The Myths and Realities of “The Marketplace Fairness Act”

The Marketplace Fairness Act is being bounced around once again, this is the proposal to allow States to require businesses to collect sales tax on all items sold via internet and catalog. The National Taxpayers Union reports several myths have cropped up about the bill and what it would do.

Some people claim that allowing States to require businesses from outside its jurisdiction to pay taxes for anything shipped into the jurisdiction is a “State’s Rights” issue. That is 100% false. The NTU reports “[g]iving states the power to collect sales taxes across their borders isn’t about states’ rights, it’s about state coercion. Governments would have fewer incentives to keep their own tax rates low, eroding the important federalist principle of tax competition.” Allowing States to tax items shipped into it could theoretically allow the States to tax those items at higher rates than items purchased within the State. Thus, harming any business that relies on online or catalog sales.

Other myths claim online stores receive a special tax loophole and that such a tax would “level the playing field.” Again, both are false. NTU reports the so-called loophole “is actually the physical presence standard, a firmly grounded constitutional doctrine the Supreme Court has upheld for decades to protect businesses and their customers from predatory tax administrators.” The bill would also “require remote sellers to collect sales tax on every item, it would force them to do so by a completely different and harsher set of rules than currently exist for brick-and-mortar sales… forcing online retailers to quiz each and every customer about their residency” in order to comply with more than 9,600 separate sales tax jurisdictions across the country. Does that sound like “fairness” to you?

The Marketplace Fairness Act is NOT fair and if enacted, there will be winners and losers. Among the losers are those customers who prefer to shop online where their purchases are mostly free from sales tax and those smaller companies who will find it difficult and/or expensive to comply. The winners will be the governments that will see an increase in tax revenue and the bigger online companies that will be able to fill the void left when the smaller companies either refuse to sale online or go out of business.

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Geeks and Hucksters: How we managed to kill innovation in the United States

Who Innovates?
Economist cover
This is a crucial question that more people should be asking. Clever people like Neal Stephenson, Peter Thiel, Tyler Cowen, and the editorial board of the Economist think that innovation is dying. Some of this is motivated by the “We were promised jetpacks!” resentments of baby boomers reaching a certain age, but they do have a point. Between 1900 and 1950 life was transformed. Airplanes, automobiles, electrification, washing machines and other technologies revolutionized home, work, and play. Other than the internet and telecoms, it is hard to point to any comparable changes since 1950. A number of theories have been floated to explain this, from the ridiculous one that there is nothing more to discover, to the more likely one that further discoveries may be harder. The worst suggestion is that the government somehow needs to do more. If only they would start funding more infrastructure, or come up with some grand plan like the moon shot, then we would start innovating again. None of these explanations are particularly satisfactory.

If you ask the question above, however, the problem becomes much simpler. Innovation requires two sorts of people. Politely, scientists and entrepreneurs, more informally geeks and hucksters. It is rare for these traits to be combined in a single person. When they are, that person tends to end up a household name like Edison or Jobs. Geekdom gets the respect it deserves. Scientific inquiry, pure and applied, is what gives us the technology that builds the future. Hucksters are less appreciated, which is a shame. It takes a visionary salesman to bring an innovation to the masses. Henry Ford would be the classic example. Automobiles were invented over a decade before he democratized them. As importantly, there were individual salespeople country-wide who brought this innovation forward. Another example would be VCRs. The technology was important, but the entrepreneurs throughout the country who were willing to set up video rental stores were vital. For innovation to occur you need a novelty, but you also need legions who are willing to take the risk of popularizing these novelties. You need geeks and hucksters.

These two classes of people are just as greedy as anyone else. A select few are really out to change the world, but most are willing to take a smaller degree of success if it is easier to come by. This makes sense, as the effort to truly create something new often ends in failure. Unfortunately, the United States has slowly built a system that increases the possibility of non-innovative success for both Geeks and Hucksters.

We have provided a sure thing to geeks in the state owned enterprise that is our financial industry. The financial and legal sectors have been sucking up our cognitive elites at an ever increasing pace for the past 20 years. A distressing amount of scientists and engineers end up in patent law. Our most promising mathematicians and computer scientists end up getting rich as spread-sheet jockeys in the hedge fund industry. The folks who should be dreaming up the future are making their millions and billions in pursuits with zero social value and a government guarantee.

Far worse, and far more extensive, is the system we have set up for hucksters. From the time of the New Deal forward the federal government slowly constructed a system that made the real estate market more and more secure. The mortgage interest income tax deduction has inflated the price of property, and given everyone an incentive to purchase that inflated asset. Quasi-governmental organizations like Fannie Mae and an alphabet soup of agencies like the FHA have insured, purchased, and guaranteed house loans, further driving up the price of these assets. This system has not guaranteed success, of course, but it has created millions of better bets than, say, funding some bicycle repairmen in their latest attempt at a flying machine. These policies laid out a shortcut to the American dream.

This shortcut has come with costs. There was the 2007-2008 financial crisis we are all still recovering from. There is the truly fantastical notion that 10 grand of drywall should be worth a million dollars. There is the creation of an underclass that cannot afford the inflated costs of housing.

But what if the highest cost is one we can’t see? What if the Henry Ford of the 1980s never appeared because he was too busy building subdivisions? What if all the salespeople who would have been willing to take a risk on the new got realtor’s licenses instead? How many people who could have been angel investors are instead paying mortgages on second homes? What if the woman who should have invented the flying car made all the money she wanted with equity derivatives?

As Robert Heinlein said: “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”.

Robert Morris thinks he has all the answers. He has written at some length on the Drug War and US foreign policy more of his work can be found here

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Yakety Yak and Blah, Blah, Blah: Words of Wisdom from the E̶m̶p̶e̶r̶o̶r̶ President

Oh, God! He opened with remarks about the Constitution.

Jobs are still down, and corporations are making profits. Boo!

Government will grow the middle class!

“If you work hard and meet your responsibilities…” you should do well. Even with our boots on your neck.

We can’t solve every problem…but in a few minutes, I want you to forget I said that.

The people are all about compromise…they dig it, I’m telling you. Government needs to do stuff. And we can’t do that unless we all agree that we need more laws. After all, up to this point, the laws have been pretty awesome. But we need more, and betters.

Spending cuts are a really bad idea…I mean, if we aren’t spending, why are we here?

Some of these people think that throwing money at problems won’t work. I say, YES IT WILL!

I’ve been beating on the wealthiest. And I’ve sort of gotten used to it. But gaffing the rich isn’t enough. We need to reform stuff. For example, even though I bash corporate greed, I haven’t done shit about the idiocy that is government subsidies to billion dollar corporations. This is ridiculous. Let’s reduce this absurdity slightly, and keep giving tax payer money to big pharma, but slightly less! Can I get an Amen???

We’re gonna have to make some jobs happen AND bring down the deficit—using nothing but coercive violence, the power of government, and of course, my Super Secret patent medicine.

My father knew this witch doctor in Kenya. Man, this guy stirred a hell broth like you wouldn’t believe. Now, I don’t remember all of it, but I think I can replicate it well enough to make some magic happen. And let’s face it; we need magic. First, we need some spider’s tear,s a couple of dragon scales, a cup of hot fat, and the Beatles White Album.

What’s that? Listen, I said the same thing back in my first term. If anyone has a better idea, my door’s always open. But what I won’t stand for is criticism of my methods, from those who don’t have any ideas of their own.

Taxes are awesome, but the tax code sucks. See, people are moving businesses overseas, and I figure it’s on account of all these forms. So if we can put it all on one page, I bet they’ll come flying back to the good ole’ US of A, even though we’re completely hostile toward business and choke expansion with regulation, and success with red tape.
Sometimes elected officials cause the crisis. But debt reduction isn’t as important as creating jobs. Man, I love saying that. But here’s the deal. We’re going to forego the Pledge of Allegiance from now on, cause I have a really cool platitude. Want to hear it? Too bad, it’s mine! Ha, ha. I’m kidding. But seriously, here it is:

Instead of the Pledge, were going to have every American ask themselves three questions every morning.

How do we attract more jobs to our shores?
How do we equip our people with the skills they need to get those jobs?
And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living.

Now the economists really dug my awesome American Jobs Act, and the last Congress was cool enough to pass some of that agenda. Now we need to get the rest done. Yeah, it’s all government action and stuff, but chillax, folks. It don’t cost nothin’!

We have some cool jobs we lost coming back home. Don’t ask me why that is, that’s not important. But it’s cool, right? Yeah, it’s all tax breaks and other favoritism/corporatism, but still. Cool stuff. Listen, even Apple is going to start making the only computer that’s as cool as I am, right here in America! Sweet, huh? Almost as sweet as the sweetheart deal they got to agree to it. But let’s stay positive.

More corporatism is right around the corner. Whatever the reason jobs are leaving, whatever non-government cause it may have been, whatever gloabalization issue favored by the GOP led to this economic blight, we have an awesome opportunity—closed warehouses. And what do you do with closed warehouses? You turn that frown upside down and offer a great deal to businesses if they’ll j̶o̶i̶n̶ ̶m̶e̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶w̶e̶ ̶c̶a̶n̶ ̶r̶u̶l̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶g̶a̶l̶a̶x̶y̶ ̶a̶s̶ ̶f̶a̶t̶h̶e̶r̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶s̶o̶n̶ team up with cabinet level government and we can make some hubs for high tech stuff. See? Government again! W00T!

If we double down on state funded cool ideas, we can grow a human liver in the beak of a penguin, which, oddly enough, can produce more oil than anyplace on earth…wait. Huh? These are Biden’s notes. Sorry.

The crazy weather is all manmade stuff. And if we don’t cut the AC on, it’s going to get too hot and rain more. Here’s the deal, folks: if Congress won’t do what I want, I’ll do it myself. I know, I know I don’t have the legal authority for any such thing. But if I start looking around, I’ll use the term “Executive Order,” which metaphysically alters reality and lets me do whatever I wish.

High gas prices suck. Now I’m not about to remedy that by suggesting a slashing of gasoline taxes, hell no. I need that money to fund the greta ideas contained in the budgets we keep missing by a trillion dollars, or so.

OK, enough about action and planning. Let’s get some applause for flowery platitudes. You game? Sweet.
Let’s all promise to stop wasting stuff. Let’s say, I dunno, only waste half the energy you do now. Whattayasay?

Now business need stuff, and so do our kids. Let’s make everything better. Government can! Hells yeah!

The housing market is roaring back. But families can’t refinance, and the banks are holding the market hostage. There greedy bankers just don’t want to make any money. I know it sounds strange, but that’s our reality. Homeowners with perfect credit and an amazingly low debt to income ration can’t get the banks to agree to hugely profitable loans. This just won’t do. So what we’re going to do is encourage these people who can’t refinance a chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing. Doesn’t that sound great? Send me the bill on this strange, drunken proposition and I’ll sight it immediately [cue applause signal]!

“Why would we be against that?”

Study after study shows that the earlier kids strt to learn, the better educated they’ll be. [Camera tree on Arnie Duncan, please. And tell him to nod in a slow, dramatic way]. 

Every dollar we don’t have that we can invest in education will save us seven dollars down the road by reducing bad stuff, even crime. It works. So let’s do it. It’s only a dollar, and no one spends a dollar responsibly like government.

I have some good ideas about how to improve education, and fortunately, the only thing required to implement these things is money, and we’ve got plenty of that—the printing presses are running 25 hours a day. Now, I know some of you think that’s impossible. You’ve obviously forgotten who I am.

I’m going to yammer on now abut the middle class and how important it is. I would like to suggest that young people reach even higher, but as I’ve already angered and alienated everyone above middle class, I doubt those closer to the top want any new members I sent upstairs, so we’ll just focus on “the middle class.” This is doubly important because test groups love it when I say “middle class.” So, until that changes, I’m going to be saying it a lot. Even absent a plan, they clicked those “approval” buttons every time I said it. “climate change” tested pretty well too.

Now, we’ve done great on immigration reform, and we’re going to keep on keeping on. We’re going to do this and that, and not mention the welfare state that makes immigration such a problematic issue. Middle class.

But wait, there’s more. FedGov is going to legislate away sex discrimination. We know better than employers do how to compensate employees, so we’re going further dictate salary issues with respect to sex. Speaking of wages, we’re going to force businesses to fire employees they can’t afford. Government should be able to help the poorest Americans, who are all too stupid to make the decision to take a job making less money that we think they should accept. Let’s raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour! [cue applause].

(On to the military. Everyone loves that)

America will complete it’s never-defined mission, and fulfill her vague objectives in Afghanistan. Those goals will be completed here pretty soon, and I can now predict that that war will be over shortly.

We’re going to keep kicking terror ass, and killing those who want to expel our occupying forces. But I promise you, we’re going to do so in a way that reflect our values. We may kill Americans without trial, evidence, or oversight, but we will be transparent and follow the law while doing so.

Speaking of attacks, hackers re a problem, and it’s a frightening one. This issue is so serious that I signed another of those Executive Orders that I pretend grant me some ill-defined authority to do stuff I agree with.

We also need free trade, and if there’s one way to ensure such trade with our European partners, it’s with reams of government red tape.

America must remain a beacon of hope, and an example to the rest of the world. Government equals freedom. That’s our example. That’s what we can dictate to the world.

Syria has murdered its own people n a way somehow different than we do. This is terrible and cannot be tolerated. We must show the world the right way to murder one’s own citizens, lest the do it wrong. Middle class.

Men aren’t volunteering to go die for vague purposes in far away lands. Maybe women won’t shrink from the challenge. American women have proven themselves, and they are ready to go die for Big Government in pursuit of neocon goals. [Cue applause]

On to the gun issue…Newtown

We need to embrace changes and put forth common sense proposals that would not have done a thing to prevent the tragedy that served as the catalyst for this conversation. Criminals continue to ply their violent trade in places with the strongest gun control laws in the country. So we need more. In fact, in suggesting these new laws, I am ignoring the existing laws of the Constitution.You see, the law doesn’t matter nearly as much as feel good speeches and suggestions for legislation that won’t solve a thing. Climate change.

Goodnight. God bless you, God bless Climate change, and God bless the middle class of the United States of America.

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Postal Monopoly and Saturday Delivery

The Postmaster General recently announced that the United States Postal Service will be ending Saturday delivery of first-class mail by August of 2013. Many people are upset at this cut in service. But few people are asking the real question: why does the United States Postal Service have a monopoly on delivery of first-class mail?

In 1844, Lysander Spooner wrote:

“1. …The power of Congress, then, is simply ‘to establish post-offices and post roads,’ of their own-not to interfere with those established by others.
2. The constitution expresses, neither in terms, nor by necessary implication, any prohibition upon the establishment of mails, post-offices and post roads, by the states or individuals.
3. The constitution expresses, neither in terms, nor by necessary implication, any surrender, on the part of the people, of their own natural rights to establish mails, post offices, or post-roads, at pleasure.
4. The simple grant of an authority, whether to an individual or a government, to do a particular act, gives the grantee no authority to forbid others to do acts of the same kind.”

That same year, Spooner opened the American Letter Mail Company to directly challenge the postal monopoly. Spooner’s mail service had post offices in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston, and advertised his service to “transmit letters daily from each city to the others – twice a day between New York and Philadelphia. Postage 6 1/4 cents per each half-ounce, payable in advance always. Stamps 20 for a dollar.”

One year into business, Spooner had forced the Post Office to lower rates for first-class mail and newspapers would “be sent free for any distance up to a 30-mile radius of the place of publication.” Spooner decided to dig in his heels and lowered his own rates to continue competing with the Post Office.

“So the battle of law and loopholes continued,” wrote Lucille J. Goodyear, “In 1851, Congress again lowered rates and simultaneously enacted a law to protect the government’s monopoly on the distribution of mail. Whereas threats of jail had not fazed or dampened Spooner’s zeal in the fight, the latter move by Congress forced him into defeat… his great battle had ended and his company was disbanded.”

I share Spooner’s belief that just because Congress has assumed the right to operate a Postal Service that they are thus granted the authority to forbid others from operating their own private postal service. I say, “good riddance” to Saturday delivery of first-class mail by the United States Postal Service and look forward to the day when private mail services are delivering mail every day of the week, and twice on weekends!

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AUDIO: Police intentionally set fire in Dorner seige

Chris Dorner, the Ex-LAPD cop turned revenge-fueled cop killer was allegedly cornered and killed in Big Bear, California on Tuesday evening according to several media reports. In the final moments of the several hour long siege, police ran off media helicopters, only to have them return to witness a cabin on fire.

What took place in those critical moments was captured on audio recorded from police scanners, confirming that the blaze was intentionally set by police.

In a separate recording by a reporter on scene, we can hear police yelling “burn him out” “we’re going to burn him out” and “burn that motherfucker” right before the fire started at the house.

Appalling as it may sound, the events that unfolded in the wake of Dorner’s war against police, we should be wary of individuals who claim the right to be judge, jury and executioner beyond the scope of due process safeguards. Be it a disgruntled ex-cop, or the Judge Dredd wannabes that pursue him, our society suffers when we allow our concept of “justice” to be bent to the militaristic levels that we have witnessed.

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Dead as a Dorner? Messy media jump the gun

From ABC, to NBC to CBS and CNN, media outlets have been covering the Chris Dorner situation with furious attention today. However, when the flames erupted from a cabin in Big Bear, facts went out the window as fervor took over.


https://twitter.com/ABCWorldNews/statuses/301524235170484224


https://twitter.com/nbcnightlynews/statuses/301530006587310080


https://twitter.com/CBSNews/statuses/301530823511904257

CNN also
https://twitter.com/CNN/statuses/301528042436710400

Surprisingly, only FoxNews — apparently intently focused on the State of the Union address at the time — managed to not erroneously report a body on twitter. They did however report on their website.

The LAPD had to set the record straight:


https://twitter.com/LAPDHQ/statuses/301529848785022976

In a twitter world, a lie can literally make its way around the world before the truth even has a chance to tie its shoelaces (apologies to Mark Twain).

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Gary Johnson hits reddit, reddit hits back with tough questions

Republican turned Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson announced that he will respond to President Barack Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address via a reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything).

Here’s the announcement on facebook:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 3 p.m. PST / 6 p.m EST, Gov. Gary Johnson will host a Reddit AMA or “Ask Me Anything.”

The 60-minute on-line event will give participants a chance to ask the former New Mexico Governor and Honorary Chairman of the Our America Initiative questions via the popular website, Reddit.com.

Reddit is a source for what’s new and popular on the web. Users like you provide all of the content and decide, through voting, what’s good and what’s junk.

Links that receive community approval bubble up towards #1, so the front page is constantly in motion and (hopefully) filled with fresh, interesting links.

To ask a question, visit www.reddit.com at 3 p.m. PST / 6 p.m EST, Tuesday, and just search “Gov. Gary Johnson”. Governor Johnson is anxious to hear from you!

Please join us!

Sincerely,

Our America Team

When: Tuesday Feb 12, 2013
Time: 3 p.m. PST | 4 p.m. MST | 5 p.m CST | 6 p.m EST
Where: Online www.reddit.com just search “Gov. Gary Johnson.”

You can easily track Johnson through his account GovGaryJohnson.

One of the questions we expect will be asked is whether he is formally announcing his candidacy for 2016. Considering the official Johnson store has been selling 2016 merchandise for several weeks now, that answer will undoubtedly be “yes”.

Another issue sure to come up is Johnson’s enormous $1.1 million campaign debt that looms over a future bid. It could easily be problematic for Johnson’s finger-wagging at Obama’s loose spending habits.

Oddly enough, when checking out Johnson’s pre 2016/post 2012 campaign site ouramericaninitiative.com, we discovered (using NoScript) that there was a serious technical issue with spam. We hope Governor Johnson’s web team will quickly patch that glaring exploit.

UPDATE: Johnson has finished the AMA, answering 29 of the more than 300 questions. It was a far smaller turnout than the IAmA during the 2012 presidential campaign, which had over 9000 responses.

On the 2016 question he responds, “Yes, 2016 is far off, and we will see what it brings. Right now, I am determined to be a voice of sanity re spending, civil liberties, and putting an end to unnecessary and costly foreign interventions.”

Sounds like the politician way of saying “yes” to me.

For the question of “Where did the money go?” (to paraphrase), Johnson seemed to deflect the issue by drawing distinct comparisons to the millions thrown around by Obama and Romney.

“There are several questions along this line. Let me be clear. We raised and spend 1/1000th of the amount spent by Obama and Romney, and financed substantial travel, grassroots development, social media presence and an aggressive email campaign. We put as many resources as possible on the air in advertising, but appropriately spent much on developing the base that will be able to go forward.”

Unfortunately, the AMA was not so much a SOTU response as just another chance for Johnson to stay relevant to the hivemind of reddit. And Johnson picked probably the worst timing, because all eyes for the past few hours have been focused on the Chris Dorner situation. That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of questions on the subject of Dorner, Johnson simply elected to answer none of them.

UPDATE II: It seems Governor Johnson might have missed out on reaching a lot more redditors when he unwittingly posted in r/AMA (36 thousand subscribers) instead of r/IAmA (2.7 million subscribers).

Johnson’s media folks ought to be slapping themselves on the forehead over this.

UPDATE III: A pointed question about the campaign finance (using the same link to ParaPolitical cited in this post) has hit the most upvoted spot in after-hours discussions. Libertarians have a tendency to publicly piss all over each other for sport, so this AMA derailing certainly won’t bode well for Johnson putting the issue to bed.

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HoT migration wonkiness, explained

Hey Hammer of Truth fans, I’ve been busily moving the site away from our hosting provider we loved for seven years over to Amazon Web Services EC2. As you might have noticed, this has caused a few hiccups, which has led to a temporary slowdown in post frequency (because yay distractions and uncertainty).

We’ve gone from a managed hosting environment where I put in support tickets and was told to spend lots of money buying better servers, to a self-serve model where we spend less money but the tradeoff is having to know a lot of technical stuff.

Luckily I know a few things. Enough to break things, and enough to fix them again.

Well, I’m about 98% sure that all these odd little bugs that came up during the migration from one server environment to another have now been worked out now (like the caching issue that displayed a weak, ugly mobile theme instead of our usual kickass design). Frabjous day!

I want to ask all of you to drop a comment here if you notice any problems with the site. Or just to high five us for the success.

Yes, we’re doing regular backups.

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Drones Across America

Drones cast a shadow over Constitutional rights

Senator Lindsey Graham recently told reporters today that his colleagues in Congress need to get behind Obama’s targeted killing program, and protect the president from “libertarians and the left.”

Graham said, “Every member of Congress needs to get on board. It’s not fair to the president to let him, leave him out there alone quite frankly. He’s getting hit from libertarians and the left.
I think the middle of America understands why you would want a drone program…
The process of being targeted I think is legal, quite frankly laborious and should reside in the commander in chief to determine who an enemy combatant is and what kind of force to use.”

A leaked Department Of Justice white paper explicitly says, “[T]here exists no appropriate judicial forum to evaluate these constitutional questions.”

Davi Barker reported on SilverUnderground.com, “The Drone memo lays out three vague, easily-met conditions that allegedly justify the murder of Americans without a trial.

  • The target must be an ‘imminent threat’ in the broadest sense requiring no evidence or intelligence.
  • Capture of the target must be ‘unfeasible’ meaning U.S. officials consider attempted capture an ‘undue risk.’
  • The strike must be conducted according to ‘law of war principles’ which are not defined.

The Drone Memo redefines ‘imminent’ to mean its opposite. The ACLU calls it ‘vague,’ ‘elastic,’ and ‘easy to manipulate.’ According to the memo ‘the condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on US persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.’ In other words, classifying a threat as ‘imminent’ does not require any indication that it is actually ‘imminent.’”

We already know that several government officials think liberty-activists and other peaceful people are “potential terrorists” or some other kind of threat. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer called activists from Food Not Bombs “dangerous food terrorists.” NH State Representative Cynthia Chase said “Free Staters are the single biggest threat the state is facing today.” And just one year ago, Congress authorized government use of unmanned spy planes in U.S. Airspace. The FAA projects there will be as many as 30,000 unmanned drones in American airspace by 2020.

Andrew Napolitano asked, “Would we live in a safer society if the government could cut down every law and abrogate every freedom and break down every door and arrest everybody it wanted? We’d be safe from the bad guys, but we wouldn’t be safe from the government. Who would want to live in such a society?” I certainly don’t want to live in that society!

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College students thwart 70 agencies, sneak in Super Bowl XLVII

This year, New Orleans’ Superdome had the distinction of being protected not just by the Department of Homeland Security and 4,000 private security guards. More than 70 federal agencies working out of the Joint Operations Center at the New Orleans FBI office, ostensibly with the goal of stopping anyone who didn’t belong inside the “National Special Security Event”.

Included in the clusterfuck of alphabet security soup is one that should probably be an expert in the matter, but is somehow the exact opposite — Customs and Border Patrol. CPB posted a self-congratulatory release on their website this week:

When the San Francisco 49ers faced the Baltimore Ravens, fans in the New Orleans Mercedes-Benz Superdome probably did not realize the level of security that covered them long before they made their way into the stadium. They may have been unaware of the nearly invisible protected air space that blanketed the venue hours before the kick-off and well after they left the stadium.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) once again was part of the super security team supporting New Orleans in their efforts to host a safe and secure Super Bowl XLVII experience. As part of the team, CBP brings its operational experience and assets to support their federal, state and local law enforcement partners, the National Football League (NFL) and the community.

The rub? Two students from Savannah State snuck their way past the army of security and into the event sans tickets. Their technique was simple enough — wearing matching hoodies and exuding extreme confidence. They even video-recorded the whole exploit, Savannah Now has posted portions.

Priceless reaction after the duo waltzed by security: “They should have stopped us.”

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ONION: American Citizens Split On DOJ Memo Authorizing Government To Kill Them…

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…but I repeat myself

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned that the Drone Strikes were going to be an issue and “[Obama]’s getting hit from libertarians and the left.” Well IMAGINE THAT. You’d almost think that big-L Libertarians were SOCIALLY LIBERAL.

“Every member of Congress needs to get on board,” Graham said. “It’s not fair to the president to let him, leave him out there alone quite frankly. He’s getting hit from libertarians and the left.

“I think the middle of America understands why you would want a drone program to go after a person like Anwar al-Awlaki,” Graham added.

“The process of being targeted I think is legal, quite frankly laborious and should reside in the commander in chief to determine who an enemy combatant is and what kind of force to use.”

“If this ever goes to court I guarantee you it will be a slam dunk support of what the administration is doing. I think one of the highlights of President Obama’s first time and the beginning of his second term is the way he’s been able to use drones against terrorists.”

So, basically, Obama’s in the unique position of being supported by the people who he never once promised anything to and pretty much hate him, and being opposed by every one that had even a small chance of supporting him (once Bob-freaking-Barr was the LP nominee, a LOT of the LP jumped to supporting Obama, as Paul was a non-issue before the LP convention, and there were many hurt feelings about the treatment of Paul by the GOP that year).

If this shouldn’t be a wake up call to Obama, I really don’t know what will be, get rid of the freaking drones already!

Lindsey Graham Urges Colleagues to Support Targeted Killing, Protect Obama From “Libertarians and the Left” [reason.com]

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Kim Kardashian takes heat for posting gun pic to twitter…
Weeks after signing ‘Sandy Hook Promise’…

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Anonymous exploits Federal Reserve website, exposes data of 4000+ bank execs…
Data published…

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3 wounded, 3 dead after ex-LAPD cop, Navy Lt. begins targeting ‘corrupt’ officers…
Supports Piers Morgan, Obama and gun control…

Fearful police shooting up trucks matching description…
Truck belonging to Dorner found burned at Big Bear…
UNREDACTED: Christopher Dorner’s 20-page manifesto…

Hopefully you analyst have done your homework. You are aware that I have always been the top shot, highest score, an expert in rifle qualifications in every unit I’ve been in. I will utilize every bit of small arms training, demolition, ordnance, and survival training I’ve been given.

Do you know why we are unsuccessful in asymmetrical and guerrilla warfare in CENTCOM theatre of operations? I’ll tell you. It’s not the inefficiency of our combatant commanders, planning, readiness or training of troops. Much like the Vietnam war, ACM, AAF, foreign fighters, Jihadist, and JAM have nothing to lose. They embrace death as it is a way of life. I simply don’t fear it. I am the walking exigent circumstance you created.

Facebook profile created just weeks before spree shows dozens of photos…
Top 10 facts…
Dorner gets a Wikipedia page…
TIMELINE…

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Not being drone murdered is an individual right

We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.

Statement of Principles, Libertarian Party

That line, especially the bit about the “cult of the omnipotent state,” has been the subject of many internal battles within the party at conventions. There is a group within the party and the broader libertarian movement that believe that language prevents us from growing as a party. After all, the two legacy parties don’t have that kind of language and they win elections.

I come from the libertarian wing of the Libertarian Party. I’ve been a Libertarian since I was 10 or 11 years old and my father would take me to meetings of the Maricopa County Libertarian Party. I vote for Ernie Hancock when he runs for Chair because I’ve known him longer than anyone else in the party. I’ve never been anything other than a big-L Libertarian.

You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended.You can ensure the safety of your defense if you only hold positions that cannot be attacked.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Lee Wrights once said, “We can make a difference by being different.” I believe that. The Libertarian Party is still much smaller than the two legacy parties. We cannot beat them by playing the game on their terms and by their rules.

This is not to say that our candidates should not be professional in appearance, nor that we can ignore the mechanics of running political campaigns. But it is to say that we can’t just be “Republicans who mean it,” or “Democrats who really believe in civil liberties.” If all we offer is a slightly better version of a legacy party, most voters won’t risk their vote for something slightly better when the legacy party candidate could, you know, win.

We can win by being the only party that supports actual freedom. Social freedom. Economic freedom. All of your freedoms. All of the time. Without exception.

These strikes are legal, they are ethical and they are wise.

White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney

According to a memo (PDF) obtained by NBC, the Obama Administration has decided that they can kill anyone overseas with a drone strike, including American citizens, with no trial, charge, or any due process protections at all. The Democrats don’t have a problem with this, since it’s a Democrat making this unilateral decision to kill people. Oddly, the Republicans don’t have a problem with it either, possibly because they want to have that power in 2016.

Libertarians are the only ones who have a problem with it. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution clearly states, “nor shall any person be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” There is no more stark and frightening example of “the cult of the omnipotent state,” than the idea that it’s okay to murder people drone missiles as long as it’s the President doing it and he’s pretty sure you’re a bad guy.

I’m a Libertarian and I challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual, and that most certainly includes the right to not be murdered by the government with no due process at all.

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Former ‘Iran/Contra pilot’ and 9/11 conspiracy theorist shoots and kills 2 teen children, then himself…
CIA RESPONDS: “We’re unaware of any information that would substantiate Mr. Marshall’s claims.”

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TWO YEARS: Virginia passes first law restricting drones…
11 states consider bans: CA, FL, ME, MO, MT, OK, OR, NE, ND, TX, VI…
Congress mulls national restrictions…
Obama kills another American, 16-yo born in Denver…
LINDSEY GRAHAM: Protect Obama from “libertarians and the left”…
WHITE HOUSE: ‘LEGAL’, ‘ETHICAL’, ‘WISE’…
DOJ KILL MEMO LEAKED: U.S. Citizenship won’t ‘immunize him from lethal operation’…
64 Drone Bases on US Soil (and counting)…

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Manufacturing leaving China, returns to ROBOTS in U.S…

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Ron Paul crosses line with Chris Kyle death tweet

On Monday February 4th, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul tweeted the following:

Understandably, a shitstorm ensued as people inferred that Ron Paul was saying Chris Kyle had it coming because of his past history as a Navy SEAL sniper. In fact, the writers at ronpaul.com said just that in a tactless post titled “Ron Paul: Chris Kyle Had It Coming“.

TheWeek jumped on the story:

And just like that, the three-time Republican presidential candidate’s tenuous coalition of pro-gun libertarians, anti–Federal Reserve goldbugs, and foreign policy non-interventionists crumbled. Paul is an opponent of gun control — saying after December’s Newtown, Conn., grade school massacre that “more guns equals less crime” and that “private gun ownership prevents many shootings” — but also of U.S. military adventurism. Kyle, also an outspoken gun-rights advocate, earned a reputation in Iraq as one of the deadliest snipers in U.S. military history.

Hours later, after a lot of backlash on social media and the conserva-sphere, Ron Paul meekly put out a follow-up tweet pointing to a short facebook post:

As much as it pains me to say it, Ron Paul simply doesn’t look good here.

Hopefully Paul will come out and say it was an intern posting tasteless drivel his accounts, but don’t count on it.

UPDATE: Lt. William J. Lawler II, M.Ed posted the following praise of Ron Paul’s tweet at LibertyCrier which hit my inbox along with a lot of negativity from military veterans:

When I first heard about the shooting I felt bad.

As soon as I learned who Chris Kyle was and how proud he was of how many people he had murdered, I felt less bad.

What goes around comes around.

In this case it was on an individual level. Soon it will be on a national level.

Unfortunately, those of us who fought against the tyranny of the American Empire are going to have to pay the price for all of the scumbags and idiots that supported American Imperialism.

Oh well, life’s not fair.

There’s definitely a schism growing in the Ron Paul revolution over this tweet. It’s unfair to veterans, many who have fought in wars and killed people, to suddenly claim that for them to die would be no great tragedy.

I reiterate that the Iraq war was misguided and a terrible spilling of blood on both sides, but that’s no excuse to start flinging insults and derision at the soldiers. The blame lies squarely on the politicians who fabricated evidence and ordered aggression.

As libertarians, we ought to be taking the moral high road and insist that all deaths are tragic, even those of our soldiers.

Let’s not forget that many allies in the Ron Paul revolution have fought in previous wars under a draft. Those troops are going to view any slights against the rank and file soldier as a severe affront to their patriotic duty to protect those who can’t or won’t fight from those who would.

UPDATE II: Someone from Liberty Crier dropped by and rudely commented. I have responded.

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Newtown, CT parent Bill Stevens delivers gun rights testimony

On Monday, January 28th, Bill Stevens gave a short three minute testimony to a special Connecticut Congress hearings called the “Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety”.

Here’s a transcript of his powerful testimony:

My name is Bill Stevens, I live in Newtown.

My fifth grade daughter was in “lock down” on December 14th, 2012. Unfortunately, her classmate’s little sister… was murdered in Sandy Hook that day when “lock down” and 911 weren’t enough to protect her from an evil person. Not protect her from an assault rifle or some type of inanimate object, but from an evil person.

Quite different, from the elaborate security you all enjoy here at the capitol. It was fun getting frisked on the way in. [Some laughter]

I’m not here to cite the crime statistics: lives saved with a gun, or the economic impact of the proposed asinine legislation (some of these gun control bills you have proposed). I will however read from the Connecticut state constitution. Section 15 reads very clearly… We all know what the Second Amendment says… But section 15 in the state constitution says very clearly: “Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.” [Applause]

There’s no registration, there’s no permitting, there’s no background check. It’s quite clear.

I’m frankly shocked by some of the testimonies today.

In case some here failed American history, there’s something called the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and a process by which to amend it. The same goes for the state constitution. These rights are inalienable and endowed by our creator — not you politicians — to all citizens regardless of gender, race or creed. In order to limit the rights of citizens, there is something called “due process”. And, “legislation” is not “due process”.

You wanna take my rights away, let’s go to court.

And with regard to due process, the final report with all the facts on Sandy Hook will not likely be issued until this Summer. It was stated clearly in the newspapers. How can any legislation be passed in good faith or good conscience without all the facts?

Again, gun ownership is a constitutional right, but it’s not for everyone. That’s okay, and shouldn’t make gun owners suspects regardless of how many guns they have or how much ammunition they may have.

My guns are not dangerous. They are at home, locked up, collecting dust and cat hair. [Laughter]

But criminals and tyrants — tyrants, especially — BEWARE! “Lock down” is not an option at the Stevens residence. And 911 will be dialed after the security of my home has been established.

Why is that same security my daughter enjoys at home with her dad not available at school in Newtown? That is what you should be considering, not making her dad a criminal.

Charlton Heston made the phrase “from my cold dead hands” famous. And I will tell you this today: You will take my ability to protect my Victoria from my cold dead hands. [Applause]

Mr. Stevens then pounded his fist on the table, closed his laptop and strutted out of the hearing like a boss. And America applauded his audacity to stand up to tyrants and criminals.

UPDATE 2/7: We have been informed that Bill Stevens is not actually a Sandy Hook parent, in fact he has gone out of his way to disabuse several media outlets of this notion. From an update at the bottom of an article at Examiner.com:

Thank you for the nice article about my testimony in Hartford. Unlike the Liberal media who don’t let facts get in the way, I just wanted to let you know that my daughter does not attend Sandy Hook Elementary, but was in “lock down” nonetheless on December 14, 2012 at Reed Intermediate School (5th & 6th grade) about a mile away with her classmates, one of whom lost his little sister that day.

As you’ll note in his testimony, at no time does he claim to be a Sandy Hook parent, instead saying simply that he is from Newtown and had a daughter in a school that was in lockdown.

We have edited the title of the post to reflect this revelation and regret the error. We were just as snookered as everyone else by the wishful thinking of the YouTube video description.

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Big city military drills becoming “normal” across America

Police and military are conducting scary drills that involve firing blanks in schools and downtown areas. ThinkProgress.com reports, “Students at a high school in Illinois experienced a uniquely terrifying school shooting drill on [January 30]. Instead of conducting a regular school lockdown, Cary-Grove High School administrators simulated gunfire by shooting off blanks in the hallways while students locked their classroom doors, pulled the curtains, and hid.” TV stations in Houston & Miami are reporting of military drills that involved military helicopters and gunfire.

In Miami, “a Black Hawk helicopter flew over the [downtown] area. According to Miami Police, it was part of a military drill, simulating an attack in an urban community. Miami was specifically chosen for the simulation.” WSVN-TV in Miami reported, “Police were unable to disclose specifics about what agencies were involved, but they said the drills were done at night for the public’s safety.” Miami Police Commander Delrish Moss said, “the reason they were done at night, and the reason they were done in the later hours is because we are trying to minimize disruption to traffic, minimize safety concerns.” He also said the drills will continue and cites security concerns as the reason for the secrecy.

The drill in Houston involved several agencies taking over an old high school building. KTRK-TV reported (full video), “There were armed men in fatigues, plenty of weapons and what many thought were real live rounds.” Frances Jerrals who lives near the area said, “When you see this, you think the worst. When you hear this, you think the worst. I felt like I was in a warzone.”

Parents of students from the Cary-Grove High School in suburban Chicago received a letter that read, “These drills help our students and staff to be prepared should a crisis occur, but it may cause some students to have an emotional reaction.” Protecting children was viewed as a reason for the drills in Houston as well. Glenn DeWitt from Houston said, “If it’s to protect our kids, I’m all for it.”

I’m reminded of the quote from Benjamin Franklin, “those who would give up essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

I certainly don’t like the idea of military and police conducting drills in populated areas and it disturbs me that more people aren’t outraged!

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ATF/FBI can’t comply with Obama gun control orders due to outdated software…

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