Nanny State: March 2007

28 March 2007

The War on Drugs Is Really a War on Minorities

By Arianna Huffington, Los Angeles Times. Posted March 27, 2007.

Democratic presidential candidates crave the Latino and black vote, but ignore the Drug War's unfair toll on people of color.

There is a subject being forgotten in the 2008 Democratic race for the White House.

While all the major candidates are vying for the black and Latino vote, they are completely ignoring one of the most pressing issues affecting those constituencies: the failed "war on drugs" -- a war that has morphed into a war on people of color.

Consider this: According to a 2006 report by the American Civil Liberties Union, African Americans make up an estimated 15% of drug users, but they account for 37% of those arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted and 74% of all drug offenders sentenced to prison. Or consider this: The U.S. has 260,000 people in state prisons on nonviolent drug charges; 183,200 (more than 70%) of them are black or Latino.

Such facts have been bandied about for years. But our politicians have consistently failed to take action on what has become yet another third rail of American politics, a subject to be avoided at all costs by elected officials who fear being incinerated on contact for being soft on crime.


DEA Now Accepting Tips On-Line

Public Encouraged to Notify Authorities of Illegal Drug Trafficking via

MAR 26 -- (WASHINGTON D.C.) The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has a new tool to catch drug traffickers around the world. Starting today on this web site,, the public can inform federal drug agents about illegal drug trafficking activity in their communities by submitting a tip on-line. The information can be submitted anonymously; however anyone who submits a tip must select a local division in order to route the information to the best possible location.


26 March 2007

Big Brother now more like a nanny

Laws are targeting everything from grease to cell phones

Monday, March 26, 2007


of The Associated Press
You're not eating that! Put the phone down! Pull those earbuds out! And put down that bat; you'll hurt someone!

Lawmakers around the country are passing or proposing laws to regulate the grease your doughnuts are fried in, the calls you make from the road, what you listen to when you cross the street, even the bat your kid hits a baseball with.

The ideas are offered with the best intentions - usually to minimize a newly recognized danger or to encourage healthy behavior. Lawmakers worry, for example, that text-messaging while driving can be deadly and that foods fried in trans fats promote heart disease.

Critics counter that regulating french fries and Blackberries infringes on personal liberties. "Nanny government" some critics call it, and they point to a playpen full of behavior-related bills before city councils and state legislatures.


25 March 2007

A Dream Deferred: Legal Barriers to African Hairbraiding Nationwide

by Valerie Bayham


The District of Columbia government once threatened hairbraider Pamela Ferrell and her husband Talib-Din Uqdah with fines and jail time for practicing their craft without an unnecessary government license. But this year, the entrepreneurial couple celebrate their twenty-fifth year in business and the “little” shop the government once tried to shut down is thriving, providing opportunity not only for Ferrell and Uqdah, but for the dozens of women they’ve trained over the years who have now gone on to start their own businesses.

Now, if only the rest of the nation would learn from this and similar success stories and remove government barriers to honest enterprise now imposed on hairbraiders. D.C. once ordered hairbraiders to take 1,500 hours of irrelevant training to get into business. But now hairbraiders are braiding, customers are satisfied and the D.C. city government collects taxes from businesses that would otherwise have been forced into the underground economy.

Despite this and similar success stories in Arizona, California, Mississippi, Minnesota and Washington, other states continue to impose arbitrary and stiff licensing burdens on would-be hairbraiders—making no one happy except those protected by these government-imposed cartels.

Determined to help other entrepreneurial braiders break these chains, Uqdah founded the American Hair Braiders and Natural Haircare Association (AHNHA). As president, he has worked with braiders across the country to challenge cosmetology regulations that arbitrarily restrict the right to braid for a living with needless coursework and examinations. He views his struggle for economic liberty—the right to earn an honest living—as fundamental to the success of America and for the African-American community. Today, he is more passionate than ever that braiders do not belong in the cosmetology regime. And his message—of passion, skill, opportunity and hard work as the only entrance requirements to the braiding profession—is winning the war one small battle at a time.


24 March 2007

Barr calls for strengthening Libertarian Party

By Robert Stacy McCain

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Libertarian Party leaders gave a standing ovation to former Rep. Bob Barr after the ex-Republican called for "a multidecade effort" to build a movement to make the party nationally competitive.

"The future of America is the future of the Libertarian Party," Mr. Barr told a weekend conference of state party chairmen. "And the future is bright."

The former congressman from Georgia, who recently became the Libertarian Party's regional representative in the Southeast, told a Saturday luncheon that many "real conservatives" have become disillusioned with Republicans.

"They are eager for a philosophical home," Mr. Barr said. "There are enough of them out there that a significant number can be weaned away" from the Republican Party.


The Libertarian Vote

by David Boaz and David Kirby

David Boaz is executive vice president of the Cato Institute. He is the author of Libertarianism: A Primer and editor of The Libertarian Reader, Toward Liberty, and Left, Right & Babyboom: America's New Politics. David Kirby is executive director of America's Future Foundation and a graduate of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

The main theme of political commentary in this decade is polarization. Since the battles over the impeachment of President Clinton and the Florida vote in 2000, pundits have been telling us that we're a country split down the middle, red vs. blue, liberal vs. conservative. Political analysts talk about base motivation and the shrinking of the swing vote. But the evidence says they are wrong.

Not all Americans can be classified as liberal or conservative. In particular, polls find that some 10 to 20 percent of voting-age Americans are libertarian, tending to agree with conservatives on economic issues and with liberals on personal freedom. The Gallup Governance Survey consistently finds about 20 percent of respondents giving libertarian answers to a two-question screen.


Government regulation goes step too far in Nevada

by George Will

PHOENIX - In the West, where the deer and the antelope used to play, the spirit of ''leave us alone'' government used to prevail. But governments of Western states are becoming more like those elsewhere, alas.

Consider the minor - but symptomatic - matter of the government-abetted aggression by ''interior designers'' against mere ''decorators,'' or against interior designers whom other interior designers wish to demote to the status of decorators. Some designers think decorators should be a lesser breed without the law on its side.

Those categories have blurry borders. Essentially, interior designers design an entire space, sometimes including structural aspects; decorators have less comprehensive and more mundane duties - matching colors, selecting furniture, etc.

In New Mexico, anyone can work as an interior designer. But it is a crime, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in prison, to list yourself on the Internet or in the Yellow Pages as, or to otherwise call yourself, an ''interior designer'' without being certified as such. Those who favor this censoring of truthful commercial speech are a private group that controls, using an exam administered by a private national organization, access to that title.

This is done in the name of ''professionalization,'' but it really amounts to cartelization. Persons in the business limit access by others - competitors - to full participation in the business.


23 March 2007

The Nanny State

Politicians are especially busy these days passing laws which ban fatty donuts, talking on your phone while driving and other activities which the government has no business dabbling in.

You’re not eating that! Put the phone down! Pull those earbuds out! And put down that bat; you’ll hurt someone!

Lawmakers around the country are passing or proposing laws to regulate the grease your doughnuts are fried in, the calls you make from the road, what you listen to when you cross the street, even the bat your kid hits a baseball with.

The ideas are offered with the best intentions — usually to minimize a newly recognized danger or to encourage healthy behavior. Lawmakers worry, for example, that text-messaging while driving can be deadly, and that foods fried in trans fats promote heart disease.

Critics counter that regulating french fries and Blackberries infringes on personal liberties. “Nanny government” some critics call it, and they point to a playpen full of behavior-related bills before city councils and state legislatures.


21 March 2007

Cock-fights and culture clashes

By Christopher Caldwell
Mar 16 2007

When New Mexico's governor Bill Richardson, a plausible candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, decided to ban cock-fighting this week, the press treated his decision as a "no-brainer". Although cock-fighting has deep roots in the historically Hispanic state, it is already illegal in a third of New Mexico's counties, not to mention all other US states except Louisiana. US federal law forbids transporting fighting birds across state lines. Two-thirds of New Mexicans favour a ban.

Yet Mr Richardson – a politician of refreshing forthrightness on such controversial issues as legalising marijuana for medical use (which he favours) – anguished over cock-fighting until recently. He has been lampooned, by comedians and columnists alike, for opining there are "strong arguments on both sides".


20 March 2007

Who's Your Nanny?

As meddling scolds, Democrats and Republicans are equal offenders.

Jacob Sullum | February 28, 2007
Reason Magazine

Several California newspapers recently carried a story about "nanny government" measures in the state legislature that "irk Republicans," including bills that would forbid smoking on state beaches, ban trans fats in restaurant food, and require calorie counts on menu boards. "If somebody wants to go ahead and choose to do something that may not always be in their best interest," said one of those irked Republicans, state Sen. George Runner, "hey, this is America, you get to choose those things."


18 March 2007

New York may ban iPods while crossing street

NEW YORK, Feb 7 (Reuters) - New Yorkers who blithely cross the street listening to an iPod or talking on a cell phone could soon face a $100 fine.

New York State Sen. Carl Kruger says three pedestrians in his Brooklyn district have been killed since September upon stepping into traffic while distracted by an electronic device. In one case bystanders screamed "watch out" to no avail.

Kruger says he will introduce legislation on Wednesday to ban the use of gadgets such as Blackberry devices and video games while crossing the street.

"Government has an obligation to protect its citizenry," Kruger said in a telephone interview from Albany, the state capital. "This electronic gadgetry is reaching the point where it's becoming not only endemic but it's creating an atmosphere where we have a major public safety crisis at hand."


Nevada Politicians Preparing New Attempt at Online Gambling Study

Published: Saturday, March 17, 2007

Possible alliance with Barney Frank initiative mooted

The logical idea of carrying out a thorough investigation to determine whether online gambling can be effectively regulated in the United States has again achieved prominence in American media, with two respected Nevada politicians leading the charge.

Previous attempts have been made to get such an enquiry, which would have the support of the American Gaming Association, off the ground and could provide ammunition for efforts to seek the repeal of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act

The two Nevada lawmakers, Reps. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., and Jon Porter, R-Nev., will co-sponsor the legislation, which is expected to be unveiled within weeks. Work has already started on legislation that would require the National Academy of Sciences to conduct an 18-month study of online wagering.

The Nevadans also hope to gain a powerful ally in Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass, reports the Las Vegas Gaming Wire. Frank, chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee and a longtime critic of gambling restrictions, has called last year's ban on Internet gambling financial transactions "preposterous" and one of the "stupidest" bills ever passed.


Neteller's Open and Honest Conspiracy

Anti-gambling crusaders go after online payment processors.

Jacob Sullum
Reason Magazine

Although Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre are charged with money laundering, there was nothing sneaky about their "conspiracy." In 1999 the two Canadians co-founded Neteller, an online payment processing company, now based in the Isle of Man, that openly specialized in serving online gamblers.

The FBI's investigation of Lawrence and Lefebvre, who were arrested last month and face a preliminary hearing in New York next week, consisted mainly of reading their public statements and using Neteller to bet on a couple of football games—a vice that in this country has to rank up there with eating a second slice of Mom's apple pie while listening to The Star-Spangled Banner. Yes, the feds really blew the lid off this publicly traded company that never made a secret of who its customers were or what it did for them.

The impressive thing about the case, part of the Justice Department's legally shaky crusade against online gambling, is not the evidence but the government's sinister spin on it. The feds pretend they're pursuing criminals while prosecuting honest businessmen for providing services Americans want.


Online Poker finds new Ally in former Senator Alfonse D'Amato

Written by Thomas Jensen
Saturday, 17 March 2007

Online Poker finds new Ally in former Senator Alfonse D'AmatoThe Poker Players Alliance (PPA) has enlisted a key ally in the "War on Online Gambling", former U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato. Senator D'Amato is joining the PPA as Chairman of the Board and will be leading the efforts of the PPA in Washington D.C. The Poker Players Alliance (PPA), a grassroots organization of more than 160,000 poker enthusiasts.

Alfonse D'Amato is a long time online poker player and he has a distinguished 18 year record serving in the United States Senate. Now he is taking his enthusiasm, tenacity and political savvy directly to Congress to produce results for the Poker Players Alliance. This is welcome news to the entire online gambling industry and looks forward to seeing the type of impact that Alfonse D'Amato will have fighting on behalf of our freedoms.


17 March 2007

Nanny state's bright idea: ban the light bulb

Ross Gittins
The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

IT'S surprising how little criticism there's been of Malcolm Turnbull's plan to phase out incandescent light bulbs. It's no surprise there's been no complaint from the punters, of course, but what about the economic rationalists and the libertarians?

Talk about high-handed intervention in a free market by the nanny state. Where are the warriors of the Centre for Independent Studies and the Institute of Public Affairs when we need them to defend our liberties?

Why the direct resort to command-and-control? If switching to compact fluorescent lights is such a good idea, why not start with less coercive measures? A voluntary industry code of practice, for instance. Whatever happened to freedom of choice?


Nationalising of childhood

Evening Standard (London)

The nationalising of childhood. Has the state gone ga-ga?

Your first reaction is to check the date. Surely, you think, it must be a spoof. Surely they cannot be serious.

But no, it's not April Fool's Day, and it's not a spoof. Incredible as it may seem, the Government is proposing — with an entirely straight face — to give babies marks for crying, gurgling or babbling, under a new curriculum for infants aged from birth to five years old, which all nurseries will have to follow.

Playgroups and childminders will have to show that they are helping babies make progress in no fewer than 69 areas of education and development, or else risk losing their funding.

No sooner will an infant exit from its mother's womb, it seems, than the State will start expecting it to hit performance targets. As one might expect from such a barmy idea, these targets are suitably surreal.


Look, officer – no hands

Austin American-Statesman

Saturday, March 17, 2007

We've all seen it. Women applying eye shadow and lipstick while driving; men reading, eating a sandwich or drinking a soda while behind the wheel. But modern technology has brought new versions of an old problem — Driving While Distracted — to America's highways.

Some states are debating laws to make certain forms of DWD illegal. Washington's state legislature is considering a bill making it a crime to drive while "reading, writing or sending electronic messages," according to The Wall Street Journal. Oregon has a bill pending that would fine drivers up to $720 for text messaging or holding a phone to the ear. In Arizona, the Journal continued, drivers sending text messages by cell phone or BlackBerry would be ticketed if caught.

Texas is not anyone's idea of a nanny state, but it hasn't been left out of the trend altogether. Lawmakers have filed bills that would make it illegal to use a cell phone or other wireless communication device without a hands-free attachment. Neither the Senate bill filed by state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, nor the House bill filed by state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, has gone anywhere yet, however.

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16 March 2007

A Victory for Self-Defense

by Robert A. Levy

Robert A. Levy is senior fellow in constitutional studies and served as co-counsel to the plaintiffs in Parker v. District of Columbia.

Unless and until the Supreme Court says otherwise, it looks as though the District of Columbia's 31-year-old gun ban is history. Good riddance.

In a landmark opinion Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed a lower federal court on all counts and concluded that "the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms."

The case, Parker v. District of Columbia, was brought by six D.C. residents who want to possess functional firearms within their homes for self-defense. Their lawsuit was not about machine guns and assault weapons. They didn't ask for the right to carry guns outside their houses. Parker was about ordinary handguns, in the owner's private residence.

Senior Judge Laurence H. Silberman wrote the majority opinion, joined by Judge Thomas B. Griffith, a recent Bush appointee. Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson dissented. The court majority stated unequivocally that activities protected by the Second Amendment "are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent upon his or her continued or intermittent enrollment in the militia."

Indeed, said the court, "the right to arms existed prior to the formation of the new government" in 1789.


Gun control ruling and the Bill of Rights

Published Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Constitutional purists and social engineering activists may be headed for the ultimate venue in the battle over gun control and the Second Amendment.

That venue is the Supreme Court of the United States.

Count us among the purists. We believe the Bill of Rights means what it says.

The issue arises because the District of Columbia's anti-gun city officials just lost an important decision in the U.S. District Court of Appeals.

The city council outlawed handguns in 1976. Further, the district argued in federal court that it had the power to outlaw all guns if it wanted.

It got a federal district trial court judge to agree.

But now a three-judge appeals panel has ruled 2-1 that the city has no such right, and the trial judge was wrong.

The city plans to appeal.


Hoplophobia – Symptoms and Treatment

The Extremist

“An armed society is a polite society.” — Robert Heinlein

Hoplophobia - n. - an irrational and morbid fear of guns, a term coined by Jeff Cooper, author of The Art of the Rifle, from the word “hoplite,” a heavily armed foot soldier of ancient Greece.

Symptoms of hoplophobia may include discomfort, confusion, palpitations, sweating, ranting, and the swooning vapors at the mere sight or thought of guns. Hoplophobes (HOP-li-fobes) are common, particularly among the more authoritarian members of the political class, who know that an unarmed populace is an obedient populace. Irrational fear drives them to promote the bizarre notion that helplessness is safety. Other hoplophobes accept the notion without question. Their participation in the gun policy debate is treacherous for both our rights and our safety.

Hoplophobes form the backbone of the Victim Disarmament Lobby, which this week is indulging in flashbacks of lame humor and fear mongering over the new Florida law that protects people who harm their attackers while defending themselves. The bill forbids injured thugs or their grieving relatives from suing the resisting victim. The choir of the gun shy is singing all the old jokes and shocking one-liners about “yahoos running around with guns,” “Dodge City” and “the OK Corral” and inserting them into fact free op-ed pieces. The jokes were fresher before the passage of the Concealed Carry laws in 1987, a little stale for the repeal of the “Assault Weapons” ban, and now as flat as last night’s beer.

Crime rates have fallen in every state that allows citizens to carry concealed weapons. Crime has fallen significantly more in concealed carry states than in states that forbid it. People who legally carry guns are scrupulously law-abiding. Crime rates among them would make a Boy Scout blush. They are many times less likely to commit any kind of crime than other people.


Anti-smoking bill oversteps state's bounds


Next time state Rep. Mike Boland goes to the supermarket, we wish he would stick to buying groceries and chatting with the checkout clerk.

Boland, an East Moline Democrat, got an idea for a new law while walking across the parking lot at the grocery store. We don't happen to think it would be a good law. Rather, if enacted, it would become one more example of the Legislature overstepping its bounds.

The bill to which we refer came about this way.

While trudging across the parking lot on a winter's day, Boland's mind was distracted from the frigid temps by the occupants of a nearby car.

As he described it, "I saw an adult smoking in a car. It was a cold day and the windows were rolled up. When I looked back a second time, I saw these two little heads in that cloud of smoke. I thought, 'That's really terrible, these kids are ingesting all that smoke.'"

Other shoppers probably would have shaken their heads and walked on. Not Boland. When you're a lawmaker and you see something you don't like, it's only natural to think about making a law to stop it.

That's exactly what Boland is trying to do.


San Francisco Is Nanny State U.S.A.

Cinnamon Stillwell

Those who favor smaller government will likely be familiar with the term "nanny state." A nanny state is defined as "a government which tries to give too much advice or make too many laws about how people should live, especially about eating, smoking or drinking alcohol." Perhaps not coincidentally, nanny states and blue states tend to go hand in hand.

Indeed, if you're searching for the epitome of the ultimate nanny state, look no farther than San Francisco. With plenty of time on their hands and an exaggerated sense of self-importance, the 11 members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors are obsessed with looking for new laws to pass and ordinances to introduce and gaining control over every aspect of citizens' lives. Although the City is famously libertine in its approach to certain behaviors, anything that fits into its "progressive" paradigm is fair game.