Shaver Shooting a Wake-Up Call for Reforms

Townhall.com Bob Barr 12/13/2017 12:01:00 AM – Bob Barr Daniel Shaver did not deserve to die. He made an otherwise innocuous mistake, as people often do, especially in high pressure situations and after having consumed alcohol. But he did not deserve to die for it. Shaver could have been any one of our twenty-something children or siblings. The events of the night in which 25-year old Shaver died nearly two years ago, are not in dispute. Shaver was drinking with two companions in a Mesa, Arizona La Quinta Inn. At one point that evening, likely showing off, Shaver pointed a pellet rifle he used for his job in pest control out of the fifth-floor window, prompting a report to the police from someone who observed this foolhardy act. When police arrived, things escalated .  .  . quickly. The ensuing encounter between Shaver and at least two police officers armed with assault rifles was captured on police body cameras, but it essentially shows a sobbing and scared Shaver doing his best to cooperate with police barking confusing orders at him, all while threatening that he may be killed for not obeying perfectly. “If you make a mistake, another mistake, there is a very severe possibility that you’re both going to get shot,” police shouted at Shaver, who apologized through his tears for the slips, and begging the police not to shoot him. Then it happened; as Shaver was attempting to obey one officer’s orders to crawl toward a fellow officer (who already had cuffed Shaver’s female companion), he reached back in what looks like an instinctive attempt to keep his...

‘Digital Shouting Matches’ Undermining Rule-Making Process

Townhall.com    The “internet poll” has become a familiar device with which to solicit reader feedback and drive engagement on topics from sports and entertainment to law and politics. But, with obvious flaws in polling methodology (e.g., random sampling, representative samples), not to mention vulnerability to fraud, the results of such polls carry little if any scientific value. They are a marketing tool only; except, it seems, when it comes to formulating federal regulations. Providing a public comment period before federal regulations can be finalized is a legal and long-standing component of federal rulemaking. Typically the window for public comments is 30 to 60 days; during which time anyone – from Joe Six-Pack to high-paid industry consultants – can submit commentary used in considering the adoption of a proposed rule. Federal regulatory agencies increasingly prefer that public comments be submitted digitally, “so that [people’s] input on a proposed rule or other document is more easily available to the public” and easier to organize for agency review. Therein lies the problem. Electronic commentary makes it extremely easy to “stuff the ballot box” with canned commentary from armies of online activists with the click of a mouse; or even millions of computer “bots” forging the identities of real people – dead or alive. In either case, it is becoming difficult (if not impossible) to seriously consider such feedback, particularly as the Federal Communications Commission seeks to repeal Obama-era regulations involving access to the internet. The underlying problem is that the use of modern technology in this way has reduced public input on regulatory rule-making to little more than “digital shouting matches” between organizations on one...

The Real Reason Democrats Hate Losing the State and Local Tax Deduction

Townhall.com   If you have ever wondered why leaders of liberal cities and states become giddy at any new spending opportunity – investments into light rail infrastructure, social programs for illegal aliens, public schools that look like palaces, billion-dollar sports stadiums – it is not because they are more public-minded than Republicans, or possess an innate sense of altruism. It is because such projects get them re-elected, especially when people other than their constituents are picking up the tab. And, thanks largely to the State and Local Tax (SALT) Deduction for federal income tax purposes, that is exactly what is happening. In the current federal tax code, SALT deductions allow individuals to deduct state and local taxes, including property taxes, from their federal returns. On the surface, this seems like a great idea, as it generally reduces tax burdens, especially for those living in high-tax localities. At its core, however, the deduction is more a clever burden-shifting scheme to make it easier for state and local governments to over-spend, than it is a way to ease the burden on federal taxpayers. Since state and local taxes can be deducted, the tax burden is shifted from those governments to the federal government, which in turn makes up for this lost revenue by keeping taxes higher on the rest of the country. In effect, taxpayers in low-tax states and cities, like those in the South, are forced to subsidize the lavish public spending of liberals in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California, who have little incentive to reduce the local taxes that fund their pet projects. It is much like...

European Environmentalists Rekindling Cocaine Problem in Colombia and in the United States

Townhall.com Not that many years ago, the South American nation of Colombia was on the cusp of becoming a failed “narco-state.” With climatic conditions ideal for the growing of coca plants, and with dense jungles providing natural cover for illegal operations, Colombia became an international hub for the manufacturing and export of cocaine. As demand for these drugs grew in the United States from the 1970s on, so too did the violence and corruption of powerful drug cartels as they expanded territory, and battled rivals and the government. By the 1990s, Colombia was regarded as one of the most dangerous places on the planet. Today, Colombia is far different. Abundant natural resources and a burgeoning economy make it a popular location for tourists and businesses alike. However, this turnaround was made possible only because of an aggressive and innovative foreign aid and partnership program between the United States and Colombia beginning in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  “Plan Colombia” provided billions of U.S. dollars, along with military training and hardware, to the beleaguered South American democracy. This aid, along with a firm partnership between U.S. and Colombian political leaders, had a profound impact on drug violence there, while slowing the cocaine epidemic here at home. Despite this progress, a new enemy has recently emerged and threatens to undermine years of hard work, and placing thousands of U.S. lives at risk. Shockingly, the culprit is not a new drug cartel, but liberal environmentalists from Europe. It might seem paradoxical that European Leftists could dramatically impact the cocaine epidemic in the United States, but they are doing just that.  A pivotal method...