Saturday, February 13, 2016

Women Are Reshaping the Gun Industry

CNN ^ | Aaron Smith 

Women are buying handguns in record numbers -- especially weapons that are small enough to conceal.
But they are frustrated by the lack of firearm accessories catering to them. So some are starting companies of their own to tailor products to women.
"I thought to myself, 'Where's all the women's stuff?'" said Lorelei Fay of Boise, Idaho.
Fay couldn't find a suitable holster when she got her own concealed carry license. Her mother had taught her to sew, so she made her own: an elastic belly band with a holster for her Sig Sauer semiautomatic handgun. It also has pockets to hold two backup magazines.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Obama to Americans: Don't Count Your Blessings Before I Snatch Them Away! ^ | February 12, 2016 | Calvin Beisner 

So you thought plummeting gas prices were going to free you up to get better health care, more education, a little home improvement, or maybe some nicer clothes for your kids?

Not if Barack Obama has his way. Watching oil prices fall as American ingenuity floods the market, the president figures he can't let you get too much of a good thing.

So he wants to slap a $10 per barrel "fee" on oil, which, with West Texas crude (the benchmark) trading at $21 per barrel on the world market, would make the fee roughly a third of the total price consumers will pay for oil.
They won't pay it directly, of course. That wouldn't be politically popular. The best tax is always a hidden one. So Obama wants the fee to be paid by the oil companies, who of course will simply take a bullet for the rest of us by letting their profits slump.
Or not.
No, of course they'll pass the price on to consumers. It'll be about 25 cents per gallon of gas at the pump, $32 billion nationally, or $290 per household, per year.
The president means well, of course. He assures us that about $20 billion of that will go into infrastructure improvements--for high-speed rail and other collectivist dreams. It would make far too much sense to let infrastructure be paid for by its users when and where they use it. That would deprive members of Congress of the opportunity to use the fund for pork-barrel projects that get them reelected.
What about the other $12 billion? Obama wants to spend it on projects to mitigate global warming.
The benefit of that? Well, let's just say that when eliminating the entire United States population and all its greenhouse gas emissions would reduce global average temperature at the end of this century by less than seven-hundredths of a degree Celsius (which is within the margin of measurement error), implementing those programs would have only a tiny fraction of even that already undetectable and inconsequential amount.
And that's calculated on the falsified alarmist assumptions of high warming from added carbon dioxide. On average, computer climate models predict two to three times the warming actually observed. Over 95 percent predict more warming than observed, implying that the errors aren't random (in which case they'd be as frequently low as high) but driven by bias--honest or otherwise. And, depending on which datasets one prefers, there's been no statistically significant global warming for about the last 18 to 20 years. Those facts entail that the warming effect of added CO2 is much smaller than the alarmists thought, so the cooling effect of Obama's policies would likewise be much smaller.
And even that non-benefit of no detectable reduction in global average temperature assumes the politicians will do what President Obama (says he) wants to do with the revenues. Not likely. If you think a promise to use a new tax for a specific purpose has any credibility, you need to remind yourself of our $19 trillion national debt. It didn't get that way by politicians' fiscal or budgetary prudence and honesty.

Cruz Would Fare 5 Points Better Versus Clinton Than Trump Would

 Weekly Standard ^ | 2/11/2016 | Jeffrey H. Anderson 

Among the two candidates whose results look at all like those of an eventual GOP presidential nominee, polling suggests that Ted Cruz would do significantly better than Donald Trump in the general election. According to the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls, Cruz would fare 5 points better versus Hillary Clinton than Trump would.
Polling has consistently shown Cruz to have an advantage over Trump in this regard: Fox News found that Cruz would fare 4 points better than Trump, beating Clinton by 7 points (50 to 43 percent) to Trump's 3 (47 to 44 percent). NBC News and the Wall Street Journal found that Cruz would fare 6 points better than Trump, losing to Clinton by 4 points (49 to 45 percent) to Trump's 10 (51 to 41 percent). And Quinnipiac found that Cruz would fare 5 points better than Trump, tying Clinton (at 45 percent apiece) while Trump would lose by 5 points (46 to 41 percent).
In all, RCP's average finds that Cruz would beat Clinton by 1 point (47 to 46 percent), while Trump would lose by 4 points (47 to 43 percent).

Pro-Growth Legislation Awaits a Republican President ^ | February 12, 2013 | Donald Lambro 

A menacing black cloud is looming over our economy, one that should make the 2016 presidential election a slam-dunk for Republicans -- depending on who the GOP nominates this summer.
The U.S. economy slowed to a crawl in the last three months of 2015, barely growing by 0.7 percent, following a sluggish third quarter. Industrial activity is anemic. Retail sales have been mediocre. The stock market is in a nose dive. And millions of Americans fear we may be headed toward another recession.
Few Americans believe the unemployment rate is really at 5 percent, as millions of Americans are forced to take part-time, low-wage jobs when they need full-time work. Many more have dropped out of the labor force entirely.
Median wages, adjusted for inflation, have only recently climbed to where they were when the Great Recession hit our economy as Obama took office.
A Rasmussen Reports survey in January said that 62 percent of Americans believe our country is on the wrong track. And the Gallup Poll says that many Americans are less confident in the economy's future.
The one person being blamed for all of this is Barack Obama, whose anti-growth, anti-job policies have given us seven-plus years of an uneven, underperforming economy.
A headline in The Washington Post last week revealed that the West Wing must be worried, too, fearing that a rapidly declining economy will kill the Democrats' chances of holding on to the White House in November. "Obama campaigns again, this time for economy," it said.
"The United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world," Obama insisted, blaming the Republicans for spreading a "doom and gloom" message across the country.
"They're peddling fiction during a political season," the president maintained. "It's strange to watch people try to outdo each other in saying how bad things are," he said last month in Detroit.
But a Washington Post-ABC News poll says 46 percent of Americans disapprove of the way he has handled the economy. Not a hopeful sign for the so-called party of the working class.
Yale University economist Ray C. Fair, who predicts presidential election outcomes with what the Post says is "a high degree of accuracy," says his forecasting model shows the Democrats losing "by a fairly large amount."
Democrats on Capitol Hill are scared that they will be the victims of Obama's failed economy in the fall and lose their jobs. And that was evident Wednesday when Fed Chair Janet Yellen underwent a combative grilling before the House Financial Services Committee.
Yellen, who is under growing political pressure to delay any increase in interest rates in a collapsing economy, got the message.
After ticking off all of the headwinds hitting the economy, she told the panel, "I think we want to be careful not to jump to a premature conclusion about what is in store for the U.S. economy."
There were a great many observers who thought it was premature of her to start raising interest rates last year in what was still a fragile economy -- and, if anything, still is. Indeed, after what Americans have gone through over the past seven years, it's hard to see that the Fed's action has helped very much, if at all.
"It is fatal conceit to believe that the Fed is capable of micromanaging our economy to some state of economic nirvana," said Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the committee's Republican chairman.
The fiscal policy tools to get the economy moving again are on Capitol Hill, where they have always been -- not at the Fed or anywhere else.
Republican pro-job, pro-growth tax-cut legislation is sitting in the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee right now, awaiting a president who will sign it into law.
Obama and the rest of the Democratic gang fiercely oppose this legislation. Instead, they want to raise taxes to pay for more social welfare spending and more crony giveaways. Higher taxes on investors would dry up risk capital, kill job creation, reduce incomes and smother economic expansion.
Every time Congress has cut tax rates, it has led to a stronger and more vibrant economy, more jobs and more economic opportunity for more Americans.
In the last 50 years, three presidents have championed tax cuts that lifted our economy to a higher level: John F. Kennedy, who campaigned on cutting tax rates across the board in the 1960s; Ronald Reagan, who did the same in the 1980s and ended Jimmy Carter's recession in just two years; and Bill Clinton, who signed a GOP capital gains tax cut in his second term with fabulous results.
All of them significantly boosted economic growth and brought more tax revenue into the Treasury, to boot. JFK's tax cuts, despite the naysayers who said it would explode the deficit, led to a budget surplus at the end of the '60s.
All of the GOP presidential candidates are proposing tax incentives to grow the economy -- from Donald Trump to Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton's campaign is all about raising taxes and spending on an alphabet soup of federal programs for all of her party's special interests, and raising the minimum wage on struggling businesses that will result in thousands of job layoffs, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
And then there's avowed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, who says he will slap a trillion dollars in higher income taxes on the economy, including parts of the middle class.
Sanders says, falsely, that the rich do not pay their fair share. But in 2010, the top 10 percent made 45 percent of the income, yet they paid 70.6 percent of taxes, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.

Hospitals and Chain Drug Stores ^ | February 12, 2016 | Dan Horowitz 

Recently, a number of purportedly conservative commentators have been making the case against reform of a gaping loophole in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) "340b" program. But like the seedy snake oil salesmen of the Old West, these boisterous naysayers are not merely engaged in a game of corporate Three Card Monty. Sadly, these shills are now working - both in public and through quiet lobbying of Congress - to stop recommended improvements seeking to put a stop to wasteful and unnecessary spending.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), part of HHS, oversees the 340b program and requires drug companies to make their products available to low income patients at a steep discount. The 340b program is a requirement with which drug companies must comply so they may participate in Medicare. The participating drug companies sell their products at a reduced cost to hospitals and pharmacies who then turn around and prescribe the medicine to qualifying low-income consumers.
CMS reimburses the hospitals and pharmacies for the drugs taken by Medicare covered patients, at an amount which is statutorily set rate, regardless of what the cost was for the hospital or pharmacy to purchase the drug from the manufacturer. But unfortunately this is where the Government Accounting Office (GAO) has found a serious problem - and one that the hospitals and major pharmacies don't want Congress to fix.
As GAO said in their June 2015 report:
"Therefore, there is a financial incentive at hospitals participating in the 340B program to prescribe more drugs or more expensive drugs to Medicare beneficiaries. Unnecessary spending has negative implications, not just for the Medicare program, but for Medicare beneficiaries as well, who would be financially liable for larger copayments as a result of receiving more drugs or more expensive drugs."
So while the program's goal is noble, in reality hospitals and the big-name pharmacies are gaming the system - buying the drugs at the government established prices, but often billing patients for the normal, higher price - and getting paid by CMS for doing it!
For example, if the program requires a drug company to sell a drug for $100 instead of its normal price of $200, bad actor hospitals and drug stores are buying the drug for $100 and selling it to patients and customers for the normal $200.
Congressional investigators at GAO found that Duke University's hospital, a "non-profit" that pays its CEO over $2 million in salary, has made an extra $50 million dollars from this loophole. You can almost picture the meetings where crony capitalists and their lobbyists come up with these plans: "$50 million a year and we get to say we help the poor? Now that's a program I can get behind!"
Unsurprisingly, the Obama administration has been drawn like a moth to a flame to 340B. Not only does it hit the right liberal notes on its supposed purpose, the president's top aides know it's a way to reward the industry allies that helped get Obamacare across the finish line.
Obamacare included a major expansion of 340B, and the administration recently issued a regulation that made it much easier for hospitals and national chain stores like CVS to profit from the loophole.
The Government Accountability Office has been sounding the alarm about the program, including in recent congressional testimony in which the government watchdog said 340B may actually be harming low-income patients more than it helps them.
Suddenly, concerned their gravy train is in danger, the sectors that profit from this glitch have published a flurry of op-eds trying to confuse the issue while their lobbyists work hard to soften concerns about the program on Capitol Hill.
Their case typically goes something like this: 340B is "voluntary," the government doesn't spend much money on it, and by helping poor people it dampens the public's demand for socialized medicine.
Once you understand the real background, those arguments are completely ridiculous.
First, companies that don't participate can't sell drugs to a vast market of Medicare patients who have no practical option to switch health insurance plans. You could just as easily say the speed limit is voluntary because you don't have to drive. While this is technically true it is completely irrelevant.
Secondly, the people who this policy is supposed to benefit..... aren't receiving the discounts! That margin is being siphoned off by a middle man - who are supposed to be serving the patients, not taking more money from them.
Thirdly, whatever the merits of these discounts on the long-term debate over health care policy, one thing guaranteed to produce anger against the status quo is for well-heeled corporations to pilfer a discount intended to help poor people.
If there were ever something likely to convince ordinary citizens that a radical shakeup against the status quo is needed, it's this type of shameless crony capitalist arrangement that has become far, far too common in the U.S.
Stealing money from the wallets of the poor and the elderly is really low. Pretending to care about them only to ward off reforms is even lower.

On health care, Bernie betrayed vets to protect unions!

New York Post ^ | 2/9/2016 | Betsy McCaughey 

The conventional wisdom is that Hillary Clinton is the candidate with the honesty problem. But on at least one important issue, Bernie Sanders isn't shooting straight.
Sanders falsely claims he's been leading the fight to save veterans from the corruption and deadly medical care delays at the Veterans Affairs Department - a message intended to resonate with New Hampshire's large vet population. The truth is, as chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Sanders sabotaged VA reform.
Sanders' allegiance is to public-sector unions, and to serve them, he betrayed vets. You wouldn't know that from his campaign-trail boasts.
The next contests are Nevada, with a quarter-million vets, and South Carolina, home to eight military bases and some 418,000 vets. You can bet Sanders will keep repeating his bogus claims, but he ought to be called out on them.
Sanders brags about the 2014 Veterans Choice and Accountability Act: "We went further than any time in recent history in improving health care for the men and women of the country who put their lives on the line to defend us."
Yet since the law was passed, wait times are longer, not shorter, and ailing vets still get the runaround.
Last week, the VA inspector general reported that a Colorado facility systematically faked records, and kept sick vets from getting appointments with private doctors. Meanwhile, the feds reversed the demotions of two VA executives for a corrupt scheme that cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The laughable justification was that it would be unfair to punish them when so many others did the same and got away with it.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Report: Criminologists, Economists Find Benefits to Gun Ownership

Townhall ^ | 02/10/2016 | Leah Barkoukis 

This past December marked three years since the massacre at Sandy Hook. Commemorating the anniversary, President Obama took to Facebook to pen a post that wondered how we as a nation explain congressional inaction on gun control to the victims' families. This type of rhetoric has been a common refrain from the president in the wake of other mass shootings since Newtown and the near-daily shootings in cities like Chicago. But despite attempts by President Obama, congressional Democrats, and the gun control lobby to push for stricter gun laws as the answer to gun violence, the nation remains divided on the issue.
So where do academics stand on the relationship between gun ownership and crime? A newly released survey of experts from the Crime Prevention Research center found that researchers supported what Second Amendment advocates have argued all along regarding concealed handgun laws, gun-free zones, self-defense and crime, and suicide and guns.
Authors of the report John R. Lott, Jr., president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, and Gary Mauser, Professor Emeritus of the Marketing Department at Simon Fraser University, surveyed criminologists and economists who had published peer-reviewed empirical research on gun issues. The survey found that differences exist between these two groups of academics, with the economists much more inclined to believe guns makes people safer. Criminologists, on the other hand, do not hold this belief as strongly. They are also more divided on the idea of deterrence than economists. Still, when their responses are combined, the results show that the researchers believe guns are used more for self defense than crime;
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Sanders: We Must End Over-Policing in African-American Neighborhoods!

CNS News ^ | February 12, 2016 | Melanie Hunter 

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called for an end of "over-policing" in black neighborhoods during the PBS Democratic presidential debate in Milwaukee, Wis., on Thursday night.
"What we have to do is end over-policing in African-American neighborhoods. The reality is that both the African-American community and the white community do marijuana at about equal rates," Sanders said. "The reality is four times as many blacks get arrested for marijuana. Truth is that far more blacks get stopped for traffic violations."
An undecided voter via Facebook wrote: "Wisconsin is number one in African-American male incarceration, according to a University of Wisconsin study. They found that Wisconsin's incarceration rate for black men, which is at 13 percent, was nearly double the country's rate. What can we do across the nation to address this?"
"This is one of the great tragedies in our country today, and we can no longer continue to sweep it under the rug. It has to be dealt with. Today a male African-American baby born today stands a one-in-four chance of ending up in jail. That is beyond unspeakable," he said. "So what we have to do is the radical reform of a broken criminal justice system.
"What we have to do is end over-policing in African-American neighborhoods. The reality is that both the African-American community and the white community do marijuana at about equal rates. The reality is four times as many blacks get arrested for marijuana. Truth is that far more blacks get stopped for traffic violations," Sanders said.
"The truth is that sentencing for blacks is higher than for whites. We need fundamental police reform, clearly, clearly, when we talk about a criminal justice system. I would hope that we could all agree that we are sick and tired of seeing videos on television of unarmed people, often African-Americans, shot by police officers," Sanders said.
"What we have got to do is make it clear that any police officer who breaks the law will, in fact, be held accountable," he added.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she agreed with Sanders, noting that the first speech she gave during her campaign last April was about criminal justice reform and ending mass incarceration.
"The statistics from Wisconsin are particularly troubling, because it is the highest rate of incarceration for African-Americans in our nation, twice the national average, and we know of the tragic, terrible event that lead to the death of Dontre Hamilton right here in Milwaukee, a young man unarmed, who should still be with us," Clinton said. "His family certainly believes that, and so do I. So we have work to do.
"There have been some good recommendations about what needs to happen. President Obama's policing commission came out with some. I have fully endorsed those, but we have to restore policing that will actually protect the communities that police officers are sworn to protect," she said.
"And, then we have to go after sentencing, and that's one of the problems here in Wisconsin because so much of what happened in the criminal justice system doesn't happen at the federal level, it happens at the state and local level, but I would also add this," said Clinton.
"There are other racial discrepancies, really systemic racism in this state, as in others, education, in employment, in the kinds of factors that too often lead from a position where young people, particularly young men, are pushed out of school early, are denied employment opportunities. So, when we talk about criminal justice reform, and ending the era of mass incarceration, we also have to talk about jobs, education, housing, and other ways of helping communities," she added.
Sanders called for more diversity in police departments, saying they should "look like the communities they serve in their diversity."
"And, where we are failing abysmally is in the very high rate of recidivism we see. People are being released from jail without the education, without the job training, without the resources that they need to get their lives together, then they end up - we're shocked that they end up back in jail again. So, we have a lot of work to do," he said.
"But, here is a pledge I've made throughout this campaign, and it's really not a very radical pledge. When we have more people in jail, disproportionately African American and Latino, than China does, a communist authoritarian society four times our size," Sanders said.
"Here's my promise, at the end of my first term as president we will not have more people in jail than any other country. We will invest in education, and jobs for our kids, not incarceration and more jails," he added.

Mitchell and Todd Appalled By Cruz's 'Vicious' Office Space Parody

NewsBusters ^ | February 12, 2016 | Scott Whitlock 

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd were appalled by a new Ted Cruz commercial attacking Hillary Clinton, labeling it “vicious” and “rough.” The campaign spot parodied the 1999 cult classic Office Space, showing “Hillary Clinton” angrily destroying a computer hard drive.

After playing a clip, a disgusted Chuck Todd condemned, “That was a little rough. That was a little uncomfortable to watch.” Todd added, “That looked vicious” and suggested the commercial crossed the line.

Mitchell lectured, “First of all, Ted Cruz is not running against Hillary Clinton yet. And I just think the parody is great in politics,” but “I'm not sure it plays in South Carolina, the Bible Belt.”

It’s rare on MSNBC to see such concern for the sensibilities of Christians.

Given that Chuck Todd has tossed softballs to Hillary Clinton on the e-mail scandal and Mitchell was thrilled when Bill Clinton hit the campaign trail for his wife, perhaps the journalists should have realized the ad wasn’t aimed at them.

A transcript of the exchange is below:

Tell the Truth 2016

Andrea Mitchell Reports

ANDREA MITCHELL: Ted Cruz has had very edgy, clever, some would say, ads. But there's a question. I just want to play part of this Office Space spoof for you. Because I was talking to a political science professor just yesterday about civility and discourse in this campaign. We talked about profanity, a lot of other obvious issues and then this pops up.      

[Clip of Ted Cruz “Office Space” ad.]


CHUCK TODD: That was a little rough. That was a little uncomfortable to watch.

MITCHELL: Yeah!  First of all, Ted Cruz is not running against Hillary Clinton yet. And I just think the parody is great in politics or anything, but —

TODD: Whatever. There was the line. That looked vicious. It was sort of, whatever it is, whatever that line —

MITCHELL: I'm not sure it plays in South Carolina, the Bible Belt.

TODD: I'm not sure if it does either. I don’t know if it does either.