Wednesday, November 29, 2017

3 Libertarians in Oklahoma primary for governor

Libertarian gubernatorial candidates sound off on issues facing Oklahoma | Red Dirt Report:

"OKLAHOMA CITY-- Next year, Oklahoman voters will go to the polls again and cast their vote.... One big difference voters might notice this time around: a Libertarian on the ballot. Last year, the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma (OKLP) gained official recognition and had a candidate on the ballot for President, as well as candidates for many local offices.

"The Libertarian Party, like Republicans and Democrats, will be holding a primary in June so that those registered in their party can choose who will represent them in the general election.... The three candidates currently running for the Libertarian nomination for Oklahoma Governor are Chris Powell, Rex Lawhorn, and Joe Maldonado.

"Chris Powell, a former chairman of the Oklahoma Libertarian Party, ran for Oklahoma County Clerk in 2016.  Rex Lawhorn is a telecommunications technician from Broken Bow.  Joe Maldonado, also known as Joe Exotic, a former Police Chief, is the owner-operator of an animal park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma....

Why are you running for Governor of the State of Oklahoma?

POWELL: Both because this is the first gubernatorial election in which the OKLP will be able to participate and because of the very high level of dissatisfaction with both establishment parties; 2018 represents a tremendous opportunity to grow the LP in Oklahoma. As the most successful candidate the OKLP has had, I believe I am best situated to capitalize on this opportunity to increase the visibility and relevance of the Libertarian Party in Oklahoma.

LAWHORN: I’m running because I am tired of living in an Oklahoma that offers no positive future for our children. I’m tired of being over-taxed and over-regulated and I’m tired of watching my community suffer from the abuses inflicted on it by big government. Consumer-driven market options and pro-liberty policies can change those things. 

MALDONADO: I am running for Governor of the State of Oklahoma for the working people of this state. I am tired of the legislature passing thousands of laws without actually getting anything done. I am tired of the corporations and special interest groups buying our politicians. I am tired of taxes going up while our state sinks further and further into debt. It’s time we run this state like a business instead of a slush fund for the oil and gas industry and their political puppets at the capitol."

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Libertarian groups intervene in BaketheCake case

These Groups Support Gay Marriage While Backing a Cake Baker’s First Amendment Rights - Elizabeth Slatterly & Kaitlyn Finlay, Daily Signal:

November 28, 2017. "The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission on Dec. 5, in what will be one of the most closely watched cases of the term.

This is the case of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, who declined to design a custom cake for a same-sex wedding. The same-sex couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which resulted in a finding that Phillips engaged in sexual orientation discrimination in violation of the state’s public accommodation law.

"Now, the case is before the Supreme Court, and the justices will consider Phillips’ free speech and free exercise claims. More than 100 groups have filed amicus briefs supporting one side or the other....

"The Cato Institute, Reason Foundation, and Individual Rights Foundation argue in their amicus brief that Phillips’ custom cakes are an artistic expression that deserves protection under the First Amendment’s free speech clause.

"The three groups cite Wooley v. Maynard, a 1976 Supreme Court decision that makes clear that the First Amendment protects against compelled speech.... In Wooley, the court ... explained that forcing people to 'becom[e] the courier[s] for … messages with which they disagree' interferes with the right to 'refuse to foster … an idea they find morally objectionable'....

"They also explain why the court should recognize Phillips’ trade of baking custom cakes as a form of art. They point out: 'The art of baking and decorating cakes, particularly wedding cakes, exhibits all the characteristics of other expressive formats that this Court has recognized as constitutionally protected.'

"The Supreme Court has previously found that many other forms of art qualify as speech—such as music without words, dance, theater, and movies. Even tattooing is considered expressive activity, as the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Anderson v. City of Hermosa Beach (2010)'....

"But they draw the line at compelled expression, explaining that the First Amendment would not protect 'caterers, hotels, and limousine companies' if they asserted a free speech right to refuse services for same-sex weddings. That’s because the free speech clause covers expression—not 'all human endeavors.'

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Tax call centers block, misinform Canadians

CRA call centre staff blocking calls, giving taxpayers incorrect information: AG | CTV News - Rachel Aiello:

"November 24, 2017 -  Canada's tax collectors often aren’t picking up the phone, and when they do, Canadians are being given incorrect information, a new federal audit reveals.

"The examination by Canada's Auditor General Michael Ferguson into whether the Canada Revenue Agency’s nine call centres were providing Canadian taxpayers with timely access to accurate information, found that call centre agents only answered the phone about one-third of the time.

"When the callers do get through to the call centre, the audit found that agents are giving Canadians incorrect information nearly 30 per cent of the time....

'"If people aren’t told the right date for when interest will be charged on what they owe, they may make a payment later than they should, and they may get charged interest that they weren’t expecting to get charged,' said Ferguson, giving an example of the impact of the CRA staff’s erroneous information. 'Every time the answer that they get from the call centre isn’t a right answer, there’s always the potential that that is going to impact individuals'....

"The auditor general found that ... the CRA blocked about 29 million calls, more than half of its 53.5 million total call volume.... The CRA reported that about 90 per cent of callers are able to be connected.... However when the blocked calls are factored in, the Agency’s overall success rate dropped to 36 per cent....

"Ferguson said ... calling in for help is the main way for Canadians to get help with specific questions, or is the only way for those without internet access or who are not comfortable or able to use a computer. 'If taxpayers cannot get timely access to accurate information, they may file incorrect returns, miss filing deadlines, pay too little or too much tax (and later be subject to reassessment), or miss out on benefits they are eligible to receive.'"

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

You're "leaving liberty"? Were you ever there?

Leaving Liberty? You Were Never Really There in the First Place - Being Libertarian - JSB Morse:

November 24, 2017 - "It happened again — one of my acquaintances gave up on the liberty movement. He made it clear in a very public way that he’s “leaving liberty'....

"Several of my friends have said they still love liberty, but can’t devote the time and energy into being a spokesperson and a public defender of the philosophy. I can certainly understand that.... Others, however, claim to no longer identify as a libertarian or that the message of liberty no longer makes sense. And these defections are much more curious.

"They’re curious because once you really understand the principles of liberty, it’s utterly illogical to then disown them. It’s like coming to understand that 2+2=4, only to later claim, 'No, I really just feel like 2+2=5 and that’s what I’m going with from now on'....

"Libertarianism holds that all humans have certain inalienable negative rights (life, liberty, and property) and that it is illegitimate for anyone to infringe on those rights.

"Other political philosophies maintain that people have positive rights granted by the government, such as the right to education, healthcare, or to watch football without protesters. The problem is that whenever one asserts positive rights, he necessarily infringes on another’s negative rights. You can’t have a right to education at the same time that teachers have the right to free association. You can’t have the right to health care and have the right to your property that pays for that health care. You can’t have the right to watch football without protests while others have the right to free speech.

"Libertarianism isn’t simply, 'You can do whatever you want,' as some will have you believe. Libertarianism is, 'You can do whatever you want as long as that doesn’t infringe on the same right of others.' It’s a beautiful, balanced and symmetric philosophy — the only one that makes logical sense....

"Of course, the principles of liberty may allow for some uncomfortable moments.... Enemies of liberty will take situations like that and use it to tarnish the philosophy. They will claim that if you allow a white supremacist to speak, you must be a white supremacist yourself! If you think even the top 1% should be able to keep the fruits of their labor, then you must hate poor people! If you’re skeptical of government funded climate science, you must be a denier!

"Liberty-haters want to paint libertarians as racist, money-grubbing, science deniers to make them abandon the cause, and it works sometimes. If your understanding of libertarianism is 'Hey, let’s do some weed!' then you risk losing faith when someone calls you names like that. But if you fully understand the logical beauty of the libertarian framework, there’s really no going back."

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Why is ignorance of the law "no excuse"?

If the Law Is This Complicated, Why Shouldn’t Ignorance Be an Excuse? - Clark Neily & Jack Brown - Townhall:

October 30, 2017 - "When was the last time you sat down with a complete set of the federal, state, and local codes setting forth the tens of thousands of criminal violations for which you could be sent to jail? If you answered 'never,' you’re in good company. Nevertheless, America’s judges still cling to the proposition that it’s perfectly fine to lock people up for doing something they had no idea was illegal. But it’s not fine, and the justifications for that palpably unfair rule have only grown more threadbare with time....

"One rationale for the maxim that ignorance of the law is no excuse was to give people an incentive to educate themselves about legal requirements. But as any law student will attest, one can study those requirements for years and barely scratch the surface. Another rationale was to prevent people from escaping criminal penalties by claiming ignorance, even when they actually knew they were breaking the law. That might have made sense in ancient times when there were only a few dozen crimes on the books and all of them involved morally blameworthy conduct like murder, arson, or rape.

"But today the law has grown so complicated, and the relationship between law and morality so attenuated, that these supporting rationales no longer make sense. There have been multiple attempts to count the number of federal crimes, including by the Department of Justice, and no one has yet succeeded. Title 18 of the United States Code, which governs crimes and criminal procedure, has over 6,000 sections, and it is estimated that there are more than 4,500 federal crimes and over 300,000 agency regulations containing criminal penalties. And of course this does not include the dizzying array of state and local criminal codes, ignorance of which is practically assured but still not excused....

"Moreover, ... the increasing criminalization of morally blameless conduct makes the punishment of innocent mistakes even more likely. For example, federal law makes it illegalto possess the feather of any native migratory bird even if one just picks it up off the ground, and the potential penalties for doing so include fines and even time in prison....

"A trio of seafood importers were sentenced to eight years in federal prison because some of the lobsters they imported from Honduras were alleged to be undersized or egg-bearing females that were unlawfully shipped in plastic bags instead of the cardboard boxes mandated by federal law.....

"Indianapolis 500 champion Bobby Unser ... was convicted of illegally driving his snowmobile in a National Forest Wilderness Area in 1996 after he and a friend were stranded in the mountains during a blizzard, and forced to take shelter in a barn while suffering from hypothermia....

"In 2009, Robert Eldridge, a fisherman from West Chatham, Massachusetts, faced up to a $100,000 fine and a year in prison after he freed a humpback whale that had been caught in his fishing gear, and only escaped with a comparatively small $500 fine after pleading guilty. More recently, Alison Capo also faced a year in prison after her daughter rescued a federally protected woodpecker from the family cat.... (Her initial fine of $535 was ltimately rescinded by the agency, claiming it was a “clerical error.')....

"Subjecting well-meaning homeowners, desperate snowmobilers, innocent password sharers, and countless other blameless Americans to prosecution for conduct that no reasonable person would know was illegal does nothing to advance the cause of justice and much to undermine it."

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Friday, November 24, 2017

FCC to vote on 'net neutrality' repeal

November 21, 2017 - "Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Ajit Pai announced this morning that he is submitting a proposal to repeal what he characterized as the "heavy-handed, utility-style regulation" of Internet companies adopted by the Obama administration in 2015.

 "Colloquially (if misleadingly) known as 'net neutrality' ... the rules, which included classifying Internet companies as 'telecommunications services' under Title II of the 1934 Telecommunications Act instead of as 'information services' under Title I, were intended by advocates to be a bulwark against private companies discriminating against disfavored service or content providers. In practice, Pai asserted today in a statement, net neutrality 'depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks and deterred innovation,' and amounted to 'the federal government ... micromanaging the Internet.' The measure will be voted on next month....

" Pai came on the latest installment of the Fifth Column podcast to explain and debate the announcement with Kmele Foster and myself....
Pai: Sure, so I'm proposing to my fellow commissioners at the FCC to return to the bipartisan consensus on how to think about the Internet. And so instead of putting the government in control of how it operates and how it's managed, we're going to return to the light-touch framework that was established during the Clinton administration.... Essentially, we are returning to the original classification of the Internet....

[S]tarting with the commercialization of the Internet in the 1990s all the way until 2015, we thought of Internet access as what's called an 'information service.'....It meant that the FCC would not micromanage how it developed, how it operated. We would let the market develop, and then take targeted action if necessary to protect consumers.

In 2015, that changed, and we switched to calling it a 'telecommunication service,' essentially treating every Internet Service Provider in the country, from the big ones all the way down to the mom-and-pop fixed wireless providers in Montana, as anti-competitive monopolists to be regulated under 1934 rules that were developed for Ma Bell, the old telephone monopoly.

And so we are simply returning that classification back to the information-service one that started under President Clinton. And additionally, we are getting rid of some of the regulations that were adopted under that so-called Title II 'common carrier' classification, in terms of the various … rules that were adopted back in 2015."
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Thursday, November 23, 2017

UK Libertarian Party gets this landlord's vote (video)

Property118 | My Next Vote Goes To The Libertarian Party - Property118 - Mark Alexander:

November 23, 2017 - "When I emigrated to Malta I said I would never vote for a UK political party ever again, even though I am still entitled to do so. Well I have changed my mind, and if you watch this video you might understand why.....

"PS – I have also paid £45 to become an official party member"

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

365,000 sign for legal cannabis in Michigan

Michigan Vote on Cannabis Legalization Is Likely in 2018 | Leafly - Associated Press:

"November 20, 2017 -  Organizers of a ballot drive to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational purposes in Michigan submitted 365,000 signatures to the state Monday, which appears to be more than enough to qualify the initiative for a statewide vote in 2018.

"The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said the prohibition against recreational marijuana is 'a massive failure'....

"If passed, people 21 and older could possess up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants at home. A 10 percent tax on marijuana would be assessed on top of the 6 percent state sales tax.

"Josh Hovey, a spokesman for the coalition, said fully legalizing the drug for adults would generate hundreds of millions in new tax revenue. He estimated that 20,000 people in the state are arrested annually for marijuana possession and cultivation....

"If state officials determine that about 252,000 of the voter signatures are valid, the bill would go to the Republican-controlled Legislature. Lawmakers would have 40 days to adopt the measure or it would be placed on the November 2018 statewide ballot.... Organizers do not expect the Legislature to consider their proposal....

"Organizers want to raise $8 million, overall. They have spent nearly all of the $600,000 collected as of Oct. 20, including for paid signature collectors.

"Irwin said he expects opioid makers to heavily fund opposition to the measure because they have done so in other states with marijuana ballot drives.

"According to national polls, a solid majority of Americans support legalization. Gallup’s latest survey gauged support at 64 percent, up from 12 percent from when the question was first posed in 1969."

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Georgia Libertarians sue for ballot access

Libertarian Party lawsuit opposes Georgia's ballot restrictions - Mark Neely, Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

November 21, 2017 - "Georgia’s restrictions on third-party candidates trying to run for Congress should be declared unconstitutional, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday by the Libertarian Party of Georgia.

"No third-party candidate in Georgia has ever collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot for the U.S. House of Representatives or U.S. Senate since the state passed an election qualifying law in 1943.

"That law requires at least 5 percent of registered voters to sign a petition — that’s about 19,000 signatures needed to field a third-party candidate in any of Georgia’s 14 congressional districts. Meanwhile, candidates nominated by the Republican and Democratic parties automatically appear on the ballot....

"Georgia requires more signatures for a third-party congressional candidate to appear on the ballot than any other state in the nation, according to the lawsuit. Thirty states require 10,000 or fewer signatures for a third party to run a full slate of candidates statewide for U.S. House.

"The lawsuit lists 27 third-party candidates since 1982 that declared their intention to qualify for election to the U.S. House but were unsuccessful.

"The Libertarian Party is asking a judge to declare that Georgia’s ballot access laws violate the First Amendment and 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantee freedom of speech and due process. It also alleges the state’s laws run afoul of the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

"The requirement for third-party candidates to gather signatures from 5 percent of a district’s voters was originally enacted 74 years ago for the purpose of preventing Communist Party candidates from appearing on Georgia ballots, according to the lawsuit."

Fielding third-party candidates for statewide elected offices is easier.... In a previous case, a federal judge lowered the signature requirement for presidential candidates to appear on Georgia ballots. U.S. District Judge Richard Story ruled in 2016 that third-party and independent presidential candidates must collect 7,500 signatures rather than about 50,000, or 1 percent of the state’s registered voters."

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Kochs commit $500 million to buying Time Inc.

Koch Brothers Said to Back Time Inc. Deal Talks With Meredith | CNBC - Sydney Ember and Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times:

November 16, 2017 - "Time Inc. is said to be in talks to sell itself to the Meredith Corporation, in a deal backed by Charles G. and David H. Koch, the billionaire brothers known for supporting conservative causes.

"Talks between Time Inc., the publisher of Time and People, and Meredith, the publisher of Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens, fizzled this year. The new round of negotiations, motivated by the surprise entry of the Kochs, could lead to a quick deal, according to people involved in the discussions.

"The Kochs have tentatively agreed to back Meredith's offer with an equity injection of more than $500 million, the people with knowledge of the talks said. A spokesman for the brothers' business, Koch Industries, declined to comment on Wednesday. Time Inc. also declined to comment....

"Although it is unclear whether the proposed deal will reach fruition, both sides hope to move quickly enough to be able to announce a transaction soon after Thanksgiving.....

"An obstacle that stalled negotiations earlier this year was Meredith's inability to secure sufficient financing from banks. With the addition of the Kochs, with their deep pockets and apparent desire to make themselves players on the media landscape, that problem could vanish.

"It is not clear how much influence — if any — the Kochs would have on a Meredith-owned Time Inc. if the deal were to go through....

"The latest talks between Meredith and Time Inc. show the Koch brothers' willingness to give their media ambitions another shot after they explored purchasing the Tribune Company in 2013.

"Koch Industries ... is the second-largest privately operated company in the United States ... with annual sales revenue of more than $100 billion. "Charles and David Koch have made hefty donations to various civic and arts organizations, including Lincoln Center, the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Longtime libertarians, they are also prominent backers of conservative causes and candidates. In 1979, David Koch ran as the vice-presidential candidate on the 1980 Libertarian ticket (with Ed Clark at the top of the ticket).

"The brothers have continued to influence politics through a Koch-funded nonprofit conservative advocacy group founded in 2004, Americans for Prosperity. In the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, the group spent more than $720 million.".

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Trump's war on NAFTA threatens 3 economies

Imitating Obama? | Liberty Unbound - Gary Jason:

October 23, 2017 - "I confess that I am no fan of Trump. Actually, that dramatically understates it. I regard him as a dangerous populist ignoramus whose crudity of character makes him unfit for office.... My only hope was that Trump, once in office, would at least pretend to be presidential....

"But unfortunately he has pursued his nativist and protectionist agendas. On the nativist agenda, he killed DACA — setting up the deportation of upwards of a million young people brought here involuntarily, and raised with scant knowledge of the countries of their births. Not only did he refuse to increase the H-1B visa and other programs that legally allow in college-trained STEM and medical professionals, but he has actually proposed cutting all legal immigration by half....

"On Trump’s protectionist agenda, after killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, Trump has set his sights on killing NAFTA.... Obama — Trump’s match in protectionism — started trade wars with both Mexico and Canada shortly after assuming office [but] slowly but surely came to understand why more than 90% of economists favor free trade. Obama eventually approved of the three free-trade agreements left to him by George Bush, and late in his second term negotiated the TPP.... But Trump is even more of a populist fool....

"The Wall Street Journal reports just how close to a collapse of the NAFTA talks we are.... [S]hould the talks collapse ... Colorado-based ImpactECON, has put the net job losses at 125,000 for Canada, 256,000 for the US, and a whopping 961,000 for Mexico over the next three to five years.

"If NAFTA does get repealed, tariffs would undoubtedly result.... Both Canada and Mexico will be furious at seeing the US dump the deal and will likely raise tariffs enormously.... The American Automobile Policy Council estimates that the rise of the price of domestic auto parts from the tariffs will cost 50,000 US jobs....

"The ImpactECON study says the small gains in US employment in production of machinery and chemical industries will be swamped by losses in the agricultural, auto, and apparel industries.... Under NAFTA, our agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada have risen fourfold, hitting $38 billion last year. If NAFTA is junked, the Mexicans could revert to their pre-NAFTA tariff levels of 75% on US chicken and corn syrup, 45% on turkey, potatoes, and dairy products, and 15% on wheat....

"Of course, the joke in all this is that the US was losing manufacturing jobs long before NAFTA.... The real 'culprit' is not international trade; it is automation and creative destruction.... The failure of many American workers to adjust to the shift from low-knowledge to high-tech factories results primarily from the pathetically poor average education they receive.... All of this could be cured if we did what supposedly socialist Sweden did over a quarter century ago: immediately adopt a universal voucher program — that is, require all public schools in America to adopt perfectly pro-rata voucher systems within one year....

"Rising protectionism and fear of trade don’t just run the risk of depression and trade wars — which in turn run the risk of military war. They also distract us from the real cause of long-term blue-collar unemployment: a horribly broken educational system."

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Amazon opts for private package delivery

Your New Mailman Works for Amazon - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world - Jeffrey A. Tucker:

November 17, 2017 - "There he was dropping off packages in the mail room. I picked up mine and walked away. Then I did a double take. The patch on his shoulder was not USPS, FedEx, or UPS. It was the familiar lower case 'a; of Amazon.

"'Wait, do you actually work for Amazon?... The company that sells things online now has its own warehouse-to-doorstep delivery service?' 'Yes, it’s been around for a year, but expanding by the day. I love my job. It’s a great company'....

"We should take time to appreciate what this means. For many decades, the government monopolized mail, crushing competitors at every turn.... When the US government cracked down on private mail services in 1834, two thirds of existing services were private. Criminal penalties were imposed and they all gradually went away.

"The rise of FedEx and UPS crawled through a loophole in the law. The government maintained its monopoly on first-class mail, but permitted exceptions for packages and special deliveries. Then came email. Once the monopoly was shattered, the government’s protected sector became nearly worthless, as we all know. People under the age of 30 hardly even go to their mailboxes anymore ... the government’s long-held control over mail was shattered not through reform or privatization but by technology, entrepreneurship, and the forward motion of history itself.

"But the entry of Amazon into the delivery space is just incredible.... Today, Amazon is a job machine. You can go to and get a job delivering packages, doing exactly what the government has been trying to prevent since 1834.

"Forgive the term but capitalism is working.... All this competition is making everyone better off, and bringing new levels of consumer service to the market. CVS has announced that it is offering prescription delivery services just on the rumor that Amazon will enter the market. And the package delivery service will keep price pressure on everyone else.

"The real drama of our times is embedded inside these seemingly small improvements in how we live, all being delivered by private enterprise. Forgive the term but capitalism is working, despite its poor reputation. It’s not the political parties that are doing this. It’s not the bureaucracies. It’s not even the Ivory Tower. The world is being made more beautiful by the profit-and-loss system that is working to serve you and me every day."

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Roy Moore allegations boost Libertarian's write-in campaign

Libertarian has 'Most Awesomest' Plan in Alabama Senate Race - Rod Kackley, PJMedia:

November 17, 2017 - "Libertarian Ron Bishop told PJM his write-in campaign for Senate has skyrocketed since the line of women accusing former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore of sexual harassment and assault started forming. Bishop is one of two candidates running write-in campaigns in the Dec. 12 special election to fill the seat of former Sen. Jeff Sessions....

"'We’ve gotten more press. We have more people looking at us now. Our social media sites are getting a lot more hits,' Bishop said. 'There are a lot more messages from people who say, "Thank God there’s a third party out there."’

"Bishop, who works as a 'self-taught IT professional' in Birmingham, said even before the Roy Moore sexual misconduct scandal engulfed the special election there were plenty of people who were not fans of Justice Moore.

"'He’s a character here in Alabama. He’s been thrown out of the Alabama Supreme Court twice, and folks just weren’t happy (with Moore),' Bishop said....

"Bishop said there is an active core group of Republicans who will vote in GOP primary elections. But he maintained that most of Alabama voters are independents who don’t care for either the Democrats or the Republicans....

"He just has to convince GOPers who don’t like Roy Moore but can’t stomach the idea of voting for Democrat Doug Jones to pick the Libertarian. Bishop also needs to woo independents who dislike both the Democratic and Republican parties and convince them that it’s worth the time and trouble to get to a polling place and write the name 'Ron Bishop' on the ballot....

"Bishop also pointed out the only reason he has to run a write-in campaign is Alabama’s 'draconian law, enacted after Ross Perot’s presidential campaign' that makes it all but impossible for a third-party candidate to break the Republican-Democrat duopoly of power.

'Scenarios like the Alabama special election are why ballot access is so very important,' said Libertarian National Committee Ballot Access Committee Chair Ken Moellman. 'The election is a train wreck, and the people of Alabama are in this pickle partially because of intentionally onerous ballot access laws meant to prevent voters from having other choices – including Libertarian choices,' Moellman added."

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

SCOTUS agrees to hear 3 free-speech cases

Supreme Court Takes Free Speech Cases on Abortion, Property Rights, Gadsden Flag, and Voter ID - Ken Kuklowski, Breitbart:

November 13, 2017 - "The Supreme Court added three political-speech cases on Monday to its oral argument docket this year, granting review in one involving pro-life pregnancy centers, another where a man was arrested while criticizing his local government for corruption at a public meeting, and a third where state law prohibited a man from wearing the Gadsden flag or a voter-ID button when he went to his polling place to vote.

"The first case is National Institute of Family and Life Associates v. Becerra. California law requires licensed pro-life pregnancy resource centers to post ads for free or low-cost abortions.... NIFLA sued, arguing that the California law violates its rights under either the Free Speech Clause or the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution’s First Amendment....

"The second case is Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach.... Fane Lozman was sounding off on local government corruption during the public comment period of a city meeting when the presiding councilmember tried to cut him off. Lozman refused to be silenced, at which time he was arrested and removed from the microphone. The question is whether this violated Lozman’s free speech rights under the Constitution....

"The third case is Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky. A Minnesota man, Andrew Cilek, entered his polling location in 2010 to vote ... wearing a T-shirt displaying the Gadsden flag ('Don’t tread on me' with a rattlesnake — popular during the American Revolution in the 1770s). He was also wearing a button that said, 'Please ID Me,' supporting voter-identification laws.

"Minnesota law forbids voters wearing anything at a polling location that contains a political message. While the Supreme Court in 1992 upheld “buffer zone” laws wherein people could not actively campaign at a polling location or try to persuade voters within a certain number of feet from the ballot box, the justices have never said that these buffer zones can exclude every message that includes a political element.

"All three cases will be heard early next year, with decisions handed down by the end of June 2018."

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

NY cannabis legalization bill includes resentencing

New York turns an eye toward recreational marijuana legalization:

"The political winds blowing around marijuana have shifted and New York should be the next state to legalize marijuana, argued one state senator in a recent panel [at] Brooklyn Law School.... The school's Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE) on November 6 hosted ... the largest cannabis policy reform event ever held in New York.

"State Senator Liz Krueger said ... prohibition prevents the state and private entrepreneurs from capitalizing on the full economic potential of cannabis.... Krueger has proposed legalizing marijuana statewide.

"In June, Krueger re-introduced New York State Senate Bill S3040A, dubbed the 'Marihuana Regulation and Taxation ACT' (MRTA). It’s currently idling in committee where the two previous iterations of the bill died, she said.

"New York is one of 29 states which have legalized medical marijuana.... It initially only allowed patients with illnesses including cancer, AIDS, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease to consume smokeless forms of cannabis. The state added chronic pain as a qualifying condition last March, and Saturday ... post-traumatic stress disorder....

"Krueger’s latest push at marijuana legislation would establish a legal market for adult-use cannabis in the state, with the product taxed and regulated like alcohol. However, the latest version also frames legalization as a matter of criminal justice reform....

"The bill would expand resentencing and reclassification of crimes for people previously convicted for marijuana, remove a positive marijuana test as justification for violating a person’s parole or probation and protect against discrimination in housing and employment based on a prior marijuana arrest or off-the-clock marijuana use."

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Libertarians get major party status in New Mexico

With easy ballot access, Libertarian Party seeks N.M. candidates; Dunn eyes bid for governor | Local News | - Morgan Lee, Associated Press:

November 13, 2017 - "A new political avenue toward statewide elected office and Congress may be opening in New Mexico as the Libertarian Party achieves major party status, giving its candidates ready access to the ballot in 2018.

"Failed presidential candidate Gary Johnson in 2016 won a historic consolation prize for the Libertarian Party by surpassing 5 percent of the popular vote in his home state of New Mexico, thereby lowering daunting signature requirements for Libertarian candidates.

"Strong showings at 2016 elections in Iowa, Kentucky and Massachusetts also are making it easier for the Libertarians to get on next year’s ballot.

"New Mexico State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, elected in 2014 as a Republican, is giving 'heavy consideration' to a run for governor under the Libertarian Party, his son and campaign adviser Blair Dunn said Monday.

"State Libertarian Party Chairwoman Elizabeth Hanes says at least five people have expressed interest in the Libertarian nomination for governor, though she declined to name them....

"A year ahead of the general election, the Libertarian Party in New Mexico has about 7,100 registered voters and just one declared candidate in a major race — who has yet to file a nominating petition. The filing deadline for federal and statewide candidates is Feb. 6.

"Grady Owens, a 32-year-old undergraduate astrophysics student in the tiny crossroads community of Mayhill, has begun collecting signatures for what he acknowledges as a longshot campaign to win New Mexico’s southern congressional district, where Pearce will not run for re-election. He has high hopes for the party that espouses minimal government and maximum personal freedom, but also said it has not been easy to track down signatures from registered Libertarians in rural Otero and Lincoln counties....

"Independent candidates have to gather about 15,000 signatures to run for governor in New Mexico, and about 6,800 for the state’s southern Congressional district. Minor-party candidates have to gather one-third of that amount. Under major-party status, Libertarian candidates would need just 230 signatures to enter the primary for governor, and as few as 77 for congress. They also need approval at a pre-primary Libertarian convention."

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Senators try to defund civil forfeiture expansion

Senators Push To Defund Jeff Sessions’ Civil Asset Forfeiture Expansion - Hit & Run : -  C.J. Ciaramella:

November 8, 2017 - "A bipartisan group of senators wants to defund Attorney General Jeff Sessions' expansion of the Justice Department's civil asset forfeiture program, following similar efforts by ... the House earlier this year.

"Sessions announced in July that he was scrapping a 2015 directive by former Attorney General Eric Holder that severely curtailed when federal authorities could 'adopt' asset forfeiture cases from local and state authorities. Such adoptions, civil rights group said, allowed local police to skirt stricter state forfeiture laws by taking their cases to federal court.

"In September, the Republican-led House of Representatives passed several amendments to a large appropriations bill that would prohibit the Justice Department from using any funds to enact Sessions' directive...

"In a letter to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), one of the lawmakers hammering out the difference between the House and Senate versions of the appropriations bill, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Angus King (I-Vt.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) pushed to include at least one of the amendments in the final version.

"'Adoptive forfeiture and equitable sharing are particularly egregious elements of civil asset forfeiture because they not only violate due process but also attack principles of federalism,' the senators wrote. 'DOJ's reinstated policy allows state law enforcement officers to circumvent state limitations on civil forfeiture by turning seized property over to federal officials for forfeiture in exchange for up to 80 percent of the proceeds of the property. This perversely incentivizes local law enforcement to confiscate suspect property even where state laws forbid the practice.'

"Asset forfeiture — a practice that allows police to seize property suspected of being connected to criminal activity, even when the owner is not charged with a crime — has come under criticism in recent years.... Police groups and prosecutors, as well as law-and-order conservatives like Sessions, argue it is an essential tool to disrupt organized crime by cutting off illicit proceeds. Civil liberties advocates say it leaves far too few protections for property owners and creates perverse profit incentives for law enforcement."

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Remembering 100 years of Communism

Remembering Communism | Winnipeg Sun - Hendrik van der Breggen, Providence University College,:

November 11, 2017 - "Fall 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the beginning of a grand experiment in communism. This social experiment had bitter fruit that shouldn’t be forgotten.

"Influenced by Karl Marx, the leaders of Soviet communism — Lenin, Stalin, and Co. (Comrades) — strived to create a utopian society. After taking power, the communists abolished private property and took control of the means of production (factories, farms). Their promise was that state control (a 'dictatorship of the proletariat') would be temporary. Eventually, new men and women would come into being.... A socialist heaven would finally come to earth....

"It turns out that the temporary dictatorship by the communist elite wasn’t temporary. And the Soviet experiment was a disaster.... Soviet communism’s killing of its own people makes Nazi death camps pale in comparison. Whereas 6 or 7 million died in the Nazi holocaust, ... historians estimate the Soviet death toll was 20 million, whereas Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (who lived in the Soviet Union) estimates 60 million.

"Of this total, approximately 5 or more million died at a result of the Soviets’ 1932-33 deliberate starvation of Ukraine.... Millions of Soviets also died in slave labour camps (a.k.a. Gulags, made famous by Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago). Underfed and living in sub-zero temperatures, citizens were worked to death or were murdered in the woods.... [M]any Soviet citizens were simply arrested, tortured, and shot.... for criticizing government or for suspicion of being a saboteur, other times to fill government quotas....

"According to The Black Book of Communism (Harvard University Press 1999), other communist regimes had similar disastrous results.
  • China: 65 million deaths
  • Vietnam: 1 million deaths
  • North Korea: 2 million deaths
  • Cambodia: 2 million deaths
"In total, over the past 100 years communist regimes have been responsible for about 100 million deaths (of their own people)....

"[C]apitalist societies have done wrong, of course. (And crony capitalism is especially problematic.) Nevertheless, ... governments in capitalist societies tend to be limited in their power. They protect private property, voluntary exchange, and individual freedoms; they do not tend to murder their own people en masse.

"It remains, then, that the killing of one’s own people has been extraordinarily huge in — and a salient feature of — communist societies.... The 2008 film The Soviet Story (available on YouTube) provides additional historical perspective on the bitter fruit of the 1917 Russian Revolution — bitter fruit that should never be forgotten."

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veteran’s Day reflections from a civil libertarian

Veteran’s Day Reflections From a Civil Libertarian Former Soldier | American Civil Liberties Union - Noah Strangio:

November 9. 2017 - "In the past few weeks, I’ve spent considerable time, far more than usual in fact, reflecting on what Veteran’s Day means to me both now and at different times in the past decade. Before joining the military, Veteran’s Day for me was what I imagine it to be for most Americans: a day to recognize the service that a portion of our population volunteered for and to thank the veterans and active duty service members I knew for serving and risking their lives for our country.

"While I was on active duty, Veteran’s Day was mostly a time to tune out the noise and check in on fellow soldiers at home and abroad. During this time, I developed a tradition of calling at least three soldiers I had served with each Veteran’s Day to say hello and see how they were doing.

"I have now been out of the Army for nearly four and a half years and, in many ways, the day has taken on increasing significance with each passing year. This year in particular, the day has taken on increased meaning in light of the initiatives coming out of the White House and the broader political climate.

"Earlier this year,I wrote about about the Trump administration’s unnecessary and immoral ban on transgender soldiers.... I give thanks and honor the transgender service members who not only have taken on the duties and responsibilities, risks and sacrifices of service, but ... with the knowledge that in an instant, all they have worked for could be taken away from them simply because of who they are.

"This targeting of transgender individuals is part of a larger climate in which veterans and service members are being exploited and disrespected for political gain. Recently, the discussion of veterans has seemed to present itself most frequently in the ongoing conversation surrounding the National Football League players who have chosen to kneel during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice. Many have characterized the actions of these players as 'protests against the anthem' or our country, which, to me as a veteran, is ludicrous.

"The day I enlisted in the Army, I held up my right hand and swore to 'defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.' And one of the most critical rights the Constitution’s Bill of Rights guarantees is 'the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.'

"There is simply no question that the right to peaceful protest is precisely what veterans fight to protect. It is woven directly into the oath we all took the day we enlisted, just like our obligation to fight for equal protection of the laws and the equal dignity of our fellow Americans and soldiers."

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Friday, November 10, 2017

New NJ governor committed to legalizing cannabis

Legal marijuana in 100 days? Pot proponents thrilled with Murphy - Louis C. Hochman, New Jersey 101.5 FM:

November 8, 2017 - "For proponents of legal recreational marijuana, Democrat Phil Murphy’s victory in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race is reason to celebrate. Murphy has said he wants to legalize and tax marijuana — it’s part of a plan that along with higher taxes on the wealthy he projects would bring in $1.3 billion in revenue a year. And he’s got strong support in the Legislature for doing so.

"All that has stood in the way of legal marijuana for the last few years is a sure-bet veto from current Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, who has derided marijuana as a gateway drug....

"'People like (State Sen.) Nick Scutari and (Senate President) Steve Sweeney and Phil Murphy want to bring this poison, legalized, into this state under the premise that, well, it doesn’t matter because people can buy it illegally anyway,' Christie said in May. 'Then why not legalize heroin? I mean, their argument fails just on that basis'....

"Scutari has said repeatedly he anticipates a marijuana legalization bill could be made law within the first 100 days of a Murphy administration. He’s gone so far as to introduce legislation that would tax recreational marijuana by 7 percent to start, with increases over the next few years.

“'We don’t want to make marijuana legal and have people still buying it from the street corner,' Scutari said in May. 'We want to bring it out of the shadows. We want to get our neighborhoods safer. We want to make sure that the product is affordable and is not something that we’re going to [have] undercut by people that are selling it illegally. The whole purpose of the program is to get rid of drug dealers.'

"[The] New Jersey CannaBusiness Association ... — headed by former Republican Assemblyman Scott Rudder — hailed Murphy’s win Tuesday night. 'Governor-Elect Murphy took a brave and compassionate position on cannabis legalization on the campaign trail,' Rudder said in a statement. He said his group would look to work with Murphy on 'common sense cannabis laws that will have a positive impact on civil justice reforms as well as an opportunity to create tens of thousands of new jobs and provide a much-needed boost to our ailing economy.'”

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

12 Libertarians win office in November elections

Libertarian Party Wins More Than a Dozen Elections Across the Nation - Hit & Run : - Brian Doherty:

November 8, 2017 - "The Libertarian Party participated in elections in 12 states yesterday: Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. The party's candidates won races (not always partisan ones) in the following states:
  • In Florida, party members were elected to the Altamonte Springs City Commission, the Coconut Grove Village Council, and the Cape Canaveral City Council.
  • In Pennsylvania, party members were elected Rome Township auditor, Spring Township auditor, auditor of Upper Providence, Victory Township supervisor, Houston Borough judge of elections, Exeter Township school director, Lower Nazareth auditor and judge of elections, constable in Sunbury, and member of the Houston Borough Council.
  • In Washington, party members were elected to the Long Beach City Council and the Covington City Council.
  • In North Carolina, a party member was elected to the Carthage Town Board of Commissioners.
"While nowhere near the spread between winning Democrat Ralph Northam and losing Republican Ed Gillespie, at least 29,000 Virginians voted for Libertarian Cliff Hyra for governor. Michelle Darnell won an impressive 32 percent in a Washington State Senate race in the Redmond area, though with only one major-party opponent, the winning Democrat.

"Details on the L.P.'s results yesterday can be found on the party's website."

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Do "Rand Paul's broken ribs prove the weakness of libertarianism"?

Libertarian Hero Meets The Justice Of The Streets (Err.. Suburbs) | Above the Law - Elie Mystal:

November 8, 2017 - "Senator Rand Paul was tackled by his own neighbor [who] broke five of his ribs. Paul, apparently, was riding around on his lawn mower with noise canceling earmuffs. He never saw or heard his neighbor who tackled him to the ground, causing him serious injuries....

"The thing everybody knows about Rand Paul is that he’s a libertarian and 'libertarian' always sounds like a fine legal and political theory to people who haven’t thought deeply about how to live with others.

"'You can do what you want and I can do what I want and, so long as we’re not hurting anybody, the government can do nothing.' It’s … cute, as theories of social interactions go. It’s not a workable basis for law and governance.

"Rand Paul’s broken ribs prove the weakness of libertarianism. According to reports, Rand Paul likes to grow pumpkins on his property. You might like pumpkins, but to some people, pumpkins are kind of big and ugly and, stinky.... Reports also indicate that Paul makes his own compost (also stinky) and 'has little interest for neighborhood regulations.' This, my friends, is what libertarianism looks like in practice. I’ll grow what I want, put trash where I want, and maintain my space however I want....

"Of course, the neighbors, who in the instant case had to live next to Rand Paul’s pumpkin spiced compost heap for 17 years, are left with little recourse. In Libertarian Land, all of the legal regulations that might restrain Paul’s behavior do not exist. They don’t believe in 'zoning'.... But without laws, we are in the state of nature. And in the state of nature, if you keep growing smelly pumpkins and throwing your yard clippings all over the place, somebody is going to tackle you and break your ribs....

"Rand Paul’s broken ribs are a goddamn case study in why we need regulations.... To live in a Libertarian society is to never know the peace of being able to mow your lawn without keeping your head on a swivel."

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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Trump cracking down on legal immigration, too

Trump's Assault on Legal High-Skilled Immigration - - Stuart Anderson:

October 30, 2017 - "Almost since day one, restrictionists in President Donald Trump's inner circle targeted not just undocumented low-skilled workers but also legal high-skilled ones.... The White House's 'Buy American and Hire American' executive order, drafted largely by restrictionist Trump aide Stephen Miller within months of Trump assuming office, ordered the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies to 'rigorously enforce and administer the laws governing entry into the United States of workers from abroad' with an eye toward creating 'higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States.' And the agencies aren't wasting any time....  Here are just a few of the things they've done:
  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) just last week instructed its adjudicators to no longer 'defer to prior determinations,' approvals and findings of facts for the renewal of H-1Bs and other high-skilled visas. This means that when high-tech foreigners try to extend their H-1B after three years, the government having previously approved their applications — involving the same set of facts — means nothing. For employers, it will create uncertainty and additional paperwork burden.
  • USCIS is also issuing 'exponentially more' of what are called 'requests for evidence' when an employer first petitions for an H-1B visa, according to BNA Bloomberg. This means that employers must submit additional evidence regarding salaries and job duties.... 
  • USCIS adjudicators are also far more suspicious of H-1B petitions where employers offer the lower end of the prevailing wage spectrum, for example when hiring fresh graduates with less job experience.... 
  • The Trump administration is delaying whether to defend a regulation that allows certain spouses of H-1B visa holders to work. Tens of thousands of qualified spouses are currently locked out of the job market because their visas bar them from working.
"But what's sending fear and trembling in the high-tech community is an expected rule change that will eliminate the STEM OPT (Optional Practical Training) program that the Bush administration first implemented.... This program allows about 45,000 new foreign STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students annually to work in the country after graduation not just one year, as is the case with non-STEM students, but three. This adds an important 'practical' aspect to their education and gives them much-needed time to land jobs and stay in America via an H-1B....

"In the absence of STEM OPT, American companies that want to hang on to these students will hire them and place them outside the United States. 'Without an H-1B program supported by the current STEM OPT option, Cummins and other employers will be forced to move our employees and their jobs outside the U.S.,' said Lorrie Meyer, executive director for global talent management at Indiana-based manufacturer Cummins Inc.... That is the opposite, of course, of the goal of 'America First.'"

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Cliff Hyra condemns opponents' name-calling

Calling himself the 'grown-up in the room,' Libertarian Cliff Hyra bashes Gillespie and Northam over harsh attack ads | Virginia Politics | - Graham Moomaw, Richmond Times-Dispatch:

November 2, 2017 - "Libertarian Cliff Hyra wants Virginians to ignore the attack ads in the governor’s race featuring MS-13 gang members, pedophiles and neo-Nazis.... On Thursday, less than a week before Tuesday’s election, Hyra held a news conference at the state Capitol to emphasize his dismay over the 'wild-eyed accusations and divisive rhetoric' flying between Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam and their supporters.

"'I fear for the future of our commonwealth and of our nation [when] even the most staid candidates feel that they have to descend to this level of discourse ...' said Hyra, a 35-year-old Mechanicsville patent attorney who will appear on the ballot ... as the only third-party candidate for governor.... '“It’s unbelievable to me that I had to be the grown-up in the room, because these 60-year-old men, these establishment politicians, a sitting lieutenant governor and a (former) chairman of the Republican National Committee apparently think that the best strategy (for) getting elected to the highest position of the state is name-calling'.....

"Gillespie has invested heavily in ads attacking Northam as soft on the Latino street gang MS-13 because Northam voted against a ban on sanctuary cities earlier this year, even though no sanctuary cities exist in Virginia. Gillespie has also used the case of a convicted sex offender to bash Northam for supporting Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s expansive approach to restoring felons’ voting rights.

"Northam and the rest of the Democratic ticket put out a mailer linking Gillespie and President Donald Trump to the Tiki torch-carrying white supremacists who have rallied in Charlottesville, despite Gillespie’s repeated denunciations of the group. An outside group, the Latino Victory Fund, put out a video ad showing a pickup truck with a Confederate flag and Gillespie bumper sticker chasing down minority children....

"All of it, Hyra said, has distracted from real policy discussions that could better serve voters. He ticked off several of his own policy positions, which include legalizing marijuana and other criminal justice reforms, scrapping SOL testing, protecting property owners from eminent domain 'abuse,' opposing proposed pipelines, and cutting taxes and regulation.

"Hyra was not invited to participate in any of the three gubernatorial debates, and his poll numbers have reflected the limited ability of third-party candidates to break through.... He said he’d like to hit 10 percentage points, which would make it easier for Libertarians to get on the ballot in future elections."

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

The original libertarian New Country project

The Libertarian Dream Was Tried Here | History News Network - Harry Blutstein:

October 15, 2017 - "A Nevada-based real estate developer and coin dealer, Michael Oliver, had a dream.  A libertarian, he wanted to escape the overbearing clutches of governments. The only way to do so, he decided, was to create his own country, where there would be few or no rules.  In 1968, he published A New Constitution for a New Country, a practical guide on how to construct a new nation in which 'people will be free to do as they damn well please.  Nothing will be illegal so long it does not infringe on the rights of others.  If a citizen wishes to open a tavern, set up gambling or make pornographic films, the government will not interfere.'  Income would be generated from fees from ... banks wishing to establish offshore services ... and ...transnational corporations ... to establish their headquarters without bothersome rules or taxation.  It would even issue its own currency.

"Pulling together around 2,000 investors, Oliver established the Ocean Life Research Foundation.  With funds raised, Oliver’s first idea was to find a country that would be willing to sell his foundation one of its islands.... When he couldn’t find any takers, Oliver looked around for an unclaimed island....

"The best Oliver could do was Minerva Reef, in the middle of the Pacific, 500 km (260 miles) southeast of Tonga.  It had never been claimed, despite being discovered as far back as 1854.  There were, however, serious problems ... not the least being that the reef lies ... about four feet under water at high tide.

"Undaunted, in January 1971, Oliver and a small party went to Fiji, where they chartered a 54-foot motor sailer and purchased the materials to create artificial islands on the reef.  On their arrival at Minerva, the party unloaded large hunks of coral wrapped in chicken wire, concrete blocks, sand and other rubble, which allowed them to build two micro-islands on the reef.  On one of these islands, they built a small stone tower and hoisted its flag: a yellow torch of freedom on a solid blue background.  The founding fathers of Minerva hoped to expand the reclaimed land until it would eventually support a city of 30,000 citizens....

"Unfortunately for Oliver, Australia ... pressured Tonga, being the closest country to Minerva, to act.

"Taking up the challenge was King Tāufa’āhau Tupou IV.... On June 21, 1972, he led an expeditionary force to invade the Principality of Minerva. Without an army or navy to call on, the king recruited a five-man convict work detail to undertake the invasion and ... a four-piece brass band played the Tongan national anthem from on-board the royal yacht Olovaba to inspire the troops. Taking courage, when he saw that Minerva was unoccupied, the king decided to personally lead his force. Once the tide was out, the king went ashore. After tearing down [the] Minervan flag, he read aloud a proclamation of sovereignty. The reef now belonged to ... Tonga.

"When the king was safely back on board the royal yacht, his ragtag troops were left to dismantle the stone tower....  What up until now had been a bloodless war turned nasty, as a fight broke out between two of the convicts, and one was killed. So, while the Principality of Minerva never had a live population, it was left with a single gravesite, which was all that remained of the shortest and smallest war in the history of the world, and even that grave soon disappeared, as did the Principality of Minerva when successive storms washed away its artificial islands."

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Seasteading community may be reality by 2020

Seasteaders to bring a libertarian floating community to the South Pacific - - Audrey Wachs, The Architect's Newspaper:

October 27, 2017 - "Right now, engineers, scientists, and officials from one country in the South Pacific are hashing out ... an ambitious experiment in aquatic living that’s shaped by libertarian dreams, a pragmatic response to climate change, and a novel architectural experiment.

"'Seasteaders want voluntary societies based on choice, not force,' said Joe Quirk, Seasteading Institute communications director and author, in a YouTube video on the subject. The San Francisco-based organization is on the front lines of the seasteading movement, a Libertarian-influenced crusade that borrows from the language of the American frontier to frame its freewheeling settlement at sea. Decentralized dwelling, the thinking goes, permits members to join or leave the autonomous association at will by simply detaching their dwellings and floating off,... If this sounds far-fetched, well, the first seasteaders may hit the water in just a few years.

"The community could be afloat soon — like, 2020 soon. The Floating Islands Project, as it is officially known, ... found a partner in French Polynesia, an island country in the South Pacific. This January, French Polynesia signed a memorandum of understanding with the Seasteading Institute in San Francisco to build a floating island prototype. The project, off the coast of Tahiti, has to demonstrate it won’t adversely impact the environment, and show what it will contribute to the island’s economy, and then the nation will establish an offshore economic zone for the seasteaders.

"Although seasteading’s libertarian ideals perhaps make French Polynesia — well, any nation — an unlikely partner, ... the country’s thousands of islands are flat and narrow, a topographic combination that is particularly susceptible to climate change. Floating islands could be a vital survival strategy if (but really, when) the seas rise. In turn, the area’s shallow water and ocean conditions that don’t include high waves make the current technology — which has been pioneered on flat water — more adaptable to ocean conditions.

"By the end of this year, the Institute, which was founded in 2008 by libertarian activist Patri Friedman, is working with French Polynesian officials to pass a seazone act. If the rules pass, the group will head to Tahiti to develop a pilot program....

"Dutch firm DeltaSync has built a prototype on a lake in Rotterdam. The Floating Pavilion Research suggests that buildings up to 164 feet (15 stories) tall can be built on the seas and are able to withstand storms and choppy waters. Four years ago, DeltaSync debuted a preliminary plan which estimated that a series of platforms for 20 to 30 people would cost around $15 million. With one-fifth of the space reserved for open greenery, the firm estimates living space would cost about $500 per square foot, which is just over half as much as the average price per square foot in New York City....

"It’s no surprise that the project has — or had — high-profile fans in Silicon Valley. Gawker shutter-downer and Trump supporter Peter Thiel funneled a cool 1.7 million dollars into the initiative, but has since dismissed the concept as 'not quite feasible.' Quirk and others at the Institute have a new company, Blue Frontiers, whose mission is to develop and build the floating seabeds."

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Friday, November 3, 2017

Protect Freedom PAC backs 'allies of Rand Paul'

New Libertarian PAC plans to promote Eric Brakey's U.S. Senate bid | Lewiston Sun Journal - Steve Collins: 

November 2, 2017 - "A new political action committee devoted to supporting 'pro-freedom and pro-liberty candidates across the country' vowed Thursday to lend a hand to Republican Eric Brakey’s U.S. Senate campaign in Maine.

"The Protect Freedom PAC said it has more than $1 million already in its coffers and plans to focus initially on helping a gubernatorial candidate in Idaho and Brakey, a state senator from Auburn who hopes next year to unseat U.S. Sen. Angus King, a first-term independent.

"The new political action committee aims to help 'current and future allies' of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, a lawmaker whose father, Ron Paul, helped spread libertarian thinking. Brakey has worked for the presidential campaigns of both father and son in the past.

"The lead consultant for Project Freedom PAC is Michael Biundo of New Hampshire, who served as national senior adviser to Rand Paul’s unsuccessful bid for president last year. Biundo also worked for President Donald Trump’s campaign.

"In a prepared statement, Biundo said the new organization 'believes that we need more public servants who will be strong voices for liberty. With the help of our like-minded donors, Protect Freedom PAC will utilize specific tactics, technologies, and strategies to ensure we get more pro-freedom conservatives elected to public office.'

"He said that Brakey and Idaho gubernatorial hopeful Raul Labrador 'are two perfect examples of the liberty-minded conservatives we need fighting for the values we hold dear.'"

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Canadian judge bans federal election deposits

Globe editorial: A judge bans federal election deposits, and it makes sense - The Globe and Mail:

October 31, 2017 - "If you want to run in a federal election, you have to meet certain requirements before Elections Canada will accept your nomination. They include gathering 100 signatures from voters in the riding you want to run in, a witness who will swear that those signatures were honestly provided, and – until last week – a $1,000 deposit.

A judge in Alberta ruled in October that the first two requirements are fine but the deposit is unconstitutional, because it raises an unreasonable hurdle for poorer Canadians who want to run for federal office.

"The question now is, will Ottawa appeal? It shouldn't.

"The case was brought by an Edmonton man who was barred from running as an independent in the 2015 general election.... Kieran Szuchewycz subsequently challenged the three rules.... The judge found the first two – gathering 100 signatures and getting a witness to swear to their legitimacy – are reasonable limits on Canadians' Charter right to run for office.

"But the $1,000 deposit was another matter. The need for a deposit was brought in more than 100 years ago to prevent 'frivolous' candidates from running in federal elections. But, as Justice Avril Inglis noted, the rules don't define what constitutes a 'frivolous' candidate. As well, 'the deposit requirement cannot be said to be rationally connected to that objective' – in other words, any Donald Trump with $1,000 can run, while an intelligent, serious candidate who is short of funds can't.

"The fact that the deposit is refundable if a candidate files paperwork after an election makes no difference, the judge said. In reality, all it does is serve as a filter 'for those that cannot part with $1,000 for the duration of the election.'

"Independent candidates are part of a healthy democracy. They bring ideas and viewpoints to constituency races that are outside the boilerplate discourse of the major registered political parties."

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Economist: Atlas is about to shrug in Britain

In Britain, Atlas is about to shrug - Bagehot - Adrian Woolridge, The Economist:

August 24, 2017 - "In Atlas Shrugged, published 60 years ago this October, Ayn Rand asked what would happen if society’s most talented businesspeople got so fed up with being taxed, regulated and otherwise messed about by government that they went on strike. Innovation would cease. The economy would stagnate. And government, starved of easy pickings, would become more bullying.

"The world’s fifth-largest economy is in the early stages of its own experiment with driving Atlas crazy. Since the Thatcher revolution of the 1980's Britain has been one of the most open and business-friendly large economies.... But the settlement is under assault from two directions. The Conservative Party is negotiating Britain’s departure from the European Union, disrupting long-established flows of trade, talent and capital. Meanwhile, the main opposition party is led by a hard-leftist who wants to consign Thatcherism to the dustbin of history.

"Brexit is already beginning to damage Britain’s most globalised industry, finance. Most big investment banks have shifted some people and operations to the continent as a hedge.... Oliver Wyman, a consultancy, predicts that up to 75,000 finance jobs, or 7% of the total, will leave if Britain loses easy access to the single market. EY, another consultancy, puts the figure at 83,000....

"Jeremy Bernard Corbyn ... stands on the verge of power.... There is little chance that Mr Corbyn would moderate his hard-leftism in government. He has been banging the same drums for 30 years, and is surrounded by fellow-travellers such as John McDonnell, his shadow chancellor, and Seumas Milne, his chief strategist, whose biggest disagreement is over whether Stalin or Trotsky is the greater inspiration. He is supported by snarling activists in the Momentum campaigning group and the Unite trade union.... He believes that change comes through conflict rather than consensus, so will expect the markets and media to tell him he is ruining the country: that’s what the reactionary establishment does.

"The combined result of Brexit and Corbyn could be the dystopia that Rand warned about: a stagnant society driven by resentment of the successful. The flight of talent will not only have a knock-on effect on the wider economy.... It will also reduce the state’s revenues, since the top 1% of earners pay almost 30% of income tax and the top 10% pay nearly 60%. Mr Corbyn seems to think that all he need do is to ask 'the rich' to pay 'a little bit more' and everything will be fine. But why would successful people put up with higher taxes, particularly if they follow on the heels of Brexit-related uncertainty and disruption? As Luke Johnson, a serial entrepreneur, points out, the world is full of places where Britain’s Atlases would be welcome, from neighbouring countries like France, which is courting London’s bankers and tech workers, to emerging markets such as Dubai and Singapore. When Atlas shrugs, the whole of Albion suffers."

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