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Updated: 2016-09-29T00:00:00-04:00


Libertarian Party Senate Candidate in Florida Might Meet the Stated Criteria to Get Into Televised October Candidate Debate


Paul Stanton, the Libertarian Party's candidate for Senate in Florida, seems to meet the stated criteria to be included in a televised debate with incumbent Republican Marco Rubio and Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy, with the results of a new poll released today by Public Policy Polling, according to a press release from his campaign. The poll (which Rubio leads, with 42 percent) has Stanton at 9 percent (with 15 percent undecided). Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association are co-hosting on October 26 a one-hour debate that Rubio and Murphy are already committed to. It will be aired live in 11 different Florida markets and on Florida Public Radio and will be held at Broward College in Davie, FL. The publicly stated criteria for candidates to be invited says that: A qualifying candidate must have at least 12.5% support (including the full benefit of a 3.5% +/- margin of error based on a sample size of 815 among all likely voters who will participate in the general election as determined by a poll conducted by a credible and reputable independent poll as to be determined exclusively by the Debate Partners (see 1.F.). Such poll shall be conducted, completed and in the possession of the Debate Partners between September 1, 2016 and September 30, 2016.By way of example, if a poll shows a candidate receiving 10% support among all registered voters, and the poll's margin of error is 3.5%, the candidate's support, including the full benefit of the margin of error, is 13.5%. Now, there is ambiguity in the above when applied to today's poll. The first sentence's parenthetical implies the debate hosts themselves are giving a 3.5 margin of error, while the later sentence seems to qualify that if the poll itself has one, it shall be fully applied. This is important because the actual stated margin of error in today's PPP poll is 3.4. If he's held to that standard, he's one-tenth of a percentage point down in this poll even with full benefit of the margin of error. If he is getting the full benefit of 3.5 regardless, then he's in. More maddeningly, another PPP poll released on September 7 shows Stanton at 10 percent with a stated 3.6 margin of error. That would make him a shoe-in, except that the number polled was 744, under the stated 815 qualification. The campaign feels that, since the polled number in the PPP is 826, more than the required 815, and considering the language about "including the full benefit of a 3.5" percent margin of error, they should qualify. Campaign media director Brian McLauglin says the campaign has reached out to officials with the organization running the debate but have not yet gotten an official invitation or confirmation (or denial) that indeed Stanton is considered to qualify. I was unable to reach a media spokesperson for the event organizers this afternoon. I will update this post when the question of Stanton's qualification is settled. Other interesting aspects of today's poll: Stanton is polling far higher in Florida than the national presidential ticket; Gary Johnson is polling at only 3 percent in this particular poll. And despite Marco Rubio's initial promise as the guy who would win Hispanics back to the GOP, Stanton's polled Hispanic support is double his overall statewide polled support, at 18 percent. Rubio is only 12 percentage points ahead of Libertarian Stanton with polled Florida Hispanics, with 30. Stanton is pulling 15 percent of independents, and a whopping 19 percent of 18-29-year-olds, according to PPP today. For those who remember a previous contender for the L.P.'s Florida Senate nod, the controversial Augustus Sol Invictus, Paul Stanton, who won the primary, is a different person entirely. [...]

Know Any Aspiring Libertarian Journalists? Send Them Our Way!


The Burton C. Gray Memorial Internship program runs year-round in the Washington, D.C. office. Interns work for 12 weeks and receive a $5,000 stipend.

The job includes reporting and writing for Reason and, helping with research, proofreading, and other tasks. Previous interns have gone on to work at such places as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, ABC News, and Reason itself.

To apply, send your résumé, up to five writing samples (preferably published clips), and a cover letter to:

Gray Internship
1747 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Electronic applications can be sent to; please include "Gray Internship Application — Spring" in the subject line.

Spring internships begin in January. Exact dates are flexible.

Application deadline is November 1.

Jeb Bush Reportedly Suggests Voting for Gary Johnson


(image) Jeb Bush suggested to attendees of a private luncheon hosted by the Manhattan Institute on the topic of educational reform that they ought to vote for Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, according to the New York Daily News, which spoke to a number of those who were present at the luncheon. Bush, the former Florida governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, was an early advocate of school reform.

"If I did get a call several weeks after the election, what would I tell President Johnson—I mean, President whoever," Bush reportedly joked in his speech, audio of which the Daily News says it has obtained but has not released. Then, when one attendee at Bush's table complained to him afterward that he couldn't vote for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump or Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Bush reportedly mouthed the word 'Johnson' to him.

Morgan Polikoff, an associate professor of K-12 education at the University of Southern California, tweeted that he attended the event and also confirmed the Daily News reporting.

A spokesperson for Bush said the former Florida governor did not deny the remarks but insisted that Bush had still not made up his mind about who to vote for in the presidential election, which is five and a half weeks away.

Marvin Bush, a brother of Jeb's, said he would be voting for Gary Johnson back in July. Reports earlier this month suggested the former President George H.W. Bush, their father, was voting for Clinton. Former President George W. Bush, brother of Jeb and Marvin, has not made any public comments about who he would be voting for in November.

Politico Tries to Play Gotcha with Jill Stein’s Comments on Gary Johnson’s 'World Leader' Gotcha


(image) Last night on MSNBC, Chris Matthews asked Gary Johnson to name three foreign leaders that he admired. Rather than rejecting the question for its implicitly pro-government bias and as a silly thing to ask someone running for president, Johnson tried to answer by listing former Mexican president Vicente Fox and blanked on the name, saying it was another "Aleppo moment." (Maybe soon they'll be calling them Gary Johnson moments)

Within minutes, social media was ablaze with users who probably couldn't name a world leader (except maybe for Justin Trudeau, who's become something of a favorite of social media progressives) claiming that Johnson couldn't name a foreign leader at all, when the question was about leaders you respected.

It was a dumb question to ask someone running for president of the United States, yet it was a totally unsurprising question from a worshipper of the state like Chris Matthews (who is one of a few media personalities that supported both Obama and President Bush before him).

Today, Green party nominee Jill Stein, who has some common cause with Gary Johnson around the exclusion of third parties from the mainstream presidential election process, decided to pile on, tweeting out that she could name three world leaders she admired—Elizabeth May, the leader of the Green Party of Canada, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom, and the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil.

Politico's Daniel Strauss jumped in to breathlessly report that Stein had also failed to name any world leaders. Stein's answers "aren't technically world leaders, as none holds a top position in their country's government." Technically, of course, that's not the definition of a "world leader." It's almost as arbitrary distinction as Matthews' definition, which included current and former leaders, but not dead ones. Strauss also referred to João Pedro Stédile as one of the three leaders, but technically the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil does not have a formal leadership structure.

The Politico article, which caught my attention when it was shared by Clinton supporters on my Facebook, is illustrative of a number of somewhat overlapping phenomena in mainstream media today. It illustrates the willful obtuseness displayed by some members of the media about the things politicians say. I find it difficult to believe that Strauss actually believed Jill Stein thought Corbyn, May, and a leaderless movement were heads of state or government. But didn't he didn't believe that, then the article was intentionally deceptive. It illustrates the stupidity of gotcha moments and the stupidity of trying to exploit the gotcha moments of others. It illustrates the complexity of the so-called "fact check" (is Jeremy Corbyn a foreign leader? Fact check: depends on your facts) and it illustrates the often vacuous-masquerading-as-deep critiques of candidates some of the media offers up. There are substantive critiques of Jill Stein, and every candidate, that can be made. Willfully misreading tweets and the things candidates say is not one of them.

Responding to my comment based on Twitter, Stein suggested that Politico was "just trying to play gotcha to distract from their favored candidate's awful foreign policy record." It's hard to disagree with that assessment.

So Brave: This University of Michigan Kid Selected ‘His Majesty’ as Personal Pronoun


(image) A student has taken advantage of the opportunity afforded by University of Michigan's new pronoun policy, which allows students to list their chosen pronouns on the official bios that are sent out to their teachers.

The student, Grant Stroble, has listed his pronoun as "His Majesty."

He is stunning and brave. Applaud his courage. Weep openly, if you must.

Are you finished? Still reading? It's quite a moving story, I know.

Stroble's heroism will no doubt be celebrated by the university, which recently gave students the option of selecting their own pronouns in order to foster "an environment of inclusiveness." According to the university:

Students can designate pronouns in Wolverine Access through the new Gender Identity tab within the Campus Personal Information section. This page can be used to enter, update or delete pronoun information.

Designated pronouns will automatically populate on all class rosters accessed through Wolverine Access. Rosters pulled from other systems will not have designated pronouns listed. If a student does not designate a pronoun, none will be listed.

In other words, when professors receive the list of students enrolled in their classes, there will be a designated pronoun next to their names. Strobles's is "His Majesty."

Stroble—a conservative student and member of Young Americans for Freedom's Board of Governors—told The College Fix that he has no problem with students asking to be identified in the manner that makes them most comfortable. But he found the university's new policy to be absurd:

In an interview with The College Fix, Strobl said that "I have no problem with students asking to be identified a certain way, almost like someone named Richard who would like to be called Dick. It is respectful to make a reasonable effort to refer to students in the way that they prefer."

However, he added that he does have a problem when the university institutionalizes the use of pronouns that are completely arbitrary and may possibly sanction people for referring to someone different than their preference.

Strobl continued, "So, I henceforth shall be referred to as: His Majesty, Grant Strobl. I encourage all U-M students to go onto Wolverine Access, and insert the identity of their dreams."

If this isn't the feel-good story of the year, I don't know what is.

Oregon Judge Says He Would 'Eliminate All' Guns


(image) An Oregon magistrate had a few choice words when sentencing defendant Marcell Lee Daniel Jr. for the 2014 shooting of a Portland man. Judge Kenneth Walker took several moments during a hearing Wednesday to condemn not just the perpetrator, but also the type of weapon he used to kill his victim.

After briefly conceding that the law allows Americans to own firearms, Walker proceeded to deliver a scathing indictment of gun ownership, according to The Oregonian. "If I could," he said to the courtroom, "I would take all the guns in America, put them on big barges, and dump them in the ocean."

But he didn't really mean that all guns should be eliminated, right? In fact, he quickly qualified his remarks by adding that "no one would have guns—not police, not security. We should eliminate all of them." Oh.

Walker went on to say that the 11,000 homicides and 20,000 suicides that that involve guns in America could be prevented if gun ownership were abolished, noting that in Australia, where authorities "rounded up all the guns ... they don't have nearly the death that we do here in this country."

Similar arguments in favor of gun control have been advanced before, and Reason has responded to them here, here, and here.

The judge wasn't simply interested in pointing out the negative effects of guns on society, however. Instead, he denied there was any possible rationale for owning firearms, period. "There's no defense to guns." he said. "There is no reason to have them."

Walker is certainly entitled to his opinion; the First Amendment guarantees the individual right to freedom of speech, after all. Of course, the Second Amendment protects the individual right to gun ownership.

As a judge tasked with upholding the Constitution, it seems ill-advised to openly call for the elimination of rights protected by the Constitution while acting in his official capacity. It's hard not to wonder how Walker would react if people started calling for the elimination of the Sixth Amendment—you know, the one ensuring people's right to a trial by jury.

Will Elon Musk Launch for Mars off the Backs of Taxpayers? New at Reason


(image) Elon Musk delivered a much-anticipated speech Tuesday at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he laid out his vision for colonizing Mars. There's no doubt that taming our celestial neighbor would be a testament to human innovation and determination. Today, however, it might be more impressive if Musk could provide a vision for how his companies can succeed here on Earth first, especially without heavy reliance on taxpayer support.

SpaceX, founded by Musk in 2002, has never hid its ambition to one day enable people to live on other planets. In the meantime, the company has relied on income from the more mundane business of launching payloads into space with its Falcon 9 rockets. Earlier this year, SpaceX won an $82.7 million Air Force contract by promising to save taxpayers millions of dollars. (The bid was 40 percent less than what the government had estimated the mission would cost.) Cost savings are great, but only if they materialize. It's too soon to tell, but as of now, the probability isn't zero that SpaceX's super-cheap launch cost will be illusory, especially if its rockets—and their expensive cargoes—keep blowing up, writes Veronique de Rugy.

View this article.

Will Elon Musk Launch for Mars off the Backs of Taxpayers?


Elon Musk delivered a much-anticipated speech Tuesday at the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he laid out his vision for colonizing Mars. There's no doubt that taming our celestial neighbor would be a testament to human innovation and determination. Today, however, it might be more impressive if Musk could provide a vision for how his companies can succeed here on Earth first, especially without heavy reliance on taxpayer support. SpaceX, founded by Musk in 2002, has never hid its ambition to one day enable people to live on other planets. In the meantime, the company has relied on income from the more mundane business of launching payloads into space with its Falcon 9 rockets. Earlier this year, SpaceX won an $82.7 million Air Force contract by promising to save taxpayers millions of dollars. (The bid was 40 percent less than what the government had estimated the mission would cost.) Cost savings are great, but only if they materialize. It's too soon to tell, but as of now, the probability isn't zero that SpaceX's super-cheap launch cost will be illusory, especially if its rockets—and their expensive cargoes—keep blowing up. Last month, a Falcon 9 rocket blew up on the launchpad, taking with it a $200 million communications satellite commissioned for Facebook. American taxpayers should be thankful it wasn't one of the Air Force launches. But now, with two major Falcon 9 explosions—the first occurring last year and costing NASA (i.e., taxpayers) $110 million—it's worth at least considering whether Musk sold the military a lemon. Having won government support with the promise of cheaper launches—and with some backroom help from Sen. John McCain, who has a soft spot for his favorite liberal donor's American-made rockets—SpaceX hoped to continue gobbling up military contracts and add to the billions it's already making off NASA. But that plan is now in doubt, or at least it should be. Contractor competition is desirable, but with such expensive cargo on the line, any competent cost-benefit calculation has to compare the odds of catastrophic failure and not simply rely on the upfront bid price. For instance, United Launch Alliance, the maker of the Atlas V, offered launch capacity for roughly $120 million, which is much more than SpaceX's $60 million. That said, ULA also has a sterling record of more than 100 launches with a perfect success rate. The cost of an explosion goes beyond the cost of another launch because it requires a time delay and the replacement of the cargo (some of which will be paid for by insurance). That means that consecutive explosions could very quickly add to the expense. In other words, on the issue of cost, the jury is still out. Though the pressure put on the competition by Musk is a good thing and though ULA has definitely been challenged to look at its cost, taxpayers must still ask what would happen if the promised cost savings were not to materialize. Government isn't known to correct its mistakes when cost overruns occur. Of course, lawmakers can always hide behind the McCain argument that ULA's Atlas V is powered by a Russian RD-180 engine, which he believes creates a security risk. But many others, including those in the military, disagree that the switch is without cost and consequences. Musk is no stranger to cozy relations with federal and state governments. All three of his companies have benefited heavily from taxpayers. Yet despite generous green energy handouts, his SolarCity is heavily indebted. He now wants to merge it with his electric car company, Tesla Motors, which also benefited from almost $1.3 billion in subsidies. Solidifying his crony credentials, the epitome of crony capitalism itself, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, has subsidized the payloads for numerous SpaceX launches. The Ex-Im Bank's chairman misrepres[...]

Deadly Train Crash in NJ, Republicans Get Veto Override Regret, George W. Bush Nostalgia: P.M. Links


Lawsuit Challenges TSA To Prove Body Scanners Aren’t Killing People


When the Transportation Safety Administration was rolling out its brand new body scanning machines in 2010, the response was pretty much exactly what you would expect: 94 percent of public comments on the policy were opposed. None of that made much of a difference to the TSA. Neither, apparently, did the cost or technical problems with the machines, which were installed in airports across the country and are still being used today. Maybe the TSA should have spent some time reading through the 5,129 public comments opposing body scanners in airports. They might have noticed that, mixed in with concerns about the efficacy, cost and violations of personal privacy, there were a number of people—more than 80 of them—who said the use of the body scanners would cause them to reconsider flying at all. One commenter at the time said they would prefer to drive across the country twice instead of "being subjected to what is clearly a violation of privacy by this intrusive form of airport passenger inspection." Today, that person might be dead—and even if they're not, the TSA's use of body scanners has increased the likelihood, however minutely, that they are. That's the premise of a lawsuit filed against the TSA by Iain Murray and Marc Scribner, research fellows at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. In a brief filed this week in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Murray and Scribner argue that the TSA knew its body scanners would cause some segments of the public to switch from flying to driving, creating a safety issue because flying is the mathmatically safer form of transportation. Despite that knowledge, the TSA didn't do the math to determine how many people might die because they wanted to avoid having TSA agents see pictures of their naked forms. Scribner and Murray did. They looked research by economists at Cornell University showing that a decline in 1 million passengers on planes would lead to an additional 15 fatalities on highways. Combining that with data about how many Americans fly every year and mixing in the fact that an estimated 1.5 percent of people (based on the comments on the TSA's policy shift) would rather drive than go through the body scanners, they had the ability to determine—in a rough way—how many people over the last six years might have died because they didn't want to fly. The final tally? "We came up with 184 additional road deaths due to that effect, of people driving rather than flying," Scribner told Reason on Thursday. If this all sounds a little bit theoretical, that's because it is. The lawsuit isn't claiming that anyone in particular has been harmed by the TSA's scanners—though Scribner claims he has standing for the legal challenge because he, like many Americans, regularly travels on airplanes and by car—but merely that the TSA didn't do the proper amount of math before rolling the hulking machines into airports and making passengers queue up for them. The interesting thing is that the government actually does these assessments of theoretical trade-offs all the time. The best example might be the federal rules for taking small children on planes. Under current regulations, parents are allowed to take children under two years old onto planes without buying a separate ticket and without putting the child in a seat belt. Occasionally, that puts kids' lives at risk—mostly from severe turbulance, rather than actual plane crashes. About two decades ago, the Federal Aviation Administration considered banning those so-called "lap children" and requiring separate seats for them. Then, they did the math. The FAA found that making that policy change would lead many parents of young children to choose to drive instead of fly. For every life saved by requiring small children to wear seat belts on planes, there would be an additi[...]

Radical Libertarians Now Have a (Write-In) Choice for President


While the rest of the world scoffs at Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson's inability to deliver foreign policy trivia on command, a radical wing within the Party itself is more bothered by his perceived departures from libertarian orthodoxy. A leading member of that wing, Darryl Perry of New Hampshire, represented that viewpoint in the race for the Party's nomination that Johnson won (on the second ballot). Perry announced today he is an official write-in candidate for president in various states whose laws allow for it in a meaningful way, to give truer Libertarians who still want to vote a better choice. From his press release, which starts by saying that though he knew all along the official Johnson/Weld was not something he could support, he initially felt too drained to keep fighting after the convention. But now: Due to the numerous instances of the Libertarian Party Presidential ticket running in opposition to the LP Platform, including supporting limitations of the 2nd Amendment rights of people on secret lists, new forms of taxation, and statements against freedom of association, Perry decided to file declarations of intent to be a write-in candidate in a handful of states where a slate of electors is not required. The laws in another eight states claim all write-in votes are valid. Meaning that on November 8, 2016, voters in 17 states (AL, AK, DE, IA, ID, KS, MT, NE, NH, NJ, OR, PA, RI, VT, WA, WV, WY) plus DC, will have the ability to cast a vote – albeit a write-in – for an actual libertarian, Darryl W. Perry. This means Perry potentially has access to 114 Electoral College votes. Perry says he will do no fundraising or spending toward this goal. "I do not make this decision lightly, however I have the ability to not let another election cycle go by without a philosophical libertarian candidate in the general election," he says in the release. My reporting on Perry's presentation at the final L.P. presidential candidate debate at the Party's Orlando national convention, right before the vote. Perry got 6.8 percent of the delegates' votes on the first ballot, then 5.6 on the second one that pushed Johnson over the top. Perry's fiery speech at the Orlando L.P. convention, in which he warns the Party they've just made a big mistake and would be compounding it by nominating William Weld as the vice president, which they went on to do (very narrowly, on a second ballot): src="" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0"> The Libertarian Party has seen some other splinter movements, including science fiction writer L. Neil Smith being put on the state ballot by the Arizona L.P. as its candidate rather than national candidate Harry Browne in 2000 and a cadre of movement radicals launching a "Boston Tea Party" that got its presidential candidate Charles Jay on three state ballots in 2008. On that Party's national committee was none other than Darryl Perry. [...]

Everyone's Making the Same Joke About Gary Johnson and Libertarians


You may have heard that Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson committed another unforced error by blanking on the name of former Mexico President Vincente Fox during an MSNBC town hall yesterday. In doing so, Johnson reinforced the perception held by many that he's not ready for prime time and the unflinching spotlight he would have to endure on a debate stage with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The fact that during the period between Johnson's 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns he was a marijuana entrepreneur, combined with his on-camera brain farts and frequently spacey and goofy demeanor plays right into the stereotype that "libertarians are just Republicans who smoke pot." When it comes to mainstream perception, it doesn't matter that Johnson has been able to articulate substantive foreign policy differences between himself and the major party candidates, or that his non-interventionism is very popular with active military servicepeople, or that Clinton's and Trump's foreign policy blindspots are far more dangerous than briefly blanking on trivia during a TV interview. But since it's just easier to make the obvious joke, here's a sampling of some recent "Gary Johnson's a clueless stoner" political cartoons: As a bonus, here's a Gary Johnson ad parody by comedian Chris Fleming that differentiates itself by actually being pretty funny: src="" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"> [...]

School Orders Teen to Take Psych Evaluation After He Made an Anti Gun Control Video


(image) A high school student who made an anti-gun-control video for class has been ordered to undergo a 5-hour psychiatric evaluation.

Frank Harvey, a senior at Manville High School in New Jersey, says he did the project for a college readiness class last year. As he told New Jersey News 12, "It was assigned by the teacher." The teacher now says she cannot recall assigning it. The video featured news stories of people who had used guns to fend off home invasions, and some political cartoons that lampooned gun control.

When it was found on a thumb drive he left in the school library, the school summoned the police, who questioned Harvey and declined to arrest him.

But that didn't stop the school district from ordering the psych evaluation. Hearvey is not allowed back in school until he takes it.

Harvey is not going back. As the young man told the news station, "I've never been a violent person. I've never had detention in my life."

His mother added, "I am not taking him for a psychological evaluation because this teacher is lying and won't own up to what she did."

Instead, Harvey will take his GED.

Let's hope he doesn't have to study anything about freedom of speech. Because he'll be sorely confused.

The district claims Harvey is mischaracterizing what happened, but declined to comment, citing privacy laws.

Alaska Reporter Who Quit On Air in Support of Marijuana Legalization Facing 24 Years in Prison


(image) Charlo Greene went viral two years ago when she quit her reporting job on-air after advocating the legalization of marijuana. "Fuck it, I quit" she said, signing off for the last time.

Greene, an Alaska native, moved from journalism to marijuana legalization advocacy. Voters approved a ballot measure that year to legalize marijuana, but now Greene is being criminally prosecuted for her marijuana-related work, The Guardian reports.

After her resignation, the Alaska Cannabis Club, which she revealed to be the founder of in her last on-air segment, appeared to become a primary target for law enforcement authorities in Alaska, who conducted six undercover purchases and two raids of the club, which gave members marijuana in exchange for donations, and two raids in a five month period after her resignation. Marijuana legalization went into effect in February 2015. Greene, who spoke with The Guardian, faces eight drug-related charges that could cost her up to 24 years in prison, and described her experience as a "modern day lynching."

"The fact that they were watching us for so long, I kind of felt violated," Greene's sister, Jennifer Egbe, who did work for the club, told The Guardian. "I was really just heartbroken. I never assumed it would go this far."

Greene said she was especially worried police would shoot Jennifer or one of her other three siblings who helped at the club during their armed operations. "I saw all my siblings... with these guns that my tax dollars paid for pointed at them for what was now legal," Greene told The Guardian.

The Alaska attorney general's office declined to provide The Guardian with a comment, but the director of Alaska's alcohol and marijuana control office, Cynthia Franklin, explained that Greene's club and two other businesses were being targeted because they got started before the state imposed regulations on marijuana.

"These people got ahead and said, 'we're not going to wait'," Franklin told The Guardian.

Such people used to be widely considered American heroes. They still are, even if America's contemporary nanny state culture doesn't think so.

Withdrawing from the Crime-Control System


If you think there's a good chance the police will beat you up, you're less likely to call the cops. Sometimes, this reluctance manifests itself not just in an individual but across an entire community. Sociologists and criminologists call this phenomenon legal cynicism—a basic lack of confidence in the criminal justice system's fairness, competence, responsiveness, and all-around legitimacy. Where legal cynicism flourishes, the theory goes, people tend to withdraw from the formal crime-control system; and in the U.S., legal cynicism is most likely to flourish in low-income minority neighborhoods. A trio of sociologists has just found an ingenious way to measure this effect. In a new study for the American Sociological Review, Matthew Desmond of Harvard, Andrew Papachristos of Yale, and David Kirk of Oxford note that research on this subject usually relies on surveys and interviews, methods that can reveal a lot about people's attitudes but "are less reliable when it comes to measuring interactions with the police." So instead they selected a high-profile example of abusive police behavior—the 2004 beating of Frank Jude, a black Milwaukee man assaulted by a group of white officers—and then located and counted the city's 911 calls after news of the beatdown broke. Controlling for various variables, they found a small, brief decline in calls in predominantly white neighborhoods and a "large and durable" decline in predominantly black neighborhoods, with the latter lasting more than a year. They then examined Milwaukee's 911 calls following a 2007 police assault on another unarmed black man, Danyall Simpson; that too produced a decline. The authors also wondered whether nationally reported incidents in other cities could produce the same result. Here the results were mixed. 911 calls went down in Milwaukee, especially in black neighborhoods, after the 2006 shooting of Sean Bell in Queens. But the 2009 death of Oscar Grant in Oakland did not produce the same result. These results have interesting implications for the debate over the so-called Ferguson effect. Usually that phrase refers to the idea that increased scrutiny has made cops wary about policing proactively, leading to increases in crime. But as I noted here after the FBI released last year's crime statistics, there is a rival theory that focuses not on the supply of policing but the demand for it. Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, thinks legal cynicism may help explain several cities' recent spikes in homicides. "Lack of confidence in the police among African-Americans predates the recent police killings in Ferguson, Cleveland, New York and elsewhere," he wrote earlier this year. "But it is likely to be activated by such incidents, transforming longstanding latent grievances into an acute legitimacy crisis." When people don't trust the police, they are less likely to cooperate with them—and more likely to turn to do-it-yourself alternatives to policing, such as the violent resolution of disputes. (It is certainly possible to think of alternatives to calling 911 that do not entail doling out rough justice. And it is wonderful when they flourish. But they require work, trust, and time to be effective, just like a police department does.) Desmond, Papachristos, and Kirk's work lends theoretical support to Rosenfeld's theory, though obviously they're not looking at the same time period. It also has implications for another question raised by 2015's crime numbers: Why did homicides rise so much more than violent crime in general? (According to the FBI, violent crimes increased 3.1 percent last year. Homicides went up 10.8 percent.)[...]

Congress May Have Transformed US-Saudi Relations While Overriding Obama's Veto


Saudi Arabia has long been a troublesome ally for the United States. Sure, the government has provided space for military bases, but those ended up being Osama bin Laden's top grievance with the United States. And sure, the Saudis have been helpful in cracking down on some violent radical Islamist groups, but they've sponsored and created just as many. And yes, they're a major trading partner in both oil and arms, but they've also been using our military support to indiscriminately kill civilians in Yemen. And of course, they're basically among the worst in the world when it comes to freedom of speech and religion, women's rights, LGBT rights, and human rights in general. But the special relationship between the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States may be forever transformed by Congress handing President Obama an overwhelming veto override yesterday—the first of his administration—on a bill that strips immunity of foreign governments and their officials from lawsuits regarding terrorism on U.S. soil. The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) enjoys its robust support in Congress due to its association with 9/11—and congresspeople don't want to be seen as voting against the interests of 9/11 victims' families in an election year, just weeks after the fifteenth anniversary of the attacks. The bill was spurred by allegations that certain Saudi government officials provided financial support to 9/11 hijackers, which were detailed in the recently-released "28 Pages" of a congressional inquiry into 9/11. But President Obama and the few dissenters of the bill in Congress have argued JASTA is too broadly written and not limited to 9/11 victims' families, and that it could also make U.S. military personnel and officials liable to legal retaliation in foreign courts. White House press secretary Josh Earnest called Congress' override of the president's veto "the single most embarrassing thing the United States Senate has done" in decades, and that by not fully considering the consequences of the bill to diplomatic relations and military servicepeople, "Ultimately these senators are going to have to answer their own conscience and their constituents as they account for their actions today." At least two senators who supported the bill and the veto override—Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.)—have suggested trying to "tighten up" the bill during the upcoming lame duck session of Congress by limiting the legislation only to 9/11. The Washington Post quotes Corker as saying the bill as written could end up "exporting...foreign policy to trial lawyers" and make U.S. personnel liable for lawsuits from anything to drones strikes to support for Israel's military actions. Congressional support for Saudi Arabia was once as good as a rubber stamp, but a number of congresspeople recently made a bipartisan push to restrict a more than $1 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia because of concerns over the Kingdom's bombardment of schools, hospitals, and civilians in Yemen. The resolution almost certainly will not have the support to stop the sale, but the pushback from Congress is new and noteworthy, regardless. There are legitimate concerns about the reciprocal nature of laws pertaining to the liability of foreign officials, but editor emeritus of World Policy Journal David A. Andelman made some pretty weak arguments against the bill in a CNN op-ed. One of his concerns is that the Saudis could clamp down on oil production and thereby contribute to a rise in fuel prices worldwide. A fair if potentially overstated economic concern, but it[...]

Humans Are Naturally Murderous, Says New Study


Violence is a pervasive theme in human society; it fills our news broadcasts, our movies, our novels, and, most especially, our histories. Why are people (mostly men) so prone to murder? Many anthropologists and even philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau have chiefly blamed the corruptions of living in mass society. Not so, argues a new study, "The phylogenetic roots of human lethal violence," published in Nature by Spanish evolutionary biologists. They claim instead that natural selection has endowed us with our violent tendencies. The researchers' strategy is to survey intra-species violence in over 1,000 mammalian species in an effort to trace how violence arose. They also look at databases that compile rates of violence among human hunter-gatherer bands and ancient civilizations. While we are not the most violent species (meerkats are), we are pretty high up there on the list. From the study: By compiling sources of mortality from a comprehensive sample of mammals, we assessed the percentage of deaths due to conspecifics and, using phylogenetic comparative tools, predicted this value for humans. The proportion of human deaths phylogenetically predicted to be caused by interpersonal violence stood at 2%. This value was similar to the one phylogenetically inferred for the evolutionary ancestor of primates and apes, indicating that a certain level of lethal violence arises owing to our position within the phylogeny of mammals. It was also similar to the percentage seen in prehistoric bands and tribes, indicating that we were as lethally violent then as common mammalian evolutionary history would predict. ScienceAlert further reports... ...the team looked at our evolutionary history - usually, the closer two species are on the evolutionary tree, the more similar levels of inter-species murder they display. Based on that, Gómez predicted how violent humans should be, and then looked at causes of death in 600 humans population between 50,000 BC and today, to figure out how violent we actually are. What they found was that, humans were around six times more murderous than the average mammal when we originated. So, when our species first arose, around 2 percent of people (or one in 50) would have been murdered by other humans. But that rate didn't stay the same - during Palaeolithic times, more than 10,000 years ago, the rate of lethal violence increased to around 3.9 percent. Then, during the Medieval period, between 400 and 1400 AD, that rate rose to around 12 percent, before dropping over the last few centuries so that we're now far less violent than we were in our prehistoric past - most likely due to being more organised, and having stricter laws in place. Not all mammals are violent, however. The study showed that around 40 percent of the 1,024 mammal species studied killed each other - and the primates were particularly bloodthirsty. Interestingly, this study basically backs up the work reported by Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker in his insightful book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. Pinker persuasively marshalls evidence showing that you are less likely to die a violent death today than at any other time in human history. When Pinker first proposed that violence has declined in modern times, he got a furious push-back from many intellectuals who are devoted to the idea that modern capitalism particularly incited people to murder. The authors of the new Nature study argue that the rise of modern social institutions have greatly reduced violence in contemporary societies. Their research basically vindicates Pinker's work. Go here to read Re[...]

Gary Johnson Has an ‘Aleppo Moment’ (His Unfortunate Words) on MSNBC


Right before I interviewed him at the Libertarian National Convention in May and again before his CNN townhall in June, Gary Johnson made the same odd comment to me (this is a paraphrase): "Matt, I'm so sorry that it's me up there defending libertarian ideas instead of you people who have been speaking about it so eloquently for so long!" He made a similar comment to longtime Libertarian activists just after accepting their nomination in Orlando. Aside from being an expression of his endearing-for-a-politician humility, the pre-apologies pointed to a central paradox of the Johnson campaign: His strategy has been laser-focused on getting into the presidential debates, and yet as a communicator, he is uneven, goofy around the edges, and prone to the occasional WTF moment. Like this: src="" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0"> Oh sure, you can come up with some caveats and whataboutisms here. I don't know who my favorite foreign leader is either! NPR and Salon and all the rest are unfairly mischaracterizing this as Johnson being "unable to name a foreign leader"! There's scant evidence that the voting public cares about foreign-policy gotcha moments, particularly in this of all campaign seasons! Also, what about Hillary Clinton's warmongering and Donald Trump's incoherent Mideast bluster! All of that may be interesting, but it doesn't change the fact that Gary Johnson screwed up bigly here, because this is who Gary Johnson is. A partial list of self-inflicted errors in this exchange: 1) If you don't like or can't answer a question in a live broadcast situation, don't answer the damned question. The English language is filled with little sidestepping phrases like, "Well, the most important thing is," or "When you step back and take the broader view...." Also available are the Pushback ("Chris, I'm not playing your foreign policy trivia game"), the Shutdown ("It's not appropriate for a presidential aspirant to pre-emptively name international favorites"), and the Redirect ("I'm more focused on rolling back our friendship with dictatorships, like Saudi Arabia!"). Not a viable option for a potential commander in chief? Stammering out loud about your own inability to answer a question. 2) The phrase "Aleppo moment" is wrong for several obvious reasons. Starting with, Aleppo is a city where a lot of people are dying—imagine someone using terminology such as "Sarajevo moment," or "Darfur moment"; feels icky and wrong. Also, it's a self-inflicted callback to one of the campaign's lower points. 3) Neither "Vincente Fox" nor "Angela Merkel" are good answers, either. If you're gonna go former office-holder, there are no shortage of legitimate heroes to choose from (I would start with Václav Havel, who served contemporaneously with Fox). As for Merkel, she hasn't had what you would call a particularly good year. Look, you can rage that the questioning was somehow unfair, or at least that the way people will seize on it will be. But part of running for president is showing people—live, on TV, constantly, to the point of mental and physical exhaustion—that you are nimble enough on your feet to deal with a brainfart without saying "Hey look, we're having a brainfart over here!" Libertarians and other marginalized groups have a weird man's burden in which they are frequently held to even higher standards than the two-party dolts who actually hold power, but the response to that is to gratefully accept the challenge and then rise to the occasion, not be resigned to your own flaws. After[...]

Shiftless in Seattle: Lawmakers Pass Onerous New Scheduling Ordinance


The Seattle City Council last Monday passed a sweeping "secure scheduling" ordinance by a unanimous vote, making it only the second city in the nation to take a direct role in regulating how businesses set employee schedules. Under the new ordinance—effective July 1, 2017—certain employers will be required to tell their workers two weeks in advance which shifts they will be working. Should an employee be called in for extra hours, say, to replace a sick co-worker, the employer will have to pay him added "predictability pay." Should an employee be sent home early—maybe because business is slow or a delivery is late—the employer must compensate him for half the hours he was scheduled to work. In addition, on-call staff will earn half pay for shifts when they are not called into work, while those employees that have less than 10 hours between two shifts will receive time and a half. Managers will also be required to offer any additional hours to current employees before taking on new hires. The stated purpose of the ordinance—aside from creating more predictable schedules—is to provide employees with "secure incomes" by ensuring them adequate hours. Not getting as much work as they would like is a source of frustration for many Seattle workers. In a recent study commissioned by the city, some 30 percent of workers reported wanting more hours, and 10 percent reported difficulty in paying bills due to a lack of hours. Helping eager employees work more and earn more is a laudable goal for the Seattle City Council. It is also a bizarre one, given how many disincentives it has created to businesses giving employees extra hours. In 2012 Seattle passed a bill requiring businesses to provide one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours an employee works, raising the hourly cost of each worker. Then in 2015, the city passed its notorious $15-an-hour minimum wage law, raising that hourly cost still further. Indeed, a July study put out by the University of Washington (UW) found that the mandated wage increase has led to fewer hours worked per-employee and slightly less overall employment for Seattle's lowest-paid workers, compared to similar earners in other parts of the state. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) also bears some of the blame for the lack of hours, says John Vigdora, the UW economist who authored the July study on the city's new wage floor. Many employees have found their hours cut by employers looking to avoid the employer-provided-insurance mandate in the ACA, which kicks in only when someone works hours over a certain threshold, he explains. Whether the new scheduling regulation will help workers get these hours back remains an open question, and Vigdor speculates that employers that are particularly concerned with their level of customer service may choose to absorb the costs of the new law, maintaining current staffing levels. Businesses in a more precarious financial situation, on the other hand, or less reliant on offering good customer service, are likely to respond by cutting hours. In San Francisco—the only other city to adopt secure scheduling legislation—many businesses have indeed cut back on staff. A study conducted six months after the law went into effect found that "in response to the ordinance, 1 in 5 surveyed businesses had cut back on the number of part-time hires, and a similar number were scheduling fewer employees per shift," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Reason queried each member of the Seattle City Council on whether they thought Seattle businesses might behave similiarly. Tim Bu[...]

The Justice Department Won’t Stop Going to Bat for Bad Science


A recent review by a White House council on forensic science found that junk science is all too common in the criminal justice system, but the Justice Department is resisting recommendations to increase safeguards against scientifically invalid testimony and require greater disclosure of misconduct and shoddy work. Last Wednesday, the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report finding that reviews of several commonly used forensic methods—such as analysis of hair, bitemarks, and shoe-prints—"have revealed a dismaying frequency of instances of use of forensic evidence that do not pass an objective test of scientific validity." In many of the fields that the report investigated, it found that there were no rigorous scientific studies establishing error rates or reliability. In the case of bitemark analysis—a notoriously subjective method, as former Reason reporter Radley Balko has extensively reported—the report found that "available scientific evidence strongly suggests that examiners not only cannot identify the source of bitemark with reasonable accuracy, they cannot even consistently agree on whether an injury is a human bitemark." There have been numerous forensic scandals over the past several years. Last year, the FBI admitted that nearly every one of the experts at its microscopic hair analysis lab had given scientifically invalid testimony in almost 270 cases. Of those cases, 32 defendants were sentenced to death, and 14 were eventually executed or died in prison. Despite the embarrassing admissions, not to mention the possibility that prosecutors could be putting innocent people in jail, the Justice Department has rejected PCAST's recommendations, which said the Justice Department should require forensic experts to disclose high error rates for some of those methods in their testimony and, where methods haven't yet been independently verified, not to use them at all. "We remain confident that, when used properly, forensic science evidence helps juries identify the guilty and clear the innocent, and the department believes that the current legal standards regarding the admissibility of forensic evidence are based on sound science and sound legal reasoning," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal. "While we appreciate their contribution to the field of scientific inquiry, the department will not be adopting the recommendations related to the admissibility of forensic science evidence." Likewise, the FBI in a statement to the Journal that it "disagrees with many of the scientific assertions and conclusions of the report" and said the report "makes broad, unsupported assertions regarding science and forensic science practice." Criminal defense lawyers, however, say that the rejections of the PCAST recommendations, as well as several changes to a recently adopted code of ethics for forensic professionals, leaves the balance of power firmly weighted in favor of law enforcement and prosecutors. "It's very disappointing that scientist should spend months putting together a comprehensive report that the Justice Department took about a minute and half to reject," National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers president Barry Pollack says. "But at the end of the day, if the Justice Department does not comply with recommendations, what it's going to find is judges are not going to admit forensic evidence it wants to introduce in trials around the country. In my view, ultimately the Justice Department is going to ha[...]

Peak Oil? Cue Crickets Chirping


(image) Apparently Google searches for the terms like "oil glut" and "too much oil" are now much more popular than those for "peak oil" from a decade back. Back in in 2009, I wrote:

In May 2006, I reported in Reason that global oil reserves were ample to supply humanity's needs for liquid fuels until at least 2030, despite headline-grabbing predictions that our supply had already peaked. Afterwards, the world experienced an unprecedented run-up in oil prices topping out at $147 per barrel in July 2008, which led some negative prognosticators to get a little cocky. One of the leading doomsters, Houston investment banker Matthew Simmons, told CNBC in July 2008, "The idea that it's a bubble is all poppycock." He confidently added that the price of oil "is not going to collapse." Simmons advised Americans to move into villages and to buy locally produced foods and goods.

Prices did surge again, but human ingenuity in form of fracking and other innovations proved again that extent of resources is determined by technology and markets not just the accumulation of stuff in the ground. Global production soared and prices fell. The peak oil chorus of doom has largely gone silent. Over at RealClear Politics, there is a terrific article detailing the sorry history of periodic peak oil hysteria. From the article:

This perception that we would run out of oil, and sooner rather than later, became more than a theory, one that went by the name "peak oil." It became a kind of catechism. It was included in the prayer books of the environmental movement and incorporated into the legislative history and language of U.S. federal energy policy. It became an underlying basis for everything from Jimmy Carter's admonition to turn down the nation's thermostats, the enactment of 55-mile-per-hour speed limits, and federal mandates on gasoline standards for cars and trucks.

Today, the question is how policymakers should one react when the conventional wisdom is proven so spectacularly wrong, as is the case here. ...

One factor the peak-oil adherents never seemed to consider was that the supply of oil, like many commodities, was directly influenced by price—and that drillers and investors previously not searching for it would return to exploration if market prices became high enough.

"The biggest supporters of Peak Oil almost all are petroleum geologists; almost none of them are economists," said Ronald Bailey, an author and science correspondent with Reason magazine who has written extensively on climate and energy. "They really don't understand markets."

*Oh, wait. The article quotes me. Despite that, reading the whole column is well worth your time.

A.M. Links: Detroit News Endorses Gary Johnson for President, Obama Takes on Trump, Latest on Police Killing in El Cajon


  • (image) The Detroit News: "Libertarian Gary Johnson for president."
  • In a CNN town hall appearance last night, President Barack Obama referred to Donald Trump's claims about waning U.S. power as "blah, blah. It's nonsense."
  • Police in El Cajon, California, say 38-year-old Alfred Okwera Olango pointed a vaping device at police before he was shot and killed by an officer.
  • Indian forces killed two Pakistani soldiers in the disputed Kashmir region.
  • According to a new report from Amnesty International, Sudan used chemical weapons in Darfur.
  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit has struck down New Hampshire's ban on taking "selfies" inside the voting both, calling it unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

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Judge Sides with Brown U. Student Suspended for Sexual Assault, Calls Campus Activists ‘Woefully Ignorant’


A Brown University student who was suspended for sexual misconduct will get another chance to prove his innocence before a university panel, according to a judge's decision. The accusation against the male student, "John Doe," stemmed from a sexual encounter with "Ann Roe" on November 10, 2014. But Roe did not file a complaint against Doe until October 30, 2015—nearly a full year after the incident. Over the course of that year, Brown changed its sexual misconduct policy, and Doe was eventually found responsible under the new consent standard—a standard that hadn't yet existed on the night that he and Roe engaged in sexual activity. On Wednesday, Doe prevailed in his lawsuit against Brown. Rhode Island District Court Judge William E. Smith agreed with Doe that the university had held him to an impossibly high standard: it found him guilty of sexual assault because he had "manipulated" Roe, even though the 2014 sexual misconduct policy did not explicitly outlaw manipulation. "When combined with other errors set forth herein, it is clear that Doe's contract rights were violated," wrote Smith in his decision. That doesn't mean that Doe didn't assault Roe—a subsequent university rape tribunal could still determine that he behaved improperly. But Brown is obligated to consider the sexual consent definitions it had in place in 2014, instead of the new, stricter definitions it codified after the alleged assault. The judge reserved some of his harshest criticisms for the (presumably left-leaning) campus activists who sent him angry emails demanding that he rule against Doe: These tactics, while perhaps appropriate and effective in influencing legislators or officials in the executive branch, have no place in the judicial process. This is basic civics, and one would think students and others affiliated with a prestigious Ivy League institution would know this. Moreover, having read a few of the emails, it is abundantly clear that the writers, while passionate, were woefully ignorant about the issues before the Court. Hopefully, they will read this decision and be educated. The encounter between Doe and Roe took place in an ostensibly public part of the student center that was secluded and hidden from view. Doe and Roe had earlier exchanged sexually charged text messages that suggest—to my mind, at least—both parties had every intention of sleeping together. According to Roe, they sat down to watch a movie together in the student center. Doe quickly escalated things. Roe initially objected, but eventually felt like she had no choice but to satisfy him with oral sex. Doe disagreed vehemently with this version of events, according to the judge's decision. He said that Roe climbed on top of him, and repeatedly turned the lights off (they kept coming back on, I guess) of her own volition. She had every opportunity to leave, if she had wanted to, he said. The incident was investigated by a single individual, lawyer Djuna Perkins, who prepared a report and then submitted it to a three-person panel. According to the investigation, one witness claimed that Roe had subsequently described the encounter as "really hot" and suggested that she had wished they had done more than just oral sex. But in the many, many months between the encounter and the investigation, Brown had revised its sexual misconduct policy. While the initial policy did not properly define sexual assault as anything other than "forced sex," the new policy incl[...]

There’s More to Life Than the Presidential Election: New at Reason


(image) Monday's presidential debate probably did not cheer up voters who see the election as a choice between diabetes and terminal cancer—an awful affliction versus a fatal one. But at times like this, it is useful to remember that many things are beyond the control of the person occupying the Oval Office, some of which are welcome.

The chief source of alarm today is that one of these two will have many opportunities to interfere with our lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness. But in many ways, citizens are gaining control rather than losing it. Steve Chapman explains more.

View this article.

Brickbat: Phantom Tickets


(image) Last year, Joseph Youngstein's 2004 Dodge Durango was stolen and totaled. He turned the plates in to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles and got a receipt saying they'd been destroyed. So he wonders why he keeps getting tickets issued to the old license plates. He is also angry that his new vehicle, a Chevy Equinox with completely different plates, got booted because of all the tickets on the old plates.

Beyond the Presidency, Reasons to Go on Living


Monday's presidential debate probably did not cheer up voters who see the election as a choice between diabetes and terminal cancer—an awful affliction versus a fatal one. But at times like this, it is useful to remember that many things are beyond the control of the person occupying the Oval Office, some of which are welcome. The chief source of alarm today is that one of these two will have many opportunities to interfere with our lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness. But in many ways, citizens are gaining control rather than losing it. On Election Day, voters in four states will decide on medical use of marijuana. Better yet, five, including California, will decide whether to allow, um, nonmedical use. Four states and the District of Columbia have already legalized recreational cannabis. The trend is in keeping with a public that has decided adults should be free to decide for themselves whether to use pot to treat pain or illness or to get high. A Gallup Poll last year found that 58 percent of Americans support full legalization—up from 36 percent a decade ago. None of this affects the federal ban, which will remain in place. But both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have indicated they would let states do as they please. Their acceptance of change is also on display with regard to same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court granted it constitutional protection in 2015, but Supreme Court rulings sometimes inflame rather than quell controversy. Not this time. At the beginning of Barack Obama's presidency, just 40 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage—Obama not among them. Today, 61 percent do. The next president will have to contend with a public that is weary of fighting costly wars that don't directly advance our national security. Clinton, whose record has been biased toward military action, got surprisingly little attention a few weeks ago when she steered conspicuously the other way. "We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again, and we're not putting ground troops into Syria," she declared. "We're going to defeat ISIS without committing American ground troops." During the debate, Trump faulted her for making public her plan to fight the Islamic State, but not for rejecting the use of ground forces. Though vague on his own plan, he stresses his (fictitious) claim that he opposed the Iraq War before it began, and he says, "I am going to have very few troops on the ground." Fiscal realities will the limit the ambitions of the next president. The profligacy of the past mandates frugality in the future. It will not be easy to find money for the new ventures the candidates have in mind. "By 2022, nearly every dollar of revenue the U.S. collects will have been committed before Congress even takes a vote, according to an analysis by Eugene Steuerle of the Urban Institute," The Wall Street Journal reported. "With more and more federal spending on autopilot, there is 'almost no discretion or flexibility to act to address new challenges without having to renege on past promises to the public,' says Mr. Steuerle, a Treasury official in the Reagan administration." The swollen federal debt will discourage extravagance. Trump's fiscal plan, which the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says would add more than $5 trillion to the debt, would have trouble getting through Congress. Clinton plans to pay for al[...]

California Passes Law That Could Make Getting Any Autographed Book or Art in the State Very Difficult [UPDATED]


California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law this month Assembly Bill 1570, masquerading as some light consumer protection, expanding an existing law that applied just to sports memorabilia to all autographed items. It could if fully enforced squash, among other things, the practice of author book events in the state. The bill, in its own language, demands that "all autographed items" in the state sold by a dealer (defined as "a person who is in the business of selling or offering for sale collectibles in or from this state, or a person who by his or her occupation holds himself or herself out as having knowledge or skill peculiar to collectibles") for more than $5 (that's five) come with a signed, dated, in at least 10-point boldfaced type "certificate of authenticity to the consumer at the time of sale." That certificate cannot be generic pre-printed boilerplate paperwork, but must: 1) Describe the collectible and specify the name of the personality who autographed it; (2) Either specify the purchase price and date of sale or be accompanied by a separate invoice setting forth that information. (3) Contain an express warranty, which shall be conclusively presumed to be part of the bargain, of the authenticity of the collectible....(4) Specify whether the collectible is offered as one of a limited edition and, if so, specify (A) how the collectible and edition are numbered and (B) the size of the edition and the size of any prior or anticipated future edition, if known..." Wait, there's more. This certificate, which the dealer must now by law keep a stored copy of for at least seven years from sale, must also: (5) Indicate whether the dealer is surety bonded or is otherwise insured to protect the consumer against errors and omissions of the dealer and, if bonded or insured, provide proof thereof; (6) Indicate the last four digits of the dealer's resale certificate number from the State Board of Equalization; (7) Indicate whether the item was autographed in the presence of the dealer and specify the date and location of, and the name of a witness to, the autograph signing; (8) Indicate whether the item was obtained or purchased from a third party. If so, indicate the name and address of this third party; (9) Include an identifying serial number that corresponds to an identifying number printed on the collectible item, if any. The serial number shall also be printed on the sales receipt. If the sales receipt is printed electronically, the dealer may manually write the serial number on the receipt." Such sellers of autographed items must also: at the location where the collectible is offered for sale and in close proximity to the collectible merchandise, [display] a conspicuous sign that reads as follows: "SALE OF AUTOGRAPHED MEMORABILIA: AS REQUIRED BY LAW, A DEALER WHO SELLS TO A CONSUMER ANY MEMORABILIA DESCRIBED AS BEING AUTOGRAPHED MUST PROVIDE A WRITTEN CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY AT THE TIME OF SALE. THIS DEALER MAY BE SURETY BONDED OR OTHERWISE INSURED TO ENSURE THE AUTHENTICITY OF ANY COLLECTIBLE SOLD BY THIS DEALER." Exempted are pawnbrokers, online sales sites (though not the dealers using the sites), and the actual human doing the autographing if he's also the person selling the item. Various state booksellers are pretty steamed about this, for the onerous paperwork requirements it places on the to[...]

Republican Senators (Including Mike Lee) Again Attempt to Blockade Online Gambling


What do a couple of the least libertarian Senate Republicans in office, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, have in common with libertarian-leaning GOP conservative Sen. Mike Lee of Utah? All three of them are down on the idea of unfettered gambling on the Internet, and the day after casino magnate Sheldon Adelson gave $20 million to a Super PAC that helps Senate Republican races, the three of have revived legislation to try to ban it. The proposed legislation is remarkably short. The actual text of the bill is about as long as its title. We might as well excerpt the whole thing: To ensure the integrity of laws enacted to prevent the use of financial instruments for funding or operating online casinos are not undermined by legal opinions not carrying the force of law issued by Federal Government lawyers. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. REAFFIRMATION OF PROHIBITION ON FUNDING OF UNLAWFUL INTERNET GAMBLING. The Memorandum Opinion for the Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, dated September 20, 2011, shall have no force or effect for the purposes of interpreting section 5362(10) of title 31, United States Code. Interesting how a bill doesn't have to be wordy to be incomprehensible. To explain, the "opinion" being referenced in this text is a recent legal interpretation of the 1961 federal Wire Act—which bans interstate sports betting—that has determined that the Act does not actually ban other types of internet gambling on the federal level. Thus states have authority to decide for themselves whether to allow it. And so some states, like Nevada, legalized online poker in a very, very limited fashion. The growth of online gambling presents a massive threat to the bottom line of brick-and-mortar casino magnates like Adelson (though some other casinos are embracing online betting). So, much like a restaurant owner trying to convince a city council to ban food trucks, Adelson has committed a ton of money to try to fight internet gambling. This bill would be an attempt to legislatively overrule the Justice Department's interpretation of the law. Despite Lee's libertarian leanings, this opposition to Internet gambling is not new, and it's unlikely that Adelson's support influenced in position. He has previously attempted to pass legislation to undo the Justice Department's interpretation of the law. In an interview with Reason in 2014 he explained that because internet gambling crosses state borders, it is appropriate for the federal government to play a role in defining the rules. In particular, he thinks federal regulation needs to be set up specifically so that people can't use the internet to bypass their home state's own laws or restrictions: [T]his is actually a necessary step to take to respect each state's right to decide whether or to what extent to allow gambling and that's necessary in order to preserve each state's right to decide. Otherwise, you could have one state here or there authorizing gambling and if no one is able to prohibit Internet gambling, then people in every state would be able to gamble. In May, Veronique de Rugy broke down the intense crony protectionism undergirding attempts to ban online gambling.[...]

Gary Johnson Gets ANGRY Over Foreign Policy And Exclusion From Debates (You Will Too)!


Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has made being a nice, non-combative guy a central part of his campaign strategy.

But just minutes before Monday's debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Johnson lashed out at U.S. foreign policy failures, his exclusion by the Commission on Presidential Debates, and the media's fixation on his Aleppo gaffe rather than his larger point that the nation's interventions have "thousands of people dying" while failing to establish peace.

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Watch Gary Johnson Get ANGRY Over Foreign Policy And Exclusion From Debates (You Will Too)!


Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has made being a nice, non-combative guy a central part of his campaign strategy. But just minutes before Monday's debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Johnson lashed out at U.S. foreign policy failures, his exclusion by the Commission on Presidential Debates, and the media's fixation on his Aleppo gaffe rather than his larger point that the nation's interventions have "thousands of people dying" while failing to establish peace. When asked by reporters at Twitter's New York headquarters how he would talk about foreign policy, the former two-term New Mexico governor raged: I want to stop with these military interventions! In my heart, I don't want to send our men and servicewomen to lose their lives, and I don't want to them to be responsible for what are ultimately thousands of innocent people being killed in these countries. So Hillary Clinton dots the i's and crosses the t's on all the names and everything associated with this, but as a result of that, we have the foreign policy that we have now, that I have to tell you I think is horrible. Horrible! And that's how I would answer it tonight. I would be mad. I would be angry. i would be angry that people would people would be calling me out on the names, geographic locations, names of foreign leaders, when the underlying policy has thousands of people dying. And that is unacceptable. Johnson and his running mate William Weld took questions from reporters at Twitter's Manhattan headquarters when Bloomberg reporter Arit John asked, "If you were in the debate, how would you handle some of these detailed policy questions?" The reporter also referenced Johnson's infamous "What is Aleppo?" gaffe. Johnson flew off the handle again minutes later when asked whether he and Weld were "spoiler candidates." Johnson furrowed his brow and barked: Why would you even say that?...We're giving people a chance to vote for something, as opposed to the lesser of two evils. That's what we are providing, first vote. You want to waste your vote with Clinton...or Trump, go right ahead and waste your vote. We're not spoilers, we are the first vote! So I guess we should drop out? Is that your editorial, should we drop out?" Later on Monday night, during a Facebook Live interview, Reason's Matt Welch, who was hosting the Q&A, asked Johnson about the perception that he's "goofy." Johnson replied: If goofy means being fiscally conservative, small government, being a good steward of tax dollars, if goofy means standing up for civil liberties, you and I being able to make choices in our lives, if goofy means standing up for military personnel that we're putting in harm's way, if goofy means saying...let's stop with the regime changes, if goofy is supporting free markets, more US jobs, I'm the goofiest guy in the whole planet! In a Facebook Live interview filmed on Tuesday morning after the debate, Johnson explained that his outbursts stem from the fact that U.S. servicemen and women "have to pull those triggers" and kill innocent people in misbegotten conflicts. That's not their fault, that's the fault of political leadership. And these are the people I'm debating? And these are the people I'm debating? And I'm speaking specifically about Hillary [...]