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Category Archives: Libertarianism

N.Y. Primary: Who Is on the Ballot? – The New York Times

Posted: June 22, 2020 at 6:01 pm

Bronx: Representative Jose E. Serrano, the longest-tenured Hispanic congressman, is retiring. Twelve Democrats are running to replace him, including:

Councilman Rubn Daz Sr., a socially conservative Pentecostal minister;

Councilman Ritchie J. Torres, who became the first openly gay elected official in the Bronx;

Assemblyman Michael Blake, a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee;

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who ran unsuccessfully for public advocate last year; and

Melissa Mark-Viverito, the former City Council speaker.

Buffalo/Rochester: A special election will fill the House seat formerly held by Chris Collins, a Republican who resigned in the fall before pleading guilty to federal insider trading charges.

Chris Jacobs, a Republican, is running against Nate McMurray, a Democrat, and Duane Whitmer, a libertarian, to serve out the remainder of Mr. Collinss term. Regardless of the outcome, both Mr. Jacobs and Mr. McMurray have vowed to run until November, when another election will determine who will serve a full two years in the House.

Rockland/Westchester: The race to replace Representative Nita Lowey, a Democrat who is retiring after more than three decades, is a seven-way free-for-all.

The candidates include: Adam Schleifer, a former federal prosecutor and a son of a billionaire, who has spent more than $4 million on the race; Mondaire Jones, a former lawyer and progressive upstart; Evelyn Farkas, a former member of the Obama administration; and David Carlucci, a state senator.

Brooklyn: Representative Yvette Clarke, a Democrat, narrowly fended off a challenge in 2018 from a first-time candidate, Adem Bunkeddeko.

He is again running for that seat, along with Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who has avoided the public spotlight and opportunities to meet voters throughout most of the district; and Alex Hubbard and Isiah James, rivals whose campaign offices are in the same building.

[This is a change election: Will two entrenched House members fall?]

Queens: Five candidates are running for borough president in a special election: Councilmen Costa Constantinides and Donovan Richards; Elizabeth Crowley, a former councilwoman; Anthony Miranda, a retired police sergeant; and Dao Yin, an activist and former businessman.

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We Watched the Libertarian Party Vice Presidential Debate So You Didn’t Have To – Reason

Posted: May 27, 2020 at 6:45 pm

Three leading contenders for the Libertarian Party (L.P.) vice presidential nomination debated remotely Thursday night, moderated by old party hand Jim Turney.

Larry Sharpe was a close runner-up for the V.P. nod in 2016, getting nearly 47 percent on the second ballot against winner William Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts. Though the party's delegates choose president and vice president via separate votes, Sharpe has been linking himself with Judge James Gray, one of the presidential candidates. Sharpe stressed their ticket's focus on helping party growth and down-ticket candidates in his opening statements.

Spike Cohen, who emphasized his decades of business experience and currently runs Muddied Waters Media, has linked himself to presidential hopeful Vermin Supreme. He did not, however, stress this during the debate, though, the way Sharpe did with Gray.

Ken Armstong is a former NATO base commander in Italy as well as a former Alaskan pipeline worker.

The candidates were mostly asked how they would message and campaign. Cohen noted his media ability to reach millions of Americans in an entertaining, engaging matter that focuses on libertarian fundamentals of self-ownership and non-aggression. He says he's been successful going door-to-door and talking to people all over, from college campuses to housing projects, showing them how the system of government control is designed to fail the people while helping those in power and their connected pals. He says Americans acutely understand, due to this pandemic, that something is seriously wrong with the status quo and that his "empathetic, sympathetic" approach that tries to drill in on people's problems and offer libertarian solutions will work best. Cohen sums up his message as: "You own yourself, your life, your body and your labor and your property, and we stand alongside you against anyone who tries to take it from you."

Armstrong said he's been on the road campaigning for a year already, and proudly noted his endorsement by the Libertarian Pragmatist Caucus. He thinks the bad example of government tyranny and failure in the pandemic means "you don't need to do much convincing" this year to show people government is not the solution.

Sharpe suggested his experience as an executive coach and Libertarian candidate for governor of New York in 2018 gives him the ability to sell libertarianism as something "radical enough to make people go, 'Hmm,' but at the same time familiar enough to go, 'Oh yeah, that's not so crazy, I can say "Yes."'" He was proud of discussing marijuana legalization in terms of, "regulate cannabis like onions," to make legalization feel both radical but familiar and doable. He mentioned his first attraction to libertarian ideas was through business writer Robert Ringer, but his attachment to the party came through Gary Johnson's 2012 campaign.

Cohen said his experience running a business and seeing how regulations and taxes make it harder every step of the way for business owners, employees, and customers turned him from his neoconservative past. He then fell deep into libertarian scripture due to works like Frederic Bastiat's The Law and Lysander Spooner'sNo Treason.

Armstrong cheekily credits the Democratic Party in Hawaii, which he used to work with, for turning on him over his objection to a tax increase and pushing him toward the L.P. He thinks his life experience as someone who had worked with both minimum wage workers and people at the highest level of government will give him wide appeal.

Sharpe, who is African-American, stresses that his preferred presidential choiceformer California Superior Court Judge James Grayis someone who people will "listen to [even though he's] being different because he looks similar," then proudly noted how well he'd navigated the thorny question of minority representation in the ticket. "See how I spun this? I'm good at this. This is why I should" get the vice presidential nod. Sharpe also says he learned from his gubernatorial run that money is even more vital than he knew if the ticket expects to be polled or get national media attention.

They were all pro-immigration, with Armstrong discussing, as a short-term goal, a free-trade zone funded by businesses along the U.S.-Mexican border. While all agreed on retreating from overseas commitments, Armstrong stressed that we needed to do so gradually because of the bad effects a swift pullout might have, like in Okinawa, Japan, where our presence has been relied on for so long. Cohen was more emotionally charged in his attack on the system of intervention that has cost so many lives and so much treasure.

Sharpe emphasized that a Gray/Sharpe ticket would do the most for down-ticket L.P. candidate support. He said he believes the only realistic chance Gray has of winning the presidency is if the election goes to the House of Representatives because no one candidate gets an electoral college majority, which would sadly mean that he, Sharpe, would have no chance of actually becoming vice president. That's because the Senate, who would make that pick if that happens, is required by law to choose from among the top two actual vote-getters. (The House can pick from the top three for president.) Armstrong strongly insisted the L.P. ticket must run as if it could (and would) straight-up win the election.

The Libertarian Party will have delegates chosen by its state parties selecting its presidential ticket in an online convention this weekend. The president is chosen first, starting Saturday, with the vice presidential vote scheduled for Sunday.

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That Time the Libertarian Party Debated the Private Ownership of Nuclear Weapons – Reason

Posted: at 6:45 pm

The Libertarian Party plans to choose its presidential nominee tomorrow. The process will take place online, thanks to the coronavirus, so this weekend C-SPAN addicts will be denied the pleasure of watching live as delegates meet in person to discuss the finer points of their platform.

Fortunately, C-SPAN's website includes hundreds of hours of old programming. And deep in those archives, you'll find one of the more entertaining blips in Libertarian Party history: a debate over whether the law should allow the private ownership of nuclear weapons.

I can't embed the video, but you can view it here. It was shot in Chicago in 1991, at the convention that picked the former Alaska state legislator Andre Marrou as the Libertarian candidate for president. (In those days, the Libertarian Party nominated its slate a year before the major parties did.) The delegates were considering a revamped version of the platform's anti-gun-control plank, and the debate had mostly dealt with minor matters of how certain sentences should be worded. Then a fellow from New Hampshire rose to propose an amendment: "We advocate the right of all private citizens to own any weapon or device which any government agency possesses."

The crowd greeted this with a mixture of applause and laughter. Someone seconded it, and then the formal debate began.

At one end of the spectrum was an Indiana delegate who felt that "given the current statethe police stateit makes no sense" for the federal government to have better weapons than the taxpayers. At the other end was Ed Clark, the party's presidential nominee in 1980, who argued that civilized people should favor the abolition of nuclear weapons, not their more widespread ownership. One man made the rather reasonable point that there's a difference between weapons that can be targeted at specific aggressors and weapons that by their nature hurt innocent civilians. Some folks didn't bother weighing in on whether the plank was philosophically sound, instead pointing out that the party's candidates would probably prefer not to deal with press queries about private nukes.

But the key moment of the debatethe comment that seemed to sum up thousands of intra-libertarian ideological battlescame about two minutes into the discussion, when a delegate rose to speak in favor of the amendment. "I think it's an absolutely abhorrent idea," he said, "but it is consistent."

The economist Clifford Thies eventually found a way to split the baby, offering some substitute language calibrated to appeal both to voters who dreamed of owning their own WMDs and voters who would ban the bomb: "Any weapon denied individuals should likewise be denied governments." This attracted some opposition from a delegate who felt it implied support for unilateral disarmament, but the assembled body liked it enough to make it, rather than the original amendment, the language being considered by the floor.

And then, having defeated the first proposal, they voted down Thies's replacement as well. The finished platform did not address the private ownership of nukes and nerve gas. That's the Libertarian Party for you: not radical enough to please the purists, but still willing to put them on national television.

(For past editions of the Friday A/V Club, go here.)

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The truth about ‘I’m with her’ – CNN

Posted: at 6:44 pm

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You Dont Have to Like the Decree, But Wear Face Masks Anyway – Bacon’s Rebellion

Posted: at 6:44 pm

Wise King Ralph keeps a face mask at the ready.

by James A. Bacon

Im still digesting Governor Ralph Northams face-mask mandate, but my initial reaction is that it could be worse. I dislike the coercive aspect of his executive order. But requiring Virginians to wear face masks in public buildings and places of commerce is less intrusive than compelling businesses and workplaces to shut down. If ordering people to wear face masks allows Northam to feel better about loosening other restrictions, then its a net gain.

Theres an element to the face mask debate that I find curiously neglected in the conservative/libertarian commentary Ive seen. Conservatives and libertarians tout the virtue of personal responsibility. Regardless of whether or not face coverings protect you from getting the COVID-19 virus, they do reduce the chances that you will spread the virus. If we believe in personal responsibility as an alternative to government coercion, conservatives and libertarians need to live their values by acting responsibly.

I would go one step further: If conservatives and libertarians want to see Northam release his Vulcan Death Grip on Virginias economy, they should do everything within their power to ensure that the coronavirus does not spread. If Virginia sees a significant uptick in the spread of the virus, thats all the Governor needs to back peddle on his timid reversal of emergency shutdown measures.

There are good reasons to oppose the mandate. The Richmond Times-Dispatch actually gives a decent summary here:

Clark Mercer, Northams chief of staff, said health inspectors at the agency had the power to pull a license to operate if a business is found out of compliance with health regulations.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police earlier Tuesday strongly opposed a face mask requirement, arguing that it could force businesses to enforce it, potentially exposing them to dangerous encounters.

The police chiefs association said the order turns good advice into a mandate that will be enforced with trespassing citations and by physically removing violators from businesses.

The group argued it destroys police/community relations and puts business owners in a no-win situation: either be prepared to confront people you value as customers, or avoid the risk of a potentially violent confrontation by keeping your business closed.

I fully share those concerns, and they are worth highlighting in the hope of reversing the mandate. But at the end of the day, Northam has virtually limitless power to rule by emergency decree. While we should work to limit that power legislatively and constitutionally, that is a long-term project. In the short term, we need to reopen the economy, and given Northams mindset and the fact that he has the power and we dont, that means doing what we can to drive the COVID-19 infection rate down.

Exercise personal responsibility: Wear masks and protect others from the virus.


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Justin Amash, Ross Perot and the third-party future: Ranked choice voting is the answer – Salon

Posted: at 6:44 pm

When Ross Perot, the most successful third-party presidential candidate in modern political history, argued against the North American Free Trade Agreement, he memorably described its potential negative effects as a "giant sucking sound."

As Rep. Justin Amash considered seeking the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination, he heard something else. More like a giant hissing sound. Aimed in his direction.

Democrats called the Michigan congressman a spoiler. Republicans he once worked with called him a giant egoist. On Twitter and cable news panels, politicos debated whether the Republican-turned-independent would drain less-government conservatives from President Trump, or anti-Trump conservatives from former Vice President Joe Biden.

When Amash officially announced that he would not run, there was a giant exhalation sound: A massive sigh of relief from Democrats and Republicans alike.

It's easy to understand the passion. The stakes are always high in presidential politics, perhaps never more so than amida pandemic and a global economic turndown.

Libertarians will still nominate a candidate who will appear on most state ballots, as will the Greens. But now that a third-party challenger as well-known as Amash appears unlikely in 2020, the Democrats and Republicans who fretted that a prominent Libertarian candidate would spoil everything for their side this fall should pick up an insurance policy for next time. We could avoid all this exhausting hand-wringing in 2024 if we simply adopted ranked choice voting.

This isn't just about making life fairer for third parties. Democrats and Republicans would be acting in their own self-interest. We've always had third parties. Many of them have made advanced important principles and improved our politics. And sometimes as in the case ofPerot in 1992 and 1996, Ralph Nader in 2000, and Gary Johnson and Jill Stein in 2016 they've also contributed to outcomes where a president has been elected with less than50 percent of the vote.

Let's fix that. The problem is with a system that allows candidates to win with a mere plurality. That's what ranked choice voting cures. It's why Maine has changed its rules, and for the first time this fall will allow voters to cast a ranked choice ballot for president. It's time for every state to follow.

RCV functions like an instant runoff. Voters don't have to pick one candidate. They get to rank the entire field instead. If someone captures 50 percent in the first round, they win. If not, the candidate in last place is eliminated, and those votes are reshuffled to backup choices. It's a better way to vote, and assures the fairest result.

The fairest result. That's what all those Democrats and Republicans really wanted, ironically enough, as they pushed Amash to the sideline. They wanted to avoid, once again, an outcome where a handful of third-party voters created a plurality winner and tipped the result one way or the other. RCV delivers that outcome. It puts a permanent end to spoilers. It eliminates the possibility of a plurality winner nabbing all of a state's Electoral College votes. It neutralizes third parties as a threat and incentivizes Democrats and Republicans to court their supporters, rather than blaming anyone who doesn't view the contrasts between the two sides as clearly and identically as they do.

Amash is the second prominent independent to stand down from a third-party bid. Last year, Starbucks founder Howard Schultz pondered a run and found the reception icy. Prominent commentators, even some who likely joined him at Aspen or Davos cocktail parties, now derided him as "dangerous" or a "fool," accused him of blackmailing the nation to keep his taxes low, and urged Schultz to take his billions and do something that wouldn't "ruin the world."

Ultimately, neither Schultz nor Amashdecided to run. But Democrats and Republicans might not be so lucky next time. And there will always be millions of Americans who wish they had a different choice. They will have reasons, whether that's simply about sending a message, a specific policy divideor a character issue they can't overlook. Give them the power to send that message. Then let them rank their next choice.

When Amash announced his decision on Twitter, he bemoaned a polarized public, and too many people who are too quick to view every debate through red and blue lenses. "Social media and traditional media are dominated by voices strongly averse" to "a viable third candidate," Amash wrote. He raises a valid concern but one that's not likely to change in our current winner-takes-all, first-past-the-post system.

Third parties have an important role to play in this conversation as well. After all, they can't expect to be welcomed to the table given the reality of the system. Perhaps that creates a role for Amash during this campaign, as an evangelist for ranked choice voting and the importance of electoral reform. Here's potential common ground for Democrats, Republicans and third parties alike. The major parties fear spoilers. Independents don't like to feel bullied. All of us want fairer elections. Nobody likes a giant sucking sound. There's more common ground here than we think.

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An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere – Modern Diplomacy

Posted: May 14, 2020 at 5:57 pm

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has become the articulate, compassionate political face of government competence in fighting a pandemic.

Thats quite an achievement for a man who as late as early March 2020 trumpeted: Excuse our arrogance as New Yorkers We think we have the best healthcare system on the planet right here in New York. So, when youre saying what happened in other countries versus what happened here, we dont even think its going to be as bad as it was in other countries. We are fully coordinated; we are fully mobilized.

New York was neither fully coordinated, nor was it fully mobilized.

In fact, it became the pandemics prime hotspot in the United States, accounting for the highest number of infection cases and the highest mortality rate. Its hospitals were overwhelmed, its stockpiles depleted, its frontline workers perilously exposed to risk of contagion. Many of the deaths could have been prevented had Mr. Cuomo opted to lock down the Big Apple earlier.

For now, that recent history has largely been forgotten. Mr. Cuomo thrives in his element, a rising star on Americas political ferment. His sober but empathetic, fact-based daily briefings project him as a man in command with a mission to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of his state.

If Mr. Cuomo, a veteran of dealing with the aftermaths of disasters like Hurricane Sandy, learnt anything from his delayed response to the coronavirus pandemic, it was that an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere.

Unlike other epidemics in recent years such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS in the early 2000s, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2012 or the eruption of Ebola in West Africa in 2014, the coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19, left no corner of the globe untouched.

It is a lesson that goes to the heart of all that is wrong with global, regional, and national healthcare governance. It is a lesson that calls into question social and economic policies that have shaped the world for decades irrespective of political system.

It is also a lesson that goes to the core of the relationship between government and the people. It positions social trust as a pillar of an effective healthcare policy in a time of crisis.

In an era of defiance and dissent as a result of a breakdown in confidence in political systems and political leadership that kicked off with Occupy Wall Street and the 2011 Arab popular revolts and led to the rise of populists, mass anti-government demonstrations and in 2019 the toppling of leaders in Algeria, Sudan, Lebanon and Iraq, lack of trust complicated government efforts to counter the virus.

Distrust persuaded many Iranians to initially refuse to heed public health warnings to maintain social distancing, stay at home and install an Android app designed to help people self-diagnose and avoid rushing to hospital.

Pakistanis put their faith in religious leaders who rejected government demands for a halt to congregational prayers. So did many Russians as bans on mass gatherings split the clergy and threatened to undermine the Russian Orthodox Churchs key support for President Vladimir Putin.

Post-mortems of governments handling of the crisis once the coronavirus has been contained could increase the trust deficit.

Moreover, in an indication of pent-up anger and frustration that could explode, the imposition of curfews and stay-at-home orders failed to prevent incidental outbursts, including protests in mid-American states, quarantined Egyptian villages and poorer Tunisian and Moroccan hamlets.

In an echo of the Tunisian vendor who sparked the 2011 Arab revolts, 32-year-old unemployed and physically disabled Hammadi Chalbi set himself alight in a town 160 kilometres southwest of Tunis after authorities refused to license him as a fruit seller. In Lebanon, a taxi driver set his vehicle on fire while fruit vendors dumped their goods in the streets in expressions of mounting discontent. The protests suggest a universal corollary with the pandemic: an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere.

Protesters in 2019 went beyond demanding the fall of a leader. They sought the fall of political elites and radical overhaul of failed political systems. The pandemic called an abrupt halt to the protests. Protesters like the rest of the population went into temporary hibernation.

When they re-emerge, they are likely to put government leaders who prioritized political advantage above their health and economical well-being at a cost that surpasses that of the 1929 Great Depression on par with crimes committed against humanity during times of war.

Social, economic, ethnic, and sectarian fault lines are likely to be hardened in countries like Pakistan and Iraq where militants stepped in with healthcare and other social services to fill voids created by lack of government capacity.

The pandemic further painfully illustrated the economic cost of not only failing to confront a health crisis in a timely fashion but also the risk inherent in policies that do not ensure proper healthcare infrastructure in every corner of the globe, guarantee equal access to healthcare, make sure that people irrespective of income have proper housing and nutrition, turn a blind eye to the destruction of healthcare facilities in conflict situations like Syria, Yemen, Libya, Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, Myanmar, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, tolerate millions of refugees existing in sub-standard living and hygiene conditions, and disregard environmental degradation and climate change.

The pandemic casts a spotlight on the deprivation of populations of proper healthcare as a result of politically motivated discriminatory social and economic policies.

The non-discriminatory nature of the coronavirus forced the Israeli government to ramp up testing in communities of Israeli Palestinians which had been described by public health experts as a ticking time bomb.

The experts warned that Israeli Palestinians, who figured prominently among frontline doctors and nurses treating Jews and Palestinians alike, were an at-risk group, many of whom suffer from chronic diseases, live in crowded conditions, and are socially and economically disadvantaged.

Ramping up testing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 constitutes an immediate effort to stem the tide but does little to structurally prepare Israeli and Palestinian society for the next pandemic.

Pre-dominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem is gravely neglected in every possible way in terms of the infrastructure. Most neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem dont have sewage systems. Just about every possible public service you can think of is underbudgeted and lacking in East Jerusalem. The only thing they get a lot of is parking fines and (punitive) housing demolition orders, said left-wing member of the Jerusalem municipal council Laura Wharton.

A Monopoly board centred on Jerusalem given to her by Moshe Lion, the citys mayor and a former economic advisor and director general of prime minister Benyamin Netanyahus office, illustrates the political calculus that potentially puts not only Jews and Palestinians but populations elsewhere at risk in a future pandemic.

You have here the City of David, the Mount of Olives, the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), the Montefiore windmill, the markets, (the ultra-orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of) Mea Shearim. Al Aqsa (the third holiest Muslim site) is not here, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is not here. Basically what you have is a bunch of Jewish sites and various illusions to other things. Its not a very balanced picture of Jerusalem, Ms. Wharton noted pointing at various landmarks on the board.

African Americans, Hispanics and native Americans tell the story, They have fallen disproportionately victim in the United States to the coronavirus.

US surgeon general Dr. Jerome Adams, a 45-year old African American vice admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, one of Americas eight uniformed services, pulled out his inhaler at a White House press briefing in April 2020, saying hes carried it around for 40 years, out of fear of having a fatal asthma attack.

Looking fit and trim in his dark uniform, Mr. Adams said he also had a heart condition and high blood pressure. I represent that legacy of growing up poor and black in America. And I, and many black Americans, are at higher risk for COVID.

The surgeon general said that its alarming but not surprising that people of colour have a greater burden of chronic health conditions. African Americans and native Americans develop high blood pressure at much younger ages and (the virus) does greater harm to their organs. Puerto Ricans have higher rates of asthma and black boys are three times (more) likely to die of asthma than their white counterparts. People of colour are more likely to live in densely packed areas and multi-generational housing, situations which create higher risk for the spread of a highly contagious disease like COVID-19. We tell people to wash their hands, but a study shows that 30 percent of homes of the Navajo nation dont have running water, so how are they going to do that?

What goes for one of the wealthiest nations on earth goes for the rest of the world too, particularly with the last two decades suggesting that pandemics occur more frequently and are likely to do so going forward.

What started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 had by April 2020 brought the world to a virtual standstill. Millions across the globe were infected, tens of thousands did not survive, economies shut down and the prospects for recovery and return to what was normal seemed a mere hope in a distant future.

Andrew Cuomo may be the exception that confirms the rule. There is little in the response of leaders from Chinas Xi Jingping to Russias Vladimir Putin, Turkeys Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald J. Trump that suggests that the lesson that an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere has persuaded them to think in terms of structural change.

If the first six months of the coronavirus are anything to go by, the name of the game has been jockeying for political positions, ideology trumps science, and everyone for him or herself in a race to the bottom rather than apolitical banding together globally, regionally and nationally to fight a dangerous and debilitating common enemy.

The response to the pandemic reflected the crumbling of the post-World War Two international order that is in the grips of a struggle by big and medium-sized powers to shape global governance in the 21st century.

The struggle has already crippled the United Nations and politicization of the coronavirus and healthcare threatens to undermine the World Health Organization, the one, albeit flawed, structure capable of coordinating a global response.

Complicating the response, was the rise of civilizationalists like Mr. Xi, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, Hungarian prime minister Victor Orban and Mr. Trump who think in civilizational rather than national terms.

They conceive of their nations as civilizations in which Hans, Hindus or Christians rule supreme and there is no equal place for minorities rather than nation states defined by legally recognized borders, population, and language.

Theirs is a world of neglect for international law, increased conflict, political violence, and mass migration that promises to be even less prepared for the next pandemic. It is also a world in which early warning systems are weakened by muzzling of a free press.

Former US president Barak Obama, in his opening blast against Trump in the run-up to the November presidential election, put his finger on the pulse.

What we are fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided and seeing others an enemy, that that has become a stronger impulse in American life. And by the way, you know, we are seeing that internationally as well. And its part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anaemic and spotty It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset of whats in it for me and to heck with everybody else when that mindset is operationalized in our government, Mr. Obama told a virtual gathering of his former staffers.

The pandemic demonstrates the need for coordinated policies ranging from global, regional, and national stock piling, international cooperation in medical research and development, conflict mediation, protection of minority rights, environment, absorption of refugees and robust but diversified supply chains.

It also highlights the importance to healthcare of eradication of poverty and proper social security nets, housing, hygiene, and access to water in a world in which an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere.

The pandemic positions an approach towards healthcare that is integrated into sustainable social and economic policies as a matter of global and national security on par with regional and national defense and security policies and investments.

It also raises the question of what role major non-governmental institutions like the Clinton Initiative, George Soros and the Gates Foundation can play.


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Libertarian Party To Choose Its Presidential Ticket in Virtual Vote Over Memorial Day Weekend – Reason

Posted: May 11, 2020 at 11:37 am

The Libertarian Party's National Committee (LNC) decided by a 134 vote today, after a tortuous 8-hour Zoom meeting, to divide the party's convention business into two parts.

The first will be an online meeting over the same Memorial Day weekend during which the scotched in-person convention was supposed to occur in Austin, Texas. At this online meeting, "nomination and balloting for party candidates for President and Vice-President" will occur.

Then a follow-up physical convention will be held in Orlando, Florida, from July 812. While the LNC did not formally commit yet to a contracted venue, they received a presentation from the Rosen Shingle Creek resort that seems to be a favorite.

The realities of the pandemic led the original convention hotel to cancel the party's reservation. Some expected that last Saturday the LNC would commit to a non-physical option, but instead, they voted to give themselves another 10 days to set up an alternate physical convention to occur before July 15.

Lots of debate stormed in the week between about parliamentary, legal, and physical possibilities and impossibilities. That debate continued during today's marathon LNC meeting.

Some insisted the word "place" in the party's bylaws (Article 10), had to mean a physical place, and thus conducting official convention business online would violate those bylaws. A vast amount of time today was spent on the metaphysical question of "what is a place?" and the proper reasonable meaning of "impossible."

Others insisted that Robert's Rules of Order was making new adjustments for the pandemic reality of electronic meetings; some argued that regardless of whether some electronic meetings are allowed under Robert's, Article 12 of the party bylaws did mention that "Boards and committees may conduct business by teleconference or videoconference." Yet! Article 10 did not specify that a convention could. Some believed that notmentioning virtual specifically as possible for conventions meant such online conventions were prohibited.

Some believed that if Robert's Rules and the Libertarian Party bylaws prevented the organization from performing the very purposes that bylaws and Robert's Rules are supposed to help with (not prevent), such stringent interpretation was perverse and unnecessary. Some mocked the idea that any available physical place could possibly hold nearly 1,000 people and conduct business with safe social distancing, but Orlando's Rosen Shingle Creek thinks it can.

Some worried, during the meeting and in online chatter, that the progress of the law or the pandemic might make the party have to eventually cancel the in-person portion in July later anyway. Many also worry that the combination of the pandemic and the presidential vote having already occurred will encourage lots of would-be delegates to not show up in Orlando even if an in-person event does happen, leaving whoever wins the party officer positions (and other issues settled) at that in-person convention under a shadow moving forward.

Lots of back and forth happened today about whether it mattered much that it was merely difficult or inadvisable for people to travel to an in-person convention during a pandemic; after all, there is always somereason a delegate a state party picked might not make it to the actual convention. Some thought it made the party look criminally irresponsible to encourage 1,000 people to travel across the country to descend on a city, then scatter; some thought it made them look like they were kowtowing to tyrannical fears and supportive of shutting down American business to notdo that.

Outgoing LNC chair Nicholas Sarwark (he is not running for re-election) said in a phone interview before the meeting that he believed "the best [thing] for the party to do would be to set the national convention for Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend" (to honor the commitments of time already made by delegates), but hold it "in an online venue like Zoom, and have prepared a motion to modify the convention agenda" to move most convention business outside "LNC, judicial, presidential, and vice-presidential elections" to some later, potentially in-person convention, since most other business and motions would be difficult to do online. This is more or less what happened, though today's recommendation has LNC and judicial votes pushed to the later in-person meeting.

Daniel Hayes, head of the convention oversight committee, said in a phone interview before the meeting that an in-person convention was vital for media attention; this is likely so, though shifting the presidential vote into the virtual earlier convention likely will drain some media interest from the physical followup. Out of an abundance of caution over whether some entity might later decide the decision of a virtual presidential vote was technically against the rules, the outcome of the Memorial Day online vote will need to be ratified by the July in-person convention.

LNC Secretary Caryn Ann Harlos was one of the leading voices, at first, for an in-person convention only, but was key in offering a version of the "presidential vote electronic, rest in person later" compromise. Overarchingly, she thinks talk of evading inconvenient bylaw interpretations for whatever reason is violating the "contract with members," since she sees the bylaws as a contractual agreement the LNC has made with the party's members.

Harlos thinks, though, that since their very purpose as a party is to run national candidates, a compromise that allows that and only that business to be done electronically was acceptable, as waiting much longer would conflict with certain state's ballot access deadlines. However, she believes "merely being scared of a virus" was not a good enough reason to mess around with the bylaws' clear language.

The LNC has been experimenting this week with Zoom meetings that emulate the functions of a normal convention, though some participants have found them lacking, subject to both technical glitches and giving presiding officers more power to control how delegates can communicate than in an in-person meeting.

The LNC doesn't have the power to tell the actual delegates assembled that they can only do specific things at a convention, so the choice to only do the presidential vote at whatever electronic meeting commences will ultimately have to be made by the convention body itself.

Rep. Justin Amash (LMich.), the newly minted Libertarian congressman who is certainly a frontrunner, if not now the frontrunner, for the party's presidential nomination said in an interview with The Fifth Column podcast this week (starring Reason's Matt Welch) that "For my partI want every candidate to feel that they got a fair shot, including our campaign. We all want to be treated fairly under this process and that's what's important, that nobody feels like this was some kind of a setup one way or the other either for my candidacy, or against my candidacy, and every other candidate feels the same way about their own campaign." Amash added, "I think it's important that we not postpone it too late because if you postpone it too long, it makes the calendar more challenging and we want to make sure we get on the ballot in all these states too.A campaign has to get up and running and it would be better if it doesn't go all the way to July or something like that."

The matter is important because some state ballot petitioning rules require the actual named candidate, so the later the candidate is named, the harder it will be to meet those requirements. Candidate Jim Gray, former California Superior Court judge and former Libertarian vice presidential candidate in 2012, said in a phone interview this week that while it "would be much more preferable to have an in-person convention, for our campaign, for the party, for the country, since there will be less excitement and less give and take [likely online]having said that, it's a tradeoff." If waiting for a reasonably safe and doable face-to-face meeting "would likely result in us losing ballot access in too many states," then he understands.

Joe Bishop-Henchman, a candidate for LNC chair this year and a leader in the "online presidential vote" faction said in a phone interview before the convention that he worried if the party didn't settle its presidential candidate question sooner rather than later that some state party affiliates might see it necessary to "defy [the national party] and go it alone." In that case, he would not "hold it against them," but he thinks the compromise reached today will "prevent that from happening, the danger of different presidential tickets in different states."

While this question was not settled, many on the LNC seemed to think that if certain state delegations were prohibited by their own state's travel restrictions from making it to Orlando, some allowance would likely be made by the delegates at that convention to allow them to participate in votes and debates virtually.

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Johnson address shows he has been swayed by hawks in his cabinet – The Guardian

Posted: at 11:37 am

Boris Johnson famously dislikes disappointing the people around him.

The result is this weekends barrage of confused messaging over whether the lockdown is ending, as he tries to please both sides in the battle raging within the Tory party about how to respond to the coronavirus crisis.

On the one hand, the rightwing hawks in his cabinet have been pushing him towards a swift return to business as usual to save the economy, setting out a roadmap to lifting the lockdown sooner rather than later. On the other, the more centrist doves, including the health secretary, Matt Hancock, have been pulling him in another direction, urging caution for fear of a second peak and more lost lives.

The received wisdom is that Johnson is now on the side of the doves following his brush with death during a four-day spell in intensive care suffering from Covid-19.

The start of his address on Sunday was cautious: he insisted that there was no immediate end to the lockdown and would allow only a gradual shift to unlimited exercise within household groups from Wednesday.

However, his overall shift in tone, ditching the stay at home message in favour of a stay alert slogan, told a different story. That new message appears designed to appease some of his critics within the Conservatives mostly on the Brexit-backing libertarian right of the party, who want to see more emphasis on people being trusted to take their own decisions about risk.

The decision to set out an ambition to reopen schools and some shops in June and some hospitality venues in July without the epidemic in care homes and hospitals yet under control also shows he has also been swayed by the hawks in his cabinet.

And a renewed emphasis on asking people to get back to work, even if they cannot observe social distancing, is another move that will please Tory MPs worried about the furlough scheme while alarming trade unions concerned about the safety of their workforces.

It is clear from the scathing reaction of Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, that there are serious worries in the devolved administrations about the risk of lifting the lockdown too soon and the chaotic messaging that is accompanying it.

Supporters of Johnson argue that he is trying to strike a careful balance between setting out a roadmap for reopening the economy and making no promises about exactly when schools, shops, cafes and restaurants would reopen.

He insisted that the government would ultimately be driven not by mere hope or economic necessity, [but] [by] the science, the data and public health.

However, sooner or later Johnson is going to have to pick a side in the argument over whether the threat of a crashing economy requires taking some risks with public health unless the epidemic starts to clear more quickly than scientists anticipate.

And in the meantime, the public has been left with some of the biggest questions unanswered especially about when they will be able to freely see their family and friends again.

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Dershowitz Defends and Criticizes Flynn by Railing Against Entrapment and Fair-Weather Civil Libertarians – Law & Crime

Posted: at 11:37 am

Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz came out fighting for Michael Flynn in a column published early Friday morning by the conservative think tank the Gatestone Institute.

Titled: Flynn Was Innocent All Along: He Was Pressured to Plead Guilty, Dershowitz reiterates his longstanding belief that the former lieutenant general and national security advisor should never have pleaded guilty because he did not commit a crime.

Per the largely pro-Flynn piece (emphasis in original):

For a lie to be a crime under federal law, it must be material to the investigation meaning that the lies pertain to the issues being legitimately investigated. The role of the FBI is to investigate past crimes, not to create new ones. Because the FBI investigators already knew the answer to the question they asked himwhether he had spoken to the Russian Ambassadortheir purpose was not to elicit new information relevant to their investigation, but rather to spring a perjury trap on him. When they asked Flynn the question, they had a recording of his conversation with the Russian, of which he was presumably unaware. So his answer was not material to the investigation because they already had the information about which they were inquiring.

This territory is well-trod for the famous legal analyst.

Dershowitz was roundly criticized on Twitter in late 2018 after telling Fox News that lying to the FBI is not a crime.

I hope the judge understands when he has the case tomorrow that Flynn did not commit a crime by lying, Dershowitz told Bill Hemmer at the time. Because the lie has to be material to the investigation. And if the FBI already knew the answer to the question and only asked him the question in order to give him an opportunity to lie, his answereven if falsewas not material to the investigation.

Earlier this year, and well after a high-profile defense team shakeup, Flynns attorney Sidney Powell appeared to repay the public attention paid to her client by approvingly paraphrasing Dershowitz in a bid for probation.

Still, Dershowitzs column also calls Flynn out for hypocrisy:

There must be a single standard of justice and civil liberties including the presumption of innocence that transcends partisan politics. This message has been forgotten by both parties. Flynn himself was among those who shouted, Lock her up, regarding Hillary Clinton. Then when the Justice Department tried to lock him up, he got religion.

But Mondays column doesnt hone in too deeply on the details of Flynns case. Rather, Dershowitz appears to mainly be using Flynn as a cautionary tale to explain his perspective on law enforcement excess and the value of consistently prizing civil liberties.

Some may wonder why an innocent man would ever plead guilty, Dershowitz tees. Anyone who knows how the system works in practice would understand why an innocent manor a defendant in a close casemight be coerced into pleading guilty. The cruel reality is that if a defendant pleads not guilty and is found guilty, the sentence will be far greater than if he had pled guiltyperhaps even 10 times greater.

These are the kinds of pressures routinely used by prosecutors, the column continues. Civil libertarians have long been critical of these pressures, but fair-weather civil libertarians refuse to object when these improper tactics are used against Trumps associates. Partisan hypocrisy reigns.

The points raised in the column are particularly salient for criminal defendants in the country that locks more people up per capita than any other country. Over all, there are now more people under correctional supervision in Americamore than six millionthan were in the Gulag under Stalin at its height, The New Yorkers Adam Gopnik noted in 2012.

Law&Crime asked Dershowitz if he thought police routinely over-charge and if his admonishment for federal law enforcement to stop creating crimes bears any applicability to the overall criminal justice system.

To which he replied: Yes and yes.

[image via screengrab/ The View]

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