Author Archives: Alex Kauffman

Why THIS Libertarian Is Voting For Mitt 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.

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.

SB1: Indiana’s “No Illegal Police Entry” 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.

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)

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.

(Photo credit Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia.org)

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, who suggested a 100% inheritance tax rather than an income tax, that we aren’t an individual society, we are a family society, and taxing inheritance would eliminate any reason to accumulate wealth. He was correct. We libertarians champion individual rights and dignity, and the individual’s freedom to associate and pursue prosperity and happiness. But these liberties 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.

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.

Green Failures

Here are a few of the latest companies to join the growing list of ”green” “sustainable energy” failures that have been supported by the current Administration’s deficit “stimulus” spending. All this financing has been done using your tax dollars…well, actually tax dollars to be paid in the future by your grandchildren and great grandchildren to China. Plus interest:

Evergreen Energy-Which has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, saying it’s “impossible to maintain operations” due to funding shortfalls. This announcement comes after the company received $5.3 million in “stimulus” funds.

Amonix Inc.-A manufacturer of solar panels that received $5.9 million from the “stimulus”, will lay off about 200 employees only seven months after opening a factory in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s home State of Nevada.

Beacon Power Corp-Sought bankruptcy protection last year after they received a $43 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.

Ener1 Electric-A car battery manufacturer, filed for bankruptcy last Thursday, three years after receiving a $118.5 million grant from the U.S. government.

These are all in addition to Solyndra-A solar panel maker that received a $535 million loan guarantee, then famously filed for Chapter 11 protection weeks ago.

This should be quite the political embarrassment for the current White House occupant, who has championed these loans as a way to create “green energy” jobs. When you total up the costs to taxpayers for just these five companies, it comes to $707.7 million. Although it’s a recognizable reality that we now live in an insane world where politicians throw the phrase “trillions of dollars” around like nobody’s business, even a cocaine addict would take a very long time to blow $1 million, much less $707.7 million. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

These are some of the myriad of problems found with centrally planned big government intruding into the free market. Not only is the spending inherently wasteful, the fact that these companies were in large part operated by big donors to Democratic political campaign points to the corruption involved when ideologically captive, politically driven politicians make investment decisions based on cronyism. Can you say quid quo pro?

All government energy subsidies should end, leaving energy companies free to compete without government interference. If and when “green” “sustainable energy” becomes the best competitive solution, consumers will reward “green” companies that used private capital to successfully situate themselves in the market by purchasing their products. That’s how it works. That’s what makes America the greatest economic success in human history.

http://mjfellright.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/green-failures/

Since Perry's Out, I'm With Romney

As reported, Gov. 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 the man with the best chance is Mitt Romney.

Eight Democrats Arrested For Ballot Fraud In Troy NY

Troy, NY city councilman Gary Galuski became the eigth Democrat implicated by Rensselaer County officials in connection with the 2009 Working Families Party primary ballot fraud case.

New York’s Working Families Party, which is closely connected with ACORN and SEIU, frequently co-endorses Democratic candidates for public office.

Erick Erickson at RedState has extensively covered WFP.

(Photo credit Matt H. Wade via Wikipedia.org)

 

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:

Alaska
Georgia- open primary
Idaho- open primary, same-day registration
Massachusetts- open primary
North Dakota- open primary, no voter registration
Ohio
Oklahoma
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.

Rick Perry Can't Debate? (VIDEO)

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!

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.

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.

(Image via Wikipedia.org)

Romney On Guns: Like Father, Like Son

Mitt Romney says he “supports the Second Amendment”. And, based on a casual glance at his record, you could almost believe him. As governor of Massachusetts, he signed some laws to protect hunters and clarified some language in the state’s gun laws.

On the other hand, he signed an “assault weapons” ban. As Mitt has said, he was a Republican governor in “a tough state”, and he had to make some compromises on these issues.

Naturally, there is some back-and-forth about Romney’s gun views- were his actions a “net positive” for gun owners in Massachusetts, as he claims, or were his efforts cleverly-disguised gun grabs?

Let me ask you, the reader, a question: Who was the most influential in forming your political views? I’m willing to bet most of you answered “my parents”.

Mitt Romney’s father, George, was governor of Michigan from 1963-1969; Mitt has often said that his father was his greatest inspiration. And if we compare the gun laws each Romney passed while governor of their respective states, we find some telling parallels.

Handgun Ownership: In order to understand Mitt Romney’s actions here, it is necessary to give a little background information about Massachusetts gun control laws: In 1998, Massachusetts established a list of “safety” criteria for handguns sold in the state. The criteria were designed to disqualify most handguns. The Roster is the list of those few makes and models which have passed the testing requirements.

Mitt Romney created two exemptions: One for handguns already licensed in the state prior to October 21, 1998, and one for “match-grade” pistols (high-dollar handguns purpose-built for shooting competitions).

The 1998 exemption is significant when one understand the “preban effect”: Some gun laws are written with an effective date, where firearms sold after the date are subject to the law, while those sold before the date are “grandfathered”. Since there is a limited supply of grandfathered items, the sale price of those items skyrockets.

The net effect of Mitt Romney’s exemptions was this: In Massachusetts, a person now has three options for legally owning a handgun: 1) an expensive pre-1998 handgun; 2) an expensive “safety-approved” handgun; 3) an expensive match-grade handgun.

Compare this to George Romney’s “safety” law- Public Acts 215 and 216 of 1964- which required all handguns to be submitted, within ten days of purchase, for inspection by a law enforcement officer in order to obtain a “safety certificate”. “Safety”, however, was undefined, and determining that a handgun was “safe” was left entirely to the discretion of the officer conducting the inspection. In effect, law enforcement could determine any handgun to be “unsafe”, and confiscate the handgun on the spot, without compensating the buyer for his loss. This provided a disincentive for unpopular persons and minorities to attempt to lawfully buy handguns, knowing their handguns would be confiscated. Likewise, a lower-income person would not want to take the risk of saving money to buy a handgun, only to have their investment confiscated in this manner.

Like father, like son: Both Romneys used the guise of “safety” to deny the right to own a handgun to lower-income persons and “undesireables“.

Carrying Handguns: Before George Romney became governor, Michigan had created a very restrictive licensing law for carrying a concealed handgun: License applicants had to prove an immediate physical risk to a county license board consisting of representatives of the county prosecuting attorney, county sheriff, and the commissioner of state police. Needless to say, many applications for a carry license were rejected (and this state of affairs led to concealed carry reforms decades later). A concealed carry license was also required if a person wanted to transport a loaded handgun in an automobile, whether or not the handgun was concealed. Open (visible) carry of a handgun was technically legal (outside of an automobile), but in practice, doing it would usually lead to arrest for a “disturbing the peace” type of charge.

So, what was one to do if they wanted to carry a handgun, but weren’t politically connected enough to get a concealed carry license? Answer: Get a private security guard license. Said license authorized a person to carry a handgun openly without fear of arrest, carry a loaded handgun in an automobile, and was issued to virtually anyone who applied.

George Romney, however, made that practice illegal. Public Act 100 of 1966 made it a misdemeanor for a licensed security guard to carry a handgun except during work; Public Act 49 of 1967 made it a felony.

Romney did, however, extend concealed carry privileges in Michigan to licensees from other states- understanding that, in the 1960s, almost all states had similarly-restrictive processes for issuing a license to carry concealed. Romney did little more than extend a privilege given to an “elite few” in his state, to the similar “elite few” of other states.

By comparison, Mitt Romney had little work to do in this regard: By the time he took office, Massachusetts already had a two-tiered carry law: Persons with a “Class B” license could “carry” (transport in a box) an unloaded firearm to and from hunting areas and target ranges; the “elite few” granted a “Class A” license (issued to those who could prove a “need” to local law enforcement, as in Michigan in the 1960s) were entitled to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense.

While running for Governor in 2002, Mitt Romney infamously said: “I won’t chip away at them; I believe they protect us and provide for our safety.” And he didn’t.

Like father, like son: Both Romneys supported restricting the carrying of handguns for self-defense to an “elite few” of police and politically-connected businessmen.

Assault Weapons: The firearms we nowadays call “assault weapons”- certain types of semi-automatic rifles which cosmetically resemble military rifles- were extremely uncommon in the early 1960s (indeed, most modern “assault rifles” had not yet been invented). On this point we can’t compare the record of the two Romneys, as this is a modern gun rights issue. Mitt Romney signed Massachusetts’ assault weapons ban- and has frequently cited that he did so because such weapons as “especially lethal” and “not sporting” (see below). As I have stated before, this type of weapon is uniquely suited to the growing problem of home-invasion crimes; denying them to the public places a limit on the practical application of an individual’s right of self-defense.

Sporting Purposes: George Romney signed only one hunting regulation as governor- Public Act 159 of 1967, which created a regulatory board for hunting and mandated certain hunting safety practices. Mitt Romney, as governor, signed laws to protect shooting clubs, institute youth hunter safety courses, and restored funding to the Massachusetts Inland Fish and Game Fund. Both Romneys used their “pro-sporting” message as part of their election campaigns.

Like father, like son: Both Romneys used “sporting” rhetoric to conceal their gun control agendas.

In sum: It’s not fair to say Mitt Romney is “anti-gun”. Likewise, it’s not reasonable to believe Mitt was merely bending to the political will of the people of Massachusetts (I doubt the will of the people was to rehash 40-year-old gun control ideas from another state). As proved here, the more natural conclusion is that Mitt was emulating his father’s beliefs and ideals.

It is fair to say that Mitt is an elitist on the subject of firearms. His record demonstrates a WASP-y, 1950’s view of gun ownership: “Decent” people own guns for hunting and sporting, and protecting their homes. “Decent” people don’t “need” to carry guns for self-defense. Preventing people who aren’t “decent” from owning guns is a good idea.

His dad felt the same way.