2018 Budget History

The President’s Budget Proposal was submitted to 115th Congress on March 16th, 2017, the 75th day of 2017.  The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) evaluation of the budget was released on July 13th, 2017.

The House passed and sent to Senate, on September 14, 2017, H.R. 3354;

Republicans – 210 yeas, 14 nays, 16 did not vote
Democrats – 1 yea, 184 nays, 9 did not vote

 The bill provided; $1.1 trillion in regular funding for all 12 individual appropriations bills – Interior; Agriculture; Commerce, Justice, Science; Financial Services; Labor, HHS, Education; Homeland Security; State, Foreign Operations; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; Defense; Legislative Branch; Military Construction/Veterans Affairs; and Energy and Water.

As of January 22nd, 2018 the Senate has taken NO ACTION on the bill, it has not been introduced or sent to committee.  It has been 186 day since it was passed by the house.

The process of introducing a bill in the Senate;

In the Senate, a bill is introduced by placing it on the presiding officer’s desk or by formally introducing it on the Senate Floor.

Reference:

https://www.congress.gov/resources/display/content/Appropriations+for+Fiscal+Year+2018#AppropriationsforFiscalYear2018-omnibusappropriations

 

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Failure To Pass 2018 Budget

From a FB thread of mine:

Budget1

IMHO you should vote, in primary and general, for any candidate, regardless of party who opposes an incumbent in the 2018 Senate race.

Arizona                                 Jeff Flake
California                             Dianne Feinstein
Connecticut                         Chris Murphy
Delaware                             Tom Carper
Florida                                 Bill Nelson (I will vote for any opponent)
Hawaii                                 Mazie Hirono
Indiana                                Joe Donnelly
Maine                                  Angus King
Maryland                           Ben Cardin
Massachusetts                   Elizabeth Warren
Michigan                            Debbie Stabenow
Minnesota                         Amy Klobuchar
Mississippi                        Roger Wicker
Missouri                            Claire McCaskill
Montana                            Jon Tester
Nebraska                           Deb Fischer
Nevada                              Dean Heller
New Jersey                       Bob Menendez
New Mexico                     Martin Heinrich
New York                          Kirsten Gillibrand
North Dakota                   Heidi Heitkamp
Ohio                                   Sherrod Brown
Pennsylvania                   Bob Casey Jr.
Rhode Island                    Sheldon Whitehouse
Tennessee                         Bob Corker
Tennessee                         Bob Corker
Utah                                   Orrin Hatch
Vermont                            Bernie Sanders
Virginia                             Tim Kaine
Washington                      Maria Cantwell
West Virginia                   Joe Manchin
Wisconsin                         Tammy Baldwin
Wyoming                           John Barrasso

Take the time to e-mail you congressperson daily and express you thought the failure of the senate to even take up the 2018 appropriations.

www.democracy.io

Mueller Appointment – Annotated DOJ Special Counsel Regulation

28 CFR Part 600 – GENERAL POWERS OF

A SPECIAL COUNSEL {A DOJ Regulation vice Statute}

§ 600.1 Grounds for appointing a Special Counsel.

The Attorney General, or in cases in which the Attorney General is recused, the Acting Attorney General, will appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted and –

Deputy Attorney General, Rod J. Rosenstein appointed Robert S. Mueller III as Special Counsel on May 17th 2017, via ORDER NO. 3915-2017

{Interesting factoid: Muller was interviewed for Director of FBI by DJT the day before his appointment.  It appears to me that he would have known of his upcoming appointment at the time of his interview.}

Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III recused himself from any investigation of Trump Campaign, base on his involvement in the campaign and transition as an advisor, on March 2nd 2017.

(a) That investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances; and

(b) That under the circumstances, it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.

It would appear, but was not cited in the order that paragraph a & b were the justification.

§ 600.2 Alternatives available to the Attorney General.

When matters are brought to the attention of the Attorney General that might warrant consideration of appointment of a Special Counsel, the Attorney General may:

(a) Appoint a Special Counsel;

The option chosen by Deputy Attorney General, Rod J. Rosenstein.  By implication “the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James 8. Corney in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017” provide the necessary “factual inquiry or legal research” referenced in paragraph (b) below.

To the best of my knowledge the only publicly disclosed factual inquiry, by the FBI, was into Russia’s Alfa Bank – Trump Tower e-mail server communications.  An investigation, that may have involved a FISA warrant, by some reports.

The Alfa bank issue was raised by a Slate article  “Was a Trump Server Communicating With Russia?”, which was quickly debunked.  It later showed up in the infamous Trump Dossier, but misspelled the bank as Alpha, and mischaracterized its connection to Putin.

I tend to agree with this synopsis:

The Times reported on October 31 that the FBI examined the server activity and “ultimately concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts.”

The Intercept reported later that the computer analysts who had first noticed the unusual server activity did not respond to questions about “how they can be sure that the majority of DNS look-ups for Trump’s email server originated from Alfa Bank, when much of the data they collected didn’t even include DNS look-ups from IPs described in their own paper.”

“The simplest plausible explanation for all of this: The Trump Organization owns a bunch of expensive, obnoxious spam servers that churn out marketing emails for its expensive, obnoxious hotels,” The Intercept said.

(b) Direct that an initial investigation, consisting of such factual inquiry or legal research as the Attorney General deems appropriate, be conducted in order to better inform the decision; or

(c) Conclude that under the circumstances of the matter, the public interest would not be served by removing the investigation from the normal processes of the Department, and that the appropriate component of the Department should handle the matter. If the Attorney General reaches this conclusion, he or she may direct that appropriate steps be taken to mitigate any conflicts of interest, such as recusal of particular officials.

§ 600.3 Qualifications of the Special Counsel.

(a) An individual named as Special Counsel shall be a lawyer with a reputation for integrity and impartial decisionmaking {sic}, and with appropriate experience to ensure both {sic} that the investigation will be conducted ably, expeditiously and thoroughly, and that investigative and prosecutorial decisions will be supported by an informed understanding of the criminal law and Department of Justice policies. The Special Counsel shall be selected from outside the United States Government. Special Counsels shall agree that their responsibilities as Special Counsel shall take first precedence in their professional lives, and that it may be necessary to devote their full time to the investigation, depending on its complexity and the stage of the investigation.

Robert S. Mueller III, meets all of the enumerated criteria.

(b) The Attorney General shall consult with the Assistant Attorney General for Administration to ensure an appropriate method of appointment, and to ensure that a Special Counsel undergoes an appropriate background investigation and a detailed review of ethics and conflicts of interest issues. A Special Counsel shall be appointed as a “confidential employee” as defined in 5 U.S.C. 7511(b)(2)(C).

If paragraph (b) was adhered to then Robert S. Mueller III would have been interviewed and vetted in the weeks leading up to his appointment.   

MuellerProcess1
Special Counsel Appointment Process (AG recusal)

Either Mr. Mueller was interviewed and vetted, a fact that has not been disclosed or the requirements of paragraph (b) were not followed.  It would be interesting to know Deputy Attorney General answer to the question; “Was Mr. Mueller interviewed and vetted, IAW  CFR-§ 600.3(b) and if so what was the timeline?”

IMHO Mr. Mueller’s interview for Director of FBI is a potential “conflict of interest issue”.   He should have not taken the interview, knowing he was about to be appointed Special Counsel.

Another issue that was apparently investigated by DOJ was his law firm WilmerHale, whose attorneys represent former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump’s daughter Ivanka and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law.

Federal regulations prohibit officials from participating in matters involving their former employers for two years after joining the government unless they receive a waiver to do so.  The waiver was granted ex post facto by Associate Deputy Attorney General Scott Schools.


MuellerWaiver


The waiver was release in response to a FOIA request by Politico.  They also report:

  • The agency’s Justice Management Division said it located a two-page “recommendation memorandum” in response to POLITICO’s request but was declining to release that on grounds it would interfere with the deliberative process inside the department.
  • “The memo is protected by the deliberative process privilege (Exemption 5 of the Freedom of Information Act). This is in contrast to the communications related to the Francisco waiver, in which the deliberative discussions were expressly adopted by the decision maker,” the official said.

This has the appearance of being a standard bureaucratic “cover your ass” memo rather than a deliberative process before the appointment.

MuellerProcess2
The Mueller Appointment Process

 

The timing of the waiver is brought into question by Nancy Pelosi’s press release of May 21st 2017, four days after the waiver was signed.


MuellerWaiverPelosi


Evidently Nancy did not follow up and introduce the legislation, a search of congress.gov using the search term “Mueller” only found a bill (HR 474) by Sheila Jackson, on July 27th 2017,  nine weeks after Nancy’s press release.  HR 474 was not co-sponsored by Nancy.

§ 600.4 Jurisdiction.

(a) Original jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of a Special Counsel shall be established by the Attorney General. The Special Counsel will be provided with a specific factual statement of the matter to be investigated. The jurisdiction of a Special Counsel shall also include the authority to investigate and prosecute federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, the Special Counsel’s investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses; and to conduct appeals arising out of the matter being investigated and/or prosecuted.

ORDER NO. 3915-2017 sets forth the jurisdiction established by the Deputy Attorney General:
The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James 8. Corney in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on March 20, 2017, including:

(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and

(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and

(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).

NB! Mr. Mueller was not authorized to investigate/prosecute obstruction of justice related to Director Comey’s firing.  A stretch could be made to include it under “any matter that arose”.

The “other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).” relates to interference with the Special Counsel investigation.

(b) Additional jurisdiction. If in the course of his or her investigation the Special Counsel concludes that additional jurisdiction beyond that specified in his or her original jurisdiction is necessary in order to fully investigate and resolve the matters assigned, or to investigate new matters that come to light in the course of his or her investigation, he or she shall consult with the Attorney General, who will determine whether to include the additional matters within the Special Counsel’s jurisdiction or assign them elsewhere.

Apparently Mr. Mueller asked for and received permission to investigate Paul Manafort and Rick Gates finances prior to the 2016 Presidential campaign.  Mr. Mueller’s indictment against Manafort and Gates contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading US Foreign Agents Registration Act statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.  All of which predate the campaign of President Donald Trump.

(c) Civil and administrative jurisdiction. If in the course of his or her investigation the Special Counsel determines that administrative remedies, civil sanctions or other governmental action outside the criminal justice system might be appropriate, he or she shall consult with the Attorney General with respect to the appropriate component to take any necessary action. A Special Counsel shall not have civil or administrative authority unless specifically granted such jurisdiction by the Attorney General.

There is no evidence that Mr. Mueller has sought civil or administrative jurisdiction.

§ 600.5 Staff.

A Special Counsel may request the assignment of appropriate Department employees to assist the Special Counsel. The Department shall gather and provide the Special Counsel with the names and resumes of appropriate personnel available for detail. The Special Counsel may also request the detail of specific employees, and the office for which the designated employee works shall make reasonable efforts to accommodate the request. The Special Counsel shall assign the duties and supervise the work of such employees while they are assigned to the Special Counsel. If necessary, the Special Counsel may request that additional personnel be hired or assigned from outside the Department. All personnel in the Department shall cooperate to the fullest extent possible with the Special Counsel.

Reports of Mr. Muller’s staff include DOJ employees, FBI employees and additional personnel hired or assigned from outside the Department.  Based on the SC’s end of fiscal year report there were 17 attorneys on staff, thirteen plus Mueller have been identified.

  • DOJ employees 
    1. Michael Dreeben – deputy solicitor general overseeing the Department of Justice’s criminal docket
    2. Andrew Weissmann – leader of the DOJ’s criminal fraud unit
    3. Zainab Ahmad – Prosecutor, U.S. Attorney’s Office in Eastern District of New York
    4. Andrew Goldstein – Prosecutor, U.S. Attorney’s Office in Southern District’s public corruption unit
    5. Elizabeth Prelogar – U.S. Solicitor General’s Office
    6. Brandon Van Grack – U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia
    7. Rush Atkinson – DOJ Criminal Division
    8. Adam Jed – DOJ Civil Division
    9. Aaron Zelinsky – U.S. Attorney Office in Maryland
  • FBI employees
    • David Archey – reportedly replaced reassigned Peter Strzok
  • Outside employees
    1. Jeannie Rhee – resigned from the WilmerHale law firm, Mueller’s former firm, to join the investigation
    2. James Quarles – resigned from the WilmerHale law firm, Mueller’s former firm, to join the investigation
    3. Aaron Zebley – resigned from the WilmerHale law firm, Mueller’s former firm, to join the investigation
    4. Greg Andres – resigned from Davis Polk & Wardwell law firm to join the investigation

§ 600.6 Powers and authority.

Subject to the limitations in the following paragraphs, the Special Counsel shall exercise, within the scope of his or her jurisdiction, the full power and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States Attorney.  Except as provided in this part, the Special Counsel shall determine whether and to what extent to inform or consult with the Attorney General or others within the Department about the conduct of his or her duties and responsibilities.

The highlighted sentence above give Mr. Mueller wide latitude as to what he shares with DOJ management.

 

§ 600.7 Conduct and accountability.

(a) A Special Counsel shall comply with the rules, regulations, procedures, practices and policies of the Department of Justice. He or she shall consult with appropriate offices within the Department for guidance with respect to established practices, policies and procedures of the Department, including ethics and security regulations and procedures. Should the Special Counsel conclude that the extraordinary circumstances of any particular decision would render compliance with required review and approval procedures by the designated Departmental component inappropriate, he or she may consult directly with the Attorney General.

(b) The Special Counsel shall not be subject to the day-to-day supervision of any official of the Department. However, the Attorney General may request that the Special Counsel provide an explanation for any investigative or prosecutorial step, and may after review conclude that the action is so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued. In conducting that review, the Attorney General will give great weight to the views of the Special Counsel. If the Attorney General concludes that a proposed action by a Special Counsel should not be pursued, the Attorney General shall notify Congress as specified in § 600.9(a)(3).

The Attorney General, or in this case Deputy Attorney General has the power to shut down Mr. Mueller’s investigation or lines of investigation.

(c) The Special Counsel and staff shall be subject to disciplinary action for misconduct and breach of ethical duties under the same standards and to the same extent as are other employees of the Department of Justice. Inquiries into such matters shall be handled through the appropriate office of the Department upon the approval of the Attorney General.

(d) The Special Counsel may be disciplined or removed from office only by the personal action of the Attorney General. The Attorney General may remove a Special Counsel for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies. The Attorney General shall inform the Special Counsel in writing of the specific reason for his or her removal.

Within the regulation, Mr. Mueller may be “removed from office only by the personal action of the Attorney General”.  This appears to nullify the ability of POTUS to fire Mr. Mueller.

§ 600.8 Notification and reports by the Special Counsel.

(a)Budget.

(1) A Special Counsel shall be provided all appropriate resources by the Department of Justice. Within the first 60 days of his or her appointment, the Special Counsel shall develop a proposed budget for the current fiscal year with the assistance of the Justice Management Division for the Attorney General’s review and approval. Based on the proposal, the Attorney General shall establish a budget for the operations of the Special Counsel. The budget shall include a request for assignment of personnel, with a description of the qualifications needed.

To date the only publicly released budget information was “Special Counsel’s Office Statement of Expenditures May 17, 2017 to September 30, 2017” which reported spending as $3,213,695.00.  In addition it has been reported that DOJ spent $3,500,000 on DOJ operations and would have been spent on its own pre-existing Russia investigations if Mueller hadn’t been tapped to take over in mid-May.

(2) Thereafter, 90 days before the beginning of each fiscal year, the Special Counsel shall report to the Attorney General the status of the investigation, and provide a budget request for the following year. The Attorney General shall determine whether the investigation should continue and, if so, establish the budget for the next year.

The FY-2018 budget was due July 3rd 2017.  I have been unable to find any reference to it in public records.  If spending continues at the FY-2017 rate the budget would be $8,625,000.

The following reference is made to Special Counsel’s Office in “U.S. Department of Justice  FY 2018 Contingency Plan” dated: September 8, 2017

Special Counsel’s Office (SCO): The Special Counsel’s Office is funded with a
permanent indefinite appropriation. All direct employees are displayed as excepted positions because their funding is not dependent upon an enacted appropriation.

The SCO has been onboarding staff since its inception on May 17, 2017, and was not fully staffed as of June 24, 2017 (pay period 12). As of July 28, 2017, the SCO will employ nine term employees directly, who are requested to be excepted in the FY 2018 contingency plan based on the exception justification provided above.

(b)Notification of significant events. The Special Counsel shall notify the Attorney General of events in the course of his or her investigation in conformity with the Departmental guidelines with respect to Urgent Reports.

(c)Closing documentation. At the conclusion of the Special Counsel’s work, he or she shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel.

§ 600.9 Notification and reports by the Attorney General.

(a) The Attorney General will notify the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the Judiciary Committees of each House of Congress, with an explanation for each action –

(1) Upon appointing a Special Counsel;

(2) Upon removing any Special Counsel; and

(3) Upon conclusion of the Special Counsels investigation, including, to the extent consistent with applicable law, a description and explanation of instances (if any) in which the Attorney General concluded that a proposed action by a Special Counsel was so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued.

(b) The notification requirement in paragraph (a)(1) of this section may be tolled by the Attorney General upon a finding that legitimate investigative or privacy concerns require confidentiality. At such time as confidentiality is no longer needed, the notification will be provided.

(c) The Attorney General may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions. All other releases of information by any Department of Justice employee, including the Special Counsel and staff, concerning matters handled by Special Counsels shall be governed by the generally applicable Departmental guidelines concerning public comment with respect to any criminal investigation, and relevant law.

§ 600.10 No creation of rights.
Authority.

The regulations in this part are not intended to, do not, and may not be relied upon to create any rights, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity, by any person or entity, in any matter, civil, criminal, or administrative.

Net Neutrality Comes Full Circle

Internet History

Speed and Cost

My fist internet connection in the late 1990’s was via a 300 baud dial up modem and cost $19.99 month (if memory serves).  At that same time a T-1 line (1.5 MB) cost about $3,000 month (again if memory serves)

In 2015 5 MB home service was available for $29.99 (again from memory).

February 26, 2015

On a party line 3-2 vote the Obama administration’s Federal Communications Commission voted to regulate broadband Internet service as a public utility.

March 12, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission released a 313-page document the included the new Net Neutrality Rules and the legal justification for them.

April 15, 2015

ComputerWorld wrote:

The rush is on to sue the U.S. Federal Communications Commission over its net neutrality rules, with three trade groups and AT&T filing legal challenges Tuesday.

The agency now faces six lawsuits related to the regulations.

Mobile trade group CTIA, cable trade group the National Cable and Telecommunications Association [NCTA] and the American Cable Association, which represents small cable operators, all filed lawsuits Tuesday, with AT&T announcing its own lawsuit late in the day.

The four new lawsuits all challenge the FCC’s decision to reclassify broadband as a regulated, common-carrier service, reversing a longstanding agency position that it is a lightly regulated information service. The CTIA lawsuit also focuses on the reclassification of mobile broadband.

May 2, 2017

Net Neutrality headed to Supreme Court.

December 14, 2017

On a party line 3-2 vote the Trump administration’s Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal regulating broadband Internet service as a public utility.

Debunking The Meme

A friend posted the following meme, from the site The Other 98, their mission:

We specialize in spanking greedy corporate asses for the harder working classes and provide a home on the internet for the millions of Americans who want to fight the power and make our country work for the other 98% of us.

Other98 is the only group out there with the kind of massive audience, bold language, and knack for storytelling that we need to create the seismic cultural shifts we need to change the world. Join us.

They have 5.2 M followers.

The Meme

AR-15_mass_shootings

Implying that the AR-15 is a common factor and presumably a causative and contributing factor.

First what is an AR-15?

The AR-15™ is a a lightweight, 5.56×45mm, magazine-fed, gas-operated semi-automatic rifle that has been in production since 1964.  It is a semi-automatic version of the United States military M16 rifle. Colt’s Manufacturing Company currently uses the AR-15 trademark for its line of semi-automatic AR-15 rifles that are marketed to civilian and law-enforcement customers. [Wikipedia]

colt_ar15a4
Colt AR-15™ (model AR15A4)

It is what is commonly referred to as an assault rifle, which is a misnomer if we accept the Wikipedia definition of:  An assault rifle is a selective-fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine.  The AR-15™ is semi-automatic vice selective fire (automatic, burst, semi-automatic).

The characteristics of an assault rifle:

The U.S. Army defines assault rifles as “short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine gun and rifle cartridges.” In a strict definition, a firearm must have at least the following characteristics to be considered an assault rifle:

  • It must be capable of selective fire.
  • It must have an intermediate-power cartridge: more power than a pistol but less than a standard rifle or battle rifle, such as the 7.92×33mm Kurz, the 7.62x39mm and the 5.56x45mm NATO.
  • Its ammunition must be supplied from a detachable box magazine.
  • It must have an effective range of at least 300 metres (330 yards).

Rifles that meet most of these criteria, but not all, are technically not assault rifles.  op. cit.

Just to reiterate, the AR-15™ is NOT selective fire and therefore using the Army definition is NOT an assault rifle.

Was a Colt AR-15™ Used?

Aurora – No

The weapons used were:

  1. Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport rifle
    S&WM&P15
  2. Remington 870 Express Tactical shotgun
  3. Glock 22 handgun

Orlando – No

The weapons used were:

  1. SIG Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle
    virtus-cat-image
  2. 9mm Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol

Las Vegas – Yes/Maybe

The weapons in the room were, it is unclear which were actually fired.

  1. four DDM4 rifles,
  2. three FN-15 rifles,
  3. one AR-15 rifle with forward front grip,
  4. one .308-caliber AR-10 rifle,
  5. one AK-47,
  6. at least one made-to-order LMT rifle, and
  7. one handgun.

Sandy Hook – No

The guns used were:

  1. Bushmaster XM15-E2S (.223)
    XM15_A2
  2. Glock 20SF (10mm)

Umpqua Community College – No (No long rifle was used)

All the guns actually fired were handguns:

  1. Smith & Wesson M99 (.40)
  2. Smith & Wesson M642-2 (.38)
  3. Taurus PT24/7 (.40)
  4. Hi-Point CF-380 (.380)
  5. Glock 19 (9mm)

Also found on the scene, but not used, was:

  1. Del-Ton DTI-15 5.56x45mm semi-automatic rifle
    Del-Ton, Carbine Rifle

San Bernardino – No

The weapons used were:

  1. DPMS A-15
    DPMS
  2. Smith & Wesson M&P15 (op. cit.)

Sutherland Springs – No

The weapon used was:

  1. Ruger AR-556
    Ruger556
  2. an unidentified handgun that may or may not have been used.

The Weapon Related Common Denominators

Since the AR-15™ is not a common denominator in the seven incidents, a “yes/maybe” in one of the seven, what are the weapon common denominators?

  1. Semi-automatic, magazine fed long rifles were used in six of the seven incidents.
    1. six of seven of the incidents had long rifles that have cosmetic characteristics of assault rifle, such as:
      1.  A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon.  [six of the seven incidents]
      2. A thumbhole stock. [zero of the seven incidents]
      3. A folding or telescoping stock. [six of the seven incidents]
      4. A grenade launcher or flare launcher. [zero of the seven incidents]
      5. A bayonet mount. [four of the seven incidents]

        bayonetmnt
        Colt AR-15™ Bayonet Mount (photo credit freetobeinamerica)
      6. A flash suppressor. [six of the seven incidents]
      7. A forward pistol grip. [possibly one of the seven incidents]

        FwdPistolGrip
        Forward Pistol Grip (Las Vegas) (Photo Credit Boston 25/NY Post)

Semi-automatic, magazine fed handguns were used in six of the seven incidents.

In one of the seven only handguns were used (Umpqua Community College) and in one only long rifles were used (Sutherland Springs).

The long rife common denominators that had the potential to add to the lethality of the incidents were:

  1. semi-automatic vice single shot, bolt or lever action.
  2. large capacity box magazines vice clips or tubular magazines.

The long rifle common denominator that had no potential to add to the lethality of the incidents was the cosmetic characteristics of assault rifle.

The handgun common denominators that had the potential to add to the lethality of the incidents were:

  1.  semi-automatic vice single shot or single action.
  2. large capacity magazines vice clips or revolvers.

This is an example of a semi-automatic long rifle that accepts large capacity box magazines with only one of the assault rifle cosmetic characteristics, a flash suppressor.  It is just as lethal as the long rifles used in the six incidents.

M1A_3
Springfield Armory M1A

Trade Deficit In Dollars, The Wrong Metric.

The Japanese consume 2.5 times more US goods, per consumer unit than the US consumes Japanese goods.

US-Japan Trade Deficit

The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with Japan was $54.9 billion in 2016.  Japan is currently our 4th largest goods trading partner with $195.5 billion in total (two way) goods trade during 2016. Goods exports totaled $63.3 billion; goods imports totaled $132.2 billion.  [US Trade Representative]

The US has a population of 323.1 million and Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there are 129 million consumer units.  This gives us a ratio of 39.9%.

If we apply this ratio [1] to Japan, whose population is 127 million we have 50.7 M consumer units.

So 129 M US consumer units consumed $132 B in Japanese goods.  This is $1,023 per US consumer unit.  While 50.7 M Japanese consumer units consumed $63.3 B in US goods.  This is $2,603 per Japanese consumer unit.

The Japanese consume 2.5 times more US goods, per consumer unit than the US consumes Japanese goods.  These looks like the US is the deficit partner.

US-China Trade Deficit

China has a population of 1.379 billion, which using the 39.9% ratio [1] yields 550.5 million consumer units.  The US exported $115,602 M or $840 is consumed by each Chinese consumer unit.

The US imports $462,618 M in Chinese good or $3,586.00 is consumed by each US consumer unit.  We consume 4.27 time more Chinese good than they do US goods.  China is clearly the deficit partner.

In actuality, the better metric would be related to median household income, but I don’t have easy access to that data.

The average annual household income in China, converted to dollars, was $10,220, compared with $84,300 in the United States (the median US income is $47,300.)

The $3,586 is 4.25% of the US average income while $840 is 8.21% of the Chinese average income.

[1] Probably not exact but only data I have.

 

Rational Tax Brackets

The Census Bureau Current Population Survey (2017) provides the following information on Household Income, derived from HINC-01. Selected Characteristics of Households by Total Money Income (all races).

By Quartile – Four Tax Brackets

First Quartile (0-25% of Households) have incomes between $0 – $29,999
Second Quartile (26% – 50% of Households) have incomes between $30,000 – $59,999
Third Quartile (51% – 75% of Households) have incomes between $60,000 – $104,999
Fourth Quartile (76% –  100% of Households) have incomes between $105,000 – Greater than $200,000.

A rational four tax brackets would be based on this data adjusted for; adjusted gross income (vice household income) and for single and married filing jointly.  The middle class would be the 2nd (lower middle class) & 3rd (upper middle class) quartiles.

By Quintile – Five Tax Brackets

First Quintile (0 – 20% of Households) have incomes between $0 – $24,999
Second Quintile (21 – 40% of Households) have incomes between $25,000 – $44,999
Third Quintile (41 – 60% of Households) have incomes between $50,000 – $74,999
Fourth Quintile (61 – 80% of Households) have incomes between $75,000 – $124,999
Fifth Quintile (81 –  100% of Households) have incomes between $125,000 – Greater than $200,000

A rational five tax brackets would be based on this data adjusted for; adjusted gross income (vice total household income)  and  single and married filing jointly.  The middle class would be the third quintile ($50,000 – $74,999 total household income).

The lowest tax bracket in each case should should take into account the poverty level, but should not be zero, all income earners should pay a income tax, even if it is only $1.00.

The welfare aspects of the tax code (earned income tax credits, …) should be transferred to Health and Human Services.

Taxing the Wealthy

If it is desired to tax the wealthy, in deference to the Progressives in Congress, then an addition tax bracket could be added to either approach.  The bracket would cover the 7% of households with total income of $200,000 and over.

Visualizing the Data

HouseholdIncome