Commentary

Screw the way things are, I want out

December 22, 2016
posted by

Paul Rosenberg Freeman's Perspective
by Paul Rosenberg  

"Everywhere I turn, some kind of ruler, sub-ruler, enforcer, regulator, or 'right-thinking' quasi-enforcer demands not only my money but also for me to make myself easy to punish, thus showing myself to be a good subservient. That's not just wrong; it's a disease. I don't care whether such people are 'following orders,' 'just doing their job,' or whatever else they tell themselves to soothe their rightly troubled souls. That mode of living is perverse, and these people are enforcing a disease. Let me make this part very clear: The desire to control others is disease; it is corruption. Willing controllers are a morally inferior class. And the truly deranged thing is that these people rule the world!" (12/21/16)

http://www.freemansperspective.com/screw-way-things-want/  

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Capital punishment: Can we cut it out already?

December 22, 2016
posted by

Thomas L Knapp -- photo by Avens O'Brien William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism
by Thomas L Knapp  

"I'm not saying that there aren't crimes worthy of death. In fact, I heartily support the killing of violent criminals in defense of self or others at the scene of the crime. But once a criminal has been apprehended, disarmed and caged, killing him or her isn't self-defense any more. Execution is just the gratuitous, vengeful taking of a human life for public show. And no matter how much lipstick the practice's supporters put on the pig to try and turn it into something else, that's all it will ever be. Capital punishment is also completely incompatible with the notions of 'limited government' that most libertarians and some conservatives claim to support, not to mention the basic civil liberties that both libertarians and liberals publicly sustain." (12/21/16)

http://thegarrisoncenter.org/archives/8824  

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Hollywood does Orwell

December 22, 2016
posted by

Debra J. Saunders Town Hall
by Debra J Saunders  

"When you see videos of Hollywood celebrities -- like the latest with Martin Sheen, Debra Messing and Bob Odenkirk -- earnestly telling Americans how to live up to their brand of liberal politics by rejecting the GOP, the first question you have to ask yourself is: Why? I still ask myself that after watching the latest pitch under the Orwellian hashtags #UniteForAmerica (the ad hoc group's disingenuous name) and #SupportTheElectors. A montage of stars sotto voce urges 'Republican members of the Electoral College' to vote their conscience -- that is, against their own fellow citizens' considered election choice." (12/18/16)

http://townhall.com/columnists/debrajsaunders/2016/12/18/hollywood-does-orwell-n2261066  

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Religious liberty under fire in Culpepper

December 22, 2016
posted by

A. Barton Hinkle Reason
by A Barton Hinkle  

"Spend any time surfing conservative websites and you cannot help being impressed by the degree to which they seem to care about religious liberty. One day they are defending nuns from birth control mandates; another, they are sticking up for businesses that don't want to endorse gay pride or gay marriage. So you would think they would be outraged that Culpeper, Va., has denied a permit that would let a small group of the faithful build a house of worship. On that score, unfortunately, you would be wrong. Conservative organs such as National Review, The Daily Caller and The Daily Signal have published scads of commentaries about Hobby Lobby, the Little Sisters of the Poor, wedding-cake makers and so on. But they have not said word one about the Islamic Center of Culpeper (ICC)." (12/21/16)

http://reason.com/archives/2016/12/21/religious-liberty-under-fire-in-culpeppe  

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Congress just punched a big hole in ObamaCare

December 22, 2016
posted by

John R. Graham Independent Institute
by John R Graham  

"President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act on December 13. Promoted as a pro-innovation bill, the new law will improve the Food and Drug Administration's regulatory processes; as well as fund Vice-President Biden's Cancer Moonshot, the National Institutes of Health, and steps to reduce the opioid epidemic. However, the final version of the bill also included an important payment reform: Significantly expanding the use of Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) by small businesses." (12/21/16)

http://blog.independent.org/2016/12/21/congress-just-punched-a-big-hole-in-obamacare/  

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Public infrastructure as stealth privatization

December 22, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Donald Cohen  

"Donald Trump hasn’t released an infrastructure plan but has given a good sense of the direction his administration will take. His proposal will likely use giant tax breaks to spur a massive increase in private control of public infrastructure in what David Dayen called a 'privatization fire sale.' Trump will be able to say the plan will both mean no new taxes and guaranteed profits for investors for decades. It’s too good to be true. There’s no doubt America needs a massive infrastructure upgrade. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates nearly $4 trillion in needs including decades of deferred maintenance of our drinking and waste water systems, our roads and bridges and more, as well as new infrastructure such as light rail and broadband communications needed respond to 21st century challenges and opportunities." [editor's note: Were it actual privatization and not crony-corp cartelism, this would not be a bad thing - SAT] (12/21/16)

http://prospect.org/article/public-infrastructure-stealth-privatization  

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The six mysterious elves of the commercial marketplace

December 22, 2016
posted by

Jeffrey Tucker Foundation for Economic Education
by Jeffrey Tucker  

"One reason that the Brothers Grimm fairy tales have such appeal -- more so than the folklore that came before -- is that they deal with a world that is familiar to us, a world that was just being invented in the early 19th century, when these stories were first printed and circulated. They deal with people, scenes and events that affect what we call the middle class today, or the bourgeoisie. This was the world that serves as the backdrop to the tales of the Brothers Grimm." (12/21/16)

https://fee.org/articles/the-six-mysterious-elves-of-the-commercial-marketplace/  

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Chicago Teachers Union prefers money over students reading books from the library

December 22, 2016
posted by

Heartland Institute Heartland Institute
by Lennie Jarratt  

"Budget cuts continue to affect students, parents, and school staff in Chicago Public Schools. This time the librarian at Pritzker Elementary in Wicker Park was handed the pink slip. To keep the library open for more than 700 students, parents of Pritzker schoolchildren volunteered to operate the checkout process. However, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) objected to the parent volunteers, thus, keeping the library closed. The message this sends is simple: only those paying union dues can work in the school library. This is not the first time CTU has chosen what is best for the union over what is best for the students." (12/21/16)

http://blog.heartland.org/2016/12/chicago-teachers-union-prefers-money-over-students-reading-books-from-the-library/  

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Will Guantanamo Bay’s prison ever close?

December 22, 2016
posted by

The Atlantic The Atlantic
by Priscilla Alvarez  

"In his final State of the Union address this year, President Obama repeated his call to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 'I will keep working to shut down the prison at Guantanamo. It is expensive, it is unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies,' he said. But as Obama's presidency comes to its end, he has fallen short of that goal. ... Obama has repeatedly pushed plans to close the prison, without much success. This year, he sent a plan to Congress outlining where the remaining detainees could be transferred. He argued that keeping the prison in operation 'is contrary to our values.' Congressional Republicans quickly denounced the effort." (12/21/16)

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/12/obama-guantanamo-bay/511349/  

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The growing movement for marijuana amnesty

December 22, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Megan Carpentier  

"With an estimated $7 billion in sales in 2016 and potentially exponential growth due to recent ballot initiatives on recreational use, the legal marijuana industry has a lot of businesses seeing green. But as is so often the case in this country, there’s a darker side to this story and it splinters on the lines of race. For decades, the war on drugs has disproportionately targeted black and brown users for arrest and incarceration, and legalization efforts have until recently not addressed what happens to people who have been put in prison for possessing a substance that voters have since opted to make legal. The American Civil Liberties Union found in a 2013 report that, between 2001 and 2010, 88 percent of marijuana arrests were for possession, as opposed to intent to distribute. These arrests accounted for 46 percent of all drug arrests in the United States at that time. And though studies suggest that African-Americans and whites use marijuana at similar rates, African-Americans were nearly four times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana crime." (12/21/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/139443/growing-movement-marijuana-amnesty  

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High tax slows Bitcoin development in Norway

December 22, 2016
posted by

Bitcoin.com
by Elizabeth McCauley  

"Norway is such a beautiful country and has been named a top summer tourist destination for those in search of picturesque mountains, fjords, and glaciers. But how is the Bitcoin scene fairing in this small Scandinavian country rich in natural resources and warm at heart?"

https://news.bitcoin.com/high-tax-slows-bitcoin-development-in-norway/  

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Do you support our opposition to John Bolton for Assistant Secretary of State?

December 21, 2016
posted by

Downsize DC Downsize DC
by Perry Willis and Jim Babka  

"We've never opposed a presidential nomination to an Executive Branch position. Objecting to individuals (as opposed to ideas and proposals) has always smacked of high school politics to us. We didn't want to join partisan frays. But we were wrong because ... Personnel is policy ... The people a President hires to execute policy may actually have more control over that policy than the President himself does. If true, then it's folly to remain silent about appointments." (12/21/16)

https://downsizedc.org/blog/opposition-john-bolton-assist-sec-state  

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Many unseen — but very real — fellow citizens

December 21, 2016
posted by

Don Boudreaux Cafe Hayek
by Don Boudreaux  

"Nothing that you say to someone who loses his or her job to changing market conditions is likely to satisfy that person. The personal almost always trumps the abstract. The seen hides the unseen. The proximate overwhelms the distant. The present is real while the future is still to be created. This reality, however, does not diminish the importance of defending free trade honestly, unconditionally, and without apology." (12/20/16)

http://cafehayek.com/2016/12/many-unseen-but-very-real-fellow-citizens.html  

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Yes, 2016 was bad, but next year could be worse

December 21, 2016
posted by

Reuters
by Peter Apps  

"The killing of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey on Monday evening might have prompted knee-jerk comparisons to the 1914 assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, but it almost certainly won’t spark a World War One-type conflict. The lethal truck attack that killed 12 in Berlin a few hours later, however, could ratchet up the prospect of yet another political shock in Europe. 2016 looks set to keep throwing out unexpected, often brutal surprises right to its end. If 1989 (the year the Berlin wall fell) was the point at which globalization, liberal democracy and the Western view of modernity was seen to triumph, the year now concluding might yet be seen as when the wheels came off. That may be a dramatic overstatement. However, the electoral surprises of the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump (as well as dozens of other examples across the globe) are stark reminders of just how much consensus has unraveled. The next year could see a step back towards moderation. But it could equally see things spiral further out of control." (12/21/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-apps-2016-commentary-idUSKBN14A1K0  

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Baker’s Dozen (TM) things that government fears

December 21, 2016
posted by

The Price of Liberty
by Nathan Barton  

"Truth is not just the first casualty in war, but in politics and the legislative and bureaucratic process. Government assumes (usually rightly) that if the truth gets out about it, its activities, its motives, and its results, that people will turn against it." (12/21/16)

http://www.thepriceofliberty.org/?p=10377  

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Don’t make Facebook the Ministry of Truth

December 21, 2016
posted by

spiked spiked
by Naomi Firsht  

"The assumption underpinning the fake-news panic is that ordinary people are too stupid to work out what is real and what is not. The suggestion that the millions of Americans who voted for Trump did so as a result of being duped by fake-news stories is ridiculous and insulting. Moreover, the idea that Facebook, inventor of the cyber poke, will now be the gatekeeper of all that is true, guiding their poor, low-information users through the internet's maze of lies, is risible. The internet has created a free flow of information that allows ordinary people to access, quickly and easily, multiple news sources. Imposing limits to this freedom would be a step backwards. Zuckerberg should have stuck to his guns the first time round. We do not need a ministry of truth." (12/21/16)

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/dont-make-facebook-the-ministry-of-truth-fake-news/  

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State services will always be a crappy deal

December 21, 2016
posted by

Larken Rose Everything Voluntary
by Larken Rose  

"When some private company wants to get your money, it has to produce something -- like goods or services -- that you would freely choose to buy. So they both have to: 1) produce something you want; and 2) sell it at a price you're willing to pay for it. Since you don't have to deal with them at all, the pressure is all on them to produce better stuff for a lower price, so you will choose to take the deal. And because other companies compete with them, that puts even more pressure on them to make better stuff and charge less for it. Now compare that to 'government' 'services.' Let's use the example of the crappy indoctrination camps called 'public schools.'" (12/21/16)

http://everything-voluntary.com/always-crappy-deal  

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Death in Ankara

December 21, 2016
posted by

Justin Raimondo Antiwar.com
by Justin Raimondo  

"If you think the assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, the same day terrorist attack in Berlin, and the announcement the next day of an agreement by Russia, Turkey, and Iran to end the Syrian civil war are all a monumental coincidence, then you haven't been paying attention." (12/21/16)

http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2016/12/20/death-in-istanbul/  

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Title IX: “Bureaucratic sex creep” gone wild

December 21, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Glenn Harlan Reynolds  

"If you want to see how the federal bureaucracy can mess things up, and create huge new areas of overburdening regulation, just look at what it has done with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX simply reads: 'No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.' That’s all. But from this small, simple statement (there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex) has been created a regulatory Tower of Babel governing sports teams, student discipline and even, and most dubiously, sexual consent." (12/20/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/12/19/title-ix-federal-bureacracy-campuses-glenn-reynolds-column/95585446  

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Is civilian control of the military in jeopardy?

December 21, 2016
posted by

Kelley B Vlahos The American Conservative
by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos  

"One could argue that many elements of the movie's [Seven Days in May] plot are present today: a military infrastructure bred and fed on decades of war is suddenly threatened by a peacetime posture, defense cuts, and a deal with a rival power that's unpopular with many in the ranks. In the movie, one general, played forbiddingly by Burt Lancaster, believes it is his duty to right the wrongs of the civilian leadership (a peace deal with the Russians) and, thanks to the size and autonomy lavished upon the post-WWII military-industrial complex, can marshal the makings of an elaborate coup right under the noses of official Washington. Getting from real-world Trump to celluloid Seven Days is, of course, a fun exercise in hyperbole. But critics say that movies like that exist for a reason -- the nation was founded on the healthy fear that unbalanced power in the hands of the military could eventually lead to dictatorship, that the military as an institution is not wired for democratic policymaking, governing, or statecraft. Its coding, rather, is to defend, deter, or kill." (12/21/16)

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/is-civilian-control-of-the-military-in-jeopardy/  

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John Deere really doesn’t want you to own that tractor

December 21, 2016
posted by

Electronic Frontier Foundation Electronic Frontier Foundation
by Kit Walsh  

"John Deere is at it again, trying to strip customers of the right to open up and repair their own property. In the new License Agreement for John Deere Embedded Software, customers are forbidden to exercise their repair rights or to even look at the software running the tractor or the signals it generates. ... The new License Agreement is John Deere's attempt to write its own private law. It's perfectly legal under copyright law to repair your own equipment, reverse engineer its software, and tinker with it to meet your needs. But where your rights interfere with manufacturers' ability to extract the most possible value from you, documents like the License Agreement are the go-to method for them to make your rights disappear." (12/20/16)

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/12/john-deere-really-doesnt-want-you-own-tractor  

1 Comment »

Hydrocarbon elites post-Trump

December 21, 2016
posted by

Niskanen Center
by Dennis McConaghy  

"The elites of the hydrocarbon industry, including ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron, have endorsed carbon pricing -- or planned for its promulgation -- as the world seeks to reduce the risks from climate change. With the incoming Trump administration, which strongly proclaims its intent to be a friend to the energy extraction business, the time is right for the hydrocarbon elites to put their notional support into practice. For all of their publicly stated support, hydrocarbon elites have been slow to demonstrate to policymakers what they think carbon pricing ought to look like -- in the United States, or elsewhere." (12/21/16)

https://niskanencenter.org/blog/hydrocarbon-elites-post-trump/  

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Whack the bob

December 21, 2016
posted by

Paul Jacob Common Sense
by Paul Jacob  

[T]he dominant progressive-left paradigm has proven itself incapable of dealing with the challenges of the present age -- most being caused by their own policies. Worse yet, those on the vanguard left have become moral scolds and petty language tyrants. Yes, political correctness is one of the big offenders, here. So, of course there's a backlash. But, turnabout being fair play, if the move to the 'right' goes too far -- as it probably will -- we can expect another swing leftward. Isn't it time to give that pendulum bob a whack, to initiate something like an equilibrium position? Many of today's problems are caused by partisans trying to force their kind of change down others' throats. There is an alternative: limit government, setting it to just a few tasks, letting society evolve naturally, without forced central planning." (12/21/16)

http://thisiscommonsense.com/2016/12/21/whack-the-bob/  

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Waging class war in comfort

December 21, 2016
posted by

Sam Pizzigati Our Future
by Sam Pizzigati  

"In a typical corporate board of directors meeting, what do CEOs see when they look out across their richly lacquered boardroom tables? They see . . . lots of other CEOs. That’s no accident. CEOs today purposely pack their corporate boards with their pals, who often turn out to be current or former chiefs at other corporations. Everybody who’s anybody just feels more comfortable that way. The most powerful corporate executive in 1950s America, GM's Charlie Wilson, served as defense secretary and paid three-quarters of his income in taxes. The most powerful corporate executive in 1950s America, GM’s Charlie Wilson, served as U.S. secretary of defense -- and paid three-quarters of his income in taxes. President-elect Donald Trump, a big-time business chief himself, certainly seems to want to feel comfortable, too. No other President-elect has ever packed his cabinet with more business bigwigs." [editor's note: Although there are also a lot of Congressthugs in that list, at least some of the corporati chosen might be seen as tough overseers of their departments, who know how to make things run effectively, cut costs ... Just sayin' - SAT] (12/19/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20161219/waging-class-war-in-comfort  

1 Comment »

Progressives: Stop blaming the Russians

December 21, 2016
posted by

CounterPunch CounterPunch
by Norman Solomon  

"Zeal to blame Russia for a bad election outcome has spread like contagion among countless self-described progressives, understandably appalled by the imminent Trump presidency. But those who think they're riding a helpful tiger could find themselves devoured later on. If civil liberties instead of repression and diplomacy instead of war are progressive values, then all too many progressives -- eager to tar Trump as a Kremlin product -- have been undermining those values. Already, from witch-hunt legislation in Congress to pernicious media blacklisting, the anti-Russia hysteria -- being fueled by the high octane election-intervention storyline -- has gained enormous momentum." (12/21/16)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/21/progressives-stop-blaming-the-russians/  

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