Gorsuch tells Feinstein that “Heller” is the “law of the land”

Pressed on Heller, Gorsuch says it’s “the law of the land”

The death of Antonin Scalia has, I think, been the ramrod of Democrat’s new boldness on getting more anti-gun legislation.  If you read the NRA daily alerts you will see that liberal Democrats in state legislatures are outdoing themselves trying to pass new draconian restrictions on citizens’ right under the 2nd Amendment.

The rule in Heller is that the 2nd Amendment protects the right to keep and bear all guns that are in common use. At least that, that is.  Nevertheless, Maryland has banned all AR-15 rifles, and a federal circuit court has upheld that ban.  This is a plain violation of the 2nd amendment as it was interpreted in the Supreme Court’s Heller decision which was written by Scalia. The AR-15 is the most popular rifle in America. So popular that more AR-15 rifles are legally sold to American gun enthusiasts in recent years than the number of Ford F150s, the best selling vehicle in America.

More and more states are re-writing their hunting regulations to allow AR-15 rifles to be used in hunting big game. Pennsylvania is the latest about to do so, as the contiguous state of Maryland makes it a crime to even touch one.

So I think it’s a very good sign that Neil Gorsuch set Dianne Feinstein right on the subject of Heller.

I do have one slight nitpick, however. I’m not fond of crediting judges’ decsions as creating the “law of the land.” I believe the law of the land is the U.S. Constitution and cases such as Heller are correct interpretations of it. Otherwise, the “law of the land” is to be made by the people through their elected representatives, and the proper role of judges is to correctly interpret those laws and apply them in cases that come before the court.

Stare Decisis, the legal principle of determining points in litigation according to established precedent, is a similar concept as “law of the land”, but not quite the same thing.

Is the subprime auto-loan bubble about to burst?

This comes from Real Money:The Street:

Several data points to consider:

  • Losses for subprime auto loans, annualized, were 9.1% in January, up from from 8.5% in December and 7.9% in the first month of 2016, according to S&P. The rate is the worst since January 2010 and is being fueled by worsening recoveries after borrowers default, notes S&P.
  • More than six million U.S. consumers are at least 90 days late on their car loan repayments, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • The U.S. finished last year with about $1.2 trillion in outstanding auto loan debt, up 9% from the previous year and 13% higher than pre-crisis peak in 2005, in inflation-adjusted terms according to DOT data.

Everything I’ve read says it’s not as bad as the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008, but quite a lot of what I’ve read thinks this is something to be concerned about, especially as interest rates rise on variable rate loans. An ever increasing number of car loans are subprime loans made to buyers with poor credit scores. It’s safe to say that a fair number of buyers are getting car loans they cannot afford.

It’s not just new cars that are being sold to people who cannot afford them.  If you have a job of some sort you can probably walk into a Harley Davidson dealership and walk out with a brand new Harley Electra Glide Ultra Classic with no money down. You’d be financing $24,149 for 72 months (6 years) and assuming a monthly payment of $417.42.

At a local motorcycle dealership for several brands of Japanese and European motocycles I found proof that a lot of Harley buyers are biting off more than they can chew. This shop is not a Harley dealer and does not sell new Harleys.  It does, however, have an enormous stock of near-new Harleys that have been repossessed. Why, I wondered, does a shop that specializes in Ducati and Kawasaki motorcycles have so many low-mileage used Harleys in on its sales floor?

The answer I got upon inquiry was that this dealer has an arrangement with one or more banks that finance new Harleys, perhaps through arrangements with the motor company itself. OK, so why aren’t Harley dealers selling these repo-ed bikes? The best answer I could get was that they don’t want used bikes competing with their new bike sales, and they probably also don’t want to put on display such a glaring example of how many new Harley buyers are defaulting on their loans. The Ducati dealer with the bank arrangement has no less than 20 used Harley’s for sale at any one time, most of them with less than 1500 miles on them.

Cars are being sold to people who have no business buying a new car in much the same way as new Harleys. The number of years to finance a car used to 3, maybe 4. Today a new car loan can be for as much at 8 years in order to make the payment low enough for financailly stretched people to think they can afford to buy.

This is a bubble that has to burst sooner of later. Something that cannot go on forever, won’t. I don’t know what it will do to the auto financial lending sector of the economy but it sure seems that some heavy losses are going to be incurred. On the bright side, there may some good deals to be had in low-mileage used cars. Just as there presently are deals in low mileage used Harleys.

Too bad I’m a Ducati guy.

How a tactical flashlight may be employed in self defense against a criminal attack

Surefire E2D LED Defender Ultra

Surefire E2D LED Defender Ultra

A tactical flashlight is a flashlight that uses 3-volt 123A lithium ion batteries or is a rechargeable flashlight capable of producing at least 300 lumens of light. Some can light the darkness with up to 600 lumens. A 100 watt light bulb produces 1500 lumens but it won’t seem as bright as a small 500 lumens flahslight emitted in a tight beam from a light emitting diode (LED). It’s called a tactical flashlight because when shined in the eyes of a criminal attacker in low light situations it will temporarily deprive the attacker of his nightvision, allowing you time to escape and/or present your lawfully carried concealed firearm for your defense. You should never stand your ground; you should move as you maneuver your response so that when the attacker’s vision returns you won’t be where he last saw you.

So what exactly happens when you shine brilliant white light in an attacker’s eyes? We animals of the mammalia Class of Taxonomic ranking have light-sensitive receptor proteins on the rods of our retina. It’s what enables us to see in low light, even somewhat in darkness. These proteins are a biological pigment called Rhodopsin. Our dogs or cats have more of it than we do and that’s why their night vision is so much better than ours. They have always needed it because they’re nocturnal. We are not nocturnal (we are diurnal, meaning we sleep at night) so we never needed as much. We needed some, however. Most caves aren’t equipped with steel security doors.

It is the character of Rhodopsin that gives us a tactical edge against a criminal if we have one of the modern LED tactical flashlights such as those made by Surefire or Streamlight. When Rhodopsin is exposed to light, it immediately photobleaches. In humans, it regenerates in about 30 minutes; after which the rods in our retina are fully sensitive again. But near total night blindness only lasts about 30 seconds. That’s gives you a very long time to find a way to effectively respond to a criminal’s attack by either fleeing, summoning help, and/or employing your preferred method of force in self defense.

A tactical flashlight and a cell phone are important tools for your self defense. The flashlight pictured at the top of this post puts out 600 lumens of blinding light, will project a narrow beam of light for an amazing distance, is 5.6 inches long, 1.125 inches diameter, weighs 4.2 ounces and has a run time of 2.25 hours. Notice the serrated edges surrounding the front housing of the light source. Also around the opposite end, the base. On mine these are very sharp, but I’ve never cut myself. You ususally don’t grab the flashlight is such a way for that to happen. The belt clip is a nice touch. This is the ultimate in tactical flashlights and it’s price of $265 reflects that. You don’t need one this expensive nor this powerful. You can find several for under $100 that will work just fine.

Paul Ryan from hero to villain; from liberator to spoiler

It wasn’t long ago that Paul Ryan was the wonder boy of Congress. People were saying he should be president. That’s probably why Mitt Romney chose Ryan as his running mate.  That didn’t work out but Ryan went on to become Speaker of the House. Since then Ryan has earned the nickname Paul Ryno. Now he seems to be setting himself up take the blame for a pending GOP disaster if Congress fails to repeal Obamacare and instead offers its voters no more than Obamacare lite, already being called Ryancare.

GOP voters, independents and even some Democrats want Obamacare repealed. It seemed that Ryan and the GOP once understood that. What happened? Washington politics, I suppose.

The thing about Obamacare is that “repeal” is the comfort word and “replace” is the spoiler. We can now see the truth of that with the mess that Ryan and the GOP are making with their promise of repeal, which is beginnng to look like they never meant it in the first place. This betrayal could cost the GOP its majority if some adults don’t step in and bring them back to their senses.

At American Greatness: Ryancare Will Destroy the Republican Majority

Failing to repeal Obamacare would be “the ultimate betrayal of the electorate.” That’s what Charles Krauthammer said just last month. He was right. Congressional Republicans have been defined by nothing so much as their opposition to Obamacare since 2009. That opposition has been the source of four successful elections that have seen Republicans gain 62 seats in the House, 12 seats in the Senate, and now control of the White House.

The Republican leadership thinks that their half-measures and clever branding are a sign of moderation and prudence, but they are courting disaster. They apparently learned nothing about the fury of scorned voters during the last election.

The issue is simple—perhaps too simple for Washington: people want Obamacare repealed. The fact is that whatever its shortcomings (and there were many), American health care was better before Obamacare than it is today. Prices were lower, deductibles were lower, and there were more and better choices for both insurance and care.

If Obamacare were gone it would be like a full recovery from cancer so you could get on with the business of a healthy life. It would become possible to contemplate doing things your cancer had made impossible. After Obamacare health insurance would be legal again. It would be affordable if the mandates and restrictions that existed before Obamacare were also repealed. Health savings accounts could be enacted that would enable people to better provide for their own health care. More choices would be available.

We are in danger of losing this opportunity because Paul Ryan and the GOP are hell bent on commiting political suicide.

My own GOP Senator, Cory Gardner of Colorado, made a political career out of his oppostion to Obamacare. Now he is one of the sell outs; it appears he no longer wants to just repeal it. The spoiler of “replace” has replaced clear thinking.

The preamble to the Constitution does not start with “We the Judges…”

A Government of Laws, Not Men

Roger Kimball:

I suspect that nearly all readers of American Greatness are familiar with John Adams’ famous statement about the rule of law in his Constitution for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, approved by the voters in 1780. “In the government of this commonwealth,” Adams wrote, “the legislative department shall never exercise the executive and judicial powers, or either of them: the executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them: the judicial shall never exercise the legislative and executive powers, or either of them: to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men.”

Adams memorably articulated a sentiment that had long been recognized as essential to the preservation of political liberty. Every part of his formulation is worth bearing in mind.

But at the present moment, it is Adams’ third admonition concerning the judiciary that compels our attention. Consider the actions by various district court judges in response to Donald Trump’s two executive orders seeking to ban travel to the United States from certain countries: Are they not instances of the judiciary seeking to exercise powers that, according to statute and the Constitution, belong to the executive branch?

The judges that issued restraining orders against President Trump’s travel orders are basing their rulings not on the law, but on the man. They would approve of the same executive order were it done by Barack Obama. They have sought to restrain not the order for it does not violate any law. It is the man, Donald Trump, they seek to restrain with their rulings. They do this on the narrow basis of their personal animus toward him. That sort of thought and action leads to the rule of men, not the rule of law. It threatens tyranny from the one branch of government the founders mistakenly thought would be the least dangerous to liberty.

Montesquieu was an influential force that guided the founders at the Constitutional convention in Philadelphia. It was he who first proposed the idea of separation of powers. The founders liked that idea and adopted it into our Constitution. They knew but perhaps did not fully appreciate the presicence of Montesquieu when he warned that, Universal experience has shown that every man who holds power tends to abuse it. He proceeds until he finds the limits.

Judges have enormous power. They, like any other, can and do abuse it. To claim a law has been violated solely on the basis of their personal animus toward the man who exercised lawful powers granted him by the U.S. Constitution and long-established legal authority is a vicious abuse of judicial power.

It is the judges who need to be restrained in this instance, not President Trump. The judges who made these rulings ought to be shown the limits of their powers. Once upon a time Judicial restraint was self imposed and came from the judges themselves. It now appears we can no longer rely on the personal integrity of the judges and that an outside force must be applied to restore the proper separation of powers that the U.S. Constitution demands and guarantees. The Congress and the President can do this. Together, these branches have the power to determine by statute the sort of cases Article III federal courts can hear and decide. If the judges will not limit their jurisdiction to deciding cases and controversies on the basis of the rule of law, the legislative and executive branches should step in to fix the mess they’ve made.

Leftist Judges Keep Trying to Revoke What I Learned in Law School

I believe with great certainty that my former law professor William Beaney (1918-2003) would be appalled at the two Federal judges who have issued restraining orders against President Trump’s travel orders. He’d be equally dismayed by the 3-judge panel from the 9th Circuit that upheld the first Judge and also by the judges on the 9th Circuit that just refused an en banc rehearing of the first judge’s restraint of Trump’s first executive order (the 2nd one has not been appealed yet).

I was in two of Professor’s Beaney’s classes at the Universtity of Denver in 1975.  The first was called Decision Process and the second was Constitutional Criminal Procedure. The first was about who makes legal decisions, how they are supposed to make decisions, and how the rest of us can find them, read them, understand them, and apply them in the practice of law. Criminal Procedure is a much deeper subject and a lot more demanding.

There are, however, a few key principles that are common to both and can be easily learned and remembered. Understanding these underlying principles is key to understanding all the rest.

The first principle is the difference between public policies on the one hand, and legal and judicial principles on the other. Judges pretty much own the ground on legal principles. It is on these principles that judges decide cases and controversies (C&C). That’s right in the U.S. Constitution. The C&C limit is supposed to keep judges from intruding on public policy because those are decisions given by the Constitution to the Executive and Legislative branches. These are the elected brances of government, often called the political branches.

Just as the U.S. House of Representatives has no authority to hear and decide divorce cases, breach of contract lawsuits, or any other sort of legal dispute, the Judicial branches have no authority to make public policy or to intrude on the political branches’ exclusive powers in that area.

Professor Beaney made it easy to understand all this. Judges do not have authority to decide political questions. Those issues are reserved for the political branches staffed by men and women duly elected by the people. Political questions cannot be answered by courts of law because they do not present a justiciable issue that a judge can decide.

All this simply recognizes that America was founded as a representative republic where the people are self governing in the sense that they elect politicians to represent them in the public policy making process.

Too many judges never learned these things or simply don’t like these principles and do not want to follow them. These are things our forefathers fought and died to achieve. Judges take an oath  to serve and defend the U.S. Constitution and the principles it demands before they are sworn in as judges. When they willingly ignore the fundamental ground rules others have struggled to bestow upon us, they breach their oath.

Judges who yearn to be in politics have options available. They can resign from the bench and run for political office.

A judge of the 9th Circuit asked for an en banc hearing (de novo hearing before all the judges) of the 9th Circuit order upholding the Judge in Washington State on Trump’s first executive order. An en banc hearing was denied. That decision is available for you to read here.

Five other judges on the 9th Circuit dissented from the court refusal to hold an en banc hearing. That dissent (scroll down to the second page of the order to find the dissent) explains correctly and succinctly how the judge in Washington State and the 3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit got everything wrong by ignoring settled Constitutional law and instead making a decision based solely on their personal, leftist political ideology.

If reading judicial opinions is not your thing, go to this story at Breitbart where much of Judge Bybee’s dissent is quoted.

If you read the opinion you’ll see Judge Bybee also expressed outrage at those who critiized the judges for exceeding their authority in rendering a political screed under the guise of a judicial ruling. Bybee is wrong on this. If judges don’t want to be held up to intense public scrutiny they have a ready remedy. They can stop acting so recklessly. They can start acting like judges. These are not rulings upon which reasonable people can disagree. These rulings are the product of unprincipled rogues.

See also, Seth Barrett TillmanJudges have extraordinary public power. They are supposed to be scrutinized, and that includes scrutiny by the wider public. The only legitimate question is whether the scrutiny is fair, not how “intense” it is. The First Amendment does not end at the courthouse door, nor do parties’ First Amendment rights end because they find themselves dragooned into litigation.

Unpaid Student Loans — An Obama Legacy

The Federal Government’s Student Loan Fraud

By taking over the student loan program, Obama in essence politicized it. Last year on the campaign hustings, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders repeatedly talked about making college “free.” That is, they want to socialize the costs, but privatize the benefits, of a college education. Still surprised people aren’t paying their loans?

This mindset is made worse by the fact that the federal government isn’t lending its own money; it’s lending taxpayers’ money. Politicians don’t care whether it’s paid back, just that they get a pat on the back for “doing something” about college costs.

The problem is, by subsidizing college with cheap loans, the government only drives the price of tuition higher. Colleges have hooked up to the government student-loan gravy train as never before, paying lavish salaries for do-nothing administrators and incompetent professors who in earlier, more-disciplined times would have been laughed out of the academy.

Parents who despair over the soaring cost of education should understand: As long as the government regulates and pays for education, the cost will only rise further. It’s time to remove government from higher education, before it wrecks another once-great institution.

By politicizing the student loan program Obama not only set in motion ever rising tuition costs [ultimately paid by taxpayers] but also ever dumber “studies” majors and worthless college degrees.

An example is the American studies major which in the 1970s was a rewarding endeavor that covered American history and American art and literature in depth.  It was basically a historical study of American politics and the history of American art and literature side by side. It was a mind-bending experience to learn the two disciplines together and to gain an understanding of the realtionship between them.

What is the connection between Jacksonian Democracy, Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalism Movement in American literature? How did the politics of the Jacksonian Era influence Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans?  The intertwining of politics and literature is obvious in Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.  So what was Twain trying to do with that story? What was he really saying about the antebellum South?  Is there an allegorical study in the relationship between Huck and Jim? If so, what is it? (Huck Finn was written in 1873).

Those are interesting questions, yes?

Today’s American studies students never hear about anything of the sort. If they read Huck Finn at all it will be so their “professor” can call Mark Twain a racist. American studies today is worthless crap that indoctrinates students to hate their own country. It was well on that road before Obama politicized the study of political history but he put his stamp on it and gave it a final pounding into the dirt.

Venezuela: Yes, we have no bananas — nor bread, nor diapers, nor toilet paper, nor anything else, so forget it, we’re socialists

The only problem with socialism is….shortages!
Venezuela has a bread shortage. The government has decided bakers are the problem.

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA
Facing a bread shortage that is spawning massive lines and souring the national mood, the Venezuelan government is responding this week by detaining bakers and seizing establishments.

In a press release, the National Superintendent for the Defense of Socioeconomic Rights said it had charged four people and temporarily seized two bakeries as the socialist administration accused bakers of being part of a broad “economic war” aimed at destabilizing the country.

In a statement, the government said the bakers had been selling underweight bread and were using price-regulated flour to illegally make specialty items, like sweet rolls and croissants.

The government said bakeries are only allowed to produce French bread and white loaves, or pan canilla, with government-imported flour. However, in a tweet on Thursday, price control czar William Contreras said only 90 percent of baked goods had to be price-controlled products.

Venezuela is a country that sits on massive oil reserves and has fertile soil in which almost anything will grow. The problem is, the only thing Venezuela grows is its government. The only thing it sells is socialist propaganda.

Clinton machine running out of gas?

It’s hard to imagine the Clinton gas bags running out but that is what may be on the verge. All the liberal media outlets, which are most media outlets, are eagerly promoting Chelsea Clinton stories   in a deserate attempt to promote her as the last best hope to carry the Clinton torch into the next generation of politics. Trouble is, Chelsea has so far shown almost none of the political skills that will be necdessary to pull it off. Her mother’s only political skill was to marry a man who was going places and then take charge and make her own capital out of his success. The former first daughter seems to lack the charisma to pull off anything similar.

The Last Gasps of the Clinton Dynasty

The Clinton family has bestrode American politics for a generation on the power of its vast network of activists and apparatchiks and donors and loyalist nonprofits. Once political machines are set in motion—once checks are flowing, galas are scheduled, the loyalists are hired—they are hard to wind down. And that means that, as we have said before, “there has to be a Clinton in the political arena.”

What we are now seeing are the last gasps of a vast political machine trying to keep its gears spinning despite every indication that it is time for a new model. It may or may not be successful, but one thing is clear: The Clinton machine will not let itself be shut down without a fight.

Hillary Clinton built a political career that made her rich by influence peddling. Without influence to peddle it’s going to be hard for Chelsea to do the same.  She will have to make it on her own, if she’s to make it all. That’s a big problem for her. The rest of us will have front row seats at the fight whether we want to or not.