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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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Libertarian highlights from the 2014 midterms

Libertarian Election Results 2014 - J. Wilson, A Libertarian Future:

November 5, 2014 - "Libertarian candidates may not have won very many elections this year, but we’ve had some high percentage victories. In some states, that means we’ll get the ballot access we deserve for the next election. Guaranteed ballot access is important because it’s time and money that we won’t have to waste next time. Libertarians will be able to spend more time and money campaigning, and less time getting arbitrary signature counts.

"These high percentage Libertarian election results also send a clear message to both of the two parties. Voting Libertarian tells them they won’t receive our consent, and will have to work harder if they ever want our votes. If they don’t, we’re more than happy to keep voting Libertarian.

"These Libertarian election results show just how many Americans are fed up with the two party system and want a third major party.
  • Top Voter Percentage: Randall Lord from Louisiana’s 4th Congressional District with 26.56% (55,224 votes) 
  • Runner Up: Lucas Overby from Florida’s 13th Congressional District with 24.75% (55,273 votes) 
  • Top Vote Total: Adrian Wyllie for Governor of Florida with 222,565 votes (3.75% of the vote) 
  • Runner Up: Bill Wohlsifer for Attorney General of Florida with 168,946 votes (2.9% of the vote) 
"Ballot Access: Hawaii, for winning more than 4% of the vote in all State Senate races. Maryland, for winning more than 1% in the Governor’s Race. Mississippi, for winning more than 2% of the vote in House elections. North Dakota, for winning more than 5% of the vote in a Statewide Race. Utah, for winning more than 2% in a Statewide office. Wisconsin, for receiving more than 1% of the vote in a Statewide Race. Wyoming, for winning more than 2% of the vote in the House election....

"More to come!"

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rand Paul helps kill fraudulent ‘USA Freedom Act’

The ‘USA Freedom Act’ Is A Fraud by Justin Raimondo --

November 17, 2014 - "The 'Freedom Act' is quite free with its Orwellian redefinition of common words to mean the exact opposite of what they have traditionally meant: for example, the bill defines a 'selector' in such a way as to permit NSA to report a dragnet order collecting everyone’s VISA bill as a single order targeting specific alleged terrorist outfits – when, in the real world, it would legalize surveillance of over 300 million US citizens....

"The bill actually weakens these existing minimization procedures: instead of encoding them in law it hands the job of devising 'privacy procedures' to the Attorney General, rather than the FISA court. What this means is that, under the proposed legislation, if the court found the NSA or other government agency spying on an individual (and his or her network of friends and acquaintances) because they engaged in constitutionally protected speech, the court would no longer have the authority to demand the destruction of those records. This is a giant step backward...

"Some civil liberties groups, like the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argue that the present bill is 'a first step,' and is better than nothing. This is nonsense: this bill is worse than nothing.... If this bill passes, the Washington insiders will win out, and the Surveillance State will remain intact – arguably even more powerful than before."

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Libertarian Champion Rand Paul Helped Kill NSA Reform Bill - Matt Sledge & Ryan Grim, Huffington Post:

November 18, 2014 - "The USA Freedom Act, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), received 58 votes on Tuesday night -- two short of cloture, the magic number in the Senate that allows a bill to proceed to an actual roll call.... Paul said he voted against the bill because it would have extended the Patriot Act provision that allows the NSA to search Americans’ phone records. He has consistently opposed the Patriot Act, passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Canada's emergent libertarian movement (video)

Canada's Emergent Libertarian Movement -

"'For a couple of years now, Canada has had a freer economy than the United States.'

"That's Martin Masse, one of the leading figures in the Canadian libertarian movement. Back in the late 90s, when libertarianism was a thoroughly marginal ideology in the country, Masse started Le Quebecois Libre, an online gathering place for allies to the cause.

"Things have since changed. Free market ideas now inform Canadian public policy to a degree that's probably surprising to the average American.

"Reason TV recently sat down with Masse to find out about this transformation and the problems with Canada's centralized health care system."
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Politico: Rand Paul presidential run 95% certain

Rand Paul gathering leaves little doubt on ‘16 - Mike Allen - POLITICO:

November 14, 2014 - "Over steak and ravioli at The Liaison hotel on Capitol Hill on Wednesday night, about 50 aides, advisers and supporters of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) got pumped up for a presidential campaign they now believe is a 95 percent certainty. The senator introduced his wife, Kelley, and we’re told a final check-in with his family is his last hoop before settling on a presidential campaign. Paul is still saying he’ll decide this spring, with April the target for a fly-around announcement in the early states.

"Doug Stafford, RAND PAC executive director and architect of the national campaign, was emcee. Stafford sketched a mix of new ideas, blended with best practices from past successful campaigns. Planning is so far advanced that top aides are discussing a counterpart to George W. Bush’s Mavericks/Pioneers/Rangers program for bundlers and fundraisers. Paul gave optimistic remarks that left little doubt about his intentions. Expect a spurt of hiring after the first of the year.

"The campaign-to-be combines family loyalists who served Rand’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), plus new talent, including tech wizards and social-media Svengalis. Look for a Senate-reelection announcement by Paul as soon as next week, after he returns to Kentucky from the Hill. He has lined up endorsements from state Republican leaders, and now will circle back to them. The campaigns will run in tandem. If Paul wins the GOP nomination, he might drop the Senate race."

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Remembering Leonard P. Liggio (1933–2014)

RIP: Leonard P. Liggio (1933–2014) « Blog - Sheldon Richman:

October 18, 2014 - "I lost one of my favorite teachers this week, as did so many other libertarians, not to mention the freedom movement as a whole. Leonard P. Liggio, 81, died after a period of declining health....

"Since the early 1950s, before he had reached the age of 20, Leonard was a scholar and activist for individual liberty, the free-market order, and the voluntary network of social cooperation we call civil society. He was in Youth for Taft in 1952, when the noninterventionist Sen. Robert Taft unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination....

"In his long career, Leonard was associated with the Volker Fund (a pioneering classical-liberal organization), the Institute for Humane Studies, Liberty Fund, the Cato Institute, and finally, the Atlas Network. He was also on the faculty of several universities, including George Mason Law School, after doing graduate work in law and history at various institutions.

"Leonard studied with Ludwig von Mises and a long list of eminent historians. He knew the founders of the modern libertarian movement: F.A. Harper, Leonard Read, Pierre Goodrich, Ayn Rand, and more. He was an early member of the Mont Pelerin Society, founded by F.A. Hayek, and eventually president of the organization. As a young man he became close friends with Murray Rothbard, Ralph Raico, George Reisman, Ronald Hamowy, Robert Hessen, and others who comprised their Circle Bastiat. He literally was present at the creation of the movement and helped to make it what it would become."

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Rand Paul may seek Libertarian nomination, too

Rand Paul Could Win Libertarian Nomination, Too - US News & World Report - Steven Nelson:

October 27, 2014 - "Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., may follow in his father’s footsteps not only by seeking the Republican presidential nomination, but also by receiving the Libertarian Party’s ballot line....

"Paul is unlikely to directly seek the third party’s support, but could win it anyhow through the work of eager activists like those who worked the campaigns of his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a GOP presidential contender in 2008 and 2012 and the Libertarian nominee in 1988.

"A co-nomination from one of the nation’s most significant minor parties could help Paul - if he’s the Republican nominee - avoid losing hundreds of thousands of votes to an ideological ally. In some states, his name would appear twice on ballots.

"If Paul is nominated by both the Republican and Libertarian parties, it could also unleash electoral scenarios unseen in decades, such as the negotiation of a fusion slate of electors. Libertarians could, theoretically, nominate their own vice presidential candidate.

"Though the Libertarian Party’s Orlando, Florida, nominating convention isn’t until May 2016, Libertarian National Committee Executive Director Wes Benedict foresees a fight.

"'If Rand Paul wins the Republican nomination, I'd expect a big fight within the [party] over whether or not we should run our own candidate,' Benedict says. 'It wouldn't just be a discussion.'

"Libertarian Party chairman Nicholas Sarwark, officially neutral on the matter, says 'there is a possibility that the delegates in Orlando would nominate Sen. Paul and if they were to do so, I'd work hard to support their choice'."

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Amash says Americans becoming more libertarian

Rep. Justin Amash Says Americans Are Becoming More Libertarian—And Congress Will Too. - - Robby Soave:

October 29, 2014 - "Is the libertarian message winning?... Congressman Justin Amash certainly thinks so—even if Washington, D.C. isn't listening yet.

"The libertarian Republican, who hails from a right-leaning district in western Michigan, ... already passed the real test: a significant primary challenge from a well-funded opponent backed by neoconservative and corporatist critics of Amash's views. The challenger, Brian Ellis, stooped as low as he could go, releasing an ad that accused Amash of being 'al-Qaida's best friend in Congress' due to the representative's opposition to NSA spying and unauthorized wars.

"The ad backfired. District voters preferred Amash's brand of skeptical anti-government conservatism to Ellis's Bush-era demagoguery.

"'It felt great to get a big win,' Amash told Reason in an interview. 'The people of the district came out and said they like what I am offering, which is independent conservative representation, libertarian representation… My challenger was offering run of the mill, establishment big government Republicanism. People are tired of that.'

"Amash is optimistic that what's true for his district is true for the country at large. A growing cross-partisan swath of the electorate is concerned about issues near and dear to the hearts of libertarians, including police brutality, spying, and drone warfare....

"'Congress is delayed by five or 10 years,' said Amash. 'But I'm hopeful some of that will start to change. The public is more libertarian, the public is saying we want people who are going to be independent and not bow to leadership in either of the major parties.'"

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Asset forfeiture: libertarian issue mainstreamed

Asset forfeiture, drug legalization, and the mainstreaming of libertarian ideas - The Washington Post - Ilya Somin, The Volokh Conspiracy:

October 27, 2014 - "Sunday’s New York Times article on the dangers of asset forfeiture abuse follows a major multi-part series on the same subject in the Washington Post. Last year, the liberal New Yorker also published a major article on the issue.

"As both the Times and the Post emphasize, the present asset forfeiture system in many states allows law enforcement agencies to seize property even if the owner has not been convicted or even charged with any property. Often, the police then get to keep the proceeds from the seizures for themselves, creating a perverse incentive to seize as much property as possible, regardless of the guilt or innocence of the owners. In many cases, as the Post notes, owners have little or no opportunity to reclaim their property because the procedures are involved are difficult and time-consuming, and often too expensive for poor and lower-middle class property owners to afford.

"As in the case of drug legalization, asset forfeiture reform is a cause long-championed by libertarians, which has recently hit the mainstream. The Institute for Justice, a prominent libertarian public interest law firm, has highlighted the issue for years, ans is currently spearheading both legal and legislative challenges to the system. Similarly, libertarians have for decades advocated abolishing the War on Drugs.... only recently has this idea begun to attract widespread mainstream public and elite support.

"Obviously, the two issues are integrally linked. As the Post series notes, the War on Drugs is one of the leading causes of asset forfeiture abuse. The Post article correctly emphasizes that much of the seized property is taken as a result of law enforcement operations undertaken as part of the War on Drugs. The threat that the War on Drugs poses to the property rights of innocent people is yet another reason for conservatives, among others, to rethink their traditional support for it."

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The GOP's limited ability to win Libertarian voters

The GOP's Limited Ability to Win Over Those Who Vote Libertarian | National Review Online - Jim Geraghty:

November 6, 2014 - "The 'Libertarians, without a candidate of their own, would otherwise vote for Republicans' theory is not so sound, and it’s not a factor Republicans should base a strategy on.

"Those willing to vote Libertarian — as opposed to those who describe themselves as libertarian or having some libertarian views — are usually deeply attached to policy positions that are still pretty unpopular to Republicans as a whole — oftentimes (though not always) a quasi-isolationist or outright isolationist foreign policy, drug legalization (often well beyond marijuana), and gay marriage. Many (but not all) Libertarians oppose restrictions on abortion, habitually offer long diatribes about the Federal Reserve and the Gold Standard....

"What’s more, a lot of self-identified Libertarians see their policy differences with Republicans as key to their political identity; otherwise, they would be Republicans. To many Libertarians, the difference with Republicans is the point.

"Nor is there much evidence that Libertarians fear that their vote will elect a Democrat. For all of of the alleged or potential flaws of voters who choose Libertarian-party candidates, they’re usually not stupid. They know their guy is in the single digits in the polls. They’re not voting in order to vote for a winner, and hearing Republicans complain that the Libertarian cost them the victory doesn’t make them feel guilty or a sense of regret. They may feel a bit of vindication in that result."

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The libertarian economics of CrossFit

How CrossFit is an experiment in libertarian economics - Liam Mannix, BRW:

November 10, 2014 - "In CrossFit’s laissez-faire free market, there are no rules, the strong prosper, the meek do not inherit anything and are destroyed. The fitness craze, booming in Australia and around the world, is American founder Greg ­Glassman’s grand experiment in lib­ertarian economics.

"The barriers to entry are absurdly low. Gaining a CrossFit licence costs as little as $500 a year, despite membership fees costing up to $60 a week. Training courses cost around $US1000 ($1158). The gyms themselves – CrossFitters prefer the utilitarian term 'box' – don’t require expensive equipment such as treadmills or cross-trainers.

"'You set it up however you want, you run it however you want, you teach whatever you want – carte blanche,' says CrossFit Brisbane co-owner Wendy Swift. 'The free-market model is such that they believe the good coaches, good gyms will thrive, and the poor coaches, poor gyms will go out of business. ­Simple as that.'

"Glassman is a scholar of economists Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek and a self-described 'rabid libertarian'. The empire he has built is largely open-source – workouts are released daily on the web by CrossFit’s central website, and user-made and customised workouts are contributed and shared online by CrossFit’s huge following."

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Some bright spots for Libertarians in 2014 vote

A Few Bright Spots for Libertarians in Yesterday’s Election Results - Austin Cassidy, Uncovered Politics:

November 5, 2014 - "The Libertarian Party didn’t fare particularly well in most races yesterday. Rather than being a breakout year for alternative parties, voters made this a big wave year for Republicans.... In some key races we were watching, support for Libertarians failed to fully materialize....

"Libertarian Chad Monnin spent hundreds of thousands of his own dollars to mount a bid for Ohio State House, but wound up a distant third place with only about 8% of the vote. In South Carolina, Jeremy Walters won only 20% in a race against a Republican for the legislature. He had previously won 47% in a one-on-one contest against an independent in 2012.

"But in Washington state, several Libertarians posted strong one-on-one showings of 30% or more in state house races.

"The party’s candidate, John Monds, won 31% in a one-on-one statewide race for Georgia Public Service Commission.  Steve Golter captured over 40% in a race for a seat on the Colorado University Board of Regents.  Both were partisan elections and both candidates were running as Libertarians.

"Michael Knebel the party’s candidate for Nebraska Treasurer appears to have just broken the 5% mark, meaning that the LP will retain ballot access in Nebraska.

"Adrian Wyllie won more than 220,000 votes in a hotly contested governor’s race, setting a new Florida record for the LP in a statewide contest.

"In the race for Alaska state house district 19, Libertarian Cean Stevens won about 37% of the vote.  This looks like it may be the party’s high water mark for state legislative candidates in 2014."

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Voluntaryist, the libertarian superhero (interview)

Voluntaryist Is the World's First Libertarian Superhero - Mike Spies, Vocativ:

November 7, 2014 - "Meet the Voluntaryists - the avengers of the libertarian movement.

"They’re the stars of a comic book series that follows a superhero named Voluntaryist and his brethren who defend libertarian values from the prying hands of the U.S. government. Created two years ago by Jamie Roocke-Sherman, a 27-year-old tutor and cosplay lover from Miami, the series dramatizes the libertarian ethos that people cannot be coerced by authority....

"The series’ second installment, which was published on Election Day and is available for free on Roocke-Sherman’s website, finds our heroes fighting off 'statist zombies' - citizens who have been turned into the walking dead by a nefarious government. Vocativ spoke with Roocke-Sherman to better understand the series’ political overtones.

How long have you been a libertarian? 
"When I was 20, two things happened: I was in my history class, and we learned how 70,000 people were forcibly sterilized through an American eugenics program. I’d never heard that before, and I thought, What else haven’t I learned? The research led me to look at things anew: It made me realize this information is not being put out there intentionally. Then I began to do research into the economic side of things."

How did the comic series start?
"...I’d always been interested in comics and cosplay — dressing up for movies like Star Wars. I wondered what it would be like to incorporate that hobby into liberty. I thought the concept could be turned into a movie. But doing a movie is pretty expensive. So I thought a comic would work."

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Johnson declares for President in 2016

Governor Gary Johnson will run for President as a Libertarian in 2016 - Jacksonville Political Buzz |

November 4, 2014 - "Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is planning to run for President in 2016 as a Libertarian. He shared his intentions during an interview on 'The Steve Malzberg Show' on Newsmax TV.

"'The whole election is a big yawn," Johnson said of today's midterm elections. 'Who cares who wins, because nothing's really going to change? It's like a debate between Coke and Pepsi. They're debating over which one tastes better.'

"The host asked Johnson about the possibility of a Rand Paul presidential campaign. After expressing his respect for Senator Paul, Johnson highlighted the many social issues on which the Libertarian Party and Paul were at strong odds.

"'The only way [we win] is if Libertarians get into the presidential debates,' Johnson noted when pressed on the idea of a Libertarian actually winning the presidency. Johnson polled 1.3 million votes as the Libertarian candidate in the 2012 election, capturing about 1% of the vote nationwide. It was the party's best popular vote showing ever and best percentage showing since 1980.

"'People are clamoring to hear good ideas as opposed to the lesser of two evils,' he continued. 'Either the Democrats are going to win or the Republicans are going to win, but the losers are all of us out here as citizens that really do want meaningful change, and none of it's happening. There's no dialogue regarding meaningful change.'"

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Did Haugh 'spoil' election for Democrat in NC?

Analysis: Did Libertarian votes hurt Kay Hagan? - Meghan Molleruss, WFMY:

November 5, 2014 - "In the day following Democratic incumbent senator Kay Hagan's loss to Republican challenger Thom Tillis, voters speculate what role Libertarian candidate Sean Haugh played in the end result.

"North Carolina House speaker Tillis clinched victory by two percent over incumbent Hagan, who was favored in the majority of polls leading into Tuesday's Mid-Term Elections. Final numbers indicated Tillis received 49 percent of the vote. Hagan received 47 percent. Haugh received four percent -- a historically large number for a third party in Mid-Term Elections.

"Past elections and party platforms suggest Libertarian candidates tend to take away votes from Republican candidates. But, the trend might have been the opposite in this Senate race, according to a political poll.

"Elon Poll director Kenneth Fernandez, Ph.D. said, 'We (Elon Poll) did an online survey, and we found that basically two-thirds of the votes were being stolen from Hagan'....

"He added, 'I think this is a tough, tough decision for Hagan to think -- could I have done something different to woo those Sean Haugh voters or maybe have tacked Tillis to woo some independents? Tillis did much, much better with independents.'"

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Free Staters win 15+ seats in NH statehouse

Free Staters Win 'At Least' 15 Seats in NH State House; Libertarian Leaners Win Many More - Hit & Run : -J.D. Tuccille:

"According to Ian Freeman at Free Keene, at least 15 explicit Free Staters — a record number — will be ushered in as lawmakers in the 424-seat body. Many more candidates from both major parties endorsed by the libertarian-friendly New Hampshire Liberty Alliance will also take seats.

"Writes Freeman:
According to a handy list compiled by “Free State Project Watch“, a project by pro-state group “Granite State Progress“, at least 15 people they alleged to be Free State Project participants have won the 2014 general election!!!

This is huge news. The previous counts of Free Staters in the state house were 12 in 2010, 11 in 2012, and now at least 15! It’s impressive that so many have won elected office already and the official move for the Free State Project has yet to even happen. (The FSP move doesn’t officially start until we reach 20,000 participants and we’re currently over 16,000.)
"Freeman adds, 'the majority of New Hampshire Liberty Alliance-endorsed candidates won tonight as well! (NHLA-endorsed candidates vote for liberty more often than not – they aren’t necessarily principled libertarians.)'

"About the latter group, Dick Desrosiers, Chairman of the Hampton Democratic Committee, complained last month that they dominate the New Hampshire legislature and 'introduce and pass legislation to remove any and all government impacts on liberty and property rights and diminished the importance of protecting and promoting the common good.'"

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Oregon, Alaska, D.C. vote to legalize marijuana

Oregon and Alaska voters approve legalise recreational marijuana laws | US news | - Chris McGreal, The Guardian:

November 5, 2014 - "Oregon and Alaska have become the latest US states to legalise recreational marijuana in ballots hailed by supporters as evidence that a national change of policy is underway.

"Voters in both states approved laws which will permit residents over 21 to grow their own marijuana and establish a legal retail trade.

"Anthony Johnson, the chief sponsor of Oregon’s Measure 91, compared the victory for the legal sale and use of cannabis to the recent end of the state’s ban on gay marriage, saying that voters had struck a blow for freedom and equality.

"'We have ended a painful, discriminatory, harmful policy,' he said.

"In Oregon, with 87% of the ballot counted, support for Measure 91 had a decisive lead with 54.8% of votes. In Alaska, the pro-legalisation campaign had 52% of the vote with all precincts reporting but absentee ballots still to be counted.

"There were victories for more liberal marijuana laws elsewhere too. In Washington DC, voters approved possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use – although that move could be blocked by the US Congress, which holds significant legislative authority over the city."

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Scientists, politicians at odds over quarantines

October 27, 2014 - "State leaders in New York and New Jersey are at odds with scientists over Ebola as the states' governors back 21-day quarantines for medical workers returning from West Africa, while the nation's top infectious-disease expert warns that such restrictions are unnecessary and could discourage volunteers from aiding disease-ravaged countries.

"The two governors late Sunday night emphasized separately that their policies permit home confinement for medical workers who have had contact with Ebola patients if the workers show no symptoms.

"The emphasis on home confinement was at odds with the widely criticized treatment of a nurse returning from Sierra Leone who was forcibly quarantined is a New Jersey hospital isolation unit even though she said had no symptoms and tested negative for Ebola....

"For much of the weekend, the governors had been under fire from members of the medical community and the White House.

"'The best way to protect us is to stop the epidemic in Africa, and we need those health care workers, so we do not want to put them in a position where it makes it very, very uncomfortable for them to even volunteer to go,' said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases....

"Fauci made the rounds on five major Sunday morning talk shows to argue that policy should be driven by science -- and that science says people with the virus are not contagious until symptoms appear. And even then, infection requires direct contact with bodily fluids.

"He said that close monitoring of medical workers for symptoms is sufficient, and warned that forcibly separating them from others, or quarantining them, for three weeks could cripple the fight against the outbreak in West Africa -- an argument that humanitarian medical organizations have also made.

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

No crimes, but IRS seizes bank accounts anyway

Law Lets I.R.S. Seize Accounts on Suspicion, No Crime Required - Sheila Dewan, New York Times:

October 25, 2014 - "For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.

"The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report....

"Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up....

"On Thursday, in response to questions from The New York Times, the I.R.S. announced that it would curtail the practice, focusing instead on cases where the money is believed to have been acquired illegally or seizure is deemed justified by 'exceptional circumstances'....

"But the Institute for Justice, a Washington-based public interest law firm that is seeking to reform civil forfeiture practices, analyzed structuring data from the I.R.S., which made 639 seizures in 2012, up from 114 in 2005. Only one in five was prosecuted as a criminal structuring case.

"The practice has swept up dairy farmers in Maryland, an Army sergeant in Virginia saving for his children’s college education and Ms. Hinders, 67, who has borrowed money, strained her credit cards and taken out a second mortgage to keep her restaurant going.

"Their money was seized under an increasingly controversial area of law known as civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcement agents to take property they suspect of being tied to crime even if no criminal charges are filed. Law enforcement agencies get to keep a share of whatever is forfeited."

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Vote Libertarian to avoid 'bipartisan' disasters

Vote Libertarian to Stop the Next 'Bipartisan' Disaster - - Robert Sarvis:

October 28, 2014 - "Pick a problem. Any problem. There's a pretty good chance both major parties —Republicans and Democrats — share responsibility for it.

"The $17 trillion national debt? Thank bipartisan over-spending. Republicans love to highlight the explosion of the debt under Democrat Barack Obama, but they conveniently forget about the doubling of the debt under Republican George W. Bush.

"The mass surveillance state? Thank bipartisanship. The so-called "Patriot" Act infamously sailed through the U.S. Senate in 2001 with only one dissenting vote....

"Our unconstitutional, interventionist foreign policy? Thank both parties. Barack Obama is now the fourth consecutive president—two from each party—to initiate new bombing campaigns in Iraq. Back when Republicans were in power, then-Senator Barack Obama said, "The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." His bombing campaigns against Libya and ISIS tell a different story.

"The failed drug war? The highest incarceration rate in the world? Militarized police? Abusive asset-forfeiture regimes? Republicans and Democrats have staunchly supported all of it....

"George Carlin was right: 'Bipartisanship usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.'"

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