Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Live Free or Die

On June 23, 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, in a 5 to 4 decision, that the government has the right to condemn private property and transfer title over to other private individuals or private corporations simply to stimulate economic development and/or create a larger tax base.

The city council of New London, Conn., had decided to confiscate some acreage within its boundaries and turn it over to a group of private business owners called the New London Development Corp. whereupon 15 existing private homes would be demolished and replaced with a hotel complex, offices and other structures.

Naturally, the owners of the 15 existing homes were outraged.

The structures were in excellent condition, in a quiet neighborhood, with an ocean view. Some of the homes had been in the family of the residents since 1901.

The four most conservative justices on the Supreme Court (William Rehnquist, Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas) all sided with the homeowners.

Sandra Day O'Connor wrote a strongly worded dissent, noting that "the specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory."

While the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution allows government to seize private property and convert it into "public use," Supreme Court Justices David Souter, John Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy believed transferring property to a private individual somehow constituted public usage.

Presently, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, South Carolina and Washington all have laws forbidding the use of eminent domain for economic development. 

Much of the public disagreed with the overreaching of the government in the usage of eminent domain, including a Libertarian named Logan Darrow Clements of Los Angeles.

Clements ran for Governor of California in 2003. His philosophy of a voluntary society and free-will capitalism was based on the 1957 novel ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand.

Clements received 274 votes.

A Libertarian is a person who is concerned with the fundamental protection of individual rights.

Libertarians believe that individuals have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.

Therefore, if individuals are not initiating coercion against others, government should leave them alone.

Libertarians oppose the criminalization of victimless acts (drugs, prostitution, censorship, etc.) and believe in reducing the size and scope of control of the government.

Both liberal and conservative ideologies have civil libertarian adherents. Plus the Libertarian Party has become a noticeable national political movement, an alternative to the two-party stranglehold of control.


The Free State Project was a proposal in 2001 by a group of Libertarians whereby 20,000 of them would settle in a localized area within one of 10 states by 2006 and create a society where the role of government is the protection of individual freedom.

The original 10 target states were Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming.

 New Hampshire was selected (by a vote of participants) as the common destination.

New Hampshire's state motto is "Live Free or Die."

1) It has the lowest state and local tax burden in the continental USA

2) It has the second lowest level of dependence on federal spending

3) It has a state house "citizen" legislature where representatives haven't raised their $100 per year salary since 1889

4) It has a culture of individual responsibility -- for example, no seatbelt or helmet regulations for adults

5) It has the lowest crime rates in the country -- less regulation inherently means less crime

The mission statement of the Free State Project: “The Free State Project is an agreement among 20,000 pro-liberty activists to move to New Hampshire, where they will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the protection of life, liberty, and property. The success of the Project would likely entail reductions in taxation and regulation, reforms at all levels of government to expand individual rights and free markets, and a restoration of constitutional federalism, demonstrating the benefits of liberty to the rest of the nation and the world.”

In 2006, Logan Darrow Clements was one of the Free State Project participants, on his way to a better life in New Hampshire.

It also turned out that Supreme Court Justice David Souter owned a 200-year-old farmhouse on eight acres near Weare, New Hampshire.

Thus, a collision was about to occur.

Clements soon declared he wanted to build a hotel, similar to the one Justice Souter voted in favor of allowing private individuals to build after confiscating private homes in the court case, on Justice Souter's New Hampshire property.

Accordingly, Clements notified the local Weare township council, requesting that they initiate eminent domain proceedings against Justice Souter's property thereby promoting economic development for the area.

Eventually, the township of Weare held a town meeting and rejected Clements’ request for eminent domain to acquire Judge Souter’s property.

As of March 14, 2010, there were 10,000 participants in the Free State Project.

Nearly a thousand of them had moved to New Hampshire from elsewhere.

In 2006, a Free State Participant was elected to the New Hampshire General Court.

In 2008, six Free State Participants were elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

In 2010, the so-called Tea Party Movement has blossomed into a national force.

This “grass roots” organism is primarily concerned with today’s excessive government spending and increased control over every aspect of American life, seeking similar solutions to the Libertarians of the Free State Movement.

The national debt is nearly $16 trillion in July of 2012 and expected to rise as far as the eye can see.

Government is becoming larger, more powerful and less manageable.

Yet people continue to vote to obtain self-serving goodies from a government that always over-promises and under-delivers, without any consideration to cost or inevitable unintended consequences.

More government means less individual freedom.

Voting for less individual freedom is a form of insanity.

"The obligations of our representatives in Washington are to protect our liberty, not coddle the world, precipitating no-win wars, while bringing bankruptcy and economic turmoil to our people." Ron Paul

I belong to a similar organization of Libertarians called the Get Outta Here Project -- a bunch of grumpy hermits who have settled in northern Arkansas and discourage visitors.

We believe in life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and bathing during full moons.

Live free or die.

Quote for the Day -- "If we must die, we die defending our rights." Sitting Bull

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and an imaginary girlfriend named Tequila Mockingbird

Saturday, May 17, 2014

50 Years Ago -- 1964

The year 1964 was an eventful time, including the Beatles & Rolling Stones arrival in the USA and triggering of the Vietnam War.

The following events took place in 1964.

Jan 10 -- Panama broke ties with the U.S. and demanded a revision of the canal treaty.

Jan 30 -- The USA launched Ranger 6 from Cape Canaveral. It was an unmanned spacecraft carrying six television cameras that was programmed to crash-land on the moon.

Feb 1 -- President Lyndon Johnson rejected Charles de Gaulle's plan for a neutral Vietnam.

Feb 6 -- Cuba blocked the water supply to Guantanamo Naval Base in retaliation of the USA seizure of four Cuban fishing boats and fines on Cuban fishermen near Florida. In response, the U.S. imposed water rationing and built desalination plants.

Feb 6 -- Paris and London agreed to build a rail tunnel under the English Channel.

 Feb 7 -- The Beatles began their first American tour, arriving at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, where they were greeted by 25,000 screaming fans.

Feb 7 -- Baskin-Robbins introduced Beatle Nut ice cream.

Feb 9 -- The Beatles made their first live American television appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Feb 9 -- The U.S. embassy in Moscow was stoned by Chinese and Vietnamese students.

Feb 25 -- Cassius Clay (later changed his name to Muhammad Ali) became world heavyweight boxing champion by defeating Sonny Liston in Miami Beach.

Mar 4 -- Jimmy Hoffa was convicted of jury tampering.

Mar 9 -- Five Lakota Sioux (Native Americans) occupied Alcatraz Island in a peaceful protest. They declared that it should be a Native American cultural center and university.

Mar 9 -- The first Ford Mustang rolled off the Ford assembly line.

Mar 14 -- A jury in Dallas found Jack Ruby guilty of murdering Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President Kenned.

Mar 15 -- Actress Elizabeth Taylor married actor Richard Burton in Montreal; it was her fifth marriage.

Mar 15 -- President Johnson asked for a War on Poverty and for Congress to ensure voting rights.

Mar 27 -- Valdez, Alaska, was hit by an 8.6 earthquake, the largest ever recorded in North America.

Apr 7 -- IBM introduced its System/360, the company's first line of compatible mainframe computers.

Apr 13 -- At the annual Academy Awards "Tom Jones" won Best Movie, Sidney Poitier won Best Actor and Patricia Neal won Best Actress.

May 19 -- The U.S. State Department announced that the U.S. embassy in Moscow had been bugged by a network of more than 40 microphones embedded in the walls.

Jun 1 -- The Rolling Stones arrived in the USA for the first time, landing at Kennedy Airport in New York.

Jun 12 -- In South Africa, Nelson Mandela (convicted of treason) was moved to a prison on Robben Island where he remained until Apr 1982.

Jun 20 -- General William Westmoreland succeeded General Paul Harkins as head of the U.S. forces in Vietnam.

Jun 21 -- Three civil rights workers, Andrew Goodman 20, Michael Schwerner 24, and James Chaney 21, disappeared near Meridian, Mississippi -- 40 days later their bodies were found buried in an earthen dam near Philadelphia, Miss.

Jun 24 -- The Federal Trade Commission announced that cigarette manufactures would be required to include warnings on their packaging about the harmful effects of smoking.

Jul 2 -- President Johnson signed into law a civil rights bill passed by Congress, .guaranteeing voting rights and equal access to public accommodations and education.

Jul 11 -- Queen Elizabeth ordered The Beatles to her birthday party, whereby they attended.

Jul 15 -- The Republican National Convention was held at the Cow Palace in Daly City, Ca. It elected Barry Goldwater as its presidential candidate. Goldwater proclaimed "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

Jul 18 -- Race riots erupted in the black areas of New York City and Rochester, NY, where 4 people were killed.

Jul 26 -- Teamster Union president Jimmy Hoffa and six others were convicted of fraud and conspiracy in the handling of a union pension fund.

Jul 27 -- President Lyndon Johnson sent an additional 5,000 "advisers" to South Vietnam.

Jul 28 -- American space probe Ranger 7 was launched toward the Moon, eventually sending back 4,308 pictures.

Aug 1 -- Arthur Ashe became the first African-American to play on the U.S. Davis Cup tennis team.

Aug 2 -- The Pentagon reported the first of two attacks on U.S. destroyers by North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin. Subsequent evidence supported claims that the Tonkin Gulf incident was deliberately provoked by U.S. Forces (thereby giving the USA a justification for escalating the conflict with North Vietnam).

Aug 2 -- There was a race riot in Jersey City, NJ.

Aug 4 -- President Johnson ordered an immediate retaliation for the Aug 2 attack on the U.S. destroyer Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin off North Vietnam.

Aug 4 -- The U.S. Navy destroyers Maddox and Turner Joy allegedly exchanged fire with supposed North Vietnamese patrol boats. NOTE: In 2005, it was reported that NSA officials deliberately distorted the Aug 4 data to support the belief that North Vietnamese ships had attacked American destroyers.

Aug 4 -- The bodies of missing civil rights workers Michael H. Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James E. Chaney were found buried in an earthen dam in Nashoba County, Mississippi. Schwerner and Goodman were Jewish-Americans from Pelham and New York City respectively, and Chaney was a Black from Meridian, Mississippi.

Aug 5 -- The U.S. began bombing North Vietnam.

Aug 7 -- The U.S. Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, giving President Johnson broad powers to use unlimited military force to prevent attacks on U.S. forces.

Aug 11 -- There was a race riot in Paterson, NJ.

Aug 12 -- There was a race riot in Elizabeth, NJ.

Aug 15 -- There was a race riot in Dixmoor, a suburb of Chicago, Ill.

Aug 18 -- South Africa was banned from Olympic Games because of apartheid policies.

Aug 26 -- President Lyndon Johnson was nominated for a full term of U.S. President at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, N.J.

Aug 28 -- There was a race riot in Philadelphia.

Sep 3 -- U.S. attorney general Robert Kennedy resigned.

Sep 12 -- Typhoon Gloria struck Taiwan killing 330, causing $17.5 million of damage.

Sep 27 -- The Warren Commission, investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, announced that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

Oct 12 -- Mary Meyer, one of John F. Kennedy's secret lovers up to his assassination, was brutally murdered on a walking path by the Potomac River.

Oct 14 -- Civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for advocating a policy of non-violence.

Oct 15 -- St. Louis Cardinals beat the New York Yankees in seven games to win the World Series.

Oct 15 -- Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was removed from office, to be succeeded as premier by Alexei Kosygin and as Communist Party secretary by Leonid Brezhnev.

Oct 16 -- The New York Yankees fired manager Yogi Berra one day after their World Series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Oct 16 -- Red China detonated its first atomic bomb to become the world's 4th nuclear power.

Oct 27 -- Singers Sonny and Cher were married.

Nov 2 -- Faisal ibn Abdul Aziz Al Saud succeeded his older brother Saud bin Abdul Aziz as king of Saudi Arabia.

Nov 3 -- President Johnson defeated Republican challenger Barry Goldwater to win a White House term as the 36th president by winning 486 electoral votes to Goldwater’s 52.

Nov 3 -- Robert Kennedy was elected senator from New York.

Nov 5 -- The Mariner 3 was launched but failed to reach a trajectory around Mars and ended up in distant orbit around the sun.

Nov 10 -- Australia began a draft to fulfill its commitment in Vietnam.

Nov 14 -- The U.S. First Cavalry Division battled with the North Vietnamese Army in the Ia Drang Valley, the first ground combat for American troops.

Nov 23 -- The Vatican abolished Latin as the official language of Roman Catholic Church.

Nov 24 -- Residents of Washington DC were permitted to vote for the 1st time since 1800.

Nov 28 -- Willie Nelson made his debut performance at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

Dec 3 -- Police arrested 824 students at the University of California at Berkeley, the largest mass arrest in U.S. history, after the students stormed the administration building and staged a massive sit-in as part of the Free Speech Movement.

Dec 4 -- Some 10,000 people attended a protest rally at the University of California at Berkeley

Dec 11 -- Frank Sinatra Jr. was released after being kidnapped for the ransom amount of $240,000.

Dec 13 -- In El Paso, Texas, President Johnson and Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz set off an explosion that diverted the Rio Grande, reshaping the U.S. & Mexican border, ending a century-old dispute.

Dec 24 -- The U.S. Headquarters in Saigon, South Vietnam, was hit by a bomb. Two officers were killed.

Dec 31 -- Syrian-based guerrillas of Yasser Arafat launched their first raid on Israel, attempting to provoke an Arab war against Israel.

The Top Ten songs in 1964:

1) I Want To Hold Your Hand -- The Beatles
2) She Loves You -- The Beatles
3) Hello Dolly -- Louis Armstrong
4) Oh, Pretty Woman -- Roy Orbison
5) I Get Around -- The Beach Boys
6) Everybody Loves Somebody -- Dean Martin
7) My Guy -- Mary Wells
8) We'll Sing In The Sunshine -- Gail Garnett
9) Last Kiss -- J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers
10) Where Did Our Love Go -- The Supremes

In the spring of 1964, I completed my sophomore year as a math major at the University of Minnesota.

I spent the summer working on a survey crew for the Minnesota Highway Department where we were laying out marker stakes for the new Interstate Highway 494 around Minneapolis.

In August, on my 20th birthday, I headed down to Miami, Florida, in my 1953 Chevy to enroll at Miami-Dade College in their computer science program. I spent one full year in Miami -- it was the best 5 years of my life.

Quote for the Day – "Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth… A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have." Barry Goldwater

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where heaven on earth is a state of mind.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Humor Warning

In 2001, I began writing a column for a weekly newspaper in Salem, Arkansas. When I first started, I tried to do mostly humor items and won several annual awards for humor columns through the Arkansas Press Association. However, my attempts at humor initially offended some of the readers. The newspaper even received a few threats of subscription cancellations if I wasn't immediately removed from uttering my gibberish in print.

Yes, I can be a smartass at times -- it's my way of dealing with the insanity of the world.

Thus, I wrote the following newspaper column, published in May of 2001, as a response to those who wanted me tarred and feathered, and expelled from the human race.


Recently, I noticed a couple of letters to the editor written by people who expressed their intolerance for what they perceived to be my lack of tolerance.

I’ve tried real hard to inject some humor into my columns. Obviously, I’ve failed.

I was born in Arkansas. Six months later, my parents moved to Ohio. I decided to tag along.  At age three, I found myself living in Wisconsin. Fourth and fifth grade were in Kansas and sixth grade through college in Minnesota. I also lived in Miami for a year, two years in Atlanta, twelve years in Los Angeles, six years in Arizona, about a year in Memphis, another ten years in Arkansas, plus several other places in between. All in all, I’ve lived at 52 different addresses in 12 different states.

When I wrote the line “…keep those pesky northerners from moving down here and spoiling the scenery” I was not speaking of a breed of folks of whom I disapprove. I’m just as much northerner as anything else.

I love this area and hope I never have to move again. My point was that I didn’t want to see a whole lot of people moving here and ruining the place. Scenery, by the way, is what was here before people came along and built roads, houses and strip malls.

In retrospect, I should’ve said Texans instead of northerners. Nobody wants a bunch of Texans moving into their area. They are loud and obnoxious; all hat and no cattle.

NOTE: The above comments about Texans were meant to be humorous. I even have friends from Texas. Of course, they’re loud and obnoxious but they all can’t possibly be that way.

I don’t mind criticism. When you go through life as a wisecracker, you expect to take some flak.

What bothers me is that a newspaper subscriber would threaten to cut off their subscription simply because they didn’t appreciate one tiny column in the lower left-hand corner of an inside page. Would you throw your TV set away just because you came across a program that offended you?

If you don’t like my column, simply don’t read it. To ignore the rest of the paper is ridiculous and to demand that your subscription be terminated is an insult to all the outstanding people who work very hard to put the paper together. Don’t punish them just because you think I’m a jerk. After all, there are lots of jerks out there that need a voice too.

In order to avoid future mishaps, I’m considering placing a warning at the beginning of my columns. Some under consideration are as follows:

WARNING: The following was written by a person who is attempting to be humorous – read at your own risk

WARNING: If you don’t understand or appreciate the following sense of humor, feel free to place it at the bottom of your bird cage or bury it in your garden – it’s biodegradable

WARNING: There may be references to the author’s ex-wife that seem derogatory – in reality, the author’s ex-wife considers them to be funny and enjoys reading them

WARNING: The author of the following is often considered to be a moronic jerk – if you find it amusing, you may also be a moronic jerk

We all don’t have the same sense of humor. Believe it or not, some people actually find my columns amusing. Many of them even appear to be normal.

Censoring me will get you nowhere. The world is full of wisecracking jerks standing in line to take my place. Your best alternative is to just lighten up. Who knows, you might even enjoy it.

Quote for the Day -- “I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don't even invite me.” Dave Barry

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and an imaginary girlfriend named Tequila Mockingbird.