Three Things You Need to Know – March 2, 2018

Dems Are About to Go for the Guns

Democrats are gearing up for a full-on gun grabbing jihad. The Washington Examiner reported yesterday that Democrats are about to propose a weapons ban AND gun confiscation powers, and the inspiration didn’t come from anyone on the left. Their new muse is President Trump, and - after his comments on Wednesday - they believe they finally have the power to begin the war on guns.

We don’t know for sure yet what exactly is in the upcoming proposed bill, but Democrats are beginning to talk, just enough, for us to get a clue about what we’re looking at. The details include expanded background checks, the banning of certain kinds of weapons, and a plan to “temporarily” confiscate someone’s guns if they are deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.

Let’s just take this line by line, shall we? Expanded background checks, also called universal background checks, sound good on the surface. It’s true that we already have a background check system, but Democrats are worried about private sells. Like if you want to sell one of your guns to a neighbor. Currently, you can do that without a background check. If this gets amended, you won’t be able to. My guess is that you'd have to go to a licensed seller, called an FFL, and the background check and transfer would take place there. My only problem is this: if I want to gift my Henry Rifle to my son, would HE have to get a background check? These are the little details that never get disclosed, and I can guarantee you that Democrats won’t even try.

Second, the bill is rumored to contain a ban on quote “certain weapons.” Democrats are all up in arms over assault-style weapons, but the vast majority of them have no friggin clue what they're talking about. Debbie Wasserman Schultz went on CNN yesterday as the poster child for the clueless liberal on guns. She was adamant that we need to keep quote “high capacity, rapid-fire magazines” out of the hands of civilians. Umm… WHAT THE WHAT?! I never heard of a magazine that could fire it’s own ammunition - without the gun - at a high rate of fire. I better look into that before she gets it banned.

She then went on to say that “military-style weapons” should only be available to the military. I am so sick of this argument. She’s obviously referring to the AR-15, but the AR-15 was a civilian rifle FIRST and a military rifle SECOND. The Armalite company sold the plans to the military, who then adopted it with burst and rapid fire. The civilian models don’t have that. It’s actually MORE correct to say that the military is using a CIVILIAN style weapon, but these people have no clue what they are talking about.

Democrats want an all out ban on semi-automatic weapons, which would basically eliminate 80% of the market. That would leave you with bolt action hunting rifles, and John Wayne style six shooters.

And finally… gun confiscation. Democrats are proposing a program where family and law enforcement could petition a court to have someone’s guns taken away if they’re deemed mentally unstable. Answer this, what if that’s extended to anyone on medication? Will simply being on antidepressants now be enough label you full on mentally unstable? What about ADD medication?

We’re headed down a dark path. We need solutions, but this Bill is definitely not it. Let’s HOPE the President puts it where it belongs… in the trash.

Tariff-ying

President Trump is committed to the idea of “America First.” Technically, it’s more like Tweet First, America Second. But either way, he’s about to prove his commitment to American industry again, this time with a controversial new tariff. Because nothing says innovative 21st century trade policy like a protectionist tariff from the President McKinley era.

Trump announced yesterday that his administration will impose a 25% tariff on steel and 10% on aluminum imports. The move has been debated inside the White House for months and advisers were split, but Trump is going for it. He sees it as a way to help those struggling industries in the U.S. But it almost never actually helps.

For decades, the U.S. steel industry has lobbied the government to help them compete with foreign steel. But the data is clear that protectionist policy only makes things more expensive for consumers, with few benefits to the protected industry.

Past presidential attempts to give the steel industry a boost have not gone well. In 2002, President Bush placed tariffs ranging from 8% to 30% on steel products. Just one year later, there was so much international backlash and bad economic consequences that he got rid of the tariffs.

Top advisers warned about retaliation from other countries, and the Defense Department warned about how this will affect close allies. But Trump was eager to make the announcement anyway, in a room full of steel and aluminum executives at the White House. He said, “When it comes to a time where our country can’t make aluminum and steel, you almost don’t have much of a country.”

The Stock Market did not take kindly to the announcement – the Dow dropped 500 points. Companies that make products with steel and aluminum are not happy, already warning about loss of jobs in those industries and increased prices for consumers. Hmm, wonder where they got that idea? Oh yeah – history.

Senator Ben Sasse had a surprisingly strong reaction in a statement, saying: “Let’s be clear: The President is proposing a massive tax increase on American families. You’d expect a policy this bad from a leftist administration, not a supposedly Republican one.”

Why now? Maybe Trump thought it would end his week of bad press on a more positive note – look, I’m doing something for American workers! If so, that strategy is backfiring.

China Is in the Censorship Business

George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”

Winnie the Pooh.

The letter “N.”

These are just a handful of things that have been recently banned in China.

Why?

They promote criticism of Chinese President Chee Chinping, of course.

He has just announced that he is extending his presidency into a lifetime appointment, the first to do so since Mao. And he’s worried that reading Animal Farm will make his citizens question communism.

Winnie the Pooh is apparently a problem because there is a specific image of the bear clutching a honeypot next to the quote, "Find the thing you love and stick with it.”

No doubt Pooh is spouting cynical commentary about Chinping’s indefinite position.

There wasn’t a clear reason why the letter “N” was banned. So, the Chinese government “unbanned” it almost immediately.

This isn’t new to the Chinese people. Chinping has been periodically censoring specific things for years. He controls the media, the government, and almost every aspect of Chinese citizen’s lives.

And it’s only going to get worse from here. He’s looking to be a lifelong dictator. That hasn’t worked out too well for China and the world in the past.

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This compromise is an abomination

Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Three decades ago, "The Art of the Deal" made Donald Trump a household name. A lot has happened since then. But you can trace many of Trump's actions back to that book.

Art of the Deal:

In the end, you're measured not by how much you undertake but by what you finally accomplish.

People laughed when he announced that he was running for President. And I mean that literally. Remember the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner when Obama roasted Trump, viciously, mocking the very idea that Trump could ever be President. Now, he's President.

You can't con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don't deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on.

This empire-building is a mark of Trump.

RELATED: 'Arrogant fool' Jim Acosta exposed MSM's dishonest border agenda — again.

The most recent example is the border wall. Yesterday, congress reached a compromise on funding for the border wall. Weeks of tense back-and-forth built up to that moment. At times, it seemed like neither side would budge. Trump stuck to his guns, the government shut down, Trump refused to budge, then, miraculously, the lights came back on again. The result was a compromise. Or at least that's how it appeared.

But really, Trump got what he wanted -- exactly what he wanted. He used the techniques he wrote about in The Art of the Deal:

My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I'm after.

From the start, he demanded $5.7 billion for construction of a border wall. It was a months' long tug-of-war that eventually resulted in yesterday's legislation, which would dedicate $1.4 billion. It would appear that that was what he was after all along. Moments before the vote, he did some last-minute pushing. A national emergency declaration, and suddenly the number is $8 billion.

Art of the Deal:

People think I'm a gambler. I've never gambled in my life. To me, a gambler is someone who plays slot machines. I prefer to own slot machines. It's a very good business being the house.

In a rare show of bipartisanship, Senate passed the legislation 83-16, and the House followed with 300-128. Today, Trump will sign the bill.

It's not even fair to call that a deal, really. A deal is what happens when you go to a car dealership, fully ready to buy a car, and the salesman says the right things. What Trump did is more like a car dealer selling an entire row of cars to someone who doesn't even have a licence. When Trump started, Democrats wouldn't even consider a wall, let alone pay for it.

Art of the Deal:

The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people's fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That's why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It's an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.

He started the wall on a chant, "Build the wall!" until he got what he wanted. He maneuvered like Don Draper, selling people something that they didn't even know they wanted, and convincing them that it is exactly what they've always needed.

As the nation soaks in the victory of the recent passing of the historic First Step Act, there are Congressmen who haven't stopped working to solve additional problems with the criminal justice system. Because while the Act was impactful, leading to the well-deserved early release of many incarcerated individuals, it didn't go far enough. That's why four Congressmen have joined forces to reintroduce the Justice Safety Valve Act—legislation that would grant judges judicial discretion when determining appropriate sentencing.

There's a real need for this legislation since it's no secret that lawmakers don't always get it right. They may pass laws with good intentions, but unintended consequences often prevail. For example, there was a time when the nation believed the best way to penalize lawbreakers was to be tough on crime, leading to sweeping mandatory minimum sentencing laws implemented both nationally and statewide.

RELATED: If Trump can support criminal justice reform, so can everyone else

Only in recent years have governments learned that these sentences aren't good policy for the defendant or even the public. Mandatory minimum sentences are often overly harsh, don't act as a public deterrent for crime, and are extremely costly to taxpayers. These laws tie judges' hands, preventing them from using their knowledge and understanding of the law to make case relevant decisions.

Because legislation surrounding criminal law is often very touchy and difficult to change (especially on the federal level, where bills can take multiple years to pass) mandatory minimum sentences are far from being done away with—despite the data-driven discoveries of their downfalls. But in order to solve the problems inherent within all of the different laws imposing sentencing lengths, Congress needs to pass the Justice Safety Valve Act now. Ensuring its passing would allow judges to use discretion while sentencing, rather than forcing them to continue issuing indiscriminate sentences no matter the unique facts of the case.

Rather than take years to go back and try to fix every single mandatory minimum law that has been federally passed, moving this single piece of legislation forward is the best way to ensure judges can apply their judgment in every appropriate case.

When someone is facing numerous charges from a single incident, mandatory minimum sentencing laws stack atop one another, resulting in an extremely lengthy sentence that may not be just. Such high sentences may even be violations of an individual's eighth amendment rights, what with the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment. It's exactly what happened with Weldon Angelos.

In Salt Lake City in 2002, Weldon sold half a pound of marijuana to federal agents on two separate occasions. Unbeknownst to Weldon, the police had targeted him because they suspected he was a part of a gang and trafficking operation. They were oh-so-wrong. Weldon had never sold marijuana before and only did this time because he was pressured by the agents to find marijuana for them. He figured a couple lowkey sales could help out his family's financial situation. But Weldon was caught and sentenced to a mandatory 55 years in prison. This massive sentence is clearly unjust for a first time, non-violent crime, and even the Judge, Paul Cassell, agreed. Judge Cassell did everything he could to reduce the sentence, but, due to federal law, it wasn't much.

The nation is facing an over-criminalization problem that costs taxpayers millions and amounts to the foolish eradication of individual liberties.

In cases like Weldon's, a safety valve for discretionary power is much needed. Judges need the ability to issue sentences below the mandatory minimums, depending on mitigating factors such as mental health, provocation, or physical illness. That's what this new bill would allow for. Critics may argue that this gives judges too much power, but under the bill, judges must first make a finding on why it's necessary to sentence below the mandatory minimum. Then, they must write a clear statement explaining their decision.

Judges are unlikely to risk their careers to allow dangerous criminals an early release. If something happens after an offender is released early, the political pressure is back on the judge who issued the shorter sentence—and no one wants that kind of negative attention. In order to avoid risky situations like this, they'd use their discretion very cautiously, upholding the oath they took to promote justice in every case.

The nation is facing an overcriminalization problem that costs taxpayers millions and amounts to the foolish eradication of individual liberties. Mandatory minimums have exacerbated this problem, and it's time for that to stop. Congresswomen and men have the opportunity to help solve this looming problem by passing the Justice Safety Valve Act to untie the hands of judges and restore justice in individual sentences.

Molly Davis is a policy analyst at Libertas Institute, a free market think tank in Utah. She's a writer for Young Voices, and her work has previously appeared in The Hill, TownHall.com, and The Washington Examiner.

New gadget for couples in 'the mood' lets a button do the talking

Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

Just in time for Valentine's Day, there's a new romantic gadget for couples that is sure to make sparks fly. For those with their minds in the gutter, I'm not talking about those kinds of gadgets. I'm talking about a brilliant new device for the home called "LoveSync."

This is real — it's a simple pair of buttons for busy, modern couples who have plenty of time for social media and Netflix, but can't quite squeeze in time to talk about their... uh... special relationship.

Here's how it works. Each partner has their own individual LoveSync button. Whenever the mood strikes one partner, all they have to do is press their own button. That sets their button aglow for a certain period of time. If, during that time window, their partner also presses their own button, then both buttons light up in a swirling green pattern to signal that love has "synced"...and it's go time.

According to the makers of LoveSync, this device will "Take the Luck out of Getting Lucky." It brings a whole new meaning to "pushing each other's buttons." It's an ideal gift to tell your significant other "I care," without actually having to care, or talk about icky things like feelings.

If you find your significant other is already on the couch binge-watching The Bachelor, no problem! You can conveniently slink back to your button and hold it in for four seconds to cancel the desire. No harm, no foul! Live to fight another day.

Have fun explaining those buttons to inquiring children.

No word yet on whether LoveSync can also order wine, light candles or play Barry White. Maybe that's in the works for LoveSync 2.0.

Of course, LoveSync does have some pitfalls. Cats and toddlers love a good button. That'll be a fun conversation — "Honey, who keeps canceling my mood submissions?" And have fun explaining those buttons to inquiring children. "Yeah, kids, that button just controls the lawn sprinklers. No big deal."

If you've been dialing it in for years on Valentine's Day with flowers and those crappy boxes of chocolate, now you can literally dial it in. With a button.

Good luck with that.