Monthly Archives: February 2007

Medical Marijuana Group Sues U.S. Government

A medical marijuana advocacy group in California has sued the Federal Government over statements by two federal agencies denying the medical benefits of smoking marijuana:

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 21 – Frustrated by government policy and inaction, a group of advocates for medical marijuana sued two federal health agencies on Wednesday over the assertion that smoking it has no medical benefit.

The group, Americans for Safe Access, a nonprofit organization based in Oakland, filed the lawsuit in Federal District Court, challenging the government’s position that marijuana, “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

In its lawsuit, the group contends that federal regulators have publicly issued “false and misleading statements” about the medical benefits of marijuana.

The lawsuit, which named the Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration, seeks a court order to retract and correct statements that the group called, “incorrect, dishonest and a flagrant violation of laws.”

In other words, standard operating procedure in the War On (Some) Drugs. There are many things about the War On (Some) Drugs that are despicable, but chief among them is the fact that the government continues deny people who are sick medication that could actually alleviate their pain.

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Happy Birthday Mr. President

David Boaz discusses why George Washington is so important:

George Washington was the man who established the American republic. He led the revolutionary army against the British Empire, he served as the first president, and most importantly he stepped down from power.

In an era of brilliant men, Washington was not the deepest thinker. He never wrote a book or even a long essay, unlike George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams. But Washington made the ideas of the American founding real. He incarnated liberal and republican ideas in his own person, and he gave them effect through the Revolution, the Constitution, his successful presidency, and his departure from office.

(…)

What values did Washington’s character express? He was a farmer, a businessman, an enthusiast for commerce. As a man of the Enlightenment, he was deeply interested in scientific farming. His letters on running Mount Vernon are longer than letters on running the government. (Of course, in 1795 more people worked at Mount Vernon than in the entire executive branch of the federal government.)

He was also a liberal and tolerant man. In a famous letter to the Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, he hailed the “liberal policy” of the United States on religious freedom as worthy of emulation by other countries. He explained, “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.”

And most notably, he held “republican” values – that is, he believed in a republic of free citizens, with a government based on consent and established to protect the rights of life, liberty, and property.-

And for that America, and the world, should be eternally grateful.

Let Them Eat Cake

Robert Mugage, Zimbabwe’s dictator for the past twenty-seven years, will turn 83 this week complete with a big birthday party, while his countymen starve for lack of bread:

JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 21 — President Robert G. Mugabe of Zimbabwe turned 83 on Wednesday to the strains of the song “God Bless President Mugabe” on state-controlled radio, along with an interview on state television, a 16-page paean to his rule in Harare’s daily newspaper and the prospect of a grand birthday party — costly enough to feed thousands of people for months, his critics argued — on Saturday.

Zimbabwe’s economy is so dire that bread vanished from store shelves across the country on Wednesday after bakeries shut down, saying government price controls were requiring them to sell loaves at a loss. The price controls are supposed to shield consumers from the nation’s rampant inflation, which now averages nearly 1,600 percent annually.

Mugabe is not only unconcerned about his countrymen’s plight, but is already seeking to expand his power:

In his hourlong television interview, broadcast Tuesday evening, Mr. Mugabe showed no sign of concern that he was unpopular. Rather, he expressed confidence that voters would add another six-year term to the 27 years he has spent in power should he run for re-election.

He has proposed postponing the next presidential election, now scheduled for 2008, until 2010, and he mocked the ambitions of underlings who, he said, hoped to push him from office before he was ready to retire.

“Can you see any vacancies?” he asked. “The door is closed.”

On Wednesday, The Herald, the state-managed newspaper, included in 16 pages of tributes to Mr. Mugabe an editorial calling him “an unparalleled visionary” and “an international hero among the oppressed and poor.”

And, of course, those hungry people are just a bunch of unpatriotic traitors.

As for much of Africa, the prospects for Zimbabwe seem grim at the moment, but I particularly liked this quote from one Mugabe opponent:

Tawanda Mujuru, who runs a vegetable stall on Samora Machel Avenue in downtown Harare, said that she would be working in a factory if not for the failure of Mr. Mugabe’s economic policies.

“He has the guts to eat and drink when we are suffering like this,” she said. “Let him enjoy. Every dog has his day. We shall have our day.”

Mr. Mugabe, you may want to do a Wikipedia search on Nicolae Ceacescu

Egypt Imprisons Blogger For Insulting Islam

Yesterday, I wrote about the case of Abdel Kareem Nabil, a college student being held in an Egyptian prison after posting anti-government remarks on his personal blog. Today, an Egyptian judge sentenced him to four years in prison:

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt — An Egyptian blogger was convicted of insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak and sentenced to four years in prison on Thursday in Egypt’s first prosecution of a blogger.

Abdel Kareem Nabil, a 22-year-old former student at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, an Islamic institution, had pleaded innocent to all charges, and human rights groups had called for his release.

Nabil, who used the blogger name Kareem Amer, had sharply criticized Al-Azhar on his Web log, calling it “the university of terrorism” and accusing it of suppressing free thought. He also often criticized Mubarak’s regime on the blog.

In one post, he said Al-Azhar University “stuffs its students’ brains and turns them into human beasts … teaching them that there is not place for differences in this life.”

He was a vocal critic of conservative Muslims and in other posts described Mubarak’s regime as a “symbol of dictatorship.”

The university threw him out last year and pressed prosecutors to put him on trial.

The judge issued the verdict in a brief, five-minute session in a court in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. He sentenced Nabil to three years in prison for insulting Islam and inciting sedition and another year for insulting Mubarak. Nabil had faced a possible maximum sentence of up to nine years in prison.

Keep in mind. An American ally and supposed example of moderate Islam.  And what has the Bush Administration had to say about this travesty ? So far, nothing:

The Bush administration has not commented on Nabil’s trial, despite its past criticism of the arrests of Egyptian rights activists.

We’re waiting Mr. President.

The New Assualt Weapons Ban

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-New York) has proposed a new assualt weapons ban. Say Uncle has a summary of what the ban proposes.

Instead of banning rifles with 2 evil features, it’s one evil feature. Said evil features are:
`(i) a folding or telescoping stock;

`(ii) a threaded barrel;

`(iii) a pistol grip;

`(iv) a forward grip; or

`(v) a barrel shroud.

Expands the list of rifles banned specifically by name.
Bans possession of conversion kits (example, you couldn’t own a rifle and a bayonet lug even if the two weren’t attached).
Transfer of grandfathered weapons would have to go through a FFL.
Bans transfers of grandfathered semi-automatics with regular capacity magazines.

As mike pointed out in his post, the cops are using the ban expiration as an excuse to further militarize their departments. Imagine what checks there would be to these militarized cops if the McCarthy gun ban goes through.

Free Republic has the full text of the scary bill.

I’m waiting for outrage from the “libertarian Democrats” and the “libertarian left”.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Iraqi Democracy In Action

If you’re a government official and you allege wrongdoing, you’re usually protected as a whistleblower in most civilized nations. In addition, one of the arguements against the Saddam regime was the systematic use of rape as a weapon of terror. Well, rape is again being used a weapon of terror by the Shi’ite dominated Iraqi National Police. A Sunni official demanded an international investigation into rape claims by Sunni women. For his troubles, the Iranian puppet, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is firing him.

Political tensions ran high in Iraq today as Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki ordered the dismissal of a top Sunni official who called for an international investigation into the alleged rape of a Sunni woman by Iraqi security forces.

Mr. Maliki did not give a reason for his decision to dismiss Sheikh Ahmad Abdul Ghafoor al-Samaraei, the head of the Sunni Endowment, whose organization cares for Sunni mosques and shrines in Iraq.

Mr. Samaraei, speaking to the Al-Arabiya television network from Amman, Jordan, said that he knew of many cases of rape by Iraqi security forces, but victims were reluctant to come forward because of the stigma attached to the crime. He also said he also knew of cases of rape by Sunni clergy members.

Mr. Samaraei disputed Mr. Maliki’s right to fire him, arguing that only Iraq’s Presidential Council had that authority. He made his comments after Mr. Maliki said that the accused officers were innocent.

So we have a guy who is alleging rape by the Iranian infiltrated and dominated Iraqi “security” forces of Sunni women and also alleging rape by Sunni clerics. Instead of investigating these allegations to restore public trust, al-Maliki fires the whistleblowers. Over 3,000 Americans died and a half of trillion dollars have been spent to keep this Iranian puppet in power. This is why the Iraqi troop surge will ultimately fail. When the Americans leave, the Iraqis will have no faith in their so-called security forces and they’ll go back to their pastime of killing each other.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

2008 Election Poll

Quinnipiac University conducted a poll that was released today showing the performance of the candidates in the 2008 presidential elections if they were held today. The results are possibly surprising in some areas. The most important thing to remember about these numbers is that these are mostly based on the first impressions and name recognition. First up, the Democratic field in the order Quinnipiac gives the numbers:

DEMOCRATS……….
Tot Men Wom

Gore 11% 14% 8%
Vilsack – – –
Biden 1 2 1
Edwards 6 7 6
Richardson 2 1 2
Clinton 38 33 42
Obama 23 25 21
Dodd – – –
Clark 2 3 1
Kucinich 1 1 1
SMONE ELSE(VOL) 1 1 1
WLDN’T VOTE(VOL) 1 1 1
DK/NA 13 11 14

Note that Al Gore and Wesley Clark are probably not running. What these numbers tell me is that Democrats are looking for an alternative to Hillary because Hillary’s numbers are surprisingly weak for someone with virtual 100% name ID. If the Nutroot® wing of the Democratic party can unite behind an anti-Hillary candidate, she’s done. Also, Edwards’s numbers are also surprisingly weak given his high name ID as well.

Now for the Republicans:

REPUBLICANS……..
Tot Men Wom

Giuliani 40% 42% 38%
McCain 18 19 16
Romney 7 6 9
Gingrich 10 12 7
Hunter 2 2 2
Brownback 1 – 1
Thompson 1 1 1
Gilmore – – –
Hagel – – –
Huckabee 2 2 1
Pataki 1 2 1
Tancredo 1 – 1
Paul 1 1 1
SMONE ELSE(VOL) 1 1 1
WLDN’T VOTE(VOL) – 1 –
DK/NA 15 11 21

Giuliani is way out in front (22 points ahead of McCain, compared to Hillary being 15 points ahead of Obama) against a guy like McCain with a high name ID. Romney’s attempts at building name recognition have not been succeeding, which given his various flip-flops, is probably a good thing at this point. Gingrich continues to poll well even though he probably will not run. There is still room for a challenger to Guiliani from the right, but that window is closing. Conservative favorites Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee will gain strength as the primary process continues. Ron Paul is polling 1% in the first poll he’s featured in, however, these numbers are probably low because it doesn’t take into account independents and his numbers will climb as name ID grows. My guess is on the Republican side, Guiliani will win the nomination if there is no strong united challenge from either social conservatives or from limited government voters.

More evidence of Hillary’s weakness:

12. Is your opinion of — Hillary Clinton favorable, unfavorable or haven’t you heard enough about her?

Wht Evan
Tot Rep Dem Ind Men Wom BrnAgain

Favorable 46% 10% 77% 42% 36% 54% 32%
Unfavorable 45 87 13 45 54 37 62
Hvn’t hrd enough 7 2 8 9 7 7 5
REFUSED 2 1 2 3 3 1 1

Red Blue Purple

Favorable 42% 52% 43%
Unfavorable 51 41 43
Hvn’t hrd enough 5 5 11
REFUSED 2 2 3

Not only is Hillary too conservative for the Democratic party, she’s also unelectable to boot. Another reason why she won’t be the nominee.

Now some personal numbers for Guiliani:

15. Is your opinion of — Rudy Giuliani favorable, unfavorable or haven’t you heard enough about him?

Wht Evan
Tot Rep Dem Ind Men Wom BrnAgain

Favorable 57% 81% 38% 62% 62% 53% 62%
Unfavorable 21 10 34 16 22 20 16
Hvn’t hrd enough 21 9 26 22 16 25 21
REFUSED 1 – 2 1 – 1 1

Red Blue Purple

Favorable 57% 60% 54%
Unfavorable 19 22 22
Hvn’t hrd enough 23 17 23
REFUSED 1 1 1

His numbers among Republicans are surprisingly high for a social liberal. Plus, he still has room to grow among the 15% undecided. He’s also likeable enough among the general voters to be considered electable. He’s the man to beat for the Republican nomination.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

“Police needing heavier weapons”

This is great news.

WASHINGTON — Law enforcement agencies across the country have been upgrading their firepower to deal with what they say is the increasing presence of high-powered weapons on the streets.

Scott Knight, chairman of the Firearms Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, says an informal survey of about 20 departments revealed that since 2004 all of the agencies have either added weapons to officers’ patrol units or have replaced existing weaponry with military-style arms.

Knight, police chief in Chaska, Minn., says the upgrades have occurred since a national ban on certain assault weapons expired in September 2004. The ban, passed in 1994, in part prohibited domestic gunmakers from producing semi-automatic weapons and ammunition dispensers holding more than 10 rounds.

“This (weapons upgrade) is being done with an eye to the absolute knowledge that more higher-caliber weapons are on the street since the expiration of the ban,” Knight said. He said his own department of about 20 officers is in the midst of determining whether to upgrade its weapons.

Ah, yes. The “assault weapons” ban. Prior to the ’94 ban, the term “assault weapons” did not exist. In fact, now that the ban has (thankfully) expired, that term isn’t really used much anymore, except by gun-banning groups like the Brady folks and police chief associations. For the record, USA Today is completely wrong in stating that the ban prohibited domestic gunmakers from producing semi-automatic weapons. It banned them from producing semi-automatic weapons that looked scary, weapons that looked “militaristic.” They were still completely free to produce semi-automatic weapons as long as said weapons didn’t look like they were a military weapon.

This is why I find it hard to believe that the streets of American have suddenly been flooded with a glut of semi-automatic weapons with the expiration of the ban. The only thing the streets could have been flooded with are weapons that look mean. Nothing has changed with regard to the operation and effectiveness of legal weapons. Of course, there might have been an increase in the amount of automatic weapons on streets in the U.S. (unlikely, but possible). However, this would have absolutely nothing to do with the “assault weapons” ban, as fully automatic firearms have been illegal without special permission from the BATF since 1934. This of course begs the question as to why Chief Knight felt it was necessary to bring up the “assault weapons” ban. He wouldn’t have an ulterior motive, would he?

In Houston, where homicides were up as much as 25% in 2006 over the previous year, Police Chief Harold Hurtt says the AK-47 assault rifle has become “kind of a weapon of choice” for warring gangs, major drug distributors and immigrant smugglers in a city that has become a major transit point for criminals.

“The reality on the street is that many of these weapons are readily available,” says Hurtt, whose department began upgrading its weaponry with assault-style arms about three years ago before he arrived from Phoenix.

I’m not sure this article could get more stereotypical if it tried. Oh no, it’s the AK-47 boogeyman out to get you! I’m surprised Chief Hurtt didn’t drop the other three horsemen of the gun control apocalypse: the TEC-9, Uzi, and AR variants.

I don’t doubt that there are some very nasty people out there with some nasty firearms. The police need to be equipped to effectively deal with these people. But the overall increased militarization of our police departments, when coupled with the drive to disarm our populace, is not a good thing for liberty.

UPDATE: Rob Miller over at Homeland Stupidity has a post up on the same article, including some statistics to refute the assertions of the Chiefs.

Arrested For The “Crime” Of Blogging

Today’s Washington Post tells the story of a man sitting in a jail in Egypt for doing nothing more than dare to criticize a government institution on his blog:

A former college student, Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman, is sitting in an Egyptian prison, awaiting sentencing tomorrow. His alleged “crime”: expressing his opinions on a blog. His mistake: having the courage to do so under his own name.

Soliman, 22, was expelled from Al-Azhar University last spring for sharply criticizing the university’s rigid curriculum and faulting religious extremism on his blog. He was ordered to appear before a public prosecutor on Nov. 7 on charges of “spreading information disruptive of public order,” “incitement to hate Muslims” and “insulting the President.” Soliman was detained pending an investigation, and the detention has been renewed four times. He has not had consistent access to lawyers or to his family.

(…)

Soliman has criticized Egyptian authorities as failing to protect the rights of religious minorities and women. He has expressed his views about religious extremism in very strong terms. He is the first Egyptian blogger to be prosecuted for the content of his remarks. Remarkably, the legal complaint originated with the university that had expelled him; once, it was a great center of learning in the Arab world, but it has been reduced to informing on students for their dissent from orthodoxy.

No attention has been given to this story in the American media, which considering that Egypt is supposedly an American ally, is shocking in itself. More attenion needs to be paid.

As the Post authors put it:

Whether or not we agree with the opinions that Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman expressed is not the issue. What matters is a principle: People should be free to express their opinions without fear of being imprisoned or killed. Blogging should not be a crime.

Well said.

Cross-posted at The Liberty Papers

XM And Sirius vs. The FCC: The Battle Is Joined

With yesterday’s announcement of the proposed merger between XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio, and the announcement last month by the Chairman of the FCC that he would oppose such a merger, the battle that will determine whether this merger will go forward has begun, and it will revolve around the question of whether the FCC takes an expansive or restrictive view of what the relevant market is:

Winning approval for a proposed merger of the nation’s two satellite-radio companies turns on whether regulators buy their argument that iPods, Internet radio and other new technologies have expanded so dramatically that a monopoly would not harm consumers’ choices or purses.

It may be a difficult argument to win, but XM Satellite Holdings and Sirius Satellite Radio‘s officers say it’s worth the gamble and have assembled an expensive and experienced team of lobbyists to aid them in the fight. Alone, the companies have suffered heavy losses and spent heavily on recruiting personalities such as Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey and on marketing to compete against each other.

Now, New York-based Sirius and XM of the District are lining up some of the best-known and highest-paid lawyers and lobbyists, while competitors and consumer groups vow to fight back. The biggest potential roadblock for the merger is a 1997 Federal Communications Commission declaration that a single owner may not control the subscriber-only satellite radio business.

But the advance of technologies such as iPods and other MP3 players, music-playing cellphones and land-based radio stations with digital broadcasts offer so much music, news and talk that the competitive climate is radically different and the FCC should waive the 1997 rule, Sirius chief executive Mel Karmazin said in a conference call yesterday. “Consumers today have a significantly broader range of audio entertainment options from which to choose,” he said.

As I argued last month, it is clear that limiting an analysis of the economic impact of an XM-Sirius merger to only the market for satellite radio is incredibly short sided. It would be like limiting an analysis of a proposed merger between a two pizza restaurant chains to just the market for pizza. There are competitors to satellite radio and they include not only traditional broadcast radio, but also the expanding technology of “high definition” radio, along with other methods of music, talk, and news delivery such as those cited by Karmazin.

More importantly, though, are the economic realities that XM and Sirius are presented with. Neither company is making money right now, and the prospects of either one of them being able to turn a profit as an independent company given the immense operating costs that they have to deal with is pretty slim. Satellite radio is still, and will likely remain for a long time, a niche technology. Most of the people who subscribe to it do so thanks to the receiver that came with the new car they bought, but not everybody wants a car with XM or Sirius capability, and not everyone can afford it.

If these are not permitted to merge, then the prospect of either or both companies ending up in Bankruptcy Court seems a likely outcome and then we could be faced with the death of satellite radio as a business.

Virginia Virtucon has it exactly right:

It would be a grave mistake to take the narrow view that the only competition that XM and Sirius face comes from one another.  Consumers have a multitude of options — traditional free FM and AM stations, iPods/MP3 players, Internet radio, etc.  XM and Sirius are looking to merge in order to survive in this competitive environment.  Would the government rather have only one satellite radio company because one went bankrupt or only have one because the two existing ones merged to form an even better combined service?  Would they rather have NO satellite radio because XM and Sirius drove each other into the ground trying to compete?

Frankly, I don’t think the FCC should be involved in this matter at all, but since they are they need to do the right thing. Let the market decide and approve the merger.

The Death Of Habeas Corpus

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a law passed by Congress last year which effectively eliminates the right of foreign nationals, or even United States citizens, to have their day in Court if they are held by the American military outside of the United States:

A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that hundreds of detainees in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, do not have the right to challenge their imprisonment in federal courts, a victory for the Bush administration that could lead to the Supreme Court again addressing the issue.

In its 2 to 1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld one of the central components of the Military Commissions Act, the law enacted last year by a then-Republican-controlled Congress that stripped Guantanamo detainees of their right to such habeas corpus petitions. Lawyers have filed the petitions on behalf of virtually all of the nearly 400 detainees still at Guantanamo, challenging President Bush’s right to hold them indefinitely without charges. Yesterday’s ruling effectively dismisses the cases.

Essentially, the Court held that the protections granted by the Writ of Habeas Corpus do not apply when a person is being held outside the terroritorial jurisdiction of the United States, even if they are being held by American forces.

Effectively, today’s ruling means that the government can hold someone in a prison outside the United States indefinately without trial and without any review by a Judge. Even if that prison is on a military base that has been controlled by the United States for more than a century.

This post sums up the problem with the Court’s ruling quite well:

The court appears to concede that if an alien detainee captured overseas is thereafter detained in sovereign territory, the detainee is protected by a constitutional right of habeas. (See its discussion of the Rex v. Schiever case from 1759, pages 14-15, in which the court entertained the habeas petition of an alien detainee brought to Liverpool.). What this means is this:

Recall that the GTMO detains were all captured halfway around the globe, and then brought to the Western Hemisphere. Thus, the only reason they are not entitled to habeas rights is that their U.S. captors chose to turn left and take them to the U.S.-run facility in GTMO, rather than turning right to go to a U.S. facility in say, South Carolina. Indeed, according to John Yoo’s new book (and other sources), they were taken to GTMO precisely for the purpose of keeping them out of the reach of U.S. courts. Whatever the constitutional rule ought to be for aliens detained near a battlefield half a world away, it seems perverse, to say the least, that so many important constitutional protections should turn on which direction we choose to direct our ships (or planes) carrying detainees a few miles off the Florida coast.

Especially when, as is clearly the case here, the prisoners were taken to GTMO with the specific intent of keeping them out of the reach, and beyond the review, of the Judicial Branch.

Memo: The Earth Doesn’t Move

Cross posted here at Fearless Philosophy for Free Minds

Kansas’ government school science curriculum is no longer the laughing stock of the nation and the world; the dubious honor may next be bestowed on Georgia. Georgia state representative Ben Bridges has circulated a memo to other state lawmakers around the country encouraging his colleagues to challenge the teaching of evolution (while promoting of I.D. creation “science”) in court by stating that evolution is not science but part of another religion thus violating the separation of church and state. This in itself is nothing too unusual; those who promote I.D. have made that argument before. Bridges memo goes even further: evolution is part of an ancient Jewish conspiracy! Obviously, this did not sit well with the Anti-defamation League.

Just when I thought this story couldn’t get nuttier, the memo has links to a site called fixedearth.com as its authority. Fixedearth.com not only takes on well-established scientific theories of evolution and the big bang (what the site calls “big bangism”) but the very fact that…the earth revolves around the sun! According to the site the earth DOES NOT MOVE and the sun REVOLVES AROUND THE EARTH. No shit.

Marshall Hall, the sites creator and former government school teacher (scary), believes that the idea that the earth revolves around the sun is also a giant conspiracy to discredit the bible. Hall references two bible verses “The world is established and cannot move” (Psalm 93:1) and “He hangeth the Earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7). Following these verses, Hall goes on to say:

The Bible and all real evidence confirms that this is precisely what He did, and indeed:

The Earth is not rotating…nor is it going around the sun.

The universe is not one ten trillionth the size we are told.

Today’s cosmology fulfills an anti-Bible religious plan disguised as “science”.

The whole scheme from Copernicanism to Big Bangism is a factless lie.

Those lies have planted the Truth-killing virus of evolutionism in every aspect of man’s “knowledge” about the Universe, the Earth, and Himself.

I can’t say that I am all that surprised that there are such people out there who have not left the dark ages. What is a little surprising and very disturbing is the idea that a U.S. lawmaker on any level would listen to moon bats such as Marshall Hall to put forward an agenda in government schools. Had I stumbled across this site myself, I would have thought it to be a spoof to mock creationists because I know that most creationists would never question the idea that the earth revolves around the sun. Most creationists would not take Psalm 93:1 and Job 26:7 literally and would say that the descriptions made in these verses were based on the understanding people had of the universe at that time (which is a lame explanation if you ask me seeing that they were supposedly authored by the creator of the universe). In a previous post, I wrote the following statement:

Since we don’t want to offend the fragile faith of the fundies, why not allow them to substitute their own version of reality in all the other sciences? Clearly the astronomers don’t know what they are talking about either because the Bible clearly stated that the earth was flat and that the sun revolves around the earth. We ought to burn all books written which contradict the Bible. This will be no small task: we pretty much have to rid ourselves of everything we have learned about biology, geology, astronomy, anthropology, psychiatry, history, mathematics, medicine, and more.

Little did I know at the time I wrote that statement that there were fundies with influence setting out to do just that. Could there ever be a better argument for school privatization and school choice than this?

Hat tip: Nealz Nuze

Related Posts:
Sunday School Science Lesson
The End of Faith (Book Review)
Can Mysticism Co-Exist with Reason and Liberty?
The Battle for Young Minds

The State of Liberty

I got bored today and wrote this, it’s kind of elaborating on things I’ve written here and on my site.

The United States of America…We are the bastion of liberty and the world’s object of admiration, as Reagan said, we are that “shining city on a hill,” right?

Many of us would like to believe these things. But what is a country where property rights mean little when compared to the will of the common good or a country where a third of one’s earnings are forcefully confiscated from the government and shifted through bureaucracy to corrupt and bankrupt government programs.

In the United States we have seen a constant assault on our liberties from both the right and the left. In the so-called “Progressive era,” the nation witnessed an assault on the spirit of Constitution, if not the Constitution it’s self. Progressives passed amendments to the Constitution that allowed for a direct tax on income and the direct election of Senators, virtually eliminating representation of the States in Congress.

» Read more

Just Say No To the E.U.

Appparently, the European Union wants the rest of the world to adopt their rules:

Brussels wants the rest of the world to adopt the European Union’s regulations, the European Commission will say this week.

A Commission policy paper that examines the future of the Union’s single market says European single market rules have inspired global standard-setting in areas such as product safety, the environment, securities and corporate governance.

“Increasingly the world is looking to Europe and adopts the standards that are set here,” the paper, seen by the Financial Times, says.

The paper calls on the EU to encourage other jurisdictions to follow suit – for example by “promoting European standards internationally through international organisation and bilateral agreements”.

This would not be good news for people who believe in free markets, because the E.U. is hardly what one could call a free market economy:

The two sides have very different regulatory philosophies, with the EU placing a heavy emphasis on consumer protection and environmental legislation while the US tends to promote a more market-based approach. Some critics of the European approach argue that the Union’s stance on issues such as GM foods may also reflect a desire to protect the region’s commercial interests.

In other words, the same “democratic” socialism that has been a hallmark of European economies for decades. Asking the rest of the world to adopt these policies is essentially asking them to join France and Germany in the land of permanent double-digit unemployment.

H/T: Cato@Liberty

Ron Paul: The Real Republican

Radley Balko’s has an interesting column at Fox News about Ron Paul this week and he clearly understands the impact that the Paul campaign could have if things go right:

Paul’s presence in the race is important because he’ll put issues on the table that would otherwise be completely ignored. His presence in the primary debates alone will make them far more substantive and interesting than they’ve been in a generation. One example is the continuing disaster that is the drug war, which Paul rightly believes to be both immoral and unconstitutional. Paul also opposed the war in Iraq from its inception. Those two issues alone will differentiate him from every other candidate on the stage.

But Paul can then swing to the right of every other candidate on federal spending, regulation, the Nanny State, and the growth of government. On these issues, he can reliably and credibly serve as the party’s conscience, and browbeat the sitting senators and congressmen running for president for their votes issues like the prescription drug benefit, the surge in federal spending, and the party’s complicity in the corrupt earmarking process.

(…)

While Paul probably can’t win the GOP nomination, there’s a chance he can survive deep enough into the primaries to foster a national debate on issues like drug prohibition, as well as force the Republican Party to do some soul-searching, and perhaps reconnect with its limited government, Barry Goldwater roots.

In a way, Paul could have the same impact on the GOP in 2008 that Howard Dean had on the Democratic Party in 2004. Dean didn’t win the nomination, but he did end up pulling the candidates and the party further toward the left, specifically on the issue of the Iraq War. He also managed to get himself appointed Chairman of the DNC and, while I don’t think, that Paul will go that far, I do agree with Balko that Paul could have an impact on the political debate that far outweighs his actual popularity at the polls:

Ideally, Paul’s bona fides on immigration, abortion, federalism, constitutionalism, and limited government will win him credibility with and respect from primary voters, giving him leverage to take principled stands and spur discussion on issues like the drug war, privacy, foreign policy, and civil liberties. He could at least win enough votes and support to last well into the spring, forcing the other candidates to adopt parts of his agenda, and the press to cover his platform.

Of course, things could also go badly:

Under the less optimistic scenario, Republican Party leaders, primary opponents, and the punditocracy punish Paul for his principles, and demagogue his position on Iraq, the drug war, and federal meddling in our personal lives. Talk radio, conservative leaders, and the party machinery dismiss him as an unserious candidate, and primary voters take their cue. Under this scenario, Paul bows out early, the remaining candidates press on with business as usual, and the Republican Party continues down its unfortunate recent trajectory.

Whether that happens depends, as Balko points out, on whether George W. Bush has succeeded in destroying the limited government soul of the GOP.

Related Posts:

Ron Paul For President !
Ron Paul’s Presidential Chances
Ron Paul Votes For Price Fixing Prescription Drugs
A Moment of Hubris On the Ron Paul For President Campaign
Further Thoughts On The Ron Paul For President Campaign
The Ron Paul Interview
Ron Paul: The Least Malleable Republican

Supreme Court Strikes Down Punitive Damage Award Against Philip Morris

This morning, the Supreme Court overturned a jury verdict of nearly $ 80 million against Philip Morris:

The Supreme Court today threw out a nearly $80 million jury award against the Philip Morris tobacco company, a victory for it and other big businesses seeking limits on what juries may award to punish companies.

The court ruled 5-4 that the jury had not been properly instructed to consider how to award punitive damages in an Oregon case in which a smoker’s widow had sued Philip Morris USA, now part of the Altria Group.

The jury awarded Mayola Williams $821,000 in compensation, then tacked on the punitive award in part to penalize the company for what was termed a “massive market-directed fraud” that convinced people smoking was not dangerous and did harm to many others.

But the court ruled that the constitution’s due process clause forbids a state to use punitive damages to punish a company for injury that it inflicts upon others who are “essentially, strangers to the litigation,” according to the majority opinion written by Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

Breyer said jurors may take into account that harm caused to others shows reprehensible conduct, but “a jury may go no further than this and use a punitive damages verdict to punish a defendant directly on account of harms it is alleged to have visited on nonparties.”

This decision is only the latest in a trend that has seen the Supreme Court place limits on the ability of Judges and juries to award astronomical punitive damages that are out of proportion to the damage actually sustained by the Plaintiff:

While compensatory damages make up for a plaintiff’s direct loss, punitive damages are imposed as a penalty, and are typically left by state law in the hands of juries.

The court has steadily curtailed punitive rulings, however, finding that they must be proportionate to the wrong committed, and even suggesting a financial limit — that punitive rulings be no more than nine times more than any compensatory damages.

In this case, the punitive damages awarded by the jury were nearly 100 times greater than the actual damages suffered by the Plaintiff. Though the Court did not address the issue of the size of the award in this opinion (though I wouldn’t be surprised to see this same case back before the Court on that issue in a few years), this clearly constitutes a violation of due process.

McCain Slams Rumsfeld

John McCain, long one of the Bush Administration’s most ardent supporters when it came to the Iraq War, made a speech today blaming most of the current situation there on former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld:

BLUFFTON, South Carolina (AP) — Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Monday the war in Iraq has been mismanaged for years and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will be remembered as one of the worst in history.

“We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement — that’s the kindest word I can give you — of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war,” the Arizona senator said.

“The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously.” McCain told an overflow crowd of more than 800 at a retirement community near Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, complained that Rumsfeld never put enough troops on the ground to succeed in Iraq.

“I think that Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history,” McCain said to applause.

This is all very well and good Senator, and quite frankly I think you’re absolutely right on this one, but I can’t help but wonder why you weren’t saying this when Donald Rumsfeld was actually the Secretary of Defense.

Quotes Of The Day: George Washington Edition

As we mark the 275th anniversary of the birth of our nation’s first President, there isn’t a better time to note some of his more important observations:

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it.

Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.

The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.

The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.

The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.

Oh…the hypocrisy

Who said the following?:

I wholeheartedly support withholding funds… Although it is a drastic step and ties the President’s hands, I do not feel like we have any other choice. The President has tied our hands, gone against the wishes of the American people, and this is the last best way I know how to show my respect for our American servicemen and women. They are helpless, following orders.

Thirty years ago when I was sent to Vietnam in a similar situation, Vietnam started out as a peace type mission, no defined goal, no exit strategy, no idea whose side we were on, and a created incident to gain support of the Congress. A peacekeeping mission? Come on. Does this not sound just like a carbon copy? I think it is.

You are probably thinking that it’s some ultra-leftist liberal douche bag, right? Nope. These are the words of Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX), a staunch supporter of the Iraq war. These words come a 1995 speech when Johnson was speaking out against Clinton sending troops to Bosnia.

Eroding Posse Comitatus

The New York Times writes today about a little-known law passed late last year that significantly eroded the line between law enforcement and the military:

A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night. So it was with a provision quietly tucked into the enormous defense budget bill at the Bush administration’s behest that makes it easier for a president to override local control of law enforcement and declare martial law.

The provision, signed into law in October, weakens two obscure but important bulwarks of liberty. One is the doctrine that bars military forces, including a federalized National Guard, from engaging in law enforcement. Called posse comitatus, it was enshrined in law after the Civil War to preserve the line between civil government and the military. The other is the Insurrection Act of 1807, which provides the major exemptions to posse comitatus. It essentially limits a president’s use of the military in law enforcement to putting down lawlessness, insurrection and rebellion, where a state is violating federal law or depriving people of constitutional rights.

The newly enacted provisions upset this careful balance. They shift the focus from making sure that federal laws are enforced to restoring public order. Beyond cases of actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or to any “other condition.”

And, as the Times noted, this was all done in the dead of night as an amendment to a defense appropriations bill. Nobody noticed it was there and it wasn’t seriously debated before being passed. That was, as Brendan Loy notes, simply indefensible. It is, however, consistent with the Bush Administration’s view of Presidential power, which seems to have few, if any, limits.

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