Political Coercion in the Windy City

Several sources are reporting that Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel penned a letter to the CEOs of Bank of America and TD Bank. The letter encourages the banks to stop providing banking services to gun manufacturers unless they begin supporting government gun control measures.

Where do we begin?

First, guns are constitutionally protected. So for an elected official, a mayor of one of America’s major cities, to be engaging in this behavior goes beyond the pale. A reasonable question is why would Emanuel want the banks to stop providing services only if manufacturers refuse to support government gun control proposals? Why not just encourage the banks to shut off services to gun manufacturers until they stop production and sale of weapons to any entity other than government agencies?

We’ll tell you why. Because the mayor knows that what he’s doing is wrong. Guns are legal to manufacture and sell to individuals, and the process already requires a background check to search for previous violent criminal behavior that would disqualify a person from owning a gun. But he knows that as a constitutionally protected right, he can’t stop the manufacture and sale of weapons to individuals. At least, not without getting individuals to willingly give up their rights. Rather than expend political capital on seeking a gun ban, Emanuel employs a Machiavellian strategy of trying to get the banks to willingly apply pressure to coerce gun manufacturers to stop selling their products (legally!) to civilians.

Why Emanuel? Why Chicago’s mayor? As it turns out, Illinois (not Chicago) has four gun manufacturers based within the state borders: ArmaLite, Lewis Machine and Tool of Milan, Rock River Arms of Colona, and Springfield Armory of Geneseo.

We assume Emanuel, like most other politicians, has an agenda of securing a political future rather than actually fixing problems. Let’s assume the banks give in and gun manufacturers are brought to their knees and agree to stop selling their products to civilians. This would play well in a variety of political theaters: an Illinois governorship, a senatorial campaign, perhaps even a White House run in 2016 (note other politicians with presidential aspirations include the governors of Maryland and New York, both of whom recently launched anti-gun rhetoric at a screech-level decibel).

But voluntarily giving the government what it wants is far easier than passing a law, or, worse yet, the government taking what it wants by force.

Assuming Emanuel were successful in his bid to politically terrorize gun manufacturers, and assuming other banks didn’t fill the void (perhaps not wanting to become political targets themselves), it would be easier to achieve a goal of making weapons unavailable to the public.

It would also be easier if gun manufacturers willingly adopted “gun control” by not making their products available to non-government customers.

And it would be far easier to get people to accept government “gun control” on their own and voluntarily turn in their weapons rather than deal with such pesky things as constitutional rights and trying to amend the Constitution.

We hope Bank of America and TD Bank’s answer is a resounding, “NO!” Attempting to coerce private banks to kiss the mayor’s ring and implement “gun control” via back door and under-the-table tactics is disgraceful. Chicago’s mayor has disgraced himself and the city he represents. But he’ll likely not be held accountable for such behavior.

We hope gun manufacturers understand the role they play in the private lives of citizens. They provide a tool that is used in sports, hunting, and most importantly, self-defense. It is legal. It is constitutionally protected. And if the mayor should come calling hoping that they will willingly stop selling a legal product to a law-abiding public, we hope that answer is also a resounding, “NO!”

And lastly, if the mayor should come to law-abiding citizens, asking them to turn in their lawfully purchased and owned weapons, we hope the answer they give is a clear and resounding, “NO!”

It’s far easier for the government to take away its citizens’ freedoms with a willing and cooperative public. But the time has come when We the People must put our foot down and say, “NO!”

No, you can’t take away our freedom and our rights.

No, you can’t coerce us to give them up willingly.

No, you cannot come to the back door attempting to sell what you would dare not sell at the front door.

Forging Freedom Anthology Deadline Extended!

We decided to extend our anthology deadline from 1/31 to 2/18 to allow some additional time for submissions from newly identified writer markets.  All you procrastinators officially have a few extra weeks to turn in your submissions!

All types of stories still welcome (e.g., fiction, nonfiction and fictionalized true stories), but we’re particularly interested in non-fiction accounts.  See our submission guidelines for the complete requirements.

Indi-what-ualism? An Analysis of the 2013 Inaugural Address

not for the weak of heart (or mind!) a journey into how the president used language in his inaugural address to diminish the individual and aggrandize “collectivism” and government action.

The President’s 2013 inaugural address was written in such a way as to gloss over the President’s true agenda and make him seem as if he is bound by the same rules that bind the rest of us. His speech would try to make us believe that the bloated government is in need of further bloating—and all for the greater good. It is a deceptive speech in the most dangerous way. Here, there is no obvious, Orwellian language. There is no mention of dictators or dissenters being vaporized in their sleep or Ministries of Truth that torture citizens into spiritual submission. There is nothing that would stir the average citizen to concern. No, Mr. Obama’s language is far more dangerous. His language, the same language that won him the 2008 election, is the euphemistic language of nonspecific hope—of ideas so vague they cannot readily be argued against, so vague that they allow audiences to project meaning onto them regardless of the President’s true meaning. His language is disarming in the same way skinny actors smile during fast food commercials. In both cases, the feeling the audience is left with is a positive one, and the unspecified and unfounded optimism leaves one unwilling to question the fatty truth behind the message.

In the very first line of his speech, the President uses the day’s occasion to commemorate “the enduring strength of our Constitution.” President wants his audience to make is that the Constitution is being followed, and his sentence presumes it is true without allowing argument. In this one phrase, he dismisses all valid concern that the Federal government’s power is being pushed to (and beyond) its Constitutional boundaries. His phrasing allows for no such speculation.

The very first sentence also begins use of the prominent pronoun he employs for the entire speech, “we.” Using this pronoun, he is not only rhetorically uniting the American people; he is including himself within that fictional unity. He begins with statements difficult to contradict. Yes, we are bearing witness to a peaceful transition of power from one Obama administration to the next. Yes, we are affirming the promise of a democracy in which elections are held and followed peacefully. Yes, we like the fact that we are bound by the ideas within the Constitution. He even throws in the phrase “color of our skin” as a nod to Martin Luther King, Jr. Who can argue with any of that?

Pulling us in with these large, hopeful ideas, quoting our Constitution, and including himself in the collective “we” of the nation, Mr. Obama has disarmed the audience.

Then, he moves into his agenda. But he does so slowly, the way one would turn up the water temperature against a captive frog—so that he won’t realize he is about to boil to death. Like the victimized frog, we all sit and listen, unaware of the inevitable dangers we face and the ever increasing temperature of the pot of water in which we all sit.

In saying that we “continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words [of the Constitution] with the realities of our time,” the President implies that there is something wrong with our nation.

No American will argue that our nation is perfect, but the implication he begins in that sentence continues into the next few paragraphs, eventually implying that our nation needs help the same way it needed help to free the slaves. He is sure to use the phrase “move forward” when describing the nation’s end to slavery. In this implied analogy, he is suggesting that anyone who is against slavery must also be in favor of “moving forward,” which just happens to be his campaign slogan. He does not praise America for being the freest nation on earth; he dwells on the problems still faced by the nation, problems that would pale in comparison to many other countries who face challenges in basic human rights.

Continuing his motif of “we,” the President begins a series of sentences beginning with the word “together.” For example, he writes, “Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.” By using this grammatical structure, he is essentially putting thoughts in the minds of his audience. “Together, we discovered” implies that all Americans reached the same conclusion, in this case, that government is necessary to protect people from evil businesses. Again, the innocuous nature of his phrasing is meant to convince the average listener that his conclusion is valid, and one that is agreed upon by all. He does not open the issue to other possibilities, such as the fact that government regulations added significantly to the recent mortgage and housing crisis by interfering with self-policing market consequences of poor decision making by mortgage companies.  Grammatically, he never allowed that thought to enter the minds of his audience.

He interrupts his list of things we have discovered “together” (which include the need for government to build roads and schools—again, never opening to the option of proven charter schools or private roads) with a paragraph acknowledging distrust of government. This paragraph is conveniently placed just at the point in the speech where someone skeptical of big government might become—well, skeptical of his speech. He includes in this paragraph, though, a condition: “nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.” The word “alone” is a qualifier that subtly suggests that though government isn’t the only solution to problems, it is a required component—perhaps the major component—in problem-solving. In other words, he’s conceding that perhaps the private sector or individual brainpower is a small part of the solution to our ills, rather than conceding that government is a small part necessary only to supplement the small number of duties the private sector and individuals cannot do alone.

Indeed, the one conciliatory paragraph is followed by a loud “But” when he says, “But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.” In fact, his speech is alarmingly full of suggestions that “we” as a “collective” are necessary to face the future. Again, it sounds innocuous. It rings of family, of parents looking after children, an admittedly comforting idea. But once again, it disarms the audience, encouraging them to accept the premise that government knows best.

Once again, he shies away from being overly-aggressive in his suggestions about collectivism by adding two paragraphs with inspiring language summarizing many of America’s past accomplishments. He is sure to mention that collectively, we fought the evils of fascism and communism, two of the types of government his opponents strongly contest. His language, once again inspirational without discussing specifics, disarms the audience to any sense of aggression. But throughout these inspirational paragraphs, the President is sure to reiterate that “we are made for this moment, and we will seize it—so long as we seize it together.” Together being the key word. And indeed, he adds gentle negatives, stressing his belief that “No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need” or “build all the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs.” He seems to have little faith in individual man, forgetting that individual men have changed the face of the world, from Andrew Carnegie to Steve Jobs—men whose leadership and individual genius provided jobs and an improved way of life for nearly everyone.

Again, he throws a bone to his opponents when he suggests that we (once again “we”—he is again putting thoughts in the audience’s head) “understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time” and that we must “remake our government.” However, in the very next major paragraph he is uncharacteristically specific in praising programs that his opponents believe are harming this country: “The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”

He does not mention that these are the very programs that are bankrupting this country, that these programs are riddled with fraud and unfunded liabilities, that they are harming the future of this country and leaving future generations with a terrible debt. But he makes no mention of this. Rather, he continues with the innocuous “we,” encouraging the audience to buy into the collective thought that these programs are there for the common good of all.

While ignoring the crippling debt his beloved programs are racking up, he is quick to suggest that we must “respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.” He mentions nothing of failing clean-energy scandals like Solyndra, SunPower, First Solar, and other companies that failed, wasting taxpayer money by the billions of dollars. He does not mention the fact that, to deal with the expense of high wage and union demands, Americans look to China to produce goods. He does not mention the fact that Chinese factories do not conform to the same environmental standards as American factories, and that regardless of what America does to help the environment, all our efforts are but a drop in the bucket when countries like China are harming the environment in much more malignant ways. He fails to mention that energy policies meant to help the environment only prove to punish America economically by making our goods too expensive to produce, encouraging increased production in environmentally-harmful countries like China. But instead of addressing the complexities of these issues, he uses gentle language, beginning his paragraphs in this section with “we, the people,” channeling all the phrase’s patriotic undertones. And please, won’t someone think of the children? Rather than encouraging his audience to question policies and make smarter decisions, the President simply appeals to America’s sense of patriotism, hoping the strong emotion of national pride will circumvent a rational examination of the issues at hand.

His nonspecific language continues when he says, “We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.” He neglects to mention that he, as President for the last four years, is partly responsible for the “perpetual war,” but he quickly moves away from that issue, dissolving into patriotic language that praises those who have served and asks us, in a very nonspecific but somehow patriotic and inspirational way, to “carry those lessons [of those who fought for eventual peace] into this time as well.”

After some nonspecific and pleasing language about promoting peace between America and the rest of the world, he hints ever so mildly at the idea of social justice, saying, “we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.” This statement returns to his beliefs about collective versus individual concerns. He seems more concerned with finding and righting the injustices of the world, rather than helping individuals succeed. He seems to forget that when an individual like Steve Jobs succeeds, jobs are created. When an individual like John Rockefeller succeeds, the quality of life improves for everyone, as the common man is now able to enjoy new energy sources and all the conveniences that follow. But the President doesn’t see the benefits of this—that when a man like Rockefeller becomes filthy rich, the quality of life improves for everyone. He seems to be stuck on the fact that the disparity between Rockefeller and the common man is too large. It seems that he, as Margaret Thatcher once noted of her opponents, would be happier if everyone’s standard of living were lowered, so long as it meant the disparity between rich and poor were narrowed. That a shared despondent misery is somehow preferable to an unequally divided prosperity.

Solidifying this concern are three allusions he includes at the end of his speech. For a speech filled with such nonspecific language, these three references stand out. Seneca Falls references a convention held for women’s rights; Selma refers to an important protest in the Civil Rights movement; Stonewall refers to protests and riots among the gay community in pursuit of rights. Again, he dwells specifically on groups that are or have been denied equal rights. He dwells on the negatives rather than suggesting, perhaps, that gay rights have been denied largely because of overly-oppressive government legislation. He does not suggest that perhaps government is the problem, standing in the way of people’s rights; he implies instead that government is the solution. There is an inherent danger when the government gets to decide what is right. Hitler tried his hand at becoming a moral policeman. We all know how that worked out. Yet the President completely ignores this in his speech, implying instead that the government of this country knows best and is there to help all the oppressed groups the “we” choose to recognize.

But who gets to decide what is “right” and what is “wrong”? I certainly don’t want that decision to fall into the hands of a government bureaucrat. But the President discourages this way of thinking by using the adjective “our.” “Our generation’s task” and “our journey” pervade the next paragraph. He is sure to sprinkle in references to locations that have recently experienced hardship: Detroit, Appalachia, and, of course, Newtown, Ct. He ends the paragraph with the thought that people from these locations must know “that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.” “Always safe from harm” is impossible. Sure, it sounds good. It’s something a parent would whisper to a child while tucking him in at night. But it simply isn’t realistic. Even under the best circumstances, no one is ever “always safe from harm.” A crazy person can instigate a school shooting at any minute. A crazy person could take a textbook and bludgeon a child to death. Sometimes, crazy people capture commercial airplanes and crash them into buildings. Crazy, angry people exist in this world, and the President’s speech seems to ignore that fact, promising, instead, a quixotic world that simply can never be achieved, and certainly not by government.

Moving into the conclusion of his speech, the President once again conjures the patriotic phrasing of our founding fathers, “Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” But he is careful to add the stipulation that “it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way” and that “progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time—but it does require us to act in our time.” Once again, his language choices gently suggest to his opponents that he, as the government, will decide what liberty means. His words suggest that “progress” demands that the government act without settling the debate of the proper role of government, which, in the eyes of this President, just isn’t an important debate.

His next paragraph repeats the idea that “we must act,” and act without delay. Further stressing his belief in government-as-the-solution is his statement that “it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.” This references people gathered for future presidential inaugurations—and the government being inducted into power—rather than individuals coming up with solutions in the same way unique and innovative thoughts founded this nation.

The President ends his speech by referring to his oath as “not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty” and insisting that his words “are the words of citizens.” “You and I,” he reiterates, “as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.” Once again, he muddies the water by pretending that he operates on the same level as the average citizen. He seems to forget once again the privileges he enjoys—the ease with which he can secure a stellar, private education for his daughters, the security he enjoys knowing his family is protected around-the-clock by armed guards, the peace of mind he enjoys knowing that even after his final term is served, he will enjoy secret service protection and a salary for the rest of his days.

You and I, citizens, do not enjoy those reassurances. You and I, citizens, must worry about the safety of our children in schools because teachers are denied the right to carry a gun in self defense. You and I, citizens, must endure the rising costs of “clean energy” policies that burden American companies to the point of non-competitiveness. You and I, citizens, are being asked to blindly trust the government to make decision about what is right and what is wrong, what causes to fight for and what rights to infringe upon. You and I, citizens, are different from Presidents and Congressmen and politicians and lobbyists. You and I, citizens, are the lifeblood of this country. And yet our children are being asked to shoulder the crippling debt of the policies endorsed by this President, a debt ignored by this speech and this administration.

I—yes, I, because I speak for myself and let you, the reader, make up your own mind—will not fall prey to the innocuous and reassuring language of this President. I will hold him accountable for rising debt and intrusive government policies that overstep the bounds that were intended. If it’s true that our philosophy of life stems from our experiences, then this President believes individuals cannot achieve greatness on their own, that it is only through the power of the collective that anyone can aspire to greatness. What, I wonder, happened in his life to make him feel this way? How many people did he depend upon to help get him to where he is today? Is it his reliance on unions to channel the collective power of persuasion to build support for himself? Is it his reliance on powerful but meaningless words delivered by his teleprompter to convince a good deal of the American people that he is fighting for exactly what they believe?

I have a different philosophy. While I acknowledge that many people have helped me reach the successes I have enjoyed today, there is one person in particular I could not have done it without: me. This nation was founded by individuals working on their own merit to achieve individual success. What the President fails to understand is that individual success is mutually-beneficial. If he leaves well enough alone, the private sector—and indeed, man’s drive for individual achievement and fame, and even filthy riches—will make the world more efficient, more convenient, and more economical. And that, without the oppressive, inefficient, and corrupt hand of government, is something that benefits everyone.

PHOTO CREDITS:

“Flock of Sheep” by Joan Campderrós-i-Canas
US Debt Clock
“Bell Tower” (China) by Benjamin Vander Steen
“Beginnings” by Kelly Cookson
“Shackled” by Jason Ilagan

 

In Honor of One of Freedom’s Heroes

Today we celebrate one of Freedom’s Heroes in Martin Luther King. The excerpt below is from one of his sermons (“But If Not”) November 5, 1967–barely 6 months before he would be assassinated in 1968.

You may be 38 years old as I happen to be, and one day some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause–and you refuse to do it because you are afraid; you refuse to do it because you want to live longer; you’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you’re afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you or shoot at you or bomb your house, and so you refuse to take the stand. Well you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90! And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. You died when you refused to stand up for right, you died when you refused to stand up for truth, you died when you refused to stand up for justice…
-Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Link below to the full audio of the sermon. We added a tag to bookmark the spot of the quote above:

To Support and Defend

What are they teaching future military leaders at the United States Military Academy (a.k.a., West Point) these days?  The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point published a paper from Arie Perliger, discussing the violent tendencies of the American political right. Perliger is the director of Terrorism Studies at the center and an Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Sciences.

In his introduction, he divides the “far-right” into three sub-groups, one of which are anti-federalists. Of them, Perliger writes, “They also espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights. Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government.”

Individual freedoms?! Oh no! Anything but that!!!

West Point is of course a military academy. More than that, its prestige makes it one of THE military academies, responsible for training future leaders on the US Army. Its mission statement (from its webpage) is “To educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army.”

A military organization isn’t exactly a place that encourages individual or independent thought.On a battlefield, orders must be followed. Freedoms are more restricted in a military organization. We understand this. But we hope that some part of learning to be an officer in the US military branches includes a discussion of the values and principles of being a free people.

The US Constitution is a document about establishing limits for the national government. The Bill of Rights establishes limits of the federal government with respect to its citizens. The rest establishes limits for the federal government with respect to the state governments and the balance of power between the three branches of the federal government.

All members of the US military must swear or affirm an oath of allegiance before assuming duty. The oath is not loyalty to the federal government, not even to the President of the United States. The oath each military members swears is to “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…”

So it’s our sincere hope that West Point’s educators would invest some time teaching their cadets about the principles and values that the US Constitution establishes.

They might also teach their cadets about the reasons that America fought a war to separate ourselves from Great Britain in the first place. The Declaration of Independence eloquently states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…

So if it seams that an “anti-federalist” believes the federal government has taken too much power and tramples the rights of the states and individual citizens and is expressing that concern via “civil activism” toward the end of self-government or individual freedoms, that’s the point.

We do not encourage violence in our quest to raise awareness of freedom issues. But we do believe that the federal government has indeed become somewhat tyrannical in its dealings with the states and with individual citizens. But advocating for awareness and greater citizen activism and a belief that individual freedom ought to have a higher value than government or collective freedom doesn’t make us terrorists. It makes us Americans.

Proposal #2 – End the War on Drugs

The federal government has led a national charge against the importation, manufacture, distribution, and consumption of drugs. Over the past four decades, hundreds of billions have been spent to interdict drugs coming from foreign countries, and countless lives have been lost in drug raids and skirmishes with drug cartels and domestic gangs. And the number of Americans who are addicted to drugs as a percentage of the overall population has stubbornly refused to budge despite a huge commitment of resources.

Reason.com recently printed a chart showing that federal and state governments have spent about $1.5 TRILLION dollars over the past 40 years on the “war on drugs.” This figure comes from estimates of law enforcement spending at federal and state levels as well the cost of rehabilitation programs and the bill for keeping drug dealers and consumers alike in prisons.

The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that the population of addicted Americans fluctuates between a band of approximately 1% to 1.5% of the population over the same 40 year period. There is no discernible impact despite the large commitment of resources.

We believe the role of running rehabilitation programs is best left to private individuals and charities who choose to exercise their freedom to run such programs. Many people incorrectly assume that if the government stops performing a “needed” function, that it will just go away and nobody will step in to fill the gap. But if government is determined to play a role in rehabilitation, we think this is a better use for tax dollars than building prisons and training law enforcement to engage in military style tactical operations against drug distribution networks.

We also believe that the private sector, if given the opportunity, would provide a better, safer, cheaper product to the market. Buying beer and liquor is, for the most part, a legal activity in most US counties. Nobody is routinely gunned down over a case of red wine or beer in a “deal gone wrong.” But rewind nearly 100 years in time to the era of federal Prohibition when alcohol was illegal to manufacture and distribute, and this is precisely what happened. We suggest the same dynamic is true of the “war on drugs.”

We believe citizens are responsible adults and need to be accountable for their decisions. If they choose to engage in drug use, this is their choice. We find that distributing drugs would be far safer for all involved if the activity took place in a respectable store front rather than in the shadows and back alleys of communities.

Forging Freedom Anthology Update

Submissions are rolling in! If you’re submitting now, you will likely not receive a response back from us until after submissions close on Jan 31. There’s still time to submit! So if you, someone in your family, a friend, neighbor, coworker has a story about freedom–be it happy, sad, fiction, non-fiction, or something in between–send it in! Here’s a link to our submission guidelines to share!

http://www.freedomforgepress.com/submission-guidelines/

Email your submissions here.

Feinstein’s Attempted Freedom Grab from Lawful Gun Owners

Senator Dianne Feinstein wants to ban “assault weapons.” And she particularly has a problem with rifles able to accept magazines with more than 10 rounds–sensationalizing these as “weapons of war,” “killer weapons,” and “assault weapons.”

You can visit her collection of uploaded videos on her Senate page where she puffs up herself with pride over her role in enacting the 1994 assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. We won’t humor such narcissism by reposting them here.

But we will offer you a different video. This is the same Dianne Feinstein who armed herself with a concealed weapon “that if somebody was going to try to take me out, I was going to take them with me.”

Her proposal would establish a federal firearms registry, subject legal owners to fingerprinting, and ban the manufacture, sale, or transfer of arms that are not to her liking.

As is the case with many laws proposed for political gain rather than effective governance, there’s just one small problem. The vast majority of murders in the United States aren’t committed with “assault rifles.”

The FBI compilation of crime statistics shows just 323 murders committed with rifles in 2011. Granted total firearm-related deaths are much higher (8,583), but Feinstein seems to especially have it out for the “weapons of war” in her news interviews discussing weapons bans.

Assault knives were far more deadly than “assault rifles.” The same FBI crime report lists knives as the weapon used in 1,694 murders 5 times more deadly than “assault rifles.”  Also more pernicious than “assault rifles” are assault hammers, assault lead pipes, assault wrenches, maybe even assault candlesticks, and other such assault weapons used in the game of Clue. These are collected under the heading “other weapons” and number 1,659.But there’s no call to require fingerprinting and registration of such assault weapons at Home Depot or Lowes.

Lastly assault fists and feet were used in 728 murders–twice as deadly as “assault rifles.” Maybe these should also be included in a national weapons registry. But these other objects of war, hate, and murder don’t seem to have the same ire from Feinstein and her other co-conspirators in their sanctimonious charge to grab personal freedoms from law-abiding citizens.

The hypocrisy of many “gun grabbers” is certainly coming to the surface. The Hollywood Hoarde of actors and actresses who made a video demanding action on gun control have all starred in movies glorifying gun violence. We suspect that when these stars are out in public, there’s someone nearby carrying a weapon to defend them. Even President Obama and NBC’s David Gregory, both recently outspoken on the need for gun control, send their children to a private school in Washington DC with–you guessed it–armed guards. Lastly, the Journal News published an interactive map of registered gun owners and permit holders in the New York City suburban area–stupidly giving bad guys an easy-to-access treasure trove of information on where to find undefended homes to rob and where to obtain weapons. Public response wasn’t as good as they anticipated–so they’ve hired armed guards for protection.

In her interview above, Feinstein claims to understand the “sense of helplessness” that others feel and so decided to arm herself when she was personally in danger. We don’t want the senator to be in danger again, but she seems to have forgotten what that sense meant to her a few short years ago.

Our stance is that law-abiding citizens deserve the freedom and the opportunity to do the same.

Enough Debt to Drown the World in Champagne!

Some people’s heads may just still be ringing from ringing in the new year.Here’s a fact that makes our head’s ring:

We calculate that the US Government’s debt of $16 Trillion (rounded down from $16.4 trillion as of 1/2/2012) is enough to have purchased 100 BILLION bottles of Dom Perignon champagne 2003 vintage at a retail price of $159.99 per bottle.

Assuming this order could even be filled, this is enough to provide each of planet earth’s 7 billion inhabitants with 14 bottles and still have 2 billion bottles left over to ring in 2014. If consumed at one sitting, this is enough drinks to wipe out the entire planet’s population of alcohol poisoning.

If you’d rather not poison everybody, then visualize the debt this way. A bottle of Dom Perignon is .75 liters. An olympic-sized swimming pool holds 2.5 million liters (or 660,000 gallons if you prefer). The US Government debt is enough to buy enough top shelf champagne to fill 30,000 olympic-sized swimming pools!

Talk about swimming in debt! We’ll raise a glass to any politician brave enough to propose actual spending cuts and bring fiscal sanity back to the US Government.

 

Photo Credit: Nicholas.Y.F Chen

Freedom Proposal #1

To start the year with the appropriate bang, we propose ending pensions for Congress. Immediately. Being a Member of Congress was not intended to become a way of life, and the idea of a “professional politician” is one that stinks like…well like over-ripened sauerkraut at New Year’s. It’s time we gave professional politicians an incentive to shorten their stays in America’s legislative body, and take some time out of their busy schedules of campaigning, fund raising, and passing bad laws in order to live under the laws that they’ve created.According to the Congressional Research Service, taxpayers are footing pension bills for some 495 retired members of Congress. If you actually want to read up on how Congressional pensions are calculated, good luck. The report we’ve linked you to above takes about 20 pages to go through the various options, permutations, and categories of pension benefits. Of course a pension benefit is impossible to calculate to an exact figure. This depends on each recipients years in office, their salary while there, which retirement system they paid into, and how long they plan to live after leaving office.

As of 2011, the annual estimated bill for these retired Congress critters is some $28,282,440 per year. This is an annual pension payment. By our reckoning it doesn’t include retirement matching funds paid by taxpayers into individual retirement accounts during a member’s term of office (called a “Thrift Savings Plan”), does not include health benefits paid by taxpayers via the Federal Employee Health Benefit plan, and does not include pension death benefits that are paid to surviving spouses of deceased congressmen and senators.  All that to say: the $28.2 million price tag we apply to this proposal is probably a low-ball number.

Eliminating an unnecessary pension expense frees taxpayers from the financial burden of paying congressmen and women for the less than lusterful work they perform. But more importantly, if the idea succeeds in encouraging politicians to leave office before they become too entrenched in the culture of Washington waste, this has the potential to save much more than the sum of the pension checks. Imagine if some questionable laws would be passed if congressmen had to go home and actually live under the laws they passed. Would they still write multi-thousand page laws that leave still more thousands of pages of regulations to be written and imposed on business owners and citizens?

For our first proposal, we estimate a conservative savings of $28,282,440 to the taxpayer. Not a bad way to start the year!

 

Photo Credit: bclinesmith