Thursday, August 31, 2017

Indiana's civil forfeiture law ruled unconstitutional

Federal Judge Rules Indiana Seizing Cars With Civil Forfeiture Is Unconstitutional - Nick Sibilla, Institute for Justice - Forbes:

August 31, 2017 - "In a major win for private property rights, a federal judge ruled that Indiana can no longer seize vehicles under its controversial civil forfeiture laws, which allow police to confiscate property without filing criminal charges. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson ruled that Indiana's laws were unconstitutional because they failed to provide a timely hearing for the property owner to contest the seizure.

"The decision comes just days after Hoosier lawmakers held a summer study committee to discuss forfeiture reform, and less than a month after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new policy to expand police seizures nationwide.

"The case began last September when an officer with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department pulled over Leroy Washington and found a small amount of cannabis. Police charged Washington with dealing marijuana and seized his car.... Washington ... filed a federal class-action lawsuit last November on behalf of other owners whose cars were held by law enforcement in Indianapolis. Between November 2016 and February 2017, those agencies seized at least 169 vehicles, or 11 cars per week on average.

"The lawsuit claimed that Indiana’s forfeiture laws violated the car owners’ right to due process, as guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. In Indiana, once property is seized, law enforcement can take up to 180 days to file a forfeiture complaint [and] the property owner cannot challenge the seizure during that months-long hold period. That is because, under state law, seized property is 'not subject to replevin,' a process that would allow the owners to regain wrongfully taken property while awaiting trial....

"As Judge Magnus-Stinson noted, losing one’s car for months on end 'could cause significant hardship'.... In order to prevent 'erroneous deprivation' and to safeguard due process, property owners must be 'provided with some sort of mechanism through which to challenge whether continued deprivation is justifiable.' But Indiana’s forfeiture laws ban replevin and do not allow any other 'opportunity for interim relief'....

"'Allowing for the seizure and retention of vehicles,' she wrote, 'without providing an opportunity for an individual to challenge the pre-forfeiture deprivation [is] unconstitutional.'"

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Herpes vaccine trials go offshore to avoid FDA

Offshore Human Testing Of Herpes Vaccine Stokes Debate Over U.S. Safety Rules - Marisa Taylor, Kaiser Health News:

August 28, 2017 - "Defying U.S. safety protections for human trials, an American university and a group of wealthy libertarians ... are backing the offshore testing of an experimental herpes vaccine.

"The American businessmen, including Trump adviser Peter Thiel, invested $7 million in the ongoing vaccine research, according to the U.S. company behind it. Southern Illinois University also trumpeted the research and the study’s lead researcher, even though he did not rely on traditional U.S. safety oversight in the first trial, held on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts.

"Neither the Food and Drug Administration nor a safety panel known as an institutional review board, or an 'IRB,' monitored the testing of a vaccine its creators say prevents herpes outbreaks. Most of the 20 participants were Americans with herpes who were flown to the island several times to be vaccinated, according to Rational Vaccines, the company that oversaw the trial....

"'This is a test case,' said Bartley Madden, a retired Credit Suisse banker and policy adviser to the conservative Heartland Institute, who is another investor in the vaccine. 'The FDA is standing in the way, and Americans are going to hear about this and demand action'....

"Agustín Fernández III co-founded­ Rational Vaccines with tenured SIU professor William Halford. He said Halford, the lead investigator, took the necessary precautions during the trial conducted from April to August in 2016. Halford died of cancer in June....

"Fernández, a former Hollywood filmmaker, said he and his investors plan to submit the trial data to the FDA in hopes of getting the vaccine approved for treatment. If the FDA does not respond favorably, he said, the company will continue its trials in Mexico and Australia. Fernández said he hopes to set up an IRB for these next trials. No matter what, he plans to manufacture the vaccine offshore....

"Fernández said he hoped the trials would put political pressure on the FDA to give the vaccine a closer look. He said his vaccine would be initially aimed at helping patients who experience the 'worst of the worst' symptoms. He believed the vaccine eventually would be shown to be effective in preventing the spread of the disease. According to the CDC, about 1 in 6 people ages 14 to 49 have genital herpes....

"Before the trial, Halford tested the vaccine on himself and Fernández. After he failed to secure federal funding and an IRB, Halford moved ahead with the trial offshore....

"The results have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal and Halford’s previous attempt to publish was rejected.... Yet some herpes patients, who are part of a tight-knit online community, have followed the project with hope and enthusiasm. One American participant ... Richard Mancuso said ... the vaccine has stopped his severe outbreaks. 'This has saved my life,' he said."

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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How "anti-fascist" violence enables fascism

Using Violence Against Fascists Plays Right into Their Hands - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world - Laurie Maurhofer:

August 28, 2017 - "After the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, many people are asking themselves what they should do if Nazis rally in their city. Should they put their bodies on the line in counter demonstrations? Some say yes. History says no. Take it from me: I study the original Nazis....

"Charlottesville was right out of the Nazi playbook. In the 1920s, the Nazi Party was just one political party among many.... It was in 1927, while still on the political fringes, that the Nazi Party scheduled a rally in a decidedly hostile location – the Berlin district of Wedding. Wedding was so left-of-center that the neighborhood had the nickname “Red Wedding,” red being the color of the Communist Party....

"The people of Wedding were determined to fight back against fascism in their neighborhood. On the day of the rally, hundreds of Nazis descended on Wedding. Hundreds of their opponents showed up too, organized by the local Communist Party. The anti-fascists tried to disrupt the rally, heckling the speakers. Nazi thugs retaliated. There was a massive brawl. Almost 100 people were injured.

"I imagine the people of Wedding felt they ... had courageously sent a message: Fascism was not welcome. But historians believe events like the rally in Wedding helped the Nazis build a dictatorship. Yes, the brawl got them media attention. But what was far, far more important was how it fed an escalating spiral of street violence. That violence helped the fascists enormously....

"We know now that many Germans supported the fascists because they were terrified of leftist violence in the streets. Germans opened their morning newspapers and saw reports of clashes like the one in Wedding. It looked like a bloody tide of civil war was rising in their cities. Voters and opposition politicians alike came to believe the government needed special police powers to stop violent leftists. Dictatorship grew attractive. The fact that the Nazis themselves were fomenting the violence didn’t seem to matter.

"One of Hitler’s biggest steps to dictatorial power was to gain emergency police powers, which he claimed he needed to suppress leftist violence....

"Today, right extremists are going around the country staging rallies just like the one in 1927 in Wedding. According to the civil rights advocacy organization the Southern Poverty Law Center, they pick places where they know antifascists are present, like university campuses. They come spoiling for a physical confrontation. Then they and their allies spin it to their advantage....

"There’s an additional wrinkle: the Antifa. When Nazis and white supremacists rally, the Antifa are likely to show up, too. 'Antifa' is short for anti-fascists, though the name by no means includes everyone who opposes fascism. The Antifa is a relatively small movement of the far left, with ties to anarchism. It arose in Europe’s punk scene in the 1980s to fight neo-Nazism. The Antifa says that because Nazism and white supremacy are violent, we must use any means necessary to stop them. This includes physical means.... The Antifa's tactics often backfire, just like those of Germany’s communist opposition to Nazism did in the 1920s....

"The cause Heather Heyer died for is best defended by avoiding the physical confrontation that the people who are responsible for her death want."

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Anti-cannabis group uses RICO against industry

How Anti-Mafia Laws Could Bring Down Legal Pot - Rolling Stone - Amanda Chicago Lewis:

August 28, 2017 - "Earlier this summer, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado decided that the 'noxious odors' from a pot farm could be lowering nearby property values and creating a nuisance. The decision came out of a civil suit by the farm's neighbors under federal racketeering law, and could set a landmark precedent. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and this decision makes clear that private citizens can now circumvent state law and do what Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants but has yet to do: challenge the legitimacy of states and businesses participating in legalization....

"The whole thing is being paid for by a D.C.-based nonprofit called the Safe Streets Alliance – an obscure anti-drug organization that the opposing side's lawyer has called 'a fake organization' and 'a sham.' No one knows who exactly belongs to the Safe Streets Alliance, or where their money comes from. The attorney representing Safe Streets Alliance, Brian Barnes, says he can't provide any details about the group's funding and membership, citing attorney-client confidentiality, but ... [t]hose affiliated with the group have legitimate public health and cultural concerns about legalization ... and don't think that states should be allowed to so flagrantly violate federal law....

"[T]he Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as RICO... has helped the Department of Justice go after top people in the mafia, say, or in the bribe-infested soccer organization FIFA, for crimes committed by their affiliates. RICO also allows private citizens to bring civil suits against anyone who assists in the committing of a crime that harms their property or business.

"RICO's whole notion of 'racketeering' creates a useful but alarming tautology, depending on the case and your point of view. To accuse someone of racketeering, or to seek damages under racketeering, is to go after them for the crime of committing a crime. Because marijuana remains federally illegal, literally everyone involved in state-legal pot markets is vulnerable under RICO....

"A handful of major RICO lawsuits could be enough to scare many legal cannabis operators out of existence – not to mention the potential financial consequences: RICO plaintiffs are entitled to receive triple damages, as well as attorneys' fees.

"'Things like this sort of take on a life of their own, and somebody who is obviously anti-cannabis has decided to push it. They think that this is the Achilles' heel," says influential California attorney Henry Wykowski, who has argued on behalf of cannabis operators in federal court several times. "It is scary stuff. I just hope that the defendants get really good lawyers, because this could have an effect on the entire industry."

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

TIME on post-millennials: "they're libertarians"

Millennials and the iGen Are Not as Progressive as You Think | - Jean M. Twenge:

August 22, 2017 - "Twenge is a Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University and the author of iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids are Growing up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood.

"Today’s young Americans, who include both Millennials (born 1980–‘94) and iGen (1995–2012), represent the future of the political landscape: 18- to 29-year-olds are now an equal or a larger percentage of voters than those over 65. Given that, it’s crucial to understand why nearly two out of five iGen’ers and young Millennials voted for not just a Republican candidate but a candidate affiliated with a white nationalism many thought had died out long before iGen was born.

"First, young voters — especially iGen — are more conservative than is often assumed. In my analyses of the nationally representative yearly survey Monitoring the Future, the percentage of high school seniors who identified as conservative rose from 23% in 2000 to 29% in 2015, creating a group more conservative than the Reagan-era GenX teens of the 1980s.... Nor is iGen the post-racial, post-prejudice group some have assumed. Although iGen and the Millennials stand apart from older generations in their support for LGBT issues, at the moment they are not much more supportive of gender or racial equality than Boomers and GenX’ers are....

"iGen’s other social and political beliefs also defy expectations. Compared to previous generations when they were young in these national surveys, iGen is more likely to support abortion rights, same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana and less likely to support the death penalty — usually considered liberal beliefs. But they are also less likely to support gun control, national health care and government environmental regulation....

"How can iGen hold these seemingly contradictory beliefs? In short, because they’re libertarians (or at least more libertarian than their elders). iGen was raised in a highly individualistic culture favoring the self over the group; phrases such as 'do what’s right for you' and 'believe in yourself and anything is possible' echoed through their childhood. Libertarianism is as close to cultural individualism as can be found in the political arena, favoring individual rights and fighting against government regulation. Liberals tend to be individualistic about equal rights issues (say, same-sex marriage) but collectivistic about social programs (government-sponsored health care). Conservatives are individualistic about social programs (thinking people should help themselves) but collectivistic about equal rights issues (thinking traditional roles are more productive). But libertarians are individualistic about both....

"Individualism has also led iGen and Millennials to favor one thing above all else in politicians: Authenticity. Individualism promotes 'come as you are' and 'just be yourself,' and iGen’ers want their candidates to be — or at least seem — unwavering in their personal beliefs.... Donald Trump fit this as well: For all his prevaricating, many said they voted for him because he says exactly what he thinks.

"Individualism has brought both equality and reactions against it, both support for individual rights and a dislike of group solutions. With 54% of young voters identifying as political independents, conventional politicians face an uphill battle trying to attract them. Yet the candidate who does — likely authentic, casual and libertarian in her positions — will hold the key to the next political era."

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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Ron Paul: Oppose right and left authoritarianism

Ron Paul: We Must Oppose Fascism Of the Right and Left | News and views from a different angle - Market Slant:

August 22, 2017 - "Following the recent clashes between the alt-right and the group antifa, some libertarians have debated which group they should support. The answer is simple: neither. The alt-right and its leftist opponents are two sides of the same authoritarian coin.

"The alt-right elevates racial identity over individual identity. The obsession with race leads them to support massive government interference in the economy in order to benefit members of the favored race. They also favor massive welfare and entitlement spending, as long as it functions as a racial spoils system.... No one who sincerely supports individual liberty, property rights, or the right to life can have any sympathy for this type of racial collectivism.

"Antifa, like all Marxists, elevates class identity over individual identity. Antifa supporters believe government must run the economy because otherwise workers will be exploited by greedy capitalists. This faith in central planning ignores economic reality, as well as the reality that in a free market employers and workers voluntarily work together for their mutual benefit. It is only when government intervenes in the economy that crony capitalists have the opportunity to exploit workers, consumers, and taxpayers....

"Ironically, the failure of the Keynesian model of economic authoritarianism, promoted by establishment economists like Paul Krugman, is responsible for the rise of the alt-right and antifa.... [M]any Americans continue to struggle with unemployment and a Federal Reserve-caused eroding standard of living. History shows that economic hardship causes many to follow demagogues offering easy solutions and convenient scapegoats....

"As the Keynesian-Krugman empire of big government and fiat currency collapses, more people will be attracted to authoritarianism, leading to an increase in violence. The only way to ensure the current system is not replaced with something even worse is for those of us who know the truth to work harder to spread the ideas of liberty.

"While we should be willing to form coalitions with individuals of good will across the political spectrum, we must never align with anyone promoting violence as a solution to social and economic problems. We must also oppose any attempts to use the violence committed by extremists as a justification for expanding the police state or infringing on free speech....

"Libertarians have several advantages in the ideological battle... First, we do not need to resort to scapegoating and demagoguing, as we have the truth about the welfare-warfare state and the Federal Reserve on our side. We also offer a realistic way to restore prosperity. But our greatest advantage is that, while authoritarianism divides people by race, class, religion, or other differences, the cause of liberty unites all who seek peace and prosperity."

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Copyright © 2017 by Ron Paul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Venezuelans turn to bitcoin as currency collapses

Why Venezuelans Are Turning to Bitcoin Mining - The Atlantic - Rene Chun:

September 2017 issue - "In Venezuela, home to some of the worst hyperinflation since the Weimar Republic, a Big Mac costs about half a month’s wages. Or rather, it did, until a bread shortage forced the burger off the menu. The annual inflation rate is expected to hit 1,600 percent. Life resembles an old newsreel: long lines, empty shelves, cashiers weighing stacks of bills.

"To survive, thousands of Venezuelans have taken to minería bitcoin — mining bitcoin, the cryptocurrency. Lend computer processing power to the blockchain (the bitcoin network’s immense, decentralized ledger) and you will be rewarded with bitcoin. To contribute more data-crunching power, and earn more bitcoin, people operate racks of specialized computers known as 'miners.' Whether a mining operation is profitable hinges on two main factors: bitcoin’s market value — which has hit record highs this year — and the price of electricity, needed to run the powerful hardware.

"Electricity, it so happens, is one thing most Venezuelans can afford: Under the socialist regime of President Nicolás Maduro, power is so heavily subsidized that it is practically free. A person running several bitcoin miners can clear $500 a month. That’s a small fortune in Venezuela today, enough to feed a family of four and purchase vital goods — baby diapers, say, or insulin — online....

"But recently, Maduro has begun cracking down on mining operations, apparently finding in them a convenient political scapegoat — much as he calls those who seek to profit off inflation “capitalist parasites.” Yet trading bitcoin is still condoned. It’s as if Maduro realizes that cryptocurrency is one of the few things holding the country together.

"Because Venezuela has no cryptocurrency laws, police have arrested mine operators on spurious charges. Their first target, Joel Padrón, who owns a courier service and started mining to supplement his income, was charged with energy theft and possession of contraband and detained for 14 weeks. Since then, other bitcoin rigs have been seized — and, in many cases, rebooted by corrupt police for personal profit....

"Venezuela’s most resourceful miners ... are moving on to a new inflation-buster: the cryptocurrency ether (ETH). The profit margins are higher and, more important, the risk factor is much lower. 'Mining ETH or bitcoin is pretty much the same principle: using free electricity to generate cash,' one Venezuelan miner told me. 'But ETH mining is more affordable — all you need is free software and a PC with a video card. Any police officer is easily fooled into thinking your ETH miner is just a regular computer.'"

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Freedom of speech mauled in Boston

A free-speech rally, minus the free speech - The Boston Globe - Jeff Jacoby:

Ausust 21, 2017 - "Participants in the 'Boston Free Speech Rally' had been demonized as a troupe of neo-Nazis prepared to reprise the horror that had erupted in Charlottesville. They turned out to be a couple dozen courteous people linked by little more than a commitment to — surprise! — free speech....

"Indeed, nothing about the tiny rally seemed in any way connected with bigotry or hatred. One of the speakers was Shiva Ayyadurai, an immigrant from India who is seeking the Republican nomination in next year’s US Senate race. As Ayyadurai spoke, his supporters held signs proclaiming 'Black Lives Do Matter.'

"But he and the others who gathered at the Parkman Bandstand had never stood a chance of competing with the rumor that neo-Nazis were coming to Boston. That toxic claim was irresponsibly fueled by Mayor Marty Walsh, who denounced the planned rally — 'Boston does not want you here'....

"A massive counterprotest, 40,000 strong, showed up to denounce a nonexistent cohort of racists. Boston deployed hundreds of police officers, who did an admirable job of maintaining order. Some of the counterprotesters screamed, cursed, or acted like thugs — at one point the Boston Police Department warned protesters 'to refrain from throwing urine, bottles, and other harmful projectiles' — but most behaved appropriately....

"The speakers on the Common bandstand were kept from being heard. They were blocked off with a 225-foot buffer zone, segregated beyond earshot. Police barred anyone from approaching to hear what the rally speakers had to say. Reporters were excluded, too.... The free-speech rally took place in a virtual cone of silence....

"Even some of the rally’s own would-be attendees were kept from the bandstand. Yet when Police Commissioner Bill Evans was asked at a press conference Saturday afternoon whether it was right to treat them that way, he was unapologetic. 'You know what,' he said, 'if they didn’t get in, that’s a good thing, because their message isn’t what we want to hear.'

"No, Commissioner Evans. It was not a 'good thing' that people with a right to speak were effectively silenced by the operations of the police. The ralliers did nothing wrong.... They absorbed the slanders flung at them by the mayor and others. They didn’t try to shut their critics down, and they weren’t the ones hurling 'urine, bottles, and other harmful projectiles.'

"All they were guilty of was attempting to defend the importance of free speech. For that, they were unjustly smeared as Nazis and their own freedom of speech was mauled."

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This column is adapted from the current issue of Arguable, Jeff Jacoby’s weekly email newsletter.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

CBC equates 'radical libertarianism' with racism

Does Canada take the threat of far-right extremism seriously? - Montreal - CBC News - Jonathan Montpetit:

August 16, 2017 - "Despite the recent racist violence in the U.S., and an increase in right-wing extremist activity here in Canada, experts disagree about whether Ottawa should make such groups a national security priority.

"Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Canada's intelligence community has devoted much of its attention to preventing Islamist terrorism.

"While right-wing extremism, including the activities of neo-Nazi and other racist groups, is monitored by CSIS and the RCMP, it doesn't receive the same amount of resources as threats from ISIS or al-Qaeda.

"Yet the outburst of deadly racist violence in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend is not without parallels in Canada. Recent estimates suggest there are dozens of active white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups across the country.

"They advocate everything from biological racism to anti-Semitism to radical libertarianism."

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Rand Paul: Bring troops home from Afghanistan

OPINION | Sen. Rand Paul: 16 years on, it's past time to bring our troops home from Afghanistan | TheHill:

August 21, 2017 - "The Trump administration is increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan and, by doing so, keeping us involved even longer in a 16-year-old war that has long since gone past its time.

"The mission in Afghanistan has lost its purpose, and I think it is a terrible idea to send any more troops into that war. It’s time to come home now.

"Our war in Afghanistan began in a proper fashion. We were attacked on 9/11. The Taliban, who then controlled Afghanistan, were harboring al Qaeda, and after being warned, and after an authorization from Congress, our military executed a plan to strike back. Had I been in Congress then, I would have voted to authorize this military action.

"But as is typical, there was significant mission creep in Afghanistan. We went from striking back against those who attacked us, to regime change, to nation-building, to policing their country for them. And we do it all now with an authorization that is flimsy at best, with the reason blurred, and the costs now known. We do it with an authorization that was debated and passed before some of our newest military personnel were out of diapers. This isn’t fair to them, to the American people, or to a rational foreign policy.

"The Afghanistan war going beyond its original mission has an enormous cost. First and most important is the cost to our troops. Deaths, injuries and unnecessary deployments causing harm to families are certainly the most important reason as to why you don’t go to wars that aren’t necessary.

"Then comes the taxpayer. We have spent over $1 trillion in Afghanistan, and nearly $5 trillion on Middle East wars in the past 15 years. Would we not be better off with $5 trillion less in debt or using these funds in other, more productive ways?...

"I’ve spoken to the president, and I know he wants to end this war. We’ve all heard him say it. But talk won’t get it done.... He knows this war is over, and he – unlike the last two presidents – should have the guts to end it for real, on his watch."

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Monday, August 21, 2017

Buchman runs on tax reform in UT special election

Op-ed: Why you should consider the Libertarian candidate for the 3rd District | Deseret News - Joe Buchman:

August 18, 2017 - "On Aug. 16, Republicans in the 3rd District finally chose a candidate to fill the empty seat formerly held by Jason Chaffetz. Because this was a three-way race with no run-off, the fiscally responsible voters of the 3rd District were divided, and as a result, the GOP candidate for this fall will be the least fiscally responsible, least free market oriented of the three. And this is in Utah’s most fiscally responsible congressional district.

"On the Democratic side, we have a candidate advocating an even more aggressive federal government micromanaging of health care from D.C., raising the tax and debt burden on every American....

"[T]he records and statements of the Democrat and the Republican in this race present two candidates with only slight differences in their tax and spending policies. With Congress discussing the critical issue of tax reform in the coming year, it is critical that the fiscally responsible people of Utah are represented by a true voice for substantive tax reform....

"Despite what you are hearing from the media and the political elite, there is another option, a reasonable option that will give the 3rd District a determined and knowledgeable voice on tax reform for one year.... If you vote for the Libertarian candidate in this election, you will be voting for principled tax reform you can trust that no matter what happens, your representative will represent your interests and not be beholden to the Democrats and Republicans who keep their freshman members on a tight leash.

"If you vote for the Libertarian, you will have a representative for one year who will not be forced to focus on re-election, and who will instead work every day to provide real reform in Washington....

"Here is the bottom line, this candidate will only hold office for one year before a new election is held. By sending the Libertarian to Washington, you will have the time to focus on finding a candidate for the 3rd District that truly represents Utah values. You have an opportunity to vote for the only candidate who was nominated at a convention rather than in a well-funded primary. A candidate with an MBA in finance, a career in education and a principled stand. A candidate who will enjoy the support of the leaders of the national Liberty Movement. There are so many reasons to vote for the Libertarian this November, take a risk and vote for Dr. Joe Buchman."

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Cards Against Humanity introduces Weed Pack to fund cannabis legalization efforts

Cards Against Humanity is Trying to Help Legalize Recreational Marijuana in Illinois | - Will Yackowitz, Inc.:

August 7, 2017 - "Cards Against Humanity, the maker of the 'party game for horrible people,' is donating money to the Marijuana Policy Project to help the nonprofit's efforts to legalize adult-use marijuana in Illinois, the card-game company announced.

"The Chicago-based company raised the money from sales of its 'Weed Pack,' a special edition of cannabis-themed cards. The proceeds of the Weed Pack, which sells for $5, will be donated to the organization until Illinois legalizes adult-use marijuana in the state, the company said. In March, two bills were introduced in Illinois to regulate and tax the sale of cannabis for people age 21 and older.

"Cards Against Humanity co-creator Max Temkin said the company views the U.S.'s federal marijuana policy as a failure.

"'For us, this is a common-sense issue of racial justice, health justice and criminal justice. State and national politics are incredibly screwed up right now, but it gives us hope to think that we can make progress on these kind of common-sense issues that everyone supports,' said Temkin.

"A recent poll found that 66 percent of Illinois voters support regulating marijuana for recreational use for adults, similar to alcohol regulation....

"In the past two years, Cards Against Humanity donated about $4 million to different charities, and more than $1 million to internet privacy foundations."

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Paleolibertarianism's appeal to the alt.right

The Rhetoric of Libertarians and the Unfortunate Appeal to the Alt-Right - Bleeding Heart Libertarians - Steve Horwitz:

August 4, 2017 - "The paleo-libertarian seed that Ron Paul, Murray Rothbard, and Lew Rockwell planted in the 1990s has come to bear some really ugly fruit in the last couple of years as elements of the alt-right have made appearances in various libertarian organizations and venues. Back in February, alt-right hero Richard Spencer stirred up a fuss at the International Students for Liberty Conference in DC after being invited to hang out by a group of students calling themselves the “Hoppe Caucus.” Hans-Hermann Hoppe, long associated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute as well as a panoply of racists and anti-Semites, is perhaps the most popular gateway drug for the alt-right incursion into libertarianism.

"And within the last couple of weeks, Jeff Deist, president of the Mises Institute delivered a talk to students at Mises University entitled “For a New Libertarian.” In that talk, he knocks down an extended strawman of what he thinks constitutes the libertarianism he wants them to reject – what many might call “left-libertarianism'.... Most controversially, Deist, after continuing to argue that family, faith, and the like are the cultural glue that humans need and that libertarians should focus on, decided to end with:
In other words, blood and soil and God and nation still matter to people. Libertarians ignore this at the risk of irrelevance.
"For those who know something about the history of the 20th century, the invocation of 'blood and soil' as something that libertarians should recognize as a valid concern and should appeal to should be chilling. That phrase, which has a history going back at least to the 19th century, was central to the Nazi movement and was at the core of their justification for eliminating those people who did not have connections to the German homeland. It remains a watchword of the nastiest elements on the right, as a quick visit to will demonstrate....

"Perhaps Deist didn’t know all of that. If so, one would expect a decent person to immediately apologize for using that phrase that way in that context. To my knowledge, no such apology has appeared. On the assumption that he is not, in fact, a Nazi, the explanation left standing is that he and his defenders have no problem using rhetoric that will attract those sympathetic to Nazi-like views about nativism and Jews. It’s that lack of concern about engaging in that sort of rhetoric, if not a positive willingness to do so, that is so troubling here, and it is eating away at the liberal roots of libertarianism.....

As I pointed out with the Paul newsletters, all of this appeal to nativism, racism, and anti-Semitism and the like is in deep conflict with libertarianism’s liberalism. It’s particularly in conflict with the liberal cosmopolitanism of someone like Mises. And the use of Nazi language is especially galling as it was the very 'blood and soil' crowd who drove the Jewish Mises out of Vienna....

"Our history is one of liberal tolerance, universalism, and cosmopolitanism, putting the freedom and harmony of all people ahead of the supposed interests of any parochial sub-group, and especially ones defined by the artificial boundaries of nation-states and their subsets. Libertarians ignore this at the risk of irrelevance."

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Friday, August 18, 2017

SCOTUS rejects joint forfeiture liability

SCOTUS Limits Criminal Forfeiture in 'Honeycutt' | New York Law Journal - Steven Kessler:

August 17, 2017 - "With the enactment of the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA), Congress sought to steer federal prosecutors to criminal forfeiture.... Congress believed that the risk of abuse would be reduced because a criminal conviction is required before a defendant's property can be forfeited in a criminal proceeding.

"Unfortunately, it turned out that greater reliance on criminal forfeiture increased abuses in that area as well. Examples include plea agreements where the criminal defendant purportedly consents to forfeit property that does not belong to him ... and so-called 'money judgment forfeitures,' a judge-made loophole that allows the government to forfeit property without ... the government trac[ing] the property sought to be forfeited to the defendant's criminal activity. Another form of criminal forfeiture abuse is the imposition of joint and several liability ... the government could simply 'pick a number' and then enforce it against every defendant alleged to have been involved in the criminal activity....

"The Roberts-led Supreme Court hinted at some dissatisfaction with the state of criminal forfeiture law in recent decisions, but the rifle shot came in its June 5, 2017 decision in Honeycutt v. United States. Unconcerned with the fact that virtually every circuit court that has addressed the issue had ruled otherwise, the Supreme Court unanimously and unequivocally rejected the application of joint and several liability in criminal forfeiture cases.

"The Honeycutt brothers were prosecuted under the federal drug laws for selling suspiciously large quantities of a legal product that they knew or should have known would likely have been used to manufacture methamphetamine.... Tony Honeycutt owned the store while Terry Honeycutt managed sales and inventory as an employee with no ownership interest in the business.

"The government sought a money judgment against each brother in the total of $269,751.98, which it asserted was the store's profits from the sale of the product.... Tony, the store owner, pled guilty and agreed to forfeit $200,000. Terry went to trial and was convicted on 11 of 14 counts.... Although it conceded that Terry ... did not benefit personally from the sales ...the government ... sought a money judgment of $69,751.98 against Terry....

"The [Supreme Court] found that the statute 'defines forfeitable property solely in terms of personal possession or use'.... Further, the court found, criminal forfeiture statutes consistently separate the treatment of tainted property from that of untainted property.... This provision, the court held, demonstrates that 'Congress did not authorize the Government to confiscate substitute property from other defendants or co-conspirators; it authorized the Government to confiscate assets only from the defendant who initially acquired the property and who bears responsibility for its dissipation'.... ....

"As Honeycutt makes clear, the standard is not whether Congress has forbidden a remedy, but whether it has specifically authorized it. That is a test — now the law of the land — that applies to any forfeiture sanctions or remedies, civil or criminal. Forfeiture is purely statutory, without any basis in civil law or equity."

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Libertarian Party wants "racists and bigots" out

Libertarian Party to White nationalists: Get out - Christie Zizo, Central Florida News 13:

August 15, 2017 - The National Libertarian Party says it stands for freedom for all, but it won't stand for white nationalists.

"The party, considered the fastest growing third party in the country, issued a statement Tuesday asking any white nationalists who belong to the party to leave.

"'There is no room for racists and bigots in the Libertarian Party,' said Libertarian National Committee executive director Wes Benedict. 'If there are white nationalists who — inappropriately — are members of the Libertarian Party, I ask them to submit their resignations today. We don’t want them to associate with the Libertarian Party, and we don’t want their money. I’m not expecting many resignations, because our membership already knows this well.'

"Benedict says the Libertarian Party supports civil liberties, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation. The party also believes in open borders, racial diversity and free trade -- things he says white nationalists abhor.

"The statement comes in the wake of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that turned violent as protesters engaged with some counterprotesters and one suspected white nationalist drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19.

"Among the headliners of that 'Unite the Right' Rally was Augustus Invictus, who ran for U.S. Senate as a Libertarian in 2016. At the time his candidacy caused a stir. Florida Libertarian Party Chairman Adrian Wyllie resigned his post because he believed Invictus was a white nationalist who believed in eugenics [and] wanted to start a civil war. Invictus denied the charge....

"Invictus announced he was leaving the Libertarians in July for the Republican Party. He announced Tuesday he is running as a Republican candidate for Senate in Florida in 2018."

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Antony Fisher, libertarian think-tank pioneer

Sphere of Influence: How American Libertarians Are Remaking Latin American Politics - Lee Fang, The Intercept:

August 9, 2017 - "Antony Fisher, a British entrepreneur and the founder of the Atlas Network, pioneered the sale of libertarian economics to the broader public.... Fisher made it his mission to, in the words of an associate, 'litter the world with free-market think tanks.'

"The basis for Fisher’s ideals came from Friedrich Hayek, a forbearer of modern thought on limited government. In 1946, after reading the Reader’s Digest version of Hayek’s seminal book, The Road to Serfdom,” Fisher sought a meeting with the Austrian economist in London....

"Fisher was propelled forward by a fateful visit to [Leonard] Read’s newly formed nonprofit, the Foundation for Economic Education [FEE], in New York, which was founded to help sponsor and promote the ideas of free-market intellectuals. There, libertarian economist F.A. Harper, at the time working at FEE, advised Fisher on methods for creating his own nonprofit in the U.K....

"In 1955, Fisher founded the Institute of Economic Affairs [IEA].... The institute was a place to showcase opposition to British society’s growing welfare state, connecting journalists to free-market academics and disseminating critiques on a regular basis through opinion columns, radio interviews, and conferences. Businesses provided the bulk of funding to IEA, as leading British industrial and banking giants — from Barclays to BP — pitched in with annual contributions....

"As the economic slowdown and rising inflation of the 1970s shook the foundations of British society, Tory politicians gravitated more and more to the IEA to provide an alternative vision — and IEA obliged with accessible issue briefs and talking points politicians could use to bring free-market concepts to the public. The Atlas Network proudly proclaims that the IEA 'laid the intellectual groundwork for what later became the Thatcher Revolution of the 1980s.' IEA staff provided speechwriting for Margaret Thatcher; supplemented her campaign with policy papers on topics as varied as labor unions and price controls; and provided a response to her critics in the mass media. In a letter to Fisher after her 1979 victory, Thatcher wrote that the IEA created 'the climate of opinion which made our victory possible'....

"Hayek [had] set up an invitation-only group of free-market economists called the Mont Pelerin Society. One of its members, Ed Feulner, helped found the conservative Washington think tank the Heritage Foundation, drawing on IEA’s work for inspiration. Another Mont Pelerin member, Ed Crane, founded the Cato Institute, the most prominent libertarian think tank....

In 1981, Fisher, who had settled in San Francisco, set out to develop the Atlas Economic Research Foundation at the urging of Hayek. Fisher had used his success with IEA to court corporate donors to help establish a string of smaller, sometimes regional think tanks in New York, Canada, California, and Texas, among other places. With Atlas, though, the scale for Fisher’s free-market think tank project would now be global: a nonprofit dedicated to continuing his work of establishing libertarian beachheads in every country of the world. 'The more institutes established throughout the world,” Fisher declared, “the more opportunity to tackle diverse problems begging for resolution.'"

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Atlas Network spreads liberty in Latin America

Sphere of Influence: How American Libertarians Are Remaking Latin American Politics - Lee Fang, The Intercept:

August 9, 2017 - "Alejandro Chafuen ... was among friends at the 2017 Latin America Liberty Forum. The international meeting of libertarian activists was sponsored by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, a leadership-training nonprofit now known simply as the Atlas Network, which Chafuen has led since 1991....

"Chafuen pointed to numerous Atlas-affiliated leaders now in the spotlight: ministers in the new conservative government in Argentina, senators in Bolivia, and the leaders of the Free Brazil Movement that took down Dilma Rousseff’s presidency, where Chafuen’s network sprang to life before his very eyes.... A rightward shift is afoot in Latin American politics [and] the Atlas Network seems ever-present, a common thread nudging political developments along......

"[T]he Atlas Network, which receives funding from Koch foundations, has recreated methods honed in the Western world for developing countries. The network is expansive, currently boasting loose partnerships with 450 think tanks around the world. Atlas says it dispensed over $5 million to its partners in 2016 alone.

"Over the years, Atlas and its affiliated charitable foundations have provided hundreds of grants to conservative and free-market think tanks in Latin America, including the libertarian network that supported the Free Brazil Movement and organizations behind a libertarian push in Argentina, including Fundación Pensar, the Atlas think tank that merged with the political party formed by Mauricio Macri, a businessman who now leads the country. The leaders of the Free Brazil Movement and the founder of Fundación Eléutera in Honduras, an influential post-coup neoliberal think tank, have received financial support from Atlas, and are among the next generation of political operatives that have gone through Atlas’s training seminars.

"The Atlas Network spans dozens of other think tanks across the region.... It gives grants for new think tanks, provides courses on political management and public relations, sponsors networking events around the world, and, in recent years, has devoted special resources to prodding libertarians to influence public opinion through social media and online videos. An annual competition encourages Atlas’s network to produce viral YouTube videos promoting laissez-faire ideas and ridiculing proponents of the welfare state....

"Chafuen intimated that there was more to come: more think tanks, more efforts to overturn leftist governments, and more Atlas devotees and alumni elevated to the highest levels of government the world over. 'The work is ongoing,' he said."

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Cory Booker introduces Marijuana Justice Act

Marijuana politics emerge as 2020 flash point - POLITICO - Carla Marinucci:

August 13, 2017 - "Between a sweeping new package of legislation introduced last week by one of the top Democratic presidential prospects and, on the other end of the spectrum, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ vigorous opposition to recreational use of marijuana, the debate over legalization of cannabis is about to receive a full airing on the presidential campaign trail.

"Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, a bipartisan nonprofit advocacy group, said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s introduction of 'the farthest-reaching bill ever proposed' will have a catalytic effect on the politics of legalized marijuana and the myriad criminal justice issues related to it....

"Booker’s rollout of the Marijuana Justice Act — introduced to a wide audience via Facebook Live — was more than just a call for legalizing marijuana at the federal level. The measure also addresses withholding federal funds for the construction of jails and prisons from states whose pot laws are shown to disproportionately incarcerate minorities; expunging federal convictions for cannabis use; and mandating sentencing hearings for prisoners now serving time for pot offenses....

"With Republicans in control of the House and Senate, the ambitious legislation is viewed as unlikely to pass. But its attachment to a top prospective 2020 candidate — and the growing action on marijuana legalization at the state level — all but guarantees presidential contenders will need a fully formed position.

"Several possible Democratic presidential candidates — including Booker and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand — have already signed on to a separate bipartisan medical marijuana bill. In Massachusetts, where voters approved a ballot measure last year legalizing recreational marijuana, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has addressed the issues of creating legal and secure banking for the cannabis industry.

"On the Republican side, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has called for a repeal on the pot prohibition — making him popular with young libertarians — and won some conservative backing with his strong stand for states’ rights on the issue.

"That’s the same stance that was endorsed repeatedly by President Donald Trump, who also enthusiastically backed medical marijuana legalization on the campaign trail — though many cannabis advocates now worry about Sessions’ hard-line opposition....

"A recent CBS News poll tracked 61 percent support for legal cannabis — a 5-percentage-point bump up from last year and the highest percentage ever recorded in the poll. And nearly three-quarters of Americans now support a states rights approach — that states should be allowed to make the decision on legal pot sales — and oppose government moves to crack down in states that have legalized cannabis, the poll showed."

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Libertarians should support climate action, iff...

Should Natural Rights Libertarians Support Carbon Mitigation? The Answer May Surprise You - Niskanen Center - Kevin Vallier:

July 18,2017 - "Here are the conditions under which natural rights libertarians should support a carbon mitigation policy.
  1. The actions of human beings generate carbon emissions significant enough to pose a non-trivial risk of violating property rights (in one’s body or external objects) of persons whom the state has a duty to protect.
  2. A carbon mitigation policy (CMP) will provide an effective protection against the risk.
  3. The CMP will not in itself violate property rights, or take an excessive risk of violating them, because it will generally be targeted at persons or groups that generate problematic carbon emissions (and persons don’t have rights against restraints upon their rights-violating actions), where: a. The CMP coerces the smallest number of people sufficient to deter the emissions;  b.  The CMP is the least coercive means of deterring the emissions.
  4. No non-governmental, non-rights violating alternative to CMP is socially or politically feasible....
"A complication with condition 1 is that no one person or small group produces enough carbon emissions to pose a non-trivial risk to legitimate property holdings. But this did not prevent Murray Rothbard from arguing that ... these threats should be handled through class-action lawsuits. But appeals to Rothbard aside, it’s clear enough that libertarians should be prepared to hold large, diffuse collectives accountable for property damages....

"Condition 2 is critical because the coercion involved in imposing a CMP can only be justified if it actually protects property rights. Condition 3 is critical because natural rights libertarians are not consequentialists. You cannot justify violating John’s property rights in order to protect Reba’s property rights more effectively....  Condition 4 is critical because if there is a non-coercive, non-governmental solution to a negative externality, the natural rights libertarian will hold that this solution is morally superior to a CMP.... .

"But how can ... anarchist natural rights libertarians, support governmental action to do anything? Well, in lieu of abolishing the state, presumably libertarians ... will insist that states be as just as possible. So if justice requires protecting people from negative externalities, then states should act to protect people from negative externalities....

"I fully acknowledge that a CMP will be imperfect. But the mere fact that it will be imperfect doesn’t mean we should forgo our libertarian duty to support policies that protect property rights, a duty we have even if the costs of protection are large....

"[A] CMP has to impose no greater burden on people, and on no more people, than is required to prevent the rights violation. And it is a virtual certainty that the CMP will be either too stringent or too lax. But that again is not a reason to not have a CMP, any more than the fact that the police are usually too stringent or too lax is a reason not to have them stop thieves and killers....

"However, there is an alternative to a CMP: geo-engineering, such as cloud-seeding with sulfuric compounds, diamond dust, or calcium carbonate, which can prevent rising sea levels by reflecting more sunlight from the Earth. These solutions are in principle far less economically costly than any proposed CMP and are much easier to coordinate (the US could do enough cloud seeding for the whole world all by itself). Moreover, while many climate change activists don’t take geo-engineering seriously and few support it, it is not obviously infeasible that the way in which Rothbardian mass-class-action lawsuits are. Most importantly, geo-engineering solutions appear to violate property rights less in comparison with CMPs....

"Geo-engineering is seriously problematic for lots of reasons. But there is nonetheless still some case for qualifying support for a CMP by making it conditional on the infeasibility or excessive risk of geo-engineering solutions that violate property rights less (if there are any)."

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

The idiocy behind the Paris Climate Accord

Global Village Idiots | Liberty Unbound - Steve Murphy:

August 8, 2017 - "Blunderdale, a fictitious village located on a river bank, decided to build a levee to save its people (and their homes and businesses) from the devastation of flooding.... [S]cientists informed the flood task force ... that a 4’ levee would be required for protection against most floods, but that an 8’ levee would be required to ensure village safety against all floods. Armed with this sobering advice, the village leaders ... decided that a 2’ levee would be their goal [and] hammered out a plan to construct one from costly and unreliable materials instead of much cheaper and much more available proven materials.... When completed, the exorbitantly expensive structure would be 0.17’ high. Having bamboozled the credulous villagers, they celebrated their victory.

"Most of us would call such leaders despicable morons; in Blunderdale, the village leaders are the village idiots. After all, they are almost as underhanded and scandalously stupid as the world leaders (from 195 of the world’s 196 countries) who concocted the Paris Climate Accord....

"Climate experts (particularly those who support the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]) ... informed them that, on its present course, the earth’s temperature is expected to rise to something in the range of 4.0°C by the end of this century. Some authors insist that an increase of 8.0°C is possible. Even a 2.0°C rise, which many believe is already baked into the climate cake, will soon inundate low-lying population centers (cities such as Miami and nations such as Bangladesh) and create tens of millions of climate refugees....

"But let’s say that mankind implemented ... the Paris Accord. And let’s say that it was scrupulously executed — that is, the emissions reductions pledges of all 195 nations were fully met, annually, through the end of the century. What would be the cost? According to Bjorn Lomborg, it would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 trillion. This staggering amount includes lost GDP growth, increased taxes (e.g., $3 trillion to pay for subsidies over the next 25 years), and higher household electricity expenses. A Heritage Foundation study of the effects of the Paris agreement on only the US economy, and only through 2035, found that there would be an overall annual average shortfall of nearly 400,000 jobs (200,000 manufacturing jobs), a total income loss of more than $20,000 for a family of four, an aggregate GDP loss of over $2.5 trillion, and increases in household electricity expenditures of between 13% and 20%.

"What is the expected effectiveness of the plan?... An analysis by Lomborg found that fastidious adherence to the agreement, maintained throughout the century, would reduce the global temperature rise by 0.17°C. An MIT analysis found a similar result, 0.2°C. Thus, if the end-of-century temperature rise is the mass extinction-causing 4°C that the signatories believe will occur without the Paris accord , then, with the Paris accord, the end-of-century temperature rise will shrink to only, well, a mass extinction-causing 4°C.

 "With full knowledge that their plan would have absolutely no influence on diminishing catastrophic global warming, the leaders from 195 countries signed the Paris accord. Having surreptitiously united the world behind a $100 trillion scheme that would be of no help to Mother Earth, if she even notices, they celebrated their achievement."

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Friday, August 11, 2017

DDoS attack crashes libertarian site after gender differences article posted

Site Suffers DDoS Attack After Supporting James Damore - Toni Airaksinen, PJ Media:

August 9, 2017 - "Quillette Magazine, a small but respected libertarian publication based in Australia, suffered a DDoS attack Tuesday after publishing an article supportive of James Damore, the fired Google memo writer.

"The attack, which crashed the site for a day, came after Quillette published the opinion of four scientists on the Google memo. The scientists found that the conservative Google employee’s views on gender differences were supported by substantial scientific evidence.

"The Google memo’s 'key claims about sex differences are especially well-supported by large volumes of research across species, culture,' wrote Geoffrey Miller, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of New Mexico, explaining that the memo 'is consistent with the scientific state of the art on sex differences'....

"Deborah Soh, who has a PhD in sexual neuroscience and works as a Toronto-based science writer, concurred with Miller. 'Sex differences between women and men — when it comes to brain structure and function and associated differences in personality and occupational preferences — are understood to be true, because the evidence for them (thousands of studies) is strong.'

"'This is not information that’s considered controversial or up for debate; if you tried to argue otherwise, or for purely social influences, you’d be laughed at,' Soh said....

"Claire Lehmann, the founder of Quillette, told PJ Media that her website was especially susceptible to attack. While there are many programs that can be used to protect against DDoS attacks (which are when hackers flood websites with traffic to crash it), Claire said she didn’t have any....

"Her site, which has received endorsements from well-known figures such as Charles Murray and Richard Dawkins, ... has been dedicated to supporting alternative viewpoints since it launched in 2016.... [She] said her work is crucial to helping people see the truth behind things. 'It’s important to hear alternative viewpoints so that we can work out what is the truth, and not merely consensus,' Lehmann said."

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

U.S. Senate unanimously passes Right to Try bill

Senate passes ‘right to try’ bill to help terminally ill patients get experimental drugs - The Washington Post - Laurie McGinley:

August 2, 2017 - "The Senate on Thursday passed by unanimous consent a measure designed to make it easier for terminally ill patients to get access to experimental treatments without oversight from the Food and Drug Administration.

"The 'right-to-try' legislation has been championed by the libertarian Goldwater Institute, which has worked to pass similar legislation in 37 states. The federal version, now headed to the House, would bar the government from blocking patients from getting access to medications that have undergone only preliminary testing in humans. Patients first would have to try all other available treatments and be unable to participate in clinical trials.

"The bill would provide drug companies some legal protection if a treatment results in harm.

"'Patients with terminal diseases ought to have a right to access treatments that have demonstrated a level of safety and could potentially save their lives,' Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who wrote the bill, said in a statement after the vote....

"A previous version of the measure barred the FDA from considering any information on safety problems as part of its approval process for a drug used under right to try. The latest version was modified to allow the agency to consider such information if it is critical to determining whether the drug meets the agency's safety standards.

"The Senate's action on the right-to-try bill was part of a deal struck between Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Johnson, who had threatened to hold up a must-pass FDA funding reauthorization bill unless a vote on his legislation took place."

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Don Boudreaux's challenge to Nancy MacLean

Don Boudreaux’s Open Letter to Nancy MacLean | The American Spectator - Wlady Pleszcynski:

August 1, 2017 - "Duke history professor Nancy MacLean ... in her widely noticed recent book lambastes the great free-market economist James Buchanan as the logical successor of slave-owning segregationist John C. Calhoun. We had first read about her book, Democracy in Chains, in Don Boudreaux’s indispensable blog, Now Don has issued an open letter to Prof. MacLean, challenging her to offer a hint of proof to support the smearing she has done of the late Professor Buchanan....
Prof. MacLean:
"On page 151 of your book Democracy in Chains you write that my late Nobel laureate colleague James Buchanan (in his 1975 book, The Limits of Liberty) 'was outlining a world in which the chronic domination of the wealthiest and most powerful over all others appeared the ultimate desideratum, a state of affairs to be enabled by his understanding of the ideal constitution.' Yet you supply no quotation from Buchanan’s book to support this harsh accusation.
"So I challenge you to find in any of Buchanan’s writings a single passage that you are willing to offer to the public as evidence that Buchanan had as an ultimate desideratum a political system in which 'the wealthiest and most powerful” exercise “chronic domination … over all others.' If you find such a passage I will post it on my blog and offer to you a public apology for having accused you, on my blog, of falsely portraying Buchanan on this score....
"I am not asking for evidence that Buchanan proposed policies that you believe will lead to the domination of the many by the wealthy few. Buchanan certainly did endorse much greater freedom than you would accord to individuals to interact as they choose in markets. But being a scholar, surely you understand that even if you are correct that Buchanan was wrong not to see that the free markets and limits on government that he endorsed would lead to the domination of the many by the wealthy few, his different assessment of the likely consequences of free markets and limited government does not imply what you accuse him of desiring, namely, the domination of the many by the wealthy few. 
"If you fail to offer to me (or to post in some other public venue) – by, say, the end of September – evidence from Buchanan’s own writings that his goal was the domination of the many by the wealthy few, I will interpret this failure as proof that you in fact have no such evidence. And the conclusion that I, and others, will reasonably draw is that you simply fabricated this offensive charge."
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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Appeals court approves concealed-carry in DC

In Major Win for 2nd Amendment Advocates, Federal Court Blocks D.C. from Enforcing Conceal-Carry Restriction - Hit & Run : - Damon Root:

July 25, 2017 - "Second Amendment advocates scored a significant legal victory today when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit blocked Washington, D.C., from enforcing a law that effectively bars most D.C. residents from lawfully carrying handguns in public. 'The Second Amendment,' the court declared, 'erects some absolute barriers that no gun law may breach.'

"At issue was a District of Columbia regulation that limited conceal-carry licenses only to those individuals who can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the chief of police, that they have a "good reason" to carry a handgun in public. According to the District, applicants for a conceal-carry license must show a 'special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community as supported by evidence of specific threats or previous attacks that demonstrate a special danger to the applicant's life.' Living or working 'in a high crime area shall not by itself establish a good reason'....

"'At the Second Amendment's core lies the right of responsible citizens to carry firearms for personal self-defense beyond the home, subject to longstanding restrictions,' the D.C. Circuit held.... 'The Amendment's core at a minimum shields the typically situated citizen's ability to carry common arms generally. The District's good-reason law is necessarily a total ban on exercises of that constitutional right for most D.C. residents. That's enough to sink this law under' District of Columbia v. Heller, the 2008 case that struck down D.C.'s total ban on handguns.

"Today's decision by the D.C. Circuit widens an already gaping split among the federal courts on this issue. According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, 'the Second Amendment does not protect in any degree the right to carry concealed firearms in public.' By contrast, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit says that 'one doesn't need to be a historian to realize that a right to keep and bear arms in the eighteenth century could not rationally have been limited to the home.'

"In Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court did not rule definitively on the scope of the Second Amendment outside the home. In the nine years since that landmark ruling was issued, the Court has declined several ripe opportunities to settle the matter once and for all."

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Civil forfeiture without a conviction banned in CT

Connecticut Banned Civil Forfeiture Without A Criminal Conviction - Nick Sibilla, Institute for Justice - Forbes:

July 11, 2017 - "Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed HB 7146 on Monday, which curbs the state’s civil forfeiture laws. Not only did the bill earn endorsements from the Yankee Institute for the Public Policy and the state chapter of the ACLU, HB 7146 even passed both the House and the Senate without a single no vote.

"Under the new law, in order to permanently confiscate property with civil forfeiture, the property must be first seized in connection to either a lawful arrest or a lawful search that results in an arrest. If prosecutors do not secure a guilty verdict, a plea bargain or a dismissal from finishing a pretrial diversion program, the government must return the property to its rightful owner.... Connecticut now becomes the 14th state to require a criminal conviction for most or all forfeiture cases.

“'Civil forfeiture is one of the most serious assaults on Americans’ private property rights,' Institute for Justice Senior Legislative Counsel Lee McGrath said. 'The bill is a solid first step to ensure that innocent people do not lose their property to this use of 17th Century admiralty law applied to the 21st Century war on drugs'....

"According to data obtained by the Institute for Justice and the Reason Foundation, police and prosecutors generated more than $17.8 million in forfeiture revenue from 2009 to 2016. Nearly two-thirds of those proceeds came from civil forfeiture cases, where the owner did not have to be convicted....

"Although civil forfeiture is often defended as a way to stop large-scale drug cartels and criminal enterprises, in Connecticut, half of all civil forfeitures were under $570 in 2016. These small amounts suggest that many victims don’t have the means to fight back against a seizure in court. The state’s conviction requirement should protect many innocent Connecticutians."

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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Guatemala's free-market university

The Bond villain libertarians of Guatemala - Don Hannan, Washington Examiner:

December 19, 2016 - "Hidden away in Guatemala, surrounded by tall jungle trees, ... Francisco Marroquin University has been turning out free-marketeers for 45 years....

"The buildings are named after F.A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises and other Austrian School economists. There is a Plaza Adam Smith... One of the buildings is adorned with a massive sculpture of Atlas holding the world aloft — a homage to that vinegary anti-collectivist Ayn Rand. She would have approved of the way that lecturers must bid for teaching aids according to an internal market, with prices rising at popular times.

"Francisco Marroquin — named after the first Bishop of Guatemala, who translated several of the indigenous languages — is one of the best universities in Latin America. Its fees are at the upper end of the range, and it sets stiff entrance criteria, including a required fluency in English. All its undergraduates, whether they are studying law, medicine or architecture, are given a basic grounding in the principles of personal liberty and limited government....

"What makes Francisco Marroquin unusual is not that it seeks to inculcate values. Rather, it's that those values are not the leftist ones prevalent in almost every other institution of higher education. Instead of promoting anti-racism as the supreme political value, Francisco Marroquin promotes freedom. Safe spaces, micro-aggressions and trigger warnings have no place in these handsome buildings. Students are constantly exhorted to think for themselves....

"The free-market liberalism taught here has a samizdat feel. Most undergraduates are as opposed to the big-government paternalism that passes for conservatism in Latin America as they are to the Left.

"Which is why the best hope for the region lies in these young people. With the partial exceptions of Chile and Colombia, open markets have never really been tried in Latin America.... Latin America's underlying problem remains unaddressed.

"Governments are simultaneously too large and too small. Too large in the sense that they aim to control industries, dictate wages, set prices. Too small in the sense that they fail to operate impartial legal systems through which private citizens can claim redress....

"Just as the London School of Economics educated a generation of post-colonial leaders in Asia and Africa, with dire consequences, so there is now a crying need in Latin America for leaders who understand the difference between being pro-business and being pro-market. Every alternative has failed."

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Governments waging unwinnable war on darknet

The AlphaBay Shutdown Will Be as Futile as the Drug War Itself - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world - Nils Biedermann:

July 27, 2017 - "Recently, two major darknet markets, AlphaBay and Hansa Market, were seized by the FBI, DEA, EUROPOL and European Union member states. AlphaBay was the largest darknet market totaling about 40,000 vendors and 200,000 customers. For comparison, AlphaBay was about ten times bigger than Silk Road, another darknet market seized in 2013.

"Shortly after his arrest, AlphaBay founder Alexandre Cazes killed himself ... while [in] custody.

"On these websites, consumers are able to purchase drugs, weapons or counterfeit products of all kinds ... around 250,000 drug and chemical listings were online by the time of the shutdown (compared to about 100,000 for everything else). A conservative estimate of the total transactions since its creation in 2014 is one billion USD....

"These darknet markets work very much like any ... legal regular online market giving you the freedom to choose from a variety of products. They have a feedback system where a customer can voice his opinion about the drug as well. Vendors try to avoid bad reviews in fear of losing their good reputation, just as Yelp operates for 'above board' businesses....

"While there are a lot of similarities between darknet markets and street markets, there are huge differences as well. Darknet markets do not involve physical contact, confrontation or violence.... While the proliferation of Darknet Markets is unlikely to have an impact on systemic drug crime, the security for the consumer while buying the drug is significantly increased. The direct public feedback system ... rewards vendors and ensures the quality of the drugs. Drugs with high purity and without added substances allow consumers to properly dose the drug, reduce side effects through unwanted substances and therefore enhance security.

"History tells us that simply taking down these sites will not work.... The takedown of AlphaBay will by no means stop internet drug trafficking. It will give room to a lot of smaller sites to appear. The encryption is going to get stronger and better.... The only thing this operation has achieved is a momentary stop....

"In our efforts to reduce the drug supply we have wasted huge amounts of money, disregarded human rights, supported authoritarian structures and promoted violence and corruption. It is time to stop."

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Friday, August 4, 2017

57% think legalizing cannabis will benefit society

Make America Great Again by Legalizing Weed, Majority of Voters Say - Janice Williams, Newsweek: 

August 3, 2017 - "U.S. voters have an idea of what might actually improve society and make America great again: legalizing weed.

"A Harvard-Harris Poll survey released Monday found a majority of voters — some 57 percent — thought making marijuana legal across all 50 states would make society better, and 69 percent of people said they wouldn’t be bothered by pot being legal in their state....

"Only 37 percent of Americans said cannabis should be legalized only for medical purposes, while 49 percent of voters said marijuana should be legal for both medical and recreational use. Meanwhile, only 14 percent of voters said marijuana should be completely illegal....

"'Voters point to drugs as the major source of crime and support tough sentences for drug dealers but view marijuana in a wholly different light,' Harvard-Harris Poll co-director Mark Penn said in a statement. 'Most think legalization of marijuana would probably be helpful in reducing crime, and almost half support legalization.'

"Even if marijuana is illegal, 72 percent said people caught possessing small amounts of pot shouldn’t be prosecuted or face jail time because of it....

"The Harvard-Harris Poll survey was conducted between July 19 and 24 and involved 2,051 registered voters."

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

How Nancy MacLean misrepresented David Boaz

Another Misleading Quotation in Nancy MacLean's "Democracy in Chains" | Cato @ Liberty - David Boaz:

July 5, 2017 - "Everybody’s finding errors in Duke historian Nancy MacLean’s 'work of speculative historical fiction' on Nobel laureate James Buchanan and the libertarian movement, Democracy in Chains. I’d feel left out if I weren’t misquoted, so I’m relieved to find my name on page 211. Here’s what MacLean says about me and some of my purported allies:
'If you tell a great lie and repeat it often enough, people will eventually believe it," Joseph Gobbels, a particularly ruthless, yet shrewd, propagandist, is said to have remarked. Today the big lie of the Koch-sponsored radical right is that society can be split between makers and takers, justifying on the part of the makers a Manichean struggle to disarm and defeat those who would take from them. Attend a Tea Party gathering, and you will hear endless cries about the "moocher class." Read the output of the libertarian writers subsidized by wealthy donors and you will encounter endless variations. David Boaz of the Cato Institute, to choose just one, speaks of the "parasite economy" that divides us into "the predators and the prey"....

Is there any evidence to suggest that close to half of American society is intent on exploiting the rich through the tax system? That they contribute nothing, while using government to gang up on a defenseless minority that somehow, all on its own, generates wealth? ...
"Now: Did I actually say that the poor and working class are 'intent on exploiting the rich'? Or 'that they contribute nothing'? Well, here’s what I wrote on pp. 252-53 of The Libertarian Mind, which is the source MacLean footnotes:
Economists call this process rent-seeking, or transfer-seeking. It’s another illustration of Oppenheimer’s distinction between the economic and the political means. Some individuals and businesses produce wealth. They grow food or build things people want to buy or perform useful services. Others find it easier to go to Washington, a state capital, or a city hall and get a subsidy, tariff, quota, or restriction on their competitors. That’s the political means to wealth, and, sadly, it’s been growing faster than the economic means.

Of course, in the modern world of trillion-dollar governments handing out favors like Santa Claus, it becomes harder to distinguish between the producers and the transfer-seekers, the predators and the prey. The state tries to confuse us, like the three-card monte dealer, by taking our money as quietly as possible and then handing some of it back to us with great ceremony. We all end up railing against taxes but then demanding our Medicare, our subsidized mass transit, our farm programs, our free national parks, and on and on and on. Frederic Bastiat explained it in the nineteenth century: “The State is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.” In the aggregate, we all lose, but it’s hard to know who is a net loser and who is a net winner in the immediate circumstance"....
"I also wrote on page 253 about the 'parasite economy,' in which
every group in society comes up with a way for the government to help it or penalize its competitors: businesses seek tariffs, unions call for minimum-wage laws (which make high-priced skilled workers more economical than cheaper, low-skilled workers), postal workers get Congress to outlaw private competition, businesses seek subtle twists in regulations that hurt their competitors more than themselves.
"Let’s be clear: when public choice economists and I talk about 'rent seeking' and 'concentrated benefits,' and we point to 'subsidy, tariff, quota, or restriction on their competitors,' we’re not trying to protect the rich. We’re talking about ways that businesses, unions, and other organized interest groups seek to use government to gain advantages that they couldn’t gain in the marketplace. And when we suggest limiting the power of government to hand out such favors, we are arguing in the interests of workers and consumers.

"I do not believe that MacLean’s two very short quotations from The Libertarian Mind and the paragraphs in which she situates them fairly depict my argument in the book. One might even say that she reversed the meaning of 'the predators and the prey.' Unfortunately, selective quotation and misrepresentation seem to be MacLean’s M.O., as Steve Horwitz, Phil Magness, Russ Roberts, David Henderson, David Bernstein, Bernstein again, Nick Gillespie, Michael Munger, and others have pointed out."

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Libertarian-bashing historian Nancy MacLean accused of "getting nearly everything wrong"

To Duke Historian Nancy MacLean, Advocating Free Markets Is Something 'The World Has Never Seen Anything Like...Before' - Hit & Run : - Brian Doherty:

August 2, 2017 - "Duke University historian Nancy MacLean recently issued Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America, an alas quite hot book that purports to expose the dark secrets of Nobel Prize-winning economist James Buchanan and the 'radical right'/libertarian movement he's allegedly the brains behind.

"MacLean has been convincingly accused by many who understand his work and the libertarian movement with both less built-in hostility and more actual knowledge than she has (including me here at Reason) of getting nearly everything wrong, from fact to interpretation. She recently took to the Chronicle of Higher Education to allegedly reply to her critics.

"A quick wrap up of many specific problems found in her book by her critics — by no means all — that MacLean ignores even while allegedly "respond[ing] to her critics," and which the editors at the Chronicle let her ignore:
  • Her claim of meaningful similarity between John Calhoun's constitutional vision and that of Buchanan and his public choice school cannot be reasonably maintained.
  • Her assertion that the modern public choice/libertarian constitutionalist vision has nothing to do with James Madison is not true.
  • Buchanan did not, contra MacLean, believe that all taxation above voluntary giving is theft akin to a mugger in the park.
  • She attributed to Buchanan the belief that those receiving government aid "are to be treated as subordinate members of the species, akin to… animals who are dependent" though he used that phrase to describe the attitude that was the opposite of his.
  • Her attribution of Buchanan's use of the Hobbesian term "Leviathan" to (racist, uncoincidentally for her rhetorical smear purposes) Southern Agrarian poet Donald Davidson rather than, well, Hobbes, falls apart with study of when and how Buchanan began using the term in his work.
  •  She regularly cites libertarian thinkers as saying nasty things implying a contempt for the poor or for democracy that are not supported by the full context of the quotes; victims of her malicious misinterpretation including David Boaz and Tyler Cowen....
"MacLean speaks to none of the above specific critiques of her book in the Chronicle, merely generically complaining about being attacked and insisting that people who critique her work clearly hadn't read or understood it ...  she reached instead for sympathy by complaining these specific critiques on her methods and understanding as a historian made her 'feel vulnerable and exposed' and interpreting an intellectual metaphor for a physical threat...

"She certainly does not address a core problem with her book I detailed in my review: the 'historical fact' upon which her entire thesis depends, her book's distinguishing selling point, which she claims to have uniquely discovered through diligent archival work, that James Buchanan was the secret influence behind the political funding machine of Charles Koch and that that machine is deliberately and conspiratorially disguising its libertarian goals, is completely invented. She creates an illusion of proof by citing documents that do not support the thesis in any way, shape, or form."

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