Free Minds & Free Markets

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New Research Confirms We Got Cholesterol All Wrong: New at Reason

James Burger/agefotostock/NewscomJames Burger/agefotostock/NewscomA comprehensive new study on cholesterol, based on results from more than a million patients, could help upend decades of government advice about diet, nutrition, health, prevention, and medication. Just don't hold your breath.

The study, published in the Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, centers on statins, a class of drugs used to lower levels of LDL-C, the so-called "bad" cholesterol, in the human body. According to the study, statins are pointless for most people. The study also reports that "heart attack patients were shown to have lower than normal cholesterol levels of LDL-C" and that older people with higher levels of bad cholesterol tend to live longer than those with lower levels.

This is probably news to many in government, writes Baylen Linnekin. After decades of doling out bad eating advice, perhaps the U.S. government should stop telling Americans what to eat and not eat.

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Debate: Libertarians Should Work Within the Two-Party System: New at Reason

Or is the L.P. our best bet for making a difference?

Public domainPublic domainWork within the party system or try to create change outside of it? Bill Weld and Thomas Massie debate this question in Reason's special debate issue. Check out the whole article at the link below.

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Gov. Brown Signs Stupid Straw Bill

California in a nutshell: Laws that "feel good" but don’t work pass. One that might actually help kids gets vetoed.

Silly strawsTim Gray / Dreamstime.comWe're still waiting to see if California Gov. Jerry Brown has the courage to sign legislation requiring greater transparency about police misconduct. But he's clearly happy to meddle in what and how Californians drink. Yesterday he signed legislation that adds tiresome new rules about the straws used in restaurants and the drinks offered in kids' meals.

AB 1889 doesn't go so far as to ban straws entirely, but it does forbid full-service restaurants from giving customers plastic straws unless the customers ask for them. Violators face fines of up to $25 a day, up to a maximum of $300 annually. So it's essentially a tax on giving out plastic straws, should a restaurant decide to ignore the law.

That the law is so mild and inconsequential is a testament to how much the posturing around plastic straws is a symbolic gesture rather than anything that actually helps the environment. Brown rarely puts out statements when he signs bills, but he specifically did for AB 1889, noting that plastics are killing ocean life.

Reason's Christian Britschgi has been documenting the absurd, unscientific foundations of the push to ban straws. Faulty statistics and a poor grasp of where most of our ocean pollution comes from (not the United States, and certainly not from straws) have led to inane bills like this. We should be glad it isn't harsher. But the law also permits California cities to implement stricter regulations, and we've already been seeing that happen as well.

The tiresome top-down food controls don't stop there. Brown also signed SB 1192, which requires restaurants that offer children's meals to offer water or unflavored milk as the "default" drink rather than soda or juice. It further requires them to display water or milk as the drink in images and in menus. At least it doesn't forbid restaurants from providing other choices if they're asked.

We have no reason to believe that this law will stop kids and their parents from ordering sodas instead if that's what they want. Indeed, Brown embraced this paternalism the same week a bunch of nutrition studies that supposedly justified other nudge-style controls on kids' school lunch choices were retracted as junk science.

But the important thing is that California cares about the health of children, right? Well, no. In the same round of bills, Brown vetoed SB 328, which would prohibit non-rural middle and high schools from starting classes earlier than 8:30 in the morning. There are scientific studies that show later school start times allow children to get more sleep, which results in increased academic performance.

You'd think Brown would be all over this bill to help children do better in life, right? But in his veto note, Brown says that it is "opposed by teachers and school boards," some of which "prefer" to start the school day earlier. The message is clear. It's fine for the state to inconvenience restaurants and interfere with your decisions in the name of sketchy studies about kids' health, but don't start meddling with the preferred work schedules of public employees. California in a nutshell.

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NYT: Rosenstein Suggested Secretly Taping Trump, Using the 25th Amendment to Oust Him

Rosenstein was not happy with how Trump handled the James Comey firing.

Terrence Antonio James/TNS/Newscom Oliver Contreras/CNP/AdMedia/NewscomTerrence Antonio James/TNS/Newscom Oliver Contreras/CNP/AdMedia/NewscomFollowing President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly spoke with Justice Department officials about invoking the 25th Amendment. According to The New York Times, Rosenstein also suggested that he or other officials wear a wire and secretly record Trump.

The Times says Rosenstein was upset about how the president fired Comey. When he announced the move, Trump originally cited Comey's mishandling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. The White House also released a memo from Rosenstein criticizing Comey for how he ran the Clinton probe. Rosenstein was reportedly aggravated that Trump had relied on the memo to publicly justify firing Comey. Rosenstein was also reportedly displeased by the way Trump tried to replace Comey. According to the Times, Rosenstein told four Justice Department officials, plus then–Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, that the president wasn't taking the process seriously.

During a meeting with these officials, the Times says, Rosenstein

raised the idea of wearing a recording device or "wire," as he put it, to secretly tape the president when he visited the White House. One participant asked whether Mr. Rosenstein was serious, and he replied animatedly that he was.

If not him, then Mr. McCabe or other F.B.I. officials interviewing with Mr. Trump for the job could perhaps wear a wire or otherwise record the president, Mr. Rosenstein offered. White House officials never checked his phone when he arrived for meetings there, Mr. Rosenstein added, implying it would be easy to secretly record Mr. Trump.

A source who heard Rosenstein's remarks tells CNN that the deputy attorney general was being sarcastic. Other sources tell the Times he was serious.

Rosenstein also reportedly suggested invoking the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet to remove the president from office if they think he's unfit.

Rosenstein has vehemently denied the Times' reporting, telling the paper that it is "factually incorrect." He also said that "based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment."

The Times says it based its reporting on multiple anonymous accounts:

Several people described the episodes, insisting on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The people were briefed either on the events themselves or on memos written by F.B.I. officials, including Andrew G. McCabe

CNN reports that those McCabe memos have been given to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the probe into Russian election meddling. Michael R. Bromwich, a lawyer for McCabe, told the Times his client "has no knowledge of how any member of the media obtained those memos."

Rumors have abounded for months that Trump has considered firing Rosenstein, though the president said last month they have a "great relationship."

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Fall’s New Shows Seem Awfully Familiar (and Awful): New at Reason

Without Tom Selleck, what is even the point of bringing back Magnum P.I.?

'Magnum P.I.''Magnum P.I.,' CBSTelevision critic Glenn Garvin is not terribly impressed with what the major networks are tossing out as the new fall season fully launches. They all seem to be reboots (like the new Magnum P.I.) or derivative and predictable (like FBI and New Amsterdam):

Hollywood has always robbed its own graveyards, of course, though rarely with such profligate abandon. The really appalling thing about the 2018 fall season is how stupidly tepid most of it is. Shows about neurotic moms and grumpy dads are not just clichés but clichés old enough to be closing in on Social Security.

Overall, this is the worst lineup of new shows since 2008, when a long strike by the Writers Guild led to a schedule so dismal that when CBS canceled one (The Ex List, in which a woman, on orders of her psychic, systematically re-dates all the guys she's dumped over the years) after four episodes, it went ahead and made six more because there was nothing to replace it with.

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A Father Defends His Daughter with a Shotgun When Cops Break Into the Wrong House

"You got the wrong address. Don't shoot my daughter."

|||DAVID TULIS/UPI/NewscomDAVID TULIS/UPI/NewscomWhen men attempted to enter a father's house in Prince George's County, Maryland, he made a quick choice to protect his daughter inside. He told his daughter to get to the back of the house, he picked up a shotgun, and he fired while the men used a device to open the door. He hit one of the intruders in the hand and another in the shoulder. One of the cops outside returned fire, but the bullet missed the father.

It wasn't until the door was fully opened that he realized they were police officers. He dropped his gun and pleaded, "You got the wrong address. Don't shoot my daughter."

Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski has since explained that the officers were attempting to serve a warrant after a police informant told them that a drug dealer lived in the home. As it turned out, the informant had given them bad information. The department concluded that the father, who Stawinski called a "law-abiding, hard-working citizen," was not aware that the men on the other side of his door were police officers. The department will not be pressing charges against him, and it is conducting a review to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

Just a few weeks prior, Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger shot and killed Botham Jean after saying she mistook his apartment for her own. As the full story of how or why such a mistake was made is still under review, several have wondered if the fateful night would have played out differently had Jean shot Guyger. Dana Loesch, spokesperson for the National Rifle Association (NRA), observed that Jean may have been alive had he been a gun owner.

That's true: He might. On the other hand, there's a fair chance he would have died anyway, since the police may have shot him upon seeing a wounded officer. Earlier in the year, after a Colorado grandfather (and legal gun owner) shot and killed a home intruder, police mistook him for the invader. They killed him in the confusion, despite the state's 1985 Homeowners Protection Act, which recognizes Colorado homeowners' right to defend themselves with a gun. Even in the incident in Prince George's County, one officer returned fire.

And even if you survive the raid, not all police will be as willing as these Maryland cops to concede their error. Cory Maye of Mississippi was sentenced to death in 2004 after he shot an officer during a wrong-door drug raid. He too was protecting his little girl, and he too was unaware that the people bursting into his home at night were police. He eventually got out of prison, but not until 2011.

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Cody Wilson, 3D-Printed Gun Pioneer, Arrested in Taiwan

Wilson's passport was revoked following a warrant for his arrest in Texas for having paid sex with an underage girl.

Mark McDaniel/ReasonMark McDaniel/ReasonCody Wilson, maker of the first 3D-printed plastic gun, has been arrested in Taiwan.

Wilson runs Defense Distributed, a company that deals in software and hardware to facilitate home weapon printing and machining. Earlier this week, Texas police issued a warrant for his arrest.

Wilson, they claimed, found a woman on, a website that requires all users to assert they are 18 or over, then met her and paid for sex with her. Police say the woman was actually 16, which made that act a violation of Texas penal code 22.011 (A)(2)(a), regarding sex with a minor, which is legally considered sexual assault regardless of consent or payment.

While Taiwan has no formal extradition treaty with the U.S., and Wilson was not said to have been doing anything directly criminal in Taiwan, the press there reports that he was arrested without incident because the U.S. had revoked his passport, making his mere presence in Taiwan illegal. (The U.S. government has the power to revoke the passports of people facing felony arrest warrants.)

Wilson was then, according to The New York Times, " the National Immigration Agency" in Taiwan. It is expected to deport him to the U.S. to face those charges, which carry a potential 2 to 20 years in prison and $10,000 fine.

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Google Employees Considered Adjusting Search Engine Algorithm to Hide Islamophobic Results

"Actively counter islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc."

GoogleIVAN ALVARADO/REUTERS/NewscomIn response to the Muslim travel ban announced by President Trump in January 2017, some Google employees discussed making changes to their search engine so that Islamophobic and anti-immigrant results would be less prominent.

That's according to emails obtained by The Wall Street Journal, which reports:

The list of ideas included:

"Actively counter islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms 'Islam', 'Muslim', 'Iran', etc."

"Actively counter prejudiced, algorithmically biased search results from search terms 'Mexico', 'Hispanic', 'Latino', etc."

"Can we launch an ephemeral experience that includes Highlights, up-to-date info from the US State Dept, DHS, links to donate to ACLU, etc?" the email added.

Several officials responded favorably to the overall idea. "We're absolutely in…Anything you need," one wrote.

But a public-affairs executive wrote: "Very much in favor of Google stepping up, but just have a few questions on this," including "how partisan we want to be on this."

Nothing came of these ideas, a Google spokesperson said.

Nevertheless, the existence of the emails has prompted furious denunciation from many conservatives who already believe giant tech corporations are working against them. Fox News' Tucker Carlson discussed the story on his program Thursday, "Here, Google employees are plotting to subvert our entire public conversation secretly." Canadian psychologist and Intellectual Dark Web superstar Jordan Peterson tweeted, "If this is true it is treasonous and should be treated as such."

Treason is an absurd allegation here, especially coming from someone like Peterson, who purports to defend free speech. Google is a private company, and its algorithm is not required by law to humor conservative talking points about immigration and Islam. Unfortunately, many on the right increasingly sound like they want the government to regulate tech companies, which is a serious betrayal of principle.

It's perfectly understandable to think Google ought not to stack its search results in a politically biased way. But pretending that these emails betray criminal intent or treasonous behavior is silly. Conservatives peddling this line sound just as unhinged as the #Resistance partisans who blindly insist that every Trump utterance is evidence of some grand conspiracy to hand the country over to Russia.

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Faisal Al Mutar Fights Radical Islam with Western Bestsellers: New at Reason

The head of Ideas Beyond Borders is translating books by Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, and others into Arabic and distributing them for free.

The head of Ideas Beyond Borders is translating books by Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, and others into Arabic and distributing them for free.

Click here for full text and downloadable versions.

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Partisan Hackery, Supreme Court Confirmations, and the Decline of Public Trust

The Kavanaugh hearings are a great example of why voters rightly hold Congress in contempt.

Alex Edelman/picture alliance / Consolidated/NewscomAlex Edelman/picture alliance / Consolidated/NewscomIf nothing else, the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh are an object lesson in how purely partisan politics can reduce human beings to utter garbage.

Following a late-breaking, credible accusation of a sexual assault that allegedly occurred in the early 1980s, when future Judge Kavanaugh was in high school, the outcome of his confirmation proceedings is far from clear. The details haven't been worked out fully, but there will be some sort of extra hearings next week in which Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, will directly address the issue. There will likely be a vote next week too, which, with perhaps one or two GOP defections, will almost certainly proceed along strict party lines. That is, of course, what everyone knew would happen before Kavanaugh's hearings even started.

Virtually everyone acknowledges that given the nature of the accusations and the passage of time it may be impossible to ever know the truth of exactly what happened in that Bethesda bedroom so many years ago. Even Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who basically brought the charges to public view, admits as much. People of good faith can disagree about what should come next. But politics, especially in D.C. and especially when it comes to Supreme Court nominations, are rarely conducted in good faith. An astonishing set of statements makes that clear.

Ed Whelan is the head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), a conservative think tank that describes its mission as "defending American ideals." He's a former clerk for Antonin Scalia, co-editor of a bestselling collection of Scalia speeches, and a pioneer of legal blogging. He's also personally close to Kavanaugh and has helped various Republican nominees (John Roberts, Samuel Alito) thread their way through their Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Last night, in a series of detailed tweets that included floor plans of houses pulled from Zillow and other real-estate sites, he propounded a theory that Kavanaugh's accuser was confusing the judge with a lookalike classmate. Whelan advertised the coming tweetstorm days ago, writing, "By one week from today, I expect that Judge Kavanaugh will have been clearly vindicated on this matter. Specifically, I expect that compelling evidence will show his categorical denial to be truthful. There will be no cloud over him."

It didn't work out that way. Media, including many prominent voices on the right, immediately called out Whelan's fact-light speculation in real time:

Whelan deleted the tweets and it's almost impossible to reconstruct their sheer craziness, especially as they unfolded in real time. He has apologized not so much for spinning a mistaken-identity theory out of thin air but for naming the person he thinks Ford confused with Kavanaugh. Ford has said unambiguously, "There is zero chance that I would confuse them."

If Whelan's fantasy trip shows the lengths to which a partisan activist will go in defense of a specific outcome, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.) represents an even more disturbing case. Feinstein knew about Ford's accusations since July but reportedly dismissed their importance and relevance to the Kavanaugh confirmation process. According to The New Yorker,

A source familiar with the committee's activities said that Feinstein's staff initially conveyed to other Democratic members' offices that the incident was too distant in the past to merit public discussion, and that Feinstein had "taken care of it."

After the letter's existence was outed by The Intercept, Feinstein finally shared a version of the letter with her colleagues and the FBI. Feinstein's reticence to show them the document sooner remains a mystery. She insists that it was partly out of concern for Ford, who originally wished to remain anonymous, but there were any number of ways the senator could have raised the issue without compromising her source. Did she think the story too old, unprovable, or unreliable? Did she think the die was cast for Kavanaugh no matter what, so why bother? Or did she or someone in her office leak the news as a hail-mary to stop the confirmation?

In any case, Feinstein's opposition to Kavanaugh has little or nothing to do with the sexual assault charge. In an op-ed for The Los Angeles Times that was published on September 16, she lays out her case for why she'll be voting no regardless of anything that might have come up in the confirmation process:

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee entered the confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with concerns about his record and his views. After four days of testimony and questions, those concerns remain—and in some cases have increased considerably....

We already knew that Judge Kavanaugh held highly ideological views on the 2nd Amendment, women's reproductive rights and the executive power of the presidency. Judge Kavanaugh's testimony shed new light on these positions and on his loyalty to President Trump and his political agenda.

Supreme Court justices should not be an extension of the Republican Party. They must also have unquestionable character and integrity, and serious questions remain about Judge Kavanaugh in this regard, as indicated in information I referred to the FBI. For these and other reasons detailed below, I strongly oppose Judge Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.

Pew ResearchPew ResearchThe charges by Christine Blasey Ford need to be addressed and will be next week, almost certainly in a manner that fully pleases no one. That is in large part due to Feinstein's own actions. As even Donald Trump could realize, she should have brought the matter up sooner in the process. Instead of a confirmation hearing that allows for a full airing of competing ideas and the exploration of different governing philosophies, we're treated to a spectacle that has collapsed into the worst sort of partisan mudslinging. The only achievement here is that right-wing partisans will walk away feeling as if the media and Democrats are using any means possible to stymie them. And liberals, feminists, and Democrats will feel like their concerns haven't been taken seriously. Both sides will have a point.

The last-gasp fabulism coming from the Ed Whelans of the world is pathetic, risible, and destructive. The only saving grace is that it isn't coming an actual elected leader such as Feinstein. According to one survey, just 3 percent of us strongly approve of Congress. Is it any wonder, given the way that its members act? In the waning months of the Obama presidency, the Republican Senate refused to hold confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland even though they had the votes to deny his confirmation to the Supreme Court. From a legal perspective, the Senate majority was within its rights to stall until a new president was in office (even if it had no reason to believe that a Republican, much less Donald Trump, would eventually be in power). But such an action is immensely corrosive of public trust even if it's technically permissible.

Nothing good comes when high-trust societies became low-trust societies. Americans aren't born cynical. We're made that way by the actions of elites such as Ed Whelan and officials such as Dianne Feinstein. And the trend toward cynicism won't end until they change their behavior.

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The Confidence-Man

Friday A/V Club: Long before "fake news" was a cliché, Alan Abel was both inserting and exposing fakery in the news.

The Best PartyThe Best PartyI keep hearing that we live in a Post-Truth Era, and I keep wondering when the Truth Era that presumably preceded it is supposed to have taken place. It certainly didn't happen during my lifetime, and I haven't encountered it in the history books either. We've always been wandering through a fog of misinformation, disinformation, urban legends, and dubious guesses, and while I don't suppose that's good news in itself, some may find it reassuring to realize that it isn't a new development.

With that in mind, let's raise a glass to the writer, drummer, filmmaker, comedian, and infamous media prankster Alan Abel. Long before the phrase "fake news" became a cliché, he was both inserting and exposing fakery in the news.

"I tested the gullibility of the New York Times by running my own obituary," Abel told Re/Search in 1987, "and it felt like The Twilight Zone when I read it. They gave me a great write-up; it was so well-written—they crammed into six paragraphs everything I'd ever done." The Times published that obit for Abel in 1980, nearly four decades too early.

Last week, Abel really did die. Or so I read in The New York Times, which ran a new obituary under the good-sport headline "Alan Abel, Hoaxer Extraordinaire, Is (on Good Authority) Dead at 94." The piece gave due attention to the time he persuaded the Times to prematurely pronounce him deceased, along with various other pranks that Abel and his allies carried off over the years. There was the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals (SINA), launched in 1959 by Abel and a young Buck Henry, who attracted credulous coverage by posing as bluenoses offended by the sight of animals without clothes. There was Yetta Bronstein, played for the press by Abel's wife Jeanne: a fictional New York grandmother who ran for president in 1964 and '68 on a platform of flouridation, sex education, a national bingo tournament, and replacing congressmen's salaries with commissions. There was the Ku Klux Klan Symphony Orchestra. There were the Euthanasia Cruises. There was Females for Felons, described in the Times obit as "a group of Junior Leaguers who selflessly donated sex to the incarcerated." Abel's website has long list of his media pranks, including incidents where he or a confederate fooled reporters by posing as Howard Hughes, as Salman Rushdie, and as Deep Throat.

And then there was the faint-in on The Phil Donahue Show. During a 1985 episode of the program, the website recounts, "Abel planted several of his pranksters in the audience. As per Alan's instructions they stood up, one by one, to ask Phil a question. And as soon as the microphone came near, they collapsed onto the floor." The unconscious actors piled up, and the audience was eventually evacuated.

Abel told the press that he did that to protest the sensationalism displayed on shows like Donahue's. But he may have been deliberately fanning that sensationalism too, if you credit the account he gave to Re/Search:

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Trillion-Dollar Deficits Are Nearly Here. Thanks, Republicans!

At nearly every opportunity, the GOP has made the nation's fiscal outlook worse.

Douliery Olivier/ABACADouliery Olivier/ABACAThe Congressional Budget Office projected in April that the federal budget deficit would hit $804 billion this year, and would top $1 trillion by 2020, two years earlier than previously projected.

Last week, the CBO reported that the federal government had already spent $895 billion more than it brought during the first 11 months of the fiscal year, an increase of $222 billion over the same period of time last year. Trillion-dollar deficits are very nearly here.

It's no secret why. Over the past year, Republicans at the federal level have cut taxes while signing onto bipartisan deals to increase spending. They have made the deficit larger at nearly every turn, and there's no sign they plan to stop.

Just this morning, President Donald Trump tweeted his displeasure with a bipartisan spending measure that passed in the Senate earlier this week. "I want to know, where is the money for Border Security and the WALL in this ridiculous Spending Bill, and where will it come from after the Midterms? Dems are obstructing Law Enforcement and Border Security." Trump had demanded $5 billion in spending for a border wall; the deal Senate Republicans cut with Democrats provides $1.6 billion. Trump, in other words, was upset because the plan doesn't spend more.

Yet the foundation of the latest budget deal, much like the spending planned signed earlier this year, is an agreement to spend more—on everything. The deal spends $11 billion more on the Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services departments than the Trump administration requested. That's what Democrats wanted in exchange for agreeing to a $17 billion year-over-year increase in military spending, according to The Washington Post. The two parties reached a deal by giving both sides what they want: more spending.

President Trump, meanwhile, wants even more spending—a lot more—in the form of a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill financed entirely by debt. Indeed, according to Axios, Trump rejected a proposal from former White House adviser Gary Cohn to spend $200 billion in federal funds in hopes of leveraging state and local dollars. Trump preferred an idea put forth by Democrats to put the entire infrastructure bill on the federal tab. "We've just gotta spend money on this," Trump reportedly said.

Trump wants to spend money—but Republicans don't want to raise more revenue to pay for it.

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Christine Ford Slaps Down Evil-Twin Defense of Kavanaugh: Reason Roundup

Plus: 1st Amendment coalition sues over DOJ seizure of Times reporter records and more boomers and seniors cop to pot use.

Ed Whelan/TwitterEd Whelan/Twitter

Kavanaugh drama takes soap-operatic turn. An influential conservative operative and friend of Judge Brett Kavanaugh's has put forth a novel theory about the sexual assault allegation that threatens to derail Kavanaugh's path to the Supreme Court. In a series of (now-deleted) Thursday night tweets, Ed Whelan suggested that everything happened just as accuser Christine Blasey Ford had said—except she had the wrong guy! In reality, suggested Whelan, it was probably a boy named Chris Garrett who assaulted Ford when she was 15.

Yep, that's right: Whelan just sacrificed some random dude who happened to be a classmate of Kavanaugh's at Georgetown Prep back in the '80s.

Neither Ford nor anyone else had named Garrett as someone who had been around on the night in question. But Garrett's family did live in the vicinity of where Ford said they were hanging out that night, and other (named) attendees allegedly did not. Apparently, that's enough for Whelan to accuse Garrett of sexual assault.

The dumbest part about Whelan's theory is that it turns on Ford having remembered precisely how many people were at the gathering that night 36 years ago but not which one of them attempted to rape her. See, Ford has said she was there with one other girl and three boys (Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, and P.J. Smyth). "If the gathering was at Garrett's house and Garrett was there, then one of the 'four others' wasn't there," Whelan tweeted.

Case closed! Because surely, someone who can't remember details like which Georgetown Prep football player accosted her could never have mistaken how many people were hanging out and drinking there...

For her part, Ford dismissed the mistaken-identity theory as ridiculous. She says that she knew both Kavanaugh and Garrett before the night in question, that she and Garrett had traveled in the same social circles, and that she had even visited Garrett when he had been hospitalized. "There is zero chance that I would confuse them," she said in a statement.

Ford's lawyers continue to insist that she will not testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday but say she can do it later in the week, perhaps Thursday.

This morning, Whelan apologized for identifying Garrett:

After suggesting yesterday that a 15-year-old Ford should have gone to the FBI with her attempted rape allegations (the FBI does not handle such cases), Trump followed up today on Twitter by saying that if the attack had taken place, either Ford or her parents would have filed a report with local police. "I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!" Trump tweeted.


Group sues government for seizing reporter's records. A group called the First Amendment Coalition is suing the US. Department of Justice for seizing email and phone records from New York Times reporter Ali Watkins. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The group alleges that "neither Ms. Watkins nor Ms. Watkins' employers appear to have been made aware of the government's use of legal process to collect these records until long after the collection had begun."

"Based on what we know now, it appears the DOJ ignored or somehow bypassed its important procedures for collecting journalists' records," said the group's executive director, David Snyder, in a statement. "We want to know if that's the case and, if so, why."

Read the First Amendment Coalition's full complaint here.


"Talk to your grandparents about marijuana—before somebody else does," quips Christopher Ingraham in The Washington Post. As legal marijuana markets continue to emerge, marijuana use is now as popular among older adults as it is among young adults and teenagers, according to a new national survey.

"As recently as the early 2000s, teens were more than four times more likely to use marijuana than 50- and 60-somethings," notes Ingraham.

But as of 2017, Americans ages 55 to 64 are now slightly more likely to smoke pot on a monthly basis than teens ages 12 to 17. That difference is within the survey's margin of error.

The oldest age group—seniors age 65 and older—has seen steep increases in marijuana use, as well. In the mid-2000s, monthly marijuana use among this group was effectively at zero percent. As of last year, 2.4 percent of seniors used marijuana monthly, and nearly 4 percent were using on at least an annual basis.


Brian Wansink resigns. The high-profile Cornell nutrition researcher whose papers have been getting retracted recently has announced that he will resign at the end of the 2019 academic year. Wansink, notes Ars Technica, "was world-renowned for his massively popular, commonsense-style dieting studies before ultimately going down in flames in a beefy statistics scandal."


  • A new federal court ruling "means that effective immediately, anyone who produces more than $250 in ads that tell voters who to vote for in a federal campaign must identify any donor who gave them more than $200 in a single year."
  • Jordan B. Peterson, free speech warrior, exhibits A and B:
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The California Legislature Is Finally Out of Session: New at Reason

No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session. That goes double in California.

Bryan Mullennix Tetra Images/NewscomBryan Mullennix Tetra Images/NewscomThe California Legislature has concluded its session, bringing to mind a famous quotation from 19th century New York Judge Gideon Tucker: "No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session."

Last year, Brown signed 859 measures into law. We'll see this year's final count in coming days. Not every bill is a bad one. But if you wonder why taxes keep going up, regulations keep piling up, and the tax code becomes more complex, you might think about the sheer volume of legislation that makes its way through both houses of the Legislature.

We should all be happy the Legislature is out of session for a few months, writes Steven Greenhut.

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Kurt Loder Reviews Mandy and The House with a Clock in Its Walls: New at Reason

Nicolas Cage finally finds a home—not the case for Jack Black and Cate Blanchett.

DreamWorksDreamWorksThis week Kurt Loder takes a look at Mandy and The House with a Clock in Its Walls. A snippet:

Nicolas Cage is of course perfect for Mandy, the wonderfully wild and way-overcranked new midnight movie by Canadian director Panos Cosmatos. It's easy to forget that Cage was once awarded an Oscar (for the 1995 Leaving Las Vegas), and it's good to see that he's still able to make something warmly human out of the first half of the movie, in which his character, a gentle logger named Red Miller, mostly trades nuzzles and murmurs with his doomed sweetie, a haunted-looking artist named Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough). But Cage is also the actor (and the desperate tax delinquent) who has given us such crap classics as Bangkok Dangerous, Ghost Rider, and the insane Wicker Man remake ("Not the bees! Not the bees!"). So when the movie swerves out on a highway to hell in its second half, the Nic is ready to roll.

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