8: Chloe’s Story – Big Government Impedes Self-Improvement

Chris Spangle and Chloe Anagnos explain how government interferes with a person’s ability to improve their lives in a new installment of The Cost: The Human Toll of Government Policy.

Show Notes:

How Big Government Hurts Those with Chronic Conditions

According to the CDC, chronic conditions are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States.

Chronic diseases and conditions—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis—are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.

  • As of 2012, about half of all adults—117 million people—had one or more chronic health conditions.
  • One in four adults had two or more chronic health conditions.
  • Seven of the top 10 causes of death in 2014 were chronic diseases. Two of these chronic diseases—heart disease and cancer—together accounted for nearly 46% of all deaths.
  • Obesity is a serious health concern. During 2011–2014, more than one-third of adults (36%), or about 84 million people, were obese (defined as body mass index [BMI] ≥30 kg/m2). About one in six youths (17%) aged 2 to 19 years was obese (BMI ≥95th percentile).
  • Arthritis is the most common cause of disability. Of the 54 million adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis, more than 23 million say they have trouble with their usual activities because of arthritis.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations other than those caused by injury, and new cases of blindness among adults.

For those with chronic conditions, it’s difficult to get the medicine they need because:

Starting this year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will be enforcing new rules that limit the accessibility of almost every Schedule II opioid pain medication manufactured in the U.S. by 25 percent or more. This eliminates phone-in refills and mandates a check-in with a doctor every 90 days for a refill in an effort to curb opioid drug abuse and addiction.

In the United States, Schedule III and IV drugs, (like Xanax, Suboxone, etc.) are treated similarly. Moreover, a government ID must be presented in order to obtain things like cold medicine which could potentially be used to make Schedule I drugs like methamphetamine.

If I were to buy nasal decongestant in my home state of Indiana, not only would I need to present my driver license to the pharmacist, but my name, address, license number, and other personal information must be reported to the Indiana State Police and the Indiana Meth Investigation System.

Chronic Conditions and Big Government’s Unintended Consequences

Many know of the benefits of medical marijuana, but the federal government limits the amount of research that can be done:

“Research on marijuana’s potential for medicinal use has been hampered for years by federal restrictions, even though nearly half of the states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana in some form.”


221: Kim Jong Un’s Nuclear Threats

Chris Spangle, Greg Lenz, Jeremiah Morrel, Dakota Davis, and Tanner Perdue discuss the threats of nuclear war by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Show Notes

Why Does The Risk Of War With North Korea Seem To Be Increasing?

The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to impose new sanctions on North Korea including banning $1 billion in exports. The new sanctions are aimed at countering the threat posed by Pyongyang’s nuclear programme following two intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests in July.

  • The UN Security Council Vote: The Security Council’s action has thrown the dictators of Pyongyang off their stride because it hits them where it hurts most:
  1. The hard currency the regime gets from its exports and the slave labor of the North Korean people. The resolution is the single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled on North Korea.
  2. It targets the regime’s exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood – the mainstays of its economy – and reduces them by about one-third.  It is the most stringent set of sanctions the United Nations has leveled on any country in a generation.
  3. Almost as important as the content of the sanctions is the fact that the Security Council spoke with one voice in imposing them.  North Korea’s neighbor, China, has a critical role to play when it comes to Pyongyang.
  4. Not only did the Chinese vote for the resolution, they worked cooperatively with the United States and other countries to bring the resolution to a vote.  Russia – another country that has favored North Korea at times – voted for the resolution as well. The UN’s action also puts a long overdue spotlight on the plight of the North Korean people.
  5. North Korea is facing its worst drought in sixteen years.  The regime has shamelessly begun to ask for international assistance, even as it plows its hard currency into nuclear development.


  • North Korea responded by threatening to take “physical action” — in the past 24 hours state-run news agency KCNA said its military was “examining the operational plan” to strike the U.S. island of Guam in the Pacific.


  • President Donald Trump had warned that if North Korea makes further threats against the United States, “they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” It seems like a good time to take a deep breath and review the stakes, interests and strategies of both sides.
  • Much of the overheated rhetoric coming from the Trump administration about North Korea is intended to pressure China to finally do something on the issue, rather than accurately portray the threat from Pyongyang.
  • But this is risky threat-inflation. Scare-mongering contributes to the growing drumbeat for airstrikes against North Korea which could ignite a disastrous regional conflict, even though North Korea almost certainly does not intend to offensively strike the United States with its nuclear weapons.

What Would A North Korean War Look Like?

  • The clearest path to North Korean victory in war depends on a quick defeat of South Korean forces, providing the United States and Japan with a fait accompli that Pyongyang will expect Beijing to back.
  • The North Korean attack would likely involve a classic 20th century combined arms assault, using artillery to disrupt RoK defenses and soften up positions (as well as create civilian panic), infantry to break holes in the South Korean lines, and mechanized forces to exploit those gaps.  The North Koreans could well add special forces (potentially deployed to South Korea before the initiation of hostilities) and regular forces deployed by tunnel to South Korean rear areas.
  • The Korean People’s Air Force is ancient, and has received no significant infusion of Russian or Chinese technology in years.  The force has very little counter-air capability relative to the Republic of Korea Air Force, and its fighters would find themselves easy prey for well-trained South Korean pilots flying sophisticated aircraft.  The KPA can expect very little ground support, either on the tactical or operational scales, and would likely struggle under South Korean air attacks.
  • To remedy these problems, North Korea would likely reserve a large proportion of its land-attack cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles for attacks on South Korean air bases, in the hopes of destroying fighters on the ground and rendering facilities useless.
  • North Korean prospects in the war depend utterly on sidelining the United States in some fashion, either through the presentation of a fait accompli, or through high stakes deterrence.
  • The situation with Japan is more complex, but Tokyo views North Korea as sufficiently threatening that a war would almost certainly incur some kind of intervention, if not necessarily in direct support of RoK forces
  • The other scenario under which DPRK might decide to attack would come in anticipation of a major U.S.-ROK attack against the North.  In such a situation, the North Korean leadership might decide that it has little to lose. The military balance would, in such a context, strongly favor pre-emptive action on North Korea’s part.


Why is Kim Jong-Un Becoming Increasingly Aggressive?

  • Keenly aware of both internal and external vulnerabilities and North Korea’s relative weakness, Kim has grasped that nothing short of a nuclear capability will be sufficient to ensure his survival, and he has embedded himself in the global supply chain while increasing his political isolation. Having learned the lessons of Iran, Iraq and Libya, the young leader wants North Korea to be too nuclear to fail.
  • For Kim, nuclear weapons are a “treasured sword” and a silver bullet capable of keeping domestic and international enemies at bay. Kim cannot give up nuclear weapons without attaining equivalent and ironclad assurances of regime survival. Without such an arsenal, Kim has no means of drawing in the U.S.


What has been the US State and Defense Department Response to Kim’s Aggressive Rhetoric?

  • Secretary Tillerson: Washington wants to use pressure through international economic sanctions to drive Kim back to the negotiating table and to denuclearization. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has issued assurances that the United States does not seek regime change, collapse of North Korea, rapid Korean reunification, or to move U.S. troops into North Korea while trying to crank up the pressure dial to force Kim back to talks.


  • Late last month, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats called North Korea’s nuclear weapons program a “potential existential threat to the United States.” Coats hedges a bit by throwing in the modifier “potentially,” but he has spoken this way before. Unless he has spectacular secret information, this is woefully inaccurate.


How Big Of A Threat Does North Korea Pose?

  • North Korea is a growing threat to the United States with its nuclear missile program, and it is indeed an existential threat to South Korea and Japan. But the threat Pyongyang poses to the United States is not actually existential as, for example, Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals are. And is unlikely to become so.
  • Language is important here. North Korea is a indeed a threat to the United States, but it is a greater threat to America’s regional allies. Pyongyang’s ability to strike the United States with a nuclear warhead is, after all, still hotly disputed.
  • Hitting the United States with a missile is not the same as hitting the it with a reentry-survivable nuclear warhead that could evade U.S. missile defense. Nor, even, does one or two or a dozen North Korean nuclear strikes on the American mainland constitute an “existential” threat.
  • Large numbers of civilian casualties, even in the millions, and the loss of several American cities is not existential. Horrible, yes. A dramatic reorientation of American life, absolutely. But not the end of America.
  • In fact, the United States is actually well postured to survive, or ‘ride out,’ in nuclear war parlance, a nuclear strike. The United States is a large country, with a widely dispersed population. According to the Census Bureau in 2015, it has only ten cities whose populations exceed one million people. And 20 percent of its population lives in rural areas.
  • Finally, long-term U.S. political stability suggests socio-political resilience. Assuming again that North Korea strikes Washington and America’s other large cities, it is not obvious that the United States would then fall into some manner of political anarchy or revolution. America is a wealthy, stable state with the world’s longest running constitution (230 years). It’s population has never had any meaningful political traditions besides liberal democracy. There are no serious revolutionaries waiting for social chaos to strike, like in Tsarist Russia or Weimar Germany.


What Good Would A Nuclear Strike Do North Korea?

  • In the most extreme possible scenario, where Pyongyang used nuclear weapons against Seoul to facilitate a successful invasion, the devastation in the South would be so awful, that one wonders why North Korea would want to invade at all. Due to the peninsula’s mountainous terrain, only a few areas of South Korea are easily habitable for large numbers of people.
  • Nearly 75 percent of the population lives on 30 percent of the landmass. Those small areas—basically the South biggest cities—would be targets of Northern nuclear weapons in any such war. If North Korea were to win that conflict, it would then inherit those irradiated, blasted population zones, in addition to scarcely usable mountains. What would be the point of winning then? Of fighting at all?


  • Similarly, North Korean nuclear use against the South—or Japan or the United States—would lead to devastating American nuclear retaliation. South Korea and Japan have been treaty allies of the United States for decades. These relationships are about as robust as any in the U.S. alliance network. Countless secretaries of state and defense have pledged to protect Seoul and Tokyo.
  • American nuclear retaliation would almost certainly follow any Northern offensive nuclear strike. North Korea would inherit an apocalyptic wasteland in the South, while absorbing punishing nuclear retaliation at home—so punishing in fact, that the regime itself might collapse under the weight of the social chaos unleashed by American nuclear strikes

If North Korea Launched A Strike or Invaded South Korea, What Would Happen?

  • One could easily imagine China attacking North Korea if Pyongyang offensively used nuclear weapons. China may tolerate North Korea’s nuclearization, but it is hard to imagine Beijing tolerating North Korea using such weapons to start a war.
  • Some fear North Korea might ‘hand off’ a weapon to rogue groups, but no states have done this yet. Others suggest nuclear weapons might be a method to bully South Korea into subservience or permanent subsidization. But so long as South Korea remains allied to the United States, it is not clear why North Korean nuclear blackmail would succeed. Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons level the playing field in the peninsula rather than shift it against South Korea.
  • In short, North Korea’s possible use of its nuclear arsenal is highly constrained. It fits the profile of other state’s nuclear weapons—great as an ultimate guarantee of national defense and sovereignty, great for national prestige, but hugely risky for the offense.


Lessons From History: What Is The Appropriate Response To North Korean Provocation?


  • As U.S. policymakers ponder how to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, it is important to remember that we are not in uncharted territory. The United States found itself in a similar situation more than 50 years ago, when faced with the prospect of Maoist China going nuclear. Then as now, experts questioned if rational decision makers were behind the nuclear controls of a reclusive communist state and military options — no matter how risky — were seriously considered.
  • Despite initially having great fears about the prospect of a nuclear China, both the Kennedy and the Johnson administrations came to realize that China’s modest nuclear arsenal failed to alter the underlying balance of power in East Asia or undermine the confidence of U.S. allies in the credibility of Washington’s security guarantees.
  • In December of 1960, the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) warned that, “[China’s] arrogant self-confidence, revolutionary fervor, and distorted view of the world may lead [Beijing] to miscalculate risks. This danger would be heightened if Communist China achieved a nuclear weapons capability.” Revolutionary fervor aside, the same assessment could be written about North Korea today.
  • The same rogue state description fit the profile of China in the 1960s. Throughout the decade, Chinese leaders routinely dismissed the dangers of nuclear war and would stress the inevitable victory of the “people’s war” against U.S. imperialism and Soviet revisionism. At the same time, Chinese leaders greatly exaggerated the capabilities of their own nuclear program and downplayed the risks posed by potential counter force strikes against the Chinese mainland.


  • Following China’s first nuclear test in 1964, Beijing also stressed three points:



    • China’s goal for developing nuclear weapons was “to break the superpower monopoly”
    • China holds a “no first use” policy
    • China supports the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.


  • Despite the cautious public stance, China was vehemently opposed to the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) and did not moderate its hostile position toward nonproliferation until its nuclear program reached a more mature stage in the 1970s. China’s record suggests that North Korea is purposely adopting a hostile stance to compensate for the overall weakness of the North Korean arsenal.
  • John F. Kennedy viewed a potential Chinese nuclear test as “likely to be historically the most significant and worst event of the 1960s.” The Kennedy Administration was so concerned about the specter of a nuclear China that every measure from direct U.S. strikes to parachuting Chinese Nationalist commandos from Taiwan was considered. Kennedy even authorized officials to approach America’s archrival, the Soviet Union, regarding joint preventive action against China.
  • Kennedy was hardly alone in his fears that a nuclear China was the greatest threat to world peace. As the Cultural Revolution unfolded, the U.S. Navy was concerned that China would quickly gain submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) technology and would launch them in a way to fake a Soviet strike, triggering a global nuclear war.
  • To counter this putative threat, the Navy recommended the sinking of China’s first missile-armed submarine on its maiden voyage. Not only did these fears border on paranoia, they greatly exaggerated China’s technological capabilities. In the case of SLBMs, China would not test its first submarine-launched missile until 1982. The press was also highly critical of Mao possessing nuclear weapons and called for military action to curtail Beijing’s nuclear ambitions.
  • In reality, China’s belligerent rhetoric was a strategic bluff to compensate for the great disparity between China and the two superpowers in nuclear capabilities. When looking today at uncannily similar boasts by North Korean state press that their country is now “a strong nuclear power state” and has “a very powerful ICBM that can strike any place in the world” it is important to remember that North Korea continues to have a small nuclear arsenal, has no second strike capability, and will never be able to shift the military power balance in the region on its own.



  • North Korean saber rattling is a screen to deflect from the regime’s weakness and fear of the future.



  • Kim Jong-un has spoken about the importance of breaking the “nuclear monopoly” held by the United States. Pyongyang has stated that it has a “no first use” policy and that it is in favor of complete global disarmament. Despite the “no first use” language, North Korea has repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons in preventive strikes against either the United States or South Korea.
  • Americans are deeply worried about war with North Korea, and our pop culture routinely portrays Pyongyang as aggressive toward the United States. Even if it could win a war, North Korea’s decrepit, neofeudal, gangster state probably could not absorb the South Korean population—which is twice the size of the North and long accustomed to democracy and freedom.
  • North Korea’s nuclear weapons are unsettling, even frightening. But nuclear weapons have not been used for offense to date (barring WWII), and there is little to suggest that North Korea can escape the same ‘unusability’ trap other nuclear powers find themselves in. These weapons are almost certainly for defense and deterrence, so we should respond in kind with missile defense. That, not airstrikes and a consequent huge risk of Asian regional war, is the way forward.
  • Kennedy’s fears over the prospect of China going nuclear were not shared by everyone in government. The State Department’s Policy Planning Council produced an influential study that questioned the consequence of China’s nuclear test.
  • The study argued that the Chinese nuclear arsenal could not pose a major threat to the United States and would hardly alter the balance of power in the region. Moreover, China’s nuclear arsenal was vulnerable to a U.S. counter force strike. Hence, a nuclear China would not feel emboldened to further challenge the United States. Although initially controversial, proponents of this view eventually won out in the Johnson administration.
  • The report acknowledged that there could be some adverse political ramifications of a Chinese nuclear test (i.e., proliferation), but they could be addressed by U.S. reassurances to its allies. Indeed, even though in the wake of China’s first nuclear test Japan expressed a strong desire to develop its own bomb, the Johnson administration was able to provide security reassurances combined with diplomatic pressure to dissuade Tokyo from going down the nuclear path. In the subsequent years, the United States applied similar pressure to block Taiwan and South Korea from going forward with their own nuclear weapons programs.
  • If China’s nuclear program did not pose a serious threat to the United States in the 1960s, then there is even less reason to fear North Korea’s today. Even with improvements in North Korean missile capabilities, the United States and its allies still enjoy an overwhelming military and economic advantage over the North.
  • Just as during the 1960s, the United States simply needs to be public and credible in its reassurances to its regional allies and partners. Any North Korean effort to split the U.S.-ROK alliance will fail if the United States continues to provide a broad security guarantee to South Korea. As long as the Trump administration continues to offer its public support to Japan, Tokyo too will feel that there is no need for drastic action.
  • Lastly the United States needs to forcefully come out against the linkage of the North Korean nuclear question with unrelated issues in the U.S.-China relationship to address Taiwanese concerns that Washington will trade away the de facto independence of the island in exchange for Chinese assistance in reigning in North Korea.
  • It has become clear that either due to a lack of leverage or deliberate unwillingness, Beijing will not apply the necessary level of pressure to compel Pyongyang to reverse course. The United States should not fall into the trap of expanding the scope of talks in the hope of eliciting additional Chinese cooperation on North Korea.
  • After the 1964 Chinese nuclear test, President Johnson used trade controls and extra intelligence monitoring to slow down the pace of China’s nuclear development. Despite continued apprehension, the U.S. learned to live with China’s nuclear program. This was made possible in large part due to swift and credible U.S. reassurances to key regional allies such as Japan.
  • Over time, as Chinese leaders decided to shift strategies and pursue greater engagement with the Western world, China’s nuclear positions underwent a gradual evolution. North Korea is not China, but a similar policy of strategic patience combined with robust security assurances to South Korea and Japan is the best bet for getting North Korea back to the negotiating table. The alternative is untenable.

How Does Russia Fit Into All Of This? What Do They Want?

  • What do Russians Want? They always know what they want, so you’d better know what you want or they will roll right over you. And in today’s Russia, the question is what does Vladimir Putin want, because he calls the shots on anything of consequence. And his goals are quite clear: unchallenged dominance at home; heavy influence over his neighbors; a weakening of Western institutions like NATO and the European Union; and “great power” influence in key regions like the Middle East.
    • As for changing Russia domestically, a member of Ukraine’s Parliament told me in Kiev, “Ukraine is the only former Soviet state that can change Russia.” She meant that Russians regard Ukraine as the birthplace of the historic Slavic state (in the ninth century) and see Ukrainians as their closest ethnic relatives. If Ukraine could overcome its endemic corruption and develop a prosperous democracy, it would spur support for similar governance in Russia. Helping Ukraine is our most promising strategy and one that Mr. Putin fears. That’s why he invaded Ukraine.
  • What do Americans Want? America shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking this is just a new Cold War and then rely on the instincts we developed back then. The Cold War was actually simpler: a black-and-white global struggle between two diametrically opposed ideologies, one of which had to die. Theirs did. They lost their country, empire and the Communist economic system. That struggle was checkers; today’s is chess. The current clash with Russia cannot be about a total victory with no second act, because unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is not going away. So our strategy has to be about enforcing limits
  • Russia has demanded that the American diplomatic mission reduce its staff by 755 employees, in response to new sanctions imposed by Congress that were signed last week by President Trump.
  • We can’t make Russia welcome NATO on its border, but we can work to strengthen NATO’s unity and deterrence strategy, counteract Russian diplomacy aimed at wavering members and build on steps like the recent forward deployment of NATO forces into the Baltic States and Poland — all the time attaching conditions for any diminution of pressure on Russia
  • We cannot break Russia from an espionage habit that dates back to czarist times, but we can strengthen our counterintelligence capabilities and — very important — start systematically bringing to public light Russian “fake news” aimed at our citizens, as many European governments have begun doing.
  • We can’t change geography or force Russia to ignore neighboring regions where it has deep trade and cultural relations. But we can continue to punish Moscow for seizing territory or conducting covert influence operations intended to undercut a neighbor’s independence and limit its foreign policy options. We can give Ukraine more sophisticated defensive weapons to protect itself against Russian invaders. And we can keep turning up the pressure as Congress has done with new sanctions.
  • We cannot keep Mr. Putin from aspiring to overseas adventures like his expedition into Syria.

220: President Trump, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Chris Spangle, Gregory Lenz, Cat Anagnos, and Tad Western discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Trump Administration.

219: Civil Asset Forfeiture and Trump’s Transgender Military Ban

Chris Spangle, Greg Lenz, Cat Anagnos, Harry Price, and Seth discuss the scourge of civil asset forfeiture, the fate of Jeff Sessions, and Trump’s Trans ban in the military.

Show Notes

219 – Show Notes

Topic 1: Civil Asset Forfeiture is a stealth tax or method of seizing wealth from the taxpayers. This occurs when a law enforcement agency seizes the assets — including real estate, cars, cash, and other valuables — from private citizens based merely on the suspicion that the person has committed a crime with the assets in question. No due process is necessary. No conviction in a court of law need occur.

CAF is a law enforcement tool that enables the seizure and eventual forfeiture of real and personal property that may have been involved in criminal activity. Today’s expansive forfeiture laws, rather than relieving drug kingpins and criminal organizations of their ill-gotten gains (as was their original purpose), instead allow for—and even incentivize—the seizure of property and currency from ordinary Americans based on little or no evidence of actual criminality.

Modern civil forfeiture laws hold that property can be guilty of a crime, and therefore may be seized and forfeited even if that property’s owner never faces criminal charges. For two centuries, American civil forfeiture law was largely restrained to admiralty and customs enforcement.

In the 1980s, Congress and the states turned to civil forfeiture to combat rampant drug distribution and organized crime. Civil forfeiture became a mainstream law enforcement tool and Congress and the states encouraged its use by allowing law enforcement agencies to retain the proceeds of successful property forfeitures.

Once authorities seize private property, the resulting civil proceeding differs dramatically from the customary standards of American criminal law.



  • Important Facts: In recent years, numerous states have been passing new reforms of the long-abused civil asset forfeiture in which police agencies seize private property without any due process.




  • First, the proceeding targets the property rather than the owner. Under forfeiture law at the federal level and in most states, the evidentiary standard requires “a preponderance of the evidence,” not the criminal law standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Thus, prosecutors need prove only that it is more likely than not that the property is tied to crime and is thus forfeitable.




  • Second, the prosecution need not prove that an owner used the property to commit a crime or was willfully blind to its use, as is the case in ordinary criminal trials. In a forfeiture proceeding, the burden falls on the owner to disprove these facts by demonstrating that he neither knew of, nor consented to, the property’s illicit use.




  • Third, property owners in forfeiture cases, unlike defendants in criminal cases, have no guaranteed right to counsel. Consequently, if an owner cannot afford an attorney, he must navigate a tortuous legal landscape alone. Oftentimes, the cost of hiring a lawyer exceeds the value of the seized property or currency; hence, a large number of defendants opt not to retain counsel even if they can afford the expense.

  • With such low odds of victory in forfeiture cases, many innocent property owners simply walk away: A vast majority of federal civil forfeiture cases—88 percent by some estimates—never see the inside of a courtroom.




  • In these “administrative forfeiture” cases, the agency that originally seized the property, and stands to gain financially from keeping it, acts as investigator, prosecutor, judge, and jury all in one.




  • At least 11 states, plus the District of Columbia, have passed new reforms. Some reforms, such as those in New Mexico and Nebraska, prohibit asset forfeiture altogether in the absence of a criminal conviction.




  • Other states have opted for a more incremental approach, and have settled for new mandates in which law enforcement agencies must publicly report what has been seized — with the intent of identifying abuse for possible additional future reforms.



    • Once a federal forfeiture is completed, federal law enforcement agencies may retain and spend the proceeds or, through a program known as “equitable sharing,” transfer a portion of the proceeds—in practice, up to 80 percent—to any state and local agency “which participated directly in any of the acts which led to the seizure or forfeiture of the property.”


    • The Treasury and Justice Departments operate equitable sharing programs. Since 2000, both have doled out more than $5 billion in forfeiture revenues.[6] This money may be spent only by the seizing agency, and then only for law enforcement purposes. The funds are not subject to control by state and local legislatures.



  • While it is technically possible to sue a government agency to reclaim one’s possessions, this requires immense amounts of time and legal fees to pursue. Needless to say, civil asset forfeiture has become a lucrative source of income for law enforcement agencies. And, over the past 30 years, the practice has become widespread.



    • Many police departments have become dependent on CAF [civil asset forfeiture] to pad their budgets. In a survey of 1,400 county sheriffs and municipal police departments, 40 percent of responding agencies agreed that forfeiture provides a necessary budget supplement.


    • Heritage Foundation Report: “The fact that these reforms have been adopted within the past three years is remarkable. Only a few short years ago America’s civil forfeiture system was skewed at both the state and federal levels, seemingly invulnerable to public criticism and legal attack. Yet, with widespread support in their legislatures, states continue to enact significant forfeiture reform measures, often over the alarmist and overblown objections of police, sheriffs, and prosecutors. The message is clear: Outside the law enforcement community, support for the forfeiture status quo is remarkably thin.


    • What happened? US Attorney General Jeff Sessions who in a recent speech to the National District Attorneys Association doubled down on the practice and called for more asset forfeiture.

      “[W]e plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures,” Sessions declared this month, claiming that ” No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime.” Of course, given that asset forfeiture is by definition a seizure of property from a person without any criminal conviction, what sessions really means is this: “no person we suspect of being a criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime.” In other words, in the mind of Jeff Sessions, due process means nothing.



  • Important Questions:



    • What is foundation or principle in question?


    • What historically relevant lessons exist? How so?


    • Are there a moral implications?


    • If so, what is it and what reasoning is the existing morality premised on?


  • Relevant Lessons or Related Ideas (Mentally unpack the topic by explaining and referencing the historical setting and philosophically driven divide behind the reasoning of the opposing left / right / libertarian divide):



  • Different Perspectives (Individual Co-Host Opinion and Analysis)




  • Application to Libertarianism:



    • How does it apply?
    • Is it congruent with libertarianism?


    • If so, how?


    • If not, how would a libertarian solve the problem?


    • Explain the reasoning behind the libertarian approach, not just the design of the solution:


Topic 2: President Trump-Attorney General Sessions Showdown


  • Important Facts: The feud between Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions started early on Tuesday, when President Trump, in an early tweetstorm lashed out at the attorney general whom he accused of taking a “VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes.”

  • “Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!” Trump tweeted. Trump seems to be ignoring calls from almost everyone, from both sides of the aisle, in Congress to tone down the attacks on his own Attorney General.


  • The animosity between Trump and Sessions was first unveiled in an interview with The New York Times last week, when Trump said he would have never hired his attorney general if he knew he would recuse himself from the probe into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump in a tweet Monday morning also asked why the “beleaguered A.G.” wasn’t investigating ties between Clinton and Russia.


  • Overnight, the WaPo reported that Trump has floated possible replacements for Sessions including Sen. Ted Cruz and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, although subsequently Giuliani said on Monday, however, that he’s not being considered for the position.


  • In his latest tweet storm, Trump blasts Sessions for not replacing Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe who was inexplicably allowed by Comey to oversee the Clinton email investigation despite the fact that his wife received substantial funding from Hillary Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe to fund her Senate campaign.


  • After a week of being publicly blasted by President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reportedly preparing to launch a series of investigations into leaks that have emanated from various intelligence agencies since Trump’s election last November.


  • The first word of the leak investigations was leaked, as ironic as that is, to The Washington Post yesterday after a couple of anonymous “U.S. officials” said that Sessions and the Justice Department were preparing to announce more criminal investigations into leaks of sensitive intelligence that have appeared in media reports.


  • Meanwhile, Trump’s new Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, appeared on Fox & Friends earlier this morning to confirm the same.



  • Speaking at a press conference in the Rose Garden just yesterday, Trump said the following: “I want the attorney general to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies which are leaking like rarely have they ever leaked before at a very important level.  These are intelligence agencies, we can not have that happen. I’m very disappointed with the Attorney General.  But we will see what happens.  Time will tell.  Time will tell.”




  • Press Secretary and Communication Director Sean Spicer resigned on Friday morning, “telling President Trump he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of New York financier Anthony Scaramucci as communications director.”




  • While news of Scaramucci’s appointment first broke on Thursday night, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus tried to scuttle the appointment of Scaramucci due to a reported long-running feud with him, according to Breitbart, which adds that Steve Bannon, the ex-Executive Chairman of Breitbart News now the White House chief strategist, also objected to the Scaramucci appointment.



  • Scaramucci cautioned viewers to remember that it’s impossible for him to reach a point of absolutely no leaks, but pledged to clean up the White House press office.

    “People are suggesting I’m going to try to get the leaks down to zero, that is absolutely impossible in Washington, I’m learning a little about this town, but what I do want to have happen is people who report to me, if there are senior people in the administration trying to get them to leak information on each other, we’re getting that to stop right now.”

  • Finally, Mooch The Merciless told Fox:

    “D.C. is the kind of town where people are “very nice to your face,” but then stab you in the back. “I’m more of a front-stabbing person,” he said.



  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has told friends he will be lucky to last a year in his job, according to a friend, while two officials said national security adviser H.R. McMaster was frustrated by what he sees as disorganization and indiscipline on key policy issues inside the White House.

    A source familiar with the situation told Reuters that Tillerson was “very upset at not having autonomy, independence and control over his own department and the ability to do the job the way the job … is traditionally done.”

    The source said he had heard nothing about any possible departure, but added: “The situation doesn’t seem to be getting any better, and in some respects appears to be getting worse.



Topic 3: Trump Bans Transgender Individuals From Military Service



  • Important Facts:



Link To Study



  • The announcement represents a major shift in US military policy; the decision will affect nearly 150,000 active and/or retired/veteran people on service in the US military




  • What happened?



      1. In June 2016, then–Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that transgender individuals would be able to openly serve in the armed forces. He referred at the time to a RAND study estimate that between 1,320 and 6,630 of the 1.3 million active-duty service members might be transgender.


      1. President Obama’s final defense secretary, Ash Carter, issued a directive last year that permitted transgender troops to serve in the military, and to undergo reassignment surgery. That step left a decision for Trump Secretary of Defense James Mattis to make a decision on whether to allow new transgender troops to enter the military.

      2. Defense Secretary James Mattis last month delayed the review of an Obama-era policy that allowed openly transgender people to join the military. Trump’s new policy goes further than Mattis’ delay in definitively barring transgender people from serving in the military:

        “We refer all questions about the president’s statements to the White House,” Defense Department spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with the White House to address the new guidance provided by the commander-in-chief on transgender individuals serving the military. We will provide revised guidance to the department in the near future.”


      1. The Defense Department estimates as many as 7,000 transgender troops serve in the active-duty force of 1.3 million.


      1. It wasn’t immediately clear what Trump’s announcement would mean for the approximately 250 transgender people now serving openly in the U.S. military.


        1. All soldiers in the U.S. Army are now required to take a 50-minute training course on transgender sensitivity.


  • Democrats reacted swiftly, calling the bill discriminatory and unpatriotic:

    Former Vice President Joe Biden, via Twitter

    “Every patriotic American who is qualified to serve in our military should be able to serve. Full stop.”

    Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.

    “When my Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq, I didn’t care if the American troops risking their lives to help save me were gay, straight, transgender or anything else. All that mattered was they didn’t leave me behind. If you are willing to risk your life for our country and you can do the job, you should be able to serve — no matter your gender identity, sexual orientation or race. Anything else is discriminatory and counterproductive to our national security.”

    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

    “This morning transgender service members put on their uniform and showed up for their military duties to be told by their Commander in Chief via Twitter that he doesn’t want them in ‘any capacity.’ These service members are willing to die for their country, and this is an insult to their brave and honorable service. This new directive is harmful, misguided and weakens — not strengthens — our military. I will introduce legislation and will fight to overturn this discriminatory decision.”

    Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., via Twitter

    “I disagree with this decision. If you are qualified to serve, you shouldn’t be banned from the military.

    Also — did the president really consult military leaders on this? Four Star General told SASC [Senate Armed Services Committee] a week ago they wanted time to review this.”



Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., via Twitter

“Transgender Americans in military are heroes like anyone else risking their lives to defend us. @POTUS is wrong.”


Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., via Twitter

“The only thing — only thing — that matters when it comes to allowing military personnel to serve is whether or not they can handle the job. By attacking thousands of troops, @realDonaldTrump makes clear that he cares more about extreme ideology than military readiness. @realDonaldTrump can pretend this is a military decision, but it isn’t. Banning troops on gender identity is shameful & makes us less safe.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., via Twitter

“@POTUS @realDonaldTrump I promise you: this fight is not over. Hatred will never defeat #pride — both of country & of living your life as your true self.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

“On the 69th anniversary of President Truman’s order to integrate the military, President Trump has come down on the wrong side of history. He is choosing to divide us rather than unite us. Brave Americans who seek to selflessly serve this country in uniform should have the opportunity to answer the call to service, regardless of their identity. The Trump administration’s decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. armed forces is another anachronistic, divisive and discriminatory policy that does nothing to enhance the safety and security of the country.”



  • Reactions from Republican lawmakers and conservative groups:

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

    “The president’s tweet this morning regarding transgender Americans in the military is yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.

    The statement was unclear. The Department of Defense has already decided to allow currently serving transgender individuals to stay in the military, and many are serving honorably today. Any American who meets current medical and readiness standards should be allowed to continue serving.



There is no reason to force service members who are able to fight, train and deploy to leave the military — regardless of their gender identity. We should all be guided by the principle that any American who wants to serve our country and is able to meet the standards should have the opportunity to do so — and should be treated as the patriots they are.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

“The commander in chief has a lot of latitude here. I don’t know what the policy proposal is. I don’t know why he decided what he did. But I think the right thing to do here is to have a hearing so we can hear from both sides.”

Rep. Vicki Hartzler, R-Mo.

“I’m pleased to hear that President Trump shares my readiness and cost concerns, and I’m glad to hear the president will be changing this costly and damaging policy. Military service is a privilege, not a right. We must ensure all our precious defense dollars are used to strengthen our national defense. Now, we can focus on rebuilding our military and addressing the growing threats around the world.”

American Family Association President Tim Wildmon

“AFA applauds President Trump for his courageous decision to end the usage of our military for social engineering and political correctness. American families deserve a military that is focused solely on readiness and national defense.”

Log Cabin Republicans

“This smacks of politics, pure and simple. The United States military already includes transgender individuals who protect our freedom day in and day out. Excommunicating transgender soldiers only weakens our readiness; it doesn’t strengthen it. The president’s statement this morning does a disservice to transgender military personnel and reintroduces the same hurtful stereotypes conjured when openly gay men and women were barred from service during the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ era. As an organization that led the charge against that hateful policy, Log Cabin Republicans remains equally committed to standing up for transgender military personnel who put their lives on the line to keep us free.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins

“I applaud President Trump for keeping his promise to return to military priorities — and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military. The military can now focus its efforts on preparing to fight and win wars rather than being used to advance the Obama social agenda.

President Trump recognizes what the nation’s military leadership and the American people realize, this Obama policy makes no sense.

Now that we are assured that the Defense Department has its fiscal priorities in order, Family Research Council withdraws our opposition to increasing the budget of the Department of Defense through the ‘Make America Secure Appropriations Act’ and looks forward to seeing that legislation pass.”



  • LGBTQ rights activists and groups were outraged:

    Chelsea Manning, via Twitter

    “Today is further reason we should dismantle the bloated and dangerous military/intel/police state to fund #healthcare for all #WeGotThis.”



Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin

“Today Donald Trump has proven himself as unpatriotic as he is unfit to serve as commander in chief. He has put a target on the backs of the more than 15,000 transgender troops proudly serving in our military. This heinous and disgusting action endangers the lives of American service members, undermines military readiness and makes our country less safe. It is also the latest effort by Trump and Mike Pence to undo our progress and drag LGBTQ people back into the closet by using our lives as political pawns.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt

“It’s a sad day when the president of the United States declares that transgender Americans are unwelcome in the United States military. This policy is deeply objectionable — it devalues individual Americans and is blatantly discriminatory. We’ll fight against this unpatriotic ban of transgender troops. We cannot let bigotry stop Americans from serving their country. It is especially bitter and ironic that President Trump is attempting to place unnecessary and discriminatory barriers against transgender military service on the very anniversary of President Harry Truman’s executive action in 1948 to desegregate the military.”

American Civil Liberties Union

“This is an outrageous and desperate action. The thousands of transgender service members serving on the front lines for this country deserve better than a commander in chief who rejects their basic humanity,” said Joshua Block, the staff attorney for the ACLU’s LGBT and HIV projects.

Let us be clear. This has been studied extensively, and the consensus is clear: There are no cost or military readiness drawbacks associated with allowing trans people to fight for their country. The president is trying to score cheap political points on the backs of military personnel who have put their lives on the line for their country.

There is no basis for turning trans people away from our military, and the ACLU is examining all of our options on how to fight this. For any trans service member affected by today’s announcement: Please get in touch with us, because we want to hear from you.”

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis

“President Trump today issued a direct attack on transgender Americans, and his administration will stop at nothing to implement its anti-LGBTQ ideology within our government — even if it means denying some of our bravest Americans the right to serve and protect our nation. Today further exposed President Trump’s overall goal to erase LGBTQ Americans from this nation. Trump has never been a friend to LGBTQ Americans, and this action couldn’t make that any more clear.”

National Center from Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Kiesling

“This is worse than ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ This is ‘don’t serve, don’t serve.’ This is an appalling attack on our service members; it is about bigotry rather than military readiness, reason or science. It is indefensible and cannot stand. The president wants to discard thousands of trained and skilled troops who are already serving honorably and done nothing but be honest about who they are. To turn away qualified recruits simply because of who they are is a shameful way to show our country’s gratitude to the people who serve our country.”



  • Important Questions:



    • What is foundation or principle in question?


    • What historically relevant lessons exist? How so?


    • Are there a moral implications?


    • If so, what is it and what reasoning is the existing morality premised on?



  • Relevant Lessons or Related Ideas (Mentally unpack the topic by explaining and referencing the historical setting and philosophically driven divide behind the reasoning of the opposing left / right / libertarian divide):




  • Different Perspectives and Opinions (Individual Co-Host Opinion and Analysis)




  • Application to Libertarianism:



    • How does it apply?
    • Is it congruent with libertarianism?


    • If so, how?


    • If not, how would a libertarian solve the problem?


    • Explain the reasoning behind the libertarian approach, not just the design of the solution:

218: Chloe’s Story – Big Government Impedes Self-Improvement

Chris Spangle and Chloe Anagnos explain how government interferes with a person’s ability to improve their lives in a new installment of The Cost: The Human Toll of Government Policy.

Show Notes:

How Big Government Hurts Those with Chronic Conditions

According to the CDC, chronic conditions are the leading cause of death and disability in the United States.

Chronic diseases and conditions—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis—are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.

  • As of 2012, about half of all adults—117 million people—had one or more chronic health conditions.
  • One in four adults had two or more chronic health conditions.
  • Seven of the top 10 causes of death in 2014 were chronic diseases. Two of these chronic diseases—heart disease and cancer—together accounted for nearly 46% of all deaths.
  • Obesity is a serious health concern. During 2011–2014, more than one-third of adults (36%), or about 84 million people, were obese (defined as body mass index [BMI] ≥30 kg/m2). About one in six youths (17%) aged 2 to 19 years was obese (BMI ≥95th percentile).
  • Arthritis is the most common cause of disability. Of the 54 million adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis, more than 23 million say they have trouble with their usual activities because of arthritis.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations other than those caused by injury, and new cases of blindness among adults.

For those with chronic conditions, it’s difficult to get the medicine they need because:

Starting this year, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will be enforcing new rules that limit the accessibility of almost every Schedule II opioid pain medication manufactured in the U.S. by 25 percent or more. This eliminates phone-in refills and mandates a check-in with a doctor every 90 days for a refill in an effort to curb opioid drug abuse and addiction.

In the United States, Schedule III and IV drugs, (like Xanax, Suboxone, etc.) are treated similarly. Moreover, a government ID must be presented in order to obtain things like cold medicine which could potentially be used to make Schedule I drugs like methamphetamine.

If I were to buy nasal decongestant in my home state of Indiana, not only would I need to present my driver license to the pharmacist, but my name, address, license number, and other personal information must be reported to the Indiana State Police and the Indiana Meth Investigation System.

Chronic Conditions and Big Government’s Unintended Consequences

Many know of the benefits of medical marijuana, but the federal government limits the amount of research that can be done:

“Research on marijuana’s potential for medicinal use has been hampered for years by federal restrictions, even though nearly half of the states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana in some form.”


217: Is Anti-Intellectualism a Good Thing?

Chris Spangle, Gregory Lenz, Cat Anagnos discuss the rising tide of anti-intellectualism in America, and if it is a good thing for our public discourse.

Topic 1: Peak Anti-Intellectualism

“The great object of education is to acquaint the youthful man with himself, to inspire in him self-trust.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson


  • Definition of Anti-Intellectualism: opposing or hostile to intellectuals or to an intellectual view or approach.
  • Important Facts: A new Pew Research Center poll released on Monday revealed that there is one U.S. institution perceived through a larger partisan divide than even the media: It’s college.



  • For the first time, a majority of Republicans think that colleges and universities have a negative impact on the country. Fifty-eight percent say that colleges “are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country,” according to Pew.



  • In other words, the Wall Street banks are more popular with Republican voters than Stanford, Harvard or the University of Akron.



  • Just two years ago, a majority of Republicans, 54 percent, rated universities’ effect as positive.



  • Pew noted, “this shift in opinion has occurred across most demographic and ideological groups within the GOP,” but in particular the poll found that positive views of colleges among Republicans under the age of 50 sunk by 21 percentage points from 2015 to 2017.



  • While Republican views of colleges and universities remained largely the same throughout much of the Obama administration, 65 percent of self-identified conservatives now say that colleges and universities have a negative impact on the country.



  • Positive views of colleges dropped even among Republicans who hold a college or graduate degree, declining by 11 percentage points during the last two years.



  • Democrats and independents who lean Democrat, on the other hand, continue to hold a positive attitude toward such institutions, with 72 percent saying they approve of higher education.



  • While Pew conducted the study, it was a Salon.com article that really thrust this issue into arena of public debate among Mainstream media analysis and commentary panels. Salon’s analysis was:


    1. “Republican politicians in recent years have pushed back on the four-year degree, building upon their long-hyped attack on institutes of higher education as bastions of liberal indoctrination.

      Last month, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, held a hearing titled “Free Speech 101: The Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses.” The Wisconsin State Assembly passed a bill last month allowing college administrators to expel students for “disrupting” college speakers.

      It’s likely no coincidence that just as conservatives decry the scourge of “political correctness” on liberal arts campuses, their campaign to undermine the institutions that defend a growing diversity of voices among students and faculty is bearing fruit.

Arizona Republicans recently threatened to cut funding by 10 percent from public institutions that offer courses and events that are “designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group” or advocate “solidarity” based on ethnicity, race, religion or gender.

Donald Trump’s threats to defund the University of California at Berkeley following a February melee in protest of right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos’ scheduled appearance harken back to Ronald Reagan’s 1966 campaign for governor of California, during which he pledged “to clean up the mess at Berkeley” caused by “a small minority of hippies, radicals and filthy speech advocates.”

The right has long decried the ivory towers of academia, but now that those ivory towers are increasingly filled with members of marginalized communities, such attacks are beginning to resonate with average Republicans.

Between Election Day last November and April 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has documented at least 330 incidents of bias on university campuses. More than 135 incidents since the start of the 2016 academic school year, the SPLC reports, have involved recruitment efforts by white supremacists.”


  • Other relevant articles:



  • Important Questions:


    1. What is foundation or principle in question? Intellectualism or the accepted beliefs and consensus opinion of society’s “experts” on matters within the hard and social sciences.
    1. What historically relevant lessons exist? How so?


  • The track records of “experts”:


        1. Club of Rome: Forty years ago, The Limits to Growth, a report to the Club of Rome, was released with great fanfare at a conference at the Smithsonian Institution. The study was based on a computer model developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and designed “to investigate five major trends of global concern—accelerating industrial development, rapid population growth, widespread malnutrition, depletion of nonrenewable resources, and a deteriorating environment.”

The goal was to use the model to explore the increasingly dire “predicament of mankind.”

The MIT researchers concluded, “If present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years.”

With considerable understatement, they added, “The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity.” In other words: a massive population crash in a starving, polluted, depleted world.

Population: The Limits researchers noted, “Unless there is a sharp rise in mortality, which mankind will strive mightily to avoid, we can look forward to a world population of around 7 billion persons in 30 more years.” In addition, they suggested that in 60 years there would be “four people in the world for everyone living today.”

In fact, average global life expectancy rose from 60 to nearly 70 years. On the other hand, the global fertility rate (the average number of children a woman has during her lifetime) fell from about 6 per woman in 1970 to 2.8 today and continues to fall.

World population stood at 3.8 billion in 1972, which means that a four-fold increase in 60 years would have yielded a total world population of 15 billion by 2030.

Food: In 1972, the Limits researchers noted that about 1.4 billion hectares of land was being cultivated and projected that if current crop yields did not improve 3 billion hectares would be needed by 2000 to feed a projected population of 7 billion.

The Limits analysts did note that if crop yields doubled (which they did not expect) that land devoted to producing crops would only increase marginally—which is what actually happened. The U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization reports that since 1960 cropland has expanded from 1.4 billion to 1.5 billion hectares

Nonrenewable resources: Probably the most notorious projections from the MIT computer model involved the future of nonrenewable resources. The researchers warned: “Given present resource consumption rates and the projected increase in these rates, the great majority of currently nonrenewable resources will be extremely expensive 100 years from now.” To emphasize the point they pointed out that “those resources with the shortest static reserve indices have already begun to increase.”

Environment: In most of the Limits model runs, the ultimate factor that does humanity in is pollution. In their model pollution directly increases human death rates and also dramatically reduces food production.

In fact, as the world economy has grown, global average life expectancy has increased from 52 years in 1960 to 70 years now. It must be acknowledged that globally, pollution [PDF] from industrial and agricultural production continues to rise. But the model assumed that pollution would increase at exponential rates. However, many pollution trends have not increased exponentially in advanced countries.

One of the odder features of the Limits computer model is that it basically ignores one of the most robust feedback mechanisms in the world—markets and price systems. The modelers warn against placing our faith in the technological solutions, pointing to the collapse of the whaling industry as an example. They argue that improvements in whaling technology ended up destroying that industry.

They completely overlook the fact that whaling occurred in an open access commons in which everyone has incentive to kill as many whales as possible to make sure that their competitors didn’t benefit from them.

Similarly, today wherever one identifies an environmental problem, one can be sure that it is occurring in the moral equivalent of an open access commons. In fact, the depletion of whales and rising price of whale oil encouraged entrepreneurs to seek new form of lighting; in this case, turning gooey crude oil into kerosene.


  • Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth: 18 examples of the spectacularly wrong predictions made around 1970 when the “green holy day” (aka Earth Day) started:

    1. Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

    2. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” wrote Washington University biologist Barry Commoner in the Earth Day issue of the scholarly journal Environment.

    3. The day after the first Earth Day, the New York Times editorial page warned, “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”

    4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 issue of Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

    5. “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Paul Ehrlich in a 1969 essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe! “By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”

    6. Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the 1970 Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.”

    7. “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” declared Denis Hayes, the chief organizer for Earth Day, in the Spring 1970 issue of The Living Wilderness.

    8. Peter Gunter, a North Texas State University professor, wrote in 1970, “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”

    9. In January 1970, Life reported, “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”

    10. Ecologist Kenneth Watt told Time that, “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”

    11. Barry Commoner predicted that decaying organic pollutants would use up all of the oxygen in America’s rivers, causing freshwater fish to suffocate.

    12. Paul Ehrlich chimed in, predicting in 1970 that “air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” Ehrlich sketched a scenario in which 200,000 Americans would die in 1973 during “smog disasters” in New York and Los Angeles.

    13. Paul Ehrlich warned in the May 1970 issue of Audubon that DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbons “may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945.” Ehrlich warned that Americans born since 1946…now had a life expectancy of only 49 years, and he predicted that if current patterns continued this expectancy would reach 42 years by 1980, when it might level out. (Note: According to the most recent CDC report, life expectancy in the US is 78.8 years).

    14. Ecologist Kenneth Watt declared, “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”

    15. Harrison Brown, a scientist at the National Academy of Sciences, published a chart in Scientific American that looked at metal reserves and estimated the humanity would totally run out of copper shortly after 2000. Lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would be gone before 1990.

    16. Sen. Gaylord Nelson wrote in Look that, “Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”

    17. In 1975, Paul Ehrlich predicted that “since more than nine-tenths of the original tropical rainforests will be removed in most areas within the next 30 years or so, it is expected that half of the organisms in these areas will vanish with it.”

    18. Kenneth Watt warned about a pending Ice Age in a speech. “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years,” he declared. “If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”

  • Central Planning Social Policies at every level of US Government: busing, integration of public schools in the American south post the Civil Rights Act being adopted, etc…


    1. Are there a moral implications? A great number of them
    1. If so, what is it and what reasoning is the existing morality premised on? Man’s ability to discover knowledge through reason is a “positive”


  • What caused higher education to become viewed as a negative thing?



  • What were the seminal moments?



  • When did Americans stop aspiring to education and allow a lack of it to make them feel inferior and distrustful?



  • What’s the current state of higher education?



  • Are the majority of Republicans wrong?



  • What comprises a “good” education or “knowledge”?



  • What should one be able to do upon being “educated”?



  • What demonstrable skills or abilities should one be able to display or know?



  • What is “intellectualism” defined as by those who were about growing opposition to it?



  • What does peak anti-intellectualism mean for the future?



  • What effect will growing anti-intellectualism have on libertarianism? In what ways? Positive or negative?



  • American Politics and Political movements in general?
  • Relevant Lessons or Related Ideas (Mentally unpack the topic by explaining and referencing the historical setting and philosophically driven divide behind the reasoning of the opposing left / right / libertarian divide):


  • Different Perspectives (Individual Co-Host Opinion and Analysis)



  • Application to Libertarianism:


    1. How does it apply?
    1. Is it congruent with libertarianism?
    1. If so, how?
    1. If not, how would a libertarian solve the problem?
    1. Explain the reasoning behind the libertarian approach, not just the design of the solution:

216: CNN, Explaining North Korea, Succession and the Free State of Jones

Chris Spangle, Gregory Lenz, and Cat Anagnos discuss Trump’s CNN GIF, explain the background and complexity of the North Korean crisis, and review a libertarian movie titled The Free State of Jones.


Topics: North Korea, Trump-Putin First Meeting, and Showtime’s Free State of Jones

Topic 1: North Korea

North Korea’s latest provocation—a successful test of an intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM)—brings the long-building crisis on the Korean peninsula to a dangerous flashpoint.

For one thing, it’s clear evidence that North Korea aspires not merely to have a nuclear-weapons program, but to be able to target the continental US. And that’s a dangerous aspiration for a risk-tolerant pariah state to have.

The conundrum with North Korea is that none of the options are good. Despite Trump’s self-assuring rhetoric that the United States has “many options,” the reality is exactly the opposite.

U.S. military action, a last-ditch option that would pretty much guarantee the leveling of the South Korean capital, tens of thousands of civilian casualties, perhaps thousands of American casualties, and the highly likely prospect of further escalation between the two Koreas. Sure, this is one of Trump’s “many options,” but it’s not one that is particularly productive.

So, what other alternatives are there?

The Trump administration has so far thrown most of its chips in the China pot—pressuring and/or cajoling Chinese President Xi Jinping that it’s in his country’s interest and the region’s interest to sever the lifeblood of money flowing into North Korea courtesy of banks, middlemen, black-market smugglers and financial subsidiaries operating on Chinese soil.

Beijing has cut North Korean coal imports to near zero levels for the last three months, there is still plenty of business going on across the Chinese-North Korean border. The Treasury Department wouldn’t have recently sanctioned a top Chinese bank if the administration didn’t believe that Beijing needed a jolt to the arm.

So, if military action would be a disaster and the Chinese route looks less than fleeting, what other options are there?

  1. One is admitting the obvious: that North Korea is a nuclear-weapons state whether America likes it or not, and that the time has come for a full U.S.-led containment strategy with South Korea, China, Japan and Russia. Containment would mean deploying more anti-missile defense systems in the area, expanding the THAAD system into Japan, placing an additional aircraft carrier permanently in the waters of the Pacific, and tripling down on missile defense to protect American cities on the West Coast.

Congress would certainly appreciate the extra investment in missile defense but would be absolutely livid if the White House simply accepted North Korea as a member of the nuclear club. The politics would be terrible for the administration and for the president personally, especially with members of his own party.

  1. The last option would require another round of diplomacy—a decision that is unpopular in Washington on a good day, but detested at present given Otto Warmbier’s untimely death and Pyongyang’s successful ICBM launch. The diplomatic route would require U.S. diplomats to sit down with the North Koreans and negotiate with them directly, a picture that would be revolting to a lot of Americans.

It would also require the United States to offer some concessions to Pyongyang in exchange for a suspension of its nuclear and missile testing, a stoppage of nuclear research and development, and a commitment that U.N. Security Council resolutions would no longer be violated every other day.

Kim Jong-un would certainly have a lot of asks; he’ll probably ask for the moon and the stars, perhaps calculating that the United States needs North Korea to cease its nuclear program more than North Korea needs Washington to provide sanctions relief. And there’s always a very good possibility that discussions with North break down entirely, which has happened so many times in the past that it’s become part of the script over the last two decades.

*The North Koreans are not stupid: They know they’re militarily outclassed by their enemies. So their strategy in the event of an out-and-out war, as far as outside analysts can tell, is to inflict overwhelming pain as quickly as possible:

To bombard South Korea, Japan, and any American forces they can find with missiles and artillery to the point where their stronger enemies lose their appetite for a protracted conflict.


  • Important Facts:



  • What happened?


      • While Americans were busy enjoying the July Fourth holiday, news broke that North Korea had crossed another military milestone: its first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. This missile, the kind that could theoretically be tipped with a nuclear warhead, could travel far enough to hit Alaska.
      • Trump’s unequivocal declaration that “the year of strategic patience with the North Korean regime has failed and that the “patience is over,” was well and good for the cameras.
      • But the strong and forceful rhetoric Trump delivered wasn’t a policy, which is sorely what the administration needs if it has even a slim possibility of arresting the development of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic-missile programs.


  • Who are the individuals, institutions, organizations, and area involved?



  • North Korea



  • United States



  • South Korea



  • China



  • Russia



  • Japan



  • South China Sea



  • What is the argument about? It is a dispute over territory and sovereignty over ocean areas, and the Paracels and the Spratlys – two island chains claimed in whole or in part by a number of countries. Alongside the fully fledged islands, there are dozens of rocky outcrops, atolls, sandbanks and reefs, such as the Scarborough Shoal.



  • Why are they worth arguing over? Although largely uninhabited, the Paracels and the Spratlys may have reserves of natural resources around them. There has been little detailed exploration of the area, so estimates are largely extrapolated from the mineral wealth of neighbouring areas. The sea is also a major shipping route and home to fishing grounds that supply the livelihoods of people across the region.



  • China claims by far the largest portion of territory – an area defined by the “nine-dash line” which stretches hundreds of miles south and east from its most southerly province of Hainan.


        1. At the heart of the dispute are eight uninhabited islands and rocks in the East China Sea. They have a total area of about 7 sq km and lie north-east of Taiwan, east of the Chinese mainland and south-west of Japan’s southern-most prefecture, Okinawa. The islands are controlled by Japan.

        2. They matter because they are close to important shipping lanes, offer rich fishing grounds and lie near potential oil and gas reserves. They are also in a strategically significant position, amid rising competition between the US and China for military primacy in the Asia-Pacific region.


  • What is the role of the US? The US and Japan forged a security alliance in the wake of World War II and formalised it in 1960. Under the deal, the US is given military bases in Japan in return for its promise to defend Japan in the event of an attack.
    This means if conflict were to erupt between China and Japan, Japan would expect US military back-up.



  • Korean War



  • When did it happen?


      • While Americans were busy enjoying the July Fourth holiday, news broke that North Korea had crossed another military milestone: its first successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
      • President Donald Trump and South Korean president Moon Jae-in strutted up to two podiums in the White House Rose Garden with two major objectives. The first—to reassure Americans, South Koreans and the rest of the international community that the U.S.-South Korea alliance is as solid as a rock, even with Trump at the helm—was for the most part successful. The second, which entailed warning North Korea that it better behave soon or else certain options would be taken in response, was more of a public-relations show than anything else.


  • Why did it happen?


      • The North Korean crisis is even scarier than you think. That isn’t because the country’s supreme leader, 33-year-old Kim Jong Un, is totally irrational — a “crazy fat kid,” as Sen. John McCain once termed him.
      • The impoverished North Korean regime is deeply insecure, so worried about its own survival that it is willing to go to dangerously provocative lengths to scare the United States and South Korea out of any potential attack.
      • Given North Korea’s massive conventional military and unknown number of nuclear weapons, conflict on the Korean Peninsula would cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives.
        • That’s not to say that war between the US and North Korea is likely, even after the new missile test. It isn’t. Rather, it’s that the risk of a catastrophic conflict is much higher than anyone should feel comfortable with, arguably more likely than anywhere else in the world.


  • What solutions are available?


      • Diplomatic Options: China’s gone back to pushing its idea of ‘a cap for a cap’: a freeze on North Korea’s programs in exchange for a freeze on US – South Korean military exercises. To be frank, that idea’s unappealing. While there’s some residual value in ‘freezing’ programs that have already demonstrated a considerable measure of success, staying in a freeze isn’t a long-term option.
      • Pyongyang has stated bluntly that it has no intention of denuclearising. (Indeed, it has written its nuclear status into its Constitution.) Not to mention that US – South Korean exercises are a necessary part of ensuring the effectiveness of the alliance.
      • Economic Options: Sanctions could surely be tightened. But they are so blunt, slow and uneven that it would take years to ensure they exercised decisive leverage upon Pyongyang’s policy choices.
      • North Korean economy’s in relatively good shape today—comparatively speaking, of course. It’s absolutely no match for the South Korean economy, but nor is Kim Jong-un’s regime under real economic duress. Meanwhile, Pyongyang has developed considerable skill in sanctions-busting, especially through the judicious use of front companies.


  • Military Options: One option would be to return US tactical nuclear warheads to South Korea. But Washington is reluctant to do that, not least because it would suggest that it’s ‘balancing’ North Korea as a recognised nuclear power.



  • Similarly, notwithstanding Donald Trump’s remarks on the election hustings last year, Washington isn’t keen to see South Korea and Japan construct their own indigenous nuclear arsenals. That would open a Pandora’s box of proliferation worries both in Asia and elsewhere.


      • A second option would be to take direct steps against the North’s missile program, for example. A concerted effort of cyber warfare, electronic warfare and ballistic missile defence could slow the program. Slowing it beyond that might require provocative steps, such as pre-emptive attacks on launch facilities. But that option will become steadily more difficult as the North ‘hardens’ potential cyber targets and moves towards the greater use of mobile missile launchers—something it’s already doing.


      • A direct military attack on North Korea to degrade its nuclear and missile programs would be the most serious of all military options. In the long run, it’s probably the surest path to the end goal—but in the short run, Pyongyang would have available to it a set of response options that would do serious damage to both Seoul and, perhaps, Tokyo.
      • Some analysts have their fingers crossed that the situation can slide—however ungracefully—into a long-term relationship of nuclear deterrence between North Korea and the US. But is that really a tolerable outcome? During the Cold War, the Soviet Union endured a relationship with France under which Paris threatened to ‘rip the arm off’ the USSR and leave it a one-armed superpower.
      • Would the US be prepared to endure a similar relationship with North Korea? To be honest, it’s a doubtful proposition. North Korea is not France. It’s a pariah state. Even leaving it as a long-term nuclear-armed actor is bad enough—because Pyongyang might eventually decide to sell key weapons technologies or actual devices to others.
      • The latest missile test can only sharpen worries in Seoul about a potential decoupling of the US from security on the peninsula. The South Koreans have long worried that the development of a North Korean ICBM capability would make Washington more hesitant to come to the South’s aid in any possible nuclear showdown with the North.


  • Important Questions:


What is foundation or principle in question? State sovereignty, Humanitarian implications, Authority to maintain global order

      • How did we get here?
      • What do the North Koreans want?
      • What does the United States want?
      • What concessions would the US have to make to China to get them to step in and put an end to this for a while?
      • Who would such concessions anger? Japan
      • Why? The still yet to be resolved situation in South China Sea between Japan and China.


  • What historically relevant lessons exist? How so?


      • To understand why North Korea is so unstable, we need to start with something counterintuitive: North Korea is really weak.

        Pyongyang is one of the world’s poorest countries. Its GDP per capita is estimated at about $1,000, about 1/28th of South Korea’s. It faces chronic shortages of food and medical supplies, depending on Chinese aid to meet its citizens’ basic needs. There’s a real risk that the Kim regime collapses under the weight of its own mismanagement.

        Nor is the North secure from military attack. While its army is extremely large personnel-wise, with about 1.2 million soldiers, it uses antiquated Cold War technology while its neighbors to the South are equipped with top-of-line modern gear.
      • Moreover, the presence of 23,500 US troops in South Korea means any war between North and South Korea would draw in the world’s only superpower, though with potentially enormous American casualties.
      • Facing the twin dangers of domestic instability and foreign attack, the North has devised a strategy for survival that depends (somewhat counterintuitively) on provoking the South and the United States.

        The North will do something that it knows will infuriate its enemies, like testing an intercontinental ballistic missile or shelling a South Korean military base. This limit-pushing behavior is designed to show that the North is willing to escalate aggressively in the event of any kind of action from Washington or Seoul that threatens the regime, thus deterring them from making even the slightest move to undermine the Kim regime.
      • It also sends a signal to the North Korean people that they’re constantly under threat from foreign invasions, and that they need to support their government unconditionally to survive as a nation.

        The problem is that this strategy is inherently unstable. There’s always a risk that one of these manufactured crises spirals out of control, leading to a conflict that no one really wants. This is especially risky because the North Korean government is deeply insular.


  • Washington doesn’t have the kind of direct line of communication with the North that it had with the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War, which was vital in preventing standoffs like the Cuban Missile Crisis from escalating.



  • Are there a moral implications?


      • What about the citizens trapped in North Korea under a tyrannical dictator?
      • Is there a moral balance in justifying lives lost on humanitarian pursuits (military and non-military)?
      • By relying on the Chinese, another dictatorial regime, on civil and social issues, is it preferable in reality despite accepting moral relativism in reality?


    • Relevant Lessons or Related Ideas (Mentally unpack the topic by explaining and referencing the historical setting and philosophically driven divide behind the reasoning of the opposing left / right / libertarian divide):


  • What caused the rift between the US and North Korea? Karl Marx and his writing of the Communist Manifesto.


    • At the Potsdam Conference in 1945, the Allies decided to split Korea into two parts at the 38th parallel. North Korea became a Soviet-supported communist regime under the leadership of Kim Il-sung; South Korea became a U.S.-supported democratic state under Syngman Rhee.
    • When Japan fell during the Second World War, Korea was suddenly free, and hoped to finally be able to decide the fate of their own country. Most Koreans campaigned for a unified state.
    • However, the United States and the Soviet Union had different ideas. The Soviets wanted to expand the sphere of communist influence into Korea. The United States countered by encouraging the establishment of democracy. Additionally, the United States stressed the importance of containment, which is a foreign policy used to prevent the spread of communism.
    • The Cold War was an important cause in the Korean War. Relations between the two occupying powers were bad and when China became Communist in October 1949, the President of the USA, Harry Truman, was very worried that other countries around China may also become Communist, such as Japan.
    • The American Army was about one twelfth the size of five years earlier and Joseph Stalin had recently lost a Cold War dispute over the Berlin Blockade and subsequent airlift. This disagreement would eventually lead to the Korean War. The Korean War was the first battle of the Cold War.
    • On 17 October 1926, a teenage Kim Il-sung, who would later become North Korea’s first leader, set up the “Down-with-Imperialism Union”. It was founded, so the propaganda goes, to fight against Japanese imperialism and to promote Marxism-Leninism.
    • Kim Il-sung was something of an urban legend known for a daring raid on the town of Pochonbo in 1937 where, at the age of 24, he is said to have led a military unit to capture a Japanese-held town on the Korean border. It was seen as a major military success, even if it only lasted for a few hours.
    • The Soviets put him very much at the centre of the strange coalition that became the North Korean Workers Party. This included Chinese Korean activists, members of the ethnic Korean diaspora from Russia, South Korean Communists who migrated North and Kim’s guerrilla fighters.
    • Songbun “caste system” was adopted by the Communist Party. It was effectively a massive political purge of North Korean society through social classification.
      There are few definitive guides to the Songbun and it is known to be both complex and opaque but in essence people were divided into three main groups:


  • Core class
  • Wavering class


      • Hostile class: essentially those deemed a political threat, and had no hope of any personal or career advancement.
    • The North Korean propaganda machine would like to celebrate this as the anniversary of the Party’s foundation. For others, the true foundation is 1949, when South and North Korean Communists finally came together in a coalition that aimed to lead one unified Korea.
    • But 1945 saw the establishment of the North Korean Bureau of the Communist Party of Korea. This became the body which rules today.

      • 1945 – Japan’s colonial rule over Korea ends with its World War II surrender.
      • 1948 – Korea is divided between the Soviet-backed North and the US-backed South. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea proclaimed, with Kim Il-sung installed as leader. Soviet troops withdraw.
      • 1950-1953 – Korean War: South declares independence, sparking North Korean invasion and the Korean War.
      • June 25, 1950: North Korea invades South Korea across the 38th parallel and takes most of South Korea. The South Korean Army retreats to Busan. China starts to feel threatened with the war happening so close to them and tells the UN Army and the South Korean army to return to the border and that they have no business to fight so far into North Korea.
      • October 1950: The warning given by the Chinese is ignored by the UN (led by an American general, Douglas MacArthur) and so the Chinese army, called the People’s Liberation Army, invades North Korea and helps the North Koreans fight the UN until the UN forces are pushed past the border separating North and South Korea.
      • 1953 – Armistice ends Korean War.
      • 1968 January – North Korea captures USS Pueblo, a US naval intelligence ship. A political bloodbath took place between 1967 to 1971 when 17 senior officials were purged.
      • Purges targeted members of Kim Il-sung’s own original guerrilla faction and set up his control over the army as well. The military leadership in place when the USS Pueblo spy ship was captured by North Koreans in 1968 – a huge coup – were taken out. In contrast to other purges, some of them returned to power years later.
      • And after the 5th Party Congress in 1970, the party completed its transformation from a typical Marxist-Leninist political party to one that venerated Kim Il-sung and became responsible for implementing his will.
      • 1972 – North and South Korea issue joint statement on peaceful reunification.
      • 1974 February – Kim Il-sung designates eldest son, Kim Jong-il as his successor.
      • 1985 – North Korea joins the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, barring the country from producing nuclear weapons.
      • 1986 – Research nuclear reactor in Yongbyon becomes operational.
      • 1991 – North and South Korea join the United Nations.
      • 1993 – International Atomic Energy Agency accuses North Korea of violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and demands inspectors be given access to nuclear waste storage sites. North Korea threatens to quit Treaty.
      • 1993 – North Korea test-fires a medium-range Rodong ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.
      • 1994 July – Death of Kim Il-sung. Kim Jong-il succeeds his father as leader. After the death of Kim Il-sung in 1994 and because of the wider social impact of the North Korean famine, known as The Arduous March, the Party became somewhat moribund. Its Central Committee did not hold a meeting, one they publicised anyway, from 1993 until 2010. Key vacancies remain unfilled. It still had administrative duties but as a political entity it was diminished.


  • But in 2010, Kim Jong-il revived the party as a political institution to cope with his declining health and to boost the succession of his son Kim Jong-un.


      • 1996 – Severe famine follows widespread floods; 3 million North Koreans reportedly die from starvation.
      • 1996 April – North Korea announces it will no longer abide by the armistice that ended the Korean War, and sends thousands of troops into the demilitarised zone.
      • 1998 August – North Korea fires a multistage long-range rocket which flies over Japan and lands in the Pacific Ocean, well beyond North Korea’s known capability.

      • 2000 – First-ever Inter-Korean summit
      • 2002 – US names North Korea as part of an “axis of evil”
      • 2003 – North Korea withdraws from Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
      • 2006 – North Korea conducts first underground nuclear test
      • 2011 – Kim Jong-il dies, succeeded by his youngest son Kim Jong-un. Kim Jong-un, the party has thrived as a political institution. He has been involved in the party’s revival since 2007, and as supreme leader, like his grandfather, he has used the party’s Political Bureau to publicly dismiss wayward officials as he did with former military chief of staff Ri Yong-ho and even his own uncle Jang Song-thaek. He is also building his power base through the party’s Central Military Commission.
      • 2016 November – UN Security Council further tightens sanctions by aiming to cut one of North Korea’s main exports, coal, by 60 per cent.

      • 2017 January – Kim Jong-un says North Korea is in the final stages of developing long-range guided missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

      • 2017 February – Kim Jong-un’s estranged half-brother Kim Jong-nam is killed by a highly toxic nerve agent in Malaysia, with investigators suspecting North Korean involvement.

      • 2017 April – The US warns North Korea off nuclear and ballistic missile tests after several months of North Korean tests and rhetoric.



  • Different Perspectives (Individual Co-Host Opinion and Analysis)


  • Application to Libertarianism:



  • What would a libertarian approach to US-North Korean relations look like?

Topic 2: President Trump meets Vladimir Putin for their first face to face meeting

Topic 3: Free State of Jones

215: Cultural Marxism and What It Means for America

Chris Spangle, Gregory Lenz, and Cat Anagnos discuss cultural Marxism and what it means for the future of American culture.

214: Free Speech Under Attack, Michelle Carter and Suicide Incitement, GOP Health Care Law

Chris Spangle, Gregory Lenz, Cat Anagnos, and Barstool Heartland’s Jeff Vibbert discuss the Michelle Carter case where she encouraged a friend to commit suicide and the GOP health care proposal.

213: Social Media’s Role in Political Hate, Trump Investigation Expands

Chris Spangle, Greg Lenz, Hannah Cook, and Cat Anagnos discuss social media’s role in the Congressional shooting, and the Mueller investigation expands to President Trump.

Show Notes

Republican Shooting

  • James T. Hodgkinson, a 66-year-old man from Illinois, walked onto a baseball diamond Wednesday in Northern Virginia and shot House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Four others, including a congressional staffer, a lobbyist, and two members of the Capitol Police, were also wounded in the attack.
  • On Wednesday morning, Mr. Hodgkinson single opened fire on a practice session Congressional Republicans for their annual charity congressional baseball game against Congressional Democrats.
  • The shooter attacked near Eugene Simpson Stadium Park in Alexandria. The game, a partisan match between Democratic and Republican lawmakers, had been scheduled for Thursday evening at 7 pm.
  • At approximately 7:09 a.m. on June 14, the Alexandria Police Department responded to the scene at 400 East Monroe Avenue in Alexandria, Virginia. They arrived at 7:12 a.m. to shots fired in the vicinity of Eugene Simpson Stadium Park, where members of a congressional baseball team were practicing.
  • The subject was engaged by law enforcement and shot at approximately 7:14 a.m.
  • The first congressional baseball game was played in 1909, and Democrats roughed up the Republican team, 26-16.
  • At the heart of the game has long been charity. The 1917 game, in the midst of World War I, supported the Red Cross and during the Depression proceeds went to relief of the unemployed. In recent years, millions of dollars have been raised for a variety of organizations ranging from the Boys and Girls Club to the Washington Literacy Corps
  • The game brings families to Washington, a rarity; spouses meet and members of Congress spend time with each other away from the Capitol. In essence, the game offers a reprieve from the daily grind of politics.
  • The game, which remains on schedule for 7 p.m. Thursday.
  • House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and four others were treated at local hospitals Wednesday after a gunman opened fire on a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va., on Wednesday morning.
    • Scalise, 51, is a fifth-term congressman who serves as the top vote counter for House GOP leadership. He’s married with two children, and he hails from Louisiana. He’s known as a booster for his state, recommending restaurants to visiting staffers or reporters.
    • Scalise was a member of the College Republicans at Louisiana State University and volunteered for George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign. As a child, he urged neighbors to vote, according to a “Politics in America” almanac profile.
    • On the Hill, he has been considered one of the more conservative members of the conference, backing spending cuts and gun rights. Scalise also used his perch to advocate for Louisiana in 2010 after the BP oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest oil spill in U.S. history. He sponsored legislation giving fines related to the spill to coastal states to rebuild.
    • In 2012, Scalise was elected head of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative lawmakers. In 2014, when then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) loss in a primary triggered a leadership shuffle, Scalise won his current spot as whip, buoyed by southern Republicans who wanted to see one of their own in leadership.
  • Congressional staffer Zack Barth
    • Barth has worked for Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) since last year. He’s the congressman’s “legislative correspondent.” He previously worked for former Rep. Randy Neugebauer as both a staff and policy assistant, before joining Williams’ office in September, according to legislative records.
  • Williams tweeted Wednesday that Barth was “receiving medical attention but is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery.”
  • Lobbyist Matt Mika
    • Lobbyist for Tyson Foods, suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and was said to be in the intensive care unit at a Washington hospital, where friends were keeping vigil on Wednesday afternoon, several sources familiar with the situation told POLITICO. His family said he has been listed in critical condition.
  • Capitol Hill Police Officer David Bailey
    • Bailey, per his LinkedIn profile, has worked for the Capitol Police since 2008. He also worked a stint for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    • Bailey was treated and released after sustaining a minor injury during the incident, Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
  • Capitol Hill Police Officer Crystal Griner
    • Verderosa said Griner was in good condition in the hospital after being shot in the ankle Wednesday morning.
  • The gunman, identified by a law enforcement source as James T. Hodgkinson of Illinois, died.
    • Hodgkinson’s wife told ABC that he had been living in Alexandra for the past two months.
    • A Facebook page linked to Hodgkinson lists him as the owner of JTH Inspections. A Yelp page for JTH Inspections has pictures of Hodgkinson and locates the company in Belleville, IL.
    • Hodgkinson posted content favorable to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on his page and signed a Change.org petition for the removal of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. “Trump is a Traitor. Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time to Destroy Trump & Co.,” Hodgkinson wrote in a March 22 post.
    • The former mayor of Alexandria, Virginia Bill Euille, said he had spoken with the suspected congressional baseball practice shooter almost every morning for more than a month, and had discovered the man was living out of his gym bag.
    • The former mayor lost his reelection bid last year, but told the Washington Post he first met Hodgkinson during their morning workouts at the local YMCA. Euille said he frequently saw Hodgkins in the lobby using his laptop.
    • Euille said Hodgkinson approached him after hearing people greeting Euille as “mayor.”

      “After the first or second week, he asked about good places to eat … within walking distance,” Euille said. “He was a very friendly person.”

      “But what I did notice about this gentleman is he’d open up his gym bag and in it, he had everything he owned. He was living out of his gym bag. That, and he sat in the Y’s lobby for hours and hours. Outside of myself, I don’t think he knew anyone else is in town.”

      Mayor Euille said Hodgkinson had told him he was a home inspector and asked about available jobs, but said he didn’t have a bachelor’s degree.
  • According to multiple outlets, after his suspected shoot out with law enforcement, Hodgkinson died of his injuries in hospital. In an interview with Hodgkinson’s wife, Suzanne, told ABC that he had taken a trip and had been living in Alexandria for the last two months. He is survived by his wife and brother Michael.
  • The FBI issued a joint statement according to which the shooter’s weapons recovered at the scene include a 9 mm handgun and a 7.62 caliber rifle, and more importantly, the:

“ATF has conducted traces on these weapons and has determined that both were purchased by the shooter from federal firearms licensees.” It also adds that “we currently have no evidence to suggest that the purchases were not lawful.”

  • Additionally, the FBI said it has processed the shooter’s vehicle, a white conversion van, which was parked in the parking lot of the YMCA directly adjacent to the park where the shooting took place. From that vehicle, the FBI has recovered and is processing a cell phone, a computer, and a camera.
  • In other words, not only was Hodgkinson a resident of Illinois, arguably the state with the most prohibitive gun laws, but his purchases were also legal.

Senate Intelligence Committee Testimony

  • In the run-up to the hearing, Sessions canceled a previously scheduled appearance before a Senate appropriations subcommittee, where he was supposed to discuss the Trump administration’s multibillion-dollar budget request for the Justice Department.
  • Sessions explained his refusal to answer these questions by citing “long-standing department policy,” but ran into some difficulty when asked by Harris exactly what that policy was. He had not read the policy; nor had he asked that the policy be provided to him. He had “talked about it,” he said, although the “it” that was talked about may not have been a policy after all.
  • Instead, Sessions said, it was “the real principle” — that the Constitution guarantees what Sessions called the president’s “confidentiality of communications,” terms that appear in certain legal decisions but do not appear in the Constitution. “It would be premature for me to deny the president a full and intelligent choice about executive privilege,” Sessions said. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., took a different view, telling the attorney general, “You’re impeding this investigation.”
  • Sessions felt that he could not speak about anything that could conceivably fall under executive privilege in the future, whether or not that privilege had actually been invoked.
    • As a reminder, Article II of the Constitution charges the president — and no one else — with the duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”
    • All Article II says about the rest of the executive branch is that “The President…may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices…he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint…officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.”
    • It says nothing about an attorney general or a Department of Justice, both of which were created by Congress to help presidents carry out this core constitutional duty under the control of the president, including the role of providing the president with their “opinion, in writing”.
    • For the first 70 years under the Constitution, that was the chief role of the Attorney General: to advise the president about legal matters, sometimes confidentially, sometimes by formal written opinions that were intended to be part of the public record.
    • As the Justice Department grew in the years after the Civil War, the AG became more consumed with running the Justice Department, and eventually the role of confidential legal advisor to the president was mainly taken up in practice by the White House Counsel, and the role of providing written legal opinions to the executive branch was housed in the Office of Legal Counsel within DOJ. But nothing in the law prevented the AG from being called to advise the president in confidence, and presidents have continued to do so from time to time.
  • Sessions corroborated that the meeting between Trump and Comey had taken place, and that Comey approached him the following day with concerns. “I do recall being one of the last ones to leave,” Sessions said. “Did you decide to be one of the last to leave?” asked Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. “I don’t know how that occurred,” Sessions replied.
  • He did differ from Comey on two points. In Sessions’s version of events, it was Comey’s job, not Trump’s, to make sure that their conversations did not stray into active investigations.
  • Sessions denied remaining silent when Comey brought up his concerns about being left alone with the president. Instead, Sessions said, he told Comey that the FBI and Justice Department “needed to be careful” about following their own guidelines.
  • Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein declined to describe the scope of Sessions’s recusal Tuesday at his testimony before the Committee, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation:
    • “In matters in which he’s recused, I’m the attorney general, and therefore I know what we’re investigating — he does not,” Rosenstein said. “He actually does not know what we’re investigating and I’m not going to be talking about it publicly.”
    • The deputy attorney general also testified that he and the president have not discussed the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the Russia investigation.
    • He shot down reports of any involvement, on his part, of reported plans to remove Mueller from his post. “There is no secret plan that involves me,” he said.
    • Rosenstein was peppered with questions about the Russia investigation. In May, Rosenstein defended a memo he signed laying out his criticisms of Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and, in doing so, noted that he had discussed with Sessions his negative view of Comey’s behavior last winter.
    • He repeated the claim on Tuesday. Yet while Rosenstein declined to say who directed him to write the document, Sessions, hours later, testified that the president requested assessments on Comey’s fitness to lead the FBI from both men.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for his part, said he hadn’t discussed removing Mueller with anyone. “I have known Mr. Mueller over the years and he served 12 years as FBI director. I knew him before that. I have confidence in Mr. Mueller,” Sessions said. “I know nothing about the investigation. I fully recuse myself.”
  • According to NBC, the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats will go back before the Senate Intelligence Committee tomorrow to answer questions in a closed session.  This new hearing comes after Coats testified before the same committee in an open session last week but refused to discuss direct conversations with the President in a public session.
  • As we pointed out last week, Intel Committee Vice Chair Mark Warner didn’t get the response he had hoped for when he asked DNI Director Coats and National Security Agency Director Admiral Mike Rogers whether they had ever been pressured by the Trump administration to downplay the Russian investigation.
  • The Special Prosecutor Mueller led Investigation team is setting up interviews with the nation’s top intelligence officials to find out whether Trump had asked them to try to persuade Comey to drop the FBI’s probe into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, according to the Post. The New York Times, meanwhile, reported Tuesday night that Mueller was also looking into possible money laundering by Trump campaign staffers and associates.
  • The fact that Mueller’s team can conduct such a broad probe — one apparently looking into every possible angle of the Trump-Russia scandal, from possible financial crimes to outright collusion with the Kremlin — is a reflection of just how much legal firepower he has assembled.
  • Former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s All Star Legal Team:
    • Michael Dreeben, an expert on criminal law who has argued more than 100 cases in front of the Supreme Court
    • Andrew Weissmann, a seasoned prosecutor who’s spent his career going after organized crime
    • James Quarles, a former assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate investigation
    • Jeannie Rhee, a former senior adviser to former Attorney General Eric Holder and a white-collar crime specialist
    • Aaron Zebley, a cybersecurity expert who spent decades in the FBI before joining a private practice
  • Trump’s team, by contrast, is led by Marc Kasowitz, a Wall Street lawyer with minimal experience in federal investigations:
    • Kasowitz, who will lead Trump’s defense and brags of being the toughest lawyer on Wall Street, has a longstanding relationship with the president.
    • He defended Trump in various high-profile cases, including the 2016 class-action lawsuits against Trump University for fraud and the 2006 defamation suit against biographer Timothy O’Brien for allegedly misrepresenting the real estate mogul’s net worth. The suit was later thrown out by a judge in New Jersey in 2009.
    • But even though Kasowitz has experience working with Trump, he doesn’t have an extensive background dealing with politically charged investigations like this one or navigating official Washington.
    • His top two partners so far, Michael Bowe and Jay Sekulow, are known more for their time on TV than their time in the courtroom, and don’t have anywhere near the background Mueller’s team boasts to take on this challenge.
    • There are two key team Trump players besides Kasowitz: Michael Bowe, a partner from Kasowitz’s law firm, and Jay Sekulow, a chief counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a conservative, Christian-based social organization.
    • Bowe’s experience is in commercial and corporate litigation. The two lawyers have spent their careers building reputations on Wall Street, but it’s not clear how their prowess there will hold up during the Russia and obstruction case.
    • Sekulow, the ACLJ’s chief counsel, has slightly more relevant experience. He argued 12 cases in front of the Supreme Court, including hearings on abortion rights and religious freedom. It’s an impressive tally, but doesn’t compare with Dreeben, who has argued more than 100 cases in front of the country’s highest court.
    • It’s also not looking like Kasowitz’s team is going to get much stronger anytime soon. Prominent lawyers with investigative experience at four major law firms declined to represent the president, citing concerns about Kasowitz’s leadership and influence over Trump.
    • These lawyers include Brendan Sullivan of Williams & Connolly, a white-collar specialist who is consistently named as one of the top 100 trial lawyers in the country, and Ted Olson of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, who was the solicitor general under George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004.
    • At least so far, Mueller’s team has a clear advantage. This edge will be important when Mueller squares off with Kasowitz over the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Moscow, undisclosed meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, financial ties to Russia, and the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

  • Tucker Carlson segment going off on the Deep State
  • According to anonymous sources, the Washington Post is reporting a new revelation marking a “major turning point” in the Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump administration and whether he obstructed justice in interactions with former FBI Director James Comey. Mueller’s investigation will get underway with interviews of numerous “senior intelligence officials” as early as this week. Text from WaPo’s story:
  • “The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

    The move by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s own conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

    Five people briefed on the requests, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, said Daniel Coats, the current director of national intelligence, Adm. Mike Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, and Rogers’ recently departed deputy, Richard Ledgett, agreed to be interviewed by Mueller’s investigators as early as this week. The investigation has been cloaked in secrecy and it’s unclear how many others have been questioned by the FBI.”
  • To summarize, for anyone who has managed to ignore all the mass hysteria of the past 6 months, the intelligence community basically forced Trump’s hand by slowly leaking out damaging innuendos and accusations over the past several months, all while refusing to confirm that he, himself, was never actually under investigation.
  • In the end, those damaging leaks, combined with Comey’s refusal to confirm publicly that Trump was not under investigation, resulted in Comey’s sudden dismissal on May 9th.  And now, even though he was never a target of any investigation, leaks from the intelligence community have forced a situation where Trump may be under investigation by the intelligence community, a rather confounding, if perhaps well-orchestrated, outcome.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee is launching a wide-ranging probe into the circumstances behind James Comey’s firing as FBI director, as well as any attempts to influence FBI investigations under the Obama administration.
  • In the letter, Grassley also stressed that the committee is obligated to look into the Justice Department’s handling last year of the probe surrounding Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail use, citing Comey’s testimony last week that he was concerned DOJ “could not credibly complete the investigation and decline prosecution without grievous damage to the American people’s confidence in the justice system.”
  • Grassley and Feinstein met late Tuesday to discuss the Russia matter following testimony from Attorney General Jeff Sessions before the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to a Grassley spokesman. The Judiciary Committee has oversight of the Justice Department and the FBI.

Marshall Fritz Library: The Ransberger Pivot – How to get hostile questioners to have an open mind

The Ransberger Pivot: How to get hostile questioners to have an open mind by Marshall Fritz. Recorded in 1988.

Copyright 1988, 1997, Advocates for Self-Government. Permission is granted to make gift copies of the work so long as this copyright message and attribution remain intact.

President Donald Trump Joint Press Conference With The President of Romania Klaus Johannis

President Donald Trump Joint Press Conference With The President of Romania Klaus Johannis

President Trump’s Lawyer Responds to the James Comey Testimony Hearing

President Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz RESPONDS to the James Comey Testimony.

Full Testimony of James Comey Congressional Hearing Before Congress

NYT: James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, testifies before Congress and is expected to discuss his meetings and phone calls with President Trump leading up to his dismissal.

212: Comey Testimony, Qatar Diplomatic Crisis

Chris Spangle, Greg Lenz, Harry Price, Jeremiah Morrell, and Cat Anagnos recap the pool party (the first 60 minutes) and then review the Comey testimony and the Qatar Diplomatic Crisis. This episode is brought to you by Eight One Two Farms and MartinArmory.com.

211: Rob Kendall Apologizes, ISIS, Russian Hacking, Voting Systems

Chris Spangle and Greg Lenz welcome an apologetic Rob Kendall back to We Are Libertarians. What grade does the WAL Empire’s favorite Trump supporter give the President’s performance? How do we combat ISIS? Are our voting systems secure? Can Spangle ever be on time? We answer all of these questions. We have also included Rob’s interviews with Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson and Congressman Todd Rokita on voting. This episode is brought to you by Eight One Two Farms and MartinArmory.com.

Advocates Library: From Mystery to Mastery: Key Tools, Skills and Strategies

From the Advocates for Self-Government Library: Marshall Fritz and Michael Cloud present From Mystery to Mastery: Key Tools, Skills and Strategies.

Copyright 1995, 2001, Advocates for Self-Government. Permission is granted to make gift copies of the work so long as this copyright message and attribution remain intact.

210: Supreme Court Provocation Ruling and No Whites Allowed on Campus

Chris Spangle, Creighton Harrington, Greg Lenz, Matt Wittlief, Cat Anagnos, and Lisa Crosby discuss the recent Supreme Court provocation ruling and the Evergreen State protest over whites being asked not to attend class.

209: Confirmation Obama Spied on Americans

Chris Spangle, Greg Lenz, Harry Price, and Cat Anagnos discuss the FISA court’s spanking of the Obama administration’s illegal spying on Americans.

Show Notes

Obama Intel Agency Secretly Conducted Illegal Searches on Americans for Years

Summary: “To summarize, we have the communications of Americans inside the United States being incidentally intercepted, stored, sifted through, and in some instances analyzed, even though those Americans are not targets of foreign-intelligence collection.

The minimization procedures are supposed to prevent the worst potential abuses, particularly, the pretextual use of foreign-intelligence-collection authority in order to conduct domestic spying.

But even when complied with, there is a colorable argument that the minimization procedures do not eliminate the Fourth Amendment problem — i.e., they permit seizure and search without adequate cause. Now we know the minimization procedures have not been complied with.

The new scandal involves their flouting.”

While the activities of these Americans might have made them worthy foreign-intelligence targets, there are other ways to monitor them under FISA. Targeting them for section 702 searches increased the likelihood that wholly domestic communications between Americans would be collected. Thus, the minimization procedures were ratcheted up. The most significant change, as the FISA court opinion relates, was that the revised “Procedures categorically prohibited NSA analysts from using U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collection” (emphasis added). This meant the NSA was not supposed to use an American’s phone number, e-mail address, or other “identifier” in running searches through its upstream database. It is this prohibition that the NSA routinely and extensively violated. Evidently, there was widespread use of American identifiers throughout the years after the 2011 revision of the minimization procedures. The violation was so broad that, at the time the Obama administration ended, its scope had still not been determined.

Clearly, this new scandal must be considered in context:

  • The NSA says it does not share raw upstream collection data with any other intelligence agency. But that data is refined into reports.
  • To the extent the data collected has increased the number of Americans whose activities make it into reports, it has simultaneously increased the opportunities for unmasking American identities.
  • Other reporting indicates that there was a significant uptick in unmasking incidents in the latter years of the Obama administration. More officials were given unmasking authority.
  • At the same time, President Obama loosened restrictions to allow wider access to raw intelligence collection and wider dissemination of intelligence reports.
  • This geometrically increased the likelihood that classified information would be leaked — as did the Obama administration’s encouragement to Congress to demand disclosure of intelligence related to the Trump campaign (the purported Trump–Russia connection).
  • And of course, there has been a stunning amount of leaking of classified information to the media.
  • Enabling of domestic spying, contemptuous disregard of court-ordered minimization procedures (procedures the Obama administration itself proposed, then violated), and unlawful disclosure of classified intelligence to feed a media campaign against political adversaries. Quite the Obama legacy.

NATIONAL REVIEW ANDREW MCCARTHY: During the Obama years, the National Security Agency intentionally and routinely intercepted and reviewed communications of American citizens in violation of the Constitution and of court-ordered guidelines implemented pursuant to federal law.

The unlawful surveillance appears to have been a massive abuse of the government’s foreign-intelligence-collection authority, carried out for the purpose of monitoring the communications of Americans in the United States.

While aware that it was going on for an extensive period of time, the administration failed to disclose its unlawful surveillance of Americans until late October 2016, when the administration was winding down and the NSA needed to meet a court deadline in order to renew various surveillance authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The administration’s stonewalling about the scope of the violation induced an exasperated Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to accuse the NSA of “an institutional lack of candor” in connection with what the court described as “a very serious Fourth Amendment issue.”

The court is the federal tribunal created in 1978 by FISA; it is often referred to as a “secret court” because proceedings before it are classified and ex parte — meaning only the Justice Department appears before the court

upstream collection refers to the interception of communications “as they transit the facilities of an Internet backbone carrier.” These are the data routes between computer networks. The routes are hosted by government, academic, commercial, and similar high-capacity network centers, and they facilitate the global, international exchange of Internet traffic.

Upstream collection from the Internet’s “backbone,” which accounts for about 9 percent of the NSA’s collection haul (a massive amount of communications), is distinguished from interception of communications from more familiar Internet service providers.

Upstream collection is a tool for gathering intelligence against foreign threats to the United States. It is, of course, on foreign intelligence targets — non-U.S. persons situated outside the U.S. — that the NSA and CIA are supposed to focus.

Foreign agents operating inside the U.S. are mainly the purview of the FBI, which conducts surveillance of their communications through warrants from the FISA court — individualized warrants based on probable cause that a specific person is acting as an agent of a foreign power.

The NSA conducts vacuum intelligence-collection under a different section of FISA — section 702. It is inevitable that these section 702 surveillance authorities will incidentally intercept the communications of Americans inside the United States if those Americans are communicating with the foreign target. This does not raise serious Fourth Amendment concerns; after all, non-targeted Americans are intercepted all the time in traditional criminal wiretaps because they call, or are called by, the target.

But FISA surveillance is more controversial than criminal surveillance because the government does not have to show probable cause of a crime — and when the targets are foreigners outside the U.S., the government does not have to make any showing; it may target if it has a legitimate foreign-intelligence purpose, which is really not much of a hurdle at all.

FISA section 702 provides some privacy protection for Americans: The FISA court orders “minimization” procedures, which require any incidentally intercepted American’s identity to be “masked.” That is, the NSA must sanitize the raw data by concealing the identity of the American. Only the “masked” version of the communication is provided to other U.S. intelligence agencies for purposes of generating reports and analyses. As I have previously explained, however, this system relies on the good faith of government officials in respecting privacy: There are gaping loopholes that permit American identities to be unmasked if, for example, the NSA or some other intelligence official decides doing so is necessary to understand the intelligence value of the communication. While that kind of incidental collection raises the concerns of privacy advocates, it is a small problem compared to upstream collection, the technology of which poses profound Fourth Amendment challenges.

In a nutshell, it is not possible to capture a single e-mail related to a single target as it transits the backbone routes (or “switches”) that connect networks. The NSA must instead capture packets of e-mail data — which include lots of e-mails beside the targeted e-mail.

It sifts through these packets, finds and assembles the components of the email it was looking for, and then discards the rest. (A New York Times report by Charlie Savage earlier this week, in connection with a different FISA issue, provides a good explanation of this process.

By contrast, the relevant discussion in the FISA court opinion of “multiple communications transactions,” or MCTs, is brief and heavily redacted — see the opinion at 15–16.) Even if the NSA does exactly what it is supposed to do (i.e., sift and discard), this means American communications are being seized and subjected to an inspection — however cursory — in the absence of any warrant, probable cause, or foreign-intelligence relevance.

Now, couple this problem with the way the NSA targets. The upstream communications it collects end up in databases. When the NSA has a target about whom it seeks intelligence, it runs a search through the databases using what is variously called an “identifier,” a “selection term,” or a “selector” — some e-mail address, phone number, or other identifying information related to the target. For years, U.S. intelligence agencies have not just sought any communications to or from this target; they have also sought any communications about this target — e.g., when the target merely appears to have been referred to.

This means the communications of people, including Americans inside the United States, are far more likely to be accessed and analyzed — even though, again, there is no warrant or probable cause, there may be no direct communication with a proper intelligence target, and the Americans’ communications may be of no foreign-intelligence value.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/447973/nsa-illegal-surveillance-americans-obama-administration-abuse-fisa-court-response

  • Circa News Original Reporter:
    • The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.
    • More than 5 percent, or one out of every 20 searches seeking upstream Internet data on Americans inside the NSA’s so-called Section 702 database violated the safeguards Obama and his intelligence chiefs vowed to follow in 2011, according to one classified internal report reviewed by Circa.
    • The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.
    • The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26, 2017. (The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans.)
    • Circa has reported that there was a three-fold increase in NSA data searches about Americans and a rise in the unmasking of U.S. person’s identities in intelligence reports after Obama loosened the privacy rules in 2011.
    • Officials like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice have argued their activities were legal under the so-called minimization rule changes Obama made, and that the intelligence agencies were strictly monitored to avoid abuses.
    • The intelligence court and the NSA’s own internal watchdog found that not to be true:

“Since 2011, NSA’s minimization procedures have prohibited use of U.S.-person identifiers to query the results of upstream Internet collections under Section 702,” the unsealed court ruling declared.

“The Oct. 26, 2016 notice informed the court that NSA analysts had been conducting such queries inviolation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed to the Court.”

    • The American Civil Liberties Union said the newly disclosed violations are some of the most serious to ever be documented and strongly call into question the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to police itself and safeguard American’s privacy as guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.

      “I think what this emphasizes is the shocking lack of oversight of these programs,” said Neema Singh Guliani, the ACLU’s legislative counsel in Washington.


  • The NSA acknowledged it self-disclosed the mass violations to the court last fall and that in April it took the extraordinary step of suspending the type of searches that were violating the rules, even deleting prior collected data on Americans to avoid any further violations.“NSA will no longer collect certain internet communications that merely mention a foreign intelligence target,” the agency said in the statement that was dated April 28 and placed on its Web site without capturing much media or congressional attention.



  • In question is the collection of what is known as upstream “about data”about an American that is collected even though they were not directly in contact with a foreigner that the NSA was legally allowed to intercept.The NSA said it doesn’t have the ability to stop collecting ‘about’ information on Americans, “without losing some other important data. ” It, however, said it would stop the practice to “reduce the chance that it would acquire communication of U.S. persons or others who are not in direct contact with a foreign intelligence target.”



  • The NSA said it also plans to “delete the vast majority of its upstream internet data to further protect the privacy of U.S. person communications.”Agency officials called the violations “inadvertent compliance lapses.” But the court and IG documents suggest the NSA had not developed a technological way to comply with the rules they had submitted to the court in 2011.


    • Officials “explained that NSA query compliance is largely maintained through a series of manual checks” and had not “included the proper limiters” to prevent unlawful searches, the NSA internal watchdog reported in a top secret report in January that was just declassified. A new system is being developed now, officials said.
    • The NSA conducts thousand of searches a year on data involving Americans and the actual numbers of violations were redacted from the documents Circa reviewed.
    • But a chart in the report showed there three types of violations, the most frequent being 5.2 percent of the time when NSA Section 702 upstream data on U.S. persons was searched.
    • The inspector general also found  noncompliance between 0.7 percent and 1.4 percent of the time involving NSA activities in which there was a court order to target an American for spying  but the rules were still not followed. Those activities are known as Section 704 and Section 705 spying.
    • The IG report spared few words for the NSA’s efforts before the disclosure to ensure it was complying with practices, some that date to rules issued in 2008 in the final days of the Bush administration and others that Obama put into effect in 2011.

      “We found that the Agency controls for monitoring query compliance have not been completely developed,” the inspector general reported, citing problems ranging from missing requirements for documentation to the failure to complete controls that would ensure “query compliance.”

      The NSA’s Signal Intelligence Directorate, the nation’s main foreign surveillance arm, wrote a letter back to the IG saying it agreed with the findings and that “corrective action plans” are in the works.

“More than one in 20 internet searches conducted by the National Security Agency, involving Americans, during the Obama administration violated constitutional privacy protections,” announced Fox News’ Bret Baier near the top of Special Report. “And that practice went on for years. Not only that. But the Obama administration was harshly rebuked by the FISA court for doing it.”