Prosecutors

"How the Feds Asked Me to Rat Out Commenters"—And Why We Pushed Back

This sort of thing is one more reason why confidence in government is at all-time lows.

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Emily Lendof/The Daily Beast

Regular readers of Reason.com know all about the recent federal subpoena and gag order we received.

The subpoena asked for identifying information we had on a half-dozen readers who left angry comments on a post about the verdict in the Silk Road Trial.

The comments ranged from suggesting the judge in the case should burn in hell to suggesting, in a well-known Internet homage to the movie Fargo, she be fed "feet-first" into a woodchipper. As Matt Welch and I have written, "The comments are hyperbolic, in questionable taste–and fully within the norms of Internet commentary." They certainly don't rise to the level of threat that should trigger requests from federal prosecutors.

We notified the commenters, who could have moved to quash the subpoena. Then the government hit us with a gag order, prohibiting us from talking about even the existence of the subpoena and the gag order. We fought to get the gag order lifted and once it was, we've been talking about the case.

I've got a new column up at The Daily Beast that gives more background on the matter. Here are some snippets:

To the extent that the feds actually thought these were serious plans to do real harm, why the hell would they respond with a slow-moving subpoena whose deadline was days away? By spending five minutes doing the laziest, George-Jetson-style online "research" (read: Google and site searches), they would have found publicly available info on some of the commenters. I'm talking things like websites and Google+ pages. One of the commenters had literally posted thousands of comments at Reason.com, from which it is clear that he (assuming it is a he) is not exactly a threat to anyone other than common decency.

But that's your tax dollars at work….

Getting a subpoena is like "only" getting arrested. It's a massive disruption to anyone's routine and should be reserved for moments when, you know, there's actually something worthy of serious investigation. And chew on this: You're only reading about this case because the subpoena became public after we disseminated it against the government's wishes (and before it could get a gag order against us), and because we later got the gag order lifted. There's every reason to believe that various publications, social media sites, and other platforms are getting tens of thousands of similar requests a year. How many of those requests are simply fulfilled without anyone knowing anything about them?…

"Confidence in U.S. Institutions Still Below Historical Norms," announces the headline for Gallup's annual survey on how Americans feel about authorities and services ranging from banks to the military to business to various aspects of the government and law enforcement. Confidence in the police, the presidency, the Supreme Court, and Congress are all well below annual averages calculated since 1973 or 1993 (depending on the area). Broadly speaking, there's no question that the country is becoming more libertarian—more skeptical of centralized power, especially when it's wielded by the state. Until the next gag order, I'm happy to share with you one of the reasons why that might be happening.

Read the whole piece here.

NEXT: Expunging Woodrow Wilson from Official Places of Honor

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  1. As has been pointed out by others, the process is the punishment.

    A federal judge or someone close to a federal judge is upset and wants petty payback, or more likely is taking a stab at nipping any future online dissent of such judgments in the bud.

    1. Indeed. This is identical to when cops do a “catch and release” on you.

      They arrest you on knowingly phony charges, book you, get your photo in the database, get you a NCIC arrest record, then drop the charges and release you.

      Congratulations! You now have an arrest record that will follow you the rest of your life! That contempt of cop you exhibited didn’t work out too well, did it?

      They just put the fear in you. You’ll behave from now on.

      Or, they’ll do another “catch and release” until you get your mind right.

      1. On the contrary, catch-and-release is an excellent tool for discouraging certain recalcitrant individuals from engaging in forms of speech that we really don’t like. When that doesn’t work, we can also have some of them there trolls prosecuted. As a case in point, these insidious comments posted on Reason were not mere “hyperbole,” any more than the criminally deceitful emails sent by a “satirist” in New York were mere poor efforts at parody or blustery expressions of anger. See the documentation of America’s leading criminal satire case at:

        http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

        And, lest the point of my remark be misunderstood, I believe it is worth reminding “freedom of speech” bloggers like Popehat and Volokh (and Gillespie and Welch and all the others) that when we don’t stand up for everyone’s rights, we should not be surprised when our own rights end up getting trampled on with big black boots.

        P.s. It does no good to fallaciously appeal to the “norms of Internet commentary,” because as is now well known, juries, prosecutors and judges, and not Reason, Popehat or any other interested party, are the ones who get to establish what those “norms” are.

    2. We should all be sending flowers and giftcards to Preet.

      “Thanks so much for doing more than we could ever to do to prove our fucking point.”

      1. Indeed, timbers.

  2. Broadly speaking, there’s no question that the country is becoming more libertarian?more skeptical of centralized power, especially when it’s wielded by the state.

    Entire volume of citations needed.

    1. there’s no question that the country is becoming more libertarian

      What if the country is becoming more libertarian?

      /Judge — Expressed in the style of Judge Napolitano

    2. Anarcho Socialists are libertarians, right?

    3. Unwarranted optimism inclines people to see only what they wish. Libertarian victories are usually overt and sharply visible, whereas tyranny encroaches very incrementally, and over decades.

      1. And constant. Seeing libertarian victories vs tyrannical encroaches is like celebrating when the oncoming tide has a slightly smaller wave than the ones before. The tide is still coming in, and one smaller wave isn’t going to slow it down.

    4. We see every election day there is a shit-ton of the population who believes the unquestioned authority of their betters is the way to utopia.

      1. UTulpaia!

    5. “Broadly speaking, there’s no question that the country is becoming more libertarian?more skeptical of centralized power, especially when it’s wielded by the state.”

      True.
      Why, just this morning, the SCOTUS smacked down an attempt to ‘interpret’ the wording of a law to mean the opposite….
      Oh, wait!

  3. Broadly speaking, there’s no question that the country is becomingmore libertarian?more skeptical of centralized power, especially when it’s wielded by the state.

    Keep beating that dead horse, Nick. Your eternal optimism is too precious for words.

  4. I’ve got a new column up at The Daily Beast

    You don’t say? I’m sure the good folks at The Daily Beast are all really broken up about Reason having to go through this.

  5. I expect the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York to be arrested and indicted any day now for tyrannical, unconstitutional persecution of American citizens under color of law.

    /Naive idealist.

    1. God, we can only hope!! I’d like to see a reenactment of that scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation….you know where cousin Eddie gets Clark’s boss on a leash and parades him around. Thank God for Reason.

      1. Ah, shit. Here we go, again. Some prosecutor is off scratching together a subpoena to find out who block30 really is.

  6. Am I the only one who thinks the picture would be more relevant to the situation if the flag were on the peoples’ foreheads, and the word subpoena were taped across the peoples’ mouths?

    Then again, they have those earpiece things that usually symbolize government agents, so I guess the picture is supposed to symbolize Americans censoring the government’s subpoena power? Really doesn’t seem applicable here.

    Ah, well; fortunately, the picture is the least important part of the blog post.

    1. But fucking weird and incomprehensible enough that I ended up getting hung there as well. I thought the earpieces meant they was reporters. Shows what in hell I know. Nichts! Eventually I come to thinking it meant they was saying, “USA! Number one!”, but they’s actually thinking about the subp?nas they got this morning, which they couldn’t directly address. Then I said, “But why is there four of them? And all identical?”

      1. Ooh, the “earpieces symbolize” reporters idea didn’t occur to me, but that’s probably what it’s supposed to be. I just thought “Secret Service” and “Agents from The Matrix” first.

        Your interpretation is probably what the artist was going for, but I’m glad that I’m not the only one who had trouble reaching it.

  7. Is there a gag order on the AM Links?

  8. So am I the only one who wants to know how things are going, or have gone, for the woodchipper-6? I expect that if they did end up behind bars (highly unlikely) we would know about that.

    Did each of them get a visit from some number of FBI agents? Are there on-going discussions between the feds and the lawyers representing the W-6? Are our brothers (and sisters?) OK now?

    1. No visits so far for me. I have my suspicions about other actions they may have taken, but nothing I can prove.

    2. Nothing overt as yet. What are they going to do, put me on the No Fly List? Been there since 2004.

  9. Why do the folks at Reason hate the comments section so much?

    For crying out loud, I feel like half of the posts about this subponea and gag order consist of “We really really really hate the commenters. Every one of them. Hyperbolically speaking, of course, we wish that each of them would do the universe a favor and run themselves over with a truck. Also, judicial over reach is bad, in case anybody wondered how a libertarian website would feel about this.”

    And that is the nice stuff coming from Nick.

    Also, it is interesting that Nick doesn’t quote the sections in his article where he grouses like an old man about kids on his lawn about the comment section in his post here. Feels distincly like he went and told his “real friends” over at TDB how he feels about the loosers he has to hang out with in his job.

    1. It’s no coincidence that about half the articles on Reason now start off with “I have a piece at Politico” or “I have a piece at the Daily Beast” or “I have a piece at Time Magazine”.

      1. It’s the age-old question: “Which came first, the whoring for other publications or the snarky comments directed at the staffer?”

    2. It because Reason hates Truth. And these commenters is the father of Truth.

  10. They certainly don’t rise to the level of threat that should trigger requests from federal prosecutors.

    So one might say the comments were “triggering”? That doesn’t sound all that far fetched when you read of the social justice admonishment that Judge Forrest laid down on Ulbricht while she justified destroying his life.

    1. “There was no democracy in what you did.” I mean what the fuck does that have to do with justice?

  11. “it is clear that he (assuming it is a he) is not exactly a threat to anyone other than common decency.”

    Et, tu, Nick?

    1. That stood out to me as well.

  12. “The comments betrayed a naive belief in an afterlife and karma, were grammatically and spelling-challenged, hyperbolic, and? completely within the realm of acceptable Internet discourse,

    True threat analysis always examines context. Here, the context strongly weighs in favor of hyperbole. The comments are on the Internet, a wretched hive of scum, villainy, and gaseous smack talk”

    Gee tanks I gess.

    I almost prefer Reason rats us out next time.

    1. Indeed. here is another one.

      “Its (sic) judges like these that should be taken out back and shot”

      Anyone who uses (sic) as a form of ridicule should be ashamed. It is just a snobby way to mock. (sic) reads “Look at this dope. What a dope, right? At least we know what really IS right.” Sycophantic pandering to the left is the last thing that we should see in an article on constricting free speech and abuse of power.

      1. It’s even worse given Reason’s own, uh, difficulties with their own grammar and spelling.

        And they have editors and are supposed to be professionals. So mocking internet commenters for their lack of apostrophes is a little hypocritical, in addition to being petty.

        That said, using (sic) is absolutely justifiable if you’re reading something allegedly professional which is riddled with spelling and grammar errors.

        1. Certainly. There are definately reasons to use (sic). My point is that, often, (sic) is used as a preening and signaling technique. It is, often, the equivilent of a “knowing look” you give your friend, and then stiffle a laugh.

          1. “There are definately (sic) reasons to use (sic).”

            I think your opinion on its use betrays your insecurities of your own grasp of spelling and grammar. Your fear of being called out for poor spelling and grammar is apparently justified.

            1. (stifles laugh)

            2. Yes, well. Details.

              I rekonize that I am incompotent. And I am comfortable with being corrected.

              Believe me, you could hardly be me without learning to deal with constant correction.

              I don’t mind the correction, I take issue with the snobbery.

              1. I just couldn’t resist. Anyhoo, using (sic) in the comments section is totally snobby, but Nick was quoting a comment as part of an article in his capacity as a journalist, so its use was warranted IMHO.

      2. Definitely. Considering that a significant number of my comments become squirrel bait because I am posting them from a crowded train somewhere in Tokyo – and I assume some number of other posters are sending comments in from androids and tablets under similar situations, it’s (no sic) lucky that most posts are even legible.

      3. You’re (sic) in the head.

    2. The cocktails do not mix themselves Mon frere

    3. Well. I think hell is kind of the opposite of karma.

    4. Well, they did rat us out this time, but I don’t hold that against them.

      1. Meant to add: the service they did us by notifying us far outweighed the fact that they had to comply with the subpoena.

  13. The comments ain’t so bad but…

    dailybeastialty 25 minutes ago
    No doubt the people at “Reason” didn’t realize they were voting for a wannabe tyrant when they were voting “historic”

    leftistmenace_1 45 minutes ago
    Private citizens, doing their civic duty by sitting on a grand jury, issued the subpoena. This isn’t a case of a federal agent on a power trip harassing someone.

    leftistmenace_1 1 hour ago
    @isteve

    Except for the fact that you’re not free to threaten a federal judge.

    Moi: Spoken like a true faux-rational lefty.

    1. leftistmenace_1 45 minutes ago
      Private citizens, doing their civic duty by sitting on a grand jury, issued the subpoena. This isn’t a case of a federal agent on a power trip harassing someone.

      There’s a guy who knows next to nothing about modern grand juries.

      1. We’re gonna get that bastard ham sandwich!

    2. And how do we know these commenters didn’t make more specific threats? We only have the example Gillespie provided and he has an anti-American agenda.

      We’re gonna need a bigger tard cage.

      1. I’m thinking Oklahoma, but maybe we’ll have to carve it out of eastern Montana.

        1. New York City. The place is full of tards already and that includes certain people who infest FDSNY.

          1. I saw that movie.

            Snake Plissken, correct?

            1. Snake Plissken? I thought you was dead!

              Nice boots, though.

              NYC will not be large enough. It is already near capacity. You’d have to “intelligence cleanse” the 5 boroughs, and relocate the sensible NYawkers elsewhere. Too much tsuris.

              Kevin R

              Watching the Mets. I love NY, I just can’t afford to live there.

    3. He’s been linked to by Drudge, so there’s going to be a lot of Obama tie-ins.

      1. And just general tinfoilish stuff. I peruse drudge just to get a feel for the talking points I’m going to be hearing all day, but his version of a commentariat is more “pitchforks and torches” than “woodchoppers and ammo conservation”.

        1. I immensely enjoy Drudge because he’s always trolling the news media who (self-loathingly) follow him.

    4. Bipartisan stupidity. This is a comment over at Townhall on this same issue:

      “Making threats against a Judge isn’t kewl, and, is in fact against the law, joke or not! Some ppl are beyone stupid!”

      1. Now there is a comment crying out for some (sic)s!

        1. One might even comment that that commenter is (sic)k.

    5. I wonder, when they felate their fed.gov deity so fervently, if they use those industrial grade knee pads or if they just get into the pain that way.

      1. Not to go all (sic) on you, but fellate has a double-l.

        Standards, please!

        Kevin R

  14. “There’s every reason to believe that various publications, social media sites, and other platforms are getting tens of thousands of similar requests a year.”

    I don’t doubt that the federal government is abusing other sites and publications. This number seems a bit high, though. Would you mind sharing your evidence for this?

    1. Google received nearly 10,000 in a 6 month period just from America. It probably received more it wasn’t allowed to specifically disclose. http://www.google.com/transpar…..countries/

      1. That’s an impressive set of figures on the link. And frightening.

  15. “You learned the two greatest thing in life, never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.””

    Robert De Niro (as Jimmy the Gent)

  16. Love how we were painted with the “grammatically and spelling challenged” brush when they don’t even give us a FREAKING EDIT BUTTON GODDAMNIT!

    1. That just shows we’re also too impatient to properly check our spelling and grammar.

      1. Especially split infinitives.

        1. They’re “something up with which we should not put”.

          1. +1 for the Churchill reference.

    2. Especially considering the source. Nick calling out people for grammar and spelling errors is like Tony calling someone retarded.

      1. “Tony calling someone retarded”

        I lol’ed.

    3. “Freaking edit button, goddamnit!”

      How dare you fail to use a comma in that sentence. Don’t make me (sic) the hounds on you.

      1. Im getting (sic) of this grammar discussion.

        1. Freaking edit button – goddammit!

          Almost never wrong to use a dash.

  17. It’s curious that a federal judge with significant experience on the bench would be so thin-skinned about Internet outrage after she just sentenced a young man to life in prison for a victimless crime. The harsh nature of that sentence was her idea–she could have saved the young man a decade or two, but instead took everything without even the slightest hint of mercy. And then she’s upset at nasty words used against her and uses the fedgov to harass them? What is wrong with this person?

    How lacking in self-awareness do you have to be to consider comments like these to be unreasonably disrespectful and worthy of persecution? And how little do you care about your reputation to engage in petty harassment, knowing that this case is going to be one of the few things anyone remembers about you when you surrender the bench to the next juridical redass?

    One thing’s for certain: between Ulbricht (may the appeal or a pardon be with him) and this nonsense, neither the judge nor the AUSA have any intuitive sense of fair play or justice, which crazy liberals like me tend to like in jurist types. Again, the fruits of positive law.

    1. It’s curious that a federal judge with significant experience on the bench would be so thin-skinned about Internet outrage after she just sentenced a young man to life in prison for a victimless crime.

      Well, you can tell what kind of judge she is by the sentence – the hanging kind. She it’s not *really* that surprising that she would go after some harmless internet commenters in a fit of petty revenge, is it?

    2. “” between Ulbricht (may the appeal or a pardon be with him) and this nonsense, neither the judge nor the AUSA have any intuitive sense of fair play or justice, which crazy liberals like me tend to like in jurist types””

      yeah, don’t hold your breath there buddy.

      “”There was the old myth of divine intervention. You blasphemed, and a lightning bolt struck you. That was a little steep too. If punishment is at all proportionate to the offense, then power becomes watered. The only way you generate the proper attitude of awe and obedience is through immense and disproportionate power.”
      ? Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead

      1. There was a perfectly good Rand quote you could have used there, but noooo, you had to invoke Norman Mailer instead.

    3. The harsh nature of that sentence was her idea–she could have saved the young man a decade or two, but instead took everything without even the slightest hint of mercy.

      Yes and her reasoning was “There was no democracy in what you did.” I don’t care how much time on the bench you’ve had, if you think justice has ANYTHING to do with “democracy”, you don’t belong on the bench at all.

      1. Or if you can emit statements that fucking nonsensical, then you oughtn’t to speak at all.

    4. I’m not sure the problem is positive law per se. It’s one type of positive law in particular; statutory law, which is arbitrary power masquerading as law. Other types of man-made law like common law are not necessarily arrived at arbitrarily.

      1. As I understand it, common law is derived or discovered rather than drafted. That law would exist beyond the reach of kings, houses, or even judges (at least honest ones who wanted to keep working as as judge). It’s the sort of thing you’d know when you see it, but no one would dare presume to record it for fear that people would mistake the symbol for the meaning.

        I’m increasingly convinced that good law always has its basis in unwritten rules of conduct and that writing a law down is the surest way to destroy its aims and create a litigious spirit in the people. They’ll make lawyers of us all.

        1. Doesn’t common law allow for revenge? By common law traditions then, wouldn’t the family of the person given a life sentence for a victimless crime be justified in going after the judge?

          1. Doesn’t common law allow for revenge?

            No, it allows for justice (precise repayment). Justice is (and is only in the human sense) repayment for a violation of NAP. An eye for an eye. A life for a life.

            If you imprison an innocent person for life, then you should be imprisoned for life. That is justice.

    5. They really seemed to try to bias potential juries in the trial, too.

      I remember when the government was saying for the media’s consumption that he had hired a hit man or something, too.

      http://arstechnica.com/tech-po…..-attempts/

      No such charges ever materialized.

      Why?

      Were they completely manufactured to poison the well and prejudice a possible jury?

      You don’t just drop six charges like that!

      1. Supposedly he will face a murder trial in the State of Maryland. I’m eager to see how exactly they try to railroad him given their complete lack of evidence.

  18. I’m a little offended that you claim the comments were in poor taste, considering that this blog has published gruesome photos of severed heads and corpses.

    1. It seems to me(and I think this goes back to the original quarrel with Postrel) that many of the writers here don’t understand the distinction between substance and style. We’ve got a lot of really bright people here. Reading the comments its obvious that many here have read Hayek, Adam Smith, De Tocqueville, etc and that they have put a lot of thought into freedom and government. Sometimes we express ourselves in crude ways,(for a variety of good reasons) but that does not diminish the quality of the thought being expressed. But u guess some people would rather associate with over civilized morons who understand nothing about freedom or property than intelligent assholes.

      1. A variety of good reasons…

        I admit that, as somebody who enlisted into the Marines under a guaranteed combat arms contract – to ensure that my ASVAB scores didn’t put me in a desk job – with the understanding that I would be defending the Constitution, my passions for freedom run deeper than they may in most.

        I firmly believe that the United States is and, despite its shortcomings, has been at the cutting edge of human cultural development with respect for individual value and contribution. So those who run counter to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and the bill of rights, in my mind, are opposing human development.

        Should it come down to it I intend to stand firmly in their path. Molon labe.

        1. Wow, I could have written almost all this comment myself.

          +1 Sam Adams (either one).

          1. Same here.

            At Army training, the Constitution *is* my authorized holy book.

    2. I can see how some people might think comments about feeding people through a wood chipper feet first might be in bad taste.

      Personally, I like the Cramps.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIQR_3TPtJw

      Trigger Warning: Contains images of transvestites and people wearing Confederate flags dancing…ahem…sort of together, not to mention a self-stimulating lead singer performing fellatio on a microphone. Your employer MIGHT find some of it in bad taste. I can see how different people might disagree about that.

    3. Point being that it’s certainly possible to love something in bad taste.

    4. Also, wearing a leather jacket everywhere goes against common decency.

  19. One of the commenters had literally posted thousands of comments at Reason.com, from which it is clear that he (assuming it is a he) is not exactly a threat to anyone other than common decency.

    I hope you don’t mean Rhywun by this. That would be a shitty thing to say.

    1. He’s writing about that from the perspective of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

      It’s not his personal opinion. He’s attacking the legal rationale for the subpoena.

      1. Yes, this. Jesus.

    2. I mean, they fought to get Rhywun’s name taken off the subpoena becasue his innocence was so painfully obvious.

      And Gillespie has made the point about the innocence of Rhywun’s comment being so painfully obvious numerous times.

  20. Getting the subpoena was bad, but the gag order was worse.

    I’ll defer to Ken White’s Popehat post, which everyone should read:

    http://popehat.com/2015/06/22/…..e-thought/

    There doesn’t appear to have been any reasonable basis to ask for the gag order in the first place.

    And there doesn’t appear to be any reason to have kept the gag order in force for 11 days.

    Ken White goes on to make a couple of other observations:

    1) “The government hasn’t unsealed its application for a gag order. I hope that someone will use legal process to compel it to do so. Here’s my prediction: when it comes to light, it will contain no more substantive information than appears on the face of the subpoena.”

    2) “Judge Frank Maas [the judge that rubber stamped the gag order], by the way, is a colleague of Judge Forrest, the target of the questioned language and the subject of the subpoena. They work in the same courthouse.”

    I second White’s suggestion that someone compel the government to unseal the application for the gag order.

    I suggest Reason do something like a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money to do so. How much money do you need to go get that application unsealed?

    1. I mean, who here wants to know if a federal judge gagged a political website devoted to freedom of speech because he was angry at them for what they wrote about one of his friends and colleagues?

      Who here wants to know if a federal judge orchestrated the targeting of innocent commenters for saying things like “there’s a special hot place in hell” specifically because we were criticizing that judge?

      Wouldn’t you be willing to kick in a few bucks to find out?

      I know Reason has limited resources for this stuff–but that’s what Kickstarter is for.

      1. I would be happy to contribute for just that reason. Frank “rubber stamp” Maas isn’t much of a judge, imo, and is a bigger problem than the feckless Forrest.

      2. With respect for the brush we’ve been tarred with… Fuckin’ A, I would contribute to that.

      3. Lookie here…no one needs to see that gag order…I am positive it is all on the up and up. If there was a ‘conspiracy’ I am sure it would leak out because those bumbling idiots can’t keep a secret.

        Lets focus more on important issues.

        Which candidate for president most supports gay marriage? and who most dislikes the confederate racist flag? Those are the top two issues of any true libertarian with good social skills.

        1. All the media is competing to bring us stories of corruption from the government. Don’t you think NBC would love to break a news report on judges colluding illegally like this? If there was something to this story you can bet your faith in free markets that the free media in the US would be breaking the story.

      4. we don’t need to. We already know.

  21. This is probably the best thing that ever happened to Reason, in retrospect.

  22. I’ve heard Nick’s assertion before that the country is becoming more libertarian and I strongly disagree. What happened to Reason with this one sided information grab (give the government whatever they want to know, but divulge nothing they don’t want to share) should be convincing enough. He’s confusing our increasing social tolerance towards gay people with a supposed distrust of the status quo that just isn’t there.

    1. For some it’s Mex(sic)an ass-sex all the way down…

    2. “I’ve heard Nick’s assertion before that the country is becoming more libertarian and I strongly disagree.”

      I think it’s entirely possible that it is becoming more libertarian in some ways and less libertarian in others. I would point out several things that suggest a general trend away from big government:
      – The popularity of Rand Paul
      – The rise of services like Uber, AirBnB, Lyft, etc. that allow individuals to freely exchange services and skirt government regulators
      – Increasing pro-gun viewpoints (outside of ultra-liberal havens)

  23. “Reason.com, a site with excellent content but cursed with a group of commenters who think such trash talk is amusing.”

    Why so serious, Ken? Such trash talk is amusing. Why else would Carlin, Stanhope, Jefferies, et al be famous comedians while meeker yet myriad undoubtedly more knowledgable people are virtually unknown? Dark Lord said it best in his comment above. I get the nut punches from the articles, but I get many orders of magnitude more amusement, exposure to various perspectives, and ideological refinement from the comments. Reason without a comment section would be hardly worth reading.

    1. I love you Table Flipper. /sigh =)

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  25. Just to digress a bit: A woodchipper seems like an impractical was to dispose of a body. The DNA evidence left in the woodchipper would be almost impossible to get rid of without destroying the woodchipper completely.

    Richard B. Crafts used a woodchipper and chainsaw to dispose of his wifes body. He was caught and convicted, and DNA evidence was used against him.

    http://murderpedia.org/male.C/c/crafts-richard.htm

  26. The biggest threat to freedom is centralized government

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