Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Revenant shows need for property rights

Misdeeds in The Revenant spurred by absence of property rights, not capitalism gone wild | Fraser Institute - Jonathan Fortier:

January 28, 2016 - "It is the season for American film awards, and the glitterati are all abuzz with adoration for The Revenant, which won a Golden Globe for best picture and is nominated for 12 Oscars. As usual, Hollywood’s stars are using their work as a platform to bash capitalism. The Revenant director Alejandro Iñárritu stated in a Guardian interview that his film attempts to portray the roots of capitalism, about the single-minded attempt to profit from the cutting of trees and the killing of animals and exploitation of the natives. Still further, according to Iñárritu, the early 19th century frontier life is the foundation for many of the ills of contemporary capitalism: 'This is the seed, for me, of the capitalism that we live in now: completely inconsiderate of any consequences for nature.'

"Leonardo DiCaprio (who stars as the film’s protagonist) ... used the stage to decry corporate exploitation of native people. Ravina Bains, associate director of aboriginal policy at the Fraser Institute, has written ... about DiCaprio’s comments, and suggests that we might more profitably begin by considering the [lack] of private property rights [for] native populations, rather than corporate exploitation.

"Capitalism is an economic system that depends on institutional arrangements, namely the rule of law and private property rights (there are others, but those two are foundational). Early 19th century America had neither of these things in the way we think of them now. The frontiersmen preceded the rule of law (or its enforcement), and it was unclear precisely how to think of Native American property rights. The vast tracts of land were thought of as limitless resources owned by no one....

"Indeed, the absence of private property rights ... creates a 'tragedy of the commons' scenario where no one is motivated to protect resources and everyone is motivated to get as much as they can before others. This is quite graphically portrayed in The Revenant, with groups of trappers sitting amongst piles and piles of bloody beaver hides... [I]t was the absence of property rights and a lack of respect for the native’s property rights (not 'capitalism') that resulted in the massive overkilling. (Similarly, the burning of the Amazon rainforest for cattle ranching and farming can be better explained by the absence of private property rights than a sort of 'capitalism gone wild.')

"One of the fictions about Native American Indians is that they lived peaceful lives with no notion of private property before the arrival of western Europeans. But war amongst native tribes was common, and we know that the supposed collectivism was a myth. Native Americans had personal property rights (in artifacts such as weapons and clothing) and land-use rights (for farming, hunting and fishing) even if those rights were sometimes seasonal and based on a nomadic lifestyle.

"Native people and those struggling in poverty in the developing world are done a great disservice by DiCaprio, Ińárritu and others who trot out the tired (and wrong) clichés about capitalism. For, as Richard Pipes, Thomas Bethell and Hernando de Soto (amongst many others) have argued, it is capitalism (and its attendant institutions of private property and the rule of law) that can best improve their lives."

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Ethanol mandate fuels Iowa campaign

Presidential Candidates Rushing to Support Ethanol Subsidies Ahead of Iowa Caucus - - John Stossel:

January 27, 2016 - "Cars run on fuel. Politicians run on votes, and they'll do almost anything to get them. That includes supporting mandates that force us to use ethanol, a fuel made from corn that Iowa farmers grow.

"They support ethanol because Iowa is the first state to vote on presidential candidates. Candidates want to look strong at the start of the race, so every four years they become enthusiastic ethanol supporters. Even those who claim they believe in markets pander to Iowa's special interests.

"Donald Trump, who doesn't seem to have a consistent political philosophy aside from bashing critics and foreigners, now has joined the ethanol-praising club. In fact, Trump says regulators should force gas stations to increase the amount of ethanol they use. It's a convenient way to attack his Iowa rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., who courageously says the mandate should be phased out.

"Cruz is right. Legally mandating that a certain percentage of fuel used be ethanol is a bad idea for several reasons:

"First, mandating ethanol means more land must be plowed to grow corn for fuel. The Department of Energy estimates that if corn ethanol replaced gasoline completely, we'd need to turn all cropland to corn — plus 20 percent more land on top of that.

"Second, requiring ethanol fuel raises the price of corn — bad news for consumers who must pay more for food.

"Third, although ethanol's supporters claim burning corn is "better for the environment," that's not true. Once you add the emissions from growing, shipping and processing the corn, ethanol creates more pollution than oil. Environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Clean Air Task Force now oppose its use.

"Finally, because corn is grown in America, promoters said ethanol would make us more energy independent. Even if the 'independence' argument were valid, fracking accomplishes much more.

"But in Iowa Trump says, 'Ethanol is terrific'....  Ben Carson didn't go that far but according to the Washington Examiner said that it would be wrong to end the subsidies.... Marco Rubio says he'd support ending the mandate — after another seven years..... At the Iowa Agriculture Summit, Chris Christie sounded annoyed that President Obama hasn't been more supportive of ethanol subsidies, saying, 'Certainly anybody who's a competent president would get that done!'....

"Bernie Sanders, I-Ver., criticized subsidies in the past, but on Iowa public radio he sounded as if he loves the boondoggle.... Hillary Clinton says ethanol 'holds the promise for not only more fuel for automobiles but for aviation ... and for military aircraft; we could be fueling so much air traffic with biofuels'....

"Only Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.) have consistently said that the market, not politicians, should choose fuels. Unfortunately, that principled stance hasn't brought them much support....

"Energy expert Jerry Taylor is right to say that running for office in Iowa not only means you must praise Christianity; it means being 'willing to sacrifice children to the corn god.'"

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Vermont governor backs marijuana legalization bill

Will Vermont fully legalize marijuana? Gov supports new bill - Associated Press / The Cannabist:

January 26, 2015 - "Gov. Peter Shumlin and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee have announced legislation 'to cautiously and deliberately' legalize recreational marijuana in Vermont.

"Sen. Richard Sears, a Democrat, said Tuesday that the bill would remove the civil penalties for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana for those over 21 but also provide for enhanced penalties for people over 21 who furnish alcohol or marijuana to minors....

"'The war on drugs has failed when it comes to marijuana prohibition,' Shumlin said in a statement on the governor’s website. 'Under the status quo, marijuana use is widespread, Vermonters have little difficulty procuring it for personal use, and the shadows of prohibition make it nearly impossible to address key issues like prevention, keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors, and dealing with those driving under the influence who are already on Vermont’s roads. The system has failed.

"'The question for us is how do we deal with that failure. Vermont can take a smarter approach that regulates marijuana in a thoughtful way, and this bill provides a framework for us to do that.'"

"Shumlin outlined five legalization principles in his State of the State Address....
  • A legal market must keep marijuana and other drugs out of the hands of underage kids.... 
  • The tax imposed must be low enough to wipe out the black market and get rid of the illegal drug dealers
  • Revenue from legalization must be used to expand addiction prevention programs.
  • Law enforcement’s capacity to improve the response to impaired drivers under the influence of marijuana who are already on Vermont’s roads must be strengthened.
  • The sale of edibles must be prohibited at first." 
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Thursday, January 28, 2016

UberX ride service legalized in Edmonton

Edmonton becomes first city in Canada to pass Uber-friendly bylaw | Edmonton Journal:

January 28, 2016 - "Edmonton became the first city in Canada to pass an Uber-friendly bylaw Wednesday, leaving the California-based company scrambling to get provincially approved insurance before a March 1 deadline....

"Alberta’s Superintendent of Insurance ruled last July that Uber’s existing policy does not adequately cover consumers. Since then, at least two insurers have said they are working on policies specific to ride-sharing. None has been approved so far.

"Uber can’t get a licence under the new bylaw without provincially approved insurance, and an Uber driver caught without it could face a $5,000 fine....

"Despite repeated attempts from several councillors, the bylaw contains only a token minimum fare of $3.25 per ride. Council will revisit that in six months, sooner if administration sees anything they judge to be predatory pricing.... The taxi industry will be the only ones allowed to hail a cab on the street or by phone using the regulated rate....

"Uber started operating its UberX service in Edmonton in December 2014. It uses an app to link private individuals and their personal vehicles with paying customers for a rate that’s about 30 per cent less than the regulated taxi rate.

"Edmonton tried and failed to shut down Uber with a court injunction. They’ve since ticketed at least 70 drivers under the old bylaw, but those tickets are still being fought in court."

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New Manitoba Party calling for big tax cuts

Taz Stuart named interim leader of new Manitoba Party - Manitoba - CBC News - Steve Lambert, Canadian Press:

January 21, 2016 - "A new political party focusing on extensive tax cuts is aiming to be in place for the April 19 Manitoba election.

"The Manitoba Party's platform includes a promise to cut the provincial sales tax to five per cent from eight. The party also says it would institute a flat income tax of 10 per cent to replace current progressive tax brackets that top out at 17.4 per cent.

"The party also says it would scrap the province's business payroll tax, which brings in hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

"The aim, the party's president says, would be to leave taxpayers and businesses with more money to boost the economy and create jobs. 'I think everybody knows that taxation is a fine, a penalty, a deterrent," Gary Marshall said Thursday. 'If you alleviate that punishment ... people will be far more inclined to produce, to be productive, to work harder.'

"Marshall said just look west for proof of that.  'This is copying Saskatchewan. The NDP in 2006 instituted very big tax cuts which shocked everybody and that place has been booming ever since. Yes, they had some help with the oil revenues. But it's their tax policies that have kept that province head and shoulders above everybody else."

"Marshall, a dialysis technologist with an interest in government economics, believes his group offers voters a right-leaning alternative to the province's three main parties. It has started filing paperwork with Elections Manitoba, including the 2,500 signatures required to form an official party.

"Marshall said he's not worried about splitting the vote on the right.

"'They failed on that four times now. Sixteen years they haven't adopted any conservative policies. So if they're chasing NDP policies that's fine. We'll open it up and we'll offer tax cuts,' he said.  'We don't think the people of this province are being served very well. In the last election in this province 42 per cent of people did not vote. … So we think the current three parties, that they're all kind of congregated on the left side of the spectrum, all trying to outdo the NDP, are missing out on a large market here in Manitoba.'

"The party is lining up candidates and has an interim leader in Taz Stuart, who used to head the City of Winnipeg's mosquito-fighting program. Stuart finished second in a run for a seat on city council in 2014....

"The Manitoba Party is hoping to gain official status with Elections Manitoba by the end of the month and field candidates in at least half of the province's 57 constituencies."

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

St. Kitts / Nevis CMO wants marijuana legalized

St Kitts health official wants marijuana legalised - News -

January 26, 2016 - "Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrick Martin says the legaliation of marijuana could have a positive effect on violent crime in St Kitts/Nevis.

"'We have the evidence in health, in the security sector. In 2007 the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime produced a report entitled Crime and Violence in the Caribbean, and I quote, Drug trafficking is the cause of the gun-related homicide, end quote. Where there are drugs there are guns. The gun culture is everywhere. Can we bring it to an end in St Kitts and Nevis, the answer is yes we are 50,000 people,' said Dr Martin, speaking on a programme on WINN FM on Monday....

"'The question is what do you do about a plant that has proper uses in the culture that has been made illegal or criminal for some strange reason and there is some evidence that shows the people who made the use of marijuana illegal and criminal were not responding to data, they are responding to hysteria....

"'It’s the profit motive. The use of marijuana in this country is culture. Demand for marijuana is universal,' he said, arguing that the State spends a lot of funds on policing and prosecuting marijuana users.

"'What we have to do as intelligent independent people is to have an intelligent conversation on data and stop filling up our jails of people who are probably self-medicating.

"'I could understand persons who are trafficking and selling to minors and stuff like that. We have to put some limits. ... But there are bona fide spiritual and medicinal use[s] of the plant and we are wasting our time and resources going down the road of criminality only,' he told listeners."

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Ron Paul campaigning in Iowa January 31

Rand Paul to campaign in Iowa with father Ron Paul - CBS News - Stephanie Condon:

January 21, 2015 - "Ron Paul, the former congressman and GOP presidential candidate, is finally joining his son Sen. Rand Paul on the 2016 campaign trail.

The two will appear together January 31 at the University of Iowa, just a day before the critical Iowa caucuses.

"As a staunch libertarian, Ron Paul inspired a strong coalition of young supporters during his own White House bids, and he is credited with helping to ignite the tea party movement. The reach of his presidential campaign, however, was limited. In 2012, Paul's campaign finished third in Iowa, behind former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and the eventual GOP nominee, Mitt Romney.

"Rand Paul has walked a fine line since launching his own presidential campaign, attempting to win the support of his father's enthusiastic supporters while appealing to a broader audience.

"'Together they will focus on energizing the youthful base by discussing the importance of protecting the entire Bill of Rights and being boldly for conservative ideals that limit the powers of the Washington Machine,' Rand Paul's campaign said in a press release announcing the January 31 event. 'Rand's unique message of liberty can unite Constitutional conservatives, young voters, and independent voters, which will lead to a successful showing on caucus night'....

"While Trump appears to be on his way to securing the nomination, Ron Paul said his son 'may well surprise everybody because he has good organization and caucus states are different.'"

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Ground game key to Rand Paul's Iowa prospects (video)

Rand Paul's Iowa Hopes - Hit & Run : - Brian Doherty:

January 21, 2016 - "Rand Paul likely needs to pull off a very good showing on February 1 in Iowa if his campaign is to have any future. Ron Paul in 2012 pulled 21 percent, ... though current polling does not bear out his belief that he'll pull anything close to a Ron-like percentage....

"However, his student supporters insist that since this caucus is happening, unlike the last one, while college is in session, that a vast unpolled (since they don't have landlines) student and youth vote is going to make a miracle for Paul....

Daily Caller has more on the campaign's student strategy:
....the campaign has had between 40 and 50 college students in Iowa making phone calls on a daily basis in an attempt to attract the Libertarian-leaning millennials Paul’s father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul, managed to captivate during his presidential bids and time in the House.

“We’ve organized all across Iowa on campuses, we’re recruiting what we call our Iowa 10,000 to try and bring 10,000 college students to the caucus – so we feel really good that our grassroots effort are really strong there,” Senior National Advisor Michael Biundo told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “In addition to that, we’ve organized 1,000 precinct captains throughout the state. You need a lot of organization to get people out on an icy, cold Iowa night to spend several hours at the caucus location – and having done it before, having that many precinct captains is a significant milestone a lot of campaigns can’t tout.”
"A Paul-supporting SuperPAC, Concerned American Voters, has raised over $5 million over the course of the campaign and have been focusing their early efforts on get-out-the-vote and voter identification in Iowa....

"Their digital ad strategy hopes to make sure anyone even potentially interested in Paul sees some of their content, and they have launched a half-million digital ad buy for that purpose. They have 30 videos already circulating, and intend to have more than 75 by the end of the month.

"Their calling operation has identified over 37,000 potential Paul caucus voters, who have claimed they either will, are likely to, or might vote for him. Jeff Frazee, a veteran of Ron Paul's campaigns and president of that PAC, predicts an Iowa win would open as yet-closed taps of cash for Paul....

"Another Paul-supporting SuperPAC, PurplePAC, has an ad for Paul they've developed airing on TV in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids now. It will be airing 25 times on the ABC affiliate in Cedar Rapids, six time on Fox affiliate, 33 times on CBS affiliate, and 46 times on NBC affiliate. In Des Moines, it will air 36 times on local CBS, 11 on Fox, 40 on NBC, and 30 on ABC, for a total 227 airings in both markets combined.

"The ad, below, is built around the visual and textual metaphor of liberty as a flame that only Rand Paul will keep stoked:"

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Interest growing in National School Choice Week

As interest in school choice grows, so does National School Choice Week - - Josh Kaib:

"2016 is shaping up to be the best year yet for National School Choice Week. The annual January event, which began in 2011, will feature 16,140 events, up from roughly 11,000 last year. The festivities officially kick off across the country on Sunday and run through January 30.

"Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week, says the exponential growth tracks with the increased interest in school choice.

 "'From 150 events in 2011 to 16,140 events in 2016, the growth in enthusiasm surrounding National School Choice Week demonstrates that Americans in communities across the country recognize, more than ever before, the importance of ensuring that all children have the opportunity to learn and to pursue their own American dreams,' Campanella said in a statement.

"The events — which are independently planned by schools and participating organizations — aim to increase the public’s awareness of education options, including traditional district schools, public charter and magnet schools, online education, private schools and homeschooling.

"'National School Choice Week provides an opportunity to start tens of thousands of conversations across our country about the benefits of choice and opportunity in K-12 education,' Campanella said. 'We encourage everyone to get involved, to celebrate, and to have their voices heard during the week.'

"Though NSCW has spread quickly across the country, some areas are slower to adopt school choice policies. Charter school laws differ widely from state to state, and 27 so far offer private school choice initiatives including scholarships, vouchers, and education savings accounts. Scholarships are typically funded through tax-deductible donations from businesses and individuals, whereas vouchers and ESAs enable parents to decide where the public education funding set aside for their child should go....

"Last year, Nevada became the first state to enact a universal ESA. It would enable virtually every public school student in the state to attend the private school of their choice by giving them a significant portion of the money that would have been spent educating them at a public school.

"But earlier this month, a state judge issued an injunction against the program. Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who signed the program into law, is asking the Nevada Supreme Court for an expedited ruling on the program’s constitutionality."

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Friday, January 22, 2016

Elliott acquitted in Twitter harassment trial

Toronto man found not guilty in Twitter harassment trial - The Globe and Mail - Paola Loriggio:

January 22, 2015 - "A controversial acquittal in what’s believed to be Canada’s first criminal harassment trial involving Twitter is being hailed by some as a victory for freedom of speech and condemned by others as a green light for online attacks.

"Gregory Alan Elliott was cleared on all charges stemming from his dealings with two local women’s rights activists, Stephanie Guthrie and Heather Reilly, on the popular social network....

"Elliott, a graphic designer and father of four, was arrested in November 2012 after months of tweeting back and forth with the activists....

"While there is 'no doubt' that Guthrie and Reilly were harassed by Elliott, either due to the volume or content of his messages, that alone does not meet the legal threshold for a conviction, Ontario Court Judge Brent Knazan said.

"In order to convict, the Crown must prove the accused knowingly or recklessly harassed another person through conduct that caused them to reasonably fear for their safety.

"Elliott’s tweets contained nothing of a 'violent or sexual nature,' and there was no indication he intended to hurt the women so their fear could not be justified, Knazan said.

"In the posts, Elliott was largely explaining himself and furthering his views 'however offensive or wrong they may be,' the judge said, while recognizing the language could be 'vulgar and sometimes obscene.'

"Guthrie and Reilly were unreasonable in expecting Elliott to keep out of Twitter conversations they were involved in simply because they asked him to, nor could the use of hashtags be considered an attempt to contact them directly, he said.

"'Once someone creates a hashtag, anyone can use it,' he said. 'Everyone has to be able to use it freely; anything less will limit the operation of Twitter in a way that is not consistent with freedom of expression.'"

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Presidential candidates ignore rising U.S. debt

National Debt? What’s That? - Michael Tanner, National Review Online:

Jamuary 20, 2016 - "In the last Republican debate, there was precisely one question on the debt — and the candidates answered it by talking about their tax plans. That was far too typical...   But while the candidates have been wrangling over such vital issues as fantasy sports betting or Ted Cruz’s citizenship status, our growing sea of red ink has quietly risen toward $19 trillion. One might think our impending national bankruptcy might be worth a bit more attention.

"In his State of the Union address, President Obama took a bow for reducing our annual budget deficit by two-thirds during his time in office. He’s correct. Since its high of $1.4 trillion in 2009, the deficit had dropped to just $439 billion last year, although the president failed to mention that his policies, including the 2009 stimulus bill, helped drive the deficit to those record levels, and policies that he opposed, such as sequestration, helped bring it down.

"But the respite is just temporary. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s newest estimates, released yesterday, the deficit is already rising again, and will exceed $544 billion this year. By 2022, just six years from now, we will once again be experiencing trillion-dollar deficits every year.

"And even with lower deficits, the national debt is still rising. By 2025, our debt will top $27 trillion. Yet, Congress is not only kicking the can down the road, it is making the problem worse. Just last year, Congress put in place spending that will raise the debt by $1.2 trillion over the next ten years. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget called 2015 “a banner year for fiscal irresponsibility.'

"And none of this includes the more than $69 trillion in unfunded liabilities being run up by Medicare and Social Security....

"We know what the Democrats would do about the debt — make it worse. Bernie Sanders has proposed at least $18 trillion in new spending over the next ten years.... Hillary ... has proposed only $1.1 trillion in new spending ... although more proposals to expand government are coming. Both Democrats oppose any reform of entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare....

"But what about Republicans?... They have all issued very detailed tax proposals, but with the occasional exception of Chris Christie and Rand Paul, they have generally skipped the more difficult discussion of spending cuts. Some, like Donald Trump, join Democrats in opposing entitlement reform. Others simply duck the question.

"Unfortunately, those tax proposals, even using dynamic scoring to account for increased economic growth, will reduce government revenues....  (Rand Paul’s proposal is the exception, resulting in a $737 billion increase in revenue after taking into account economic growth)....

"The debt matters. Not only is it remarkably unfair to our children and grandchildren, it is imposing costs today. Our economic growth is slower and our wages lower than they would be if it were smaller. Other political and economic priorities are being squeezed out. Interest on the debt was projected to reach $261 billion this year, and exceed $500 billion by 2020 even before factoring in the recent budget-busting deals.

"One might think that was worth talking about. So far in this campaign, one would apparently be wrong."

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Paul stressing libertarian themes in runup to Iowa

Rand Paul returns to libertarian roots before Iowa caucus - Joseph Gerth, Louisville Courier-Journal:

January 18, 2016 - "Rand Paul finds himself desperately needing a strong showing in the Hawkeye State to get back into the presidential discussion. Once a promising candidate who was leading in some polls, two years ago, the U.S. senator from Kentucky has seen his fortunes plummet as his message became lost in a large field of GOP contenders who had more money and more star-power.

"Now, says Dave Nalle, the vice chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus, which has endorsed Paul, the candidate is re-emphasizing his libertarian roots in a final dash that Nalle says is crucial for him to stay relevant.

"'I think it’s vitally important,' Nalle said of the Feb. 1 Iowa caucus where he said Paul must do better than polling now shows - which he expects Paul to do.

"According to the most recent Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll, Paul gets 5 percent of the vote and sits in fifth place among likely caucus-goers in Iowa behind U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, businessman Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson....

"The belief among analysts that the race is over for Paul and concern that he needs to focus his efforts on being re-elected to the Senate haven’t stopped him from plowing ahead with his presidential campaign.

"And as of late, Paul appears to have been working harder to reclaim the libertarian heritage of his father, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a Republican who once ran for president on the Libertarian ticket....

"After he didn’t make the South Carolina debate last week, Paul went on a two-day media tour of New York City television and radio, appearing non-stop almost on the air trying to get his libertarian message out – hitting hard on the issue of limited overseas military engagement and government prying into private affairs.

"'I have a unique voice. I am the one voice saying we shouldn’t make the sand glow. I’m the one voice saying … the government shouldn’t be collecting all your records,' he said during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Wednesday. Those were also recurring themes during an 80-minute webcast Paul held on Twitter during the South Carolina debate on the Fox Business Channel....

"Nalle said Paul is on the right course to take back the so-called 'liberty voters' who have left the Paul family fold. 'I think he’s listening to his constituents,” Nalle said. 'A lot of us have urged him not to moderate his views.'

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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Apple CEO defends encyption with 'no backdoors'

Apple’s Tim Cook Lashes Out at White House Officials for Being Wishy-Washy on Encryption - Jenna McLaughlin, The Intercept::

January 12, 2016 - "Apple CEO Tim Cook lashed out at the high-level delegation of Obama administration officials who came calling on tech leaders in San Jose last week, criticizing the White House for a lack of leadership and asking the administration to issue a strong public statement defending the use of unbreakable encryption.

"The White House should come out and say 'no backdoors,' Cook said. That would mean overruling repeated requests from FBI Director James Comey and other administration officials that tech companies build some sort of special access for law enforcement into otherwise unbreakable encryption. Technologists agree that any such measure could be exploited by others....

The Washington Post reported in September that the White House had decided not to pursue legislation against unbreakable encryption. But the intelligence community’s top lawyer was quoted in an email saying that that the administration should be 'keeping our options open … in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement.'

"And Comey has been urging technology companies to voluntarily alter 'their business model' and stop offering end-to-end encryption by default.

"Despite the growing pressure tech companies are feeling from governments worldwide to stop letting terrorists take advantage of their services, Cook has continued to defend the importance of encryption in protecting all digital transactions — from text messages and emails to bank information and medical records.

"Cook has been outspoken in his opposition to the idea that we need to sacrifice privacy and digital security for the sake of public safety. During an episode of 60 Minutes on December 20, he said, 'We’re America, we should have both'....

"[T]echnologists and cryptographers have been insisting for decades almost unanimously that trying to pierce impenetrable end-to-end encryption to provide the government with access would be more dangerous than beneficial."

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Libertarian Party forming in Mexico (interview)

Mexico's New Libertarian Party Aims to Shake Up the Political Arena - Elena Toledo, Pan-Am Post:

January 11, 2016 - "The PanAm Post recently spoke with Francisco Javier Combaluzier, spokesman for the Mexican Libertarian Party, who believes the North American country can achieve a greater level of freedom for its citizens than anyone could have previously imagined. 

Where are you in terms of legally instituting the party? 
"In Mexico, we have to depend more on the law than our own organizational capacity, because the legislation is relatively new, and it does not allow for new parties to emerge until 2020.

Nevertheless, there is a new possibility of introducing independent candidates [before the party is legally set up], and we will participate with many citizens who are joining Mexico’s libertarian movement.

What kind of positions do you expect to campaign for with these independent candidates?
"Congress, mostly. Many of Mexico’s structural problems arise from excessive legislation and disregard for the law. We not only have laws that we don’t need, but those that we do are not enforced.

"For us to have a free country, I think it’s essential that we start cutting back, and see to it that the laws we do need are obeyed. That’s why [focusing on] Congress is most important in order to ensure the rule of law.

"Nevertheless, city councils are the offices that are closest [to the people], and where good libertarian practices can be enacted.

What are the biggest challenges as libertarian politicians in Mexican society?
"There are very few of us who call ourselves [classical] liberals or libertarians, primarily because we are not taught to identify with these labels. There is little time devoted in schools to studying libertarian thinkers, philosophers, or economists.

"However, after talking to people on social media, we have realized that many agree with our views, despite not being able to identify them as libertarian. In that sense, one of our most important goals is to make people aware that their intuition of how things should be is actually rooted in libertarian principles. That way, they will understand why they shouldn’t be voting for collectivist candidates....

What is the shape of the broader libertarian movement in Mexico?
"There is the Mexican Libertarian Movement, which is very active on social media; they focus on documentation and outreach. However, they don’t believe in elections, and most of them seek to spontaneously bring about anarchism. They believe that small government is a utopian ideal, because the state has a natural tendency to grow.

"Some outlets spread libertarian ideas when possible, such as TV Azteca, where analysts Roberto Salinas León and Sergio Sarmiento work. These kinds of projects are very positive for the growth of libertarianism in Mexico.

"And then we have libertarians like myself who believe we need to get in elections to achieve a peaceful change. We can’t wait for it to happen spontaneously, or by giving lectures that people may or may not attend. We think that in the next five years we can organize a critical mass of young people who are savvy social-media users, and create a movement that can draw considerable support."

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Christian case for libertarianism

The Christian Case For Libertarianism - Brian Hawkins, The Federalist:

December 16, 2015 - "Libertarianism is the natural political ideology for Christians because it promotes individual freedom. 1 Peter 2:16 reads, 'As freemen, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.' Men free from the chains of government can maximize our liberties to help our fellow man through private charity and evangelism.

"When government is limited, man becomes subject to the will of God as opposed to the will of man. Government weakens intimate bonds between the individual and the family, replaces individual charity with coerced redistribution, and uses the threat of violence against person and property in order to dictate the behavior of private individuals. The evils of government threaten all people, but ought to be particularly concerning to Christians....

"Compassionate conservatives and Christian progressives alike have cited the gospels as justification for the welfare state.... Yes, Jesus called us to love our neighbors, help the poor, feed the hungry, and tend to the sick; however, these are commands to individuals, not to the state.

"Compassionate justifications for the welfare state are illegitimate because true compassion is based out of one’s personal generosity. When the state attempts the role of charity, its only means of doing so is through physical force. To support its welfare state, government must tax private citizens, and quite heavily. If a citizen refuses to pay taxes, the government must resort to violence and imprisonment to force the dissenter to comply....

"One might argue that Jesus Christ’s command in Matthew 22:21 — 'Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” — exhorts Christians to dutifully pay their taxes and follow the laws of man. On the contrary, in Acts 4, state officials ordered the apostles John and Peter to cease preaching the gospel. John responded at verse 19, 'Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.' This seems to suggest that there is a point at which Christians may disobey their earthly rulers.....

"Too often government prevents Christians from doing their Christian duties. When the government levies taxes, we have less money to help the poor. When government restricts religious speech, we cannot evangelize. When government welfare policy encourages single-parenthood through financial incentives, the family is weakened. When government distributes Social Security checks, adult children neglect their responsibilities to their elderly parents. When government mandates that religious organizations provide contraceptives to their employees, we are forced to destroy God’s greatest gift — life....

"Traditional Christian theology proffers that man is inherently sinful. Man’s inherent original sin makes no person among us just, pure, or wise enough to govern other men. Too often we have found ourselves disappointed by politicians, kings, and other legal authorities. The rational response, therefore, is not to make more strict laws or to increase legal oversight. Rather, it should be to limit government power....

"Whether it is government forcing charity or banning social vices, it cannot make man better. Instead, only the grace of Jesus Christ liberates man from sinful and socially damaging behaviors. Consequently, Christians ought to be extremely hesitant and skeptical of government attempts to codify Christian morality into the law."

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Free State Project over 90% of way to 20K goal

Libertarian group Free State Project says it is nearing its goal to move to NH with 20,000 people | New Hampshire - Meghan Pierce, Union Leader:

January 3, 2016 - "New Year's morning the Free State Project announced it has reached 92 percent of its goal of signing up 20,000 people to move to the Granite State.... As of Friday, 18,406 people have pledged to move to New Hampshire within five years of the project reaching its goal of 20,000 signatures.... This new number of signers also reflects a jump of two percent over the past few weeks.

"'We attribute that most of this growth is coming from targeted Facebook advertising,' Carla Gericke, Free State Project president, said Friday. 'We're pushing a lot more money into this and we're hoping to trigger the move in the next few months.'

"The Free State Project was inspired by a 2001 essay written by Jason Sorens, a Yale graduate student at the time. He theorized in the essay that if 20,000 committed activists moved to a single state with a small enough population, they could successfully shape policy and culture to create a more free and open, Libertarian society....  [M]ore than 10 percent have already moved to New Hampshire and these 2,000 plus 'early movers' have already had an impact....

"Early movers have participated in civil disobedience in Keene, where liberty activists calling themselves Robin Hooders fill expired parking meters just ahead of parking enforcement officers. As well as in Portsmouth, where liberty activists led Free Uber, a group battling city officials over the legality of being an Uber driver operating in the city....

"Early mover and Croydon School Board Chairman Jody Underwood has lead the fight for school choice in her town, maintaining that state law doesn't prohibit school districts from paying tuition to private schools, especially when it is in the best interest of the student.

"Many have also served in state government, including single mom and state representative for Manchester's Ward 5, Amanda Bouldin....

"Like many Free Staters, Bouldin believes community, not government, should care for those in need. So five years ago she started Shire Sharing, which, according to its website, is a “collaborative effort among liberty activists to address social ills through voluntary action and private charity.... This past November the charity delivered Thanksgiving meals to more than 600 households across the state....

"Some people have disparaged the Free State Project for not yet reaching its goal after more than a decade, Gericke said, but that has actually worked out for the best....

"There is already a community of Free Staters who support the newcomers in various ways — showing up to help them move in, holding 'orphan Thanksgivings,' and recommending local doctors or auto shops, she said....

"To fund the Facebook campaign ... go to, It has already raised more than $8,000 toward a $40,000 goal."

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Friday, January 15, 2016

No teen IQ loss from marijuana use, study finds

Cannabis use in teens does not affect their IQ or educational performance - Hannah Osborne, International Business Times:

January 8, 2015 - "Cannabis does not affect the IQ or educational performance of teenagers, a study has concluded. Published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, UK researchers looked at 2,235 teenagers who took part in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children to establish the effect of marijuana use on intelligence at the age of 15.

"There has been widespread debate on how cannabis affects intellectual and educational performance in adolescents. Previous research had shown teenage cannabis users have lower IQ scores and poorer educational outcomes than those who did not use the drug.

"However, the latest study notes these studies also show that teenage cannabis users tend to have higher rates of behavioural problems, depressive symptoms and were more likely to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. Their mothers were also more likely to have used cannabis during pregnancy.

"To find if there was a link between cannabis use and a lower IQ, the researchers adjusted the findings to take these factors into account. And after full adjustment, they found teens who had used cannabis did not differ from those who had never used it on either IQ or educational performance.

"'Cannabis use by the age of 15 did not predict either lower teenage IQ scores or poorer educational performance,' they wrote. 'These findings therefore suggest that cannabis use at the modest levels used by this sample of teenagers is not by itself causally related to cognitive impairment. Instead, our findings imply that previously reported associations between adolescent cannabis use and poorer intellectual and educational outcomes may be confounded to a significant degree by related factors.'"

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Rubio camp dodges absenteeism issue by shooting messenger

How a libertarian TV host became the focus of a Bush-Rubio fight - Washington Post - David Weigel:

January 14, 2016 - "Atlanta-based TV commentator Ben Swann is used to seeing his work recycled. Early in his career, in New Mexico, he racked up awards for spot news reporting. After President Obama took office, he launched a video series called 'Reality Check,' the sort of behind-the-news feature that assures his audience that they are being rescued from the lies of the day.... The twist: Swann is an extremely skeptical libertarian....

"In 2013, he filmed a short independent documentary about the 'Rethink 9/11' campaign in New York, which had bought a billboard to drum up support for a fresh investigation into the collapse of the 7 World Trade Center building.... Swann admitted that the video could hurt him....  'Probably the people we got the most pushback from were libertarians, who said: Hey, don't talk about this. You'll look like you're crazy,' said Swann. 'Everybody who asks those questions gets smeared. All of a sudden, you're a truther'....

"Wednesday afternoon ... the New York Times's Maggie Haberman spotlighted Swann's cameo in an ad by the pro-Jeb Bush super PAC Right to Rise. Swann's October 'Fact Check' segment on Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio's voting record in the U.S. Senate was the one RTR used to quickly explain his absences. Matter-of-factly, Haberman noted that Swann had 'examined questions about whether 7 World Trade Center could have collapsed as authorities said it did, and allegations that the gunman in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings didn’t act alone.' Swann told The Washington Post that he did not receive a request for comment until the post went up....

"But just the whiff of "9/11 trutherism" pulled Rubio's campaign into the fray. Rubio's rapid response pro, Joe Pounder, cited it as more proof of Bush's desperation.
.@JebBush so desperate to launch false attacks on @marcorubio that they are using a 9-11 and Sandy Hook truther
5:28 PM - 13 Jan 2016
"Here was an ad hominem attack, defined. No one had disputed Swann's 'Reality Check' segment — and no one was really explaining how he talked about conspiracy theories. Consistently, he has explored them as a reporter, asking why other people are asking questions. He is as likely to debunk the questions as to leave them open....

"After Swann saw his reputation battered on Twitter, he noticed that Pounder, in his old role at the oppo shop America Rising, had promoted his work at least twice.... In 2012 ... it did not matter that Swann was a libertarian-leaning reporter who would check into oddball theories instead of quickly dismissing them. In 2016, with Rubio under attack, this began to matter a great deal."

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

George Jonas a lifelong believer in freedom

Robert Fulford: George Jonas was an enemy of every oppression, great or small | National Post:

January 11, 2016 - "For many years after the Second World War, Canadians had trouble understanding the immigrants who flowed in from eastern Europe. Their stories of oppression weren’t always taken seriously. Ukrainians, Hungarians, Poles and many others were embittered after losing their national homes to the Russian empire but Canadians found that hard to grasp. Newspaper editorials often instructed immigrants — Displaced Persons, or DPs, they were often called — that they must not bring old enmities into Canadian life.

"George Jonas, a Hungarian who became a distinguished Canadian writer, was sophisticated enough to treat that provincial attitude with an urbane shrug. He remained forever an enemy of the Soviet Union and all other despotisms.

"With his opinions uninhibited, he plunged into a six-decades-long career in Canada as poet, playwright, novelist, CBC broadcaster and journalist, ending up with the widespread respect of his profession and membership in the Order of Canada. He died Sunday in Toronto at age 80.

"A lifelong belief in freedom ran like an electric current through his poetry, his fiction and his journalism. Long-established Canadians tend to take freedom for granted, never having known its opposite, but where Jonas came from it was scarce. As a child in the early 1940s, he was made to wear a yellow star on the street, like all other Jews. After 1945 he watched the Soviet Union impose a dreary and evil dictatorship on Hungary.

"Freedom was the song Jonas sang, in all his writing He never gave up trying to protect freedom — from communists, fascists, Islamists or any other totalitarians. I can’t forget the contempt he expressed in the 1960s when describing a Canadian nationalist poet who said that Mao’s China sounded like an admirable society. How could those who were born to freedom consider bartering it away, even in imagination? Freedom was the song Jonas sang, in all his writing. He proudly called himself a classical liberal. Many people think that means a conservative but he believed it meant he was an enemy of every oppression, great or small."

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Republican Liberty Caucus endorses Rand Paul

Rand Paul wins support of GOP ‘liberty’ caucus - The Washington Post - David Wiegel:

January 12, 2015 - "The Republican Liberty Caucus, a 25-year old union of the GOP's libertarian-leaning activists, has endorsed Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) for president over Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). Coming just hours before Paul gets a Senate vote on his legislation to audit the Federal Reserve, his campaign is calling this a victory in the 'liberty lane' of the Republican primary.

"'Senator Paul is the candidate of choice among our state charters and membership at large,' said RLC National Chairman Matt Nye in a Tuesday morning statement. 'Senator Paul has been a consistent favorite with our members since he announced his candidacy."

"As Paul's presidential campaign has worked to regain footing in the primary, it's beseeched libertarian-leaning Republicans not to join Cruz's bandwagon. That effort has largely succeed, with some close calls. In October, the Paul campaign worked hurriedly to win a straw poll at the RLC's New Hampshire-based convention, where Cruz made a surprise appearance. When a confusing two-ballot system handed Paul the win, Cruz's campaign declared partial victory anyway, noting that "51 percent" of the combined ballots were marked for Cruz.

"In the ensuing weeks, despite well-received debate performances, Paul continued to lag behind Cruz. On Jan. 3, RLC National Director Steve Hoffman told the blog Conservative Fifty that he was personally switching from Paul to Cruz....

"Paul has sharpened his rhetoric about Cruz; in a series of half-festive, half-revealing New Years tweets, he resolved 'to give @TedCruz more lead time before I announce my policy positions, so he can replicate them faster.' Had the RLC issued no endorsement, after endorsing Paul's father in the 2012 primaries, it would have hinted at serious defections from his base. But two-thirds of RLC members, many of whom entered or re-engaged with politics because of Ron Paul's presidential campaigns, prevented catastrophe.

"Cruz's campaign, which has alerted reporters to any defections from Paul's camp, was sanguine about the RLC vote....

"Paul's campaign, meanwhile, was boasting of an unconditional victory.

"'As the only liberty-minded candidate,' said Paul spokesman Sergio Gor, 'Senator Paul is very pleased and grateful to the Republican Liberty Caucus.'"

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Nevada state legislator joins Libertarian Party

Nevada Assemblyman John Moore joins Libertarian Party | Independent Political Report - LPNV press release:

"January 8, 2016 - "The Libertarian Party of Nevada (LPNevada), the fastest growing political party, providing common sense solutions to major issues announces Nevada State Assemblyman John Moore has joined the Libertarian Party of Nevada.... Moore represents the 8th Assembly District of Nevada and is currently serving his first term in the Nevada State Assembly.... Moore will represent the Libertarian Party of Nevada in the State Legislature.

"'The Libertarian Party of Nevada is proud to welcome Assemblyman John Moore to our Party and we fully support him,' said Libertarian Party of Nevada Chairman Brett H. Pojunis. 'Everyone in the party is excited to have him on board and this is the first time in over 15 years the Libertarian Party has had an elected official at the state level. We have been working hard to build a viable option for voters in Nevada and this will help us to continue our exponential growth.'

"'I first met some of the leaders of the Party during the last legislation session and I was really impressed,' said Assemblyman John Moore. 'We started working together and before I decided to join the Libertarian Party they provided a lot of support for me. Since we started working together under the Libertarian Party banner I have received so much support and I am really looking forward to our future together.'"

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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Financial Review has lunch with Charles Koch

Political machine man: Lunch with Charles Koch | - Stephen Foley:

January 10, 2016 - "While Charles and his younger sibling, David, feature as boo-hiss villains in Democratic candidate speeches, their activities concern those of all political hues who fear the unchecked power of private wealth to influence the US electoral system. The Koch brothers have pushed for and used new freedoms such as those opened up by the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which removed limits on corporate political spending, to fundraise at large scale and in relative obscurity. Their network of organisations - a panoply of think tanks, campaign groups, voter registration and opposition research arms as well as political action committees - employs 1,200 people in 107 offices nationwide, about three and a half times the current staff of the Republican National Committee....

"Koch's staff have told him they expect to marshal close to $US900m from conservative donors. The money will be spent trying to influence this year's elections in favour of rightwing ideas; around a third of it on directly funding political campaigns against Democratic candidates.

"With the field crowded and voting still a way off, Koch has declined several times to endorse a Republican primary candidate....  I ask about the rhetorical turn the race has taken when it comes to dealing with Islamist terror, and about Trump's assertion that the US could require all Muslims in the country to register with the government. 'Well, then you destroy our free society,' Koch says of the idea. 'Who is it that said, "If you want to defend your liberty, the first thing you've got to do is defend the liberty of people you like the least"?'

"He then expounds on the war on terror. 'We have been doing this for a dozen years. We invaded Afghanistan. We invaded Iraq. Has that made us safer? Has that made the world safer? It seems like we're more worried about it now than we were then, so we need to examine these strategies'....

"Although Koch now calls himself a 'classical liberal' - citing William Gladstone as a political hero for opposing Corn Law trade tariffs and political patronage in 19th-century Britain - today's libertarian Republicans and leftish Democrats may find intriguing common causes. The Kochs have also financed efforts - to roll back harsh sentencing laws, reduce the US's prison population (the highest in the world) and make it easier for felons to be reintegrated into society - more commonly associated with Democrats.

"Where the Kochs and the left are never likely to see eye to eye is on the environment. Over lunch, Koch positions himself not as a denier of climate change but rather as sceptical that it justifies drastic government intervention. 'Over the past 135 years, the ground temperature has warmed - there's some debate on this - around eight-tenths of a degree centigrade. In the atmosphere [the temperature change] has been slightly less, but not enough to argue much about. A big driver is most likely man-generated CO2, but what we see is that this increase is much less than has been projected. So, the indications are that the temperature isn't as sensitive to increases in CO2 concentration as was thought. I don't see the evidence that there's an immediate catastrophe or even one in the future.'

"The level of climate change, says Koch, does not justify penalising the use of cheap fossil fuels or subsidising alternative energy companies. Tax breaks and other incentives to use solar panels, he explains, cut the cost of energy for homeowners who can afford to install them, at the expense of higher bills for the rest. 'It's the poor people subsidising the rich people, which is what happens with this corporate welfare everywhere'....

"Through our conversation, there seems to be no issue to which smaller government, freer markets and unfettered competition is not the solution. "Our worst example in this country is the way we've treated Native Americans," he says at one point. "A great portion of the property of the American Indians is held in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They are not allowed to control their own." Citing the high rate of unemployment among Native Americans, he says, "This is what this whole philosophy of control and dependency does. How do you have a life of meaning? It's hopeless. So, they're a bunch of alcoholics. Well, no kidding."

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Oregon standoff as justified civil disobedience

Oregon Protests: Civil Disobedience Justified - David French, National Review Online:

January 4,2016 - "Deranged militiamen spoiling for a fight against the federal government make for good copy, but what if they’re right? What if the government viciously and unjustly prosecuted a rancher family so as to drive them from their land? Then protest, including civil disobedience, would be not just understandable but moral, and maybe even necessary....

"Read the court documents in the case that triggered the protest.... What emerges is a picture of a federal agency that will use any means necessary, including abusing federal anti-terrorism statutes, to increase government landholdings.

"The story as told by the protesters begins ... with the creation and expansion of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, a tract of federal land set aside by President Theodore Roosevelt.... The federal government has since expanded the preserve in part by buying adjacent private land. Protesters allege that when private landowners refused to sell, the federal government got aggressive, diverting water during the 1980s into the 'rising Malheur lakes.' Eventually, the lakes flooded 'homes, corrals, barns, and graze-land.' Ranchers who were “broke and destroyed” then “begged” the government to buy their 'useless ranches.'

"By the 1990s, the Hammonds were among the few private landowners who remained.... the government then began a campaign of harassment designed to force the family to sell its land, a beginning with barricaded roads and arbitrarily revoked grazing permits and culminating in an absurd anti-terrorism prosecution based largely on two 'arsons' that began on private land but spread to the Refuge.

"While 'arsons' might sound suspicious to urban ears, ... land must sometime be burned to stop the spread of invasive species and prevent or fight destructive wildfires. Indeed, the federal government frequently starts its own fires, and protesters allege (with video evidence) that these 'burns' often spread to private land, killing and injuring cattle and damaging private property. Needless to say, no federal officers are ever prosecuted.

"The prosecution of the Hammonds revolved mainly around two burns, one in 2001 and another in 2006. The government alleged that the first was ignited to cover up evidence of poaching and placed a teenager in danger.... But the trial judge found that the teenager’s testimony was tainted by age and bias and that the fire had merely damaged 'juniper trees and sagebrush' — damage that 'might' total $100 in value. The other burn was trifling.... fires burned about an acre of public land.

"In 2010 — almost nine years after the 2001 burn — the government filed a 19-count indictment against the Hammonds that included charges under the Federal Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which mandates a five-year prison term.... At sentencing, the trial court refused to apply the mandatory-minimum sentence, holding that five years in prison would be 'grossly disproportionate to the severity of the offenses' and that the Hammonds’ fires 'could not have been conduct intended [to be covered] under” the Anti-terrorism act'.... He sentenced Steven Hammond to two concurrent prison terms of twelve months and one day and Dwight Hammond to one prison term of three months. The Hammonds served their sentences without incident or controversy....

"Despite the absence of any meaningful damage to federal land, the U.S. Attorney appealed the trial judge’s sentencing decision.... The case went to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the court ruled against the Hammonds, rejecting their argument that the prosecutor violated the plea agreement by filing an appeal and dismissing the trial court’s Eighth Amendment concerns. The Hammonds were ordered back to prison. At the same time, they were struggling to pay a $400,000 civil settlement with the federal government, the terms of which gave the government right of first refusal to purchase their property....

"There’s a clear argument that the government engaged in an overzealous, vindictive prosecution here. By no stretch of the imagination were the Hammonds terrorists, yet they were prosecuted under an anti-terrorism statute. The government could have let the case end once the men had served their sentences, yet it pressed for more jail time. And the whole time, it held in its back pocket potential rights to the family’s property. To the outside observer, it appears the government has attempted to crush private homeowners and destroy their livelihood in a quest for even more land. If that’s the case, civil disobedience is a valuable course of action. By occupying a vacant federal building, protesters can bring national attention to an injustice that would otherwise go unnoticed and unremedied."

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Maine Libertarians sue for party status

Libertarian Mainers sue state over rejection of bid to create party — Politics — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine - Christopher Cousins:

January 8, 2016 - "A group of Mainers attempting to establish an official Libertarian Party here has sued the secretary of state’s office, claiming that Maine’s rules for establishing a political party are unconstitutional and that there is not an adequate process for appealing decisions by the state.

"The suit centers on failed efforts last year by the Libertarian Party of Maine Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Brunswick, to become the fourth recognized political party in Maine. It alleges that Maine law violates First and 14th Amendment constitutional rights.

"Filed Jan. 4 in U.S. District Court by Portland-based attorney John Branson, the suit names as defendants Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn and Assistant Director of Elections Tracy Willett, all in their official capacities....

"The Libertarian organization spent most of 2015 trying to provisionally enroll at least 5,000 Maine voters prior to Dec. 1, as Maine law requires for establishment of a new political party.

"The organization claims it submitted names of 6,482 Libertarian Party enrollees representing 356 Maine towns and cities, but the secretary of state’s office ruled on Dec. 8, 2015, that only 4,489 of them could be verified in Maine’s voter database as registered Maine voters.

"On Dec. 14, 2015, the organization requested an extension of the five-day verification deadline so what it called 'the extraordinarily high rejection/failure rate' of the enrollment submissions could be investigated. According to the lawsuit, the state double-checked some of the enrollees in larger municipalities.... After that, the revised total was 4,513 — still far short of the threshold of 5,000.

"As a result, Flynn unenrolled all of the Libertarians from the party, essentially making them independents.

"Branson said his clients are continuing to enroll voters in anticipation of the court granting a temporary injunction — which Branson said he’ll file for by next week — that restores the voters’ status as Libertarians.

"The rejection of the organization’s efforts is significant because it bars Maine Libertarians from participating in the primary election process by nominating, voting for or otherwise supporting Libertarian Party candidates at the federal, state or local level. It also barred any Maine citizen from running as a Libertarian....

"Jorge Maderal of Brunswick, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Maine Inc., said his organization relies on donations and spent several thousand dollars paying for the enrollments. He said he’s been working on establishing the Libertarian Party in Maine since 2010 when he left the Navy."

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Gary Johnson announces 2nd presidential bid (video)

Libertarian Gary Johnson launches presidential bid, lowers expectations - POLITICO - Eliza Collins:

January 6, 2015 - "Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson has joined the crowded 2016 presidential race.... ''I am announcing my candidacy right now for the Libertarian nomination,' Johnson said on Fox Business’ Coast to Coast with Neil Cavuto on Wednesday. 'I do believe that crony capitalism is alive and well. It’s Democrats and Republicans that contribute to that. I’d like to be that choice that is not going to succumb to that.'

"Johnson — a self-made millionaire — also ran in 2012 as a member of the Libertarian Party, which advocates for a radically smaller and less powerful federal government.

"In an interview with POLITICO, Johnson vowed to run a completely different campaign than he did in 2012, when he received just 1,275,971 votes, or 0.99 percent of the total electorate. In 2012, he launched his campaign with a splashy event that he said cost thousands; this time, he did it for free on Fox Business, he noted.

"'My voice has not been heard, and speaking with a broad brush stroke, that is someone who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal,' Johnson said.... Libertarians draw as many Democratic votes as they do Republicans, Johnson said, arguing that he could appeal to voters dissatisfied with their options.

"'I’m not saying any of this is gonna transpire, but it just seems to me if Hillary is the nominee (which she is going to be) and if Trump is the nominee (and that appears to be the case), I think you can see a lot of attention to, "Is this all the choices that we have?"' he told POLITICO.

"Johnson resigned from his position as director and CEO of Cannabis Sativa, Inc, a marijuana marketing and packaging company, earlier this week, according to Reason.

"In 2012, the former New Mexico governor was polling between 7 and 13 percent in some key Western states with libertarian-leaning populations.... But in the end, the margins of victory for Mitt Romney (in Arizona) and Barack Obama (in Colorado and New Mexico) were too large for Johnson's support to matter."

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Clint Bolick named to Arizona Supreme Court

Institute for Justice co-founder named to Arizona Supreme Court - The Washington Post - Jonathan H. Adler, The Volokh Conspiracy:

January 6, 2016 - "This morning, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced the appointment of Clint Bolick to the Arizona Supreme Court. The appointment is notable in several respects. This is Ducey’s first Supreme Court appointment. In selecting Bolick, Ducey also went outside party ranks. (Ducey is a Republican; Bolick is an independent.)

"The most notable thing about this appointment is Bolick’s extensive background in libertarian public interest litigation and advocacy of greater judicial protection of property rights and economic liberty. Among other things, Bolick co-founded the Institute for Justice, served as president of the Alliance for School Choice, and (most recently) was vice president for litigation at the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute. Before co-founding IJ, Bolick had worked at the Landmark Legal Foundation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Justice Department. He is also the author of several books, including Unfinished Business: A Civil Rights Strategy for America’s Third Century, David’s Hammer: The Case for an Activist Judiciary,” and, most recently, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution (co-authored with Jeb Bush)....

"In making the appointment, Ducey praised Bolick as a 'nationally renowned and respected as a constitutional law scholar and as a champion of liberty.' According to Ducey, Bolick 'brings extensive experience and expertise, an unwavering regard for the rule of law and a firm commitment to the state and citizens of Arizona. I’m confident Clint will serve impartially and honorably in this important role.'

"Bolick will face an initial retention election in two years, and then every six years thereafter. Justices on the Arizona Supreme Court also must retire at age 70."

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

7 overlooked points about Oregon standoff

7 Crucial Elements Of The #OregonUnderAttack Narrative That Go Overlooked - The Libertarian Republic - Andrew Follett:

"A militia protesting against the Bureau of Land Management seized an unoccupied building in a remote Oregon wildlife refuge over the weekend, prompting massive social media backlash and panicky headlines alleging that the militia were terrorists.... Details like BLM’s mismanagement of land and the long history of quarrels between ranchers and feds almost went unnoticed.

"So we collated the top 7 crucial elements that the narrative overlooked.

1: Nobody Has Been Killed, Hurt, Or Harmed In Any Way

"The protesters in Oregon occupied an empty building in a wildlife refuge that was closed for the holidays and far from any population center. Nobody has been killed or harmed in any way at this point.

2: If The Militia Are Terrorists, Eric Holder And Most Political Protesters Are Also Terrorists

"The problem is that this incredibly low standard makes essentially all political protests terrorism.

"By the standards the media seeks to apply, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is a terrorist for participating in a 1970 armed takeover of former Columbia University Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) office.... This definition would make BlackLivesMatter, Greenpeace, and most student activist groups terrorists. BlackLivesMatter participated in “acts dangerous to human life” when they stopped traffic in Seattle. Greenpeace did the same when they hung off a bridge in Portland to stop an icebreaker from leaving the harbor. Student groups regularly occupy buildings.

3: The Federal Government Owns A Lot Of The West, Which Increases Tensions With Locals

"Close to half of the western United States is owned by the federal government through agencies like the Bureau Of Land Management.... Calls to return federal land in the West to state government management are nearly constant, particularly from ranchers, and the legal case for doing so is strong. At the beginning of statehood, the federal government promised all states that it would give them public lands within their borders. The U.S. Supreme Court has called these promises 'solemn compacts,' 'bilateral (two-way) agreements,' and 'solemn trusts' that must be performed 'in a timely fashion.'

4: The Bureau Of Land Management Is Horrible At Managing Land

"The militia says they are protesting Bureau of Land Management (BLM) control over federal lands, which has pushed out people who use the land for work and recreation. The agency is generally agreed to do a very poor job of managing the land. The BLM puts severe restrictions on natural resource development, tends to be a very poor land steward, places strict limitations on access, and doesn’t make much money off the land it manages....

"To make matters worse, BLM agency officials often view the ranchers as freeloaders and their livestock as invasive species which damage the habitat for native fish and wildlife, according to the libertarian Cato Institute.

5: There’s No Evidence Race Has Anything To Do With The Federal Response

"Left wing personalities and media outlets have stated that 'if the Oregon militiamen were Muslim or black, they’d probably be dead by now.' [Yet] activists associated with BlackLivesMatter occupied a St. Louis police department in December of 2014. Native American activists occupied federal property on Alcatraz Island after the prison closed for nearly 19 months without a federal response. Student activists regularly occupy building at state schools....

6: The Militia Has Repeatedly Said They’re Not Going To Get Violent

7: Obama Is Using The Panic To Implement Gun Control By Executive Order

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Monday, January 4, 2016

Maine LP denied party status: SoS failed to process all registrations

Maine Secretary of State Denies Libertarian Party’s Ballot Access | Ballot Access News - Richard Winger:

December 9, 2015 - "On December 9, the Maine Secretary of State said the Libertarian Party is not a qualified party. The law says a new party can qualify by having at least 5,000 registered members by December 1 of the odd year before the election. The Libertarian Party submitted approximately 6,400 registration cards, but election officials only processed 4,489 by December 1. There are enough unprocessed registration cards to put the party over the 5,000 requirement, but the Secretary of State says they don’t count because they haven’t yet been processed.

"It is extremely likely that the December 1 deadline is unconstitutionally early. Courts have struck down early petition or registration deadlines for a group to qualify for party status in Alabama (April was too early), Arkansas (January was too early), California (January was too early), Idaho (May was too early), Nebraska (February was too early), Nevada (April was too early), New Mexico (April was too early), Ohio (November of the year before the election was too early), South Dakota (February was too early), and Tennessee (April was too early). All of those were procedures to qualify a party, not procedures for candidates."

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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Toronto man charged with 'criminal' tweeting gets crowdfunding help with legal bills

Only The Internet Can Save Gregory Alan Elliott - Milo Yiannopoulos, Breitbart News:

November 17, 2015 - "His name is Gregory Alan Elliott. He has been on trial for three years, in a costly Canadian court battle with drastic implications for free speech. For two years, he was banned from the internet, where he previously earned much of his income. His artwork, hanging in a local coffee shop in Toronto, was recently defaced by a mob of enraged activists.

"Crippled by loss of work and the ongoing court case, Elliott and his family have been forced to turn to an online crowdfunding campaign to cover their legal costs. What did he do to bring about such persecution?... Elliott criticised feminists on the internet.

"The story begins in 2012.... Stephanie Guthrie, a young Toronto woman looking to raise her media profile, had a bright idea: she would lead a Twitter mob against a critic of professional feminist whingebag Anita Sarkeesian....Her target was Ben Spurr, an unruly video games designer who had created a game that allowed players to punch an image of Sarkeesian in the face.... Guthrie plotted to 'sic the internet' on Spurr, in a way that would 'impact his real-life experience'.... Elliott, a well-known local artist who closely followed Toronto’s online political scene, objected to Guthrie’s plan to ruin Spurr’s life. Online mob justice was 'every bit as vicious as the face-punch game,' he tweeted....

"In November 2012, Guthrie accused Elliott of 'criminal harassment' on the basis of his tweets. She was joined by ... Toronto feminists Heather Riley and Paisley Rae. With no evidence showing that Elliott’s tweets were in any way threatening – the arresting officer, Jeff Bangild, admitted as much in court ... Elliott was arrested, detained and charged by the Canadian crown....

"According to Gregory Elliott’s son, Clayton, the Canadian courts initially sought to detain him for the duration of his trial.... Eventually, the Crown was persuaded to grant bail, although, as part of his bail conditions, Elliott was prohibited from using 'the internet and any device with access to the internet.' A graphics designer by trade, this was crippling to his career. Before he even had a chance to figure out how to continue doing his job of 17 years with these restrictive bail conditions, he was fired without cause. Forced to withdraw his pension early, the 55-year old father of four has spent more than $50,000 in legal fees, and still owes a further $40,000.

"Guthrie and Riley do not need to win their case. Without a serious surge in his crowdfunding campaign, Elliott’s livelihood has already been destroyed. The process has been the punishment – and it is still not over yet.

"Christie Blatchford of Canada’s National Post describes how his accusers 'convened a meeting of friends to discuss how Elliott should be publicly shamed; they bombarded their followers with furious tweets and retweets about him (including a grotesque suggestion from someone pretending she was a 13-year-old that he was a pedophile); they could and did dish it out.'

"Paisley Rae, one of the women who accused Elliott, has mates at the Toronto PD.... Twitter archives show that Rae has maintained a friendly relationship with Detective Jeff Bangild, the officer in charge of the Elliott case, since early 2012. In 2013, while she was still a complainant in the Elliott case, she was still giving Bangild public pep talks on his social media presentations.... Rae, with her close connections to Toronto Police, dropped out of the trial. But it didn’t matter. Elliott had already been charged....

"Freedom of Tweets, a campaign launched today on behalf of Gregory Alan Elliott ... hopes to raise the $100,000 paid by Elliott in legal fees, and repair some of the damage to his livelihood and public reputation.

"The campaign is co-ordinated by an acquaintance of mine, Lauren Southern, a ferocious Canadian libertarian activist.... Southern told me today: 'I hope that supporters of free speech on the web will recognise the importance of this case, and lend their support to Gregory Alan Elliott. Some good can come of this if we show the world that the public will be galvanised when an individual’s free speech is threatened.'"

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Saturday, January 2, 2016

John McAfee enters Libertarian presidential race

Anti-Virus Pioneer John McAfee Enters Libertarian Party Presidential Race - Hit & Run : - Brian Doherty:

December 28, 2015 - "John McAfee is the 70-year-old founder of the antivirus software firm that bears his name (though he has not been actively involved with it since 1994, and the company was bought by Intel in 2010). He's also a colorful world adventurer who has been candid about his extreme exploits in everything from drug use (and sales) to private home antibiotic-tech experimentation. He is also seeking the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party (L.P.), he announced last week....

"While McAfee had been planning since September to launch a presidential run under the rubric of a new 'Cyber Party,' McAfee says in a phone interview this morning that he changed his mind when he realized getting meaningful ballot access from a standing start like that for a third party is effectively impossible (which is just as the major party forces who write and enforce ballot access laws intend it).

"Since McAfee thinks his ideas about government largely match that of the Libertarian Party, and since that party has since its 1972 debut on the national presidential stage managed to win ballot access in the vast majority of states, he decided he'd be better off seeking its nomination. Some Libertarian Party officials had already reached out to him to discuss the possibilities that he might have something to offer the L.P., and the L.P. something to offer him.

"McAfee says that he abruptly decided last week, without consulting with his former Cyber Party brethren, to go to USA Today with the scoop that he intends to run as a Libertarian when he knew the fresh party route was a no-go....

"When I ask if he always considered his politics libertarian, McAfee corrects me: politics is 'procedure and actions required to gain power and hold power in government, and I want to be divorced from that term.' But he says his personal beliefs 'align 100 percent with the Libertarian Party. Government is too large, welfare is an insidious drain on the soul, on society, and personal freedom is the one thing that keeps us whole as human beings ... my view of the world was libertarian before the word' was even in wide use.

"But he stresses things he thinks the government must do well that it's not doing well now, such as preparing for the 'cyberwarfare' that he knows is coming. That war 'is going to be far more devastating than anything in our imagination.' For a man who made his fortune in antivirus work, 'it's what I know best, and I know for a fact' that cyberwar looms.

"While McAfee's fortune was reported to have maxed out as high as $100 million, most of it is gone. He is not, he says, in a position to independently fund his campaign but 'I have smart people who I think will solve' any fundraising problems.... But because of his background and character, 'it's no secret I have no trouble getting press.' He says he will appear on Steve Colbert's show around January 5th, and that 'I have access to people' in media that no other L.P. hopeful does."

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