Bloomberg Losing Out in His War Against Guns
by JBS President John F. McManus
Michael Bloomberg is a very wealthy man, possibly among the top ten richest in the United States. And all indications are that he made his money legitimately. Success in the business world spurred him to seek similar victories in the worlds of politics and controversial causes.
In 2001, he spent a generous portion of his wealth to win election as Mayor of New York City, a post he then held for 12 full years. A Democrat as a younger man, he announced a switch to Republican for his first run at the office, a narrow victory that cost him $74 million. Midway through his second four-year term, he bolted out of the GOP and registered as an Independent. He then successfully campaigned to change the city’s term limits law so he could win a third four-year term.
The Bloomberg agenda, no matter what label he attached to himself, has always featured such strikingly liberal causes as global warming, abortion, same-sex marriage, amnesty for illegal immigrants, the United Nations, etc. But perhaps his most ardent interest has been in the arena of gun control. It is here where he has been a monumental failure, even a bit of an albatross for others who also don’t like the idea of people being armed.
In 2006, Bloomberg joined with Boston Mayor Tom Menino and 15 other mayors to form Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG). Soon, there were over a thousand mayors and former mayors lending their names to the campaign that initially opposed “illegal” gun ownership but soon drifted into calling for some form of control. In a recent move that gained a bit of publicity, Poughkeepsie, New York Mayor John Tkazyik resigned from MAIG precisely because the group was now targeting the legal weaponry of law-abiding citizens. Mayor Tkazyik is one of more than 50 mayors who have quit the Bloomberg-Menino group during the past twelve months.
While still in office, Bloomberg injected his presence and his money into a recall effort in Colorado where two Democrat state senators were eventually run out of office because they had backed stricter gun laws. Colorado has had its share of mass killings starting with the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999, and where a mentally deranged college student shot up a movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora in 2012. Bloomberg’s $350,000 attempt to save the jobs of the two Democrats occurred in the wake of the mass killings in Newtown, Connecticut. Many Coloradans voiced their displeasure at New York’s mayor spending his money to back gun grabbers. They believe that armed citizens could have lessened the death toll, even prevented it, in each of the Colorado tragedies.
Only weeks ago and now out of office, Bloomberg pledged a whopping $50 million for a new campaign labeled “Everytown for Gun Safety.” Teaming up with “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America,” the new venture claims to be no threat to legal gun owners. But Moms, begun in 2012 by former Indianapolis communications executive Shannon Watts actually began with a slogan stating “One Million Moms for Gun Control” [emphasis added].
At last week’s annual NRA meeting held in Indianapolis, group officials welcomed over 7,000 attendees and showed them a new 40-second video acknowledging the Bloomberg plan to spend his millions against their wishes. “He’s one guy with millions,” states an unidentified NRA member in the program but “we’re millions with our 25 bucks. Let’s see who crushes who.” The video shows several more pledging their $25, the cost for annual membership dues. A much smaller gathering of less than 100 led by Moms founder Watts rallied on North Meridian Street, a few blocks away from the hall where the NRA’s thousands were meeting.
Michael Bloomberg notwithstanding, the American people continue to maintain their right to keep and bear arms.
Power of Labor Unions Spirals Downward
by JBS President John F. McManus
It looked as though the United Auto Workers had everything going its way in February. Workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga were expected to vote for the union to represent them. Once that victory had been achieved, similar campaigns to enlist auto workers at the Daimler-Benz plant in Alabama and the BMW plant in South Carolina would be taken from the drawing board and put into action. Also, the company officials at the Chattanooga plant had refrained from opposing the unionization effort.
But when the votes were counted, it turned out that the UAW’s hopes were dashed by a vote of 712 to 626. Stunned union officials immediately demanded a new election, claiming undue influence against their effort had been generated by Tennessee lawmakers. But now, even that demand has been withdrawn. And the solid financial and organizational support for left-wing Democratic politicians that has always been part of UAW operations suffered another setback.
In recent years, auto companies have built new plants in U.S. southern states precisely to escape compulsory unionization laws in the northern states. Everywhere, the UAW’s clout has waned, even in Michigan where its headquarters sits. In 1979, UAW membership exceeded 1.5 million workers; that number has shrunk to less than 400,000 today. Scores of local branches of the once-giant labor organization have been closed. Rather than just auto workers, the UAW has turned for new members to left-wing media outlets like the journalists at Mother Jones magazine, and then to Sierra Club employees and university student workers. Still, UAW’s once-impressive numbers continue to decline.
There’s nothing wrong with workers voluntarily gathering together in a labor union. But a problem exists when membership is compulsory — as it is when a union gains approval by a majority of workers, the procedure in place in about half of the 50 states. Excessive demands by unions have forced some companies to close their doors, others to flee to southern states. Union clout generally, not just that of the UAW, has declined across the nation.
Always a reliable backer of left-wing and Democratic Party causes (such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society), the UAW could regularly be counted on to throw its financial and organizational muscle behind Democratic candidates at all levels. But the days of its enormous influence are far behind us now, and even though the UAW will still be a player in many races, it will not be near the potent force it once was.
UAW officials are now faced with the choice of accepting the wishes of the Chattanooga majority or filing for a new election that could be held as early as next February. Meanwhile they are licking their wounds and wondering what the future might be for their organization and for all the left-wing causes and politicians they have always supported.
The Case for Original Intent
by JBS President John F. McManus
Only recently, a matter before the Supreme Court dwelled on what are called “recess appointments.” In the Constitution’s Article II, Section 3, the President is authorized to “fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate.” That is, without approval of the appointment by two-thirds of the Senate. The ordinary procedure in making appointments (for cabinet posts, federal judgeships, etc.) requires Senate confirmation. But if the Senate is in “recess,” the President can name individuals to serve in many high government posts temporarily. However, the Constitution states further that such appointments will “expire” when the Senate reconvenes.
During the period in question, even though the Senate had not been conducting normal business, a few senators had been avoiding a formal recess by holding what are termed “pro forma” sessions. These are brief gatherings of only a few minutes that accomplish nothing of note except that they do avoid establishing a recess. President Obama wanted some recess appointments to be declared “approved,” but some members of the Senate maintained that their body was still in session even if only “pro-forma.” The Supreme Court will decide.
While commenting on this matter, however, Justice Stephen Breyer weighed in as follows: “Over time, language in the Constitution takes on a somewhat different meaning.” He obviously believes that the Constitution evolves; that its meaning is not what was set down originally; and that new meanings of words can be applied when needed. If such an attitude prevails, one can wonder why anyone would ever want to rely on any written document.
Soon after he took office in 1801, Thomas Jefferson commented on this very point. He stated:
The Constitution on which our Union rests shall be administered by me according to the safe and honest meaning contemplated by the plain understanding of the people of the United States at the time of its adoption….
In other words, he upheld what is termed “original intent,” something that anyone who enters into a contract would rely on today. If a legitimate contract can be altered by one of its parties claiming that the meaning of its words has changed, then there is no real contract and somebody is being defrauded. So too is the Constitution a contract between the government and the people.
Jefferson expounded further on the importance of original intent when he urged that the meaning of the words in the Constitution should never be open to alteration. He cautioned against the very attitude expressed by Justice Breyer (who is not alone in holding such a view) when he wrote that “instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, [all should] conform to the probable one in which it was passed.”
The Breyer attitude leads us to a government of men and away from a government of law. Unfortunately, the man-centered style of government has increasingly prevailed in our nation. Understanding this is far more important than how the Supreme Court will ultimately rule regarding recess appointments. Original intent is the only way any law, or any contract, should be considered.
Covering Over Islam’s Treatment of Women
by JBS President John F. McManus
Ayaan Hirsi Ali hails from Somalia. As a youngster, she endured the kind of treatment many female Muslims are forced to endure. Genital mutilation, forced marriage, and severe punishment for honor crimes are common in lands dominated by Islam. She eventually fled her home country and, with a sizeable group of other women who had left their homelands for similar reasons, participated in the making of a film entitled “Honor Diaries.”Hirsi Ali rose to win election to the Dutch parliament. While living in Holland, she wrote the screenplay for “Honor Diaries” and then saw her colleague, the film’s producer, murdered. Even though the film includes respect for moderate Islam, she received threats that she too would be assassinated so she fled her adopted country. Her 2010 book, “Nomad: My Journey from Islam to America” contributed further to creating awareness about the extremes practiced on women by well-entrenched Islamists. She is now a fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School and holds similar status with the American Enterprise Institute.
An outspoken foe of the extremely harsh treatment accorded women and girls in Muslim-dominated societies, Hirsi Ali accepted an invitation to receive an honorary degree from Brandeis University, a non-sectarian Jewish-sponsored institution in Massachusetts. Her work as a crusader for women’s civil rights seemed worthy of special acknowledgement by Brandeis officials. But the U.S.-based Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) thought otherwise and successfully stirred up resistance to the plan on the campus. The invitation was withdrawn. Of note is the fact that this brave woman doesn’t completely condemn the religion in which she was raised, only its extreme practices. Her urging that there be alterations in the Koran to reflect more modern values regarding women surely upset the more militant elements within the Muslim religion.
As a supposed champion of civil rights, especially women’s rights, Brandeis leaders would likely have been wiser to have scheduled a debate in which Hirsi Ali could have merely participated. But perhaps even that would have stirred up CAIR and likeminded Islamists. Ironically, the cancellation of her appearance and the withdrawal of the honorary degree have generated far more attention to the cause she represents than the scheduled visit to Brandeis. The Wall Street Journal even published the speech she intended to deliver.
We hear a great deal about the need for devoting attention to women’s rights but not much at all about Muslim treatment of females. Feminists across the land who should have been revolted by the treatment given Hirsi Ali and other women in Muslim lands have almost universally remained silent. All of which confirms that fear of retaliation to any amount of criticism of Islam exists here in America. This is certainly not good. If Catholics, fundamental Bible believers, and others can be criticized when a need for condemnation about deficiencies is obvious, the obvious inhumane practices within Islam shouldn’t be ignored.
Oil, Ukraine, and a Sweet Deal for Putin
by JBS President John F. McManus
The Bakken energy field amounts to the largest domestic oil discovery since the one at Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay. Stretching over North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana (also into Canada’s Saskatchewan province), the amount of recoverable oil in this region could do away with any need to import the precious commodity. Small cities in western North Dakota have been overrun with eager job seekers who are benefitting greatly from the need for more and more workers. But there’s a need for a pipeline to transport this oil to refineries in states to the south.
Not only is the Bakken capable of releasing OPEC’s hold on our nation, additional discoveries now known to exist under the Rocky Mountain states hold an estimated three to four times what is being tapped in North Dakota and its neighbors. Shortly after beginning his second term in 2005, President George W. Bush gave the order for extracting this treasure. But nothing has been done.
The Keystone pipeline project proposes to ship crude oil from the Bakken and from Canadian oil sands projects to refineries in our nation’s southern states. But hurdles are still blocking its construction. If the Keystone pipeline were constructed, there would be no need for imports from unfriendly Venezuela and unpredictable Russia.. Yes, our nation does import oil from these two countries while also continuing to receive imports from the Middle East.
Environmental groups continue to block development of known resources and needed pipelines. Is it possible that nations who benefit financially and diplomatically from impediments placed in the way of energy independence are financing some of these environmental organizations? Also, why does our own government continue to be a hindrance rather than helping America to become independent?
On the other side of the globe, we see that energy starved Ukraine is highly dependent on Russia for natural gas. But Ukraine is also in dire financial straits, owing many billions for energy already received from its eastern neighbor. American foreign aid, supplied to Ukraine in response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, ends up in the coffers of Russia’s Vladimir Putin for natural gas payments. Is this why he ordered the occupation of Crimea? Should the American people fill Putin’s pockets?
The need for oil and natural gas is obvious. But, if our nation acts in proper self-interest, America can gain release from dependence on foreign energy suppliers. Will the Obama administration continue to drag its feet on energy matters? Will the environmentalists be told to get out of the way of progress toward energy independence? Time will tell. Energy independence can be had if U.S. leaders do what good sense calls upon them to do.
New Taxes in ObamaCare
by JBS President John F. McManus
There are plenty of sound reasons why Congress and the Supreme Court should never have saddled the American people with ObamaCare. Beyond the simple fact that the federal government has no authorization to meddle in the fields of health and medicine, Senator David Vitter (R-La.) has provided several more reasons to detest the law.
He deliberately chose the widely dreaded Tax Day of April 15 to send a letter to his constituents about new taxes contained within President Obama’s invasion into the field of medical care. The Louisiana senator stated his awareness that April 15th “is always one of the most painful days of the year.” But he wanted to let fellow Louisianans know that ObamaCare has “20 new taxes.”
Pointing to what he termed “the more egregious” levies contained in ObamaCare,” Vitter listed only four of the twenty. These are:
- The Medicine Cabinet Tax. ObamaCare does away with a citizen’s use of pre-tax dollars in a health savings account, a flexible spending account, or a health reimbursement account to purchase over-the-counter medicines.
- The “Special Needs Kids” Tax. Many parents of special needs children have relied on allowable flexible spending accounts to pay for special needs education. The amount a family can use for this purpose has been cut significantly.
- The Employee Mandate Tax. Employers who do not offer health care coverage must now pay $2,000 or more for each full-time employee.
- The Individual Mandate Tax. Any person who does not have health insurance and doesn’t participate in ObamaCare will be taxed.
As painful as it may be to learn of these new taxes, Vitter then pointed to the outrageous arrangement whereby members of Congress have exempted themselves and their staffs from participating in the new healthcare program. Instead, as he noted, each of these federal employees receives a “lucrative health care subsidy” with which to purchase his own healthcare program. Obviously, these privileged government personnel don’t have to live under the provisions of ObamaCare. Vitter notes in his message that he has personally refused the subsidy.
The Vitter letter contains his no-holds-barred assertion that there’s a need to “repeal” ObamaCare. It’s comforting to know that a U.S. senator holds such a view because that’s precisely what is needed. But expecting the current Congress to take such a step is unrealistic. Perhaps membership of the new Congress scheduled for election in November will contain enough Vitter-like individuals who will, indeed, cancel one of the most dangerous, costly, and unconstitutional programs ever created.
Go to our “Choose Freedom — STOP ObamaCare” action project page to learn more about stopping ObamaCare and how your state legislature can nullify the ObamaCare law in your state.
Destroying Wealth and Curtailing Freedom: Time to Reclaim America
by JBS President John F. McManus
How often have you heard someone claim, “America is a wealthy nation”? Such a declaration is usually followed by demands that our nation solve the entire world’s problems, bail out a host of other nations whose leaders are known miscreants, and even police the world while the hidden beneficiary of lost American blood and treasure turns out to be the United Nations.
The insistence that America is wealthy omits both a definition of “wealth” and any correct awareness of how the American people succeeded where so many others haven’t. So let’s correct these deficiencies by first insisting that America became wealthy, not because of what government did but because of what government was prevented from doing by the limitations on it imposed in the U.S. Constitution. Also, add the system that has states in peaceful competition to be the best state, the one where people would want to raise a family, create a business, and produce wealth. There you have the two extremely beneficial foundations propelling America to become the envy of mankind.
Next, let’s offer wealth’s definition. It doesn’t consist of a pile of documents (stocks, bonds, titles of ownership, etc.). Wealth results from productivity, the taking of the raw materials of the earth and fashioning them into goods. This means creation of wealth relies on manufacturing, farming, and mining. Whatever impedes these tasks impedes the nation’s wealth.
Both of these foundations of America’s unparalleled success are under severe attack. The national government, supposedly restrained by the Constitution to “few and defined” powers according to James Madison, now constrains wealth production with an array of costly, unnecessary and unconstitutional regulations, edicts, and dictates. Then, of course, there are taxes to pay for the growing bureaucracy and the foreign adventures. All of this has led to what is called “outsourcing” that sees closed factories and loss of jobs. How many jobs have disappeared? Since the passage of NAFTA in 1994, estimates vary from one million (cited by the Public Citizen organization) to five million (attributed to the Congressional Research Service). And increasingly, the general public has been steered toward a belief that the remaining producers of wealth are thieves, enslavers of workers, and mere money-grubbing cretins.
Any honest surveyor of these developments has to conclude that NAFTA (the pact involving Canada, Mexico and the U.S.) has been a disaster for our country. So what have our leaders proposed? Even larger and surely more harmful trade agreements, one with the 28 formerly independent nations now entangled in the European Union (the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP) and the other with a dozen Pacific nations (the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP). If Congress approves these pacts, expect even more outsourcing, job losses, and declining wealth production. Click here to communicate this to Congress.
Is this sheer stupidity? It is madness? Or is it sinister planning? Since our leaders are neither stupid nor deranged, the undeniable results should be credited with wanting to see America’s decline. Why? To build a world government more commonly known as the New World Order.
No world government can exist if once-free nations aren’t similarly brought to heel and once-free people become forced downward economically. Nothing else makes sense.
America still has its Constitution. And Americans, despite government interference in so many ways, are still producing some wealth. But the goose that laid the golden egg has been scheduled for the guillotine. Will still free Americans resist and reclaim their hard-won legacy? That’s the big question.
The John Birch Society provides such an outlet for concerned Americans to organize, educate, and reclaim its founding principles. Join today to get started!
Why No Condemnations of Soviet Criminals?
by JBS President John F. McManus
Twenty years ago, more than 800,000 members of Rwanda’s Tutsi tribe were systematically murdered during a mere 100 days by members of the dominant Hutus. In the years since that hard-to-believe massacre, there have been several thousand trials and convictions – as there should have been. Amazingly, Hutus and Tutsis now live side-by-side in relative calm.
In Spain, claims by some left-leaning individuals who insist that they were tortured by government police during the 1970s are being investigated by today’s authorities. But not much attention is being directed at the murders committed by the communist left during the 1936-9 Spanish Civil War.
Both in Europe and America, headline-grabbing attention has been directed to apprehensions and prosecutions of 90-year-old German ex-corporals who served during World War II. These individuals face being tracked down and tried for their roles in the horrors perpetrated in Nazi concentration camps.
Justice, however late, seems to be winning. But what about the many other criminals who enslaved millions and ruled with incredible brutality during most of the 20th century? What about those responsible for undeniable atrocities committed by communists?
After the Soviet Union imploded and after the Chinese Communist leaders diverted their attention to out-producing the West, why wasn’t attention given to those communist leaders who were responsible for mass murders, widespread imprisonment in gulags and worse, and across-the-board denial of fundamental rights? The answer is that communist designs for mankind – under whatever name now covering their deeds – are still triumphing.
Consider some of the history of Mikhail Gorbachev. A life-long Communist Party functionary who has never renounced his oft-stated devotion to communism, he rose steadily in the Party to become its leader in 1985. He and his many colleagues should have been held accountable for the crimes perpetrated on the people in many Soviet bloc nations of Europe and Asia. As a member of the ruling Politburo and then absolute leader of the USSR, he shares much of the blame for the decade-long rape of Afghanistan (1979-1989) that led to the deaths of more than one million Afghans and the uprooting of more than six million more. Among the many crimes committed by the Soviet forces under Gorbachev, perhaps the worst was the spreading of booby-trapped toys that exploded when picked up by innocent children who were immediately maimed or killed.
Gorbachev, however, was converted into a humanitarian, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990, given the distinct honor of speaking before assembled members of the U.S. Congress, and feted worldwide. Converted into a champion of environmental causes, this arch-criminal should have at the very least been shunned by honorable people everywhere.
Gorbachev isn’t alone among Soviet-era criminals deserving of ostracism or prosecution. Sadly, hardly any have been held accountable. We live in a world where establishment thinking has made heroes out of criminals and criminals out of heroes. It’s not difficult to conclude that the wrong side is winning and that evil is triumphing.
Making the Case for Higher Inflation? Krugman’s Cockamamie Economics
by JBS President John F. McManus
A correct definition of inflation, something increasingly hard to find, appeared in “Webster’s New 20th Century Unabridged Dictionary (1957)”. It said that inflation is “an increase in the amount of currency in circulation, resulting in a relatively sharp and sudden fall in its value and rise in prices.” Note that what is inflated is the amount of currency. The effect of inflating the amount of currency is a rise in how much more of the less-valuable currency is needed to purchase anything.
In 1920, in a burst of youthful honesty, British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote a book entitled “Economic Consequences of the Peace.” In it, he correctly identified inflation as an increase in the amount of currency and then summarized, “By a continuous process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens …. The process engages all of the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner that not one man in a million can diagnose.” Here we see that inflation constitutes thievery by government. Keynes, however, didn’t stand firmly by his correct 1920 attitude. His later twisted thinking greatly influenced President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the socialistic New Deal of the 1930s.
Jump ahead to 1946 and the publication of economist Henry Hazlitt’s book “Economics in One Lesson.” It presents the absolutely correct definition of inflation. A prominent columnist whose work appeared regularly in Newsweek and other publications, Hazlitt minced no words when he wrote that inflation “tears apart the whole fabric of stable economic relationships. Its inexcusable injustices drive men toward desperate remedies. It plants the seeds of fascism and communism. It leads men to demand totalitarian controls.” The correctness of his dire forecasts was demonstrated in recent years as inflation ravaged Zimbabwe, Argentina and elsewhere. Hazlitt’s warnings should have been heeded in our country but they haven’t been listened to by most Americans. In our nation, inflation (courtesy of the Federal Reserve and a compliant Congress) continues to erode the value of everyone’s dollars.
Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman writes about economic matters for the New York Times. On April 7th, without ever defining inflation, he told readers that more inflation is needed. He proposed a “compelling case for raising inflation targets above 2 percent.” In presenting “the case for higher inflation” he stated that “moderate inflation turns out to serve several useful purposes.” Not only did he rely on the false notion that inflation’s definition is rising prices, he proposed that America needs those prices to rise even higher.
No, Mr. Krugman. America needs honest money whose value can’t be manipulated by government, the Federal Reserve, or even by Nobel Prize winners. Americans also need a correct definition of inflation, not a confusing mishmash of highbrow economic verbiage that cloaks the real truth about thievery, solves no problems, and destroys the people’s wealth – in their paychecks, savings, pensions, insurance policies, investments, etc. The value of all dollars continues to sink, something every supermarket shopper experiences week to week and wonders why. The cause is inflation and its continuing toleration by a government that allows the Federal Reserve to produce a continuous stream of freshly created cash.
Could the people of our nation become desperate and “demand totalitarian controls” as Henry Hazlitt soberly suggested? The answer is obvious. But Paul Krugman doesn’t tell Americans what they need to know. Without the truth about inflation, the people will continue to worry about their future, maybe even begin to “demand totalitarian controls.”
Mr. McManus has written “Dollars & $ense,” a booklet explaining solutions to the economic meltdown.