Tom Knighton

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The Sequester Made Easy

Image borrowed from Matthew Gagnon via Facebook

It’s the end of the world as we know it, right?  I mean, the sequester has dominated the news for a while now.  Over and over again, we’ve been told of the impending apocalypse that awaits us if we didn’t avert the automatic $85 billion in spending cuts that would automatically kick in.

Oh sure, the sequester isn’t really what it’s been presented as.  Rather than draconian cuts, it’s more a case of cutting future growth, but let’s say we took Washington at its word on all of this?  How could we cut $85 billion without losing the 170 million jobs Maxine Waters claimed it would destroy (despite there not being that many jobs in the entire country)?

Well, let’s start with assuming that the $85 billion in cuts had to start with this current fiscal year.  That’s a lot of money to you and me, but as Washington goes, it’s not that big of a total.

In fact, we give $53.3 billion out in foreign aid each year.  That’s over 62 percent of the sequester amount right there, and not a living soul in the United States would ever feel the pinch.  After all, this money goes to other countries, many of whom don’t like us in any way, shape, or form.  Honestly, this whole thing of giving money to other countries smacks of tribute given in the ancient world to buy peace.  While I like the idea of no war, it doesn’t work.

Tons More Spending, No New Results

With the sequester and its effects breathing down our necks over the past week, we’ve heard a lot of horror stories about what would happen if we didn’t somehow magically come up with some way to avoid it, despite the fact that there’s just not enough money to pay for everything.  One of the areas President Obama has talked about being hit hard by the cuts was education.  After all, teaching kids to read and write is something that Democrats and Republicans, to say nothing of most folks in between, agree should be done.

However, are we really as “doomed” on education as the president has made us out to be?

In September of last year, Andrew J. Coulson wrote over at Cato at Liberty about how increases in spending haven’t exactly correlated to higher test scores like proponents of that additional spending claimed.  He presents this graph to illustrate the point:

Cato Education 1

Coulson goes on to say:

In the past, some readers have wondered if the use of two separate scales ($ on the left and % on the right) might skew the way we perceive these numbers, making the public school productivity collapse look worse than it really is. To allay that concern, I present an alternate version of the chart that places all the data on the same percentage scale. Alas, the second picture is no less bleak than the first.

Indeed, it does.  Just look for yourself.

Cato Education 2

Kind of hard to see much of a difference, is there?

Coulson compared these trends to a different industry, saying:

Mandatory Service Is A Horrible Idea

Rep. Chuck Rangel (D-NY) is probably best known for his inability to follow some of the laws he has helped pass, particularly tax laws.  Now, he’s introduced a bill that will require national service from all Americans age 18 to 24.  From the bill:

To require all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 25 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or as civilian service in a Federal, State, or local government program or with a community-based agency or community-based entity, to authorize the induction of persons in the uniformed services during wartime to meet end-strength requirements of the uniformed services, to provide for the registration of women under the Military Selective Service Act, and for other purposes.

On the surface, this may sound like a heck of an idea.  In fact, through the years, I’ve known many people who feel that service is something that should be required from all youth.  It’s understandable.  As Joanne DeHerrera says over at The Examiner:

Alabama town seeks to disarm ‘unruly’ citizens

The town of Guntersville, Alabama is the kind of place you normally never hear about.  I mean, the town boasts a population of just over 8,000 folks.  A booming metropolis, it isn’t.  However, it’s making headlines due to a controversial proposal that would permit police to disarm citizens during disaster situations.

The proposal is one of many measures that the town is considering as part of its disaster preparedness plan.  Despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth by gun rights advocates, it doesn’t say anything about an outright plan to confiscate all guns.  However, the text as its reported offers plenty to be concerned about as it is:

“As provided by Alabama State Code, any law enforcement officers acting in official duties may disarm and individual if deemed necessary.  The officer must return the firearm to the individual before leaving or [arresting] the individual.”

The worrisome part is the “if deemed necessary” provision.  The vague language opens up plenty of opportunities for abuse.  After all, under what circumstances would it be necessary?

The law, despite what some alleged news sources have reported, does specify that the guns should be returned prior to the officer leaving the scene…or if the person is arrested.  That doesn’t absolve Guntersville officials from the justly deserved scorn they’re receiving.

“It seems like an infringement on the 2nd Amendment, and that’s the biggest problem I have with it,” local music teacher Paul Landry said.

Keith Sullivan, another local resident, added: “The law’s already there.  Somebody’s brandishing a weapon, you can arrest them right there.”

Do Louisiana state health department officials hate poor people?

I’m a hunter.  A lot of folks are.  I don’t get a lot of opportunity to hunt, however, so I struggle to meet my own needs with deer meat.  But there are a lot of hunters who are far more fortunate donated their extra meet to feed poor folks in Louisiana, and they just got a slap across the face for their troubles:

The Dept. of Health and Hospitals ordered the staff at the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission to throw 1,600 pounds of donated venison in garbage bins – and then ordered then to douse the meat with Clorox – so other animals would not eat the meat.

“Deer meat is not permitted to be served in a shelter, restaurant or any other public eating establishment in Louisiana,” said a Health Dept. official in an email to Fox News. “While we applaud the good intentions of the hunters who donated this meat, we must protect the people who eat at the Rescue Mission, and we cannot allow a potentially serious health threat to endanger the public.”

The meat came via a group called “Hunters for the Hungry.”  This group enables hunters to donate entire deer to help feed poor people by dropping off whole deer at participating processors.  In short, the meat is controlled from that point on.

Louisiana doesn’t have any laws against doing something like this.  However, 1,600 pounds of the meat was destroyed.  Hunters for the Hungry wasn’t even allowed to take the meat back and give it to others who are in need.

As for the safety, not only is the meat controlled, but venison is one of the leanest forms of meat you can find.  In short, it’s hard to beat it from a health perspective.  It is as safe as you’re going to find.

Why gun owners see background checks as registration

guns

There’s a lot of back and forth on the internet right now.  Guns tend to get folks riled up pretty well.  Gun rights advocates are screaming to the top of their lungs about universal gun registration, while gun grabbers are yelling that it’s about keeping guns out of the wrong hands.

Well folks, you may not realize it, but the gun rights advocates are actually right on this one.

Sure, no one who supports universal background checks is saying registration.  In fact, they honestly believe they’re avoiding gun registration.  Unfortunately, there’s a reason why gun rights advocates don’t believe them.

First, one must understand the entire process of purchasing a gun through a licensed dealer.  The background check is only part of the process.  The rest involves paperwork that also registers information about the weapon purchased.  These records aren’t shredded after a certain period of time.  No, the dealer is required to hold onto these records indefinitely.

By forcing all gun sales to go through Federal Firearms License holders, you force all weapons to have paperwork filed on each and every firearm purchase.  That is a form of de facto registration.

Now, this isn’t some gun armeggedon or anything.  Most guns would still transfer just as they always have (Obama’s figure that as many as 40 percent of all sales don’t go through the background check is complete bull), but some will now have to go through a third party.  So what’s the big deal?

Georgia representative seeks to dismantle the First Amendment

It’s bound to get lost amidst President Obama’s State of the Union address, and all the silliness he spewed forth earlier this week, however in my home state of Georgia, there’s something brewing that could be just as bad as any Washington power play.

You see, Georgia Representative Earnest Smith seems offended that a blogger took his face and photoshopped it onto the body of a male porn star.  So offended, in fact, that he wants to outlaw the practice.

From FoxNews:

Rep. Earnest Smith pointed, as proof of the problem, to a picture of his head that was recently edited onto a pornstar’s body. That image was created by a blogger who used the image to mock Smith.

The Augusta-based legislator said he was not worried the bill would step on First Amendment rights.

“Everyone has a right to privacy,” he told FoxNews.com. “No one has a right to make fun of anyone. It’s not a First Amendment right.”

Now, Smith made this proposal a year ago regarding a cyber-bullying case, but his grasp on the constitution - and apparently, reality - have slipped even more.  You see, Smith is talking about limiting a timeless form of speech.  No, photoshop isn’t timeless, but satire is.

Satirical art has a time honored place in political discourse.  In face, the Supreme Court has upheld satire as protected speech, regardless of what Smith may choose to argue.  Frankly, sticking his mug on a porn star’s body couldn’t be anything other than satire…or a calculated insult to the porn star.

Feinstein introduces assault weapon ban bill

Dianne Feinstein

We all knew it was coming.  Well, it’s here.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) continues her jihad against so-called “assault weapons” by introducing the bill she warned the world was coming earlier today.

The bill, as ugly as we expected, seeks to ban scores of firearms including all types of AK and AR pattern rifles.  A number of shotguns and pistols are also including in that list.  Of course, Feinstein and her fellow gun jihadists believe they’re fighting the good fight:

During the press event at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, the Democrats described these firearms as “dangerous military-style assault weapons.” The bill would also ban high-capacity ammunition feeding devices that can hold more than 10 rounds.

Feinstein said the country’s “weak” gun laws allow massacres like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occur.

“Getting this bill signed into law will be an uphill battle, and I recognize that — but it’s a battle worth having,” Feinstein said in literature handed to reporters at the Thursday event.

Feinstein is right that it’ll be an uphill battle for the bill.  However, Feinstein has to know just how little of a chance this bill has.

The bill will also essentially turn all currently possessed firearms into Class III weapons.  That is the same classification of guns as fully automatic machine guns.  Now, this will mean that those AK and AR pattern rifles are about to soar in value should a bill like this actually pass.

An Open Letter to Piers Morgan

Piers Morgan

Dear Piers Morgan,

We get it.  You, a British citizen and a subject of the Crown, are not a supporter of gun rights.  This is something we understand perfectly well.

However, I feel that as a fellow journalist, I need to reach out and let you know that I’m on to your little tricks.  Frankly, if this is the best you’ve got, maybe you should rethink your position on gun rights…or at least quit making it such a point on your show.

The first trick was to shout down reasonable debate when you had Larry Pratt on your show.  Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, went on your show to have a reasonable discussion, and you shout him down with tactics more akin to Bill O’Reilly’s.  Every time he opened his mouth to counter your points, you were rude and drowned him out.

Time and time again, you called Pratt names like “stupid,” while countering with no facts of your own.  You were as unprofessional as I have ever seen, and with Kieth Olbermann and O’Reilly still in my memory, that’s saying something.

Last night, you had Alex Jones on your show.  Ostensibly, it was about the petition to have you deported.  For the record, I did not sign it and did not support it.  Freedom of speech is freedom for all, or else it’s freedom for none.    Jones started it, and you had him on your show.  Unsurprisingly, the topic went over to gun control.

White House looking at more than just assault weapon ban

Barack Obama

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s assault weapon ban bill has ruffled feathers throughout the nation.  Gun folks and civil libertarians aren’t really thrilled with the government taking away the primary means of resisting a tyrannical government.  Her bill is by far the most restrictive to get any serious press, yet according to the Washington Post, Obama’s looking at a whole lot more than just banning a pile of weapons:

A working group led by Vice President Biden is seriously considering measures backed by key law enforcement leaders that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors, the sources said.

To sell such changes, the White House is developing strategies to work around the National Rifle Association that one source said could include rallying support from Wal-Mart and other gun retailers for measures that would benefit their businesses. White House aides have also been in regular contact with advisers to New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I), an outspoken gun-control advocate who could emerge as a powerful surrogate for the Obama administration’s agenda.

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Tom Knighton

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Tom Knighton has been a blogger here at United Liberty since 2010. In 2011, he made history when he became the first blogger anywhere known to have purchased a newspaper when he purchased The Alba... Click here to read full bio


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