2nd Amendment advocates worry over opinions of OSHA nominee
By Bob Unruh
Second Amendment advocates are expressing alarm that the most significant attack on gun rights across the United States in years soon could come in the form of a workplace “safety” regulation under President Obama’s nominee to run the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Obama has nominated David Michaels, a George Washington University professor and the chief of the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy, which reportedly partially is funded by George Soros.
“The controversial OSHA nominee and left-leaning public health advocate also seems to have strong views on firearms,” wrote Walter Olson at Overlawyered.com.
“That’s by no means irrelevant to the agenda of an agency like OSHA, because once you start viewing private gun ownership as a public health menace, it begins to seem logical to use the powers of government to urge or even require employers to forbid workers from possessing guns on company premises, up to and including parking lots, ostensibly for the protection of co-workers.”
WND has reported on Obama’s czars and has published a Whistleblower magazine issue on the “shadow government” officials gradually being installed in positions of power in Washington.
Two already have met problems. Green jobs czar Van Jones quit his post after reporting, largely by WND, of his self-described communist beliefs and his belief that the Bush administration was behind the 9/11 attacks. Also, White House communications director Anita Dunn, who launched a verbal assault on Fox News as an “arm” of the GOP, reportedly will step down this month.
Now comes Michaels, who although he would have to be approved by the U.S. Senate, comes with views that concern Second Amendment advocates.
Only two years ago, Michaels condemned proposals in Georgia and Florida that would have allowed workers to carry guns to and from their places of work for protection.
He continued in his 2007 writing to laud the ability of the federal government to respond by creating new laws to ban activities or behaviors.
“When the toll of preventable and pointless deaths or injuries from any single event or related events becomes so great, or particular aspects of the story bring it to the public’s attention, our nation invariably demands more and stronger regulation, not less,” Michaels wrote at the time.
“We saw this recently with the disaster at West Virginia’s Sago Mine, when a mine explosion and failed rescue attempts resulted in the deaths of 14 miners. Within months, Congress passed the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act,” he said.
“This is not true only of recent times. On the heels of the Elixir Sulfanilamide scandal, in which a medicine manufactured with antifreeze killed scores of children, Congress passed the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938, requiring for the first time that pharmaceutical manufacturers prove the safety of their products before marketing them,” he continued.
“It’s hard to count all of the lives that this Act has saved, but one example stands out: The United States avoided the plague of thalidomide-related birth defects that ravaged Europe in the early 1960s as a result of controls granted the FDA under that legislation. A regulatory hero, FDA medical officer Dr. Frances Kelsey, had blocked U.S. licensing of thalidomide on the basis of inadequate safety data,” he wrote.
“In the U.S., we see an average of one gun-related homicide every 45 minutes, or 32 each day,” he wrote. “These are usually treated as isolated incidents, until a horrific event like the Virginia Tech massacre reawakens the public and strengthens public health advocates who are attempting to prevent gun violence.”
At RedCounty.com, writer Bryan Myrick noted that the Washington Times has urged the Senate to reject Michaels’ nomination.
“OSHA is an agency that already has a well-earned reputation for abusing its authority and reaching beyond its stated purpose. Add one zealot and it easily becomes an oppressive entity with immense power over all American businesses, large and small. At a time in which America’s businesses desperately need the freedom to responsibly pursue earning profits and put workers back on the payroll, the chemical potency of combining Obama’s left-wing agenda with an anti-business zealot manager at OSHA could prove toxic,” Myrick wrote.
The first vote on Michaels’ nomination already was canceled by the Senate Committee on Health, Labor, Education and Pensions.
At the Examiner, gun rights writer David Codrea warned that some “public health” excuse could be used for imposing draconian restrictions on gun owners.
He cited the comment from a director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Control and Prevention that, “We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like what we did with cigarettes. Now it [sic] is dirty, deadly, and banned.”
“Does anyone doubt that Michaels will bring a similarly creative agenda to apply through regulatory measures under the guise of ‘occupational safety and health?’” he asked.
The BD Law firm in Washington posted a statement that Michaels is expected to bring major changes if approved. The law firm quoted Michaels’ writing from earlier this year that OSHA “badly needs a change in direction and philosophy” and it should include a “campaign to change the workplace culture of safety.”
The National Gun Rights organization called him an “anti-gunner.”
Columnist Dave Kopel at the Independence Institute in Colorado said, “Plenty of Obama’s administration appointees have a longer record of anti-gun activism than David Michaels, but perhaps none of them have the ability to make such a dramatic, instant change in the lives of law-abiding gun owners.
“By its own fiat, OSHA could outlaw the possession of firearms in every workplace and every employee parking lot in the United States,” he wrote.
“That David Michaels is anti-gun is undisputed,” he continued.
“The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution means that a valid federal law or regulation wins in any conflict with a state law. Many states have laws that protect the rights of employees to store lawful firearms in parking lots at work. If an OSHA regulation prohibiting such storage existed, the federal regulation would trump state law,” he said.
“Under Michaels, OSHA could write a regulation stating that it is illegal for any business to allow guns in the workplace or in parking lots. No handgun could be locked in the trunk of a car, even if the owner has a Right-to-Carry license. No rifle could be stored in the car, even if there’s no ammunition around and the gun will be dropped off at the gunsmith after work,” he said.
Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, had supported Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns before it was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. And since Obama has been in office, he’s already advocated for a treaty that would require a federal license for hunters to reload their ammunition, has expressed a desire to ban “assault” weapons, has seen a plan to require handgun owners to submit to mental health evaluations and sparked a rush on ammunition purchases with his history of anti-gun positions.
Besides its reporting on Van Jones and Anita Dunn, WND previously reported on the controversy over the appointment of Kevin Jennings, a homosexual rights promoter, to oversee the office of school safety in the Department of Education.
Regulatory czar Cass Sunstein also has, among other issues, stated that marriage discriminates against singles
White House believes talks will stopTehran interests from going nuclear
By Aaron Klein
President Obama (White House photo)
JERUSALEM – For the first time since coming into office, President Obama is under serious pressure to study the possibility of an Israeli military strike against Iran, a top Egyptian intelligence official told WND.
The official said Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, has been involved in an intense, behind-the-scenes lobbying effort urging the U.S. and other Western countries to do everything necessary to ensure Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons. Such weapons would threaten Saudi Arabia’s position of influence in the Middle East.
The Egyptian official said his country believes it is not likely Obama will grant Israel permission to attack Iran.
He spoke about other Arab countries’ efforts to oppose an Iranian nuclear umbrella but did not comment on Egypt’s own position on the matter.
Egypt recently granted Israel permission to conduct naval exercises off Egyptian coastal waters; those military drills were clearly aimed at Iran.
Also, recent reports in the Arab media, denied by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s office, claimed Saudi Arabia granted Israel overflight permission for any aerial raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Until now, the Obama administration has sent mixed signals about green lighting Israeli military action against Iran while stressing it supports diplomacy with an Iranian leadership that has spurred the possibility of talks.
Last month, Vice President Joe Biden said during a CNN interview the U.S. would not stand in the way if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes Israeli military action is needed to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat.
But multiple other administration officials warned against an Israeli attack. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in April such a strike would have dangerous consequences and asserted Tehran’s acquisition of a bomb can be prevented only if “Iranians themselves decide it’s too costly.” His views have since been echoed by other Obama officials such as White House national security advisor Jim Jones.
Gates visited Israel several weeks ago reportedly to dissuade Jerusalem from any action until Obama’s diplomacy is given a chance.
Obama has set a rough deadline of this fall for an answer from Iran about whether the country will talk. That deadline was postponed from a previous rough deadline of June.
Gates has said if Iran doesn’t come to the bargaining table soon, the next step could be harsher international sanctions.
Israeli officials, however, stress sanctions are a long-term solution and that Iran is quickly acquiring the ingredients necessary to assemble a nuclear bomb. Estimates in Jerusalem average between six about 12 months before Iran might have the ability to begin assembling a nuclear warhead.
Israelis are worried Iran might use Obama’s proposed talks as a smokescreen to continue secretly developing nuclear weapons technology.
The country first got into debt to help pay for the Revolutionary War. Growing ever since, the debt stands today at a staggering $11.4 trillion – equivalent to about $37,000 for each and every American. And it’s expanding by over $1 trillion a year.
The mountain of debt easily could become the next full-fledged economic crisis without firm action from Washington, economists of all stripes warn.
“Unless we demonstrate a strong commitment to fiscal sustainability in the longer term, we will have neither financial stability nor healthy economic growth,” Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently told Congress.
Higher taxes, or reduced federal benefits and services – or a combination of both – may be the inevitable consequences.
The debt is complicating efforts by President Obama and Congress to cope with the worst recession in decades as stimulus and bailout spending combine with lower tax revenues to widen the gap.
Interest payments on the debt alone cost $452 billion last year – the largest federal spending category after Medicare-Medicaid, Social Security and defense. It’s quickly crowding out all other government spending. And the Treasury is finding it harder to find new lenders.
The United States went into the red the first time in 1790 when it assumed $75 million in the war debts of the Continental Congress.
Alexander Hamilton, the first treasury secretary, said, “A national debt, if not excessive, will be to us a national blessing.”
Since then, the nation has only been free of debt once, in 1834-1835.
The national debt has expanded during times of war and usually contracted in times of peace, while staying on a generally upward trajectory. Over the past several decades, it has climbed sharply – except for a respite from 1998 to 2000, when there were annual budget surpluses, reflecting in large part what turned out to be an overheated economy.
The debt soared with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and economic stimulus spending under President George W. Bush and now Obama.
The odometer-style “debt clock” near Times Square – put in place in 1989 when the debt was a mere $2.7 trillion – ran out of numbers and had to be shut down when the debt surged past $10 trillion in 2008.
The clock has since been refurbished so higher numbers fit. There are several debt clocks on websites maintained by public interest groups that let you watch hundreds, thousands, millions zip by in a matter of seconds.
The debt gap is “something that keeps me awake at night,” Obama says.
He pledged to cut the budget “deficit” roughly in half by the end of his first term. But “deficit” just means the difference between government receipts and spending in a single budget year.
This year’s deficit is now estimated at about $1.85 trillion.
Deficits don’t reflect holdover indebtedness from previous years. Some spending items – such as emergency appropriations bills and receipts in the Social Security program – aren’t included, either, although they are part of the national debt.
The national debt is a broader, and more telling, way to look at the government’s balance sheets than glancing at deficits.
According to the Treasury Department, which updates the number “to the penny” every few days, the national debt was $11,518,472,742,288 on Wednesday.
The overall debt is now slightly over 80% of the annual output of the entire U.S. economy, as measured by the gross domestic product.
By historical standards, it’s not proportionately as high as during World War II, when it briefly rose to 120% of GDP. But it’s still a huge liability.
Also, the United States is not the only nation struggling under a huge national debt. Among major countries, Japan, Italy, India, France, Germany and Canada have comparable debts as percentages of their GDPs.
Where does the government borrow all this money from?
The debt is largely financed by the sale of Treasury bonds and bills. Even today, amid global economic turmoil, those still are seen as one of the world’s safest investments.
That’s one of the rare upsides of U.S. government borrowing.
Treasury securities are suitable for individual investors and popular with other countries, especially China, Japan and the Persian Gulf oil exporters, the three top foreign holders of U.S. debt.
But as the U.S. spends trillions to stabilize the recession-wracked economy, helping to force down the value of the dollar, the securities become less attractive as investments. Some major foreign lenders are already paring back on their purchases of U.S. bonds and other securities.
And if major holders of U.S. debt were to flee, it would send shock waves through the global economy – and sharply force up U.S. interest rates.
As time goes by, demographics suggest things will get worse before they get better, even after the recession ends, as more baby boomers retire and begin collecting Social Security and Medicare benefits.
While the president remains personally popular, polls show there is rising public concern over his handling of the economy and the government’s mushrooming debt – and what it might mean for future generations.
If things can’t be turned around, including establishing a more efficient health care system, “We are on an utterly unsustainable fiscal course,” said the White House budget director, Peter Orszag.
Some budget-restraint activists claim even the debt understates the nation’s true liabilities.
The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, established by a former commerce secretary and investment banker, argues that the $11.4 trillion debt figures does not take into account roughly $45 trillion in unlisted liabilities and unfunded retirement and health care commitments.
That would put the nation’s full obligations at $56 trillion, or roughly $184,000 per American, according to this calculation.