- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 5, 2016

An emotional President Obama has revealed his plans for 10 executive actions meant to reduce gun violence, noting, “The gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage, but they can’t hold America hostage. We can’t accept this carnage in our communities.”

The president’s effort “is more about optics than solutions,” says American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp. “President Obama is pulling at the heartstrings of Americans but fundamentally does not understand or care about rural America, and instead wants to bring the laws of Chicago to everyone. The measure simply targets law-abiding and responsible gun owners and sellers and fails to empower law enforcement or prevent criminals and terrorists from doing harm.”

A Chicago-based policy analyst also has a thought or two on it all.

“Obama’s hometown of Chicago saw 467 murders in 2015 and 943 murders as recently as 1992. Nationally, the murder rate is less than half what it was in the early 1990s and [is] similar to early 1960s levels, when there were no background checks, waiting periods or age limits to buy guns, no licensing of gun dealers and no Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms,” says Steve Stanek, a research fellow with the Heartland Institute, a free market think tank.

“These facts tell us at least two things. One, this is the safest the nation has been in at least 50 years, when there were almost no gun control laws compared to today, showing there’s almost no link between violence and gun laws, and two, the nation’s major news media and politicians are making America sound much scarier than it really is. They’ve done this knowing that frightened people are more willing to hand power to government,” Mr. Stanek concludes.

BILL AND HILLARY: EIGHT FUNDRAISERS THIS WEEK

Former President Bill Clinton is a busy man. He’s set to be in Manhattan for a splashy private fundraiser on behalf of spouse and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, this one organized by NY Film and TV for Hillary, a private group. Mr. Clinton scurries off to Iowa Thursday to appear in back-to-back campaign events for the missus in Cedar Rapids and in Dubuque. But it is a mighty-crowded week.

Mrs. Clinton herself will be at two events near Los Angeles on Thursday, one organized by Rep. Judy Chu. Hubby journeys to Arizona on Friday for another private event in Paradise Valley, followed by a reception in Seattle later in the day. And Mrs. Clinton? She will attend two more fundraisers in the Golden State on Friday, one in San Francisco and the other in Palo Alto.

But wait, there’s more. Mr. Clinton travels to New Mexico on Saturday for yet another event, this one hosted by former Gov. Bill Richardson and former Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez. It is ambitious outreach, and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign is unapologetic. The candidate raised $37 million in the last quarter of 2015, for a total of $112 million for the year.

“Hillary for America set a new record for the best off-year fundraising of any nonincumbent in history,” notes campaign manager Robby Mook. He deems the effort “historic.”

Mrs. Clinton’s rival, Sen. Bernard Sanders, meanwhile, raised $33 million during the last quarter of 2015, for a year total of $73 million, with no fancy fundraisers — but over 2 million grass-roots donors.

THE SPEAKER IS NOW A SPEAKER

Former House Speaker John A. Boehner has joined the public speaking circuit. Some two months after he resigned from his post, Mr. Boehner has emerged as the keynote speaker for a business summit staged by Managed Health Care Associates, and it’s done up with style, scheduled for early March at the very swank Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The host expects 1,300 “alternate site health care providers, operators, owners, decision makers and thought leaders” as their guests; the summit will focus on “federal and state legislation, the ongoing changes in health care delivery models, biosimilars and the global generic outlook.” James Carville and Mary Matalin will also be featured on the program.

Mr. Boehner served as speaker from 2011 to 2015, until he resigned on Oct. 31. The former Ohio Republican lawmaker is, however, exclusively registered with the Harry Walker Agency, a high-profile speakers bureau that also represents Dick Cheney, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, plus Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, among many, many luminaries.

While the agency does not reveal Mr. Boehner’s speaking fee, they do describe him as a “former small businessman” who, as a lawmaker, focused on “smaller, less costly, and more accountable federal government.”

SANTORUM AND HUCKABEE SOLDIER ON

They’ve got boots on the ground in Iowa no matter what. Republican hopefuls Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee are essentially all over the Hawkeye State as the days before the Iowa caucus dwindle down to a precious few. Mr. Santorum arrives Thursday for a dozen back-to back events — primarily house parties and town halls, determined to up his standing in the polls.

Mr. Huckabee, meanwhile, will stage 150 events throughout the month, with 25 this week alone. His campaign simply describes the incredible schedule of “Huckabee Huddles” as a final push.

“It all boils down to Iowa, and the people of Iowa are not for sale,” the candidate notes.

POLL DU JOUR

77 percent of Americans say getting a car with the technology features they want is more important than getting their preferred car color.

70 percent say they are more likely to consider cars with autonomous features like parking assist or automatic braking.

65 percent say they would switch car brands to get technology features they want.

65 percent say they would watch the road even if not driving in a self-driving or autonomous vehicle.

57 percent say auto manufacturers should integrate a generic smartphone system in all vehicles to accommodate different manufacturers like Apple or Android.

Source: An Autotrader survey of 1,012 U.S. adults car owners conducted Sept. 1-30 and released Tuesday.

Petty annoyances, diatribes to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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