- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The once rigid edifice of traditional media continues to evolve, driven by changing attitudes of both news consumers and those who actually produce the original content. Media hybrids are emerging, attuned to people rather than news conglomerates, perhaps. Case in point: An influential Washington Post blogger has bid farewell to that news organization. The Volokh Conspiracy — a legal and policy blog launched 15 years ago by UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh — has moved to Reason Magazine, published by the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation, a bastion of libertarian principles, including individual liberty, free markets and the rule of law.

Mr. Volokh — whose has two dozen law professors and attorneys on his vibrant team — describes the contributors as “libertarian, conservative, centrist, or some mixture of these.” He also says he was concerned by The Post’s ever-tightening paywall and said that he wanted to assert the blog’s editorial independence — “making sure that we can write what we want, in the way that we think is right.”

So he left.

“We especially value our loyal, longtime readers, who are particularly likely to trust and enjoy our work. And it’s important to us that law students, college students, young lawyers, and others have free, easy access to the analysis and discussion on our site. Moving to Reason lets us do these things, while still partnering with a respected media organization that we have long admired,” Mr. Volokh says.

“In an era of hyper-partisanship and tribal politics, The Volokh Conspiracy’s commitment to intellectual honesty and rational discourse has never been more essential or important. Eugene and the blog’s contributors have shaped national conversations on key policy areas and changed the way Supreme Court cases and legal issues are framed and discussed precisely because they engage ideas and opponents fairly, openly, and factually,” notes Nick Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Reason.com, who vows to provide “the openness and independence the blog needs to thrive and expand its impressive influence.”

Find the legal eagles’ new nest at Reason.com/Volokh.

TRUMP BUMP

“A national survey of small business optimism rose to its second highest level ever in November, nearing its 1983 record. The National Federation of Independent Business Optimism Index rose to 107.5 in November, up 3.7 points from October — and just short of the record of 108.0 set in July of 1983 during the presidency of Ronald Reagan,” writes Craig Bannister, an analyst for CNSNews.com.

The November reading hit the second-highest level in the index’s 44-year history, with 80 percent of the gain coming from optimism about future business conditions, sales and an expansion-friendly business environment. Small business owners are “exuberant,” according to the organization’s president Juanita Duggan.

“The NFIB credited the surge in small business owner optimism to ‘the change in management team’ — from former President Barack Obama to President Trump — particularly with regard to tax policy,” Mr. Bannister noted.

PORKER POLL: THE WASTEFUL ONES

Fretting about big spenders on Capitol Hill? Then vote for the official “Porker of the Year.” Citizens Against Government Waste, a taxpayer watchdog group with over a million members, tracks the worst pork barrel spending on a monthly basis. Now the nonprofit is asking the public to determine who was the top offender at year’s end.

The nominees are Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat, “for his over-the-top rhetoric justifying heavy-handed government regulation of the internet.” Then comes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, “for her long history of making false and misleading statements about the benefits of Obamacare.”

Next in line is Rep. Tom Rooney, Florida Republican, “for pushing to bring back wasteful and corruptive pork-barrel earmarks,” and Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent — “for his misguided quest to impose an expensive, government-run healthcare system on Americans.”

Rounding out the list: Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, “for spreading blatant falsehoods about commonsense tax reform,” and Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican, “for attempting to use federal taxpayer dollars to fund a dangerous, unnecessary ‘Road to Nowhere’ in his home state.”

Voting closes on Dec. 31; find the porker poll at CAGW.org.

THE GRASS ALSO BURNED

“On January 1, Californians will be able to use pot recreationally. But the huge fires in northern California devastated many marijuana growing operations,” writes Joel Warner, a contributor to Fast Company. “The wildfires couldn’t have come at a worse time for California’s cannabis market: in the middle of harvest season and just a few months shy of the 2018 launch of a sprawling recreational cannabis program voters approved last year, which will mean legal pot is available across the state to anyone over 21. But will the damage be enough to complicate the launch of what’s estimated to be the world’s largest recreational cannabis market?”

Close to 50 “cannabis farms” burned in recent blazes. Mr. Warner says that such “supply chain disruptions” can cause legal marijuana prices to increase by 10 to 20 percent. He also points out that new taxes and fees associated with weed legalization could cause the prices to increase by 70 percent.

Such talk about the big grass biz would amaze the old hippies of yore, but no matter.

“Even if it turns out the blazes damaged or destroyed hundreds or even thousands of cannabis operations, that would still be relatively insignificant for a state that’s believed to have upwards of 50,000 cannabis growers in various states of legality,” Mr. Warner observes, adding that California growers are now raising funds to help their fellow farmers in need.

POLL DU JOUR

42 percent of Americans say the Democratic Party is “too liberal,” 24 precent say the party as “about right,” 22 precent are not sure and 12 percent say the party is “not liberal enough.”

40 percent say the Republican Party is “too conservative,” 23 percent are not sure, 20 percent say the party is “not conservative enough” and 18 percent say it’s “about right.”

46 percent think President Trump is conservative, 32 percent are unsure of his ideology, 17 percent say he is moderate and 5 percent say the president is liberal.

32 percent describe themselves as conservative, 31 percent are moderate, 23 percent are liberal and 14 percent not sure.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 10-12.

• Reasonable ideas, churlish remarks to [email protected]

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