Reid gun bill criticized by radical conservatives at… the ACLU

April 4, 2013


From The Daily Caller via Ed Morrissey:

In an exclusive interview with The Daily Caller, a top lobbyist for the ACLU announced that the group thinks Reid’s current gun bill could threaten both privacy rights and civil liberties.

The inclusion of universal background checks — the poll-tested lynchpin of most Democratic proposals — “raises two significant concerns,” the ACLU’s Chris Calabrese told TheDC Wednesday.

Calabrese — a privacy lobbyist — was first careful to note that the ACLU doesn’t strictly oppose universal background checks for gun purchases. “If you’re going to require a background check, we think it should be effective,” Calabrese explained.

“However, we also believe those checks have to be conducted in a way that protects privacy and civil liberties. So, in that regard, we think the current legislation, the current proposal on universal background checks raises two significant concerns,” he went on.

“The first is that it treats the records for private purchases very differently than purchases made through licensed sellers. Under existing law, most information regarding an approved purchase is destroyed within 24 hours when a licensed seller does a [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] check now,” Calabrese said, “and almost all of it is destroyed within 90 days.”

Calabrese wouldn’t characterize the current legislation’s record-keeping provision as a “national gun registry” — which the White House has denied pursuing — but he did say that such a registry could be “a second step.”

You know there’s a problem with proposed legislation when both the NRA and ACLU are criticizing it.

As Ed points out, it’s not that the ACLU has become a staunch defender of the right to bear arms, but they have do have serious concerns on 4th Amendment grounds, the retained database contributing to violations of rules against unreasonable searches and thus privacy.  Over at Protein Wisdom, Jeff Goldstein thinks a national registry –a step enabling a future confiscation– is just what the Democrats have in mind:

That they were discovered here watering down language to open the way for the beginnings of a national gun registry means only that, should they now be defeated in their plan by strong arguments and sunlight, they’ll merely try again later, in some other way, using some other bill or some other crisis to reach their ends.

That is, if the full-frontal approach doesn’t work, they’ll return to the incremental approach — and with respect to their gun control aims, the contours to that approach are already quite clear:  empower the AG to expand the parameters for what is included in a background check, wherein a partisan agent is given the power to determine what group or groups of people come to constitute a potential danger; cross-reference ObamaCare, with its governmental access to health and prescription records, with other databases, using medical professionals and (they hope) mental health professionals to create the conditions under which they can argue for “sensible” prohibitions on firearms ownership; use Democratic majorities in various states to drive draconian gun control measures through the state legislatures on a party-line vote, then see which of those state laws stand up to court challenges and which do not; use agencies such as the CDC to lend an air of scientific and medical emergency to the “gun violence” “epidemic” — as if gun violence is contagious in any way other than through some strained sociological metaphor — then demand action to combat the crisis or “epidemic” (regardless of what the crime statistics show).

We are living in a time when our government is looking for ways to usurp our rights, pressuring them from every angle, waiting for us to “compromise” if only to make them relent.

Jeff also notes the same simultaneous push at the federal and state levels I wrote about the other day with regard to healthcare. He’s right: this isn’t the old Democratic Party, anymore.  Having been taken over by Progressivism and then the New Left, they’re now the party of “constitutional deconstruction,” stripping the parts they don’t like at the moment of any meaning, something those who care about constitutionalism must struggle against constantly.

Thus making “strange bedfellows” of conservatives and the ACLU, at least in this case.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Defining madness: Obama administration encouraging sub-prime mortgages

April 4, 2013

Isn’t this how we got into the current mess?

The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place.

President Obama’s economic advisers and outside experts say the nation’s much-celebrated housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession.

In response, administration officials say they are working to get banks to lend to a wider range of borrowers by taking advantage of taxpayer-backed programs — including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration — that insure home loans against default.

Housing officials are urging the Justice Department to provide assurances to banks, which have become increasingly cautious, that they will not face legal or financial recriminations if they make loans to riskier borrowers who meet government standards but later default.

Officials are also encouraging lenders to use more subjective judgment in determining whether to offer a loan and are seeking to make it easier for people who owe more than their properties are worth to refinance at today’s low interest rates, among other steps.

Obama pledged in his State of the Union address to do more to make sure more Americans can enjoy the benefits of the housing recovery, but critics say encouraging banks to lend as broadly as the administration hopes will sow the seeds of another housing disaster and endanger taxpayer dollars.

Quick summary for those to whom this might look familiar, but not recall why: In the late 80s and early 90s, urban community organizing groups such as ACORN, particularly in the Chicago area (1), pressured banks from below to give easy credit to borrowers with bad credit or low incomes so they could buy homes.Because many were minority buyers, the groups would charge “racism” and levy bogus accusations of discriminatory “red lining” when banks (sensibly) resisted. These leftist groups found allies in progressive Washington Democrats, particularly the Clinton administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development headed by Secretary Andrew Cuomo, now New York’s governor.

To complement the interest group pressure from below, HUD put “carrot and stick” pressure on the banks from above: the stick was the threat of anti-discrimination lawsuits and the blocking of mergers that required government approval. The carrot was the willingness to have Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy these risky loans from the banks, then bundle them and sell them into the securities market backed by the full faith and credit of the US government, and therefore us.

This went on into the 2000s, with Democrats (2) fighting tooth and claw against any effort to fix the growing problem and rein-in these bad, dangerous, monstrously stupid practices. Finally the asset bubble collapsed in 2007-08, people lost their homes, banks collapsed, nearly a trillion taxpayer dollars were burned trying to stem the tide, and the world was thrown into a severe recession. All because of government engineering of the marketplace.

And now Obama wants to do it all again, because this time will be different? (3)


Via Dan Mitchell, who has excellent explanations of why this kind of intervention is wrong, harmful, and doomed to failure.

(1) Gee, whom do we know who came from there, and who, as a young lawyer, was an attorney for these same groups? Hmm…
(2) Yes, I know Republicans tried to take advantage of this, too. Home ownership was a big part of their “ownership society” spiel. But at least they saw the potential danger and tried to avert it, unlike the Democrats. Oh, and let’s not forget the Democrats’ corruption, either.
(3) Actually, to distract from the fact that his housing policies since coming to office have been miserable failures.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)