A Rational Gun Discussion?
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms ... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. ... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants." --Cesare Beccaria
Twice this week, Barack Obama graced us with his pontification on both his fealty to the Second Amendment and his desire for "common sense" gun control measures. With the Left, however, those two things are mutually exclusive. He's merely repeating the siren song of every other socialist tyrant during the last one hundred years.
On Monday, Obama goaded Republicans to go along with his schemes. "[I]f in fact ... everybody across party lines was as deeply moved and saddened as I was by what happened in Newtown," further gun control measures are the only reasonable solution, he concluded. Furthermore, "As far as people lining up and purchasing more guns," he said, "I think that we've seen for some time now that those who oppose any common sense gun control or gun safety measures have a pretty effective way of ginning up fear on the part of gun owners that somehow the federal government's about to take all your guns away. And, you know, there's probably an economic element to that. It obviously is good for business." He should know -- he's the Gun Salesman Emeritus, presiding over the sale of 67 million guns in four years.
So to recap, if you don't support gun control, you hate kids, and if you're buying or selling guns, you're a greedy loon. Now who's ready for a rational discussion?
Then on Wednesday, Obama laid down the gauntlet. Of course, there was nothing new in what he proposed -- he had it all on the shelf just waiting for the first post-election crisis to exploit. Using four children as human shields, he bravely strode to the lectern to outline 23 executive actions, adding a call for congressional action. Nothing like basing policy on the opinions of eight-year-olds who've been brainwashed in government schools.
One particularly worrisome item on Obama's list is No. 14: "Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence." Such research isn't new, however. Timothy Wheeler, MD, director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, writes, "Memories are short. It was only 15 years ago that Congress cut off federal funding for the Centers for Disease Control's gun research. Top CDC officials such as Patrick O'Carroll, M.D., had said things like, 'We're going to systematically build a case that owning firearms causes deaths. We're doing the most we can do, given the political realities.'" There is reason to fear that the CDC would once again politicize their research or expand exclusionary mental illness to prohibit firearm ownership for millions of Americans.
Not only that, but Obama's item No. 4 gives the attorney general the authority to "review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks." Remember Fast and Furious? And recall the DHS warning about right-wing extremists? For that matter, check out this week's report on "America's Violent Far-Right." Now raise your hand if you trust Eric Holder to determine who "dangerous people" are.
Obama also promised to nominate a permanent ATF director. We suggest one who won't supply "assault weapons" to murderous Mexican drug cartels.
Next, Obama called on Congress to pass universal background checks and to ban so-called "military-style assault weapons" and standard-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. This defensive weapons ban faces a steep climb, however. Not withstanding Joe Biden's claims of "overwhelming consensus" on gun control, the GOP controls the House, and we don't believe even the spaghetti-spine Republicans in that chamber will consent to a ban. Then there's the Senate, where Democrats such as Max Baucus (MT), Mark Begich (AK) and even Al Franken (MN) are balking at, if not outright opposing, a ban. Mark Pryor (AR), Tim Johnson (SD), Kay Hagan (NC) and Mary Landrieu (LA) likewise face re-election in red states in 2014 and are probable "no" votes. Even Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) doesn't seem to be a fan of Dianne Feinstein's gun ban.
Then the courts. Under the Supreme Court's Heller and McDonald rulings, the Second Amendment does, in fact, mean what it says -- it preserves the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The Court added that this meant arms in common use, which would include semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15.
That said, we won't stop standing as a voice of Liberty in encouraging lawmakers to abide by their oaths. We must hold our elected officials accountable, and we must stop the Left's agenda. You can start by contacting your senators and representatives, as well as joining the 25,000 Patriots who have already signed the Second Amendment pledge.
The Assault Weapons Ban: Fact v Fiction
Don't miss Mark Alexander's essay, Sensible Gun Control Policy?
The BIG Lie
"[These] are common sense measures. They have the support of the majority of the American people. And yet that doesn't mean any of this is going to be easy to enact or implement. If it were, we'd already have universal background checks. The ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines never would've been allowed to expire. More of our fellow Americans might still be alive celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and graduations. This will be difficult. There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of the tyrannical all-out assault on liberty. Not because that's true. But because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves. And behind the scenes they'll do everything they can to block any common sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever." --Barack Obama, demonizing those who would oppose his tyranny
"I actually believe the president doesn't have the guts to admit he doesn't believe in the Second Amendment." --Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
This Week's 'Braying Jenny' Award
"Earlier this month, shortly after Newtown, all members of Congress took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and the American people. To protect and defend. That is our first responsibility. Today, members of the House Democratic Caucus have come together to fulfill that duty to confront the challenge of gun violence in our society and act to ensure the safety and security of our communities." --House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
The oath to support and defend refers to the Constitution, not some obligation to take guns away from law-abiding citizens in a supposed effort at "gun violence prevention." Pelosi and her NeoCom cadres could uphold their oaths by refusing to consider any legislation that infringes our Second Amendment rights. The Bill of Rights is part of the Constitution, too.
Around the Nation: Gun Control in the States
New York already had some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, but that didn't stop lawmakers from passing even more. A new defensive weapons ban went into effect this week, ramrodded through by Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his accomplices in the state legislature, including Republicans. With friends like these...
Not all state lawmakers supported this new ban, however. GOP State Senator Greg Ball said it best: "We haven't saved any lives tonight, except for one -- the political life of a governor who wants to be president."
Apparently, the solution to violence is a ban on "military-style" features. The state already prohibited more than two "military-style" features on a rifle, but the new law outlaws any "military-style" feature. John Fund in National Review notes, "All such weaponry terminology means is that they are semi-automatic weapons ... with some military-style external features." Fund explains, "That will mean the AR-15 Bushmaster rifle used in the Newtown shooting will be banned, but a similar rifle without its pistol grip will still be allowed for sale."
In addition, the new law also bans magazines containing more than seven rounds. In their supposed brilliance, legislators came to the conclusion that the number seven was the key threshold for stopping mass murderers. But they forgot to exempt law-enforcement officers, who generally carry standard-capacity magazines holding 15 rounds. D'oh!
About the only good news in this bill is language that gives pistol permit holders the right to request that their information remain private -- though we should note that officials are not mandated to honor such requests. That's thanks to the recent outing of gun owners by a suburban New York newspaper, which led already to at least two burglaries seeking those guns.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley wants to follow New York's lead, and Massachusetts has put forth an even more stringent bill. It's not surprising to see blue states leading the way down the road to tyranny.
Meanwhile, Republican Texas State Rep. Steve Toth proposed his own legislation to ban enforcement of any federal gun control measures in the Lone Star State. Toth rightly observed, "We can no longer depend on the Federal Government and this Administration to uphold a Constitution that they no longer believe in."
Government and Politics
News From the Swamp: Debt Theatrics
At Monday's press conference, Barack Obama offered hefty doses of political grandstanding, obfuscation and hypocrisy over the coming debt ceiling fight. Obama's stance all along has been that Washington doesn't have a problem with spending, only with finding more of the people's money to spend. He boldly proclaimed that the debt ceiling must be raised without question or debate, and if Congress won't do it, then he wants Capitol Hill to give him the power to do it himself. Raising the specter of default should the ceiling not be raised, Obama told reporters, "I will not have that conversation with a gun to the head of the American people." A rather sick choice of words given Obama's other obsession. Stay classy, Mr. President.
The threat of default is actually an empty one, but this is precisely why Obama uses the word "default" so often. J.D. Foster of the Heritage Foundation points out that America's ability to make interest payments on the debt resides not with Congress, "but on the simple fact that the Treasury has far more than enough funds to pay all interest as it comes due."
When Obama was a bright-eyed senator in 2006, he stood against raising the debt ceiling, stating that, "Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren." He even went so far as to call President George W. Bush "unpatriotic." In 2013, now that he's added a whopping $6 trillion to our national debt, his view is significantly different. "America cannot afford another debate with this Congress over how to pay the bills they've already racked up." Let us not forget those bills include four straight years of trillion-dollar deficits under Obama's presidency, a trillion-dollar stimulus package that was a complete washout, and ObamaCare, which has only just begun to unleash its wrath on the American economy. But never mind all that -- he also complained, "Congress authorizes spending. They order me to spend." The poor dear.
For all his rhetoric to the contrary, Obama clearly isn't opposed to massive debt -- indeed, he's using it for his purpose of fundamental transformation. Obama's only concern seems to be finding more taxes to continue his epic and disastrous spending spree. Even after achieving tax hikes on people making over $400,000 and payroll tax hikes on everyone else, the president still seeks a "balanced approach" -- that is, more tax increases before considering some, if any, spending cuts. As several high-ranking Democrats have already admitted, middle-class tax increases will be coming again too. In their view, all the money in America belongs to the government; the people are just allowed to hold on to some of it once in a while.
Hope 'n' Change: Tweaking the Mandate
The Department of Health and Human Services is currently looking into ways to add incentives to force more people onto the ObamaCare bandwagon. This will mean, among other things, stiffer penalties for people who choose not to buy health insurance. Apparently, the current penalty, or tax if your name is John Roberts, designed to nudge people into enrolling for health insurance, has not proven a powerful enough incentive. In fact, right now it's cheaper for many people to simply pay the penalty/tax than to sign up for insurance they might otherwise not want or need. This is a big problem because ObamaCare's ability to cover the sick is based on the revenue collected by more healthy people purchasing health insurance. We expect the individual mandate to become more powerful as the law inevitably becomes even more expensive.
New and Notable Legislation
The House approved another $50 billion in "disaster relief" for states hit by Superstorm Sandy. We say "disaster relief" because the bill contains billions in pork that is completely unrelated to storm recovery. It passed despite the GOP voting 179-49 against it, breaking the "Hastert Rule," which says that no bill should pass the House without majority support from the majority party. All but one Democrat, Jim Cooper (D-TN), voted for it. Northeastern politicians, including Republicans like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Congressman Peter King, had thrown childish tantrums about GOP leadership stalling a vote on the bill. Perhaps Speaker John Boehner got their message.
Faith and Family: Inaugural Snub
The most recent victim of the politically correct assault on religious liberty is Pastor Louie Giglio of Passion City Church in Atlanta. For years he tirelessly served God and humanity, and his crusade against human trafficking resulted in an invitation to deliver the benediction at Monday's inauguration. Last week, however, Giglio was forced to withdraw because of a sermon he preached in the 1990s against same-sex marriage. His sermon didn't preach hatred of homosexuals, just that same-sex marriage contradicts the teachings of the Bible.
While public sentiment on same-sex marriage may have changed, the Bible certainly has not; therefore the fact that Giglio delivered the sermon 15 years ago should be irrelevant. It also wasn't that long ago that Obama himself considered it politically prudent to object to same-sex marriage. That Giglio has been penalized for speaking religious truth is a testament (no pun intended) not only to the intolerance of the Left but also its willingness to put political posturing above all.
And this president sat for 20 years under the tutelage of a racist, socialist and fundamentally un-Christian Jeremiah Wright. Remember that when Obama opines about religion.
This Week's 'Alpha Jackass' Award
"Because of the protections guaranteed by our Constitution, each of us has the right to practice our faith openly and as we choose. As we observe Religious Freedom Day, let us remember the legacy of faith and independence we have inherited, and let us honor it by forever upholding our right to exercise our beliefs free from prejudice or persecution." --Barack Obama in a presidential proclamation for Religious Freedom Day on Wednesday
Heritage Foundation's Amy Payne responded, "That's one heck of a proclamation from an Administration whose actions have attacked religious liberty for Americans." Indeed, it will be small comfort to the numerous organizations and companies that are fighting the administration in court to retain their religious liberty.
Report: President Unfair to Women Staffers
If we had a Republican president, the above would be the headline of this story. But the fact that Barack Obama pays his female staffers about 13 percent less on average than his male employees was greeted by the Leftmedia with a yawn. Apologists were even quick to point out that 13 percent is better than the moldy oldie "77 cents on the dollar" that women supposedly earn compared to men. Ironically, the president was re-elected in large part due to a ginned-up "war on women."
Other news from the Obama camp: Many of the staffers who worked on his campaign are being snubbed regarding inaugural festivities. Either late notice or other lack of accommodation is leaving many a die-hard campaigner planning to watch the inauguration on TV. Moreover, staffers' last paycheck came in November, and their health insurance ended shortly afterward. "It feels like staff is an afterthought," whined one hapless minion, "and that's not what it was like during my 14 months on the campaign."
Welcome to our world, Buttercup.
Regulatory Commissars: The Cost of Red Tape
A study by a watchdog group, the American Action Forum (AAF), indicates that new regulations enacted by the Obama administration cost the economy an astounding $236 billion in 2012. The AAF further reports that toll brings the overall cost of regulations since Obama took office to $518 billion. That four-year figure exceeds the combined yearly GDP of Norway and Portugal.
It's no surprise that the EPA led the charge with over $170 billion racked up by Lisa Jackson's (a.k.a. "Richard Windsor's") agency, but ObamaCare also chipped in $20 billion, and it's just the beginning.
While the monetary costs are daunting enough, the compliance time -- estimated by AAF to be 86.6 million man-hours -- equals billions in lost productivity and advancement of our living standard from the private sector. Each of us in the American labor force loses over an hour a year just in keeping up with the new regulations, never mind the ones pressed upon us last year, the year before that, and so on.
The AAF report also shows a worrisome trend in that the costs of final rules are increasing with 2012 easily being the worst in the dozen years AAF has tracked the statistic. The former record holder was 2010, with $125 billion in final rule costs. Overall, Obama has presided over three of the highest four years of regulatory impact.
The Newest Taxation Scheme
Imagine driving without a tax on gasoline -- sounds good, doesn't it? But both the federal government and some states are pondering a new tax based on mileage driven. This plan comes on the heels of a Government Accountability Office study that predicts the federal highway fund will go broke if no new revenue source is found to supplement the current 18.4 cent per gallon federal gasoline tax. Just to tread water and keep spending at current levels would require an increase to 32 cents per gallon, says GAO, which blames the unintended consequence of higher federal fuel efficiency standards for the shortfall.
While user fees are nothing new in the transportation world, the idea of charging a fee just to drive obviously scares those in rural areas or those who spend a lot of time on the road for their livelihood. Industries that depend on non-essential travel, like the tourism industry, would also be hard hit.
Unfortunately, there's the real possibility of government's leaving the gas tax in place while adding the per-mile fee. The GAO report specifically states, "Mileage fee rates could be set to replace or supplement current Highway Trust Fund revenues." So prepare to be soaked at the pump and on the highway.
Around the World: European Disunion
From Greece's economic tailspin to the Euro Zone's bailout spree, Europe's economic woes are hardly breaking news. What's shocking is that the EU held out hope that after failed bailouts and "austerity measures," the one "rich" EU holdout -- Germany -- would magnanimously share its wealth. But the sinking economy is now dragging down the German ship of state, too. The Wall Street Journal reports, "German GDP expanded 0.7% in 2012, after two straight years of growth at 3% rates or more, statistics office Destatis said Tuesday. Based on the full-year figures, GDP fell around 0.5% in the fourth quarter from the third, or 2% in annualized terms, according to J.P. Morgan Chase." Thus, the EU's backup plan is kaput, so to speak. Thank goodness Washington bureaucrats aren't that naive. Oh, wait...
Indeed, as The Economist notes, "For the past three years, America's leaders have looked on Europe's management of the euro crisis with barely disguised contempt," deriding not only "last-minute, short term fixes" but also the inability to agree "on a long-term strategy for the single currency." But their hypocritical rhetoric aside, Congress and this administration are guilty of the same things. And if you thought your first shrunken paycheck of 2013 was the only tax-hike-hit you will take, think again. When it comes to economic "recovery," Washington is following Europe's playbook. And unfortunately, it's a playbook that has never delivered a win.
Warfront With Jihadistan: Obama Projects Weakness
Late last week, Obama held a series of bilateral meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Afterwards, Obama announced that the U.S. would accelerate its military transition in Afghanistan, saying that our forces will play only a supporting role in Afghanistan by this spring. In a joint press conference with Karzai, Obama said, apparently with a straight face, that swift progress on the part of both U.S. and Afghan forces had enabled both nations not only to meet previously set security goals, but also to "accelerate them somewhat." But, as if to rub Obama's and Karzai's noses in this alleged "swift progress," an explosion killed seven Afghan villagers on Sunday as they tried to pull bodies from the rubble of a village mosque. This type of still common event isn't exactly proof that the country has made "swift progress" toward stability. Obama also left open the possibility that all U.S troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan next year, a virtual guarantee that the jihadis will be back in control.
Speaking of jihadis in control, the situation in the western African nation of Mali is also of concern. The U.S. strategy should sound familiar: support the elected government by training their troops in counterterrorism operations against jihadis. But last year, some American-trained military commanders joined the jihadi rebellion in the north, and another American-trained commander organized a coup that overthrew the government, resulting in the all-too-familiar military-autocracy-versus-the-jihadis cage match.
Last week, the French moved in with troops and air power to try to stop the jihadi advancement, but they have met limited success (surprise!). The U.S. is only just offering material assistance to the French, but because of the coup, U.S. law prevents direct intervention. There are reports that the Islamists have captured surface-to-air missiles and other advanced weaponry from overrun Malian army bases, as well as other reports that jihadi groups are now flowing to the area as it becomes the world's new Jihad Central. All the while, al-Qa'ida is on the move in Algeria, where they took 132 hostages, including seven Americans, upon attacking a gas plant. Dozens were killed in the ensuing fight, including one American. It's beyond disconcerting to see that, once again, any leadership from the Obama regime is missing in action against these resurgent al-Qa'ida threats.
Immigration Front: Reform on the Horizon?
When he's not busy dismantling the Constitution, the Fresh Prince of Bill Ayers is working on new and inventive ways of undermining the rest of America's basic Rule of Law. In his latest assault, Barack Obama plans to preemptively grant millions of illegal aliens U.S. citizenship, moving them to the front of the line ahead of countless other immigrant citizen-candidates who have honored U.S. laws rather than flouted them. Obama's real purpose, of course, is to undermine Republican efforts for real reform as well as to solidify the Hispanic vote for his party in the same way Democrats secured the black vote. His timing may also be a result of the looming fight over the debt ceiling: When politicians are too spineless to tackle the tough problems facing them, they're only too happy to change the subject.
Not coincidently, the president began his renewed push for "comprehensive" immigration reform shortly after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced his own reform proposal, which includes several smaller steps. There's little new or different that Rubio is pushing -- secure the border, enhance checks for employment, raise the limit on immigrants with higher technical skills, establish a guest-worker program for low-skill jobs, and some method of dealing with long-term illegals, whether permanent status or citizenship -- it just won't be in one massive bill.
Amnesty in any form is extremely unpopular with Republican voters for obvious reasons: It moves scofflaws to the front of the line, and it also has been tried and failed before. Rubio's plan, however, is to enact reform piecemeal, in part to address this problem. In 1986, in return for promises of a secure border, illegals were given amnesty. The border wasn't secured and employer sanctions never enforced, and here we are again. By securing the border first, strategically deporting criminals and not putting illegals at the front of the line, Rubio argues, the problem can be addressed successfully this time.
As a Hispanic Republican, Rubio may carry the necessary weight to lead the party on the issue. Paul Ryan has signed on, too. And make no mistake -- if the GOP wishes to continue being a national party, it must make inroads with Hispanics. Just ask Ryan, whose presidential ticket lost the Hispanic vote by nearly 50 points. Will immigration policy fix it all? "No," says Rubio, but "the immigration issue is a gateway issue for Hispanics, no doubt about it. No matter what your stance is on a number of other issues, if people somehow come to believe that you don't like them or want them here, it's difficult to get them to listen to anything else."
Roe v. Wade at 40
Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of the most tragic Supreme Court decision in American history, Roe v. Wade. The primary issue remains the right to life affirmed in our Declaration of Independence -- a right tragically denied to the more than 55 million unborn babies sacrificed on the altar of "choice" since 1973. One political party advocates this at all costs, while calling for Liberty-infringing gun control in the name of saving "even one child's life." How disgustingly hypocritical.
It has always been evident to us, scientifically, morally and logically, that life begins at conception. For the last word on the matter, we consult our Creator's guidebook. The Psalmist wrote, "For You formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother's womb." He then noted, "Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were written all the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them." Imago Dei!
The Alabama Supreme Court agreed on Friday, ruling that "unborn children are persons with rights that should be protected by law." The case centered on two women who took illegal drugs while pregnant. One of the children was born prematurely and died of "acute methamphetamine intoxication." The Court's ruling is a great victory for life.
During the debate leading up to the passage of ObamaCare three years ago, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey exasperated his clientele by arguing that this version of health care "reform" was akin to socialism. After having some time to think about it, however, he decided he was wrong, and corrected the record. "Technically speaking," he said this week, "it's more like fascism. Socialism is where the government owns the means of production. In fascism, the government doesn't own the means of production, but they do control it -- and that's what's happening with our health care programs and these reforms."
Oh, now you've really done it, John! Indeed, it didn't take long for the outcry to reach Mackey and for him to backtrack again, apologizing for a "bad choice of language" in which he "took the dictionary definition of fascism" without considering that the "word has so much baggage." Socialism is a left-wing ideology that killed 100 million people in the last century, while fascism is a left-wing variant of socialism responsible for tens of millions of those deaths. We can't have left-wing grocery shoppers getting all confused about a perfectly good word, fascist, when they need to misapply it to Liberty-loving right-wingers.
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team