Supreme Court turns away California gun case — state limits on concealed weapons stands

❝ The Supreme Court has rejected a major 2nd Amendment challenge to California’s strict limits on carrying concealed guns in public.

The justices by a 7-2 vote turned away an appeal from gun rights advocates who contended that most law-abiding gun owners in San Diego, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area were being wrongly denied permits to carry a weapon when they leave home.

The justices let stand a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which held last year that the “2nd Amendment does not preserve or protect a right of a member of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.”…

Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch earned their love from the NRA lobby.

❝ It is the latest of several actions by the court that suggest that although the Constitution protects an individual right to “bear arms,” the scope of that right is quite limited.

RTFA for the gory details. In truth, most gun owners – and that includes me – agree with rulings like this one and support gun safety over the nutballism of Trump types and pimps for the gun industry like the NRA.

Boston braces for ‘Free Speech’ rally about as phony as the clown in the White House


Thanks, gocomics.org

❝ Boston officials are planning road blockades and even banning food vendors from the historic Boston Common as they step up security around a “Free Speech” rally on Saturday featuring right-wing speakers, aiming to avoid a repeat of last weekend’s violence at a white supremacist rally in Virginia.

❝ Some 500 police officers will be on the streets around the popular tourist destination. They are planning to close some roadways to vehicles, mindful of the car attacks that killed a woman in Charlottesville and 13 in an attack in Barcelona on Thursday…

❝ Saturday’s rally has drawn intense concern from city and state officials following the violence in Charlottesville, when white supremacists at a “Unite the Right” rally fought in the streets with anti-racism protesters. A woman was killed at that event when a man said to have neo-Nazi sympathies crashed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, injuring another 19 people.

❝ U.S. President Donald Trump’s response to that event, including his statement on Tuesday that there were “very fine people” on both sides of last weekend’s conflict, has drawn wide-spread condemnation from both Democrats and Trump’s own Republican Party.

Something I wouldn’t have missed if I still lived anywhere in New England. Last I heard from folks in Boston was that the bigot brigade was initially counting on about 100 people to show up for their rally. Local folks expecting 4,000 to 10,000 in opposition.

Boston takes American history truly seriously.

Not surprised about the bans on weapons. I never had any problems as a hunter when I lived there; but, the Man does keep track on who does what with firearms. Had to have a Federal Firearms ID to purchase ammo.

No Grandstanding — Confederate monuments removed from Baltimore overnight

❝ Confederate statues in Baltimore were removed from their bases overnight by city contractors, who used heavy machinery to load them onto flat bed trucks and haul them away — an abrupt end to more than a year of indecision on what to do with the memorials.

Mayor Catherine Pugh, who made the decision Tuesday morning to remove the monuments overnight, watched in person as the four statues linked to the Confederacy were torn from their pedestals.

…The mayor said. “There was enough grandstanding, enough speeches being made. Get it done.”

❝ The Baltimore City Council had unanimously passed a resolution this week calling for their removal amid a renewed national conversation following a deadly terrorist attack by a white supremacist at a rally in Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday…

❝ Protesters, who held a rally at the Robert E. Lee-“Stonewall” Jackson Monument at Wyman Park Dell near Johns Hopkins University Sunday, had pledged to tear down that statue themselves Wednesday night if the city didn’t…

“It’s done,” Pugh said Wednesday morning. “They needed to come down. My concern is for the safety and security of our people. We moved as quickly as we could…I did not want to endanger people in my own city.”

❝ The city is still deciding what to do with the removed statues, Pugh said, and she did not reveal where they had been taken in the meantime.

The only “polite” suggestion I can come up with is to melt them down, roll the lumps into sheet metal, stamp out commemorative coins for everyone from the brave soldiers who fought against Confederate separatists – and the traitors who led them – to modern-day civil rights leaders and activists.

Many Hate Crime Victims Never Notify Police – and Local Coppers Don’t Send the Data to the Feds

❝ More than half of the people who said they were the victim of a hate crime in recent years did not report the incidents to police. When victims did report to the police, their assailants were arrested in just 10 percent of the cases. The incidents reported as hate crimes were almost always violent- 90 percent – and often seriously so, with nearly 30 percent involving reports of sexual assault, aggravated assault and/or robbery.

Those are some of the striking findings of a special federal Bureau of Justice Statistics report released Thursday, based on national crime victimization surveys conducted for the years 2011 to 2015. The report came as the Department of Justice convened a hate crimes conference in Washington, D.C. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at the start of the conference and repeated his pledge to combat hate crimes aggressively…

❝ The number of people who do report the alleged crimes — some 46 percent of 250,000 cases — invites its own mystery. After all, the FBI, in its annual account of hate crimes reported by police departments across the country, only lists some 5,000 or 6,000 reports a year. That seems to mean more than 100,000 people a year reported to police being victimized by a hate crime only to see those reports fail to turn up in the FBI’s national reports…

Worth reflecting upon. Worth nudging your local bastions of law and order to see what their policies and practices are.

Making America scared and stupid won’t make us safer


Sally YatesJim Watson/AFP

❝ In today’s polarized world, there aren’t many issues on which Democrats and Republicans agree. So when they do, we should seize the rare opportunity to move our country forward. One such issue is criminal-justice reform, and specifically the need for sentencing reform for drug offenses.

All across the political spectrum, in red states and blue states, from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and the Koch brothers to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the American Civil Liberties Union, there is broad consensus that the “lock them all up and throw away the key” approach embodied in mandatory minimum drug sentences is counterproductive, negatively affecting our ability to assure the safety of our communities.

❝ But last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back the clock to the 1980s, reinstating the harsh, indiscriminate use of mandatory minimum drug sentences imposed at the height of the crack epidemic. Sessions attempted to justify his directive in a Post op-ed last weekend, stoking fear by claiming that as a result of then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s Smart on Crime policy, the United States is gripped by a rising epidemic of violent crime that can only be cured by putting more drug offenders in jail for more time.

❝ That argument just isn’t supported by the facts. Not only are violent crime rates still at historic lows — nearly half of what they were when I became a federal prosecutor in 1989 — but there is also no evidence that the increase in violent crime some cities have experienced is the result of drug offenders not serving enough time in prison. In fact, a recent study by the bipartisan U.S. Sentencing Commission found that drug defendants with shorter sentences were actually slightly less likely to commit crimes when released than those sentenced under older, more severe penalties.

Contrary to Sessions’s assertions, Smart on Crime focused our limited federal resources on cases that had the greatest impact on our communities — the most dangerous defendants and most complex cases. As a result, prosecutors charged more defendants with murder, assault, gun crimes and robbery than ever before. And a greater percentage of drug prosecutions targeted kingpins and drug dealers with guns.

Not that the Confederacy, today’s Republican Party and power pimps like Trump care a whole boatload about evidence-based reason and decision-making.

RTFA for clarity, historic sense and analysis. You ain’t finding it in the White House.

The Great Kansas Reaganomics Experiment Ends In Disaster


Yes, I’m responsible for that smell…Saul Loeb/AFP

❝ When a governor announces an economic theory as a solution to a state’s fiscal problems, while challenging all comers to observe the results, that’s something I want to pay attention to. And so for the past five years, I have been watching the public-policy experiment in Kansas with great fascination.

❝ With the state legislature now rejecting the governor’s experiment, we can move onto to the next phase: Not recrimination and blame, though there is lots of that going around. Instead, I want to look at how the experiment played out, and what lessons there are to be learned from it.

❝ A quick refresher: Kansas’s Republican Governor Sam Brownback pushed through a substantial change in the state tax code, centered around lowering rates. He promised it would lead to more growth, tax revenue and jobs. Instead, there have been persistent tax revenue shortfalls, huge spending cuts and disappointing job creation. As my Bloomberg View colleague Justin Fox wrote, Kansas is badly lagging its neighbors, all of which have similar economies. Even worse, people (especially young people) are fleeing the state. Kansas was one of the highest outbound migration states in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The vast majority of people who have moved out were either transferring when their companies left or were seeking employment elsewhere.

Before Brownback, this wasn’t the case. As recently as 2012 and 2011, Kansas didn’t make the lists of states with high migratory outflows.

❝ Incentives matter: There was a large behavioral incentive, but it was for financial engineering. Brownback eliminated taxes on limited liability companies and sole proprietorships. It isn’t surprising that lots of companies and individuals made these legal structural changes. But this was merely an alteration in form with no beneficial economic incentives.

Set reasonable benchmarks for success or failure: Brownback, despite making large promises, wasn’t specific in how success or failure should be measured…

❝ Have an exit strategy: Because Kansas didn’t focus on specific and measurable benchmarks, it had no way to know when to pull the plug. This is important, as the legislature was forced to wait until things were unequivocally bad and getting worse before taking steps to end the experiment. An exit strategy based on specific goals would have saved a lot of unnecessary austerity-induced pain for the people of Kansas.

❝ Share information freely: We knew the Kansas experiment was going badly when the executive branch decided to stop reporting economic news about it…

Win or lose, take responsibility: Broad proof of the failure of Brownback’s tax cuts led the legislature to begin unraveling them. Rather than admitting defeat, Brownback vetoed its actions. His refusal to accept a verdict reflects a failure to recognize and take responsibility for his own policies.

❝ By just about every measure, Kansas’ economic laboratory experiment is now over, and the results are in. Supply-side tax cuts as executed in Kansas don’t generate more economic growth or create more jobs. They reduce tax revenue and forced the government to cut spending on essential goods and services like roads and schools.

RTFA for more detail. Unless you’re a Republican True Believer the cause-and-effect relationships are clear. Evidence is a bear. That the mass of Kansas voters went along with Brownback’s incompetence for so long speaks only to their obedience, lack of independence, loyalty to ideology in the face of daily evidence of failure.

Barry Ritholtz is one of my favorite writers on matters financial in the United States. That he has a fey sense of humor, refers to himself as a Recovering Republican, allegiance to evidence and facts over ideology is icing on the fiscal cake.