Sunday, June 30, 2019

5 books to boost your knowledge of liberty

Five Books to Jumpstart Your Knowledge of Libertarianism - Remso Martinez, Advocates for Self-Government:

June 5, 2019 - "So, you want to learn more about libertarianism? Check out these books and don’t forget to take the World’s Smallest Political Quiz.

Don’t Hurt People and Don’t Take Their Stuff: A Libertarian Manifesto by Matt Kibbe
"Written by the organizer behind the Tea Party revolution that ... armed us with a new generation of pro-liberty leaders in Congress and across the country, ... this is the perfect primer for anyone [who is] liberty curious and wants to lift the veil and peek into a world where it’s not cool to hurt people and take their stuff.

Anthem by Ayn Rand
"This short novella by Russian writer and philosopher Ayn Rand was dystopian before dystopian novels were cool.... Anthem puts you in the mind of a character who lives in a world where 'I' isn’t a word and free will is punishable by death....

Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek
"Dedicated to the socialists in all parties who refused to observe the mistakes of our past ... Hayek shows the reader how the desire for collective action leads to the enslavement of freedom itself. This book exposes the reader to the mindset of those who cry for more regulation and central control, and how their desire for order simply means more chains on the society they imagine they are freeing from the perils of an unjust world.

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman
"Milton Friedman took the world of politics and economics by storm simply by stating loud and proud that society thrives when people are left to make their own decisions.... Friedman shows how deregulation, free markets, and individual choice takes people from victimhood to empowerment when government gets out of the way....

Stay Away From the Libertarians! by Remso W. Martinez
"A shameless plug.... I take you through a brief history of the modern libertarian movement from 2012 through 2016 and show you how libertarians have changed the way millions view the relationship between themselves and the state.... [Y]ou’ll learn once and for all why lazy academics, the fake news, and statist politicians in both parties fear libertarians."

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Saturday, June 29, 2019

Social media site Ravelry bans pro-Trump speech

A Social Media Platform Has Banned Support of Trump  – - Katrina Gulliver:

June 25, 2019 - "The primary social network for a large and growing community has banned all positive discussion of Donald Trump and his administration. The official explanation proclaims "We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy'....

"I've been a member of Ravelry for years. The site is much greater than a place for craft chat; it has over 8 million members. For lots of us, it is our main social media destination.... Ravelry allows users to create groups — and there are groups for pretty much everything: work, food, travel, literature, relationships, kids, pets....

"Although Ravelry has users from around the world, it is U.S.-based and its political discussions are largely U.S.-focused.... Those people have always worn their left-progressive perspectives on their sleeves. They have long made a point of their LGBT-friendliness, with rainbow flags during Pride month—sometimes to the consternation of older, conservative, users. Feminist and pro-choice messages abound. And designers who use the site regularly announce that they are giving a portion of sales to organizations such as Planned Parenthood or the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Those who are surprised that the site has declared itself part of the #resistance seem to be people who have never visited Ravelry, and who think it is just some noticeboard for grannies discussing baby booties. But to anyone familiar with the site, such a move does not come as a shock. Even the members who think this ban is ill-judged seem ... not surprised....

"Ravelry ... offers the world's largest database of patterns for knitting and crochet, and is the first stop for many crafters looking to buy patterns — even if they don't participate on the site in other ways. In many independent yarn stores, you can expect to find a computer set up entirely for shoppers to find patterns on Ravelry. As an online merchant, it is the main point of sale for lots of designers. Indeed, offering a pattern for sale on Ravelry is often the first step for a fledgling designer.

"This market dominance is what makes Ravelry's move important. It is a bold move for a site of this size and commercial reach to ban pro-Trump speech. It remains to be seen if large numbers of non-vocal Republicans will leave in protest. The hashtags #byeravelry and #walkawayravelry are active on Twitter, and some angry users are also sharing their thoughts on Ravelry's Facebook page. ... I expect the Ravelry owners will stick to their guns — as is their right.

"For a large social networking site to ban a political viewpoint might be a bellwether for where the culture war is headed. It is also a test of the 'go woke, go broke' theory, which posits that taking a strong political stand will hurt a business' bottom line. Other social media sites will certainly be watching to see if Ravelry suffers or succeeds."

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Friday, June 28, 2019

Alberta shows benefits of privatizing alcohol sales

Don’t believe what Ontario’s Beer Store is saying about liquor sales in Alberta | National Post - Ivonne Martinez:

June 20, 2019 - "In the province of Ontario, the airwaves are filled with debate and contradicting information about beer sales. Albertans could not be more united on beer sales: For over 25 years, Albertans have understood that liquor sales can be competitive, convenient, profitable and accessible without compromising safety. That’s why the Alberta system has a 90-per-cent public satisfaction rating.

"But Ontario unions and The Beer Store continue to misinform the public in an effort to protect their existing monopoly.... The Beer Store is currently running an ad campaign that ... perpetuates myths about the harm of privatization and blatantly distorts the truth about the Alberta liquor system ... to justify the monopolistic protection that persists in Ontario....

"The facts however tell a different story. Alberta has over 1,500 independently owned liquor stores ... that offer the largest selection of liquor products in Canada. Alberta liquor retailing accomplishes this by providing Albertans with convenience, competitive prices and the highest of social responsibility. Like Ontario, the Alberta provincial government regulates liquor sales, and liquor stores must ID anyone that looks to be under 25 years....

"And what about The Beer Store’s claim that a 24 pack of Coors Light is more expensive in Alberta than in Ontario? The Beer Store is owned by Labatts and Molson (National Brewers).... Molson itself ... set a higher price for its beer in Alberta....

"Other facts that are left out include the 12,000 direct jobs created by liquor retail in Alberta, contributing $866 million annually to provincial revenue and creating a $3-billion industry.

"Alberta has a fully open free market that doesn’t block products from other provinces or countries. As a matter of fact, Alberta has individual liquor stores that have more beer selection on the shelves than the entire province of Ontario....

"Ontario doesn’t have to look far for a successful liquor model. All Alberta liquor stores are standalone retailers, whether independent, chains or grocers. This allows our liquor stores to simply focus on making the best experience for consumers while keeping minors from accessing alcohol. Albertans can get wine, beer and spirits at one store. One stop to access the best selection of products from across the province, country and the world. One stop."

Ivonne Martinez is the President of the Alberta Liquor Store Association

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Thursday, June 27, 2019

Tax-funded abortions violate right to choose

Democrats have abandoned the libertarian case for abortion rights - Philip Klein, Washington Examiner:

June 27, 2019 - "For decades, Democrats have tried to frame the abortion question in essentially libertarian terms, as one of opposition to government intruding on personal decisions. But by making support for taxpayer funded abortions their default position, candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination have undermined their ability to make the small government case for abortion rights.

"Libertarians themselves, it should be said, are divided on abortion. For some, the issue is straight forward: If you support limited government, you cannot support restrictions over what women try to do with their bodies. However, libertarians also believe that the primary function of government is to protect the right to life, so to those libertarians who believe an unborn child qualifies as a life, it naturally flows that they'd believe it is legitimate for government to protect that child's life and liberty.

"Reason's Stephanie Slade (a self-described pro-life libertarian) observed that Wednesday night's debate showed, 'that for the 2020 Democratic hopefuls, it's not enough for abortion to be legal. To meet the criterion of "justice," the procedure must be paid for by someone other than the woman seeking it'....

"Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who supports putting all Americans on a single government-run plan, said 'I would make certain that every woman has access to the full range of reproductive health care services, and ... that includes abortion'....  Julián Castro said, 'I don't believe only in reproductive freedom. I believe in reproductive justice.... And so I absolutely would cover the right to have an abortion.' Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said that all insurance companies should be forced to cover abortion. Joe Biden abandoned decades of support for the Hyde Amendment that prevents Medicaid from covering abortion, arguing that lower-income women must be given equal access to abortions.

"This is, of course, a consistent liberal [progressive - ed.] position — that if you believe free healthcare is a right and that abortion is a right, it would follow that you believe everybody has a right to free abortions. But it is no longer a position that can be justified on libertarian grounds where the case would be that women have a right to abortions, but taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay for them and insurers shouldn't be forced to cover them.

"As none other than Biden himself put it in 1986 in explaining his opposition to taxpayer funded abortion, 'If it’s not government’s business, then you have to accept the whole of that concept, which means you don’t proscribe [their] right to have an abortion and you don’t take [their] money to assist someone else to have an abortion.'”

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Illinois governor signs cannabis legalization bill

Illinois approves legal weed, expunging criminal records for pot crimes  - Trevor Hughes, USA Today:

June 25, 2019 - "Illinois on Tuesday became the 11th state to legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana for adults.... With Gov. J.B. Pritzker's signature, the new law is the first of its kind passed by a state legislature and signed by a governor. It capped off a legislative year in which legalization efforts sputtered in New York and New Jersey....

"Illinois, which has more than 12 million residents, is the second-most-populous state to permit recreational cannabis, behind California. Regulators will spend the next few months developing a system for taxing and testing cannabis and will launch sales Jan. 1.....

"Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but since 2014, federal prosecutors have generally ignored marijuana sales in 10 states that legalized personal use: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Nevada, Vermont and Washington, along with the District of Columbia. In all of those states but Vermont, voters approved legalization. Vermont's legislatively approved measure permits only personal growing and use, not sales.

"The Illinois law lets resident adults buy and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis "flower," along with marijuana-infused foods known as edibles and small amounts of highly concentrated extracts. Nonresidents could buy half the amount.

"Consumers would pay up to 34.75% tax on their purchases, depending on potency. Regulators would give preference points to members of minority groups seeking to get business licenses, and state-certified labs would test products for potency and contaminants, a growing concern among users. Backers said the measure will create jobs in communities around the state, an argument made by Canadian officials when they legalized marijuana nationally last year.

"Money raised by the new taxes would first be dedicated to expunging about 770,000 minor cannabis-related cases. Expungement has long been a goal of marijuana-legalization advocates, who argue the federal government's war on drugs disproportionately targeted minorities. Other states have similar provisions, usually added after the fact, but Illinois' law is the first to contain such a sweeping expungement provision from the start. Any tax money left over would be used to support drug treatment and enforcement programs, improve mental health counseling access and bolster the state's general fund....

"Kris Krane, a member of the marijuana trade group National Cannabis Industry Association, said Illinois' move would probably pave the way for more legislative legalization."

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Senate bill to enforce fairness doctrine on internet

Josh Hawley Introduces Bill to Put Washington In Charge of Internet Speech – - Elizabeth Nolan Brown:

"Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) is introducing legislation to clamp down on free expression online, under the pretense of fighting tech-company 'bias' against Republicans. Hawley's solution is to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a measure that prevents individual users of internet platforms and the companies that run them from being treated as legally indistinguishable from one another. Without it, digital companies and the users of their products (i.e., all of us) could be sued in civil court or subject to state criminal prosecution over content and messages created and published by others....

"Now, national and state leaders are insisting that Section 230 must be destroyed in order to fight "foreign influence" in our elections, the manipulated videos known as "deepfakes," fentanyl trafficking, gun violence, and an array of other (sometimes real, sometimes imaginary) problems. "For some Republican leaders — chief among them Hawley—this has led to the truly Orwellian tack of trying to convince conservative internet users that taking away protection for online speech will somehow allow them to speak more freely.

"That's the nonsensical proposition at the heart of Hawley's new legislation, misleadingly called the 'Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act.' The measure would give the government control over online speech by denying Section 230 protections to platforms that don't hand over an array of private intellectual property and satisfactorily prove to a bunch of partisan political appointees that they are operating in a 'politically neutral' manner. Essentially, Hawley wants to revive the old Fairness Doctrine—a policy that was roundly denounced by conservatives for its chilling effect on free speech and its propensity to further marginalize non-mainstream voices—and apply this cursed policy paradigm to anything online.

"Under Hawley's bill, companies would be required to reapply with the Federal Trade Commission every two years for this political favor—a situation that would mean companies having "to constantly curry favor with the administration," as Mapbox policy head Tom Lee noted on Twitter. Hawley's proposal would also require tech companies to discipline or fire any employee who made a content moderation decision that bureaucrats deem to be in violation of online-speech neutrality principles....

"Censorship would be universally worse without Section 230 and, as someone who studied law, Hawley should know this. But it doesn't matter what he knows about Section 230, it matters what the masses know about Section 230—which was basically zilch, until recently. That's what makes it easy for folks like Hawley ... and the rest of the bipartisan chorus calling for 230's demise to manipulate their base into buying that it's about 'bias' or or any other number of hated things.

"But no matter how many culture war red flags Hawley and company raise, their solutions all come down to the same thing: letting folks in Washington have more say over what can be said on the internet."

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Monday, June 24, 2019

Oakland decriminalizes psychedelic mushrooms

Oakland becomes 2nd U.S. city to decriminalize magic mushrooms - Los Angeles Times - Coleen Shalby:

June 5, 2019 - ""Oakland [California] has voted to decriminalize entheogenic plants, including hallucinogenic magic mushrooms. It’s the second city in the United States to do so after Denver passed a similar measure last month for people 21 and older.

"The City Council passed the resolution in a unanimous vote Tuesday. Presented by City Councilman Noel Gallo, the measure sets a citywide policy ending the investigation and imposition of criminal penalties for use and possession of hallucinogens derived from plants or fungi, such as mushrooms, cactuses and the iboga plant.

“'Practices with Entheogenic Plants have long existed and have been considered to be sacred to human cultures and human interrelationships with nature for thousands of years, and continue to be enhanced and improved to this day by religious and spiritual leaders, practicing professionals, mentors, and healers throughout the world, many of whom have been forced underground,' the resolution stated, citing economic, environmental and social equity benefits to the city as well as possible health benefits in treating addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression....

"In May, Denver decriminalized the use of hallucinogenic magic mushrooms, becoming the first city in the U.S. to do so. Similar initiatives in Oregon, Iowa and elsewhere in the country are underway. California voters failed to get a similar measure on the ballot last year.

"Decriminalize Nature Oakland, the group behind the Oakland resolution, started discussions in the community in early 2019. In March, the group had its first public educational event, with support from seven community organizations....

“'Since DNO believes entheogens should not be commodified, there will be no sales of entheogenic plants and fungi, and we will work closely with local communities to share resources,' Gallo wrote in his agenda report to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee. 'Concepts such as collectives could provide a space to have an experience, or "road people" who could visit those in hospice care or unable to leave their home.'

"The resolution applies only to plant-based hallucinogens. Synthetic drugs such as LSD and MDMA are not included. And magic mushrooms ... remain illegal under state and federal law."

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

LP POTUS field makes me want to vote NOTA

by George J. Dance

2020 will be a leap year, and like all leap years will witness a new installment of the biggest, longest, most-watched media event of them all. No, not the Summer Olympics; those run for only a few weeks. I'm talking about the U.S. presidential election, which runs from January right through to the inauguration finale a year later.

The Republican and Democratic races for the 2020 nomination are already getting plenty of attention; as usual, the Libertarian race is not. This year, though, that is probably a very good thing, considering the choice of candidates offered so far.

Apparent frontrunner Adam Kokesh is a founder of Iraqi Veterans against the War, who has run for the Senate (and lost) as a Ron Paul Republican. The only Libertarian Party activism I know him for is his disrupton of the LP's 2008 campaign kickoff. He has also conducted a libertarian podcast, on one show of which he advocated killing police (hence my nickname for him, "Kop-Killer Kokesh"). His platform is to abolish the U.S. government by Executive Order, and then resign.

Then comes Arvin Vohra, former LP vice-chairman. Originally a pragmatic millennial politician-in-training, he became radicalized after the 2016 Johnson campaign, and began taking extreme positions - some of which, like writing that age of consent laws should be abolished, and calling school board shootings a "good idea," led to attempts to censure him and remove him from office. In the end, LP voters did remove him at the last convention - following which he promptly declared as a POTUS candidate.

Then there is John McAfee, an eccentric (if he's still rich) who plans to campaign "from exile". Plus a bunch of people I know nothing about; this is getting too long, so I'll just give a link. And as always there is Vermin Supreme, the ex-Democrat who campaigns with a boot on his head, and whose signature campaign plank is to give every American a pony.

In short, the real LP candidate hasn't surfaced yet; all we have are possibilities.  Four well-qualified possibilities are:

Mark Sanford, former governor of South Carolina. Sanford has never lost a general election, but was defeated as congressman by a Trump-endorsed candidate in the 2018 GOP primary, so he has no seat to lose. He has always focused on the national debt crisis, which I think will be big news again by 2020 (now that the Democratic-leaning media can blame it on Trump).

William Weld, former governor of Massachusetts. While he ran for the LP as Johnson's running mate, Weld is a divisive figure in the party. Besides, he has rejoined the Republicans to primary Trump. Weld is staking everything on New Hampshire: if he does well there, his campaign could catch fire (at least with the Dem-leaning media), and make him a star; in which case he would be the most prominent candidate we could get. But many members count his reregistering Republican, after declaring that he was in the LP for life, as a betrayal and sell-out, making him more hated than ever by a large faction.

Lincoln Chafee, former governor of Rhode Island. Chafee is a wild card - he registered Libertarian just this month - who isn't telling anyone his plans as yet.

Justin Amash, congressman from Michigan. Amash is the most libertarian guy in the House, today's Ron Paul, and I would prefer that he stay there. However, since he accused Trump of "impeachable" conduct, he too has a Trump-endorsed primary challenger, who is leading him by double digits. If Amash loses the primary, there is no way he could win his seat as an independent (or Libertarian), as Michigan has straight-ticket voting. Meanwhile, there is a sizable movement within the LP to draft him for the Libertarian nomination, including a facebook page I recently joined:

Three of those four (Weld excepted) could have the nomination for the asking. Alas, none of the four is presently a live option: none is even running for the job. Given today's live options - the current field of declared candidates - the only one worth voting for is None of the Above: which, fortunately, will be on the ballot at the LP's 2020 presidential convention.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

GOP libertarians split over Trump

The libertarian fight over Trump - James W. Antle III, Washington Examiner:

June 6, 2019 - "Former Sen. John Danforth, R-Mo., took to the op-ed pages to blast President Trump, early in his term, as 'the most divisive president in our history.' While that assessment is a matter of opinion, Trump has managed to drive an unfamiliar wedge between the two most libertarian members of Congress.

"Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., became the first member of his party to call for the president's impeachment, saying Attorney General William Barr 'deliberately misrepresented key aspects' of special counsel Robert Mueller's Trump-Russia report, a document he further alleged many of his GOP colleagues on Capitol Hill never read.

"Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., disagrees. 'I think they took this great power we entrusted with them to spy on foreigners, and they directed it against Americans for partisan reasons,' Paul said of the Russia investigation in an interview with Fox News....  'I think it's wrong for any Republican to think, "Oh gosh, this is a legitimate investigation." I think it's a very partisan investigation." Paul described the whole affair as 'unlibertarian.'

"It may be the most significant disagreement ever between these two lawmakers who both arrived in Washington after the tea party-wave election of 2010, their candidacies made possible by the GOP presidential campaigns of then-Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the Kentucky senator's father, and have nearly identical voting records today. Aside from impeachment or the origins of the Russia investigation, it speaks also to differing strategies for Republicans in the age of Trump, whether libertarian, centrist, or conservative....

"Fundamentally, it is an argument over whether it's a more significant risk to be discredited by opposition to Trump or association with him. There are many obvious reasons why Paul and Amash would disagree on this question. Paul has access to Trump; Amash does not. Born in 1980, Amash is closer in age to the millennials who often find Trump offensive. Paul is on the younger end of the baby boomers, who see Trump more congenially.

"Paul represents Kentucky, a state Trump won easily and remains popular in. In fact, Trump ran ahead of Paul there in 2016, with 62.5% of the vote to the junior senator's 57%. Amash ran ahead of Trump in his district, winning 59% to the future president's 52%. The seat was once held by Gerald Ford, whom the Pauls would oppose as a sitting president at the Republican National Convention in 1976.

"Amash's libertarianism has probably allowed him to compile a more conservative voting record than his more moderate congressional district might otherwise be comfortable with. It is similarly possible that this will allow him to outlast his criticism of Trump. Paul already tried running as a Trump critic when they were both seeking the Republican presidential nomination, and it ended disastrously.

"The ultimate disagreement between the two might not be about Trump but partisanship. Amash has increasingly taken to describing partisanship as a counterproductive, even destructive force, the factionalism the Founding Fathers warned against. Paul sees partisan sentiment as baked into the cake of American politics and best used in service of his principles where possible.

"Which approach works best may have as much to do with how the Trump years end than who is right about this political dilemma."

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Friday, June 21, 2019

AZ law designed to keep Libertarians off ballot upheld on appeal

Law Libertarians Contend Targets Their Candidates Upheld | Arizona News | US News - Associated Press:
May 31, 2019 - "A state law that the Libertarian Party contends was designed to keep its candidates off Arizona ballots has been upheld by a federal appeals court.... [The] 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments from the Libertarian Party that the law increasing the number of qualifying signatures party candidates need violates their constitutional rights.

"The 2015 law backed by Republicans had a major impact. Only one Libertarian seeking to run for the state Legislature or Congress made the ballot in 2016 compared to 18 in 2004. Former Libertarian Party chairman Michael Kielsky has said Republicans created a law 'laser-focused' on his party because they believed Libertarians were draining votes from GOP candidates."
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Ninth Circuit puts kibosh on Libertarian fight of Arizona election rules - Nathan Solis, Tucson Sentinel:
May 31, 2019 - "In 2015, Arizona changed its signature requirements to increase the number of signatures needed on nomination petitions to qualify candidates for placement on ballots. While parties with open primaries can collect signatures from registered party members, independents and unaffiliated voters, parties with a closed primary – like the Libertarian Party in Arizona  – can only take signatures from registered Libertarians....

"In 2017, a federal judge granted summary judgment to the state.... And ... on Friday a Ninth Circuit panel agreed. U.S. Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote ... 'The state’s signature requirements are reasonable restrictions that impose, at most, a modest burden on the Libertarian Party’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, while directly advancing Arizona’s important regulatory interests'....

"The panel also rejected the party’s argument that the requirement is impossible since there are over 32,000 registered Libertarians in the state. 'Libertarian candidates can qualify for the primary ballot with signatures from 11% to 30% of party members in their jurisdictions, and no evidence suggests it is impossible to do so as a practical matter,' McKeown wrote."
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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Congress limits IRS power to seize accounts

Congress Passes Bill to Protect Small-Business Owners from IRS Seizures - Institute for Justice - Nick Sibilla:

June 14, 2019 - "Yesterday, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation that stops the Internal Revenue Service from raiding the bank accounts of small-business owners. The Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act, passed as part of the Taxpayer First Act (H.R. 3151), is named after Institute for Justice clients Jeff Hirsch and Randy Sowers, two victims of the IRS’s aggressive seizures for so-called 'structuring.' Through structuring laws, the IRS has routinely confiscated cash from ordinary Americans simply because they frequently deposited or withdrew cash in amounts under $10,000. And by using civil forfeiture, the IRS can keep that money without ever filing criminal charges.

"The RESPECT Act was originally introduced by Reps. John Lewis (D-GA) and Doug Collins (R-GA) after Jeff and Randy testified before the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee about their experiences: Jeff had over $400,000 seized from his convenience store distribution business on Long Island while Randy, a Maryland dairy farmer, lost $29,500 to the IRS. Neither man was ever charged with a crime. Both Jeff and Randy ultimately recovered their wrongfully taken money, but only after years of legal proceedings and high-profile media coverage....

"The Taxpayer First Act previously passed the House by voice vote on June 10. It now heads to President Donald Trump for signature.

"To rein in the IRS’ civil-forfeiture power, the Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act would:
  • Limit forfeiture for currency 'structuring' only when the funds in question are derived from an illegal source or used to conceal illegal activity. This would codify an IRS policy change from October 2014 prompted by lawsuits from the Institute for Justice and would prevent the agency from backtracking;
  • Allow property owners to challenge a seizure at a prompt, post-seizure hearing. Previously, property owners targeted for structuring had to wait months or even years to present their case to a judge.....
"'The Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act is an important first step to address one type of forfeiture abuse by one federal agency,' [Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Darpana] Sheth noted. 'But civil forfeitures by other agencies continue unabated. With today’s vote revealing a broad consensus, Congress should seize the opportunity to pass comprehensive reform of federal forfeiture laws and protect the constitutional rights of all Americans'....

"Forfeiture reform is the rare political issue that transcends party lines. The national platforms for both the Democratic and Republican Parties have endorsed forfeiture reform, as have the editorial boards for over 135 different newspapers. In February, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that state civil forfeiture cases are bound by the Eighth Amendment’s ban on 'excessive fines.' And in the past five years, 33 states and the District of Columbia have enacted forfeiture reforms."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Cannabis legalization "dead for now" in New York

Effort to Legalize Marijuana in New York ‘Dead for Now’ - WSJ - Jimmy Vielkind:

June 19, 2019 - "A bill to legalize recreational marijuana for adults won’t be enacted this year in New York, its sponsor said Wednesday. State Sen. Liz Krueger, a Democrat from Manhattan, had been trying to amend her legislation to win support from Democrats representing suburban areas. No bill was filed by midnight on Tuesday.... In a text message on Wednesday morning, Ms. Krueger said her bill was “dead for now.”

"The omnibus marijuana bill would have created a new state agency to regulate cannabis, expunged the records of people previously convicted of marijuana possession and set aside a portion of state tax revenues — which proponents estimated would eventually be $300 million a year — for communities that were disproportionately impacted by marijuana arrests.

"Democratic leaders of the state Assembly and Senate supported the broad parameters of the legalization effort, which was also led by Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, a Democrat from Buffalo. But lawmakers have struggled for months to work out the details of a bill, at times clashing with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who advanced his own framework for a regulated market....

"The cadre of lobbyists pushing for the legalization bill — a loose alliance of drug decriminalization activists and medical-marijuana companies already operating in the state — will now pursue separate bills, one of them said Wednesday.

"They include a measure to further decriminalize marijuana and expunge records, make it easier for patients to access medical marijuana and a bill to regulate the growing hemp industry. Melissa Moore, deputy New York State director of the advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance said it would keep pushing for the omnibus bill. She faulted Mr. Cuomo and legislative leaders.

“'Comprehensive reform would have been an enormous economic driver for struggling communities across the state. But in a moment when they had a clear avenue for building up marginalized communities, they chose not to act. It’s pathetic,' Ms. Moore said."

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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Cruz, AOC join push for OTC birth control

Ted Cruz floats legislation with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after agreeing on over-the-counter birth control - CNNPolitics:

June 12, 2019 - "Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz asked New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez if she would want to team up to make birth control available over-the-counter.Cruz, one of the Senate's most conservative members, made the suggestion via Twitter Wednesday to Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman congresswoman who has built a reputation as one of the more progressive members of Congress. The exchange comes after the unlikely duo came together on Twitter late last month when the pair agreed that Congress should ban former lawmakers from becoming lobbyists.

"On Wednesday, Cruz responded to a June 7 tweet from Ocasio-Cortez in which she said 'birth control should be over-the-counter'.

"'I agree. Perhaps, in addition to the legislation we are already working on together to ban Members of Congress from becoming lobbyists, we can team up here as well. A simple, clean bill making birth control available over the counter. Interested?' Cruz tweeted....

"There has been a growing push in the US to make birth control pills available without a prescription, although previous efforts have faced political resistance. Cecile Richards, then the head of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, argued in a 2014 opinion piece that an over-the-counter proposal would make birth control less available, as women would have to pay out-of-pocket for a non-prescription pill, while under the Affordable Care Act, women could obtain birth control without a co-pay. In the same article, however, Richards said she supported 'making it available over the counter, in addition to requiring insurance plans to cover it -- but not instead of requiring no co-pay coverage.'

"Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview last week that her and Cruz's legislative teams were meeting to work on a bill to ban former lawmakers from becoming lobbyists and that she was 'encouraged' thus far. That proposal picked up support from other lawmakers on Twitter."

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Forfeiture doesn't fight crime or reduce drug use, study finds

Study Shows Asset Forfeiture Doesn't Fight Crime Or Reduce Drug Use - Tim Cushing, Techdirt:

 June 14, 2019 - "Many law enforcement officials may actually believe the [bs] they spill in defense of taking property from people without convicting them of crimes. .... Fortunately, those opposed to the abusive practice will have even more facts to work with, thanks to a new study [PDF] by Dr. Brian D. Kelly of the Institute for Justice [IJ]....
More equitable sharing funds do not translate into more crimes solved [Dr. Kelly writes]. This suggests that despite claims forfeiture turns criminals’ cash into more resources for law enforcement, the additional revenue is not improving overall police effectiveness in crime fighting. More equitable sharing funds also do not mean less drug use, even though proponents argue forfeiture helps rid the streets of drugs by financially crippling drug dealers and cartels....
"That ... forfeiture allows agencies to purchase the tech and tools they need to fight crime successfully – is disproven by the lack of results..... Using law enforcement data, the IJ can't find any link between asset forfeiture and law enforcement efficiency.....

"[T]hat forfeiture cripples drug dealers and cartels – also has no factual basis.... Using the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) carried out by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the IJ found no correlation between asset forfeiture and reductions in drug use, suggesting drugs are still just as easy to obtain....
[Of [t]The four NSDUH drug use measures I used were (1) use of any illicit drug in the previous year, (2) marijuana use in the previous year, (3) nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers in the previous year and (4) cocaine use in the previous year. For none of these illicit drug use measures did I find increases in equitable sharing proceeds led to subsequent reductions in use. In short, to the extent forfeiture advocates hope increasing enforcement through forfeiture will reduce drug use, this does not appear to be happening....
"What the report did find is something unexpected: the more financially-stressed an area is, the more likely it is law enforcement will make it worse. Forfeitures increase as unemployment increases, suggesting financially-strapped agencies are stepping up forfeiture efforts to make up for budget shortfalls.
In every case, I found that higher unemployment predicted more equitable sharing activity..... For equitable sharing overall ...  a 1 percentage point increase in unemployment was associated with an 8.5 percentage point increase in the value of forfeited assets and a 9.5 percentage point increase in the number of assets seized....
"The study confirms what's always been suspected: asset forfeiture directly enriches law enforcement agencies but provides zero benefit to the communities the agencies serve."

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Andrew Heaton's libertarian comedy (video)

Andrew Heaton: Libertarian Laughter to Lighten Us Up - Part 1 - Liberty Nation - Andrew Moran:

June 10, 2019 - "Today, every American is ... mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.... But Andrew Heaton has a message for everyone: Give up the boxing gloves and lighten up. The libertarian comedian has been injecting laughter into political discourse for several years, first sharing his wit and political insight on YouTube web series EconPop and Almost Weekly. Eventually, he hit the big time, making it to Reason, the Fox Business Network, and The Blaze.

"Heaton’s success stems from his unique style of comedy that dishes it out against elephants, donkeys, and porcupines.... More than portraying corrupt politician Buck Schwartzmore, drinking scotch, and crafting holiday gift guides for libertarians, Heaton can take on the talking heads and provide serious insight into issues of the day. Be warned: You may not like what he has to say, whether you’re a liberal or a conservative.

"In an interview with Liberty Nation, Andrew Heaton talks about how he got involved in political comedy, his time at the Fox Business Network, the state of libertarianism, President Donald Trump, Democrats in 2020, whether we will see Heaton (or Schwartzmore) run for public office in the future, and a lot more."

Read interview here:
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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Haudenosaunee shut down Six Nations Council

Haudenosaunee retake Six Nations Council House, may dismiss Reserve officials – The Buffalo Chronicle:

June 10, 2019 - "On May 28th, citizens of the Haudenosaunee [Iroquois] Confederacy barricaded the Six Nations Reserve’s Central Administration Building, a ‘federal works’ office of the Canadian government, located on the Confederacy’s sovereign Grand River Territory at Ohsweken, ON. They’ve enforced the shut down for the past two weeks, effectively expelling the Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) from their chambers and senior administrators from their offices.  The shutdown is being enforced until SNEC acknowledges [its] limited role as an administrator of federal programs — not as the legitimate constitutional government of the Territory....

"The two Councils have been engaged in an adversarial posture since 1924, when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police sent officers into the Old Council House to beat the Haudenosaunee Chiefs with billy clubs before installing their own elected Councillors to administer Crown programs on the Reserve under the federal Indian Act.

"The Haudenosaunee Confederacy is the oldest still-existant constitutional democracy in the world, founded in 1142, with its capital situated at Onondaga Lake for more than 600 years — until 1779, when General George Washington ordered Generals John Sullivan and James Clinton to execute a genocidal military campaign against the Haudenosaunee. Hundreds of villages were burned to the ground, and the survivors fled across the Niagara River as war refugees to the Grand River Territory, which they secured as a term of their alliance during the American Revolution, in negotiations with Governor General Fredrick Haldimand.

"The Haudenosaunee Chiefs continue to conduct Council on the first Saturday of every month — as allies, not subjects, of the Queen.  There they operate as a government in exile, their diplomatic relations having limited recognition by the American or Canadian government.... .

"In recent years, SNEC and its economic development attache have asserted jurisdictional capacities over the Haldimand Tract — the federal government’s largest off-balance sheet debt and the largest set of indigenous land claims cases in Candian history. That series of Court of Claims filings by Six Nations have been valued by economists at many hundreds of billions of dollars....

"But it was the sovereign Haudenosaunee government — not SNEC — who was a party to that treaty and other treaties with the Crown. SNEC has made material misrepresentations to counterparties, including presenting itself as a government with fictitious jurisdictional capacities.... That has angered many traditionalists in the community, who argue that those misrepresentations constitute criminal fraud....

"SNEC's ... Lands & Resources Department has been funded to the tune of millions of dollars a year ... using Ontario-First Nations ‘limited partnership’ funds, which are discretionary monies that could have been otherwise spent by the community, which still lacks a reliable supply of clean drinking water....

"It’s been widely rumored that the Haudenosaunee are debating whether or not to disband the SNEC Council permanently or to simply dismiss the current Councillors and install new ones in their place (presumably with individuals who understand SNEC’s limited role as a service delivery agency, rather than that of a government). Either would be an unprecedented move that would reassert the Haudenosaunee Chiefs and Clan Mothers as the sovereigns of the Grand River Territory."

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Moscow mayor permits Libertarian Party protest

Moscow mayor's office approves Libertarian Party's permit request for June 23 protest to support Ivan Golunov — Meduza - Interfax:

June 14, 2019 - "A protest in support of Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov, this one organized by Russia’s Libertarian Party and the Union of Journalists, has received a government permit to take place June 23 on Moscow’s Sakharov Prospect, Interfax reported.

"Organizers petitioned for the permit on June 10, when Golunov was still under house arrest on fabricated charges of attempted drug distribution. They estimated that 20,000 people might attend. Reports had previously emerged that City Hall turned down the petition.

"This protest will likely be the third event planned during Golunov’s arrest to take place after his release. On June 12, more than 500 people were arrested during an unsanctioned march in Moscow. On June 16, a government-approved protest organized by two journalists from state-aligned publications will take place on Sakharov Prospect. That protest was approved even though its petition for a permit was submitted outside the legally required 10-day notice period."

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Amash primary challenger up by 16 in early poll

Report: Michigan poll shows Justin Amash trailing primary challenger by 16 - Allahpundit, Hot Air:

June 12, 2019 - "Nothing would better encapsulate the GOP’s political turn over this past decade than watching the most hardcore small-government Republican in Congress get obliterated in a primary because he’s worried that the president committed a crime....
Independent PPC polling finds @justinamash down 49%-33% to @RepJimLower in MI-3 GOP primary.
— (@MIRSnews) June 11, 2019
"I can’t find the crosstabs and the MIRS website is paywalled but Daily Kos says the sample was of 335 likely GOP primary voters, which is smallish. Notably, the poll didn’t include a third candidate who’s running. That’s Amash’s best hope for a victory — draw more pro-Trump, anti-Amash candidates into the race, hope that the majority of Republican voters splinter among them, and win the nomination with a plurality.

"Although, given the state of the party, it’s possible that anti-Amash GOPers would cross over and vote Democratic in the general election just to spite him. Of course, it’s possible that pro-Amash GOPers will do the same thing in annoyance if someone unseats him in the primary. Remember, the last time Trump targeted a small-government Republican critic for political destruction, that seat ended up in Democratic hands — In South Carolina. Before that he had plenty of unhappy things to say about anti-Trumper Jeff Flake, who chose not to run again rather than be crushed in his own primary. That seat also ended up going Democratic in what’s normally a red state.

"Trump might be willing to see Amash’s seat turn blue as the price of expelling him, though. Per Politico, he sounds pretty excited about revenge here.
Trump and his top advisers have discussed the prospect of backing a primary challenge to the Michigan lawmaker — a highly unusual move for a president against a member of his own party.... Trump has raised the primary challenge idea with Vice President Mike Pence and North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, a close Trump ally who co-founded the conservative House Freedom Caucus with Amash. Trump has also addressed the subject with Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, a former Michigan GOP leader who remains influential in the state....
"I don’t think this is strategic on Trump’s part, I think this is just who he is. If you cross him and it’s within his power to ruin you, even if it means the other party is likely to benefit from it, he’ll do it....

"Amash is a worrisome third-party challenger for Trump potentially because he’s an unusually bold spokesman for the two camps that typically make up the base of support for Libertarian Party candidates. One is libertarians themselves; to them, Amash’s ideological credentials are impeccable. The other is righties of various stripes who crave a Republican who’ll confront Trump unapologetically. Amash distinguished himself spectacularly in that regard with his impeachment stance. Both libertarians and anti-Trump GOPers should be more eager to vote for him for their own reasons in 2020, I suspect, than they were to back Gary Johnson and Bill Weld in 2016. Amash would still end up in single digits but each extra percentage point matters. Especially in Michigan."

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

New York farmers call for cannabis legalization

New York farmers: Legalize marijuana so we can grow it - Jon Campbell, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle:

June 12, 2019 - "The New York Farm Bureau issued a memo Monday backing a bill that would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in New York, which lawmakers are considering before they end their annual session June 19.

"The bill, which is struggling to gain enough support in the Democrat-led Senate, includes measures meant to ensure struggling farmers in New York's poorer counties get a chance to break in to the marijuana and hemp extract industries. That was enough to garner the support of the organization representing thousands of farms in the state....

"The Farm Bureau's backing comes as pro-marijuana lawmakers are courting their fellow lawmakers to pledge their support for the bill, which would create a new Office of Cannabis Management to oversee the recreational and medicinal marijuana industries, as well as the hemp extract industry. Only those above the age of 21 would be able to legally purchase marijuana, and local governments would have the ability to hold a public referendum to block legal sales within their borders....

"The Farm Bureau's support could help draw the backing of rural lawmakers, some of whom have been on the fence and are often eager to help the agriculture industry. 'Including New York agriculture both as cultivators and as advisors for cannabis would help make this program a success for the state, if legalized,' the Farm Bureau wrote.

"As of last week, 30 Senate Democrats had pledged support for legalizing marijuana or were leaning that way, while nine were leaning against it or undecided. A bill needs 32 total votes to pass, and the Senate's Democratic majority doesn't often bring bills to the floor for a vote unless they have enough Democratic votes to pass them.... Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pledged to sign it if passed."

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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Oxford study program a big libertarian conspiracy

The Oxford Study programme faces a worrying lack of scrutiny | Cherwell - Libby Cherry:

June 10, 2019 - "Academic freedom is being threatened at Oxford University ... behind closed doors as part of a global attempt by a small sect of libertarians to ... exercise undue influence over those in power: legislators, policymakers, and, most insidiously, students and academics....

"[T]he Oxford Study Abroad Programme ... acts as an intermediary between US students and ... specific colleges, facilitating placements as Associated Members or Visiting Students for up to a year..... OSAP also runs ‘Specialised Summer Programs’. Whilst these ‘Programs’ use college facilities and are often instructed by handpicked Oxford academics, students are taught using custom reading lists and lectures developed by the 'faculty leaders' of the programmes ... without ‘interference’ from OSAP itself. Nor does OSAP’s educational scheme show evidence of being overseen by the central University or departments....

"Not only does this seem a singularly irresponsible model, a closer look at OSAP’s sample lectures, lecturers, and academic advisors reveals a highly commercialised organisation aimed at pushing a far-right agenda that is not only similar to those being propagated in the US but is directly funded from the same Koch sources....

"OSAP is the brainchild of the late Chicago-trained economist, Robert L. Schuettinger.... Trained under Friedrich Hayek in the 1950s ... Schuettinger was an Associate Member of Christ Church, and a Visiting Research Fellow at the University’s Rothermere Institute.... Not only was he Director of Studies at US conservative thinktank the Heritage Foundation, which received $300,000 from the Koch-affiliated organisations in 2013, he was also a contributor to the Mises Institute’s online journal. The [Mises] Institute’s board of directors includes Bob Luddy, who founded the Thales Academy, a chain of private schools teaching 'free-market economics' to school pupils.... But perhaps most damningly, Scheuttinger was a member of the Mont Pelerin Society, near-universally considered the most exclusive club of libertarian ideologues internationally ... with members including Charles Koch himself....

"Edwin Feulner, cited as a member of OSAP’s ‘Academic Advisory Board’, was former President of the Heritage Foundation and member of the 2016 Trump transition team.... OSAP’s website also includes praise from Texan Public Policy affiliate Ronald Trowbridge, who has formerly argued for the privatisation of universities....

""[T]he Reagan-Thatcher Lecture Series ... OSAP’s 'latest offering' ... received $10,000 from the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation.... The lecturers on the Reagan-Thatcher series ...  includ[e] historians Mark Almond, formerly a lecturer at Oriel College, and Norman Stone, former Chair of Modern History at Oxford and foreign policy advisor to Margaret Thatcher.... Almond also has his own personal ties with the American libertarian network, acting as an Academic Advisor for the Ron Paul Institute....

"This fatal combination of narrow political ideology, politicised funding, poor educational materials, and questionable lecturers makes OSAP’s course the paradigmatic opposite of academic freedom.... Putting aside the fact that their political philosophy encompasses those who have espoused racist, anti-democratic, and elitist viewpoints, simply allowing the University’s name to be associated with completely unregulated educational programmes seems absurd."

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Monday, June 10, 2019

Maine legislature passes Death with Dignity Act

Maine legislature sends bill effectively legalizing assisted suicide to governor - CNNPolitics - Devan Cole:

June 5, 2019 - "The Maine state legislature has sent a bill that would effectively legalize medical aid in dying for patients suffering from terminally-ill diseases to the state's Democratic governor. The legislation, called the 'Maine Death with Dignity Act,' would allow mentally-competent patients over the age of 18 "to make a request for medication prescribed for the purpose of ending the person's life'....

"[A] spokeswoman for Gov. Janet Mills, said Wednesday the governor has not yet taken a position on the bill. She has 10 days to either sign or veto, and if she takes no action, the bill would become law after that time.

"The bill passed Maine's Democratic-controlled House on Monday by a vote of 73-72 and its Democratic-controlled Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 19-16. It states that it does not legalize medically-assisted suicide, though if enacted, it would effectively do so.

"The bill requires the patient to make two oral requests and a written request for the medication, with the written request being made at least 15 days after the initial oral request. The patient would also need to wait at least two days after they make their written request to receive the prescription and they would need [to] receive a second opinion by a consulting physician.

"The proposal defines "terminal disease" as 'an incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed and will, within reasonable medical judgment, produce death within 6 months.' Patients who doctors determine are 'suffering from a psychiatric or psychological disorder or depression causing impaired judgment' would be prohibited from receiving life-ending medication....

"The bill would also make it a crime to 'knowingly coerce or exert undue influence' on a patient to receive the medication and criminalize the act of forging request documents for the medication.

"If Mills signs the bill, Maine would join seven other states and the District of Columbia that have medical aid in dying statues, according to the Death with Dignity National Center."

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Sunday, June 9, 2019

Libertarian POTUS nominee David Bergland dead

David Bergland | Libertarianism Wiki:

June 9, 2019 - "David Peter Bergland (June 4, 1935 - June 3, 2019) was an American politician, who was the presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party in 1984.

"Bergland was born in Mapleton, Iowa.... A resident of California and a lawyer, Bergland ran unsuccessfully for office several times, always as a Libertarian. He also served as the party's national chair from 1977 to 1981 and from 1998 to 2000.

"In 1974, he ran as a write-in candidate for California Attorney General. He received the party's vice-presidential nomination in the 1976 presidential election, sharing the ticket with Roger MacBride.... In 1978, Bergland ran for the California state senate district 36, receiving 5.8% of the vote.... In 1980 he ran for the United States Senate, finishing 3rd of 5 with 202,410 votes (2.4%).

"At the 1983 Libertarian National Convention, Bergland won the Libertarian Party's nomination for president of the United States in the 1984 presidential election. Bergland and his running mate, Jim Lewis, received 228,111 votes (0.3%).

"In the early 1980s Bergland wrote a book on libertarian philosophy, Libertarianism in One Lesson, which he used as a campaign book for his 1984 presidential run....

"Bergland died on June 3, 2019, one day short of his 84th birthday, after a bout with prostate cancer."

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Saturday, June 8, 2019

Weld outlines primary strategy against Trump

Weld lays out GOP primary map for defeating Trump - POLITICO - Daniel Strauss:

May 23, 2019 - "Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld said he‘ll be directing his campaign toward open primary states where he expects to win crossover votes from Democrats intent on casting a vote against President Donald Trump before the general election in November.

“'I’ll be focusing on the 20 states that permit crossover voting. It’s not just Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, it’s 17 other states,' Weld said in an interview with C-SPAN's Newsmakers program.... “And a lot of those states permit even a Democrat to take a Republican ballot and I’ve heard from Democrats that they’re going to come and vote in the Republican primary for one day so that they can vote for me against Mr. Trump'....

"The former two-term GOP governor, who’s waging a longshot primary campaign against Trump, laid out a path to the 2020 Republican presidential nomination that runs through New England, the mid-Atlantic region and the West Coast. 'The geographic path in case you’re interested would be the six New England states and then down into the mid-Atlantic states where I’m a native, actually, of New York,' Weld said, ticking off New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware as three more states he saw as favorable to his candidacy.....

"Weld also argued that West Coast states would be receptive to his candidacy against Trump, who lost California, Oregon and Washington by wide margins in 2016.

"'A Republican would probably have a terrible time in California in the general election against a Democrat. It’s quite a blue state. But in the primary against Mr. Trump, I think my politics lines up more closely with California politics than Mr. Trump does,' said Weld, who ran as Gary Johnson's vice presidential nominee on [the] Libertarian Party ticket in 2016.

"While Weld is the only announced candidate running against Trump in the Republican primary, Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan and former Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich have drawn mention as potential challengers. In the C-SPAN interview, Weld said he talked with Hogan and Kasich before he announced for president. He said he told both of them before he ran that 'the water's fine' and 'I would welcome you in. I know both of you.'"

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Friday, June 7, 2019

Amash 2020 run would help Trump in Michigan

Poll: An Amash 2020 libertarian run would hurt Biden more than Trump - Conservative Review:

"Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., might still try to run a spoiler campaign against President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, but it might not turn out the way he and his supporters want, according to some new numbers from his home state.

"A statewide survey of 600 Michigan voters found that a hypothetical Amash run as a Libertarian candidate ... would cut Biden’s head-to-head lead over Trump from 12 percentage points to six.... Amash only got 10 percent of his home state poll respondents’ support, putting him four points over the “undecided” category. The poll was conducted by the Lansing-based Glengariff Group and has a 4 percent margin of error....

"Trump beat Hillary Clinton by a narrow margin in Michigan in 2016, coming in over the Democrat by a scant 11,000 votes.

"Amash — a longtime outspoken critic of President Trump — has caused heated debate among conservatives and libertarians following remarks he made about the Mueller report, saying that it shows the president 'engaged in impeachable conduct.' Trump hit back, calling Amash 'a total lightweight who opposes me and some of our great Republican ideas and policies just for the sake of getting his name out there through controversy'....  Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., another libertarian-leaning Republican, countered Amash’s conclusions by saying ... that 'it’s wrong for any Republican to think oh gosh, this is a legitimate investigation. I think it’s a very partisan investigation.'

"In March, the libertarian-leaning Amash said that he hadn’t yet made up his mind about whether he’d mount a 2020 run and that he hadn’t ruled the idea out."

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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Former RI governor registers Libertarian

Make that four political parties for Lincoln Chafee - The Boston Globe - Edward Fitzpatrick:

June 4, 2019 - "Lincoln D. Chafee, the Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat who served as Rhode Island’s governor and as a US senator, is now a member of the Libertarian Party.

“'I bought property in Wyoming and registered to vote out there in my fourth party — I’m a Libertarian,' Chafee said Tuesday while in Providence. 'It’s what I’ve always been — fiscally conservative and socially liberal.'

The county clerk’s office in Teton County, Wyo., confirmed that Chafee, who lives in Teton Village, near Jackson, registered as a member of the Libertarian Party on March 11 of this year....

"The Chafee brothers are the sons of the late Republican Senator John H. Chafee, a former Navy secretary and governor.... Lincoln Chafee was appointed to the Senate when his father died in 1999, and he won a full term in 2000. He soon bucked the Republican Party, opposing President George W. Bush’s tax cuts and casting the only Senate Republican vote against authorizing the war in Iraq.

"In 2006, Chafee lost the Senate seat to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, and he left the Republican Party to become an independent in 2007. Chafee endorsed Democrat Barack Obama in 2008, and when Chafee ran for governor as an independent in 2010, President Obama withheld his endorsement from Democrat Frank T. Caprio....

"In 2013, Chafee joined the Democratic Party. But months later, amid low job-approval ratings, he announced he would not seek reelection. In 2015, he ran for president, seeking the Democratic nomination, but he failed to gain traction and withdrew from the race.

"Now, Chafee is a member of the Libertarian Party. 'They are against capital punishment, pro-choice, against war, strongly for the Fourth Amendment, no torture,' he explained. 'All these things that [America] has gotten away from.'

"So will Chafee, now 66, get back into politics at some point? 'I’m still on sabbatical,' he said."

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Tuesday, June 4, 2019

IL legislature votes to legalize adult-use cannabis

Illinois poised to enact historic recreational marijuana bill that could clear convictions for 770,000 - ABC News - Bill Hutchinson:

June 3, 2019 - "The governor of Illinois is poised to sign a bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana there -- making it the first state to do so through its legislature and the 11th overall to legalize pot.

"The bill -- which permits marijuana possession and may clear the way for hundreds of thousands of criminal cases to be purged -- was sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's desk Friday after the state House of Representatives approved it with a 66-47 vote, the first time a state legislature in the United States has taken such action.... Pritzker ... has said he plans to sign the bill, which he estimates will garner the state $170 million in the first year alone.... Pritzker ... ran on a pledge to legalize cannabis....

"The legislation, House Bill 1438, will also allow residents of Illinois convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana to petition to have their records expunged if the offense was not associated with a violent crime. Some 770,000 Illinois residents could qualify to get their records cleared of low-level marijuana crimes, according to the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council.

"Under the proposed law, Illinois residents 21 and older, beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, will be able to legally possess up to 30 grams of cannabis -- a little more than an ounce -- and will be able to purchase it from licensed marijuana dispensaries (currently there are only medical dispensaries and 22 state-licensed cultivation centers). Non-residents of Illinois will be permitted to possess about half the amount of weed than residents will be allowed to possess.

"States that have already legalized recreational marijuana via a ballot initiative are Colorado, California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Nevada, Vermont, Alaska, Maine, Michigan, and Washington. Voters in Washington D.C. also legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2014 and the law went into effect a year later.... In June [2018] Canadian lawmakers approved landmark legislation to fully legalize marijuana for the entire country.

"Users will have to pay heavy sales taxes on the cannabis they purchase in Illinois. A 10% tax will be imposed on marijuana products containing less than 35% tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the compound that gets users high, while products with higher doses of THC will carry a tax of up to 25% or more.

"While purchasing pot will become legal, it will remain illegal to smoke marijuana in public places or to drive while under the influence."

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Monday, June 3, 2019

MD teen convicted of child porn for selfie video

A 16-Year-Old Girl Is Facing Child Pornography Charges for Making a Sex Video of Herself – - Robby Soave:

May 29, 2019 - "Maryland's highest court will soon decide whether a 16-year-old girl, 'S.K.,' can face child pornography charges for taking a video of herself performing a sex act and sending it to a few of her close friends.

"S.K. shared the video, in which she performs consensual oral sex on an unidentified male, with two close friends and fellow students, who later reported her to the school resource officer. S.K. was the only person charged in connection with the alleged crime.

"The Special Court of Appeals upheld S.K.'s conviction, ruling that the consensual nature of the sex act in question was irrelevant, as was the fact that it was not illegal for S.K. to perform the act. Taking a video of the act and sending it to other people constituted distribution of child pornography, according to the court's decision....

"The Maryland Court of Appeals' ruling is expected later this year. The court, which is Maryland's equivalent of a state supreme court, heard oral arguments in February.... S.K.'s attorney, Public Defender Claudia Cortese, argued that the statute in question was not intended to punish minors for being featured in pornographic materials, but rather, to protect them. Punishing S.K., as the state has attempted to do, is cruel and authoritarian.

"The state, on the other hand, has asserted that S.K. needs guidance, and that probation and a mandatory mental health evaluation were reasonable outcomes.... Because her case on the distribution of child pornography was in juvenile court, the teen never faced a mandatory sentence or the possibility of having to register as a sex offender. She was put on probation and referred for a mental health evaluation.

"That teens shouldn't send sexy videos to each other — because they are bound to get out, cause embarrassment, and raise legal issues — is something S.K.'s parents, teachers, and school administrators could have impressed upon her without the heavy-handed involvement of the police and courts. It is draconian to charge a 16-year-old girl with trafficking in child pornography because she willingly filmed herself performing oral sex. Upholding S.K.'s conviction would set a disturbing precedent."

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Sunday, June 2, 2019

Legal medical cannabis cut workplace deaths

Workplace Deaths Fell 34% After Medical Cannabis Legalization | Leafly - Emily Earlenbaugh:

May 29, 2019 - "Medical cannabis laws are associated with a staggering 34% decline in workplace deaths for adults age 25 to 44, a new study finds. The reason? Those workers might be drinking less alcohol and taking less pills due to legalization.

"Since 1996, a record 29 states have passed medical cannabis laws, many of them loose enough to attract recreational consumers.... Chambers of Commerce and other business groups have long-opposed reform, based on workplace safety concerns.... But after 23 years of medical cannabis laws, we can check the data on workplace safety and see how the medical states have done.

"A 2018 study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy zeroes in how workplace fatality statistics changed when a state had access to legal cannabis. In the paper, 'Medical marijuana laws and workplace fatalities in the United States,' researchers ... analyzed data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia between 1992 and 2015.

"In states with legal cannabis, expected workplace fatalities went down by an average of 19.5% for workers who were 25 to 44 years old. This reduction in fatalities also grew stronger with time. In states that had medical cannabis laws for at least five years, researchers found a very large, 33.7% reduction for this age group’s workplace fatalities....

"Young adults particularly stand to benefit from legalization, in the form of decreased workplace deaths, the study found. While the study looked at all age groups, the 25 to 44 year-old group saw the declines. Workers who were ages 16 to 24, or 44 and above, saw no statistically significant changes in workplace deaths. D. Mark Anderson, Ph.D., one of the principal researchers on this project, says that this age-dependent result reflects the known effects of cannabis laws....

"But how does this work? Unfortunately, researchers still aren’t quite sure.... Anderson’s previous research concluded cannabis laws are associated with a 5% reduction in alcohol consumption. In one study, medical cannabis laws were associated with reductions in drinking and traffic fatalities in young adults. Drunk driving on the job is a major vector for workplace death....

"Medical cannabis laws are also associated with a 20 to 33% decrease in opioid deaths. This is particularly interesting, since Anderson’s workplace safety study found greater fatality reductions in states where ‘pain’ was a qualifying condition to receive cannabis....

"We may have to wait find out exactly how — but one thing is clear. The old worry that medical cannabis laws lead to increased accidents doesn’t hold water. Medical cannabis laws are associated with improved workplace safety."

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Saturday, June 1, 2019

Daily Beast wants to draft Amash 4 President

Justin Amash for President: A Change Conservatives Can Believe In - Matt Lewis, The Daily Beast:

May 29, 2019 - "As a conservative who has grave concerns about Donald Trump, I’ve arrived at an unavoidable conclusion: it’s time to draft Justin Amash for president....

"I’m not naïve enough to think he can win. I’m just looking for someone—anyone!—for whom I can, in good conscience, cast my vote.... There are no viable options currently available within the bounds of our binary, two-party system....

"Trump’s authoritarian tendencies, disrespect for the rule of law, and lack of civility and temperament make it impossible to back him. Even with his solid judicial nominees and tax cuts, how in good conscience can a principled conservative support four more years for this president?

"But it’s not like Democrats are that much better.... Trump is so bad, the argument goes, that conservatives should simply reject a political philosophy we’ve embraced for our entire lives and endorse people who are diametrically opposed to our core beliefs.... [I]f you are a principled conservative who cares deeply about enacting conservative public policy ... being complicit in advancing this agenda is a non-starter.

"Enter Justin Amash, a young libertarian-leaning Republican who uses social media to explain every vote he makes. Amash distinguished himself in the last several months — first by voting against the president’s bogus 'emergency order' regarding the border wall — and then by coming out in favor of impeachment. As Politico’s Tim Alberta has observed, 'Justin Amash is the most intellectually honest and consistent GOP member of Congress.'

"In response, Republicans have accused him of being an opportunist and an attention hog, which are absurd claims.... Amash has more to lose than to gain. His primary challenge from a Trump supporter back home in Michigan, coupled with his loss of financial support from the DeVos family, demonstrates how intellectual honesty comes at a price....

"I would certainly support him in a Republican primary, but the better move would be for Amash to run as a third-party candidate (possibly as a Libertarian, if he could win that party’s nomination). Doing so would once again allow people like me to participate in a general election without selling our souls in the process....

"So there you have it.... Justin Amash for president. I’m ready to sign up. The draft movement starts here. Let’s make it happen."

'via Blog this'