Thursday, July 18, 2019

Conservative attacks on libertarians misguided, says Ron Paul

Ron Paul: Conservatives Against Liberty – FITSNews:

July 15, 2019 - "Recently several prominent social and populist conservatives have attacked libertarianism. These conservatives, some of whom are allies in the fight against our hyper-interventionist foreign policy, blame libertarianism for a variety of social and economic ills. The conservative attack on libertarianism — like the attack on the freedom philosophy launched by leftists — is rooted in factual, economic, and philosophical errors.

"Libertarianism’s right-wing critics claim libertarianism is the dominant ideology of the Republican establishment [yet] the Republican leadership embraces anti-libertarian policies like endless wars, restrictions on civil liberties, government interference in our personal lives, and massive spending increases on welfare as well as warfare.

"Anti-libertarian conservatives ... blame libertarians for the American middle class’s eroding standard of living. Conservatives are correct to be concerned about the economic challenges facing the average American, but they are mistaken to place the blame on the free market. The American people are not suffering from an excess of free markets. They suffer from an excess of taxes, regulations, and, especially, fiat money. Therefore, populist conservatives should join libertarians in seeking to eliminate federal regulations, repeal the 16th Amendment, and restore a free-market monetary system.....

"[M]any populist conservatives support increased infrastructure spending and tariffs and other forms of protectionism. Like all forms of central planning, these schemes prevent goods and services from being used for the purposes most valued by consumers. This distorts the marketplace and lowers living standards — including of people whose jobs are temporally saved or created by these government interventions. Those workers would be better off in the long term finding new jobs in a free market.

"Anti-free-market conservatives ignore how their policies harm those they claim to care about. For example, protectionism harms farmers and others working in businesses depending on international trade.

"The most common complaint of social conservatives is that libertarianism promotes immorality. These conservatives confuse a libertarian’s opposition to outlawing drugs, for example, with moral approval of drug use..... [L]ibertarians support the right of individuals to use peaceful means to persuade others not to engage in destructive or immoral behaviors. Libertarians also support the right of individuals not to associate with, or to subsidize in any way, those whose lifestyles or beliefs they find objectionable.

"Social conservatives object to libertarians because social conservatives wish to use government power to force people to be good. This is the worst type of statism because it seeks to control our minds and souls.

"Most people accept the idea that it is wrong to initiate force against those engaging in peaceful behaviors. Libertarians apply this nonaggression principle to government. Making government follow the nonaggression principle would end unjust wars, income and inflation taxes, and the destruction caused by the use of force to control what we do with our property, how we raise our children, who we associate with, and what we put into our bodies. Making governments abide by the nonaggression principle is the only way to restore a society that is free, prosperous, and moral."

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Mark Sanford thinking about primarying Trump

Mark Sanford, Old Trump Foe, May Enter Republican Presidential Primary –

July 16, 2019 - "President Trump may have another primary challenger in the 2020 election. In an interview with The Post and Courier, former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford said that he planned to spend the next month deciding whether or not he would enter the upcoming presidential Republican primary.

"Sometimes in life you've got to say what you've got to say, whether there's an audience or not for that message," he said in the interview....

"Sanford, who largely advocated for limited government during his time in Congress, has criticized Trump several times in the past for lacking a firm grasp on the Constitution, wanting to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and even his "shithole" countries comment.

"Sanford lost his Republican primary in 2018. His loss was believed to be an early indicator of the weakness of anti-Trump Republicans in the face of a newer, more Trumpian party.

"So far, Trump's only primary opponent is former Massachusetts governor and Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate Bill Weld. Upon making the announcement, Weld referred to himself as a 'Reagan Republican.' He has since criticized Trump for not being economically conservative.

"There is also speculation that Rep. Justin Amash (I–Mich.) could join the race. Amash has very recently left the Republican Party, as well as his congressional committees. Whether he chooses to run as a Republican, Libertarian, or independent, it's possible that his entry into the race could disrupt both Trump and the eventual Democratic nominee's 2020 dreams."

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Sheriffs won’t enforce new Washington gun law

Sheriffs Say They Won’t Enforce New Washington Law Raising Gun Purchase Age to 21 – - Ben McDonald:

July 5, 2019 - "Washington state has raised its minimum age for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle to 21, along with other new rules governing gun ownership. The age restriction went into effect in January, with the other changes taking effect July 1. But some in state law enforcement have vowed not to enforce the measure, arguing that it violates the Second Amendment.

"Under the new law, someone buying a semi-automatic rifle has to be at least 21 years old, pass a stricter background check, take a safety training course, and complete a 10-day waiting period. The law does not impose a retroactive ban on people under 21 owning such guns, but it does increase the restrictions on where they can possess them. Washingtonians under 21 can only have a gun in their homes, in a fixed place of business, or on real property under their control.....

"And people of all ages are supposed to comply with strict new storage requirements. 'A person who stores or leaves a firearm in a location where the person knows, or reasonably should know, that a prohibited person may gain access to the firearm' is now 'guilty of community endangerment due to unsafe storage of a firearm' if 'a prohibited person' accesses the gun and uses it. This requirement has been met with heavy backlash, with critics pointing out the potentially dangerous consequences of making weapons more inaccessible in a life-threatening situation....

"Sheriffs across the state have denounced the law, saying it is harmful to the people they are sworn to protect by making it harder for them to defend themselves. Some go further, declaring that they will not enforce it.

"Bob Songer, a sheriff in Klickitat County, told KTTH: 'I understand there's an argument that a sheriff has to follow the rule of law [but] as an elected sheriff, I have the authority and right to protect the rights of the citizens of Klickitat county that I serve.'

"The Spokesman Review reports that Stevens County Sheriff Brad Manke and his deputies 'won't be issuing citations or making custodial arrests for most suspected violations'....  'When my 19-year-old daughter can't carry a .22 rifle off our property but we can send her off to war — I don't agree with that at all," Manke told the Chinook Observer.

"In February, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson stated that sheriffs who do not enforce the law will be held liable.... 'In the event a police chief or sheriff refuses to perform the background check required by Initiative 1639, they could be held liable if there is a sale or transfer of a firearm to a dangerous individual prohibited from possessing a firearm and that individual uses that firearm to do harm,' Ferguson said.

"In September of last year, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed similar legislation raising the minimum age for rifle and shotgun purchases to 21. The Second Amendment rights groups Calguns Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition are now suing California over that law. John Dillon, an attorney representing the groups, told the Los Angeles Times that when people turn 18 they are legally considered adults and should be able to benefit from the same rights other adults have. 'Law-abiding adults are entitled to fully exercise all of their fundamental rights, including their 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms for all lawful purposes, not just hunting or sport,' Dillon said."

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Massie may also have 2020 primary challenger

Kentucky Republican Massie may be challenged in 2020 primary election - Philip M. Bailey, Louisville Courier-Journal:

July 3, 2019 - "U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie may be a darling among libertarians and constitutional conservatives, but the Kentucky Republican is the target of some who are actively recruiting a primary challenger for 2020.

"Two independent sources with knowledge of campaign discussions say state Rep. Kim Moser, R-Taylor Mill, is being groomed for a possible bid against the congressman, who has gained notoriety for opposing bipartisan measures big and small. Moser acknowledged in an interview with the Courier Journal that she's been approached by national party figures about taking on Massie in next year's Republican primary....

"The two sources, who requested anonymity, told the Courier Journal that U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who has made putting more women in Congress a personal passion, was among those looking for a challenger for Massie. But a Stefanik spokeswoman ... said Stefanik's group, Elevate PAC, 'has a firm policy of not recruiting against or endorsing against Republican incumbents.'

"Moser declined to comment when asked if Stefanik was among those who had approached her about running next year. She added that Massie is well liked, but that many constituents want a less ideological representative in Washington....

"In May, Massie gained national attention for temporarily blocking a $19 billion disaster relief plan before it ultimately passed.... 'Certainly, it was shocking to me that he was a 'no' vote on disaster relief,' Moser said.... Moser also cited Massie being among the 26 members who three years ago voted against the 21st Century CURES Act, which directed $6.3 billion to speed up drug treatment, as one of the troubling things about the congressman's record.

"If Moser were to run, it would set up an interesting primary, pitting Kentucky's grassroots conservatives against the GOP establishment. 'The tea party folks in the 4th Congressional District understand that Kim Moser is not the constitutional conservative Congressman Thomas Massie is,' said Scott Hofstra, a spokesman for the United Kentucky Tea Party....

"Massie, who was affiliated with the tea party movement, assumed office in 2012.... He has easily defeated every Democratic opponent by more than 30 percentage points in the four general elections since. But there is some speculation that he could be vulnerable in a primary election....

"The conservative activists who helped send Massie to Washington seven years ago, however, remain fiercely loyal. 'Congressman Massie doesn't go with the status quo and doesn't play into party politics,' said Stacie Earl, a Florence conservative activist who ran for state House in 2018. 'Republicans have always tried to get someone against him [but] I don't see Moser or anyone is as a credible challenger'.... Hofstra ...said ... Massie is willing to break from the herd. 'Congressman Massie is the only representative from Kentucky who is willing to buck his own leadership to support the constitution and the citizens,' he said."

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Sunday, July 14, 2019

Adam Smith on tariffs and trade restrictions

from The Timeless Wisdom of Adam Smith - Foundation for Economic Education - Richard M. Ebeling:

December 17, 2016 - "Adam Smith’s central contribution to economic understanding was surely his demonstration that under an institutional arrangement of individual liberty, property rights, and voluntary exchange the self-interested conduct of market participants could be shown to be consistent with a general betterment of the human condition.

"The emergence of a social system of division of labor makes men interdependent for the necessities, amenities and luxuries of life. But in the free, competitive market order every individual can only access what others in society can supply him with by offering them something in exchange that they value more highly than what is being asked from them in trade.

"Thus ... as if by an 'invisible hand' each individual is guided to apply his knowledge, ability and talents in ways that serve the trading desires of others as the means of fulfilling his own self-interested goals and purposes. Furthermore, not only is the need for government regulation and control of economic affairs shown to be unnecessary for societal improvement, Smith went on to argue that such government intervention was detrimental.... Smith explained in The Wealth of Nations (1776):
“To give the monopoly of the home-market to the produce of domestic industry, in any particular art or manufacture, is in some measure to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, and must, in almost all cases, be either a useless or a hurtful regulation. If the produce of domestic can be bought there as cheap as that of foreign industry, the regulation is evidently useless. If it cannot, it must generally be hurtful.

“It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy.... What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom. If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better to buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a way in which we have some advantage..... It is certainly not employed to the greatest advantage when it is directed towards an object which it can buy cheaper than it can make it....
"Smith was scathing in his criticisms of manufacturers, merchants and agricultural special interests who wished to maintain or gain market share and greater profits from restricting the free flow of goods and services between countries through government action.... Said Smith:
Commerce, which ought naturally to be, among nations, as among individuals, a bond of union and friendship, has become the most fertile source of discord and animosity. The capricious ambition of kings and ministers has not, during the present and the preceding century, been more fatal to the repose of Europe, than the impertinent jealousy of merchants and manufacturers.

The violence and injustice of the rulers of mankind is an ancient evil, for which I am afraid, the nature of human affairs can scarce admit of remedy. But the mean rapacity, the monopolizing spirit of merchants and manufacturers, who neither are, nor ought to be, the rulers of mankind, though it cannot perhaps be corrected, may very easily be prevented from disturbing the tranquility of any body but themselves.
"Smith warned of the 'interested sophistry' of those desiring anti-competitive interventions and protections in the private sector through the political power of governments by creating false notions that trade is a zero-sum game in which if one side wins the other side must have lost, or that imports and a trade deficit are inherently harmful to the material well-being of a nation. These distortions and errors had to be refuted so it would be better understood that, 'In every country it always is and must be in the interest of the great body of the people to buy whatever they want of those who sell it cheapest.'"

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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Border camp conditions dangerous, says DHS IG

DHS Watchdog Describes Crammed Detention Centers, A Ticking Time Bomb : NPR - Joel Rose & John Burnett:

July 2, 2019 - "The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General is warning about "dangerous overcrowding" in Border Patrol facilities in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. In a strongly worded report, the inspector general said the prolonged detention of migrants without proper food, hygiene or laundry facilities — some for more than a month — requires 'immediate attention and action.'

"The report comes amid growing outrage over detention conditions for migrants and follows reports that migrant children were kept in squalid conditions without enough food and basic necessities in a Border Patrol station in West Texas.

"Inspectors from DHS's Office of Inspector General in June visited Border Patrol facilities and ports of entry across the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, the busiest sector in the country for illegal border crossings. 'We are concerned that overcrowding and prolonged detention represent an immediate risk to the health and safety of DHS agents and officers, and to those detained,' they wrote.

"In its response to the report, the Department of Homeland Security says the surge of migrants crossing the Southern border has led to an 'acute and worsening crisis.' In May, according to DHS, an average of more than 4,600 people a day crossed illegally or arrived at ports of entry without the proper documents, compared to less than 700 a day in the same period two years ago....

"The latest report from the Rio Grande Valley includes photos of migrants penned into overcrowded Border Patrol facilities — including one man pressing a cardboard sign to a cell window with the word 'Help.' The inspectors quote one unnamed senior manager calling the situation a 'ticking time bomb.'

"Inspectors found that hundreds of children were held for longer than the 72 hours, the maximum time federal rules allow. In some cases, kids were held for more than two weeks. And some adults were kept in standing-room-only cells, without access to showers, for more than a week."

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Friday, July 12, 2019

No authority for war with Iran, U.S. House votes

House Votes To Stop Trump From Attacking Iran Without Congressional Authorization – - Christian Britschgi:

July 12, 2019 - "Earlier this afternoon, the Democrat-controlled House voted 220–197 in favor of a $733 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which will fund the Pentagon and its various foreign wars through the end of the next fiscal year.

"Included in the bill was a bipartisan amendment from Reps. Ro Khanna (D–Calif.) and Matt Gaetz (R–Fla.). It clarifies that Congress has passed no legislation that would allow the president to strike Iran. Their amendment says that 'no Federal funds may be used for any use of military force in or against Iran' unless Congress declares war on the country or passes some other statutory authorization for an attack.

"Stopping a war with Iran proved more popular than the spending bill as a whole. It earned the support of 20 House Republicans and passed with a commanding 251–170 vote....

"Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been rising throughout the summer, with the U.S. hitting Tehran with increased sanctions and sending more troops and ships to the Persian Gulf. Iran has reportedly responded by sabotaging oil tankers and shooting down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone. Trump ordered air strikes on Iran in response to the loss of the drone but called the attacks off at the last minute.

"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been pitching lawmakers on the idea that the 2001 Authorization of Military Force (AUMF) — passed in the wake of 9/11 to permit the U.S. to attack Al Qaeda — allows the U.S. to attack Iran without further congressional approval. Khanna and Gaetz's amendment makes it clear this is not the case, stating explicitly that the 2001 AUMF does not authorize any sort of hostilities against Iran.

"Having passed, the House's NDAA now goes to the Senate, which has already passed its own, larger $750 billion military spending bill. That bill does not include any additional limitations on Trump's ability to attack Iran, nor does it seem likely that Senate Republicans will agree to fold that into the final version of the legislation."

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Hawaii decriminalizes cannabis possession

Hawaii becomes 26th state to decriminalize marijuana - ABC News - Bill Hutchinson:

July 10, 2019 - "Hawaii has become the 26th state in the nation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana -- but its governor cautioned it does not mean the state is ready to say aloha to legalizing recreational use of cannabis.

"While Hawaii Gov. David Ige declined to sign the decriminalization legislation, the change in law will take effect in January because he took no action by Tuesday's veto deadline.

"Under the new law, people caught with small amounts of marijuana will no longer face a misdemeanor charge that had been punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Now people caught with 3 ounces or less of weed can still be hit with a citation carrying a $130 fine, but no jail term.

"Ige ... said during a news conference last month that there are things about the bill 'I don't like'... The governor said one thing he disliked about the bill is that it does not include a provision to help young people who want to get into substance abuse programs.

"He also said the new law does not mean Hawaii, which was the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 2000, is on the verge of joining the bandwagon of states that have legalized recreational cannabis....

"Eleven states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational use of marijuana. Illinois became the latest state to legalize the recreational use of weed last month when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law the first bill to legalize weed that was passed by a state legislature....

"Ige, a Democrat, noted that there were several bills voted down by the legislature this session to legalize recreational marijuana in the state."

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

SCOTUS limits states' alcohol licensing powers

US Supreme Court rules state liquor laws are unconstitutional - Sam Bloch, The New Food Economy:

June 27, 2019 - "Generally speaking, the Commerce Clause of the Constitution allows for most foods to cross state lines. That’s not the case with liquor, though. Most states require salesmen to ... hav[e] lived within their boundaries for a given number of years. But ... [y]esterday, the Supreme Court decided that those residency provisions are unconstitutional, ruling against a Tennessee trade association by a 7-2 vote....

"The case began in 2016, when Total Wine, a Maryland-based liquor giant, and Affluere Investments, a small business owned by Doug and Mary Ketchum, each applied for licenses to sell liquor in Tennessee.... After the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) approved their petitions, the Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association (TWSRA) appealed, saying that neither applicant was legally allowed to have a license. Tennessee is one of 35 states with a residency requirement for selling liquor. In this case, the trade association pointed out, neither applicant had been living in the state for two years. Additionally, the law requires 10 years of residency to renew the license, and for all company stakeholders to be residents, too.

"Lower courts found that Tennessee’s law was unconstitutional, but TWSRA took their suit against Russell F. Thomas, the commission’s executive director, all the way to the Supreme Court. The association said their law is protected by the second section of the 21st Amendment, which overturned prohibition. That particular section gives states the options to stop the import of liquor across their borders.

"And again, it’s failed to persuade the court. Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority of the court, said the state’s two-year residency requirement, which doesn’t have an effect on public health or safety, is unconstitutional, and a violation of interstate commerce laws.... The [21st Amendment] clause 'is not a license to impose all manner of protectionist restrictions on commerce in alcoholic beverages....'

"Tom Wark, executive director of the National Association of Wine Retailers, a trade association that had submitted an amicus brief, cheered the decision. 'State alcohol laws that discriminate against out-of-state retailers for the purposes of protecting in-state interests are unconstitutional and not protected by the Twenty-First Amendment. The decision is a historic win for both free trade and wine consumers across the country,' he said in a press statement."

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Federal judge halts Arkansas ballot access law

Arkansas Libertarians get injunction that will likely assure its candidates have spots on 2020 ballot | Opinion |

July 6, 2019 - "Federal Judge Kristine G. Baker has issued an injunction overturning requirements imposed on 'new political parties' by Act 164 of the Arkansas General Assembly, adopted and signed into law in February.

"Act 164 increased the requirements for third parties to place their candidates on the ballot from 10,000 petition signatures to 3% of the vote in the last Gubernatorial election, presently 26,746 signatures. The Libertarian Party had argued that raising the bar for ballot access was unwarranted and unnecessary. Libertarians also complained about the limited 90-day window required for collecting petition signatures, as well as the fact that the deadline for turning in petitions had been moved forward to September 2019.

"Baker’s ruling agreed. 'There is no record evidence before the court that explains the state’s interest – let alone a compelling one – in requiring new political parties to meet the three percent requirement, file a petition more than a year in advance of the general election, and collect signatures in a 90-day window.'

"Michael Pakko, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Arkansas, said Act 164 was 'nothing more than an effort to restrict competition in the political process.... The judge’s ruling gives us an opportunity to put Libertarian candidates before the voters in 2020, and I’m confident that a final ruling will help us level the playing field for all alternative political parties in the future.'

"The preliminary injunction stops Secretary of State John Thurston from enforcing Arkansas statutes that impose the three percent requirement, and from restricting ballot access to the Arkansas Libertarians as a new political party if it meets a 10,000-signature requirement. The ruling did not extend the time period for collecting petition signatures, nor did it change the contested deadline.

“The important thing is that our petitions will be counted and Libertarians will most assuredly be on the Arkansas ballot in 2020, Pakko said. In late June, the state Libertarian Party turned in a total of 18,667 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. Election officials received the petitions but had not yet accepted them for validation, awaiting clarification from the court....

"A full hearing of the case, Libertarian Party of Arkansas et al v. Thurston (4:19-cv-00214) is scheduled for trial before Judge Baker May 11, 2020."

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Monday, July 8, 2019

Florida legalizes front-yard vegetable gardens

After 6-Year Fight, Florida Couple Wins Right to Grow Veggies at Home – - Billy Binion:

July 5, 2019 - "Vegetables are ugly. Or at least that's the view of the officials in Miami Shores, Florida, who implemented a ban on front-yard vegetable gardens at residential properties in 2013. The ordinance forced Hermine Ricketts and her husband, Laurence Carroll, to uproot the garden they'd maintained for nearly two decades.

"Now they can start planting again: The Florida legislature has passed a bill shielding vegetable gardens from local prohibitions. "After nearly six years of fighting…I will once again be able to legally plant vegetables in my front yard," Ricketts said in a statement. "I'm grateful to the Legislature and the governor for standing up to protect my freedom to grow healthy food on my own property."

"The Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit on Ricketts' behalf in 2013. Florida's Third District Court of Appeals upheld the ban, and the state's Supreme Court declined to hear the case. So Ricketts and the institute lobbied the legislature, and it passed a law effectively invalidating the local ordinance. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it last week.

"How were city commissioners able to pass the rule in the first place, much less get it past an appeals court? It was billed as a zoning regulation, which cities have near-unlimited power in implementing. The Florida League of Cities opposed Ricketts' efforts until the end, arguing that code enforcement is an essential tool for maintaining a town's aesthetic. They also didn't like the idea of a state government preempting measures adopted at the local level.

"Ricketts now uses a wheelchair and has suffered from a litany of health issues in recent years, which she blames on stress induced by the legal battle. She's hoping that a little gardening might be the medicine she needs."

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

'Post-liberal' conservatives reject libertarianism

Conservative Divide: Libertarians, Moralists, and the Danger of Schism | National Review - Jonah Goldberg:

June 12, 2019 - "The idea holding together the conservative movement since the 1960s was called 'fusionism.' The concept ... was that freedom and virtue were inextricably linked..... Frank Meyer, the foremost architect of fusionism, put it: 'Truth withers when freedom dies, however righteous the authority that kills it; and free individualism uninformed by moral value rots at its core and soon brings about conditions that pave the way for surrender to tyranny.' This idea may have passed its sell-by date.

"The intellectual Right ... has always had ... internal fault lines.... These cracks were mostly paved over by opposition to Communism throughout the Cold War, but they started to reemerge once the Berlin Wall fell. Pat Buchanan’s 1992 call to revive the 'Old Right' vision of economic protectionism and socially conservative statism was more of a harbinger of the unfusing of fusionism than was widely appreciated at the time.

"Today, conservative forces concerned with freedom and virtue are pulling apart. The catalyst is a sprawling coalition of self-described nationalists, Catholic integralists, protectionists, economic planners, and others who are increasingly rallying around something called 'post-liberal' conservativism. By 'liberal,' ... they mean classical liberalism, the Enlightenment worldview held by the Founding Fathers.... They seek a federal government that cares more about pursuing the 'highest good' than protecting the 'libertarian' (their word) system of individual rights and free markets.

"On the other side are more familiar conservatives who, like George Will in his brilliant new book, The Conservative Sensibility, still rally to the banner of classical liberalism and its philosophy of natural rights and equality under the law. 'American conservatism has a clear mission: It is to conserve, by articulating and demonstrating the continuing pertinence of, the Founders’ thinking,' Will writes....

"The post-liberals think that Enlightenment-based liberalism is the disease afflicting society because it has no answer for how people should live. They have a point: It is not a religion or moral philosophy. But it wasn’t meant to be. Instead, as National Review’s Charles Cooke rightly put it, classical liberalism was a system designed to keep people of different religions from killing each other.

"This framing, however, obscures the path to reconciliation not just among the battling conservatives but in America generally. The liberalism of the Founders focused on freedom for individuals — but also encompassed institutions and communities. In the early days of the republic, for instance, some states had established churches and others didn’t. What the Founders opposed was a one-size-fits-all approach from the top.

"As far as I can tell, the so-called post-liberals now want Washington to dictate how we should all pursue happiness, just so long as it’s from the right. In a country of nearly 330 million people, however, it is impossible to define the “highest good” for everybody....

"What America needs is less talk of national unity — from the left or the right — and more freedom to let people live the way they want to live, not just as individuals, but as members of local communities. We don’t need to move past liberalism, we need to return to it."

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Saturday, July 6, 2019

McAfee launches POTUS campaign from Cuba

Fugitive millionaire antivirus guru John McAfee launches US presidential run … from yacht in Cuba | South China Morning Post - Katell Abivan, Agence France-Presse:

July 7, 2019 - "US millionaire John McAfee has added a new chapter to his tumultuous life story. From a yacht in Havana harbour, he says he is running for the US presidency. This will not, he deadpans, be 'an ordinary campaign.' 'I am wanted as a criminal by the government for which I am running for president,' McAfee says as he sits on his white yacht surrounded by an entourage of seven campaign aides and two enormous dogs....

"McAfee’s immediate goal is to win the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party, which supports free trade and a sharply reduced federal government. He tried but failed in 2016, beaten for the party’s nomination by Gary Johnson, who went on to win just over three per cent of the vote in the election.

"But McAfee has an unusual admission for a presidential candidate: 'I don’t want to be president, I really do not, nor could I be,' he says, puffing on a cigar.... 'I cannot be president. However, I do have a large following and I will influence this next election.”

"Since making a fortune with his antivirus software in the 1980s, the 73-year-old has become a self-styled cryptocurrency guru, claiming to make US$2,000 a day. He has nearly 1 million followers on Twitter....

"McAfee began his career as a Nasa engineer before working for several software companies, where he learned of the existence of a computer virus – and began figuring out how to destroy it. Thus McAfee Associates was born in 1987, quickly becoming a giant in the antivirus industry. He sold the company to Intel in 2010 and is now worth an estimated US$100 million.

"But [after] moving to Belize in Central America and living a sometimes chaotic life, he suddenly became tabloid grist when his neighbour was mysteriously murdered in 2012, a crime that has not been solved. When police found him living with a 17-year-old girl and discovered a large arsenal of weapons in his home, McAfee disappeared on a month-long flight that drew breathless media coverage.

"In 2015, McAfee was arrested in the United States for driving under the influence. He again disappeared from view until January 2019, when he fled the country. 'I went first to the Bahamas because I was charged with income tax evasion,' he said, adding that when the FBI went there looking for him he fled to Cuba. 'I have not paid taxes for eight years. I will not pay taxes again – it is unconstitutional and illegal.'

"McAfee has offered to help Cuba launch a cryptocurrency of its own. The government said earlier it was studying how the virtual money might be used to get around US economic sanctions....

"US tax authorities, asked about his possible legal jeopardy, would not confirm whether he faces any charges. No extradition request has been filed with Cuban authorities. The mere fact of having sailed his yacht to Cuba, however, violates new US regulations that ban American citizens from travelling to the island on cruise ships or private boats."

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Friday, July 5, 2019

Justin Amash leaves Republican Party

Justin Amash: Our politics is in a partisan death spiral. That’s why I’m leaving the GOP. - The Washington Post:

July 4, 2019 - "My parents, both immigrants, were Republicans. I supported Republican candidates throughout my early adult life and then successfully ran for office as a Republican. The Republican Party, I believed, stood for limited government, economic freedom and individual liberty — principles that had made the American Dream possible for my family. In recent years, though, I’ve become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it....

"George Washington ... said of partisanship, in one of America’s most prescient addresses: 'The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty'....

"True to Washington’s fears, Americans have allowed government officials, under assertions of expediency and party unity, to ignore the most basic tenets of our constitutional order: separation of powers, federalism and the rule of law. The result has been the consolidation of political power and the near disintegration of representative democracy.

"These are consequences of a mind-set among the political class that loyalty to party is more important than serving the American people or protecting our governing institutions. The parties value winning for its own sake, and at whatever cost. Instead of acting as an independent branch of government and serving as a check on the executive branch, congressional leaders of both parties expect the House and Senate to act in obedience or opposition to the president and their colleagues on a partisan basis.

"In this hyperpartisan environment, congressional leaders use every tool to compel party members to stick with the team... With little genuine debate on policy happening in Congress, party leaders distract and divide the public by exploiting wedge issues and waging pointless messaging wars. These strategies fuel mistrust and anger, leading millions of people to take to social media to express contempt for their political opponents, with the media magnifying the most extreme voices. This all combines to reinforce the us-vs.-them, party-first mind-set of government officials.

"Modern politics is trapped in a partisan death spiral, but there is an escape. Most Americans are not rigidly partisan and do not feel well represented by either of the two major parties. In fact, the parties have become more partisan in part because they are catering to fewer people, as Americans are rejecting party affiliation in record numbers.

"Many avoid politics to focus on their own lives, while others don’t want to get into the muck with the radical partisans. But we owe it to future generations to stand up for our constitutional republic so that Americans may continue to live free for centuries to come. Preserving liberty means telling the Republican Party and the Democratic Party that we’ll no longer let them play their partisan game at our expense.

"Today, I am declaring my independence and leaving the Republican Party. No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us. I’m asking you to believe that we can do better than this two-party system — and to work toward it. If we continue to take America for granted, we will lose it."

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Thursday, July 4, 2019

Maduro regime using death squads, UN says

Venezuela death squads kill young men, stage scenes, U.N. report says - Reuters:

July 4, 2019 - "Venezuelan security forces are sending death squads to murder young men and stage the scenes to make it look like the victims resisted arrest, the United Nations said in a report issued by its human rights chief on Thursday.

"Government figures showed that deaths ascribed to criminals resisting arrest numbered 5,287 last year and 1,569 by May 19 this year. The U.N. report said many of them appeared to be extrajudicial executions.

"Families of 20 men had described how masked men dressed in black from Venezuela’s Special Action Forces (FAES) had arrived in black pickups without license plates. In the accounts, the death squads broke into houses, took belongings and assaulted women and girls, sometimes stripping them naked.

'They would separate young men from other family members before shooting them,' the report said. ''In every case, witnesses reported how FAES manipulated the crime scene and evidence. They would plant arms and drugs and fire their weapons against the walls or in the air to suggest a confrontation and to show the victim had ‘resisted authority’....

"The report said the killings were part of a strategy by the government of President Nicolas Maduro aimed at 'neutralizing, repressing and criminalizing political opponents and people critical of the government', which accelerated since 2016.

"The U.N. also released a written response to its findings by Venezuela’s government, which called the report a 'selective and openly partial vision' about the human rights situation in the South American country. It argued the U.N. relied on 'sources lacking in objectivity' and ignored official information."

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Needles CA a '2nd Amendment sanctuary city'

Needles declared itself a “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” city; wants exemption to some state gun laws – San Bernardino Sun - Sandra Emerson:

June 24, 2019 - "One of San Bernardino County’s easternmost cities wants to be a sanctuary ... for gun owners. Needles this month declared itself a 'Second Amendment Sanctuary City' a message that city leaders say is partly about support for gun rights and partly a desire to get an exemption from state law so out-of-state gun owners can travel through town and for residents to purchase ammunition. The former railroad town of about about 5,000 is near the Colorado River, close to the Arizona state line, and city officials say that California’s gun laws are prompting Arizona residents to stay out of Needles, hurting business in the town....

"City Council, which made the declaration during a meeting on June 11, eventually could consider all or any of three possibilities — an exemption from the state’s gun laws for Needles and a 65-mile radius surrounding the town, a request [to] the state to allow the city to recognize concealed weapon permit holders from neighboring Arizona and Nevada, and a request to the county to allow sheriff’s deputies to not enforce weapons violations by California, Nevada and Arizona residents who are following their [own] state’s rules.

"California, which has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, does not recognize out of state concealed carry permits, nor does the state issue such permits to out-of-state residents. However, Arizona and 23 other states do recognize California permits....

"City officials may also request the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s department to direct its deputies to use discretion [so] that an out-of-state resident would be asked to take their gun back across state lines, or be allowed to unload the weapon and place it in the trunk or locked container, as is required in California, rather than face potential criminal charges....

"In addition to exemptions for licensed gun owners, [Mayor Jeff] Williams said they are looking to lessen restrictions on ammunition purchases for California residents in Needles. It is illegal [to] purchase ammunition out of state, then transport it back to California. Ammo must be purchased in person at a vendor licensed with the state’s Department of Justice. Online orders must be shipped to one of these vendors, not to a buyer’s home. For Needles gun owners this means driving more than 100 miles [to] purchase ammunition in person, or to pick up online orders, from a California-licensed vendor, even though there are ammunition stores just a few miles across the river....

"Steve Lindley, program manager with the Brady Campaign & Center to Prevent Gun Violence in Los Angeles, said ... [h]e believes Needles isn’t likely to be granted an exemption from state gun laws, in part because such a move could set off a flurry of requests from other border communities ... 'asking for those same exemptions'....

"Williams ... said his community plans to meet with the Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol and state legislators to discuss their request. He added that they are talking with other border cities that might be interested in joining them."

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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Scheer promises not to recriminalize cannabis

Scheer says a Conservative government would keep pot legal, support pot pardons | CTV News - Rachel Gilmore:

June 27, 2019 - "Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, who previously opposed the proposed legalization of cannabis, now says a Conservative government would not only keep cannabis legal but would also stay the course with its support of pardons for Canadians convicted of pot possession.

"'We will maintain … the fact that cannabis is legal, we are not going to change that and we do support the idea of people having those records pardoned,' Scheer told Don Martin during an interview on CTV’s Power Play Thursday.

"Every Conservative MP except for Scott Reid either voted against or abstained from voting on the legalization of cannabis at its third reading in the House. Scheer was among those who voted against.

"In an interview with CTV’s Power Play in October, Scheer did not provide a firm answer on whether a Conservative government would re-criminalize cannabis. Just six days after the interview aired, Scheer clarified in an interview with Quebec radio station 104.7 Outaouais that a potential Conservative government does not 'intend' to make marijuana illegal again [but] it would monitor the rollout and 'make necessary corrections'....

"In the most recent vote on the Liberal bill to expedite the pardon process for those convicted of pot possession, the Conservatives all either abstained or voted in support of the bill – making Scheer's pledged support of pot pardons less surprising."

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Monday, July 1, 2019

How Canada fumbled the cannabis file

Opinion: These are the 5 biggest mistakes of cannabis legalization in Canada | Grow by Daily Hive - Sarah Leaman:

June 24, 2019 - "It’s been nearly nine months since the legalization of cannabis, but things are far from perfect in the great green north. Here are the five biggest fails of Canadian cannabis legalization so far:

"Cannabis packaging requirements shocked the public when they were unveiled back in October and it quickly became apparent that way too much plastic was involved. Following legalization, a single gram of cannabis comes with approximately 70 grams of plastic, foil, and packaging. The amount of packaging goes up if cannabis is sent through the mail. And to add insult to irony, just a few weeks ago, the Prime Minister announced a comprehensive, intended ban on single-use plastics in an effort to help combat climate change, leaving the government’s approach to cannabis completely disconnected from reality....

Impaired driving laws
"When cannabis was legalized, several new impaired driving laws were also introduced. The first of these laws involved the launch of roadside oral fluid screening devices..... We presently have two federally approved devices for police use on our roadways: the Draeger DrugTest 5000 and the Abbott SoToxa. The problem? Neither of these devices are able to detect driver impairment. And, on top of that major malfunction, both devices are prone to failure, meaning that they can generate both false positive and false negative readings....

"And to make a bad situation worse, the Criminal Code has been amended to include per se limits for THC in a driver’s bloodstream.  This mirrors provisions in relation to alcohol. But ... THC is fat-soluble; not water-soluble like alcohol..... This means that THC can remain in a persons’ body for an extended period of time and long after the effects of impairment have worn off, which will inevitably lead to sober people being charged with serious offences.

"While these changes were done in the interests of public safety, there has been absolutely no indication that they were necessary. Rates of impaired driving have not increased ... since October 17, 2018.

Continued criminalization
"While cannabis is technically legal in Canada, the flower is still far from being free.... [T]he Cannabis Act concurrently created over forty new cannabis-related offences in this country.... Many offences could land a person with a criminal record, or even behind bars.... And ... the government has been dragging its heels on the issue of cannabis amnesty. Failure to include amnesty provisions from the very outset of cannabis legalization was a critical misstep, which opened the door to criticism about the governments’ commitment to true cannabis decriminalization.....

Stigmatizing employment policies
"When cannabis was legalized on October 17, 2018, many employers acted as though it had just been invented that very day.... The kneejerk reaction to legal cannabis caused employers to create strict new policies around cannabis [as] in the airline industry, which has effectively banned cannabis use for all employees, no matter if they are on duty or not. The 28-day pre-flight cannabis ban sits in stark contrast to Transport Canada policies around alcohol, which simply prohibit consumption 12-hours prior to reporting for duty.

Distribution and shortages
"Last but certainly not least, are issues around effective cannabis distribution and shortages that have plagued our country since legalization.... Canadians wishing to access a legal supply were forced to wait in long lines and subject themselves to unreasonable wait times. With few brick and mortar stores up and running, many Canadians were left to rely on the internet to order online....  This dissatisfaction only worsened when the government reported that systematic cannabis shortages could be expected for years to come. Current projections predict that cannabis shortages will last well into 2022."

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Sunday, June 30, 2019

5 books to boost your knowledge of liberty

Five Books to Jumpstart Your Knowledge of Libertarianism - Remso Martinez, Advocates for Self-Government:

June 5, 2019 - "So, you want to learn more about libertarianism? Check out these books and don’t forget to take the World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Stuff: A Libertarian Manifesto by Matt Kibbe
"Written by the organizer behind the Tea Party revolution that ... armed us with a new generation of pro-liberty leaders in Congress and across the country, ... this is the perfect primer for anyone [who is] liberty curious and wants to lift the veil and peek into a world where it’s not cool to hurt people and take their stuff.

Anthem by Ayn Rand
"This short novella by Russian writer and philosopher Ayn Rand was dystopian before dystopian novels were cool.... Anthem puts you in the mind of a character who lives in a world where 'I' isn’t a word and free will is punishable by death....

Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek
"Dedicated to the socialists in all parties who refused to observe the mistakes of our past ... Hayek shows the reader how the desire for collective action leads to the enslavement of freedom itself. This book exposes the reader to the mindset of those who cry for more regulation and central control, and how their desire for order simply means more chains on the society they imagine they are freeing from the perils of an unjust world.

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman
"Milton Friedman took the world of politics and economics by storm simply by stating loud and proud that society thrives when people are left to make their own decisions.... Friedman shows how deregulation, free markets, and individual choice takes people from victimhood to empowerment when government gets out of the way....

Stay Away From the Libertarians! by Remso W. Martinez
"A shameless plug.... I take you through a brief history of the modern libertarian movement from 2012 through 2016 and show you how libertarians have changed the way millions view the relationship between themselves and the state.... [Y]ou’ll learn once and for all why lazy academics, the fake news, and statist politicians in both parties fear libertarians."

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Saturday, June 29, 2019

Social media site Ravelry bans pro-Trump speech

A Social Media Platform Has Banned Support of Trump  – - Katrina Gulliver:

June 25, 2019 - "The primary social network for a large and growing community has banned all positive discussion of Donald Trump and his administration. The official explanation proclaims "We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy'....

"I've been a member of Ravelry for years. The site is much greater than a place for craft chat; it has over 8 million members. For lots of us, it is our main social media destination.... Ravelry allows users to create groups — and there are groups for pretty much everything: work, food, travel, literature, relationships, kids, pets....

"Although Ravelry has users from around the world, it is U.S.-based and its political discussions are largely U.S.-focused.... Those people have always worn their left-progressive perspectives on their sleeves. They have long made a point of their LGBT-friendliness, with rainbow flags during Pride month—sometimes to the consternation of older, conservative, users. Feminist and pro-choice messages abound. And designers who use the site regularly announce that they are giving a portion of sales to organizations such as Planned Parenthood or the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Those who are surprised that the site has declared itself part of the #resistance seem to be people who have never visited Ravelry, and who think it is just some noticeboard for grannies discussing baby booties. But to anyone familiar with the site, such a move does not come as a shock. Even the members who think this ban is ill-judged seem ... not surprised....

"Ravelry ... offers the world's largest database of patterns for knitting and crochet, and is the first stop for many crafters looking to buy patterns — even if they don't participate on the site in other ways. In many independent yarn stores, you can expect to find a computer set up entirely for shoppers to find patterns on Ravelry. As an online merchant, it is the main point of sale for lots of designers. Indeed, offering a pattern for sale on Ravelry is often the first step for a fledgling designer.

"This market dominance is what makes Ravelry's move important. It is a bold move for a site of this size and commercial reach to ban pro-Trump speech. It remains to be seen if large numbers of non-vocal Republicans will leave in protest. The hashtags #byeravelry and #walkawayravelry are active on Twitter, and some angry users are also sharing their thoughts on Ravelry's Facebook page. ... I expect the Ravelry owners will stick to their guns — as is their right.

"For a large social networking site to ban a political viewpoint might be a bellwether for where the culture war is headed. It is also a test of the 'go woke, go broke' theory, which posits that taking a strong political stand will hurt a business' bottom line. Other social media sites will certainly be watching to see if Ravelry suffers or succeeds."

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Friday, June 28, 2019

Alberta shows benefits of privatizing alcohol sales

Don’t believe what Ontario’s Beer Store is saying about liquor sales in Alberta | National Post - Ivonne Martinez:

June 20, 2019 - "In the province of Ontario, the airwaves are filled with debate and contradicting information about beer sales. Albertans could not be more united on beer sales: For over 25 years, Albertans have understood that liquor sales can be competitive, convenient, profitable and accessible without compromising safety. That’s why the Alberta system has a 90-per-cent public satisfaction rating.

"But Ontario unions and The Beer Store continue to misinform the public in an effort to protect their existing monopoly.... The Beer Store is currently running an ad campaign that ... perpetuates myths about the harm of privatization and blatantly distorts the truth about the Alberta liquor system ... to justify the monopolistic protection that persists in Ontario....

"The facts however tell a different story. Alberta has over 1,500 independently owned liquor stores ... that offer the largest selection of liquor products in Canada. Alberta liquor retailing accomplishes this by providing Albertans with convenience, competitive prices and the highest of social responsibility. Like Ontario, the Alberta provincial government regulates liquor sales, and liquor stores must ID anyone that looks to be under 25 years....

"And what about The Beer Store’s claim that a 24 pack of Coors Light is more expensive in Alberta than in Ontario? The Beer Store is owned by Labatts and Molson (National Brewers).... Molson itself ... set a higher price for its beer in Alberta....

"Other facts that are left out include the 12,000 direct jobs created by liquor retail in Alberta, contributing $866 million annually to provincial revenue and creating a $3-billion industry.

"Alberta has a fully open free market that doesn’t block products from other provinces or countries. As a matter of fact, Alberta has individual liquor stores that have more beer selection on the shelves than the entire province of Ontario....

"Ontario doesn’t have to look far for a successful liquor model. All Alberta liquor stores are standalone retailers, whether independent, chains or grocers. This allows our liquor stores to simply focus on making the best experience for consumers while keeping minors from accessing alcohol. Albertans can get wine, beer and spirits at one store. One stop to access the best selection of products from across the province, country and the world. One stop."

Ivonne Martinez is the President of the Alberta Liquor Store Association

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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Tax-funded abortions violate right to choose

Democrats have abandoned the libertarian case for abortion rights - Philip Klein, Washington Examiner:

June 27, 2019 - "For decades, Democrats have tried to frame the abortion question in essentially libertarian terms, as one of opposition to government intruding on personal decisions. But by making support for taxpayer funded abortions their default position, candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination have undermined their ability to make the small government case for abortion rights.

"Libertarians themselves, it should be said, are divided on abortion. For some, the issue is straight forward: If you support limited government, you cannot support restrictions over what women try to do with their bodies. However, libertarians also believe that the primary function of government is to protect the right to life, so to those libertarians who believe an unborn child qualifies as a life, it naturally flows that they'd believe it is legitimate for government to protect that child's life and liberty.

"Reason's Stephanie Slade (a self-described pro-life libertarian) observed that Wednesday night's debate showed, 'that for the 2020 Democratic hopefuls, it's not enough for abortion to be legal. To meet the criterion of "justice," the procedure must be paid for by someone other than the woman seeking it'....

"Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who supports putting all Americans on a single government-run plan, said 'I would make certain that every woman has access to the full range of reproductive health care services, and ... that includes abortion'....  Julián Castro said, 'I don't believe only in reproductive freedom. I believe in reproductive justice.... And so I absolutely would cover the right to have an abortion.' Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said that all insurance companies should be forced to cover abortion. Joe Biden abandoned decades of support for the Hyde Amendment that prevents Medicaid from covering abortion, arguing that lower-income women must be given equal access to abortions.

"This is, of course, a consistent liberal [progressive - ed.] position — that if you believe free healthcare is a right and that abortion is a right, it would follow that you believe everybody has a right to free abortions. But it is no longer a position that can be justified on libertarian grounds where the case would be that women have a right to abortions, but taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay for them and insurers shouldn't be forced to cover them.

"As none other than Biden himself put it in 1986 in explaining his opposition to taxpayer funded abortion, 'If it’s not government’s business, then you have to accept the whole of that concept, which means you don’t proscribe [their] right to have an abortion and you don’t take [their] money to assist someone else to have an abortion.'”

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Illinois governor signs cannabis legalization bill

Illinois approves legal weed, expunging criminal records for pot crimes  - Trevor Hughes, USA Today:

June 25, 2019 - "Illinois on Tuesday became the 11th state to legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana for adults.... With Gov. J.B. Pritzker's signature, the new law is the first of its kind passed by a state legislature and signed by a governor. It capped off a legislative year in which legalization efforts sputtered in New York and New Jersey....

"Illinois, which has more than 12 million residents, is the second-most-populous state to permit recreational cannabis, behind California. Regulators will spend the next few months developing a system for taxing and testing cannabis and will launch sales Jan. 1.....

"Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but since 2014, federal prosecutors have generally ignored marijuana sales in 10 states that legalized personal use: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Nevada, Vermont and Washington, along with the District of Columbia. In all of those states but Vermont, voters approved legalization. Vermont's legislatively approved measure permits only personal growing and use, not sales.

"The Illinois law lets resident adults buy and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis "flower," along with marijuana-infused foods known as edibles and small amounts of highly concentrated extracts. Nonresidents could buy half the amount.

"Consumers would pay up to 34.75% tax on their purchases, depending on potency. Regulators would give preference points to members of minority groups seeking to get business licenses, and state-certified labs would test products for potency and contaminants, a growing concern among users. Backers said the measure will create jobs in communities around the state, an argument made by Canadian officials when they legalized marijuana nationally last year.

"Money raised by the new taxes would first be dedicated to expunging about 770,000 minor cannabis-related cases. Expungement has long been a goal of marijuana-legalization advocates, who argue the federal government's war on drugs disproportionately targeted minorities. Other states have similar provisions, usually added after the fact, but Illinois' law is the first to contain such a sweeping expungement provision from the start. Any tax money left over would be used to support drug treatment and enforcement programs, improve mental health counseling access and bolster the state's general fund....

"Kris Krane, a member of the marijuana trade group National Cannabis Industry Association, said Illinois' move would probably pave the way for more legislative legalization."

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Senate bill to enforce fairness doctrine on internet

Josh Hawley Introduces Bill to Put Washington In Charge of Internet Speech – - Elizabeth Nolan Brown:

"Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) is introducing legislation to clamp down on free expression online, under the pretense of fighting tech-company 'bias' against Republicans. Hawley's solution is to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a measure that prevents individual users of internet platforms and the companies that run them from being treated as legally indistinguishable from one another. Without it, digital companies and the users of their products (i.e., all of us) could be sued in civil court or subject to state criminal prosecution over content and messages created and published by others....

"Now, national and state leaders are insisting that Section 230 must be destroyed in order to fight "foreign influence" in our elections, the manipulated videos known as "deepfakes," fentanyl trafficking, gun violence, and an array of other (sometimes real, sometimes imaginary) problems. "For some Republican leaders — chief among them Hawley—this has led to the truly Orwellian tack of trying to convince conservative internet users that taking away protection for online speech will somehow allow them to speak more freely.

"That's the nonsensical proposition at the heart of Hawley's new legislation, misleadingly called the 'Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act.' The measure would give the government control over online speech by denying Section 230 protections to platforms that don't hand over an array of private intellectual property and satisfactorily prove to a bunch of partisan political appointees that they are operating in a 'politically neutral' manner. Essentially, Hawley wants to revive the old Fairness Doctrine—a policy that was roundly denounced by conservatives for its chilling effect on free speech and its propensity to further marginalize non-mainstream voices—and apply this cursed policy paradigm to anything online.

"Under Hawley's bill, companies would be required to reapply with the Federal Trade Commission every two years for this political favor—a situation that would mean companies having "to constantly curry favor with the administration," as Mapbox policy head Tom Lee noted on Twitter. Hawley's proposal would also require tech companies to discipline or fire any employee who made a content moderation decision that bureaucrats deem to be in violation of online-speech neutrality principles....

"Censorship would be universally worse without Section 230 and, as someone who studied law, Hawley should know this. But it doesn't matter what he knows about Section 230, it matters what the masses know about Section 230—which was basically zilch, until recently. That's what makes it easy for folks like Hawley ... and the rest of the bipartisan chorus calling for 230's demise to manipulate their base into buying that it's about 'bias' or or any other number of hated things.

"But no matter how many culture war red flags Hawley and company raise, their solutions all come down to the same thing: letting folks in Washington have more say over what can be said on the internet."

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Monday, June 24, 2019

Oakland decriminalizes psychedelic mushrooms

Oakland becomes 2nd U.S. city to decriminalize magic mushrooms - Los Angeles Times - Coleen Shalby:

June 5, 2019 - ""Oakland [California] has voted to decriminalize entheogenic plants, including hallucinogenic magic mushrooms. It’s the second city in the United States to do so after Denver passed a similar measure last month for people 21 and older.

"The City Council passed the resolution in a unanimous vote Tuesday. Presented by City Councilman Noel Gallo, the measure sets a citywide policy ending the investigation and imposition of criminal penalties for use and possession of hallucinogens derived from plants or fungi, such as mushrooms, cactuses and the iboga plant.

“'Practices with Entheogenic Plants have long existed and have been considered to be sacred to human cultures and human interrelationships with nature for thousands of years, and continue to be enhanced and improved to this day by religious and spiritual leaders, practicing professionals, mentors, and healers throughout the world, many of whom have been forced underground,' the resolution stated, citing economic, environmental and social equity benefits to the city as well as possible health benefits in treating addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression....

"In May, Denver decriminalized the use of hallucinogenic magic mushrooms, becoming the first city in the U.S. to do so. Similar initiatives in Oregon, Iowa and elsewhere in the country are underway. California voters failed to get a similar measure on the ballot last year.

"Decriminalize Nature Oakland, the group behind the Oakland resolution, started discussions in the community in early 2019. In March, the group had its first public educational event, with support from seven community organizations....

“'Since DNO believes entheogens should not be commodified, there will be no sales of entheogenic plants and fungi, and we will work closely with local communities to share resources,' Gallo wrote in his agenda report to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee. 'Concepts such as collectives could provide a space to have an experience, or "road people" who could visit those in hospice care or unable to leave their home.'

"The resolution applies only to plant-based hallucinogens. Synthetic drugs such as LSD and MDMA are not included. And magic mushrooms ... remain illegal under state and federal law."

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

LP POTUS field makes me want to vote NOTA

by George J. Dance

2020 will be a leap year, and like all leap years will witness a new installment of the biggest, longest, most-watched media event of them all. No, not the Summer Olympics; those run for only a few weeks. I'm talking about the U.S. presidential election, which runs from January right through to the inauguration finale a year later.

The Republican and Democratic races for the 2020 nomination are already getting plenty of attention; as usual, the Libertarian race is not. This year, though, that is probably a very good thing, considering the choice of candidates offered so far.

Apparent frontrunner Adam Kokesh is a founder of Iraqi Veterans against the War, who has run for the Senate (and lost) as a Ron Paul Republican. The only Libertarian Party activism I know him for is his disrupton of the LP's 2008 campaign kickoff. He has also conducted a libertarian podcast, on one show of which he advocated killing police (hence my nickname for him, "Kop-Killer Kokesh"). His platform is to abolish the U.S. government by Executive Order, and then resign.

Then comes Arvin Vohra, former LP vice-chairman. Originally a pragmatic millennial politician-in-training, he became radicalized after the 2016 Johnson campaign, and began taking extreme positions - some of which, like writing that age of consent laws should be abolished, and calling school board shootings a "good idea," led to attempts to censure him and remove him from office. In the end, LP voters did remove him at the last convention - following which he promptly declared as a POTUS candidate.

Then there is John McAfee, an eccentric (if he's still rich) who plans to campaign "from exile". Plus a bunch of people I know nothing about; this is getting too long, so I'll just give a link. And as always there is Vermin Supreme, the ex-Democrat who campaigns with a boot on his head, and whose signature campaign plank is to give every American a pony.

In short, the real LP candidate hasn't surfaced yet; all we have are possibilities.  Four well-qualified possibilities are:

Mark Sanford, former governor of South Carolina. Sanford has never lost a general election, but was defeated as congressman by a Trump-endorsed candidate in the 2018 GOP primary, so he has no seat to lose. He has always focused on the national debt crisis, which I think will be big news again by 2020 (now that the Democratic-leaning media can blame it on Trump).

William Weld, former governor of Massachusetts. While he ran for the LP as Johnson's running mate, Weld is a divisive figure in the party. Besides, he has rejoined the Republicans to primary Trump. Weld is staking everything on New Hampshire: if he does well there, his campaign could catch fire (at least with the Dem-leaning media), and make him a star; in which case he would be the most prominent candidate we could get. But many members count his reregistering Republican, after declaring that he was in the LP for life, as a betrayal and sell-out, making him more hated than ever by a large faction.

Lincoln Chafee, former governor of Rhode Island. Chafee is a wild card - he registered Libertarian just this month - who isn't telling anyone his plans as yet.

Justin Amash, congressman from Michigan. Amash is the most libertarian guy in the House, today's Ron Paul, and I would prefer that he stay there. However, since he accused Trump of "impeachable" conduct, he too has a Trump-endorsed primary challenger, who is leading him by double digits. If Amash loses the primary, there is no way he could win his seat as an independent (or Libertarian), as Michigan has straight-ticket voting. Meanwhile, there is a sizable movement within the LP to draft him for the Libertarian nomination, including a facebook page I recently joined:

Three of those four (Weld excepted) could have the nomination for the asking. Alas, none of the four is presently a live option: none is even running for the job. Given today's live options - the current field of declared candidates - the only one worth voting for is None of the Above: which, fortunately, will be on the ballot at the LP's 2020 presidential convention.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

GOP libertarians split over Trump

The libertarian fight over Trump - James W. Antle III, Washington Examiner:

June 6, 2019 - "Former Sen. John Danforth, R-Mo., took to the op-ed pages to blast President Trump, early in his term, as 'the most divisive president in our history.' While that assessment is a matter of opinion, Trump has managed to drive an unfamiliar wedge between the two most libertarian members of Congress.

"Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., became the first member of his party to call for the president's impeachment, saying Attorney General William Barr 'deliberately misrepresented key aspects' of special counsel Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia report, a document he further alleged many of his GOP colleagues on Capitol Hill never read.

"Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., disagrees. 'I think they took this great power we entrusted with them to spy on foreigners, and they directed it against Americans for partisan reasons,' Paul said of the Russia investigation in an interview with Fox News....  'I think it's wrong for any Republican to think, "Oh gosh, this is a legitimate investigation." I think it's a very partisan investigation." Paul described the whole affair as 'unlibertarian.'

"It may be the most significant disagreement ever between these two lawmakers who both arrived in Washington after the tea party-wave election of 2010, their candidacies made possible by the GOP presidential campaigns of then-Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the Kentucky senator's father, and have nearly identical voting records today. Aside from impeachment or the origins of the Russia investigation, it speaks also to differing strategies for Republicans in the age of Trump, whether libertarian, centrist, or conservative....

"Fundamentally, it is an argument over whether it's a more significant risk to be discredited by opposition to Trump or association with him. There are many obvious reasons why Paul and Amash would disagree on this question. Paul has access to Trump; Amash does not. Born in 1980, Amash is closer in age to the millennials who often find Trump offensive. Paul is on the younger end of the baby boomers, who see Trump more congenially.

"Paul represents Kentucky, a state Trump won easily and remains popular in. In fact, Trump ran ahead of Paul there in 2016, with 62.5% of the vote to the junior senator's 57%. Amash ran ahead of Trump in his district, winning 59% to the future president's 52%. The seat was once held by Gerald Ford, whom the Pauls would oppose as a sitting president at the Republican National Convention in 1976.

"Amash's libertarianism has probably allowed him to compile a more conservative voting record than his more moderate congressional district might otherwise be comfortable with. It is similarly possible that this will allow him to outlast his criticism of Trump. Paul already tried running as a Trump critic when they were both seeking the Republican presidential nomination, and it ended disastrously.

"The ultimate disagreement between the two might not be about Trump but partisanship. Amash has increasingly taken to describing partisanship as a counterproductive, even destructive force, the factionalism the Founding Fathers warned against. Paul sees partisan sentiment as baked into the cake of American politics and best used in service of his principles where possible.

"Which approach works best may have as much to do with how the Trump years end than who is right about this political dilemma."

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Friday, June 21, 2019

AZ law designed to keep Libertarians off ballot upheld on appeal

Law Libertarians Contend Targets Their Candidates Upheld | Arizona News | US News - Associated Press:
May 31, 2019 - "A state law that the Libertarian Party contends was designed to keep its candidates off Arizona ballots has been upheld by a federal appeals court.... [The] 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments from the Libertarian Party that the law increasing the number of qualifying signatures party candidates need violates their constitutional rights.

"The 2015 law backed by Republicans had a major impact. Only one Libertarian seeking to run for the state Legislature or Congress made the ballot in 2016 compared to 18 in 2004. Former Libertarian Party chairman Michael Kielsky has said Republicans created a law 'laser-focused' on his party because they believed Libertarians were draining votes from GOP candidates."
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Ninth Circuit puts kibosh on Libertarian fight of Arizona election rules - Nathan Solis, Tucson Sentinel:
May 31, 2019 - "In 2015, Arizona changed its signature requirements to increase the number of signatures needed on nomination petitions to qualify candidates for placement on ballots. While parties with open primaries can collect signatures from registered party members, independents and unaffiliated voters, parties with a closed primary – like the Libertarian Party in Arizona  – can only take signatures from registered Libertarians....

"In 2017, a federal judge granted summary judgment to the state.... And ... on Friday a Ninth Circuit panel agreed. U.S. Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote ... 'The state’s signature requirements are reasonable restrictions that impose, at most, a modest burden on the Libertarian Party’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, while directly advancing Arizona’s important regulatory interests'....

"The panel also rejected the party’s argument that the requirement is impossible since there are over 32,000 registered Libertarians in the state. 'Libertarian candidates can qualify for the primary ballot with signatures from 11% to 30% of party members in their jurisdictions, and no evidence suggests it is impossible to do so as a practical matter,' McKeown wrote."
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