Thursday, November 8, 2007

Repeal the AMT

Rep. Paul Ryan wants to know: Why patch the alternative minimum tax, when we can repeal it?

Friday, October 19, 2007

What Could Be Wrong...

"What could be wrong with a treaty governing the oceans championed by President George W. Bush, the secretary of the Navy and the overwhelming majority of the members of both political parties who make up the Senate Foreign Relations Committee?"

Jane Chastain answers the question.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

On Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize

Possibly the best post on this anywhere, on Power Line.

The Media Gets a Tongue-Lashing

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez gives the news media a dressing down, perhaps as thorough a dressing-down as it has ever received.

The media, of course, barely reported it, but the blogosphere, thankfully, did.

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.

Friday, October 5, 2007

LOST & the Coast Guard

If asked, would Cuban boat people support the Law of the Sea treaty?

Based on this, Mal Kline may think not.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Oklahoma Indicts People for Circulating Petitions

The Oklahoma attorney general has indicted three people for circulating a petition calling for a "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" in Oklahoma.

The potential penalty is 12 years in a state prison and a 25,500 fine.

Reg Crowder is wondering if Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmunson attended law school in North Korea.

More details on the case -- and the more you read, the more shocking it gets -- can be found here. A copy of the indictment itself is here.

Supporting General Petraeus

Under the leadership of Concerned Women for America, Americans for the Preservation of Liberty and 38 other groups are pressuring Congress to be more supportive of General Petraeus and our active duty military:
Dear United States Senators and Members of the House of Representatives:

Gen. Petraeus is an emblem of patriotism. He has willingly taken the mandate provided by the President of the United States and the U.S. Senate to serve his country in one of the most difficult missions in the world. Gen. Petraeus is admirably living up to an extremely complicated job of heading up a war effort in a dangerous region of the world.

Senators who voted unanimously to confirm Gen. Petraeus should live up to their duty to give this leader the resources and support that he needs to accomplish the mission entrusted to him.

Supporting Gen. Petraeus and U.S. troops includes condemning unwarranted attacks on the character of this good man. The vicious attack on him, his commitment to the American people and the integrity with which he leads the Multi-National Force in Iraq will go down in history as a disgrace. It will be seen not only as a reprehensible criticism of Gen. Petraeus but, by extension, those who serve under him, all members of the United States Armed Forces. It is legitimate to ask tough questions of Gen. Petraeus on his testimony but not to question his patriotism.

The Politico reported that one anonymous Democratic Senator said, “No one wants to call [Petraeus] a liar on national TV. The expectation is that the outside groups will do this for us.” It is not a stretch for Americans to believe that’s malicious assault on the honor of the commanding General of Coalition forces speaks for at least some Senators. If does not speak for you in attacking the man you chose to lead the armed forces in Iraq, the undersigned respectfully request that you go on record objecting to it and vote in favor of the Cornyn Resolution in the Senate and Boehner Resolution in the House of Representatives. These resolutions strongly condemn the personal attacks on Gen. Petraeus’ honor and integrity.

We, the undersigned, ask that you show this principled man the respect that he deserves by condemning personal attacks on his integrity and the forces he leads.

A PDF of the entire letter, with signers, can be found here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Blowing in the Wind

Classical Values says: "If we all work together to build a better future, the environment might be saved."

Too bad the local zoning regulations are in the way...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Don't Tax the Internet

Americans for the Preservation of Liberty has joined a project spearheaded by Americans for Tax Reform to urge Congress to extend the moratorium on taxes on the Internet:
September 17, 2007

Dear Member of Congress:

On behalf of millions of taxpayers, we request that Congress promptly extend the Internet Tax Freedom Act before it expires on November 1, 2007. If the moratorium is allowed to lapse, American taxpayers could be exposed to countless new and onerous taxes from states and municipalities simply for accessing the Internet.

Since 1998, Congress has ensured that Internet access is not subject to either state and local taxes or multiple and discriminatory taxes on Internet commerce, regardless of the technology consumers use to access the Internet. With the moratorium’s expiration rapidly approaching, it is imperative that Congress continue to prohibit Internet access taxes and multiple and discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce.

The Internet prospers today as the result of unshackled innovation and technological growth unfettered by government taxation or regulation. Although policies up to this point have temporarily put a hold on government interference, passing a permanent ban on Internet taxation would send a signal that the Internet is open for further growth and development. Taxing access and Internet activities would not only hinder the expansion of technology that fuels our modern economy, but it would also rebuild communication barriers among families, hamper growing businesses, and negatively impact our lives in countless ways.

The U.S. cannot afford to open the free Internet market to taxation. The time of temporary moratorium has passed. Once again we, the undersigned groups, urge you to co-sponsor and work to pass S. 156 and H.R. 743 which would permanently extend the federal moratorium on Internet access taxes.


Barbara Anderson,
Executive Director,
Citizens for Limited Taxation

John Berthoud,
National Taxpayers Union

Greg Blankenship,
Illinois Policy Institute

Chris Derry,
Bluegrass Institute

Leon Drolet,
Executive Director,
Michigan Taxpayers Alliance

Ryan Ellis,
Executive Director,
American Shareholders Association

Richard Falknor,
Executive Vice-President,
Maryland Taxpayers Association, Inc.

Colin A. Hanna,
Let Freedom Ring, Inc.

Tom Hoefling,
Idahoans for Tax Reform

Derek Hunter,
Executive Director,
Media Freedom Project

Kimberly Kuo,
Executive Director,

David A. Keene,
The American Conservative Union

Matt Kibbe,

Thomas P. Kilgannon,
Freedom Alliance

Phil Krinkie,
Taxpayers League of Minnesota

Chris Lilik,
Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania

Jeffrey Mazzella,
Center for Individual Freedom

John McClaughry,
Ethan Allen Institute

Tom McClusky,
Vice President of Government Affairs,
Family Research Council

Chuck Muth,
Citizen Outreach

Grover Norquist,
Americans for Tax Reform

Tim Phillips,
Americans for Prosperity

C. Preston Noell III,
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.

Andrew Quinlan,
Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Amy Ridenour,
Vice Chairman,
Americans for the Preservation of Liberty

Lori Roman,
Executive Director,
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

Richard O. Rowland,
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

Thomas A. Schatz,
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Curt Smith,
Indiana Family Institute

Fred L. Smith, Jr.,
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Pat Toomey,
The Club for Growth

Mead Treadwell,
Alaskans for Tax Reform

Steve Voeller,
Arizona Free Enterprise Club

Mark Warden,
Budget Watch Nevada

Paul M. Weyrich,
National Chairman,
Coalitions for America

Jason Wright,
Institute for Liberty Internet Freedom Coalition

Friday, September 14, 2007

The PAC Fairness Act of 2007

It's wrong for the federal government to restrict an American citizen's right to contribute his own funds to the political causes of his choice. The right to contribute to a political cause with which one agrees is akin to the rights of free speech and free association.

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland has introduced H. R. 3492, the PAC Fairness Act of 2007, to raise limits on the amount of contributions that may be made to political committees, and to index such limits to inflation.

This bill makes sense, and deserves support.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

APL Joins Coalition Opposing New National Heritage Areas

The following letter -- signed by a diverse group of more than 110 organizations, elected officials and citizens -- was delivered on September 4 to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader John Boehner, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Pete V. Domenici, House Committee on Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Don Young as well as all the members of the House and Senate Natural Resources Committees.

Dear [Elected Official]:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Kelo v. City of New London ignited a national outcry against government abuse of property rights. The "bridge to nowhere" and other wasteful programs triggered angry protests against the practice of earmarking.

National heritage areas are the Kelo decision and earmarks rolled into one.

National heritage areas are preservation zones where land use and property rights can be restricted. They give the National Park Service and preservation interest groups (many with histories of hostility toward property rights) substantial influence by giving them the authority to create land use "management plans" and then the authority to disburse federal money to local governments to promote their plans.

As a March 2004 General Accountability Office report on heritage areas states: "[National heritage areas] encourage local governments to implement land use policies that are consistent with the heritage areas' plans, which may allow the heritage areas to indirectly influence zoning and land use planning in ways that could restrict owners' use of their property."

The proposed "Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act" provides a good case study on how heritage areas can be self-perpetuating federal pork and influence projects.

The chief lobbying organization for this heritage area, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, received a one million-dollar earmark in the 2005 federal transportation bill at the behest of Members of Congress sponsoring legislation to establish this heritage area - an earmark that was granted before the organization was even incorporated. A million-dollar earmark thus was issued to help create a steady stream of future pork, at the expense of the rights of local landowners.

We believe zoning and land use policies are best left to local officials, who are directly accountable to the citizens they represent. National heritage areas corrupt the principle of representative government and this inherently local function by giving unelected, unaccountable special interests the authority to develop land management plans and federal money with which to finance their efforts.

Once established, National heritage areas become permanent units of the National Park Service, and as such, permanent drains on an agency that currently suffers a multibillion-dollar maintenance crisis. According to the GAO, "sunset provisions have not been effective in limiting federal funding [for National Heritage Areas]: since 1984, five areas that reached their sunset dates received funding reauthorization from the Congress."

Supporters of new heritage areas have the public will precisely backward: Americans want stronger property rights protections and less pork-barrel spending - not more earmarks to programs that harm property rights.

Please do not support the creation of additional national heritage areas or federal funding for heritage area management entities, support groups, or groups that lobby for or advocate the creation of new heritage areas.


David Ridenour
Vice President
National Center for Public Policy Research

J. William Lauderback
Executive Vice President
The American Conservative Union

John Berthoud
National Taxpayers Union

Paul Poister
Executive Director
Partnership for the West

Larry Pratt
Executive Director
Gun Owners of America

William Niemeyer
City of West Alton, MO

Ryan Ellis
Executive Director
American Shareholders Association

Peter Flaherty
National Legal and Policy Center

Steve Snow
Loudoun County, VA

Carol W. LaGrasse
Property Rights Foundation of America

Tom DeWeese
American Policy Center

Rachel Thomas
Property Rights Advocate
Huachuca City, AZ

Rose Ellen Ray
Treasurer, Citizens for Property Rights
Loudoun County, VA

Paul Driessen
Senior Policy Advisor
Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise

Maxine Korman
Korman Ranch
Hinsdale, Montana

Gerald Hobbs
Public Lands for the People

John Grigsby
Vice President
Taxpayers for Accountable Government

Don Parmeter
Executive Director
American Property Coalition

Leo Schwartz
Virginia Land Rights Coalition

Pat King
Anvil Ranch
Tucson, AZ

Tom Borelli, Ph.D.
Portfolio Manager
Free Enterprise Action Fund

John and Connie Morris
Members, Tongue River Watershed Alliance, and MT and WY Farm Bureaus

Brad VanDyke
Rural Utahns for Local Solutions

Jerry Hamilton
Environmental Coordinator
Formation Capital Corporation

F. Patricia Callahan
President and General Counsel
American Assoc. of Small Property Owners

Erich Veyhl
Maine Property Rights News

Dane vonBreichenruchardt
U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation

Mark Williamson
Founder and President
Federal Intercessors

New Mexico Federal Lands Council

New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc.

Beth Machens
Board of Aldermen
City of West Alton, MO

Janet M. Neustadt
Board of Aldermen
City of West Alton, MO

William J. Richter
Board of Aldermen
City of West Alton, MO

Deborah Anderson
City of West Alton, MO

Susan Silk
City Clerk
City of West Alton, MO

Charlotte Meyers
Assistant Administrator
City of West Alton, MO

Ora B. Anderson, Jr.
Planning and Zoning Commission
City of West Alton, MO

Ray Ponciroli
Board of Aldermen
City of Portage, MO

Paul M. Weyrich
National Chairman
Coalitions for America

Tom McClusky
Vice President of Government Affairs
Family Research Council

Jay Lehr
Science Director
The Heartland Institute

Jim Martin
60 Plus Association

Bill Moshofsky
Vice President
Oregonians In Action

Niger Innis
National Spokesman
Congress of Racial Equality

Gregory Cohen
President and CEO
American Highway Users Alliance

Richard Falknor
Executive Vice President
Maryland Taxpayers Association, Inc.

Linda C. Runbeck
American Property Coalition

Thomas K. Remington
Managing Editor
U.S. Hunting Today

Lew Uhler
National Tax Limitation Committee

Jon Caldara
Independence Institute

Dan Byfield
American Land Foundation

John Taylor
Tertium Quids

Susan Carlson
Chairman and CEO
American Civil Rights Union

Gary Palmer
Alabama Policy Institute

Lenore Hardy Barrett
State Representative

Jonathan DuHamel
People for the West-Tucson

Jack and Patricia Shockey
President and Director
Citizens for Property Rights

Fred Grau
Executive Director
Take Back Pennsylvania

Mike Dail
American Land Foundation

Chuck Cushman
American Land Rights Association

James Stergios
Executive Director
Pioneer Institute

Deneen Borelli
Project 21

Marilyn Hayman
Chairman, Citizens for Responsible Zoning and Landowner Rights

Bruce Colbert
Executive Director, Property Owners Association of Riverside County, CA

Randall and Ruth Lillard
Farmers and Landowners
Madison County, VA

Joyce Morrison
Farmer and Agricultural Environmentalist
Fieldon, IL

Donald Castellucci, Jr.
Councilman, Town of Owego
Tioga County, NY

Milari Madison
Property Owner
Loudoun County, VA

Robert L. Sansom
Farmer and Landowner
Madison County, VA

Mary E. Darling
Sonoita, AZ

James Vadnais
Port Angeles, WA

Floyd Rathbun
Fallon, Nevada

Steven and Peggy Breen
Boise, Idaho

Peggy Bogart
Access Advocate

Dan Goulet
Portland, OR

Susan Freis Falknor
Bluemont, VA

Fred L. Smith
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Matt Kibbe

Mychal Massie
Advisory Council Chairman
Project 21

Steve Baldwin
Executive Director
Council for National Policy Action, Inc.

Caren Cowen
Executive Director
New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association

Randy T. Simmons
Mayor, Providence City, UT
Professor, Utah State University

Donald E. Wildmon
Founder and Chairman
American Family Association

Leroy Watson
Legislative Director
National Grange

Kelsey Zahourek
Executive Director
Property Rights Alliance

Roy Cordato, Ph.D.
VP for Research and Resident Scholar
John Locke Foundation

C.J. Hadley
Range Magazine

Elizabeth Arnold
Grassroots Consultant, Environmental Community Outreach Services, Juneau, AK

Greg Blankenship
Illinois Policy Institute

Bill Wilson
Americans for Limited Government

Jane Hogan
Ontario Hardwood Company, Inc.

Katherine Lehman
People for the USA Grange #835

Howard Hutchinson
Executive Director
Coalition of Arizona/New Mexico Counties

C. Preston Noell III
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.

Dr. William Greene

Leo T. Bergeron
Upper Mid-Klamath Watershed Council

Eugene Delgaudio
Public Advocate of the U.S., Inc.

Leri M. Thomas, Ph.D.
Charter Member
Virginians for Property Rights

John McClaughry
Ethan Allen Institute

Richard O. Rowland
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

James W. Jarrell, Sr.
Board Member
Virginia Bear Hunters Association

Harold L. Stephens
Citizens to Protect the Confluence

Jerry Fennell
Jicarilla Mining District

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow
National Center for Public Policy Research

Judy Keeler
Bootheel Heritage Assoc. (Animas, NM)

Alexandra H. Mulkern
Mechanicsville, MD

Lee Riddle
Brookings, OR

Stephen L. Ralston
Columbia, PA

Mark Pollot
Boise, ID

Billy Jean Redemeyer-Roney

D.J. McCarthy
Civil Engineer

Clifton McDonald
Needles, CA

Kirk and Jeri Hansen
Clayton, ID

Suzanne Volpe
Sterling, VA

Amy Ridenour
Americans for the Preservation of Liberty

More information about the project can be found at this link.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

SourceWatch Lists Us In Group We Didn't Join

We see on SourceWatch, an imaginative "wiki" style website sponsored by the leftish Center for Media & Democracy, that Americans for the Preservation of Liberty is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition, a network of organizations organized by the non-profit group Consumer Alert in 1997 to examine the impact of proposed global warming regulations on consumers.

Without any disrepect intended toward the fine work of the Cooler Heads Coalition, we were surprised to see that SourceWatch reports APL as a member of Cooler Heads, as, as far as we know, Consumer Alert closed about the time Americans for the Preservation of Liberty was founded.

60 Groups Demand Statesmanship from Senate

Americans for the Preservation of Liberty has joined 59 other groups in demanding that the U.S. Senate take more seriously its responsibility to evaluate and confirm judges to the federal judiciary:
July 25, 2007

The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy
The Honorable Arlen Specter
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
The Honorable Sam Brownback
The Honorable Benjamin L. Cardin
The Honorable Tom Coburn
The Honorable John Cornyn
The Honorable Richard J. Durbin
The Honorable Russell D. Feingold
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
The Honorable Lindsey Graham
The Honorable Charles E. Grassley
The Honorable Orrin G. Hatch
The Honorable Edward M. Kennedy
The Honorable Herb Kohl
The Honorable Jon Kyl
The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
The Honorable Jeff Sessions
The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse

United States Senate
U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC

Dear Senators,

We and the organizations we represent are deeply concerned about the Senate Judiciary Committee’s lack of progress in reporting judicial nominees out of committee. This is particularly pronounced for U.S. Courts of Appeal nominees, and has made it impossible for the Senate to fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent in good faith. The broken promises and personal attacks on nominees that have accompanied this inaction – as well as the unfairness of denying qualified nominees a fair up-or-down vote by the full Senate – only add to the public perception that your committee is not living up to its responsibilities.

That approval ratings for the 110th Congress are among the lowest in history is a testament to the American people’s concern that their elected representatives are more interested in partisan politics and politically driven investigations than in making progress on the issues citizens really care about. The American people want you to do your job, and among the most important responsibilities of the Judiciary Committee are processing and voting on the President’s judicial nominees. We respectfully request that you take this responsibility seriously, including putting statesmanship above politics and special interests.

More than six months into this Congress, the Judiciary Committee has held hearings for only four appeals court nominees, and has voted on only three such nominees. At that pace, the Senate will fall far short of the historical average of 17 circuit court confirmations during a president’s last two years in office. That average was maintained during the Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton presidencies, despite the fact that the opposition party controlled the Senate. The American people expect no less from this Senate and do not want the Judiciary Committee to stand in the way. Fortunately, the historical average can be achieved if you and your colleagues are willing to eschew partisan politics in favor of fairness and fulfilling your constitutional duty.

Instead, five appeals court nominees – three of them waiting to fill vacancies declared “judicial emergencies” – and 14 district court nominees are languishing in the Judiciary Committee. Four additional appeals court nominations have just been announced. Several nominees have been waiting for more than a year for the committee to do its job. In some cases, the nominees are being subjected to obstruction borne of partisan politics. In other cases, the Judiciary Committee has fallen behind because it insists on holding hearings for judicial nominees just once a month.

Among those appeals court nominees being blocked in the Judiciary Committee is Judge Leslie Southwick, an Iraq War veteran rated “unanimously well-qualified” by the American Bar Association. Unfortunately, Judge Southwick has been the target of an ugly campaign of character assassination by liberal special interest groups. It is very telling that, despite sifting through nearly 7000 cases Southwick voted on during 12 years on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, his critics are basing their opposition on two opinions he didn’t write.

If the nomination of Leslie Southwick is allowed to die in committee, it will be a loss to both the federal bench and the reputation of the Judiciary Committee. The American people will ask why you put the demands of special interest groups above the fair treatment of a man who interrupted a highly successful career to serve his country in Iraq.

The impact of the judges issue on Senate campaigns in 2002 and 2004 demonstrated that the public is watching. Americans want to see progress rather than hear explanations for why you were unable to rise above politics. They do not want to hear that inaction in the Judiciary Committee is the White House’s fault for failing to name nominees for some of the vacancies. In fact, calls for the White House to speed up the pace of nominations are undercut when you allow those already nominated to languish in the Judiciary Committee.

The American people are equally unsympathetic to the claim that certain nominees cannot get a hearing because of the Judiciary Committee’s arcane “blue slip” policy. That policy is rightfully perceived as serving senators rather than the public. Because the policy exists entirely at the discretion of the committee chairman, blame for the resulting delays cannot credibly be laid outside the committee.

President Bush fulfilled his constitutional duty by nominating the outstanding men and women who await action in the Judiciary Committee. We respectfully request that you allow the Senate to fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent, by ensuring that each and every judicial nominee is given a hearing and is reported out of committee for consideration by the full Senate in a timely manner. If you cannot support a particular nominee, vote him or her out of committee without a positive recommendation, or vote against confirmation. But please do not deny the nominee a fair up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. In other words, we ask only that you do your job by putting statesmanship above politics and special interests.


Curt Levey
Executive Director
Committee for Justice

Jim Martin
60 Plus Association

Diane Gramley
American Family Association of Pennsylvania

Jim Backlin
Vice President for Legislative Affairs
Christian Coalition of America

Paul M. Weyrich
National Chairman
Coalitions for America

Kay R. Daly
Coalition for a Fair Judiciary

Wendy Wright
Concerned Women for America

Richard A. Viguerie

Phyllis Schlafly
President and Founder
Eagle Forum

Tony Perkins
Tom McClusky
Vice President of Government Affairs
Family Research Council

Brian Burch

Tom Minnery
Senior Vice President of Government and Public Policy
Focus on the Family

Mary E. Bliss
Director of Special Projects
Illinois Citizens for Life

James Bopp Jr.
General Counsel
James Madison Center for Free Speech

Wendy E. Long
General Counsel
Gary Marx
Executive Director
Judicial Confirmation Network

Tom Fitton
Judicial Watch

Kristian M. Mineau
Massachusetts Family Institute

Douglas Reaume
Owner and Director
Michigan Catholic Radio

Father Frank Pavone
National Director
Priests for Life

Mychal Massie
Project 21

Randy Brinson
Redeem the Vote

Cathy Herron
South Carolina
Andrea Lafferty
Executive Director
Traditional Values Coalition

Dr. Carl Herbster

Gary J. Palmer
Alabama Policy Institute

Susan A. Carleson
Chairman & CEO
American Civil Rights Union

Dr. Don Wildmon
Founder & Chairman
American Family Association

Micah Clark
Executive Director
American Family Association of Indiana

Gary Glenn
American Family Association of Michigan

Mark Chmura
Executive Director
Americans for the Preservation of Liberty

Jeffrey Mazzella
Center for Individual Freedom

Michael S. Heath
Executive Director
Christian Civic League of Maine

Samuel B. Casey
Executive Director & CEO
Christian Legal Society

Phil Burress
Citizens for Community Values

Robert R. Galbreath
Citizens for a Constitutional Republic

Tom Shields
Coalition for Marriage and Family

Karen Testerman
Executive Director
Cornerstone Policy Research

Alan Chambers
Exodus International

Kent Ostrander
Executive Director
Family Foundation of Kentucky

Maurine Proctor
Family Leader Network

John Stemberger
President and General Counsel
Florida Family Policy Council

Kelly Shackelford
Free Market Foundation

Christine Carmouche

Bryan Fischer
Executive Director
Idaho Values Alliance

Ron Shuping
Executive Vice President of Programming
Inspiration Networks

Anita Staver
Liberty Counsel

Hiram Sasser
Director of Litigation
Liberty Legal Institute

Mathew D. Staver
Dean and Professor of Law
Liberty University School of Law

Dr. Patricia McEwen
Life Coalition International

Forest Thigpen
Mississippi Center for Public Policy

Deal W. Hudson
Morley Institute

Amy Ridenour
National Center for Public Policy Research

Steven W. Fitschen
National Legal Foundation

Richard J. Howell
Natural Rights and Laws Compact

Pastor Russell Johnson
Ohio Restoration Project

Carmen Pate
Point of View radio talk show

Dr. William Greene

Dr. Rick Scarborough
Vision America Action

Victor Williams
Assistant Professor of Law (Catholic University of America)
Washington, DC

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Nanny State v. the Poor

Gerald Prante of the Tax Foundation takes a look at the way the federal nanny state seems to be going out of its way to put taxes on the poor.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Open Letter on Competitiveness

As noted in this article in Tax and Budget News, Americans for the Preservation of Liberty has joined other organizations in opposing two Senate proposals we believe would hurt American competitiveness:
The Honorable Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Paulson:

We are writing to express our concern about two Senate proposals that would undermine American competitiveness, discriminate against developing nations, and compromise the U.S. commitment to free trade in financial services.

Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota has proposed S. 396, a bill which targets American companies operating in selected low-tax jurisdictions and strips away their ability to postpone the imposition of a second layer of tax on their foreign-source income. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan has proposed S. 681, a bill which imposes a wide range of taxes, regulations, and penalties on American taxpayers operating in selected low-tax jurisdictions.

Both of these pieces of legislation are deeply flawed. They share a common premise that the U.S. government should adopt an adversarial position against jurisdictions with pro-growth tax policy. Specific flaws include:

Both bills will undermine American competitiveness. Only U.S. taxpayers seeking to operate in low-tax jurisdictions will be penalized by these proposals. Foreign taxpayers will be able to benefit from good tax policy in these jurisdictions, while American taxpayers will suffer a competitive disadvantage. The United States will lose market share, causing a drop in jobs and exports.
Both bills create discriminatory blacklists. Senator Dorgan's legislation singles out 40 jurisdictions for discriminatory treatment, while Senator Levin's bill targets 34 nations and territories. Exactly 75 percent of the jurisdictions blacklisted in S. 396 and more than 75 percent of the jurisdictions blacklisted in S. 681 are in the developing world. Neither bill targets wealthy nations such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and the United Kingdom, even though they all have "tax haven" policies, and Senator Dorgan's bill omits Luxembourg and Switzerland.
Both bills violate America's trade obligations. The United States wisely supports free trade in services, a policy which unambiguously promotes the national interest. Unfortunately, S. 396 and S. 681 both would impose protectionist barriers and almost surely put America in violation of its World Trade Organization obligations. Equally worrisome, the proposals would invite other nations to target the United States, particularly since America's own "tax haven" policies for foreign investors have helped attract more than $10 trillion to the U.S. economy.
We urge you to protect America's self-interest and oppose proposals that seek to thwart tax competition and penalize good tax policy in other jurisdictions. The United States is not a decrepit, high-tax European welfare state, yet this legislation is akin to the noxious tax harmonization schemes concocted in various European nations.

If some lawmakers are concerned that American taxpayers are shifting economic activity to low-tax jurisdictions because of better tax law, they should respond by fixing some of the laws in the Internal Revenue Code, many of which were identified by the President's Advisory Panel on Tax Reform.

We look forward to working with you and hope that you will resist anti-competitive, discriminatory, and protectionist proposals that are contrary to good economic policy.


Andrew F. Quinlan ~ President, Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation

Veronique de Rugy ~ Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

Grover Norquist ~ President, Americans for Tax Reform

John Berthoud ~ President, National Taxpayers Union

Ashley Miller ~ Director of Congressional and Public Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Matt Kibbe ~ President, FreedomWorks

Pat Toomey ~ President, Club for Growth

Fred L. Smith Jr. ~ President, Competitive Enterprise Institute

Karen Kerrigan ~ President and CEO, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Thomas Schatz ~ President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Tim Kane ~ Director, Center for International Trade and Economics, The Heritage Foundation

David A. Keene ~ Chairman, American Conservative Union

James L. Martin ~ President, 60 Plus Association

Gary Palmer ~ President, Alabama Policy Institute

Ryan Ellis ~ Executive Director, Alliance for Worker Freedom

Lori Roman ~ Executive Director, American Legislative Exchange Council

Daniel Clifton ~ Executive Director, American Shareholders Association

Tim Phillips ~ President, Americans for Prosperity

Mark Chmura ~ Executive Director, Americans for the Preservation of Liberty

Steve Voeller ~ President, Arizona Free Enterprise Club

Terrence Scanlon ~ President, Capital Research Center

Jeffrey Mazzella ~ President, Center for Individual Freedom

Chuck Muth ~ President, Citizen Outreach Project

Chip Faulkner ~ Associate Director, Citizens for Limited Taxation (MA)

Stephen Manfredi ~ Communications Director, Coalition to Protect Free Markets

Mallory Factor ~ Chairman, The Free Enterprise Fund

Michelle D. Bernard ~ President and CEO, Independent Women's Forum

Kerri Houston ~ Senior Fellow, Institute for Liberty

Tom Giovanetti ~ President, Institute for Policy Innovation

Stephen J. Entin ~ President, Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation

Dr. Don Racheter ~ Moderator, Iowa Wednesday Group

J. Robert McClure, III ~ President and CEO, James Madison Institute

Colin A. Hanna ~ President, Let Freedom Ring

Richard Falknor ~ Executive Vice-President, Maryland Taxpayers Association

Amy Ridenour ~ President, National Center for Public Policy Research

Lewis K. Uhler ~ President, National Tax Limitation Committee

Sharon J. Rossie ~ President, Nevada Policy Research Institute

Fred Lane ~ Chairman, New York Tax Reform Organization

Bill Sizemore ~ Executive Director, Oregon Taxpayers United

Sally C. Pipes ~ President and CEO, Pacific Research Institute

Bob Bauman ~ Legal Counsel, Sovereign Society

David M Strom ~ President, Taxpayers League of Minnesota

Roland Boucher ~ Chairman, United Californians for Tax Reform

Charles W. Jarvis ~ Chairman, United Seniors Association

John Taylor ~ President, Virginia Institute for Public Policy

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Drug of Choice

From Janice Rogers Brown, by way of Booker Rising, a nice quote.

Hat tip: What If?.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Addition Request Leads to Extortion Demands

As conditions for granting a building permit, the Washington County, Oregon government demanded that Grimm's Fuel Company pay it $1,200 up front, build concrete sidewalks and make various other public works improvements.

Addition Request Leads to Extortion Demands

Grimm's Fuel Company specializes in landscaping, heating and yard debris recycling services in and around Washington County, Oregon. In May of 2000, owner Jeff Grimm applied to the City of Tualatin for a building permit to add a 7,200 square-foot extension to house an additional three employees and store extra office supplies. The permit was readily approved by city officials, but officials from Washington County intervened before Grimm received the permit. The County made additional demands for an extraordinary number of conditions they said had to be met before Grimm could begin construction.

County demands included the payment of a $1,200 administrative deposit, installing concrete sidewalks along the business' property, eliminating one of three accesses to the county-owned Cipole Road (accesses Grimm had maintained for decades) and dedicating an additional right-of-way for "adequate corner radius" at the intersection of Cipole Road and Highway 99.

Grimm contended that all of the demands were expenses the county should pay for, and that he should not be required to incur the costs of the changes just to receive a building permit.

Tualatin officials reviewed the county demands, but refused to impose them. City officials argued that the addition to Grimm's property in no way required such radical changes.

The architectural review of Grimm's proposed addition, prepared by Tualatin officials, said: "The county has also required that right-of-way be dedicated along SW Cipole Road and that a sidewalk be installed along the property's frontage... The county has not submitted any findings supporting their requirements. Therefore, [Tualatin officials] are not recommending that these requirements be included as conditions of approval for this development." The city government, however, did not aggressively challenge county officials' continued assertion that the permit fell under their jurisdiction due to Grimm's county road access. This left Grimm at the mercy of county government and hostage to their demands.

After two years of negotiations with Washington County officials failed to reach an agreement, Grimm decided to officially apply for a county building permit. Since the problems revolved around the county's demands regarding the city permit, Grimm thought that applying directly to the county might force a resolution. But county officials refused to let him apply for a permit, creating legal standing for Grimm to file a lawsuit to force the county to take action. This led to a settlement before the case went to trial. The settlement allowed Tualatin officials to grant Grimm his building permit by waiving the condition for him to obtain an access permit from the County. Grimm's addition was finally completed as initially approved - without the county's conditions.

Sources: Oregonians in Action Legal Center, Dave Hunnicutt, Jeff Grimm, City of Tualatin Planning Department

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

Reprinted with permission from The National Center for Public Policy Research.

Tiny Shack Prevents Development of Valuable Land

photo credit: Ryan Balis

For over two decades, a developer battled Washington, D.C. officials for permission to replace a so-called "historic" run-down shack - which the developer owned - with commercial and residential units for the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Tiny "Historic" Shack Prevents Development of Valuable Land

Capitol Hill is home to some of the most valuable real estate in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Since the 1970s, however, militant preservationists have prevented the development of a number of very valuable plots under the guise of protecting a form of run-down shack they call a "shotgun house."

Larry Quillian purchased ten adjacent, mostly-vacant lots on the 1200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast more than 25 years ago. He planned to remove the remaining structures and construct two-story buildings for retail tenants and residents. Quillian found his dreams for the land destroyed by a 1978 law - passed after he bought the land but before construction had started - that declared the entire Capitol Hill neighborhood a historic district.

Historic district rules dictate that new projects involving demolition of existing buildings must be beneficial to the neighborhood. To meet this requirement, Quillian planned a mixed-use development that would consist of ground-floor retail and second-floor residential units - exactly the type of structures city planning officials have urged developers to build for the last 30 years.

But the Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS) took issue with Quillian's plan because it necessitated the demolition of a so-called "shotgun house," a tiny one-story residence so-named because a single shotgun blast through the front door would easily exit through the back window. Insisting that the ramshackle structure was an important piece of the "historic fabric of the community," the CHRS brought Quillian's project to the attention of the city's Historic Preservation Review Board in 1987, which shot down his proposal to build the commercial and residential units.

Quillian then offered to give the shotgun house to the CHRS for free two years later. He proposed a deal in which the CHRS would be able to restore and use the house as it saw fit while Quillian retained control of the lot. CHRS officials rejected Quillian's offer on the grounds that the deal was bad for the CHRS from an investment standpoint, but they continued to insist that Quillian restore and maintain the shotgun house, doing so with his own money.

Quillian refused to pay the estimated $300,000 that would be needed to preserve the run-down shotgun house. Since he was unable to remove it and develop the property, its condition gradually worsened. Quillian hoped the city would demolish the shack due to sanitation concerns. The Washington, D.C. City Council, however, passed a law in 2001 specifically aimed at preventing "demolition by neglect." Under the new law, the city is given the ability to use taxpayer dollars to restore and refurbish broken-down properties and then bill the properties' owners. The Historic Preservation Review Board decided to use Quillian's property as a test case for the previously unenforced law.

Quillian, who had no intention of paying for the restoration of the shotgun house, did not plan on giving in to the demands of the CHRS or the Review Board. "I don't really care anymore," he explained. "I don't have to develop the site. I can always give it to my grandchildren and let them battle the Restoration Society for the next 30 years."

Although Quillian had been waiting to see if the District of Columbia would try to restore the shack and bill him for the repairs, it appears this will not be necessary. A Texas development company decided to purchase the house from him. It plans to include the old structure among new apartments it is constructing in the area.

Sources: Washington City Paper (November 1, 2002), The Hill (September 11, 2002; November 13, 2002; May 18, 2005), JPI Development Co.

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**


$58,000 Spent Fighting Over a Treehouse

photo credit:

The government of Clinton, Mississippi goes after a family's treehouse, after granting a permit to build. Case ends up before the Mississippi Supreme Court.

$58,000 Spent Fighting Over a Treehouse

Two anonymous complaints about a treehouse have cost a Clinton, Mississippi homeowner at least $28,000 in legal fees and local taxpayers about $30,000 in a fight to have a playhouse torn down.

In early 1997, Mary Welch sought and received permission from the city's permit department to build a treehouse - a structure that is not defined by city ordinances - in her front yard. After receiving the two anonymous complaints in 2002, however, Clinton Mayor Rosemary G. Aultman ordered the Welch family to tear the treehouse down. The family appealed the demand to the city's planning and zoning board. Despite not being able to find any ordinance banning such structures, and the fact that 51 out of 54 neighborhood homeowners signed a petition in support of the treehouse, the board still ruled that the treehouse should be restricted from the Welchs' front or side yard. City officials also denied the Welchs' request for a conditional use permit that would have granted a special exemption and allowed the treehouse to remain in place.

The Welch family challenged the planning board's claim in Hinds County Circuit
Court, where Judge Tomie Green ruled in favor of the Welch family. In her ruling, Green pointed out that no city ordinance defines a treehouse. The city board voted to appeal the ruling to the Mississippi Supreme Court in August of 2003. However, the court sided with the Welches and will allow the treehouse to stay.

Despite the Supreme Court's finding that the city's use of the ordinance was "unconstitutionally vague," the city has not offered an apology to the Welch family nor amended the zoning ordnance. The Welch family has accumulated at least $28,000 in legal bills since the controversy began, while the city has spent roughly $30,000 on a case that most Clinton residents did not want pursued. A poll conducted by the Southern Research Group found 76 percent of registered voters in Clinton preferred that city officials resolve the issue by granting the special exemption to the Welch family. Instead, the city remained on a crusade against a treehouse, adding frustration and mounting legal bills to the Welch family while wasting taxpayer dollars.

Sources: Mary Welch,, The Clarion-Ledger (July 24, 2003; August 5, 2004)

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**


Reprinted with permission from The National Center for Public Policy Research.

City Tells Church It Must Spend $262,000

photo credit: Peyton Knight

A church in downtown Warrenton, Virginia must use local government-mandated wood instead of fiberglass to fully restore its deteriorating steeple - at a cost of $262,000 more for the church.

City Tells Church It Must Spend $262,000

For over 130 years, the Warrenton Baptist Church in Virginia has been recognized by its intricately-carved 65-foot steeple. While the structure has remained strong over the years, time and weather have taken a toll on the shingles, siding and molding. Church members proposed replacing the current wood steeple with a fiberglass replica, but city officials rejected the plan, instead demanding the church pay an estimated $262,000 more than they have budgeted to have the existing steeple fully restored with wood.

The Warrenton Architectural Review Board rejected the fiberglass steeple replacement on the grounds that the material would "clash" with the vintage appearance of the historic district in which the church was located. Church officials appealed the decision to the Warrenton Town Council, but the Council unanimously rejected their appeal. Members of the church then filed suit in the Circuit Court of Fauquier County, arguing that the decision was "arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable."

The church had preferred to spend the funds on charitable works, and even considered relocating. Ultimately, however, it decided to acquiesce to the city's demands.

Sources: Washington Post (February 22, 2004), Fauquier Citizen, Fauquier Times-Democrat

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

Reprinted with permission from The National Center for Public Policy Research.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Regulations Give Neighbors Power Over Owner's Home

In the name preserving "open space" and the "historic fabric" of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, a group of preservationist elitists stop a homeowner - for three years - from adding modest additions to her historic home to meet her family's needs.

Arbitrary Regulations Give Neighbors More Power than Homeowner Over Home

Amy Bayer adores her stately home in the Old Town Historic District of Alexandria, Virginia. Built around 1815, its red brick walls and historic architectural design compliment the neighborhood. The only drawback is that the house isn't big enough for her family's needs. Yet when Bayer sought to add onto her home, she discovered that her neighbors believed they should have the final word on her plans. Worse, they possessed the means to create a bureaucratic nightmare for Bayer if she didn't bow to their wishes.

Bayer purchased her home in 1994. In 2001, she decided to build a guest room and a family room to accommodate her children. After consulting the city's design guidelines on home additions, she submitted plans to Alexandria's Board of Architectural Review (BAR), which must grant approval to changes on historic properties. Bayer and her architect were careful to harmonize their plans with the historic fabric of Old Town Alexandria. They kept the plans within the architectural style of the rest of the home and met all regular zoning requirements. While most of her neighbors supported her plans, the neighbors on the side of the property where the addition would be built - Lawrence and Ashley O'Connor - believed the addition would hurt the historic district by "shrink[ing] the limited open space in the neighborhood." While this concern may be true for most Old Town properties, the Bayer property is uncommon because the house sits on a spacious, multi-lot parcel of land. Nonetheless, the BAR rejected Bayer's plans after the O'Connors and local preservationists voiced their opposition at hearings and public forums.

Bayer appealed the BAR decision to Alexandria's City Council, arguing that her home was no different from hundreds of others in Old Town approved for similar improvements in the past. The City Council agreed with Bayer and approved her plans. The O'Connors and the preservationists appealed the decision in state court, contending that the Alexandria City Council failed to use proper standards when it decided the case. In May of 2003, Alexandria Circuit Court Judge Donald Haddock ruled against Bayer and ordered the City Council to rehear the case. At that point, Bayer sought a compromise by seeking BAR permission to build a free-standing addition connected to the house by a covered walkway. This idea was based on the notion that the BAR justified its original denial not with concern for open space, but on the grounds that any "demolition or encapsulation" (the tearing down of walls or closing in of original architecture) of the house - no matter how minor - threatens the goals of the historic district. Bayer offered this compromise despite the fact that the BAR routinely approves "demolition and encapsulation" plans similar to her original plans.

The O'Connors and preservationists again threatened to block Bayer's plans. Not wanting to delay her addition any longer, Bayer capitulated. She submitted yet another new plan to the BAR in January of 2004 that proposed an addition on the opposite side of the house but with the same square footage as the plan submitted three years earlier. The BAR approved this new plan after her opponents dropped their legal challenge.

Three years and tens of thousands of dollars in architectural and legal fees later, Bayer was relieved that construction has finally started on the addition, but she was bitter about how cumbersome and costly Alexandria's arbitrary historic district regulations are for property owners. To help cover the cost of her fight - and highlight the inconsistency of Alexandria's laws - she is considering selling the lot on the northern side of the house (her first choice for the addition) where a brand new house could then be built by a new owner in accordance with historic district regulations. A new structure would completely obstruct the O'Connors' view and leave no remaining open space. The addition to the Bayer home that was denied by the BAR would have left 65 percent of the lot open and green.

Sources: Amy Bayer, The Washington Post (July 3, 2003; September 9, 2003)

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**


Reprinted with permission from The National Center for Public Policy Research.

Building Permits Mean Nothing in District of Columbia

The District of Columbia government halts the building of a new cellular phone tower seven months into its construction, despite having issued permits permitting construction, thereby costing its builder $250 million in various expenses and leaving area residents without adequate cellular service.

Government Approves Building Permit, Then Outlaws Construction

Residents of the Tenleytown neighborhood of northwest Washington, D.C. aren't happy with the quality of cellular phone service in their area. But when construction was started on a new tower that would improve both cellular service and television broadcasts, those same, politically-powerful residents complained to the District of Columbia City Council that the tower would be too tall. The council then halted the construction, at an estimated cost of $250 million to the tower's owner, American Towers Corporation (AT).

In March 2000, 13 city agencies approved a permit for AT to build a 756-foot tower in Tenleytown to improve cellular phone service and serve as a new broadcast tower for several local television stations. The new tower was to be constructed in an area that already contained several broadcast towers.

Seven months after issuing the permits and after the building of the tower was well underway, then-Mayor Anthony Williams ordered a halt to construction. In conjunction with that order, the City Council invalidated AT's permits by passing the "Moratorium on the Construction of Certain Telecommunications Towers Emergency Act of 2001."

The D.C. government did not condemn the AT property or offer to buy the land from AT - officials merely outlawed the completion of the tower. It remains unfinished; standing at nearly 300 feet.

AT sued the District of Columbia and Mayor Williams in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. AT argued that it was victimized by the Tenleytown residents who had the ear of local politicians and who wanted to stop the tower for aesthetic reasons. Although city officials had approved the permit to build the tower, lawyers for the city argued that AT's tower would have been too tall. AT asked for $250 million in damages to permit it to recover money the company had already invested, delayed construction costs, the cost of litigation and projected profits the company would lose by not finishing the tower.

AT did not win its case in Superior Court, and the lawsuit was subsequently rejected by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Seeing dim prospects and mounting legal bills in their federal case, AT decided not to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The company's appeals to the D.C. Office of Zoning have been equally unsuccessful.

The District of Columbia then ordered AT to remove the unfinished tower. However, the D.C. Superior Court stayed enforcement of the District's order, while a separate lawsuit brought by AT seeking damages for the unfinished tower is before the court.

Bob Morgan, vice president and general manager of AT, expressed the company's dismay in an op-ed published in the Washington Times. "What seems clear to anyone who gives some serious thought to the situation is that the administration's decision is plainly a matter of favoritism. A few members of a small, politically-important neighborhood start pumping their fists in the air and the administration springs into action."

Not only is AT out millions of dollars, but many Tenleytown residents' cellular phones still don't work well.

Sources: Washington Post (November 1, 2002), Northwest Current (March 19, 2003), Washington Times (October 23, 2000; November 30, 2003)

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

Reprinted with permission from The National Center for Public Policy Research.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Is the ADA About Money or Accessibility?

A quadriplegic man sues a Florida strip club for failing to provide a handicapped-accessible "lap dance" area.

Lap Dancing Location Leads to Lawsuit

Edward Law, who has been a quadriplegic since a diving accident in 1987, visited the Wildside Adult Sports Cabaret, a strip club in West Palm Beach, Florida, in May and June of 2002. A month later, he sued the club in U.S. District Court. He claimed it had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because the room reserved for "lap dances" was inaccessible to the disabled. Law claims that the stage where dancers perform is too high and blocks the view from his wheelchair.

In order to get a lap dance, Law did not have to sue the club. Bret Rudowsky, Wildside's general manager, said that because of Law's disability, he would have allowed Law to receive erotic private time with a dancer in other areas of the bar. Before the lawsuit was filed, Rudowsky had never received a complaint from a disabled customer.

Steve Howells of the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities believes that lawsuits should be one of the last resorts used to resolve ADA-related complaints. If a disabled person is unsatisfied with a business' accommodations, Howells says, individuals should complain to the management. Had Law done this, the club would have complied with his request. Instead, Law hired Anthony Brady, Jr., a lawyer who has sued more than 100 companies for ADA violations, to represent him in court. They filed a lawsuit requesting compliance with the law as well as an unspecified amount of money in attorney's fees. Since the only difference between what could be done in and out of court is money, suspicion was raised that the lawsuit was more about personal gain than protecting the rights of the disabled. Law also filed a lawsuit against another West Palm Beach strip club, the Landing Strip. Both of Law's suits were voluntarily dismissed in 2002.

In response to these and other ADA-related lawsuits, including a high-profile suit filed against a hotel owned by actor/director Clint Eastwood, the ADA Notification Act was introduced in February 2003 and reintroduced in June 2005. The bill would require a person to contact a business and explain how it violated the ADA's accessibility provisions before filing a lawsuit. The business would then have 90 days to correct the violation before a lawsuit can be filed.

Sources: Adult Industry News (July 15, 2002), Ragged Edge Online (July 22, 2002),, The Washington Times (February 13, 2002)

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

Reprinted with permission from The National Center for Public Policy Research.

Candy Store Owner Takes a Licking

To comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the owner of a historic California candy store is forced to build a $14,000 handicapped-accessible entrance ramp.

Candy Store Owner Takes a Licking

Lanny Rose has owned the Cottage of Sweets, a candy store in Carmel, California, for more than 24 years. He says he values every customer who visits his store, noting, "My specialty store is small enough that I make it a point to take care of each of my customers."

Constructed in 1922, the building measures just 325 square feet and is designated as historic. Due to its historical classification, Rose has always been extremely careful not to remodel or alter any structural aspect of the building without the appropriate approvals.

In March of 2003, Rose received a demand that physical changes to his building were necessary. He was being sued over his business' failure to comply with Title III provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Enacted by the federal government in 1990, the ADA - and specifically Title III - prohibits discrimination against the disabled, and requires public places and commercial facilities to meet various "accessibility standards." For Rose, the step leading into his store was the cause of the complaint.

To Rose's surprise, he and several other local business owners were being sued by Joseph Tacl, a 52-year-old handicapped man who had visited Carmel in 2002. Along with the Cottage of Sweets, Tacl - who became disabled in a car accident in 1993 - sued seven other downtown Carmel shops, claiming "numerous architectural barriers" prevented him from "fully and safely" visiting them. Gene Zweben, Tacl's attorney, called Carmel one of California's "least accessible towns." Zweben said the defendants in the cases were "businesses that my client had attempted to go to but was discriminated against because he wasn't able to go inside the way everybody else can."

Rose does not recall Tacl's visit, but says he and his employees have always tried to cater to the needs of handicapped customers seeking to patronize the store. He said, "We have our own store policy where we will go outside to assist our handicapped patrons into the store. We try to be helpful and give all the assistance that we can."

Those efforts apparently were unknown or not enough for Tacl. In his complaint to the U.S. District Court for Northern California in San Jose, Tacl claimed he received "unlawful discrimination and unfair treatment." As part of the settlement eventually reached by the parties, Rose was forced to undertake a $14,000 construction project to transform the store's circular step into a slightly ramped walkway that complies with ADA's Title III provisions. Rose's insurance company, The Hartford, also paid Tacl monetary damages. Neither side will disclose the exact amount paid in damages.

It turns out Tacl is no novice when it comes to filing ADA complaints. As of April of 2003, Tacl had filed nearly 100 lawsuits against businesses in Northern California. This identifies the potential for abuse of the law. "The ADA is supposed to provide protection for the disabled, not provide an incentive or an excuse for people to sue a small business owner," says Representative Sam Graves (R-MO). "Every time this law is abused and a frivolous lawsuit is filed, small businesses and their employees are left to pay the bill." Representative Graves' office says that during the ADA's first eight years, businesses prevailed in 92 percent of ADA cases, for a total cost to them of $309.1 million, or approximately $25,000 per lawsuit.

Sources: Statement of Representative Sam Graves (R-MO) (April 28, 2003), Carmel Pine Cone (April 4-10, 2003; July 23, 2004), The Cottage of Sweets, Gene Zweben, Lanny Rose, (April 4, 2003), U.S. Department of Justice

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

Reprinted with permission from The National Center for Public Policy Research.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Will Congress Impose Taxes on Goods Sold on the Internet?

This is bad enough from a tax-raising perspective, but even worse is the effect it would have on small businesses.

The bookkeeping involved in collecting, reporting and paying sales taxes to 50+ jurisdictions will deter many Mom and Pop Internet sales operations from operating.

Coffee Company Fined for Roasting Coffee

Coffee company spends over $30,000 fighting New York City's air pollution citation for smell of roasted coffee.

In New York City, Smelling Delicious Can Get You Fined

New York City's Gillies Coffee Co., founded in 1840 and one of the oldest coffee merchants in the United States, has built its reputation on its own delicious, fragrant brand of coffee. But not everyone likes the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee: New York City's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has cited Gillies for "polluting" the air - in an industrial area - with the smell of roasting coffee.

Incredibly, the DEP ruled that the "fugitive odors" coming from the Brooklyn business - namely, the smell of roasting coffee - is an illegal air pollutant that violates the New York City Air Pollution Control Code. Hy Chabbott, the co-owner of Gillies, has agreed to pay the $400 fine but says it will be impossible for the company to meet the DEP's demand that they completely eliminate the coffee smell in the future.

"Research has shown that coffee smells like coffee. There is nothing that can reasonably be done to separate the natural smell of already roasted coffee from a coffee business," explained Donald Schoenholt, president of Gillies. "Under the current interpretation [of the NYC Air Pollution Control Code]," Schoenholt asserted, "shoe stores, barber shops, doctor's offices and flower shops are all in violation of the law."

Gillies was convicted of the violation on April 2, 2003 by the city's Environmental Control Board, the municipal administrative court run by the DEP. The matter cost the company over $30,000 on legal bills. Schoenholt is constantly aware that his company could be fined again, because the law has not been taken off the books.

"Once it has been established that you are a polluter either through conviction or because you admit guilt by paying a fine," Schoenholt told the Tea & Coffee Trade Journal, "you are on the slippery slope. It's only a matter of time before you're forced to move your business from New York City."

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, New York City's DEP has also fined pickle companies, bagel bakeries, and doughnut shops for aroma violations.

Schoenholt says: "It's really hard to live like this as a business owner. I don't know if I'm going to be in business in one year, in five years. I can't really put a dollar amount on the harm that's been done."

Sources: Reuters (April 22, 2003), Donald Schoenholt, Tea & Coffee Trade Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer (April 26, 2003)

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

Reprinted with permission from The National Center for Public Policy Research.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Smoking Bans Hurt Small Neighborhood Restaurants and Bars Most

New York's smoking ban closes popular Buffalo bar and restaurant, leaving nearly 20 employees without work.

Small Neighborhood Restaurants and Bars Hurt Most by Smoking Bans

The Royal Pheasant, a popular bar and restaurant in Buffalo, New York since 1944, has permanently closed its doors.

Owner Jacqueline O'Brien says her establishment was forced out of business by a drastic decline in customers attributed to a statewide smoking ban. Like many other New York restaurant and bar owners, O'Brien contends that such establishments have the right to decide its own smoking policies.

The closing of the Royal Pheasant forced nearly 20 people out of work. While the smoking ban contains a provision allowing businesses to apply for a waiver, very few establishments have actually been able to acquire one.

Besides the Royal Pheasant, nine other Erie County bars and restaurants closed soon after the ban went into place. Small neighborhood restaurants have been the most adversely affected by the ban. Patrick H. Hoak of the Innkeepers Association of Western New York has reported that some of the smaller bars and restaurants that have not closed have experienced drops in sales of 50 percent.

Sources: The Buffalo News (December 9, 2003; January 25, 2004; October 2, 2004), Innkeepers Association of Western New York, New York State Department of Health

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

Reprinted with permission from The National Center for Public Policy Research.

Smoking Bans Hurt Small Business

Delaware's indoor public smoking ban cost one establishment 70 percent of its business and a $350 fine from the state's health department.

Small Business in Financial Trouble After Delaware Smoking Law Forces Patrons Across State Lines

The Delaware legislature has outlawed smoking in all public enclosed indoor areas. This ban extends to bars, restaurants, nursing homes, prisons and all other publicly owned buildings.

The ban economically endangers many local establishments, such as Desiree Mulford's Breakers Bar and Billiards in Newark. Many of Mulford's customers have taken their business to neighboring states, where they can still enjoy smoking indoors. "I'm ten minutes from the Maryland line," said Mulford. "Not only do smokers go, but the nonsmokers go, too. They want to go where the crowds are."

While 25 percent of Delaware's population smokes, Delaware bar owners estimate that about 80 percent of their patrons do.

After a 70 percent decrease in business, Mulford decided to allow smoking at Breakers despite the new law. "For every one person I lost because there was smoking here, I gained ten," she said. But things changed after these practices were published in a newspaper article, and Breakers received a $350 fine from the Delaware Division of Public Health. Mulford began to receive registered letters from the state that described complaints it had received and unannounced visits state officials had made. The bar's previously-approved permits to construct a kitchen were revoked as a result of the decision not to enforce the ban. This compelled Mulford and her business partner to enforce it once more. After reinstating the ban, they lost more than 50 percent of their business and had to stop paying themselves just to keep the bar open.

The Delaware House of Representatives passed an amendment to their Clean Indoor Air Act in March of 2003. In an effort to help small businesses, this legislation would have allowed smoking in some bars. But strong campaigning by anti-smoking activists led to the bill's defeat in the state senate by a two-to-one margin. Delaware's Governor Ruth Ann Minner was also strongly opposed to the amendment despite the crippling effect the bill has had on some local businesses.

Dwindling crowds are making it difficult for Desiree Mulford's business to survive. She considered closing Breakers and opening a restaurant and nightclub in New Jersey, but New Jersey adopted a ban on smoking in public buildings, except gambling areas in casinos, in January 2006.

Sources: Desiree Mulford, Washington Post (July 7, 2003), Baltimore Sun (June 22, 2003), Associated Press (January 27, 2003), News Journal (April 9, 2003; June 1, 2003), The Record,

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

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Reprinted with permission from The National Center for Public Policy Research.

Monday, March 5, 2007


Coyote Blog explains how climate science works.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Letter to SEC Chairman Christopher Cox on Proposed Shareholder Access Rule

Americans for the Preservation of Liberty joined 28 other national public policy organizations in sending a letter to Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox regarding a proposed new shareholder access rule.

The letter explains the issue pretty well. If you agree, please consider sending a letter of your own to Chairman Cox to the address listed on the letter.
Coalition Letter to SEC Chairman Christopher Cox on Proposed Shareholder Access Rule

February 7, 2007

The Honorable Christopher Cox
Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20549

Dear Chairman Cox,

In American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Pension Plan v. AIG, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to clarify its rules for the exclusion of shareholder proposals related to an election. In the process of clarifying the commission’s rules, we urge you to reject any measure that would allow shareholders to nominate their own directors in company proxy materials.

Forcing companies to let certain investors nominate directors on company proxies would let special interests gain seats on corporate boards and/or use the threat of director nomination to push through agendas that advance their own political interests but destroy shareholder value.

Through pension funds, labor unions and other anti-market interest groups have significant stakes in major corporations as well as entrepreneurial new firms. A shareholder access rule would allow them and other activists to achieve through the board nomination process what they have been unable to accomplish through the political process.

Unions would use this leverage to win card check and neutrality agreements, allowing them to unionize companies without secret ballot elections. They could also put pressure not only on the companies they have stakes in but also their partners and suppliers.

The implications go far beyond unions. Everything on the anti-market political wish list from Kyoto-like carbon restrictions, to auto emissions standards, to prescription drug price controls, to animal rights activism, to interfering with defense contractors to advance foreign policy objectives would be possible.

These initiatives, whatever their merits, belong in the political arena, not in corporate boardrooms where the focus should be on maximizing shareholder value.

Dissident shareholders can and do mount proxy fights to challenge company-nominated slates of directors, but they do so by distributing their own proxy materials at their own expense. This helps to encourage nominations of directors dedicated to improving the bottom line for all shareholders, rather than promoting the interests of a specific group.

The listing standards for both NASDAQ and the NYSE already require that boards be composed of a majority of independent directors, who themselves comprise the search committee for new directors.

For these reasons we urge you to stand up to the special interest pressure pushing for shareholder access and allow existing state laws to govern director nomination and election.


Gary Palmer
Alabama Policy Institute

Patricia Callahan
American Association of Small Property Owners

Lori Roman
Executive Director
American Legislative Exchange Council

Ryan Ellis
Executive Director
Alliance for Worker Freedom

Daniel Clifton
Executive Director
American Shareholders Association

David Keene
American Conservative Union

Mark Chmura
Executive Director
Americans for the Preservation of Liberty

Tim Phillips
Americans for Prosperity

Grover Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform

Andrew F. Quinlan
Center for Freedom and Prosperity

Jim Backlin
Vice President for Legislative Affairs
Christian Coalition of America

Terrence Scanlon
Capital Research Center

Chuck Muth
Citizen Outreach Project

Tom Schatz
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

John Berlau
Director, Center for Entrepreneurship
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Fred Smith
Competitive Enterprise Institute

Jim Boulet
Executive Director
English First

Paul Weyrich
Chairman and CEO
Free Congress Foundation

Steve Milloy
Investment Adviser
Free Enterprise Action Fund

Walt Harvey
Director, Property Rights Coalition
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

Richard Rowland
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

Tom Giovanetti
Institute for Policy Innovation

Don Racheter
Iowa Wednesday Group

William Fine
Executive Director
National Alliance for Worker and Employer Rights

Amy Ridenour
National Center for Public Policy Research

Lewis Uhler
National Tax Limitation Committee

Stephen Mosher
Population Research Institute

William Greene

Charles Baird
The Smith Center at California State University

cc: Commissioner Paul Atkins
Commissioner Roel Campos

Commissioner Kathleen Casey

Commissioner Annette Nazareth

Sunday, February 25, 2007


A Virginia environmentalist apparently believes that the fact she pays taxes entitles her to take away the property rights of her neighbors.

Or something like that.

On Illegal Aliens and Credit Cards

Here's the real reason Bank of America wants to give credit cards to illegal aliens.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Students for Saving Social Security Petition

Count Us In!, a project of Students for Saving Social Security, is collecting signatures online for a petition to keep Social Security personal accounts in the 2008 budget.

The group says:
Join us in signing the petition to keep Social Security choice in the budget. The President’s budget for the 2008 year include crucial funding that will empower millions of Americans to save for their own retirement. Sadly, many Washington politicians would rather raise your taxes than trust you with your own money. So join us...

Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, [has said] personal accounts are off the table. We need to let him know that our generation deserves a chance to save for our own retirement!
Go here for more information, or to sign the petition.

Hat tip: Social Security Choice blog.

Guard the Freedoms We Have

In America, the freedom of parents to educate their own children is recognized under the law.

In Germany, parents aren't so lucky.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

"Shareholder Access": Holy Grail of the Left

John Berlau asks: Will the left overrun U.S. companies?

The issue is "shareholder access." John explains:
While most of the right is closely scrutinizing the concoction of liberal legislation of the new Congress, a more immediate threat to conservative policies may be brewing at a regulatory agency about a mile away from Capitol Hill.

Through letters, e-mails and personal visits, activists of the left are swarming the Securities and Exchange Commission, the powerful agency that supervises the U.S. stock market. A court ruling that requires the SEC to clarify its rules on company proxies is being used to push the agency to enact policies that would give unions and other liberal pressure groups an enormous lever of power over U.S. companies.

These groups are pushing for what they call “shareholder access” in the elections of publicly-held companies’ boards of directors. They want the SEC to force companies to include directors nominated by specific groups of shareholders on the company voting proxies that are mailed out to all shareholders. Advocates of “shareholder access”—and their champions in the press -- say this would empower U.S. shareholders against corporate management. The entity that filed the lawsuit that forced the SEC to reconsider this issue, a large government employees’ union called the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), has called shareholder access rules the “holy grail of corporate governance.”

But who this type of rule would mostly empower would be unions such as AFSCME, the AFL-CIO and other pressure groups. Through the pension funds that unions directly run as well as the state and local government employee pensions that unions and other liberal activists have influence over, the left has control over a large number of shares in America’s public companies.

Many activists are planning to use this new “shareholder” power as a lever to force U.S. companies to bow to their various wish lists—on everything from union demands to animal rights to boycotts of Israel. As Larry Ribstein, professor of law at University of Illinois and widely read business blogger has put it, “This isn’t about shareholder ‘democracy,’ but about shifting power from powerful managers to powerful shareholders (i.e. unions) who are even less likely to champion the interest of shareholders generally.”

Observers say SEC Chairman Chris Cox, a former GOP House member from California, is under tremendous pressure from the media and new congressional committee heads, such as House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D.-Mass.), to give in to the demands of activists such as the AFL-CIO. And while Cox was justly praised for fighting for important conservative principles in Congress, conservative experts are troubled by the fact that he is reportedly searching for consensus with the two Democrats on the five-member SEC, and that he has not publicly taken “shareholder access” proposals of liberal groups off the table.

That’s why conservatives say Cox needs to be reminded what is really behind the push of some of these groups. The danger is not just that left-wing groups will get their own candidates on the boards of directors. It’s that board members will strike deals with the left in return for activists’ informal agreements not to nominate opposing candidates. Jay Falk, president of SRI World Group, which advises pension funds on “socially responsible” investing, admitted gleefully that enhanced “shareholder democracy” would be used to enact the agenda of the left. He recently told the website Social Funds, “The strengthening of shareholder democracy this year promises to further empower investors to address governance issues such as out-of-control executive pay as well as environmental and social issues such as climate change.”

Even now—without “shareholder access”—the public pension managers and union bosses haven’t been shy about asserting union and other social priorities that would reduce returns for their own pensioners as well as other shareholders...
Read it all here.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

ERA Dead for 28 Years; Liberals Fail to Notice

An effort is being made to revive the Equal Rights Amendment, approved by Congress and sent to the states for ratification in 1972.

For readers to young to remember the ERA, "1972" is not a typo.

Say what you will about lefties, they never give up. Most people recall the ERA as an amendment famously killed after a grassroots effort, in large part organized by Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum, successfully explained to lawmakers that the ERA was far more radical than mainstream Americans realized.

Those who now ask states to ratify the dead amendment proposal are ignoring the fact that the 1972 amendment had to be ratified by 38 states within seven years to be ratified and become part of the Constitution.

That means the proposed ERA amendment expired 28 years ago, but backers are 1) pretending the expiration date did not exist, 2) are pretending five states that rescinded their ratifications did not do so, 3) are ignoring the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the amendment dead, dead, dead, and 4) ignoring the repeatedly-expressed will of their fellow citizens.

National Right to Life has the details on current efforts to revive the ERA; Eagle Forum (naturally) explains the history of the whole thing. The latter document is a particularly interesting read for those who (erroneously) think grassroots Americans are powerless to affect the future of our nation. They sure did in this case, even if the left still won't admit it.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

End Earmarks Now

It's time to stop hiding the truth about earmarks from the public, says an editorial in the Washington Examiner:
Official Washington is playing three-card monte with taxpayers on earmark reform. Among those shuffling the cards are Republicans and Democrats, elected and appointed officials and career bureaucrats. The aim of this con game is to keep taxpayers from seeing what is really happening on earmarks - those spending measures anonymously inserted into bills and legislative reports by members of Congress to benefit friends, families and special interests without a public vote on the merits.

President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and assorted others are all shuffling the earmark reform cards and making it difficult for taxpayers to keep track of the situation...
We agree. Earmark reform -- preferably in the form of banning them entirely -- would be a victory for accountable and transparent government as well as fiscal prudence.