Why a Trauma Kit is essential and what it should contain

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Tiny SquirrelGun shows are great places to meet kindred spirits and at the last one I went to I met David Dietrich who is co-owner of GetReady! Emergency Planning Center, getemergencyready.com. He was selling a fantastic range of Trauma items (although I admit he got my attention with a small pack on his stall labeled “Vasectomy Kit.”) Anyway, I asked him to come up with something that would really be of use to you guys and he produced a doozy. Check this list out. Thanks David, this is really useful. 

Most people likely think about equipment for trained specialists in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) when they hear “Trauma Kit.”  Other terms used are “Blow-Out Kit,” and “Individual First Aid Kit” (IFAK).  However, they would be wrong.  Such kits are instead designed to be used by the first responder, whether he is a police officer, infantryman, or just a Good Samaritan.

A Trauma Kit is a far cry from a typical First Aid Kit.  While the latter is designed to support minor injuries and medical issues, the former is essential for saving someone’s life in the next ten minutes.  That means such kits are focused on major bleeding from gunshots, stabbings, and amputations.  In addition, they address breathing obstructions from anaphylaxis or massive tissue damage.

For the purposes of post-disaster preparedness, a Trauma Kit provides coverage where there will likely be no medical services for some time.  That means we will be on our own.  We ourselves may be not only the first responder, but also the last.  So, acquiring and learning to use the components of such a kit is a critical capability.  This is one reason why so many military combatants have survived serious wounds in our recent wars.

One axiom is indisputable – all bleeding stops.  The question becomes, how it will stop?  Do you want to let it stop on its own, after the casualty has bled out, or do you want to play an active role, stopping the bleeding yourself in sufficient time for the casualty to become an asset once again?  The Trauma Kit provides a means to that end, through various included devices.

jbc-corporation-medical-assault-kit
Image: Pictured are the JBC Corporation Medical Assault Kit, costing over $200, and the GetReady! Field Trauma Kit, listing at $99.95.

So, what does a Trauma Kit look like?  First of all, it is relatively small, easily carried on a belt, armor plate, or in a backpack.  Secondly, it does not usually contain the items we expect to see in First Aid Kits.  Rather, they include tourniquets, pressure bandages, blood clotting agent, occlusive dressing, tension pneumothorax needle, and nasopharyngeal airway. There may be a few other odds and ends as well, but those are the basics.

 

Let’s take a look at components of a trauma kit, to better understand why they are used:

 

tourniquets
Image: Pictured are rubber tubing, RATS, SWAT-T, and CAT-T.  Others to consider are are SOF-TT, and TK-4.  They range in price from approximately $6 to $32 each.

Tourniquet.  There are many designs and brand available, from simple rubber tubing to complex windlass or ratcheting designs.  But, they all have one purpose – to constrict or eliminate blood flow to the bleeding extremity.  While these used to be a tool of last resort, military experience has proven their worth in saving lives as the tool of first choice.  If properly applied and combined with other devices, they can be safely removed later.

 

compression-bandages
Pictured are the H&H Medical H-Bandage and the ubiquitous “Israeli Bandage.”  They range in price from approximately $6 to $15 each.

Compression (Pressure) Bandage.  There are several commercial brands out there, typically based on the original Israeli Bandage.  As the tried and true method for staunching blood flow is pressure and elevation, their purpose is to maintain pressure at the injury site, as well as provide a clotting medium.  This is accomplished through an integrated dressing and pressure device.  The hands are then left free to perform other functions. Here are some examples of commercially available Pressure Bandages:

 

Pictured are the Celox Hemostatic Granules,  QuikClot Combat Gauze, and QuikClot Clotting Sponge.  They range in price from approximately $13 to $42 each.
Pictured are the Celox Hemostatic Granules,  QuikClot Combat Gauze, and QuikClot Clotting Sponge.  They range in price from approximately $13 to $42 each.

Hemostatic (Clotting) Agent.  There are mainly two commercial brands out there, found in three forms.  These are QuikClot and Celox, using sponges, gauze wraps, or poured granules.  The key component is either a clay mineral (kaolin), used in QuikClot, or a crustacean derivative (chitosan), used in Celox.  Both types interact with blood plasma to rapidly form clots.  They work independently of blood platelets or thinning drugs.

 

 

Pictured are the H&H Medical Wound Seal Kit and Compact Wound Seal.  Other companies also produce simple and valved options.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $30 each.
Pictured are the H&H Medical Wound Seal Kit and Compact Wound Seal.  Other companies also produce simple and valved options.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $30 each.

Occlusive Dressing (aka Chest Seal).  Several brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are designed to block inhalation through the thoracic cavity, rather than normally, into the lungs.  If such a condition, known as a “sucking chest wound,” is allowed to continue, the lung on that side will likely collapse, putting pressure on the aorta and heart, resulting in painful breathing and associated circulatory problems.

 

 

 

Pictured are the BD Angiocath and the H&H Medical Tension Pneumothorax Needle.  Enhanced versions are also available.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $43 each.
Pictured are the BD Angiocath and the H&H Medical Tension Pneumothorax Needle.  Enhanced versions are also available.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $43 each.

Tension Pneumothorax Needle (TPN).  Several brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are designed to release air and/or fluid pressure in the external thoracic cavity that may lead to the same conditions described under Occlusive Dressing above.  So, this device is for closed, versus open chest wounds.  The TPN is probably the most difficult of all the Trauma Kit devices to apply, and should by studied and practiced.

 

Naso-Pharyngeal Airway (NPA)

Pictured is the Rusch Robertazzi Nasopharyngeal Airway.  Packaged with water-soluble lubricant, they range in price from approximately $5 to $15 each.
Pictured is the Rusch Robertazzi Nasopharyngeal Airway.  Packaged with water-soluble lubricant, they range in price from approximately $5 to $15 each.

Numerous brands are used by the military and other agencies. They are used to maintain breathing in the event of an airway blockage due to anaphylaxis or tissue damage.  They are basically comprised of a stiffened rubber tube, beveled on one end and enlarged into a bell shape on the other.  Assisted by accompanying water-based lubricant, they are fully inserted into a nostril up to the bell.

compressed-gauzeCompressed Gauze.  Numerous brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are used primarily to absorb and aid in the clotting of blood.  Almost always comprised of cotton, they are the most versatile Trauma Kit component.  And it cannot be overstated that you can never have enough gauze.  Additional uses include absorbing other bodily fluids, covering burns and lacerations, wrapping dressings, and securing splints.

 

Trauma Shears

Pictured are 3.5” and 5.5” light duty Trauma Sheers from Rescue Essentials and Ronson.  Other, more robust sheers are available.  They range in price from approximately $3 to $50 each.
Pictured are 3.5” and 5.5” light duty Trauma Sheers from Rescue Essentials and Ronson.  Other, more robust sheers are available.  They range in price from approximately $3 to $50 each.

Numerous brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are used primarily to cut away clothing and other accessories (eg bra underwire) to quickly access the point of injury.  Their unique design provides a safe and easy method to cut through almost anything, including coins!  The major take-away regarding arterial bleeding is that saving clothing comes in a distant second to saving a life.

 

 

 

 Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.

Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.

Medical (Duct) Tape.  This ubiquitous resource really comes into its own in a medical kit.  Not only can it be used to secure bandages and dressings, but it also has applications for foot care (eg prevention and treatment of blisters), wrapping splints, making snow goggles, and repairing medical gear and other items.  Mini rolls, primarily for storage purposes, are the best configuration.  Don’t leave home without them!

 

 

Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.
Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.

Medical Gloves.  These are included in Trauma Kits primarily to protect the responder, not the patient.  Bodily fluids can carry many dangerous diseases, and having additional barriers during treatment may keep the responder from becoming a casualty.  In addition, they may preclude the need for further cleansing following treatment.  Simple glove removal and disposal may be sufficient action under tactical conditions.

Marking Pen

Pictured are mini Sharpies.  Full-sized versions can also be used.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $3 each.
Pictured are mini Sharpies.  Full-sized versions can also be used.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $3 each.

This is important not only for recording information on a Casualty Card, but also for marking other information, such as the date and time of a tourniquet application.  Such marking can be on the device itself, or even on the forehead of the patient.  There are other uses for such pens, such as taking notes on environmental conditions, and descriptions of agents (eg animals, plants, suspects) involved.

 

Pictured are the H&H Medical standard and Marine Combat Casualty Care Cards.  They range in price from approximately $2 to $4 each.
Pictured are the H&H Medical standard and Marine Combat Casualty Care Cards.  They range in price from approximately $2 to $4 each.

Casualty Response Documentation Tool (CRDT).

This is an event recording card, containing information describing patient and injury, treatment (including drugs) administered, mental state, circulation, respiration, mechanisms of injury (MOIs), medical conditions, and overall patient medical status, from routine to critical.  It’s always good to keep track of what’s happening in such cases, for reference prior to future treatment.

 

 Pictured are medical pouches from Eagle Industries and Maxpedition.  Another common brand is Rothco.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $45 each.

Pictured are medical pouches from Eagle Industries and Maxpedition.  Another common brand is Rothco.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $45 each.

Pouch.  Typical military kit dimensions are 8 inches long by 6 inches wide by four inches deep when full.  It uses the Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) to fasten to Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment (MOLLE) configured backpacks.  Made of rugged Cordura nylon, this Pouch can be used under adverse environmental and tactical conditions.  It should be readily accessible for immediate use.

 

Other Components.  A number of other items may be included in a Trauma Kit for various reasons.  For example, if the owner would like to access the kit for minor injuries, and not dip into important trauma components, then adhesive bandages may be included.  In addition, medications (eg aspirin) should be considered.  Sterile wipes and water for cleaning wounds, flashlight for nighttime, and CPR shield round out the list.

 Pictured are a CPR Shield, regular strength Aspirin, Moist Towelettes, Sterile Water, Penlight, Adhesive Bandages, and Gauze Pads.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $5 each.

Pictured are a CPR Shield, regular strength Aspirin, Moist Towelettes, Sterile Water, Penlight, Adhesive Bandages, and Gauze Pads.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $5 each.

_________________________________________________________________

 

David Dietrich is co-owner of GetReady! Emergency Planning Center, getemergencyready.com. He has been preparing for uncertainty since he was a youth, recognizing that backpacking is about smaller, lighter, and multi-capability.  His experiences in the Boy Scouts and military have given him an appreciation for the real meaning of the Scout Motto – “Be Prepared.”  Today, David runs a disaster preparedness business that is focused on the creed – helping you help yourself.  It is about delivering resources, training, education, and consulting in preparation for a failure of civility.  Prepared people are survivors.

 

 

 

 

What you didn’t learn in Conceal Carry Training. And how this information could change your life.

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Image: Target shooting, Kelly McCarthy. Now’s the time to think about the consequences of pulling the trigger in a defensive situation

Pulling that trigger is something you need to have thought about BEFORE you ever have to do it. Could you shoot a kid? No? Could you shoot a kid with a gun aimed at your wife? Maybe? Could you shoot a pregnant woman? Never? Could you shoot a pregnant woman with a gun to your kid’s head. Would you shoot a gunman threatening a clerk in a convenience store if you’re safely hiding at the back and in no immediate danger? Could you shoot your wife? Are you going to risk your life for a stranger? Are you willing to endure the court case? The massive hit to your finances? To even, possibly, have to move town because people won’t believe that what you did was necessary. So many ifs, right?

Here are the steps that COULD follow a defensive shooting:

  • Shots Fired
  • 911 Call
  • First Responders
  • Local law enforcement supervisors
  • Detectives – In some places the ADA will be dispatched
  • Investigation/Questioning
  • Prosecutor Determination
  • Trial Phase
  • Sentencing
  • Appeal Process
  • Civil Trial

See what I mean. Being the hero can get you in a whole world of trouble? That’s why I am probably only going to draw and shoot if I’m saving someone with the same last name as me.

Reporting a defensive shooting

So you pulled the trigger. You need to prepare for how you would report a defensive shooting. Rule No. 1. Don’t incriminate yourself. The 911 operator is not your friend but is trained to keep asking questions which are being recorded. Keep it simple.

  • Dial 911
  • Report there’s been a shooting.
  • Give them your name and the address you’re at
  • Tell them who is in the house/building. (Maybe send the kids next door if they are present.)
  • Describe any injuries and whether you need EMS
  • Describe yourself, your clothes. Put your weapon on the floor or in clear sight. (Unless you are using it to subdue a criminal.)
  • If you are insured with an organization that provides an attorney, call them. If you have an attorney call them.
  • Tell the police the bare minimum. Be cooperative but spare the details. Say only:
    • Officer, I was in fear of my life/my family member was threatened and at risk of losing their life. (You would not pull the trigger to save property. The fallout is NOT worth it for something insured or inanimate.)
    • I will sign the complaint.
    • Be helpful and show them what the assailant used to attack you.
    • Introduce any witnesses.
    • Tell them you are invoking the Fifth Amendment until you have had time to talk to your attorney and calm yourself down. You should say you’ll be back within 24 hours to talk to them. Be prepared to be arrested. And be prepared to spend a long time being questioned.
    • Remember to say: “If he/she survives I want to press charges.” Remind everyone that you’re not the aggressor here. 

Why did the turkey cross the road?

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Our Marines must be peeing themselves! (Laughing!)

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5 Environmental predictions that were epically wrong (Thank goodness!)

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Promoters of the Green New Deal know that the only way for their radical agenda to become reality is if Americans buy into the wildest claims of climate extremists.

It’s clear that some of the most enthusiastic supporters of this radical agenda are young people.

This was on full display in the now viral video of a meeting between Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and a group of children from the Sunrise Movement.

Perhaps children and young Americans are more likely to buy into the extreme environmentalist doomsaying due to the fact that they weren’t around for the laughably wrong predictions of the past that never came true.

Panics over looming environmental and climate apocalypse have been with us for a long time. Thomas Malthus famously predicted in his 1798 book “An Essay on the Principle of Population” that population growth would overtake food supply and mass starvation would result unless population controls were implemented.

Of course, his predictions were utterly wrong, since free enterprise greatly increased the food supply as the population increased.

The modern environmentalist movement has picked up a Malthusian ethos of its own and, when combined with the politics of climate change, has produced numerous egregiously wrong predictions about global trends. 

Here are five of the biggest misses:

1. Population Bomb to Cause Global Famine by 2000

The first Earth Day, in 1970, was filled with hyperbole and exaggerations about mankind’s future. Much of the craziness was unearthed in a remarkable exposein 2000 by Reason contributor Ronald Bailey. 

One of the most common ideas, in a throwback to Malthus, was that the global food supply simply couldn’t keep up with population growth.

Peter Gunter, a professor at North Texas State University—now named the University of North Texas—wrote about how mass starvation was in the world’s near-term future. Gunter spoke in language that should be all too familiar to those who have paid attention to the debate over climate change in modern times:

Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions. … By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.

Ah, yes, all the scientists agree that the world will end by the year 2000.

Of course, this didn’t come to pass. In fact, a remarkable reduction in poverty has occurred around the globe since 1970. A chart published by Human Progress demonstrated just how dramatically global hunger has decreased in the past few decades.

Thanks, capitalism.

2. Air Pollution Will Be So Bad That City Dwellers Will Have to Wear Gas Masks

Another grand prediction at Earth Day 1970 (it was full of doozies) was that the air pollution problem common to many American cities would continue to get exponentially worse without widespread government control of the American way of life.

One particularly extreme claim came from the January 1970 edition of Life magazine, as quoted by Bailey:

Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support … the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution [and] by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.

Again, such remarkable accuracy from these all-knowing scientists.

This didn’t happen, in part due to federal, state, and local restrictions on emissions. But it had much more to do with the general societal response to the problem. 

Wealthier, more prosperous societies simply have more means and more of an inclination to make trade-offs to enjoy cleaner air. Free societies such as the United States found ways to reduce pollutants as a means to improve quality of life.

It’s very different in countries like, say, China, where pollution in some cities is unbearable due to the developing nature of the country combined with the authoritarian nature of government, which is more preoccupied with growth in gross domestic product than the comfort and well-being of individual citizens.

The fact is, free societies began solving this problem long ago, and our cities have become much better, not worse.

3.  Entire Nations Could Be Wiped Out by 1999

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., a self-avowed socialist, recently claimed that the world would end in 12 years if we don’t radically transform our economy to combat climate change.

The decade-long window of pronounced doom seems to be a favorite among climate alarmists.

A recently resurfaced report from the Associated Press shows how an almost identical, but more precise, prediction was once made by a high-ranking United Nations official in 1989.

AP reported: “A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.”

Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program, claimed in 1989 that human beings had a mere 10 years to stop the effects of global warming.

Brown said: “Ecological refugees will become a major concern, and what’s worse is you may find that people can move to drier ground, but the soils and the natural resources may not support life. Africa doesn’t have to worry about land, but would you want to live in the Sahara?”

Brown pronounced doom for Canada and the United States, where the entire East Coast would be flooded and conditions would be like the 1930s Dust Bowl.

But fear not, Brown did offer hope to humanity: He also predicted that the Soviet Union might produce “bumper crops” during this time.

4.  Ice Caps Will Melt Away

Predictions about the polar ice caps melting have been common. Dramatic pictures of polar bears floating on tiny icebergs have been some of the iconic images of the climate change movement.

Former Vice President Al Gore said at a conference in 2009 that a scientist predicted a “75 percent chance that the entire polar ice cap during some of the summer months could be completely ice free within five to seven years.”

In 2014, the ice caps were still there. In fact, it’s 2019 and the ice caps are still there. 

Gore wasn’t the only one to make such bold prognostications about the future of Arctic ice.

In his book “A Farewell to Ice,” Peter Wadhams, a professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, predicted that polar ice in the Arctic would be gone by mid-decade. 

Not only have the ice caps survived these predictions of doom, but they have occasionally grown in size. Between 2012 and 2016, Arctic ice increased from an average of 2.2 million square miles to 3.3 million square miles, according to The Telegraph. 

5.  The Coming Ice Age

In 1958, Betty Friedan, one of the leading thinkers of radical, modern feminism, wrote an article in Harper’s magazine describing the “coming ice age.”

It seems the mixing of climate science and radical left-wing politics is nothing new.

Friedan based her article on the work of two scientists, geophysicist Maurice Ewing, director of Columbia University’s Lamont Geological Observatory, and geologist-meteorologist William Donn.

She explained how these scientists foresaw American port cities being drowned by rising oceans, and how a giant glacier would cover Europe and North America. The scientists described conditions by which the earth would dramatically warm and then cool, sending us into another ice age. 

These scientists were more cautious in their predictions than others, but this didn’t stop Friedan from speculating that, based on their calculations about the rate of warming, a layman could conclude that “the Arctic Ocean will be open and the Ice Age [will] begin in another twenty years.”

As Iain Calder wrote in Newsmax, this was just part of a tide of predictions about how a looming ice age soon was going to plunge the world into a deep freeze. Calder wrote:

Between 1973 and 1977 the great Time magazine had a number of blaring Page One covers like: ‘The Cooling of America,’ ‘The Big Freeze’ and ‘How to Survive the Coming Ice Age’ (with a subhead: ‘Things You Can Do to Make a Difference.’)

Needless to say, despite the chilly winter, the ice caps are still with us and the new ice age hasn’t come.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from all of these predictions, it’s not that scientists are always wrong or that we shouldn’t be good stewards of the environment. Instead, we should treat extreme predictions with skepticism, especially if they mean upending our way of life.

We should be particularly suspicious of schemes such as the Green New Deal, which would entirely derail the American economy and place it under the power of government.

One way or another, free societies will do a better job of adapting to any change in climate than the Venezuelas of the world, where the folly of man causes starvation and not natural disaster.

@JarrettStepman  Jarrett Stepman is an editor and commentary writer for The Daily Signal and co-host of “The Right Side of History” podcast. Send an email to Jarrett. Read the original article here.

Bayonet drops through Guard’s foot. He doesn’t miss a beat.

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Man alive, these guards are amazing!

The Tomb of the Unknowns, also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, is located in Arlington National Cemetery and is guarded by specially selected soldiers who stand over the Tomb of the Unknowns — the Tomb Sentinels.

During the inspection the relief Commander drops the rifle and the bayonet stabs the relief Sentinel’s foot. The Sentinel’s bravery and total commitment, continued to performed his duty flawlessly while in distress.

In the comments, the man who took the video says, “When I was taking the video, I did not know that the Sentinel’s foot was stabbed. It wasn’t until The Sentinel got to the guardhouse and placed a call to be relieved that several people behind me noticed the blood oozing from his foot when he was walking back to the barracks. The Military investigated the incident and that’s why Military.com has the video linked from their site.”

Ten things to know about the real St. Patrick

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File 20180305 146703 jnv1p6.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Saint Patrick. Thad Zajdowicz

Lisa Bitel, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

On March 17, people around the world will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by parading in green hats, sporting images of shamrocks and leprechauns – tiny, grinning, fairy men – pinned to their lapels. Patrick’s picture will adorn greeting cards: an aged, bearded bishop in flowing robes, grasping a bishop’s staff and glaring at a coil of snakes.

The icon refers to one of Patrick’s legendary miracles in which he is said to have prayed to banish all snakes from Ireland. However, as a historian of medieval Ireland, I can assure you that the real St. Patrick, who lived and worked in the fifth century, never saw a snake or wore a shamrock.

Patrick’s own writings and early accounts of the saint’s career reveal many interesting details about the life of this patron saint of Ireland. Here are 10 things you may not know about St. Patrick.

1. Patrick was not Irish

Patrick was born around 450 A.D., just when Roman troops withdrew from Britain. His father was a gentleman and a Christian deacon who owned a small estate in a place called Bannavem Taburniae.

Scholars aren’t sure where this place was – it was probably on the west coast around Bristol, near the southern border of modern Wales and England.

2. Patrick was a slave

Irish slave traders sailed the waters off that same coast, and one day they came ashore to capture the teenage Patrick and his neighbors, to sell back in Ireland. Patrick spent six years tending sheep in the west of Ireland.

3. Patrick heard voices

While chasing sheep on the hills, Patrick prayed a hundred times a day, in all kinds of weather. It paid off. One night a mysterious voice called to him, saying, “Look, your ship is ready!” Patrick knew he wasn’t hearing sheep. The time was right for his escape.

4. Patrick refused to ‘suck a man’s breasts’

St. Patrick Catholic Church, Ohio. Nheyob (Own work)., CC BY-SA

Patrick made his way to Ireland’s east coast and sought passage on a ship bound for Britain. The captain, a pagan, didn’t like the look of him and demanded that Patrick “suck his breasts,” a ritual gesture symbolizing acceptance of the captain’s authority. Patrick refused – instead he tried to convert the crew.

For some reason, the captain still took him aboard.

5. Patrick had visions

One night Patrick dreamed that Satan tested his faith by dropping an enormous rock on him. He lay crushed by its weight until dawn broke, when he called out, “Helias! Helias!” – the name of the Greek sun god. The rock disappeared. Patrick took it as a kind of epiphany. He later wrote:

“I believe that I was helped by Christ the Lord.”

Patrick had other peculiar visions, too. Back home at Bannavem Taburniae, he was visited by an angel with a message from the Irish: “We beg you, Holy Boy, to come and walk again among us.” He trained as a bishop and went back to Ireland.

6. Patrick did something unmentionable

Years into his mission, someone, it seems, told a dirty secret about Patrick to his fellow bishops. “They brought up against me after thirty years something I had already confessed … some things I had done one day – rather, in one hour, when I was young,” he wrote.

Patrick did not tell us what he did – worship idols? Engage in a forbidden sexual practice? Take gifts from converts?

Whatever it was, Patrick retrospectively understood his zealous Irish mission to be penance for his youthful sins. While he spread Christianity around Ireland, he was often beaten, put in chains or extorted. “Every day there is the chance that I will be killed, or surrounded, or taken into slavery,” he complained.

7. Patrick duelled with druids

Two centuries after his death, Irish believers wanted more exciting stories of Patrick’s life than the saint’s own account.

One legend (written 700 A.D.) described Patrick’s contest with native religious leaders, the druids. The druids insulted Patrick, tried to poison him and engaged him in magical duels – much like students of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts – in which they competed to manipulate the weather, destroy each other’s sacred books and survive raging fires.

When one druid dared to blaspheme the Christian God, however, Patrick sent the druid flying into air – the man dropped to the ground and broke his skull.

8. Patrick made God promise

Another legend from around the same time tells how Patrick fasted for 40 days atop a mountain, weeping, throwing things, and refusing to descend until an angel came on God’s behalf to grant the saint’s outrageous demands. These included the following: Patrick would redeem more souls from hell than any other saint; Patrick, rather than God, would judge Irish sinners at the end of time; and the English would never rule Ireland.

We know how that last one worked out. Perhaps God will keep the other two promises.

9. Patrick never mentioned a shamrock

None of the early Patrician stories featured the shamrock – or Irish seamróg – which is a word for common clover, a small plant with three leaves. Yet children in Catholic schools still learn that Patrick used a shamrock as a symbol of the Christian Trinity when he preached to the heathen Irish.

The shamrock connection was first mentioned in print by an English visitor to Ireland in 1684, who wrote that on Saint Patrick’s feast day, “the vulgar superstitiously wear shamroges, 3 leav’d grass, which they likewise eat (they say) to cause a sweet breath.” The Englishman also noted that “very few of the zealous are found sober at night.”

10. Patrick did not drive the snakes out of Ireland

As for the miraculous snake-charming attributed to Patrick, it could not have happened because there were no snakes in pre-modern Ireland. Reptiles never made it across the land bridge that prehistorically linked the island to the European continent.

Most likely, the miracle was plagiarized from some other saint’s life and eventually added to Patrick’s repertoire.

Party-goers on March 17 need not worry about ancient historical details, though. Whatever the truth of Patrick’s mission, he became one of the three patrons of Ireland, along with Sts. Brigit and Columba– the latter two were born in Ireland.

Wishing you “Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhaiobh” – Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

Lisa Bitel, Professor of History & Religion, University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

America’s fiscal house of cards

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By Rick Manning

America is in deep financial trouble, and it is getting increasingly difficult to grow out of it.  This past year, our nation’s economy grew at a faster rate than at any time since 2005 at 2.9 percent, but the outlays (spending) grew much faster at more than 7.2 percent.

As a result, the budget deficit in fiscal year 2018 ballooned to $779 billion, and the actual national debt increased by $1.482 trillion in the just completed calendar year.

Our nation witnessed the government being shut down over relative pennies because the Democrats oppose securing the borders, but the real fight should have been over the bloated spending which is leading us to financial ruin. Yet, no one dared utter the idea of cutting the funding levels if the Democrats persisted in opposing wall funding.

As Rush Limbaugh might say, for those of you in Rio Linda, California, you can’t grow your way out of a national debt crisis by continuing to increase your overall debt-load at a 2.5-to-1 ratio over the growth of your economy.

The Balance.com notes, “the World Bank says that debt that’s greater than 77 percent is past the ‘tipping point.’ That’s when holders of the nation’s debt worry that it won’t be repaid. They demand higher interest rates to compensate for the additional risk. When interest rates climb, economic growth slows. That makes it more difficult for the country to repay its debt.”

And here is the crisis part, the U.S. debt to GDP including both publicly held debt and government held debt (Social Security Trust Fund, etc.) has now grown to 105 percent having blown past 77 percent in 2009 during the Obama spending spree. It passed 100 percent in 2014.

The double whammy is that interest payments on the debt have been artificially low due to record low interest rates. It is estimated that within five years, interest payments on this debt will equal or surpass U.S. military spending rapidly growing as a greater percentage of the budget.

The good news is that the Trump Administration sees the problem and for the third straight year has proposed a budget which cuts baseline spending in an effort to bring the budget into balance.  The just released 2020 budget would reduce $2.7 trillion off of the baseline over ten years.  Additionally, it would save the nation $236 billion in interest payments over that same period while cutting non-defense discretionary spending by 5 percent while increasing defense by 5 percent.

The bad news is that the same clown car drivers who failed to fully fund the wall while dramatically increasing spending for the past three years are still in charge in Congress, even though they have shifted seats giving Democrats more power, the chances that they will independently seek to cut government spending are remote. In fact, they are already seeking to increase the spending caps to accommodate even more defense and non-defense discretionary spending choosing to push down the accelerator toward the fiscal cliff rather than hitting the brakes.

The only solution is for the President to become actively involved in all spending negotiations up front, so unlike two out of the last three times he signed a spending bill, he will actually have actually have had a hand in crafting it.

President Trump must take the lead in fighting for fiscal sanity now, or he will be pegged with the blame for the more than $2 trillion the national debt has already risen during his tenure by the very Democrats who fight so viciously for spending increases.

The President needs to lay down a marker against increasing the previously agreed upon spending caps, and fight to keep it in the face of opposition by defense hawks who will trade anything to get more money into the Pentagon, including our nation’s ability to fiscally survive.

Our nation’s fiscal crisis is every bit as real as any threat emanating from Afghanistan, Europe or Korea.  And if and when our nation’s fiscal crisis blooms, it will end the American experiment more easily than any foreign threat, because we will be indentured to the world with no good options.

For President Trump, now is the time to fight the spending battle in Congress, before the 60 vote bi-partisan majority in the Senate and the hard left majority in the House make a deal that he is presented with veto proof majorities in each House.  After all, Democrats have proven that they are willing to shut down the government to get their priorities and the GOP has in effect promised, never again.

So many things are going right in our nation’s economy. We are becoming energy dominant, jobs are plentiful, wages are rising and manufacturing is returning. But the economic conditions that made this possible can be wiped out if our D.C. elected officials don’t stem the spending surge.

And they will only act if they hear from Americans that it is time to get our house in order before it collapses.

The author is president of Americans for Limited Government. Reproduced with permission. Original can be viewed here.

The Collapse of Western Civilization

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All the signs that herald the collapse of a civilization are upon us. Watch this video by social commentator Paul Joseph Watson as he explains how great civilizations commit suicide as they descend into Godlessness, immorality, drugs, contempt for life, androgyny and the failure of education to produce great artists, thinkers and culture.

This is depressing. And horribly true.

Socialism Humor

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by Dan Mitchell

I realize that mocking socialism is like taking candy from a baby, but I have several items to add to our collection.

But today I’m going to follow the advice of some readers who have told me that I should make a serious point with each bit of satire so that readers (especially those not already immersed in these issues) understand why socialism is both laughable and tragic.

Our first example is some humor based on The Simpson’s, and it makes the important point that majoritarian coercion is still coercion.

Which is why America’s Founders did their best to limit the extent of majoritarian democracy.

I like this next image because it’s the satirical version of my column on why the left should be nice to upper-income taxpayers.

Sadly, my friends on the left seem unable to resist killing – or at least driving away – those golden geese.

And when more and more people are riding in the wagon and fewer and fewer people are pulling the wagon, the end result is not pretty.

Speaking of not pretty, this is the R-rated version of a great Michael Ramirez cartoon.

President Eisenhower also had something to say about free stuff.

Moving to our next example, socialists have this romantic notion of a society where everyone pulls together for the common good.

But when they try to set up such systems on a voluntary basis, they inevitably failbecause of an unsolvable incentive structure.

Which is what makes this sign funny…and accurate.

Reminds me of this superb tweet.

Our final example just appeared in my inbox this morning, so it’s very well timed.

It makes the all-important point that ever-expanding government power is bad for civil liberties (hence this very powerful poster about gun control) and bad for full stomachs.

While the image is funny, the real-world consequences are not.

Poor people are starving to death in Venezuela.

And don’t forget the tens of millions of deaths thanks to famines in Mao’s China or the Ukraine under Stalin. Or the mass starvation in North Korea (which was portrayed as a triumph against obesity by an especially despicable bureaucrat at the World Health Organization).

To be sure, there’s a big difference between liberal socialism and totalitarian socialism. I’d take the former if forced to choose. And even when considering liberal socialism, there’s are big differences between market-friendly versions and intervention-based versions.

But, all things considered, I prefer freedom and prosperity.

Sex Matters

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Are the differences between men and women biological or socially constructed? What do women want from a relationship? What do men want? Are they the same? Or are they much different? Sean McDowell, Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Biola University sorts it all out in this eye-opening video.  

Gun Control Humor

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I shared some socialism humor yesterday to start the weekend, so let’s end the weekend by adding to our collection of satire about gun control.

We’ll start with a fairy tale, loosely based on this video, for left-wing children. Or, to be more precise, a fairy tale for parents who want to raise anti-empirical left-wing children.

This book belongs on the shelf along with the leftist version of The Little Red Hen, the leftist version of The Little Engine that Could, and the leftist version of The Ant and the Grasshopper.

I’ve already shared several variations of this next image. But it never gets old, so here’s another.

There’s nothing particularly amusing or satirical about these rules for gun safety, but the final rule at the end is too good not to share (as I’m sure the guy at the bottom of this column would agree).

Returning the theme of fairy tales, here’s a Michael Ramirez cartoon about the utter failure of gun control in Chicago.

I’m guessing Obama’s book includes this example of rigorous, Chicago-related, social-science research.

Here’s another cartoon that builds on many previous examples.

The video at the end of this column also is a good lesson about gun-free zones.

And if you want some serious analysis explaining why gun-free zones don’t work, click here and here.

Last but not least, here’s my favorite part of today’s collection (h/t: Libertarian Reddit).

Amen. Just like the image at the end of this column.

I’ll close by including links (herehere, and here) for those who want serious discussion on gun control, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution.

DNA Is Government’s Best Friend, And In Arizona, It May Soon Belong To Government

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By Bob Barr

The chemical DNA — or as it is more scientifically but less-commonly known, deoxyribonucleic acid — was first discovered in 1869 by a Swiss chemist. Now, 150 years later, DNA has become for government what the dog is to man — its “best friend.”

Government is working feverishly to take full advantage of the power of this chemical — which provides the basis for human genetics — as a means to surveil its citizens. Arizona is the latest example; the state’s Republican state Sen. David Livingston proposed a bill that would create a statewide DNA database to track anyone who applies for a position that involves fingerprinting — including parent school volunteers, teachers, real estate agents and foster parents. The DNA could be shared with virtually any other government agency in the country.

After widespread backlash, Livingston reportedly amended the bill to require DNA only from those who care for patients with intellectual disabilities. Regardless of what happens, the march toward ever-broader collection and data-basing of DNA materials by government at all levels is certain to increase. In this sense, Arizona is simply following a fast-growing trend of genetic curiosity.

What once was available only to highly trained scientists working in massive research facilities is now available to virtually anyone with $50 to spend. In 2017 alone, some 12 million DNA “test kits” were sold to individuals; mostly in the United States. The key questions asked by privacy experts — but far too infrequently by purchasers of DNA test kits — are: What happens to all that extremely revealing and personal information gleaned from testing one’s saliva? Where is the data stored? For how long is it maintained? And who has access to it?

The primary database of DNA information maintained by the federal government, under the watchful eye of the FBI, is “CODIS” (short-hand for Combined DNA Index System); but CODIS is far from the only such repository. Numerous other DNA databases are maintained by federal, state and local government agencies (not limited only to those with law enforcement responsibilities). In addition to the many government DNA databases, there are a number of commercial storehouses, owned and controlled by companies such as Ancestry.com.

The sharing of information between all these entities — government-to-government, company-to-government, government-to-company, and company-to-company — is little understood by the private citizen, and subject to little effective regulatory control. Even when the collection of DNA is mandated by statute, as has been the case for persons arrested for felony offenses in California for the past decade, there is no effective recourse for expunging such information even if the person is never convicted of the offense or is found not guilty.

While Uncle Sam has lagged behind California in mandating the collection of DNA samples from individuals within its custody, it is racing to catch up. Two years ago, for example, the Congress passed, and President Trump signed into law the “Rapid DNA Act of 2017.” The legislation attracted little attention and almost no opposition.

The reason for legislation such as the Rapid DNA Act winning such easy passage is due at least in part to the fact there are important and positive reasons for law enforcement agencies to maintain and have access to a secure and properly-maintained database of DNA information on criminal offenders. The information in a person’s DNA can assist greatly in solving major crimes.

What often is overlooked, however, is that an individual’s DNA information reveals not only the donor’s basic identifying characteristics such as eye and hair color as well as sex and race; but information about their relatives, their health, their propensity for certain diseases, and much more.

In the hands of unscrupulous marketeers, for example, a person’s DNA is the Holy Grail of consumer information; in the aggregate, worth untold millions. For government, which operates according to the universal law that it can never have too much information on those within its jurisdiction, DNA databases can become a tool with which to identify and segregate population groups; and not always to the benefit of the individuals.

It is one thing, of course, if individuals voluntarily give up the secrets of their DNA for the benefit of learning who their “ancestors” might have been. It is quite another concern, however, when the government forces you to give up that information. And it is in this regard that lawmakers in Arizona have opened a new and deeply disturbing chapter in DNA collection.

While today the Arizona proposal is at the extreme of government DNA intrusions, if the trajectory of DNA power grabs in the past decade is any indication, it will soon, and unfortunately, become the norm.

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s 7th District in the House of Representatives from 1995-2003. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and is Chairman of Liberty Guard (a non-profit, pro-liberty organization). He also heads the Law Enforcement Education Foundation (LEEF) and a consulting firm, Liberty Strategies.

Green energy failed the polar vortex test

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By Richard McCarty

The recent polar vortex of extremely cold weather this winter tested Green New Deal policies, and they failed miserably. Many Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and several presidential candidates, support a Green New Deal, which would phase out the use of all coal, natural gas, and oil and replace them with green energy. Proving just how wrongheaded those policies are, solar and wind power performed very poorly during the storm while coal, natural gas, and nuclear power helped keep the lights and heat on for the vast majority of people.

Just how bad was green energy’s performance during the storm? In an area stretching from Minnesota to Iowa, wind turbines went from supplying about half of the electricity one day to providing less than 3 percent the next. What caused this dramatic swing in energy output? Most turbines automatically shut down once temperatures reach -20 degrees. Even worse, not only did the turbines stop producing power, but they also consumed power for heat to avoid damage. Solar energy production also collapsed. Due to snow cover, Xcel Energy’s solar panels only produced eight to ten percent of their potential output.

In addition to the massive problems with green energy production, there were also some problems with natural gas. Natural gas-powered plants were hampered in their efforts to generate more electricity due, in part, to freeze-offs. Freeze-offs occur in cold weather when water and other liquids freeze at natural gas wells, and they can cause natural gas shortages and price spikes. Freeze-offs are just one more reason why more pipelines are needed, but the left still opposes them.

Because of the energy production problems, businesses and consumers were asked to reduce their energy use. This is called demand response. For example, Xcel Energy asked some Minnesota residents to turn down their thermostats to 55 degrees; other Minnesotans were asked to turn down their heat to 63 degrees; and the Michigan governor asked most state residents to turn down their thermostats to 65 degrees. In response to requests like these, GM shuttered thirteen facilities; Fiat Chrysler closed twoplants; and Ford cut back production at three facilities.

Environmentalists seem to think that demand response is a perfectly fine way to deal with extremely cold weather. Of course, this overlooks the fact that workers at shut down businesses might need their missing wages and that some people, including many of the elderly, get cold easily so turning their heat down is more than a minor inconvenience.

The goal should be to build a robust electric grid that is capable of meeting demand on the hottest summer days and the coldest winter nights, with additional reserves to cover contingencies. Just planning to have sufficient power to handle normal circumstances and then urging people to muddle through harsh weather in the northern U.S. is not acceptable.

To deal with the intermittent supply of solar and wind power, some green energy supporters are advocating for connecting regional grids into a national grid. By connecting the regional grids, grid operators would have more options for avoiding outages and dealing with excess energy. While a national grid may or may not be a good idea, environmentalists often oppose the high-voltage lines that would likely be used to connect the regional grids.

The facts are clear from the polar vortex. Even in the worst of conditions, coal and nuclear power are very reliable; natural gas is less so, but it is still fairly reliable. On the other hand, green energy is very unreliable, and depending upon it is both foolish and dangerous. Of course, liberals will learn nothing from this storm and will continue to push for the costly Green New Deal. To protect lives and our economy, these policies must be defeated.

Richard McCarty is the Director of Research at Americans for Limited Government. Reproduced with permission. Original can be viewed here.

The future of furniture is a vat of gel

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“Rapid Liquid Printing” is a 3D printing technique, created by MIT researchers, that prints things in vats of gel. And one day you could get your furniture from it.

What an Old Sears Roebuck Catalogue Teaches Us About Gun Control

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Image:  Flickr]

As I write these words, a reproduction of the 1897 Sears Roebuck Catalogue, published in 1968 by Chelsea House, sits at my elbow.

The fat catalog is a casual reader’s delight and a historian’s treasure trove. Here are medicines like laudanum, herb tea, and castor oil. Here are tools, bobsleds, gasoline stoves, windmills, bicycles, clothing and footwear, valises, books, clocks and watches, fountain pens, banjos and snare drums, furniture and cutlery, buggies and wagons. (The price of most surreys is under $100, a belt is fifty cents, a child’s high chair a dollar, a ball room guide for gentlemen twenty-five cents.)

And in the Sporting Goods Department we find 28 pages of guns, ammunition, and accessories.

Here we have weapons ranging from the Daisy Air Rifle to “Our $1.55 Revolver,” from shotguns for $7.95 to Marlin Repeating Rifles. Sears, Roebuck & Company also sold ammunition, pistol holders, reloading tools, and cleaners for these weapons.

No one was monitoring these sales. The government had no part in regulation. No one conducted background checks on the buyers. Indeed, Sears brags that it is “the headquarter for everything in guns,” that their prices are below all others, and that “we will send any revolver to any address.”

Yikes, right? Even a common laborer, for three or four days wages, could order a Saturday night special from Sears. With guns and ammo so easily available, we might guess that the streets of every American city and town were running red with blood every day of the week. Mass murder surely occurred on a weekly basis. Assassination and terrorist attacks must have happened so regularly that no one blinked an eye.

We might guess so, but we would be wrong.

In 1900, the number of murders and “non-negligent homicides” in the United States was approximately 1 in every 100,000 inhabitants (This figure and the others in this paragraph include all murders, not just those by firearms.) In 1980, that figure was close to 11 murders per 100,000 people. Since then, that figure has declined to between 4 and 5 murders per 100,000. (For a deeper analysis, see here.) Bear in mind too that unlike today, a gunshot wound in 1900 frequently resulted in death.

These statistics contrasted with the easy availability of guns should raise some questions. Why in 1900, when firearms were so readily accessible, were murders so infrequent? Why are murders today quadruple what they were in 1900? Based on what gun-control activists tell us, shouldn’t we expect the exact opposite?

Doubtless such questions might provoke many responses. They deserve study by investigators whose education, credentials, and research are superior to my own. But surely some obvious reasons account for our higher murder rate. Here are a few of them.

First, our recent ancestors had more respect than we do for human life. People living in 1900 died from diseases and ailments now vanquished. They were more familiar with death than most of us living today. Relatives often died at home rather than in a hospital. In a time of high infant mortality and death due to diseases now casually treated with antibiotics, perhaps each life was regarded as special.

In addition, the men and women of 1900 were not drenched in today’s artificial violence. According to some studies, the average young person will see 200,000 acts of violence in movies and on television by the age of 18. Furthermore, numerous studies show that playing violent video games lead to aggressiveness, especially in young men. Were Mortal Kombat, Postal, and Mad World available to sixteen-year-old Johnny in 1900, perhaps he too would have been more prone to take to the streets with his father’s revolver.

The breakdown of the family, accompanied by the erosion of religious faith and moral teaching in schools and the public square, has surely contributed as well to the increase in gun violence and the murder rate. Young men growing up fatherless, the belief that we can create our own moral code, the move away from the Commandments, including the one enjoining us not to kill, may all contribute to our higher murder rates.

Many citizens today advocate “gun control.” If we restrict or eliminate gun ownership, their argument goes, we will reduce the number of murders. Nevertheless, the puzzle remains: Why were so few of our ancestors shooting one another when guns could be bought as easily as soap, shoes, and slipcovers?

Instead of pointing at firearms as the cause of violence, maybe we should ask: “What sort of people have we become? What part of our humanity have we lost in the past six-score years?”

To steal a construct from Shakespeare: Perhaps the fault lies not in our guns, but in ourselves.


Jeff Minick is a free-lance writer and teacher living in Front Royal, Virginia. He may be found online at jeffminick.com. Reproduced with kind permission. Follow Jeff on Facebook.


Seagull swallows rat

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Totally disgusting but hypnotic video from the streets of Boston. This phone camera video was caught by shocked tourists who couldn’t believe their eyes.

Oops! Operation Flintlock paras demonstrate every error

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Military static line parachuting is safe when practiced correctly, but minor mistakes can quickly turn a jump into a disaster. Take a look at these.

This video appeared on social media early this week from the Flintlock 2019 military exercise in the Sahel region of Africa. Whoever the unit is in the video- and no one is giving them credit (or blame…), they demonstrate about every aircraft exit mistake a static line parachutist can make short of actually forgetting to hook up their static line.

Great commentary on these jumpers here.

New Houses Are Getting Smaller — But They’re Still Much Larger Than What Your Grandparents Had

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The average square footage in new single-family houses has been declining since 2015. House sizes tend to fall just during reccesionary periods. It happened from 2008 to 2009, from 2001 to 2002, and from 1990 to 1991.

But even with strong job growth numbers in recent years, it looks like demand for houses of historically large size may have finally peaked.

According to Census Bureau data, the average size of new houses in 2017 was 2,631 square feet. That’s down from the 2015 peak of 2,687.

2015’s average, by the way, was an all-time high, and represented decades of near-relentless growth in house sizes in the United States since the Second World War.

Indeed, in the fifty years from 1967 to 2017, the average size of new houses increased by two-thirds (67 percent) from 1,570 to 2,631 square feet. At the same time, the quality of housing also increased substantially in everything from insulation, to roofing materials, to windows, and to the size and availability of garages.

newhousesize.PNG

Source: Department of Labor, Census Bureau, HUD.1

Meanwhile, the size of American households during this period decreased 22 percent from 3.28 to 2.54 people. Needless to say, the amount of square footage per person has expanded greatly over the past fifty years. (Square footage in new multifamily construction has also increased.)

And yet, we continue to hear in survey data that Americans are “overworked,” “stressed out,” and pushed to the limit when it comes to paying for living space. If that’s the case, why do so many Americans continue to buy new housing that’s more than 50 percent larger than what their parents grew up in?

Part of it is a matter of demonstrated preference versus what they say in surveys. The demonstrated behavior or many people is simply that they prefer more house to less, even if it means more stress in making that mortgage payment every month. Another factor is the low-low mortgage rates that continue to be available to a great many borrowers. Sure, that extra 500 square feet above and beyond what your dad shared with 3 siblings might be a bit much, but if you can spread the payments out over 30 years, why not just get it?

HOW GOVERNMENT POLICY LED TO A CODIFICATION OF LARGER, MORE EXPENSIVE HOUSES

But there are other factors as well. In recent decades, local governments have continued to ratchet up mandates as to how many units can be built per acre, and what size those new houses can be. As The Washington Post reported last month, various government regulations and fees, such as “impact fees,” which are the same regardless of the size of the unit, “incentivize developers to build big.” The Postcontinues, “if zoning allows no more than two units per acre, the incentive will be to build the biggest, most expensive units possible.”

Moreover, community groups opposed to anything that sounds like “density” or “upzoning” will use the power of local governments to crush developer attempts to build more affordable housing. However, as The Post notes, at least one developer has found “where his firm has been able to encourage cities to allow smaller buildings the demand has been strong. For those building small, demand doesn’t seem to be an issue.”

Many involved in home sales likely won’t be shocked to hear this. In many markets, it’s the mid-priced homes that sell the fastest. In the Denver metro area, for example, homes priced in the $300,000-400,000 range are quickly snapped up. But luxury homes coming in around $700,000 or a million dollars can languish. Indeed, the Washington Post article features a Denver-area couple who were delighted to buy a new downsized 1,400 square foot house for $257,000.

As much as existing homeowners and city planners would love to see nothing but upper middle-class housing with three-car garages along every street, the fact is that not everyone can afford this sort of housing. But that doesn’t mean people in the middle can only afford a shack in a shanty town either — so long as governments will allow more basic housing to be built.

Local housing has become so inflexible as a combination of a variety of historical trends which later become nearly set in stone thanks to government policy. We have seen this at work as decades of federal housing policy has worked to encourage ever-larger debt loads which in turn leads to larger houses as well. Eventually, this sort of housing — and the sort of people who live in it — reach a critical mass politically. The people who live in the larger houses then want to make sure that the “character of the neighborhood” is preserved — by force of law — which ends up excluding new types of more economical housing. This doesn’t necessarily mean apartment buildings, of course. It can simply mean smaller, more simple single-family housing. But once existing homeowners begin to dominate the local political process, the deck becomes stacked against new homeowners who can only afford basic housing that the old-timers don’t want to see.

The result is an ossified housing policy designed to reinforce existing housing, while denying new types of housing that is perhaps more suitable to smaller households and a more stagnant economic environment.

Eventually, though, something has to give. Either governments persist indefinitely with restrictions on “undesirable” housing — which means housing costs skyrocket — or local governments finally start to allow builders to build housing more appropriate to the needs of the middle class.

For now, the results have been spotty. But where developers are allowed to actually build for a middle-class clientele, it looks like there’s plenty of demand.

NOT REALLY DOWNSIZING

The Post’s article covering this downsizing phenomena is titled “Downsizing the American Dream,” but this represents nothing that might be called a downsizing when compared to the alleged Golden Age of the American Dream in postwar America.

After all, by the standards of the 1950s and 1960s, the new “smaller” houses remain large and luxurious by comparison. According to a 1956 report by the US Department of Labor, “The 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom house,with less than a thousand square feet of floor area … typified new houses in 1950.”

Keep in mind, moreover, that the average household size in 1950 was 3.37 (compared to 2.62 in 2000). Those two bedrooms and that one bathroom in 1950 say a lot more traffic than would typically be the case today.

House-sizes grew considerably into the 1960s, but even those homes — which were often three-bedroom two-bathroom houses for families with children — still came in around 1,500 square feet well into the 1970s.

Today, the average new house has more than 1,000 square feet than a home of the 1960s — often housing no more than a couple and its dog.

But do new home buyers need all that house? It’s hard to know since housing production is caught up in a complex web of government financing, government regulation, and neighborhood NIMBYism.

To know the answer, we’d have to allow developers to build less-expensive housing, but that would require a great simplification of the political and regulatory processes developers must deal with. Expectations for housing have changed so much over the past fifty years, it’s hard to imagine a return to what households of the past would have considered to be normal, middle-class housing.

It would be an interesting experiment, though: would city planners and neighborhood groups welcome a developer who planned to build a neighborhood of 1950s retro housing? That is: new two-bedroom, one-bathroom houses of 1,000 square feet? (They’d have to exclude the asbestos siding typical of the time, and the terrible insulation of the time would need to be replaced with something more modern.)

It would be interesting to see someone try it.

This article was republished with permission from the Mises Institute.

Younger Americans overwhelmingly more likely to embrace socialism, view America as source of the world’s ills

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Cartoon courtesy of Legal Insurrection.

By Robert Romano

Two eye-opening recent polls tell us a lot about where America is headed in the future, and it should be alarming to most Americans.

First up is a recent Public Opinion Strategies poll that found, among younger Americans, 53 percent want the U.S. to become “more socialist.” Only 40 percent disagree.

Next, a McLaughlin and Associates poll finds that among those under the age of 30, 66 percent agree with the idea that “America is the source of most of the world’s ills: political, economic, and environmental…” Among those aged 31 to 40, 49 percent agree. Overall, 53 percent under 55 years old agree, with only 38 percent disagreeing.

While immediately, among the overall population, the results are reversed when older Americans are factored in. 51 percent overall oppose socialism, with 45 percent in favor. And on whether the U.S. is the source of the world’s ills, it’s divided equally 46 percent to 46 percent.

In the short term, then, the results might benefit President Donald Trump and Republicans in 2020 as a choice election between socialism, universal health care and the Green New Deal on one side, and less government, lower taxes, more choices and abundance and prosperity on the other.

But longer term, these trends make things like socialism, the Green New Deal and universal health care that appear radical and alien to us right now highly possible or even likely to be implemented — and rather soon — because of how younger Americans are currently leaning. It’s a recipe for one-party rule.

Let me say this is hard to write upfront because it flies in the face of how conservatives have approached culture, public institutions and also certain private ones. Yet these results are alarming enough and appear to show an urgent need for action. This is a discussion we need to have, and need to have right now.

Clearly influencers in our society are playing a key role. For example, education plays a fundamental role in shaping political attitudes yet conservatives have rejected and ceded too many institutions like public education as being organs of the left, and as a result, have discouraged an entire generation from participating in them, resulting in the complete ideological domination we see today.

If you consider political attitudes among educators, a 2017 survey by Education Week Research Center said in 2016, 50 percent of teachers voted for Hillary Clinton and 13 percent voted for a third party candidate. Only 29 percent voted for Trump. Yet that is not really representative of how America voted in 2016, with Americans on the whole being far more closely politically divided.

Republicans promote school choice alternatives to public education, but only about 3 percent of children are home schooled and about 10 percent attend private schools. Now, I’m not saying there shouldn’t be alternatives to public education. I actually believe we need more of those and if you have the means the current alternatives are very appealing.

But we’re lucky those numbers are as high as they are, and it clearly is not a replacement in this day and age, at least not yet, and the numbers show that, with more than 87 percent of children going to public schools.

If anything, the key decision is not even in whether to home school or to send your kids to private school, it is the decision that younger people are making about what profession to go into. With fewer conservatives and Republicans becoming teachers — one of our most influential institutions — it is clearly taking its toll on the body politic.

In the short term, something state legislatures can look at are ways for older, non-educators to become teachers in areas they have expertise through accreditation reform. But long term, the future is young people. It always is.

So why don’t conservatives go into more of these institutions? The development is easy enough to understand. Just consider the messaging choices conservatives make.

Public schools are bad — although most Americans take advantage of them without viable alternatives available — and so in the process do we encourage our children to become teachers to balance our classrooms out?

The entertainment industry is too liberal and radical, and so do we encourage our children to participate in the arts?

News media is overwhelmingly liberal, and so do we encourage our children to become journalists?

The bureaucracy is something sinister, and so do we encourage our children to become civil servants?

It seems to me that conservatives have allowed culturally entire institutions to be dominated by a single ideology, allowing for the most radical ideas to take root in them almost unchecked.

It’s been 20 years since Paul Weyrich famously told his supporters that “we probably have lost the culture war” and promoted separation and “drop[ping] out of this culture.” He told people to tune out. And so we have. But where is it leading us?

Schools are one thing. Then there’s media. To a certain extent, privately owned media poses a separate challenge insofar as it affects hiring decisions. So, good luck being a Republican working in the news business or entertainment. There is certainly a disincentive from doing so presently, no question. Who wants to be blacklisted and ostracized by their peers?

Republicans promote free markets and yet fail to invest capital in media to the same degree and so pop culture is entirely dominated. Are conservatives just poor? Perhaps they lack the capital, and yet numerically they are consumers, tens of millions of consumers, who should be able to, via markets, opt into conservative alternatives.

Conservatives need to compete.

And it’s starting to happen. You do see certain crowdfunding ventures that are showing some success in creating alternatives to Hollywood and pop culture but I think it’s also fair to say conservatives haven’t done nearly enough. This is merely scratching the surface.

Philosophically you can step back and perhaps attribute much of what we see to ideas that appear to ignore the need for institutions.  Yet, clearly institutions are critical to how societies develop.

Fortunately, all hope is not lost. Recall in the socialism poll, for example, 40 percent of young people don’t want more socialism. So what is to be done?

This is a generational challenge. Republicans rail against governmental institutions even while they contradictorily campaign for office declaring that they’re better at running them. They never actually abolish public institutions. Societally, we’ve invested too much in them.

So, does it make sense for conservatives to discourage their children even implicitly from participating in these institutions? How is it working out for us? If conservatives are concerned about representation in these critical institutions then it’s time to start participating in them.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

New Bill to Tax Stock Market Could Devastate Ordinary Savings and Retirement

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A new tax proposal in Congress aims to stick it to the rich. But if passed, it could devastate the U.S. financial system and ruin the value of ordinary Americans’ retirement accounts. 

The proposal, introduced by a team of Democrats in the House and Senate, would assess a penalty each time someone sells a stock, bond, or other financial instrument. It would tax each of the roughly 10 billion U.S. equity market trades each year, among other transactions. 

The goal, presumably, is to hit the rich. But the stock market is not just a tool for the wealthy. 

Some of the largest shareholders and beneficiaries of our modern financial system are pension funds for public-sector employees and private retirement account holders. Firefighters, teachers, university endowments, and private retirement savings all benefit from sophisticated equity markets. Many employers issue short-term debt to cover payroll and young start-ups sell securities to fund their growth. 

The stock market may seem opaque to the average American, but they still benefit from it through new jobs, advances in productivity, and increases in retirement and other invested savings.    

This proposal would handicap markets for U.S. saving and investment. It would levy a tax of 0.1 percent on the value of every stock, bond, and derivative transaction in the U.S. or made by a U.S. resident. 

Depending on the purveyor you listen to, this new tax could make the stock market fairer and less volatile. The tax would stop the dreaded practice of high-frequency trading, whereby large volumes of trades are made quickly by algorithm. Its backers also project that it would raise a sizable chunk of revenue that purportedly would be paid by the “rich.” 

But a financial transactions tax fails to meet each of these goals. It would increase rather than decrease market volatility; it would hurt digital traders, who benefit the market; it would not raise as much revenue as projected; and the tax would ultimately be paid by American savers through lower investment returns and fewer economic opportunities.  

A financial transaction tax is not a new idea. The Congressional Budget Office regularly includes it in its yearly list of budget options. Its report notes, however, that the tax could “have a number of negative effects on the economy stemming from its effects on asset prices, the cost of capital for firms, and the frequency of trading.” 

These concerns bear out in the real world, too. Evidence from France’s experiment with a transactions tax in 2012 shows that it lowers trading volumes and reduces market liquidity, which hurts market quality. 

Fewer trades mean it is harder to buy and sell stock, and markets operate less efficiently. Inefficient markets hurt everyone. They translate into fewer new jobs and less productive investment.   

Italy also tried a transactions tax. There, it  increased market volatility.  

The transactions tax is designed to cut out short-term and speculative traders who trade for small gains by increasing cost of the trade. But without these participants, market prices are less accurate, leading to more frequent and larger price swings. This is borne out in a 2015 study that shows how the tax would indeed increase the likelihood of boom-bust cycles and exacerbate overall return volatility.

In addition, University of California, Berkeley professor Maria Coelho found that financial transactions taxes are “poor instruments” for fixing the market problems identified by advocates.  

As written, the bill is so expansive that it would likely tax short-term, non-exchange traded commercial paper that is used to cover short-term business obligations, like payroll. So a transactions tax could make paying workers more expensive. 

The tax would also increase costs for small businesses and start-ups trying to raise funds. A start-up that sells $50 million in securities would now owe a $50,000 tax—not a trivial sum.

But most of all, the tax would hurt ordinary American savers.

In the United Kingdom, it was estimated in the 1980s that cutting the limited financial transactions tax rate “from 2 percent to 1 percent would have led to a 10 percent rise in share prices.” To the extent there is a transactions tax, stock values will fall. 

A transactions tax would therefore decrease the stock of wealth for any American who has investments. Private retirement accounts and pension plans could be hurt the most. 

Consider a retirement account: a $300,000 self-directed IRA equities portfolio turning over once every year. Just a 0.1 percent tax would result in additional costs of $300 annually. This may sound minimal, but a $300 annual investment growing at 7 percent amounts to more than $20,000 after 25 years. 

Perhaps most fundamentally, the tax would impose its largest effective rate on marginal investments—those investments that just barely make a profit. These are the more common type of investments , even though high-return projects are also important. 

For instance, under the proposed tax, a block of 1,000 shares of a $25 stock that is sold for $25.01 would face a 250 percent tax rate on the profit made from the sale. By design, these marginal investments are the type that would be most harmed by a transactions tax. The higher the tax rate, the larger the harm. 

Despite claims that a new tax would have little effect, history shows that traders respond markedly to new transactions taxes. This means such proposals raise “significantly lower revenues than projected,” as Coelho found in Italy and France. 

It is unlikely the new tax would raise anything close to the $777 billion over 10 years that proponents hope for. 

It is clear that financial transactions taxes are a poorly designed policy for achieving their proponents’ stated goals. But even if it were the best way to raise revenue, we should question whether maximizing revenue is even a proper goal for governments to have as a matter of policy.  

The government class will always have an insatiable desire to tax and spend at ever higher levels, which means it will search for new and innovative ways to raise revenue. Governments, like most monopolies, are prone to waste and inefficiency. 

A better course of action is for Washington to let people of all income levels keep more of the money they earn—to spend, save, and invest how they see fit for themselves, their family, and their local communities. 

Washington already has plenty of ways to tax Americans—rich and poor alike. Adding a new tax to the financial system is not the way forward—especially when it will hurt American workers, students, and retirees the most.

Adam Michel  @adamnmichel   Adam Michel focuses on tax policy and the federal budget as a policy analyst in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Reproduced with permission from the Daily Signal. Original can be viewed here.

What We Can Learn From the Turbulence of 1969

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IMAGE: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aresauburnphotos/(CC BY-SA 2.0)

Fifty years ago, the United States was facing crises and unrest on multiple fronts. Some predicted that internal chaos and revolution would unravel the nation.

The 1969 Vietnam War protests on the UC Berkeley campus turned so violent that National Guard helicopters indiscriminately sprayed tear gas on student demonstrators. Later that year, hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of major cities as part of the “Moratorium to the End the War in Vietnam.” In Washington, D.C., about a half-million protesters marched to the White House.

Native American demonstrators took over the former federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay and stayed there for 19 months, declaring it their own sovereign space.

In November 1969, the American public was exposed to grotesque photos of the My Lai Massacre, which had occurred the year before. The nation was stunned that American troops in Vietnam had shot innocent women and children. My Lai heated up the already hot national debate over whether the Vietnam War was either moral or winnable.

Meanwhile, the trial of the so-called Chicago Seven, involving the supposed organizers of the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, roiled the nation. The courtroom drama involving radical defendants such as Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, and Jerry Rubin descended into a national circus, as the battle between leftists and the establishment went from the streets to the courtroom.

It was also the year of the Woodstock music festival. More than 400,000 thrill-seekers showed up on a small farm in the Catskill Mountains in August 1969 to celebrate three days of “peace and music.” Footage of free love and free drugs at Woodstock shocked half the country but resonated with the other half, which viewed the festival as much-needed liberation for an uptight nation.

Newly inaugurated President Richard Nixon characterized the national divide as the “silent majority” of traditional Americans fighting back against radical changes in culture and politics.

Under the strain of constant protests, the cultural and moral fabric of the country seemed to be tearing apart. Alternative lifestyle choices sometimes led to violence or death.

When a West Coast version of Woodstock was tried a few months later in Altamont, California, the concert ended up an orgy of murder, drug overdoses, random violence, and destruction of property.

In July of 1969, liberal icon Teddy Kennedy ran his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, and his young passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, was left to drown. Sen. Kennedy did not report the accident to authorities until 10 hours later.

The next month, members of hippie psychopath Charles Manson’s “family” butchered seven innocents in Los Angeles, among them actress Sharon Tate. The Manson family apparently had hoped that the sensationalized murders would ignite some sort of racial civil war, thereby unraveling the United States.

Yet a wounded United States did not just survive 1969, but reached new heights of scientific, technological, and cultural achievement.

For the first time in history, a national economy produced more than $1 trillion worth of goods and services in a single year, as American nominal gross domestic product for 1969 exceeded that level.

America also put the first humans on the moon in 1969—and did it twice the same year, with the Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 lunar missions.

Boeing’s 747 jumbo jet made its first successful test flight in 1969. The 400-passenger airliner was so well designed and ahead of its time that it continues in service today, a half-century after its rollout. 

It took some 35 years for a European company to introduce a competitor to the 747, the Airbus A380. Yet the latter jet has been something of a white elephant. Many airlines have stopped using the A380, and Airbus has announced that it will stop producing the jets in 2021.

American computer scientists first used a precursor to the internet in 1969, when computers at UCLA and Stanford managed to share an electronic network, known as ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network).

Fifty years later, what are the lessons of the chaotic year 1969 for our similarly schizophrenic age of polarization, civil disunity, and unprecedented wealth and scientific advancement?

America is such a huge and diverse country, and so abundantly endowed with natural and human resources, that it is capable of achieving unprecedented scientific, economic, and technological breakthroughs even as its social fabric is tearing apart.

Or, put another way, while the media highlights crime, protests, grievances, and civil disorder, a majority of Americans still go to work unbothered each day.

And in a rare society with a free market, constitutional government, and individual freedom, people continue to do amazing things even amid the utter chaos around them.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson    @VDHanson
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and author of the book “The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.” You can reach him by e-mailing authorvdh@gmail.com.

Gun Background Checks: How the State Came To Decide Who Can and Cannot Buy a Firearm

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Prior to 1968, most adults in the United States could purchase a firearm without state interference. Guns were available in local retail stores, as well as mail-order catalogs, and as long as you hadn’t been convicted of a felony and you had the funds, there weren’t any questions asked. 

Things are different now. Depending on where in America you are and what type of gun you want to buy, there’s a good chance you’ll need to pass a NICS-mandated background check to complete your purchase. 

Although many people hold a strong opinion for and against gun background checks, they’ve proven to be an integral part of the state’s gun control apparatus – and they don’t appear to be leaving anytime soon. 

Since background checks are such a requirement for today’s gun enthusiasts, it’s important for gun owners (and those who may someday be gun owners) to understand everything they can, including how the current system works and how it came to be.

The History of Gun Background Checks in the U.S.

The history of background checks for gun purchases reaches back to the first restrictions placed on individuals trying to purchase firearms. Here in the U.S., this occured after the Civil War, when several southern states adopted “Black Codes,” which replaced the prior slave codes and worked to suppress the freedoms of black Americans. Among other restrictions, the Black Codes forbade African-Americans from owning firearms. 

The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 began restricting the sales of firearms, requiring those in the business of selling firearms to purchase a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and maintain a list of persons who purchased firearms, including their name and address. The Firearms Act of 1938 also listed convicted felons as the first prohibited persons – who are not allowed, by law, to own, purchase, or possess firearms. 

And then something happened that would forever change American history. Six days before Thanksgiving, on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald using a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle purchased from a mail-order catalog. The Kennedy assassination led to the Gun Control Act of 1968, which was specifically intended to keep “firearms out of the hands of those not legally entitled to possess them because of age, criminal background, or incompetence.” 

Through the Gun Control Act of 1968, the federal government placed restrictions on the sale of firearms across state lines and expanded the prohibited persons who were not allowed to purchase or possess firearms. Under the new law, gun purchases became illegal for those who were: 

  • Convicted of a non-business-related felony
  • Found to be mentally incompetent
  • Users of illegal substances

To determine this information, those who wished to purchase a firearm from an FFL had to complete a questionnaire of yes/no questions such as “Are you a convicted felon?” and “Are you a fugitive from justice?” Although these questions needed to be answered, they did not require verification from the gun seller. 

In 1972, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) was formed as a way to help control the illegal sales and use of firearms. 

In March of 1981, the assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan led to further gun legislation with the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, which amended the Gun Control Act of 1968 to now require background checks for the purchase of firearms from a retailer. The Brady Act, as it’s known today, also led to the development of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which launched in 1998, and is the current law on background checks for gun purchases in the U.S.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System

Background Checks: A Historical Guide to How They Work and How They Don't

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, and was launched by the FBI on November 30, 1998. The NICS is used by FFLs to check the eligibility of those who wish to purchase firearms. 

Located at the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division in Clarksburg, West Virginia, the NICS is currently used by 30 states and five districts, as well as the District of Columbia, to check the backgrounds of those who wish to purchase firearms. Those states that opt not to use the NICS have their own point of contact (POC) to complete background checks. 

The NICS applies a person’s identifying characteristics, including name and date of birth, to its own index, as well as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database and the Interstate Identification Index. These systems compare the intended purchaser’s demographic information against the national databases to see if they match someone deemed a prohibited person. Prohibited persons include those who are or were: 

  • Convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a year or more
  • Fugitives from justice
  • A user of or addicted to a controlled substance
  • Adjudicated as a mental defective or been committed to a mental health institution
  • Illegal aliens
  • Aliens admitted to the U.S. under a nonimmigrant visa
  • Discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions
  • Renounced their citizenship to the U.S.
  • Subject to a court order that restrains their interactions with an intimate partner or child
  • Convicted of domestic violence

Since its conception, NICS has completed over 300 million background checks and has issued more than 1.3 million denials. The NICS is available 17 hours a day, seven days a week, except for Christmas Day.

How Do Background Checks Work?

When you visit a gun store and attempt to purchase a firearm, you must complete a Firearm Transaction Record, or ATF Form 4473 – which requires the intended purchaser’s name, address, and birthdate. The form also requires a government-issued photo ID and asks questions regarding the individual’s appearance, including height and weight. 

Once the form’s completed, the gun seller can either call the 1-800 number for NICS or use the online system to run the background check. In over 90 percent of the cases, the results are almost immediate, with the system either approving, delaying, or denying the purchase within minutes. 

With an approval, the sale can immediately proceed as planned with you purchasing the firearm. If there is a delay, the NICS and FBI investigate the inquiry over the next three days. If the FFL does not hear anything within that time period or if a determination cannot be made, then the retailer can, but does not have to, continue with the firearm transfer. When this occurs, it’s often referred to as a “default proceed” sale. 

When a denial is made, which occurs in only about 2 percent of background checks, the retailer is unable to sell or transfer the firearm to the individual in question. You must submit a request to the NICS to receive the reason for your denial, the most common of which is a history of a felony conviction. 

If you believe you were given an erroneous denial, you can appeal the decision by completing a Voluntary Appeal File (VAF), which can be done online or by mailing your request to the FBI. Along with the VAF application, you will also need to be fingerprinted to move forward with the appeal process.

When is a Background Check Needed to Purchase a Gun?

Background Checks: A Historical Guide to How They Work and How They Don't

A background check is necessary any time you purchase a gun from a retail provider, which is defined as someone conducting business in the sale of firearms. These sellers must have a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and are legally mandated to complete a background check for every firearm sold to a non-licensed individual. 

It doesn’t matter if you purchase the firearm in a brick-and-mortar store, a gun show, online, or through a magazine – if the seller is a retailer provider (i.e. has an FFL), then the background check must occur.

When is a Background Check Not Needed to Purchase a Gun?

Under federal law, any adult can sell a personally owned firearm to another adult in the same state as long as you know, to the best of your ability, that they’re allowed to own a firearm. 

Private sellers aren’t required to ask for identification, they don’t have to complete any forms, nor keep any records of the transaction. What’s more, federal law does not mandate a background check to purchase a firearm from a private seller. This includes buying a gun from a relative, a neighbor, or a friend. 

Although federal law does not demand a background check for the private sale of firearms, some states do require a background check. 

If you inherit or are gifted a firearm, you don’t need a background check.

Do Gun Background Checks Differ By State?

Thirty states, five districts, and D.C. all rely solely on the NICS for gun background checks. The following 13 states use their own full point of contact (POC) data system for gun background checks and do not use the FBI’s system: 

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Oregan
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Virginia

Some states, namely Maryland, New Hampshire, Washington, and Wisconsin, use NICS for long guns, but a state program for background checks on handguns. Iowa, Nebraska, and North Carolina use NICS, but have a partial POC for background checks in relation to handgun permits. 

Many of these states have added their own provisions to their background checks, on top of what federal law mandates. In most cases, they also include looking at state and local records to determine if the person in question should or should not be allowed to own a firearm. 

Some states have implemented universal background checks via an FFL, even during a private gun sale. While Maryland and Pennsylvania require background checks for all handgun transfers, regardless of retail or private sale, the following states require a background check for all firearm transfers: 

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregan
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington

In addition, some states require permits to purchase firearms. Hawaii, Illinois, and Massachusetts require a permit for all gun purchases, while Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, and North Carolina require a permit for purchasing a handgun. These permits often require their own background check as well. 

It should be noted that although these laws exist in Nebraska, they’re not currently being enforced, but are expected to be by January of 2020.

But Isn’t There a Gun Show Loophole?

Background Checks: A Historical Guide to How They Work and How They Don't

There is no gun show loophole when it comes to background checks for gun purchases. The law clearly states that if you purchase a firearm from a person with an FFL, a background check must occur. If you purchase a gun from a private seller, you don’t need a background check. These same two principles apply whether you’re at a gun show or not. 

So if you purchase a firearm from a gun seller with an FFL at a gun show, you will need to complete Form 4473 and have a background check. Under federal law, if you purchase a gun from a private seller at a gun show, you don’t need to have a background check. Your state laws may differ. 

Of the average 4,000 gun shows in the U.S. each year, it’s estimated that 50 to 75 percent of vendors have an FFL, and therefore require purchasers of firearms to complete background checks. But that doesn’t mean that 25 to 50 percent of vendors are private sellers of firearms – many of these are vendors that sell gun paraphernalia. Gun shows are filled with vendors who sell everything from t-shirts and ball caps to holsters and concealed carry gear, and it’s these sellers that make up the majority of the remaining non-licensed vendors. 

Are there private gun sellers at gun shows? Absolutely. But the idea that criminals are flocking to gun shows to illegally purchase firearms is untrue. In a report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, only 0.7 percent of convicted criminals purchased their firearms at gun shows.

Have Background Checks Stopped Gun Violence and Crimes?

The research on the effectiveness of background checks to stop gun violence shows conflicting evidence. In an October 2018 published studycompleted by U.S. Davis and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in the 10 years following California’s comprehensive background checks, the number of gun homicides and suicides were not impacted. In a similar study published in July of the same year, gun violence did not increase with the repeal of comprehensive background checks. 

Yet other studies show that background checks do reduce violence. A 2015 study found that requiring Connecticut handgun owners to go through a background check led to a 40-percent decline in gun homicides and suicides over a 10-year period. 

This contradicting research shows that the problem of criminals getting their hands on guns can’t be stopped by mere background checks. According to the Department of Justice Special Report on Firearm Violence, 77 percent of state prisoners associated with firearm crimes received their firearm through: 

  • Theft
  • Black market
  • Drug dealer
  • On the street
  • Family or friends

Not one of these criminals would have been affected by background checks, universal or otherwise. After all, most criminals don’t feel obligated to use legal means to obtain their firearms since they’ve either broken laws previously or plan to do so. 

Beyond theft and the black market, criminals also use straw purchases, which are illegal, to get their hands on firearms. Straw purchasers are people who can pass a background check and intentionally purchase firearms for criminals. The San Bernardino terrorists used a straw purchaser to get the firearms they used to kill 14 people in the 2015 mass shooting.

Background checks for gun purchases often become a talking point after these types of events, but those who partake in this terroristic activity often don’t have criminal histories that would flag a background check. For instance, the Virginia Tech madman legally purchased a gun at a Virginia-based FFL and passed his background check before using it to shoot fellow students. 

And then there’s the fact that sometimes the background check system fails. NICS is not a 100-percent absolute system, and time has shown that gun background checks can only be as reliable as the records they contain. Devin Kelley, the Texas Church madman, was prohibited by law to own or purchase a firearm because of a domestic violence conviction while in the Air Force. Yet Kelley purchased four firearms between 2014 and 2017, completing Form 4473 and being approved each time by NICS. 

In this case, the Air Force failed to report the court marshall to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, which the NICS relies on for information. So, again, the system is only as good as the information it contains. 

(It’s also worth pointing out that Kelley’s murderous rampage was stopped by a private citizen, a plumber named Stephen Willeford, who legally owned an AR-15. Kelley was shot in the leg and torso by Willeford, stopping him from murdering more people inside that church before the police could arrive.)

And whereas sometimes the system which gun background checks rely upon is incomplete, in other instances it produces false positives. In other words law-abiding citizens get incorrectly matched by NICS or their respective state-level POC data system with criminals who have similar names. And if that happens to you, then you could be denied your right to own a gun because of a bureaucratic error. Estimates from the Crime Prevention Research Center pointed to 93 percent of initial NICS denials turning out as false positives in 2009 with similar estimates in 2010. (The Obama administration quit reporting these statistics after 2010.) Yes, individuals can appeal this denial and restore their gun rights, but dealing with bureacracy can be an expensive hassle.

The myriad of issues with NICS is why the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a trade association representing the firearms industry, launched FixNICS.org in 2013. It is also why the NSSF publishes a yearly ranking of the states based on the number of mental health records they provide relative to their population – to encourage the states to comply with existing federal law, and submit any and all records establishing an individual as a prohibited person to the FBI’s databases. Their goal is to improve the existing system for everyone so that gun background checks are more accurate and complete.

Whether you like them or not, background checks are here to stay for gun owners and gun purchasers – but they are not the saving grace that some make them out to be. Background checks for gun purchases can only do so much and are not the permanent solution to keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and keeping Americans safe from gun violence. More concerning is that they give the state an ever-growing list of private citizens who own guns, and such a list has historically been used for subsequent gun confiscation attempts.

From our friends at ammo.com where the original article can be viewed.

The threat of socialism looms over U.S. in 2020 and beyond

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By Rick Manning

This column is unusual.  I usually do not write about experiences around the Capitol Beltway, but the opportunity to talk to dozens of radio, television and videoblog talkers and reporters at the Conservative Political Action Conference put on by the American Conservative Union changes that norm.

Most people have seen or heard about events coming from the conference as President Donald Trump’s speech along with speeches from the Vice President and others were front and center in many of the online headlines.  As a leader in the conservative movement, I had the opportunity to be interviewed by more than thirty media outlets reaching more than 1,500 markets.  One America News viewers tell me that my comments were aired prior to the President’s speech and friends contacted me after hearing me on the Lars Larson Show, to name just two of these opportunities.

And while all that is fun, what matters is what dominated the talk: the threat of socialism.

For the first time in my life the domestic threat to our freedom has never been more real, and that is why I chose to focus on attacking the root of the socialist tree through these media outlets.

Let’s be clear, socialism is immoral.  It is immoral just as certainly as robbery is, because ultimately socialism is nothing more or less than sticking a gun in the face of someone to take the product of their labor and give it to another.

The Green New Deal makes it clear that force would be used to push compliance of various mandates. Ending the usage of internal combustion engines within ten years is a simple example of this taking.  If you currently own a non-electric vehicle, that car would be rendered worthless within a decade as they became illegal.  The closer you get to the deadline the less valuable they would become until they would be just chunks of metal.

Beef would become unavailable except for the wealthiest of the wealthy as cattle would be exterminated from the United States forcing the import of red meat for consumption.  Milk, butter, cheese and ice cream would also all need to be imported as domestic dairies would be a thing of the past.

But full-blown socialism is even worse, because at its core, it is the government confiscation of all private assets and money and redistributing them at the whim of government officials.  With democratic socialism it becomes a simple vote on who gets what, no matter who earned what. Free markets, which are the true expression of liberty, get abolished in favor of a political kleptocracy that determines who wins and who loses artificially negating merit.

The Green New Deal exemplifies this through its call for guaranteed incomes for those who do not want to work, after all, it is not fair for those gifted with ambition to do better economically with those without it. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.”  And socialism gives them the authority to justify taking whatever they want.

The immorality of a government system that strips away all individual power and puts it at the whim of others should be apparent, but in case it is not. Imagine a nine-year-old getting a bicycle paid for by parents who scrimped in order to pay for the present.  While the child is proudly riding his or her new bike, a group of neighbor kids decide that it isn’t fair that they have old bikes, chase down the child knocking him or her off the bike and taking it for their own.

When asked about the bike, the group who stole it simply state that it wasn’t fair that this one child should have it when they didn’t, so they confiscated it and gave it to someone without a bicycle.

That is exactly what a Democratic socialist scheme does. It dictates terms to the minority creating a society driven by envy and avarice.

And while the end is guaranteed to be empty shelves and deprivation as those who work accept the verdict of the majority and do only the bare minimum required.

In the end socialism is scarcity, as the moral bankruptcy of legalized theft destroys as surely and swiftly as a fire unleashed upon the entire nation with nothing to stand in its way.

So the next time someone utters the big lie that socialism and communism are nice, don’t let it stand.  Ask them how they would like it if someone moved into their home without permission, ate their food without paying, invited others to join them, and then physically removed the original homeowner because he or she had too much and needed to share.

When they look at you aghast, just tell them, there is nothing nice about socialism, it is evil and must be struck down before its roots get too deep.

That is the message I delivered across America from CPAC, please join me in helping destroy this scourge before it consumes our great nation.

The author is president of Americans for Limited Government.

History of 500 Nitro Ammo

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Image: 500 Nitro

From ammo.com: The history around the development of the .500 Nitro Express is not entirely clear. It first appeared in the United Kingdom in the late 19th century, where it evolved from the .500 Express case. The difference between the two is that black powder is loaded in the .500 Express, and cordite is loaded in the .500 Nitro Express.

The .500 Nitro Express was designed to be fired from the most common hunting rifles of the late 1800s and early 1900s, including single and double barrel rifles. Today this cartridge is for sale for double action and bolt action rifles made by some of the most excellent rifle makers in Europe – including Holland & HollandHambrusch and Rigby.

Cordite: The Father of the 500 Nitro

Invented in 1889, one of cordite’s main features is an increased performance envelope at the cost of increased pressure. This meant that any rifles using the new material required stronger barrels that could withstand the pressure of the new explosive material. The term “nitro” was, at the time, commonly used to distinguish cordite-based rounds from black powder rounds, as these two materials were anything but interchangeable. The “express” in the name refers to the greatly increased velocity of the round resulting from this then-new technology.

The Quintessential Round for African Safari

The 500 Nitro found itself a very important niche: If you were going to Africa on safari, looking for a round that would drop the biggest and most dangerous creatures that the Dark Continent had to offer, the 500 Nitro was 100 percent what you needed. Charging, dangerous game could be dropped at over 100 yards out thanks to the 570 grain bullet sectional density.

This round is probably overkill for any game commonly hunted in North America. However, if you want to be extra sure that the charging kodiak or bison is going to go down, the 500 Nitro can certainly get the job done.

500 Nitro Express was developed from a black powder ancestor, the .500 Black Powder Express – which was great for deer, antelope or boar, but was not recommended for the more dangerous game of the African savannah.

The most popular rounds for hunting this kind of dangerous game in the pre-smokeless powder era were 8 bore rounds and, for some adventurous types, 4 bore. The 500 Nitro, however, could be used in far lighter weapons than either of these – the typical 500 Nitro rifle is about 11 pounds. The jacketed round meant that the impact could be delivered with far greater precision. And while the 600 Nitro was more popular, more often than not, the safari big-game hunter would not be carrying that weapon. Who wants to ask for a rifle when there’s an elephant charging at them? Combine this with less recoil and less expensive ammunition, and it’s no wonder that the 500 Nitro outperformed its bigger brother on the market.

The safari experience became crystallized around the 1830s, and was a rite of passage for those of means during the height of the Pax BritannicaMajor Sir William Cornwallis Harris was the man who firmly established the safari template: Waking at dawn, brisk walking all morning, an afternoon of rest, finished with a formal dinner at night and storytelling over tobacco and drinks. This is the pattern still used today, even among those who venture to Africa for a photographic safari rather than one spent bagging the continent’s most dangerous game.

The Fall and Resurrection of the Safari

The success of the decolonization movements in the former British Empire are part of the reason for the fall of the 500 Nitro Express into obscurity. This is because, as the British Empire shrunk, it became increasingly difficult for Brits to engage in big-game hunting in Africa. Thus, the need for this round declined. Kynoch was the only company left producing the round by the 1960s. By the 1970s, no one was making 500 Nitro rounds anymore. This, combined with an increasing social stigma against hunting African megafauna, largely made the practice extinct.

Still, as is often the case, what is old is new again and African safaris came back into style in the 1990s. In its heyday, British big bore barely sold at all to American audiences who did not have the privilege of visiting and hunting in the African colonies. However, when British big bore rounds came back in the 1990s for the African safari revival, the demand was largely centered in the United States. Companies such as Hornady, A-Squared and Federal offer ammunition in the 500 Nitro. Eley purchased Kynoch during the Dark Ages of British big bore and has since licensed the brand name to Kynamco in the UK, which sells the classic Kynoch-style 500 Nitro today. Norma of Sweden sells the round out of Scandinavia.

The 500 Nitro’s Performance

The main appeal of the 500 Nitro isn’t so much its power, though. While it certainly has enough of that, the main appeal for big game hunters is the accuracy and the weight of the double rifle. Walking around the African bush is no mean feat, even when unencumbered by a giant elephant gun. The 500 Nitro is a round for weapons that can easily be carried for hours, chambered quickly, and fired intuitively – even after a long day of trekking through the bush.

As impressive as the ballistics are for this century-old cartridge, the .500 Nitro Express deserves the attention it has garnered. The cartridge fires a Hornady Dangerous Game Solid bullet weighing 570 grains out of the muzzle, traveling at 2,100 feet per second and carrying a muzzle energy of more than 5,800 foot pounds. 200 yards downrange, the bullet is still flying faster than 1,600 feet per second and delivering more than 3,200 foot pounds of energy. Today, the .500 Nitro Express is sold with Soft Point bulletsTriple Shock bullets and many other popular configurations.

Some hunters declare the .500 Nitro Express has too much power and over-penetrates all but the largest elephants, but other hunters tell stories of using the cartridge on successful hunts for Cape buffalo and rhinoceros. The .500 Nitro Express cartridge, in any case, is extremely effective and capable at short ranges. This cartridge does have a definite downside in that the rifle must be very heavy to keep recoil at almost manageable levels. In a rifle weighing 10 pounds, the .500 Nitro Express still generates recoil energy of about 85 foot pounds. That is nearly double the recoil energy of an eight-pound 12 gaugeshotgun.

American hunters will not find many applications for the .500 Nitro Express beyond stopping a rogue elephant that has escaped from the local zoo or stopping a semi-truck that’s trying to run you over. However, the idea of owning a cartridge that shoots nearly an ounce of lead with two tons of force is a compelling thought. 

500 Nitro Ballistics: Chart of Average 500 Nitro Ballistics

Note: This information comes from the manufacturer and is for informational purposes only. The actual ballistics obtained with your firearm can vary considerably from the advertised ballistics. Also, ballistics can vary from lot to lot with the same brand and type load.

China is poisoning America with Fentanyl

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A fatal dose of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is now the leading cause of fatal drug overdoses. In 2017 alone, 49,000 Americans lost their lives to fentanyl.  

What is the source of the synthetic opioid, abuse of which leads to this senseless loss of life? China is the principal culprit. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has identified China as the primary source of illicit fentanyl and the painkiller’s analogues that enter our country. 

Drug traffickers use two primary techniques for delivering fentanyl manufactured in China: It is either shipped directly into the U.S. via international mail or shipped into Mexico to be smuggled into America.

Fentanyl is a unique drug in several ways. The profit margin is remarkable: A $3,000 investment can produce $1,500,000 in earnings. 

A laboratory-made drug, fentanyl requires less time and space to produce than its agricultural counterpart, heroin. Chemists can manufacture fentanyl in small labs and use easy shipment methods. 

The amount of fentanyl necessary to produce its painkilling effect is so small that manufacturers can ship it in ordinary packages such as envelopes used for ordinary letters.

Cheap production isn’t the only economic benefit suppliers have on their side. Fentanyl is said to produce a better high and be more addictive and potent than heroin (50 to 100 times more powerful). 

This poison isn’t affecting only addicts. In some cases, first responders have inhaled airborne fentanyl, resulting in a contact overdose.  

We know that fentanyl is exceptionally dangerous. The question is: How do we fight its distribution?

A critical step is finding supply routes, with the ultimate goal of stopping the illegal movement of fentanyl into the U.S. from overseas. 

First, distributors order fentanyl online and have it shipped here via express consignment or direct mail. Shipping via mail is successful with the help of freight forwarders, multiple transfers of custody, and manipulated information at checkpoints, such as falsified labels on prescription bottles. 

The street corner drug rings of old have morphed into hosts of domain names on the internet. Street deals have been replaced by shopping online from the comfort of home. The drug war is drastically shifting with advancing communications technology.

Second, manufacturers ship fentanyl to drug cartels in Mexico, who funnel it over the southern border. Minor amounts of the drug also have been traced to routes that begin in Canada and the Caribbean islands. Fentanyl shipped via international mail is usually 90 percent pure, whereas fentanyl brought over the borders often is diluted with other drugs and only about 10 percent pure. 

The People’s Republic of China, the biggest source of the fentanyl problem, is the world’s largest manufacturer and exporter of pharmaceutical ingredients. Perhaps 40 percent of global pharmaceutical output is from China, yet the communist regime has few laws governing controlled substances such as fentanyl.

China’s inadequate regulation of drugs has left room for an estimated 160,000 chemical companies there with the ability to produce and export fentanyl.

The Chinese Communist Party has the power to control production. The U.S. has made mostly unsuccessful attempts to persuade China to address this problem as a supply matter.

China has shown a few signs of supposed cooperation. For example, conversations between the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and China’s National Narcotics Control Bureau led to China’s implementing scheduling controls on two key fentanyl precursor chemicals. However, those controls have done little to curb export of fentanyl to the U.S. At the G-20 talks in early December, China said it would work to make fentanyl a controlled substance, but has yet to take action. 

This is an immediate and growing crisis. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that overdose deaths due to fentanyl rose by 14 percent in 2010, 46 percent in 2016, and 60 percent in 2017. That is a 428 percent increase in seven years.

In addition to increasing security at the Mexican-U.S. border to intercept illegal drug shipments, the Trump administration should prioritize taking other action to stop the illegal importation of fentanyl from China. 

To persuade China of its stake in helping us, we should:

1. Diversify our sources of pharmaceutical ingredients.

China has a majority hold on the pharmaceutical market. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce reported that the nation exports $35 billion worth of “western medicine.” 

If Americans begin to look elsewhere for these products, it would affect Chinese producers. India is an untapped, alternate resource for cost-efficient pharmaceuticals. Competition also would breed better pharmaceutical standards and give us greater leverage with China. 

2. Work with our European allies to pressure China.

The United States is not the only country suffering at the hands of the opioid epidemic. Europe is experiencing an escalated death toll from overdoses. Europe’s illegal fentanyl supply also traces back to China. 

Working together with European countries to convince China to stop these exports also would increase our leverage.

3. Increase domestic efforts to stop the opioid epidemic.  

Nationally, we must continue to develop chemical-detection technology; diligently fight international imports; rapidly share intelligence among national organizations; and stop overprescribing opioid-based medication.

From anthrax to 9/11, our response to national emergencies has been swift. Today we face a new national emergency: the illegal importation of fentanyl that is fueling the opioid epidemic. 

Fentanyl is infiltrating our borders and killing our citizens. We must take both national and international action.

COMMENTARY BY

Peyton Smith is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. Peyton Smith,  and

Portrait of Hans von Spakovsky

Hans von Spakovsky is an authority on a wide range of issues—including civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, immigration, the rule of law and government reform—as a senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and manager of the think tank’s Election Law Reform Initiative. Read his research.


House Democrats declare Trump obstructed justice but admit ‘we do not now have the evidence’ to impeach

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By Robert Romano

“We do not now have the evidence all sorted out and everything to do an impeachment.”

That was House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on March 3 that the House is not ready to impeach President Donald Trump because the evidentiary predicate has not yet been laid.

At the same time, Nadler contradictorily told Stephanopoulos that it was “very clear” that President Donald Trump had obstructed justice, citing Trump repeatedly calling Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe a “witch hunt,” firing former FBI Director James Comey and accusing him of intimidating witnesses.

Predetermined outcome, anyone? Nadler admits he does not have the evidence, but has already decided that Trump is guilty of obstruction.

The American people should consider this the opening bid by Nadler to get at information currently in the possession of Mueller, including his final report, which is now expected any day to be delivered to Attorney General William Barr — and which Nadler and Congressional Democrats hope will implicate Trump in something. But it might not. So, he needs to lay the predicate for his own investigation to continue after Mueller is done. 

Nadler went on to lay out the necessary political predicate for impeachment as well, stating, “Before you impeach somebody, you have to persuade them that it ought to happen. You have to persuade enough of the opposition party voters, so the Trump voters, that you’re not just trying… to steal the last election, to reverse the results.”

Nadler added, “We may or may not get there.”

Maybe they won’t.

Here, Nadler is acknowledging that he presently lacks the necessary evidence to impeach Trump, despite the fact that many of the things he has mentioned are already in the public record. James Comey has already testified about his conversations with President Trump. So has Michael Cohen. 

When President Trump fired Comey, he reportedly, according to former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, told Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to include Comey’s conduct in the Russia investigation in the justification, but Rosenstein supposedly refused, and so the President included it in his own justification for firing Comey in his cover letter, writing, “While I appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

Here, in firing Comey, Trump appears to have been blasting him for lying to his face about the extent of the Russia investigation, which really was always an investigation into Trump in 2016 and then in 2017 after he was inaugurated. Trump had been elected as President to head the executive branch, yet by then, his campaign was already under Justice Department investigation and being surveilled using Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants allegedly for coordinating the DNC and John Podesta hacks that appeared on Wikileaks, for which no evidence has ever been furnished. They thought he was a Russian agent. Still think it. Nobody in the Trump campaign was ever charged with the hacks or distributing emails to Wikileaks.

When Trump found out Comey was lying about the extent of the investigation, and that the spying had been carried over into the new administration, Comey was fired. Trump was investigating what happened, and Comey lied to the investigator. Comey should have been fired. It was a rogue operation. Trump oversees the executive branch. He is the one person elected to do that. It’s his business to conduct political oversight of the Justice Department and the Attorney General and the FBI Director, and if he is not happy with how the laws are being enforced, he can and should get new Attorneys General and FBI Directors.

Under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, it clearly states “The executive power shall be vested in a president of the United States of America.”

As the President, Trump is obviously in a unique position to know whether or not he is a Russian agent. Giving him the benefit of the doubt for a moment, let’s say he wasn’t, and then he learns of an FBI investigation attempting to frame him for those crimes. His Attorney General had been pressured into being recused, cutting off the President. What was he supposed to do?

Apparently, in official Washington, D.C. you’re just supposed to let it all play out. Act like you’re not the President charged with enforcing the laws. Ignore the fact that the investigation began as opposition research by the Hillary Clinton campaign, the dossier by ex-British spy Christopher Steele, and then the Obama administration using it to spy on the opposition party in an election year.  And then just wait for the erroneous, malicious investigation to conclude and hope you’re not brought before a kangaroo court for crimes you know you did not commit — and which were concocted by your political opponents.

A president is not meant to operate under these circumstances, but yet what you had were two administrations. The duly elected President in Trump, the legitimate government, and this unelected Justice Department investigation whose legitimacy was only ever owed to former President Barack Obama and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch — and whatever legitimacy it had ceased when they left office.

It should have ended the moment Trump came into office, but it didn’t.

If this was not unconstitutional, what is?

In the Federalist No. 70, Alexander Hamilton argued that we only have one president at a time for very good reason, writing, “Wherever two or more persons are engaged in any common enterprise or pursuit, there is always danger of difference of opinion. If it be a public trust or office, in which they are clothed with equal dignity and authority, there is peculiar danger of personal emulation and even animosity. From either, and especially from all these causes, the most bitter dissensions are apt to spring.”

Leading to what? Hamilton warned, “Whenever these happen, they lessen the respectability, weaken the authority, and distract the plans and operation of those whom they divide. If they should unfortunately assail the supreme executive magistracy of a country, consisting of a plurality of persons, they might impede or frustrate the most important measures of the government, in the most critical emergencies of the state. And what is still worse, they might split the community into the most violent and irreconcilable factions, adhering differently to the different individuals who composed the magistracy.” 

In short, in its worst instance, dividing the executive power in this manner can lead to factions and civil war. It’s dangerous.

Now there remain two factions in what is supposed to be a unitary executive branch, for two years almost. When presidents are sworn into office, they take the following oath, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

When Trump came into office in 2017, he was already under investigation, apparently for crimes he did not commit, and arguably was left with very bad options with how to function while preserving the Constitution from a rogue administration of law. How does allowing a legal coup occurring on your watch preserve, protect and defend the Constitution?

This was an untenable, unbelievable abuse of power.

The FBI Director was lying to the one person who was elected to oversee the administration of justice when asked about the investigation repeatedly, and in the meantime was telling Congress something else entirely about that investigation. This is the constitutional mess that now Trump and Attorney General William Barr must clean up — so that this never happens again. It won’t be easy. This may very well have caused irreparable damage to our delicate constitutional system. It creates a terrible precedent where outgoing presidents can order investigations into incoming presidents to knee-cap them on the way into office.

In the meantime, Congress will play politics with the outcome of Mueller’s report, even it and when it confirms that there was no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to hack the DNC and John Podesta.  

Per Nadler, Trump firing Comey or even Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to restore the unitary administration of law by the executive branch under the Constitution — and end a politically motivated, malicious investigation — is said to be obstruction of justice. Apparently if Barr moves to clean up the mess, that will be obstruction, too. It never ends. We’ll have breathless hearings for the next 19 months on this. 

Fortunately, Nadler has set out two clear standards for the legitimacy of his own investigation: Evidence and persuading Trump supporters this is not about overturning the election. So, let’s see everything, including all the wiretaps and FISA warrants. Good luck persuading Trump supporters that this wasn’t a coup when President Trump declassifies everything.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.  reproduced with permission. Original can be viewed here.

Capitalism vs. Socialism

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Decades after capitalism seemed to have triumphed over socialism, politicians are once again arguing about the merits and drawbacks of these opposing economic systems. Why are we still having this debate?

Andy Puzder, former CEO of the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., explains the misconceptions that keep the debate alive at Prager U. Take their quiz.

Love this snow removing device!

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UPDATE: The last video was faulty. Here’s another one.

This is nifty gadget for a low-tech idea for removing roof snow from a small building or low roof.

This is why we can’t have nice things!

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Please form an orderly line and list all the things wrong here.

House Eyes Votes on 2 Gun Control Measures

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The Democrat-controlled House is expected to vote this week on two gun control bills, one of which would subject gun sales by licensed dealers to federal review while the other would impose a universal background check on gun owners.

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee passed both measures on a 23-15 vote along party lines.

In a public statement, the National Rifle Association said the measures would not cut off criminals’ access to firearms and instead would inconvenience law-abiding citizens.

Reps. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and Pete King, R-N.Y., are spearheading what some call the most high-profile action on gun control in two decades. Neither is a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Titled the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, one of the bills targets firearms purchased online or at gun shows, requiring these purchases to be subject to the federal background check system. 

The legislation would amend current law that mandates only licensed firearms dealers must perform background checks before approving a gun sale. The amendment would require all gun transfers go through licensed firearm dealers to run background checks. 

Gifts between family members and temporary transfers for use at a shooting range and hunting would be exempt from a background check.

The bill isn’t as bipartisan as its title suggests, with only four Republicans co-sponsoring the measure besides King: Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Brian Mast of Florida, Fred Upton of Michigan, and Chris Smith of New Jersey.

The other bill, sponsored by House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., would extend the review period for a gun sale for up to 20 days. It is co-sponsored by King and Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C.

Under the proposed Enhanced Background Checks Act, gun owners no longer would be able to bypass a background check if it isn’t completed within three days. 

The review period would be extended to 10 days and the bill would allow the buyer to request a review if the check hasn’t been completed by then. If another 10 days goes by without notification from the background check system, the gun sale could advance. 

House Democrats said the three-day safety valve allowed a gunman to fatally shoot nine persons at a Bible study inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015.

Proponents of the bill cite that time period as the central justification to enhance communications between local law enforcement and the federal background check system. The gunman was able to buy a gun despite pending felony drug charges against him. 

The National Rifle Association countered the notion that the three-day waiting period led to the Charleston shooting, noting that the shooter’s attempt to purchase the firearm on April 11, 2015, was delayed because of his arrest for drug possession. 

However, the NRA also said the firearm “was transferred to him five days later, absent a direct proceed order from the National Instant Background Check System,” adding: 

The attack did not occur until June 17. In the intervening time, the FBI had the opportunity to continue to investigate whether the perpetrator was prohibited from possessing firearms and could have referred the case to ATF [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] for a firearm retrieval had they determined he was indeed prohibited.

The NRA concludes that due to the FBI’s failure to continue an investigation on the gun transfer, lawmakers’ attempt to connect the Charleston shooting to the three-day waiting period is false.

Joshua Nelson is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. Republished with permission from The Daily Signal.

VIDEO: Facebook targets conservatives. An insider reveals all.

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Project Veritas has obtained and published documents and presentation materials from a former Facebook insider. This information describes how Facebook engineers plan and go about policing political speech. Screenshots from a Facebook workstation show the specific technical actions taken against political figures, as well as “[e]xisting strategies” taken to combat political speech.

Meet the Facebook insider, and go behind the scenes of how the tech giant “demotes bad content”, “deboosts” conservative livestreams, classifies users, and triggers special features “close to elections.” 

She provided Project Veritas with documents showing the bias evident in Facebook’s policies and actions, and how software engineers go about censoring voices on the right. 

Here’s what the Facebook insider told Veritas: 

“I think that the biggest thing, that getting the documents, getting video or still pictures of what was going on that shows that it is actually happening.  This isn’t rumors, they talk about how right-wingers, they come up with all these crazy theories, and that’s not actually happening at these social media companies. They pooh pooh it.  But here it is and it’s in your face.

You can view the full video HERE.  And you’ll see how known conservatives have been victims here and how the left is given a pass.

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