Thursday, December 15, 2005

LP state convention may prove DANGEROUS!

ABC News reports that Royal Carribean Cruises are not so safe:

Monday, December 12, 2005

Bush says the Constitution is "Just a goddamned piece of paper!"

Apparently, our Great Leader, who claims to like "freedom," hates our Constitution, according to reports:

Monday, December 05, 2005

"Holiday Wars" Highlight Need for School Choice

While the First Amendment's Establishment Clause forbids government from promoting religion, that same amendment's Free Exercise Clause protects its open practice. The tension between these clauses is most evident during the "holiday season." How government resolves that tension is often confused, contradictory and discriminatory. And while it may be the opposite in the Bible Belt, here on the coasts, perhaps motivated by sensitivity to minority faiths, the bias is often against Christians.

On May 20, 1998, Catholic League president William Donahue testified before the US Civil Rights Commission that in "Manhat­tan Beach, California, a public school removed a Christmas tree from school property after a rabbi objected that the tree was a religious symbol; however, the school allowed the display of a Star of David. ... in Mahopac, New York, Boy Scout students were barred from selling holiday wreaths at a fundraiser, even though a wreath is a secular symbol; Hanukkah gifts, however, were allowed to be sold at the school's own fundraiser."

Yet government does not consistently regard Jewish symbols as secular. Donahue adds, "I confronted an attorney for New York City Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew regarding the practice of banning crèches in the schools while allowing menorahs. At first, she cited the 1989 County of Allegheny v. ACLU decision to buttress her case, but when I pointed out that that decision undermined her case--making the argument that the high court declared a menorah to be a religious symbol, not a secular one--she quickly retreated. Such ignorance strikes me as will­ful."

Adding to the confusion, US Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito is unconvinced that menorahs--or crèches--must be banned from state property. On July 1, 2005, the Washington Post re­ported that, while on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Alito "wrote for the majority in 1997 in finding that Jersey City officials did not violate the Constitution with a holiday display that included a creche, a menorah and secular symbols of the Christmas season."

But despite Alito's opinion, in a lawsuit against New York City's Department of Education, Andrea Skoros alleged that her sons were "coerced" into coloring menorahs at school, were taught the story of Hanukkah but not Christmas, and that their schools displayed menorahs, dreidels, Kwanzaa candelabras, wreaths, bells, Santa Claus, snowmen, and Islam's star and crescent (for Ramadan). Skoros requested that Nativity scenes be added to include Chris­tianity. School lawyers argued that, unlike menorahs and Islam's star and crescent, Nativity scenes did not represent a historical event. Newsday's Wil Cruz quoted Skoros as saying that her sons were "coerced to accept Judaism and Islam at the expense of their Catholic beliefs." On February 18, 2004, Brooklyn Federal Judge Charles Sifton upheld the holiday displays, ruling that Nativity scenes were "purely religious" whereas the others had "signifi­cant secular connotations."

Sifton's ruling illustrates an ominous Establishment Clause loophole. If government can declare some religious symbols and stories to be secular and historical, and others to be "purely religious," then government can allow favored religions to circumvent the Establishment Clause--much like African slaves' rights were circumvent­ed by declaring them to be "not persons."

One solution may be to declare that symbols that are in any way religious are religious, whatever else they may be, and hence treated the same as all other religious symbols. But that still leaves government in charge of interpreting the rules, and if government were an honest broker, and men were angels, we would­n't have so many contentious school board elections or lawsuits to begin with.

A better solution may be to avoid such conflicts altogether by reinforcing "separation of church and state" with "separation of education and state." School vouchers would be a start, em­powering low-income parents to choose whether to send their children to a religious school, or multi-religious school, or secular school. Right now, parents sending children to private schools must pay twice; taxes for public school and tuition for private school. That's hardly fair.

Those opposing school vouchers have argued that they don't want their taxes promoting religion. Andrea Skoros may say that public schools are no guarantee that that won't happen.

In private life one can celebrate--or not--as one wishes, and protest or boycott businesses one feels slighted by. You vote with your wallet. Let's extend that vote to low-income parents seeking to educate their children.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Why They Hate Us

The conservative London Telegraph reports that a "trophy video" shows private contractors (aka, mercenaries) in Iraq shooting Iraqi civilians at random:

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Save Christmas

Christmas is becoming a holiday that "dare not speak its name." So I've created some tools to help people (should they wish) to speak its name (I especially like the buttons:

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day Tragedy -- Our Forgotten Vets

Shocking tale of how America treats its oldest veteran:

Friday, October 21, 2005

My Libertarian Party Cruise Convention Concerns

I'd like to raise some questions regarding the upcoming cruise, which some on this list may be able to answer.

(First off, just for the record, I am ambivalent about the cruise. Undecided as to whether it's a good idea.)

But here's some issues I worry about:

* TIME FACTOR. At our last state convention, many resolutions submitted by the Platform Committee and Program Committee never made it to a floor vote, because of lack of time.

I later heard grumbling from some delegates that other delegates had intentionally delayed the floor votes by raising endless trivial questions and objections and suggestions. This was because these delegates feared they would lose the vote, so they killed resolutions by preventing them from coming to a vote.

This is not good. Delegates should have the opportunity to vote on every resolution, and not lose that opportunity due to the clock.

Now I see that during this cruise we'll only have one day for business. Partially, I suppose, because people want to have fun on a cruise. Which means still less time for business. Not good.

* QUORUM FACTOR. A few times at the last convention it looked as though there may not be enough delegates on the floor for a quorum. In which case, no business could get done.

Apparently, many delegates kept wandering off to attend hotel convention events.

On a cruise, there'll be many more events to compete for delegates' attention (and please don't assume that won't happen just because there'll only be one day of business).

What if more delegates than usual show up, hoping to have fun on a cruise (which already shows you why they're there), but an even greater percentage of them don't show up for business. Will we have a quorum? Maybe not. Again, not good.

As I said, I'm undecided about this cruise, but it seems we need to consider the LACK OF TIME to do adaquete business, and a LACK OF QUORUM that may also ensue.

Whatever we do, I strongly urge the party to insure that there is adaquete time for all convention business, even if it means extending the business session for several hours or even another day.

-- Thomas M. Sipos, Vice Chair, L.A./Westside Region.

Orange County Libertarians Oppose Cruise Ship Convention

The below message was posted on the Los Angeles County LP listserv by Norm Westwell:

>> I encourage other Central Committees to adopt this resolution and send a clear message that whatever the LPCA intentions, we are a party of inclusion, not exclusion.

Norm Firecracker Westwell
On 10/19/05 the Orange County Central Committee adopted the following resolution:

Resolution to oppose the 2006 California Libertarian State Party Convention from convening outside the state of California upon a ocean vessel bound for the country of Mexico

Whereas the Libertarian Party of California is now scheduled to hold our upcoming 2006 Annual Convention on a cruise ship bound for a foreign land and

Whereas the vessel contracted is not a vessel of the United States fleet and

Whereas in order to attend this convention, members in good standing will be unduly and unnecessarily encumbered to obtain passports in order to participate in official party business and

Whereas Libertarian Party members in good standing who are prone to sea sickness are not likely to participate and

Whereas Libertarian Party members in good standing who are afraid of transport on an ocean going vessel are not likely to attend and

Whereas Libertarian Party members in good standing who cannot lawfully travel to a foreign land will not be able to participate in official party business and

Whereas Libertarian Party members in good standing who refuse to travel to a foreign land will not be able to participate in official party business and

Whereas these things all tend to exclude rather than include Libertarian members in good standing from participating in official state party business,

Be it resolved, the Libertarian Party of Orange County admonishes the Libertarian Party of California for its action to cause the 2006 Libertarian Party State Convention to be convened upon a cruise ship bound for a foreign land (Mexico) and hereby opposes the event and

Resolves itself to work toward preventing the 2006 Libertarian Party State Convention event from occurring on a vessel at sea and

Resolves itself to work toward having the 2006 Libertarian Party State Convention in a hotel on dry land in the state of California in the United States of America as in previous years and

Resolves itself to removing from office any California Libertarian Party officer who does not oppose the event and participates in party business on the vessel as scheduled.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Don't Blame the Devil This Halloween

On December 7, 1982, Richard Delmer Boyer of El Monte mur­dered an elderly Fullerton couple, stabbing Francis Harbitz 24 times, his wife Aileen 19 times. During trial Boyer blamed his actions on drugs and horror films. Apart from consuming whiskey, speed, marijuana, and cocaine on the day of the murders, he said that while visiting the Harbitzes (his employers), he'd experienced an LSD flashback of Halloween 2, rendering him unable to distin­guish between reality and the slasher film. Boyer was convicted in 1984 and again in 1992 (the first conviction having been over­turned on appeal).

Boyer's excuse follows a long tradition of blaming the media in court. In 1928, Robert Williams killed his maid, saying he'd been possessed by a vision of horror actor Lon Chaney from London After Midnight. More recently, after the 1999 Columbine massa­cre, victims' families sued Time Warner, Palm Pictures, and 11 videogame makers, accusing The Basketball Diaries and the video­games Doom, Duke Nukem, and Redneck Rampage of contributing to Harris and Klebold's school shootings. The Basketball Diaries, the videogames Quake, Doom, and Castle Wolfenstein, and porn web­sites were also blamed for a less famous 1997 school shooting by gunman Michael Carneal.

Blaming the media rarely works in court, largely due to our First Amendment. Yet blaming Hollywood is no less rational than other "devil made me do it" defenses, whether the devil takes the form of drugs, guns, or psychological "syndromes." It's not that the devil in question hasn't influenced or facilitated the viol­ent crime. It's what?!

Media--like drugs and guns and cars and much else--can kill. Advertisers spend tens of billions yearly thinking that their 30 second ads will influence our behavior. Activists present media awards for positive plugs. Minority groups monitor the media to discourage negative portrayals of their constituents. Clearly, everyone believes that media influences behavior, so it's disin­genuous whenever some media executive or star whines, "Hey, if you don't like it, just change the channel!" They only believe that until it's their pet group that's being gored.

The issue is not whether media affects behavior (of course if does), the issue is liberty. And that includes the freedom to consume whatever media--and ingest whatever drugs, and possess whatever firearms--one wishes. The flip side is responsibly. Rapists and murderers shall not be permitted to blame porn sites or slasher films or guns or psychological "syndromes" for their violent crimes. Even if drugs were involved. You don't ban hor­ror films just because Boyer thought he was reenacting Halloween 2. Nor do you ban cars just because Texas housewife Clara Harris intentionally ran down and killed her husband. Nor do you ban drugs or guns just because some individuals misuse them.

Sure, Rosie O'Donnell may disagree. She's said that if ban­ning guns "saves even one life" it'd be worth it. Yet banning all cars (emergency vehicles excepted) would result in vastly more lives saved--but at what cost to liberty?

Unfortunately, Americans increasingly shun responsibility. They demand freedom, but when they misuse their freedoms they're quick to blame drugs (legal and illegal), guns, postpartum de­pression (Andrea Yates's excuse for murdering her children), videogames, porn sites, slasher films, Adopted Child Syndrome, Chronic Lateness Syndrome, UFO Survivor Syndrome (I'm not making those up; visit for dozens of "syndromes" used in American courtrooms so far), anything to evade blame.

Victims and their families often oblige criminals' ridicu­lous excuses, seeking the deeper pockets in the ensuing lawsuits. Lawyers and therapists likewise support this nonsense, the latter earning money as "expert witnesses" and scribblers of the next trend in psychobabble books. Worst of all, government is quick to intervene, eroding our freedoms in order to ban or regulate something else for the "safety of the children."

Do you wish to be free? Or do you just like the way it sounds when politicians say "freedom"? Because if we are to pre­serve our liberty, if we are to prevent government from trans­forming our society into a padded playpen for adults, where bad things are confiscated by the teacher but no child is punished for being bad, then we must demand that everyone take respon­sibility for their actions.

If the devil is omnipresent, if people are weak and prone to syndromes and easily forced by Satan to do bad things, then it follows that the state must be likewise omnipresent to protect us weak mortals. Conversely, free people can be trusted with grown-up things, like drugs and guns and explicit lyrics, because they control their own demons.

Friday, October 07, 2005

What if they Made A Propaganda Film and Nobody Noticed?

What If They Made a Propaganda Film

and Nobody Noticed?

By Brad Linaweaver and J. Neil Schulman

On March 30, 1981 outside the Washington Hilton Hotel, an insane young man named John Hinckley, Jr., in an attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, shot the President, the White House press secretary, James Brady, Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy, and DC Police Officer Thomas Delanty.

The president’s life was saved by emergency surgery at George Washington University Hospital, as were Agent McCarthy’s and Officer Delanty’s. Press Secretary Brady suffered incapacitating and permanent brain injury.

When asked why he attempted to kill the president, Hinckley claimed he was trying to impress actress Jodie Foster. These are all historical facts.

Now. We’re writers of “what if” novels, short stories, and screenplays.

What if we screenwriters were to portray in a major motion picture reminiscent of the cold war thriller, The Manchurian Candidate, that Jodie Foster had seduced and brainwashed John Hinckley, Jr., into shooting President Reagan?

Since our movie would be clearly labeled as fiction, should anyone take our movie seriously? Should Jodie Foster have a cause of action against us for portraying her inaccurately and negatively in a movie? Would public rebuke and protests be forthcoming? Should we have an expectation that the movie studio releasing our movie would receive loud protests from Nancy Reagan and Sarah Brady?

Let’s ask another “what if.”

It’s 1943, and the United States is at war with Nazi Germany.

Walt Disney Studios releases an Alfred Hitchcock-style thriller in which German Americans on a cross-country air flight are wrongly suspected of sabotaging the plane, and it turns out the saboteur is actually an American soldier engaged in an elaborate robbery scheme.

Would President Roosevelt have considered such a movie to be Nazi propaganda? Would the House UnAmerican Activities Committee have subpoenaed Walt Disney to explain why Nazi propaganda was appearing in an American wartime movie?

Would American pilots have been painting over the Mickey Mouse cartoons on their warplanes, and the American public boycotting Dumbo?

Would Walt Disney have ended up in prison, charged with sedition during wartime?

Of course, except in our imaginations, none of this happened.

In real life Jodie Foster never had anything to do with the insane John Hinckley’s fixation on her, and in real life Walt Disney spent World War II producing patriotic films such as Victory Through Air Power and Private Pluto.

Then why, during a War on Terror that began on September 11, 2001, when a cabal of Arab terrorists hijacked four American commercial passenger jetliners, destroying the planes, murdering all passengers, bringing down the the World Trade Center in New York City, and severely damaging the Pentagon – murdering thousands -- do Jodie Foster, the Disney Studios (as Touchstone Pictures and Buena Vista Pictures), and the others involved with the production of the Number One Box Office hit, Flightplan, believe that it’s not enemy propaganda to portray a United States Federal Air Marshal and a flight attendant aboard a flight from Germany to New York as conspirators willing to commit murder, child kidnapping, and acts of terrorism, while the Arab passengers aboard the flight are portrayed as innocent victims of unfair suspicion and bigotry?

We asked this question of David M. Adams, Special Agent in Charge, Office of the Director, United States Federal Air Marshal Service.

Agent Adams told us, "The producers of Flightplan intially inquired whether the Federal Air Marshal Service would provide input to the portrayal of Air Marshals in the film. We agreed to do so but they never got back to us. … The inaccurate portrayal of Federal Air Marshals in Flightplan is unhelpful in that its negative portrayal of what I know to be dedicated law-enforcement professionals may potentially undermine domestic and foreign airline passengers' confidence in our mission to safeguard passengers and crew from terrorist threats."

So why has there been not one word of protest against what during World War II would have been called enemy propaganda, and during our current War on Terror is, at the very least, a vicious slander against the soldiers on the front line of defense – the Federal Air Marshals?

Why, apparently, do no prominent figures see it as their mission to identify and protest enemy propaganda when it hits the number one spot in box office revenues? Where’s the President? Where are the victims of the 9/11 attacks? Where are Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly?

Don’t tell us that “it’s only a movie.”

Hitler and Stalin both understood the ideological value of Hollywood movies. The original mission of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee included rooting out Nazi propagandists. It’s only when World War II ended and the Cold War began that HUAC’s focus shifted from Nazi Party members conspiring to aid the Third Reich to Communist Party members conspiring to aid the Soviet Union.

And, yes. We’re aware that this article contains a spoiler, revealing the “plot twist” of Flightplan.

Isn’t attempting to financially hurt the supporters of terrorist propaganda supposed to be part of the War on Terror?


Brad Linaweaver and J. Neil Schulman are award-winning science-fiction writers working in Hollywood. An early article by Linaweaver was praised by Ronald Reagan in a radio broadcast that is in print in the book Stories in His Own Hand: The Everyday Wisdom of Ronald Reagan; and many of Linaweaver’s stories have been praised by Ray Bradbury. Schulman’s books have been praised by Charlton Heston, Milton Friedman, and Anthony Burgess. Schulman wrote one of the best remembered Twilight Zones and Linaweaver is co-author of the Doom novels.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Cindy Sheehan May Oppose Hillary -- As a Libertarian!

The chair of the NY Libertarian Party has asked Cindy Sheehan to run on the LP ticket against Hillary Clinton. Details:

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Course in Halloween Haunted Houses

This October 28, a Friday, I'll be teaching a course on Halloween haunted houses at The Learning Annex. A great way to enjoy an entertaining and spooky Halloween! Details:

Monday, August 22, 2005

Media Companies Are Pirating YOUR Copyrights

Even as they complain about students downloading music and movies from the internet, record companies and film studios are pirating your copyrights--and Uncle Sam is helping them get away with it! Here's how:

* Extension of copyright terms. The U.S. Constitution says copyrights must expire after a limited time (Article 1, Section 8), whereupon the work becomes public domain. Then you, the pu­blic, are free to copy or download Moby Dick, write new Sherlock Holmes stories, or perform Shakespeare or Mozart. Public domain is your copyright.

However, copyright's "limited time" has been repeatedly ex­tended, often due to big media lobbying. The 1790 Copyright Act set copyright protection at 14 years, renewable for another 14. By 1909 copyrights lasted 28 years, renewable for another 28. In 1976 copyright was set for "the life of the author plus 50 years" or 75 years for corporate owners. In 1998 copyright was extended to "life of the author plus 70 years" or 95 years for corporate owners.

Jack Valenti claimed the recent extension was necessary to bring U.S. law into conformity with the longer terms of the inter­national Berne Convention. However, many Berne signatories also recognize Moral Rights, a doctrine that forbids buyers (such as record companies and studios) from altering an artist's work. Valenti always opposed U.S. adoption of Moral Rights, which might prevent studios and networks from changing directors' films and possibly even writers' scripts.

Curious, it being vital for the U.S. to adopt Berne's longer copyright terms but not its Moral Rights.

Artists should profit from their creations--but not 70 years into the grave. "Life plus 25" (60 years for corporate owners) is more reasonable. Anything longer doesn't benefit creators; it actually prevents their reworking old classics still under copy­right. Excessively long copyright terms only benefit authors' distant heirs and big media companies owning vast libraries. And long copyright terms pirate your public domain rights.

* Perversion of trademark law. Traditionally, trademarks identified the maker of a product. If there was no product, the trademark was void. But increasingly trademarks are the product, providing a potential loophole around copyright's limitations.

Copyrights and patents expire, but trademarks can last for­ever. Thus, studios have trademarked Mickey Mouse, James Bond, Star Trek, and other characters and titles, preparing for when Steamboat Willie and Casino Royale enter public domain. They may lose those films and books and TV shows, but they'll be damned if they lose the characters. Had Bram Stoker tried it, it's possi­ble that today anyone might publish Dracula, but only the Stoker estate could create new novels, comics, or films featuring Dracu­la.

It remains to be seen if trademark law will subvert the Con­stitution's requirement for limited copyright terms. If so, big media will have pirated your public domain rights.

* Erosion of Fair Use. The Fair Use doctrine, rooted in the First Amendment, lets you, the public, copy excerpts from pro­tected works for purposes of news, education, research, criti­cism, and commentary. It also permits parodies. It's a complex doctrine because the law only gives guidelines; you don't know if it's Fair Use until you're in court. Which means Fair Use is of­ten determined by who can afford a lawsuit.

In 1940 a New York federal district court said it was Fair Use for authors to excerpt song lyrics in fiction (Broadway Music v. F-R Publishing). It's a way for authors to comment on pop culture. But today it is industry practice to pay a license fee for even one line of poetry or lyric. "Copying poetry or lyrics is never Fair Use," one editor told me. Rather than fight big publishers' lawyers, authors instead surrendered their Fair Use rights.

Erosion of Fair Use is erosion of free speech. When Alice Randell wrote The Wind Done Gone, she was sued by the Margaret Mitchell estate. Had Randell been unable to afford a legal defense, her parody of Gone With the Wind told from the slaves' perspective would have been suppressed.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation ( documents various ways in which Fair Use is threatened by big media. And curtailing Fair Use pirates your rights.

Pirating movies and music is wrong (though not as harmful to many artists as industry accounting practices are). Apart from brief excerpts used for news, criticism, commentary, and so on, copyrighted works should not be taken without permission while the artist is alive and for some reasonable period thereafter. But it's hard to sympathize with big media companies who've suffered piracy while they and their lobbyists and lawyers are pirating your rights.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Libertarian Party Not Pro-Peace Enough

I received the below bit of info from the Libertarians For Peace Yahoo Group. It was written by a Jeff S. Many members of this group feel that the LP's Iraq Exit Strategy does not go far enough.

Anyway, I think the below item from Jeff S. contains some info that may be of interest to libertarians:

"A few weeks ago I talked in-person with one of the LNC at-large reps. Without saying who it was, I'll just say he is one of those thought to be 'practical' as opposed to 'ideological.' He was genuinely upset with Joe Seehusen over the IES matter, because of how the statement was released without LNC approval. He said the matter would be addressed at the upcoming meeting. When asked if he felt IES conflicted with the platform, he would only say he was angry about being put in the position of having to consider that question.

"I just looked at Sean Haugh's blog (Sean routinely publishes reports on LNC meetings), and no action on IES is mentioned. Maybe something will show up in his full _Liberty for All_ report, when that comes out.

"My acquaintance on the LNC seemed convinced this was something dreamt up and done by the staff, without even National Chair Michael Dixon being in on it. Maybe, since Seehusen is gone, those with issues against the staff feel sufficiently mollified; or maybe they no longer have an interesting enough target. I have no idea.

"Anyone not an LP member probably won't have seen the latest issue of LP News, which includes a blatantly one-sided and misleading account of IES -- an account disparaging the statement's critics without giving any detail of their arguments.

"LP News failed to report that the bylaws REQUIRE LNC APPROVAL on major policy statements. Instead, the little allusion made to the approval issue left the impression it was a matter for interpretation, and that it had only been raised on the blog by members 'and even some non-members,' not by LNC members or other big wheels.

"I could go on, for example about how a minor figure from was quoted as having a somewhat favorable view of IES, even though publisher Eric Garris -- as quoted on this list -- thinks IES is a disaster and talked to the staff himself about it.

"I was bothered when LP News reported LNC approval of a dues increase without thinking it relevant to mention it was done by secret ballot. I am bothered by LP News repeatedly giving space to George Squyres to push his proposed immigration plank, without allowing critics anything approaching equal space. (Personally, I hate the proposed plank for more reasons than are appropriate to go into here.)

"Back to IES, LP News is a shameless apologist for somebody: I suppose one could assume that, even after the flak raised by IES's release, the staff still has balls enough to voice controversial views all its own through the party newspaper. One _could_ assume that, but I'm not.

"The day after I read the latest LP News, I called LPHQ and discontinued my monthly pledge. I cited as reasons the unapproved release of IES (with secondary platform concerns), and the shameless use of LP News as an organ of propaganda.

"I also mentioned how certain 'hired guns' have been brought forward to supposedly show how IES aligns with the platform, and how these efforts can't be taken seriously. (Maybe some of those glib 'experts' should have a talk with National Chair Dixon, since even he -- with his long and varied LP experience, including having chaired the platform committee -- publicly acknowledged the discrepancy early on.)

"For its part, LP News only made nonspecific references to the pro-IES platform-related arguments, perhaps sensing that a more detailed look would expose those arguments to the ridicule they deserve.

"It's saddened me to realize how some within the party apparently are capable of arguing any side of an issue; I wonder if the only factor determining _which_ side is how doing so will enhance or diminish their power within the party.

"We've sometimes talked here about 'means justifies the ends' utilitarianism. The degree to which I've seen this in the LP over the last few years, even among people I have (or had) a certain respect for, has really taken a toll on my interest in the party.

"What a person _does_ cannot be separated from what they _are_. What is true for individuals can also be applied to political parties. The last LP News triumphantly announces (what it hopes will be) the party's repudiation of the Values of Being -- though of course the issue isn't framed that way.

"At bottom this represents a clash of worldviews, since political philosophy can't truly be separated from philosophy as a whole. The LP is well on the way to losing its soul."

Jeff S.

Jeff adds:

"Contrary to my previous observation, it now appears _some_ action resulting from IES was taken at the recent LNC meeting -- the reinstatement of a committee to oversee advertising and publications. Not enough, since there is no repudiation of the objectionable elements in IES, but it's a positive sign nevertheless.

"After reviewing the LP bylaws again, I should probably say they don't baldly state that all major policy statements must have LNC approval. However, I believe only someone with a pre-existing agenda could read them -- particularly Article 6, which deals with the LNC control of the party program -- and think it appropriate that a major statement such as IES be issued without LNC approval. An objective observer would assume this policy statement, one that will likely tower above all others for sometime to come, should have had prior or concurrent explicit LNC approval as to its basic content.

"It is also stated, in the fifth item of Article 6, that no program proposal (at least tacitly this should govern major policy statements) shall conflict with the LP Platform -- even with LNC approval.

"One could also make a case based on previous precedent, which I do not think has ever seen a statement of this magnitude-- let alone a controversial one -- released without LNC approval.

"Readers may be interested to know my source for the views of publisher Eric Garris. It is a reply Libs4peace list member Terry Parker received from him, along with Mr. Garris's permission to share his comments:"

The below is by Eric Garris of

"Dear Terry,

"It is worse than that. I called and talked to the new Communications Director, Shane Cory, about the plan. He brought up the Marshall Plan as a good example to emulate in Iraq, since it 'worked so well for Europe.' I mentioned that Nixon had a similar plan in 1971 in Vietnam, and Cory said that he would have been successful had it not been for the public interference (ie, the antiwar movement).

"He also said that this was 'just the beginning,' since the LP is perceived as way too radical and we needed to go after the Bush people. He said other stuff, but I started to go into shock and can't remember it all right now."

Monday, July 18, 2005

Halloween Candy does good at Monterey Screenplay Competition

It appears that my horror anthology screenplay, HALLOWEEN CANDY, made it into the second round of the Monterey Screenplay Competition. For a list of those who did, and the finalists:

For info about my screenplay:

Friday, June 24, 2005

"Liberal" Justices Turn Back Clock ... To the Year 1215

You no longer own your own home or have the right to buy one. This is due to an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, approved June 23.

No, this amendment didn't pass both houses of Congress and three fourths of the state legislatures, in what is whimsically termed "the amendment process." Rather, our Constitution was amended in the usual way, by judicial fiat. In essence, five Supreme Court justices -- John Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy -- voted that you no longer own your own home.

That's the result of Kelo v. City of New London, in which, according to dissenting Justice Clarence Thomas: "The court has erased the Public Use Clause from our Constitution."

That's right. A whole Constitutional clause, a clause that protected your property from arbitrary government expropriation, erased by five justices. At least with flag burning, the issue is undergoing the official amendment process.

But to understand Kelo, let me first give you some historical background. Back in olden days, all land was owned by a "sovereign," that is, a king, tsar, pope, or emperor. This sovereign leased his land to vassals, i.e., lords, barons, knights, and other titled nobility. Vassals could use the land so long as they served the sovereign. (See the bargain struck in the movie, Excalibur.) Because the sovereign owned the land, he could always repossess it.

In 1215, the English nobles decided this was a bad deal. They asked King John to sign Magna Carta, restricting his ability to reclaim the land. King John agreed, mostly because the nobles had brought plenty of swords. Peasants still owned no land, but the times, they were a changin'.

A big change occurred in 1776, when Americans decided that "the people" were sovereign, owning the land and the powers to govern it and themselves. In 1789, they delegated some of those powers to the government via the Constitution, while also restricting those powers through the ten Bill of Rights. For instance, the Fifth Amendment says: "No person shall be ... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Thus, "the people," being sovereign and owning all the land, can, through their elected representatives, take your property, but only if (1) the taking is for a "public use" (traditionally, a road, school, or other public project), and (2) you're paid "just compensation" (theoretically, fair market value).

With Kelo, according to Justice Thomas, the Supreme Court "erased" the Public Use Clause. Now government can take your property for any reason at all.

In Kelo, the city of New London, CT, had condemned 15 homes so that private developers may build offices, a hotel, pricier homes, and a pedestrian path along the Thames River. The homeowners sued the city, trying to save their homes by arguing that private development was not a public use. The city said it was, because offices and pricier homes would generate more tax revenue.

The Supreme Court agreed with the city.

Justice Stevens wrote: "Promoting economic development is a traditional and long-accepted function of government. ... [T]here is no basis for exempting economic development from our traditionally broad understanding of public purpose."

But if private use is a public use, and public use is a public use, then everything is a public use -- and the Public Use Clause has no meaning. As Justice O'Connor said in her dissent: "Who among us can say she already makes the most productive or attractive use of her property? ... Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded. ... Nothing is to prevent the state from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."

Is she right? With the Public Use Clause erased, what will prevent the state from replacing any home or business with a "nicer" business? Nothing but the good intentions of back room politicians. Seriously. According to Justice Stevens, the very cities and states condemning the land can best determine "local public needs," and their judgements are "entitled to our deference."

That's like letting the accused decide whether he's guilty.

The result is that politically-connected developers can now use state muscle to force those of modest income to sell their homes at below market rates, while wealthy homeowners are protected by their own political clout. (I say "at below market rates," because if developers paid homeowners their asking price -- the true definition of "market rate" -- there'd be no need to condemn land, as every owner has his price). As Justice O'Connor put it: "The government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more."

So it seems the times are a changin' again. Only now we're going backwards, to about 1215, when only nobles could protect their land from the king, the peasants at the mercy of both. And ironically, it's the more "liberal" justices who are turning back the clock.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

A Nation of Assimilated Immigrants

Immigration is a contentious issue because it perturbs many people's self-image and sense of acceptance. "Do I belong here? Am I as American as you?" Few say it like that, yet those are the unspoken undercurrents fueling the fear and anger over the issue. Yet immigration also raises legitimate concerns about the allocation of limited social services (education, health care), taxes, unemployment, wage depression, crime, and the environment. How to address those issues without sounding like a racist hiding behind those issues?

Some politicians and pundits hide behind the mantra: "Legal immigration yes, illegal immigration no," a neat way of both supporting and opposing immigration, while avoiding the real question: "What should be legal?" How many do we admit, how quickly, using what standards, what consequences for those here illegally and what of their children? If legality were the real issue, we could solve the problem overnight by legalizing everyone.

I'm going to avoid those questions too, because I have no easy answers. (At least I am blatant about it.) Instead, I propose we focus on a proven solution to all our past immigration problems: Assimilation.

To say America is a nation of immigrants is like saying the sky is blue. It's both true and irrelevant. Every nation is a nation of immigrants; people have been migrating across the globe ever since we left Africa. Nor did the thirteen largely English colonies mean to establish a nation of immigrants. Many did not welcome America's first large Catholic influx in the 1840s, and Emma Lazarus's poem ("Give me your tired...") did not grace Lady Liberty until 1903.

More importantly, to say we are a nation of immigrants is an incomplete truth. A fuller truth is that we are a nation of immigrants who assimilated--who learned English, did not rely (through most of our history) on government safety nets, and sought to "become Americans" (a once-popular phrase).

Assimilation is not homogeneity. Marines and hippies, Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Morrison, are equally American. Assimilation is not conformity to Norman Rockwell, but an erosion of tribal empathy for one's ethnicity and former homeland as one feels increasing attachment for the host culture and its people. Assimilation is the reciprocal price the immigrant pays for the benefit of acceptance. (Reciprocal, because contrary to the stereotype of discrimination always being a white or American thing, immigrants from all nations import their own share of prejudices.) Assimilation is thus the opposite of both rightist nativism and leftist identity politics; the former rejects the newcomer, the latter rejects the host.

America's strength has never been its diversity, but its ability to overcome diversity through assimilation. "E Pluribus Unum" (Out of Many, One) refers to the thirteen colonies, but could as easily describe our melting pot.

It is no insult to other cultures to say that America has its own. We say we are a multicultural nation because we worry it may offend to say otherwise, but also because it appears true from our surface diversity (skin color, food, clothes music). Yet American diversity is a mile wide and an inch deep. Beneath the surface most Americans share a sense of nationhood and fundamental values (even if Reds and Blues accuse each other of betraying those values). That sounds vague because, like obscenity, American culture is easy to recognize but difficult to define. Yet its truth becomes apparent to any American traveling abroad, many of whom say they've never felt so American as when visiting their ancestral homelands.

Surface diversity is enriching, but deep diversity can be dangerously divisive. Despite their more homogeneous surfaces, diversity runs so deep in Northern Ireland, Rwanda, the Mideast, and the tellingly "former" Yugoslavia that people have murdered one another to assure the dominance of their religious or ethnic group.

America too has suffered deep diversity, Jim Crow being only one recent example. Yet like the Borg, American culture continues to assimilate everything so it belongs to everyone. Chinese take-out and Italian pizza are not evidence of our multiculturalism, but things we've all come to know and share in. We speak a common language, we increasingly vote and marry outside our ethnicities, and we have at least a passing familiarity with most elements in our common culture. For example, I've only seen a handful of Star Trek episodes beyond the original series, and none featuring the Borg. Yet American culture is so pervasive, I know enough of the Borg to use them in an analogy.

Another reason Americans confuse themselves for a multicultural nation is that identity politics conflate race and culture. Shown a multiethnic group photo, many will thoughtlessly exclaim, "Oh, how multicultural!" But unless culture is genetically transmitted, an ethnically Chinese girl raised in Germany is culturally German, just as an Italian boy raised in China is culturally Chinese. Likewise, families raised in America are culturally American. Yet by confusing race and culture, Americans are dissuaded from promoting their own culture lest they appear exclusionary by celebrating something they've been convinced immigrants are genetically incapable of sharing in. (No one puts it like that, but those are the implied undercurrents of identity politics.)

This false notion of immutable identity fuels much mutual antagonism. Identity politics leftists encourage immigrants to be fearful and defensive over expressions of an American culture they portray as inherently hostile. Closed-borders rightists aggravate those fears, even as they themselves fear a hostile influx bringing poverty and revanchist fantasies. Assimilation disempowers both sides, depriving the left of a constituency, and the right of a problem. It does so by making immigrants more economically productive, while instilling in them a sense of national belonging that fosters cooperation and respect for American laws and customs. Thus does assimilation alleviate immigration's economic and social problems.

America owes nothing but offers much to those wishing entry, and makes no onerous requests; far less is required to assimilate into the U.S. than into most any other nation. Learning English is the big first step leading to all others, and most immigrants already wish to take it. Programs discouraging English (multilingual schooling, ballots, and documents) should be substituted for efforts to teach English. People concerned with immigration might consider voluntarist ways to assist the assimilation process. (Ironically, it may help to know a foreign language; I've begun studying Spanish.)

Between the extremes of identity politics and nativism lies the moderate assimilationist center. It's rooted in the American experience and it works.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Tammy Bruce Down on Libertarians

Heard Tammy Bruce on the radio just now, talking about her lifetime political journey. Right now she's very pro-Bush. She also said, "I tried being a Libertarians, didn't like that too much."


I remember when PURPLE RAIN, the Movie, came out some 20 years ago. But I only this year saw it.

The film was okay, but nothing special. Prince plays a young Minnesota rock singer struggling to "make it" in the music industry without "selling out" his musical vision. At the same time, he's struggling with his personal issues: his father's abusive past and his own sexist attitudes.

In the end, Prince "makes it" while maintaining his integrity, he comes to terms with his father, and he learns to be more sensitive to women.

The strength of the film is not the story, but the music, which is quite good. But MY BIG QUESTION: Just WHAT IS PURPLE RAIN?

I've listened to the lyrics, and I can't figure it out. Is it a metaphor for something? If so, for what? Or did he just call it Purple Rain because it sounded like a cool thing?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Five Families of the GOP

A guide to the various camps in the GOP:

(1) Neocons. The real power in the driver's seat. They want war & empire, and they're getting it. They like big government and deficit spending. Very pro-Israel. Includes some Big Oil interests.

(2) Moderates. What some call RINOs or Country Club. They also include some Big Oil interests, but moderates want cooperation with other nations.

(3) Social Conservatives. Very opposed to abortion and gay marriage. Very pro-Israel. They have no power and get only a symbolic bone now and then. So the GOP made much noise over Terry Schiavo? Big deal.

(4) Libertarians. The GOP is screwing them big time. Libertarians want peace, foreign non-intervention, civil liberties, and less government spending, but they're not even getting the occassional symbolic bone. At most, they get empty rhetoric.

(5) Traditionalists. Aka Paleo-Conservatives. Many voted for Perot or Buchanan. Some care about abortion, but many do not. They're mainly concerned about national sovereignty and America First. Hence, they oppose foreign wars, foreign aid, immigration, and free trade. The GOP screws them most of all. They don't even get rhetoric.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Firefox Falls Short of Hype, and Other Software Problems

I don't see what the fuss over the new Firefox web browser is. For one thing, it's simply not true that Firefox prevents popups.

When I've used IE with Zone Alarm Pro (a firewall), I got no popups.

But when I use Firefox, I'm innundated with popups, regardless of whether I used Zone Alarm Pro with it or not. It makes me wonder if Zone Alarm's firewall is also worthless when I'm using Firefox.

To add insult to injury, Firefox always informs me along the top: "Firefox has just blocked one popup." Even as I'm staring at the popup before me.

Another problem, when I save images on Firefox, the browser seems to choke, taking a longer time that IE to save it. And Firefox will eventually freeze if I save too many images, unlike IE.

Does anyone know why I may have these Firefox problems, or how to correct them?

I'd also appreciate it it anyone can recommend good programs to fix Windows XP Pro (such as WinDoctor, which seems not to work so well with XP), or something to uninstall programs.

For some reason, I only partially uninstalled AdAware 6, so that it no long accepts updates. And it won't let me install AdAware 7 over it.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Terrorists or Guerillas?

I recall a definition of "terrorism" from my childhood in the 1970s, one that seems to have gone down the memory hole: "Guerillas attack military targets. Terrorists attack civilians."

The 1970s was a time when terrorism was much in the news. You had the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Red Brigades, the Weather Underground. The IRA and PLO were also much active. So terrorism was much talked about, even in the Weekly Reader, the paper of record for the grammar school set. :-)

I don't recall the above as a controversial distinction between guerillas and terrorists, though I never hear it used any more. Instead, the definition of "terrorist" seems to have broadened. But does anyone else remember this 1970s distinction?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Origins of the Term "Politically Correct"

The term "politically correct" is bandied about so much as to have become meaningless. But what really does it mean? Here's a history of the term (as best I know it).

"PC" has gone through four stages of meaning. "Politically correct" was initially coined by Leon Trotsky to refer favorably to those whose views remained in sync with the ever-shifting Bolshevik Party line. This was important, as "not PC" people risked prison or death.

"Politically correct" was revived (and again, used favorably) by 1960s New Left radicals who fancied themselves revolutionaries in the mold of Che, Castro, and Mao.

"Politically correct" was first used negatively by 1980s conservatives, following the publication of Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind. Conservatives embraced the term "politically incorrect" as a badge of honor to contrast their championing of free speech against campus leftists who used speech codes to suppress debate on sensitive topics. This was also when the term first became widely known by its acronym, "PC."

In these three previous stages, everyone agreed that PC meant Left, and "not PC" meant Right. But because liberals don't like a reputation of being anti-free speech, within a few years they did a turnabout, and called their opponents "PC" and themselves "not PC." Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect is representative of this fourth stage, creating the odd result of a self-proclaimed "not PC" show winning a very PC environmental media award.

However, despite liberals' turnabout, conservatives continued to refer to themselves too as "not PC." Thus "PC" has lost any specific meaning in this fourth stage, since everyone defines their position as the now chic "not PC," and their opponents as "PC." (A far cry from the days when Russians dreaded the Chekists who executed "not PC" people.)

-- Thomas M. Sipos

Friday, May 06, 2005

Karen Kwiatkowski for President

Since other Libertarian Party members are already offering suggestions for our 2008 presidential candidate in the LP News, I'd like to nominate the woman who should have been our candidate in 2004: Virginia LP member Karen Kwiatkowski.

We had a fine lineup of contenders in 2004, but none with Kwiatkowski's creds. Those who've read her articles at (among other places) know that she's a retired Lt. Col. who worked in the Pentagon during the planning stages for the Iraq War. She later revealed how the neocons had pressured the military into doctoring their intelligence analyses in favor of war. Kwiatkowski's been interviewed by significant media outlets across the political spectrum: Fox News, L.A. Weekly, In These Times, The American Conservative.

As a retired military officer, she had the expertise to debate foreign affairs and national security -- the big issues of 2004 -- on a level playing field with Kerry and Bush. As someone known to the media, she'd have drawn more extensive and respectful coverage than any of the other "big three" LP contenders. And as retired military, it'd be hard for anyone to besmirch her patriotism.

Though I'd long read her work, I only discovered that she was a ten-year LP member during the convention. I wish I'd circulated a Draft Kwiatkowski petition, but it was my first LP convention and I didn't know the mechanics of nomination until too late. I don't even know if she'd have accepted the nomination.

But, provided that she's willing, I think Libertarians should seriously consider Karen Kwiatkowski for president (not merely for veep) for 2008.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Kurt Vonnegut's Neocon America: War & Socialism in Player Piano

Although released in 1952, Kurt Vonnegut's dystopian Player Piano can serve as a satire of modern America. That may not be readily apparent to those who focus only on its theme of technology obsoleting workers. Seemingly influenced by Fritz Lang's Metropolis and foreshadowing The Twilight Zone's "The Brian Center at Whipple's," Player Piano paints a future America where a technocratic oligarchy has established a corporate command economy and cradle-to-grave socialism. The leaders think they've created a utopia but the proles disagree.

One big problem is that advancing technology makes more people useless every day. Retraining is no answer; even engineers are being replaced by computers. Society has become a player piano, creating flawless music without aid of human hands. However, this Darwinism is not untempered. The useless do not go homeless and hungry. On the contrary, everyone's basic needs are met: pre-fabricated homes, washers, TV, even national health care. And twelve years of free education, which is pretty pointless, as most people graduate to idleness.

Well, not quite idleness. Those with top test scores enjoy free college, then join the ever-diminishing ranks of engineers and managers. The less-brainy majority must choose between the Army or the Reconstruction & Reclamation Corps (aka, the Reeks & Wrecks), and begin a life of menial make-work rather than real jobs. Yes, that includes the Army. Wars are primarily fought with machines, so millions of soldiers remain idle in the US, training with wooden guns. Only those stationed safely abroad are trusted with real guns.

The less-gifted wealthy can go to private college, though I'm not sure what they'd become in this meritocratic society. Perhaps politicians. Player Piano's America enjoys complete separation of politics and power. Elections are free, but elected officials are impotent PR shills. The President is a goofy dunderhead whose main job is telling everyone how great things are, while publicly "ooooing" and "aaaahing" over the engineers' latest computer.

Despite their safety net, men feel useless and miserable because they're paid for make-work. Women feel useless because of all those kitchen appliances, and miserable because they're married to losers. (Yeah I know, but it's a 1950s book.) With few exceptions (entertainer, athlete, politician), it's mostly engineers and managers who enjoy meaningful work and its concomitant prestige. They also make more money, but that's not the main gripe of the useless majority. Player Piano has an anti-materialist theme. Despite calling himself a socialist, Vonnegut has written a novel in which national health care doesn't bring happiness.

So how does Player Piano parallel modern America? There is the loss of good jobs; in the book through technology, in modern America through outsourcing. Both Americas relegate ever more people to menial, government-subsidized work (Wal-Mart reputedly advises employees how to obtain food stamps to supplement their paychecks). Both Americas employ rising police surveillance to fight terrorism, and feel rising suspicion toward dissenters. In Player Piano, terrorists are also called "saboteurs," the ugliest of obscenities. Alleged saboteurs cannot appeal to a judge. Judges have been replaced by computers that analyze precedents and spit out verdicts.

Most importantly, in Player Piano the centralization of corporate/government power over the economy and security forces is a legacy of the last war, which was largely responsible for putting engineers and managers in charge of a command economy. It was a big war, fought overseas with drones and nukes and Gamma rays. A real turkey shoot, except for the soldiers attending the high-tech weapons during a return fire.

Vonnegut's book was doubtless inspired by America's command economy during World War Two, but libertarians have long noted that "War is the health of the state." Some conservatives may not like to hear it, but even "good wars" invariably expand government and diminish liberties. Just ask Louis XVI what the American Revolution did for his treasury. Thus, true conservatives, like all true patriots, are always sceptical of war, and suspicious of those who say we must not question or doubt our elected leaders in times of war.

Player Piano's neocons imagine that they've ended history. The last war is referred to as the Last War. America's high-tech weapons and economy dominate the globe. Yet freedom does not abound, not even in the US. "Anti-machine" books are banned for encouraging terrorism, the authors risking jail. Indeed, a visiting autocrat, hosted by the State Department, mistakes average Americans for slaves.

Vonnegut regards himself as a man of the left, but I've met many libertarians, conservatives, and objectivists who admire Vonnegut's work. Libertarians admire him because he's antiwar and distrusts government. Objectivists mostly enjoy his atheism and Bokononist satire of religion. And conservatives discern a patriotic nostalgia for small town America in some of his work. While I think that's especially true of his short stories, I've met one conservative who was taken with Vonnegut's midwestern family history in Palm Sunday. Ralph Nader has praised such "true conservatism," distinguishing it from corporatism or empire building.

With a little updating, Player Piano would make for a fine film satire of modern America. Vonnegut's never been adapted effectively, though he was reportedly pleased with Slaughterhouse-Five. The problem is that his greatest strength is not his plots or characters, but his unique authorial voice. Mother Night was adapted with unusual faithfulness to the plot, yet the film was dreary and grim, unlike the often hilarious book.

Player Piano shouldn't have this problem. It was Vonnegut's first novel, his voice still undeveloped and not yet evident, so the book's merits are not based on something unfilmable.

Unfortunately, a critique is not a solution. I don't know what can be done about the outsourcing of jobs. Socialism breeds poverty, corruption, nepotism, and ethnic clashes. Protectionism leads to trade wars, and then, say some, to shooting wars. What we have today -- a sort of statist crony corporatism? -- produces government favoritism and contracts for politically-connected insiders. But even an authentic free market would drain good jobs to the lowest foreign bidder. Good for foreign workers and consumers, bad for domestic workers.

Like many satirists, Vonnegut is better at identifying and ridiculing a problem than in offering a solution. Player Piano ends on a pessimistic note. That may be because some problems have no solution.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Pointless Saudi Bashing from the Left

Today on Air America Radio, Randi Rhodes made the "point" that the 19 9/11 hijackers were mostly Saudis. Michael Moore has made the same "point" in his film. My question is ... so what?

The implication seems to be that Bush should have attacked Saudi Arabia instead of Iraq.

First off, I don't think the Left really believes this. Had Bush attacked Saudi Arabia, the Left would be bashing Bush for that. There are many (many, many) good reasons to bash Bush. But the Left does so largely irrespective of any good reasons. They attack Bush largely because he is a Republican. Clinton's wars drew little outrage from the Left.

(Yes, Clinton had more allies in the Balkans, but so did Bush I in the Gulf War; yet the latter was not spared from Leftist criticism).

But more importantly, the hijackers' nationalities are irrelevent because (1) individuals often act independently, and (2) governments often hire foreigners to do their dirty work. Thus, the hijackers may have been acting alone, or on the behest of ... [fill in the government of your choice].

A criminal's nationality is irrelevent to anything. So why do some on the Left keep harping on the hijackers being Saudi? I think because they (rightly) oppose Bush's Iraq War, yet they still feel the need to offer Americans a foreign target, in order to prove that they're pro-national security. Which is silly, but I suppose that's considered politically prudent in a nation gripped with war fever.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Bush's Orwellian Doublespeak on Iran

Heard on the radio news that Iran is angry that the Bush administration is talking about "regime change." Iran points to a treaty signed with the US after the 1979-81 hostage crisis, in which the US promised not to "interfere" in Iran's internal affairs.

The Bush administration responded that it was not "interferring" because its attempts to promote democracy were "nonpartisan" (i.e., not favoring any one party within Iran).

Excuse me? Are the Bush people really that ignorant, or are they merely dishonest? Attempting to force a system of government (even a democracy) onto another country IS interference. By definition.

As Rush used to say, "words have meaning." But almost never for today's "conservatives," it seems.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Who Will Be The Next Pope?

Today, a lot of attention is fixed on The Vatican. It seems that the Papacy of John Paul II is in its final hours.

I had hoped to present, sometime in the next few months, a program at the Karl Hess Club entitled: "Who Will be the Next Pope? Geopolitical Considerations." That idea as originally conceived is out the window now as the questions will have been rendered moot by the time we could make such a presentation at the club.

The plan was to have someone who could speak with authority on the topic of who the next Holy Father likely would be, what challenges and opportunities would confront him, and possible world political consequences.

The talk was to explore the influence of the Papacy and what policies, foreign and otherwise, might emanate from the Holy See (We could still do a review of current events and their consequnces sometime in the indefinite future).

The next best thing, I thought, and what might be useful right now and in the next few weeks before the conclusion of a Papal Conclave, is a discussion on the above points while they are still in play. You should have about a month to make some educated guesses before the white smoke rises.

So I invite you, with the kind permission of our Blogmeister Tom, to contribute your informed and supported commentary and reasoned analyses in a discussion on the following query: "Who Will be the Next Pope and What are the Likely Geopolitical Consequences?"

You might include a review of the "front runners" among the 117 Cardinals who will decide among them who will succeed JPII in Peter's Seat. Also take a look at the "dark horses" such as Cardinal Ratzinger or a candidate who hails from The New World or The Third World. Consider what would the likely ramifications of a Third World Pope (Eg. from Africa) and what political course Rome might take in the case of each prospect.

Here's a link you might review to get you started:,9171,1101050110-1013211,00.html?promoid=rss_top

Sign in and get to work! Thanks for Blogging us!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Starving Terri Schiavo is Illegal Assisted Suicide

Judge Greer's decision is controlled by Florida law, specifically Florida's Health Care Advance Directives, Chapter 365 of Florida Statutes.

The judge may only rule on questions of fact and law relating to these provisions. He may not write new law from the bench.

Judge Greer ruled that Michael Shiavo, Terry Shiavo's husband, was legally entitled to act in place of Terri and carry out her wishes regarding her medical treatment. He ruled that Terri was in a persistent vegetative state and would have wished to refuse artificial extension of her life by medical means, such as a gastric feeding tube providing her artificial sustenance and hydration.

But that ends the scope of Michael Shiavo's guardianship and Judge Greer's authority.

Judge Greer, as finder of fact, has determined that Terri would wish to die. By forbidding Terri's father, mother, sister, brother, and other volunteers from attempting to give Terri water or liquid nourishment by mouth -- testing whether she currently has the capability to swallow -- the hospice personnel, Michael Schiavo, and Judge Greer are engaging in an attempt at assisted suicide, which is forbidden by Florida law, and for which the only exemption contemplated by Florida statute is artificial provision of sustenance or hydration. Giving water and liquid nourishment orally, which is being interrupted by Terri's enforced isolation as a patient in the hospice, is not artificial. It is natural. And allowing the giving of swallowing assistance for liquids for sustenance and hydration to an otherwise healthy mentally handicapped woman is not artificial use of medical means to extend Terri Schiavo's life.

For Michael Shiavo to act to end Terry's life beyond what is permitted by Florida law is either homicide, if Terri would not have agreed, or assisted suicide, if she would have agreed. Both are forbidden by Florida law. Judge Greer may not issue a court order, and hospice personnel and police, may not enact or enforce a court order, which is contrary to Florida law. To do so is abuse of power under color of authority, and may be stopped by any law-enforcement or judicial officer in Florida, local, county, or state.

Governor Bush should immediately take custody of Terri Schiavo as the chief law-enforcement officer of the State of Florida, and cause her medical condition to be stabilized. No court order is necessary for any law-enforcement officer to stop a felony in progress.

Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist should issue warrants for the arrest of Michael Shiavo and all hospice personnel in charge of Terri who are forbidding her liquid nourishment and water for conspiracy to engage in illegal assisted suicide, and Judge Greer should be arrested for abuse of power under color of authority for issuing directives beyond the scope of his charge.

The cases should be placed before a Grand Jury and prosecuted.

J. Neil Schulman
March 26, 2005




GENERAL PROVISIONS (ss. 765.101-765.113)


LIFE-PROLONGING PROCEDURES (ss. 765.301-765.309)

765.101 Definitions.--As used in this chapter:

(10) "Life-prolonging procedure" means any medical procedure, treatment, or intervention, including artificially provided sustenance and hydration, which sustains, restores, or supplants a spontaneous vital function. The term does not include the administration of medication or performance of medical procedure, when such medication or procedure is deemed necessary to provide comfort care or to alleviate pain.

765.309 Mercy killing or euthanasia not authorized; suicide distinguished.--

(1) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to condone, authorize, or approve mercy killing or euthanasia, or to permit any affirmative or deliberate act or omission to end life other than to permit the natural process of dying.

(2) The withholding or withdrawal of life-prolonging procedures from a patient in accordance with any provision of this chapter does not, for any purpose, constitute a suicide.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Any Florida Law Enforcement Officer May Protect Terri Schiavo from Starvation and Dehydration

My friends:

It does not take a court order to save Terri Schiavo from dehydration and starvation.

It does not require an order from Governor Jeb Bush or the Florida DCF to place her under protection.

It does not require permission of Terri Schiavo's husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, to give her food and water.

Michael Schiavo's legal guardianship only extends to medical and financial decisions, not basic human rights such as feeding or water
given by mouth, since eating and drinking are basic human rights necessary to survive.

Terri Schiavo has the basic right to eat and drink by mouth if she is capable of doing so. Her consent to live is implicit in her swallowing the food and water and negates any presumption that in the absence of a legal document that she wishes to die.

Her cognitive handicaps are medically and legally irrelevant. Her medical prognosis is irrelevant to her basic himan rights. Whether or not her cognitive abilities will improve are irrelevant to the question of her asic human right to live.

Guardianship cannot include crimes against the person, such as prevention of feeding or drinking. Denial of water and food is not a medical issue. It is beyond the legal scope of a guardianship since it is a basic human-rights issue. No judge's authority extends to denying the basic right to life, except for those convicted of a crime. Being handicapped does not diminish human rights. In fact, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the handicapped are entitled to special protections from attempts to deny them access to basic human necessities.

Nobody is denying that Terri is being denied food and water -- there is no legal controversy on this fact -- so there is no need for a legal finding by Florida DCF in order to protect her human right to be fed or given water by mouth. Police can arrest anyone who has been denying Terri Schiavo food and water by mouth since it is a felony in progress, and no court order is necessary to prevent a felony in progress.

Prevention of giving food and water to someone capable of eating and drinking is contrary to Florida law, and is a felony. This includes actionsby judges who commit a felony under color of authority by issuing an order beyond the scope of their legal authority. It is beyond the power of a judge to order someone to be denied food and water if they are capable of eating and drinking.

Governor Jeb Bush has duty to enforce the law, which is not related to the judge or his court order. The court's jurisdiction only extended to the question of guardianship. No guardian may deny a human being under their charge basic human rights, and to do so is a felony, regardless of a judge's granting a right to make a medical decision regarding a feeding tube's removal. The judge may allow the guardian to remove the gastric feeding tube. The judge may not go beyond this medical question and forbid the patient to be fed and given water by mouth. The medical question of whether or not Terri Schiavo's guardian may remove her feeding tube is the only question the court had the right to rule on. No court has the right to go beyond the medical decision and deny Terri Schiavo her basic human right to eat and drink, if she is able to do so,

Police and citizens have a right and duty to stop the crime of starvation by unlawful imprisonment. Any representative of the police, sheriff, or attorney general can enforce this Florida law without any court order, because there is a felony in progress.

Anyone who attempts to prevent feeding or giving a drink of water or ice chips is committing a felony, and legal force can be used against them and they can be arrested and charged as co-conspirators. This includes any lawyer, bailiff, police officer, sheriff, security guard, or law enforcement officer who is complicit in preventing attempts to feed Terri Schiavo and give her water or ice by mouth.

If anyone is hurt during the attempt to stop the commission of that felony, that may be a compounding felony.

All statutes regarding police failure to protect are irrelevant because the police authority is being used under color of authority to commit a felony crime.

Judge Greer's order to prevent Terri Schiavo from being given food or water by mouth is an illegal abuse of judicial authority, and he may be held personally liable (civilly and criminally) for each act which denies Terri Schiavo food or water.

Judge Greer's authority -- the question the judge had the authority to decide -- extended only to the question of who was rightfully authorized to make medical decisions for Terri Schiavo and specifically whether the gastric tube could legally be removed by order of her legal guardian. Anything preventing her well-being beyond that medical decision is abuse of power under color of authority and is felonious.

If Judge Greer attempts to prevent Terri's rescue, the judge is compounding the felonies and may be arrested for it and may be held criminally and civilly liable.

Because Terri Schiavo's life has been placed in danger by this crime of denying any attempt to give her food or water by mouth, the use of a gastric tube to rehydrate her and give her nutrition until she is stable and may again eat and drink on her own may be done by any duly constituted authority, and does not require the consent of her guardian. In other words, if six days ago when the gastric tube was removed, which was a medical decision within the scope of her legal guardian, hospice personnel and Terri's family had been permitted to attempt to give her food and water orally, no crime would have been committed. Since Terri Schiavo has been placed in danger of death by forbidding her being offered food or water by mouth, a crime is in progress and any medical means to stabilize her are called form including the reinsertion of a gastric feeding tube.

No court order or permission is necessary to save Terri Schiavo. Any sworn state, county, or local law enforcement officer or judicial officer in the State of Florida may stop the felony in progress of denying Terri Schiavo the offer of food and water by mouth, or to reintroduce her feeding tube until she is medically stable and capable of eating and drinking by mouth, and bring whatever legal force necessary to rescue her from those illegally holding her captive in a hospice.

J. Neil Schulman &
Randall Herrst, JD

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Saving Terri Schiavo

Like many people, I have been following the tragedy of Terri Schindler Schiavo. I am unconvinced that she would have ever freely chosen to die by dehydration and starvation. I am unconvinced that her husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, is faithfully representing her wishes. I am also uninterested in any medical professional's prognostication as to whether Terri Schiavo will ever regain full cognition. Her natural family wishes her to live and to take responsibility to take care of her, is suspicious of her husband's motives, and contests the medical diagnosis. These facts alone are enough for me to conclude that Terri Schiavo's right to life is being violated by her adulterous and possibly bigamous husband, with the active complicity of both Florida and federal judges, who are using government force to prevent Terri Schiavo from having access to water and food. I call this premeditated murder. I am shocked that this is happening in the United States rather than in Cuba, North Korea, or Iran. I am shocked that even the President of the United States and the Congress of the United States, not to mention the Governor of Florida, are intimidated by judges into taking no actual action to save Terri Schiavo's life.

If all that they need is a legal excuse to cover their asses, may I suggest a few:

1) President George W. Bush has the power to declare Terri Schiavo an enemy combatant, and send federal agents to arrest her. She can then be transported to an undisclosed location where she can be given the medical care guaranteed a prisoner of war until she is capable of being interrogated. Let's see how well Michael Schiavo fares in getting a habeas petition.

2) Florida Governor Jeb Bush can send Florida state troopers to take Terri Schiavo into protective custody as a potential witness against Michael Schiavo for her impending murder, based on the sworn statements of a nurse who declares Michael Schiavo's injected Terri with insulin with the intent to cause her death. It does not matter that Florida's statute for a charge of attempted murder has already passed. Murder does not have a statutory time limit, and I can't think of a reason why she can't be placed into protective custody as a witness against him until such time as she dies.

3) Anyone want to file a civil suit against Terri Schiavo, and demand she be kept alive until she can be deposed? I can think of lots of reasons to sue her, particularly if anyone holding vigil for her gets hurt.

4) Pray for a miracle. If God can raise the dead, God can restore a liquified cerebral cortex.

J. Neil Schulman
March 23, 2005

Sunday, March 13, 2005

FEC Threatens Free Speech

Bradley Smith writes that the FEC may soon crack down on blogs and websites, preventing them from licking to candidates sites during elections.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Ann Coulter, Anti-American

Regarding the Easton Jordan affair (the CNN editor thought to have accused the US govt of targeting journalists in Iraq; he says he was misquoted), THE NATION (March 14, 2005) writes: "It was on CNBC's Kudlow & Cramer that the satanic spawn Ann Coulter was invited to giggle about how nice it would be if the US military really were deliberately murdering journalists."

To those libertarians who still confuse Coulter with being a champion of liberty, I would remind that Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1787: "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

I'll take Jefferson over Coulter.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Oscar Proves Brad Wrong on 'The Passion'

At a KHC meeting of a few months back, Brad Linaweaver predicted that the Oscars would nominate "The Passion of the Christ" for at least one major award. J. Neil Schulman and I disagreed, expecting the Academy to shut out "The Passion."

Well, Brad, you were wrong. The most "major" category "The Passion" was nominated for was Cinematography. And in the end, it lost in every category (three in all) that it was nominated in. A true shut-out.

BTW, Brad has been invited to post here, so if he'd like to rebut, all he has to do is accept his invite, :-)

Thursday, February 24, 2005

My Personal Endorsement for Mayor of Los Angeles

February 24, 2005
Dear Interested Voter,


This letter constitutes my endorsement of Walter Moore for the office of Mayor of Los Angeles. In this letter, I'll try to explain why I do this and why I urge you to join me. It is a personal endorsement only.

On Tuesday March 8, the voters of the City of Los Angeles will decide, among other issues, who will be in the running to be the next Mayor. There are twelve candidates for that office on the ballot, so no one figures to make it with 50% plus one to be elected outright in this Primary. The top two finishers "past the post" will go on to compete in a General Election run-off in May.

Because of the large field of candidates, a relatively small number of votes can make a difference in who gets to the run-off. Each candidate will be doing his or her best to put together a coalition of voter blocs. Even a small group of voters could be important in any coalition.

While the race is for a non-partisan office, in big city politics, party is a factor. The so-called "big five" candidates, Mayor Jim Hahn, Tony Villaraigosa, Bob Hertzberg, Richard Alarcón and Bernie Parks are all Democrats.

This time out they are splitting some important Democrat endorsements among them and canceling one another out of others. Dynamics among the candidates have also split or shifted voting blocs previously taken for granted. This scenario presents an opportunity to have a tactical impact on the outcome.

Thus, while there is no registered/dues paid Libertarian Party candidate running, Libertarians can still participate effectively in this contest. If our support coalesces around a single candidate, we could help move the political orientation of the city in our direction.

After examining all the candidates, I have decided to support and endorse Moore, who is the leading candidate of the two Republicans in the race. Moore is an attorney residing in Westchester.

Moore is my choice based on his platform and on his campaign thus far. What particularly impressed me, though, was that he specifically asked for votes from Libertarians. He indicates an affinity for us and supports positions that are in concert with our own. He is a natural ally.

There are 7000 persons in the County registered to vote as Libertarian. Of these, many will be eligible to vote in the municipal election as residents of Los Angeles. If you are one, please keep reading.

I've met and spoken to Moore at length and I believe he'd be a good Mayor for L.A. He is a serious candidate with a campaign that is significantly funded and organized. He is worthy of your support.

Look at all the candidates' platforms, records and endorsements and if you think Moore is the right individual for this job, please vote for him as part of a winning coalition on March 8 to get him into the run-off.

Even though I am a libertarian who is a member of the Party, my endorsement is personal and is in no way an official Libertarian Party endorsement. Precluded by its bylaws, the LP cannot endorse candidates of another political party. [Also, it does not in any way represent an official view of the Karl Hess Club, of which I am a facilitator.]

Your vote is your own, but I urge you to join me in voting for Moore because of his principled stand on issues such as "Pay-to-Play" corruption, and elimination of business tax, rent control and excessive regulations. Here are some more points:

*Moore opposes Mayor Hahn's proposed estimated $11.5 Billion remodeling of LAX.

*He favors strict enforcement of immigration laws, and is the only candidate to seriously address the local impact of unregulated immigration and to propose meaningful solutions.

*A key plank is his pledge of "No New Taxes, No New Bonds, No Exceptions."

*Moore's strong advocacy of "No-Kill" animal shelters won him the endorsement of a major animal activist organization (Citizens for a Humane L.A.), representing 30,000 supporters.

*He has also been running an intensive, active campaign with press conferences, interviews and news coverage. It is anticipated that Moore will be included in major televised "debate" events in the next thirteen days before the election.

The campaign can use workers to help get the word out. Although well self-financed by Moore, the campaign welcomes additional contributions (For financial information on all the campaigns this election, go to: Opportunities for involvement are available.

Learn about Moore and his campaign at You can check out the competition by going to If you will, please consider sharing this information with others.

Thank you very much for your consideration of this letter, and don't forget to vote on March 8!

Mike Everling
Los Angeles

Monday, February 21, 2005

California Libertarian Party Approves My Proposal for "Prosecutorial Budget Sharing"

The CLP has approved my idea for what I termed "prosecutorial budget sharing" (above link). I'd intended it as a Platform Plank, but it ended up in the CLP Program.

Last Friday (2/18/05), at the Platform Committee's suggestion, I submitted my proposal to the Program Committee, which passed it by unanimous consent. On Sunday (2/20/05), the CLP convention delegates adopted my proposal, as re-drafted by the Program Committee, adding it to Section IV (as Item 6) of the LPC Program. The final language:

Government fines, civil commitments and prosecutions can be as damaging as criminal prosecution. While in cases of criminal prosecution, the defendant is entitled to representation, no such right exists in civil cases.

To remedy this, in all cases of government civil prosecution, civil commitment, or regulatory fines, the defendant shall be entitled to representation and funding equal to that of the prosecuting agency's, to be paid from the agency's budget.

The next step is to make this program plank part of California law, most likely through initiative and referendum.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

California Libertarian Party Passes Key By-Law Changes; LPLAC Elects Officers

Day One of the Convention, the Libertarian Party of Los Angeles County had a mini-convention during the California LP convention. Officers were elected, to serve until June. David Larkin was re-elected Chair. Mike Binkley was elected Vice Chair. Dave Wire re-elected Treasurer.

Day Two of the convention saw two key By-Law changes passed. The first change grants greater financial autonomy to the county LPs at the expense of the state LP. This was done partly to comply with FEC regulations.

The second By-Law change allows the entire delegation to vote for the 10 At-Large Reps to the CLP's executive committe. Until now, the five largest "regions" each elected one At-Large Rep, and the remaining delegates elected the other five.

As a result of the second change, one outraged county chair announced that he would run against Aaron Starr for CLP Chair tomorrow. Until now, only the Southern Vice Chair post was contested.

Many other By-Law changes, mostly of a house-keeping nature, were also passed.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Bruce Cohen Discusses CLP Convention on KABC

Mr. KABC just interviewed Bruce Cohen on his radio show. Cohen discussed the upcoming California Libertarian Party convention, and that he was running for Southern Vice Chair against Mark Selzer in the only contested CLP office this year.

Mr. KABC poked fun at libertarians (as he always does), but Cohen took it in stride, congenially laughing off remarks about "tinfoil hats." He also plugged the convention, and told people how they can join the CLP, or just observe the convention.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Hijacking Catastrophe

Last night, the Region 62 supper club screened Hijacking Catastrophe, a 2004 documentary which argues that the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq were planned before 9/11. Some of the people interviewed for the docu made a few socialist comments (e.g., that Bush's $400 billion in military spending might have been spent on health care and education), but most of the docu focused on the neocons' plans for American empire since the fall of Communism.

Bob Weber observed that the docu left out that the American empire has been a bipartisan effort since at least 1898, and indeed, the docu presented the Clinton years as a lull in empire.

Also interviewed in the docu was the LP's Karen Kwiatkowski.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Welcome Karl Hess Club Bloggers!

Welcome Karl Hess Club members to our new Blog! Thanks and Kudos to Tom Sipos, our Karl Hess Club Webmaster for getting the ball rolling on this. We trust that you'll enjoy the opportunity to communicate your ideas with other Karl Hessians!

The KHC's New Blog

This is the KHC's new blog! Here, leading KHC members will gather to post their thoughts on current events, relate their personal experiences, and engage in spirited discussion and debate.

It's in a rough state right now, but stay tuned!