Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Next Subprime Crisis - Obama's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Strikes With A Vengeance

Obama's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued new regulations requiring banks not merely to continue making 'subprime' loans that were at the heart of our 2008-09 economic meltdown, but the new regs require the banks to issue such loans at 'prime' rates. This from IBD:

The War On Banks . . .

New mortgage rules issued last week by the administration will have the effect of forcing lenders to approve prime loans to borrowers who would normally only qualify for subprime loans carrying higher interest rates and fees to cover the added risk of default.

Banks are already under renewed pressure from federal prosecutors and regulators to make home loans to low-income borrowers with blemished credit as part of the administration's stepped-up enforcement of anti-redlining laws [the Community Reinvestment Act - the law at the heart of our last economic meltdown].

Before the [2008] mortgage crisis, lenders were able to hedge losses by placing such homebuyers in higher-cost subprime mortgages — something the government at one point actually encouraged as part of a strategy to expand credit opportunities for lower-income minorities and close the racial "mortgage gap."

But under the new mortgage rules, loans with subprime features do not fall under the official government definition of "qualified mortgages," and therefore do not provide a "safe harbor" against lawsuits and other action. As a result, analysts warn lenders may end up having to "subsidize" riskier borrowers at the expense of other customers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Dodd-Frank Act-created agency that wrote the 800-page mortgage regulation, has decreed that the way to distinguish a prime loan from a subprime loan is by the interest rate charged, even though the main distinguishing feature of a subprime loan is a sub-660 credit score.

"Under its tortured definition of 'prime,' a borrower can have no down payment, a credit score of 580, and a debt (-to-income) ratio over 50%," as long as the borrower is charged a prime rate, said former Fannie Mae chief credit officer Edward Pinto. [emphasis added]

Mortgages carrying a prime rate, or one within 1.5 percentage points of the national average, will have the strongest level of legal protection, according to the regulator. Analysts say this rule effectively limits lenders' ability to price for risk. Lenders who charge rates above the 1.5-point threshold open themselves up to legal liability.

Starting in January 2014, when the new rules take effect, borrowers who default on nonqualifying home loans will have the power to "raise a foreclosure defense" against banks, according to Joseph Barloon, a lawyer for New York-based Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Pinto, now a fellow for the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, agrees: "CFPB's definition will force a lender to either subsidize risky loans to get the presumption of affordability (for lower-income borrowers), or subject itself to a rebuttable presumption (by charging subprime rates), which will bring certain litigation from the tort bar at every attempt made to foreclose."

In addition, lenders who underwrite such nonqualifying loans could open themselves up to federal charges if recipients are minorities.

CFPB has the power to enforce "fair lending" laws, and is already coordinating lending-discrimination cases against banks with the Justice Department.

As part of recent consent decrees, Justice has ordered several bank defendants to approve prime-rate mortgages for African-Americans and Latinos who otherwise would not qualify for them.

For instance, First United Security Bank of Alabama must set up a "special financing program" for African-Americans. According to the 25-page federal order, the program must offer them interest rates and other terms "more advantageous to the applicant than it would normally provide" — even if the applicant "would ordinarily not qualify for (a discounted) rate for reasons including lack of required credit quality, income, or down payment."

As I wrote a few days ago:

The next great recession in the U.S. is going to look surprisingly like the last one. The exact same policies that led to the 2008 recession are being followed - and indeed, in many cases strengthened - by the Obama administration.

Admittedly, that was before I saw this new regulation. This makes things exponentially worse for banks than they were in the lead up to our economic meltdown in 2008. This is just horrendous. It is not a solution to cure actual racism. It is pure leftwing social engineering, that as we well know, carries with it an unconscionable price for all Americans. Obama, like the entire left, sees our economy as a cash cow to be milked at will and altered on a genetic level, all in the belief that the cash will never stop flowing. Consequences, even such obvious ones as from the subprime crisis of 2008, are simply ignored. It simply defies belief. Of course the other issue is that this is going unmentioned by conservatives in Congress. That too defies belief.

Update: To see that same attitude playing out at the municipal level, look to John Fund's recent article on how Detroit's political leadership is operating on pure fantasy and denial.







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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Economics & Race, Tragedy & Travesty

A juxtaposition of three stories tells a lot about the state of our nation. Our economy is fragile. Our GDP declined in the 4th Quarter and our economy is facing yet more headwinds in the future. The sector hurt the worst by Obama are his most loyal constituents - blacks. And lastly, is California a cautionary tale for the rest of the U.S., or is it a blueprint for our future.

Our nation's economy actually contracted .1% during the fourth quarter of last year according to the preliminary report issued by the Commerce Dept. Hot Air does a good analysis of the numbers. This may well be anomalous, associated with a quarterly drop in government spending and the reduction in inventories, but it still shows just how fragile our economy is going into Obama's second term. Tthat despite four years of massively increased government spending and historically low interest rates. And on the horizon are tax increases already passed that will punish the job creators and hurt capital formation. There are all the taxes and expenses associated with Obamacare that will begin kicking in as 2014 approaches. And then of course there is the tsunami of new regulations expected in Obama's second term. A portion of that tsunami will be new EPA regulations further expanding Obama's war on energy sector, something Obama all but promised during his second inaugural speech. The best case scenario is four years of very sluggish growth and little if any job creation.

The second story, via Gateway Pundit, is NAACP President Ben Jealous who, while appearing on Meet The Press last Sunday, made the admission that blacks are doing "far worse" under Obama. This should come as a surprise to no one. Blacks are loyal to Obama and the left, but that loyalty is a one way street. Blacks identify with Obama as black. The true irony is that they don't realize that his skin color is, well, only skin deep. It is meaningless to his identity as a highly ideological leftist. And with that as his motivating force, blacks run a distant second to moneyed interests - i.e, public sector unions - and pathways to greater power - i.e., the green agenda.

Lastly, there is a wholly depressing column from V.D. Hanson at PJM, wherein he gives a eulogy for his state, California, a state sinking under decades of left wing political experimentation that are driving out the productive middle class in droves. In assessing the cause, he writes:

California has changed not due to race but due to culture, most prominently because the recent generation of immigrants from Latin America did not — as in the past, for the most part — come legally in manageable numbers and integrate under the host’s assimilationist paradigm. Instead, in the last three decades huge arrivals of illegal aliens from Mexico and Latin America saw Democrats as the party of multiculturalism, separatism, entitlements, open borders, non-enforcement of immigration laws, and eventually plentiful state employment.

Given the numbers, the multicultural paradigm of the salad bowl that focused on “diversity” rather than unity, and the massive new government assistance, how could the old American tonic of assimilation, intermarriage, and integration keep up with the new influxes? It could not.

These three stories demonstrate the insanity that is America's politics today. Obama proved in his first four years that he wasn't qualified to run a lemonade stand, yet he gets reelected. Over 90% of blacks, the people who have as a group suffered the most under Obama, nonetheless pull the lever for him. The left wins the Hispanic vote by campaigning against the values and economics that made our country great. It is a devil's pact destined by simple math to end very badly. And yet, the left is the dominant force in politics today.

Just as V. D. Hanson sees the future as exceedingly bleak for his state, I see the future exceedingly bleak for our nation. I cannot see our economy recovering. And until Conservatives are able to break the left's stranglehold on black and Hispanic voters, there is simply no way we are going to win a large enough majority to change our nation's economic and cultural trajectory. Given objective reality, we should be able to do this on the basis of conservative principles, but I don't see anyone on the right making a serious attempt to do so. It is both tragedy and travesty.







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A Short Summary Of Why The Theory Of Man Made Global Warming Has Failed

Prof. Bob Carter, an Aussie scientist, gives a very good summary of why the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) has failed. That theory has at its heart the hypothesis that carbon dioxide is the biggest driver of our climate and that, as carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere, our temperatures will warm proportionately. This from a post by Prof. Carter at WUWT:

Though you wouldn’t know it from the antagonistic nature of public discussions about global warming, a large measure of scientific agreement and shared interpretation exists amongst nearly all scientists who consider the issue. The common ground . . . includes:

· that climate has always changed and always will,

· that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and warms the lower atmosphere,

· that human emissions are accumulating in the atmosphere,

· that a global warming of around 0.5OC occurred in the 20th century, but

· that global warming has ceased over the last 15 years.

The scientific argument over DAGW is therefore about none of these things. Rather, it is almost entirely about three other, albeit related, issues. They are:

· the amount of net warming that is, or will be, produced by human-related emissions,

· whether any actual evidence exists for dangerous warming of human causation over the last 50 years, and

· whether the IPCC’s computer models can provide accurate climate predictions 100 years into the future.

. . . My answers would be: insignificant, none and no.

What can possibly explain such disparate responses to a largely agreed set of factual climate data?

. . . Given the great natural variability exhibited by climate records, and the failure to date to compartmentalize or identify a human signal within them, the proper null hypothesis – because it is the simplest consistent with the known facts – is that global climate changes are presumed to be natural, unless and until specific evidence is forthcoming for human causation.

It is one of the more extraordinary facts about the IPCC that the research studies it favours mostly proceed using an (unjustified) inversion of the null hypothesis – namely that global climate changes are presumed to be due to human-related carbon dioxide emissions, unless and until specific evidence indicates otherwise.

What hypothesis do we wish to test?

. . . The DAGW hypothesis that I want to test here is precisely and only “that dangerous global warming is being caused, or will be, by human-related carbon dioxide emissions”. To be “dangerous”, at a minimum the change must exceed the magnitude or rate of warmings that are known to be associated with normal weather and climatic variability.

What evidence can we use to test the DAGW hypothesis?

Many different lines of evidence can be used to test the DAGW hypothesis. Here I have space to present just five, all of which are based upon real world empirical data. For more information, please read both Dr. Hayhoe’s and my book.

Consider the following tests:

(i) Over the last 16 years, global average temperature, as measured by both thermometers and satellite sensors, has displayed no statistically significant warming; over the same period, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased by 10%.

Large increases in carbon dioxide have therefore not only failed to produce dangerous warming, but failed to produce any warming at all. Hypothesis fails.

(ii) During the 20th century, a global warming of between 0.4O C and 0.7O C occurred, at a maximum rate, in the early decades of the century, of about 1.7O C/century. In comparison, our best regional climate records show that over the last 10,000 years natural climate cycling has resulted in temperature highs up to at least 1O C warmer than today, at rates of warming up to 2.5O C/century.

In other words, both the rate and magnitude of 20th century warming falls well within the envelope of natural climate change. Hypothesis fails, twice.

(iii) If global temperature is controlled primarily by atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, then changes in carbon dioxide should precede parallel changes in temperature.

In fact, the opposite relationship applies at all time scales. Temperature change precedes carbon dioxide change by about 5 months during the annual seasonal cycle, and by about 700-1000 years during ice age climatic cycling. Hypothesis fails.

(iv) The IPCC’s computer general circulation models, which factor in the effect of increasing carbon dioxide, project that global warming should be occurring at a rate of +2.0O C/century.

In fact, no warming at all has occurred in either the atmosphere or the ocean for more than the last decade. The models are clearly faulty, and allocate too great a warming effect for the extra carbon dioxide (technically, they are said to overestimate the climate sensitivity). Hypothesis fails.

(v) The same computer models predict that a fingerprint of greenhouse-gas-induced warming will be the creation of an atmospheric hot spot at heights of 8-10 km in equatorial regions, and enhanced warming also near both poles.

Given that we already know that the models are faulty, it shouldn’t surprise us to discover that direct measurements by both weather balloon radiosondes and satellite sensors show the absence of surface warming in Antarctica, and a complete absence of the predicted low latitude atmospheric hot spot. Hypothesis fails, twice.

. . . .

Summary

The current scientific reality is that the IPCC’s hypothesis of dangerous global warming has been repeatedly tested, and fails. Despite the expenditure of large sums of money over the last 25 years (more than $100 billion), and great research effort by IPCC-related and other (independent) scientists, to date no scientific study has established a certain link between changes in any significant environmental parameter and human-caused carbon dioxide emissions. . . .

My one caveat to Dr. Carter's summary would be that I have zero trust in the assertion that any warming has occurred in the 20th century, simply because I do not trust the temperature records maintained by global warming theories high priest, James Hansen. Hansen has modified our temperature records on more than one occasion, always reducing older temperatures from the early and mid 20th century while increasing modern temperatures. He should be in jail.





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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Bear Interrupts The Filming Of A Commercial

Heh.



(H/T American Digest)





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Obama Kicks Off The 2014 Election With A Campaign Speech On Immigration

Obama spent his first four years in office doing nothing to push legislation on immigration. Yet today, literally one day after a bipartisan group of Senators announced the framework for immigration reform legislation, Obama gave a speech in Law Vegas congratulating himself on his administration's successes of the past four years related to immigration and to quite magnanimously thank the Senators for adopting his ideas.

Obama's speech was a bid to get out in front of the Senators and claim credit for their legislative attempt at compromise. The bastard is just utterly shameless. Obama's speech was also the first campaign speech of the 2014 campaign. Obama may not be on the ballot, but this was his attempt to make sure Hispanics stay on the plantation in the midterms. Remember, Republicans are "the enemy" of Hispanics according to Obama, and the last thing he wants is them credited with doing anything that might change that narrative in the mind of Hispanics.

As to the specific contents of his speech:

During his speech, Obama plan outlined four major areas for reform, including strengthening border security, cracking down on the hiring of undocumented workers, providing a pathway to citizenship, and streamlining the immigration system.

While these areas dovetail with those laid out in the Senate blueprint, Obama's plan is significantly more liberal, particularly in regards to how it deals with the 11 million undocumented workers currently living in the U.S. While the Senators' compromise would make citizenship contingent on specific improvements in border security, the President has called for an unconditional path to legal citizenship.

That disagreement could be a major sticking point for Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), one of the members of the bipartisan group responsible for Monday's plan.

So far, Republican House Speaker John Boehner has offered little indication of whether it will consider a comprehensive immigration reform package.

"There are a lot of ideas about how best to fix our broken immigration system," Boehner spokesperson Brendan Buck said in response to Obama's speech Tuesday. "Any solution should be a bipartisan one, and we hope the President is careful not to drag the debate to the left and ultimately disrupt the difficult work that is ahead in the House and Senate.”

I will be amazed if Obama and the far left allow any sort of bipartisan compromise to go through on immigration. The last thing they want is to give up a wedge issue to the likes of Marco Rubio or, indeed, any Republican.







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Truth Slips Out: France Is Totally Bankrupt Says . . . The Government's Labor Minister

If you listen to politicians long enough, you will eventually get nuggets of truth. France, the country that bequeathed socialism to the world, has found that its own socialist policies have drained the national piggy bank dry - at least that according to France's labour minister, Michel Sapin, who in an interview yesterday called his nation "totally bankrupt."

Ah, but there is more to the story. It is not just that France is bankrupt, it is that they are socialists trying to salvage their welfare state by jacking up taxes on the wealthy to unprecedented levels. So how is that working our for them:

The comments came as President Hollande attempts to improve the image of the French economy after pledging to reduce the country’s deficit by cutting spending by €60bn (£51.5bn) over the next five years and increasing taxes by €20bn. Data from Banque de France showed earlier this month that a flight of capital has already left the country amid concerns that France’s Socialist leader intends to soak the rich and businesses. The actor GĂ©rard Depardieu has renounced his French citizenship and decamped to Russia in protest, while David Cameron said Britain will “roll out the red carpet” to attract wealthy individuals.

I do get an inordinate amount of schadenfreude from the French socialists. But then again, they deserve it.







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Setting Us Up For The Next Great Recession

The next great recession in the U.S. is going to look surprisingly like the last one. The exact same policies that led to the 2008 recession are being followed - and indeed, in many cases strengthened - by the Obama administration.

One of the great tragedies of the left taking control of the Presidency and both houses of Congress in 2009 was that the nation never learned the reasons for our economic meltdown. That means the real problems haven't been fixed.

If you listen to Obama and the left, the sole causes of the meltdown were Wall St. greed, the derivatives market, and deregulation - though even that which they complained about, the repeal of the Glass Stegall Act, occurred under Bill Clinton in 1999. The true culprits, subprime lending, the disastrous Community Reinvestment Act that was used to eviscerate lending standards, ostensibly to cure racism, and a historic fraud perpetrated by bond rating agencies in collusion with our government, are never mentioned.

As I pointed out when Dodd Frank was first proposed, the terms of that bill actually strengthened the policies that gave rise to the housing bubble. The effects are now being felt. A month ago, AG Eric Holder bragged about strong arming thousands of bankers for imaginary racism in lending. Now this the other day from IBD:

Despite new evidence the Community Reinvestment Act led to riskier lending and played a key role in the subprime mortgage crisis, the Obama administration is broadening the anti-redlining regulation's authority and scope, spooking bankers.

A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the nation's pre-eminent economic research group, states that the CRA "clearly" had a major impact on the flood of subprime loans made in the late 1990s and 2000s, which directly led to the housing crisis.

By quietly expanding the regulation, analysts say President Obama is picking up where President Clinton left off in April 1995, when he rewrote rules for what had been a largely toothless law as first drafted in 1977. Through executive orders, Clinton set strict numerical lending targets for banks in "underserved" neighborhoods, while ordering regulators to crack down on alleged bank redlining.

The new rules for the first time mandated that banks use "innovative" or "flexible underwriting practices." Compliance required banks to pass a heavily weighted "lending test" or suffer holds on expansion plans.

The CRA overhaul "has been a disaster," said ex-BB&T CEO John Allison in his recent book on the financial crisis. He argued it's forced "banks to participate in making high-risk housing loans to low-income buyers who would not meet traditional bank lending standards."

Added Allison, who now heads the Cato Institute: "The default rates on these low-income loans are extraordinarily high."

Still, the Obama administration wants banks to step up approval of such low-income mortgages. And it's using the CRA to spur more lending, including:

• Forcing banks through threat of prosecution to expand their CRA assessment areas to include inner-city areas blighted by subprime foreclosures, where they are compelled to invest in new brick and mortar.

Many banks, in fact, are under direct federal orders to open new branches or ATMs in high-risk and unprofitable areas of Detroit, St. Louis and other cities hit hardest by the recession. . . .

• Ordering bank defendants accused of lending bias to underwrite riskier CRA loans at discounted rates.

For instance, Justice has ordered First United Security Bank of Alabama to "ensure that residential and CRA small business loan products are made available and marketed in majority African-American census tracts," while offered on terms "more advantageous to the applicant" than normal.

• Toughening CRA enforcement by bank examiners, . . .

• Broadening CRA examination guidelines to include loan "pricing discrimination," and instructing examiners to take a closer look at improper "steering" of minority borrowers into subprime loans with higher interest rates and fees.

• Using the threat of CRA "noncompliance" and denial of expansion plans to pressure bank defendants into settling "fair lending" cases, while scaring other banks into lending in low-income minority areas where the banks aren't located. . . .

• Pressuring banks to fund HUD's new $7 billion Neighborhood Stabilization Program to earn CRA credits under a new "community development" test.

And it is not just banks. The major bond rating agencies are still giving subprime mortgage backed securities AAA ratings. This is just pure fraud being driven by government policy. People should be in jail over this. But that is not the concern of our government when it comes to the bond rating agencies. They are only being punished when they threaten to downgrade U.S. government debt:

. . . when S&P finally downgraded the US one notch in August 2011, the SEC and Justice Department announced that S&P was under investigation, just two weeks later.

Egan-Jones, a smaller rating agency, has been even more aggressive, downgrading the US credit rating three times in 18 months. And while the federal government may not have imposed Diocletian’s death penalty, they are just as willing to squash dissent.

In a country that churns out thousands of pages of new regulations each week, it’s easy to find a reason to go after someone. As you read this letter, in fact, you are probably in violation of at least a dozen regulatory offenses.

In the case of Egan-Jones, the SEC brought administrative action against the agency within two weeks of their second downgrade. And a few days ago, the case was settled.

I’m sure you have already guessed the ending: Egan-Jones is banned from for the next 18 months from rating US government debt. They’ve effectively been silenced from telling the truth. . . .

We are being set up by the left for our next massive economic meltdown. This is beyond travesty.





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Monday, January 28, 2013

Seventy Five Minutes of Krauthammer

Perhaps our most insightful pundit on the right, Charles Krauthammer, recently gave a long talk at the NRO, recorded by CSPAN, on modern liberalism and a host of other topics. It is great to hear him speak in longer than a 1 to 2 minute soundbyte on Special Report. Unfortunately his talk cannot be embeded. You can find it here

His points paraphrased:

- The 2008 election reflected the desire of America to withdraw from the world stage, both as a function of economics and national will. The problem is that while we can freely ignore our enemies, they will not ignore us.

- Obama wants us to emulate European social democratic nations, with a much reduced military and far more spending on social welfare. Europe was able to do this after WWII because they were protected by the U.S. military. We do not have that option. If we reduce our military, we create a power vacuum.

- The end result of Obama's policies will be unmistakably negative for our country, and because of that, we will see a return to conservatism.

- 2010 was a pure ideological election on the relationship between citizen and state - between the big government leftism versus small government conservatism. That is why it was a wave election. The 2012 election was not a campaign based on ideology. Romney eschewed the ideological arguments and tried to run just on the state of the economy. That is why he lost.

- "Romney spoke conservatism as a second language."

- Krauthammer was once a communist. It only lasted a weekend during college, but it was "one hell of a weekend."

- Republicans should make no suicidal charges during the next two years. We can't govern from the House. We can and should block, as well as make small advances.

- Obama is going to use the regulatory bureaucracy to go around Congress because they would never approve his radical agenda. Moreover, some of Obama's executive orders have been lawless. The House should highlight these facts through hearings.

- Conservatism is not dead, and the Democratic theories of demographic Republican decline are not believable. The one troubling spot is that the Republicans have lost a natural constituency in Hispanics. We need to neutralize the immigration issue. Step one, stop illegals crossing our border by building a fence just like the Israelis did to stop the violence of the Second Intafada. Step two, then grant limited amnesty with a path to naturalization.

- Single women, the youth, and urban dwellers are natural liberal constituencies. So what. Conservatives have larger natural constituencies.

- Is our society devolving? The rise in births to unmarried women under 30 is troubling, but on the flip side, there has been a huge decrease in crime. We are in the midst of adapting to new social relationships that inevitably work themselves out in the end.

- Krauthammer, once a speech writer for Walter Mondale, moved to the right in the 1980's for two reasons. On foreign policy, the left became incredibly irresponsible, advocating such things as a nuclear freeze. On social policy, Krauthammer came to the realization that the social policies of the left were doing great damage to the constituencies they were put in place to help.

- A crime of American liberalism is consigning inner city children to a life of desperation because of the influence of teachers' unions. It is failing for lack of competition. There are a host of intractable problems troubling the inner city youths, but changing public education is simple and key.

- Affirmative action actually hurts more than it helps. It takes away the life chances of a large number of Americans by setting them up for failure.

- It is improper to call Obama a "socialist." Socialism is too broad a term. Obama is not a socialist in the totalitarian sense. He is in the ilk of a social Democrat in the post-WWII European sense.







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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Milwaukee County Sheriff - "Simply Calling 911 & Waiting Is No Longer Your Best Option"

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. has released a public safety announcement calling on citizens in his community to be armed, trained and responsible for their own safety until police arrive. You can hear the 30 second ad here. The text:

I am Sheriff David Clarke and I want to talk to you about something personal - your safety. It's no longer a spectator sport. I need you in the game. But are you ready?

With officers laid off and furloughed, simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you could fight back.

But are you prepared? Consider taking a Certified Safety Course in the handling of fire arms so that you could defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family.

We're partners now. Can I count on you.

The Sheriff is pretty clearly getting in a dig at budget cuts to his department. Regardless, he could be manned at 100% and his advice would still be wholly valid. Just remember, it took police 20 minutes to make it to Sandy Hook after they were first called about a shooting. They got there in time to clean up after the massacre.

Police will always respond minutes or more after an incident has occurred. During those first critical minutes, the only thing protecting you and your family is you.

And that is Clarke's justification for the ad:

"People are responsible to play a role in their own safety, with the help of law enforcement," Clarke said. "I'm here to do my part, but we have fewer and fewer resources. We're not omnipresent, and we have to stop giving people that impression."

"After sitting down and thinking about this, I'm thinking `Hey, I've got an untapped reserve over here, and it's the public,"' Clarke said.

It's a bit sad that Clarke only came to these obvious conclusions after budget cuts, but better late than never. Not surprisingly, the Sheriff's ad has generated howls from the left, with the most pointed criticism coming from Milwaukee's Democrat Mayor, Tom Barrett. "Apparently Sheriff David Clarke is auditioning for the next Dirty Harry movie."

Obviously Barrett's a horse's ass, but his response is telling. Is there any doubt that virtually everyone on the left who thinks of armed private citizens thinks of Dirty Harry or something in a similar vein? The left hates what they can't control - and there is little more out of their control than an armed citizen.







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In Czechoslovakia, Beer Is Cheaper Than Water



Throughout Medieval Europe, people didn't drink water unless they had no other option - there was too great a chance of it being polluted. Instead, they drank beer, wine, or mead with every meal. That's because the fermentation process kills off all harmful bacteria. And in at least one part of Europe, that practice still holds true - Czechoslovakia, where their national beer is the world's finest pilsner, Pilsner Urquell. If you have never had it before, I suggest you treat yourself.

Czechs apparently drink their Pilsner Urquell in such quantity that, based on economies of scale, it is cheaper to buy a Pilsner Urquell in Czechoslovakia than it is to get bottled water. This from Fox News:

In most restaurants and taverns across the Czech Republic, a mug of beer is, literally, cheaper than water. The country's health minister wants to change that as he tries to put Czechs on a lower-hops diet.

It won't be easy. Here in the birthplace of pilsner, beer is known as "liquid bread." Czechs drink an average of 37 gallons of the stuff per person per year, the highest per capita consumption in the world and more than double U.S. levels.

Pub patrons go through the sudsy amber liquid so fast that the nation's largest brewer, SABMiller unit Plzensky Prazdroj, maker of famed Pilsner Urquell, delivers beer with the kind of tank trucks used to haul gasoline, and pumps it into bars' storage vats. . . .

"Beer is like mother's milk for adults," said Marek Gollner, a 36-year-old computer programmer and regular customer at the U Zelenku pub in the Prague suburb of Zbraslav. . . .

"Beer is really widespread, with very deep roots…It's a well-anchored, important part of everyday life," said Jiri Vinopal, director of the Czech Academy of Sciences' Public Opinion Research Center. "It's always been that way. Since the Middle Ages people here have made beer their primary drink." . . .

For at least a thousand years, beer has been a staple in the Czech lands, and the country's native hops are renowned for being aromatic and bitter. St. Wenceslas, a martyred 10th-century Czech nobleman [and the subject of the Christmas carol, Good Kin Wenceslas], is a patron saint of brewing and malting, in addition to being the patron saint of the nation.

I doubt the Health Minister in Czechoslovakia is going to be winning any popularity contests. At any rate, Czechoslovakia is now on my bucket list of places to go before I leave this mortal coil. The thought of spending a week or so quaffing down dirt cheap Pilsner Urquell sounds like it would be well worth the effort.







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Friday, January 25, 2013

Appeals Court Holds Obama Recess Appointments To NLRB Unconstitutional

Finally, one of Obama's many overreaches has been smacked down - and this one is important. A three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has unanimously held that Obama's recess appointments of radical pro-union individuals to the NLRB, made last year while the Senate was still in pro forma session. are unconstitutional. This means that the decisions of the NLRB made during the past year are invalid. Further, it means that the NLRB is down to one lawful member. The NLRB requires a quorum of at least three members to issue decisions. Thus, it is currently shut down. It really needs to stay that way for the next four years.

This from the AP:

. . . The unanimous decision is an embarrassing setback for the president, who made the appointments after Senate Republicans spent months blocking his choices for an agency they contended was biased in favor of unions.

The ruling also throws into question Obama's recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray's appointment, also made under the recess circumstance, has been challenged in a separate case.

Obama claims he acted properly in the case of the NLRB appointments because the Senate was away for the holidays on a 20-day recess. But the three-judge panel ruled that the Senate technically stayed in session when it was gaveled in and out every few days for so-called "pro forma" sessions.

GOP lawmakers used the tactic — as Democrats have in the past as well — to specifically to prevent the president from using his recess power. GOP lawmakers contend the labor board has been too pro-union in its decisions. They had also vigorously opposed the nomination of Cordray.

The Obama administration is expected to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, . . .

The Appeals Court reached the correct decision on the law. As to what the Supreme Court will do, I have no faith the John Roberts will decide based on the law rather than politics. We will have to wait and see what happens.





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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Orwellian Speech Codes & Cultural Marxism

I recently read an anti-harassment policy in place at an ivory tower institution across the pond. It is hardly unique - there are countless such policies in place at institutions on this side of the pond.

By its terms, the anti-harassment policy defines “harassment" as "unwanted conduct" touching upon to a "relevant protected characteristic, which has the . . . effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual." There is a laundry list of "protected characteristics," essentially anything to do with a favored victim class of the left. The list includes race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, gender reassignment and gay marriage.

Amazingly, the standard for determining harassment is a subjective one: "It is not the intention of the harasser, but the conduct itself and the impact on the recipient(s) that determine what constitutes bullying and harassment." Thus it doesn't matter how a reasonable person would respond to certain speech or conduct, nor does it matter whether the speech was non-discriminatory and legitimate. Driving that point home, the policy does not contain an exemption for expressing facts nor opinions grounded on fact.

Because of the subjective standard and lack of any exemptions, this is not a policy designed to reasonably protect against harassment or actual discrimination. It is a wholly unreasonable weapon to be used by those pursuing a left wing agenda to stifle any speech they don't like. It is cultural marxism, where any criticism of a victim class or a person in a victim class, no matter how justified by fact, is in effect criminalized and subject to official sanction by the institution. There are countless examples of such policies being used to punish legitimate speech (see here, here and here)

To put it into perspective, what would happen if I said that FBI crime statistics show that half of all homicides in the U.S. where the criminal is identified have been committed by black men, even though blacks as a whole represent only 13% of the population. And what if I further inferred that this is evidence that the culture of lower socio-economic blacks is severely violent and dysfuntional. Or what if I pointed out that in the UK, most of the gang rapes are committed by Muslim men whose religion (or at least certain sects, such as Wahhabi and Deobandi) sanctions the rape of non-Muslim women and casts them as third class citizens. Thus there is a real problem with Islamic religion and "civilized society" as we in the Western World define that term.

Nothing that I have said in the paragraph above is in any way discriminatory. My merely stating those truths does not mean that I believe in the inherent inferiority of blacks or Muslim culture. And the fact that a black or a Muslim or a person of the left may not want to hear those truths does not mean that raising them is unreasonable (which should always be the baseline standard for harassment). Those truths are legitimate societal problems that at some point need to be faced. Yet I would probably be savaged and brought up on harassment charges were I employed by an institution with a pc speech code. Should I be?

Leaving aside the First Amendment which is peculiar to the U.S., in any institution where the standard for official sanction is "reasonable cause," the argument must be that there is an implied right to speak fact and opinion with an objective basis in fact as a complete defense to charges of harassment or discrimination. If that standard applies, then - and only then - will such anti-harassment policies as the ones I've described begin to come close to their purported purpose - to protect employees from actual harassment and discrimination. Otherwise, such codes, with their subjective standards, are merely a political and cultural weapon to force new left wing moral absolutes on employees.

Update: An interesting exchange on O'Reilly last night, where left of center Kirsten Powers that the left is less tolerant of any dissenting views. Another guest on the show, "Kate Obenshain, agreed with Powers, saying that when conservatives on college campuses openly disagree with liberal orthodoxy, they are charged with “violating the campus speech codes.”





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The Military As A Left Wing Laboratory For Social Experiments

Our military has one mission - win on the battlefield.

But that mission has become secondary for the Obama administration. As Obama said the other day, we now have "peace in our time." Let us hope that line, with its historic connotations, is not prophetic.

For the Obama administration, the military, or at least what will remain of it in four years, has become the proving grounds for his favored political experiments. In the past four years, we have seen the Obama administration, without hearings or studies as to the impact on readiness, open up the military to openly gay soldiers and force the Navy to become our nation's largest consumer of green fuels at astronomical cost. And now, today:

Senior defense officials say Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is removing the military's ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war.

The groundbreaking move recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff overturns a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units. Panetta's decision gives the military services until January 2016 to seek special exceptions if they believe any positions must remain closed to women.

A senior military official says the services will develop plans for allowing women to seek the combat positions. Some jobs may open as soon as this year. Assessments for others, such as special operations forces, including Navy SEALS and the Army's Delta Force, may take longer.

The official said the military chiefs must report back to Panetta with their initial implementation plans by May 15. The announcement on Panetta's decision is not expected until Thursday, so the official spoke on condition of anonymity.

Panetta's move expands the Pentagon's action nearly a year ago to open about 14,500 combat positions to women, nearly all of them in the Army. This decision could open more than 230,000 jobs, many in Army and Marine infantry units, to women.

As a preface to what I am about to say, let me note that my daughter joined the military and served in a combat support unit. I am immensely proud of her.

I have no problem with women in the military in a support or combat service support role, where their mission is to support those in active combat, not to engage in it. I have no problems with women in combat roles for which they are physically as capable as men - i.e., pilots, both fixed and rotary wing, perhaps in select field artillery units where physical strength and stamina are not required in large measure. I have no idea about tanks. I cannot see them every being allowed in infantry units, either conventional or special ops. Having served in the infantry and commanded a light infantry company, I can tell you without doubt that it is a physically grueling lifestyle beyond the imagining of most people. It is one that requires not merely strength and incredible stamina, but physical resilience to be able to maintain such rigors on a daily basis, month in and month out.

This from JD Johannes accurately captures my point:

Marine Officer Katie Petronio wrote abut the struggle of physical reslience during her deployment to Afghanistan commanding a Combat Engineering platoon in Afghanistan.

"By the fifth month into the deployment, I had muscle atrophy in my thighs that was causing me to constantly trip and my legs to buckle with the slightest grade change. My agility during firefights and mobility on and off vehicles and perimeter walls was seriously hindering my response time and overall capability. It was evident that stress and muscular deterioration was affecting everyone regardless of gender; however, the rate of my deterioration was noticeably faster than that of male Marines..."

Her rate of deterioration was faster because she only produced a fraction of the muscle repairing testosterone of the male Marines. Petronio, who was a varsity athlete in college and "benching 145 pounds when I graduated [college] in 2007" was falling apart at the fifth month of her deployment. Army units deployed for 12 months until recently.

Many elite female athletes can outperform male soldiers when the women have adequate rest, recovery time and nutrition--but rest, recovery and proper nutrition are in short supply at Combat Outpost Zerok. Combat is not like sports season where you only have one or two games a week for three months, or training for one or two big events a year. It is every day for 365 days, then a period of recovery before resuming pre-deployment training and then another 365 days.

This is not a decision being driven my military necessity. Nor is it a decision being driven with effectiveness of the military in mind. This is purely a political decision - one that will cost our nation in the long run, as we simultaneously defund our military and change it into a laboratory for left wing social experiments.







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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Left Wing Intellectual Dishonesty - A Case Study

The premise from Mother Jones columnist Kevin Drum:

Government spending is is down under Obama

His argument:



Republicans like to say we have a spending problem, not a taxing problem, but the evidence doesn't back that up. Total government spending didn't go up much during the Clinton era, and it's actually declined during the Obama era. In the last two decades, it's only gone up significantly during the Bush era, the same era in which taxes were cut dramatically.

What we have isn't a spending problem. That's under control. What we have is a problem with Republicans not wanting to pay the bills they themselves were largely responsible for running up.

The Canard:

The above graph is based not merely on federal spending, but also on spending by state and local governments that have to live within their means. And the reason their numbers are low enough to bring down the total is because our economy has been on life support for five years. This is kind of like a kid who gets a failing grade in math trying to excuse his failure by pointing out that the school as a whole posted a B average.

Moreover, whoever built this graph chose to use per capita spending in order to show the lowest possible numbers.

The actual numbers:

Year. . . . . Fed Spending . . . .Increase to Deficit

2007. . . . . 2.781 Trillion . . .0.174 Trillion

2008. . . . . 2.982 Trillion . . .0.487 Trillion

2009. . . . . 3.517 Trillion . . .1.484 Trillion

1010. . . . . 3.456 Trillion . . .1.344 Trillion

2011. . . . . 3.603 Trillion . . .1.322 Trillion

2012. . . . . 3.795 Trillion . . .1.128 Trillion

So we have a federal government that has increased spending by over a trillion dollars since 2007 and that has added over a trillion dollars to the deficit each year under Obama. He is spending us into oblivion, and yet, the left is actually trying to portray Obama as an effective steward of our economy by using numbers that are so deceptive as to amount to a grotesque lie. This is why we can't argue with these bastards. They must be destroyed and driven from the public square.

Sources: (OMB, Heritage Foundation)





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Rand Paul To Hillary Clinton: You Should Have Been Fired Over Benghazi

Hillary Clinton is finally appearing before Congress to answer questions on Benghazi. This in the wake of a State Dept. "investigation" that was an utter whitewash, finding that no one in the State Dept., from Hillary on down, bore culpability for the criminally reckless decisions that led to the death of our Ambassador in Libya and three other Americans. Clinton, in her opening statement, is magnanimously taking "full responsibility" for the Benghazi scandal, but defending against any culpability on the grounds that she had no idea what was going on. Kudo's to Rand Paul for hitting the nail on the head in his response to Clinton's testimony:







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"It's A Business We Can Live On" - Fraud, Cronyism & The Green Energy Scam

From WaPo:

Inside a midnight-blue BMW, a Sicilian entrepreneur delivered his pitch to the accused mafia boss. A new business was blowing into Italy that could spin wind and sunlight into gold, ensuring the future of the Earth as well as the Cosa Nostra: renewable energy.

“Uncle Vincenzo,” implored the businessman, Angelo Salvatore, using a term of affection for the alleged head of Sicily’s Gimbellina crime family, 79-year-old Vincenzo Funari. According to a transcript of their wiretapped conversation, Salvatore continued, “for the love of our sons, renewable energy is important. . . . it’s a business we can live on.”

And for quite awhile, Italian prosecutors say, they did. In an unfolding plot that is part “The Sopranos,” part “An Inconvenient Truth,” authorities swept across Sicily last month in the latest wave of sting operations revealing years of deep infiltration into the renewable energy sector by Italy’s rapidly modernizing crime families.

The still-emerging links of the mafia to the once-booming wind and solar sector here are raising fresh questions about the use of government subsidies to fuel a shift toward cleaner energies, with critics claiming huge state incentives created excessive profits for companies and a market bubble ripe for fraud. China-based Suntech, the world’s largest solar panel maker, last month said it would need to restate more than two years of financial results because of allegedly fake capital put up to finance new plants in Italy. The discoveries here also follow so-called “eco-corruption” cases in Spain, where a number of companies stand accused of illegally tapping state aid.

This story is not unique to Europe of today. It is merely an example of a universal, historical truth - combine government mandates with government subsidies and what you get is a prescription for the worst of fraud, crony capitalism and abuse, all at taxpayer expense.

Solyndra, now almost forgotten by the public, was a poster child for such abuses under Obama. It combined an untenable decision to fund an investment a business that could not survive in the free market, at least some of the private owners had ties to the Obama administration, and the administration violated the law when they renegotiated the contract to provide that any private investors would stand ahead of the government in the event of a bankruptcy. Solyndra was the very small tip of the iceberg.

Earlier in the month, Powerline posted a complaint, filed in Federal Court, that gives a birds eye view of cronyism, corruption and fraud in a government program to provide subsidized loans to corporations involved in green energy:

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of XP Vehicles, Inc. and Limnia, Inc., companies that competed for Department of Energy loans under a Congressionally-authorized program. The owners of XP eventually realized that there was no real competition, and that the whole Department of Energy program was a scam intended to funnel money to Obama and Democratic Party campaign contributors and political allies. They allege in addition that DOE misappropriated proprietary technology that they submitted in connection with their loan applications, and gave that technology to Obama administration cronies.

Go to Powerline and read the highlighted portions of the Complaint. It makes for a fascinating read.







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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Assault Weapons & Homicide By The Numbers

According to the FBI Crime Statistics for 2011, there were 12, 664 homicides. Of those:

There were 6,220 homicides (49%)  by

Handgun

There were 1,694 homicides (13%) by


Knife

There were 728 homicides (6%) by


Beating with hands and feat

There were 496 homicides (4%) by



Blunt object



There were 356 homicides (2.81%) by

Shotgun

And finally there were 323 homicides (2.55%) by
\

Rifles

And that would be all rifles, of which



 "assault weapons" are a small subset 


So somebody explain to me again how "assault rifles" pose a unique threat to our safety and need to be banned?

For many of the left advocating a ban on "assault weapons," they are not looking at facts, they are riding on pure emotion from Sandy Hook and "scary images" of such weapons from the uber violent movies produced by Hollywood. For others, with clearer eyes amd more sinister motives, the "assault weapons" ban is simply an opportunity to chip away at the 2nd Amendment.






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Methodist Church's CSGV's Outrageous Attack on Rep. John Barrow

The Coalition To Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), has targeted six time Ga Democratic Congressman John Barrow in an attack ad. Collateral damage from the attack ad are integrity, honesty and context.

CSGV's ad is below. They use some very selectively edited footage from one of Barrow's prior campaign ads on the 2nd Amendment, and they use it to tie him to Sandy Hook.



Now for the bits they left out. This is what Barrow actually had to say in his campaign ad:



When CSGV was asked about their editing, their response was to defend it:

"We're not here to run campaign ads for John Barrow. We're not his PR team," group spokesman Ladd Everitt told FoxNews.com.

Asked about the omission of the line about stopping a lynching, Everitt said he was "unable to confirm" Barrow's claim about his grandfather. [Anyone want to bet that CSGV did not even think about confirming the 'claim' before releasing the ad?]

"I think most Americans would understand that if you look at the history of lynchings ... there were probably precious few instances where white men with guns prevented lynchings," he said. [Note to Everitt, the NAACP was started by three white Republicans in particular because of their disgust at the lynching of blacks] Everitt added that the point was to highlight Barrow's ties to the NRA and resistance to new calls for gun control.

"We didn't have time to run his entire campaign ad," he said.

This is outrageous.

CSGV is a low rent, slimy act. But here's the real kicker. Its not that the CSGV is quite literally at war with the 2nd Amendment and has advocated disarming all but the military and police. And its not that such a radical organization would use dishonest and deceptive tactics, essentially making the claim that if you advocate gun ownership, you are a proximate cause of the Sandy Hook massacre. One expects that from the left. But the kicker is that CSGV is a creation of the Methodist Church. Moreover, many of its 48 member organizations comprising the "coalition" are religious organizations. For religious organizations to be using these tactics is just appalling.

If you want to register your dissatisfaction with CSGV's parent organization, the UMC's General Board of Church and Society, their president is Bishop Robert Hoshibata. The phone number to their DC office is 202.488.5600. Or feel free to use their online comment form.





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Thursday, January 17, 2013

The 2nd Amednment & The Problems Of Doctors Assessing Likelihood of Violence

I blogged below that the most troublesome aspect of Obama's new anti-gun push was the interplay between doctors' assessments of mental illness and 2nd Amendment Rights. A recent story by NPR shows how difficult it is for the mental health community to assess the likelihood of future violence. NPR does so in the context of addressing a recently enacted NY law that "says mental health professionals must report people they consider likely to do harm. It also gives law enforcement officials the power to take guns from these people " This from NPR:

States aren't likely to prevent many shootings by requiring mental health professionals to report potentially violent patients, psychiatrists and psychologists say.

The approach is part of a gun control law passed in New York yesterday in response to the Newtown, Conn., shooting a month ago. But it's unlikely to work because assessing the risk of violent behavior is difficult, error-prone and not something most mental health professionals are trained to do it, say specialists who deal with violence among the mentally ill.

"We're not likely to catch very many potentially violent people" with laws like the one in New York, says Barry Rosenfeld, a professor of psychology at Fordham University in The Bronx. . . .

Such laws "cast a very large net that will probably restrict a lot of people's behavior unnecessarily," Rosenfeld says. "Maybe we'll prevent an incident or two," he says. . . .

One of the biggest problems with laws like the one in New York is that it asks all mental health professionals to make assessments that are difficult for even those with years of special training, says Rosenfeld.

Rosenfeld says when he is called in to assess a person's risk of violence, "I typically have the benefit of a lengthy face-to-face interview, records on their criminal and mental health history, a tremendous amount of information at my disposal that the typical mental health professional on the fly simply doesn't have."

And even highly trained professionals with lots of information often get it wrong, research shows.

A study of experienced psychiatrists at a major urban psychiatric facility found that they were wrong about which patients would become violent about 30 percent of the time.

That's a much higher error rate than with most medical tests, says Alan Teo, a psychiatrist at the University of Michigan and an author of the study.

One reason even experienced psychiatrists are often wrong is that there are only a few clear signs that a person with a mental illness is likely to act violently, says Steven Hoge, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. These include a history of violence and a current threat to commit violence.

Without either of these, Hoge says, "an accurate assessment of the likelihood of future violence is virtually impossible."

"The biggest risk for gun violence is possession of a gun," says Hoge. "And there's no evidence that the mentally ill possess guns or commit gun violence at any greater rate than the normal population."

Obviously, using "mental illness" as a reason for denying 2nd Amendment rights is far more problematic than many of us non-shrinks initially thought.





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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Obama's Gun Control Prescription


First, the Drudge summary:

Obama using gun issue to advance health law...
Presses doctors to ask patients about guns in home...
'Health care providers' to offer gun safety tips...
At least $4.5 billion in new spending...
Ignores violent movies, video games...


WAR ON CRAZY: OBAMA DEPUTIZES DOCTORS


That's a pithy summary of the most troublesome portion of Obama's plan. Pitched to the nation by exploiting children as pawns, Obama's plan includes just one thing that might have prevented the Sandy Hook massacre: $150 million to “put up to 1,000 new school resource officers and school counselors on the job.” As I understand the term "school resource officer," that refers to armed law enforcement officers assigned directly to a school. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't that the NRA solution that the far left spent the past few weeks savaging?

Much of what is on Obama's wish list has nothing to do with Sandy Hook and everything to do with the laundry list of gun control proposals the far left has been advocating for years. At the top of his list, a new "assault weapons ban" and a limit on magazine capacity to ten rounds. Neither has a snowball's chance in hell of passage in Congress and, indeed, will likely never see a vote.

Obama's other legislative proposals come with a price tag. This from the Weekly Standard:

• $4 billion for the president’s proposal “to help keep 15,000 cops on the streets in cities and towns across the country.” (That is roughly $266,000 per police officer.)

• $20 million to “give states stronger incentives to make [relevant] data available [for background checks] … “$50 million for this purpose in FY2014”

• “$14 million to help train 14,000 more police officers and other public and private personnel to respond to active shooter situations.”

• “$10 million for the Centers for Disease Control to conduct further research, including investigating the relationship between video games, media images, and violence.”

• $20 million to expand the National Violent Death Reporting System.

• $150 million to “put up to 1,000 new school resource officers and school counselors on the job.”

• “$30 million of one-time grants to states to help their school districts develop and implement emergency management plans.”

• $50 million to help 8,000 schools “create safer and more nurturing school climates.”

• $15 million to “provide “Mental Health First Aid” training for teachers.”

• $40 million for school districts to “work with law enforcement, mental health agencies, and other local organizations to assure students with mental health issues or other behavioral issues are referred to the services they need.”

• $25 million for state-based strategies that support “young people ages 16 to 25 with mental health or substance abuse issues.”

• $25 million to “offer students mental health services for trauma or anxiety, conflict resolution programs, and other school-based violence prevention strategies.”

• $50 million to “train social workers, counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals.”

I can't see much, if any of that legislation, getting passed, at least as itemized by Obama. On the two issues on which left and right have some common ground, background checks and mental health, there is still a great deal of legitimate mistrust that the left will try to shoehorn these into a backdoor means of improperly denying people their 2nd Amendment rights.

As to the mental health issue, the core problem is that our laws make it difficult if not impossible to institutionalize someone who could well turn violent. Nothing in these proposals addresses that problem. Moreover, all mental illness is not equal. Step one would be to identify which mental health issues are so severe as to make an individual dangerous to himself or others, thus establishing a standard upon which to allow or deny a person their 2nd Amendment right. A related issue needs to be made as to when any such ban should be lifted after an individual has successfully been treated. Without any of those issues clearly addressed, the Obama solution of throwing hundreds of millions at mental health does nothing to address Sandy Hook or Second Amemdment concerns.

As to Obama's twenty-three Executive Orders, conservatives can now exhale for the most part. The majority of the Orders are nothing more than Obama telling government agencies to do the jobs that they are tasked by law to do - a point The Everlasting Phelps makes with good humor. The majority of the Orders do nothing other than give the appearance of motion.

That said, the most troubling of the Orders were identified in the Drudge headline at the top of the page, linking to a post by The Weekly Standard:

According to a background briefer provided by the White House, President Barack Obama is asking doctors to help deal with guns. Here's the relevant passage:

PRESERVE THE RIGHTS OF HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS TO PROTECT THEIR PATIENTS AND COMMUNITIES FROM GUN VIOLENCE: We should never ask doctors and other health care providers to turn a blind eye to the risks posed by guns in the wrong hands.

 Clarify that no federal law prevents health care providers from warning law enforcement authorities about threats of violence: Doctors and other mental health professionals play an important role in protecting the safety of their patients and the broader community by reporting direct and credible threats of violence to the authorities. But there is public confusion about whether federal law prohibits such reports about threats of violence. The Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits these reports in any way.

 Protect the rights of health care providers to talk to their patients about gun safety: Doctors and other health care providers also need to be able to ask about firearms in their patients’ homes and safe storage of those firearms, especially if their patients show signs of certain mental illnesses or if they have a young child or mentally ill family member at home. Some have incorrectly claimed that language in the Affordable Care Act prohibits doctors from asking their patients about guns and gun safety. Medical groups also continue to fight against state laws attempting to ban doctors from asking these questions. The Administration will issue guidance clarifying that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit or otherwise regulate communication between doctors and patients, including about firearms.

There are real problems with doctors insinuating themselves into what decisions a person makes regarding guns, problems multiplied exponentially at the thought of doctors who may not be specialists in mental health reporting on people for violent tendencies. That sets up a truly adversarial relationship between patient and doctor, making the doctor an agent of the state.

This may indeed be more insidious than even appears at first blush. This from a commentor at Legal Insurrection suggests a plausible scenario that is troubling indeed:

What these do is utilize the medical/mental health health records (that were created by Obamacare) as the new database to determine the criteria for gun permits. What people miss, is that this isn’t just about your doctor asking if you own a gun. This is about you, your spouse, or your child(ren) telling a doctor, therapist, or school psychologist that they feel depressed, anxious, suicidal, fearful, or that they have a condition that requires psychiatric medication. Once you have been treated and given your psych meds, your doctor/therapist writes notes. These notes are what are submitted to insurance companies for payment. Medicaid already has a system set up to screen notes & treatment plans to determine if they will pay and cover future treatment. Once these agencies have open access to each others database (executive order #1) this will be used to determine if you are qualified to have a gun permit or to pass a background check. This and #4 are the most concerning of these orders. . . .

This is one that requires far greater analysis from 2nd Amendment supporters,

So what was missing from Obama's plan?

One, missing was any suggestion to expand on "gun free zone" legislation. That was smart on the part of Obama. Gun free zones only insure that when a bad guy with a gun shows up, the law abiding will be disarmed. That was perhaps the central lesson of Sandy Hook. Obama would have been savaged if he had tried to expand on gun free zones.

Two, missing from Obama's plan was any discussion of the role of Hollywood and violent video games in promoting violence in our society. Could that have been a simple oversight?

Lastly missing, since this was a global solution proposed by Obama to gun violence, was any sort of recognition that much of the violence in our country is, one, gang related, and two, most often carried out by an identifiable subset of society. I was waiting for Obama to tell us that FBI statistics show that over 50% of our nation's homicides are carried out by blacks who make up just over 13% of the population. Without that, this was not a serious attempt to address the underlying causes of gun violence, it was a far left offensive on our 2nd Amendment rights.

At any rate, this dog and pony show over the past month was a huge build-up to, mostly, a molehill. There may be some movement on background checks if the left acts in good faith and doesn't try to create yet another back door to gun control. The interplay between healthcare providers and 2nd Amendment rights deserves a colonoscopic level of scrutiny. That said, the real issues of Sandy Hook, a broken mental healthcare system for the seriously mentally ill, gun free zones and the lack of a good guy with a gun at the point of the crime, those were ignored by Obama.

Update: Mice Deb has a great roll-up of reaction to Obama's gun control proposals.







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