Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Why THIS Libertarian Is Voting For Romney

In the last few weeks, there's been quite a battle in political circles between Romney supporters and Johnson supporters. I realize this may be a bit late to fully capitalize on the meme, but, oh, well.

I've made no bones about being a Romney supporter (though reluctantly, at first).

To set out why, I have to start with an "uncomfortable truth": The Libertarian Party isn't capable of getting someone elected town dogcatcher, much less President of the United States. The reason for this is simple: That element of libertarianism has assumed the intellectual "high ground" of defeatists: "I know I will never win, so I will make no effort to do so; I will sit here and complain about how terrible everyone else's performance is". They are the armchair quarterbacks of politics.

Meanwhile, in the last five years, libertarian-minded people have made tremendous progress- within the Republican party. Five years ago, we weren't welcome in the house of politics; now we have a seat at the dinner table.

Need proof of this? Let's start with Rick Santorum complaining about the emergence of the "more libertarian-ish right". Or the number of Republicans who like what Ron Paul has to say "on everything except foreign policy". I would even go so far as to say Mitt Romney's campaign has been a validation of us: His message is purely about government spending, debt, budgeting, free trade, and economic liberty. Social issues have been pushed aside.

The GOP's message, today, is essentially our message in the most rudimentary form. Why did the GOP win so handily in 2010? Because our message- individual autonomy and economic liberty- resonates with Middle America. Freedom is intoxicating. Our opportunity, now, is to use our newly-found voice to mold that popular sentiment. We know we're right, and we've been right all along. Rather than act smugly, we need to show the rest of the country why we're right.

Want to end the war on drugs? The best argument for it goes like this: It is costly and ineffective, and it funnels money to some of the world's most evil people. Legalizing drugs would deny substantial funding to terrorist organizations and put Mexican drug cartels out of business. Our interests are complimentary to the interests of the defense hawks and the budget hawks alike.

Want to address the "warfare state"? Make the rational argument that we will only have "a military so powerful that nobody dares to test it" as long as we can afford it. This is essentially the argument Admiral Mike Mullen made, when he said "the greatest risk to our national security is our national debt" (and he offered up $100 billion in defense budget cuts). Once again, our interests are complimentary to those of the defense hawks and the budget hawks. Spending absurdly- which includes defense spending- is detrimental to our long-term national security.

Want sound money? The 99-year lease on the Federal Reserve expires in December of this year. Congress will renew the lease (which is a disappointment). However, this is a prime opportunity to bring sound money into the national political discourse, and it's an opportunity which won't come around for another 99 years. Let's not waste it. We won't "End the Fed", but we just might have a chance to put it in chains, if we act wisely.

These are just examples of the potential in-roads available to us. Either we continue to advance, within the Republican party, or we sit on the sidelines and whine about seat belt laws. We can build on our accomplishments, or choose to accomplish nothing.

And for those libertarians concerned about the evangelicals within the party- and I am one of those libertarians- fear not; they are losing their influence. Rational people of faith agree with us, for the most part. They have no interest in "regulating your body". The few who really do want to regulate people's bedroom behavior are becoming a relic, because the GOP has learned that they lose elections when they cling to them. Witness the vast barrage of criticism fired at Todd Akin by mainstream Republicans.

We have the public's attention- and the party's attention too. We are demonstrating the correctness of Ronald Reagan's assertion that "the heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism".

For this reason, I am voting for Mitt Romney, and I encourage my libertarian fellows to do the same. Now is not the time to throw away the gains we've made- now is the time to capitalize on them! Make no mistake- we're going to have setbacks, we're going to be disappointed frequently, and we're going to get angry. A hard road is ahead of us. But, little by little, we can change opinions and show people the wisdom of our position. After all, our principles are the consummate American principles. Freedom is intoxicating!

And a word to mainstream Republicans who attack Gary Johnson personally: He is probably the least-corrupted person in politics. His character is unassailable. This is the reason for his success as Governor of New Mexico, a state which is two-thirds Democrat (and one of the several reasons I had hoped he would be the GOP running mate). There is no doubt that he was shunned by the "establishment", and any resentment he harbors is, in my view, wholly justified.

It is, to me, tragic that he is in the position of being unelectable. We need more Gary Johnsons in government. He is a good man, and I am indignant toward anyone who claims otherwise. Remember who our common enemy is.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Martin/Zimmerman: Fuel For The Democrat Attack Machine

Recently, the Huffington Post Enquirer ran a post regarding the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, entitled Trayvon Martin Case: 'Stand Your Ground' Law At Center Of Shooting. The unwritten implication of this article is that enhanced self-defense laws, such as Florida's, grant protection to murderers.

The left have already begun spinning this killing into an attack on Republicans. Note, for instance, MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski making a sloppy attempt to connect this shooting to Rush Limbaugh. Jay at The Right Sphere reports Media Matters has already begun spinning this tragedy for political points in a number of posts.

Let's debunk the assertion that Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law somehow protected Zimmerman. To do so, we need to examine the 2006 changes to Florida's Justifiable Use Of Force law, specifically, the portion contended here- Zimmerman's immunity from criminal prosecution:
776.032 (1) A person who uses force as permitted (...) is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force (...) As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.
Stated in plain English, Florida requires police officers to establish probable cause before arresting someone for using force in self-defense. This is a far cry different from HuffPo's claim:

The Florida law lets police on the scene decide whether they believe the self-defense claim. In many cases, the officers make an arrest and leave it to the courts to work out whether the deadly force is justified. In this case, however, police have said they are confident they did the right thing by not charging 28-year-old George Zimmerman.

The failure, then, isn't with the "Stand Your Ground" law- a point which even Al Sharpton concedes- but with the failure of Sanford police to thoroughly investigate the shooting. The recording of Zimmerman's 911 call alone debunks his self-defense claim. From Doug Mataconis' excellent article:

The police on the scene appear to have reached the conclusion that Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense, but the 911 calls from that night raise some doubt about just how much danger Zimmerman was actually in, and the extent to which he may have pursued Martin despite being told by a 911 operator not to do so.
Rep. Dennis Baxley, the author of the 'Stand Your Ground' law, wrote this op-ed for FOX News, summing up the issue thus:

Mr. Zimmerman's unnecessary pursuit and confrontation of Trayvon Martin elevated the prospect of a violent episode and does not seem to be an act of self-defense as defined by the castle doctrine. There is no protection in the "Stand Your Ground" law for anyone who pursues and confronts people.

The "pursue and confront" phrase is especially applicable here: While Florida has a very well-written and well-articulated law on self-defense, it is one of the few states which has no statute authorizing private persons to use force to pursue and arrest fleeing criminals. Even if Florida did authorize this use of force, however, Zimmerman still wouldn't be justified, because Martin had committed no crime.

The anti-gun crowd, however, never let facts or the law stand in the way of their political agenda.

This law, championed by Republicans and vilified by Democrats, was contentious when it was passed in Florida in 2006; now there's a murdered boy, and a wrongful claim of self-defense. This is an election year, and the Democrat attack machine feeds on accusations that Republicans are "bitter clingers" and racists.

Take this for what it is: the Democrat attack machine working to make all Republicans look like George Zimmerman's accomplices and enablers.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Outrage In Indiana Part Four: The Barnes Bill

Last night, the Indiana General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1, which, once signed into law, will resolve a nearly year-long deprivation of the civil rights of residents of the State of Indiana. Readers who have followed me for the last year will be aware of my previous "Outrage In Indiana" posts on this very subject. For those who haven't, let me recap.

In Part One, on May 13th of last year, I described the appalling decision by Indiana's State Supreme Court in the case of Barnes v. State of Indiana. The court determined that a private person had no right to resist unlawful police burglary of their home. I detailed the 800-year-old legal precedents which allow for such use of force, and the farce of the court's decision. In Part Two, I published an open letter to Governor Mitch Daniels, imploring him to take whatever action he possibly could to provide relief to Hoosiers subjected to police lawlessness. In Part Three, I published the very thoughtful response I received from his office.

To review the matter at hand: Richard Barnes had an argument with his wife, and neighbors called the police. Upon their arrival, the Barneses had reentered their home, and no further argument was occurring. Officers Lenny Reed and Jason Henry (more on them in a moment) insisted on entering the home, and Mr. Barnes refused them entry. The police, unlawfully, entered the home anyway. Mr. Barnes attempted to use non-deadly force to expel them, and he was tased and arrested.

Eight centuries of legal precedent, from the Magna Carta to two 20th century SCOTUS decisions, explicitly authorize the use of reasonable force to prevent unlawful acts of the police. The laws of the state of Indiana do not privilege police officers from justified force if they are acting outside the bounds of the law. The Fourth Amendment, and a substantially similar provision in Indiana's Constitution prohibit precisely this conduct- the unwarranted and unlawful entry into a private home by government agents.

Nonetheless, Indiana's Supreme Court ignored the eight centuries of legal tradition, multiple decisions of the United States Supreme Court, the United States Constitution, and the Constitution and laws of Indiana, and determined that a Hoosier's only lawful recourse was to sue the police agency for damages after being the victim of a violent crime (in this case, burglary and assault) committed by a police officer.

Our Second, Third, and Fourth Amendment rights were established by our Founding Fathers for expressly this reason: Prior to, and during, the American Revolution, armed agents of the British government- soldiers- would routinely enter private homes without cause, assault homeowners and arrest them without charges, and quarter themselves in private homes in order to intimidate homeowners into submission. Expressly for this reason, we have a right to keep and bear arms, a freedom from quartering in private homes, and a freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

We also have a natural, or God-given (depending on your outlook), right of self-defense, a topic which I have written about extensively. The instinct to protect ourselves, our families, and our property from violent attack is as natural to us as the need to eat. A government decree that a certain class of persons- namely, police officers- are "untouchable", and may commit violent crimes at will, and the prosecution of private persons who exercise this right against them, is wholly offensive to the basic principles enshrined in our founding document.

Thankfully, Indiana's legislature has taken up the cause of preserving individual liberties in this matter. Senate Bill 1, introduced by State Senator Mike Young and sponsored by numerous other state legislators, seeks to amend the Indiana Code to explicitly authorize the use of reasonable force against law enforcement officers who commit crimes against private persons.

In short, SB1 changes the language of the state's use-of-force laws to state that "any person" may be the recipient of defensive force, and adds a section specifically addressing the use of force against police officers. This section authorizes the use of non-deadly force against "any law enforcement officer" to prevent the police officer's criminal attack upon the person or property, and authorizes deadly force to prevent a law enforcement officer's criminal attack which may inflict death or serious bodily injury.

Once signed into law, Indiana will become only the second state in the nation to specifically authorize the use of force against police officers acting unlawfully. North Dakota authorizes the use of force to terminate a police officer's unlawful use of deadly force. Indiana's statute would dramatically exceed this limited level of protection.

I applaud the state legislature for taking this necessary step to improve the right of self-defense. I also understand Sen. Young is facing a primary challenge this year. I hope Hoosiers will go to the polls in droves and show their support for this fine representative of the people.

And on a final, and ignominious note: Officer Lenny Reed, one of the two goons who burglarized Mr. Barnes' home, and (ironically) the medic for Evansville PD's SWAT team, was also involved in an incident involving racial profiling and substantial damage to an innocent man's RV- which the man was delivering to a buyer- when Reed initiated a wrongful drug search. This incident occurred less than four months before the Indiana Supreme Court's Barnes decision. Inexplicably, Reed was promoted to Sergeant during roughly the same time frame.

The other goon involved, Officer Jason Henry, resigned from Evansville Police Department after beating up a former sheriff's deputy, only three months before the Barnes decision. The beating occurred at a meeting of the Indiana Fraternal Order of Police, no less.

Residents of Vanderburgh County have ample reason to question Evansville Police Chief Brad Hill's professional judgment. Apparently Hoosiers can't even rely upon the common sense of local officials and police administrators for relief from police lawlessness, which makes the passage of SB1 all the more vital. Mary Beth Schneider of the Indianapolis Star tweeted last night that SB1 passed the Indiana Senate 38-12 and passed the Indiana House 67-26, and is now on its way to Governor Daniels' desk.

Many thanks to my dear friend April Gregory for her invaluable assistance in researching this post.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rick Santorum: The Least Patriotic Republican

Super Tuesday results are in. Mitt Romney has won six of the ten states, and is the clear frontrunner now more than ever. The question Republican voters must ask is this: Why are we still slogging through this primary season?

The answer to that question is simple: Rick Santorum.

As I noted in this post, we have two goals for 2012: 1) winning the White House, and 2) winning the Senate. The time, money, and attention spent on our primary detracts from accomplishing those two goals. I can't overstate this point: Every moment, every dollar, every ad wasted on our primary is one less to use in defeating Barack Obama.

And the object of this distraction- Rick Santorum- doesn't share our values. The concept of separation of church and state- specifically, JFK's speech on the subject, vowing that he wouldn't take orders from the Pope- makes Santorum "want to throw up". The greater personal and economic freedom of the "libertarianish right" (read: the Tea Party movement)- which Ronald Reagan referred to as "the very heart and soul of conservatism"- can't "succeed as a culture" according to Santorum.

And he's an embarrassment to our party. He is, after all, Michael Moore's favorite Republican, the target of Moore's "Operation Hilarity", designed to keep our primary running longer- with exactly the consequences I described above. Santorum gleefully, and cluelessly, accepted Moore's "support", stating that the pro-Union, Democrat-oriented robocalls "proved" he could attract Democrats. Just as I noted with Newt Gingrich in this post, the left salivates at the prospect of Rick "Man-on-dog sex" Santorum being our nominee, as it would guarantee an Obama victory.

Rick Santorum doesn't realize the amount of damage he's doing to our cause, and he doesn't realize that his presence in the primary endangers our chances of winning this election. He is costing us money, time, attention, and the support of independents- whom we need in order to win.

If Santorum had one scrap of concern for our country's future, he would drop out and clear the field for our party to focus on defeating Barack Obama, winning the Senate, and righting this ship. He won't do that, however, which makes him the least patriotic man in the Republican party.

Make no mistake: The 2012 election is the hill to die on. Our success or failure in this election will determine whether we fix our broken economy, restrain our government, and put America back to work, or become Greece.

It's time to get behind our nominee and take the fight to Barack Obama and Harry Reid.

(Photo credit Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia.org)

Monday, February 20, 2012

In Defense Of Sheriff Paul Babeu

This weekend, Pinal County, AZ Sheriff Paul Babeu resigned his post as Mitt Romney's Arizona campaign manager amid revelations about his private life, and allegations of personal misconduct. These allegations may also endanger Babeu's prospects for a U.S. Congress seat.

The question of the hour, then, is this: Are the allegations true? Did he, a nationally-known figure in the battle over illegal immigration, have a sordid relationship with an illegal immigrant and then threaten him with deportation to keep the relationship secret?

I think it's important to tell the full story of Sheriff Paul Babeu.

Babeu was born in North Adams, Massachusetts on February 3, 1969. He is the 10th of 11 children of Raymond and Helen Babeu. His political career began while still in high school, when he rallied against a pay increase for the members of his city council. At age 18, he ran for city council and won, and at age 23- as a recent college graduate- he was elected County commissioner.

After a few failed attempts to run for higher office in Democrat-controlled Massachusetts, he became the headmaster and executive director of The DeSisto School in Stockbridge, Mass., a position he held from 1999 to 2001. At this point of the narrative, an uncomfortable corollary must be made: Babeu, who has publicly spoken about his extensive sexual abuse as a child by a Catholic priest, became the headmaster of a private school for troubled youths. The school was frequently the center of criticism and allegations of abuse of students by faculty, and was eventually closed in 2005. The school's founder, Michael DeSisto, was something of a megalomaniac who (quoting from the link) "envisioned a string of schools nationally and internationally based on Gestalt psychological principles, and his own therapeutic model". Mr. DeSisto had also falsified his teaching credentials and educational experience. One, naturally, wonders whether Babeu left due to wrongdoing or due to disgust at others' wrongdoing.

Following his tenure at DeSisto School, Babeu pulled up stakes and moved from Massachusetts to Arizona, and began a new career as a law enforcement officer. He started out as a patrolman in Chandler in 2002, where he was twice decorated for lifesaving and became head of the police union, and in 2008 became the first Republican ever elected sheriff of Pinal County.

Babeu also served 20 years in the National Guard, rising in rank from Private to Major. He served a tour in Iraq and served in Operation Jump Start.

All of this biographical information tells us something about the man: He is an overachiever with multiple, simultaneous careers, and who has a very finite, closely-guarded private life which takes a backseat to his career(s).

We learned something of that private life this weekend: He is gay. Moreover, his former partner is believed to be an illegal immigrant. We saw photos of Babeu in the nude, and the former partner claims Babeu threatened him with deportation if he revealed the relationship.

Let's analyze that claim for a moment: I think it goes without saying, but a man in Babeu's position wouldn't have to threaten deportation. It would, without question, be "the elephant in the room". And if I had a dollar for every criminal who has ever claimed police wrongdoing when apprehended, I could own Facebook.

Now we have an uncomfortable choice to make: Is Paul Babeu a sinister man, who seeks ever-increasing power and personal grandeur, and then uses that status to find and exploit vulnerable partners? Or is he a tragic man, whose perpetual quest for self-improvement and good works conceals guilt and shame he carries about his own abuse? As DJ Redman asked in this post, does Babeu's 'outing' constitute a vicious attempt to smear the man, or some very troubling signs of malfeasance?

We all know certain stereotypes of people who live a "dual role" lifestyle: The abused person who makes a series of bad choices about relationship partners; the overachieving, perpetually-single schoolteacher or caregiver who over-devotes themselves to their charges while concealing a sordid and secret private life; and so forth. These stereotypes exist for a reason: such people actually exist.

Therefore, lacking any substantive evidence to the contrary, I prefer to think of Paul Babeu as a "white hat"- a man who, in the finest tradition of our values, has overcome enormous personal grief and struggle; worked harder than most of us could imagine; fought, sacrificed, and become prosperous and popular; and has done tremendous good for, and earned the admiration and loyalty of, those around him. Some of us may not be comfortable with the details of his private life- details he worked diligently to conceal- and others may desire to know more, to ensure there is no sinister aspect to him. This is an understandable precaution, provided it doesn't slide down a slippery slope to become homophobic paranoia.

I've long held a belief that some famous gunfighters- often known for their 'colorful' personal lives- sought a noble death as atonement for (real or perceived) past transgressions. Death, then, became a blessed final redemption, rather than something to fear, and having no fear of death made them successful. This is how I perfer to think of Paul Babeu: A man who has sought, for reasons not fully understood by us, a noble life in order to slay his personal demons. Those who have benefitted from his quest- and who, hopefully, will continue to benefit- should respect his privacy and be thankful and supportive of him.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Live Together or Die Alone

Amid the myriad of CPAC 2012 posts currently filling the blogosphere, I would like to offer my own reflections on the event, and the powerful lesson of which I was reminded. It is rare for me to speak personally in my political writings. I am much more comfortable with the objective distance of facts and principles and analysis than I am with sharing feelings. However, this lesson is so profoundly important to me, and to the cause of freedom, that I am compelled to speak on the subject despite my reservations.

Last weekend was a whirlwind of improbable events. In a 61-hour period I spent nearly a full day on the road and slept less than four hours. It was a trial of endurance, and I hope I met that trial well (though I imagine I probably didn't!). Fortunately I didn't undertake it alone; I had a wonderful companion. While at CPAC, I received word that my sister's husband, whom I love like a brother, was badly injured, and then later found out that I received the message in error, and that he was perfectly fine. Events also tested the strength of the bond between myself and my closest and dearest friend. I am happy to report that bond is stronger than ever.

I also met some of my good friends and comrades-in-arms, many of them for the first time. It's strange that people can mean so much to us, before we've even seen them in person. It is my lingering regret that I didn't have sufficient time to spend with all of them, or to effectively communicate my admiration of them. I am profoundly lucky to stand in the company of giants, some of whom were present and some who were not and were missed.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention my family, without whom I would never have become the staunch advocate of individual liberty that I am. My principles are part of my pedigree. Their unwavering support has buffered me through difficult times.

I only saw one speech on Saturday- Daniel Hannan's speech (VIDEO). Among the many things I took away from it, was the profound isolation he and other British patriots experience. Conservative principles, patriotism, and love of country are frequently scorned by the liberal majority there. Mr. Hannan expressed his happiness that we are not so unfortunate in the United States.

He's right. We are much more fortunate- we have each other. Our greatest strength, and the thing which our opposition works so tirelessly to destroy, are our bonds of comradeship, friendship, and love. The greatest evil of our enemy is his desire to tear us apart and render us alone and helpless, leaving a selfish and all-powerful government as our only recourse.

Milton Friedman once told a young liberal college student that we aren't an individual society, we are a family society. He was correct. We libertarians champion individual rights and dignity, and the individual's freedom to associate and pursue prosperity and happiness. But these rights are little comfort if we have no one with whom to share them.

It's difficult for me to admit, but I have, at times in my life, felt alone and disconnected from my friends and family. I have felt hopelessly outnumbered and powerless. Fortunately, I had good people to remind me that I was neither alone nor unloved.

The bonds of loyalty and trust and love motivate us. They give our lives, and our cause, purpose. They define who we are and why we work so tirelessly. We have nothing but each other. That is the root of the 'small-government and big-citizen' cause: Together, we are vastly superior to any Leviathan; Divided, we are fragile and subservient. Either we can care for, provide for, and protect one another, or we can have nobody but government to do these things for us, and do them capriciously and badly.

Our relationships are our power and our conscience. Together we live, alone we die.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Clint Eastwood: Spokesman For The New Detroit

Much ado has been made about the Super Bowl Clint Eastwood/Chrysler commercial, expressing the theme that Detroit, and America at large, is making a comeback. In some conservative circles, "Dirty Harry" has been criticized as shilling for President Obama.

But after reading this article by Mara Gay of The Daily, I'm convinced that the tough-guy libertarian may be the ideal spokesman for Motor City. Facing huge cutbacks in the city police force, abysmally poor response times to calls for service, and a general lack of police effectiveness, the residents of Detroit- which purportedly has the nation's second-highest per capita murder rate- are arming themselves in record numbers- and self-defense shootings are up 79% year-over-year, and 2200% above the national average.

The article, while clearly left-biased (it describes armed citizens as "vigilantes"), illustrates a major shift in public thinking in Detroit: People are realizing they must provide for their own protection. The city police department, with its long history of mismanagement, is even more of a failure today than it ever has been. Even as the department faces multi-million-dollar budget shortfalls, the city paid over $6 million for a former casino building (VIDEO) to convert into a new police headquarters; and DPD is rolling out a "virtual precinct" program which directs calls for crimes reported after-the-fact during evening and overnight hours to an officer at headquarters to take a report. Translation: If you come home after work to find your house has been burglarized, DPD will take a report and get around to investigating it sometime. It's no wonder foreclosed houses are selling (or not) for as little as $50 in Detroit.

Those who can afford to move out of Detroit have already done so, and those who can't are at the end of their rope. Big-government, predominantly-Democrat Detroiters are now fully realizing that their city government can't even provide essential services, and so they are forced to become self-sufficient.

Stated another way: Residents of one of the most liberal cities in the nation are getting the harshest "wake-up call" one can receive on the failings of big-government liberalism as a theory of governance: The promise of greater safety, which is the most-effective and most-often used means of convincing the public to give up their money and their liberties, is now a broken promise in Detroit. The usual socialist responses to such a crisis are unavailable: Raising taxes isn't an option, because there's nothing left to tax; begging for money from the state government isn't an option, because the state is broke; harsher gun control laws would be opposed, because people across the political spectrum are buying and carrying guns; and more stringent enforcement isn't a possibility, because Wayne County Jail has no room to house convicts.

As Detroiters begin to cope with the "new normal" of self-reliance, they'll also ask questions about the condition of the city's police force. They'll want to know how it could get to be so bad. The answers to these questions- corrupt Democrat politicians, incompetent management, greedy and self-serving public sector unions, short-sighted liberal policies, overspending and overtaxing- can't be concealed behind socialist rhetoric any longer. The city government has run out of excuses and other people's money, and there's no room in the budget to hire Robocop.

Big changes in self-defense thinking are nothing new for Detroit: The Sweet Trials of 1925-1926, which took place in Detroit, were the first occasion in our nation's history in which an African-American successfully claimed self-defense in court.

Maybe the star of Gran Torino is a good spokesman for Detroit after all.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Left Loves Newt Gingrich

Remember when we used to say "don't let the media choose our candidate"? Well, they are, and they've convinced large numbers of Republican primary voters to do their bidding.

From this an interview with George Soros, courtesy of Breitbart.TV:

... if you have an extremist conservative, be it Gingrich or Santorum, in which case I think it will make a big difference, which of the two comes in. If it's between Obama and Romney, there isn't all that much difference, except for the crowd they bring with them ...

Why would Soros point out something which many conservatives instinctively believe? For the reaction! He wants conservatives to jump out of their seats and shout "See, I told you so! Newt's a real conservative and Romney's just another Obama! Even George Soros says so!", which some of you undoubtedly did just now.

George Soros is a skillful manipulator. He knows how some Republican voters will react to his statement: Greater approval for Newt Gingrich (or Rick Santorum).

Then there's this tired repeat of an old accusation by Nancy Pelosi:

There's something I know (about Gingrich)... the Republicans, if they choose to nominate him, that's their prerogative...

Pelosi, like Soros, knows how she is perceived by the right: As an instigator. Why would she drop this "tidbit" (which is probably a bluff) again? Because she knows what the Republican reaction will be: An immediate defense of Newt from loathsome Nancy Pelosi. The last time she did it, Newt's response to her allegation was a memorable throwing down of his gauntlet. Giving Gingrich an opportunity to make such a spectacular riposte was not a misstep on Nancy's part- her statement was calculated to give him such an opportunity!

Speaking of opportunities given to Gingrich to render a memorably grandiose defense: The CNN debate, where John King opened with his tawdry question about the Marianne Gingrich interview. Does the reader honestly believe that liberal news outlets don't think ahead before taking an action? This question was planned in advance, to capitalize on Gingrich's speaking ability and give him an "easy win" to attract support from the audience.

You see, liberals have gained dominance through manipulation. The leaders of the leftist movement- the head honchos of liberal media outlets, the well-known bombthrowers like Pelosi, the cloak-and-dagger operatives like Soros- have succeeded because they manipulate voters. This includes manipulating Republican voters.

So why would these figures want to engender greater support for Newt Gingrich? Simple: Because he can't win in November! These people want Republican voters to choose a candidate who can be beaten by Obama. They know Gingrich will eventually embarass the party as he did before, and make their future victories easier.

And for those who salivate over the prospect of an epic Obama/Gingrich debate: There will be no Lincoln-Douglas-style debate between the two men. There will be no long series of twice-per-week prime time debates. Obama will avoid debating Gingrich, and Gingrich will be deprived of his one-trick campaign pony.

Every one of us involved in this process has implored others, at one point or another, to "not let the liberals choose our candidate". That is exactly what the liberal establishment is doing now.

And they are succeeding.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The 2012 Guide To Winning The Senate

Any discussion of Republican electoral success in 2012 has to include a major discussion of retaking the U.S. Senate. Without the Senate, it doesn't matter if we get "Anybody But Obama" into the White House.

We currently have 47 seats in the Senate, and Democrats have 53.

Here is the breakdown of the Senate seats which will be contested in 2012 (via Wikipedia):

Democrats/Independents retiring:

Joe Lieberman of Connecticut (Independent)
Daniel Akaka of Hawaii
Ben Nelson of Nebraska
Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico
Kent Conrad of North Dakota
Jim Webb of Virginia
Herb Kohl of Wisconsin

Democrats/Independents running for reelection:

Dianne Feinstein of California
Tom Carper of Delaware
Bill Nelson of Florida
Ben Cardin of Maryland
Debbie Stabenow of Michigan
Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
Claire McCaskill of Missouri
Jon Tester of Montana
Bob Menendez of New Jersey
Kirsten Gillibrand of New York
Sherrod Brown of Ohio
Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania
Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island
Bernie Sanders of Vermont (Independent)
Maria Cantwell of Washington
Joe Manchin of West Virginia

Note the seats I've highlighted. These are opportunities for the GOP. I'll return to them in a moment.

Now look at the Republican seats:

Republicans retiring:

Jon Kyl of Arizona
Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas

Republicans running for reelection:

Richard Lugar of Indiana
Olympia Snowe of Maine
Scott Brown of Massachusetts
Roger Wicker of Mississippi
Dean Heller of Nevada
Bob Corker of Tennessee
Orrin Hatch of Utah
John Barrasso of Wyoming

What do we see in this breakdown? We are likely to lose one seat we currently hold, and we have one other at-risk seat, whereas the Democrats have eight at-risk seats- some because they are in purple states, others because the incumbent isn't very popular. We need a net gain of four to have a majority.

In other words, the way to retake the Senate is three-fold:

1) Put substantial money into those nine races. That means getting Republicans in the other 41 states to contribute money to those races. That also means convincing Republicans in Democrat-stronghold states to put money into races which can be won, rather than throwing money away in their own state's senate races. For example, I live in New York; I know Kirsten Gillibrand will still be my Senator in 2013. So, I'll put my contribution into, say, Claire McCaskill's opponent.

To illustrate the power of this type of fundraising: There are 55 million registered Republicans in the United States. If each of them contributed $5, that'd be more than $30 million into each of these key campaigns. Obviously we won't get 55 million people to donate; this is just an illustration.

2) We need to ensure that voters in those nine states select good candidates. If 2010 and the current Presidential primaries have shown us, this isn't an easy proposition. We all remember some of the more-prominent GOP senate candidates- Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell, and Joe Miller- going down in flames. We need to avoid a repeat of the process which selected them.

Both of these points would be greatly assisted by having some national organization which could a) focus on promoting well-qualified candidates and b) facilitating donations from individual donors across the country to these few races.

3) As I stated in a previous post, we need to select a presidential candidate who makes the rest of the party look good enough that moderates and independents (and some reluctant Dems if we're lucky) vote Republican in the Senate elections as well as the Presidential election. This is key; a candidate who ruins our image and our appeal to the voters will guarantee Democrats hold both the White House and the Senate.

Folks, we know what needs to be done. Now it's a question of doing it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Since Perry's Out, I'm With Romney

As reported, Governor Rick Perry has dropped out of the presidential race.

Which candidate will I support now?

Backstory: Originally, I favored Mitch Daniels- a solid fiscal conservative who pushed for, and got, a balanced budget multiple years in a row, an increase in Indiana's credit rating to AAA for the first time ever; and substantial reform in Medicaid with the Healthy Indiana Plan. Mitch is also solidly pro-gun and pro-self-defense; indeed, after the devastating Indiana Supreme Court decision curtailing an individual's right to defend his home, I wrote a letter to Governor Daniels expressing my outrage, and received a wonderful reply from his staff. His message of a social issues moratorium- criticized by some on the right as proof of Mitch's "closet liberalism"- was sound advice, proven more sound every day this Presidential primary continues. This moratorium allowed him, among other things, to defund Planned Parenthood by approaching it as a budget issue rather than a social issue.

But "My Man Mitch", one of our party's few Democrat Whisperers, announced he wasn't running. I was devastated. After a few months of searching for a similarly authentic personality, one with fiscal bona fides to match Mitch's, I found one: Governor Rick Perry of Texas.

Perry's authenticity resounded in me; his eleven-year record of economic performance in Texas couldn't be seriously challenged; he wasn't afraid to part ways with generic GOP thinking when he disagreed with it, particularly on immigration issues; and he attracted a loyal following. On that last point, I must say this: Some of the nicest people I've met recently on Twitter and Facebook are people I've encountered by advocating on behalf of Rick Perry. He didn't just attract supporters, he attracted good and decent supporters. Unfortunately, he didn't attract enough of them.

Rick couldn't overcome his initial debate performances- likely a result of the pain medication he took following his back surgery. His later debate performances were extraordinary, but too late to save the campaign.

So now that he has dropped out, who should I support?

I suppose it's fair to say I'm on the "Anybody But Obama" bandwagon. We're not just choosing the next President. His success or failure will also decide our success or failure in retaking the Senate- which is crucial to our cause- as well as success or failure, to some degree, in state and local elections. Whomever occupies the White House for the next four years will also replace at least two, perhaps as many as four, Supreme Court justices- determining the composition of the Court for the next twenty years. We must, at any cost, win in November. To quote a great fictional leader, "all other concerns are secondary".

We have four contenders for the nomination now. We can safely eliminate two right away: Ron Paul and Rick Santorum. Paul doesn't have enough support among registered Republicans to win the nomination, and Santorum, despite the recent endorsement of the Family Research Council, doesn't appeal enough to moderate elements of the party to win the nomination either.

So, I am left with two choices: Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney.

I'm not going to get into either candidates' record, since both are substantially lacking in genuine conservatism. My one and only concern is stated above: Which has a better chance of defeating Barack Obama.

And my choice- this is difficult to type- is Mitt Romney.

Romney has the better organization of the two, by far. Gingrich's campaign staff have already walked out on him once, and his organization failed to get him on the ballot in Virginia. Romney's organization, by comparison, has made no missteps.

Romney is inoffensive to the middle. Let's remember that he won election in a heavily-left state. He has appeal to moderates and independents. Some people on the right discount the notion of "electability"- I don't. We won't win by "energizing the base", which is merely political speak for "preaching to the choir". We win by getting 270 electoral votes, and that means convincing the- gasp- moderates and independents to vote our way. By comparison, Gingrich has a history of turning people off. For example, he recently told gay people to vote for Obama. Let's also remember that he once was so offensive, his own party turned on him and pushed him out of leadership in the House.

Central to our success in November is convincing the unconvinced middle that our view of deregulated, free market capitalism holds the key to our economic success. Romney, as is already known, spent a career as a venture capitalist. Dan Henninger at the Wall Street Journal makes a great argument that venture capitalists like Bain contributed heavily to salvaging the American economy in the early 1980s. By comparison, Gingrich has argued against venture capitalism, dipping into the bag of leftist talking points.

Let's be honest: Mitt Romney is a salesman, and a damned good one at that.

I have reservations about Romney: He's not entirely gun-friendly, he signed RomneyCare, and he's spoken favorably of a national VAT tax. Gingrich has negative points against him, too: He's not entirely gun-friendly either, he also has a long history of supporting government health care, his welfare reform plan is pretty shabby, and he believes FDR was "the greatest President of the 20th century".

Let's remember what I said earlier: This is not a choice of which candidate is 'slightly more conservative' than the other; it's a choice of which has the best chance of winning the middle and becoming the next President of the United States.

I believe that man with the best chance is Mitt Romney.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

NY Governor Cuomo Proposes End To Ballistic ID Database

In his budget proposal speech yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed eliminating the state's decade-old Combined Ballistic Identification System (CoBIS) as part of a budget which includes substantial spending cuts, pension reform, Medicaid mandate relief and a pay-for-performance program for public school teachers.

CoBIS, which electronically scans spent shell casings from new handguns sold in the state, has cost NY taxpayers an estimated $43 million. More than 350,000 shell casings have been catalogued by CoBIS, but not a single crime has been solved by the system since it began operations on January 1, 2001.

New York State Rifle and Pistol Association (NYSRPA) called on Governor Cuomo last month to include the elimination of CoBIS in his proposed budget.

The move to eliminate CoBIS comes on the heels of a proposal by state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to explore changes to the state gun laws which may lead to concealed carry reciprocity; as well as several successful lawsuits related to state gun laws and two current lawsuits by Second Amendment Foundation attorney Alan Gura, who won the Heller and McDonald decisions before the U.S. Supreme Court. One suit challenges the cost of obtaining a pistol permit in New York City while the other, in Westchester County, seeks to eliminate the "may-issue" language of the state's licensing law.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Remembering Dr. King's Battle Against Gun Control

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Like every year, there will be discussion of his life and achievements. I wish to tell a different story: the story of his struggle against racist gun control laws.

Dr. King, who was a registered Republican, kept guns at home for self-defense. He applied for a permit to carry a handgun, but was denied by authorities in Alabama. Like most states at the time, Alabama had a "may-issue" carry permit system, which allowed authorities to deny a permit for any articulable reason. These gun control laws, in the South, constituted the first Jim Crow laws. As Justice Clarence Thomas noted in the U.S. Supreme Court's Heller decision, the original intent of the 14th Amendment, passed during Reconstruction, was to guarantee First and Second Amendment rights- and the natural right of self-defense- to newly-freed black people. I noted the irony of Herman Cain, a black man who lived during Segregation, making a "states' rights" argument about gun control antithetical to this cause.

There is another gun control issue which must be raised, in relation to Dr. King. In order to understand it, one must understand the extraordinary lengths black people had to go to in order to acquire firearms in that time period. Few dealers were willing to sell firearms to blacks; among those few were pawnbrokers, who also commonly sold firearms in that time period. Since much of their clientele was black (pawning was generally the only source of credit for blacks back then), pawnbrokers were more amenable to selling guns to them.

For black families who didn't have access to an agreeable pawn shop dealer, the options for buying guns were very limited: Finding a sympathetic white person to act as a strawman to buy guns for them; pooling money with other families to travel to a gun store in a Northern state; or by mail order.

All of these activities were prohibited by the Gun Control Act of 1968. This act instituted an exceptionally restrictive licensing scheme for gun dealers- a scheme which required a special license to act both as a gun dealer and pawnbroker; it banned the interstate transfer of firearms except between licensed dealers; and it banned mail-order, out-of-state, and straw man purchases.

An historical point must be noted here: The assassination of Dr. King fueled the passage of the '68 GCA. Let me state that again: Dr. King's assassination was used as political ammunition to pass a gun control law intended to frustrate black people from buying guns for self-defense.

The history of gun control laws is a history of racism and bigotry. I note that in my home state of New York, the Sullivan Law- named for the megalomaniac mob-boss Timothy "Big Tim" Sullivan, the most corrupt of Tammany Hall Democrats- crafted a law in 1911 to prevent Italians, Jews, and Eastern European immigrants from getting a handgun license. The two years following the passage of the Sullivan Act were as bizarre as the law he crafted: He suffered from tertiary syphilis, was committed to an insane asylum, escaped, and died from being severed in half by a train.

Gun control advocates- mainly Democrats- generally ignore both the bigoted origins of gun control laws, and the bizarre personalities of politicians who endorse them. Let's remember this today, when we celebrate Dr. King: A registered Republican, a gun owner, a champion of human rights, and a good and decent man who was denied the right to defend himself from a murderer.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ron Paul Isn't Dead Yet

Yesterday I described the need to capitalize on Ron Paul's following among younger voters. Despite predictions that his campaign is now on the decline, I don't think we should count him out just yet.

Paul's success to date has been attributed- rightly or wrongly- to the fact that Iowa allows same-day registration, and New Hampshire is an open primary state. As the theory goes, since the next several primaries are closed and require voters to be registered in advance, Paul's success will diminish.

Let me throw a monkey wrench into this reasoning: Super Tuesday. In just over seven weeks, eleven states will hold primaries or begin caucuses on a single day. Here is the list:

Georgia- open primary
Idaho- open primary, same-day registration
Massachusetts- open primary
North Dakota- open primary, no voter registration
Tennessee- open primary
Vermont- open primary
Virginia- open primary
Wyoming- same-day registration (caucus Tuesday to Friday)

See a pattern?

And while some will be quick to point out that Paul's chance of success in states like Georgia or Tennessee are expected to be slim, let me remind the read that Paul finished only 2 percentage points' difference from Romney in Iowa. Iowa. The "evangelical" state.

I think it's clear by now that most of these states will go to Romney. Indeed, Doug Mataconis at Outside The Beltway makes the following predictions about Paul's future in this primary season:
  • Ron Paul will not receive more than 23% of the vote in any contested primary or caucus going forward. By “contested” I mean a race where Mitt Romney still faces a serious challenge for the Republican nomination.
  • Ron Paul will not place higher than third in any contested primary or caucus in which there are more than three candidates in the race at the time
  • After the race whittles down to Romney and Paul (who will not get out of this race until the better end), there will not be a single two-person debate.
  • Ron Paul will not run as a third-party candidate in the fall.
But, as Brian Doherty at Reason points out, winning isn't everything for Paul:

I have held my expectations in check for five years about the political possibilities of the whole “Ron Paul for President” thing, and he and his fans have exceeded them every step of the way. I vaguely saw the shape of what 2012 could mean for the ideas of liberty as represented by Paul, as written about in my forthcoming book Ron Paul’s Revolution, but never mustered enough hubris to predict its success with confidence. That confidence is beginning to seem justified about now. (Success, here, does not necessarily mean being the Republican candidate. But it does mean creating the solidified movement of ideas and passion that can grow to dominate American politics. That is, Romney is Rockefeller; Paul is Goldwater.) Paul’s encouraging early results this year are the most significant political results for the cause of liberty I could have imagined, arriving faster than I could have imagined. I expect it to only get more interesting from here.

Brian infers something which appeals to me: The idea that some of the libertarian mantra of individual liberty and economic freedom could sweep Republican politics even more than it already has. The fact that libertarian talking points- smaller government, economic freedoms, property rights, fiscal policy- have become mainstream within the GOP, is simply astonishing to me and other long-time Libertarians.

Ron Paul will hang around as long as he has money and support, and he has both in droves. If his supporters can weather him through the next seven weeks and bring him some success on Super Tuesday, that could be the bump he needs to maintain his support and keep him going for quite awhile longer. Doug makes another point in his post linked above:

The personality cult, the newsletters, and Paul’s ties to Paleoconservatives who think Abraham Lincoln was a tyrant and defend the Confederacy. This is not a good recipe for a “pro-liberty movement” at all. Rather than helping advance libertarianism, I’m coming to the conclusion that Ron Paul and his supporters are doing serious damage to it.

I echoed this point in an earlier post:

The best thing we can do to preserve "the Libertarian moment" is to cut Ron Paul loose. Yes, he was one of the formative figures in modern libertarianism. But he's a liability to our movement we simply can't afford.
While Paul is certainly bringing more attention to our cause, one has to wonder what the baggage fee for this attention will be.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bringing Younger Voters Into The GOP

Winston Churchill famously said "Anyone who is 20 and isn't a liberal has no heart; anyone who is 30 and isn't a conservative has no brain".

Within the last 24 hours, both Sarah Palin and Larry Sabato have stated an inarguable truth in interviews on FOX News: if the Republican party doesn't capitalize on Ron Paul's following among younger voters, we won't win in 2012. A large part of Obama's success in 2008 was due to a massve turnout by young voters.

So what does the GOP have to offer young, naturally left-leaning voters?

Like any other demographic, young voters need jobs. In fact, the highest unemployment rate is among people under 21. Our party has a solution to unemployment: Cutting taxes and deregulating businesses, to open the flood gates of job creation. The Democrats have no plan, merely a talking point: "We'll give you an unemployment check".

They want to be sure mom and dad are secure. They expect their parents' retirement will be provided. We know this isn't true: Social Security and Medicare are in trouble and need to be reformed, otherwise these programs will go bankrupt. We have a solution to this problem: Privatized retirement and medical plans which operate less expensively and preserve seniors' benefits. The Democrats have no solution, just a talking point: "Everything's fine, Republicans just want to throw Granny off a cliff".

They're compassionate. They believe taxing rich people to distribute money to the poor is "compassionate". We know better: Assistance is necessary, but breeding dependency on government money isn't "compassionate", it robs people of their dignity. The source of that money- taxing job creators- is also part of the cause of unemployment problem.

Most importantly, though, is the hate rhetoric college-age voters are exposed to on a daily basis. They are told conservatives "hate" minorities, "hate" gay people, "hate" women, "hate" poor people, "hate" foreigners, "hate" people of other religions, and so on. This propaganda is, in fact, the foundation of the Democratic machine- claiming "tolerance" by comparing themselves to an intolerant straw man Republican of their own creation.

Which is the really tolerant party? We are! We ended slavery, we opposed Prohibition, we enacted womens' suffrage, we were at the forefront of the civil rights movement. Abe Lincoln was a Republican. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican. Jeanette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, was a Republican. When Susan B. Anthony illegally (because she was a woman) voted in 1872, she stated she'd "positively voted the Republican ticket- straight".

What will kill our chances with younger voters is any hint of intolerance. As I stated yesterday, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are liabilities to the party. Racism and homophobia aren't the GOP message, and these two need to be cut out right away.

While Ron Paul has done a great job of preaching fiscal conservatism to young voters, he won't be the Republican party's nominee, and among those young voters who aren't his direct supporters, the newsletters will be a big turn-off. Nonetheless, we have an opportunity to capitalize on his success in this demographic. Palin and Sabato are right: If we fail to do so, we lose.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Liabilities In The GOP

Theoretically, the Republican party is in a good position for the 2012 election: Unemployment is high, which is bad for a sitting president. The public isn't too keen on Barack Obama's "tax the rich" rhetoric or the idea of government-run health care. The economy is the Republican party's best talking point, and the Democratic party's worst. If 2010 is any indication, the public will vote for fiscal responsibility.

What the public won't vote for, and what is guaranteed to turn them off, is divisiveness on social issues. For the time being, at least, Democrats have won the debate on social issues (for better or for worse).

Naturally, we see the liberal attack machine making the best possible use of this arrangement. GOP debates have steered away from the economy and onto social issues. Note Saturday night's debate for example, with George Stephanopoulos aggressively (and absurdly) questioning Mitt Romney on contraception (a social issue from the 1960s), and Diane Sawyer's litany of questions on homosexuality.

Liberals realize that an election centered around fiscal policy and the economy will guarantee their loss, and an election centered around social issues will guarantee their success. Liberals are a one-trick pony at this point: The only weapon they have against us is to accuse us of bigotry. This is, in fact, precisely the reason Gov. Mitch Daniels recommended a "social issues moratorium".

On this point, we have two massive liabilities in the GOP field: Ron Paul, with his virulently racist newsletters, and Rick Santorum, who has compared gay people to pedophiles and beastophiles. The success of these two candidates in Iowa- a close second- and third- place, respectively- only serves to reinforce the liberal bias against us. And let's be clear: the bias isn't against those two candidates, the bias is against all of us. Paul and Santorum won't be 'singled out' by the liberal attack machine, they'll be used as examples of how "all Republicans" think and feel about minorities.

The fact that these two extensively bickered with each other at the weekend debates doesn't help us much, either.

Let me sidetrack for a moment: Once upon a time, I had a job as a pizza delivery driver. My boss insisted that all of us delivery guys polish our shoes, tuck in our shirts, wear a tie and be clean-shaven, because "we have to look better than everybody else". There's a life lesson here, applicable to politics: Image matters. We can't control what the mainstream media will say or infer about our side. We can, however, campaign better, smarter, and cleaner than our competition.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rick Perry Can't Debate, Huh?

This weekend, Rick Perry did a phenomenal job in back-to-back debates in New Hampshire.

David Gregory asked a typically loaded liberal question of Jon Huntsman: Name three spending cuts which will cause people "pain". Then Gregory asked Perry an audience question: "Is it un-American for Americans to feel relieved when the government helps them?". Perry took on both questions, rejecting the "government compassion" rhetoric and talking about the dignity of being self-sufficient- a core principle of conservatism- and he did it with a good laugh line to boot (at 1:00):

This was Perry's best moment, in my opinion: Rick Santorum infers that libertarians are anarchists (a constant theme from him), bickers with Ron Paul, and then Perry delivers his best line of the weekend (at 1:07):

I'm sure we could expect more of these debate moments, but Rick doesn't seem to be getting much air time in the debates now. Certainly not as much as was given to the other candidates.

On Twitter, I saw this tweet from @evanpower which best encapsulates the question for GOP voters now:
Everyones excuse on why Rick Perry shouldn't win was he cannot debate, now that he has shown he can, what's the issue?
Good question!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Which Rick Is Most Conservative?

Rick Santorum said the following in a radio interview (VIDEO):
"One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a Libertarianish right. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn't get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn't get involved in cultural issues. That is not how traditional conservatives view the world. There is no such society that I'm aware of, where we've had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture."
We've "never had a society" where low taxes, low regulation, broad personal liberty, and minimal government intrusion "succeeds as a culture"?

Let's see how "traditional conservatives view the world":

Barry Goldwater:
I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?
Walter Williams:
... liberty refers to the sovereignty of the individual.

Government is necessary, but the only rights we can delegate to government are the ones we possess.
Calvin Coolidge:

Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.
Ronald Reagan:
If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. (...) The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.
Now compare this quote from Rick Perry's book:
Our citizens are tired of big government raising their taxes and cooking up new ways to micromanage their lives, our citizens are tired of big government killing jobs with their do-gooder policies. In short the people are Fed Up!
Ask yourself this: Which candidate is most likely to leave you alone, get out of the way of business, lower your taxes and "make government as inconsequential as possible"? Which man represents "traditional conservatives" best?

This is yet another on my list of reasons to love Rick Perry.

(Photo credit Pool/Getty Images North America)

Friday, January 6, 2012

NY Assemblyman Brian Kolb On CCW

Earlier this week I posted a story about the possibility of concealed carry reciprocity coming to New York. What follows is my conversation with New York Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua). We discussed CCW reciprocity and gun owners' rights. I have attempted to faithfully reproduce it from a problematically-connected phone conversation into a readable text.
Me: The New York Post quoted you in favor of leniency for Meredith Graves, who was arrested in New York City for handgun possession but has a carry permit in Tennessee. The same article said Sheldon Silver is forming a committee to explore changes to the pistol permit law to give leniency to permit holders from other states who bring handguns here. Question: Can you clarify what’s being discussed: Is it a reduction in sentence for out of state permit holders found with a handgun, or would it be a law allowing out-of-state permit holders to legally carry handguns in New York?
BK: My personal preference is that we recognize registered permit holders throughout the country in this state, in other words, if they have a permit for a certain handgun that they're carrying as long as they match that there'd be no penalty, that they'd be recognized just as if they have a license or permit in New York State. I don't know what the Speaker (Silver) has in mind in terms of his thought process, because quite frankly, traditionally, the Assembly Democrat Conference has been what I call an 'anti-gun-owner' crowd in terms of legislation, so I find it interesting that he'd be open-minded to having a committee, but I'd hope they'd explore every avenue and not just having a different sentence if you're carrying a registered firearm and have a permit in another state.
Me: Can you tell me your observations about the ‘mood’ of the state government with regard to relaxing gun laws? Do you see support among other elected representatives to make New York gun laws more permissive?
BK: Well, certainly there are some of us in both houses of the legislature that want obviously common-sense gun laws. The problem is, every year in the Assembly they propose a litany of what I commonly refer to as "the gun package", which is a series of laws that really restrict and penalize law-abiding gun owners, rather than focusing in on what I would call "true illegal" criminal use of firearms, and every new bill that is proposed is going to really have an impact on the law-abiding gun owner versus the criminal, which I think is crazy (laughs) or ridiculous. And now, for the last two years and we're having my third year, our conference sponsors a sporstmans'/sportswomens' outdoor legislative awareness day, where we bring in speakers such as Wayne LaPierre and others right into the legislative office building, and we have programs and remarks by a variety of pro-gun advocates, and we're trying to bring more- what I'll call- legitimate political pressure to the New York State legislature to have more reasonable and common-sense law on the books, and not just looking to put something on that looks good but does nothing to solve a crime or prevent a crime.

Me: Several weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 822, the ‘National Right-To-Carry Act”, which would make interstate reciprocity a federal mandate. Question: Do you support a federal reciprocity mandate, or do you believe reciprocity should be left to state governments to decide?
BK: My preference is that it's done at the federal level, because every state has to abide by it, and then you don't have to worry about the persnicketyness of an individual state legislature or governor, so if the Feds do it that's wonderful because all 50 states are following the same law and you don't have to check online what one state does versus another, but if the federal government is not going to do it, then I'll continue to push in New York State to at least have a reciprocal permit law that we recognize other states that have (carry licenses).

Me: In some counties in New York, pistol permits are typically issued 'restricted', meaning they are only valid for activities such as hunting and target shooting and not valid for concealed carry for personal protection. Also, most upstate residents' pistol permits are currently not valid in New York City. Question: If reciprocity became law due either to a change by the legislature or because of a federal mandate, would Upstate residents be able to count on a change in the law to make their own permits valid for defensive carry throughout the state?
BK: Oh absolutely, I would want that as well. Every county under the same rule, including the counties in New York City. As you know, Mayor Bloomberg is not real big on that idea. But I think, you know, I have a pistol permit in New York State to carry a concealed weapon, and I think it's ridiculous that I have to go through another permit process in the state I live in, because of the rules that are set differently on a political agenda in the city of New York. Quite frankly, I think that's inconsistent, and it's not fair to all New Yorkers, and certainly I would advocate for the same law through the entire state regardless of where you live.

Me: Last May, a local CBS affiliate reported that New York State Police released the names and addresses of handgun licensees throughout the state. Two questions: 1) What steps have been taken by the legislature to protect the privacy of New York gun owners? and 2) Would people from out-of-state have cause to worry about their privacy if they travel here with a legal handgun assuming that reciprocity does pass?
BK: Well, to be honest with you, I was not familiar with that list being released by the state police, so that's the first time I've heard of that, I must have missed that story. I don't think we should be releasing the names. For invasion of privacy purposes, if you're a registered firearm owner, and you have a permit, it's a matter of public record in terms of where you have to get the permit, but I don't think we should be showcasing who has a firearm and who doesn't, I don't think it's anybody's business, as long as you're carrying a permit to carry or own. But I'm not aware of any legislation that has been introduced, so I'd have to do a little bit more research on this subject, because I wasn't even aware of what was supposedly released publicly.

Me: On the subject of privacy concerns, at yesterday’s State of the State address, Governor Cuomo proposed a new law to require a person convicted of any crime to submit a DNA sample to the state database.
First, does the term “all crimes”, as the Governor put it, mean what it sounds like- that a person convicted of an offense such a misdemeanor petit larceny would have to submit a sample?
BK: Yes, I believe that's what he meant, although he didn't say that specifically. I've been in favor of expanding the DNA database, because that has been proven to solve crimes, and also allow us to open up and close old cold cases, because quite frankly there's alot of recidivism in crime, and having traceability to people most inclined to repeat it, so a petty larceny could grow to a grand larceny could grow to something more serious, so I absolutely support expanding the DNA database.
Me: Do you think there should be a limit on which offenses are included and which are not, so for example, obviously you wouldn't want to include traffic tickets, but do you think there's a certain class of offenses that should not be included in the requirement to submit a DNA sample?
BK: I think you hit a great example. Traffic violations, I don't think warrant a DNA sample. Having said that, maybe drunk driving should be, just because of the nature of the crime or the infraction. If it's a felony, you'll have to go through the sobriety test anyway. I guess I would say I'd be open to looking at whatever the list is, but certainly traffic violations would seem to me not necessary to do it for that as one example.
Me: Understanding that we're talking about, currently, a list of violent offenses for which an offender has to submit DNA, to potentially all offenses where the offender would have to submit DNA. Handgun owners in New York must already supply fingerprints, photographs, spent shell casings from handguns for ballistic identification, personal references, employment information, credit history, mental health history, address history, spouse’s information, neighbors’ information, and a check of their criminal records, DMV records, and tax records, do you believe some in the state government may want to require handgun owners to also submit DNA samples as a condition of getting a pistol permit?
BK: I don't think so, I don't think it's necessary. Certainly, law-abiding gun owners- as you just pointed out- there's a whole host of information on file with legitimate, legal gun owners, so no, I don't think there's any point in having DNA, because you have all the information on that particular gun and shell casing anyway, so what would be the point? (laughs) That would be, pardon the expression, "overkill".
Me: That's true, and that's the thing about gun owners- I'm sure you know the sentiment- alot of us who are gun owners here in New York already feel like we're considered somewhat criminal, you know what I mean?
BK: Absolutely.
It's good to know that even in New York, where many gun owners have simply given up hope of the gun laws changing, that we have state representatives who are continuing to work on our behalf.
My thanks to Assemblyman Kolb and his staff.
(Thanks to James Allen from TypicalShooter for producing the graphic.)