Freedom is nonpartisan. At least, that’s the message I got this morning from my Twitter timeline when these two stories appeared. The first is out of Alaska, where the local ACLU chapter is defending an…anti-abortion group?:
The ACLU of Alaska is urging Alaska Governor Sean Parnell to provide more information about some creative censorship by state workers earlier this month during a street protest in Juneau. The street protest was staged by a group called the Center for Bioethical Reform, a fringe anti-abortion group that displays explicit pictures of aborted fetuses in public places to get their message across.
That’s what they were doing early in April on the sidewalk across the street from Alaska state Capitol building. The protest wasn’t exactly a rally. The CBR group included between four and six people, as counted by the Press from videos and photos of the incident. The group was around the Capitol about four days total, and on Tuesday, April 2, some state workers grew tired of the banner featuring a giant photo of an aborted fetus.
Some state employees parked delivery vans on the street, in between the protest banner and the capitol building. Rather than move their banner, the CBR protesters held their ground and began making video of the rather awkward attempt at censoring the graphic images. It’s “attempted censorship” because the CBR protesters could have simply walked to another part of the sidewalk. Alternatively, they could have recruited more than a half-dozen people to help them display graphic images of bloody fetuses in public places.
Last week, a scary new report came out from the Associated Press on the drug cartels presence in the continental United States:
Mexican drug cartels whose operatives once rarely ventured beyond the U.S. border are dispatching some of their most trusted agents to live and work deep inside the United States — an emboldened presence that experts believe is meant to tighten their grip on the world’s most lucrative narcotics market and maximize profits.
If left unchecked, authorities say, the cartels’ move into the American interior could render the syndicates harder than ever to dislodge and pave the way for them to expand into other criminal enterprises such as prostitution, kidnapping-and-extortion rackets and money laundering.
Cartel activity in the U.S. is certainly not new. Starting in the 1990s, the ruthless syndicates became the nation’s No. 1 supplier of illegal drugs, using unaffiliated middlemen to smuggle cocaine, marijuana and heroin beyond the border or even to grow pot here.
But a wide-ranging Associated Press review of federal court cases and government drug-enforcement data, plus interviews with many top law enforcement officials, indicate the groups have begun deploying agents from their inner circles to the U.S. Cartel operatives are suspected of running drug-distribution networks in at least nine non-border states, often in middle-class suburbs in the Midwest, South and Northeast.
“It’s probably the most serious threat the United States has faced from organized crime,” said Jack Riley, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Chicago office.
There has been a lively debate on the UL list serve and on twitter about fusionism and the modern liberty movement. Let me be clear from the very beginning that I am a proponent of fusionism. I want to see libertarian ideas become libertarian policies. I think that libertarianism, for far too long, has been content to rule college classroom debates and think tank discussions and has not done enough to focus on how we actually implement libertarian theory.
I don’t think the real debate is about whether or not libertarians should engage in fusionism, the real debate – exposed clearly in the back and forth with some of my fellow writers at UL over the last few days – is over what that fusionism looks like.
I believe that if the point behind fusionism is to see libertarian ideas become policy, than any fusionism should be based around the achievable. The common ground we seek should be on those issues where our work with others will actually end up in changing policy in this country.
Right now the American people, and young people in particular, are becoming more and more libertarian when it comes to social issues. A recent Washington Post poll showed that voters aged 18-29 support same-sex marriage by a staggering 81%-15%. The same opinion polls show young voters overwhelmingly support ending the failed drug wars and as the recent Rand Paul filibuster showed – there is growing support from every segment of the country to safeguard our civil liberties.
Given that the American people are on our side on these issues, and that winning on these issues is achievable, one would think that libertarian fusion efforts would be centered around these issues. Alas, there are plenty clamoring for a fusionism that not only ignores these issues, but proposes a fusionism with forces openly hostile for these positions.
On Monday the Colorado Senate passed five of the seven proposed gun bills and its expected that Gov. John Hickenlooper will sign them. Sen. Greg Brophy (R-Wray) said in reference to HB 1224, the bill that would limit magazines to 15 rounds: “I will willfully and purposefully and civilly disobey this law.” I think it is safe to say that Sen. Brophy is not alone even though the penalties for breaking some of these laws include jail time and possibly losing any legal right to ever own a firearm again.
What to do now? Its over, right?
Well, obviously the people of Colorado can vote the tyrants out next time around. There’s also the ballot initiative process; there’s already a petition movement in place to undo HB 1224 by putting it to a vote in the next election if enough signatures can be collected in time (which I don’t think will be a problem). Beyond traditional legal remedies, so far 136 companies that sell and/or manufacture firearms, components, ammunition, or accessories have pledged that they will not sell their products to the police or any government entity that will enforce gun laws which, in their judgement, violates 2nd Amendment rights of the people.
All these efforts should be joined, applauded, and encouraged. Next time you want to buy a gun or accessory, you should buy from a company that is on the list and admonish those who haven’t made the pledge to close the “police loophole” to do so (and also, write a short letter of encouragement to those which have already taken this brave step).
It appears environmentalism has officially gone insane. In Florida, a man released several heart shaped balloons into the air as an expression of love to his girlfriend. And for that, the guy was arrested:
Brasfield, 40, and his girlfriend, Shaquina Baxter, were in the parking lot of the Motel 6 on Dania Beach Boulevard when he released the shiny red and silver mylar balloons and watched them float away Sunday morning.
Also watching the romantic gesture: an FHP trooper, who instead noted probable cause for an environmental crime.
Brasfield was charged with polluting to harm humans, animals, plants, etc. under the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act.
Seriously? We’re going to arrest people now because they released balloons into the air? What sort of joyless soul-sucking Dementors are the people who push for this kind of legislation?
The story notes at the end that Brasfield, if convicted, faces up to five years in prison. Five years for releasing balloons into the air to show his love to his significant other. If that’s not liberty-trampeling, un-American, and just plain immoral, I don’t know what it is.
Editor’s note: While the larger point of the post is a good topic for debate, Fortenberry was a bad example. According to the scorecards released by the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, Fortenberry hasn’t been a friend to the taxpayer on fiscal issues. Thanks to Matt Hoskins for bringing this to our attention.
Author’s note: Yes, kudos to Matt Hoskins. I’ve added an update below.
Last week, Rod Dreher at the American Conservative magazine wrote about John Fortenberry, a Republican congresscritter from Nebraska who is considering a run for the seat of retiring Republican Senator Mike Johanns. What has Dreher annoyed —understandably — is that the Senate Conservatives Fund has come out against Fortenberry. Why? Because Fortenberry is “too liberal” on taxes:
“We can already say that we won’t be able to support Congressman Fortenberry if he runs. His record on spending, debt, and taxes in the House is just too liberal. Republicans in Nebraska deserve better,” said Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins. SCF, which was started by conservative Jim DeMint and involved itself in the 2012 Nebraska Senate GOP primary, is looking to identify a candidate it can get behind, Hoskins added.
Dreher argues that’s completely bunk. In an interview with the Congressman last year, he wrote:
American liberty took one more punch to the gut yesterday when the Supreme Court decided that Americans can’t sue the government’s spy machine in court:
A sharply-divided Supreme Court on Tuesday threw out an attempt by U.S. citizens to challenge the expansion of a surveillance law used to monitor conversations of foreign spies and terrorist suspects.
With a 5-4 vote, the high court ruled that a group of American lawyers, journalists and organizations can’t sue to challenge the 2008 expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) because they can’t prove that the government will monitor their conversations along with those of potential foreign terrorist and intelligence targets.
The outcome was the first in the current Supreme Court term to divide along ideological lines, with the conservative justices prevailing.
Justices “have been reluctant to endorse standing theories that require guesswork,” said Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote for the court’s majority.
From the Associated Press:
An appeals court has issued a ruling that upholds the right of authorities to prosecute pot smokers in Arizona for driving under the influence even when there is no evidence that they are actually high.
The ruling by the Court of Appeals focuses on the chemical compounds in marijuana that show up in blood and urine tests after people smoke pot. One chemical compound causes drivers to be impaired; another is a chemical that stays in people’s systems for weeks after they’ve smoked marijuana but doesn’t affect impairment.
The court ruled that both compounds apply to Arizona law, meaning a driver doesn’t have to actually be impaired to get prosecuted for DUI. As long as there is evidence of marijuana in their system, they can get a DUI, the court said.
The ruling overturns a decision by a lower court judge who said it didn’t make sense to prosecute a person with no evidence they’re under the influence.
Apparently, to the Court of Appeals, sense is irrelevant.
This is what it’s come down to: even when you’re innocent, you’re guilty. Welcome to American Legal System 2.0. It appears George Orwell was right.
H/T: Hit & Run
Above, watch Obama Administration Press Secretary Jay Carney explain that the drone strikes are “legal”, “ethical”, and “wise.” This has got to be one the biggest loads of crap I have heard since Obama was elected in 2008.
The legality of these drone strikes is highly questionable, as Doug Mataconis notes over at OTB. I fully expect court challenges to these strikes. Whether or not they succeed is a matter of speculation for people far more trained in the arcane arts of the law than I.
They are certainly not ethical. There have always been deep ethical qualms about killing human beings. In the modern era, we have notions such as due process, trials, courts of appeal, and judicial oversight, as well as punishment for those who kill wrongly. In combat situations, we accept homicide as par for the course, with both sides shooting at each other to kill. But this is not the same situation. This is picking an individual and raining missiles on him via robot death kites. This is not war. This is assassination. There are no restraints nor oversight. If you have a code of ethics that allows you to just kill people, on a whim, without any restraint whatsoever, you are a deeply troubled person and should be committed to a mental hospital. When will Obama go?
They are most definitely not wise. If anything, the drone strikes have only hardened al-Qaeda against us, and have turned us into enemies to the locals there, killing and maiming at will. Is it wise to “double-tap” targets and blow up emergency responders? Is it wise when only one in fifty of our victims are actually bad guys? No, this is not wise. This is most certainly unwise.
Naomi Wolf—eeeeeeek! I know, I know, but bear with me, please—had a very interesting column in the Guardian about a new independent documentary called Dirty Wars, tracking the use of secret assassins by the US government. It neatly dovetails with the recent release of a DOJ memo outlining the legal case for drone strikes on Americans. Together, the two items reveal that we are living in a very different world, one where the American president has unlimited power to kill anybody, without any sort of legal repercussions whatsoever.
The film Dirty Wars, which premiered at Sundance, can be viewed, as Amy Goodman sees it, as an important narrative of excesses in the global “war on terror”. It is also a record of something scary for those of us at home – and uncovers the biggest story, I would say, in our nation’s contemporary history.