URLs du Jour

2021-06-13

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  • Boy, Does Amazon Offer a Lot Of Anti-Gun Merch. There have to be hundreds of different "Ban Assault Weapons" garments. Fortunately, after enough searching, I found the Amazon Product du Jour.

    But there are major problems with that slogan, and Jacob Sullum tells us the primary one: Here’s Why California’s ‘Assault Weapon’ Ban Is Unconstitutional.

    When California legislators enacted the country's first ban on military-style rifles in 1989, they gave no weight to the fundamental right of armed self-defense guaranteed by the Second Amendment—a right the U.S. Supreme Court did not explicitly acknowledge until nearly two decades later. But as U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez observed in his ruling against California's "assault weapon" ban last Friday, it should now be clear that the outright prohibition of such firearms cannot pass constitutional muster.

    California's Assault Weapons Control Act (AWCA), which is similar to laws enforced by a handful of other states, originally applied to a list of more than 50 specific brands and models. In 1999 the law was amended to cover any semi-automatic, centerfire rifle that accepts a detachable magazine and has any of these features: a pistol grip that "protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon," a forward pistol grip, a thumbhole stock, a folding or telescoping stock, a flash suppressor, or a grenade/flare launcher.

    I think "Ban Assault Weapons" t-shirts should have text on the back too: "I don't know what those are."


  • Scurrilous. Andrew Stuttaford looks at the ProPublica article, considering it to be A Low Road to Higher Taxes.

    However much some on the left might like to deny it, there is a legitimate distinction between capital appreciation and income, and however much some of them might understand it, failing to account properly for that distinction presents too good a propaganda opportunity to be passed up.

    And so when ProPublica, “an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force” “obtained” and then, in an article by Jesse Eisinger, Jeff Ernsthausen, and Paul Kiel, publicized some of the details of “a vast cache of IRS information showing how billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett pay little in income tax compared to their massive wealth — sometimes, even nothing,” much of the secondhand reporting of their story, not to speak of the ProPublica article itself, followed an all too predictable narrative.

    Andrew quotes the ProPublica authors extensively, debunking as he goes. His bottom line:

    In reality, […] this article is just another salvo in the attempt by one section of the elite to wrestle power (and what flows from it) from another. That the result would result in severe damage to the economy and to the aspirations of millions is, it seems, beside the point.


  • Hey, Remember When People Were Upset About Dubya Snooping Your Library Checkouts? Matt Welch notes the latest proposal to violate your right to privacy: Biden Won’t Close the ‘Tax Gap,’ but He Will Snoop on Your Bank Records.

    Biden's American Families Plan Tax Compliance Agenda seeks to build on the model of [the Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act's] intrusive third-party reporting requirements, constructing a "comprehensive financial account reporting regime" that would force a wider grouping of financial institutions and platforms (PayPal, settlement companies, "crypto asset exchanges," etc.) to "report gross inflows and outflows on all business and personal accounts…including bank, loan, and investment accounts."

    But there's no need to worry if you've got nothing to hide.

    "For already compliant taxpayers, the only effect of this regime is to provide easy access to summary information on financial accounts and to decrease the likelihood of costly 'no fault' examinations once the IRS is able to better target its enforcement efforts," Treasury reassures us. "For noncompliant taxpayers, this regime would encourage voluntary compliance as evaders realize that the risk of evasion being detected has risen noticeably."

    Matt notes that past efforts to boost "compliance" have been unimpressive in terms of revenue.


  • I Could Talk About This Forever, And Will. David Harsanyi derides The Democrats' Filibuster Con.

    When Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., closed the door on eliminating the legislative filibuster this week, promising not to “weaken or eliminate” the 60-vote threshold, he “dashed” the “dreams” of Democrats, according to The New York Times.

    Hypocrisy is nothing new in Washington, but it takes a preternatural shamelessness to have participated in over 300 filibusters, as Democrats did in the past few years, and then one day turn around and treat the procedure as an odious racist relic that threatens “democracy.”

    But this is an emergency, norm-breakers will tell you. Isn’t it always? Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., after a quick reversal of position, told The Washington Post that she would nuke the procedure only “in the case of protecting democracy.” Of course, if we adopted the Democrats’ evolving standard of “voting rights,” then we’d be forced to treat every election before 2020’s free-for-all as illegitimate.

    At last report, our state's Senators Are Skeptical Of Killing The Filibuster

    New Hampshire Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen do not endorse completely eliminating the procedure, CNN reported Thursday. They join Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin in their opposition to the move.

    “I don’t think getting rid of [the filibuster] is the best approach,” Shaheen said, although “I think we should look at ways to reform the filibuster.”

    Hassan also has “concerns about eliminating the filibuster,” but would be open to some reforms, according to a spokesman. Neither senator explained what those reforms would be.

    Unspecified "reforms"? I bet that went over well in focus groups.