Archives for February 2013
It appears environmentalism has officially gone insane. In Florida, a man released several heart shaped balloons into the air as an expression of love to his girlfriend. And for that, the guy was arrested:
Brasfield, 40, and his girlfriend, Shaquina Baxter, were in the parking lot of the Motel 6 on Dania Beach Boulevard when he released the shiny red and silver mylar balloons and watched them float away Sunday morning.
Also watching the romantic gesture: an FHP trooper, who instead noted probable cause for an environmental crime.
Brasfield was charged with polluting to harm humans, animals, plants, etc. under the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act.
Seriously? We’re going to arrest people now because they released balloons into the air? What sort of joyless soul-sucking Dementors are the people who push for this kind of legislation?
The story notes at the end that Brasfield, if convicted, faces up to five years in prison. Five years for releasing balloons into the air to show his love to his significant other. If that’s not liberty-trampeling, un-American, and just plain immoral, I don’t know what it is.
There’s concern in Rhode Island over the abuse of EBT benefits. With thousands of dollars in cash withdrawn from ATMs in places like liquor stores and bars, there’s almost certainly a bit of abuse of the system going on.
It’s easy to see the concern. EBT benefits are supposed to help those in need be able to buy things to help their family survive. There’s not likely anything for sale in liquor stores or bars that a family needs to survive.
Even in grocery stores, there’s a reason for concern. While someone with a limited budget should be pinching pennies in the checkout aisle, things that aren’t a necessity can be purchased with EBT cards.
People concerned about EBT abuse are calling for more restrictions and rules around the spending of that money. I think it makes sense to take some practical measures prevent abuse, though there’s a risk of reaching a point where the money spent to prevent the abuse exceeds the amount of abuse.
But beyond that, the solutions proposed for stopping EBT abuse are attempts at solving the wrong problem. The right thing to do is to help get them away from a reliance on government to provide grocery money.
In a perfect world, there would be no EBT system to abuse. Realistically though, these systems aren’t going away anytime soon, so we should do what we can to minimize the expense. The most effective way to minimize that expense is to help those who would stand on their own to do so.
Last week, Robert Gibbs, who served as White House Press Secretary from 2009 to 2011, told MSNBC that he was told by his superiors not to discuss the drones program, which has come under controversy recently:
“When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the first things they told me was, you’re not even to acknowledge the drone program,” he said Sunday on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes.” “You’re not even to discuss that it exists.”
“Here’s what’s inherently crazy about that proposition,” he said. “You’re being asked a question based on reporting of a program that exists. So you’re the official government spokesperson acting as if the entire program … pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. I think in many ways and I think what the president has seen — and I have not talked to him about this, I want to be careful. This is my opinion. But I think what the president has seen is our denial of the existence of the program when it’s obviously happening undermines people’s confidence overall in the decisions that their government makes.”
On Tuesday, Gibbs was thoroughly ripped by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show for these comments, basically an admission of lying for purposes of deceiving the American people, showing a couple of clips where the former White House Press Secretary refused to answer questions about the drones program:
The liberty movement is in the midst of a much needed conversation over its future. While not a new conversation, it is one that has been recently reignited thanks to Alexander McCobin of Students for Liberty and Glenn Beck.
Over the past few years, the liberty movement has seen tremendous growth, thanks largely to Ron Paul, who has been able to lure a number of conservatives into the liberty movement. As a result, libertarianism has grown in popularity as more people begin to understand the basic tenets of the philosophy — including free markets and individual liberty. However, there are some in our movement who don’t seem to want the message to spread to those who may not fully share all of our ideas.
Yesterday, Glenn Beck helped further along this conversation, inviting Jacob Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation, Zachary Slayback of Students for Liberty, and Jack Hunter to discuss libertarianism and the future of the movement.
Beck asked the trio how to get people interested in libertarianism when the perception is that those who follow the philosophy want so much change so quickly.
“Politically, you can’t get from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’ without there being an in-between,” said Hunter in response. “‘B’ being the ideal political world we would like and ‘A’ where we are now. There’s going to be some messiness in between. That’s just human nature — that’s the way it’s got to be.
“You have to start where people are and work towards liberty in a practical sense,” he added.
The Club for Growth, one of Washington’s most high-profile conservative organizations, released its annual scorecard earlier this week, providing a measure of who in Congress is fighting to reduce government spending and regulation.
The scorecard shows how members of House of Representatives and the Senate voted during the 2012 session on key, pro-growth issues ranging from keeping the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts in place to capping transportation spending to expanding free trade to banning earmarks.
“Whether it was the GOP’s support of massive tax increases or the constant assault on liberty by the Obama administration, the pro-growth caucus in Congress has a lot of work to do in 2013,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola explained in a statement. “The Club’s scorecard is intended to help our members and the general public understand who talks a good game on limiting government and passing pro-growth policies, and who backs up their words with votes.”
So who in Congress have been working for the taxpayer? Obviously, we can’t list everybody who scored well, for sake of space, so we’re going to limit it to the top in each chamber. You can find the 2012 scorecard by clicking here.
Best of the Best in the House of Representatives
Editor’s note: While the larger point of the post is a good topic for debate, Fortenberry was a bad example. According to the scorecards released by the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, Fortenberry hasn’t been a friend to the taxpayer on fiscal issues. Thanks to Matt Hoskins for bringing this to our attention.
Author’s note: Yes, kudos to Matt Hoskins. I’ve added an update below.
Last week, Rod Dreher at the American Conservative magazine wrote about John Fortenberry, a Republican congresscritter from Nebraska who is considering a run for the seat of retiring Republican Senator Mike Johanns. What has Dreher annoyed —understandably — is that the Senate Conservatives Fund has come out against Fortenberry. Why? Because Fortenberry is “too liberal” on taxes:
“We can already say that we won’t be able to support Congressman Fortenberry if he runs. His record on spending, debt, and taxes in the House is just too liberal. Republicans in Nebraska deserve better,” said Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins. SCF, which was started by conservative Jim DeMint and involved itself in the 2012 Nebraska Senate GOP primary, is looking to identify a candidate it can get behind, Hoskins added.
Dreher argues that’s completely bunk. In an interview with the Congressman last year, he wrote:
Don’t mess with the White House’s messaging on the sequester. That’s essentially what Bob Woodward, the famous Washington Post journalist, was recently told by an Obama Administration official.
Woodward, who released a book last year about the events that led to the sequester, wrote last week that the spending cuts set to take place tomorrow were the White House’s idea and he has been making television appearances for several days now repeating that claim.
During an interview last night on CNN, Woodward told Wolf Bitlzer that he was willing to debate the sequester with someone from the White House. Biltzer explained, “We invited the White House to send someone here to debate this issue with you, and they declined.”
“Why? Why? Because it’s irrefutable — that’s exactly what happened,” Woodward flatly stated. Woodward then noted that he was getting some pushback, telling Bitlzer that a “very senior person” at the White House told him that he “will regret doing this.”
“It makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters ‘you’re gonna regret’ doing something that you believe in,” Woodward explained.
While writing the editoral, Woodward apparently let the White House know what he was doing and he was met with resistance from Gene Sperling, a top economic aide, who raised his voice at the journalist.
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.”
Donna Brazile is upset that her health insurance premiums are going up. In fact, she’s so upset that she decided to let the Twitterverse know yesterday:
What’s on your menu? Just got off the phone with my health care provider asking them to explain why my premium jumped up. No good answer!
— Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile) February 27, 2013
This shouldn’t be a surprise. Jonathan Gruber, who is the architect of ObamaCare, admitted last year that the law wouldn’t hold down insurance premiums. And a Kaiser Family Foundation report noted that premiums had jumped by $2,370 since 2009 (ObamaCare was passed in March 2010).
The irony, however, is that Brazile, who managed Al Gore’s unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2000, was among ObamaCare’s biggest supporters. After it was passed, she told CNN that ObamaCare would “provide access to quality, affordable health care and reduce the federal budget deficit.”
We’ve all been told that the sequester is going to bring about the zombie apocalypse, but the idea that trimming $85 billion in spending from a bloated $3.8 trillion budget — and only half of those reductions will take effect the current fiscal year, meaning that the cuts are closer to 1% of the budget. To say that sort of a reduction in spending is going to have a substantial impact on the economy is laughable.
In a new video from Reason TV, Nick Gillespie gives us five facts about the sequester before it goes into effect on March 1st.
“Even with the sequester, the federal government is expected to spend more this year than it did last year,” Gillespie explains. “The largest chunk of cuts will come out of the defense budget, which has doubled over the past decade. The Pentagon will still have about $500 billion at its disposal, not counting war-related and emergency appropriations.”
And despite the recent talking points from the White House, Gillespie also notes that the “whole damn sequester was the Obama administration’s idea.”
“As the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward has reported, despite Obama’s denials to the contrary, ‘the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House’ as part of the deal to raise the debt limit back in August 2011,” notes Gillespie.
Check out full video: