Wednesday, January 30, 2013

GDP Was Negative for Last Quarter of 2012

The economic output of the United States contracted by 0.1% in the last three months of 2012. What does that mean, exactly?

First, it's bad. The lone bright spot was that consumer spending was strong. I'd love to see how much of that consumer spending was on guns and ammo.I know I'm doing my part on that front. By the by, if we have another consecutive negative GDP number this quarter, it's officially a recession.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Krauthammer on Challenges Facing Conservatives

Krauthammer has a wonderful wit, thinks sensible thoughts, and is an all-around smart guy. If you have a few hours, it's worth your while. If you're a conservative looking for a way forward, it's a must-watch. Link here.

[h/t @rdbrewer4]

Friday, January 25, 2013

NLRB Appointments Declared Unconstitutional

Full text of the opinion here.

Remember when the President made the appointments to the NLRB by taking the position that a "pro forma" session of the Senate didn't actually count? Yeah, well the DC Court of Appeals considered that issue, and guess what? Our genius-level, three-dimensional chess playing, Constitutional scholar was wrong.

The three appointments made to the NLRB have been declared unconstitutional.

Here's the money part of the opinion:
Considering the text, history, and structure of the Constitution, these appointments were invalid from their inception. Because the Board lacked a quorum of three members when it issued its decision in this case on February 8, 2012, its decision must be vacated.
Basically, pro-forma sessions mean the Senate is "in Session". Like everyone said. If you don't like an NLRB decision made after the appointment of those members, you can successfully challenge it. You think that anyone out there might object to some of what the NLRB has done recently?

That sound you're hearing from Boeing is not jet engines. That would be Boeing's lawyers revving up their word processors.

Someone much smarter than me (at Volokh) says this is heading to SCOTUS.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Why Women Want AR-15s

Here's why young women want AR-15s. It's pretty hard to argue with. I especially like the part about hitting what you're aiming at. That is kinda the point.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Phil Mickleson and Incentives

Mountain man and trout reaper @wolverine280 brings us the story of PGA golfer, Phil Mickleson, who has decided that he may need to make "drastic changes" because of the 60% tax rate he faces living in California and facing steep Federal and state taxes.

Look. It's pretty simple. If you can move from California to Florida and save a bunch of money in the process, is it really that hard of a decision? We are all obligated to pay taxes, but we aren't obligated to stay in any particular state. If one state is more tax friendly (and has equivalent golf) why shouldn't Mickleson move? Heck, tons of PGA pros have their residence in Florida. I know that he regrets getting political. He's got tons of fans that he doesn't want to alienate. He can't say what he really thinks, so I'll say it for him: the taxes are too damn high.

The important thing here is that incentives matter. People almost always act in their self-interest. Mickleson leaving California is what is best for him and his family, because he'll have more money to spend on his family.

He won't be the last wealthy person to leave the Golden State in his rear-view mirror.

Debt Ceiling Being Raised - GOP Surrender

Sorry I haven't had a post in awhile. I was busy lawyerin'.

Hey! Remember when the GOP was going to fight Obama on the debt ceiling and try to get cuts equivalent to any raise in the borrowing level? Good times.

Looks like the GOP has decided to waive the white flag and raise the debt ceiling in exchange for nothing. The second part of the bill (withholding pay for Congress if no budget is passed) is just a gimmick.

Does anyone really think Congress is going to withhold their own pay? Yeah, me either.

Surrender. Get used to it, GOP.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Weekend Thread - The Duck is In Charge

I'll be breaking things in North Carolina tomorrow, so everyone behave yourselves.  Full review of Smoke Rise Field Club on Monday. Until then, the duck is in charge.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My Gun Control Proposals

Since I don't want to just sit on the sidelines and criticize other people's suggestions for how to improve our country, here are the Permanent Press Gun Control/Gun Safety Proposals:
  1. If you want to own either a handgun or a long-gun (shotgun or rifle) you are required to take a basic, one day class to understand how to be moderately proficient in using the gun and in gun safety. You only have to do this once. (For example, if you are buying your second gun, you don't need to take the class again.)
  2. Universal background checks for anyone transferring a firearm. For private sellers, a free internet portal shall be available to run the check. It's 2013, everyone can use the internet. Also, if you can't use the internet, you probably shouldn't be using a gun.
  3. Each school district can decide for themselves what the appropriate level of security they want. If a small rural school in Wyoming doesn't want anything, that's fine. If an inner city school wants cops with riot shotguns in hallways, that's fine, too. But each locality gets to decide, because each locality has to pay for whatever they choose to have.
  4. That's it. Enjoy the rest of your day.

Manti Te'o's Girlfriend

College football has the best offseason ever. The most inspirational story from one of the most storied programs in college football history has one of their most celebrated players at the center of a hoax.

Ok, first this is funny. It's like the Indiana version of "Weekend at Bernie's" or something. I don't know. All I know is that this is a ridiculous fact pattern. I have a hard time accepting ND's version of events.

As I said before, this is funny.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The President's Executive Orders on Guns

I didn't watch the President's speech today. (I was in Court at the time) However, I did find the full text here. I thought this paragraph from the President was interesting:
Now, let me be absolutely clear: Like most Americans, I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. I respect our strong tradition of gun ownership and the rights of hunters and sportsmen. There are millions of responsible, law-abiding gun owners in America who cherish their right to bear arms for hunting or sport or protection or collection.
I'm merely "collecting" the semi-automatic guns and high capacity magazines. Purely for historical and artistic purposes, of course.

In all seriousness, the list of Executive Orders was mostly enforcement of existing law and telling people to do their jobs. I don't really have any objections. However, that isn't to say that any of these Executive Orders will be effective at stopping gun violence.

News Roundup: January 16, 2013

Happy Wednesday! The week is half over.

News Roundup:

  1. Jake's Bar and Grill settles a dram shop liability case for a little under a million dollars that resulted in a death.
  2. South Carolina is seeking to be reimbursed $53,000 from the $3.5 million dollar suit on the voter ID deal. (Kind of a Pyrrhic Victory if you ask me.)
  3. Charleston County school bus driver's union threatens to go on strike.  The funny thing here is that the Charleston School District isn't even at the negotiating table. This is a dispute between the bus drivers and the company that the School District hired.
  4. The White House says it's proposed federal budget is going to be released a week later than mandated by law. Meh, it's not like the budget is going to be enacted anyway. We've been running the country without a budget for years.
That's all I've got for y'all today. Enjoy the latter half of your week.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

NY Passes Most Restrictive Gun Laws in Country

NY now has new gun laws. It's some pretty tough stuff: no magazines with capacity over seven rounds, all gun sales must have a check, and ammo sales are now going to require a background check (and are additionally taxed).

This gun is now illegal in New York since it has a 15 round magazine: [UPDATE] Actually, I went through and read the full text of the law, and lever action rifles are exempted. can still legally own this gun. Since they've basically made the modern version of this gun illegal, maybe the ol' 1873 will have experience a renaissance.
Winchester 1873 (Yes, it was designed in 1873)
Hey, this was an "assault weapon" back in 1873.

Charleston Under Siege By Hogs

People of Charleston: Watch out for 200 lb. wild hogs rooting through your yards at night. The good news is that they are not protected, and there's no season on them, so you can hunt them as much as you want.

BBQ anyone?

Monday, January 14, 2013

British Men Want Miniskirts Banned

Back in the day, Great Britain used to be the world's greatest superpower. The men who lived there were tough, went off to fight for Queen and Country, the Glory of the Empire, and they were tough. This is the country of Winston Churchill, Capt. Cook, Admiral Neslon, Richard the Lionhearted, T.E. Lawrence, and so on...

Great Britain used to be the home to manly men.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. We're witnessing the collapse of Western civilization.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Another Championship for Alabama

Last night, Mallory Hagan (competing as Miss New York) defeated Ali Rogers (competing as Miss South Carolina) to win the National Championship for being pretty a/k/a Miss America. However, after further review I think the title actually should go to Alabama.
Hagan left her native Alabama for New York at 18 with less than $1,000 in her pocket. She began competing in pageants when she was 13 and tried for Miss New York in 2010 and 2011 before winning last year.
Whoa! Flag on the pageant! Miss New York is actually from Alabama! Just so you can decide for yourself, here's a picture of "Miss New York".

You're going to try to tell me that's not a southern girl?

Roll Tide.

Friday, January 11, 2013

New County To Be Formed in SC?

Say hello to Birch County? This is officially a silly idea.

Mortgage Reform Settlement a Total Failure

"Because they have no idea how many borrowers were harmed, the regulators are spreading the cash payments over all 3.8 million borrowers — whether there was evidence of harm or not."

The government is giving out the settlement money randomly because they can't figure out who actually got harmed. Is Lillian McBride in charge of this as well?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lost and Found Notice in the Free Times

MISSING: Vincent Smith's Michigan helmet.

LAST SEEN: Tampa, FL. 1/1/2013. If found, call (734) 647-2583.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chapin Teacher Suspended for Stomping on American Flag

An Honors English teacher in Lexington/Richland District 5 apparently threw an American flag on the floor of the classroom of students and stomped on it. Wait, what?

"He drew a couple of symbols, like one of them was a cross, and he said, 'What does this represent,' and everybody said, 'Christianity,'" said Copeland.
"Then he proceeds to take down the American flag, and said, 'This is a symbol, but it's only a piece of cloth. It doesn't mean anything,' and then he throws it down on the floor and then stomps on it, repeatedly."
First of all, what is going on in Honors English these days? Aren't they supposed to be struggling through The Canterbury Tales; The Great Gatsby; Absalom, Absalom!; and know...books? What book did this relate to?

Also, I don't think you can say "this is a symbol" and they say "it doesn't mean anything". That's actually the whole point of a symbol. Symbols represent things. They mean things. Stomping on the American flag means something. It's perfectly within your rights to do so, but when you stomp on a flag, you're expressing yourself. The act means something because the symbol means something. I guess this knuckle-head, wannabe-teacher wanted to express himself. He did. Now he's suspended.

When I was in school, we used to say the pledge of allegiance in the morning. Do they still do that?

Late Night Snack for The King

Yesterday was Elvis Presley's birthday, and I missed it. He would have been 78. Happy belated birthday to the King of Rock and Roll.

My New Year's Resolution prevents me from having this late night snack, that Elvis once had but that shouldn't stop you. (No, it's not the peanut butter and banana sandwich.)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Today in WWII (Stalingrad)

January 8, 1943: The Red Army has the Germans army encircled near Stalingrad. The Soviets offer the Germans "Gingerbread or the whip". Who knows if the Soviets would have actually lived up to their offer? They were notoriously hard on prisoners.

In my opinion, Germany's decision to change focus and start bombing British cities rather than to continue to focus on the aerodromes (the Battle of Britain) and the ill-advised German push to Stalingrad were two of the major turning points in the war.

Monday, January 7, 2013

BCS Championship - Who You Got?

Tonight, Alabama and Notre Dame play in the BCS Championship for the national title. It's Forrest Gump vs. Rudy, Cousins vs. Catholics, Pachyderms vs. Papists.

Who you got? My prediction is that the Alabama defense is going to slow down the Notre Dame offense enough to keep the game low-scoring, and turnovers will decide the game. Can Notre Dame play fundamental football, play mistake-free football, and keep pace with the vaunted SEC? We'll see...

Fearless Permanent Press Prediction:

Forrest Gump: 24
Rudy:              27

Yeah, I'm picking the upset. Also, I like the South Carolina connection Notre Dame has. If you haven't been paying attention to college football, the Notre Dame quarterback, Everett Golson, is from the Palmetto State.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday Happy Hour: Vodka

Enjoy the first Friday Happy Hour of 2013, y'all. Did you know that vodka is the world's number one selling spirit?

General Disclaimer

It has been brought to my attention that some of my physics and math in this post may be....what's the word....wrong. If you know me, then you know that I am not to be trusted with either math or physics. If you don't know me, I'm telling you know Do not trust me when it comes to math or physics.

I became a lawyer because I was bad at math.

Can I get an "Amen" from some lawyers in the house?

Long Answer to a Gun Question

Brad Warthen asked a question in a comment on a blog post regarding guns yesterday. His comment/question was:

I’m probably going to show my ignorance here, but doesn’t a 9mm or a .38 caliber slug have a lot more stopping power than a .223?
Admittedly, I can barely hit a wall with a handgun, but I’m sort of thinking this is less about marksmanship and more about bringing a weapon to bear quickly in the general direction of an intruder. How many burglars are going to stick around to see how good a shot you are when the room is filled with the roar of a handgun, and a muzzle flash has stabbed out in their general direction?
Which sort of takes us back to a previous discussion about dogs, another excellent answer to the question, “What is most likely to make a burglar leave your house immediately and never want to come back?”
Now, if we’re talking about something else here, if the issue is whether one can most reliably kill an intruder, rather than run him off (or get him down on the floor with his hands behind his head), then we’re getting into a different sort of discussion, with very different ethical implications.

I didn't have time to write this essay at the time, and I know he probably doesn't want my long-winded answer over on his blog anyway, so I'm posting it here. If you're not a gun person, please skip this and wait for additional content. If you like guns and ballistics, you probably already know most of this.

First, let’s deal with first principles. When you are in a home defense situation, your goal as the homeowner is to stop the intruder from attacking you. If he wasn’t attacking you or causing you to reasonably fear for your life and/or personal safety, then you shouldn’t be shooting at him. You should probably be yelling at him. Someone rooting around in your outside rose garden shouldn’t be shot. Someone running down your hallway towards your bedroom with a knife probably should be shot. (Hey, the first rule of a gun fight is to bring a gun. Sorry, bro.)
For purposes of this, we’ll assume that you’ve decided to fire your firearm to stop the assailant. Notice I said “stop”, not kill. You want the bad guy to stop doing whatever it is they are doing that caused you be afraid for your life. Whether they live or die is really irrelevant, and that’s their problem, not yours.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Unheeded Advice from George Washington

Here's an admonition in George Washington's Farewell Address that everyone seems to have forgotten:
As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.
Looks like we missed the boat on that one. Sorry, George.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ten Thoughts on the Fiscal Cliff Deal

Ok, so we know that the fiscal cliff was averted....well kind of. Here's the shorthand of what's actually in the fiscal cliff deal. Good news! It's not all bad.

1. Marginal Tax Rates Locked In. The much debated and demagogued "Bush Tax Cuts" hit their ten year sunset and expired on 12/31/12. In the fiscal cliff deal, Congress permanently locked in the same tax rates for everyone, unless you made make than $400k (or $450k as a family). If you make more than that, your rate goes from 35% to 39.6%. Oh, and exemptions and deductions start getting phased out for individuals at $250k and families at $300k.

This is really a mostly good thing. Basically, for 98% of the country, the "Bush Tax Cuts" are now the "2013 Obama Tax Rates". Note, these are the same tax rates that democrats have been blaming for the housing crisis, the recession, etc...and now these rates are permanent - and Obama says this is a "win". Ok, guy. Whatever you say...I just don't want to hear the word "Bush" from a democrat anymore. Ever again.

2. Obama owns all this tax policy - no one forced this upon him. He agreed, and he's going to sign it. For the rest of his term (that he hasn't even started), he can't really push to raise more taxes, so look for him to focus on non-monetary issues (guns, immigration, global warming climate change) in order to avoid doing anything on entitlements. I have a feeling the GOP would like to have "a serious national conversation" about government spending, though.

I know that raising taxes on higher incomes won't solve the deficit or debt problem, but having permanent tax rates is a good thing. One of the best things that legislators can do is to make their laws permanent - especially taxes. Tax rates that have "sunset" provisions and expire after a certain amount of time are lunacy. Have a tax rate. If you don't like the rate, change it. But give folks some kind of permanency so they can plan their lives and businesses.

3. Capital Gains Taxes Go Up for High Earners. Again, I don't like this one on principle, because the higher income earners are the folks who have spare money to invest in equities. There aren't a lot of folks making $65k buying lots of stocks. If you're in the top income bracket, your capital gains taxes are going up to 20% from 15%. Meh.

4. Unemployment Benefits Continue. This was a big priority for the Democrats, and they got it. I can understand why. With all the unemployed people out there, ending their benefits would create a lot of pain. Folks would have to go get jobs. I think some people have been on unemployment for more than 100 weeks now, so I'm not sure where the end of this is. Will unemployment benefits be lifelong now? I guess we'll find out at some point.

5. One Year "Doc Fix". This is a classic example of Congress temporarily fixing a problem. Under current Medicare law, doctors would be paid 27% less than they are now. Each year, Congress passes a law that basically says "Don't worry about that part of Medicare." Why not fix this permanently?

6. Milk Cliff Averted. Again, this is classic. Congress temporarily fixes a stupid-ass problem they created. The farm bill was extended for 9 months. So there you go. See you in September, milk cliff.

7. AMT Permanently Fixed. For years now, Congress has passed one year "patches" to index the AMT to inflation. Apparently, they got into a frenzy of productivity and decided to go ahead and just permanently fix this. Attaboy Congress! Permanent solutions.

8. Estate Tax. It starts at $5Million now, and it takes 40%. Oh well. At least it's not temporary. If you have that much money, you've probably already started planning for the estate tax.

9. Payroll Taxes Going Back Up. The temporary payroll tax holiday is over. It hits every single person who makes any money at all. Did you enjoy your payroll tax "holiday"? Good, back to work.

10. The Sequester Is Finally Averted. Just kidding. It's only been delayed for two months. Guess what? We get to do this all over again in March!

Notably absent was anything remotely resembling restraint on government spending. Oh well, one problem at a time, right? There's probably lots of other smallish stuff in the fiscal cliff deal, but if Congress doesn't have to read the bill, I sure don't have to.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Outback Bowl - Clowney's Hit

I've seen less violent car wrecks.

It's like South Carolina found a grizzly bear and somehow managed to get football pads on him. Oh, in related news, South Carolina won the game.

South Carolina Bridges Falling Down?

Johnny Irish brings this article to my attention, which discusses the condition of South Carolina's bridges. Apparently, it's not so great.

South Carolina has more than 12 hundred of what the Federal Government calls "structurally deficient" bridges.  That means they are in poor condition or worse. Another 800 are considered obsolete.
Wow - 1200 have structural problems. That seems like a lot of bridges. So what are we going to do about this? The "stimulus" that came and went a couple of years ago apparently has not been effective at updating our bridges. Where did that money actually go?