, yet were expected to appear in court 14 days later in order to present their case to have their children returned; one mother said that removing the children from their home and community was the worst abuse the children had ever experienced, and she may very well be correct.

On the other hand, you have the question of indoctrination into a patriarchal society, where young girls are taught from a very early age to be completely subservient to men. They are then married off as young as 13 years old, with no choice in who they marry and possibly even without warning. Many boys are driven off the compound at a very young age, to eliminate competition for the young girls’ affection. It is a strange society by our standards, to be sure, and we as a society do have a responsibility to help those children.

The question is, how do we help them, while ensuring the protection of their constitutional rights, as well as the constitutional rights of the parents? Is government intervention the best decision? I’m not altogether sure that it is, unless abuse can be proven. However, abuse is defined based upon the norms of society – for example, spanking is legally defined as abuse in some countries, but here parents can spank their children and a spanking in and of itself is not considered abusive – and it is indisputable that such sects have their own society, quite apart from our own; what is defined as abuse in our society is obviously not viewed as abuse in theirs, and is instead the norm. We are also not on a moral high ground with regard to pregnant teenagers, since we see that all the time in our own society, and many teen mothers in our society were impregnated at an even younger age.

This is an extremely complex question, with no easy answers to be found. However, one thing is clear, and that is that the FLDS sects have the same constitutional rights as you or I, and those rights must be protected above anything else. At this point, I do not believe the state had any cause whatsoever to remove the young children, and I fear that doing so has violated their constitutional rights, as well as the constitutional rights of the parents. If the state’s concern is sexual abuse of teen girls as stated, they may have probable cause to remove the teens for their own protection, but not to remove the younger children. I have seen and heard nothing which would suggest that children under the age of ten are in imminent danger of abuse, except the state’s assertion that, according to their religion, they may be “spiritually married” at any age. I therefore suspect the state is trying to enforce its own standards and morality upon a religion which has existed and been practiced the same way for hundreds of years.

My biggest concern is that this is nothing more or less than religious persecution. Religious persecution absolutely cannot be tolerated in our country, so there needs to be oversight at the federal level, to ensure the rights of all the sect members are protected.

Government Gone Wild: Extortion Edition

In Activism, Civil Liberties, Communism, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Drug War, Fraud, Law, Law Enforcement, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Local Politics, Police State, Politics, Socialism, Taxation on April 20, 2008 at 5:16 pm

By now we are all aware that the government can seize your car, your house, your money, etc if they believe the items were purchased with the proceeds of drug transactions. However, the practice of seizing property is actually far more common than that, and far, far more sinister.

Are you aware that the government can steal your house, even if you don’t owe a dime on it, and sell it for as little as one year of back taxes? On top of that they pile on additional extortion fees, and you’ll end up either paying the taxes and fees, or being homeless. They’ll sell it for a small percentage of what the property is worth, and there are predators who actually make a living by buying houses this way, only to resell them.

Are you aware that if you are caught driving a motor vehicle with an expired registration, the government can steal it and place it in an impound, where you will be forced to also pay a high towing fee plus a shocking amount for it to just sit there (usually between $25 and $50 per day) until you pay their extortion fee? Are you aware that if you don’t pay that extortion fee (which at that point includes the fee to the towing company for towing and storage, plus the registration, plus the taxes, plus whatever ticket you got for not having an up-to-date registration) within a short period of time, sometimes as little as 30 days, they will sell your vehicle and you will no longer have any rights to it?

There are predators who actually make a living buying cars that way for resell, too, not to mention the predatory towing companies in cahoots with the government, who make all that extra money for doing nothing (in some places, the government has its own impound lot, but in most, the impound is merely the towing company’s premises).

So, what gives the government the right to take something which doesn’t belong to them, and the right to sell it and give you back nothing no matter how much it was worth, even if you owned the property free and clear?

Only the laws the government has written for its own benefit give them that right, of course. Nothing else gives them that right. There certainly is no constitutional right for the government to steal your property, nor is there a natural right for the government to do such a heinous thing. Extortion, especially on that level, is illegal for everyone except the government.

You are actually far more likely to fall prey to this government extortion scheme if you don’t owe money on your property. Of course, the government knows whether you own it free and clear or not, since they have specifically written laws stating that any lien interest must be filed with them.

Those who fall prey to these schemes are not just those who protest taxes. Instead, most victims are simply good people who fell upon hard times, and many times those hard times are directly caused by government extortion which snowballs.

Let’s say you inherited a home from your parents, and you have a car which you worked and paid for yourself. The home is bought and paid for as well, so you own both your car and your house free and clear. Then let’s say that you work too far away to get there any way except by automobile. You didn’t get your registration paperwork in the mail (not at all unusual in my experience), so you simply forgot it was due. You get stopped by the police because your registration is expired, and they ticket you and impound your vehicle.

At that point, you don’t have the money to get the vehicle out – it will cost you the towing fee, plus daily storage fees, plus personal property taxes, plus registration – and you can’t even make that kind of money because you have lost your job for missing work. You also can’t pay the fine you were levied because you didn’t have an updated registration, so your license is suspended until you pay that, plus about $50 to the DMV to reinstate your license (which in reality requires only a mouse click on a computer).

The only job you can get to feed yourself and your family, and be able to get there and back since you no longer have a car or a license, pays minimum wage. There is no way you will be able to afford to get your vehicle back. So you tell yourself, “that’s okay, I’ve been in hard times before. I’ll eventually I’ll get back on my feet again, and pay the fine and get another car. We’ll scrape by.” In the meantime, the government sells your car right out from under you.

A friend has an old moped they no longer use, and they let you use it so you can get back and forth to a little bit better job. There is no license plate or anything on it, so you assume you don’t have to have that. It’s slower than a bicycle, after all. You are pulled over by the cops, and hit with multiple tickets. You are ticketed for not wearing a helmet, for not having a license plate on it, for not having insurance on it, for not registering it and paying taxes on it …. the list goes on. You are fined hundreds of dollars, even though the vehicle isn’t even yours, and they impound the moped, too. To make sure it gets back the maximum return, the towing company actually sends a tow truck to transport a moped. You also go to jail for driving on a suspended license, even though no one with more than one brain cell would assume you need a drivers’ license to drive a moped, given that they are not supposed to be ridden on main roads because they are so slow.

Once you pay your bail with the little bit of money you’ve saved up to try to get back on your feet, you’re back to zero again. Chances are you’ve lost your latest job because you missed a shift and didn’t call in (since you are in jail, after all).

You get a notice for property taxes, but you can’t pay it so you figure you’ll pay them when you pay everyone else. The government can’t take your house, you think, because it’s paid for and you own it free and clear.

You get another crappy job, and start riding a bicycle to and from work. You are stopped for not having a license on your bicycle, and for not wearing a helmet. More fines ensue, and they impound your bicycle.

You start walking back and forth to work, taking the only job you can find within walking distance, and everything seems okay until a cop shows up giving you legal documents saying your home has been sold for back taxes, and you have only a short period of time (usually 30 or 60 days) to “redeem” what is yours. What’s worse, it has been sold to a stranger for only the amount of the taxes.

Where do you get the money to buy your house back from the extortion agents? At that point your credit is destroyed, so you can’t borrow it.

In many cases, you don’t get the money. The government sells your house and you end up on the streets, with no choice but to depend upon the government to feed and shelter your children, since you lost the good job when your car was impounded, lost another job when the moped was seized and sold and you were arrested, lost your bicycle because it didn’t have tags on it, and eventually ended up having to take whatever crap job you can find where you can walk to and from work. By this time you owe the government thousands in fines, you’re working and supporting a family on minimum wage, and now – as if all that isn’t bad enough – you’re homeless.

The government wants it that way. The more people depend upon it for basic necessities, the more power it has over all of us. It is nothing but communism in action: the people own nothing, because the state has the power to take anything it wants without compensation.

There are many people, every single day, who have encountered these problems, thanks to the many government extortion programs. In fact, I know people who have had these specific problems, so I know for a fact that it can happen, and that it does happen all the time. The mainstream media doesn’t cover it, because to get many stories they must have the cooperation of the politicians who enacted and support these extortion programs. However, whether we see it on the news or not, it is so common that the only thing I find surprising about it, to be quite honest, is that to my knowledge no one has yet snapped and killed someone for stealing their home. You will notice that I said “yet”. It will eventually happen, of that I have no doubt. When it does, I certainly hope libertarians will stand up loud and clear in their defense. I know I will.

As libertarians, we spend a lot of time complaining about federal income taxes. That’s all well and good, but what we should be doing as well is working to stop this kind of rampant government extortion on the state, county, and local level, which destroys the lives of hardworking American families every single day.

If they want to charge taxes, fine; if the taxes get too high, eventually no one will live there, and they will have slit their own throats. However, we should never allow the government to steal property due to nonpayment of taxes, especially when those taxes are levied simply by virtue of owning the property in question. Extortion by force is always wrong, no matter who is doing it, and it must be stopped.

Transgender male meets discrimination due to pregnancy

In Activism, Civil Liberties, Constitutional Rights, Health on April 2, 2008 at 3:13 pm

I was always under the impression that the transgendered had to undergo sex-reassignment surgery before they could be legally recognized as the opposite sex. However, The Advocate reports that a transgender man has become pregnant though he is legally recognized as a male, looks to the rest of the world to be male, and has legally married a female. It is reported that he changed everything else to effectuate the female-to-male change, but kept his female reproductive organs intact.  Obviously, I was misinformed.

I looked around at some followups to this story, which just broke a few days ago (March 26th), to get an idea of the reaction. Even many in the transgender community are opposed to the pregnancy, on the basis that they don’t think he can claim to be male under those circumstances; others believe he should not continue to be a man if he has chosen pregnancy, because it causes negative attention toward other transgender males. The general public …. well, I don’t think I need to tell you what the public is saying, but suffice it to say that many if not most people are completely against it. Many are refusing to recognize him as male, since he has made this decision. Many are invoking God into this situation. I expect the public outcry to grow larger and louder, as the story makes it more and more into the mainstream.

Below is an excerpt of the original story from the viewpoint of the man himself, and the problems he has encountered as a result of his decision to bear a child.

While this is admittedly unusual, reproduction is undeniably a basic human right. That being the case, libertarians must fully support this man’s decision to bear a child. Our support is important, because what I suspect will happen is that the government will take ten steps backward, and start enacting discriminatory laws against the transgendered as a result of the hysteria which will undoubtedly occur, and which has already begun.

Libertarians must be the voice of reason in this situation because – since most libertarians are heterosexual and in conventional relationships, and because we have always advocated the right of everyone to live as they choose without government interference – we cannot be logically accused of bias for or against the LGBT community.

Labor of Love

To our neighbors, my wife, Nancy, and I don’t appear in the least unusual. To those in the quiet Oregon community where we live, we are viewed just as we are — a happy couple deeply in love. Our desire to work hard, buy our first home, and start a family was nothing out of the ordinary. That is, until we decided that I would carry our child.

I am transgender, legally male, and legally married to Nancy. Unlike those in same-sex marriages, domestic partnerships, or civil unions, Nancy and I are afforded the more than 1,100 federal rights of marriage. Sterilization is not a requirement for sex reassignment, so I decided to have chest reconstruction and testosterone therapy but kept my reproductive rights. Wanting to have a biological child is neither a male nor female desire, but a human desire.

Ten years ago, when Nancy and I became a couple, the idea of us having a child was more dream than plan. I always wanted to have children. However, due to severe endometriosis 20 years ago, Nancy had to undergo a hysterectomy and is unable to carry a child. But after the success of our custom screen-printing business and a move from Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest two years ago, the timing finally seemed right. I stopped taking my bimonthly testosterone injections. It had been roughly eight years since I had my last menstrual cycle, so this wasn’t a decision that I took lightly. My body regulated itself after about four months, and I didn’t have to take any exogenous estrogen, progesterone, or fertility drugs to aid my pregnancy.

Our situation sparks legal, political, and social unknowns. We have only begun experiencing opposition from people who are upset by our situation. Doctors have discriminated against us, turning us away due to their religious beliefs. Health care professionals have refused to call me by a male pronoun or recognize Nancy as my wife. Receptionists have laughed at us. Friends and family have been unsupportive; most of Nancy’s family doesn’t even know I’m transgender.

You can read the rest of this incredible article on The Advocate.

What is the government’s proper function in child death caused by religious belief?

In Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Crime, First Amendment, Health, Law, Obituaries, People in the news, Personal Responsibility, Science on April 1, 2008 at 9:17 pm

Madeline Kara Neumann, Leilani and Dale NeumannOn Sunday, 11-year-old Madeline Kara Neumann, known as “Kara”, died due to diabetic ketoacidosis. While diabetes is a treatable disease, the girl had not seen a doctor, so she had not been diagnosed with diabetes.

Her parents, Leilani and Dale Neumann of Wisconsin, believe that healing is received only through faith, and not through medicine. They therefore did not take Kara to a doctor even though she had been severely ill for days, possibly a week. Instead, they prayed for her.

Authorities were first contacted by the child’s aunt in California, who had asked them to check on the child. From ABC News:

“My sister-in-law is, her daughter’s severely, severely sick and she believes her daughter is in a coma,” [Ariel] Gomez is heard telling the dispatcher in one of the 911 calls released by the sheriff’s office. “And, she’s very religious, so she’s refusing to take [Kara] to the hospital, so I was hoping maybe somebody could go over there.”

Gomez asks authorities to send an ambulance, and warns the dispatcher that Leilani Neumann will fight attempts to intervene. “We’ve been trying to get her to take [Kara] to the hospital for a week, a few days now,” Gomez tells the dispatcher.

Before police got to the house, they received a medical emergency call from the Neumanns.

The parents post on the website of a congregation which refuses medical treatment, but the minister said they are not members of that congregation. The parents seem to have their own prayer group, comprised of about eight people. Authorities believe the girl, who was being homeschooled at the time of her death, had been very ill for several days, possibly a week, before her death; and the mother had reported to family members that the girl had slipped into a coma, but they were still refusing to take her to a hospital, believing prayer would heal her.

In an interview with The Associated Press, the girl’s parents confirmed that they believe healing comes from God, but said they did not want their child to die, they are not zealots and they do not have anything against doctors.

Dale Neumann, a former police officer, told the AP that he started to perform CPR on his daughter “as soon as the breath of life left.”

In the interview, Leilani Neumann said that she is not worried about the police investigation because her family’s lives are “in God’s hands” and they know that they did the best thing for their daughter that they knew how to do.

You can read the entire ABC News article here.

Carl and Raylene WorthingtonA similar case occurred earlier this month, when 15-month-old baby Ava Worthington died of bronchial pneumonia and a blood infection, after Carl and Raylene Worthington, her faith healing parents, failed to obtain any medical care for the infant; the illness was exacerbated by a benign cyst on the child’s neck which had never been medically treated. The state medical examiner said the infant could have been saved with a simple prescription for antibiotics. The Worthingtons have been criminally charged with manslaughter and criminal mistreatment.

You can read the entire ABC News article here.

Should parents who believe in faith healing be charged criminally in the death of their child, or should they be protected by the First Amendment? Should the government intervene and take away their other children in such situations, for their safety and protection? Or are these parents within their First Amendment rights to not seek medical care for their children, relying instead on prayer alone, even if their child is obviously dying?