Is this America's stupidest court? Judges rule 1st Amend doesn't protect religious exercise that offends

Make the Bouquet... Or Else!


To see how little is left of one of our most important rights, the freedom of association, look no further than to today’s unanimous decision by the Washington State Supreme Court upholding a lower court’s ruling that florist Baronelle Stutzman was guilty of violating the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) when she declined, on religious grounds, to provide floral arrangements for one of her regular customer’s same-sex wedding. The lower court had found Stutzman personally liable and had awarded the plaintiffs permanent injunctive relief, actual monetary damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs.

This breathtaking part of the Supreme Court’s conclusion is worth quoting in full:
We also hold that the WLAD may be enforced against Stutzman because it does not infringe any constitutional protection. As applied in this case, the WLAD does not compel speech or association. And assuming that it substantially burdens Stutzman’s religious free exercise, the WLAD does not violate her right to religious free exercise under either the First Amendment or article I, section 11 because it is a neutral, generally applicable law that serves our state government’s compelling interest in eradicating discrimination in public accommodations.
We have here yet another striking example of how modern state statutory anti-discrimination law has come to trump a host of federal constitutional rights, including speech, association, and religious free exercise. It’s not too much to say that the Constitution’s Faustian accommodation of slavery is today consuming the Constitution itself.

Consider simply the freedom of association right. That liberty in a free society ensures the right of private parties to associate, as against third parties, and the right not to associate as well—that is, the right to discriminate for any reason, good or bad, or no reason at all. The exceptions at common law were for monopolies and common carriers. And if you held your business as “open to the public” you generally had to honor that, though you still could negotiate over services.

Slavery, of course, was a flat-out violation of freedom of association—indeed, it was the very essence of forced association. But Jim Crow was little better since it amounted to forced dis-association.  It was finally ended, legally, by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. But that Act prohibited not simply public but private discrimination as well in a range of contexts and on a range of grounds, both of which have expanded over the years. The prohibition of private discrimination may have been helpful in breaking the back of institutionalized racism in the South, but its legacy has brought us to today’s decision, where florists, bakers, caterers, and even religious organizations can be forced to participate in events that offend their religious beliefs.

Court’s haven’t yet compelled pastors to officiate at ceremonies that are inconsistent with their beliefs, but we have heard calls for eliminating the tax-exempt status of their institutions. Such is the wrath of the crowd that wants our every act to be circumscribed by law—their law, of course. And they’re prepared, as here, to force their association on unwilling parties even when there are plenty of other businesses anxious to serve them. As I concluded a Wall Street Journal piece on this subject a while ago:
No one enjoys the sting of discrimination or rejection. But neither does anyone like to be forced into uncomfortable situations, especially those that offend deeply held religious beliefs. In the end, who here is forcing whom? A society that cannot tolerate differing views—and respect the live-and-let-live principle—will not long be free.
Amen.
A version of this article was first published by The Cato Institute.
Roger Pilon
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Why are global investors putting their money in Bitcoin? This.

At New Highs, Bitcoin Is a Global Safe Haven Asset


The market cap of Bitcoin surpassed the $14 bln margin for the first time in history, breaking its all-time record high previously set in 2014. The surging value of Bitcoin led to extensive mainstream media coverage and social media attraction, with Bitcoin earning a spot on the trending section of social media platforms like Twitter.In the morning of December 22, Bitcoin crossed the $14 bln mark to establish its highest market cap to date. Additionally, Bitcoin officially recorded a 100 percent year-to-date price increase, surpassing the performance of well-performing currencies like the Russian ruble by large margins.



Mainstream media outlets including Reuters, Business Insider and CNBC immediately began to publicize Bitcoin’s most significant milestone in recent years, as Bitcoin continues to surge in value with mainstream speculation and increasing demand from dominant markers such as China.

While the price has stalled slightly since its initial surge earlier today, the price of Bitcoin reached $874 at its daily peak, surpassing a six-month high value.

An optimistic view towards Bitcoin

One of the positive aspects of Bitcoin’s price surge that occurred this week is the optimistic view from the mainstream media and high profile investors. Amid the price spike in June, investors and traders were able to pinpoint particular reasons behind the increasing value. In June, it was Brexit, which pushed Bitcoin to multi-month high trading prices.

However, this month’s performance of Bitcoin is difficult to generalize as the price of Bitcoin continued to increase amid global economic and financial instability. For instance, when the Chinese government announced its plans to crack down on wealth management products, the price of Bitcoin increased slightly. The price of Bitcoin also was on an upward trend when the Indian government demonetized certain banknotes and created a nationwide financial wreckage and panic.

Thus, as investors like Mati Greenspan, a senior market analyst at eToro and other analysts as well as mainstream media outlets state that the recent surge in the value of Bitcoin can simply be attributed to the general population treating Bitcoin as a global currency and protection asset. In other words, Bitcoin has officially become a global safe haven asset.

This piece ran on CoinTelegraph
Foundation  for Economic Education
Foundation for Economic Education
The Foundation for Economic Education, founded 1946, works for a free and prosperous world. 
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Right to Work laws are shattering union boss control over the White House


Decline of Unions Under Right-to-Work Laws Levels Playing Field for Trump


Donald Trump prevailed where other Republican presidential candidates failed in Midwestern states in part because of new right-to-work laws that have diminished the power and influence of the teachers’ unions, according to labor policy analysts.

In Michigan, the margins were even closer with Trump winning that state’s 16 electoral votes with 47.6 percent against Clinton who had 47.3 percent of the vote. Trump had 2,279,805 votes to Clinton’s 2,268,193.Final election results have Trump narrowly winning Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes by a margin of 47.9 to 46.9 percent over Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate. Trump had 1,409,467 votes to Clinton’s 1,382,210.
“Did the labor reforms enacted in Wisconsin and neighboring Michigan help Donald Trump win those states?” Matt Patterson, executive director of the Center for Worker Freedom, said in an email to The Daily Signal. “No question in my mind. Hard to fight when your bazooka’s been replaced by a squirt gun.”
Two teachers’ unions, the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the Michigan Education Association, both experienced a significant drop in membership since those states passed right-to-work legislation. Such laws prohibit employers from entering into agreements that make union membership and payment of union dues a condition of employment.
Wisconsin became a right-to-work state in 2015, Michigan in 2013. Since then, government figures show, the teachers’ unions in both states have lost thousands of dues-paying members.
The drop has been particularly precipitous in Wisconsin, where in 2011 Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation that reformed the state’s collective bargaining process. In fact, the Wisconsin Education Association Council has lost about 60 percent of its members since Walker’s reforms were implemented, an analysis of public records by the Education Intelligence Agency shows.
Under Act 10, also known as the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, most of Wisconsin’s government workers, including public school teachers, are now required to contribute more for their pension and health care benefits.
Act 10 also limits collective bargaining to wage negotiations, requires annual union recertification, ends the automatic deduction of union dues, and allows for public sector employees to decide whether they want to join a union and pay dues.
Wisconsin’s right-to-work law gives private sector employees the same right to decline union membership and payment of dues.
Diminished Union Clout
The Wisconsin Education Association Council had about 100,000 members before Act 10 passed; the latest figures show the union with 36,074. The decline reflects what has happened nationwide, the MacIver Institute for Public Policy, a free-market think tank in Wisconsin, reported.
The Wisconsin and Michigan unions are both affiliates of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest union for workers in public schools.
The 3 million-strong NEA lost more than 300,000 members in affiliated state teachers’ unions from 2010 to 2015, according to the analysis by the Education Intelligence Agency cited by the MacIver Institute. That’s a membership decrease of 10 percent.

So what is the political fallout?
“There’s no doubt that with the decline in union membership here in Wisconsin, the political clout of the union bosses and their ability to automatically turn out members for Democrats has declined dramatically,” Brett Healy, president of the MacIver Institute, told The Daily Signal, adding:
When we look at the decline in union membership and compare it to the recent political fortunes of the Democratic Party, you can clearly see that when people are given the ability to choose whether or not they want to join a union we are seeing less people voting for Democrats.
After the Wisconsin Education Association Council’s loss of tens of thousands of paying members, it has become evident that the teachers’ union’s ability to influence the outcomes of elections and public policy decisions has waned in the past few years, Healy added.
“The Wisconsin Education Association [Council] was the single biggest political player in the capital, but after the passage of Act 10 and right-to-work, their membership, which is where they derive their political power, has declined,” he said. “A majority of teachers in Wisconsin have decided that their money is better spent in other ways rather than turning it over to union bosses.”
Trump’s Union Vote
Act 10 has been transformative not just politically, but financially.
A MacIver Institute analysis of the legislation’s budgetary impact found that it saved Wisconsin taxpayers more than $5 billion. Most of these savings were generated by requiring government employees to contribute more for their retirement, according to the analysis.
“Gov. Walker and the Republican legislature not only saved Wisconsinites an incomprehensible amount of money but they also fundamentally changed government in Wisconsin forever,” Healy said a year ago.
Trump benefited politically from right-to-work changes in Michigan just as he did in Wisconsin.
But the billionaire developer’s personal appeal with blue-collar union workers gave him an advantage other Republican candidates have not had recently, Vinnie Vernuccio, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center, a free-market think tank in Michigan, said in an interview.
“The Michigan teachers’ unions, which have led the charge politically in the state, have been weakened in recent years and that certainly helped Trump,” Vernuccio said. “But don’t underestimate the union vote for Trump in key swing states. Exit polls show he did surprisingly well.”
Among union households (where at least one person is a union member), Trump’s margins improved significantly over those of Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who was the Republican presidential nominee in 2012.
When Michigan passed its right-to-work law in 2013, the Michigan Education Association had 113,147 members, the Mackinac Center reported. By 2016, the union had 90,609 members, a decline of about 20 percent.
‘Knocked Silly’
The Daily Signal sought comment from both the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the Michigan Education Association on the right-to-work laws in their states and the impact on their membership rolls and political activism. Neither union responded.
“Unions have been knocked silly in Wisconsin, thanks to the one-two punch of Act 10 and right to work,” Patterson, of the Center for Worker Freedom, a Washington-based nonprofit affiliated with Americans for Tax Reform, told The Daily Signal:
Give people the chance to leave their union, it turns out, and lo and behold there’s a stampede for the door. And these fleeing workers take their money with them, money that unions can no longer use to buy politicians.
John Mozena, vice president of marketing and communications for the Mackinac Center, said in an email that he sees a growing separation between rank-and-file union members and union leaders that worked to Trump’s advantage:
In labor strongholds like Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, West Virginia and Missouri, union leaders have failed to turn out enough voters to create notable electoral consequences for politicians who introduced, supported, or voted for right to work or other worker freedom legislation.
That’s in part because union members have largely come to realize that these laws don’t actually hurt them or their unions. In fact, [the laws] give them as individuals more options than they had before.
Many union members also are voting against candidates that receive the lion’s share of their leaders’ support.
The contrast was most stark in the 2016 election, where almost all union leaders endorsed and used their members’ money to support Clinton. Yet in key states like Ohio, almost half of union members voted for Trump.
The only states to register significant increases in active membership in NEA-affiliated teachers’ unions over five years, according to the Education Intelligence Agency analysis, are Delaware (5 percent), Vermont (8 percent), Montana (16 percent), and North Dakota (19 percent).
Clinton won Delaware and Vermont, but Trump won Montana and North Dakota.
‘Unfortunate Situation’
After spending several months combing through the U.S. Department of Labor’s LM-2 financial disclosure forms, researchers with the Center for Union Facts found that unions directed about $530 million in membership dues to the Democratic Party and to left-leaning special interest groups from 2012 to 2015.
The Center for Union Facts is a Washington-based nonprofit that advocates transparency and accountability on the part of organized labor. Every labor organization that falls under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act must file an LM-2.
“I do believe a very unfortunate situation has developed where the unions are more focused on politics than they are on collective bargaining or workplace issues,” Richard Berman, the center’s executive director, said in an interview with The Daily Signal.Recipients of union donations identified by the Center for Union Facts include Planned Parenthood and the Democratic Governors Association. These donations fall within labor’s political advocacy budgets, which are funded by dues and “disguised as worker advocacy related to collective bargaining—separate from direct campaign contributions,” the center said in a release.
Since surveys show that about 40 percent of union households vote Republican, this means the dues of a substantial number of union members are directed toward political causes they do not support, Berman said.
But he said he sees a strong potential for the growing right-to-work movement to level the political playing field in future election cycles, as it did in 2016.
In the meantime, Berman said, the new chairman of the National Labor Relations Board should use the board’s regulatory powers “to provide enough transparency in the area of labor finances” to inform union members of leadership’s activities.

Report by The Daily Signal's Kevin Mooney (@KevinMooneyDC). Originally published at The Daily Signal.  Support The Daily Signal.

Here are the shocking numbers: Democrats elected Trump by aborting their own voters



A look at some rough numbers may show how liberals lost to Donald Trump.

It appears they literally killed their chances of winning more votes than Trump in key swing states.

---

As of Nov. 8, 2016, the population of the United States was an estimated 324,013,797. (U.S. Census Bureau, V2015)

An estimated 12.2 percent of Americans were black. (Non-Hispanic, non-immigrant, U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census)
That's an estimated black U.S. population of 39,529,683 on Nov. 8, 2016.

---

As of Nov. 8, 2016, there had been an estimated legal 59,079,987 abortions in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade in 1973. (Life Matters, per National Right to Life)

Of that, an estimated 17,723,995, or 30.0 percent, were of black children. (Life Matters, per National Right to Life)

---

Without abortion (and assuming all unaborted people were still alive), the total U.S. population on Election Day would have been somewhere around 383,093,784.

That roughly translates into a 18.23% increase in the US population.

Without abortion (and assuming all unaborted people were still alive), the total black population of the United States would be somewhere around 57,253,679.

Without abortion (and assuming all unaborted people were still alive),  there would be a 44.84% increase in the black population.

Without abortion (and assuming all unaborted people were still alive), blacks would be somewhere around 14.95 percent of the U.S. population.

---

137,098,601 Americans voted in the 2016 presidential election, out of an estimated population on Election Day 2016 of 324,013,797.  That's a turnout of 42.31 percent of the entire population.

Black voters were 12 percent of the total turnout in 2016, according to CNN and Fox News exit polls.

That means there were 16,451,832 black votes cast in 2016.

---

Without abortion (and assuming all unaborted people were still alive), a 42.31 percent turnout rate among the no-Roe U.S. population on Election Day would have been somewhere around 165,534,824.

2016 black voter share was nearly identical to 2016 black population share. Apply that estimated 14.95 percent no-Roe black population share to the no-Roe 2016 turnout, and you get 24,747,456 black voters on Election Day.

That means, thanks to legalized abortion, there were roughly 8,295,624 fewer black votes cast in 2016 and a reduction in the black share of the vote by around three percent.


What does that mean for the 2016 Electoral College results?

--

Assuming abortion rates are the same across all states, applying that estimated 18.23 total and 44.84 black percent no-Roe population increase to the Census Bureau's state-by-state total and black population figures gives you a rough idea of what each state's black and overall populations would be without abortion.

Trump won the election by 77 Electoral College votes.

There were six states in which the estimated growth in black vote share without abortion was larger than Trump's margin of victory, adding 106 Electoral College votes to his total.

All six were swing states.

Trump won Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes by only 0.73 percent.  Were it not for abortion, it appears the Pennsylvania's electorate would have been 2.43 percent more black.

Trump won Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes by only 0.77 percent.  Were it not for abortion, it appears the Wisconsin electorate would have been 1.37 percent more black.

Trump won North Carolina's 15 electoral votes by 3.66 percent.  Were it not for abortion, it appears the North Carolina electorate would have been 4.86 percent more black.

Trump won Georgia's 16 electoral votes by 5.13 percent.  Were it not for abortion, it appears the Georgia electorate would have been 7.07 percent more black.

Trump won Florida's 29 electoral votes by 1.20 percent.  Were it not for abortion, it appears the Florida electorate would have been 3.58 percent more black.

Trump won Michigan's 16 electoral votes by only 0.23 percent.  Were it not for abortion, it appears the Michigan electorate would have been 3.2 percent more black.

I'm not a mathematician, statistician or pollster.  All of these are rough numbers and estimates. But the numbers seem to show one thing.

Were it not for legalized abortion's disproportionate toll on the black community, it appears Hillary Clinton could have won the presidential election, and possibly by a crushing margin of 333 to 200.


They literally killed their chances of winning the White House.  Will they now stop the slaughter of innocents?

VIDEO: Linda McMahon swearing in as Small Business Administrator

Former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) CEO Linda McMahon is sworn in as Administrator of the Small Business Administration by Vice-President Mike Pence.



Ethanol sucks. Here's how it keep it from destroying your engine.


How Ethanol Can Impact Your Engine



(NewsUSA) - When consumers fill their tanks at the gas station, they will see signs reading "may contain 10 percent Ethanol. However, many don't know what this means or how it can affect their engine performance. Ethanol-blended fuel has become standard in the United States, and the Environmental Protection Agency recently mandated an increase in the amount of ethanol added to fuel;, meaning, it is even more important that consumers understand the pros and cons of Ethanol.


Ethanol is a biofuel distilled from corn and sugar that has many benefits, including reducing greenhouse emissions and lowering the cost of fuel at the pump.


However, ethanol-blended fuel can also have negative side effects on your car, boat and small engines, such as lawnmowers and snowblowers, over time. Some signs that ethanol is affecting your engine's performance include:


* Efficiency: Ethanol-blended fuel's lower energy efficiency may reduce fuel economy of your engine.


* Stalling: Ethanol can cause engine stalling if the water in the ethanol separates from the gasoline and floods the engine. This problem is most likely in engines that sit unused for long periods of time.


* Corrosion: Ethanol can contribute to corrosion of fuel tanks and other components, and the risk is even greater with small engines with aluminum parts.


* Clogging: Ethanol can loosen debris in the fuel line that leads to clogs.


Fortunately, there are several easy things you can do to help protect your engine from ethanol-related side effects.


Treatment: Using a non-alcohol based fuel stabilizer and treatment product, such as STA-BIL 360 Performance, can help protect gas-powered engines. A stabilizer may be especially beneficial for engines that sit for long periods without starting. Stabilizers are designed to absorb the excess water that may be present if ethanol begins to separate from gasoline and protect the insides of the fuel tank and parts.


Turn it on: Start up your stored classic car, boat and seasonal equipment, such as lawn mowers or snow blowers a few times during the off-season months to make sure they are running smoothly.


Tank it up: Cars, lawn mowers, snow blowers, boats, and other gasoline-powered tools and vehicles should keep their tanks at 95 percent full with fuel, and add a fuel stabilizer if they are tosit unused for a long time. This strategy helps prevent condensation while allowing room for expansion in warmer weather.


Trust your source: Buy fuel from a reputable gas station. A station with a quick turnover of their products helps ensure that the gasoline is fresh.


Test the lines: Rubber fuel lines dating from before the mid-1980's should be inspected. These lines may not be compatible with ethanol-blended fuel, and may need to be replaced.


For more information about protecting your engine, visit www.sta-bil.com.

VIDEO: Rand Paul schools MSNBC on Obamacare repeal

Senator Rand Paul takes his Obamacare Replacement Act to MSNBC.

Norma McCorvey, Roe v Wade plaintiff turned pro life activist, dies

File Photo: Norma McCorvey of Dallas, Texas (R), the ''Roe'' in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Case, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee along with Sandra Cano of Atlanta, Georgia, the ''Doe'' in the Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court case, on Capitol Hill in Washington,...REUTERS/Shaun Heasley


Norma McCorvey, plaintiff in Roe v. Wade abortion ruling, dies at 69


(Reuters) - Norma McCorvey, the anonymous plaintiff known as Jane Roe in the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling legalizing abortion, died on Saturday at the age of 69, a journalist close to McCorvey said.

McCorvey died on Saturday morning of heart failure at an assisted living home in Katy, Texas, Joshua Prager, a journalist who is writing a book about the decision, said in an email. 

Her lawsuit, filed under the pseudonym Jane Roe, resulted in the court's landmark decision that established a woman's right to an abortion. The ruling has become the focus of a divisive political, legal and moral debate that has raged in the United States for decades.

 (Reporting By Frank McGurty; Editing by Mary Milliken)

Gun Free Schools are a deadly failure. This bill ends them.


Massie Proposes Repeal of Federal Gun-Free School Zones


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced Jan. 5 H.R. 34, the Safe Students Act, which would repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990.

The bill, originally introduced by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) in 2007, repeals the Gun-Free School Zones Act (GFSZA) of 1990, which makes it “unlawful for any individual knowingly to possess a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.” In 1995, the Supreme Court held the GFSZA unconstitutional, which prompted Congress to amend the bill in 1996. The Supreme Court has not ruled on the constitutionality of the amended Act.

“Gun-free school zones are ineffective. They make people less safe by inviting criminals into target-rich, no-risk environments,” said Massie. “Gun-free zones prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves, and create vulnerable populations that are targeted by criminals.”

The Safe Students Act has garnered the support of three major gun organizations: National Association for Gun Rights, Gun Owners of America, and the National Rifle Association.

Representative Massie concluded: “A bigger federal government can’t solve this problem. Weapons bans and gun-free zones are unconstitutional. They do not and cannot prevent criminals or the mentally ill from committing acts of violence. But they often prevent victims of such violence from protecting themselves.”

As John Lott, author of The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies, writes in The Columbus Dispatch, “Would you feel safer posting a sign announcing your home is a gun-free zone? Criminals don’t obey these signs. In fact, to criminals, gun-free zones look like easy targets. So why do we display these signs in public places?”

Cosponsors include: Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Rep. James Comer (R-KY),  Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), and Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX).

Representative Massie is Chairman of the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus in the 115th Congress.

Federal intervention in education is a flaming failure. This bill ends it forever.


Massie Introduces Bill to Abolish Federal Department of Education


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Thomas Massie introduced Feb. 7 H.R. 899, a bill to abolish the federal Department of Education. The bill, which is one sentence long, states, “The Department of Education shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”

On the day of Betsy DeVos’ scheduled Senate confirmation for Secretary of Education, Massie said, “Neither Congress nor the President, through his appointees, has the constitutional authority to dictate how and what our children must learn."

Massie added, "Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development. States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meet the needs of their students. Schools should be accountable. Parents have the right to choose the most appropriate educational opportunity for their children, including home school, public school, or private school."

“For years, I have advocated returning education policy to where it belongs - the state and local level,” said Rep. Walter Jones, an original co-sponsor.  “D.C. bureaucrats cannot begin to understand the needs of schools and its students on an individual basis. It is time that we get the feds out of the classroom, and terminate the Department of Education.”

“I’ve always been a proponent of empowering parents, teachers and local school boards who best know our children and their needs," said Rep. Raul Labrador, another original co-sponsor. "Eliminating the U.S. Department of Education is the most important step we in Congress can take in returning decision making to the local level.”

"Education of our students should lie primarily with parents, teachers, and state and local officials who know how to meet their individual needs best," said freshman Rep. Andy Biggs. "Since its inception, the Department of Education has grown into an unrecognizable federal beast, and its policies have helped foster Common Core across the country. It is time the one-size-fits-all approach by the federal government is ended and authority is returned to the local level."

The Department of Education began operating in 1980. On September 24, 1981 in his Address to the Nation on the Program for Economic Recovery, President Ronald Reagan said, “As a third step, we propose to dismantle two Cabinet Departments, Energy and Education. Both Secretaries are wholly in accord with this. Some of the activities in both of these departments will, of course, be continued either independently or in other areas of government. There's only one way to shrink the size and cost of big government, and that is by eliminating agencies that are not needed and are getting in the way of a solution. Now, we don't need an Energy Department to solve our basic energy problem. As long as we let the forces of the marketplace work without undue interference, the ingenuity of consumers, business, producers, and inventors will do that for us. Similarly, education is the principal responsibility of local school systems, teachers, parents, citizen boards, and State governments. By eliminating the Department of Education less than 2 years after it was created, we cannot only reduce the budget but ensure that local needs and preferences, rather than the wishes of Washington, determine the education of our children.”

Original co-sponsors include Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), and Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID). 

Here's why you are better off with Bitcoin than with euros

Bitcoin Is Less Volatile than the Euro


Bitcoin volatility has fallen since 2011 and compared to the U.S. dollar currently sits at about 3-4 times higher than the Japanese yen, British pound, and euro. High volatility in the digital currency space has long been cited as a reason against adoption. But, as charts and analysis demonstrate, it is very likely that Bitcoin volatility is trending downwards, even as volatility in other cryptocurrencies remain high.

The Bitcoin industry generally highlights key indicators like price, transaction volume, bitcoin wallet numbers and trading volumes to underscore Bitcoin’s increasing popularity. All of these factors have jumped in recent years. But Bitcoin’s volatility has fallen, now sitting at approximately 5%. For comparison, gold volatility averages approximately 1.2% and major fiat currencies between 0.5% and 1.0%.

Diminishing Volatility


Bitcoin’s volatility, a measure of how much its price varies over time, has long been cited as the digital currency’s downfall. Each day, Bitcoin’s value goes up or down – and oftentimes both. Measuring volatility is important to judging an asset’s overall risk profile. High volatility is cited as to why sophisticated investors and the mainstream public stay away from Bitcoin.




Investors generally limit exposure to volatile assets by not holding them or hedging. Hedging Bitcoin is tough due to a dearth of options to short Bitcoin. Further, the more volatile an asset, the more expensive it is to hedge.

There are external factors which could contribute to currency-pair volatility like fiscal policy, geopolitical disruption and other factors. Bitcoin volatility could also be a function of transaction volume, as some suggest.

A paper published in 2014 by University of Victoria researchers examined the relationship between Bitcoin volatility and Google searches is implied. “Changes in Google Trends have an effect on the realized volatility of Bitcoin,” according to the paper. According to the paper, changes in the volatility of Bitcoin also have an effect on Google searches for Bitcoin.

“An increase in Google Trends has a positive impact on volatility, and an increase in volatility has a positive impact on Google Trends,” states the research team, led by Darryl C. Davies. In the past year, this has proven untrue, as an increase in Bitcoin search queries has paralleled a decrease in volatility.



An end to zero fee futures trading in China has led some to speculate Bitcoin volatility will decrease in the coming months and years. When the change was announced, Bitcoin trading volume crashed 90%. In fact, most volatility so far in 2017 is credited to actions and statements by the Chinese government. Bitcoin.com reported earlier this year that monied investors in China are leaving their money in the digital currency.

“We are starting to see a lot of smart money enter into the space and stay there,” said Ryan Rabaglia, Head Trader for Octagon Strategy, a Commodity and Digital Asset Trading firm based in Hong Kong. “In the form of small to medium sized institutions taking much larger positions in [bitcoin] and a natural progression to larger ones is sure to follow. With all the uncertainties surrounding us in traditional product spaces, alternatives are being sought, and although this space is still foreign to most, it’s not preventing the capital inflows we’re seeing.”

All Time Highs Amid Low in Volatility


The number of Bitcoin transactions has skyrocketed throughout the digital currency’s lifespan, as has the price, which currently sits near an all-time high after crossing the $1,000 threshold twice so far in 2017. The number of bitcoin wallets at popular multi-service provider Blockchain.info has increased, as well, in the past eight years. Trading volumes are also at all-time highs. Yet, over time, Bitcoin price volatility has declined.

Reprinted from Bitcoin.
Justin Connell
Justin Connell
Justin is an Associate Editor with the Bitcoin.com News team.
This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

SICK: Undercover videos catch Planned Parenthood assisting sex traffickers


Troubling New Videos Show Urgent Need to Defund Planned Parenthood

Live Action, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending abortion and protecting the right to life, has released videos and findings that demonstrate the urgent need for Congress to defund America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.

According to a report released in January, a Live Action investigation revealed that “Planned Parenthood lied to the media about retraining thousands of staff” with regard to reporting sex trafficking.

Back in 2011, the organization caught Planned Parenthood on film advising an undercover investigator posing as a pimp on how to get birth control and abortions for underage prostitutes.




Planned Parenthood vowed to retrain staff and fire any employees who potentially violated abuse reporting laws. One survey found that over a quarter (29.6 percent) of survivors of trafficking visited a Planned Parenthood during their abuse.


Yet instead of training its employees to spot and report trafficking, according to Live Action’s report, Planned Parenthood trained employees how to identify undercover journalists and discern whether or not they were being recorded.

Live Action also recently exposed Planned Parenthood’s misleading statements about the organization providing prenatal care. Specifically, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards claimed, “Prenatal care—these are the kinds of services that folks depend on Planned Parenthood for.”

Live Action put this claim to the test by calling 97 Planned Parenthood facilities. It turns out that 92 of them provided no prenatal services.

As calls to defund the abortion giant have escalated in recent years, Planned Parenthood has repeatedly cited prenatal care as a vital service that women will lose access to if federal dollars are diverted to other health centers not entangled with the abortion industry.

After being exposed by Live Action, Planned Parenthoods across the country removed references to prenatal care from their websites.

Then, at the end of January, Live Action revealed that Planned Parenthood uses ultrasounds to determine the unborn child’s age and position in the womb for purposes of aborting the child, but refuses to provide ultrasounds to women who want to keep their babies and would like to check on their health and that of their baby.

As one Planned Parenthood staffer put bluntly on one of Live Action’s recordings, “We only do ultrasounds if you are terminating.”


Peddling Abortion for Profit

In February, Live Action released testimony from former Planned Parenthood employees who claimed that its facilities must hit monthly sale quotas for abortion. Planned Parenthood gave its employees incentives to meet those quotas, such as throwing pizza parties and giving paid time off.

One former employee spoke of how staff were trained “to really encourage women to choose abortion; to have it at Planned Parenthood, because it counts towards our goal.”

It’s not news that abortion is quite profitable for Planned Parenthood, and if the allegations in the testimony are true, it is grotesque that Planned Parenthood uses parties and vacation time to incentivize employees to push women toward abortion over life-affirming options.

Earlier this week, Live Action released additional testimonials from former Planned Parenthood employees who spoke about the abortion giant’s abortion-centric business model that cut doctor-patient visit times in half and led to women being herded in the facility “like cattle.”

Managers also highlighted that despite the often repeated myth, Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms and offers little support to pregnant women who are going forward with a pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood reported almost $59 million in excess revenue for fiscal year 2015 and more than $1.4 billion in net assets. It also receives over half a billion dollars from taxpayers each year, as shown in its 2014-2015 annual report. (Curiously, Planned Parenthood has still not released its annual report for 2015-2016).

Time to Act

Congress should disqualify Planned Parenthood affiliates and other abortion providers from receiving taxpayer funds. Repealing Obamacare using language from the 2015 reconciliation measure is the best place to start.

If the reconciliation bill is crafted as it was in 2015, it would make Planned Parenthood affiliates ineligible from receiving Medicaid reimbursements for one year after the enactment of the bill. Such federal reimbursements constitute a significant portion of the roughly $500 million in government funds sent to the nation’s largest abortion provider each year and should be cut.

The ultimate solution is for Congress to pass, and the president to sign, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., explains that the legislation makes the Hyde Amendment and other current abortion funding prohibitions permanent and government-wide while ensuring that Obamacare (until it is repealed) conforms with the Hyde Amendment.

It also requires health insurance plans on Obamacare exchanges to provide full disclosure, transparency, and the prominent display of the extent to which they cover abortion so as to empower people to opt out.

Trump has committed to signing the bill into law if it reaches his desk. The bill passed in the House of Representatives the week of the 2017 March for Life, and the Senate should follow suit to finally and completely separate American taxpayers from the grisly abortion business.

Commentary by The Daily Signal's Melanie Israel.  Originally published at The Daily Signal.

One Woman’s Story About the Increasing Costs of Obamacare

When Kim Quade left her job of 17 years as a school speech pathologist outside Kansas City, Kansas, to work independently, she knew she would have to purchase her own health insurance. But, Quade says, she never anticipated the rate increases to come.

Quade, 61, says she researched options and found a decent plan for a fair price. In 2013, she changed her health insurance carrier and purchased a plan for $188 per month.

“It had a health savings account attached to it, it had a $5,000 deductible on it, but it was OK because I had money I was able to squirrel away into my health savings account,” Quade told The Daily Signal.

Quade says she liked this plan, in part because she believes health savings accounts are patient-centered and should be encouraged.

“It was something that I was able to take care of on my own and I was happy about it. It’s the way I was raised: You take care of yourself,” Quade says.

Mia Heck, director of the Health and Human Services Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, told The Daily Signal last month that health savings accounts can help Americans plan independently for their future.

“A health savings account is a pre-tax medical savings account available for taxpayers who are enrolled in a high-deductible health plan,” Heck said. “The high-deductible health plan serves as catastrophic coverage, while encouraging individuals and families to save money to use toward future medical expenses. Funds deposited into an HSA are not subject to federal income tax.”

Over the years, Quade says, her situation changed drastically. In 2015, her $188 monthly premium more than doubled to $399 per month.

She was willing to pay the increased rate, Quade says, because “I had my regular health care doctor and specialist, and I wanted to keep these people very much.”

“I didn’t want to lose them, so I bit the bullet.”

But when her monthly premium went up an additional $200, Quade says, she decided to make a change.

Quade says she and her husband reluctantly entered the federal Obamacare exchange, purchased a family plan, and stayed on it until her husband turned 65. He transferred to Medicare, and she, again, shopped for a new health insurance plan.

She says she had two goals: keep her health savings account and both of her doctors. She was able to do this at a price of $773 per month, she says, and after receiving a subsidy her monthly payment is $333—still nearly double what she was paying in 2013.

Although her original plan covered flu shots and physicals, Quade says, her policy under Obamacare covered neither for her. After a bout with pneumonia last year, she says, her insurance paid only $50 toward the cost of two X-rays.

Asked whether she experienced any improvements to her health plan under Obamacare, or noticed any benefits that weren’t available to her before, Quade simply says: “No.”

With health insurance carriers in Kansas leaving the federal exchange and some leaving the state entirely, Quade says, she was left with few options. The policy she purchased before Obamacare is no longer available, she says.

“A lot of companies are leaving the states because they can’t make a profit,” Quade says. “Profit is not an evil thing, it’s how companies stay in business and make jobs for other people and produce a product.”

Amid uncertainty in Congress about the details of repealing and replacing Obamacare, Quade, who writes for the Victory Girls blog, says she believes the free market is the optimal solution for the health insurance industry.

“Less regulation, more free market,” she says. “Because companies want to do business, they would love to come back into Kansas and to other states.”

Report by The Daily Signal's James Rogers. Originally published at The Daily Signal.

In 1 Chart, What Your Favorite Fast-Food Items Would Cost With $15 Minimum Wage


For Americans hitting the drive-thru at their local McDonald’s, a $15-an-hour minimum wage could hit them in their wallets.

According to a January report released by James Sherk, a former research fellow in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation, fast-food prices would rise by 38 percent under a $15-an-hour minimum wage and cause a 36 percent drop in employment.

Sherk’s research comes after several cities and states across the country voted to raise their minimum wages, with increases typically phased in over the next five years.

Additionally, several Democrats have advocated a $15-an-hour minimum wage at the federal level, as does Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who spoke about the need for an increase to the federal minimum wage while campaigning for president last year.

In his paper, Sherk said that raising the minimum wage would lead to higher labor costs for fast-food restaurants. Restaurant owners operating on already slim profit margins would then need to raise their prices.

Those higher menu prices would have a direct impact on customers who frequent fast-food establishments.

Here’s how prices at some of the most popular fast-food restaurants would change with a $15-an-hour minimum wage.


Report by The Daily Caller's Melissa Quinn (@MelissaQuinn97).  Originally published at The Daily Signal.

BEST VIDEO EVER?: That epic Trump press conference, full and uncut

Did you miss Donald Trump's epic press conference?  Watched it and want to see it again?

Or do you just want to send it to your liberal friends?

No matter what you think of Trump, you'll love watching him absolutely horse-whip a deserving media in this epic video.

VIDEO: Who will President Trump offend in his Weekly Address?


From the Oval Office
February 17, 2017

My fellow Americans,

We have taken major steps during the first few weeks of my Administration to remove wasteful regulations and get our people back to work. I have been saying I was going to do that for a long time.
This week I signed two pieces of legislation to remove burdens on our economy, continue to keep my promises to the American People and so much more.
I signed House Joint Resolution 38, which eliminates an anti-coal regulation put forward by unelected bureaucrats.  Our coal miners have been treated horribly, and we are going to turn that around - and we are going to turn it around quickly. We are going to fight for lower energy prices for all Americans as part of the deal.
That’s why I also signed a resolution to eliminate a costly regulation Dodd-Frank imposed on American energy companies. By stopping this regulation, we are able to save American companies and workers millions and millions of dollars in job-killing compliance costs.
But to truly succeed as a country, we must realize the full potential of women in our economy.
That is why I was thrilled to host the White House’s women’s business leaders roundtable—very exciting, great women.
As President, I am committed to ensuring that women entrepreneurs have equal access to the capital, markets, and networks of support that they need, and I mean really need. And it’s going to happen.  This is a priority for my Administration.  I campaigned on helping women in the workforce, and we are going to deliver on that promise, believe me.
In fact, as part of my first official meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week, we announced the creation of the joint United States-Canada Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders. Actually, very exciting.
The United States also reaffirmed our unbreakable bond this week with our cherished ally, Israel. It was an honor to welcome my friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House.
I affirmed to the Prime Minister America’s commitment to working with Israel and our allies and partners toward greater security and stability.  The threat of terrorism—and believe me it is a threat—must be confronted and defeated and we will defeat it.
We share with Israel a deep conviction that we must protect all innocent human life.
So as you head into the President’s Day weekend, the American people should know that we are working tirelessly on your behalf.  We are not here for the benefit of bureaucrats, consultants, or pundits—we are here to work for you, and only for you, the American people.
Thank you, God Bless you and God Bless America.

Fake News About Gorsuch’s Record


Statement of Committee for Justice President Curt Levey:
While President Trump was admonishing the press about its fake news yesterday, the left-leaning Alliance for Justice published some fake news of its own, titled “The Gorsuch Record.” The Gorsuch opinions and other materials cited by the AFJ report are real, but the conclusions it draws are fake — very fake.

The report concludes that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch “has, throughout his life, been driven by an ultraconservative ideology … marked by four themes,” including hostility toward progress, indifference to Americans’ health and safety, bias in favor of corporations, and overlooking abuses of constitutional rights (see page one of the report). These four alleged themes are disturbing ones — until you take a closer look.
A close review of the report’s bases for its conclusions reveals that those conclusions are heavily clothed in progressive spin. To give you a more accurate picture of Judge Gorsuch’s record, we have translated AFJ’s four themes by removing the spin. Viewed in that new light (see below), the four themes turn out to be an excellent summary of why mainstream Americans should support Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Theme #1: Judge Gorsuch is “hostil[e] toward social and legal progress over the last century,” threatening to “take the country backwards” through his belief “that judges should ‘strive . . . to apply the law as it is.’”

Translation: Gorsuch believes social and legal progress should be accomplished democratically, rather than through unelected judges creating new rights. Accordingly, judges should focus on constitutional and statutory text rather than their personal vision of how the law should evolve.


Theme #2: Gorsuch is “willing[] to downplay abuses of constitutional rights by government actors.”
Translation: Gorsuch believes that judges should follow the law where it leads, regardless of whether the result is a ruling for the government or the individual. He also believes that judges should defer to the policy decisions of our elected representatives unless there is a clear constitutional violation. Finally, he believes law enforcement agents should be given the benefit of the doubt when performing their jobs in good faith.
Theme #3: Gorsuch “aggrandize[s] corporations over individuals.”
Translation: Gorsuch believes that both arbitration agreements and the legal requirements for class action lawsuits should be enforced, and that statutory text should be adhered to, regardless of whether a plaintiff’s claims have emotional appeal. He is skeptical of plaintiffs’ lawyers who use frivolous claims to get rich. And he does not believe that people forfeit their First Amendment rights to religious liberty and free speech when they go into business.
Theme #4: Gorsuch expresses “skepticism of the federal government’s role in protecting the health and safety of the American people and a desire to weaken important legal protections.”
Translation: Gorsuch believes that the regulations issued by federal bureaucrats are legitimate only insofar as they faithfully implement the democratically-enacted statutes that authorize the rules in question. He is concerned that ever-expanding, unaccountable federal bureaucracies can undermine democracy and believes that when Congress delegates virtually unlimited discretion to such bureaucracies, it runs afoul of the Constitution.