Jonah Goldberg: Republicans Want to Leave Healthcare Choices Up to Women

Jonah Goldberg: Republicans Want to Leave Healthcare Choices Up to Women




How is it possible to get so much wrong about the right? Writing for National Review, old white man Jonah Goldberg delves into What ‘Women’s Health’ Really Means.

He’s perplexed that “women’s health” is often code for “abortion” when:

The biggest killer of women is heart disease, followed by cancer, then stroke. I couldn’t find “lack of a timely abortion” on the CDC list.

That could be because Republicans’ repeated attempts to restrict abortion have been mostly unsuccessful. According to the Guttmacher Institute, unsafe abortion is a significant cause of ill-health among women in developing countries, where highly restrictive abortion laws are positively associated with negative health consequences from unsafe abortion.

Goldberg is upset because President Obama is smearing Republicans. “President Obama — and nearly every other abortion-rights supporter — blithely accuses Republicans of wanting to make women’s ‘health-care choices’ for them.”

Conservatives want to leave it to women to make their own choices.

Once you get beyond abortion, conservative public policies treat women like autonomous human beings capable of making their own choices — about health care or anything else.

I’m not sure how to describe forcing women who have miscarriages to report them to the state, forcing women to get a transvaginal ultrasound before abortion, or forcing women to get an ultrasound before they can get birth control as anything other than “wanting to make women’s ‘health-care choices’ for them.”

I don’t know, maybe these particular Republican lawmakers don’t represent Republicans as a whole. But if they don’t, isn’t it then up to Republicans to actually cry foul and actively distance themselves from these terrible laws? I haven’t seen Jonah Goldberg repudiate these infringements on women’s liberty. Pretending your party is down with women’s healthcare choices and then claiming it is doesn’t come anywhere close to making that true.

California’s Targeting Bitcoin Foundation Reveals An Alarming Pattern

California’s Targeting Bitcoin Foundation Reveals An Alarming Pattern




PC World reports that California regulators are targeting the Bitcoin Foundation.

As crypto-currencies have begun making inroads as real competitors to government-backed currencies, California’s efforts represent one more example in a string of governments harassing companies that operate within the Bitcoin universe.

Governments are demonstrating they are increasingly threatened by developments in this space–particularly in light of new efforts to tax internet transactions. The immune response is getting stronger and regulators are waging a battle against crypto currencies in an effort to complicate real alternatives to fiat money propped up by the regulatory state.

California’s regulations regarding money transmission has already come under fire recently for not working as intended and placing undue burden on the state’s sizable tech community.

Now, according to PC World:

The state’s Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) warned the Bitcoin Foundation in a May 30 letter that it is a violation of state and federal law to be involved in money transmission without registering with the U.S. Treasury or California’s Commissioner of Financial Institutions… even though the nonprofit Bitcoin Foundation isn’t a Bitcoin exchange.

The warning came in the form of a cease-and-desist letter, to which Bitcoin Foundation board member Jon Matonis has already responded. As Reason’s Mike Bruschini pointed out, “The DFI’s allegations that the Bitcoin Foundation “may be” engaging in money transmission has supporters of the stateless currency skeptical about the ability for businesses’ ability to comply with state and federal regulations.”

The foundation could face up to $2,500 per violation, per day in fines, and face criminal prosecution and up to five years in prison. But no one at Bitcoin Foundation has broken any laws. The foundation does not buy or sell Bitcoins.

“One activity that the foundation does not engage in is the owning, controlling, or conducting of money transmission business,” Matonis said in Forbes. “Furthermore, that activity would also be against the original charter of the foundation.” Its mission is to promote the currency and help developers create and implement complementary software programs.

This letter comes on the heels of the government seizure and shutdown of crypto-currency exchange company Dwolla and digital currency exchange company Liberty Reserve. The federal government indicted the founder of Liberty Reserve on $6 Billion money-laundering charges. It was the first time the US government used the Patriot Act to target companies dealing in virtual currencies.

Tech blogger and former Washington Post reporter Brian Krebs wondered at the time whether “the action against Liberty Reserve is part of a larger effort by the U.S. government to put pressure on virtual currencies.” The letter to Bitcoin Foundation may suggest that states are getting in on the action.

In fact, as Matonis detailed for Forbes:

Recently, the State of Illinois also issued a cease and desist letter to mobile payments processor Square for failing to have the proper licensing in accordance with the state’s Transmitters of Money Act. Prepaid card provider NetSpend and six other payments companies also received Illinois cease and desist orders. If this practice grows among states, it could have a potentially significant “chilling effect” on financial services innovation, especially upon lawful businesses that are designing infrastructure to support and grow the Bitcoin technology. Freedom of choice in currencies is probably the most important free speech issue of our time.

Despite constitutionally dubious attacks on companies dealing with crypto-currencies and digital currencies, they’re clearly making an impact.

Liberty Reserve had more than 1 million users worldwide and processed more than 12 million transactions annually when it was seized. Bitcoin was the alternative currency of choice when Cyprus announced that they’d seize a portion of all deposits in the country to prop up their failing banks.

It appears popular digital currencies and exchanges are the same ones governments want to shut down. The benefits of these currencies are precisely what the state doesn’t like:

  • They offer anonymous online transactions

  • They cannot be devalued, so offer advantages over fiat currencies, and

  • They offer an unparalleled ability for holders to evade taxes and regulations.

But are these good enough reasons to shut them down?

The market — the superior form of voting — has spoken. We should resist lawmakers efforts to protect entrenched banking interests and punish entrepreneurs who dare to compete in the currency space.

Yes, Ken Cuccinelli, Let’s Ban Oral and Anal Sex

Yes, Ken Cuccinelli, Let’s Ban Oral and Anal Sex




Mother Jones is reporting, “Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the GOP’s nominee for governor, filed an appeal on Tuesday asking the Supreme Court to revive the state’s law banning oral and anal sex.”

I just… Could he… What is…

In a statement, Cuccinelli claimed that the law, which the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled unconstitutional earlier this year, is “an important tool that prosecutors use to put child molesters in jail.”

Is molesting a child not illegal in Virginia? If not, maybe it should be. Maybe it does not require making sex consensual acts between adults a crime. I am not a lawmaker, so I don’t know.

I do know that sodomy laws have traditionally been used to persecute gays.

And I do know that it’s going to be IMPOSSIBLE to sell economic freedom to anyone with a functioning brain cell as long as it continues to be sold by cretins like Cuccinelli and Mr. You Must Report Your Miscarriage to the State. Yay fusionism!

Why This Libertarian Is Celebrating DOMA’s Defeat

Why This Libertarian Is Celebrating DOMA’s Defeat




Not everyone is happy about yesterday’s SCOTUS decision on DOMA, and I get it. More recently than I’d like to admit, that was me. I believed that gay sex was a sin. I also thought that government should promote God’s plan for us by not legitimizing “marriages” between anyone other than one man and one woman. Because “marriage” was between a man and a woman. One man, one woman, one lifetime.

Well one sister out of the closet, a divorce, etc., etc. later, my position on gay marriage has evolved. But it didn’t happen though persuasive argumentation. You know what I mean, the sort of fact-based argumentation I’ve written in the past.

It’s not like I reject reason (the magazine or the method of inquiry). Obviously, I think they’re both solid. You can logic your way toward the conclusion that discriminating against gay couples at the federal level is pretty inconsistent with liberty. And the slim likelihood of privatizing marriage makes allowing this discrimination to continue indefinitely, pretty inexcusable.

But my views didn’t change because I heard good arguments. I think that when it comes to gay marriage, libertarians on both sides are largely talking past each other. My views changed because I watched my sister wrestle with her same-sex attraction. She grew up in an environment where she was taught, we were both taught, that gay sex separated you from God. Gay sex, even thinking about gay sex, made Him unable to even look at you in your sin. Repentance, and a complete rejection of that lifestyle, was the only way to be in relationship with your Creator.

That's her with the backwards baseball cap. And the gun.

That’s her with the backwards baseball cap. And the gun.

I watched as we heard at home and from the pulpit that being gay was a choice. But my sister got in trouble at like 8 years old for slicking her hair back like a 50s greaser with Vaseline because we didn’t have any pomade. And every time we played Barbies, she was the Ken doll. And every time we went into the toy store, I went straight for the dolls and she went straight for the action figures. And it just didn’t make sense.

Does anyone else remember ball chain necklaces?

Does anyone else remember ball chain necklaces?

Then she’s in high school, deciding how and whether to date. I knew it was wrong for her to date other girls. But I didn’t know why. I could figure out the protective reasoning behind most Christian prohibitions. More than one sex partner? Of course, to prevent unwanted pregnancy and disease and to preserve your heart for marriage. No drugs and don’t get drunk? Protect your body and prevent poor life choices. But who in the heck was Evelyn hurting by falling in love with and marrying a woman? I’d forego casual sex and intoxication for eternal life spent in ecstasy with my personal Creator. But should Evelyn have to miss out on a lifelong, whole, sexual, emotional bond with another human being, for no apparent purpose? Who would it hurt for Evelyn to get married? Who does it help for her to stay chaste? These are questions I thought absolutely needed answering before I could continue to support an ideology opposed to her orientation. And so I had to let that prohibition fall out of my heart.

But I wasn’t quite there yet. Even though I thought Evelyn should have the freedom to love and be loved, I wasn’t really digging getting the state involved, which is what I saw gay marriage as. That’s where empathy came in again. I slowly began to believe that whatever it would cost me, in terms of tax dollars or a very slightly larger state, it would be worth it to not have my government actively denying her the sorts of opportunities it (stole and then) gave (back) to me.

Because really, marriage abolition is a long way off, and men and women like Evelyn are hurting right now.

Just listen to the story of the face of the DOMA case, Edith Windsor. She had to pay $363,053 in estate taxes because the state would not recognize her marriage to her partner of more than 40 years. In marriages recognized by federal law, surviving spouses are exempt from estate taxes on property. Helen Dale told their story in a Reason paper, “An Argument for Equal Marriage”:

[Windsor and her partner] had enjoyed successful careers, one as a computer programmer for IBM, one as a consultant psychologist. Both had paid their taxes, obeyed the law, been model citizens. And yet, when one died, the federal government refused to recognize the marriage that was good enough for Canada and New York, levying tax on the estate of $363,053.

Once I could empathize with Evelyn, and Edith, I became their advocates. No one had a good enough reason to deprive Evelyn of everything she is entitled to seek as an autonomous individual! The DOMA decision grants gays equal protection under the more than 1,000 federal marriage benefits currently denied to anyone other than hetersexual couples.

As Ilya Shapiro wrote for CATO:

It should be axiomatic that the federal government has to treat all people equally, that it has to accept the several states’ sovereign laws on marriage (and many other subjects), and today there were five votes at the Supreme Court for that proposition.

I was happy that SCOTUS declared DOMA unconstitutional. But it wasn’t because supporting freedom by supporting continued institutional bigotry is wildly intellectually inconsistent. It’s because Evelyn made me care about how the government is screwing her. If we libertarians want to change the way people view markets, we’ve got to show that we’re advocating for people. No one is won over by your fidelity to abstract arguments, nor by your flawless intellectual debates. People are won over when you advocate for freedom by championing the victims of the state. We had a chance to do this with DOMA, and some of us took the opportunity. Let’s get on the same page with every battle like this. Every time the state victimizes people, especially already oppressed minorities, let’s come together to fight on their behalf.

To Catch a Whistle-Blower

To Catch a Whistle-Blower




Should the United States Prosecute Edward Snowden?

Last week, U.S. officials asked the Hong Kong government to arrest Edward Snowden, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, though he was last reported to have arrived in Moscow en route to Cuba and Venezuela. The Obama administration also charged him with “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person” under the infamous Espionage Act. The charges were filed June 14 and unsealed last Friday.

Of the nine people who have ever been charged under the World War I-era Espionage Act, The Obama administration has prosecuted seven of them.

The call for arrest comes two weeks after Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian revealed details about Prism, a National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program that collects private data. NSA contract employee Edward Snowden admitted to being the source. Snowden fled to Hong Kong after blowing the whistle on the NSA, and in the interim, lawmakers have been calling for his head. But is prosecuting Snowden a good idea?

The top republican on the Senate’s intelligence committee wants Snowden to “look an American jury in the eye” and explain why he disclosed details of secret programs.” Senator Lindsey Graham wants to see Snowden prosecuted. “Bring him to justice, and let a prosecutor make that decision, not a politician,” he said.

But prosecuting Edward Snowden will have consequences. First, the administration should be wary that he could end up a martyr. However, if Bradley Manning’s martyrdom is any indication, even widespread public support for the victim and disgust at the government have very few actual effects on policy or policymakers.

The congressmen and women who want to prosecute Snowden justify it on the grounds that his revelations jeopardize national security.

But FEE distinguished fellow Jeffrey Tucker challenges that argument:

By the way, here is an obvious and quick answer to the NSA’s claim that it must harvest as much data as possible as a way to stop terrorism and protect the American way of life from dangerous criminals. If you are a dangerous criminal or terrorist plotting an attack and you are not entirely stupid, it is very likely that you would choose cryptographic communications over commercial services.

Hence, the very communications that the NSA supposedly seeks are the ones that it cannot get. What, then, is the point behind the huge data centers and the invasions on everyone else’s liberty? The purpose is to control the rest of us and shore up its power. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to accept that truth. You need only have your eyes open.

In other words, terrorists sophisticated enough to cause damage use encryption. Citizens use Yahoo.

Officials routinely abuse top-secret classification. When everything they do, good or bad, can be covered up with a top-secret label, accountability is hard to come by. In this environment, the oversight problem can really only be solved by protecting whistle-blowers. Edward Snowden might have broken the law when he blew the whistle, but his revelation of things that never should have been secret calls to mind other famous acts of civil disobedience, never mind the justice of clandestine violations of civil rights.

If Snowden is prosecuted, it would have a chilling effect on other whistle-blowers. Fewer whistle-blowers means more scope for the state to operate with impunity.

The question of whether to prosecute cannot be answered without a full look at the situation in which we’re all operating when it comes to surveillance. Government spying is happening right now with precious little accountability. Even Congress is routinely denied information or lied to about who is getting spied on and why. For instance,the ACLU and Amnesty International sued the government because they suspected they were being wiretapped without a warrant. The suit was unsuccessful: Since they could not find out whether they were being wiretapped, they could not prove harm.

So not only can the government wiretap Americans conversing with people overseas, it doesn’t even have to reveal whether you’re a target. This state of affairs makes it impossible for targets of likely unconstitutional surveillance to prove harm. How in the world can lawyers and citizens ensure our Fourth Amendment rights aren’t being violated when we aren’t allowed to know who’s being spied on and how?

No one has any idea whether various NSA programs are legal because the Obama administration, citing national security concerns, has successfully kept the applicable laws from challenge in court, despite a number of attempts. It does appear the NSA has lied to Congress about how the programs operate.

When government agencies can cover what they’re doing with the guise of national security, they end up using that power for the purpose of job security and, of course, for growing their power. For instance, video of American soldiers shooting and killing Reuters journalists was kept classified despite multiple Freedom of Information Act requests—until Wikileaks released it. Without Wikileaks, the American people might never have known that the United States was secretly bombing Yemen. As The New York Times reports, “In the past decade, whistle-blowers have exposed everything from the Bush administration’s efforts to censor reports on climate change to the Food and Drug Administration’s failure to stop the sale of unsafe drugs like Vioxx.”

So far, the Obama administration has prosecuted more whistle-blowers under the Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined. And now President Obama is actively trying to make it easier for government agencies to fire employees for whistle-blowing. When you have an administration that is allowing agencies to operate without congressional oversight, with no transparency and no accountability, whistle-blowers are your last hope for revealing abuse.

Prosecuting Edward Snowden would absolutely prove that this administration values protecting agencies’ power to operate in secrecy over the right of Congress and the American people to ensure our constitutional rights are being protected.

This post originally appeared at The Freeman.