A couple of weeks ago, Senator Rand Paul did a courageous and unusual thing by visiting Howard University in DC. Howard is what is known as a “historically black university,” founded in the wake of the Civil War to provide opportunities for higher education to African-Americans. It’s not exactly home turf for Republicans, but that’s precisely why Paul went, in order to bridge a massive gap that is hurting the GOP.
Response to his visit was mixed, but yesterday, NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous wrote a generally supportive op-ed on CNN. Although noting that Paul missed his target in most areas, there is one area that has promise:
Paul struck out when he tried to equate today’s Republican Party with the party of Abraham Lincoln, while ignoring much of the 150 years in between. (He even acknowledged his mistakes shortly after). But his willingness to step up to the plate can provide a lesson for a GOP struggling to get on top.
Republicans will not win black votes by paying lip service to party history while attacking social programs and voting rights. But they can make inroads by showing a commitment to civil rights, something Paul managed to do briefly in his remarks.
The specter of terrorism, especially on the American homeland is very frightening. These fears are especially acute in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack such as the bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday.
More recently and prior to this latest attack, however; according to a recent Gallup poll, terrorism received 0% when asked about America’s greatest problem. Sen. Mitch McConnell said in response to the mathon bombing: “I think it’s safe to say that, for many, the complacency that prevailed prior to September 11th has returned. And so we are newly reminded that serious threats to our way of life remain.”
Is Sen. McConnell right? Have Americans become complacent to these “serious threats”? Are Americans to blame for failing to be vigilant? Should we demand the federal government “do something” more to protect us?
In the midst of the debates about banning firearms with certain features, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s failed attempt to ban New Yorkers from drinking soft drinks he felt were too large, and the debate over whether or not same sex couples should have the ability to enter into a legal contract to have the same legal rights and responsibilities as married heterosexual couples, a thought occurred to me: “Gee there are a lot of people out there who just want to ban things!”
Why is this impulse so prevalent in our society? It seems that nearly everyone wants to be free to live their lives as they see fit. I haven’t met too many people who favor any notion of limiting their freedom because elected officials passed a law or majority of fellow citizens took a vote. When it comes to one’s own personal liberties, everyone is a libertarian! Consider that the Gadsen flag underneath the coiled rattlesnake reads: “Don’t Tread on Me.”
But far too many of these same people who jealously defend their own liberties are more than eager to limit someone else’s when that someone else engages in an activity that, for whatever reason, offends them. No, when it comes to other people, these people who don’t want their liberties tread on are not libertarian but majoritarian (i.e. political might makes right).
While I have my doubts about some of the more asinine gun control measures passing at the federal level, here in Colorado things aren’t looking so good for gun owners. Among the measures that stand a good chance of passing both houses of the legislature is banning concealed carry permit holders from bringing guns on college campuses. This would reverse a 2008 Colorado Supreme Court decision which stated that the CU Board of Regents could not prohibit permit holders from carrying concealed weapons on campus because college campuses were not exempted according to Colorado’s Concealed Carry Act of 2003.
These sentences in this Denver Post article jumped off the page:
“Students and guns are a bad mix,” said Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, the sponsor of the bill, adding that college student engage in risky behaviors like heavy drinking and drug use.
“As the research shows, you don’t need a gun on a college campus to be safe,” Levy said, saying data overwhelmingly shows students are at low risk of violent crime on campus.
Erick Erickson, master of the conservative blogging site RedState.com, has just penned a FoxNews column where he says we should just totally skip the drone debate and just kill the terrorists before they kill us. He goes through a series of so-called “justifications” for this terrible idea, before ending with this very chilling conclusion:
Just kill them before they kill us. At some point, we must trust that the president and his advisers, when they see a gathering of Al Qaeda from the watchful eye of a drone, are going to make the right call and use appropriate restraint and appropriate force to keep us safe.
Frankly, it should be American policy that any American collaborating with Al Qaeda is better off dead than alive. Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney should be proud.
First off, let’s get one thing straight—Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney are not people to celebrate or emulate. Nixon engaged in dirty, underhanded tactics to keep his presidency, tactics which when exposed led to the largest case of political corruption in modern American history. And Cheney, well, he’s just a jerk. A jerk who was beholden to his old company, Halliburton, and was not exactly in line with the Constitution on several issues. Erickson should not be looking to either with praise and approval, but the exact opposite.
In light of a Department of Justice memo laying out the general rules for assassinating American citizens with drones via a presidential “kill list” - and consequently, without Due Process - it was believed yesterday’s confirmation hearing for John Brennan as Central Intelligence Agency Director, the architect of these strikes, would be contentious. It sadly was not, and the Senate Intelligence Committee’s failure to press him on the assassinations of American citizens is nothing short of inexcusable.
As I stated in a post earlier this week, I did not expect the U.S. Senate to check the power it collectively usurped with the CIA; after all, they had a hand in constructing the legal framework for the extrajudicial assassinations of American citizens. The precedence set by this policy endangers the checks-and-balances inherent within a typical constitutional republic.
We’ve complained long and hard about the TSA and it’s terrible “security” practices for years. It’s a horrible agency that should have never been instituted. Fortunately, Rand Paul is on the case:
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he will very likely re-introduce legislation to drastically scale back the Transportation Securities Administration’s reach by privatizing TSA security screening operations at airports and creating a series of passenger protections, Politico reports.
“I think we are going to,” Paul said when asked if he would take another crack at the agency. “We have two different bills, one to privatize the TSA and then we have another one which is a passenger bill of rights.”
Paul’s introduced TSA privatization and flier bill of rights legislation last summer after resisting a pat-down, which postponed his flight and caused him to miss a speech at a March for Life rally.
One bill would have ended the TSA screening operation and require airports to choose companies from the private sector to do screening. The other bill would have allowed certain people to opt out of pat-downs, required distribution of a list of fliers’ rights, and greatly expanded an expedited screening program for frequent fliers.
As Barack Obama begins his second term in office, trust in the federal government remains mired near a historic low, while frustration with government remains high. And for the first time, a majority of the public says that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 9-13 among 1,502 adults, finds that 53% think that the federal government threatens their own personal rights and freedoms while 43% disagree.
In March 2010, opinions were divided over whether the government represented a threat to personal freedom; 47% said it did while 50% disagreed. In surveys between 1995 and 2003, majorities rejected the idea that the government threatened people’s rights and freedoms.
The growing view that the federal government threatens personal rights and freedoms has been led by conservative Republicans. Currently 76% of conservative Republicans say that the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms and 54% describe the government as a “major” threat. Three years ago, 62% of conservative Republicans said the government was a threat to their freedom; 47% said it was a major threat.
Perhaps one of the best stories this year was Scott Walker’s victory in his recall election. That election was prompted by Wisconsin passing a law that limited collective bargaining for some public-sector unions (most government employees, minus police and firefighters) and forced them to contribute more to their pensions.
Naturally, public unions threw a hissy fit at the thought that they would have to pay for their own benefits rather than forcing other people to pay for them—you know, government-backed robbery. They forced the recall election, but lost badly, and in the end it was perceived as a major blow to labor unions around the country. Not only did it deplete the Wisconsin unions’ coffers, it also damaged their image as a credible threat, and gave strength to more governors to fix their awful state budgets.
In retrospect, though, perhaps the big winner was Lawrence O’Donnell. Immediately after the results came in, O’Donnell proclaimed that the winner of the Wisconsin recall election was, bizarrely, Barack Obama. I derided him at the time, yet it turned out he was correct: Obama went on to win the 2012 presidential election, and took Wisconsin by 52% to Romney’s 46%.
Despite that, though, Walker’s recall victory was a major victory for free market advocates and libertarians everywhere. Let’s hope we can continue the fight under Obama’s second term.
Written by Brandon Combs, Director of the Calguns Foundation (@CalgunsFdn), and posted with permission.
In a press release issued by his office on Tuesday, California State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) announced that he has introduced a new piece of legislation, SB 47, modeled after a bill he introduced last year [SB 249] but that was held by the State Assembly. The bill prohibited semi-automatic weapons like AR-15s and AK-47s from having devices known as bullet buttons and mag magnets….SB 47 will also prohibit add-on kits that allow high-capacity magazines.”
The text of the bill as it stands today is simply: “It is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation relating to assault weapons.”
We’re not yet sure what “add-on kits” will defined as in SB 47 - the bill is currently a “spot bill” - but we are betting that Yee chief of staff Adam Keigwin will find some way to make a mess of the bill like he did last round. Sen. Yee’s SB 249 gun ban attempt, which stalled in the Appropriations Committee after significant efforts by the STOP SB 249 campaign (a project of CGF and dealer association) as well as groups like NSSF, would have forced gun owners to reconfigure their firearms as “featureless builds” and use detachable magazines (including lawfully-possessed large capacity magazines) or dispose of the firearms before the bill would have taken effect. If you haven’t seen the SB 249 YouTube videos by Wes Morris of Ten Percent Firearms and Jeff M of PRK Arms, be sure to check them out.