Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Campaigns for Liberty

We all would like to see our liberty restored and protected from further encroachment, and many libertarians work hard to elect like-minded candidates, support ballot measures, and other work. Of course, there is much more to be done, and this is one idea from an unusual source: the United Kingdom.

Two newspapers, of all things, are promoting pro-liberty campaigns in the United Kingdom, as mentioned in recent news stories (www.thepriceofliberty.org). The Daily Telegraph is pushing a very strong campaign to change laws and make it clear that homeowners can defend themselves against robbers, burglars, and other invaders of their homes. http://www.advertising.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/11/28/ncrime28.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/11/28/ixhome.html
The Daily Sun (famed for its "Page 3 Girls") is also running a lengthy campaign called "Stop the Fines Robbery" (http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2004552877,00.html ) in which they are publishing examples of abuse by traffic wardens (police officers in charge of traffic - like meter maids and meter men in US cities) and then going to the various courts and cities to help the people fight to overturn the charges (many parking fines in the UK are US$160 or more). Now, neither of these campaigns is going to restore the "liberties of Englishmen" anytime soon, but they DO make an impact on the people and on the government - small, but noticeable and effective.
Similar campaigns on a local level, right here in the Fifty States, can do the same thing, and help build support for liberty on their own, as well as make it easier for electioneering and ballot issues. A small campaign to stop traffic ticket abuse can help a few people directly, gather press coverage, build alliances with other people (especially conservatives and liberals), make people better known, and reduce intrusions of personal liberty in any area. If coordinated with local groups (such as radio station personalities or newspaper columnists, or charity groups), they can broaden the appeal, be more effective, and essentially pay for themselves. They don't have to be statewide efforts - they can be as small as a county or a city.

Here are some ideas:
- many groups are fighting the condemnation authority of local governments for "economic development" where (for example) the city condemns dozens of homes in order to put together a block of land to be sold to a "big-box" retailer or industrial company.
- many cities DO have problems with parking ticket abuse - I know of one city where high-school students with as few as a single unpaid parking ticket more than a month old have been arrested in front of their classmates, in the classroom.
- many communities (one in Illinois has been in the news as of late) have their own local laws forbidding the ownership of handguns, or prohibiting either open carry or concealed carry in their boundaries.
- many towns have a problem with the arrogant attitude or continual foul-ups by a single government agency - federal, state, or local. For example, a DOT (Dept of Transportation) shop which constantly tracks mud onto the streets, or sends vast plumes of diesel smoke across the neighborhood on winter days; or a Dept of Fish and Game warden who constantly trespasses on private property, or harasses local people for game violations; or a local town that has speed traps for unwary travelers.
Each of these is an opportunity to right a wrong, protect or restore a freedom, and turn into a springboard for other good work. Look around and try and do this, yourself!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Well, it is a day to be thankful, even if we have turned it into a day of outlandish pigging out, of pre-Christmas marketing hype, and laziness (except for those cooking all those meals) - the beginning of the two months of extravagant bread-and-circuses of the "holidays" starting with T-Day, going on through Christmas (where still legal), New Year's Eve parties and New Year's Day circuses (sports), followed by the Superbowl and even, extending to the excesses of Karnival (Marti Gras or Shrove Tuesday).

But we should think about being thankful, and here is a list of a few:
1. Thankful that we live in the nation we do - with so much of the world being worse off.
2. Thankful that we (my family and I) live in the West, and not in places where neither the freedom nor the scenery are as good.
3. Thankful that we have enough (and usually, too much) to eat and drink, and that we have enough laid by to provide for at least minor emergencies.
4. Thankful for the freedom we still have to travel, despite $2.00 gasoline, and the wide-open spaces in which to travel.
5. Thankful for friends of liberty, especially those who are friends of ours as well, and for all they do to encourage us, and keep us thinking straight, and so much more.
6. Thankful for friends who are brothers and sisters in Christ - "church friends" who also do all they can do to encourage us, and keep us thinking straight, and so much more.
7. Thankful for a loving, hardworking, and cheerful spouse, able to do so much and keep things in order.
8. Thankful for two sons growing up to be faithful christians and lovers of liberty, and smart and hard-working friends as well as children.
9. Thankful for the technology on which I write this, and which I use to travel and communicate and live by, and for the freedom and faith that has made this possible.
10. Thankful for the hundred and one things that I take for granted every day.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Dealing with ID Theft

This is the second in a series of "Baker's Dozen" tips on personal security. Comments are appreciated before I submit to Mama Liberty to TPoL for publishing.

A Baker’s Dozen Tips ™ To Dealing with ID Theft by Nathan Barton © 2004

A major growth sector in US crime is identity theft. Millions are victimized every year by emptied bank accounts, charged-out credit accounts, ruined credit records, and even criminal records pointing towards the victim's identity. The Federal Trade Commission says that identity theft is the number-one form of fraud, with over 9 million people affected in 2003. Many people don’t find out for months that they were hit.
  1. Fundamentals: Know what is needed to steal an identity. It doesn’t take much. A name, address (past or present), phone, birth date, Social Security number (SSAN), mother's maiden name, and just one of the following: bank account number (from a check), credit card number (from a sales slip or a bill), driver's license (from a motel receipt, perhaps), plate number and/or VIN (vehicle ID number), even a utility bill. A thief can make a few phone calls, do an online search and become you.
  2. A Little Defense: There are lots of ways for the crook to get the data he (or she) needs: Pick pocketing, “shoulder surfing” and dumpster diving are covert ways of obtaining info, but registry clerks, medical filers, property management filers, bankers, utility company employees or any venue where you are required to give out your SSAN for services are the weakest links in your ability to conceal your ID. Dishonest employees sell lists of SSAN for cash. So the number one thing you can do is LIMIT HOW OFTEN YOU GIVE OUT THIS NUMBER! Don’t write your signature on your debit and credit cards – instead, print “SEE PHOTO ID” in that space, and use your drivers license, military ID, or school ID to show the signature. Make sure that clerks don’t write down the ID number or SSAN (if it appears on the ID) on a check or sales slip. Leave street addresses and SSAN OFF your checks – many people advise putting only initials, not full names.
  3. The Postman Cometh: Postal address forms can be filled out and your mail redirected to a criminal’s address. Incoming and outgoing mail have everything they need. Credit card offers and loan applications have proprietary information, and can often be completed and approved with just a bogus signature. Stolen mail might never be missed, giving the thief a head start. If possible, use a locked USPS box, a private mailbox (PMB) (from the UPS Store or some other private business), or a mail slot, rather than a traditional outdoor mailbox.
  4. For Whom the Phone Rings: Criminals don’t observe “no-call” lists. Some predators call congratulating you on winning a prize or trip. Someone will claim you hit their auto in a parking lot (or they hit yours!), or that they found something of yours with identity on it and ask you to confirm your SSAN, drivers license, or other number to prove you are who you claim to be.
  5. Phishing and Other Computer Fun: The computer/internet version of phone fraud: e-mails asking for personal information and imitating a service provider or other business are common types of spam. Often the e-mail will direct you to a web-site that mimics a well-known and recognized web-site (such as Visa or Wells Fargo) but is really sitting on a server in Russia or Bermuda. Data-mining spyware is another threat, where you enter the very information they are looking for, for a legitimate site and use, and the number is collected by the spyware. Change passwords frequently and use “non-common” passwords.
  6. Behind the Curve: On average, the FTC says it takes a person 12 to 16 months to realize they have been victimized by a well-run operation. Some thieves will pay off debt for up to a year to get larger increases on loans and credit cards, then cash in when the big loans and limits come in. Other times, less knowledgeable but lucky crooks can strip your accounts in mere days: a credit card with a 10,000-dollar limit can provide a spree of less than a week.
  7. Prevention: Many small things can be done to prevent this from happening. Some ideas: get to know the people at the post office – especially in small towns. In larger towns, get to know your carrier, as well as UPS, FedEx and other delivery service drivers. If they see something that doesn't make sense they may be the first to notify you. Don’t just get a locking mailbox, but never put outgoing mail in an unsecured mailbox. Get a shredder and shred everything with a name, account number and address. Reduce exposure by paying as many bills online and getting online billing statements (only) for accounts. Limit the number of cards you have and use.
  8. Watch out: It is critical to pay attention to your finances. Look at bills for items you never purchased, calls from credit card companies increasing your credit lines, calls from bill collectors looking for payments, and mail for people other than yourself (especially in the form of credit card statements or loans). Review your bank statements: electronic banking means they don’t need to steal your checks to steal your money. Look for an unusual amount of direct mail from a particular brand or product line; this represents a large purchase on behalf of the thief putting you on a direct mail list regarding their purchase.
  9. Zip your lip: It is not necessary to give out your SSAN as much as you think. Only give it out if it is absolutely necessary, ask for alternatives. Deal only with established vendors with solid backgrounds. Never give out your mother’s maiden name unless absolutely necessary, and after verifying it is essential (look for other key questions to use).
  10. Credit, Cash, Paper, or Plastic: Be careful: excessive inquiries into your credit lower your scores making you less able to get loans for cars or homes, but you should check your credit record at least annually, and perhaps quarterly (especially if you can’t lower your vulnerability). This checks make you aware of activity regarding your SSAN and accounts, especially new ones. Look over bills carefully, and keep sales slips.
  11. Banker-Man: Establish a personal relationship with your banker – if you are using a large chain bank, pick a small branch to work with, not the main or major local office, and get to know them. At the same time, make sure that the bank uses their systems to verify “unusual” or “unexpected” changes in pattern. Protect your PIN (personal ID number) carefully: when new ones are assigned, immediately change to one that you DO NOT WRITE DOWN, at least not in a recognizable form.
  12. If It Happens: First, contact the fraud departments of all three major credit bureaus – have them flag your SSAN. Contact all your banks, and change passwords (or put them into place if you don’t have them). Notify all credit card companies, and cancel all credit cards affected by theft. Notify local authorities – the location of your residence is usually who has jurisdiction, but this may vary by state. Check with your drivers license agency to make sure that new duplicates of licenses haven’t been issued, and to see if there are tickets you “didn’t get.” If the theft appears to be local, notify the people you normally do business with, including gasoline stations, convenience stores, supermarkets, discount stores, the post office, and similar places.
  13. Business’ Responsibility: Identity theft is not your boss’s problem, but an employee struggling to get their life in order after being hit can hurt the business. The victim will be distracted, spend company time, use phones, go to court, come in late and leave early, as they work desperately to get the mess straightened out. An average victim is estimated to spend 175+ hours in the effort, which can cost up to $20,000. Employee training can help your employees, and the business.

Freedom Poetry v 1.0

There is a dearth of good liberty-oriented poetry and songs out there, and here is the first of several attempts to contribute to that lack. The first (to longtime science fiction readers) is thanks to Gordy Dickson, from whom the metre and most of the opening lines are "sincerely flattered" (and with serial numbers suitably obliterated). Opinions are earnestly sought! And a suitable title.

Freedom Poetry v 1.0

Soldier, ask not, now or ever, Why to war our banners go.
Slav’ry’s legions now surround us, Strike, and do not spare the blow.

When, at last, our freedom is won, Care we not who fired the gun?
But can we let another man pay, and from our duty turn and run?

The price of freedom’s never paid, By taking from another,
Yet there are those who fain to claim, freedom for us, and none other.

Let now our hands show blood-red tone, But throw down a broken chain.
Let us not fear what men may say, But in honor bear that stain.

And if we fail to win the fight, Death can’t our liberty claim,
Can’t deny that Tree our blood’s water, nor can it bring us to shame.

Mayhap we will fail now to win, But know well too, not give up,
Lest slaveowners’ darkness come again, Our precious freedom disrupt.

Sing not of liberty, my friend, Unless you will too make sure,
Your deeds will make this blessed land’s, Liberty more and more pure.

Can you not see just what is right? Not just our own should be free,
For liberty is God’s gift to all, That ev’ry child of God so be.

And we answer God’s just demand, for what gave He to our hands,
When we stand before the great Throne,"We kept freedom in our lands."

Home Invasion Security

I am preparing this for Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) to publish in The Price of Freedom, but would like to ask folks to take a look at it and suggest changes or ideas!

A baker’s dozen tips to preventing Home-Invasions by Nathan Barton © 2004

  1. Got Arms? : Burglars fear an armed and trained householder more than anything else, as a review of the web can tell you. Get and know how to use a pistol for self-defense, and make sure you keep it where you can find it in emergency. Practice regularly.
  2. Goodies: One simple reason your house is chosen is someone tipped off the home-invader that you have valuables. Your friends or children or baby sitter might have unintentionally bragged. Close your curtains and drapes regularly, and don’t show things off where they are easily visible from the outside or callers at the front door.
  3. Strangers: You tell your children not to talk to strangers, so why do you open the door to a total stranger?
  4. Peephole and Security Cameras: Install peepholes, talk through the door. In many places, there is a need for additional security, and inexpensive, dependable security camera systems, many web-ready, are available for low prices at Wal-Mart and other stores. But don’t depend on either cameras or peepholes – you can’t see everything.
  5. Posers: Home-invaders pose as delivery people, public workers, or people in distress. In some cases, these people moonlight as invaders – even police officers. Listen and learn what is going on in your area, and share with neighbors.
  6. Make a call: If in doubt about someone, under no circumstances do you open the door unless you get phone numbers to call their superiors. Verify the number by using the phonebook or directory assistance – don’t trust the number that the guy at the door gives you. If someone claims to be in distress tell him or her you will call the police for them.
  7. Do not call the police: If you live in a high crime area or where law enforcement takes a while to respond (much of the country), and if someone is trying to break into your house while you are in it, don’t expect the police to respond in time. Be prepared to defend yourself. Sometimes, calling the fire department will get help to the scene quicker. (Do this only if you are desperate. Firefighters are not equipped to handle violence. However squealing sirens can deter a criminal.) Better yet, call 911 and tell them you are being invaded, that you are armed, and will shoot to kill if necessary (whether you will or not) – this often gets police to respond faster.
  8. Get connected – stay connected: Consider a second line or a cell phone in your bedroom. If you use something other than dial-up, consider internet phone service. Burglars often cut phone lines outside or remove a telephone handset from the receiver when they enter a home, to prevent outgoing calls from extensions.
  9. Get alarmed: An alarm system activated while you are sleeping will prevent a burglar from getting to far. Newer alarms have cellular options, a safeguard even if the phone lines are cut.
  10. Got more arms? : In addition to lethal weapons, having a non-lethal weapon (such as a Taser or a Pepper spray) in close proximity to various places in your house, such as the front door, can debilitate your attacker before they gain control and let you get to your primary weapon.
  11. Locks and security: Call a qualified person, such as a locksmith, to take a physical security survey to help you determine the most efficient way to lock up and otherwise secure your home. There are many products on the market that only provide a false sense of security. Who is qualified? A locksmith should be a professional associated with well-known manufacturers. Security services should also have credentials, including training or military (Security Police or Military Police) experience, and should provide references.
  12. Get even more armed. Everyone in the family, from about age 6 or 7 on up, should be familiar with the weapons, security, and procedures in case of an invasion. While the safe age for a child to have their own weapons (including .22 rifles, bb guns, and knives, as well as sidearms) varies from child to child, as soon as you as their parent determine that they are responsible, have them take that responsibility. Even the youngest child should be given basic firearms training to know WHY they are not toys and WHY you do not share them with friends.
  13. Friends and neighbors. Get to know your next-door neighbors, on both sides, in back AND across the street. Keep an eye on their place, let them know if something odd is going on, and they’ll do the same for you. Wave and smile at each other, even if you aren’t the best of friends – a close-knit community can scare off would-be invaders. At the same time, don’t divulge too much information to each other about travel plans or possessions – it is easier to spill the beans about someone else than yourself.

I've gotten tired of the so-called "security experts" who never mention the true facts, and believe that the only time there should be guns in a house is when a cop shows up. So I took a checklist and severely modified it, to produce this (I also fixed a lot of grammar in rewriting it - no surprise with hoplophobes, I guess.)

Please post your comments here or send to me! Thanks.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Well, for the second day in a row, secession was some of the talk on the radio - I'll cheerfully let most of the "Blue" counties go anywhere they want, and gladly accept the loss of their tax money, their "creativeness," and their increasingly-pathetic whining.

I've long been an advocate of secession, anyway, and come by it naturally: after all, some of my ancestors seceeded when they heard about these neat things called "horses" about 600 miles to the south, and decided that the plains of Wyoming and South Dakota were not as nice a place to live as the Staked Plains. Then a hundred or so years later, some other ancestors decided that the United Kingdom could have an empire without them, and seceded together (after seceding in a way initially by emigrating). And only about sixty years later, some more of my ancestors decided that seceding from the EU de Mexico might be wise. Then, just a quarter-century later, after a foolish marriage of convenience, decided to secede from the USA - unfortunately, they should have also seceded from the CSA, and gone it alone.

So if someone wants to leave the USA, more power to them, as long as they take their ideas with them and leave those of us who just want a little peace and quiet, and a lot of freedom, to enjoy what's left. It is easier than the other way, where we have to do the seceding again - I don't know, how about the Alliance of Free Western States, anyone? I mean, I think the South has a copyright on "Confederate" and "Coalition" is being used right now, and "Commonwealth" has two copyrights (and a lot of bad history).

Well, it's an idea.

No more saving Private Ryan?

TV Stations Cancel 'Saving Private Ryan'
Associated Press
NEW YORK — Many ABC affiliates around the country have announced that they won't take part in the network's Veterans Day airing of "Saving Private Ryan," saying the acclaimed film's violence and language could draw sanctions from the Federal Communications Commission

A strawman, pure and simple. ABC has been leading up to this for at least two years, with the cooperation of CBS and Fox – claiming this is “violating” new FCC rules. If they were so afraid of the big bad FCC, they could ***bleep*** the language - no one has raised any objections to the violence, but both a warning (nobody warned anyone that Janet Jackson would be having her shirt ripped off) or a bit of editing to get the worst of the gore out (the opening scene mostly) might not butcher it too badly- certainly TV stations and networks have done worse butcher jobs to serve their own purposes in the past. [Although a friend tells me ABC’s contract with Spielberg allows no editing – an interesting clause indeed.]

But the truth is, they want to make anyone who objects to ANYTHING they air look like fools, and the entire idea that viewers should have control of content (other than through response to advertising) look bad. Sadly, most viewers who object to network content are (a) too gutless to turn the dial, and (b) so gutless that they expect the government to do what they won’t – discipline the networks by fines and punishments rather than notify the networks directly (and indirectly through advertisers) that they will not patronize a sleazy outfit. ABC and these stations aren't opposed to the FCC - they just want it to be their tool to prevent and control competition, but not TOO powerful, lest their profits be negatively effected by its limits on what they can broadcast.

At the same time, in the words of another commentator – “Ain’t guvmint grand?” The unconstitutional power of the FCC to censor anything is being used as an excuse to ignore a popular sentiment to honor veterans with an acclaimed movie.

Still, there are millions of people who live in daily fear (as these ABC stations claim to be) that something that they will innocently do will bring down on them the wrath of a totally bloated, all-controlling, big government that seeks ANY EXCUSE to expand its power at the expense of you or me. These range from the owner and operator of a small truck firm not sure about whether he can load one more pallet on his truck, a ready-mix “mom-and-pop” plant operator replacing a defective piece of machinery and running afoul of air “quality” regulations, a doctor debating whether to prescribe a new, more powerful painkiller, a husband and wife responding to a loud knock at the door late at night, a homeowner wanting to leave his grass a few inches higher than the bureaucrats downtown allow, and millions of others.

Is ANYTHING government provides worth the fear and pain that government, even at its most “benign” causes? Anything?

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Opening Post

This blog is being started, in large part, to respond to and post comments about others' blogs, and to serve as a place to get some questions asked (and answered) and some ideas bounced back and forth.
So join in!