Monday, December 19, 2005

Good Collumn and Some Ranting About Neoprohibition

JD Bruewer of has a rather nice bit about neo-prohitionist legislation.

Prohibition is political dead meat. Enter neo-prohibition, a lighter, more palatable dish.

Calls for prohibition elicit strong reaction from many sectors of the public, but who can object to protecting children and innocent drivers? Neo-prohibitionists use these causes to criminalize and stigmatize all alcohol-related activities.

How can you object to tougher drunken driving laws or restricting the sale of alcohol around children? What politician would come out in favor of drunken driving or jeopardizing children?

With this approach, neo-prohibitionists have pushed the implementation of extreme laws that limit the civil rights of citizens accused of using alcohol improperly, while proving ineffective at protecting the public.

In a October column on, Radley Balko, who runs the Weblog, details how Mothers Against Drunk Driving has morphed into a neo-prohibitionist group and how the .08 blood alcohol limit law the group promoted has failed to curb drunk driving.

“When two-thirds of alcohol-related traffic fatalities involve blood-alcohol levels of .14 and above, and the average fatal accident occurs at .17, this move doesn’t make much sense. It’s like lowering the speed limit from 65 to 60 to catch people who drive 100 miles per hour,” Balko writes.

He points out that the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s review of drunken-driving data concluded, “The evidence does not conclusively establish that .08 BAC laws by themselves result in reductions in the number and severity of crashes involving alcohol.”

If you want to read Balko’s writings on the subject, or the GAO report on .08 blood-alcohol content laws, go to

My point is, if you’re against legalized alcohol, say it, fight against it and be clear in your intention.

Don’t confuse the issue by tying it to bad, feel-good legislation. Don’t harm legitimate efforts to protect the driving public and children by hijacking their causes to support your own.

If you are for legalized alcohol, stand up for the right to drink, don’t let the neo-prohibitionists strip away your rights.

So in other words, shit or get off the pot!

I, like the author, know which side I am on regarding this issue. Drinking is legal. It should have never been made illegal. Having been made illegal, the only correct thing to do was to repeal the Constitutional amendment that made it illegal, which was done. With prohibition, as wrong as it was, you see a good example of people working within the law to amend the constitution properly within the correct framework, more or less.

Unfortunately, any above the board legislation concerning alcohol ended with the repeal of prohibition, when it became clear that American public would not as a majority support a minority position such as prohibition. Since then the vocal minority in this country has used every underhanded tactic they could think of to keep people confused and sitting on the fence regarding this issue.

In other words, the Drys couldn't defeat the American drinking public with a frontal assault, so now they are going for the flank. They couldn't win by preaching. They couldn't win by violence (such as was perpatrated by Carrie Nation and the Anti-Saloon league). They couldn't win by the legal high ground of the US Constitution. So now they want to undermine that Constitution to get what they want.

Let me stress that again. Regardless of the motive, which itself isn't entirely clear, the people who want to prohibit the consumption of alcohol now choose to undermine the Constitution because they couldn't manipulate it to get whay they want. They don't want anyone to drink, and they will take away that right any way they can. And they don't care if the rights of due process, fair trial, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, and even the basic right of a mother to care for her child are compromised, so long as they get what they want.

And it's working, because they've been slowly softening and shifting the public perception of drinking and drinking issues for decades. They will fail if the American public stops and thinks about what is going on. They will fail if Americans question their own opinions and even perception of the facts on this matter. Even if you don't drink, at least be aware of what's going on because you have as much to lose as any drinker.

Here are a couple of facts that everyone seems to have forgotten. It's not illegal to drink in the United States. It's not even illegal to drink and drive (although the neoprohibitionists have managed to confuse us on that issue enough to where even most police officers no longer understand this simple fact).

Think about that for a second. It's not illegal for you to drink and drive. It's illegal to be intoxicated while driving, as you endanger yourself and others. The definition of that intoxication has been (innapropriatley) set as having a BAC of .08 in most states. Also, it's a very good idea to not drink and drive, one which I continue to endorse even when it means I'm not going anyhwere for a while. But if you drink and drive, you have not broken the law unless you've had enough to bring your BAC up to .08 or higher.

If you had a glass of wine with dinner and drive home, you have not broken the law, even though you might get arrested for it. If you are sleeping it off in the back seat, you have not broken the law, even though you might get arrested for it. If you are sitting at a bar drinking while your car sit in that bar's parking lot, you have not broken the law, even though you might get arrested for it. If you call a cab because you've been drinkinand don't wish to endanger yourself and others by getting behind the wheel, yet before you get into the cab you go into your car to fetch some of your belongings, you have not brokent the law even though you might get arrested for it.

Neo-prohibitionists don't want you to be aware of these facts. Instead they want you to have a fuzzy, inarticulate perception about drinking. And while they are at it they want you to be so afraid of criminall persecution and prosecution that you will stop drinking altogether.

"Drinking is not a crime."

Thursday, December 01, 2005

No Wonder We're Losing Our Rights

We're being conditioned to give them up in school.

In Lowell, Mass., a girl is sent home for wearing camo.

FATIGUE FLAP: LHS student sent home for wearing camouflage outfit

Lowell Sun

LOWELL -- Shilo Lewis just wanted to blend in with the crowd.

She'd seen camouflage clothing in fashion magazines, on the streets of the city, even in Lowell High School.

But a head-to-toe camouflage ensemble got the high-school junior sent home from school yesterday.

“They took one look at me and said, ‘You have to get picked up,' “ Lewis said about school officials.

Lewis, 16, was wearing a camouflage bandana holding her waist-length hair in a ponytail, a camouflage jacket over a camouflage T-shirt, and a pair of camouflage pants.

“I think she looks great,” said her mother, Bette Lewis, who bought her the outfit. “She always looks nice. She always matches everything.”

Lowell High Headmaster Bill Samaras said military gear is associated with some local gangs, and could disrupt students' safety and their learning environment.

“This has nothing to do with the military. We allow Reserve Officer Training Corps to wear military gear because they wear it in a respectful manner. It's the gang relation. If it's controversial or if it has gang associations, we won't have it,” Samaras said.

This bothers me on two fronts. First, I'm a Navy brat and I've been wearing my old man's dungaree cutoffs, field jackets, and old BDU's since I was about 12. I carried my schoolbooks in seabags, field packs and bags purchased overseas while the old man was on liberty. This was the style in the 80's as it is now, but even if it wasn't, I and my fellow brats would have done it anyway because it was a part of our subculture, just as much having gray blankets that say "US" folded at the foot of our beds and putting olive drab batteries in our Walkmans and boom boxes. By time we reached late elementary school age, these things were a source of pride for us, and our parents were usually hip to it.

God help any school administrator that told one of us we couldn't wear camo to school. The general attitude among our parents was "I didn't fight for my country in Vietnam (or wherever) just to come and have my kids told they can't express themselves." They may not have always understood our fashions, but most military parents respected them because they realized that long hair or denim jackets with spikes or hip hop gear were a source of pride for one's specific peer group and that they indicated that we were taking pride in our appearance. These were values that my dad at least wanted to instill, even if the aesthetics were different than what he was used to.

Second, this shows either supreme ignorance or supreme malevolence on the part of the admistrators regarding the culture of their students. Here's a quick lesson. Gang members tend to wear baggy khaki's, plain white shirts or gear from athletic teams, and of course, their colors. The reason that they wear that sort of thing is so they don't stand out, except as a member of their gang. They wear baggy pants, of course, to conceal weapons. But their clothing is plain and uniform in order to both blend in and to deny a usable description to the police. When a gangbanger holds up a liquor store or commits a driveby, and the cops ask for a description from the victim, what they get is "a black male, average height, average build, wearing khaki pants, and a white t-shirt," or "a hispanic male, average height, average build, wearing a plaid shirt and a blue headband". Of course when the cops in South Central LA or East Houston go to look for the suspect, they see about a hundred people matching that exact description. It's kind of like going to a heavy metal show and saying, "have you seen a guy with long hair and a black t-shirt?"

Camouflage, of course, defeats that purpose because it stands out. Sure it's designed to conceal and break up one's outline in the field, but as youth fashion in an urban or suburban environment it's supposed to stand out. That's why it's worn. Kid's wear camo because they want to look cool and identify with other kids who share the same sense of aesthetics and cultural identity. There's nothing wrong with that. It is, in fact, constitutionally protected free expression.

Of course part of the problem is ignorant administrators confusing gang culture with hip-hop culture. Hip Hop culture often includes camo and all black attire, but it also includes visual elements taken from gang culture, such as the extremely baggy pants. Regardless of what someone thinks of kids wearing baggy pants halfway down their asses (which I personally think looks stupid), it doesn't equate to being in a gang. Administrators are simply making a spurious connection that has no basis in fact.

To use their logic, I must be a gangster because I wore a pair of khaki's to my business casual office job the other day. Never mind I was also wearing a company polo shirt and some dressy moccasins, because khaki's are associated with gangs therefore I must be a gangster. It's a handy excuse for malevolent or racist administrators to persecute students they don't like.

But there's more.

In Winona, Minn., Students are being punished for wearing"Bondage Pants". Now before I post the text of the article, let me explain what the hell these things are because I know some of you are scratching your heads. Bondage pants are basicly baggy pants, usually black, with a lot of zippers and straps and shit hanging off of them. Supposedly they are used in BDSM sex play as you can use the straps to tie the wearer up. thus the term "bondage pants." Now, I know some people who are heavy into lifestyle BDSM and I've never seen them wear bondage pants. Those folks usually prefer leather. But regardless, these pants are common among goth, punk, and metal subcultures because they are usually black and they look cool.

Minn. high school bans 'bondage' pants
November 29, 2005

WINONA, Minn. --Winona Senior High School has prohibited students from wearing a certain style of baggy pants because of safety concerns.

"Bondage" pants -- pants with several straps that hook from each back pocket to the opposite pant leg -- were banned about a month ago. The school's dress code committee decided that students shouldn't wear any strap that could be unsafe, whether made from chain or fabric, said associate principal Jeff Sampson.

Although the straps haven't caused any injuries at the school, Sampson said they could possibly hook students onto something or someone and would be especially dangerous around shop class equipment.

Junior Ed Chick and his friends said the straps would rip off the pants once caught and most are too high off the ground for others to trip over.

Students said the new prohibition is aimed at groups who some label as "Goth" or "freak." They said teachers have been less stringent enforcing the dress code among students in other groups who wear skimpy blouses, T-shirts promoting alcohol or pants that show underwear.

"We've all been yelled at or called to the office," said junior Carl Schreiber, who was told he couldn't wear pants with cuffs 1.5 feet in diameter because he could conceal a gun in them or trip.

Sampson said about 15 students have agreed to remove the straps, and "a handful" were suspended after refusing.

"Safety concerns?" Bullshit!

That's a flimsy excuse if I ever heard one. Moreover, here we see the increasing mindset of punishing someone because something might happen, or worse, because of what someone else might do.

I'll tell you, I've seen these things worn at clubs and in some of the most ferverous mosh pits to have occured and not once have these caused a safety problem. They damn sure aren't a safety issue in a school setting.

This sort of ban is more common across the country since the Columbine shootings. Right after Columbine you saw lots of schools banning black trenchcoats or black gear in general. In fact chances are a lot of you reading this are young enough to have experienced this personally. Never mind that one of the things that drove the kids at Columbine to do what they did was that they were made pariahs by their teachers, administrators, and more "normal" peers because of the way they dressed. And again it's the guilty by association mindset. The guys that did the shooting were wearing black trenchcoats so any kid that wears a trenchcoat or even watches too many Matrix films must be a potential mass murderer.

But here's the worst one I've seen in a while:

In Jasper County, Georgia a student was suspended when he disabled and removed a camera that was taping in the school restroom!

A Jasper County mother says her 8th grade son found a video camera taping in the school bathroom this week. But now, he is the one in trouble.

Cindy Champion says her son, Mac Bedor, and a few of his friends took the camera out of the ceiling because they felt it violated their privacy. Champion says her son brought the camera home to show her that afternoon. She says when she contacted the Jasper County Comprehensive School, she found out high school principal, Howard Fore, put the camera there. She says Fore told her he put the camera in the boys' bathroom to catch students vandalizing. Champion says her son is now suspended for taking school property.


"I had told the high school principal, Mr. Fore, that he needed to come up with another solution. That this wasn't appropriate. His response to me was he was going to continue to film."

Jasper County Superintendent, Jay Brinson, sent a faxed response to Eyewitness News. Brinson says high school principal, Howard Fore, placed the camera in the bathroom last Sunday to control vandalism. He says Fore put the camera there "to discover the identity of those doing the damage." Brinson says the principal did tell Cindy Champion that the camera would be installed again. But in his statement Brinson says, "The camera was not placed back in the restroom, and will not be placed back in the restroom."

Eyewitness News tried to contact the Ocmulgee Circuit District Attorney about the legality of placing hidden cameras in public school rest rooms. He covers that area. Eyewitness News was not able to get in touch with him. But, Eyewitness News did talk with Bibb County District Attorney, Howard Simms. He says cameras in public school bathrooms are legal because schools have more leeway on privacy issues.

This is beyond outrageous! Normally, when someone is caught taping people in the bathrooom they are convicted of a sexual offense and registered as sex offenders in a public database. But here it's ok because the principle was trying to catch vandals? I don't think so!

Maybe the principle was trying catch someone in the act of vandalism. Or maybe, someone in this school's administration likes to get their jollies by watching young boys go to the restroom. Either way it's a completely unacceptable violation of basic privacy rights.

Those of you reading this who have children, how would you feel about a school administrator watching your children go to the bathroom? What would you do about it? How would you teach your kids to handle it? As a culture, we teach our children not to get in a car with strangers and not to give out personal information on the internet in order to keep them safe from sexual predators. Are we supposed to then lay that aside because the person operating the camera happens to be a school principle. Again, I don't think so. Or as we used to say when I was in the Navy, "not on my watch!"

Besides the persecution and selective enforcement that is common among these cases and many more like them, there is one common theme that I think cannot be ignored, and that is the wish and consent of the parents. The girl who got sent home for wearing camo was sent home against her mother's wishes. The mother bought the outfit for her child and encouraged her to wear it to school. The kid who was sent home because he wouldn't have someone taping him while he went to the restroom was punished (I refuse to apply the word "discipline" to a case like this) against his mother's wishes. The story about the bondage pants doesn't really mention parents' response, so I've got to wonder how many of these parents consented to this policy. I'm pretty sure that most of the parents bought these pants for their kids so that at least implies consent for their kids to wear them to school.

I seems like whenever I read a story like this, whether it's about a kid wearing a peace symbol on his shirt or a muslim girl wearing the hijab, the school policy is always at odds with the parents' wishes. Wasn't there a case in the late 80's where a father in Pasadena, Texas sued the school district because his boys were sent home for having long hair?

It seems like schools want to take the place of surrogate parents. As valuable as compulsory education is, the schools are most certainly not surrogate parents. Who gave teachers and administrators the right to determine how parents are going to raise their kids? While schools do have a certain supervisory responsibility, and while that responsibility comes with certain rights, the ultimate decision on what those rights are lies with the parents who send their children to school. The right of a parent to raise their child as they see fit is as fundamental as any basic human right in existence. It's not a privelage to be granted by a public institution to be revoked whenever that institution sees fit.

Moreover, American schools seem to be the primary battlefront for political indoctrination by those who want to take away our constitutional rights. It follows because children are impressionable that if someone wants to create an Orwellian society where children turn their parents into the State, then first they've got to get those kids to come around to the "correct" way of thinking.

Think of any contraversial issue involving Constitutional rights, or any rights for that matter. For every one I'll bet you'll see a corresponding effort to "educate" children on the subject, usually by those who want to take away those rights.

For instance with my personal pet issue, prohibition of alcohol, you've got MADD in schools teaching about the evils of booze, even though the kids aren't old enough to drive, much less drink legally. Same goes with legalization of marijuana and the legal issues that go with it, such as vehicle searches and drug screening. You've got constant, relentless conditioning on that issue and how bad "drugs" are.

Gun control? You've got "gun free zones" around schools. Constitutionally protected free speech? you've got schools banning attire and slogans left and right. Unreasonable search and seizure? How about the random locker sweeps and parking lot sweeps that happen all the time? Freedom of religion? Anyone remember "See You At The Pole"? Pick an amendment and you'll find someone trying to undermind it in our nation's schools.

It's not a coincidence, people.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ihre papieren bitte

So there's this lady in Colorado. She used to take the bus every day to get to work. The bus would go through some federal property. Some federal cops decided it was their prerogative to harrass the passengers on said bus.

When she refused to show her ID, she said, officers with the Federal Protective Service removed her from the bus, handcuffed her, put her in the back of a patrol car and took her to a federal police station within the Federal Center, where she waited while officers conferred. She was subsequently given two tickets and released.

You can click the link above to read the rest.

But there's more detail right here.

The Compliance Test
On Monday, September 26th 2005, Deb Davis headed off to work on the route 100 bus. When the bus got to the gates of the Denver Federal Center, a guard got on and asked her if she had an ID. She answered in the affirmative. He asked if he could see it. She said no.

When the guard asked why she wouldn't show her ID, Deb told him that she didn't have to do so. The guard then ordered her off the bus. Deb refused, stating she was riding a public bus and just trying to get to work.

The guard then went to call his supervisor, and returned shortly with a federal policeman. The federal cop then demanded her ID. Deb politely explained once again that she would not show her ID, and she was simply commuting to work. He left, returning shortly thereafter with a second policeman in tow.

The Second Compliance Test
This second cop asked the same question and got the same answer: no showing of ID, no getting off the bus.

The cop was also annoyed with the fact that she was on the phone with a friend and didn't feel like hanging up, even when he 'ordered' her to do so.

The second cop said everyone had to show ID any time they were asked by the police, adding that if she were in a Wal-Mart and was asked by the police for ID, that she would have to show it there, too.

She explained that she didn't have to show him or any other policeman my ID on a public bus or in a Wal-Mart. She told him she was simply trying to go to work.

The Arrest
Suddenly, the second policeman shouted "Grab her!" and he grabbed the cell phone from her and threw it to the back of the bus. With each of the policemen wrenching one of her arms behind her back, she was jerked out of her seat, the contents of her purse and book bag flying everywhere. The cops shoved her out of the bus, handcuffed her, threw her into the back seat of a police cruiser, and drove her to a police station inside the confines of the Denver Federal Center.

Once inside, she was taken down a hall and told to sit in a chair, still handcuffed, while one of the policemen went through her purse, now retrieved from the bus.

The two policemen sat in front of their computers, typing and conferring, trying to figure out what they should charge her with. Eventually, they wrote up several tickets, took her outside and removed the handcuffs, returned her belongings, and pointed her toward the bus stop. She was told that if she ever entered the Denver Federal Center again, she would go to jail.

She hasn't commuted by public bus since that day.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Anyone Remember This Guy?

Last year there was a story about a guy who lost his driver's license because he told his doctor he drank more than a six pack of beer per day.

Keith Emerich, 44, said yesterday he disclosed his drinking habit in February to doctors who were treating him for an irregular heartbeat.

"I told them it was over a six-pack a day. It wasn't good for me -- I'm not gonna lie," Emerich said in a telephone interview from his home in Lebanon, about 30 miles east of Harrisburg.

Emerich said he initially thought the license recall notice was a joke, but then hired an attorney when he said he couldn't get an explanation from the transportation agency.

"They want me to go to counseling to prove that I'm OK," Emerich said. "I tried to go to a place ... and they wanted $250 for a three-month program."

Well it turns out that after a year of legal wrangling, he can drive again if he installs a blood-alcohol measuring device in his car.

Keith Emerich, the Lebanon, Pa., man who lost his driver's license after telling his doctor he drinks 10 beers a day, is being allowed to drive again -- as long as he installs a blood-alcohol measuring device in his car, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Aug. 18.
"Just think of the stigma that's going to put on me, blowing into some tube just to start your car," said Emerich, 44. "This is how I'm being treated, like some common criminal. And all I did was go to the doctor."

Emerich had his license suspended by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot), after he went to Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon for an irregular heartbeat. When a physician inquired about his alcohol use, Emerich reported drinking six to 10 beers day. The doctor told Emerich that the alcohol was damaging his heart.

Two months later, Emerich received a letter notifying him that his license was being revoked based on the doctor's judgment that he has a drinking problem. Under Pennsylvania law, physicians are required to report drivers with medical conditions that could be potentially dangerous. Alcohol misuse is on the list of dangerous medical conditions.

Lebanon County Judge Bradford Charles supported PennDot's action and ordered Emrich to install the ignition interlock device, a breath test for alcohol that must register below 0.025 percent for the car will start.

"If Emerich's alcohol addiction had progressed to the point where he could not stop drinking even though it was killing him, how could we reasonably expect Emerich to forgo alcohol simply to ensure safe driving?" wrote Charles in his ruling.

"We're happy that it gives him a chance to drive, but the ruling doesn't answer the ultimate question: Why isn't he able to drive when he hasn't done anything wrong?" said lawyer Horace Ehrgood.

Emerich is responsible for the device's $1,000 cost. "I'm tapped out. I don't know what to do. I can't afford to keep this lawyer I have. I've already tapped into my 401(k) for all this," said Emerich. "But I guess it's do what they say or walk for a while."

So, not only can local Government take away your driver's license without a criminal conviction, or even an arrest for that matter, and not only do they require doctors to violate their patients' expectation of confidentiality, but now a citizen must pay thousands of dollars towards intrusive devices and "rehabilitaion" programs because he might someday commit a crime. Just what is that about?

Hat tip to Rowdydrunk79 on the Modern Drunkard forums.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pink License Plates For DUI Offenders

Why don't they just call it what it really is,...a scarlet letter.

CLEARWATER - -- A Bay area senator wants Floridians to think pink before they have a drink.

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, has filed a bill that would require "bright pink" license plates on vehicles driven by people with restricted driving privileges resulting from a conviction for driving under the influence.

"Maybe it will embarrass people and keep them from drinking and driving," Fasano said. "Maybe they'll think twice."

Filed Nov. 1, Senate Bill 538 calls for the first three characters on the pink license plate to read "DUI." The bill also says police "may stop any vehicle that bears a DUI plate without probable cause to check the driver."

If passed, Florida would join Ohio and Michigan as a state with a punitive license plate law for DUI offenders. Many states have considered similar legislation, including Tennessee this year, but most bills have died after debate about privacy issues.

"Pink plates would hold out individuals for punishment as well as ridicule. We are very opposed to it," said Larry Spalding, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in Florida.

So not only will people be more afraid to have a drink (remember you don't have to be drunk to get a DUI conviction), but they want to go ahead and circumvent due process yet again. If anybody complains, the US Supreme Court can always just rule a "DUI exception" like it has for every DUI case since 1983 or so.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

MADD Has Become Intolerable

Cross-posted to The House
Mad props to the folks at the Moderd Drunkard board.

Report: 50% of Arkansas 8th Graders Have Tried Alcohol
( Air Date: 11/4/2005 )

A compelling campaign launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services features a young woman at an alcoholics anonymous meeting, talking about her own future consequences from using alcohol.

"My name is Lisa and in 9 years, I will be an alcoholic,” says the girl. "I`ll start drinking in 8th grade and I`ll do some things I don`t really want to do."

The ad’s intended to be a wake up call for parents, urging them to start talking before they start drinking. According to a new report, 50% of Arkansas 8th graders have tried alcohol. 1 in 6 Arkansas youth have tried alcohol, starting at age 11.

"The first age of alcohol consumption is getting younger, and younger, and younger,” said Teresa Belew with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "This sets up children for a lifetime of addictive issues, as well as risky behavior."

The research also finds parents underestimate the extend alcohol is used by youth, because they assume it’s inevitable.

"2/3 of students surveyed say they`re getting it from the home,” said Belew. "It`s never too early to start talking to your child."

First of all, what in the motherfucking hell does this have to do with driving? It seems that Mothers Against Drunk Driving has decided to stop pretending that they are not really a neoprohibitionist organization that wants to indoctrinate children with their propaganda and subvert parental rights. They already want to take away parental custody so I guess it fits.

One poster on the MDM board said that MADD had come to their school and coerced their two sons into signing these pledges never to drink. We're talking ages 9 and 11. The poster said that the 11 year old flat refused to sign but the 9 year old was told he couldn't go to recess if he didn't sign the form.

Secondly, you got to love the reporting here:

A compelling campaign launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services features a young woman at an alcoholics anonymous meeting, talking about her own future consequences from using alcohol.

"My name is Lisa and in 9 years, I will be an alcoholic,” says the girl. "I`ll start drinking in 8th grade and I`ll do some things I don`t really want to do."

So much for objectivity. It seems to me like the folks at KARK are trying to sell this crap. It's pretty obvious the either they or NBC are in bed with MADD and their ilk. And I like how they refer to her as a "young woman", as if she were an adult, when she's apparently not even an eighth grader yet. This means at most she's 12 or 13. Like that's even old enough to know about whether or not she's going to be a drunk. Any other situation and she'd be referred to as a "child" or a "girl" and they'd have declared her age.

These people are brainwashing children into saying "I will be an alcoholic." Words fail me.

Monday, November 07, 2005


I was pondering the possibility of riots occuring in the US on the scale in which they're occurring in France. So far, the riots in France have been going on for 11 days now, and have expanded to 300 towns.

As I was pondering the possibility, the following words echoed in my brain:
A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The primary reasons these riots have had such longevity is that the French people do not have the inherent right to self-defense. Well, actually, they do, but it's been taken away from them by their government.

Case in point, in 1992, there were riots in Los Angeles following the Rodney King verdict. Angry people rioted, destroying homes, shops, cars, etc. The places left untouched by the rioters were the ones where the owners camped out on the roofs of their homes/shops/etc. with their firearms. Places that were not similarly protected were looted, smashed, or gutted with fire.

Despite the screed of the Brady Bunch and the other bedwetting gun grabbers, the right to keep and bear arms has proven time and again to be an effective tool in defense of life and property, and firearms have proven to be the most effective tool used in exercising that right.

I doubt France will realize this any time soon.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Eminent domain looks less imminent

House passes bill that could prevent private industry from using land seizures.
November 4, 2005: 7:27 AM EST
By Shaheen Pasha, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Legislation to put the kibosh on land developers seizing private property for private use is moving closer to enactment.

The House voted 376-38 Thursday to approve the Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2005 --a bill cosponsored by 98 members of Congress that would prohibit states and local communities that receive federal economic development to invoke eminent domain as a means for private industry to build private businesses. A companion measure has been introduced in the Senate.

Eminent domain, under the House bill, would only allow federal funds for economic development such as building roads and hospital, acquiring abandoned property and revitalizing a blighted area.

The House bill would also allow private property owners the right to sue the appropriate government entity if they were stripped of their land through the use of eminent domain and later found that the land was given to a private developer.
Bill could hamper big business

David Snyder, an eminent domain attorney and partner at Fox Rothschild LLP said any legislation would have a profound effect on business.

"Private developers will have to be very focused on the way they deal with development in blighted areas," he said. "If they were planning on homes, that may not be problem but if you're looking to not only increase residential properties in a community," but promote commerce by opening shopping malls and supermarkets, they may have a tough time meeting the new standards under the bill.

The controversial practice of eminent domain stoked a bipartisan fire in Congress after the Supreme Court ruled in June that local governments have the right to transfer property from homeowners to private developers to build properties such as residences or businesses that are ultimately deemed to be in the public's best interest by improving economic development.

In the landmark Supreme Court case, Kelo vs. City of New London, the Supreme Court said the City of New London was within its rights to condemn and seize the property of nine citizens and provide that land to Pfizer for a $300 million research facility, which was included in the city's new development plan.

That fanned widespread fear that retailers such as Wal-Mart (Research) or Target (Research) will convince local governments to expand the scope of public use to include commercial entities such as shopping malls or independent retail stores, making it easier for these businesses to expand into markets where there is little open space to build new stores.

Local governments have increasingly argued that the jobs creation and tax revenue generated by private industry projects are in the interest of local communities and therefore constitute public use.

Snyder said the legislation as it stands would make it impossible for another Kelo-type development in the future.
Critics see bill as overly broad

But opponents of the legislation say that the House bill is too broad in its definition of economic development and could halt important economic projects in cities and towns.

In a letter to the Senate, Hartford, Conn., Mayor Eddie Perez wrote that the definition of economic development in the bill "has been so broadly written it may ban the use of eminent domain in any project that creates jobs or improves the general economic health of our city."

He added that urban communities that are already fully built out need eminent domain for revitalization and federal funds are necessary to improve those cities.

Eminent domain supporters contend that local governments often have to partner with private entities for the ultimate benefit of the community.

And Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, director of policy and federal relations at the National League of Cities, said eminent domain as a general practice has been sparingly used by elected officials and accompanied by due process and just compensation for the seized property.

She added that the practice has been around for over 20 years without any indication of widespread abuse.

"There is no one-size-fits-all type of definition for economic development" she said. "This is a states' rights issue and the states, not the federal government, should be allowed to develop a working definition that takes into consideration the projects that are going on."

Despite protests, a change is expected to pass Congress. The House bill received the support of Bush administration Thursday, which said in a statement that "private property rights are the bedrock of the nation's economy and enjoy constitutionally protected status."

The legislation would, in essence, negate the Supreme Court's ruling on Kelo.

"Local governments may have won the battle in Kelo but they clearly are losing the war," Snyder said. "The backlash has been extreme and it's clear that once the dust settled, the pendulum has swung back in favor of property owner groups."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

First Amendment under assault - again.

Hat Tip: GayPatriot.

Here's the House roll call of Representatives who voted on the measure to exclude blogs from government regulations.

Notice that less than one-quarter of Democrats voted to uphold the concept of free speech on the internet.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"The filibuster's on the table"

After the Harriet Miers fiasco, President Bush has nominated federal appeals judge Samuel Alito as his choice to replace Justice O'Connor on the SCOTUS. Liberals and Democrats are gearing up their war machines. Let's look at why:
Republicans Enthusiastic About Alito

By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 20 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - The White House got the reaction it wanted out of its third Supreme Court nominee, federal appeals judge Samuel Alito: immediate acceptance from the conservatives who helped torpedo President Bush's previous pick.

But abortion rights Democrats are openly talking about trying to block the New Jersey jurist.

"The filibuster's on the table," Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer (news, bio, voting record) of California said as Alito headed back to Capitol Hill on Tuesday. Alito is courting Republicans crucial to his attempt to replace retiring Justice
Sandra Day O'Connor.

But Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said, "I don't think we should assume that's going to happen at all." He said Democrats needed to learn much more about Alito's values and beliefs on topics like the right to privacy, women's rights and the environment.

"I don't think we should race to a conclusion here," Durbin said on CBS' "The Early Show." "Ordinarily it takes six to eight weeks to evaluate a Supreme Court nominee. We shouldn't rush to judgment."

Bush nominated Alito to the Supreme Court on Monday as a substitute for White House counsel Harriet Miers, who withdrew last week after conservatives refused to support her. Some other critics also said she wasn't qualified.

But Alito found steadfast support after Bush announced his selection, with GOP senators saying he deserved a Senate confirmation vote and threatening to eliminate judicial filibusters if Democrats try to block the White House's newest high court nominee.

"If someone would filibuster ... I would be prepared to vote to change the rules," said Sen. Mike DeWine (news, bio, voting record), R-Ohio.

DeWine is one of the 14 centrist senators that Democrats need to sustain a filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee. Without the group's seven Republicans, Democrats would not be able to prevent Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., from abolishing judicial filibusters and confirming judges with just the Senate's 55-member Republican majority.

Under existing Senate rules, it takes up to 60 votes to end a filibuster and force a final vote.

The so-called "Gang of 14" will hold its first meeting on Alito on Thursday.

Frist said he's ready to move against judicial filibusters, using what Republicans call the "constitutional option," if Democrats force him to. "If a filibuster comes back, I'm not going to hesitate," he told "The Tony Snow Show" on Fox News.

Conservatives are much more comfortable with Alito than they were with Miers because of his conservative track record as a federal judge, prosecutor and a Reagan administration lawyer.

Miers had never been a judge.

The nomination got Bush on the good side again of conservative and anti-abortion groups, who declared Alito a winner after opposing Miers.

James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family Action, said he was "extremely pleased," and the anti-abortion Operation: Rescue declared that the country was on "the fast-track to derailing Roe v. Wade as the law of the land."

Bush, who has seen his standing eroded by the insurgency in Iraq, rising fuel prices, Hurricane Katrina mistakes, the indictment of a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney and Miers' nomination, emphasized Alito's work on "thousands of appeals" and "hundreds of opinions" when he introduced the candidate to the nation Tuesday.

"He has a deep understanding of the proper role of judges in our society," Bush said at the White House. "He understands that judges are to interpret the laws, not to impose their preferences or priorities on the people."

Alito pledged to uphold the duty of a judge to "interpret the Constitution and the laws faithfully and fairly, to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans, and to do these things with care and with restraint."

Democrats, however, are deeply suspicious of Alito, with Sen. Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record) of Nevada, the party's leader, wondering aloud "why those who want to pack the court with judicial activists are so much more enthusiastic about him" than Miers.

Alito upheld a requirement for spousal notification in an abortion case more than a decade ago, although Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter — an abortion rights Republican — insisted that doesn't mean Alito would rule to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established abortion rights.

Earlier this year, with O'Connor casting the deciding vote, the high court threw out a death sentence that Alito had upheld in the case of a man who argued that his lawyer had been ineffective.

Republicans, meanwhile, returned to their insistence that all judicial nominees deserve hearings and confirmation votes.

"I expect the Judiciary Committee to conduct a fair and dignified hearing in a timely manner, followed by an up or down vote by the Senate," said Sen. Charles Grassley (news, bio, voting record), R-Iowa, and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Bush's first nominee this year, John Roberts, is now chief justice.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Speaking of neoprohibitionism...

Single Glass of Wine Immerses D.C. Driver in Legal Battle

Now, come on... Do we REALLY believe DC is doing this to protect the precious lives of its citizens? Do we REALLY think DC cops are stopping drivers and forcing them to jump through hoops because they care about driver safety?

I vote "NO" on that one, boys and girls, and here's why:

Debra Bolton had a glass of red wine with dinner. That's what she told the police officer who pulled her over. That's what the Intoxilyzer 5000 breath test indicated -- .03, comfortably below the legal limit.

She had been pulled over in Georgetown about 12:30 a.m. for driving without headlights. She apologized and explained that the parking attendant must have turned off her vehicle's automatic-light feature.

Bolton thought she might get a ticket. Instead, she was handcuffed, searched, arrested, put in a jail cell until 4:30 a.m. and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

Bolton, 45, an energy lawyer and single mother of two who lives in Alexandria, had just run into a little-known piece of D.C. law: In the District, a driver can be arrested with as little as .01 blood-alcohol content.

As D.C. police officer Dennis Fair, who arrested Bolton on May 15, put it in an interview recently: "If you get behind the wheel of a car with any measurable amount of alcohol, you will be dealt with in D.C. We have zero tolerance. . . . Anything above .01, we can arrest."

Neither the police department nor the attorney general's office keeps detailed records of how many people with low blood alcohol levels are arrested. But last year, according to police records, 321 people were arrested for driving under the influence with blood alcohol levels below the legal limit of .08. In 2003, 409 people were arrested.

Although low blood alcohol arrests have been made in other states in conjunction with dangerous driving, lawyers, prosecutors and advocates of drunken driving prevention said they knew of no place besides the District that had such a low threshold for routine DUI arrests. In Maryland and Virginia, as in other states, drivers generally are presumed not to be intoxicated if they test below .05. Nationwide, .08 is the legal limit -- meaning a driver is automatically presumed to be intoxicated.

Fair acknowledged that many people aren't aware of the District's policy. "But it is our law," he said. "If you don't know about it, then you're a victim of your own ignorance."

Bolton said she didn't know. But defense lawyers who practice in the District do.

"Even one drink can get you in trouble in D.C.," said Thomas Key, a lawyer who successfully defended a client who had a blood alcohol level of .03. "They might not win a lot of these cases or prosecute them, but they're still arresting people."

Not many people fight the charge, said Richard Lebowitz, another defense lawyer, because the District offers a "diversion program" of counseling for first-time offenders.

"If diversion is offered and accepted, there's a guarantee that the charges will be dropped," Lebowitz said. "If you go to court and try to prove your innocence, it's a coin-flip. So most people choose diversion."
Bolton didn't. She balked at the $400 fee and the 24 hours of class time required to attend the "social drinker" program.

"I think it would have been fine if I'd done something wrong, but I didn't," she said. "I had a glass of wine with dinner." ...

You can read the rest for yourself. But needless to say...

"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."
--Ayn Rand

Monday, October 10, 2005

Damn Right It's Neoprohibition!

Sorta crossposted, with just a bit more color, to The House.

Mad props, or should I say MADD props to Fox News. Also I want to give props to my people at the Modern Drunkard board for the link.

The Supreme Court gave its OK to the road blocks in 1992, despite conceding that they may violate the Fourth Amendment. Former Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote that the threat to public health posed by drunk drivers was reason enough to set aside concerns about searches without probable cause. Given that they're usually publicized, the primary effect of these roadblocks is to deter social drinkers. The hard-drinkers, the real threats to highway safety, know to avoid them.

Sure enough, after former President Clinton signed .08 into law in 2000, drunk driving fatalities began to inch upward again — after two decades of decline — suggesting that the real drunk drivers were successfully avoiding the roadblocks. Thankfully, fatalities fell again last year, but that hardly proves MADD correct — deaths continued to go up in those states that employ sobriety roadblocks. The corresponding fall in fatalities in states that refuse to use the roadblocks more than made up the difference, suggesting that, freed from roadblock duty, law enforcement was able to work more effectively to catch drunk drivers.

Nice little dig at Clinton there, although I can't say I disagree. But the danger with an article like this, be it on Fox News or CNN, is that it would apply partisan spin to what is probably the only issue where both parties are in agreement for one reason or another. In other words, the "socialist" Left wants to take your hooch away just as much as the "religious" Right. They have truly got their shit together on this and the taxpayer, as well as the responsible, casual drinker gets caught in the middle.

MADD has also worked to undermine the criminal protections of accused drunk drivers — protections routinely granted to accused murderers, rapists and other felony crimes. MADD, for example, has pushed to impose tougher penalties on motorists who refuse to take roadside breath tests than on those who take them and fail — effectively turning the Fifth Amendment on its ear. The organization also favors "administrative license revocation," which means the revocation of the driver's licenses and, in some cases, the confiscation of the vehicles, of those accused of drunken driving before they're ever given a trial.

The organization is also pushing the widespread use of ignition interlock devices, in which a driver must blow into a tube to start his car, then blow again every 20 minutes or so while driving. Washington state recently passed a law allowing judges to mandate the devices in the cars of people merely accused of drunk driving, not convicted. And the states of New Mexico and New York have both considered legislation that would require the devices in every car sold in-state. The New Mexico bill is stalled in the state senate after being passed by the house. The New York bill was initially killed, but it gains more votes each time its determined sponsors reintroduce it.

MADD is also pushing its agenda onto family laws, including a zero tolerance policy for divorced parents. Under the bills MADD is trying to push through state legislatures, a parent caught consuming one beer or glass of wine before driving could face penalties that, according to MADD, "should include, but are not limited to" — "incarceration," "change of primary custody," or "termination of parental rights." This means that if you take your kid to the game, have a beer in the third inning, then drive home, you could very well lose your rights as a father.

What started out as a legitimate organization that has been initially successful, has now begun to tread down a road that only leads to the further erosion of our rights. We don't have to fear the coming of neoprohibition. It's already here!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Dominoes Keep Falling

Hmmmmm. More Ramifications from Kelo.

Landowners must yield to ballpark
By Tim Lemke
October 6, 2005

The District will begin using eminent domain to acquire parcels of land at the site of the Washington Nationals' ballpark by the end of this month, after unsuccessful negotiations with nearly half of the landowners.

City officials said they expect to file court documents to take over at least some of the 21-acre site in the coming weeks and have $97 million set aside to buy the properties and help landowners relocate.

The city made offers to all 23 landowners on the site last month but received no response from 10.

"We think there are some that we'll have good-faith negotiations with," said Steve Green, director of development in the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. "There are some we haven't heard from at all."

Many property owners on the site said the city's offers are inadequate. Others are suing the city on the grounds that it has no right to use eminent domain to acquire land at the site, despite a Supreme Court ruling affirming the right of municipal governments to take private property for the purpose of economic development.

In April, the city notified property owners on the site that they would be required to move out by Dec. 31.

City officials said the District is on target to have title on all of the land by that date, but they don't expect to have full possession of the site until early next year, with construction on the $535 million stadium to begin in March. That would give the construction team, led by Clark Construction Group of Bethesda, about two years to build the ballpark in time for Opening Day of 2008.

Officials said that timetable remains realistic. Clark built the 80,000-seat FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins, in less time.

"Twenty-four months is not bad," Mr. Green said. "There's always the possibility of doing it in 22 or 23 months."

Meanwhile, the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission has been sparring with the new Anacostia Waterfront Corp. (AWC) on the location of ballpark parking.

The AWC, which the city created to promote development along the Anacostia River waterfront, said it prefers an underground parking garage beneath 600,000 to 800,000 square feet of office and retail development.

The commission said that would run up too many costs and take too long to build.

"We're not going to do it," said Mark Tuohey, chairman of the sports commission. "We don't care what they say. There's no money."

In order for parking to be built above ground, the commission must change a zoning requirement. A hearing before the zoning board on the issue is scheduled for Oct. 17, but could delay the process further. If the commission is denied a zoning change, it would have to turn to the D.C. Council for legislative permission or take the case to an appeals court.

"If we lose and it goes to the court of appeals, that takes years," said commission board member Linda Greenan. "That's not a good strategy."

Any discrepancy over development of the stadium site could affect ballpark financing negotiations, which have reached a sensitive stage.

"It could cause confusion on Wall Street, which is exactly where we don't want it right now," said John Ross, a special adviser for the city's chief financial officer and a commission board member.

City officials insist on below-ground parking because it would fit with plans for a retail and entertainment district near the ballpark. They are considering removing parking entirely from the cost of the stadium and paying for it separately, using tax-increment financing or other revenue streams.

Mr. Green said the debate over parking is not delaying completion of a lease agreement for the stadium, which Major League Baseball says must be finalized before it announces the Nationals' new owner.

"There's no real holdup," Mr. Green said. "It's just a very complicated document."

Monday, October 03, 2005

Domino Theory Alive and Well

Florida city considers eminent domain

Florida's Riviera Beach is a poor, predominantly black, coastal community that intends to revitalize its economy by using eminent domain, if necessary, to displace about 6,000 local residents and build a billion-dollar waterfront yachting and housing complex.
    "This is a community that's in dire need of jobs, which has a median income of less than $19,000 a year," said Riviera Beach Mayor Michael Brown.
    He defends the use of eminent domain by saying the city is "using tools that have been available to governments for years to bring communities like ours out of the economic doldrums and the trauma centers."
    Mr. Brown said Riviera Beach is doing what the city of New London, Conn., is trying to do and what the U.S. Supreme Court said is proper in its ruling June 23 in Kelo v. City of New London. That decision upheld the right of government to seize private properties for use by private developers for projects designed to generate jobs and increase the tax base.
    "Now eminent domain is affecting people who never had to deal with it before and who have political connections," Mr. Brown said. "But if we don't use this power, cities will die."
    Jacqui Loriol insists she and her husband will fight the loss of their 80-year-old home in Riviera Beach.
    "This is a very [racially] mixed area that's also very stable," she said. "But no one seems to care ... Riviera Beach needs economic redevelopment. But there's got to be another way."
    In the Kelo ruling, a divided Supreme Court held that private development offering jobs and increased tax revenues constituted a public use of property, but the court held that state legislatures can draft eminent-domain statutes to their satisfaction.
    Dana Berliner, senior lawyer with the Institute for Justice, which represented homeowners in the Kelo case, said "pie in the sky" expectations like those expressed by Mr. Brown are routine in all these cases.
    "They always think economic redevelopment will bring more joy than what is there now," she said. "Once someone can be replaced so something more expensive can go where they were, every home and business in the country is subject to taking by someone else."
    Last week, the Riviera Beach City Council tapped the New Jersey-based Viking Inlet Harbor Properties LLC to oversee the mammoth 400-acre redevelopment project.
    "More than 2,000 homes could be eligible for confiscation," said H. Adams Weaver, a local lawyer who is assisting protesting homeowners.
Viking spokesman Peter Frederiksen said the plan "is to create a working waterfront," adding that the project could take 15 years and that "we would only use condemnation as a last resort."
    Viking has said it will pay at least the assessed values of homes and businesses it buys.
    Other plans for the project include creation of a basin for megayachts with high-end housing, retail and office space, a multilevel garage for boats, a 96,000-square-foot aquarium and a manmade lagoon.
    Mr. Brown said Riviera Beach wants to highlight its waterfront.
    "We have the best beach and the most attractive redevelopment property anywhere in the United States," he said.
    Mr. Frederiksen said people with yachts need a place to keep and service them. "And we want to develop a charter school for development of marine trades."
    Mr. Brown and others said this could be one of the biggest eminent-domain actions ever. A report in the Palm Beach Post said it is the biggest since 1954, when 5,000 residents of Washington were displaced for eventual development of the Southwest D.C. waterfront, L'Enfant Plaza, and the less-than-successful Waterside Mall.
    The fact that Riviera Beach is so financially downtrodden may seem ironic because as Mr. Brown notes "it sits right across the inlet from Palm Beach," one of the nation's wealthiest areas.
    "Palm Beach County is the largest county east of the Mississippi, and we have the second-highest rate of poverty in the county," the mayor said.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Second thoughts now the heat is on?

New London Mulls Timing of Property Seizure
Tuesday, September 27, 2005

One of the Supreme Court's most controversial recent decisions is playing out in New London, Conn., where homeowners whose property the city wants to take for commercial use now find themselves on the receiving end of some conflicting signals.

The people who live in the houses set for seizure by the New London Development Corporation have gotten their notices to move, saying residents must vacate by Dec. 8. But now, the mayor of New London says the letter to vacate should not have been sent out.

"They jumped the gun and their attitude has been jumping the gun a lot and this was like the frosting on the cake," said Mayor Jane Glover.

The eviction notices were allowed when the Supreme Court ruled in Kelo et. al. v. City of New London that the city can seize private property for economic development projects like hotels and office space. The decision was heavily criticized.

The New London City Council has also voted "no confidence" in the Development Corporation and has demanded the agency's president be fired. But none of the recent events has changed the city council's decision to seize the property.

Glover said she still wants the tenants and property owners gone, but only after more bargaining.

"There are 90 acres there to be developed, seven people, maybe 15 dwellings are keeping that economic development from going on," Glover said. "The Supreme Court has given us the authority to just go in with a bulldozer, but I don't think the state of Connecticut or us particularly want to do that, not just because of the tenants but it's just not good politics. We were hoping the people would buy out."

But Richard Beyer, who owns two houses, is fuming.

"This hasn't been about money. This has been about them bullying us around and stripping us of our right to own property," he said.

Although the Supreme Court has ruled for the city, Beyer said he would not yield.

"All of America needs to stand up for their constitutional right to hold their property without a private corporation moving in and kicking them out of their homes for private gain," Beyer said.

With the New London Development Corporation now in turmoil, Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell is getting involved to broker a deal in anticipation of what could be a nasty end to this ongoing debate.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


New London homeowners slapped with eviction notices
Despite Connecticut governor's moratorium on eminent domain, city pushes vacate order

Posted: September 12, 2005
10:50 p.m. Eastern

By Joseph Farah
© 2005

WASHINGTON – Despite Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell's suggested moratorium on eminent domain cases in the state, pending the consideration of new legislation restriction property seizures by local governments, the city of New London has issued eviction notices to homeowners who lost their case before the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark Kelo v. the City of New London ruling.

"They have sent us eviction letters and have given us 90 days to vacate," homeowner Michael Cristofaro told WND. "As further insult to injury, they are requiring us to send them $600-a-month rent."

He said the city officials are apparently persuaded the Supreme Court ruling last June is all they need to proceed with their plans to transfer the properties to a private party for development of an office complex.

Cristofaro said he has attempted to contact two members of the city council to see if they are aware of the plans and approve of them.

In the highly controversial Supreme Court decision, the justices ruled 5-4 that the economic development and increased tax revenue resulting from the eminent domain action qualified as "public use" under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.

Though the practice of eminent domain is provided for in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, this case is significant because the seizure is for private development and not for "public use," such as a highway or bridge. The decision has been roundly criticized by property-rights activists and limited-government commentators.

The city has previously threatened the homeowners with demands for back rent dating to 2000. Officials say that since they won the case, the homeowners actually have been living on city property for the last five years since they first began condemnation procedures.

In addition, buyout offers were based on the market rate in 2000, before most of the growth in the current real-estate bubble.

The New London Development Corporation, the semi-public organization hired by the city to facilitate the deal, first addressed the rent issue in a June 2004 letter to residents, calling the alleged debt retroactive "use and occupancy" payments.

The Kelo case, named after Susette Kelo, who owns a single-family house in New London with her husband, has ignited a national uproar.

One Los Angeles advertising entrepreneur, Logan Darrow Clements, has spearheaded a campaign to have the city of Weare, N.H., condemn Souter's property, a modest 200-year-old farmhouse on eight acres, in retaliation for his vote approving the seizure of homes in connection with the case.

Clements plans to create on Souter's land the "Lost Liberty Hotel," a kind of museum commemorating the lost right to private property in America.

Because the Board of Selectmen of Weare has rejected Clements' request to condemn the property, Darrow hopes to use a ballot initiative to do the job.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

RIP Justice Rehnquist

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist died on Saturday at his home in Arlington, Virginia, after battling thyroid cancer since October, a court spokeswoman said.

Rehnquist, 80, had experienced "a precipitous decline in his health in the last couple of days," and died in the evening surrounded by his three children, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.

Rehnquist's death creates a second opening on the court, following the announced retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Leaving tonight

Well, ladies and gentlemen - you knew it would happen sometime. I have been activated, and I am deploying to Louisiana in support of efforts to help the victims of the hurricane.

Obviously, I won't be keeping a blog during that time. Hell, I'm not even sure I'll have electricity or cell service.

Keep your chins up.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Blogger Relief Day

Via Malkin.

Hugh Hewitt is suggesting a Blogger Relief Day for the citizens of New Orleans.

Check out his blog for more details.

Monday, August 22, 2005

So long, private property rights

I meant to post this earlier, but an emergency trip to New Orleans got in the way.

It seems our government has decided that citizens do not have the right to defend their property. In the case outlined below, a court ruled that a ranch owner had to surrender his property to illegal immigrants. Let's see what NYT has to say about it:

August 19, 2005

Two Illegal Immigrants Win Arizona Ranch in Court Fight

DOUGLAS, Ariz., Aug. 18 - Spent shells litter the ground at what is left of the firing range, and camouflage outfits still hang in a storeroom. Just a few months ago, this ranch was known as Camp Thunderbird, the headquarters of a paramilitary group that promised to use force to keep illegal immigrants from sneaking across the border with Mexico.

Now, in a turnabout, the 70-acre property about two miles from the border is being given to two immigrants whom the group caught trying to enter the United States illegally.

The land transfer is being made to satisfy judgments in a lawsuit in which the immigrants had said that Casey Nethercott, the owner of the ranch and a former leader of the vigilante group Ranch Rescue, had harmed them.

"Certainly it's poetic justice that these undocumented workers own this land," said Morris S. Dees Jr., co-founder and chief trial counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which represented the immigrants in their lawsuit.

Mr. Dees said the loss of the ranch would "send a pretty important message to those who come to the border to use violence."

The surrender of the ranch comes as the governors of Arizona and New Mexico have declared a state of emergency because of the influx of illegal immigrants and related crime along the border.

Bill Dore, a Douglas resident briefly affiliated with Ranch Rescue who is still active in the border-patrolling Minuteman Project, called the land transfer "ridiculous."

"The illegals are coming over here," Mr. Dore said. "They are getting the American property. Hell, I'd come over, too. Get some American property, make some money from the gringos."

The immigrants getting the ranch, Edwin Alfredo Mancía Gonzáles and Fátima del Socorro Leiva Medina, could not be reached for comment. Kelley Bruner, a lawyer at the law center, said they did not want to speak to the news media but were happy with the outcome.

Ms. Bruner said that Mr. Mancía and Ms. Leiva, who are from El Salvador but are not related, would not live at the ranch and would probably sell it. Mr. Nethercott bought the ranch in 2003 for $120,000.

Mr. Mancía, who lives in Los Angeles, and Ms. Leiva, who lives in the Dallas area, have applied for visas that are available to immigrants who are the victims of certain crimes and who cooperate with the authorities, Ms. Bruner said. She said that until a decision was made on their applications, they could stay and work in the United States on a year-to-year basis.

Mr. Mancía and Ms. Leiva were caught on a ranch in Hebbronville, Tex., in March 2003 by Mr. Nethercott and other members of Ranch Rescue. The two immigrants later accused Mr. Nethercott of threatening them and of hitting Mr. Mancía with a pistol, charges that Mr. Nethercott denied. The immigrants also said the group gave them cookies, water and a blanket and let them go after an hour or so.

The Salvadorans testified against Mr. Nethercott when he was tried by Texas prosecutors. The jury deadlocked on a charge of pistol-whipping but convicted Mr. Nethercott, who had previously served time in California for assault, of gun possession, which is illegal for a felon. He is now serving a five-year sentence in a Texas prison.

Mr. Mancía and Ms. Leiva also filed a lawsuit against Mr. Nethercott; Jack Foote, the founder of Ranch Rescue; and the owner of the Hebbronville ranch, Joe Sutton. The immigrants said the ordeal, in which they feared that they would be killed by the men they thought were soldiers, had left them with post-traumatic stress.

Mr. Sutton settled for $100,000. Mr. Nethercott and Mr. Foote did not defend themselves, so the judge issued default judgments of $850,000 against Mr. Nethercott and $500,000 against Mr. Foote.

Mr. Dees said Mr. Foote appeared to have no substantial assets, but Mr. Nethercott had the ranch. Shortly after the judgment, Mr. Nethercott gave the land to his sister, Robin Albitz, of Prescott, Ariz. The Southern Poverty Law Center sued the siblings, saying the transfer was fraudulent and was meant to avoid the judgment.

Ms. Albitz, a nursing assistant, signed over the land to the two immigrants last week.

"It scared the hell out of her," Margaret Pauline Nethercott, the mother of Mr. Nethercott and Ms. Albitz, said of the lawsuit. "She didn't know she had done anything illegal. We didn't know they had a judgment against my son."

This was not the first time the law center had taken property from a group on behalf of a client. In 1987, the headquarters of a Ku Klux Klan group in Alabama was given to the mother of a boy whose murder was tied to Klansmen. Property has also been taken from the Aryan Nations and the White Aryan Resistance, Mr. Dees said.

Joseph Jacobson, a lawyer in Austin who represented Mr. Nethercott in the criminal case, said the award was "a vast sum of money for a very small indignity." Mr. Jacobson said the two immigrants were trespassing on Mr. Sutton's ranch and would have been deported had the criminal charges not been filed against Mr. Nethercott.

He criticized the law center for trying to get $60,000 in bail money transferred to the immigrants. While the center said the money was Mr. Nethercott's, Mr. Jacobson said it was actually Ms. Nethercott's, who mortgaged her home to post bail for her son.

Mr. Nethercott and Mr. Foote had a falling out in 2004, and Mr. Foote left Camp Thunderbird, taking Ranch Rescue with him. Mr. Nethercott then formed the Arizona Guard, also based on his ranch.

In April, Mr. Nethercott told an Arizona television station, "We're going to come out here and close the border with machine guns." But by the end of the month, he had started his prison sentence.

Now, only remnants of Camp Thunderbird remain on his ranch, a vast expanse of hard red soil, mesquite and tumbleweed with a house and two bunkhouses. One bunkhouse has a storeroom containing some camouflage suits, sleeping bags, tarps, emergency rations, empty ammunition crates, gun parts and a chemical warfare protection suit.

In one part of the ranch, dirt is piled up to form the backdrop of a firing range. An old water tank, riddled with bullet holes, is on its side. A platform was built as an observation post on the tower that once held the water tank.

Charles Jones, who was hired as a ranch hand about a month before Mr. Nethercott went to prison, put up fences and brought in cattle to graze. He has continued to live on the property with some family members.

But now the cattle are gone, and Mr. Jones has been told that he should prepare to leave. "It makes me sick I did all this work," he said.

Ms. Nethercott said she was not sure whether her son knew that his ranch was being turned over to the immigrants, but that he would be crushed if he did.

"That's his whole life," she said of the ranch. "He'd be heartbroken if he lost it in any way, but this is the worst way."

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Rubbing salt into the wounds

This past June saw a gross travesty of justice known as Kelo v. New London handed down to us by the Supreme Court. In accordance with Kelo, local government may now seize private property and give it to whomever they damn well please, so long as they do it under the vaguely defined guise of "public good." In this case, "public good" translates into "more tax revenue."

To make matters worse for the plaintiffs in the Kelo lawsuit, the city of New London is charging them rent dating back to the time the land was condemned, going all the way back to 2000.
'I'd leave here broke'

Chutzpah is a Yiddish word meaning brazen arrogance. The cliché example is a man who murders his parents and then begs a judge for mercy because he is an orphan.

The city of New London, Conn., deserves a chutzpah award. In 2000, it condemned 15 homes so a developer could build offices, a hotel and convention center. Susette Kelo and her neighbors spent years in a legal battle that culminated in June, when the
U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against them.

That was painful enough. But while the homeowners were battling in court, New London was calculating how much "rent" they owe for living in the houses they were fighting to save. (The city's development corporation gained title to the homes when it condemned them, though the owners refused to sell and haven't collected a cent.)

The homeowners could soon be served with eviction notices, which is justified by the court ruling. But the rent is something else. For some, it comes to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Kelo, whose name is on the landmark case, could owe $57,000. "I'd leave here broke," she told the Fairfield County Weekly. "I could probably get a large-size refrigerator box and live under the bridge."

In a letter to the homeowners' lawyer a year ago, the development corporation justified its behavior by saying, "We know that your clients did not expect to live in city-owned property for free."

Well, they might have expected not to be bullied for exercising their right to be heard in court.

News of the city's heavy handed tactics should add to the unusual national backlash that has followed the Supreme Court's ruling. The court said state and local governments can seize homes, not just for a public purpose such as building roads or schools, but also for someone else's private profit if the city's economic future is at issue.

The court said states can curtail abuses, and legislatures have rushed to do that. Delaware and Alabama passed laws barring the taking of private property for economic development. Similar measures are pending in eight other states and Congress.

The bills have created some strange alliances. Conservatives worry about the loss of property rights. Liberals say the seizures amount to corporate welfare at the expense of low- and middle-income homeowners who lack the power to fight City Hall.

In response, Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell is urging a compromise that would preserve the homes of Kelo and her neighbors.

Unless that happens, they will be evicted - with a rent due. Talk about chutzpah.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Thanks, everyone

First of all, I would like to thank everyone for their well-wishes, support, and prayers regarding my sister.

Sadly, they have all been in vain.

After a series of bone scans, CAT scans, and MRI's, we have learned the true extent of the spread of cancer. In addition to the breast cancer and the bone cancer, which we already know about, there have been additional complications. The cancer has spread to the lymphatic system, to the spinal cord, and to the liver. According to the doctors, the prognosis is terminal. At this point, it's just a matter of time.



I would like to apologize for the sparcity of posts lately - especially on my end. Between work, school, and what seems like one family crisis after another, some things just had to be put on the back burner. Sadly, this blog is one of those things I had to put aside for the time being. Even my own blog has suffered from very light posting.

Rest assured, things will be returning to some semblence of normalcy in the very near future. Thanks for your patience.


Monday, August 08, 2005

Kelo's Implications Are Horrendous

Interesting commentary from Paul Craig Roberts on further potential dangers of the Kelo decision. Cross posted at the Liberty Zone.

Here's an exerpt:

In 1981, General Motors used eminent domain against the Detroit ethnic suburb of Poletown. To make space for a GM assembly plant, 1,400 homes, 140 businesses and several churches were destroyed. Today, the exemplar of this practice is Wal-Mart.

What if Poletown had been a Chrysler plant that GM wanted to eliminate as a competitor? Under the Kelo ruling, if GM could show that its cars are more successful and produce higher taxable profits than Chrysler's, and the eminent domain authority is not in Chrysler's pocket, GM could prevail.

Today, Toyota, for example, could seek to condemn Ford's River Rouge plant, which is known to be largely obsolete, in order to obtain the site for its own economic use. There appears to be nothing in Kelo to prevent this outcome.

Note some of the implications: According to economic theory, monopoly profits are higher than competitive profits. Kelo becomes a way to get around antitrust laws and increase concentration in the name of public benefit.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Dis Me Getting All Huhu

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has just reversed a 1993 Federal Court ruling which upheld the right of Kamehameha Schools to admit only ethnic Hawaiian students. According to the 9th Circuit Court, the Hawaiians only policy represents unlawful racial discrimination.

I disagree, but not for the reasons you might think.

Some people feel that ethnic Hawaiians, like many indigenous people, Native Americans, etc., are entitled to a break. The Kamehameha Schools represent a relatively low cost, high quality option for a people who were exploited in the past and may not have had many options. Arguably, that was true when Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop founded the schools to meet a specific need within a specific historical context. Whether it remains true in modern times is a debate that I'm reallly not interested in.

Moreover, many would argue that opportunities exist for non-Hawaiian students in Hawaii which are just as valid. Case in point is the equally prestigious Punahou School, which is open to all ethnic groups on Oahu and in the past has been an opportunity for folks who were neither native Hawaiians nor of white missionary stock. These days they will give special consideration to ethnic Hawaiians, but are equal opportunity, according to their website. Again, That's not a debate that I care to address.

I mean really, I'm a brat which means my haole ass went to Radford, so screw 'em. ;)

But that's not what bothers me. What bothers me is that Kam is a private school. Did you catch that? I said private, son! And as a private school they ought to be able to admit whoever the hell they want to admit for whatever reason they see fit. They should be able to hang a big sign in front of their Kapalama Campus that says "Kanakas only! All Haoles, Pakes, BukBuks, Portugee, Japanee, and Popolos stay away and sully us not with your non-ethnic-Hawaiian stench," should they choose to do so. Granted that would be overtly racist and bad for enrollment, but as a private school they at least should have the legal right to do so.

Since when does a Federal court get to tell a private organization what to do? That's what this really boils down to. If it were a public school such as Radford, McKinney, or Castle (all considered good schools on the island, at least as far as public schools go), that'd be a different story.

This is not Brown V. Board.

Is there an inverse to taxation without representation? Because that's what this sounds like. The Kam schools are funded partially by tuition, for which financial aid is available, partially by money from Princess Pauahi's estate, and partially by lease revenue, as the Kam Schools represent the largest private landowner in the State of Hawaii. So taxpayers didn't pay for this, but the Government (through the 9th Circuit Court) is going and tell them how to run things anyway? What's that about?

So do we now as citizens no longer have the right to determine how our private money is spent?

EDIT: As I was posting this, a coworker came up and saw "Kamehameha" highlighted in blue and asked me if I was writing about Dragonball Z. Apparently, there is a character in Dragonball Z named Kamehameha and my coworker goes, "you mean there's a Kamehameha besides the one in Dragonball Z?" This was a grown man that asked me this!


No wonder our rights are being taken away. We are too damned culturally illiterate to know a damn thing about anything!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

23 Days Late

(Cross-Posted at Memento Moron)

I have for some time found myself at a loss as to which modern American political movement closest matches my own beliefs, political views, and philosophies. I understand that it is more and more common, as well as admirable, for individuals to eschew party names or other labels in favor of voting their conscience. While this is an excellent way of applying your beliefs to your voting habits and to choices you make that affect political outcomes, it can become time-consuming in discussions to have to explain just what your beliefs are. Thus, it is often more efficient to identify yourself with a particular party or movement in general, and divulge any variations from that norm only when they are germane to the conversation. This becomes more problematic the more eclectic ones beliefs, I suppose. But I digress. Well, only just a little. The point is that while I find myself agreeing quite frequently with particular parties or movements, there have been numerous occasions where I’ve had to make exceptions to my support or agreement.

Over the course of the last year (wow, I’ve been doing this a year!), while expressing my own views on this blog, I’ve read the comments by my readers, and I’ve read other blogs and the comments by their readers, and in doing so, have learned more about politics and political theories and history than I ever knew before. And while I’m still a novice in such things, I feel confident in saying that I now understand my OWN political views better.

There was a time when I was a staunch modern conservative. This was as a very young person, and was mostly influenced by my family upbringing. During my college and early adult years, I was strongly influenced by opinions and attitudes within the culture of Christian Missionaries, which is what I aspired to be. This led to an odd mix of beliefs all based on what I perceived to be sound biblical doctrine, and I suppose you could say I was socially conservative, fiscally liberal, and a dove with regard to foreign policy. The High Water Mark for my adherence to these positions was in

Churchill’s comment about the effects of age on ones politics certainly rang true in my case, and as time wore on and I began to think out certain positions I held, I grew more hawkish and more fiscally conservative. On social issues, I found myself growing more conservative on some points and more liberal or moderate on others. Eventually I found myself once again firmly in what I believed to be the Republican camp (and, to be honest, that is the way I usually vote), though I found, and find, myself more in agreement with libertarians on some issues.

From there my understanding of my own views evolved to the point where I considered my self a constitutionalist. I believed, and for the most part still believe, that the Constitution was and should be the final benchmark for law in the United States.

But recently I found myself challenged – not to question my belief in the Constitution, but to question its exact place in my political philosophy. As I mentioned in an essay early on in my blogging days, my political views are still guided by my religious beliefs, as horrifying as that might be to some. The First Amendment was established, I believe, not to prevent an individual’s religious beliefs from having ANY effect on that individual’s political views, but rather to prevent organized religion from dictating public policy, and to prevent government from dictating religious doctrine. Therefore, I reject the Separation of Church and Brain.

This has put me in a dilemma with regards to my stance as a constitutionalist on several occasions, the most notable of which was the Schiavo case. Without launching into a separate debate on the merits of that case, for the purpose of THIS discussion, it must suffice that I believed I was helping to defend an innocent life in taking the stand I did on that occasion. In doing so, and in actively following the blogosphere’s discussion of the case, I was challenged by a post by Naked Villainy’s Smallholder, questioning the depth of commitment to the Constitution of Republican congressmen who were interfering in the case; and the depth of commitment to the Constitution of conservatives in general by their approval of these actions.

And while I’m not sure he was 100% right (not being as much of an expert in the Constitution as I am a believer), he did have a point, one I had to consider and finally concede, at least on my own behalf. In this case, I had to admit, I was willing to waver in my commitment to the constitution in order to remain firm in my commitment to defending life. I found myself further troubled when confronting the argument that the Federal Government was acting unconstitutionally in waging the Civil War, a war I believe achieved great good. This put me, you can imagine, in the unenviable position of once again needing to readjust exactly how I represented myself politically. Eventually I concluded that I still considered myself a constitutionalist, but what I call a Means Constitutionalist, as opposed to an Ends Constitutionalist. By that, of course, I mean that I believe that adherence to the Constitution is NOT the highest end of American Law, but rather, that the Constitution itself is the greatest means by which we strive to the highest ends of American Law. And what is that highest end?

For a very long time, in fact, ever since the days when I was an anti-abortion socialist-leaning pacifist, I held firm to a belief that in arguing the constitutional merits of any given policy or law, modern politicians were overlooking the importance of the Preamble to the Constitution. It was, and is, my belief that within the Preamble, the framers laid out exactly what end they intended to achieve, and in the rest of the Constitution, expounded on how to achieve it.

These are the ends of Law in the United States, and of the Constitution itself: Union, Justice, Domestic Tranquility, Common Defense, General Welfare, and Liberty. Any law that opposes those ends, whether technically adherent to the rest of the Constitution or not, should be opposed. Any law that promotes those ends, whether technically adherent to the rest of the Constitution or not, should be supported. The former should be rendered unconstitutional as quickly as possible, the latter rendered constitutional. But if the day ever comes when the Constitution ceases to uphold those ends, I will cease to be a constitutionalist. In short, my loyalty to the Constitution and to the United States is conditional upon their loyalty to the principles upon which they were founded.

How can I say such a thing? Sedition! Well, not yet. But sadly, the day may come when my words above would be seditious. So be it. For this belief of mine is based on another set of words that were, when coined, equally seditious. But you just said that the Constitution is the final authority on what the ends of our law are! No, I said that the Constitution, or specifically the Preamble, expresses what those ends ARE, and the rest of the Constitution expounds on how they’re to be achieved, but it is not the final AUTHORITY on what they are. Well, then, what or who is? I am. You are. We all are, individually and collectively.

It’s simple, really. With regards to the end of American government, the Constitution addresses almost all of the most important “5W/H” questions:

We the People of the United States

in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,

done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven

do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Notice the glaring omission?


At first blush, I thought that that was what the preamble was about. But I came to believe that the preamble explains WHAT we are setting out to do. But why do we want to form this more perfect union? Why bother creating this finely crafted, well-thought out document?

I finally concluded that the reason WHY, the authority and motivation behind the Constitution, could be found in a document several years older than the Constitution. And I have come to view THIS document as the authority on which rests the constitution. Of course, I am referring to the Declaration of Independence. Specifically, I believe the foundational concept, the authority upon which rests the entire US Constitution and government, is expressed in the following clause from the Declaration:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

...That’s it. That’s why we have a constitution, why we have THIS constitution. And the rest of that clause goes on to explain why I think it right and proper and altogether fitting to hold to the position I do, which is that I am a constitutionalist only as long as the Constitution achieves this end. Because I believe…

...That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.