Poll: Only 17 Percent of Americans Support the War in Afghanistan

According to a CNN/ORC International survey
released today, only 17 percent of Americans support the war in
Afghanistan and most Americans want the troops there home before
the December 2014 deadline. The war may be the most unpopular in
American history.

From
CNN
:

Just 17% of those questioned say they support the 12-year-long
war, down from 52% in December 2008. Opposition to the conflict now
stands at 82%, up from 46% five years ago.

“Those numbers show the war in Afghanistan with far less support
than other conflicts,” CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.
“Opposition to the Iraq war never got higher than 69% in CNN
polling while U.S. troops were in that country, and while the
Vietnam War was in progress, no more than six in 10 ever told
Gallup’s interviewers that war was a mistake.”

The CNN/ORC International poll is the latest poll
suggesting that Americans are becoming increasingly disillusioned
with an interventionist foreign policy. Earlier this month, the Pew
Research Center released its poll examining how American’s view the
United States’ place in the world. For the first time in the
history of the poll (almost fifty years), more than half of the
respondents agreed with the statement, “The U.S. should mind its
own business internationally and let other countries get along the
best they can on their own.”


Not only do more than half of Americans as a whole support being
less involved abroad, more than half of Republicans and
Independents also believe that the U.S. should mind its own
business:

About half of independents (55%) and Republicans (53%) and 46%
of Democrats say the United States should mind its own business
internationally. In 2002, following the 9/11 attacks, 27% of
independents, 22% of Republicans and 40% of Democrats wanted the
United States to mind its own business internationally.

That most Americans are fed up with the war in Afghanistan and
want the U.S. to mind its own business is good news for
non-interventionist Republicans such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

It is good news that most Americans oppose an interventionist
foreign policy and that the vast majority do not support the
longest war in U.S. history. Unfortunately, foreign policy is only
one of
the issues
on which the opinions of American lawmakers differ
from those of the American public.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/30/poll-only-17-percent-of-americans-suppo
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4 New Year’s Bans: Plastic Bags, Light Bulbs, and More!

The new year provides a perfect
time to turn a new leaf… whether you like it or not. Before
diving headfirst into 2014, you may want to exhaust all your
desires to put groceries in plastic bags, talk on the phone while
driving, use a tanning bed, question a convicted felon, or buy
incandescent light bulbs. At all different levels of government,
these activities and products are about to banned.

4. Los Angeles Bans Free Plastic Bags

Los Angeles is about to become the nation’s biggest city to ban
free plastic groceries bags.
According
to the Los Angeles Times, any business
caught violating the law will “face a fine of $100 after the first
violation, $200 after the second and $500 after the third. Fines
would be imposed for each day the violation continues.”

The crusade against plastic grocery bags is not exactly popular.
A Reason-Rupe poll conducted earlier this year
found
that “60 percent oppose a ban on plastic bags in all
grocery stores and other retailers in the city or town where they
live.”

Likewise, although the initiative enjoys large support from
environmentalists for ostensibly cutting down on waste. The
sentiment is nice, but ReasonTV suggests
this is just “feel-good legislation,” because plastic bags actually
have a negligible on the environment.

3. The Illinois Twofer: Phone Calls While Driving,
Minors from Using Tanning Beds

It’s about to be a long winter for image-conscious Illinois
teens. As of Wednesday, no one under the age of 18 will be allowed
to use a tanning bed, even with parental consent. A local ABC
affiliate reveals
how detrimental this will be to many small businesses in the state.
Pushing tanning salons to the brink cannot help Illinois, which
already bears high
unemployment
and
burdens
on businesses.

But that’s not all. Come New Year’s Day, talking on the phone
(unless it’s hands-free) while driving in will become a punishable
offense with a
$75 ticket
. Illinois joins a growing number of states with
similar prohibitions, despite murky evidence about their
effectiveness. Reason‘s Peter Suderman addresses
how laws banning cell phone use while driving have failed across
the board to reduce crashes. Likewise, former Reason
staffer Radley Balko highlights
research that indicates that bans “actually may prompt a slight
increase in road crashes.”

2. Rhode Island “Bans the Box”

Rhode Island will become the fourth state to “ban
the box
.” The law prohibits employers, whether public or
private, from inquiring about a potential employee’s criminal
background during the application process. They will have to wait
until interviewing an individual to ask. Law enforcement agencies
are exempt from the law,
according
to the Society for Human Resource Management.

This type of legislation is well-intentioned in its effort to
help reintegrate convicts into society, but it doesn’t address the
problem of harsh laws that imprison non-violent offenders. After
all, Department of Justice data
shows
that an increasing proportion of the roughly 1.5 million
individuals in state and federal prisons are behind bars for
non-violent crimes. Instead, Rhode Island is following a trend of
creating an even more complex set of laws that infringe on the
rights of business owners.

1. The Feds Black Out Incandescent Light
Bulbs

Not unlike Canada or the
People’s Republic of China
, our own federal government is
phasing out incandescent light bulbs. The
Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007
already killed off
100-watt and 75-watt bulbs, but 2014 will mark the end of 60-watt
and 40-watt bulbs.

The majority of Americans are in for a rude awakening about
this. Computer World
reports
that as many as 60 percent of consumers are unaware of
the ban. They will likely not realize its impact “until a few
months into the next year when those light bulbs are bought and not
replaced,”
explains
The Sentinel.

The Heritage Foundation
warns
of how serious of an impact this government overreach
will have. The feds not only used scare tactics to constrict
consumer choice and distort market forces, but have forced
“unnecessary job losses from traditional incandescent manufacturers
in the United States. After already closing factories in Kentucky
and Ohio, General Electric recently announced that it is closing
its major incandescent factory in Winchester, Virginia—a factory
that employed 200 people and the last major incandescent
manufacturing facility in the United States.”

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/30/4-new-years-bans-plastic-bags-tanning-be
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4 New Year's Bans: Plastic Bags, Light Bulbs, and More!

The new year provides a perfect
time to turn a new leaf… whether you like it or not. Before
diving headfirst into 2014, you may want to exhaust all your
desires to put groceries in plastic bags, talk on the phone while
driving, use a tanning bed, question a convicted felon, or buy
incandescent light bulbs. At all different levels of government,
these activities and products are about to banned.

4. Los Angeles Bans Free Plastic Bags

Los Angeles is about to become the nation’s biggest city to ban
free plastic groceries bags.
According
to the Los Angeles Times, any business
caught violating the law will “face a fine of $100 after the first
violation, $200 after the second and $500 after the third. Fines
would be imposed for each day the violation continues.”

The crusade against plastic grocery bags is not exactly popular.
A Reason-Rupe poll conducted earlier this year
found
that “60 percent oppose a ban on plastic bags in all
grocery stores and other retailers in the city or town where they
live.”

Likewise, although the initiative enjoys large support from
environmentalists for ostensibly cutting down on waste. The
sentiment is nice, but ReasonTV suggests
this is just “feel-good legislation,” because plastic bags actually
have a negligible on the environment.

3. The Illinois Twofer: Phone Calls While Driving,
Minors from Using Tanning Beds

It’s about to be a long winter for image-conscious Illinois
teens. As of Wednesday, no one under the age of 18 will be allowed
to use a tanning bed, even with parental consent. A local ABC
affiliate reveals
how detrimental this will be to many small businesses in the state.
Pushing tanning salons to the brink cannot help Illinois, which
already bears high
unemployment
and
burdens
on businesses.

But that’s not all. Come New Year’s Day, talking on the phone
(unless it’s hands-free) while driving in will become a punishable
offense with a
$75 ticket
. Illinois joins a growing number of states with
similar prohibitions, despite murky evidence about their
effectiveness. Reason‘s Peter Suderman addresses
how laws banning cell phone use while driving have failed across
the board to reduce crashes. Likewise, former Reason
staffer Radley Balko highlights
research that indicates that bans “actually may prompt a slight
increase in road crashes.”

2. Rhode Island “Bans the Box”

Rhode Island will become the fourth state to “ban
the box
.” The law prohibits employers, whether public or
private, from inquiring about a potential employee’s criminal
background during the application process. They will have to wait
until interviewing an individual to ask. Law enforcement agencies
are exempt from the law,
according
to the Society for Human Resource Management.

This type of legislation is well-intentioned in its effort to
help reintegrate convicts into society, but it doesn’t address the
problem of harsh laws that imprison non-violent offenders. After
all, Department of Justice data
shows
that an increasing proportion of the roughly 1.5 million
individuals in state and federal prisons are behind bars for
non-violent crimes. Instead, Rhode Island is following a trend of
creating an even more complex set of laws that infringe on the
rights of business owners.

1. The Feds Black Out Incandescent Light
Bulbs

Not unlike Canada or the
People’s Republic of China
, our own federal government is
phasing out incandescent light bulbs. The
Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007
already killed off
100-watt and 75-watt bulbs, but 2014 will mark the end of 60-watt
and 40-watt bulbs.

The majority of Americans are in for a rude awakening about
this. Computer World
reports
that as many as 60 percent of consumers are unaware of
the ban. They will likely not realize its impact “until a few
months into the next year when those light bulbs are bought and not
replaced,”
explains
The Sentinel.

The Heritage Foundation
warns
of how serious of an impact this government overreach
will have. The feds not only used scare tactics to constrict
consumer choice and distort market forces, but have forced
“unnecessary job losses from traditional incandescent manufacturers
in the United States. After already closing factories in Kentucky
and Ohio, General Electric recently announced that it is closing
its major incandescent factory in Winchester, Virginia—a factory
that employed 200 people and the last major incandescent
manufacturing facility in the United States.”

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/30/4-new-years-bans-plastic-bags-tanning-be
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L.A. DUI Checkpoints: Now With More Saliva in Your Questionable Fourth Amendment Practices

Bad news from the open-air prison we call America today out of
L.A., where cops are going to start demanding saliva samples from
citizens it stops at DUI checkpoints who it finds suspiciously
suspicious. 

Details from
SoCal public radio station KPCC website
:

Starting this weekend, law enforcement in Los Angeles will begin
expanded use of saliva swab test
kits
 on drivers suspected of driving under the influence
of drugs…..

The testing is already used at some LAPD DUI checkpoints
and at three stations that have jails. A $520,000 grant
awarded to the L.A. City Attorney’s Office will expand the regular
use of the test next year…

Do you gotta give them your spit? No. Legally, just your blood.
God bless America!

State law requires drivers suspected of driving under the
influence to submit to a blood test but they have the right to
refuse the swab. The oral test is voluntary, said deputy city
attorney Michelle DeCasas…

Feuer said the rise of medical marijuana dispensaries has led
more drivers, including lawful card-carrying users, to get behind
the wheel under the influence of the drug.

The oral swab tests can detect tetrahydrocannabinol or THC – the
active impairing ingredient in marijuana – that is in a person’s
system up to three hours after ingestion.

As the LA Times reports,
it isn’t just pot
these tests allege they can detect:

The test screens for cocaine, benzodiazepine (Xanax), methamphetamine, amphetamines,
narcotic analgesics, methadone and THC representative
of marijuana usage within the past few hours. City prosecutors have
yet to use results from the test as evidence in a case.

That’s because, as prosecutors always hope, citizens tend to
plead out under the pressure.

Does any of these test results amount to actual, real, reckless
driving? Who knows, and the law apparently doesn’t care.

Scott Shackford blogged last month about a National Highway
Traffic Administration study doing the same sort of
highly invasive bodily fluid sampling
merely in the name of
“research.”

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/30/la-dui-checkpoints-now-with-more-saliva
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Jerry Brito on the Government’s Loss of Control Over Information

Silk Road

In 1996’s “Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace,” John
Perry Barlow claimed, among other things, that on the Internet
“identities have no bodies” so that persons acting there are immune
to “physical coercion.” More to the point, he wrote, “Cyberspace
does not lie within your borders,” implying an insurmountable lack
of jurisdiction, and thus coercive power. As Edward Snowden’s
exile, Ross Ulbricht’s arrest, and Defense Distributed’s
capitulation attest, such a view is just plain wrong. But what 2013
showed us is that as Internet technology advances, the direct and
indirect costs that the state must incur to maintain a same level
of information control continue to increase. As a result, writes
Jerry Brito, while the Internet can, no doubt, be regulated, and
information can be controlled, and those who speak and transact can
be punished, it can only be done on an increasingly small margin,
and at an increasingly high cost.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/30/jerry-brito-on-the-governments-loss-of-c
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Jerry Brito on the Government's Loss of Control Over Information

Silk Road

In 1996’s “Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace,” John
Perry Barlow claimed, among other things, that on the Internet
“identities have no bodies” so that persons acting there are immune
to “physical coercion.” More to the point, he wrote, “Cyberspace
does not lie within your borders,” implying an insurmountable lack
of jurisdiction, and thus coercive power. As Edward Snowden’s
exile, Ross Ulbricht’s arrest, and Defense Distributed’s
capitulation attest, such a view is just plain wrong. But what 2013
showed us is that as Internet technology advances, the direct and
indirect costs that the state must incur to maintain a same level
of information control continue to increase. As a result, writes
Jerry Brito, while the Internet can, no doubt, be regulated, and
information can be controlled, and those who speak and transact can
be punished, it can only be done on an increasingly small margin,
and at an increasingly high cost.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/30/jerry-brito-on-the-governments-loss-of-c
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New Pew Poll: 60 Percent of Americans Believe in Biological Evolution

Jesus on a dinosaurA report from Pew Research’s Religion and Public
Life Project, “Public’s
Views on Human Evolution,
” finds that 60 percent of adult
Americans believe that humans and other living things evolved over
time while 33 percent say that they existed in their present forms
since the beginning of time. Essentially there is no overall change
since the last Pew poll on this topic back in 2009. One change,
however, fewer Republicans now believe in evolution. From Pew:

There are sizable differences among partisan groups in beliefs
about evolution. Republicans are less inclined than either
Democrats or political independents to say that humans have evolved
over time. Roughly two-thirds of Democrats (67%) and independents
(65%) say that humans have evolved over time, compared with less
than half of Republicans (43%).

The size of the gap between partisan groups has grown since
2009. Republicans are less inclined today than they were in 2009 to
say that humans have evolved over time (43% today vs. 54% in 2009),
while opinion among both Democrats and independents has remained
about the same.

For more background see my article, “Are
Republicans or Democrats More Anti-Science?

The religious views of Americans have an impact on how they view
evolution. From Pew:

A majority of white evangelical Protestants (64%) and half of
black Protestants (50%) say that humans have existed in their
present form since the beginning of time. But in other large
religious groups, a minority holds this view. In fact, nearly
eight-in-ten white mainline Protestants (78%) say that humans and
other living things have evolved over time. Three-quarters of the
religiously unaffiliated (76%) and 68% of white non-Hispanic
Catholics say the same. About half of Hispanic Catholics (53%)
believe that humans have evolved over time, while 31% reject that
idea.

While a majority of Americans think that biological evolution
has taken place, a substantial proportion believe that the process
has been guided by the Deity. From Pew:

Those saying that human evolution has evolved over time also
were asked for their views on the processes responsible for
evolution. Roughly a quarter of adults (24%) say that “a supreme
being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of
creating humans and other life in the form it exists today,” while
about a third (32%) say that evolution is “due to natural processes
such as natural selection.”

For some background, see my reporting from the 2005
Creation Mega-Conference
at Liberty University.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/30/new-pew-poll-60-percent-of-americans-bel
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Red vs. Blue Battle Continues, as Money Flows From California to Texas

Red and blueThe Washington Post
continues the recently popular sport of contrasting Texas and
California political styles and attitudes toward the size of the
state, and then posing the federalism-defying question: Which is
the better model for America’s future? (Cue ominous music in the
background.) Strictly speaking, there should be room in the United
States for a variety of policy experiments, so long as basic
liberties are respected. People can then vote with their money and
their feet. And, in fact, as the article and data from elsewhere
indicate, Americans have favored Texas with their votes for many
years.

From Dan Balz at the
Washington Post
:

Perry ran for president in 2012 championing Texas as an economic
model for the nation, pointing to the tax and regulatory structure
of the Lone Star State as the engine that had helped produce more
new jobs in the post-recession America than any other state. His
campaign faltered, but that did little to dim the story of “Texas
rising.”

“California declining” was the narrative Brown inherited when he
returned to Sacramento in January 2011. The Golden State, once the
envy of the nation, was beset with problems, including high
unemployment, persistent budgetary imbalances and political
dysfunction in the state capital. Today, with the state’s fiscal
situation stabilized, Brown is described as the Democrat who is
giving the country a new model of progressive governance.

Perry continues to promote the contrasting narratives. “These
are big, powerful economic states,” he said in a recent interview.
“Twenty years ago, California was considered to be the absolute
economic center of America. You pointed to California and said,
‘Gee, wouldn’t you like to be like them?’ And I would suggest
that’s not the case, and I will suggest to you that’s because of
the burdensome tax environment, a regulatory climate that is very
unpredictable and unstable and public schools that are continuing
on a downward trajectory.”

Brown and his advisers find the Texas-vs.-California story
tiresome. “Shakespeare said comparisons are odious,” Brown quipped
in a recent telephone interview. “Another version was that they’re
odorous.”

He was quick to counter Perry’s claim that Texas should be the
nation’s model. Yes, he said, if you want to build something, you
can do it faster in Texas than in California, where there are more
regulations and governmental red tape. “That’s true,” he said, but
he added, “Would you rather live in Houston or Santa Barbara, or
maybe Santa Monica or San Francisco?”

There’s a reason Brown and company find the comparison
“tiresome.” That is, more people seem to prefer the Texas model
over the California model. That’s despite the real advantages that
California historically has held as a refuge for people looking for
open minds and social elbow room. Stephen Levy, director of the
Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy, insists,
“If you look at the areas that are the most tolerant — the Bay area
and Hollywood — you find the highest clusters of creativity and
innovation.” That’s long been true, but it’s probably not enough in
an era when Texas and California aren’t as far apart on the
tolerance issue as they were in the past (a
plurality of Texans now support gay marriage
).

And, in fact, the Post points to Census Bureau figures
showing that, last year, “63,000 people moved from California to
Texas, while 43,000 in Texas moved to California.”

Just as important, money moved, too. Travis H. Brown, author of
How
Money Walks
, points to IRS figures that track the flow of
wealth from some states and to others. From 1992 -2010, California
was a net loser of $45.27 billion in adjusted gross income. $6.02
billion of that went to Texas. Texas, on the other hand, gained
$24.94 billion in AGI during those years, with California the top
source for transfers.

How Money Walks

Reason’s Matt Welch
chatted with Travis Brown
last summer to discuss the things
that inspire people to move themselves, their businesses, and their
money from one place to another, no matter what pundits think they
should be doing. The video is below.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/30/red-vs-blue-battle-continues-as-money-fl
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Would a Comprehensive Phone Record Database Have Stopped 9/11?

Two weeks ago, when U.S. District Judge Richard
Leon
issued
a preliminary injunction against the National Security
Agency’s mass collection of telephone records, he was skeptical of
the government’s claim that the program has been instrumental in
preventing terrorist attacks. “The Government
does not cite a single instance in which
analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an
imminent attack,” he
wrote
, “or otherwise aided the Government in achieving any
objective that was time-sensitive in nature.” By contrast, U.S.
District Judge William Pauley, who on Friday
rejected
a Fourth Amendment challenge to the NSA’s phone record
dragnet, says “the effectiveness of bulk telephony metadata
collection cannot be seriously disputed.” But Pauley’s most
powerful example is a debatable counterfactual, while the other
cases he cites do not actually show that the NSA’s database has
been crucial in stopping attacks.

Pauley opens his opinion by
arguing that if the telephone metadata program had existed in 2001
it might have helped prevent Al Qaeda’s attacks on the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon:

Prior to the September 11th attacks, the [NSA] intercepted seven
calls made by hijacker Khalid al-Mihdhar, who was living in San
Diego, California, to an al-Qaeda safe house in Yemen. The NSA
intercepted those calls using overseas signals intelligence
capabilities that could not capture al-Mihdhar’s telephone number
identifier. Without that identifier, NSA analysts concluded
mistakenly that al-Mihdhar was overseas and not in the United
States. Telephony metadata would have furnished the missing
information and might have permitted the NSA to notify the [FBI] of
the fact that al-Mihdhar was calling the Yemeni safe house from
inside the United States.

The government has trotted out this hypothetical many times
before, presumably because it is easier to speculate about plots
that might have been thwarted by the routine collection of
every American’s phone records than it is to cite any that actually
were. But as ProPublica’s Justin Elliott
pointed out
last June, “U.S. intelligence agencies knew the
identity of the hijacker in question, Saudi national Khalid al
Mihdhar, long before 9/11 and had the ability find him, but they
failed to do so.” Furthermore, it is not clear why the NSA, having
eavesdropped on seven calls between al-Mihdhar and the Al Qaeda
safe house in Yemen, needed a database containing everyone’s phone
records to identify the source of those calls. The Justice
Department “could have asked the FISA Court for a warrant to all
phone companies to show all calls from the U.S. which went to the
Yemen number,”  former counterterrorism official Richard
Clarke told ProPublica. “Since they had one end of the calls (the
Yemen number), all they had to do was ask for any call connecting
to it.”

The three other examples cited by Pauley likewise do not show
that the comprehensive phone record database has been necessary to
stop attacks, as Leon noted:

None of the three “recent episodes” cited by the Government that
supposedly “illustrate the role that telephony metadata analysis
can play in preventing and protecting against terrorist attack”
involved any apparent urgency. In the first example, the FBI
learned of a terrorist plot still “in its early stages” and
investigated that plot before turning to the metadata “to ensure
that all potential connections were identified.” Assistant [FBI]
Director [Robert] Holley does not say that the metadata revealed
any new information-much less time-sensitive information that had
not already come to light in the investigation up to that point. In
the second example, it appears that the metadata analysis was used
only after the terrorist was arrested “to establish [his] foreign
ties and put them in context with his U.S. based planning efforts.”
And in the third, the metadata analysis “revealed a previously
unknown number for [a] co-conspirator…and corroborated his
connection to [the target of the investigation] as well as to other
U.S.-based extremists.” Again, there is  no indication that
these revelations were immediately useful or that they prevented an
impending attack.

Pauley does not actually claim the phone record database is
necessary to thwart terrorism—only that it has been useful in
gathering intelligence. Could a less sweeping approach, such as
specific warrants seeking information about calls to or from
particular targets, have been equally effective? Pauley deems that
question irrelevant:

The ACLU also argues that “[t]here are a number of ways in which
the Government could perform three-hop analysis without first
building its own database of every American’s call records.” That
has no traction. At bottom, it is little more than an assertion
that less intrusive means to collect and analyze telephony metadata
could be employed. But the Supreme Court has “repeatedly refused to
declare that only the ‘least intrusive’ search practicable can be
reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”

In any case, as I
noted
on Friday, the effectiveness of the NSA’s snooping is not
ultimately relevant to Pauley’s analysis. Since he concludes that
the Fourth Amendment does not apply to phone records (or any other
information held by third parties), there is no search to
justify. 

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/30/would-a-comprehensive-phone-record-datab
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The Mike Bloomberg Legacy: 12 Years of Little Tyrannies in 2 Minutes!

“The Mike Bloomberg Legacy: 12 Years of Little Tyrannies in 2
Minutes!” is the latest from Reason TV. Watch above or click below
for full text, links, downloadable versions, and more. 

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/30/the-mike-bloomberg-legacy-12-years-of-li
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