2017-01-22T07:00:00-05:00The House by the Lake: One House, Five Families, and a Hundred Years of German History, by Thomas Harding, Picador, 464 pages, $28 A few miles west of Berlin, a little house sits on Groß Glienicke lake, a quiet eye in the storm of Europe's worst century ever. Nazi bureaucrats arrived at their Final Solution at nearby Wannsee. The Red Army poured through at the end of World War II. Churchill and Truman drove past on their way to meet Stalin in Potsdam. The Berlin Airlift rattled the cupboards as planes landed at and left Gatow airfield. Secret policemen lurked as the Berlin Wall rose. The house endured the long, twilight struggle of the Cold War, the fall of the Wall, and the reunification of Germany. In 1927, during Germany's sunny Weimar interlude, Dr. Alfred Alexander, head of Berlin's Chamber of Physicians, commissioned a simple wooden cottage as a family retreat. When he tacked a mezuzah by the front door, it was a gesture to a faith worn lightly. Alexander and his family called themselves "three-days-a-year Jews": observant during high holidays, but thoroughly assimilated into Berlin's cosmopolitan upper middle class. The Alexanders delighted in sun-drenched al fresco meals on the terrace. The children swam and rowed in clear, cool waters. Daughter Elsie was particularly fond of the peace and beauty of the lake house; she called it her "soul place." But the rise of the Third Reich brought an end to those reveries. At university, Elsie had to display little yellow stars on her textbooks. Brownshirts demonstrated outside their city home. Whispered warnings circulated. Elsie and her sister pleaded with their father to leave Germany. He told Elsie, "I was a soldier and an officer in the war and I received the Iron Cross. Nothing will happen to me." In the end, the Alexanders left for England, their valuables sewn into their coats, just before escape became impossible. In 2013 one of their descendants travelled to Groß Glienicke to see the place his family had once treasured. British journalist Thomas Harding, Elsie's grandson, found an inauspicious hovel scheduled for demolition. "There was a sadness to the place," he writes, "the melancholy of a building abandoned." He set about discovering the full, poignant history of his grandmother's soul place—the land, the house, and all who called it home. He uncovered remarkable stories, some forgotten to history, others deliberately concealed. And he shared them in his book, The House by the Lake. Soon after the family's escape, the Gestapo seized their home and Alexander's medical practice. As Harding mentions in an endnote, the punctilious police reviewed the doctor's books and proceeded to collect on his accounts receivable. Panicked patients paid up, though some complained they shouldn't have to pay for services from a Jew. The Reich sold the lake house at a deep discount to a cheerful, enterprising conformist named Will Meisel. A music publisher, he spent much of the war in Groß Glienicke, producing musical theater and benefitting from a pragmatic enlistment in the Nazi Party. Flights of hundreds of Allied bombers heralded the coming end of the war. The Red Army swept through Groß Glienicke in the final days. Their victory celebrations came at the expense of a young mother at a neighboring house who, like hundreds of thousands of other German women, survived several rapes by Russian soldiers. The war left no visible scars on Meisel or the house. After a lengthy denazification the producer was cleared to work, but he lost claim to the lake house as the Iron Curtain descended across Europe. One great value of The House by the Lake is its wealth of fresh detail on life along the border of East and West during the long, gray decades of the Cold War. Harding gives overdue attention to a time often fast-forwarded through in our historical memory. The line between East Germany and West Berlin cut through the back yard of the lake house, but the border was porous in the early postwar period. In Groß Glienicke, East and West German media intermingled on the airw[...]
On January 21, an estimated 500,000 people attended the Women's March in Washington, D.C. as a protest against incoming President Donald Trump.
Reason TV spoke with protesters to find out what they fear the most about a Trump presidency and what they hope their rally will accomplish. We also talked with members of the Ladies of Liberty Alliance (LOLA), a feminist group that approaches gender issues from a libertarian perspective.
Produced by Todd Krainin and Joshua Swain. Camera by Mark McDaniel, Swain, and Krainin, who also edited.
2017-01-21T19:21:00-05:00Newly inaugurated President Donald Trump continued his celebratory weekend by stopping by the Central Intelligence Agency on Saturday afternoon to give a stream-of-consciousness-style address praising the nation's spies, regurgitating campaign moments, (once again) arguing that America should have seized Iraqi oil after the 2003 invasion, and bemoaning how America supposedly "never wins anything anymore." The weirdest part of the whole thing, though, was the loud ovation given by CIA staffers after Trump blasted the media as being "among the most dishonest human beings on Earth." Listen to the moment, which happens just after the 10:30 mark: src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GMBqDN7-QLg" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0"> Apparently feeding off the applause, Trump doubled down and claimed, without any evidence at all, that the media had covered up the size of the crowd at his inauguration. He claimed to have seen a report this morning claiming turnout of 250,000 for his speech, but the president said that could not have been true because he saw people lined up "all the way back to the Washington monument" when he spoke. "That's not bad, but it's a lie," he said. "We caught them. We caught them in a beauty and I'm sure they're going to pay a big price." Is this really where we are right now? Day One of the new administration and the president feels like the most pressing issue in the country is whether or not the media accurately reported on the number of people who showed up to hear him speak yesterday? Trump showed during the campaign that he's a man fascinated with the size of, well, many things. At his rallies, he never failed to note the size of the crowd and would frequently ask the cameras to pan around the room to capture it. This became a sort of self-fulfilling promise. Like his poll numbers, the size of his crowds were taken as an indication that he was doing well, and doing well was all that mattered. I guess we shouldn't be surprised that Trump the president is no different from Trump the candidate, but come on. This is the behavior of a child upset because his classmates failed to attend his birthday party. It's certainly not the behavior of a president who, in Friday's address, promised "the time for empty talk is over; now arrives the hour of action." It's not just Trump. His press secretary, Sean Spicer, held a briefing on Saturday evening to similarly blast the media over the inaugural attendance figures. As Robby Soave notes, the whole incident is "deeply symptomatic of the president's commitment to self-aggrandizement" and his inability to accept even the most venial slights. Trump claiming, without any supporting evidence, that the media is lying about him is nothing new. Neither is his vague threats about making the media "pay a big price," as he put it on Saturday at the CIA. He cut off some outlets from covering his campaign when he didn't like what they said about him, but now that he's the president such threats have to be seen in a different light. Coming from a man who said he wanted "to open up" libel laws in order to allow public figures like himself to sue media outlets over negative press, these moments have to be seen for what they are: outright attacks on the First Amendment, coming just a day after Trump swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. The pivot is coming tomorrow, I'm sure. [...]
2017-01-21T19:03:00-05:00Well that was something. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made a public statement this afternoon in which he eviscerated the press for reporting (correctly) that President Trump's inauguration drew smaller crowds than President Obama's. Spicer was also furious at TIME for claming that the White House removed a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. This story was indeed inaccurate—the bust was not removed. Trump also slammed the reporter, Zeke Miller, during his press conference at the CIA earlier today. Miller quickly corrected his reporting and apologized to the White House. Sean Spicer even tweeted "Apology accepted." Correction: The MLK bust is still in the Oval Office. It was obscured by an agent and door. — Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) January 21, 2017 But during Spicer's afternoon address to the media, the issue was again raised. More alarming was Spicer's attacks on the media for pointing out the true fact that there weren't as many people at the inauguration as anticipated. Spicer claimed that the decision to put white covers over the grass on the National Mall made gaps in the crowds more obvious than they had been for previous inaugurations. "This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe," said Spicer. "Attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong." It isn't shameful to lessen public enthusiasm for the inauguration, given that Trump's inauguration speech was a dark moment for U.S. economic policy. But anyway, there's little reason to believe Trump's inauguration crowds were as large as Obama's. As New York Times correspondent Binyamin Applebaum tweeted, the images speak for themselves. Compare the crowds: 2009 inauguration at left, 2017 inauguration at right.#Inauguration pic.twitter.com/y7RhIR2nfC — Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) January 20, 2017 Note that the Department of the Interior retweeted the above tweet, which apparently got the agency in trouble with its new boss. Spicer claimed that the number of people using the D.C. Metro this weekend supported his contention that the Trump crowds were massive, but according to The Washington Post, Metro usage was down significantly: 570,000 trips compared to 1.1 million in 2009 and 700,000 in 2013. It's true the media has made mistakes when writing about Trump. BuzzFeed made a major one, TIME a lesser one. But that does not change the fact that Trump lies through his teeth about everything. The argument about inauguration crowds may seem like an unimportant aspect of Trump's lies, but it's deeply symptomatic of the president's commitment to self-aggrandizement. He is a uniquely thin-skinned political figure who can't stand to have the pageantry of his reign mocked or criticized. If you say the emperor has no clothes, be prepared to be accused of peddling fake news. The denizens of a free society should be disturbed that their president demands everyone recognize the greatness and bigness of his crowds. Watch Spicer's presser here. [...]
2017-01-21T15:29:00-05:00The Women's March in Washington, DC today was massively attended and sprawling in its range of speakers, performers, and attendees. As with many such events, the tent keeps getting bigger until it is so large that no real political agenda is put forward. You can read the organizers' principles here. Whether the march succeeds in "launching a movement" is anybody's guess, but the relative failure of the Tea Party and Occupy Movements to either stick to effective single-issue advocacy (pushing against spending, in the case of the Tea Party) or even persist (Occupy) suggest how hard it is to transform marches into movements. At the very least, though, the size of the march is a visible indicator that the country remains sharply divided politically. Curiously (and despite his "pussy-grabbing" comments that surfaced during the campaign), the focus of ire—Donald Trump—supports paid parental leave and equal pay for women, He also (scandalously for a Republican) has praised Planned Parenthood despite being anti-abortion. Comments by Ashley Judd, who has made controversial statements about everything from politics to hip-hop (which she once called part of "rape culture"), have been flowing freely on Twitter since she appeared earlier today. She recited a poem written by a 19-year-old Tennessee woman named Nina Donovan and that ended in a full-fury callout against Donald Trump. Along the way, she trafficked in some dodgy stats about pay inequality among women of different races and ethnicities and castigated states that levy sales tax on tampons but not Rogaine (a treatment for baldness). But it's also a pretty great riff about "nasty women" and feminism too. I suspect that how you react to Judd's comments—she starts out by cutting off filmmaker Michael Moore—will say a lot about how you respond more generally to the demonstration itself. Take a look now: src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VNXMOxBbt6g" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0"> Between today's march and yesterday's inaugural address, one thing is clear: The two major parties and the ideological positions that they represent are pretty much locked in mutual strangleholds. Despite winning the White House and holding majorities in both houses of Congress, the Republican Party is at odds with broad and mostly growing majorities of Americans when it comes to issues such as immigration, marriage equality, pot legalization, and free trade. Despite claiming to favor smaller government, the last time the party held such control of the federal government, it massively increased spending in all areas, from entitlements to education to defense to welfare. If Republicans govern like that again while working overtime to placate social conservatives, their majority will be short-lived. Democrats have their own obvious problems. Their practical leadership, such as it is, is ancient not simply in chronological terms (Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren are all old) but in policy terms. The Democratic agenda as implemented by Barack Obama in his first two years in office (when the Democrats controlled Congress) was unpopular enough to elect a Republican Congress again. Obamacare is clearly not working as intended and remains genuinely unpopular with people. Decreasing numbers of us trust the government to be competent in controlling more aspects of our personal and work lives, which seems to be all the Democrats talk about. Their ideas are all rehashes from the last gasp of liberalism in the late 1970s, as if even the presidency of Bill Clinton never happened. In terms of politics, we seem stuck between two false choices that fewer and fewer of us want to make. To riff off a sign I saw during coverage of today's march, we have one tribe that wants the government to control women's uteruses and another one that want the government out of uteruses, except to pay for all health care. The general intellectual i[...]
(image) The comedian Gallagher once joked that customers don't like to hear they're being charged more for using credit cards—they'd rather hear they're getting a "discount for cash." But in New York and some other states, it's not just what customers want to hear. Telling customers there's a surcharge to pay by credit card can actually land business owners in jail. Yet it's perfectly legal to tell them something costs less if they pay cash.
That, at least, is how New York officials enforced the law, which—read literally—actually only prohibits shopkeepers from charging customers different prices depending on how they pay. Passed in the 1980s, the law is supposedly intended to protect consumers from hidden fees. But business owners must pay processing fees that don't apply to cash transactions. Charging customers to pay that fee makes perfect sense. That's why New York officials didn't punish businesses that said they were giving cash customers a discount.
Yet that also means the state was violating the free speech rights of businesses who used the word "surcharge"—which, after all, is the truth. Business owners therefore sued on First Amendment grounds, and the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case last week. Timothy Sandefur explains why the Court needs to respect the First Amendment and rule against the state's unconstitutional regulation.
2017-01-21T10:00:00-05:00The comedian Gallagher once joked that customers don't like to hear they're being charged more for using credit cards—they'd rather hear they're getting a "discount for cash." But in New York and some other states, it's not just what customers want to hear. Telling customers there's a surcharge to pay by credit card can actually land business owners in jail. Yet it's perfectly legal to tell them something costs less if they pay cash. That, at least, is how New York officials enforced the law, which—read literally—actually only prohibits shopkeepers from charging customers different prices depending on how they pay. Passed in the 1980s, the law is supposedly intended to protect consumers from hidden fees. But business owners must pay processing fees that don't apply to cash transactions. Charging customers to pay that fee makes perfect sense. That's why New York officials didn't punish businesses that said they were giving cash customers a discount. Yet that also means the state was violating the free speech rights of businesses who used the word "surcharge"—which, after all, is the truth. Business owners therefore sued on First Amendment grounds, and the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case last week. The Court has made clear that government can't punish people simply because they express themselves in one way or another. Laws must limit actions, not words. Yet the law's actual language makes no reference to speech. It just says, "No seller…may impose a surcharge on a [customer] who elects to use a credit card." As Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out at the January 10 hearing, that language doesn't seem like a limit on free speech—it's just a kind of price control. How, he asked, could the law violate the First Amendment if it only limits what store owners do, not what they say? Business lawyers answered that however the law may read, it's only enforced when shopkeepers call the price difference a "surcharge," rather than a "discount." But there's a deeper sense in which the New York law violates the Constitution: all price restrictions are limits on free speech. That's because prices are just a way of conveying information. For any product or service on the market, the price is simply a number that represents what the owner is willing to trade for. That number is based on many different factors—how much flour goes into a cake, how much labor goes into a car, how much research goes into a new medical treatment—but ultimately all a price does is convey information about the scarcity of the ingredients that go into that product, and how what other people are willing to give in exchange for that product. As economist Thomas Sowell has put it, "prices are like messengers conveying news." Laws that ban companies from charging what they want don't make products or services cheaper, any more than the government can simply declare that cakes can be baked without flour or cars made without labor. All that price controls do is ban companies from telling people what the products and services are actually worth. Such laws, writes Sowell, "[do] not change the underlying scarcity in the slightest." Price control laws are like painting over the numbers on your speedometer in order to comply with the speed limit. If companies are punished for charging what something is worth, they will just stop selling it. Justice Breyer hinted at this fact in a question to the business's lawyer. Recalling the Depression-era Office of Price Administration, he explained, "Ken Galbraith ran it for a while. And they would—what they would do, he said, is they'd go around and they'd smell what the price was," and "you couldn't charge a higher price. Would you have come in and said, Ken Galbraith says you can only charge $13 for this item. It violates our free speech?" The answer is yes: saying a $50 item only costs $13—or that credit card transactions have no cost—or[...]
2017-01-21T09:15:00-05:00Donald Trump's rise from political outsider to President of the United States, carried by a populist uprising against the ruling class, has drawn comparisons to Andrew Jackson, America's first populist president. Commentators and historians alike have noted the similarities between Trump and Jackson, and Trump's inner circle seems to have embraced Jackson as something of a role model. Steve Bannon, Trump's senior counselor, told The Hollywood Reporter that he sees Jackson's presidency as guide for how to "build an entirely new political movement." Trump's inaugural address on Friday was an extension of his populist campaign, and, intentionally or not, reflected Jackson's first inaugural address from 188 years ago. Both promised to reform the federal government, expand national infrastructure, and provide for a more robust military. When he took the oath of office and delivered his first inaugural, Jackson claimed that his victory was a "demonstration of public sentiment" calling for reforms to "the patronage of the Federal Government," which Jackson said, "have placed or continued power in unfaithful or incompetent hands." Sound familiar? On Friday, Trump promised that his administration would transfer power back to the people. "A small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost," he said. "Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth." Times have changed since 1829, of course. Jackson stepped into White House as the leader of a nation that barely stretched west of the Mississippi River and still allowed human beings to be kept as property. Trump is the leader of a global superpower with a whole different set of problems. The major difference between the two, at least in terms of how they rose to the presidency, is that Jackson lost his first bid for the White House in 1824—in what's certainly the most controversial election in U.S. history; one that makes Bush V. Gore look tame by comparison—before winning four years later. Still, the similarities abound. Jackson, like Trump, was a political novice when he ran for president and was very much outside the political establishment of the day. Like Trump, he campaigned against that establishment and had the good fortune of doing so at a moment in history when existing political alliance and battle-lines were being redrawn. Against those fracturing political alliances, Jackson's name-recognition and fame (he had been a general during the War of 1812 and was hailed as a hero of that conflict's Battle of New Orleans) helped him stand out—in much the same way that Trump used his own name-recognition and fame to rise to the top of a deeply divided Republican Party. On Friday, Trump bemoaned the loss of "trillions of dollars" rebuilding infrastructure in foreign countries and called for building of "new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation." Jackson, too, promised the then-expanding United States a program of "internal improvement and the diffusion of knowledge, so far as they can be promoted by the constitutional acts of the federal government." Likewise, on foreign policy, Trump's promise to "seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first," echoes Jackson. "With foreign nations it will be my study to preserve peace and to cultivate friendship on fair and honorable terms," the seventh president, presiding over a pre-superpower America, said. Perhaps a bit of that 19th century humility would be a good thing for America's foreign policy two centuries later. Yet, if Trump sees himself as something of a modern day Jacksonian figure (and he has the hair for it, if nothing else), then there are other lessons for Trump to[...]
(image) In Virginia, where Founding Father George Washington famously distilled whiskey, momentum is growing to change a decades-old Virginia law that hurts restaurateurs who opt to sell liquor in the state.
Under the law, the state requires food and nonalcoholic beverage sales at restaurants to equal at least 45 percent of their gross sales of liquor and food. Today, the state touts this ratio as "paramount." Restaurateurs argue otherwise.
As the Virginian-Pilot reported this week, the basis of the law, first established in the late 1960s and amended in 1980, is baldly prohibitionist. Lawmakers, the paper reports, "didn't want saloons propagating across the state." Baylen Linnekin explains the silliness of these regulations.
2017-01-21T08:00:00-05:00In Virginia, where Founding Father George Washington famously distilled whiskey, momentum is growing to change a decades-old Virginia law that hurts restaurateurs who opt to sell liquor in the state. Under the law, the state requires food and nonalcoholic beverage sales at restaurants to equal at least 45 percent of their gross sales of liquor and food. Today, the state touts this ratio as "paramount." Restaurateurs argue otherwise. As the Virginian-Pilot reported this week, the basis of the law, first established in the late 1960s and amended in 1980, is baldly prohibitionist. Lawmakers, the paper reports, "didn't want saloons propagating across the state." The law's also protectionist. "The ratio lives on because of a powerful group of established Richmond restaurateurs," writes attorney C. Jarrett Dieterle. "They are quick to invoke the absolute horrors of bars and nightclubs dotting every Virginia street corner, alleging that repeal of the ratio would lead to an abundance of seedy, alcohol-infused, crime-infested neighborhoods." Dieterle rightly calls that "hooey." Add, too, to the list of hooey that the law infringes on the rights of restaurant owners, and limits choice for consumers. And it's difficult to comply with, in that it's next to impossible for a restaurateur to predict how much food or alcohol customers might want consume. The law is also discriminatory. In part, that's because it's based on the price that a restaurant sells its food and drinks. Last year, a Virginia restaurant and craft-bourbon bar that had been penalized under the law sued the state. The suit, by McCormack's Whisky Grill and Smokehouse, argues the law discriminates against businesses that sell costly high-end liquors and favors those who sell cheap spirits—since the law is based on dollar value of sales, rather than quantity of sales. Unsurprisingly, the law has forced some restaurants to abstain from selling higher-end drinks. Restaurants like McCormack's that skirt the law face the suspension or loss of their license. Virginia is hardly alone in enforcing such laws. Other states, counties, and cities around the country have similar rules in place. North Carolina law requires at least 30 percent food sales. Nearly two-thirds of Kansas counties require the same. And Gainesville, Fla. requires restaurants to generate at least half of their sales from food. Last year, Rome, Ga. lawmakers proposed eliminating the city's 50/50 requirement—though only for the city-owned convention center, rather than for privately owned establishments. Nearby Alpharetta, Ga. rules effectively don't allow bars. The city's 50 percent requirement for food and alcohol sales—which had been 60 percent until being lowered in 2011—is intended "to ensure the city had no bars, where alcohol sales were primary." Alpharetta recently made a creative change to the 50 percent rule for restaurants, adopting a law that sales from food trucks parked in front of restaurants could contribute toward a restaurant's required food sales. That may sound nice, but the law requires restaurants "to maintain sales records from each truck and submit a monthly report." Such onerous recordkeeping and paperwork requirements like these are a necessary feature of the abysmal ratio laws. Maryland requires the submission of regular notarized reports to a county liquor board. And in Virginia, the law requires "restaurants that sell liquor must tally their receipts each year and prove 45 percent came from food sales." But these requirements often don't stop at paperwork. Virginia orders restaurants to provide food menu items "anytime during your operating hours" as proof of their commitment to serving food. Inspectors who visit may test this out, and will "want to see food in your freezer and other food storage facilities." And if a re[...]
2017-01-21T07:30:00-05:00Two members of Young Americans for Liberty's (YAL) Kellogg Community College (KCC) chapter have filed suit against the Michigan school following their arrest on campus last September for passing out pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution without administrative permission. Michelle Gregoire (a student at KCC) and Brandon Withers, along with KCC's YAL chapter are suing the school, its Board of Trustees, and several high-ranking administrators for violating the students' "clearly established constitutional rights" when they were charged with trespassing and jailed for seven hours (the charges which were dismissed 10 days later, according to Watchdog.org). The plaintiffs claim the school violated their rights of freedom of speech, due process, and equal protection under the law, and as a public institution, KCC is bound by the First Amendment. Before having campus police place them under arrest, school administrators insisted Gregoire and Withers were in violation of the school's solicitation policy because they had not received prior approval to recruit for their organization, which the students claimed they had repeatedly attempted to obtain through official channels to no avail. Watch video of their arrest below, where Gregoire is warned to not return to campus without permission, even though she attends the school: src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/5OnIuRetVb4" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0"> The lawsuit alleges, "By policy and practice, Kellogg Community College claims the unchecked right to prohibit students from engaging in practically any constitutionally protected expression anywhere on campus unless they first obtain permission from KCC officials," adding: Thus, students may not speak spontaneously anywhere on campus. Furthermore, KCC maintains an unwritten speech zone policy limiting student expression to one location on campus. If students express themselves on campus without a permit or in any other location, KCC deems them to be violating the Code of Conduct for Students, which exposes them to a variety of sanctions, including expulsion. Through the permitting process, KCC retains unfettered discretion to determine both whether students may speak at all and where they may speak. In so doing, it fails to protect students against content and viewpoint discrimination. These policies and practices chill protected student speech and disable spontaneous student speech on campus. Also according to the lawsuit, the school confines free speech activities to an information tables at the school's student center, which you guessed it, can only be used with the official permission of the administration. KCC's Public Information Director shared this statement with Reason: Kellogg Community College learned this week that an organization, the Alliance Defending Freedom, has announced it is filing a federal complaint against the College regarding a trespassing incident which occurred in September 2016. The complaint itself has yet to be delivered to KCC; therefore, the details of the complaint have yet to be reviewed by legal counsel. The College, which supports the U.S. Constitution and takes seriously any allegation that one's freedom of expression has been violated, will address this matter thoroughly. On the advice of their attorneys, Gregoire and Withers declined to speak with Reason, but YAL President Cliff Maloney, Jr. said in a phone call his group has launched a national "Fight for Free Speech" campaign, which he describes as a "coordinated effort to tackle and defeat these so-called free speech zones and unconstitutional policies." Maloney adds that these students did not expect to be arrested and that wasn't the purpose of their activity, saying "If [students] are facing pushback f[...]
2017-01-21T07:00:00-05:00Our cities are saturated with militarized law enforcement officers. An extraordinarily high number of American civilians are killed by police each year. The U.S. prison population is the largest in the world. And we are only beginning to understand why. In recent years, scholars such as Naomi Murakawa and Marie Gottschalk and activists in the Black Lives Matter movement have broken from the civil rights generation's obeisance to the Democratic Party, and from the left's reflexive assumption that "law and order" Republicans are exclusively to blame for this situation. Instead, they have persuasively argued that much of today's criminal justice regime originated in policies forged by liberal Democrats in the second half of the 20th century, in particular under the presidencies of Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton. Yet even this new and welcome historical analysis of militarized policing and mass incarceration does not go deep enough. The campaign to criminalize victimless behaviors and then build a carceral system large and efficient enough to contain the criminals it would create began long before the 1960s, with the formation of the political regime we now call liberalism. The intellectuals and policy makers who created the modern wars on drugs and crime were the direct descendants of the original progressives, who emerged at the turn of the 20th century. Those progressives consistently argued that disruptive and marginal populations should be encouraged to assimilate into the formal culture of the country and to adopt the responsibilities of American citizenship, but they also held that individuals who refused to do so should be removed from society. Indeed, it could be said that progressivism was created around those twin projects. Unlike scientific racists, who were the dominant ideologists of race until World War II, progressives generally maintained that there were no innate barriers in any race of people to acquiring the personality of a "good" American. Progressives believed that certain races and nationalities had not attained the level of civilization of white Americans and northern Europeans, but also thought those peoples could and should be raised to that level. That is, most progressives were simultaneously anti-racist and hostile to cultures other than their own. Immigrants who brought alien ways of living, radical political ideas, and criminal behavior into the U.S. were invited into progressives' settlement houses, where they were given free vocational education, subsidized room and board, and instructions on the proper attitudes and behaviors of Americans. Those who demonstrated a willingness to follow the rules of their new society—even those who were originally believed to be of an inferior race, such as Italians, Jews, and Slavs—were deemed worthy of full citizenship. Most progressives believed that the culture of blacks was especially retarded, but they nonetheless funded hundreds of settlement houses for blacks and helped establish the first major civil rights organizations, the Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. One mission of those organizations was to eliminate the "pathologies" of native black culture, to "adjust or assimilate" blacks to the dominant culture, and to make them into "orderly citizens." This was a brutal and puritanical assimilationism, but it ran directly counter to the belief of the scientific racists that blacks were biologically incapable of becoming civilized. Nonetheless, progressives acknowledged that some immigrants and blacks and even some native-born whites would choose renegade lives of crime over constrained lives as citizens, and for that eventuality they created the basis of what is now called the carceral state. [...]
(image) There were isolated examples of violence and property destruction at the Trump inauguration protests in Washington, D.C. on Friday—and one of the victims was alt-right leader Richard Spencer.
Spencer, who can accurately be described as a white nationalist, was being interviewed on camera when a protester walked up to him and punched him in the face.
Spencer holds truly reprehensible views, and he deserves less of the media's attention. But he doesn't deserve what he got today. Violence is never okay, no matter how despicable its target.
Striking Spencer isn't just morally wrong—it's tactically foolish. It allows him to play the victim. It directs the spotlight toward him. And, inevitably, it grants him sympathy.
Don't fight fascism by acting like a fascist.
src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8RIuT_8mnDo" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" width="560" height="340" frameborder="0">
The only place in town Trump supporters and Trump protesters could be found doing something together on inauguration day is "waiting in line for marijuana," says Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ, the pro-cannabis advocacy group that was key in making pot legal in the nation's capital.
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For a guy that wants to make America great again, Donald Trump's first remarks as President were a far cry from America being that shining city on a hill. In fact, it might be a dystopia you wouldn't recognize.
Produced by Alexis Garcia. Music by Kevin MacLeod.
For a guy that wants to make America great again, Donald Trump's first remarks as President were a far cry from America being that shining city on a hill. In fact, it might be a dystopia you wouldn't recognize.
Produced by Alexis Garcia. Music by Kevin MacLeod.
2017-01-20T18:15:00-05:00Many Americans are very, very angry or distressed that Donald Trump became president of the United States today. In looking for someone to blame, I've seen many swing at what's closest: relatives, friends, or business associates who either voted for Trump, or did not contribute to his possible defeat by voting for the candidate most likely to beat him, Hillary Clinton. In the dock, then, for what might happen to America in the next four years are not just conscious Trump voters, but Jill Stein and Gary Johnson ones, as well as the usual huge percentage of Americans (45 percent this time around) who choose not to vote at all. (If your communities in social networking and real life have given no examples of angrily writing off or at least deeply straining relationships over Trump, you are fortunate, and can read up on aspects of this line of thinking at any one of these links.) Some relationships may in fact be entirely based on the joys (they can be real, and libertarians for whom true political value affinity is rare know it well) of amity on big questions of politics and policy, the ethical and prudential role of government, what candidates or parties are best for your vision of America. If you have a relationship entirely based on patting each other on the back for thinking properly about politics, and that is strained when someone you thought you understood failed to vote for Clinton, perhaps goodbyes in that case are for the best. For some, the sweet pleasures of soulful agreement can shift to the more piquant but still real joys of arguing about politics, but that's hard to do if you know in your bones that political opposition is or must necessarily be a sign of pure evil. Being mellow about political disagreement might come easier to a libertarian than to most anti-Trump Americans. Libertarians often believe many of the activities furthered by Republicans and Democrats alike constitute grave evils, from wars to big chunks of criminal justice to the way even seemingly minor or benign business regulations can crush dreams, halt wealth creation, and prevent good things from happening. Libertarians have mostly learned to get along with our fellow Americans regardless. The alternative is shoving ourselves to literal margins, unable to happily commune with anyone. No offense to bold embracers of the hermit rebel life out of a sense of righteousness—but that seems like an overly arid existence, lacking in the glories of human companionship. If you aren't a total policy nerd obsessive, those glories of human companionship shouldn't have much to do with agreeing on who should be president, much less agreeing on how much action on your part was necessary to stop Trump, or whoever, from becoming president. (Trump's success might be particularly unnerving to many who managed to build a personal life where core political agreement can be simply presumed—not that hard when your politics are within a certain narrow range many other Americans agree with. Most polite people seeking a calm, happy social life would rather shut up about politics than argue about it anyway, so such disagreement is often, for all the right reasons, hidden anyway. The widespread adoption of Facebook and other social networks alas makes that a lot harder.) Whatever pleasures or advantages you get from the vast majority of personal relationships, then, whether it be honoring the bonds of family, a shared past, or just the ability to pass time together in an atmosphere of pleasant mutual affection, amusement, or caring, had nothing to do with the disagreement-free sharing of opinions about the president. But I'm[...]
2017-01-20T17:38:00-05:00The Senate voted this evening to confirm retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to the post of defense by a 98-1 margin. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who was nominated for attorney general, did not vote. The lone no vote came from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who said she was concerned about civilian control of the military. Mattis retired in 2013, last serving as commander of the United States Central Command, which covers Southwest Asia, the Middle East and Egypt. Among his first actions, President Trump signed a law passed by Congress earlier this month that provided a waiver to permit Mattis to lead the Defense Department despite having left the armed services less than seven years ago, as a 1947 law requires. Previously, only Truman nominee Gen. George Marshall needed a waiver, just a few years after the law was first passed. Mattis said at his his confirmation hearing last week that his goals were to "strengthen military readiness, strengthen our alliances in league with our diplomatic partners, and bring business reforms to the Department of Defense by instilling budget discipline and holding our leaders accountable." He also said he wanted to keep U.S. armed forces "the best equipped and most lethal force in the world." Mattis also identified Russia as among the "principle threats" in the world today, breaking away from comments made by Trump on the campaign trail and while he was president-elect, and expressed support for the Iran nuclear deal. Russian President Vladimir Putin was "trying to break the North Atlantic alliance," he said of Russia's relationship with and attitude toward NATO, an alliance Trump criticized on the campaign trail. He told the Senate he explained his thoughts on Russia to Trump. "I would consider the principal threats to start with Russia, and it would certainly include any nations that are looking to intimidate nations around their periphery, regional nations nearby them, whether it be with weapons of mass destruction or, I would call it, unusual, unorthodox means of intimidating them, that sort of thing," Mattis said, describing some the tactics Russia used in its invasion of eastern Ukraine and seizure of Crimea. "And at the same time, as the chairman has pointed out, we face now an era where we're going to be fighting the terrorist threat. I mean, that's simply a reality, we are going to have to address that one." Mattis insisted the U.S. abidie by the Iran nuclear deal, which the Trump administration could choose not to enforce. "I think it is an imperfect arms control agreement, it's not a friendship treaty," Mattis said. "But when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies." Mattis also said he wouldn't have accepted the nomination if he thought President Trump "would not be open" to his advice, and said he'd be candid with the president and Congress. He said the U.S. "shouldn't be turning to the military to answer all of our problems in the world." Mattis said he wanted to accelerate the strategy against ISIS, while Republicans in Congress have not yet talked about any kind of new authorization for the use of military force or other reassertion of Congressional war powers. Mattis will be one of three retired generals in Trump's inner circle, along with John Kelly, expected to be confirmed later this evening, and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. [...]
The only place in town Trump supporters and Trump protesters could be found doing something together on inauguration day is "waiting in line for marijuana," says Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ, the pro-cannabis advocacy group that was key in making pot legal in the nation's capital.
Eidinger and his colleagues spent the day handing out thousands of free joints to anyone in D.C. who wanted one. It's a way of "welcoming Donald Trump to Washington," he says, "and letting him know we've legalized here and we don't want our rights taken away."
UPDATE (Jan 21, 2017): Eidinger says that 9,000 free joints were given away, thanks to last-minute donations.
Produced by Todd Krainin and Josh Swain. Camera by Swain, Mark McDaniel, and Todd Krainin, who also edited.
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Missed Trump's first speech as president? No problem, here's the highlight!
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If you didn't think Donald Trump was communicating through your television set before, he definitely is now. Check out "They're Here! Trump Administration Meets Poltergeist."
Click below for full text, links, and downloadable versions.
Via ITV News comes this exquisite short video of a women screaming out as Donald Trump officially became the president of the United States. And because this is the internet, one of the first posts immediately after it was a gif of Darth Vader responding in similar fashion.
Thank you, internet. Irony, humor, dank and non-dank memes, and so much more. Truly this is an age of miracles.
An anti-Trump protester screams 'no' as Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th US President pic.twitter.com/qmsaFmMSkr— ITV News (@itvnews) January 20, 2017
2017-01-20T15:40:00-05:00While Donald Trump was delivering an inauguration speech filled with grim references to "American carnage" and out-of-control crime on Friday, his White House was already launching its rhetorical war against police critics. "The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong," the White House says in its new page on law enforcement, launched almost simultaneously with Trump's inauguration. "The Trump Administration will end it." Like so much of Trump's rhetoric, the page is long on bigly statements and short on details about how his administration will accomplish the fraught task of repairing relations between the men and women in blue and the communities they serve. Much of the plan has to do with Trump's preoccupation with ending illegal immigration. So, what Trump really means when he talks about ending the "anti-police" atmosphere is stopping the federal government from exposing civil rights violations that give credence to police reform groups and Black Lives Matter activists. Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department Civil Rights Division dramatically escalated the number of pattern and practice investigations into police departments for civil rights violations. The division's scathing reports on the Ferguson, Baltimore, and Chicago police departments, launched in the wake of controversial deaths at the hands of officers, revealed systemic civil rights violations and unconstitutional practices that fueled much of the national conversation on policing. Those days are over. One of the concrete plans the Trump administration does have for restoring "law and order" is slashing the budget of the Civil Rights Division by $58 million, roughly a third of its requested budget for the current year. Trump's pick for Attorney General, Sen. Jeff Sessions, has long been a staunch supporter of police and critic of the Justice Department's civil rights investigations. If the Trump administration thinks, though, that giving lip service to "blue lives matter" rhetoric and shielding police from scrutiny will end antipathy toward police, it's in for a rough discovery. It's hard to overstate the current trust gap between police and minority communities in large cities, the morale problems among those departments, and even the difference in perception between white and black police officers. As my colleague Ed Krayewski wrote, a recent wide-ranging Pew survey on police attitudes found that: More than 85 percent of all cops surveyed said high-profile incidents of police brutality have made their jobs harder—nearly 75 percent of respondents say highly publicized incidents of police brutality have increased tensions between police officers and black community, while 72 percent say cops in their department are "less willing to stop and question suspicious persons" (with the number as high as 86 percent of cops in departments with at least 2,600 police officers). Few cops (just 14 percent) said they thought the general public understood their risks at least somewhat well. By comparison, 83 percent of American adults insist they understood risks police faced. 87 percent of big city cops said interactions with black residents had become tenser, while 61 percent of cops in smaller departments agreed [...] Only 27 percent of white officers said they believed protesters were driven at least in part by a desire for police accountability, while nearly 70 percent of black police officers acknowledg[...]
If you felt the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end as you watched Donald Trump take the oath of office on television today, you probably aren't the only person who feels that way. No, this isn't something out of a movie; Trump and his cabinet are real and they know what scares you.
Produced by Paul Detrick.
(image) Kids these days! Remember the good old days when the worst trouble a mischievous child could get into was maybe joining a killer sex cult or blowing herself up in a Greenwich Village bomb factory? Well, television this week is full of evidence that Dennis the Menace has left the building, probably armed with a hatchet and a pocket full of strap-ons.
Actually, HBO's documentary Beware the Slenderman doesn't deserve such a flippant introduction. It's a serious—and seriously disturbing—piece of work about a pair of 12-year-old Wisconsin girls who, inspired by a creepy internet meme, lured a friend into the woods after a birthday party and stabbed her 19 times. That she survived was no fault of theirs.
The news of that 2014 attack on 12-year-old Payton Leutner by her supposed friends Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier was, for most American grown-ups, the first word they'd heard of Slenderman, a lanky, faceless character who for the past five years had been haunting Internet chatboards and campfire-story sites. Television critic Glenn Garvin explains more and also checks out CW's incarnation of Archie and his crew in Riverdale.
2017-01-20T15:15:00-05:00Beware the Slenderman. HBO. Monday, January 23, 10 p.m. Riverdale. The CW. Thursday, January 26, 9 p.m. Kids these days! Remember the good old days when the worst trouble a mischievous child could get into was maybe joining a killer sex cult or blowing herself up in a Greenwich Village bomb factory? Well, television this week is full of evidence that Dennis the Menace has left the building, probably armed with a hatchet and a pocket full of strap-ons. Actually, HBO's documentary Beware the Slenderman doesn't deserve such a flippant introduction. It's a serious—and seriously disturbing—piece of work about a pair of 12-year-old Wisconsin girls who, inspired by a creepy internet meme, lured a friend into the woods after a birthday party and stabbed her 19 times. That she survived was no fault of theirs. The news of that 2014 attack on 12-year-old Payton Leutner by her supposed friends Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier was, for most American grown-ups, the first word they'd heard of Slenderman, a lanky, faceless character who for the past five years had been haunting Internet chatboards and campfire-story sites. In the beginning, Slenderman was nothing more than a shadowy and curiously disquieting image, digitally inserted into the periphery of family snapshots, usually eyeing or surrounded by children. But as he grew into a fad, inspiring fan fiction, homemade video games and a slew of "found-footage" videos modeled after The Blair Witch Project, the Slenderman myth acquired its own canon. He was said to abduct and murder little children in ominously unspecified ways. The victims were often unloved or neglected kids, giving the killings a somehow even more chilling penumbra of mercy. Slenderman was able to multiply his damage many times over by acquiring proxies, cult members to do his work. And practically anybody might be swept up in his machinations, as victim, proxy or both. "The moment you know about him, he knows about you," explains one Slenderman expert interviewed in Beware. Like millions of other kids, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier became fascinated by all things Slenderman. But unlike all the rest, they had trouble comprehending that he was imaginary. Perhaps social isolation was part of it; neither girl had many friends. (Though that begs the question, why turn on one of their few schoolmates who was a pal.) In any event, they plotted to qualify as proxies by murdering Peyton and fleeing to Slenderman's hidden kingdom in a nearby national park. In harrowingly matter-of-fact confessions to police later, they described how they first tried to convince their victim to go to sleep to avoid unnecessary confusion and noise. ("I don't like screaming," Anissa primly declared to the cops. "That's one thing I can't handle.") When that didn't work, they banged her head against the wall of a park restroom in an attempt to knock her unconscious. Finally they jumped her from behind ("like lionesses chasing down a zebra," bragged Anissa) and Morgan stabbed her 19 times. "I trusted you," murmured Peyton as they dragged her into the bushes to die. Which, miraculously, she didn't. Despite its title, Beware the Slenderman is not a call to moral panic. Writer-director Irene Taylor Brodsky, a CBS News producer before she turned to documentaries a decade ago, steers clear of both tabloid shrieking and babble. Neither the in[...]
(image) In his inaugural address today, Donald Trump drew a connection between loyalty and patriotism, claiming that loyalty to country leads to individual virtue.
At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity.
In his first inaugural in 2009, Barack Obama also tied the two concepts together:
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends—honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism—these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility—a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
When you set aside Obama's customary poetry and Trump's habitual bluntness, both men are circling around the same idea: that loyalty to the state will lead Americans on a path to personal goodness. That working together toward a common goal of national greatness is the way to self-betterment. They're far from alone in this view; hell, flirtation with the causal relationship between being a good man and a good citizen goes all the way back to Plato.
But for a refreshing contrast to this state-centered view of life in the-not-too-distant past, take a gander at the inaugural remarks of George H.W. Bush, who was unable to attend today due to illness:
We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood, and town better than he found it....No President, no government, can teach us to remember what is best in what we are.
2017-01-20T14:27:00-05:00Republicans got their wish today for a president that would utter the term "radical Islamic terrorism," when Donald Trump promised to "unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth." The use of the term became on issue on the campaign trail during the Republican primary season, one that stood in for the more complex question of how the war on terror ought to be conducted and what it meant. Trump's use of the phrase came along with an expansive definition of what the war on terror meant. The Obama administration laid the groundwork for this. The post-9/11 authorization for the use of military force has been used for counter-terrorism operations in North Africa and the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, and West and East Africa. The U.S. has targeted groups like Boko Haram and Al-Shabab, as well as Al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates in places like Libya and Afghanistan, whose fighters are often too young to remember the attacks of September 11, 2001, let alone to have anything to do with planning, authorizing, committing, or aiding the attack, or harboring organizations or people who did, as the AUMF stipulates. Trump's promise to "reinforce old alliances and form new ones" suggests Trump is interested in expanding the global war on terror in places like Syria. Of the 26,000 bombs the U.S. was estimated to have dropped in 2016, about 12,000 are estimated to have been dropped on Syria, the most of any target country. Syria, along with Iraq and Afghanistan, are considered "areas of hostility" for U.S. government reporting purposes. The Obama administration insisted U.S. national security interests in Syria included the removal of Russia-ally Bashar Assad from power. Different parts of the U.S. government armed different sides of the conflict, some of which opposed each other. Disengaging from Syria and not permitting the Russian intervention to influence U.S. foreign policy-making is an altogether different prospect than aligning with Russia to prosecute the war on terror together. "We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first," Trump said in his inaugural address—U.S. policy makers should ask whether America's best interests lie in more military operations around the world. "We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone," Trump continued, "but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow." That departed from Bush-era rhetoric. In his second inaugural address, President George W. Bush insisted that the "survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands," and so it would be U.S. policy "to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." Tyranny was Bush's go-to word for the war on terror—he didn't mention radical Islamic terrorism in his 2005 inaugural address. "There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant," Bush said in that address, "and that is the force of human[...]
2017-01-20T13:55:00-05:00The website for the White House has been updated and relaunched to fit the new President Donald Trump administration. It is obviously pretty bare bones for now (you can read his inauguration speech here), but the issues section puts his agenda on open display. For those less interested in speeches and more interested in actual upcoming policy hints, it's worth looking over to see where things are going. He has six sections—energy, foreign policy, jobs, military, law enforcement, and trade. Here's a few interesting things worth noting, both good and bad: The administration will embrace fracking. Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America. The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans. We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own. We will use the revenues from energy production to rebuild our roads, schools, bridges and public infrastructure. Less expensive energy will be a big boost to American agriculture, as well. Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, Trump is also "committed" to the white whale of "energy independence." Just as with trade, America benefits when we get energy cheaply no matter where it comes from. It's great that he recognizes that cheaper energy creates jobs (by reducing costs). It's a shame he doesn't realize it's another good that can free Americans up to do other things if we can get it more cheaply elsewhere. The administration will use military action to fight the Islamic State (and increase the size of the military) Defeating ISIS and other radical Islamic terror groups will be our highest priority. To defeat and destroy these groups, we will pursue aggressive joint and coalition military operations when necessary. In addition, the Trump Administration will work with international partners to cut off funding for terrorist groups, to expand intelligence sharing, and to engage in cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable propaganda and recruiting. The Trump administration is also calling to "rebuild" the military even though America still overwhelms every other country's forces, saying "our military dominance must be unquestioned." But he does also call for embracing diplomacy and his saber-rattling here is focused entirely on terrorist groups and has no suggestion of interference in other countries' governance. The administration is calling for a moratorium on new federal regulations. As a lifelong job-creator and businessman, the President also knows how important it is to get Washington out of the way of America's small businesses, entrepreneurs, and workers. In 2015 alone, federal regulations cost the American economy more than $2 trillion. That is why the President has proposed a moratorium on new federal regulations and is ordering the heads of federal agencies and departments to identify job-killing regulations that should be repealed. Tim Carney at the Washington Examiner noticed last night that right as Barack Obama's administration was packing up, the Department of Energy released a new rule that will likely kill off cheap [...]