Monthly Archives: September 2007

Newt Gingrich Announces He Won’t Run For President

After flirting for months without ever committing to anything, former Speaker Newt Gingrich has announced that he won’t be running for President:

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) — Two days after hinting he wanted to try for the White House, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich decided he would not run for president, his spokesman said Saturday.

Rick Tyler said Gingrich realized he couldn’t run a political action committee — his American Solutions group — and form an exploratory committee to run for president as well.

“He will continue to bring the American people solutions to the challenges America faces through American Solutions, not as a candidate for president,” Tyler said in a telephone interview.

Gingrich told supporters in Marietta, Georgia, on Thursday that if they pledged at least $30 million to his campaign over a three-week period starting Monday, he would compete for the Republican nomination.

Gingrich, 64, has hinted for months that he would join the GOP presidential race if he determined no other candidate appeared able to take on the Democrats in 2008.

His hinting has become louder in recent weeks, with his suggestion that Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York is destined to be the Democratic nominee and that he would be the best Republican to debate her.

Gingrich said, however, that he has no desire to personally raise campaign funds.

This is not entirely surprising. Gingrich would’ve made an interesting addition to the race, but never a serious contender for the nomination. He simply had too much baggage.

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In Memory Of John Berthoud

John Berthoud was one of the unseen faces in Washington fighting the good fight for fiscal conservatism and lower takes. Since 1997, he headed the National Taxpayers Union, one of the premier lobbying groups in Washington that seeks to advance an agenda of lower taxes and lower spending.

Late last week, Mr. Berthoud died at his home in Virginia.

Dear Friends,

We are sorry to announce the passing of John Berthoud. As you may know, he has led both the National Taxpayers Union and National Taxpayers Union Foundation over the last 11 years. We have looked to him as a strong leader, compassionate friend, and a fierce fighter for freedom.

Pete Sepp, Vice President for Communications, shared his surprise, “John Berthoud’s death today was as sudden as it was shocking and saddening to all who knew him. His colleagues found him in peace at his home today. All of our staff, just as the entire policy community in Washington, are doing the best they can to cope with an irreplaceable loss.”

We give our sincere condolences to his family and friends and hope you will pay tribute with comments to our blog and facebook group. Sepp continued, “John was a true 21st century Renaissance man. He was a teacher, a mentor, a respected intellectual, and a lover of life. That’s what makes his passing all the more tragic.” Though we mourn the loss of a man and celebrate his amazing life filled with love, study, travel, and leadership, his cause and a hope for a brighter future lives on. We will press on with purpose and be thankful for his contributions to our own journeys.

Sincerely,

National Taxpayers Union &
National Taxpayers Union Foundation Staff

There are few men in Washington who devote their careers to something that actually helps the cause of freedom and liberty, which is why John Berthoud will be missed.

Ron Paul Raises $ 1 Million In Seven-Day Online Campaign

I’ve been critical of the campaign before, but this was a nicely executed fund-raising drive and a nicely-executed publicity campaign all at the same time:

Dr. Paul was campaigning in New Hampshire with his wife Carol and their family when our $1,000,000 goal was reached last night.  As the time drew near, they watched on a laptop as the counter reached the $1 million mark.  They, along with staff, supporters and volunteers throughout the country then celebrated this extraordinary accomplishment.

Over $1,000,000 raised in seven days for the Ron Paul 2008 presidential campaign.  Remarkable!

On behalf of Dr. Paul and every member of the campaign staff:  Thank you!!

Kent Snyder
Chairman
Ron Paul 2008

It will be interesting to see where this plays into the end-of-quarter numbers that should be coming out in the next few days.

Outrageous Court Decision Of The Week

Progress in the War Against Advil, from the always wacky Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:

Safford Middle School officials did not violate the civil rights of a 13-year-old Safford girl when they forced her to disrobe and expose her breasts and pubic area four years ago while looking for a drug, according to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

The justices voted 2-1 in favor of the Safford School District on Sept. 21. The decision upheld a federal district court’s summary judgement that Safford Middle School Vice Principal Kerry Wilson, school nurse Peggy Schwallier and administrative assistant Helen Romero did not violate the girl’s Fourth Amendment rights on Oct. 8, 2003, when they subjected her to a strip search in an effort to find Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug sold over the counter and in prescription strengths.

(…)

The girl’s mother filed a federal law suit against the district and Middle School officials because they forced her daughter to strip down to her underwear then move her bra and panties in such a way that her breasts and pubic area were exposed. The mother also asserts that she was not notified of the impending search.

In the opinion written by Judge Richard Clifton, “Based on the information available to them, defendants (Safford School District, Wilson, Schwallier and Romero) had ‘reasonable grounds’ for suspecting that the search of (the girl’s) person would turn up evidence that (the girl) had violated or was violating either the law or the rules of the school.”

Clifton wrote that Wilson and the others had reasonable grounds for believing the girl had Ibuprofen based on conversations with two other students.

When they outlaw Advil, only outlaws will have Advil.

H/T: Radley Balko

Hillary Clinton: Let’s Start Socialism At The Cradle, Literally

For all the complaining I do about the Republican Party, there are days like today when I’m reminded of just how bad the alternative is:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that every child born in the United States should get a $5,000 “baby bond” from the government to help pay for future costs of college or buying a home. Clinton, her party’s front-runner in the 2008 race, made the suggestion during a forum hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus.

“I like the idea of giving every baby born in America a $5,000 account that will grow over time, so that when that young person turns 18 if they have finished high school they will be able to access it to go to college or maybe they will be able to make that downpayment on their first home,” she said.

The New York senator did not offer any estimate of the total cost of such a program or how she would pay for it. Approximately 4 million babies are born each year in the United States.

Let’s do some math.

4 million babies x $ 5,000 per baby = $ 20,000,000,000 per year.

$ 20,000,000,000 x 3.47%(the current interest rate on Series EE savings bonds) = $ 694,000,000/year interest.

$ 694,000,000 x 18 years = 12,492,000,000

And that’s just one year’s worth of babies.

Where, exactly, is that money going to come from ?

Update: As the comments indicate, these numbers are approximations and don’t factor in things like inflation, the compounding of interest, or the incentives that might be created by a government program that effectively pays people $ 5,000 to have a baby. If anything, reality would probably turn out to be far worse that what I’ve estimated.

Smoke ‘em if You got ‘em…for the Good of the Children

With the expiration of SCHIP looming on September 30th, the congress plans to extend and expand the program by adding another $35 billion over the next 5 years despite President Bush’s threat to veto the bill. The House passed the bill 265-159 with the support of 45 Republicans. The Senate also is expected to pass the bill with the help of Republicans and other Republicans are being targeted in an effort to override the veto. Fortunately, it appears that there are not enough votes to override the veto, but it’s going to be close.

With projected shortfall of $43 trillion in current entitlement spending, how is it that these Republicans think they can support this monstrosity without receiving the wrath of its base? I have a few theories but I think many believe they can support the program because of the perception that most taxpayers will not be funding the program. On paper, the only people who will be funding SCHIP will be smokers in the form of a $.61 sales tax. Smokers deserve to be punished anyway for their disgusting habit and surely those who crafted the bill arrived at this figure based on how much the SCHIP program is supposed to cost?

The New York Sun found some interesting research on whether or not the tax increase on cigarettes would be enough to fund the program:

We’ve written before on how corrupt is the government’s interest in the cigarette business. It turns out that the government needs to keep people smoking; the Heritage Foundation estimates the government would need to sign up some 22 million more Americans to take up smoking by 2017 to fund this increase in SCHIP. To add to the irony, most smokers are low-income Americans, meaning that the poor essentially will be funding the health insurance of the middle class. Mr. Bush would be right to veto it while working to increase access to private insurance through tax breaks and deregulation.

So if the Heritage Foundation is correct, where will the remaining revenues come from? This sin tax is merely a ruse to get people who otherwise would not support a tax increase to support a tax on others. It’s the old game of pitting one group of Americans against another to achieve political aims. What far too many people fail to realize is that we will all bear these costs; even if the states spent the funds only on health insurance for children (historically these revenues curiously end up funding projects that have nothing to do with the stated purpose of the tax).

Besides this shortfall, insurance for those who choose not to join the government health program will pay higher healthcare costs. Michael F. Cannon of the CATO Institute writes:

Inevitably, many families simply substitute SCHIP for private coverage. Economists Jonathan Gruber of MIT and Kosali Simon of Cornell University find that, in effect, when government expands eligibility for SCHIP and Medicaid, six out of every 10 people added to the rolls already have private coverage. Only four in 10 were previously uninsured.

In other words, SCHIP and Medicaid cover four previously uninsured Americans for the price of 10. That’s a bad deal even by government standards. Yet Republicans want to renew it, and Democrats think it’s an absolute bargain. They want to enroll more than 70 percent of all children.

It gets worse. SCHIP discourages these families from climbing the economic ladder. If a single mother of two earning minimum wage in New Mexico increases her annual earnings by $30,000, her net income does not change: She pays an additional $4,000 in taxes and loses $26,000 in SCHIP and other government benefits. Why should families expend that extra effort if it will leave them no better off financially? Expanding SCHIP would pull even more families into that low-wage trap.

It seems to me that Republicans are supporting this bill because they don’t want to be perceived as “against poor children” (But its not like they will get credit for it anyway come election time). Would it really be that difficult to come up with a free market alternative that would do a better job than a government program ever could? Cannon believes there is such a solution:

Each state forbids its residents to purchase coverage from out of state. That allows each state to enact costly health-insurance regulations without fear of competition from states with more consumer-friendly regulation. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that these regulations increase health premiums by as much as 15 percent.

Congress could make coverage more affordable simply by letting consumers and employers purchase out-of-state coverage. Tearing down those trade barriers would force states to provide the protections consumers demand and eliminate unnecessary regulations. States that don’t provide consumer-friendly regulations would lose premium tax revenue to other states.

Sweeping away those trade barriers would make coverage more affordable without increasing government spending, trapping families in low-wage jobs or increasing prices for private purchasers.

Imagine that: instead of increasing government involvement in healthcare, getting government out of the way would do a better job. For a moment there I thought I would be obligated to take up smoking again…for the good of the children.

Ron Paul Meets Fundraising Goal, Sets New One

A few days ago, the Ron Paul campaign started a campaign to raise $ 500,000 in a single campaign before the end of the quarter on September 30th.

Well, the quarter isn’t over, but the goal has been met.

And, now the campaign is shooting for an equally amazing fundraising goal, $ 1,000,000.

 

Frankly, I’m floored. And very, very grateful. Our $500,000 online fundraising goal for the end of the quarter was reached so fast it took my breath away. But we can’t stop now. So I am raising the bar to $1 million by midnight, September 30th. I am so grateful for all you have done. Would you help me with this?

Whenever I face a hit piece on tv, or a smear in a newspaper column, I remember my secret weapon: you. In establishment politics, people make campaign contributions because they want something: a contract, a subsidy, a special-interest deal. But the thousands of people who contribute to this campaign want no favors from big government — which must come at the expense of their fellow citizens, and sometimes our soldiers’ lives. They want only what is their God-given, natural, and constitutional right: their freedom.

What a difference from the other campaigns. What a refreshing change from politics as usual. What a sign of the reborn American freedom that can be ours, and our children’s, and our grandchildren’s.

Aggressive wars, income taxes, national IDs, domestic spying, torture regimes, secret prisons, Federal Reserve manipulation — we don’t have to take it any more.

And the next step to not taking it is that $1 million goal. Please give https://www.ronpaul2008.com/donate/ as much as you can, before midnight on Sunday, September 30th.

There are two reasons:

1) We need the money. As we move into the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, then South Carolina, California, Texas, and all the rest, we need your support. We can’t duplicate the spending of the big boys, and we don’t have to, thanks to the internet and our magnificent army of volunteers.

But we need constant website improvements, phone banks, voter registration and get out the vote efforts, mailings, travel, printings, many small offices, targeted TV and radio ads, legal and accounting help, and 101 other things. And without donors like you, we can’t do a darn thing.

2) I want to make the mainstream media sit up and take notice. They did when we beat John McCain for cash-on-hand in the last quarter. This quarter, we can really shock them — if you help. Our total can show the sort of enthusiasm, organization, and grassroots support that will chill every big-government backer, and warm the heart of every lover of freedom — and open the eyes of the media.

Please, help me win a victory for liberty with your most generous gift. You and I are engaged in an historic enterprise. It is growing in power and influence by the day and by the hour. But it will stutter to a stop without people like you. I need your help. Our cause needs your help. We can make $1 million. We can win this thing. Please help me do it. Donate today: https://www.ronpaul2008.com/donate/

Sincerely,

Ron

$ 500,000 in less than three days is a pretty tall order, but the website shows they’re already over $ 700,000, so anything is possible.

H/T: The Crossed Pond 

Was Sir Robert Cruising For a Tasing?

Ever wonder why the the police in London are called Bobbies? They got that name from their founder, Sir Robert Peel, who is widely held to be the father of modern policing. I don’t think this is accurate, since modern policing as of the beginning of the 21th century has as much to do with Sir Robert’s ideas as the Borgia papacy had to do with St Peter’s ideas.

Sir Robert Peel is a bit of a conundrum: To his credit, he broke the back of the landed gentry in England by repealing the Corn Laws when he was prime minister. Shamefully, he was a supporter of laws that forbade Catholics from owning land and participating in certain professions. He also passed the first ‘Factory Laws’ which, in effect, punished factory owners for the “crime” of opening businesses that were more attractive to workers than slaving away on farms for no money at all.

However, prior to becoming prime minister, Sir Robert Peel was given the task of introducing professional law enforcers or ‘police’ to London, and here he made his greatest contribution to humanity. Prior to this law enforcement was carried out by whatever men at arms noblemen had at their disposal. The result, when coupled with a death penalty for felonies, was predictable, law enforcement was generally performed by amateurs whose mistakes or malice sent many an innocent person to the gallows.

In an attempt to establish a police force that possessed discipline and professionalism, Sir Robert Peel published the following principles:

The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder

1.The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.

2.Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.

3.The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.

4.Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.

5.Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient.

6.Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

7.Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.

8.The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

I think in this day and age, most police have never learned these principles, which shows up in the increasingly draconian and brutal relationship policemen seem to have with the rest of the polity.

I especially want to call attention to the last three principles:

Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

Many policemen have taken to viewing themselves as being somehow separated from the citizenry. This view manifests itself in terms like “civilian” for citizens who are not police, and talk of “the thin blue line”. The view increasingly seems to be that the police are the fathers or teachers, and that the non-police are savages or children who must be disciplined and restrained lest they make Lord of the Flies a reality.

This view is wrong and incompatible with a civilized society. We are all police: the neighbor who stops kids from vandalizing a mail-box, the armed grandmother who subdues an armed robber are all police. The police are the people: some policemen have been proved to be serial killers, muggers, thieves, arsonists, serial rapists, and extortionists. There is nothing special about a person who puts on a blue uniform, straps a gun to his waist and goes out to walk around the city looking for trouble.

Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.

Not only are police appearing to usurp the power of the judiciary, they are actively subverting it, with the support of legislators Asset forfeitures permit police to seize property for their own use without a trial. Policemen have in several instances acted as executioners or death squads. Warrants are routinely rubber stamped by the judiciary, particularly in areas where judges are elected and are fearful of the police union endorsing their opponents in elections.

The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

The hysterical zero tolerance policies, the high-visibility shows of force, the actions to “send a message to whatever malefactor is the target-du-jour” do not improve society, make it safer or more orderly. While they may make a splash that leads to more revenue from the legislature, in the end, they seriously damage the fabric of society. Police who engage in such destructive activities are in effect peeing in their water-well.

Police have to live in the same society that their enemies do. They should bear this in mind – for they are destroying it.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Part of PATRIOT Act ruled unconstitutional

Another federal judge has ruled that sections of the so-called USA PATRIOT Act are unconstitutional:

Two provisions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional because they allow search warrants to be issued without a showing of probable cause, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as amended by the Patriot Act, “now permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment.”

Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield sought the ruling in a lawsuit against the federal government after he was mistakenly linked by the FBI to the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in 2004.

The Patriot Act greatly expanded the authority of law enforcers to investigate suspected acts of terrorism, both domestically and abroad.

The Fourth Amendment says:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

You cannot simply throw the Constitution out the window. Individuals still have rights and the government still has limits.

Ron Paul’s Fundraising: Better Than Ever ?

That seems to be the implication of the rumors that have been circulating for several days now:

Supporters of long-shot GOP presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) are putting their money where their mouth is — the Internet.

With the third quarter drawing to a close, the campaign said it expects to exceed the $2.4 million haul it brought in during the second quarter, even though fundraising is usually slower in the summer.

“We will exceed our fundraising from last quarter — by exactly how much is yet to be seen,” Paul’s communications director, Jesse Benton, said. “We have a lot of money coming in online and have also launched a successful high-dollar funder program.”

The campaign is also using the website to raise $ 500,000 by the end of the 3rd Quarter, which happens to be Sunday.  As of this afternoon, they are closing in on $ 350,000 with four days to go.

The money is important because we’re getting to the point where even a guerrilla campaign like the one the Paul campaign is running is going to have to start spending what money they do have in places like Iowa and New Hampshire. The trick is going to be to spend it smartly and keep the money coming in until the first official votes are cast.

After that, everything — fundraising most importantly — will depend on the votes.

The Kind Of Help Ron Paul Doesn’t Need

Ron Paul’s supporters need to learn that stuff like this does not help your candidate:

Texas congressman and Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul does not believe that 9/11 was an “inside job” and his campaign distanced itself from a raucous pro-Paul demonstration on a Mackinac Island ferry Friday night, a Paul spokesman said Monday.

In the incident, Paul’s supporters taunted former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for alleged complicity in the attacks.

Spokesman Jesse Benton said the campaign was aware of Internet reports about the demonstration, which occurred late Friday when Giuliani boarded a ferry loaded with Paul supporters leaving a Michigan GOP conference. No Paul campaign officials were involved, Benton said.

According to one eyewitness, Giuliani was beset by dozens of Paul enthusiasts as he was leaving the island, some of whom shouted taunts about 9/11, including: “9/11 was an inside job” and “Rudy, Rudy, what did you do with the gold?” — an apparent reference to rumors about $200 million in gold alleged to have disappeared in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

Ed Wyszynski, a longtime party activist from Eagle, said the Paul supporters threatened to throw Giuliani overboard and harrassed him as he took shelter in the ferry’s pilothouse for the 15-minute journey back to Mackinaw City.

“It was awful,” said Wyszynski, who supports Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination.

People, stop acting like children.

Could Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Visit to Columbia University be a Good Thing?

NEW YORK – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad faced sharp criticism Monday about his opinions on women, gays, Israel, nuclear weapons and the Holocaust in an appearance at Columbia University, where protesters lined the streets bearing signs reading, “Hitler Lives.”

Inside a crowded lecture hall, the university president issued blistering introductory remarks. Ahmadinejad exhibits “all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator,” declared Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, who questioned the Iranian leader’s record on human rights and his statements that the Holocaust was a myth.

Ahmadinejad bristled at Bollinger’s comments, calling the introduction “an insult to the knowledge of the audience here.”

At first I was not that fond of the idea of such an evil man visiting an American college campus. Why should we give him the platform? We give him the platform for a couple of reasons: the American people and the free world hear his words and those words are challenged in a free society. In American soil, Ahmadinejad can only condemn Lee Bollinger and other dissenters with words rather than torture or death. On American soil, Ahmadinejad’s words can be challenged. When the despot says that there are no homosexuals in Iran, the audience can laugh and mock him and there isn’t one damn thing he can do about it!

The only one insulting the knowledge of the audience at Columbia University, the American people, and the free world is you, Ahmadinejad. You vile, cruel, evil, sick, man! I’m not afraid of your words. I laugh at them.

http://www.coxandforkum.com/archives/07.09.24.Outed-X.gif

Free speech is perhaps America’s greatest strength. One would only imagine what would have happened to Mr. Bollinger had he called the Iranian despot a “petty and cruel dictator” in Iran.

Contrast this with what is common in America. We criticize our leaders on a daily basis. Sometimes the criticism isn’t even particularly intelligent. Just the other day a student at Colorado State University wrote a particularly intelligent, concise, four-word editorial in the Rocky Mountain Collegian: “Taser this. FUCK BUSH.”

While it is true that the author of this brilliant opinion piece may be fired from the paper (the paper lost $30,000 in advertising within hours of the article’s publication), he does not have to worry about being thrown in prison or executed for criticizing the president. Rather than the government taking action the free market does the job.*

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia University is a shining example to the world that we support free speech even if we despise the speech. Who knows, maybe the Iranian people who yearn for freedom will be emboldened by this?

Now as for the idea of this animal visiting ground zero…

http://www.coxandforkum.com/archives/07.09.20.Violation-X.gif

» Read more

Monday Open Thread: Early Primary Edition

We’re appearing to see a definitive change in American presidential elections, with a rush for states to move their primaries forward as early as possible. This throws out the “traditional order” where states like Iowa and New Hampshire play key roles. At stake is the potential chance for dark-horse candidates like Ron Paul to win the nomination. For someone like Ron Paul to have a chance, he needs a strong showing within those states, and then enough time to turn that buzz into actual support. In many ways, it is assumed that the mass change of primary dates will do nothing more than help the front-runners win and relegate the second-tier candidates to the scrap-heap of history. On the opposite side, many states feel that there is no legitimate reason why Iowa and New Hampshire should hold such a revered position in picking our president.

These changes could dramatically impact the 2008 race. So what do you guys think? Is it a good thing, or a bad thing?

A Small Victory

If anyone has any doubts about whether or not the war on (some) drugs and mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines turn otherwise law abiding citizens into criminals, look no further than the injustice Richard Paey suffered in the State of Florida. To make a long story short: Paey received serious injuries in a car accident, his doctor prescribed pain medication, Paey moves to Florida, Paey could not find a doctor who would renew his prescriptions, Paey forges prescriptions to relieve his pain, Paey is arrested, convicted, and receives a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 ½ years.

Here’s the real kicker:

Everyone, including judges, acknowledged the traffic accident victim was using the pills for debilitating pain. And since his incarceration, prison doctors have hooked him up to a morphine drip, which delivers more narcotics in about two days than he was convicted of trafficking.

That’s right: the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for “drug trafficking” tied the judges’ hands. A strict interpretation of the Florida law meant this wheelchair bound “criminal” required this harsh sentence. The only hope for Richard Paey would be to receive a commuted sentence or a pardon from the governor; a very unlikely scenario.

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But that unlikely scenario became a reality today when Florida Governor Charlie Crist gave Richard Paey a full pardon—a development which went beyond his own legal team’s request to commute his sentence. Richard Paey was wheeled out of prison by a prison guard a free man with all of his civil rights restored!

The state’s parole commission recommended denying clemency for Paey, who was only seeking to have his prison sentence commuted. But after his lawyer, wife and four children wept and pleaded for Paey’s release, Crist and the Cabinet went further than Paey expected by unanimously agreeing to grant him a full pardon — meaning he’ll have the right to vote and carry firearms.

They also acknowledged that the state’s drug laws might be unfair.

”This is not a pleasant case,” said Attorney General Bill McCollum, who noted that he supported mandatory-minimum sentences when he was in Congress. “Our laws are very much to blame.”

The state’s drug laws might be unfair? Gee, do ya think! Hopefully the AG’s realization of these unfair laws will extend to Florida legislators and legislators throughout the country. No fair human being could suggest that Richard Paey should serve hard time for merely relieving his pain.

But so are the prosecutors in Pasco County [to blame], said Paey’s wife, Linda Paey, who said she couldn’t understand why they zealously pursued her husband through three trials despite the widespread acknowledgement that he was a pain victim and not a drug dealer.

”I’ve changed. I no longer trust the police. I don’t trust the justice system,” she said. “Only the media got our case right.”

Crist, too, took a swipe at the prosecutors, saying the war on drugs itself isn’t just to blame in cases such as this. ”If they’re prosecuted appropriately, then justice will be done,” he said. “Obviously, this case cries out for a review of that process.”

Crist may be right in blaming the prosecutors for their overzealousness. After all, where was this overzealousness whenever former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s daughter was busted for a similar crime? Noelle Bush received nowhere near the punishment as did Richard Paey (Oh, I forgot; politicians and their families play by different rules). But prosecutorial overzealousness not withstanding; these mandatory minimum sentencing laws are subject to interpretation both by judges and prosecutors. One prosecutor might decide to file the mandatory minimum charges while another might decide not to. If the law is a bad law, there will be prosecutors who will bring the charges and judges who will rule based on their understanding of the law. Crist can further help right this wrong by pushing the Florida legislature to repeal these draconian laws.

While we may have to contend with this mandatory minimums madness for at least a little while longer, at least for one man the nightmare is over…hopefully.

Hat tip: Radley Balko

Mike Ditka, Former Players Ask the U.S. Senate to “Fix” the NFL

WASHINGTON — After testimony Tuesday by retired NFL players about red tape in qualifying for disability benefits related to on-the-field injuries, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said the league is “dropping the ball.”

[…]

“My hope is that the league will get its act together here,” Kerry said. “I am prepared, if the league doesn’t do that, to introduce, which I hope we would never have to do, legislation to create some kind of appropriate accountability and oversight.”

[…]

Upshaw said that of 1,052 players who have applied for disability since 1993, 428 (40.7%) have had their claims approved. But he told the committee the work could be streamlined if Congress changed a law that requires the six-member board, which makes decisions on claims, to include three representatives from the team owners and three from the union. Upshaw said it “makes sense” for the players union alone to make the decisions.

[…]

Hall of Famer Mike Ditka: “The system is broke. Fix it. … Don’t make proud men beg.”

The idea that former NFL players and coaches have sought help from the U.S. Senate to act as a referee between former players and the NFL bothers me both as a fan of the NFL and as someone who believes the government should stay within its Constitutional boundaries (I’m especially disappointed in “Iron Mike” Ditka for stooping to such a low level; I thought he was made of sterner stuff). If history is any indication, if Ditka et al wish for the congressional oversight over the NFL, they will likely get their wish. John Kerry seems all too eager to put on the zebra stripes, throw the flag, and penalize the NFL for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t we have a few more pressing needs that our elected officials should be concerned with such as the war, the VA system, wasteful spending, etc?

As for the former players, they had to know what they were getting into when they decided to play professional football. NFL players both past and present have received the fame, the fortune, and the ability to retire when they are very young. Sure, the players of yesteryear did not earn quite what today’s players do, and perhaps were not marketed as aggressively as today’s players but they each signed contracts and should have known what the risks were. Football ceases to be a game at the professional level (probably even at the college level) because of the increased size, strength, and speed of the players. Players can and do get injured; most feel the toll on their bodies for the rest of their lives.

Given these risks, what should the federal government do? The only branch of the government that could possibly have a role would be the judicial branch. If the NFL somehow violated the terms of these players contracts, the NFL should be compelled to honor those terms by the courts. If this is not the case, then these former players should have no remedy from the federal government.

This does not mean, however; that these players don’t have other means to pay for their medical expenses. The NFL, its players, and its coaches are not hurting for money. If Ditka doesn’t want to “make proud men beg” then shouldn’t he first appeal to his NFL contacts and pass the hat? Surely, there would be at least a few owners, coaches, players and perhaps even fans who would be willing to donate some of their money to such a cause.

As for those who are currently playing in the NFL, if they are concerned with health issues which inevitably will continue long after retirement, they need to address these issues within their organizations and within the NFL. Not one nanosecond of the American people’s time should be spent on this matter.

Rudy Giuliani Flunks Geography

Apparently, the former Mayor of New York thinks that the North Atlantic Ocean extends alot further than most of us might have thought:

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani urged NATO to admit Australia, India, Israel, Japan and Singapore on Wednesday as part of proposals to combat Islamic extremism.

Okay, so maybe its time for a history lesson here.

The North Altantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was founded in the years after World War II primarily for the purpose of resisting Soviet expansion in Europe. The last time I checked, the Soviet Union didn’t exist anymore. And, notwithstanding my public school education, I’m pretty sure that Australia, India, Israel, Japan, and Singapore are not in Euorpe, and that none of these nations are under the threat of Soviet domination.

I’m not saying that America doesn’t have international interests with these nations worth protecting, but I do wonder why an organization created to counter a threat that no longer exists insists on expanding itself.

Latest Gallup Poll Puts Ron Paul At 4%

Last week, I noted that the first post-summer Gallup Poll seemed to show Ron Paul slipping back into the 1% range after a summer that had him moving up in the polls.

This week’s poll results are out, and it seems that the September 10th release may have been a statistical anomaly:

PRINCETON, NJ — Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani continues to lead the national race for the Republican presidential nomination, although his support has faded to one of its lowest readings of the year. Former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson, who recently announced his candidacy, holds steady in second place, 8 percentage points behind the frontrunner. Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. John McCain has continued to recover from his early August doldrums and is in third place, only 4 points behind Thompson and more than 10 points ahead of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Romney’s mini-bounce after the Iowa straw poll in early August appears to have been short-lived.

In general, support for McCain has shown gradual improvement over the past month, and Americans’ opinions of McCain are at their highest point since May. McCain is now rated as favorably by Americans as Giuliani, and more so than the less-well known Thompson or Romney.

The Sept. 14-16, 2007, Gallup Poll survey finds Giuliani maintaining a significant lead over the eight other announced Republican candidates, with 30% of Republicans (and Republican-leaning independents) supporting the former New York City mayor for the nomination. Following next is Thompson at 22%, McCain at 18%, and Romney at 7%. Both former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and current Texas Congressman Ron Paul get 4% of the vote.

Admittedly, an increase from 3% to 4% is, statistically speaking, not all that important. But at least it shows that the notoriety and support that the Paul campaign had gained over the summer didn’t simply evaporate. It also shows that the only way to really look at poll results is not as a single snapshot, but to watch the overall trends.

And, on the GOP side, the trends are interesting.

Giuliani remains in the lead, but his support is slipping and a guy who has only been in the race for a week is gaining on him fast. McCain is now a third-place candidate, which basically means he’s done. Romney had a boomlet for awhile but seems to be quickly fading.

As for Ron Paul, I’m not sure what it means. 4% is not a number upon which a winning campaign is built, but it does show that there’s growing support for a libertarian message among Republican voters.

And that can only be a good thing.

Happy Constitution Day

It was 220 years ago today that the Constitution was signed by it’s drafters in Philadelphia:

What’s the most important day in American history? Most of us would answer the Fourth of July. But think about today, Sept. 17.

For on this date in 1787, the convention in Philadelphia completed work on one of the greatest acts of creative leadership of all time, “this Constitution of The United States.” The framers rescued America from what James Madison later described as “so gloomy a chaos” and set the world marching toward what we can now see as the Age of Democracy.

Yet there will be no parades today, no picnics or fireworks. Perhaps a library somewhere is sponsoring a talk, but Constitution Day will pass largely unnoticed. Americans have, over the past 40 years, drifted away from a connection to our Constitution, the document that invented the United States as we now understand it and helped it to become the longest enduring democracy in history.

Sadly, this is largely true, but I don’t think a parade is necessary. All you really need to do is read the document itself, and ponder what has become of it.

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