NC Congressman Proposes Concealed Carry Reciprocity Bill

Roll Call reports that:

Rep. Richard Hudson, R-North Carolina, says he is preparing legislation that would allow those with concealed carry permits in their state to cross state lines. …

Hudson’s legislation would allow people with a state-issued concealed carry license to carry a handgun to any other state that allows concealed carry if the person is not banned from possessing or transporting a firearm by federal law.

Hudson said he planned on introducing the legislation, called the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, during the next Congress. He introduced a similar bill in 2015.

“As a member of President-elect Trump’s Second Amendment Coalition, I look forward to working with the administration to advance policies that support and protect our right to keep and bear arms,” Hudson [said].

Gboro council ponies up $250k for children’s museum

At last night’s meeting, the Greensboro City council agreed to give the downtown children’s museum $250,000 to help finish a project that includes an indoor water feature and an outdoor classroom and playground.

According to the News & Record, the museum requested the funding to cap off the cost of the $3 million project, i.e. reduce the amount it must borrow against pledged donations. Let’s hope the donors come through with their pledges.

CJ reporting cited in rumors about Trump’s possible EPA chief

vandervaartcleanpower-092115One of the Cabinet positions yet to be filled in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration is head of the Environmental Protection Administration, and North Carolina’s secretary of environmental quality, Donald van der Vaart, has emerged as a dark-horse candidate.

A recent Carolina Journal report by Dan Way asking van der Vaart about how the 45th president might deal with environmental policy has gained attention from the Charlotte Business Journal and The Hill newspaper in Washington.

This part of the story raised antennae:

Van der Vaart himself might be under consideration for a position in the Trump administration.

When asked if he had been contacted by the transition team, he responded, “All I’ve been instructed to say is you need to ask the Trump campaign that question.” Requests for comment from the Trump transition team, Gov. Pat McCrory’s office, and Ebell were not returned.

If van der Vaart gets the nod, he would be the first EPA chief with a Ph.D. in a scientific discipline (chemical engineering), and he has a law degree.

VMI and the latest case of campus kookiness

In the first college football game I attended as an undergrad, my Tar Heels wiped the floor with the Virginia Military Institute. UNC then proceeded to lose its next 10 games, including a blowout home loss to Clemson that featured a near-continual cycle of “Tiger Rag” (played by the Clemson band after every Tiger first down) and the infamous home loss to Duke that prompted Duke coach Steve Spurrier to have his team’s photo taken beneath the Kenan Stadium scoreboard.

Needless to say, Carolina was dreadful.

Ever since then, I’ve had my doubts about VMI. Now Elizabeth Harrington of the Washington Free Beacon offers another reason to question that school’s merits.

A prestigious military school is providing coloring books for cadets to deal with stress.

The Virginia Military Institute, the first state-sponsored military college in the country founded in 1839, offers a “stress busters” program to provide students with yoga classes to “unwind and relax.”

“Beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year, the Cadet Peer Educators (CPEs) will merge with cadet government under the Cadet Equity Association’s (CEA) Training and Education branch. As such, the formerly known CPEs are now members of CEA,” according to the school’s website. “All CEA trained educators are nationally certified through the BACCHUS™ network to assist with new cadet development, education/prevention programs, and individual peer support for a broad range of topics such as stress management, alcohol and tobacco, interpersonal relationships, bystander intervention, and suicide prevention. Trained peer educators are interviewed, selected, trained and advised by Cadet Government and the Center of Cadet Counseling.”

The school said “peer educators” will still provide “Stress Busters” programs for students, which includes an event that lets cadets color.

“Stress Busters is held on Reading Day of each semester,” the school said. “This is an opportunity for cadets to unwind and relax before studying for finals. This event often includes stress reduction activities such as yoga, therapy dogs, coloring book stations, card/game stations, and grab-and-go snacks to take with you on your way to study!”

Forbes publisher wonders whether Trump will approach infrastructure spending the ‘smart’ way

Rich Karlgaard of Forbes highlights President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promise of major increases in infrastructure spending.

President-elect Trump wants to put $1 trillion or so of private but taxpayer-subsidized money into large construction and repair projects–bridges, highways, tunnels, railways and airports. Is this a smart use of funds?

This is where it gets interesting. Watch the acrobatics of both the left and the right. Paul Krugman, the liberal New York Times columnist, was 100% for massive government spending under President Obama. In 2014 Krugman wrote, “All the evidence, then, points to substantial positive short-run effects from the Obama stimulus. And there were surely long-term benefits, too: big investments in everything from green energy to electronic medical records.” Only one thing was wrong with Obama’s stimulus, wrote Krugman. There wasn’t enough of it.

What does Krugman say about a Trump stimulus? “For a time, at least, a Trump administration might actually end up doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.” But the effects will only be short-term, sniffs Krugman. “In the longer run Trumpism will be a very bad thing for the economy.”

Tyler Cowen, a conservative economist at George Mason University, is also skeptical. Government stimulus produces a short-term boost to employment and GDP. The bad effects show up later: bridges to nowhere, bullet trains to the boonies and misallocated capital that could otherwise have been available for the private sector. …

… But the analyses of lefty Krugman and righty Cowen, while sadly true at the macroeconomic level, are incomplete. They do not account for good infrastructure spending versus bad spending. (Example: Road maintenance is good; bullet trains to the boonies are just dumb.) And within good versus bad is another question that needs asking: Why are some big construction projects finished on time and under budget, while others drag on and pile up costs?

Two of Trump’s economic advisors, academic Peter Navarro and investment banker Wilbur Ross, blame regulation and its many burdens. There’s a lot to be said for this. The Golden Gate Bridge was started and completed in just over four years. More recently, a widening of an access road to the bridge took seven years. Environmental studies, court challenges, countersuits and protests often take years to resolve prior to any ground breaking.

And then there’s the age-old challenge of political patronage and whether the architects and contractors of a major project are the best ones available or the dull-witted cousins of a donor. Is the project mission clear? Is the budget absolute, or will it allow sneaky creep?

Trump advisor and tech billionaire Peter Thiel, who leans libertarian but isn’t reflexively antigovernment, asks another key question regarding infrastructure: Why was the U.S. government good at it in the past but no longer? America mobilized and won World War II in three and a half years. We built the atom bomb. We caught up to and surpassed the Soviet Union in rocketry. Then 8 years, 1 month and 26 days after John F. Kennedy said we would, we put a man on the moon.

The miracle of Stanford’s new football stadium is proof that Americans can do construction right–on schedule and within or under budget. Ah, but with two “yugely” important caveats: (1) Silicon Valley billionaire real estate developer John Arrillaga built the new Stanford Stadium, and (2) the Palo Alto City Council did not have jurisdiction. All private, in other words.

Shlaes examines the immigration debate

Amity Shlaes‘ latest Forbes column ponders the contentious debate over immigration.

“IMMIGRATION restrictionist = racist.” “Restrictionist nation = racist nation.” These are the basic equations animating the opponents of President-elect Donald Trump’s call to restrict illegal immigration.

But I write this after the Liberation. The liberation, that is, of the country from preelection assumptions, logic and linkages. Immigration is a case in point. Immigration restrictions slow economies, but they don’t necessarily prove or portend bigotry or racism. Indeed, it’s possible for an American government to restrict immigration and foster national comity at the same time. That’s what Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge demonstrated in the 1920s.

The story of that era’s immigration policy commences with World War I. President Woodrow Wilson and American voters worried that revolutionaries from abroad would import revolution to our shores. U.S. troops returned home from Europe informed and angry. When a general strike paralyzed Seattle, Mayor Ole Hanson feared that what was happening in Petrograd might be happening on Seattle’s waterfront. The rumbling from the war of independence in Ireland was so powerful its reverberations could be felt in the cobblestones of Boston.

Today similar concerns surface. ISIS worries voters, as do al Qaeda and any other extremist groups that might inspire revolution or violence. When it comes to our porous border with Mexico, the erosion of the rule of law also troubles American citizens. Heavy, curricular multiculturalism leaves too little space for the teaching and absorption of common law and U.S. history. …

… [Woodrow] Wilson was too rough. So were some of the features of those laws. But the Harding and Coolidge administrations went out of their way to let immigrants who were here know they were welcome–officially. As Coolidge said in 1925: “Whether one traces his Americanism back three centuries to the Mayflower, or three years to steerage, is not half so important as whether his Americanism of today is real and genuine. No matter by what various crafts we came here, we are all now in the same boat.” To signal respect Coolidge also declared the Statue of Liberty a national moment.

What Harding and Coolidge sought was respect for the rule of law. They wanted a breathing space for all the immigrants to assimilate, time for them to learn English and what people in those days called “Americanism.” By Americanism they meant a familiarity with common law, U.S. civics and adequate workplace English.

Forbes calls for new Fed head

Steve Forbes‘ latest contribution to Forbes magazine focuses on the need for new leadership at the Federal Reserve.

DONALD TRUMP TOOK several shots at the Federal Reserve during his election campaign. Let’s hope he effects a real overhaul of this increasingly destructive agency. Fed boss Janet Yellen’s recent appearance before the Joint Economic Committee underscores why a major makeover is necessary for our future prosperity.

Yellen openly and unapologetically made clear that our central bank still hews to the discredited theory that prosperity causes inflation. “The economy is operating relatively close to full employment at this point,” and therefore higher interest rates will be warranted. The idea is that a hike in the cost of money would ensure that the economy didn’t get too strong. Otherwise, employers would aggressively bid up wages, which could fuel too much inflation.

Yellen confuses changes in prices that come in response to supply and demand in the marketplace with movements in prices that result from changes in the value of the dollar. It’s the dollar changes that wreak havoc. When the Fed and the Treasury Department began weakening the greenback in the early 2000s, commodity prices took off. The price of oil, for example, went from around $25 a barrel to over $100. That head-spinning surge wasn’t a result of oil shortages but of the dollar losing value. In contrast, the price of wide-screen TVs has plummeted from $10,000 to a few hundred dollars today. That’s a result of productivity, not deflation.

The Federal Reserve’s suppression of interest rates has been a disaster for savers, money funds, pension funds, insurance companies (especially life insurers) and smaller businesses. In a sane world the price of money would be set by borrowers and lenders.

What should Trump do? Push the Fed to let the markets set interest rates. Have it reduce its bloated portfolio: When a bond comes due, let the principle flow back into the financial system instead of reinvesting it. Institute positive technical changes, such as having the central bank borrow more from money market funds, having Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fund its portfolio, and less from banks.

Rage and denial on the left

Jim Geraghty of National Review Online explores responses to Donald Trump’s presidential election among those on the political left.

It’s not often that “go die in a fire” is given as an option in an ultimatum, but Professor David Faris, writing in The Week, has urged congressional Democrats to grab a torch:

The Democratic negotiating position on all issues put before them while they are in the House and Senate minority for at least the next two years should be very simple: You will give us Merrick Garland or you may go die in a fire.

Faris’s piece, already rocketing around Facebook, is entitled, “It’s Time for Democrats to Fight Dirty.” There is nothing more reassuring to the members of a political party that just lost an election than the notion that they lost because they were “too nice,” or because the electorate couldn’t grasp the nuances of their message. After 2008 and 2012, some Republicans convinced themselves that they had lost not because of any real flaws in their agenda, message, or candidates, but because they were too high-minded and not tough enough. Democrats told themselves the same after losing in 2004, 2010, and 2014.

The aching pain of defeat is somewhat alleviated by the stretching required to pat oneself on the back. But what are the implications of this particular self-delusion? That it’s time for Democrats to “fight dirty”? It’s hard to imagine fighting dirtier than 2016’s. Donald Trump won while being relentlessly attacked with negative media coverage of his every lie and scandal. He received a variation of every criticism ever thrown at a Republican presidential candidate — the alleged nuclear warmongering of Goldwater, the alleged ignorance of George W. Bush, the alleged erratic temperament of John McCain, the alleged plutocratic greed of Mitt Romney — and was elected anyway.

It’s fascinating to see what infuriated partisans define as “fighting dirty.” Apparently the entire Trump victory can be attributed to this moral flexibility; it couldn’t possibly reflect President Obama’s record, a national appetite for change, or Hillary Clinton’s agenda, character, and record.

Faris’s piece is a fantastic example of the sputtering rage of the Left at this moment, convinced that Obama’s presidency was a phenomenal success, that no Republican opposition to his agenda was ever legitimate, and that an electorate that was so wise and clear-headed in 2008 and 2012 has suddenly become easily fooled.