The Freeman's Burden:

To defend the principles of human liberty; to educate; to be vigilant against the ever expanding power of the state.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Canada legalizes gay marriage, Alberta Premier threatens to end licensing

Posted by Hello

The Canadian legislature passed a law legalizing gay marriage yesterday. In response, Alberta's conservative premier Ralph Kline says that the province may become the first to get out of the business of issuing marriage licenses and instead return to enforcing civil law, leaving marrying people solely to the various churches. This is the policy that I have called for for a long time. If government will simply get out of the business of treating people preferentially based on their marital status, then the gay marriage debate would go away. The state could adjudicate contractual disputes rising from civil unions and each church could choose to marry whoever they choose based on their doctrine. The Freeman's Burden applauds Ralph Kline and encourages everyone to contact their representative and tell them to get government out of marriage! Read the story here.

Is it time to declare victory and come home?

Posted by Hello

The Libertarian Party has released a common sense approach to exiting Iraq in a way that will give the Iraqi people their best chance for success and get American soldiers out of harm's way. To read the National Libertarian Party's Iraq Exit Strategy and sign the e-petition, click here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I didn't have a picture for today's post. So here is a reminder that Freeman's Burden Merchandise makes great gifts for Canada Day (July 1), Independence Day (July 4), Bastille Day (July 14), or any other day you want to celebrate your human liberty! Posted by Hello

The Human Face of Eminent Domain Abuse

I recently received a comment on a post about the Kelo case that I wanted to highlight because it resonates with the sense of uncertainty that the knowledge that your property can be stripped away from you at any time instills. I think there are some very important questions that we, as a country, need to ask ourselves about what we believe it means to "own" a thing when we are so restricted in our ability to use it and we face the threat of having it taken at any time for virtually any reason so long as some tortured logic makes it a use that serve the ill-defined "public good." A key condition of communism is the abolition of private property because Marxists understand the necessity of the ability to own and make productive use of property to capitalism. No private property, no foundation for the rise of a market economy. I am fearful that this ruling will undermine our market system by creating uncertainty about an individual's ability to profit by his own labor when the fruits of that labor can be stripped from him arbitrarily.

Anonymous writes:

Our family has been in California for well over one hundred years. Our auntie is 102 yrs old and has lived in Riverside all of her life, just like her 6 brothers and sisters (she is the oldest). Her hard working family came from Italy to make a life for themselves; farming orange groves, building highways, opening businesses, working at the courthouse, teaching...the list goes on. Now, through eminent domain, almost all of their property has been taken out from under them. Among other things, they were forced to sell their 40 acre farm for the construction of a septic facility. The facility was shut down three years later, and sold to a private developer. Now their beautiful farm which had been in their family for nearly a century, has condos all over it, and some fat cat is counting the dollar signs. The last of the property is on Van Buren Blvd. (a much used street in Riverside) and has been there ever since the street wasn't much more than orange groves. In fact, when our Grandmother opened her beauty salon on that very street, she was told by many that it would never thrive because "no one ever goes down Van Buren!" Now, the front of this beautiful property, with 4 homes and a beauty Parlor, all built by the hands of our grandfather, will be taken by the city, to expand Van Buren Blvd, and bring it right to our front steps. The giant trees, planted by our grandmother, will not be moved, but chopped down forever. What will there be left to take? The homes that house our grandparents, parents, aunties and ourselves, who all live on this property, which was envisioned to house our families for generations to come? And when we are forced to bow to their demands, (which the Supreme Copurt has decided to make much more likely) and move to new homes, what will keep us safe from the same thing happening again? Will it never again be possible to dream of a home for our family? A home where our children can come to when they are grown and have memories of when they were young? A home we can share with our grandchildren and great granchildren? How can I ever dream of such a thing? All of our family's hard work, and the hard work of our family before us will never be safe from the clutches of eminant domain, or the seizure of our property for private COMMERCIAL use! So, the government can take our property, our HOMES, Our LIVES, so they can build a Walmart? This is like a very, very, VERY bad dream. I never would have thought this country could stoop so low. I now realize why some refer to us as "Capitalist Pigs". The government, so full of greed and glutony, has lost the last bit of integrity I had ever given them credit for. I am truly disgusted and haven't a clue what to do about this mess.

Posted by Anonymous to The Freeman's Burden: at 6/27/2005 01:32:43 PM

Monday, June 27, 2005

Libertarian running strong for San Diego Mayor

LP Press Release Posted by Hello

"Only in San Diego would we expect a Libertarian to be in the front of the pack."-- KPBS TV, 27 May, 2005

Dear Libertarian, Richard Rider, taxpayer advocate and lifelong Libertarian, is running for Mayor of San Diego! With your help, we can put a Libertarian at the helm of the 7th largest city in America, gaining national recognition and legitimacy. Please visit the Rider for Mayor campaign to light the fires of liberty in San Diego, California and the entire country!

Does Richard Rider have what it takes? Can he really win this election? Consider this:
Rider is a well-known taxpayer advocate in California. He successfully sued, then forced San Diego County to repeal an illegal Sales Tax hike. This resulted in over 3.3 billion dollars of tax savings
The prestigious Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association endorses Rider
Rider already has over $120,000 in his Campaign war chest, putting him solidly in third place for fundraising
Rider has been in numerous newspaper articles, radio spots and TV broadcasts
Rider has an amazing campaign team, including former Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gary Nolan
Rider has been invited to all 17 upcoming debates
Rider has a Plan to Save San Diego
Rider has a strong chance of winning! Only one Democrat is running and the Republican vote is split
Rider has a history of success. He came in third, with 19.4% of the vote, in his bid for San Diego County Supervisor.

Rider has the potential to be in the national spotlight! Go to their website and find out how to get involved. With your help, Rider can win this election.

Thank you for your support,

The National Libertarian Party


Or call them toll-free: (866) 352-7274.

"Taxpayer Advocate Richard Rider probably has saved San Diego taxpayers more money than all the local San Diego politicians elected in the last 20 years -- combined! We trust him to solve San Diego's financial problems."- Jon Coupal, President, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

University of Chicago Nobel-laureate says LEGALIZE IT

Posted by Hello

Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman: Legalize Pot!

tsquared writes "Friedman is not alone in this assessment: the report, authored by Jeffrey Miron, Harvard professor, has more than 500 signatories.
Of course, neither Republicans nor Democrats would even consider decriminalization, let alone legalization. The Libertarian Party is the only viable party opposing the ineffective and racist War on Drugs.

More below the fold

Forbes "There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana," [Friedman] says, "$7.7 billion is a lot of money, but that is one of the lesser evils. Our failure to successfully enforce these laws is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in Colombia. I haven't even included the harm to young people. It's absolutely disgraceful to think of picking up a 22-year-old for smoking pot. More disgraceful is the denial of marijuana for medical purposes."
"Deficits are the only thing that keeps this Congress from spending more" says Friedman. "Republicans are no different from Democrats. Spending is the easiest way to buy votes."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

This Week in Liberty

Posted by Hello

Kelo v. New London Posted by Hello

As I'm sure you know, this week, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that private property is no longer private. Of course, we have not enjoyed private property in the literal sense in many years, but enough protections remained in place to create the veneer of property rights. That veneer may have been blasted off by this ruling. The purpose of this ruling is to allow local governments the ability to economically rehabilitate a blighted area by buying out property owners and leasing the land to private commercial interests. Of course in addition to creating jobs and improving the economic health of the area targeted for renewal, this scheme is an ideal opportunity for government to increase tax receipts. Low income residential housing doesn't provide nearly the revenue to the city or county that a movie theatre does and a farm may not provide as much as a factory outlet mall, so it is then in the rational interest of governments to continue to look for more property that can be "renewed" and, hence, redistributed from private citizens to governments who then lease to private commercial interests. It is economic conservativism corrupted to its ickiest and it is the property rights of every America that suffer as a result. Read a Reason interview with the stunned attorney for the complainants in this case here.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Supreme Court Rules American Homes Can Now Be Seized for Private Use

LP Press Release Posted by Hello

(Washington, D.C.) The Supreme Court ruled today that local governments have broad power to confiscate private property in the name of "economic development." They handed down a 5-4 ruling against a group of homeowners in New London, Conn., who claimed the city is trying to illegally force them to sell their property. The city wants to make way for a hotel, an office building and other privately funded facilities. Government agencies including city and county governments have long been allowed to condemn private property so that public buildings, roads and other infrastructure can be built. Called "eminent domain," this practice is constitutional as long as the power is exercised strictly in accordance with the Fifth Amendment's "takings clause." However, the new ruling will allow local governments to claim property for the benefit for private entities, rather than restricting eminent domain to acquiring land for public use. "This ruling sets a frightening precedent that will affect poor and middle class families across the nation." said Michael Dixon, national chairman of the Libertarian Party. "Dazzled by the possibility of increasing tax revenue and employment opportunities, local government officials will now be able to claim entire communities for the benefit of private corporations." While the Libertarian Party supports the right of corporations to do business, "we even more strongly support the constitutional rights of the individual," Dixon declared. "And those constitutional rights are being trampled on by local governments around the country." Because the Supreme Court's decision gives government agencies much broader power to confiscate private property, the Libertarian Party calls on both state legislatures and Congress to stand up for the rights of private landowners. "This country was founded on the principle that people have the right to protect their lives, their lands and their liberty," Dixon said. "It is the sworn duty of elected officials to stand up for the individual rights of their constituents. Now is the time for them to do so."

Monday, June 20, 2005

Decide for yourself: The Downing Street Memo & Related Briefing Paper

Rush to War? Posted by Hello

I have taken the unusual step of publishing two long documents in their entirety because I think it is important that people on all sides of the Iraq question have the opportunity to view them free from the media filter. War opponents call it a smoking gun, that is what you would expect them to say because the memo supports many of their contentions. War supporters call it "old news," They really have to say this because the content of the memo most certainly does not support their contentions. In the interest of full disclosure, I don't support our involvement in Iraq, and I don't support our deployments to the other 130 or so countries that the US is currently deployed too. So it is safe to say that my motivations are different than most war opponents who are either pascifists, or leftists with an anti-American, anti-Republican agenda. I am firmly pro-American, I even voted for (pre-9/11) George Bush and I like having the biggest, baddest military. However, I believe America is at our best when we are exporting ideas, jobs and innovations, not fear, bombs and civilian casualties. Be that as it may, if you would like to learn more about the Downing Street Memo, who was involved and why it matters, click here.

As originally reported in the The Times of London, May 1, 2005
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002S 195 /02
cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell


Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.
The two broad US options were:
(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).
(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.
The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:
(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.
(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.
(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.
The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.
The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.
The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.
The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.
On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.
For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.
The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.
John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.
The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.
(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.
(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.
(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.
(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.
He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.
(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.
(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.
(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)
(Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide)

Text of the Cabinet Office Paper: Conditions for military action - July 22, 2002 briefing paper, generated for participants for the secret meeting of Blair’s inner circle on July 23, 2002, says that since regime change was illegal it was “necessary to create the conditions” which would make it legal.

[beginning of transcription]



Ministers are invited to:
(1) Note the latest position on US military planning and timescales for possible action.
(2) Agree that the objective of any military action should be a stable and law-abiding Iraq, within present borders, co-operating with the international community, no longer posing a threat to its neighbours or international security, and abiding by its international obligations on WMD.
(3) Agree to engage the US on the need to set military plans within a realistic political strategy, which includes identifying the succession to Saddam Hussein and creating the conditions necessary to justify government military action, which might include an ultimatum for the return of UN weapons inspectors to Iraq. This should include a call from the Prime Minister to President Bush ahead of the briefing of US military plans to the President on 4 August.
(4) Note the potentially long lead times involved in equipping UK Armed Forces to undertake operations in the Iraqi theatre and agree that the MOD should bring forward proposals for the procurement of Urgent Operational Requirements under cover of the lessons learned from Afghanistan and the outcome of SR2002.
(5) Agree to the establishment of an ad hoc group of officials under Cabinet Office Chairmanship to consider the development of an information campaign to be agreed with the US.
1. The US Government's military planning for action against Iraq is proceeding apace. But, as yet, it lacks a political framework. In particular, little thought has been given to creating the political conditions for military action, or the aftermath and how to shape it.
2. When the Prime Minister discussed Iraq with President Bush at Crawford in April he said that the UK would support military action to bring about regime change, provided that certain conditions were met: efforts had been made to construct a coalition/shape public opinion, the Israel-Palestine Crisis was quiescent, and the options for action to eliminate Iraq's WMD through the UN weapons inspectors had been exhausted.
3. We need now to reinforce this message and to encourage the US Government to place its military planning within a political framework, partly to forestall the risk that military action is precipitated in an unplanned way by, for example, an incident in the No Fly Zones. This is particularly important for the UK because it is necessary to create the conditions in which we could legally support military action. Otherwise we face the real danger that the US will commit themselves to a course of action which we would find very difficult to support.
4. In order to fulfil the conditions set out by the Prime Minister for UK support for military action against Iraq, certain preparations need to be made, and other considerations taken into account. This note sets them out in a form which can be adapted for use with the US Government. Depending on US intentions, a decision in principle may be needed soon on whether and in what form the UK takes part in military action.
The Goal
5. Our objective should be a stable and law-abiding Iraq, within present borders, co-operating with the international community, no longer posing a threat to its neighbours or to international security, and abiding by its international obligations on WMD. It seems unlikely that this could be achieved while the current Iraqi regime remains in power. US military planning unambiguously takes as its objective the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime, followed by elimination if Iraqi WMD. It is however, by no means certain, in the view of UK officials, that one would necessarily follow from the other. Even if regime change is a necessary condition for controlling Iraqi WMD, it is certainly not a sufficient one.
US Military Planning
6. Although no political decisions have been taken, US military planners have drafted options for the US Government to undertake an invasion of Iraq. In a 'Running Start', military action could begin as early as November of this year, with no overt military build-up. Air strikes and support for opposition groups in Iraq would lead initially to small-scale land operations, with further land forces deploying sequentially, ultimately overwhelming Iraqi forces and leading to the collapse of the Iraqi regime. A 'Generated Start' would involve a longer build-up before any military action were taken, as early as January 2003. US military plans include no specifics on the strategic context either before or after the campaign. Currently the preference appears to be for the 'Running Start'. CDS will be ready to brief Ministers in more detail.
7. US plans assume, as a minimum, the use of British bases in Cyprus and Diego Garcia. This means that legal base issues would arise virtually whatever option Ministers choose with regard to UK participation.
The Viability of the Plans
8. The Chiefs of Staff have discussed the viability of US military plans. Their initial view is that there are a number of questions which would have to be answered before they could assess whether the plans are sound. Notably these include the realism of the 'Running Start', the extent to which the plans are proof against Iraqi counter-attack using chemical or biological weapons and the robustness of US assumptions about the bases and about Iraqi (un)willingness to fight.
UK Military Contribution
9. The UK's ability to contribute forces depends on the details of the US military planning and the time available to prepare and deploy them. The MOD is examining how the UK might contribute to US-led action. The options range from deployment of a Division (ie Gulf War sized contribution plus naval and air forces) to making available bases. It is already clear that the UK could not generate a Division in time for an operation in January 2003, unless publicly visible decisions were taken very soon. Maritime and air forces could be deployed in time, provided adequate basing arrangements could be made. The lead times involved in preparing for UK military involvement include the procurement of Urgent Operational Requirements, for which there is no financial provision.
The Conditions Necessary for Military Action
10. Aside from the existence of a viable military plan we consider the following conditions necessary for military action and UK participation: justification/legal base; an international coalition; a quiescent Israel/Palestine; a positive risk/benefit assessment; and the preparation of domestic opinion.
11. US views of international law vary from that of the UK and the international community. Regime change per se is not a proper basis for military action under international law. But regime change could result from action that is otherwise lawful. We would regard the use of force against Iraq, or any other state, as lawful if exercised in the right of individual or collective self-defence, if carried out to avert an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe, or authorised by the UN Security Council. A detailed consideration of the legal issues, prepared earlier this year, is at Annex A. The legal position would depend on the precise circumstances at the time. Legal bases for an invasion of Iraq are in principle conceivable in both the first two instances but would be difficult to establish because of, for example, the tests of immediacy and proportionality. Further legal advice would be needed on this point.
12. This leaves the route under the UNSC resolutions on weapons inspectors. Kofi Annan has held three rounds of meetings with Iraq in an attempt to persuade them to admit the UN weapons inspectors. These have made no substantive progress; the Iraqis are deliberately obfuscating. Annan has downgraded the dialogue but more pointless talks are possible. We need to persuade the UN and the international community that this situation cannot be allowed to continue ad infinitum. We need to set a deadline, leading to an ultimatum. It would be preferable to obtain backing of a UNSCR for any ultimatum and early work would be necessary to explore with Kofi Annan and the Russians, in particular, the scope for achieving this.
13. In practice, facing pressure of military action, Saddam is likely to admit weapons inspectors as a means of forestalling it. But once admitted, he would not allow them to operate freely. UNMOVIC (the successor to UNSCOM) will take at least six months after entering Iraq to establish the monitoring and verification system under Resolution 1284 necessary to assess whether Iraq is meeting its obligations. Hence, even if UN inspectors gained access today, by January 2003 they would at best only just be completing setting up. It is possible that they will encounter Iraqi obstruction during this period, but this more likely when they are fully operational.
14. It is just possible that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject (because he is unwilling to accept unfettered access) and which would not be regarded as unreasonable by the international community. However, failing that (or an Iraqi attack) we would be most unlikely to achieve a legal base for military action by January 2003.
An International Coalition
15. An international coalition is necessary to provide a military platform and desirable for political purposes.
16. US military planning assumes that the US would be allowed to use bases in Kuwait (air and ground forces), Jordan, in the Gulf (air and naval forces) and UK territory (Diego Garcia and our bases in Cyprus). The plans assume that Saudi Arabia would withhold co-operation except granting military over-flights. On the assumption that military action would involve operations in the Kurdish area in the North of Iraq, the use of bases in Turkey would also be necessary.
17. In the absence of UN authorisation, there will be problems in securing the support of NATO and EU partners. Australia would be likely to participate on the same basis as the UK. France might be prepared to take part if she saw military action as inevitable. Russia and China, seeking to improve their US relations, might set aside their misgivings if sufficient attention were paid to their legal and economic concerns. Probably the best we could expect from the region would be neutrality. The US is likely to restrain Israel from taking part in military action. In practice, much of the international community would find it difficult to stand in the way of the determined course of the US hegemon. However, the greater the international support, the greater the prospects of success.
A Quiescent Israel-Palestine
18. The Israeli re-occupation of the West Bank has dampened Palestinian violence for the time being but is unsustainable in the long-term and stoking more trouble for the future. The Bush speech was at best a half step forward. We are using the Palestinian reform agenda to make progress, including a resumption of political negotiations. The Americans are talking of a ministerial conference in November or later. Real progress towards a viable Palestinian state is the best way to undercut Palestinian extremists and reduce Arab antipathy to military action against Saddam Hussein. However, another upsurge of Palestinian/Israeli violence is highly likely. The co-incidence of such an upsurge with the preparations for military action against Iraq cannot be ruled out. Indeed Saddam would use continuing violence in the Occupied Territories to bolster popular Arab support for his regime.
19. Even with a legal base and a viable military plan, we would still need to ensure that the benefits of action outweigh the risks. In particular, we need to be sure that the outcome of the military action would match our objective as set out in paragraph 5 above. A post-war occupation of Iraq could lead to a protracted and costly nation-building exercise. As already made clear, the US military plans are virtually silent on this point. Washington could look to us to share a disproportionate share of the burden. Further work is required to define more precisely the means by which the desired endstate would be created, in particular what form of Government might replace Saddam Hussein's regime and the timescale within which it would be possible to identify a successor. We must also consider in greater detail the impact of military action on other UK interests in the region.
Domestic Opinion
20. Time will be required to prepare public opinion in the UK that it is necessary to take military action against Saddam Hussein. There would also need to be a substantial effort to secure the support of Parliament. An information campaign will be needed which has to be closely related to an overseas information campaign designed to influence Saddam Hussein, the Islamic World and the wider international community. This will need to give full coverage to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, including his WMD, and the legal justification for action.
21. Although the US military could act against Iraq as soon as November, we judge that a military campaign is unlikely to start until January 2003, if only because of the time it will take to reach consensus in Washington. That said, we judge that for climactic reasons, military action would need to start by January 2003, unless action were deferred until the following autumn.
22. As this paper makes clear, even this timescale would present problems. This means that:
(a) We need to influence US consideration of the military plans before President Bush is briefed on 4 August, through contacts betweens the Prime Minister and the President and at other levels;
[end of transcription]

Orgasms turn off fear and emotion centers in women's brains -- Freeman's Burden calls (and volunteers) for further research!
Read more here.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Posted by Hello

You may have noticed a surprising lack of new posts in the last few days. I'm enjoying 10 days off between quarters and have tuned out as much as possible. But don't worry, the Freeman's Burden will be back with new content next week. - Free2Smooze

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Did You Know???

Posted by Hello

Total Imports of Petroleum (Thousand Barrels per Day)

Country YTD 2005
S. ARABIA.....1,615

Did you know that when George Bush was inagurated, the Canadian dollar was .66 US dollar. After 5 years of pursuing a "weak dollar" policy, the looney is trading at .81 US. This is a major factor that has led to gas prices remaining so high.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Case for Closing Gitmo

Posted by Hello

As the debate over the Guantanamo Bay prison camp rages on, I would like to step back and take an objective look at why this is such a hot button issue and why it matters. Gitmo has become a symbol for not only the manner in which the US conducts itself in its fight against al Qaeda, but also the hypocrisy with which the US deals with questions of foreigners and civil rights. This is indicative of how many people, rightly, feel is the arrogance and bully mentality that the US employs in pursuing our interests around the world. Does the reality of what is happening at Gitmo match the perception that has been created? Probably not, but that isn't really the point. Perception trumps reality, especially in the Middle East where rumors take flight driven by a combination of paranoia and righteous indignation that leads people to assume the worst about the United States and our motives.

The Declaration of Independence states that..."We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL MEN are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Please note that it does not say "all Americans", it says "all men" and that is exactly what it means. Philosophically, the idea is that Rights come from God, therefore they cannot be given or taken away by man. It is the key foundation of out Constitutional liberties, from which all other American conceptions about rights and the role of government spring. By shipping enemy combatants to Cuba and denying them due process, President Bush has acted in a manner that is contradictory to our most fundamental values. People in the rest of the world are acutely aware of this as they are often more cognizant of American ideas about freedom and liberty then most Americans. This perpetuates the idea that Americans consider themselves more equal then most and fuels the anger that drives our enemies.

Secondly, by the admission of the administration, most of the detainees at Gitmo were captured on the battlefield, defending their property and families against a foreign invasion. I confound you to imagine that under conditions of invasion by foreign forces, that YOU wouldn't pick up arms to defend yourself, your family and your property. Granted, some of those detained were foreigners to Afghanistan and Iraq. Americans are foreign to South Korea, but would we accept illegal combatant status in North Korean or Chinese detention camps? The administration has argued that those detained don't "deserve" Geneva Convention protections because they did not wear uniforms. Neither did the American rebels that liberated this country, nor would I if I were defending my nation from a foreign invasion, neither do most combatants in most countries around the world. Uniforms are often only worn in countries wealthy enough to provide them, or for ceremonies and special occasions. Many of the militaries and para-militaries currently fielded around the world do not wear uniforms but are, none the less, lawful combatants.

The administration has argued that if they did not have Gitmo, they would have to give these detainees access to American courts. Well, if they are confident that they cases against these detainees is sufficient to deny them their freedom and their due process rights by housing them indefinitely at Gitmo, then they should be at least as confident that they can make that case in a US court. The only reason not to give them due process is because they intend to treat them in a manner that is NOT consistent with our human rights obligations. Does not the fact that we are warehousing prisoners on a Communist island with a long record of human rights abuses of its own not strike you as contradictory to our American values?

Dismantling Gitmo and guaranteeing human rights to detainees will strengthen the US effort against Al Qaeda. Many are arguing that closing Gitmo will show weakness to our enemies and hurt the war effort. That is silly. The symbolic damage caused by Gitmo vastly outweighs any harm that would be done by conceding that the camp is a PR failure and restructuring the system for dealing with legitimate Al Qaeda warriors who intend to do harm to the United States. It would show that America is humane, pragmatic and consistent in promoting the values we espouse without setting anyone free or sacrificing security.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

From the Daily Dispatch

Posted by Hello

Postage Stamp Production Privatized

"The federal government printed its last postage stamps Friday," The Washington Post reports. "The end to 111 years of stamp production by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) came without any public ceremony in the same 14th Street building where many of the nation's most famous stamps have been printed." In the Cato Handbook on Policy, Chapter 34 deals with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and encourages Congress to privatize the mail service: "In recent years the USPS has been under competitive pressures from e-mail, faxes, private package carriers, and services such as Federal Express that are allowed to offer overnight delivery of urgent communications. The Postal Service also has suffered from chronic high labor costs."

Read more here.

Hey fellow Washingtonians! As I'm sure you know, our brain dead and economically inept congress has recently passed a 9.5 cent gas tax. The Libertarian Party of Washington State has endorsed a petition to overturn this idiotic, growth-retarding, job-eliminating, consumer price-raising, welfare for politician-sponsored pet projects tax hike. If you are a Washington resident and agree that taxing a commodity necessary to economic growth at a time when it is already at record highs and economic growth is stagnant, then I encourage you to get on board with us as we work to send a clear message to Olympia about this stupid tax. Visit the initiative web page and add your name to the petition here.

Press Release Posted by Hello

Patriot Reauthorization Act a Danger to Liberty

Libertarian Party Calls on Congress to Show Common Sense and Vows to Fight for America (Washington, D.C.)

In a closed session last week, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted to reauthorize and expand the USA PATRIOT Act, which came into law weeks after 9/11. Originally, the Patriot Act was set to expire after five years but the Bush administration and Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez are seeking to make the law permanent while expanding its reach and scope. In its current form the Patriot Act violates at least six of the amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights. Under the act, law enforcement may conduct no-notice searches of residences and businesses; conduct roving wiretaps; or seize personal files such as medical, financial, employment and even library lending history. Additionally, the PATRIOT Act has led to peaceful community groups being investigated as terrorist cells.

The new version of the PATRIOT Act, already approved by a Senate committee, will expand the reach of the FBI by giving individual agents “administrative authority” to create and approve their own search warrants. With no checks in place to prevent abuse, violations of the law would go unnoticed under the expansion of the already ineffective law.

“The Libertarian Party urges members of Congress to vote against the Patriot Reauthorization Act” stated Joe Seehusen, executive director of the National Libertarian Party. He continued, “If the PATRIOT Act is made permanent and is expanded, the Libertarian Party will continually fight to uncover abuses of the law and will assist in protecting the privacy and civil liberties of all Americans.”

Sunday, June 12, 2005

This Week in Liberty

Posted by Hello

From the mouths of babes...

Posted by Hello

"If Congress can regulate [homegrown medical marijuana] under the Commerce Clause, it can regulate virtually anything." - Clarence Thomas in his dissent to a recent anti-state ruling

Jacob Sullum of Reason looks at the abuse of the commerce clause and the pot debate. Read more here.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Homeland Insecurity?

Posted by Hello

Let me lay out a hypothetical situation. Suppose you are a federal border agent in, say, Calais, Maine, and this fellow came walking up from the Canadian side carrying a homemade sword engraved with a swastika, a hatchet, a knife, two sets of brass knuckles, pepper spray, A BLOODY CHAINSAW and wearing a bloody flack jacket, claiming to be a army officer in the service of the President on his way to meet a waiting helicopter! Don't you think that perhaps, just maybe, this would be grounds for further investigation. Apparently not. I guess that as long as you don't check out "The Anarchist Cookbook" from the local library, send an email calling the President a fascist twit or are an 82 year old grandmother flying from Boca to Virginia Beach to see the grand kids, you are safe from the scrutiny of federal officials. What makes this case even more galling is the fact that I get the "deep cavity search" treatment every time I come back from a day of cross-border shopping, and I almost always leave my bloody chainsaw at home! Read the complete story here.
Do you think that a day goes by that Carl Rove doesn't wake up, kneel at the foot of his bed and thank God that Howard Dean is the DNC Chairman? Read more here.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Why hasn't 40 years of failed wealth redistribution programs for Africa taught these men anything?

Posted by Hello

President Bush continued in a long line of worthless, stupid and self-defeating Africa policies this week announcing that over 350 million dollars would be poured into the pockets of the very people who have an interest in seeing that certain pesky segments of their populations starve to death. Remember all the money the West sent Ethiopia in the 1980's? It fed the soldiers who were oppressing the people who were dying. Our aid actually made it worse. The economic and political policies that African governments pursue make it impossible to throw money at the problem and call it a solution. The same policies have been in place since the end of colonialism and despite billions and billions of dollars wasted, the living conditions of most African people has not improved one bit, in many cases it is far worse. But I guess it makes liberals sleep better and that's the important thing, right? Read more here and here.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The 10th Amendment up in smoke

Posted by Hello

In one of the most grotesque displays of judicial activism since the last grotesque display of judicial activism, the Supreme Court managed to create new powers under the commerce clause (the regulation of interstate commerce) to allow federal law to supersede state law with regards to the growing and using of medical marijuana. Medical marijuana laws are state laws whereby residents within a state possess and use marijuana for the alleviation of suffering. With this ruling, the feds will be able to continue to kick in the doors of the sufferers of chronic illness and disease and drag them off to federal prisons for violating laws that should, Constitutionally, be superseded by the state laws that give them the right to engage in this activity. This is not an issue about drugs, but rather about states' rights, federal paternalism and the continued violation of both the letter and intent of the Constitution. Every justice that supported this action should be dragged off the bench by their robes and impeached. Those that dissented, to their credit, were Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Thomas. The fact that the dissenters are all conservatives reflects that the real issue in this case is states' rights, not drug use. Read more here.
Libertarian Party Press Release
June 6, 2005

Libertarian Party Condemns the Supreme Court Decision Against the use of Medical Marijuana (Washington, D.C.)

In a 6-3 ruling by the United States Supreme Court, the federal government will continue to arrest and prosecute sick and terminally ill Americans who use marijuana for medical purposes. The decision supersedes state laws and the votes of citizens that allow the medical use of marijuana.

While the people of California and other states voted for the right of sick and dying patients to use marijuana as a medical treatment, the Supreme Court’s ruling permits the federal government to ignore the recorded decisions of an electorate.

Currently, ten states allow residents to grow and use marijuana for medical purposes. The court ruling, which was pushed forward by the Bush administration, not only lacks compassion for the sick but is also a clear encroachment upon states’ rights.

Libertarian Party Executive Director Joe Seehusen stated, “This ruling is not only a blow to the elderly, sick and terminally ill, but also represents the further decline of states’ rights.” Mr. Seehusen continued, “It is important that the American public does not minimize this issue by believing that it only affects ‘pot smokers’ as it is a much deeper debate involving the intrusion of the federal government upon the states, the power of the prescription drug lobby, and the growing limits on individual freedom.”

The Libertarian Party is a long-standing advocate for individual liberty and believes that Americans should be responsible for their own actions and, in this case, be able to use alternative forms of medication outside of the realm of insurance companies and the pharmaceutical lobby.

Working with like-minded groups, the Libertarian Party will help craft federal legislation that will assist individuals needing medical marijuana to pursue treatment methods without fear of arrest and prosecution by the federal government.

War weary Columbians ready to talk decriminalization

Posted by Hello

Speaking of failed drug policies...

Read more here.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

This Week in Liberty

Posted by Hello

Friday, June 03, 2005

The EU Paradox

Posted by Hello

In the last week, the French have rejected the European Constitution on the grounds that it was far to "turbo-capitalist" and might threaten the generous social benefits that the French enjoy. Read more here. Two days later, the Dutch rejected the EU Constitution on the grounds that it was to socialist and would stifle the Netherlands economy. Read more here. Can both of these things be true at the same time? In a word...yes. Is this really at the heart of people's concerns about the EU? Yes and no. It is one of many concerns that European social, economic, and political leaders have failed to address. To be continued...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Thought for the Day

Posted by Hello

The other day I went to see the play "Billy Elliot" in London. During intermission, a man approached me and asked, "Are you Mr. Friedman?" When I said yes, he introduced himself -- Emad Tinawi, a Syrian-American working for Booz Allen. He told me that while he disagreed with some things I wrote, there was one column he still keeps. "It was the one called, 'Where Birds Don't Fly,' " he said.

I remembered writing that headline, but I couldn't remember the column. Then he reminded me: It was about the new post-9/11 U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, which looks exactly like a maximum-security prison, so much so that a captured Turkish terrorist said that while his pals considered bombing it, they concluded that the place was so secure that even birds couldn't fly there. Tinawi and I then swapped impressions about the corrosive impact such security restrictions were having on foreigners' perceptions of America.

In New Delhi, the Indian writer Gurcharan Das remarked to me that with each visit to the United States lately, he has been forced by border officials to explain why he is coming to America. They "make you feel so unwanted now," said Das. America was a country "that was always reinventing itself," he added, because it was a country that always welcomed "all kinds of oddballs" and had "this wonderful spirit of openness." American openness has always been an inspiration for the whole world, he concluded. "If you go dark, the world goes dark."

This would be a tragedy for us and for the world. Because, as I've argued, where birds don't fly, people don't mix, ideas don't get sparked, friendships don't get forged, stereotypes don't get broken, and freedom doesn't ring. - Tom Friedman

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Gitmo debate heats up

Posted by Hello

"The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has become the gulag of our times, entrenching the practice of arbitrary and indefinite detention in violation of international law." - Amnesty International Report

Gulag - A place or situation of great suffering and hardship, likened to the atmosphere in a prison system or a forced labor camp. (American Heritage Dictionary)

President Bush continues his time-tested strategy of deflecting serious allegations by attacking the messenger. In this case, Amnesty International's meticulously researched and multiple-sourced report on the treatment of detainees has be attacked because the report used the word "gulag". Therefore the Bush administration is under no obligation to answer the substance of the charges. For their part, Amnesty points out that President Bush didn't seem to have a problem with their research or analysis when he was using their reports on human rights in Iraq to justify his war. If Amnesty doesn't use inflammatory language, they're ignored. If they do, they are dismissed as left wing bomb throwers. The choice of wording may be unfortunate, but that doesn't excuse the administration for failing to adhere to the US constitution or the international law to which we are a party. Read more here and here.