Rational Review News Digest

News


| Commentary |

OH: Federal judge rejects school district plea to let pervy educrats feel up student

"A federal district judge has rejected the Highland Local School District's challenge to the Obama Administration's rule on transgender restrooms. Judge Algenon Marbley ordered the Morrow County district to treat an 11-year-old student who is biologically male [sic] but identifies as female 'as the girl she is.'" (09/27/16)


-----

TN: No UT penalty for prof who tweeted “run ’em down”

"The University of Tennessee will take no disciplinary action against one of its law professors who urged motorists to run over demonstrators blocking traffic in Charlotte, N.C., a dean said Tuesday. Glenn Reynolds is also a USA TODAY and Knoxville News Sentinel columnist. 'The tweet was an exercise of his First Amendment rights,' Dean Melanie D. Wilson of the University of Tennessee's College of Law wrote Tuesday in a post on the law school's website. 'Nevertheless, the tweet offended many members of our community and beyond, and I understand the hurt and frustration they feel.'" [editor's note: Regular readers here may have noticed he's one of my "go to guys" for USA Today commentaries; even whe he's off-base he's still persuasive and intelligent - SAT] (09/27/16)


-----

NY: Utilities can’t charge termination fees after death

"Phone, cable and utility companies in New York may no longer charge early termination fees when service has been discontinued due to the death of a customer. The rule was signed into law Tuesday by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said the practice of charging fees to deceased customers was 'heartless and inappropriate' and created burdens for those settling their loved ones' affairs. Few statistics are available about how often companies took such action, but Democratic Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, who sponsored the legislation, says a utility tried to charge her mother an early termination fee after she died." (09/27/16)


-----

Elon Musk outlines Mars colony vision

"Entrepreneur Elon Musk has outlined his vision for establishing a human colony on Mars for people that can afford a $200,000 ticket price. Mr Musk, who founded private spaceflight company SpaceX, was speaking at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Tuesday. His colonisation plan uses a fully reusable transportation system that would take 100 people and 80-days to get to Mars and eventually as little as 30-days. This transportation system consists of a spaceship that is refuelled with methane and oxygen in Earth orbit and also on Mars after landing there. Mr Musk explained that to achieve the $200,000 price, the entire transportation system has to be reusable." (09/27/16)


-----

“Killer clown” sightings spread to Florida, Virginia, Colorado

"Reports of 'killer clowns' have emerged in three new states, as Virginia, Florida and Colorado struggle with Internet rumors and reported sightings that have left several towns shaken. Residents and authorities in Palm Bay, Fla., have been on high alert since a resident reported seeing two 'creepy clowns' staring at her from across a road as she walked her dog. And in Marion County, Fla., deputies are concerned after it emerged that a Facebook viral video, depicting a clown standing silently on the side of the road in the dark, had been filmed along a main thoroughfare in the area." (09/27/16)


-----

FL: Orlando nightclub massacre victims’ estates to get $350,000 each

"Each of the estates of the 49 patrons killed in the gay nightclub massacre in Orlando will receive $350,000 from donations raised for the victims, an official with the OneOrlando Fund said Tuesday. But at least half of the deceased patrons have family members or partners who are fighting over claims as money from the fund is being distributed this week for victims of the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history. 'We do have a number of disputes amongst families of the dead,' said Alex Martins, chair of the OneOrlando board and also president of the Orlando Magic basketball team. 'It's parents in dispute with a partner, who perhaps they didn't know, or it's estranged parents, claiming each one of them should receive the funds.' No funds will be distributed on those claims until the disputes are resolved, and if they aren't resolved soon, the claims will be sent to probate court to sort out who receives the money, Martins said." (09/27/16)


-----

Feds push back on states targeting Planned Parenthood’s corporate welfare

"The Obama administration has proposed barring states and other recipients of federal family planning grants from placing their own eligibility restrictions on where the money can go, which would undermine efforts of 13 Republican-led states to prevent such money from going to Planned Parenthood. The Department of Health and Human Services is accepting public comments about the proposed changes to the Title X grant program until Oct. 7. It contends these state restrictions have hurt the quality and geographic availability of family planning services to the poor families that Title X is intended to reach." (09/27/16)


-----

Panama: Regime asks US to extradite ex-leader Martinelli

"Panama has formally asked the United States to extradite former President Ricardo Martinelli in connection with a phone-tapping controversy, the country's foreign ministry said Tuesday. The case involves allegations that the phones of dozens of business, opposition and labor leaders were tapped by Martinelli's 2009-2014 government." (09/27/16)


-----

Kratom ban may cripple promising painkiller research

"Although the kratom compounds have yet to be clinically studied in humans, Andrew Kruegel, a pharmacologist at Columbia ... says the results hold promise for better designer painkillers. ... The DEA plans to place kratom and its psychoactive ingredients in the agency's most restricted controlled substance category, Schedule I, on September 30 at the earliest. That would place it in the same group as heroin, ecstasy and marijuana. All Schedule I drugs are supposed to have a high potential for abuse and harm, and to have no medical use. Scientists can obtain a license to study Schedule I drugs but they are hard to acquire and significantly slow down research, says Chris McCurdy, a kratom researcher at the University of Mississippi." (09/27/16)


-----

WA: Taking Trump for a ride in HOV lane costs driver $136 in bribes

"As traffic violations go, this one was yuuuuuge. A Washington state trooper ticketed a single driver trying to get through the carpool lane with a giant cut-out of Donald Trump's head on Tuesday morning. 'You see a lot of things in your career, including mannequins, but this was something else,' said Trooper Rick Johnson, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol." (09/27/16)


-----

Evil Peter Thiel’s evil regime contractor snoop firm accused of discriminating against Asian job applicants

"The US Department of Labor sued data miner Palantir for discriminating against Asian job applicants for software engineering positions, the government said Monday. ... The Department of Labor filed the suit after reviewing applicant data Palantir is required to keep as a government contractor, said Rose Darling, an attorney involved in the lawsuit for the government. The government discovered Asian applicants fell out of consideration at a high rate after conducting a statistical analysis of the data." (09/27/16)


-----

Iran: Regime releases Canadian-Iranian professor held since June

"A Canadian-Iranian retired professor was released from prison on 'humanitarian grounds' and flown out of Iran on Monday, Iran’s state-run news agency said, ending her months of detention alongside other dual nationals swept up by hard-liners in the security services. Homa Hoodfar was flown to the Persian Gulf nation of Oman, the brief report from the IRNA news agency said. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hailed her release in a statement, thanking Italy, Switzerland and Oman for their help in the matter." (09/26/16)


-----

US likely to fall short of emissions goal

"Unless we [sic] do more, the U.S. will likely miss the emissions target aimed for in the landmark Paris Climate Agreement last year, says a new study released Monday. Cutting the emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane from power plants and other sources is key to reducing the impacts of man-made climate change. Even if all current and proposed emission reduction plans are enacted, the U.S. will still fall short by anywhere from 300 million to as many as 1.5 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, the study found." (09/26/16)


-----

FL: Kaine cries crocodile tears at site of massacre made possible by policies he supports

"Hillary Clinton's running mate Tim Kaine made an emotional visit to the Pulse nightclub, the site of the Orlando massacre, Monday along with former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was gravely injured in a 2011 shooting. ... As the visit ended, a visibly emotional Kaine walked up to reporters. He cried as he whispered into the camera. 'This is a weird thing to say but I always hoped that the Virginia Tech one would be the worst one ever ... as bad as that was, I hoped that nothing would ever eclipse it but, such as life we got work to do so,' said an emotional Kaine." (09/26/16)


-----

Germany: Regime orders Facebook to stop collecting data on WhatsApp users

"Facebook has been ordered to stop collecting and storing data on WhatsApp users in Germany, marking the first regulatory challenge to a controversial data-sharing scheme that the social media company announced in August. In a statement published Tuesday, Germany's privacy watchdog said that sharing WhatsApp user data with Facebook, the messaging app's parent company, constitutes 'an infringement of national data protection law.' The regulatory body also ordered Facebook to delete all data that has already been transferred from WhatsApp." (09/27/16)


-----

Iraq: Blasts kill at least 17 in Baghdad

"Three blasts killed at least 17 people and wounded more than 50 in predominantly Shi'ite Muslim districts of Baghdad on Tuesday, police and medical sources said. A suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest in a commercial street in the eastern Baghdad al-Jadida area of the Iraqi capital, killing nine people and wounding more than 30, they said. Another suicide attack hit a commercial street of Bayaa in western Baghdad, killing six and wounding 22, the sources added. A roadside bomb exploded near a gathering of cattle herders and merchants in al-Radhwaniya, also in western Baghdad, killing two people, they said." (09/27/16)


-----

Germany: Police say mosque, congress center attacked in Dresden

"Two homemade explosive devices were set off outside a mosque and a conference center in the eastern German city of Dresden, police said Tuesday. Nobody was hurt. Dresden police said in a statement that there was no immediate report on the extent of damage from the explosions late Monday. 'Even though we do not have a letter of confession, we must assume there's a xenophobic background,' Police President Horst Kretschmar said." (09/27/16)


-----

Carter pledges $108 billion to refurbish nuclear boondoggles

"Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday the Pentagon is committed to correcting decades of short-changing its nuclear force, including forging ahead with building a new generation of weapons that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming decades. In his first nuclear-focused speech since taking over the Pentagon in February 2015, Carter implicitly rejected arguments for eliminating any element of the nuclear force or scaling back a modernization plan that some consider too costly." (09/27/16)


-----

TX: Houston shooter wore Nazi emblems, drove a Porsche, carried 2,600 rounds of ammo, police say

"An attorney who injured nine people in a shooting spree in Houston on Monday was wearing military clothes and Nazi emblems during the attack, and was carrying nearly 2,600 rounds of ammunition inside a Porsche convertible parked at the scene, authorities said. The gunman, identified by local media as Nathan DeSai, 46, was shot and killed by police after he opened fire on morning commuters near a strip mall in a mostly residential neighborhood west of downtown." (09/27/16)


-----

CA: Man sentenced to 30 years in prison for thinking/talking about joining unapproved organization

"A 25-year-old California man will spend the next three decades in prison for trying to join ISIS -- and his bloodthirsty co-defendant is up next. Nader Elhuzayel, of Anaheim, was sentenced to 30 years in prison Monday for conspiring to aid a foreign terrorist organization. U.S. District Judge David Carter noted Elhuzayel's repeated mention of martyrdom makes him 'especially dangerous.' 'There’s no remorse, no repudiation of ISIL, only death and destruction,' Carter said. ... Elhuzayel was convicted in June together with Muhanad Badawi. The two wannabe terrorists plotted to travel to Syria where they were hoping to become martyrs." (09/27/16)


-----

Iran: Ahmadinejad won’t seek to return to presidency

"An adviser to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's former hard-line president, says the politician won't seek re-election [sic] in next year's presidential vote after apparently being discouraged by the country's supreme leader. Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency quoted Ali Akbar Javanfekr on Tuesday as saying Ahmadinejad sent a letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei saying he wouldn't seek the presidency again." (09/27/16)


-----

Clinton, Trump meet for first joint campaign commercial

[editor's note: Instead of a story about the so-called "debate," here's the full transcript - TLK] (09/27/16)


-----

Spain: Regional elections boost Rajoy but political deadlock unlikely to end

"The results of regional elections in Galicia and the Basque country look unlikely to yield a solution to the political paralysis that has left Spain in the hands of a caretaker government for the past nine months. But Sunday's polls have bolstered the position of the acting prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, after his People's party (PP) cruised to an absolute majority in his home region of Galicia. They have also inflicted severe damage on Pedro Sanchez, the leader of the socialist PSOE party, whom many blame for the enduring deadlock that has beset Spain following two inconclusive general elections." (09/26/16)


-----

Hacker who leaked US military “kill list” for Islamic State sent behind bars

"An ISIS supporter who hit the headlines after breaking into computer systems in order to steal and leak the details of military personnel has been awarded a sentence of 20 years in prison for his crimes. Ardit Ferizi, also known as 'Th3Dir3ctorY,' was charged at the Eastern District of Virginia court by US District Judge Leonie Brinkema last week, according to the US Department of Justice (DoJ). ... Ferizi, who once lived in Malaysia, was arrested by local police on a provision arrest warrant on behalf of US law enforcement and later pleaded guilty to all charges." (09/26/16)


-----

Obama used a pseudonym in emails with Clinton, FBI documents reveal

"President Barack Obama used a pseudonym in email communications with Hillary Clinton and others, according to FBI records made public Friday. The disclosure came as the FBI released its second batch of documents from its investigation into Clinton’s private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. ... It's been known since last year that Obama and Clinton corresponded occasionally via her private account, but the White House has insisted Obama did not know she relied on it routinely and exclusively for official business." (09/24/16)


-----


Commentary


| News |

Enhance prosperity and improve health: Slash regulations, please

"Productivity and economic growth continue to surprise on the downside in most countries. While there is a great deal of handwringing over the so-called productivity puzzle, little attention is given to the real elixir: freer markets and more competition. Indeed, the policy tide is moving in the opposite direction in most places. To get a grip on the productivity puzzle, let's lift a page from the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who once said, 'You're entitled to your own opinions, but you're not entitled to your own facts.' Yes. There is nothing better than a hard look at empirical evidence to see if it supports those who espouse freer markets or those who embrace the regulatory state as models." [editor's note: The idea that Moynihan is the one who said that is an opinion - TLK] (for publication 10/16)


-----

What the candidates didn’t say about nukes

"This year's presidential campaign has featured relatively little detailed discussion of nuclear policy. That changed (a little) in Monday night's debate. The final segment of the Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump debate, vaguely titled 'Securing America,' focused in significant part on the nuclear threat. The discussion -- directed largely by the candidates themselves -- was substantive. And because both candidates have political reasons to continue to address the existential threat of nuclear weapons, the debate could serve as a much-needed starting point for elaborating on the topic during the remaining two presidential debates. Monday’s nuclear discussion grew out of a question about cyber security that gradually morphed into arguments about the best ways to combat Islamic State. Clinton suggested that to protect the American people from terrorism, the United States needed an 'intelligence surge' that required cooperation with U.S. allies." (09/27/16)


-----

Going to hell in an alt-right handbasket of deplorables

"During this 2016 Presidential Election cycle, perhaps the most entertaining spectacle since Ross Perot popped up on the scene in 1992 with his universal political cure-all sideshow of 'Just open the hood and fix it' the phrase Alt-Right, short for 'the Alternative Right' was dredged up from the bowels of the SPLC by the Hillary Clinton Campaign when she flung her 'Basket of Deplorables' into mainstream America’s face like a caged monkey flinging its own feces at zoo-goers." (09/27/16)


-----

One solution to the EpiPen crisis: Repeal Durham-Humphrey

"The Durham-Humphrey Amendment gave the federal government (via the Food and Drug Administration) the power to decide whether a drug is available only by prescription or over-the-counter (OTC). The law passed in 1951, half a century after the FDA was instituted. Even if you believe Congress should keep drugs off the market until the FDA has proven their 'safety and efficacy' (which I do not), that does not necessarily imply the FDA should decide whether the drug should be prescribed or dispensed OTC. The Durham-Humphrey Amendment was passed to increase control over the distribution of amphetamines, but it quickly metastasized to a general federal control over prescribing." (09/27/16)


-----

“Favors” to blacks

"Back in the 1960s, as large numbers of black students were entering a certain Ivy League university for the first time, someone asked a chemistry professor -- off the record -- what his response to them was. He said, 'I give them all A's and B's. To hell with them.' Since many of those students were admitted with lower academic qualifications than other students, he knew that honest grades in a tough subject like chemistry could lead to lots of failing grades, and that in turn would lead to lots of time-wasting hassles -- not just from the students, but also from the administration. He was not about to waste time that he wanted to invest in his professional work in chemistry and the advancement of his own career. He also knew that his 'favor' to black students in grading was going to do them more harm than good in the long run, because they wouldn't know what they were supposed to know. Such cynical calculations were seldom expressed in so many words. Nor are similar cynical calculations openly expressed today in politics. But many successful political careers have been built on giving blacks 'favors' that look good on the surface but do lasting damage in the long run." (09/27/16)


-----

Trump’s abdication of personal responsibility

"When Clinton quoted Trump as cheering for a housing crisis, Trump responded, 'That's called business.' When Clinton accused Trump of not paying taxes, Trump answered, 'That makes me smart.' When Clinton attacked Trump for declaring bankruptcy to avoid paying the people he owed, Trump replied, 'I take advantage of the laws of the nation because I'm running a company.' Clinton set out to paint Trump as selfish and unethical. Trump basically conceded the charge. Commentators are declaring Trump's answers a tactical mistake. But they’re more than that. They show how unmoored he is from conservatism's conception of America. Since the birth of 'fusionism' in the 1950s, America's most prominent conservative thinkers and politicians have called for both reducing government’s power over the individual and strengthening traditional morality. They've squared that circle by emphasizing personal responsibility." (09/27/16)


-----

Evil of the two lessers

"I can see now that I was a young fool in 1964, when I believed that Johnson was a peace candidate who would negotiate a settlement of the Vietnam War. He was running for president against Senator Barry Morris Goldwater (R-AZ), who claimed he would bomb Vietnam back to the Stone Age. There was no doubt in my mind which was the 'lesser evil.' Upon winning the election, of course, Johnson proceeded to bomb Vietnam back to the Stone Age. I have never forgotten this lesson about 'strategic voting,' also called the 'Evil of the Two Lessers.'" (09/27/16)


-----

In first debate, the people’s issues came second

"This was undoubtedly the first presidential debate in history to include a mention of Rosie O’Donnell. Even grading on a curve (something the press tends to do with Donald Trump) the Republican fared poorly. Democrat Hillary Clinton took him down on one character issue after another, from his tax returns to his business practices. Unfortunately, that was not her most important mission on Monday night. Clinton’s fate largely rests on her ability to turn out key Democratic voters in large numbers, especially young people and minorities, by persuading them that she understands their concerns and has an inspiring vision for the future. There was probably little Clinton could have done to change the nature of the debate, given the media feeding frenzy and the personality-driven nature of our political process. But it was unfortunate. She bested Donald Trump, but she will still need to excite and motivate the Democratic base." (09/27/16)


-----

A conspiracy theory about conspiracy theories

"One of the funny things about conspiracy theories, including false flag attacks, is how often they are proven to be true. You have to wonder how long the shame-inducing slam, 'That's a conspiracy theory,' will keep working. But that's not my point for today. Today, I want to introduce a conspiracy theory of my own, a conspiracy theory about conspiracy theories." (09/27/16)


-----

The great blessings of cash

"Paper money offers the benefits of anonymity, immediate payment, no identity theft, and no transaction charges. Government also benefits by printing notes with much greater value than the cost of the paper. However, some economists argue that cash has social costs that outweigh these blessings, and advocate the reduction and eventual elimination of paper cash. ... The use of cash by the underground economy is a symptom of bad policy, and the elimination of cash treats the effects rather than the causes. The reason economic activity goes underground is that governments have prohibited economic transactions." (09/27/16)


-----

Can the IRS save ObamaCare?

"Obamacare's fourth open enrollment period will begin November 1. For the Internal Revenue Service, it will be open season on uninsured taxpayers. In an effort to maximize enrollment, the IRS is mining the personal tax information of people who have chosen not to buy Obamacare policies." (09


-----

What’s driving corporate activism?

"Target recently staked out a position in the culture wars by announcing that it will build private bathrooms in all its locations, after earlier allowing transgender customers to use whichever room corresponds with their gender identity -- both actions sparking anger from many conservatives. While big business hasn’t always been on the vanguard of social justice, in recent years companies like Target, Apple and even Wal-Mart have increasingly taken positions that put them squarely on the side of socially progressive activists. So how did Che Guevera (the face of the Cuban Revolution) become CEO of corporate America?" [editor's note: Interesting choice of image -- a cutthroat, racist, homophobic murderer being equated with crony corporatism - SAT] (09/27/16)


-----

This is not capitalism, this is economics

"The destruction of jobs is not something which defines capitalism. It's something which defines economics. Our basic starting point is that human desires and wants are unlimited. We also note that we have scarce resources with which to sate those desires and wants. Economics is about the allocation of those resources to meet them. Human labour is a scarce resource -- we therefore desire to be efficient in our allocation of it just as we wish to be efficient in our allocation of copper, energy or land." (09/27/16)


-----

Anyone, even cops, can do good things

"It seems to really befuddle the copsuckers, even though it seems very simple to me. That cops are bad, but can sometimes do good, and that people who don't buy into the cult's propaganda can recognize the good acts as good without falling for the cult." (09/27/16)


-----

Robots, automation & Universal Basic Income

"The specter of robots replacing workers is not a new one. Much has been written about how technological advances will make human labor, which requires cumbersome things like wages and health care, obsolete. But now we’re beginning to see just how robots and automation are laying the groundwork for future domination in some sectors. Now, robots are becoming more sophisticated, more autonomous, and more readily able to complete more complicated tasks once reserved for humans. Warehouses are ground zero. For years, retailers have integrated robot technology into their supply chains, but the latitude of tasks robots could complete in a complex shipping process has been limited—many warehouse robots operate on fixed tracks or in stationary positions. Now, robots are becoming more sophisticated, more autonomous, and more readily able to complete more complicated tasks once reserved for humans." (09/27/16)


-----

Who is guarding the (dictatorial) guards?

"Several years ago, Wells Fargo Bank discovered that employees had boosted sales, by opening some 2 million deposit and credit card accounts without customer knowledge or authorization. Over the next few years, the bank fired more than 5,000 employees for misconduct and reimbursed customers $2.6 million in fees that they may have incurred on the bogus accounts. Insufficient response and retribution, regulators and politicians howled. They played no role in uncovering the fraud, but they are hounding bank officials and demanding $185 million in fines." (09/27/16)


-----

Apolitical reasons to hate politics

"I hate politics. Part of the reason, to be honest, is that I'm a libertarian, and libertarian views have almost no influence in the world of politics. Libertarians don't just lose every election; policy-makers normally summarily reject our position. Libertarians don't just fail to control a major party; 'successful libertarian politician' is almost an oxymoron. But perennial defeat isn't the only reason I hate politics. On reflection, I'd loathe politics even if my policy views matched Clinton's or Trump's word-for-word." (09/27/16)


-----

The question that will decide the 2016 election

"One critique of Hillary Clinton is that she doesn’t give people a reason to vote for her: She lacks an affirmative vision. But it’s closer to the truth to say that she gives people too many reasons. ... And Donald Trump? Trump’s answers always focused around one big theme -- for example, jobs are fleeing our country -- followed by a stream of over-the-top claims. ... What emerged last night, in several rounds of such back-and-forth between Clinton and Trump, was the key question that will decide this election. It’s the same question that decided the Democratic primary over the past year. That question is this: Do you believe we need a course correction (tweaks to the system) or are we on the wrong track entirely?" [editor's note: Too bad neither of these two will address the reality of that question, slow the train and turn it around - SAT] (09/27/16)


-----

Four measures for rogue government

"Rule of thumb: don't enact today laws that, had they been obeyed by folks in the original 13 states of our union, would have prevented independence. Voters in Missouri, South Dakota, and Washington have the 'opportunity' to enact such laws this November." (09/27/16)


-----

The great debate

"Only my devotion to journalism made me watch the Clinton-Trump debate. It's not my idea of fun to observe the collision of two giant gasbags somewhere above Long Island. And, as many people have pointed out, the meaning of such events, if any, ordinarily emerges not from what actually happened but from what was spun out of it, later. So color me bored and irritated, before the thing even started. The following is what your bored and irritated correspondent thought he observed." (09/27/16)


-----

Labour’s fracking ban: Prohibiting progress

"Labour has announced that it would ban 'fracking' for shale gas if it wins power at the next General Election. The shadow environment secretary, Barry Gardiner, told the party's annual conference in Liverpool: 'Fracking locks us into an energy infrastructure that is based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to clean energy. So, today, I am announcing that a future Labour government will ban fracking.' This pretty much sums up the constituency that Labour is now appealing to: public-sector lentil-munchers who don't really like all this messy material-development malarkey. But how do they think we will keep the lights on for their beloved NHS? Do we face a future of yoghurt-knitting and homeopathy by candlelight?" (09/27/16)


-----

Feds to ban leaf used in herbal teas

"It seems preposterous that kratom, a plant that has been used for a thousand years in Thailand and Southeast Asia, a plant that is related to coffee in its genetic makeup; is now being compared to heroin and other hard drugs by the DEA. It has a history of uses by indigenous populations of Southeast Asia that goes back far longer then the DEA has been around. This is hardly surprising, however, since every year the government gains more and more control over our bodies." (09/27/16)


-----

How did we end up with such unpopular candidates?

"You hear the expression 'lesser of two evils' when people talk about how they will vote in November. Poll after poll shows a growing number of voters saying they will vote negatively -- they're against Hillary, so they'll hold their nose and vote Trump, and vice versa. It is also likely a large number of discontented voters will simply stay home on Election Day. Both candidates are among the most unpopular and least trusted in American history. One of them will end up in the White House. How did we get here? Why are the only two mainstream candidates left standing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?" (09/27/16)


-----

When watching the debates, check your principles, not your feelings

"A driver cuts you off in traffic. You experience angry feelings. Are your angry feelings a guide to behavior? Should you chase down the other drive because you feel they 'disrespected you?' Are your angry feelings a guide to behavior? Or, are they a guide to the quality of your thinking? If your angry feelings intensify to fury, does that mean you are absolutely right about the intentions of the other driver? Or, are those escalating feelings a signal that the quality of your thinking is abysmally low? When you are feeling angry as you drive, holding a principle of not endangering others will be a better a guide to behavior than your angry feelings. Similarly, if while watching the debate last night, you experienced intense emotions, were those feelings signaling which candidate will be a better president?" (09/27/16)


-----

Where is that wasteful government spending?

"In early September 2016, Donald Trump announced his plan for a vast expansion of the U.S. military, including 90,000 new soldiers for the Army, nearly 75 new ships for the Navy, and dozens of new fighter aircraft for the Air Force. Although the cost of this increase would be substantial -- about $90 billion per year -- it would be covered, the GOP presidential candidate said, by cutting wasteful government spending. But where, exactly, is the waste?" (09/27/16)


-----

Free Talk Live, 09/26/16

"Debate Drinking Game :: Where will third party candidates be during the debate? :: Green Party Candidate Jill Stein Escorted off Debate Premises :: Searching TOR Users' Computers :: Debate Predictions :: Business Regulations :: Phone Manufacturers :: Trump's Tax Returns :: Police State." [Flash audio or MP3] (09/26/16)


-----

The Tom Woods Show, episode 745

"Fractional-reserve banking, in which only a fraction of demand deposits are available on demand (the rest being lent out), has been a source of controversy even among self-identified Austrian economists. Jeff Herbener joins us to discuss the purely economic effects of fractional-reserve banking." [various formats] (09/26/16)


-----

Free trade is fair trade

"Human beings, by virtue of being human, are entitled to worship as they choose, to own property, to emigrate from their country, and to form peaceable associations. Those are fundamental rights, not dependent on the government's political preferences or utilitarian considerations. The freedom to engage in mutual and honest commerce is just as fundamental, and it should be just as immaterial whether lawmakers approve of the bargain struck between seller and buyer. Jones shouldn't have to lobby public officials for the right to hire Smith or teach Smith or pray with Smith, or seek Smith's opinion. Nor should he have to win government approval for the right to sell his goods and services to Smith. Not even if Smith lives in another neighborhood, or another state, or another country." (09/27/16)


-----

Don’t cry for me, Cupertino

"Heads turned a couple of weeks ago when it was announced that Apple, maker of iMacs and iPhones, owed Ireland 13 billion euros (about $14.5 billion), covering ten years of back taxes, plus interest. This case was much more unusual than the run-of-the mill tax dispute between a taxpayer and the taxing authorities for several reasons. Surprisingly, Apple wasn't the only one unhappy with the decision; the Ireland tax authorities were too, with Ireland's Minister for Finance saying that he disagrees 'profoundly' with it. Who made the decision, then? It was the European Commission, basically an antitrust regulator for the EU." (09/26/16)


-----

Fedzilla’s land grabs, part 1

"Whatever powers are not specifically enumerated to the federal government become the province of the states. Since the Constitution does not specifically enumerate federal land ownership outside of the stipulations of the Enclave Clause, Fedzilla's 'ownership' of such lands is unconstitutional. Period! What should have happened -- and what used to happen -- is that as each territory became a state, the Feds ceded those territorial lands over to that state. In some cases, such as with Illinois, Arkansas and Missouri, states successfully recovered their large percentages of formerly-federally-owned territory. End of story. So, what happened in between? How did we ever arrive at the point where Fedzilla now occupies over 635 million acres, i.e., 28 percent of the land mass of the nation?" (09/26/16)


-----

Mortality from AGW warming: A brief analysis

"In a recent FaceBook exchange, the question came up of why I object to the omission from most talk about AGW of the benefits from milder winters. I ended up sketching an approach to the question of whether increased mortality from hotter summers was more or less than decreased mortality from milder winters. It was a longer piece than I usually bother with on FaceBook, which suggested that it would be more appropriate here, so here, with some editing, it is. I begin with a Lancet article that found that, globally, 'cold-related deaths outnumbered heat-related deaths by a factor of nearly 20, overall.' To figure out how summed deaths from heat and cold were changed by AGW so far, or estimate how they will be changed in the future, I need two more pieces of information." (09/26/16)


-----

Crony capitalism and political privilege: Earthshaking. Literally.

"Question: What's the difference between a drunk driver who totals your car with his reckless, intoxicated driving, and an oil company that damages your house's foundation with its reckless, earthquake-inducing fracking? Answer: The oil company can afford to buy off politicians and regulators to let it injure you without legal consequence or liability, and to run slick public relations campaigns aimed at convincing you to not believe your own lying eyes. The drunk driver counts himself lucky if he has enough cash on hand to buy the next six-pack." (09/26/16)


-----

Police killings won’t stop

"The corporate state, no matter how many protests take place in American cities over the murder of unarmed citizens, will put no restraints on the police or the organs of security and surveillance. It will not protect the victims of state violence. It will continue to grant broader powers and greater resources to militarized police departments and internal security forces such as Homeland Security. Force, along with the systems of indoctrination and propaganda, is the last prop that keeps the corporate elites in power. These elites will do nothing to diminish the mechanisms necessary for their control." (09/26/16)


-----

The student loan scam killed ITT Tech

"ITT Technical Institute announced that it was shutting the doors of its campuses earlier this month, after the Department of Education barred the company from accepting federal student aid funds. Thousands of employees have lost their jobs and tens of thousands of students are left saddled with monstrous debt, no degree, and credits that are scarcely accepted elsewhere. This is clearly nothing short of a disaster for those involved, but could this be a glimpse into a grim future for the education sector?" (09/26/16)


-----

Thank goodness government isn’t as involved in the food service industry as it is in the health care industry

"Margot Sanger-Katz usefully analogizes Obamacare to all-you-can-eat restaurants ('Football Team at the Buffet: Why Obamacare Markets Are in Crisis,' September 24): if these restaurants don't price their buffets wisely, they go bankrupt. Given the helpfulness of Ms. Sanger-Katz's analogy, I'm surprised that it didn’t lead her to draw what is for me the obvious conclusion -- namely, replace heavy government involvement in health-care with private competitive markets of the sort in which restaurants and supermarkets operate. After all, despite the pricing challenges that Ms. Sanger-Katz correctly notes confront many restaurants, they continue to thrive, all while being only very lightly regulated and completely unsubsidized." (09/26/16)


-----

Three questions Trump & Clinton should answer at tonight’s debate

"Created by the Democratic and Republican parties in 1987 to take control of presidential and vice presidential debates, it’s no surprise the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has tried to keep third party candidates like me and my Libertarian Party running-mate Bill Weld from participating. So I’ll try a little 'virtual debating' here, with questions for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I’ll represent the tens of millions of true independent voters who will have no representation in the initial face-off. ... Even though I won't be on that stage at Hofstra, I'd like for the moderator to pose several questions to my opponents, which will give independents some voice. There are three issue frames in public policy: economic, social and foreign. Here are my questions, one for Secretary Clinton on foreign affairs. One for Mr. Trump on social policy. And a question I would pose to both about the most important fiscal issue facing the government." (09/26/16)


-----

We need a real people’s debate, not the “fight of the century”

"We're told that Monday night's confrontation between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could draw 100 million viewers and 'rank among television benchmarks like the finales of MASH and Cheers.' We're not being told that it will be a debate on the issues of greatest concern to the American people. But then, it may not even really be a debate at all. A debate, according to Merriam-Webster, is 'a regulated discussion of a proposition between two matched sides.' Given Trump’s cheap theatrics, and the media’s sensationalist bent, we're more likely to see a 'pageant' (defined as is defined as 'a mere show' and 'an ostentatious display') instead. That would be tragic -- for the democratic process, and for the country." (09/26/16)


-----

Why activists should learn to think on the margin

"Leaders of liberty must sometimes take a step back and reflect on the best ways to use their limited resources and local knowledge to reach their ultimate goals. Students For Liberty's mission is '... to educate, develop, and empower the next generation of leaders of liberty.' To strive for this goal as efficiently as possible requires applying certain economic concepts, specifically marginalism. The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility states that every additional unit of a good consumed yields less utility to the consumer than the unit before it (assuming all other factors are held constant). This is important when considering the nature of value and helps to resolve apparent paradoxes." (09/26/16)


-----

Trump’s agenda: A recipe for civil unrest

"Donald Trump finally got around to demonizing African Americans. The only surprise is how long he took to get there. Early in the campaign season, he raged about Muslims and demanded they be barred from entering the country. He labeled Mexican immigrants 'rapists.' He has insisted that a wall, built by the United States, paid for by Mexico, must rise along the southern border. But he held off on making broad, baseless generalizations about black people. African Americans listened carefully to Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims and Mexicans: His horrendous poll numbers among blacks reflect a widespread understanding that nothing good can come of a Trump presidency." (09/23/16)


-----

Donald Trump leads the war on truth — but he didn’t start it

"The backlash against Trump isn't really about his lying. It's that he is lying too clumsily, too openly, and in the service of the wrong causes. ... Today, if you want to use your official position to slander Edward Snowden, or to claim that only three men were waterboarded at Guantanamo, or to argue against the release of 28 pages of a publicly funded report on the 9/11 attacks, the worst that most newspapers will do is quote someone who disagrees with you. Senior official says X, some critics say Y. This is stenography, and for those interested in figuring out how we came to inhabit a post-fact world, this might be one place to begin." (09/26/16)


-----

Economic ideas: Plato, Aristotle, and the ancient Greeks, part 2

"When we turn to the other most famous ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle (384 B.C. – 322 B.C.), we find little of the political regimentation that characterizes his teacher, Plato. For Aristotle, the appropriate behavior is the 'golden mean,' that is, the avoidance of 'extreme' or unrealistic goals or conduct in the affairs of men. While he hopes that wise policies may help to improve the conditions and actions of men, Aristotle recognizes that man possesses a human nature that cannot be molded or bent or transformed to conform to some ideal of a perfect State populated by transformed people in the way that Plato believed was in principle desirable and possible." (09/26/16)


-----

The real threat to the Constitution is Trump

"Many people in his party have repudiated Trump's comments on race, immigration, Vladimir Putin and more. But among those who support him, there is one decisive, last-resort justification: Trump would appoint conservative Supreme Court justices who would uphold the Constitution, and Hillary Clinton would not. What makes them so sure? If there is anything clear from his tweets and speeches, it's that he has no more regard for the Constitution than he does for the creditors he stiffed in his many bankruptcies." (09/26/16)


-----

The left deserves better than Jill Stein

"If politics were a battle for the moral high ground, both Bernie Sanders and the Green Party might be in full control of the three branches of government. Sadly, it’s not and they’re not. Like Sanders, the Green Party’s Jill Stein has become a symbol. Progressives and radicals are rightfully tired of having to hold their noses and choose between two bad options. Stein’s campaign seems to offer an alternative. Outside the twin evils of hawkish neoliberalism and thinly veiled white nationalism sits a party that can sincerely claim to be united behind solidly progressive demands: transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, rejecting the Trans-Pacific Partnership and implementing a $15 minimum wage, among others. These are changes that could make a real difference in the lives of America’s worst-off, and potentially save the planet we all live on from ecological collapse. Unfortunately, those changes won’t come from Stein or the Green Party." [editor's note: Yep, the Left "eat their own" as well - SAT] (09/26/16)


-----

No, really, Clinton will be very hawkish as president

"Stephen Walt isn't persuaded that Hillary Clinton will be as hawkish a president as her record suggests .... Clinton would be unwise to pursue an even more activist and militarized foreign policy agenda as president, but Walt and I agree about this because we generally view that sort of foreign policy as dangerous and contrary to American interests anyway. It does seem foolish for any president to want to do the things that Clinton thinks the U.S. should do, but that is not a reason to think it won't happen." (09/26/16)


-----

The road to fascism in just two charts

"The striking ineptitude pundits reveal when trying to analyze today's political dislocation stems from two simple facts. First, they cannot wrap their head around the fact that some nations apparently drift far left (Spain, Portugal, Italy), while others far right (US, UK, Germany, France) and some in both directions at the same time (Greece). This is easy to understand when acknowledging that the world is not drifting in various directions, but rather just expressing the same message in different language." (09/26/16)


-----