#Guncontrol: The fact-free debate

April 16, 2013

Samuel Johnson once famously said that “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” Thomas Sowell might broaden that to “appeals to emotion are the last refuge of someone losing on the facts,” because that’s surely the case with gun-control advocates:

Amid all the heated, emotional advocacy of gun control, have you ever heard even one person present convincing hard evidence that tighter gun-control laws have in fact reduced murders?

Think about all the states and communities within states, as well as foreign countries, that either have tight gun-control laws or loose or nonexistent ones. With so many variations and so many sources of evidence available, surely there would be some compelling evidence somewhere if tighter gun-control laws actually reduced the murder rate. And if tighter gun-control laws don’t actually reduce the murder rate, then why are we being stampeded toward such laws after every shooting that gets media attention? Have the media outlets that you follow ever even mentioned that some studies have produced evidence that murder rates tend to be higher in places with tight gun-control laws?

The dirty little secret is that gun-control laws do not actually control guns. They disarm law-abiding citizens, making them more vulnerable to criminals, who remain armed in disregard of such laws. In England, armed crimes skyrocketed as legal gun ownership almost vanished under increasingly severe gun-control laws in the late 20th century. (See the book Guns and Violence by Joyce Lee Malcolm.) But gun control has become one of those fact-free crusades, based on assumptions, emotions, and rhetoric.

In a rational debate, the relevant committees of Congress would hold genuine hearings, take testimony, examine the research that’s already been done (1), and perhaps commission some social scientists to do a new study of the correlations between gun ownership and gun violence. It’s what we should expect from our legislators, whose duties include keeping bad laws from being passed as it does passing good laws.  And when it’s something as fundamental as further restrictions on our rights to bear arms and against unreasonable search, that duty grows more compelling.

Instead what we get are emotional appeals to “do something now,” regardless of whether it deals with the real causes of gun violence. Politicians trot out vapid arguments arguing that whatever it is they’re advocating is worth it, “if it saves just one life.” They play on fear and guilt — the fear that more children will be killed, if we don’t “do something now,” and the guilt they tell us we should feel, because we didn’t “do something” when we had the chance. Victims and their loved ones are hauled before the cameras to make emotional appeals to “do something, now,” playing a moral authority card that declares you heartless if you disagree.

And all of that is smoke and mirrors, sound and fury, meant to cover up the absence of fact in almost any of the gun-grabbers’ arguments. As John Adams once said:

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

And it’s on those facts and evidence we must rely, while marrying them to the same rallying cries of “fairness,” “justice,” and “safety” that the anti-Second Amendment crowd uses. We must then turn them on the gun-grabbers and demand they explain, for example, what justice there is in denying a Black woman the right to defend herself in Chicago.

In that way, we can beat back this latest assault on our liberties.

RELATED: Following up on my post on the Manchin-Toomey amendment from yesterday, it looks like Harry Reid is falling short of the votes to bring even this watered down measure to a vote. Good. Very good. (h/t ST)

Footnote:
(1) See also “More Guns, Less Crime, by John Lott.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#GunControl: Opposing the Manchin-Toomey amendment

April 15, 2013

There’s been a lot of controversy the last few days over a deal reached between Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) on an amendment to pending gun-control legislation in the Senate. It’s expected to be introduced tomorrow and it appears they have the votes to end debate and proceed to a vote on the amendment.

Senator Toomey has tried to sell this bill as a strengthening of 2nd Amendment protections: for example, in this conference call that included PJ Media’s Scott Ott. The Washington Times reported on the words of a gun-rights advocate how, in crafting Toomey-Manchin, they “snookered” the gun-control crowd.

The text of the amendment can be found at Senator Toomey’s site. I read it myself over the weekend; while it seemed acceptable on the surface, I still had qualms. Not being a lawyer, I had a feeling that I was missing subtleties or quirks in the amendment that would indicate serious problems.

Turns out I was right to be cautious. From David Kopel at the Volokh Conspiracy:

The Toomey-Manchin Amendment which may be offered as soon as Tuesday to Senator Reid’s gun control bill are billed as a “compromise” which contain a variety of provisions for gun control, and other provisions to enhance gun rights. Some of the latter, however, are not what they seem. They are badly miswritten, and are in fact major advancements for gun control. In particular:

1. The provision which claims to outlaw national gun registration in fact authorizes a national gun registry.

2. The provision which is supposed to strengthen existing federal law protecting the interstate transportation of personal firearms in fact cripples that protection.

Let’s start with registration. Here’s the Machin-Toomey text.

(c) Prohibition of National Gun Registry.-Section 923 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
“(m) The Attorney General may not consolidate or centralize the records of the
“(1) acquisition or disposition of firearms, or any portion thereof, maintained by
“(A) a person with a valid, current license under this chapter;
“(B) an unlicensed transferor under section 922(t); or
“(2) possession or ownership of a firearm, maintained by any medical or health insurance entity.”.

The limit on creating a registry applies only to the Attorney General (and thus to entities under his direct control, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives). By a straightforward application of inclusio unius exclusio alterius  it is permissible for entities other than the Attorney General to create gun registries, using whatever information they can acquire from their own operations.  For example, the Secretary of HHS may consolidate and centralize whatever firearms records are maintained by any medical or health insurance entity. The Secretary of the Army may consolidate and centralize records about personal guns owned by military personnel and their families.

And you can bet that, if one lawyer reading the bill sees this angle, so will others in the administration of a more gun-grabby bent.

There is much more, and I urge you to read it all. While I’m sure there are criticisms to be made of Mr. Kopel’s reasoning, it seems solid enough that I’ve come to the conclusion that this amendment, while well-intentioned,  is a poorly drafted measure that leaves far too many openings for the restriction of our Second Amendment rights.

RELATED: Confiscation is already happening in New York. This bears directly on the mental health provisions of the Manchin-Toomey amendment.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Welfare Handouts for Promoting Terrorism

April 14, 2013

Every time I read about something like this –the UK welfare system handing out money and support to people whose goal it is to destroy the UK, as if it’s their right– I have to shake my head in wonder. This is another victory for cultural jihad.

International Liberty

I don’t think the federal government should be in the business of redistribution income. Simply stated, the welfare state has been a disaster for both taxpayers and recipients.

But our system, with whatever flaws it might have now or in the future, presumably will never be as crazy as the system in the United Kingdom.

A reader sent a story that blows my mind. Our cousins across the ocean give big welfare handouts to terrorist agitators. Here are some excerpts from The Sun.

…hate preacher Anjem Choudary has told fanatics to copy him by going on benefits — urging: “Claim your Jihad Seeker’s Allowance.” He cruelly ridiculed non-Muslims who held down 9-to-5 jobs all their lives and said sponging off them made plotting holy war easier. …Father-of-four Choudary, who has praised terrorist outrages, pockets more than £25,000 a year in benefits — £8,000 more than the take-home pay…

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The Spirit of Reagan Is Still With Us: The Gipper Crushes Obama in Hypothetical Matchup

April 13, 2013

Now, if only we could find a necromancer to bring Reagan back…. (Or, for science fiction fans, cloning.) Regardless, his current successor makes me realize how starkly better a president the Gipper was.

International Liberty

Barack Obama has stated that he wants to be like Reagan, at least in the sense of wanting to be a transformational figure.

But almost certainly he has failed.

Yes, Obama has increased the burden of government spending, raised tax rates, and created more dependency, but there’s nothing particularly special about Obama’s tenure that makes him different from other statist Presidents such as Nixon, Carter, and Bush.

Nor is there any evidence that he has fundamentally changed the attitudes of the American people.

That may sound like a bold – and overly optimistic – assertion, but check out the amazing results from a new poll. According to a survey of 1,000 adults, Reagan would kick the you-know-what out of Obama, winning a hypothetical contest by a staggering 58-42 margin.

Reagan Obama Poll

By the way, the margin might be even bigger than I’m reporting. As you can see…

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Hide your IRAs: Obama admin. — “We think you’ve saved enough!”

April 12, 2013
"Shakedown"

“We’re here for your fair share.”

Or maybe it’s the off-ramp to Cyprus.

Over at lefty blog Talking Points Memo (h/t Joel Gehrke), Brian Beutler has noted an interesting item in the White House’s latest budget proposal: a cap on the amount one is allowed to save in tax-deferred accounts. Anything over that is open to the taxman.

Per the budget, “Individual Retirement Accounts and other tax-preferred savings vehicles are intended to help middle class families save for retirement. But under current rules, some wealthy individuals are able to accumulate many millions of dollars in these accounts, substantially more than is needed to fund reasonable levels of retirement saving.”

But how would they close this loophole?

One way experts believe financial managers avoid the current annual contribution limit to IRAs is by using IRAs to participate in investments and assigning those investment interests a nominal value vastly below fair market.

Obama wouldn’t curb this practice directly. Instead his budget calls for an overall cap of about $3 million on the net balance across all of an individuals’ tax-preferred accounts. Only have one IRA? It can hold $3 million. Have three? Their holdings must sum to $3 million or less.

The $3 million figure is approximate. A formula would set the cap at a level just high enough to finance an annual distribution of no more than $205,000 per year in retirement for someone retiring this year.

Now, I can imagine TPM is just thrilled with this; it just reeks of class warfare disguised as “fairness.” We’ve got “reasonable levels” (Defined by whom? Oh, wait…) and the ever popular “loophole,” with its scent of someone getting away with something, cheating the rest of us.

What the administration is talking about, I believe, are self-directed IRAs  and other retirement vehicles that allow you to invest your money where you see fit (1). When you sell the stock and withdraw the funds, under the rules you’re taxed at a much lower rate. It’s a great vehicle for wealth creation and the encouragement of saving for retirement.

And that’s what they can’t stand. The rules as written prevent them from taxing this sheltered wealth to fund their bloated spending, so they’re going to change the rules. Oh sure, they say this is aimed the the “Romneys” of the world, those rich people who have sheltered more the $3 million, but how long do you think that barrier will last? About as long as it takes them to realize they need more.

Rocco always wants more.

This idea to tax sheltered money isn’t new; FDR, to whom Obama acolytes compare him, has his own undistributed profits tax, to punish businesses that were holding on to cash. (Look out, Apple!) That scheme blew up in Roosevelt’s face as business investment collapsed and the nation entered a new recession in 1937-38. You can bet a move like this would have its own unintended consequences, which the social engineers at Team Unicorn would blame on anyone but their own ham-handed, grasping, greedy policies.

This is progressivism showing its face as Leviathan. Forget that it was your skill and acumen and good habits that accumulated that wealth (and, through investing it, helped others by creating jobs, &c.); forget that this is, in the end, your money, yours to dispose of as you see fit, beyond that portion needed to fund the basic functions of government.

Forget all that.

The administrative state beloved by progressives knows what’s best. It has its plans and goals for us all, because it has divined the national will. Thus all the resources of the nation are at its disposal to meet those goals.

Including your retirement accounts.

This budget is dead on arrival, thank Heaven, but don’t think this scheme is going away. Oh, no. Once broached, it’s out there, waiting.

PS: I wonder if this is where Obama got the idea?

Footnote:
(1) You know: your money, your property, your liberty.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


NY school district: “We’re sorry for teaching Jews are evil”

April 12, 2013

School has certainly changed since my day:

An upstate New York school district is reportedly apologizing — and mulling possible disciplinary action — for a high school writing assignment that asked students to “argue Jews are evil” while making a persuasive argument blaming them for the problems of Nazi Germany.

The Albany Times Union reports that some students at Albany High School were asked to research Nazi propaganda before assuming their English teacher was a Nazi government official who had to be convinced of their loyalty. In five paragraphs, they were required to prove that Jews were the source of Germany’s problems, the newspaper reports.

“You must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich,” the assignment reportedly read. A third of the students refused.

Wow. I’ll be charitable and assume a stunning lack of sensitivity and plain good sense on the instructor’s part. There are, after all, good uses for exercises that ask the student to explore and defend the other side or other points of view. But when you’re talking about one of the most monstrous atrocities in the history of humanity –the Holocaust– the only point of discussing the attitudes that lead to it is to criticize them and show their utter evil, not to learn how to be an apologist for them.

Yeah, I’d say this teacher deserves at least a suspension, if not termination, but someone should pointedly ask that school district why they don’t supervise their employees’ lesson plans more closely.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Shocker! Unexpected! Obamacare exchanges double in cost!

April 11, 2013
No way!!

“No way!!”

I mean, whoever heard of a government project costing more —way more— than originally estimated?

Setting up insurance exchanges — the centerpiece of President Obama’s healthcare reform law — is costing the Health and Human Services Department a whole lot more than it originally expected. According to budget documents released Wednesday, the department expects to spend $4.4 billion on exchange grants to the states by the end of this year — double its estimates a year ago.

The HHS is also asking Congress for another $1.5 billion to set up a federal exchange in 26 states. The department has cobbled together money from other programs to get started, but officials said they need another $800 million for operational costs and $550 million for outreach and education.

What happens if Congress doesn’t approve the extra funds? After all, it rejected a similar, but smaller request just last month. An HHS budget official didn’t say, offering only that the department is committed to making exchanges work.

And you can bet on it, folks: costs will at least double, again. Probably several times. Not just because this is a government project, but because this is a poorly designed train wreck of a government project, a slow-motion debacle of epic proportions.

Memo to the House Republicans: You have one real power, the power to say “NO.” You’ve done it once already, you can do it again. And you can keep doing it every time Sebelius comes to you for “just a bit more.” Democrats rammed this crap sandwich down an unwilling nation’s throat, let them figure out how to pay for it.

May I suggest by first cutting back on a certain celebrity president’s vacations?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


(Video) The President on the North Korean threat

April 11, 2013

The Virtual President, that is. “President” Bill Whittle holds a press conference to explain American policy (and opinion of) North Korea in no uncertain terms:

Honest, direct, and no diplomatic weasel words such as “unacceptable,” “world opinion,” or my favorite, “the international community.” (1)

Neither bellicose nor warmongering; no chest-thumping to be seen. Just a clear, confident statement of the problem and the actions the president will take in defense of American national interest, American lives, and American allies. It’s like Walter Brennan used to say in “The Guns of Will Sonnett”No brag, just fact.

Isn’t that how an American president should be?

Footnote:
(1) Imagine me pausing for a moment to gag. Actually, no. You’re not imagining it at all.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Survey says! Police oppose new #guncontrol regulations

April 10, 2013

Pretty significant, I’d say, since the cops have to deal regularly with violent criminals and the aftermath of violent crime. If a majority of them say new gun regulations won’t do any good and might do harm, then why pass them? (1)

An authoritative new poll of more than 15,000 cops released on the eve of this week’s Senate anti-gun debate shows that a sweeping majority of officers don’t believe gun control will work or keep them safer, and nearly nine in 10 believe having more armed citizens would curb gun violence.

According to the lengthy survey of law enforcement professionals, one of the largest ever of street cops, 85 percent believe that President Obama’s gun control plan to ban assault weapons, limit the size of ammo magazines and expand background checks won’t improve their safety, with just over 10 percent believing it will have a “positive effect.”

The poll from PoliceOne.com, a site dedicated to police policy and news, also found surprising support for arming citizens. The poll found that 86 percent of officers believe that casualties would be decreased if armed citizens were present at the onset of a shooting. Another 81 percent backed arming teachers, as the National Rifle Association has called for.

I’m willing to bet this doesn’t include LAPD Chief Charlie Beck

Read the rest for more intriguing results, including broad support for police organizations that have stated they will refuse to enforce new gun control legislation.

PS: This morning a “compromise” bill featuring increased background checks, sponsored by Senators Manchin (D-WV) and Toomey (R-PA) is being introduced. I’m withholding final judgement until more details are known, but my gut feeling is that this is a bill that will fail to prevent more mass shootings, but will further burden our Second and Fourth Amendment rights. In other words, a bill written to be seen to be “doing something, anything.” Very disappointed in Senator Toomey, if this is the case.

Footnote:
(1) But we know why, don’t we? So does Dan Bongino.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


So, one of the schmucks who designed Obamacare warns it’s “too complex.”

April 9, 2013

Now that he’s retiring and doesn’t have to face the wrath of voters, Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) feels free to speak his mind:

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, one of the towering architects of Obamacare, on Tuesday openly criticized program managers for not moving quickly enough to build the system, warning that if it gets off to a bumpy start it will just get worse.

Decrying the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as way too complex, he warned the acting Medicare director that Obamacare is “so complicated and if it isn’t done right the first time, it will just simply get worse.”

The retiring senator also told Marilyn Tavenner at her Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that Obamacare rivals tax reform in its capacity to confuse Americans.

Gee, ya think???

"Need a navigator, bub?"

“This? Confusing?? Surely you jest.”

Though I don’t see what Senator “I designed this monstrosity” is complaining about; people can always get a navigator and a translator.

And don’t you find Rockefeller’s naive faith that there was any chance in Hades that Obamacare’s implementation could ever be “done right” touching and quaint? He helped create it; surely someone can figure out how to make it work!

Why, I bet he believes in the tooth fairy, too.

Memo to those who voted for Obama in 2008 and, especially, 2012: We tried to warn you!

Next time, listen.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Commenting on Margaret Thatcher’s death, President Narcissus can’t help himself.

April 9, 2013
"Tell me you love me!"

“It’s all about the O”

I really think it’s impossible for Barack Obama to comment on any event without inserting himself:

Here in America, many of us will never forget her standing shoulder to shoulder with President Reagan, reminding the world that we are not simply carried along by the currents of history—we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will.   Michelle and I send our thoughts to the Thatcher family and all the British people as we carry on the work to which she dedicated her life—free peoples standing together, determined to write our own destiny.

And what’s this “we,” kemosabe? Your beliefs and policies are about as far from Prime Minister Thatcher’s and President Reagan’s as it can be while staying on the same planet.

Seriously, I wonder if he laughed at the absurdity when he read that.

Nah. That would require a modicum of self-awareness.

via Stephen Greene

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


One in the many reasons to send the United Nations packing

April 8, 2013

It’s corrupt from top to bottom and the only people who get punished are those who expose it:

A U.N. whistleblower who was awarded a fraction of the damages he says he suffered at the hands of the United Nations urged Washington on Monday to withhold 15 percent of the U.S. contribution to the world body in accordance with U.S. law.

American James Wasserstrom was last month awarded 2 percent of the $3.2 million he wanted by a tribunal that found U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the U.N. Ethics Office failed to properly review claims he suffered retaliation for alleging U.N. corruption in Kosovo.

According to Section 7049(a) of the 2012 U.S. Consolidated Appropriations Act, the United States is required to withhold 15 percent of its contribution to any U.N. agency if the secretary of state determines that it is not implementing “best practices for the protection of whistleblowers from retaliation.”

(…)

Wasserstrom complained in 2007 to the Ethics Office that he suffered retaliation for reporting alleged misconduct while head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Oversight of Publicly Owned Enterprises in Kosovo.

He had told the United Nations he was concerned about corporate governance in Kosovo and alleged the possibility of a kickback scheme tied to a proposed power plant and mine that involved top politicians and senior U.N. officials.

Instead of being protected as a whistleblower, Wasserstrom claimed he suffered retaliation, which started with his U.N. public utility watchdog office in Kosovo being shut down and his U.N. contract not being renewed.

Although Wasserstrom eventually won his case, he was only awarded $65,000, despite the fact that he says his legal fees, lost wages and other financial damage incurred amounted to well over $2 million.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Secretary John “Global Test” Kerry to invoke this law to protect a wronged American; relations with the world body that represents the voice of the international community are too important, you see. (1) More likely, as Rick Moran acidly observes, Kerry will use the UN appeal process as a dodge to avoid doing anything that might upset things. And, I think, in the hope that this pesky little prole will stop bothering his betters with minor matters.

There was a time when, if an American was ill-treated by a foreign regime, the government would try to find a solution and, if that didn’t work, would figuratively go punch the offending government in the gut and keep doing it until they recognized their diplomatic obligations. See, for example, the Barbary Pirates and the Mexican War. (2)

Now, while we can’t declare war on the United Nations, cutting our contribution by 15% would also be an effective gut-punch, one that would command attention and, I bet, meet with wide public approval. (Just “sequester” it…) But, cynical me, I don’t expect this administration headed by  “citizens of the world” to do anything to help Mr. Wasserstrom.

That might make the next cocktail party in New York just too uncomfortable.

Footnotes:
(1) If you detect a note or two (or several thousand) of sarcasm and cynicism, your senses are not deceiving you.
(2) Yes, I’m grossly oversimplifying things, but the shabby treatment of Americans was among the causes of war in each case, as well as others.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The “Walker Effect”: Wisconsin PEU membership cratering?

April 8, 2013

Or maybe it’s the predictable result of restoring liberty to the people and not using the force of law to extort money from them for the benefit of union bosses (1). Regardless, the reforms Governor Walker instituted and then defended against thug tactics in Wisconsin have sent the membership numbers of at least one public employee union, AFSCME, into a tailspin:

According a Labor Department filing made last week, membership at Wisconsin’s American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 40 — one of AFSCME’s four branches in the state — has gone from the 31,730 it reported in 2011, to 29,777 in 2012, to just 20,488 now. That’s a drop of more than 11,000 — about a third — in just two years. The council represents city and county employees outside of Milwaukee County and child care workers across Wisconsin.

Labor Department filings also show that Wisconsin’s AFSCME Council 48, which represents city and county workers in Milwaukee County, went from 9,043 members in 2011, to 6,046 in 2012, to just 3,498 now.

(…)

They show why the state worker unions and their liberal allies fought such a protracted, bitter battle in 2011 over Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s changes to the state’s labor laws. Under the old laws, state employees were obligated to pay dues to a union even if that worker didn’t want to belong to a union. Walker changed that to allow state workers to opt out of paying those dues. He also required unions to submit to an annual re-certification vote. Without those requirements, the unions have found it much harder to retain members.

And I’d say this is a good thing for Wisconsin, as early results from the reforms have shown. As public employee unions have grown (Disclosure: I pay dues to one — against my will), they’ve come to treat the taxpayers as cash-cows, milking them for ever-higher salaries and benefits (often far better than for comparable positions in the private sector), whether justified or even healthy for the state. They’ve fought even the mildest reforms tooth-and-claw, as witnessed during the protests and occupation of the Wisconsin state capitol in 2011. In effect, they were acting as overlords demanding tribute from a subject people and becoming enraged when the people said “no more.”

If these membership numbers are any indication, a large and probably growing swath of Wisconsin public employees don’t like how their unions operate, either, and are making their feelings known loud and clear. And this has to have the union bosses frightened as the reform movement spreads from state to state.

via Power Line.

Footnote:
(1) The dues they take in are often spent on political activities and influence buying to pursue policy goals that many of their members would object to, or even consider irrelevant to their interests. This is often done through large contributions in money and campaign work to (largely Democratic) legislators, who then reward their employers — the unions, not necessarily the voters. It is, in effect, a corrupt kickback arrangement.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Chicago cops for rent?

April 7, 2013

And that’s not a metaphor for police corruption; these are uniformed police officers “financially sponsored” by individual citizens or groups. In other words, rented:

A philanthropist or business could sponsor a police beat and put more off-duty cops on the streets under a plan being put forth by a downtown Chicago lawmaker on the City Council.

Alderman Brendan Reilly originally pitched the idea last October but is pushing it again following weekend incidents of teen mob activity on the Magnificent Mile, an upscale area of the city.

Under his plan, off-duty officers would work minimum six-hour shifts and make $30 an hour. The money would be paid by businesses, civic groups and churches at a time when city finances are stretched thin. The officers would be in full uniform and under the command of police supervisors.

“This is a way to make use of well-trained police officers who are moonlighting doing other things, bringing them back on the street to do what they do best, which is great police work,” Reilly said.

To say this is a bad idea would be to insult bad ideas. Moe Lane provides one answer to “what could go wrong?”

Those would be rented cops, and the difference will become clear the moment that somebody very important from one of those “businesses, civic groups and churches” happens to commit a trivial, surely-not-worth-mentioning, purely technical violation of the law.

Look at it another way: Order in a society such as ours depends on the law being applied equally — blindfolded Justice holding the scales, and such. And that includes the police serving all the public, because, in large part, all the public pays for the police. While we all know there are imperfections and exceptions, the acceptance that this is generally so is important to social order.

Alderman Reilly’s proposal, regardless of his protests otherwise, would break that perception. I don’t care how much anyone might say “they’re still Chicago police and they still enforce the law,” the fact is that their pay will come from individuals, not the public. As Alexander Hamilton said:

In the main it will be found that a power over a man’s support (salary) is a power over his will.

In other words, “You work for me.”

You can imagine what wonders this could work on a society based on the rule of law and its equal application.

That a loony idea such as this can even be floated is indicative of how far down the drain liberal, Blue-model governance has taken a once-great city like Chicago. (Detroit, on the other hand, is at the end of that drain…) The city’s finances are so strapped by out of control pension costs and greedy unions, as well as businesses fleeing high-tax Illinois, that they are having trouble paying for basic services such as police.

Is the next step RoboCop?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Why Are Young Americans Supportive of Obama When His Policies Are So Bad for Them?

April 6, 2013

Ya got me. Talk about voting against one’s own interest. Click through to see interesting analysis of how entering the job market in a bad economy sets a young person on an underperforming path for a long time to come.

International Liberty

Young people voted for Obama in overwhelming numbers, but the question is why?

As I explain in this interview for Blaze TV, they are being hurt by his policies.

It’s not just that youth unemployment is high. Obama’s policies also are hurting those who found jobs. Simply stated, these “lucky” folks are getting below-average pay.

I specifically explain that academics have determined that those entering the labor market in a weak economy will suffer a long-run loss of income.

Some of you may think I’m clutching at straws because I don’t like Obama, but perhaps you’ll believe the man who formerly served as the Chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Here’s some of what Austin Goolsbee wrote several years ago for the New York Times.

…starting at the bottom is a recipe for being underpaid for a long time to come. Graduates’ first jobs have an inordinate…

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Obamacare: Wasn’t it supposed to simplify things?

April 5, 2013
"Need a navigator, bub?"

“Need a navigator, bub?”

Wasn’t Obamacare supposed to relieve us of the burden of worrying about our healthcare? With the government making our choices for us, with mandatory coverage for all, and with subsidies given to all who couldn’t afford the new plans, weren’t we all supposed to breathe a sigh a relief at how easy it had all become?

Well, if the road to healthcare nirvana has become so smooth and straight, why do we need tens of thousands of “navigators?”

Tens of thousands of health care professionals, union workers and community activists hired as “navigators” to help Americans choose Obamacare options starting Oct. 1 could earn $20 an hour or more, according to new regulations issued Wednesday.

The 63-page rule covering navigators, drawn up by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, also said the government will provide free translators for those not fluent in English — no matter what their native language is.

Sixty-three pages for one rule. Remind you of anything? No wonder they need make-work jobs for their union clients “navigators.” Magellan couldn’t find his way through this mess.

They’ll need navigators for the navigators.

Not only is this farcical on its face, but consider the cost: each “navigator” will (1) get $20-$48 per hour to help people through this morass. California alone has estimated it will need 21,000 “navigators.” (2) That’s an estimated $420,000 to $1,008,000 per hour, every day during the implementation period, just for one state.

Oh, and the translators. Naturally, they’ll be well-paid, especially if they speak multiple languages. Here in Los Angeles county, there are over 224 languages spoken as of the 2000 census, so you know demand will be high. And they’re mandatory: if your primary language is something as obscure as Nenets, and even if you are the only person in the area who speaks it, they have to get you a translator.

So tack that on to the hourly cost of “navigating” our brave new healthcare world.

Can I get a navigator to take me back to someplace sane, please?

via Jim Treacher

PS: A Twitter commenter reminds us that the article also mentions a voter-registration provision as part of signing up for Obamacare. I imagine all these community organizers and union members will be quite willing to help people “navigate” this part. But, don’t worry. The law requires them to be unbiased. (Yeah, I’m rolling my eyes, too.)

Footnotes:
(1) States aren’t required to pay at this rate, but, come on. You think these groups will work for less, or even gratis? I have some swampland for you, real cheap.
(2) And you can bet all of them will be dues-paying public employees union members, too.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Reid gun bill criticized by radical conservatives at… the ACLU

April 4, 2013
"Post-constitutional"

“Post-constitutional”

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)

Madness!

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

Footnotes:
(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)


Obamacare as the gateway to state-run single-payer healthcare? Colorado is the foot in the doorway.

April 2, 2013

One of the charges made by those oppose Obamacare is that it’s really a Trojan Horse for state-run single-payer system (1); that, in fact, the annoyances and fatal flaws within the PPACA –which are legion– are a feature, not a bug. The idea being that the problems will grow so great that people will demand a solution and then, by that time, the public will be open to a full-blown single payer nationalized system, the ultimate goal of the Left. In response, Obamacare supporters call that idea nonsense and dismiss critics as paranoid “see a Socialist under every bush” types.

Oh yeah? Phase Two has already begun:

State Sen. Irene Aguilar wants Coloradans to imagine a day when 80 percent of them see their health care costs drop.

She says the wildly different health care system she envisions can make that happen – largely by eliminating much of what health insurance companies do, and by purchasing everyone’s medications in bulk.

The Denver doctor and Democrat is proposing that Colorado throw out the impending reforms know as Obamacare – which is permitted if the state comes up with a better plan. This week Aguilar introduced a resolution to ask Colorado voters to create a universal health care system for the state.

(…)

Specifically, Aguilar’s bill would ask voters to create a statewide health insurance co-op, owned by all Coloradans, which would replace health insurance companies. It would offer one wide-ranging policy for all residents. It would be funded by a tax, which would replace the insurance premiums that companies and people now pay.

Emphasis added. So, if Senator Aguilar’s measure passes, we’d have a single-payer system in one state (2). What’s the problem, that’s Coloradans’ business, right?

Yes, they’re free to sink their ship any way they’d like, just as we in California are doing. But, consider this hypothetical scenario: As the years go by and Obamacare becomes more hated as its problems multiply, there will be pressure on more and more states to invoke the same bail-out provision of the PPACA that Aguilar’s bill does and opt out of Obamacare altogether, if it’s replaced with “something better.” (3)

If enough states do this, the pressure for a national single-payer system to smooth out the differences between the states will be tremendous, almost irresistible. And the enactment of that, my friends, would mark the completion of “Phase Three” and the Left’s victory.

I’ll leave the critique of the economics of the Colorado proposal to economists, though I suspect they’ll find it’s another case of “unicorns and rainbows.” And I don’t doubt that Senator Aguilar genuinely wants to help her constituents, though her method is wrong. But, politically, this plan fits right in with the Left’s strategy to follow parallel tracks at the state and federal levels to incrementally pursue a Social Democratic agenda, the underlying spirit of which is wealth redistribution.

These efforts aren’t in conflict with each other, they’re complementary. And we have to fight them on those same levels, too.

via Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt.

Footnotes:
(1) And I have no idea where anyone would get that notion from.
(2) Variations of which have been tried in Maine, Tennessee, and Massachusetts, all of which are failing. But this time we know it’ll be different, right?
(3) “Better,” in this case, would certainly be guaranteed universal coverage that goes beyond the PPACA, not a market-based system. Try to opt out of Obamacare and implement the latter, and just see how fast your state gets sued by the Obama administration.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Quote of the Day: Doing business in Texas vs. California edition

April 1, 2013

An observation on why Texas might have more appeal to business owners, from John Harrington, owner of Shield Tactical, who recently relocated his company from Orange County, California, to Austin:

In Texas, he said, “it’s an iota of bureaucracy.” In California, “it’s like before you put up your range you have to be worried about whether the noise level is going to bother the 10-headed duckmouse.”

That made me laugh, but it’s also so very true. One company found the regulatory environment here so burdensome, it wrote California a “Dear John” letter.

Oh, and if you think “duckmouse” was a joke, consider that Sacramento would rather let Central Valley farms die of thirst than fight the EPA over a two-inch bait fish.

BTW, the first linked article is a good one on how Texas is working to encourage firearms manufacturers to move to Texas from states that are imposing more and more restrictions. Smart man, that Governor Perry.

via Moe Lane and Rick Wilson

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)