Thursday, February 28, 2019

House passes two gun control bills (closes Charleston loophole) but unlikely to get through Senate (action effort mounted)



David and Lauren Hogg made a short film, animated, on the policy changes necessary to reduce gun violence.  It’s on Twitter here (I didn’t see a YouTube link).  Again, I’d like them to make a feature film based on this past year (I’d contribute to a kickstarter if there were one – I did to a television show on this.) 

David’s Twitter feed today also shows him making an appeal to text your Senators to pass legislation recently passed by the House. 



The House has in fact passed two bills (the first on gun control in a long time) on party lines to tighten background checks. 

The first bill requires federal background checks on all gun sales, including (especially) private sales. 
  
The second bill closes the “Charleston loophole” that allows some gun sales to be completed before an investigation is completed, by some number of business days.  But Dylan Roof already had the weapon he used for two months. 
  
We’re probably in a situation where schools need metal detectors for all who enter the buildings.  Maybe there is some faster way to see them with technology.  Even that is not perfect, as there are plastic weapons.  The “3-D” printed weapons fortunately work only for one or two rounds, usually. When I was substitute teaching in the mid 2000’s there were no checks (in northern VA) although a few schools required you to leave your driver’s license.  One special ed teacher was busted one day at a school where I worked for having weapons in his car.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Abuse of minors reported at southern border while House passes bill to undo Trump's national security emergency


Pamela Brown et al on CNN are reporting on sexual abuse of minors at the border under US custody, mostly of unaccompanied children, mostly of females.  
 
Despite the fact that illegal immigration through the border has dropped since 2000, unaccompanied minors have apparently increased.  Most come from Hondouras, Guatemala and particularly El Salvador. Many are kept in Nogales, AZ and then transferred to military facilities turned to detention centers.  The law allows expedited returns of children from Mexico but not the other Central American countries.   
  

  

It would be challenging to set up sponsorship or adoption programs for them, but Canada has tried harder than we have.   
  
All this goes on while the House votes down Trump’s national emergency declaration. It will pass the Senate and lead to Trump's first veto, ironically.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Climate change debate leads to insult from Ocasio-Cortez, SJW rebuf of Diane Feinstein



OK, just a couple of insults in the media yesterday.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rebuffed a critic of her total Green New Deal and said “we are in control and you’re shouting from the cheap seats”.  OK, you have to have money to speak?  That’s why my content is free.  This idea can go in dangerous directions, for me at least. 




Well, she had to crowd fund her security deposit for her rent in DC?

Seriously, now she sounds like Kellyanne Conway on the left, saying that morality is more important than being factually and semantically correct (in related to destroying the Amazon deal for New York). 

Then Senator Diane Feinstein, meeting with schoolkids in California, rebuffed the most radical climate change proposals and said she had been working on this for thirty years and wasn’t going to respond to criticism that she wasn’t energetic enough. And the SJW took her remarks and started another little twitter storm, as if she were attacking the kids. 

Feinstein is level headed and right about most things. 
  
Today, Fareed Zakaria interviewed author David Wallace-Wells, about “The Uninhabitable Earth”, which is getting beyond “inconvenient truth” zones. The moral conundrums, at a personal level, become even more complex. Wells wants to do something about bovine emissions of methane.   The climate was still stable 25 years ago, but not now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Would Germany's health insurance system provide a good model for reform (even for Bernie Sanders)?


Jamie Drew, in the New York Times, offers an interesting argument that the U.S, would do well to consider the German model for health insurance rather than Canada’s. 





As the video explains there are public and private insurance systems. 
  
This seems to be a fair mix of private incentives for innovation (regulated to prevent perverse incentives) along with fairly priced and means-tested health insurance for everyone.

  

Update: Feb. 24 

Today Fareed Zakaria recommended Switzerland's system, which he said resembles Obamacare with a very strict individual mandate and very stable premium supports for lower income people. But it can't sell politically here. But do the math. 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

EFF analyzes presidential "emergency declarations" as posing a surveillance threat for ordinary Americans



Cindy Cohn and Shahid Buttar have a summary article at Electronic Frontier Foundation on the constitutional and legal questions about President Trump’s “national emergency” to get his “wall” built on parts of the southern border, link
  
There is tension between two concepts.  Congress is supposed to control how money is appropriated. But Congress was quite loose in defining exactly what constitutes a “national emergency” as it assumed the president would act in good faith. 

In this case, Trump admits he doesn’t really have to do it (blunder), and that it is a political trick to appease his aggrieved base. 





On January 5, I wrote a detailed piece on my Books blog on an Atlantic piece that went into how an emergency declaration could interfere with many other things, including expression on the Internet. Perhaps that idea is softened by the reality of many other standing emergencies (such as for 9/11) were never rescinded. A Fox article Thursday did mention “martial law”.   (Curiously Fox would not allow a link to this article from this blog;  go to ' https://www.foxnews.com/politics/what-is-a-national-emergency-how-can-trump-use-it-to-fund-border-wall ' on your own; this almost sounds like EU's "article 11" -- or is this just a security certificate problem?) 

 
EFF’s biggest concern is increased covert surveillance of normal Internet activity, which could lead to wrongful prosecutions. 

CBS News reports that multiple lawsuits were filed late Friday.
  
Nicholas Fandos analyzes ("four key questions"_ what Congress can do, but it would be unlikely to override a veto of the undo.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Trump expected to sign compromise tomorrow, and then work around; make El Chapo pay?



Erica Warner et al report in the Washington Post this morning that Congress is working on its “social studies test” compromise for signature before midnight Friday, Feb. 15, link here.

But Trump is expected to institute some executive orders, probably short of an emergency, to fund more of the wall, past $2 billion or so.  Ted Cruz suggests that the money be confiscated from El Chapo.  I’d go for that.



  

Today is February 14, Valentines Day, one year from the Parkland Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting.

Update:

McConnell announced today that Trump would issue some sort of Emergency Friday.  Here is what ABC News writes as interpretation. 

Update Friday:

When I stopped for lunch in Rocky Mount, NC at a Denny's I checked my phone and found Trump's statement.  By saying he didn't have to do this, he shot himself in the foot and amputated his toes. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Bipartisan border security negotiations reported to bog down as Feb. 15 deadline approaches



The major media, especially CNN is reporting that bipartisan negotiation on border security, due by Feb. 15, is breaking down again, as in this article by Stephen Collinson. 

The Democrats seem to want the limit the number of detention beds for ICE.  It’s not clear if this applies only along the border, or at the many detention centers in the country.  (There are several in each of Virginia, Maryland and especially Pennsylvania.)  Apparently the number of beds for minors is part of the issue.  


It would sound logical to appropriate a budget for beds and then have a mechanism to handle an emergency.  Why is this a sticking point?  It should not be acceptable to release undocumented people without some sort of process or supervision (asylum application, relatives, sponsors, non-profits, etc, which need to be built up).

There seems to be some progress on the issue of the actual fence or wall itself.
  
It seems more likely that some sort of “emergency declaration” could occur Feb. 16 than an actual partial shutdown. No more political hostages, please. 

Later Monday:

Oh, well, now there is an "agreement in principle" (Washington Post, Erica Werner et al). . 

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Is the public health establishment "right" on selling colonoscopies?



I will do a Cologuard test first (I plan to do it around President’s Day, after getting some other stuff done), but if there is a positive DNA test (likely at my age), then there would be a colonoscopy.


There are some naysayers out there, although most of the YouTube videos are supportive.  Not this one.

I’m not sure what to make of his statistics, and whether this is a case of the public health establishment vs. the libertarian-prepper-gun-owing-self-sufficiency crowd.  He seems to have some nutritional supplements to sell.

This begins to sound a bit like the anti-vax debate. 
  
Here’s another example of a bad experience.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Anti-vaccine, anti-climate-change; many people simply don't trust "elite" information sources and depend on tribal hierarchy for what they believe, period



Yesterday, I read a Facebook post from a Friend who said her daughter was unvaccinated against measles and that she lived in an era with an outbreak, and wondered how to protect her daughter. Duh?  Get vaccinated?

And I saw comments from people who believe that they should not expose their kids to even the slightest theoretical chance of autism.
  
So I know, of course, the medical world’s position, for example, the AMA  Or Harvard, with Vivien Chou

If I had kids, I would vaccinate them.  I recall that Tribeca film festival pulled a film ("Vaxxed") that supported vaccine resistance. 


That’s a big “skin in the game” question, isn’t it.

I thought, how until modern times, most people were used to getting their information through a familial or tribal hierarchy (including religious).  Truth is not highly individualized.  Judgment was based on “common sense” and real world experience.  Just like an Army Basic, a few of the earthier soldiers said I had no “common sense”.

So people who live in more rural areas, in a more self-contained “intentional” community want the freedom to live according to what is their own personal experiential “common sense”.  We see this especially with the gun debate.  

And we see it with climate change, although you would think more parents, even in communities like this, would be more concerned about their own grandchildren.  They’ve been caught especially flatfooted by the wildfire problem.
  
The problem of course is, as people mix with others, some “herd immunity” problems start to surface. Public health officials insist that when parents refuse to allow an older child to be vaccinated, the parents are putting at risk other people's kids who are still too young to be vaccinated (especially measles).  I have measles just before my 7th birthday in 1950.    




Update: Feb. 3

Julia Belluz, in a 2017 article, applies Moral Foundations Theory to explain the attitude of parents who do not want to allow their kids to be vaccinated. 

Belluz also has an article Feb. 1 on measles itself.