Lee, what is going on in Washington right now aside from Obamacare? Any big power grabbing schemes that aren’t getting enough attention?
There are lots of them. Those who want to take our basic freedoms away are relentless, innovative, and tireless. And whenever possible, they like to “road test” their tyrannical ideas under the radar screen of national politics.
One particular power grab that has gotten my attention is a new “test law” in Washington, D.C. that is designed to turn gun owners into felons overnight. It works like this: Every D.C. resident who has registered a firearm since 1976 must go to the authorities and submit to being photographed and fingerprinted. They must also pay a $48 fee now required of the estimated 30,000 registered gun owners in Washington, and everyone has 90 days to comply.
If they do not comply, they will be deemed in possession of an unregistered firearm, which is a felony offense in Washington.
Their registration must be renewed every three years, at which time the gun owner must yet again be fingerprinted and photographed. An attorney involved in challenging the law, Stephan Halbrook, told The Washington Times, “Cancelling the registration every three years and charg- ing the equivalent of a poll tax to reregister, and requiring citizens to be fingerprinted yet again, adds insult to injury. Criminals in the sex offender registration system aren’t even subjected to that.”
Fortunately there are some indications that voters around the country are pushing back against this freedom-scoffing mentality that has afflicted local, state, and federal government bureaucrats. Colorado is a good example of this. It will be important for gun owners to turn out in large numbers this November to send a message to the political establishment that we are all paying close attention to the gun grabbers!
Yes, there are some indications that gun grabbing excesses have resulted in serious public blowback, such as the successful recall elections of anti-gun politicians in Colorado. What’s more interesting to me is that only 7 of Colorado’s 62 elected sheriffs have refused to sign onto a federal lawsuit opposing new state mandates requiring background checks for private gun sales and outlawing magazines which hold over 15 rounds. Some locally elected sheriff’s departments who still answer to the people are refusing to enforce these new mandates.
Colorado’s example is all the more reason to look skepti- cally at the defacto nationalization of local law enforcement across the nation! Some people are starting to notice that local police departments are looking more and more like the U.S. military these days, especially when it comes to state-of-the-art equipment for use against civilians.
Lee, last year you predicted that unmanned aerial spying drones would soon become so numerous that they would inevitably become a threat to commercial aircraft. What’s happening on that front?
Let’s just say that we’ve been working overtime updating our privacy-enhancing strategies lately. The FAA now admits that as many as 7,500 pilotless aircraft will be injected into busy U.S. airspace over the next five years and I think that number is vastly understated. Spying on Americans is becoming the newest form of freedom-wrecking crony capitalism. Six states were announced as new drone test zones late last year and include Nevada, Alaska, New York, Texas and Virginia.
Members of Congress are falling all over themselves for a piece of the action. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gushed that “This is wonderful news for Nevada that creates a huge opportunity for our economy.”
There are of course legitimate uses for drones, but I think all of us know they have enormous potential for privacy abuses and far more intrusive government than is being advertised. Nagging, overseeing, obnoxious government is still on the rise because there is such big money in it for all those private contractors who got used to big taxpayer bucks deploying drones over Afghanistan, Iraq, and other conflicts that are now being wound down.
Senator Rand Paul has introduced an important bill we should all be aware of, prohibiting drone use for checking on criminal or regulatory violations without a lawful warrant.
On another subject Lee, this has been a tough winter for global warming theorists. You have mentioned that there is a whole lot more going on. What do you mean?
Yes, it has been rather cold, hasn’t it? Snow in Jerusalem this year. Ships trapped in Antarctic ice floes. Record cold blasts into the entire continental United States.
Reality aside, it is far more worrisome that global warming is rapidly becoming an excuse for the fruition of ugly government policies which have for decades led to the massive squandering and mismanagement of fresh water supplies. Cheap and plentiful water is going away, and with it cheap and plentiful food. A November 2 headline in the left-leaning New York Times prominently advanced the argument that “Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies.”
Blaming global warming for higher and higher food prices is left-wing dogma. Take the alarming situation with the Colorado River, now in its 14th straight year of decline in a “drought” that scientists say has no rival in over 1,200 years. It’s far more likely that we’re victims of politically directed agriculture, with an emphasis on water intensive ethanol creation and other boondoggles such as policies that result in less crop rotation and more reliance on chemicals. These problems are all coming to a head. The shrinking Colorado River supports agriculture from California to Wyoming.
Lake Mead is fed by the Colorado River and is alarm- ingly low – to the point that even that basic water feeds to Las Vegas are in peril, as is electric power generation for nearly half a million homes.
An analysis by the Civil Society Institute shows that reductions in water flow on other rivers routinely threaten electricity shutdowns in Florida, North Caro- lina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. I have a number of friends who work in the power generation business and many of them are privately frantic about the potential for large blackouts. In 2012, a delay in the monsoon in India at a peak power demand period led to 600 million people losing power for 2 days.
I’ve long believed that water reclamation technology is a good long-term investment. Before that movement gets traction, however, there are going to be some very unpretty shortages to come. Sooner or later Americans will have to get used to paying for what fresh water really costs and that will show up in the form of much higher food prices going forward.
Government statistics say there is little or no food inflation.
The headline food inflation numbers aren’t even counted. And major food processing companies have quietly snuck down the number of calories per dollar you obtain when buying their products. Basic non- processed foods purchased at discount giants are your best defense against this trend.
What do you think is going to happen with Obamacare?
I wasn’t the only observer to be fascinated with a recent comment by Barack Obama to a friendly reporter on the little-watched MSNBC. Obama vented the following strange admission about Obamacare’s disastrous imple- mentation: “We have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly.”
Sorry, couldn’t help myself.
House Republicans need to get better at conducting investigative hearings. They need to better define how the unexpected loss of insurance is hurting real people in real time, and better explain the ugly impact on small business. Another issue to focus on is why so many federal employees are exempted from Obamacare in favor of their taxpayer-funded platinum-level benefits.
Yes, the media will ignore these hearings for the most part, but they will get the right voters stirred up and motivated to send a message this November. The GOP needs to avoid gloating or overplaying their hand. So long as Mr. Obama is in power, a frontal assault on Obamacare is not going to work. However, there is an exceptional opportunity before the next election to gut the law one piece at a time, so that in the end it is very effectively repealed. Many Democrats who are running scared on Obamacare will have no choice but to get behind piecemeal efforts to “fix” the law and its effects before the next election.
Why not go for full repeal?
A formal full repeal while Mr. Obama is in power is extremely unlikely as it would take a two-thirds House and Senate vote to override his veto. It is more than the political system can be expected to accomplish, although I respect the motives of those who want to try anyway.
I suggest that instead we focus on how people and businesses are getting hurt and offer more private sector remedies to alleviate the worst effects of the law, through which we will have accomplished something real. Plus, Mr. Obama and his Congressional allies plan to roll out a populist campaign of their own, to raise the minimum wage. The GOP would be better off to focus on the horrific effects of Obamacare so that they can introduce ream after ream of relief legislation, that stitched together, would have the net effect of gutting the law.
What about after the election?
This brings us to an important question. Who is in control of the Senate? Right now Democrats hold a 55-45 margin of control over the Senate, which means the GOP must gain a net of 6 seats to retake control there. The potential for Mr. Obama’s party to be defeated on that front is real. Veteran election watcher Michael Barone says that seven Democrat-held seats are in states where Mitt Romney prevailed in 2012. In three of those states, the incumbents are retiring, and in two more some very strong House-based challengers are running against weakened Democrats.
Are there other good wedge issues for the GOP to bring before the voters now?
Yes, absolutely. Not enough attention is being paid to the Christian voters whose personal beliefs are being dismissed and thrown aside under Obamacare. Take the Obama Administration’s bizarre case against the Christian-owned retail store chain Hobby Lobby. The Oklahoma-based, family-owned Hobby Lobby is going along with 4 of the 16 contraception mandates their insurance provides to employees but objects to mandated methods that induce early term abortions.
Look, no matter how you feel about abortions, everyone should be concerned that the Administra- tion is making the argument that if a profit motive is involved, the basic right of First Amendment speech is null and void! Yet part of Hobby Lobby’s business model is to follow stated Christian principles, such as closing on Sundays and running advertising that promotes Christianity. That is their right, and consum- ers have voted with their dollars to make Hobby Lobby a successful enterprise. Who is Mr. Obama to say that their right to cater to Christians on issues of interest to them is not covered by the First Amendment?
Even the New York Times Washington Correspondent, David Sanger, recently complained about the Obama Administration’s hostile view of the First Amendment, saying, “This [administration] is the most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.”
What do you think of Speaker Boehner’s rant against conservative groups that trashed the recent budget deal he made with the Obama Administration?
I understand that Speaker Boehner is in a tough political spot. But libertarians are an important part of the Republican Party and the key to their future, especially on many freedom issues that resonate throughout the country.
Critics make some good points. The so-called “deal” gives the Administration political cover in exchange for a tiny $85 billion in “future” budget cuts spread over a decade. In addition to giving Mr. Obama bipartisan legitimacy, the deal guts a portion of a previous seques- ter deal that was actually restraining some government growth. Big government Republicanism is not the path forward, and the sooner the libertarians and the broader GOP patch things up, the better.
Ronald Reagan seems to have come closest to unifying Christians, libertarian-leaning voters, and mainstream GOP rank and file members. I totally agree with his unifying principle that “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
Right now I would settle for freedom’s extinction being as far away as a generation.
First class healthcare from Third World countries?
Some warn that the U.S. medical system is headed for Third World status under Obamacare. But in a way, such analysis gives Third World countries a bad name. Their medical systems deliver care at a much lower cost than the U.S. system. Despite our country’s leading research and technology advances, when it comes to delivering care, the U.S. is the most expensive and least efficient system in the world.
Quality varies around the world, but in most countries you’ll get what you pay for. If you can afford quality services, you’ll be able to obtain them – even in a country where most people are poor. For many types of medical procedures, the costs of traveling abroad can more than pay for themselves in terms of savings on the actual care itself. Your employer or insurer may even pick up the tab!
Medical travel is now a big industry. There are several travel agencies that specialize in medical tourism – some to particular countries or regions. For example, Guatemala Medical Travel (305-797-0540; http://guate- malamedicaltravel.com) has an office in Miami.
At top facilities throughout Central America, you can often obtain treatment from U.S.-trained physicians at a fraction of U.S. prices.
Despite Mexico’s reputation for unclean water and unsavory characters, parts of it can be like paradise for those who are middle class by U.S. standards. According to International Living (November 29, 2013), in Mexico, “On average, a visit to a doctor will cost $31 to $46. A house call will cost about the same. Lab tests will cost about a third of what they do in the U.S. A CAT scan often costs about 25% of what it does in the U.S. An overnight stay in a private hospital room generally costs about $80 to $100 and a visit to a dentist for cleaning costs about $24 to $40.”
Free Report as a Service to My Readers
For more ideas on where to go for treatment and how to stay safe, consult with a medical tourism specialist or Patients Beyond Borders (919-924-0636; www. patientsbeyondborders.com). We’ve also compiled our findings on medical tourism in a Special Report that’s available FREE this month to current Independent Living subscribers. Just email your request to our Customer Service address ([email protected] com) with “Medical Tourism” in the Subject line. That’s it!