Happy New Year -- Be Safe!
I wish you a free and prosperous New Year as we discover new opportunities to fight for liberty in 2008.
... Among coroners who I have talked to, most believe problems don't begin until about 0.12, which would be a more realistic legal level. ... At 0.08 there is little probability of causing an accident. Because of MADD's low-limit success, the fight against drunk driving has shifted from serious abusers to responsible drinkers. Law enforcement has become less selective, less prepared to ferret out drunk drivers and is losing focus on the real threat, namely, habitually drunk drivers. ...
Karolyn Nunnallee, president of MADD, predicted in 2000 that a nationwide 0.08 standard "will save 600 lives every year."
It hasn't worked that way. The July 2007 issue of Contemporary Economic Policy examined data by Sam Houston State University and concluded, "There's no evidence that lowering the legal level reduced fatality rates."
This 21-year-old law has helped the "forbidden fruit" reputation of alcohol, and is linked to an astonishing increase in binge drinking among adolescents and young adults. Drinking to intoxication is the norm for 18-20 year olds, which significantly impairs one's ability to make safe decisions, including the choice to get behind the wheel of an automobile.
When I went to college with an 18-year age-limit on drinking, there was no thought of binge drinking. We had too much fun socializing at lounges, behaving as responsible young adults. We would have been stigmatized otherwise. It could be the same today if we gave our youth a chance. This approach works in the rest of the world.
Our youth are better prepared today because MADD has done a superb job of educating the public of the dangers of drunk driving. But, they are unrelenting and refuse to admit that prohibition never works, causes more reckless drinking and worse, it forces it underground and breeds disrespect for the law.
...US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Thomas Christensen... continues the Washington realpolitik tradition of preserving the "status quo" at all costs in warning against the dangers of Taiwan's UN referendum.
Even as the US rightly continues to sell advanced weapons systems to Taiwan, it also follows a pragmatic course that protects its financial interests in "one China."
However, Washington's insistence on continuing the current stalemate in cross-strait relations only ensures temporary security for Taiwanese. Tragically, such a policy fails to deal with the long-term, and increasingly severe, consequences of delaying official US and world recognition of the reality that the Republic of China on Taiwan exists as a self-governing country and has a right to do so.
The continuing US foreign policy charade not only leads to Taiwan's acceptance of questionable "friends" such as Yahya Jammeh of Gambia, but also allows Communist China to deploy ever more sophisticated military, economic and political threats against Taiwan, emboldening it to think that it can take such action with the acquiescence of other world powers.
A principled foreign policy would lead the US to openly ally itself with other rights-respecting governments, which would clearly include Taiwan. Of course, such a principled stance is unlikely to emerge out of Washington (or almost any other national capital) today.
In the meantime, the spectacle of Western Europe's condemnation of Taiwan's UN referendum should be carefully considered and not long forgotten by Taiwanese or Americans alike.
The point is not that mail balloting or paper ballots are rife with fraud and error (although mail balloting is clearly the sloppiest system of all), but that we should weigh relative risks before stampeding out of the electronic arena. After all, if I can buy stock electronically without worry, why should I still have to use a pencil on Election Day?
"After all, if I can buy stock electronically without worry, why should I still have to use a pencil on Election Day?"
The answer to your question is simple. When you buy stock electronically, you can verify the transaction online. You can verify the transaction by phone and by regular mail, if you need to. If somebody steals your stock, you will become aware of this, and you will be prompted to take corrective action.
When I vote electronically with no paper record, I have absolutely no way to know whether my vote was counted at all. Nor do I have any way to know whether my vote was counted as I cast it. What if one or more machines malfunctioned? What if somebody tampered with one or more machines? It's quite possible that absolutely no physical evidence would exist regarding such problems.
True, paper ballots can be "lost," miscounted, or altered. But at least there's a much better chance that such problems will yield physical evidence. Assuming that multiple parties always watch the paper ballots, it's much harder for a single person to change or destroy some of them.
I'm all for modern, mechanical, computerized voting systems. But I also want reliable, verifiable results. And that requires a physical record.
The purpose of government is the protection of the individual rights of all to their lives, liberty and property. For government action to be justified in response to claims of global warming -- the cause of today's alternative energy infatuation -- it must be scientifically demonstrable, in a court of law, that individuals' burning of carbon fuels will do demonstrable harm to specific individuals through some sort of catastrophic change in weather. The state of evidence regarding global warming today is not even close to that. Even the highly politicized, highly speculative United Nations projections of a gradual, 8-degree-average warming over the next 100 years would be easily dealt with by industrialized people, who have sturdy houses, air conditioners, and sunscreen to cope with heat or bad weather, and ample time to migrate if necessary.
Compelling automakers to achieve higher mileage forces them to compromise automobile safety. To achieve fuel economy, they are forced to make vehicles lighter and smaller. But lighter, smaller vehicles are much more dangerous in an accident. ...
The original Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, imposed in 1975, have already led to a substantial increase in traffic fatalities -- an additional two thousand traffic deaths per year, according to a 2002 study by the National Academy of Sciences. With the new standard, manufacturers will be forced to downsize even further all cars, as well as SUVs and light trucks. ... Nevertheless, environmentalists have continued to fight for higher fuel economy requirements, consistently and cavalierly dismissing the risks and the tragic consequences.
Despite the drumbeat of constant assertions to the contrary, it is far from a settled scientific fact that we face catastrophic dangers from climate change. Yet, under the guise of protecting us from the alleged dangers of global warming, environmentalists force upon us the very real, provable dangers of increased auto injuries and deaths. Clearly, what they value is something other than human well-being.
Fred Thompson is pro-life. He believes in the sanctity of human life and that every life is worthy of respect. He had a 100% pro-life voting record in the Senate and believes Roe v. Wade was a bad decision that ought to be overturned. He consistently opposed federal funding to promote or pay for abortion and supported the Partial Birth Abortion Act... While Fred Thompson supports adult stem cell research, he opposes embryonic stem cell research. He also opposes human cloning.
The new energy bill (passed by Congress and just signed into law by President Bush) will outlaw the traditional incandescent light bulbs over the next several years, requiring instead more expensive "energy efficient" bulbs as part of the fight against global warming. Of course, if these new bulbs are more cost-effective in the long run, then there's no need to mandate their use. And if they aren't, then this is just another burden on consumers. Either way, it's a violation of the individual rights of producers and consumers of those products.
This is on top of the recent shameful capitulation by the US on global warming policy at the recent international Bali conference, in which the US gave into the demands of the rest of the world.
Those who think that the Republicans and/or the religious conservatives will provide any kind of principled defense against the anti-reason and anti-human views of the environmentalists are in for a rude awakening. ...
Although I'm sure it's unintentional, I find it ironic that the environmentalists and the evangelicals are teaming up to extinguish Thomas Edison's incandescent light bulb, the long-time symbol of reason and thought.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MEDIA CONTACT: Rich Coolidge
Dec. 17, 2007 (303) 860-6903
Coffman completes electronic voting equipment tests
Premier Voting Systems - only system certified completely by state
Denver, Colorado – Today, Secretary of State Mike Coffman issued his findings from a court-mandated retesting of electronic voting equipment often referred to as "recertification." In September 2006, a district court judge had ruled, in Conroy vs. Dennis, that the certification process used by the Secretary of State's office was inadequate and that the voting equipment had to be retested before the 2008 primary election. Under state law, all electronic voting equipment purchased after May 2004 has to be tested and certified by the Secretary of State’s office after being federally certified.
"My job, as the Secretary of State, is to follow the law and the law requires my office to test the electronic voting equipment used in Colorado to make sure that these systems are secure and can accurately count every vote as set forth by the standards established in state law and mandated by a court order," said Coffman.
Under state law, the clerks and the vendors of decertified equipment will have up to 30 days to formally "Request a Reconsideration" of Coffman’s decisions. The legislature, when it convenes next month, can also decide to modify the requirements set forth in the state’s certification law to allow decertified equipment to be used in the 2008 election. On Wednesday and Thursday, Coffman’s staff will meet with the clerks and the vendors who have decertified equipment for a detailed technical briefing of the testing results and the factors leading to decertification.
"I had to strictly follow the law along with the court order," said Coffman. "If I’m too lenient in determining what passes then I risk having the state taken to court by activists groups who will ask for an injunction on the use of electronic voting machines for the 2008 election, and if I exceed the requirements of state law and the court order, then I will be sued by the vendors who manufacture and sell the equipment."
Coffman carefully reviewed the process for certifying electronic voting equipment used in 2006 and made dramatic changes, which include three additional layers of technical experts reviewing the tests results. He instituted a testing board composed of four technical experts to decide the passage or failure of individual tests, and an outside audit of technical experts to review the testing process, as well as making sure that the results matched the tests. He also engaged the cyber security experts from state government to also review and comment on the security testing.
Premier (formally known as Diebold) All voting equipment submitted for recertification passed.
Sequoia The optical scan devices, Insight and 400-C, used to count paper ballots both passed, but the electronic voting machines, the Edge II and the Edge II Plus, both failed due to a variety of security risk factors, including that the system is not password protected, has exposed controls potentially giving voters unauthorized access, and lacks an audit trail to detect security violations.
Hart The optical scan devices, eScan and BallotNow, both failed because test results showed that they could not accurately count ballots. The electronic voting machine, eSlate, passed.
ES&S The optical scan devices (M 100 and the M650) both failed because of an inability to determine if the devices work correctly and an inability to complete the testing threshold of 10,000 ballots due to vendor programming errors. The electronic voting machine (iVotronic) failed because it is easily disabled by voters activating the device interface, and the system lacks an audit trail to detect security violations.
Today the Secretary of State announced the result of his electronic voting machine testing. ... He decertified electronic voting machines from three of the four national vendors affecting dozens of Colorado counties including Denver, Jefferson, Arapahoe, Mesa and Pueblo.
Tomorrow I am going to hold a legislative hearing where the Secretary of State will present his findings and recommendations. This is the first step toward legislation to ensure that all Coloradans can vote and that their votes are counted accurately.
It is too early to know what legislation will be necessary. ...
1. If a killer was seeking infamy, neither his picture nor his words should ever appear on the front page. ...
2. ... [If] photos help readers understand that people who do terrible things are often very ordinary-looking... a single photo on a single day is sufficient.
3. Never run a photo or video which the killer has chosen for his own publicity. ...
4. Do publish a photo showing the disgusting post-mortem condition of the killer, with half his face blown off after he has killed himself or been shot by a good citizen. The photo should appear, not in the printed paper, but on the newspaper's Web site and behind a warning page. Such photos would deglamourize the perpetrators.
5. Although there is some news value in reporting the killer's name initially, there is no need to use the name incessantly. ...
'Westernised' women being killed in Basra
By Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad
Published: 11 December 2007
Religious extremists have killed at least 40 women this year in Basra because of their "un-Islamic" dress, according to Iraqi police.
The police said women were being apprehended by men patrolling on motorbikes or in cars with tinted windows before being murdered and dumped in piles of rubbish with notes saying they were killed for "un-Islamic behaviour". He said men had been victims of similar attacks.
Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the rise of Iraq's Shia-dominated government, armed men have forced women to cover their heads or face punishment. In parts of the predominantly Shia south, even Christian women have been forced to wear headscarves. In some areas of Basra, graffiti warns women that forgoing the headscarf and wearing make-up "will bring you death".
Many large churches have taken up arms. ... Like New Life, which has a volunteer plainclothes security force of about a dozen, other area megachurches also employ security to respond to trouble in places where as many as 7,000 might be on campus at any time. ... American Jews have long recognized the need for security at their synagogues, schools and community centers.
Labels: self defense
Springs to consider new gun law
Pam Zubeck and Perry Swanson, The Gazette
Originally published 08:12 a.m., December 12, 2007
Updated 08:12 a.m., December 12, 2007
Colorado Springs City Council members will consider a law next month to allow security guards to carry semiautomatic weapons.
Although the change has been in the works for months, the revision is sure to draw added interest in light of Sunday’s shootings at New Life Church.
City Clerk Kathryn Young... said the proposed measure would allow semiautomatic weapons; the current ordinance limits security guards to revolvers.
Labels: self defense
After Columbine, I promised my daughters that if I'm ever in that kind of situation, that I would do something. Instead of standing by while people are being slaughtered, people need to take action.
There were two other armed guards, but they weren't doing anything. I asked one of them to give me their gun so I could take the guy out. I thought, I've got to take this guy out. I stepped out from behind a pillar so he could see me, then I saw a female come from outside.
I was either being heroic or stupid. But I was afraid the guy would shoot me from the back. I just kept thinking I wanted to take him out.
After she shot him dead, I took a 9 millimeter gun out of his right hand. It was jammed. There was a round stuck.
He was bleeding from his back. The guy was an idiot. He was standing along a wall of plate glass. She took him out. It all happened so fast.
They made me go outside because I was a key witness. I saw a male victim. The EMT had taken his clothes off. He was cold and in a lot of pain.
Two of my daughters, Stacey and Sherry, met me at the hospital. They brought me a coat and a shirt. I told them about the promise I made to them and that I tried. They were crying.
If he had killed me, I would have gone to heaven.
[V]iolence in our society can sometimes seem to be pervasive. Yet while that is true, as Sunday's events prove, it's important that we not exaggerate its frequency. During this decade, the homicide rate in the United States (per 100,000 people) has actually been lower than at any time since the early and mid-1960s - and far lower than the 25 years between 1970 to 1995.
Such dry statistics are no consolation to anyone remotely near to this weekend's tragedies, but they offer perspective the rest of us should bear in mind.
Larry Bourbonnais, a Vietnam veteran who was at the church as the incident unfolded, heard the shots and ran toward the gunfire.
He yelled to divert the gunman's attention and was shot in the arm.
Then, Jeanne Assam, a female security guard, came around the corner with a handgun drawn, yelling, "Surrender!" She walked toward the shooter, firing one round after another until he went down.
The two killed at [New Life Church] are sisters Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16, police said. ... Also shot at the church Sunday were David Works, 51, Judy Purcell, 40, and Larry Bourbannais, 59, police said. ...
The shooter was shot and killed by a volunteer security guard at the church, said [Pastor Brady] Boyd.
Boyd said the security guard, a woman with a law enforcement background, and his personal bodyguard, encountered the gunman in a hallway at the church and fired on him, saving many lives.
"He had enough ammunition on him to cause a lot of damage," Boyd said.
The security guard's name has not yet been released.
The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation "Under God" and in God, we do indeed trust.
We should acknowledge the Creator as did the Founders -- in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from "the God who gave us liberty" (emphasis added).
"If prayer is said aloud [in tax-funded schools]," [Jack Kemp] explains, "it need be no more than a general acknowledgment of the existence, power, authority, and love of God, the Creator." That's all -- nothing controversial or indoctrinating about that! (page 78)
Lin Zinser and I have written an article on health care history and policy that will be appearing in the Winter 2007-2008 issue of The Objective Standard...
We argue that the current crisis in American health care is the result of decades of government interference and violations of individual rights in health insurance and medicine. Hence the solution to the problem is not more government controls but instead to gradually and systematically transition to a rights-respecting, fully free market in those industries.
The notion that America has a private, free-market medical system is a widespread misconception. More than 45% of total spending on healthcare in 2004 was government spending. Our semisocialist blend of Medicare, Medicaid and government-controlled, employer-sponsored health plans-with its onerous system of regulations and controls on medical providers-is the opposite of a free market.
... David Harsanyi... will move to the Post's op-ed pages. ...
Harsanyi, who joined The Post's staff in May 2004, in part to provide some ideological balance to [former columnist Diane] Carman and then-columnist Jim Spencer, has done his job well, Moore said. Often offering a libertarian "live and let live" take on the policies and practices emanating from city hall and the statehouse, he also has roamed the city for interesting tales of regular folks rubbing up against unforgiving bureaucracies or just plain silliness, Moore said.
His new book, "Nanny State," is a critique of efforts by local, state and federal governments to regulate numerous aspects of our lives.
According to the results of an unscientific survey conducted across CU's campuses and administrative offices, a narrow majority - 51.5 percent - of respondents said they think the school should ban all tobacco use on the campuses. Smoking indoors already is prohibited.
The survey was in response to CU Regent Michael Carrigan's proposal to ban smoking altogether. Results were released Thursday.
State of disbelief
Atheists say display shows different concept; library patron upset at having to wait to present rebuttal
By BOBBY MAGILL
The Daily Sentinel
Saturday, December 01, 2007
"We imagine a world without religion," declares a display posted by Western Colorado Atheists on Saturday in the back stairwell of the Mesa County Public Library. ...
The atheists' display is simple, composed of mostly letter-sized sheets of paper answering questions about atheism, quoting dead presidents about the virtues of questioning faith and outlining what the group views as the pitfalls of religion: hate, corruption, scandal and violence. ...
The atheists' display was approved by the library earlier this year and assigned the entire month of December for posting. ...
Anderson, who posted a display in the same space last February criticizing gay people, same-sex families and others as hell-bound if they don't make right with God, said the library is getting itself into trouble by not allowing her to post her poster-sized Christian display the same day the atheists posted theirs.
I recently opened a liquor store (March 2007) in Pueblo, CO. I am not a rich man. I have my life savings and a 2nd mortgage on my home invested in my modest, one employee (me) store. I have been working 6 days a week 13hrs a day for 8.5 months to make this place a success. It will be another year before I recoup all of my start-up losses.
Wine accounts for 50% of my sales, Beer accounts for about 35%. I am in a plaza with a King Soopers 100' from my door. I had to sign a 5yr lease to get this location. I started this store under existing laws. I've staked my future on it. I'm 53 years old.
If the Blue Laws are repealed and Grocer's are allowed to sell wine and beer that is not 3.2%, I will be ruined. I could not compete with their buying power and and their employee base that would allow them to stay open 16hrs/7days. I will lose my life's savings and my house.
Can you explain to me how your desire to buy wine on Sunday in a grocery store, justifies ruining my life?
Turtles Wine & Spirits
It didn't take us long to see how it all worked out. Any man who tried to play straight, had to refuse himself everything. He lost his taste for any pleasure... He felt ashamed of every mouthful of food he swallowed, wondering whose weary nights of overtime had paid for it, knowing that his food was not his by right, miserably wishing to be cheated rather than to cheat... [H]e couldn't marry or bring children into the world, when he could plan nothing, promise nothing, count on nothing. But the shiftless and the irresponsible had a field day of it. They bred babies... they got more sickness than any doctor could disprove, they ruined their clothing, their furniture, their homes -- what the hell, "the family" was paying for it! They found more ways of getting in "need" than the rest of us could ever imagine -- they developed a special skill for it, which was the only ability they showed. (pages 619-20)
Lotto win forestalls foreclosure
Originally published 12:30 a.m., November 27, 2007
Updated 11:50 a.m., November 27, 2007
As the Bible says: "Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."
Gloria Aguda, of Fountain, said she prayed to God for help, facing foreclosure and mounting bills. She won the jackpot in the Nov. 21 Lotto drawing, worth approximately $9 million.