Free Markets, Free People

Diane Feinstein

Feinstein’s assault weapons ban will not be in final Senate bill

Emily Miller, writing in the Washington Times, reports:

Gun control efforts on the nation level lost a major battle when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a bereft Sen. Dianne Feinstein Monday that her so-called assault weapon ban bill was getting pulled from the gun package coming to the floor next month. Her legislation, which passed the SenateJudiciary Committee last week by a straight party line vote, is the only one of the four gun-related bills that passed out of committee that Mr. Reid axed.

Mrs. Feinstein insists she will not be ignored. The California Democrat plans to bring two amendments up during the gun votes — to ban firearms that have one cosmetic feature that makes them resembles military weapon and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Mr. Reid said Tuesday that “her amendment, using the most optimistic numbers, has less than 40 votes — that’s not 60.”

However, Mr. Reid’s calculation was really less about vote counting and more about keeping the majority in the upper chamber.

“The Democrats know that Feinstein’s ‘assault weapon’ ban is suicide at the polls for them come 2014,” Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation told me Tuesday. “It is so extreme that even the Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn’t want it as part of their package.”

So ‘whoohoo’, huh?  Yeah, sort of, but Miller entitles her piece “RIP national assault weapons ban”.  RIP?  Hardly.  If you think Democrats, or at least Feinstein, are going to quit on this, you’re wrong.  Just consider how long they pushed for government mandated health care.  The fact that they couldn’t muster 40 votes in the Senate is, to those who would take your guns, another temporary setback.  Despite the fact that studies have shown no positive link a decline in gun violence and the last assault weapon’s ban, they’ll continue to try.  Trust me on that.  This isn’t about safety, it’s about controlt:

Mrs. Feinstein insists she will not be ignored. The California Democrat plans to bring two amendments up during the gun votes — to ban firearms that have one cosmetic feature that makes them resembles military weapon and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

Right now Democratic Senators are reading the electoral tea leaves and know that such a vote, at least for those in states where their seat isn’t safe, is electoral poison.  As soon as they see or feel that the electorate’s opinion has shifted, they’ll gladly vote for such a ban.  The lack of votes isn’t about principle, it’s about keeping their jobs.

“The Democrats know that Feinstein’s ‘assault weapon’ ban is suicide at the polls for them come 2014,” Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation told me Tuesday. “It is so extreme that even the Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn’t want it as part of their package.”

Mr. Obama does, of course. And so they’ll continue to try.  And they’ll use the incremental approach instead.

And there’s something else to consider here – the politics of the Reid move.  He’s taken the step of removing the most controversial parts of the gun control attempt.  But there’s still more for the Senate to consider.  And Reid is trying to use his removal of the “extreme” parts to demand a corresponding move (i.e. “compromise”) from the GOP in support of what’s left.

The background check bill is the most contentious of those three, and lawmakers are still working behind the scenes to find a compromise that can garner 60 votes in the chamber.

Sen. Joe Manchin III, a West Virginia Democrat who has been trying to work out a compromise, said Tuesday he was optimistic on that front.

“I’m still working very hard, and hopefully reasonable people will look at reasonable proposals and something will happen,” he said.

And what would that compromise bring?

Currently, all sales by licensed firearms dealers must go through background checks, but transactions between private individuals do not. Lawmakers are looking for a way to extend checks to almost all transactions without also creating a record-keeping system that gun rights supporters fear could turn into a gun registry.

How could it not turn into a defacto“gun registry”?

And who wants to bet that some GOP Senators end up supporting it?

~McQ

Senate seeks to have federal government control private health care premiums

Apparently the fear of increased premiums in reaction to the new Health Care Reform law recently passed by Congress is prompting Senate Democrats to propose a bill that would
give the federal government the power to regulate health insurance premiums.

Of course, you never saw this coming, right?

It appears our overlords simply do not trust those greedy insurance companies to not raise their premiums in reaction to the new law.  Or as Sen Tom Harkin explains it:

“Rate review authority is needed to protect consumers from insurance companies’ jacking up premiums simply because they can. Protections must be in place to ensure that companies do not take advantage of current market conditions before health reform fundamentally changes the way they do business in 2014.”

You have to laugh (or throw up a little) at the economic naiveté and pure hypocrisy contained in that statement.  Naive because it totally discounts the market and opts for central (and populist) top-down control (and we know how well that works) and hypocritical because the federal government is presently raising taxes before 2014 to “pay” for the health care monstrosity they’ve foisted upon us. 

Care for a little more sanctimonious drivel intended to justify this power grab? Diane Feinstein:

“Water and power are essential for life,” Mrs. Feinstein said. “So they are heavily regulated, and rate increases must be approved. Health insurance is also vital for life. It too should be strictly regulated so that people can afford this basic need.”

Really? Is that why it has to be “strictly regulated”? Or is it because if the market actually begins to react  properly to the artificial pressure brought by the legislation Democrats passed it will be shown up for the fiscal black hole and legislative piece of garbage it is?

Sen. Lamar Alexander brings a little context to the debate:

“Health insurance companies’ profits for one year equal about two days of health care spending in the United States. So even if we were to take away all the profits of the so-called greedy insurance companies, that would still leave 363 days a year when health care costs are expanding at a rate our country cannot afford.”

Let’s also remember that the 4 major health insurance companies in Massachusetts – all non-profit organizations – requested over 200 premium increases and were denied all but a few. Was it greed that drove them to request those increases?

Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, a research center that advocates free-market health policies, said the Democrats’ proposal was unlikely to succeed in lowering insurance costs.

“Capping premiums without recognizing the forces that are driving up costs would be like tightening the lid on a pressure cooker while the heat is being turned up,” Mrs. Turner said.

Instead, it gives single-payer types (like Harkin and Feinstein) a way to hurry along the failure of the private health insurance market and eventually, by fiat, usher in government health care.

Mr. Harkin praised a bill introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, that would give the secretary of health and human services the power to review premiums and block “any rate increase found to be unreasonable.” Under the bill, the federal government could regulate rates in states where state officials did not have “sufficient authority and capability” to do so.

Arbitrary, capricious and, if passed, eventually deadly. Just hide and watch.

~McQ

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Charles Freeman And The Obama Administration – What Is Going On? (UPDATE)

What is going on with the Charles Freeman nomination, and is it an indicator of a overwhelmed administration losing control?  Who, exactly, is in charge there?

Frankly, approaching 45 days into this administration, the transition process, at least as it pertains to critical nominations, has been an unmitigated disaster.  But it is the Freeman nomination which begs the question “who is in charge”.  Charles Freeman has been nominated for the chairmanship of the National Intelligence Council (NIC), the organization in charge of preparing our most sensitive intelligence estimates.

Obama’s Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair apparently never ran the nomination by the White House.  That means Freeman has never been formally vetted.  Now this may all fall back on Blair, but you have to wonder what sort of guidance or lack thereof provided him with the belief that this was the way things worked?

More importantly, why did Blair decide Freeman was the man for the job?   A former ambassador under George H. W. Bush,  to Saudi Arabia and senior envoy to China, Freeman is seen by many as having very serious conflicts of interest which were apparently ignored.    Freeman was also a board member the China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) owned in majority by the Chinese government and other Chinese government agencies. And there are other financial ties which are suspect. Freeman is president of the nonprofit educational organization Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), which paid him $87,000 in 2006, and received at least $1 million from a Saudi prince. You can read about the ramifications of those connections here.

But its not just who Freeman has been connected with, but some of the statements he’s made that make one wonder about his objectivity and, frankly, his moral and ideological foundation.  This is a person who remarked that the Chinese government had shown too much “restraint” when putting down the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. And in testimony before the 9/11 Commission, he advocated the use of a national identity card.  After all the wide-spread panic from the left concerning the Bush years and the claim that he was leading us down the path to totalitarianism, this seems like the type of person the left would really find unacceptable for a position.

Then there is the Congressional side of the question.  Jennifer Rubin asks:

Does Diane Feinstein think Freeman is an acceptable pick? It is interesting to note how lacking in — what’s the word? ah yes — “oversight” the government is now that Congress and the White House are controlled by the same party. Imagine if George W. Bush had nominated someone whose earnings depended on the largess of the House of Saud or who advocated crushing Chinese dissidents — indeed faster than the Chinese government.

And she further asks, is this the type of person who will give the administration “the “unpoliticized” advice they are looking for?”

Given what we know, I’d say no.  However, this nomination is just one more in what can only be characerized as a shambles – Commerce, HHS, Treasury, questions about his housing czar and nominees for other Treasury posts jumping ship – that is the nomination process.  

This points to a very inexperienced administration learning on the job in one of the more turbulent times in our history. That is not a good thing, folks, but exactly what was predicted given his lack of a resume. We’ve now seen the result of a campaign based on vacuous slogans. A campaign that was part demonization of the opposition and part beauty pageant. A campaign in which few focused on what the responsibilities of the office entailed and whether the candidate had the qualifications to fulfill them. We’re now “enjoying” what that brings.

UPDATE: Politico reports that Charles Freeman has withdrawn his nomination. Heh … that’s the fastest reaction I’ve ever had to one of my posts.

~McQ