'There Oughta Be a Law'
"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them." --Richard Henry Lee, Federal Farmer XVIII
Ever since the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the Left has rabidly pursued all manner of unconstitutional gun control legislation. Federal, state and local, the NeoComs stop at nothing to deprive us of our unalienable rights, endowed by our Creator. Yet all is not lost as long as we stand firm.
The National Institute of Justice, the research branch of the Justice Department, recently leaked a memo evaluating many of the White House's preferred gun control measures. For example, the NIJ says that Dianne Feinstein's defensive weapons ban is "unlikely to have an impact on gun violence" because -- wait for it -- those firearms "are not a major contributor to gun crime." Therefore, concludes the NIJ, in order for a ban to be effective, it would have to include no exemptions and be paired with a mandatory buyback program.
Notably, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) just introduced legislation to impose a 10 percent tax on concealable firearms, aiming to fund a federal buyback with the revenue collected.
The NIJ reaches similar conclusions about magazine capacity limits, which would be ineffective while exempting currently owned magazines, and universal background checks, which won't work without national gun registration because criminals use straw purchasers or steal firearms in order to avoid background checks.
The question is, will Obama and the NeoComs pursue NIJ's recommended "fixes" to their obviously flawed plans?
While movement has temporarily slowed at the federal level, the states are busy enacting their own draconian gun restrictions. In Colorado, House Democrats passed four anti-gun bills including outlawing concealed carry on college campuses (more on that below), requiring universal background checks and limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds.
As we noted last week, Magpul, maker of the popular PMAG magazine for AR-15 platform firearms, plans to carry through with its threat to leave the state because of the mag cap limit. Democrats tried offering them an exemption to manufacture their magazines in-state as long as they didn't sell them there, but Magpul wisely didn't take the bait. "If we're able to stay in Colorado and manufacture a product, but law-abiding citizens of the state were unable to purchase the product, customers around the state and the nation would boycott us for remaining here," said Doug Smith, Magpul's chief operating officer. The move would take $85 million and hundreds of jobs from Colorado.
In Washington, a bill is in the works with a requirement to "safely and securely store" any legally owned "assault weapons." It would also provide sheriffs with the power to, "no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance," upon penalty of up to one year in jail.
Maryland Democrats seek to ban "possessing, selling, offering to sell, transferring, purchasing, or receiving an assault weapon." That goes beyond Feinstein's federal ban proposal in that it also bans "possessing." Furthermore, no one under the age of 21 may possess ammunition, meaning they also can't hunt. Things aren't going well in the Used-to-Be Free State.
New York, an early adopter of unconstitutional restrictions post-Newtown, isn't done. Democrats introduced a bill to require that all gun owners in New York "obtain and continuously maintain a policy of liability insurance in an amount not less than one million dollars specifically covering any damages resulting from any negligent or willful acts involving the use of such firearm while it is owned by such person." Failing this, a gun owner will face "immediate revocation of such owner's registration, license and any other privilege to own" a firearm. Privilege? Our copy of the Constitution recognizes the right to keep and bear arms.
Speaking of New York, numerous gun manufacturers and sellers are refusing to sell to law enforcement officers or government agencies anything that can't be legally bought by the average citizen. This move applies to any other state that bans weapons or magazines while making exceptions for law enforcement officers. So far, none of the big three law enforcement suppliers -- Smith & Wesson, Glock and Sig Sauer -- have joined the effort, but Barrett, LaRue Tactical, Olympic Arms, York Arms, MidwayUSA, Cheaper Than Dirt, Spike's Tactical and several others have announced the policy change.
We greatly respect and appreciate our nation's law enforcement officers, but if a seven-round mag is good enough for a civilian, it's good enough for a police officer. And if civilians can't own modern muskets, police shouldn't either. Civilians are not subjects; rather, they and law enforcement personnel are fellow citizens.
State news isn't all bad, however. Ten states have proposed legislation to preempt federal gun bans and protect lawful gun owners. Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington have all proposed legislation to protect firearms made and kept within their borders. Alaska, Arizona, Montana and Tennessee have already passed such laws.
Finally, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia thinks state guns bans will reach the Court. We agree, and we don't doubt Scalia is itching to reiterate that the Court meant what it said in its Heller and McDonald rulings, and that the Second Amendment also means what it says.
'Non Compos Mentis' on Guns
During the debate in Colorado about concealed carry on campus, Democrat state Rep. Joe Salazar explained why women don't need guns for self-defense against would-be rapists: "It's why we have call boxes, it's why we have safe zones, it's why we have the whistles. Because you just don't know who you're gonna be shooting at. And you don't know if you feel like you're gonna be raped, or if you feel like someone's been following you around or if you feel like you're in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop ... pop around at somebody."
Hot Air's Mary Katherine Ham retorted, "Well, after all, you might not get raped. In Salazar's world, not only are women incapable of defending themselves against a physical threat, but they are incapable of even identifying a physical threat, and should therefore be deprived of the ability to try. Empowerment!"
Never fear, the University of Colorado posted some safety tips for avoiding rape, including "kick off your shoes if you have time and can't run in them." Failing that, "Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating. Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone." They conclude, "Only you can decide which action is most appropriate." Well, unless you decide carrying a firearm is appropriate. Call boxes, whistles and vomiting are peachy ideas, but a handgun would be far better. When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.
Another legislator, Democrat State Senator Jesse Ulaberri, contended that people don't need guns for self-defense because that just leads to a "whole crossfire." And besides, the people in Tucson "stood up to defend themselves ... and they did it with ball point pens."
These are the people who think they know what's best for you.
"I personally witnessed two fellow students murder twelve of my classmates and one teacher. The assault weapons ban did not deter these two murderers, nor did the other thirty-something laws that they broke." --Columbine survivor Evan Todd, who wrote an open letter to Barack Obama opposing gun control
Government and Politics
News From the Swamp: President 'Meat Clever'
Republicans and Democrats remain at odds over averting the March 1 sequester, but the situation is not so dire that it kept Congress from taking a week-long recess. The sequester, part of the 2011 plan for $1.2 trillion in "deficit reduction" spread over a decade, was a White House effort to scare Republicans into acquiescing on tax hikes. It was postponed once during the fiscal cliff debacle, and there is already talk that Congress could enact a funding replacement measure later in March if the cuts do go into effect.
But again, these "cuts" are merely reductions in the rate of growth -- not actual debt reduction.
Senate Democrats proposed a replacement for this year's $85 billion sequester (which might actually be as little as $44 billion) that would reduce farm subsidies, raise more taxes on high-income earners, and end some business tax breaks for a total of $110 billion over 10 years. Republicans rejected the plan, saying that taxes should be part of a separate discussion. "Revenues [and closing] loopholes are necessary for tax reform," said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). But, he warned, "If you take them for spending, you're blocking tax reform and you're really not getting the deficit under control." Meanwhile, Republicans are working on an alternative to allow federal agencies to more flexibly administer the sequester, which addresses the primary spoken criticism of Democrats.
Barack Obama remained busy demonizing Republicans, laying out a series of public events designed to cause the lemmings in the Leftmedia to forget that it was he who suggested and signed into law the sequester. Now, he's accusing Congress of using a "meat cleaver" to cut spending, while encouraging the GOP to accept the Senate's $110 billion whitewash. He's also blaming Republicans in advance for any effect on jobs, like the threatened furloughs for 800,000 Pentagon civilian employees, if the sequester hits. That's funny, because last fall the administration pressured companies to postpone layoff notices until after the election. Oh and, according to the Washington Post, Republicans hate baby seals.
Meanwhile, Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson, co-chairs of the deficit commission that Obama convened in 2010 and later kicked to the curb, offered a new "deficit reduction" proposal of their own this week. The $2.4 trillion 10-year plan proposes $600 billion in cuts to health care spending, $600 billion in revenue from ending or reducing tax breaks, and $1.2 trillion in lower caps on discretionary spending. The plan contains elements that both sides adamantly oppose, but the choices aren't going to be any easier as time goes by.
Quote of the Week
"In remarks on Tuesday, Obama warned of 'arbitrary' and 'brutal' cuts liable to 'eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research.' Then, in front of a wall of human props dressed as firemen, he foretold a litany of impending disasters: emergency responders and federal agents kneecapped by budget cuts and furloughs, prosecutors forced to let criminals walk, unmanned air-traffic-control towers, roving bands of laid-off teachers, hordes of children robbed of health care, unvaccinated millions spreading disease through the population. The president stopped short of predicting human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, and mass hysteria. But the gist was similar." --National Review
Video of the Week
Back in 2011, Obama proposed, advocated and signed the sequester. Now it's the worst thing he can possibly imagine. See the history for yourself.
The BIG Lie
"Over the last few years both parties have worked together to reduce our deficits by more than $2.5 trillion." --Barack Obama
For the record: The debt has increased by nearly $6 trillion on Obama's watch because annual deficits remain over $1 trillion.
This Week's 'Alpha Jackass' Award
"My sense is that [Republicans'] basic view is that nothing is important enough to raise taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations, and they would prefer to see these kinds of cuts that could slow down our recovery over closing tax loopholes. That's the thing that binds their party together at this point." --Barack Obama
Hope 'n' Change: State Exchanges
Republican Govs. Christ Christie (New Jersey) and Bill Haslam (Tennessee) announced this week that their states would not be setting up ObamaCare insurance exchanges. There are now 26 states opting out of setting up state-run exchanges, leaving the federal government with the responsibility of doing it in their place. On the other hand, Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott announced this week that he would join six other Republican governors in caving to the demands of the White House by expanding Medicaid under ObamaCare. This after Scott won his office as a "principled conservative" leading the charge against government-run health care. His approval ratings are low, but let's see how he explains his major reversal to voters. That said, the Florida legislature, currently controlled by Republicans, will make the final decision.
Those who have opted out are wise to do so, despite the fact that states opting in will enjoy the initial windfall of "free money" coming from those that don't. In the long run, even tiny Vermont, with a population of 660,000, expects to burn through $150 million in federal grants to set up its exchange. It will cost a further $18 million a year to run it, a cost that will assuredly go up. This may be acceptable to a state that boasts America's only self-confessed socialist senator, but the rest of the nation deserves better.
From the Left: The Corruption Files
The investigation into whether Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) patronized underage Dominican prostitutes has expanded to include FBI interviews in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. The trouble for Menendez began with a federal probe into his dealings with Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor and major Menendez money man. It is believed that Menendez might have illegally intervened on Melgen's behalf regarding Medicare payments and that Melgen may have repaid Menendez by setting up sex parties for him with underage prostitutes during vacations in the Dominican Republic. Menendez is currently sticking to his story that this is just a right-wing smear campaign. We'll see how long that holds.
Another Democrat embroiled in scandal, former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., pleaded guilty this week to several counts of mail and wire fraud stemming from the gross misuse of $750,000 in campaign funds. Jackson, who resigned after winning re-election in November, faces four years in prison, though his lawyer is working to reduce that due to alleged mental health issues. The FBI catalogued over 3,100 different expenditures related to Jackson's use of campaign funds for night club and restaurant tabs, Michael Jackson memorabilia, a $43,000 gold-plated Rolex, and many other items not remotely related to legitimate campaign expenses. Jackson's once-Chicago alderman wife, Sandi, also pleaded guilty to willfully filing a false tax return. She faces two years in prison -- or four years as the next Treasury Secretary.
Not all lawmakers are crooks, however. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) just returned to the Treasury $600,000 in unused office budget funds -- about 17 percent of his budget went unspent. "We watch every purchase," Paul said. "We watch what computers we buy, what paper we buy, the ink cartridges. We treat the money like it's our money, or your money, and we look at every expenditure." What a refreshing concept!
Judicial Benchmarks: Campaign Finance Preview
Ever since the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, preventing corporations from making campaign contributions directly to federal candidates but allowing them to donate to independent groups seeking to elect or defeat federal candidates, leftists have been complaining that the decision perverts the democratic process. Corporations shouldn't have free speech rights in federal elections, they say. And they've maintained a public relations offensive to reverse the ruling either in the courts or in Congress.
Certainly, the case led to the proliferation of deep-pocketed super PACs that can spend unlimited amounts of corporate and union money in federal contests as long as they operate independently of candidates. In its next session, SCOTUS will revisit the issue in McCutcheon v FEC, in which an Alabama businessman and the Republican National Committee seek to do away with the aggregate limit on how much an individual can donate directly to candidates and parties.
Regarding the flack that Barack Obama took for his secretive golf weekend with Tiger Woods, Rosa Brooks, Obama's former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, rationalized the president's action as follows: "I think that we should be reporting on the sickening influence of money in politics, but I also think that is, unfortunately, the world we live in. If you are a successful national level politician, you can't afford to hang out with people who aren't gonna give you money, and our Supreme Court has helped make that possible, has helped make that the situation we're in right now." And this is before a decision in McCutcheon.
Income Redistribution: Federal Spending Up, and So Is Poverty
We finally found an instance in which Obama administration numbers add up. Unfortunately, we mean it literally -- they really add UP. In 2009 -- or, as we call it, the Early Dark Ages -- newly elected Barack Obama claimed that his $800 billion stimulus would reduce the number of Americans living in poverty by two million. Specifically, he promised his plan would "help poor and working Americans pull themselves into the middle class in a way we haven't seen in nearly 50 years." Besides being dead wrong on that account, in the first two years of Obama's presidency, the number of Americans living in poverty rose by 2.6 million. According to the Census Bureau in 2009, 43.6 million Americans were living below the poverty line. Jump ahead to 2011 and the number climbs to 46.2 million.
And that's not all. During the same period, the number of Americans on food stamps rose from 31.9 million to more than 47.6 million, which, as CNS News points out, represents a 49.3 percent increase and brings the number of food-stamp recipients in the U.S. to more than the entire population of Spain.
In many cases, numbers "adding up" is a good thing, but when they add up to nearly 50 million Americans living in poverty under this administration, there's nothing good about that.
Environmentalists Fight Green Energy
There are some people you just can't please, and radical environmentalists are among them. Last October, we alerted you to the Obama administration's go-ahead for solar energy development on 285,000 acres of federal land in six states. The Department of the Interior even promised to help out with the infrastructure to bring the electricity to market. We knew it was a boondoggle for several reasons, but at least on one level the project makes sense because the sun often shines in the desert.
Yet these projects take a lot of space, and the 11 projects approved thus far cover from 516 to 7,025 acres apiece. (A square mile is 640 acres.) Environmentalist groups object that these solar panels will permanently alter the ecosystem of this vast acreage, because the panels would shade the desert flora.
Thus, three environmentalist groups are suing the government for failing to consider what they term "damaged lands" for these projects. Calling the government's effort a bid to "turn multiple-use public lands into industrial zones," the trio of groups contend that solar energy grids belong on "rooftops, parking lots, already-developed areas, and on degraded sites, not on public lands."
We can think of a fine energy-production use for that land. Oil and natural gas wells and associated infrastructure don't take up a lot of space, and they still let the sun shine in.
Immigration Front: On the 'Pathway' to Nowhere
Say this about Barack Obama: He certainly knows how to outmaneuver his opposition. For example, billed as a "bipartisan solution to the immigration problem," the plan of the so-called "Gang of Eight" -- the four-Republican, four-Democrat Senate immigration panel -- was preempted by Mr. Community Organizer himself, who now has a plan of his own. Using his always deferential mainstream media to "leak" the plan, he put the wheels in motion for what soon will be a massive reverse-psychology play on the American public.
The strategy goes like this: "Leak" a plan that has pretty much all the mainstay trappings of the Gang of Eight plan, only add a few red-herring features so that GOP senators in the group can decry the plan as "compleeetly different." Then say the "leaked" plan was never supposed to see the light of day, that it was just a "backup plan" in case Congress refused to act on such a critical issue. Meanwhile, the original, "bipartisan" bad plan now looks like a relatively good deal, and the public buys it over the alternative. That, in a nutshell, was this week's series of dog-and-pony kabuki acts.
The rotten substance at the core of both plans is identical, however: complete and instant amnesty (billed innocuously as "a pathway to citizenship") for the 11 to 20 million illegal aliens residing in the U.S. (the exact number is a moving target, for obvious reasons). Other elements include nominal border security improvement through the hiring of more border patrol personnel and tighter requirements for employers to screen for immigration status. Both plans also favor millions of illegal aliens over those resident aliens and would-be U.S. citizens whose first act in the U.S. wasn't breaking its laws.
For the Empty-Chair-in-Chief, this is a standard win-win scenario straight from the Saul Alinsky playbook. If either plan passes, Obama gets credit for passing the bill on his watch, and Democrats enjoy long-term benefits from newly minted Hispanic voters. If the plan fails, the president will tar-and-feather Republicans in the 2014 mid-term elections as baby-seal clubbers who torpedoed everything by refusing to work in a "bipartisan manner" on immigration reform. Either way, Republicans lose -- sound familiar?
Warfront With Jihadistan: Droning On
While the use of armed drones against overseas targets, including American citizens who have taken up arms against the U.S., made headlines recently, the debate over the use of drones in the U.S. is now starting to garner some attention. Despite growing concerns about invasions of privacy from all levels of government, federal authorities have increased drone surveillance for law enforcement and other uses in U.S. airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said last Friday it has issued over 1,400 permits for domestic drone operations since 2007, far more than previously disclosed. Some 327 of those permits are still active. Operators of the drones, which range in size from a model airplane to large unarmed Predators, include state and local law enforcement, universities, state transportation departments and at least seven federal agencies. The FAA, which has a congressional deadline of September 2015 to open the nation's airspace to even more drone traffic, has estimated over 10,000 drones could be aloft by 2020, all armed with the latest micro-technology sensors.
Last Friday, a House subcommittee asked officials from the FAA, NASA and the Government Accountability Office about the progress the FAA is making with the congressional mandate. Unfortunately, it looks like technology is outrunning government. During the hearing, Rep. Dan Maffei (D-NY) asked about privacy concerns, saying, "The chairman and I both have expressed concerns about privacy and civil liberties. Who is responsible for regulating these issues such as privacy concerns?" Gerald L. Dillingham, director for Civil Aviation Issues at GAO, replied, "[W]e looked into this, and I think at best we can say is it's unknown at this point." Not exactly a confidence building answer.
As for the Obama regime's take on drone use, Obama himself said, "The rules outside of the United States are going to be different than the rules inside the United States. In part because our capacity to capture a terrorist inside the United States are [sic] very different than in the foothills or mountains of Afghanistan or Pakistan." All of which sounds reasonable at first blush, but which actually leaves gaping loopholes. Who determines these rules, and who can change them? The president? Why not make a blanket statement or, better yet, a law that says flat-out that the use of armed drones in American airspace will never be allowed? These are troubling questions, made all the more so when people like Nancy Pelosi, when asked if the White House should acknowledge when it targets a U.S. citizen in a drone strike, responded, "Maybe. It just depends. ... People just want to be protected." Imagine the reaction from the Left if a Bush administration official had said that.
Hagel: The Hits Just Keep Coming
If Joe Biden didn't already have the job of Barack Obama's chief life insurance policy, the gaffe-tastic Chuck Hagel might be the next best bet. As the perceived inevitability of his confirmation as secretary of defense draws closer, the former RINO senator from Nebraska continues to see more of his alleged past statements unearthed.
The rub is that many of the sources that have quoted Hagel as saying that the State Department is "controlled by Israel," or that America is acting like a "schoolyard bully" in the Middle East gleaned their information from second-hand sources in events that were either closed to the press or garnered little interest at the time. During his Senate confirmation hearing Hagel denied making many of the statements.
However, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) did have a chat with Hagel about using the term "Jewish lobby" and explained why that was a hurtful double standard. "[H]e almost had tears in his eyes when he understood," Schumer said. Hagel was just showing his softer side. No wonder 15 GOP senators sent a letter to Obama asking him to withdraw Hagel's nomination, even if it is too little too late -- Hagel now has the votes necessary for confirmation.
Frontiers of Science: Study of the Brain
The White House released details on a new science project set to launch as early as next month. A conglomerate of government and private agencies will begin a new decade-long study on the human brain, seeking to follow the footsteps of the Human Genome Project, which ran from 1990-2003. Researchers created a highly detailed genetic map of the human body; now they're looking to build a map of the human brain.
As expected, however, this study comes with a price -- likely more than the $3.8 billion its predecessor cost. High prices are to be expected in any type of government "investment." But like all ideas lauded by the Community Organizer in Chief, Obama sees this project as "job creation" and will call on the federal government to provide the necessary funding in his budget proposal. "Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation," the president declared in his SOTU address, and he now claims "every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 dollars to our economy." Of course, he's made similar fact-free statements about numerous other government boondoggles.
On the other hand, we think the real objectives are clear. "The ultimate goal will be to figure out how to prevent the brain from being overtaken by any number of diseases while totally suppressing any impulses to vote Republican," quipped blogger Doug Powers. All kidding aside, we're all for medical research. What we're not for is unnecessary federal spending that will just add to our already staggering deficit. Here's hoping our elected officials get a brain.
Village Academic Curriculum: 'Let's Move' Turns Three
We thought Michelle Obama had quietly let her "Let's Move" initiative fall by the wayside, but the first lady's program to combat childhood obesity is still her pet project. Indeed, the White House this week said that a 30-year trend of childhood obesity is reversing, and it's all thanks to Michelle's program. Just like that, Big Government saved our children from the Biggest Losers. Predictably, the White House provided no data to back up the claims.
The first lady is thus launching a nationwide tour with Big Bird to celebrate the third anniversary of "Let's Move." It's mere coincidence, of course, that this appears to be a rebuttal to Mitt Romney, who mentioned cutting federal funding for Big Bird and PBS in one of the presidential debates. There's nothing wrong with Big Bird telling kids to eat right and exercise, but the White House is the wrong vehicle.
When it comes to advice on firearms, Joe Biden is sure to fire off a few errant rounds. Lately, he's really been on a shotgun kick, too, telling everyone who'll listen that they don't need an AR-15 for self-defense. "It's harder to aim," he said, "it's harder to use, and, in fact, you don't need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun! Buy a shotgun!" Is he secretly receiving commissions for shotgun sales?
Funnier still, he repeated some bad advice he gave his wife: "I said, 'Jill, if there's ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out and put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house.'" The problem is, that's illegal in Delaware. Besides, we think his wife would be better off just holding up a picture of Barack "Skeeter" Obama with his shotgun. It'd be awfully hard for crooks to rob the house while they're doubled over with laughter.
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team