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SCOTUS: California county can regulate gun stores out of existence

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This actually happened on Monday evening but we didn’t get around to tagging it until today. SCOTUS had been petitioned to review the case of Teixeira vs. Alameda County, a California suit brought by prospective gun shop owners who were blocked from setting up their new store by a county ordinance. Challenging the state law (which banned the establishment of new gun shops in unincorporated areas within a certain distance of residences, schools or daycare facilities), the plaintiffs had a seesaw battle in the lower courts, finally having to appeal it all the way to the top after losing out in the 9th Circuit.

Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, on Monday evening the Supreme Court announced without further comment or dissent that they would not be accepting the case and would allow the 9th Circuit ruling to stand. (San Francisco Chronicle)

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a challenge by would-be gun dealers and a firearms organization to an Alameda County ordinance that bans new gun stores in unincorporated areas within 500 feet of a residential neighborhood, school or day care center.

The justices left intact a federal appeals court ruling that said the Second Amendment to the Constitution protects only the right to keep and bear arms, not the right to sell them. Lawyers for the county said similar buffer-zone ordinances are in effect in 17 other cities and counties in California, including San Francisco, Oakland and Contra Costa County.

The 1998 Alameda County ordinance was challenged by three businessmen who wanted to open a gun shop in an unincorporated area near San Leandro, 446 feet away from the nearest home on the other side of Interstate 880.

As much as it may surprise you to read it here and as much as it pains me to say it, I think the Supremes may have gotten this one right. It’s true that the Second Amendment makes no mention of the right to sell arms, simply to keep and bear them. Granted, if the state can be shown to be making it impossible (or at least presenting a significant obstacle) for people to acquire firearms then you might have a case to argue. But in this instance, there were already ten gun shops in the county and one of them was in operation literally 600 feet from the proposed location of the new shop.

Rather than fighting this battle as a Second Amendment case, perhaps the plaintiffs could have made an argument based on suppression of trade or something along those lines But even then we’ve seen the courts be fairly generous toward state and local governments when it comes to zoning issues.

None of that detracts from the obvious intent of the law, which was precisely crafted to thwart the sale of guns since they can’t overturn the Second Amendment entirely. One of the anti-gun group spokespeople was quoted as calling the ruling, “an important victory for local governments seeking to keep the sale and spread of guns away from kids and residential areas.” This is, of course, nonsense. Stopping a new gun shop from opening up within walking distance of an existing one does nothing of the kind. And even if there wasn’t a gun shop within twenty miles, anyone with enough money to purchase a decent firearm can probably afford a car or at least a cab ride to go buy one elsewhere and bring it back home.

Still, the anti-gun crowd will be able to chalk this one up as yet another backdoor method of harassing gun shop owners and inflicting additional damage to the industry. And that was obviously their goal all along.

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Lesley Stahl: Trump told me he attacks the media so that people won’t believe us when we report bad news about him

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I mean, obviously. A scandalized shiver runs through the room in the clip after Stahl says this but nothing about Trump is as transparent as his strategic goal in gaslighting people about “fake news.” Here’s something I’ve linked before, written two days after his inauguration and attempting to explain why Sean Spicer held that embarrassing “these were the biggest inauguration crowds ever!” press conference. Among the suggested reasons:

The point of carping about “fake news” isn’t to discredit the stories that are false, it’s to discredit the stories that are true. It’s the same as the “witch hunt” rhetoric about Russiagate, which has already produced five guilty pleas and 17 indictments. Any politician pinned to the wall by damaging news would kill to have a reservoir of suspicion about the media among their base that they can call on in a pinch to defuse that news. The goal isn’t necessarily to get people to disbelieve a story but to stoke enough doubt about the reliability of its narrators that the public will conclude there’s no way to know what’s truth and what isn’t. That’s the art of the gaslight. And the author I quoted above also anticipated that:

If ever there was a “tell” about Trump’s strategy, it was this tweet posted 17 days after he was sworn in. It’s one thing to claim that reporters are slanting their coverage to disfavor him, as that obviously does happen. It’s another to suggest that pollsters are engaged in willful fraud, en masse, to make him look bad by manipulating their data and willing to risk their professional reputations in doing so:

Everything that’s bad for him is “fake” and you shouldn’t believe it, and if you do you’re siding with Them over him. He’s not coy or in any way subtle about this. This is a guy, remember, who back in the day used to dial up reporters posing as his own PR flack to tout his wealth or his womanizing or whatever. Subtlety’s not his thing, certainly when dealing with the media. The reason there are murmurs in the room after Stahl tells her story, I think, is just because he’s willing to cop to the gaslighting openly, even to a member of the media itself. It’s all just a game, played to a strategic end. Why pretend otherwise?

In lieu of an exit question, something unrelated but fun. Apparently Trump’s inimitable Twitter style is, in fact, imitable:

“West Wing employees who draft proposed tweets intentionally employ suspect grammar and staccato syntax in order to mimic the president’s style, according to two people familiar with the process,” the Boston Globe’s Annie Linskey reports.

The details: “They overuse the exclamation point! They Capitalize random words for emphasis. Fragments. Loosely connected ideas. All part of a process that is not as spontaneous as Trump’s Twitter feed often appears.”

That’s GOP-style populism in microcosm. You’ve got one guy, the populist-in-chief, whose grammar and spelling are not the best but whose style is “authentic” and “relatable.” And then you’ve got a coterie of well-educated phonies and cronies mimicking him, pretending to be stupid in the same way because that’s what he wants and they’re convinced that that’s what the people want. No one has any incentive, political or financial, to be better. Sad!

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Trump Goes Scorched Earth on FBI Spy Campaign: ‘Follow the Money, the Spy Was Only There to Help Crooked Hillary Win’

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President Trump unleashed on the FBI’s infiltration of his campaign Tuesday evening in a pair of tweets.

The President said, “Follow the money!” the spy wasn’t there to find ‘Russian collusion,’ he was there to help Crooked Hillary win the election!

President Trump, please never stop tweeting!

President Trump lit up Twitter Tuesday evening after he tweeted what we are all thinking–the spies infiltrated his campaign for political purposes to help Hillary Clinton win the election.

Trump tweeted: If the person placed very early into my campaign wasn’t a SPY put there by the previous Administration for political purposes, how come such a seemingly massive amount of money was paid for services rendered – many times higher than normal…

Trump then slams Crooked Hillary: …Follow the money! The spy was there early in the campaign and yet never reported Collusion with Russia, because there was no Collusion. He was only there to spy for political reasons and to help Crooked Hillary win – just like they did to Bernie Sanders, who got duped!

The informant, Stefan Halper, was paid a total of $411,575 in 2016 and 2017 for work with the US government that included spying on the Trump campaign.

It was a lucrative business for Stefan Halper.

Now the Democrats are in spin mode.

They went from ‘there was no spy inside of Trump’s camp’ to ‘the informant was there to help protect Trump against the Russians.’

Former DNI Chief James Clapper is claiming embedding spies is “a standard investigative practice.”

Hillary Clinton wanted to spy on her political opponent and she accomplished her goal with help from Obama’s weaponized intel agencies.

President Trump is right; Spygate is worse than Watergate.

Earlier Tuesday, President Trump told reporters, “If they had spies in my campaign, that would be a disgrace to this country.”

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Shouldn’t Publix be forced to bake the Latin cake?

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Palette cleansers don’t usually come this sweet … if we’re still permitted to use that phraseology. A family celebrating the graduation of their son with high honors had ordered a cake made from the local Publix supermarket, using their online system to proudly display Jacob Kosinski’s status as a summa cum laude student. Just one problem, the online system responded — they don’t allow obscenities on their cake designs.

Shouldn’t they be forced to bake the Latin cake?

Cara Koscinski organized a graduation party for her 18-year-old son. For the occasion, she ordered a cake online from her nearest grocery store, Publix, which lets customers build their own cakes complete with a customized inscription, which they enter into a message box marked “cake message option.”

Carefully, she typed in the words she wanted on the cake: “Congrats Jacob! Summa Cum Laude class of 2018.”

Publix’s online system was unhappy with the word “cum.”

Good Lord. This is less about mandatory cake-baking than it is about cultural ignorance and classical illiteracy. We stopped teaching Latin as a compulsory subject in most schools decades ago, but this Latin phrasing in particular remains very common — used in all college and university graduations, and many high school degrees, too. Magna cum laude is understood by most people not to be a reference to a particular prophylactic, for Pete’s sake.

Publix apologized and returned the family’s money, which is as much as they can do for this particular error. It should remind them to pay attention to the special instructions in their own flippin’ system, however, especially when the customer calls to explain it to them in plain English. If Publix doesn’t want to make cakes for a particular special occasion or to proclaim a particular message, they shouldn’t be forced to do, and neither should anyone else. But is it too much to ask that they check out requests to ensure that they really object to it?

At least Jacob has a pretty clear understanding about the nonsensical levels of political correctness and ignorance he’ll encounter in the wider world. It might keep him more grounded than most other high school graduates entering colleges and universities this fall. In the meantime, let’s offer a Latin lesson for bakeries around the country, just in case they need to conjugate. In the language sense, that is.

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