Free Minds & Free Markets

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Roger Goodell Says Medical Marijuana Might Not Be Safe Enough For Grown Men Who Hurt Each Other For a Living

Football is more dangerous than pot.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn't ready to take medical marijuana off the league's list of banned substances because the drug might be "negative to the health of our players," he told ESPN on Friday.

More from the man who suspended Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson--who's undergone two surgeries related to Crohn's disease--for 10 games as a result of his medical marijuana use:

"I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use," Goodell said. "Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players?

"Listen, you're ingesting smoke, so that's not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long term. All of those things have to be considered.

"And it's not as simple as someone just wants to feel better after a game. We really want to help our players in that circumstance, but I want to make sure that the negative consequences aren't something that is going to be something that we'll be held accountable for some years down the road."

Aside from the apparent connection between marijuana and people who are genetically predisposed to schizophrenia, there is no compound in cannabis worse for human beings--in the short term or the long term--than football itself. Marijuana will not tear your meniscus or your ACL or your MCL or your achilles tendon. Marijuana will not give you bursitis. Marijuana will not break your back or neck. Marijuana will not give you chronic traumatic encephalopathy. As for the carcinogenic effect: You don't even have to smoke it anymore!

How does Goodell not know these things? I have never run a sports league before. Maybe he genuinely lacks the time to read on the merits of liberalizing cannabis laws and workplace policies. (Then again, I have to imagine he makes time for Dallas Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones, the league's loudest voice in favor of dropping the pot ban.) Goodell could also be setting the stage for negotiations with the players union in 2020. As Reason's Eric Boehm noted earlier this month, banned substances are part of the collective bargaining agreement.

Or perhaps Goodell's busy navigating the consequences of things the league does condone, and which are demonstrably more dangerous than marijuana.'s Kevin Seifert reports that 1,800 former players are suing the NFL for "improper and deceptive prescription drug-distribution practices." The league is also on the hook for a billion dollars in benefits to retired players suffering from traumatic brain injury. Making those problems go away doesn't leave a lot of time for leisure reading. In which case, Goodell should just check out this video from

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Donald Trump Visits the NRA, David Clarke for Homeland Security Job? P.M. Links

  • TrumpERIK S. LESSER/EPA/NewscomPresident Donald Trump paid a visit to National Rifle Association headquarters, promising to end the "eight-year assault on your Second Amendment rights."
  • This school district has the most ridiculous haircut policy ever.
  • Here's a tip about how to tip like a libertarian.
  • Sheriff David Clarke is being considered for Homeland Security job.
  • National Review writer says we should keep fighting the Drug War—at least when it comes to hard drugs.
  • Alex Jones lost his custody battle.
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NSA Ends One Particular Type of Domestic Email Data Collection

No more gathering communications from Americans that were ‘about’ a foreign target.

NSABadboo / Dreamstime.comLet's hear it for a little bit more communication privacy for Americans! Charlie Savage at The New York Times is reporting via sources that the National Security Agency (NSA) is ending a particular type of intrusive surveillance that scanned the contents of Americans' emails for key words.

Specifically, the NSA monitors messages for references of foreign individuals under their surveillance, even when such communications originate here domestically from Americans. This is often referred to in shorthand as "about" searches, meaning they're looking for messages that are "about" people they're watching, not just from or to these people. The NSA argues that this is legal as part of its job to gather intelligence about potential foreign threats. But this happens without warrants and and the implication here is at the very least the scanning of the contents of Americans' communications without evidence of wrongdoing.

Furthermore it appears as though NSA employees were not able to confine themselves to collecting just the communications that referenced the foreign target. This technical issue had been raised before in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC): Through this process, the NSA was collecting and potentially getting access to all sorts of communications it wasn't supposed to be looking at, even if one were to accept that the "about" searches were legal. From Savage:

The problem stemmed from certain bundled messages that internet companies sometimes packaged together and transmitted as a unit. If even one of them had a foreign target's email address somewhere in it, all were sucked in.

After the N.S.A. brought that issue to the court's attention in 2011, a judge ruled that it violated the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable searches. The agency then proposed putting the bundled messages in a special repository to which analysts, searching through intercepts to write intelligence reports, would generally not have access. The court permitted that type of collection to continue with that restriction.

But last year, officials said, the N.S.A. discovered that analysts were querying the bundled messages in a way that did not comply with those rules. The agency brought the matter to the court's attention, resulting in a delay in reauthorizing the broader warrantless surveillance program until the agency proposed ceasing this collection practice.

And now it looks like, at least for the time being, they're stopping these searches. This is potentially a significant change because of what's called "backdoor" searches. Once the NSA collects information from this warrantless surveillance, it can be used by other federal agencies to search for information about specific Americans in order to target domestic criminal behavior. And they're allowed to do so even though this private information was collected without warrants. So naturally reducing the amount of communications the NSA is collecting will reduce the potential for backdoor, warrantless searches.

It won't eliminate the possibility of these backdoor searches, though, and this decision from the NSA might just be temporary until they figure out a way to resolve the problem of incidental collection of unrelated emails. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which sets up some of the rules and authorization for this data collection, will sunset this year unless Congress renews it. Privacy and civil rights advocates would like to see reforms to 702 to better protect Americans from unwarranted snooping. This change helps a touch, but there's still going to be a push to try to stop those backdoor searches.

More about Section 702 reforms and federal surveillance issues were discussed in a recent South by Southwest panel moderated by yours truly. Listen in on that lively talk here.

LATE-BREAKING: Here's the NSA's official formal announcement confirming Savage's report.

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Prostitution-Ring-Running Cop Sees Court, But Police Who Extort Sex Often Go Unpunished

Former NYPD officer Michael Rizzi is accused of running an upscale prostitution service and its 50 related websites.

Luiz Roberto Lima/ZUMA Press/NewscomLuiz Roberto Lima/ZUMA Press/NewscomIt's been an astounding week for abuses of power and sexual violence committed by state agents. In New York City alone, one former cop is on trial for running for running a prostitution ring, another was sentenced to federal prison for soliciting child pornography from mothers he met online, and three others have been indicted on suspicion of trading gun permits for sex, travel, and cash.

The first, former officer Michael Rizzi, was with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for nine years before retiring due to disability. He's now accused of running an upscale prostitution service and its 50 related websites.

Meanwhile, former NYPD officers Paul Dean, Robert Espinel, and Gaetano Valastro were indicted Tuesday for conspiracy to commit bribery, in conjunction with the aforementioned gun-permitting plot.

"Getting a gun license in New York can be a lengthy and intensive procedure, which includes getting approval from the NYPD," notes The Daily Beast's Katie Zavadski.

An industry of "expeditors" popped up to help clients speed through the process, sometimes aided by crooked cops looking to make a buck by pushing applications along from the inside. All the men charged Tuesday were implicated by alleged co-conspirators who have pleaded guilty, including ex-NYPD licensing division sergeant David Villanueva and former expeditor Frank Soohoo, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said an internal review flagged more than 400 gun licenses as suspicious. Of the around 200 already reviewed, 100 led to permits being suspended. In a related complaint, former Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney John Chamberswith was also indicted for bribery.

Head south to Atlanta, Georgia, and arrests continue in a police take-down of two escort services, Atlanta Gold Club Escorts and Lipstick and Shoes Escorts, that also ensnared Gwinnett County Assistant District Attorney Christopher Quinn in January. Quinn was caught on camera paying for and having sex with a woman who worked for one of the escort agencies. For weeks after his mid-January arrest, Quinn remained employed with and working at the district attorney's office. He eventually resigned at the end of February because "he did not want to subject this office to any more controversy," the county district attorney told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. By the end of March, Quinn had found a new position as an assistant district attorney with the South Georgia Judicial District.

Head further south (and far west), to the U.S. territory of Guam, and we have former police officer Paul John Santos. Santos was found guilty this week of criminal sexual conduct, bribery, and official misconduct after threatening to arrest a sex worker if she didn't have sex with him. "The defendant was a police officer put in position of trust by the public, by individuals he is supposed to be protecting and serving," but "his actions show the exact opposite of that," Assistant Attorney General Matt Heibel said in a sentencing hearing, requesting Santos receive 30 years in prison. The judge sentenced him to 21 years.

That sort of punishment for sex-predator cops is rare. Kate Mogulescu, who heads up the Legal Aid Society of New York's s human trafficking advocacy program, recently talked to Gothamist about this issue. She said her organization repeatedly hears from sex workers "about inappropriate policing, coercive policing. We have inappropriate sexual conduct during the course of arrest, officers who want to take photos of clients on their personal cell phones."

While police abuse against men tends to be more public, investigation and anecdote suggest that it's just as common with women—it just tends to take different forms. "The way the police engage women, especially Black women and sex workers, creates a culture of violence," Jacqueline Robarge, of Batlimore women's organization Power Inside, told Truthout in a piece published this week. "The police use a variety of tactics, including harassment, physical and sexual violence, medical neglect in police custody, and ignoring violence committed by family and community members."

Truthout points out that the Department of Justice investigation into Baltimore police, prompted by Freddie Gray's killing, found "a number of instances in which Baltimore police officers extorted sex from women they alleged were engaged in prostitution or drug-related activities. The women's complaints were poorly and partially investigated, if at all," and consequences were rare and light.

"Given the choice between facing decades in prison for a drug or prostitution-related charge or performing a sexual act, with little likelihood of accountability for the officer involved, all too many women will continue to be targets of sexual shakedowns by police, in Baltimore and across the country," Andrea J. Ritchie writes.

In Memphis, Tennessee, Sergeant Erskine Caldwell was recently accused of such behavior. Caldwell was reported to Internal Affairs by his fellow officers after they spotted him several times with a known sex-worker in his patrol car pre-dawn. The woman later told Memphis Police Department (MPD) internal investigators that Caldwell had harassed her until she complied with his sexual demands. "This known prostitute was in the process of filing a complaint saying [Caldwell] paid her for sex on two separate occasions," the MPD internal report says. "She said [Caldwell] would not leave her alone and she felt uncomfortable and afraid."

Caldwell denied the allegations, and his dash-cam video had been turned off during all encounters with the woman. MPD investigators found him guilty of unauthorized use of department vehicles, failure to comply with in-car video policy, and personal conduct unbecoming an officer. He was suspended for 20 days and will be back on patrol duty April 29.

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I Gave My Waitress a 'Libertarian Tip': Taxation Is Theft!

A meme you can try at home.

Have you seen the viral "libertarian tip"? Someone in Missouri left a cash tip with a note explaining it was actually a personal gift and so not subject to state and federal income taxes, and wrote "taxation is theft" in the tip line on the check.

Who knows if the note is authentic? "Taxation is theft," an old libertarian bromide, has in the last year or so become a fairly popular internet meme. By some accounts, the meme wars were an important aspect of the 2016 election and its outcome—and you can expect the trend of political memes to grow. Maybe the "libertarian tip" was staged by someone who wants to promote libertarianism or encourage others to leave libertarian tips, or even just someone who wanted to play with the "taxation is theft" meme.

Nevertheless, I went out to lunch today to replicate the meme so I could give you an authentic photo of an authentic non-tip left as an untaxable personal gift. Here it is:


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Cult Fave American Gods Makes Small Screen Debut: New at Reason

Old religious icons clash with new symbols of cultural worship.

'American Gods''American Gods,' StarzWhen Shadow Moon, a newly released prison inmate flying home for a funeral, expresses his admiration for a con artist he's just spotted hustling his way to a free upgrade in first class, the scammer shares his secret: "It's about getting people to believe in you." That's as good a summary as any of American Gods, the cult-favorite 2001 novel finally making its way to the screen on the Starz cable network. Is religion just a gigantic hustle? And does it matter, as long as people believe? Most importantly of all, what happens if they stop believing?

A rambunctious sci-fi/fantasy slice-and-dice of theology, myth, and hot-button sociology, with a generous dollop of pure depravity thrown in just for fun and Nielsen points, American Gods is a dizzying journey through humanity's obsession with theism and dogma. It doesn't always make sense—maybe it never makes sense—and its pace is dreadfully uneven. But a show in which a religious pilgrim trekking through the wilderness of a big-box electronic store is tempted by a goddess disguised as Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy, murmuring from a TV screen, "Hey, you ever wanted to see Lucy's tits?" is not easily dismissed. Television critic Glenn Garvin takes a look.

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Oregon Democrats (Reluctantly) Look to Address Budget Deficit with Spending Cuts

Here's why Congressional Republicans can't seem to do the same

Governor Kate BrownOregon Department of Transportation / Wikimedia CommonsWhile a Republican-controlled Congress continually fails to address persistent budget deficits at the national level, Oregon's constitutional requirement for a balanced budget is forcing its Democratic governor and legislature to take major steps to address theirs.

Yesterday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown came out with a three-pronged plan to cut the cost of state government in the face of a $1.6 billion budget shortfall. These proposals come on top of a statewide hiring freeze announced last week.

Prong one of Brown's plan calls for creating a task force that will study which state assets can be privatized or borrowed against to pay down pension debt. The task force will also study the feasibility of getting state employees to contribute more toward their pensions.

Oregon currently has $22 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, but more conservative estimates put that figure closer to the $50 billion mark.

Prongs two and three of Brown's plan instruct state agencies to use market compensation as a standard for salary negotiations with public sector employees, and to get tougher on collecting some $560–760 million in unpaid taxes owed to Oregon's general fund.

And the belt tightening is unlikely to stop there. Back in February, budget committee co-chairs from the Oregon House and Senate laid out a plan that relied wholly on spending cuts to tackle the state's looming budget deficit.

The supposedly nightmarish vision of this plan—which called for 1–3 percent cuts to K–12 and higher education spending—was never truly intended to pass in progressive Oregon, but it served to focus the minds of legislators on the need to do some substantial slashing within the state budget.

State Sen. Richard Devlin—the Democratic co-chair of the Senate Ways and Means committee—came out in March with a budget plan that would rely in equal measure on tax increases and spending cuts. Then on April 21, a bipartisan letter from the legislature's budget writers to the governor bluntly expressed the need for the state government to slim down as a solution to baked-in budget deficits.

"Without action to contain the growing costs of state government now, the structural imbalance will cause even greater deficits in future years," the letter reads before going on to elaborate a number of ways the state could save money.

These include some pretty good ideas, such as a two-year extension of the governor's hiring freeze—the current policy is set to last two months—and cutting the state's workforce from 1.5 percent to 1 percent of the population.

The legislators' letter also contains some face-palmingly obvious suggestions, such as to "not create new programs or funds that have no money to support them," and to fix existing infrastructure instead of building more of it.

None of this is to suggest that Oregon's bright blue politicians and voters have all the sudden become libertarian state-smashers. Indeed, intermingled with all the calls for spending cuts and efficiency savings have been more than a few ill-advised proposals for a gross-receipts tax and for brand new levies on hospitals, coffee, and junked cars. (The latter two were, mercifully, killed.) Instead, the lesson—and one that should be instructive on the national stage as well—is how to get Democratic lawmakers to consider spending cuts in the first place.

One reason for this seeming change of heart is the spectacular failure of Measure 97, a 2016 ballot initiative that called for a 2.5 percent gross receipts tax on corporations making over $25 million in sales, which was expected to bring in $3 billion annually. Had that revenue materialized, spending cuts would no doubt be off the table.

But a shortage of tax receipts to match their wish list doesn't stop Democrats in Washington from becoming hysterical at the thought of small trims to federal programs. The real difference is the constitutional requirement that Oregon actually balance its books over the biennial budget cycle.

This combination of voters saying no to new taxes and lawmakers being constitutionally prohibited from endless borrowing is forcing Oregon's otherwise spend-happy politicians to slow the steady growth of state government.

Sadly, the federal government faces no such restriction. Congress has the authority to borrow nearly limitless sums of money to finance its current expenditures. The result: a $560 billion budget deficit, $19 trillion dollars in debt, and unfunded liabilities that official estimates put at $55 trillion, but could be as high as $222 trillion.

And despite the fact that Congress is now controlled by Atlas Shrugged–reading "small-government conservatives" (their words), no serious reductions in federal spending seem likely at the moment. President Trump's much-talked-about "skinny budget" would only shift dollars from wasteful domestic spending to destructive military spending, and it's doubtful that House and Senate Republicans would even pass that.

The takeaway is that politicians will rarely if ever shrink the state unless they are forced to. Democrats in Oregon have their hands tied by the state Constitution, and are therefore taking spending cuts seriously.

Republicans in D.C. are given free rein by the U.S. Constitution, thus dooming federal taxpayers to uncontrolled debt and deficits for the foreseeable future.

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Peoples Climate March This Saturday: New at Reason

Progressives claim that climate change entails killing off capitalism

PeopleClimateMarchDCPeoples Climate MarchTomorrow around 100,000 Americans are expected to join the Peoples Climate March, which plans to stream from the Capitol up Pennsylvania Avenue while demanding jobs, justice, and—oh, yes—action on climate change. The plan is to "literally" surround the White House, then stage a 100-second sit-in, symbolizing the first 100 days of Donald Trump's administration. (Perhaps President Trump will hear the protests tomorrow afternoon, but he plans to hold a rally in Pennsylvania that evening.) It's another example of social justice movements hijacking the problem of climate change and using it as a pretext for attacking our system of market-tested betterment and innovation.

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Australian Police Admit Illegally Snooping on Journalist

Country requires companies to collect and store mass amounts of citizen metadata. Abuses are inevitable.

computer surveillanceDave Bredeson / Dreamstime.comToday we have a reminder from Australia that when government collects massive amounts of private information abuse ultimately follows. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) admitted today that an officer illegally accessed a journalist's call records (metadata) in order to track down a source who was leaking confidential police information.

Remarkably, the AFP commissioner then subsequently described the breach in a press conference as a result of "human error." Clearly it was not some sort of mistake that a police officer just happened to get his or her hands on this information. What he really meant was that the proper rules were not followed. Apparently the investigator "failed in their obligation to know the law," the commissioner stated, according to The Guardian. But he also laid some of the blame on "the system," the extremely familiar argument that this is all a "training issue."

The timing is particularly interesting. In 2015 Australia passed a law mandating communication companies collect and store the metadata from their customers for two years so that authorities can access it. It was sold to Australians as a mechanism to fight terrorism and crime, just as similar mass surveillance authorities have been sold to citizens in other countries.

Media companies and journalists were worried that police would access their data in precisely this way. So the law included a provision that required police to get a warrant to access the metadata of journalists. Mind you, the journalist would not be informed that the police had requested or received access to said metadata, but at least there would be an additional layer of oversight.

But even that didn't happen here. The AFP official did not get a warrant. Furthermore, despite the breach of the law, they have not identified or told the journalist who was affected due to the ongoing investigation. The metadata has been destroyed, but the commissioner acknowledged that the officer who violated the law cannot unsee the information. He also said the officer would likely face no discipline because there was no "ill will or bad intent."

While the law was passed two years ago, the full data retention orders were just formally implemented just weeks ago in order to give internet and telecom companies time to comply.

Media and privacy advocates in the country are appalled. From The Guardian:

The Human Rights Law Centre legal advocacy director, Emily Howie, told Guardian Australia the breach showed that the metadata powers were putting "press freedom at risk".

"The fact that police can so easily access a honey pot of personal information at any time surely has a chilling effect on free speech," Howie said. "Let's not forget that it is not only journalists whose metadata might be accessed.

"Australia's metadata regime is the most oppressive in the western world. It effectively allows law enforcement bodies to watch everybody, all of the time, without them knowing."

It's also a reminder that metadata reveals an awful lot about who we are and what we're doing. Government officials who support this type of metadata collection are constantly reminding citizens that they're not eavesdropping on actual conversations or reading the content of emails. But in this case, just the government's access to a list of people who spoke to a journalist over a specific time frame has the potential to implicate them. Metadata is useful to the government entirely because it does actually reveal private behavior.

Libertarian (technically Liberal Democratic) Australian Senator David Leyonhjelm had been warning about expanding the government's access to citizen metadata back in 2014 when he joined the Senate. In response to this latest breach he told the Australian Associated Press the laws were fundamentally wrong, and "Governments are supposed to serve the people, not treat them as presumptive criminals."

Note that this sort of government snooping on journalists is one of the major reasons why organizations like Reporters Without Borders say media freedom is on the decline across the world.

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Trump's First 100 Days: At Least He Picked Some Good People to Run Things

The best thing about Trump’s administration is the parts that aren’t Trump (or Jeff Sessions).

Erik McGregor/Sipa USA/NewscomErik McGregor/Sipa USA/NewscomAs President Donald Trump's first 100 days in office draw to a close, it's tempting to slap a letter grade on the administration's opening act, where much was promised and little was delivered. It's possible that the best grade is, for now, an "incomplete" because the greatest potential of the Trump administration to affect that change has little to do with the attention-craving septuagenarian in the Oval Office, and much more to do with who Trump has appointed to run other parts of the government.

Trump, it hardly needs to be said, is unlike any president who came before him.

He was elected on a promise to remake the federal government in total. To drain the swamp. To "dismantle the administrative state," as Steve Bannon, one of Trump's top advisers, put it. He was also elected with less than a majority of voters supporting him, and low approval ratings have dogged him since Inauguration Day. The gap between Trump's mantle and his mandate is greater than any president in recent memory.

It's also true that Trump faced a steeper learning curve than any other president, given his complete lack of knowledge and experience in politics. Whether Trump even wants to climb that curve has been a matter of some debate, though he's at least now admitting ("This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier," Trump told Reuters in an interview published Friday) that he's in over his head.

Trump can't do it all. No president can. The federal leviathan is simply too large.

Enter the appointees. There's plenty of room to quibble with the men and women whom Trump has selected to run many of the federal government's top agencies and departments (looking at you, Attorney General Jeff Sessions), but libertarians should be at least mildly optimistic about several choices: Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, Scott Pruitt as the director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Ajit Pai as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, to name just three.

The FCC's status as an independent regulatory agency means Pai is in a position to make the biggest, or at least the most immediate, impact. This week, Pai announced plans to roll back net neutrality rules put in place by the Obama administration in 2015. Net neutrality was a political response to a problem that doesn't really exist—Obama's FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, struggled to find any examples of how Internet Service Providers had throttled data or blocked websites, and worked in secret with the White House to create a set of regulations that would pass legal muster—and loosening government regulation of the Internet is a win for businesses and users.

Scrapping these rules, Pai told Reason's Nick Gillespie, won't harm consumers or the public interest because there was no reason for them in the first place. The rationales were mere "phantoms that were conjured up by people who wanted the FCC for political reasons to over-regulate the internet," Pai told Gillespie. "We were not living in a digital dystopia in the years leading up to 2015."

Trump and Congress teamed-up to use the Congressional Review Act 13 times during the first 100 days to repeal Obama-era regulations, including the FCC's 2016 privacy rule. "This regulation imposed uniquely rigid requirements on broadband providers, suppressing competition in the market for online advertising," says Ryan Radia, a research fellow for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market think tank.

Pruit, at the EPA, announced in March that the agency will reconsider the final determination and decide by April 1, 2018 whether the Obama-era CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) standards will remain in place. Those rules drive up the cost of making cars and automakers say the new level set last year by the Obama Administration may be unachievable. Even if CAFE standards were useful in helping nudge fuel efficiency upwards over the past decade—something that probably would have happened anyway—there's good reason to question whether they are still needed.

Devos, probably Trump's most controversial pick, has not yet demolished public schools or fired all of America's teachers (as some opponents of her confirmation might have led you to believe she would). But she has called for scaling back Department of Education spending on Title II programs and wants to reconsider Title IX rules that have run roughshod over students accused (but not convicted) of sexual assaults on college campuses.

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On Health Care, Republicans Are Only Negotiating With Themselves

The GOP's Obamacare repeal is stalled because Republicans haven't made a case for its merits.

Cheriss May/TNS/NewscomCheriss May/TNS/NewscomFrom a certain perspective, the Republican effort to repeal (or at least rewrite) Obamacare made slow progress this week. The Freedom Caucus, one of the main sources of GOP opposition to the bill, endorsed an amended version. Republicans seem to have settled on state opt-out waivers, which, as Yuval Levin writes at National Review, could allow the party to navigate its internal political and policy differences. Key outside groups such as Heritage Action have dropped their strong objections to the bill.

And yet it's far from clear that the bill will actually move forward, because for all the progress Republicans appear to have made, the bill is still stalled. Despite multiple reports that the House would proceed with a vote on a bill to partially repeal Obamacare, another week has gone by with no actual vote. There has been no vote for the simple reason that the bill lacks the support to pass. Still.

For now, at least, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), remains dead. And if you want to understand why, it helps to compare the Republican effort to repeal Obamacare with the process by which Democrats put together the bill in the first place.

In some ways, the movement we have seen so far on the AHCA resembles the drawn-out process by which Democrats drew up and passed Obamacare in the first place. When Democrats put together the health care law in 2009, they were aiming to have the entire process completed by early or mid-summer. Instead, the process stretched out for more than a year, as holdouts negotiated tweaks and carve-outs. Then, as now, the process moved in in fits and starts, with various versions floated and then discarded, and congressional support levels hovering at some difficult-to-determine level below the threshold for passage.

But the GOP process this time around is distinct in at least one important way: Unlike Democrats, Republicans are only negotiating with themselves.

Democrats spent much of the summer of 2009 letting Senator Max Baucus, who oversaw the bill-writing process, negotiate with Senate Republicans, in hopes of picking up a veneer of bipartisan support. At the same time, the White House and Senate Democrats negotiated various deals with major players in the health care industry, including drug makers and trade groups representing hospitals and doctors. As a result of those deals, the industry groups helped sell the bill to both the general public and skeptical legislators, promising air cover in exchange for certain carve outs. Finally, President Obama used the bully pulpit to make the case for the law to both congress and the public. All of this followed years of discussions amongst liberal wonks and activist groups.

There was the usual internal wrangling as well, of course, with Democrats cutting deals with their members in exchange for support. But part of the reason that Democrats could make those deals was that they had gathered backers from other quarters, and had created a sense that passage was inevitable. External support created internal support. The process was self-reinforcing.

Republicans, in contrast, are negotiating entirely within their own congressional ranks—and really only within a small subset of House Republicans.

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Trump Executive Order Could Empower State and Local Governments to Manage Federal Lands

Issues executive order to Interior Department to review national monument designations.

BearsEarsDOIDOIThe Bears Ears National Monument was established on 1.3 million acres of federally owned land in southern Utah by President Barack Obama on December 28, 2016 on his way out of the White House. Obama used, or as his critics would say, abused his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to make this designation. The Act was adopted chiefly as a way to punish people who were looting prehistoric Indian sites in the West, but has since been used by presidents as way to limit development on various federally owned lands. This order infuriated some local people and politicians including Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R) who told the Salt Lake Tribune: "This arrogant act by a lame duck president will not stand. I will work tirelessly with Congress and the incoming Trump administration to honor the will of the people of Utah and undo this designation."

Heeding these objections, President Donald Trump issued an executive order earlier this week instructing Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review and determine the appropriateness of national monument designations under the Antiquities Act from January 1, 1996 until now. The order directs the the Secretary to "consult and coordinate with the Governors of States affected by monument designations or other relevant officials of affected State, tribal, and local governments."

How is Zinke's review likely to come out? Terry Anderson, the founder of the free-market Property Environment Research Center* in Bozeman, Montana, reviews Zinke's history with public lands policy in a column published at the Forbes website. Anderson points out that Zinke was a supporter of the Protecting Agriculture, Conservation, and Recreation and Empowering States (ACRES) bill that would limit executive power to unilaterally establish national monuments under the Antiquities Act. Anderson points out that that bill bill would require state governors, adjacent counties and adjacent property owners to approve monument designations.

In addition, Zinke voted for the Residual Federal Forest Act which would allow logging companies to have access to federal forests in order to thin them as a way to prevent massive forest fires. As Anderson notes, "Timber left unmanaged provides tinder for massive wildfires, making it a far bigger threat to wilderness lands than chainsaws."

Anderson also praises Zinke for voting for Self-Sufficient Community Lands Act that would transfer management of millions of acres of federal land to states under a management board appointed by state governors. Zinke, on the other hand, has opposed the transfer of federal lands to local and state governments.

Let us hope that the review will limit federal overreach and enable more local control over federally-owned lands. The final review is due in 120 days.

*Disclosure: I have been the happy beneficiary of grants, conferences, and intellectual enrichment from PERC for many years.

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How'd President Trump Do in First 100 Days?

Three best and worst achievements.

As President Donald Trump's first hundred days in the White House approaches, how do you think he did? Reason TV's editor in chief Nick Gillespie came up with the three worst—and the three best—achievements of Trump's first 100 days.

Click below for full text, links, and downloadable versions.

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Protectionism Isn't National Security: New at Reason

The biggest threat to U.S. national security, Daniel Griswold writes, is not steel imports, but new steel protectionism.

The other 97 percent of domestic steel production is consumed by a broad swath of U.S. industry, including construction, and such manufacturing sectors as automobiles, machinery & equipment, energy, and appliances.

If the Trump administration imposes new barriers to imported steel, it will drive up the domestic price of steel, imposing higher production costs on those other sectors of the economy and making their products less competitive in global markets. Economists estimate that for every U.S. worker in the steel industry, there are 60 workers in steel-consuming industries whose jobs will be made less secure by any new steel tariffs. Those tariffs will weaken, not strengthen, America's industrial base.

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Yes, Science, But How About a March for Math?: New at Reason

kenteegarden/flickrkenteegarden/flickrInnumerates number the ranks of politicians and bureaucrats.

Steven Greenhut writes:

Tens of thousands of people marched in hundreds of cities last weekend as part of something billed as the March for Science. The event, which coincided with Earth Day, was meant to rebuke the Trump administration's global-warming skepticism and its plan to cut taxpayer funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies that arguably deal with "science."

"The job of science is to both understand the Earth, understand the things that we can get out of the Earth, how we're going to interact with it, how we're going to make the Earth a better place," said a representative of the Carnegie Institution of Science in a news report. "So seeing it fall under such hard times or negative impressions of it is just amazing to me."

It's a stretch to suggest that the prominence of scientific knowledge in general is falling under "hard times" because of recent proposals to trim the budget of some massive government bureaucracies. Judging by the anti-Trump signs and demands for more funding for various programs that proliferated at the marches, it seems they were more about political science than the kind of hard science that March for Science organizers had touted.

Nevertheless, the marchers are onto something, although their concept should be applied instead to a different discipline. "I think we need to have a March for Math. How you gonna be over $19 trillion in debt and still spending?" wrote commentator Julie Borowski. Indeed. Our political leaders, in California especially, are enthralled by climate science and have embraced myriad programs to deal with the issue of man-made global warming.

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