Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 10 Libertarian Moments of 2014

Top 10 Libertarian Moments of 2014 | Students For Liberty - Kelly Barber:

December 12, 2014 - "Since the year is drawing to a close, it’s worth taking some time to reflect on the past twelve months and all that has been accomplished for human liberty. It’s easy to focus on the negatives– police brutality, countless military entanglements abroad, hyperinflation around the world, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, mass surveillance by the NSA, and on and on.

"However, each day there are more and more stories of human courage and collaboration between disparate groups who are joining together to fight government abuse in the name of freedom. Below are ten events (in no particular order) that we think qualify as some of the biggest libertarian moments of 2014, plus a couple of honorable mentions....
  1. Wave of drug policy reform.... 
  2. The sharing economy went mainstream....
  3. Snowden and Greenwald kept the spotlight on the NSA....
  4. Unprecedented victories for same-sex marriage....
  5. Protests in Venezuela, Ukraine, and Hong Kong....
  6. Sentencing reform approved in California....
  7. Big wins for free speech on college campuses....
  8. Big tax cuts across the U.S....
  9. Minnesota passes civil asset forfeiture reform....
  10. Police brutality protests....
"Honorable mentions:
  1. Estonia offers e-residency....
  2. Concealed carry now legal everywhere in the U.S."
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Gravel is new CEO of Cannabis Sativa subsidiary

Ex-senator from Alaska to run marijuana company | OnPolitics - Catalina Camia:

December 30, 2014 - "A former U.S. senator from Alaska who made a quixotic bid for president in 2008 has a new gig — as CEO of a marijuana company.

"KUSH will be led by Mike Gravel, a senator from 1969 to 1981 who tried to make a comeback in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Gravel has been a critic of the war on drugs since Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, classifying marijuana in a category set aside for the most dangerous of drugs with a high potential for abuse.

"KUSH, a subsidiary of Cannabis Sativa Inc., will offer a pot lozenge called the Kubby. 'I’m anxious to assist in bringing this important resource to a broader market in a serious and credible way,' said Gravel, who has been on the parent company’s board of directors.

"Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use. Voters in Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia approved ballot initiatives in November to legalize pot — joining Colorado and Washington state. Congress, however, nixed D.C.’s pot legalization plan when it passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill earlier this month.

"Gravel isn’t the only person tied to Cannabis Sativa who knows his way around politics.

"Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, who ran for the GOP nomination for president in 2012 before becoming the Libertarian Party nominee, is CEO of Cannabis Sativa."

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See also: Mike Gravel joins Libertarian Party (2008) by George J. Dance

Monday, December 29, 2014

2 states sue Colorado over marijuana legalization

Nebraska, Oklahoma sue Colorado over legal marijuana - LA Times - Kurtis Lee:

December 18, 2014 - "A pair of states on Thursday filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to strike down Colorado's laws that legalize recreational marijuana.

"Citing federal antidrug laws, particularly interstate drug trafficking, Nebraska and Oklahoma said in the lawsuit that Colorado's marijuana laws have "created a dangerous gap in the federal drug-control system enacted by the United States Congress."

"In 2012, Coloradans voted in support of Amendment 64, which legalized the recreational sale and use of up to an ounce of marijuana for any resident over the age of 21. Moreover, under Amendment 64, Coloradans can grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use.

"The result of increased Colorado-sourced marijuana being trafficked in [Nebraska and Oklahoma] due to the passage and implementation of Colorado Amendment 64 has been the diversion of a significant amount of the personnel time, budget, and resources" of those states, wrote Nebraska Atty. Gen. Jon Bruning and Oklahoma Atty. Gen. E. Scott Pruitt in the court filing....

"Colorado Atty. Gen. John Suthers, who leaves office next month, vowed on Thursday to defend the state's legal recreational marijuana laws....

"Suthers, a Republican who opposed Amendment 64, added that 'it appears the plaintiffs’ primary grievance stems from non-enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana, as opposed to choices made by the voters of Colorado.

"'We believe this suit is without merit and we will vigorously defend against it in the U.S. Supreme Court,' Suthers said.

"Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but several states including Washington, Oregon and Alaska have passed laws legalizing recreational marijuana sales."

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Reason interviews Ron Paul on foreign policy

Dr. Never - - Matt Welch, Reason, January 2015:

December 8, 2014 - "On May 15, 2007, at a Republican primary debate in Columbia, South Carolina, longshot presidential candidate Ron Paul shocked the room with his answer to a question about how 9/11 changed America: "Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years."

"Then-frontrunner Rudolph Giuliani, visibly agitated, interrupted the proceedings to condemn Paul's 'extraordinary statement ... that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq' and then demand a retraction as the crowd went wild. Campaign reporters, straight and ideological alike, started writing Ron Paul's obituary. Politico Executive Editor Jim VandeHei, on CNN's American Morning the next day, said that 'Rudy Giuliani came off terrific...mostly because he got that softball, where Ron Paul lobs it to him and basically blames the U.S. for the 9/11 attacks...You dream of those moments when you're a candidate, that's for sure.' Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt agitated for Paul to be barred from future GOP debates. National Review's headline captured the media zeitgeist succinctly: "Giuliani Up, McCain Up, Romney Down, and Ron Paul Out—Way Out.'

"But a funny thing happened on the way to Paul's seemingly inevitable ostracism from the Republican Party for the sin of noninterventionism: His star began to rise, while Giuliani's crashed and burned. Not only would the rambling septuagenarian outpace the famous former New York mayor in both delegates and the popular vote during the 2008 campaign, his message of peace and American pullback electrified a new generation of activists and voters, while Giuliani's hawkish stance has become less popular by the day.

"Now retired from Congress after a second, more successful run at the White House, Paul can gaze out at a world and a GOP that has become much more sympathetic to his once-lonely view of the world. His son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), has been hanging out near the top of the polls for the 2016 presidential race, selling a more Republican-friendly version of intervention-skepticism. There are entire armies of young libertarian activists — including many recent military veterans — who got their introduction to the philosophy through Ron Paul's bracing criticism of U.S. misadventures abroad. You can't talk about libertarian foreign policy without talking about — and to — Ron Paul. reason Editor in Chief Matt Welch caught up with the three-time presidential candidate over the phone in October."

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Highlight of 2014 - Minnesota's civil forfeiture law

Minnesota Now Requires A Criminal Conviction Before People Can Lose Their Property To Forfeiture -  Nick Sibilla, Institute for Justice, Forbes:

July 5, 2014 -  "In a big win for property rights and due process, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill [July 4] to curb an abusive — and little known — police practice called civil forfeiture. Unlike criminal forfeiture, under civil forfeiture someone does not have to be convicted of a crime, or even charged with one, to permanently lose his or her cash, car or home.

"The newly signed legislation, SF 874, corrects that injustice. Now the government can only take property if it obtains a criminal conviction or its equivalent, like if a property owner pleads guilty to a crime or becomes an informant. The bill also shifts the burden of proof onto the government, where it rightfully belongs. Previously, if owners wanted to get their property back, they had to prove their property was not the instrument or proceeds of the charged drug crime.  In other words, owners had to prove a negative in civil court. Being acquitted of the drug charge in criminal court did not matter to the forfeiture case in civil court.

"As Lee McGrath, the executive director of the Institute for Justice’s Minnesota chapter, put it, 'No one acquitted in criminal court should lose his property in civil court. This change makes Minnesota’s law consistent with the great American presumption that a person and his property are innocent until proven guilty.'

"The bill faced stiff opposition from law enforcement and a bottleneck in the legislature. In March, the Star Tribune called it an 'outrage' that lawmakers were 'dragging their feet on one of the big, common-sense changes' to the state’s forfeiture laws. Ultimately, SF 874 found wide, bipartisan support, passing the state senate 55 to 5 and the state house unanimously. The reforms will go into effect starting August 1, 2014."

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Highlight of 2014 - Wisconsin's police-shooting law

In Wisconsin, A Decade-Old Police Shooting Leads To New Law - NPR:

December 13, 2014 - "Race is at the forefront of the current debate over the police use of deadly force. But one shooting in Wisconsin highlights another factor at play when police shoot civilians — the lack of outside investigation. And the decade-old death has led to real reform in the state.

"Ten years ago, 21-year-old Michael Bell Jr. pulled up to the house where he lived with his mom and sister in Kenosha, Wis., about an hour south of Milwaukee. A police officer who, according to a police report chose to follow Bell after observing his driving, arrived shortly after.... The two walked off-camera, where police tried to arrest him. A struggle ensued, and while his mom and sister watched from the house, Bell was shot, point-blank, in the head....

"The Kenosha Police Department's detective division and internal affairs division immediately conducted an investigation.... Within 48 hours, the department had determined that the shooting was justified, that the use of force was proper and that none of the officers had done anything wrong....

"As a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, Michael Bell Sr. says he's been a part of mishap investigations before. He was expecting a long, drawn-out investigation into his own son's death — not a decision made by the same police department in just a couple of days.... He says he knew the police had not even talked to the witnesses or gotten the report back from the crime lab....

"The Bell family ended up filing a civil suit for wrongful death. Six years later, they received a $1.75 million settlement. But there was no admission of wrongdoing, and the police maintained that Michael Bell Jr. caused his own death.

"The family used the settlement money to fund a grassroots campaign. They took out ads in the New York Times, in USA Today and on radio and created TV commercials.... Bell bought every available billboard in Milwaukee with slogans like: 'When Police Kill, Should They Judge Themselves?'

"'After we created enough ruckus, the unions ended up sitting down with us and talking with us,' Bell says. They told him that if he wanted to take the billboards down, they would work with him in crafting the legislation he sought.

"The law they put forth would make Wisconsin the first state in the nation to mandate, on the legislative level, that if an officer was involved with a loss of life, that outside investigators must come in and collect the data and investigate that shooting.

"This past April, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker passed the bill into law."

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Have an anarchist Christmas

An Anarchist Christmas » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names - Grant Mincey:

December 25, 2014 - "As we reflect on this year of violence, imagine alternatives and act for social change perhaps we may revisit an age-old political ideology as liberating, co-operative and peaceful as it is misunderstood. The rich political tradition to which I refer is anarchism....

"Anarchic practitioners advocate highly ordered societies rooted in the principles of free association, mutual aid and cooperative labor.... This libertarian idea is deeply ingrained in the human spirit....

"Liberty is not a doctrine, but rather a praxis innate to human thought and action — the underlying principle being that one should always challenge authority and dismantle unjustifiable concentrations of power. The result is a more libertarian relationship between people and their institutions. Anarchism is thus a human phenomenon.

"When feminist movements organize for women’s agency over their own bodies and life without fear of violence we see anarchism.

"We see anarchism in Mexico as the population seeks liberation from violent drug cartels, complacent government and oppressive state policies.

"We see anarchism in prisons as inmates band together in these dehumanizing institutions to demand living conditions free of violence and sexual battery.

"We see anarchism in war-torn regions of the world where individuals risk their lives to save innocent victims of the drone strikes and barrel bombs of oppressive regimes.

"We see anarchism in towns and neighborhoods challenging the monopoly of violence held by the police.

"We see anarchism in movements that seek the protection of wilderness areas and native lands from the clutches of extractive industries and the iron fist of capital.

"We find anarchism in the new technology and falling communications costs that allow all of us to craft markets and labor together free of regulatory restriction.

"We see anarchism in our everyday social interactions — telling our family and friends we love them and being kind to strangers.

"These are but a few examples. Anarchism is everywhere."

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

U.S. military increasingly identifying as libertarians

In a Military Embracing Social Change, Troops Increasingly Identify as Independent and Libertarian - Hit & Run : - J.D. Tuccille:

December 22, 2014 - "Shifts in social attitudes, politics, and attitudes toward government are seeping from the civilian world into the U.S. military. The military is quickly adapting to increased tolerance toward gays and lesbians in American life, expanding roles for women, and growing distaste for the established political parties and the performance of the U.S. government. And, like many Americans, soldiers, sailors, and marines are drifting away from the major parties, increasingly identifying themseves as independents and libertarians.

"A survey of active-duty armed forces personnel among the readership of Military Times finds that support for gays and lesbians openly serving in the military rose from 35 percent in 2009 to 60 percent in 2014. Overt disapproval fell from 49 percent to 19 percent in the same time.

"Support for opening at least some combat-arms jobs to women rose from 34 percent in 2011 to 41 percent in 2014, wwith opposition falling from 43 percent to 28 percent....

"Likewise, the troops match their friends and relatives in growing disgust with the way the government handles its responsibilities. The country at large has presidential approval underwater and opinions of Congress sunk somewhere in the Mariana Trench. Military personnel, who generally think they're underpaid, undersupplied, and underappreciated say that neither major party has their best interests in mind....

"And like other Americans, military personnel look for alternatives elsewhere. A generally conservative bunch, Democrats and liberals make up only about 8 percent of the poll respondents. But support for the Republican is hemmorrhaging away, with members of the armed forces increasingly identifying as independents and libertarians."

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Republican libertarians support new Cuba policy

Libertarian breaks with GOP on Cuba - Christina Marcos, The Hill:

December 15, 2014 - "Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), a prominent libertarian, said Thursday that he supports re-establishing U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba.

"Amash said that the current sanctions hadn't guided Cuba toward democracy and allowing travel and trade again could improve the situation.

"'An isolationist foreign policy that blocks trade and restricts travel between our country and Cuba hasn't made our neighbor free or democratic. And the United States' half-century embargo hasn't brought down the Castro regime,' Amash wrote on Facebook.

"'We can more readily help Cubans establish liberty through policies that open dialogue, travel, and trade,' Amash concluded.

"Fellow libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a likely 2016 presidential contender, said Thursday that he supports the Obama administration's decision to begin talks with Cuba.

"'The 50-year embargo just hasn't worked,' Paul told WVHU Radio in West Virginia. 'If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn't seem to be working, and probably it punishes the people more than the regime because the regime can blame the embargo for hardship.'"

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Vaclav Klaus ousted from Cato Institute

Daily Beast: Klaus ousted from Libertarian group - PRAGUE POST | The Voice of Prague:

December 22, 2014 - "Former Czech President Václav Klaus, an extreme free-market advocate and global warming denier, has not been associated with the Washington, D.C.–based think tank Cato Institute since September, according to news site the Daily Beast.

"After his presidency ended in 2013, Klaus was named a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute.

"The page on the Cato website with Klaus’ bio now refers to him as a 'former distinguished senior fellow,' with no further explanation.... His publications are still listed and his bio includes his academic work and political career up to the end of his presidency in 2013, but there is no mention of anything after that....

"The Daily Beast says causes for the rift included his 'slavish defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine' and his move toward the far right.

"Personal freedom is a key issue for Libertarians, and Klaus’ open hostility to the LGBT community also rubbed people in Libertarian circles the wrong way.

"A spokesman for Klaus did not deny the axing, but put the blame for the situation on a former Putin adviser who is now a harsh Putin critic, current Cato senior fellow Andrei Illarionov, the Daily Beast stated."

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Religious Freedom and American History

Religious Freedom and American History | Stephen Cox | First Things:

"Stephen Cox is Professor of Literature at the University of California-San Diego, editor of Liberty, a journal of culture and politics, and author of several scholarly books, including American Christianity: The Continuing Revolution. First Things senior editor Mark Bauerlein spoke to him about the libertarian understanding of religious liberty at the present time. 

"What is the basic libertarian understanding of religious liberty in United States law and society?

"Libertarians would like the state to have nothing to do with religion, either by hindering it or by supporting it. I’m sure that few libertarians would rejoice to see the Ten Commandments implanted on courthouse lawns, or to hear of more students forbidden to mention Christ in their valedictory speeches. Libertarian hearts beat violently when there is any news of censorship, inspired by either atheists or Christians....

"Libertarians tend to be moralistic people. I’m probably an even bigger moralist than other libertarians, because I’m a Christian. But as libertarians see it, every forcible infringement of liberty is morally outrageous, whether it’s military conscription or a law that criminalizes hair-braiding in the home. Of course this means that libertarians are unanimous in supporting the end of victimless crime laws, which are often highly favored by religious people, on religious grounds.

"When I say 'religious people,' I refer not simply to people on the Right. When I was writing my book about the history of American Christianity, I was constantly impressed by the extent to which the religious left has tried to interfere with individual choices. For almost one hundred years, the mainstream denominations, led by modern liberals, have done their best to support government interventions in people’s choices, by their dedicated support of the welfare state. In the old days of strong government regulation of broadcasting, they did their best to keep evangelical programming off the air. We need to remember that Prohibition was a creature of the left, too, and so were attacks on homosexuality and “dirty” literature.

"Asked about a certain religious leader, William Blake said, 'He is a sent man' — sent by God. Then he added, 'But they who are sent sometimes go further than they ought.' In America, they often go further. The quantity of moralistic meddling never diminishes; it just shifts from one target to the next, from attacks on extramarital sex, for example, to attacks on people who don’t approve of extramarital sex."

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Case for moderate libertarianism

Opinion: The case for moderate Libertarianism - Steven V. Uccio, Times of Trenton:

December 15, 2014 - "Libertarianism is based solely on the single, guiding philosophy called the non-aggression principle: the idea that you should not use force against another person or accept it from someone else. That's it. No more and no less. Libertarians are often wary of the government and love the Constitution as a means to protect their rights. Many are interested in such things as bitcoin and silver as alternate currencies, because we question the government's monopoly on money and are concerned about the devaluation of the dollar. Those things are not explicitly necessary to being a Libertarian, however, and do not define us.

"Libertarians don't like to use force. We like to make things as voluntary as possible. We hate to ban and we hate to mandate. The biggest problem with Libertarianism comes when we consider our taxes. Income and property taxes are inherently un-Libertarian. The government is forcefully taking money from its citizens. If you don't believe that, then stop paying your taxes and see what happens. If you continue not to pay, you will eventually be sent to prison. Taxation is theft.

"Some Libertarians believe there should be no income taxes or property taxes. They have very thoughtfully come up with a plan and written entire books for either a voluntary or fee-based form of government and, I'm sure, in theory, it sounds very good. It might even work. The problem is that it is very abstract and high-concept. I don't want to be like that. I want to be very realistic and practical in my approach to Libertarianism. I live in the real world and realize I can't undo hundreds of years of history and the growing creep of government in a single day.

"I believe we should have maximum control over our lives and our money and we should be allowed to do whatever we want, as long as it doesn't hurt someone else. I think the government's job is to protect our rights, respect our privacy, do as little as possible, fight wars only to defend us, and have no debt. Its job is not to help people, but to ensure that conditions exist in which people can take care of themselves and by which private charities or an extremely limited social safety net can take care of the rest. That would be a tremendous step forward compared to what our federal government does now and I don't think it's outside the values of the average person."

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See also: ''The Non-Aggression Principle", by George J. Dance

Friday, December 19, 2014

AK Libertarians win 2 Public Offices Commission seats

Libertarians win seats on APOC following November election | Alaska Dispatch - Nathaniel Herz:

December 9, 2014 - "Alaska Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate Carolyn Clift came in a distant third place in last month’s election -- but she still won her party a consolation prize.

"Clift’s result means the Libertarians will get a pair of seats on the Alaska Public Offices Commission, the state board charged with regulating elections and lobbying laws.

"That’s because four of the five commissioners are split up between the two political parties whose gubernatorial candidates earned the highest vote totals in the most recent election. The fifth commissioner is nominated by the other four, with final approval coming from the governor.

"Clift placed third, but the winning candidate, Bill Walker, ran as an independent with the endorsement of the Alaska Democratic Party, whose own gubernatorial candidate, Byron Mallott, dropped out of the race to become Walker’s running mate.

"That means that APOC members will come from the Alaska Republican Party, whose candidate, Sean Parnell, placed second, and from the Libertarian Party.

"Michael Chambers, the Libertarian Party’s chair, acknowledged that 'to have Libertarians on the APOC board is kind of an oxymoron,' given that Libertarians typically support limited government and less regulation.

"But Chambers added he’s excited for the change, which he said his party hopes to use to try to loosen APOC’s stringent fundraising and disclosure requirements.

"'If we had the effect on the APOC board that we would like to, it would be a much simpler process and much easier to understand,' Chambers said."

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sydney shootings enabled by gun control, libertarian senator says

Australia a 'nation of victims', says pro-gun senator Leyonhjelm. James Glenday, Australian Broadcasting Corp:

December 17, 2014 - "Australia is a 'nation of victims' with citizens unable to properly protect themselves with weapons, pro-gun crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm has warned.

The Liberal Democrat said he wanted a calm, measured discussion about the right to 'practical self-defence' in the wake of the deadly Sydney siege.

"'What happened in that cafe would have been most unlikely to have occurred in Florida, Texas, or Vermont, or Alaska in America, or perhaps even Switzerland as well', Senator Leyonhjelm said.

"He told the ABC's AM program, 'statistically speaking' in those jurisdictions 'one or two of the victims' would have had a concealed gun.  'That nutcase who held them all hostage wouldn't have known they were armed and bad guys don't like to be shot back at," he said.

"He said the Lindt Cafe hostages were helpless because they were not allowed to carry a lethal or non-lethal weapon.

"'It would have been illegal for them to have had a knife, a stick, a pepper spray, a personal taser, mace, anything like that for self-defence,' he said.

"'I regard that [as] an absolute travesty. To turn an entire population into a nation of victims is just unforgiveable in my estimation.'"

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

McCotter predicts libertarian takeover of GOP

Libertarian takeover: Thaddeus McCotter predicts a new world order for GOP - Rick Klein, Jon Ward, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps, Yahoo News:

December 16, 2014 - "Former Republican presidential candidate Thaddeus McCotter is not himself a libertarian, but the former Michigan congressman predicts an approaching libertarian takeover of the Grand Old Party.

"At least, that’s the premise of his new book, Liberty Risen: The Ultimate Triumph of Libertarian-Republicans.

"'The reality is you want to conserve what's best but you want to go forward, you want to go forward from the industrial era to the Internet age,' McCotter told “Top Line” in a recent interview. 'Government has to be reorganized for the future.'

"Though he sees the march toward libertarianism as inevitable with the rise of the millennial generation, which he sees as forcing change within the party, he qualifies that this trend is gradual and has been going on for quite some time.

"'The rise of libertarians is not something new within the Republican Party. I mean, Ron Paul actually puts that to rest, but the reality is [that] … the communications revolution is reshaping everything that we've known,' McCotter said. 'That culture tends to be more libertarian, more empowered … and eventually that culture -- and the millennials especially as they age and mature -- is going to lead to match a consumer-driven economy to a citizen-driven government.'

"Asked if Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is the GOP’s answer for channeling the energy of the libertarian movement into the mainstream Republican Party in 2016, McCotter replied: 'Well, I say we're going to have a stallion, I'm not saying it's going to be Man o' War.'"

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Class action suit against Ontario beer monopolies

LCBO and Beer Store 'sweetheart deal' lawsuit calls for $1.4 billion in damages - Market Business News- Joseph Nordqvist:

December 14, 2014 - "A secret deal signed in 2000 between the LCBO and the Beer Store, limiting competition between Ontario’s provincial and private alcohol monopolies, has resulted in a class-action lawsuit.

"The retail outlets have been alleged of being part of a 'conspiracy to fix, raise, maintain or stabilize prices of beer in Ontario' and 'participated in illegal and secretive discussions and made agreements relating to prices and distribution areas of beer in Ontario.'

"The class-action lawsuit calls for $1.4 billion in damages. It has not yet been proven in court and the lawsuits need to be given the green light by a judge before proceeding as actions.

"The claim also demands $5-million in 'punitive and exemplary damages.'

"London, Ontario based Siskinds LLP filed the court documents on behalf of David Hughes and a company that operates a restaurant called The Poacher.

"Earlier this week the Toronto Star reported on a secret ‘sweetheart deal’ made between the LCBO and the Beer Store in June 2000.... As a result of the deal Ontarians can, for the most part, only buy larger cases of beer at the Beer Store. Prices of beer at the Beer Store are set by the three Belgian, Japanese, and American brewing companies that own the corporation. Labatt Brewing Company (AB InBev) has a 49% stake, Molson Coors Brewing Company owns 49%, while Sleeman Breweries (Sapporo) has a 2% stake.

"The Canadian restaurant industry group, Restaurants Canada, demanded that the Ontario government cancel this 'sweetheart deal'. It said that it has asked for an investigation to be carried out by the federal Competition Bureau.... According to Restaurants Canada, the deal limits competition and increases the cost of beer in bars and restaurants."

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Monday, December 15, 2014

David Koch "basically a libertarian" (video)

Koch Brother Says He's A 'Social Liberal,' Not An 'Evil Billionaire' - Catherine Thompson, Talking Points Memo:

December `5, 2014 - "David Koch, one half of America's most politically influential pair of brothers, said Sunday that he doesn't understand why people think he's an 'evil billionaire' and identified as a 'social liberal.'

"During her interview with Koch for ABC's 'The Ten Most Fascinating People of 2014,' Barbara Walters told the reclusive billionaire that he wasn't 'well liked' because of his conservative politics.

"'I’m basically a libertarian and I’m a conservative on economic matters, and I’m a social liberal,' Koch responded.

"Walters then asked Koch why he uses his wealth to elect socially conservative candidates if he supports gay rights and a woman's right to choose.

"'Well, that's their problem. I do have those views,' he said.

"'What I want these candidates to do is to support a balanced budget,' he added. 'I’m very worried that if the budget is not balanced that inflation could occur and the economy of our country could suffer terribly.'

"Asked whether he thought it was fair that he's able to influence elections because of his vast wealth, Koch said that he obeys federal limits on how much he can contribute to individual candidates."

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

What should a libertarian foreign policy look like?

In Search of Libertarian Realism - - Matt Welch, Reason (January 2015):

December 8, 2014 - "For the next decade [after the invasion of Iraq] ... American appetite for war, occupation, and the concomitant surveillance state went on a steady and uninterrupted decline, culminating in the shockingly successful September 2013 public and congressional revolt against President Barack Obama's plans to attack Bashar Assad's regime in Syria. With the occupation of Afghanistan becoming the most unpopular war in recorded U.S. history, and with people telling pollsters they feared their own government more than they feared terrorists, it became possible to imagine a cross-ideological coalition against war, spanning from the progressive left to the constitutional-conservative right, and headed up by the libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

"But 2014 has complicated that narrative. The rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) within war-torn Syria, Iraq, and Libya halted the public's decade-long bear market on war, with more Americans favoring combat troops against ISIS in October than in September....

"With Rand Paul at or near the top of GOP presidential polls for 2016, the principled noninterventionism of his father is colliding with the complications not just of the Islamic State but of Washington politics. If Ron's project is to spread the pure principles of anti-intervention, Rand's is to see how much anti-intervention he can sneak into the mainstream diet. These differing approaches — and the different men behind them — have triggered all sorts of fierce debates about what a libertarian foreign policy really looks like.

"The Hoover Institution's Richard Epstein, in a September piece titled 'Rand Paul's Fatal Pacifism,' criticized libertarians for being 'clueless on the ISIS front,' arguing that 'In principle, even deadly force can be used in anticipation of an attack by others, lest any delayed response prove fatal.'

"Responding at, reason Contributing Editor David R. Henderson countered that 'whatever else libertarian non-interventionists believe, few of us have what Professor Epstein calls an "illusion of certainty." It is the exact opposite: we are positive that there is great uncertainty. It is this uncertainty that should, in general, cause us to pressure our government to stay out of other countries' affairs.'

"So who's right? And what should libertarian principles about foreign policy look like after colliding with messy reality? In the pages ahead, we have convened a forum of self-identified libertarians who have a range of informed opinions on U.S. foreign policy. The results are designed to start a debate rather than finish it, to take a thoroughgoing skepticism about intervention into the realm of the real. In short, it's a search for libertarian realism."

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Why Eric Garner was innocent

Eric Garner: 100% innocent under libertarian law - Ilana Mercer, Return to Reason, World Net Daily:

December 11, 2014 - "Eric Garner was doing nothing naturally illicit when he was tackled and placed in the chokehold that killed him. It can be argued, if anything, that Garner was being entrepreneurial. He had been trading untaxed cigarettes in defiance of the state’s 'slave patrol' and 'Comrade' Andrew Cuomo’s 'Cigarette Strike Force'.... Had Garner’s naturally licit trade not been criminalized by today’s Tammany Hall, he’d be alive today....

"Garner was selling his own cigarettes. The 'law' he violated was one that violated Garner’s individual, natural right to dispose of his own property – 'loosies' – at will.

"In libertarian law, Garner is thus 100 percent innocent, for the good libertarian abides by the axiom of non-aggression. When enforcers of the shakedown syndicate came around to bust him, Garner raised his voice, gestured and turned to walk away from his harassers. He did not aggress against or hurt any of the goons.

"To plagiarize myself in 'Tasers ‘R’ Us,' 'Liberty is a simple thing. It’s the unassailable right to shout, flail your arms, even verbally provoke a politician [or policeman] unmolested. Tyranny is when those small things can get you assaulted, incarcerated, injured, even killed.'

"Again: Garner had obeyed the libertarian, natural law absolutely. He was trading peacefully. In the same spirit, he turned to walk away from a confrontation. Befitting this pacific pattern, Garner had broken up a street fight prior to his murder....

"The government has a monopoly over making and enforcing law – it decides what is legal and what isn’t. Thus it behooves thinking people to question the monopolist and his laws. After all, cautioned the great Southern constitutional scholar James McClellan, 'What is legally just, may not be what is naturally just'....

"Unlike the positive law, which is state-created; natural law [is] not enacted. Rather, it is a higher law – a system of ethics – knowable through reason, revelation and experience. 'By natural law,' propounded McClellan in Liberty, Order, And Justice, 'we mean those principles which are inherent in man’s nature as a rational, moral, and social being, and which cannot be casually ignored.'

"Eric Garner was on 'public' property. Had he been trespassing on private property, the proprietor would have been in his right to remove him. However, Garner was not violating anyone’s rights or harming anyone by standing on a street corner and peddling his wares – that is unless the malevolent competition that sicced the cops on him has a property right in their prior profits. They don’t."

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Friday, December 12, 2014

U.S. House chairmanships go to libertarians' foes

The Hawks Strike Back: Libertarians Routed in GOP Committee Races - David Wiegel, Bloomberg Politics:

November 19, 2014 - "There is no more acrimonious relationship in the House GOP conference than the one between Michigan Representative Justin Amash and California Representative Devin Nunes. After Amash nearly succeeded in passing a bill that would have de-funded the NSA's metadata collection program, Nunes basically called him a traitor. 'This is a guy willing to work with San Francisco Democrats to protect baitfish,' he told Politico, 'and at the same time he’s Al-Qaeda’s best friend in the Congress'....

"On Tuesday, Nunes was elected to chair the House Intelligence Committee. 'Over the past four years, Devin has been instrumental in ensuring that our intelligence professionals have the resources they need to keep America safe,' said Speaker John Boehner in a statement.

"Amash didn't respond to a request for comment, but there was more bad news for the libertarian wing of the GOP on Tuesday. In a true upset, Texas Representative Bill Flores overcame South Carolina Representative Mick Mulvaney to take over the conservative Republican Study Committee. According to Lachlan Markay's reporting, Mulvaney was done in by hawkish conservatives who had organized for months against the elevation of a more libertarian-minded member. In a July letter, 25 hawks stated 'that any candidate for Chairman of the Republican Study Committee be thoroughly vetted to have demonstrated a clear, principled and unequivocal voting record in support of our national security.'

"That functionally meant Mulvaney. He was one of a loud but small minority of Republicans who argued that defense cuts needed to be part of a fiscally responsible budget. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul campaigned for him. Last week, Mulvaney was spotted in the hotel where Paul had gathered supporters to talk about his progress so far and the possibility of a 2016 White House run."

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

4 Louisiana Libertarians win local office in 2014

Libertarian Party of Louisiana - Nov. 4th Election Results: 

November 6, 2014 - "The 2014 Louisiana Fall elections have been an exciting time for the Libertarian Party of Louisiana! Congratulations to our newly elected Libertarians! William McBride of St Landry Parish is the new Council Member in District 3, Town of Washington! Henry Herford of Franklin is elected Constable for Justice of the Peace in District 1 and Justin Bonnette is Justice of the Peace Ward 6 in Vernon Parish! Chad Perry has made the run off in his race in Calcasieu Justice of the Peace Ward 7! "

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Louisiana Libertarian wins runoff election | Libertarian Party:

December 8, 2014 - "Louisiana Libertarian Chad Perry was elected Justice of the Peace in ward seven in Saturday's runoff election....Mr. Perry received 630 votes for 51.8%....

"This makes four Lousiana LP candidates that were elected to office this year....

"'With four candidates elected, two head to head, one of them being a run off, plus the highest percentage of votes for a federal is safe to say that the Libertarian Party of Louisiana had the best results of the LP affiliates in the nation this fall!" said LPLA Executive Director Wendy Adams."

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Reason magazine's Webathon 2014 raises $200K

Reason Webathon 2014: We Reached $200,000 Thanks to You! - Hit & Run :

December 9, 2014 - "With six hours to go, we've already reached our goal of raising $200,000 in tax-deductible donations to support Reason's print, online, and video journalism. Thank you for opening your wallets to further the cause of "Free Minds and Free Markets."

And if you haven't given yet, don't be shy! You've got until midnight tonight (or even the wee small hours of the evening and next morning) to make a donation....

"Make no mistake: The Libertarian Moment is not about politics per se. It's about the radical decentralization of information, power, and autonomy that is leeching authority out of all the old established places (goodbye, New Republic) and into the hands of people who are ready, willing, able to grab it with both hands and innovate and live their lives without asking permission. As Matt Welch and I argued in The Declaration of Independents (2011), politics is a lagging indicator of American society and it's no coincidence that the places where your life is mostly likely to suck — education, health care, and retirement — are mostly or wholly run and regulated by the government....

 "We cannot do what we do without your help and the fact that we have already raised 33 percent more than we did last year is one more sign that our vision of "Free Minds and Free Markets" is becoming more interesting and attractive to more and more people.

"Our numbers are up — has more than doubled its audience since 2011 alone and is now pulling over 4 million visits per month — across every possible measure. And so is our energy and drive, thanks to your gracious and generous support."

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2 CT Libertarians keep ballot access for their seats

Two Connecticut LP candidates retain ballot access for their seats | Libertarian Party:

November 17, 2014 - "Two Connecticut LP candidates, Dan Reale and Richard Lion, retained ballot access for a U.S. House seat and for a state House seat because of the votes they received in their respective races.

"In Connecticut, a political party is recognized if it has at least 20 percent of the registered political party voters, or if the party's gubernatorial candidate gets 20 percent.

"If a party isn't recognized, the party can appear on the ballot for any specific partisan race in the next election for that seat if a candidate receives 1 percent.

"Dan Reale obtained 1.1 percent in his race for the U.S. House of Representatives 2nd district, and Richard Lion received 14 percent in the election for the state House of Representatives in the 9th district.

"Reale had also run for the 2nd congressional seat in 2012, and received 1.2 percent, thereby garnering ballot access for the office this year.

"In addition, the LPCT will have ballot access in 2016 for the U.S. Senate seat, as Paul Passarelli received 1.7 percent in 2012. There was no race for U.S. Senate in the state this year."

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Reduce government, reduce police brutality

Reduce government, reduce police brutality | Anthony Furey | Opinion | Winnipeg Sun:

December 5, 2014 - "The first few times I watched the Eric Garner video it was the end part that I focused on. How can one not? That’s the point where Garner is placed in the chokehold by the police officer. He later died from the complications of that hold.... But after a few views I started to really hear what was happening at the beginning of the video, when a couple officers surround Garner.

"He appears genuinely frustrated. At his wits’ end. He says he wasn’t doing anything. He certainly doesn’t look like he was doing anything.

"'Every time you see me you want to mess with me,' he cries out.

"It’s important to remember what they’re bickering about: Whether or not Garner was peddling contraband cigarettes on the sidewalk. Really?! And this seemingly irrelevant disagreement ends in a man’s death?

"This opening scene reminds me of the story of Mohamed Bouazizi, the 26-year-old Tunisian fruit vendor who sparked the Arab Spring.

"He’d been harassed for years by local officials over petty regulatory issues that seemed to change daily.... One day the harassment got too much and he set fire to himself in protest....

"In Garner’s case, he was killed because the government was protecting both the cigarette brands it favours and the massive taxes it collects from smokes....

"Whatever your thoughts about how police brutality and racism play into the story, this altercation would have never happened in the first place were it not for the cigarette laws....

"So here’s where we’re at: The government has made a product unaffordable for low-income people. Those people in turn buy from the black market. This creates a criminal underworld and also reduces government tax revenues. The government then uses tax dollars to employ police resources to crack down on this. This is a perverse circle.

"The problem with the Garner case at every single step is a lack of proportionality. Too many stupid laws. Too many cops on the scene. Too many instances of harassing low-income people who are just doing what they need to do to make it through the day."

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Garner's death shows need for an American Spring

Eric Garner could spark American Spring: Column - David Boaz, USA Today:

December 5, 2014 - "The violent death of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia set off the Arab Spring. Could the killing of Eric Garner lead to a springtime of police reform – and regulatory reform – in the United States?

"Bouazizi was a street vendor, selling fruits and vegetables from a cart. He aspired to buy a pickup truck to expand his business. But, as property rights reformer Hernando de Soto wrote in the Wall Street Journal, ...  'government inspectors made Bouazizi's life miserable, shaking him down for bribes when he couldn't produce licenses that were (by design) virtually unobtainable. He tired of the abuse. The day he killed himself, inspectors had come to seize his merchandise and his electronic scale for weighing goods. A tussle began. One municipal inspector, a woman, slapped Bouazizi across the face. That humiliation, along with the confiscation of just $225 worth of his wares, is said to have led the young man to take his own life'....

"Garner's story is surprisingly similar. He had been arrested more than 30 times, for such crimes as marijuana possession and driving without a license, and most often for selling untaxed cigarettes on the street.

"Why sell untaxed cigarettes? Because New York has the country's highest cigarette taxes, $4.35 a pack for New York State and another $1.50 for the city. A pack of cigarettes can cost $14 in New York City, two and a half times as much as in Virginia . So a lively black market has sprung up.... A 2013 study by the Mackinac Center found, not surprisingly, that New York had the highest rate of cigarette smuggling, totaling 61% of the state's cigarette sales.

"Eric Garner was a small part of that black market. He sold individual cigarettes – 'loosies' – on the street to people without much money. It's easier for police to apprehend street sellers than interstate organized crime. Thus his long record of arrests. And the more laws we pass, the more chances there are for people to run afoul of the police. Especially when we outlaw peaceful activities, such as smoking marijuana, selling untaxed cigarettes or feeding the homeless.

"Eric Garner's last words could have been said by Mohamed Bouazizi. We've all heard that his very last words were 'I can't breathe,' which he told the police eight times. But before his encounter with the police reached that final, fatal point, cellphones captured his frustration:

"'Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I'm tired of it. It stops today. … Because every time you see me, you want to harass me. You want to stop me [garbled] selling cigarettes. I'm minding my business, officer, I'm minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone.'" 

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

The long war for control of SCOTUS

Libertarians and Conservatives Battle Over the Supreme Court - Michael Greve, Wall Street Journal:

November 17, 2014 - "We have had wars over the direction of the Supreme Court — President Roosevelt’s 1937 court-packing plan or, more recently, the brutal fights over the judicial nominations of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas . These partisan confrontations, however, are not what Damon Root has in mind in Overruled: The Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court. His 'war' pits libertarians against conservatives. Libertarians, he says, want judicial 'action' and 'engagement.' Conservatives want 'restraint.'

"While legal historians may quarrel with the story here and there, the broader audience for which Overruled is intended will benefit from Mr. Root’s confident, competent telling. In particular, he powerfully illustrates that Holmes, Brandeis and Frankfurter—the most overrated justices in our history—had not the foggiest notion of the Constitution. To the extent that they comprehended it, they loathed it as inimical to their vision of government by experts.

"Mr. Root’s chronicle of these rival legal traditions sets the stage for the main parts of Overruled: its account of the conservative-libertarian debate of the past three decades and of litigation campaigns in which libertarian organizations have led the way. They include gun-control cases, spearheaded by the Cato Institute; the Kelo v. City of New London (2005) case, where the Institute for Justice argued (if unsuccessfully) that the 'taking' of private property requires a public purpose; the institute’s Lochner-style challenges to licensing requirements for hair braiders and casket makers; and the NFIB v. Sebelius (2012) litigation over the Affordable Care Act, where libertarian law professors played a central role. Mr. Root’s description of how those cases were conceptualized and litigated is fun stuff and informative even for insiders....

"Signally but obliquely, the author seems to recognize that the Supreme Court has also enhanced conservative-libertarian convergence in a different way.... Restraint-oriented conservatives never objected to freedom for hair braiders; rather, they worried that a libertarian-rights agenda might also entail abortion on demand (delicately omitted from Mr. Root’s 'landmark rulings') and gay marriage. Now that those battles have been fought and lost, conservatives might as well embrace the libertarian campaign for economic rights and an 'engaged' judiciary."

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Eric Garner a casualty of NYC's 'war on tobacco'

Rand Paul Is Right about Eric Garner | National Review Online - Jonah Goldberg:

December 5, 2014 - "Reasonable people can disagree on whether racism was involved in the tragic death of Eric Garner. My own suspicion is that this misfortune could have transpired just as easily with a white man resisting arrest and/or a black cop choking him.

"And even though lots of people don’t want to hear it, reasonable people can disagree on whether illegally excessive force was to blame. Personally, watching the ubiquitous video of Garner’s arrest, it looks like excessive force to me....

"But you know what reasonable people can’t dispute? New York’s cigarette taxes are partly to blame for Eric Garner’s death.

"Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky made this point Wednesday night on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, and liberals have been freaking out about it ever since.

"'I think it’s hard not to watch that video of him saying, "I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe," and not be horrified by it,' Paul said. 'But I think there’s something bigger than the individual circumstances.... I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes, so that’s driven cigarettes underground by making them so expensive. But then some politician also had to direct the police to say, "Hey we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette'.... For someone to die over breaking that law, there really is no excuse for it. But I do blame the politicians. We put our police in a difficult situation with bad laws....'

"I do know that anyone with a level head should understand — and agree with — Paul’s point. When you pass a law, you authorize law enforcement to enforce it. That’s actually why they’re called 'law enforcement.' Google it.

"New York City declared war on tobacco a long time ago, and in the process City Hall has become addicted to Brobdingnagian cigarette taxes. That’s why law enforcement is enforcing the laws against bootleg smokes.

"Of course, reasonable people can debate the wisdom of such laws. But only unreasonable people can deny that those laws are partly to blame. Without laws making cigarettes more expensive, Eric Garner would be alive today, period.

"What’s so strange about the outrage over Paul’s remarks is that Paul’s point is perfectly consistent with his — and the Left’s — opposition to the drug war."

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Maryland LP stays on ballot; first time in 44 years

November 12, 2014 - "For the first time in its history, the Maryland Libertarian Party met the vote test to retain ballot access.

"It was also the first time in 44 years that any challenge party in the state was able to retain ballot access.

"Gubernatorial candidate Shawn Quinn and candidate for lieutenant governor Lorenzo Gaztanaga received 1.5 percent of the vote last Tuesday, and the state party will appear on the ballot in 2016.

"In Maryland, the top-of-the-ticket candidate must get 1 percent, or the party must have at least 1 percent of the registered voters on the last day of the year to continue as a recognized party. In 2016, the LP presidential candidate must get at least 1 percent.

"Because of restrictive ballot access laws, no alternative party candidate had run for statewide office between 1970 and 2002, when Spear Lancaster ran for governor as a Libertarian. In addition to having to collect 10,000 signatures, non-Democrat/Republican candidates also had to petition individually to get on the ballot, which during Lancaster's campaign required more than 34,000 signatures. The individual candidate petition was struck down the next year by the highest court in the state, and now candidates can get on the ballot as long as the party has ballot access."

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

D.C. council votes to ban 'policing for profit'

Washington, D.C. Council Votes to Reform City's Civil Forfeiture Laws, Ban Policing for Profit - Forbes - Nick Sibilla, Institute for Justive:

December 3, 2014 - "The Council of the District of Columbia voted unanimously on Tuesday in favor of overhauling the city’s civil forfeiture laws, which lets police seize property from people never charged with a crime. Law enforcement can then pocket all of the proceeds gained from forfeiture.

"The Civil Asset Forfeiture Amendment Act of 2014 stabs at the heart of what makes civil forfeiture so potentially corrupting: Letting cops and prosecutors keep what they forfeit creates 'at best, the appearance of a conflict of interest, and at worst, an unchecked incentive for slush funds,' remarked Councilman Tommy Wells, who authored the reform. If the bill becomes law, Washington, D.C. would join just eight states that ban policing for profit. Rather than padding law enforcement budgets, any revenue generated with civil forfeiture instead would be deposited into the general fund.

"Lawmakers in D.C. also approved closing a loophole that could otherwise undercut this reform. Under equitable sharing, local and state law enforcement can pocket up to 80 percent of forfeiture proceeds if they refer forfeiture cases to a federal agency, which then moves to forfeit the property under federal law. The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has routinely participated in this program, spending over $3.3 million in equitable sharing funds since 2008.

 "Equitable sharing undermines state efforts to curb forfeiture abuse. For instance, both Missouri and North Carolina ban law enforcement from keeping what they seize through civil forfeiture under their state laws. Yet equitable sharing has let police and prosecutors generate millions through this federal forfeiture program....

"Besides removing the temptation to police for profit, the District’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Amendment Act would also strengthen protections for property owners. For many cases, the reform would raise the amount of evidence the government would need to take property. For cars and other motor vehicles, the government would have to show 'clear and convincing evidence' that a vehicle was used in the commission of a crime. Likewise, the bill would create a presumption that cash under $1,000 is not forfeitable.... In another vital reform, the government could only take someone’s home if the owner was convicted of a crime first. This would prevent the District from turning into Philadelphia, where law enforcement has taken nearly 1,200 homes and other real estate properties through civil forfeiture."

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

North Dakota LP attains ballot access for first time

North Dakota LP attains ballot access for the first time in its history | Libertarian Party:

November 10, 2014 - "For the first time in party history, the North Dakota Libertarian Party has met the vote test to attain ballot access.

"In a non-presidential general election, the candidate for attorney general or secretary of state must get at least 5 percent of the vote for automatic ballot access.

"Roland Riemers, the LPND candidate for secretary of state, received 5.3 percent of the vote in the election...

"This is only the second time a minor party has met the vote test in North Dakota, the other time being the Reform Party in 1996, when Ross Perot was its presidential candidate, according to Ballot Access News.

"In addition, Jack Seaman, candidate for the U.S. House, received 5.8 percent, and the candidate for tax commissioner, Anthony Mangnall, got 6.4 percent. Both candidates were in three-way races with Democrats and Republicans."

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Okinawans reject planned new U.S. airbase

Close America’s Bases on Okinawa: Okinawans Again Say No | Cato @ Liberty - Doug Bandow:

November 26, 2014 - "The United States is over-burdened militarily and effectively bankrupt financially, but Washington is determined to preserve every base and deployment, no matter how archaic. Case in point: the many military facilities in Okinawa. No wonder the Okinawan people again voted against being conscripted as one of Washington’s most important military hubs.

"The United States held on to the island after World War II, finally returning the territory to Japan in 1972. Even now, the Pentagon controls roughly one-fifth of the land.... The bases remain because no one else in Japan wants to host American military forces.

"After a decade of negotiation, Tokyo and Washington agreed in 2006 to shift Futenma airbase to the less populated Henoko district of Nago city. Few Okinawans were satisfied.

"Three years later, the Democratic Party of Japan took power and promised to address Okinawans’ concerns. But the Obama administration proved to be as intransigent as its predecessor, thwarting the efforts of then-Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

"Tokyo has since attempted to implement the relocation agreement, despite strong local opposition. However, earlier this month Naha Mayor Takeshi Onaga defeated Kirokazu Nakaima on an anti-base platform.

"Onaga’s victory demonstrates the depth of popular feeling. Nakaima had flip-flopped in favor of the relocation plan in return for $2.6 billion in economic aid from Tokyo and enjoyed strong support from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"Onaga campaigned against Tokyo’s attempt to buy off islanders and won handily.

The Abe government promised to move forward with its relocation plan, but faces early elections on December 14. Although the Liberal Democrats are expected to win, they likely will possess a smaller majority and will have a correspondingly harder time overriding local opinion against the bases.

"'Okinawa has suffered a lot. Why do we have to suffer more?' Onaga asked before his election. There’s no good answer."

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Iowa police steal motorists' $100K poker winnings

Iowa Troopers Steal $100,000 in Poker Winnings From Two Players Driving Through the State - Hit & Run : - Jacob Sullum:

October 1, 2014 - "The Des Moines Register highlights an Iowa forfeiture case, the subject of a federal lawsuit filed this week, in which state troopers took $100,000 in winnings from two California poker players traveling through the state on their way back from a World Series of Poker event in Joliet, Illinois. The case illustrates several of the themes I discussed in a recent column explaining how cops became highway robbers....

"On the morning of April 15, 2013, Trooper Justin Simmons, who is part of an 'interdiction team' that looks for contraband and money to seize, pulled over William Davis and John Newmer­zhycky, who were traveling west on Interstate 80 in a rental car, a red Nissan Altima. Simmons later said he had received a vague tip from 'an Illinois law enforcement officer' to be on the lookout for a red car, but he did not know why.... So instead he claimed that he pulled Davis and Newmer­zhycky over because Newmer­zhycky, who was driving, failed to signal as he passed a black SUV. But as can be seen in the video recorded by Simmons' dashcam (starting around the 00:28 mark), Newmer­zhycky did signal....

"Simmons asks for permission to search the car. Newmerzhycky says no.... Refusing to take no for an answer, Simmons says Newmerzhycky seems nervous (who wouldn't be in these circumstances?), and he uses that observation as justification for calling Trooper Eric VanderWiel, a K-9 officer with a drug-detecting dog.... VanderWiel's dog supposedly alerted to the back of the car, at a point where the dog was conveniently hidden from the dashcam....

"The troopers found $85,000 inside Davis' locked briefcase, plus another $15,000 in Newmerzhycky's computer bag, where they also found a grinder with bits of marijuana in it, which resulted in a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia — the only Iowa charge brought against either man....

"Ultimately the state agreed to return $90,000 of the two men's money, a third of which was consumed by legal fees."

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Rand Paul slams 'absurd' arguments for ISIS war

Rand Paul Slams Obama's 'Absurd' Legal Argument For ISIS Fight - Business Insider:

November 28, 2014 - "Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) thinks the White House is pushing increasingly ridiculous legal arguments in the fight against the Islamic State group (also known as ISIS).

"In order to justify its airstrikes against the Islamic State jihadists, President Barack Obama's administration has cited authorizations for military force that date back to 2001 and 2002.

""Both of those I'd say would be absurd contentions. Basically, in 2001 we voted for an authorization that said the people who attacked us on 9/11, that we would go after them. Well, this [ISIS] group wasn't in existence then, and this group isn't even allied with Al Qaeda. This group is at odds with Al Qaeda. So I think it's absurd,' Paul told [Fox News] host Greta Van Susteren. 'It's absurd to try and say a linkage to a war started 15 years ago.'

"Earlier in the week, Paul unveiled what he views as a solution to the White House's legal problem: a formal declaration of war in Congress. His office said he plans to introduce it in December when the Senate returns to session.

'In his Fox News interview, Paul further said when he confronted Secretary of State John Kerry over the US' legal argument for its military strikes against the Islamic State, Kerry gave him another questionable justification: the inherent powers of the presidency defined by Article 2 of the Constitution....

"'He — which I think is absurd — he said, Well if [the 2001 authorization] doesn't do it, then the president has Article 2 authority to do whatever he wants. I disagree with that. And I think most constitutional scholars do. And I think most of the people in the American public do not think the president has unlimited power to go to war,' Paul recalled on Fox."

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Canadian wrongfully convicted of murder released after 12 years in prison

'Nightmare' over for man wrongfully convicted of 1st-degree murder decade ago - Winnipeg Free Press - Colin Perkel, Canadian Press:

"A man wrongfully convicted of first-degree murder more than a decade ago took his first anxious steps as a free man on Friday after the Crown withdrew the charge against him.

"The decision came a year after the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously decided Leighton Hay should get a new trial based on new hair evidence.

"As Hay and family members looked on, Superior Court Justice John McMahon apologized that it took so long for the system to get it right....

"In an interview, lawyer James Lockyer said he wasn't sure his client was able to process the implications of what had just occurred.

"'Leighton has been through a nightmare for all these years,' Lockyer said. 'This was a miscarriage of justice of the highest order.'

"As a teen with mental-health problems and a member of a visible minority, the lawyer said, Hay was 'vulnerable" and police rushed to judgment.

"'He was another black guy,' Lockyer said."

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Libertarian student group revived at Princeton U.

Princeton Libertarians group revived after yearlong absence - The Daily Princetonian - Linda Song:

November 24, 2014 - The Princeton Libertarians — a political group formerly known as the College Libertarians, which existed until 2013 — has recently been revived.

"Club president Andy Loo '16 said that he revived the club to promote intellectual discussion on the political philosophy of libertarianism, explaining that libertarianism is predicated on the idea of self-ownership.

"'All libertarian theory is based on one premise, which is the concept of self-ownership — each person owns his body and his property and the consequence of this is that no one should initiate physical force on another person either directly or indirectly,' Loo said. 'You should not force others nor should you accept others' attempts to force you.'

"Loo added that a libertarian philosophy states that the government’s role is to protect human rights from physical aggression. He added that the government can never violate these rights, and should never use force against anyone other than criminals. The government can use force against criminals, he said, because criminals themselves have violated human rights by using force against others.

"Loo noted that an estimated 20 students recently subscribed to the Princeton Libertarians email distribution after he sent out a recruitment email."

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Australian libertarian senator tables same sex marriage bill

Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm introduces same-sex marriage bill - Elise Scott and Rebekah Ison, Sydney Morning Herald:

November 26, 2014 - "Same-sex marriage is vital for three reasons: liberty, conscience and state power.

"That's the argument of Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm who on Wednesday introduced a private senator's bill to allow same-sex marriage.

"The bill would allow any Australian to marry regardless of 'sex, sexual orientation and gender identity'.

"However, it also gives non-government religious and civil celebrants the right to refuse to marry same-sex couples."

"The libertarian doesn't believe government should interfere in individual choices and freedoms, and also supports the medical use of marijuana and assisted suicide.

"Banning same-sex marriage diminishes people's ability to make life plans and marriage equality keeps state power in check, he says.

"'The state is a wonderful servant but a terrible master,' he says. 'The state cannot discriminate, and if it does so, that is an abuse of power.'

"He claims Prime Minister Tony Abbott counselled him against introducing the bill because it would cause more trouble for the government....

"Mr. Abbott promised pre-election to empower his party room to decide whether the coalition has a conscience vote on same-sex marriage, and Senator Leyonhjelm believes there is enough support for that to occur."

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Man who knocked LP off Ohio ballot countersues

Ohio voter seeks sanctions for Libertarian Earl - Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press:

November 24, 2014 - "An Ohio voter who was sued over his role in disqualifying a Libertarian gubernatorial candidate from fall ballots wants the politician, his lawyers and party leaders sanctioned for taking their case too far.

"Greg Felsoci (fehl-SOH'-see) filed his request against candidate Charlie Earl in federal court Monday.

"He contends Earl, two Libertarian Party leaders and their two lawyers insist on pursuing their claims against Felsoci despite a lack of evidence and even after the election season has ended. Felsoci says that's needlessly increasing his legal bills.

"Earl's lawyer, Mark Brown, said they'll respond through the court.

"Earl's third-party candidacy against Republican Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sik) has been politically charged. Testimony revealed Democrats worked to qualify Earl for the ballot, while a GOP consultant underwrote the successful challenge to Earl's petitions."

Monday, November 24, 2014

The non-impact of marijuana legalization

Cato Paper Highlights Marijuana Legalization's Ho-Hum Impact in Colorado - Jacob Sullum, Reason Hit & Run blog:

October 27, 2014 - "In a new Cato Institute working paper, Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron finds little evidence that the loosening of marijuana prohibition in Colorado has had a noticeable impact on adult or underage cannabis consumption, traffic accidents, violent crime, drug treatment admissions, emergency room visits, drug-related deaths, educational outcomes, or economic growth. Miron, Cato's director of economic studies, considers trends in these indicators before and after 2009, when the medical marijuana industry took off due to regulatory developments that made it more secure, and 2012, when voters approved Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use. Generally speaking, there is no significant change in these trends after those policy shifts....

"In this case, data are available for the months following the beginning of legal recreational sales last January. Looking at murders, aggravated assaults, robberies, and burglaries, Miron concludes that "no measure indicates a significant change in crime after medical marijuana commercialization, legalization adoption, or full legalization implementation....

"Miron also looks at several educational outcomes: school suspensions, standardized test scores, and high school graduation and dropout rates. Changes in marijuana policy do not seem to have had an impact on these outcomes, with the exception of drug-related suspensions, which rose after the commercialization of medical marijuana in 2009 and again after the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012, even as total suspensions declined.

"Miron not only finds little evidence of negative fallout from changes in Colorado's marijuana policies; he also finds little evidence that legalization has had a positive impact on the measures he considers. It does not seem to have slowed or accelerated economic growth, for example, or to have increased or reduced traffic accidents. Looking at "fatal car crashes, fatalities in car crashes, alcohol-related fatal car crashes, and fatalities in alcohol-related car crashes," Miron finds that "no measure exhibits a substantial change at the time of marijuana policy changes'."

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Libertarians to invade New Hampshire in 2016

The Libertarians planning to take over New Hampshire - Telegraph - David Millward:

November 20, 2014 - "The Free State Project was founded more than a decade ago by Jason Sorens, who was studying for a doctorate at Yale at the time.

"His dream was to trigger a mass migration of 20,000 libertarians to a state with a small population by early 2016. The idea was to follow the example of the Mormon migration to Utah in the mid 19th century.

"A number of states including Maine,Wyoming, Vermont and Alaska were considered as candidates for the movement before supporters decided on New Hampshire.

"The granite state, which has no sales tax or income tax - though property taxes are high - was the overwhelming choice....

"'We want to create a society where the maximum role of Government is the protection of life, liberty and property,' Mr Freeman told the Telegraph....

"But not everyone in New Hampshire is welcoming the libertarians with open arms.

"Cynthia Chase, a Democrat member of the state legislature, described them as 'the biggest threat the state is facing today' and 'wolves in sheep’s clothing'.

"In a progressive blog she wrote: 'There is, legally, nothing we can do to prevent them from moving here to take over the state, which is their openly stated goal....

"'What we can do is to make the environment here so unwelcoming that some will choose not to come, and some may actually leave.'"

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

GOP didn't 'win the midtems'; Democrats lost them

The Midterms’ Real Winner? Independents and Fiscal Sanity (Maybe) | TIME - Nick Gillespie:

November 6, 2014 - "Republicans mistake the meaning of the midterms at their own peril. These elections were a particularly frank repudiation of Barack Obama and the past six years of failed stimulus, disastrous foreign policy, and rotten economic news. Even the President’s historic health-care reform remains a negative with voters. But if the GOP thinks it has a mandate to return to the equally unpopular bailout economics and social conservatism of the George W. Bush years, it too will be sent packing as early as the next election....

"As can be gleaned from some of the midterms’ other results, voters want a government that keeps its nose out of our private lives and morality. Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. all legalized recreational pot and staunchly anti-abortion 'fetal personhood' initiatives were voted down in the two states that put the matter before voters (support for Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that guarantees a woman’s right to a first-trimester abortion, has remained above 50% for decades). Gallup finds fewer and fewer Americans think the state should 'promote traditional values.' Currently, 48% agree with that notion, while an equal number says 'the government should not favor any particular set of values.'

"At the same time, twice as many Americans think there’s too much regulation of business and the economy as believe there’s too little and 59% think the government has 'too much power.' That’s up 17 percentage points from a decade ago.

"If the Republicans are actually listening to the voters, they would do well to drop the social issues that they have harped on in the past and focus instead on reducing the size, scope and spending of government. Unfortunately, there’s every reason to believe that the new GOP Congress will be ready to increase spending on the military and old-age entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare. Headlines like 'Election Outcome Is Good News for Defense Industry' pretty much tell you all you need to know about Republican attitudes toward the former."

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Obama, immigration, and the rule of law

Obama, immigration, and the rule of law [updated with additional material on precedents for Obama's action] - Washington Post - Ilya Somin, Volokh Conspiracy:

November 20, 2014 - "Opponents of President Obama’s recently announced plan to defer the deportation of up to 5 million undocumented immigrants argue that it undermines the rule of law. After all, they contend, the president is required to enforce federal law as written, not pick and choose which violators to go after and which to exempt.

"But, in reality, all modern presidents inevitably make policy choices about which violations of federal law to prosecute. Obama’s decision to defer deportation is in line with those of past presidents, and well within the scope of his authority.

"To the extent that the rule of law is in jeopardy here, it is because the scope of federal law has grown so vast that no administration can target more than a small percentage of violations, thereby unavoidably giving the president broad discretion. Moreover, at least under the original meaning of the Constitution, the legality of the immigration laws that Obama has chosen not to enforce in some cases is itself suspect.

"Because of the enormous scope [of] federal criminal law, presidents routinely exercise extraordinarily broad discretion in deciding which violations to prosecute. Far more violators are systematically ignored than punished. To take just one of many examples, for decades federal law enforcement officials have almost never prosecuted the possession and use of marijuana on college campuses, even though such possession is clearly forbidden by the Controlled Substances Act. By doing so, they have let many millions of federal criminals of the hook, including the last three presidents of the United States – far more than are exempted from deportation by Obama’s policy.

"Article II of the Constitution states that the president must 'take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.' But that does not mean that the president has an absolute duty to prosecute all violations of federal law, or that he cannot choose which ones to pursue based on policy considerations. If it did, virtually every president in the last century or more would be in violation."

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