A St. Paul, Minnesota, woman was left with scars after she was attacked by a police K9. Desiree Collins was taking her garbage out and the cops were looking for a burglary suspect when the dog attacked her. When she asked why the dog attacked her, officers told her, "Just at the wrong place at the wrong time, ma'am." The dog ignored 10 "release" commands from its handler as well as shocks from an electric shock collar and had to be physically pulled off the woman by officers.
Tomorrow's political news will be dominated by the special election in Alabama for the vacated Senate seat left when Jeff Sessions became President Donald Trump's attorney general.
Will Judge Roy Moore, the Republican, be elected despite multiple, credible charges that he was a perv who got banned from a shopping mall for cruising teenage girls? Or will the contest be won by Doug Jones, the Democrat, a political novice who is counting on the black vote despite having next to no rapport with that group?
Alabama, it sucks to be you! There is at least one other alternative, though, who has gotten little-to-no coverage. That would be Ron Bishop, who is running a write-in campaign as a Libertarian Party candidate. He's even more of a novice than Doug Jones, saying, "I haven't spent a life in politics nor in the public eye." And he's much less of a creep than Roy Moore. Just check out his campaign statement on civil rights:
Libertarians value the right of all to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.
To this end, I believe we should:
Protect freedom of religion, association, speech, press, and assembly.
Reverse the militarization of law-enforcement agencies.
Reform asset-forfeiture laws.
Restore Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Restore voting and gun rights for those convicted of non-violent drug offenses.
Fight against federal overreach and government spying programs.
Restrict law-enforcement use of general surveillance technologies.
Protect internet freedom & privacy.
I support the LGBT community in their struggle for equality. The government needs to get out of our bedrooms and our pocketbooks.
Check out the rest of his platform here. It's good libertarian stuff, from abortion (he says the state should butt out) to immigration (he's for increasing legal pathways and against walls) to fighting terrorism ("the wrong path is the steady erosion of constitutional rights in the name of patriotism and security").
Alabamians are famously annoyed at outsiders telling what they should do and who they should vote for. Fair enough. But in a race between a moralistic Republican with pronounced theocratic tendencies and a Democrat about whom even his own party couldn't care less, it's good to have a third choice, isn't it?
And for those limited-government types who don't necessarily believe the women accusing Roy Moore of assault and other awful behavior, here is a baker's dozen of reasons to find him contemptible. That case comes courtesy of Andrew Heaton and Sarah Rose Siskind, in the most recent episode of Mostly Weekly. Take a look:
Go here for the complete list of reasons, but here's a sampling:He taught a class discouraging women from running for office. He's referred to people as "reds and yellows". He thinks the accusations of pedophilia are pushed by homosexuals and socialists. Accepted money from a Neo-nazi group. Said gay marriage was worse than slavery. Wouldn't rule out death penalty for gays. Wants to rescind free trade agreements. He's anti-immigrant. Believes Barack Obama wasn't born in America. Believes 9/11 is God's punishment for legalizing sodomy and abortion.
Fifteen million able-bodied adults on government welfare would have a better chance at economic betterment if they were taken off welfare.
That's the subject of a debate happening right now at the Soho Forum between Neera Tanden from the Center for American Progress and Tarren Bragdon from the Foundation for Government Accountability. Watch below, and submit questions in the Facebook comments. We'll read aloud a couple of the best during the Q&A session.
For months, even as independent analyses suggested the Republican-backed plan to slash taxes would add billions, perhaps trillions, to the national debt over the next decade, GOP leaders dismissed those worries.
The Trump White House and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin were supposed to have been cooking up an analysis to show the GOP tax plan "will pay for itself with growth," Mnuchin said in April.
When asked about whether the Treasury plan would be released before the tax bill passed the Senate (a different version had already cleared the House), Mnuchin told The New York Times that he had 100 people working around the clock to finish the analysis.
The one-page analysis released Monday, looking like a final paper written on the eve of a due date, shows Republicans have fully abandoned any pretense that passing the tax bill is based on principles of fiscal conservatism.
Treasury Department economists largely agree with the conclusion reached by the Joint Committee on Taxation?its analysis was released just before the Senate approved the tax bill?that the GOP tax bill will add about $1.5 trillion to the deficit in a decade; or about $1 trillion after economic growth is included.
The Treasury analysis declares that the plan will pay for itself "from a combination of regulatory reform, infrastructure development, and welfare reform as proposed in the Administration's Fiscal Year 2018 budget," the analysis says. That's the same budget proposal, by the way, that was declared "dead on arrival" by Republican congressional leaders.
How does the Treasury know all of these things will be accomplished and what their long-term effect on the federal budget will be? Is there any reason to think that a Republican caucus unable to pass even moderate reforms to the Affordable Care Act will be able to pass serious entitlement reforms in an election year?
The answers, apparently, don't matter enough to the Treasury.
With tax bills already passed in both the House and Senate, what the Treasury's analysis says?or doesn't say?probably doesn't change the trajectory of tax reform. Republican lawmakers in both chambers had plenty of other sources telling them that the bill did not pay for itself and would increase the deficit even after including expected economic growth. The same will be true, in all likelihood, of whatever package emerges from the conference committee.
The lack of detail in the Treasury's analysis is unlikely to sink the bill at this point, because the new analysis basically does the same thing that GOP members of Congress have been doing for weeks: making vague promises of greater-than-expected economic growth without any indication of how or why they believe that will happen.
But while the Treasury analysis does not change this bill's trajectory, it does contribute to one of the main problems with the GOP tax plan by further bending Congress' policy-making trajectory away from anything resembling fiscal sanity.
Indeed, that evolution is already taking place with left-leaning pundits. See, for example, this Matt Yglesias piece he claims is above the petty concern-trolling of Republican hypocrites on the debt, making the contrarian point that "Republicans are right about the deficit."
By which, of course, Yglesias means that debate over deficits should never again hinder progressive goals like government stimulus, expanding entitlements, or anything else.
Just as Democrats now have cause to regret the ways in which they forced Obamacare through the Senate with procedural shenanigans copied by Republicans once they took office, the GOP will rue the decision to disregard concern for the national debt in the name of politically expedient tax cuts.
And liberals will be more than happy to remind them just how vapid the deficit hawks turned out to be.
The Supreme Court will not yet step in to rule on whether federal laws against discrimination on the basis of sex also forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Today the top court declined to hear a lawsuit from a woman in Georgia who claims she was harassed and forced out of her job as a hospital security guard because of her sexual orientation. Lambda Legal, the LGBT-issue-focused legal group that represented her, argues that this violated Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
That law does not explicitly mention sexual orientation as a protected category, and for much of its history it was treated as though orientation were not included. Many states have chosen over time to add sexual orientation and sometimes gender identity to their own discrimination laws. But Georgia has not.
There is, however, a Supreme Court precedent?established in 1989's Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins?that discrimination based on whether a person expresses stereotypical masculine or feminine behaviors counts as sex-based discrimination. In this security guard's case and similar cases, lawyers argue that discrimination over sexual orientation is rooted in sex-based stereotypes about how males and females should look and behave, and that Title VII therefore covers it after all.
This view of the law does have some federal court rulings supporting it, but it has not made it up to the Supreme Court for a final decision. The interpretation played a significant role in the Obama administration's decision to tell schools they must accommodate transgender students' restroom and locker room choices. The issue of transgender accommodation in schools was heading to the Supreme Court, but when Attorney General Jeff Sessions took over, the Department of Justice reversed its stance, taking the position that federal discrimination laws do not cover sexual orientation or gender identity. Tthe Supreme Court subsequently punted the bathroom case back down to the lower courts, leaving the matter somewhat unsettled as a matter of law.
An 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel rejected the Georgia woman's claim in March. In April, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, determined the opposite?that the Civil Rights Act does prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians. So there is a split in federal court rulings, making the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case a bit of a surprise.
The Supreme Court did not indicate why justices are declining to take the case. A representative from Lambda Legal said in a statement that they're going to keep pushing to get the issue in front of the Supreme Court. Unless Congress passes a law settling the matter one way or the other, this seems likely to end up before the Supreme Court eventually.
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A new federal indictment accuses former Massachusetts state senator Brian Joyce of "honest services fraud," racketeering, extortion, money laundering, bribery, and defrauding the IRS. Reading the indictment, it's hard to miss the fact that a lot of the alleged corruption involves government interference with free markets, writes Ira Stoll.
For instance, the "nationally branded coffee and pastry fast-food business" that Joyce allegedly accepted free coffee from had an interest in state laws governing the relations between franchise holders and parent companies, and in "tip-pooling" legislation about how employees split tips. The indictment also discusses Joyce's involvement in allegedly "exerting pressure on and advising" members of a town planning board whose approval a developer needed to subdivide a piece of land.
If state and local government just let restaurants do what they want with their tip money, let landowners do what they want with their property, etc., there would be less opportunity for corruption, argues Stoll. Smaller government, in other words, in addition to whatever other virtues it has, has the possibility to be more honest government.
View this article.
Looking forward to a future when federal agents monitor Tinder? We won't be far off if some folks in Congress get their way.
Under a proposal from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R?Va.), anyone posting or hosting digital content that leads to an act of prostitution could face serious federal prison time as well as civil penalties. This is obviously bad news for sex workers, but it would also leave digital platforms?including dating apps, social media, and classifieds sites such as Craigslist?open to serious legal liability for the things users post.
In effect, it would give government agents more incentive and authority to monitor sex-related apps, ads, forums, and sites of all sorts. And it would give digital platforms a huge incentive to track and regulate user speech more closely.
Goodlatte's measure was offered as an amendment to another House bill, this one from the Missouri Republican Ann Wagner. The House Judiciary Committee will consider both bills on Tuesday.
Wagner's legislation (H.R. 1865) would open digital platforms to criminal and civil liability not just for future sex crimes that result from user posts or interactions but also for past harms brokered by the platforms in some way. So platforms that followed previous federal rules (which encouraged less content moderation in order to avoid liability) would now be especially vulnerable to charges and lawsuits.
The bill currently has 171 co-sponsors, including ample numbers of both Republicans and Democrats.
Specifically, Wagner's bill would amend Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, which says that websites and other online platforms should not be treated as the creators of user-posted content. What this means in effect is that these third-party platforms can't be sued or prosecuted for users' and commenters' illegal speech (or illegal actions resulting from speech)?with some major exceptions. Digital platforms do not get a pass for content they actually create "in whole or part," for instance.
As it stands, states cannot generally prosecute web services and citizens cannot sue them when user-generated content conflicts with state criminal law. Rep. Wagner's bill?like the similar and more-hyped "Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act" (SESTA)?would end this state and civil immunity for digital platforms in cases of "sex trafficking" or "sexual exploitation of children."
But while that may sound like a small concession, it actually opens up a huge range of activity for liability. At the federal level, the above offenses encompass everything from the truly horrific and unconscionable (like sex trafficking by force) to things like sexting between teenagers. And at the state level, definitions can be even more varied and blurry.
Wagner's bill doesn't just stop at carving out a new Section 230 exception. It also creates a new crime, "benefitting from participation in a venture engaged in sex trafficking," and makes it easy to hold all sorts of web platforms and publishers in violation.
Any "provider of an interactive computer service" who hosts user-posted information "with reckless disregard that the information provided...is in furtherance of [sex trafficking] or an attempt to commit such an offense" could face a fine and up to 20 years in prison, the bill states. And nothing "shall be construed to require the Federal Government in a prosecution, or a plaintiff in a civil action, to prove any intent on the part of the information content provider."
So in cases like, say, Hope Zeferjohn, the teen girl convicted of sex trafficking for talking to a younger teen on Facebook about prostitution, Facebook could be facing a federal charge for participating in a sex trafficking venture.
Goodlatte's proposal, meanwhile, would work by amending the Mann Act, a century-old prohibition on transporting someone across state lines for prostitution. The new section would declare that "whoever uses or operates a facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce or attempts to do so with the intent to promote or facilitate the prostitution of another person shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both." Anyone that "promotes or facilitates the prostitution of 5 or more persons" or "acts in reckless disregard of the fact that such conduct contributed to sex trafficking" could face a fine and up to 25 years of imprisonment.
Note that no actual prostitution needs to take place. An attempt?i.e., an online ad or solicitation, or what some official sees as one?is enough.
Like SESTA?which passed the House but has stalled in the Senate?this new package of proposals is presented as a way to combat sexual exploitation and human trafficking. But all it would really do is drive sex ads further underground, making it both harder to rescue victims of sexual abuse and harder for willing adult sex workers to conduct business safely, while simultaneously enabling unscrupulous attacks on web platforms, putting an insane chill on all internet speech, and opening the way for even more government prying into everyone's digital lives.
Reason is honored to partner with The Soho Forum in offering monthly debates that take place on the cutting-edge of libertarian thought and policy matters.
Tonight, that means Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, and Tarren Bragdon, president of the Foundation for Government Accountability, will be debating the costs and benefits of welfare at New York City's Subculture Theater. Specifically, they will debate the following proposition, with Bragdon defending it and Tanden opposing it.
"Fifteen million able-bodied adults on government welfare would have a better chance at economic betterment if they were taken off welfare."
The doors open at 5:45 P.M. and the event starts at 6:30 P.M. There's a cash bar and food is included with admission. Tickets cost $18 ($10 for students) must be purchased in advance and are still available. A special bonus: You can bring a friend for free. Go here for more information and to purchase tickets now.
The Soho Forum runs Oxford-style debates, meaning that the audience votes before and after the conversation gets underway and the winner is the person who moves more listeners in his/her direction.
If you can't attend, Reason will be live streaming the debate on Reason's Facebook page, where you'll be able to vote for the winner and submit questions for Tanden and Bragdon.
For past Soho Forums, which also get released at our YouTube channel and as Reason Podcasts, go here.
At some point, a person becomes numb to weird headlines emanating from this White House, but boy, does this one just scream out "2017": "Trump calls for the Washington Post to fire Dave Weigel." This is fine, #EatArbys, smod4real 2017, etc.
In a nutshell, Delaware Dave tweet-mocked the president for saying that his recent Florida rally was "packed to the rafters" by posting a photo showing anything but. But the photo was taken before Trump was speaking, so upon learning that, Weigel took it down about 20 minutes later. President Donald Trump later tweet-demanded an apology, and Weigel gave him one. Then this happened:
[email protected] @WashingtonPost put out a phony photo of an empty arena hours before I arrived @ the venue, w/ thousands of people outside, on their way in. Real photos now shown as I spoke. Packed house, many people unable to get in. Demand apology & retraction from FAKE NEWS WaPo! pic.twitter.com/XAblFGh1ob? Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2017
There went Weekend Twitter?.
Since Weigel worked at Reason from 2006-2008, and since all of us here tend to have idiosyncratic views on the media, the president, and the free speech, what better topic to kick off today's Reason Podcast featuring myself, Nick Gillespie, Katherine Mangu-Ward, and Peter Suderman?
Other pieces referenced on today's episode:
* "Abortion Is the Get-out-of-Jail-Free Card of Republican Politics"
* "Alito, Abortion, and the Bible"
* "Disgraced Al Franken now a victim of sexual McCarthyism" (Cathy Young, Daily News)
* "Mitch McConnell Says Caring About Legislative Process is For Losers. He's Wrong."
* "Bitcoin Confuses Alan Greenspan"
* "In Search of the Elusive Bitcoin Billionaire"
* "Eliminate the Brutes: Nick Gillespie on Ewoks"
OK, the latter hasn't been written?yet.
Audio production by Ian Keyser.
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Last year the FBI asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to retrieve guns from 4,170 people who were cleared to buy them even though they were disqualified under federal law. USA Today, which reported that number in an "exclusive" last week, sees it as evidence of a broken background check system. But these retrieval referrals also highlight the arbitrariness of the criteria that strip people of their Second Amendment rights.
If the FBI cannot complete a background check on a gun buyer within three days, the dealer is allowed to complete the sale, which is why the ATF is sometimes tasked with seizing guns after the fact. That does not happen very often. The 4,170 "delayed denials" in 2016 represented 0.015 percent of the 27.5 million background checks conducted that year. Judging from the ATF's recent track record, nearly all of the guns will be retrieved.
According to a 2016 report from the Justice Department's inspector general that looked at a sample of 125 delayed denials from 2008 through 2014, the ATF recovered weapons in 116 cases. In two cases, the gun owners already had resold the weapons, and in one case "the matter was referred to local authorities after the subject was arrested by them on unrelated charges." In five cases, "the subjects could not be located," and in one case "the ATF office explained that due to competing priorities it did not have the resources to retrieve the firearm." In other words, the illegal gun owners were disarmed 95 percent of the time. But the public safety benefit of those efforts is debatable, because the reasons people are forbidden to own guns often have little or nothing to do with the threat they pose.
A 2004 report from the DOJ inspector general noted that there were often delays in retrieving weapons from prohibited buyers, partly because "ATF special agents did not consider most of the prohibited persons who had obtained guns to be dangerous and therefore did not consider it a priority to retrieve the firearm promptly." It's no wonder, given the factors that make people ineligible to own guns, which include any felony record, whether or not the crime involved violence and regardless of how long ago it was committed; a history of forcible psychiatric treatment, whether or not the buyer was deemed a threat to others and regardless of how much time has elapsed; living in the United States without the government's permission, which has nothing to do with violent tendencies; and federally prohibited use of a controlled substance, even when it is allowed by state law.
The 2004 report noted that gun buyers who fail background checks before completing their purchases are rarely prosecuted, even though all of them, on the face of it, have committed felonies by making false statements on the ATF form they filled out while trying to buy a firearm. The FBI blocked 122,000 gun sales in 2002 and 2003, which represented 0.7 percent of background checks. Only 154 of the would-be gun owners?0.1 percent?were prosecuted. According to the 2016 report, prosecution rates in more recent years have been even lower. "These cases lack 'jury appeal' for various reasons," the 2004 report noted. One of those reasons: "The factors prohibiting someone from possessing a firearm may have been nonviolent or committed many years ago."
If most people who are forbidden to own guns by federal law do not strike ATF agents or jurors as dangerous, maybe there is something wrong with the law. The scandal is not lackadaisical ATF agents, negligent prosecutors, or apathetic jurors; it is the casual ease with which the government deprives people of the fundamental right to armed self-defense.
Thankfully, one of the biggest scams in the American tax code is finally under attack in the House version of Republican tax reform.
It's the mortgage-interest deduction, which currently lets homeowners deduct interest paid on mortgages of up to $1 million for two houses. Ever since owning a home has been a central tenet of the American Dream since the end of World War II and the rise of suburbia, it's been a given that deducting mortgage interest from your taxes is as American as apple pie.
The House plan would limit filers to deducting interest on the first $500,000 of a mortgage on just one house, sending a blind panic through wealthy home owners, realtors, and the building trades, all of whom are terrified that a government subsidy is being yanked away from them.
View this article.
The biggest monopolies are government.
A. Barton Hinkle writes:
"America Has a Monopoly Problem?and It's Huge," ran a headline in The Nation recently. The piece by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz lamented that "If we don't like our internet company or our cable TV we either have no place to turn, or the alternative is no better."
If you spend any time with left-of-center commentary these days (and everyone should?especially people on the right), you'll find this is a common theme of late. The New Republic writes about "How Democrats Can Wage a War on Monopolies?and Win." In The Week, Jeff Spross tells us "What Beer Reveals About Monopoly Power." (Cliff's Notes version: nothing good!) At The Huffington Post, Zach Carter and Paul Blumenthal consider the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner "intolerable... No single entity should have that much power."
In recent months Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) has warned repeatedly about how "a handful of corporations" have "seized power in this country" through economic consolidation. Her colleague Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) wants to know "How did big tech come to control so many aspects of our lives?"
View this article.
A federal judge in California recently declared President Donald Trump's executive order denying federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities to be unconstitutional. According to the opinion of U.S. District Judge William Orrick in Santa Clara v. Trump, and the related case of San Francisco v. Trump, the president's order violates multiple constitutional strictures, including the 10th Amendment and the separation of powers.
In a new op-ed for The Orange County Register, I explain why the judge got it right. Trump's executive order clearly violates the Constitution in several ways. Here's a portion of my argument:
The Trump administration may not want to hear it, but sanctuary cities are protected by both the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent. For starters, as the late Justice Antonin Scalia explained in Printz v. United States (1997), "the Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States' officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program."
In other words, Trump's executive order flunks the 10th Amendment test that Scalia spelled out in Printz. State and local officials have every right to refuse to enforce federal immigration laws?.
Trump's executive order [also] flunks the text of the Constitution itself, which, as Judge Orrick points out, "vests the spending powers in Congress, not the President."
Open your copy of the Constitution. You will find that the federal spending power is located in Article I, Section 8, which deals with the limited and enumerated powers of Congress. The limited and enumerated powers of the president are spelled out in Article II.
What this means is that Trump's executive order on sanctuary cities seeks to usurp a core congressional function. That makes it an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers.
Read the whole thing here.
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