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The war of ideas is alive and well. In North Carolina, it’s taken a vicious turn, with progressives targeting the state’s Republican leadership and Governor Pat McCrory, who was elected in 2012. Spearheading this effort is a 501 (c)(3) group known as BluePrint NC, which, according to their website:
is a partnership of public policy, advocacy, and grassroots organizing nonprofits dedicated to achieving a better, fairer, healthier North Carolina through the development of an integrated communications and civic engagement strategy. Ultimately, Blueprint aims to influence state policy in NC so that residents of the state benefit from more progressive policies such as better access to health care, higher wages, more affordable housing, a safer, cleaner environment, and access to reproductive health services.
It’s liberalism on steroids – which is bad for economic health. Mark Binker of WRAL.com, which covers the news in Raleigh, Durham, and Fayetteville, wrote yesterday that BluePrint NC drafted a memo, which aims to put “crippling” pressure on conservatives in the state.
According to documents included with the memo and interviews, the strategy outline was produced by Myers Research and Strategic Services for Project New America. It was originally provided to Progress North Carolina, a liberal nonprofit that has aggressively attacked McCrory during the 2012 campaign and his early term in office. Progress North Carolina shared the memo with Blueprint NC, a nonprofit that coordinates the activities of liberal-leaning nonprofits. In turn, Blueprint NC distributed it to its member organizations.
An electronic version of the memo appears to contain at least three separate documents. One is an email from outgoing Blueprint NC Communications Director Stephanie Bass describing the material and emphasizing that it is “CONFIDENTIAL to Blueprint, so please be careful – share with your boards and appropriate staff, but not the whole world.”
Sean Kosofsky, Blueprint NC’s director, said his group did not pay for or commission the research. “We were just forwarding it on,” he said.
The second document is a “talking points memo” that outlines strategies for progressive groups. Policy wins for the political left, the memo said, would likely be defined as “mitigating” legislation, rather than pushing their own agenda items.
“The most effective way to mitigate the worst legislation is to weaken our opponents’ ability to govern by crippling their leaders (McCrory, Tillis, Berger, etc…)” the memo reads, referring to the governor, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger.
The memo goes on to describe a “potential two-year vision” during which the groups would “eviscerate the leadership and weaken their ability to govern.” The bulk of the document is a poll memo that talks about how to frame opposition to conservative tax and education policies. The survey was conducted between Jan. 29 and Feb. 2.
Given how progressives handled Americans for Prosperity rallying in support of Michigan’s Right-to-Work legislation last December, I think we can all imagine what “crippling their leaders” means for this cadre of left-wingers. Conservative nonprofit groups also draft memos outlining political strategy, but seldom does it contain explicit orders to go after someone personally. However, another interesting development, with the leaking of this memo, centers on WRAL itself.
The Civitas Institute, a conservative organization operating within North Carolina, posted on their blog yesterday that Binker left out key facts in his piece about BluePrint, namely that the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, another civic engagement nonprofit in the state, gave the progressive group $35,000. Additionally, the Foundation gave:
$380,000 to the NC Justice Center which initially housed BlueprintNC when it was formed (the foundations 990 IRS reports are not current so there may be more) . The Goodmon family which owns WRAL has 4 family members on the board of the Fletcher Foundation including Barbara the President and Jim the chairman of the board. The Executive Director was formerly the head of the NC center for Voter Education, one of the original members of BlueprintNC. In addition Chris Fitzsimon, former WRAL reporter, is head of the liberal NC Policy Watch, the original lead attack group in the Blueprint coalition. Fitzsimon is also provided free airtime on Goodmon owned WRAL-FM from which he launches daily attacks on political opponents. The Fletcher Foundation has been a long time funder of Policy Watch is now housed in the Justice Center.
WRAL is also actually doing one of the items in the strategy memo. The memo on page 3 calls for tracking McCrory “Campaign Promises” and “slam him when he contradicts his promise.” WRAL appears to have taken that for action by launching their “Promise Tracker“, complete with cute little ”Skull & Crossbones” symbols.
Then again, how could this group operate surreptitiously – and methodically – in planning to bring North Carolina’s Republican leadership to its knees? As LaborUnionReport wrote about BluePrint on RedState, the organization likes to keep a low profile.
Blueprint has been created as a strategic initiative – focused on creating collaborative change and not focused on a public identity beyond our partners. Blueprint does not seek recognition for itself, but prefers that its partners be recognized for the good work that they do. [Emphasis added.]
Also, BluePrint’s allies seem to be the depraved spawn of ACORN.
In 2010, Blueprint NC’s “partners” were identified by the Civitas Institute which revealed a conglomeration of national and state “progressive” organizations—including the AFL-CIO’s A. Philip Randolph Institute, as well as the anti-life group NARAL.
In fact, Blueprint NC’s Director, Sean Kosofsky, is a NARAL alum, according to this bio:
Sean Kosofsky is currently the Director of Blueprint North Carolina. He is the former Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice NC, and has been an active visible LGBT leader since 1994. He was the Director of Poliyc for 12 years for Michigan’s leading LGBT rights organization, Triangle Foundation.
Blueprint NC also appears to be very well funded. The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, which was established in 1936 as a memorial to the youngest son of the founder of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, gave Blueprint NC $850,000 for “general operating support” in 2010.
The [Z. Smith Reynolds] Foundation is apparently still giving Blueprint NC money—to the sum of $400,000, according to a report in Friday’s [Charlotte] Observer. However, due to the light being shined on Blueprint NC’s strategy (and, consequently, the[ Z. Smith Reynolds] Foundation), that support may now be in jeopardy.
Nevertheless, the strategy detailed in this memo could easily be executed in other states by affiliates of BluePrint – which is probably their plan. The ‘Obamafication’ of the Democratic Party, and the liberal movement in general, has led to a progressive crusade to forcefully drag our nation to the far left. Conservatives, at present, seem to be incognizant of the ramifications of this highly-coordinated campaign, and don’t seem to be in rapid response mode in countering this liberal grassroots operation.
The progressive left has all the advantages in digital strategy, voter targeting, and youth outreach. Republicans are dreadfully behind the curve in this technological front that is critical in turning the tide against the liberal leviathan that has been unleashed against us. In the meantime, Civitas is holding their leadership conference on March 1, and I hope the various panels discuss BluePrint and this memo in order to fight back.
Excerpts of the memo are below. Full memo at the bottom of the page.
During its two year existence, that fig leaf council has met just four times formally, and just 18 times informally for “listening and action sessions” – i.e. gobbledygook – in different locations around the country. And while President Obama has suggested that the council is a “work council,” making proposals the administration took seriously, the facts belie those glowing words. Jay Carney even told the press last year that Obama didn’t really care about the jobs council:
There’s no specific reason [he hasn’t met with the jobs council], except the president has obviously got a lot on his plate. But he continues to solicit and receive advice from numerous folks outside the administration about the economy, about ideas that he can act on with Congress or administratively to help the economy grow and help create jobs.
A White House aide tells The Hill today that the jobs council “was only intended” to last for two years. Obama is reportedly irked by the fact that the jobs council has recommended lifting regulations rather than creating new ones.
No wonder why he left it to die. It must be hard sitting in a room where everyone tells you that you're doing the economy wrong.
Back in December of 2012, Georgetown law professor Louis Michael Seidman decided it was time trash the U.S. Constitution. He had to because "the American system of government is broken, and we're to blame. Why? It's due to "our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions." Yes, the obedience that the president, vice-president, every member of Congress, and the military take upon entering duty, or a new term.
Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.
I take it he doesn't like the part where Madison wrote that the federal government's powers were "few and defined." Regardless, it's a progressive rant against our government, and it's institutions. Seidman, although I'm not privy to his political views, feels that gridlock is a bad thing. He asks, "Why should a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?" He uses past American history of "constitutional disobedience" to justify his position to destroy our founding document.
Yesterday, CBS Sunday Morning provided a platform for Professor Seidman to continue his evisceration of the Constitution.
MICHAEL LOUIS SEIDMAN: I've got a simple idea: Let's give up on the Constitution. I know, it sounds radical, but it's really not. Constitutional disobedience is as American as apple pie. For example, most of our greatest Presidents -- Jefferson, Lincoln, Wilson, and both Roosevelts -- had doubts about the Constitution, and many of them disobeyed it when it got in their way.
To be clear, I don't think we should give up on everything in the Constitution. The Constitution has many important and inspiring provisions, but we should obey these because they are important and inspiring, not because a bunch of people who are now long-dead favored them two centuries ago. Unfortunately, the Constitution also contains some provisions that are not so inspiring. For example, one allows a presidential candidate who is rejected by a majority of the American people to assume office. Suppose that Barack Obama really wasn't a natural-born citizen. So what? Constitutional obedience has a pernicious impact on our political culture. Take the recent debate about gun control. None of my friends can believe it, but I happen to be skeptical of most forms of gun control. I understand, though, that's not everyone's view, and I'm eager to talk with people who disagree.
But what happens when the issue gets Constitutional-ized? Then we turn the question over to lawyers, and lawyers do with it what lawyers do. So instead of talking about whether gun control makes sense in our country, we talk about what people thought of it two centuries ago. Worse yet, talking about gun control in terms of constitutional obligation needlessly raises the temperature of political discussion. Instead of a question on policy, about which reasonable people can disagree, it becomes a test of one's commitment to our foundational document and, so, to America itself.
This is our country. We live in it, and we have a right to the kind of country we want. We would not allow the French or the United Nations to rule us, and neither should we allow people who died over two centuries ago and knew nothing of our country as it exists today. If we are to take back our own country, we have to start making decisions for ourselves, and stop deferring to an ancient and outdated document.
Granted, he doesn't thinks it's all bad. He feels that "freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation."
The rights codified in our Constitution were the ones that tyrants suspended. Those were the ones our Founding Fathers felt needed to be addressed first and foremost. The right to speech, assembly, a fair trial by your peers, and the right to bear arms. Mr. Seidman fails to recognize is that our system is suppose to work slowly, even in times of crisis. In fact, when 90% of good government is when it does absolutely nothing. Mr. Seidman also fails to mention, as George Will likes to reference, a single thing that the American people clamored for in a long, and protracted way, that they did not eventually get. Why? It's because everything they asked for, the government eventually gave to them. How is that a sign of dysfunction? It may have taken years, or a civil war, but black civil rights, the women's right to vote, the abolition of slavery, and end of the Vietnam War were all accomplished by an animated citizenry. That's not to say they weren't a thorn in the government's side, but these ends were met safely – and that's how our system works. Our Founders wanted a safe government, not an efficient one. It's something liberals and progressives need to recognize.
Yes, there have been instances of "constitutional disobedience," but it doesn't make it right.
(H/T Breitbart TV)
Chuck Hagel, former Senator of Nebraska, has been tapped to head the Department of Defense. He's a Republican, who vociferously criticized the Bush administration during the Iraq War – and equated 'The Surge' as the biggest foreign policy blunder since Vietnam. I also think Iraq was more of a distraction, than brilliant strategic thinking – but that's a different matter. We have a nominee for Secretary of Defense, who holds positions that are to the left of Obama, and it's up to the Republicans on the Hill to derail his nomination.
This isn't revenge. Many pundits say that GOP opposition of Hagel is payback, but there are serious questions that need to be asked of the former senator. First, he needs to clarify his 'Jewish problem.' The Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens penned a great column in December of 2012 highlighting Mr. Hagel's peculiar policy positions towards the Jewish state."The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here," says the then-Senator. As Stephens noted,"I'm a United States Senator, not an Israeli Senator," Mr. Hagel told retired U.S. diplomat Aaron David Miller in 2006. 'I'm a United States Senator. I support Israel. But my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States. Not to a president. Not a party. Not to Israel. If I go run for Senate in Israel, I'll do that."
Stephens aptly noted that such statements are indicative of Hagel's feelings towards Jewish-Americans, as exuding'dual loyalty' when it comes to questions about allegiance. It's prejudicial and wrong. However, towards the end of his column, Stephens hit the main concern on the head.
In 2002, a year in which 457 Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks (a figure proportionately equivalent to more than 20,000 fatalities in the U.S., or seven 9/11s), Mr. Hagel weighed in with the advice that "Israel must take steps to show its commitment to peace." This was two years after Yasser Arafat had been offered a state by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David.
In 2006, Mr. Hagel described Israel's war against Hezbollah as "the systematic destruction of an American friend, the country and people of Lebanon." He later refused to sign a letter calling on the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. In 2007, he voted against designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization, and also urged President Bush to open "direct, unconditional" talks with Iran to create "a historic new dynamic in U.S.-Iran relations." In 2009, Mr. Hagel urged the Obama administration to open direct talks with Hamas.
In Stephens' January 7 column, he noted how Hagel's political courage is fraught with opportunism.
In 1998, when it was politically opportune for Mr. Hagel to do so, he bashed Clinton nominee James Hormel for being "openly, aggressively gay," a fact he said was disqualifying for becoming ambassador to Luxembourg. Late last year, when it was again politically opportune, Mr. Hagel apologized for his gay-bashing. Mr. Hormel accepted the apology, while noting that "the timing appears to be self-serving." Yes it did.
In 1999, when the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy was broadly popular, Mr. Hagel scoffed at the idea of repealing it: "The U.S. Armed Forces aren't some social experiment." Since then, Mr. Hagel has offered his opinions on many subjects in scores of published articles. In not one of them did he recant or amend his views on gay issues. His public about-face only occurred when his name made Mr. Obama's shortlist for secretary of defense.
In 2002, also when it was overwhelmingly popular, Mr. Hagel voted for the resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. The lack of political courage is especially noteworthy here, because Mr. Hagel was, in fact, prescient in warning his Senate colleagues that "imposing democracy through force in Iraq is a roll of the dice."
Yet as the inimitable David Corn notes, "Bottom line: Hagel feared the resolution would lead to a war that would go badly but didn't have the guts to say no to the leader of his party." In 2006, when the war in Iraq had become overwhelmingly unpopular, Mr. Hagel was on the right side of conventional wisdom. "The United States must begin planning for a phased troop withdrawal from Iraq," he wrote in the Washington Post that November. Still swimming with the tide the following year, he called the surge "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam."
Well, ' the surge' (aka clear, hold, and build) was a success. It brought about the Sunni Awakening, led to a dramatic decrease in sectarian violence, allowed the Iraqi government to breath, and ended with Iraqi security forces taking more responsibility in combat operations. By the way, these operations were executed with success, with little to no American ground support. Ironically, it was 'the surge' that allowed the United States to withdrawal from Iraq.
Within media circles, it's been a frenzy, but even The Washington Post knows Hagel isn't right for the job.
Mr. Hagel’s stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term — and place him near the fringe of the Senate that would be asked to confirm him.
The current secretary, Leon Panetta, has said the defense “sequester” cuts that Congress mandated to take effect Jan. 1 would have dire consequences for U.S. security. Mr. Hagel took a very different position when asked about Mr. Panetta’s comment during a September 2011 interview with the Financial Times. “The Defense Department, I think in many ways, has been bloated,” he responded. “So I think the Pentagon needs to be pared down.”
Yes, paring down the Pentagon during wartime is a smart move.
Republican National Committee has compiled some further research on the former senator, and it's not much of an improvement.
ACCORDING TO HAGEL, THE ASSAD REGIME IN SYRIA ISN’T ALL THAT BAD
Hagel Promoted Increased Diplomacy With The Syrian Regime And Failed To Support Sanctions Against It As A State-Sponsor Of Terrorism
After A 1998 Meeting With Syrian Dictator Hafez Al-Assad, Hagel Said “Peace Comes Through Dealing With People.Peace Doesn’t Come At The End Of A Bayonet.” “Mr. Hagel met in Damascus in 1998 with the terror-sponsoring dictator, Hafez Al-Assad, and returned to tell a reporter about the meeting, ‘Peace comes through dealing with people. Peace doesn’t come at the end of a bayonet or the end of a gun.’” (Editorial: “Hagar The Horrible,”The New York Sun, 10/11/04)
In 2003, Hagel Failed To Vote On The Syria Accountability Act That Authorized Sanctions On Syria For Its Support For Terrorism And Development Of Weapons Of Mass Destruction.(H.R. 1828, CQ Vote #445: Passed 89-4: R 47-2; D 42-1; I 0-1, 11/11/03, Hagel Did Not Vote)
In A 2008 Op-Ed With Sen. John Kerry, Hagel Suggested The U.S. Should Offer “Tangible Benefits” To Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad After The Dictator Complained That His “Positive Steps Have Not Been Rewarded.” “While Syria must crack down on the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claims positive steps have not been rewarded. We should test whether offering tangible benefits brings better results, starting with providing more humanitarian assistance for the nearly 1.5 million Iraqi refugees Syria has absorbed.” (Sens. John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, Op-Ed, “It’s Time To Talk To Syria,” The Wall Street Journal, 6/5/08)
- Hagel And Kerry Said “Our Policy Of Nonengagement Has Isolated Us More Than The Syrians.” “The recent announcement of peace negotiations between Israel and Syria through Turkey, and the agreement between the Lebanese factions in Qatar - both apparently without meaningful U.S. involvement - should serve as a wake-up call that our policy of nonengagement has isolated us more than the Syrians. These developments also help create new opportunities and increased leverage that we can only exploit through substantive dialogue with Syria.” (Sens. John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, Op-Ed, “It’s Time To Talk To Syria,” The Wall Street Journal, 6/5/08)
ACCORDING TO HAGEL, IT WASN’T WORTH SENDING A MESSAGE TO RUSSIA’S LEADERSHIP TO CONDEMN ANTI-SEMITISM IN RUSSIA
In 1999, Hagel Was The Only Senator Not To Sign A Letter Condemning Anti-Semitism In Russia. “Jewish leaders are upset that Sen. Chuck Hagel was the only member of the Senate not to sign a letter urging Boris Yeltsin to speak out against growing anti-Semitism in Russia. An advertisement in Sunday’s New York Times displayed a Senate letter signed by 99 senators with only Hagel’s name missing. Hagel said Thursday he has taken even stronger and more effective action by writing President Clinton, asking him to appeal directly to Yeltsin to combat the anti-Semitic acts and rhetoric. But a trio of Jewish leaders in Lincoln said they wish Hagel had also joined his colleagues in signing the Senate letter.” (“Hagel Criticized Over Senate Letter To Yeltsin,” The Associated Press, 6/25/99)
Chuck Hagel is certainly on the fringe when it comes to America's interests abroad. He served his country in uniform, and that's honorable, but these positions on Israel, Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria are incredibly troubling. Furthermore, there will be times when he will have to give his opinion on matters that may might be at odds with the president. From his record, he seems to flow with the political winds of what's popular at the time. In all, he's more of a flip-flopper than Gov. Mitt Romney.
The other side of this equation is what was President Obama thinking when he nominated Mr. Hagel? Why is he spending so much of his political capital (what's left of it) on a nomination battle? If the president is doing this to purposefully antagonize Republicans, he's immature. If he's doing this to show that he's removing the last remnants of the Bush years, his ideological entrenchment is more stubborn originally thought.
Either way, Chuck Hagel is the wrong man to lead the Defense Department, and gives realism a bad name. Republicans should block him.
I stand firm with my fellow members at the National Rifle Association. I couldn't be more proud to be part of an organization that defends the Second Amendment, which is one of the most important rights within our Constitution. Over the past forty-eight hours, the NRA has been slammed for being somehow complicit in the various incidents connected gun violence – with the most recent being that awful tragedy in Newtown, CT. As some in the media continue to inject hyper-emotionalism into this debate, liberals simply cannot control themselves. When it comes to gun violence, the left-wing's end goal is the eradication of the Second Amendment from civil society. However, as we obsess over carnage – and who to blame for it. Let's look at some facts. Conservative Daily News colleague Kyle Becker posted on December 19 highlighting these interesting statistics:
Mass shootings rose between the 1960s and the 1990s, and dropped in the 2000s. Mass killings actually reached their peak in 1929. (According to Grant Duwe, criminologist with the MinnesotaDepartment of Corrections.)
“States that allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed handguns enjoy a 60 percent decrease in multiple-victim public shootings and a 78 percent decrease in victims per attack.” John Lott, Jr. and Bill Landes, “More Guns, Less Crime.”
“With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns.”– John Lott, Jr. Co-author with Bill Landes of “More Guns, Less Crime.”
“Until the Newtown horror, the three worst K–12 school shootings ever had taken place in either Britain or Germany.” [John Fund, NRO. “The Facts About Mass Shootings.”]
Tobacco kills almost 500,000 Americans each year. That's including the 49,400 deaths from second handsmoke exposure. Traffic accidents kill anywhere from 35,000-44,000 Americans each year – and Congress hasn't been so emotional, or energized, to support legislation to curb Americans' right to smoke or drive. It's abjectly stupid – and this is why the numbers game fails. Liberals constantly cite the 12,996 deaths caused by guns because it's juicy. It grabs people's attention, and frames a false narrative against anyone against gun control as an accomplice in mass murder. However, as the data shows, Mr. Marlboro man has killed more Americans that guns could ever muster in a single year.
On December 19, President Obama, along with Vice President Joe Biden, announced a new anti-gun task force to discuss the amount of gun violence perpetrated by the mentally unstable in this country. Joe Biden is heading this commission, but made a fast and furious move towards the exit when question time from the press arrived.
It is our imperative – as conservatives – to block any suggestions this anti-gun committee produces over the next few weeks. This isn't about gun control. It's about power. It's about government centralizing more control over the dynamics of our society. This is progressivism after 100 years of maturation. A point aptly made by columnist George Will last winter.
As we've seen on the news, Connecticut has some of the most stringent gun control laws on the books – and they worked. Adam Lanza was unable to buy a rifle due to his age, but even if that weren't the case. He was unwilling to subject himself to a background check. He had to commit a homicide and steal the guns from his mother to unleash the depraved fury on Sandy Hook Elementary last week.
As progressives and the Democratic Party readies itself to reinstate an 'assault weapons' ban, which infringes on our Second Amendment rights, we should have some clarification on the language that will be used when the new Congress is convened in 2013. It shows how little Democrats, or any anti-gun activist, knows about guns.
Hans Bader at the Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote a great piece on December 19 about the futility of a new ban on so-called 'assault weapons.' "Semi-automatic guns, including 'assault weapons,' are not machine guns. They do not fire more than one bullet each time the trigger is pulled, unlike a machine gun. The sale of machine guns and fully automatic weapons has long been banned. By contrast, much of America’s guns are “semi-automatic." Indeed, so many guns in this country are semi-automatic — the way most cars run on gasoline — that The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney says that 'semiauto is the norm,' according to Bader. He's right.
Furthermore, he wrote that:
Congress and the president may pass an “assault weapons” ban to make themselves feel good, but I won’t expect much in the way of results for public safety if they do. As Professor Volokh notes:
So-called “assault weapons” are no deadlier than other weapons. To begin with, note that assault weapons are not fully automatic weapons (which is to say machine guns). Fully automatic weapons have long been heavily regulated, and lawfully owned fully automatics are very rare, very expensive, and almost never used in crimes. Rather, assault weapons are a subset of semiautomatic weapons, generally semiautomatic handguns and rifles. Semiautomatic handguns and rifles — of which there are probably at least about 100 million in the country, and likely more — are undoubtedly extremely deadly; but the subset that is labeled “assault weapons” is not materially deadlier than the others. One way of recognizing that is looking at the definition in the 1994-2004 federal assault weapons ban; the ban lists several types of guns by name, and then provides these generic definitions:
(B) a semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of–
(i) a folding or telescoping stock;
(ii) a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;
(iii) a bayonet mount . . . .[see additional examples at Volokh's web site]
Guns that fit these categories may look more dangerous; but they aren’t more dangerous. . . .
Banning assault weapons thus has basically no effect on the lethality of gun crime, or of mass shootings more specifically.
Although Volokh says that assault weapons bans would be useless, he also says that they would likely be constitutional, since “such bans leave law-abiding citizens with ample access to other guns that are equally effective, and therefore don’t substantially burden the constitutional right” to keep and bear arms.
However, as conservatives, we should be uneasy with government banning anything. We banned alcohol with disastrous results. We have continued to support a ban on illicit drugs that has also produced disastrous results. We should re-think our drug policy, but that's for another time.
...were unable to detect any reduction to date in two types of gun murders that are thought to be closely associated with assault weapons, those with multiple victims in a single incident and those producing multiple bullet wounds per victim. We did find a reduction in killings of police officers since mid-1995. However, the available data are partial and preliminary, and the trends may have been influenced by law enforcement agency policies regarding bullet-proof vests."
A ban on assault weapons is constitutional, but data shows that it isn't worth the political capital that could be spent addressing the faults in detecting and treating mental illness in America. Frankly, I'm against any measure by the government that limits the options for Americans in which they can defend themselves. As such, Republicans should just say no to the new push to ban 'assault weapons.' It's time to put this issue away, so our snobby New England brethren can never bring it back again.
Gun control laws, or at least Connecticut's regulations, worked in preventing Lanza from buying a firearm to create havoc. Yet, the left is still guns, bodies, and carnage obsessed. People seem to forget he had to commit a crime to get those guns. That's an unstoppable situation, unless we're living in a universe more to the liking of Philip K. Dick's Minority Report.
The first assault weapons ban had a negligible impact on reducing crime when it was enacted in 1994 – and had a negligible impact when it expired in 2004. As such, we must ask ourselves why Democrats wish to pursue this matter – with a renewed optimism – if it weren't to infringe on our liberty? Do they just habitually sponsor and advocate bad policy? It would also show how government spends an exorbitant amount of time debating bad policy that would yield infinitesimal results in reducing violent crime. Well, that part is mostly tradition. Just say no to new gun regulations. Just say no to the assault weapons ban.
Is it revenge of the squishy Republicans? It sure isn't the reaffirmation of conservatism within the Republican Party. On December 4, Matthew Boyle at Breitbart reported that the House GOP had begun purging conservatives from various committees. In a time when Republicans need strong, principled conservatives to thwart the aggressive expansion of the state under Obama, Speaker Boehner and company inanely decide that they're the problem. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Squishy Republicans are part of the problem. President and CEO of FreedomWorks Matt Kibbe aptly said at BlogCon Charlotte last spring that sometimes "you need to beat the Republicans before you can beat the Democrats."
Kibbe made the same statement at a Young Republican event in Franklin County, PA in February of 2012. It's a saying that's starting to become axiomatic, especially as these debt negotiations continue to have a repetitious character of a bad deal being countered by a delusional one. The first salvo was fired at Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) on December 3 when "Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other top Republicans were huddled in a Steering Committee meeting... that panel, which is controlled in large part by Boehner, decides who sits on the various House committees," according to John Bresnahan Jake Sherman of Politico.
Sherman and Bresnahan added that " Schweikert — who was en route from Arizona to Capitol Hill on Monday — will now serve on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) will replace Schweikert on the Financial Services Committee. Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman, said a member’s voting record isn’t the sole determinant of his or her committee assignments. 'The Steering Committee makes decisions based on a range of factors,' Steel said" – or ones grounded in a purge list. Boyle wrote that:
in remarks to the Heritage Foundation’s Bloggers Briefing on Tuesday [Dec. 4], Kansas Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp confirmed the existence of such a list. “We’ve heard from multiple sources that someone walked in with a list of votes and said if you didn’t reach a particular scorecard of what was considered the right vote – which by the way, in most cases, was not the conservative position – then [they said] ‘we’re going to have to remove you from the committee,’” Huelskamp said.
“All that took place behind closed doors, which is again a problem with Washington, D.C. – whether it’s the budget negotiations, whether it’s everything else, it’s usually done behind closed doors," he explained. "I think, as conservatives, this is where we can win: We’ve got to be willing and able to talk about things in public instead of being afraid of actual public scrutiny.”
Huelskamp later told Breitbart News he thinks House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Whip Kevin McCarthy owe it to the American people to be transparent about this decision making process – and that they should publicly release the list.
Breitbart's Boyle noted that the criteria within the list is unknown. And the name of the person who initiated the purge is unknown. FreedomWorks has been urging conservatives to demand answers from Speaker Boehner.
In the final days before the start of a new Congress, John Boehner and the Republican establishment is quietly purging crucial House committees of strong fiscal conservatives, including:
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (KS) - House Budget Committee (96% FreedomWorks Lifetime Rating)
Rep. Justin Amash (MI) – House Budget Committee (100% FreedomWorks Lifetime Rating)
Rep. David Schweikert (AZ) – House Financial Services (96% FreedomWorks Lifetime Rating)
These three principled legislators have stood with the Constitution even when it was unpopular to do so. Their dedication to the principles of lower taxes and limited government is now being punished by a Speaker who would rather concede to the big spenders in Congress instead of making the tough choices.
Call John Boehner and tell him to restore these genuine fiscal conservatives to their respective committees.
Call House Speaker John Boehner Now
Office Phone Number: (202) 225-0600
Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post wrote the conservative butcher's bill on December 4 listing:
Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) from the House Budget Commtitee. Reps. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) [who] lost their positions on the Financial Services Committee.
The four members are known for occasionally bucking leadership and voting against Boehner's wishes. Amash, Huelskamp and Schweikert are popular with the conservative movement, while Jones has made a name for himself by speaking out against U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.
Huelskamp and Amash were also the only GOP votes against Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget plan this year, arguing that it didn't cut spending enough. The Steering Committee recently recommended that Ryan stay on as Budget Committee chairman.
Luckily, the Senate is safe from Boehner's reach. At least principled conservatives, like Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), remain in a blocking position. Chris Moody of The Ticket, which reports on politics for Yahoo! News, wrote yesterday that Sen. DeMint "slammed House Republican leaders for the "fiscal cliff" proposal they offered earlier this week."
"Speaker [John] Boehner's $800 billion tax hike will destroy American jobs and allow politicians in Washington to spend even more, while not reducing our $16 trillion debt by a single penny," DeMint said in a statement. "This isn't rocket science. Everyone knows that when you take money out of the economy, it destroys jobs, and everyone knows that when you give politicians more money, they spend it. This is why Republicans must oppose tax increases and insist on real spending reductions that shrink the size of government and allow Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money."
I know I've said I'll stomach slight tax hikes for now, but it seems Democrats aren't going to budge on their end relating to families making more than $250,000 a year. In fact, Moody wrote "Democrats dismissed it quickly, calling for a bill that would increase taxes on households earning more than $250,000 per year and more federal spending on infrastructure, which were not included in the Republican plan."
While caving for tax hikes is one thing, purging conservatives in various House committees is another. It's simply irrational for Speaker Boehner to rid himself of the most vociferous defenders of freedom and limited government in Congress. Conservatives are the vanguards against the usurpatory nature of government, and the implementation of a hyper-regulatory progressive state. Does any rational person feel that a squishy Republican will exude the same amount of tenacity and steadfastness exhibited by a conservative? No, they'll cave, Democrats will gain ground, and the American taxpayer will pay for it.
Republicans can play with who is saddled with the tax hikes, and as I've said previously, a slight hike on anyone making over $1 million isn't insane. But the spending cuts that follow need to be deep and enacted immediately. Furthermore, most of those cuts need to be focused on curbing the welfare state. However, with the climate becoming more toxic and Republican moderates declaring war on the conservative wing of the party – I'm starting to lean towards being more intransigent towards tax hikes. If Democrats won't come halfway, then we shouldn't indulge them.
Nevertheless, Speaker Boehner seems to be making it all the more easier for Democrats to expand the size and scope of government. What are your doing up there, Speaker Boehner?
Amy Lutz had a great column yesterday about the liberal politicization of the Jovan Blecher murder-suicide. It's tragic. Blecher, who played for the Kansas City Chiefs, fatally shot his girlfriend before turning the gun on himself. Liberals, on the other hand, are salivating. It didn't take long for Fox Sports correspondent Jason Whitlock to offer his opinion about guns in America.
"I grew up in Kansas City as a Chiefs fan, so I'm familiar with Whitlock's work. I used to glance at his columns after my father finished with the sports page in the Kansas City Star. Early on, his articles were focused solely on Kansas City sports. Then, as he expanded his focus, Whitlock dabbled in political punditry. That's when I lost interest for his clear liberal bias began to show. I don't know when a sports column became the proper venue to state one's political opinions, but I didn't read long to find out. It wasn't long after Whitlock became political that my family decided the Kansas City Star was the Midwest's Pravda and we discontinued our subscription."
Well, when Whitlock compared the NRA to the KKK with CNN's Roland Martin on December 3 – I would've ended my subscription too.
"SCOTT WHITLOCK: I did not go as far as I'd like to go because my thoughts on the NRA and America's gun culture -- I believe the NRA is the new KKK. And that the arming of so many black youths and loading up our community with drugs, and then just having an open shooting gallery is the work of people who obviously don’t have our best interests [at heart]."
Lutz concluded her piece by saying how:
NBC's Bob Costas referenced Whitlock's column during the Sunday Night Football broadcast and went into his own gun control rant. He stated that tragedies like this give us the opportunity to "put things in perspective." For him, that "perspective" is gun control.
It's not Whitlock and Costas' opinions that offend me. It's the fact that they exploited a tragedy to bring light to their own agendas. Can we please let the families grieve before we decide to politicize what they are going through? Can we turn to prayer instead of politics? In this world, perhaps not anymore. All too often, liberal commentators take gun violence as an opportunity to blame an inanimate object for a human decision. It's all indicative of the decline of personal responsibility in this nation. Perhaps it should not come as a surprise to me anymore, but I'm still offended. Using someone's murder to talk about your personal opinion isn' just wrong, it's downright selfish and disrespectful.
However, we are dealing with, and I'm sure Amy would agree, a core-less group of individuals who lust for such events to advance their political agenda. Sadly, the gun control crowd must have missed the 2000 election where the debate was virtually settled, and conservatives emerged victorious.
Nevertheless, I can't help but think that this foray into the gun control debate is just another liberal ploy to consolidate the women's vote. Women tend to be more sympathetic to curbing our Second Amendment freedoms, thus another slicing of the electorate before the 2014 elections has possibly begun.
I think conservatives should pray for the families of Belcher and his girlfriend to show that we aren't going to dabble in this sort of depraved behavior to score political points. I'm not worried about the fallout from these two clowns' commentary on guns. The American people are dead-set against tougher gun laws, but that doesn't mean we slack off when it comes to anti-gun representatives in Washington.
In the meantime, Bob Costas said that his 90 second commentary during halftime last Sunday night was a "mistake."
“My mistake is I left it open for too much miscommunication,” Costas said in a lengthy interview on “The Dan Patrick Show. The 90-second weekly spot, he said, doesn’t offer enough time in which to adequately discuss the issue of “the football culture, the gun culture, domestic violence.”
Then, why did you open your mouth, Bob? This isn't ABC's This Week. It's Sunday Night Football. The Olbermann-ization of sports is becoming rather absurd, and tragically idiotic. Costas' worst part of his lecture was his insufferable knowingness that "if Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins [Belcher's girlfriend] would both be alive today.” Well, that's pure drivel.
Despite the fact that most violence from domestic disturbances comes from someone's hands, what if Belcher didn't have a gun. Belcher would have beaten her, stabbed her, or suffocated her to death. Humans possess a rather macabre sense in how to eliminate one another Yet, that's ok – because a gun isn't involved in any of those egregious scenarios. It's not exciting enough to put to print. That's liberal logic.
Not only should we avoid politicizing these horrible events, sports journalists steer away from the political iceberg, which sunk Keith Olbermann's career. So, Costas and Whitlock, who are temporarily BFFs, let's take a chill pill on the gun rhetoric. It just makes you look like the John Madden of politics.