June 22nd, 2014

Cathy Young on California's Absurd, Dangerous Meddling in College Sex


With all the other drama in the news, the likely passage of a California law ostensibly targeting sexual assault on college campuses—approved by the state Senate on May 29 and by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on June 18—has gone largely unnoticed. Yet the bill deserves attention as an alarming example of creeping Big-Sisterism that seeks to legislate "correct" sex. Cathy Young takes note that while its reach affects only college students so far, the precedent is a dangerous and potentially far-reaching one.

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Krist Novoselic’s Alternative Politics


"Krist Novoselic’s Alternative Politics," produced by Nick Gillespie and Meredith Bragg. 55 minutes.

Watch above or click the link below for full transcript, links, and more. 

Original release date was June 19, 2014. Original writeup is below.

Krist Novoselic is best known as the co-founder and bassist of Nirvana, one of the most influential music groups of the past quarter century. The release of the band’s albums Bleach, Nevermind, and In Uteronot only mainstreamed what became known as grunge but helped to forever end what was once known as the mainstream. After Nirvana it seems there is only alternative music and alternative culture, a transformation that is both liberating and anxiety-producing.

Born in 1965 in Compton, California, but raised in Aberdeen, Washington, Novoselic (pronounced know-voe-selitch) embodies the forces Nirvana helped to unleash. Since the 1994 suicide of band leader Kurt Cobain, Novoselic has continued to play with various groups, including a stint with the legendary post-punk band Flipper and sporadic collaborations with former Nirvana bandmate Dave Grohl. But the bass player is also pushing to create an alternative approach to electoral politics.

In 2004, Novoselic published Of Grunge and Government: Let’s Fix This Broken Democracy (Akashic), and these days he’s chairman of FairVote, a nonprofit that lobbies for electoral reform such as instant runoffs and proportional voting. After serving as chairman of his county Democratic committee for several years and supporting Barack Obama early on, he has broken with the Democratic Party, in part because “it’s a top-down structure” impervious to change from the grassroots.

Like Nirvana’s music, Novoselic’s politics cannot be easily categorized: He has donated money over the years to Ron Paul’s campaigns, and he speaks in favor of the liberal-loathed Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which ended limits on non-coordinated political spending by corporations in federal elections. He’s active in his local chapter of the fraternal farmer’s organization, the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, proving you can go from grunge to Grange.

Novoselic spoke to Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie in May.

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Jeffrey Rogers Hummel on the Panic of 1837


needs more labelsIn May 1837, a major financial crisis engulfed America's approximately 800 banks, with all but six ceasing to redeem their banknotes and deposits for specie (gold or silver coins). This was followed by a short but sharp depression, constituting only the second manifestation of the modern business cycle in the country's history up to that point. The panic had been preceded by President Andrew Jackson's famous "Bank War," in which the Second Bank of the United States lost its exclusive charter from the national government. It was followed by vociferous political disputes about the monetary system, and by a prolonged price deflation that began in 1839 and didn't end until 1844.

Historians and economists continue to explore the panic's causes and consequences, a question made all the more relevant by the financial crisis of 2007-08. Now the University of New Hampshire historian Jessica M. Lepler has entered the fray with The Many Panics of 1837: People, Politics, and the Creation of a Transatlantic Financial Crisis, based on her award-winning Brandeis doctoral dissertation. Lepler's book, writes Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, is a social and business micro-history confined to the events leading up to and culminating in the bank suspension, a work of great detail and mixed quality.

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Even at the VA Your Federal Bureaucrats Are Stellar Enough for Government Work


but especially to take care of those who care enough to do public service and get paid well for itDefenses of public sector salaries often rest on the idea that better pay attracts better candidates, while low turnover is chalked up to government workers being so good at their job nobody gets fired or wants to leave. The low turnover, of course, can also be attributed to union protections, and even in the absence of a public union governments often have stricter rules on managing employees than the private sector. It's difficult to compare or even gauge job performance, too, as so many government jobs don't have an equivalent in the public sector, while government employees often get stellar reviews from government supervisors.

For example, The New York Times reports that in the last four years, each of 470 senior executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs  (VA) was reviewed as being "fully successful" (or better!) in their jobs, this while the department's employees were actively covering up criminal negligence in veterans' healthcare. The Times reports:

The data also showed that in 2013, nearly 80 percent of the senior executives were rated either "outstanding" or as having exceeded "fully successful" in their job performance, and that at least 65 percent of the executives received performance awards, which averaged around $9,000. Only about 20 percent received the middle of the five ratings.

Veterans Affairs officials sought to play down the data, saying that only 15 senior executives across the federal government had received either of the two lowest ratings in the most recent year

That someone paid to spin things to the media would really think pointing out that every supervisor in the federal government gets a good review would help illustrates how disconnected from reality federal employees have become. Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising though, given the Obama administration's insistence that the scandals they're embroiled in are fake and the willingness of Obama apologists to eat that narrative up.

The data The Times quotes came out in testimony by a VA assistant secretary last week who defended the system of performance bonuses by saying it was needed to retain talent—as lawmakers pointed out, there wasn't a mass exodus from the department after bonuses were suspended. Her testimony also revealed that the outstanding performance reviews are likely written by the people being reviewed. Government's just that good.

h/t Irish and Dances-With-Trolls

Richard J. Miller on Why Morphine Matters


Richard J. MillerRichard J. Miller is a professor of pharmacology at Northwestern University and author of the new book Drugged: The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs (Oxford University Press), in which he argues that morphine is the most significant chemical substance our species has ever encountered. In April, Miller told Reason three reasons why he believes this is true.

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Pope Condemns Marijuana & a Rabbi Wants to Sell it


Last Friday Pope Francis denounced the growing movement to legalize drugs like marijuana, saying "to think that harm can be reduced by permitting drug addicts to use narcotics in no way resolves the problem." But not all religious leaders see marijuana as dangerous, some are actively trying to sell it.

Reason TV interviewed Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn last year about his mission to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Washington D.C.

"Rabbi Fights Feds to Open Pot Shop" originally aired on May 7, 2013.  The original text is below:

"[The federal government] should know who is a pot dealer and who is not. For them to pretend otherwise is ridiculous," says Rabbi Jeffrey Kahn. Kahn, an ordained rabbi who has served congregations for over 30 years, is opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Washington, D.C. this summer alongside his wife. Kahn says the federal government has made it impossible for him to get a bank account for his small business. 

Medical marijuana is legal in D.C. and 18 states, but it's still illegal under federal law. This means that even though Kahn is abiding by D.C. law, banks won't work with his business for fear of losing FDIC protection--or worse. Kahn says he has not been able to open a bank account with any financial institution. If he is forced to be a cash-only business, he will be more vulnerable to crime and IRS auditing.  

About 4 minutes.

Produced by Amanda Winkler. Shot by Todd Krainin and Winkler. Narrated by Krainin. Additional help by Joshua Swain. 

Scroll down for downloadable versions and subscribe to Reason TV's YouTube Channel to receive notifications when new material goes live.

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Virginia's DMV Joins the Regulatory Crackdown Against Uber and Lyft


Feeling left out of the booming (and unregulated) peer-to-peer economy, Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles commissioner Richard D. Holcomb sent a cease and desist letter to Uber and Lyft "... until [they] obtain proper authority.”

The DMV's authority of course.

Perhaps if Holcomb took a ride with Chelsea Spade in neighboring Washington, D.C. he'd see why Virginian passengers like the convince and flexibility that comes with ride-sharing.

"Woman With a Car vs. Washington D.C.'s Taxi Cartel" originally aired on May 13, 2014.  

The original text is below:

Chelsea Spade, 27, is earning her master's degree in social work, but to make ends meet she’s working as a part-time cab driver in Washington, D.C., through a company called Lyft. But Chelsea isn’t like most D.C. taxi drivers.

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