Author Archives: Stephen Gordon

TSA updates from people who opposed the TSA before opposing the TSA was cool

As Stephen Littau noted, November 24th (Wednesday) is the busiest travel date in the country and it’s also National Opt Out Day.  To assist Opt Out Day participants, and all air travelers after Wednesday, the Opt Out Alliance is providing free “Know Your Rights” travelers cards. I spoke with one of the key people at the Opt Out Alliance and he stated that because there isn’t enough time for people to receive a real card via snail mail before Wednesday, people who sign up will get an immediate .pdf copy of the card by e-mail and their wallet card will arrive later in the mail.

Here are some additional recent Transportation Security Agency highlights:

Penn Jillette gets funny:

[The TSA PR person] said, “Well, the airport is very important to all of our incomes and we don’t want bad press. It’ll hurt everyone, but you have to do what you think is right. But, if you give me your itinerary every time you fly, I’ll be at the airport with you and we can make sure it’s very pleasant for you.”

I have no idea what this means, does it mean that they have a special area where all the friskers are topless showgirls, “We have nothing to hide, do you?” I have no idea. She pushes me for the next time I’m flying. I tell her I’m flying to Chicago around 2 on Sunday, if she wants to get that security guy there to sneer at me. She says, she’ll be there, and it’ll be very easy for me. I have no idea what this means.

Ron Paul gets serious. Here’s the bill he’s introduced:

No law of the United States shall be construed to confer any immunity for a Federal employee or agency or any individual or entity that receives Federal funds, who subjects an individual to any physical contact (including contact with any clothing the individual is wearing), x-rays, or millimeter waves, or aids in the creation of or views a representation of any part of a individual’s body covered by clothing as a condition for such individual to be in an airport or to fly in an aircraft. The preceding sentence shall apply even if the individual or the individual’s parent, guardian, or any other individual gives consent.

Over at Forbes, Art Carden gets pragmatic:

Bipartisan support should be immediate.  For fiscal conservatives, it’s hard to come up with a more wasteful agency than the TSA.  For privacy advocates, eliminating an organization that requires you to choose between a nude body scan or genital groping in order to board a plane should be a no-brainer.

Bob Barr was prophetic, then adds that folks should opt out:

Well, surprise, surprise — the government is not telling us the truth.  In fact, the specifications for the manufacture of the machines mandates that they have the ability to store images on hard disk storage, and that they possess the ability to send the images.   Of course, the transmission of such data creates the obvious possibility that hackers could access the data and print out or view the images.  The images themselves portray people without clothes on, and include relatively clear depiction of genitalia.

Jason Pye described the concept of “security theater”:

I don’t know if you’ve heard the term “security theater,” but that’s what we have in our country. Rather than actually doing their jobs and following up on leads like the one given by this terrorist’s father, security officials are more interested in creating an illusion that we are safe by temporarily curtailing privacy rights or keeping you from bringing a razor in your carry-on.

Doug Mataconis targets President Obama:

More importantly, though, Obama’s response strikes me as being politically tone deaf. In the face of outrage over Americans being groped by TSA agents, children being man-handled in a bizarre procedure that makes no logical sense, and people being exposed to the humiliation of having prosthetic breasts removed or being covered in their own urine, Obama’s “Too bad, you’ve gotta do it anyway” response is a sign of how far removed from reality the Presidency makes a person. If the President or members of his family had to subject themselves to TSA screening on a regular basis, one would think his opinion on the matter w0uld be quite different.

Over at Reason, Hawk Jensen and Nick Gillespie channel Chuck Berry with the ultimate TSA theme song:

My Ding-A-Ling My Ding-A-Ling I want you to play with My Ding-A-Ling
My Ding-A-Ling My Ding-A-Ling I want you to play with My Ding-A-Ling

Back to the serious side of things, Gary Johnson asks “Why Do We Have a TSA?” His solution:

Instead of trying to fix or adjust or moderate TSA airport screening procedures to make them less abusive or slightly more tolerable, I say it is time to turn airport screening and security over to those who should be doing it in the first place: the airlines.

To be sure, there are plenty of additional TSA links and stories out there. Republicans galore are coming out of the woodwork regarding this issue right now. It’s worth noting that the original TSA authorization passed the Senate by a vote of 100 -0. Only nine House Republicans (and zero Democrats) opposed the final conference report on the bill.

Therefore, I thought I’d limit the links to people within the freedom movement who actually opposed the TSA long before opposing the TSA was cool.

It’s time for libertarians to start taking a look at Gary Johnson for POTUS 2012

“That’s the first sign you know you’re a libertarian. You see the red light. You stop. You realize that there’s not a car in sight. And you put your foot on the gas.” - Gary Johnson

Former two-term Republican Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico has been hitting the news a lot lately. This makes sense, as he’s not ruled out a possible presidential bid. Wikipedia provides this brief overview of Johnson’s history:

Gary Earl Johnson (born January 1, 1953 in Minot, North Dakota) is an American businessman and Republican politician who served as the 29th Governor of the U.S. state of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003. He is well-known for his low-tax libertarian views and his regular participation in triathlons.

Founder of one of New Mexico’s largest construction companies,[1] Johnson entered politics for the first term by running for Governor of New Mexico in 1994. He beat incumbent Democratic governor Bruce King by 50% to 40%. He cut the 10% annual growth in the budget by using his gubernatorial veto on a record 48% of bills.[1]

He sought re-election in 1998, winning by a ten-point margin. In his second term, he concentrated on the issue of school voucher reforms, as well as campaigning for marijuana decriminalization. During his tenure as governor, he adhered strictly to an anti-tax, anti-bureaucracy program, and set state and national records for his use of veto powers:[1] more than the other 49 contemporary governors put together.[2][3] Term-limited, Johnson retired from politics at the end of his second term.

In 2009, he founded the Our America Initiative, a 501(c)(4) political advocacy organization. Johnson has also been the subject of media speculation as a possible candidate for President of the United States in the 2012 election.[4]

Recent media reviews are a bit interesting. A current Daily Caller interview begins with this paragraph:

“For eight years,” former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson said with a wide grin on his face, “I was a libertarian governor disguised as a Republican!” Often dubbed the “next Ron Paul,” Johnson wears the libertarian (small “L”) label proudly, though in an interview with The Daily Caller he swore he was still a Republican.

Over at The American Conservative, Daniel Larison describes a potential problem with a Johnson candidacy, which is electability in a Republican primary:

The possibility of a Gary Johnson presidential bid is an exciting one, and I say that as a New Mexican who didn’t like some of the major projects he undertook as governor. I can say that I would happily support his candidacy were he to pursue the Republican nomination. That’s part of the problem Gary Johnson faces in a GOP nominating contest: he appeals to people like me and Matt Welch, who are not remotely representative of the Republican primary electorate. For one thing, I’m not a Republican. Not even Ron Paul’s 2008 bid could make me change my registration to vote in the state primary, and I doubt I would change it for the next election.

While a lot of Republicans liked Ron Paul’s fiscal policy issues during the 2008 elections, his foreign policy views certainly hampered his ability to win a GOP presidential nomination. Johnson has been very outspoken regarding marijuana policy, which has the possibility of making it tough for him to win a GOP nomination, as well.

“Marijuana legalization, arguably Johnson’s hallmark political platform, was advertised as being a main point of the lecture, and Johnson subsequently devoted a substantial portion of his address to it,” writes Patrick Derocher after a recent Johnson lecture at Fordham University.

Over at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government, long-time Republican political consultant Roger Stone is a bit more optimistic than I am:

A 2012 Presidential candidacy by Johnson would lead to a needed public dialog on the failed war on drugs. Prop 19 failed only because of the gross lies told about marijuana use by police groups, Senator Diane Feinstein and, get this, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Anyone who has seen “Pumping Iron” remembers Arnold puffing on a joint between heavy sets. Do as I say, not as I do, Ahhnold ?

This is not to say Johnson is a one dimensional candidate and their will be plenty of opposition to ending the prohibition of Marijuana in the Republican Party, but a Johnson candidacy would find a constituency in the early primary states, particularly “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire and would spark a national discussion that must be had.

Sarah Palin won’t run ( you heard it here first!). The race is wide open. Run, Gary Run.

Following the same vein, CNN entitled a recent article “Forget Palin, here’s Gary Johnson.” Here’s the pertinent excerpt:

Skeptics of the Tea Party note that the right never organized in opposition to the profligate spending of the Bush administration. They wonder why a movement so vocal about liberty focuses exclusively on the economic variety, and suspect that if the GOP is returned to power, government won’t grow smaller or less intrusive so much as serve different masters.

Come 2012, however, there is one Republican who’ll be uniquely positioned to win over these skeptics: former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a long-shot candidate whose success in the presidential primary would signal, as nothing else could, that the principles espoused by the Tea Party really changed the GOP.

Certainly Johnson would provide a bridge between fiscal conservatives and the left, as E. D. Kain notes at The Washington Examiner:

That being said, Johnson’s positions on civil liberties, foreign policy, and the war on drugs dovetail nicely with my own, and are quite a lot better and more coherent than anything we’ve seen out of either traditional Democratic or Republican candidates. I’m not nearly the sort of fiscal hawk that Johnson is, preferring to keep reasonable spending levels on public education, transportation, and health, but at least he’s consistent in his approach to both civil liberties and fiscal affairs. Indeed, if the Tea Party was as coherent as Johnson, I might even join up – though my participation would be more a protest of our egregious drug policies and our failed security policies than anything. Limiting government must mean more than simply limiting taxes and spending if it is ever to become a truly coherent political force.
Johnson isn’t afraid to take on his likely competition.  This clip from a recent profile piece from The New Republic is telling:

What does Johnson make of Palin? On a drive through the foothills of New Hampshire, I ask him. Riding shotgun, he turns the question around on me. “Um, I guess some people think she’s folksy,” I say from the backseat. “Well, at first she strikes you as folksy,” he shoots back. “And then you realize: She might be running for president of the United States! And then, don’t we have the obligation to tell her what a terrible idea that is?” Cupping his hands to his mouth, he brays, “Sarah! We love you! Don’t run!” He also performs a rendition of the “deer-in-the-headlights” interview she did on “The O’Reilly Factor,” about the BP oil spill.

He’s also happy to take on the Republican establishment, as The New Mexico Independent notes:

The free-speaking Johnson also penned a critical statement on the Republican takeover of the House, on Facebook:

“After yesterday’s election I think it would be wrong for the Republicans to take the results as some sort of mandate for Republican leadership. I believe that the Republicans have an opportunity to redeem themselves for when we owned the White House and when we ran up record deficits and when we gave America a prescription health care benefit that added trillions to the entitlement liability and ran up record deficits.”

If Johnson runs, and all signs seem to indicate that he will, the Republican primary process will certainly be interesting.

“As an unabashed Johnson supporter (which is an extremely unusual place to find myself vis-a-vis a politician), my main hope has been that at least one libertarian-minded candidate make it to the GOP’s final round in 2012,” writes Matt Welch at Reason. “Though as one wag suggested to me on Election Night, why not two?”

Over at Slate, Dave Weigel noted that the process could be a lot of fun, too. Here’s the excerpt he pulled from the TNR profile, which was immediately followed by the quote at the top of this post:

“Look,” he says, “there are times and places where it would be perfectly safe to go one-forty, and there are others where it would be reckless to go fifty-five.” Within moments, he’s taking aim at stop signs and red lights. “I’m not opposed to the concept,” he allows. “But sometimes, you know, it’s 5:30 in the morning! There’s nobody on the road!”

I’ll have the advantage being able to have some face time with Governor Johnson next week, as the Samford College Republicans and the Alabama Republican Liberty Caucus (disclosure: I’m the current chairman) will be co-hosting a campus event in Birmingham where he will be speaking. We are following this up with a Liberty on the Rocks mixer right down the street, where Johnson will also be present.

While it’s far to early to begin predicting the outcome of the 2012 GOP presidential nomination process, it seems pretty safe to predict that the debate could indeed be interesting.

Mike Huckabee: The Benedict Arnold of Today’s Tea Party Movement

“If a libertarian thinks he’s a better Republican and calls people like me a RINO or a liberal, I have a real problem with that.” – former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in a recent television interview.

Of all of the politicians likely to become presidential candidates in 2012, it’s probably former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee who scares me the most. He’s got a unique ability to praise small-government types in one breath then dis them with the next. People, especially in the Tea Party movement, either aren’t aware of how he REALLY feels about them or tend to forget such important details as his actual quotes and voting record.

Because of this, I find it important to remind people of Huckabee’s past whenever his name pops up on the electoral horizon. In my latest attempt at statist Whack-a-Mole, I tried to remind folks of the Huckster’s true record. As a refresher course for folks visiting this site, here’s what he told HuffPo not so very long ago:

The greatest threat to classic Republicanism is not liberalism; it’s this new brand of libertarianism, which is social liberalism and economic conservatism, but it’s a heartless, callous, soulless type of economic conservatism because it says “look, we want to cut taxes and eliminate government. If it means that elderly people don’t get their Medicare drugs, so be it. If it means little kids go without education and healthcare, so be it.” Well, that might be a quote pure economic conservative message, but it’s not an American message. It doesn’t fly. People aren’t going to buy that, because that’s not the way we are as a people. That’s not historic Republicanism.

Lest anyone think this is merely some random quote taken out of context, let’s see what Time does in an interview with Huckabee about his book:

In a chapter titled “Faux-Cons: Worse than Liberalism,” Huckabee identifies what he calls the “real threat” to the Republican Party: “libertarianism masked as conservatism.” He is not so much concerned with the libertarian candidate Ron Paul’s Republican supporters as he is with a strain of mainstream fiscal-conservative thought that demands ideological purity, seeing any tax increase as apostasy and leaving little room for government-driven solutions to people’s problems. “I don’t take issue with what they believe, but the smugness with which they believe it,” writes Huckabee, who raised some taxes as governor and cut deals with his state’s Democratic legislature. “Faux-Cons aren’t interested in spirited or thoughtful debate, because such an endeavor requires accountability for the logical conclusion of their argument.” Among his targets is the Club for Growth, a group that tarred Huckabee as insufficiently conservative in the primaries and ran television ads with funding from one of Huckabee’s longtime Arkansas political foes, Jackson T. Stephens Jr.

It seems that my rant caught the attention of Judge Andrew Napolitano’s producer Austin Peterson. Over the weekend, Napolitano interviewed the former governor on Fox’s Freedom Watch.

“But you don’t believe that the federal government should be concerned with people blowing smoke in other people’s faces?” asked Napolitano.

Huckabee’s responses blew smoke — not in people’s faces — but up a totally different orifice. He avoided answering a question about Constitutional authority, then came out sounding a bit more libertarian on privacy issues.

When Great Britain’s King George III raised taxes and caused other grievous injustices to the colonists, we knew who the enemy was. For the last two years, President Obama, House Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and others have played a similar role.  During the Revolutionary War, the enemy was easy to spot and distinguish: They wore red coats. The traitors were more problematic, though. By squeaking out small-government noises lately, Mike Huckabee has become the Benedict Arnold of today’s Tea Party movement.

In the interview, Huckabee didn’t provide us with a shermanesque statement about his 2012 presidential ambitions. I’ve called out Huckabee’s record on countless blogs and media interviews, and even suggested to Rachel Maddow that Tax Hike Mike can’t tell if his tea bags swing to the left or to the right. Because Huckabee dons new uniforms like Benedict Arnold, it’s imperative that we all continue to tag Tax Hike Mike with “a RINO or a liberal” label as often as possible unless we wish to see the GOP nominate another John McCain as their presidential candidate.

Here’s the “Huckabee & Libertarians” segment on Fox:

UPDATE: Jason Pye pointed to the post which started this all off and a commenter notes:

I think part of that is because people still haven’t dug very deep into his record. Huckabee’s populism is I think as bad as it gets. Take the bad parts of both parties and put them into one dude, and you’ve got an ever-refattening Huckabee.

WaPo’s “Who Runs Gov” blog notes: Trouble on the right? [Mike Huckabee] is christened “The Benedict Arnold of Today’s Tea Party Movement” by the Liberty Papers.

UPDATE II: Over at Liberty Pundits, Melissa Clouthier scribed:

Dear Christian Conservatives intoxicated by the Jesus talk: It’s not Christian to steal from one person and give it to someone else. Mike Huckabee is a Big Government populist who wants to use government programs for Christian ends. The problem with that is it is inherently wrong. You cannot take the liberty of one person and increase the liberty of another. Period.

Doug Mataconis adds: “Hey Huckster, it’s on.”

James O’Keefe Highlights Alleged Voter Fraud in Jersey City Mayoral Race

Yesterday, we posted some new videos from the controversial self-described citizen journalist James O’Keefe. The videos highlighted racy footage taken at a New Jersey Education Association and the problems associated with teacher tenure.  O’Keefe has just launched a third video dealing with the NJEA, this one alleging voter fraud in a 1997 Jersey City mayoral election. The interview with NJEA Associate Director Wayne Dibofsky, combined with other details presented in the video, seems compelling enough to warrant a bit more investigation.

UPDATE: NJ Governor Chris Christie weighs in:

This is what I’ ve been talking about. This is another exhibit as to what I’ ve been talking about. The arrogance, the greed, the self-interest, the lack of introspection, the lack of standards. And it hurts the great teachers just as much as it hurts the kids.

I think that this video makes the distinction better than I ever could. This is their leadership conference where they’ re in a hotel, having this leadership conference, singing songs together about kicking the governor in his tool box. I wonder what they mean by that? But I can tell you I sense it would hurt.

They talk about the things.. I’ m not even going to say it because we have children in this audience but the things that they would have to do in order to lose tenure. And how exciting the moment is after three years when they get tenure and realize ‘ we can’ t get fired for anything’ .

Gov. Chris Christie comments on 'teachers unions gone wild'

James O’Keefe Taking Aim at NJ Teachers Union

Noted for his role in taking down ACORN, gonzo filmmaker James O’Keefe is at it again. The Daily Caller provides an overview:

O’Keefe, best known as the force behind last year’s ACORN scandal, said the first video was shot at a meeting of the New Jersey Education Association in August. Entitled Teachers Gone Wild, the tape shows people identified as teachers speaking in what appears to be a hotel lounge, as well as in a conference room. O’Keefe says the video was gathered by a “team of videographers,” whom he and his colleagues at Veritas Visuals hooked up with hidden microphones and cameras. O’Keefe says the journalists “weren’t in costumes.”

In one video, Alissa Ploshnick, who is identified as a special educator at Passaic Public Schools, seems to verify the worst suspicions of education reformers. “It’s really hard to fire a tenured teacher,” she says. “It’s really hard – like you seriously have to be in the hallway fucking somebody.”

As an example, Ploshnick said, “we had a teacher that just recently was like – you NIGGER,” adding that the teacher was demoted, but is still teaching.

O’Keefe is organizing an event Monday in front of New Jersey’s statehouse in Trenton to call for that specific teacher’s identification – and dismissal.

“The time has come to put party politics aside and put our children first,” said Darryl M. Brooks, former New Jersey Senate candidate and long time community activist, stated in a release announcing today’s news conference. “I am tired of the pandering we hear every election cycle from our elected officials that we need to improve our education system, while nothing gets done. We continue to fall further and further behind other nations around the world when it comes to education, our schools continue to crumble, and our children, especially in the inner cities are being shortchanged. To add insult to injury must we now endure teachers calling students the N word, while the NJEA stands by and does nothing but protect one of their own.”

“Their office building directly across from the Statehouse in Trenton is called ‘The Kremlin,'” added a political consultant friend of mine who has worked a lot in New Jersey.

Here’s the first video. The Liberty Papers has been informed that additional video will be released soon. Additional information located here.

UPDATE: Here’s the second video:

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