Tonight on The Independents: Ask a Communist, Party Panelists Amy Holmes and Rick Ungar, and Judge Napolitano Returns!

Tonight on the show, Judge
Napolitano talks about how to get in big trouble for singing in
German (hint: it’s not the way you think!) and that time George
Washington decapitated some dudes.

Also on tonight’s episode of The
 (Fox Business Network, 9 p.m. ET, 6 p.m.
PT, repeats three and five hours later) Amy Holmes and Rick
Ungar join our party panel. And we Ask a Communist with Jesse

Follow The Independents on Facebook
follow on Twitter @ independentsFBN, and
click on this
 for more video of past segments.

from Hit & Run

Nathaniel Branden, R.I.P.

Nathaniel Branden, the man who turned Ayn Rand’s Objectivist
philosophy into a popular intellectual movement, died today at age

He and Rand famously broke over complications involving a
long-term affair of theirs that ended badly in 1968; the tale is
told at length from his perspective in his memoir—the most recent
edition called
My Years with Ayn Rand
and interestingly, from his ex-wife
Barbara Branden’s perspective in her 1986 Rand biography,

The Passion of Ayn Rand

After the break with Rand in 1968, Branden had his own highly
successful career as a hugely popular writer on psychology, and he
is a pioneer of the vital importance
of “self-esteem”
in modern culture.

Unlike the way the concept has been denatured over the decades,
Branden, still Objectivist at heart, wrote with the understanding
that creating a worthwhile and valuable life from the perspective
of your own values was key to self-esteem, and thus to
psychological health. That is, self-esteem wasn’t something that
should be a natural given to a human, nor our birthright, but
something to be won through clear-eyed understanding of our own
emotions and their sources, and our values and how to pursue

Branden was vital to the spread of Rand’s ideas in two distinct
junctures: by creating and publicizing the ideas inherent in her
fiction through nonfiction and lectures via the Nathaniel Branden
Institute in its lectures and magazines from 1958 to 1968 (a task
Rand would almost certainly not have attempted without his prodding
and aid).

Then, after Rand broke from him and all “official” Objectivists
were required to revile him, Branden was a living example that
intelligent admiration for and advocacy of Rand’s ideas need not be
tied in with thoughtless fealty to Rand as a person, or to the
pronouncements of those who controlled her estate, with all the
attendant flaws and occasional irrationality: that one need not be
an official Randian to spread the best of Objectivism. As late as
2010, Branden published
print versions
of his NBI lectures helping systematize her
ideas under the title
The Vision of Ayn Rand

Branden was a friend to Reason over the years. An
interview he
to the magazine back in 1971 was
vital in breaking
the then very-small-circulation publication
up into the thousands in circulation.

He was helpful and giving with information when I
researched my 2007 book on the history of the American libertarian
movement, of which he was such a major figure,

Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern
American Libertarian Movement
He maintained an
interest and enthusiasm for libertarian and

Objectivist ideas til the end. And as he
told me once, to the extent that a libertarian society requires
self-realized, self-responsible people–and he believed it did–he
considered his work in psychology to be an extension of his
interest in political liberty.

Branden’s friend Jim Peron
eulogizes him at

Huffington Post

A Reason TV interview with Branden from 2009:

from Hit & Run

WATCH: Eric Garner Protesters Stage “Die-In” at Grand Central Station

Two hours after a Staten Island grand jury announced
that no
charges would be great against NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the
death of Eric Garner
, about 20 protesters staged a “die-in” in
the middle of the Grand Central Station terminal

The protest lasted about an hour, but broke up as demonstrators
left to join other protests nearby in Times Square and Rockefeller

About 1 minute. 

Edited by Anthony L. Fisher. Shot by Jim Epstein.

View this article.

from Hit & Run

Support Reason…and Commit a Crime Against Nature!

Here we are, closing out the second
day of Reason’s 2014
Thanks to all the folks who have already given—and a
pox upon those who have yet to drop some coins (gold, bit, what
have you) into the hat.

Reason magazine,, and Reason TV are
all published by the nonprofit Reason
and we’re looking for $200,000 in (tax-deductible!)
donations to support our journalism in 2015.

In all of our work and across each of our platforms, Reason
promotes libertarian approaches to politics, culture, and ideas. We
believe in “Free Minds and Free Markets,” that economic and civil
liberties are indivisible, and that increasing individual autonomy,
choice, and responsibility is a good thing.

We believe in open borders (for people as well as goods),
deregulated markets (and no bailouts for banks or automakers),
school choice, drug legalization, sound science, religious freedom,
and pluralism. And if you can believe it, we kind of insist on
equal treatment of people under the law.

All of which apparently doesn’t just make us an enemy of the
state but of evolution (which we believe in,

Writing in Sunday’s New York Times, University of
Illinois at Chicago anthropologist John Terrell

The sanctification of the rights of individuals and their
liberties today by libertarians and Tea Party conservatives is
contrary to our evolved human nature as social animals. There was
never a time in history before civil society when we were each
totally free to do whatever we elected to do. We have always been
social and caring creatures. The thought that it is both rational
and natural for each of us to care only for ourselves, our own
preservation, and our own achievements is a treacherous
fabrication. This is not how we got to be the kind of species we
are today. 

You got that? We libertarians
are not just a little odd but are actual, honest-to-god freaks of
Nature (Hi, Mom)!

And to make things even worse, the good professor—who curiously
quotes not a single line, word, or punctuation mark from a
libertarian in his essay—rubs our nose in the fact that
“self-described libertarians generally also pride themselves on
their high valuation of logic and reasoning over emotion.” What is
it that Dr. Smith used to say on Lost in Space? “Oh the
pain! The pain!”

I can’t speak for “Tea Party conservatives” and wouldn’t dare to
speak for the rest of my colleagues at Reason, much less the
heterodox, rag-tag crew of glorious, crazy bastards collected under
any and all definitions of the term libertarian. But this
sort of smug, fact-free, ahistorical, and just plain dumb dismissal
of libertarianism is yet one more thing we’re fighting
here at Reason. Add it to the list that includes such me-me-me
concerns that we cover frequently such as sentencing reform,
occupational licensing hassles, marriage equality, and
eminent-domain abuse.

A simple scroll through today’s
articles at suggests just how out-to-lunch Terrell’s
brand of criticism is. There’s all those goddamn stories about how
the NYPD cop who placed Eric Garner in a lethal
chokehold wasn’t indicted by a grand jury. You know why?
Because we just don’t fucking care about other people, that’s
And then there’s that interview with anti-Putin activist
and former World Chess Champion
Garry Kasparov
. Could we have been thinking that the
experiences of people living under past and current repressive
regimes might be of interest? Nah, come on already!

And that story about how
some conservatives are rethinking their support for the death
. You know, that story simply can’t exist because as
Professor Terrell wrote, we care “only for ourselves, our own
preservation, and our own achievements.” Don’t believe your
eyes—also a product of evolution, come to think of it—when you
stumble across Reason stories and videos that talk about the lives
of others and the communities they build when they are given more
freedom to choose for themselves where to live, what to eat, whom
to love.

Founded in 1968, Reason does indeed
try to bring “logic and reasoning” to discussions of public policy.
That’s not because we think we stand apart from evolution or civil
society or other humans or because unlike the rest of you looters
and moochers, we paid full-market rent in the womb and breast-fed
ourselves as babies. No, it’s precisely because we’re human.
Rationality is every bit as much a part of evolution as is emotion,
I’d wager. And contra Terrell, we emphasize that part of being
human is being fallible and epistemologically limited. One of the
biggest problems the world has always faced is the surplus of folks
who think they have indeed got everything figured out. Beware the
man with a plan so perfect that he needn’t convince you of its
wisdom but instead just bullies or coerces you into doing what he
thinks is best. But if you do insist on using emotion to forge
public policy, I’ve got some Salem Witchcraft Trials,
Japanese-American Internments, and Ritual Satanic Child Abuse
Panics I can show you.

If wanting to inform public policy with, uh, rational discourse
makes us freaks, then all I can say, with apologies to the
, is we accept you, we accept you.

So if you are able and willing to donate to our 2014
, you’ll not only help us reach our goal of $200,000
(and get some
cool swag in the deal
), you’ll be committing an honest-to-god
crime against Nature!

from Hit & Run

Why Bill De Blasio’s Comments on Eric Garner Grand Jury Decision Are Full of Shit

De Blasio et alHere’s
what Bill de Blasio, New York City’s Democratic mayor, said today
about the grand jury decision not to indict the cop who put Eric
Garner in a fatal chokehold:

These goals – of bringing police and community closer together
and changing the culture of law enforcement — are why we have
introduced so many reforms this year.  It starts at the top
with Commissioner Bratton – a strong, proven change agent. We
have dramatically reduced the overuse and abuse of stop-and-frisk.
We have initiated a comprehensive plan to retrain the entire NYPD
to reduce the use of excessive force and to work with the
community. We have changed our marijuana policy to reduce
low-level arrests, and we have launched a new pilot program for
body cameras for officers to improve transparency and

You can read the rest of his bloviating
. Keep in mind de Blasio is not a community organizer or
even a council man, he is the mayor of New York City, the chief
executive of the municipal government. In days gone by, you could
say the buck “stopped with him.”

Bill Bratton, the NYPD commissioner, was also a commissioner
during the tenure of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a very different kind
of “change agent” than the kind needed to bring about police
reforms. As for body cameras—if the NYPD has the resources to
deploy plainclothes officers on Staten Island that keep an eye out
for loose cigarettes, it surely has the resources to put a body
camera on every cop.

More specifically, however, de Blasio has already rejected the
kind of reforms that would substantively improve police-community
relations—changes that would roll back New York City’s nanny state
and the laws that bring cops into often contentious interactions
with residents, over things like loose, untaxed cigarettes,

barbecuing in front of the house
, or, yes,
possession of a little bit of marijuana

From my column on de Blasio’s comments in the
wake of Eric Garner’s death

In a press
 this week New York City’s progressive mayor,
Democrat Bill de Blasio, insisted the police department would
continue to “strictly enforce” such laws as the ones that led to
the series of controversial police interactions. “The law is the
law,” the mayor said. These kinds of laws, however,
disproportionately affect the same kind of people—the poor and
marginalized—that De Blasio and his ideological fellow-travelers
adamantly claim to defend. Absent brutal encounters with police
violations of petty laws can
 to thousands of dollars in fines, multiple court
appearances, and even jail time. What amounts to a “minor
inconvenience” in the eyes of the privileged political class that
pushes these laws can have profound negative effects on the lives
of normal people. Coupled with the threat of bodily harm or even
death during the initial police encounter, such “petty” crimes
become anything but for the people the government targets in its
enforcement efforts.

At the same press conference, meanwhile, de Blasio’s “agent of
change,” Bratton, insisted New York City residents “correct their
behavior” when being approached by cops, explaining that that’s
what democracy was. 

Reason is your voice in debates about
politics, culture, and ideas. Our annual Webathon is underway and
your tax-deductible gift will help us fight against big government,
crony capitalism, the drug war, and so much more. For details
on giving levels and swag, go here

from Hit & Run

Man Arrested for Holding a Banana

Not only is it not polite to point,
it may get you a criminal record. Mesa County, Colorado, resident
Nathan Channing, 27, was recently arrested for holding a banana, which police
mistook for a gun, and allegedly pointing it at them. 

Channing told deputies he was doing a trial run for a YouTube
video. “It’s a banana!” Channing shouted as deputies drew their

Still, deputies approached the fruit with caution. There
were no cameras in the vicinity to suggest a YouTube video,
they said.

“A lot of time it’s how someone behaves and treats an object,
depends on whether or not that object is actually dangerous or is a
weapon,” a sheriff’s office spokesman said. He said the banana
could have been a firearm in disguise.

“It this case, it turned out to just be a banana,” he noted.

Shocking! What with the massive prevalence of faux-fruit
firearms out there and all.. 

Though Channing initially faced two felony menacing charges, the
DA’s office has oh-so-magnanimously decided to lessen the charge to
obstructing a peace officer, a misdemeanor. “I decided while Mr.
Channing’s conduct was felony stupid, it didn’t really deserve a
felony charge,” Mesa County District Attorney Pete
Hautzinger told KREX.

(Obligatory note of approval/mild surprise that, hey, at least
Channing wasn’t shot.) 

from Hit & Run

Cop Who Killed Tamir Rice Was Previously Kicked off Force for ‘Dismal’ Gun Performance, Emotional Instability

Tamir RiceTimothy Loehmann,
the Cleveland police officer
who shot and killed
12-year-old Tamir Rice within two seconds
of encountering the boy, was deemed “unfit for duty” while serving
on another police force. Supervisors specifically cited his
“dismal” handgun performance and emotional instability when they
forced him to resign in December 2012.

Loehmann was previously employed by the City of Independence.
During a training exercise at a gun range, he became “distracted
and weepy,” according to information obtained by
The Guardian

Officer Timothy Loehmann, who killed Tamir Rice on 22 November,
was specifically faulted for breaking down emotionally while
handling a live gun. During a training episode at a firing range,
Loehmann was reported to be “distracted and weepy” and
incommunicative. “His handgun performance was dismal,” deputy chief
Jim Polak of the Independence, Ohio, police
department wrote in an internal memo.

The memo concludes with a recommendation that Loehmann be
“released from the employment of the City of Independence”. Less
than a week later, on 3 December 2012, Loehmann resigned.

Loehmann was hired by Cleveland PD in March of this year. It
isn’t clear whether the department knew about his previous
struggles. If it didn’t, then apparently his background check was
neglected. If it did—and hired him anyway—that’s even more

Rice was killed while playing with a fake gun at the park. The
toy’s orange cap had been removed, rendering it impossible to
distinguish from a real gun. Even so, the 911 caller who alerted
the authorities told them that the boy he spied playing with a
weapon was probably carrying a fake. It’s not clear whether
Loehmann was given that information; the police union has said that
he wasn’t.

video surveillance
shows Loehmann drive up to Rice and kill him
within two seconds.

The shooting is an outrage, even if Loehmann had an impeccable
record. But this latest news does make it worse, and shows that the
department deserves some blame.

from Hit & Run

NYPD Chief Bratton Uses Unfortunate Metaphor of ‘Breathing Room’ to Describe How Cops Could Handle Garner Protests

If a miscarriage of justice over a police officer choking Eric
Garner to death after he isn’t properly deferential when being
approached over suspicion of the possibility of selling untaxed
cigararettes, in which Garner’s famous last words, over and over,
were “I can’t breathe,” results in the possibility of public
protests, what will the New York Police Department do?

according to NYPD Chief Bratton

“If they engage in criminal activity, such as vandalism—actual
crime—they will be arrested, quite simply,” he said. “But we have
the ability to have a level of tolerance—breathing room, if you
will,” Bratton said.

Now, there is no way this was a deliberate reference to Garner’s
final words as a cop killed him—it just couldn’t be, no one’s that
big a jerk.

But this unfortunate choice of words under the circumstances
points up something Bratton needs to inculcate in his officers down
the line: Potentially deadly force might be justified in preventing
harm to citizens’ lives or property.

It should not be a mere tool of enforcing obediance in a
situation that involves none of those things. Police not only
should have “breathing room” to not enforce the law to the letter
and with utmost force—they should understand that it is never
appropriate to do so when it involves potentially deadly force over
matters not related to protecting lives or property.

It’s nice that speaking colloquially, even Bratton understands
the difference between “actual crime” and just not obeying officers

Especially in the unfortunate world we live in when there are
laws the police are expected to enforce over selling cigarettes
without giving the government a cut.

Reason on
. Do note we were on this and outraged about it
from the start

Reason is your voice in debates about
politics, culture, and ideas. Our annual Webathon is underway and
your tax-deductible gift will help us fight against big government,
crony capitalism, the drug war, and so much more. For details
on giving levels and swag, go here

from Hit & Run

Loss of Trust in Government Leads to Power Swings

Trust in Government infographic

Reason’s annual Webathon is underway! Your
(tax-deductible!) gift will
Reason magazine,,
and Reason TV bring the case for “Free Minds and Free Markets” to
bigger and bigger audiences. For giving levels and associated
here now

from Hit & Run

Eric Garner’s Killer Evades Indictment, Cops Not Actually Investigating UVA Rape Allegations Yet, ‘Gangnam Style’ Breaks the Youtube: P.M. Links

  • Gangnam StyleA grand jury
    to indict the NYPD officer who put single-cigarette
    salesman Eric Garner in a chokehold, leading to the man’s death.
    Though a coroner had ruled the death a homicide, it’s not obvious
    what kind of charges prosecutors asked the jury to consider.
  • The University of Virginia gang rape story published by
    Rolling Stone is now facing all kinds of criticism. But it
    seems the local police aren’t actually
    doing much
    about it yet.
  • Denver high school students
    walked out of class
    to protest Ferguson.
  • The appointment of soap opera producer Colleen Bradley Bell to
    be U.S. ambassador to Hungary has annoyed a lot of people,
    including Reason’s favorite curmudgeon,
    John McCain
  • “Gangnam Style”
    just broke
    Youtube’s view counter. Let’s all do the dance in
  • Will Hillary run? Politico says
    it’s not clear
    , and an announcement might be a long way

Reason’s annual Webathon is underway! Your
(tax-deductible!) gift will
Reason magazine,, and Reason TV bring the case for “Free Minds and Free
Markets” to bigger and bigger audiences. For giving levels and
associated swag, go
here now

from Hit & Run