Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Hill.TV host called out on antilibertarian screed

Saagar Enjeti defends calls for conservatives to ditch libertarianism | TheHill:

December 30, 2019 - "Hill.TV host Saagar Enjeti hit back at billionaire Clifford Asness on Monday after the hedge fund manager criticized his calls for conservatives to ditch libertarianism. 'Clifford Asness’s corrupt and indignant hypocrisy is exactly the corporatism that I was calling out in that monologue, which triggered him,' Enjeti said....

"Over the weekend, Asness, who has since deleted his Twitter account, pushed back against Enjeti's critique of libertarianism, saying 'there is nothing libertarian about crony capitalism,' before adding that 'libertarians have called it out first and loudest'.... '[B]raying populists of the right now think they’re edgy and smart by decrying them,' Asness, who identifies as a libertarian, tweeted in a thread in response to Enjeti.

"These remarks were in response to an October monologue in which Enjeti said that conservatives have to 'ditch the libertarian streak and challenge concentrated power in the corporate form that we find it today.'

"Enjeti also doubled down on his criticism of libertarianism on Monday. 'Libertarianism in practice is a selective, corporate welfare ideology pushed by the financial industry and big business in Washington,' he said.

"Asness is one of the most prominent fund managers in the world. He has a personal net worth of $2.6 billion, according to Forbes, and the firm that he co-founded, AQR Capital Management, oversees an estimated $200 billion in assets."

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Monday, December 30, 2019

NYC cops seize CBD merchant's hemp supply

Oren Levy Finally Has His Hemp Back, but the NYPD Nearly Killed His CBD Business – Reason.com - Zuri Davis::

December 30, 2019 - "Oren Levy has spent the last six years selling and promoting the benefits of herbal remedies, including cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating compound found in both marijuana and hemp. But it wasn't until after Congress decriminalized hemp, the source of Levy's CBD, that Levy had his first shipment confiscated....

"Levy's New York-based Green Angel CBD used FedEx Freight in November 2019 to send a 106-pound shipment of hemp flower from Fox Holler Farms in Vermont to New York. The shipment has an estimated value of $50,000 to $60,000.... FedEx Freight alerted the Williston Police Department (WPD) in Vermont that a customer was possibly attempting to ship marijuana..... WPD ... examined two of the FedEx boxes and ... each box contained documentation showing the plant matter inside had only 0.06 percent THC.... WPD concluded in its report that the product appeared to be legal hemp and declined to seize the shipment....

"After entering New York City, a FedEx driver took Levy's hemp shipment straight to the New York Police Department's 75th Precinct. Officers there ignored the documentation, seized Levy's shipment of hemp as if it were marijuana, and then bragged about their major 'bust' in now-deleted social media posts. The NYPD also contacted Levy, asking him to come to the precinct to pick up his shipment. The call was a ruse. Levy ... sent his brother Ronan Levy in his place. Upon his arrival, Ronan was arrested, charged with six counts of marijuana possession, and jailed....

"With the NYPD in possession of his shipment and his brother in need of legal help, Levy's business began to suffer.... He had to turn to family and friends for money, and then watch helplessly as the NYPD mischaracterized his business. 'My suppliers are scared to deal with me,' he said. 'My clients who have kids are scared to deal with me.'

"The charges against Ronan Levy were officially dropped December 10, but ... the NYPD still had the shipment in its possession and the D.A. wasn't sure how to interpret New York's hemp laws....  New York law defines marijuana as 'all parts of the plant of the genus Cannabis,' which includes hemp. While Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation this month that will bring New York hemp laws up to date with the federal farm bill, the specifics won't be ironed out until January at the earliest....

"Just days before Christmas, Levy tweeted that the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office approved the release of his shipment, and he received it on Monday, December 23.... Upon receiving his shipment, Levy was treated to another gift. The paperwork that the NYPD claimed the shipment didn't contain was still attached to the boxes."

Read more: https://reason.com/2019/12/30/oren-levy-finally-has-his-hemp-back-but-the-nypd-nearly-killed-his-cbd-business/
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Sunday, December 29, 2019

Eastwood's 'most self-consciously libertarian film'

Clint Eastwood's 'Richard Jewell' Movie Is Remarkably Libertarian- Katya Sedgwick:

December 20, 2019 - "I generally resent recommending art for political reasons..... In the case of Richard Jewell, however, the unusual point of view moves the film in a novel direction and makes it a compelling standout feature. Director Clint Eastwood is an avowed libertarian, and Richard Jewell is probably the single most self-consciously libertarian film he’s ever made.

"Of course, I don’t understand everything about Eastwood’s brand of libertarianism. His support of gun control, for instance.... Moreover, the actor/director has endorsed an array of big-government politicians in California. I am going to give Eastwood a pass on all of that, however, because his job isn’t to be consistent. His job is to create compelling cinema, and he delivers that, film after film.

"Richard Jewell is probably not his strongest work. It leaves little room for suspense and is a bit predictable, in part because we all know the story: Security guard Richard Jewell find[s] a suspicious backpack at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, which turns out to be a bomb that kills two people and injures more than 100. At first heralded as a hero, Jewell soon becomes the FBI’s primary suspect and the target of a media rampage.

"It is exquisitely acted, however, with Eastwood’s minimalist directing style shining through. The characters Eastwood introduces are as familiar to the American psyche as they are unusual to meet onscreen: a hard-working and loving, if TV-addicted, single mom; a geeky, libertarian lawyer; an overweight, overzealous copper....

"I can think of two reasons Eastwood continues to create novel but easily recognizable characters. First, he makes films from the point of view of ordinary Americans. Second, he makes libertarian films. Since libertarianism is a very American worldview, one reason blends into the other....

"Most of the films produced in this country today are ideological and amount to some sort of soft Marxism. It’s hard to imagine that in different hands, Jewell’s persona would morph into anything other than a villain or an unfortunate victim of circumstances, but in Eastwood’s reading, he is an individual in his own right....

"Libertarianism is right next door to anarchy, but somehow not many artists are interested in making films representing that outlook. The pent-up demand for this type of entertainment has surfaced since the emergence of the Tea Party in the beginning of President Barack Obama’s first term. Ten years later, there’s finally a movie about healthy, vocal mistrust of the state and the media, and the tension between respect for authority and individual autonomy.

"Nobody in the world can possibly make a film like that except for American artists, and out of all big-name directors in America, Eastwood is the only one who picks up this opportunity.... American filmmakers should try to work with libertarian themes because these creators are in an ideal position to explore them, and taking that kind of risk would lead their craft in a new, interesting direction. We’ve all seen filmmakers’ cookie-cutter wokeness. Show us something new."

Read more: https://thefederalist.com/2019/12/20/clint-eastwoods-richard-jewell-reveals-an-appetite-for-libertarian-entertainment/
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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Iowa Libertarians to livestream presidential forum

Libertarian Party of Iowa to host presidential candidate forum - KCRG TV9:

December 27, 2019 - "In February the Libertarian Party of Iowa will host its first ever presidential candidate forum during their annual state convention ... slated for February 28th at the Grand View University Student Center in Des Moines.

"The candidate forum will include Kimberly Ruff, a political activist; Jacob Hornberger, the founder of Future of Freedom Foundation; Rep. Max Abramson for the state of New Hampshire; Daniel Behrman, a podcast host and entrepreneur; Ken Armstrong, a former NATO Base Commander; and Jo Jorgenson, [the] 1996 Libertarian Vice Presidential Nominee.

"The forum will be live-streamed by the Libertarian Party.

"The convention will also include party business, electing their 2020 State Central Committee, and keynote speakers. They include former Governor of Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee, Greene County Attorney Thomas Laehn and Libertarian National Committee Representative Joshua Smith.

Read more: https://www.kcrg.com/content/news/Libertarian-Party-of-Iowa-to-host-presidential-candidate-forum-566514171.html

Friday, December 27, 2019

U.S. cannabis reform stalled in Senate

Legislative Losses for Cannabis This Month - Slog - The Stranger - Josh Jardine:

December 24, 2019 - "In 2019, optimism was in short supply no matter the subject, save cannabis. Numerous blogs, columns, and discussions revolved around how this was the year things were going to change.... Except [they] didn’t, and likely won’t, at least not anytime soon. While incremental progress was made ... the potential victories hoped for at the federal level failed to manifest in a big way....

"The Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE Act). ... passed [the House of Representatives] with surprisingly strong bipartisan support in September gaining 91 Republican votes. SAFE would allow banks and financial institutions to work with the cannabis industry, which would be of tremendous value to both the cannabis and banking industries..... Except...

"Last week, the Chair of the Senate Banking Committee Michael Crapo (R.-Idaho) announced that he isn’t down with the SAFE Act as it stands, and suggested some less than stellar potential changes which would effectively gut it. Per Marijuana Biz Daily: 'The Idaho Republican is considering a 2% THC potency cap on cannabis products for businesses to be eligible for financial services, substantially below current levels of 12% or more typically seen on retail shelves in state-legal markets.... Crapo stated that he remains opposed to federal cannabis legalization, interstate cannabis commerce and Idaho establishing a regulated cannabis program.'

"The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement Act, or MORE Act became the most comprehensive piece of cannabis legalization legislation to ever gain traction.... Last month the House Judiciary Committee passed it, sending it to the full house. But many believe its chances of getting to the Senate, much less gaining Senate support remain next to nil. That’s in large part to the current Senate majority leader ... Mitch McConnell.... Last year he told reporters that 'I do not have any plans to endorse the legalization of marijuana'....

"In fact, the most recent legislative actions ... had numerous cannabis-related amendments removed. Those included prohibiting the Feds from interfering with states with legal cannabis programs, and helping to protect banks which provide financial services to cannabis businesses. The Senate opted not to include these into the bill, and also added language to keep the District of Columbia from establishing a legal cannabis sales program using its own tax revenue....

"As Marijuana Moment notes 'These spending bills, which were released on Monday, are the latest losses for cannabis reform in the appropriations process. Defense authorization legislation released last week also saw two House-passed veterans-focused marijuana provisions scrapped by bicameral negotiators. Those measures would have protected veterans from being denied home loans from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs due to their employment in a state-legal cannabis business and allowed the heads of military branches to grant reenlistment waivers to individuals convicted of a single, low-level marijuana offense.'"

Read more: https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2019/12/23/42373161/legislative-losses-for-cannabis-this-month
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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Colorado Libertarians celebrate Festivus

GoLocalProv | Former Governor Chafee Celebrates Festivus with Colorado Libertarians:

December 16, 2019 - "While many Christians were celebrating Christmas on Wednesday and members of the Jewish faith are enjoying Hanukkah this week, former U.S. Senator and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee was recently in Colorado at a Festivus celebration with the Libertarian Party.

"'Festivus is a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 as an alternative to the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas season. Originally created by author Daniel O'Keefe, Festivus entered popular culture after it was made the focus of the 1997 Seinfeld episode "The Strike." which O'Keefe's son, Dan O'Keefe, co-wrote,' according to a definition on Wikipedia....

"Chafee ran for President as a Democrat in 2016. Now, he is a Libertarian candidate in 2020 for President."

Read more: https://www.golocalprov.com/politics/former-governor-chafee-celebrates-festivus-with-colorado-libertarians
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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

A Christmas cartoon

I'm sure that we're all too busy for writing and reading blogs today; so here's a cartoon, courtesy of Dan Mitchell's International Liberty weblog:

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

AZ Libertarians appeal to SCOTUS to get on ballot

Libertarian Party tells Supreme Court state law keeps its candidates off ballot | News | tucson.com - Mamta Popat, Tucson Star:

December 21, 2019 - "The Arizona Libertarian Party is making a last-ditch effort to quash a state statute that it says was designed to keep its candidates off the ballot. In filings with the U.S. Supreme Court, attorney Oliver Hall from the Center for Competitive Democracy said the law pushed through the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2015 sharply increased — sometimes by a factor of 30 — the number of signatures needed for Libertarian candidates to qualify for the ballot.

"That wasn’t by accident. In fact the record shows that J.D. Mesnard, then a GOP representative from Chandler and now a state senator, told colleagues that Republicans would have been elected to two congressional seats had it not been for what he said were Libertarian candidates in the same race siphoning votes that otherwise would have gone to the GOP contenders. 'I can’t believe we wouldn’t see the benefit of this,' Mesnard said during a floor speech....

"Only one Libertarian qualified for the ballot in 2016 — and none at all in 2018. 'Arizona has relegated the Arizona Libertarian Party to a state of electoral purgatory,' Hall wrote. 'The party is ballot-qualified under Arizona law, but it cannot place its candidates on the ballot'....

"So far, Hall’s arguments have failed to sway federal judges. They concluded the wording of that 2015 law, strictly speaking, treats all parties equally in how they get their candidates qualified for the ballot. But it’s the way the system actually works that is behind the litigation.

"Prior to 2015, candidates for recognized minor parties could get on the ballot simply by submitting petitions with the signatures of one-half of 1% of those registered with the party. In 2018 for the Libertarians, a statewide candidate would have had to collect around 160 names.

"That year, the Republicans who control the Legislature lowered the requirement for all parties to one-quarter of 1%. But they engineered it so the figure was based not on party registration but on all who could sign a candidate’s petition. That added political independents to the base, who actually outnumber Democrats and run a close second to Republicans.

"So in 2018 the minimum signature requirement for a Libertarian running statewide was 3,153, about 10% of all those actually registered as Libertarians. Meanwhile the numbers for Republican and Democrat nominations remained close to what [they] always had been: 6,223 signatures for GOP candidates and 5,801 for Democrats, both a small fraction of each party’s voter registration."

Read more: https://tucson.com/news/arizona_news/libertarian-party-tells-supreme-court-state-law-keeps-its-candidates/article_d6f9288e-2251-5639-9c4a-9af705e75e0c.html
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Monday, December 23, 2019

Amash promoted for impeachment manager role

Opinion | A Voice of Conscience - The New York Times - David Leonhardt:
December 18, 2019 - "In the history of impeachment inquiries, members of the president’s own party who criticized him played a big role. They were often held up as voices of conscience whose criticism underscored the president’s wrongdoing.... So count me among those who hope House Democrats choose Justin Amash — the conservative Michigan congressman who recently switched from Republican to independent — to be one of their impeachment managers. Amash is evidently interested in the role, and several first-term House Democrats are pushing party leaders to select him.

"If they do so, they would be giving a high-profile role in the Senate trial to a politician who can’t easily be portrayed as just another partisan Democrat. Trump and his enablers will still try to do so, of course. But Amash increases the chances that a small number of Trump supporters and swing voters might be persuaded.... For more:
  • "Susan Hennessey, Lawfare: 'This would be a very shrewd choice. Not only is Amash a conservative, he is a very effective questioner and has a gift for rooting his analysis in core constitutional concerns.'
  • "Jamil Smith, Rolling Stone:... '@justinamash has been articulating the strategy for impeachment better than most, regardless of party. That is the best argument for this.'
  • "Marcy Wheeler, a national security journalist: 'I’m a constituent of Justin Amash … And I’m solidly in support of the idea — floated by thirty freshman Democrats — for Amash to be among the Impeachment Managers presenting the case in the Senate.... It is critical to have a voice making the conservative case for upholding the Constitution. … Well before queasy Democrats in swing districts came around to the necessity of impeaching President Trump, Amash left his party and took a stand to defend the Constitution.'
  • "Ben Mathis-Lilley of Slate on Amash:... ''His existence is a reminder that ... the case for removing Trump does not require one to hold a left-of-center belief system and is, in fact, supported by many non-Democrats. There’s no better answer to the Republican talking point about how zero Republicans support impeaching Trump than to draw attention to a person who would still be a prominent Republican if the party didn’t have a Trump loyalty requirement.'"
Libertarians eye Amash for 2020? Party chair says impeachment role could boost ex-Republican | Salon.com:
December 17, 2019 - "Adding Amash  'to the team of House impeachment managers would strengthen the presentation of evidence in the Senate trial and would be a smart move on the part of Speaker Pelosi,' Libertarian chair Nicholas Sarwark told Salon by email Monday.... Sarwark added, ... 'Libertarian Party delegates could be impressed if he does well in such a role, and it may increase calls for him to seek the Libertarian Party nomination next May at our national convention in Austin.'

'Of all the members of Congress, his positions seem to most closely match those of the Libertarian Party, so he would likely have a base of support within the party if he joins the contest that will be decided in Austin next May,' Sarwark told Salon by email in July. Amash has not ruled out the possibility."

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/18/opinion/trump-impeachment-justin-amash.html
Read more: https://www.salon.com/2019/12/17/libertarians-eye-amash-for-2020-party-chair-says-impeachment-role-could-boost-ex-republican/
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Sunday, December 22, 2019

The five worst Christmas songs

The Five Worst Christmas Songs (And Scathing Rebuttals) - Squiggly Line Guy, Libertarian Republic:

December 3, 2019 - "The Five Worst Christmas Songs (And Scathing Rebuttals)

I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
"Listen up kid, you could have starred in your own feel-good Original Hallmark Movie about saving your parents’ marriage on Christmas. Instead you wrote this ridiculous song. You could have tipped your father off without making a complete fool of him on the radio. I’m sure you’re sitting there wondering what’s taking him so long to get back home with that pack of cigarettes he went out for....

Last Christmas
"You whiny emo douchebag.... Did it ever occur to you that there is more than one day a year? It’s rather insulting to not pay attention to someone the other 364 days and then act like you’re the 2nd Coming of Jesus on Christmas. But the very next day it was back to playing video games and watching sports ALL THE TIME. Who could blame her for junking that? Get over yourself, and quit making her out to be the problem. This has been happening to you every year since 1984....

White Christmas ...
"A good Christmas song needs to be universally applicable. Southern states don’t even get snow. The concept of dreaming of a White Christmas doesn’t even make sense to people in the South. [Correction: We have been informed by David Duke that dreaming of a White Christmas makes perfect sense to people in the South]

The Christmas Shoes
"Look, I know that we’re trying to be as inclusive as possible here … but the whole Mommy got cancer for Christmas [thing] is seriously jumping the shark....

You're a Mean One, Mr Grinch ...
"Did you all ever think that maybe The Grinch is the way he is because every five minutes someone is singing a song about what a piece of [crap] he is? Look, there’s only so much that someone can take. Maybe he didn’t hate Christmas. Maybe he hated The Whos and their stupid moobs that stick out past their bellies and their dumb songs and Mitt Romney look-a-like mayors.... Like, ... I could have been taking a nap with the Lorax but instead I’m stuck in a snowy cave having to hear all the Noise Noise NOISE?"

Read more: https://thelibertarianrepublic.com/the-five-worst-christmas-songs-and-scathing-rebuttals/
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Saturday, December 21, 2019

Afghanistan Papers show years of official lying

The ‘Afghanistan Papers’ Confirm Critics’ Worst Fears About America’s Longest War – Reason.com - Steven Greenjut, Orange County Register:

December 20, 2019 - "It's been 18 years since the United States invaded Afghanistan in what officials promised to be a decisive mission to uproot a breeding ground for Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. You're totally not shocked to learn that things didn't quite work out as promised, and that the government repeatedly misled the public about its level of success, about the fundamental purpose of the endeavor and just about everything....

"That's how government behaves — not that many readers believed anti-war libertarians as we warned about such things at the time. I'm surprised it took so long for anyone to notice, and that the latest evidence — a meticulously reported project by The Washington Post — has been met with yawns. It's hard to compete for attention with the ongoing impeachment proceedings, but the 'Afghan Papers' should cause heads to roll (or explode)....

"On the Orange County Register editorial board, we issued our warnings about overseas commitments — the costs in lives and treasure and the impossibility of turning impoverished backwaters into modern democracies. We were accused of basically being bad Americans. Yet the Afghan and Iraq conflicts turned out pretty much as we and other critics predicted, as the Post report reveals in maddening detail.

"Most people have long realized that Iraq was a debacle ... that had little to do with the 9/11 attacks, but Afghanistan seemed more defensible given that the Taliban and Islamic fundamentalists clearly had set up shop there. But the Post report suggests that even that reality didn't make the war's focus clear....  The newspaper found 'that as the war dragged on, the goals and mission kept changing and a lack of faith in the U.S. strategy took root' at the highest levels. Officials couldn't even agree on the purpose of the war....

"The arrogance of American officials always amazed me. Our country's large-scale efforts to transform parts of this country — the War on Poverty, the Great Society — failed spectacularly. Yet our leaders thought they could invade a country that most Americans couldn't pinpoint on a map, and which had a history of repelling invaders (think of Russia), and fundamentally transform its society. And they kept spinning Americans and distorting 'statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case'....

"Some of the Post's stories were eye-opening: how military officials were ordered to spend millions of dollars a day in small regions, even though no one had any idea what to do with it. That's government. It literally dumps money on problems and hopes it will create progress, when all it does is encourage corruption. Even more amazing, our military couldn't distinguish between friends and enemies....

"These days, we're all sure our fellow partisans are brilliant and the other side is evil, but this ought to give everyone pause: President Barack Obama's policy in Afghanistan wasn't appreciably different from George W. Bush's — and neither of them had any particular success. Both made grandiose promises about 'winning' and eradicating terrorists, but neither delivered."

Read more: https://reason.com/2019/12/20/the-afghanistan-papers-confirm-critics-worst-fears-about-americas-longest-war/
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Friday, December 20, 2019

A libertarian in the Democratic primary

Yes, there’s a candidate for president from Connecticut - CTInsider.com - Jordan Fenster:

December 18, 2019 - "Mark Stewart is running for president of the United States, but he knows he won’t win. That said, he’s officially on the ballot....  Vermont approved his ballot application — he submitted a petition with 1,200 names on the list — and he’ll be running in the Democratic primary for sure in New Hampshire and California. Rhode Island is still a hurdle, but he’s confident he’ll make it on that state’s ballot, too....

"Stewart knows that winning the presidency is 'unrealistic,' but his goal is not actually a victory. What he wants is for 'an outsider, for a free-market Libertarian, to voice issues within the primary process,' to 'roll back socialism and try to extinguish the leftist lurch that leaders in the [D]emocrat [P]arty have.' 'I don’t believe your average Democrat voter really buys into all the big government promises that these televised candidates want,' he said.

"Stewart is also vying to be the Libertarian Party’s choice for vice president, and hopes that running for president will help him be seen as a fighter.... But Stewart said his primary goal is to inspire other potential candidates. 'I know there will be other candidates for state house seats and maybe even congressional seats that have until now felt stymied,' he said. 'We need more people running for offices. if more candidates are in the mix we get better public servants.'

"Stewart — whose full name is Mark Stewart Greenstein — is originally from West Hartford, where he still calls home.... This is not the first time he’s run a long-shot campaign.... Four years ago, he was on the ballot in Rhode Island, for the sole purpose of beating Hillary Clinton.... He ran for Senate in New York — also for the stated purpose of beating Clinton — in 2006. This year, he tried for the 5th Connecticut State Senate District, and garnered ... 51 votes. In 2018 he ran an unsuccessful bid for Connecticut governor, against Ned Lamont. He qualified for the November ballot, but ... received only 0.1 percent of the vote....

"Stewart is currently trying to form a new political party he calls EPIC, an acronym for 'Every Politically Independent Citizen.' The new party will run a convention in August. Stewart’s last primary in this election cycle will be when Rhode Islanders go to the polls on April 28, 2020..... That will give his EPIC party enough time to register any candidates for office who have become disillusioned with the major parties, he said.

"As for why he’s running as a Democrat, in the Democratic primary, Stewart said it’s because 'they need the most help.' 'They are so wayward in their leadership,' he said. 'They give rise to leftism, which I will define as people who want to take America down.".

Read more: https://www.ctinsider.com/local/ctpost/article/Yes-there-s-a-candidate-for-president-from-14916126.php
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Thursday, December 19, 2019

TN libertarians want school board transparency

Williamson County mother, libertarian group sue Tennessee School Boards Association under state Open Records Act | Chattanooga Times Free Press - Andy Sher:

December 18, 2019 - "In a case whose outcome could have major implications for some of the state's various local government associations, a libertarian group on Tuesday filed suit against the Tennessee School Boards Association, saying the organization should be subject to state public record laws.

"Suing on behalf of Williamson County parent and plaintiff Karrie Marren, the Beacon Center's legal arm is arguing the association acts as a 'functional equivalent of government, charged with training school board members in this state.' The suit charges that Marren was 'frustrated by the unresponsiveness' of Williamson County school board members who are 'legally mandated to receive their training and ethical standards from the Tennessee School Board Association.'

"As a result of the school board association's rejecting her request, the complaint says, Marren is suing under the Tennessee Public Records Act. The suit was filed in Chancery Court in Williamson County. TSBA's headquarters is in Williamson County.

"Braden Boucek, Beacon's vice president of legal affairs, said in a statement that 'taxpayers are entitled to transparency when it comes to how their children are educated and how their education tax dollars are spent.' He added that 'regardless of where you stand politically, transparency is one of the bedrocks of democracy, and any functional equivalent of government needs to be subjected to the same transparency laws. When a 'private' organization receives nearly all its money from taxpayers and gets preferential treatment to participate in the state's retirement program, they should be accountable to the very taxpayers who are funding them.'

"A favorable ruling could roil various local government associations in a state which has the Tennessee Municipal League for cities, the Tennessee County Services Association and other entities that provide similar services as Tennessee School Boards Association."

Read more: https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2019/dec/18/williamscounty-mother-libertarigrosue-tenness/510860/
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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Cannabis legalization referendum OK'ed in NJ

New Jersey Lawmakers Vote To Put Marijuana Legalization On State's 2020 Ballot | Marijuana Moment - Kyle Jaeger:

December 16, 2019 - "New Jersey lawmakers approved a resolution on Monday that will put a referendum on legalizing marijuana on the state’s 2020 ballot. The Senate voted 24-16 in favor of the measure, with the Assembly following by a margin of 49-24 — supermajority support that means lawmakers will not have to vote on the measure again next year, which is required for such resolutions if they are only approved by a simple majority.

"The votes come days after committees in both chambers held hearings on the issue, with testimony from advocates, stakeholders and opponents.

"While advocates and certain lawmakers had hoped to enact legalization legislatively this year, disagreements over the specifics of proposed bills derailed that effort, and leaders agreed to put the question of broad cannabis reform before voters instead. Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who had participated in negotiations with the legislature to get legalization done, said last month that he was disappointed a passable bill didn’t materialize but that he’s confident New Jersey voters will support the policy change next November.

"In the meantime, the governor said he will work with lawmakers to expeditiously pass legislation to decriminalize marijuana possession....

"Murphy and the governors of several other states in the Northeast have also engaged in a regional dialogue about how to coordinate their cannabis markets after it’s legalized. It’s not clear how New Jersey opting for a referendum process will impact those discussions, however."

Read more: https://www.marijuanamoment.net/new-jersey-lawmakers-vote-to-put-marijuana-legalization-on-states-2020-ballot/
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Tuesday, December 17, 2019

NY raises ballot access threshhold

Green Party, Libertarian Team Up To Fight New Election Rules | WCBS Newsradio 880:

December 16, 2019 - "It's not often you see leaders of the Libertarian Party and the Green Party sharing a podium, but that’s exactly what happened recently, according to WCBS 880’s Steve Burns.

"'The Libertarian Party is pleased to partner with the Green,' said Libertarian Party of New York Chairman Jim Rosenbeck.

"Rosenbeck says the new rules set up by the Public Campaign Financing Commission are ... 'a shameless attempt to limit public debate'....

"In order to have full ballot status parties need to receive at least 50,000 votes in governor's races. The new rules raise that threshold to a 130,000 votes, or 2% of total turnout – whichever is higher. Those totals have to be attained every two years instead of every four.

"Green Party of New York Co-Chairman Peter Lavenia says they'll likely be knocked off the ballot in the next two years over the changes. 'We’re looking at this as an assault on democracy,' he said.

"The two parties are filing a joint lawsuit against the commission.

"State lawmakers could reconvene and change the rules, though that prospect is looking increasingly unlikely with a deadline at the end of this week."

Read more: https://wcbs880.radio.com/articles/news/green-party-libertarian-team-up-to-fight-new-election-rules
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Monday, December 16, 2019

1st US psychedelic research center founded

First US Center for Psychedelic Research a 'Game Changer' - Megan Brooks, Medscape:

December 2, 2019 - "A group of private benefactors has donated $17 million to fund the first psychedelic research center in the United States.

"The Center for Psychedelic & Consciousness Research at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, 'reflects a new era of research in therapeutics and the mind through studying this unique and remarkable class of pharmacological compounds," 'Roland Griffiths, PhD, the center's director, said in a statement. 'We've been conducting research with psychedelics at Johns Hopkins for almost the last 20 years, but funding has not been forthcoming from federal sources as yet so the work has primarily been supported by philanthropy,' ... and this 'very large philanthropic gift has allowed the establishment of the first center for psychedelic research in the United States,' said Griffiths.

"The center's operational expenses for the first 5 years will be covered by private funding from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation and four philanthropists, including author and investor Tim Ferriss; Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress; Blake Mycoskie, founder of the shoe brand TOMS; and investor Craig Nerenberg.

"The funding will support a team of six faculty neuroscientists, experimental psychologists, and clinicians with expertise in psychedelic science, as well as five postdoctoral scientists. The faculty will train graduate and medical students who want to pursue careers in psychedelic science, where historically there have been few avenues for career advancement.

"Initial priority projects include researching the potential of psilocybin as a therapy for anorexia nervosa, early stage Alzheimer's disease, opioid use disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), posttreatment Lyme disease, and alcohol use disorder comorbid with depression. Based on research to date, the nature of the changes that occur during a psilocybin session would appear to have 'transdiagnostic generality' across a range of mental health and behavioral conditions, Griffiths said.

"He added that there are 'very strong preliminary signals' that psilocybin is an effective treatment for cancer patients who are anxious or depressed. 'We also have promising efficacy data in people with major depression as well as treatment-resistant depression; and we have indication of potential efficacy across a range of substance use disorders, including alcohol and cocaine abuse and cigarette smoking,' he said....

"For patients with depression secondary to a diagnosis of early Alzheimer's disease, Griffiths said his team 'strongly suspects' psilocybin will be effective at least for the mood disorder 'but, of course, the really interesting thing would be whether there is any change in cognitive function.' 'The emerging data with psilocybin and other psychedelics is that they may produce neuroplastic changes, they may end up rewiring the brain in ways we simply don't understand,' Griffiths added."

Read more: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/921986
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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Understanding the Overton Window

The Overton Window – Mackinac Center:

"The Overton Window is a model for understanding how ideas in society change over time and influence politics. The core concept is that politicians are limited in what policy ideas they can support — they generally only pursue policies that are widely accepted throughout society as legitimate policy options. These policies lie inside the Overton Window. Other policy ideas exist, but politicians risk losing popular support if they champion these ideas. These policies lie outside the Overton Window.

"But the Overton Window can both shift and expand, either increasing or shrinking the number of ideas politicians can support without unduly risking their electoral support. Sometimes politicians can move the Overton Window themselves by courageously endorsing a policy lying outside the window, but this is rare. More often, the window moves based on a much more complex and dynamic phenomenon ... the slow evolution of societal values and norms."
Read more: https://www.mackinac.org/OvertonWindow

How the Politically Unthinkable Can Become Mainstream - The New York Times - Maggie Astor:

February 26, 2019 - "Joseph P. Overton introduced the concept in the 1990s as an executive at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank in Michigan. He never expected it to gain widespread recognition, said Joseph G. Lehman, president of the Mackinac Center, and it didn’t until after Mr. Overton died in 2003....

"'Public officials cannot enact any policy they please like they’re ordering dessert from a menu,' Mr. Lehman said in an interview. 'They have to choose from among policies that are politically acceptable at the time. And we believe the Overton window defines that range of ideas.'

"Grass-roots mobilization can shift the window. So can think tanks, which was Mr. Overton’s point. But despite a misconception driven by Glenn Beck’s novel The Overton Window, the window is a description, not a tactic: Shifting it doesn’t mean proposing extreme ideas to make somewhat less extreme ideas seem reasonable. 'It just explains how ideas come in and out of fashion, the same way that gravity explains why something falls to the earth,' Mr. Lehman said....

"The key is that shifts begin with the public. Mr. Overton argued that the role of organizations like his own was not to lobby politicians to support policies outside the window, but to convince voters that policies outside the window should be in it. If they are successful, an idea derided as unthinkable can become so inevitable that it’s hard to believe it was ever otherwise."
Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/26/us/politics/overton-window-democrats.html?login=facebook&auth=login-facebook

'via Blog this'

See also: Libertarians have shifted the Overton Window

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Libertarians have shifted the Overton Window

How David Koch’s 1980 Fantasy Became America’s Current Reality | The New Republic - Adam Eichen:

August 27, 2019 - "Billionaire fossil fuel mogul David Koch ... will rightfully be remembered for his role in the destruction of the earth [by whom? - ed.].... Ronald Reagan may have uttered the famous words 'Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem' back in 1981 — but it was David Koch, along with his elder brother Charles and a cabal of other ultrarich individuals, who truly reframed the popular view of government. Once [seen  as] a democratic tool used to shape the country’s future, government became seen as something intrusive and inefficient — indeed, something to be feared.

"David Koch was particularly instrumental in legitimizing anti-government ideology — one the GOP now holds as gospel. In 1980, the younger Koch ran as the vice-presidential nominee for the nascent Libertarian Party. And ... Koch personally donated more than $2 million to the party — an astounding amount for the time — to promote the Ed Clark–David Koch ticket.... In fact, according to [Lisa] Graves, 'The Koch-funded Libertarian Party helped spur on Ronald Reagan’s anti-government, free-market-solves-all agenda as president.'

"Even by contemporary standards, the 1980 Libertarian Party platform was extreme. It called for the abolition of a wide swath of federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Bureau of Land Management, the Federal Election Commission, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the Federal Trade Commission, and 'all government agencies concerned with transportation.' It railed against campaign finance and consumer protection laws, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, any regulations of the firearm industry (including tear gas), and government intervention in labor negotiations. And the platform demanded the repeal of all taxation, and sought amnesty for those convicted of tax 'resistance.'

"Koch and his libertarian allies moreover advocated for the repeal of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social programs. They wanted to abolish federally mandated speed limits. They opposed occupational licensure, antitrust laws, labor laws protecting women and children, and 'all controls on wages, prices, rents, profits, production, and interest rates.' And in true libertarian fashion, the platform urged the privatization of all schools (with an end to compulsory education laws), the railroad system, public roads and the national highway system, inland waterways, water distribution systems, public lands, and dam sites.

"The Libertarian Party never made much of a splash in the election — though it did garner almost 12 percent of the vote in Alaska — but doing so was never the point. Rather, the Kochs were engaged in a long-term effort to normalize the aforementioned ideas and mainstream them into American politics. Building off the Libertarian campaign, Graves explained, 'David and Charles then used their front groups to pull the Reagan Administration further to the right with their push to privatize across the board.' With their army of think tanks, front groups, lobbyists, and media ties, this multimillion dollar effort to shift the Overton Window grew for nearly four decades, culminating in the takeover of many core political institutions, federally and in key states. The duo additionally capitalized on the anti-government Tea Party movement, which they greatly helped along by bankrolling the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity.

"The Koch’s Ayn Rand–inspired hellscape has yet to completely come to fruition, but the ideas the duo promoted are now part of the regular discourse — and have been for a while."

Read more: https://newrepublic.com/article/154849/david-koch-1980-fantasy
'via Blog this'

See also: Understanding the Overton Window

Friday, December 13, 2019

SD Libertarians launch hemp legalization website

'Hemp. We're On It': State Libertarian Party Launches Parody Website - KDLT News:
December 12, 2019 - "There’s a new campaign for legalizing industrial hemp in South Dakota and it has a familiar slogan. The South Dakota Libertarian Party launched this website called ‘Hemp. We’re on it.’ It’s a parody of Governor Noem’s anti-meth campaign, ‘Meth. We’re on it.’ The website also mirrors the one for the anti-meth campaign with links to resources like contacting state lawmakers....

"Governor Noem vetoed a bill earlier this year saying legalizing hemp will legalize marijuana by default. State lawmakers are currently working on a new, similar bill."
Read more: https://www.kdlt.com/2019/12/12/hemp-were-on-it-state-libertarian-party-launches-parody-website/

South Dakota Hemp Education and Awareness Campaign:
"The state legislature already passed legalization of industrial hemp once, only to have Governor Kristi Noem veto the bill because she doesn’t believe her constituents are responsible enough to grow hemp, even though industrial hemp has only a mere fraction of the THC of marijuana.....

"The benefits of industrial hemp have been recognized since long before its prohibition, and neighboring states are already profiting from its growth. Legalization would mean a new, competitive cash crop for our farmers, and a new industry for South Dakota businesses and consumers to develop.

Please sign our petition and get involved. To quote that other website, “With the help of all South Dakotans, we can ensure the bright futures of our communities are realized.'"
Read more: http://onhemp.org/
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Thursday, December 12, 2019

NZ gov't unveils draft cannabis legalization bill

New Zealand Government Unveils Marijuana Legalization Bill Ahead Of 2020 Referendum | Marijuana Moment- Kyle Jaeger

December 3, 2019 - "New Zealand residents got a first look on Tuesday at details of a draft marijuana legalization proposal that will be the subject of a voter referendum next year.... The draft bill outlines the basic elements of establishing a regulated cannabis market for adults. It will be updated with more details, taking feedback into account, ahead of the referendum vote. If more than 50 percent of voters approve the legislation, the incoming government will have to enact a law legalizing marijuana for adult use.

"The measure, as proposed, would set an age limit of 20 to purchase cannabis products, require marijuana to be consumed in private residences and licensed facilities, mandate investments in public health education campaigns, impose restrictions on advertising and create a licensing scheme for marijuana businesses. Individuals could purchase up to 14 grams of cannabis per day and cultivate up to two plants for personal use....

"Justice Minister Andrew Little said ... that he’s invited representatives of each party to meet on Thursday to discuss the proposal.,,, The Cabinet also unveiled policy positions that informed their decision to make the question of legalization a referendum issue.

"The agreed-upon primary objectives of the legislation are to promote policies in order to 'minimize harms associated with cannabis' and reduce rates of marijuana consumption through education and treatment programs. The secondary objectives are to eliminate the illicit market, reduce the prison population and ensure quality control for cannabis products.

"Early details about the legalization proposal were first released in May. The referendum on the issue is the product of a deal that the Green Party struck after agreeing to help install Labour Party head Jacinda Ardern as the prime minister.

"In early 2020, a more comprehensive bill will be issued to ensure that lawmakers, stakeholders and the public have ample time to consider its various provisions before its put to a vote."

Read more: https://www.marijuanamoment.net/new-zealand-government-unveils-marijuana-legalization-bill-ahead-of-2020-referendum/
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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Tax money down the toilet (video)

$2 Million Bathroom | RealClearPolitics - John Stossel:

July 26, 2017 - "Did you see the $2 million dollar bathroom? That's what New York City government spent to build a 'comfort station' in a park. I went to look at it.... It's just a little building with four toilets and four sinks....

"New York City's bureaucrats are unapologetic about their $2 million toilet. The Parks Department even put out a statement saying, 'Our current estimate to build a new comfort station with minimal site work is $3 million'.... Yet not far away, Bryant Park has a bathroom that gets much more use. That bathroom cost just $300,000.

"Why the difference? Bryant Park is privately managed.... Since government spends other people's money, they don't care that much about cost and they certainly don't care much about speed....[I]magine what we could save if government turned construction of government housing, airports and roads over to the private sector."

Read more: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2017/07/26/2_million_bathroom_134569.html
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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Psilocybin called breakthrough therapy by FDA

FDA Grants Psilocybin Second Breakthrough Therapy Designation - Megan Brooks:

November 25, 2019 - "The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted the Usona Institute breakthrough therapy designation for psilocybin for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD).

"This marks the second time the FDA has granted breakthrough designation for psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in "magic mushrooms." In October 2018, Compass Pathways received the designation to test the safety and efficacy of psilocybin-assisted therapy for treatment-resistant depression....

"'The results from previous studies clearly demonstrate the remarkable potential for psilocybin as a treatment in MDD patients, which Usona is now seeking to confirm in its own clinical trials," Charles Raison, MD, Usona's director of clinical and translational research, said a news release.

"The Usona Institute is a nonprofit medical research organization that conducts and supports preclinical and clinical research to further the understanding of the therapeutic effects of psilocybin and other consciousness-expanding medicines....

"More than 17 million people in the United States suffer from MDD. Through the breakthrough therapy designation, psilocybin is recognized as possibly offering a clinically significant improvement over existing therapies.

"The new status follows the recent launch of Usona's phase 2 clinical trial (PSIL201), which will recruit roughly 80 patients at seven study sites around the United States. The study will assess the safety and efficacy of a single dose of psilocybin in comparison with placebo in patients aged 21 to 65 years who have MDD. Two of the study sites are currently recruiting patients; the others are expected to be active by the first quarter of 2020. Usona estimates that the trial will be completed by early 2021."

Read more: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/921789
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Monday, December 9, 2019

Texas judge blocks 3rd-party filing fees

Texas Libertarians celebrate as judge strikes down filing fees - HoustonChronicle.com - Taylor Goldstein:

December 6, 2019 - "One week before the filing deadline for Texas candidates, a judge in Harris County blocked the secretary of state from assessing a new fee for third-party candidates that was added by the Legislature this past session. Seven Libertarian voters and potential candidates sued over the law in state District Court in Harris County in October.

"Being freed of filing fees ranging from $750 for a candidate for state representative to $5,000 for a U.S. Senate election is a big advantage for a party that operates on a shoestring budget and whose candidates often run with little to no cash in their campaign coffers. 'It has had a massively positive impact in the last three days on candidate recruitment,' Neal Dikeman, a plaintiff in the lawsuit and a former Libertarian nominee for U.S. Senate in 2018, said Wednesday, adding that the party had previously expected recruitment to decrease by 50 to 90 percent....

"In a temporary injunction issued Monday, Judge Kristen Hawkins called the fees an 'actual or threatened violation of the Texas and United States Constitutions.' The injunction applies statewide.

“This temporary injunction was a crucial step to ensuring voters have choice at the ballot box, as half of all Texas races in 2018 would have been unopposed without Libertarian Party nominees,” said Harris County Libertarian Party Chair Katherine Youngblood, who represented the plaintiffs.

"While Democrats and Republicans are held to the same requirement ... [t]he money goes back to the parties through funding from the state for their primary elections. Third parties such as the Libertarians and the Greens, which nominate through conventions rather than primaries, do not receive such funding....

"A similar but broader lawsuit was filed by the Texas Libertarian Party, as well as the Texas Green Party and other third-party groups, in federal court in July. That lawsuit, which contests several parts of the law that they say limit third-party access to the ballot, is pending."

Read more: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Texas-Libertarians-celebrate-as-judge-strikes-14887294.php
'via Blog this'

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Six classic libertarian books

The Most Influential Libertarian Philosophers and Thinkers - The Libertarian Republic - Austin Petersen:

November 8, 2019 - "Libertarian thinkers focus on the rights of the individual.... They value the individual’s freedom of choice.... Below, we briefly introduce some of the most influential philosophers and thinkers who have shaped that way of thinking.

"David Boaz, a modern-day libertarian thinker, wrote [The Libertarian Mind] on the historical roots of libertarianism and he defines the basic philosophy of libertarianism in simple but deep terms. If a person is interested in finding out more about what the basic premise of the philosophy is they could start here.... The book is a thorough rendering of the basic economic and political thinking of this philosophy....

The Law written by Frenchman Frederic Bastiat, ... was written in 1850, and attacked the 'legal plunder' or government directed taking of property by force. Bastiat, says that the original meaning of the law was to protect our basic rights but when it turns into a forced redistribution of property it destroys its own objective.... This defeats the whole intent of the law....

"Robert Nozick ... said [in Anarchy, State and Utopia] that the individual has the right to govern themselves in fact they have the most radical set of rights.... Nozick was a very smart person [who] birthed the self-ownership concept....

"The Machinery of Freedom was written by David Friedman and ... describes different levels of libertarian thinking.... Classic [liberals] allow for government to tax some services but minimalists allow for government to only provide services such as law enforcement, courts, etc. Anarcho-capitalists ... want to abolish any form of government ... to replace government with private and voluntary services.... Friedman ... fully embraces this radical form of libertarianism....

"The granddaddy of Libertarian books [is] Second Treatise of Civil Government [sic].... John Locke wrote this legendary book on libertarian thinking which was instrumental in the founding of the United States.... He came up with a hypothetical country in which government is limited in the affairs of people and ... human rights are developed. The government is to protect the rights of the people.

"Gustave de Molinari was a[n]  ... early 20th century Belgian philosopher who exceeded his counterparts in thinking about the role government should play in [The Production of Security].... He is one of the most underrated philosophers of recent times ... ahead of his time in his thinking about libertarian philosophy."

Read more: https://thelibertarianrepublic.com/the-most-influential-libertarian-philosophers-and-thinkers/
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Saturday, December 7, 2019

Libertarian law student group forming in Canada

Libertarian student group Runnymede Society seeks to shake up Canada’s legal culture - The Globe and Mail - Sean Fine:

September 10, 2019 - "A libertarian student group has developed a growing presence in law schools, where it seeks to shake up a legal culture it views as devoutly uncritical of the Supreme Court and established Canadian legal norms. From a tiny group on a handful of campuses three years ago, the Runnymede Society now has a presence on nearly all of the country’s 18 law campuses....

"Similar to the influential Federalist Society in the United States, which also started as a student group, Runnymede has a core view that judges too often are guided by their own political preferences, rather than applying the law. In its first book of essays, published late last month with the provocative title Attacks on the Rule of Law From Within, and in edgy remarks at its events from leading judges, it has sought to spark a debate on some cherished Canadian principles, such as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms being a living tree that changes with the times.

"'Obviously the Canadian legal community is a small community, and the game is influencing the influencers, says Joanna Baron, a Runnymede founder and now the executive director of its parent group, the Calgary-based Canadian Constitution Foundation....

"Runnymede, which is non-partisan, has 'partnered' with the Federalist Society for some of its events, accepting speakers from the U.S. group, says Runnymede national director Mark Mancini, whose website biography says he has 'a mandate to shift the legal culture in Canada towards liberty.' (Runnymede is the name of the meadow where the Magna Carta was written in the 12th century.)...

"The Runnymede Society says it is not socially conservative and does not have the Federalist Society’s deep attachment to originalism – the idea that the Constitution should be interpreted as its authors intended, rather than according to the living-tree approach widely used in Canadian courts. But it wants students exposed to both views, Ms. Baron says....

"And 'liberty-oriented legal arguments are still seen as outliers.' One example of a liberty-oriented argument comes in the biggest case under way involving the Canadian Constitution Foundation – the eight-year-old Cambie Surgeries case in Vancouver, in which the foundation has retained leading lawyers to argue for a right to private medical care....

"Runnymede Society has a $250,000 annual budget, Mr. Mancini says, and gives charitable-tax receipts through the Canadian Constitution Foundation, which received just more than $5-million in donations in the year ending in March, 2019, from individuals and foundations. The biggest part of those donations was given for the Cambie case, Ms. Baron said....

"With the exception of a grant of about $10,000 from the U.S.-based Atlas Network, which funds groups supporting the rule of law and free markets, it has received no money from foreign sources, Ms. Baron said."

Read more: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-libertarian-student-group-runnymede-society-seeks-to-shake-up-legal/
'via Blog this'

Friday, December 6, 2019

Ontario LP asks town to stop mass eviction

This is shameful. There is snow on the ground in Ontario. Nightly temperatures are below zero. People can die outside in this weather. Yet Napanee town council wants to evict 20 formerly homeless people living in an unlicensed, unzoned trailer park - just in time for Christmas! Kudos to the Ontario Libertarian Party for speaking out. -George J. Dance

Advocate asks Napanee town council to allow homeless trailers, for now | The Kingston Whig-Standard - Meghan Balogh:

November 29, 2019 - "The leader of the Ontario Libertarian Party spoke to Greater Napanee town council on Tuesday on behalf of a man offering illegal housing for homeless people. Keith Komar ... spoke in support of what he and others are calling the Stepping Stone Homeless Shelter — a collection of trailers that Napanee resident Scott Drader has assembled to house homeless individuals on his property.... In a letter dated Nov. 15, 2019, the Town of Greater Napanee told Drader to stop using his property as a trailer park, and gave him a deadline of Nov. 25 to remove the trailers....

“'I’m here today to ask the council to provide a stay on the order of cease and desist until at least April 1, to allow Scott to work towards a more permanent solution to this very grave situation,' Komar said to council. Drader currently has five trailers housing 13 people without homes. Another seven are living in his house. The individuals pay him $390 per month to cover hydro and heating costs.

"Komar described a 'groundswell of support' behind Drader’s cause, including a petition with more than 1,500 signatures in his support.... Komar acknowledged that Drader is breaking a zoning bylaw by housing people in trailers on his property. Komar said he is going to be assisting Drader in applying for a minor variance to the zoning bylaw.

"He pointed out that what Drader is doing isn’t costing the Town of Greater Napanee or its taxpayers any money — Komar referenced crowdfunding and said he would also be helping Drader set up a non-profit organization. According to Komar, Drader’s end goal is a 'tiny home park,' either at his current location or in a new location.

"Komar told council that he knows Drader’s setup is 'not a perfect solution,' but that it’s better than nothing. 'I understand it’s not an ideal situation for these people, but for now in the interim, until we can work together to put something together that works better, it’s better than on the street,' Komar said. 'I want you guys to consider that'....

"Coun. Dave Pinnell Jr. asked that people stop referring to the property as a trailer park.... Coun. John McCormack ... pointed out that Drader was told at a council meeting in June 2018 that his property was nonconforming.... 'You here tonight, knowing him for five days, asking for us to make changes to the situation … who’s to say that next year we’re not five extra trailers, 10 more trailers?'...

"Council members [also] raised concerns about safety, including heat, water and sanitation. Komar said the trailers have had health inspections and have been examined by the fire inspector.... 'I would ask you to think on what is a greater health risk: being at the trailer park where Scott has a roof over their heads, or to sleep on the streets,' Komar said."

Read more: https://www.thewhig.com/news/local-news/advocate-asks-napanee-town-council-to-allow-homeless-trailers-for-now
'via Blog this'

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Darryl Perry declares for NH governor

Keene Libertarian announces run for governor - Jake Lahut, Keene Sentinel:

December 5, 2019 - "Darryl W. Perry, a Keene resident and former chairman of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire, announced his plans to run for governor Wednesday.

"Perry, who was a Libertarian presidential candidate in 2016, said in a news release that he plans to run on a platform of lower taxes, voting rights and reforming ballot access and the criminal justice system. He also announced that he has signed the 'Taxpayer Pledge' in opposition to implementing any kind of sales or income tax in the Granite State.

"In a statement, Perry said he wants to pursue fundamental changes to the state’s criminal justice system. 'I’m not simply going to talk about reforming sentencing guidelines; I want to end drug prohibition in New Hampshire,' Perry said. 'That’s going to include not just retail cannabis sales, but Portugal-style depenalization of all other substances for personal use; working with the Executive Council to pardon all nonviolent drug offenders; and working with the Legislature to allow those with previous drug convictions to work in the retail cannabis industry, something no other state with recreational cannabis allows'....

"Because the Libertarian candidate won less than 4 percent of the vote in the 2018 governor’s race, the party’s 2020 nominee doesn’t automatically get a spot on the ballot. But the party can get on the ballot by gathering the signatures of 3,000 registered voters."

Read more; https://www.sentinelsource.com/news/local/keene-libertarian-announces-run-for-governor/article_0805e276-9ca1-5dd2-9ed8-58aba538917b.html

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

NYC rewrites gun regs to avoid SCOTUS review

Can Senseless Gun Regulations Be Constitutional? – Reason.com- Jacob Sullum:

December 4, 2019 - "New York's uniquely onerous restrictions on transporting guns were so hard to justify that the city stopped trying. Instead it rewrote the rules after the Supreme Court agreed to consider a constitutional challenge to them, and now it argues that the case is moot.

"Despite the obvious vulnerability of New York's regulations, the city successfully defended them for five years, obtaining favorable rulings from a federal judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. That track record highlights a glaring problem the Supreme Court could address if it rejects the city's mootness claim: More than a decade after the justices recognized that the Second Amendment imposes limits on gun control, lower courts routinely treat the right to keep and bear arms as a minor hindrance that can be overcome by the slightest excuse.

"Under New York's rules, licensed pistol and revolver owners were not allowed to leave home with their handguns, even if they were unloaded and stored in a locked container separate from the ammunition, unless they were traveling to or from one of seven gun ranges in the city. If a New Yorker wanted to practice at a range, participate in a competition, or defend himself at a second home outside the five boroughs, the only legal option was to buy (or rent) additional handguns.

"Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ... noted during oral arguments on Monday. 'What public safety or any other reasonable end is served by saying you have to have two guns instead of one ... and one of those guns has to be maintained in a place that is often unoccupied and that therefore [is] more vulnerable to theft?' Richard Dearing, the attorney representing New York City, was stumped....

"Justice Samuel Alito asked Dearing if New Yorkers are 'less safe' now that the city has loosened its restrictions. 'No, I don't think so,' Dearing replied. 'We made a judgment, expressed by our police commissioner, that it was consistent with public safety to repeal the prior rule.' In that case, Alito wondered, 'what possible justification could there have been for the old rule, which you have abandoned?'...

"Restrictions on fundamental rights usually pass muster only if they are narrowly tailored to further a compelling government interest..... But ... In the appeals court's view, the city's assertion that the transport ban was necessary to protect public safety — a claim it has now disavowed — outweighed the plaintiffs' 'trivial' interest in using their guns for self-defense outside the city or in honing the skills required for that constitutionally protected purpose.

"Such casual disregard for the right to keep and bear arms is plainly inconsistent with what the Supreme Court has said about the Second Amendment. That's why the city is so desperate to prevent the justices from considering an argument that was good enough until now."

Read more: https://reason.com/2019/12/04/can-senseless-gun-regulations-be-constitutional/
'via Blog this'

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Retail cannabis sales begin in Michigan

First-time Michigan recreational marijuana shoppers stranded in line given complimentary joints - mlive.com - Gus Burns:

December 2, 2019 - "Sunday Dec. 1, the first day of recreational retail marijuana sales in Michigan ... Ann Arbor marijuana shops, Arbors Wellness, Exclusive Brands and Greenstone Provisions, opened about 10 a.m..... Each experienced consistently long lines with customers numbering in the hundreds throughout the day. First-day marijuana sales among the three stores equaled $221,000, the Marijuana Regulatory Agency reports.

"Hours before Michigan's first retail recreational marijuana sale, eager customers waited in festive lines. Exclusive Brands ... served over 900 people by the time the Ann Arbor city ordinance required them to close shop at 9 p.m., co-owner Omat Hishmeh said. Nearly 25 line-stranded customers were treated for their patience. They were given a 'Willy Wonka golden ticket,' which allows them to cut to the front of the line during their next visit, received discount coupons and were entered into a raffle for front-row Detroit Pistons tickets....

"James Daly, the owner of Arbors Wellness ... said his staff served 750 customers throughout the day and turned nearly 50 away at closing time. As a consolation, those customers were offered complimentary pre-rolled joints, Daly said....

"Based on what employees say they sold and what customers said they spent, it’s likely all three marijuana stores generated sales near or in excess of $100,000.... None of the three shops experienced shortages and both Exclusive and Arbors Wellness said they are able to keep up with demand for the foreseeable future....

"As of Monday, the state Marijuana Regulatory Agency had licensed seven businesses.... It expects at least a dozen to be licensed statewide by the new year....

"Some of the forefathers of Michigan marijuana legalization -- and casualties of its prohibition -- convened at Arbors Wellness prior to 10 a.m.... They spoke of the confusion following passage of the medical marijuana law in 2008, ... the raids and prosecutions that followed and the slow shift in public and political sentiment that led to licensed legalization Sunday....

"Among the legalization pioneers was activist and poet John Sinclair, who in 1969 began serving more than two years of a 10-year sentence that was later overturned for possession of two joints. Sinclair made a ceremonial purchase of pre-rolled joints before the business opened to the public."

Read more: https://www.mlive.com/politics/2019/12/first-time-michigan-recreational-marijuana-shoppers-stranded-in-line-given-complimentary-joints.html
'via Blog this'

Monday, December 2, 2019

Another libertarian party launched in Israel

New Israeli libertarian party to launch next week - Israel National News 7 - David Rosenberg:

November 29, 2019 - "As Israel edges closer towards its third election in less than a year, a new center-right party is preparing to launch, joining an already crowded field of right-leaning parties. The New Liberal Party of Israel, formed by three former members of the libertarian-leaning Zehut party, is set to officially launch next Wednesday at a conference in Tel Aviv.

"Based on the principles of classical liberalism and free-market economics, the new party shares much of the ideology of Zehut, which endorsed the Likud shortly before the September 17th election, bowing out of the race due to the promise of a ministry position in the next government led by Binyamin Netanyahu, and the adoption by the Likud of some of Zehut’s positions on medical marijuana....

"[T]he new venture ... was launched by three former Zehut candidates who refused to accept the party’s endorsement of the Likud earlier this year.... Economist Gilad Alper, physics lecturer Rafael Minnes, and educator and school reform activist Libby Molad lead the nascent party, which recently released a draft of its platform.

"On security, foreign policy, and territorial issues, the New Liberal Party places itself to the right of center, opposing the establishment of a Palestinian state and placing Israel’s security at the top of its agenda....

"On socio-economic issues, the party’s platform backs reduced regulation, taxation, and government intervention in the economy and increased privacy rights, along with the separation of synagogue and state. 'We will separate religion from politics.... Government involvement with religious institutions results in unacceptable coercion, as well as discrimination against single people and people from the LGBT community in comparison to married couples, the banning of mass transportation on the Sabbath, the wasting of taxpayers’ funds, and unnecessary feelings of resentment between secular and religious Jews.'

"The platform also calls for removing Israel’s marriage registry system from state religious authorities and the establishment of civil marriages, along with ending the chief rabbinate’s administration of Israel’s kashrut certification system. Like Zehut, the New Liberal Party emphasizes the need to 'end the war on cannabis' – including recreational marijuana – and to expand access to medicinal marijuana.

"Regarding education, the party’s platform promises reforms which would decentralize and shift control of the education system from the Education Ministry to local communities. In addition, the New Liberal Party endorses the voucher system to increase parental choice."

Read more: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/272456
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Sunday, December 1, 2019

Ontario court blocks Student Choice Initiative

Provincial government releases official guidelines on Student Choice Initiative, details of tuition cuts | The Varsity (University of Toronto), Adam A. Lam & Andy Takagi:

March 29, 2019 - "The Ontario government has released official guidelines for the Student Choice Initiative (SCI), the provincial mandate to give students an opt-out option for certain ancillary fees.... Incidental fees charged by universities to support clubs, student societies, and programs that fall outside of the provincial framework for compulsory fees will be required to have an opt-out option for students. The ability to opt out, according to the guidelines, must be presented to students before paying fees for that semester....

"Services can be deemed 'essential' by individual institutions, as long as they fall within the government’s established framework, which includes athletics and recreation, career services, student buildings, health and counselling, academic support, student ID cards, student achievement and records, financial aid offices, and campus safety programs. Levy-funded groups like various student unions — including college student associations, [student newspapers], and campus radio stations — will require an opt-out option, unless the university rationalizes these services as falling within one of the essential categories."
Read more: https://thevarsity.ca/2019/03/29/provincial-government-releases-official-guidelines-on-student-choice-initiative-details-of-tuition-cuts/

Province reviewing decision that struck down Student Choice Initiative | The Journal (Queen's University), Raechel Huizinga:
November 29, 2019 - "The Divisional Court of Ontario unanimously struck down the Student Choice Initiative on Nov. 21.... In May, the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario (CFS-O) and the York Federation of Students filed an application for judicial review against the Ford government over the SCI. The court heard arguments from both parties on Oct. 11.

"While the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) confirmed in a statement to The Journal on Monday it’s reviewing the court decision, there has been no word yet on whether the Province will appeal the decision. 'We will have more to say on this at a later date,' Tanya Blazina, team lead of the Ministry’s issues management and media relations, wrote....

"According to court documents published by The Varsity, the judges unanimously agreed neither the Cabinet nor the Minister had the authority to interfere with the 'democratic decisions taken by students respecting their student association membership fees. There is no statutory authority authorizing Cabinet or the Minister to interfere in the internal affairs of universities generally, or in the relations between universities and student associations specifically,' the decision read."
Read more: https://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2019-11-28/news/province-reviewing-decision-that-struck-down-student-choice-initiative/

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Saturday, November 30, 2019

Destroying the environment for clean energy

The dirty business of clean power | National Post - Sarah Cox:

May 14, 2019 - This year’s nominees for the Writers’ Trust Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing [include] Journalist Sarah Cox [who] takes on the dirty business of clean power in Breaching the Peace: The Site C Dam and a Valley’s Stand against Big Hydro.

SC: "Large hydro dams are a hugely expensive and destructive way to generate renewable energy. They are neither 'green' nor environmentally friendly.... Among other impacts, the Site C dam will destroy habitat for more than 100 species already vulnerable to extinction, including bird, plant, butterfly, bee and mammal species. The Site C dam and its reservoir will also eliminate some of Canada’s richest farmland, ancient wetlands called tufa seeps, old-growth boreal forests and a living laboratory for scientists to study how species adapt to climate change.... As many as 30,000 songbirds and woodpeckers nest in the dam’s future flood zone....

"Just how 'clean' big hydro dams really are is called into question by many scientists. One study by U.S. scientists shows that reservoirs produce considerably more carbon emissions than anticipated. About 80 per cent of these emissions are in the form of methane, a greenhouse gas 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide....

"[T]here was a concerted lobby by construction trades unions to continue the Site C dam. The same unions donated generously to the NDP — to the tune of many hundreds of thousands of dollars — and they continue to form a key part of the party’s labour base. The unions directly lobbied the NDP government and held well-attended press conferences in Vancouver and Victoria to champion continued Site C construction....

"[T]he independent B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) would normally have examined the Site C dam to determine whether or not the project was in the public interest. The watchdog commission rejected the project in the 1980s.... B.C.’s Liberal government ... changed the law in 2010 to strip the commission’s oversight of Site C. When the NDP came to power in 2017, it ... sen[t] the project to the BCUC.... But, notably, it didn’t allow the BCUC to determine whether or not proceeding with Site C was in the public interest and the BCUC wasn’t given the most up-to-date financial information for the project....

"Two Treaty 8 First Nations have filed civil claims alleging the Site C dam and two previous dams on the Peace River unjustifiably infringe on their treaty rights.... Already, BC Hydro contractors are clearcutting 13 areas in the Site C project zone that the nations have identified as critical to maintaining cultural practices guaranteed to them in the treaty signed in 1899. Three of those areas fall within a corridor for a transmission line that cuts through ... two wetlands — Sucker Lake and Trappers Lake — where First Nations have hunted moose and trapped for millennia....

"It made financial sense to build large hydro dams in Canada in the 1960s and 1970s when there were fewer renewable energy options available and they were far more expensive. But ... Canada’s publicly owned energy corporations are largely stuck in an old model and haven’t kept up with the times. Plummeting prices for wind energy and other renewables, coupled with the abundance of shale gas, mean that power from expensive new hydro dams can’t be sold for anything close to what it will cost to produce it. So, in addition to their devastating impacts on the environment and Indigenous peoples, large Canadian dams are no longer economical....

"Ultimately, provincial ratepayers will suffer, or taxpayers — they are largely the same people. B.C.’s NDP government just bailed out the deeply indebted BC Hydro for more than $1 billion, for example, and that’s even before many more billions in Site C costs come due."

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