:: walterindenver ::

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:: Sunday, June 29, 2003 ::

Nothing to See Here, Move Along Now!

Walter in Denver is now found at walterindenver.com. Come on over!

:: Walter 7:56 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, June 26, 2003 ::
Open and Free Elections

Jeff Trigg is an Illinois Libertarian and he has first hand experience dealing with punitive ballot access signature requirements. He calculates the numbers, and it ain't pretty.
Let me add to his comments by noting that gathering petition signatures is very expensive and time consuming. A popular and well-funded candidate can wind up using all his cash and volunteers' efforts just to get on the ballot, and have none left over for the actual campaign.

Don't think that isn't exactly how the career politicians intend the system to work.

Here in Colorado ballot access was liberalized for the 2000 election cycle. The Libertarians and other parties ran quite a few candidates, with some success. Some legislators have been trying to restrict ballot access ever since.

:: Walter 7:40 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, June 24, 2003 ::
Or You Could Just Subscribe to Consumer Reports

Product testing results from today's Rocky Mountain News:

A Lakewood man died after he and his uncle tried to show two boys that a protective vest would deflect a knife attack.
It didn't.
Gabriel Aranda, 26, died at St. Anthony Central Hospital Friday of a laceration to the heart.
His uncle, Amando Aranda, 32, was being held without bond at Jefferson County Jail Monday on a first-degree murder charge.
Police were called Friday afternoon to a home in the 9900 block of West 20th Avenue where Gabriel Aranda was found bleeding from the chest.
Inside, they found Amando Aranda, along with a 14-year-old boy and a 4-year-old boy.
According to the arrest affadavit, Amando Aranda told police he and his nephew wanted to show the 14-year-old, a cousin of the victim, what the protective vest could do.
"Gabe told Amando to grab a good knife," the affadavit said. "In the kitchen, Amando grabbed a long, black handled knife and poked the vest worn by Gabe. The knife penetrated the vest and Gabe's chest."

That's a bulletproof vest, fellas.

Andy at the World Wide Rant scooped this story yesterday.

:: Walter 7:56 AM [+] ::
:: Saturday, June 21, 2003 ::
Holiday Coming Soon

Fireworks are illegal in Denver. So in honor of the upcoming Fourth, I did not just now go out and set off a couple of loud firecrackers on my back deck. My dogs, big, ferocious Malamutes, did not go scurrying off in search of safety.

This makes me think of the time, a few years ago, when my brother came into town to visit right on the Fourth. His little boys and their mother came out to the golf course that night with him and on that occasion I did not light a bunch of illegal fireworks purchased in Wyoming. They did not thrill at the sight of big mortar shells, in vivid blues, greens, and oranges, exploding against the black sky. I did not launch various missiles over the pond at the golf course where the colors did not reflect off the still water for added effect.

None of this happened, because fireworks are very dangerous, and the wise city fathers and mothers have decided that it is not in my best interest to do such things. I strongly recommend that whoever you are, wherever you are, you do not go out and do these things to celebrate our freedom.

Especially if it's illegal.

:: Walter 7:39 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, June 20, 2003 ::
New Blogrollage

Please give a warm welcome to Dave Cullen. He's, like, a professional writer and all, so he writes real good, unlike some amateurs.
Seriously, he's a local writer who's been kind enough to talk with me about a piece he's writing for 5280 Magazine about local bloggers. I don't give spots on the blogroll away easily, and when I add a new blog I usually remove an old one. My blog doesn't get a huge number of readers and if I had hundreds of linked blogs they wouldn't even notice the traffic from my site. So I try to keep my blogroll under a couple of dozen, and I read each of those regularly so that I don't miss anything posted there. I tend to favor other small blogs that deserve more readers. The big guys and gals certainly don't need my help. The famous blogs in my blogroll are there for my reading convenience.

:: Walter 6:06 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, June 19, 2003 ::
A Fanboy's Notes

Jim Henley proves his worth and justifies his spot in the blogroll with this post. A sample:

For those of you reading these words I have one request:
What has the appeals court authorized?
Secret detentions.
Please say those words aloud. "Secret detentions." Now use them in a sentence:
The US government engages in the practice of secret detentions.

Of course you might want to read the whole thing.

:: Walter 7:00 AM [+] ::

to my friend Kelly Schaub. She has qualified to play in the U.S. Open, which will be played in Oregon the first week of July.
The best I could manage is the Denver Open. That will be played in late July, and I'm pretty excited about it. Y'all come out and watch.

:: Walter 6:12 AM [+] ::
:: Sunday, June 15, 2003 ::
Please Engage Brain Before Writing

Today's Denver Post brings us this gem of a letter as a follow up on a concealed carry debate from last week:

...[T]he new concealed carry law does not prohibit permitted concealed weapons in Colorado's public colleges and universities.

A student at one of these institutions can legally stuff guns into their backpack. A student with a concealed-carry permit might "lose it" and shoot one of their professors for a failing grade.

Hillman also conveniently forgets to mention that the new concealed-carry law does not prohibit permitted concealed weapons in Colorado's public buildings, unless they have metal detectors. Any disgruntled customer could walk into a government building with their concealed weapon and start shooting up the place.

At the risk of insulting the intelligence of my dear readers, I'll point out what each of you are probably thinking already.

Lacking metal detectors, there's nothing stopping those people from wreaking havoc with guns right now. Legal concealed carry won't change that one iota.

The letter was signed, Tom Bell, Aurora, Barking Moonbat.

OK, I made that last bit up.

:: Walter 8:32 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, June 11, 2003 ::
No Blegging Here

Unlike some big blogs, this blog sees no need to beg for donations, no need to put a tip jar on the sidebar.
Instead, gentle reader, you may buy actual products from my wife. The men's products are really good, too.

:: Walter 7:49 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, June 10, 2003 ::
Legalize WATER!?!

I often write about the idiocies of the drug war, how many innocent people are killed, money is wasted, etc., but this one subject, the Rave Act, leaves me apoplectic. But even I didn't imagine it could be this bad.
First, a little background. Most of the readers of this blog will know about the Rave Act. The Act's proponents imagine that nightclubs and festivals that feature electronic dance music promote drug use. So they set out to shut down the electronic music business. Before my blood pressure hits the ceiling I'll just quote some other bloggers.
Don Watkins' Anger Management:

This is correct, but as Glenn notes, "the DEA has been after not just drug use, but the 'rave scene,' and electronic music in general, which it regards as part of a 'drug culture' that it sees as a legitimate target."
This is serious stuff, friends. This isn't just another insane drug law. The RAVE Act is an assault on a particular group of people defined, not by what chemicals they do or do not use, but by the music they happen to enjoy. I know a lot of people who make their living as club owners, promoters, or DJ's. These people are being targeted by power-hungry pols and police who have decided to make electronic music the latest scapegoat for America's drug problem, and unlike drug laws that (unjustly) punish a person for putting illegal substances into his own body, the RAVE Act is designed to punish a person for what other people put into their own bodies.

That article lead me to Eric Sheie's blog, Classical Values:

My biggest problem as a club owner was that the kids drank water. I was in the business of selling alcohol. Water is free in the bathroom, and cheap as hell in refillable plastic bottles. Imagine how I hated them for drinking water -- ungrateful little brats! I needed to pay my g.......ed rent!
Well guess what! Now I could be arrested for selling them water.
I am absolutely not kidding. Congressional findings state explicitly the intent of the federal government to criminalize water:
"congressional findings" that, according to the Washington Post, declare bottled water, chill rooms and glowsticks to be drug paraphernalia. It also retains the crackhouse law sentencing guidelines: Party organizers whose patrons get busted with drugs can face fines in the millions and up to 20 years in federal prison.

OK, to recap for those unfamiliar with the rave scene, basically a rave is a non-stop dance party that goes to the wee hours of the morning. Party-goers dance until they're beat. Like any nightclub or concert crowd, some participants use illegal drugs, including ecstacy and other mild stimulants. These people, whether on drugs or not, tend to get dehydrated. Concerned club operators have been known to provide cool-down rooms, with cold water available, for the comfort and safety of patrons.
Which practice could now net the proprietor 20 years in the pen.

:: Walter 9:59 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, June 08, 2003 ::

I spent the afternoon working a Libertarian Party booth at the People's Fair in Denver. The Fair is a chance for city residents to showcase their wares, especially the artsy types. Bands play, restaurants sell food samples, and it's a good time. Every year a collection of non-profit groups host booths, and the LP gets in the act.
We get attendees to take the World's Smallest Political Quiz, and discuss libertarianism. Sometimes the debates are lively, and often we gain new members and activists. Whether people agree or disagree with our positions, I enjoy the interaction and discussing politics. It's fun to find folks who share my viewpoint, and it's also entertaining to challenge people's beliefs, watching their eyes grow wide when I say things like, 'Don't you think welfare programs create more poverty rather than help the poor?'
I've worked a number of events in a similar capacity, most of them gun shows, but the People's Fair is more fun. Gun show participants tend to score on the right-wing side on the quiz, but at Denver's People's Fair the results run solidly to the left. The funny thing is we have much more success at the People's Fair. At gun shows we might get a half dozen or so new registrations, but today we got close to fifty. Libertarians are often seen as ultra-conservatives, (a serious slander) but we have seem to have much more success with leftist crowds.
Adjust your prejudices accordingly.

Oh, and one more thing. Next to the LP booth some sort of gay and lesbian outfit had a space. Fair organizers thought it would be cool to give the spot across the sidewalk to a fundamentalist Christian church touting anti-gay literature. Somebody sure has a sense of humor.

:: Walter 9:06 PM [+] ::
New Incoming Links

Thanks to Anticipatory Retaliation, The Smallest Minority, and Blog O' Dob, each of whom have seen fit to link to site in the last few days. This obscure corner of the blogosphere has become a little less so.
UPDATE: How could I forget Courtney?

:: Walter 8:37 PM [+] ::
Quote of the Day

From Samizdata:

We can't change the way that newspapers are written but we can sure change the way people read them.
- Perry de Havilland

:: Walter 8:26 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, June 05, 2003 ::
Carnival of the Vanities

I entered a post into the weekly fray that is the Carnival, the first time I've ever tried it. The post recieved some very positive comments, and thanks to all who've visited in the last day. And thanks to Drumwaster for hosting.

:: Walter 10:24 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, June 03, 2003 ::
Good For Something

If nothing else the Libertarian Party is good for some inspired prose. This is from a press release announcing a new national party director:

WASHINGTON, DC -- The incoming executive director of the nation's
third-largest political party is issuing a bold appeal to the American
electorate: Help us fire the government.
"There are just two things standing in between the American people and
their freedom: Democrats, and Republicans," says Joe Seehusen,
incoming head of the Washington, DC-based party. "Government at all
levels has become too big and too bossy, and it's time to cut it down
to size."

Good luck, Joe.

:: Walter 7:36 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, June 02, 2003 ::
Walter Explains Everything

Eric Rudolph. What can you say about this guy? He hates women. He [allegedly] plants a bomb at a gay nightclub. What could motivate him? Religion? A disturbed childhood? Mental instability? I couldn't say.
Then I saw this picture, and it all fell together.

Eric. Freddie. It can't be a coincidence. Where was Freddie about 36 years ago?

Go ahead, sing along. We are the champions, my friend.....

:: Walter 9:53 PM [+] ::
Obligatory Mayoral Campaign Post

It's hard to get excited about Denver's mayoral race, which will be decided tomorrow. It's a run-off between Don Mares and John Hickenlooper. The field originally was an incredibly diverse group. Seven Democrats. Six of them current or former office holders In other words, a bunch of insider political hacks. Hickenlooper was the only non-politician in the bunch. As a political outsider in that group he became the frontrunner, which speaks more to the level of dissatisfaction with government in this city than any charm Hickenlooper might possess.
The campaigns each of the candidates ran were standard boilerplate - more services for group X, more money to be spent on project Y. Hickenlooper managed to get in a few words about fiscal responsibility between pledges to expand funding for light rail, among other things. I haven't heard any knowledgeable observer who thinks any of them would shrink city government down to a reasonable size.
The most positive aspect of the campaign was the abysmal failure of one Ari Zavaras. As a former chief of police he was one of those most responsible for the spy files fiasco, (I've been writing about that for months) and although he was an early favorite he generated very little support, and didn't even come close to making the run-off. Sources tell me he had a very negative image in minority communities, and rightly so.

So here's the Walter in Denver endorsement: Vote for Hickenlooper! Or stay home. Might be a good day for golf. Probably doesn't matter. I don't think you can write in another candidate on a run-off ballot.

:: Walter 8:55 PM [+] ::
Liberals vs Conservatives

Steven Den Beste discusses why those two labels don't adequately describe political differences in the U.S. He maps out political views on various other axes, conservative vs revolutionary, liberal vs autocrat, tolerant vs conformist.
Only one measure means much to me, and that's statist vs individualist. More on that in this space at a future date.

:: Walter 6:09 AM [+] ::
:: Saturday, May 31, 2003 ::
More New Reading

A readable lefty blog, Badattitudes Journal. The author is a former newspaper reporter, but he seems to be able write pretty well anyway.
While politically I don't find right-wingers any more palatable than lefties, I have a hard time finding lefty blogs worth reading. I'm still trying to put my finger on why the left-wing blogs annoy me so. Blogs listed on the left side of this page include some notable exceptions.

:: Walter 10:15 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, May 30, 2003 ::
Walking the Talk

Pamela White, editor of the Boulder Weekly, wrote a story last August describing her own harrowing experience of being at home when two would-be rapists broke in, armed with knives. She called the police, and she was very fortunate that they made it in time to save her.
After pondering the incident for a decade, she wonders what might have happened if she were in possession of a firearm that night.

"If I'd had a gun, I'd have shot them both in the face," I told Gary.
I visualized myself doing just that-holding the gun, firing at the filthy, leering smirk on the men's faces, watching their heads split like melons.
Not long after the break-in, I shared those thoughts with a former professor of mine, now a friend and mentor.
"If I'd have had a gun, I'd have shot both," I told her.
While sympathetic and full of compassion, she wasn't impressed, so I explained further.
"I would be better for me to kill them then let them attack me."
Her response, to the best of my recollection, was this: "Certainly it would be horrible if they had done what they wanted to do, but if you had shot them it could have cost you your soul."

[long snip]

The nightmares have ended, as has the fear of being alone. The desire to buy a gun passed long ago. But I've never written about the handgun issue because in so many ways I'm a fence-sitter.
If someone tried to break into my house again, I'd probably still call the guys who pack heat for a living. I won't carry a gun. I let them carry one for me. Second Amendment supporters would say that makes me a hypocrite or even unpatriotic.

She writes much more concerning the spiritual reasons she wouldn't use a gun.

Ari Armstrong, of the Colorado Freedom report and contributor to the Boulder Weekly, thought she had an unreasonable fear of guns and of using them for self defense. He challenged her to learn more by taking a firearms self defense course.
She took him up on the dare. It was an emotionally challenging event for her, and she writes of her experience in this week's Boulder Weekly:

Ari tells me he hopes two things will come out of this weekend. He hopes first of all to demystify guns so that I come to see them as tools, as opposed to little metallic monsters, the embodiment of violence and evil. He also hopes to combat stereotypes I might have about people whom we in Boulder might simply call "gun nuts."

I won't tell you how it turned out. You'll have to read the article.

:: Walter 2:43 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, May 28, 2003 ::
In the News

"Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said he would be
willing to serve another term. Greenspan went on to say,
'Where else would I get a job in this economy?'"
--Conan O'Brien

:: Walter 9:33 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, May 27, 2003 ::
Drug War Talk

This post over at Talkleft generated an interesting debate in the comments section. The post concerns the Harlem no-knock drug raid that resulted in the death of an innocent woman. (I discussed that incident here)

Poster Cliff comments on the post on this blog:

Walter - Yes, good to know that there have been 19 screw-ups. How many were successful though? Like with cat food, you have to know the overall effect.
For example, I HATE DUI roadblocks. The courts have said that they are constitutional (depending on your state and how they're done) but I have to admit that the statistics show that they cut down on DUI related accidents and fatalities admirably.
As for the 'no one is endangered by drugs' argument, well, let's just say that though I basically agree with you, that's simply not how the law is written so it's not an effective argument.

To which I responded:

In the context of the war on drugs, no knock raids are a failure almost every time. I say 'almost' since there is a chance a raid will accidentally net an actual criminal, such as a murderer or burglar. Even when they go as planned they only contribute to the violence and elevated crime rate that drug prohibition brings us. So those nineteen dead were killed needlessly, really worse than needlessly. And that number is only a very imprecise count of one small category of drug war victims.

Cliff's rebuttal:

I already said I agreed with you on the drug laws. But you're simply not supplying any numbers, just a fair amount of emotion and some well crafted words.

Well crafted! You're too kind. Really. But you've mistaken my remarks as an analysis of the efficacy of no-knock raids. I don't care if they are effective in catching drug dealers. I'm discussing morality. And morally, I find it unjustifiable if one person is killed in the pursuit of a useless drug war.
I think it's telling that you use the DUI roadblock programs as an example of useful law enforcement techniques. Even if they do cut down on DUI cases, (and I tend to believe the decrease is because of a better informed public rather than roadblocks) they are still an egregious violation of the plain language of the fourth amendment, muddle-headed court rulings notwithstanding. Citing them as an example of good law enforcement is sort of like saying, 'Mussolini wasn't so hot, but he got the trains to run on time!'

As for drugs being a danger to people, I never said otherwise. Pretty much anything is a danger to someone, and illegal drugs are no exception.

:: Walter 9:19 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, May 25, 2003 ::
Here Ya Go

People seem to want an analysis of Annika Sorenstam's performance at the Colonial PGA event. I have to say it went about like I suspected it would. She is a tremendous ball striker, and proved it on Thursday when she hit the ball almost perfectly all the way around the course. She hits it well enough to play on the men's tour, I think. However, if a tour caliber player hits the ball that well s/he must be able to take advantage by scoring well, and she didn't. The one-over par 71 was disappointing when she was playing from the fairway most of the day. That inability to score wears on a player, and Friday when she didn't hit the ball quite as well it showed. A few mistakes off the tee and she wasn't able to scramble well enough to keep her score down.
There's a simple explanation for all that. Course conditions on the PGA tour are generally tougher than the on the LPGA. The greens are firmer and faster, the rough is taller. Additionally, Annika hits the ball so well she doesn't often have to scramble to win on her home tour. It would be interesting to see if she could adapt to PGA tour conditions if she became a regular player there, but she says she has no desire to do so.
I had predicted a score of 150 for her two rounds, and she was five better than that. The Colonial course played a couple of shots easier than in past years, witnessed by a lower cut line than the previous average. I don't know if that was because of wetter, softer course conditions or if they didn't set up the course as tough as they usually do. I'd hate to think the latter was the case. And I hope Annika changes her mind and tries it again.

:: Walter 12:11 PM [+] ::
New-To-Me Blog

Silver Rights. A pro-civil rights blog, except for one important right. Guess which one didn't make the cut. That's not so remarkable, plenty on the left share that same blind spot. But in one case, while discussing the potential repeal of 'assault weapons' legislation, blogger 'J.' puts this in print, er, pixels:

But, ultimately, this will not be a laughing matter. The widespread availability of assault weapons results in incredible carnage. Instead of being allowed to lapse, the ban should be stiffened and extended to more guns.

Sorry, but availability of weapons of any sort and 'carnage' has no correlation in this country, except in reducing violent crime. I'm sure the blogger would disagree with me on several fundamental philosophical issues but when it comes to issues of fact, as in firearms = violent crime, we can debate actual numbers.

Professors John Lott, Yale, and William Landes, University of Chicago Law School, published a paper concerning right to carry laws and their effect on public shootings, including this passage:

[W]e find that deaths or injuries from mass shootings remain fairly constant over time
before the right-to-carry law is passed and falling afterwards (though the before law trend is only
significant for the number of shootings) ....[long snip]...
The other gun related law variables generally produce no consistent significant impact on mass
shootings. One exception is the impact of laws limiting a purchaser to no more than one-gun-amonth.
All the estimates imply that limitations on purchases increase multiple shootings, though the
statistical significance of this variable is driven solely by its impact on the number of injuries. The
point estimates on the waiting period variables are not consistent. In some equations, a longer
waiting period increases the risk of mass public shootings, in others it decreases the risk, and in
only one equation is the variable statistically significant. A safe storage law has no significant effect
in any equation. The imposition of additional penalties for using a gun in a crime significantly
reduces the number of murders, but the impact on injuries and the number of attacks is statistically
insignificant. Nor were any of the joint F-tests on the gun control variables statistically significant.
In sum, there is no evidence that these laws systematically reduce multiple shootings.

So, if gun control laws don't reduce mass shootings, why would the repeal of the same increase shootings?

(Lott & Landes paper entitled 'Multiple Victim Public Shootings' available here, PDF file. Quoted here from pages 10 and 11.)

:: Walter 8:06 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, May 22, 2003 ::
The FDA Story

Jim Babka of a group called Downsize DC (great name) documents how the FDA hurt more than it helps. His story is called How the FDA Helped Kill My Dad. Here's a teaser:

His cancer started as a renal cell carcinoma (kidney) that spread to a vein, and from there to the rest of his body. Carcinomas produce a tiny vascular system of their own that steals blood flow from the organ they inhabit. They also produce dramatically increased amounts of a substance called COX-2. Inhibiting COX-2 retards the creation of the cancer's vascular system and starves the tumor.
COX-2 also seems to play other key roles in the development of cancer cells, but no successful, cancer-specific COX-2 inhibitors are on the market. Instead, doctors rely on chemotherapy and radiation.
Alas, a COX-2 inhibiting cancer drug does exist. It started its clinical trials for FDA approval in 1999. In Phase I, the FDA concluded that the drug Endostatin (by Entremed, Inc.—NASDAQ: ENMD) has no apparent toxicity. Compare that with chemo or radiation. The drug is currently in Phase II of clinical trials. The research, much of which I studied in my father's final weeks, shows great promise, but the FDA wouldn't let my father have it.
This drug might have saved my father's life, and it almost certainly would not have killed him, but the cancer certainly did.

Babka goes on to cite studies that show tens of thousands have died while waiting for various drugs to be released by the FDA. It makes for worthwhile reading.

:: Walter 6:37 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, May 19, 2003 ::
I Missed One

While researching the story below I ran across a Cato Institute piece that lead me to this story about a Houston man who was shot to death in a botched drug raid in 1998. I suspect that I've missed many such stories. They don't seem to get much coverage in mainstream press.

Let me update the Drug War Bystander Casualty Count: Nineteen dead, four wounded.

:: Walter 8:19 PM [+] ::
Another little oopsie

Police in Harlem executed a drug warrant Monday with a surprise dawn raid, breaking down the front door and throwing a flash grenade to stun the apartment occupants. One small error, though. They had the wrong apartment. Not surprisingly, the unfortunate woman who was the resident of the raided apartment went into cardiac arrest a few minutes after the raid and never recovered.

Drug war bystander casualty count: eighteen dead, four wounded.

:: Walter 4:24 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, May 18, 2003 ::
Wie to Play Boise Open

13-year-old Michelle Wie has accepted a sponsor's exemption to play in a Nationwide Tour event in September. This is perhaps more remarkable than Annika Sorenstam playing in next week's PGA tour event. Wie is only in eighth grade, and she'll be on the course competing against grown men. Good luck to her.

:: Walter 8:56 AM [+] ::

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