Also: Thanks to blogger pal Doug Hagin over at The Daley Gator for the linkback to yesterday’s post! And while we’re on the topic, we have more news today from a Texas politician on guns. Excerpt:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) discussed the contentious issue of gun control with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning, acknowledging that something should be done, but disagreeing with what his Democratic colleagues are proposing:
Cruz went on to reiterate what many have pointed out: everything the anti-Second Amendment Democrats have proposed wouldn’t have prevented any mass shootings. In their zeal to posture for the media, Democrats ignore reality and keep putting forth weak policy ideas that punish only law-abiding gun owners and enthusiasts.
There are damn few people out there making the pro-Second Amendment case as calmly, as eloquently and as factually as Ted Cruz. He even (too generously, if you ask me) graciously met with the washed-up actress Alyssa Milano to discuss gun policy, which is a lot like trying to discuss the merits of various craft beers with Carrie Nation.
But here’s the real warning from this piece:
He also cautioned fellow Republicans about overreacting to the problem of mass shootings:
“If Republicans abandon the Second Amendment and demoralize millions of Americans who care deeply about Second Amendment rights, that could go a long way to electing a President Elizabeth Warren,” Cruz said.
He should set that to music.
Anti-gun politicians like to cast aspersions at the NRA, but that august organization’s five million members are only a drop in the bucket. The GOP neglects gun owners at their peril; the pro-Second Amendment community is well-organized, well-informed and have long memories.
And we vote, Republicans. You can bet your goddamn last bottom dollar on it.
Just when we think Beto O’Rourke can’t put his foot any further into his mouth, he proves us wrong… again. After saying he would have mandatory buybacks of all AR-15s, O’Rourke doubled down, saying he know people would follow the new law, should it become a reality.
Sure, because we know how it will be enforced – selectively, and only when there is a political point to be made.
“My confidence is in the people of this country. Go into a gun show in Conway, Arkansas and listening to the owners of AR-15s and the vendors of AR-15s, many of whom, you can imagine, didn’t agree with my proposal, but each of whom was willing to at least have the conversation, some of whom said, ‘Look, you know what? I have an AR-15. Don’t need it. Would gladly sell it back or destroy it,'” O’Rourke told MSNBC’s Joy Reid. “All of them seem like they’d follow the law. We are a nation of laws. It’s part of what defines us and distinguishes us from the rest of the world.”
Beta has never heard that from anyone in a gun show, anywhere, ever, unless they were winking or crossing their fingers. I suppose, if he came in with a retinue of cameramen and reporters and demanded to know if attendees would “obey the law, if we passed it,” they probably said, “Oh, yeah, sure we would – we’d hand in any guns that survived our inevitable tragic canoeing accident.” One expects they would be about this honest:
“I believe that America will comply with the law and I believe that there will be a due process in devising the law in the first place, where we listen to stakeholders, all concerned and affected,” he explained. “But do not allow the delays that we’ve seen that have lasted decades to stop us from finally acting on this.”
Australians have not complied with these sorts of laws. New Zealanders have not complied with these sorts of laws. Canadians have not complied with these sorts of laws. And if you want to see open defiance of any such law, boy, howdy, forget those guys, and you just wait and see how Americans won’t comply.
“I don’t want to give into the hype or some of the scare tactics out that have been employed to stop us from even considering this in the first place, much like we don’t go door-to-door to enforce any law in the United States. In fact, I don’t think we do that for any law in the United States,” O’Rourke said with a smirk. “This would not be something that we’d do and I only raise that, Joy, because others have said, you know, this is something we would fear if there were mandatory buybacks program. No, we expect people to follow the law. And that’s certainly what I believe will happen.”
With that last sentence Beta has proved himself to be a bigger idiot that I had previously thought.
Here’s the thing about laws like this that Beta either doesn’t understand or is lying about: These laws aren’t intended to affect criminals. They won’t. Anyone with the IQ of a stuffed iguana knows they won’t. It’s not possible to make murder any illegal-er, and it’s not possible to get weapons out of the hands of criminals. No, the intent of laws like this was foreseen by Ayn Rand decades ago:
“Did you really think we want those laws observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them to be broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”
Control, True Believers. It’s always about control. With politicians in general – both sides – it’s always about control. Understand that, and you understand the problem.
I’ve stated for many years that there is no abject poverty in the United States, only relative poverty. Turns out that when you compare the U.S. to the rest of the world, we don’t even have that. Excerpts, with my thoughts:
A groundbreaking study by Just Facts has discovered that after accounting for all income, charity, and non-cash welfare benefits like subsidized housing and Food Stamps—the poorest 20% of Americans consume more goods and services than the national averages for all people in most affluent countries. This includes the majority of countries in the prestigious Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), including its European members. In other words, if the U.S. “poor” were a nation, it would be one of the world’s richest.
It’s important to note that most assessments of “poverty” in the United States do not include government benefits such as those listed above.
Notably, this study was reviewed by Dr. Henrique Schneider, professor of economics at Nordakademie University in Germany and the chief economist of the Swiss Federation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. After examining the source data and Just Facts’ methodology, he concluded: “This study is sound and conforms with academic standards. I personally think it provides valuable insight into poverty measures and adds considerably to this field of research.”
It’s also important to note that the Swiss know a thing or two about economics.
To accurately compare living standards across or within nations, it is necessary to account for all major aspects of material welfare. None of the data above does this.
The OECD data is particularly flawed because it is based on “income,” which excludes a host of non-cash government benefits and private charity that are abundant in the United States. Examples include but are not limited to:
healthcare provided by Medicaid, free clinics, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
nourishment provided by Food Stamps, school lunches, school breakfasts, soup kitchens, food pantries, and the Women’s, Infants’ & Children’s program.
housing and amenities provided through rent subsidies, utility assistance, and homeless shelters.
In other words, the standard calculation of “poverty” dismisses and ignores major sources of income for the “poor” in the U.S., those being taxpayer-funded transfer payments in one form or another.
This is, of course, horseshit. You can hardly read the comments section of any article on the subject of poverty without reading anecdotes of people on food stamps (at least, back when those were easily recognized) buying a cartload of expensive prime cuts of beef, then going outside and loading them into a new car. I’ve seen it myself; almost thirty years ago, when food stamps were still the big USDA coupons, I took a cow elk into a butcher’s shop for processing and was in line for the cash register behind a woman who was buying a huge box of prime steaks – with food stamps.
I was sufficiently aggravated that I didn’t bother to see what kind of car she was driving.
Read the whole article, of course, but the upshot of all this is pretty simple to determine: Anyone living in the United States has it fucking made compared to pretty much anywhere else on the planet, even if you are “poor” as such things are reckoned here today. We have the richest poor people in human history, and it would be nice if for once the legacy media would stop lying about it.
The domestic rise of various violent groups is a symptom of ideology taking precedence over authentic and rational thought. A recent example of this rather disturbing trend was the attack on the journalist Andy Ngo. Ngo was reporting from Portland, Oregon on a series of protests and counter-protests in the city when he was accosted and attacked by a far-left group, Antifa (which has been responsible for many acts of violence at other events). Ngo sustained injuries to the head, which landed him in a hospital.
Just because, here is some windy Rule Five imagery from the archives.
On that breezy note, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.
We all already know about the latest shooting spree by a nutbar, this one in Texas; I’m not going to rehash that. But instead, even as politicians scramble to climb onto the still-warm bodies to RHEEEEE for more gun laws that won’t be enforced, I’d like to talk a little bit about cause analysis.
Now, to preface this: I’ve been a self-employed independent consultant for fifteen + years. A big part of that work involves teaching the employees of major corporations how to solve problems, which means teaching people how to identify causes; several large corporations have and do pay me significant money to teach their people how to identify and address the root causes of problems.
So, how does one go about solving a problem like the criminal use of guns? Well, one might start by noting one of the primary rules of cause analysis: The tool is never the cause.
Ultimately, root cause is defined as “The fundamental underlying condition absent which the nonconformity would not have occurred.” To analyze the various possible causes and arrive at an ultimate root cause, the cause investigator should consider several things:
The investigation should uncover a series of events or facts that led up to the nonconformity. Root cause typically lies at the beginning of this chain of events. Keep asking ‘why?’
Test possible causes; take one possible cause at a time and compare it to your investigative tools. Now this isn’t easy when dealing with major social trends or criminal acts, as the streets and alleys of the nation aren’t laboratories. But we can move on to:
A tool, be it physical, procedural or software, is never a cause. Root causes are always due to one of two things, both of which have their source in how a process is managed:
Someone has made a mistake, error or omission, (qualitative) or
There is too much variation in the performance of the product or the process (quantitative.)
How do you know when you have found the root cause? Some hints include:
Patterns found in the data lead to one cause.
Following the chain of events runs the questioner out of “whys.”
Multiple lines of inquiry lead to one result.
One possible cause shows up in several places.
The cause being examined is a systemic cause, not a specific cause.
However, the final determination should consider one thing: An incident is an action; by the rules of cause and effect, the cause is likewise an action; an action requires an actor. Therefore, a root cause is always at the point where some person or group of people made a decision. A decision to act (or not to act) is always at the heart of every incident. Is this cause qualitative or quantitative? Without having done a thorough analysis, I’d guess the former; something in the minds of these assholes has gone badly wrong, and were they unable to get a gun, as we have seen in other incidents, they would turn to a pressure-cooker bomb, an automobile, a can of gasoline or some other tool, because the tool is never the cause.
Of course, nobody in the political world wants to think this deeply about a problem, and honestly, very damn few voters want to either. Nobody is interested in finding out why these assholes are making the decision to shoot a bunch of people; they are too focused on doing something highly visible and emotionally driven. So they call for more laws that won’t be enforced, and more bans on “assault weapons” that they can’t even define.
The city of Boulder, long known to Colorado residents as “The People’s Republik of Boulder” and “Twelve Square Miles Surrounded by Reality,” is cracking down on tobacco use and, in so doing, creating a lucrative opportunity for smugglers. Excerpt:
Rich Marianos, a retired assistant director with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms warned those decisions come with consequences. He said, without proper resources, Boulder could face a new black market.
“What has time told us,” Marianos said. “When we put in a prohibition, we create crime, just like when we tried to instill the Volstead Act into illegal alcohol in the 20s and 30s.”
Last week, Boulder City Council finalized a plan to ban flavored e-cigarettes as well as raise the age to buy tobacco and nicotine products to 21. They also agreed to let voters approve of a 40% sales tax on the remaining legal vaping products.
Marianos warned the combination of these proposals would create a black market.
“An example could be they were going to Colorado Springs where the taxes may be lower and then bringing them to Boulder and sell them at a higher rate,” Marianos said.
He called cigarette trafficking “the new face of organized crime.” He also said terrorist organizations use it to fund their illegal operations and moves like these would require law enforcement to do more with less.
But it’s for the children!
Every time you ban an item or a commodity, you create a black market. You create a lucrative opportunity for criminals, and you make criminals out of normal citizens who buy products from the black marketeers. That was the lesson of Prohibition in the United States, but that was a lesson that the city of Boulder (and New York, and San Francisco, and many other locales) clearly hasn’t learned.
The Soviet Union couldn’t even stop this, not even given the near-total control they had over the people. There was a burgeoning black market in the Soviet Union, with everything from onions to automobiles sold “Nalevo” or “on the left.” Boulder won’t have any more luck, and arguably even less, since you can go right up the road to Lyons, or Greeley, or (as the article notes) down to the Springs and buy anything you want.
Still. It’s not the first stupid idea the Boulder City Council ever had, and it sure won’t be the last.
Cops patrolling train stations are typically using a tactic that law enforcement calls the “cold consent encounter,” so named because they approach people cold, on thin evidence they are drug couriers, and passengers consent to the searches, at least according to the officers’ versions of events.
It’s a legal loophole of sorts, commonly used by DEA agents working mass transit to get around the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which protects people from unreasonable searches. (Travelers can’t decline a search once a drug dog makes a positive hit, however.)
The American Civil Liberties Union has described cold consent encounters as “definitely cold, not so consensual.” And the ACLU of New Mexico criticized Amtrak in particular for its “insidious alliance” with the DEA, after some information about the DEA’s monitoring of train travelers came out in a drug trafficking trial in 2001.
ACLU New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson said that travelers who are approached on the train or other mass transit often don’t know that they have the right to refuse police searches. Especially troubling to him is research showing that police, when acting on hunches rather than hard evidence, are more likely to let subconscious racial bias creep into their work.
I don’t often side with the ACLU, but they’re right in this case. In part because of the utter failure of our education system to teach Civics, including such things as the Fourth Amendment, most travelers don’t realize that they have the option to say “no” when asked by a badge-bearing Fed if he can look in their luggage.
Of course, these days we put up with all sorts of invasions of our privacy. If you go through security at an airport, you are effectively giving consent to have TSA agents paw through your luggage – and maybe your person. But these Amtrak riders seem all too willing to meekly agree to searches.
I could tell you a story about when I was seventeen, and drove to a town in a neighboring county on a Saturday night to see if Howard County girls were any prettier than Allamakee and Winneshiek County girls. (I didn’t notice much difference.)
A local cop, seeing a kid and a car he didn’t recognize, pulled me over on the pretext that the fog lamps on my car may have been too close to the ground and he wanted to measure them. When that was done, and when he not-too-subtly played his flashlight beam around the inside of my car, he asked if he could look in the trunk.
“No,” I told him.
“Why not?” the cop asked.
“Because I don’t have to let you,” I replied.
Even then, in the late Seventies, I don’t think he expected that answer from a teenage boy. But I maintain to this day it was the right answer. It’s too bad more of these Amtrak riders don’t realize that.
If there’s even a hint of truth to this, the schadenfreude will flow like the sweetest of sweet wines. Excerpt:
A Washington, DC, mom says her political-consultant husband left her for Rep. Ilhan Omar, according to a bombshell divorce filing obtained by The Post.
Dr. Beth Mynett says her cheating spouse, Tim Mynett, told her in April that he was having an affair with the Somali-born US representative — and that he even made a “shocking declaration of love” for the Minnesota congresswoman before he ditched his wife, alleges the filing, submitted in DC Superior Court on Tuesday.
The physician, 55, and her 38-year-old husband — who has worked for left-wing Democrats such as Omar and her Minnesota predecessor, Keith Ellison — have a 13-year-old son together.
“The parties physically separated on or about April 7, 2019, when Defendant told Plaintiff that he was romantically involved with and in love with another woman, Ilhan Omar,” the court papers say.
So, Representative Omar committed adultery? That’s worse than marrying her brother to aid him in committing immigration and student loan fraud, I think, and would get her stoned to death in the Third World shithole she left behind when she came here to begin her career of bad-mouthing her adopted homeland.
But here’s the onion:
The 37-year-old congresswoman and mom of three paid Tim Mynett and his E. Street Group approximately $230,000 through her campaign since 2018 for fundraising consulting, digital communications, internet advertising and travel expenses.
Omar was spotted enjoying time with Tim Mynett at a California restaurant in March.
So not only is Rep. Omar an adultress, she is arguably guilty of fraud in what has to be an instance of her feathering her love nest.
Really, folks, if the Nut Squad didn’t exist, one would hope someone in the GOP would have had enough wit to invent them. (That probably assumes facts not in evidence.) President Trump should, in the course of his campaign, be slapping his opponent with the Nut Squad at every turn; campaigns on both sides have always used painting with a broad brush as a tactic, and it’s a tactic at which the President excels.
The silly season hasn’t even really started yet, and already, things are getting pretty entertaining.
For decades, many economists have argued that itemized tax deductions complicate the individual income tax code, overly benefit the rich, and distort economic decision-making. Yet the popularity of itemization has made eliminating these deductions politically perilous.
Well, yes, itemized deductions do complicate the income tax code. I don’t know as they overly benefit the rich, since the top 5% of income earners pay an overwhelming majority of income taxes. But the entire argument about these policies “overly benefit(ing) the rich” is specious; it is based on the assumption that one’s income belongs first to the government, and that any you are allowed to keep is some sort of gift. That’s bullshit.
New data from the IRS shows that the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has substantially weakened the reach of tax itemization. Lawmakers should finish the job by eliminating the itemization of tax deductions and applying those new tax revenues to better uses, such as extending the TCJA.
No. Lawmakers should go all the way, by eliminating the process by which government steals the property of the citizenry.
Now, I’m not an anarchist. I am a minarchist; I believe that government at all levels should be minimal and strictly restrained. But even a minarchist government requires funding. So how to do that? Read on!
Shifting the remaining tax filers to the standard deduction has several advantages:
Some of which are horseshit:
First, these benefits are extraordinarily tilted to the top earners—both because the remaining itemizers are disproportionately high-income, and because a filer in the 35 percent tax bracket will save nearly three times as much money from the same $1,000 deduction as a filer in the 12 percent bracket.
Heavens forbid! These policies allow taxpayers to keep more of their own property!
The mortgage interest deduction essentially subsidizes the purchase of large homes by upper-income families. Just nine percent of homeowners earning under $100,000 take this deduction, saving an average of just $770 each.
So, instead of trimming the edges of this onerous and corrupt system, let’s do away with it altogether.
The charitable giving deduction has proven to be less tax-sensitive than TCJA critics feared, as last year’s steep decline in the number of itemizing taxpayers brought only an inflation-adjusted 1.1 percent decline in charitable giving by families and individuals.
Good. Then presumably charitable giving won’t die off when we tear down the entire system.
Overall, Congressional Budget Office estimates show that eliminating itemized deductions would raise revenues by approximately $85 billion per year (assuming the TCJA is extended).
I don’t want to raise revenues. I want to decrease them. Let the beast starve!
Here’s a better idea: Stop taxing income. Tax consumption. A reasonable national retail-level sales tax (most assuredly not a VAT) combined with user fees for things like national parks, would:
Make sure everyone has skin in the game. Everybody buys things; everybody pays.
Eliminate the entire, enormous, economic-activity-draining Imperial apparatus that now collects steals tax revenue from producers.
Collect revenues from the underground economy; pimps and drug dealers buy cars, cell phones and so forth. Let them pay taxes on their consumption, allowing a lower rate for all of us.
Starve the beast. The Imperial government has only two legitimate purposes: To keep anyone from injuring we citizens or from taking our stuff.
Taxation is theft! (If you don’t believe that, stop paying your taxes and see how long it takes for someone to send men with guns out looking for you.) Let’s at least reduce the theft to a lower level, and introduce some degree of voluntary effort into the process.