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.)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Can Rick Perry Still Win?

Tuesday night, Governor Rick Perry announced, after a disappointing showing in the Iowa caucuses, that he was returning to Texas to reevaluate his campaign. Wednesday morning, he tweeted that he was on his way to South Carolina.

The question of the moment for Perry supporters is this: Can Perry still win?

If the behavior of the Romney and Gingrich campaigns is any indication, he certainly can.

Pro-Romney PACs ran a littany of attack ads against Gingrich in Iowa, and it's likely these ads are partially responsible for Newt's poor performance there. Gingrich will likely retaliate in kind in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

This gives us the prospect of a mutually-assured-destruction scenario: Romney's been successful at assailing Gingrich, and Gingrich's ego demands he respond with an even harsher assault. Gingrich's legendary ability to draw proverbial blood with his comments will force Romney to escalate in turn (remember, this is the same Romney who tried to physically intimidate Rick Perry [PIC], and often tells other candidates "It's my turn now" in debates). I predict this escalation will go back-and-forth between Mitt and Newt for quite some time.

Attack ads from both camps could have two effects: 1) Souring primary voters with the negativity of both campaigns; 2) Souring voters on both of their records.

This leaves the door open for a candidate who can distance himself from the schoolyard fighting and, by comparison, 'look Presidential'. Who could be that candidate?

I think it's safe to say Jon Huntsman won't be the nominee at this point. Michele Bachmann has dropped out. Rick Santorum, despite his win in Iowa, doesn't appear to have the organization or fundraising to last beyond Iowa. And once the closed-primary states start voting, Ron Paul is finished.

By default, it would be Rick Perry.

In order to succeed, Perry needs to rework his campaign. As Erick Erickson pointed out in this post at RedState, Rick's reboot must include removing the under-performing people in his staff who are handicapping him.

This also means Perry's people need to be better at disseminating information to pro-Perry bloggers, who make up the backbone of his messaging. This ties in to fundraising, too: the more the Perry message is spread, the more money comes into the campaign. It's a simple numbers game.

If Rick Perry is the candidate we believe him to be, we'll soon see a big turnaround in his campaign.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Concealed Carry Reciprocity... In New York?

Say it ain't so!

In fact, it could come to pass- and the idea of CCW reciprocity has created some strange bedfellows in New York's legislature.

Democrat Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is forming a committee to explore easing New York's license law to accomodate visitors from other states with legal handguns (being a lifelong New Yorker, I honestly believed I would never write that sentence). Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) strongly supports the measure as well.

The new discussion of interstate reciprocity comes after the arrest of two non-residents for handgun possession in recent weeks. Californian Mark Meckler and Tennesseean Meredith Graves- both of whom have valid concealed carry permits in their home states- brought handguns to New York City. In Graves' case, she was arrested when she asked a police officer where she could secure her pistol, after seeing a "no firearms" sign at Ground Zero.

Before going further, I want to point something out: I find it hard to believe that people sufficiently in-tune with gun laws to have CCW permits, weren't aware that New York is "off-limits" to out-of-state gun owners. This is especially true of Meckler, who is the co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.

That being said, though, these two cases illustrate the need to make substantial changes in New York's gun laws.

In addition to the political challenges of changing New York's century-old Sullivan Act, there are legal quirks involved in reciprocity as well.

New York mandates the registration of handguns. If the legislature decides to extend reciprocity only to residents of states which also mandate registration of handguns, then residents of only a few states would be able to enjoy the right to carry in NY.

The registration requirement is already problematic for New York residents: Family members cannot loan handguns amongst themselves, because only the registered owner may possess the handgun. As a matter of custom, married couples are permitted to 'cross-register' handguns to both spouses' licenses- however, this practice is not allowed in some counties, barring married couples from sharing handguns with each other.

Additionally, Upstate New Yorkers currently cannot carry handguns in New York City, unless their pistol permit is "validated" by the NYPD (a rare occurrence). In fact, many upstate New Yorkers can't carry at all, except while engaged in certain activities (such as hunting and target shooting), due to restrictions placed on their license by the issuing authority.

If out-of-state residents are authorized unlimited carry throughout the state, including in New York City, and are exempted from New York's registration requirement, but New York residents aren't, this could further fuel the "Brain Drain"- the term describing the fact that nearly a million disgruntled Upstaters have already left the state to live elsewhere in the last 20 years.

There's another angle to consider as well: New York's license law is dying. Several lawsuits in the past few years have successfully limited portions of gun laws in New York; and Alan Gura, the lawyer who successfully argued Heller and McDonald before the U.S. Supreme Court, is suing both New York City and Westchester County over parts of the pistol permit law. Sheldon Silver's committee may attract Democrats who desire to loosen NY's handgun laws just enough to pass the barest SCOTUS muster, to avoid being embarassed by a major court decision overturning most of the Sullivan Act.

Democrats have something else to worry about, too: Moderate Dems and independents who, while not necessarily in favor of more permissive gun laws, may take issue with the felony arrest of people attempting to obey the law, and the excesses of New York's licensing scheme. For example, privacy advocates were alarmed in May when New York State Police released the entire list of names and addresses of pistol permit holders- about half a million people- for distribution on the internet.

More on this story as it develops.

Where Do We Stand In Iowa?

Folks, it's time to break out the crystal ball and predict what will happen in Iowa tomorrow.

(Just kidding.)

While there's no clear leader in Iowa, Mitt Romney might be considered such, since he has led the polls the most consistently. However, the horse-trading nature of Iowa's process means that Romney has no guarantee of success. In addition, the politically-attuned Iowa caucusers may reconsider support for him, since Romney recently expressed support for a national VAT tax.

Then there's Ron Paul. The nature of the Iowa caucuses gives Paul an advantage: 17-year-olds can participate, independents can register Republican the day of the caucus, and active-duty military personnel registered to vote in Iowa but stationed elsewhere can't participate as absentees. These demographic 'slivers' taken together could make a big difference for Paul. On the other hand, Paul's racist, bigoted, and generally loony newsletters may make him too toxic for good-natured midwesterners.

Rick Santorum has seen a recent surge in polling. Whether this is an aberration or a genuine swing of support to him is anyone's guess; personally, I've stopped giving serious weight to polling, since the frequency with which the results change leads me to believe recent polls are unreliable.

Newt Gingrich has fallen slightly in polling, now in fourth place according to some polls behind Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum. If one is to believe the polling (see above), this would indicate that caucusgoers are growing wiser about Mr. Gingrich's poor Second Amendment record, long history of supporting socialized medicine, admiration of big-government historical figures, and his track record of poor leadership, and have decided to favor a more stable candidate.

And then there's Rick Perry, ostensibly in fifth place. Rick could have an excellent showing tomorrow, given the nature of the Iowa process: Iowa is a state where second choices count almost as much as first choices. Once a candidate is disqualified in the caucus process, that candidate's supporters can re-negotiate to back another candidate. Michele Bachmann is likely to be disqualified first; and if the "Santorum surge" is an aberration, and Santorum doesn't perform well, his supporters and Bachmann's supporters will most likely end up backing Perry as a second choice, which could push Perry above Gingrich.

As I noted a few days ago, things are changing among Republicans in Iowa, even the generally-accepted support for ethanol subsidies.

Whatever happens tomorrow, one thing is certain: It's going to be a nail-biter for political junkies.