9/18/2014

Kroger's stands up to Bloomberg's Moms Demand Action, Kroger's Michigan representatives say Bloomberg's group won't get them to change policy

In Lansing, Michigan, Kroger's stood up to Bloomberg's Moms Demand Action and asked them to leave the store.  From the Lansing State Journal:
A group protesting Michigan's open-carry gun rules hope a Lansing Kroger store's grand re-opening today will spur a new policy barring guns in the Holmes Street store. 
Michigan Kroger representatives said that's not likely. The Cincinnati-based grocery chain is sticking by Michigan law, which doesn't prohibit openly carrying guns in public. Michigan gun owners have to have a concealed-pistol license, however, to carry guns concealed in public. 
Kroger's stance won't stop Moms Demand Action's ongoing protests at Kroger stores, however, said Linda Brundage, who heads the group's mid-Michigan chapter. Brundage led a group of about 12 women at this morning's protest. 
The group was initially asked to leave the parking lot . . ., but was then invited inside to speak with store management. 
"You don't need a gun to buy a box of cereal," Brundage said outside the store. "Kroger would not be breaking any laws by saying to their customers, 'Leave your guns locked in the car.'" 
Chris Albi, Kroger's vice president of merchandising for Michigan, said the company's Cincinnati headquarters was aware of today's protest, but isn't expected to change its policy. . . .
For more on Bloomberg's push to ban guns in stores and the inaccurate way that the discussions are portrayed in the media follow this link available here

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"Gunmen kill 15 at college in north Nigeria's Kano"

This attack is deadlier than the Columbine school shooting.  It is deadlier than the Washington Navy Yard or Aurora Movie Theater shootings.  In each of those three attacks, 12 people were killed.  From Reuters:
Gunmen stormed a higher education college in northern Nigeria on Wednesday, firing on fleeing students and setting off an explosion in an attack that killed at least 15 people and wounded 35, police said. . . . "The attackers were wearing suits and were running and shooting everywhere." . . .  At least 82 people were killed in July in a double suicide bombing in the north Nigerian city of Kaduna in July. . . .

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"Candidates from both parties packing heat in campaign ads"

From the Washington Times:
Republicans, and even some Democrats, in a dozen states are showing off their shooting skills in videos and television ads or posing with firearms in mailers, underscoring the backlash against federal and state proposals to restrict access to guns and ammunition. 
This year’s tone was set by Republican Joni Ernst, who won the Iowa Senate primary in June after running a television ad that shows her firing at a bull’s-eye at a shooting range while promising to “unload” on Obamacare. She now faces Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley. 
“Give me a shot,” quips Ms. Ernst in the ad. 
The Iowan is by no mean the only one locked, loaded and ready for her close-up. . . .

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9/17/2014

Is there anything that the government won't regulate?: Senate unanimously passed bill to improve sunscreen protection

From The Hill newspaper:
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) introduced S. 2141, the Sunscreen Innovation Act, which would require the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a process for the review and approve over-the-counter (OTC) sunscreens. 
The Senate passed the measure through a unanimous consent agreement and it now heads to the House for further action. 
The Senate passed H.R. 4751, which renames the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Memorial as the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial. The House passed the bill earlier this month, meaning it now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature before becoming law. . . .

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Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s (R-Wis.) ATF Elimination Act

From The Hill newspaper:
. . . “The ATF is a largely duplicative, scandal-ridden agency that lacks a clear mission,” he said. “It is plagued by backlogs, funding gaps, hiring challenges and a lack of leadership. For decades it has been branded by high profile failures.”  
The ATF has become a GOP punching bag in recent years after it was revealed the agency lost track of hundreds of guns, some of which ended up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels, part of the infamously botched Operation Fast and Furious.  
The Sensenbrenner bill would transfer the agency’s enforcement of firearms, explosives and arson laws to the FBI. ATF would cede jurisdiction over cases involving the illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products to the Drug Enforcement Administration. . . .

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New York Times/CBS Poll Shows Republicans doing extremely well this election

Click on figure to enlarge.  The NY Times article on their September 12-15 survey is available here.

-- Right before the 2010 midterm elections Obama's approval rate was at 45 percent.  Before the 2012 election it was at 50 percent.  Today it is at 40 percent.

-- Right before the 2010 midterm elections 34 percent thought that the country was heading in the wrong direction.  Before the 2012 election it was at 39 percent.  Today it is at 27 percent.

-- At the 2010 midterm elections 46 percent approved of Obama's foreign policy.  Before the 2012 election it was at 47 percent.  Today it is at 34 percent.

-- Right before the 2010 midterm elections 42 percent approved of Obama's economic policy.  Before the 2012 election it was at 46 percent.  Today it is at 40 percent.

-- Before the 2010 midterm elections 51 percent approved of Obama's terrorism policy.  Today it is at 41 percent.

-- Today 30 percent approve of how Obama is handling immigration.

If this election is viewed as a referendum on Obama's policies, Democrats have reasons to be concerned.

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9/16/2014

Actor Liam Neeson lashes out against gun ownership

From the Independent (UK) newspaper:
. . . “I am totally for gun control in the US,” he says. “The population of America is roughly 300 million and there are 300 million guns in this country, which is terrifying. Every day we’re seeing some kid running rampant in a school. And do you know what the gun lobby’s response to Newtown was?” he asks, referring to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which left 20 children dead in December 2012. 
“The National Rifle Association’s official response was ‘If that teacher had been armed…’ It’s crazy. I’ll give Britain its dues, when they had the Dunblane massacre in Scotland, within 24 hours the gun laws were changed so you could not have a handgun.”  
Born in Ballymena, County Antrim, but a resident of New York, Neeson became a US citizen five years ago in the wake of the death of his wife, Natasha Richardson, in a freak skiing accident in 2009.  The actor cites the outpouring of goodwill from Americans as one of the main reasons for his decision. Part of the naturalisation process involves a test on US civics; Neeson, therefore, understands the Constitution as well as anyone. “It is the right to bear arms which is the problem. I think if the Founding Fathers knew what was happening they would be turning in their graves with embarrassment at how that law has been interpreted,” he says, in reference to the Second Amendment to the Constitution. . . .
Mr. Neeson is of course wrong about what the NRA proposed.  I have proposed allowing staff at school to be armed, but the NRA has wanted to have armed guards.

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Percent of the adult population with concealed handgun permits by county in Alabama

Data on the number of permits currently issued in Alabama counties is shown below.  The state has a total of approximately 470,005 permits, about 12.6% of the population over 18 years of age.  A couple of the counties have more than 18 percent of their adult population with permits.

The article in al.com notes that Alabama is number 1 in terms of the number of concealed handgun permits, but it is very likely that the six states that allow carrying without a permit have higher rates that people are carrying (Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Montana (99.4% of the state), Wyoming, and Vermont).  It would have been nice if the article had provided some balance and noted what most of the literature had found on crime rates.  Donohue's claims about my work hadn't accounted for the impact of crack cocaine is simply disingenuous (for discussions in the 3rd edition of More Guns, Less Crime see here and here, but it was dealt with in my original research with David Mustard and the first edition of More Guns, Less Crime).

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9/15/2014

Many (but apparently not all) St. Louis-area school superintendents say won't let designated teachers to carry guns in school

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch article lists school superintendents who are against guns in school, but notice that it doesn't say that all the St. Louis-area school superintendents are against let people protect the children.  From the article:
Many St. Louis-area school superintendents say they don’t want guns in their schools regardless of a new state law that allows designated teachers to carry them. 
The law lets school districts appoint teachers or administrators as “school safety officers” who would be allowed to carry concealed weapons after training. 
Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed this bill in July. But on Wednesday, the Legislature overrode his veto of gun rights expansion legislation that also allows residents with concealed weapons permits to openly carry guns in public. 
Parents contacted the Clayton School District late last week concerned that teachers could soon be carrying weapons through the hallways. 
“There’s the perception that school districts are required to do this, rather than allowed to do this,” district spokesman Chris Tennill said. 
The district’s position was posted on its website Friday afternoon. “There are few, if any, situations that would require the District to consider appointing ‘school protection officers’ given the level of and proximity to law enforcement resources already in place,” it stated. . . . .

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“Shaneen’s Law”: Both Democrats and Republicans in New Jersey moving to allow discretion in sentencing out-of-state residences carrying concealed handguns

The discussion on this new law is available here.

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Bloomberg's groups continue to push to ban guns in businesses, but nothing is really changing

Bloomberg's groups have been pushing for sometime to get businesses to ban guns in their facilities.  On Monday, Panera Bread announced that it was asking customers not to bring guns to its restaurants" ((314) 984-1000).  But much of the media coverage has been misleading and simply asking people not to bring their guns with them won't have any legal effect.  The question is if Panera Bread will be posting signs and it doesn't appear to be the case.  Still, that gives Bloomberg's groups another PR boast.  From CNBC:
"We are thrilled that after months of discussions between Panera and Moms Demand Action, Panera is taking a proactive position in favor of our families' safety by putting a new gun policy in place. Moms are the consumers-in-chief of our households and we will reward companies that take a stand for our families' safety. We urge other national companies follow suit," said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, in an email.  . . .
Yet, note that as in all the other announcements that Bloomberg's groups have been trumpeting for sometime, this new announcement changes absolutely nothing.  From CNNMoney:
The news is another victory for gun safety group Moms Demand Action . . . The company first announced the decision during a CNBC interview with Panera CEO Ron Shaich. He said during the interview that the company would not post anti-gun signs in its stores or require employees to confront gun owners. . . .
Given this, what exactly is the point of the news stories on this announcement?  The company is asking people not to bring guns with them, but it also is going to continue allowing people to bring their guns with them.  So how is this a victory for Bloomberg's groups? Bloomberg's groups are now spending "six figures" in ads to force Kroger to also announce that they are not welcoming people who carry guns.  You can see their ads here.

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The Explosion in Insider Trading cases and Penalties under the Obama Administration

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at  Sunday, September 14, 4.09 AM
Original data available here.  The number of insider trading cases increased from 6 a year under President George W. Bush to 15 a year under President Obama.  The big increase in cases under Obama didn't come until 2011, which isn't surprising as it takes some time after a case is brought before a sentence is determined.  This bodes ill for the increase over cases during the rest of the Obama administration.  Some economists have questioned whether there should even be insider trading laws.  The arbitrariness of what is considered insider trading makes it so that government can often invent crimes after the fact.

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9/13/2014

You know that regulations have gone too far when the FDA has to regulate wheelchairs


This young man has helped design a computerized wheelchair that allows users to better control how the wheelchair operates.  It sound like a great idea.  But in listening to this piece at the WSJ I was surprised that the FDA had to approve the wheelchair before it could be produced.  Is the FDA soon going to regulate any type of chair that the disabled might sit in?  What happens if someone with disabilities sits in an unapproved chair?  Will the FDA SWAT team descend on the house?


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Another example of women being more risk averse then men?: Scottish polls on independence

9/10/2014

Bakersfield, California Vice Principal shows that concealed carry permit holders can legally carry guns on school property

This story won't be a surprise for those who have followed the CPRC (or here).  In California, concealed carry permit holders are allowed to carry on school property if they have approval of the school superintendent, which it would be too surprising for Vice Principal to obtain.  From KBAK/KBFX in Bakersfield, California:
A Tevis Junior High School administrator who was arrested and subsequently released last month after bringing a gun to school has filed a claim against the city of Bakersfield and its police department, according to his attorney Daniel Rodriguez.

Kent Williams, 51, vice principal at the school since 2010, said he was falsely arrested by BPD officers for bringing the handgun to school, because he has a valid concealed-weapons permit and showed it to them before the arrest was made.

"Me, being a law abiding citizen, that was the first time I had ever been exposed to handcuffs," Williams said. "I was frightened and scared out of my mind."

Rodriguez said his client brought the gun to school for safety reasons.

He said several laws were violated by the arrest on behalf of the department, which later released Williams from custody.

Police said it was initially believed that Williams may have violated the California Gun Free Zone Act but said the vice principal likely did not break any laws because of his valid concealed-carry firearms permit, which was issued by Kern County. . . .

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9/09/2014

Pollsters expecting "sizable" Republican wave in November's election

Stu Rothenberg in Roll Call predicts "at least 7 seats" for the Republicans in the Senate:
While the current Rothenberg Political Report ratings don’t show it, I am now expecting a substantial Republican Senate wave in November, with a net gain of at least seven seats.
But I wouldn’t be shocked by a larger gain. . . .
Of the seven Romney Democratic seats up this cycle, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia are gone, and Arkansas and Louisiana look difficult to hold. Alaska and North Carolina, on the other hand, remain very competitive, and Democrats rightly point out that they have a chance to hold both seats.
But I’ve witnessed 17 general elections from my perch in D.C., including eight midterms, and I sometimes develop a sense of where the cycle is going before survey data lead me there. Since my expectations constitute little more than an informed guess, I generally keep them to myself.
This year is different. I am sharing them with you.
After looking at recent national, state and congressional survey data and comparing this election cycle to previous ones, I am currently expecting a sizable Republican Senate wave. . . .
From Gallup:
Americans indicate that these negative attitudes will increase their probability of voting this fall, and history suggests it is more likely that Democrats than Republicans will suffer as a result, given Democratic control of the White House."
Of course, there is also Nate Silver giving Republicans a 65.1% probability of taking over the Senate.

Meanwhile, a new ABC/Washington Post poll shows most Americans view Obama as a "failure."  That is a pretty tough way to phrase things.

There are a couple of pollsters such as Sabato and Cook who say that there isn't evidence of the wave yet, but Rothenberg's comments deal with that perspective.

UPDATE: The Hill has this on the newest NBC News and the Wall Street Journal poll.
Republicans hold a two-point lead nationwide on which party registered voters want to see in control of Congress, and that lead expands to 10 points in the Senate battleground states at 50 percent to 40 percent in the poll, conducted by Democratic polling firm Hart Research and Republican pollster Public Opinion Strategies. 
"With 56 days until Election Day, our poll provides greater insight into what is likely to happen, and the news is not good for the Democrats," Democratic pollster Fred Yang writes in an accompanying memo. . . .

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9/07/2014

Concealed carry permit holder defends himself against six gang members who tried to rob him, gang members part of dozens of robberies over past 3 days


From TMJ4.com: "Police bust a dangerous teenage crime ring after a 15-year-old suspect is shot to death by one of his intended victims." These "thugs" were believed to have previously beaten and robbed a young woman. The 15-year-old who was shot and killed had been shot in a similar robbery last month.

More on the story from WISN.com TV:
Police in Milwaukee say the person shot during a robbery attempt Monday was a teen with a long arrest record.
Police said a group of people attempted to rob another group of people near South Second Street and National Avenue early Monday morning. Investigators said one of the would-be victims produced a gun and shot one of the would-be robbers. 
VIDEO: Police: Teen shot, killed early Monday part of crime spree 
Lt. Mark Stanmeyer said the shooting victim was a 15-year-old boy that he called "a known gang member" who had a lengthy arrest record including armed robbery and auto theft. 
Stanmeyer said the shooting victim had also been shot in an incident on Aug. 1
Police said the 30-year-old West Allis man who shot the teen was taken into police custody and released. He has been ordered to report to the District Attorney's Office at a future date. 
Stanmeyer said five people were arrested and are believed to have been part of dozens of Milwaukee-area robberies over the past three days. Stanmeyer said the ages of those arrested range from 14-18 years. . . .

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New York Times has devastating expose on how the Brookings Institution sells its research and access to Obama administration officials

Brookings is the old line liberal think tank in Washington, DC.  It isn't too surprising that the New York Times would have a lot of connections with Brookings.  Those connections have done a lot of damage to Brookings.  Here is just a few of the examples in the piece:
Qatar, the small but wealthy Middle East nation, agreed last year to make a $14.8 million, four-year donation to Brookings, which has helped fund a Brookings affiliate in Qatar and a project on United States relations with the Islamic world. 
Some scholars say the donations have led to implicit agreements that the research groups would refrain from criticizing the donor governments. 
“If a member of Congress is using the Brookings reports, they should be aware — they are not getting the full story,” said Saleem Ali, who served as a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar and who said he had been told during his job interview that he could not take positions critical of the Qatari government in papers. “They may not be getting a false story, but they are not getting the full story.” . . . 
“I am surprised, quite frankly, at how explicit the relationship is between money paid, papers published and policymakers and politicians influenced,” Amos Jones, a Washington lawyer who has specialized in the foreign agents act, said after reviewing transactions between the Norway government and Brookings, the Center for Global Development and other groups. . . . 
The Brookings Institution, which also accepted grants from Norway, has sought to help the country gain access to U.S. officials, documents show. One Brookings senior fellow, Bruce Jones, offered in 2010 to reach out to State Department officials to help arrange a meeting with a senior Norway official, according to a government email. The Norway official wished to discuss his country’s role as a “middle power” and vital partner of the United States. 
Brookings organized another event in April 2013, in which one of Norway’s top officials on Arctic issues was seated next to the State Department’s senior official on the topic and reiterated the country’s priorities for expanding oil exploration in the Arctic. . . .

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Scotland moves to independence, the political ramifications: a much more conservative and less EU friendly England

With Labour holding 40 of the 59 Scottish seats in the UK parliament, Scottish independence is going to dramatically transform British politics.  Forty seats out of 325 needed for a majority and the most recent polls showing a slight majority of Scots in favor of independence, the Labour Party is in disaster mode, with Labour MPs flocking to Scotland to convince voters there not to vote for independence.  

A lot of the purported fears about Scottish independence are pretty weak.  Take the claim that new Scottish government won't be able to continue to share the pound with the rest of the UK in a formal currency union.  There is a simple what that Scotland can do that without any help from the UK government.  Just look at how Panama and China used to link their currencies to the US Dollar.  Both countries committed to exchanging their currencies at a specific rate to the dollar.v

If this independence occurs, it will put the Conservatives in England and Wales in office for years.  It will probably also make the party more conservative as the party has room to compete with the UK Independence Party.   Scotland has been a strong supporter of the EU, so Scottish independence would probably doom what ever chance there was of defeating the referendum that Cameron has promised in 2017.  My guess is that all this also means that England will be a much stronger ally of the US.  

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Another case where registration type records are used for confiscating guns?:Government retroactively changing its mind on what is a legal gun

From Fox News Insider:
Joseph Palumbo, owner of the Albion Gun Shop in Albion, New York, was forced by state police to hand over 165 customer records or risk having his store raided. 
Palumbo spoke to Tucker Carlson this morning on Fox and Friends Weekend and explained that the police said they were looking for anyone who had purchased a modified AR-15 rifle. 
Although the police did not have a written order to seize the customer records, Palumbo said they made it clear there was the imminent threat of a SWAT team raid of his store, so he complied and handed over the records. . . .
"We had been told by the state police that this modification was legal over a year ago," said Palumbo, who has hired an attorney specializing in the Second Amendment. . . .

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Liberal Politico slaps Obama over pushing back amnesty for illegal immigrants until after the election

Will voters realize that Obama is just delaying amnesty until after the when voters can punish him for amnesty?  It is hard to believe that this trick could really protect Democrats from any fallout, but Obama is sure going to try.  From Politico:
President Barack Obama has one person to blame for looking indecisive, dithering and cowed by bungled political calculations: Barack Obama. 
He’s the one, after all, who strode into the Rose Garden on June 30 to announce that America couldn’t wait forever on immigration reform and pledging to move forward with a set of executive actions “before the end of summer.” He’s the one who spent that afternoon lighting into Republicans in Congress for punting and punting and punting again. 
Now he’s the one punting. 
Obama, appearing on “Meet the Press,” attributed his decision to punt immigration reform action until after Election Day to making “sure that the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted,” or “getting all our ducks in a row,” on the legal side and needing to spend some more time explaining himself to the American public. . . .

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9/05/2014

Did Senator Kirsten Gillibrand make up false claims about sexual harassment in the US Senate?

Why won't Senator Gillibrand name the names of Senators who supposedly engaged in sexual harassment?  Gillibrand wants to have it both ways.  She wants to have the publicity from claiming the incidents occurred but she doesn't want to actually let the people who supposedly did this defend themselves.  Unfortunately, Howard Kurtz doesn't go quite far enough on this discussion.  He assumes that her claims are true (and they may be), but what if they aren't?  What if she is making up claims just to help herself out politically?

UPDATE: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) comes to the same conclusion that I did.  
Johnson said members should have a chance to defend themselves, after Gillibrand detailed instances in a forthcoming book where she said some colleagues referred to her as "fat,” "porky” and “chubby.” 
"Well, if you are going to throw out accusations, my guess is you probably ought to name names," Johnson said on NewsMax TV. "If you are going to throw around those kind of accusations, you ought to give people a chance to defend themselves." . . .

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More evidence that Eric Holder is covering up the IRS scandal?

What possible reasonable justification could the Obama administration have for not providing contact information for a former employee?  From Fox News:
A top House Republican is demanding the Department of Justice hand over contact information on a former employee accused of having a conflict of interest in the IRS targeting scandal investigation.
In a Sept. 3 letter, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, once again asked Attorney General Eric Holder for information on Andrew Strelka’s whereabouts.
“Despite notifying [Oversight and Government Reform] Committee staff that the [Justice] Department no longer employs Mr. Strelka, the department has refused to assist the committee in speaking to Mr. Strelka directly,” Jordan wrote. “The department’s efforts to prevent the committee from learning Mr. Strelka’s whereabouts suggest the department has cause for keeping him from speaking with the committee.”
Jordan says he wants Strelka’s contact information so the Oversight Committee can conduct a transcribed interview. The letter gives Holder a Friday deadline for the information. . . .

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Eric Holder and racial cases: Abusing the power of the federal government in the Trayvon Martin and Ferguson, MO cases?

US Attorney General Eric Holder is still trying to go after George Zimmerman.  Dragging out the legal case like this over years imposes massive costs on George Zimmerman -- not only does it impose legal costs on him, but it makes it very difficult for him to plan his life.  Holder's actions here are a real criminal penalty that are being imposed on Zimmerman.  Either charge Zimmerman with something or eventually let go of the case.  From Grabien.com:
REPORTER: “There is a big announcement that you made years ago about the investigation in Trayvon Martin shooting. Have you ever finished that civil rights investigation? Are you ever going to finish that? 
HOLDER: “That investigation is ongoing. In fact, in anticipation of that question, I was asked — I asked, give me, you know, the best we can where do we stand. That matter is ongoing. There are active steps we are still in the process of taking. There are witnesses who we want to speak to as a result of some recent development. So that matter is still underway.”
From Politico:
Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged Thursday that even as his department has been opening new investigations stemming from the racially-charged shooting death of African-American teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. last month, federal prosecutors have still not concluded a long-pending probe into the shooting death of another black teen, Trayvon Martin, in Florida in 2012. 
Last November, Holder told the Washington Post he expected a conclusion "relatively soon" to the probe into the shooting of Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. In July 2013, a Florida jury acquitted Zimmerman was acquitted of murder. Holder promptly announced that the Justice Department would probe the case to see if prosecution on federal charges was warranted. . . .
Experts and former prosecutors have said they are very doubtful the Justice Department will file a federal criminal case against Zimmerman, although his acquittal on state charges does not legally preclude doing so. . . .
So despite "experts and former prosecutors" saying it is doubtful that federal criminal charges will be brought against Zimmerman, the Obama administration continues harassing Zimmerman.

Here is another clip from the same press conference about how the federal government can use its massive resources to make life difficult for a small town, when it appears that Holder made up his mind before any evidence was actually collected.  Others have noted how Holder is personally invested in" the Ferguson case, having put in more than 40 FBI agents on the ground."  Holder has publicly spoken out about what he perceived of as police hassling him when he was younger, though the evidence that those incidents actually involved race was never provided.  What is extraordinary here is that the local prosecutor is a Democrat and Holder clearly doesn't trust him to do a reasonable job.  From Grabien.com:
REPORTER: “Mr. Attorney General, can you give us a little more texture on why you decided to launch this investigation? Your own conversations there — you talk about review of documented allegations. Give us the universe of what went into this. 
MORAN: “We looked at a number of things in our initial and preliminary assessment and whether or not to open the investigation. It included not only discussions that the Attorney General had with residents of Ferguson two weeks ago but also, other meetings that the Civil rights division and Community relations service and other Justice Department officials have had with residents. We’ve looked of course at public records and other pieces of information that are available to make an assessment that this was indeed an appropriate opening for a pattern and practice investigation. Moreover, the civil rights division met with city leaders in Ferguson yesterday and they expressed a strong willingness to assist us, and in fact were extremely open to this investigation. So we will have cooperation from our local residents.” 
REPORTER: “What public records are we talking about?” 
MORAN: “There are a number of pieces of information that we looked at which would have included demographics and public records related to cases that may have been filed by private litigants. There are a number of different things we looked at.” 
REPORTER: “Mr. Attorney General, what about your visit struck you to the point where you felt comfortable able to move forward with the investigation? And then secondly, what do you say to supporters of the police that this investigation is premature and in fact unfair to the police department?”  
HOLDER: “Well, I would say that, as Molly said, the assistant attorney general said, the decision to go ahead was based not only on what I heard while I was out there, which was fairly compelling, and there was a certain continuity in similarities and the kinds of things that I was hearing whether it’s the traffic stops, revenue raising on the basis of traffic stopped; traffic stops that occurred in certain parts of the area. But in addition to that and in response to the earlier question, there has been a review of documentary evidence indicating that there are problems. I do not think there is any question that there is a basis to begin a pattern or practice of investigation. So with regard to those who might be concerned that we are somehow being premature, all we are saying at this point is we are opening an investigation to see whether or not there are in fact problems. I think the fact that we have pledges of local cooperation is an indication that there are issues felt even there at the local level, indicating the need for us to work together to make the situation better. But I want to emphasize, as I said in the prepared remarks, the vast majority of the people who serve — the American people in a law enforcement capacity in this country do so honorably, do so quite well. The vast majority of police departments do so, I think, quite well. But where we find problems, it is incumbent upon us given our statutory responsibilities to use federal law to make sure that in fact occurs.” 
REPORTER: “[indecipherable] You know, this is the same when we read a lot of stuff and you said there is no question that there is justification for opening it. But, I mean, it just sounds like, we talk to people, we read some stuff. But what specifically? Are there cases that specifically predicated the opening of this?” 
HOLDER: “[indecipherable] when you say, we read a lot of stuff. I mean, that’s kind of what we do. You know —“ [crosstalk] 
REPORTER: “There is no question, but there is no question to you. But for people who do not know what you read and don’t know what you’re looking at, what specifically have you seen that said, yes, we have to open this investigation?” 
HOLDER: “Molly maybe can get into more of the specifics, but there are variety of documents and materials that are contained in the public record that exists about the percentages of stops that occurred that involve certain ethnic groups and whether those are consistent with the numbers of people who make up the population. There were whole variety of things that you all have reported on that I think given us a good factual basis to proceed.”

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9/04/2014

Review of Frank Miniter's new book "The Future of the Gun"

My review of Frank Miniter's new book "The Future of the Gun" is available here.

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Concealed handgun permits in Orange County, California "surge," but are still very low


This year there are about 2.4 million adults living in Orange County, California.  Despite the "surge," there are few permit holders, representing just 0.07 percent of the adult population.  Even if all those applying for permits had their requests granted, that would still mean just about one-tenth of one percent have a permit.  The LA Times notes:
According to the analysis, permits are spread throughout the county, but certain cities — including Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Yorba Linda — have a higher concentration of licensees. Others, including Santa Ana and Garden Grove, have had much fewer approved permits. . . .
Not to surprisingly, giving the training costs to get a permit, it is the well-to-do areas of the county that are getting the permits.

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Despite massive government tax and regulatory subsidies, Electric car sales are stalled

Not only is there a large tax credit per car, but the federal government subsidizes massively subsidizes electric cars via its MPG regulations (here and here).  From the LA Times:
Electric car sales are not charging the marketplace. A new study by online automotive research company Edmunds.com suggests the segment may have run out of gas.
Sales of electric drive vehicles are stuck at about 3.6% of all new car sales for 2014, Edmunds senior analyst Jessica Caldwell said.
That's below the 3.7% market share for 2013, and it's not likely to grow any before the end of the year.
And that's during an otherwise robust sales season. Total figures for August were higher than any time in the last decade.
Automakers sold about 1.6 million vehicles in the U.S. in August, an increase of about 3% from August 2013, according to initial industry estimates released Wednesday.
"The whole automobile market has grown," Caldwell said. "We’re not seeing electric vehicles as part of that growth." . . .

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9/02/2014

Another example of no consequences when Obama adm did something wrong. Does John Brennan staying on as CIA Director mean that Obama approved of CIA spying on Senate?

This appears to be yet another example where the Obama administration did something outrageously bad and there were no consequences.  Senators are angry that Brennan first denied that the spying was occurring and then refused to acknowledge any real wrongdoing.  If Obama really believed that Brennan didn't understand or appreciate the seriousness of the spying, isn't it likely that he would have removed Brennan?  If Obama really believed that such spying was wrong, wouldn't removing Brennan have been a good signal of that disagreement?  If only to placate angry senators who view the executive branch spying on their overseers in congress as an outrage, you should think that Obama would remove Brennan.   From The Hill newspaper:
. . . "The CIA's spying on its overseers in Congress and Brennan's failure to acknowledge any serious wrongdoing by the agency demonstrate a tremendous failure of leadership,” he added.  
“There are still significant unanswered questions about the search of the Senate Intelligence Committee's computers — and Director Brennan and CIA leadership must be accountable to Congress on this matter," said Udall. 
The CIA’s inspector general caused a shockwave on Capitol Hill a month ago, when it concluded that five agency officials had “improperly accessed” Senate Intelligence Committee computers to review staffers’ files and emails. 
The snooping was conducted through a network to share files for the Senate committee’s report on the CIA’s history of “enhanced interrogation” techniques, such as waterboarding. 
The admission set off a whirlwind of criticism for the agency and validated charges from committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who accused the CIA of unconstitutionally violating the separation of powers during a March floor speech. 
It was especially bad news for Brennan, who had flatly denied Feinstein’s allegation as groundless and “beyond the scope of reason in terms of what we’d do.” . . .

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9/01/2014

U.K. authorities had refused to give child medical treatment he needs, parents take child out of country, UK seek extradition to force family back to country

Socialized medical system in the UK can't give a young boy suffering a brain tumor the specialized medical treatment he needs.  So the family, trying to save the boy's life, takes the boy out of the country.  In response, the government puts out a criminal warrant for the family.  From the Associated Press:
The grandmother of a 5-year-old British boy with a severe brain tumor accused U.K. authorities on Monday of cruelty for seeking an arrest warrant and pursuing the family abroad after his parents removed him from a British hospital against medical advice.
Hours later, a Spanish judge ordered the parents' detention for 72 hours while a court in Madrid considers whether to grant Britain an extradition request. 
Grandmother Patricia King told the BBC it was an "absolute disgrace" that her son and daughter-in-law were accused of child neglect after they took Ashya from Southampton General Hospital last week. The family says U.K. authorities had refused to give Ashya the kind of treatment he needed. 
The family has criticized Britain's health care system, saying he needs an advanced treatment option called proton beam therapy and that it wasn't being made available to him
King's parents were arrested Sunday in southeastern Spain after a European arrest warrant was issued by Interpol at the request of British police. Their son is receiving medical treatment for a brain tumor. After his parents' arrest, he was admitted to a Spanish hospital. . . .

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Obama's judicial nominees being pushed through the Senate at fast clip

From Politico:
The Senate barely does anything these days — except approve judges that could shape the law for a generation. 
Since Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) changed Senate rules in November to ease the approval of most of President Barack Obama’s nominees, Democrats have churned through confirmations of dozens of new judges — giving them lifetime appointments that will extend the administration’s influence for years to come. Over a roughly equivalent period during the 113th Congress, the Senate confirmed 36 district and circuit court judges before the rules change and 68 after, according to Senate statistics
Republicans have fought Democrats at every step, using their remaining procedural tools to stymie quick approval of judges and many executive branch nominees whose sway over regulations are magnified by today’s congressional stalemate. But the days of epic confirmation fights are over now because all nominees — save for those to the Supreme Court — need only a bare majority for approval after Democrats used the unilateral “nuclear option” to change the rules. . . .
Of course, the comparison of 36 to 68 is quite misleading as it takes a while at the beginning of every Congress to get the judicial nomination process up to speed.

UPDATE: The WSJ has this discussion on court packing.


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