Scotch Whisky Makers Don’t Want a Virginia Distillery Using the Word ‘Whisky’

Last week a Scottish whisky association filed suit against a U.S.-based distiller over the latter’s use of the Scottish terms “whisky” and “Highland” on its labels. The suit was filed by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), a Scottish trade group that represents more than 9 out of every 10 of the world’s Scotch Whisky makers.

The SWA lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Delaware, alleges the Virginia Distillery Company’s use of the term “Virginia-Highland Whisky” is false, misleading, and deceptive. Among its claims, the SWA alleges that Virginia Distillery Company’s marketing violates the Lanham Act, a law that governs trademarks and which I discussed at some length in a 2014 column

“Defendant’s prominent use of the term ‘Highland’ and its spelling of ‘Whisky,’ among other things, falsely indicates to the public that Defendant’s product is Scotch Whisky when it is not, and/or that it is whisky that originates in Scotland, which it does not,” the lawsuit states.

In a statement issued in the wake of the lawsuit, Virginia Distillery Company CEO Gareth A. Moore defended the company’s labeling and marketing.

“Our label clearly indicates the source of our whisky, stating ‘Whisky from Scotland, Married with Virginia Whisky,'” Moore writes of the company’s blend, “and we have always been upfront in descriptions to our customers.”

Any differences between whisky and whiskey (or Scotch, bourbon, rye, and other similarly distilled spirits) boil down largely to geographic and legal standards. “American-made and Irish-made spirits are traditionally spelled ‘whiskey’ while ‘whisky’ is used primarily in Scotland, England, Wales, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and most areas of the United Kingdom,” a Daily Progress piece on the litigation explains.

The SWA acts as something of a protector of the realm, seeking “to sustain Scotch Whisky’s place as the world’s leading high-quality spirit drink.” The group pursues this goal by “protect[ing] Scotch Whisky from those who want to take advantage of its popularity by selling fake Scotch or trading unfairly on its reputation.” (The SWA also creates clever videos such as this one, which blends humor, Neil Diamond, and a wee dram of xenophobia to make its point that Scotch should only be made in Scotland.)

The SWA has gone after allegedly fake whisky makers for decades. A Whisky Advocate piece notes that whisky giant Dewar’s—itself an SWA member—ran afoul of the SWA several years ago by marketing a honey-infused whisky. The SWA alleged the product’s labeling—which included an accurate description of the bottle’s contents: “Dewar’s Blended Scotch Whisky Infused With Natural Flavors”—should not use the term “whisky” because U.K. rules don’t allow for the addition of anything to Scotch whisky, save for water and caramel coloring. Earlier this year, the SWA sued distiller Arkay over the company’s seemingly novel “alcohol-free whisky flavored drink.”

The role of the SWA is therefore similar to (likely) hundreds of other origin-centered food trade groups, including, for example, the Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium, which promotes “the defen[s]e and protection” of the cheese’s Italian origins.

From a purely legal standpoint, the SWA suit would appear to have a good case. U.S. regulations, the lawsuit notes, declare “Scotch whisky” (though not necessarily “whisky from Scotland”) to be “whisky which is a distinctive product of Scotland, manufactured in Scotland in compliance with the laws of the United Kingdom regulating the manufacture of Scotch whisky for consumption in the United Kingdom.” These same rules also state “‘Highlands’ and similar words connoting, indicating, or commonly associated with Scotland, shall not be used to designate any product not wholly produced in Scotland.” And U.K. rules, the lawsuit also notes, require “Scotch Whisky” to have been “produced in Scotland.”

Even if the rules appear to be on the side of the SWA, should they be? As I’ve long argued, including in my recent book Biting the Hands that Feed Us, standards of identity tend to protect large incumbent producers, stifle innovation and competition, and harm consumers.

Whisky producers in Scotland have chafed at the country’s ossified regulations and resultant stymying of innovation. Whisky Advocate reported last year that Diageo, the alcohol giant that owns several of the leading distilleries in Scotland (along with Irish brewer Guinness and many other leading brewers, vintners, and distillers), had created “a ‘secret task force’ last year to determine how Scotch whisky is ‘constrained’ in regulatory, legal, technical, and other ways, and to explore the ‘scope for reform.'”

The Scotch Whisky Association is well within its rights to sue in order to force competitors to play by the rules. But if some of the SWA’s leading members think the rules stink—and they do—then the SWA could and should find a different path forward.

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The Apollo Missions Were Cool, But Private Enterprise Has Been Better for Innovation

Fifty years ago, Apollo 11 fulfilled President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 promise to land Americans on the Moon. It was exactly the sort of project at which government was supposed to excel: a grand endeavor with no immediate payoff harnessing the resources of an entire nation.

Arguably, all it really demonstrated was that, if you could mug the taxpayers of an extremely wealthy nation to fund a scheme with no obvious benefit, you could orchestrate history’s coolest photo opportunity and show up those damned Russkies.

Some people mourn the end of the Apollo era as the end of heroic projects. It’s more accurate to say that it was the end of federal dominance of the public image of innovation and the dawn of an era of lower-profile but more-beneficial developments that improve human health, happiness, and wealth.

More beneficial? But didn’t the space program give us Tang? Actually, no—the stuff was already around, just not particularly popular until NASA made the astronauts drink it. But sure, let’s give NASA credit for marketing drink mix (it’s got the electrolytes Moon rocks crave!).

The private sector, on the other hand, has transformed the world around us with communications technology, computers, medicines and medical devices, and innovations in biotechnology. I’m probably missing something there, so feel free to email or tweet my oversight to me (in Apollo days, you’d have had to entrust your jabs to the government mail or a federally guaranteed telephone monopoly).

These transformations come courtesy of a host of sources, some involving government endeavors, many purely private, and others conflating the two—especially when it comes to defense spending, which has flowed in copious quantities over the years to many takers.

Increasingly, the researchers changing and improving the world in which we live do so for private businesses and independent organizations, seeking to solve specific problems or meet the perceived needs of consumers.

“U.S. [research and development] funding reached an all-time high of $499 billion in 2015,” according to estimates from the National Science Foundation‘s National Center for Science and Engineering. “This will represent the largest amount the U.S. or any nation has ever spent on R&D in a single year,” reported the American Institute of Physics (AIP) in 2016.

Of that $499 billion, “the federally sponsored share fell to a record-low 23 percent while the business sector’s share rose to a record-high 69 percent,” AIP noted. The federal government’s share of spending was at its lowest level since 1953, the year the National Science Foundation started measuring.

In 2016, the private sector funded 73 percent of U.S. research and development—$374.7 billion of $515.3 billion—the National Science Foundation announced earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the world has morphed in recent years in strange and interesting ways that may not be as dramatic as a Moon landing but are at least as important. These changes are apparent from the fact that I’m typing this article on a laptop computer on the back patio of my rural Arizona home. When finished, I’ll transmit it almost instantaneously to my editor in Washington, D.C. As I work, I’m doing my best to ignore the noisy endeavors of my teenage son, who himself is a result of fertility treatments unavailable a few decades ago and who has acquired most of his education remotely, using a variety of lessons and resources available to him far from any traditional classroom.

Even the internet that makes much of this possible and is sometimes credited to government is more accurately described as the result of a private efforts building on earlier public initiatives, with heavy emphasis on entrepreneurialism departing from and prevailing over Defense Department priorities.

Not everything new and cool is sitting on or near my patio table, though.

The world around us would be almost unimaginable—for good or ill—without cell phones. Lots of people contributed to the development of the technology, but the final spur came from rivalry between engineers at Bell Laboratories and Motorola. “Joel, this is Marty. I’m calling you from a cellphone, a real, handheld, portable cellphone,” Motorola’s Marty Cooper reportedly boasted to his rival, Bell’s Joel Engel, in the very first public call, placed as reporters looked on.

Golden rice, which started as a Rockefeller Foundation initiative, “has the potential to reduce or eliminate much of the death and disease caused by a vitamin A deficiency,” according to a letter signed by 144 Nobel Laureates. The modified rice is prominent among the low-key but potentially world-changing developments of the biotechnology revolution in general, and genetically modified organisms in particular.

Perhaps less important in terms of biotechnology, but still intriguing, is the looming challenge to vegans: is lab-grown meat ethically acceptable? The schism should be GMO popcorn-worthy.

3D printing has picked up buzz since the 1980s as a means of lowering manufacturing costs, speeding production—especially of prototypes and small runs—and evading government restrictions. “The simplicity and low cost of [3D printing] machines, combined with the scope of their potential creations, could profoundly alter global and local economies and affect international security,” the RAND Corporation noted last year.

Tellingly, as the innovations accumulate and transform society, the world is becoming more prosperous, with per-capita income soaring over recent decades (nope—no post-Apollo slump!) in an important break from agonizingly slow historical gains.

“The speed of poverty alleviation in the last 25 years has been historically unprecedented,” Alexander C. R. Hammond wrote in 2017 for the Foundation for Economic Education. “Not only is the proportion of people in poverty at a record low, but, in spite of adding 2 billion to the planet’s population, the overall number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen too.”

Economic liberalization—free markets—get much of the credit for this. Freer markets have opened the floodgates of innovation, research, and development. As a result, “agricultural productivity has greatly improved due to more scientific methods of farming, access to plentiful and much improved fertilisers and pesticides, and new high-yield and disease-resistant plants,” Marian Tupy pointed out last year for CapX.

Yeah, maybe it’s not as overtly heroic as a Moon landing. But people are healthier, happier, and wealthier because of these and myriad other private innovations, inspiring and building on one another.

And yes, that applies to space exploration, too. Recent innovations in launch vehicles and reusable craft come courtesy of private innovators. You can even get spectacle, if that’s what you want, in the form of the Tesla Roadster and mannequin “astronaut” that SpaceX launched into the interplanetary void.

Sure, that was pure marketing, just like the culmination of the original space race. But it was marketing done with the company’s own money. And it was viewed across the world on a host of devices invented and improved by private initiative in the 50 years since the Apollo astronauts took those first steps on the Moon.

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Libel Litigation in … Disneyland Social Clubs

Yesterday’s California Court of Appeal Sarno v. Bailes decision strikes me as a pretty routine libel, invasion of privacy, and anti-SLAPP case—except for the background:

Disneyland enthusiasts created unincorporated associations to socialize with each other in the park.  The social clubs were named for a Disney character or theme, and in the park, members wear clothing, etc., identifying their club.  The social clubs maintain Web pages on social media platforms.  Two of the social clubs are “The Main St. Fire 55 Social Club” (MSF) and the “White Rabbits Social Club” (WR).

Also relevant, “the social club ‘The Mermaids,'” and a 12-year-old daughter of a Mermaids member who is charmingly referred to as Little Doe (Bambi’s sister, maybe?). Unfortunately, things turn far less happiest-place-on-Earth from there …..

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Second Amendment Doesn’t Protect Gun Possession in Capitol Parking Lot

From U.S. v. Class, written by Judge Thomas Griffith and joined by Judges Davis Sentelle and Sri Srinivasan:

The Supreme Court has been careful to note that “longstanding prohibitions” like “laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings” remain “presumptively lawful.” Heller I, 554 U.S. at 626, 627 n.26…. [T]he same security interests which permit regulation of firearms “in” government buildings permit regulation of firearms on the property surrounding those buildings as well…

First, though it is open to the public, the Maryland Avenue parking lot may be used during working hours only by Capitol employees with a permit. This makes the area a potential stalking ground for anyone wishing to attack congressional staff and disrupt the operations of Congress. The operation of the national legislature depends not only on the ability of members of Congress and their staff to conduct business inside the Capitol, but also on their ability to freely and safely travel to and from work. The same special security concerns that apply to the employees while in the Capitol apply when they walk to and from their cars on Capitol property.

Second, the lot is close to the Capitol and legislative office buildings. Class possessed a firearm less than 1,000 feet away from the entrance to the Capitol, and a block away from the Rayburn House Office Building. Although there is surely some outer bound on the distance Congress could extend the area of protection around the Capitol without raising Second Amendment concerns, Congress has not exceeded it here.

Finally, as the owner of the Maryland Avenue lot, the government—like private property owners—has the power to regulate conduct on its property. See [Adderley] v. Florida, 385
U.S. 39, 47 (1966) (observing in the free-speech context that the government, “no less than a private owner of property, has power to preserve the property under its control for the use to which it is lawfully dedicated”); cf. Bonidy v. U.S. Postal Serv., 790 F.3d 1121, 1126 (10th Cir. 2015) (observing that when the U.S. Postal Service acts “as a proprietor rather than as a sovereign, [it] has broad discretion to govern its business operations according to the rules it deems appropriate”).

Thanks to Charles Nichols for the pointer.


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Advice to Lawyers from a Judge

From Judge Thomas B. Smith’s decision last week in Doscher v. Apologetics Afield, Inc. (M.D. Fla.):

The Court has quoted from only three of the many childish emails [Doscher] and Livingston have exchanged. Obviously this needs to stop. Both sides need to learn that frequently the best response to immature behavior is to ignore it. Don’t react, don’t sink to the other side’s level, don’t try to fight fire with fire. There are disagreements in every case, that is what litigation is about. Most adversaries work out their disagreements while remaining calm and professional. Doscher and Livingston are admonished to discontinue this dumb conduct, work on their demeanor, and behave more maturely than they have to date. The Court hopes this rebuke will be sufficient to address the situation and on this basis, [Doscher’s] motion for sanctions is DENIED.

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Trump Criticizes Straw Bans, While His Campaign Sells Trump-Themed Straws for $15

Plastic straws are now an issue in the 2020 campaign, and on this narrow policy question, President Donald Trump is the pro-freedom candidate.

Yesterday, the president’s re-election campaign rolled out brand new Trump-themed plastic straws that are guaranteed to irritate environmentalists.

“Liberal paper straws don’t work. STAND WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP and buy your pack of recyclable straws today,” reads the sales pitch for the straws on Trump’s 2020 campaign website. Despite a 10-pack going for a whopping $15, the merchandise appears to have already sold out.

Trump spoke out on the issue today.

“I do think we have bigger problems…[but] you know, it’s interesting about plastic straws. You have a little straw, but what about the plates, the wrappers & everything else that are much bigger and made of the same material?” Trump said when asked by a reporter whether he supported banning plastic straws.

Opponents of straw bans can’t afford to be choosy with their allies, but it is sad to see plastic straws—once a noble symbol of resistance to government tyranny—being appropriated to re-elect a president who thinks the Bill of Rights is just one more invoice he doesn’t have to pay.

Trump is not wrong to point out, in his own meandering way, that straws are a small portion of overall plastic consumption. Data from litter surveys and beach cleanups find that straws are far outpaced by things like candy wrappers, cups, and cigarette filters.

When Starbucks stopped topping some of their drinks with their traditional cup-and-lid combo, they ended up replacing them with strawless lids that used more plastic.

Trump’s campaign is also correct in pointing out that “liberal paper straws” are a poor substitute given their propensity to dissolve in drinks or crumple when being poked through lids. These deficiencies are why plastic straws replaced paper ones to begin with.

However, the Trump campaign, while being good on straws, also lends credence to another bogus environmental panic by advertising their Trump-themed straws as “BPA free.”

BPA, short for Bisphenol A, is a chemical often found in plastics. A number of studies raised some concerns that its presence in food packaging could be hazardous to human health, which in turn fanned alarmist calls to ban the chemical or boycott products that contain it.

Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority have found that at current levels of exposure, BPA poses no health risk to consumers.

The plastic straw is a helpful and cheap drinking utensil that has been unfairly maligned as an environmental menace. Keeping them legal should be a matter of sound science, not an attempt to win another battle in a toxic culture war.

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Anti-Vaping Researchers Claim E-Cigarettes Cause Heart Attacks Before Smokers Try Them

Last month the Journal of the American Heart Association published a study that claimed “e-cigarette use is an independent risk factor for having had a myocardial infarction.” Based on data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH), the researchers found that vapers were twice as likely to report heart attacks as subjects who had never smoked or vaped. In a blog post, study co-author Stanton Glantz, a longtime anti-smoking activist who directs the Center for Tobacco Research Control & Education at the University of California, San Francisco, described that finding as “more evidence that e-cigs cause heart attacks.”

But according to Brad Rodu, a tobacco researcher at the University of Louisville, most of the e-cigarette users who reported heart attacks had them before they started vaping, which makes Glantz’s causal inference logically impossible. In a July 11 letter to the journal’s editors, Rodu noted that Glantz and his co-author, Dharma Bhatta, “failed to account for detailed information in that survey on (a) when participants were first told that they had a heart attack and (b) when participants first started using e-cigarettes.”

When Rodu and University of Louisville research economist Nantaporn Plurphanswat looked at that information, they found that most of the 38 vapers who reported heart attacks “were first told that they had a heart attack many years before they first started using e-cigarettes.” In that group, “heart attacks preceded first e-cigarette use by almost a decade on average.” When Rodu and Plurphanswat ran the numbers without the subjects who started vaping after they had heart attacks, they found that “vapers were much less likely to have had a heart attack, not twice as likely.”

In their study, Bhatta and Glantz acknowledged that “we cannot infer temporality from the cross-sectional finding that e-cigarette use is associated with having had an MI,” and “it is possible that first MIs occurred before e-cigarette use.” But instead of using the information provided by the survey to address that issue, they did a secondary analysis limited to subjects who had their first heart attacks in 2007 or later. They chose that year because it was when “e-cigarettes started gaining popularity on the US market.”

Of course, that does not mean all 16 of the subjects in this sub-sample had heart attacks after they started vaping. In fact, Rodu and Plurphanswat found that it was the other way around in “more than a third” of those cases, as they noted in a follow-up letter yesterday. (They did not report the precise numbers because of limits on how PATH data can be used.) Even ignoring that crucial point, Bhatta and Glantz’s secondary analysis did not find a statistically significant association between vaping and heart attacks.

When USA Today reporter Jayne O’Donnell asked Glantz about the glaring problems with his study, he bragged about being “a for-real rocket scientist,” dismissed Rodu as a “tobacco industry apologist” because his research is supported by unrestricted grants from several tobacco companies, and claimed he and Bhatta would have found a statistically significant association if only the sample had been larger. But he conspicuously failed to address the puzzle of an effect that precedes its purported cause.

Rodu’s interest in tobacco harm reduction long predates his receipt of industry funding, which he says he felt compelled to accept because government agencies refused to fund his research on smokeless tobacco as a safer alternative to cigarettes. In an interview with O’Donnell, New York University public health professor Ray Niaura, who said he does not think a connection between vaping and heart attacks has been established, vouched for Rodu, calling him a “fastidious scientist.”

Glantz, it’s fair to say, is a bit less fastidious. He has been slamming e-cigarettes as an evil tobacco industry plot for years, and he has repeatedly tried to cast doubt on the indisputable fact that they are much less hazardous than the conventional kind.  “E-cigarettes should not be promoted or prescribed as a less risky alternative to combustible cigarettes,” Bhatta and Glantz write, “and should not be recommended for smoking cessation among people with or at risk of myocardial infarction.”

That conclusion is based on a study that considered only one of the risks posed by smoking and even then managed to imply equivalence only by ignoring obviously relevant information. “The main findings from the Bhatta-Glantz study are false and invalid,” Rodu and Plurphanswat write in their July 11 letter to JAHA. “Their analysis was an indefensible breach of any reasonable standard for research on association or causation.”

In their July 18 letter, they add: “Their inclusion of a secondary analysis is evidence that Bhatta and Glantz knew that many current e-cigarette users had a
heart attack before they started vaping. The results of their secondary analysis confirm that their study results are false and invalid.” They conclude by urging the journal’s editors “to take appropriate action on this article, including retraction.”

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San Francisco Judge Overturns Illegal Warrant Used to Monitor Journalist’s Phone

A judge has revoked a search warrant that the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) illegally obtained to monitor a journalist’s phone. With the warrant’s recension, officers must also destroy all evidence obtained from its use.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Rochelle East ruled that the warrant violated California’s Shield Law, which protects journalists from being held in contempt when they refuse to name a source. The law also excludes related items from being subject to search warrants.

The reporter, Bryan Carmody, drew the fury of the SFPD earlier this year when he disseminated a leaked police report surrounding the February death of Jeff Adachi, the city’s former public defender. (The document said that Adachi had been with a woman who wasn’t his wife in an apartment filled with “cannabis gummies” and “empty bottles of alcohol,” among other embarrassing details. The rather salacious and irrelevant contents raised suspicions that a faction of the SFPD was looking for retribution against Adachi, who was known for relentlessly criticizing the police.)

Subsequently, officers obtained a warrant to monitor Carmody’s phone for “subscriber information, call detail records, SMS usage, mobile data usage and cell tower data” from February 22 until February 23, as well as further “remote monitoring” on the phone “day or night.” In May, after Carmody declined to provide his source, armed officers barged into his apartment with sledgehammers and raided his apartment, taking the electronic equipment that Carmody uses to run his news operation. The warrant used for that search currently remains intact, though it likely also violated California’s Shield Law. Carmody’s attorney, Tom Burke, is engaged in a legal battle to quash that one, too.

East says the cops did not inform her that Carmody was a journalist when they requested the wiretap warrant. In Thursday’s hearing, the police sergeant who obtained the warrant reportedly testified that he was unaware of Carmody’s line of work. (It’s worth noting that the journalist maintained a police press pass for 16 years.) Police Chief William Scott blamed his staff in May for failing to identify Carmody’s profession, eliciting the ire of the San Francisco Police Officers’ Association, who said it was Scott that nefariously neglected to note his status as a journalist.

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J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum

J.M. Davis Arms Museum building.

Located near Tulsa on Route 66, the J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum amazes and overwhelms. With 12,000 firearms on display, it offers the largest collection of guns you can see at any museum.

But it’s not just a firearms museum. Boasting 50,000 total artifacts, the Davis Museum has plenty to engage the members of your party who aren’t interested in guns. For example, there are 1,200(!) beer steins, plus 19th century parlor musical instruments, a large collection of saddlery and riding gear, and lots of displays about outlaws and lawmen.

The museum building is owned by the State of Oklahoma, so there is no admissions charge. A voluntary donation of $5 per individual or $10 per family is encouraged. The museum is in Claremore, Oklahoma, a small town that is now part of the Tulsa metropolitan area. Parking is free and extensive.

The Davis Museum displays the largest collection of beer steins in the western hemisphere. (Rose City Art).

The museum’s collection was donated in 1969 by J.M. Davis, a businessman and long-serving mayor of Claremore. Starting in the late 1920s, Davis had displayed his growing firearms collection at his hotel and coffee shop, enticing travelers on Route 66, which ran from Chicago to Los Angeles.

The museum reflects the time period when Davis was doing his collecting. It is incredibly deep for 19th and 20th century American and European firearms up through about 1969. The eighteenth century has some representation, and there are some guns from the seventeenth century, and even a Chinese hand cannon from 1350. But where the museum excels is from 1800 onward. The World War I era is particularly strong.

Over a hundred rows of firearms are on display.

With well over 100 rows of displays, the Davis Museum takes a while to visit if you’re going to look carefully at everything.

The majority of firearms exhibits are pegboard hangings, grouped by manufacturer, nationality, or type. So, for example, you can study large collections of Harrington & Richardson handguns, Mauser rifles, or Spanish handguns.

The Davis Museum isn’t the only place where you can see a lot of Winchesters or Remingtons, but for American manufacturers that are no longer in business, and haven’t been for decades, the Davis Museum may be the best place to view their products.

The signage and text on many of the manufacturer-grouped displays is sparse. It could be enhanced with more information about what a particular manufacturer or series of models contributed to the evolution and use of firearms.

Some of the most interesting displays focus on particular types of forgotten arms. Some of these, such as blunderbusses, were popular during their glory days. Others were obscure; for example, in “folding trigger” handguns, the trigger could be flipped forward and upward, thus reducing the risk of accidental discharge in a time before trigger guards became near-universal.

The quantity of firearms curiousa is larger than I’ve ever seen in any other museum. There excellent displays of disguised guns, miniature guns, and “suicide specials” (inexpensive, small, and not necessarily well-made handguns commonly carried for self-defense in the late 19th century). There’s also a “cemetery gun”—a tripwire-activated swivel gun used to deter grave robbers in England in the early 19th century.

If you want to focus on the mainstream, you can peruse the rifles and shotguns that were sold en masse via the mail-order catalogues of Sears Roebuck or Montgomery Ward. Not to mention flare pistols, toy/cap guns, and boys’ .22 rifles (very popular in the first half of the 20th century).

As the signage explains, firearms can be used for good or ill, depending on the user. This is reinforced by displays on guns used by lawmen and outlaws, including three handguns owned by the notorious 1930s bank robber Pretty Boy Floyd.

The staff is friendly and enthusiastic. If you on Route 66, the Davis Museum is worth a stop. And if you have a high interest in firearms and their history, the Davis Museum merits a trip on its own.

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Pelosi Rejects Plan to Cut Spending by Less Than 0.3 Percent

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) rejected a White House offer on Friday to cut $150 billion in federal spending over 10 years as a part of a possible deal to raise the debt ceiling.

Now, $150 billion might sound like a large amount of money. But relative to how much money the federal government is set to spend over the next 10 years, the White House’s proposed cut is roughly equivalent to deciding you’ll eat one fewer Chipotle burrito per month for the next decade. That’s not going to pay off a maxed-out credit card.

The fact that Pelosi rejected such a comically small reduction without even giving her colleagues the chance to consider it tells you all you need to know about the state of fiscal responsibility in Washington right now.

Bloomberg reports that the White House provided House leaders with roughly $500 billion in possible budgetary offsets on Thursday night, asking that the Pelosi find $150 billion in cuts that her members would support. Both sides are continuing to negotiate in advance of a planned vote on raising budget caps and the debt limit next week. The Treasury has been using so-called “extraordinary measures” to deal with the debt limit since March, when the U.S. surpassed the current limit of $22 trillion.

It’s possible that spending cuts will be part of whatever final deal is reached, but it’s still worth stressing just how absurd a negotiating position Pelosi is taking here—if she does indeed stick to saying that $150 billion is too steep a cut.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the federal government will spend more than $57 trillion over the next decade. A $150 billion cut amounts to less than 0.3 percent of all spending during that time. In the context of a $50,000 annual household budget, that’s like cutting about $150 per year—the cost of a single lunch each month.

That’s hardly enough to get the federal government out from under $22 trillion in debt. The CBO projects that if current policies stay in place, the government will add another $11.6 trillion to the deficit over the next decade. By 2049, the national debt will be more than one and a half times the size of the entire U.S. economy, breaking a record set during World War II. If a recession hits, those numbers could be worse.

“It’s hard to believe there is resistance to finding just $150 billion of offsets over the next decade,” comments Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “If Congressional leaders don’t like the options suggested by the administration, they should propose alternatives and additions.”

MacGuineas points out that $150 billion isn’t enough to cover the expected cost of raising the budget caps—meaning that whatever Congress passes next week is almost guaranteed to add to the deficit.

Not that Congress seems to care. There’s no political appetite for cutting spending or balancing the budget right now. That’s true for both Democrats and Republicans. The latter have finally started admitting publicly that they don’t care about deficits anymore, while the former are increasingly pushing for new entitlements that will only make existing budgetary problems worse.

But if Congress and the White House can’t agree to cut a relative pittance, there’s practically no hope that our elected officials will meaningfully address the debt crisis barrelling our way.

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