The Great Christmas Takeover Finale

We last left Santa Claus visiting his wife in jail. Poor Mrs. Claus was imprisoned for distributing felony-quantities of sugar to the elves. Santa was waiting for his nonprofit status to be processed, fighting new EPA regulations, and wondering how in the world he’d be able to save Christmas this year. Santa always comes through, right? Find out in this last and final installment of The Great Christmas Takeover! If you haven’t read the first two parts, you can read Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Ducking Stupidity

I’ve heard over the past week that A&E has violated Phil Robertson’s First Amendment rights by suspending him for his recent comments about homosexuality being a sin.

They didn’t.

The First Amendment stands as a shield between citizens and the government. It does not and should not interfere with private individuals. If you work for a company and in the privacy of your own home take to Twitter, Facebook, and various social media to share with the world how much your employer (by name) sucks, you do not have a right to keep your job. Now we know that Mr. Robertson wasn’t saying anything bad about A&E, so don’t confuse the point we’re making here–the example is to illustrate how the First Amendment protects citizens from the government.

This means that government has no business getting involved in the A&E/Duck Dynasty brouhaha, and people saying “there outta be a law” or “A&E can’t do that” don’t know what they’re talking about.

This says nothing of the fact that A&E has bungled this incident with all the grace of the figurative bull in a china shop. It created a reality TV show—with unparalleled success—out of a Christian family that likes to spend time hunting (with guns even! OH NOES!) in the swamps of Louisiana. It then heard a comment from the family patriarch—who is known for being gruffly honest—that an interest group convinced the network was so offensive as to require immediate action.The network then painstakingly considered the situation for about 15 seconds and then decided to suspend one of the stars of arguably the only show on the network that a sizable audience deemed worth watching..

In our view, the dispute is playing itself out largely the way it should: Phil exercised his free speech rights and shared in an interview what he thought was “a sin” these days in response to an interview question.  Phil’s employer made a decision that such views were not in line with their network’s values, and that they did not want to be tolerant of views that were different from their own.  So they indefinitely suspended him. The show’s fan base is, in turn, holding A&E responsible for its decision, with calls, emails, tweets, messages, threats of boycotts, buying or not buying merchandise, etc. In the end, A&E must decide how it will respond—either to stand behind its original decision, or admit that it made a mistake and reverse its decision.  Either way, it’s hard to believe that the network will make a decision outside of its economic interests.

The only legitimate role for government in this case would be for a civil court to settle any contract disputes that may arise from the incident. No new laws needed. No new regulations needed. No government intervention and no ducking stupidity is needed.

The Great Christmas Takeover (Part 2)

When we last left our heroes, Santa and company were being inundated with orders from the NSA and other US government agencies bent on taking over Christmas. You can read Part 1 here. And now, part 2 of…

Has Santa had enough? Will the paperwork arrive in time? What about the factories being shut down? What nefarious regulations await the jolly old elf? Who will save Christmas? Find out in the third and final installment…read it now!

Budget “Deal” Shows Why You Shouldn’t Trust Politicians to Fix Anything

House Republican Paul Ryan and Senate Democrat Pat Murray proudly emerged from crafting their back-room budget deal. Finally, an end to the dreaded “sequester” budget cuts that were promised to be so intense and so devastating that the sky might literally fall if they were enacted. Finally, an end to the threat of another government shut down when the continuing resolution passed in October expires in mid-January.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor praised Ryan for “the hard work behind trying to get a deal in this divided government we’re in.”

Speaker John Boehner was so angry that conservatives in his caucus weren’t widely supporting the budget deal, he yelled “Are you kidding me?” at one point into a microphone at his press conference earlier today.

That’s funny. We think the question really should be asked of him and those who support the budget “deal” and think that something meaningful has actually been accomplished.  Maybe a better question is “who are you trying to kid?”

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office scores the deficit impact of the laws Congress passes.  They evaluated this budget deal and reported the law would result in about $150 billion in deficit reductions. Over ten years.

Of course Representatives have two-year terms–meaning there will be five elections between now and the end of this projection. Even the Senate will go through nearly two full election cycles of its members during this timeline. What is the chance that the cuts enacted will be left in place? If you need a hint, the budget cuts that went into effect January 2, 2013 lasted until…well until about today, so not even a full year. What’s the likelihood that budget cuts enacted ten years from now actually remain in place?

This is the dishonesty of budget projections. All the budget pain is in the later years of the timeline. But politicians claim to have made “the hard choices” now and done “the hard work” now of getting a deal done today. They’re hoping you don’t notice when the cuts go into effect.

The “hard choice” made in the House today is to make NO change to the projected deficit in 2014. That’s right. Zero change. All changes take place after 2014. And we know 2014 is an election year, meaning in 2015, fresh faces in Congress may alter this budget blueprint at will.

The pie chart below shows the dollar value of deficit cuts in each year of the budget plan.  Yes, 2014, the year when Congress could have actually enacted something that would stick, is zero. As each year passes, the likelihood of the cuts remaining in place drops–so we shaded the chart to reflect lighter pie slices until 2023 when the final slice is a pale white-green color.

Seventy cents of every dollar in proposed cuts won’t take place until after the 5 year mid-point (2019) of the budget plan. We won’t even have the same president by then. The remaining 30 cents in cuts will be realized between 2015 and 2019.

But the size of the cuts themselves are unbelievably small. Sure, politicians will claim to have cut the deficit by $150 billion (…*cough*overtenyears*cough*…)

But what does that mean? Even if every penny that is proposed to be on the budget chopping block remains on the chopping block, the size of the cuts is insignificant.

Over the same 10 year period where Republicans and Democrats are slapping each other on the back over their $150 billion in deficit reductions (…*cough*overtenyears*cough*…) your government is expected to spend some $46.6 TRILLION. Suddenly the $150 billion in reductions (your turn! *cough*overtenyears*cough) is little more than an insignificant rounding error–just 0.3% of funds to be spent.

We colored the area of the rectangle below green in a sea of red to represent the value of the cuts as a percentage of expected spending. You might need to zoom in to find the cuts.

This inability of Congress to address the country’s fiscal woes will lead to economic ruin in the form of crippling tax increases, inflation, and a damaged US Dollar in foreign currency markets. These effects in turn limit the freedom we have to enjoy a fruitful and prosperous lifestyle as we have less disposable income, must pay more for basic goods and services with the money the government was gracious enough not to tax, and an inability to afford goods and services that are not produced here.

All of which begs the question of Speaker Boehner and those who voted for the measure, “Are you kidding us?”

The Great Christmas Takeover (Part 1)

View Part 2 here.

Book Review: Emily Gets Her Gun…But Barack Obama Wants to Take Yours by Emily Miller

Emily Gets Her Gun: But Barack Obama Wants To Take Yours (Regnery Publishing) is the story of Emily Miller’s personal experience and observations in navigating the convoluted, hostile, and even incompetent District of Columbia bureaucracy in order to secure her constitutional right to legally own a firearm in her home of Washington, D.C. The book is definitely worth your time, especially if you value your Second Amendment rights to own firearms.  You’ll learn a lot of “need to know” facts about legal gun ownership and information needed to effectively defend your right to “keep and bear arms” when dealing with political figures and “reasonable gun control” advocates who propose policies that are anything but reasonable.

Emily Miller is a journalist and a resident of Washington, D.C. One day she found herself defenseless as criminals broke into a friend’s home as she was house-sitting. Emily decided to follow the District’s process for purchasing and possessing a legal firearm in Washington, D.C., which turned out to be no small feat. The book is a nonfiction account of her journey (of several months) to navigate the city’s red-tape aimed at making legal handgun possession too difficult for most people to achieve.

The narrative is told in alternating chapters. Miller alternates retelling her personal journey for firearm possession with commentary on recent incidents involving politicians and the media, many of whom seem to be aimed at grabbing the guns of law-abiding Americans. Emily’s writing style is easy to understand—it’s almost as if she’s sitting down with you for a one-on-one chat about her experiences. The speeches, laws, and documents she cites are extensively documented, so it’s easy to do further research on any of the points she makes and references she uses.

As an example, here are some statistics she provides in her book:

  • 1 of 4 registered voters believes stricter gun control laws will reduce firearm-related violence. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans owns a gun. There are also 8 million concealed-carry permit holders in the U.S., according to a Government Accountability Office study released in July 2012. (p. 19)
  • Rank and file law enforcement do not support more gun-control laws. PoliceOne did an extensive survey of 15,000 active and retired law enforcement officers across the country in March 2013. When asked what kind of effect a ban on “assault weapons” would have on crime, 71% said “none.” Another 21% said such a ban on guns based on cosmetic appearance would make crime worsen (p. 45)
  • All rifles, whether or not they have the cosmetic features, accounted for only 323 of the 12,664 homicides in the United States in 2011.…Twice as many people—728—were killed by attackers using hands and feet as by all types of rifles. Yet no one is calling for an assault-fist ban. (pp. 46-47)
  • The CDC task force concluded that “evidence was insufficient to determine the effectiveness” of the “high-capacity magazine” ban. According to a Justice Department study released in May 2013, the number of criminal shootings (fatal and nonfatal) has decreased 7% since the decade-long federal ban on “high-capacity” ammunition devices expired in 2004. (p. 65)100 million gun owners own 300 million firearms in our nation. 47% of Americans self-report having a gun in the home, according to a Gallup poll released in October 2011. That number was up from 41% a year earlier and the highest Gallup has recorded since 1993. (pp.155-156)
  • Sturm, Ruger & Co.’s stock was $5.29 on the day Obama was elected in 2008.  On June 3, 2013, the Ruger stock was at $51.02. That is a jaw-dropping 864% increase. Don’t you wish you’d bought that stock? (p.159)
  • About 30,000 people are killed by firearms a year—two-thirds are suicides—while guns are used to prevent crimes as often as two million times a year. (p. 193)
  • The two cities with the stiffest gun control laws—D.C. and Chicago—had increasing crime. Murders in the Windy City were up 16 percent in 2012 to 506 people. And there were 2,460 shooting incidents—a 10 percent increase from the previous year. (p. 199)
  • By a 2 to 1 margin, Americans favor armed security guards and police in more schools, according to the Pew Research Center. (p. 275)
  • 2 out of 3 voters say the Second Amendment was, in fact, intended to protect them from tyranny, according to a Rasmussen poll. Only 17% disagreed. (p. 276)
I met Emily Miller at a book signing earlier this fall. I was amazed by how crowded her signing was!

We met Emily Miller at a book signing earlier this fall. We were amazed by how crowded her signing was!

Her personal journey to legally register a gun is frustrating, to say the least. She had to spend hundreds of dollars in fees (not counting the purchase of the actual gun), take time off work, navigate through a web of city officials ignorant of the actual laws and regulations, and jump through many hoops—when in the very same city, criminals and non-criminals alike refuse to register their guns. Emily proves time and again, that only the law-abiding citizens are being punished by strict gun-control measures.

But the focus isn’t just about guns. The last paragraph summarizes Emily’s primary purpose for writing the book. While the main topic is her fight for personal gun rights, the last line (and our favorite!) is, “A gun is just a tool. The fight is for freedom.” Before experiencing the frightening break-in at her friend’s house, Miller had never shot or even held a gun before. Her motive throughout the book is emphasized as wanting to help law-abiding citizens secure the same rights that criminals seem to have—the ability to own a firearm. She notes how anti-gun legislation doesn’t make anyone safer; it simply removes freedoms.

Throughout the book, she also explains how many of the politicians and “anti-gun” advocates seem to know little, if anything, about guns. For instance, many anti-gun lobbyists seem to believe that Americans can still purchase automatic weapons (think: Rambo). She reminds the reader that the most “dangerous” weapons Americans can possess are semi-automatic, meaning one trigger pull equals one bullet.

She also points out that many gun laws seem arbitrary. For instance, when legislation was recently passed in New York, politicians mandated that residents could possess magazines able to hold no more than seven bullets. Had they done their research, they would have seen that seven-bullet magazines generally don’t exist for most handgun caliber models. The law was amended to allow residents to legally possess magazines that hold ten rounds, but lawmakers still restricted law-abiding citizens to only filling the magazine with no more than seven bullets. As she points out—a criminal will not abide by the law and will (a) secure even higher-capacity magazines by any means possible and (b) will not think twice about placing more than seven bullets in the magazine.

This point, that laws restricting gun rights only hurt law-abiding citizens, is a common theme running through the book. Emily provides examples to illustrate this point time and again in her book.

She also discusses the arbitrary nature of some of the “assault weapons” legislation aimed at limiting the types of weapons people may purchase. But non-functional, even completely cosmetic features of some guns are sometimes enough to earn them a place on an “assault weapon” ban list as defined in some state or city laws.

The gun Emily chose to purchase, for instance, is permitted in the District of Columbia in all black, or in black with a silver accent. But the same exact model was not allowed in the “Scorpion” version. The difference is cosmetic. The “outlawed” version is earth-toned tan. Imagine going to a car dealership to purchase a car, but finding out that you can only buy a white or gray one–red, and black, forget it–too dangerous!

The same is true for rifles. Many assault weapons are banned simply for having one or more cosmetic features. The type of grip, for instance, could make one gun outlawed but another, of the same exact caliber and functionality, would be legal. Adjustable stocks are also a big “no no” when it comes to a weapon’s legal status. It’s ironic that an adjustable stock simply makes it easier for a smaller person—such as a female—to comfortably hold the gun. Things like adjustable stocks and variable grip positions do not give criminals any advantage. Rather, they help people most in need of protection—such as petite women—hold the gun more safely and effectively if the weapon has to be used against a criminal. Once again, the people creating the laws seem to have no practical knowledge of guns, or what specifically makes them dangerous.

As is proven many times in the book, none of the laws deter criminals from possessing or using guns. The point is—criminals are criminals. Murder and theft are already illegal. Criminals ignore those laws. Even police officers surveyed admit that gun bans and stricter gun laws have little impact on criminals using guns. In fact, politicians usually ignore the most important points, which is that there already is a background system check in place for gun purchasers. The “gun show loophole” only actually allows an extremely small percentage of people to buy guns without a background check. Mental health checks—largely ignored, as states fail to upload important mental health data into a  national background check system that already exists—are the most important factor of keeping guns out of the hands of people who would most likely misuse them.

There’s also the argument that gun-free zones become like a playground for criminals. Knowing they won’t be confronted by any citizens who can lawfully conceal-carry a handgun, criminals feel free to shoot as many people as they like without fearing consequences. Just look at the crime rates in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Miller also makes the point that even though gun sales have skyrocketed lately (with the threat of gun bans), crime has been steadily decreasing. Increased gun ownership has not increased gun-related crime.

The examples go on and on. (Someone could write a book! Oh wait, someone has!)

Toward the end of the book, Miller cites examples of seemingly arbitrary and capricious enforcement of gun laws, some aimed at veterans arrested for arbitrary reasons—one for having three unregistered guns in the city, one for having several loose rounds in the bottom of a backpack (but having no weapon). She also demonstrates how celebrities and people with political connections do not have to go through the same scrutiny. For both examples above, veterans were subjected to extensive legal fees, undue stress, even jail time though they committed no actual crimes and were eventually cleared of (most of) the charges.

Miller notes that she could easily move to Virginia, where gun laws are much more fair to law-abiding citizens, but she chooses not to: she wants to stay in Washington, D.C., and continue her fight for gun rights. She notes that, although she is allowed to keep her gun in her home, she is not allowed to carry it outside, even into the lobby of her apartment building. Along her journey to become legally armed, she has met many people who have confided in her, and her goal continues to be helping others exercise their Second Amendment Rights without unnecessary restrictions. Emily is truly a freedom fighter, and one worthy of two thumbs up from Freedom Forge Press.

Published by Regnery Publishing.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million

Cover Courtesy of Regnery Publishing

This…Actually Won Money…Money…Money…

The US Department of Health and Human Services and Young Invincibles teamed up to spend a sum of some thousands (we think $5,000 but it’s not clear, if you can interpret the beaucra-speak from the contest prizes rules and press release let us know) on this mess…


Even the White House joined in the fun of ripping off a pop song to try to turn it into political propaganda for an age group that so far  is largely not interested in buying into Obamacare.

Here’s why the video isn’t worth whatever price the government and its unwitting partner paid:

1. The video, which received financial compensation, makes heavy and unattributed use of a copyrighted song by Jessie J without attribution. We’re pretty sure if a Tea Party group had used a copyrighted song to illustrate a point against the Affordable Care Act, that concerted teams of IRS agents, left-wing activists, media types, lawyers, FBI swat teams, heavily armed Predator drones, even Eric Holder himself would descend on the Tea Party group to capture those involved and dispense whatever mob justice seemed appropriate at the time.

2. The video’s chorus asks you to “Forget About the Price Tag” for a program that’s been plagued with upward cost estimate revisions since the president claimed it would cost only $90 billion per year. Coming up on 5 years and 5 revisions later the current estimate stands at $2.7 trillion (3 times the president’s original figure) factored in a 10-year CBO projection. Forget about that price tag, indeed…

3. The program’s signature product website healthcare.gov cost taxpayers more than $600 million, and was nowhere near ready for prime time on the administration’s launch date of October 1 of this year. Negligence and gross mismanagement abounded, but no one has been held accountable. But forget about the price tag; we guess it “ain’t about the uh-cha-ching cha-ching.”

4. Speaking of “cha-ching cha-ching,” the $600 million the federal government blew on a non-working website still has NO payment transfer mechanism to pay insurance companies those subsidies the federal government promised. As one observer has pointed out, the Armed Forces of the United States mobilized, deployed, fought, and defeated the Axis Powers, winning World War II in less time than it took the government to develop a non-functional website.

5. In a lilting exhortation, our singer says “there’s no excuse to be uninsured.” But the law applies to all Americans. You get a government-approved health plan, or you get fined. But “just stop for a minute to think.”  Do the super-wealthy like Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Warren Buffet really need to purchase individual health insurance?

6. “Keep your mind at ease and get some security.” Like the 5 million+ people who had an individual health insurance policy and have had their plans cancelled due to the Obama Administration’s implementing regulations for the Affordable Care Act? But don’t worry about the “yeah bla-bling bla-bling”!

7. “We just wanna make it more fair with affordable health caaaare.”  But having an insurance policy that has the Obama administration’s gold (or maybe even red!) star seal of approval, does NOT mean you will be getting any health caaaare. It means you have coverage and now have to find a doctor that participates with that insurance program.

8. When coverage expands? Well coverage so far has only contracted with millions of cancellation notices and the president’s extra-legal request that insurers extend policies that his law, as his administration has chosen to implement it, are barred from having…  Even as Obamacare enters maturity as a federal program, the CBO projects we will still have 30 million some uninsured Americans.  But wasn’t that close to the number of uninsured before the government seized control of the health insurance industry?

9. “Take advantage of this opportunity!” What opportunity? Insurance actuarial tables work thusly: a population or risk pool pays premiums. Premiums are used to pay for the bad things that happen to members of the risk pool. Young people in general have far fewer health care requirements–and thus many could benefit from a plan offering catastrophic coverage and socking money into a Health Savings Account, which they control, for later in life when their needs, unfortunately, are destined to change. But like Social Security, the young are paying higher premiums into a program that will pay NOW for sicker people and will not have enough future money coming in to pay for the young when they advance in age and require more costly care.

10. “Why is everyone so oblivious?” Well, many aren’t. A recent poll suggests that only 1 in 4 young people (the target of the video) plan to sign up for “Obamacare,” suggesting that at least the remaining 3 out of 4 aren’t so oblivious and can do the simple math above and see that the program is not a good deal for them. It’s too bad we can’t count the video author among the un-oblivious.

11. “I know we’re in our prime. About time we opened our eyes.” Agreed!

We think the video’s author, Erin McDonald, could have gotten more benefit and closer to the truth if she had stuck with words from the original song:

“Seems like everybody’s got a price” (Like the Louisiana Purchase–Right, Sen Landrieu?)

“…when the sale comes first, and the truth comes second” (Ain’t that the truth? Right, Pres Obama? And your close to 40 recorded promises of “if you like your doctor/health plan you can keep your doctor/health plan.”

“It’s not about the money, money, money//We don’t need your money, money, money.” While Obamacare is precisely about the money, money, money, we’d much prefer a government that espoused this idea!

“Money can’t buy us happiness//can we all slow down and enjoy right now.” This sounds an awful lot like freedom to us. If government would stop worrying about what you and I do with our money and stop trying to steal it to buy votes, corruption, and political power, perhaps we could all just “make the world dance.”