Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Not so much a spontaneous debate as it is a diatribe...

About a quarter of my way through writing the treatise below the asterisk line, I realized I was on enough of a roll that it would warrant further publication as the central essay in addition to an entry in a Facebook discussion thread.

The full discussion can be read on columnist Tom Lucente's page in order to get the full context as well as understand several references I make below to others' comments.


There are so many false premises and technical points being slung around in this exchange, I don't know where to begin -- my off-kilter state due to working 3rd shift isn't helping me, either.

However, I'll start by pointing out the obvious that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the "Underwear Bomber") and how his actions relate to present TSA policy are moot beyond description. Let's not forget, HE BOARDED FLIGHTS IN AFRICA AND AMSTERDAM that were en route to the U.S., HE DID NOT EXPLOIT ANY SECURITY MEASURES IN U.S. AIRPORTS. So, the argument that the new measures are necessary to prevent "the next underwear bomber attempt" is false, false, and -- oh yeah -- FALSE.

What would have prevented Abdulmutallab's attempt on a Detroit-bound flight?


The ultimate point that has not yet been spelled-out in the outrage over the increasingly intrusive nature of the updated airport so-called security measures is that it's effect -- either by design or circumstance -- is to condition us ever further toward accepting conditions of living within our own borders that rightfully ought to be unacceptable.

They are unacceptable if you have read the Constitution and devoted any time to study and understand its original, founding meanings and intents.

And, it's a shame those last two points even require spelling out.

To bring up the players in the OK City bombing, Columbine, VA Tech, or the Manson gang and compare and contrast those examples against what is a response to the threat of radical Islamic terror makes no sense. None of them had anything to do with mass transit within the U.S. or jihad being waged by an organized international outfit such as al Qaeda. With one exception, they all were individuals reacting to their own detachment from reality.

McVeigh tried to join the Michigan Militia. But, they asked him to never come near them again with the message in essence being, "You're too nuts for us."

The closest thing to an exception is Manson, who organized a "family" around himself. But, none of those examples cited above were acting in the name of Allah, Jesus, Buddha, or Bozo the Clown or as part of a global network of like-minded other combatants pursuing the exact same ends elsewhere in the world.

Next, the ultimate problem with profiling of Muslims is the fact that those who are "identifying themselves as Muslims" when they board a plane in the manner Juan Williams described in his well-known comments are almost assuredly not going to engage in terror activity on it.

I point this out based on the fact the 19 al Qaeda hijackers who boarded their planes were not dressed in any manner that would lead anyone to believe they embraced a sense of Middle Eastern identity. They all were dressed to blend in and not draw attention to themselves -- which is what makes Williams' comments all the more nonsensical.

Honestly, instead of dreaming up arguments to condition us all to accept what is rightfully unacceptable treatment in our own country, a major part of the solution to our security worries on airplanes is to free-up our 2nd Amendment rights aboard them.

Now for all you left-wing reactionaries whose sphincters just tightened up a few extra notches, perhaps instead of "reverting to the Wild West in the skies" as I'm sure you're ready spew-forth how about this compromise:

If you're active duty military (and possess a valid CCW permit if not traveling in uniform), then you may carry a firearm aboard that flight. By virtue of completing basic training (or, Boot Camp as us non-Air-Force-flimsies call it) you have demonstrated you have completed more-than-adequate firearm safety training and know how to effectively handle that piece.

Next, if you are a current, badge-holding law enforcement officer you also get a free pass to carry a sidearm based on all the same criteria listed above.

In those two instances, we now potentially have among the passengers aboard any given commercial flight a number of armed responsible individuals who have pledged an oath to protect their fellow citizens and are not just equipped to deal with a 9-11-style threat but enjoy the inherent training that better enables them to act in such an emergency than the average citizen.

Finally, please stop assigning racial bias to every opposing argument. Wasn't this supposed to end with the 2008 election? Zzzzz...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tea Party, Pro-Life movements do not require intertwining

Displeasure is heating up over a recent letter co-signed by a number of prominent bloggers, a libertarian commentator, gay-rights Republicans, and Tea Party leaders.

Steven Ertelt, writing for Lifenews.com, points out how these factions have come together to urge Republican leaders to keep reducing the size of government at the forefront of their legislative efforts – after making significant gains in the House of Representatives and Senate – and not emphasize social issues over the next two years to the extent that party has in the past.

On the Facebook page titled "Support Tebow's Super Bowl Ad" (a group for which I clicked "Like" several days before the Super Bowl was played), a spirited discussion is shaping-up in the comments section below expressing displeasure with this letter.

As a pro-life conservative and an active Tea Partier, I believe the letter's point is being missed. No one is saying there needs to be a shift in social policy platform by Republican leadership.

But, the Tea Party movement arose out of a general alarm over the insane pace of growth in the size of government in recent years (and that's under both major parties).

What Ralph King, with the national Tea Party Patriots Leadership Council, is trying to promote is for the Tea Party to remain focused on its core concerns that led to its rise in the first place. Also, as long as organizations such as Right to Life remain active and vibrant (my wife even was an employee of Right to Life years ago in Downriver Detroit) we can rest assured that this good fight is being carried-on.

Personally, I am of the mindset that the best way to protect life and traditional values is to reduce government back down to its constitutional limits. It is through the expansion of government that we have seen the implementation of policies, programs, and even entire agencies that serve as an assault on our Judeo-Christian values.

If we get government shrunk in this regard, it will invariably include elimination of federal abortion funding, Department of Education programs that promote counseling high school students about abortion without requiring parental consent, and other abominations.

But, making these line items the core focus of small-government activism instead of accepting that they can be the by-product of working toward its current central goal runs the risk of sidetracking the Tea Party's overall effort. The best results on both fronts is to let the Pro-Life and Tea Party movements operate in parallel with one another instead of intertwining the two.

One of the Tea Party's libertarian-oriented goals is to see an unnecessary federal department such as Education eliminated. When that goal is achieved, the goal to end promotion of such high school counseling policies will invariably follow. However, even if Pro-Life groups are successful in targeting these policies by themselves, leaving the governmental infrastructure in place that led to their implementation will mean leaving open the door for their reinstatement the next time Progressive Liberals regain control of both houses of Congress and the White House simultaneously.

The Tea Party was formed on the basis of conservative fiscal policies and greater individual liberty. Right to Life was formed on the basis of protecting the lives of our unborn. Both are working toward truly conservative ends. For either movement to take-on the other's fight means spreading their respective resources thin and risking falling short of their ultimate goal: preserving our unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Finally, a moment to reflect

Before I do anything else, I must extend an enormous offering of gratitude to all who assisted my congressional campaign, offered much appreciated support, and (most importantly) voted for me.

My reaction to the final vote count is a mixed bag. When you consider I spent less than $1,000 on my campaign with only $120 of it coming from cash contributions, to garner 7,499 votes in a region that votes solidly for one major party is – in itself – a notable accomplishment. But, I genuinely believed my percentage of the vote was going to reach well into double digits, as opposed to 3.74%.

In recent Gallup and Rasmussen polling roughly a week before the election, almost two-thirds of Americans believe our country’s two-party political system is failing us and harbor a strong desire to see a third party emerge that is dedicated to smaller government across the board. Which minor party might fit that description?

But as I do so frequently, I digress…

When weighing my decision to throw my hat into the political ring for the 4th congressional district, among the factors I took into consideration were two key sentiments that appeared to be trending among likely voters: the rapidly growing anti-incumbent sentiment and the already rampant anti-Democrat sentiment.

Well, I was right about the anti-Democrat perspective. Doug Litt drew less than 25% of the vote in the district. Based on past election results in addition to gauging the current mood, I was predicting he would garner below 30%.

The anti-incumbent wave, however, turned out to be little more than a pond ripple. Over the course of the year, I was bolstered by feedback from people who were steadfastly determined to support the notion of a “congressional reboot” on Capitol Hill. As one supporter put it, he was greatly appreciative of my candidacy because with me on the ballot voting anti-incumbent meant not having to vote Democrat.

I had every reason to believe many more felt the same way.

But, I cannot help but scratch my bald head at the results in other races in Ohio. In the 3rd State Senate district for the General Assembly, Libertarian challenger Bill Yarbrough was at one point polling ahead of the Democratic Party’s candidate, Mark Pfeifer, in that race. Yarbrough received 4.1% to Pfeifer’s 44.35%. What happened between August and November?

In Ohio’s 12th U.S. House district, retained by incumbent RINO Pat Tiberi, Libertarian challenger Travis Irvine had been polling as high as 10% depending on whose polling you read. Irvine received 3.23% on election day and he had run one of the most creative congressional campaigns I’d ever seen.

Both Yarbrough and Irvine were able to eventually do radio and/or television advertising.

Undoubtedly, the biggest hurdle for all of us to overcome was the fact this was the first general election in decades where Libertarian candidates could actually have a primary and appear on the November ballot with our actual party affiliation next to our names. Jeff Blevins, our second-best-performing congressional candidate with 6.63% in the 16th district, received a significant bolster from having his debate with Democratic incumbent John Boccieri aired on CSPAN. Jim Renacci, the Republican challenger who won that election, refused to participate in any debates that included Blevins.

Not being able to do any advertising myself, I had to rely on the handful of supporters lending me an occasional hand and a lot of time pounding the pavement in as many towns as I could in all 11 counties.

I wasn’t able to hit all of them, unfortunately. There were a lot of towns I wanted to and should have canvassed such as Elida, Cairo, Carey, Belle Center, Forest, Beaverdam, Harrod, and East Liberty. Should I opt to run for this office again, and of course depending on how the 4th district is reapportioned by a board that will see four out of five members from the Republican Party, I’ll have to make a point of correcting those oversights!

Still, every time I made my way through each town, I was encouraged by the feedback I received along the way. There were a couple of naysayers in face-to-face encounters, but there was an impressive lack of vitriol and venom on those rare occasions.

The most uplifting moment, though, happened ironically enough at the end of the Republican Party rally in downtown Lima that I crashed the week before the election. A fellow member of the Allen County Ohio Patriots grabbed my arm as we all were making our way to the exits and took a moment to greet me. She made a point of letting me know she was going to vote for me and concluded her comments by saying, “Because I believe in you.”

I was having one of those days when self-doubt was creeping in and left me wondering if my efforts were worth it all. I paused for a brief moment and told her, “That is the most important thing one could hear at a time like this.”

She immediately began to get choked-up and gave me a big hug. While on our way to our cars, I told my friend and campaign supporter who attended the rally with me about the exchange – and I began choking-up as well.

Between then and the election, I made a point of hitting five more towns to disburse my campaign literature.

I know there is quite a bit of discussion going around as to where the party needs to go from here. I don’t know what the future holds – either for the Libertarian Party of Ohio or my place within it. But, what I can assure to everyone is the fight for true liberty in America is just heating-up.