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LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: Trump’s a white nationalist redux and much, much more. “So predictable. This time, the shooter who I will not name cited Trump in his manifesto giving the left more ammunition for their favorite issue. The gunman wanted the media to go after the individuals he singled out in his rantings and the media has delivered right on cue! They always take the bait.”

It’s “RUSSIA!” all over again.

ROOSEVELT’S COURT PACKING SCHEME (AND ERIC HOLDER’S): In early 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had recently been re-elected in a landslide. Believing that his popularity should not go unexploited, he set about to use it as a weapon against the Supreme Court, which had been a thorn in his side during his entire first term.

Roosevelt was upset that so many parts of his New Deal legislation had been ruled unconstitutional, often in split decisions. On March 9, therefore, in one of his weekly radio Fireside Chats, he argued that in order to help the Court handle its workload, he should be authorized to add an additional Supreme Court Justice for every current Justice over the age of 70.

The Chief Justice shot back that the Court was having no trouble keeping up with its workload. Roosevelt’s true motivations were obvious. Even the most gullible Americans understood that Roosevelt wasn’t concerned with helping the Court; he wanted to stack it with New Dealers. Indeed, he essentially admitted this.

Call it one of the most audacious power grabs in American history. If he could get Congress to go with him, he could effectively nullify the Supreme Court as the third branch of government. But, though audacious, it was not unconstitutional. Congress does have the authority to change the number of seats on the Court. And it had used it in the past, sometimes not with the purest of motives.  The first Supreme Court had six seats. Nine had been the number between 1837 and 1863 and again since 1869.

The American people, however, decided that they were not amused by Roosevelt’s plan. Newspapers editorialized against it. Political cartoonists ridiculed it. Even Vice President and Senate Democrats weren’t crazy about it. It is likely that it would have gone nowhere.

But maybe nobody had told Owen Roberts that. Three weeks later, when the Court handed down its 5-4 decision in West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish (1937), Justice Owen Roberts, who had usually sided with the more conservative wing of the Court, switched sides and voted to uphold a minimum wage law. Roberts’ move has been forever dubbed the “switch in time that saved nine.” Maybe that was his intent. Or maybe not.

Two months later Justice Willis Van Devanter retired, and Roosevelt appointed Hugo Black, a New Dealer and former KKK member, in his place. The Court Packing plan may have had no chance. But Roosevelt had won the battle by more conventional means.

But he paid a hefty political price for the scheme. As Michael Parrish wrote, “the protracted legislative battle over the Court-packing bill blunted the momentum for additional reforms, divided the New Deal coalition, squandered the political advantage Roosevelt had gained in the 1936 elections, and gave fresh ammunition to those who accused him of dictatorship, tyranny, and fascism. When the dust settled, FDR had suffered a humiliating political defeat ….”

Eric Holder should keep this in mind when he argues that the next Democratic President should “seriously” consider Court packing.

THE GERMAN MILITARY HAS BECOME A SAD JOKE: “Fighter jets and helicopters that don’t fly. Ships and submarines that can’t sail. Severe shortages of everything from ammunition to underwear. If it sounds like an exaggeration to compare Germany’s Bundeswehr to ‘The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight,’ look no further than the army’s standard-issue assault rifle, Heckler & Koch’s G36. The government decided to scrap the weapon after discovering that the gun misses its target if it’s too hot. . . . Given Germany’s size and economic might, Berlin’s attention to security is surprisingly shallow; citizens and politicians alike often seem oblivious to the challenges the country faces. Though Germany faces growing security threats from both Russia and China, one wouldn’t know it hanging around the German capital. Much of the media now portrays the U.S. as a security threat on par with Russia. Public attitudes have moved in a similar direction. Security discussions are driven by a handful of like-minded think tank analysts who seem to spend most their time on Twitter.”

It’ll serve ’em right if they wind up invaded by the Poles.

IF I WERE IN CONGRESS, I’D COUNTER WITH A 50% EXCISE TAX ON ABORTION: Connecticut Dem introduces 50 percent tax on ammunition, calling it ‘public health measure.’

I address why this stupid idea violates the Second Amendment in my Second Amendment Penumbras piece.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: A jury acquitted him of rape in less than four hours. Yale expelled him anyway. Now he’s appealing.

Last March, Khan was found not guilty by a New Haven, Conn. court on four counts of raping a fellow student on Halloween 2015. Yet on Jan. 2, Yale expelled the 25-year-old from its campus following its own investigation into the alleged sexual assault.

The two outcomes highlight the drastically different standards used by criminal courts and universities in determining guilt in sexual assault cases, and gives further ammunition to those arguing university-led sexual assault processes often violate the due process rights of the accused.

“This isn’t ‘he-said-she-said,’” Khan told The Fix in a phone interview. “It’s ‘she-said versus what the evidence says.”

Well, Yale.

PROCUREMENT: As the Last Zumwalt-Class Vessel Launches, the Stealth Destroyer’s Fate Remains Deeply Uncertain. “The Navy still hasn’t said what it’s going to do about the fact that it can’t afford the ammo for the boats’ fancy guns.“

The service now has three destroyers with no ammunition for their long-range guns, which was the entire point of building them to begin with. The Navy is reportedly planning to reconfigure the destroyers as hunter-killers, meant to seek out and attack enemy ships and land targets with precision-guided missiles. In such a case, the Zumwalts would rely on the 80 vertical-launch missile silos per ship to provide offensive firepower.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Marines are still awaiting the fire-support replacement for the Iowa-class battleships, 26 years after the last battleship was retired.

What a mess.

TO BE FAIR, MY NEIGHBORHOOD PROBABLY HAS THIS BEAT: GAO: The IRS Has 4,500 Guns, 5,000,000 Rounds of Ammunition.

TRUMP: RASHIDA TLAIB ‘DISHONORED’ HERSELF, COUNTRY WITH PROFANE TIRADE.

President Trump hit back Friday at a freshman House Democrat who called him a ‘motherf***er’ and promised to impeach him.

After she was sworn in on Thursday, Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan spoke to a crowd of supporters near Capitol Hill and described an exchange she had with her son after her election victory.

“When your son looks at you and says, ‘Mama, look, you won. Bullies don’t win.’ And I said, ‘Baby, they don’t,’” Tlaib said. “Because we’re gonna go in there; we’re gonna impeach the motherf***er.”

“I thought her comments were disgraceful,” Trump told reporters Friday afternoon outside the White House. “This is a person that I don’t know. I assume she’s new. I think she dishonored herself and I think she dishonored her family, using language like that in front of her son and whoever else was there. I thought that was a great dishonor to her and to her family. I thought it was highly disrespectful to the United States of  America.”

Tlaib, a Detroit native, is the first Palestinian-American woman to be elected to Congress. A self-described democratic-socialist, she won the Democratic primary in Michigan’s 13th Congressional district before winning the general election to take over for retiring representative John Conyers, who had held the seat since 1965.

Pretty fascinating response from Trump to someone who comes from a culture of honor and shame.

UPDATE: Dems livid after Tlaib vows to ‘impeach the motherf—er.’ Party leaders fear such explosive talk only gives ammunition to the GOP.

+P RATED 9MM IS THE NEXT BIG THING: First Look: SIG Sauer M17 9mm +P Ammunition.

TRIBUNE, TRONC AND BEYOND: A SLUR, A SECRET PAYOUT AND A LOOMING SALE:

At the dinner, as at other moments, [Chicago investor Michael Ferro, who ran Tribune Publishing, which then-published the L.A. Times] railed against those who he felt were impeding him — including perceived rivals and competitors. Among them: the Southern California billionaire and civic leader Eli Broad, whom Ferro called part of a “Jewish cabal” that ran Los Angeles.

* * * * * * * *

Early this year, however, Tribune Publishing made the first in a series of secret payments to total more than $2.5 million to avert a threatened lawsuit filed by a fired newspaper executive, according to three people with knowledge of the deal. That had the effect of keeping Ferro’s anti-Semitic slur out of the public spotlight.

The payments, reported here for the first time, are stark embodiments of the consequences of Ferro’s actions that contributed to a series of crises at Tribune Publishing. The LA Times has been sold. Tribune Publishing has put itself on the auction block and is reviewing three bids from potential buyers.

Ferro no longer controls day-to-day operations; he stepped down as chairman after sexual harassment accusations arose involving his conduct outside Tribune Publishing.

According to NPR, the fired official was then-editor in chief Davan Maharaj, who “hired a prominent Beverly Hills attorney to pursue a wrongful termination suit. Maharaj had ammunition, having recorded Ferro in unguarded conversation with associates.”

Read the whole thing.

Harriet Ryan of the L.A. Times tweets, “You’re the editor of the LA Times. You find out the CEO is an anti-Semite. Do you: a) confront him? b) assign an investigative reporter to expose him? Or c) use the information to get a $2.5M personal payout at a time the company is laying off journalists and closing bureaus?”

C’mon – it’s the L.A. Times; he newspaper that “kept rockin’” as it buried the John Edwards story in 2008 and has still kept the tape of Obama’s meeting with former PLO mouthpiece Rashid Khalidi in 2003 in the vault. Of course, you ignore the story. Or as Jim Treacher would say:

WOW: Mom with ‘gut feeling’ stops school shooter before planned attack.

Koeberle Bull of Lumberton, N.J., woke up to a racist message on Facebook from a man in Kentucky. “It was really vulgar — he called my kids the N-word and hoped terrible things for them,” Bull tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

The mom of three biracial children, ages 16, 11, and 8, was especially concerned about the man’s profile picture in which he showed off a gun, so, going on a “gut feeling,” she called her local police station and filed a report. “But I felt like it wouldn’t really go anywhere, so I posted a screenshot of the message on Facebook,” she says.

The man had blocked Bull. However, her friends dug around for details about his identity, and Bull soon had enough information to share with the police in Lawrenceburg, Ky. “I spoke to Officer Josh Satterly, who told me, ‘There’s no room for this kind of hate in my world,” she says. “He took me seriously.”

Local and state police followed the mom’s tip, and on Thursday, officers drove to the home of a 20-year-old man named Dylan Jarrell, just as he was leaving his house with more than 200 rounds of ammunition, a bulletproof vest, a firearm, a 100-round high-capacity magazine, and a “detailed plan of attack.”

Well done.

IT’S ALWAYS IN THE LAST PLACE YOU LOOK: Army might have found its new rifle in Colorado Springs garage.

Grier, a self-described inventor who has worked at a local bed and breakfast, built the new “ribbon gun” with a hobbyist’s tools. It looks like a space-age toy drawn by a fifth-grader.

But goofy origins and cartoon-looks aside, this could be the gun of the future. The Army is studying Grier’s gun and has ordered a military-grade prototype.

The specifications are incredible, four 6 mm barrels cut side by side within one steel block. New ammunition blocks fired by electromagnetic actuators that could theoretically give the weapon a firing rate of 250 rounds per second.

And then there’s the feature no soldier would turn down. “It’s called a power shot,” Grier said.

That’s the shotgun feature of this sniper-shot, machine-assault gun that can send four bullets simultaneously whizzing toward an enemy at more than 2,500 mph.

It isn’t science fiction. He’s built the gun and patented the technology behind it. Now his garage-based company, FD munitions, is hoping the Army will buy it.

I’ll take two.

NO GUNS AT SAN DIEGO COUNTY’S MOST POPULAR GUN SHOWS?: According the San Diego Union Tribune, the Del Mar Fairgrounds Board of Directors voted 8 to1 to suspend the popular gun shows until a “policy is developed that could include a complete ban on the possession of any firearms or ammunition.…”

“We’re not doing our kids any service if we continue this,” said Director Lisa Barkett, before voting for the suspension….

“Essentially, it’s a ban of the gun show,” said Wendy Hauffen, executive administrator of the San Diego County Gun Owners, after the decision. “You can’t have gun show with no guns.”

Next for Del Mar Fairgrounds:  No horses at the horse races.

CIVIL RIGHTS IN ACTION: Teen girl fires shot at armed intruder in Spanaway.

The teen told returning deputies that after the first incident, she and her mom had gone across the street to check on the woman involved in the first incident. The girl returned home first to find the power had been shut off and grabbed a .22 pistol, deputies said.

Moments later, she heard a noise coming from the backyard and saw the man from before standing in her door.

The teen said the man told her “she was going to die” and tried to stab her with a knife several times. He managed to cut her shirt and give a light wound to her home before she kicked the man away and fired one shot at him. The man ran off.

Deputies saw a man who matched the description walking down a nearby road and arrested him. He was found to have a knife, black airsoft pellet gun, 35 rounds of hollow point 9mm ammunition, and black gloves, deputies said.

It’s a shame she missed.

HOT OFF THE PRESS: THE MONOLITHIC MEDIA MAY BE BIASED!   Dr. Hal Pashler and I ran a psychology experiment showing that one’s ideological point of view will tend to color one’s judgment on what is newsworthy. If a news story seems to provide ammunition for one’s own viewpoint, it’s more likely to be viewed as newsworthy. The result may not come as a bolt from the blue for savvy Instapundit readers. But by golly, it’s science now. (Note that the article contains lots of groovy graphs. I’ll bet that you didn’t think I could make graphs like that.)

MICHAEL BARONE: The Kavanaugh confirmation Kabuki.

Theater, much like Japan’s Kabuki. That’s all the Supreme Court confirmation process is. President Trump’s presentations of his two nominees, Judge Neil Gorsuch last year and Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Monday, were uncharacteristically graceful — a worthy theatrical innovation, in the view of even some Trump critics.

Now, we get to watch television clips of Kavanaugh’s visits to senators’ offices — where he’ll likely never return to after the play-acting is over — with cordial words from Republicans who are certain to vote for him, and maybe even from Democrats certain to vote against.

Then, there will be hearings before the Judiciary Committee, presided over by the folksy but canny Chairman Chuck Grassley. The ranking Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, may be a bit restrained by her earlier imposition of what sounded like a constitutionally prohibited religious test for office on another judge on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist.

This process is ostensibly to enable senators to make informed decisions. But Kavanaugh is certain to invoke the 1993 precedent set by his D.C. Circuit predecessor Ruth Bader Ginsburg in refusing to say how she’d vote in any case.

Sure, everybody knows judges shouldn’t make decisions off the tops of their heads. But everyone also knows that they have to deny ammunition to the other side. Judge Robert Bork in 1987 did the opposite, unfortunately for his nomination. Supreme Court nominees for years have been very smart people, able to deftly avoid this mistake.

Of course, everyone knows the outcome of the play, as they do when they go see “Hamlet.” Praise from liberal legal scholars Akhil Reed Amar and Benjamin Wittes won’t make any difference in the outcome. Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed, with all Republican and perhaps a few Democratic votes.

Well, let’s hope. And in the meantime, think of all the fundraising opportunities!

PRO-GUN-CONTROL ARMY VET TRIES TO PULL RANK, GETS SHOT DOWN BY TAM KEEL:

So, one Michael Diamond recently wrote a chiding little piece about the dysfunction of American civilian gun culture, by comparing it to the hard-nosed serious firearms professionalism he’d acquired in the Army.

I mean, thank you for your service and everything, Mike, but from what you’ve written, you were an intel officer in the reserves for seven years. I’m hard pressed to think of a gig in the United States Army that would give you less exposure to firearms that doesn’t require a degree in medicine or divinity, and frankly I’m coming up empty.

“Although I had fired countless live rounds over the years on various military weapons ranges…”

As a matter of fact, Mike, I’m pretty comfortable making the statement that I probably expend more ammunition in any given month than you did in your entire seven year career, since you likely never busted a cap outside of required qualifications.

As has been brought up by fellow blogger McThag, the U.S. Army pistol qualification is barely a sobriety test, let alone any sort of marksmanship challenge.

There are people in the Army who know more about guns than Tam. And I hear they’re both very nice guys.

KEVIN BOYD: More Proof The Left Really Does Want To Abolish Legal Gun Ownership.

One of the left’s big talking points is “guns should be licensed and insured like cars.” They have proposed making liability insurance mandatory for gun owners. But what happens when gun owners cannot legally get gun liability insurance? New York State just shut down NRA Carry Guard, a liability insurance program for gun owners. Gun control advocates have also been targeting Carry Guard’s underwriters with boycotts.

The next front of the anti-gun movement’s attack on gun ownership is ammunition. Every gun fires it so it makes sense for gun banners to heavily restrict it. Democrats are pushing for background checks on all ammunition purchases. The problem with them is that the costs of background checks, anywhere from $20 to $40, can make a trip to the range a costly venture. It would price working class gun owners out of exercising a constitutional right.

But the anti-gun movement is not stopping there. They want to zone gun stores out of existence. Alameda County, California, has an ordinance banning gun stores within 500 feet of areas that include a residentially zoned district. There’s one catch to that ordinance, not a single lot in the county meets that rule.

Gun rights groups have sued the county, but the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with county. They have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court sides with Alameda County, local and county governments could virtually outlaw the sale of firearms.

If I were thinking of opening a gun store, I’d do it somewhere on I-80 just east of the California-Nevada border.

WIRED MAGAZINE EDITOR EQUATES TRUMP TO A ‘STEPFATHER WHO WAS GOING TO RAPE US:’

On the final day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the editor of one of the country’s leading magazines felt it appropriate to compare President Donald Trump’s inauguration to incestuous rape.

In a tweet posted Monday afternoon, Virginia Heffernan, a contributing editor for Wired, referred to former President Barack Obama as “our true father” and equated Trump to “a stepfather who was going to rape us”:

Heffernan tweeted, “When Obama left the White House in a helicopter that horrible day, I had the impression our true father was leaving & the nation was stuck with a stepfather who was going to rape us. Now I increasingly believe that the media is the mother who won’t stand up for us & defy him.”

What is it with Wired staffers and presidential-induced melodrama? Back in November of 2008, it was then-Wired contributor Spencer Ackerman who infamously wrote on the Journolist, immediately after Obama won, “Let’s just throw [PJM columnist Michael] Ledeen against a wall. Or, pace Dr. Alterman, throw him through a plate glass window. I’ll bet a little spot of violence would shut him right the fuck up, as with most bullies.”

I’m so old, I can remember, prior to its acquisition in 1998 by Condé Nast, that Wired’s editors were made of sterner stuff, back when the magazine was founded by a libertarian. Speaking of whom, Louis Rossetto takes a much more reasoned view of Trump than today’s Wired editors, telling Reason’s Nick Gillespie:

For most of my life, my tendency has been to try to diminish the power of the state. Part of that is literal power, and part of it is the power that’s in your head. The president has become this figure of immense authority that you’re obliged to respect, who has the ability to project that power all over the planet.

Trump is a refreshing reminder that the guy in the White House is another human being. The power of the state is way too exalted. Bringing that power back to human scale is an important part of what needs to be done to correct the insanity that’s been going on, where you have these large institutions that control all aspects of our lives. Leaching respect out of the state is kind of a good thing.

Not the least of which, a child-like worldview that makes you equate the president to your father or step-father, and the media to his wife.

DEPLATFORMED: Reddit announces new addition to site-wide rules regarding the use of Reddit to conduct transactions.

Hello All—

We want to let you know that we have made a new addition to our content policy forbidding transactions for certain goods and services. As of today, users may not use Reddit to solicit or facilitate any transaction or gift involving certain goods and services, including:

Firearms, ammunition, or explosives.

Good catch from “Sam” on Twitter who explains that “the subreddit r/GunDeals [was] merely posts and links to gun retail websites that are fully FFL compliant.”

DEPLATFORMED: YouTube Suspends Major Gun Manufacturer, Bans Instructional Gun Videos.

“While we’ve long prohibited the sale of firearms, we recently notified creators of updates we will be making around content promoting the sale or manufacture of firearms and their accessories, specifically, items like ammunition, gatling triggers, and drop-in auto sears,” reads a statement from a YouTube spokesperson.

The list of prohibited content now includes links to sites that sell firearms, videos that teach installation of certain accessories, and videos that teach the entirely legal acts of manufacturing guns and reloading ammunition.

It’s time to regulate YouTube, Google, Facebook, and Twitter as common carriers.

CHANGE: Walmart Statement on Firearms Policy.

In light of recent events, we’ve taken an opportunity to review our policy on firearm sales. Going forward, we are raising the age restriction for purchase of firearms and ammunition to 21 years of age. We will update our processes as quickly as possible to implement this change.

In 2015, Walmart ended sales of modern sporting rifles, including the AR-15. We also do not sell handguns, except in Alaska where we feel we should continue to offer them to our customers. Additionally, we do not sell bump stocks, high-capacity magazines and similar accessories. We have a process to monitor our eCommerce marketplace and ensure our policies are applied.

We take seriously our obligation to be a responsible seller of firearms and go beyond Federal law by requiring customers to pass a background check before purchasing any firearm. The law would allow the sale of a firearm if no response to a background check request has been received within three business days, but our policy prohibits the sale until an approval is given.

We are also removing items from our website resembling assault-style rifles, including nonlethal airsoft guns and toys. Our heritage as a company has always been in serving sportsmen and hunters, and we will continue to do so in a responsible way.

“If an object resembles something we think is bad, then it is bad,” is the sloppiest kind of magical thinking.

FBI TIPSTER WARNED NIKOLAS CRUZ WAS ‘GOING TO EXPLODE’ AND SHOOT UP A SCHOOL WEEKS BEFORE PARKLAND MASSACRE:

“I don’t know how he got the debit card, but he did,” she said. “And he took it, and he bought all these rifles and ammunition and he posted pictures of them on the Instagram.”

Another of the woman’s stunning revelations: Cruz was obsessed with ISIS.

“He’s so into ISIS and, um, I’m afraid this is so something’s gonna happen,” she said, describing how Cruz would post pictures of himself dressed up as an Islamic terrorist. She also recounted how Cruz would frequently post pictures of himself donning a “Make America Great Again” cap.

The caller provided the agent with usernames for two of Cruz’s social media accounts, encouraging the FBI to comb through the pages.

“It’s alarming to see these pictures and to know what he’s capable of doing and what could happen,” she said. “He’s [been] thrown out of all these schools because he would pick up a chair and just throw it at somebody, a teacher or a student, because he didn’t like the way they were talking to him.”

The woman said she phoned in because she “wanted a clear conscience if he takes off and, and just starts shooting places up.”

At Hot Air, John Sexton links to a Wall Street Journal article that notes, “The caller described disturbing behavior by Mr. Cruz, including a propensity for cutting up frogs and, at least on one occasion, a bird.” Sexton adds, “He actually brought the bird into the kitchen and cut it up with a knife, reportedly saying, ‘I want to see what’s inside.’ The caller, who is only identified as a woman close to Cruz, also provided the FBI with Cruz’s various social media accounts so they could see for themselves what he was saying online. Obviously, this should have led the FBI to connect his YouTube account (username Nikolas Cruz) and the previous threat about becoming a school shooter.”

SHIPS WITH FRICKIN LASER BEAMS: The U.S. Navy Is Funding Lasers and Killing the Railgun.

The so-called Navy Laser Family of Systems is meant to get laser weapons to sea in the near term, giving the U.S. Navy the ability to deal with what might be called “pesky” threats: unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned ships, and armed speed boats, also known as fast inshore attack craft (FIAC). Such threats cannot sink America’s large warships directly, but they can surveil, harass, and even damage a ship as large as a destroyer. The “family” also includes larger 150-kilowatt weapons that could be useful against missiles and aircraft.

But what about the U.S. Navy’s vaunted railgun, also known as Project 3370? The 2019 budget provides zero funding for the railgun. In its place, the Navy is funding the Gun Launched Guided Projectile, also known as the Hyper Velocity Projectile Block 0, which will “double the range of the current 5-inch conventional ammunition while meeting multi-mission operational requirements for Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW), Anti-Air Warfare (AAW), and Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS) missions.”

Both systems require huge amounts of electricity, but only the railgun has the reach to engage over-the-horizon threats. China is reportedly preparing to test-fire their own railgun.

SHOT: Navy to Deliver 2nd Stealthy Zumwalt-Class Destroyer in March.

CHASER: The Navy’s stealthy mega-destroyer still doesn’t have ammunition for its gun.

HANGOVER: No New Round Planned For Zumwalt Destroyer Gun System.

It’s a helluva warship that can’t be seen or heard.

CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN: Praise the Lord, Pass the Ammunition? Texas AG Says It’s OK to Pack Heat in Pews.

THAT WILL CURB CHURCH SHOOTINGS:  Praise the Lord, Pass the Ammunition? Texas AG Says It’s OK to Pack Heat in Pews.

MATT WELCH: JOURNALISTS ARE AT WAR WITH THEIR CRITICS — AND THEY’RE LOSING BADLY.

After President Trump recently tweeted another sophomoric insult at CNN anchor Don Lemon, for example, the network opted for not a bemused stoicism but a condescending whine: “In a world where bullies torment kids on social media to devastating effect on a regular basis with insults and name-calling, it is sad to see our president engaging in the very same behavior himself. Leaders should lead by example.” Boo-frickity-hoo.

As the above illustrates, the two opposing views on media are self-reinforcing and increasingly dominate American politics. Anti-media fervor is arguably the strongest glue left holding together the Republican coalition, as evidenced by our troll president; his troll-Svengali, Breitbart editor Stephen K. Bannon; and the uber-troll, twice-defrocked Alabama jurist Roy Moore.

The legacy media and its left-of-center customer base, meanwhile, cannot resist taking the bait, leading to too much anti-Trump error and an off-putting haughtiness when caught out. Reliable Sources this weekend used the occasion of a bad CNN mistake — the network had reported that Trump and his son received a WikiLeaks web address and encryption key before they were made public, when in fact they got them after — to have several guests bemoan Trump’s attacks on the media, rather than, I don’t know, delve into exactly how CNN messed up.

The struggle against Trump’s norms-shattering presidency is real. So is the decreasing marginal utility of crying wolf at every opportunity. How to thread that needle? Another CNN anchor, Jake Tapper, pointed the way at the L.A. Press Clubs awards this year.

“We don’t need to give the enemies of the Fourth Estate any ammunition,” Tapper warned. “That means we need to be squeaky clean. We’re not the resistance. We’re not the opposition. We’re here to tell the truth, report the facts, regardless of whom those facts favor one way or the other.”

That’s nice. How’s the search for Anderson Cooper’s “hacker” coming along?

BRITISH PREPPERS: Man jailed over 160 guns found in Gillingham house fire.

The weapons and ammunition, including machine guns and assault rifles, were discovered at Paul Bushell’s home in Nelson Road, Gillingham on 7 May.

Sentencing at Maidstone Crown Court, Judge Philip Statman said the haul posed a “significant risk to the community”.

How, exactly?

ARMY GREEN ON POLICE BLUE: White House reverses Obama ban on police getting military equipment.

Former President Obama put a halt to the so-called 1033 program in 2015 after images of heavily armed police responding to protests in Ferguson, Mo., shocked the nation.

Obama’s initiatives blocked the transfer of armored vehicles, grenade launchers, armed aircraft, bayonets and guns and ammunition of .50 caliber or higher.

Semi-militarizing the police was never a good idea. Their job is to “protect and serve,” not to occupy. That’s a job for the National Guard, on the rare occasion that the need arises.

REMEMBER, EVERY POLITICAL ACTION SPARKS A POLITICAL REACTION: Violence by far-left protesters in Berkeley sparks alarm. “The clashes came despite widespread calls from activists and elected officials across the Bay Area for peaceful civil disobedience and underscore Berkeley’s growing reputation for violent reaction by the far left. Other protests earlier this year in the city turned ugly, with far-left and far-right forces fighting in the streets. Some in Berkeley worried that Sunday’s chaos, captured on video and quickly disseminated through social media, would provide unwanted ammunition to Trump and his supporters.”

Yes, that’s the big worry: That it might provide a right-wing talking point.

U.S. EXPEDITIONARY SEA BASE DEPLOYS: The USNS Lewis B. Puller is a mobile, floating forward staging base.

The huge ship

…is 784 feet long and has a 52,000 square-foot flight deck. It serves as a logistical hub for other ships with fuel and ammunition storage and repair facilities.

Its helicopter facilities and storage capacity make it ideal for humanitarian and disaster relief support alongside conventional military operations.

The Puller will be permanently stationed overseas to allow continuous suport for other deployed ships. Crew rotations would take place in theater.

Yes, it is named after Lientenant General Chesty Puller.

A. BARTON HINKLE: Is It Time to Start Dismissing ‘Economics Deniers’?

In late June, researchers published a careful and data-rich study on Seattle’s minimum-wage law. It found that the city’s graduated hike in the minimum wage is costing thousands of jobs and cutting the number of hours worked by people in low-pay jobs. In the aggregate, Seattle workers are losing millions of dollars in wages thanks to the law. The study has drawn praise for its analytical rigor; one economist at MIT called it “sufficiently compelling in its design and statistical power that it can change minds.”

Or not.

Since its publication, liberals have given the study hyper-skeptical treatment, claiming to find all sorts of shortcomings with its methodology, data set, and so on. They point to a different study, from the University of California at Berkeley, which examined the law’s effects on the restaurant industry and found no statistically measurable effect.

Even Seattle’s political leaders are piling on, although they commissioned the research in the first place.

The idea that the price of something has no effect on demand for it sounds pretty funny, coming from liberals. After all, progressives generally support raising taxes on cigarettes to discourage people from smoking. Last November several cities joined the growing list of liberal demesnes that have imposed soda taxes—Berkeley, Philadelphia, San Francisco, etc.—to discourage consumption of sugary drinks. Heck, some localities even have firearms and ammunition taxes. One of them, in fact, is Seattle—where gun sales have dropped as a result.

The cognitive dissonance can be head-spinning.

As usual.

FAKE NEWS: The Hill: Media errors give Trump fresh ammunition.

A string of high-profile corrections and retractions by major news organizations on stories about President Trump or his allies have fueled more allegations of bias in the mainstream press.

The relationship between Trump and the news media regularly hits new lows, with insults flying between the two camps and reporters warning that the president is inciting violence against journalists.

But Trump’s allies on the right believe the president’s claims that the mainstream media is “fake news” have been bolstered by recent missteps. They point to recent admissions from top news outlets — including CNN, the New York Times and the Associated Press — that bombshell stories were either overcooked or included incorrect details.

Adding insult to injury: Breitbart News, the pro-Trump media outlet that is scorned by many in the mainstream press, has been fact-checking their mainstream counterparts with some success.

Breitbart’s Washington political editor Matthew Boyle was first to call into question a CNN story on alleged ties between a Trump associate and Russia that was later retracted. Boyle was also reporting on an error in an Associated Press report when the newswire corrected and later rewrote the story.

As Ken Layne once said a long, long time ago, this is the Internet and we can fact-check your ass.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY: The FBI’s Briefing On The GOP Baseball Shooting Couldn’t Have Been More Bizarre.

The FBI admits that Hodgkinson:

•vociferously raged against Republicans in online forums,
•had a piece of paper bearing the names of six members of Congress,
•was reported for doing target practice outside his home in recent months before moving to Alexandria,
•had mapped out a trip to the DC area,
•took multiple photos of the baseball field he would later shoot up, three days after the New York Times mentioned that Republicans practiced baseball at an Alexandria baseball field with little security,
•lived out of his van at the YMCA directly next door to the baseball field he shot up,
•legally purchased a rifle in March 2003 and 9 mm handgun “in November 2016,”
•modified the rifle at some point to accept a detachable magazine and replaced the original stock with a folding stock,
•rented a storage facility to hide hundreds of rounds of ammunition and additional rifle components,
asked “Is this the Republican or Democrat baseball team?” before firing on the Republicans,
ran a Google search for information on the “2017 Republican Convention” hours before the shooting,
and took photos at high-profile Washington locations, including the east front plaza of the U.S. Capitol and the Dirksen Senate Office.
•We know from other reporting that the list was of six Republican Freedom Caucus members, including Rep. Mo Brooks, who was present at the practice.

So what does the FBI decide this information means? Well, the takeaway of the briefing was characterized well by the Associated Press headline about it: “FBI: Gunman who shot congressman had no target in mind.”

The FBI is going to have to do better than this if the Bureau wants to earn back the reputation squandered by James Comey.

AT AMAZON, 70% off or more on Ammunition Holders and Pouches.

THE CASE FOR CASELESS AMMUNITION:

The U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army agree they may have finally found a caseless ammunition design that will work reliably in combat and be much (37 percent) lighter than conventional 5.56mm ammo.

PROGRESS: Marines Testing Polymer Solutions to Cut Ammo Weight.

“We have to have lighter equipment,” Williford said, adding that the service is interested in using “polymer magazines, polymer rounds” and other polymer products to reduce ammunition weight.

The Marines have tested polymer-cased .50 caliber ammunition, but companies also make polymer ammunition pallets that offer significant weight reduction.

“On a .50-caliber pallet, we think we can save 1,000 pounds per pallet,” Williford said.

The U.S. Army has had a strong interest in reducing the weight of ammunition for a decade. The service has invested in the Lightweight Small Arms Technology program, which has produced a matured lightweight squad automatic weapon that is about half the weight of a 17-pound M249 squad automatic weapon.

I wonder if lighter rounds would be easier on the barrels as well as on the shooters.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO MASS-MURDER: Maryland teen caught with shotgun and bomb-making materials for school shooting plot. “An 18-year-old student meticulously planned a mass shooting at her high school in which she intended to die, authorities in Maryland said Monday. A shotgun, ammunition and bomb-making materials including nails and fireworks were found at Nichole Cevario’s home in Thurmont on Thursday, Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins said at a news conference.”

STILL NOT TIRED OF ALL THE WINNING: In Office One Just Day, Trump’s Interior Secretary Reverses Spiteful Obama Ammo Ban.

I’M SURE THIS IS DONALD TRUMP’S FAULT SOMEHOW: Texas Pre-School Teacher Removed From Classroom After Twitter Calls to ‘Kill Some Jews’ Come to Light. “Salem — a member of the UTA chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and a supporter of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement — used her now-disabled Twitter account to post such remarks as: ‘How many Jews died in the Holocaust? Not enough…HAHAHAHA.'”

Related: Cary, NC Man Charged With Online Threat To Non-Muslims:

“For too long the kuffar [non-Muslims] have spit in our faces and trampled our rights. This cannot continue. I cannot speak of anything. Say your dua [prayers], sleep, and watch the news tomorrow. It will only be the beginning . . .”

A search warrant executed at Grimsley’s apartment resulted in the recovery of an AK-47 rifle, four 30-round magazines and about 340 rounds of ammunition, authorities said.

“I am just shocked someone would want to kill us, that they had AK-47s and bombs and they were going to kill everyone that wasn’t Muslim. It’s shocking,” said neighbor Kelly Biagianti.

Yeah, who could have seen this coming?

ACHTUNG BABIES: Hollywood’s Nazi Paranoia Is Out of Control:

[Sarah] Silverman apparently has never lived in a “town” that has ever had surveyor markings or communication markers to inform utility engineers where to drill when doing street or power line repairs. This magical place where no construction work ever happens also sounds like Heaven on Earth, so in case Sarah gives this a read, I hope she directs me to this city so I can move there immediately.

These six-to-midnight comparisons of Trump to Hitler serve only to assure average voters, who presumably remember all the “Bushitler” signs during the George W. Bush administration, that this is simply business as usual for Hollywood activists whenever a Republican is elected president. If this was President Ted Cruz, Rand Paul or even Jeb Bush, we’d be hearing the same things. But worst of all, it’s just dumb and lazy.

There are valid reasons to be concerned about President Trump. Reports of infighting and dysfunction at the highest levels of his administration aren’t a great look, especially for a candidate who ran on hiring the “best people” and doing a better job than our “incompetent leaders.”

Which makes it even more incredible that the following actually needs to be spelled out: Donald Trump isn’t Adolf Hitler, and hasn’t actually done a single comparable thing to the Nazi dictator. He hasn’t confiscated guns or banned ammunition. He hasn’t banned a race of people from working in the firearms industry, or any other industry for that matter. He hasn’t put the national media under state control, and he doesn’t have a minister of information personally approving which films can or cannot be made.

Nahh, those last two items in particular would cause the lefties at Salon to squeal with delight – or at least would have if Trump was still a Democrat.

PRAISE THE LORD, AND PASS THE AMMUNITION: Attempted kidnapping of woman in Cleveland stopped by Bible study group. And a good example by the intended victim here: When people try to force you into a car, never go with them. It’s better to make a scene on the spot than let them take you out into the woods.

MEGAN MCARDLE ON THE SUPREME COURT: Liberals Will Not Like How This Revenge Plot Ends:

I thought Republicans should have confirmed Garland, and I’ve written before that the arms race to procedurally hack the U.S. government — via controlling the Supreme Court, or dreaming up ever-more-arcane uses of the parliamentary rules — is bad for the country and needs to stop. That doesn’t mean I think it’s going to. The escalating tit-for-tat game over the Supreme Court has been going on at least since the 1980s, and arguably long before that, in the post-New-Deal era when courts began tilting noticeably leftwards. Under Reagan, conservatives sought to reverse that by grooming conservative justices for all levels of the courts. Democrats tried to keep them from doing so, culminating in the disgraceful treatment of Robert Bork. Ever since, we’ve been locked in a spiraling cycle of payback.

Everyone understands that this is destructive; everyone wishes it to stop. The catch is, they also believe that it needs to stop after they themselves get last licks in. And so it continues.

Thus I was unsurprised when Democrats began talking about a filibuster before they even knew who the nominee was. . . .

So I’m struggling to see what the point of this is, other than revenge. I do see why people want revenge. And revenge can play a useful role in politics, policing the worst excesses of the other side.

But there’s a reason that they say revenge is a dish best served cold. People who seek vengeance without stopping to count the potential costs to themselves often end up hurting their own side worse than the enemy. Democrats are already in an electorally vulnerable position, and facing a president who uniquely terrifies them. That’s probably a good time to stop, take a careful assessment of their tactical position, and imagine what battles they might need to hoard their ammunition for. Instead, they seem prepared to storm the barricades with all guns blazing. Unfortunately, the American system of justice, and perhaps even the Democrats themselves, are the ones most likely to be wounded by the engagement.

Ask yourself who has more to gain, or lose, from the discrediting of the Supreme Court, and you’ll know the answer to who has more to gain or lose from this fight.

MAD DUCK: Obama Issued A Massive Ammunition Ban Just One Day Before He Left Office.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, an Obama appointee, ordered a new ammunition ban for certain federal lands on Thursday–his last full day in office.

The ban, which took effect immediately, eliminates the use of lead-based ammunition on federal lands like national parks and wildlife refuges, as well as any other land administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service.The ban is expected to have a major impact on much of the hunting that takes place on federal lands across the United States as lead-based ammunition is widely legal and used throughout the country.

Ashe said the order was necessary to protect wildlife from exposure to lead.

President Trump can and should reverse this order.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. BuzzFeed undermines all journalists with Trump ‘dossier.’ “In crossing one of the few lines left for mainstream news outlets, a demand for some level of verification, BuzzFeed could not have given Trump better ammunition with which to vilify the press as dishonest, biased and all the other claims he makes in trying to inoculate himself against valid criticism.” Yeah, well, being dishonest, biased, etc. will do that. I mean, after Rathergate and Journolist, none of this is a surprise, but they just get lamer and more obvious with each iteration.

HACKING: Five things to watch for in Russia hearings.

Here’s one:

What evidence does the IC have that Putin wanted to assist Trump?

The CIA reportedly believes that Russia was explicitly trying to help Trump — raising politically explosive questions about the degree to which it succeeded.

Publicly, the administration has been much more circumspect.

“President Obama and this administration is 100 percent certain in the role that Russia played in trying to sow discord and confusion and getting involved, through the cyber domain, in our electoral process,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told CNN Tuesday.

Reports of the CIA’s stronger assessment are based on anonymous leaks to a number of publications.

The leaks have given ammunition to critics who say the Obama administration is trying to undercut Trump before he takes office on Jan. 20.

“There are real questions about why there have been so many leaks over the last seven or eight weeks from the administration about the motivations or the intentions of Vladimir Putin or other foreign leaders,” Cotton said Tuesday.

While we’re at it, let Senate committee ask about the truth of the information released by Wikileaks, and get that on the record.

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Army Abrams Tanks to Control Robotic Attack Drones.

Algorithms are progressing to the point wherein they will be able to allow an Abrams tank crew to operate multiple nearby “wing-man” robotic vehicles in a command and control capacity while on the move in combat.

Army researchers, engineers and weapons developers are preparing to prototype some of these possibilities for future Abrams tanks, Maj. Gen. David Bassett, Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, told Scout warrior in an interview.

“As I look to the future and I think about game-changing technologies, manned-unmanned teaming is a big part of that. There’s a set of things that we think could be really transformational,” Bassett said.

This kind of dynamic could quickly change the nature of landwar.

Autonomous or semi-autonomous robotic vehicles flanking tanks in combat, quite naturally, could bring a wide range of combat-enhancing possibilities. Ammunition-carrying robotic vehicles could increase the fire-power of tanks while in combat more easily; unmanned platforms could also carry crucial Soldier and combat supplies, allowing an Abrams tank to carry a larger payload of key combat supplies.

All that’s lacking is repairbots and refuelbots, and the ability to swap out tired human crews for fresh ones — and you’d have an armored formation able to fight nearly 24/7, denying the other side the ability to rest.

Either that, or one heck of a big reason for Skynet to smile.

ISRAELI AMBASSADOR: Iran is smuggling weapons to Hezbollah on commercial flights.

UN Ambassador Danny Danon sent an urgent letter to the Security Council members in which he revealed the smuggling route from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to Hezbollah: “The Iranian Al-Quds Force packs weapons, ammunition and missile technology to Hezbollah in suitcases and puts them on Mahan Air flights.”

Danon added that “these planes fly directly to the airport in Lebanon or Damascus and from there the weapons are transferred on the ground to Hezbollah.”

The UN envoy wrote that “Iran continues to violate Security Council resolutions, including Resolutions 1701 and 2231.” Iran arms terrorist organizations in the Middle East and works to undermine stability in the entire region, he added.

You’d think this is the kind of thing which might have come up in President Obama’s years-long negotiations with the mullah’s regime.

PROCUREMENT: The Army’s More Lethal M1A2 SEP v4 Abrams Tank Variant Will Start Testing in the 2020s.

This ECP 1 effort also initiates the integration of upgraded ammunition data links and electronic warfare devices such as the Counter Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Device – Electronic Warfare – CREW. An increased AMPs alternator is also part of this upgrade, along with Ethernet cables designed to better network vehicle sensors together.

The Abrams is also expected to get an advanced force-tracking system which uses GPS technology to rapidly update digital moving map displays with icons showing friendly and enemy force positions.

The system, called Joint Battle Command Platform, uses an extremely fast Blue Force Tracker 2 Satcom network able to reduce latency and massively shorten refresh time. Having rapid force-position updates in a fast-moving combat circumstance, quite naturally, could bring decisive advantages in both mechanized and counterinsurgency warfare.

The M1 Abrams may well be the most lethal, survivable, and adaptable land weapons platform ever devised. Increasing its networking capabilities — the key to modern weaponry and warfare — ought to be a no-brainer.

POLITICO: Hill Republicans raring to investigate Clinton from Day One.

If the GOP wins either or both chambers of Congress next week, and Clinton takes the White House, she’s likely to come under investigation by Capitol Hill from Day One, or possibly before she’s even sworn in. FBI Director James Comey’s recent decision to revisit the probe of her email setup, and an assortment of Justice sources who’ve leaked to the press since Friday, have armed GOP lawmakers with more than enough ammunition to rev up their own investigations, say Republican sources on Capitol Hill.

The dynamic could sour relations between Clinton and Capitol Hill from the get-go, dousing any hope of even a brief honeymoon for Clinton should she defeat Donald Trump next week.

Why should a full-court investigation be contingent on her winning?

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Army Abrams Tanks to Control Robotic Attack Drones.

“As I look to the future and I think about game-changing technologies, manned-unmanned teaming is a big part of that. There’s a set of things that we think could be really transformational,” Bassett said.

This kind of dynamic could quickly change the nature of landwar.

Autonomous or semi-autonomous robotic vehicles flanking tanks in combat, quite naturally, could bring a wide range of combat-enhancing possibilities. Ammunition-carrying robotic vehicles could increase the fire-power of tanks while in combat more easily; unmanned platforms could also carry crucial Soldier and combat supplies, allowing an Abrams tank to carry a larger payload of key combat supplies.

Also, perhaps of greatest significance, an unmanned vehicle controlled by an Abrams tank could fire weapons at an enemy while allowing the tank to operate at a safer, more risk-reducing stand-off range.

The important question is whether such technology could be reduced enough in size to fit in the back of a midsize SUV, like one might find in my garage.

SHOT: NPR CELEBRATES TUPAC SHAKUR’S ‘PRO-FEMINIST,’ ‘PRO-CHOICE’ LEGACY.

NewsBusters, yesterday.

Chaser:

When Bing died, most Americans knew he was the guy who sang “White Christmas”. Elvis? “Heartbreak Hotel”. Lennon? “Imagine”. But 2Pac is a model of contemporary shortcut celebrity: he became a household name without ever having had a household song. First, he was famous for sexual assault; next, he was famous for being shot; now, he’s famous for being dead. His latest album, the prophetically titled All Eyez On Me shot (as we say) from 69 on the Billboard album chart to 18. Twenty years ago in Britain, a guy called Pete Wingfield had a hit single called “Eighteen With a Bullet” — a reference to Billboard’s practice of highlighting fast-selling records with the aforementioned ammunition. Poor old Tupac is the first guy on the Hit Parade to be literally 18 with a bullet.

—Mark Steyn from Mark Steyn’s Passing Parade: Obituaries & Appreciations expanded edition, 2014.

Hangover, and/or Exit Question: Why Aren’t Social Justice Warriors Trying to Ruin Hip Hop?

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Watchdogs warn of ‘serious’ conflicts of interest for Clinton Foundation.

Donald Trump is not the only voice sounding the alarm over conflicts of interest surrounding Hillary Clinton’s namesake nonprofit.

Government watchdog groups — all of them champions of heightened transparency, campaign finance reform and other Democratic priorities — are also warning of potentially “very serious” conflicts of interest if the Clinton Foundation continues as business as usual with Clinton in the White House.

The transparency advocates are not calling for the foundation to shut its doors, as Trump has done from the campaign trail. But they are urging the adoption of tough new firewalls to eliminate any perception that Clinton Foundation donors could use their wallets to gain undue access to a Hillary Clinton White House.

“The Clinton Foundation has posed a very serious conflict of interest for the entire time that it’s existed,” Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen, said Thursday. “The conflicts of interest are very real, and that gives Trump some ammunition to throw at it, and we’re going to hear about it [until the campaign ends].”

Holman said Clinton’s recent vow to bar all foreign and corporate donations to the Clinton Foundation if she wins the presidency is “a big, big step in the right direction.” But, he quickly added, that alone is not enough to eliminate the “pay to play” perceptions now dogging the Clinton campaign following revelations that top State Department aides acted on the foundation’s behalf when Clinton headed the agency.

To do that, he said, the Clintons will have to snip all family ties to the foundation, including the removal of Chelsea Clinton from the group’s board — a step the Clinton team said it’s not ready to take.

They’ll do nothing, because they can get away with anything. And rubbing your noses in it is half the fun.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Clinton Is Making Her Trust Problem Worse.

Bloomberg’s left-leaning Al Hunt:

Her inadequate response to the conflicts of interest inherent in the Clinton Foundation,” the influential liberal columnist Jonathan Chait wrote last week in New York magazine, shows she “has not fully grasped the severity of her reputational problem.” He added, “If the Clinton Foundation is not leveraging the Clinton name, it has no purpose.”

At the same time, I spoke with a prominent Clinton insider, a person of integrity and high ethical standards. He said shutting the Clinton Foundation would hurt millions of people around the world and would be giving in to right-wing critics who will find something else to seize on.

I agree that right-wingers like Representative Jason Chaffetz, Senator Tom Cotton or former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — who seemed to grant himself a medical degree last week when he ludicrously diagnosed Clinton with health problems — will find something. Much of it will be phony.

That is no reason to give them ammunition. Politifact and Jonathan Chait are not part of what Clinton once famously called the “vast right wing conspiracy.”

It’s a safe prediction that Clinton will continue to hand out ammunition.

THE POWER TO TAX IS THE POWER TO DECARBONATE: Soda Consumption Falls After Special Tax in California City.

The peer-reviewed research is the first to measure the impact of the penny-per-ounce tax. It found that consumption declined 21% and many residents switched to water after the tax went into effect in March 2015, according to the study published online in the American Journal of Public Health.

The study states that the results “suggest’’ that the tax lowered consumption but acknowledged other factors also could have been at play, including increased awareness about the health impact of sugary drinks.

The American Beverage Association, an industry group, said the Berkeley study has flaws and there is no indication the tax has had a measurable impact on public health. Street surveys relying on people’s recollections are “inherently unreliable,” said Brad Williams, an economist who does consulting work for the association.

Even so, the study is likely to provide ammunition to public-health officials pushing for similar levies in other parts of the country.

Nanny-staters gotta nanny state.

CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: ‘Veto Gunmageddon’ Wants to Pick Off 7 New California Gun Laws.

Veto Gunmageddon launched separate petition drives against each of the seven laws on Aug. 12. The petitions ask for ballot referendums that would ask voters in November to repeal the laws.

Six of the gun control laws in Bahrami’s sights were signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) July 1. The seventh was signed July 22. Brown vetoed five others that he felt should be decided by voters.

The new laws that Veto Gunmageddon wants to stop cover assault weapons, ammunition sales and the registration of guns “personally manufactured or assembled,” along with new regulations regarding lost, stolen, or borrowed firearms.

“My goal in signing these bills is to enhance public safety by tightening our existing laws in a responsible and focused manner while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” Gov. Brown wrote in his signing message.

Amanda Wilcox, a lobbyist with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told the New York Times she especially liked one of the bills. It requires background checks for ammunition purchases.

“It can give us a handle on who has illegal guns in the state, as well as limiting access to ammunition by dangerous people who may have illegal guns,” she said.

Brandon Combs, president of the Firearms Policy Coalition, certainly doesn’t see any of the legislation as being positive.

He described the measures signed by Brown as “constitutionally-illegitimate laws passed by a patently illegitimate government that had the audacity to attack and criminalize millions of its own people in Stalin-esque fashion.”

Read the whole thing.

Absent serious and effective pushback from groups like Veto Gunmageddon, California will soon achieve that Progressive paradise, where everything not compulsory is forbidden.

A HATE CRIME IN BRISTOL, TENNESSEE?

The suspect in a fatal Bristol shooting may have been motivated by recent police shootings, investigators revealed on Friday. But, authorities said the work to investigate remains active and ongoing. . . .

Officials said the suspect, Lakeem Keon Scott, had at least two weapons and a large amount of ammunition with him when he fired shots around 2:20 a.m. Thursday through the window of the Days Inn on Volunteer Parkway.

Investigators determined Scott shot the clerk, then indiscriminately began shooting at several vehicles driving by on the highway.

When police arrived on scene, he shot at three officers. They returned fire and shot him, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Scott was taken to the hospital where, as of Friday afternoon, he is in serious but stable condition.

Investigators said preliminary info revealed Scott may have targeted officers and individuals because he was troubled by recent incidents involving police and African-Americans.

If you have a carry permit but don’t carry regularly, it might be a good time to start.

CALIFORNIA WILL NOW REQUIRE AN ID AND BACKGROUND CHECK FOR AMMUNITION PURCHASES, BUT…

(Wait for it!)

Not to vote.

(H/T: Cary Cheshire.)

OMAR MATEEN’S PARADE OF THE RED FLAGS.

Better dead than rude.

Related: “On April 5, Mateen ‘quit-claimed’ the deed on his Port St. Lucie, Fla., house, signing it over to his sister, Sabrina Abasin, and his brother-in-law Mustafa Abasin for just $10 according to county property records.  The records list his wife Noor Salman as a witness in the curious real estate transaction.”

More: “Robert Abell, a co-owner of Lotus Gunworks in Jensen Beach, Florida, told ABC News today that a man entered the store five or six weeks ago and asked specific questions about high-end body armor. When employees said the store didn’t carry the body armor he wanted, Abell said, the man made a phone call in a foreign language, hung up and then asked about ammunition in bulk.”

RESET: NATO ministers approve expanded aid package for Ukraine.

The package includes “projects on countering hybrid warfare and booby traps and other explosive devices, as well as strategic communications,” but the story doesn’t mention anything about sending rifles, ammunition, or antitank weapons.

FEDS HAVE NO IDEA IF OR HOW MANY FIREARMS HAVE BEEN STOLEN FROM U.S. PRISON ARMORIES: Officials at the federal Bureau of Prisons operate 120 armories containing handguns, rifles, ammunition, and incapacitating chemical agents – think tear gas – all of which could be useful to domestic terrorists.

The problem is, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group’s Katie Watson, government officials likely have no clue where any of these items are at any given time. Here’s why: The BOP inventory control system is “neither complete nor accurate” and lacks data for “tracking product movement,” which increases “the risk that armory munitions and equipment could be lost or stolen,” an inspector general report notes.

Watson said the IG investigation was prompted in 2011 after a BOP employee pleaded guilty to stealing munitions from a federal prison facility, but changes made since 2011 by BOP have not remedied the problem. U.S. prisons have been hotbeds of Muslim recruiting for decades.

A CIVIL RIGHTS MILESTONE: Last Handgun Ban In An American Jurisdiction Struck Down As Unconstitutional. “The court also strikes down the ban on importing handguns, because the ban makes handguns essentially unavailable: ‘In the Commonwealth, the import ban on handguns can only operate as a sales ban on a constitutionally protected product. The import ban on handguns and their ammunition is unconstitutional and violates the Covenant; Defendants will be enjoined from enforcing it.’ And it agrees with the parties that, if the handgun ban is unconstitutional (as it is), it can’t be applied to lawful permanent residents any more than to citizens, since the 14th Amendment has been understood as generally prohibiting state discrimination based on citizenship (and thus, under the Commonwealth Charter, discrimination by the commonwealth).”

ONLY TRAINED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS SHOULD BE TRUSTED WITH GUNS, GERMAN EDITION: An accidental discharge ruined the Bremerhaven police department’s plan to demonstrate its firearms on Tuesday, as the stray bullet wounded a local journalist in the thigh.

Meanwhile, the head of the police department called an emergency press conference to apologize.

“This kind of thing should not happen”, he said, adding that the weapon ought to have been unloaded when the officer demonstrated it.

All the weapons shown to the journalist have been secured and no ammunition was found in any of them, he went on.

“It’s beyond my understanding why this happened,” he said.

Well, actually, I have a pretty good idea.

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: U.S. Marines Pre-Positioning Tanks, Ammunition In Secret Norway Caves Against Russian Invasion. “In 2015, it was revealed that Russia rehearsed military takeovers of northern Norway, the Swedish island of Gotland and the Danish island of Bornholm.”

Related: U.S. Sends 5,000 Tons Of Ammunition To Germany. “Recent moves in response to Russia’s sending troops into Ukraine have seen the US reverse some of its gradual reduction in numbers in Europe, especially Germany where it has had large bases since the end of the Second World War.”

WHAT KIND OF SUPREME COURT NOMINEE WILL OBAMA SELECT? “Obama says he will defy GOP, nominate Scalia replacement,” the Washington Examiner reports.

As Paul Mirengoff writes at Power Line, “I think that President Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Scalia will be dead on arrival at the Senate, regardless of whom Obama selects. I suspect that Obama will reach the same conclusion. If so, Obama will select the person whose rejection will provide Democrats with the most political ammunition.”

One of Bernie Sanders’ chief inspirations once advised sharpening the contradictions, a notion that Obama has built his whole toxic career on.

EVERYTHING HE’S DONE ON GUN CONTROL MAKES SENSE NOW: “Barack Obama might seem an unlikely investor in the firearms industry. But the U.S. president, a fierce advocate for gun regulation, has money in a pension fund that holds stock in gun and ammunition companies.”

I wish I’d bought Ruger and S&W stock in 2009.

LESSONS UNLEARNED:

Shot: “When South Vietnam fell…the North captured a treasure trove of American tanks, trucks and other equipment sitting in warehouses.”

“Lessons of Vietnam — How to avoid a repeat, and why it’s crucial to do so,” Brendan Miniter, the Wall Street Journal, January 2, 2007

Chaser: “According to Reuters, the U.S.-made weaponry that fell into enemy hands including 2,300 Humvee armored vehicles, at least 40 M1A1 main battle tanks, 74,000 machine guns, and as many as 52 M198 howitzer mobile gun systems, plus small arms and ammunition.”

“U.S. Shoots Itself In the Foot By Accidentally Arming ISIS,” the Fiscal Times, June 4th, 2015.

To be fair, “accidentally” is a perfectly cromulent substitute for the adverb “unexpectedly.”

 

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: The China Bubble: It’s probably bursting, one way or another. And the world hasn’t figured out what to do about it.

China’s slowdown is having knock-on effects around the world. Here at TAI, we have been following the commodity crash story for some time—and not just as a piece of economic news mostly interesting to financial market speculators. This is a political and a geopolitical story as well. Falling commodity prices matter to everything from the security of Putin’s power base to the ability of the oil-dependent Nigerian state to wage an effective war against Boko Haram; the fate of democracy in countries like Brazil and South Africa is complicated by the prospective fallout from the commodity crash; Venezuela may implode into chaos as a result of the oil crash, and fears for Venezuela’s future were a major consideration in Cuba’s decision to respond to the Obama Administration’s normalization overtures. In other words, significant shifts in world commodity prices can tilt the balance of power, undermine the stability of some governments, and boost the prospects of others.
But the story may be getting still bigger. We may be looking at something more serious than the unwinding of a commodity boom; we may be looking at the bursting of a bubble that could dwarf what happened in 2008. The China Bubble is bigger than the real estate bubble, and its liquidation could pose bigger risks for world politics than the subprime implosion.

There’s a difference between China and the China Bubble. China is a middle-income developing country bumping up against the limits of a growth model built on massive exports of manufactured goods. There are lots of bubbles inside China, largely because both national and local governments have pursued a mix of stimulative policies even as the health of the underlying growth model deteriorated. Massive over-investment in real estate, infrastructure and manufacturing capacity, overvalued stock prices and poorly priced financial assets have created an increasingly toxic and dangerous economic situation inside China, and a rattled government is doing its best to keep the system from imploding. The government is hoping to achieve a ‘soft landing’ as China switches away from growth led by manufacturing for export to growth led by services and internal consumption. We shall see; China’s regulators and managers are skilled and have a lot of ammunition. But this is a difficult maneuver to execute and as Chinese society and the Chinese economy both become more complex, the task of running the country keeps getting harder.

The China Bubble on the other hand is an international phenomenon. All over the world, the producers of commodities and manufactured goods have bought into the idea that Chinese demand is a perpetual growth machine.

Something that can’t go on forever, won’t.

CRACKS IN THE LIBERAL ORDER, as spotted by Ross Douthat:

Europe’s extremes gained, in part, because in 2015 the center was unusually feckless. Angela Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s borders to a million Middle Eastern refugees earned her the praise of her globalist peers. But it also pushed a fast-forward button on long-term trends threatening the liberal project in Europe — the challenge of Islam, the pressure of migration from Africa, the danger of backlash in countries with little experience of mass assimilation.

In the process, Merkel handed ammunition to the argument, expressed in artistic form in Michel Houellebecq’s novel “Submission,” that late-modern liberalism might have a certain tendency toward suicide. And she did so at a moment when both the Islamic State and Vladimir Putin’s Russia were supplying evidence that the liberal project can be at least temporarily defied.

Yes, ISIS probably won’t endure, and Putin’s ambitions exceed his grasp. But by pulling volunteers from Western countries and inspiring terrorists from Paris to San Bernardino, the would-be caliphate has provided a new template for revolts against modernity. And by playing power politics in his near abroad and the Middle East, Putin has helped make the Pax Americana look more fragile than at any point since 1989.

Putin’s had plenty of help from Obama, Kerry, and Hillary making the Pax Americana look fragile, of course, and I’m not sure why a CTL-F brings up no mention of Obama in Douthat’s otherwise pretty good essay. But it’s easy to be overlooked when you’re a semi-retired president who’s kicking back, chillaxing, and counting down the days until you can hit the rubber foie gras circuit and really cash in.

In the meantime, as Scott Johnson writes at Power Line, “Cry, the Schlonged Country.”

SHOT: Senior Obama officials have warned of challenges in screening refugees from Syria.

Chaser: Homeless Man Allegedly Lived In Army Barracks As Soldier For 8 Months:

“For the last 8 months, a civilian with a fake [common access] card has been living in the [Special Forces Group] temp barracks claiming to be an [explosive ordinance disposal] tech,” the post says. “So embedded he was, that he had been dropping new privates off at in-processing.”

The fake soldier (whose name remains unknown) was apparently a popular man around the base. “[He] was instantly a friend to everyone,” was skilled at dominoes, and he “knew all the cool places in Fayetteville,” the post notes. It’s unclear whether other special forces members were aware the man was a fraud.

The man was caught driving under the influence Tuesday, and his story began to fall apart. Military police searched his room, reportedly discovering stolen army equipment (including rifle ammunition and a uniform), along with “a large cache of DVD porn.” The man even reportedly had a roster full of soldiers’ personal information.

Shades of the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer keeps showing up for work at a company that never hired him, meets any number of M*A*S*H episodes.

On a more serious note, “CNN is reporting that an alleged ISIS supporter has been indicted on charges that he had planned to attack last year’s Super Bowl with pipe bombs…Abdul Malik Abdul Kareem had previously been indicted on charges of arming and training the two men who were killed by security when they fired on Pamela Gellar’s ‘Draw Muhammad’ art contest in Garland, Texas, in May.”

If Kareem’s alleged attack on the Super Bowl had been successful, would CNN be claiming that NFL fans totally had it coming, as they did when the network interviewed Geller?

I WAS EXPECTING AN EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM: Earthquake Monitors Used To Decode Massive Ammunition Explosion.

YOU STAY CLASSY, CNN:

Washington (CNN) Ted Cruz obtained new ammunition Tuesday to shoot at his favorite bogeyman, the mainstream media, after The Washington Post depicted his two young daughters as monkey-like characters doing the bidding of their father.

Beyond the “monkey-like characters” weasel words, nice eliminationist rhetoric there. This from the network where in January 2011, in the immediate wake of the shooting of Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, Republican-appointed Federal Judge John Roll and 17 others, anchor John King “issued a prompt on-air apology minutes after a guest on his program used the term ‘crosshairs’ during a segment: ‘We’re trying to get away from using that kind of language.'”

Feel free to start anytime, fellas.

CBS NEWS: Data dispute rips open Democrats’ race before debate.

There’s a civil war inside the Democratic Party.

Hillary Clinton is accusing Bernie Sanders’ campaign of theft, saying the Vermont senator’s aides stole millions of dollars’ worth of voter data held by the Democratic National Committee.

The breach of information led to a suspension for the Sanders campaign, which then sued the DNC, but late Friday night, a deal was reached to clear up the mess ahead of Saturday night’s Democratic debate.

CBS News’ Julianna Goldman reports this dispute has laid bare tensions between the DNC and the Sanders campaign that had been simmering for months.

The Sanders campaign is accusing party officials of trying to undermine his campaign and to help Clinton.

Well, that’s because they are. I think Bernie should mount an independent run.

UPDATE: And I guess Hillary’s worried about that too: DNC, Sanders Reach Deal Restoring Access To Voter Data.

Related: Dem Rivalry Takes Nasty Turn.

The long-simmering notion among many grassroots liberals that the national party is in the tank for Hillary Clinton spilled into public view on Friday, as a nasty fight between Bernie Sanders and the Democratic National Committee tore into the open.

Some liberals have long held that the DNC’s sanctioning of fewer debates this cycle, with half of those debates taking place over a weekend, was an attempt by the national party to shield Clinton from scrutiny and ease the path to the nomination for the prohibitive front-runner.

But the Sanders campaign and supporting liberal activist groups didn’t start making that case publicly until Friday, when controversy erupted over the DNC’s handling of revelations that a Sanders staffer had been fired for inappropriately accessing Clinton voter files housed on a central party server.

Some Democrats believe that bringing the hammer down on Sanders — his campaign has been shut off from its own database of voter files until the situation is ironed out — hands grassroots liberals the ammunition they needed in a war they’ve been agitating for.

It’s clear that the DNC is just an arm of Hillary’s campaign.

CONGRATULATIONS TO PRESIDENT OBAMA, WHO RECENTLY SIGNED COMMON-SENSE GUN LEGISLATION (1) Preventing a ban on lead ammunition; (2) Creating a system for military members to carry guns on base; and (3) Allowing the sale of surplus military handguns to civilians. “Although the gun control debate is often polarized, Congress and President Obama have demonstrated that common-sense reforms are still possible. Kudos to them.”

FUNNY, WHEN REPUBLICANS WARNED ABOUT THIS A FEW WEEKS AGO, THEY WERE RACIST: ISIS has targeted refugee program to enter US, Homeland Security chairman says.

Intelligence officials have determined that Islamic extremists have explored using the refugee program to enter the United States, the head of the House Homeland Security Committee said on Monday.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) declined to go into detail about the determination, which the Obama administration has not announced publicly.

Yet the disclosure could add ammunition to critics of the White House’s refugee plans who have warned that the program is vulnerable to infiltration by adherents of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“ISIS members in Syria have attempted to exploit it to get into the United States,” McCaul said during a speech at the National Defense University.

“The U.S. government has information to indicate that individuals tied to terrorist groups in Syria have already attempted to gain access to our country through the U.S. refugee program.”

McCaul would not say specifically who informed him and other lawmakers about the revelation, only describing the sources as “elements of the intelligence community.”

“That was very courageous for them to come forward with this, to tell me about this personally, given the political debate on the Hill,” he added, suggesting that the news did not come from intelligence leaders.

The briefing happened “earlier this week,” McCaul said.

McCaul’s speech comes amid escalating concerns about Islamic extremism in the West, following the killings of 130 people in Paris and 14 in San Bernardino, Calif. The massacres have caused American fears about terrorism to spike, and left Congress grasping for a response.

President Obama has repeatedly pushed back against warnings that ISIS could attack the United States by sending over fighters as refugees.

Well, if Obama has been pushing back against these warnings, then you can take them to the bank. . . .

“A VERITABLE ARMORY:” The LAT reports:

Police discovered a veritable armory when they searched Farook and Malik’s Redlands home, recovering a dozen pipe bombs, 2,000 9-millimeter handgun rounds, 2,500 .223-caliber assault rifle rounds and “hundreds of tools” that could have been used to make additional explosive devices, Burguan said.

“Certainly they were equipped and they could have continued to do another attack … we intercepted them,” he said….

During a news conference Thursday, Burguan said the suspects had 1,400 assault rifle rounds and 200 handgun rounds in their car as they fled from police. The couple fired 76 rounds at officers during the shootout, and officers shot 380 rounds in return. Burguan said he believed the suspects shot first.

Despite uncertainty about the motive for the attack, Burguan said the cache of weapons and ammunition found at the couple’s home obviously suggests it was preplanned.

FWIW, I’m relying on the LAT reporters, who are treating this as a big local story to be taken step by step as information comes out rather than spun as quickly as possible to fit a pre-existing political narrative.

WORKPLACE VIOLENCE: Terror trail? Feds probe digital profile of SoCal massacre suspects. “The Muslim couple who stormed an office holiday party in Southern California Wednesday, gunning down 14 of his co-workers before dying hours later in a shootout with police, had a massive arsenal of guns, ammo and bombs in their nearby home, where authorities seized cell phones and computer drives that could contain evidence they were radicalized terrorists with more targets in their sights, authorities said. Local and federal authorities – as well as President Obama – continued Thursday to resist calling the carnage at a San Bernardino social services facility terrorism, even as evidence mounted that the pair, who wore tactical gear and moved with grim precision, may have been jihadists armed to the teeth and hellbent on slaughtering innocent Americans. More than 5,000 rounds of ammunition were later found in their home, which sources described as “an IED factory” packed with explosives and bomb-making equipment.”

To be fair, 5000 rounds of ammo is what we in Tennesssee call “a nice start.”

JIM GERAGHTY: So How Much of this ‘Hybrid’ Attack Was Jihadism?

Yesterday the country got the perfect Rorschach test of violence. People who want to downplay violent Islamist jiahdism and self-radicalization among American-born Muslims will see “workplace violence” or an excuse for another gun control push. Others will contend this is an Islamist sleeper cell, even if it isn’t formally set up by ISIS or al-Qaeda.

CNN summarizes what is known about Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik:

Police say Farook, 28, and Malik, 27, are either married or in a relationship. The Council on American Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, said Farook has been married for two years — but wouldn’t confirm whether Malik was the wife’s name.

Farook and his wife left their 6-month-old girl with Farook’s grandmother Wednesday and said they had a doctor’s appointment.

They abandoned their child? Okay, stop. This was not driven by a workplace dispute. To leave your infant child and then commit horrific violence that is likely to lead to your death from police action requires an almost otherworldly devotion to . . . some other cause, something you consider more important than life, death, and the inherent biological urge to protect your offspring. “Larry from accounting keeps taking the last doughnut at staff meetings” or “they took my red Swingline stapler” isn’t the sort of motive at work here.

What motivation have we seen that would make seemingly ordinary people go on mass-murdering attacks? What ideology or twisted religious fervor have we seen people willing to sacrifice their children for, willing to die for?

Plus, Jim quotes a report nothing the presence amidst the IEDs, and the “tactical clothing, including vests stuffed with ammunition magazines,” “the couple also had GoPro cameras strapped to their body armor.” As Jim adds, “That’s the sort of thing you bring if you want to make videos to terrorize other people, and rally others to their cause or ideology . . . it also would explain why they left the scene instead of staying to shoot it out with police at the social services facility. They intended to live to tell the tale, at least for a while.”

Read the whole thing.

THEN: JFK GRIMLY WARNING OF AMERICAN ICBM “MISSILE GAP” IN EXISTENTIAL STRUGGLE KNOWN AS THE COLD WAR.

Now: Byron York: U.S. ran out of ammo in attack on ISIS trucks:

It was an extraordinary opportunity to take out somewhere between one-quarter and one-third of the Islamic State’s entire truck fleet. And after destroying 116, the Americans ran out of ammunition. The remaining 184 trucks were not destroyed.

Beyond the out-of-ammo problem, reporters raised the issue of the U.S. forces’ extreme care in avoiding civilian casualties. If American forces won’t hit any target if there is any fear that any non-ISIS person might be harmed, might that not prolong the time it takes to destroy the Islamic State, which is killing civilians right and left?

“Is there a Catch-22 about not striking civilians and avoiding civilian casualties when, over the past year, the $50 million in oil revenue generated has been going to killing a large number of civilians?” a reporter asked. “Is there any risk that avoiding civilian casualties is actually prolonging more civilian casualties?”

That was a very thoughtful question, Warren conceded, and an issue American war planners think about constantly. But Warren didn’t have an answer. “It’s something that we wrestle with every day,” he said.

Read the whole thing.

SHOCKINGLY, NO: Do Ammunition Background Check Laws Reduce Murder Rates?

AMMUNITION HAS COME A LONG WAY IN THE PAST COUPLE OF DECADES: FBI Switching Back To 9mm.

ROLL CALL: Senate Economist Warns Debt Limit Fight Could Raise Interest Rates.

The White House push for a debt limit hike got some ammunition Friday from the chief economist for the Senate Budget Committee, who warned failure to increase the limit soon could cause interest rates to rise on newly issued federal debt.

In a budget bulletin, economist William Beach, who formerly worked at the Heritage Foundation, warns the nation risks higher borrowing costs if it even gets close to exhausting the extraordinary measures used to avoid hitting the debt limit, now pegged by Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew as occurring on or about Nov. 5, about a month earlier than expected.

The new date has the effect of making it a must-do item for outgoing Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, as he goes about cleaning up a “dirty barn” for his successor. Options for Boehner include passing a straight-up debt limit hike, attaching it to a must-pass deal on transportation due by the end of the month, or some other combination. Tying it to anything opposed by President Barack Obama risks a default crisis given that Obama has repeatedly warned he will not pay a ransom again after agreeing to hand Boehner north of $2 trillion in spending cuts for a debt limit hike in 2011.

Even a momentary failure to pay the nation’s debts could cause long-term increases in borrowing costs, Beach said, warning a mere technical error in 1979 caused a 60-basis-point hike in interest rates that persisted for nearly a year.

I dunno, these days it seems as if nothing can increase interest rates. But if interest rates do go up, it’ll help relieve the Senior Squeeze.

SHOCKER: Study: All-male Marine units outperform squads with women. “All-male ground combat units in the Marines were faster, more lethal and less injured than units with mixed genders, according to a Marine Corps study that looked at integrating women into all service jobs. . . . The study found all-male squads were faster in each tactical movement than those with both genders, according to the summary. The differences were greater when they were carrying heavy weapons and ammunition. Also, all-male rifle groups had better accuracy than integrated squads, according to the summary. And women had more injuries such as stress fractures.” Women bring a lot to the table in some capacities — Civil Affairs units, for example, which are very important — but for all-out combat few are up to par.

That’s no disgrace — I certainly don’t have what it takes to be a combat Marine — but it’s a fact.

AUSTIN BAY: Terror and Surprise on the Paris Express.

Islamist terrorist Ayoub El Khazzani managed to evade security agency surveillance in at least five countries. Despite strict Belgian and French gun- and ammunition-control laws, not only did Khazzani acquire an AK-47 assault rifle, but when the moment came to wage armed jihad, he successfully evaded rail station security and slipped his AK with 200 rounds of ammo on board an elite trans-European express.

Wait, police spokesmen are wont to say, in a free society the cops can’t be everywhere all the time. Too true. And when targeting free societies, terrorists bank on it. Concealed in the open may be an oxymoron. Yet terrorists do conceal themselves in open societies by passing as peaceful members of that society.

Khazzani passed as peaceful. He intended to surprise the train passengers, and he did, sort of. Reliance on surprise makes terror attacks a type of ambush. By definition, in an ambush, attackers strike from concealed positions. In a military ambush, where soldiers ambush soldiers, the attackers must remain concealed until the second they trigger the ambush. If surprise is lost and the ambush is discovered, the ambushers lose their advantage.

Khazzani muffed the transition from concealment to attack. A French banker, identified as Damien A., saw him in a lavatory with his weapon. He grabbed at Khazzani. Khazzani ran into the rail car where passenger Mark Moogalian (an American living in France) accosted him.

Now Khazzani is targeting unarmed civilians. Blown ambush? Shouting? No problem. He has firepower. He shot Moogalian.

But other passengers had more surprises. Instead of cowering, they responded heroically. First one, U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, got to Khazzani, and then a second, and then four were on him. He could not aim the weapon. In the hand-to-hand struggle, he pulled a pair of box cutters and wounded Stone. He drew a pistol. But Stone’s friends, Oregon Army National Guard Specialist Alek Skarlatos and California college student Anthony Sadler, kept battering him. British businessman Chris Norman joined the fight. They disarmed and pinned Khazzani. To emphasize his disapproval, Skarlatos used the AK’s muzzle to make repetitive metal impressions on Khazzani’s head. Did the message get through? Khazzani was a finger twitch from eternity.

The en masse quick physical assault on Khazzani was somewhat like a tactic the military calls an instantaneous counterattack on a close-in ambush. In the ambush’s kill zone, the defenders have little chance, and so they instantly turn and assault the ambushers. Penetrating the ambush positions brings the battle to the ambushers. In the resulting melee, the ambushers lose the advantage of surprise.

It takes confident, trained and well-led combat units to respond that coolly and cohesively. But the comparison is instructive. . . . Can you train people to respond en masse to a terrorist attack? Sure. Group action by unarmed civilians can stop a lone gunman. A suicide bomber is another matter. Best be in a state that allows people to carry personal firearms. But an effective group response to any threat requires leadership, and in most situations, that means leadership by example. On the Paris express, I count five examples of leadership. One leader jostled in the lavatory. One gave warning. Three struck in a pack. Norman had the guts to follow. Free people in free societies can surprise you.

Read the whole thing.

WELL, THEY’RE MARINES AFTER ALL: Unarmed US Marines avert high-speed train massacre by ‘taking down’ Kalashnikov-wielding gunman who injured three ‘including one Briton’ onboard service between Amsterdam and Paris. “A crazed gunman, who opened fire with an assault rifle onboard a high-speed train was detained by a group of US Marines who were travelling on the service. The man is understood to have been overheard loading the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle in the toilet by the un-armed Marines. Three people were injured when the man, believed to be a 26-year-old Moroccan, opened fire. As well as an assault rifle, he had at least six magazines with almost 200 rounds of ammunition. He was also carrying a knife.” Yeah, but they were Marines, so it still wasn’t really fair.

AMMUNITION: The Collected Unwisdom And Nitwittery Of Bernie Sanders.  I shudder that this is needed.  I shudder at everyone who is taking this crackpot seriously.  But I learned from 08 that no candidate is too ridiculous for the left to push.

IT’S ONLY MONEY: Hillary Clinton Proposes Debt-Free Tuition at Public Colleges: Plan, which would cost $350 billion over 10 years, is way for Democratic front-runner to woo young voters and provides ammunition against surging Bernie Sanders.

It’s a vote-buying scheme that also rewards the higher education industry, perhaps the Democratic Party’s largest source of donations and foot soldiers.

That said, notice this, where she adopts some proposals that I’ve been pushing for quite a while:

In another bipartisan signal, Mrs. Clinton also is calling for colleges to be held liable for aid when their students default on loans, an idea that has gained traction among members of both parties as a way to control costs. . . .

In addition, public universities would be required to spend the new money on instruction and learning, as opposed to administration or the student experience, such as building new athletic facilities. To address concerns that universities could game that requirement through creative accounting, new rules would ensure a certain portion of total spending is directed to instruction, officials said. States and colleges would be encouraged to come up with innovative cost savings, such as offering more online classes.

This addresses a common concern from members of both parties that if the government gives schools more student aid without reforms, the cost of education will simply rise. . . .

Hillary, you magnificent bastard, you read my book! I don’t think she really means to follow through with this, but hypocrisy is the tribute, yada yada.

Nonetheless, Dan Mitchell’s critique is on-point: Hillary Clinton’s Plan To Increase The Cost Of College.

DEMOCRATS IN DISARRAY: The Hill: $15 Minimum Wage Divides Democrats.

Democrats are divided on how much to lift the nation’s minimum wage, an issue that has long united the party.

Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is pushing to raise the federal wage from its current $7.25 an hour to $15. But budget experts warn such a hike could eliminate millions of U.S. jobs.

What’s the problem? Eliminate jobs, create new welfare-dependent Democratic voters! But wait, there’s more:

Many liberals on and off Capitol Hill have embraced the $15 figure, seeing it as an important remedy for addressing the nation’s growing income disparity. Democratic leaders, however, have been reluctant to back it, rallying instead around smaller increases.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) want to push the minimum wage to $12 per hour. President Obama has edged his support to higher levels in recent years, from $9 to $10.10 and now $12. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, backed $15 per hour for New York fast-food workers on Friday but hasn’t specified a wage floor for the nation.

The various positions underscore the tightrope party leaders are walking on the minimum wage increase, a concept highly popular among voters.

Unlike prior battles with Democrats on the issue, Republicans have significant ammunition in this fight. They point out that raising the minimum wage would mean lost jobs.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Congress’s official score-keeper, issued a report last year estimating that, while an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 would hike incomes for roughly 16.5 million workers, it would leave another 500,000 unemployed.

A former CBO director said this week that a hike to $15 per hour would eliminate “many more jobs … because it would cut much further into the distribution of wages.”

“The effect is not linear, it rises much faster,” said the ex-CBO chief, who requested anonymity.

Pandering to low-information voters is hard to resist. Then blame the consequences on greedy Republicans.

I THINK ONE OF MY GUESTBLOGGERS MENTIONED THIS WHILE I WAS ON VACATION, but here’s the latest: Judge dismisses lawsuit against Knoxville ammo company.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against a Knoxville ammunition company in connection with the 2012 Aurora, Colo., theater shooting and ordered plaintiffs to pay the company’s court costs.

Last week a jury convicted James Holmes of carrying out the attack.

Federal Judge Richard P. Matsch dismissed the case against Lucky Gunner LLC and other defendants and ordered that the plaintiffs pay Lucky Gunner legal costs of about $111,971.00. . . .

The suit, which was also supported by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, did not seek monetary damages, but demanded a change in some of the business practices of the defendant companies.

In his order to dismiss the case Matsch said the suit was filed for propaganda purposes.

“It is apparent that this case was filed to pursue the political purposes of the Brady Center and, given the failure to present any cognizable legal claim, bringing these defendants into the Colorado court where the prosecution of James Holmes was proceeding appears to be more of an opportunity to propagandize the public and stigmatize the defendants than to obtain a court order,” the judge’s order said.

The company has said it will donate the recovered legal fees to gun-rights organizations.

The company, LuckyGunner.com, was founded by a couple of my former law students. If you’re in the market for ammunition, you ought to give them a chance.

PLAN TO REQUIRE BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR AMMUNITION SALES QUIETLY SUSPENDED IN NEW YORK:

The administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo agreed on Friday to suspend a plan to require background checks on ammunition sales, putting in doubt part of the gun control law that he considers one of his proudest legacies.

The decision, which the administration did not publicize, was the result of an unusual deal the governor’s office reached with the State Senate’s Republican majority. The Senate’s Democratic minority and the speaker of the State Assembly condemned the move.

Yet another Friday afternoon news dump.

REPORT: UNITED AIRLINES PILOT DUMPS LIVE AMMO INTO PLANE’S TOILET:

A United Airlines captain reportedly disposed of live ammunition into a Boeing 767′s toilet en route to Germany from Houston on June 24. United Airlines refuses to comment on the incident.

The captain of United Airlines Flight 133 reportedly realized he had live ammunition in the cockpit, ammunition which could not be brought into Germany. His solution?

Leave the cockpit during the flight and dump it into the waste bin of the lavatory of the 767.

A flight attendant discovered the live ammunition in the waste bin and alerted… the captain.

No word yet if the pilot had…a fistful of travellers’ cheques, as well.

(Apologies for the incredibly obscure British comedy reference in that previous link.)

TSA CAN’T SPOT ORDINARY GUNS. SO WHAT’S THE RESPONSE? The Hill: Dems move to ban plastic guns.

Congressional Democrats are proposing to ban plastic guns following reports of major security lapses at the nation’s airports

Plastic guns that fire real bullets can be even more dangerous as traditional firearms, because they’re harder to detect, says Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.).

The Undectectable Firearms Modernization Act, backed by Israel and several other Democrats, would prohibit the manufacture of entirely plastic guns. The legislation would require a major component of every gun to contain enough traces of metal to be detected.

Israel plans to unveil the legislation Tuesday during a press conference at LaGuardia Airport in New York City, where he will draw a connection between his bill and recent high-profile airport security lapses.

The Transportation Security Administration failed a recent sting operation in which undercover agents snuck fake explosives and weapons through airport security in 67 out of 70 tests, or about 95 percent of the time.

Many of America’s busiest airports failed the tests.

In one test, a federal agent was able to sneak a fake bomb that was strapped to his back through security, even after he was subjected to a pat down.

The massive security failure led to the ouster last week of TSA acting administrator Melvin Carraway.

In light of the TSA security lapses, Israel and other Democrats say it is even more important to ban plastic guns.

They’re choosing this response so that they can claim they’re doing something while not imperiling the unionized, Democrat-voting jobs of incompetent federal employees.

Related: My piece on 3D-printed guns in Popular Mechanics.

The Liberator can be identified at security checkpoints because it contains a chunk of metal—in fact, that component’s only function is to set off metal detectors. This is required by a federal statute, renewed late last year, that bans guns that are undetectable. (Wilson’s gun was a prominent talking point in discussions of the bill.) Nonetheless, it would be possible for someone to manufacture a 3D-printed plastic gun that lacked that part. Such a gun would violate the law, and it wouldn’t be caught by a metal detector.

Well, actually, it probably would. That’s because while the gun might be all-plastic, the ammunition contains metal. Popular Mechanics researchers contacted the TSA, the FBI, and several ammunition and metal-detector companies trying to find out just how much metal it takes to set off an alarm at airport security. No one would cite a figure, but the sensitivity thresholds on the machines are set high enough (to avoid false alarms over zippers or metal buttons) that a single cartridge wouldn’t do it. A magazine containing, say, eight or more cartridges probably would.

And, of course, metal detectors aren’t the last word. In airports, at least, they’re kind of obsolete these days. More modern detectors, such as backscatter-X-ray or millimeter-wave-radar imagers—which look beneath people’s clothes—would detect a plastic gun regardless. So, for that matter, would a simple pat-down.

Well, assuming it were performed competently, which seems as if it’s not to be taken for granted. That — TSA incompetence — is the real problem, and the Democrats are just trying to distract from that. That’s the real story about this bill.

Related: Terror Links Found to 73 Workers in Secure U.S. Airport Jobs. “Investigators found 73 people were cleared by the Transportation Security Administration to work in sensitive jobs at U.S. airports despite possible links to terrorism in their backgrounds, according to a government report made public on Monday.”

Banning plastic guns won’t fix that either. But the Dems in Congress hope it may at least distract from it.

MEGAN MCARDLE: The Wages of Crying Sexism:

People who carelessly toss around the “s” word are trying to have things both ways: They want sexism to be something very, very bad that forces the refs to stop the action and pull you out of the game, and they also want to be able to level this charge at every minor verbal tic that might be sexist. Even if it might just be, you know, politics. In this and other contexts, this is not a bargain that a modern society will strike. If you make the punishments draconian, people will hesitate to apply them widely. This is true in law enforcement, and it is true of social sins as well. To claim “sexism” too often just robs the word of its power.

So if we want to keep the norm that sexism is very bad, we need to think twice about when we pull out those accusations. Before you shoot, remember that you’re not a movie hero with an unlimited supply of ammunition. You’re the guy with a single six shooter crouching behind the bar. You have to make every shot count. Aim carefully. When in doubt, hold your fire.

That would require self-discipline, which is not our ruling class’s strong suit. Also, your cowboy-gunfight metaphor is a microaggression.

NOT ALL ROCKERS ARE IDIOTS: The Who’s Pete Townshend: ISIS Makes It ‘Very Important That We keep Our Ammunition Ready.’

Hey, if you want to keep your ammunition ready, visit my former law students’ ammo company, LuckyGunner.com.

FIGHT THE POWER: TN Gov. Signs Bill Prohibiting State Cooperation with Fed Gun Control Laws. “Sponsored by Senator Richard Briggs (R-Dist. 7), SB 1110 ‘prohibits the use of any public funds, personnel, or property to enforce any federal law or regulation that regulates the ownership, use, or possession of firearms, ammunition, or firearms accessories.’ SB 1110 passed the house by a margin of 74 to 20 and the senate by a margin of 24 to 1.”

UPDATE: Michael Walsh emails: “Interesting to note historical parallel — this is exactly how some states responded to fed Prohibition law: by ignoring it and refusing to enforce. Certainly was true in NY state which, partly due to gangland influence, simply stopped cooperating with the feds on booze raids. In one famous case, as I learned when writing my Owney Madden novel, the NYPD tipped off Madden that the feds were going to raid his brewery on 10th ave. So he cleaned it up (it was the Phoenix Cereal Company) and had his crew take up all the parking spaces within blocks, so that when the feds got there they had to double-park. Then the NYPD came and ticketed and towed their illegally parked cars.”

Heh.

LET’S PAY WELFARE RECIPIENTS $2000 TO BE STERILIZED INSTEAD: Dems: Pay gun owners to hand over assault weapons.

Gun owners would receive tax breaks for voluntarily turning in high-powered assault rifles under new legislation proposed Monday.

The Support Assault Firearm Elimination and Education of our (SAFER) Streets Act expected to be reintroduced next week by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) would provide gun owners with an incentive to turn in their firearms to local police departments.

“Assault weapons are not about hunting, or even self-defense,” DeLauro said. “There is no reason on earth, other than to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible, that anyone needs a gun designed for a battlefield.”

Though DeLauro is in favor of stronger guns laws that would completely ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition, she emphasized this bill would not force gun owners to turn in their firearms.

The legislation would provide up to $2,000 in tax credits for gun owners who voluntarily hand over assault weapons to their local police departments.

Rosa DeLauro is, of course, an idiot, and this is just a bit of political grandstanding. But if I were a GOP member of Congress, I’d introduce the welfare-sterilization bill and model it very, very closely on this bill. I might even mention this bill in the preamble. . . .