Patterico's Pontifications


Paul Ryan Applauds Trillion-Dollar Infrastructure Plan, Paid Family Leave (Video)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:22 pm

Here’s Trump announcing his giant trillion-dollar infrastructure boondoggle. Watch Paul Ryan. He claps.

Here’s Trump proposing a federal program for paid family leave. Again, watch Paul Ryan. He doesn’t want to applaud. He waits to applaud. But he applauds — and even stands up to do so.

I’m not sure how much you can read into applause, but if Paul Ryan can’t resist the pressure to applaud, can he resist the pressure to pass the programs?

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

ObamaCare Repeal Chaotic as Trump Writes Own Plan and Republicans Balk at GOP Plan

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:00 am

Well, nobody said ObamaCare repeal would be easy. But the main part of the problem is that not everyone agrees on the same principles.

First, we have two important Republicans saying that they reject a draft GOP plan to repeal ObamaCare, because it’s a GOP-approved Entitlement Lite package:

Two prominent House conservatives said Monday that they would vote against a draft of the Republican Obamacare repeal bill that was leaked last week, presenting a serious roadblock to the GOP’s increasingly complicated efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

. . . .

Meadows told CNN that what is unacceptable to him are the refundable tax credits included in the draft of the bill. Those tax credits, the North Carolina congressman said, are nothing short of an “entitlement program.”

“What is conservative about a new entitlement program and a new tax increase? And should that be the first thing that the President signs of significance that we sent to the new President?” Meadows said in an interview. “A new Republican president signs a new entitlement and a new tax increase as his first major piece of legislation? I don’t know how you support that — do you?”

So for these members of Congress, the problem is too much government involvement. Meanwhile our President, no fan of the free market himself, is planning to tackle the problem on his own. Hooray:

President Trump told governors at a meeting at the White House Monday that his administration will put forward its own ObamaCare replacement plan within a few weeks, according to two governors who attended the meeting.

. . . .

“The way I felt, I think Secretary [of Health and Human Services Tom] Price was going to be coming up with a plan,” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) told a small group of reporters on Monday after returning from the White House meeting.

“I felt that way, didn’t you, Brian? It was pretty clear,” McAuliffe said, referring to Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), who was standing next to him.

Sandoval then said “yes” and indicated the message was that the administration plan would be ready “within a few weeks.”

McAuliffe said Price, who was in the meeting, mentioned the plan would be ready in three weeks. Trump replied, “No, I want it in two,” according to McAuliffe.

A man of action! Who needs a third week when you have two? Make sure you summarize it in a one-page memo, Secretary Price. No more than nine bullet points.

I’m guessing Trump is not going to be as skeptical of government involvement as the aforementioned Congressmen. I rather suspect Trump will bring to the table his own unique combination of lazy, ill-researched, hastily arrived-at judgments, lack of attention to detail, and fondness for big government. Who here thinks the plan Tom Price comes up with will be a free market plan? Who thinks it will contain hard choices that may not all be politically palatable? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Look. A free market approach is always the best approach to any problem, and so it is with health care. Utterly repealing ObamaCare root and branch is what must happen. Eliminate all subsidies, mandates, and requirements. Allow insurance companies to compete nationwide. Eliminate differential tax treatment of health care by employers.

People making their own choices is always best. Always.

There are valid issues with an immediate move to a more pure free market (which, by the way, we have not had in your lifetime, so don’t tell me the free market didn’t work, because we never tried it). Decades of government interference in health care have broken norms of charity care, and destroyed societal mechanisms for dealing with health care issues. There will have to be a transition period of three to four years for people who relied on the current system. You can’t remake this overnight.

What should be done is easy. What can be done politically — there’s the rub.

I’ve never seen an entitlement undone and I doubt we’ll see this one repealed. The word “entitlement” is especially accurate in American politics because people feel entitled. The public, in its infinite wisdom, wants to keep the parts of ObamaCare it likes (such as the ban on denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions) and jettison the parts it doesn’t like (such as the mandate). There are snake-oil salesmen who will make this sound possible. Looking at you, Donald Trump!

As with any thorny political problem, it is important to keep in mind Thomas Sowell’s dictum: there are no solutions, only trade-offs. The free market is not a panacea. It is not an instant ticket to utopia. Humanity will remain imperfect, and the mechanisms that a market develops to address a situation will not always fix every single problem. All we know is that it will be better than anything government can devise.

Your choice is clear: trust the market, or trust government. We’ll see which road the Republican Party heads down. I think I know which it will choose, and the answer ain’t pretty.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]


Oh, Kellyanne…

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:21 pm

[guest post by Dana]

I started to write a post about President Trump’s meeting with leaders of the nation’s historically black universities and colleges at the White House today but I got so distracted by this photo that I lost my train of thought:


This isn’t helping your boss, Kellyanne. Appearances matter, optics matter, and how you carry yourself matters.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Rachel Dolezal Today: I don’t think you can do something wrong with your identity if you’re living in your authenticity

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:28 am

[guest post by Dana]

Racehl Dolezal is back in the news. If you recall, she was an Adjunct Professor of African-American Studies at Eastern Washington University as well as the high-profile president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP before losing both positions after it came to light that Dolezal, who had identified as black, was actually white:

“Are you,” asked the reporter, “African American?” Like a cartoon, her features froze. “I don’t understand the question.” The reporter pressed, “Are your parents white?” Dolezal turned from the camera and fled.

Footage of the confrontation flew around the world. Dolezal’s white parents released photographs of their daughter as a blonde white child, and appeared on TV to denounce her as a fraud; she had been living a lie, pretending to be black, when she was no more African American than they were. Dolezal resigned from her NAACP position, was fired by the university, lost her local newspaper column and was removed from the police ombudsman commission. Enthralled by her disgrace, talkshows and radio phone-ins sneered and raged. Why did she do it? What had she been thinking? When it emerged that she had once sued a university for discriminating against her because she was white, Dolezal’s notoriety was complete.

Now it appears that Dolezal has hit on hard times as she is one month’s rent away from being homeless and relying on food stamps. Since her termination from the university, Dolezal claims she has applied for more than 100 jobs, but other than offers of porn and reality TV, she has not found work.

Dolezal still defends her “lifestyle” choice:

“For the first time in my life, I really decided consciously to be free from the repression, and free from feeling like I had to do things in a way that was acceptable to other people. I had the courage to be exactly who I was.” From that day on, Dolezal would be unambiguously and publicly black, and remains so to this day.

Wasn’t she lying? “The times that I tried to explain more, I wasn’t understood more. Nobody wanted to hear, ‘I’m pan-African, pro-black, bisexual, an artist, mother and educator.’ People would just be like, ‘Huh? What? What are you talking about?’ So I felt like by not talking about my biological ancestry, I gave people the opportunity to relate to me as an individual, not part of a group.”

But she was presenting herself as part of the “black” group, wasn’t she? “I do think a more complex label would be helpful, but we don’t really have that vocabulary. I feel like the idea of being trans-black would be much more accurate than ‘I’m white’. Because you know, I’m not white. There is a black side and a white side on all kinds of issues, whether it’s political, social, cultural. There’s a perspective, there’s a mentality, there’s a culture. To say that I’m black is to say, this is how I see the world, this is the philosophy, the history, this is what I love and what I honour. Calling myself black feels more accurate than saying I’m white.”

And in spite of all the hardship she has endured since having been exposed before the public as a white woman, Dolezal offers no apologies:

In all the intrigue and drama of her disgrace, does she think she’s done anything wrong? “No, I don’t. I don’t think you can do something wrong with your identity if you’re living in your authenticity, and I am. If I thought it was wrong, I would admit it. That’s easy to do, especially in America. Every politician, they’re like, ‘I’m sorry’ and then they just move on and everybody’s like, ‘Oh, they apologised and it’s all good’. Five minutes later, nobody remembers it. I’m not going to stoop and apologise and grovel and feel bad about it. I would just be going back to when I was little, and had to be what everybody else told me I should be – to make them happy.”

When I first wrote about Dolezal back in 2015, I said this:

Who are you to judge her for living out loud what she feels and believes is her own truth?? Don’t you know we’re not bound by anything as antiquated and restrictive as identity – be it gender or racial. It’s fluid. And who are you to make the determination of which identities one must remain wed to in their lives? Or maybe you and others just prefer to be selective in which white women you support who are seeking the freedom to be their perceived real selves.

However, according to commenters at the interview, I have it wrong:

Trans commentators have been incensed by the suggestion of parallels. “Transgender people transition out of medical necessity,” wrote one. “Dolezal’s ‘transition’ to black, on the other hand, is surrounded by layers of deception.” They argue that her colour was a choice, so cannot be analogous to their gender identity. But if we believe someone born without ovaries or a womb can be a woman, and accept radical surgery as a legitimate corrective necessity, is it so different for a woman who is born white but feels black to reposition herself on the racial spectrum?

It’s a brave crazy new world, people. Learn the rules, and try to keep up.



Sunday Night Music

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:58 pm

A German guy in a suit playing a medley of Genesis tunes to a quiet and respectful audience.

God, I love the Internet.

President Trump Not Attending Annual WHCA Dinner

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:34 am

[guest post by Dana]


Who can blame him?

While some individuals believe that Trump’s opting out of the dinner “suggests he’d rather resign than divulge his taxes, much less divest his assets,” more rational people seem to either not really care, or can understand why the president would decline the invitation. And then there is the priceless response from members of the media

At one time, political preferences and the advocacy for specific politicians was reserved for the Opinion pages, but for media watchers, we have witnessed the political preferences of journalists become commonplace in the reporting of hard news. There can be no doubt that this president would be facing a hostile crowd. And for a profession where the job is to report the news with at least an appearance of objectivity, to have been repeatedly caught flashing its biased underpants while simultaneously proclaiming members will be fact-checking this administration, (one assumes when not pushing Fake News), the absurdity of such an assembly becomes all the more apparent. Even if for one night. This is what happens when journalism happily surrenders to eight years of Obama worship. There can be little doubt that the preferred side of the aisle remains the left side. And if you’re The New York Times, and just now announcing that “the truth if more important than ever,” all that does is confirm our suspicions that truth really wasn’t the priority these past eight years. Thus the cynicism with which we regard you is obviously well deserved. That said, why would President Trump voluntarily subject himself to an inevitable onslaught of angry and venomous mockery from a group still licking their wounds from the devastating election loss which resulted in their preferred candidate being relegated to attending Broadway shows when she’s not wandering the woods of New York.

Of course, if President Trump had not been exposed early on for telling untruths and denying he said what he provably did say , as well as revealing his own authoritarian tendencies toward the press, the relationship may not have soured as quickly. Further, when the President of the United States continues to blast the mainstream media and refers to specific outlets as Fake News and enemies of the people, as well as echoing Steve Bannon’s accusation that the media “is the opposition party,” it’s easy to see why he would not want to face an assembled group of enemies. And let’s face it, this president is far too thinned-skin, insecure, and petty to be able to enter a den of lions with any amount of self-deprecating humor and aplomb. And while President Trump has made himself an easy target ripe for the picking, there should be no doubt that any Republican in the Oval Office would be targeted by a left-leaning press. It’s just that President Trump has given them way more red meat than I think any other possible contender would have. You can argue that it’s because he is not a politician, nor experienced in the ways of Washington, but I would suggest that to say that is to willfully ignore his fundamental character flaws which are the biggest stumbling blocks of all.

The best thing that can come out of this would be an end to the WHCA dinner. At a moneyed schmooze fest where politicians, journalists, and Hollywood come together in an unholy alliance of smug, self-congratulatory bluster and bullshit, lines get crossed that shouldn’t be, if maintaining impartiality in reporting really matters.

Both the press and the president have shown themselves to be more than willing to be less than honorable when it suits their agendas. Distrust of both is not mutually exclusive. In fact, it’s prudent to view both with a big healthy dose of suspicion. They brought this on themselves.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



Saturday Night Music: Genesis: The Musical Box

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:51 pm

I had the great privilege of watching the group The Musical Box perform this piece last night in San Juan Capistrano. I had a front row center seat, and they did this piece with the exact same old man mask that made this so effectively spooky. The bit beginning around 7:45 always sends shivers down my spine, and last night’s recreation did the same.

Nothing But Crickets When Male Democrat And Chief Of Staff Publicly Denigrates Female Republican Senator, Saying She Got What She Wanted When Silenced On Senate Floor

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:01 pm

[guest post by Dana]

I guess because females are always manipulative, even on the floor of the Senate. Oh. Wait. Maybe it had nothing to do with being female, maybe it had everything to do with being Asian! Either one works in this game, right?

In spite of efforts to persist, State Sen. Janet Nguyen was not only silenced on the floor of the Senate, but hands were laid on her as she was escorted away:

A Republican legislator and Vietnamese refugee was dragged from the state Senate floor Thursday morning when a Democratic leader ordered her removed after she tried to criticize the late Tom Hayden, a former state senator and vocal opponent of the war in Vietnam.

State Sen. Janet Nguyen, R-Garden Grove (Orange County), who was born in what was then Saigon, spoke briefly in Vietnamese, but her microphone was shut off less than 30 seconds after she began to repeat her remarks in English.

State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens (Los Angeles County), who was presiding over the short floor session, called on Nguyen to sit down a dozen times, telling her she was out of order. But when Nguyen continued to read her statement into her dead microphone, Lara took stronger action.

“Sergeants, please remove Senator Nguyen from the chamber,” he said. “Have her removed immediately.”

A pair of sergeants-at-arms who were on their way to Nguyen’s seat on the Senate floor grabbed her by the arms and pulled her off the floor. But Nguyen, still shouting out her statement, tried to turn back toward Lara, forcing the sergeants to redouble their efforts to hustle her away.

But hey, she got what she asked for:

Democrats insisted that the incident was caused by Nguyen’s choice to use what’s known as a “point of personal privilege” to close the session — a choice they said was inappropriate. Dan Reeves, chief of staff to Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), told reporters that Nguyen had been offered the chance to speak at a different time.

“She got exactly what she wanted, which wasn’t to speak,” Reeves said. “She wanted to cause a scene for her district.”

Outcry from the left over this female elected official being silenced?? Crickets. Enraged editorials on the pages of The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and The Washington Post decrying the sexism of an elected official being condescended to by the powerful patriarchy?? Crickets. Furious tweets from Hollywood celebrities over the bigotry?? Crickets. Powerful state officials Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein standing in solidarity with other California female state representatives on the steps of the capitol, demanding that NO female politician should be silenced, let alone have hands laid on them?? Crickets.

And what was the response of the state governor Jerry Brown? Crickets. And from California State Sen. Kamala Harris (on track for a possible future run for governor) and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (actively working to become governor): Nothing but crickets.

Note: If you cannot even live out your espoused principles and stand up for one single, solitary minority woman, and politician in the minority, who boldly represented her constituents before a powerful group of state officials, then you are undeserving of my vote for anything. Because if you cannot even muster the courage to do that, then you have demonstrated that you will lack the courage to do that which is unpopular, yet beneficial for the people of this state. And let me remind you, it is your party which recently announced that once again, dissent is patriotic.

Oh, California, we can always count on you to consistently play a lopsided game of selective moral outrage when determining whether expending your political capital is worth the risk of angering voters. It’s a simple weighted standard of measure: Does a (D) or (R) come after the person’s name?

Although Sen. Nguyen can, with unquestioned honesty, check off a number of liberal political identity markers, she also has a big check against her because she a Republican. What is particularly ironic about that is, by being a Republican lawmaker in California, Sen. Nguyen automatically becomes a member of yet one more minority group. Check off another box!

As a reminder, here is what the ultimate champion of oppressed women and minorities everywhere (except when an (R) follows their name), Hillary Clinton had to say about the silencing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren:

She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted. So must we all.

And here is Sen. Chuck Schumer, who deemed the silencing of Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “totally unnecessary”:

A senator’s mouthpiece is larger than the senate floor, but it’s even larger when her constituents rally w/ @SenateDems to #LetLizSpeak.

California Senator and former State Attorney General Kamala Harris said:

By silencing Elizabeth Warren, the GOP gave women around the world a rallying cry. #ShePersisted #LetLizSpeak
9:19 AM – 8 Feb 2017

And let’s not forget the powerful voices of The Celebrities :

Sarah Silverman said, Rules made as they go to serve their agenda. It’s mob Ego. SAD!”

Keith Olbermann wrote, “I think it’s important to recognize that McConnell’s censorship of Warren tonight is part of a Republican process to curtail democracy.”

And George Takei offered, “The GOP suppressing free speech, silencing Warren tonight for reading Coretta Scott King’s criticism of Sessions. We need to shut down D.C.”

In regard to the Republican senators who silenced Warren, Amy Brenneman tweeted, “#f*ckthesemen.”

And Billy Eichner asked, “We all cool with this?”


Paul Feig offered, “Women of the world, keep persisting. Strong men will hear you. Weak men will fear you. All will listen. Persist. Thank you, @SenWarren.” Michael Keaton exclaimed, “Go Elizabeth Warren go!” Connie Britton tweeted, “She persisted. #CorettaScottKing #LetLizSpeak.”

“‘Nevertheless, she persisted.’ So must we all. You go, girl,” wrote Stephen King. Busy Philipps commented, “I’m gonna need ‘nevertheless, she persisted.’ on multiple items of clothing, please. THANKS.” Samantha Ronson wrote, “‘Nevertheless, she persisted.’ #StillWithHer #IStandWithPP #letlizspeak #WomensMarch #CorettaScottKing #WeThePeople.”

Zachary Quinto gave one of the lengthiest responses, writing, “THEIR ATTEMPT TO SILENCE HER ONLY AMPLIFIES HER VOICE. once again i am inspired today by the truth and integrity and resolve of @elizabethwarrenma in the face of such blatant racism xenophobia homophobia sexism and fear mongering.”

He continued, “Her censure in the senate chamber further highlights the utter desperation of the old white men who are ruthlessly clinging to their stagnant and dangerous ideals. we are evolving beyond your hatred. we are rising above your smallness. she is a powerful embodiment of the unstoppable movement toward inclusion and equality. it is only a matter of time before truth and goodness prevail.”

Sadly, as we already know, all women and immigrants are not seen equally in the eyes of Democrats. Because just as abortion is the litmus test for feminists, whether a (D) or (R) follows your name is the ultimate litmus test for the left. If you’re a female Democrat silenced on a senate floor, you will become a cause célèbre. If you’re a female Republican silenced on a senate floor, yawn.

And it all becomes even more amusing when one considers that Sen. Warren is a faux-Native American who co-opted traditional physical features associated with America’s aboriginal people to claim minority status and a hoped-for professional advantage, while Sen. Nguyen is an actual living, breathing minority woman whose family was forced to flee their homeland in order to survive. I guess #OnlyWhiteWomenSilencedMatter.

Sen. Nguyen released this statement regarding the kerfuffle:

“Today, in a clear violation of my first amendment rights, I was silenced and forcibly removed from the Senate Floor during an adjournment in memory of Vietnamese and Vietnamese refugees which also offered another historic perspective on Former Senator Tom Hayden’s active support of North Vietnam’s Communist Regime during the Vietnam War.

I was especially perplexed by the actions taken against me because I notified the Senate Pro Tem’s office of my desire to speak on this subject matter and followed protocol. Out of respect for former Senator Hayden’s family, I also chose to wait to make my comments today rather than on the day they were present earlier this week. Nevertheless, the Senate leadership chose to censor me.

My family came to this country in search of the very freedom that was taken away from me this morning. I am deeply disappointed with Senate leadership’s actions because more than an act against me, Senate leadership silenced the voice of the residents of the 34th District, the more than 960,000 residents that I represent, whose freedoms of speech should never be silenced.”

Anywho, the 89th Academy Awards ceremony will be held in Los Angeles tomorrow night. Given that Sen. Nguyen represents the 34th Senate District in California, and given the outrage by Hollywood when another female Senator was silenced on a Senate floor, I am calling on all Oscar presenters, award winners and industry luminaries to make a public stand on behalf of one real minority female and elected official who was also silenced at the behest of the patriarchy. Perhaps the much-celebrated and ardent defender of “outsiders,” Meryl Streep can lead the way when she is on stage as a presenter. Now that would truly be Oscar gold.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



Steve Bannon at CPAC: Trump Will Pursue “Deconstruction of the Administrative State”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

I know, right? That headline sounds like a really good thing, doesn’t it? Naturally, the Washington Post, where Democracy Dies with Distraction and Deception, tries to portray this as a scary development, articulated by a “reclusive mastermind”:

The reclusive mastermind behind President Trump’s nationalist ideology and combative tactics made his public debut Thursday, delivering a fiery rebuke of the media and declaring that the new administration is in an unending battle for “deconstruction of the administrative state.”

. . . .

Appearing at a gathering of conservative activists alongside Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Bannon dismissed the idea that Trump might moderate his positions or seek consensus with political opponents. Rather, he said, the White House is digging in for a long period of conflict to transform Washington and upend the world order.

“If you think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken,” Bannon said in reference to the media and opposition forces. “Every day, it is going to be a fight.”

. . . .

Bannon framed much of Trump’s agenda with the phrase, “deconstruction of the administrative state,” meaning the system of taxes, regulations and trade pacts that the president says have stymied economic growth and infringed upon U.S. sovereignty. Bannon says that the post-World War II political and economic consensus is failing and should be replaced with a system that empowers ordinary people over coastal elites and international institutions.

I’d be standing on my feet applauding if I didn’t know that this is accompanied by a desire to put ruinous tariffs on foreign goods. But let’s not let that particular bit of economic ignorance overshadow the point of this post: the joy we should all feel at an administration that seemingly wants to take an axe and start chopping down the forest of regulation that is choking off economic growth in this country.

The administrative state has become one of the greatest threats to liberty in this country, in large part because of its trashing of the separation of powers. Bureaucracies pass regulations like a legislature, enforce them like an executive, and rule on the validity of their own actions like a judiciary, with administrative law judges who are arms of the same bureacracies whose regulations they review. Meanwhile, Congress abandons its role in the process, and judges defer to the agencies’ interpretations.

But Donald Trump is fighting back. His admittedly ham-handed executive order — requiring two regulations to be repealed for each one passed — may be a meat cleaver . . . but that may be what’s required here. It actually creates incentives for agencies to do away with regulations, and that’s a good thing. Trump’s signaling that he would sign the REINS Act, by which Congress would take back explicit responsibility for reviewing significant regulation, is another positive step. (It’s been passed by the House. What’s taking so long, Sen. McConnell?) Finally, by nominating Neil Gorsuch, who has opposed excessive judicial deference to bureaucracies as a dangerous threat to the separation of powers, Trump has attacked the administrative state from yet another angle (whether he realizes that or not, and I doubt he does).

Something else I have noticed: it’s a lot easier to appreciate some of the actions taken by Donald Trump during periods when he keeps his mouth shut, his Twitter feed largely quiet, and his administration free from ridiculous publicity-seeking controversy.

Let’s hope he keeps that up, even as we recognize that he most definitely won’t.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

The Fourth Circuit’s Evisceration of the Second Amendment

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:15 am

This week, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, issued a decision upholding a Maryland ban on “the AR-15 and other military-style rifles and shotguns” as well as “detachable large-capacity magazines.” The opinion ignores the basic reasoning of the Supreme Court case that upheld Second Amendment rights: D.C. v. Heller. The Fourth Circuit’s opinion opens with this rhetorical flourish:

On the morning of December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, a gunman used an AR 15-type Bushmaster rifle and detachable thirty-round magazines to murder twenty first-graders and six adults in the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Two additional adults were injured by gunfire, and just twelve children in the two targeted classrooms were not shot. Nine terrified children ran from one of the classrooms when the gunman paused to reload, while two youngsters successfully hid in a restroom. Another child was the other classroom’s sole survivor. In all, the gunman fired at least 155 rounds of ammunition within five minutes, shooting each of his victims multiple times.

One could easily list atrocities committed with pistols as well. Indeed, research shows that mass shootings are usually committed with pistols:

[Researchers] found that the typical weapon used is a pistol, not an “assault weapon” like the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle. Assault weapons were used in 24.6 percent of mass shootings, handguns in 47.9 percent.

But the court’s dramatic opening is not designed to further constitutional analysis. It is there to promote a political agenda.

In its legal analysis, the opinion seizes on this single sentence from Heller:

It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause.

Divorcing that sentence from all context, the majority uses it to repeatedly assert that there is no right to own a weapon that — from the rarefied perspective of a federal judge’s chambers — might be deemed to be “most useful in military service.” And with a little hocus-pocus, the court decides that AR-15s are “most useful in military service” and are like M-16s. Here is a part of the judges’ totally out-of-touch reasoning, which demonstrates why lefty judges are not particularly suited to writing about firearms:

[S]emiautomatic weapons can be fired at rates of 300 to 500 rounds per minute, making them virtually indistinguishable in practical effect from machineguns.

Yuh-huh. Sure they can. As David French observes:

The word “rates” does a lot of work in that sentence. Yes, a person can pull the trigger very quickly on a semi-auto rifle (of any type) for a very short time. No, you cannot send 300 to 500 rounds downrange in one minute. You can’t even do it with an M-16 in burst mode.

In any event, limiting the analysis to what is “most useful in military service” simply isn’t what Justice Scalia said in Heller — if you look at the sentence in context:

We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said, as we have explained, that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.” [citations omitted]

It may be objected that if weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like—may be banned, then the Second Amendment right is completely detached from the prefatory clause. But as we have said, the conception of the militia at the time of the Second Amendment ’s ratification was the body of all citizens capable of military service, who would bring the sorts of lawful weapons that they possessed at home to militia duty. It may well be true today that a militia, to be as effective as militias in the 18th century, would require sophisticated arms that are highly unusual in society at large. Indeed, it may be true that no amount of small arms could be useful against modern-day bombers and tanks. But the fact that modern developments have limited the degree of fit between the prefatory clause and the protected right cannot change our interpretation of the right.

AR-15s are hardly “dangerous and unusual” — because the word “and” means they have to be unusual, and they aren’t unusual at all. They are the most popular firearms in the United States, which makes it a little difficult to call them “unusual.” Similarly, magazines holding more than 10 rounds are exceedingly common, with the dissent stating that “there are more than 75 million such magazines owned by [American citizens] in the United States.” But the majority cheerfully admits that “we simply de-emphasize the term ‘dangerous and unusual'” in favor of the “most useful in military service” language that they like better — ignoring the fact that the latter phrase is a function of the former.

It’s rare that a court so brazenly announces that it is “de-emphasizing” a central part of a majority Supreme Court opinion. The dissent aptly states what is at stake:

Today the majority holds that the Government can take semiautomatic rifles away from law-abiding American citizens. In South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland, the Government can now tell you that you cannot hunt with these rifles. The Government can tell you that you cannot shoot at targets with them. And, most importantly, the Government can tell you that you cannot use them to defend yourself and your family in your home. In concluding that the Second Amendment does not even apply, the majority has gone to greater lengths than any other court to eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms.


I’d wager this case is likely to be taken up by the Supreme Court, and with a Justice Neil Gorsuch on the Court, I would predict this ruling will be reversed, as it should be.

It’s a stark reminder that there are some very, very good things that result from the election of one Donald J. Trump.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

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