Leftists Exploit Pain for Political Gain
"The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic." --Joseph Story
The nation is still reeling over the dreadful events in Newtown, Connecticut, one week ago. We mourn the tragic loss of life, and we weep and pray for the families who won't have a son or a daughter to open presents under the Christmas tree this year. We wish that we could, as one nation, just pause and reflect. The last thing we want is a political fight. But even so, we won't stand idly by while some use Newtown's pain to justify taking away our Liberty.
Evil exists in the world, and yet too many people seem shocked that an evil man would take the lives of 20 six- and seven-year-old children, six adults at the school and even the life of his own mother. That isn't to say that the horrific crime isn't shocking, but it is to say a sober view of reality is needed.
Instead, the Left is almost uniform in hiding the evil behind its implements. Evil often takes things -- sometimes very good things -- and twists and distorts them for its own ends. Rather than admit the existence of evil, the Left blames the thing itself. Hence the renewed efforts at "gun control" at the federal level. Our mission -- and it should be the mission of congressional Republicans -- is to stop those who would use evil acts as an excuse to take away our very means of defending against that evil; to stop Barack Obama and his ilk from stacking up the coffins of innocent little children as a platform for their vile disarmament agenda.
We must begin by considering the terms of the debate, and refusing to cede the field to leftists. For example, we must not use the Left's lexicon when referring to crimes where assailants use guns. The sociopath who used a gun to kill kids in Newtown was not a "shooter" or a "gunman." Such words only put the emphasis on the tool, rather than the perpetrator. When we head to the range, we are shooters and gunmen. That sociopath was an "assailant" and "murderer."
Furthermore, those who don't have the first clue what they're talking about regarding guns shouldn't be the ones to craft legislation dealing with them. When Nancy Pelosi warns hysterically of "assault magazines," or when Carolyn McCarthy refers to a barrel shroud as "the shoulder thing that goes up," they have shown themselves to be incapable of good judgment on the issue.
When the Left frets about "high-capacity magazines" or "assault weapons," they know not of what they speak -- or worse, they deliberately misinform. Many guns, including handguns, have standard-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, which, inexplicably, seems to be their lucky number to solve "gun violence."
Rifles such as the AR-15 are not "assault weapons." The Defense Department says, "Assault rifles are short, compact, selective-fire weapons [i.e., machine guns] that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine-gun and rifle cartridges. Assault rifles have mild recoil characteristics and, because of this, are capable of delivering effective full automatic fire at ranges up to 300 meters." The AR-15 is a civilian semi-automatic weapon that fires intermediate-powered rounds -- one for each distinct pull of the trigger. Such rifles aren't "high-powered," either. Indeed, they aren't legal for deer hunting in many states because their firepower isn't sufficient to reliably take down a deer.
The primary purpose of the Second Amendment isn't to preserve hunting, or sport shooting, or even self-defense, though it does protect all those things. The Founders' intent when enshrining our natural right to "keep and bear arms" was to ensure that the people could defend against a tyrannical government -- that's precisely why tyrannical governments always begin by disarming the people. Anyone who doubts this truth should ponder the awful history and the appalling body count of 20th-century communism. Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi once said, "Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest."
In the immediate aftermath of the Newtown murders, Sen. Dianne Feinstein vowed to get "weapons of war off the streets" by reintroducing her 1994 "assault weapons" ban. Of course, that ban did little but prohibit guns with certain cosmetic features that, to the ignorant, look particularly scary. The Bushmaster .223 that the Newtown killer allegedly used was legally owned by his mother in Connecticut, which has an almost identical ban to the 1994 federal one. An especially troubling aspect of the new federal law is the proposed ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammo, merely because Beltway leftists and New York chardonnay sippers can't conceive of a legitimate use for 12, 15 or 30 rounds. (For a good summary of the other details of the bill, see here.)
The Obama White House announced that it will "actively support" the bill, as did Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Mark Warner (D-VA), who all have good NRA ratings. Joe Biden is now in charge of a "task force" to reduce gun violence, in part through legislation. We are reminded that in 2008, Obama said, "If you are a law-abiding gun owner you have nothing to fear from an Obama administration." So much for that. Indeed, don't be surprised if Obama tries something through executive order should Congress fail to bow to his wishes.
Attorney General Eric Holder said, "[W]e have to ask ourselves some hard questions" and "talk about the freedoms that we have." Let's do. Let's start with some hard questions about why the Department of Justice was selling Mexican drug cartels the same types of weapons Obama now wants to ban. Another of those Fast and Furious weapons just turned up at a Mexican murder scene in November.
Meanwhile, Obama is using Newtown as an excuse not only for gun control, but, grotesquely, he said that it provides "some perspective" for getting his domestic agenda through Congress, particularly on the fiscal cliff. He's also using it for continued fundraising.
Obama asked Sunday night, "Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?" The president's political party has made killing children prior to birth a pillar of their platform -- 54 million children sacrificed on the altar of "choice" since 1973, currently a rate of 3,200 every day.
Since Obama was elected in 2008, gun and ammunition sales have surged to historic highs. Perhaps if Obama is really concerned about the proliferation of firearms, he should resign.
Since the previous ban on certain semi-automatic rifles sunset in 2004, gun ownership has increased and crime has decreased.
According to the FBI, two-thirds of murders that involve guns were perpetrated with handguns. In fact, it's pretty embarrassing for Feinstein that her own summary statement says that her ill-defined, so-called "assault weapons have been used in at least 459 incidents, resulting in 385 deaths and 455 injuries" since the ban ended, because that's less than one-half of 1 percent of all gun deaths in that time period. Twice as many people are killed with an assailant's hands, fists or feet -- and almost five times as many with a knife -- than with a rifle. Furthermore, the gun-death statistics that leftists tend to trot out are invariably skewed by gang-on-gang violence.
Just this year in Chicago -- Obama's hometown and a city with the toughest gun restrictions in America -- 62 young people between the ages of six and 18 have been murdered with guns -- and nearly 500 people total. Not a word from Obama.
It must also be noted that the murders in Newtown, as well as those in Aurora, Virginia Tech, Columbine and other places, occurred in so-called "gun-free zones." The Useful Idiots of the Left are under the delusion that simply posting a sign will make people safe, when only the murderers actually are safe. Estimates are that the sociopathic killer in Newtown broke 20 existing gun laws, including entering a "gun-free zone" with a gun. Murder is also against the law no matter the weapon.
There are numerous stories every week like this, this and this of citizens using firearms to stop threats, often without even firing a shot. Ann Coulter recounts several attempted mass shootings thwarted by gun owners.
Benjamin Franklin once proclaimed, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." In the case of those who would give up Essential Liberty for nothing more than the perception of a little temporary safety with more gun prohibitions, indeed they deserve neither Liberty nor safety and, ultimately, will lose both.
This Week's 'Alpha Jackass' Award
"The notion that more Americans, quote-unquote in the words of [Texas Republican] Gov. [Rick] Perry, 'packing heat,' will make us safer is not founded in reality in facts or in history. It is founded in the fantasy of testosterone-laden individuals who have blood on their hands for articulating that idea." --Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT)
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Government and Politics
News From the Swamp: How About That Bluff?
Negotiations on the fiscal bluff proceeded this week with House Speaker John Boehner offering a compromise plan to raise taxes on people earning $1 million or more each year. Enough congressional Republicans were displeased, however, that leadership canceled a Thursday night vote, adjourning for Christmas. The House did already pass an extension of all the tax rates earlier this year.
Barack Obama first set the bar for raising taxes on the "wealthy" at income levels of $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for married couples, but he countered Boehner with tax increases on those over $400,000, telling Republicans to "peel off the war paint" and just do what he says. And of course he still wants to raise spending as part of the "deficit-reduction deal." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that Boehner's plan was "a tactic, but it's not a serious proposal." She should know -- it was her proposal earlier this year.
Boehner's proposal was perhaps better than raising taxes on everyone -- it did make lower rates permanent and kept the estate tax from rising from 35 to 55 percent -- but having Republicans' fingerprints on a tax increase, even if only for the top bracket, violates conservative principles. The top bracket includes many small business owners, and raising that rate will be especially damaging to the economy. The gamble was that the GOP would get much of what it was after, and if Democrats did nothing with it, they would own the tax increase on all taxpayers. Even if Boehner's plan had passed, Harry Reid, Majority Leader in the do-nothing Senate, vowed to leave for Christmas without voting on it, and Obama promised a veto.
Republicans are still fighting for minor entitlement reform -- chaining Social Security to the Consumer Price Index to slow cost-of-living increases and raising the eligibility age for Medicare to 67 from 65 -- but Democrats will hear none of it. "Don't even think about raising the Medicare age," Pelosi warned. "We are not throwing America's seniors over the cliff to give a tax cut to the wealthiest people in America. We have clarity on that." Oddly enough, the wealthiest people in America include an awful lot of seniors, and these two entitlements amount to a huge transfer of wealth from the current working generation to a wealthier retiring one.
A deal becomes more unlikely with each passing day. As long as Democrats are willing to push the nation over the cliff for their class warfare agenda, what alternative is there?
R.I.P. Robert Bork
Judge Robert Bork, a conservative judicial icon and former Supreme Court nominee, died this week at the age of 85. Bork's book "The Tempting of America" was seminal in laying out the case for an originalist interpretation of the Constitution, or, to interpret based on the original meaning of the text. The book also recounted the story of his nomination by President Ronald Reagan to the Supreme Court in 1987. During his confirmation hearings, Democrats behaved so cravenly that Bork's name became a verb meaning "to so thoroughly trash a nominee's reputation as to prevent that person from advancing."
Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden led the charge back then, with Kennedy making his disgraceful "Robert Bork's America" speech on the Senate floor. That America, Kennedy blustered, "is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is -- and is often the only -- protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy." Bork's nomination failed 58-42, and Anthony Kennedy ended up filling the vacancy.
That said, Bork's contributions to legal thought were tremendous, outweighing even many justices. Rest in peace, Judge Bork.
R.I.P. Daniel Inouye
Longtime Democrat Senator Daniel Inouye from Hawaii died this week at the age of 88 after an extended respiratory illness. Born in Hawaii in 1924 to Japanese immigrants, Inouye served as a medical volunteer during and after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. After the U.S. Army dropped its enlistment ban on Japanese-Americans in 1943, Inouye joined the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, serving with great distinction in the European theater. He led a platoon in the Rome-Arno campaign in 1944 and fought in the Vosges Mountains of France later that year, aiding in the rescue of the famed Lost Battalion. In April 1945, Inouye took a bullet to his abdomen while leading an attack on one of the last German positions in Italy. He stayed in the fight and took out two machine gun nests before receiving another wound that cost him his right arm. Bleeding profusely and lying on the ground next to his severed limb, Inouye still managed to destroy a third German position before taking another bullet in the leg.
Inouye's war service earned him the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, and the Distinguished Service Cross, which was upgraded to the Medal of Honor in 2000. He served in the Hawaii territorial government from 1953 to 1959, and then in the U.S. House of Representatives as Hawaii's first full member in 1959. He was elected to the Senate in 1962 and was re-elected eight times by consistently large margins, and he served longer than any other senator in history except Robert Byrd.
Partisanship aside, he served his country well in both war and peace. Rest in peace, Senator Inouye.
The Senate Replacements
South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley chose Rep. Tim Scott to replace retiring Senator Jim DeMint, who is leaving to take over the Heritage Foundation. Scott, a second-term House member from Charleston, will be the only black senator and the first black Republican Senator since Reconstruction. Scott is a solid Tea Party conservative and one of the hardest-working members of the 2010 GOP freshman class. He's a self-made man raised by a single mother. Before taking public office, he ran an insurance company and shared ownership of a real estate agency, giving him more real-world knowledge than most Democrats.
Haley promised to appoint someone who could win the 2014 special election, and Scott's qualifications in the private and public sectors make him the ideal candidate. Leftists, who see everything through the race prism, wasted no time opposing him for blatantly racial reasons. But their hypocrisy is clear -- they call on the GOP to bring in more people of color, only to label any such person as "tokens." Diversity is good as long as everyone agrees with the Left.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts Democrat Gov. Deval Patrick is mulling over whom to pick to replace Sen. John Kerry now that Barack Obama has tapped the traitorous Kerry to become secretary of state (Join the more than 214,000 people who have signed our petition to indict Kerry). The list so far includes has-beens, don't-wannas, and never-will-bes; in short, the crème de la crème of Bay State Democrat politics. First, there was former governor Michael Dukakis, whose own political career came to an unceremonious end after being trounced in the 1988 presidential election, but he refused to consider the idea of replacing Kerry. Patrick also reportedly approached Vicki Kennedy, widow of Ted Kennedy, in what would have been a sad attempt to resurrect the Kennedy political brand yet again. Fortunately, she refused.
Then there's Attorney General Martha Coakley, who lost to Republican Scott Brown in the 2010 special election. There's no word at this point whether she would be interested in taking another shot, but whomever Patrick picks might end up facing Brown in the 2014 special election.
Hope 'n' Change: ObamaCare's Continuing Legal Hurdles
Courts in New York and Washington, DC, have ordered in separate lawsuits that the Obama administration must make good on its promise to create rules exempting religious institutions from the ObamaCare contraception- and abortion-coverage mandate. Up until now, all religious groups had to go on was a vague promise from the president early this year that they wouldn't be required against conscience to offer contraception and abortion coverage to their employees. The administration's lack of follow-through indicates that they hoped the legal challenges would go away so they could push forward with the socialist experiment that is ObamaCare. That strategy failed via the Left's favorite lawmakers, judges. As Judge Brian Cogan of New York noted two weeks ago in the Archdiocese of New York's case challenging the mandate, "There is no 'Trust us, changes are coming' clause in the Constitution." Cogan ruled in favor of the Archdiocese, ordering the government to start making good on its promise.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit reinstated two lawsuits challenging ObamaCare's contraception mandate this week, overruling two lower district courts that considered the lawsuits "premature." The Obama administration conceded under questioning that it planned to issue a new rule on the religious exemption, a concession the court took as a "binding commitment." The court has ordered the administration to develop a new rule exempting religious institutions from the mandate by March 31, 2013. The administration also has to file progress reports every 60 days.
These rulings could come as welcome news to Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza, who recently filed his own suit against the mandate. Monaghan currently offers his employees health insurance that does not cover contraception or abortions because both run counter to his Roman Catholic beliefs. He believes, and rightly so, that being forced to comply with the mandate violates his First Amendment rights. His suit is one of the higher profile challenges to the mandate to come from a non-religious institution in the private sector. Unfortunately, a similar suit from Hobby Lobby was rejected Thursday by the Tenth Circuit Court, which ruled that a secular, for-profit business doesn't have a First Amendment right to religious liberty. The craft supply chain faces fines of $1.3 million a day if it doesn't comply.
Income Redistribution: Government Motors Divestment
Just days after the federal government divested its stake in AIG, the insurance giant that started the bailouts of 2008, the Treasury Department announced it would sell back 200 million shares of GM stock. The stock will sell at $27.50 per share -- or an almost 50 percent loss for the government costing taxpayers some $14 billion. But at least the unions made out okay. Even after the sale, the government will own 19 percent of the world's largest automaker, down from 26.5 percent. That's why we call it "Government Motors."
Around the Nation: America the Less Affluent
The average worker must often wonder why the money he's earned never makes it through the month. Now those who compile these sorts of statistics have determined that, for the first time, the U.S. is no longer among the 10 most prosperous nations in the world. The Legatum Prosperity Index now ranks the U.S. 12th among 142 nations. (Norway is first, while the Central African Republic is last.) In questioning the reason for the lower ranking, those who compile the data blamed a change in American attitude: "This fall is driven by a decline in the number of U.S. citizens who believe that hard work will get them ahead and a decrease in ICT (information and communication technology) exports." This will be the lasting legacy of Obama's food stamp nation.
The good news in all this, according to the Legatum Institute, is that the world as a whole is more prosperous, and one reason we're sliding in the rankings is that other nations are gaining ground. But the question is, how we can reverse our slide? The answer clearly doesn't lie in the excessive regulation, lack of fiscal discipline and poor tax policies of the current regime.
The Benghazi Report Is In
"An independent panel charged with investigating the deadly Sept. 11 attack in Libya that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans has concluded that 'systemic' management and leadership failures at the State Department led to 'grossly' inadequate security at the mission in Benghazi," reports CBS News. Among the findings was that there was in fact no protest outside the consulate, and the attack was planned and executed by terrorists -- both contrary to White House assertions for weeks afterwards. But we already knew all that. Four State Department managers received official discipline (whatever that means) Wednesday following the report. One of them, Eric Boswell, head of the Diplomatic Security Bureau, resigned.
Congress held hearings Thursday on the report, and two deputy secretaries of state testified. Notably absent again was Hillary Clinton, who suffered a stomach virus last week followed by a fainting spell and a concussion. Or so the story goes. Clinton still has not testified on her department's failures that day, and she will step down soon. With one foot out the door at State and already on the 2016 campaign trail, why would she stick around for a congressional grilling?
Department of Military Correctness: Hasan Can Keep Beard
The U.S. military, one of the last remaining bedrocks of true patriotism, continues sliding down the politically correct slope that has turned much of American culture toward mind-numbing depravity. We recently highlighted the new Army manual that essentially tells our troops to play nice with our deadly jihadi enemy in Afghanistan. Now we hear that Major Nidal Hasan, he of the murderous Fort Hood rampage (oops, that's "workplace violence" according to the Obama regime) will be allowed to keep his jihadist beard during his military trial.
The previous judge overseeing the trial had ordered Hasan to be forcibly shaved prior to the trial. But a military appeals court recently ousted the judge and tossed the shaving order, apparently because Hasan's feelings might be hurt. The new judge for the trial, Col. Tara Osborn, this week told Hasan that while the beard is a violation of Army regulations, she just won't hold it against him and he can keep it. Hasan faces the death penalty if convicted, but given the direction and painfully slow pace of this alleged "trial," he'll probably end up with a reality TV show and a swank Hollywood mansion.
Meanwhile, trial is moving forward without delay and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians. The difference? He's not Muslim.
New Talks, Same as the Old Talks
Stop us if you've heard this one before: The U.S., Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany (collectively known as the P5+1) are planning another round of talks with Iran over the pariah nation's nuclear program. Despite continued Iranian defiance, un-named U.S. officials claimed they were "hopeful" Iran's position might have softened in recent months under the pressure of international sanctions. Iran apparently didn't get the memo, however, as the head of its Atomic Energy Organization said on Tuesday, "Iran will not suspend 20 percent enrichment because of the demands of others."
We repeat the question we asked in October: Why would Iran give in to its self-declared greatest enemy by agreeing to a deal on its nuclear program? Iran's leaders must feel as safe against attack as at any time since 2004. China and especially Russia have worked overtime to shield Iran and hamstring the very UN Security Council they purportedly serve. Most definitely not by coincidence, the Russian Navy destroyer "Marshal Shaposhnikov" visited Iran's main naval base at Bandar Abbas this week, the first Russian visit since before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. This is a textbook case of diplomatic signaling, in this case of Russia's support and good relations with Iran. Under these circumstances, we don't expect anything useful to result from the next round of talks.
Immigration Front: One in Eight Illegals Pass Benefit Test
Auditors in the Department of Homeland Security released the sad findings of an audit showing that one of eight illegal aliens who had been ordered deported were still in the system and could be deemed eligible for government benefits. Overall, the finger-pointing between agencies suggested the problem is a lack of coordination.
The Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program, better known as SAVE, is intended to be an updated list of aliens who should be deported and barred from government benefits. But those whom the system hasn't found have instead been granted financial benefits or, even worse, access to areas that are supposed to be off-limits to those ineligible, such as airport security. Among those not flagged in the SAVE spot check were criminals who should have been deported after convictions such as extortion, manslaughter and murder. The man in the latter homicide case was made eligible for student aid before finally being removed.
Illegal aliens received additional notoriety this week when it was revealed that, collectively, they were nominated as Time Magazine's "Person of the Year." Ultimately, the award went instead to the preferred choice of illegal aliens who slipped through the cracks and voted in our most recent presidential election: Barack Obama. Illegal aliens who take advantage of incompetent government and policy would certainly agree with Time's choice. But the magazine's selection further underscores what a worthless distinction "Person of the Year" has become.
Faith and Family: The QJV 'Bible'
Finding it impossible to reconcile the homosexual lifestyle with the teachings of Scripture, a group of activist "editors" has released a homosexual-friendly Bible. "The Queen James Bible" changes eight specific verses in the King James Version, all in an attempt to cater to every color of the rainbow. For example, in the KJV, 1 Timothy 1:10 reads, "For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine." The Queen James Version omits "with mankind," however, so the verse simply states, "For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine." Similarly, 1 Corinthians 6:9 in the KJV counts among those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God the "effeminate" and "abusers of themselves with mankind." The Queen James, however, changes these to the "morally weak" and "promiscuous."
Of course, this isn't the first time folks have tried to alter Scripture -- you'll recall, for example, the gender-neutral Bible. According to the editors of the QJV, however, "The Queen James Bible resolves any homophobic interpretations of the Bible. ... We wanted to make a book filled with the word of God that nobody could use to incorrectly condemn God's LGBT children, and we succeeded." The key words here, though, are "we wanted to make a book." Those who change Scripture to suit their urges are looking not to serve God but hoping to change Him.
Finally, Some Good News
It's been a tough year, and an especially tough week, given the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. In times like this we often ask ourselves if there is any hope for humanity. And in this modern media-dominated age, it's easy to see why -- bad news makes for better publicity and adrenaline rushes. The result is that we're continually weighed down by news of heinous acts. But the true meaning of Christmas is alive and well.
You may recall several weeks ago that a New York City police officer was photographed giving a homeless man a $100 pair of shoes to cover his bare feet. This generosity was manifested again in Plano, Texas, when an officer stopped 25-year-old Hayden Carlo for an expired registration sticker. "I don't have the money," Carlo told the officer upon questioning. "It was either feed my kids or get my registration done."
The officer handed Mr. Carlo a ticket, but included a $100 bill inside. "I broke down in my car," Carlo said. "What else could I do?" In a further move of humility, the officer requested to remain anonymous. May this act of kindness inspire all of us to bless others just as we have been blessed. And may it further remind us that we give not to be remembered for it, but that we give to help those struggling in need.
As we go to press for the last time in 2012, it's with the full recognition that it may be the last time, period. After all, the Mayan apocalypse is scheduled for later today. Of course, if you're reading this on Saturday, well, then we're happy to report that everything is fine.
Disclaimer: Please note that we don't actually believe the rumors, but we do rather enjoy playing along. So just go with the flow.
Should the world continue to rotate on its axis, we'll simply enjoy our customary hiatus for Christmas. As always, Headlines and Opinion will continue to appear on our site over the next week, and editions will return on Jan. 2 with the Chronicle.
A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all our faithful readers.
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team