Chris Christie Created a Massive Traffic Jam on World's Busiest Bridge to Get Back at a Democrat Who Wouldn’t Endorse Him, Private E-Mails Among Government Officials Suggest

jam?New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may be more
ready to be president than advertised. Christie had previously
denied his office had anything to do with a massive traffic jam in
Fort Lee caused by a lane closure on the George Washington Bridge,
the world’s busiest, assigning responsibility to a “traffic study,”
but now emails sent from and to the personal accounts of various
Christie officials in Trenton and the Port Authority
suggest
the lane closures were, indeed, retaliation. Fort Lee’s
Democrat mayor had previously declined to endorse Christie’s
re-election bid, unlike the forty-plus other local New Jersey
Democrats
who did
. The endorsements helped Christie secure a landslide
victory he will likely try to parlay into political capital for the
2016 presidential election.

The Bergen Record
breaks the story
:

The messages [obtained by the Record] are replete with
references and insults to Fort Lee’s mayor, who had failed to
endorse Christie for re-election and they chronicle how local
officials tried to reach the Port Authority in a vain effort to
eliminate the paralyzing gridlock that overwhelmed his town of
35,000, which sits in the shadow of the bridge, the world’s
busiest…
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne
Kelly, one of three deputies on Christie’s senior staff, wrote to
David Wildstein, a top Christie executive at the Port Authority, on
Aug. 13, about three weeks before the closures. Wildstein, the
official who ordered the closures and who resigned last month amid
the escalating scandal, wrote back: “Got it.”

Read the e-mails, via the Record,
here
(pdf).

Fort Lee’s mayor, Mark Sokolich, told the Wall Street
Journal
he was now convinced he was being retaliated
against: “This is the behavior of a bully in a schoolyard. It
is the greatest example of political payback.” The Journal
also notes Sokolich is of Croatian ancestry even though one
Christie official referred to him as a “little Serbian” in a
message.

Christie is the leader some establishment Republicans,
and at least one Obama campaign official
, say their party
needs.

More Reason on Christie here.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/chris-christie-created-a-massive-traffic
via IFTTT

Chris Christie Created a Massive Traffic Jam on World’s Busiest Bridge to Get Back at a Democrat Who Wouldn’t Endorse Him, Private E-Mails Among Government Officials Suggest

jam?New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may be more
ready to be president than advertised. Christie had previously
denied his office had anything to do with a massive traffic jam in
Fort Lee caused by a lane closure on the George Washington Bridge,
the world’s busiest, assigning responsibility to a “traffic study,”
but now emails sent from and to the personal accounts of various
Christie officials in Trenton and the Port Authority
suggest
the lane closures were, indeed, retaliation. Fort Lee’s
Democrat mayor had previously declined to endorse Christie’s
re-election bid, unlike the forty-plus other local New Jersey
Democrats
who did
. The endorsements helped Christie secure a landslide
victory he will likely try to parlay into political capital for the
2016 presidential election.

The Bergen Record
breaks the story
:

The messages [obtained by the Record] are replete with
references and insults to Fort Lee’s mayor, who had failed to
endorse Christie for re-election and they chronicle how local
officials tried to reach the Port Authority in a vain effort to
eliminate the paralyzing gridlock that overwhelmed his town of
35,000, which sits in the shadow of the bridge, the world’s
busiest…
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne
Kelly, one of three deputies on Christie’s senior staff, wrote to
David Wildstein, a top Christie executive at the Port Authority, on
Aug. 13, about three weeks before the closures. Wildstein, the
official who ordered the closures and who resigned last month amid
the escalating scandal, wrote back: “Got it.”

Read the e-mails, via the Record,
here
(pdf).

Fort Lee’s mayor, Mark Sokolich, told the Wall Street
Journal
he was now convinced he was being retaliated
against: “This is the behavior of a bully in a schoolyard. It
is the greatest example of political payback.” The Journal
also notes Sokolich is of Croatian ancestry even though one
Christie official referred to him as a “little Serbian” in a
message.

Christie is the leader some establishment Republicans,
and at least one Obama campaign official
, say their party
needs.

More Reason on Christie here.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/chris-christie-created-a-massive-traffic
via IFTTT

Remember Walter Oi, Who Helped Expand Freedom By Ending the Draft

Walter OiLate in the course of the Vietnam War, or soon
after its conclusion, my parents and I watched a TV news broadcast
discussing the controversial role military conscription played in
the conflict. “Will I be drafted,” grammar-school me asked out
loud, missing the nuances of the discussion, but fully grasping the
idea of being forced to do something you don’t want to do. My
parents looked at each other. “If it comes to that,” my father
said, “we’ll get you out of the country.”

It didn’t come to that, of course, since conscription has been
dead and buried policy since the Vietnam War, along with the
unwilling soldiers killed by its implementation. Walter Oi, an
economist who played a key role in ending the draft during the
1970s, passed away on
Christmas Eve
. David R. Henderson remembers his life and legacy
at the Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas blog. Writes
Henderson
:

If you are an American male younger than 66, you should take a
moment and give thanks to economist Walter Oi. Walter died on
Christmas Eve 2013. Even though you probably haven’t heard of him,
he has had a profound effect on your life. He helped end military
conscription in the United States.

Between 1948 and 1973, if you were a healthy young male in the
United States, here’s what you knew: the government could pluck you
out of almost any activity you were pursuing, cut your hair, and
send you anywhere in the world. If the United States was at war,
you might have to kill people, and you might return home in a body
bag.

Walter did not think that was right, and it wasn’t because of
his own age or health. He was born in 1929. When he started writing
about the draft in the mid-1960s, he was well beyond the
draft-eligible age range of 18 to 26. (The draft-eligible age for
doctors and dentists was even higher.) Moreover, he was blind,
having gradually lost all his eyesight in the 1960s. Nor did he
choose his position against the draft because he had sons who were
at risk. Walter had two daughters, and when he was writing on the
issue, almost no one was advocating the conscription of women.

No. Walter thought the draft was wrong because he thought that
people should be able to make such an important choice—whether to
join the military or not—for themselves.

Oi made his argument in economic form, however, arguing that
conscription has hidden costs, in the form of inadequate
compensation to military personnel (why hike pay for people you can
force to serve?), and mental distress for unwilling draftees. He

wrote
:

The draft imposes costs on men in the armed services in at least
three ways. First, more men from an age class are demanded by the
armed forces under a draft because of the high turnover of draftees
and reluctant volunteers. Second, some men are involuntarily
drafted while others are coerced to enlist by the threat of a draft
without being compensated for their aversion to military
employment. At sufficiently high levels of military pay, all of
these reluctant service participants could, in principle, have been
induced to volunteer. Finally, the true volunteers who would have
enlisted irrespective of the draft law are denied the higher
military pay that would prevail in a voluntary force. First-term
military pay can be kept at low levels because the draft assures
adequate supplies of initial accessions.

But conscription also distorts the economy, he wrote. Even those
who aren’t called up suffer fewer opportunities, and make life and
career choices they otherwise wouldn’t make because of
conscription.

In addition to the direct costs borne by those who ultimately
serve in the armed forces, the draft allegedly creates other
indirect costs which derive from the mechanics of the selection
process. Under the current Selective Service System, a youth can
remain in a draft-liable status for seven and a half years. There
is some evidence which suggests that employers discriminate against
youths who are still eligible to be drafted. The youth who elects
to wait and see if he can avoid military service is likely to
suffer more unemployment. He may be obliged to accept casual
employment which does not provide useful job training for later
life. Moreover, long periods of draft liability encourage youths to
pursue activities which might bestow a deferment. When married
nonfathers were placed in a lower order of call in September, 1963,
it was followed by small increases in marriage rates of males in
the draft-liable ages. It is also alleged that the draft prompts
men to prolong their education or to enter occupations which grant
deferments.

Being scooped up against your will by the government was no
hypothetical problem for Oi. Henderson writes of asking about the
older man’s experience as an interned Japanese-American during
World War II. “He reminisced talked about being taken prisoner by
the U.S. government when he was 13 years old and, before being
shipped inland, living with his family for the first few days in a
horse stall at the Santa Anita race track in Los Angeles.”

While you could never wish such an experience on anybody, that
insight into the coercive power of the state may well have given Oi
the wisdom to know that the use of force has costs beyond
government balance sheets and demands for personnel. People aren’t
mere pawns for politicians to move around—they suffer when deprived
of choice and freedom.

You’d think that respect for personal choice in this matter
would go hand-in-hand with the nominal respect for liberty boasted
by democratic, industrialized nations, but a fairly long list of
such countries still engage in the practice. Austria, Brazil,
Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Israel, Norway, South
Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Turkey still practice
conscription
, and the United States continues to require
Selective Service registration to ease reinstatement of a draft. In
most, though not all, of those countries, actual combat is highly
unlikely and “alternative service” is available—but it’s still
compulsory work for the state.

Then again, virtually all explicit thugocracies fill
the ranks with conscripts, alternatives be damned. So democratic
governments are more respectful of their citizens autonomy, even if
not as often and to the degree we might wish.

Oi and his colleagues deserve our thanks for recognizing and
fighting for the important principle, as Henderson puts it, “that
people should be able to make such an important choice—whether to
join the military or not—for themselves.”

Young me might not have understood the economic arguments, but I
certainly preferred freedom of choice over its absence. And grown
me is happy to not have to contemplate the prospect of smuggling my
own son out of the country to keep him from serving as some
politician’s pawn.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/remember-walter-oi-who-helped-expand-fre
via IFTTT

Bob Gates Slams Obama Administration Officials, Interventionism of Varying Ideological Stripes

bob's yourFormer Defense Secretary Robert Gates forthcoming
memoirs, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, don’t appear
to hold back on criticism of members of the Obama Administration in
which Gates served.  The Bush hold-over, who served under
every president since Richard Nixon, save Bill Clinton, writes that
President Obama himself didn’t seem all too interested in, or
convinced of, his own Afghanistan war policy.
Via Bob Woodward at the Washington Post
:

Leveling one of the more serious charges that a defense
secretary could make against a commander in chief sending forces
into combat, Gates asserts that Obama had more than doubts about
the course he had charted in Afghanistan. The president was
“skeptical if not outright convinced it would fail,” Gates writes
in “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.”

Obama, after months of contentious discussion with Gates and other
top advisers, deployed 30,000 more troops in a final push to
stabilize Afghanistan before a phased withdrawal beginning in
mid-2011. “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his
support for their mission,” Gates writes.

Gates also didn’t think Joe Biden was ever right.
Via the New York Times
:

Mr. Gates calls Mr. Biden “a man of integrity,” but
questions his judgment. “I think he has been wrong on nearly every
major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four
decades,” Mr. Gates writes.

On “experts” like Samatha Power, again via the
Post:

Gates says his instructions to the Pentagon were:
“Don’t give the White House staff and [national security staff] too
much information on the military options. They don’t understand it,
and ‘experts’ like Samantha Power will decide when we should move
militarily.” Power, then on the national security staff and now
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been a strong advocate
for humanitarian intervention.

In the excerpt in the Wall Street Journal, Gates
addresses the interventionist trend in the foreign policy
directly
:

Today, too many ideologues call for U.S. force as the
first option rather than a last resort. On the left, we hear about
the “responsibility to protect” civilians to justify military
intervention in Libya, Syria, Sudan and elsewhere. On the right,
the failure to strike Syria or Iran is deemed an abdication of U.S.
leadership. And so the rest of the world sees the U.S. as a
militaristic country quick to launch planes, cruise missiles and
drones deep into sovereign countries or ungoverned spaces. There
are limits to what even the strongest and greatest nation on Earth
can do—and not every outrage, act of aggression, oppression or
crisis should elicit a U.S. military response.

This is particularly worth remembering as technology changes the
face of war. A button is pushed in Nevada, and seconds later a
pickup truck explodes in Mosul. A bomb destroys the targeted house
on the right and leaves the one on the left intact. For too many
people—including defense “experts,” members of Congress, executive
branch officials and ordinary citizens—war has become a kind of
videogame or action movie: bloodless, painless and odorless. But my
years at the Pentagon left me even more skeptical of systems
analysis, computer models, game theories or doctrines that suggest
that war is anything other than tragic, inefficient and
uncertain.

While still Defense Secretary in 2011, Gates was
already warning
the U.S. against finding itself in another land
war in Asia.

Gates also wrote in his memoirs that during his 2006
confirmation hearings, he wondered why he had decided to walk into
the “category 5 shit storm” that faced him as Defense Secretary,
writing that it would be “the first of many, many times I would sit
at the witness table thinking something very different from what I
was saying.”

Read an excerpt of the book, adapted for the Wall Street
Journal,

here

I wrote about how interventionism hasn’t worked out well for the
U.S. in Iraq and elsewhere recently
just yesterday
.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/bob-gates-slams-obama-administration-off
via IFTTT

John Stossel on Equality Versus Liberty

President Barack Obama says
income inequality is “dangerous … the defining challenge of our
time.” The pope is upset that capitalism causes inequality.
Progressives, facing the failures of Obamacare, are eager to change
the subject to America’s “wealth gap.” It’s true that today, the
richest one percent of Americans own a third of America’s wealth.
One percent owns 35 percent! But John Stossel says, so what?

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/john-stossel-on-equality-versus-liberty
via IFTTT

Video: Harbor Point and Baltimore's Taxpayer-Funded Edifice Complex

Harbor Point and Baltimore’s Taxpayer-Funded Edifice
Complex
is the latest video from ReasonTV. Watch
above or click on the link below for video, full text, supporting
links, downloadable versions, and more Reason TV clips.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/video-harbor-point-and-baltimores-taxpay
via IFTTT

Video: Harbor Point and Baltimore’s Taxpayer-Funded Edifice Complex

Harbor Point and Baltimore’s Taxpayer-Funded Edifice
Complex
is the latest video from ReasonTV. Watch
above or click on the link below for video, full text, supporting
links, downloadable versions, and more Reason TV clips.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/video-harbor-point-and-baltimores-taxpay
via IFTTT

Four Myths About Criminal Justice

As Nick Gillespie
mentioned last month
, The Washington Post has hired
former
Reasoner
Radley Balko to write about criminal justice
and civil liberties. Radley’s
first post
went up today, and in addition to introducing its
author to his new audience it listed “some widespread and
potentially harmful misconceptions about the criminal justice
system”:

NOW I CAN NUTPUNCH EVEN MORE READERS! BWA-HA-HA!• The number of dangerous defendants who
“get off on a technicality” is so small, it’s barely significant.
Somewhere between 90 to 95 percent of criminal cases are resolved
with plea bargains before ever getting to trial. Among those that
do get to trial, conviction rates in most jurisdictions run at 80
percent or higher.

• Another striking misperception: The crime rate in America has
been dropping dramatically since the mid-1990s. The murder rates in
our largest cities are at lows we haven’t seen in a half century or
more. Yet Americans consistently believe crime is getting worse,
not better. Last October, 64 percent of respondents told Gallup
that crime was getting worse in America. Only 19 percent correctly
said that it’s getting better.

• Likewise, the job of police officer is getting safer. Last year
saw the fewest gun-related homicides of police officers since the
19th century. Assaults on cops are dropping, too. Yet
we’re regularly told that policing is one of the most dangerous
jobs in the country. In fact, you’re more likely to be murdered
just by living in about half of America’s largest cities than you
are while working as a police officer.

• Everything you know about forensics is probably wrong. Those
magical machines that churn out precise and detailed information
based on a half-footprint, a fiber, or a clod of dirt so that Ted
Danson or David Caruso can then go on to solve the crime? They’re
mostly fictional. Prosecutors call this “the CSI effect,” and they
complain that these shows condition jurors to expect far too much
from forensic analysis. On the other hand, an unscrupulous
prosecutor and forensic analyst can also exploit those
expectations. DNA analysis—which was developed within the
scientific community—has shown us that forensic analysis—which was
developed largely in the law enforcement community, and is often
practiced without scientific standards like peer review and blind
testing—is deeply flawed.

You can read the rest
here
. Congratulations to Radley, and—maybe more to the
point—congratulations to the Post and its readers.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/four-myths-about-criminal-justice
via IFTTT

Percentage of Independents Reaches Yet Another Record High

Since 1988, Gallup has been asking Americans how they
self-identify: as Democrats, as Republicans, or as independents?
The trend lines are unmistakable:

Clear enough for ya? ||| Gallup

And just like
last January
, the polling organization’s results for the prior
year show a
record percentage going indy
:

Forty-two percent of Americans, on average, identified as
political independents in 2013, the highest Gallup has measured
since it began conducting interviews by telephone 25 years ago.
Meanwhile, Republican identification fell to 25%, the lowest over
that time span. At 31%, Democratic identification is unchanged from
the last four years but down from 36% in 2008.

These results are bad news for the party of Barack Obama….

The current 31% of Americans identifying as Democrats matches
the lowest annual average in the last 25 years.

….And they are bad news for Republicans, who—amazingly—have
failed to gain while the rest of America continues to lose under
the Democratic president:

When [George W. Bush] left office, Republican identification was
down to 28%. It has declined or stagnated since then, improving
only slightly to 29% in 2010, the year Republicans “shellacked”
Democrats in the midterm elections.

Not only are the trend lines clear over the past quarter
century, they’re clear over the past 12 months:

Clear enough for ya? ||| Gallup

As the Gallup write-up points out,

The 46% independent identification in the fourth quarter is a
full three percentage points higher than Gallup has measured in any
quarter during its telephone polling era.

Those commentators who still self-identify with one of the two
dwindling major tribes will surely contend that a 42 percent
independents number will not soon translate into anything like a 42
percent vote for a third party, nor does it mean there’s a 42
percent bloc of centrists, or libertarians, or any other monolithic
grouping of jackalopes. All of which is true.

Did you know we wrote a book? |||But as Nick Gillespie and I argue in
The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix
What’s Wrong With America
(a distillation of which you can
read in the
August 2011 issue
of Reason), the economy/society-wide
loss of brand loyalty and gain of individualized, tech-fueled
disruption will hit politics and especially governance
last, because of government’s guaranteed revenue streams
and party-rigged insulation from competition. But just because it
will happen last, doesn’t mean it isn’t already beginning to
happen. Here’s a bit from that magazine excerpt, all of 29 months
ago:  

Where will the next political smart mob, the next online swarm,
come from? Look wherever there is too broad a gap between the two
major political parties and their bases. One good short-term bet is
the issue of rolling back the drug war, which professional
Democrats from the president on down openly mock while a growing
number of Republicans (such as presidential candidates Ron Paul and
Gary Johnson) gain surprising support by uttering the
unspeakable.

Looking pretty prescient now, right?

Gallup routinely finds fed-up voters leaning increasingly
libertarian on a
whole host of issues
. Even non-libertarians like Charles
Krauthammer
express something like awe
at how quickly libertarian
impulses—particularly those that professional politicians have long
blunted—are
gaining the upper hand
. Voters who act like free agents are
inherently difficult to herd, and are capable of producing sudden,
dynamic change. As Gallup muses:

The increased independence adds a greater level of
unpredictability to this year’s congressional midterm elections.
Because U.S. voters are less anchored to the parties than ever
before, it’s not clear what kind of appeals may be most effective
to winning votes. But with Americans increasingly eschewing party
labels for themselves, candidates who are less closely aligned to
their party or its prevailing doctrine may benefit.

Expect some discussion on this topic on tonight’s episode of
The
Independents
.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/percentage-of-independents-reaches-yet-a
via IFTTT

Nashville Slashes Mandatory Limo Prices, Increasing Potential Local Competition

Fight for their love, livery services!In a victory for competition in
Nashville, its City Council has severely reduced its taxi
protectionism by slashing the minimum fee limo or livery drivers
must charge from $45 all the way down to $9.75.

From
The Tennessean
:

Council members approved the $45 fee in 2010 as a way to
distinguish between taxis and livery vehicles, but some later came
to think they had set the minimum too high.

The change also will allow San Francisco-based Uber, an
app-based service that’s in about 30 cities across the United
States and 70 around the world, to come to Tennessee for the first
time. Uber customers use a smartphone app that stores their credit
card information to order a ride. When they do, the GPS-powered
software contacts drivers of private cars in the area and gives
them a chance to make the trip.

Uber plans to start operating its top-level Uber Black service
in Nashville as soon as Mayor Karl Dean signs the bill into law,
spokeswoman Nairi Hourdajian said.

Not mentioned in the story is that the Institute for Justice had
filed suit against
Nashville in order to overturn the absurd price floor. But last
year a jury ruled on behalf of the City of Nashville, upholding the
law. It’s notable that a city council, having been told that their
anti-competitive meddling is perfectly legal, nevertheless realized
that it’s a bad idea for its citizens.

The Tennessean concludes by noting that while critics
complained that the new minimum would cut into taxi drivers’
businesses (appropriate response: So?), there wasn’t a big presence
by cab drivers at the council meeting.

Hat tip to Dan Alban
of the Institute for Justice

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/08/nashville-slashes-mandatory-limo-prices
via IFTTT