Barack Obama

5 Obama Administration Accomplishments Libertarians Might Appreciate

From starting efforts on police and occupational reform to helping privatize the space race, here are things we'll miss about Barack Obama.

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White House

The Obama administration has been defined by a lot of big, dumb fails, including the 2009 stimulus, Obamacare, and a failure to contain the Islamic State (ISIS). President Obama and the Democrats spent their period of single-party control (2009-2010) successfully pushing a progressive agenda that locked in rising debt levels and led to massive electoral losses in 2010 and beyond. For much of his presidency he was hostile to state experiments in drug legalization, he dragged his feet on marriage equality, and he left a legacy of hundreds of new onerous federal regulations. His administration avoided transparency, politicized numerous issues, and often ignored root policy problems. In foreign policy especially, the Obama administration careened from one disaster to another—the president tried unsuccessfully to postpone the end of the war in Iraq, ordered a troop surge in Afghanistan, and then wasted any opportunity that might have created for a disengagement. He committed the U.S. military to an intervention in Libya for which he did not even attempt to get permission from Congress. Nor did he justify the action under the post-9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that's used to justify interventions from Afghanistan to Nigeria. U.S. troops did return to Libya last year, presumably under the auspices of the post-9/11 AUMF, to fight ISIS, which did not exist in Libya before the U.S.-backed intervention. Troops also returned to Iraq for that reason.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration did accomplish some things that just might hold up from a libertarian perspective. As his administration transitions into the history books, here are five actions that libertarians can appreciate:

1. Police Accountability & Criminal Justice Reform

Since the start of the Obama administration, the Department of Justice (DOJ) started 25 "pattern or practice" investigations into police misconduct at various law enforcement agencies. According to the DOJ, the Civil Rights Division has 19 agreements currently being enforced—14 of those are consent decrees, which are settlements in which police departments agree to reforms without admitting any liability for misconduct uncovered by the DOJ. Such investigations are not new to the Obama administration—the DOJ began to launch them in 1994 under the auspices of that year's crime bill. But the pace of the investigations is new. Between 1994 and 2008 the DOJ entered into 20 reform agreements as a result of a pattern-or-practice investigation. The Clinton administration DOJ opened 5 investigations that resulted in reform agreements, and the Bush administration 10. The Obama DOJ is handing over at least three open investigations (including that of the Orange County Sheriff's Department and District Attorney's Office) to the incoming Trump administration, plus the 19 agreements currently in enforcement.

The increased pace of federal investigations of systemic police misconduct is not the only way the Obama administration has moved the cause of police accountability forward. Obama's "task force on 21st century policing" was purely a reaction to the national attention to protests over police brutality in Ferguson and the response by militarized police, and its report was largely, as Scott Shackford characterized it, a "dream journal," but it was nevertheless an important moment in bringing the issue of police reform into the mainstream political debate.

Obama also has a number of limited accomplishments on criminal justice reform, although ultimately Democrats in Congress torpedoed bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation over their opposition to mens rea reform that would minimize the number of "accidental criminals," just the kind of concept that ultimately saved Hillary Clinton from federal indictment. Nevertheless, Obama is the first U.S. president to leave office with a smaller federal prison population than the one he inherited, has advocated for sentencing reform, and reversed a directive for federal prosecutors to always seek the harshest sentences available. He lays out some of these accomplishments, and a supersized serving of embellishment in an article in the Harvard Law Review. He also shortened more sentences than any of his predecessors in the White House.

2. Immigration Reform

President Obama leaves on balance a poor immigration legacy. He and the Democratic Congress failed to tackle the issue when they had control of the executive and legislative branches. The Obama administration reached a record high for deportations in 2013, and efforts by President Obama and the Republican Congress failed to produce any reform, the legislative effort becoming an exercise in "coming back for more" goodies. Nevertheless, in late 2014 Obama ordered a reprioritization in immigration enforcement that deferred deportation for up to 5 million people, mostly those who came illegally as children, or who had American-born children themselves. It was the first relief for otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants since limited efforts by the Clinton administration and the Republican Congress in the 1990s.

In his last week, Obama also ended the "wet foot/dry foot" policy for Cuban immigrants, drawing praise from restrictionists and immigration reformers alike. As with many of his actions, the ultimate consequences won't be known until the next administration acts off it—the Cuba move could lead to broader reforms toward permitting more political refugees to enter, from places like Cuba and Venezuela, or it could become the first step in implementing restrictions to reduce the flow of legal immigrants into the U.S.

3. Occupational Licensing Reform

In early 2015, the White House started to signal a possible interest in reducing occupational licensing barriers. "By one estimate, licensing restrictions cost millions of jobs nationwide and raise consumer expenses by over one hundred billion dollars," a Treasury Department report released that summer read. It was an important step in acknowledging what libertarian critics have for years identified as a detrimental government intervention into the economic sphere and an abrogation of basic freedoms. Last year the Obama administration announced $7.5 million in grants to organizations working on reducing occupational licensing requirements and making such licenses usable across state lines.

The Obama administration's embrace of rolling back occupational licensing came concurrently with pushes at the state level and a bipartisan effort in Congress, which means it could still lead to positive reforms that won't be as easily reversible as many of Obama's executive actions.

4. Privatization in Space

President Obama's space policy was, as Katherine Mangu-Ward reports in next month's issue of Reason magazine, "one of his administration's bright spots." Obama cut the pork-laden Bush-era Constellation program, a planned successor to the scrapped space shuttle, and instead supported the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services project, which, as Mangu-Ward notes, costs less than a single shuttle flight. The program encouraged private companies to work toward providing delivery services to the International Space Station, resulting, she writes, in "successful public-private partnerships with Orbital Sciences and Elon Musk's SpaceX. An adjacent effort created Commercial Resupply Services contracts with private companies to deliver cargo to the space station, and later commercial crew vehicles to carry human passengers."

Privatizing space will yield benefits in technological progress at lower costs, which are difficult trends for even the most big government-motivated government to successfully thwart. The Obama era could be the dawn of an era of exciting private enterprise in space.

5. Commutation of Chelsea Manning's Sentence

With four days left in office, President Obama announced that he was commuting the sentence of Private Chelsea Manning, to end in May of this year instead of 2045. Manning was convicted on charges related to her disclosures of government documents including video of U.S. airstrikes on civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, documents related to the war in Iraq, and nearly a quarter million diplomatic cables from the Department of State. The disclosures revealed a lot about how U.S. foreign policy was conducted, in contrast to how it was presented to Americans and the rest of the world. At the time of Manning's exposure as the source of the leaks, Obama said it was clear the private "broke the law."

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor whose disclosures to Glenn Greenwald blew the whistle on the U.S. government's massive surveillance efforts at home and abroad, urged President Obama to grant Manning clemency, and Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, offered to surrender himself to U.S. authorities (provided his rights are guaranteed) if Obama granted Manning clemency. The president said Assange's comments played no role in his decision.

The commutation does, however, complicate the Democratic narrative about Wikileaks (which also helped Snowden find sanctuary in Russia) as a Russian patsy for releasing emails from the Democratic National Committee and the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, which, like the Manning disclosures, offered Americans an inside look at how their leaders operate. For his part, Obama said the Manning commutation "made sense" to him. "Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence," Obama said, at his last press conference as president. "It made sense to commute, and not pardon her sentence… I feel very comfortable that justice has been served, and a message has still been sent."

NEXT: Obama's constitutional legacy

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  1. Stop it. You can’t make me like him. I won’t let you. I’ve made up my mind already.

    John? I need you.

    1. EXACTLY THE SORT OF GARBAGE ARTICEL WE SHOULD HAVE EXPECTED FROM SCOTT

      1. Excellent.

        1. Meh. I would have misspelled “expected”, instead.

          1. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

          2. John would have spelled it “expectorated”.

            1. The hallmark of a good johno is its Freudian quality.

      2. Not bad, but about 300 words short.

        1. No kidding. I am about to scroll down. Will I be able to make it over the yokel walls of text to the promised land of the most recent comments?

      3. Ok, that was funny.

      4. What makes it better is that Ed wrote the article.

  2. Thin gruel

    1. No. Shit.

      The only thing to like about the pinko twink is seeing his ass walk out of the oval office for the last time. He has done so many spiteful, hateful things large and small I wouldn’t even know how to start listing them.

      Good riddance. Adios motherfucker.

      1. “The only thing to like about the pinko twink is seeing his ass walk out of the oval office for the last time.”

        Breitbart is that way –>

        1. Are you sure? I looked over there and all i saw was the wall of my office.

          1. chemjeff is a dick….

        2. And Pismo Beach is thataway.

          1. Shoulda’ made that left at Albuquerque!

          2. I knew I should have taken that left at Albuquerque….

        3. I think Suthenboy is tapping his foot on the men’s room floor. “I hate to see you leave but I love to watch you go”

          1. +1 wide stance

        4. New guy chemjeff, you got run off your old place. don’t start being a dick here too.

      2. Fast and Furious. The IRS scandal. The $2 billion spent building Healthcare.gov. The Veterans Administration letting veterans die waiting for care. The Office of Personnel Management hacking. Lying about Bowe Berghdahl. Solyndra . Jonathan Gruber’s declaration that Obamacare depended upon the “stupidity of American voter.” The stimulus “was riddled with a massive labor scheme that harmed workers and cheated unsuspecting American taxpayers.” Prostitution and incompetence in the U.S. Secret Service. Hillary and her private e-mail server. The Department of Justice secretly reviewed the phone records of at least 20 phone lines of Associated Press reporters ? their work, home, and cell-phone lines. The administration’s handling of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The Department of Justice’s decision to call Fox News reporter James Rosen a criminal “co-conspirator” in leaking classified information. The Department of Justice punishing and prosecuting a record number of whistleblowers. Benghazi ? the failure to provide Chris Stephens with the security he requested, the inability to put together a rescue operation that night, and the false explanation to the public afterwards blaming a video. The Obama administration made hostage ransom payments to the Iranian government and lied about having done so. I’m sure you can remember others.

        1. Issuing waivers to Obamacare in violation of the law.

          Attacking Libya in violation of both the War Powers Act *and* UN Article 39.

          Running guns to ISIS via the non-existent Free Syrian Army

          Transferring funds to the UN Climate Fund without congressional authorization.

          Allowing (if not encouraging) EPA to violate FOIA and evade congressional oversight via setting up misnamed email accounts for senior management to use.

          1. Attempting to bribe insurers through the federal judgment fund. Looking the other way at Clinton’s criminal FOIA avoidance scheme.

        2. Cash for Clunkers was another retarded brainchild that should never be forgotten. Obama’s “smart management” technocracy was nothing but failures front to back. Pathetic.

          1. Cash for Clunkers was not just retarded, it was vicious and evil. It made the lives of poor people significantly worse by raising the price of used cars.

            1. It made the lives of poor people significantly worse by raising the price of used cars.

              Fear not, he compounded it by letting the EPA run riot which has also driven up the price of new cars.

            2. Cash for Clunkers started in Nazi Pelosi’s House, when Bush was in office. It took until 2009 before it was implemented.

        3. The Iran Cash Lift

          1. Turn on your cashlight,
            Let it shine wherever you go.
            Let it make a nuclear glow
            For all the world to see.

            Turn on your cashlight,
            In the middle of a mullah’s dream.
            Don’t wake me up too soon,
            Gonna take a ride across the moon,
            You and me.

            1. Aww… I see a little ET in a burqa…

              1. Noooo. Don’t ruin ET for me. It was a hoodie, not a burqa. And he was trying to get back home, not stay here illegally.

                1. E.T. in a burga, I know
                  I know, it’s serious
                  My, my, my, my, my, my alien, goodbye

                2. He was here to illegally direct funds to aliens.

                  1. He probably wanted to have an anchor baby with Elliot, but the government got there in time.

                    E.T. wasn’t sick, the government doctors gave him an abortion.

                    1. E.T. wasn’t sick, the government doctors gave him an abortion

                      You are a magnificent and highly disturbed man.

        4. I would also like to note the STUPIDEST thing that Obama ever said in office, to very little comment:

          Barack Obama, in Osawatomie, Kansas, 6 December, 2011-

          Now, just as there was in Teddy Roosevelt’s time, there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes — especially for the wealthy — our economy will grow stronger.

          Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ’50s and ’60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade. I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this theory.

          RIGHT!!! It’s big government that made us the wealthiest society in human history!!!

          1. Wasn’t it Big Government Federal Reserve who was created to protect us from depressions, and fail to raise interest prices in the late 20’s?

            The Useful Idiot also forgets the forgotten recession of 1920-21, where the market DID get the US out.

            1. The Useful Idiot also forgets the forgotten recession of 1920-21, where the market DID get the US out.

              Well, that’s one of those inconvenient truths. He wouldn’t want to let the facts get in the way of a good narrative.

        5. Doubling the national debt?

        6. Don’t forget what he foisted upon the supreme court.

    2. Took the words right out of my mouth. If 1/5th of the positive things he did was to pardon Chelsea Manning, then I’ll go on record as saying that at least Hitler seemed to be fairly kind to animals.

      1. I believe you’re right. Hitler was certainly a vegetarian.

    3. Thin gruel

      Yup.

      One point was licensing reform and contained just enough substance to make Trump seem concise and detail oriented.

      The other was commuting Manning’s sentence and, brilliantly, Reason goes full SJW-tard on the subject. Nevermind that apparently ‘we tortured some people’ and a whistleblower was dismissed for bringing it up. A tranny who actually did commit a crime will be set free!

  3. [extended trumpkin howl]

  4. “Remember, you too are mortal,” the bobblehead hissed. Recoiling in horror, Barry hurled the figurine at the wall, where it shattered.

    1. needs moar assplay

      1. I considered going there, but decided to take the classy route instead. Unlike your mom.

        1. It’s just a different sort of class.

          1. Kinda like CPR class, where there’s a dummy on the floor and everyone needs to use anti-bacterial wipes?

    2. Bemused as usual at his own likeness, the transient Emperor examined the toy in detail.

      MADE IN KENYA read the trinket’s foot; at which his Excellence looked about the room with a start, at sudden feeling of a presence in the room.

  5. 1. Police Accountability & Criminal Justice Reform

    His idea of reform seems to include blaming problems on racism, demonizing poor Officer Wilson, then saying “never mind it turns out he’s not guilty but let’s bury that announcement so we don’t get too embarrassed.”

    And just because you get a consent decree doesn’t mean you’ve gotten at the root of the problem – the consent decree may simply be a grab-bag of phony prog “reforms.”

    2. Immigration Reform

    You mean undermining the rule of law?

    3. Occupational Licensing Reform

    Interesting, I didn’t know that.

    4. Privatization in Space

    Interesting, I didn’t know that

    5. Commutation of Chelsea Manning’s Sentence

    I’m not sure what to think of this one.

    1. But…I like him commuting those sentences, the one area where the President actually gets to be all unilateral without destroying the Constitution.

      1. 3…what’s the record of Obama’s judges in cases of arbitrary licensing laws?

    2. Immigration reform is one of the things that got us Trump.

      1. He needed 5 and snuck it in there, right in the middle.

    3. It’s an issue of first principles. His work with criminal justice and (especially) immigration are problematic in either the means or end. Likewise, the Manning commutation is less a question of information and more a troubling issue of choosing gender issues over proper military policy (see also the matter of women in combat).

      Occupational licensing was a good start (as with the space work, although that was more to loosen NASA up for climate and outreach work), yet he opted to focus his time on culture war issues in lieu of concentrating enough on these actually-helpful policies.

    4. 6. Obama takes care of his kids

      1. You SUPPOSED to take care of your kids, you low-expectation-having motherfucker!

    5. HI The Fusionist, This is my first post ever, but been reading for a while.
      I could not agree more on items 1, 2, and 5

      a small note on items 3 and 4

      4- Only a progressive could spend $7.5 Million and call it a Libertarian policy. Giving grants to political pals is not the same as making change.

      5- public-private does not equal privatization. It equals cronyism.

  6. Why are we suddenly (?) looking for ways to find Obama less that 1005 entirely, lethally, wrong on everything?
    Math did not become false just because Hitler asserted that 2 + 2 is 4.
    Hitler did not become more admirable because he believed 2 + 2 is 4.
    I’m sure Obama was nice to his mother. He graduated college. There are countless things he has done that are not corrupt, vile, and evil. BFD. The bar is rather higher than that.

    At least up until sometime tomorrow, Obama is the worst president we have ever had. Regardless of whether he might have done this or that which one might find to be less than entirely out of bounds.

    1. He talked smack about his grandmother, and you just can’t trust a man who does that.

      1. “If I had my way no man guilty of golf would be eligible to any office of trust or profit under the United States, and all female athletes would be shipped to the white-slave corrals of the Argentine.”

        ? H.L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy

      2. Hell, he ran for president and no man, or woman, who does that can be trusted.

  7. I see a lot of “began to” and “started” and “planned” and “supported”

    and very little “achieved” or “changed”

    1. Well, like rescheduling MJ, he couldn’t actually do anything about of those things.

    2. *and, when you take out “commuting manning” and @*(#$&@ “something in outer space”…

      (the former probably not deserving to be counted since his admin never exactly objected to the super-punative sentencing in the first place, and the second because… because its ‘reaching’ in the literal and figurative senses of the term)

      you’re left with 3 things, 2 of which are mostly “hopeful/ambitious/promising” shifts of tone which have no real substantive change to policy and any of which would/can/will be reversed by decree by any subsequent ‘signaling by executive-order’-happy president)

      1. “Reaching” “for” “the” “stars” “.”

      2. That’s what has bothered me about Manning.

        His DOJ was the one that pushed for that sentence. His Bureau of Prisons is the one that held xit in solitary. For fucks sake, he’s basically getting credit for finally stopping something that he was ultimately responsible for all along.

        1. “I stopped hitting you with this chair. Don’t I get any credit for that?!?”

          1. “Yeah, it was a dick move on my part. That’s why I’m paying for your meal. Prick.”

        2. His DOJ was the one that pushed for that sentence.

          Eh. No, i’m no lawyer, but Manning was prosecuted under the UCMJ and the Pentagon, which i think has less political-manipulation involved. I don’t know what role the DoJ had, but i presumed they helped. If Obama wanted them to go ‘easier’, tho, i think he would have signaled it in the way he did w/ Bo Berghdahl, where he effectively exonerated the guy in public before the Court Martial even started.

          1. ^^This.

            Also, BO played part in prosecuting a number of actual whistle-blowers and then commutes the sentence of someone who could have easily been found guilty of treason.

            (Manning is not a whistleblower. Happening to indiscriminately release some data that may have did some potential good, while indiscriminately releasing massive amounts of data that likely did significant damage is nothing to cheer. The commutation was nothing but identity politics.)

            1. I agree re: your point about whistleblowing.

              i said as much in their post about mannings commutation. I don’t like him being lumped w/ snowden for multiple reasons, but that’s the biggest one – his leak of info was entirely indiscriminate and was motivated by nothing more than some petty spite over a broad objection to US activity – not any specific illegal/unconstitutional behavior.

              and the stuff he leaked ranged from trivial, to “exposing sources” stuff that gets spies killed.

              the recklessness/carelessness with which he did that is core to why what he did is a crime and not some public-service.

              I think he was over-prosecuted, but frankly think he probably served less time than he should have. I think its a shame that he’d be seen as some martyr rather than Snowden, who truly deserves far more respect and legal protection.

          2. Good point, G. Still, it was his Pentagon who threw the book at Manning.

      3. Yup. However many sentences he commutes hes still presiding over the fucking up of lots and lots of peoples lives over something he’s admitted to doing. He’s publicly said its safer than booze, but as far as I know hasn’t even attempted to reclassify it. So in conclusion, fuck him.

    3. Yeah 3/5 of these are things his administration basically just expressed some feelings about. And one of them is something that his administration declined to step in and fuck up, which is not nothing, but calling it an achievement seems a bit of a stretch. Also, Manning was jailed and abused on Obama’s watch, so commuting her sentence several years later on his way out the door is too little too late.

      1. Yeah 3/5 of these

        Racist!

        1. That is certainly the most racist fraction.

      2. That it is a good point about Manning. DOD treated him horribly when he was in jail before trial. That happened under Obama’s watch.

        1. DOD treated him horribly when he was in jail before trial. That happened under Obama’s watch.

          IMO, in this instance, the people on Manning’s side are being idiots. Obama, while walking out the door, has rather effectively taken a situation where an equivalent of torture was occurring and dissenters/detractors were being ignored or politically pressured for pointing it out and said, “Look, over there, a tranny!”

          1. Why are the people on Manning’s side being idiots? You can say that commuting Manning was a good thing while still paying attention to all the other evil shit Obama did/is doing.

            1. I don’t mean to say Manning is eclipsing all the other stuff Obama has done. Just that what happened to Manning was the effective torture of an American citizen on American soil. My understanding was that Manning’s treatment wasn’t unique, just somewhat excessive given his crime/status of conviction. And, not to exculpate the torturers in any way, but there’s plenty to suggest that Manning was contributing to or precipitating his social/personal isolation (even before he leaked information to Wikileaks).

              Remember Abu Ghraib? Remember that it happened in an impromptu war prison in a country we were at war with on the other side of the planet? I’m sure nobody remembers what happened to the whistleblowers in that case. I’m pretty sure most people can recall that only PFCs and Civilian Specialists received anything resembling punishment, right? It just seems like an exceedingly vacuous response to a more grievous offense against the American people and the only way to rationalize the disparity is the hyper-focus on Manning. I mean, for Christ’s sake, unlike some of the people in Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, we have pretty conclusive evidence and a subsequent conviction to indicate that Manning was supposed to be there.

              Rather than delving into the complexities like I saw with Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, I just see people going “Welp, xe got pardoned. I hate Obama but, good for xir.”

    4. He claimed credit again for starting to close Gitmo. Except for the actual closing part.

  8. 4. Privatization in Space

    Fucking up so badly that you have no choice but to hire outsiders is not an “accomplishment” even though the outcome is generally good for the country

    1. Quit disparaging all of my home improvement “accomplishments,” kinnath!

      1. I know, it’s like he has seen my attempts at plumbing!

      2. Why must I fail in every attempt at masonry????

    2. Well, practically everything that NASA takes credit for is built by defense contractors anyway…

    3. I like how the new program is counted as costing less than the shuttle when it has not flown yet. At this point in development the shuttle was supposed to be cheap too.

    4. Yes, can we cut the bullshit notion that Barry’s nasa was any less pork filled than those that came before? Yes, he cancelled the launch vehicles from constellation but he spent 8 fucking billion dollars on the capsule that sits atop them. That’s akin to keeping the sweet corinthian leather and dumping the engine and transmission. And don’t get me started on all the money he pissed away on global warming propaganda.

  9. RE: 5 Obama Administration Accomplishments Libertarians Might Appreciate
    From starting efforts on police and occupational reform to helping privatize the space race, here are things we’ll miss about Barack Obama.

    Here’s an accomplishment I appreciate from Obama.
    He’s leaving the White House.
    (Although his successor will prove to be just as bad.)

  10. All Obama’s gains on police accountability amount to one off actions by the DOJ that can and sadly will be reversed by the incoming administration. Obama’s lasting legacy on the issue is allowing his supporters to turn police accountability into a partisan issue where anyone arguing for police accountability is seen as being against the entire country and being on the side of chaos. Despite there being an increasing sense among the public that police do need to be made accountable, Obama and his supporters set that effort back a decade by poisoning the well and making it about racial politics rather than accountability.

    Obama accomplished nothing on immigration reform except inflame the country and cause them to vote for a restrictionist. His executive action and his refusal to enforce the law even when it related to criminals harmed the cause of immigration reform. Thanks to Obama, open borders is seen as a policy of allowing terrorists, criminals and minor children into the country and sticking the taxpayer with the bill and consequences.

    Occupational licensing is a state issue. The administration saying nice things about the need to reduce it means nothing.

    1. By pardoning Bradly Manning but not Edward Snowden, Obama harmed the cause of government transparency. Manning was not a whistle blower and released military secrets that put people’s lives in danger. That is in no way the same as what Snowden did. By pardoning Manning and not Snowden, Obama left the country with the impression that Snowden’s actions are worse than releasing military secrets that can get people killed.

      He was good on space policy. Otherwise, pretty sorry effort Ed.

      1. But, on the plus side, he kicked the legs out from under the “OMG, Wiki is a tool of the evil Russians that is evil.” I mean, if you pardon the guy who leaked a crapload of military stuff to Wiki, how bad can Wiki be?

        1. It is like Iowahawk said “leaking military secrets and troop strengths and plans that get people killed, no big deal. Leaking DNC emails, TREASON!!”

          It is just pathetic.

          1. Just who exactly got killed because of Manning?

            1. We will never know because we don’t know who got the information. But leaking unit strengths, movements and tactics generally does get people killed. If Manning didn’t actually get someone killed, it is by dumb luck not because what he did wasn’t a crime.

              But hey, he is a transvestite and they are sacred to Libertarians. So, he is by virtue of that guiltless.

              1. Shorter John: Nobody got killed because of Manning.

                1. I did hear from some of my friends who were in Afghanistan at the time that things heated up quite directly for some of our friends/allies, real quick. But I don’t have specific names – mostly provincial and district level folks. No big fish.

            2. Shorter Chipper.

              Manning is sacred.

      2. and released military secrets that put people’s lives in danger.

        How do you know this? I wouldn’t trust a single word from any government official or intelligence agency. Where’s the concrete evidence?

        And personally, I wouldn’t even care if it was the case. The government deserves to have many of its secrets released for engaging in unethical and oftentimes unconstitutional activities. I don’t care one bit if that results in less security, because I don’t value security above all else to begin with.

  11. [OT, breaking – will repost in PM Links]

    The Hill: Trump team prepares dramatic cuts [to government spending]

    The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.

    The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.

    Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years.

    [sings gayly] “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

    1. “eliminated or transferred to other agencies”

      I wonder which will be the preferred option?

      1. He’ll sell all the nukes to Russia!

    2. -1 swamp (?)

    3. Forgot to close blockquote tag.

    4. Reason, Please tell me how Trump is no more a friend to Libertarianism than Clinton?

      Look at his Cabinet picks and SCOTUS picks. You honestly think Clinton …. I’m just gonna stop right there.

      1. Well for starters.

        Trump’s evidently going to privatize CPB. Which is good. It will save the taxpayers millions.

        He is then going to turn around and spend billions on a pointless border wall…..

        1. CPB, NEA and NEH are truly small slivers of the great budget pie. BUT, the symbolic value of getting the government out of things it has no business being in is huge. This will also demoralize progs since these are their favorite programs – they will fight against those cuts just as hard as they will fight against actual threats to the BoR, possibly harder.

          1. Look I don’t care about “demoralizing progs” or any of that other tribal bullshit.

            We will see what the final numbers are, but in terms of practical impact, cutting many small things but bloating up a few large things isn’t much in the way of progress.

            1. Look I don’t care about “demoralizing progs” or any of that other tribal bullshit.

              I think demoralizing is the wrong word, but it’s not tribal bullshit. It’s politics, and it’s the type of politics that the authoritarian progs have been using to run circles around the GOP, libertarians, and other limited government types for 100 years. How many times did the Dems get something terrible passed by ginning up outrage about something completely different and attaching their pet project to a bill nominally purposed to fix the outrage?

              It’s a great tactic. It would be great if Trump used that tactic to shrink some of the worst parts of gov’t. I’m not holding out hope that he’s doing this, but the tactic in and of itself is sound.

            2. your name is chemjeff and you’re a member of the nevertrump tribe as you will continue to demonstrate.

        2. No, Mexico is going to pay for it – don’t you know ANYTHING, man?

    5. Sounds good. I hope he can get it done.

    6. Looks good. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    7. Boom: Trump eyes 10% spending cuts, 20% slash of federal workers

      We can dream.

      http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/boo…..le/2612037

      1. The spending reductions are expected to be used to help pay for Trump’s plan to boost the Pentagon’s budget, tax cuts and some pet projects, potentially including the anti-immigration wall on the nation’s southern border.

    8. Outside of the NNSA, which is the successor organization to the old Atomic Energy Commission and runs the national labs and maintains and owns the nuclear stockpile, the entire Department of Energy needs to be eliminated or transferred to other agencies. To the extent we need a “national energy policy”, it needs to be focused on the resilience of the power grid and energy supplies in cases of war, natural disaster and terrorist attack. And that could go to DOD or DHS.

      As far as Commerce, kill it all. It does nothing that the country needs.

      1. I’d like to see the Cabinet departments go back to departments responsible for administering explicit legislative powers – so you would actually have a Commerce Department, still. All the agencies that regulate the economy would be part of it – OSHA, EPA, etc. etc.

        Energy, Education, etc. would all be gone, basically because there’s no Constitutional basis for them.

        1. There needs to be an NNSA. As a matter of principle you do not want nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them in the same hands. The political class in 1945 was a lot smarter than the ones we have now. They were smart enough to see that and set the principle of civilian ownership and control of the nuclear stockpile. DOD owns the means of delivery but civilians own and maintain the weapons until the President orders them to be used. That makes a lot of sense. So you don’t want NNSA falling under DOD. And also, nuclear secrets are an area where you need export controls no matter what you think of free trade versus protectionism.

      2. We can debate the fraction of Commerce that is the Patent Office – the rest is pure waste that employs 30k full-time federal employees.

        1. Yeah. The patent office needs to stay. But it can be its own stand alone organization.

        2. Also, isn’t NOAA a Dept of Commerce agency? They do some good work with tides, weather, etc. But do they really need to be a uniformed service? I’ve often suspected that there was more to NOAA than there appears to be on paper – just as many Soviet-flagged trawlers caught few fish.

          1. Yes NOAA is. And they do good work regulating commercial fishing and keeping weather records.

          2. They get to joyride into the eyes of hurricanes too.

          3. All weather forecast info comes from NWS, which is under NOAA.

      3. Repeal and replace (with sackfulls of dyspeptic raccoons).

        1. I have one in my attic that i’d like to contribute.

      4. Ahem. Is this mike on? “No, fuck you, cut spending.”

        It won’t be enough, and he and Congress are likely going to spend any money they save, but, hey, beats the last 16 years of EXTRASPENDATHON!!!! Hope we do see some real cuts.

      5. John, you should at least google what the Commerce Dept. does before spouting such nonsense. The Commerce Dept. includes the USPTO, NOAA, and NIST. Of course those should be privatized, but those are essential agencies that you can’t just eliminate. Unless you don’t care about weather forecasts.

        1. Ok, I guess I should have scrolled down before chewing John out.

    9. Fake news. Trump didn’t say shit, he’s too busy tweeting about how fat and stupid and ugly whoever it is that last criticized him. Anybody who claims to be speaking for Trump is automatically a liar, nobody speaks for Trump. And Trump’s like a Magic 8-ball, ask him a question and bobble him around and who knows what answer will pop up out of the murky depths.

      This is Reince’s Call To The Faithful about how this time we really mean it, this time we’re serious about smaller government so we need you to support the RINO who’s going to deliver us to the Promised Land. Oh, by the way, the road to the Promised Land is a toll road so we’re gonna need you to send us a check, too. Fuck off, you lying piece of shit – the government’s going to get bigger and costlier and more intrusive, it’s just that the malignancy is going to metastasize in a direction you approve of instead of a direction you don’t.

      …….is what I would say if I hadn’t resolved to be a little less cynical and adopt a more hopeful wait-and-see attitude regarding the new chocolate ration.

    10. “Slash it, slash it, slash it …” – Ron Swanson

    11. Just wait a few seconds and reason will have several articles up about how cutting this spending is a bad idea.

  12. I do like that, *at times*, Obama did seem like the adult in the room. Especially now when the right has gone all full herp-derp with “gotta keep those brown people out so only real ‘Muricans can live here” nonsense. I don’t agree with hardly any of his ideas, but I do think libertarians could learn a thing or two from him when it comes to style – deliver an adult message in uplifting tones that doesn’t devolve into conspiracies and paranoia.

    1. He’s articulate and bright and clean and nice looking.

      1. You forgot the sharp crease in his pants. That’s what really sells the whole deal. If you’ve got a sharp crease in your pants, it sends a tingle up reporter’s legs which shorts out their brains and they forget to say anything critical about whatever vapid bloviations it is you’re splorging all over the place and they only report on how sincere you looked at the time.

        1. The sharp crease in the mom jeans is as wrong as fucking your sister, though.

          1. Have you seen my sister?

      2. …with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one

      3. …with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one

        1. Can I get extra squirrels with my comment at no extra charge? Thank you!

      4. Uh, uh, uh…

        1. If there is a silver lining in Trump’s victory, it is that we will never see cytotoxic again.

          1. Just you wait. In thirty years, when he’s old enough, he’s gonna run for Prime Minister. Or possibly even Hockey Commissioner, which in Canada is far more important.

      1. chemjeff is just a nevertrumper professor who wore out his welcome at ace of spades being a dick.

    2. If petulant narcissism was what you’re looking for in an adult, sure, he’s quite the adult.

    3. Adult in the room. You are a funny guy.

      Unlike most of the lefties that hang around here you aren’t really in the closet, are you Jeff?

  13. I like the part of space privatization where you can buy a star and name it after your girlfriend.

    My only concern is if those star systems are inhabited by humorless aliens. “You’re saying we are Star System Tiffany? Can any greater insult be imagined to the proud Jpxqx people? Prepare to be exterminated!”

    1. “I like the part of space privatization where you can buy a star and name it after your girlfriend.”

      Wonder which star Crusty picked for his girlfriend. A giant red supernova?

      1. giant red supernova

        It does look like his favorite part of “her.”

        1. The clown nose with the artificial vagina in it?

          1. Far be it from me to judge want a man does with his clown in the privacy of his own ecoyurt.

            1. Is “ecoyurt” the technical term for the space underneath a chinchilla cage? It is Hit’n’Run canon that Crusty lives in the back of a pet store.

              1. No, it’s sort of a like a tent and sort of like a giant pile of bum condoms, but it is very ecofriendly. He strictly uses it for clown sex.

              2. It is known. He has even toyed with the idea of self-identifying as a chinchilla, but he realized the only things he likes about chinchillas are the dust baths and being able to pee right where you are standing.

                1. the only things he likes identifies with about chinchillas…

                  /FTFY

    2. My only concern is if those star systems are inhabited by humorless aliens.

      Well they better have a flag.

      1. And a beer, an airline and a football team.

  14. Obama legalized horse slaughter, briefly..

    1. Not man/rooster love, though, and for that you shall never forgive him.

      1. How about man/hen?

        Asking for a commenter.

        1. A cloaca is a cloaca, homie.

            1. “This egg tastes stra- OH MY GOD THERE’S A FACE INSIDE”

              1. Balut?

                I’ve tried balut. The feathers get between your teeth. I was told it wasn’t a high quality balut, if it has feathers.

              2. OK, I probably shouldn’t have laughed so much at that…but what the Hell, why not.

  15. If you can’t set a good example, you can always serve as a bad one. Just as Hillary did more to further the libertarian cause than Gary Johnson did, Obama has done more to advance the case for smaller government than Mitt Romney would have.

  16. Always good to look at the positives but even here his successes are tepid and nothing ground breaking.

    1. Sneaky burn by Ed. Write an article about Obama’s top accomplishments from a Libertarian standpoint, and barely come up with a few questionable items from his 8 years.

  17. 1. Halting steps in the right direction for the wrong reasons (race baiting) but we will take any progress we can get.

    2. Cheer the ends all you want, but the “pen and phone” means….how about those?

    3. Good – wish it had been sooner and harder.

    4. Some good there too – but a little whiff of crony makes this a B instead of an A.

    5. Bah – bullshit rationalization. If he had really thought this, he would have done this long ago – but he didn’t want any electoral consequences. Same shit with that Puerto Rican Timmothy McVeigh (h/t David Burge)

    1. If this is the ’18th greatest President’ ever, it really lowers the bar.

      1. He’s in the top 50 for sure. Maybe top 40.

        1. He’s definitely one of the best presidents on the street.

          1. Possibly the best one currently in office.

    2. 1. Halting steps in the right direction for the wrong reasons (race baiting) but we will take any progress we can get.

      2. Cheer the ends all you want, but the “pen and phone” means….how about those?

      Make up your mind. Are the means important or not?

      1. I think the difference is that there is no “means” in the first part. Investigation and change is a legitimate DoJ operation, it is the motive that was questionable in #1.

  18. 1. Police Accountability & Criminal Justice Reform

    “As libertarians, we love this because we believe it’s the responsibility of the Federal Government through the DOJ to reform criminal justice in the states, and furthermore that because an action is undertaken by the DOJ, it automatically has the force of right and justice and goodness behind it. This is a corollary of the libertarian axiom that the larger and more central the unit of government, the more likely it is to be correct and the more praiseworthy its actions.”

    It’s funny how libertarians are just as easily seduced as anyone else when there’s a general social trend of “all cool people” being on board with a concept, in this case that police departments are racist and evil and need to be reformed by the Federal Government.

    1. I don’t think centralized management of police departments from Washington will end anywhere good no matter how well intentioned the “reformers” who bring it into being are.

    2. Yeah, before this libertarians loved cops.

    3. Is that libertarians or just Shackford?

      1. Ask Ed, he might know.

    4. Cool strawman, bro.

    5. The kind of accountability and reform I would like to see is the elimination of civil asset forfeiture. Unfortunately, Loretta Lynch and Trump’s pick for successor are firm advocates of it.

    6. Who the fook is this guy??

  19. “Nevertheless, in late 2014 Obama ordered a reprioritization in immigration enforcement that deferred deportation for up to 5 million people, mostly those who came illegally as children, or who had American-born children themselves.”

    The great thing about this order is that it showed who actually believes in limited executive power and who believes in limited executive power, unless it is something that they totally like. Also, we got this great quote from Gary Johnson, regarding executive orders, “(They’re useful) When Congress refuses to act”.

    Ignoring the first branch of government in order to achieve your ends. Libertarian Moment!

  20. Ken White considers the latest defamation case against Trump.

    In defamation law, there’s a popular philosophical question: can someone be “defamation-proof”? That is, can someone’s reputation be so awful that no falsehood can make it any worse? There’s a flip-side of this as well: can someone be so notoriously full of shit that they are incapable of defamation, because no reasonable person familiar with them would interpret anything they say as provable fact? This is what I call the batshit crazy rule and the Ninth Circuit more decorously refers to as “general tenor of the entire work.” I think Trump ? or at least Trump on Twitter ? presents a good test case of the batshit crazy rule. Trump’s Twitter behavior is such a legendary dumpster fire that I think Jacobus will find it very difficult to argue that anyone familiar with it would take what he says as a statement of fact. Sad!

    1. Ken White better be careful or John’s gonna get into another dick-measuring contest with him.

      1. Your wish is my command. He is like a rash. I ignore him and hope he goes away but he has a bad habit of appearing out of nowhere.

    2. White is such an ass clown. He really is. The extent that people don’t take Trump’s twitter feed literally does not include him denying that he was guilty of sexual assault. Everyone knows Trump denied these claims. And he did so not just on twitter but numerous times to the media.

      There really isn’t anything to say about this suit other than truth is a defense to libel and if Trump didn’t do this, he will have an opportunity to show that he is innocent and the plaintiff will have an opportunity to prove he is not. Trump is not “libel proof”.

      But a reasonable statement of the legal issues involved is not something Dopehat is particularly interested in. Dopehat is all about social signaling and being smug. So, instead of an explanation of the actual case and issues involved, we get this bullshit.

      I am forever amazed that people take Dopehat seriously or that anyone ever hired him as their attorney.

      1. I love seeing you get riled up in defense of Trump. You didn’t bother clicking through, did you? He brings up the excerpted paragraph in explaining that a similar case was made in dismissing an earlier claim of defamation against Trump. This after exhaustively detailing the defenses his lawyers could make before or during trial.

        1. There is no defense of Trump. Maybe he did it. i don’t know. But that doesn’t change the issues in this case. White gets it wrong. The decision wasn’t about Trump. It was about politics in general. The judge said “it is a political mud slinging match and those things are pretty much by definition opinion and therefore not libel.”

          If you are a Dopehat fan boy and that fact bugs you, too bad. Pick a better class of idol next time.

          1. You are genuinely a class act, John, but at least you’re consistent. Zero engagement with the text, baseless speculation, and ad homs because your feelings are hurt. And on Trump’s behalf, no less. He doesn’t need your lawyerly white knighting, John, he has people for that.

    3. I think Trump ? or at least Trump on Twitter ? presents a good test case of the batshit crazy rule.

      Pretty much what I said, and I’m not even foncy 1A lawyer.

  21. You know who else had a list of accomplishments libertarians might appreciate…

      1. No

    1. Lao Tzu?

      1. +8 dimensions

    2. Mohammed Farah Aidid?

    3. Jason Sorens?

    4. Bill Weld? /stupid motherfuckers who wanted him as VP pick

  22. the only reason Obama is going after police account ability is to further the goal of claiming that all police departments are bad and need to be taken over by the feds creating a federal police force. I’ve heard several democrat representatives talking about doing this.
    Immigration reform was crap
    privatization of space, according to an article here that was started under Bush
    Manning deserves life in prison

    your list is crap

  23. Last year the Obama administration announced $7.5 million in grants to organizations working on reducing occupational licensing requirements and making such licenses usable across state lines.

    How heroic. certainly worthy of a large marble edifice in memorium.

    1. The Tomb of the Unsung Liberaltarian.

    2. His last vacation cost more than this.

    3. So his great achievement in occupational licensing was some grants?

      Given the way the government uses grant money, I wonder if that money was actually spent on licensing reform, or used to push the minimum wage increase.

    4. so if an organization wants to reduce licensing they have to apply for grant money from the government to reduce the government largess, does everyone else see the silliness of this idea. and I suppose to get the grant money they need to be a licensed NGO

      No government agency is going to make that easy, it will probably be harder to apply for and find than a tea party non-profit IRS exception

  24. Meh. Not a lot there. His greatest accomplishment for freedom was loosening up the idiotic Cuban embargo. Hopefully Trump doesn’t undo that progress.

    1. ^^ THIS ^^ Great point CE. Now that’s one accomplishment I could be less cynical about.

    2. Yes! Also, Iran deal was not bad.

      1. Huh? Citation needed.

    3. Painful as it was, I had to agree with Obama that loosening the embargo was the right thing to do. Principles, not principals.

  25. I guess Ed didn’t feel the need to comment on Obama’s Russian policy because he knows readers understand how He and Reason have always understood Russia and appreciated Vlad Putin’s role in its resurgence so any comments were unnecessary.

      1. Obama’s Russia policy is an unqualified success, evidently.

        1. A libertarian beacon in the night?

      2. Yeah, I get the feeling some punctuation is really needed there.

        1. And tinfoil; definitely some tinfoil.

          1. Proud Motherland reclaim parts of near abroad by virtue of Strong Vlad!!!! Economy and freedom grow more too!

  26. The occupational licensing remark is especially laughable. Obama paid some lipservice to the issue, but never beat the drum particularly loudly. It was something his supporters could and have ignored as they’ve attacked any attempt to rollback regulations. His rhetoric has only encouraged the left’s kneejerk reaction to any attempt to cut government or regulations. See the pearl clutching over minor rulings that rolled back ridiculous regulations for hair stylists in Texas as one example.

  27. His rhetoric has only encouraged the left’s kneejerk reaction to any attempt to cut government or regulations.

    Exactly. Team Leftwing Moron react to any suggestion of the slightest possible reduction in government regulation as if leaded drinking water laced with asbestos will be made mandatory for all American schoolchildren, and pregnant women will be force fed Thalidomide, and the Grand Canyon will be turned into a landfill.

    1. I am interested in your ideas, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  28. Manning should have been hung some years back, not given a “get out of jail free” card…

    1. You play too much Halo.

      1. You know, I have heard that too!

        1. *raises hand*

      2. If “playing Halo” is pretending you are holier-than-thou and putting on one of these before replying to comments, then [raises hand] yes, guilty.

  29. I’m with Milton Friedman on immigration. In a nutshell: open borders or welfare state. Pick one.

  30. All of these things, with the exception of Manning’s commutation can be undone by the next administration. Perhaps if Obama and congressional Dems hadn’t squandered their two years of single party rule on forcing a massive healthcare bill that most people didn’t want down our throats they could have passed actual legislation on these issues. Or maybe if Obama had been a better leader and reached out to lawmakers who agreed with him on some of these things regardless of the letter behind their name (such as Rand Paul or Justin Amash on criminal justice reform, for example) instead of just using his “pen and phone” he could have gotten some things done that can’t be overturned by the next “President Penandphone.”

  31. Isn’t most occupational licensing a state issue? What can the President do about it other than use the bully pulpit?

  32. With all this manure, there must be a pony somewhere!

    Pony parts, anyway.

  33. On Pardons: My understanding has always been that an executive (President or Governor) has unilateral power to pardon as a last chance for mercy when an injustice has been done. When someone has been wrongly convicted. or too harshly sentenced (plausible in Manning’s case). For example, if a governor granted a full pardon to Gerald Amirault because he is obviously innocent and was falsely convicted, that would be an appropriate use of the power to pardon. Seems like the whole thing has turned into a circus. Doing dozens ? scores? hundreds ?! at the last minute has to mean there is no particular moral compass guiding the decisions. Shameful.

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  35. RE: 5 Obama Administration Accomplishments Libertarians Might Appreciate
    From starting efforts on police and occupational reform to helping privatize the space race, here are things we’ll miss about Barack Obama.

    I know this is off topic…but is Obama holding his dick in hand in the photo?

    1. No, it’s just a bobblehead of a dick.

  36. For what reason (none is actually provided, beyond insight to how it complicated DNC narratives, if that alone was somehow worth it) is commuting Manning’s sentence appreciable by Libertarians? That he is now…liberated…sooner than he would’ve been otherwise? The author realizes the gravity of what the guy did, correct? Further, he was almost up for parole! That Obama feels “very comfortable that justice has been served” is entirely silly and irrelevant, as he is not an adjudicator.

    Is it tomorrow yet?

  37. Seems as though the ATF or more completely the BATFE was not included, one wonders why.

  38. What you list is things Obama did by executive order; there are no lasting accomplishments or policy changes there. And even most of those orders are cynical political pandering rather than a principled political stance.

    What that list really shows is that even if you try, you can’t come up with anything significant Obama has accomplished for liberty. The constitutional law professor that ran on limiting government overreach, illegal killings, and improving the justice system has been a complete and utter failure, a blowhard who managed to reverse decades of improvements in race relations, and a profligate spender who handed out trillions in tax dollars to accomplish nothing.

  39. The only good thing Nobama did…LEAVE.

  40. yep, He was the Amateur, narcisstic, and a Marxist leaning Muslim..’nuff said, experiment over..

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  42. postpone the end of the war in Iraq, ordered a troop surge in Afghanistan, and then wasted any opportunity that might have created for a disengagement. He committed the U.S. military to an intervention in Libya for which he did not even attempt to get permission from Congress.????? ?? ??
    ????? ????
    Nor did he justify the action under the post-9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that’s used to justify interventions from Afghanistan to Nigeria. U.S. troops did return to Libya last year, presumably under the auspices of the post-9/11 AUMF, to fight ISIS, which did not exist in Libya before the U.S.-backed intervention. Troops also returned to Iraq for that reason.

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