Why Is The Government Buying Absurd Amounts Of Ammunition?

There have been many recent stories over the fact that the federal government has bought over two billion rounds of ammunition. That’s quite an absurdly large amount considering the White House has stated that this amount is necessary training and firearm qualifications. While on the surface, that is certainly a reasonable explanation for buying ammunition, it certainly doesn’t pass the smell test when it comes to the amount purchased.

This apparent incongruity between the amount of ammunition stockpiled and its stated use has led many to speculate if there is another purpose (or agenda) behind the ammunition purchases.  Some, including noted radio host Mark Levin have suggested that the ammunition stockpile is in anticipation of a financial collapse:

“I’m going to tell you what I think is going on,” Levin offered. “I don’t think domestic insurrection. Law enforcement and national security agencies, they play out multiple scenarios. … I’ll tell you what I think they’re simulating: the collapse of our financial system, the collapse of our society and the potential for widespread violence, looting, killing in the streets, because that’s what happens when an economy collapses.

“I suspect that just in case our fiscal situation, our monetary situation, collapses, and following it the civil society collapses, that is the rule of law, they want to be prepared,” Levin said. “I know why the government’s arming up: It’s not because there’s going to be an insurrection; it’s because our society is unraveling.”

Going even further, In the video below, Pat Robertson suggest the government is planning to use the ammunition on American citizens:

 While not out of the realm of possibility (I wouldn’t put much past the current administration), truth be told, I really don’t think that the government is planning on declaring a civil war and going around shooting “right-wing nut jobs” in the streets in order to further a socialist utopian pipe dream. Rather, I suspect something totally different is in play with all this ammunition being bought up in light of two current situations. First, one of the pet projects of the Left, namely gun control, is becoming less and less popular after the initial shock of the Sandy Hook tragedy has waned and more sensible heads have prevailed (one could argue that the ultimate goal of gun control is to prevent citizens from protecting themselves from government). Second, the current ammunition shortage brought about in part by the government purchases (while there is some stockpiling of ammunition by private citizens in anticipation of stricter gun laws being enacted, it is not at the level of the government stockpile, and is being hindered by same).

Taking the above into consideration, it seems to me that the current administration is attempting to implement gun control by doing an end run around the  2nd Amendment, and creating an artificially induced ammunition shortage. After all, a gun without a bullet is not very useful at all. I’ve long thought that a more effective means of disarming the population that gun control would be “bullet control,” and to my eyes, it looks like the government agrees. In this manner, they can mitigate their failure to pass more weapons bans by rendering lawfully purchased gun useless.

While certainly not as shocking as a potential war on Americans, I think that this explanation more reasonable in light of recent events, and certainly fits the administrations M.O. of trying to circumvent the law to obtain their desired outcome, regardless of what it costs to do so. However, I’m interested in what others think about the government ammunition stockpile, so I created a poll with the most common explanations. If you have another view, please let me know in the comments why you think the government is purchasing the ammo.

Something The President Could Learn From The Pope

obamahaloWell, there are quite a few somethings, really. There’s no doubt that there are many who see Obama as a savior-like figure who will deliver him or her from whatever perceived injustice “victimizes” him or her. However misplaced that perception may be (that’s the subject for another blog), there is a lesson the president could learn from the Vicar of Christ regarding humility, and frugality.

Recently, it has been reported that Pope Francis has made a decision to stay at the Saint Martha (Vatican workers’) residence, rather than at the papal apartment in the Apostolic Residence. Initially, the Pope was staying at Saint Martha’s due to renovations to the Residence, in addition to the fact that the Cardinal Electors were staying there during the conclave.

popeHowever, now that the renovations have been complete, and the Cardinals have moved out, the Pope has decided to stay at Casa Santa Marta for the forseeable future. Not that this is any shock. While Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the pope declined to stay at the Archbishops residence, and instead kept a small apartment and cooked for himself. He even relied on public transportation rather than having a limo and driver. While at the workers’ residence, the pope has already invited street sweepers, gardeners, and the Vatican staff to join him in his daily Mass.

This picture presents a vast contrast with President Obama over the last few months, and especially since the Fiscal Cliff, and sequestration were going to end the world. In that time, the Obamas have taken three vacations (four if you count the fact that one was “separate vacations” with Michelle and the girls skiing while Barack flew to Florida for some golf with Tiger Woods). Now of course, the president needs to take some time off, I’m not denying that; the presidency is probably the most stressful job in the world (just look at the before and after photos of the presidents), but these aren’t the George W. Bush/Ronald Reagan types of vacations where the president flies back home and clears some brush of his ranch. No, these are the full luxury, exotic and expensive type of vacations that cost the taxpayers lots of money.

As a run-down, the Obamas began the year in Hawaii for nine days and five rounds of golf; then over Washington’s Birthday, Michelle and the girls flew to Aspen for a ski trip, while the Duffer-in-Chief flew to Miami for more golf (and President Barack Obama greets professional gol...pointers) from Tiger Woods. Now, we hear that the Obama girls are in the Bahamas for a spring break vacation. I’m not going to speculate on the actual cost of these three vacations, but it’s not cheap to fire up Air Force One to jaunt over to Hawaii or even Florida. Then there is the cost of accommodations (say, didn’t VP Biden just spent $585,000 for one night in Paris?) and security. To put things in perspective, it cost $80,000 alone for police and Secret Service protection just for Obama’s golf weekend. One might have thought that Obama might have realized that the $80,000 expenditure alone would look bad in light of the decision to stop White House tours for a savings of $74,000 a week from the same Secret Service budget; but hey, as long as he gets to take those savings to exploit all the perks and trapping of his office, right?

Again, contrast this behavior with that of the Pope, who has eschewn all of the perks and trappings of his “office” to remain closer to “the people” in order to help spread the ministry of Christ. Perhaps if Obama had thought it necessary to get “closer to the people”, instead of flying down to Miami for some golf, he could have invited Tiger Woods up to D.C. for a weekend stay at the White House (not like Woods can’t afford it), and a few rounds of golf at one of the many nearby courses, perhaps even the “same golf course Obama and Republican Speaker John Boehner played on in 2011.” Nah, who am I kidding? It’s much more fun to go jet-setting across the country on the taxpayers’ dime all the while complaining about budget cuts that he passes along to the citizens anyway (such as no Easter Egg Roll- wait can I say Easter?–  in addition to no tours). It must be good to be the king…

Left And Right Extremists Fail To See Paul Ryan’s Win-Win Entitlement Reform

Excerpted from Forbes.com

The New York Times told its readers on March 12 that Paul Ryan’s proposed 2014 budget involves “eliminating Medicare’s guarantee to retirees” and “dispensing with Medicaid and food stamps….”  But Joe Farah, CEO of WND News, told his readers on March 15 that Ryan’s budget “fails to address unsustainable ‘entitlement’ programs.”  They cannot both be right.  But they can both be grievously wrong.

We hear a lot of talk about how Ryan’s proposed traditional budget is so “extreme.”  But it is these two comments that represent the extremes on the issue.  This kind of disconnected from reality rhetoric from both sides is what makes our democracy dysfunctional, unable to seriously discuss major issues.

A Better Medicaid for the Poor

Ryan’s proposals for Medicaid and food stamps would simply extend the proven, enormously successful, 1996 welfare reforms of the old AFDC program to those two programs.  The 1996 AFDC reforms returned the share of federal spending on AFDC to each state in the form of a “block grant” to be used in a new welfare program redesigned by the state based on mandatory work for the able bodied.  Like Medicaid, federal funding for AFDC previously was based on a matching formula, with the federal government giving more to each state the more it spent on the program, effectively paying the states to spend more.  The key to the 1996 reforms was that the block grants to each state were finite, not matching, so the federal funding did not vary with the amount the state spent.  If a state’s new program cost more, the state had to pay the extra costs itself.  If the program cost less, the state could keep the savings.  The reformed program was renamed Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).

The reform was shockingly successful, exceeding even the predictions of its most ardent supporters.  The old AFDC rolls were reduced by two-thirds nationwide, even more in states that pushed work most aggressively, as those formerly on the program went to work, or married someone who worked.

As a result, in real dollars total federal and state spending on TANF by 2006 was down 31% from AFDC spending in 1995, and down by more than half of what it would have been under prior trends.  At the same time, because of the resulting increased work by former welfare dependents, the incomes of the families formerly on the program rose by 25%, and poverty among those families plummeted.

Medicaid currently pays doctors and hospitals only 60% or less of costs for their health services to the poor.  Consequently, the poor on Medicaid face grave difficulties in finding doctors and hospitals that would serve them, and in obtaining timely and essential health care.  They suffer worse health outcomes as a result, including premature death.  Scott Gottlieb of the New York University School of Medicine writes in a March 10, 2011 commentary in the Wall Street Journal (“Medicaid Is Worse Than No Coverage at All”),  “In some states, they’ve cut reimbursements to providers so low that beneficiaries can’t find doctors willing to accept Medicaid.”

What the states could do under Ryan’s proposed reforms is shown by the example of Rhode Island, which received a broad waiver from federal Medicaid requirements in return for a fixed cap on federal financing for 5 years.  The state turned to managed care, competitive bidding by health care providers, and comprehensive case management by private insurers for those on Medicaid.  It shifted more long term care out of nursing homes to home and community-based care.

The Lewin Group, a top health care consulting firm, studied the reforms and concluded that they were “highly effective in controlling Medicaid costs” while improving “access to more appropriate services.”  Indeed, the state’s costs were reduced by nearly 30% in the first 18 months alone.  Yet the poor enjoyed assigned health providers to ensure they received essential care.

Alternatively, states could serve the poor by using the program to provide premium assistance that would help the poor to pay for the private health insurance of their choice in the marketplace.  Such premium support would free the poor from the Medicaid ghetto, enabling them to obtain the same health care as the middle class, because they would be able to buy the same health insurance in the market.  Such market health insurance has to pay the doctors and hospitals sufficiently to enable those with that insurance to obtain timely, effective health care, or their insurance would have no customers.

This would be an enormous gain for the poor.  Yet, CBO scores extending these same reforms to Medicaid as saving $750 billion over 10 years.  That is why it involves win win entitlement reform.

The poor would similarly gain from extending these same reforms to food stamps, just as they gained from the reforms of AFDC, with similar savings for taxpayers.  This cannot remotely be characterized as “dispensing with Medicaid and food stamps,” as the esteemed New York Times tells us.  The Times these days reads like a college Marxist student newspaper.

Continue Reading…

Did The Continuing Resolution Just Put Business Above The Law?

Genetically modified food (or GMOs) is a hot button topic for many people, and Monsanto (the company the owns/produces about 90% of the GMO seeds) is a favorite of conspiract theorists. However, the topic has been thrust somewhat in the spotlight with the passing of the continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through September, 2013. Specifically, as it relates to the “Monsanto/Biotech Rider” (as it is known in the anti-GMO/conspiracy circles. Specifically, the contention is that a section of the “Farmer Assurance Provision” in the CR basically puts Monsanto above the law by giving the company immunity from federal court action if one of their GMOs are found to be endangering the public or environment, or found to have been planted illegally. In other words, it “would strip judges of their constitutional mandate to protect consumer rights and the environment, while opening up the floodgates for the planting of new untested genetically engineered crops, endangering farmers, consumers and the environment.”

Now I’ll admit, conspiracy theories are a guilty pleasure of mine, mostly in the form of talk radio programs that specialize in the topic. Rarely, do I take them seriously, but it’s fun to listen to the so-called “fringe” on a particular topic, and ever now and then some have a kernel of truth. So when I heard about this one, I decided to do a little investigation of my own; not that I have any particular beef with GMOs (although I’m not opposed to them being labeled as such, nor do I have any particular beef with Monsanto (although they have been known to be corporate bullies toward small family farms) to see if there is any truth to the claims – let’s face it, it would be a big problem if it were true.

The first thing I noticed when searching for information on this “Monsanto Rider” is that there are a lot of websites linking to each other, saying basically the same thing, and citing the other similar sites as sources. Basically, they’re all saying the same thing without linking to the actual language of the rider – typically a bad sign for the truth. So I looked up the provision in question, Section 735 of H.R. 933 (the continuing resolution):

Sec. 735. In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements, including measures designed to mitigate or minimize potential adverse environmental effects, if any, relevant to the Secretary’s evaluation of the petition for non-regulated status, while ensuring that growers or other users are able to move, plant, cultivate, introduce into commerce and carry out other authorized activities in a timely manner: Provided, That all such conditions shall be applicable only for the interim period necessary for the Secretary to complete any required analyses or consultations related to the petition for non-regulated status: Provided further, That nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the Secretary’s authority under section 411, 412 and 414 of the Plant Protection Act.

Ok, I’m not a lawyer, and this is a lot of legalese, but it specifically references Section 411(a) of the Plant Protection Act:

SEC. 411 A. PETITION TO DETERMINE ORGANISM NOT A PLANT PEST.

a) PETITION.—A person may petition the Secretary for a determination that an organism that is subject to regulation by the Secretary as a plant pest under this Act is not a plant pest for purposes of this Act.

Also, Section 412(c) is also referenced:

SEC. 412. REGULATION OF MOVEMENT OF PLANTS, PLANT PRODUCTS, BIOLOGICAL CONTROL ORGANISMS, NOXIOUS WEEDS, ARTICLES, AND MEANS OF CONVEYANCE.

 (c) REGULATIONS.—The Secretary may issue regulations to implement subsection (a), including regulations requiring that any plant, plant product, biological control organism, noxious weed, article, or means of conveyance imported, entered, to be exported, or moved in interstate commerce—

(1) be accompanied by a permit issued by the Secretary prior to the importation, entry, exportation, or movement in interstate commerce;

(2) be accompanied by a certificate of inspection issued (in a manner and form required by the Secretary) by appropriate officials of the country or State from which the plant, plant product, biological control organism, noxious weed, article, or means of conveyance is to be moved;

 (3) be subject to remedial measures the Secretary determines to be necessary to prevent the spread of plant pests or noxious weeds; and 

(4) with respect to plants or biological control organisms, be grown or handled under post-entry quarantine conditions by or under the supervision of the Secretary for the purposes of determining whether the plant or biological control organism may be infested with plant pests or may be a plant pest or noxious weed.

 So there it all is. Clear as mud? Yeah, to me too. From what I can understand, the “Monsanto Rider” seems to be saying that if it someone petitions the Secretary of Agriculture to remove a plant from regulation (having a “plant pest” status) and the petition is granted; if that petition is later found to be invalid (presumably by a court or federal judge) based on harm it is doing on people or the environment, “a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer” can be granted a permit by the Secretary of Agriculture to continue to produce, transport and cultivate the plant while the Secretary make a determination regarding the status of the plant in question (whether it should be regulated or not).

What’s interesting to me is why such non-spending issues should be included in a spending bill, especially one considered a “must-pass” bill in order to keep the government funded (that’s a whole different story). Oddly, it is unclear how the rider got included in the CR (no one is claiming responsibility), but there is some indication that it was at the request of Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR). Predictably, he’s not responding to requests regarding his role in the issue

Again, I’m not a lawyer, so all the “notwithstanding provisions to the contrary” talk sometimes throws me a bit. However, there is no specific mention of Monsanto, but one can see how it would apply to the company and their GMOs. In looking at the language, though, I get the sense that it may have more to do with disrupting the production of food, if some activist is able to find a judge to order an injunction against a GMO on weak evidence (or if they find an activist judge).

Although I do see the potential for abuse, if say there looks to be some link between a specific plant and cancer, for instance. This rider would allow the company/farmer to continue to produce that plant, even if a court ordered an injunction against it. I think this is from where the over-the top conspiracy theories may be springing…and maybe for good reason. Even Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), who sponsored an amendment to remove the rider from the CR (that was ultimately not voted on) thinks there is a big problem with the rider:

“The provision says that when a judge finds that the USDA approved a crop illegally, the department must re-approve the crop and allow it to continue to be planted regardless of what the judge says. Think about that.”

Tester went on to say that the provision ignores separation of powers in the Constitution and “also lets genetically modified crops take hold across the country even when a judge finds it violates the law.”

 That’s a pretty bad worst case scenario. I’ll admit that I’m nowhere near the circle of those drafting these provisions, so I don’t know what they had in mind when crafting the language. Although, at the very least, it appears that this is a classic case of a slippery slope in potentially giving a company immunity from injunctions ordered by federal courts.

Say, The White House Wasn’t Kidding About That Memo

Remember about three weeks ago when an internal government memo directing employees to make the sequestration “cuts” as painful as possible was discovered? That specific memo was directed towards the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and specified that “… it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be.” The impact of course, was that funding for fish inspections would have to be cut; therefore, rather than finding other ways to cut the budget in order to eliminate the impact on food inspection, the agency was directed to cut the funding regardless.

One would think that given the backlash the administration received when the memo was released (not to mention for the general good of The Reagans at the 1982 White House Easter Egg...the country), that strategy would be walked back. Unfortunately, with the President Petulant running the administration, that hasn’t been the case, and it seems like they’ve ratcheted up on making the budget cuts “as panful as possible.”  Not only have tours of the White House been canceled, it looks like the traditional White House Easter Egg Roll will also be a sequestration “casualty.”

While these events are certainly traditional and it is a shame that they have/may be canceled, to be fair, they don’t really affect public safety. However, as Jazz Shaw notes over at Hot Air, it looks like an issue directly relating to public safety is the latest pawn in the White House strategy: namely, the closing of 149 region airport control towers. Given that the “cuts” amount to a little more than $600 million of a $62 billion budget, he wonders if there’s not something afoot with the closures:

They need to cut $637M out of their budget, but how big is that budget? And how big of a percentage would you need to slash before you just start shutting down towers? Doug Mataconis thinks there might be a little more to see here than just red and black numbers on a balance sheet. Could it be… politics?

In fact, Jazz thinks that there could be even more in play than making the “cuts” painful:

I’m not doubting that for a moment, but somehow I think there’s yet another layer to this onion. It’s not just the number of towers being shut down, but which specific ones. And more to the point… who works there. When you scan down the list of closures, these are all towers which are managed and staffed by private contractors. Not one of them is staffed up by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association union. That’s something of a remarkable coincidence, isn’t it? Maybe not.

The union workers will be forced to take off one day without pay every two weeks, which spreads the pain around a little but their jobs and their towers aren’t going away. And leave it to public sector unions to find a way to wring a silver (or green) lining out of any dark cloud. Assume there is some sort of public outcry this year after a couple of regional jets clip wings on the runways of some municipal airports. At that point, Washington gets the excuse they need to staff at least some of the towers back up. Will they go back to the private contractors, or will the unions move in with their “much more efficient” practices.

bidenfingers

I only spent THIS much

Playing politics with the welfare of the nation and economy, and advancing the cause of union power. More standard operating procedure from the Juvenile in Chief. In a rational world, one might think that if the president was more interested in making the cuts work and rolling back government spending (as he is want to pay lip service to), he could start by looking into that $585,000 hotel bill Joe Biden and entourage racked up for a one night stay in Paris in February (more than$1 million including his London stay).

Yeah, who am I kidding? They’re more interested in trying to destroy Republicans than doing what’s best for the nation.

More Shamelessness From Harry “No Budget” Reid

Sadly, my family lost one of our own yesterday in the accident at Hawthorne. A brave young man who served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. While I wish to hold politicians accountable for their words and actions regarding this tragedy, I do not want to overly politicize or even publicize my thoughts out of respect for his Mother, Father and immediately family (he was a cousin).

This blog, courtesy of John Galt/YouViewed.com is an excellent summary of the event, as well as Harry Reid’s despicable politicization of the event.

Allahpundit also shares his take on the events over at Hot Air.

YouViewed/Editorial

HARRY REID LINKS MARINE DEATHS TO SEQUESTRATION

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Think the desperate Democrats trying to punish America for daring to inflict a two-percent reduction upon their spending plans couldn’t sink any lower?  Think again.

On Monday, a 60mm mortar exploded during live-fire training at Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada, killing seven Marines and wounding several others.  Fox News reports the Corps is investigating the cause of the explosion:

The Marines immediately issued an indefinite moratorium on firing of all such mortars worldwide until an investigation clears as safe the type of weapon and ammunition in the tragedy. The moratorium could last for weeks or months.”

 

Reid plays politics with tragedy :

 

” Mr. President, it’s very important we continue training our military, so important.But one of the things in sequester is we cut back in training and maintenance. That’s the way…

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