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FDA – Killing more people than it saves?

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By Dan Mitchell

In my five-part series on coronavirus and the failure of big government (herehereherehere, and here), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received some unflattering attention.

Whether we’re examining its performance regarding equipment, testing, or vaccines, the bureaucracy has hindered the private sector’s ability to quickly and effectively respond to the pandemic.

Image: Mark Perry Venn Diagrams

Today, let’s devote an entire column to problems with the FDA.

Historically, the big issue is that the bureaucracy is too cautious and risk-averse.

The argument from the FDA is that a lengthy and expensive process for approving drugs is necessary to avoid the risk of a drug with bad side effects.

And there are benefits to that approach, with thalidomide being the obvious example.

However, there are also costs. Most notably, the FDA’s onerous approval process means that it takes a long time before consumers get access to many life-saving and life-improving drugs.

The net result is that the FDA has killed more people than it has saved.

If you think that is hyperbole, read this summary of academic research from the Independent Institute.

…requiring a lot of testing has at least two negative effects. First, it delays the arrival of superior drugs. During the delay, some people who would have lived end up dying. Second, additional testing requirements raise the costs of bringing a new drug to market; hence, many drugs that would have been developed are not, and all the people who would have been helped, even saved, are not. …three bodies of evidence suggest that the FDA kills and harms, on net. …It is difficult to estimate how many lives the post-1962 FDA controls have cost, but the number is likely to be substantial; Gieringer (1985) estimates the loss of life from delay alone to be in the hundreds of thousands (not to mention millions of patients who endured unnecessary morbidity). …Deaths owing to drug lag have been numbered in the hundreds of thousands. …in recent years thousands of patients have died because the FDA has delayed the arrival of new drugs and devices

Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that the FDA process means companies much charge higher prices to compensate for the expensive approval process.

But let’s look at where we are today and explore the FDA’s role in fighting the coronavirus.

We’ll start with this tweet about the bureaucracy’s unhelpful role last year as the pandemic was getting worse.

The hero of February was the Seattle Flu Study, which raised the alarm about community spread; the villain was the FDA, which refused to allow private companies to develop tests.

Incredibly, the FDA is doubling down.https://t.co/ANAvasasty

— Ben Thompson (@benthompson) May 17, 2020

But I mostly want to focus on what the FDA is doing today to make our lives less safe.

Professor Garret Jones of George Mason University has a column in the Washington Examiner excoriating the bureaucracy’s deadly delays in approving another vaccine.

Good enough for Britain. Good enough for the European Union. Not good enough for the United States. That’s what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration thinks about the evidence for the Oxford-developed, AstraZeneca-made COVID-19 vaccine: the cheap, refrigerator-friendly, easy-to-transport injection that, so far at least, is 100% successful at keeping people with COVID-19 out of the hospital. The Oxford vaccine has been given to more than a million British citizens, and the EU is now scrambling to find as many doses as it can… So why hasn’t the Oxford vaccine been approved for use in the U.S.? Because the FDA made clear that AstraZeneca needed to finish its lengthy trials in the U.S., above and beyond the trials AstraZeneca had already run in the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa. …My colleague at George Mason University, Alex Tabarrok, refers to the “invisible graveyard” — those dead because lifesaving drugs and vaccines were delayed or never invented. Every day we delayed vaccine approval in 2020 was a day that COVID-19 could spread unabated, killing people in the U.S. in the hundreds of thousands. And that deadly delay continues in 2021. …The FDA should approve the Oxford vaccine immediately. Since it doesn’t require fancy freezers, it will easily reach small towns and local clinics in a way that current COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. can’t.

Since I have friends who have died from the virus, it’s infuriating that the FDA is hindering the approval and deployment of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Heck, I would love the chance to get it myself, yet a bunch of cossetted bureaucrats are telling me that my life should be at risk instead.

If you’re wondering why the FDA is mindlessly causing needless danger and death, this tweet from Professor Jones may tell us everything we need to know (he also mentioned Pelosi’s unhelpful role in the column cited above).

Why is she putting people’s lives at risk?

Is it because she reflexively supports red tape? Is it because she’s getting campaign contributions from Pfizer and is trying to keep a competing vaccine off the market? Is it because Astra-Zeneca’s vaccine was developed in the U.K. and she opposed Brexit?

I don’t know the answer, but I’m 99.99 percent sure she’s already been vaccinated and isn’t at risk like the rest of us.

What about the FDA’s motivations?

Dr. Henry Miller’s recent column in the Wall Street Journal has some insight on why the bureaucracy is willing to put our lives in danger.

…countless patients could benefit, if Food and Drug Administration regulators were less risk-averse. I know that from firsthand experience. …As the head of the FDA’s evaluation team, I had a front-row seat. …during the early 1970s, as the supply of animal pancreases declined and the prevalence of diabetes increased, fears of drug shortages spread. Around the same time, a new and powerful tool—recombinant DNA technology, or gene splicing—became available. …Eli Lilly & Co. immediately saw the technology’s promise for producing human insulin… Insulins had long been Lilly’s flagship products, and the company’s expertise was evident in the purification, laboratory testing and clinical trials of Humulin, its new human insulin. Lilly’s scientists painstakingly verified that their product was pure and identical to pancreatic human insulin. …In May 1982 the company submitted to the FDA a voluminous dossier providing evidence of the product’s safety and efficacy. …My team and I were ready to recommend approval after four months’ review. But when I took the packet to my supervisor, he said, “Four months? No way! If anything goes wrong with this product down the road, people will say we rushed it, and we’ll be toast.” That’s the bureaucratic mind-set. …A large part of regulators’ self-interest lies in staying out of trouble. One way to do that, my supervisor understood, is not to approve in record time products that might experience unanticipated problems.

Sadly, this FDA mindset hasn’t changed.

As a result, Americans are needlessly dying.

P.S. Professor Alex Tabarrok has another example of senseless regulation from the FDA.

The idea that the FDA can regulate and control what individuals may learn about their own bodies is deeply offensive. https://t.co/hVgoK4agM4

— Alex Tabarrok (@ATabarrok) September 19, 2020

P.P.S. Here’s my column on the CDC’s unhelpful role in dealing with the pandemic.

P.P.P.S. And here’s what I wrote about the international bureaucrats at the World Health Organization.

P.P.P.P.S. When dealing with other advanced nations, we should adopt the principle of “mutual recognition” so our consumers have the option of benefiting from products approved elsewhere, such as the Astra-Zeneca vaccine.

P.P.P.P.P.S. In an all-too-typical example of Mitchell’s Law, politicians and bureaucrats have created a process than makes drugs very expensive. They then respond by agitating for price controls rather than fixing the underlying problem.

A Case Study of How Venezuelan Socialism Killed the Goose with the Golden Eggs

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By Dan Mitchell

The economic disintegration of Venezuela is a powerful example how socialism failsEven in a nation with massive oil wealth.

This video from Reason tells the tragic story.

I think long-run data is especially valuable when assessing a nation’s economic performance.

And Venezuela definitely looks terrible when looking at decades of data on per-capita economic output.

Especially when compared to a pro-market nations such as Chile.

Not that we should be surprised. This is what we find anytime capitalist-oriented counties are compared with statism-oriented countries.

And there are many other case studies.

But let’s re-focus on the problems of Venezuela. In one of her Wall Street Journalcolumns, Mary Anastasia O’Grady analyzes the government-caused crisis. She starts by describing what happened.

Efforts to guarantee outcomes are at odds with what it means to live in a free society where equality under the law is the guiding principle. …Hugo Chávez…promised to make everyone in his country equally well-off. The concept sold in a nation that believed it was infinitely rich because it was swimming in oil. …stick it to the haves. When he did, they packed their bags and left. …it is the flight of the knowledge worker that has done the most harm to the nation. …The Bolivarian revolution’s earliest large-scale assault on know-how came during a lockout at the monopoly oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PdVSA) in December 2002. …the regime used it to purge at least 18,000 PdVSA and related-company employees, gutting the industry of most of its experienced personnel. By replacing fired workers with political loyalists, Chávez believed he was protecting his golden goose. …In 2009 the regime expropriated Venezuelan companies that served the oil industry.

And she concludes by describing the consequences.

as long as oil prices were high, the costs of such recklessness was hidden. The party ended when prices tanked in 2014, government revenues dropped precipitously, and central bank money-printing led to a mega-devaluation of the bolivar. …another wave of oil engineers—this time led by a younger generation—went abroad to work. In the years that followed, more oil technicians threw in the towel on life in Venezuela. This vicious circle of declining revenue and human-capital flight has brought the once-mighty Venezuelan petroleum powerhouse to a standstill. 

In other words, exactly as depicted in the video at the start of this column.

No wonder Venezuelans are eating their pets.

Or joining gangs simply as a strategy to get food.

The bottom line is that socialism doesn’t work. Even in a country that has massive reserves of oil.

Sooner or later, the attempt to achieve coerced equality will mean that too many people are on the dole and too few people are producing. Which brings to mind Margaret Thatcher’s famous observation.

P.S. The New York Times actually wrote a big story about Venezuela’s collapse and somehow never mentioned socialism.

P.P.S. Here are four other videos about the impact of socialism in Venezuela.

P.P.P.S. The situation has become so dire that even some socialists are disavowing Venezuela.

AOC/Talib/CNN Economical With The Truth Over Capitol Hill Invasion

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Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) detailed her experience of the encounter during an Instagram Live stream this week.

The GOP Congresswoman, Nancy Mace, who claimed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez exaggerated her claims about the Capitol Hill riot said that the Bronx representative “watered down everyone’s trauma” by telling her version of the events.

After the video aired, Mace (R-SC) tweeted, “My office is 2 doors down. Insurrectionists never stormed our hallway.”

Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib dramatically broke down crying on the House floor on Feb 4th, when talking about the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, and describing how afraid she had been while saying she is thankful she was not there.

Also – CNN Finally Acknowledges the Story Media Spread About Officer Sicknick’s Cause of Death Isn’t True

“…the story largely spread about his death, that a fire extinguisher hit him by protesters has been discounted, according to a CNN report, because they found no blunt force trauma to his body. There has been no evidence otherwise found, such as video or witnesses, that the incident even occurred.”

Read more at Red State

3 Pillars of Progressivism | Bill O’Reilly

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Bill O’Reilly reveals the “three pillars” of progressivism and debunks the leftist myth of so-called “income inequality” in the United States. “All of this is to accumulate power in Washington… the media accepts all the pillars and pushes the progressive agenda.”

When he spells it out you know he’s right.

This is How Creepy Google REALLY Is – You won’t Believe it!

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Here’s an amazing demonstration of how Google tracks cell phone movements, in real-time, to pin datapoints and upload the information.

Part 2 in the Battle of the Midway: Hiryu’s Counterstrike

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We ran Part One last week, here. If you recall we were amazed at how an amateur made a professional-standard video of such astonishing detail – all from the Japanese point of view as they receive information in real time.

Ironing vs Pressing

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File under “Things you never thought about before but are super interesting to know!”

BEWARE BIDEN’S SURE-TO-COME GUN CONTROL AGENDA

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By Pete Souza (White House) [PD], via Wikimedia Commons

By Bob Barr

Second Amendment supporters should take no comfort in the fact that President Biden issued no executive orders restricting firearms or ammunition during his first week in the Oval Office.

The new Commander in Chief remains a clear and present danger to our Second Amendment rights, and with Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress, it is only a question of when and how boldly he will move his gun control agenda forward, not if he will do so.

Even by most Democrat Party standards, many of the Biden campaign’s gun control proposals were extreme. The former vice president is too sly and too experienced from his long tenure in the Senate to believe he will succeed in quickly accomplishing every item on that wish list.

But, by having set the bar so high with his campaign’s radical gun control agenda, now as President he can make his Administration appear magnanimous and willing to “compromise” with the GOP by adopting the agenda bit by bit (a façade that always appeals to “moderate” Republicans).

To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “there may be method to his madness.”

The start of any real action on guns almost certainly will take place within the regulatory environment, which is where Biden’s old boss, Barack Obama, found the most fertile soil for gun control. Here, the Biden Administration can work mostly in the shadows under the cloak of regulatory interpretation and rulemaking, largely hidden from the media and without attention-drawing hearings and floor votes. Rather than having to squabble with Republicans and moderate Democrats, like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, Biden would be dealing with career bureaucrats who share his zest for regulatory control generally, and for gun control in particular. To them, sidestepping Congress and the Constitution is their natural way of doing business.

The initial vehicle of choice for the Biden-Harris cabal likely will be the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), but they will not hesitate to use other bureaucracies as well, including Health and Human Services, IRS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Departments of State and Defense, and the host of other agencies that previous Democrat administrations brought to the gun control playing field.

One proposal we may see sooner rather than later is a new ATF rule requiring owners of modern semi-automatic sporting rifles (as well as pistols like the AR-9, which the ATF is considering reclassifying as rifles) are registered with the ATF under the National Firearms Act. This is no small measure, as registering each such firearms would require a $200 tax stamp. The obvious financial burden this would create on citizens leaves some to speculate Biden may temporarily waive the tax, not because he is genuinely concerned about its impact on working class gun owners, but rather to show the public he remains the “nice guy” willing to meet Republicans part way. “But wait, there’s more,” as the late-night TV ads remind viewers.

National Gun Registry

The Achilles heel of gun confiscation schemes has long been the lack of a national gun registry. This was the problem that manifested itself last year in New Zealand, where, as in the United States, the government had no clear idea how many guns, and what types of firearms it sought to confiscate, were actually owned by citizens. Their confiscation- masquerading-as-a-buy-back program depended largely on the willingness of citizens to voluntarily surrender their firearms. The proposal was pressed by a popular prime minister and was perfectly timed in the immediate and emotional aftermath of a horrific mass murder at a mosque. The media, to no one’s surprise, was openly supportive. Despite a history of hunting and firearms ownership by the civilian population, and even without any form of national gun registry to facilitate the confiscation program, the liberal government achieved a major victory.

The New Zealand experience has served as a reminder to gun control forces in our country that for gun confiscation to have any likelihood of success, there first needs to be some form of a gun registry. And while the chance for implementing a gun registry in the United States is not significant yet, the gun control “stars” are beginning to line up in a way as to make such a move once thought impossible, at least possible.

Despite his advanced age, the new President’s four decades in the Senate in fact have made him a formidable adversary when it comes to government scheming. This ability will be especially problematic when it comes to gun control, an issue on which he will be able to count on innumerable allies embedded in bureaucracies from ATF to the CDC. These embedded allies include many who Trump simply failed to remove from positions of power during his four years at the federal helm. They have been chomping at the bit for four years waiting and hoping for a like-minded boss to give them the green light to use the full weight of the Regulatory State to begin to seriously limit Second Amendment rights.

There are GOP Senators and House Members ready, willing, and able to fight against this rising tide, and they will be able to count on a handful of Democrats, like Manchin, to stand with them. Their commitment and energies, however, will be put to the test by wily street fighters like Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Dick Durbin of Illinois, and in the House by Reps. Jerry Nadler (also from New York) and South Carolina’s venerable James Clyburn, and other gun control advocates. These Democrats who now control the levers of power on Capitol Hill, never have concerned themselves with playing by the Marquess of Queensbury rules preferred by so many of their GOP colleagues. This creates a scenario far more dangerous to our Second Amendment rights than at any time in decades.

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.

Originally at FullMAGnews

Local Kroger Stores Close as California ‘Hero Pay’ Ordinance Backfires

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This result certainly wasn’t what local lawmakers intended, but it was actually quite predictable.

A new “Hero Pay” mandate in Long Beach, California has inadvertently cost some frontline grocery workers their jobs. 

“Ralphs and Food 4 Less, both owned by the parent company Kroger, announced Monday that they will be closing 25% of their stores in Long Beach after the city council passed an ordinance requiring companies with over 300 employees nationwide to pay employees an extra $4 per hour,” local news outlet Fox 11 reports. Two stores in the area will be shut down.

A company spokesperson directly cited the city council’s ordinance mandating higher wages as the reason they are closing down. 

“The irreparable harm that will come to employees and local citizens as a direct result of the City of Long Beach’s attempt to pick winners and losers, is deeply unfortunate,” the spokesperson said. “We are truly saddened that our associates and customers will ultimately be the real victims of the city council’s actions.”

The ordinance was passed with the stated intention of rewarding hard-working grocery store employees who have kept a vital service running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia was a key proponent of the measure and signed it into law. He argues it is justified because grocery store workers “have been on the frontlines of this pandemic and deserve this support.”

Similarly, Garcia and other supporters of the mandated wage hike argue that companies are just being selfish by closing down rather than paying their workers more. They point to the fact that Kroger has seen high levels of profit this year.

In truth, whether the company is being selfish and whether it’s really flush with cash (Kroger says these specific stores were already financially struggling) are both beside the point. This mandatory wage hike “honoring heroes” was passed by politicians eager to spend other people’s money and claim the credit. But like any minimum wage law, it was always going to have the unintended consequence of eliminating some jobs altogether.

The minimum wage in Long Beach is already $14 per hour for employers with 26 or more employees. A $4 increase would therefore be $18 an hour, a nearly 30 percent raise for every employee. This amounts to an enormous spike in a grocery store’s labor costs, which are already one of the biggest expenses an enterprise usually faces. 

Whether do-good politicians feel workers “deserve it” or not, the reality is that some grocery store employees don’t provide labor that is worth $18 an hour, and some stores cannot afford to pay such an artificially high price. The basic laws of supply and demand tell us what comes next: the government’s supposed benevolence will leave a significant number of workers unemployed. 

This specific instance of wage mandates backfiring is just one example of a much broader trend. On the national level, the “Fight for $15” movement demanding a $15 federal minimum wage ostensibly seeks to help workers. In reality, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that this policy would eliminate 1.3 to 3.7 million jobs. A wealth of economic research similarly shows that minimum wage hikes cause unemployment.

The moral of the story is clear. 

Sweeping government price controls and labor market interventions will always have vast unintended consequences, no matter how noble the stated intentions are or how sympathetic the intended beneficiary may be. Indeed, unintended consequences are an inherent feature of big government programs.

“Every human action has both intended and unintended consequences,” economist Antony Davies and political scientist James Harrigan explain. “Human beings react to every rule, regulation, and order governments impose, and their reactions result in outcomes that can be quite different than the outcomes lawmakers intended.” The more complex the underlying situation and the more sweeping the rule or regulation, the more pronounced the unintended consequences will be.

Long Beach lawmakers may truly have hoped to help front-line workers by mandating higher “Hero Pay” under the law. But their naïve good intentions will mean little to the grocery store clerks left unemployed as a result.

Is this any way to treat heroes?

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Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo

Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is a libertarian-conservative journalist and Opinion Editor at the Foundation for Economic Education.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

Erik Grankvist: Living His Dream, Building a Log Cabin in 500 Days Alone.

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Erik Grankvist is a 19 years old Swede, just graduated from high school who wanted to pursue his dream of building a traditional off-grid log cabin in a forest, by hand. So he did.

15 minute version.

Sometimes we hear a call from nature. When I was 18 years old I ventured out alone with only a backpack full of simple hand tools to actualize my dream. Build my own traditional off grid log cabin by hand from the materials of the Swedish wilderness. Just like our Forefathers did. I had no previous experience in building, gathering materials or filming. So I started studying myself the old arts and learning from my grandfather and mentor Åke Nilsson. I began to cut down trees and film with my phone, learning as I go. My project started full time once I graduated high school in summer 2019. I filmed everything myself and edited this video so you can follow my journey and hopefully learn as I do. The tractor is a Ferguson TE20 “Grålle” from 1946, they were wildly used to move timber. In 1950 the first chainsaws came to Sweden but they were too big and heavy to be practical. I didn’t want to take down every closest tree. So by using the tractor (also as a little tribute) I could haul a few trees from further away, about 150 meters. I would have loved to use a horse but don’t have one. yet..

And here’s the full version.

Florida Governor Goes After Big Tech

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We think he might be a good candidate for President. He’s ballsy, has handled the pandemic brilliantly, and isn’t a kowtowing Swamp creature.

Ron DeSantis is using the fact that – WE’RE STILL A REPUBLIC and States can make their own legislation – and is going after the partisan censorship of Big Tech. His is the widest and most aggressive range of regulatory and legislative solutions so far proposed by any U.S. state to tackle the problem of tech censorship. Watch the video below (you have to fast forward a bit) to see him go after the culprits.

Amazon’s Shameful Effort to Sabotage Small Businesses

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by Dan Mitchell

Assuming they behave ethically and earn money honestly, I applaud big companies and their wealthy owners.

That’s why I recently defended Jeff Bezos’ large fortune. The owner of Amazon mostly (but not entirely) became rich by providing value to the rest of us.

Today, though, I’m very disappointed in Bezos and Amazon. Why? Because the company wants to use the coercive power of government to screw over its competitors in the small business community.

Here’s a look at the company’s full-page advertisement in support of a higher minimum wage.

As a very rich company that already relies on a high degree of automation, it easily can afford to pay $15 per hour and above to every employee.

Indeed, it made a very showy decision back in 2018 to have a company-wide floor on compensation. Which is their choice.

But it’s utterly despicable to then climb in bed with politicians and urge a costly mandate on small-business competitors.

And it’s utterly callous for the company to take such a step when it will means unemployment for hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of workers with marginal skills.

The company is behaving just as badly as the unions that push higher minimum wages in order to push competing workers out of the market.

P.S. Don’t forget that many state governments already screwed over small businesses by mandating their closure while not imposing the same pandemic-related restrictions on Amazon and big box stores.

P.P.S. It is possible that Amazon is also motivated by a desire to appease the Biden Administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress. In other words, the company openly endorses statist policies such as the higher minimum wage in hopes that it won’t be targeted with other actions (antitrustwealth tax, etc). Or maybe Amazon has a deal to support the higher minimum wage in exchange for the Biden Administration opposing the European Union’s tax raid on American tech companies. But those excuses don’t justify screwing over small businesses and low-skill workers.

by Dan Mitchell
Daniel J. Mitchell is a public policy economist in Washington. He’s been a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, a Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, an economist for Senator Bob Packwood and the Senate Finance Committee, and a Director of Tax and Budget Policy at Citizens for a Sound Economy. His articles can be found in such publications as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Investor’s Business Daily, and Washington Times. Mitchell holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University. Original article can be viewed here.

Watch: DC’s Giant Pandas

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The Giant Pandas at the Smithsonian National Zoo are enjoying the snow that has hit the region.

The zoo’s PandaCam caught Mei Xiang and Tian Tian doing summersaults, sliding down a hill in their exhibit and having tons of fun on this snow day. 

A Reader Writes: Tactical Reloading for Lever Action Rifles

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This is for tubular magazine rifles with a loading gate on the right side.

For right handed shooters. After firing the last round, open the action ejecting the last empty case. With your right hand, quickly insert a live round into the open action and close the action. Keeping the rifle horizontal and pointing forward, with your hand positioned to fire at any moment, turn the rifle so the loading port is facing up. Using the left hand, select a new round and insert it half way into the magazine. Take another new round and insert it half way. Half way is easier on the thumb and quicker. Repeat until the magazine is topped off. Push the last round all the way in. Return the rifle to the upright position. If you have to fire with a round half way in the magazine, use the fingers on the left hand to swipe the half way cartridge out of the loading gate before cycling the action.

For left handed shooters. After firing the last round, open the action, using the right hand, quickly insert a live round into the open action and close the action. Keeping the rifle vertical and pointing forward with your hand positioned to fire at any moment, the loading gate will be facing to the right, use the right hand to insert a new round half way into the magazine. Take another new round and insert it half way into the magazine. Half way is easier on the thumb and quicker. Repeat until the magazine is topped off. Push the last round all the way in. If you have to fire with a round half way into the magazine, use the right hand (or right thumb) to swipe the half way cartridge out of the loading gate before cycling the action.

Learn to do this without looking at the loading gate. Keep your eyes up looking for threats. This will also aid you in reloading in low or no light conditions.

David had some comments on the video I selected to accompany his article:

The video is good, especially if you are a competition shooter like that guy is, armed with a highly modified rifle. I like the 1873 Winchester. His has a modified lever that operates with half the distance required from an un-modified rifle. It’s called a lever kit.

The Cowboy only mentions that one modification of the lifter. Not the others. My method works with all of the modern lever guns. My article is specific to rifles with a loading gate.

The Battle of Midway 1942: Told from the Japanese Perspective

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This is the first of three videos explaining the Battle of Midway. From an unusual point of view to America audiences: The Japanese.

This is part one of a three part video series covering Operation MI and Nagumo’s Dilemma in real time, using the information as it becomes available to the Japanese.

It’s fascinating. The guy who did this is an amateur and he knocks it out of the park producing a documentary as thought-provoking and interesting as anything on the History Channel.

Why Guru Jeremy Grantham Says the Next Crash Will Rival 1929, 2000

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Jeremy Grantham, co-founder and chief investment strategist of Boston’s GMO, believes U.S. stocks have become an epic bubble and will burst in a collapse rivaling the crashes of 1929 and 2000. In this interview, he explains why, discusses the futility of Federal Reserve policy, criticizes the state of American capitalism, and shares his thoughts on gold, Bitcoin, emerging markets and climate change.

In the waning days of Donald Trump’s presidency, Jeremy Grantham warned that U.S. stocks were in an epic bubble. He now predicts Joe Biden’s economic-recovery plan will propel them to perilous new heights, followed by an inevitable crash.

“We will have a few weeks of extra money and a few weeks of putting your last, desperate chips into the game, and then an even more spectacular bust,” Grantham, the value-investing legend and co-founder of Boston-based GMO, said in a Bloomberg “Front Row” interview. “When you have reached this level of obvious super-enthusiasm, the bubble has always, without exception, broken in the next few months, not a few years.”

Jeremy Grantham

Why do your energy bills go up while the cost of producing it has fallen?

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Think about it – you knew why all along. The great Green Scam.

The cost of producing electricity has dropped significantly in the last decade. So why haven’t we seen those price drops reflected in our electricity bills? Charles McConnell, former Assistant Secretary of Energy in the Obama Administration, answers this riddle.

A Reader Writes: Disaster Planning On a Budget

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Image: “Thrift Store Sign” by pixeljones is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Some personal survival tips from SRC reader, David McComas on how to prepare for all types of disaster when you’re on a very strict budget.

Disasters come in many forms, fire, flood, tornado, hurricane, terrorist attack; the list goes on and on. Most are short term. Others are not. It is difficult and expensive to prepare for everything, so prepare for anything by covering the bare basics and supplementing with items you already have or can quickly access.

What is the average person to do, when they live in a small apartment and have a modest income? Since you can’t prepare for everything, I suggest prepping for the basics. Good luck. You’ll need it. But the good news is you are in your apartment, you already the first essential for survival: Shelter. It gets trickier when you’re forced out on to the road. Here are some basic, and lightweight options for disaster survival when there’s no one around to help.

Food and water

You can live a long time without food. About a month is the norm. After two weeks, you won’t be running any marathons, but after three to five days or so without water, you are about done for. It’s good to stay out of the cold of winter and the intense heat of summer, when you are trying to survive. And rain, anytime.

Water is the most important item. You can spend money on bottled water if you want to. If it feels better to drink designer water, then go ahead and do it. If you want to stay on a budget, after drinking two-liter bottles of soda, wash them out thoroughly and refill them with water. Fill them all the way to the top, so that you see a, “mound” of water at the top. Then, cap it off tight, so there is little or no air gap. At the first sign of disaster, fill up all sealable containers and fill your bath tub with cold water. Block the overflow drain with duct tape to fill it even higher. Remember, your hot water tank holds a lot of water too.

My favorite container for water is ½ gallon juice bottles. You can add drop of chlorine bleach to your water bottles about 1-2 drops a pint. It may taste terrible to you depending on what your normal water source tastes like but it won’t kill you and it’s safe. You can flavor with hard candy, instant tea or other flavored instant drink mixes. It’s a good idea to check your bottled water supply every six months to make sure nothing is growing in there and there are no leaks. If you re-fill them, you can skip the bleach. Milk jugs for example, are biodegradable and will leak after a while. Plan on one gallon of water per person per day minimum. Some sources say two gallons. More is better. It’s not just for drinking and cooking but personal hygiene, laundry, and – when unusable for anything else – flushing the toilet. Those old phone books can be used as toilet paper so long as you are really frugal with them. They’re

If you’re on the road without water, remember the bleach trick. Have a small bottle with you, it’s a great sterilizer and it will clean your drinking water. First, take some charcoal from a bonfire and some sand – as clean as you can get it – and scrunch these items into a soda or water bottle. Fill with dirty water and screw on the cap. Punch the cap with holes and pore out the water through them. As if by magic the water will flow out clear, having been filtered by the sand and charcoal. It is still contaminated, so add a drop or two of bleach, shake and leave for half an hour. The bleach stink goes (mostly) away and your water should be purified. Personally, I couldn’t survive without some coffee and at that point even instant would work, so I would have some in my stash from the dollar store or when I see it on clearance at the supermarket.

Food is next on the list. Peanut butter and crackers have a very long shelf life and can be had cheaply at discount grocers so almost everyone can accumulate a basic emergency pantry. Don’t forget to have your favorite utensil to spread the peanut butter if you have to leave your shelter.

Honey is the one food we know of that simply will not spoil. Ever. They found some in an Egyptian tomb, roughly, 3,000 years old. It had dried into powder, but they warmed it up in a pan over low heat and it went back to being wet, yellow, nutritious and delicious.

Peanut butter, crackers and honey are highly portable, easily prepared without cooking and can be stored without refrigeration. For the price of one military MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat) you can buy enough peanut butter and crackers to last for one week or more. Your supply should last for at least two weeks. A month would be better.

(If you’re in survival mode for this long you’re going to need more variety and at the very least some multi-vitamins to carry with you or as you shelter in place. Lightweight proteins like jerky should be considered for a bug-out bag. Cans of cheap meats and/or lentils and beans for sheltering in place can be eaten from the can if necessary and will provide nutrients and comfort.~Kelly)

Force out of your shelter and caught without wet gear?

Whatever the weather, hot or cold, have some large, dark, heavy duty trash bags for rain gear ponchos. Two bags for each person, plus hats, not ball caps. You need a full brim to keep the rain out of your neck hole. Or, use small plastic shopping bags as a hat. Cut the bottom out of one trash bag and attach it your waist with a belt or string. Cut a small hole in the bottom of the middle of another and put your head through it. (Trash bags are also useful as another layer for sleeping rough, for patching holes in tarps and to double-bag sleeping bags in damp areas.)

If you don’t have hats, put a hole near the bottom on the side and use it to stick your face through it for a poncho. To a certain extent, this arrangement will provide camouflage as well. Looking goofy doesn’t count, only surviving does.

A large tarp or two comes in handy for shelter. Or a shower curtain or two which will surely to be had in some abandoned houses. Get the kind with grommets in them, and carry a lot of twine or para cord. Waterproof matches are great. However, in the same amount of space, you can have a butane (BIC) lighter, which will light a lot more fires, even when wet. (Personally I use a magnesium block and striker, but these are a bit more expensive ~ Kelly)Have two BIC lighters, in case one malfunctions. I like the long ones for BBQ grills, however, they are more expensive. Get some cheap, non scented candles and a way to burn them safely. You can use candles to cook with, too, if you’re really pressed. Once you’ve emptied a can of food that container is a potential piece of cookware.

A good, all purpose knife, a hatchet that doubles as a hammer, pliers and a small folding saw or buck saw will go a long way toward building shelters and providing weapons for defense. Multi-tools come in handy for so many things. Pry bars may also come in handy if the SHTF.  All can be bought at your local dollar store, but remember, it’s always better to get old Sears Craftsman or Stanley tools from a thrift store than something flimsy and unreliable from China. If you have access to an old Leatherman multi-tool, keep it with you always.

Fishing

After the stores have been ransacked, there will still be fish to be had, in just about any body of water over five feet deep. Have some basic fishing gear. Line and hooks don’t take up much space. Line rots, so that’s something you should be careful about buying from a thrift store unless you know what you’re doing. But hooks, even rusty ones, probably only need a bit of TLC with a piece of sandpaper.

You can cut a tree limb for a pole, or unscrew the handle from a household mop or brush. Small sticks or any bottle that will float can be a bobber, and with a sharp, long knife you can fillet any fish, so you won’t have to deal with a bone caught in your throat later on!

Turn over rocks for bait. Use fish guts for crayfish bait. Some twine and a window screen can be your crayfish trap. Bait the trap with fish guts or road kill or whatever you can find that stinks and wait for an hour, then yank it out quickly. Pliers come in handy for dealing with pincers. You will need a pot to boil them in. I like the old, large, pressure cookers, because they have a handle on them. It will come in handy when you purify drinking water, too. Get something to sharpen your tools with like a steel from one of those knife-sets, or a block like carpenters use for sharpening chisels.

“Bug Out Bag” from the Thrift Store

You need at least one change of clothes in a“Bug Out Bag” backpack. Two changes would be better. Layers are better, yet. Thrift stores come in handy for a cheap outfit or two. Fashion will not be a factor. A change in footwear will come in handy too, in case one pair gets wet. Get lots of socks or keep the older ones as spares when you buy new ones and keep them in a separate plastic bag so they will stay dry. Back packs can be had cheaply there as well. Look for a used sleeping bag while you are there. And a towel or two and a blanket.

When I was a Boy Scout, I went on a camp out where we had to camp with what we could carry in a pack. After about one mile, I thought my back was going to break in half. So, if you think you need to go any great distance, you might want to use a bicycle to haul your pack. Strap it on and use an old broom handle taped to the handle bars to make it easier to push. A full size bike should be able to haul 200-300 lbs. You can tie two packs together and drape them over the middle bar and the back wheel like saddlebags. 

First Aid Kit

The dollar shops are great for this kind of stuff. You may not recognize the brands but the you can put together a good basic first aid kit. Be sure to include scissors, nail clippers and tweezers. Knives are great, but sometimes scissors are better and vice versa. Include some alcohol or alcohol wipes to sterilize your instruments. The U.S. Army has issued every combat soldier a tourniquet. You should probably have one too, or something that will get the same job done.

Have some personal hygiene stuff, like soap, razor, toothbrush, towel and a bandanna. I have found that even if I don’t have toothpaste, it helps to brush my teeth. It actually makes me feel better. A small camping mirror comes in very handy for many things, like hygiene, signaling, or the tactical movement of looking around corners. I like the pocket-sized ones made of metal. Generic, “baby wipes” can used on those smelly areas to stay fresher longer.  

You can get this stuff a little at a time, five bucks per week or so, developing your own priorities as to what you get, first to last. David

A MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF JURISDICTION SHOULD SWIFTLY END THE SENATE IMPEACHMENT FARCE

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Image: Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Originally published in the Daily Caller, by Bob Barr, with permission.

If there was perhaps one mistake our Founders made in drafting the Constitution, it was presuming that future members of the Legislative Branch would be sufficiently competent to actually read the document to which they all had sworn an oath. It is, however, increasingly clear that many – perhaps most — sitting United States senators cannot read the plain text of the Constitution.

The relevant wording in the Constitution is at the very end of Article II, establishing that a constitutionally errant “President,  .  .  .  shall be removed from Office” if he first has been impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate for “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Unlike other sections of the Constitution where clarity may be obscured by arcane wording, this particular provision is clear and concise, and it applies to “the President.” The language pointedly does not provide in any way, shape, or form that a “Former President” or an “Ex-President” may be similarly punished, only the President.

The 100-member Senate at this moment is split right down the middle between those who identify as Republicans and those who identify as Democrats.  Democrat leader Chuck Schumer has declared openly and without hesitancy that as the self-styled “Majority Leader,” he will move forward within days to try Donald Trump. The goal of such a trial would be to find Mr. Trump guilty of the single Article of Impeachment passed on Jan. 13 by a majority of representatives on the other side of the Capitol Dome.

While many GOP senators remain openly opposed to Schumer’s plan, it appears that a number of Republican senators, notably including the most recent “Majority Leader” – Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell – have signed on to the notion that there will be a trial as demanded by Schumer.

The basis on which Schumer and his Democrat colleagues are proceeding against Trump can best be understood by their all-consuming hatred for the former president, a sentiment they share with their House colleagues. Their zeal to punish Mr. Trump appears to have blinded them even to common sense and to the plain meaning of words – factors that otherwise and in less toxic times would lead them to realize that no matter how powerful and exalted they might view themselves as “senators,” a person cannot be “removed” by them from an office that he or she does not in fact occupy.

It is black-letter law that a court cannot punish someone for a crime if it does not have jurisdiction over that person. Just as courts of law have no power over individuals outside their defined jurisdiction, the United States Senate has no power over a former President of the United States.

No matter the degree to which Sen. Schumer despises Mr. Trump and hopes to prevent him from being able to run again for office at some future date (as unlikely as that may be), the body of which Schumer is a long-serving member does not have power under the Constitution to thus punish the ex-president.

It is less clear what accounts for Sen. McConnell’s decision to buy into the legally baseless presumption that the Senate magically has acquired jurisdiction to conduct a trial of and to then punish a former president. Perhaps it is the fact that Trump’s behavior leading to the twin loss of Georgia’s Senate seats in the Jan. 5 runoff cost McConnell his job as Majority Leader. Maybe it is four years of pent-up dislike for Trump’s personal behavior contrary to establishment norms. Regardless of why McConnell is behaving so foolishly as to read into the Constitution’s impeachment trial power of the Senate something that clearly and legally is not there, it is making the Senate appear unmoored from history, the law, and common sense.

Mitch McConnell is a lawyer. He seems, however, to have forgotten that a prosecutor who oversteps his authority and tries to convict someone over whom the court has no jurisdiction, will be hit with a swift – and ultimately successful – motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. This is precisely what Trump’s lawyers need to file, and by so doing let the American people know that at least they can read the Constitution.

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.

Biden signals pivot back to China with controversial National Security Council pick

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By Robert Romano

President Joe Biden is signaling a pivot back to China with his most recent choice to sit on the National Security Council, former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell.

Campbell wrote the book, “The Pivot: The Future of American Statecraft in Asia,” where he argued, “While the Asian Century detoured to the Middle East in the years following the September 11 attacks… the United States has led a ‘Pivot’ (or ‘rebalancing,’ as many prefer) of American diplomacy toward the nuanced yet demanding tasks of engaging a rising Asia. The Pivot is premised on the idea that the Asia-Pacific region not only increasingly defines global power and commerce, but also welcomes U.S. leadership and rewards U.S. engagement with positive returns on political, economic, and military investments.”

In it, Campbell advanced two arguments: “First, that Asia should be placed more centrally in the formulation and execution of American foreign policy” because it often “played a secondary role behind more pressing global or regional concerns in Europe during the Cold War and the Middle East during the war on terror.” And: “the United States should pursue a comprehensive and flexible strategy in Asia… [that] will require that we move away from the kind of ‘China first’ or ‘G-2’ approach that has often dominated U.S. policy toward Asia and will instead involve embedding China strategy in a larger regional framework, one that advances relations with countries across the region, including China.”

Remarkably, Campbell downplayed the possibility of Chinese hegemony in Asia: “Although China stands tallest in Asia as the region’s largest economy, its growth is slowing even as other major powers, such as India, are surging forward. Looking out into the period ahead, it seems premature to conclude that Asia will fall under inevitable Chinese dominance…” instead arguing for an “unsteady balance of power” in the region as an objective and likely outcome.

He wrote that in 2016. And so, let’s see how things played out. China is once again growing faster than India, according to World Bank data. It has broken the 1984 Sino-British Declaration treaty to keep Hong Kong autonomous until 2047 with its new national security law. It still has not been fully transparent about the origins of the Covid pandemic that was unleashed upon the world in 2020. And it just repeatedly breached Taiwanese airspace to test the new American President Biden.

In his book, Campbell also argued in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and more broadly in favor of trade liberalization, which as a part of economic ties he called a “significant component of the Pivot”. And so, immediately, Campbell will be one of the leaders in a host of advisors who will be urging Biden to finish what former President Barack Obama started with the TPP.

In November, Campbell delivered a speech at the China Development Forum calling for “on China, more directly, there is recognition about rebuilding the bilateral institutions… [and a] need to focus on mechanisms that can prevent and deal with unintended crises or escalation”.

Campbell pointed to trade as a missing element of the Biden plan: “The key here, the missing piece, is what is going to be the trade strategy. There is a need — a desire — across the region to see a coherent approach. And I believe that the Biden administration will place that out more generally.”

While Campbell’s interest and renewing American attention toward Asia is certainly welcome, building on former President Trump’s focus on the region, downplaying the threat posed by China is not the situation we find ourselves in, nor is reopening the TPP appear to even be on the same page with President Biden.

Trans-Pacific Partnership

On Dec. 2, 2020, Biden told Thomas Friedman in an interview, “I’m not going to enter any new trade agreement with anybody until we have made major investments here at home and in our workers,” an apparent reference to restoring the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

And on the 25 percent tariff on $250 billion of goods and 7.5 percent tariff on the remaining $300 billion of goods that was levied by former President Donald Trump, Biden said: “I’m not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs. I’m not going to prejudice my options.”

Finally, Campbell was until Aug. 2020 vice chairman of the U.S.-China Strong Foundation that partnered with Chinese government-led Confucius Institutes at American universities for ostensible cultural exchanges. It also led efforts under the Obama administration to send U.S. students abroad to China and to study Mandarin.

The same month Campbell left the foundation, the State Department labeled the Confucius Institutes to be a foreign mission of the Chinese government: “Today, the Department of State designated the Confucius Institute U.S. Center as a foreign mission of the PRC, recognizing CIUS for what it is:  an entity advancing Beijing’s global propaganda and malign influence campaign on U.S. campuses and K-12 classrooms.  Confucius Institutes are funded by the PRC and part of the Chinese Communist Party’s global influence and propaganda apparatus.”

Under 22 USC § 4302(a)(3), a foreign mission is “any mission to or agency or entity in the United States which is involved in the diplomatic, consular, or other activities of, or which is substantially owned or effectively controlled by… a foreign government…”

Anders Corr, publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, told the Washington Free Beaconthat the U.S.-China Strong Foundation could be a Chinese Communist Party front group: “The indicators suggest that the U.S.-China Strong Foundation could be a [Chinese Communist Party] front group, or so heavily influenced by the CCP as to be tantamount to a front group,” said Anders Corr, an intelligence analyst and publisher of the Journal of Political Risk.”

China’s Belt and Road Initiative

As reported by the Beacon, “In August 2017, the U.S.-China Strong Foundation appeared to celebrate the founding of the People’s Liberation Army on its Twitter account, writing, ‘Today is the 90th anniversary of the founding of China’s PLA!’ and urging followers to read about a commemorating address by President Xi. The group also posted multiple favorable Twitter messages about China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure program that U.S. officials have decried as a national security risk.”

So, one of President Biden’s top advisors on Asia and China, reporting to National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, appears to be a China dove whose organization was partnering with what turns out was a Chinese foreign mission and who thinks it is unlikely for Beijing to seek regional hegemony in Asia despite all evidence to the contrary. Does President Biden agree?

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

Meet the Man Behind the Cartoons

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A.F. “Tony” Branco has been making America laugh at the Left for more than 8 years

By Catherine Mortensen

For the past eight years cartoonists A.F. Branco has been making America laugh at the Left. He’s been making cartoons for Americans for Limited Government. His cartoons are the most popular of all the social media content that we post. But like many of you, I have never seen Tony Branco and never met him. I just don’t know much about him. Today we want to introduce you to introduce you to A.F. “Tony” Branco. Sort of reveal the man behind the cartoons that we all love so much.

Catherine: Welcome, Tony! So tell us, how did you get started with this? Your cartons have been wildly successful for many years.

Tony: Thank you. What started me off was back in 2010, I was doing other things. I was working other places. But around 2010, I saw what Obama was doing with Obamacare. And I felt it was dangerous for our country. I felt it was a backdoor way into every aspect of our lives and control it. And I just felt like I had to. I had to do something, do my part. At the time I had some artistic ability, so I used that to try to get our message out at that time.

Catherine: What is it about your cartoons that resonates with people and our audience at Americans for Limited Government?

Tony: Well, I try to condense one issue into one point and put it into a square that will resonate that people are feeling. Because if I’m feeling it, chances are there are multiple people out there feeling the same.

Catherine: Right now with what’s happening in our country, I consider it to be a very dark time. How do you bring humor and how does that help us all?

Tony: Well, I think it’s important at this time especially to bring people to where they can lighten up a little bit. We need to focus on what we need to do and keep our heads in the game, because we have a lot of work to do. And it doesn’t hurt to laugh!

Catherine:  This is the book that you have just come out with, it’s your third volume of published cartoon. It’s called “Keep America laughing at the Left, Comically Incorrect Cartoons of A.F. Branco.” Where can people get a copy of this?

Tony: They can get it at Patriotdepot.com.

Catherine: And my last question for you, can you share with us anything about yourself, we might not know? For example, I discovered just in reading the introduction of your book that you have a band. You started out in your career in the military. Are there interesting stories that our readers and followers on social media might like to know about?

Tony: You got a couple hours? I was a musician. I am a musician. But I semi-retired from that about six years ago. My wife and I had a baby she’s now six years old, and. And I like to devote more time to the family thing and it’s hard to do that while you’re playing music. And cartooning is become a pretty much a full-time job also lately and I enjoy that. So, the more time I could spend on that and family time, the better.

Catherine: Any final thoughts that you have for all your fans here at Americans for Limited Government, about the state of the country and how we can move forward from here?

Tony: We need to keep sharing our work. We need to keep our heads in the game. There’s a lot of things. There are a lot of positive things out there. But I know it’s hard, right now.  Biden is on overtime with executive orders trying to overturn the “America First” program. But we have a lot of things to look forward to and you got to try to find those things and you got to accentuate the positive.

Catherine: Thank you so much Tony! It’s really a pleasure to meet you. Check out his book, “Keep America Laughing at the Left, the Comically Incorrect Cartoons of A.F. Branco.” You can get it at Patriotdepot.com.

Reproduced with permission. Original here.

Bill O’Reilly and the 5 Top Goals of the Left

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Bill O’Reilly reveals the five goals of the progressive movement in the United States. It involves the media, the economy, redistribution, suppression, and indoctrination.

Cuomo doesn’t care about seniors deaths – and no, that’s not out of context

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“But who cares — 33 [percent], 29 [percent] — died in the hospital, died in a nursing home? They died.”

New York’s nursing-home death toll from COVID-19 may be more than 50 percent higher than officials claim — because Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration hasn’t revealed how many of those residents died in hospitals, state Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday.

In a damning, 76-page report, James also said that some unidentified nursing homes apparently underreported resident fatalities to the state Department of Health and failed to enforce infection-control measures — with more than 20 currently under investigation. (NYPost)

Naturally, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said attacks over the deaths originated with Republicans looking to shift blame for a tragedy and blamed the Trump Administration. Watch this as he goes on an epic rant!

Also, if you don’t listen to Blanquita Cullum, Texas Radio Hall of Famer and a wonderful person – Host at The Hard Question on SmartTalk Radio Network/WCGO AM/FM Chicago who shared this post – you should.

You think that plastic cup is recycled? Think again.

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When you put a recyclable plastic item into one of those blue bins you think it’s being salvaged, reused and that you’re doing your bit to “save the planet”.

Thing is – that’s not what happens. Not anymore. It was only possible for a tiny blip on our timescale because of a unique and specific confluence of events. It’s now most likely headed to a landfill.

Wall Street Protects its Own – Crashes RobinHood Platform to Protect Billionaires & Crush Regular Investors.

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Dave Portnoy, known as El Presidente, the hero who runs Bar Stool Sports who has raised $33 million to help suffering small businesses during the pandemic has an absolute MELTDOWN about the egregious “in plain sight” smashing of the Little Guy to protect the Big Guy.

He swears. A lot.

And in a rare moment we’re quoting AOC who, in a stopped clock moment, we agree with.

And when the Trump family and AOC agree you know something is very, very wrong!

How it began…How it is now!

TOP 10 TAKEAWAYS From The Militarization of the U.S. Executive Agencies | OpenTheBooks Oversight Report

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1. One hundred and three federal agencies outside of the Department of Defense spent $2.7 billion on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment between fiscal years 2006 and 2019 (inflation adjusted). Nearly $1 billion ($944.9 million) was spent between fiscal years 2015 and 2019 alone.

2. Non-military federal spending on guns and gear averaged $192 million per year since 2006 (inflation adjusted). In the last two years, spending averaged $173 million, about ten-percent below the long-term average.

3. We estimate that there are now more federal officers with arrest and firearm authority (200,000 ) than U.S. Marines (182,000). 

FB_marines_v_federal_officers

4. Seventy-six administrative agencies spent $110.6 million on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment between fiscal years 2015 and 2019.

Examples included the Internal Revenue Service, Veterans Affairs, Executive Office of the President, Small Business Administration (SBA), Smithsonian Institution, Social Security Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Animal Health Inspection Service.

5. Twenty-seven traditional law enforcement agencies spent $800 million on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment during fiscal years 2015 and 2019.

Examples included the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Customs and Border Patrol; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Bureau of the Prisons; U.S. Marshals Service; Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; and Secret Service.

6. Weak controls: Department of Homeland Security lost 228 guns in the most recent audited three-year period. DHS also lost 1,889 badges and 25 secure immigration stamps.

7. Use-It-Or-Lose-It year-end spending spree: $1.5 million spent by non-military, non-traditional law enforcement agencies on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment in the last month of fiscal year 2019.  Spending by Veterans Affairs (VA) Included $650,964 worth of ammunition, handguns, and a “military police long gun program” with AR15-style weaponry.

8. The Internal Revenue Service, with its 2,159 “Special Agents,” spent $21.3 million on guns, ammunition and military-style equipment between fiscal years 2006 and 2019. The agency stockpiled 4,500 guns and five million rounds of ammunition.

9. The VA spent $25.5 million including 11 million rounds of ammunition since 2010. The VA has 3,957 law enforcement officers guarding medical centers.

10. Since 2006, federal agencies spent $355,775 on paintball equipment, $4.4 million on grenades/launchers, $7.9 million on unmanned vehicles/aircraft, $8.75 million on projectiles, $11 million on buckshot, and $37.6 million on Tasers.

DOWNLOAD THIS FREE REPORT: THE MILITARIZATION OF THE U.S. EXECUTIVE AGENCIES.

Go here for the full details from Open The Books.

The GameStop vs Hedge Funds Play Explained

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In case you missed this story, which would be difficult as it is all over everything, the Little Guy took on the Asset-Rich Big Guy yesterday. And won. The Little Guy in this case is a group of regular investors who communicate via a “thread” on the social media platform, Reddit. Yesterday, the “WallStreetBets” thread stuck it to some professional investors who were shorting a company these guys felt didn’t think should be targeted. So they all started buying GameStop shares. (Good piece here.)

Lots of little guys buying small amounts became a tsunami. The share price rocketed (the Reddit guys actually use the rocket emoji to indicate a stock that fellow Reditors should buy and hence boost the price). The thread group comprises a lot of people who lost everything when the 2008 collapse occurred. They saw that the banks and other institutional investors who have massively leveraged the economy over the past decade or so had suffered no consequence. It ticked them off. The past decade has been good to people with assets – they made money on them – not so good for regular people, and very bad for savers. “WallStreetBets” guys decided to get a bit even.

It’s not just GameStop that’s surging but a whole group of companies, and with most of them there’s a common thread — they’ve been heavily shorted by big Wall Street firms. 

In this case the hedge funds and professional investors had shorted i.e., “borrowed” GameStop shares for a short period from the Market Maker (the big brokerage houses and financial firms) hoping the share price would drop and they would pocket a profit. Enter Reddit.

Professional investors on Wall Street had been shorting the GameStop (and others like AMC, Bed, Bath & Beyond, etc.) stock for a while. Shorting involves borrowing shares of stock you don’t own and selling them and putting the money in a margin account. A decline in the share price will let you buy back the shares on the market, return them to the Market Maker for less money than you originally received when you sold them – hence there’s a profit to pocket. If however the shares go up, the borrower/shorter has to make up the difference to replace the stock at the brokerage. And there’s interest to pay on the “loan” of the stocks.

Let the Fool explain

Yesterday was a win for these guys. Today they’re targeting American Airlines. It remains to be seen how this will pan out but we expect someone will try and stop them soon.

More here:

Got an idea for an item on Self-Reliance Central? Email selfreliancecentral@gmail.com.

A Reader Writes: Keeping a Cash Stash

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By David McComas                                               

Romantics like to say that love makes the world go round. No. It’s money. Money makes the world go round. Try going without it. You can, but it is difficult.

Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pictures-of-money/

 If the planet has some kind of apocalypse, money as we know it will become useless. One hundred dollar bills won’t even be good for toilet paper. It will get down to trading tangible goods and services for whatever you want. Precious metals are nice and shiny, but you can’t eat gold coins and you can’t make soup with silver bullion.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. For a localized disaster like a tornado or flood that knocks out the power of your city, or a major hurricane that knocks the power out of four or five states, you will not be able to use your credit or debit card, because the power is out. For the stores that are open, they will have signs saying, “Cash Only.” You better have the right change too, because they might be using a drawer or tackle box instead of a cash register that is more computer than anything else. Be sure to check their math.

I used to keep a one hundred dollar bill tucked away in a hidden area of my wallet. It felt good and reassuring. What if I’m in the ditch on a dark country road and need a tow truck, but my cell phone doesn’t have any bars? There are no homes in sight to ask for a land line. Along comes Joe Bob with his beater 4X4 truck. He can get me out for a twenty. All I have is a five and a hundred. He won’t do it for less and he can’t make change. There goes the hundred. He might have only seven teeth left at the age of thirty, but that doesn’t mean he’s stupid when it comes to money.

I started saving one dollar bills. One or two, sometimes three at a time. Sporadically. They are in an envelope in my sock drawer. I have over $200 in there, in two separate envelopes, one hundred each. Plus some loose bills that will soon be in another envelope. That will buy some food and/or prescriptions. Maybe some gas.

I also save coins. Even pennies. Back when I was younger, saving pocket change paid the rent twice, during hard times. Rolls of dimes and quarters can come in handy.

I’ve been saving shiny pennies for the grand children of my grand nephew. By that time, money probably won’t be used and the coins I leave them will be collector items. It doesn’t cost me much to save pennies and hopefully, it will be a good thing for them. Money won’t do me any good in my casket.

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If you know what a Form 4473 is – you’ll find this interesting.

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Since this video was made the ATF has changed the format of a Firearms Transaction Record (Form 4473) and the new version became mandatory on Nov. 1, 2020.

The revised form is available to either download or order online and it website spells out the differences between the old and new versions of the form very clearly.

This page on the ATF website highlights the significant changes to the form. You can see that the description of the firearm and the name of the buyer are now next to each other and the small print is at the end. The ATF says: “It is highly suggested that you review the entire revised form and all persons using this form must certify that they have read and understand all of the Notices, Instructions, and Definitions.

I read the section below and I confess I had never thought about how long the forms should be retained by the dealer/seller. As the guy above says, you look an idiot if you don’t know the serial number of a stolen weapon, so the owner should have all the relevant information in case there’s a theft. But I was surprised to see the length of time the seller is expected to keep paperwork related to a sale.

Generally, ATF Form 4473 must be completed at the licensed business premises when a firearm is transferred over-the-counter…After the transferor/seller has completed the firearms transaction, he/she must make the completed, original ATF Form 4473 (which includes the Notices, General Instructions, and Definitions), and any supporting documents, part of his/her permanent records. Such Forms 4473 must be retained for at least 20 years and after that period may be submitted to ATF. Filing may be chronological (by date of disposition), alphabetical (by name of purchaser), or numerical (by transaction serial number), as long as all of the transferor’s/seller’s completed Forms 4473 are filed in the same manner.

As the guy above also points out, these forms are never meant to be digitized as this information is protected under the Second Amendment. We hope that in this day and age people are able to stick to these rules and corners are never cut.

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