Revenge of the Deep State
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

Last week, The Wall Street Journal revealed that members of the intelligence community — part of the deep state, the unseen government within the government that does not change with elections — now have acquired so much data on everyone in America that they can selectively reveal it to reward their friends and harm their foes. Their principal foe today is the president of the United States.

Liberty is rarely lost overnight. The wall of tyranny often begins with benign building blocks of safety — each one lying on top of a predecessor — eventually collectively constituting an impediment to the exercise of free choices by free people, often not even recognized until it is too late.

Here is the back story.

In the pre-Revolutionary era, British courts in London secretly issued general warrants to British government agents in America. The warrants were not based on any probable cause of crime or individual articulable suspicion; they did not name the person or thing to be seized or identify the place to be searched. They authorized agents to search where they wished and seize what they found.

The use of general warrants was so offensive to our Colonial ancestors that it whipped up more serious opposition to British rule and support for the revolutionaries than the “no taxation without representation” argument did. And when it came time for Americans to write the Constitution, they prohibited general warrants in the Fourth Amendment, the whole purpose of which was to guarantee the right to be left alone by forcing the government to focus on bad guys and prohibit it from engaging in fishing expeditions. But the fishing expeditions would come.

In 1978, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which was intended to rein in the government spying on Americans that had been unleashed by the Nixon administration. FISA established a secret court and permitted it to issue warrants authorizing spying on agents of foreign governments when physically present in the United States.

People born in foreign countries who are here for benevolent or benign or even evil purposes have the same constitutional protections as those of us born here. That’s because the critical parts of the Constitution that insulate human freedom from the government’s reach protect “persons,” not just citizens. But FISA ignored that.

And FISA was easy for the government to justify. It was a pullback from Richard Nixon’s lawlessness. It required the feds to seek a warrant from federal judges. The targets were not Americans. Never mind, the argument went, that FISA has no requirement of showing any probable cause of crime or even articulable suspicion on the part of the foreign target; this will keep us safe. Besides, the government insisted, it can’t be used against Americans.

That argument was bought by presidents, members of Congress and nearly all federal courts that examined it. We don’t know whether the authors of this scheme really wanted federal spies to be able to spy on anyone at will, but that is where we are today. Through secret courts whose judges cannot keep records of their own decisions and secret permissions by select committees of Congress whose members cannot tell their constituents or other members of Congress what they have learned in secret, FISA has morphed so as to authorize spying down a slippery slope of targets, from foreign agents to all foreigners to anyone who communicates with foreigners to anyone capable of communicating with them.

The surveillance state regime today permits America’s 60,000 military and civilian domestic spies to access in real time all the landline and mobile telephone calls and all the desktop and mobile device keystrokes and all the digital data created and used by anyone in the United States. The targets today are not just ordinary Americans; they are justices on the Supreme Court, military brass in the Pentagon, agents in the FBI, local police in cities and towns, and the man in the Oval Office.

The British system that arguably impelled our secession in 1776 is now here on steroids.

Enter the outsider as president. Donald Trump has condemned the spying and leaking, as he is a victim of it. While he was president-elect, the spies told him they knew of his alleged misbehaviors — vehemently denied — in a Moscow hotel room. Last week, his White House staff was shaken by what the spies did with what they learned from a former Trump aide.

Trump’s former national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, himself a former military spy, spoke to the Russian ambassador to the United States in December via telephone in Trump Tower. It was a benign conversation. He knew it was being monitored, as he is a former monitor of such communications. But he mistakenly thought that those who were monitoring him were patriots as he is. They were not.

They violated federal law by revealing in part what Flynn had said, and they did so in a manner to embarrass and infuriate Trump.

Why would they do this? Perhaps because they feared Flynn’s being in the White House, since he knows the power and depth of the deep state. Perhaps to send a message to Trump because he once compared American spies to Nazis. Perhaps because they believe that their judgment of the foreign dangers America faces is superior to the president’s. Perhaps because they hate and fear the outsider in the White House.

The chickens have come home to roost. In our misguided efforts to keep the country safe, we have neglected to keep it free. We have enabled a deep state to become powerful enough to control a powerful president. We have placed so much data and so much power in the hands of unelected, unaccountable, opaque spies that they can use it as they see fit — even to the point of committing federal felonies. Now some have boasted that they can manipulate and thus control the president of the United States by selectively revealing and concealing what they know about anyone, including the president himself.

This is a perilous state of affairs, brought about by the maniacal passion for surveillance spawned under George W. Bush and perfected under Barack Obama — all with utter indifference to the widespread constitutional violations and permanent destruction of personal liberties.

This is not the government the Framers gave us. But it is one far more dangerous to human freedom than the one from which they seceded in 1776.

COPYRIGHT 2017 ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO | DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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2019-04-09 13:15:00

Once, Microsoft had zero lobbyists. The company focused on innovating.

“Microsoft in the early 1990s was the largest company in the world. Incredibly successful … They had no presence in Washington, D.C. Not a single lawyer,” Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute tells John Stossel.

But things changed.

Brook explains how Microsoft’s CEO was “literally brought in front of Congress … Orrin Hatch from Utah … said, ‘You guys need to get involved here in Washington, D.C. You need to build a building here. You need to hire lawyers here.'”

Microsoft, courageously, didn’t. Instead, Brook recounts, “Microsoft walked out of the meeting and said, ‘You know what? You leave us alone, we will leave you alone … We’re busy. We’re running the biggest company in the world. There’s a lot to do.'”

But soon after that, Attorney General Janet Reno announced that the Justice Department was charging Microsoft with “engaging in anti-competitive and exclusionary practices designed to maintain its monopoly.”

Brook says the government was essentially saying, “we’re here to prosecute yo u because you’re offering the American public … a product for free. This is Internet Explorer, at a time when we were buying Netscape and paying money for it—they offered it for free, and that was deemed bad business practice.”

“For 10 years they had to fight that lawsuit,” he adds. “They lost, they got regulated, they got controlled. Guess how much Microsoft spends today in Washington, D.C.? … Tens of millions of dollars.”

Stossel calls that “sad.”

Now, even worse, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg asks government for more regulation. He wants Congress to “require companies to build systems for keeping harmful content to a bare minimum”.

Wouldn’t that violate the First Amendment?

Stossel says it also, conveniently, would protect Facebook from competitors who don’t restrict content. It also makes it harder for them to innovate in ways that might challenge Facebook.

Stossel and Brook’s solution? Smaller government: separation of economy and state.

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MUH LEAKS
Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Last week, President Donald Trump erupted with fury over a series of public revelations of private facts — some top-secret and some office gossip — that painted him and his White House in a bad light. The president ordered the FBI to investigate some of these so-called leaks and his own White House counsel to investigate others.

There are numerous issues related to the leaking of government information. They include the leaking of classified information, the leaking of confidential communications and the publishing of leaked material.

Here is the back story.

It is a felony to reveal classified information to any person who lacks a classified clearance, as some in the intelligence community have recently done to embarrass, control, intimidate or infuriate the president. The National Security Agency employs over 60,000 domestic spies, but they work in compartmentalized areas. Thus, not all of them have access to all the data collected by all of their colleagues. Only about 100 spies have access to the top-secret data that was leaked about the president.

When members of the intelligence community leaked lurid allegations about the future president’s alleged behavior in a Moscow hotel room, which he has vehemently denied, and when some leaked the partial transcripts of telephone conversations between retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the U.S. — shortly before Flynn became the president’s national security adviser — and when some leaked an intelligence report that contradicted the president’s publicly stated conclusions on the likelihood of dangerous people immigrating to the U.S. from the seven predominately Muslim countries named in the president’s now enjoined temporary travel ban, one can understand the presidential anger.

And leaks are a two-sided coin. Adding to Trump’s woes caused by too much revealing is the other side of that coin — too much concealing. This comes into play when one has a duty to reveal. That duty arises from the legal obligation of spies to pass on to their superiors — and ultimately to the president — all of the material information they have acquired about America’s friends and enemies.

Selectively concealing and revealing this type of intelligence data, thereby manipulating the presidential judgment, when one has a duty to reveal substantially all of it is a form of interference with a governmental function — namely, the president’s exercise of his judgment — and that is a felony.

As if all this were not enough for a young presidency to deal with, Trump finds himself with a White House staff leaking to the press Oval Office gossip about confidential conversations from within the White House that the participants in those conversations had every reason to believe would not be made public. This resulted in the temporary seizure of government-issued cellphones held by a dozen or so staffers so their bosses could learn whether any had spoken to the press. The cellphones episode was itself leaked, apparently by a participant not happy with it.

What’s going on here?

These events are either the growing pains of a new presidential administration, still partially staffed by those loyal to former President Barack Obama, or the product of sinister forces from people attempting to exercise their own judgment about America’s foes by frustrating and manipulating the judgment of the president — whom the voters elected to exercise the constitutional powers to make those judgment calls. The latter situation would be perilous, as it would mean we have unelected, unaccountable, and unnamed people pulling the levers of power in the field of national security.

The leaks of confidential communications from within the White House may be a pain in the neck for the president, but they are not criminal. And generally, a boss can look at an employee’s cellphone, as long as the employer of the boss and the employee owns the phone — except when the employer is the government. The Fourth Amendment insulates government employees from governmental reach into its employees’ cellphones. Absent an employee’s waiving his Fourth Amendment rights, the government may not seize work-related (governmental) or personal phones without a search warrant.

Can the media publish these leaks?

In a word, yes. The media may publish anything that is of material interest to the public, notwithstanding its level of secrecy or how it was acquired. The First Amendment — which the courts have construed to treat the media as the eyes and ears of the public — protects absolutely the publication by the media of leaked data, whether gossip or top-secret, that the public wants to hear.

The courts have also ruled that everything about the president is of material public interest — meaning no criminal or civil action can be taken against the media for the publication of any leaked materials that reflect on the president as a person or as a government official. When The New York Times published a probably stolen copy of Trump’s tax returns, it did so with impunity.

One can see why Trump rails against the press. Yet he has taken an oath to preserve, protect and defend the very constitutional principles that protect and liberate a free press from the anger of the government, no matter how well-grounded that anger may be. One of his predecessors who was savaged by the press, Thomas Jefferson, wrote that accountability and transparency in government are of such overriding value that he’d prefer newspapers without a government to a government without newspapers.

COPYRIGHT 2017 ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO | DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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2019-04-10 04:01:00

Please, regulate me!

That was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s message to Congress recently.

“Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and frankly I agree,” he wrote in an op-ed. “(W)e shouldn’t make so many important decisions…on our own.”

It sounds so self-sacrificing.

But give me a break. Big companies use regulation to their advantage.

His smaller competitors can’t afford the squads of “compliance officers” that Facebook employs.

“You, as a company, welcome regulation?” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked Zuckerberg during a congressional hearing.

“If it’s the right regulation, then yes,” replied the CEO.

“Would you work with us in terms of what regulations you think are necessary in your industry?”

“Absolutely,” replied Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg’s no dope. He sees which way the wind is blowing. He issued his plea to be regulated after receiving months of criticism from politicians.

If he cooperates early and enthusiastically, Facebook is likely to get to work with the regulators to shape the rules.

This is sad for two reasons.

One, the First Amendment says Congress “shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” I’d think Zuckerberg would know that, but no, he called for government to “require companies to build systems for keeping harmful content to a bare minimum.”

Currently, his own website is a wonderful forum for all kinds of useful speech. There’s hateful speech, too, but it’s the private company’s job to decide whether to police that, not government’s.

The second reason Facebook working with regulators is sad is that if anyone should fight for permissionless, unregulated innovation, it should be people like Mark Zuckerberg.

It’s no accident that the amazing wealth creation that brought us Facebook, Google, Instagram, Microsoft, Amazon, etc., happened in the two big metropolitan areas farthest from Washington, D.C.

As Yaron Brook, chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute, says: “Microsoft in the early 1990s was the largest company in the world, incredibly successful. They spent exactly zero dollars on lobbying, on cronyism, on lawyers. They had no presence in Washington, D.C.—not a single lawyer, not a single building.”

Instead of investing in lawyers and lobbyists, Microsoft spent money on technology.

But then the sleepy codgers in Washington, D.C., noticed Microsoft’s success.

“They were literally brought in front of Congress,” recounts Brook, “yelled at by a Republican, Orrin Hatch from Utah. He said, ‘You guys need to get involved here in Washington, D.C. You need to build a building here, hire lawyers here.’… The unspoken text: ‘You need to bribe me.’”

The company didn’t immediately obey.

“Microsoft said, you know what? You leave us alone,” says Brook. “We’re busy. We’re running the biggest company in the world. There’s a lot to do!”

But that wasn’t the end of it.

“Six months later, knock on the door at Microsoft: ‘We’re from the Justice Department and we’re here to prosecute you because you’re offering…customers a product for free,’” paraphrases Brook. “Internet Explorer. At a time when (customers) were paying money for Netscape, they offered it for free.”

The government called that a violation of anti-trust law. Free services might make Microsoft too popular.

“For 10 years they had to fight that lawsuit,” says Brook. “They lost. They got regulated. They got controlled. Guess how much Microsoft spends today in Washington, D.C.? Tens of millions of dollars.”

A company that should focus on pleasing customers had to start thinking more about pleasing government.

Today, “they have a beautiful building about equal distance from the White House and from Congress. They have lawyers, lobbyists, they spend a lot of money,” says Brook, “and indeed a lot of other tech companies like Google learned the lesson.”

The lesson is that if you don’t want politicians destroying your business, you must go to Washington to give them money. Kiss their rings.

“A lot of the lobbying and so-called cronyism,” explains Brook, “is self-defense.”

Yes, Zuckerberg is acting in self-defense, but it’s still ugly. And this crony capitalism is a threat to future innovation. Entrepreneurs will learn to do things government’s way instead of heeding the market.

“If we really want to end cronyism, reduce the power of politicians over our lives,” argues Brook, correctly. “Separate economics from state.”

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Some kind of monster
RICHARD B. LEVINE/Newscom

Those of us who believe that the Constitution means what it says have been arguing since the late 1970s that congressional efforts to strengthen national security by weakening personal liberty are unconstitutional, un-American, and ineffective. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which Congress passed in the aftermath of President Richard Nixon’s use of the CIA and the FBI to spy on his political opponents, has unleashed demons that now seem beyond the government’s control and are more pervasive than anything Nixon could have dreamed of.

This realization came to a boiling point last weekend when President Donald Trump accused former President Barack Obama of monitoring his telephone calls during the 2016 presidential election campaign. Can a U.S. president legally spy on a political opponent or any other person in America without any suspicion, probable cause or warrant from a judge? In a word, yes.

Here is the back story.

The president can order the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on anyone at any time for any reason, without a warrant. This is profoundly unconstitutional but absolutely lawful because it is expressly authorized by the FISA statute.

All electronic surveillance today, whether ordered by the president or authorized by a court, is done remotely by accessing the computers of every telephone and computer service provider in the United States. The NSA has 24/7/365 access to all the mainframe computers of all the telephone and computer service providers in America.

The service providers are required by law to permit this access and are prohibited by law from complaining about it publicly, challenging it in court, or revealing any of its details. In passing these prohibitions, Congress violated the First Amendment, which prohibits it from infringing upon the freedom of speech.

The fruits of electronic surveillance cannot be used in criminal prosecutions but can be shared with the president. If they are revealed publicly, the revelation constitutes computer hacking, a federal crime. Nevertheless, some of what was overheard from telephone conversations between the Russian ambassador to the U.S. and former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, was revealed to the public — a revelation that profoundly disturbed the White House and many in the intelligence community and constituted a crime.

The original purpose of FISA was to place the judiciary as an intermediary between the nation’s spies and the foreign agents we all know are among us. The theory was that the NSA would first need to demonstrate to a secret court probable cause that the target of the spying is an agent of a foreign power and this would restrain the NSA from spying on ordinary Americans. This probable cause of foreign agency was a dramatic congressional rejection of the constitutional standard — namely, probable cause of crime — for the issuance of warrants. Foreign agency is not a crime.

This congressional rejection of constitutional norms began the slippery slope in which the foreign agency standard has morphed by legislation and by secret interpretations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to probable cause of foreign personhood to probable cause of talking to a foreign person to probable cause of being able to talk to a foreign person to — dropping the probable cause standard altogether — anyone who speaks to anyone else who could speak to a foreign person.

This Orwellian and absurd expansion was developed by spies and approved by judges on the FISA court. The NSA argued that it would be more efficient to spy on everyone in the United States than to isolate bad people, and the court bought that argument.

Hence, FISA warrants do not name particular people or places as their targets as the Constitution requires. Rather, they merely continue in place of the previous warrants, which encompass everyone in the country. FISA warrants are general warrants, allowing intelligence agents to listen to whomever they wish and retain whatever they hear. General warrants are expressly prohibited by the Fourth Amendment, which requires that all warrants for all purposes be based on probable cause of crime and particularly describe the person or thing to be seized — e.g., a conversation — or the place to be searched.

Even though the NSA already has the legal, though unconstitutional, authority to capture any phone conversation or computer keystroke it wishes, its 60,000 agents lack the resources to listen to all conversations or read all electronic communications in real time. But it does capture the digital versions of all computer keystrokes made in or to the U.S. and all conversations had within the U.S. or involving someone in the U.S.; it has been doing so since 2005. And it can download any conversation or text or email at will.

That’s why the recent argument that Obama ordered the NSA to obtain a FISA warrant for Trump’s telephone calls and a judge issued a warrant for them is nonsense. The NSA already has a digital version of every call Trump has made or received since 2005. Because the NSA — which now works for Trump — is a part of the Defense Department, it is subject to the orders of the president in his capacity as commander in chief. So if the commander in chief wants something that a military custodian already has or can create — such as a transcript of an opponent’s conversations with political strategists during a presidential campaign — why would he bother getting a warrant? He wouldn’t.

All of this leads to information overload — so much material that the communications of evil people are safely hidden within the mountain of data from the rest of us. The NSA captures the digital equivalent — if printed — of 27 times the contents of the Library of Congress every year.

All of this also leads to the monstrous power of the NSA to manipulate, torment and control the president by selectively concealing and selectively revealing data to him. The Constitution does not entrust such power to anyone in government. But Congress has given it.

All of this also substantially impairs a fundamental personal liberty, the right to be left alone — a right for which we seceded from Great Britain, a right guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment and a right for which we fought wars against tyrants who we feared would take it from us.

Yet after we won those wars, we permitted our elected representatives to crush that right. Those faithless representatives have created a monster that has now turned on us.

COPYRIGHT 2017 ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO | DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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2019-04-17 04:00:37

Are you very afraid? 3D-printed guns are coming.

“Virtually undetectable!” shrieked CNN.

“This changes the safety of Americans forever!” shrieked MSNBC.

Does it?

Six years ago, a company called Defense Distributed posted blueprints for 3D-printed guns on the web. The Obama State Department said that violated the Arms Control Act because allowing foreigners to see them is equivalent to exporting a missile launcher, and that’s illegal.

Defense Distributed withdrew the blueprints. Gun control advocates were relieved.

“We have enough guns in this country already,” Massachusetts legislator David Linsky tells me in my new video about 3D-printed guns.

But this debate is about free speech, too.

“You can’t ban lawful U.S. citizens from sharing information with other lawful U.S. citizens,” says Defense Distributed’s lawyer, Josh Blackman.

“After the Oklahoma City bombing, Congress asked the Department of Justice, ‘Can we make a law that bans putting bomb-making instruction on the internet?’ The DOJ said, ‘No, you can’t ban putting files on the internet.’”

Not even files showing how to make a nuclear weapon?

A “nuclear bomb [is] different because it’s classified information,” he said. Courts have upheld restrictions on publishing classified information.

But the web is filled with unclassified information about how to make all sorts of deadly things.

“Should The Anarchist Cookbook be banned”? I asked Linsky. It contains deadly recipes.

“There’s no reason to ban books,” he replied. “The genie is out of the bottle a long, long time ago on The Anarchist Cookbook. But this is a very different thing whereby all you have to do is download a file, press a button and a printer gives you a gun.”

It’s actually not that easy.

U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) made it sound as if anyone could make a 3D gun. “Bad people can go to Instagram and get an insta-gun!”

But that’s silly, like so much of what Markey says.

“It’s actually a very complicated process,” explains Blackman. You need technological expertise and very specific materials. “It might take a full day of printing. You have to treat the plastic with chemicals so that they’re strong enough. Even then, odds are, the gun’s pretty crappy.”

True. When my TV show tried one, it wouldn’t fire.

But the technology will improve.

It’s said that 3D guns will be “a windfall for terrorists.”

“Terrorists have access to far more dangerous weapons,” responds Blackman. “The notion that ISIS is…making these stupid little plastic guns that can fire one shot at a time strains credulity.”

But can’t plastic guns sneak past airport security?

“Bullets are made out of metal,” notes Blackman. “Plastic and rubber bullets are not very effective.”

America has a long tradition of people making their own guns, often for good reasons.

“If we had a ban on home manufacture of weapons during the time of the American Revolution, we would probably still be under the King’s rule,” cracked Blackman.

“It was a very different society,” argues Linsky. “Now we have AR-15s.”

Blackman had an answer for that: “Rights were enshrined in the Constitution for permanence…. They’re there for the long haul.”

Although Defense Distributed withdrew its blueprints, it continues to fight for the right to publish them online.

Seems kind of like a pointless fight to me, because in the short time before Defense Distributed withdrew its post, hundreds of other websites had copied it. They still host the blueprints.

Linsky hadn’t realized that. When I showed some to him, he said, “I understand that some people might think that the genie is out of the bottle, but let’s put as much of that genie back into the bottle as we possibly can.”

But we can’t put the genies back. Today, once information is out, it’s out there forever. No government can pull it back.

Nevertheless, gun control advocates and the childish media will demand that “something be done!”

CNN warned, “Tomorrow morning, the sun will be shining, the birds will be singing and anyone will be able to legally download instructions to 3D-print their own fully functional plastic gun!”

I liked Blackman’s response:

“That happened. The world’s the same,” he said. “People are just fear-mongering.”

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2019-04-10 04:01:00

Please, regulate me!

That was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s message to Congress recently.

“Lawmakers often tell me we have too much power over speech, and frankly I agree,” he wrote in an op-ed. “(W)e shouldn’t make so many important decisions…on our own.”

It sounds so self-sacrificing.

But give me a break. Big companies use regulation to their advantage.

His smaller competitors can’t afford the squads of “compliance officers” that Facebook employs.

“You, as a company, welcome regulation?” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked Zuckerberg during a congressional hearing.

“If it’s the right regulation, then yes,” replied the CEO.

“Would you work with us in terms of what regulations you think are necessary in your industry?”

“Absolutely,” replied Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg’s no dope. He sees which way the wind is blowing. He issued his plea to be regulated after receiving months of criticism from politicians.

If he cooperates early and enthusiastically, Facebook is likely to get to work with the regulators to shape the rules.

This is sad for two reasons.

One, the First Amendment says Congress “shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech.” I’d think Zuckerberg would know that, but no, he called for government to “require companies to build systems for keeping harmful content to a bare minimum.”

Currently, his own website is a wonderful forum for all kinds of useful speech. There’s hateful speech, too, but it’s the private company’s job to decide whether to police that, not government’s.

The second reason Facebook working with regulators is sad is that if anyone should fight for permissionless, unregulated innovation, it should be people like Mark Zuckerberg.

It’s no accident that the amazing wealth creation that brought us Facebook, Google, Instagram, Microsoft, Amazon, etc., happened in the two big metropolitan areas farthest from Washington, D.C.

As Yaron Brook, chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute, says: “Microsoft in the early 1990s was the largest company in the world, incredibly successful. They spent exactly zero dollars on lobbying, on cronyism, on lawyers. They had no presence in Washington, D.C.—not a single lawyer, not a single building.”

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2019-04-09 13:15:00

Once, Microsoft had zero lobbyists. The company focused on innovating.

“Microsoft in the early 1990s was the largest company in the world. Incredibly successful … They had no presence in Washington, D.C. Not a single lawyer,” Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute tells John Stossel.

But things changed.

Brook explains how Microsoft’s CEO was “literally brought in front of Congress … Orrin Hatch from Utah … said, ‘You guys need to get involved here in Washington, D.C. You need to build a building here. You need to hire lawyers here.'”

Microsoft, courageously, didn’t. Instead, Brook recounts, “Microsoft walked out of the meeting and said, ‘You know what? You leave us alone, we will leave you alone … We’re busy. We’re running the biggest company in the world. There’s a lot to do.'”

But soon after that, Attorney General Janet Reno announced that the Justice Department was charging Microsoft with “engaging in anti-competitive and exclusionary practices designed to maintain its monopoly.”

Brook says the government was essentially saying, “we’re here to prosecute yo u because you’re offering the American public … a product for free. This is Internet Explorer, at a time when we were buying Netscape and paying money for it—they offered it for free, and that was deemed bad business practice.”

“For 10 years they had to fight that lawsuit,” he adds. “They lost, they got regulated, they got controlled. Guess how much Microsoft spends today in Washington, D.C.? … Tens of millions of dollars.”

Stossel calls that “sad.”

Now, even worse, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg asks government for more regulation. He wants Congress to “require companies to build systems for keeping harmful content to a bare minimum”.

Wouldn’t that violate the First Amendment?

Stossel says it also, conveniently, would protect Facebook from competitors who don’t restrict content. It also makes it harder for them to innovate in ways that might challenge Facebook.

Stossel and Brook’s solution? Smaller government: separation of economy and state.

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2019-04-09 13:45:00

Once, Microsoft had zero lobbyists. The company focused on innovating.

“Microsoft in the early 1990s was the largest company in the world. Incredibly successful … They had no presence in Washington, D.C. Not a single lawyer,” Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute tells John Stossel.

But things changed.

Brook explains how Microsoft’s CEO was “literally brought in front of Congress … Orrin Hatch from Utah … said, ‘You guys need to get involved here in Washington, D.C. You need to build a building here. You need to hire lawyers here.'”

Microsoft, courageously, didn’t. Instead, Brook recounts, “Microsoft walked out of the meeting and said, ‘You know what? You leave us alone, we will leave you alone … We’re busy. We’re running the biggest company in the world. There’s a lot to do.'”

But soon after that, Attorney General Janet Reno announced that the Justice Department was charging Microsoft with “engaging in anti-competitive and exclusionary practices designed to maintain its monopoly.”

Brook says the government was essentially saying, “we’re here to prosecute yo u because you’re offering the American public … a product for free. This is Internet Explorer, at a time when we were buying Netscape and paying money for it—they offered it for free, and that was deemed bad business practice.”

“For 10 years they had to fight that lawsuit,” he adds. “They lost, they got regulated, they got controlled. Guess how much Microsoft spends today in Washington, D.C.? … Tens of millions of dollars.”

Stossel calls that “sad.”

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The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

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2019-04-03 04:15:00

I skipped breakfast again this morning. I won’t worry about it.

Yes, I’ve heard the advice. “It’s the most important meal of the day.” It balances blood sugar levels, kick-starts your metabolism, stimulates the brain, etc.

A Harvard University study said men who regularly skip breakfast have a 27 percent higher risk of suffering a heart attack. Twenty-seven percent!

But I’m not worried, because I now know there’s no proof that skipping breakfast causes heart attacks or any other problem.

In my latest video, nutritionist Dr. Ruth Kava points out that just about all the claims about breakfast being especially important are unproven.

Those Harvard researchers actually say it “remains unknown whether specific eating habits…influence…heart disease risk.”

Strokes and heart attack news persists in part because people who skip breakfast tend to have other bad habits, like smoking.

But the breakfast bunk keeps coming.

Several years ago, the government announced that skipping breakfast may make you fat. Of course, the media jumped on that one. “Missing breakfast tricks your brain into thinking you want higher-calorie foods,” says WebMD.

“Far from making you fat, breakfast actually helps activate your metabolism so you start burning fat,” says StepToHealth.com.

But it’s not true, shows a new analysis by the British Medical Journal.

“They looked on a number of different studies, and they did not find that eating breakfast…helped people lose weight,” says Kava.

The government has backed away from its claim.

Why did researchers and the government get it so wrong?

Partly because eating habits are hard to study. You can’t follow test subjects for years, continuously controlling what they eat.

So, many studies are based on what people (SET ITAL)say(END ITAL) they ate. Some people forget. Or lie.

Many of us have been suckered by studies funded by cereal makers. Five of 15 studies mentioned by the government in its breakfast push were funded by General Mills or Kellogg.

“Yeah, well, they’re the ones that are interested in having their products sold,” says Kava.

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