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The US Government may use bioterrorism laws to keep French wines out of the country unless France agrees to change its historic wine-making practices. Thanks to Daniel McAdams for the link.

The other day, I overheard a tourist on Capitol Hill, after being berated by a Capitol Hill police officer, complain that he “hadn’t been bossed around so much since he left East Berlin!”

8:15 pm on June 27, 2005

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a picture is worth a thousand words, click here , here and here.

8:03 pm on July 7, 2005

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Parents picking up their children in the Freehold Borough District in New Jersey will have to submit to an iris scan before being allowed onto school grounds. The money for the program comes from the Federal Government and, of course, is designed to improve safety, not to make sure children learn to accept the surveillance state, or make sure parents don’t forget who really controls their childrens’ upbringing. It also is not done to increase the profits of the firm making the technology.

We are informed that the federal government is not forcing any school district to participate, the program is totally voluntary….for the school bureaucrats, it is not so voluntary for the children and parents.

9:02 pm on January 24, 2006

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They same government that says “trust us we are only spying on the bad guys” is investigating whether a VA nurse committed “sedition” when she wrote a letter to the editor criticizing Bush. They may not be able to find Bin Laden, but they at least they can protect us from anti-Bush nurses.

8:40 pm on February 13, 2006

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The Feds have droped their investigation of Laura Berg, the VA nurse accused of “sedition” for writing an anti-Bush letter to the editor, but David Weigel of Reason worries that free speech is still under attack by the government and the bloodthirsty bushboots who lead today’s conservative movement. Particularly interesting is the item about how Michelle Malkin refused to remove the phone numbers and e-mails of US Students Against the War from her blog, even after her posting result in the students getting death threats from Malkin’s readers. Malkin wrote a book last year about the racist and sexist insults she regularly receives from the left, yet she appears not to be bothered when her fans threaten physical violence against opponents of the warfare state.

8:54 pm on April 26, 2006

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Orwell’s home country provides a glimpse of the future of the US and maybe the whole global village:a total surveillance society where all individuals are pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, and numbered.

8:09 pm on November 2, 2006

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Attorney General Alberto Gonzales frets that those who oppose the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program are defining freedom in a way that endangers our safety. So defining liberty to include “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized,” makes one a security risk.

7:10 pm on November 27, 2006

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Pittsburgh’s nicotine nazis are behaving like the real thing: tasering and arresting a man for smoking in public and “disrespecting” the police.

Meanwhile, the Global Warning (oops I mean Weather) Channel’s chief meteorologist is calling for the American Meteorological Association (AMS) to use its’ clout to silence meteorologists who doubt that humans are destroying the planet though global warming.

Finally, the Transportation Security Administration is cutting the “no fly list” in half and checking for “accuracy.” Hopefully, once TSA implements the new, improved “no fly list” Catherine “Cat” Stevens, wife of Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens, will no longer be forbidden to fly because TSA confused her with Yusuf Islam.

7:52 pm on January 18, 2007

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Many military prosecutors are refusing to pursue cases against “enemy combatants” because they have been subject to torture by those who love freedom. Thanks to Andrew Sullivan and the Wall Street Journal (!) for bringing this all to rare act of moral courage to our attention:

“When the Pentagon needed someone to prosecute a Guantanamo Bay prisoner linked to 9/11, it turned to Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch. A Marine Corps pilot and veteran prosecutor, Col. Couch brought a personal connection to the job: His old Marine buddy, Michael “Rocks” Horrocks, was co-pilot on United 175, the second plane to strike the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

The prisoner in question, Mohamedou Ould Slahi, had already been suspected of terrorist activity. After the attacks, he was fingered by a senior al Qaeda operative for helping assemble the so-called Hamburg cell, which included the hijacker who piloted United 175 into the South Tower. To Col. Couch, Mr. Slahi seemed a likely candidate for the death penalty.

“Of the cases I had seen, he was the one with the most blood on his hands,” Col. Couch says.

But, nine months later, in what he calls the toughest decision of his military career, Col. Couch refused to proceed with the Slahi prosecution. The reason: He concluded that Mr. Slahi’s incriminating statements – the core of the government’s case – had been taken through torture, rendering them inadmissible under U.S. and international law.

The Slahi case marks a rare instance of a military prosecutor refusing to bring charges because he thought evidence was tainted by torture. For Col. Couch, it also represented a wrenching personal challenge. Laid out starkly before him was a collision between the government’s objectives and his moral compass…

In the following weeks, Mr. Slahi said, he was placed in isolation, subjected to extreme temperatures, beaten and sexually humiliated. The detention-board transcript states that at this point, “the recording equipment began to malfunction.” It summarizes Mr. Slahi’s missing testimony as discussing “how he was tortured while here at GTMO by several individuals.”

Thanks also to Sullivan, who is wrong on many things but one of the most eloquent voices against the regime’s claim of power to “indefinitely detain” and torture anyone simply because the executive has labeled them an “enemy combatant,” for this, and this.

5:03 pm on March 31, 2007

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Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for calling attention to the plight of Professor Walter Murphy, a former Marine, critic of Roe versus Wade, and a supporter of the Alito nomination. In a chilling example of how the war on terror is also a war on dissent, Professor Murphy found himself on the no-fly list and was told it likely was because he give speeches critical of Bush.

Here is the story in Professor Murphy’s own words:

“When I tried to use the curb-side check in at the Sunport, I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list. I was instructed to go inside and talk to a clerk. At this point, I should note that I am not only the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence (emeritus) but also a retired Marine colonel. I fought in the Korean War as a young lieutenant, was wounded, and decorated for heroism. I remained a professional soldier for more than five years and then accepted a commission as a reserve office, serving for an additional 19 years.”“I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: “Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that.” I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. “That’ll do it,” the man said. ”

“After carefully examining my credentials, the clerk asked if he could take them to TSA officials. I agreed. He returned about ten minutes later and said I could have a boarding pass, but added: “I must warn you, they=re going to ransack your luggage.” On my return flight, I had no problem with obtaining a boarding pass, but my luggage was “lost.” Airlines do lose a lot of luggage and this “loss” could have been a mere coincidence. In light of previous events, however, I’m a tad skeptical.”

“I confess to having been furious that any American citizen would be singled out for governmental harassment because he or she criticized any elected official, Democrat or Republican. That harassment is, in and of itself, a flagrant violation not only of the First Amendment but also of our entire scheme of constitutional government. This effort to punish a critic states my lecture’s argument far more eloquently and forcefully than I ever could. Further, that an administration headed by two men who had “had other priorities” than to risk their own lives when their turn to fight for their country came up, should brand as a threat to the United States a person who did not run away but stood up and fought for his country and was wounded in battle, goes beyond the outrageous. Although less lethal, it is of the same evil ilk as punishing Ambassador Joseph Wilson for criticizing Bush’s false claims by “outing” his wife, Valerie Plaime, thereby putting at risk her life as well as the lives of many people with whom she had had contact as an agent of the CIA. …”

“I have a personal stake here, but so do all Americans who take their political system seriously. Thus I hope you and your colleagues will take some positive action to bring the Administration’s conduct to the attention of a far larger, and more influential, audience than I could hope to reach. “

7:54 pm on April 9, 2007

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Three new assaults on life, liberty and property, courtesy of Reason’s Hit-and-Run blog:

First, Arizona is joining Louisiana and Oklahoma in baning anti-war shirts.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts State legislature will soon pass the first in the nation state wide trans fat ban. The Massachusetts Restaurant Association is supporting the ban because statewide regulation is preferable to a “patchwork of local rules.” Hey guys, if state regulation is preferable to local regulation then why not push for a national trans fat ban?

The Massachusetts legislature also wants to protect people from their poor economic choices. So the legislature is going to make taxpayers bail out those who bought houses with adjustable rate mortgages, only to find themselves unable to make the payments when the mortgage rate was adjusted up.

6:54 pm on July 12, 2007

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Homeland Security is giving millions of dollars to local governments for surveillance cameras. (Hit Tip Drudge).

9:15 pm on August 12, 2007

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Now you can teach your children to be obedient subjects of the police state, or prepare them for a career as one of the state’s enforcers, with the Playmobil Police CheckPoint.

8:39 pm on April 7, 2008

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Thanks to Phillip Carter for bringing this little tidbit from John Yoo’s infamous “torture memo” to our attention:

“Indeed, drawing in part on the reasoning of Verdugo-Urquidez, as well as the Supreme Court’s treatment of the destruction of property for military necessity, our Office recently concluded that the Fourth Amendment had no application to domestic military operations. See Memorandum for Alberto R. Gonzales, Counsel to the President, and William J. Haynes II, General Counsel, Department of Defense, from John C. Yoo, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and Robert J. Delahunty, Special Counsel, Re: Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States at 25 (Oct. 23, 2001).”

Since we have been repeatedly told that America is on a permanent war footing, and since Congress has made it easy for the President to use the military for domestic purposes it seems clear that any President can suspend the Fourth Amendment at almost any time. I wonder what other sections of the bill of rights are non-applicable during “domestic military operations?” The First… the Second….the Fifth?

8:01 pm on April 9, 2008

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We can sleep soundly knowing the US Park Police are protecting the Jefferson Memorial from marauding gangs of dancing libertarians.

8:00 pm on April 14, 2008

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Latest outrage in airline security: Elena Reichman, a 74-year old Holocaust survivor has been charged with battery for allegedly shoving a Transportation Security worker.

Latest outrage from the federal prosecutors: “Adult” filmmaker and libertarian activist John Stagliano is the latest target of the “war on obscenity.” I bloged about the absurdity of the federal government putting a priority on protecting us from dirty pictures here.

8:16 pm on April 21, 2008

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Thanks to the heroic John Berlau for revealing that hidden in the Senate’s version of the housing bailout is a provision creating a nationwide registry of the fingerprints of every American working in the mortgage industry.

When they came for the mortgage brokers….

6:33 pm on May 29, 2008