A Hit Song That Will Make You Equally Ashamed to Be American and Canadian

In June 1973, Canadian DJ Byron
McGregor read this above commentary (written by fellow Great White
Northerner Gordon Sinclair) on a radio station broadcasting out of
Toronto. It
eventually became a massive hit
, peaking at number four on the
Top 40 charts and generating cover versions by Tex Ritter and

Despite not knowing the Canada was America’s
biggest trading partner
, Ronald Reagan praised the track by
name when he made his first trip abroad as president.

Ironically, because it was written and performed by Canadians,
it satisfied Canada’s idiotic (and still in force, even
when it comes to pornography
) rules about airing a certain
amount of domestically produced cultural content.

Without going full Lee Greenwood, I’m very proud to be an
American and I thank my grandparents every day for emigrating here
rather than England or Argentina (the two other likely choices,
given that one side was Irish and the other Italian).

But even on the Fourth of July weekend, perspective is a
wonderful thing. Take it way, Remy, talking about the Veterans
Affairs scandal:

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Gene Healy on the Power of the Presidency

In The Once and Future
, the conservative legal scholar F.H. Buckley argues that
the American presidency, with its vast regulatory and national
security powers, is degenerating into the “elective monarchy”
George Mason warned about at the Philadelphia Convention. Reviewing
the book, Cult of the Presidency author Gene Healy reports
that Buckley makes a depressingly good case.

View this article.

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Small Grocers Now Have to Adhere to LA’s Ridiculous Plastic Bag Ban

On Tuesday, the second wave of Los Angeles’ plastic bag ban

went in to effect
as small grocers are no longer allowed to
offer customers plastic as an option to carry their goods.

While the bag ban passed last year, city officials implemented
the law in phases—on January 1 larger retail chains were prohibited
from carrying the offending plastic bags. Now, smaller retailers
and corner stores will have to follow suit. 

The ban is intended to help the environment, but opponents say
that banning plastic bags will hurt the economy and that paper bags
are actually worse for the environment. 

In 2012, Reason TV’s Kennedy—now a host on the popular Fox
Business show The Independents—went down to LA’s City Hall to ask
council members why they wanted to outlaw plastic bags. “LA Bans
the Plastic Bag,” produced by Zach Weissmueller and Kennedy was
originally released on June 2, 2012. The original writeup is

Plastic bags: faithful transporters of groceries, liners of
wastebaskets, pickers-up of dog crap and inspirers of late nineties
Hollywood screenwriters, now banned from grocery stores by the Los
Angeles City Council. But why?

Reason.tv’s Kennedy paid a visit to LA City Hall to find an
answer to that question. Council members stood by the ban, despite
being confronted with evidence that bag bans have no discernible
effect on the health of the environment and make up less than 1
percent of California’s waste stream.

“When you’re looking at 1 percent, that’s a huge difference,”
says Councilman Alarcon, who voted for the ban. 

Reason contributor Jay Beeber points out that a similar ban in
San Francisco failed to reduce the small number of plastic bags
actually littering the street. 

“This is just feel-good legislation,” says Beeber. “It’s not
going to solve any problems, but it makes people think that we’ve
done something.”

Still, council member Tom LaBonge feels that he served his
district well by outlawing plastic bags at grocery stores.

“That one percent [of plastic bags in the waste stream] pollutes
the river,” says LaBonge. “You want to go out to the river with me?
I’ll show it to you.”

Approximately 4:43 minutes.

Interviews by Kennedy. Shot and edited by Zach Weissmueller.

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Baylen Linnekin on the NYC Soda Ban’s Well-Deserved Defeat

SodaLast week, the New York State Court of
Appeals—the state’s highest court—dealt a final death
 to New York City’s reviled soda ban. The decision,
which upheld two lower court rulings, drew an important line in the
sand across which New York City’s activist health department may no
longer cross.

Though the majority decision largely reiterates the strong
denunciation by the lower courts of New York City’s soda ban, the
dissenting opinion issued by the court last week is worth a look
for the unprecedented lengths it goes in a failed attempt to
justify and uphold the soda ban, writes Baylen Linnekin.

To do so, the dissent, authored by Judge Susan P. Read, argues
that rules adopted by the city health department are on par with
state law.

“If a regulation promulgated by the Board in the Health Code
conflicts in some direct way with a local law, the Board’s action
trumps the [City] Council’s,” she writes.

That’s downright chilling. Under that interpretation, the health
department would have the authority to mandate any number of
health-related rules by which city residents must abide. The health
department could, for example, mandate early bedtimes for New York
City residents. The city never sleeps? It does now. And the city
council would be completely powerless to do anything about it,
writes Linnekin.

View this article.

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Texas Celebrates Fourth of July By Ousting Corrupt UT Austin President

UTA major
shakeup is coming to the University of Texas at Austin. President
Bill Powers, who is believed to be involved in an admissions
scandal, was given an ultimatum: resign by the next regents’
meeting or be fired.

According to The Houston Chronicle, Powers has
not yet accepted
the offer:

UT System Chancellor Francisco
 asked Powers to resign before the regents meet
again July 10, or be fired at the meeting, the source said. Powers
told Cigarroa he will not resign, at least not under the terms that
the chancellor laid out Friday. Powers told Cigarroa he would be
open to discussing a timeline for his exit, the source said.

Powers’ ouster follows the opening of an investigation into UT
Law School. Numerous media outlets have reported that the law
school was admitting vast numbers of unqualified students who had
political connections. Powers was formerly dean of the law

The scandal may have remained unknown to the public if not for a
personal investigation undertaken by UT Regent Wallace Hall, who
filed numerous public records requests after coming across some
suspicious documents. Powers’ allies in the legislature retaliated
by attempting to impeach Hall, though the motion was tabled by a
legislative subcommittee.

The sudden downfall of Powers is a
stunning vindication
of the efforts of Hall and Texas
Watchdog.org’s Jon Cassidy, who provided an analysis of UT
admissions that corroborated Hall’s findings.

Thankfully, it looks like corrupt college administrators will no
longer be able to keep the extent of their wrongdoing a secret from
the public.

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Sheldon Richman on Why the Hobby Lobby Decision Doesn’t Go Far Enough

As far as
it went, the Supreme Court generally got it right in the Hobby
Lobby Obamacare contraception case. Unfortunately it didn’t go
nearly far enough. The court ruled that “closely held corporations”
whose owners have religious convictions against certain kinds of
contraceptives cannot be forced to pay for employee coverage for
those products. Sheldon Richman writes that he wishes the court
could have addressed the idea that no one has a right to force
others to pay for their contraception or anything else and that
everyone has a right to refuse to pay if asked.

View this article.

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Maureen Dowd’s Marijuana Edibles Problem—and Mine

It has
been six months since Colorado’s state-licensed pot shops started
opening, and in the absence of any noticeable catastrophe critics
recently have been highlighting the special hazards posed by
marijuana edibles. In my latest Forbes column, I
argue that the solution to the risk of accidental overindulgence
lies in variety and information, rather than arbitrary limits. Here
is how it starts:

During a recent trip to Colorado, I sat on the cold hard floor
of my hotel bathroom in the middle of the night, thinking about
Maureen Dowd. The New York Times columnist had
been widely mocked for eating too much marijuana-infused chocolate,
which left her “curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next
eight hours.” And not in a good way. “I was panting and paranoid,
sure that when the room-service waiter knocked and I didn’t answer,
he’d call the police and have me arrested for being unable to
handle my candy,” Dowd wrote last month. “I strained to
remember where I was or even what I was wearing, touching my green
corduroy jeans and staring at the exposed-brick wall. As my
paranoia deepened, I became convinced that I had died and no one
was telling me.”

My own marijuana overdose was not nearly so dramatic. But I
clearly had eaten one sour gummy candy too many. When I got up from
bed to use the bathroom shortly after midnight, I was so dizzy that
I had to sit down. I sat/fell hard enough to leave an
impressive-looking bruise on my lower back. I know because during
my massage with cannabis-infused lotion a few days later
the masseuse remarked on it, which prompted me to tell her the
whole embarrassing story, the moral of which is that edibles are
indeed tricky, but consumers are not quite as helpless as Dowd
portrays them.

Read the whole thing

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Steven Greenhut Asks Why California Won’t Release Innocent Men from Prison

California Gov. Jerry Brown and the state
legislature have been cutting down on prison
overcrowding to comply with a federal court order, thus
leading to a “realignment” policy that moves inmates from state-run
prisons to county jails and a policy that may result in
some early releases. Whatever one thinks of the governor’s handling
of this matter, it’s hard to understand why he hasn’t pursued his
prison-reduction efforts by harvesting some low-hanging fruit –
i.e., releasing from prison those inmates who almost certainly are
not guilty of the crimes for which they’ve been convicted. The
governor, after all, has the power to grant clemency and pardons.
Why not act on the evidence surrounding the
so-called California 12? After all, explains Steven Greenhut,
11 of them have secured their exoneration.

View this article.

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Viva PorcFest and the Free State Project! Now With More Ice Cream!

Updated July 4, 2014, 11:00am (see below)

Last weekend, I traveled to speak and hang out at the Free State Project‘s annual
hootenany, which is called PorcFest (short for Porcupine Freedom
Festival). It was a great and excellent time and I hope to write up
something about in the next few days.

a nice writeup
of the event and the FSP by The
‘s Emily Bobrow:

In the jovial atmosphere of PorcFest, where idealists bond over
their shared mistrust of rules and big institutions, the prospect
of a future New Hampshire that can do without such things seems
far-fetched. Tech geeks (who still dominate the Free State
movement) enjoy home-made “bananarchy” ice cream while prattling on
about the power of crypto-currencies. “Bitcoin can topple
governments and end war,” gushes one fan.

Others are more realistic. “I’m an incrementalist,” explains
Jason Sorens, the subdued intellectual who dreamed up the Free
State Project while he was getting his PhD from Yale. Now a
lecturer at Dartmouth College in Hanover, he is eager to use New
Hampshire to test libertarian theories about enlightened
self-interest and reciprocal altruism, small government and large
networks of voluntary institutions. “We don’t have all the
answers,” he says, “but it’s worth the experiment.”

The “Bananarchy” ice cream was pretty damn fine, btw, but even
better was the “Who Will Build My Rocky Road.”

Read the whole thing.

Here’s an account by C.J. Ciaramella of the
Washington Free Beacon.
A snippet:

For a first-timer at Porcfest, walking through crowds of armed
anarchists and clouds of marijuana smoke is like sneaking into an
R-rated movie when you’re a kid—a world only hinted at is suddenly
right before your eyes.

As keynote speaker and libertarian activist Nick Gillespie would
tell the crowd later in the week, “You’re a demonstration project
for what it’s like to live in a way that’s less uptight.”…

At Porcfest, 1,500 heavily armed libertarians, tea partiers,
anarchists, secessionists, and doomsday preppers got together in
the woods for a week with a large amount of alcohol, illicit
substances, and children, and no major incidents were reported. I
did not see a fight, or even a hullaballoo. A couple of kids were
separated and reunited with their parents. A topless woman was
asked to put a shirt on after several complaints and complied,
despite the statist encroachment on her individualism. One guy
couldn’t handle his hallucinogens and got stuck in the bathroom
repeating over and over, “I am a god. I am logic. I am a perfect
machine. I am forever.” The volunteer security eventually got him
back to his tent. The peace was kept.

I plan on going back to Porcfest next year—if they’ll have me
back after the publication of this article—not because I’m an
anarcho-capitalist, but because I made a bunch of friends and had a

Read the whole thing.

In my experience, PorcFest wasn’t so trippy, though it was a
delight on every possible level, especially intellectually, where
the speakers across the board were smart and engaged with the
audiece. Buzz’s Big Gay Dance Party was great, too, featuring
wonderful music, dancing, and come-as-you-are attitude that the
world always needs more of.

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Joe Donatelli Apologizes for Being Fat, Costing You More for Health Care

On behalf of everyone who’s
ever put Doritos on their sandwich for extra crunch or drunken
copious amounts of beer out of a lawn ornament while tailgating,
Joe Donatelli would like to say, “I’m sorry.” With no chance of
repeal or reform of Obamacare anytime soon, our personal health and
finances are more closely intertwined than ever. Many of us are
simply not up for this massive responsibility. Donatelli explains
that the federal government claims $147
billion in annual medical spending is attributable to obese
people like himself. To give you an idea of how much money that is,
the gross domestic product of Bangladesh is $140 billion, meaning
that America is detrimentally fatter than the people of Bangladesh
(pop. 154 million) are productive.

View this article.

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