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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Knock-Knock-Knockin' on the Church's Door

[This column by Jerry Falwell is from Falwell.com.]

I learned this week that a small Baptist church in Oklahoma is at risk of losing its place of worship because it sits on a site where city leaders want to build a shopping plaza.

This eminent domain business is getting serious.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelo ruling last year, we are facing a brand new ballgame in terms of private property and what that term really means.

For the Rev. Roosevelt Gildon, pastor of the Centennial Baptist Church in Sand Springs, Okla., eminent domain is threatening to tear his church apart.

I’ve never met Rev. Gildon — or “Rosey,” as his friends call him — but as a pastor of nearly 50 years, I can imagine the feeling of helplessness this man must be feeling. He’s been leading the flock for seven years at the church. And now the congregation is looking to their shepherd for answers, with government officials threatening to take the church property.

Government officials in Sand Springs have told Rev. Gildon they will be seizing the church property in order to build a “super center.”

This is an alarming development, one that should send shivers down the spine of any pastor reading this column.

In the Kelo case, a group of Connecticut homeowners chose not to accept a corporation’s offers so that a business area could be developed. So the city council authorized the corporation to acquire properties within the designated area. When homeowners refused the offers, the development corporation voted to use eminent domain to acquire the properties, even though the owners were averse to selling.

Following a trial, the case was appealed to the state supreme court, which determined that the use of eminent domain for economic development doesn’t violate public use clauses of the state and federal constitutions. Appeals failed to protect the rights of the property owners.

We are now seeing that “economic development” is more powerful than personal property rights — or church rights, in the case of Centennial Baptist Church.

In a National Review Online (nationalreview.com) article titled “Unholy Land Grab,” Heather Wilhelm reported that this church property takeover is unnecessary.

“The way things are now, Centennial Baptist Church could easily live side-by-side with new stores, houses, or businesses,” Ms. Wilhelm wrote. “Yet Centennial remains in the crosshairs — even though two nearby national chains, a taxpaying McDonald’s and a taxpaying O’Reilly’s muffler shop, have been left alone.”

She also reported that Centennial is not run down; in fact, she reports that the building is like new and fully functional. So this isn’t a case of city officials getting rid of a dilapidated old church.

Rev. Gildon has now coalesced with Americans for Limited Government and Oklahomans in Action to fight the takeover bid of his church.

I’m no lawyer, but maybe the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act or 2000 (RLUIPA) can provide protections for Rev. Gildon’s church. RLUIPA is a federal statute that provides stronger protection for religious freedom in terms of land use. The statute has been beneficial in halting discriminatory zoning laws that target churches across the nation.

In the meantime, my prayers are with Rev. Gildon and his congregation. They should be afforded the right to remain at their present location so that they can serve God and fully minister to their community. Let the money-hungry corporate big boys either build around the church or move on to another locale.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Kinky Friedman for Texas

[This is a response to an article in The Clarion-Ledger of January 3, 2006.]

The Associated Press focuses on Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's independent candidacy for governor. (Strayhorn is the mother of Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary.) It also mentions Republican incumbent Rick Perry and the two leading candidates in the March 7 Democratic primary.

But the AP totally overlooks the state's next governor, Kinky Friedman, who is also running as an independent. ("Why the hell not?")

Kinky, of course, is known as the author of numerous hilarious novels. Many will also recall his band, the Texas Jewboys, and their stirring renditions of such smash hit songs as "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore" and "Proud to be an A**hole from El Paso." This makes him at least as qualified as the late Gov. Jimmie Davis of Louisiana.

Singer Willie Nelson has already hosted a fund-raiser for Kinky, and a number of other such events are upcoming. Country Music TV will run a "Go Kinky" series on Friedman's attempt to get on the ballot; this series will illustrate just how hard it is to run for office as an independent nowadays.

As the AP notes: "To be listed as an independent on the November ballot, a candidate must gather 45,540 signatures in the spring from registered voters who did not vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary or any primary runoff in April." To add insult to injury, no voter may sign the petition of more than one candidate for the same office.

What is so amazing about two potential independent candidates for governor? Since Texas adopted government-printed ballots in 1903, no independent has ever qualified as a candidate for any statewide constitutional office.

Kinky's Web site is www.kinkyfriedman.com.

As Kinky says, "May the god of your choice bless you!"

[The November 3, 2005 post on this blog is also about Kinky's candidacy.]

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Libertarian Party, RIP

[This article is from http://www.neolibertarian.net.]

The Marginal Futility of the Libertarian Party

Jon Henke

Libertarian: "One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state" [The American Heritage Dictionary - 4th Edition]

There is a great deal of rancor within libertarian circles over the word "libertarian". Over time, increasingly exclusive and doctrinaire libertarian groups have replaced the broad, inclusive "maximizing rights/minimizing government" definition of libertarianism with ever-narrower litmus tests of purity. There is a "with us, or against us" mindset among those groups, brooking no compromise. Nowhere is this more evident than the Libertarian Party.

Consider the 2004 Libertarian National Convention, where opposition was mounted against prominent libertarian radio host Neal Boortz's appearance, because "[it] is not in the best interests of the Libertarian Party to facilitate public misidentification of its positions on foreign policy with Mr. Boortz's divergent views." "Dissent isn't good for The Party" is not a position one usually associates with libertarians.

Disillusioned major party members formed the Libertarian Party (LP) in 1971, hoping to create a successful alternative. They enjoyed some initial success, and in 1980 reached their zenith with almost 1 million votes, but thereafter stalled. They never again received more than 485,000 votes. By 2004, with two decidedly non-libertarian candidates who engendered widespread dissatisfaction, the party received less than 400,000 votes nationally. It was a pathetically-and predictably-ineffectual performance that demonstrated just how little electoral influence the Libertarian Party enjoys.

With rigid doctrinaires in charge, the Libertarian Party suffers from an unfortunate malady: a self-defeating political philosophy. Their disavowal of power and unwillingness to compromise makes them uniquely unqualified to defend their goals against political opposition. There is little chance that such a party can make a meaningful impact. With no desire in the LP to commit to the political compromises necessary to build coalitions, the major parties can easily out-flank and out-bid them for votes.

Of course, the Libertarian Party claims that over 590 Libertarians hold public office, more than all other third parties combined. But this claim deserves a closer look. Of the 590-plus Libertarians holding public office, not one is elected at either the State or National level. While each of these positions is important, they are hardly remarkable accomplishments for a national party. And in many cases, these offices were uncontested, so that party affiliation was inconsequential.

The Party's declining membership also argues against its success. After a 1999 high of over 33,000 paid members, the Libertarian Party shrank to about 20,000 members in 2004. Financial stability has also declined with membership. Perennial LP candidate Harry Browne responds by noting that, while Libertarians don't actually win races for political office, " those races often provide the only opportunities for libertarians [to do mass public outreach] ". Declining party numbers speak to the effectiveness of that function.

The center of libertarian political activism, therefore, is no longer the Libertarian Party. The party is now one of Small-Tent Libertarians; a party of principle above electability. It's hard to see why a party that is fundamentally opposed to compromise-the very essence of politics-would even want to participate in electoral politics. One doesn't succeed in politics with policies of exclusion. So long as these are the LP's values, it may as well dissolve, and let its former members go home to spend the rest of their lives slapping each other on the back for a failure well done.

But, if the LP is a dead end, it does not follow that libertarianism is also dead. In fact, there's a historical template for a successful libertarian movement. Ironically, it is the Socialist Party, which Milton Friedman called " the most influential political party in the United States in the first decades of the twentieth century ", because, " almost every economic plank in its 1928 presidential platform has [by 1980] been enacted into law ".

But that did not happen as a result of the Socialist Party's actions. Between the factions led by Daniel De Leon and Eugene Debs, the Socialist Party also had its own share of doctrinaire exclusivity and infighting. So, prominent members of the Socialist Party abandoned 3rd party politics and " formed the Social Democratic Federation to promote socialism within the ranks of the liberal/labor wing of the Democratic Party ". This, along with the activities of the American Labor Party (which was " intended as a pressure group, a point of leverage that would enable progressives to maximize their influence within the Democratic Party "), gave the Socialist Party increased political influence among Democrats. Obviously, they have been rather effective.

Randy Barnett wrote, " the creation of the Libertarian Party has been very detrimental to the political influence of libertarians ", because libertarians " have been drained from both political parties, rendering both parties less libertarian at the margin ". To reverse this trend, libertarians have little choice but to drop the pretense of a 3rd Party and rejoin major Party politics, even if they have substantive disagreement with that Party. As Pejman Yousefzadeh writes of libertarians within the Republican Party, what " matters in the end is whether libertarians and conservatives have more substantive issues uniting them than they have issues dividing them. There are a whole host of reasons to believe that they do ."

Ultimately, like the Socialist Party of the early 20th century, or the "Moral Majority" of the 1980s-which turned 8 million new voters into massive influence within the GOP-libertarian-friendly coalitions must be built within the major parties. Frank Meyer called this union " fusionism ", and there are groups that exist to pursue this Fusionist end. As Dean Esmay has said, " libertarians really ought to be abandoning the pointless Libertarian Party and, at a local level, building up either the Democratic Freedom Caucus (if living in an area where the Democrats are in the majority) or the Republican Liberty Caucus [http://RLC.org](if living in an area where Republicans are in the majority) ."

The Libertarian Party is dead; it is a conceit libertarians can no longer afford. But those disaffected Neolibertarians who are still willing to take the intellectual and political field can save libertarianism itself.

For a number of years now, there has been a great deal of intelligent, passionate, and intellectually honest work being done by these Neolibertarians in the blogosphere. Many of these bloggers may even be unaware that they are Neolibertarians.and yet they are now the front line of the libertarian movement. The center of political libertarian activism is no longer the Libertarian Party, it is the Neolibertarian blogosphere. It is time for us to join the political game.

[The Socialist Party's 1928 economic planks are listed in the appendix of Milton and Rose Friedman's book, Free to Choose.]

Friday, January 20, 2006

Baseball Gaffes

[These are from a book which I received as a Christmas gift.]

"Winfield goes back to the wall. He hits his head on the wall, and it rolls off! It's rolling all the way back to second base! This is a terrible thing for the Padres!"
--San Diego Padres play by play announcer Jerry Coleman

"We'll do all right if we can capitalize on our mistakes."
--New York Yankees outfielder Mickey Rivers

"Mike Andrews' limitations are limitless."
--Philadelphia Phillies manager Danny Ozark

"I found a delivery in my flaw."
--Kansas City Royals reliever Dan Quisenberry

"The Mets just had their first .500 or better April since July of 1992."
--New York Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner

"Don't know. They were wearing a bag over their head."
--Yogi Berra, when asked if a "streaker" was male or female

"Scott Bullett, as he takes left field, is getting congratulations from everybody. He and his daughter are parents now of a new baby."
--Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray

"I want to thank all my players for giving me the honor of being what I was."
--Casey Stengel, manager, New York Yankees and New York Mets

"Rich Folkers is throwing up in the bullpen."
--San Diego Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman

"The Mets have gotten their leadoff batter on base only once this inning."
--New York Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner

"I watch a lot of baseball on radio."
--Former U. S. president Gerald R. Ford

"I don't know. I'm not in shape yet."
--Yogi Berra, when asked about his cap size

"All the lies about him are true."
--Joe Dugan, on his former teammate Babe Ruth

"Now there's three things you can do in a baseball game: you can win or you can lose or it can rain."
--Casey Stengel

"My goals are to hit .300, score 100 runs, and stay injury prone."
--New York Yankee outfielder Mickey Rivers

[Jack Kreismer, publisher, The Bathroom Baseball Book (Saddle River, NJ: Red-Letter Press, Inc., 2003), pp. 41-42.]

Thursday, January 19, 2006

John Adams on Morality and Religion

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending
with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice,
ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of
our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution
was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly
inadequate to the government of any other."

-- John Adams (Address to the Military, 11 October 1798)

Reference: America's God and Country (10-11)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Grover Norquist's View of the 2008 Presidential Race

[This is reprinted from newsmax.com.]

Hillary Clinton is a shoo-in to grab the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, but the Republican field is wide open, according to Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

Writing in The American Spectator, Norquist says that Clinton "will be followed around the nation by six or seven emasculated senators" who will "pretend to run for president while actually auditioning for vice president."

He mentions Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Evan Bayh, former Sen. John Edwards and Virginia Gov. Mark Warner among those who might seemingly challenge Clinton for the nomination, but in the end they will "suck up to Hillary," Norquist predicts.

Here is Norquist's take on the race for the GOP nomination:

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney "has the advantage of serving as governor of a state whose television footprint covers the population center of the first primary state, New Hampshire." But his Mormon faith could work against him.

Virginia Sen. George Allen "stands most comfortably in the center of the Reagan coalition" and is "on good terms with taxpayers, pro-family activists and gun owners."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist upset social conservatives with his support for experimentation on embryonic stem cells.

Arizona Sen. John McCain has high name recognition and a "fawning establishment press," but he voted against each of the significant Bush tax cuts, is anti-gun and favors the Kyoto climate change treaty.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has made himself an expert on healthcare and has "kept his name and ideas in the limelight enough to be ready if lightning struck and a presidential bid became possible for him."

Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum "looks very good on paper - Catholic, Big State, GOP Senate leadership - if he can get past the very serious challenge of getting re-elected in 2006."

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was the "welfare-reforming, tax-cutting, crime-fighting mayor who turned around a failing city." But Norquist wonders how his social liberalism on gay marriage and abortion might impact him in the GOP primaries.

New York Gov. George Pataki "has been a tax cutter and governed well in a large state that should be able to fund a serious presidential campaign."

Norquist also mentions Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel.

But he saves his final remarks for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush:

"At present Bush is saying 'no' to the idea of a 2008 presidential bid. Some believe he should pass that year to avoid the appearance of a Bush Dynasty.

"But logic runs the other way. Only in 2008 will it be impossible for even the New York Times to argue with a straight face that we cannot elect one president's brother because we must elect another president's wife."

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Man's (and Woman's) Best Friend


The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.

Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.
-Ann Landers

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.
-Will Rogers

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.
-Ben Williams

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.
-Josh Billings

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.
-Andy Rooney

We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made.
-M. Acklam

Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people,
who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate.
-Sigmund Freud

I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.
-Rita Rudner

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.
-Robert Benchley

Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.
-Franklin P. Jones

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.
-James Thurber

If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise.

My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That's almost $21.00 in dog money.
-Joe Weinstein

Ever consider what our dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul -- chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!
-Anne Tyler

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
-Robert A. Heinlein

Speak softly and own a big, mean Doberman.
-Dave Miliman

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
-Mark Twain

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'
- Dave Barry

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
-Roger Caras

If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving Fido only two of them.
-Phil Pastoret

My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog already thinks I am.