Viktor Orbán Flatters Republicans

In his triumphant speech Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán played one of the oldest—and most morally grotesque—rhetorical cards in the central European diplomatic playbook: comparing the domestic political opponents of his audience with the totalitarian murderers who once subjugated his homeland.

“The Hungarians defeated communism, which was forced on us by Soviet troops and arms. It took a while. We began our fight in 1956 and won in 1990, but we did it,” Europe’s longest-serving prime minister said. “But communists are tough to beat. They rose from their ashes, came together with the liberals, and come back all around the world stronger than ever. If somebody has doubts whether progressive liberals and communists are the same, just ask us Hungarians. We fought them both, and I can tell you they are the same.”

The claim that communists have come back “stronger than ever” would surely be news to the three dozen or so modern-day countries whose populations in 1988 were still under the iron boot. Only in China, Vietnam, Laos, and Cuba have communist parties retained their monopoly on power. One could perhaps make the argument that current and former communists, after allowing for quasi-capitalistic economic activity, now have more internal strength and financial resources in China and post-Soviet Russia than they did in 1990, but that’s not an argument that Orbán, the best friend of both Moscow and Beijing within the European Union and NATO, is eager to make.

The conflation of contemporary Western lefties with former East bloc totalitarians, a favorite dinner-party trick of such perennially overrated post-communist politicians as former Czech President Václav Klaus, serves the dual purpose of flattering American conservatives that their parochial political concerns (about, say, gay marriage) are imbued with internationally heroic heft, while diverting attention away from the less seemly (and less traditionally conservative) record of the speaker.

Addressing a CPAC audience, Orbán made sure to shout out the conference’s patron saint: “We know what we have Ronald Reagan to thank for.” But that’s a considerably different song than he was singing two weeks ago in front of an audience of ethnic Hungarians in the Transylvania region of neighboring Romania.

There, in a speech that generated controversy for other reasons, the Hungarian actually compared Reagan to communists: “Historically, the Americans have had the ability to pick out what they identify as an evil empire and to call on the world to stand on the right side of history—a phrase which bothers us a little, as this is what the communists always said.”

Full Post by Matt Welch @ Reason

Kansas Voters Defend Freedom

In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade and ending Constitutional protections for abortion rights, conservative politicians in many states have moved to pass laws prohibiting abortion within their states. In some states, legislatures passed “trigger laws” before the Court ruling – laws that would go into effect if the Court ruled to end Roe v Wade.

In other states, legislators moved right after the ruling in Dobbs to pass new laws against abortion. And in some states conservatives relied on laws passed before Roe v Wade, but never repealed, which were then invoked.

In Kansas Republican politicians took a more extreme step. They qualified a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution that would declare that the Kansas Constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion, given the state government the power to prosecute individuals involved in abortion, and stated that the Kansas government is not required to fund abortions.

In 2019 the Kansas Supreme Court had ruled that the state Constitution protected a woman’s access to abortion. The Kansas Bill of Rights states that “all men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights.” The Court ruled that this clause includes “a woman’s right to make decisions about her body.”

In response the legislature voted to put the amendment – titled “Value Them Both” on the state ballot. The proposition was scheduled for a vote during the state-wide primary election, August 2, 2022. It was believed that some hot contests in the Republican primary would bring out many conservative voters; with few contested Democrat primaries, it was believed that turnout by moderate and liberal voters would be lower. It was also believed that non-affiliated voters – the largest part of the Kansas electorate – would not vote because they could not vote in candidate contests in the primary.

The Value Them Both amendment was backed by Catholic dioceses throughout Kansas, protestant evangelical groups, along with numerous opportunistic Republican politicians. Kansans for Constitutional Freedom ( was organized as a nonpartisan coalition to oppose the amendment.

The Kansas Libertarian Party also supported a “No” vote on Value Them Both.

And Kansas Libertarians were active in the campaign

In putting the proposed amenment on the ballot, the legislature clearly explained what the effect would be if Kansas voters rejected the amendment. The statement at the end of the ballot paper explained:”A vote against the Value Them Both Amendment would make no change in the Constitution of the state of Kansas, and could restrict the people, through their elected state legislators, from regulating abortion by leaving in place the recently recognized right to abortion.”

On August 2, polling places found themselves jammed with voters, including large numbers of non-affiliated voters who turned out just to vote against the anti-abortion amendment. In the first public vote on the abortion issue since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, the amendment to end abortion rights in Kansas went down to defeat.

It is clear that there was a large turnout in the Republican primary. More than 451,000 votes were cast in the Republican primary for Governor; the Democrat primary for Governor only saw 276,000 votes. In the Senate primary, Republican candidates received more than 464,000 votes; Democrat Senate candidates could only pull 226,000 votes. It would seem that the strategy of the anti-abortion conservatives should have succeeded, but it didn’t.

Not reflected in the votes for candidates in the partisan primary, large numbers of unaffiliated voters turned out, a clear majority of them to vote No on the Amendment. It would also appear that there were Republicans who still oppose government overreach. With current numbers, the Value Them Both Amendment is losing with 58% of voters voting NO.

The campaign against the Amendment was explicitly libertarian. The Los Angeles Times quotes Rachel Sweet, the campaign manager for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom:“Kansans across the political spectrum believe in personal liberty and freedom,” she said. “They understand that we must protect our constitutional rights and freedom to make private medical decisions, including those about abortion.”

The Times also mentions “In one ad, Kansans for Constitutional Freedom framed the measure as a “strict government mandate designed to interfere with private medical decisions,” and showed images that linked abortion restrictions to vaccine and mask mandates.”

In conservative Kansas, more people voted NO on the Value Them Both Amendment than voted for any Republican candidate in a contested primary. With 98% of votes counted, Derek Schmidt, victor in the Republican primary for Governor, has received 365,031 votes. With 98.2% counted, Jerry Moran won the Republican primary for US Senate with 374,994 votes (and counting). With 97.3% of votes tallied, 538,847 NO votes have been counted on the Value Them Both Amendment. A message to Republicans – in traditionally Republican Kansas, Abortion Rights are more popular than any Republican candidate.

A message to The Libertarian National Committee: in the first vote on Abortion Rights after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, the Libertarian message of personal freedom won an outstanding victory, with the support of Kansas Libertarians. Do you yet have any second thoughts about what you are doing to the Party of Liberty?

(By Gene Berkman, Editor, California Libertarian Report)

Rothbard, Branden discuss Cults

In the period after the publication of Atlas Shrugged in 1957, a young Murray Rothbard became involved in the Ayn Rand circle in New York. Rothbard brought several other young libertarians from his Circle Bastiat into the group.

Rothbard had been invited into the circle by Nathanial Branden after he wrote to Rand about how great her accomplishment was in writing Atlas Shrugged. Branden writes in Judgment Day:”The letter was movingly and beautifully written, profoundly insightful concerning what Ayn had accomplished in Atlas and full of what seemed like the most genuine appreciation and admiration. It was almost the model of an ideal fan letter, at the highest intellectual level.” (page 259).

It didn’t last. Rothbard came to see in the Ayn Rand circle what others came to see – acolytes looking up to a guru. After several months in the Ayn Rand circle, in a letter to Ludwig von Mises, Rothbard wrote that “the fanaticism with which they worship Rand and Branden has to be seen to be believed, the whole atmosphere being a kind of combination of a religious cult and a Trotskyite cell.” (quoted in Mises: the Last Night of Liberalism by Guido Huelsmann)

Nathanial Branden had his own reaction to Murray Rothbard:”Murray lived in New York and Ayn invited him to a meeting. While he clearly had striking intellectual gifts, I felt a stab of disappointment almost the first moment. fear and malice seemed to leap from his face.”

Soon Rothbard’s anarchism became an issue. Branden writes in Judgment Day (page 260): “We had a few debates with Murray about government and its necessity, which were initially calm and good natured. One evening he brought with him his own circle of friends —young students of economics, history and the like —all of whom were anarchists and all of whom, at least to my perception, had something of Murray’s manner about them, something fearful and given to sarcasm and hints of unidentified superiority. In appearance and style they were indistinguishible from any of the young socialists I had ever encountered.”

Objectivism and Libertarianism are both philosophies focused on individualism, and respect for individuality. Even such philosophies can lead to cult-like behavior. Murray Rothbard and Nathanial Branden have each warned us about cult behavior. It is up to us to protect our individuality and up to us to respect the individuality of others.

(By Gene Berkman, Editor, California Libertarian Report)

Murray Rothbard on Abortion

In the June 1971 issue of The Libertarian Forum, Murray Rothbard published a front page essay on libertarian strategy, titled How to Destatize. In this essay he looks at what libertarian activists were doing, and what libertarian activists were saying had to be done to bring about a free society.

After critiquing the “education” approach of right-wing libertarians, and the left-wing actions on May Day in 1971, Dr Rothbard looks at two victories for liberty in New York state – the end of rent control, and the legalization of abortion. New York state legalized abortion in 1970, three years after Gov. Ronald Reagan had signed a law to protect abortion rights in California in 1967. Rothbard credits the focus of the women’s movement on principle, and their willingness to act in support of principle, for pushing New York state to legalize abortion. Here is what he wrote in 1971:

“Abortion reform also had the ingredients of sound libertarian theory at work plus a crisis situation. The theory had been propounded for years by pro-abortion groups, but was accelerated recently by the fact that the Women’s Lib groups, in their raucous and annoying manner, had stumbled across a purely libertarian theory which they propounded with force and effect: that every woman has the absolute right to own and control her own body. The attention devoted to Women’s Lib by the media assured that the politicians finally were able to hear, not a wishywashy liberal plea for moderate abortion reform, but the “extreme” – and consistent – view that the State had no right to pass any abortion restrictions whatever.”

“While libertarian theory had been firmed up and spread more aggressively, a crisis situation was becoming ever more blatant: and this was the massive, non-violent civil disobedience of women and doctors who obtained their abortions illegally. And not only were increasing numbers of women and doctors willing to ignore the law; but others were increasingly willing to broaden the fuzzy zone that often exists between legality and illegality: for example, doctors willing to stretch the definition of “endangering the health of the mother”, which made abortion permissible. Furthermore, it was also becoming evident that, taking place as they did under conditions of illegality, the abortions were both unnecessarily expensive and unnecessarily dangerous. In the case of abortions, then, it was mass civil disobedience that brought about the crisis situation, while the spread of libertarian theory made the government more willing to turn· to the de-statizing solution, But not only theory: also the use of the theory to pressure the politicians, by petition, by noise, by threat of votes, etc.”

You can access The Libertarian Forum as PDF @ The Mises Instiute (Scroll down to June 1971)

With the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v Wade, and the actions of the “Mises” Caucus at the Recent Libertarian National Convention, it is necessary to reassert the libertarian commitment to personal rights, including the right to privacy and the right to self-ownership.

(By Gene Berkman, Editor, California Libertarian Report)

California Eliminates Cannabis Cultivation Tax, Effective Immediately

California’s regulated cannabis market just got a little bit more competitive with the robust illicit market that has continued to flex its power in the state. 

Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of a $308-billion state budget on June 30, California’s weight-based cannabis cultivation tax was eliminated—effective July 1, 2022.

The cultivation tax, which imposed a $161-per-pound rate on licensed growers—regardless of the current market value of cannabis—was abolished via Assembly Bill 195, which was attached as a trailer to the state budget.

On June 29, the California Senate passed A.B. 195 via a 34-0 vote, while the Assembly passed the measure, 69-1. Assemblymember Rudy Salas casted the lone no vote before Newsom signed the budget the following day. 

For Graham Farrar, co-founder and president of Glass House Brands, a Santa Barbara-based cannabis operator with more than a half a million square feet of cultivation space, A.B. 195 is in line with one of two main changes being advocated and echoed among the state’s license holders: less taxes and more retail.

“It’s huge,” Farrar said of killing the state’s cultivation tax. “You can charge a premium for licensed product because nobody prefers ‘bathtub gin,’ right? I think we’d all rather have licensed product, but there’s only so much premium people are willing to pay. So, less taxes narrows that gap [so the licensed growers have a chance to be competitive with the folks who aren’t paying taxes].”

Among the measures included in A.B. 195, the bill also maintains a 15% cannabis excise tax but moves the collection of that excise tax from distributors to point of retail sale by Jan. 1, 2023.

Full Report @ California NORML

Russians Urged to Snitch on Ukraine War Critics in Return to Soviet-Style Denunciations

Following Russia’s bombing of a drama theatre in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in March, St. Petersburg-based artist Alexandra Skochilenko swapped supermarket price tags with stickers containing information about the attack that reportedly killed hundreds of civilians.

A fellow store customer reported her act of resistance to the police.

“I was extremely outraged by the slander I read because I worry a lot about Russian soldiers in Ukraine,” the 72-year-old informant claimed in testimony published by local media.

Soon after, Skochilenko, 31, was arrested for spreading “false information” about the Russian Army — a crime under new legislation that is being used to clamp down on information deviating from the Kremlin’s narrative of the war in Ukraine.

Skochilenko is one of dozens of Russians who have been criminally charged for anti-war actions or statements since the invasion began on Feb. 24. 

Many have been reported to police by family, neighbors and passersby in a trend analysts say harks back to Soviet denunciations — and is being actively encouraged by Russian authorities.

Complete Post @ The Moscow Times

 Without Roe v. Wade, Litigants Look to State Constitutions for Protection of Abortion Rights

Several state supreme courts already have recognized the right to terminate a pregnancy. Will more states join the list?

JACOB SULLUM | 6.30.2022 6:30 PM

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Abortion-rights supporters demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 30, 2022.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion. But several state supreme courts have rejected abortion bans as inconsistent with state constitutional provisions, and current litigation over new restrictions seeks to enforce such precedents or create new ones.

Those lawsuits have met with some initial success in Michigan, where a judge ruled in May that the state constitution protects abortion rights, and Florida, where a judge said the same on Thursday. Some lawsuits do not claim constitutional protection for abortion rights but instead seek to delay implementation of “trigger” bans designed to take effect after the reversal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 precedent that the Supreme Court repudiated in Dobbs. Here is a rundown of where things stand.



In 1997, the Alaska Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the state constitution “protects reproductive autonomy, including the right to abortion.” The court cited Article I, Section 22 of the Alaska Constitution, which was adopted in 1972 and says, “The right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall not be infringed.”

The justices concluded that “a woman’s control of her body, and the choice whether or when to bear children, involves the kind of decision-making that is “necessary for…civilized life and ordered liberty.” They added that “our prior decisions support the further conclusion that the right to an abortion is the kind of fundamental right and privilege encompassed within the intention and spirit of Alaska’s constitutional language.”


In 1969, four years before Roe established a constitutional right to abortion, the California Supreme Court ruled that a state law allowing a woman to obtain an abortion only when it is “necessary to preserve her life” was so vague that it violated the right to due process. It said “a definition requiring certainty of death,” as urged by the government, “would work an invalid abridgment of the woman’s constitutional rights,” including “the woman’s rights to life and to choose whether to bear children.”

The justices reasoned that “the fundamental right of the woman to choose whether to bear children follows from the Supreme Court’s and this court’s repeated acknowledgment of a ‘right of privacy’ or ‘liberty’ in matters related to marriage, family, and sex.” They noted that “none of the parties who have filed briefs in this case have disputed the existence of this fundamental right.”

Complete Post by Jacob Sullum @ Reason

Investigations Uncover Russia’s Alleged Ukrainian Grain Smuggling

Satellite images and GPS data indicate that Russia could be exporting grain smuggled out of occupied Ukrainian territory, investigations by the BBC and the Financial Times have revealed.  

Russia has been accused by Western powers of using food as a weapon in its war with Ukraine by targeting the country’s grain storage facilities and blockading its Black Sea exports.

The Financial Times said its analysis of satellite photographs and port records indicated that Russia had exported around 140,000 tons of grain in eight shipments from annexed Crimea to Syria and Turkey in May.

The figures mark an unseasonal increase in the volume of grain exports at the sanctioned Crimean port compared with previous years.

The publication also tracked activity consistent with the smuggling of looted goods, such as vessels switching off their transponders in violation of international law, using ship-to-ship transfers at sea and forging paperwork to obscure the origins of its cargo.

Full Report @ The Moscow Times

Libertarian National Committee to Meet, July 3

The Libertarian National Committee will hold a zoom meeting on July 3, 2022. This will be the first meeting of the new Libertarian National Committee since the close of the Libertarian National Convention. More information on the meeting is available @

At the Libertarian National Convention, the new chair Angela McArdle promised that the LP would be bold in defending liberty. She promises that the Libertarian Party would not embarrass libertarians.

Now Ms McArdle has a chance to make good on those promises. The Supreme Court has just overturned Roe v Wade, allowing state governments to regulate or prohibit abortions for women who want to have them. For 50 years the Libertarian Party has been explicit in its support for a woman’s right to control her own body, including the right to terminate a pregnancy.

Prominent defenders of liberty have long supported a woman’s right to choose. Ayn Rand has spoken out and written against restrictions on abortion and birth control. Sen. Barry Goldwater stated his own belief that abortion should be legal. n 1967 Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the first law that protected a woman’s right to abortion. In his essay in the June 1971 issue of Libertarian Forum on “How to Destatize,” Dr Murray Rothbard pointed to the campaign to legalize abortion in New York as an example of how to cut state power.

Now is the time for The Libertarian Party to stand with those who defend a woman’s right to freedom and body autonomy. The recent national convention adopted a plank on body autonomy, denouncing government rules on what Americans can do with their own body. We can hope that the LNC, inspired by the new plank, will adopt a strong statement in support of a woman’s right to choose, and a strong stand againsts thoses states – and those statists – who would control people’s bodies through violent coercion.

Don’t embarrass us, Angela!

Alito’s Abortion Ruling Overturning Roe Is an Insult to the 9th Amendment

At the heart of Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturns Roe v. Wade (1973) and eliminates the constitutional right to abortion, is Alito’s objection that “the Constitution makes no mention of abortion.” For Alito and the many legal conservatives who think like him, unenumerated constitutional rights are inherently suspect. When a court recognizes an unenumerated right, these conservatives say, that court is almost certainly guilty of judicial activism.

But this conservative mindset is at odds with constitutional text and history, both of which make clear that unenumerated rights are entitled to the same respect as the small handful of rights that the Constitution specifically lists.

Remember that when the Constitution was first ratified, it did not yet contain its famous first 10 amendments, otherwise known as the Bill of Rights. Those amendments arrived a few years later. They were added in response to the fierce criticism leveled against the Constitution by the Anti-Federalists, who opposed ratification on several grounds, one of which was that the document lacked a bill of rights, and therefore, in their view, left a number of key rights unprotected (because unmentioned).

The Federalists, who labored on behalf of the Constitution’s ratification, rejected this argument. Why? Because, explained James Wilson, one of the leading figures at the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention, “if we attempt an enumeration, everything that is not enumerated is presumed to be given.” And the consequence of that, Wilson told the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention, “is, that an imperfect enumeration would throw all implied power into the scale of the government; and the rights of the people would be rendered incomplete.”

Full commentary by Damon Root @ Reason