Jesse Walker on the Overland Park Shootings and Free Speech

In the wake of the
Overland Park shooting spree of April 13, the notion is being
floated, yet again, that we might be able to stop such crimes if
only we were less rigid about the Bill of Rights. Jesse Walker
explains why this draws exactly the wrong lessons from the killer’s
career as a violent bigot.

View this article.

from Hit & Run

Russia Agrees To “De-Escalate” in Ukraine, Rob Ford To Run Again, More Federal Regulations Than Ever Before: P.M. Links

  • Russia’s foreign minister
    announced today he and other diplomats in Geneva reached an
    agreement to “de-escalate
    the situation in Ukraine and “all illegal armed groups must be
    disarmed.” This may come as a relief to Jews, considering
    pro-Russian militants are
    telling them to “register” or else they’ll lose
    their citizenship (but it might just be the world’s worst
  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is
    running again
    (not literally). He kicked off his re-election
    bid today.
  • The federal government really outdid itself in 2013. The number
    crunchers at the Competitive Enterprise Institute say the feds
    produced a total of
    26,417 pages of regulations
    —a new record!
  • A North Dakota district judge overturned the state’s law that
    prohibits an
    after a heartbeat can be detected.
  • The Portland, Oregon, Water Bureau is flushing
    38 million gallons of reservoir water
    after a teenager peed in

  • Your baby could be a racist
    , suggest researchers from the
    University of Washington who studied how little ones change their
    behavior around different ethnic groups.  

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from Hit & Run

Wisconsin Legalizes Medical Marijuana—But Only for the Children!

Totally baked. You can tell, right?The discovery that an oil
extract from marijuana was successfully treating extremely serious,
life-threatening seizures in children with rare disorders has
prompted some
changes in the way people think
about the drug (except,
perhaps, for New Jersey
Gov. Chris Christie

Medical marijuana is not legal in Wisconsin, but yesterday

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill
making it legal in the state to
use cannabidiol, a drug made from cannabis, to treat seizure
disorders. This particular, singular type of medical marijuana is
approved because there’s no chance anybody would enjoy taking it.
From the Journal Times of Racine, Wisconsin:

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill legalizing cannabidiol, or CBD,
which has reportedly been shown to work for children in Colorado.
It was illegal in Wisconsin because it contains a small amount of
THC, the component present in marijuana, but advocates noted that
CBD could never be used as recreational marijuana.

The bill was written narrowly to apply only to CBD, which must
be administered by a physician and is not considered by advocates
to be “medical marijuana.”

Baby steps, anyway. At least there’s another state where parents
won’t have to
pack up their families
and move to Colorado if one of their
children turns out to have the disorder. But Wisconsin may not be
alone. Several other states that haven’t legalized medical
marijuana are nevertheless
considering legalizing
this one particular marijuana extract
for treating this particular rare illness.

For an exhaustive list of where each state stands on marijuana
decriminalization or legalization, check out John K. Ross’ recent
state-by-state review

from Hit & Run

Jay Carney: Obama’s Most ‘Substantive, Challenging’ Election-Year Interview Was With The Daily Show

The toughest interview President Obama had in the
run-up to the 2012 election was with snarky talk-show host John
Stewart, according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

In an on-stage interview at George Washington University today,
the top administration communications official pointed to the
president’s sit-down with The Daily Show as the “most
substantive, challenging” grilling Obama had prior to the election.

Via RealClearPolitics

JAY CARNEY: I remember we had some discussion during 2012 about
well, is it appropriate for the president, the sitting president
and candidate, to give interviews with Jon Stewart and others. And
the answer was yes, again because the young voters we were trying
to reach are more likely to watch The Daily
 than some other news shows. But also, I think if you
look back at 2012 and the series of interviews the sitting
president of the United States gave, probably the toughest
interview he had was with Jon Stewart. Probably the most
substantive, challenging interview Barack Obama had in the election
year was with the anchor of The Daily Show

That’s a feather in Stewart’s cap, and a reflection of his
formidable skills as an interviewer (for a more recent example,
witness the interview he conducted with Health and Human Services
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius shortly after the launch of Obamacare’s
exchanges). Stewart really is extremely good at drawing out his
subjects, at getting to the point, and at focusing more on
substance than on soundbite-driven news-cycle controversies.

But if you think Carney’s remark is true, it’s also something of
an indictment of the mainstream journalists who are supposed to be
holding the president accountable. If the president isn’t squirming
a bit under questioning, and his staff don’t consider the
interviews he sits for to be tough or challenging, then that’s a

Of course, that’s hard to do without access. And this White
House has not exactly made it easy for journalists to question the
president, especially those with national audiences who might be
most eager to press him on tough subjects.

During much of the 2012 campaign, the White House minimized its
contact with national press, favoring local media outlets that were
easier to bargain with. By August of that year, the president had
interviewed just eight times by national media, and 58 times by
local news
. Local news reporters were given ground rules that
most national press would have been unlikely to accept: The White
chose the topic of the interview in advance
, and then limited
the length of the interviews to just 10 minutes, meaning that even
if a reporter wanted to deviate from the predetermined topic, there
was little time to discuss anything else.

National media ought to be willing to subject this president (or
any other, from any party) to tough, rigorous interviews. But the
White House and its communications team ought to be confident
enough to subject the president to fair but critical interviews
about his statements and policies. That they are not probably tells
you as much or more than many of the softball interviews he ended
up giving. 

from Hit & Run

Border Patrol Harasses Local Protesters, Tells Them ‘You Have No Rights Here’

Border Patrol checkpointWhen
last we dropped in
on the good people of Arivaca, Arizona, they
were keeping a close eye on a Border Patrol checkpoint that
controls access to their community and puts just about anybody
entering or leaving town through an Iron Curtain nostalgia

Tired of running the gauntlet, locals set up a monitoring
operation at the checkpoint, where they simultaneously protested
and recorded the agents’ activities.

Border Patrol didn’t like that. The agents got nasty.

How nasty? In a
letter dated April 16 and sent to Manuel Padilla, Jr., Chief Border
Patrol Agent for the Tucson sector
, the American Civil
Liberties Union of Arizona describes agents at the Arivaca
checkpoint threatening protesters with arrest, forcing them behind
an arbitrary line at the edge of a “Border Patrol Enforcement
Zone,” refusing to identify themselves, cursing at the locals, and
blocking their view of agents’ activities.

Some of the agents’ actions are incredibly petty, such as
parking a running vehicle so that the exhaust vents directly at the
protesters. Then when they move, agents set another running vehicle
in front of them.

Meanwhile, the feds let a local Border Patrol supporter into
their checkpoint to turn his cameras on the protesters.

So matters are pretty tense betwen Arivacans and Border Patrol.
What started all of this? An
ACLU complaint filed in January
details some of the abuses.

One former local business owner (her small business suffered
from the decline in tourism caused by the checkpoint and was forced
to close its doors at the end of 2013) described being detained on
her way to a doctor’s appointment following a heart attack, held
for over an hour in the hot sun, not permitted to sit down, and
denied water. Other Arivacans report that agents at the checkpoint
have told them, “You have no rights here,” or that all community
members are considered suspect simply by virtue of living in

The “you have no rights here” comment was documented in an op-ed by
activist John Heid.

The caption for a picture of a school bus at the Arivaca
checkpoint from the End Border Patrol
Checkpoints Facebook
points out

Our children live in a world where they pass through a
military-style checkpoint every morning and afternoon for school.
Every time their parents take them to Tucson shopping. Every time
they go to a friends house in Amado, or to Karate in Sahuarita. Men
carry guns, dogs bark, lights flash.

So a federal agency has basically declared war on an American
community because it doesn’t embrace agents’ presence with open

Below you can see a video of a uniformed douchebag with an
attitude about “your little civil rights thing” harangue a woman
for politely asking him to justify his actions. Imagine driving
through this checkpoint every single day.

Woman Screamed at and
Harrassed At Border Patrol Checkpoint
from End BP Checkpoints on Vimeo.

from Hit & Run

More “De-escalation” – NATO Sends Five Warships To Baltic Sea

The latest development out of NATO, which was already largely expected, must be part of the just announced elaborate de-escalation scheme.  From VOA:

NATO members are sending navy ships to the Baltic Sea to increase the security of the alliance’s eastern European allies in response to the Ukraine crisis.


NATO’s Maritime Command said Thursday it is sending four minesweepers and a support vessel to the Baltic Sea. The ships are from Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and Estonia.


The alliance said Thursday it does not intend to escalate the situation in Ukraine, but rather to “demonstrate solidarity” and ramp up NATO’s readiness.


NATO has made clear it does not want to get involved militarily in Ukraine, which is not a NATO member.

Ah yes, because the Geneva “de-escalation” statement explicitly did not mention anything about a military build up when it is solely for “solidarity demonstration” purposes, and not for “intimidation or provocation.” At least we now know what loopholey, umbrella phrase the next Russian escalation in east Ukraine will be held under: “demonstrating solidarity” with ethnic Russians in the region.

via Zero Hedge Tyler Durden

CBO vs. OMB on the President’s Budget Plan

year the president releases a budget plan, and each year we get two
different sets of projections about what the effects of the budget
plan would be if it were enacted.

First, accompanying the budget plan, we get the White House’s
outlook—the projections from the Office of Management and Budget
(OMB). A little while later, we get a different set of projections
from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The CBO report compares the president’s budget against the
current baseline—what the CBO expects from the budget should all
current legislation stay in place. It’s revealing, however, to also
compare the CBO’s estimates to those produced by OMB. Inevitably,
some of the estimates that come from within the White House are
much rosier.

For example,
via Gordon Gray at the American Action Forum
, a conservative
think tank, here’s how the White House’s projections of debt held
by the public as a percentage of GDP stack up against the CBO’s
projections of the same, which were released this morning.

That’s a pretty big difference. There are numerous reasons for
the difference, many of which are fairly technical. But in general,
the CBO and the OMB use somewhat different baselines, meaning the
projections have different starting points. The OMB also tends to
rely on brighter assessments of the economy’s future, which in turn
makes its overall outlook sunnier.

It’s a good thing that we have these competing estimates. For
one thing, each one provides a check on the other. Both
scorekeepers know that their estimates will be checked against the
other, so neither wants to go too far out on a limb. This is
especially useful for helping check OMB’s natural political
incentives for optimism. As part of the White House, there are
obvious reasons why OMB tends to see brighter economic futures;
CBO’s follow-up score helps make sure that optimism doesn’t get too
far out of hand.

For another thing, the competition serves as a reminder that
these estimates are just that—estimates, subject to all sorts of
uncertainties and prediction problems. Official Washington has a
tendency to treat these projections as something approaching gospel
truth, but no forecaster has a crystal ball. These best experts
often disagree, which means that someone, and possibly everyone, is
wrong. These projections offer generally helpful expert guides to
the possible effects of policy making, but they don’t tell us what
will happen, only what might.

Granted, there’s an added wrinkle when it comes to President
Obama’s consistently dead-on-arrival budget frameworks. We can’t be
exactly sure of what would happen if we implemented the
administration’s budget blueprint, but we can be fairly certain
that it doesn’t matter much either way, because that’s not going to

from Hit & Run

You Will Not Believe The T-Shirt That Got This Professor Kicked Off Campus!

Some of you will recognize the
T-shirt verbiage to the right as coming from the hugely popular HBO
series Game of Thrones.

Nobody at Bergen Community College did, alas, which led to the
suspension of Francis Schmidt, an art and animation professor at
Bergen Community College. The picture is of his daughter, who is
doing some kind of yoga stance.

Here is an account of what happened next, courtesy of Foundation for Individual Rights in
Education (FIRE)

Displaying a lack of both pop culture and First Amendment
awareness, administrators at Bergen Community College in New Jersey
placed Professor Francis Schmidt on leave this
past January, requiring him to meet with a psychiatrist before
returning to campus—just for posting a picture of his daughter in a
T-shirt quoting the popular HBO television show Game of

Schmidt, an art and animation professor, was required to meet
with Jim Miller, an executive director at the college, as well as
two other administrators prior to being put on leave because Miller
believed he received a “threatening email” from Schmidt.

There are many problems with this accusation. First, the email
was not sent from Schmidt. Jim Miller is a contact of Schmidt’s on
Google+, so Miller automatically received an email from Google when
Schmidt posted on Google+. Second, the “threatening” material was
picture of
Schmidt’s young daughter doing yoga in a Game of
T-shirt with the quote, “I will take what is mine
with fire & blood.” For those who are unfamiliar
with Game of Thrones, this is a quote from the
character Daenerys,
who is pledging to retake the throne in Westeros, a war-torn
continent and the primary setting of the series.

Read more here.

FIRE reports that Schmidt is back teaching but notes, “it’s
worrying that Schmidt was forced to go through this ordeal in the
first place.” Worrying isn’t the first word I would use to
describe the situation. If you want to bring your views on the
situation to the attention of Bergen Community College’s president,

here’s her page

Hat tip: Peter
Bonilla’s Twitter feed

Speaking of Game of Thrones, here’s Reason TV’s recent
Tax Day video, which features GOT scenes and characters. Just so
there is no misunderstanding, this is meant as a fun way of
discussing the violence that men, women, and dwarves do – not
through weapons but through the tax code.

from Hit & Run

Lois Lerner: Living Embodiment of Why We Should Stay the Hell Away From the IRS

Lois LernerWho was it who said, “everybody is guilty of
something”? My high school principal, I think. Anyway, it’s also a
paraphrase of the warning contained in Harvey Silverglate’s

Three Felonies a Day
, which points out that we go through
our lives breaking a tangled jungle of laws, often

That makes us all vulnerable to prosecution on a whim—perhaps by
the fine folks at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) enforcing the
country’s vast and incomprehensible
tax code

That’s why
Judicial Watch’s data dump
of internal IRS documents suggesting
that embattled former tax official Lois Lerner contacted
counterparts at the Department of Justice about finding
something prosecutable in the activities of conservative
tax-exempt organizations is not surprising. Pick a spot in our
society and dig deep enough, and eventually you’ll find a crime.
That’s handy, if it suits your needs.

Then again, dig through bureaucrats’ email trails long enough,
and eventually you’ll find something distasteful and nefarious.

Judicial Watch points, understandably, to the following
exchange between Lerner and Nikole C. Flax, then-chief of staff to
then-Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller
as particularly

Sent: Wednesday, May 08, 2013 5:30 PM
To: Flax Nikole C
Cc: Grant Joseph H; Marks Nancy J
Subject: DOJ Call
Importance: High

I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes
Branch at DOJ. I know him
from contacts from my days there. He wanted to know who at IRS the
DOJ folks could talk to
about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece
together false statement
cases about applicants who “lied” on their 1024s–saying they
weren’t planning on doing
political activity, and then turning around and making large
visible political expenditures. DOJ
is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right
folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and
what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs.

I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from
IRS. I am out of town all next
week, so wanted to reach out and see who you think would be right
for such a meeting and
also hand this off to Nan as contact person if things need to
happen while I am gone —


Lois G. Lerner
Director of Exempt Organizations


From: Flax Nikole C
Sent: Thursday, May 09, 2013 8:04 AM
To: Lerner Lois G
Cc: Grant Joseph H; Marks Nancy J; Vozne Jennifer L
Subject: RE: DOJ Call

I think we should do it – also need to include CI, which we can
help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to FEC. Does
it make sense to consider including them in this or keep it

Ultimately, as the scandal unfolded and ensnared much more than
the “low level workers” originally blamed for the mess, no
prosecutions materialized. But it’s easy to see how focused
interest by tax officials and federal prosecutors could have found
arguable mismatches between organizations’ conduct and some
interpretation of a tax code that, notoriously, has no consistent
across the IRS. (Legal scholars debate whether the IRS

should be required to adopt one interpretation of the rules and
stick with it
. That would be nice.)

The IRS scandal regarding tax-exempt groups actually poses a
worse hazard the the thicket of unknowable laws that Silverglate
warns about, since the tax code is essentially a moving target,
applied in novel ways as it suits IRS officials.

Which means that everybody really is guilty of
something, if you put in a little effort to find just that. And
that’s especially true if it’s the IRS looking. That’s all the more
reason to stay as far away as possible from potentially hostile
government officials wielding amorphous rulebooks.

from Hit & Run