WaPO:”FBI misused surveillance tool”

“The FBI has misused a powerful digital surveillance tool more than 278,000 times, including against crime victims, Jan. 6 riot suspects, people arrested at protests after the police killing of George Floyd in 2020 and — in one case — 19,000 donors to a congressional candidate, according to a newly unsealed court document.”

“The FBI says it has already fixed the problems, which it blamed on a misunderstanding between its employees and Justice Department lawyers about how to properly use a vast database named for the legal statute that created it, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).”

“But the failures to use the Section 702 database correctly when collecting information about U.S. citizens and others may make it harder for the agency to marshal support in Congress to renew the law, which is due to expire at the end of this year. “

Full article@ Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2023/05/19/fbi-digital-surveillance-misuse-jan6-blm/

Florida Law Makes It Easier to Execute People

Reason.com reports passage of new Florida law allowing juries to decided on death penalties with a vote of 8 to 4:

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation into law today lowering the threshold for a jury to recommend a death penalty sentence from unanimity to an 8–4 majority, the lowest standard in the country.

Alabama is the only other state that allows split juries to recommend death sentences, and it requires a 10–2 majority.

DeSantis began pushing for the legislation this year after three jurors refused to vote for the death penalty for Nikolas Cruz, who killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. Cruz was instead sentenced to life in prison.

“If just one juror vetoes it, then you end up not getting the sentence,” DeSantis said earlier this year. “Maybe eight out of 12 have to agree, or something, but we can’t be in a situation where one person can just derail this.”

The legislation, S.B. 450, did not pass along a straight party-line vote. Some Democrats, most of them from South Florida where the Stoneman Douglas shooting took place, voted in favor, and some Republicans broke ranks to oppose it.

Full Post by C.J. Ciaramella @ https://reason.com/2023/04/20/ron-desantis-signs-florida-law-setting-lowest-threshold-for-death-penalty-sentences-in-the-country/

“Ron DeSantis Wants To Rewrite Defamation Law”

“The bill is an aggressive and blatantly unconstitutional attempt to rewrite defamation law in a manner that protects the powerful from criticism by journalists and the public,” said one attorney.

by Emma Camp, from Reason.com

A legislative ally of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced a bill in the Florida House on Tuesday that would remove many of the legal protections against defamation lawsuits established in the 1964 Supreme Court case New York Times v. Sullivan. The new bill is yet another attempt by DeSantis, an aggressive critic of defamation law, to curb First Amendment protections in Florida.

Introduced by Rep. Alex Andrade (R—Pensacola), the bill would make sweeping changes to the standards for pursuing a defamation claim against a public figure. The law would narrow the definition of a public figure by excluding persons whose notoriety arises solely from “defending himself or herself publicly against an accusation,” giving an interview on a subject, public employment (other than elected or appointed office), or “a video, an image, or a statement uploaded on the Internet that has reached a broad audience.”

“At the end of the day, it’s our view in Florida that we want to be standing up for the little guy against some of these massive media conglomerates,” DeSantis said in a February 7 roundtable event on the subject, adding that journalism “really chills, I think, people’s willingness to want to participate” in public discussion.

DeSantis has strongly criticized New York Times v. Sullivan, a 1964 Supreme Court case establishing the actual malice standard for defamation claims against public figures. Following Sullivan, public officials could not successfully sue for libel or defamation without proving that the false statements made against them were made with “actual malice”—meaning “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”

Andrade’s bill explicitly defies Sullivan by establishing that the “actual malice” standard will not be required to prove defamation “when the allegation does not relate to the reason for his or her public status.” Further, the bill also significantly expands the circumstances under which a fact finder can infer actual malice, such as when an allegation is “inherently implausible” or “There are obvious reasons to doubt the veracity” of the allegation.

Full Post by Emma Camp @ https://reason.com/2023/02/22/ron-desantis-wants-to-rewrite-defamation-law/

Vote Yes on Proposition 1! Constitutional Right to Reproductive Freedom. 

On Tuesday, November 8, voters will have the opportunity to put Abortion rights in the California Constitution.

Recently the US Supreme Court overturned the Roe v Wade decision, which guaranteed the right to an abortion in the United States. In response, a number of states have passed new laws, or implemented old laws, to prohibit abortion.

In California, abortion has been legal since 1967. That year Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Therapeutic Abortion Act introduced by Sen. Anthony Beilenson . Since that time, there has been no serious threat to abortion rights in California. Most Republicans who have run for statewide office in California have supported the right to abortion.

The California legislature put Proposition 1 on the ballot mainly as a symbolic response to the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade. It will enable a large majority of voters in the largest state to make a statement in favor of reproductive freedom. Polls indicate a large majority will vote in favor of Proposition 1 in order to make a statement. But Proposition 1 has more importance than that.

Proposition 1 amends the California Constitution to expressly include an individual’s fundamental right to reproductive freedom, which includes the fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and the fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives. This amendment does not narrow or limit the existing rights to privacy and equal protection under the California Constitution.

In 1973 the Supreme Court decided that the Constitution provides a right to privacy, implied in the First, Fourth, Fifth and Ninth Amendments. It ruled that the right to privacy guarantees the right to make personal decisions concerning reproduction. The Roe v Wade ruling guaranteed a very personal freedom for women in America.

Roe v Wade also protected Republican politicians, who could advocate limits on abortion to appeal to anti-abortion voters, and still appeal for votes from pro-choice conservatives, moderates and libertarians. Roe v Wade removed the issue of abortion from political control, even if abortion remained an issue for political controversy. By overturning Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court made abortion a political issue again, and Republican candidates are facing a backlash over their support for restrictions on abortion.

If voters put the right to contraception and abortion in the California Constitution, it will remove it as a political issue in California. Currently California is dominated by the Democratic Party. Many who want to vote against the Democrats hesitate to support conservative candidates who might threaten this freedom. With the passage of Proposition 1, conservatives might begin to make a comeback in California politics. In alliance with pro-choice moderates and libertarians, conservatives could fight against the growth of government and California’s punishing tax rates.

Vote Yes on Proposition 1, to protect a woman’s right to control her own body. Vote Yes on Proposition 1 and end California’s one party dominance. Vote Yes to send a message to America that many Americans support the freedom of women to make the most personal decision. Vote Yes for Personal Freedom.

Jack Guerrero for California Treasurer

Cudahy City Councilman Jack Guerrero is running for California Treasurer on a platform of defending taxpayers and investigating the financial excesses of state and local governments in California.

“As Mayor of his hometown city, Jack worked with the California State Controller to expose millions of dollars in wasteful and unlawful spending.”

Jack Guerrero will expose the mismanagement by politicians of California’s pension funds, which face a massive shortfall if not reformed.

As Mayor of Cudahy, Jack Guerrero held public hearings on the quality of education in local public schools! He successfully advocated for local school reform, organized parents, and demanded change in one school’s administration. Over the last two years, test scores for California students have declined and many parents are worried that their children are not receiving the education they need and deserve. Jack Guerrero has shown he knows how important this issue is for California.

Jack Guerrero is an economist who has worked as a consultant to Fortune 500 corporations in California, New York and Europe. He is a Certified Public Accountant and has audited government agencies at the state and local level.

His views on economics and politics are based on his education. He has included on his website a list of books that have influenced him:

  • The Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith
  • Principles of Political Economy and Taxation” by David Ricardo
  • Human Action” by Ludwig von Mises
  • The Road to Serfdom” by Friedrich von Hayek
  • Capitalism and Freedom” by Milton Friedman
  • Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand
  • The Conscience of a Conservative” by Barry Goldwater
  • Democracy in America” by Alexis de Tocqueville
  • Witness” by Whittaker Chambers
  • Ideas Have Consequences” by Richard Weaver
  • The Conservative Mind” by Russell Kirk
  • Reflections on the Revolution in France” by Edmund Burke
  • On Liberty” by John Stuart Mill
  • The Federalist Papers

The best opportunity for California Libertarians in this election is to get behind the campaign of Jack Guerrero, Republican for Californias Treasurer.

For more information, or to contact the candidate, go to https://www.jack4treasurer.com/

Vote November 8:Lanhee Chen for Controller

Lanhee Chen came in first in California’s top-two primary, and faces off against Democrat Maili Cohen, a member of the State Board of Equalization.

“The Controller is California’s independent fiscal watchdog. The person who makes sure that taxpayer money—OUR money—is spent as we’re told it will be. But that’s not happening now. In fact, the Controller can’t even tell us where she sent over $300 billion in payments in 2018 alone.”

“For too long, the Controller has been a Sacramento insider, valuing partisanship over competence. The Controller has been beholden to other politicians, defending THEM, instead of fighting for and protecting YOU.”

The State of California collects hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes every year, and spends most of it. Not all of this money goes to its intended purposes. In 2020 and 2021 criminals defrauded the state out of more than 20 billion dollars in unemployment benefits – 11% of the total paid out in benefits during the Covid pandemic. And that is just one scandal.

This reflects a lack of oversight on spending by the State Controller – an abandonment of the Controller’s responsibility. California voters have a chance to elect a new controller who will take his responsibilities seriously.

Lanhee Chen pledges to protect taxpayers from fraud by “examining state programs that may be ripe for fraud and abuse.

Lanhee Chen promises to hold Sacramento politicians accountable. California voters need to know how their tax dollars are spent. They need to know “why major political donors to Governor Gavin Newsom received no-bid contracts or plum appointments as part of the state’s pandemic response.”

Lanhee Chen promises to provide true fiscal transparency by using technology to ensure taxpayers have access to a best-of-class system to see where there tax money is being spent.

Lanhee Chen promises honest accounting so taxpayers will understand the real fiscal situation of our state government.

Lanhee Chen is an independent Republican who has never supported Donald Trump. Like most Californians, Lanhee Chen is pro-choice on abortion. Lanhee Chen provides a choice for Independent and Libertarian voters in California who know that California is taking too much in taxes and spending too much of our tax money.

Vote for financial responsibility and clarity. Vote Lanhee Chen for Controller on November 8, 2022.

For more information go to https://chenforcalifornia.com/


AP:”Putin declares martial law in illegally annexed regions of Ukraine”

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared martial law Wednesday in the four regions of Ukraine that Moscow annexed and gave additional emergency powers to the heads of all regions of Russia.

Putin didn’t immediately spell out the steps that would be taken under martial law, but said his order was effective starting Thursday. His decree gives law enforcement agencies three days to submit specific proposals and orders the creation of territorial defense forces in the four annexed regions.

“We are working to solve very difficult large-scale tasks to ensure Russia’s security and safe future, to protect our people,” Putin said in televised remarks at the start of a Security Council meeting. “Those who are on the frontlines or undergoing training at firing ranges and training centers should feel our support and know that they have our big, great country and unified people behind their back.”

The upper house of Russia’s parliament was set to quickly seal Putin’s decision to impose martial law in the annexed Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions. Draft legislation indicates it may involve restrictions on travel and public gatherings, tighter censorship and broader authority for law enforcement agencies.

The upper house of Russia’s parliament was set to quickly seal Putin’s decision to impose martial law in the annexed Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions. Draft legislation indicates it may involve restrictions on travel and public gatherings, tighter censorship and broader authority for law enforcement agencies.

Putin also didn’t provide details of the extra powers the heads of Russian regions will have under his decree.

In a signal his moves could have broad restrictions for people living in Russia, his decree states that the types of measures envisaged by martial law could be introduced in Russia.

The Russian leader also ordered the establishment of a Coordination Committee to increase interactions between government agencies in dealing with the fighting in Ukraine that he continued to call a “special military operation.”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Putin’s order doesn’t anticipate the closure of Russia’s borders, state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

Associated Press story reposted from Politico https://www.politico.com/news/2022/10/19/putin-martial-law-annexed-ukraine-00062475

Bloomberg:”On Climate Change, Republicans Need a Crash Course in Capitalism”

Red-state lawmakers are increasingly trying to interfere in private firms’ decision-making. They’re making a terrible mistake.

The climate is changing, and so are the incentives.
The climate is changing, and so are the incentives.Photographer: Eddie Seal/Bloomberg


Michael R. Bloomberg

Republican elected officials seem to think they’ve found three new evil letters to pair with their favorite bugaboo, CRT, or critical race theory. This one is called ESG, which refers to investment strategies that consider environmental, social and governance issues. Critics call it “woke capitalism.” There’s just one problem: They don’t seem to understand capitalism. And flogging ESG is not only a terrible economic mistake. It will be a political loser, too.

Republican critics of ESG have focused primarily on the “E,” arguing that climate change should not factor into investment decisions. Texas has adopted a law restricting the state, localities, and pension boards from doing business with financial firms that seek to limit their exposure to fossil fuel companies. Even firms that have large investments in fossil fuels are being banned, if they dare attempt to price climate risk into their portfolio allocations. Oklahoma has enacted a similar law, and other Republican leaders are moving in the same direction. Last month, Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, supported a resolution barring pension fund managers from considering ESG factors.

All these anti-ESG crusaders position themselves as defenders of the free market. But they are attempting to use government to block private firms from acting in the best interests of their clients, including retired police officers, teachers and many others who depend upon public pensions. And in doing so, they are turning the most basic investment rules on their head.

Any responsible money manager, especially one with a fiduciary duty to taxpayers, seeks to build a diversified portfolio (including on energy); identifies and mitigates risk (including the risks associated with climate change); and considers macro trends that are shaping industries and markets (such as the steadily declining price of clean power).

That’s investing 101, and either Republican critics of ESG don’t understand it, or they are catering to the interests of fossil fuel companies. It may well be both. Either way, they are standing in the way of the most powerful force we can muster in the fight against climate change: the private sector. And the stakes could not be higher.

Full Commentary by Michael R Bloomberg @ https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2022-09-06/on-climate-change-republicans-need-a-crash-course-in-capitalism

The Real Target on January 6, 2021:The Constitution of the United States

On January 6, 2021, supporters of former President Donald J Trump engaged in an orgy of violence on the steps of the Capitol building, at the entrances to the Capitol building, and inside the Capitol building. But we know that the building was not the target, just collateral damage.

If you watched the news on January 6, on the following days, news specials about January 6, or the videos shown at the hearings of the January 6 Committee of the House of Representatives, you saw the Capitol building under attack. You also saw Capitol Police being physically attacked by Trump supporters. Prosecutors and police unions report that 91 Capitol Police officers were injured by pro-Trump rioters, along with 65 DC Police officers. Reports indicate officers were pushed down stairs, trampled by rioters, punched and run over in the stampede. Several officers died that day or after, from physical or psychological wounds sustained at the hands of Trump supporters. But police officers were not the target.

Capitol Police saw the threat to members of Congress, and moved members, including House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, other Republican members and the Democrat leaders and members. Senators and Representatives were moved to secure rooms in the Capitol, as at least one heroic Capitol Police officer teased rioters into following him as he moved away from where the members of Congress were taken.

Trump supporters shouted threats to members of Congress, announced their intention to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and acted with the intent of intimidating Congress into refusing to certify the election of President Joseph Biden. The Congress of the United States, the most representative branch of the government, would appear to be the proximate targets of the Trump supporters who stormed the capitol.

Peaceful Transfer of Power

In 1797, the first President of the United States, George Washington, left the White House and returned to his plantation and distillery in Mount Vernon. After two terms, one more than he wanted to serve, he retired as the Chief Executive of the new federal government. He set a precedent for the peaceful transfer of power that has been the cornerstone of the American Republic since then, unbroken up through and including 2017, when President Barack Obama left office and Donald J Trump took an Oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

This peaceful transfer of power is known as “rotation in office.” When President Washington left office and turned the power over to John Adams, it was unusual in the world of its time. So unusual, that many in Europe who heard the news of the peaceful transfer of power, did not believe it. The writers of the U.S. Constitution expected it, and after Washington observed the new convention, every President who had served out his term, respected the Constitutional mandate to leave office, and allow his elected successor to take the oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Every President who lost an election, surrendered the office, as required by the Constitution, until January 6, 2021.

The Real Target: The Constitution of the United States

When it was adopted in 1787, the Constitution of the United States provided for a government of limited powers. Article 1, Section 1 sets out the powers of the Congress of the United States, and the means of electing Congress. The Congress of the United States exists only because of The Constitution of the United States.

The same Constitution sets out the powers and responsibilities of The President of the United States, and instructs us on how The President shall be elected: Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof shall direct, a number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in Congress

By the end of the Civil War, each state had adopted a law providing that Electors would be chosen by direct popular vote. As early as 1832, every state except South Carolina had provided for a direct vote for electors. This history undermines the demand on election night 2020 by Mark Levin that Republican controlled legislatures appoint electors in states where the popular vote went for Biden. Still, the suggestion by Mark Levin indicates he understood that those states did cast their popular vote for Biden, not Trump.

The Constitution – the 12th Amendment – provides that the electors of each state shall meet in their state to cast votes for President and Vice-President, with the votes to transmitted sealed to the President of the Senate, who shall count the votes in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives. On January 6, Vice-President Pence began to count the votes, and in a Constitutional but unprecedented manner, objections were laid to the electoral votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania. In both cases Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas joined with several Representatives to lodge objections, and the Congress adjourned to consider the objections.

Even as Trump supporters in Congress worked to prevent certification of the election that Donald Trump lost, Trump supporters outside Congress undertook an assault, targeting all the members of Congress, including the Trump supporters. The certification of the electoral vote count was mandated by The Constitution, and the right to make objections was legal under the term of the Electoral Count Act. The attack on Congress was an attack on The Constitution of the United States – plain and simple.

The Evidence and the Proof

The physical destruction of parts of the Capitol Building, the broken glass, the smashed in doors, the nearly 160 injured Capitol Police and DC Police, and the deaths of several officers – these were the evidence for and the proof of the attack on The Constitution of the United States.

Not so long ago, Republicans and conservatives claimed to be defenders of the Constitution. The President of the United States, and the Trump supporters in Congress all took an Oath to “preserve, protect and defend The Constitution of the United States. President Trump violated his Oath many times, most publicly on January 6. Those members of Congress who have defended the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters have also violated their Oath, and shown how empty are their claims to be defenders of The Constitution .

Let us treat Donald Trump and the Trump supporters in Congress with the same respect they have shown America’s founding Document, The Constitution of the United States.

(by Gene Berkman, Editor, California Libertarian Report)

Historic Libertarian Plank on Women’s Rights

In 1982 the Libertarian National Convention added a plank on Women’s Rights to the Permanent Platform of The Libertarian Party. This plank was kept in the platform without change until the Libertarian National Convention of 1994.


“We hold that individual rights should not be denied or abridged on the basis of sex. We call for repeal of all laws discriminating against women, such as protective labor laws and marriage or divorce laws which deny the full rights of men and women. We oppose all laws likely to impose restrictions on free choice and private property or to widen tyranny through reverse discrimination.”

“Recognizing that each person must be the sole and absolute owner of his or her own body, we support the right of women to make a personal choice regarding the termination of pregnancy. We oppose the undermining of the right via laws requiring consent of the pregnant woman’s parents, consent of the prospective father, waiting periods, or compulsory provision of indoctrination on medical risks or fetal development. However, we also oppose all tax funding for abortions. It is particularly harsh to force someone who believes that abortion is murder to pay for another’s abortion. We also condemn state-mandated abortions.”

The plank on Women’s Rights was in the Libertarian Platform in 1988 when Ron Paul accepted the nomination for President of The Libertarin Party.

Added Paragraph in 1994

In 1994 the heading of the Plank was changed to 19. Women’s Rights and Abortion The plank was expanded by adding one additional paragraph:

“We oppose the fetal protection doctrine under which the state could require prenatal testing, require Caesarian births, require fetal surgery, require force feeding of the mother, jail pregnant substance abusers, bar home births, and bar pregnant women from working in unhealthy places and which would hold a woman legally liable — because of her diet or personal behavior — for having a damaged or deformed child. Under this doctrine, women could also be held liable for not aborting a damaged or deformed fetus.”

The Libertarian Party Plank on Women’s Rights and Abortion, as adopted in 1982 and expanded in 1994 provide’s a clear statement of the Libertarian Position on a Woman’s right to control her own body and her own life. In 1996 and subsequent conventions, the plank was modified. It provided less clarity, but The Libertarian Party remained on record in support of Freedom of Choice for Women until the Libertarian National Convention in 2022.

At the 2022 National Convention, the organized forces of the “Mises” Caucus voted to eliminate the plank altogether. A future convention will have the power to adopt a plank on the issue of Women’s Rights and Abortion.

Restore the 1994 Plank on Women’s Rights and Abortion

The 1994 Plank is a clear statement that mainstream Libertarians can united behind. It is one of the few planks in The Libertarian Platform that is in agreement with a majority of American voters. Libertarians should work to restore the 1994 Plank on Women’s Rights and Abortion.

Source for Plank: 1986 Platform (clearest print of 1982 plank) https://lpedia.org/wiki/Document:National_Platform_1986#20._WOMEN.27S_RIGHTS

1994 Plank: https://lpedia.org/wiki/Document:National_Platform_1994#19._Women.27s_Rights_and_Abortion

The full text of the Permanent Platform of The Libertarian Party, as modified every two years can be found @ https://lpedia.org/wiki/National_Platform

(by Gene Berkman, Editor, California Libertarian Report)