On March 29, 2009, Campaign for Liberty employee Steve Bierfeldt was detained by the TSA at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport in Missouri. The reason for his detention: he was carrying a metal box containing over $4,700 in cash in his carry-on bag. TSA uniformed officers pulled Bierfeldt into a windowless room, where they questioned him as to the source of the cash. Bierfeldt cooperated with the officers in showing them the cash, detailing the amount of cash in the box, and answering other questions that the officers could deduce by legal search and viewing his identification. However, Bierfeldt repeatedly questioned the officers as to whether he was legally required to tell them where the cash had come from. They responded by demanding that he answer the question and threatening to take him “downtown” to the police station, where he would be interrogated by the DEA and FBI. The officers clearly threatened him and used profanity and forceful speech. Little did the officers know, Bierfeldt was recording the entire incident on his iPhone. You can listen to the audio here. CNN covered this (albeit in broad strokes) as well (see here).

Bierfeldt’s detention was illegal. Laws and statutes governing searches and detentions on airline flights do not include possession of large sums of cash as one of the criteria for detention by TSA. Furthermore, the TSA officers were obliged by law to answer Bierfeldt’s repeated question of whether he was legally required to answer them as to the source of the cash in his possession; in other words, the officers were supposed to inform him of his rights. They did not. Now Bierfeldt has enlisted the aid of the ACLU, who are bringing suit against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, under whose authority the TSA falls.

But it goes deeper. The Missouri police circulated an internal email in February stating that Ron Paul and Campaign for Liberty supporters and employees may be militia members and terrorists. This internal memo was a direct result of the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) report entitled “The Modern Militia Movement” (read the report
here). This report, based on trend data pertaining to militia and terrorist activity within Missouri, stated, among other things, that Ron Paul bumper stickers could be used to identify militia members and terrorists. And Steve Bierfeldt, a Campaign for Liberty employee, was in possession of large quantities of that organization’s literature, bumper stickers, t-shirts, etc. He suspects that this, in addition to the cash he was carrying, was the driving factor behind his illegal detention and interrogation.

I’m deeply disturbed by this infringement upon our civil liberties by the federal government and state police officers. But can I say that I’m surprised? Sadly, no. What should we expect when the Department of Homeland Security sets the example by profiling conservatives and returning veterans as potential terrorists and threats to the state (see
here)? There has never been a better time to know your rights (while you still have them), to read the pocket Constitution that, if you follow this blog, you should have in your possession. Because there may come a time when you find yourself in a windowless room with uniformed officers acting like gestapo thugs. If you are compelled to cooperate against your rights or they refuse to inform you of your rights, you allow the government to ride roughshod over all our liberties and grow accustomed to getting away with it.




In politics, disappointment is eternal. In the case of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, that disappointment is more akin to bewilderment at the bizarre circumstances surrounding his recent disgrace. How could someone seemingly so intelligent display such poor judgment? Governor Sanford has revealed himself to be the worst sort of man; an unfaithful one. What’s more, the lengths he went to in order to deceive his state (disappearing for seven days without explanation or protection and leaving his state ungoverned) represent a dereliction of duty and corruptness that are not befitting a governor. And now, he has further been exposed as a fiscal conservative hypocrite, using $12,000 of taxpayer money to pay for a trip to Argentina last year, during which he met his mistress (see here). While Governor Sanford has promised to reimburse the taxpayers for the expenses, I think he should go a step further and resign his office to focus on dealing with what is obviously a difficult time for his family. Forget your presidential aspirations, Governor Sanford. That ship has sailed. South Carolina and conservatism deserve a better leader right now.



President Obama has come under significant criticism for his lukewarm initial response to the massive civil unrest in Iran following the “re-election” of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. The president initially commented that he had "deep concerns about the election," but insisted that it was "not productive, given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations, to be seen as meddling." Critics, largely conservatives, shot back at the president by pointing out that the contestation of the election by the Iranian people presented a rare opportunity to foster real democracy in Iran from the bottom up and challenge the clerical autocracy. Senator John McCain said, "People are being killed and beaten in the streets of Tehran and all over Iran, and we should stand up for them. The way we stood up for the Polish workers in Gdansk, the way we stood up for the people of then Czechoslovakia in the Prague Spring and we have stood up for freedom in every part of the world. We're not doing that."

President Obama has since come out with a slightly stronger poke at Iran, stating at a press conference that he was “appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments of the past few days.” He cited the now famous case of the 26-year-old Iranian female protestor who was gunned down in Tehran, her death captured on film, as “raw and extraordinarily painful.” Despite ratcheting up his criticism, however, the president remains hesitant to take a tack with Iran that would play into their favorite narrative of American interference, or give them the ammunition they need to pin the blame for the riots on the United States. Said the president, “There are reports suggesting that the CIA
is behind all this. All of which is patently false. But it gives you a sense of the narrative that the Iranian government would love to play into.”

The president’s supporters have praised his response as cautious, calculated and level-headed, which also happen to be their favorite adjectives to describe the man himself. But his critics, myself among them, would characterize the response as timid and deferential. The fact of the matter is that Senator McCain is right. America has stood up for freedom and democracy all over the world in the face of tyranny. At the end of the Cold War, when Soviet satellite states were rising up against their communist overlords, President Reagan praised them, shone the spotlight on them, and supported them. He knew that the opportunity for those people to grab freedom with both hands and shape their own destiny may not have come again had the United States and our allies not given them shoulders to stand on.

That having been said, our support for the protestors should not and does not amount to support for Mousavi, who in many ways is no more progressive than Ahmedinejad. Rather it is support for the notion underlying the protests, that the current Iranian regime is not a legitimate democracy. As long as there exists an authoritarian, un-elected body with the authority to override the will of the people unilaterally, there is not freedom. Senator McCain understands this as well and has articulated it by saying, “…let's not take the side necessarily of the protestors...the fact is we should be on the side of a free and fair election, and not be in favor of an oppressive brutal government." For decades we have told the people of Iran that when they found the courage and opportunity to rise up against the regime, we would be there to cheer them and support them. President Obama’s follow through on that promise has left a great deal to be desired and, in the context of his unwillingness to be portrayed as antagonistic toward Iran’s regime, left the country looking like a paper tiger and fair-weather friend to freedom.

It really is quite silly to think that, by not giving Iran excuses to implicate the US as fomenting this unrest, the Iranians will let us off the hook. The president and his ilk have argued that our vocal support would result in the protesters being portrayed as Western proxies, thereby damaging their credibility within Iran. But the Iranians have been blaming us for all sorts of things since 1979, some of which was deserved, much of which was not. They don’t need President Obama to provide them with an excuse to kick around the West or demonize the protestors as a CIA-backed mob. To tip-toe around human rights violations and the chance of real democracy in Iran because the brutal tyrants who are threatened by it might use it against you is lunacy. For a president who wants to promote an image of an America dedicated to the principles of freedom and dignity for all human beings, this policy represents a demonstrable failure.

But those who suffer the most will be the people of Iran who tried to challenge their masters; when it is all said and done, they may only be recorded as a footnote in the history books thanks to our thunderous silence. We need to be rhetorically aggressive and support those who would stand up for freedom against its enemies. Some say the gamble is too risky, that if those who challenge the regime fail to win reforms that our relationship with Iran will be setback even further, and they will be even more resolved in their anti-Westernism. I say the perceived gains in US-Iranian relations since the Obama administration took over have been illusory, that the retention of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad attests to a continued hard-line tone unequivocally. I say there remains less to lose from supporting freedom in Iran than from allowing the regime to crush and demoralize those who march for it.



A Gallup poll released on June 15 reveals that Conservatives are the single largest ideological group in the United States, with 40% of Americans identifying themselves as such. Moderates came in at 35%, and Liberals at a paltry 21%.
While this alone is reassuring, I am just as heartened by the data when broken down by age group. According to Gallup, adults aged 18-29 years are almost evenly split, with 31% calling themselves Liberals and 30% calling themselves Conservatives (39% consider themselves Moderates). Historical data was unavailable for comparison, however this is better than I would have expected from personal and anecdotal experience.
Perhaps the Children of the Revolution have begun their march to power at last, though this particular revolution will clearly not be televised (at least not by ABC, NBC and CNN).



It neither bothers nor surprises me so much that ABC has sold its soul and become a propaganda arm of the Obama White House, as NBC has (see here). What bothers me is their pretension that they remain a fair, objective journalistic outfit. With their upcoming broadcast of a health care reform special, "Questions for the President: Prescription for America," on June 24, they are happily allowing themselves to be used by the White House to advance an agenda and establish premises in the health care debate that are not necessarily accepted by all parties. The special will take place within the White House and will consist of ABC-selected questions from an ABC-selected audience for President Obama regarding the health care system and his proposed reforms. This airtime comes at no cost to the White House or the Democratic Party; rather ABC is footing the bill and, according to them, running the show. ABC cannot bring itself to admit what everyone already knows to be true: they're giving the Obama administration control of their network to broadcast what amounts to an infomercial (sans Billy Mays or slap-chops) peddling their health care agenda.

The GOP, in an appropriately calculated move, requested that its views be presented in the ABC special in order for all voices to be heard, but were rebuffed. ABC insists that the questions from the audience will be fair and even tough for the president, and will represent all sides of the debate. If this is truly to be the case, here are questions to look for as a litmus test to determine if conservative viewpoints are in fact represented:

1. Mr. President, you promised that, under a public health care plan, those of us who prefer to remain with our current, private health care plans will not be compelled to opt for the public option or give up our current coverage. However, if the public plan is cheaper, how can you guarantee that businesses will not drop their private coverage for their employees in favor of the public option in order to cut overall costs, effectively compelling those employees into the public plan, which you promised would not happen?

2. Mr. President, how do you intend to avoid the likely flight of American-educated physicians from the US market when a public option or heavy regulation drives wages for health care professionals down?

3. Mr. President, what are the key differences between your plan and the plans of European countries that have adopted universal healthcare, such as the United Kingdom, which are now facing bankruptcy and reform to scale back coverage?

4. Mr. President, given current, staggering deficits and spending, how do you propose to pay for your plan in a sustainable fashion without raising taxes on all Americans?

I will be surprised if even one of these questions is asked. What will likely happen is that the premise will be established in this forum that the government must play the leading role in health care reform and the question of how to pay for it will be largely ignored, as will the failures of other such public health care programs in Europe and elsewhere. The public option will be touted as the "people's choice," but the president will hijack small-government and fiscal responsibility rhetoric from conservatives in a token effort to appease moderates in his own party and give them hope that he's willing to lower his sights (even if he is not).




There has been an undeniable campaign on the part of some segments of the media and even our political establishment since the mid-90s to paint the Iranian theocracy as a functioning democracy, open and fair, simply with a traditional, local flair not unlike the British constitutional monarchy. This effort to take the edge off of Iran’s image is certainly the result of a political agenda. During the late 1990s, when the much-touted reformist president Khatami was elected in Iran, a serious and perhaps overly enthusiastic overture was made by the Clinton administration to renew diplomatic relations after a 20 year period of hostility. These overtures amounted largely to the US giving away the farm while the Iranian regime made token gestures of goodwill, such as inviting American tourism. Among the Clinton administration’s good faith measures to induce Iranian openness: apologizing for the Shah’s US-backed coup, relaxation of food and medical exports to Iran and allowing entry of an Iranian professional wrestling team to compete in the United States. The Clinton administration also privately considered rescinding its executive order identifying Iran as a state-sponsor of terrorism and a rogue state. What did the US get in return? A refusal by President Khatami to apologize for the taking of American hostages in 1979, a demand from Ayatollah Khamenei for the US to withdraw its support for Israel, end the 1995 sanctions imposed on the country, and cease its claims that Iran was developing nuclear weaponry, among other things. A lopsided exchange, to be sure. Made all the more tragic by the attacks of September 11, launched by radical Islamic extremists of the sort that Iran had long been providing enthusiastic material and financial support for.

The effort that was underway by the media and some politicians to soften the tone against the Iranian regime, particularly when talking about the legitimacy of its elections, has more or less come to and end with the results of the recent presidential election. According to the Supreme Council (the arm of the absolute rulers of Iran, the all-powerful Mujtahids of the Assembly of Experts), Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has been re-elected in a landslide. Reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi has petitioned the Supreme Council for an investigation of fraud after sustained protests in the streets of Tehran from his supporters that were violently suppressed. While the theocratic regime goes through the dog-and-pony show of investigating the claims of fraud for its Western audience, the inevitable result will be a retention of Ahmedinejad as president and a continuation of the hard-line tone in defiance of President Obama’s outreach.

Should we be surprised? Certainly it seems like the media was taken aback, after days of touting the elections as a proving ground for Obama’s new policy of openness to the Muslim world. Many networks reported dreamily about the possibility of an upheaval in the country brought about by the people of Iran in defiance of the mullahs. It has all been a comical farce, as no democratic government can be legitimate as long as it institutionalizes a body that can unilaterally and autocratically overturn the will of the people on a whim. Iran has never been a real democracy. It cleverly retains the trappings of democracy as a smoke-screen for the West, who have at times taken the bait hook, line and sinker. But presidential candidates are hand-picked by the Supreme Council, which also tallies the votes. As the great thug Josef Stalin observed, it isn’t the voting that matters, but who does the counting. The only way a “reformer” gets elected president of Iran is if the Supreme Council wishes it to be so, and if that be the case, the West must ask itself why? To project an image for the benefit of the West, to provide misdirection to Western leaders (that results in Clintonesque generosities without Iranian reciprocation), to satisfy a young, restive Iranian populace?

In this election, however, the theocrats chose to retain a hard-liner, which also sends a message intended for Western audiences. Whether they use that hard-liner for the jingoistic rhetoric associated with him while pursuing a softer line remains to be seen. It certainly does not bode well for President Obama’s hopeful tone on Iranian relations, and it bodes even worse for the Iranian people. The media has lost its battle to portray a “people’s Iran” as well, and is seeking to save face by speculating as to whether the disenfranchised Iranian citizens will challenge the power of the mullahs. One thing is certain: this election has reminded us of the real Iran, as it has always been, regardless of the West’s projections upon it.




A surprise gem from Newsweek by Robert Samuelson (a simultaneously dour, exhausted and intelligent individual if his headshot and writing are any indication) that I consider the definitive piece on the media’s troubling and overt servility to President Obama. In it Mr. Samuelson presents the results of a Pew Research Center study that flatly concludes: “President Barack Obama has enjoyed substantially more positive media coverage than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush during their first months in the White House.”

The evidence? An exhaustive review of 1,261 news stories by The Washington Post, The New York Times, ABC, CBS and NBC, Newsweek and PBS’s NewsHour that reveals that 42% of the stories were clearly favorable to President Obama, 20% were unfavorable (that number seems a bit high…), and the remaining 38% “neutral” or “mixed.” Compare that to 22% favorable stories for former President Bush and 27% for former President Clinton. Moreover, the coverage of the sitting president differs substantially in that it focuses primarily on Obama’s leadership style and personal qualities rather than his actual policies and agenda (crippling debt, economic fascism, an onerous federal government, judicial activism, etc).

Of course this isn’t anything you don’t already know, but that doesn’t make it any less troubling. The point is you likely won’t find this story widely carried (for obvious reasons), and consequently I felt an obligation to ensure that it was well-circulated.