Hillary Clinton Critical of Snowden Leaks, Oklahoma Plans Double Execution, Labor Leader Blasts Keystone Delay: P.M. Links

  • What difference do the facts make, at this point?Hillary Clinton, in talks at
    the University of Connecticut,
    thinks it’s “odd”
    that Edward Snowden fled to China and Russia
    after leaking National Security Agency domestic surveillance info
    and mentions that the United States has whistle-blower protections,
    either oblivious or pretending to be oblivious that the protections
    would not have covered Snowden.
  • Oklahoma is planning for a
    double execution
    on Tuesday. I wasn’t aware that prisons had
    sweeps months.
  • Officials have decided
    not to file charges against Philadelphia narcotics officers

    accused of looting 22 bodegas and sexually assaulting women. The
    Philadelphia Daily News won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for
    exposing the story.
  • The head of Laborers’ International Union is blasting President
    Barack Obama for delaying a decision on whether to allow the

    Keystone XL pipeline
    .
  • Overall U.S.
    military suicide rates
    declined in 2013, but the numbers for
    National Guard and reserve members have increased.
  • The president of Palestine has apparently told Secretary of
    State John Kerry that the new
    government will recognize Israel
    .

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David Harsanyi on the Liberal Response to Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the
Twenty-First Century
 is currently the number one seller
on Amazon.com. It’s been deemed an “important book” by a bunch of
smart people, and sparked nonstop conversation in political and
media circles. Liberal pundits and writers have enthusiastically
and unconditionally embraced the hard-left manifesto, notes David
Harsanyi. But how does a book that evokes Karl Marx and talks about
tweaking the Soviet experiment find so much love from people who
consider themselves rational, evidence-driven moderates?

View this article.

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Feds Grant Massachusetts Extra Year to Complete Obamacare Transition

After former Massachusetts Gov.
Mitt Romney signed the state’s 2006 health care overhaul into law,
he said on multiple occasions that the state’s system, which
included an insurance mandate, preexisting conditions rules, an
expansion of Medicaid eligibility, and a government-run insurance
exchange, was intended as a model for the nation.

A few years later, in 2010, President Barack Obama would sign a
nation law into place that included all of those elements and that,
according to the administration, had been modeled at least in part
on the Massachusetts system.

Four years after that, when Obama’s exchanges went online,
Massachusetts was one of the states that had the hardest time
making the transition—this despite more than $135 million worth of
federal grants intended to help the state build and manage a new,
Obamacare-compliant exchange. 

Like Maryland and Oregon, the state was a recipient of an “early
innovator” grant intended for states that were especially
enthusiastic about implementing the health law and wanted to
produce exchange technology that other states could emulate. And
like Maryland and Oregon, Massachusetts ended up with an exchange
that, for all practical purposes, simply didn’t work. By the middle
of March, the state had a massive backlog of unprocessed insurance
applications—a backlog it only cleared by
extending
“transitional” insurance to the applicants, which is
a gentle way of saying it
stuck most of those folks in Medicaid
 until its exchange
troubles were sorted out. 

That could be a while. The state is hoping—fingers crossed!—to
have a “functional” health exchange by this fall, when the next
open enrollment period begins. But “functional” doesn’t mean
complete. “We are not going to have everything we want for the
fall,” Sarah Iselin, who is overseeing the repair work,
told Boston.com
earlier this month. 

Indeed, it appears that some of the features won’t be ready
until 2017. The Obama adminstration announced yesterday that it
would give the state an additional year to comply with some of the
particulars of Obamacare’s insurance regulations.
Via MassLive.com

Massachusetts has been given an additional year to transition to
a new system under the Affordable Care Act that would change the
way insurance carriers calculate premiums for Massachusetts
businesses and potentially drive up the cost for many
employers.

Outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
granted the additional year to complete the transition to new
premium rating factors on Thursday after previous requests from the
governor for a complete waiver were not granted. 

This follows yesterday’s news that the
administration would likely take over Oregon’s failed
exchange.
 

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That Tracking Beacon You Call a Cell Phone At Issue in Florida Case

Tagged critterYour cellphone isn’t just good for texting
friends, playing Flappy Bird, listening to music, checking the
weather, and ignoring your mother’s calls (you assigned her number
Darth Vader’s theme music, right?). It’s also a very efficient
tracking beacon for following your movements from place to place.
Now, that’s multitasking!

It’s especially efficient when cops don’t go through the hassle
of getting a warrant before following your daily routine. But
pleasingly paperwork-free though that approach may be for police
departments, it’s more than a bit creepy. The American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU) argues that it’s also unconstitutional, in a
Florida case now before the 11th Circuit Court of
Appeals.

In terms of the details of the case, the ACLU presents a

handy summary
:

In 2010, the government obtained four people’s cellphone
location records over a 67-day period in a criminal investigation
in Florida, without a warrant.

For one suspect, Quartavious Davis, police got 11,606 location
records—an average of 173 location points each day. After Mr. Davis
was convicted at trial based substantially on the cellphone
location evidence, he appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of
Appeals. The ACLU, along with the ACLU of Florida, Center for
Democracy & Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, has filed an
amicus brief arguing that the government violated the Fourth
Amendment when it obtained Mr. Davis’s location records from his
wireless carrier without a warrant.

Think about the details of your life the location of your
cellphone can open to scrutiny. Do you want each and every place
you’ve been to be trackable through casual scrutiny, with no burden
of proof required?

“Your cellphone location records can reveal extraordinarily
private information about you, including where you go to the
doctor, who your friends are, and where you sleep at night,” Nathan
Freed Wessler, staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and
Technology Project,
told the court
.

Hell. Keeping where you sleep at night private is half the
reason you screen your calls to begin with.

Along those lines, the
amicus brief
argues that “Americans have a reasonable
expectation that they will not be subject to long-term and constant
surveillance of their movements.”

So, if the cops want to know where you’ve been, they should have
to satisfy Fourth Amendment requirements for getting a warrant.

Ron Bailey reported in December that following your cellphone
has become a
popular law enforcement pastime
.

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Video: Megan McArdle: Why Failing Well is the Key to Success

Megan McArdle: Why Failing Well is the Key to
Success
is the latest video from Reason TV. Watch above or
click on the link below for video, full text, supporting links,
downloadable versions, and more Reason TV clips.

View this article.

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Tonight on The Independents: Up in Your Business! And Immediately After, Watch Matt Welch Debate Pot Prohibitionists on Hannity

Should been "yo' bidness," but whatevs. |||Friday-night episodes of
The
Independents
(Fox Business Network, 9 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. PT)
are based around a single theme. Tonight that theme is how the
government is getting all “Up in Your Business,” in all senses of
all those words. For instance:

* Codifying and enforcing all kinds of ridiculously
freedom-hating occupational licensing requirements, as explained by
Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Jeff Rowes.

* Delaying and degrading your experience at the airport in
federally managed security-theater lines, as explored by Cato’s
Chris
Edwards
.

* Prohibiting online poker, selectively and vaguely, as
testified to by professional poker player Dustin
Schmidt
.

* Coming up with restrictions on your private property so
ridonkulous that you can’t tell whether the laws are fact or
fiction, as demonstrated in a game featuring as
contestants Fox
Business anchor
Melissa Francis and
Red Girls Salonista
Dee Dee Benkie.

* Having ignorant health inspectors put the fear of God into
conscientious restaurateurs, as elucidated by Pink Tea Cup owner Lawrence
Page.

*
Gratuitously disrupting
centuries-old symbiotic relationships
between breweries and cattle farmers, as disclosed by Widmer Brothers Brewing Company‘s
Joe Casey.

* Teaching kiddie entrepreneurs to hate (or serve!) government,
as lamented by the co-hosts.

Seriously, you people should watch this! |||The episode repeats at midnight ET and
again at 2 a.m.; and also Sunday night at 7 p.m. Saturday night’s 7
p.m. time-slot will feature a re-air of Wednesday’s “mystery
mea
t” show, featuring Julio Borowski and Chuck Woolery and John
Bolton and Two-Minute Hater Bernie Maxsmith.

IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING TONIGHT’S EPISODE, please change the
channel to Fox News, where at 10 p.m. ET host Sean Hannity
is hosting a group discussion with about 20 of us humans on the
subject of “Stoned in America.” It is a sometimes barky exchange of
ideas, to say the least, and the narrow anti-prohibition caucus
(which also included known insane person Gavin McInnes and comedian
Sherrod Small) did
its level best to bring some freedomizin’ and rationality into the
argument.

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AirTHC Aims to Connect Weed-Friendly Homeowners and Travelers

Presumably, folks visiting Colorado for a bit of
“weed tourism” will want somewhere to enjoy the fruits of their
travels. But until
more cannabis cafes
proliferate, what’s a vacationing stoner to
do? It can be hard to hide the smell of marijuana in a hotel, and
most Airbnb hosts make no mention of their pot policies. Plus
Colorado law prohibits smoking weed in any public
places. Enter
airTHC

Building on Airbnb’s short-term rental model, airTHC connects travelers with
marijuana-friendly vacation rentals, “ensuring that you’ll have a
private space of your own to smoke—legally—while you stay in
Colorado.”

As with Airbnb, both property owners and potential renters fill
out a profile. “As you stay in places you acquire a reputation,”
Jordan Conner, airTHC’s co-founder, told CBS Denver. “You will also
be able to contact the person before they come and stay in your
place.”

So far, more than 30 property owners have signed up with airTHC.
The owners plan to launch to renters “in the very near future,”
co-founder Greg Drinkwater says. 

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Police Union Wants To Know Why Perp ‘Forced’ Cop To Pummel Him

Earlier this week, a video spread across social
media showing Green Bay Police Officer Derek Wicklund beating a man
named Joshua Wenzel, 29, outside a bar. While the Green Bay Police
Department is investigating, Wicklund’s police union has come to
the officer’s defense and is demanding an answer to the
real issue: Why did Wenzel make Wicklund punch him in the
face repeatedly?

The video
captures
Wenzel asking officers why they’re arresting another
bar patron. Wicklund pushes Wenzel, and Wenzel yells “Fuck you!” a
few times. Wicklund then charges at the man, grabs him by the
collar, and slams him onto the hood of a police cruiser. Instead of
ending the altercation then and there by handcuffing Wenzel,
Wicklund throws him to the asphalt and punches him in the face a
few times.

Besides the bloody nose, the officer gave Wenzel a ticket for
disorderly conduct and resisting arrest,
according
to the Green Bay Press Gazzette.

“We haven’t had, per se, a formal complaint filed, but based on
the information we received we have decided to start our own
investigation,” Green Bay Police Department Capt. Bill Galvin

said
. “We’re going to be looking at everything that took place
before, during, and after that incident.”

The Green Bay Professional Police Association doesn’t have time
to wait around for some investigation to decide who was right and
wrong. No sir, they knew who was to blame for this mess and they
set the record straight with a
press release
 on Wednesday.

First of all, the police union assures, this was a “justifiable,
legal, and lawful arrest.” No need for further explanation.

Second, the media is spreading “propaganda” against Wicklund by
showing the video. Shame on the media.

Third, the union doesn’t understand why people are being so
judgmental toward the cop caught on camera charitably feeding some
guy a couple knuckle sandwiches. Why don’t we focus on the selfish
bum hogging all those sandwiches?

Why isn’t anybody asking, “What did the man do to force Officer
Wicklund to use force?” “What law did the man break?” “What was his
demeanor?” “What was his condition?” “Did the man put himself in
this unfortunate situation, by refusing to follow simple
directions?” All of these questions, and many others, must be
answered BEFORE judgment is passed.

And finally, the cold, dead lens of a camera cannot understand
the raw emotion and tingling Spidey Senses of a cop:

Cameras do not capture what an officer was thinking at the
moment. Cameras do not capture what an officer’s perception of a
threat is at the moment. Cameras do not capture tactile feeling or
what officers were physically feeling at the time, such as human
aggression and tension.

Well, whatever tactile, phyiscal feelings the camera didn’t
catch, Wenzel’s face did. 

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John Paul Stevens, Leading Enabler of the War on Drugs, Says Pot Prohibition Was a Big Mistake

In an
interview
with NPR’s Scott Simon yesterday, former Supreme
Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who had previously expressed
support for allowing medical use of marijuana, endorsed general
legalization:

Simon: An increasing number of states are
legalizing marijuana. Should federal law?

Stevens: Yes.

Simon: We may have just made some news.

Stevens: Yes. I really think that that’s
another instance of public opinion [that’s] changed and recognized
that the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is
really not much of a distinction. Alcohol, the prohibition against
selling and dispensing alcoholic beverages, has I think been
generally—there’s a general consensus that it was not worth the
cost. And I think really in time that will be the general consensus
with respect to this particular drug.

That answer makes Stevens the first current or former member of
the Supreme Court to publicly support the repeal of pot
prohibition. Good for him. But Stevens might want to reflect a bit
on his support for the broad view of congressional power that made
pot prohibition possible, especially since he mentions the
experience with alcohol prohibition. As you may recall from history
books and as Stevens (who turned 94 on Sunday) may recall from his
own childhood, banning alcohol at the national level required a
constitutional amendment, and so did repealing it. Why? Because
everyone recognized that the Constitution did not authorize
Congress to impose its pharmacological preferences on the entire
country. Yet the Constitution was never amended  to authorize
marijuana prohibition, which was initially disguised as a revenue
measure and today is based on a reading of the Commerce Clause
broad enough to accommodate almost any legislative whim.

It was the Commerce Clause that the Supreme Court cited in 2005,
when it ruled in
Gonzales v. Raich
 
that that the feds could arrest,
prosecute, and imprison people who grow and possess marijuana in
compliance with state laws allowing medical use. According to
Stevens, who wrote the majority opinion, it did not matter if the
marijuana never crossed state lines: The tiniest speck of cannabis,
anywhere within the country’s borders, is covered by the power to
“regulate commerce…among the several states.” That conclusion,
Stevens said, followed logically from
Wickard v. Filburn
, the 1942 case in which the Court had
upheld enforcement of agricultural quotas based on the Commerce
Clause. If the Commerce Clause allows the federal government to
punish a farmer for growing wheat that never leaves his farm,
Stevens reasoned, surely it allows the federal government to punish
a cancer patient for growing or possessing marijuana that never
leaves her home. “The case comes down to the claim that a locally
cultivated product that is used domestically rather than sold on
the open market is not subject to federal regulation,” Stevens
wrote. “Wickard and its progeny foreclose that
claim.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, no fan of Wickard, saw the
issue differently. “If Congress can regulate this under the
Commerce Clause,” Thomas wrote in his dissent, “then it can
regulate virtually anything—and the Federal Government is no longer
one of limited and enumerated powers.” That prospect probably did
not worry Stevens, who dissented whenever the Court attempted to
enforce even modest limits on the scope of the Commerce Clause. In
the 1995 case
United States v. Lopez
, for instance, he said a federal
ban on the possession of guns in or near schools should be upheld
because “the welfare of our future ‘Commerce with foreign Nations,
and among the several States,’ is vitally dependent on the
character of the education of our children.” 

You could credit Stevens with principled consistency, since his
opinion upholding the federal ban on marijuana apparently went
against his own policy preferences. But what exactly is the
principle that Stevens is defending? That Congress can do whatever
it wants, as long as it’s not explicitly prohibited by the
Constitution? As Thomas observed, that approach negates the
principle of enumerated powers, the bedrock of federalism. And if
the Constitution can be changed so dramatically without
amendment—such that today it authorizes a policy, national
marijuana prohibition, that it did not authorize prior to 1942—even
the explicit limits on government power are vulnerable, as Stevens
himself has
demonstrated
in cases involving the First Amendment, Second
Amendment, Fourth Amendment, and Fifth Amendment.

In fact, Stevens has been a principal enabler of the war on
drugs, not just in Raich but in a string of
search and seizure cases
that have whittled away at the Fourth
Amendment in the name of stopping Americans from consuming
substances that legislators do not like. Now he says the war on
drugs (or a major part of it, at least) was a big mistake. One of
the Constitution’s virtues is that it can save us from mistakes
like that, provided courts are prepared to enforce it.

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Cathy Young on Game of Thrones and ‘Rape Culture’

The latest episode of Game of Thrones—the hit HBO
series based on George R.R. Martin’s pseudo-medieval fantasy epic
A Song of Ice and Fire— has touched off a raging
debate that goes beyond the show itself to the very current
real–life issue of defining rape and consent. This controversy has
revealed a fascinating fact, writes Cathy Young: A lot of feminists
who rail against “rape culture” don’t actually practice the
black-and-white, yes-or-no dogma that they preach, not even with
regard to fiction.

View this article.

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