Help Preserve Sarasota’s Celery Fields

Sarasota’s Celery Fields are truly a local treasure—for nature lovers, bird watchers, fitness junkies, and nature enthusiasts of all kinds. But they are being threatened with dangerous industrial development that could destroy the natural habitat for local wildlife, not to mention the peace and tranquility of the area that we’ve all come to know and love.

I plan to participate in the protest this Saturday to help spread the word about the proposed development projects that could destroy the Celery Fields. I hope you’ll join me as well.

The Next 4 Years: More of the Same?

Centralized manipulation of the economy — through money creation and public borrowing — will, I’m afraid, continue under the next administration.

While the populace are distracted by the battle between the left and the right, mostly over social issues, the train keeps rolling full steam toward a cliff. In a piece published yesterday by the Mises Institute, Congressman Ron Paul argues that changing monetary policy is the only way to truly root out the causes of income inequality.

He concludes, much like I did recently when writing about the exorbitant increases in public debt, that the outcome of this election may not matter as much as we think.

Congratulations to Rod Thomson!

huge congratulations to my good friend and sometime collaborator, Rod Thomson, on the launch of his new project The Revolutionary Act.

Rod is an insightful thinker with a strong dedication to principles, which makes discussing topics of all kinds with him a joy. He challenges me to think, and I am always the better for it. Not only is he a veteran journalist and a published author, but he’s makes frequent radio and television appearances to discuss public policy and other issues of the day.

I’ve been bugging him for months to start blogging. I’m excited that he’s finally doing it! Can’t wait to see what comes of this!

No Soliciting: Should Candidates for Office Go Door-to-Door?

No Soliciting Sign - Photo: Marcus Quigmire via Flickr

He knocked on our door around mid-day on a quiet Saturday—something that almost never happens in our neighborhood.

Thankfully, I had the advantage of being able to see him through the glass panes of our front door. I knew several things about him at once: he wasn’t one of our neighbors or friends (any friends of ours would’ve called first, of course), he was well-groomed and neatly dressed (casual, but put-together), and bore all the outward signs of being a respectable human being.

But… as someone who takes the safety of his family very seriously, I know that outward appearances can be deceiving.

  • Does he have “pals” waiting in the bushes just beyond my view?
  • Is he a sex offender?
  • Is he here to see whether I have kids?
  • He can see through the glass panes just like I can… is he here to case the joint? Should I have a weapon when I approach the door?

Mind you… I live in a solidly middle-class suburban neighborhood. It’s not a gated community, so perhaps if he were here with some sort of evil or malicious intent, he might’ve chosen a different neighborhood.

And he might’ve chosen a weekday when we aren’t likely to be home.

But still… there are types (pedophiles, for example) that are looking for homes with kids when everyone is at home so they can see what conditions might be like.

I made sure I knew the whereabouts of everyone in my family, and then I opened the door and stepped partially out onto the stoop.

He greeted me with a warm smile, “Hi, I’m _______, and I’m running for _______”

I’m dropping the name and the exact local office he’s running for to protect the innocent… or guilty, as the case may be.

He offered me a flyer or brochure, I’m not sure which, because I wasn’t looking at it. My eyes were 100% on him… still trying to accurately assess the situation.

I cut him off mid-sentence. “Did you see the ‘No Soliciting’ sign at the entrance of the neighborhood?”

“Oh no… I didn’t notice that,” he said, almost sheepishly.

Maybe he did… maybe he didn’t. I’m not sure.

I proceeded to let him know that the sign is legally posted at the entrance to the subdivision and that we have it there for a reason.

The rest of the conversation was pretty brief. I don’t think I was rude to him, although I might’ve been. I certainly didn’t take the flyer he was offering.

Good Hustle, My Friend

Look… I appreciate the challenges that candidates for local office face. It’s hard to get the word out about your candidacy, your beliefs, your strengths, and all the other reasons why you believe you should be elected.

And I’ve gotta tell you, I truly respect the effort and the chutzpah that it takes to go door to door and introduce yourself to voters.

I’ve done plenty of cold-calling in my life… for business, for charitable work, for… you name it—face to face, on the phone, and even online.

Any time you approach an unwilling subject and interrupt their life, you know you’re going to get every kind of reaction known to mankind. And most of them will reject you. My hat is off to anyone who knowingly faces that and goes for it anyway.

Seriously… respect, my friend.

Were I in some sort of advisory role for a candidate like him (which I am not, for the record… not at the moment, at least), I might even suggest that door-to-door solicitation would be a smart move. It puts you in front of the voters, lets them see your face, look you in the eye, shake your hand, and hear from you—straight from the horse’s mouth—why you’re running and what you have to offer.

I mean… even if the voters don’t agree with your positions, you will benefit from a simple human dynamic that we know makes a difference on election day: people vote for candidates with which they are familiar.

This guy was a nice enough guy… at least as much as I could gather from the 20-second conversation we had as I eyed him warily on my front porch.

And he was smart enough to walk straight down my driveway, get into his vehicle (yes, I noted the make, model & color—not that I really needed to… after all, he introduced himself by name), and drive right out of the neighborhood.

I looked him up after he left. He’s a family man. He’s got to understand the difficulties faced by someone like me who wonders exactly who it is that has marched right up to my front door.

But all of those factors that are in his favor can’t overcome one simple fact: any subdivision with a “No Soliciting” sign is off limits.

The sign serves as legal notice, so any law enforcement officer (or judge, if it got that far) would not accept the “I didn’t notice it” excuse.

If you’re going door-to-door, it is incumbent upon you to know whether you’re legally allowed to solicit in that neighborhood or not.

“Well I’m Not Selling Anything”

Fair enough. There are specific Florida statutes (501.022, for example), that regulate the behavior of commercial solicitors.

I’m not an attorney, and I haven’t researched any case law where political candidates are concerned. So… I could be wrong about the specific legality of the actions of my unnamed new friend.

However, there are also Florida statutes (102.031, for example) that regulate the behavior of people involved in conducting elections, and that particular subchapter specifically uses the term “solicit” to refer to the action of “soliciting” votes (although it specifically deals with actions that occur at polling places).

So… our “No Soliciting” sign could clearly be construed to apply to people soliciting votes. We don’t, after all, specify the type & nature of the solicitation.

Regardless of whether or not a Court would find that a political candidate soliciting votes had violated the law by ignoring a “No Soliciting” sign, the voters themselves might find it pretty easy to believe that the candidate had broken the law.

And after all… do you want to vote for someone who ignores the law (or at the very least, your stated wishes) in the very act of soliciting your vote?

I don’t think so.

For the record: I may or not find myself casting a vote for this guy on election day. It remains to be seen. I haven’t evaluated him nor his opponent(s), as of yet.

As for the matter of him coming to my door? I’m going to withhold judgment on that particular issue as I’m inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt over whether he actually saw the sign or not. For now. Especially since he did the right thing and immediately left the neighborhood after we spoke.

But if you’re a candidate for office, you would certainly do well to notice the signs at the entrance of any subdivision you enter. Others might not be so kind.

Photo: Marcus Quigmire via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Day Rand Fights Back

Senator Rand Paul Suing President Obama Over NSA Spying

Senator Rand Paul Suing President Obama Over NSA Spying
Senator Rand Paul
Photo: Gage Skidmore (Flickr: Rand Paul) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Yesterday, this website joined thousands of other websites in promoting The Day We Fight Back, a protest against massive illegal spying on US citizens by the NSA and other federal government agencies.

On one of our sister sites, I took the time to explore in greater detail why it’s time to pay attention to the NSA, which offers a bit of a primer in just how egregious this violation of our 4th Amendment rights really is.

The Day We Fight Back was more than just a protest, actually. With a banner displayed at the bottom of participating sites, visitors were given the opportunity to contact their legislative representatives via email and a phone call in order to express their views about the illegal activities and to request the support of two bills: the USA Freedom Act and the FISA Improvements Act.

More Legislation Is Not the Answer

I hope you took the time to contact your legislators and express your views about this issue. (If not, you may still do so—as of today, anyway—at the protest site linked above.) The sitting representatives need to hear from us about how we feel when our Constitutional rights are being violated.

…which brings me to why I believe more laws are not the answer.

The fact is that we already have a law, the supreme law of the land, which already guarantees our rights where this is concerned.

And that supreme law is being violated.

I appreciate the fact that members of Congress need to author bills because it’s part of the game they play. It ignites support from their constituents, and it’s great when you’re doing your fundraising (they’re always doing fundraising, aren’t they?).

But why should I, as a US Citizen, feel any better because a new law guaranteeing me freedom from oppressive government activities gets passed?

This is why I believe Senator Rand Paul has the right idea. In a press release issued yesterday, Senator Paul announced:

“I am filing a lawsuit against President Barack Obama because he has publicly refused to stop a clear and continuing violation of the 4th Amendment. The Bill of Rights protects all citizens from general warrants. I expect this case to go all the way to the Supreme Court and I predict the American people will win.”

The lawsuit will also name National Intelligence Director James Clapper, outgoing NSA Director Keith Alexander, and FBI Director James Comey. Joining Senator Paul in the class action is Matt Kibbe, President of FreedomWorks, and lead counsel Ken Cuccinelli.

While I’m sure this won’t hurt Senator Paul’s fundraising efforts either, this action is the right idea for our country. Congratulations to Senator Paul on using the checks and balances designed by the framers of our Constitution by going to the judicial branch of government to restrain the executive branch.

Now it’s our turn… it’s time for “we the people” to use our power as Citizens and vote based upon how well these politicians do or do not uphold the Constitution.

The Truth About the Olympics?

The Truth About the Olympics?

The Truth About the Olympics?Yesterday, my brother sent me a link to this video (posted below). It features some analysis and commentary on the Olympics that you might actually find startling.

What do you think? Are the Olympics in fact:

  • shameless exploitation of athletes?
  • a justification for child labor and even abuse?
  • an enormous boondoggle of corruption that lines the pockets of the well-connected and powerful?
  • an irrational exercise in tribalism?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Admittedly, I’m just becoming aware of Stefan Molyneux, the creator of this video content. So it would be too much to treat my posting of this video as an endorsement. But he’s incredibly thought-provoking, and perhaps impossible to ignore.

Is It Legal to Carry Firearms at Florida Theaters?

Frequently, after publishing content online, I find myself learning something. Often this is from looking at what type of traffic our websites get.

This week is certainly no exception. After publishing some thoughts about the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting and contrasting it with a recent Florida shooting incident, I’ve learned that a lot of people have a similar question:

Is it legal to carry a firearm into a theater in the State of Florida?

This is of particular interest to me since AMC Theatres has a nationwide policy banning firearms from their locations. The ban therefore applies to the location we sometimes patronize in a nearby mall, and to at least one other Florida location in Clearwater (see a copy of the AMC “No Weapons Allowed” sign here).

First: Florida Law

Florida law does not specifically prohibit the legal (concealed) carry of firearms in theaters. Of course, legal concealed carry in Florida requires a Concealed Weapons Permit. (If you are already a permit holder, then you are well aware that a number of conditions apply to make your concealed carry of a firearm legal.)

Without a permit, in Florida you are not permitted to carry a concealed firearm on your person anywhere other than in your home or place of business.

There are many ins and outs to Florida law related to firearms and other weapons. I am not an attorney or expert in the law, nor would I pretend to be one. If you own (or plan to own) firearms in Florida, then I strongly recommend that you get a copy of the book widely considered to be the “Bible” of Florida firearms law by attorney Jon Gutmacher. Don’t just get a copy… devour it and keep it close by for reference.

Second: “No Guns Allowed” Signs

AMC Theatres: No Weapons Allowed, Courtesy of gruntzooki via Flickr
AMC Theatres: No Weapons Allowed, Courtesy of gruntzooki

Some businesses choose to place signage prohibiting firearms in their establishments. AMC Theatres is an example. Regal Cinemas may be another example if various internet chatter is to be believed.

Again, I am not an attorney or expert, but from my research a business that has invited you (by opening its doors to the public) onto its premises cannot prevent you from bringing a legal concealed weapon onto its premises.

That said, if they discover your firearm (which one has to really wonder how they would do if in fact it is properly concealed), they can ask you to leave. If any business asks you to leave and you refuse, you are likely to be guilty of trespass (regardless of whether you have a firearm).

If you are found guilty of trespass and you are carrying a firearm, then you are quite likely to be guilty of armed trespass, which is a third degree felony.

This is probably not something you want to risk. It is also quite possibly open to interpretation, which could go badly for you if you find yourself in this situation. Find more on this topic here.

The good news is that you are unlikely to be guilty of trespass (at least in a business which is open to the public—assuming you are there during its hours of operation) unless you refuse to leave after first being warned to leave.