Feed aggregator

Senate Ethics Committee opens probe of Senator Franken

Reuters US Politics - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 19:04
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Ethics Committee said on Thursday it has opened a preliminary inquiry into alleged misconduct by Senator Al Franken, who has been accused of sexual misconduct and inappropriately touching women.

TGIF: Liberty, Democracy, and the Right

LibertarianInstitute - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 18:07

I am mystified by the claim that the long-standing libertarian critique of democracy furnishes aid and comfort to conservatives who display a taste for populist authoritarianism. Let me say at the outset that the libertarian critique has nothing to offer those who would impose legal or social disabilities on racial, ethnic, religious, and other minorities. If white supremacists see something helpful here, they are mere opportunists who would find something helpful to their cause in anything they looked at.

Right off the top we may ask where is this right-wing antipathy to democracy. On the contrary, I see a right-wing embrace of democracy even in the age of Trump. (Rush Limbaugh has long called himself the “doctor of democracy.”) Which branch of government have conservatives all of all stripes railed against most vigorously for decades? It’s the judiciary, especially the U.S. Supreme Court. And what have the courts done to make conservatives so angry? They have invalidated actions of legislators — the supposed elected representatives of the people. Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia were not the first conservatives to inveigh against unelected judges for vetoing the will of the people as expressed through the democratic branches of government. Bork, whose defeat at the hands of Democrats as Ronald Reagan’s nominee for the Supreme Court, energized conservatives with his articulate defense of — wait for it — majoritarianism. Libertarians opposed him for that reason. I once heard Scalia say his job was not to strike down legislative acts that were unconstitutional, just those that were “really unconstitutional.” (I did not add the emphasis.)

(We note here in passing that public choice analysis demonstrates that majority rule is in fact a chimera because special interests, as a result of collective-action problems among other things, are better positioned than the unorganized masses to achieve decisive clout over policymaking. Moreover, representative government was devised as a scam to defuse public opposition to what they’re rulers were doing.)

By pointing all this out, I do not deny the authoritarian element on the right, which Trump has brought to the forefront. There’s an unappreciated connection among democracy, populism, and authoritarianism, which Hayek noted in The Road to Serfdom. Democracy is inevitably slow and messy; it can bog down in endless debate and factionalism. Then, under certain circumstances, it can produce a strongman who condemns the dithering and promises swift action to carry out the “will of the people.”

In contrast to conservatives, so-called liberal Democrats typically applaud court interference with legislatures, including Congress. (Remember, among others, Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade.)

So who are the democrats and who are the anti-democrats? Are libertarians responsible for the Democratic Party’s support for judges who strike down democratically enacted laws?

To be sure, both “liberals” and conservatives are opportunists. They support judicial activism when it suits their agendas and oppose it when it does not. And, as Ilya Somin notes, each side tries to keep the other side’s supporters from expressing themselves democratically, for example, through gerrymandering. But neither has been influenced by the libertarian critique of democracy.

Still, it is conservatives who make opposition to the courts their signature issue — to the point of being willing to elect any Republican president on the grounds that judicial appointments matter above all else.

It is libertarians (such as Randy Barnett) who have consistently espoused “principled judicial activism” over the conservatives’ beloved “judicial restraint.” Principled judicial activism is the maxim that judges should refuse to defer to the people’s legislatures when freedom is at stake. It is otherwise known as the presumption of liberty.

More generally, progressives, such as those who dominate the Democrats today, have long favored anti-democratic entities like independent regulatory agencies, which have proliferated since before the Progressive Era. On the other hand, populists, in their anti-elitism, are more prefer rule by elected assemblies to rule by unelected experts.

Moving on, we must consider whether radical libertarianism provides ammunition to conservatives. Somin notes that the libertarian insistence on robust property rights cannot have emboldened the right because the right has become increasingly less interested in property rights. Oh sure, conservatives may invoke property when it lines up with their prejudices, but they are more than happy to jettison it in other issues close to their hearts. I’ve yet to hear an advocate of the planned wall along the Mexican border demand that it be built without eminent domain. The same goes for the various energy pipelines about which they are so excited. Property rights also don’t figure in their enthusiasm for cracking down on immigration, legal and illegal. (Why do I need government permission to hire, sell to, or rent to an immigrant?)

If conservatives have been inspired by the libertarian commitment to property rights, then they have badly misread the fundamental works of the most influential libertarians of our time.

A debate of sorts has opened between Somin and Will Wilkinson over whether property is at the heart of the libertarian critique of democracy. Wilkinson blames the “libertarian theory of ironclad ‘natural’ property rights” for bolstering the allegedly anti-democratic right. We’ve already seen the problem with that claim. Moreover, Somin correctly points out that much of the libertarian critique of democracy stems from other concerns, such as the Hayekian knowledge problem and public choice incentive problem. That’s true, but property rights remain a major objection to majority rule. What’s attractive about a system that permits a majority of voters to take someone’s justly acquired belongings or to anoint politicians who promise to do so? (Among the better motivations for the U.S. Constitution was the concern that unrestrained state legislatures could confiscate people’s land.)

Property, knowledge, and incentives aside, we have grounds to question the legitimacy of democracy the moment we encounter Bastiat’s insight that no group can have rights that are not possessed by the individual members. Since that is the case, no majority may impose anything on others that individuals may not impose on them. If that invalidates taxation and the state, so be it. Of course, this insight also invalidates the authoritarianism that the right wing seems more and more disposed to favor.

TGIF: Liberty, Democracy, and the Right was first posted on November 30, 2017 at 5:07 pm.

Ubiquiti Networks CEO reportedly faces expensive decision on NBA franchise

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 17:56

Ubiquiti Networks Inc. founder and Chief Executive Robert Pera must buy minority owners' stakes in the Memphis Grizzlies NBA franchise or sell his majority ownership, according to a Thursday report. The Athletic reported Thursday afternoon that minority owners Steve Kaplan and Daniel Straus had exercised a unique clause in their ownership agreement that allowed them to establish a new valuation for the franchise five years after it was purchased and demand that Pera buy their shares or sell his shares at that price. Pera and his minority investors paid $377 million for the Grizzlies in 2012, but NBA franchises have appreciated greatly since then - former Microsoft Corp. chief executive Steve Ballmer paid $2 billion for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 and the Houston Rockets sold to hotel and casino magnate Tilman Fertitta for $2.2 billion last summer. The Athletic did not reveal the price set by the minority owners. Most of Pera's wealth is tied up in Ubiquiti, as the chief executive owns 72.3% of the company, a stake worth $3.75 billion, according to FactSet. He has repeatedly promised investors that he will maintain a majority interest in the networking company, which was recently attacked by short seller Citron Research. Ubiquiti shares were unaffected Thursday afternoon, and have recovered from damage done after Citron's attack; the stock is up 15.6% this year, slightly trailing the S&P 500 index's 17.6% advance.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

Yemen war: Saleh and Houthi forces clash in Sanaa

MiddleEasteye - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 17:53
Language Undefined

Deadly clashes broke out in Yemen's capital among fighters in the anti-Saudi coalition

U.S. military to indefinitely delay ban on cluster bombs

Reuters US Politics - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 17:46
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon will indefinitely delay a ban on the use of older types of cluster bombs due to take effect on Jan. 1, 2019, officials said, arguing that safety improvements in munitions technology failed to advance enough to replace older stockpiles.

Wall Street gains, Dow tops 24,000 as tax bill gains steam

Top Reuters News - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 17:40
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P closed at a record high and the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke above the 24,000 mark for the first time on Thursday as investors gained confidence that the Republican party's push for a U.S. tax overhaul would succeed.

How parents of adopted children foiled a U.S. Republican tax proposal

Top Reuters News - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 17:35
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Charles "Chuck" Johnson is not the kind of foot soldier in the army of lobbyists that House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan warned would descend on Washington to fight the biggest overhaul of the tax code since the 1980s.

How parents of adopted children foiled a U.S. Republican tax proposal

Reuters US Politics - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 17:35
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Charles "Chuck" Johnson is not the kind of foot soldier in the army of lobbyists that House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan warned would descend on Washington to fight the biggest overhaul of the tax code since the 1980s.

Mylan shares jump after report Amazon is in talk with generic drug makers

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 17:29

Shares of drugmaker Mylan NV shot up in the extended session Thursday after a CNBC report that Amazon.com Inc. was holding preliminary talks with generic drugmakers -- including Mylan and Novartis AG unit Sandoz -- as it contemplates entering the pharmacy business. CNBC reported that the talks were high-level, but said Amazon's plans were still not clear. Mylan shares were last up 4.5% after hours, after closing down 0.9%; Novartis shares were up slightly after hours. Speculation about Amazon's entry into the pharmacy business has weighed on pharmaceutical middlemen stocks in recent months. As MarketWatch has reported, Amazon's entry into the field could also have major implications for consumers.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

Amazon has discussed pharmacy business with generic drugmakers: report

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 17:23

Amazon.com Inc. has had early talks with generic drug makers like Mylan NV and Novartis AG's Sandoz about a potential entry into the pharmacy business, according to a Thursday report. CNBC reported Thursday that health care investment bank Leerink confirmed that a Sandoz executive recently spoke with Amazon about its plans to enter the health-care market in the U.S., and other anonymous sources confirmed the talks. Leerink analyst David Larsen has said that Amazon's entry into the pharmaceutical sales chain in some regard "is a matter of when, not if." Amazon shares ticked up slightly in after-hours trading Thursday, gaining about 0.1%; Mylan seemed to get the healthiest bump from the report, gaining 4.5%.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

Blue Apron installs new CEO

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 17:04

Blue Apron Holdings Inc. has installed former Chief Financial Officer Brad Dickerson as Chief Executive, the company said Thursday. Matt Salzberg the outgoing CEO and co-founder of Blue Apron has been named Executive Chairman and will continue to serve as the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Dickerson, 52, has previously been CFO and Chief Operating Officer at Under Armour Inc. . Dickerson said the company is "confident in our previously stated financial guidance for the second half of 2017, and I believe we are taking the right steps to move the business forward." Blue Apron stock edged up a penny to $3 in late trading. The company has struggled since it went public at $10 a share and Blue Apron stock has plunged 44% in the past three months. The S&P 500 index has gained 6.9% in the last three months. The company also said it was looking to fill the CFO job.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

Senate Banking Committee to vote on Powell nomination on Tuesday

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 16:59

The Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday will vote on the nomination of Jerome Powell to be chairman of the Federal Reserve. If the Powell nomination is voted out of committee, it will then head to the Senate floor. The committee also will vote on its bipartisan bank regulation bill on Tuesday.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

Zumiez shares fall after company's Q3 earnings

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 16:35

Shares of Zumiez Inc. fell 5% late Thursday after the retailer reported an earnings and sales beat in the third quarter. Zumiez said it earned $11.9 million, or 48 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $10.7 million, or 43 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Sales rose 11% to $245.8 million, compared with $221.4 million a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected earnings of 46 cents a share on sales of $241.8 million. The company expects fourth-quarter sales to be in the range of $291 million to $297 million, and fourth-quarter per-share earnings to be in the range of 78 cents to 84 cents. The analysts surveyed by FactSet expect fourth-quarter earnings of 77 cents a share on sales of $287 million.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

Trump & the Self-Destruction of American Democracy

RealClearPolitics - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 16:30
Thomas Edsall, NY Times
Forget Russia for a minute and look where Trump is taking us.

VMware rises after earnings beat

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 16:26

VMware Inc. shares rose in late trading Thursday after the company reported better financial performance than it expected. The software company reported third-quarter profit of $443 million, or $1.07 a share, on revenue of $1.98 billion, up from $1.78 billion a year ago. After adjustments for stock-based compensation and other effects, the company claimed profit of $1.34 a share, up from $1.14 in the same period a year ago. Analysts on average expected VMware to report adjusted earnings of $1.28 a share on sales of $1.97 billion, after the software company projected profit of $1.25 to $1.28 a share on sales of $1.93 billion to $1.98 billion. VMware stock rose about 3% in late trading, nearing $124 after closing at $120.11. The shares have gained 52.6% so far this year, while the S&P 500 index has increased 17.3%.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

Nutanix shares wobbly as results, outlook top Street view; software pivot confirmed

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 16:25

Nutanix Inc. shares wobbled in the extended session Thursday even after the hyperconvergence company reported results and an outlook that topped Wall Street estimates and confirmed plans to pivot toward a software-based model. Nutanix shares, which had dropped as much as 6% after the earnings release, last rose 1.2% to $33.20 after hours. "While we will be focusing even more intently on selling software going forward, it's worth noting what the past twelve months would have looked like had we chosen not to bill any pass-through hardware-related transactions," said Duston Williams, Nutanix chief financial officer, in a statement. Williams said the company would have delivered gross margins north of 80% if it relied on software-only sales. The company reported a fiscal first-quarter loss of $61.5 million, or 39 cents a share, compared with a loss of $140.3 million, or $1.89 a share, in the year-ago period. The company reported an adjusted loss of 16 cents a share. Revenue rose to $275.6 million from $188.6 million in the year-ago period. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had estimated a loss of 26 cents a share on revenue of $266.9 million. Nutanix reported product revenue of $219.1 million, support and services revenue of $56.5 million, and billings of $315.3 million. Analysts had expected product revenue of $206.4 million, support and services revenue of $57.4 million, and a "new orders value" of $307 million, according to FactSet. For the second quarter, Nutanix estimates an adjusted loss of 22 cents to 20 cents a share on revenue of $280 million and $285 million. Analysts expect a loss of 25 cents a share on revenue of $282 million.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

Trump to give State of the Union address on Jan. 30: White House

Reuters US Politics - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 16:23
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump has accepted an invitation by Congress to deliver a State of the Union address on Jan. 30, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters on Thursday.

Ulta shares down 7% after earnings, mixed outlook

MarketWatch Market Pulse - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 16:21

Ulta Beauty Inc. shares fell 7% late Thursday after the specialty retailer reported third-quarter per-share earnings that surpassed Wall Street expectations but same-store sales growth slowed and the fourth-quarter outlook was mixed. Ulta said it earned $104.6 million, or $1.70 a share, in the quarter, compared with $87.6 million, or $1.40 a share, in the year-ago period. Sales rose to $1.34 billion, compared with $1.13 billion a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected earnings of $1.66 a share on sales of $1.34 billion. Same-store sales rose 10% in the quarter, compared with a 17% increase in the third quarter of fiscal 2016. The company estimated $14 million in lost sales from hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Ulta said it expects fourth-quarter sales between $1.93 million to $1.96 million, and a comparable-store sales increase between 8% to 10%. It estimated fourth-quarter per-share earnings between $2.73 to $2.78. The analysts surveyed by FactSet expect fourth-quarter earnings of $2.83 a share on sales of $1.93 billion and a same-store sales increase of 9.4%.

Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

S&P hits record high close amid optimism over tax overhaul

Top Reuters News - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 16:13
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 hit a record closing high on Thursday and the Dow broke above the 24,000 mark for the first time as investor bet that U.S. Republicans would pass a U.S. tax overhaul.

Not Every Accuser Tells The Truth. I Should Know

RealClearPolitics - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 16:08
Tucker Carlson, Fox News
Tucker Carlson addressed his own history of dealing with what he called false accusations of sexual assault on Monday's edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight. Carlson detailed the situation with a "delusional" accountant in Indiana that threatened to accuse him of felony rape.

Pages