At The Huffington Post, Stephen Menedian highlights the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, which the Supreme Court recently agreed to hear. At issue is the constitutionality of the university’s race-conscious admissions policies. As Menedian explains, when the Supreme Court last heard a case dealing with affirmative action in higher education, 2003’s Grutter v. Bollinger, perennial swing-vote Justice Anthony Kennedy dissented from the majority opinion which had upheld the University of Michigan Law School’s contested admissions policy. Menedian argues that given the Court's current make-up, this dissent by Kennedy “is a roadmap to the outcome in Fisher.” He writes:
In his dissenting opinion, Justice Kennedy agreed with Justice O'Connor that the proper rule for evaluating affirmative action derives from Justice Powell's opinion in the 1970s Bakke decision, an opinion had not enjoyed clear support of a majority of the Court until Grutter. In his opinion in Bakke, Justice Powell asserted that promoting diversity is a compelling government interest that would justify the use of race-conscious admissions. However, such a program must be narrowly tailored to safeguard the rights of innocent non-minority students. Therefore, it follows that Justice Kennedy, like Justice O'Connor, believes that promoting racial diversity is a compelling governmental interest, and would uphold any affirmative action program that is narrowly tailored. However, unlike Justice O'Connor, who voted to uphold the University of Michigan Law School's holistic admissions plan, Justice Kennedy did not believe that University of Michigan's diversity plan was narrowly tailored. In particular, Justice Kennedy cited the fact that the narrow fluctuation band of minority enrollment over the years "subverted individual determination." In addition, Justice Kennedy was concerned that the undue attention to the 'daily reports', which updated university admissions administrators on the number of minority applications accepted, undermined the individualized review throughout the entire admissions process.
Read the rest of Menedian’s article here.
It’s also worth noting that Kennedy has long been skeptical of race-based government classifications, and believes that such classifications always deserve strict scrutiny from the courts. Consider his dissent in the 1990 case of Metro Broadcasting v. F.C.C., which dealt with the government’s preferential licensing treatment for minority-owned stations. "Once the Government takes the step, which itself should be forbidden, of enacting into law the stereotypical assumption that the race of owners is linked to broadcast content,” Kennedy wrote, “it follows a path that becomes ever more torturous."
For more on the law and politics of affirmative action, check out Reason's previous coverage here.
- Diplomats say Iran is tidying up evidence of nuclear tests at a military facility. It's all very vague and satellite image-y. Meanwhile Obama is reviewing his options when it comes to intervention in Syria.
- Here are some things CBS thinks you should think about Super Tuesday.
- The iPad is a piece of technology people like and now there will be a third one available to buy on March 16!
- Jobs! Jobs! Jobity jobs! February saw 216,000 private sector workers added to this here U.S. economy.
- U.S. v. Jones leads to the FBI hastily turning off 3,000 tracking devices since warrantless GPS tracking might just violate the Fourth Amendment after all.
- Science has almost caught that sneaky "God particle." Also, stop calling it that.
Do you want hot links and other Reason goodies delivered to your inbox twice a day? Sign up here for Reason's morning and afternoon news updates.
I watched the video and it is a crude attempt to allegedly show how to circumvent TSA screening procedures.
For obvious security reasons, we can’t discuss our technology's detection capability in detail, however TSA conducts extensive testing of all screening technologies in the laboratory and at airports prior rolling them out the field. Imaging technology has been extremely effective in the field and has found things artfully concealed on passengers as large as a gun or nonmetallic weapons, on down to a tiny pill or tiny baggies of drugs. It’s one of the best tools available to detect metallic and non-metallic items, such as… you know… things that go BOOM.
With all that said, it is one layer of our 20 layers of security (Behavior Detection, Explosives Detection Canines, Federal Air Marshals, , etc.) and is not a machine that has all the tools we need in one handy device. We’ve never claimed it’s the end all be all.
Who knew that "tiny pills" and "tiny baggies of drugs" could make a plane "go BOOM"?
The video of the TSA's newest bête noir is below:
The Center for Inquiry held it's Moving Secularism Forward conference last week in Orlando. Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey reports back in this first dispatch about what organized atheism had to say about the ongoing legal battles over separation of government and religion, the bizarre case of anointing Florida roads to repel nonbelievers, treating sick children solely with prayer, and the challenge of the Evil God.View this article
As Nick Gillespie noted below, immigration policy is warped here in the U.S. But it's not just the fault of Republicans or that awfully Republican-like Barack Obama. Today's dose of U.S. immigration policy sure is broken and is breaking up lives comes from the the Associated Press. Their tale describes the lives of Ana and Agustin Portillo, a married couple who are stuck on either side of the Mexico-U.S. border, a life-limbo that has its origins in Clinton-era legislation.
Ana, a formerly illegal immigrant from El Salvador, is in Los Angeles where the couple lived together for twenty years. But Agustin, a Mexican immigrant, has been living in Tijuana for two years. Ana comes to visit him on the weekends. And if she wanted to, she could probably move to Tijuana and live with him (at least the crime rate is dropping!). They were separated because Agustin became ill and returned to Mexico for three months to visit with his sisters and nephews in case it was his last chance to do so. Sneaking back into the U.S. was not as easy when he tried to come home. And since he has twice already been caught illegally crossing into the U.S., he's afraid of being permanently barred from entry.
Agustin is unskilled and he doesn't even seem to know what country he wants to live in! He's not exactly putting ont he red, white, and blue shirt and committing to America First. Except that that's the whole point of the absurdity of this system; to cross a border, especially when you have family on both sides, should be easier than this.
And in spite of their status as a ready-made wacky plot point for sitcoms, green card marriages are not as easy to pull of as portrayed. In 1996, Clinton signed immigration legislation that punished immigration violaters more harshly than previously. This included barring people who stayed illegally in the U.S. for more than 180 days from coming back for three years; people who illegally stay for more than a year are barred for a decade.
Under the law, the immigrant and their spouse must file a visa petition and attend an interview with a U.S. Consulate in their native land. There, the undocumented immigrant learns they are ineligible to live in the United States because they entered the country illegally or illegally overstayed a tourist visa....
This is the category Agustin likely falls in. He isn't certain. For years, he has been too terrified too apply for a visa, fearful that the application would cause him more trouble than good.
The law does allow for some exceptions. The couples can apply for an extreme hardship waiver to avoid the ban. For example, a terminally ill husband might argue that he needs his immigrant wife to care for him and he can't move to her native country because it has inadequate health care.
But the law does not define extreme hardship and case law suggests the government does not consider factors such as children or the potential earning losses of the spouse moving to the immigrant's home country.
In all, the State Department barred 22,000 people from re-entering the country for up to 10 years in 2010, up from roughly 13,000 in 2006. Nearly 19,000 people eventually received waivers allowing them to avoid the multi-year ban last year.
CBS News points to an immigration lawyer who believes 3.4 million immigrants are in Agustin's boat. They might qualify for the hardship waiver, but they are afraid of drawing attention to themselves and being banned from the U.S. so they don't apply.
Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Jonah Lehrer suggests a weight loss drug that may soon be approved by the Food and Drug Administration should cause us to rethink conventional wisdom about why people overeat. Qnexa, which in clinical trials helped subjects lose about one-tenth of their weight on average, combines an appetite-suppressing stimulant with "an anticonvulsant shown to reduce cravings for binge-eaters." Lehrer says it seems to work partly by increasing "activity in the dopamine reward pathway," which "allows dieters to squeeze more satisfaction from every bite." That explanation is consistent with a recent Oregon Research Institute brain-scan study that found teenagers who reported eating the most ice cream showed the least dopamine response when viewing and sipping milkshakes. "This suggests that they were eating more in desperate compensation, trying to make up for their indifferent dopamine neurons," Lehrer writes. "People crave pleasure, and they don't stop until they get their fill, even if means consuming the entire pint of Häagen-Dazs." He says one lesson for dieters is that "it's important to seek pleasure from many sources," since "people quickly adapt to the pleasure of any single food."
This theory that overeaters have "hypofunctioning reward circuits" sounds plausible, although the evidence for it so far seems skimpy. But notice that it contradicts the advice commonly heard from anti-obesity crusaders such as Kelly Brownell and David Kessler, who say the problem is that food is too delicious and too varied. Rats who eat their fill of one food, they note, will begin chowing down again if given something different. Hence variety is the dieter's enemy—not, as Lehrer suggests, his friend.
These clashing perspectives are reflected in the perennial conflict between two dieting dicta: 1) avoid temptation and 2) don't make yourself feel deprived. There is some truth to both views. Sometimes I eat more just because something tastes so good, or because a new item has been introduced and I want to try it. But sometimes I will continue eating after a bland meal even though I am not really hungry, just to make up for the disappointing culinary experience. Eating is a complex behavior, and there is unlikely to be one explanation of it even for a single individual, let alone for people in general (assuming there is such a thing). That is yet another reason to be wary of government-imposed, one-size-fits-all solutions.
Back in 1998, I considered two dueling studies of smoking, one of which posited that people who get more pleasure per puff will be less addicted to the habit; the other said the opposite.
It's not enough that Republican presidential hopefuls are peddling fantasies about making things so bad in the United States that illegal immigrants will "self-deport." Now the anti-immigration and population control advocacy group Federation for American Immigration Reform is running a disturbing new video spot that targets legal immigration. See below.
This is classic us-against-them fearmongering and an appeal to basest of tribal instincts. See Reason's October 2008 issue for several insightful articles on the manifold horrors of our immigration bureaucracy. Go here for a list of Reason's extensive coverage of the insanity of our immigration laws.
Mitt Romney has given speeches posed in front of giant banners that say "Cut The Spending." He has a entire page devoted on his website devoted to spending cuts.
Yet when it comes to defense spending, Romney won't abide by any cuts. Quite the opposite. Not only has he promised to reverse military spending reductions enacted under President Obama, Romney has insisited that there should actually be a floor on defense spending—a requirement that the country spend a minimum of four percent of the country's entire economy output on defense.
Maybe he thought printing up engraved invitations to military contractors asking them to send in their proposals for defense pork was a little too obvious?
Romney makes his position on defense spending sound like he'd merely be making up for what he calls Obama's "failure" on the defense budget by reversing the reductions that occured under the president's watch. In fact, Romney's military spending minimum would actually represent a substantial hike in defense spending over the next decade compared to either the White House's baseline or the slightly reduced path called for by the budget sequester that came out of last year's debt deal.
The Cato Institute's Christopher Preble has put together a graph comparing the projected Pentagon budget under the three scenarios: the White House Office of Management and Budget's proposal, the sequester, and Romney's minimum. Here's how it looks:
Preble wonders where Romney will "get the money to fund his Pentagon spending binge." Good luck figuring that one out. As I noted earlier today, Romney has also promised to balance the budget through a variety of unspecified cuts and other vague gimmicks. Given that the rest of his policy platforms have all the clarity and believability of intentionally blurred Bigfoot photos, I suspect that straightforward answer to Preble's query will not be forthcoming.
Somewhere, Ron Swanson is smiling.
California's Department of Parks and Recreation needs to cut $22 million in the fiscal year 2012/2013. So to plug this budget shortfall, the Golden State is closing some of its state parks. There are currently 278 state parks in California. But after July 1, 2012, 70 of them will no longer be financed by the state. Ruth Coleman, director of California's state parks system, outlines the doomsday scenario:
Our expectation in most cases is that we will have closed the bathrooms and locked them, closed any buildings and locked them, removed trash cans, so all services will be removed. We will have staff that drive periodically. But there won't be any services. So if you go into that park, you're in essence doing it at your own risk.
However, voters are opposed to raising taxes. In 2010, Californians rejected Proposition 21, which would have increased license fees on vehicles by $18. This would have raised $500 million that could have only been spent on parks and wildlife conservation in California. Yet the editorial boards of the Los Angeles Times and the San Franciso Chronicle (hardly bastions of fiscal conservatism) both criticized the measure. The Times criticized using the proposed revenues for parks, rather than health care or schools, while the Chronicle was worried that the fee "hits low-income drivers harder than others." In the end, Prop 21 lost by 14 points, 57-43 percent.
Of course, these budgetary problems could be avoided if the state parks were operated by private owners. Owners could charge visitors a reasonable price to enjoy the parks, which would incentivize conservation and quality service. Meanwhile, taxpayers would not be coerced to pay for something they do not want to fund, as seen by their rejection of Prop 21.
The Christian Science Monitor is, in many respects, a good newspaper. It has a large team of stellar reporters who know how to get scoops, knows the value of breaking news online, and, contrary to its name, is largely independent of the First Church of Christ, Scientist (save for the one religious article it has run, in honor of founder Mary Baker Eddy, every day since 1908). On the CSM’s About page, where it explains its independence from the church Eddy also founded, the editors write, “The idea is that the unblemished truth is freeing (as a fundamental human right); with it, citizens can make informed decisions and take intelligent action, for themselves and for society.”
Considering all this, it is very odd that the Monitor's editorial board has not been deposed for the nonsense it writes about drug-law reform.
In 2010, the paper’s board ran an editorial titled, “Time to again mobilize against marijuana,” in which the writers made the case that casual use of marijuana “can lead to dependency, distort perception, and impair coordination, learning, and memory,” and that chronic use has been “linked” to schizophrenia, and suicide. The editorial also misrepresented a RAND study that said marijuana legalization won’t completely destroy the cartels. (Not now, it won’t. But it would sure as hell reduce their profit margins.) In its conclusion, the 2010 Monitor editorial took the rather slimy course of suggesting that Obama was not just a bad president, but a bad father for not doing more to oppose marijuana legalization efforts:
Barack Obama is widely respected as a family man. His two girls are on the way to teenhood. One in 6 people who start using marijuana as an adolescent becomes addicted. Is he going to simply tell his daughters that, yes, he smoked pot and, well, he hopes they survive the experience if they follow his example?
Or will the president successfully articulate a message – one that helps parents and other caring adults talk to today’s youth – by telling his children that rejecting marijuana isn’t about his past use, it’s about their future. It’s about their safety, their clarity of thought, their happiness independent of a drug.
The culture of pot acceptance must be reversed in America. It was turned back after 1979, and that can happen again. But the drug czar can’t do it alone. We need the man at the top, and all of the relevant administration players, saying the same thing, and saying it often. What’s good for the president’s children is good for the country. He must tell us so.
Two years later, the editors of the Monitor have outdone their previous efforts—here they are cheering on dispensary crackdowns; here they are praising the DEA as arbiters of morality and reason—this time by suggesting that Obama is being a bad president for doing more to dissuade legalization efforts abroad than he is in Colorado and Washington state:
During his visit to Central America, Mr. Biden seemed sympathetic to the region’s frustration with drug cartels and their violence. He said a debate over legalization is understandable “in societies that don’t have the institutional framework and the structure to deal with organized, illicit operations.”
Did the vice president mean to imply that the United States does have the “institutional framework” to deal with illicit drug sales? If so, why does marijuana use only rise?
The administration needs to step up and make a strong case against legalization in the US in order to counter a well-financed, well-organized pro-marijuana effort. One argument is that the cartels would actually welcome legalization, in the same way that US casino owners have welcomed state gambling lotteries. To drug dealers, the more addicts the better.
Biden did say a debate in Latin America about legalization would help “lay to rest some of the myths that are associated with the notion of legalization.”
How about he and Obama start to challenge those myths in states like Colorado and Washington?
This is nothing short of vile. Not only is Biden wrong about the effects of ending prohibition (Portugal has experienced lower addiction rates since decriminalizing all drugs), but there is zero evidence that cartels want legalization. In fact, it’s more likely they—and the politicians they've captured—hate the idea. Prohibition has made Mexico’s drug lords insanely wealthy, won countless PRI campaigns, and lined the pockets of politicians and cops on both sides of the border. Full-on legalization across the Americas would cause pot prices to plummet, and diminish the slush funds that finance the cartels' savagery and corruption.
As for the paper's claim to editorial indepence: The Monitor editorial board’s thinking is not just wrong-headed, but mirrors its parent organization's willingness to cite all manner of specters in order to keep from openly espousing its quackish pre-Enlightenment views on medicine and science. The myth, then, is not that repealing marijuana prohibition will save lives and money, but that the editors of the Christian Science Monitor, which was founded by an anti-science charlatan, are in any way qualified to opine about public health.
D.C. city councilman Jack Evans is tired of waiting for his money. The chairman of the city's finance and revenue committee says new regulations on food trucks have been pending for too long, and he's ready to get down to the business of extracting cash from the burgeoning crop of food trucks cruising the city with tacos, kebabs, and BBQ in tow. Evans eloquently explained his position to The Washington Post:
“My position is, if I give you enough time and if you don’t do it, [expletive] you, I’m going to move ahead and put the tax in place,” Evans said. “That’s how I operate. People know that’s how I operate.”
The bill Evans pushed out last week, a revision of the Vendor Sales Tax Collection and Remittance Act of 2011, would apply the extra 10 percent tax tacked onto checks by bricks-and-mortar restaurants to food trucks as well, and set a minimum tax payment for all vendors. So why the hustle?
“They could have easily fixed [the licensing problem], but they choose not to,” says Josh Saltzman, co-owner of the PORC truck and its forthcoming spin-off restaurant in Columbia Heights. “But they don’t care about fixing the code and making it fair for all businesses. They care about getting retribution for businesses that have a problem with food trucks.”
The tax would kick in on October 1, and most food truckers say they don't mind paying their fair share. But they object that without regulatory clarity, their tax burden could wind up being double or triple the intent, depending on how the tax rules are enforced.
Vermont was the highlight* of Ron Paul’s otherwise disappointing Super Tuesday.
He went from 6.6 percent of the vote and no delegates in 2008 to 25 percent of the vote and 4 delegates in 2012, a major improvement when you realize his official campaign did very little in the state other than run a smattering of radio and TV ads. From phone banking to voter identification to canvassing, the Paul operation in Vermont was run almost entirely by his supporters. Unlike Alaska, North Dakota, Idaho, and Virginia, Paul never set foot in the Green Mountain state yet still managed to improve his result more there than anywhere else.
This morning I received an email from one of the main Paul organizers in Vermont, Steven Howard, with this nugget:
We had three goals besides winning: 1) Keep Mitt below 50%. Accomplished. 2) Get Ron Paul above the 20% threshold to get at least one delegate. Accomplished. 3) Finish ahead of Rick Santorum. Accomplished.
To recap: Paul’s biggest success on Super Tuesday came in a state that he never visited and that his campaign never formally organized in.
*Yes, I know Paul killed it in Virginia but that was an anomaly as the only other guy on the ballot was Mitt Romney.
As mentioned here last week, controversial libertarian philanthropists Charles and David Koch are suing the country's largest libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute, in a dispute over ownership shares. Cato President Ed Crane, who is one of the defendants, has described the suit as an attempted "hostile takeover," an "effort by the Kochs to turn the Cato Institute into some sort of auxiliary for the G.O.P"; the Kochs counter that they intend no such takeover and are instead fighting for the sanctity of contract and rule of law.
The case has brought forth a torrent of commentary in and around the libertarian universe (the best distillation/compilation of which can be found at Skip Oliva's constantly updating blog). Before linking to some of that I'll list here some factual advances of the story since last week.
The New York Times Tuesday reported more on the "personal acrimony" between Crane and the Kochs:
Mr. Crane, the Cato president, was once close to Charles Koch, sharing libertarian beliefs and traveling with him to China and the Soviet Union as they joined to form Cato in the mid-1970s, officials said. But the two had a falling out, and the Kochs tried to have Mr. Crane removed as president some years ago, the officials said.
Exacerbating tensions was an article in 2010 in The New Yorker magazine, in which an unnamed Cato Institute official was quoted comparing Charles Koch and his "market-based management" philosophies to an "emperor" with no clothes. The quote was said to infuriate Mr. Koch.
Charles and David Koch have rarely attended Cato board meetings in recent years, and Cato officials have rarely been invited to the family's regular galas for influential conservatives. As the relationship with the institute has deteriorated, their donations have declined as well.
Since Cato was formed, the Kochs have donated about $30 million, officials said, but the bulk came in its first decade; by last year, the Kochs gave no money at all.
Last year, they used their shares to place two of their operatives – Kevin Gentry and Nancy Pfotenhauer – on our board against the wishes of every single board member save for David Koch. Last Thursday, they used their shares to force another four new board members on us (the most that their shares would allow at any given meeting); Charles Koch, Ted Olson (hired council for Koch Industries), Preston Marshall (the largest shareholder of Koch Industries save for Charles and David), and Andrew Napolitano (a frequent speaker at Koch-sponsored events). Those four – who had not previously been involved with Cato either financially or organizationally – were likewise opposed by every member of our board save for Gentry, Pfotenhauer, and David Koch. To make room for these Koch operatives, we were forced to remove four long-time, active board members, two of whom were our biggest donors. At this moment, the Kochs now control seven of our 16 board seats, two short of outright control.
Cato Board Chairman Bob Levy gave an updated list of board members to an inquiring Skip Oliva, who determined that the four ousted board members were John C. Malone, Lewis Randall, Donald G. Smith and William Dunn, the latter of whom sits on the Reason Foundation's Board of Trustees (as does David Koch), and was until recently our board chairman. As you may expect, various employees of Reason (including me) have various professional and personal relationships with most of the people under discussion on both sides of the dispute; many of my hyperlinks under people's names in this post are to their Reason archive.
In early November, David Koch met with Bob Levy, chairman of Cato's board of directors, at Dulles International Airport. They were joined by Richard Fink, Koch's chief adviser, and Kevin Gentry, a vice president of Charles Koch's charitable foundation who'd been put on Cato's board of directors. (Former Americans for Prosperity President Nancy Pfotenhauer had joined the board after the same meeting.)
"They said that a principle goal was to defeat Barack Obama," remembered Levy. "The way David [Koch] put it was, 'We would like you to provide intellectual ammunition that we can then use at Americans for Prosperity and our allied organizations.' AFP and others would apply Cato's work to advance their electoral goals."
Levy asked them: "What gives you the impression that [Cato isn't] providing intellectual ammunition?" He says now: "I never got a satisfactory answer. The only answer that makes sense was that Cato needed to be more responsive to their needs. We would take closer marching orders. That's totally contrary to what we perceive the function of Cato be."
More in this vein from Jerry Taylor:
Just before the last shareholders meeting, the Koch brothers also nominated –but were unable to elect – eight additional individuals for our board. Those nominees included the executive vice president of Koch Industries, a staff lawyer for Koch Industries, a staff lawyer for the Charles Koch Foundation, a former Director of Federal Affairs for Koch Industries, a former Executive Director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (and who was, incidentally, a McCain bundler), and a lifelong Wichita friend of Charles Koch. Aside from those functionaries, they also nominated a couple of people with public profiles that make the jaw drop:
* John Hinderaker of the Powerline blog, whose firm counts Koch Industries as a client. Hinderaker has written, "It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile." Hinderaker supports the Patriot Act and the Iraq War and calls himself a neocon.
* Tony Woodlief, who has been president of two Koch-created nonprofits and vice president of the Charles Koch Foundation. Woodlief has blogged about "the rotten heart of libertarianism," calling it "a flawed and failed religion posing as a philosophy of governance" while complaining about libertarians "toking up" at political meetings.
Woodlief responds in part here:
I don't know much about this Cato business. I do of course know Koch. I know people there well enough to find laughable the notion that they are somehow opposed to liberty, or that they could ever imagine Cato is essential to some secret partisan or corporate agenda and must therefore be taken over.
And like everyone, I know about Cato. I know many people smarter than me who work there, and I appreciate very much their efforts for decades to make mainstream many valuable ideas that once would have been relegated to the fringe. I don't agree with all of them, and I think libertarianism, to be an intellectually cohesive philosophy, needs critique and work. Fortunately, I've always found the people I know who work for Cato to welcome the kind of spirited debate that tends to make idea-generating organizations healthier.
But I suppose right now the point is to circle the wagons, craft a narrative of conspiracy, and paint whatever side one is not on as intransigent and small-minded. None of which will have any bearing on the final legal decisions, but all of which is to the great delight of those who despise liberty and would love to see Cato torn down.
And Woodlief has a more substantive post about the case here.
Former Catoite Will Wilkinson, while saying "it seems clear enough that the Kochs are trying to take over by stacking the board," pronounced the "hand-wringing" over its new members to be "overwrought":
It's worth noting that David Koch has been on the Cato board for years, the whole time I was employed there and more, and I don't remember anyone once suggesting he was an ideological or strategic danger to Cato's mission. But suddenly he's an existential threat! Cato and Cato's chairman Bob Levy didn't seem to have a huge problem with Ted Olson, a Solicitor General under G.W. Bush, when he was at Cato arguing for gay marriage on constitutional grounds. Andrew Napolitano is a stout libertarian who put a ton of Cato guys on Freedom Watch, his recently cancelled show on Fox Business. Cato executive VP David Boaz seems to get along pretty well, ideologically and otherwise, with Napolitano in this recent clip. Nancy Pfotenhauer, a former G.W. Bush and John McCain campaign operative, strikes me as a classic right-leaning fusionist, of which there are not a few at Cato. That she was married for a while to Cato senior fellow Dan Mitchell I think suggests that she does not inhabit an ideological/institutional universe foreign to Cato, as does the fact that the Independent Women's Forum, of which Pfotenhauer was for years the president, is currently run by Cato alum Carrie Lukas. Kevin Gentry is a hard-core Virginia Republican Party operative with whom I worked back when I was at the Institute for Humane Studies and the Mercatus Center. He's a fundraiser. [...]
The way Cato has so eagerly jumped on the Koch-bashing bandwagon in its hour of crisis strikes me as both transparently opportunistic and damaging to the broader libertarian movement. Charles Koch is the chairman of the board at the Institute for Humane Studies which as far as I can see has not become a whit less libertarian in orientation over the past several years. When I worked there, Charles Koch was also chairman of the Mercatus Center's board and he's on the board currently (but I can't tell from the Mercatus website who the chair is, if they have one.) A number of Mercatus' policy staff once worked at Cato and they don't seem to have changed their ideological orientation at all. Is Cato's management now arguing that Mercatus' scholars labor under a cloud of partisanship which threatens the independence and integrity of their work? Is Cato's management arguing that IHS's libertarian principles are now suddenly threatened by Charles Koch's money and leadership? Cato has worked closely with IHS for decades, and has long been a proud host each summer of a number of IHS Charles G. Koch Summer Fellows. Cato's worries about Charles Koch's baleful un-libertarian influence are completely new to me! That CGK is a partisan threat to an independent libertarian perspective is now a very popular idea at Cato that coincides exactly and suspiciously with the onset of CGK's attempt to capture control of the institution he co-founded.
Most libertarian commentary on the matter has been much more pro-Cato/Crane and anti-Koch than Wilkinson's piece. Cato staffers (UPDATE: Former Cato staffers, I have been corrected) have formed a popular Save Cato Facebook page, complete with list of bullet points; and there have been a variety of lengthy essays on the subject, from the likes of Cato Executive Vice President David Boaz, (Reason.com columnist) Gene Healy, (former Reasoner) Julian Sanchez, (former Reason intern) Jonathan Blanks, Jason Kuznicki, and Justin Logan. Other broadly sympathetic sentiments have come from Reason.com columnist Steve Chapman, Don Boudreaux, Ilya Somin, Charles Rowley, and many others. There has been a smattering of ambivalence or skepticism about Cato's legal/moral case, from the likes of Arnold Kling, Jonah Goldberg, Erick Erickson, Ted Frank (link is currently not working), and Jeff Bercovici. Haunting this whole discussion, obviously, is the ghost of Murray Rothbard.
How do the Kochs explain their actions? Here's an excerpt from a letter that the Charles G. Koch Foundation sent to various alumni earlier this week:
Charles Koch and David Koch went to great lengths to avoid this dispute. Their efforts were numerous, sincere, and went literally up to the last minute.
The disagreement over the shareholders' agreement has been going on for years with Charles Koch and David Koch receiving several proposals from Cato's officers to dissolve the agreement. Charles and David consistently declined these proposals because they feel the shareholder structure is important to preserve donor intent. At the unfortunate passing of one of the four shareholders, Bill Niskanen, some issues came to the forefront with discussions about how his shares should rightfully be disposed.
Charles Koch and David Koch, mindful of how this dispute could be a distraction to Cato and its mission at this critical time, sought to resolve the issue, or alternatively, to table the issue for a year or longer.
* They proposed a standstill agreement to delay any discussion on the shareholders agreement, and to delay any shareholder meetings and maintain the current board of directors for one year or longer.
* They proposed third party mediation.
* They proposed alternative corporate structures for the other side to consider.
All of these efforts were rejected, and Cato's other shareholder [Ed Crane] demanded that a shareholders' meeting be held on March 1 where a new party (Ms. Washburn — Bill Niskanen's widow) would be named a shareholder and new directors would be named.
The court action, filed immediately before the shareholders' meeting, was a last resort to ask the court for help in confirming the meaning of the governing documents and the shareholders' agreement.
What about the alleged hostile political takeover of Cato?
Charles and David are absolutely committed to libertarian principles and the libertarian issues Cato works on. They merely want the integrity of the shares, the original structure that all parties agreed to, upheld and for Cato's officers and directors to act in a manner consistent with the principles the organization was founded on. As you know, a key principle of libertarianism is recognizing and respecting the rule of law. The founders of the Cato Institute reached an agreement and are bound by it. And that is what Charles Koch and David Koch are seeking here — that the parties stand by what they voluntarily agreed to when they founded Cato.
When former President George Bush said, "I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system," we all know how disastrous the consequences were for free markets and the economy. Principles are not what you abandon in difficult times. Rather they serve as the foundation for action in challenging times. And like President Bush, if Cato's leaders are willing to abandon a key libertarian principles—adhering to voluntary agreements—when they feel it's convenient, the organization has lost its way as an advocate of these principles. Cato can't save libertarian principles by its leaders abandoning its principles any more than President Bush could save the free market by abandoning free market principles.
Charles Koch and David Koch believe in Cato, its mission, and its principles. As champions of the rule of law, voluntary agreements, and property rights, Charles and David believe that upholding the shareholder agreement is crucial to protecting Cato's principled mission in the future from the path of the Ford Foundation, Pew, and others that have strayed when they deviated from their founding principles.
The Kochs and Ed Crane (and many of Ed Crane's employees) seem headed for a massive fork in the road. Skip Oliva has some very preliminary thoughts about what a post-divorce post-Cato might look like, but regardless of the speculative future, the present looks to be contentious and painful. Bob Levy is telling reporters that some of Cato's biggest donors have declared that "we will not give a single dollar until we know the Kochs do not have more of a say over Cato." Expect plenty of such talk, and escalating recriminations, long before the first day in court.
On Monday nine state attorneys general, all of them Republicans, issued a memo that lists "21 illegal actions" by the Obama administration. "This president and his administration, in my view, represent the greatest set of lawbreakers that have run the federal government in our lifetimes," Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said at a press conference. "The fact is, President Obama and his appointees have ignored federal laws, they've ignored binding rulings of federal courts, and they've ignored the limits on their power mandated by the Constitution." Cuccinelli and his colleagues call themselves "the last line of defense against an increasingly overreaching federal government." Too bad this line of defense is so leaky and so contingent on partisan politics.
Cuccinelli et al.'s list of "Obama Administration Violations" includes the individual health insurance mandate, the regulation requiring employers to provide medical coverage that includes contraceptives, the FCC's "net neutrality" initiative, various questionable actions by the EPA and other regulatory agencies, and federal challenges to state laws dealing with voting, immigration, and union organizing. The legal case against many of these federal actions is strong, though not always the slam-dunk that the nine attorneys general imply. But the list conspicuously omits illegal or unconstitutional policies in which both Obama and his predecessor are implicated, such as the automaker bailouts (begun as an illegal use of TARP money under George W. Bush, continued under Obama with the added twist of rewriting bankruptcy law on the fly), warrantless surveillance of communications involving people in the United States (begun illegally under Bush, now authorized by legislation Obama supported, but still a Fourth Amendment problem), indefinite detention of terrorism suspects (begun under Bush, continued under Obama), summary execution of terrorism suspects in other countries (contemplated by Bush, practiced and publicly defended by Obama), the FCC's unconstitutional indecency regulations (enforced under Bush and Obama), unauthorized wars (actually more of a problem under Obama than Bush, but Republicans want to preserve military lattitude for their guys), and interference with state laws allowing the medical use of marijuana (meddling that was approved during the Bush adminstration by Gonzales v. Raich, which endorsed the absurdly broad reading of the Commerce Clause that is now used to defend ObamaCare). Cuccinelli is a leading opponent of the theory that failing to buy government-prescribed health insurance is interstate commerce, but he seems to have no problem with the idea that a marijuana plant on a cancer patient's windowsill is. And that's leaving aside all the myriad things the federal government does, from regulating education to launching spacecraft, with the approval of both major parties but without constitutional authority. If Cuccinelli and his friends were serious about resisting "an increasingly overreaching federal government," they would not be so selective in their indictment of Obama.
[via The Examiner]
After last night’s Super Tuesday victories, Mitt Romney’s longstanding lead in the GOP primary looks increasingly solid. His policy plans, however, are as flimsy as ever. Indeed, exploring his economic policy proposals is rather like touring a Hollywood backlot. Like a street façade on a movie set, Romney’s economic plans are designed to project an outward appearance of functionality. But when you look behind their cleverly made-up fronts, there’s nothing to see. Romney’s policy offerings on taxes, spending, and entitlements consistently lack crucial structural details. Associate Editor Peter Suderman argues that his campaign seems intent on emulating the outward appearance of policy proposals without providing anything that’s actually workable.View this article
The decision in the Supreme Court case Sackett v. EPA, due later this spring, could very well affect the meaning of property rights and due process in the United States. So how did a small-town couple from Northern Idaho ever become the center of such a momentous case? Reason.tv talked with the Sacketts and their attorney to find out.
Mike Sackett dreamed of building a home on Idaho's Priest Lake ever since he camped there with friends in high school.
"I remember coming home, told my mom and dad that I was going to move to Priest Lake, and they just said, 'Oh, no you're not.' And I said, 'Oh yeah. Yeah I am,'" Sackett said.
Years later, Sackett realized that dream when he and his wife, Chantelle Sackett, bought a plot of land near Priest Lake and started to build. After securing the necessary permits from local authorities, the Sacketts were only three days into the process of clearing the land when officials from the EPA showed up and put their dreams on hold.
The EPA informed the Sacketts that they suspected they were building on wetlands and had to cease work immediately. The Sacketts were stunned because their property was a completely landlocked lot within an existing subdivision. When Chantelle Sackett asked for evidence, the EPA pointed her to the National Fish and Wildlife Wetlands Inventory, which showed them that their lot... was not on an existing wetland.
The EPA responded issued what's known as a compliance order, which said that the Sacketts were in violation of the Clean Water Act and subject to fines of up to $37,500 a day.
"You go to bed with that on your mind every night," said Mike Sackett, who owns a contracting company. "It's been painful personally. It's been painful on our business."
The EPA refused to offer any documentation or evidence for its position, even after the Sacketts hired their own scientists to refute the wetlands claim. Feeling they had no other choice, they tried to take the EPA to court. Unfortuna
tely, not even this was an option, because the EPA maintained that a compliance order is nothing more than a warning and that they cannot be challenged until they actually enforce the fines, which were racking up by the day.
"The only way the Sacketts could get judicial review that way, was by ignoring the compliance order," said Damien Schiff, attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, which took up the Sacketts' case. "EPA still might just sit on its hands and let the possible fines pile up."
Schiff and the Pacific Legal Foundation lost to the EPA in lower courts, but this afforded them the opportunity to take the case to the Supreme Court, which heard arguments in early January 2012. Schiff and the Sacketts both felt heartened by what transpired there.
"I was surprised by some of the questions that came from the justices," said Mike Sackett. "They were questions that we would've asked."
If the Sacketts do win in the Supreme Court, they will then have the opportunity to actually challenge the EPA's compliance order in the lower courts. Just having the opportunity to challenge that, says Schiff, would be a major victory for property rights and for due process of law.
"The agency says it doesn't want to go into court, it shouldn't have to go into court," said Schiff. "The chutzpah, the arrogance, is, frankly, almost unimaginable."
About 7:38 minutes. Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Camera by Sharif Matar. Additional camera by Paul Detrick, Tracy Oppenheimer, and Weissmueller. Additional footage courtesy of the Pacific Legal Foundation. Music: "Water" by Big Blood, "City Night Line" by Cobra avec Panther, "The River Who Drinks All I've Had" by Makunouchi Bento, "Film 1" by Torture Super Sonic.
Visit Reason.tv for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube channel to receive automatic notifications when new material goes live.
Andrew Napolitano has some questions about the recent revelations that the NYPD, with the help of the CIA, is conducting spy operations in New Jersey: Should the FBI agents and the local cops arrest the NYPD and the CIA agent for violating the U.S. and New Jersey constitutions, both of which prohibit searches and seizures without search warrants, and for violating federal and New Jersey laws against wiretapping and surveillance? Did the FBI and the local cops even have a search warrant? Was the NYPD/CIA surveillance a lawful governmental function?View this article
Apres Super Tuesday, it's a good time to check in on the pocketbooks of various candidates.
President Obama has collected over $!51 million so far, far ahead of the next guy, Mitt Romney. The former governor has raked in $64 million so far, and Ron Paul is a distant third with $31 million.
At this point in 2008, Obama had about $104 million (less than Hillary Clinton) and Romney had about $90 million.
When it comes to Super PACS, those independent groups that can spend whatever they want as long as they don't coordinate with a candidate, Romney is doing well. Restore Our Future, helmed by former Romney associates, has shelled out $31 million to date, with about half that total going toward attacks on Newt "The Tortoise" Gingrich. The former Speaker has benefited from about $16 million from Winning Our Future, whose major backer Sheldon Adelson, has coughed up about $10 million of the total.
Obama-friendly independent groups haven't really started dishing out the dollars yet, mostly because the incumbent isn't yet in full campaign mode. But the union AFSCME has used $1.5 million so far, all of which went to attacking Mitt Romney.
A few weeks back, Obama flipped his position and is now foursquare behind Super PACs raising money for his re-election. The results for the highest-profile group, Priorities USA, were embarasssing earlier this year - they raised less than $600,000 in January - but they just got a controversial $1 million pledge from Bill Maher (Sarah Palin, whom Maher has called "a cunt" and "a twat," is demanding the group refuse the donation "for the sake of everyone's daughter"). And last year, they raised $19 million.
Once the Dem and Rep candidates are fully in place, expect a lot more money to come loose. The two Karl Rove groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, raked in $51 million last year.
In 2008, Obama's campaign (not counting affiliated groups!) raised around $750 million, more than what Bush and Kerry spent combined in 2004. That figure could crack the billion-dollar mark this time around.
While you're carrying the numbers in your head, check out 3 Reasons Not to Get Worked Up Over Super PACs:
Media Matters for America, which is milking the Limbaugh/Fluke brouhaha for all its worth (and then some, including a compilation of criticism that quotes me), has assembled a list of El Rushbo's most scandalous on-air comments since 2004, the better to frighten his advertisers. Some of them are indeed appalling. Here he is in May 2004, talking about the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal:
I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?
As Nick Gillespie noted in 2004, Limbaugh also "said that what took place at Abu Ghraib was 'no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation,' as if hooking blindfolded POWs up to electrical wires or sodomizing them with chemical light sticks was the same as a fraternity circle jerk." These comments encapsulate the perils of Limbaugh's approach, which combines glibness and intentional provocation with supposedly serious commentary. Although he is first and foremost an entertainer, he is decidely not just kidding.
Few of the quotes on Media Matters' list rise (descend?) to that level. Media Matters clearly thinks a bunch of the comments are racist, but I'm not so sure. Likening Barack Obama to Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe is ridiculously disproportionate, but it is not ipso facto racist, even if you note that Mugabe "took the white people's farms." Similarly, in 2009 Limbaugh said of Obama, "People are finally standing up to this little boy, this little man-child president." Racist denigration of a black man as a "boy," or dismissal of a young, inexperienced politician who Limbaugh thinks is in over his head? You decide. And what about his 2009 statement, in connection with the automaker bailout, that "people in the private sector are getting raped by this administration"? It seems to me that only someone who automatically thinks of black people when he thinks of rapists would read that statement as racist because the president happens to be black. Limbaugh's 2011 complaint about an untranslated speech by Chinese leader Hu Jintao is likewise open to interpretation:
Hu Jintao was just going, "Ching cha. Ching chang cho chow. Cha Chow. Ching Cho. Chi ba ba ba. Kwo kwa kwa kee. Cha ga ga. Ching chee chay. Ching zha bo ba. Chang cha. Chang cho chi che. Cha dee. Ooooh chee bada ba. Jee jee cho ba." Nobody was translating, but that's the closest I can get.
If Limbaugh had done a similar impression of what German or Russian sounds like to him, it definitely would not have been racist, right? Just kinda juvenile and unsophisticated, maybe vaguely xenophobic. What if the language Limbaugh could not understand had been Hebrew? Speaking of which, I think this 2010 comment is supposed to be anti-Semitic:
To some people, bankers — code word for Jewish — and guess who Obama's assaulting? He's assaulting bankers. He's assaulting money people. And a lot of those people on Wall Street are Jewish. So I wonder if there's starting to be some buyer's remorse there.
If anything, Limbaugh's implication is that Obama is anti-Semitic because he's going after bankers, and that his Jewish supporters therefore may be having second thoughts about him. That's silly for several reasons, not least because the Obama administration has hardly been an enemy to bankers, but it's not anti-Semitic.
Limbaugh talks three hours a day, five days a week, and he deliberately says outrageous things that he knows will drive people like Media Matters' monitors crazy. (See, e.g., his 2010 suggestion that schoolkids who receive free lunches could get their meals from dumpsters "until school kicks back up in August.") So it's amazing that the list of dumb things Rush Limbaugh has said in the last eight years stops at 15 and that so many of them are just plain dumb, as opposed to beyond-the-pale hateful. Apparently Limbaugh has called first lady Michelle Obama "Michelle, my butt," which I guess is a sort of Beavis and Butt-Head twist on "Michelle, ma belle." That's No. 12 on "15 of the Worst Comments Limbaugh's Advertisers Have Sponsored Since 2004." Is that supposed to be racist too? Something about black women and their butts? Dunno.
Media Matters has every right, of course, to try shaming Limbaugh's sponsors into deserting his show. I suspect he will survive. Although I do not really understand his appeal, he is a hugely successful entertainer, presumably because he is delivering what listeners want to hear, which includes precisely the sort of deliberately offensive, over-the-top right-wing rhetoric that Media Matters loves to hate. I'm not even sure that Media Matters and other Limbaugh critics truly want to drive Limbaugh off the air. It seems like they need each other.
Sarah Palin, who in 2008 suggested she has a First Amendment right to say things without being criticized, is now appying the same analysis to Limbaugh. "I think the definition of hypocrisy is for Rush Limbaugh to have been called out, forced to apologize and retract what it is that he said in exercising his First Amendment rights," she said on CNN last night. "And never is...the same applied to the leftist radicals who say such horrible things about the handicapped, about women, about the defenseless." The point about double standards is valid, as Nick Gillespie noted yesterday. But what does the First Amendment have to do with it? Limbaugh was not literally "forced" to do anything; he made what appears to have been a business decision that some sort of apology (even a half-assed, patently disingenuous one) would help smooth things over with advertisers. If it doesn't, does Palin think the Constitution requires those companies to continue running ads on his show?
I discussed Limbaugh's pill-related legal troubles in a 2006 column.
The mass demonstrations in Afghanistan, punctuated by anti-American violence, carry a clear message, writes Sheldon Richman. After more than a decade, the U.S. empire should pack up and leave. It’s long past time.View this article
The national poll of likely Latino voters indicated that 73 percent of them approved of Obama’s performance in office, with over half those questioned looking favorably upon his handling of the healthcare debate and the economy, at 66 percent and 58 percent respectively.
Released on the eve of the Super Tuesday primaries in the race for the GOP nomination, the Fox News Latino poll shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 35 percent of Latino voter support, to Texas Rep. Ron Paul's 13 percent, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich's 12 percent, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's 9 percent.
But the poll shows that the overwhelming choice among likely Latino voters is President Obama. In head-to-head match-ups none of the GOP candidates would garner more than 14 percent of the Latino vote come November, the poll said.
You can almost hear the Republican faithful grumbling the sorts of sentiments that are precisely the reason why Latinos are wary of the Party of Lincoln.
You know, stuff like "I want to say ‘go home’ to lots of people" (Newt Gingrich); "I would sign the Dream Act if it were focused on military service" (Mitt Romney); and “My grandfather made sacrifices. He lived in this country five years without his family…So when I hear people say, ‘well, people have lived here a long time, and they’ve played by the rules and we don’t want to separate families.’ Well, my grandfather separated from his family" (Rick Santorum).
Yeah, perpetuating inhumane policies due to personal grudges is really presidential. Go here for sources on those and other quotes by Republican presidential candidates.
So despite the fact that Barack Obama has been absolutely awful on immigration, he's seemingly got a lock on Latino votes.
And he's been awful in at least two ways.
First, he has presided over a crap economy and has done just about everything he could do to extend the recession by creating regime uncertainty when it comes the rules and regulations that will apply for a decade to come (Dodd-Frank, anyone, or health-care reform?). He's compounded that with horrible fiscal policy that is hell-bent of spending and borrowing until the country runs out of ink.
Second, he's actively deported tens of thousands of parents, has pushed a pro-union, anti-immigrant agenda, and more. If Latinos are right to worry about selective enforcement of immigration laws (and they are), Obama should be right up there with the Sheriff Joes and Jan Brewers of the world.
But leave it to the GOP, especially the mega-minds currently vying to lead the party into November's election, to screw it all up. That Fox News poll mentioned above suggests that a Latino VP would help the Republicans some, but not all that much. There are a number of charismatic, high-profile veep possibilities out there in the Latino community (Sen. Marco Rubio, Govs. Susanna Martinez and Luis Fortuno [check out his Reason interview]) but it will take more than a token pick to change voters' minds (and not just Latino voters, either, but all who find America's immigration policy idiotic).
All the GOP has to do is channel possibly the only goddamn thing George W. Bush ever got right as president. Here's Bush in 2001, talking at Ellis Island, that mythical place that cause "real Americans" (that is, those of us whose parents and grandparents came directly from the slums of Europe rather than the barrios of Mexico and places further south):
"100 million Americans can draw a straight line from the life they know today, to a moment inside this hall," he said. "Immigration is not a problem to be solved, it is a sign of a confident and successful nation. Their arrival should be greeted not with suspicion and resentment, but with openness and courtesy."
And there's this too, from 2004:
"It makes sense to allow the good-hearted people who are coming here to do jobs that Americans won't do a legal way to do so. And providing that legal avenue, it takes the pressure off the border."
I don't particularly care if a Republican or a Democrat wins in November, but I'd like to live in a country that wasn't so fixated on the myth of an immigration crisis and actually opened its borders to everyone yearning to be free and rich and all that. If the GOP had a brain - and that's open for debate - they might just do well to follow Bush's footsteps in this instance. Bush pulled somewhere between 40 percent and 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004 (the estimates vary but represent an increase of between six and 10 points over his 2000 total). In 2008, John McCain, routinely lambasted by conservatives as weak on immigration, got a whopping 31 percent of the same bloc. The Fox poll suggests that the best any of the current GOP contenders will do in 2012 is 14 percent.
Certainly, carping about the handful of illegals getting in-state tuition at state colleges and bloviating about the desire to round up tanner-than-me farm laborers is no way to move forward into a glorious future of moon colonies and all that. As someone who moved from a post-Prop. 187 California (in which Republican Gov. Pete Wilson hitched his re-election to rancid Mexiphobia and destroyed the statewide GOP in the process) to George Bush's Texas in the mid-1990s, I can tell you that Dubya's approach works better if you're interested in a calmer social atmosphere and a functioning economy. That not being aggressively anti-immigrant (read: Latino) is merely the neon-red maraschino cherry on top of Chi-Chi's fried ice cream dessert.
- Greek debt manager on the country's recently revealed loan from Goldman Sachs: "The Goldman Sachs deal is a very sexy story between two sinners."
- FDA gets ready to pummel makers of AeroShot.
- Despite a 2008 campaign promise, Obama embraces lobbyists (again).
- Dennis Kucinich lost his primary last night.
- After Super Tuesday, Romney lurches one stop closer to the GOP nomination.
- You’d need 76 work days to read all your privacy policies each year.
Do you want hot links and other Reason goodies delivered to your inbox twice a day? Sign up here for Reason's morning and afternoon news updates.
New at Reason.tv: "What's New With Nanotech: A Presentation by Zyvex CEO Jim Von Ehr"
One man says he's found a way to get unapproved objects through TSA's backscatter x-ray machines:
Scratch another state off the candidate's wish-list. From The Hill:
With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Romney had 33 percent of the votes cast, followed by former Sen. Rick Santorum at 29 percent.
Paul, who has performed well in past caucus contests, finished third with 24 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich earned 14 percent.
The state's 27 delegates will be awarded proportionately later this month. [...]
The result will be a disappointment for Paul, who is still looking for his first victory in the 2012 nominating race. The Texas lawmaker's strategy was to focus on geographic pockets in his pursuit of delegates, and he was the only candidate to campaign in Alaska ahead of the vote.
Defenders of the Obama administration's requirement that employers pay for birth control coverage cite Rush Limbaugh's sexist tirade against Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student who supports the mandate, as evidence that resistance to it is part of "a systematic war against women." Senior Editor Jacob Sullum says that narrative remains false, no matter how many stupid jokes Limbaugh makes.View this article
Department of Random Pauliana: The fightin' congressman gets two shout-outs in the latest Rolling Stone (Whitney Houston cover):
*First in a Q and A with famous Paul booster Kelly Clarkson, not free online, but she says
I'm hanging out with my brother and my little niece, playing Barbies, and Ron Paul comes on TV. He doesn't BS around anything. I was like, "This dude is refreshing." All I did was tweet what I thought, and people went crazy! All of a sudden people were like, "You hate gay people"--what? I didn't even endorse him! All I said was that I liked him. I voted for Barack, so it's not even like I'm a hardcore Republican.
Make of that what you will, I suppose.
*And he becomes a casual metaphorical reference in standard record reviews, this one of Andrew Bird's Break It Yourself:
On "Give It Away," he evokes "worthless currency" over a gently plucked violin, analogizing inflation and failure like the Ron Paul of love.
Ron Paul: always influencing the culture. Buy my book about him.
Boston—It will be a few hours before we find out the results of the Alaska primary but so far this is a bad night for Ron Paul and his legions of supporters.
Paul performed better than expected in Vermont, winning 25 percent of the vote and effectively securing at least three delegates for himself in Tampa. In Virginia, where his only competition was Mitt Romney, Paul garnered his highest percentage of the campaign with 41 percent, but that still only netted him three delegates. And while Paul devoted significant time and resources to North Dakota, he still only finished a distant second place with 27 percent in that state's non-binding caucuses.
Outside of those three bright spots it appears Paul is walking away with 6 out of a possible 419 delegates according to CNN. Paul finished in single digits or low teens everywhere else.
Results from Idaho, another state where Paul invested heavily, are still coming in, but it is not looking good for Paul there either as Romney has a commanding lead.
Paul’s strategy has been focused on caucuses and at this point only a handful of them remain: Guam, Kansas, Virgin Islands, Hawaii, Nebraska, and Montana. Yes, Paul will have delegates at the GOP convention in Tampa—but if these so-so results continue he will not march in there with the army he has been hoping for.
I was unable to participate in the tweetathon due to scheduling conflicts, so forgive me if this point was already made by colleagues, but it is extra-bittersweet for Ron Pauliacs to remember the glory days after Paul's strong New Hampshire number two placement when the thought of a Gingrich and Santorum-less race seemed a reasonable possibility to see Paul up against just Romney in Virginia pulling 41 percent (rounded up).
As the campaign slog continues, the revolution ain't dead, within or without the 2012 GOP presidential race. The story of how it got to where it is is told in my forthcoming book Ron Paul's Revolution.
Oh, for the love of all that is pivotal and game changing. Can this primary just be over already? Enough already with the exit-poll slicing and dicing, the ballot box procedural inanity, the endless jockeying for the lead, the non-plans and cringe-inducing speeches, the increasingly desperate false promises and outright lies. It's all blending together. At this point, GOP primary events are sort of like late-model Nicholas Cage movies: some bland, some terrible, all absurd, all forgettable.
But fine, let's recap The Story So Far: Tonight, Romney has already won three states, and so has his chief rival, Rick Santorum. And the two are running in a near dead heat in Ohio, which is arguably the biggest prize of the night. Politico’s Alexander Burns starts his where-we're-at-now summary with the following flash of nobody's-won frustration: “A Super Tuesday primary night that was supposed to bring clarity to the Republican presidential race threatened to create an even deeper muddle, as the 10 states voting across the country scattered every which way and the most important battleground, Ohio, remained too close to call.” A muddle! A mess! A mystery! “It’s not over with yet!” warns CNN’s ubiquitous Wolf Blitzer, who on nights like this is to words what all-you-can-eat buffets are to food. He says so much, and yet reveals so little. Much like tonight’s election results. Regardless of the outcome, there’s not much to look forward to here. Will Romney win the evening? Will Santorum? The bad news is that the answer to one of those questions is yes.
It's a good one. So it's even more of a heart-breaker to watch with the knowledge that Rick Santorum has won North Dakota lying heavy in your chest.
In 22-odd minutes, Paul trashes wars, spending and insults the Patriot Act (calling it the repeal of the Fourth Amendment Act). He even scorns the National Defense Authorization Act by name, as well as the Obama administration's claims that they can assassinate American citizens. Here, near this election cycle's final slide into status-quo-moderate-government-friendly-what-civil-liberties-violation? politics, is Paul at his best; less stammery and very passionate about actual, concrete problems that come directly from government.
[T]rest of the candidates support the status quo. Foreign policies never change. Monetary policy doesn't change. There's no challenge to the Federal Reserve system. And most of all, there's no -- no desire to protect personal liberty, personal privacy, protect us from the intrusiveness of the federal government, to protect your right to use -- to use the Internet.
These are the kinds of things that are so important to so many people. And, unfortunately, that is not offered. I believe it is the offering up of a program that -- that emphasizes personal liberty, the Constitution, sound monetary policy, and a sensible foreign policy is the reason the momentum is building and the reason why we're getting such a great reception here in North Dakota.
Paul made some good showings in several states and picked up three delegates in Virginia, bringing his total to 52; but he hasn't won any states. Maybe we can look to Mitt Romney for the explanation. The square-jawed former Governor said it best tonight in his pre-emptive victory speech in Massachusetts, "I want to congratulate Newt Gingrich on a good night in Georgia, and Rick Santorum on his good night, and Ron Paul for his steadfast commitment to our Constitution and his strong support almost everywhere you go."
Super! It's Tuesday! And not just any Tuesday! It's the day a bunch of Republicans vote on stuff! Join the Reason staff as we watch the results roll in and tweet about it. Right here. Right now.
You've probably heard that recidivist jackass Rush Limbaugh called a Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke "a slut" and "a prostitute" after she testified before Congress about wanting the Jesuits who run her college to pay for her birth control pills. Just to make sure that nobody but nobody ever gets sexually aroused again, the broadcaster who once "had talent on loan from God" spun out a scenario in which he would also watch a video of Fluke having sex. Limbaugh subsequently fake-apologized for his untoward remarks. Why a fake apology? Because being a former Oxycontin addict and super-conservative marrying man means never having to say you're sorry. Not as long as a Democrat's in the White House at least.
But the comedy ain't done yet. Over at The New Republic, Timothy Noah explains why it's like totally different when Bill Maher calls Sarah Palin "a twat" and "a cunt," or when Keith Olbermann calls Michelle Malkin a "mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it."
Here you go:
It's different in two ways.
First, all of the people who were subjected to verbal abuse by the liberal- or left-leaning blowhards and smart-asses mentioned above are public figures. If you follow politics you know who they are. Fluke, on the other hand, though a political activist, was not really a public figure. If you follow politics you probably didn't know who she was until Limbaugh attacked her.
Second, and more important, none of the rappers and liberals and leftists mentioned above is so feared by President Obama or any other Democrat that said Democrat would hesitate to criticize him if the occasion warranted it. That isn't necessarily because Democrats are braver people. It's because there is no rapper or liberal or leftist commentator or talk-radio host or comedian who commands anything equivalent to the knuckle-dragging army of haters that Limbaugh leads on the right.
Yeah, that's not really much of a counter-argument.
For starters, Noah goes pretty light on the abuse-o-meter. At The Daily Beast, Kirsten Powers provides a somewhat more in-depth catalog of vagina dentata imagineering by liberal asshats.
Olbermann, for instance, suggested that that the best way to take Hillary Clinton out of the 2008 presidential race "was to find 'somebody who can take her into a room and only he comes out.'" And that conservative commentator S.E. Cupp should have been aborted by her parents. Enchante!
Matt Taibbi, whom Noah tags for calling Andrew Breitbart "a douche" in his obit, is similarly scampish toward the ladies, writes Powers:
Left-wing darling Matt Taibbi wrote on his blog in 2009, “When I read [Malkin’s] stuff, I imagine her narrating her text, book-on-tape style, with a big, hairy set of balls in her mouth.” In a Rolling Stone article about Secretary of State Clinton, he referred to her “flabby arms.” When feminist writer Erica Jong criticized him for it, he responded by referring to Jong as an “800-year old sex novelist.” (Jong is almost 70, which apparently makes her an irrelevant human being.)
Boy, those jokes are fall-down funny, aren't they?
And then there's Chris Matthews, the leg-tingled MSNBC host and stalwart JFK defender, who particularly seems to thrive on attacking Hillary Clinton in gender-specific terms:
Over the years he has referred to the former first lady, senator and presidential candidate and current secretary of state as a “she-devil,” “Nurse Ratched,” and “Madame Defarge.” Matthews has also called Clinton “witchy,” “anti-male,” and “uppity” and once claimed she won her Senate seat only because her “husband messed around.”
But if Noah's catalog of rancid liberal misogyny is incomplete, is he right that Fluke isn't a public figure and hence not fair game? She's not as famous or all growed up as, say Hillary Clinton or Laura Ingraham ("a right-wing slut" according to MSNBC populist Ed Schultz), but even Noah notes that she's a political activist. But that's besides the point: How does being, I don't know, a syndicated columnist such as Michelle Malkin, make it less fucked up that Matt Taibbi wants to put "a big, hairy set of balls in her mouth"? The point isn't that Rush Limbaugh is a bigger tool than liberals who resort to sad-sack sexist japes. It's that there's something seriously fucked up with all of that sort of thing. Especially when you're pretending to be serious thinkers or writers or commentators.
Noah's second reason for why Limbaugh needs to be held to a different standard is also odd: El Rushbo has more divisions than the Pope when it comes to commanding a Dittohead Army or something. If asked about it, any pol should dismiss such dumb comments, as should listeners. What exactly that has to do with, say NPR favorite Marc Maron's comments about hate-fucking Michelle Bachmann, I don't know.
If you've ever needed a reason to rethink dumb attachments to the left-right, liberal-conservative Manicheanism at the heart of conventional politics, the sort of idiotic Team Red vs. Team Blue mentality underscored by Noah's need to exonerate the misogyny of his ideological allies should give you something to ponder.
Update: Last night, Timothy Noah replied at TNR to this post, writing that he was not defending "the unacceptably vile things" that folks such as Taibbi, Olbermann, and Maher has said. Rather, he reiterates his point that "It matters more to society what a person with a big following says than what a person with a small following says" (italics in original).
Earlier today we discussed several ways in which Ron Paul could upset Mitt Romney in Virginia, a state where Willard is predicted to take most, if not all, of the delegates. One theory was that Democrats could hamstring Romney by voting for Paul in the state's open primary.
But according to Fairfax Patch, local Republican leaders don't see Democrats having much influence:
Some Republicans doubt crossovers will make much of an impact in Virginia. “I think it can skew the results of a close race if there is an organized effort by one party to impact another party's nomination,” said Anthony Bedell, chairman of the Fairfax County Republicans.
“But for the most part, the crossover in a primary is minimal," he said. "We certainly welcome any disaffected Democratic voters to come support a Republican candidate if they believe that candidate is the right one to lead this country. I'm sure there are some Democrats who are not happy with the results of the ‘hope and change’ they were sold by President Obama. Those voters we welcome…. Anytime.”
Last week in Michigan, exit polls showed 9 percent of Michigan voters identified themselves as Democrats, USA Today reported. More than half of those voters, or 53 percent, said they voted for Santorum while 18 percent chose Romney.
- Super Tuesday! Ohio is still a big deal! But today is still not going to decisively resolve this freaky GOP race.
- Also, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are neck-in-neck for something Gallup calls "Positive Intensity."
- Obama had a press conference. The president to GOP candidates:You are not the Commander in Chief and this Iran problem is "not a game." The President to Rush Limbaugh: "decent folks" don't dig your salty talk.
- I guess they have no right to complain? "Newt and Callista are not casting a ballot in Virginia and they did not request an absentee one."
- Founder of hacktivist group LulzSec seems to have betrayed his brethren and sistren to the FBI.
- The May 18 G-8 summit has been moved from Chicago to Camp David, but protesters shall not, shall not be moved from their plans to picket the NATO meeting which will still take place in the Windy City that weekend.
- The moon and a mirage helped sink the Titanic says science. (Maybe.)
Do you want hot links and other Reason goodies delivered to your inbox twice a day? Sign up here for Reason's morning and afternoon news updates.
In his speech at Northwestern University yesterday (as Lucy Steigerwald noted), Attorney General Eric Holder said the "due process" required before killing suspected terrorists in other countries, including American citizens, is not the same as the due process required for criminal defendants in the United States. He laid out three sufficient (but perhaps not necessary) conditions for the targeted killing of "a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans" (as Anwar al-Awlaki was alleged to be):
First, the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; second, capture is not feasible; and third, the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.
The first condition presupposes that the target is indeed "a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces," which is the sort of thing the government would have to prove in a criminal trial. As for the imminence of the threat posed by the alleged terrorist, the "thorough and careful review" to which Holder refers is carried out entirely by the executive branch, with no role for the judiciary or the legislature (although "the Executive Branch regularly informs the appropriate members of Congress about our counterterrorism activities, including the legal framework, and would of course follow the same practice where lethal force is used against United States citizens"—after the fact, apparently). The feasibility of capture likewise is determined entirely by the president and his men. That condition (assuming it is necessary) seems to rule out targeted killings within this country, where capture presumably would be feasible. Otherwise there do not seem to be any geographical limits:
Our legal authority is not limited to the battlefields in Afghanistan. Indeed, neither Congress nor our federal courts has limited the geographic scope of our ability to use force to the current conflict in Afghanistan. We are at war with a stateless enemy, prone to shifting operations from country to country. Over the last three years alone, al Qaeda and its associates have directed several attacks – fortunately, unsuccessful – against us from countries other than Afghanistan. Our government has both a responsibility and a right to protect this nation and its people from such threats.
This does not mean that we can use military force whenever or wherever we want. International legal principles, including respect for another nation’s sovereignty, constrain our ability to act unilaterally. But the use of force in foreign territory would be consistent with these international legal principles if conducted, for example, with the consent of the nation involved – or after a determination that the nation is unable or unwilling to deal effectively with a threat to the United States.
In short, Holder claims that Congress, by authorizing the use of military force against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, empowered the president to order the execution of anyone he identifies as a terrorist, wherever that person may be found (with the possible exception of the United States). If presidents were infallible and always virtuous, there would be no problem with this policy; since they are neither, we should perhaps be wary of letting them decide exactly how much process is due for those they deem deserving of death.
More on the president's license to kill here.
At The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Cato Institute’s David Boaz celebrates the fact that “even as the Republican candidates fight to see who can get furthest to the right, acceptance of gay people and gay marriage in the United States is moving briskly along.” He writes:
Republicans haven't given up their opposition, but their resolve is weakening. A few GOP legislators helped put the issue over the top in New York, Washington, and Maryland. Former Republican national chairman Ken Mehlman and a group of libertarian-leaning GOP donors played a key role in [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo's efforts in New York.
The formerly vocal opposition to gay marriage has quieted. Congressional Republicans haven't revived the Federal Marriage Amendment. Conservative media stalwarts like Rush Limbaugh and Bill Buckley's National Review have barely mentioned the issue. (When you search for gay marriage at National Review Online, you get lots of ads for things like "Gay Destination Weddings.") The ambitious Christie vetoed his state's bill while also calling for a referendum on gay marriage rather than flatly rejecting the idea. He also has nominated an openly gay judge to the state Supreme Court.
Even Rick Santorum, who has been stridently antigay throughout his career, muted his remarks when he led a rally to repeal the Washington state law. "There are legitimate reasons that people have to want . . . to change the law," he said. "And there are legitimate reasons that people have to want to keep the law in place. . . . There are ebbs and flows in every battle."
Visiting Mexico yesterday, Vice President Joseph Biden was asked about drug legalization as a response to prohibition-related violence, which has killed nearly 50,000 people in that country since the end of 2006:
"It's worth discussing, but there is no possibility the Obama/Biden administration will change its policy on [drug] legalization," he said after meeting with President Felipe Calderon....
Biden's trip [to Mexico and Honduras] takes place amid unprecedented pressure from political and business leaders to talk about decriminalizing drugs. The presidents of Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia and Mexico have said in recent weeks they'd like to open up the discussion of legalizing drugs.
"It is a totally legitimate debate and it's worth debating in order to lay to rest some of the myths that are associated with the notion of legalization," Biden said. "The debate always occurs, understandably, in the context of serious violence that occurs with the society, particularly in societies that don't have the institutional framework and the structure to deal with organized, illicit operations."
The vice president said, however, that legalization would be unworkable "unless you are going to not only legalize but you are going to provide a government apertures for the distribution of the drugs."
Really? After alcohol prohibition was repealed in 1933, the business was mostly taken over by private enterprise, and the remaining state monopolies seem to be on the way out. Why do the currently illicit intoxicants require "government apertures"? At least Biden did not claim that the drug trade cannot be legalized because there is too much money in it.
[Thanks to Richard Cowan for the tip.]
It should be remembered that all discussions of total delegates counts floating around for the GOP race need to recognize that when it comes to the non-binding caucus states of Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Maine, Wyoming, and Washington, with a total of at least 197 delegates, that no one knows yet how the delegates will be allocated.
Ron Paul fans making skylarking guesses based on their assumptions of their success in getting Paulites selected as delegates to county, district, and later state conventions guess that Paul may already have 143 in the bag. Again, no one knows, and if Gingrich and/or Santorum are no longer candidates come convention time (today's results will help shape that), that leaves many more in play.
But delegate estimates floating around are just that, and in most cases their methods of estimation aren't clear. No one knows yet. For what it's worth, the site I've found that seems most in-the-weeds knowledgeable about this stuff is Greenpapers.
For much more about Ron Paul, buy my forthcoming book Ron Paul's Revolution early and often.
Worcester, Mass.—A massive banner featuring Ron Paul's mug is hanging off a building adjacent to Interstate 290 in downtown Worcester. The Osgood-Bradley Building, as it is officially known, is the unofficial headquarters for Paul activists in Massachusetts and in previous years had been leased by various Massachusetts Republican campaigns.
To put this photo in context, the building is about 100 feet tall, meaning the banner is roughly 18 feet by 25 feet. It was constructed on the building's fourth floor "Liberty Clubhouse."
According to artist Jon Allen it took three days to build and "hanging it up" was the easiest part.
Pat Robertson, America's longest-serving eschatological bigot and spiritual leader, took to the airwaves of the 700 Club last week and denounced the war on weed, as well as liberals, all of whom write laws in a "punitive spirit." Putting aside the fact that Robertson has, on occasion, invited God to smite people people of abominable politics and preferences, this time he is making (some) sense:
We here in America make up 5% of the world's population, but we make up 25% of jailed prisoners...
Every time the liberals pass a bill -- I don't care what it involves -- they stick criminal sanctions on it. They don't feel there is any way people are going to keep a law unless they can put them in jail.
I became sort of a hero of the hippie culture, I guess, when I said I think we ought to decriminalize the possession of marijuana.
I just think it's shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of controlled substance. The whole thing is crazy.
We've said, "we're 'conservative, we're tough on crime." That's baloney. It's costing us billions and billions of dollars.
Think of California. California is spending more money on prisons than it spends on schools. There's something wrong about that equation.
We need to scrub the federal code and the state codes and take away these criminal penalties.
Putting people in jail at huge expense to the population is insanity.
Folks, we've gotta do something about this. We've just got to change the laws. We cannot allow this to continue. It is sapping our vitality. Think of this great land of freedom. We have the highest rate of incarceration of any nation on the face of the Earth. That's a shocking statistic.
What is it we're doing that is different? What we're doing is turning a bunch of liberals loose writing laws -- there's this punitive spirit, the always want to punish people.
It's time for change!
More and more prisons, more and more crime. It's just shocking, especially this business about drug offenses. It's time we stop locking up people for possession of marijuana. We just can't do it anymore...You don't lock 'em up for booze unless they kill somebody on the highway.
That transcript comes from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Robertson's remarks are heartening, in that they show a change of heart; but of the many, many Americans behind bars for drug-related offenses, few of them are doing hard time simply for possession of pot. Manufacturing with intent to sell and distribution (for pot, at least), and possession of "harder" drugs are now the real life destroyers. Robertson's stance also fails to take into account that while incarceration is the worst thing that can happen to a pot user, it's not the only bad thing that can happen. Excessive fines, a marred permanent record, loss of employment opportunities, and asset forfeiture (for starters) are all negative externalities worth addressing.
Robertson watchers and drug reformers will remember the first time Robertson said something along these lines, back in December of 2010. After the remarks made headlines, his handlers rushed to say that Robertson "did not call for the decriminalization of marijuana. He was advocating that our government revisit the severity of the existing laws.”
As a rule, if you explain a joke, it's no longer funny. But if you explain a Rush Limbaugh joke, it's still stupid. In that spirit, I note a couple of points in his much-condemned ad hominem remarks about Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke that do not make sense, one of which suggests he does not really understand the issues raised by the Obama administration's contraceptive mandate. First, Limbaugh mocked Fluke's inflated estimate of contraceptive costs ("over $3,000 during law school"), saying, "She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception." But with the exception of condoms, the cost of birth control does not hinge on how often you have sex, a fact that undermines the whole "slut" and "prostitute" bit. Second, Limbaugh repeatedly suggested that Fluke wanted taxpayers, rather than Georgetown University, to pay for her contraceptives. Last Thursday, for instance, he said:
So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.
Limbaugh repeated this theme in the apology he issued on Saturday:
I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?
The policy that Fluke supports, however, requires employers to pay for birth control coverage, which is why religious institutions that consider contraception immoral are objecting. As Peter Grier notes in The Christian Science Monitor, ObamaCare also involves taxpayer-funded subsidies for a government-prescribed insurance package that will include contraception, but that is not the issue Fluke was addressing.
For more on the contraception controversy and its role in the "war on women," see my column tomorrow.
"If we take the carbon atoms in this lump of coal, they're not worth very much because they are random and unstructured. But if we were to take those same atoms and rearrange them into a crystal, they're diamond," explains Zyvex CEO Jim Von Ehr.
The nanotech pioneer has committed his life to restructuring at the molecular level, and at Reason Weekend 2012, Reason Foundation's annual donor event, Von Ehr discussed his progress. He spoke about the future of nanotechnology in an array of industries, from medicine to transportation, as well as his obstacles concerning government regulation over his products and how he plans to overcome them.
About 33 minutes. Filmed by Joshua Swain and Anthony Fisher. Edited by Tracy Oppenheimer.
Scroll down for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube channel to receive automatic notifications when new material goes live.
Washington Post’s Ezra Klein predicts that Mitt Romney will enjoy three big primary wins today with: voters, GOP endorsements and the media. I agree for reasons I enumerated yesterday. But how will this new, victorious Romney treat Ron Paul? Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are important enough GOP figures that they’ll get prominent convention roles and/or spots in the Romney administration. But will Romney and Paul’s alleged flirtation in the primary result in a full-blown love affair or a break-up going forward?
Unfortunately, I noted yesterday in The Daily the latter is the more plausible scenario:
Paul is in it for the long haul because he is using the GOP primary not to win the nomination but to build a movement. He wants an impressive enough delegate count to force the GOP to show him some respect at the convention and give his base tangible proof of his powers. But, sadly, after today, the GOP will begin marginalizing him.
Despite Paul’s impressive gains this time, he will still have fewer delegates than either of the other candidates -- and they are less manipulable for political ends. Therefore, they will be less useful for Romney even if he needs them. But he won’t. So Paul will be in no position to call the shots at the convention.
Paul will get a speaking role. But the pressure will be on him to moderate his anti-war and “anti-American” views – not on Romney or the GOP-establishment to tone down their saber rattling. Paul’s foreign policy views are in sharp conflict with those of the hawkish conservative base -- to whom Romney has been shamelessly pandering. Therefore, the choice that Paul will confront will be to stick to his fiscal and economic messages and tone down or altogether nix his foreign policy positions in exchange for a prime-time speaking spot. Or keep them and compete for attention with daytime soaps.
Although Paul has made impressive progress, his movement is still not strong enough to move the GOP in his direction. In fact, that might never happen because his ideas might have reached the outer limits of their appeal in the GOP. To grow his movement further, he might have to look for other pastures.
Paulistas have been hinting that Paul is working on a secret strategy to exploit the GOP's arcane caucus rules to pick up delegates. But Washington was the first test of this strategy and it got Pual an estimated 5 delegates – the same as Santorum -- to Romney’s 30. Now Paulistas are pinning their hopes on Idaho. In fact, reports the Guardian:
In a cheeky move aimed at tweaking the nose of the Romney campaign, the Paul team in Idaho has recruited members of Romney's family; the campaign is touting five distant relatives who all bear the surname Romney but at the caucuses will be urging Idaho residents to vote for Paul.
"I support Ron Paul because he defends the constitution, loves America and understands what it means to be an American," said Travis Romney, who is a second cousin once removed to the former Massachusetts governor.
But uber-statistician Nate Silver sees Paul picking up only 25 delegates today bringing his delegate count to a grand total of 45. The number needed to win the nomination is 1,144, a goal that Paul hadn’t formally abandoned as of last weekend. (Wink, wink.)
Conventional wisdom says the big question in Virginia today—hell, the only question—is whether Mitt Romney will win by landslide or avalanche. But might there be other questions? Such as, do Virginians who hate Mitt Romney hate him enough to vote for Ron Paul?
Thanks to Virginia's open primary rules, Romney and Paul (the only two candidates on the ballot, which does not allow write-ins) could both be in for a surprise. On to the (largely anecdotal) evidence:
- Reports of low voter turnout from this morning, writes Democratic strategist Ben Tribbett, mean only the diehards are voting. Ron Paul supporters are all diehards. (Counterpoint: The polls are open until 7 p.m.!)
- Supporters of Newt and Santorum may try to sabotage Romney by ginning up support for Paul. Take this plea from a Newt Gingrich forum, posted last month: "… If you are a true Newt supporter, the best you can do is vote for Ron Paul and keep Romney from winning more delegates. This IS the way you should vote in order to send a message to your Governor & the rest of the establishment GOP supporting Willard Romney. Don't get mad—get even." (Counterpoint: One message board rant does not an electoral strategy make.)
I live in a neighborhood I nicknamed Yuppie Acres in Alexandria, Virginia, a deep-blue spot in a deep-blue district of Virginia, represented in Congress for a long time by the infamous Jim Moran. My neighbors are wonderful people, but in 2008 the houses came with Obama yard signs conveniently pre-installed.
In 2009, when Bob McDonnell was winning Virginia by the largest margin of any Republican gubernatorial candidate ever, he won only 38 percent in this district and barely 37 percent in Alexandria City, although he did win 45 percent in my polling place.
Today is Super Tuesday, presidential primary day in Virginia, and there is no Democratic contest. As discussed earlier, the only names listed on the ballot are Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. There are no write-in options.
I was told I was the 60th voter at about 8:25 a.m. this morning, which seems a little high for the neighborhood. Way less than a “normal” primary day (with a competitive Democratic primary) or a general election, but significantly more than most other Republicans around the state have reported this morning.
That number could reflect Democrats crossing over.
Ron Paul supporters in Virginia are also encouraging Democrats to vote for Paul on the Virginia for Ron Paul 2012 Facebook page:
"LISTEN UP Democrats, Independents and everything in between!! PLEASE Consider voting for Ron Paul in the PRIMARY tomorrow! Do NOT Consider it a vote against Obama, it's just a primary and you can still vote for Obama if your heart so desires come this November!"
Stay tuned for more Super Tuesday coverage.
Elections matter, but the contest for individual liberty is a long game. As Friedrich Hayek put it in 1949: "We need intellectual leaders who are willing to work for an ideal, however small may be the prospects of its early realization. They must be men who are willing to stick to principles and to fight for their full realization, however remote. The practical compromises they must leave to the politicians." Politics may be a "team sport," writes Gene Healy, but the battle for limited, constitutional government is not.View this article
As the legendary Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) announces her retirement to a slow-clap from the nation's most vapid and serious political commentators while the rest of us wonder what the hell she did during her tenure and Super Tuesday spreads before us like a Bill Cosby dinner companion etherized upon a table, Reuters scribe Jack Shafer asks, "What's so greaat about moderates?"
None of the [recent New York Times] pieces [by David Brooks, Frank Bruni, and Joe Nocera] really makes the case for why a less ideological Republican Party would mean a better Congress or a better country, unless conviviality, the building of congressional coalitions and the steady passage of new legislation are the supreme measures of improvement....
Putting all of our bickering and political differences aside to work together doesn’t necessarily result in civic nirvana. Fans of the cooperative, non-partisan political spirit should remember legislative travesties like the USA Patriot Act, which was passed as quickly as it was introduced....
For decades, pundits and politicians complained that there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two main political parties. Now that there’s a nickel’s worth of difference, they want to reverse the 50 years of ongoing realignment of the two parties, both of which once contained liberals, moderates and conservatives, into two parties, one of mostly liberals and the other of mostly conservatives. If the sorting hat of American politics has accomplished that, Brooks, Bruni and Nocera will have to do more than compose irate op-eds to reverse it. Did the 1970s versions of Brooks, Bruni and Nocera bemoan the exile of Southern conservatives from the Democratic Party to the wilderness of the Republican Party? I’ll bet not....
Republicans denouncing Republicans sounds terrible when you read about it in the press, but it’s a logical product of any primary election. The last time I checked, primaries, for all their shortcomings, were created to enhance democracy by removing the selection of candidates from the smoke-filled room and presenting it to the voters.
Because your Super Tuesday just wasn't super enough without video of Mitt Romney half-rapping the words to "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" on the campaign trail:
How long until we find out that Romney used to be a vocal Crockett critic?
In New York City, an organization of Midtown businesses wants to ban food carts because they're "ugly." The 34th Street Partnership has called upon New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg "to be a little more discriminatory" about which street vendors should operate. The head of the partnership, Dan Biederman, explains why these food carts should be removed:
The problem is really simple: the food vendors, with about five exceptions, are the ugliest collection of miserable-looking vehicles we've ever seen.
In addition, Biederman blasts food cart vendors for being "slobs:"
They are unsightly, and not particularly good citizens. They litter. They violate the rules frequently.The fact that these are humble vendors doesn’t give them the license to be slobs.
Of course, aesthetics are subjective and vary from person to person. There is no reason why the state should enforce Biederman and his partnership's taste over anyone else's. In fact, mobile food vendors have been on display in an avant-garde museum in Germany, demonstrating that food carts might even have artistic merit.
While littering could be a problem, banning all food carts in Midtown is a very draconian response. Not to mention silly. Pedestrians litter, but no one's agitating to ban them.
Furthermore, many food cart owners are usually from a lower-class background or have recently immigrated to the United States. So driving these vendors out of Midtown would hurt the 99 percent. Since street vending has lower start-up costs than opening a brick and mortar restaurant, it provides for more opportunities to earn a decent living. The Street Vendor Project, an advocacy group for New York mobile merchants, even manages a Pushcart Fund, which raises seed money for future mobile entrepreneurs.
According to Matthew Shapiro, an attorney for the Street Vendor Project:
It's a little bit crazy to call vendors ugly and take them away from the neighborhood. They can't afford to invest in their businesses and make them look better because they're always getting slammed with fines.
The New York City government has set the legal number of licenses too low. So a black market has emerged in street vending licenses, with some selling for as much as $12,000. Or vendors just risk breaking the law and enduring a fine of up to $1,000. Indeed, a recent Institute for Justice report found that 10,000 jobs could be created in New York City just by granting licenses to vendors on the waiting list.
So ABC News has a "comprehensive guide" to today's contests.
Here's how they're calling the races:
Alaska: Went for Mitt Romney in 2008, should do same.
Georgia: Newt Gingrich's backyard and despite his being well-known there, he still maintains "a comfortable lead in the state going into Tuesday's contest."
Idaho: Big Mormon population should tip toward Romney but "Ron Paul's ability to draw out supporters in a caucus format cannot be underestimated."
Massachusetts: God, what a bunch of jerks live in that state - the only thing worse that Patriots fans are Bosox fans. "Mitt Romney is expected to carry the state he represented as governor."
North Dakota: Paul pushing hard here but Romney won in 2008.
Ohio: Rick Santorum's last stand but he "faces a delegate disadvantage in the state however. Santorum failed to qualify for the ballot in three congressional districts; the 6th district, 9th and 13th. In spite of this, Santorum will actually be spending Tuesday night in Steubenville, Ohio, located in the 6th district."
Oklahoma: It's looking like Santo!
Tennessee: Mike Huckabee won in 2008, followed by John McCain. Worst part of the Volunteer State's indecision? It gives rise to journo-blather such as "Tennessee is another jewel that Santorum and Romney would love to add to their bounty of winnings." Mmm, yes, another jewel...
Virginia: Only Romney and Paul are on the ballot here and the question, says ABC, is whether Der Mittster can snag all the delegates or just a large number. "The portion of the state to watch is the southwestern area, around Roanoke, Blacksburg and Harrisburg," which means we'll find out who got what in a few weeks assuming the stagecoaches can get through the mountains.
Read more and watch annoying video featuring "Dianne and George - and the Powerhouse Political Team" at America's second-place broadcast news channel.
Elswhere, the LA Times tells the world that Mittmentum is here, baby, and that former Gov. Romney "seems to be riding into Super Tuesday with the 'Big Mo.'" Who writes this stuff? Can't we outsource news cliches already? But before you break out the sparkling cider, the LAT warns that
In a hypothetical general election matchup, Obama leads Romney 50% to 44%, about even with the 49% to 43% advantage he had in January.
Romney also has a net-negative favorability rating, with 28% viewing him positively and 39% negatively. At the same point in 2008, John McCain's rating was 47% positive, 27% negative.
If Democrats are right, then it is not just the Blunt Amendment that allows employers to deny any health benefit to any individual for any reason. Obamacare does the very same thing. Consider what could happen now that the Blunt Amendment has failed, writes A. Barton Hinkle. Some Catholic institutions may decide to drop insurance coverage for their employees altogether, and pay the $2,000-per-worker penalty as stipulated in the PPACA.View this article
Ron Paul does not have just voters; he has activists. Many observers have underestimated Paul’s electoral ceiling precisely because of this energetically loyal base, arguing that the folks on street corners waving homemade Paul signs or flooding every online poll that includes the name Paul constitute all his potential voters. But as Senior Editor Brian Doherty observes in the cover story from our April 2012 issue, the 83,000 people who voted for Paul in Iowa and New Hampshire would not exactly all fit in Mom’s basement. The movement now dwarfs the already impressive Ron Paul rEVOLution of 2008. America hasn’t seen such a youthful, driven, hopeful, radical youth cadre driving a political campaign since, well, Barack Obama in 2008.View this article
Since 2005, Medicare has run a data collection initiative known as Hospital Compare. The program paid eligible hospitals to self-report a number of predetermined quality measures, which were then tracked and made accessible in a public database. The program also provided some information to patients and medical consumers. But a study in Health Affairs by researchers from Cornell Medical College and the University of Michigan reports that the program has not had much effect on health outcomes. Mortality rates dropped, but only in line with preexisting trends.
“Our analysis indicates that the fact that hospitals had to report quality data under Hospital Compare led to no reductions in mortality beyond existing trends for heart attack and pneumonia and led to a modest reduction in mortality for heart failure,” the authors write. “We conclude that Medicare’s public reporting initiative for hospitals has had a minimal impact on patient mortality.”
All else being equal, there is nothing wrong with increased transparency and data analysis. But I suspect that, at least within Medicare, hopes for this sort of procedural reform have long been calibrated too high. As Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf testified last summer, Medicare’s demonstration projects frequently produce disappointing results. "It turns out to be pretty hard to take ideas that seem to work in certain contexts and proliferate that throughout the health care system,” he told members of Congress. “The results are discouraging."
Not surprisingly, this is far from the first or only failure of various technocratic tweaks to Medicare and other government health programs.
Via the Independence Institute comes word of what might be the next Solyndra - a green-energy scandal involving the U.S. Department of Energy and dodgy loans.
Abound Solar makes “next-generation thin-film cadmium telluride solar modules,” writes Independence Institute's Amy Oliver. The company was "recipient of a $400 million Department of Energy loan, just announced it is laying off 70 percent (280 employees) of its Colorado workforce."
A company going out of business isn't a scandal, of course, but as with Solyndra, the federal money directed to Abound came despite what ABC News reports as a dubious company rating by Fitch's:
"Fitch describes Abound as lagging in technology relative to its competitors, failing to achieve stated efficiency targets, and expecting that Abound will suffer from increasing commoditization and pricing pressures," wrote Rep. Darrell Issa, R.-California, the committee chairman. "DOE's willingness to fund Abound, despite these concerns, calls into question the merits of this loan guarantee."
To date, Abound has used about $70 million of the $400 million total.
The website CompleteColorado.com has an overview of the story, including company documents revealing a holiday shutdown sold to employees as a routine matter.
Join the Reason staff here at the Hit&Run blog as we live tweet Super Tuesday results, starting at 5 p.m. and going until midnight or despair, whichever comes first.
With Super Tuesday upon us like a plague of 24-hour locusts that threaten not just the GOP but the very fabric of the nation itself (a wool and Lycra blend explicitly forbidden in Leviticus, btw) which is being stripped more bare than the bride by her bachelors even or the dessert bar near closing time at a Golden Corral buffet, it's as good a time as any to wonder:
Was it just four years ago that The New York Times was running stories about the deleterious effects of a long, drawn-out, bruising fight for the Democratic presidential nod?
Here you go, from a March 6, 2008 account:
Lesson of Defeat: Obama Comes Out Punching
CHICAGO — Senator Barack Obama woke up on Wednesday talking of his delegate lead and of taking the fight to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. But after defeats in two of the most populous states, he also sounded like a chastened candidate in search of his lost moment....
In Ohio and Texas, he drew vast and adoring crowds, yet he came up short on primary day, just as he did in New Hampshire in early January. Mrs. Clinton’s attack on his readiness to serve as commander in chief seemed to resonate with some Texas voters.
In Ohio, Mr. Obama failed to make much headway with voters who live paycheck to paycheck and feel the economic walls closing in, a troublesome sign as he heads to Pennsylvania.
But his challenge now is about more than demographics. He must reassure supporters, and party leaders who had started to rally to his side, that he can absorb the lessons of Tuesday’s defeats. And he faces a challenge of rebounding as quickly as he did from his loss in New Hampshire....
“What exactly is this foreign experience that she’s claiming?” he said. “I know she talks about visiting 80 countries. It is not clear. Was she negotiating treaties or agreements or was she handling crises during this period of time?
“My sense is the answer’s no.”...
Mr. Obama retains significant advantages, including his lead among pledged delegates and a record-setting fund-raising operation. And he bridled at questions on Wednesday about his difficulties attracting working-class and middle-class support, noting his progress in that regard.
Good god, how does the nation ever survive the primary process? Isn't it a scientific fact that nobody has ever won the presidency after having gone through a difficult nominating race? Obama was forced to visit all 57 states (by his count) multiple times until he kept fainting on stage from exhaustion like that guy from the Black Crowes who used to be famous.
After all, hasn't a poll just scientifically proved that the GOP is hurting its "brand" (you know: Depends-wearing, anti-government crackers who only leave their houses on the Medicare-purchased personalized motor scooters to cruise to the mailbox to pick up their Social Security checks and oil-company dividend checks) by not immediately appointing the candidate most likely to get smoked by Obama in November?
The only subgroup of Americans who have weaker memories than high school seniors (99 percent of whom contend that the War of 1812 was fought between the Crips and the Bloods over the last Cabbage Patch doll between 1983-1986) are political journalists, many of whom, you may recall, took Donald Trump and Herman Cain seriously.
So welcome to Super Tuesday, which in some ways marks the halfway point for the election season. The GOP race should be significantly clearer by midnight tonight (ET!), which means that we might be able to move on from banal horse-race politics to banal evaluations of two major-party candidates who are failing to excite their own families much less the nation at large.
But don't count your chickens before they hatch: Remember that in 2008, Hillary Clinton was still pushing her candidacy through the spring, when she saw fit to remind people that back in 1968 Bobby Kennedy was cut down even later than that in his bid for the Dem nod.
And we all know what happened next: Exhausted by his never-ending primary bid, Obama ceded the election to Sen. John McCain, who changed history by reversing his antiwar campaign promises and tripling troops in Afghanistan, bombing Libya, and randomly killing Americans abroad. And on the domestic front, President McCain starting singing Al Green songs, stimulating the economy like Bambi Allen in Saturday Night Beaver, and raiding medical marijuana dispensaries because they posed such a threat to nation's illegal pot supply that well, do you really need to have any of this explained to you?
Related: Ron Paul, fashion icon. The one candidate who is serious about cutting spending knows that thriftiness begins at home.
- The Super Tuesday cage fight begins now. Four men will enter, only one will not cry himself to sleep tonight.
- Ron Paul's strategy: Focus on Alaska, Idaho, and North Dakota.
- A perfectly timed blast from Santorum's past: "We are seeing the fabric of this country fall apart, and it's falling apart because of single moms."
- Iran to allow UN nuke inspectors after all.
- Obama's mortgage relief plan will make it easier to refinance, cost $5 to $10 billion; won't require congressional approval.
- The Cal State and UC systems are now more expensive than Harvard, Yale.
New at Reason.tv: "Racism, Ron Paul and the Battle over the Right to Bear Arms: An Interview with Adam Winkler"
Emmanuel Saez, UC Berkeley’s mustard-sweatered "guru of inequality," reveals [pdf] how poorly Americans in the much-discussed 99 Percent have been doing since the great Keynesian recovery began to sizzle in 2009:
In 2010, average real income per family grew by 2.3% (Table 1) but the gains were very uneven. Top 1% incomes grew by 11.6% while bottom 99% incomes grew only by 0.2%. Hence, the top 1% captured 93% of the income gains in the first year of recovery. Such an uneven recovery can help explain the recent public demonstrations against inequality. It is likely that this uneven recovery has continued in 2011 as the stock market has continued to recover. National Accounts statistics show that corporate profits and dividends distributed have grown strongly in 2011 while wage and salary accruals have only grown only modestly. Unemployment and non-employment have remained high in 2011.
This suggests that the Great Recession will only depress top income shares temporarily and will not undo any of the dramatic increase in top income shares that has taken place since the 1970s. Indeed, excluding realized capital gains, the top decile share in 2010 is equal to 46.3%, higher than in 2007 (Figure 1).
MacArthur genius Saez, who I’m sorry to find seems to have gotten attention from Reason only in the comments, is pecking away at the question of whether "falls in income concentration due to economic downturns" can be sustained. In English, that means that rich people lost much more than the rest of us in the 2007-2009 phase of the stagnation. If that trend could be sustained, Saez and other equalicists note, then the alleged growth of inequality might slow or reverse.
This doesn’t mean that the backward castes would get any richer, because in fact everybody is poorer. (Note that inflation means anybody who has seen 0.2 percent income growth since 2009 is already way behind.) It doesn’t even mean that the noble goal of making everybody equally miserable would be achieved. But apparently the masses will feel better about skipping breakfast, lunch and dinner if they know that the rich had to order a slightly cheaper brunch. That’s the theory anyway.
NPR’s Jason Goldstein explains why the dream of income equality proved fleeting:
1. Over the long term, the top 1 percent have seen much larger gains than everyone else.
2. During the recession, the incomes of the top 1 percent fell more sharply than the incomes of everyone else. This happened because the stock market crashed, and the highest earners get a big chunk of income from investments.
3. In 2009-2010, when the market came back, incomes of the top 1 percent bounced back, while incomes for everyone else remained flat.
Note that the composition of the "1 percent" is not static because economic mobility (upward and downward) is in fact much greater than many equalicists (though not Saez himself) claim. Note also that "middle-class stagnation" has not actually been happening over the long term.
Despite these seemingly mitigating trends, Saez views the struggle between kulak and bednyak through the lens of inevitable history.
"The recent dramatic rise in income inequality in the United States is well documented. But we know less about which groups are winners and which are losers," Saez writes. "I explore these questions with a uniquely long-term historical view that allows me to place current developments in deeper context than is typically the case."
AEI’s James Pethokoukis takes Saez’s numbers and spins out seven points. These are of varying significance, but one is pretty clear: President Obama and his economic brain trust have signally failed to deliver for the 99 Percent. Then again, only the 52.9 Percent voted for Obama, so what were the other 46.1 percent expecting?
Pethokoukis talked to reason recently about why the economic recovery has been so anemic:
Liberal pundits were thrilled by a recent (non-peer-reviewed) blog post claiming that RomneyCare—the universal coverage program that Mitt Romney enacted in Massachusetts in 2006—has put a lid on skyrocketing health care costs. But as Shikha Dalmia observes, they shouldn’t pop the cork yet: The evidence shows neither that the declining costs will last nor that they are the result of the program. The truth is that RomneyCare is still not working.View this article
Boston – On Super Tuesday Eve about two dozen Ron Paul supporters are spread out across Dewey Square outside South Station in Boston holding a variety of Ron Paul signs and handing out pamphlets to commuters as they hurry to catch their train back to suburbia. Some of the activists engage commuters with Paul literature but most just hold their signs and encourage them to vote for Paul in the primary tomorrow.
This is the final organized Paul campaign event in Massachusetts before Super Tuesday. No phone calls, no canvassing: just holding signs outside of South Station so commuters can read them on their way home.
Joe Ureneck, a member of the Massachusetts Republican State Committee, said that his group made calls and did some door knocking but that the Dewey Square event helped too. “It’s traditional Boston politicking, it’s just another part of campaigning,” said Ureneck, 60, of Dorchester.
Sign waving and “sign bombing” are deeply woven into the culture of the Ron Paul movement, in a way that is very different from the campaigns of the remaining Republican candidates. Go to any place in the country that has a Ron Paul MeetUp Group and you are all but guaranteed to find an event listing for a sign wave at some prominent local intersection. It is a tactic that is popular with local campaigns for offices like selectman or school committee, where name recognition is a major issue. It's considered unusual by many for a presidential campaign.
“They have minimal effect on raising the name identification of a particular candidate but Ron Paul’s name does not need to be raised anymore among GOP primary voters. They all know who he is. Their focus should not be on name identification because it’s probably already 100 percent,” said longtime Massachusetts political strategist Rob Willington, a former executive director of the Mass GOP.
Willington was the chief architect of Scott Brown’s successful internet campaign in the 2010 special election to fill Ted Kennedy vacant US Senate seat.
“Yard signs are, mostly, a complete waste of time,” said Willington.
Another local political consultant, Lenny Alcivar, agreed.
“Yard signs and bumper stickers and signage are more important to volunteers and supporters than to the campaign itself. They are a measure of a campaign’s footprint but for the most part they matter more as bragging rights neighbor-to-neighbor than they do in getting votes,” said Alcivar.
Another potential problem with the signs used by the Paul supporters is that there are so many different kinds available. Unlike traditional supporters Paul backers have designed a plethora of signs and stickers for other supporters to use, often at their own expense. This has the potential to create a confusing message that may not reflect what the official campaign is trying to do.
“I don’t think you can manufacture victory or massive public appeal by putting your resources into those kinds of actions and rallies,” said Peter Ubertaccio, director of the Martin Institute at Stonehill College.
At the main entrance of South Station End the Fed Activist and Paul supporter Eric Bickford, 23, was busy handing out flyers to commuters as they were entering. He was not holding a sign but said that he thinks people like that part of campaigning because it is a way for them to feel like they are involved in the campaign.
“It’s easy to do. You just stand out and hold a sign. Get people to honk for you, it builds morale. If we want to get votes we need to get out there and door knock and actually talk to people, get face-to-face, door knock,” said Bickford, the union carpetner and West Roxbury native.
No, I am not making this up.
In the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., the Arlington County Housing Division is hosting in a happy hour called "Housing 4 Hipsters." This is a real event. That is actually happening. With the "4" in the title and everything.
The purpose? To help people of the hipster-American variety (presumably) discover ways to take advantage of the county's various housing assistance programs. Doug Myrick, an official with the Housing Division, tells Arlnow.com that the county is holding the event because, “We want people to understand there is housing assistance available across a wide range of incomes." Is it possible to take advantage of rent restrictions and/or housing subsidies ironically? Myrick also says that “when people see government assistance, they often think it must be for low income or they won’t qualify.” I can't imagine why anyone would assume that housing assistance would be limited to those with low-incomes. But at this point, I guess it's for everyone. Will hipsters still like housing assistance now that it's gone mainstream?
Or maybe the idea is to take insane, widely discredited housing policy ideas and make them retro-cool: The Housing Division website's event page—which exists because, as I cannot stress enough, this is an actual real thing—includes the following teaser: "Options include buying your first home with little as 1% down!" Because that's always worked out so well. Also, "There will be door prizes and complimentary refreshments." Apparently, it's not enough to merely subsidize housing for middle-class young professionals; we also have to bribe them into taking advantage of it.
At Forbes, Josh Barro sets expectations: "Phrases I expect will be heard at this event include 'it’s an obscure housing assistance program; you’ve probably never heard of it' and “I liked the old FHA mortgage qualification guidelines better.'"
As promised, today in a speech at Northwestern University Law School in Chicago. Attorney General Eric Holder attempted to explain why targeted killings of American citizens is legal. And judging by the miserable standards of this pro-transparency administration whose president accepts transparency awards in secret, the speech was something like progress.
But really, it was mostly Holder saying no, we're allowed to do this if the threat is really, really serious and we can't capture the individuals. And don't worry, the government is carefully reviewing this.
Holder spoke mostly broadly, mentioning the assassination of American citizen and radical cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki in passing. The Los Angeles Times noted that according to Holder, Awlaki was one of those people who "poses an imminent threat against the U.S, his capture is not feasible, and his slaying 'would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.'" Which is what happened in September.
As to the general legality of these (please don't call them) assassinations, here are some of Holder's more interesting comments:
Let me be clear: an operation using lethal force in a foreign country, targeted against a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces, and who is actively engaged in planning to kill Americans, would be lawful at least in the following circumstances: First, the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; second, capture is not feasible; and third, the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles....
[T]he Constitution does not require the President to delay action until some theoretical end-stage of planning – when the precise time, place, and manner of an attack become clear. Such a requirement would create an unacceptably high risk that our efforts would fail, and that Americans would be killed....
Some have argued that the President is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces. This is simply not accurate. “Due process” and “judicial process” are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process....
The Constitution’s guarantee of due process is ironclad, and it is essential – but, as a recent court decision makes clear, it does not require judicial approval before the President may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war – even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen.
That is not to say that the Executive Branch has – or should ever have – the ability to target any such individuals without robust oversight. Which is why, in keeping with the law and our constitutional system of checks and balances, the Executive Branch regularly informs the appropriate members of Congress about our counterterrorism activities, including the legal framework, and would of course follow the same practice where lethal force is used against United States citizens.
There's much to be uncomfortable over, especially vague reassurances like "robust oversight" and sketchy, stretchy condemnations like "associated forces." And really, did Holder say anything new? The executive branch believes it has this power, the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force may have granted it with its alarmingly broad scope for hunting down terrorists. We knew this already.
And it gets worse. According to the Los Angeles Times:
Holder did not mention the September slayings of Awlaki or Khan, or the reported slaying of Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, in a drone attack two weeks later. Nor did he discuss the Department of Justice Office of Legal Policy document giving the administration legal justification for the use of force. Indeed, he did not even acknowledge that such a document exists, although several organizations have filed suit to make it public.
Holder did not take questions from reporters after his remarks, and while he originally was going to answer questions from the law school audience, on Monday morning he abruptly canceled that plan.
The most frustrating part about this might just be how generous and transparent Obama's people think they are being by explaining this. But why bother with the speech at all if it's always going to come down to trust us, this is legal?
Every month University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologists John Christy and Roy Spencer report the latest global temperature trends from satellite data. Below are the newest data updated through February, 2012.
The 3rd order polynomial fit to the data (courtesy of Excel) is for entertainment purposes only, and should not be construed as having any predictive value whatsoever.
Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.13 C per decade
February temperatures (preliminary)
Global composite temp.: -0.12 C (about 0.22 degrees Fahrenheit) below 30-year average for February.
Northern Hemisphere: -0.01 C (about 0.02 degrees Fahrenheit) below 30-year average for February.
Southern Hemisphere: -0.22 C (about 0.40 degrees Fahrenheit) below 30-year average for February.
Tropics: -0.14 C (about 0.25 degrees Fahrenheit) below 30-year average for February.
The UAH release further notes:
A large bands of cooler than normal air girdled the globe from South America across the Pacific and from South America northeast across North Africa, Europe and central Asia in February, with the “coldest” temperatures in western Asia, according to Dr. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Compared to seasonal norms, the coolest spot on the globe in February was in Tajikistan, where the average temperature was a much as 4.7 C (about 8.5 degrees Fahrenheit) cooler than normal.
By comparison, the “warmest” spot was almost directly north of Tajikistan on the shore of the Arctic Ocean in central Russia around the Gulf of Ob. Warm is a relative term in northern Russia in February, but compared to seasonal norms the temperature there averaged 6.1 C (more than 11 degrees F) warmer than normal.
Personal note: This has been one of the more delightfully mild winters that I can remember in Virginia. That being said, we got four inches of snow earlier today. See the snow-covered daffodils in our backyard below:
The press and President Obama have been all over Rush Limbaugh for the words he used to criticize a Georgetown Law student, Sandra Fluke, who spoke on February 23 at a meeting of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. There’s been less attention paid, writes Ira Stoll, to the details of Ms. Fluke’s testimony, which, when you get into them, help explain why Mr. Limbaugh was worked up about the issue.View this article
- Midwestern Super Tuesday drama: It's Rick Santorum vs. Mitt Romney in Ohio as they battle for the state's 66 delicious delegates.
- About 20,000 angry Russians protested the new boss/old boss President Vladimir Putin; Riot police violently dispersed (and arrested dozens of) the several hundred who attempted to stay in Moscow's Pushkin Square.
- Israel Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu visited the White House to chat about Iran. Said President Obama, “I know that both the prime minister and I prefer to resolve this diplomatically." Said Netanyahu, we appreciate the love from the U.S., but Israel "must have the ability always to defend itself, by itself.”
- Connecticut Supreme Court rules that hunger-striking prisoners can be force-fed in order to save their lives.
- Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) calls for international air-strikes against Syria. Meanwhile NATO says they only hit military targets in Libya, but a U.N. panel begs to differ.
- Secure your tinfoil hat, stifle your Luddite-screams, and observe how ridiculously cool drone technology has become.
Today the jury in the federal obscenity trial of fetish filmmaker Ira Isaacs began considering whether his movies, which feature women eating (fake) feces and performing sex acts with (real) dogs, have enough artistic, political, or scientific value to render them nonfelonious. "It is pretty gross, what you watched," conceded Isaacs' lawyer, Roger Diamond, but "it does have artistic value. Not to everybody, but art is not always pleasing." Indeed, Isaacs argues that the disgust evoked by works such as Hollywood Scat Amateurs 7 and Japanese Doggie 3 Way is a crucial part of what makes them artistic. "My intent is to be a shock artist in the movies I made," he testified, "to challenge the viewer in thinking about art differently...to think about things they'd never thought about before." Similarly, Diamond argued that the films have political value as a protest against the governmernt's arbitrary limits on expression, illustrating the "reality that we may not have the total freedom the rest of the world thinks we have."
I will be impressed if Isaacs, who faces a possible penalty of 20 years in prison, can pull off this feat of legal jujitsu, transforming the very qualities that make his movies objectionable into their redeeming value—especially since at least some of the jurors (according to the Los Angeles Times) found the evidence against him literally unwatchable. But if the jurors want to blame someone for making them sit through this assault on their sensibilities, they should not blame Isaacs. They should blame the Justice Department, which initiated the case during the Bush administration, and the Supreme Court, which established the absurdly subjective test they are now supposed to apply. Will they take seriously Isaacs' references to Marcel Duchamp, Robert Rauschenberg, Kiki Smith, and Piero Manzoni, or will they dismiss his artistic name dropping as a desperate attempt to give his masturbation aids a high-minded purpose?
There is a third possibility, one that U.S. District Judge George H. King warned the jurors against: They could reject the very notion of sending people to prison for distributing sexual material, no matter how icky, produced by and for adults. (Let us ignore for the moment the canine performers in Japanese Doggie 3 Way, who apparently were adults but probably were not capable of consent.) AVN correspondent Mark Kernes reports that in his jury instructions King, who had worried aloud about the possibility of nullification while the jurors were outside the courtroom, was "careful to note that even if the jury disagreed with the law, it was still their duty to follow it." Nonsense.
Yes, this is the same obscenity case that was interrupted by the fuss over images on Judge Alex Kozinski's computer, a controversy that ultimately led to a mistrial. Go here for Reason's coverage of John Stagliano's 2010 obscenity trial, where the prosecutors did such a poor job that the judge dismissed the charges. The Obama administration, to the consternation of social conservatives, has said it plans to focus its obscenity efforts on cases involving children from now on.
Maryland’s requirement that residents show a “good and substantial reason” to get a handgun permit is unconstitutional, according to a federal judge’s opinion filed Monday.
States can channel the way their residents exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms, but because Maryland’s goal was to minimize the number of firearms carried outside homes by limiting the privilege to those who could demonstrate “good reason,” it had turned into a rationing system, infringing upon residents’ rights, U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg wrote.
“A citizen may not be required to offer a `good and substantial reason’ why he should be permitted to exercise his rights,” he wrote. “The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.”
Plaintiff Raymond Woollard obtained a handgun permit after fighting with an intruder in his Hampstead home in 2002, but was denied a renewal in 2009 because he could not show he had been subject to “threats occurring beyond his residence.” Woollard appealed, but was rejected by the review board, which found he hadn’t demonstrated a “good and substantial reason” to carry a handgun as a reasonable precaution. The suit filed in 2010 claimed that Maryland didn’t have a reason to deny the renewal and wrongly put the burden on Woollard to show why he still needed to carry a gun.
The Second Amendment Foundation sponsored the suit, and Woollard's lawyer was Second Amendment vindicator Alan Gura, who also won the Heller and McDonald suits at the Supreme Court that established our right to own commonly used weapons for self-defense in the home, against both federal and state encroachment. By moving the Second Amendment argument here beyond the home, this case promises to help expand Second Amendment rights even beyond the Heller and McDonald standard.
UPDATE: Thanks commenter Chris Brennan: The full decision.
Here's a characteristically engaging and disturbing vid from the folks at Vice. This time, they're sticking their noses into the Gaza Strip. Click above to watch and go here to see it in shorter episodes.
From their writeup:
In 2007 we tried and failed to get into Gaza through the Israeli-controlled Erez Crossing. Back then the rival Palestinian factions of Hamas and Fatah were engaged in a bloody war for control of this tiny strip of land. Hamas won. When the post-Mubarak government of Egypt decided to start letting small numbers of folks into Gaza through their Rafah Crossing, we knew it was our chance to finally get a rare glimpse of the embattled Gaza Strip and to see what life was like under the rule of Hamas.
Late last year, New York City property owner and landlord James Harmon asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the constitutionality of New York’s rent control and rent stabilization laws, arguing that the government’s actions deprive him of his property without providing just compensation as required by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Court hasn’t decided yet on whether or not it will take the case, though the justices have asked New York to respond to Harmon’s request that the case be heard. As we wait on the Supreme Court’s next move, reporter Jacob Gershman of The Wall Street Journal offers a closer look at the comfortable living arrangements that one of Harmon’s rent-stabilized tenants currently enjoys:
One of those tenants is Nancy Wing Lombardi, an executive recruiter who pays about $1,000 a month and has lived in her one-bedroom unit since 1976....
She is a vice president at Manhattan-based WTW Associates, a boutique executive search firm, and owns a second home near the shore in Southampton, where she spends weekends gardening and playing tennis.
The apartment next-door to Ms. Lombardi's isn't rent-regulated and goes for $2,650 a month.
"Contrary to popular myth, the rent stabilization law is not targeted to help the needy," the Harmons said in their Supreme Court petition. "The Harmons effectively have been financing the approximately $1,500 monthly mortgage payments on the Long Island home of one of their rent stabilized tenants."
The Daily Beast finds something untoward about the energy and intelligence of Ron Paul fans in the Republican Party, with a headline "How Ron Paul's Minions Plan to Hijack the GOP Convention." Shocking details of the crime-in-progress, from Georgia where Ron Paul people know the GOP rules in ways others do not:
The Paul campaign has rigorously organized its volunteers to attend the mass precinct meetings that took place all over Georgia. It has been instructing supporters on parliamentary procedure and state Republican rules. It is also giving advice on convention etiquette....
A Paul supporter in my hometown of Warner Robins, GA described how the strategy played out at Houston County's mass precinct meeting last Saturday. (Video of the meeting is available here.) The story he tells, and one I’ve corroborated with other witnesses, is one of chaos. The GOP county leadership is aware of the strength of the Paul wave, but handcuffed by state party rules designed to bolster the party by allowing large numbers of people to get involved.
These meetings have not always been well attended, so it becomes common practice for names to be added to delegate lists, even if those people are not present at the meeting. The low attendance coupled with the openness to adding random names to delegate lists leaves them vulnerable to insurgencies like Paul's. Knowing this, the Paul campaign had distributed lists of local supporters’ names to attendees. It instructed supporters to fill in the vacant slots with loyal names.
My friend described the disruption that followed:Near the end of the caucusing it became known that names were being nominated as delegates who were not present at the meeting. This practice was encouraged by the Ron Paul campaign which has made it clear that they are running a delegate strategy. When the chairperson caught word of this, confusion ensued. He instructed everyone that this was not permissible under the rules and the crowd shouted back. However this is acceptable and the Ron Paul campaign had even directed its delegates to the state rulebook for proof.
Members of the county leadership, especially those with “Newt Gingrich 2012” stickers, did not have a pleasant and supportive attitude during this process. It also became clear to me at this point that the people who knew the rules were Ron Paul supporters. There were dozens of people, mainly young and middle aged, who reacted to this controversy exactly as the Ron Paul delegates were trained to do.
I have seen a few comments about this event afterwards, and one specifically complained that the Ron Paul backers attempted to hijack the event and they caused all the problems. From what I saw the Ron Paul supporters were very close to a majority if they did not have one outright at the meeting. It is my understanding that this event was the other way around, the county GOP leadership attempted to hijack the meeting away from the majority.
Members of the GOP may try and find other ways to block Paul's supporters, but their options are limited when the Paul campaign uses each state's Republican Party rules against it. The evidence suggests that events like this one in central Georgia are playing out all across the nation.
*Meanwhile, Paul came in a distant second in the Washington state caucus straw vote on Saturday. A Ron Paul supporter has a first-person account of would-be caucusers being turned away in droves in Benton County, Washington, with the Tacoma News-Tribune's site reporting 1,500 turned away.
As the comment thread in this Politico account (which assumed against evidence in the headline that Benton County was Santorum country) makes clear, supporters of all candidates were turned away, and so there's no way to know if they would have voted statistically differently enough from those who did vote to change the county's results from a Romney victory. Still, one more blow to the integrity of the caucus process after troubles in Iowa and Maine both lead to state GOP chairs stepping down.
Meanwhile, Associated Press reports someone was trying to quell voter turnout in Washington with robocalls announcing that the whole caucus has been called off.
A video of Ron Paul people announcing their own collected data of the actual delegate counts coming out of a bunch of Washington precinct meetings.
*Also, a video of a county GOP convention in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, in which Ron Paul people fight back (and win) over a bunch of Paul supporters whose delegate credentials were being temporarily denied. Oklahoma's Tuttle Times with a detailed account of how the whole precinct-to-district-convention delegate selection process works in that state.
*Ron Paul tells Face the Nation he has hopes for winning a majority of delegates Super Tuesday in caucus polls in Alaska, North Dakota, and Idaho.
Regardless of tomorrow, the Detroit Free Press argues that the GOP race will be a live contest through to California.
My forthcoming book, Ron Paul's Revolution.
Last month 358 inmates died in a Honduran prison fire when firefighters couldn't find a guard to unlock inmates' cells. Many of those inmates had not been tried. Some of them had not even been charged with a crime. One of those inmates, 20-year-old Nelson Avila-Lopez, was supposed to be at home in Los Angeles with his mother and sisters. Instead, he died last month in Comayagua Prison because of an ICE processing error.
California's KPCC has the devastating story:
Nelson Avila-Lopez came to Los Angeles when he was 16. Gang members in his native Honduras had been trying to recruit him for years, so he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in order to be reunited with his mother, who was living in Los Angeles.
But Avila-Lopez could not escape the gang affiliation nor his illegal status, and last September, by then 20 years old, he was detained by U.S. federal immigration authorities and processed for deportation. Avila-Lopez's lawyer, warning that his client could face harm if he was returned to Honduras, filed a motion to reopen his case. On Sept. 30, Avila-Lopez was automatically granted a "stay" — a temporary reprieve to his deportation, pending a judge's review of his case.
“We then took that order, sent it in to the deportation officer that was in charge of his deportation, talked to him over the phone, confirmed that he received the order and that he wasn’t going to send him out," said Joseph Huprich, Avila-Lopez’s attorney, who does pro bono work for Honduran immigrants in Los Angeles. "That was the last thing that we heard until we got a call from the mother saying ‘He was just sent out last night.’”
On Oct. 19, 2011, two-and-a-half weeks after the immigration court had halted his deportation, Avila-Lopez was taken to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility in Arizona. The next day he was sent back to Honduras.
Because he had been suspected of gang involvement in his home country, he was immediately jailed at the Comayagua Prison. As the months went on, Huprich’s law firm tried to figure out why Avila-Lopez had been deported despite the judge’s stay.
On Feb. 14 a fire erupted at Comayagua Prison. The cause is still a mystery, but what is known is that the prison was at double its capacity and that only six guards were on duty that day.
Olympia Snowe has served in the Senate as a Republican for 17 years, but it's never been clear what, exactly, she stands for, except perhaps the right to bask eternally in meaningless but highly Senatorial deliberations. Snowe is a longtime favorite of Washington's bipartisanship-first crowd, and has maintained her image accordingly. The most consistent feature of this crowd, besides a constant willingness to lament in extremely high-profile media outlets how little influence it has on the national debate, is a prioritization of cross-party consensus to the exclusion of all else, including substantive policy preferences.
So it is with Snowe's Washington Post op-ed explaining her decision to retire. Snowe is saddened that 200 years after its founding "the greatest deliberative body in history is not living up to its billing." It "routinely jettisons regular order" and "serially legislates by political brinkmanship." It has become more like a parliamentary body, where legislators merely toe the party line, which is not, Snowe says, what the nation's architects had in mind. "In fact," she writes, "the Senate’s requirement of a supermajority to pass significant legislation encourages its members to work in a bipartisan fashion."
Although the dreaded B-word appears only twice, the Beltway-utopian ideal of bipartisanship runs throughout the piece, with Snowe later arguing that playing nice with members of opposing parties can lead to political rewards. "For change to occur," she says, "our leaders must understand that there is not only strength in compromise, courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-building — but also a political reward for following these tenets."
But what about better policy? There, Snowe has less to say: Aside from a brief complaint about the Senate's ongoing failure to pass a budget (which she treats mostly as a failure symbolic of the lack of consensus), she makes no mention of any particular policy agenda, or the substantive choices that legislators must make, indicating only that she would prefer that whatever policies are enacted, they are passed with the support of both parties. Snowe's piece is a near-parody of the inside-Washington bipartisanship fetish, and a remarkably pure defense of Senatorial power and prerogative as goods unto themselves; it's process over policy, appearance over results. It's empty of substance, and proudly so. "I certainly don’t have all the answers," she admits. I'm not sure she has any answers at all.
John Walsh, the U.S. attorney for Colorado, finally has clarified which medical marijuana providers in that state should worry about trouble with the feds: all of them. Two months ago Walsh told 23 dispensaries located within 1,000 feet of a school they had to close or face raids, forfeiture, and prosecution. At least some of those dispensaries were complying with Colorado law, which has a general rule against operating within 1,000 feet of a school but allows local governments to modify that restiction and grandfathers dispensaries that existed before the state started issuing licenses. So it was already clear that Walsh, contrary to Attorney General Holder's repeated assurances on this point, was not prepared to let state law determine whether a dispensary can operate without federal harassment. But when it turned out that one of those 23 dispensaries was near a school building that was not used for teaching, it was taken off the list. That decision fanned the hope that Walsh would stick to enforcing his 1,000-foot rule. Last week, A.P. reports, Walsh stomped on that hope (emphasis added):
U.S. Attorney John Walsh sent a letter Friday to a lawyer representing medical marijuana dispensaries, saying safe harbor doesn't exist for such shops because marijuana remains illegal under federal law....
Walsh said in the new letter that it is at his office's discretion to take enforcement action against any and all medicinal marijuana dispensaries....
[Walsh said] advising clients that there is a safe harbor is "incorrect and untruthful, and would mislead them, factually and legally."
Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said there are other factors that can close down shops like unlawful use or possession of a firearm and having amounts of marijuana not in compliant with state and local law....
Dorschner said it's not possible to answer whether a shop in compliance with state rules and regulations and not located near a school would still face any trouble.
It's true, of course, that marijuana is prohibited for all uses by the federal Controlled Substances Act and that, under Gonzales v. Raich, U.S. attorneys have the authority to prosecute people who supply marijuana to patients, even in states that, like Colorado, explicitly allow such distribution. What Holder (and his boss) promised was that federal prosecutors would nevertheless use their discretion to avoid a conflict between the federal ban and state policy. One searches Walsh's position in vain for any hint of such forbearance.
“Part of the way African Americans were kept as second class citizens in America was by denying them access to guns,” says Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America, "I think America is a violent society not because of our guns, but because of our culture."
Winkler sat down with Reason.tv's Tracy Oppenheimer to "tell the amazing story of America's complicated history with guns" and share his revelations about the founding fathers, the NRA and even Ron Paul.
Approximately 5.45 minutes.
Shot by Paul Detrick and Zach Weissmueller; edited by Tracy Oppenheimer
Scroll down for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube Channel to receive automatic notifications when new material goes live.
The MSM will try and keep audience interest in the Republican horserace alive – and its ratings up -- by spinning a post-Super Tuesday narrative of it “ain’t over yet.” Headlines like the one in yesterday’s Detroit Free Press “Super Tuesday stakes are high—but the battle is far from over”—will remain typical.
Don’t believe it. Unless the polls are totally flubbing it, the outcome will be clear tomorrow. And, like it or not, Mitt Romney will be the nominee.
His unexpected and resounding weekend victory in Washington (a state where Ron Paul had hoped to stage his first primary win), coming on the heels of wins in Arizona and Michigan, has given him a clear path to the nomination. What’s more, after tomorrow, he will definitely have Massachusetts, Vermont and of course Virginia – a state where Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are not even on the ballot – in the bag. He is also likely to win Idaho, which has a heavy Mormon presence. He might lose the popular vote in Ohio, although, right now, the RCP average is giving him a very slight edge, a remarkable turnaround given that Santorum was several points ahead just two days ago. But he’ll win the delegate race regardless because, thanks to Santorum’s organizational incompetence, Santorum is not even on the ballot in nine Congressional districts, automatically disqualifying him from nearly a third of the state’s 66 delegates. All of this adds up to five of the 10 Super Tuesday contests going for Romney tomorrow.
What's more, some polls show he’s pulling ahead of Santorum in Tennessee, meaning that right now the only sure-shot win for Santorum is Oklahoma and for Newt Gingrich, Georgia, his “home” state. Incidentally, instead of resenting Gingrich’s Super Pac backer Sheldon Aldensen for keeping Gingrich alive, Romney should thank him. That’s because Gingrich’s presence in the race pulls votes away from Santorum who otherwise would certainly have won most of Georgia’s 76 delegates, the highest of any state, gaining much more staying power.
Despite all this, Romney does not have a sure-shot majority as of now. He needs 1,144 delegates to finally win the nomination, but many of the remaining primaries are in the winner-take-all Southern states, as opposed to the proportional primaries that are being held tomorrow. Indeed, only 437 delegates -- or about a quarter of the 2,286 total – will be in play tomorrow. About 67 percent of the delegates will remain on the table. And so Santorum and Gingrich could stay in the race in an attempt to deny Romney a majority, leading to a brokered convention whose prospects some in the media keep pounding.
But the problem is that neither one of them has a prayer of winning a majority themselves. Gingrich will have to raise funding to play the spoiler at the convention, not a winning pitch for too many donors. Therefore, even if he makes a decent showing in states other than Georgia tomorrow, his funding will likely dry up, forcing him to drop out. Meanwhile, Santorum, who, among other weaknesses, does not have an organizational structure on the ground to capitalize on his popularity with the GOP electorate, will sooner or later have to succumb to pressure from party elders -- not to mention a nice offer of a spot in the Romney administration. Bear in mind that Santorum’s day job right now is at something called the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington D.C.!
Ron Paul of course is in it for the long haul, trying to gather as many delegates as he can before the convention. But given that the prospects of a brokered convention are remote, the question is to what end? (Not that Paul would have had any interest in playing kingmaker if there were a brokered convention. Engaging in the kind of political horsetrading that other politicians do would potentially destroy his credibility with a movement he has so painstakingly built.) Gingrich and Santorum are enough of a presence in the Republican Party to be guaranteed very respectable treatment at the convention in June. Paul, I think, is trying to gather delegates to gain similar respect. But will he? Or will be be treated like the GOP’s stepchild as he always has been?
To get an answer to that question, read the opinion section of The Daily tomorrow – or watch this space for a link.
Colorado's new special DEA agent in charge (emphasis on "special") told the Denver Post late last month that medical marijuana is dangerous because it can cause water damage in houses where children live.
“By federal law, marijuana is illegal,” Barbra Roach told the Post. “There is no medical proof it has any benefit. People are not taking into account what can happen to those who are growing it. There are homes with mold and water damage in the hundreds of thousands and there are children in there too.”
The drug war truly does claim a new casualty every day.
“That’s just a very strange thing to say. No doubt that some idiots have flooded their basements growing marijuana. No doubt that some idiots have flooded their basements growing tomatoes. I stained my tiles in my living room last year growing narcissus. Ok. So for this we need a federal cop busting people?”
“The fact that an opponent of medical marijuana uses arguments like ‘it causes water damage to homes’ shows how bankrupt that side is of facts."
Lucy Steigerwald on Colorado's raid-happy SWAT teams.
In late January, President Barack Obama made one of his occasional forays into a simulated social-media free-for-all, taking pre-submitted questions from the common people on Google+. A 29-year-old Texas Republican mother of two asked the president about the wisdom of immigration visas for high-skilled workers, given that her husband, a semiconductor engineer, was unemployed. “If you send me your husband’s résumé, I’d be interested in finding out exactly what’s happening right there,” Obama told her.
Barack Obama is the boss of more than 4 million employees. Yet this type of micromanaging, even of people he doesn’t (yet) employ, has become a staple of his presidency. But as Editor in Chief Matt Welch notes, Obama is just trafficking in symbolism. After all, if Obama can really get you get a job, why can't he produce a federal budget?View this article
Your credit card company may have forgiven that debt, but the IRS hasn't. USA Today reports on some sunshiny recession news, if you are an IRS agent:
Debt that is canceled or forgiven is considered taxable income, something many borrowers don't realize until they receive a 1099-C tax form from their lender. TheIRS projects that creditors will send taxpayers 6.4 million 1099-Cs in 2012, up from 3.9 million in 2010.
The increase likely reflects the rise in credit card defaults during the economic downturn, says Gerri Detweiler, personal finance expert for Credit.com. Moody's Investor Service estimates that the nation's six largest credit card companies wrote off more than $75 billion in uncollectible balances in 2009 and 2010.....
Why, the taxes due on that $75 billion might be able to pay for our entire domestic law enforcement portion of our drug war! (Or any number of other damaging, stupid federal initiatives.)
Taxpayers who receive a 1099-C, which is also submitted to the IRS, are liable for the tax bill unless they can prove that the debt was discharged in bankruptcy or that they were insolvent when the debt was canceled, says Jennifer MacMillan, an enrolled agent in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Shelley Cartier, 48, of Austin, recently received a 1099-C for a credit card debt that was more than 20 years old. Cartier says she filed for bankruptcy in the early 1990s but no longer has the paperwork to prove the debt was discharged. Numerous calls to the financial institution have gotten her nowhere, she says.
"I can't file my taxes until I get it cleared up," Cartier says.
Making matters worse, a significant number of 1099-Cs contain errors, says IRS Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson. Treasury regulations encourage financial institutions to issue 1099-Cs for debts if they haven't tried to collect them in at least 36 months, even if the debts haven't been forgiven, she says. In other cases, taxpayers have received duplicate 1099-Cs for the same debt, she says.
The number of 1099-Cs could rise even more if a tax exemption for canceled mortgage debt expires at the end of this year. Legislation enacted in 2007 excludes mortgage debt on a principal residence that was forgiven as a result of a loan modification, short sale or foreclosure. If the exemption isn't extended, thousands of homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth could be on the hook for taxes....
Government: Always there to help the little guy.
Today's Washington Post has a pretty good article on the continuing public fallout from the Fakegate scandal in which global warming activist Peter Gleick phished documents about its global warming counter-campaign from the free-market Heartland Institute. The in paper edition, the subhed reads:
Climate change researchers put their credibility on the line when frustration turns to politicization.
The article features a nice quotation characterizing the motivations behind Gleick's actions from climate catastrophe skeptic Princeton University physicist Will Happer who is chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute:
"If you are saving the planet, along with a good funding source, the ends apparently justify the means."
*Based on the claim that one of the more incendiary documents revealed by Gleick is an alleged cut-and-paste job.
Here's a New York Times story worth burning one of your 20-free-per-month limit for.
Last week the Gray Lady published this story on page A19 with the headline "Saudi Arabia May Be Tied To 9/11, 2 Ex-Senators Say."
Maybe it's just me, but I'm surprised the story hasn't gotten bigger play (indeed, I didn't even note it until a recent conversation with former Reason staffer and inveterate Middle East watcher Charles Paul Freund).
From the Times:
“I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia,” former Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, said in an affidavit filed as part of a lawsuit brought against the Saudi government and dozens of institutions in the country by families of Sept. 11 victims and others. Mr. Graham led a joint 2002 Congressional inquiry into the attacks.
His former Senate colleague, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat who served on the separate 9/11 Commission, said in a sworn affidavit of his own in the case that “significant questions remain unanswered” about the role of Saudi institutions. “Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued,” Mr. Kerrey said.
Graham's and Kerrey's statements are in affidavits for a lawsuit against the Saudi government that has been wending its way through American courts since 2002. This is pretty stunning stuff, according to the Times' gloss:
Unanswered questions include the work of a number of Saudi-sponsored charities with financial links to Al Qaeda, as well as the role of a Saudi citizen living in San Diego at the time of the attacks, Omar al-Bayoumi, who had ties to two of the hijackers and to Saudi officials, Mr. Graham said in his affidavit.
Still, Washington has continued to stand behind Saudi Arabia publicly, with the Justice Department joining the kingdom in trying to have the lawsuits thrown out of court on the grounds that the Saudis are protected by international immunity.
Graham and Kerrey are not nutjobs. Both were hip-deep in government investigations of the 9/11 attacks, which were largely carried out almost exclusively by Saudi nationals. As Yaroslav Trofimov documented in his excellent 2007 book, The Seige of Mecca, after the 1979 occupation of Islam's holiest city by radicals, the Saudi government essentially bought off domestic fundamentalists by helping to promote their agenda abroad. According to a Wikileaks dump from 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton averred that donors in Saudi Arabia were "the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide." That's not the same as saying that a "direct line" exists between the government of Saudi Arabia and some of the 9/11 terrorists, but it surely deserves more scrutiny from the press than it's been getting.
A New Mexico state trooper is on paid administrative leave after being arrested last week for coercing prostitutes to have sex with him. Timothy Carlson first came to the attention of the Albquerque PD vice squad last spring, when they caught him in his car with a prostitute. According to KRQL13, Carlson had his gun and badge on him when he was stopped last year. Why he wasn't arrested then is a mystery, though the stop did prove to be the start of a nearly year-long investigation:
Investigators followed Carlson and in one incident they say the agent allegedly hi-jacked another man's date with a prostitute.
The prostitute turned out to be a confidential informant for APD. She told police Carlson pulled her and the John over last month, wearing his badge and displaying his gun. She says Carlson told the John to leave and offered her a ride home.
She says Carlson threatened to arrest her if she didn't sleep with him.
Carlson picked up the same prostitute Friday night, and that's when he was arrested.
He's now on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation by the Department of Public Safety.
He faces extortion, bribery, public corruption and rape charges.
Advocates of decriminalizing prositution often point out that sex workers suffer appalling violence and extortion at the hands of their managers and clients. We should add "law enforcement officers" to the list of risks sex workers face, and not just because of Carlson.
A Raleigh police officer accused of having sex with an underage prostitute made an initial appearance in court Friday.
Jason Brandon Hoyle, 34, of the 8600 block of Maryel Way in Raleigh, is charged with promoting prostitution of a minor and participating in the prostitution of a minor. He is free on $100,000
Hoyle is accused of paying a 17-year-old prostitute $140 for sex at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott on Cedar Creek Road on Feb. 7.
Police allege the girl stole a Raleigh police-owned laptop computer, an Apple iPhone 4 and $800 after the encounter. She has been charged with solicitation for prostitution, larceny and possessing stolen property.
(Note that the minor is also being prosecuted.)
Police reports from an internal investigation of convicted rapist and disgraced ex-cop Anthony Rollins paint the picture of a sex fiend who prowled for women long before he was taken off duty and arrested.
The reports come from the Anchorage Police Department's files on Rollins and were filed in court Friday by a lawyer for women suing the 13-year veteran officer and the city that employed him. The lawsuits say Rollins' employers should have known he posed a threat to women after catching him having sex while on duty.
Christine Schleuss, a lawyer for five of the nine women, is seeking more information from the internal investigation reports because the summaries provided to her are incomplete, she said in the Friday filing.
A former Bakersfield police officer has been arrested for allegedly having sex with prostitutes while on duty.
Albert Smith Jr. resigned Tuesday and was arrested Friday on a warrant charging him with seven counts of engaging in acts of prostitution, according to police.
"For the police department, and everybody involved down here, this is very disappointing," Bakersfield Police Department Chief Greg Williamson said.
This item only made it into the Washington Times' briefs. The short story had these details: Colin Hatch, a 23-year-old Capitol Heights church deacon gets sentenced to 14 years in prison for sexually assaulting a DC prostitute at gunpoint.
Pretty bad. Here's what they left out: Hatch was two weeks from taking a new job as a Baltimore City Police Officer. And his method of assault was particularly horrific.
According to a sentencing memorandum released by the D.C. U.S. Attorney's Office, Hatch picked up his victim one night last November, near the intersection of 10th and K Streets NW. She got in his car, they agreed on a price ($100, for sex) and drove somewhere more private. The victim told police Hatch seemed like a nice guy at first. But when she climbed into the back seat, he turned mean. He pulled out a gun and demanded oral sex. From the memorandum:
"Once he became erect, the defendant forced [the victim] to engage in vaginal sex. During the course of the sexual assault, the defendant lost his erection and forced [the victim] to perform oral sex on him a second time so that he could regain his erection."
George Washington University Professor Ron Weitzer made the case for legalizing sex work in Reason last year.
At this point, there aren't many folks left who're still buying the Obama administration's increasingly pathetic promises to increase government transparency. President Obama still talks a good game on the issue, but in practice, the White House's approach to make government more open looks more like the installation of thick lead shielding. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation's David Sobel tells Politico's Josh Gerstein, “despite the positive rhetoric that has come from the White House and the attorney general, that guidance has not been translated into real world results in actual cases. … Basically, the reviews are terrible.”
But it's still kind of impressive to see the number and variety of ways in which parts of the Obama administration have block or frustrated transparency efforts. Gerstein delivers a highlight (lowlight?) reel of the worst offenses, including multiple prosecutions of whistleblowers, meager compliance from various agencies, and lengthy stalling tactics at the Office of Management and Budget.
The White House's defense? Well, Obama received an award for his transparency efforts (the presentation of which was closed to the press and not noted on the president's daily schedule). And his administration is working diligently to make information more accessible. A spokesperson tells Politico that "federal agencies have gone to great efforts to make government more transparent and more accessible than ever." Gerstein also reports that "administration lawyers are aggressively fighting FOIA requests at the agency level and in court — sometimes on Obama’s direct orders."
You may recall from the 20 GOP presidential debates this season that front-runner Mitt Romney is fond of talking about his signature Romneycare initiative in Massachusetts with formulations such as this:
I've made it very clear [....] this is something that was crafted for Massachusetts. It would be wrong to adopt this as a nation.
You may also recall, through our coverage here at Reason, that this claim is a provable lie. The latest evidence for which is this July 2009 Romney op-ed in USA Today that's been making the rounds. Headline (emphasis mine): "Mr. President, what's the rush? Obama could learn a thing or two about health care reform from Massachusetts. One, time is not the enemy. Two, neither are the Republicans."
Relevant section, with my bolding:
For health care reform to succeed in Washington, the president must finally do what he promised during the campaign: Work with Republicans as well as Democrats.
Massachusetts also proved that you don't need government insurance. Our citizens purchase private, free-market medical insurance. There is no "public option." With more than 1,300 health insurance companies, a federal government insurance company isn't necessary. It would inevitably lead to massive taxpayer subsidies, to lobbyist-inspired coverage mandates and to the liberals' dream: a European-style single-payer system. To find common ground with skeptical Republicans and conservative Democrats, the president will have to jettison left-wing ideology for practicality and dump the public option.
Our experience also demonstrates that getting every citizen insured doesn't have to break the bank. First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages "free riders" to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others. This doesn't cost the government a single dollar. Second, we helped pay for our new program by ending an old one -- something government should do more often. The federal government sends an estimated $42 billion to hospitals that care for the poor: Use those funds instead to help the poor buy private insurance, as we did.
The unearthed op-ed is being greeted as some kind of revelation, but it really isn't; all you have to do is read the GOP presidential debate transcripts from 2007-08 and you'll see plenty of examples of the candidate touting Romneycare as a template for the federal government. Here's how Peter Suderman wrote about it in his recent must-read cover profile of the man, "Consultant in Chief":
During his first presidential primary campaign, Romney enthusiastically touted the plan's national possibilities. "We have to have our citizens insured, and we're not going to do that by tax exemptions, because the people that don't have insurance aren't paying taxes," he said at an Iowa debate in August 2007. "What you have to do is what we did in Massachusetts. Is it perfect? No. But we say, let's rely on personal responsibility, help people buy their own private insurance, get our citizens insured, not with a government takeover, not with new taxes needed, but instead with a free-market-based system that gets all of our citizens in the system. No more free rides. It works."
In October of that year, Romney told the Republican Jewish Coalition: "I think we'll be successful nationwide. My plan, by the way, allows every citizen in America to get health insurance." Asked by CNN's John King at the time whether RomneyCare was a good model for the nation, he responded with a big grin, "Well, I think so."
These days, he thinks not. In an October 2011 debate on CNN, Romney insisted, despite evidence to the contrary, that "in the last campaign I was asked, 'Is this something you would have the whole nation do?' And I said no."
Impossible, you say? At least the American DEA does not claim to be infallible:
In an interview to Arabic daily Arrayah, [Qatar DEA Director Colonel Ibrahim Issa al-Buainain] stressed that Qatari anti-drug law includes deterrent penalties that may go up to life sentence and even capital punishment. “So it does not need modifications for the time being.”
“It is not possible to make mistakes while apprehending suspects because the anti-drug squad always initiates action based on accurate information gained through very delicate investigations. Moreover, the public prosecution does not give us permission to arrest a suspect except when it is certain about the accuracy and seriousness of the investigations,” said Colonel al-Buainain.
“Drug cases depend on a series of procedures. The annulment of one of these procedures might annul the whole case. Therefore, we seek high levels of accuracy in investigations to leave no gaps. Thus it is very rarely that an accused is acquitted or proven innocent by a lawyer,” he said.
Qatar's practice of executing drug traffickers is one that Newt Gingrich wanted to adopt when he was serving in the House.
Rutland, Vt.—“You know what sucks about this winter? There’s been little snow and the ground is hard making it really difficult to put yard signs in the ground,” says Steven Howard.
Howard and a group of Ron Paul supporters are taking a break from canvasing Rutland neighborhoods to put up a massive Paul sign on a vacant house owned by a local supporter. As soon as Howard detaches the two-part sign big fluffy snowflakes start falling from the sky at a pretty rapid clip. I put my Red Sox winter cap on to cover my head.
“How do you think we’ll do this year?” one of the volunteers asks.
“I’ll be happy if we make the playoffs, get a wild card spot. The divison is out of the question,” I answer.
The Paul effort in Vermont has a similar attitude. Paul supporters recognize that it's unlikely they will win the state but they still believe they have a chance to be competitive. In order for Paul to get any delegates in the Green Mountain State on Super Tuesday, he needs to crack 20 percent statewide according to Vermont Republican Party rules. Howard, an attorney and one of the main Paul organizers in the state, is taking every step he can to make sure that happens and to improve on Paul's dismal third-place Vermont finish in 2008.
After setting up the massive sign, Howard and his wife, Maria, head back to the parking lot outside the Godnick Adult Center to meet up with other volunteers Howard organized to walk neighborhoods earlier in the day. Most had positive responses to share and were done for the day but Howard and Vietenam veteran John Kennedy, 66, decided to go one more street before the day was over. They split the street and conducted what they called “knock and run” canvassing, an abbreviated form of door-to-door campaigning. “I think we’ve hit probably two-thirds of Rutland already,” says Howard after briefly talking to a voter and handing her a flyer.
Paul supporters have divided the state into northern and southern regions, with Jessica Bernier taking the northern half of the state and Howard taking the southern portion of the state. While these grassroots efforts have been aided by the formal Paul campaign’s recent ad buys in the state, for the most part Howard and Bernier have handled all of this on their own.
“They started giving us lists last Thursday and we were into Voter Tracker by the end of the week. It's good to have because it gives you a starting point when you are canvasing but we don't have any ID'd Ron Paul voters in this state right now, so we have no way to run a true Get Out The Vote effort,” Bernier says.
“I did way more canvasing in New Hampshire than I have in Vermont because we had more lists there. It’s a totally different animal, a totally different demographic here. We’re much more liberal and much more libertarian here,” she added.
The Paul campaign's official coordinators from New Hampshire, Jordan Brown and Jared Chaicoine, have been active in Vermont since the end of efforts in New Hampshire, much to the surprise of Howard and Bernier. Both Vermont activists said that they did not expect the official Paul campaign to get involved in Vermont at all, but are certainly happy with the campaign's contributions.
“It’s been a total surprise, we were thinking about this back in October. We were not counting on them coming in and helping us,” says Howard.
In 2008, soon-to-be Republican nominee John McCain won the state with 71 percent of the vote. Mike Huckabee and Paul finished far behind with 14 percent and 6 percent, respectively. The only current polling data available on Vermont shows Mitt Romney with 34 percent, Rick Santorum with 27 percent, Paul with 14 percent, and Newt Gingrich with 10 percent.
Howard is optimistc about Paul's chances on Super Tuesday and thinks he will definitely hit 20 percent.
"I think there's a chance he could take the state," he says.
Correction: This post has been updated with a quote from Bernier on Paul's GOTV efforts in Vermont.
Tim Carney has a must-read col up at the Washington Examiner. It's about how Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) just can't hide his desire to control how we all should live our lives.
When asked about contraception [in a GOP debate], which Santorum and the Catholic Church hold to be destructive of marriage and family, Santorum replied, "You know, here's the difference between me and the Left, and they don't get this. Just because I'm talking about it doesn't mean I want a government program to fix it. That's what they do. That's not what we do."
So far, so good, suggests Carney. One of the major points of libertarian political philosophy is to shrink the size of state-sanctioned coercion. Libertarians can get along with anyone pretty much, as long as they're not forcing you to behave a certain way.
Santorum's debate answer hit the conservative sweet spot -- the moral law should guide our personal actions, and individual liberty should guide our political decisions. But a few moments later, Santorum showed he didn't really believe it. When Ron Paul pressed Santorum on his votes for federal family planning funding, Santorum explained his response: "I said, well, if you're going to have Title X funding, then we're going to create something called Title XX, which is going to provide funding for abstinence-based programs."
Sure enough, if you drill down on Santorum's record, he frequently thinks that problems of personal morality do merit a federal response. Nowhere in Article I, Section 8 does the Constitution authorize Congress to teach kids to forswear sex before marriage. Nor is Santorum's proposed federal funding of crisis pregnancy centers a legitimate federal function. Sure, the Left hits first in the culture war by imposing their morality, but that doesn't mean the correct response is subsidized conservatism.
For libertarian conservatives such as Carney, this is enough to drive a person mad. And with good reason:
St. Augustine wisely asked "what does it really matter to a man whose days are numbered what government he must obey, so long as he is not compelled to act against God or his conscience?" This ought to be the Right's threshold in the culture wars. More often than not, in the United States these days, it's the secular Left imposing its morality on the religious Right....
An alliance between libertarians and conservatives is natural and right today. But Santorum has not only behaved as if he wants to drive the libertarians away, he has openly stated so -- repeatedly....
Increasing the size of government, even in the name of a more moral society, simply gives the Left more weapons to turn on the Right in the culture war -- Obamacare is the perfect example.
I'm less convinced than Carney that Santorum doesn't harbor an interest in squelching the sales of contraceptives. Last fall, long before the current flap, he said that if he was president, he'd jawbone the nation from the bully pulpit about the "dangers of contraception," which is more than a bit discomfiting.
In any case, it is stunning how quickly Republican candidates and proxies such as Rush "I Like to Watch" Limbaugh have managed to FUBAR the first obvious example of how health-care reform is going to invade every nook and cranny of our private lives like a slowly leaking bottle of K-Y Intense spreading over the contents of a handbag.
In a month's time, we've gone from discussing the right of conscience to the cost of law students' contraception bills to what a pathetic jerk Rush Limbaugh and by extension all multiply-married GOP men really are.
As Jacob Sullum has pointed out re: Rubbergate, it just ain't a difficult concept to grasp that reproductive freedom doesn't mean the freedom to charge your lifestyle to somebody else's credit card. That conservative Republicans seem incapable of making and sticking to that basic principle is disturbing for any of us who believe that laws should be designed to facilitate social peace rather than ram one-size-fits-all life choices on all of us.
- In a speech to law school students, Eric Holder will outline the rationale for assassinating Americans overseas.
- Romney and Santorum tied in Ohio.
- USDA to buy 7 million pounds of altered meat (that isn't even up to Taco Bell's standards) for school lunch program.
- SEIU co-opts Occupy.
- Could NFL's bounty scandal make its way to the courts?
- "For one brief moment, Rick Santorum was the ideal Republican candidate for 2012, the perfect consonance of Don't-Tread-On-Me libertarianism and traditional cultural conservatism."
New at Reason.tv: "Milton & Rose Friedman's Legacy of School Reform"
In the Washington Examiner, Glenn Reynolds cogitates on Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler's important new book Abundance: The Future is Better than You Think:
As recounted by Pliny the Elder, a goldsmith proudly displayed to the Roman Emperor Tiberius a shiny plate he’d made from a new metal extracted from clay (aluminum) using a secret method only he understood.
The emperor was indeed impressed: He saw this new shiny metal as a possible threat to the value of his large gold and silver stockpiles, so instead of rewarding the goldsmith, he had him beheaded....
Today we see the motion picture and recording industries threatened by technology, and using lawsuits and legislation, rather than the headsman’s axe.
But the pattern is the same: Technology is a disruptive force, and the first instinct of a ruling class is to take control, because any such disruption, however good it might be for humanity at large, is a threat to their own power.
Over the past couple of centuries, things have gotten better because science and technology have advanced faster than the ruling classes have been able to respond....
Reynolds is less sanguine than the Aundance authors on the continued ability of innnovators to keep working around regulators, who are often bought off by last year's innovators:
[O]ne of the most valuable ways of turning government regulation to one’s side is to use it to shut down competition. When that happens, innovation slows or stops and society as a whole suffers even if individual special interests benefit.
Read Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey's review of Abundance here.
Reason.tv interviewed Diamandis and will be releasing that vid soon. In the meantime, check out our conversation with him about private space flight, the X Prize Foundation (which awarded the Ansari X Prize to Bert Rutan for creating a reusable suborbital space ship), and the problem with becoming "such a risk-averse society" as we've become:
The other day, a federal judge decided to test America's attachment to the First Amendment. He ruled that the government had violated the free-speech rights of tobacco companies. Talk about hated, writes Steve Chapman: Their reputation puts them somewhere above Adolf Hitler but below Al Capone.View this article