The e-mail traffic from the Obama campaign has hit a fevered pitch, with Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Michelle Obama all shooting out requests for donations in the last week. Sometimes these are attached to opportunities to meet the president (the most recent one raffled off a spot at his birthday bash in Chicago!), but the latest one, with the subject line “Are You Awake?” uses a different hook. President Obama finally donated to his own campaign! From the deputy campaign manager Julianna Smoot:
Do you know what this is? It's President Obama making his donation to the campaign, just in time for the big July deadline.
Join him now by donating $3 or more -- you still have a few hours until midnight your time…
Ted Cruz, the Ron Paul-endorsed former state soliciter general of Texas identified as the "Tea Party" guy in a year where the Tea Party hasn't done much, wins his run-off against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to become the GOP candidate for Senate in Texas, a seat he is expected to win. The anti-tax Club for Growth spent over $5 million independently to push Cruz.
David Weigel at Slate thinks that Cruz and Dewhurst weren't so different on Republican policy that Cruz's victory should have seemed so important--but that Cruz's Hispanic background and relative youth (he's 41) made him a key get for the GOP in the Senate.
The New York Times on Cruz and how he campaigned:
A Harvard-trained lawyer, a former Washington official under President George W. Bush and the former solicitor general of Texas, Mr. Cruz had argued cases before the Supreme Court but never before run for office. He turned out to be a natural campaigner and with his implacable opposition to big government, he won the enthusiastic support of Tea Party activists in Texas and around the country.....
Mr. Dewhurst has a deeply conservative record, and often during the campaign the two candidates seemed to mimic each other on the issues, with both vowing to repeal President Obama’s health care law, cut spending, get tough on the border and fight abortion.
But Mr. Cruz relentlessly portrayed his opponent as a creature of the establishment who is too quick to compromise.
In an Election Day appearance before a small but revved-up crowd outside a polling station in Houston, Mr. Cruz gave credit to his thousands of fervent, on-the-ground volunteers. “We’re here today because of the grass-roots organizing,” he said.
Reason 24/7 from earlier today on the Texas Senate runoff election.
From L.A. Weekly the other week, we see how cash-strapped municipalities protect the public, by screwing around with innocent people trying to provide a fair and needed service to other innocent people.
Here's what the L.A. cops did to licensed, registered, and insured limo driver Andy Chung:
Andy Chung became suspicious when he turned down Figueroa Street. He had received a call asking for a ride to Westwood. But as he approached the Hotel Figueroa, he saw that another vehicle had been pulled over by the police. He kept driving....
A few minutes later, the fare called again and asked why the cab never showed up.
"The driver was there," Chung said. "The police were there. Are you the police?"
"I'm not the police," the man replied. "I'm a student. I need to go to Westwood."
In fact, the man was an undercover cop. Shortly after Chung circled back to the hotel, he was in handcuffs — accused of operating an illegal taxi.
Chung, 65, is a state-licensed limo driver, with valid registration and insurance. Nevertheless, he had run afoul of the byzantine licensing scheme that governs taxi services. And he was about to pay dearly for it.
At a court hearing in March, Chung refused to accept a plea bargain. He believed he had followed the rules. The judge found him guilty and sentenced him to 150 days behind bars.
And the best part? Potential customers of these service providers who use "legal" taxis pay a surcharge to help pay overtime to LAPD's finest to pull this sort of crap, and a thousand such arrests of drivers trying to deliver a service happen every year in L.A.
The legal distinction between a sinister limo and a legally protected taxicab is that limos have to have both pickup and dropoff pre-arranged, with paperwork to prove it, not just pick up anyone who needs a ride. This sort of archaic law of course helps stymie the super-efficiency-raising innovations in transportation services like Uber.
Uber, a San Francisco–based startup, allows passengers to arrange limo trips with their smartphones. The Uber app works as a booking service for state-licensed town cars. Taxi regulators in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., have alleged that Uber is actually operating as a taxi service without following local taxi ordinances.
The company does not appear to have much of a foothold yet in Los Angeles, but if it gains traction here, both the city and the franchised taxi companies are likely to raise similar concerns.
In other words, bad law that funnels money into the city's system through fines will trump the more efficient use of vehicle and driver hours and satisfying people who need to get around for hire. Government, where would we be without you? Getting more rides, cheaper.
A great Wired article on the potential wonders of Uber.
Yesterday, in another illustration of his magical thinking about gun violence, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced a bill that would ban online sales of ammunition. "If someone wants to purchase deadly ammunition," Lautenberg declared, "they should have to come face to face with the seller. It's one thing to buy a pair of shoes online, but it should take more than a click of the mouse to amass thousands of rounds of ammunition." Lautenberg's bill, the Stop Online Ammunition Sales Act, would require ammunition sellers to have a firearms dealer's license, ask buyers for a photo ID, keep a record of sales, and report purchases of more than 1,000 rounds within five consecutive business days "to law enforcement." Why? Because James Holmes, the man accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, on July 20, reportedly used the Internet to buy 6,000 rounds.
Let's think about the logic underlying this legislation for a few moments. (It does not deserve more than that.) Did Holmes have a photo ID? Was he ambulatory? Could someone who planned a mass shooting for months have broken up his ammunition purchases to avoid police attention (assuming that law enforcement agencies actually would be investigating all mass buyers, almost all of whom would turn out to be hunters or target shooters)? Yes on all three counts. Lautenberg's bill makes about as much sense as banning orange hair dye.
Readers familiar with Reason know a drug war horror story or two, but what happened to Craig Patty's property and his peace of mind, thanks to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), is still rather shocking. The Houston Chronicle has the story which confirms the DEA's ability to steal from citizens and (so far in this case) get away with it.
Last October, Patty, the owner of a trucking company in Texas, hired Lawrence Chapa as a driver. By November 21:
Chapa was shot dead in front of more than a dozen law enforcement officers - all of them taken by surprise by hijackers trying to steal the red Kenworth T600 truck and its load of pot.
In the confusion of the attack in northwest Harris County, compounded by officers in the operation not all knowing each other, a Houston policeman shot and wounded a Harris County sheriff's deputy.
Not to mention, Patty's truck was in ruins. It turned out Chapa wasn't answering to Patty, but to the DEA as an undercover marijuana smuggler looking to bust cartels. In the few short weeks that Chapa worked for the trucking company, he often drove where he wasn't supposed to, once taking a 1,000 mile detour.
The tragedy of a man's death, particularly in service of a nasty government organization (to say nothing of the worse cartels) is one thing, but it seems pretty clear that if the DEA was using Patty's employee, and more importantly, his property, without the man's knowledge, they should pay for the estimated $133,532 in damages and lost wages. Patty is asking the DEA for that amount, plus an addition $1.3 million because he says his family now fears for their lives due to the potential for the brush with cartels meaning that dangerous men now know the name of Patty's truck company.
So, what's the difference between this and asset forfeiture, a disturbing law enforcement trend that feeds off of and feeds into the continued drug war by allowing police to keep the cars, money, and property that they seize in drug crimes? (Radley Balko has a good introduction to the practice here. Suffice to say, it mostly means that property can be "guilty" in a crime and then seized...Except that government officials can take that property before a conviction or even an arrest. And in order to get it back, it's often very costly for the plaintiff. It sure seems like this practice was pioneered by people with either a terrific or a very shoddy understanding of incentives.)
Well, as Mike Riggs reported earlier today, asset forfeiture has increased in dramatically in the last several years under Obama's Department of Justice. Check it out, the numbers are deeply disturbing.
Basically, if they can do that, why not ruin a truck with bullet holes and blood and guts and then refuse to pay damages? The DEA won't confirm that Chapa was an undercover, but the Chronicle claims that documents, prosecutor comments, and off the record quotes confirm this to be the case.
Patty's truck was insured, but the company won't pay because the truck was used in a law enforcement operation. Meanwhile, Patty's lawyer advised him to sue if the DEA doesn't cough up. But eight months have gone by and, wonders Patty:
"How am I — a small businessman, father of three, American Joe from Texas — supposed to make a claim against a federal agency that has conveniently shrouded itself behind a red, white and blue cloak of confidentiality and secrecy?"
One dad's account of getting pulled over by cop for walking with his kid, from the always-excellent Free-Range Kids blog:
[My youngest daughter and I] were walking to the library together, and she was holding my hand and trying to pull me into telephone poles and whatnot as we walked, which is a silly game that she enjoys. Suddenly a police car pulled up beside us, lights on and everything. The cop gets out of his car, says “Sir, please step away from the child,” then proceeds to crouch down and ask her if “everything is okay.”
After re-asking a few times, getting a more and more nervous “yes” each time, he stands up and informs me that someone had called 911 reporting what looked like a young girl being abducted. My daughter and I both explained what was really happening, and not only did he not even apologize, he chastised ME for not being, and I quote verbatim here, “More thankful someone was watching out for my daughter.”
We did eventually make it to the library and home, but it has made me slightly more cautious and watchful whenever we walk places.
Welcome to a world where goofy dads are suspected pedophiles. And god forbid your dad should be of a different race than you are.
With Romney returning home after a gaffe riddled tour abroad he might be able to take comfort in the fact that he is only the latest in a long history of American politicians who have manged to embarrass themselves in foreign lands.
1) Obama gives Queen Elizabeth II an ipod:
Barack Obama met the Queen at Buckingham Palace today and gave her a gift of an iPod loaded with video footage and photographs of her 2007 United States visit to Richmond, Jamestown and Williamsburg in Virginia. In return, the Queen gave the President a silver framed signed photograph of herself and the Duke of Edinburgh – apparently a standard present for visiting dignitaries.
If in doubt, give the Queen a gift that contains footage and photos she already has.
2) Kennedy calls himself a non-human Berliner:
Nothing quite instills optimism and inspiration than the President of the United States declaring that he is a non-human. Kennedy should have said, "Ich bin Berliner". The added article has given rise to theories about how what Kennedy did say could be interpreted, included the claim that he called himself a pastry.
3) George W. Bush gets touchy with Angela Merkel:
One could say that the only problem with this attempted massage was its timing. Given the current situation in Europe Merkel would almost certainly welcome a similar gesture were it offered now.
4) George H. Bush pukes on Japanese Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi:
It is from this incident that the Japanese supposedly get their phrase "Bushu-suru". It translates strictly as "to do a Bush" (puke).
5) Queen Elizabeth II gives Geroge W. Bush "a look that only a mother could give a child" after he implies she toured the US in 1776.
While Romney may well have embarrassed himself, he should take comfort that he is at least in good company. If his most recent trip was supposed to be the dress rehersal, how much worse could the real thing be?
How fast is the planet warming? Two new not-yet-peer reviewed studies were published online earlier this week that suggest somewhat different answers. The first is from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project run by physicist Richard Muller and the second from Watts Up With That proprietor Anthony Watts and colleagues. Muller's report has been hailed as a "bombshell" against warming skeptics and the Watt study has crushed the exaggerations of warming proponents. Reason Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey follows the civil conversation that new climatological findings always provokes.View this article
Yesterday, as staff at two different Arizona veterinary practices in cities many miles apart patiently explained to me the options for treating my snake-bit dog and the likely menu of costs for doing so, it occurred to me that I've rarely been treated with so much respect for my decision-making abilities or my wallet in any medical office geared toward two-legged customers. The reason is simple: At the vet's office, I'm the ultimate decision-maker and the payer-of-all-bills. At my doctor's office, I've allowed myself to be pushed to a secondary position as a responsible party. And the difference shows.
With my dog, Max's, head swollen like a pumpkin, I was presented by his usual veterinarian in Sedona with a couple of treatment options and the likely total costs ahead of time — including the stiff tariff for antivenin. I went for the "save the fuzzy bastard's ass" option, and paid.
After antivenin and other treatment, Max needed to be watched and medicated, so typically indulgent dog owner that I am, off I drove to Flagstaff to a facility that offers 24-hour care. There, not only was I presented with an estimate of the likely low and high costs associated with his care, but the prices of common procedures and vaccines were posted on the wall in every room.
My wife, a pediatrician, doesn't post price lists. They're irrelevant, since very few of her patients pay their own bills. Even regular, predictable expenses are handled by insurance companies, or by government programs, or by convoluted combinations of the two. She loves kids and respects parents and discusses care with them. But many of the important decisions are made elsewhere. There's little point in going in-depth about possible medications with a Medicaid patient when you're going to end up playing whack-a-mole with the AHCCCS Formulary — the ever-morphing list of medicines that Arizona's implementation of Medicaid has decided to pay for this time around.
The idea of removing patients as responsible parties was to remove money from the decision-making process — to give us the illusion that care is free, and that treatment will be provided with no need for us to fret over the bills. It's not free of course. We've just bought the illusion, and transferred the cost-benefit analyses to somebody else. We still get some choices, but unless we're among the few who pay out of pocket, they've been winnowed and pre-approved ahead of time.
Actually, there is one place where people make real choices: The dentist. After a day of not discussing costs with her patients, my wife has been known to decide among a few tough alternatives at our dentist's office for treatment of her inherited slow-moving train wreck of a set of choppers. But, like veterinarians, dentists expect most of their patients to pay their own bills.
Yes, there are some costs that are beyond the means of many people, and there are resulting tradeoffs to be made. But if we want to get the same adult choices in a doctor's office as we do at an animal hospital, we have to take back more of the responsibility for, at least, the predictable costs of our own care.
- Forget second thoughts, Stephen Cambone, who served as the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence from 2003 until 2007, says the Iraq War was "one of the greatest strategic victories of the United States." And failure looks like ... ?
- GOP vice presidential pick? There's an app for that! Yeah, really — that's how Mitt plans to announce. Meanwhile, first lady Michelle Obama gets an opening night slot at the Democratic National Convention.
- The eurozone's unemployment rate is at a record 11.2 percent and on track to hit 11.5 percent by year's end. Twelve percent is a very real possibility for next year, say forecasters. The U.S. is just going to have to try harder to keep up.
- Spaniards seem to consider their country a bad bet — tens of billions of euros pour out of the country as people seek a haven that isn't on the brink of insolvency.
- How tight are the Brits controlling the Olympic image? Graffiti artists are under strict orders to steer clear of the Olympic rings. "There's very strict copyright control on that." Overall, the games are getting tagged as "the most totalitarian" yet.
- A Texas trucking company wants compensation after the DEA commandeered a vehicle and got the driver killed. All in a good cause, of course. Oh ... perhaps not.
- The nation's capital is paying 305 students with poor academic and behavioral records $5.25 per hour to attend summer school. Nice work, if you can get it.
Don’t forget to sign up for Reason’s daily AM/PM updates for more content.
As the London Games proceed apace, Ed Krayewski revisits the most shocking and disturbing moments of past Olympics, when geo-politics, terrorism, and death stalked athletes.View this article
Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske continues to obfuscate the Obama administration's participation in the war on drugs. At a speech before the Center for Strategic & International Studies, Kerlikowske said "it’s a mistake to call it a ‘war on drugs’ because it lends itself to a simplistic solution to what we all know is a very complex problem."
Students for Sensible Drug Policy had a staffer at the event. Devon Tackels pointed out that the U.S. still arrests 1.5 million people a year for drug-related crimes, which suggests that the war on drugs is still very much a war.
Kerlikowske's response was this: "Most of the law enforcement in the United States on drugs is done on the state and local level, it’s clearly not done by the federal level."
"Clearly not done by the federal level"? The raids conducted earlier this year on headshop owners in Idaho--during which a screaming toddler was taken out of his crib and a young girl was handcuffed--were ordered by U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson (an Obama appointee) and led by the DEA and the U.S. Marshalls Service.
For the last week, the DEA has been crowing about "Operation Log Jam," which saw federal agents conduct destructive, armed raids across the country on shops suspected of selling synthetic marijuana. The agents who conducted those raids wore paramilitary gear; busted down doors of homes and stores; seized assets; pointed guns.
Recently, DEA agents paid a Texas truck driver to secretly haul marijuana from Mexico to the U.S. That truck driver was killed, and his rig was practically destroyed. (Local cops ended up shooting each other by accident, to boot.)
And what about Daniel Chong, the California college student left in a DEA holding cell without food or water for five days?
And those are just the domestic stories. The DEA is killing people in Honduras, Mexico, Afghanistan, and now parts of Africa. That's war.
Watch SSDP question Kerlikowske in the video below:
After being unmasked at Tablet by Reason Contributing Editor Michael C. Moynihan as a quote-faking fabulist, Jonah Lehrer - the author of the widely praised Imagine: How Creativity Works - has resigned his post at The New Yorker and his publisher is pulling his best-selling book from store shelves.
Why did Jonah Lehrer get into journalism in the first place?
In an exclusive ReasonTV interview that was taped on May 7, 2012, Lehrer told Paul Detrick that he would have preferred to be a scientist but "I sucked at being a scientist....I realized I was very bad at the actual experiments....I still miss science...I miss the hardness of fact."
Read more Reason on the Lehrer scandal.
About 30 seconds.
The Justice Department's asset forfeiture fund under President Obama is the largest it's ever been, having grown from $500 million in 2003, to $1.8 billion in 2011, according to a new report from the GAO.
In addition to the fund's size, payments from the fund to local law enforcement agencies totalled $445 million in 2011, another all-time high. These payouts are part of the DOJ's "equitable sharing agreement," which incentivizes local cops to conduct federal raids. They then get a portion of the assets seized during the raid (more money if they contribute more resources). That money is then used to finance SWAT and paramilitary training, as well as the acquisition of military grade weapons and equipment.
While the report doesn't specify the payout from particular investigations, it's likely that in California, which received $80 million in 2011--or 18 percent of all shared asset forfeiture funds given to local and state law enforcement last year--much of the money came from assets seized during raids on medical marijuana dispensaries. (For more on equitable sharing, and the abuses it leads to, read the Insitute for Justice report "Policing for Profit.")
More noteworthy even than the payout numbers to local and state cops is that the cost of maintaining the asset forfeiture fund has skyrocketed.
In 2008, the last year of the George W. Bush administration, the cost of operating the asset forfeiture fund totalled $409 million. In 2009, the first year of the Obama administration, that number jumped to $512 million. The next year, operating the fund cost $569 million. In 2011, operating the fund cost $491 million.
Where does that money go? According to the GAO report, "Cost drivers include salaries for government employees, information systems costs, asset management and disposal contracts, and contracts for administrative support staff, among other things."
Federal law allows for two different types of asset forfeiture. The GAO describes them as such:
Judicial forfeiture, both civil and criminal, is the process by which property may be forfeited to the United States by filing a forfeiture action in federal court. In civil forfeiture, the action is against the property and thus does not require that the owner of the property be charged with a federal offense. The government must only prove a connection between the property and the crime. By contrast, criminal forfeiture requires a conviction of the defendant before property is subject to forfeiture.
In many states there are limitations to what local law enforcement agencies can seize without seeking a conviction, which is why they often invite the feds to "adopt" their investigations, particularly drug investigations, in order to seize assets without actually charging anyone, or winning a case. (The IJ report linked above explores this loophole in horrifying detail.)
Here's a list of the largest asset recipient states in 2011:
California cops received $79 million
New York cops received $48 million
Florida cops received $38 million
Texas cops received $31 million
Georgia cops received $30 million
Illinois cops received $16.9 million
Michigan cops received $12.8 million
North Carolina cops received $10 million
Ohio cops received $9.9 million
The report also says that more state legislatures are adopting broader asset forfeiture laws, reducing the need for joint operations with federal law enforcement.
"In 2003, adoptions made up about 23 percent of all equitable sharing payments, while in 2010, adoptions made up about 17 percent of all equitable sharing payments," the report reads."According to DOJ, as more states have established their own forfeiture laws, they may rely less on DOJ to adopt forfeiture cases and may instead pursue forfeitures under state law when appropriate."
If Obama's crackdown on state-legal medical marijuana in California, or the DOJ-led raids of head shops across the Midwest, or the attacks on pharmacies in the Southeast, are any indicator, 2012 will be another banner year for the federal asset forfeiture fund.
A recent United Nations report notes that U.S. military drone flights over Somalia are now frequent enough to endanger local air traffic. Calling Africa "the new frontier in terms of counterterrorism and counternarcotics," the Drug Enforcement Administration has begun training paramilitary drug warrior teams in Ghana, and plans to expand the program to Nigeria and Kenya.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is considering intervention in the West African nation of Mali, where al Qaeda-inspired Islamist rebels have seized territory in the North. The insurgents are "a looming threat," a Pentagon official claims, and "all options are being considered."
Four years ago, writes Gene Healy, few would have predicted that one of President Obama's legacies would be increased militarization of U.S. policy toward Africa—but that seems to be the case.
As Matt Welch noted earlier this morning, former Reason staffer Michael C. Moynihan has caught now-former New Yorker staffer Jonah Lehrer fabricating quotes from Henry Timrod Bob Dylan. I don't have much to add to Matt's comments, other than my disappointment that Lehrer's inventions ended where they did: I'd be a happy Dylan fan if we could blame "Joey" on Lehrer too. But I was interested to see Salon's David Daley interview the disgraced New York Times fabulist Jayson Blair about the scandal, if only because of this tidbit in the introduction:
Blair is now a certified life coach
Let that sink in, then just try to go about your business for the rest of the day.
So now that Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem have added “No Chick-fil-A” to their concert rider, who will be entertaining the kiddies eating the most religious chicken sandwiches in the country?
That duty falls upon the tiresome, uninteresting Berenstain Bears, who had previously scheduled a kids’ meal promotion for August at Chick-fil-A. Cognizant of the growing media circus around the fast food restaurant’s donations to Christian groups (a small percentage of which are directly involved in efforts to stop gay marriage recognition), a twee little note appeared on the bears’ webpage:
Our publisher, HarperCollins, is marketing several of their Berenstain Bears titles through a kids’ meal program at Chick-fil-A scheduled for August. This program was in development for over a year. We were unaware of any controversy involving Chick-fil-A until July 25th.
The Berenstain family does not at this time have control over whether this program proceeds or not. We hope those concerned about this issue will direct their comments toward HarperCollins and Chick-fil-A.
Sincerely, The Berenstain Bears
How should we interpret the idea that there’s somebody out there the Berenstain Bears might find too judgmental? Those dreadful ursines have done their best to make childhood reading yet another place where kids face even more lectures by adults rather than a place to make learning fun or let imagination soar. Has any kid ever looked forward to a Berenstain Bears story? You know those are the ones who grow up to go to city council meetings to complain during open comments about children riding their bikes through their neighborhoods without wearing helmets.
The bears do have a handful of Christian-themed books as part of their Living Lights series, produced by Jan and Michael Berenstain. The original creators of the Berenstain Bears, Jan and Stan Berenstein, are both dead now (Stan died in 2005; Jan earlier this year). Michael is their son.
In the category of unintentionally hilarious trivia, the couple’s first unpublished story (before Theodor Geisel – a.k.a. Dr. Seuss – got hold of them and started working with them) was called Freddy Bear’s Spanking.
The United States entered Somalia with U.N. forces in late 1992 after the regime of Siad Barre collapsed and left by 1995 when it became obvious that no amount of U.N. intervention could help rebuild a state when there was a civil war going on. For some time, nothing happened U.S. intervention wise. In the last decade, however, the U.S. re-inserted itself into Somalia; backing the Ethiopian and African troops who came into Mogadishu in late 2006 to oust the Islamic Courts Union, a sharia coalition that had taken power in the former Somali capital. The most dangerous element of the Islamic Courts Union, the youth wing Al-Shabab, split off from the ICU after the Ethiopian-U.S. invasion. Six years later, Al-Shabab has become an official franchise of Al-Qaeda and the impetus for continued U.S. intervention, with President Obama for the first time admitting a U.S. military presence in Somalia in his most recent war powers letter to Congress.
The Cato Institute’s Malou Innocent explains where we are now:
Today, the United States fights al-Shabab by proxy. The group poses no direct threat to the security of the United States; however, exaggerated claims about the specter of al Qaeda could produce policy decisions that exacerbate a localized, regional problem into a global one. Amid news that African troops are doing the fighting, but that “The United States is doing almost everything else,” African Union forces could be seen as a puppet proxy of Uncle Sam.
Washington is supplementing the training of African troops with private contractors. Outsourcing makes intervention easier, as policymakers can hide the costs of a mission they have yet to clearly define. Intervention on the cheap also becomes costly in other ways. For a commander in chief who allegedly believes he should take moral responsibility for America’s lethal counterterrorism operations, privatizing intervention allows him and his administration to escape accountability should the forces we train, or the weapons we provide, turn against us or our allies.
Like moths to a flame, disparate Somali groups may rally around the perception they are fighting against the injustice of foreign meddling. Moreover, while military analysts were boasting back in June that al-Shabab could be facing the end of its once-powerful rule, questions surrounding what form of political stability will fill the al-Shabab vacuum remain unasked and unanswered.
Read the whole thing here.
More Reason on Somalia
In November 1993, Reason introduced readers to Marta, an immigrant from Ocotlán, Mexico. Marta came to the United States legally in 1971 as the wife of an American citizen. But she quickly joined the “informal” economy of Los Angeles, the gray and black markets that help meet demand for cheap, off-the-books services of all kinds. Soon she was so busy selling tamales she had to bring a niece from Mexico to help her keep up with the demand.
Life in the gray market isn’t all pork sausage and roses, though. “You have to watch out for the police,” Marta said. Not much has changed since then, writes Managing Editor Katherine Mangu-Ward. Today the Los Angeles Department of Public Health routinely confiscates the inventory and propane-powered mini-carts of unlicensed folks selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs or other taste treats deemed dangerous by the government.View this article
Bestselling author, 31-year-old TED-style talker, and (until yesterday) New Yorker staff writer Jonah Lehrer, usually described as Malcolm Gladwell 2.0, is now being lumped in a rocky pile along with the likes of Johann Hari, Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, and Ruth Shalit.
Lehrer, who had already dipped his toe in warm water last month when it was discovered (among other slip-ups) that he was publishing items on the New Yorker's website that he had published elsewhere, stepped into it big time by including a bunch of never-before-seen quotes by Bob Dylan in his new best-selling book, Imagine: How Creativity Works. The new transgressions, though they were already raising some general suspicions and critiques, might have yet escaped attention had not they caught the attention of Reason Contributing Editor and Dylan obsessive Michael C. Moynihan.
Yesterday morning, Moynihan detailed for Tablet his three-week odyssey of trying to get Lehrer to reveal his sources. This is the deadliest of several damning sections:
But the most troubling citations relate to one of Dylan’s most famous compositions. According to Lehrer, here is Bob Dylan on his 1965 song, “Like a Rolling Stone”: “[Dylan] would later say it was his first ‘completely free song … the one that opened it up for me.’ ”And these ruminations on where the song came from: “ ‘It’s a hard thing to describe,’ ” Lehrer claims Dylan said. “ ‘It’s just this sense that you got something to say.’ ” Lehrer does not provide citations for either of these, and after a deep excavation of the Dylan record I was unable to locate them. In a phone call and subsequent emails, Lehrer told me these quotes were a result of his research at “bobdylan.com headquarters” and that he had access to the uncut version of No Direction Home provided by Dylan’s manager Jeff Rosen.
When I asked about aspects of his interactions with Rosen, Lehrer provided a sketchy time frame and contradictory specifics—he first told me that he had personally exchanged emails with Rosen, then attributed this supposed email exchange to his literary agent—then further claimed that Dylan’s management had approved the chapter after being sent a copy of Imagine. He added that Dylan’s management didn’t want their cooperation sourced in the book. But when I contacted Dylan’s management, they told me that they were unfamiliar with Lehrer, had never read his book, there was no bobdylan.com headquarters, and, to the best of their recollection, no one there had screened outtakes from No Direction Home for Lehrer. Confronted with this, Lehrer admitted that he had invented it.
By the afternoon, Lehrer apologetically resigned from The New Yorker, his publisher Houghton Milton Harcourt was yanking his book from stores, Amazon and Barnes & Noble were halting sales, and The Wall Street Journal (for which he was a regular contributor for a couple of years) announced that "We are currently reviewing Mr. Lehrer's work for the Journal." It will likely get worse before it gets better.
Moynihan, unlike most of my Twitter feed, is not dancing on the grave of a younger, more-accomplished-until-yesterday journalist. From an interview with the New York Observer:MORE »
- A majority of Americans believe that screen violence leads to the real thing, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll. And since widely held stupid opinions must be taken seriously, expect legislation.
- The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has agreed to hear arguments against the federal government's classification of marijuana as a dangerous drug.
- After scoring an endorsement from Lech Walesa, Mitt Romney managed to avoid any major gaffes in Poland as he praised his hosts.
- The eurozone mess is nearing an end and "some light is appearing at the end of the tunnel," said Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. Are you sure it's not a train load of new lira bills, and they're on fire?
- Britain took a hit from Moody’s Investors Service, which lowered its forecast for U.K. economic growth. Hint: Sell more Olympic-themed crap,
- You can still make money on pharmaceuticals — by selling them on the gray market to middlemen who redistribute them, at a price, where needed.
- Can the Tea Party pull it out? The Texas GOP Senate primary comes to a close today, as voters cast ballots in the runoff between Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Solicitor General and grassroots favorite, Ted Cruz.
Don’t forget to sign up for Reason’s daily AM/PM updates for more content.
Milton Friedman would have turned 100 today.
Last year, Jim Epstein and I put together this video that only begins to hint at his massive contributions not just to libertarian thought and policy but to a broader intellectual culture. As I note in the video, "Milton Friedman gave us something much better than revealed truth: He showed us the process by which we might continue to indefinitely learn about our world and the human condition."
Take a look by clicking above and go here for more information.
The City of Angels' City Council just voted to ban medical marijuana dispensaries, which are legal under California state law. And a North Carolina politician is convinced that saggy pants lead to drugs, gang violence, and murder.
But there can only be one Nanny of the Month and this time the (dis)honor goes to the busybodies in New Jersey who can now fine drivers for failing to buckle up their dogs!
Watch here and go here for more information and for downloadable versions.
The Olympics are a giant exercise in sports socialism, writes Shikha Dalmia, where the profits are privatized and the costs socialized. The games never pay for themselves because they are designed not to. That’s because the International Olympic Committee (an opaque “nongovernmental” bureaucracy made up of fat cats from various countries) pockets most of the revenue from sponsorships and media rights. Perhaps that’s why so few Londoners seem excited about the Olympics coming to town. Is the era of nationalistic fervor whipped up through mega-projects finally coming to an end?View this article
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Massachusetts residents who tuned in to the Olympics opening ceremony saw a new 30-second campaign commercial from the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Elizabeth Warren, that said America should be more like Communist China.
“We've got bridges and roads in need of repair and thousands of people in need of work. Why aren’t we rebuilding America?” asks Warren, a professor at Harvard Law School who served in the Obama administration. “Our competitors are putting people to work, building a future. China invests 9% of its GDP in infrastructure. America? We’re at just 2.4%. We can do better.”
The ad juxtaposes robust Chinese cranes and dump trucks with decaying American bridges and idle but sympathetic-looking American workers wearing hard-hats.
Warren’s approach is so flawed, writes Ira Stoll, that it’s amazing that her campaign would spend the money on putting it into a prime-time Olympics commercial that was presumably designed not to alienate people but rather to get them to vote for her. You really have to see it to believe it.View this article
- Mitt Romney has a very slim lead over Barack Obama on issues of leadership, honesty and personality among poll respondents. Uh huh. Yeah, that's quite a contest.
- American plans for massive construction projects in Afghanistan are running so far behind that the U.S. will (supposedly) be long gone before they're built. And after they're in place, they should start crumbling pronto, since Afghanistan's government isn't expected to have the resources to maintain them.
- For the third quarter running, Spain's economy shrank, helping to erode confidence and fuel recession worries across the struggling euro zone.
- Raymond and Thomas Highers spent a quarter-century in prison before their murder convictions were overturned after witnesses fingered another shooter. Now they wonder how they'll pick up the pieces of their lives.
- Republican delegates pledged to support Ron Paul are fighting ouster attempts in Massachusetts and Maine. Hmmm ... It's almost as if freedom-minded people aren't welcome in the GOP.
- Three female punk rockers who performed an unauthorized anti-Putin protest set in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral face up to seven years in prison for their actiona. The Russian Orthodox Church, which is tight with Russia's authoritarian regime, is pushing for harsh punishment.
- Nine people were arrested over the weekend as Anaheim residents continue to protest two recent police shootings, one of them of an unarmed man.
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I'm happy to let all readers know that tomorrow brings a totally new-look Reason.com and Reason.tv. We've spent the past few months working behind the scenes to update the look and functionality of the web's largest libertarian site of "Free Minds and Free Markets."
Starting tomorrow, visitors will be able to order more material in more personalized ways than ever before; we'll have a great new search function and archives that will make your eyes grow moist in memory and thanks; and video and text will blend like gin and tonic on a hot summer morning afternoon.
We're most excited about a brand-spanking new news-aggregation feature, Reason 24/7 News, which sprung from the fertile brow of Reason Foundation trustee Drew Carey and will provide a steady stream of curated news content from across the glorious system of tubes some call the Internet. If Reason.com is not already your go-to source for libertarian news, views, and commentary - and some of the best videos, feature writing, and provocative commentary and reporting out there - we're doing everything we can to make it your home page.
As with all things web-related, we'll be looking for feedback from our loyal and casual readers about what new features work and what should be flung on the ash heap of history along with the Hermain Cain presidency, the latest interation of a presidential competitiveness council, and stain-free Dockers. We're looking forward to hearing from you.
Due to the switchover, posting to Hit & Run will be exceptionally light for the rest of today. But we'll see you bright and early tomorrow at the new Reason.com.
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The Web thingies are buzzing with news that a 3D printer — sort of a first-generation Star Trek replicator — was used to make a gun that actually goes bang when you pull the trigger. Aside from the sheer cool factor, the development makes it clear that a wide range of bans, restrictions and prohibitions are becoming increasingly unenforcable.
An American gunsmith has become the first person to construct and shoot a pistol partly made out of plastic, 3D-printed parts. The creator, user HaveBlue from the AR-15 forum, has reportedly fired 200 rounds with his part-plastic pistol without any sign of wear and tear.
HaveBlue’s custom creation is a .22-caliber pistol, formed from a 3D-printed AR-15 (M16) lower receiver, and a normal, commercial upper. In other words, the main body of the gun is plastic, while the chamber — where the bullets are actually struck — is solid metal.
The lower receiver was created using a fairly old school Stratasys 3D printer, using a normal plastic resin. HaveBlue estimates that it cost around $30 of resin to create the lower receiver, but “Makerbots and the other low cost printers exploding onto the market would bring the cost down to perhaps $10.” Commercial, off-the-shelf assault rifle lower receivers are a lot more expensive. ...
HaveBlue apparently tried, unsuccessfully, to make a more powerful receiver chambered in .223, but it didn't work. "Funnily enough, he thinks the off-the-shelf parts are causing issues, rather than the 3D-printed part."
HaveBlue's schematic, which he used on what's considered a relatively low-tech StrataSys 3D printer in these fast-moving times, are available at Thingiverse.
Scientists at the University of Glasgow have used a relatively low-cost system to synthesize chemical compounds, with the intention of developing the means to create custom drugs. That may well mean the end of the orphan drug problem around the word, and very real price drops on pharmaceuticals. From the BBC:
Researchers have used a £1,250 system to create a range of organic compounds and inorganic clusters - some of which are used to create cancer treatments.
Longer term, the scientists say the process could be used to make customised medicines.
They predict the technique will be used by pharmaceutical firms within five years, and by the public within 20.
"We are showing that you can take chemical constituents, pass them through a printer and create what is effectively a chemical synthesiser in which the reaction occurs allowing you to get out something different at the end," researcher Mark Symes told the BBC.
"We're extrapolating from that to say that in the future you could buy common chemicals, slot them into something that 3D prints, just press a button to mix the ingredients and filter them through the architecture and at the bottom you would get out your prescription drug."
It also holds out potential for evading yet another class of legal prohibitions on recreational drugs.
Think of it — a world of plenty, with easy localized manufacture of almost anything you might need. It's a world in which "that should be illegal" becomes a punch line.
The next time your control freak friends start in on their latest litany of should-be-banneds, tell them that their arguments are now irrelevant. Tell them why. And savor their sweet tears of despair.
Today, over in Putin's unfree Russia, three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot go on trial for "hooliganism motivated by by religious hatred or hostility" for a February stunt where they performed "Punk Prayer"in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior during massive protests against then-nearly relelected President Vladimir Putin. The lyrics of the song include:
St. Maria, Virgin, Drive away Putin
Drive away! Drive away Putin!
Black robe, golden epaulettes
All parishioners are crawling and bowing
The ghost of freedom is in heaven
Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains
The head of the KGB is their chief saint
Leads protesters to prison under escort
In order not to offend the Holy
Women have to give birth and to love
Holy shit, shit, Lord's shit!
Conservative Russians were outraged at the blasphemy. The women, however, claim that their protest was politically-minded only — they wanted to protest the close ties that the Russian church has with Putin and the Russian government. They have apologized to anyone religiously offended, but say that they meant the politics behind the protest.
CNN notes some of the outcry:
The Orthodox leader Patriarch Kyril has been widely reported as saying Putin's years in power have been a miracle from God.
But the band's behavior in one of Russia's most sacred cathedrals has outraged many of the country's faithful.
"This is a disgusting thing to do," one woman told CNN.
"They should go to jail," said another. "A year or two. Let them to think about their behavior."
But even some of those who were offended believe the women should not be in jail.
"If necessary, God will punish them," said one man. "It must be not be cruel punishment."
The three women have pleaded not guilty to the aforementioned "hooliganism," but they are facing up to seven years in jail. Reuters has further details:
They were led into a metal and clear-plastic courtroom cage, where they milled and spoke with lawyers as preparations began. Tolokonnikova, in a blue chequered shirt, lowered her head to speak through a small opening in the enclosure. Two pairs of handcuffs hung at the ready just beside her face.
The protest offended many believers and enraged Kirill. The church, which has enjoyed a big revival since the demise of the officially atheist Communist Soviet Union in 1991 and is seeking more influence on secular life, cast the performance as part of a sinister campaign by "anti-Russian forces".
Pussy Riot's supports include fellow-dissidents in Russia, as well as Amnesty International, and Western musicians including Sting and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Two of the women have young children. Here's hoping that the international attention (they're the headline on Drudge right now) gets them home safe.
Climatology - the contentious science. Today, physicist Richard Muller publishes online the results of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temeperature (BEST) re-analysis and finds that the globe has warmed by 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit since the 18th century and about 1.5 degrees since the 1950s. He blames rising CO2.
Near simultaneously, Anthony Watts and his colleagues have published online their new study of U.S. surface temperature trends which concludes:
A reanalysis of U.S. surface station temperatures has been performed using the recently WMO-approved Siting Classification System devised by METEO-France’s Michel Leroy. The new siting classification more accurately characterizes the quality of the location in terms of monitoring long-term spatially representative surface temperature trends. The new analysis demonstrates that reported 1979-2008 U.S. temperature trends are spuriously doubled, with 92% of that over-estimation resulting from erroneous NOAA adjustments of well-sited stations upward. The paper is the first to use the updated siting system which addresses USHCN siting issues and data adjustments.
The new improved assessment, for the years 1979 to 2008, yields a trend of +0.155C per decade from the high quality sites, a +0.248 C per decade trend for poorly sited locations, and a trend of +0.309 C per decade after NOAA adjusts the data. This issue of station siting quality is expected to be an issue with respect to the monitoring of land surface temperature throughout the Global Historical Climate Network and in the BEST network.
Watts tells me that his new results with regard to adjustments made in U.S. temperature datasets are relevant to the BEST analysis because temperature datasets from around the globe likely suffer from the same problems that lead to spurious trends that suggest strong global warming. In his view, the BEST study's new statistical techniques do not remedy the problem of flawed data.
I don’t believe the errors associated with NOAA adjustments are deliberate, but simply a case of confirmation bias. They expect to find global warming because a popular theory says they should.
In other news, statistician Ross McKitrick, who debunked Pennsylvania State University* climatologist Michael Mann's notorious "hockeystick" analysis which somehow got rid of the Medieval Warming period, reveals that he was a peer reviewer for the new BEST papers at the Journal of Geophysical Research. His review found serious flaws in those papers and they were turned down by the journal. McKitrick strongly objects to the BEST "publicity blitz" and has released his peer review comments which can be downloaded here.
Note: None of the BEST studies have yet been published in peer reviewed journals.
More to come.
*fixed from wrong attritution to U. Penn.
A few months ago conservatives were bashing Mitt Romney with such vigor they made a Mongol invasion look genteel. To Deroy Murdock of National Review, "Willard Mitt Romney’s latest flip flop" reminded him of Andy Warhol’s quip: "That’s not fake. It’s real plastic." Compared to Romney, Murdock wrote, "I have seen mannequins in less empty suits." Mona Charen, another National Review regular, spoke on behalf of all right-thinking people when she said positions such as Romney’s "make our hearts sink." Victor Davis Hanson, also of National Review, termed Romney the "castor oil candidate."
At TownHall.com – a clearinghouse of conservative opinion – Ben Shapiro compared Romney to Harold Hill, the "big city con man" of musical fame: "Romney has somehow suckered much of the conservative world into believing that he is a solid fiscal, social and foreign policy conservative" when, in reality, Romney is an "all out liberal." Romney is "about as strong a social conservative," he went on, "as RuPaul"—the country’s most famous drag queen.
The conservative movement, writes A. Barton Hinkle, has since changed its tune.View this article
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) is proposing an amendment to the Cybersecurity Act that would ban possession or transfer of "large capacity ammunition feeding devices," i.e., magazines holding more than 10 rounds. ThinkProgress explains the rationale this way:
24-year-old James Holmes, the prime suspect in the Aurora shooting, purchased a 100 round drum magazine. Jared Loughner, who shot former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) in 2011 along with 18 others, used an extended magazine that held 33 bullets, and police found two more 15-round magazines in his pockets. Under the federal assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, these two killers could not have legally purchased these large capacity ammunition feeding devices.
That last part is not correct: The federal "assault weapon" ban defined "large capacity ammunition feeding devices" as magazines holding more than 10 rounds "manufactured after the date of enactment of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994." Since pre-existing magazines were not covered, Holmes and Loughner would have had little trouble buying the same equipment (although it might have cost more) even if the ban had been extended in 2004. Lautenberg's amendment likewise says the ban does not apply to "the possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device otherwise lawfully possessed within the United States on or before the date of the enactment of this subsection." A ban without such a clause would transform millions of law-abiding Americans into felons overnight. At the same time, the fact that millions of large-capacity magazines will remain in circulation no matter what Congress does tends to undermine the argument for the legislation, even if we assume that the need to switch magazines or guns would make a crucial difference in mass shootings.
Lautenberg's resistance to acknowledging this reality makes the recent press release in which he "Calls on GOP Leaders to Use the Facts on U.S. Gun Violence" especially risible. The senator claims Mitt Romney misrepresented the current state of federal gun control in an interview last Wednesdy with NBC News anchor Brian Williams when he said, in reference to Holmes' "weapons and bombs and other devices" that "it was illegal for him to have many of those things already, but he had them." Not so, says Lautenberg:
The shooter’s arsenal of weapons—including a semi-automatic assault rifle and a 100-round ammunition magazine—was obtained legally.
Mitt Romney and Republicans in Congress need to understand the basic facts before they rule out reforming our country's lax gun laws. Romney and the Republicans need to stop hiding behind the gun lobby’s talking points, and admit that our weak gun laws play a significant role in tragic shooting incidents.
Romney, who signed an "assault weapon" ban when he was governor of Massachusetts, certainly has some inconsistency to answer for in this area (and many others). But it is clear that in the NBC interview he was referring to the explosives and incendiary devices with which Holmes booby-trapped his apartment, not his rifle, shotgun, or pistol.
Lautenberg's erroneous correction reflects the tendency of gun controllers to emphasize that everything a mass shooter did leading up to his attack was perfectly legal, clearly demonstrating the need for new laws. But planning mass murder, not to mention carrying it out, is about as illegal as you can get. It is therefore rather silly to imagine that more stringent rules for concealed carry in Arizona would have stopped Loughner, any more than a movie theater's ban on weapons stopped Holmes. The burden for gun control advocates is to show not just that new legislation would have made a particular mass murder even more illegal but that it would have created insuperable practical obstacles for a determined killer.
ReasonTV visited the set of Atlas Shrugged Part II, the second installment in the new film adaptation of Ayn Rand's epic 1957 novel. The movie is set to hit theaters on October 11, 2012.
About 1.30 minutes. Shot by Sharif Matar and Tracy Oppenheimer and edited by Joshua Swain.
Read Brian Doherty's account of the filming here.
Check out Reason's ever-growing playlist of videos related to Ayn Rand and the continuing interest in her life and work. The videos feature interviews and commentary from Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden, Yaron Brook, David Kelley, Robert Poole, biographers Anne C. Heller and Jennifer Burns, and many more.
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Those who believe in the usefulness of government must be vigilant about making sure all its activities are vital ones, since the unnecessary ones undermine public confidence. With this in mind, Congress should now privatize the U.S. Postal Service.
Confidence, shmonfidence–you should privatize the sucka just because that would probably deliver better outcomes for certainly less taxpayer money, and you people are supposed to be stewards of the stuff you take from us. Anyway, let's not look a gift endorsement in the mouth. More from the man whose last name in Hungarian means "country":
The Postal Service faces three problems: First, Congress has not given it the permission it needs to cut costs and raise revenue -- and lawmakers seem unable to approve even modest reforms. Second, its market has been declining for years, as e- mail, electronic payment and other alternatives to traditional mail have grown. Third, the economic slump has caused a further drop-off in mail volumes. [...]
[P]rivatization has become the best path forward, mainly because it would take Congress out of the picture. As New York Times columnist Joe Nocera recently argued, "the problem is that neither the management nor the workers really control the Postal Service. Even though the post office has been self-financed since the 1980s, it remains shackled by Congress, which simply can't bring itself to allow the service to make its own decisions." And Congress won't do so, as long as the post office remains part of the government.
The Postal Service has many assets that could be managed more efficiently, if Congress got out of the way. In addition to its 32,000 post offices, it has 461 processing facilities, monopoly access to residential mailboxes and an overfunded pension plan. These assets would attract bidders. Consider, for example, that many processing facilities and post offices sit on valuable real estate, and it may be smarter to sell many of them than to keep them. [...]
The U.S. Postal Service has a long and storied history. Yet it is now struggling because the world has changed and because congressional sclerosis has prevented it from adapting to the new realities. The best way to modernize it now is to move it out of the government.
More and more American women are waiting until they are older to have children. Why? Because they are building their careers and waiting for Mr. Right. But what if Mr. Right fails to come along before they turn 35?
As the biological clock ticks along, the chances of having biologically related children diminish steeply, especially as women pass their mid-30s. So as Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey reports, some women are now taking out “fertility insurance” by having clinics retrieve and freeze their youthful eggs.View this article
Arguably the oddest moment in Friday's Olympic opening ceremony was the tribute to Britain's National Health Service, the very triumph of civilization that is busily being reformed after decades of serving dissatisfied customers and amidst ongoing reports of horrendous service.
How strange was the spelling out of NHS in letters so large that they were visible from large floating blimps far above the stadium? Even Mother Jones' Kevin Drum, "a life-long liberal" who thinks "it would be great if the United States adopted some kind of genuine national healthcare program" was moved to write:
Am I the only one who was a bit gobsmacked at the lengthy tribute to the NHS during the opening ceremonies at the Olympics...? The NHS? Seriously?
Mother Jones is no wishy-washy centrist Democrat publication, lest we forget. Earlier in the post-ironic 21st century, the publication even bitched ha-ha funny "Bowlshevik" bolwing shirts, depicting mass murderer Vlad Lenin going for a seven-10 split.
So when even MoJo folks are asking, "An Olympic Tribute to the NHS? Really?," some sort of Rubicon clearly was crossed.
Then again, given that the mastermind behind the spectacle was film director Danny Boyle, who came to the big screen with the excellent flick Shallow Grave and is generally a caustic witness of easy narratives of national greatness (think Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire), was just having a bit of a larf at the expense of a global audience. Such an ironic reading also helps make sense of the parachuting Queen Elizabeth and various other facets of the evening's entertainment.
Lakoff has been down precisely this very road before: progressives are animated by a "nurturant" morality, a family model in which parents are equal and the family cooperates (but parents, who serve in this metaphorical model as government officials, "have the last word because they are ultimately responsible"). Conservatives, on the other hand, organize their relationship with the world around the metaphor of the "strict father." They don't nurture or discuss; they dictate and punish, and twirl their waxed mustachios beneath the canopy of their silken top-hats....
Lakoff, as always, never comes close to understanding his own ideas, and I think I'm being merciful here by leaving Wehling out of it. Since conservatives are guided by the strict father model, for example, Lakoff is sure they have "a view of the market as decider with no external authority over it." So the embodied "market" of this book is a decider, a unitary authority, a single force that thinks and imposes, a uniform thing that rules from above. It has nothing to do with any actual "market" that any non-Berkeley professor on earth perceives to be the market, a sphere of human activity defined, especially outside the boundaries of regulatory capture and crony capitalism, by unrelenting diffusion: many competitors, new technologies, new entrants, shifting consumer interests and loyalties. In Lakoffworld, everyone cracks open an RC Cola while they gather around the family Philco to listen to the Fleischmann's Yeast Hour. The conservative point about market actors is that if you don't hitch them to state power, they are scattered and ephemeral, and cannot form lasting forms of domination. See the strict father model at work, there?
Lakoff somehow does, and it's just one of an endless series of suggestions that he doesn't notice how his political targets actually think. In the pages of Lakoff's books, conservatives occupy a single category of identity, gathered around the "strict father" like cavemen around a fire. Meanwhile, outside those pages, Rick Santorum's lip curls as he describes Ron Paul as "disgusting," and Paul endlessly returns the favor, and Newt Gingrich stays in a hopeless campaign because he feels compelled to destroy Mitt Romney, and Jon Huntsman dismisses Michele Bachmann as a slightly batty novelty act. In Lakoffworld, Lew Rockwell and William Kristol share a moral framework: they are both figures of the political right, and no further analysis is needed.
There's more! Read the whole article here.
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer has the details.
[O]ur unhinged government, with an obsession like that of Melville's Ahab, has crippled Nancy Black's scientific career, cost her more than $100,000 in legal fees — so far — and might sentence her to 20 years in prison. This Kafkaesque burlesque of law enforcement began when someone whistled.
Black, 50, a marine biologist who also captains a whale-watching ship, was with some watchers in Monterey Bay in 2005 when a member of her crew whistled at the humpback that had approached her boat, hoping to entice the whale to linger. Back on land, another of her employees called the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to ask if the whistling constituted "harassment" of a marine mammal, which is an "environmental crime." NOAA requested a video of the episode, which Black sent after editing it slightly to highlight the whistling. NOAA found no harassment — but got her indicted for editing the tape, calling this a "material false statement" to federal investigators, which is a felony under the 1863 False Claims Act, intended to punish suppliers defrauding the government during the Civil War.
A year after this bizarre charge — that she lied about the interaction with the humpback that produced no charges — more than a dozen federal agents, led by one from NOAA, raided her home. They removed her scientific photos, business files and computers. [...]
She has also been charged with the crime of feeding killer whales when she and two aides were in a dinghy observing them feeding on strips of blubber torn from their prey — a gray whale.
To facilitate photographing the killers' feeding habits, she cut a hole in one of the floating slabs of blubber and, through the hole, attached a rope to stabilize the slab while a camera on a pole recorded the whales' underwater eating.
So she is charged with "feeding" killer whales that were already feeding on a gray whale they had killed.
Six years ago, NOAA agents, who evidently consider the First Amendment a dispensable nuisance, told Black’s scientific colleagues not to talk to her and to inform them if they were contacted by her or her lawyers. Since then she has not spoken with one of her best friends.
To finance her defense she has cashed out her life’s savings[.]
It goes on from there, with Will name-checking Reason contributor Harvey Silverglate's "invaluable" book Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, and concluding on this optimistic note:
The more Americans learn about their government's abuse of criminal law for capricious bullying, the more likely they are to recoil in a libertarian direction and put Leviathan on a short leash.
- Bill Clinton will formally re-nominate Barack Obama for President at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and the former president was given a primetime speaking slot, relegating Joe Biden to introducing President Obama at Bank of America Stadium on the last night of the convention.
- Dick Cheney, who helped Gerald Ford and George W. Bush select their running mates (Bob Dole and Cheney himself, respectively), said John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin in 2008 was a mistake. “I like Governor Palin. I’ve met her. I know her. She – attractive candidate. But based on her background, she’d only been governor for, what, two years. I don’t think she passed that test…of being ready to take over,” the former vice president said.
- Mitt Romney said he would respect a unilateral decision by Israel to strike in Iran and that he would have a “zero tolerance” policy on Iran acquiring nuclear weapns.
- Leon Panetta said Syria’s latest attack on rebels and residents in the city of Aleppo is another “nail in Assad’s coffin.” The secretary of defense is spending five days touring the Middle East.
- How to take Anton Scalia’s observation that some gun control could be constitutional? Are hand-held rocket launchers constitutional?
- Wait, there’s a printer that can do that?
- Homeowners hurting from water restrictions have turned to having their lawns painted green.
- Divers recovered a German World War 2 era U-boat off the coast of Nantucket.
- Twitter went down for reason. Via commenter SugarFree
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New at Reason.TV: "Greg Lukianoff: How Colleges Fight Free Speech"
The United States is the most secure nation in the history of the world. We have a military with no peer, a nuclear arsenal capable of incinerating any enemy, vast oceans that separate us from rivals and many countries that want to be our allies. But some Americans insist on feeling relentless dangers that demand an ever-ready trigger finger.
One of them is Mitt Romney, whose speech the other day to the Veterans of Foreign Wars reads as though it were written in a different century. In his survey of the globe, writes Steve Chapman, there is hardly any good news to be found, except the armed might and courage of the United States.View this article
Following the shootings in Colorado, calls for tighter gun control laws have increased to predictable levels. But as UCLA School of Law professor Eugene Volokh reminded us during a 2010 interview, when it comes to limiting gun rights "we should err on the side of liberty, including erring on the side of liberty of self defense."
Original text from the March 2, 2010 video is below:
Reason.tv's Ted Balaker sat down with Eugene Volokh, professor of law at the UCLA School of Law and founder of The Volokh Conspiracy, to discuss gun rights, free expression, and the Nanny State.
Find out what Volokh thinks the biggest threats to free expression are, and whether today's muzzlers come mostly from the left or right. Volokh also explains what the landmark Supreme Court case, DC vs. Heller, has done to gun control and whether he agrees with the "more guns, less crime" thesis.
Other topics include: media bias and gun rights, Alabama's prohibition on selling sex toys, and whether judges can be nannies.
Interview by Ted Balaker. Shot by Alex Manning and Hawk Jensen. Edited by Paul Detrick.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' pledge of $2.5 million to support same-sex marriage in Washington is just another sign of growing support for gay marriage inside the United States.
Earlier this year ReasonTV's Kennedy explained why libertarian-leaning Republicans have been central to the recent success of marriage equality in state houses across the country.
Here is the original text from the February 22, 2012 video:
With Washington state recently legalizing same-sex unions and Maryland about to follow suit, gay marriage hasn't been on this big a roll since Bert and Ernie first shacked up on Sesame Street. When Maryland finalizes its bill, seven states and the District of Columbia will sanction the practice.
But before you bust out the appletinis and Indigo Girls CDs to celebrate, consider that just last year in Maryland - a deep-blue, Democratic-majority state when it comes to politics - gay marriage went down faster than George Michael in a public restroom due to resistance from socially conservative African Americans in the Democratic Party. Indeed, while 71 percent of white Democrats in the Old Line State favor gay marriage, just 41 percent of black Democrats do.
So what's different this time around? Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and other pro-marriage legislators took a page from New York's gay playbook and reached around to sympathetic Republicans to seal the deal.
Inconceivable even a generation ago, gay marriage is well on its way to becoming mainstream as a growing majority of Americans now favor it. The only question is when, not if, folks such as Maryland residents Justin and Phillip Terry-Smith will join heterosexuals in the joys of getting married - and divorced - happily ever after.
About 2.30 minutes. Produced by Joshua Swain. Written by Nick Gillespie and Kennedy, who also hosts.
Physicist Richard Muller is reporting the results of his Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature reanalysis online in an op/ed in the New York Times. Yesterday, I cited sections of that op/ed, but now the entire piece is available. Again, the BEST team has looked at the global temperature record and concluded that the average temperature has increased 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1750s. More than half the increase (1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) has occurred since the 1950s.
From the op/ed:
We carefully studied issues raised by skeptics: biases from urban heating (we duplicated our results using rural data alone), from data selection (prior groups selected fewer than 20 percent of the available temperature stations; we used virtually 100 percent), from poor station quality (we separately analyzed good stations and poor ones) and from human intervention and data adjustment (our work is completely automated and hands-off). In our papers we demonstrate that none of these potentially troublesome effects unduly biased our conclusions.
The historic temperature pattern we observed has abrupt dips that match the emissions of known explosive volcanic eruptions; the particulates from such events reflect sunlight, make for beautiful sunsets and cool the earth’s surface for a few years. There are small, rapid variations attributable to El Niño and other ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream; because of such oscillations, the “flattening” of the recent temperature rise that some people claim is not, in our view, statistically significant. What has caused the gradual but systematic rise of two and a half degrees? We tried fitting the shape to simple math functions (exponentials, polynomials), to solar activity and even to rising functions like world population. By far the best match was to the record of atmospheric carbon dioxide, measured from atmospheric samples and air trapped in polar ice.
Just as important, our record is long enough that we could search for the fingerprint of solar variability, based on the historical record of sunspots. That fingerprint is absent. Although the I.P.C.C. allowed for the possibility that variations in sunlight could have ended the “Little Ice Age,” a period of cooling from the 14th century to about 1850, our data argues strongly that the temperature rise of the past 250 years cannot be attributed to solar changes. This conclusion is, in retrospect, not too surprising; we’ve learned from satellite measurements that solar activity changes the brightness of the sun very little.
Go here to read the whole op/ed.
President Obama’s statement sure has incited controversy. His opponents, including Mitt Romney, are using it to brand Obama as—at best—out of touch and—at worst—an un-American collectivist. It’s also become the butt of jokes on the Internet.
Meanwhile Obama and his supporters cry foul, claiming the statement was taken out of context. (They’d never take an opponent’s statement out of context of course.) Some concede that Obama’s expression was inept, but insist he wasn’t denying the value of individual initiative. In a campaign spot Obama says, “What I said was that we need to stand behind them [business people] as America always has. By investing in education, training, roads and bridges, research and technology.”
So who’s right? Sheldon Richman breaks it down.View this article