Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for March 27th, 2018

Trump privately presses for military to pay for border wall

leave a comment »

This is getting silly. Trump said that Mexico would pay for the wall (not the US military), so he should get Mexico to pay for the wall.

Josh Dawsey and Mike DeBonis report in the Washington Post:

President Trump, who repeatedly insisted in the 2016 campaign that Mexico would pay for a wall along the southern border, is privately pushing the U.S. military to fund construction of his signature project.

Trump told advisers he was spurned in a large spending bill last week when lawmakers appropriated only $1.6 billion for the border wall. He has suggested to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and congressional leaders that the Pentagon could fund the sprawling construction, citing a “national security” risk.

After floating the notion to several advisers last week, Trump told House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) that the military should pay for the wall, according to three people familiar with the meeting Wednesday in the White House residence. Ryan offered little reaction to the notion, these people said, but senior Capitol Hill officials later said it was an unlikely prospect.

Trump’s pursuit of defense dollars to finance the U.S.-Mexico border wall underscores his determination to fulfill a campaign promise and build the barrier despite resistance in the Republican-led Congress. The administration’s last-minute negotiations with lawmakers to secure billions more for the wall failed and Trump grudgingly signed the spending bill last Friday after a short-lived veto threat.

Four days after that move, Trump continued to express regrets for signing the $1.3 trillion package that funded the government and averted a shutdown, saying it was a mistake and he should have followed his instincts. . .

Continue reading.

Later in the article:

“Build WALL through M!” Trump recently wrote on Twitter. He retweeted those words on Tuesday, including “our Military is again rich.” Two advisers said that “M” stood for “military.”

The advisers are likely wrong. According to Trump’s promises, surely “M” must stand for “Mexico.”

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2018 at 3:30 pm

The Slave-State Origins of Modern Gun Rights

leave a comment »

From 2015, an Atlantic article by Saul Cornell and Eric Ruben discusses the reasons for the Second Amendment. The writers have good credentials:

Saul Cornell is the Paul and Diane Guenther Chair in American History at Fordham University. Eric M. Ruben is a jurisprudence fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.

Their article begins:

Gun-rights advocates have waged a relentless battle to gut what remains of America’s lax and inadequate gun regulations. In the name of the Second Amendment, they are challenging the constitutionality of state and municipal “may issue” regulations that restrict the right to carry weapons in public to persons who can show a compelling need to be armed. A few courts are starting to take these challenges seriously. But what the advocates do not acknowledge—and some courts seem not to understand—is that their arguments are grounded in precedent unique to the violent world of the slaveholding South.

Claims that “may issue” regulations are unconstitutional have been rejected by most federal appellate courts—that is, until last year, when a court in California broke ranks and struck down San Diego’s public-carry regulation. This year, a court did the same with the District of Columbia’s rewritten handgun ordinance. Both decisions face further review from appellate courts, and perhaps also by the Supreme Court. If the justices buy this expansive view of the Second Amendment, laws in states such as New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Hawaii with the strictest public carry regulations—and some of the lowest rates of gun homicide—will be voided as unconstitutional.

Public-carry advocates like to cite historical court opinions to support their constitutional vision, but those opinions are, to put it mildly, highly problematic. The supportive precedent they rely on comes from the antebellum South and represented less a national consensus than a regional exception rooted in the unique culture of slavery and honor. By focusing only on sympathetic precedent, and ignoring the national picture, gun-rights advocates find themselves venerating a moment at which slavery, honor, violence, and the public carrying of weapons were intertwined.

The opinion most enthusiastically embraced by public-carry advocates is Nunn v. State, a state-court decision written by Georgia Chief Justice Joseph Henry Lumpkin in 1846. As a jurist, Lumpkin was a champion both of slavery and of the Southern code of honor. Perhaps, not by coincidence, Nunn was the first case in which a court struck down a gun law on the basis of the Second Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court cited Nunn in District of Columbia v. Heller, its landmark 2008 decision holding, for the first time in over 200 years, that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a handgun in the home for self-defense. Why courts or gun-rights advocates think Lumpkin’s view of the right to bear arms provides a solid foundation for modern firearms jurisprudence is puzzling. Slavery, “honor,” and their associated violence spawned a unique weapons culture. One of its defining features was a permissive view of white citizens’ right to carry weapons in public.

As early as 1840, antebellum historian Richard Hildreth observed that violence was frequently employed in the South both to subordinate slaves and to intimidate abolitionists. In the South, violence also was an approved way to avenge perceived insults to manhood and personal status. According to Hildreth, duels “appear but once an age” in the North, but “are of frequent and almost daily occurrence at the [S]outh.” Southern men thus carried weapons both “as a protection against the slaves” and also to be prepared for “quarrels between freemen.” Two of the most feared public-carry weapons in pre-Civil War America, the “Arkansas toothpick” and “Bowie knife,” were forged from this Southern heritage.

The slave South’s enthusiasm for public carry influenced its legal culture. During the antebellum years, many viewed carrying a concealed weapon as dastardly and dishonorable—a striking contrast with the values of the modern gun-rights movement. In an 1850 opinion, the Louisiana Supreme Court explained that carrying a concealed weapon gave men “secret advantages” and led to “unmanly assassinations,” while open carry “place[d] men upon an equality” and “incite[d] men to a manly and noble defence of themselves.” Some Southern legislatures, accordingly, passed laws permitting open carry but punishing concealment. Southern courts followed their lead, proclaiming a robust right to open carry, but opposing concealed carry, which they deemed unmanly and not constitutionally protected. It is this family of Southern cases that gun-rights advocates would like modern courts to rely on to strike down popularly enacted gun regulations today.

But no similar record of court cases exists for the pre-Civil War North. New research produced in response to Heller has revealed a history of gun regulation outside the South that has gone largely unexplored by judges and legal scholars writing about the Second Amendment during the last 30 years. This history reveals strong support for strict regulation of carrying arms in public.

In the North, publicly carrying concealable weapons was much less popular than in the South. In 1845, New York jurist William Jay contrasted “those portions of our country where it is supposed essential to personal safety to go armed with pistols and bowie-knives” with the “north and east, where we are unprovided with such facilities for taking life.” Indeed, public-carry restrictions were embraced across the region. In 1836, . . .

Continue reading.

Some other interesting articles looking at the Second Amendment’s history:

Whitewashing the Second Amendment

The right to bear arms: what does the second amendment really mean?

What the Second Amendment really meant to the Founders

The Second Amendment Was Ratified to Preserve Slavery

The Second Amendment Was Ratified to Preserve Slavery (different article)

And on a related topic: March for Our Lives action list for gun reform

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2018 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Daily life, Guns, Law

Tagged with

What is the NRA so afraid of?

leave a comment »

Benjamin Hoffman, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon, and an expert in child injury prevention writes in The Hill:

Among the relentless strategies of the NRA to prevent common-sense measures to protect Americans, perhaps the most nefarious has been the ban on research into the epidemiology and science around gun violence in the United States.

In 1997, the CDC had nearly $2.6 million budgeted for firearm injury prevention research. However, the 1996 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Bill included the Dickey Amendment which mandated that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

Consequently, in 2013, just $100,000 remained dedicated to research on gun violence prevention. Most believe that an article published by Arthur Kellerman in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled “Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor for Homicide in the Home” scared the NRA into pushing the research ban, fearing future research that might undermine the pro-gun agenda.

Since that time, funding for research on firearm related injuries through the NIH, DOJ, ATF, and other government institutions has eroded as well. As a result, the little research that has been done has been funded privately and inconsistently.

After the horrific 2013 Newtown tragedy, President Obama endorsed a series of executive orders meant to “end the freeze on gun violence research,” supported by every major healthcare professional organizations (including the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics) in addition to hundreds of scientists across the country. There seemed to be hope for answers.

While there was hope that there might be federal funding to examine the epidemic of gun violence, it never came to pass.  Former House Speaker John Boehner said  “the CDC is there to look at diseases that need to be dealt with to protect public health,” invoking the prevailing notion is that gun violence is not a public health issue. Former NRA spokesman Chris Cox reinforced this idea, saying “our concern is not with legitimate medical science.

Our concern is [the CDC] promoting the idea that gun ownership was a disease that needed to be eradicated.” But therein lies the great untruth: The CDC, specifically the National Injury Prevention Center, researches many “non-diseases” because they are of great concern to public health for their propensity to cause death, injury, and disability; this includes automobiles, cigarette and nicotine use, prescription drugs, fires, intimate partner violence, drowning, and child abuse to name a few.

Their recommendations after objective scientific examination even limit some other constitutional rights such as freedom to assemble (smoking bans, fire codes) and freedom of speech (abusive language and hate speech).

Why is the NRA so dead-set against science? It is simple, they are scared of the story that the data will tell. The research produced from federal funding to the NIH and CDC is highly competitive, heavily scrutinized and robustly peer reviewed before publication, to ensure veracity and prevent any fabrications or falsehoods.

We need a strong, publicly funded, empiric research program led by the NIH and CDC to objectively evaluate the public health impact of guns in this country.  . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2018 at 12:32 pm

How a conservative think tank is trying to tackle climate change

leave a comment »

At least some conservatives are paying attention to the fact and implications of climate change, but unfortunately not those in Congress or in the Trump administration—that is, not the conservatives who could take effect government action. James Hohman writes in the Washington Post’s Daily 202 column:

While President Trump is systematically rolling back his predecessor’s efforts to combat climate change, the conservative Hoover Institution is trying to address the reality of rising temperatures, higher sea levels and more extreme weather.

The center-right think tank, which is affiliated with Stanford University and home to GOP grandees like Condoleezza Rice, is pursuing a host of initiatives that treat climate change as a pressing national security challenge and a market failure that requires government intervention.

It’s a striking contrast to Washington, where the Paris accord has been abandoned, skeptics of established science hold some of the most important jobs in government and congressional Republicans long ago eschewed promises to seriously confront environmental disruption.

But here, the spirit of innovation that defines Silicon Valley trumps the ideological rigidity that reigns in the capital.

George Shultz, who served as Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, embraces the idea of a carbon tax. He says this would free up private firms to find the most efficient ways to cut emissions. The 97-year-old chairs an energy policy task force at Hoover that, among other solutions, advocates for expanding nuclear power. “Let’s take out an insurance policy to protect against the risk of climate change,” Shultz said.

Gary Roughead, the former chief of naval operations, studies the consequences of global warming in the Arctic. This is causing polar ice caps to melt and, for all intents and purposes, opening a new ocean. That means trade routes will soon exist that are now blocked by ice. The retired admiral, one of only two people to ever command both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets, believes the U.S. must prepare for and capitalize on this. That will require checking Russia’s expansionary push in the northern sea lanes.

James Mattis, who spent almost four years at Hoover between retiring from the Marines and leaving to becoming secretary of defense, has also described climate change as a national security threat, citing the rising sea levels and desertification. Lake Chad, for example, has shrunk by about 90 percent since 1990, causing the instability that fueled the rise of the Boko Haram terrorist group.

Hoover has even hired an alumna of Barack Obama’s White House to focus on climate change. Alice Hill was a special assistant to the president and the senior director for resilience policy on the National Security Council. Before that, she served as a judge and led a climate change task force at the Department of Homeland Security.

“This is a global problem, and it’s really a problem that needs attention from the highest levels of government,” Hill said during a day-long Hoover media roundtable on Monday. “It’s difficult to solve it with 50 states and all the municipalities trying to pull and row in one direction without somebody as a captain of the ship. … It’s here, and we need to address it.”

Goldman Sachs fortified its headquarters after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. When Superstorm Sandy hit New York in 2012, the investment bank’s lights stayed on while the buildings around it went dark. But many of the firm’s employees couldn’t get to work because the public infrastructure was in shambles. Hill cites this as a parable to explain why a whole-of-government response is needed to fight climate change. “You can’t live on an island,” she said.

Half of Americans live in coastal counties. Cities with crucial naval installations, like Norfolk, are especially at risk. She praised Congress for including language in this year’s defense reauthorization bill that requires the Pentagon to identify the 10 military installations which are most vulnerable to climate change and outline what can be done to shore them up.

As far as most experts are concerned, the underlying facts are not up for debate. Scientists agree that Hurricane Harvey was more damaging than it would have been in the past because of climate change. California has just suffered its worst drought ever and some of the worst wildfires ever. Almost every year brings more natural disasters that cause in excess of $1 billion in damage than the year before. Consider this graphic of such events from just last year:

To be sure, Hoover is not monolithic. There are several fellows whose views hew much closer to standard-fare GOP orthodoxy. Some have dismissed “climate change hysteria” and challenged the accuracy of modeling that forecasts the extent of future increases in sea level.

Naturally for a think tank where Milton Friedman spent three decades as a research fellow, the focus is on market solutions more than government mandates. Terry Anderson, a father of “free market environmentalism,” thinks it was good to pull out of the Paris accord and believes the world has plenty of time to adjust to long-term shifts in the climate. But he also supports overhauling government subsidy programs, such as crop and flood insurance, that incentivize bad decision-making and help obscure the effects of climate change. “We need to find ways to make sure we can be resilient,” he said. “We need to find ways to get people out of harm’s way.”

Hill, who worked on Obama’s NSC, said Congress needs to stop bailing out places with no building codes. She lamented that people in Houston are rebuilding houses in places that will inevitably flood again, and they’re only able to do it because of taxpayer-funded flood insurance and disaster relief appropriated by congressional Republicans who opposed help for New York and New Jersey after Sandy. “That’s not a long-term sustainable approach for the federal government,” she said, advocating for some national building standards and enforcement. “We need to take steps to prepare ourselves, to mitigate the risk as much as possible in advance.” . . .

Continue reading.

The remainder of the column goes on to discuss other issues currently active.

In reading the above, I cannot help but think that the GOP is a danger to the country.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2018 at 11:08 am

Above the Tie R1 and Phoenix Artisan Honeysuckle

with one comment

I do like a horsehair brush as a change of pace, and this little Vie-Long brush made a really excellent lather frm Phoenix Artisan’s Honeysuckle shaving soap, selected because yesterday (and today so far) is overcast and rainy, and I thought honeysuckle would be a cheering fragrance—and it was.

The Above the Tie R1 is generally good, but this morning I got a bad cut on my lower lip. User error, no doubt, since I often get an excellent shave from the R1. However, I notice with some of my other razors user error never occurs.

A good splash of Honeysuckle aftershave, and then some My Nik Is Sealed and a little square of toilet paper, and I’m sort of ready for the day. Tomorrow I will use a kinder razor.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2018 at 10:45 am

Posted in Shaving

%d bloggers like this: