Debate on debates continues

Debate contestants line up for a chance to win the most powerful military machine in the worldThe first presidential candidate debates are right around the corner, and the large number of GOP candidates has inadvertently helped supporters of minor party and independent candidates in the debate on debates. Because there are currently 17 candidates seeking the Republican Presidential nomination, Fox News will hold two debates on August 6. One debate will have either 10 or 11 candidates, and the other debate will have the other GOP hopefuls. Originally Fox said that only candidates polling at least 1% in 5 national polls would be invited, however Fox executives recently said “the requirement that candidates must score 1% or higher in an average of five most recent national polls” was being eliminated. Michael Clemente, Fox News Executive Vice President, said in a statement, “Everyone included in these debates has a chance to be President of the United States and we look forward to showcasing all of the candidates,” though he made sure to include that Fox only intends to showcase all of the candidates “in the first primary event of the 2016 election season.” see more…

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“Drugs minus two” is not good enough

2015-07-26-115708_1366x768_scrotPresident Obama recently made headlines for commuting the sentences of 46 federal drug offenders. That represents less than one half of one percent of the total number of drug offenders in federal prison. During the ceremony Obama said, “in some cases, the punishment required by law far exceeded the offense.” see more…

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Will Iran nuclear deal prevent future war?

Iran-Nuclear-DealAfter what the Washington Post reports as “nearly two years of intense, and largely secret, negotiations,” a deal from the P5+1 was reached last week. Congress now has 60 days to review the deal. Since the negotiations were secret, and details are scant, there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding or outright misinformation about the deal. In saying the deal is the best proposal on the table, reports, “[security hawks will] say that [the deal] won’t prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon — and they’ll be right. They’ll say that it’ll help Iran build its conventional weapons program – and they’ll be right. They’ll say that Iran will never fully honor its word — even as the West lifts sanctions against it, and they’ll probably be right about that too.” see more…

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Officials want to close your access to open records

Government officials often tout the line “if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear” in response to news about one government spy program or another.

However, many of these same officials will do everything in their power, including filing lawsuits, to prevent you from knowing what the government is doing.

The Columbia Journalism Review reports:

In March of this year “Harry Scheeler Jr. sent a request to Hamilton Township [NJ] for surveillance footage of the town-hall and police-department buildings, making the request under the state Open Public Records Act (OPRA) and the state common law right of access to public records.”

“A few weeks later, instead of responding to the request, the township sued Scheeler and asked a local court for relief from any obligation to respond, then or in the future.”

“The township also asked for attorney’s fees.” see more…

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US judge and clerk reactions to increased marriage rules

State Attorneys General issue orders; Probate judges step up; Alabama Clerks quit en mass; Wild polygamists appear; Libertarians decry more rules

marriage equalityWhen the Supreme Court recently ruled that marriage was a fundamental right that could not be denied, I doubt the five Justice majority imagined the fall-out that it would incur.

Just three days after the ruling, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion stating “the Court weakened itself and weakened the rule of law, but did nothing to weaken our resolve to protect religious liberty and return to democratic self-government in the face of judicial activists attempting to tell us how to live.”

Adding, “County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.”

Paxton also warned clerks that refusing to issue marriage licenses may be sued. see more…

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A New Declaration for Independence

Two hundred thirty nine years ago, Americans declared their independence. I’m suggesting that this Saturday we declare it again.

As we celebrate the freedoms already won, let’s celebrate as well our coming freedom from the tyranny of politics as usual and the yoke of corporate infotainment culture. Let’s commit ourselves to becoming a nation of grown-ups, with an eye for accounting, a respect for complexity, and a well-developed sense of humor. It’s time for the emerging libertarian majority to make itself known.

That’s libertarian with a small “l” – an ideal of personal freedom, not a political party. Parties serve their own ends, that’s one reason for the rebellion. We don’t necessarily need new parties, we just need to remind the ones we’ve got who’s boss.

My sense of this libertarian majority is based on no polling. That’s part of its strength, it doesn’t have to be validated by focus groups. Liberty is a founding principle of the country. It’s that simple. If you need anecdotal evidence that people actually want to be free, start listening to the vox populi making itself heard on weblogs (and social media). Or better yet, write a weblog of your own.

I propose that the motto of this movement be the Thoreauvian chestnut, “That government is best which governs least.” Or maybe we should quote Douglas Adams: “We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!”

Whatever. The plan is to legalize almost everything and let adults be adults. see more…

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SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality raises new question

Many people are celebrating the ruling from the US Supreme Court which makes same-sex marriage legal across the country. Some people, like Ted Cruz, say the ruling marks “one of the darkest hours of our nation.” see more…

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SCOTUS rules on free speech

FreeSpeechZoneThe US Supreme Court recently issued two seemingly conflicting rulings on free speech.

Scotusblog reports the Supreme Court “gave state governments sweeping new control over the messages that can be put on auto and truck license plates but restricted governments at all levels from using differing rules to control the messages put on billboards and other outdoor signs.

As a combined result of two new rulings, government both gained added power to speak for itself but faced the loss of some of its power to control what others may say in public displays.

And the meaning of the First Amendment, in general, became somewhat more confusing.” see more…

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Facebook, and free speech on the internet

WCJ-images-SCOTUS-Internet-913x512If you thought you still had free speech on the internet, you might be in for a surprise. A couple of weeks ago the US Supreme Court issued an opinion reversing a lower court’s conviction of a man, Anthony Elonis, who posted violent messages on Facebook. Forbes reports, the majority opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, raised the level of criminality required for conviction of online threatening, “ruling that prosecutors must offer some proof that a defendant made a ‘true threat’ with the intent to hurt a specific individual.” In other words when it comes to online threats, intent matters! Bloomber adds, “The justices didn’t decide whether Elonis’s First Amendment rights were violated, instead interpreting the federal threat statute in a way that averted potential constitutional problems.” see more…

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Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi may win the prize for biggest failure ever. His historic role as the first elected leader of Egypt in thousands of years of history was a disaster. He was kicked out after around a year by a popular coup, as oxymoronic as that may sound. He’s a clown, but that doesn’t mean he should die. Unfortunately that seems very possible. He was sentenced to death on May 16th and his appeal comes up on June 16th. Killing him would be a mistake. This video delves into Turkish and Russian History to show why… see more…

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TSA failures expose security theater

security theaterAt the beginning of the month, Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson announced that acting-TSA chief Melvin Carraway would be reassigned after a report was released showing that the TSA failed 95% of their own tests to detect mock explosives and weapons. These results are dismal but not unexpected, at least to those who have paid attention to previous reports of TSA failures. CNN reports, “ The TSA has been failing these sorts of tests since its inception: failures in 2003, a 91% failure rate at Newark Liberty International in 2006, a 75% failure rate at Los Angeles International in 2007, more failures in 2008. And those are just the public test results.” However, the TSA had attempted to excuse those previous results as not being accurate, because they were tests in a single airport, or “not realistic simulations of terrorist behavior.” see more…


What Really Would Have Happened If The Allies Had Lost World War I?

Back when Americans would not half ass anything. David Frum just published a fascinating article in the Atlantic. When I first saw “What If the Allies Had Lost World War I” I was really excited.

The choice to undertake a counter-factual exercise like this demonstrates exactly the kind of imagination that we need in talking about geopolitics.

So much of what we say and think about foreign policy operates from the assumption that the world has to be the way it is, and opinion only varies between the poles of “The US should be more cautious about exercising its great power” and “The US should be using its great power more strenuously”.

100 years later we are still living out the ramifications of Woodrow Wilson’s decision to take the United States into World War I.

So I was very excited to read this article. I was deeply disappointed. see more…

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Tap into FOMO and Other Psychological Tactics to Increase Voter Turnout…

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FIFA, FATCA and the New World Order

There are hundreds of thousands of people working for the Federal government in many different capacities.

Some work for the military, some work for the IRS, some work for the Department of Justice. There are thousands of departments, programs, and offices. They are all doing very different things, but they are all, wittingly or unwittingly, working towards the same goal: More power for Washington, DC.

If you look at individual agencies, the big picture can be obscured, but if you look at what’s happening in parallel a disturbing picture emerges.

This video does exactly that… see more…

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Rand Paul winning voter support over NSA showdown

Momentum. It’s the watchword of the week for Senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul.

Last night, Senator Paul and a small group of watchful Republicans of a libertarian bent forced the expiration of key provisions of the PATRIOT Act. Specifically, the NSA’s bulk data collection program that bristled privacy advocates. Paul explains in his editorial for USA Today:

Congress will this week force the president to end his illegal collection of all American phone records. This is a victory for defenders of privacy.

The Fourth Amendment requires that government searches be individualized. Collecting all Americans’ phone records all the time indiscriminately is what our Founders fought against when they objected to general warrants.

Some will ask: But how will we catch terrorists without this program? My reply: with the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment allows probing searches as long as the request is for an individual’s records and as long as there is probable cause of a crime.

see more…

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Silk Road sentence sets dangerous precedent

kill SR precedentOn May 29, Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for having created and operated the Silk Road online marketplace. The Silk Road was a revolutionary website because it was a truly free market, where people could buy and sell almost anything, including illicit drugs, false identification documents and even books; however, there was a prohibition on anything that was meant to harm innocent people. see more…

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Sri Lanka and the Power of Elections

We should celebrate Democracy’s successes as well as its failures. Too few people are aware of what happened in Sri Lanka in January. This video attempts to make up for that. see more…

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What the New Economy Has Cost Us

The internet economy offers a lot, but it has also taken some things away. This video takes a look at the pros and cons. see more…

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Ramadi falls, Shocking Washington, DC, and Nobody Else

When the Islamic State took Mosul in June of last year, shock was the appropriate response.

If you hadn’t been following the situation they really did seem to come out of nowhere.

Unfortunately, the people who were supposed to be following the situation were just as shocked. The United States government, having spent 11 years as the most powerful force in the region, and having spent billions of dollars of our money to gather intelligence, missed this development just as completely as the general public did. see more…

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Abolish legalized theft

policing for profitOver the last several years, as the debate about ending the drug war has grown, so has the debate about ending a practice of legal theft known as civil asset forfeiture. Civil asset forfeiture, unlike criminal asset forfeiture, does not require the person ever be charged with or convicted of any offense deemed illegal under either federal or state law. Under federal law, property may be seized based upon probable cause that the property was linked to a crime. The property owner can then challenge the seizure, and must prove to a judge that either the property was not used in connection to a crime, or that he was unaware his property was somehow used in a crime. see more…

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What the Killing in Europe No One Cares About Says About American Empire…

The small city of Kumanovo, Macedonia was the site of a running battle between police and Albanian nationalists last weekend.

The US media can’t find a recognizable enemy so no one cares. They should. It tells us a lot about what happens when Empires fall. This video attempts to address that gap… see more…

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NSA spying ruled illegal; what’s next?

nsa logo - ILLEGALIn some ways, 2013 seems like it was yesterday, and in other ways it seems like 2013 was an eternity ago. On March 12 of that year, the US Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling in the case of Clapper v. Amnesty International USA that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to sue the NSA. Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his opinion, the plaintiffs’ argument that they have the standing to challenge the program was based on a “highly speculative fear.” He also wrote they “have no actual knowledge of the Government’s … targeting practices,” and “can only speculate as to how the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence will exercise their discretion in determining which communications to target.” see more…

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