Archive for March 2012

Drug Reform Bill Favors Treatment Over Felonies

The following article by Linn and Ari Armstrong originally was published March 30 by Grand Junction Free Press.

Politicians trying to save people from the consequences of their own stupidity is itself stupid. The effort breeds invasive, Nanny State laws that undermine individual responsibility. The ultimate effect is to encourage stupidity rather than curb it.

Whether we care about personal health, responsible living, or responsible governance, what we need above all is a people capable of thinking for themselves and taking responsibility for their own actions. A government that attempts to do people’s thinking for them undermines responsible action.

Politicians trying to save people from the consequences of their own stupidity by threatening to destroy their lives with felony convictions is outright insanity. Yet that is precisely how Colorado law currently treats low-level drug offenders.

Thankfully, Senate Bill 163 would bring a touch of sanity to Colorado’s drug laws. Fox31 reports that the bill would “reduce the crime of possession of 4 grams or less of a schedule I or II controlled substance or 2 grams or less of methamphetamine from a felony to a misdemeanor.” The bill pertains to possession only, not distribution.

Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (CCJRC) and a supporter of the bill, explained the measure would alter criminal penalties for “everything from heroin and cocaine to methamphetamines,” drugs whose abuse often involves serious addictions. The bill would not impact marijuana, she added.

Those tempted to think of this as a weepy leftist “soft on crime” bill should consider that two of the bill’s sponsors, Shawn Mitchell and Don Beezley, are perhaps the legislature’s two most stalwart defenders of economic liberty.

In a remarkably personal moment, Mitchell said during a media conference (as reported by Fox31): “My younger brother has been a meth addict for nearly a decade. He’s has been in jail in more than one state, he has a felony conviction. He got a treatment program in a county jail in Utah that helped him see things differently and my family is filled with love and hope for his turnaround.”

Representative Claire Levy, a Boulder Democrat (if we may repeat ourselves), also talked sense: “Going to prison does not help someone with a drug problem. They don’t get treatment in prison, and it’s a tremendous waste of taxpayer resources. This bill is not only about being smarter on crime, but it’s about saving taxpayer money and devoting those resources to better purposes.”

In an email alert, CCJRC added, “A felony conviction is a lifetime punishment, resulting in significantly reduced ability to obtain housing and employment, the basics of productive life. Low-level drug possession does not warrant a lifetime of diminished opportunity.”

To be sure, the bill is not perfect. While the bill would pay for drug treatment out of savings from reduced incarceration, we’re not convinced the government should be in the business of financing drug treatment with dollars forcibly taken from taxpayers. We’d rather see voluntary efforts to fund drug treatment. But the bill wouldn’t spend any additional taxes, and its positive effects far outweighs our concern here.

Of course, the bill will do nothing directly to reduce the problems of criminal violence, toxically tainted drugs, and property damage associated with the criminal distribution of drugs. The simple fact is that all the worst problems associated with drugs result directly from the prohibition of those drugs, not the drugs themselves.

The largest and most obvious problem is all the gang violence surrounding the drug trade. As during the prohibition of alcohol, drug prohibition confers enormous wealth to violent criminal gangsters.

Moreover, we think it’s very likely that the nasty methamphetamines of today never even would have been invented but for the prohibition of milder amphetamines that pharmacists sold over the counter until a few decades ago.

But we don’t expect the legislature to embrace our radical views for at least a few more years. As a matter of practical politics, Bill 163 represents a good-faith effort by the bill’s sponsors to bring incremental but meaningful reform to the state’s drug laws.

We should not confuse a reduction in criminal penalties for possessing these drugs with any sort of sanction of the drugs’ abuse. Obviously these drugs can be extremely harmful to those abusing them. We personally know people who have seriously harmed their lives by abusing these drugs. Chances are good that you do, too.

But we’re not doing people with drug problems any favors by locking them up with hardened criminals or slapping them with a felony record. As Mitchell said, “If we’re trying to stop people from ruining their life with poison, it doesn’t make sense to ruin their life legally with the permanent consequences of a felony conviction.”

Those with drug problems deserve the chance to straighten out their lives, get on a good career path, and move on. For many, Bill 163 would give them that chance.

Voice of the Musical Saw: Interview with Natalia Paruz

My favorite scene from the film Another Earth involves the two main characters in a music hall; the composer plays the musical saw for his friend. The director skillfully weaves in scenes of space flight, and the friend (played by Brit Marling, who also cowrote the script) offers a moving response to the music. (I appreciated and enjoyed the quirky film overall despite its problems.)

After I posted my initial remarks, Natalia Paruz—the “Saw Lady”—mentioned to me via Twitter that she played the music of that scene. I’d already seen her perform the “Star Trek” theme on a YouTube video. And, when I was younger, a friend of mine played musical saw. So I figured I’d ask Paruz for an interview. She agreed, and the exchange follows. My questions are in italics.

How did you come to participate in the film Another Earth?

Director Mike Cahill saw me performing in the NYC subway and that gave him the idea to incorporate a musical saw into the film. He asked me if I would help choose music for the saw to play, and then record it for the soundtrack. He also asked me if I would coach William Mapother, the actor who was to act as if playing a saw, to do that.

Did you record the piece specifically for this film? How long of a process was it?

The piece was composed for the film by composer Scott Munson, who is probably the most prolific composer for the musical saw, inspired by the way Mike (the director) described the movie and the feel of the scene in an e-mail. I recorded what was to be a demo of the piece for Mike to hear—I was basically sight-reading the piece. We were certain we would re-record it properly later (if the piece met with Mike’s approval). It turned out that Mike loved the piece so much that he wanted to keep it exactly as is—so we never re-recorded it—what you hear in the movie is the demo! I later recorded the piece again, for my second album.

What was it like working with an actor to teach him to look like he’s playing the saw? Did he end up actually being able to play it a bit?

Working with William was a lot of fun for me because it was different from what I usually do, which is teach people how to actually play. It was challenging to come up with a system of signs that would map out the moves the music requires, for a person who doesn’t read music.

At the shoot I stood in front of William and mimed directions for him while he was “playing.” In the scene it looks as if William is looking as Brit Marling watching him play, but in actuality she wasn’t even there when we shot William “playing.” He was looking at my miming. Later, we shot Brit sitting in the audience. William wasn’t there for that—the director had me play on stage, so that the sound would inspire emotions on Brit’s face.

There is an instant when all one sees is the saw (a shot from behind)—that shot was done with me actually holding the blade. William did an excellent job pretending to play a saw—he never made a sound (he didn’t learn how to actually play) but he looks very convincing. During the shoot I had to give marks to each take, letting the director know which part of which take looked realistic and which didn’t. Editing that scene is a masterpiece of its own—it couldn’t have been easy to assemble all this separate footage, and Mike did such an amazing job!

Can you actually “tune” a saw, as the actor suggests in the film, or was that just made up for the performance?

In actuality one doesn’t “tune” the saw but rather “warms it up” before playing. That is done by bending the blade repeatedly up and down. If the air is cold (say, because of strong AC in an auditorium)—the saw wouldn’t sound good on the first try, and bending it up and down warms the metal to a temperature where it would vibrate more readily. That is what the “tuning” bit is based on.

How big of a deal was the film in terms of advancing your career?

Having a Fox Searchlight film on my bio certainly looks nice next to the other films I played for (Dummy with actor Adrien Brody, American Carny, I Sell the Dead, etc.). Also, the majority of the “Likes” on my Facebook Page are from people who saw Another Earth, so I would say the film certainly helped spread word about musical saw playing in general and myself as well.

As I watched the scene from Another Earth, I was struck by how much the musical saw sounds like a human voice. Usually the violin is described as close to the human voice; is the musical saw the closest to it?

It is amazing how a piece of steel can sound so human. So many times when people hear me playing before seeing me play, they come looking for a singer . . . and when they realize the sound is coming from the saw they find it hard to believe. They put their ears close to the blade to verify the sound is actually coming from there!

The saw’s sound is so much like that of a soprano voice that it was used in a recording of some choir, to do the high notes their sopranos couldn’t reach. I perform with opera singers often. Audience members often remark on how sometimes they cannot tell what sound is coming from the singer and what sound is coming from the saw! I recorded track #13 of my second album especially in order to show the similarity of a soprano voice to that of the saw’s.

I assume one can buy specialty “saws” for music that can’t actually saw anything. What’s the business of producing musical saws like?

About 100 years ago there were many manufacturers of saws made especially for music (see my detailed list of them). Today there are only three manufacturers of musical saws in the USA and some overseas, led by Mussehl & Westphal, which is the only manufacturer who lasted over the years. They have been selling musical saws since 1921. For a few years during the 1920s, sales averaged approximately 25,000 per year! However sales dropped significantly during the late 1930s as the art of playing music on a saw almost disappeared, especially after WWII.

So how did you get involved in this unusual pursuit? How long did it take you to become proficient?

I was introduced to the art of playing music on a saw by chance (or fate). I had mapped out my life as a dancer (I was a trainee with the Martha Graham Dance Company, and I performed with many smaller companies, in musicals, taught dance, etc.) but being run over by a car put an end to that. I searched for an alternate career, but nothing I tried filled the void the lack of dance left in my spirit. To cheer me up, my parents took me to Europe. We went to a show for tourists and part of it was a guy playing a saw, and for the first time since the accident I felt excited about something. It was as if providence pointed its finger to tell me what I was meant to do in life.

Since there was no musical saw teacher to be found, I taught myself, through trial & error (no internet tutorials back then either) how to play. At first I only thought of it as a hobby, but an invitation from a local Salvation Army Center (which heard about my playing from a neighbor of mine who could hear me practicing) changed that. When my phone kept ringing with invitations to perform, I realized that I could turn this into a career.

Anything else?

About 10 years ago I founded the NYC Musical Saw Festival which aims to promote the art form of playing music with a saw. When I started there were only five other saw players, but our numbers grew and we even established a new Guinness World Record for the “Largest Musical Saw Ensemble,” with 53 people playing saws together!

Thank you for the great questions, Ari!

Readers are invited to visit my website, where people can download my music, and my Facebook Page, where people may ask me questions about the musical saw or the movie.

Thank you very much,

all the best,
Natalia

Ideas of the Tea Party Survey

I distributed this survey earlier this year; its goal is to better understand where Tea Partiers get their ideas. Replies follow the questions. (Obviously, I do not necessarily agree with all the replies.)

1. What is your name?

2. What city and state do you live in? [Answers omitted.]

3. What is your primary occupation?

4. If you have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, please list your major(s) and degree(s).

5. Did you become politically active through the Tea Party movement? How long have you been active in politics?

6. Besides the Tea Party label, how do you usually describe yourself in terms of your political commitments? If any of the following apply, please list them: conservative, Republican, independent, Christian conservative, fiscal conservative, free-market activist, libertarian, classical liberal, Objectivist.

7. Through what channels do you share your ideas with others? If you use any of the following means, please briefly explain how: social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), electronic email list, radio show, podcast, blog, regular newspaper column, occasional letters to newspapers, organize or participate in politically-oriented meetings or discussion groups.

8. What (if any) ideological or political organizations do you contribute to financially or volunteer to support?

9. Were you exposed to free-market ideas in college? If so, please briefly explain how.

10. What are your main, regular sources of politically-related ideas and information? Please list the most significant radio shows, TV shows, publications, blogs, organizations, or writers that you turn to on a regular basis.

11. Have you read any books since the rise of the modern Tea Party movement that have strongly influenced your political ideas? If so, which ones?

12. For each of the following figures, please briefly explain whether you have heard of the figure, whether he or she has influenced you, and, if so, how:
a) Milton Friedman
b) Friedrich Hayek
c) Ayn Rand
d) Henry Hazlitt
e) Ludwig von Mises
f) Thomas Sowell

13. Besides the figures already listed, have any scholars, intellectuals, or religious leaders strongly influenced your political ideas? If so, please name them and briefly explain how they influenced you.

 

Keith Peterson

3. RF Engineer (part-time)/All things computer the rest of the time

4. NA

5. No. 20 years

6. Conservative (Social and fiscal). However, I am becoming more Libertarian with each passing second.

7. Organize meetings (Legislative reviews with state Senators/Reps, Tea Party gatherings, guest speakers on issues). Facebook, Google+, website, assisting with radio program (not a host).

8. individual campaigns/candidates. Have in the past been a contributing member of Heritage and similar organizations.

9. No

10. Talk radio/podcasts (Glenn Beck, CATO, Coffee and Markets, Reason Magazine podcast, and others). Imprimis, Reason Magazine, PPC, I2I, Complete Colorado, Gasden Society of Colorado, Big Government, Daily KOS, MoveOn, Occupy sites. Too many to list all. Mostly Right leaning and Libertarian sites and publications, with a healthy sprinkling from the Left as well.

11. No

12. Ayn Rand, Hayek, and Mises. Mises mostly in helping me better understand how an economy should, and can, function.

13. The person who has maybe influenced me the most since the Tea Party came along is not well known outside of Colorado (so far as I know he isn’t), that would likely be David K. Williams. Ravi Zacharias, even though he rarely touches on the political in an in depth way, has influenced me politically for well over a decade now.

 

Anonymous

3. Software Development

4. Almost. I got a job in my field while still in school, and have enough major specific credits in Computer Science to graduate, but I make more than average for people with my degree already and don’t have all of the general education credits I need to graduate.

5. Tea party movement, I’m not terribly active in it, though I agree with its original intent and still talk to people about it. I’ve been voting since I could (2000) and have discussed politics with my friends since about 1992. My ideas didn’t really solidify until 2002 to 2003.

6. Libertarian primarily. Republican secondary. (It used to be reversed.) Classical Liberal, Fiscal conservative, and Objectivist are all things that I agree with at least partially.

7. Twitter, Tumblr, and my own blog (socia.arkaic.com), I comment on Facebook and Google+ posts by others, but rarely start those myself. I comment regularly on the blogs of others as well. I used to use Google Reader to share, discuss, and read articles, but Google neutered it, so now I use Newsblur with Tumblr and Disqus to do the same thing.

8. I have contributed to Freedomworks and the Fairtax foundation before.

9. To an extent, though the professor didn’t directly espouse it. Macroeconomics class had the building blocks for free market ideas, but I had to put them together myself. Microeconomics wasn’t very useful for free market ideas.

10. Reason.com, BigGovernment, John Stossel, Penn Jillette, South Park, The Blaze, The Jerry Doyle show, The Neal Boortz program and Free Colorado, to name a few. I have friends that cull interesting articles from sites like The Huffington Post and others, so I get a subset of those as well.

11. Actually very few, given my job I haven’t had as much time to read political books since the Tea party was founded.

12. A. Definitely, the sense of optimism combined with concrete examples of how the market works was very helpful in solidifying my ideas.
b. Indirectly, I’ve read a number of things from people who cite Hayek and I find these second hand bits to be quite insightful, but haven’t yet gone to read his stuff directly.
c. Yes, though not always in the direction she intends. Still good fodder to bring up new directions of thinking to problems I’m already looking at.
d. Sadly, no.
e. Another person I’ve read things indirectly from.
f. Some stuff here and there. Mostly articles rather than books. I’ve shared a number of them to better explain to others why I take the positions I do.

13. Walter E Williams’ writing has helped me with some of the concepts of free markets.

 

Earl Allen

3. Flight Instructor

4. M.A. English Literature

5. No. Since 1993, when I moved to CO.

6. libertarian/Libertarian/free-market activist/classical liberal in that order.

7. Twitter, Facebook, various email lists, blog http://flypro.blogspot.com , LTE’s, Boulder Libertarians.

8. Cato, downsizedc.org , Libertarian Party, theadvocates.org , ij.org

9. Yes. But not by teachers or classes. Read Milton Friedman’s “Free To Choose” when I was a college teacher.

10. wattsupwiththat.com , sppiblog.org , joannenova.com.au , news.google.com , Drudge Report , peoplespresscollective.org

11. “The Most Dangerous Superstition” http://larkenrose.com/store.html

12. a) Milton Friedman read “Free To Choose”
b) Friedrich Hayek read “Road To Serfdom”
c) Ayn Rand read “everything I could get my hands on” and own three copies of “Atlas Shrugged”, one of which is falling apart at the seams due to overuse.
d) Henry Hazlitt read “Economics in One Lesson”
e) Ludwig von Mises have read parts of “Human Action” and many of his essays
f) Thomas Sowell read “Inside American Education” and “The Vision of the Anointed”

13. Ari Armstrong for his untiring efforts to promote liberty in my home State. David Kopel for his articulate defense of self-defense rights. Jon Caldara for his articulation of liberty and free markets everywhere. Ron Paul for having the guts to stand up to the Repellicant status quo. Harry Browne for his gentlemanly articulation of free-market politics. Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il for being the perfect illustrations of what happens when authoritarians are in control. Trey Parker and Matt Stone for their Galt’s Gulch of humor at Comedy Central and for “The Book of Mormon”, which has a chance to change history (away from a Mormon Prez candidate).

 

Howard Towt

3. Internet Service Provider.

4. Engineering: BS, MS; Business Administration: MBA.

5. No; Since 2004.

6. Republican.

7. Blog: http://anti-republicanculture.com.

8. None.

9. Yes; Courses in political science and economics.

10. Radio: Rush Limbaugh; Blogs: Instapundit, Power Line, The Other McCain, Ricochet, Urgent Agenda, Black Five.

11. Breitbart’s “Righteous Indignation;” Bolton’s “Surrender is not an Option.”

12. a) Milton Friedman – Monetary policy vs. fiscal policy.
b) Friedrich Hayek – The role of intellectuals.
c) Ayn Rand – “The Fountainhead” is the best novel written.
d) Henry Hazlitt – (Don’t know.)
e) Ludwig von Mises – I need to know more about the Austrian economists…
f) Thomas Sowell – Great respect for his economic pragmatism and courage.

13. Ron Radosh, Victor Davis Hanson, Sarah Palin: people with the courage to promote the U.S. Constitution as a unique and important philosophical document.

 

Anonymous

3. Computer programmer

4. BSEE

5. No. 30 years.

6. Libertarian

7. Electronic email list
Blog
Occasional LTE’s
Organize and participate in meetings and discussion groups.

8. Libertarian Party

9. Once in 1972 when a Libertarian Party sympathizer came to speak. I was also heavily involved with free market economists at Columbia University and the University of Chicago

10. Ari and Linn Armstrong, John Stossel

11. No

12. a) Milton Friedman – Free to choose
c) Ayn Rand – Yes. I thought she was prescient when I first read her in high school.
d) Yes.
e) Yes.
f) Yes. I read his articles in Townhall

13. James Heckman, Nobel Laureate. I worked for him for 5 years before he got his Nobel.

 

Anonymous

3. Computer Modeler for Smart Grid and Direct Marketing applications

4. Bachelor in Chemistry, Bachelor in Physics

5. Not explicitly through the Tea party movement. I have been active since returning to the US from Thailand, though my disillusionment of late had caused me to be less active then initially on my
return. The gestation and birth of the Tea Party may change that.

6. Libertarian, with Nationalist tendencies.

7. Email and discussions

8. I have helped the Libertarian party in the past.

9. not really– but that was the 1970s

10. Fox news, KCOL600, Glenn Beck, CNN (yuck), 760 radio in Boulder (yuck, keep your enemies closer), Mark Steyn, National Review

11. A great many… Mark Steyn– America Alone, After America
Glenn Beck — Common Sense, Broke, Arguing with Idiots
Politically incorrect guide to Socialism,
Politically incorrect guide to Islam and the Crusades

12. a) Milton Friedman — Yes, blessed be his name– Rational economic
analysis
b) Friedrich Hayek — Yes, blessed be his name — argued Keynes into a
corner
c) Ayn Rand — Yes, Blessed be her name (though she wouldn’t appreciate it) A great deal of VERY good writing about our world and how it might get corrected and/or go wrong…. In defense of Selfishness is GREAT
d) Henry Hazlitt — no?
e) Ludwig von Mises — Yes, blessed be his name — I get stuff from the institute every day…
f) Thomas Sowell — I’ve read a number of his pieces and enjoy them immensely… solid…

13. Mark Steyn, how much fun is that? GREAT writing about important subjects
“How Civilizations Die” — I don’t’ know author–treatise on impact of demographics on society and civilization actually
“Guns, Germs and Steel” — jared Diamond– rational explanations and a clarity of analysis of history everyone could use
“Clash of Civilizations” — Huntington? — Another necessary read in this world.
“Wisdom of Crowds” — again, forget author — about how bodies of people are proven to make better decision then individual “experts”
Jonah Goldberg — Liberal Fascism… MUST READ

3. Unemployed

4. BSBA Business; MBA Business

5. NO. How long have you been active in politics? 25 years

6.

7. Active in Republican organizations, occasional letters to newspapers, organize and participate in politically-oriented meetings, lobby state legislature.

8. Colorado Union of Taxpayers, Republican Party

9. NO

10.

11. Read Atlas Shrugged for the fourth time.

12. a) Milton Friedman yes, yes
b) Friedrich Hayek yes, yes
c) Ayn Rand yes, yes
d) Henry Hazlitt yes, yes
e) Ludwig von Mises yes, yes
f) Thomas Sowell yes, yes

13.

 

Kyle Haight

3. I am a software engineer.

4. I hold a BS in Cognitive Science from the University of California, San Diego. I took a year and a half of graduate study in philosophy from San Jose State but left the program without obtaining a degree.

5. It depends on what you mean by ‘politically active’. I have been politically aware since I was a teenager in the mid-to-late 1980′s, in the sense of paying attention to political developments, voting regularly and discussing political issues with friends and co-workers. The Tea Party movement was the first time I have moved beyond that to such actions as attending public rallies, holding sign-making events and the like.

6. I am an Objectivist and will describe myself as such when appropriate. In contexts where “Objectivist” would be uninformative I usually describe myself as a “secular pro-freedom advocate” or “pro-free market”.

7. I’m a regular participant in the Objectivism Seminar, an on-line book discussion forum which explores books by Objectivists. I have blogged in the past but have not done so actively for a few years. I make political posts to Facebook occasionally.

8. I support the Ayn Rand Institute and the Anthem Foundation. I also make targeted contributions to specific political campaigns, e.g. I made a contribution to Scott Brown’s campaign in early 2010 and contributed to the Wisconsin Club for Growth in support of Justice David Prosser’s reelection campaign. I will probably make a similar donation in support of Governor Walker to help him fight the recall campaign the left has pushed him into.

9. I was an active member of the UCSD Objectivist club for two years; I also read a variety of pro-free-market books from the university library. This activity was largely self-motivated, not something I encountered in the classroom.

10. I get a lot of information from blogs: Instapundit, Dailypundit, Power Line, RedState, Vodkapundit and the PJ Tatler are the main ones. I also read other PJ Media more broadly. I don’t listen to talk radio or watch TV news. Too bombastic, and anything they push hard will work its way into the blogosphere fairly quickly.

I also read the Objective Standard for longer-form analysis.

11. Influenced in the sense of changing my political ideas? Not particularly; I’ve been an Objectivist for over two decades. I did find Angelo Codevilla’s essay on the ruling class to be insightful and I’ve used the categories he set up to help with my analysis of shorter-term political trends and conflicts particularly within the Republican party.

12. a) Milton Friedman

Yes, I’ve heard of him, but I haven’t read any of his major works. (I did go to an ‘anarchist party’ thrown by his son David back in the 1990′s.) I wouldn’t consider him influential on my thinking.

b) Friedrich Hayek

I’ve heard of him. I tried reading his book “The Constitution of Liberty” when I was in college but bounced off. I’ve made use of his insights regarding the so-called ‘knowledge problem’.

c) Ayn Rand

Obviously a major influence.

d) Henry Hazlitt

I read Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson” when I was in high school and it provided a very useful foundation for my understanding of how to analyze the operations of a mixed economy.

e) Ludwig von Mises

I read a large chunk of Mises’ “Human Action” in high school while researching a term paper for an economic class. I was very impressed, but too young to really understand it. I consider Mises’ ‘Calculation Argument’ to be the definitive economic refutation of socialism. Rand shows why socialism is immoral; Mises shows why it can’t work in practice.

f) Thomas Sowell

I read Sowell’s “Race and Culture” and “The Vision of the Anointed” in the 1990′s. I found them flawed but insightful; the former provides great ammunition for arguments over discrimination, race relations and affirmative action while the latter provides excellent insights into the liberal and conservative worldviews.

His short essays are also very much worth reading in my opinion, not so much for their theoretical content (which his often flawed by his conservatism) but for the facts and the way he ties them together.

13. I’m defining ‘political ideas’ somewhat broadly here.

Other Objectivist intellectuals, obviously: Leonard Peikoff and Tara Smith stand out for special notice.

I learned a lot of useful economics from George Reisman and Murray Rothbard (pity the latter is such a nutcase on other issues).

Angelo Codevilla on foreign policy.

Strauss and Howe’s “Generations” and “The Fourth Turning” have influenced my view of history and the nature of the crisis in which the country is currently embroiled.

Yochelson and Samenow’s “The Criminal Personality” has been a major influence on my view of criminal psychology and how the government should deal with criminals.

David Horowitz’s “The Politics of Bad Faith” has significantly shaped my understanding of the psychology and goals of the left.

I also have to give a nod to Bill Whittle. While he isn’t an intellectual he’s probably about as good a cultural commentator as you can find these days who isn’t an Objectivist.

 

Martin Buchanan

3. Software engineer and technical writer.

4. Four years of college with no degree. Many computer science and electrical engineering courses along with physics, math, medical laboratory courses, and a variety of other subjects. Attended MIT and George Washington University and have credits from four other institutions as well.

5. No.

In a major way from 1980 through the early 1990s in Oregon, including a 1988 run for Secretary of State as the LP candidate, creating the first major school choice organization in Oregon, writing the 1990 school choice initiative and heading the campaign, and writing other initiatives for tax limits and term limits (where others did the vast majority of the real work on those other initiative; the term limits were enacted by voters and are in the Oregon constitution). Occasionally active in Colorado, including a 2008 run in the First Congressional District, though mainly active by writing letters to the editor and giving money. Wrote and published a book in 2007 that anticipated our current federal budget crisis and provided appropriate solutions (cut spending and entitlements). Have set aside another book project, about the sovereign default of the United States, as I’m working two jobs.

6. Have identified as a libertarian since 1970, am a life member of the LP, was very active in the Oregon LP, and am somewhat active in the Colorado LP. First read Ayn Rand in 1967 and am still reading her works today. I share all of her major premises while disagreeing with some specific interpretations or applications of Objectivist ideas by Ms. Rand or by those in the movement. As a libertarian I avoid the “Objectivist” label, though I could fairly be described as an Objectivist sympathizer/someone who often finds value in the Objectivist movement. “Fiscal conservative” is another fair label. I abhor deficit and debts as government policy and strongly support a balanced budget amendment. Free market activist: yes. Classical liberal: yes.

7. Occasional letters to the editors, posting to email lists, or runs for office. When my book came out, did some radio and TV appearances for it. Once I really retire I may want to run initiative campaigns again. Can imagine blogging but do not want to Facebook nor tweet, nor podcast.

8. Ayn Rand Institute, Libertarian Party national and state and candidates, Cato Institute, ISIL, and occasionally other organizations as well.

9. At MIT was active in the Radicals for Capitalism and was a reporter for Ergo, an Objectivist student newspaper. A fellow worker at Ergo was Dan Karlan who introduced me to many other libertarian writers and thinkers including Murray Rothbard, Lysander Spooner, Roy Childs, Morris and Linda Tannehill, and David Friedman. I personally accept the argument for limited government put forth by Robert Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia, but found and still find considerable value in the writings of the anarchocapitalists.

10. Internet each day check the Washington Post, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Drudge, Wired, New Scientist, and Slashdot. Listen to PBS, Fox, ABC, and CNN on TV.

11. None with a strong influence, though I liked the Dirty Dozen that Ari Armstrong gave me about Supreme Court cases. The last book I read was Handbook of Floating-Point Arithmetic.

12. a) Milton Friedman – middling, read Free to Choose
b) Friedrich Hayek – minor, nas been on my “ought to read” list
c) Ayn Rand – strong influence, power and clarity of her writing and philosophy
d) Henry Hazlitt – strong influence via Economics in One Lesson and other books including Thinking as a Science and Time Will Run Back
e) Ludwig von Mises – middling, read some of his books years ago but never finished Human Action
f) Thomas Sowell – minor

13. Was moved by the power of C.S. Lewis’s writing and reasoning as well when I was a young man, and pondered the interesting problem of reconciling Lewis and Rand. That may be part of the reason I’ve generally been a deist for decades, putting me at odds with both thinkers. Was raised in the Presbyterian church as the grandson and great grandson of Presbyterian ministers by parents who valued parts of the Bible, reasoned about religion, and oscillated between liberal Christianity and agnosticism. My family background and my parents influenced me strongly and still do. As noted above, read and still value the work of several anarchocapitalist writers.

 

Jim McKindles

3. Retired Lucent Technologies installer/ Residential Builder

4. School of hard knocks!

5. Politically active since 1996, the year of my discovery of Dr Paul and Lew Rockwell.

6. Libertarian

7. My own email list.

8. Ron Paul and other Liberty minded candidates locally.

9. No college, just riding home with my Uncle from the construction jobsite listening to him carry on about Roosevelt and how crooked he and the unions were back in the mid sixties as a 20 year old.

10) Lew Rockwell, “Freedom Watch” on FBN

11-13) I have read each of these authors and all have influenced my way of living up here in [Michigan].

 

John Zaugg

3. Construction

4. Architecture-Bachelor Degree

5. No I’m not active in politics.

6. Objectivist

7. [Rarely write letters to papers; no on everything else.]

8. None

9. No

10. News commentary and books. Link TV, Democracy Now, Broadcast news commentary is shallow and bias.

11. No

12. a) Milton Friedman I have read some of his works
b) Friedrich Hayek I have read some of his works
c) Ayn Rand I have read all her works and I met Ayn Rand at a presentation in New York
d) Henry Hazlitt I have read some of his works
e) Ludwig von Mises I have read some of his works
f) Thomas Sowell I have read some of his works

 

Mary Lee Harsha

3. Retired IT professional

4. Theatre major

5. Three years

7. Letters to the Editor – occasionally
Facebook – post to Agenda 21 sites as well as my own. It is linked to a one year World Wide Amplified show about Objectivism that I led.
Twitter – only comments on political events, debates, etc.
The Objectivist Living blog – occassional
Electronic e-mail list: to friends in the Tea Party and 912 movements about everything I think is important to our politics and economics as well as a list of members of the Des Moines Objectivists about all things related to Objectivism.

8. 912, Tea Party, support through subscriptions The Objective Standard and The New Individualist at the Atlas Society.

9. No. I discovered them through Ayn Rand’s writings which led me to the Austrian economists.

10. Ayn Rand Institute, Objectivist presentations, Tara Smith, Glenn Beck TV (GBTV), Stossel, Freedom Watch, Varney and Company, general Fox Business news all day long, The Objectivist Standard, The New Individualist, Pajama T.V., Dianne Hsieh’s blog, George Reisman’s Blog, Facebook Agenda 21 groups, www.mises.org, WSJ Online, Reuters, American Thinker, and what ever comes up when I Google a particular subject.

11. Helpful Books:
Amity Shlaes – The Forgotten Man
Tara Smith – Moral Rights and Political Freedom
Ayn Rand – Atlas Shrugged – again and again
Ayn Rand – Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology again
Ayn Rand – Philosophy – Who Needs it again
Nathaniel Branden’s lectures – The Vision of Ayn Rand – Intro to Objectivist Philosophy
Barbara Branden’s audio book – The Principles of Efficient Thinking
Leonard Peikoff – Objectivism:The Philosophy of Ayn Rand
Leonard Peikoff – The Ominous Parallels
Andrew Bernstein – The Capitalist Manifesto
David Harriman – The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics
Ludwig von Mises – Human Nature and Epistemological Problems of Economics
Murray Rothbard – read in Man, Economy and State and Conceived in Liberty
Frederic Bastiat – Law, Unintended Consequences and selections from the complete works of
Saul Alinsky – Rules for Radicals
Karl Marx – The Communist Manifesto
Eugen von Bohm Bawerk – Karl Marx and the Close of his System
Glenn Beck – The Overton Window, How to Talk to Idiots, Broke
Jonah Goldberg – Liberal Fascism
Charles Beard – read in History of the United States
Stephen R.C. Hicks – Explaining Post-Modernism
Alexander Hamilton, James Madison – The Federalist Papers

Helpful for understanding Communitarianism and Agenda 21
Rosa Koire – Behind the Green Mask: U.N. Agenda 21
Amitai Etzioni – The Communitarian Reader
Amitai Etzioni – New Common Ground
Jay Walljasper – All That We Share

Helpful for Understanding the somewhat poor thinking of Conservatives:
Mark Levin – Liberty and Tyranny
Newt Gingrich – To Save the Country
Sarah Palin – Going Rogue

Helpful for Understanding Islam and Sharia Law
Barry Rubin – The Muslim Brotherhood
Brigiette Gabriel – Because They Hate
Brigiette Gabriel – They Must be Stopped

12. a) Milton Friedman – Yes, somewhat of an influence, though not as much as the Austrians (because his philosophy is not slid all the way down).
b) Friedrich Hayek – Yes, helped with understanding politcs and economics with his Road to Serfdom
c) Ayn Rand – Yes. Probably the most influential public figure in my life.
d) Henry Hazlitt – Yes – haven’t read him yet, but he’s on my list
e) Ludwig von Mises – Yes – big influence on understanding Austrian economics
f) Thomas Sowell – Yes – like to read his articles on the Atlas Society web site, have him on my book list.

13. Tara Smith – her philosophical articles in a variety of journals have taught me how to think about issues like judicial activism, how the U.S. Constitution has been interpreted, Objective and non-objective law, Zero Sum thinking in Environmentalism and the welfare state.
Yaron Brook – his excellent arguments for Objectivism at debates and on P.J. T.V. and other lectures have been a source of good cheer in the face of insane politics.
Jacob Bronowski – author of the Ascent of Man – did a beautiful job of making sense of the history of science. Led me to pursue more education in that field.
Richard Dawkins – his “The Greatest Show on Earth” and “The Magic of Reality” have helped clarify my thinking on Evolution and the nature of reality.

 

Todd Walton

3. System Administrator

4. N/A

5. Yes, I became politically active through the Tea Party movement. I was not before. I got involved in second half of 2010.

6. Objectivist.

7. Google+, Meetup group, Tea Party meetings, mailing lists, Republican Party committee meetings, I used to have a radio show, occasional letters to newspapers.

8. Local tea party activities, Ron Paul campaign, ARI.

9. No. Wasn’t really the point of my education.

10. Cato, Reason, ARI of course.

11. No.

12. I’ve heard of them all. Mises and Ayn Rand have influenced me. Mises
a little, Rand a lot.

13. No. I have other ideas, but my political philosophy is pretty much Ayn Rand 90% and then 10% from this and that and what I’ve cooked up myself.

 

Gladys Woynowskie

My primary occupation was “mother.”

4. BA in Humanities, AS in Early Childhood Education, I hold an Elementary Teacher’s license (in the state of CO).

5. I’m not sure I’m active yet. I have always had some interest as I see it as a citizen’s responsibility. In April of 2008 I went to Lincoln Park. I was motivated by the incredible disregard for the law and for political procedure (as set forth in the constitution) which was being demonstrated by the executive branch and the democratically controlled congress.

7. On facebook, I promote unity and mutual respect with all my communications. There is one group: Free Agent Diaz within which I freely communicate because we all recognize the failure of the judicial system to protect this man and we recognize the near futility of finding justice for him.
I also make occasional comments on blogs, etc. I write to my congressmen about once every two months. Mostly I talk with my friends.

I do not see myself as an activist and I resist activist techniques. I guess I am looking for a better definition and a more productive method of participation.

8. Parental Rights.org, NRA, Freedom Center (Horowitz), Judicial Watch, United American Patriots, Wounded Warriors Project.org

9. 2 classes: Economics, Retail Marketing

10. Local: blog.ariarmstrong.com/ gjresult.com junctiondailyblog.com livingthegrandlife.blogspot.com/ waronwrong.blogspot.com coloradoindependent.com/
completecolorado.com
National: Drudge Report, The Blaze, Huffington Post, Reuters, Politico, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck

11. The Coming Insurrection by unknown, You Don’t Need a Weatherman. . . by Ayers, A Point in Time by Horowitz, Chaplins and Clergy of the Revolution by JT Headley.

12. a) Milton Friedman : recognize as free market economist-never read
b) Friedrich Hayek: recognize as support of capitalism-never read
c) Ayn Rand: first read Atlas Shrugged in 1969 (give or take a year) Have re-read it at least 3 times since, have read all of her books. Her promotion of personal rights and responsibilities was irresistible.
d) Henry Hazlitt : no idea
e) Ludwig von Mises: no idea
f) Thomas Sowell: I know this name, seems linked to economics

13. The greatest influence on my political thought is the Bible. When I can understand how God wants me to interact with my fellowman, then I will know how act as a political entity. When I understand the constitution and the environment in which it developed, then I know how to act as an American. I am a self-educated historian with focus on ancient history and early American history
I have read most of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations . I have read both of Thomas Paine’s books (Rights of Man and Common Sense). Both of these men have been read more than once. This effort helped to build my understanding of the context from which our country came to be. Along with this would be the writings of Bradford and the Mayflower compact, and the biographies and writings of the founding fathers. Of the latter, my knowledge is not exhaustive but is varied. I seem to be lacking great scholars and intellectuals (living) who have influenced me. I find no suitable explanation for that.

 

Bill Setser

3. Director at Damon Runyon Repertory Theater

5. No. 32 years

6. I am an individualist with a mix of the following: conservative, Republican, fiscal conservative, free-market activist, libertarian, classical liberal.

7. I talk politics with friends and family, and read and comment frequently on libertarian and
conservative blogs, and occasionally write letters to the Pueblo Chieftain.

8. RNC, Colorado Republican Party, NRA, and ISP through Outdoors Unlimited

9. No

10. Pueblo Chieftain, Mike Rosen, Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Cafe Hayek, Ludwig von Mises Institute, Don
Surber blog, Rossputin, Black and Right blog, National Review Online.

11. a) The Discovery of Freedom, by Rose Wilder Lane
b) Our Enemy The State, by Albert Jay Nock

12. All of these people have greatly influenced my individualist philosophy. Hazlitt the least so,
simply because I’ve not seen enough of his work.

13. Walter E Williams, Don Boudreaux, and Russ Roberts have all helped give an economic foundation
to my individualist philosophies.

H.L. Mencken, Robert A Heinlein, and Mark Twain help reinforce a distrust of government (no matter
who is running the show)

 

Karl Schwols

3. Own my own small retail business in Boulder CO

4. Double Major BS in Engineering Science and BA in Social Science

5. 2 years, yes Tea Party Inspired

6. Libertarian leaning conservative.

7. Facebook mostly

8. not much yet

9. Always have been somewhat conservative, but I have been inspired and have read a great deal lately

10. Mike Rosen, America’s Morning News, Laura Ingram, The 5000 Year Leap by Skousen, CK Prahalad, ICECAP.US

11. The 5000 Year Leap by Skousen, CK Prahalad, The Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist papers

12. a) Milton Friedman…Heard of, read some of his books, watched many of his videos, agree with
b) Friedrich Hayek….Heard of, tried to read but a bit cumbersome
c) Ayn Rand….Heard of, read some, agree with some, disagree with some
d) Henry Hazlitt …not familiar enough with
e) Ludwig von Mises…not super familiar with, but I believe he inspired Hayek and is a strict libertarian.
f) Thomas Sowell …great writer, makes things very clear. agree with.

13. William F Buckly, Mark Levin,

 

Anonymous

3. IT.

4. No. Currently attending Front Range for A.A.S. in Comp Sci.

5. I have been “active” to some degree since age 16 or so. I am 22 at present so this predates the Tea Party.

6. Fiscal Conservative but social centrist.

7. Facebook, occasional letters to public officials. Caucuses every 2 years.

8. I have volunteered to help candidates for a state house campaign, a school board race, and as a county assembly delegate.

9. I am in college and no, college is not the source of my views.

10. Mike Rosen’s radio show on 850 KOA, the Denver Post Spot Blog, and Devil’s Advocate on PBS. I periodically watch news and political talk TV shows and track a substantial number of political websites and think tanks via RSS feeds.

11. Few that would have been influenced by the Tea Party per se. A Monetary History of the United States and Free To Choose, both by Milton Friedman influence me. A Conflict Of Visions by Thomas Sowell was also influential. I am presently reading through Bush’s memoirs and a book on political campaigning. I am also reading Machiavelli’s “The Prince”.

12. I’ve heard of all of them except Hazlitt but I only care for the ideas of Sowell and Friedman.

13. I also sort of like Krauthammer to some extent, though I often disagree with him.

 

Kathy Peterson

3. Sales/Activism/Social Media

4. BS in Business Administration (dual majors: Marketing/Organizational Management)

5. Mike Rosen/Rush Limbaugh listener since 1991, County Election Judge since 1998, attended first caucus in 2008, became truly active in politics as of 2/19/09 when Rick Santelli went “Tea Party” on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s trading floor in a righteous rant against President Obama’s proposal to help foreclosure “occupiers” refinance their mortgages.

6. I am a pro-choice, agnostic, strong national defense, fiscal conservative, and registered Republican. I also identify myself as a conservative, and free-market activist.

7. I communicate in person, through social media (Facebook: personal profile, non-profit org page, candidates pages, public and private groups, fan pages, private messages; Twitter: tweets; LinkedIn: private messages, status updates), emails incoming/outgoing, call-ins to radio shows, suggesting guests for radio programs, listening to and recommending podcasts, reading and recommending/sharing blogs and websites, attending/organizing/teaching at politically oriented events and activities.

8. R Block Party, Independence Institute, Colorado Christian University, Act! For America, Leadership Program of the Rockies, American Majority, Americans For Prosperity, various local candidate campaigns

9. I took both Macro and Micro Economics in High School, but do not recall taking these courses in college for my Business Degree.

10. Grassroots Radio Colorado (radio program on 560KLZ), Mike Rosen, Rush Limbaugh, Jon Caldara, Michael Brown (radio programs on 850KOA), various FOX News clips seen on Facebook, blogs: ColoradoPeakPolitics, PeoplesPressCollective, Michelle Malkin, Andrew Breitbart, Pamela Geller, etc., organizations: Centennial Institute, Independence Institute, PJTV (Pajamas Media), among others

11. Atlas Shrugged, Economics in One Lesson, The Law by Frederic Bastiat, Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell, America Alone by Mark Steyn, The Political Zoo by Michael Savage, Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies by Michelle Malkin, etc.

On a related topic, various movies have also strongly influenced my political ideas:
Waiting For Superman, Agenda: Driving America Down, Obsession, The Cartel, Kids Aren’t Cars, spOILed, Runaway Slave, I Want Your Money, America at Risk, Fitna, Commanding Heights (pbs), Atlas Shrugged the Movie, Iranium

12. a) Milton Friedman – Free to Choose video seen at his birthday party at the Independence Institute, great video on Greed during a 1979 interview with lefty Phil Donahue
b) Friedrich Hayek – Road to Serfdom (on my bedside table)
c) Ayn Rand – attended Diana Hsieh’s Atlas Shrugged discussion group, promoted Atlas Shrugged The Movie Part 1 premiere
d) Henry Hazlitt – Economics in One Lesson (Broken Window concept, Spread the Work scam, reality of unions)
e) Ludwig von Mises – Austrian School of Economic Thought
f) Thomas Sowell – Basic Economics (textbook of Penn Pfiffner’s Free People, Free Markets: Principles of Liberty class in which I am currently attending)

13. Columnist and Radio Talk Show Host Mike Rosen is the best economics and political science professor I have ever had, and I have been his grateful student since 1991.
Congressman Bob Schaffer is the most articulate, rational, prepared, and persuasive debater I have supported as a political candidate.
Colorado Senator Shawn Mitchell is a radiating mentor of liberty principles, social media mastery, and commitment to conservative ideals of smaller government, less regulation, lower tax rates, and individual responsibility.
Centennial Institute and Independence Institute founder John Andrews has a photographic memory of names and faces, is an uber-networker, and whose quick wit is the most effective un-ruffler of heated feathers.
Ayn Rand Institute’s Yaron Brook is a personable, thoughtful, and well-versed advocate for oftentimes disregarded non-religous conservatives.
Brigitte Gabriel and John Guandolo are brave, compelling, and informative educators on the realities of the threat of Shariah vs. our Constitution.
Governor Jan Brewer has exhibited strength, courage, and persistence in her fight to protect her Arizona constituents, as well as all Americans from our dangerously porous southern border.
On a local level, a personal hero, dedicated volunteer, and committed school board member Laura Boggs alerted, inspired, and recruited me to the current state of our non-tran$parent, top heavy, corrupt education system.

 

Anonymous

3. Retired airline pilot

4. BA, Colgate, English lit

Naval Postgraduate School Monterey, Aviation Safety Officer

5. Yes, my political activity began with the Tea Party. I’ve been active in Tea Party and Republican Party over 2 years.

6. Fiscal conservative, free-market activist, objectivist.

7. Leader of the Evergreen Tea Party. We have a website, Facebook, Twitter.

8. Evergreen Tea Party, Republican Party, Independence Institute, Leadership of the Rockies

9. Yes, senior level core course in American values.

10. Victor Davis Hansen blogs, National Review Uncommon Knowledge video interviews, Thomas Sowell editorials, Dr Hurd Daily Dose of Reason

Rosen, Limbaugh, etc on radio

FOX Business News and to a lesser extent, Fox News

11. The 1000 Year Leap, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, Bastiat’s The Law, Rob Natelson’s The Original Constitution: What it Said and Meant, John Bolton’s Surrender is Not an Option, Daniel Hannan’s The New Road to Serfdom, Adam Ferguson’s When Money Dies

12. a) Milton Friedman – know him, have read various articles by him.
b) Friedrich Hayek – know him, have read various articles by him.
c) Ayn Rand – a fan, though I learned of her late in life. Have read Atlas Shrugged and various essays.
d) Henry Hazlitt – know him, have read various articles by him.
e) Ludwig von Mises – know him, have read various articles by him. Regular reader of the Mises Daily.
f) Thomas Sowell – a fan. I try to read every editorial he publishes. I’ve read Basic Economics and the recently published Thomas Sowell Reader. Consider him a NATIONAL TREASURE.

13. Ayn Rand for her individualistic philosophy and sense of life.

Victor Davis Hansen for his observations to today world and his ability to relate it to ancient times.

Also, David McAlvany’s Weekly Commentary podcast is great on economics and financial topics from a big picture point of view.

I also enjoy Tammy Bruce and Michelle Malkin. And I read The Objective Standard and The Intellectual Activist Daily.

Birth Control Mandate Violates Individual Rights, Muell Argues

At a recent talk at Liberty On the Rocks in Denver, Amanda Muell argued that the birth control insurance mandate violates individual rights. She compared it to a law forcing restaurants to offer more extravagant and more expensive meals that customers wish to buy. The mandate does not merely violate religious liberty, she said, but individual rights.

Why Presidential Politics Shouldn’t Matter to You (Much)

Recently at Snowcon I offered a short talk on why people shouldn’t spend many resources on presidential politics, at least this year. There are plenty of other worthy causes to spend your time promoting!

How the Left Paints the Right as Anti-Woman

The following article originally was published March 16 by Grand Junction Free Press.

The birth-control mandate that forces insurance companies to provide “free” birth control is an extensive forced wealth transfer scheme, compelling everyone who doesn’t use birth control to pay for others to use it. It is blatantly unjust, violating the rights of women and men as consumers as well as the rights of religious organizations that condemn the use of birth control. So how is it that Republicans are losing the issue so spectacularly? How is it that the left so successfully paints the right as “anti-woman?”

Some have suggested that the Obama administration shoved the birth-control mandate down the throats of religious institutions specifically to get a rise out of Republicans. It was a conscious political strategy, in this view. Whether or not Democrats intended that result, they achieved it. The Democrats left the animal skins and clubs lying about, and many Republicans gleefully dressed the part of troglodyte.

Rather than clearly and consistently answer, “Women have every right to purchase and use birth control, but they don’t have the right to force others to pay for it,” Republicans managed to come up with a rather different set of claims. Consider:

• Rick Santorum said that birth control is “harmful to women” and “harmful to society.” Birth control is “not okay,” he added; it is “counter to how things are supposed to be” because sex should be “for purposes of procreation” and not “simply [for] pleasure.”

• When law student Sandra Fluke publicly endorsed the birth-control mandate, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut” and a “prostitute” and suggested that she make sex tapes available. (He later apologized.)

• Newt Gingrich condemned “post conception birth control”—which notably can include the standard birth control pill—and endorsed banning it.

• Gingrich, Santorum, and Ron Paul all have supported the so-called “personhood” movement, which would totally ban all abortions from the moment of conception, ban the birth control pill, and ban standard types of in vitro fertility treatments.

The reason the left is able to paint the right as “anti-woman” is that there is more than a grain of truth to the claim.

The left successfully used the “anti-woman” tag in 2010 against Ken Buck, who lost the U.S. Senate race in Colorado. After Buck endorsed a “personhood” measure in Colorado (before backpedalling), Planned Parenthood ran ads proclaiming, “Colorado women can’t trust Ken Buck.”

Given the background debates, many voters found it easier to interpret even Buck’s innocuous comments in a sinister light. In response to the blatant gender-based attacks by his opponent Jane Norton, Buck joked that people should vote for him he doesn’t “wear high heals.” Attacking Buck over that comment was a cheap shot, but it was also a shot that Buck himself invited by entertaining the “personhood” agenda.

Now the Democrats are trying to beat the Republicans by “Ken Bucking” the lot of them. Democrats think that by winning the votes of independent women, they can win. And they’re probably right. As Rachel Maddow writes for the Washington Post, “Today’s Republican candidates are all Ken Buck now.” If Democrats can make the charge stick—and Republicans are making that all too easy—the Democrats win.

Unfortunately, rather than focus on individual rights, distracted Republicans allow the left to get away with various absurd lies about the mandate. One lie is that birth control paid through insurance is “free.” It is certainly not free for those forced to pay higher insurance premiums.

Another lie is that declining to force people who don’t use birth control to pay for others to use it somehow limits “access to birth control.” We think red wine is good for our hearts, but that doesn’t mean we should be able to force others to stock our wine cellars or that our “access” to red wine is limited if they don’t. There is a huge difference between having the freedom to buy something and having the “freedom” to help yourself to somebody else’s cash.

Yet another creative lie is that not forcing religious institutions to provide birth control would somehow impose “theocracy.” Every person, including those who join religious groups, properly has the freedom to voluntarily enter into contracts. Theocracy means imposing religious doctrines by force of law; the birth-control mandate imposes the comparable injustice of forcibly interfering with religious groups. (Of course, much of the controversy regarding religious groups arises from the phenomenon of employer-paid insurance, a relic of inane tax policies. But that is a separate discussion.)

The unfortunate fact is that neither the left nor the right defends the rights of individuals to control their own resources and bodies and contract by mutual consent. Where is the political leader who will take a pro-choice, pro-individual rights stand across the board?

Linn Armstrong is a local political activist and firearms instructor with the Grand Valley Training Club. His son, Ari blogs at AriArmstrong.com in the Denver area.

Films on Disk Might Survive (On Another Earth)

What is the future of movie rental?

My wife and I watched Another Earth this evening. I posted to Facebook: “Another Earth is basically a tragic drama set to a sci-fi premise. The premise of the drama is implausible; the premise of the sci-fi backdrop totally impossible. Still, we found the writing to be sharp, the acting to be fantastic, the directing to be interesting (though there’s too much zooming!), and the story to be engaging throughout.”

But my parenthetical comment about the business of movie rentals is perhaps more interesting: “Incidentally, Amazon has started running regular specials on streaming video rentals; I don’t see how disks can possibly survive more than a few more years.”

We rented Another Earth for 99 cents, and Amazon regularly puts movie rentals on sale for a buck or two. With online rentals at $3.99, I’ll make the trek to Red Box to rent a disk, even though that requires two trips (one to pick up, another to drop off). But as the price of online rentals drops, I just don’t see how movies on disk can survive, at least in the rental market. (There’s some advantage to buying disks if you want to own a copy, as a disk can be loaned or sold.)

What struck me was that I watched a science-fiction movie in a way that shows the real world rapidly progressing beyond the world envisioned in a lot of older science fiction. Who needs to contemplate another earth when we’ve got this one?

Search for Missing Friends Brought Out Heroes

The following article by Linn and Ari Armstrong originally was published February 17 by Grand Junction Free Press.

The Widegren family, with nine children and eight grandchildren ranging in age from a few months to over 40 years, has long been a pillar of the Palisade community, with connections spanning much of the west and beyond. That’s one reason why, when Mark Widegren and his friend and coworker Brian Axe went missing near Price, Utah, dozens of people responded to the emergency, driving and flying in from around the country to meet in Price to help with the search. Family and friends of both men played key roles in the search.

When the young men’s vehicle finally was found on February 5, the news was tragic: their vehicle had crashed down a steep cliff a week previously on Saturday night, and the sheriff’s department deemed the crash “unsurvivable.” Mark and Brian were driving through the treacherous Cottonwood Canyon, off of Nine Mile Canyon, northeast of Price on their way to their base camp. They worked for an energy company there.

The one silver lining to the horrible tragedy was seeing dozens of the men’s family, friends, and coworkers heroically join the search. Todd Widegren, Mark’s oldest brother, told reporters, “These guys were friends and family of a huge, huge number of people. And everybody that is here is here for the love of those guys.”

Because Ari went to school with several of the Widegrens and has long known the family, he too traveled to Price to witness the search (and perhaps in some small way to help with it). In retrospect, the efforts of the searchers pay tribute to the memory of the lost friends. We won’t mention their names here because we don’t want to make anybody feel uncomfortable, but we wanted to describe their valiant efforts to the broader community.

Volunteer ground searchers first discovered the secluded vehicle and hiked to it, giving the family and friends at least the comfort of learning what happened. Obviously the hope had been to find the men alive and assist them. Finally we learned that had been impossible, but the fact that, at the time, we thought they might still be alive made it crucially important to find them as quickly as possible. As terrible as the news turned out to be, at least the news allowed the recovery effort to proceed, and it gave the family and searchers a bit of peace from the constant anxiety and stress of not knowing.

Two young men from Grand Junction first spotted the vehicle by scrambling down a steep, snowy decline and then peering down the face of the cliff. The vehicle had been difficult to see from the air because it was crumpled and it blended into the surrounding rocks. After those men called in the news, another group, consisting of two family friends from Denver and two family members, drove and hiked to the vehicle, again through heavy snow, to check for survivors and help guide the recovery effort.

For several days, other search teams had covered the area extensively by ground and by air. One group of friends and family searched throughout the night with spotlights.

At the Holiday Inn hotel in Price, which was very accommodating to the search parties, others organized the search, verified that everyone returned safely from searching, organized written reports from the searchers, reported to friends elsewhere and to the media, and worked with the local authorities.

Local law enforcement agents helped track down credit card receipts, cell phone data, and security camera footage that helped narrow down the search area. Carbon County Deputy Sheriff Wally Hendricks helped organize the search and bring updates to the family.

Of course the search took money and resources, and many people responded with donations of food or money. One local “cage” fighter even donated his fight purse to the recovery effort and raised additional funds from sponsors.

Plenty of others also helped out. The Abby and Jennifer Recovery Foundation sent representatives from Grand Junction to Price to help. Several Price locals also joined the search with their ATVs and other vehicles. The owner of a small air company paid for the hotel rooms of the searchers. Pizza Hut delivered an order of free pizzas to those involved. (No doubt we’ve inadvertently left some people out.)

When the emergency hit, many people from the Western Slope, Utah, and beyond answered the call. Their efforts are an inspiration and a credit to our communities.

We only wish the final outcome had been the one we had hoped for. Mark and Brian will be deeply missed.

Related:

Just One Thing: The Key to Regional, Focused Activism

Recently I delivered a talk at Liberty Toastmasters about activism. I argued that, though our nation faces profound problems, we can be effective as liberty activists by focusing on regional activism and an individualized mission.

Manley Defends Campus Concealed Carry

Jim Manley, lead attorney in the suit to overturn the concealed-cary ban at the University of Colorado, discussed the cast last night at CU, Boulder.

Manley said that not only CU but every “public” campus in the state now needs to ensure it does not ban concealed carry. He also pointed out that Colorado’s concealed carry law generally requires permit holders to be over 21 and go through fingerprinting and a background check.

Moreover, he said, Colorado State University has complied with state law for nearly a decade, and that example illustrates that campus concealed carry simply does not generate a problem.

Grand Junction Free Press Archives

See the archives of the Grand Junction Free Press articles by Linn and Ari Armstrong.

Paul Jacob Fights for Liberty

Last month Paul Jacob of Common Sense discussed ballot initiatives with Liberty On the Rocks. In the course of his talk he discussed why he went to prison over the draft, and he passionately pled with his fellow activists to continue to fight for liberty. I’ve edited two short videos featuring those remarks.

Paul Jacob on going to prison:

Paul Jacob on our “very critical point” in history.

Related:

Paul Jacob Advocates Ballot Initiatives

Paul Jacob Advocates Ballot Initiatives

Last month Paul Jacob of Common Sense spoke at Liberty On the Rocks in Denver. He argued that often the best way to advance the agenda of liberty is through ballot initiatives at the state and local level. He responded to my questions about financial constraints and the problem with anti-liberty groups using initiatives.

New Blog Domain with WordPress Setup

I’m changing my blog again.

I’ve used Google’s Blogger for my blogging since 2008. In 2010, Blogger stopped posting content to independently hosted domains, which is why I switched my blog to blog.ariarmstrong.com (hosted by Google).

But I haven’t been terribly happy with that. Because Blogger generates sloppy code, it doesn’t play well with Facebook (specifically, FB doesn’t properly pull in the image or lead text), and that is increasingly a problem. Also, I just don’t like the “blog-dot” URL.

I’ve used WordPress over at The Objective Standard, and I’ve really liked it. And I very much like hosting my own material on a server that I pay independently.

For anybody getting going with a blog, I now strongly recommend using WordPress installed on your server. In my view, this is far better than going with Blogger or with WordPress’s own hosting service. And, if anything, using installed WP is the easiest option if your hosting service already provides an install option.

For now, I’m just going to leave all my older stuff up where it now resides. I might slowly integrate it into the new WP blog. For now, my archives exist in four places:

I thought about again splitting the blog into two locations (AriArmstrong.com and FreeColorado.com) but ultimately I decided that it’s much easier to have everything in one place, where I can control everything from a single interface.

I started my web page in late 1998, before the term “blog” had even been coined (if Wiki is to be believed on the matter). Back then, I hand-coded everything under the guidance of HTML for Dummies. I’ve struggled to figure out what to do with my blog, but now I think I finally have it where I want it. And with WordPress, I’m confident I’m using the best modern software to handle the job.

Did somebody call me an old dog?

October 5, 2012 Update: I have started the process of migrating all my archival material to this web page. I am dating that material according to its original publication date. Thus, everything dated prior to this post was migrated on or after October 4, 2012.

Suit Seeks to Lobato-mize Colorado’s Constitution

The following article by Linn and Ari Armstrong originally was published March 2 by Grand Junction Free Press.

Do “we the people” have a say in how politicians spend our money, or not? That is the basic issue at stake in a legal case currently winding its way through the courts.

Lobato vs. State of Colorado seeks to overturn Constitutional restraints on government spending so that judges can compel legislators to spend tax dollars on government schools to the teachers unions’ satisfaction.

First some context: In 1992, the majority of Colorado voters passed the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) to restrain government spending and better protect people’s rights to keep and use the fruits of their labor. Last fall, an astounding 64 percent of voters rejected Prop. 103, a tax hike loosely tied to education funding.

On December 9 of last year, Denver District Judge Sheila Rappaport spit in the faces of Colorado voters by essentially throwing out the fall vote and reinterpreting the state Constitution—throwing out the parts she doesn’t like—to suit her own political agenda.

Colorado’s Constitution (Article IX, Section 2) states: “The general assembly shall . . . provide for the establishment and maintenance of a thorough and uniform system of free public schools throughout the state. . . . One or more public schools shall be maintained in each school district within the state, at least three months in each year. . . .”

Judge Rappaport fixated on the phrase “thorough and uniform” and ruled she gets to unilaterally decide what that means, the rest of the Constitution be damned. Of course she decided that the legislature must spend more tax dollars on education, regardless of what the people earning that money may think about it, and regardless of the fact that Colorado’s government schools already spent $8.7 billion in 2009-10 for over $10,000 per student (as Ben DeGrow reports for the Independence Institute).

Obviously the context of the phrase grants wide latitude to the legislature to decide what constitutes a “thorough and uniform” education. The language explicitly says three months of school each year would be perfectly fine; obviously the legislature provides far more than that.

But of course the Constitution contains not just that one section, but many others as well, including TABOR and other spending restraints. As is obvious to everyone except, apparently, Judge Rappaport, one must interpret each Constitutional provision in the light of the others.

For example, while the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to “regulate commerce . . . among the several states,” the First Amendment explicitly prohibits Congress from doing so in a way that abridges “the freedom of speech, or of the press.” Likewise, Colorado’s Constitutional language regarding education must be interpreted in light of the provisions concerning other legislative responsibilities and spending restraints.

Judge Rappaport’s biases showed through clearly in her viciously dishonest attack on John Andrews, the former state senator and now the director of the Centennial Institute. Andrews testified as to the meaning of the Constitutional language; Rappaport’s decision summarizes that Andrews believes “a ‘uniform’ education means that any child in Colorado, regardless of his or her family background or geographic location, receives the same learning opportunities and is within reach of the same educational outcomes as any other child in the state.” Fair enough, so far.

But then consider Rappaport’s snarky editorializing: “Some of the State’s witnesses hold extreme views on education. . . . Senator Andrews’ vision for the future is a separation of schools and state similar to the separation of church and state in our nation. . . . He reveres the educational system we had in this country in the 1700s because there were few government operated schools. He fails to mention that our schools did not educate whole segments of the population, including women and people of color, at that time.”

It is true that Andrews advocates the ultimate separation of school and state. So do we (and the comparison to the separation of church and state is apt). But that has no bearing on the meaning of the Constitutional phrase in question. Obviously Andrews recognizes that the Constitution imposes particular requirements that the legislature and the courts must meet. Obviously he wants every child to enjoy a superb education. For Rappaport to essentially call Andrews a sexist and a racist, despite his explicit comments to the contrary, is quite contemptible—and it illustrates the tenor of her politicized ruling.

Thankfully, on January 23, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced his office’s intent to appeal the ruling. He correctly said “the constitution, including TABOR, really is under attack in this case” (as DeGrow reports). He further said, “We are going to suggest… the question of what’s thorough and uniform has to be looked at in the context of subsequent constitutional amendments.”

Let us hope that the next judge to hear the case puts Colorado’s voters and Constitution ahead of the judge’s personal political agenda.

Linn Armstrong is a local political activist and firearms instructor with the Grand Valley Training Club. His son, Ari, edits FreeColorado.com from the Denver area.

See also Spending Limits Protect Against Factions, regarding Kerr vs. State of Colorado.