“I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.” –Benjamin Franklin
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Income Redistribution: Food Stamp Cuts
Obama Entitlement Card
House Republicans passed a modified part of the farm bill yesterday, 217-210, cutting 5% from food stamp funding over the next decade, about $40 billion. Democrats are apoplectic, crying that the GOP wants to see some three million people starve. Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) called it “one of the most heartless bills I have ever seen.” This overblown reaction is inevitable from statists who would like nothing more than to increase the number of people beholden to federal “generosity.” But phony fear that millions of people will be left to starve is simply craven political theater meant to secure their own political base. The cuts Republicans passed would result from tightening eligibility requirements that would restrict participation for able-bodied workers.
It’s not surprising to see an uptick in enrollment during the Obama “recovery,” but the program has ballooned out of control. Enrollment doubled between 2001 and 2007, a period of relative economic prosperity. It doubled again between 2008 and 2012, in part because eligibility requirements were significantly loosened. There are now nearly 50 million people on food stamps, and many of them don’t need to be. Tightening the reins and cutting spending by 5% won’t result in mass starvation. It may just restore some much needed dignity and self-reliance to a significant chunk of the American people.
Movement on the Internet Sales Tax
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is expected to issue a proposal for Internet sales tax legislation in the coming days.
Read more and comment here.
The Journalist’s Shield
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) believes the federal government can arbitrarily define the word “journalist” for the purpose of bestowing First Amendment protection.
Read more and comment here.
Hope ‘n’ Change: Walgreens Drops Employee Health Coverage
Walgreens, the nation’s largest drugstore chain, announced that it would be moving its 160,000 workers to a private health insurance exchange where they can buy coverage subsidized by the company.
Read the rest and comment here.
The Declining State of the Unions
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the state of the union — not the capital “U” union that is our nation, but the combined mass we also call Big Labor — is one of near-panic. Their straits are so dire that AFL-CIO members passed a resolution at their national convention earlier this month allowing non-members the opportunity to enjoy union benefits through a group called Working America, which the AFL-CIO formed to serve workers in industries with little chance at unionization.
Unfortunately for the AFL-CIO and other traditional industry-based unions, their influence is being eroded on two different fronts. Former Rust Belt union strongholds Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan have adopted various forms of right-to-work legislation; meanwhile, the public sector has become the chief source of new union membership. Public-sector workers now make up over half of all union membership, but overall just one in nine workers is a union member.
Rather than see themselves relegated to the dustbin of history, this AFL-CIO resolution portends a shift in tactics. While Working America has its naked appeals for donations to promote the leftist agenda, the group bills itself as “the fastest-growing organization for working people in the country.” In many respects, the group serves Big Labor just as the AARP caters to older Americans, providing a plethora of discounts and benefits for dues-paying members with a heaping helping of leftist lobbying on the side.
After all, unions aren’t really about the worker, who simply serves as a means to an end. The more money they collect, the more political power they can purchase, and it doesn’t even matter to Big Labor if those same workers benefit in the end — as long as the leadership gets its cut.
Climate Change This Week: ‘Dial Back the Alarm’
In what amounts to a substantial revision of its previous climate change assessments, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will, according to the Wall Street Journal, “dial back the alarm” on its catastrophic predictions. The 2007 report dramatically overemphasized the impact of anthropogenic (man-made) climate change. The IPCC’s next report, to be released later this month, will supposedly reconcile the incorrect measurements used to calculate temperature changes in its previous reports. Don’t hold your breath — they’re already looking at ways to manipulate the observed cooling over the last 15 years.
This revelation comes on the heels of rising predictions of global cooling and a dramatic increase in polar pack ice which, coupled with the shivering Antarctic (scientists and their media cadres conveniently ignore that other pole), has resulted in a record amount of global sea ice. “As a long observer of the global weather movement, I can say that the events of 2013 (have) been one of the most devastating to the movement,” Climate Depot’s Marc Morano tells columnist Cal Thomas. “Both poles have record expanding ice. Global temperatures have failed to rise for 15 plus years, sea level rise is failing to accelerate, tornadoes are at record lows, hurricanes are near record low activity.”
Still, don’t expect much change. “Billions of dollars and other currencies have been diverted into ‘green’ projects in a Chicken Little attempt to stop the sky from falling,” Thomas observes. “The BBC reports it as fact in virtually every story it does on the environment. Ditto the American media. Most media ignore evidence that counters climate change proponents. Former Vice President Al Gore has made a personal fortune promoting the cult of global warming, a cult being partially defined as a belief system that ignores proof contrary to its beliefs.”
Indeed, the Left’s strategy goes something like this: Make a prediction, and when the opposite happens, take credit for the forecasting flop anyway. As Thomas concludes, “Perhaps the climate change counter-revolutionaries should adopt the yo-yo as their symbol and send Gore and his apostles a box of them.” Then again, they probably wouldn’t get it.
Warfront IN Jihadistan: Syrian Rebels Fight Each Other
Further muddying the waters in Syria, rebel forces seem to have turned their guns on each other. When radical Muslims began to make up a growing part of the opposition, this infighting became inevitable. Indeed, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a spinoff of al-Qaida in Iraq, began a new campaign last week that it calls “Expunging Filth,” and their target is the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA), not Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Estimates place the ISIS at 7,000 – 10,000 strong, and units are taking over territory in northern and eastern Syria.
If the splintering becomes a pattern, the Syrian civil war will truly become a battle of three armies. “[ISIS] are not rebels anymore; from this point, they are terrorists now,” according to Louay Almokdad, political and media coordinator for the FSA. “We are fighting two terrorist teams on two fronts; one al-Assad regime and Hezbollah militia and the Iranian revolutionary guards and the other the extremists al-Qaida, ISIS.” Of course, it was the FSA that welcomed them in the first place.
There is evidence that the growing jihadi presence is a pattern, as foreign jihadis (such as those from Pakistan) flock to the battlefield for a larger Sunni holy war that dates back hundreds of years. This development is problematic for the U.S., which has begun arms shipments to the rebels with the intent of aiding pro-Western factions against Assad while failing to keep arms out of the hands of jihadis. On the bright side, if the fighting lines between the jihadis and the so-called “moderates” become more clear, at least the U.S. will be able to tell them apart.
Finally, Deputy prime minister Qadri Jamil said that the civil war in Syria has reached a stalemate and the government may soon call for a ceasefire. “Neither the armed opposition nor the regime is capable of defeating the other side,” he said. Stay tuned.
For the Record
National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke: “So sure were the horrified darlings of the gun-control salon that an AR-15 had played a part in the abomination at Navy Yard that many felt compelled to insert one into the story, front and center. … To progressives, the very idea of a citizenry that is armed so that it might protect itself is nothing short of a dangerous Red Dawn fantasy — a recipe for ‘anarchy’ or ‘vigilantism,’ and a serving of unlovely catnip to an ‘insurrectionist’ movement (which never quite materializes but is always lurking). For their part, progressives do not believe that it is constitutionally and philosophically irrational for the representatives of a free people to be able to disarm them, because History always moves forward and we have outgrown all that. Instead, they believe that it is the job of the government to institute what it considers to be reasonable restrictions on weaponry in order to protect the people from themselves and from others. In this view, only the police and the military should have ‘serious’ weapons, and the people should submit to their protection. Anything that even hints at military weaponry should, therefore, not be in the hands of the people. And, quite deliberately, the AR-15 looks like a military weapon.”
Columnist Michelle Malkin: “Forget gun control. America needs government control. Have you noticed the common thread among several mass killings and homeland security incidents lately? Time and again, it’s the control freaks in Washington who have fallen down on their jobs, allowing crazies, creeps and criminals to roam free and wreak havoc while ignoring rampant red flags. … The motto of our homeland security overlords is ‘not on our watch.’ But like so much else attached to our post-9/11 national security bureaucracy, that motto has become a punchline. With the feds and military leaders looking the other way or closing their eyes altogether to menaces within their ranks, there is no watch. It’s a Code Red alert for government incompetence.”
Faith and Family
Columnist Jeremy Egerer: “[I]ntelligence amongst the good brings forth Madisons and Lockes — amongst the bad, maybe a Marx or a Rousseau. Men skilled in rhetoric can be Churchills or Hitlers, those with charisma either George Washington or Jim Jones. Considerable skill in engineering may eliminate dependence on oil, or it may build nuclear weapons for Syrian terrorists. Whatever the skill, whatever the gift, its benefit to mankind depends not upon talent itself, but upon the character of those who wield it. Therefore, all sensible men must be in agreement that the talents of mankind are not in themselves good, but are wholly and universally dependent upon the judgment, fortitude, and charity of their possessors. Talent for the sake of civilization must be developed, but it is better to be in the company of the righteous layman and farmer than surrounded by impressively treacherous and barbarous men. … Without valiant soldiers, honest judges, vigilant citizens, and ethical working men of all kinds, Edisons and Einsteins may occasionally succeed, but true liberty in divine Law permits genius to flourish.”
For more, visit The Right Opinion.
Columnist Arnold Ahlert: “[T]he pushback from the Obama administration, fellow Democrats, and a contemptibly disinterested mainstream media [regarding Benghazi] continues in earnest. Yet they won’t be able to keep a lid on this scandal indefinitely. Despite every effort undertaken by this administration to ‘socialize’ the military, America’s warrior class, the one that does the fighting — and dying — to defend this nation, isn’t about to let the idea that we never leave our dead and wounded behind be abandoned for cynical political considerations. Unlike much of the current military chain of command, which has seemingly acquiesced to the progressive agenda, these men and women will not be cowed. The honorable and courageous will emerge eventually, despite every effort to keep them contained.”
Barack Obama: “Now, this debt ceiling — I just want to remind people in case you haven’t been keeping up — raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy. All it does is it says you got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress.”
MSNBC’s Ed Schultz: “It amazes me that people don’t love Obama. It amazes me that the conservatives who are seeing the stock market go through the roof in dealing with a president who has pretty much been hands-off on Wall Street, it just amazes me he can’t get above 50 percent when it comes to a favorable view of the economy.”
This Week’s ‘Braying Jackass’ Award
Barack Obama: “The problem we have is that over the last four years billions of dollars have been spent misinforming people about what [ObamaCare] is about. All of the horror stories that were talked about have not come true. It is going to be a good deal and we expect that once it is fully implemented — a year from now, two years from now, five years from now — people will look back and, they’ll be asking what was the argument about. Why is everybody fighting this so much?”
From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC): “[T]he response of the police, the taking down of the shooter so quickly, convinces me yet again that this is the safest city in the United States. … And tonight we wanna say to residents that we don’t think there’s anything to fear in this city.”
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz: “In recent months, Starbucks stores and our partners (employees) who work in our stores have been thrust unwillingly into the middle of this debate. That’s why I am writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas. … [T]his is a request and not an outright ban. Why? Because we want to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request.”
Comedian Argus Hamilton: “Vladimir Putin wrote a New York Times opinion piece [last] Thursday in which he scolded Americans for thinking the U.S. is an exceptional nation. It proves he knows nothing about this country. Americans don’t read anything longer than one hundred and forty characters.”
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team
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