Wednesday Digest

Oct. 2, 2013

THE FOUNDATION

“We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.” –Thomas Jefferson

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS

The Lights Are Off, but Somebody’s Home

Parts of the federal government ceased functioning at full throttle Monday at midnight, leaving Congress considering what to do next. Republicans are shifting strategy now that the baseline has changed – shutdown is now reality. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who along with Ted Cruz led the Senate effort to defund ObamaCare, called for “ending the shutdown step by step” so that important government functions like the military don’t “get caught up in this ObamaCare fight.”

House Republicans are working on such a piecemeal approach to fund the government through mid-December, as well as requesting a conference committee to hammer out differences. House leadership sought to pass several bills funding portions of the government under a suspension of the rules, which would require a two-thirds majority, but the 20-30 Democrats who joined Republicans on each bill weren’t enough.

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, are offering, well, nothing. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) refuses to consider anything but a “clean” Continuing Resolution – one that funds the government at current levels with no other strings attached. “We will not go to conference with a gun to our head,” Reid said. Indeed, the Senate rejected the conference proposal along party lines. As for funding in smaller parts, Reid dismissed it as “just another wacky idea from the Tea Party-driven Republicans.”

For his part, Barack Obama insists that ObamaCare “is settled, and it is here to stay.” He warned Republicans, “You can’t shut it down.” He also hammered the “Republican shutdown … over an ideological crusade,” declared that he “shouldn’t have to offer anything,” and threatened to veto any piecemeal funding. Well, it takes two to tango.

Finally, it’s worth noting that even after the shutdown, “essential” services remained: Airports are open, the military is on duty and Social Security checks are going out. And when things like the World War II Memorial are closed, veterans didn’t let that stop them. On the other hand, Obama is postponing his trip to Asia and – you might want to sit down for this – updates to the first lady’s Twitter account “will be limited.”

As for the non-essential services, the Washington Examiner’s Mark Tapscott asks, “If these career civil service employees aren’t doing essential work in government, why are the American people spending more than $100 billion annually to pay them? That’s precisely the kind of question that a government with a $17 trillion national debt literally cannot afford not to ask.”

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‘The Health Insurance Marketplace Is Open!’

Yesterday was the Grand Opening of the ObamaCare exchanges at Healthcare.gov. Barack Obama tempered the overwhelming enthusiasm, saying, “In the first week, first month, first three months, I would suspect that there will be glitches.” That’s putting it mildly.

Read more and comment here.

ECONOMY

Around the Nation: Detroit Gets Another Bailout

Barack Obama may not believe in America’s exceptionalism, but he apparently believes in Detroit’s. His administration last week cited “exceptional” circumstances as grounds for doling out $320 million to the already bankrupt city. Recall that Detroit declared bankruptcy in July, just months after Obama famously claimed that he “refused” to let the city go bankrupt. (Granted, he was speaking of the auto industry, but the juxtaposition was poetic.) When the sputtering Motor City finally stalled, the White House announced that “leaders on the ground in Michigan and the city’s creditors … must find a solution to Detroit’s serious financial challenge.” Fast-forward to the present and “leaders on the ground” finding solutions has translated into “taxpayer dollars funneling to the city.”

The bailout, which comes via a government already nearly $17 trillion dollars in debt and currently not even fully operational, includes $140 million for transportation improvements, $30 million for public safety, and $150 million to demolish old properties and support redevelopment. Yet, while Obama lets a favorite leftist son dip his hand in federal taxpayer pockets, others are crying foul. For example, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) last week asked the president why Stockton, California, which declared bankruptcy in 2012, isn’t getting “comparable assistance.” He was met with silence. Bottom line, the president and his cronies are willing to let the government shut down, but heaven forbid the Democrat utopia of Detroit goes under.

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NATIONAL SECURITY

Finding Balance With the NSA

The big news this week in Spookville is that the National Security Agency (NSA) – one of the many three-letter covert organizations comprising the “loose collection of federal agencies and parts of agencies that make up the Intelligence Community,” as the 9/11 Commission phrased it – may have played a key role in – gasp! – a “U.S. assassination program.” Well of course it has. Why wouldn’t one of the functions of an effective intelligence program be to identify, locate and track “assassination” targets so that they can be dispatched with extreme prejudice?

Of course, one must be careful not to overplay the term “assassination.” At first blush it might be easy, for instance, to equate that term with rogue, international, criminal acts. But this is not necessarily the case, by any means. To be blunt, many unlawful enemy combatants against the U.S. are more than worthy of “assassination” … at the very least. Sophisticated intelligence programs like those of the NSA help to clear the world’s well of pond scum like those who committed the horror of 9/11.

At the same time, we share the concerns of those who worry that the NSA has become too powerful and too unaccountable. This is the age-old problem of balancing liberty and security. Our concern is not abated when either of two primary hidden-agenda forces – the media and Congress – interjects itself into such a debate, as both have, just this week. The former is responsible for the synthetic outrage accompanying the “revelation” that intelligence operations might actually play a role in combat operations. The latter has decided that justifiable public outrage over NSA access to domestic phone call data warrants the congressional job-security-enhancing measure of severely curtailing NSA operations, independent of ample sworn testimony to the contrary of such a measure.

For our part, we’re all for ensuring that the NSA operates within its lane – especially while operating under the aegis of the current Executive Branch clown act. But given Congress’ anti-Midas Touch – that is, the ability to turn everything it touches to crap – we are exceedingly leery of any national-security-related “fix” it proposes, especially when backed wholeheartedly as it is by the treason-lobby, a.k.a. Democrats. Maybe in this instance, leaving bad-enough alone is the better answer.

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CULTURE

Second Amendment: Gun Crime Is Way Down

Given the recent clamoring from Barack Obama and his cadres on gun violence, you would think violent crime levels were astronomical relative to past decades. Far from it. In fact, the latest statistics from the FBI reveal a substantial decline. Unsurprisingly, the mainstream media and this administration dedicated to gun confiscation have greeted the encouraging news with deafening silence.

With gun ownership in American at an all-time high, violent crime, according to the FBI’s most recent national crime report, is at its lowest level in more than four decades. The rate of homicides in which murderers use guns has decreased almost 50%, from a high of 6.62 per 100,000 to 3.27 in 2012.

But why are mass shootings rising, you ask? A recent Wall Street Journal report helps explain one of the primary reasons: “One theory is the proliferation of public areas where guns are outlawed. ‘Since 1950, almost every single public shooting in the United States in which more than three people have been killed has taken place in what are commonly known as "gun-free zones,”’ reports the Washington Examiner. Recent shootings at schools and movie theaters illustrate this point. The Navy Yard shooting is another example. A policy implemented 20 years ago effectively banned people other than security guards from carrying guns on military bases. The shooters go where it’s less likely that someone will fire back.“

Imagine that: It’s leftist policies that are behind the overall rise. The Left’s fantasy "gun-free zones” effectively encourage perpetrators to pick the point of least resistance.

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BRIEF OPINION

For the Record

National Review’s Avik Roy: “The government takeover of our health-care system took place in 1965, when LBJ signed into law the amendments to the Social Security Act that created Medicare and Medicaid. Obamacare is simply the cherry on top. … The conservative slogan on Obamacare has been ‘repeal and replace.’ But that slogan has been an empty one on two fronts. Conservatives are not even close to being united on what ought to replace Obamacare. Ted Cruz spent 21 hours lambasting Obamacare on the Senate floor without spending any time on this important topic. Even more importantly, Obamacare is only one part – and not even the largest part – of our health-care leviathan. Just because Obamacare is our youngest entitlement doesn’t mean that we should ignore the older and much larger ones, such as Medicare and Medicaid. And yet, in terms of our priorities and our rhetoric, we have.”

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Re: The Left

Columnist Burt Prelutsky: “Obama first reversed course and said he was only going to fire a shot across [Syrian president Bashar] Assad’s bow. Then, instead of firing the shot, he decided he needed an okay from Congress, the very group of ‘obstructionists’ he’d been verbally flaying for the past three years. But as urgent as the need to take action had been on Friday, on Saturday, Obama said it could wait another nine days until the obstructionists returned from vacation. … On Sunday, John Kerry … told Chris Wallace that he thought there was no danger in delaying action for as long as it takes to unite 535 members of Congress and 315 million Americans. But, Wallace asked, what if Congress doesn’t approve action and all those Americans continue to oppose getting involved in another Middle East mess? Kerry scoffed at the very notion. I can see his point. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that most people thought ObamaCare was an unmitigated disaster, and look how popular it is now. Okay, bad example.”

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Faith and Family

Columnist Dennis Prager: “CNN conducted an interview with Richard Dawkins, the British biologist most widely known for his polemics against religion and on behalf of atheism. Asked ‘whether an absence of religion would leave us without a moral compass,’ Dawkins responded: ‘The very idea that we get a moral compass from religion is horrible.’ … To put this as clearly as possible: If there is no God who says, ‘Do not murder,’ murder is not wrong. Many people or societies may agree that it is wrong. But so what? Morality does not derive from the opinion of the masses. If it did, then apartheid was right; murdering Jews in Nazi Germany was right; the history of slavery throughout the world was right; and clitoridectomies and honor killings are right in various Muslims societies. … My reason says murder is wrong, just as Dawkins’s reason does. But, again, so what? The pre-Christian Germanic tribes of Europe regarded the Church’s teaching that murder was wrong as preposterous. … When self-interest and reason collide, reason usually loses. … [P]ernicious nonsense [is behind the idea] that God is not only unnecessary for a moral world, but is detrimental to one.”

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For more, visit The Right Opinion.

CHRONICLE QUOTES

Insight

20th century philosopher Jean-Francois Revel (1924-2006): “Democracy tends to ignore, even deny, threats to its existence because it loathes doing what is needed to counter them. It awakens only when the danger becomes deadly, imminent, evident. By then, either there is too little time left for it to save itself, or the price of survival has become crushingly high.”

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Demo-gogues

Sen. Dick Durbin: “We can work out something, I believe, on the medical device tax. That was one of the proposals from the Republicans. As long as we replace the revenue so that we don’t put a hole in our deficit and respond to this in a responsible fashion. That’s one thing the Republicans want to talk about it. Let’s sit down, and put that on the table.”

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The BIG Lie

Sen. Angus King: “[T]hose people [Republicans trying to hinder ObamaCare] are guilty of murder in my opinion. Some of those people they persuade are going to end up dying because they don’t have health insurance. For people who do that to other people in the name of some obscure political ideology is one of the grossest violations of our humanity I can think of. This absolutely drives me crazy.”

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Village Idiots

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: “Apple, you know, has a few more resources than we have to roll out technology, and a few more people who’ve been working on the system for a while, and no-one is calling on Apple to not sell devices for a year or to, you know, get out of the business because the whole thing is a failure. … Hopefully [consumers will] give us the same slack they give Apple.”

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Braying Jenny

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: “They are anti-government ideologues. It’s the Tea Party shutdown of government.”

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Alpha Jackass

Sen. Chuck Schumer: “Does Speaker Boehner need to engage in something like the ancient practice of sacrifice, this time to the right-wing gods? Do we have to sacrifice the economy and help for millions of middle class people?”

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Dezinformatsia

Radio talk-show “comedian” Chris Paul: “It’s a government shut down / Because our president is brown … Republicans hate Obama so badly / They jeopardize the livelihood of thousands of families! … Obamacare is law, but Boehner keeps hatin’ / Opposin’ health care? That sounds like Satan.”

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Short Cuts

Columnist William Murchison: “The problem is America’s growing acceptance of the delusory propositions that opportunity means someone else’s good luck. That passing the buck is the prelude to receiving bucks galore from other parties. That the government must surely love and care for you, because … well, don’t you watch the President’s speeches?”

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team

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