Nor from what I’ve seen.


Will COVID-19 kill the Constitution

Jacob Sullum
The great American jurist St. George Tucker, writing at the beginning of the 19th century, called the right to armed self-defense “the true palladium of liberty” and “the first law of nature.” But California Gov. Gavin Newsom thinks that right, guaranteed by the Second Amendment, is optional.

After Newsom ordered “nonessential” businesses to close in response to the COVID-19 epidemic, he let local sheriffs decide whether that category included gun dealers. Newsom’s decision, which allowed Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to unilaterally ban the sale of firearms and ammunition, illustrates how readily politicians ignore constitutional rights in the very circumstances where they matter most.

Villanueva’s ban, which several gun rights groups challenged in a federal lawsuit last Friday, was inconsistent with recent guidance from the Department of Homeland Security as well as the Second Amendment. In an advisory published on Saturday, the department added firearm retailers to its definition of the “essential critical infrastructure workforce,” which Newsom explicitly exempted from his order.

On Monday, Villanueva, who describes himself as “a supporter of the Second Amendment” but also suggests that keeping guns for self-protection is irresponsible, rescinded his ban, citing the new federal guidelines. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, whose business closure order initially covered gun stores, likewise recognized them as “essential” after seeing the federal advisory.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf also deigned to allow firearm sales, but only after three members of the state Supreme Court said that “it is incumbent upon the Governor to make some manner of allowance for our citizens to continue to exercise this constitutional right.” Notably, that rebuke came in a dissent from a March 22 decision summarily denying a challenge to Wolf’s violation of the Second Amendment.

The reversals by Murphy and Wolf, who are now allowing firearm sales by appointment and in compliance with social distancing rules, show that shutting down gun stores was never necessary to curtail transmission of COVID-19. But their reluctance to respect the Second Amendment and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s unwillingness to intervene do not bode well for civil liberties at a time when many people seem to think that fighting the pandemic trumps all other concerns.

To “save the nation” from COVID-19, Cornell law professor Michael Dorf argued two weeks ago, Congress should suspend the writ of habeas corpus, an ancient common-law right that allows people detained by the government to demand a justification. Yet the Constitution says that “the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”

Although neither of those circumstances applies, Dorf suggested that the spread of the COVID-19 virus from other countries to the United States could be construed as an invasion. While “no one knows” whether the courts would accept that interpretation, since “Congress has only ever suspended habeas in wartime,” Dorf said, “there is reason to think that the courts would dismiss a habeas case following nearly any congressional suspension.”

In a recent survey of 3,000 Americans, the University of Chicago’s Adam Chilton and three other law professors found bipartisan agreement that “now is the time to violate the Constitution,” as they put it. The survey asked whether the respondents would support various constitutionally dubious policy responses to the epidemic.

Sizable majorities of both Democrats and Republicans favored confining people to their homes, detaining sick people in government facilities, banning U.S. citizens from entering the country, government takeovers of businesses, conscription of health care workers, suspension of religious services and even criminalizing the spread of “misinformation” about the virus. “Even when we explicitly told half of our sample that the policies may violate the Constitution,” Chilton et al. report, “the majority supported all eight of them,” including the speech restrictions.

“After the threat has subsided,” the law professors conclude, “Americans must recognize any constitutional violations for what they were, lest they become the new normal.” By then, it may be too late.

Iowa State Senator Celsi is a demoncrap. Need I explain more?


Research on firearms contradicts senator; guns used in defense are a deterrent

State Sen. Claire Celsi’s anti-gun column, published in the Register’s community editions on March 17, is filled with distortion.

Her biggest whopper is that “the rate of suicides in the United States is 10 times higher than any other country on Earth.” In fact, the United States annual suicide rate typically ranks in the 30s.

She claims that the proposition that good guys with guns stop crime is a fantasy. In fact, successful defensive use of guns is more common than their use in crime. The National Academies of Science found: “Defensive use of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence …. Almost all national survey estimates … of annual uses range from about 500,000 to more than 3 million …in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008. … Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was “used” by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”

Celsi misleads by lumping together all firearms deaths, as if accidents, homicides and suicides were the same thing, to write that “rates of death from firearms among ages 14 to 17 are now 22.5% higher than motor vehicle-related death rates.”

In fact, an apples-to-apples comparison shows that the 2018 accidental death rate from firearms among ages 14 to 17 is 0.23 per 100,000, while the accidental death rate for motor vehicles for that group is 6.48 per 100,000. The rate of death for firearms accidents among ages 14 to 17 is actually 96% lower than motor vehicle-related accidental deaths rates.

The unintentional firearms fatality rate, now 0.15 per 100,000, has declined over 94% since records began to be kept in 1903. Fatal gun accidents rank as one of the lowest causes of injury.

While the number of privately owned guns increased 92%, from 185 million guns in 1993 to 357 million in 2013, the firearms homicide rate decreased by 49%. Firearms homicides increased from 2015 to 2017, but decreased in 2018, a trend expected to continue for 2019.

There is an increase in suicides, but the problem is far more complex than the presence of firearms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that, while the number of suicides increased from 1999 to 2014, the percentage of suicides committed with firearms decreased during the same period. Assuming that each of the 24,432 firearm suicides in 2018 involved one firearm per suicide, those 24,332 guns represented less than one-hundredth of 1 percent of the 357 million firearms in America.

As for Celsi’s proposition that “good laws will keep us safer,”  economist John Lott found “stricter gun laws are associated with more total deaths from homicides and suicides.”

All the yammering about calling this bug the Chinese Virus, Wuhan Flu & Kung Flu are nothing but ‘we’re against anything Trump’ yammering of those who still haven’t come to terms with the fact that Hillary lost.


This virus should be forever linked to the regime that facilitated its spread

Want to know why the U.S. economy is in free fall? Why restaurants and bars are closing, putting millions out of work, and why the airline industry is facing possible bankruptcy? Why schools across the nation are shutting down, leaving students to fall behind and parents without safe places to send their children everyday? Why the stock market is plummeting, wiping out the retirement and college savings of millions of Americans? Why the elderly are isolated in nursing homes and tens of millions who don’t have the option of teleworking have no idea how they will pay their bills?

Answer: Because China is a brutal totalitarian dictatorship.

More coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

We are in the midst of a pandemic lockdown today because the Chinese Communist regime cared more about suppressing information than suppressing a virus. Doctors in Wuhan knew in December that the coronavirus was capable of human-to-human transmission because medical workers were getting sick. But as late as Jan. 15, the head of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention declared on state television that “the risk of human-to-human transmission is low.” On Jan. 18, weeks after President Xi Jinping had taken charge of the response, authorities allowed a Lunar New Year banquet to go forward in Wuhan where tens of thousands of families shared food — and then let millions travel out of Wuhan, allowing the disease to spread across the world. It was not until Jan. 23 that the Chinese government enacted a quarantine in Wuhan.

If the regime had taken action as soon as human-to-human transmission was detected, it might have contained the virus and prevented a global pandemic. Instead, Chinese officials punished doctors for trying to warn the public and suppressed information that might have saved lives. According to the Times of London, Chinese doctors who had identified the pathogen in early December received a gag order from China’s National Health Commission with instructions to stop tests, destroy samples and suppress the news.

This is what totalitarian regimes do. First, they lie to themselves, and then, they lie to the world. The system creates such fear that people are terrified to report bad news up the chain, causing “authoritarian blindness.” Then, when those at the top finally discover the truth, they try to cover it up — because leaders who abuse their people are less concerned with saving lives than making sure the world does not discover the deadly inefficiency of their system.

The ongoing pandemic should serve as a reminder of the lesson that President George W. Bush tried to teach us after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks: What happens thousands of miles away in a foreign land can affect us here at home. Both viruses and virulent ideologies fester in the fever swamps of totalitarianism and then emerge to kill us in our cities and our streets. Two decades ago, it was a terrorist attack; today, it is a once-in-a-generation pathogen. But in both cases, the lack of freedom in a distant land created conditions that allowed an unprecedented threat to grow, bringing death and destruction to our country.

What Bush called the “freedom agenda” is out of vogue today. But we can now see that caring about freedom is putting America first, because how China treats its people affects the health and security of the American people. The same totalitarian system that lied about putting 1 million Uighurs in concentration camps lied about the outbreak of this virus, creating a global pandemic. If China were an open and transparent society, with an accountable government, Americans might not be on lockdown today.

The Opinions section is looking for stories of how the coronavirus has affected people of all walks of life. Write to us.

What can we do about it? We obviously can’t turn China into a democracy. But we can hold China accountable for its behavior and put a price on its lies and oppression. We can reaffirm that the advance of freedom, transparency and rule of law are central objectives of U.S. foreign policy, because the lives and safety of our citizens depend on it. And we can lay the blame for this crisis where it belongs: at the feet of the Chinese Communist Party. Once the crisis has passed, President Trump should calculate the damage and demand that Beijing pay for the death and destruction it unleashed on the United States and the world.

Some have suggested that calling this pathogen the “Wuhan virus” — or as President Trump recently called it, the “Chinese virus” — is racist. That is absurd. MERS is called the “Middle East Respiratory Syndrome” because that is where it originated. Moreover, the Chinese regime continues to lie, spreading a conspiracy theory that the source of the virus is really the U.S. Army.

It is important this virus be forever linked to the brutal regime that facilitated its spread. The virus grew in the cesspool of Chinese Communist tyranny. It’s time to drain the swamp.

Too Much Freedom & My Ability to Say, “NO,” & Instantly Enforce It

How do I explain it?

Contrary to leftist dogma, I don’t carry a concealed pistol in public because I secretly harbor some surreptitious desire to shoot criminals, any more than I keep a fire extinguisher in my home and vehicle because I harbor some consuming desire to put out fires.

I consider these practices, both involving sensible emergency/safety equipment, to represent reasonable and prudent precautions. Ones we all sincerely hope never become necessary.

Anyone even vaguely familiar with what we all laughingly call our “Justice System” knows and understands the legal, financial, and emotional trauma that invariably attends any shooting incident, regardless of participants, circumstances, nor outcome. It is the last thing any rational person, including me, ever wants to become involved in!

Yet, I carry a concealed pistol, so that I can place absolute limits on what people can do to me and those in my charge.

So that I can say “No,” and have that single syllable represent more than just platitudinous rhetoric, more than just a “feel-good” cliche.

As a sovereign American Citizen, I can say, “No,” and be in a position to personally, instantly enforce it, with lethal finality, upon my own summary command and judgment.

Few other civilizations trust citizens with such personal authority.

That is because, in most nations, even most Western nations, the term “citizen” is little more than a cynical euphemism! Most “citizens,” even in the West, are actually “subjects.” Subjects who have no rights, and who may enjoy only those precious few “privileges” casually bestowed upon them by the ruling elite, privileges that can be granted, or withdrawn, at a whim.

Not surprisingly, such “subjects” are routinely, arbitrarily crushed to earth and trampled upon by criminals, criminals from both the public and private sectors.

Not here in the United States!

In this Republic, a “Bill of Privileges” is found nowhere in our Constitution.

Here, we sovereign citizens have rights, and our rights are not benightedly dribbled-out to us by arrogant politicians. We are endowed with them by our Creator! Our Founding Documents say so, in unmistakable terms.

So here, self-defense is the right of every citizen. And, not just with fences, locks, alarms, warning signs, and clever rhetoric.

Our personal right of self-defense extends to lethal force.

This right has teeth, and without it, the rest are illusory.

Accordingly, this right must ever be protected from sleazy neo-Marxists who, occasionally peering-out from behind their ecumenical cadre of heavily-armed bodyguards, profess to worry about us mere citizens having “too much freedom!”

Bloomberg Tries To Control Others Because He Can’t Control Himself

He’s an arrogant snob, but we already knew that.

There used to be a social stigma against believing and behaving as if one is entitled to tell perfect strangers how to speak, what to do, or how to live.

Sadly, that stigma is all but gone today. More people than ever are willing to use the force of government to compel their fellow citizens to comply with their own changing set of mandates.

I am fascinated by the causes that have compelled so many Americans to lose perspective on this fundamental principle of freedom.

Take Michael Bloomberg, please! What drives this man with the freedom to enjoy his wealth in 65 billion different ways, to spend his time trying to curtail the freedoms and choices of others, even down to the size soda they drink and the amount of salt they ought to be allowed to sprinkle on their spinach?

Coloradans know all too well that the former New York Mayor and Democratic Presidential Candidate spent boatloads of cash pushing state legislators to clamp down on their God-given right to defend themselves and their families. He has pushed freedom-sucking and blatantly biased “Red Flag” bills in numerous other states around the country.

Mayor Busybody simply can’t stop telling others what to do. It seems to be an obsession with him—or maybe, a compulsion too. I gained insight into this when I returned to a New York Times article from 2009 that described Bloomberg’s eating habits.

“He dumps salt on almost everything, even saltine crackers. He devours burnt bacon and peanut butter sandwiches. He has a weakness for hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and fried chicken, washing them down with a glass of merlot. And his snack of choice? Cheez-Its.”

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is about control. Controlling one’s out-of-control thoughts, feelings and behavior by attempting to control his external environment. Consciously or unconsciously, those afflicted do this in vain, to the point where they feel unable to control the compulsion as well (as in excessive hand-washing).

Most sufferers aren’t dangerous unless they have 65 billion dollars and a God-complex.

The Times went on to report this delicious insight:

“…he (Bloomberg) is known to grab food off the plates of aides and, occasionally, even strangers. (“Delicious,” he declared recently, after swiping a piece of fried calamari from an unsuspecting diner in Staten Island.)”

Behavior like this exhibits a staggering and extreme lack of boundaries. The Times seems to only snicker at this, but it’s painfully clear that Bloomberg has great difficulty respecting the basic boundaries of civil society. No wonder it’s so easy for him to help himself to your freedoms and your choices, when he can’t stop helping himself to your calamari.

As a rule of thumb, the most flawed and arrogant people are most likely to believe they know what’s best for everyone else and should be allowed to trample on our freedoms. Those who are secure and comfortable in their own skin do not have a need to control others. They have the basic self-confidence to tolerate and even enjoy the uncertainty of others’ choices and behavior. They reserve more extreme action for times in which there has been the actual commission of a crime.

These cultural underpinnings of freedom have been essential to what is America. Socialists have been systematically unraveling these norms in a big way. They have not only been more open about their ideology, they have been working feverishly to put it into practice and prepare more Americans to accept it.

How can we put an end to the presumptuousness of these troubled, would-be tyrants? First, we can return the stigma attached to telling other adults what to do and how to live.
 We can once again elevate the notion that the right to think one’s own thoughts, make one’s own choices, and live one’s own life is sacrosanct, regardless of how flawed, unpopular or even offensive those choices might be.

The imperative of Liberty requires that the individual take responsibility for his own successes and failures so he can learn from his mistakes. In protecting others’ freedoms, he protects his own. We used to know this but it has been unlearned.

As for Michael Bloomberg, he has begun to help our side more than he could have imagined. His off-the-scale ignorance and arrogance was hilariously exposed in his first Democrat primary debate.

If we play our cards right, Bloomberg could help us take a “Big Gulp” toward returning a sensible social stigma of proclaiming oneself as lord and master over the rest of us.

It’s a reasonable strategy, and it shouldn’t cost 65 billion dollars.

The Democrats’ Strategy Against The Trump Economy? Schizophrenia

Well, they always did had demoncrap-for-brains, so this is not surprising.

I&I Editorial

It is extremely difficult if not impossible to defeat an incumbent president when the economy is doing well. Just ask 1984 Democratic nominee Fritz Mondale, or 1996 Republican nominee Bob Dole.

In the case of Donald Trump, the economy isn’t just healthy; it’s reached unprecedented milestones. America is enjoying the longest expansion in history. Unemployment reached and remains near a 50-year low. Nearly 7 million full-time jobs have been generated under Trump, including nearly a half million manufacturing jobs, after two decades of serious manufacturing decline widely viewed as irreversible.

There are two tacks from which to choose in confronting this politically. Democrats can argue that our prosperity is grossly exaggerated. Or they can claim they deserve the credit for the Trump economy.

Which of these strategies, both decidedly dubious in their chances of success, have the Democrats picked?

Both.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn is considered a kingmaker in the upcoming Democratic primary in his home state of South Carolina, where black support is vital. “I talk to African Americans. I go to church with them. And I know they’re not doing better,” Clyburn told ABC on Sunday. “If you go with unemployment numbers to determine people’s status, then you have to say that slaves were in very good shape because they were fully employed,” the House’s number three Democrat added. Later in the week, Clyburn repeated himself to Fox’s Neil Cavuto.

What an insult to more than 19½ million of Clyburn’s fellow blacks currently working, to suggest that they’re not really laboring for themselves and that their jobs are lacking in dignity.

Similar to Clyburn’s contention that employment statistics don’t really have value as an economic indicator, Nobel economics laureate, Bill Clinton economic adviser, and “Third Way” theorist Joseph Stiglitz has actually called for the abandonment of using gross domestic product to measure economic health. Sore losers always blame the rules when their opponents win.

Obama Credits Economic Policy He Admitted Failed

The very day after Clyburn’s outrageous claim appeared on ABC, Barack Obama tweeted that he was actually the one responsible for “paving the way for more than a decade of economic growth and the longest streak of job creation in American history” because of his economic stimulus, enacted 11 years ago this week.

Republicans were quick to respond, including Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who threw Obama’s own words regarding the private sector back at him – “You didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” And Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who pointed out that, just days before, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was getting the word out to her Democrats that, as Blackburn put it, “We need to stop giving Obama credit for the economy, it’s a losing message.”

It’s quite remarkable that Obama is brandishing his so-called Recovery Act today, over a decade after he signed it. That’s because two and a half years after its enactment it was so clear to him and everyone else that it was a failure – a stimulus that wasn’t stimulating – he requested an emergency address before a Joint Session of Congress in September, 2011 to call for action. Democrats were in a state of panic because of how obvious it was that their stewardship of the economy was failing.

“Tonight we meet at an urgent time for our country,” he declared. “We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless.” His solution was yet another stimulus of nearly $450 billion. Again and again, in tones of desperation, Obama implored Congress to “pass this jobs bill.” But Congress wouldn’t, even though he warned Republicans, now in control of the House of Representatives, that “doing nothing is not an option.” In the end even a significant number of congressional Democrats opposed it.

Later in the speech, he condescendingly said, “I realize that some of you have a different theory on how to grow the economy. Some of you sincerely believe that the only solution to our economic challenges is to simply cut most government spending and eliminate most government regulations.”

Nearly a decade later, Trump, subscribing to that “different theory,” massively cut regulations and drastically reduced tax rates, in particular our globally non-competitive corporate rate, and suddenly the U.S. economy outperformed the experts’ projections.

That 2011 speech is a dim memory today, but at the time it was obvious that the Obama presidency was at its nadir because it was so clear his economic policies weren’t working. First Lady Michelle looked crestfallen as she took her seat in the visitors’ gallery. The “hope and change” president’s rhetoric that night was all about dampening expectations. “I don’t pretend that this plan will solve all our problems,” he told the chamber in his concluding remarks. “It should not be, nor will it be, the last plan of action we propose. What’s guided us from the start of this crisis hasn’t been the search for a silver bullet. It’s been a commitment to stay at it – to be persistent – to keep trying every new idea that works, and listen to every good proposal, no matter which party comes up with it.”

Fast forward to today, nearly eight and a half years later, and it sure sounds like Obama considers the 2009 stimulus to have been “a silver bullet” for which his golden-haired successor is wrongly taking credit. In truth, Obama’s trillion-dollar stimulus caused the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis to be the most lethargic in American history.

Democrats are going to have to decide which side of their split personality they think gives them any chance of ousting President Trump in November. Unfortunately for them, as we’ve seen, both Clyburn’s claims that the jobs boom is a slave economy, and Obama’s assertion that the policies he admitted were failing two and a half years after their implementation are now succeeding under Trump, are equally absurd.

Joe Biden doesn’t get why gun rights are a bulwark against tyranny

Oh, Plugs understands RKBA alright enough. He, like other elitists, can’t stand that it confounds their tyrannical desires for power so they have to try an discount its effectiveness. And it does have effect on them, or they wouldn’t be so adamant about gun bans.

As Joe Biden’s flailing campaign headed toward a fifth-place finish in New Hampshire, the former vice president managed to get off some doozies. Perhaps most memorable was the time he jokingly dismissed a student questioner at one of his events as a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier.” But the man who first held federal office during the Nixon administration also managed to reveal his ignorance about one of the key arguments for gun rights.

“Those who say ‘the tree of liberty is watered with the blood of patriots,’ a great line, well, guess what?” Biden lectured his audience in the “Live Free or Die” state. “The fact is, if you’re going to take on the government, you need an F-15 with Hellfire missiles. There is no way an AK-47 is going to take care of you.”

Even though we believe that the Biden candidacy is fated to pop soon, the argument he made is such a prevalent misrepresentation of why gun rights supporters view the Second Amendment as a bulwark against tyranny that it’s worth addressing.

Yes, of course, critics are right that civilian gun owners wouldn’t be able to overthrow completely a government willing to deploy a vast, expansive, and technologically elite military force. But that’s not the point. Our founders believed that every man has the fundamental right to resist tyranny.

Furthermore, one doesn’t need to defeat the government in armed civil war for an armed populace to still serve as a bulwark to tyranny. What matters is that citizens can put up a fight. An armed populace dramatically increases the cost of imposing and maintaining tyranny. Sure, perhaps a tyrannical future president could subdue a resistance, even in a country with more guns than people, such as America, but it would require months of bloody conflict, substantial military losses, and a protracted political nightmare.

Contrast this to a scenario in which an unarmed citizenry is completely at the government’s mercy, able to sweep in and crack down on its people with immediacy and ease. It’s clear that just imposing a higher cost to repression in and of itself is a check on would-be tyrants, even if the people couldn’t, in fact, overthrow the government successfully.

In China, the tyrannical government under Xi Jinping has launched a brutal crackdown on the Uighurs, rounding up people of the Muslim ethnic minority and putting them in reeducation camps. It’s an international outrage and human rights disaster. But it’s also one that would have been less likely to have happened if the 1 million Uighurs had AR-15s at home.

A similar scenario has unfolded in Russia, where Vladimir Putin’s regime has allowed a vicious, anti-gay purge to occur in the Chechnya region. Surely those innocent gay men facing electroshock torture would disagree with Biden’s assessment that a citizenry’s ability to offer armed resistance to tyranny isn’t worth protecting.

For a man who is running on his half-century of experience in politics, it’s amazing that Biden doesn’t understand the Second Amendment or its supporters.

Is Trump’s Unorthodoxy Becoming Orthodox?
The U.S. has become no better friend to an increasing number of allies and neutrals, and no worse an adversary to a shrinking group of enemies.

When candidate Donald Trump campaigned on calling China to account for its trade piracy, observers thought he was either crazy or dangerous.

Conventional Washington wisdom had assumed that an ascendant Beijing was almost preordained to world hegemony. Trump’s tariffs and polarization of China were considered about the worst thing an American president could do.

The accepted bipartisan strategy was to accommodate, not oppose, China’s growing power. The hope was that its newfound wealth and global influence would liberalize the ruling Communist government.

Four years later, only a naif believes that. Instead, there is an emerging consensus that China’s cutthroat violations of international norms were long ago overdue for an accounting.

China’s re-education camps, its Orwellian internal surveillance, its crackdown on Hong Kong democracy activists, and its secrecy about the deadly coronavirus outbreak have all convinced the world that China has now become a dangerous international outlier

Trump courted moderate Arab nations in forming an anti-Iranian coalition opposed to Iran’s terrorist and nuclear agendas. His policies utterly reversed the Obama administration’s estrangement from Israel and outreach to Tehran.

Last week, Trump nonchalantly offered the Palestinians a take-it-or-leave-it independent state on the West Bank, but without believing that a West Bank settlement was the key to peace in the entire Middle East.

In short, Trump’s Middle East recalibrations won few supporters among the bipartisan establishment.

But recently, Europeans have privately started to agree that more sanctions are needed on Iran, that the world is better off with Soleimani gone, and that the West Bank is not central to regional peace.

Iran has now become a pariah. U.S.-sponsored sanctions have reduced the theocracy to near-bankruptcy. Most nations understand that if Iran kills Americans or openly starts up its nuclear program, the U.S. will inflict disproportional damage on its infrastructure — a warning that at first baffled, then angered, and now has humiliated Iran.

In other words, there is now an entirely new Middle East orthodoxy that was unimaginable just three years ago.

Suddenly the pro-Iranian, anti-Western Palestinians have few supporters. Israel and a number of prominent Arab nations are unspoken allies of convenience against Iran. And Iran itself is seemingly weaker than at any other time in the theocracy’s history.

Stranger still, instead of demanding that the U.S. leave the region, many Middle Eastern nations privately seem eager for more of a now-reluctant U.S. presence.

For the last 20 years, much of the American orthodoxy had agreed with Europe that the increasingly anti-democratic, pan-continental, and borderless European Union was the remedy to all of Europe’s past 20th-century catastrophes.

As a result, American presidents did not do much when EU nations typically racked up large trade surpluses with the U.S., often a result of asymmetrical fees, tariffs, and fines.

The U.S. largely ignored the increasingly anti-democratic and anti-American tone of the EU.

Nor did Americans object much when lackadaisical European NATO nations habitually welched on their defense-spending commitments.

But then Trump again blew up more old assumptions.

NATO will now only survive if its members keep their word and meet their spending promises. An economically stagnant, oil-hungry, and top-heavy EU will have to make radical changes, or it will sink into irrelevance and eventually break apart.

Trump got little credit for these revolutionary changes because he is, after all, Trump — a wheeler-dealer, an ostentatious outsider, unpredictable in action, and not shy about rude talk.

But his paradoxical and successful policies — the product of conservative, anti-war, and pro-worker agendas — are gradually winning supporters and uniting disparate groups.

After all, the U.S. is beefing up its military but using it only sparingly. It hits back hard at enemies but does not hit first. For Trump, being conventional is dangerous; being unpredictable is far safer.

For all Trump’s tough talk, his ace in the hole is American soft power — based on a globally dominant economy, its global lead in the production of gas and oil, and an omnipresent cultural juggernaut.

The result of the new orthodoxy is that the U.S. has become no better friend to an increasing number of allies and neutrals, and no worse an adversary to a shrinking group of enemies. And yet Trump’s paradox is that America’s successful new foreign policy is as praised privately as it is caricatured publicly — at least for now.

 

 

 

FROM THE EDITOR: Can someone explain the gun control endgame?

End game? They want to disarm the population, because they want you dead.

With another legislative session in Olympia, there is another slate of gun control bills that have conservative Facebook whipped up in a frenzy. For the umpteenth year, gun control is among the top issues when it comes to politics and that probably will never change.

We hear the same tired stats that have been thrown out and modeled for everyone’s argument. While I do like to look at some sort of basis when it comes to political topics, it almost appears facts really don’t matter anymore because you can cherry pick basically any subset of data to support your view.

A quick glance at cable news and you might think we have a huge gun violence problem since it is always being talked about. However the top killers in the U.S. for 2019 is:

647,457 dead from heart disease
599,108 from cancer
169,936 from accidents.
160,201 from chronic lower respiratory diseases
146,383 from strokes
121,404 from Alzheimer’s disease
83,563 from Diabetes
55, 673 from influenza and pneumonia

But how often do people draw opposing lines in the diabetes debate, or talk about the accident lobby? When did cable news do a wall-to-wall special report on heart disease?

Some of these causes of death due to poor life choices and poor diets. “Eat healthier” isn’t going to transition into a viable bill on Capitol Hill. Our healthcare system is hopelessly tangled, and while cancer treatment keeps getting better, we don’t have a cure. No amount of legislation is going to stop cancer. We usually don’t even think about the flu or pneumonia but they are actually big killers

When it comes to violence, there are some weird things to consider. You have definitions and terms thrown out there that aren’t clearly defined. There is no accepted definition of “mass shooting,” for example.

While the 30K+ people died in shootings is thrown around a lot in the media, the breakdown of these stats paint a slightly different picture.

In 2016, nearly 23K of these deaths were from suicides, 14K came from homicides and just 71 of them came from mass shootings.

But again this breakdown is really never presented to us by the media or politicians when discussing gun control bills. There was a recent story saying 2019 had the most number of mass shootings on record resulting in the death of 211 people combined.

It’s tragic. It’s sad to see. I’m not condoning gun violence or shrugging it. But when things get put into perspective, blunt objects kill more people a year than guns, with 443 people killed. There were 1,515 people who died in a year from knives or cutting objects. There were 672 deaths from fists, feet and other personal weapons according to the FBI. The maligned firearm – the rifle – was around 400 people.

To me, it begs the question, what good will gun control laws do if it “may” prevent 400 deaths? That doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the 30K+ deaths a year. The handgun is the biggest perpetrator of shootings and a large majority of these are people taking their own lives – which is a completely different topic to unpack. While firearms make it easier, people have many other methods that could be used to take their own lives as well.

The reality and numbers smack into what is coming from bills in Olympia and how the argument is framed. Heck the recent rally of thousands of gun rights activists in Virginia was called a “White Nationalists gathering” and the rally was portrayed as something that could erupt in violence at any point. You know what happened? Nothing. People just showed that they want to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights.

I was asked “wouldn’t you feel uncomfortable if you were among that group?”

No. No one is going to mess with an armed group of people. Gun owners to me are the people who follow the laws, and I’ve never felt uncomfortable around 2nd Amendment enthusiasts. On the flip side, a recent shooting in Seattle showed that a criminal not following gun laws currently on the books had no problem getting a firearm — again proving our government’s inability to control guns except by making law-abiding gun owners criminals with sweeping rule changes.

I’ve said before, there is plenty of dialogue that needs to happen in this country. I, for one, would like to see more gun training, gun safety courses and more teaching moments. The anti-gun movement is so patently ignorant about how guns even operate, how can they govern them? More information needs to be spread.

But gun control narratives and misrepresentations get spun. It is a perfectly suited political football. Both sides can form their ranks, talk about how the other side is either taking away rights, crazy, out of touch or hellbent on turning America into a hellscape.

But why?

With no solution reached in decades of gun debate, what exactly are the goals? Prevent 400 gun deaths out of 38K? Take guns away from law abiding citizens while criminals can still acquire guns? I would just like someone to lay out their end goals as opposed to root for their team in the debate

Fighting off assaults on Second Amendment

Had 22,000 people showed up in Richmond, Virginia, to demand stronger gun control laws, it is a safe bet that proponents of them would pronounced the crowd to be conclusive proof most Americans want such restrictions.

But when a group estimated at that size demonstrated on Monday against new firearms ownership limits, some gun control advocates insisted the crowd was small — and evidence not many people worry about Second Amendment rights.

“I was prepared to see a whole lot more people show up than actually did, and I think it’s an indication that a lot of this rhetoric is bluster, quite frankly,” commented state Delegate Chris Hurst, a Democrat representing an area in western Virginia. In fairness to Hurst, it needs to be noted he has a personal stake in gun control; in 2015, his television journalist girlfriend was killed in shooting.

More than “bluster” was on display Monday in Richmond, however. As The Associated Press noted, those who turned out to protest what they view as infringements upon Second Amendment rights did so in spite of very cold weather. They came from throughout Virginia, as well as some other states.

Prior to the rally, state officials including Gov. Ralph Northam had expressed concern about white supremacists attending the event. Members of some such groups did attend, according to observers — but the rally passed peacefully. There was just one arrest, of a woman who broke a state law by wearing a mask that covered her face.

What happened Monday in Richmond was a demonstration that many law-abiding citizens — representing millions of other like-minded Americans — are concerned about politicians who continue assaulting the Second Amendment. Officials in the Old Dominion, as well as elsewhere, shoud take note of that.

Trump’s remarkable remarks at Davos.

President Donald John Trump’s address at Davos this morning was a lesson on governance by a man who entered politics less than 5 years ago.

Our president said, “America’s newfound prosperity is undeniable, unprecedented and unmatched anywhere in the world. America achieved this stunning turnaround not by making minor changes to a handful of policies, but by adopting a whole new approach centered entirely on the well-being of the American worker.”

That is incredible. A billionaire spoke to fellow billionaires, fellow world leaders, and academics not about the swell digs they were staying at or the lush cuisine they enjoyed.

President Trump talked about actually serving the people who entrusted them with power.

Why Unlocking More Oil and Gas is Good for Every American – And the Environment

What if gasoline prices doubled?  In other words, if you had to pay $5.00 per gallon, how much would that hurt your life?

That’s what happened during the 1970s oil crisis. The Middle East-led Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) weaponized oil by embargoing the United States twice. At that time, America lacked the capacity to make up for the lost oil. In 1978, the average price per gallon was around 60 cents.  By 1981, it reached $1.35.  The economy went into severe recession and millions lost their jobs.

But more recently, major unrest in the Middle East has not affected Americans as strongly as it used to.

On September 14, 2019, Iranian-backed militias attacked the world’s largest oil refinery, in Saudi Arabia. The attack cut the refinery’s capacity in half.

But despite some expert predictions, oil prices barely flinched. Americans saw no price spike at the pump.

Iran escalated the violence. Its proxies assaulted the American embassy in Baghdad just before New Year’s Day. This attack could have sent fuel prices through the roof, hurting our economy. But even after the United States responded by killing the Iranian terrorist general who orchestrated the attacks, fuel prices rose a little and then dropped back to where they were before the hostilities. If you blinked, you missed it.

The likelihood that Iran or any other bad actor can use violence or weaponize oil to hurt the global economy has dramatically receded. Why?

American energy leadership is why. As the chief regulator of oil and gas production in Texas, I am on the front lines of American energy production. And I am seeing a revolution that helps all Americans.

Our modern economy needs energy. From the smart phone in your hand to the lights in your home to the electric cars more Americans drive, we depend on affordable and reliable energy. We have vast proven oil reserves, we have the technology to extract it, and under the Trump administration we have the freedom to produce it and get it to market. Americans produce oil and gas more affordably and reliably than anyone else.

This affects everything for the better, including the environment. When I was building my business, I visited about half the world’s refineries. No one produces energy more cleanly than Americans do. Some point to flaring natural gas as an issue. Natural gas is a by-product of oil production. No one likes flaring, but producers are flaring just one to three percent of the total natural gas produced in Texas.

The solution to flaring is not to slow down oil production, or ban fossil fuels as some suggest, but to speed development of pipelines and other capacity to get natural gas to market. America has actually reduced emissions faster than any other industrialized country, thanks to the market-driven switch to natural gas. We just need to get more of it to market here and around the world.

The United States was once desperately dependent on foreign oil. In 1973 we imported about 35% of our oil from the Middle East. In 2019, the United States became a net oil exporter. Now, we produce 12 million barrels per day (5 million in Texas alone) and import less than 10% of our oil from the Middle East.

We have diversified our other foreign sources. When we were dependent on Middle Eastern oil, American forces had to stand cop on the beat to keep the oil flowing through chokepoints such as the Straits of Hormuz. This made us more likely to get into wars. Now our energy sources are more stable and reliable than ever.

Energy is one cost that no one in our modern economy can avoid. Unlocking America’s energy makes us safer and richer. For the teacher or nurse making $60,000 per year, at current gas prices you’re paying about $2,600 per year for gas if you commute 25 minutes to and from work every day. A 1973-size gas price spike would raise your costs significantly, to around $4,000 per year – just to drive to work. The price of the electricity to power your home would also rise significantly. You’d feel that pinch right in the wallet. I’m working every day to make sure that doesn’t happen.

What do Americans really want from oil and gas producers? Affordable and reliable energy produced as cleanly and safely as possible. How do we get that?

Drill baby drill. Right here in America.

Ryan Sitton is the Texas Railroad Commissioner. 

Virginia’s Second Amendment attack

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam apologized for his medical school blackface stunt, but he will have much more to apologize for if he signs into law a bill that attacks Virginia residents’ Second Amendment rights.

The measure is Senate Bill 16, which would ban “assault” firearms and certain firearm magazines.

Since Democrats have seized control of Virginia’s General Assembly, they are likely to push hard for strict gun control laws. Those laws will have zero impact on Virginia’s criminals and a heavy impact on Virginia’s law-abiding residents who own, or intend to own, semiautomatic weapons for hunting or their protection.

As a friend once explained to me, “I carry a gun because I can’t carry a cop.”

I am proud of my fellow Virginians’ response to the attack on their Second Amendment rights. Firearm owners in the state have joined with sheriffs to form Second Amendment sanctuary counties. That means local authorities will be required to protect Second Amendment rights in the face of any attempt by Virginia’s General Assembly to abrogate those rights.

Eighty-six counties – over 90 percent – in the Virginia commonwealth have adopted Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions. Spotsylvania County’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a resolution declaring that county police will not enforce state-level gun laws that violate Second Amendment rights.

Sheriff Chad Cubbage said, “Be it be known that the Page Sheriff hereby declares Page County, Virginia, as a ‘Second Amendment Sanctuary,’ and that the Page County Sheriff hereby declares its intent to oppose any infringement on the right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.”

Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins made a vow during a Board of Supervisors meeting, where the board unanimously agreed to declare the county a Second Amendment constitutional county, to “properly screen and deputize thousands of our law-abiding citizens to protect their constitutional right to own firearms.”

In an attempt to appease residents’ resistance, Northam suggested there would be a ban on only the sales of semiautomatic rifles. He would allow gun owners to keep their current AR-15s and similar rifles as long as they registered them. Otherwise, they must surrender the rifles.

I’d urge Virginians not to fall for the registration trick. Knowing who owns what weapons is the first step to confiscation. Northam further warned, “If we have constitutional laws on the books, and law enforcement officers are not enforcing those laws on the books, then there are going to be consequences, but I’ll cross that bridge if and when we get to it.”

Some Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill say that local police who do not enforce gun control laws should face prosecution and even threats of the use of the National Guard.

Virginians must heed the words and capture the spirit of their two most distinguished residents, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions. These resolutions referred to the federal government, but are just as applicable to state governments in principle.

They said: “Resolved, That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government … and whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”

Too many Americans view the Second Amendment as granting Americans the right to own firearms to go hunting and for self-protection. But the framers of our Constitution had no such intent in mind. James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 46 wrote that the Constitution preserves “the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … [where] the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote: “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”

Similar quotations about our Founders’ desire for Americans to be armed against the possible abuses of government can be found at https://walterewilliams.com/quotations/arms/.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

 

BOTTOM LINE: Teachers who wish to carry guns and pass all requirements should be able to

WASHINGTON (SBG) – The State of Florida recently joined eight other states in allowing some teachers, staff, and coaches to carry guns in schools.

This effort in Florida is called the Guardian program. School districts can opt-out and teachers are not required to carry guns.

Those who do want to carry a gun have to apply, pass a background check, a psychological evaluation, and complete more than 140 hours of training.

Critics of the program worry about both how effective it will be and about its safety. I believe that school safety is an unsolved problem that requires bold solutions.

We have tried making schools gun-free zones and that clearly has not worked. The Guardian program makes sense. We trust teachers to care for our children.

And if some teachers who feel comfortable and satisfy extensive requirements want to step up and protect our kids, we should thank and celebrate them.

According to the FBI, in the five years between 2014 and 2018, there were at least 19 instances of citizens stopping or repelling active shooters.

That shows that responsible, armed Americans are able to stand up to the evil in our society.

Here’s the Bottom Line: For me as a parent school safety is not just an issue, it is the issue. Enlisting the help of properly trained and credentialed teachers in keeping our kids safe in school is good, common sense.

Former CIA official on whistleblower: ‘How could this be an intelligence matter?’

Fred Fleitz, president of the Center for Security Policy, served in 2018 as deputy assistant to the president and to the chief of staff of the National Security Council. He previously held national-security jobs with the CIA, the DIA, the Department of State, and the House Intelligence Committee staff. He remarks on the whistleblower complaint.

I am troubled by the complaint and wonder how an intelligence officer could file it over something a president said to a foreign leader. How could this be an intelligence matter?

It appears likely to me that this so-called whistleblower was pursuing a political agenda.

I am very familiar with transcripts of presidential phone calls since I edited and processed dozens of them when I worked for the NSC. I also know a lot about intelligence whistleblowers from my time with the CIA.

My suspicions grew this morning when I saw the declassified whistleblowing complaint. It appears to be written by a law professor and includes legal references and detailed footnotes. It also has an unusual legalistic reference on how this complaint should be classified.

From my experience, such an extremely polished whistleblowing complaint is unheard of. This document looks as if this leaker had outside help, possibly from congressional members or staff.

Moreover, it looks like more than a coincidence that this complaint surfaced and was directed to the House Intelligence Committee just after Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), an outspoken opponent of President Trump, expressed numerous complaints in August 2019 accusing President Trump of abusing aid to Ukraine to hurt Joe Biden. This includes an August 28 tweet that closely resembled the whistleblowing complaint.

House Republicans need to ask the whistleblower under oath whether he spoke to the press or Congress about his complaint.

Also very concerning to me is how the complaint indicates intelligence officers and possibly other federal employees are violating the rules governing presidential phone calls with foreign leaders.

The content and transcripts of these calls are highly restricted. The whistleblower makes clear in his complaint that he did not listen to a call in question, nor did he read the transcript — he was told about the call by others. If true, intelligence officers have grossly violated the rules as well as the trust placed on them to protect this sensitive information.

I refuse to believe that the leaking, timing and presentation of this complaint is coincidence. I don’t think the American people will buy this either.

I’m more worried, however, that this latest instance of blatant politicization of intelligence by Trump haters will do long term damage to the relationship between the intelligence community and US presidents for many years to come.

The Second Amendment is under siege

The White House has announced new plans on gun control. House Democrats are pushing another universal background check bill, and high-profile Republicans in both chambers of Congress are campaigning for a new federal grant program that would incentivize states to pass “red flag” laws. It is not overstating the case to say that there has never been a greater threat to due process and the Second Amendment.

“What we can’t do is fail to pass something,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, when asked about last month’s shootings in El Paso, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; and Philadelphia.

Statements like this should infuriate the American people for multiple reasons. Never in American history have we seen our Second Amendment and due process rights under siege from so many different directions. In the midst of such a volatile and unprecedented situation, careless remarks like these from our nation’s leaders cannot be tolerated.

This is why, earlier this month, 40 of my colleagues in the South Carolina General Assembly joined me in a letter to President Trump and Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott urging them to address the numerous factors that are being ignored on this issue, including the erosion of our civil liberties the dangers of gun-free zones.

Academic studies roundly demonstrate that more laws simply will not prevent mass shootings. On the contrary, the key to curtailing gun violence lies not in destroying our Constitutional liberties but in recognizing the sacred right of every law-abiding American to self-defense, both from violent crime and the threat of a tyrannical government.

Likewise, 94% of mass shootings actually occur in gun-free zones, according to research conducted by the Crime Prevention Center. Multiple studies elsewhere point to states and cities with the toughest anti-gun laws (such as Chicago and Washington, D.C.) as having the highest crime rates, rather than the other way around.

The Founding Fathers warned us to never trade liberty for security, but that is exactly what is happening before our very eyes. When law-abiding citizens are left defenseless against murderers, the last thing Congress should do is just “pass something”.

Our letter also points out the role the mainstream media holds in sensationalizing gun violence and setting a false narrative that violent crimes are on the rise. Just like the notion that gun-free zones make us safer, this couldn’t be any further from the truth. In fact, data gathered by the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate that violent crime in the United States has steadily decreased since 1993.

I have taken an oath before God to defend the Constitution and am proud of my fellow legislators for joining me on this defining issue. Even with such a stirring display of unity, however, vigilance and courage will be demanded of us as the federal government’s crusade against our Constitutional rights continues.

To the elected officials across the U.S. who still believe in liberty: Now is not the time to stop fighting. President Calvin Coolidge warned that “it is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.” The inevitable slippery slope that follows when government neglects due process is one that we cannot afford to fall down. I hope that this attempt to further destroy our liberties fails.

Stewart Jones, a Republican, is a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, currently serving on the Medical, Municipal, and Public Affairs committee.

Why AR-15s Are The Plastic Straws Of The Gun World

How did AR-15s become the plastic straws of the gun world? It’s simple: Demagogues need scapegoats. Yet just as banning plastic straws won’t make a dent in the ocean-polluting plastics problem, banning “assault rifles” (which aren’t) won’t save even one life.

It’s tragic how, just like faddish teenagers playing a dangerous or stupid social-media-driven prank, so-called adults go on misguided, media-driven, lynch-mob kicks. Remember when SUVs were demonized as planet killers approximately 15 to 20 years ago? Some environmentalists claimed that SUV drivers were essentially “hate group” members, and other vandalism-crazy greenies would, ironically, set fire to the vehicles to combat global warming. Yet SUVs currently appear more popular than ever, and all is quiet on the gas-guzzler front. What happened? The demagogues and their dupes have moved on to a different neurotic fixation.

Now the suburban soccer mom can drive her Panzer-size SUV (by the by, back in the “day” they were called “trucks” — ah, marketing) content in the “feeling” that she’s saving the environment because she supports banning plastic straws. Never mind that doing so likely won’t save even one marine mammal, since the U.S. is responsible for only one percent of ocean-polluting plastics, and straws account for just 0.025 percent of that. Never mind that anti-”strawism” began with erroneous claims in a nine-year-old’s science project (ugh, beam me up, Scotty). The lynch mob must be fed, and plastic straw users, well, really suck….

Joining straws in the dock, and giving new meaning to demonizing the one percent, are Assault Rifles™. Not only are they used in, approximately, just one percent of homicides, they aren’t even “assault rifles,” a term that had always referred to weapons that could be fired fully automatic or in more than one way (fully auto, three-shot bursts, etc). Now the term is being applied to semi-automatic (one trigger pull, one shot) rifles with certain cosmetic features (a military “look”), which is a bit like putting a Porsche body on a Yugo chassis and claiming the car will win races.

But, hey, as anti-gun crusader Josh Sugarmann once put it, these “weapons’ menacing looks,” coupled with the public’s confusion — “anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun — can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.” Yeah, it’s a con.

That said, AR-15s are used in an inordinate percentage of high-profile mass shootings. But believing that outlawing them would reduce these incidents’ frequency makes as much sense as believing that banning the BMW 4 Series — which AutoBlog.com lists as the car most likely to be involved in a crash — would reduce the accident rate.

Quite apropos, AutoBlog’s subtitle boldly reminds readers, “Remember: People cause crashes, not cars.” The point is that outlawing a vehicle wouldn’t take the kind of people who drive it off the road; they’d just get into accidents in a different vehicle.

This point is even more relevant for AR-15-category rifles. The AR-15 is commonly used in mass shootings for two simple reasons: It’s the most popular rifle in America.

And it looks cool.

In reality, though, such a weapon isn’t the best choice for committing mass shootings, which generally involve attacking soft targets at close range. More effective would be a semi-automatic, 12-gauge shotgun or even a pump-action one (and a shotgun was used in the Aurora, Colorado, shooting in 2012).

In other words, not only would mass shooters simply choose a different weapon if AR-15-type rifles were somehow unavailable, but it’s arguable that the rifle’s criminalization could push them toward more effective weaponry.

Speaking of which, presidential contender Irish Bob O’Rourke said in March, echoing many, “I just don’t think that we need to sell any more weapons of war into this public.” He’d have been more accurate if he’d stopped after his first four words. But the pitch is rhetorically effective, conjuring up images of flesh-eviscerating machine-gun fire.

Yet leaving aside the common argument that allowing Americans the same firearms the military uses was the Second Amendment’s actual intent, first note that the AR-15 was never a standard issue US military rifle. In fact, while the M-16 — which uses the same platform but isn’t limited to semi-auto fire — was, it was supplanted a while back by the M-4; this, in turn, is set to be replaced by an entirely different rifle that will likely even use different, more effective ammunition (critics have long bemoaned the M-16’s/M-4’s relative lack of stopping power).

Moreover, how many guns weren’t designed as “weapons of war”? Bolt-action rifles were once state-of-the-art weapons of war. So was the flintlock. Go back even further, and clubs were weapons of war, and many people are still killed with them today. Should we outlaw baseball bats?

In fact, far from devastating, the AR-15’s standard round is small caliber (the same diameter as a .22) and has the second least power of the 41 cartridges found on this Rifle Cartridge Killing Power List page (note: When loaded with 5.56mm ammo, the power is somewhat greater but still relatively lacking). In other words, you can acquire any number of hunting rifles far more devastating than an AR.

This, mind you, is why some states have prohibited the AR-15’s use in deer hunting; its relatively weak round may not kill the animal, but simply send it off wounded and suffering.

It’s also why the nine-year-old girl in the video below could fire the weapon with ease. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDdHj6iCP0k

In contrast, I’ve seen a 240-pound man (who wasn’t prepared for the extreme recoil) almost knocked over by a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with a magnum shell.

So we can outlaw AR-15-type rifles if it makes us feel better, but just as banning plastic straws won’t save marine life, it won’t save even one human life. For this reason, it would also be followed by another scapegoated gun targeted for criminalization. Note here that Britain’s deadliest ever mass shooting, the Dunblane massacre in 1996, inspired sweeping anti-firearms laws — after being committed with handguns.

Oh, and London just surpassed N.Y.C. in homicides last year.

This is unsurprising since, as Professor Thomas Sowell illustrated, there’s no correlation whatsoever between stricter gun laws and lower murder rates.

This is why, more to fear than guns are demagogues — shooting off their assault mouths.

Commentary: A gun-control call for conservatives who cherish the Second Amendment

As I emailed him:
#1
The 2nd amendment isn’t about hunting.
#2
NO. Your move.

Today we must begin with a rather unusual request: Will all law-and-order liberals kindly butt out, just this once? We don’t need your help on this one.

We are talking today only to the millions of Americans who strongly support conservative principles, cherish the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment and admire the iconic leadership of Ronald Reagan and Sen. Barry Goldwater………….

Reagan:
“I do not believe in taking away the right of the citizen for sporting, for hunting and so forth, or for home defense. But I do believe that an AK-47 is not a sporting weapon or needed for defense of a home.” ………..

Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican presidential standard-bearer who famously posed with his favorite rifle in ads that declared “I’m the NRA,” was an Air Force Reserve major general who opposed selling military-styled assault weapons to civilians………….

“I’ve never used an automatic or semi-automatic for hunting,” Goldwater said. “There’s no need to. They have no place in anybody’s arsenal. If any SOB can’t hit a deer with one shot, he should quit shooting.”………….

Close the background-check loopholes (like the one that mass killer in gun-proud West Texas just used). Ban bump-stock modifications and huge capacity magazines that transform civilian guns into battlefield-ready weapons. Ban the manufacture, sale and civilian ownership of military-styled assault weapons (and yes, let’s buy back assault weapons to keep us safe).

Finally, when gun lobbyists and their puppets push you to settle for only fixing background checks and nothing more, tell them this test about saving our family’s lives has only one correct answer: All of the above.

Martin Schram, an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service, is a veteran Washington journalist, author and TV documentary executive. Readers may send him email amartin.schram@gmail.com.

Farmers prosper in spite of Trump’s trade battle with China

in spite of‘?
But anyway, when you’ve lost The Hill, noted for being left of center…..

Anti-Trumpers agree: The president’s trade battle with China is hurting our economy and, in particular, America’s farmers. We are told that the tariff tiffs have caused a collapse in U.S. agricultural exports to China, and consequent heartbreak in our heartland.

It isn’t true.

As with most criticisms lodged against the Trump White House, this oft-repeated narrative is way overblown. Turns out, far from suffering what CNBC recently described as “a devastating year for farmers” the farmers of America overall are doing quite well.

The Department of Agriculture recently forecast that net farm income will rise nearly 5 percent this year, to $88 billion. That growth comes on top of increases in both 2017 and 2018 and is, just for the record, faster than the overall growth of the economy.

For sure, times could be better. The forecast for this year means that real net farm income would come in 36 percent below its peak of $136.5 billion in 2013 and slightly below its 2000-18 average ($90.1 billion). Farmers suffered a severe drop in total revenues during the Obama years, collapsing from $484 billion in 2013 to $412 billion in 2016. Weirdly, I don’t remember the media paying much attention.

Not all farmers are expected to enjoy rising income this year. Commodities receipts are forecast to decrease $2.4 billion, or less than 1 percent, to $371 billion, while sales of animals and animal products should climb modestly.

And that dreadful soybean collapse? The DOA is estimating that revenues for all crops will decline $3 billion, or under 2 percent, thanks to crimped soybean sales. But payments to farmers under the administration’s Market Facilitation Program, in addition to other subsidies, will rise almost $6 billion this year, more than offsetting the fall in crop receipts.

Perhaps most startling, the DOA forecasts that the average farm will see net cash income increase more than 11 percent this year, “the first annual increase after 4 consecutive years of declines.” Moreover, the median income of farm households will be up almost 4 percent this year.

At the same time, farmers are getting richer; the net worth of the farm sector is likely to rise slightly this year, to $2.7 trillion, mostly because of higher real estate values.

In short, it turns out that as a whole our farmers are doing ok, or maybe even better than ok.