Suppose the current widespread longing for a 2012 presidential candidate who isn’t now in the race were met by a candidate with near-universal name-recognition, who is handsome and good enough on television to be a network anchorman. Suppose the candidate already had a reservoir of goodwill with the national news media, who consider him one of them.
Whether Tom Brokaw ends up as a third-party political candidate is anybody’s guess, writes Ira Stoll, but if there’s a case for the candidacy, it is to be found in Brokaw's new book, The Time of Our Lives: A Conversation About America, which takes on public sector workers, praises charter schools, and criticizes President Barack Obama for his decision “to concentrate instead on a massive and complex health care reform law troubled even his most ardent supporters.”View this article
Last week three dozen religious leaders took out a full-page ad in The New York Times that urges Village Voice Media, which owns the online classified ad service Backpage.com, to follow Craigslist's example by eliminating its "adult" section. In an open letter to Village Voice Media CEO Jim Larkin, the 36 rabbis, imams, and ministers, led by Auburn Theological Seminary President Katharine Rhodes Henderson, echo the demands of the 51 attorneys general who sent the company's lawyer a similar letter (PDF) in August:
It is a basic fact of the moral universe that girls and boys should not be sold for sex.
So we were surprised and stunned to realize your company...continues to publish an Adult section on its classifieds Web site Backpage.com that has been used as a platform for the trafficking of minors....We trust that your company shares our outrage over the sex trafficking of minors. While we empathize with your business challenges and the increasingly difficult marketplace in which Village Voice Media competes, we trust that you are committed to running your business without compromising the lives of our nation’s girls and boys.
Got that? If you help adults connect with adults for consensual sex, you are objectively in favor of raping children. "We agree with the attorney generals on the legal issues, but we are raising this as a moral issue," Henderson tells New York Times media columnist David Carr. "Even if one minor is sold for sex, it is one too many." By the same logic, the only morally acceptable course of action for manufacturers of cars, knives, and baseball bats is to go out of business, because otherwise their products inevitably will be used for nefarious ends, including the victimization of children.
But it is not really about the kids. "This is not just about children being prostituted," Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna tells Carr. "This is about human beings being trafficked into the sex trades, as adults and as children." In short, since McKenna and other Backpage.com detractors equate all prostitution with slavery, it is about exchanging sex for money. Although Backpage.com is not legally responsible for its customers' ads or subsequent actions, McKenna is right that such transactions are generally illegal. Whether they should be is another question, one that should interest Henderson et al., since they ostensibly are concerned about morality and not just legality. Is the use of force justified to prevent adults from engaging in consensual, mutually beneficial transactions that violate no one's rights? Assuming it is justified in principle, does it reduce or increase harm on balance, given all the ways in which prohibition makes this business less transparent and more dangerous? Moralizing bullies like Henderson should be addressing these issues instead of hiding behind children.
For most politicians, getting caught on camera downing shots of vodka and smoking weed while surrounded by scantily clad models would destroy their election hopes. For comedian Steve Berke, that's his campaign strategy to become mayor of Miami Beach, Fla.
Running as a member of what he calls the "After Party," he hopes to oust two-term incumbent Matti Herrera Bower, a Democrat who boasts the support of local firefighter and police unions. But Berke's campaign is no joke. He's been slinging mud as only a true politician can, and he even garnered the attention of The New York Times:
With the nonpartisan election on Tuesday, the mayor, Mr. Berke and two other candidates are hitting neighborhood meetings, mailing fliers and appealing to the paltry, mostly Hispanic, mostly older 7,000 or so voters who usually turn out for an off-year election. With so few votes at stake in a four-way race, an influx of new voters — gays, clubgoers, marijuana boosters — could easily skew the outcome or at least force a runoff.
The Times is also impressed by Berke's "pedigree" -- he graduated from Yale with a promising tennis career cut short by injury.
Berke's platform is largely libertarian-friendly (though his campaign website never explicitly identifies him as such), including limited measures to decriminalize marijuana, lowering property taxes, eliminating government corruption, reforming police and firefighter pension schemes, and allowing night clubs to stay open until 5 a.m.
Berke's campaign website is here.
Reason on local government here.
Not sure who to commit to in the Republican primary race? Let Reason help you out.
Picking a presidential candidate is like sorting through online dating profiles—nobody's quite right, but once a meet-cute is out of the question, the best you can hope for is to pick a mate out of a self-selected digital lineup. Today we’re focusing on Herman Cain. We’ve got his horoscope, his nick-name, and his positions on the major issues facing the country.
As Mike Riggs noted this morning, the Obama administration last Friday night finally got around to addressing the "We the People" online petitions urging repeal of marijuana prohibition. First it had to deal with the clamor for excising "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance (a cause that attracted 20,328 signatures) and removing the slogan "In God We Trust" from U.S. currency (12,273). By comparison, the eight petitions recommending some form of marijuana legalization totaled more than 150,000 (possibly overlapping) signatures; the most popular one, "Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol," by itself attracted more than 74,000. If you bother to read drug czar Gil Kerlikowske's embarrassingly weak response, you can see why the White House buried it in the weekend news graveyard:
Our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug's effects.
According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health—the world's largest source of drug abuse research—marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment. We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms. Studies also reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years...It is not a benign drug.
That's pretty much it for Kerlikowske's argument against legalization. Since people can become addicted to anything that gives them pleasure, that risk hardly makes the case for prohibition. If Kerlikowske truly were concerned about the respiratory effects of marijuana combustion products (a negligible risk for all but the heaviest pot smokers), he would recommend vaporizers, which release marijuana's active ingredients without burning it. And he would not go on to bemoan rising marijuana potency, since that trend makes pot safer by delivering more bang per puff, meaning smokers are exposed to fewer toxins. As for "cognitive impairment," Kerlikowske presumably is referring to marijuana's acute psychoactive effects, which most pot smokers consider a feature, not a bug. In any event, the fact that an activity is risky does not mean banning it is just, wise, or cost-effective. Notably missing from Kerlikowske's argument is any accounting of prohibition's costs and any suggestion of benefits that might outweigh them.
Kerlikowske does deviate from prohibitionist orthodoxy in one respect, acknowledging that marijuana has medical potential—something he himself was denying not too long ago. The administration's position, which Kerlikowske does not always state accurately, is that cannabinoids should be approved as medicine (as synthetic THC, in form of Marinol capsules, was back in 1985) if they are proven safe and effective through the usual (expensive and time-consuming) process but that smoking pot is not an appropriate way to treat any medical condition. That is pretty much par for the course at the FDA, which likes its drugs isolated and frowns on anything involving whole plant matter. But this attitude leaves no room for people to use marijuana as a self-help folk remedy, as they do with many other herbs that do not appear on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The justification for putting marijuana in that category—supposedly reserved for substances with "a high potential for abuse" and "no currently accepted medical use" that cannot be used safely even under medical supervision—is precisely what the marijuana petitioners are challenging.
Noting rising public support for lifting pot prohibition, which hit 50 percent in a recent Gallup poll, Andrew Sullivan regrets the administration's failure to "actually engage the salient arguments of legalizers." In an email message, Tom Angell of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition suggests the administration "dumped the response late on a Friday night hoping no one would notice" because "the White House is aware that their anti-legalization position is a political loser with the president's base (and beyond)." In the October issue of Reason, I analyze the ways Obama has disappointed supporters who hoped he would dial back the war in drugs. Among other things, I note that Obama's avowed commitment to sound science, which Kerlikowske parrots in his petition response, does not jibe with the administration's obstruction of cannabis research and its insistence, despite much evidence to the contrary, that the plant meets all the criteria for Schedule I.
If Time magazine isn't impressed by your would-be moral panic, you're doing it wrong. In LA County, a sheriff sent out a general call of alarm -- see, since marijuana-laced candy and treats exist, somebody might try to feed them to your children when they go trick or treating.
But Time.com soothes:
Like earlier warnings about razors in apples and other poisoned candy, there's no evidence that any such misdeed has ever occurred. Think about it for a moment: why would a presumed drug user or dealer waste expensive and often difficult to acquire drugs on children?
That's a really good question:
Marijuana brownies are being sold for $9 apiece, or $75 for 10, at a San Francisco dispensary, for example. A Colorado group reported selling them recently for $8 apiece. Compare that with the average cost of ordinary candy — several cents per piece. With folks typically giving out not more than $1 worth of loot per trick-or-treater, adding pot-laden snacks to the mix would rapidly make for one expensive trick in the Great Recession!
The L.A. Sheriff had also warned about this possibility last year, with no reports of any actual child victims.
Weirdly rational of you, Time. And bonus points for linking to numerous Snopes.com articles which defuse many of the classic Halloween horror stories.
Sure, it's possible that asshole would try to make a kid sick by giving them a weed lolly. But that's probably not going to happen.
Katherine Mangu-Ward on how your child's costume might kill them (according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission).
Update: Jesse Walker just pointed out the why of this strangely sensible Time.com article -- it was written by Reason contributor Maia Szalavitz.
Today's scene from the ongoing Christopher Buckley novel that is Herman Cain's presidential nomination campaign, via Business Insider. (Be sure to note the perfect slow zoom out by the C-SPAN cameraman):
Cain was speaking at the National Press Club to address Politico's report (noted in today's Morning Links) that two women complained about "sexually suggestive" behavior by Cain while he was the head of the National Restaurant Association. Cain admits the charges were made, but claims he was "falsely accused."*
*No scare quotes intended; the quotes are there because "falsely accused" is the phrase Cain used. Full quote as reported by Politico: "While at the restaurant association, I was accused of sexual harassment. Falsely accused, I might add. I was falsely accused of sexual harassment, and when the charges were brought, as the leader of the organization, I recused myself and allowed my general counsel and human resource officer to handle it.”
ABC News talks to a representative from the Libertarian Party and finds that Texas Republican Ron Paul, who ran as the Libertarian presidential candidate in 1988, would find a welcome home in the LP once again in 2012:
Paul, long a favorite of the Libertarian Party, is drawing enthusiastic support from its leaders, who are openly pushing him to consider a third party run for the White House.
“Absolutely, that would be fabulous,” said Jim Lesczynski, media relations director for the Manhattan Libertarian Party.
Lesczynski says his party agrees with Paul on most of the major issues, calling him an “ideal candidate.” He added that Paul will do better than he did four years ago, but ultimately thinks he will fail in his bid to gain the Republican nomination.
Would Paul do it? As The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire observes, when the subject came up in recent interviews, Paul did not entirely dismiss the idea:
Mr. Paul, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said no one has asked him to make a third-party run. “I have no plans whatsoever to do it,” Mr. Paul said.
He conceded that an independent run by one of the GOP candidates “would cause a little bit of a problem.” But the Texas congressman also said a third-party bid wouldn’t doom Republicans, citing John Anderson’s independent bid in the 1980 presidential election. “Ronald Reagan did quite well with Anderson in it,” he said.
During a Fox News appearance last week, Mr. Paul declined to make a firm pledge that he wouldn’t run on a third-party ticket. With a laugh, he offered this instead during the Fox interview: “I pledge that I have no intention of doing it.”
The primary difference between the Oil Cleanup X Challenge and the disastrous federal loan program that gave Solyndra over half a billion dollars is clear: The government program wasn’t based on results. It loaned money to the companies, like Solyndra, that had the most lobbying influence and best political connections. The oil cleanup contest awarded money for outcomes. It was an even playing field open to all comers. Companies didn’t compete through grant applications or lobbying. The best products won.
Some governments have started recognizing the merits of prizes over subsidies. In 2009, the governments of the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, Russia and Norway, together with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation committed $1.5 billion to buy vaccines for diseases that primarily affect people in poorer countries. The first company to develop an effective vaccine is rewarded with a prize in the form of large scale purchases of its vaccine. The push for this prize-like system came after conventional government subsidies for vaccine research failed.
Government shouldn’t be in the business of selecting winners and losers in business at all. But if it is going to attempt to drive “green” innovation, it should use prizes to reward actual results and minimize corruption and corporate welfare. Prizes could be used to increase energy efficiency, cost-effectively convert solar energy to electricity, waste reduction efforts, and drive advancements on any number of environmental issues. The type of crony capitalism that led taxpayers to waste over half-a-billion dollars on Solyndra needs to be eliminated. And rewarding proven success through prizes is a significantly better policy than subsidizing failure.
More Reason on Solyndra here.
"I know firsthand about welfare and welfare dependency because of my own life, living seven years in and out,” says Star Parker, founder and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE).
Parker, also a syndicated columnist, explains what she thinks are the actual steps out of poverty and why our government should have no role in welfare in America.
Started as part of the Lyndon Johnson's Great Society in the 1960s, the War on Poverty has been anything but effective, according to Parker. “This whole notion that we should even have a 'war on poverty' dismisses the fact that individuals have a role in their own lives,” she says.
Parker sat down with Reason.tv's Tracy Oppenheimer to talk about her own experiences with the welfare system, and how she wants to reform it, even beyond the historic changes to welfare in the 1990s.
About 8 minutes. Shot by Paul Detrick, Zach Weissmueller, and Sharif Matar; edited by Oppenheimer.
Visit Reason.tv for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube channel for automatic notifications when new material goes live.
Remember the Tea Party's Contract From America? This is the whole document, and here's a quick list of its 10 bullet points:
1) Protect the Constitution
2) Reject Cap & Trade
3) Demand a Balanced Budget
4) Enact Fundamental Tax Reform
5) Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government
6) End Runaway Government Spending
7) Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care
8) Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above' Energy Policy
9) Stop the Pork
10) Stop the Tax Hikes
Fans of numerical symmetry can rejoice that the old-skool Frisco webzine Salon has produced its own list of 10 recommendations, in a "New Declaration of Independence" for the 99 percent generation. Here are those demands, edited down heavily by moi:
1. Debt relief
We demand immediate relief for the 99 Percent, particularly the poor and young students and college graduates. The Debt Jubilee is an ancient idea, and an attractive one in an era of growing economic feudalism, as the poor increasingly devote all their labor to repaying the rich.
2. A substantial jobs program
A real, direct jobs program, done in the WPA style, would rebuild our cities and towns in addition to putting thousands of people back to work.
3. A healthcare public option
If a true single-payer system would be too disruptive, we can put the building blocks in place by giving people a public option. Expanding the pool of Medicare recipients to include healthy younger people paying into it would instantly improve the program’s fiscal outlook. Nationalizing the underfunded Medicaid system would instantly reduce the deplorable inequity of our healthcare system, too. If this new Medicare could negotiate drug prices — like the Veterans Administration, our wonderful, totally socialized healthcare program for one group of Americans — it would save even more. (Hey, why not combine the proposal with debt relief for young doctors?)
4. Reregulate Wall Street
Bring back Glass-Steagall. Pass the Volcker rule, too. Ban banks from trading derivatives. Limit their behavior and tax their earnings.
5. End the Global War on Terror and rein in the defense budget
[T]here’s no way the world’s sole remaining superpower can justify spending more than every other country on Earth combined on its military.
6. Repeal the Patriot Act
[L]et’s dismantle the expansive domestic surveillance state, hurriedly established at a panicky period of national crisis and then enshrined as permanent without a word of serious debate.
7. Tackle climate change
At the very least — and this is literally the very least the government should be doing right now to combat climate change — a price should be put on carbon emissions, either in the form of a direct tax or as part of a cap-and-trade scheme.
8. Stop locking everyone up for everything and end the drug war
Full legalization of marijuana would lead to many fewer people being jailed for victimless crimes and immediately destroy a critical income stream for gangs and increasingly violent drug cartels. Legalizing marijuana would also give states and cities a desperately needed infusion of tax revenue. (Legalization or decriminalization of other drugs would be similarly beneficial, but a good deal more controversial.) Those who commit nonviolent drug offenses should never be sent to prisons for years. Those currently in prison for nonviolent drug offenses should be freed and rehabilitated into society.
9. Full equality for the queer community
Gay marriage is a no-brainer — rights granted to a majority are being denied to a minority based on arguments founded solely on bigotry — and should be recognized nationwide. Let’s not forget, too, that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans are denied other rights, including, in most states, protection from workplace discrimination and housing discrimination.
10. Fix the tax system
[L]et’s create a millionaire’s tax bracket, and a financial transactions tax. Let’s close the carried interest tax loophole and raise the estate tax and taxes on capital gains. Let’s get the highest marginal tax rate back up to, at the least, Reagan-era levels.
Which list do you like better, o beloved Hit & Run commenters?
The United Nations has designated today as the day that the earth gets its seven billionth human inhabitant. The Census Bureau thinks that will happen next March. Let's take this ocassion to walk a bit down memory lane to The Population Bomb. In 1968, Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich's scaremongering book vividly put Malthusian fears at the forefront of the nascent environmentalist movement. Here are a few quotes from the 1968 edition (I always refer back to that edition because Ehrlich deleted many failed prophecies in later editions without noting that he had done so):
The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s the world will undergo famines - hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash program embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate….
In 1968, Ehrlich agreed with an expert who predicted India couldn't "possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980." Furthermore, he claimed, "I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks that India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971."
That latter statement was discreetly dropped in the 1971 edition of Ehrlich's book. In fact, by the 1980s, India was exporting surplus grain to the Soviet Union. While poverty means that many Indians today suffer hunger, the country is still self-sufficient [PDF] in food production.
In a 1969 article "Eco-Catastrophe" in Ramparts Magazine, Ehrlich predicted:
Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born....By  some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think that the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.
In 1970 for the first Earth Day issue of The Progressive, Ehrlich outlined a gruesome scenario in which 65 million Americans would die of famine out of worldwide total of four billion in the "Great Die-Off" of the 1980s.
In 1970 interview in Mademoiselle magazine, Ehrlich declared:
The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.
Despite the fact that the Great Die-Off failed to materialize, Ehrlich once again declared in his 1990 book, The Population Explosion:
One thing seems safe to predict: starvation and epidemic disease will raise the death rates over most of the planet.
None of Ehrlich's dire predictions or scenarios came true. Yet here Ehrlich is being quoted today in the Australian news program The World Today. Journalist Eleanor Hall interviewed Ehrlich:
ELEANOR HALL: But you did warn in your book that the battle to feed humanity had already been lost in the 1970s and that an expanding population would bring about a higher death rate. In fact the reverse ended up being true. Did you then …
PAUL EHRLICH: That is not correct. What we said was the battle to feed all humanity is over, and since we said that, 240 million people roughly have died of starvation. So in what sense was it wrong to say the battle to feed all of humanity was over?
ELEANOR HALL: You predicted it would bring about a higher death rate and it hasn't. I'm wondering did you then and do you still underestimate the human capacity for adapting to problems, for …
PAUL EHRLICH: I am very hopeful about the human capacity to adapt to problems. What I haven't seen is any sign, any real sign of that adaptation.
Not correct? Well, it is unfortunately true that far too many poor people have starved to death or died from diseases exacerbated by undernutrition, but the global famines Ehrlich clearly predicted did not occur. As for not seeing "any real sign of that adaptation" -- you've got to be kidding.
By the way, the world death rate was 13 per 1,000 when Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb. Every decade since it has fallen and is now 9 per 1,000 people.
From our November issue, Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey and World Bank economist Kirk Hamilton discuss why China is growing while the U.S. flirts with asset depreciation.View this article
A Houston-area sheriff's office is now the proud owner of an aerial drone, paid for—of course—with $300,000 in federal homeland security grant money.
And by homeland security, they mean "hunting criminals who are running from police," "assessing a scene where SWAT team officers are facing an active shooter," and "criminal investigations such as drug shipments."
The drone is not currently armed—and the sheriff's office has "no immediate plans" to upgrade—but the manufacturer says the mini-helicopter is designed to be fitted out with weapons of several kinds, including Tazer guns and a bean bag "baton."
Don't worry about your civl liberties, though:
"We're not going to use it to be invading somebody's privacy. It'll be used for situations we have with criminals," [Sheriff Tommy] Gage said
According to promotional claims by manufacturer Vanguard Defense Industries, the ShadowHawk is the drone equivalent of those Medicare-funded motorized wheelchairs you see advertised on TV. ("You won't pay a dime!") Just as with this Texas sheriff's office, a little finagling will pull in a federal grant to cover the whole cost—a process Vanguard is happy to help with.
One last quote about the new "security asset":
Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel said, "I'm tickled to death" about using the drone.
It's funny, see, because death.
Via Radley Balko.
In May, in corn-growing Iowa, Romney said, "I support" — present tense — "the subsidy of ethanol." And: "I believe ethanol is an important part of our energy solution for this country." But in October he told Iowans he is "a business guy," so as president he would review this bipartisan — the last Republican president was an ethanol enthusiast — folly. Romney said that he once favored (past tense) subsidies to get the ethanol industry "on its feet." (In the 19th century, Republican "business guys" justified high tariffs for protecting "infant industries"). But Romney added, "I've indicated I didn't think the subsidy had to go on forever." Ethanol subsidies expire in December, but "I might have looked at more of a decline over time" because of "the importance of ethanol as a domestic fuel." Besides, "ethanol is part of national security." However, "I don't want to say" I will propose new subsidies. Still, ethanol has "become an important source of amplifying our energy capacity." Anyway, ethanol should "continue to have prospects of growing its share of" transportation fuels. Got it?
Every day, 10,000 baby boomers become eligible for Social Security and Medicare, from which they will receive, on average, $1 million of benefits ($550,000 from the former, $450,000 from the latter). Who expects difficult reforms from Romney, whose twists on ethanol make a policy pretzel?
A straddle is not a political philosophy; it is what you do when you do not have one. It is what Romney did when he said that using Troubled Assets Relief Program funds for the General Motors and Chrysler bailouts "was the wrong source for that funding." Oh, so the source was the bailouts' defect. [...]
Has conservatism come so far, surmounting so many obstacles, to settle, at a moment of economic crisis, for this?
Let's just consider what Will has had to say about the other candidates on the right this year. In May, he said that Newt Gingrich just wasn't a serious candidate. He called Michele Bachmann a marginal candidate who was not among the serious contenders. He's criticized Rick Perry as part of an overall indictment of what he views as the GOP's mistaken reliance on Electoral Votes from the South. And, just two weeks, ago he dismissed Herman Cain as a candidate running a serious campaign. He hasn't said much about candidates like Santorum, Paul, Johnson, or Hunstman, but then none of them has a realistic shot at the nomination. In reality, despite what he says about Romney, it's hard to see someone like Will being all that enthusiastic about any of those candidates. One is reminded, in fact, of one of Will's This Week appearances when he said that the person taking the Oath of Office in 2013 would be Obama, Romney Mitch Daniels, or Tim Pawlenty. Well, Pawlenty dropped out, Daniels didn't run, and Obama is clearly unacceptable to the right. That leaves Mitt Romney. Will's point seems to be, well if you don't like him, who exactly are you going to nominate instead of him? The conclusion seems to be that if conservatives are dismayed at [a] world where Mitt Romney is the most viable Republican candidate for President, and he is, then they have nobody to blame but themselves.
Emphases in the original.
It might well be wishful thinking at play, but I'm not so sure either that Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) has no "realistic shot at the nomination," or that Will wouldn't locate some enthusiasm for Paul if he got closer. The "shot," while long, would work like this–the other Anyone But Mitts duly fall by the wayside, leaving a two-man race between a flip-flopping big government Ken doll and the only non-Gary Johnson running who has a government-cutting program appropriate to both the crisis at hand and the mood of the Tea Party right. It's been an unusually volatile political season; we'll see.
Currently the top-read story at USA Today is Penn Jillette's "10 Commandments for Atheism," a list he created and turned into the best-selling book God, No! after Glenn Beck asked him to come up with a list of moral dictates for non-believers. Here they are:
1. The highest ideals are human intelligence, creativity and love. Respect these above all.
2. Do not put things or even ideas above other human beings. (Let's scream at each other about Kindle versus iPad, solar versus nuclear, Republican versus Libertarian, Garth Brooks versus Sun Ra— but when your house is on fire, I'll be there to help.)
3. Say what you mean, even when talking to yourself. (What used to be an oath to (G)od is now quite simply respecting yourself.)
4. Put aside some time to rest and think. (If you're religious, that might be the Sabbath; if you're a Vegas magician, that'll be the day with the lowest grosses.)
5. Be there for your family. Love your parents, your partner, and your children. (Love is deeper than honor, and parents matter, but so do spouse and children.)
6. Respect and protect all human life. (Many believe that "Thou shalt not kill" only refers to people in the same tribe. I say it's all human life.)
7. Keep your promises. (If you can't be sexually exclusive to your spouse, don't make that deal.)
8. Don't steal. (This includes magic tricks and jokes — you know who you are!)
9. Don't lie. (You know, unless you're doing magic tricks and it's part of your job. Does that make it OK for politicians, too?)
10. Don't waste too much time wishing, hoping, and being envious; it'll make you bugnutty.
Reason.tv interviewed Penn recently. Check it out here, especially the sharp and wise opening line: "My whole take on libertarianism is simply that I don't know what's best for other people."
Mentions of, previous interviews with, and articles by Penn Jillette at Reason.com here.
- While president of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, Herman Cain was accused of sexually harassing at least two female employees, both of whom received settlements from the NRA.
- More than 500 NYPD cops across the city have been accused of expunging tickets and summonses as favors. Sixteen have been arrested.
- Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske has responded to an e-petitioner who asked President Obama to stop the war on pot. Snippet: "As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem. We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use."
- Anonymous threatens to unmask Mexican police officers working with cartels.
- The NYT dives into Gov. Rick Perry's criminal justice record: “He has done more good than any other governor we’ve ever had,” said Jeff L. Blackburn, chief counsel of the Innocence Project of Texas. "He approaches criminal justice issues like a lay person rather than like a prosecutor or judge, which makes him open-minded and willing to embarrass the system." Unless, of course, it involves the death penalty.
- How Occupy Wall Street protesters handle crimes (like rape) in the Zuccotti Park camp: “We don’t tell anyone. We handle it internally. I said too much already.”
- A new study suggests that "municipalities get worse ratings for the same expected default because they pay ratings agencies less."
New at Reason.tv: "Libertarians Without Borders: An Interview with Tom Palmer about the Arab Spring"
Republican candidates for president have been busy for weeks now, laboring strenuously to give the 2012 nomination to Mitt Romney. But as Steve Chapman observes, Romney keeps trying to give it back. The former Massachusetts governor should be running up the score every week. Instead, he keeps finding ways to keep his opponents in the game.View this article