Archive for the ‘Law and Order/Constitution’ Category

The First Serious Candidate of 2012?

April 26, 2011 1 comment

Unpublished update: I wrote part of this article on Friday, with Ron Paul still “thinking.” Then boom, Monday he gets in. So some of this should be taken with that in mind–I’ve edited it since, but in my mind Paul is just “getting” in, so I haven’t completely made the transition. So I must say something I would have never said in 2008: Paulistas, I apologize.

It’s official: Gary Johnson will be seeking the Republican nomination in the 2012 primaries.

Gary who?

Gary Johnson, the former Governor of New Mexico. It’s alright if you don’t remember him–his term ended in 2003. You may recall, though, a governor of a smaller western state being one of the highest ranking Republicans (and indeed, official of either party) to call for the decriminalization of marijuana. Yeah, that was him. So why am I getting excited over a candidate that would seem, at face value, to be little more than a historical footnote?

Well, for starters, I see Johnson as the first serious candidate to officially enter the race. Now now, I know what you’re thinking–don’t Tpaw, Mittens, even the Donald have a better chance at this point? Perhaps, but as you’ll hear me belabor over the next six months while I continue to write on the ebb and flow of the race, because, hey, even an unpaid blogger seeks good copy, things change. Nobody could beat George H.W. Bush in the early part of 1991. Nobody.

But when I say serious, I don’t mean an attitude of a candidate that’s “in it to win it.” What I mean is a candidate that is serious about their ideology and has put forth or presents real solutions to the problems facing America. Newt may have once stood on the edge of being that candidate, but nowadays, he’s more “anti” than anything else. Romney, well, we’ve already discussed Romney’s issues–in that there are really few he hasn’t flipped or flopped on. Huckabee, too, is largely a Tea Party cheerleader these days. And although I’ll admit that I’m anxiously awaiting Pawlenty’s alternative budget, right now, he seems more focused on shaking the perception that he’s just too dull to take on the One.

Read more…

Another Czar Poorly Vetted

December 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of Barrack Obama’s adminstration so far has been just how many cabinet level and lower level appointees have very shady pasts. A number have had tax trouble–some made it through Congress, some didn’t. What’s far more troubling, though, is how many individuals with radical views were shepherd into government by the administration by making them “czars.”

One such controversial appointment was that of Kevin Jennings as School Safety Czar. Jennings already got in some hot water in September when it was revealed that he had advised an underage student of little more than safety when engaging in sex with an older man. Jennings was in a position to do something legally but did not–as a gay man himself, this is understandable, given that (rightly or wrongly) few teachers act legally on the older boyfriends of straight girls. Jennings gave good, if not misguided, advice in that instance.

Far more disturbing, however, is a conference that his organization GLSEN hosted at Tuft’s University in 2000. This conference went far beyond basic sexual safety and covered a variety of dangerous sexual techniques. I won’t go into detail, but Virginia Virtucon has the scoop. This is very disturbing. I happen to think that sexual safety has its place in modern education, though focus should be placed on abstinence. However, openly sharing sexual techniques with minors is not only ludicrous but in very poor taste.

And that’s not all–the same report that VV cites notes that GLSEN promotes and sells a number of near pornographic titles through its bookstore online. Again, I am all for the youth of America learning about sexuality, but this is not a place that public schools need to be involved. And don’t get me wrong–I think that it is just as inappropriate for libraries to have straight romance novels available for students. The composition of a library should not be to simply get students to read anything but to enlighten their existence. If a book doesn’t do that, it has no place in a public school library.

It would appear, however, that right now the Obama administration feels that “throwing it all out there” is a much better solution to the very real problem of bullying. Instead of teaching students to accept each others lifestyles, despite any personal misgivings, they’d rather it all be on the table to create further confusion and fear.

Thank You for Not Thinking

December 2, 2009 6 comments

Here’s some snark from the gang at the Weekly Standard for this, the second day in which Virginia is a slightly less free place to do business:

Last February, the assembly passed a smoking ban, thereby depriving business owners of the right to make decisions about how to run the businesses they own, and depriving patrons of a choice between smoking and non-smoking establishments.

Good thing, too, because the market place, responding to customer predilections as it’s wont to do, had just about licked the “problem” the legislature sought to solve:

By February, when the legislature finally passed the ban after years of lobbying by anti-smoking advocates, about 66 percent of restaurants had already gone smoke-free in response to customer demand. A week ago, that proportion was about 75 percent.

So, the smoke had already been nearly eliminated—the ostensible reason for the law— but the legislature saved us from the potentially horrifying consequences of leaving in place the freedom to run an establishment with a smoking section. To be fair, I have heard that second-hand freedom can be very dangerous for state legislatures.

The article goes on to recount Arizona’s current fight against live fish pedicures. No, that was not a non-sequiter. Some enterprising soul came up with this in response to–get this–increased regulations on the use of razors in nail salons.

Only in America could someone come up with such an idea and the government see fit to get involved.

Remember what you’ve got

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

This story from Maryland caught my eye, because it relates to something I’ve been pointing out to young people (read: high schoolers) for a while. From WTOP:

Carl Snyder, like many young people, registered to vote when he got his first driver’s license.

With an October birthday, the Tuscarora High School student planned to vote shortly after he turned 18 in the November 2008 presidential election.

As has been the history in Maryland, he expected he would also vote in the February primary, since he would turn 18 before the general election.

All that changed in 2007 when his father, Cliff Snyder, read a Washington Post article about a “quiet loss of voting rights.”

His first thought was what kind of voting rights were being lost?

Cliff Snyder read that the Maryland State Board of Elections, acting on the advice of the attorney general, had reversed the long-standing position that 17-year-olds who would be 18 by the general election were eligible to vote in the primary as well.

Although Cliff is a Republican and Carl wanted to vote for Obama in the Democratic primary, the Army microbiologist and trained lawyer went to court on his son’s behalf. He recalled how he had voted in the 1973 primary despite not turning 18 until the period in between the primary and general himself.

I myself participated in the 2004 nominating process and was a delegate to the 2004 State Convention. I turned 18 right before the Convention, but I also attended the District Convention (where I actually served on the Nominations committee) that May before my birthday. I recognized my right to participate in the nominating process since I was a fully registered voter. Virginians are allowed to register to vote and have all the rights of registered voters as long as they’re 18 before the next general election.

I think this only makes sense–individuals who are going to vote in the general have every right to select the nominees that will represent their party in that election. To do otherwise is to have an arbitrary rule needless discourage full participation in the democratic process.

Tim Kaine’s “Farewell Virginia, Hello Statism” Tour

November 27, 2009 Leave a comment

From Ryan Nobles at Richmond’s NBC12 comes this gem about how Governor Kaine will be spending some of his final hours in office:

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine will make a tour of a series of Restaurants on the day one of his signature legislative accomplishments goes into effect. On December 1st, Kaine will make appearances at a number of different restaurants across Virginia in honor of the first day that  Commonwealth’s ban on smoking in bars and eateries will be enforced. One of his stops will be here in Richmond. The Governor will appear at the Home Team Grill on Main Street in the Fan at 4pm.

I won’t go into length about my philosophical opposition to the smoking ban–I already did that here. But how swell is it that His Excellency is touting an increase in nanny state protections while leaving the state with a budget mess that barely covers essential services and even looks like it will leave his other landmark achievment, universal pre-K on the chopping block?

For those who smirk at my railing against statism, here’s a heartwarming Thanksgiving tale from that great bastion of nanny state thinking, Michael Bloomberg’s New York City (h/t Instapundit):

When a small church comes to the Bowery Mission bearing fried chicken with trans fat, unwittingly breaking the law, they’re told “thank you.” Then workers quietly chuck the food, mission director Tom Bastile said.

“It’s always hard for us to do,” Basile said. “We know we have to do it.” . . .

Lines at soup kitchens are up by 21 percent this year, according to a NYC Coalition Against Hunger report released yesterday. The city’s law banishing trans fat took effect in July 2008 and touched everyone with Health Department food licenses — including emergency food providers.

So come January 17th, how about just skedaddling on up to D.C. with your pal the President and work on consolidating statist thinking from the confines of the DNC? Kthanksbai.

The 10th Amendment: Conservatism’s New Star

November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

One of the most surreal moments I had on the entire campaign trail was attending the final GOTV rally at the Winchester Airport on November 1st, the Sunday before Election Day. It was surreal for a number of reasons–namely that I was on medical leave from the campaign and not working the same insane hours as many of my colleagues. However, two things also stuck out in my mind. One was that there were a number of people (probably no more than 10%, really) that were MOST excited about Ken Cuccinelli’s bid for Attorney General. I have little doubt in my mind that nearly all of them ended up casting their vote for all three candidates nor that they had worked hard for the entire team. They’re still an interesting bunch, though.

The second thing that stuck out in my mind was the fact that one of the largest cheers of the night came when Ken Cuccinelli pledged to stand up for the state’s 10th Amendment rights. As a refresher:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Even in my years of political involvement, the 10th Amendment has rarely been a rallying cry for many. A few years ago if you asked a conservative to tell you about it, you’d probably get a mumbled explanation about state’s rights. Now, given the mess in Washington, it seems to be every conservatives mission to recite the amendment chapter and verse whenever the specter of increased federal involvement rears its ugly head.

All this makes me rather unsurprised to read, from the FreedomWorks blog, that the Virginia Campaign for Liberty (the remnants of Rep. Ron Paul’s libertarian-oriented 2008 Presidential bid) has launched a new initiative to rally Virginia conservatives around a vigorous defense of the 10th Amendment:

From the head of VAC4L, Donna Holt:

A new campaign called the Virginia 10th Amendment Revolution is sweeping the state of Virginia. This movement is targeting the federal government’s over-reaching powers not delegated to it by the states.

Citizen activist groups are banding together to take this revolution to the 2010 legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly. They are calling on legislators to defend states’ rights under the 10th amendment with the Virginia Firearms Freedom Act (VFFA) and the Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act (VHFA).

FreedomWorks has joined the coalition at, which is a great place for Virginia voters and activists to keep up with the latest on 10th Amendment initiatives and events.

Some may recall with angst the Paulistas presence at the 2008 convention, where their involvement nearly denied Jim Gilmore the chance to go down in an ignominous defeat against Mark Warner and knocked off John Hager as party chair. The result was a mixed bag at best, and the Paulistas seemed to just not get involved in 2009 (outside of their support for Ken–they did not flock to Patrick Muldoon is nearly the same numbers as they did to Bob Marshall the year before). However, they’re still out there, and they seem to have a number of recruits for the upcoming congressional primaries. Given the vigorous push for health care and various local events around the state, many conservatives are taking a second look at libertarian Republicans and welcoming them with open arms. The war in Iraq remains a key dividing line between establishment conservatives and libertarian conservatives, but domestic events have made the two friends of circumstance. Will this hold out through 2012? Only time will tell, but expect there to be some unlikely bedfellows in various policy disputes and primary fights along the way.

Rendell and LaPierre Square Off

Watch as NRA Executive Vice-President demolishes PA Governor Ed Rendell as the Governor trots out all the old anti-gun tropes, including such chestnuts as “They’re ASSAULT weapons!!!” and “Nobody needs an assault rifle.”

Folks, I actually agree with Governor Rendell that assault weapons are primarily good for killing–which is why the people have a fundamental right to posess them to defend themselves. You will hardly ever get a politician to say it, but firearms are the building block upon which our rights are founded. When the government controls all the firearms, they control all. Gun violence is tragic, but it is the cost for a free and open society.

I’ll Be Watching You

According to the Northeastern Intelligence Network, the government’s concern about “increased right wing activity” may have gone far beyond the simple aspersions cast by the recent DHS report:

According to this unimpeachable source, a single-page confidential directive issued by the FBI headquarters in Washington, DC (FBIHQ) was sent to each of the 56 field offices located across the United States on or about March 23, 2009, instructing the Special Agents in Charge (SACs) of those offices to verify the date, time and location of each TEA Party within their region and supply that information to FBI headquarters in Washington. The source stated this correspondence termed the TEA parties “political demonstrations,” and added that the dissemination of the directive was very tightly controlled. “Not all agents were privy to this correspondence,” stated the source, who compared the dissemination to an older “Do Not File” classification.

In addition to obtaining or confirming the location and time of each “demonstration,” each field office was instructed to obtain or confirm the identity of the individual(s) involved in the actual planning and coordination of the event in each specific region, and include the local or regional Internet web

site address, if any.  The information collected by region was then reportedly sent to FBI Headquarters.

The source alleges that a second directive was issued on or about  April 6,  2009 that reportedly instructed each SAC to coordinate and conduct, either at the field office level and/or with the appropriate resident agency, covert video surveillance and data collection of the participants of the TEA parties.  Surveillance was to be performed from “discreet fixed or mobile positions” and was to be performed “independently and outside of the purview of local law enforcement.”

If true (and given the government’s paranoia on the subject of late), this is a chilling threat to free speech and expression. I certainly understand the government keeping an eye out for potential ideological terrorists of all stripes, but targeting rallies as a potential staging ground for domestic terrorist activity is absurd, be it a Tea Party rally or one for the Wobblies. When governments are found to be spying on citizens in the course of exercising their fundamental right to free speech, this can have nothing but a chilling effect. The government has a responsibility to protect its citizens, but never in a way that encroaches upon their rights. (And yes, to me this includes wiretapping without a warrant and the monitoring of library materials)

Governments should feat their citizens–not the other way around.

Victory for Concealed Carry in Override Session

Both the NRA and VCDL are touting a big victory for concealed carry holders–or, more correctly, making it easier for Virginia citizens to carry a concealed firearm. The Senate and House both overrode Governor Kaine’s veto of Senator Ken Cuccinelli’s SB 1528. The bill clarifies that online training is acceptable for use to qualify for a CHP in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As it currently stands the law is open to interpretation, as some circuit courts accept online training while others do not. 

It’s no Vermont Style regime, where citizens are allowed to exercise their right without any government strings attached, but it complements Virginia’s status as a “shall issue” state (meaning that the Circuit Court must issue a permit if the applicant meets all the state mandated requirements) very well by making another training option available for working professionals or those who may live in areas without a certified trainer.

Lawyers, Judges and Money

The Daily Press takes a look at an interesting move by Delegate Harvey Morgan is the quest for a new judge for Gloucester County:

Del. Harvey Morgan introduced something unusual into the process of appointing a new judge for Gloucester General District Court. 


It came in the form of an advisory citizen committee he appointed, which recently held a hearing. The public was invited to hear the four men who want the job make their case for why they should be appointed.

That’s unusual because judicial appointments in Virginia are usually handled in the back rooms of the state Capitol, with little input from the public and next to no meaningful opportunity to watch the process. 

The editorial points out that judges in Virginia don’t reach the bench via the same method used on the federal level (appointment by the President with confirmation by the Senate) or as they do in other states (via direct election). Rather the process starts and ends entirely within the legislature, as regions break up into caucuses to determine nominees and those nominees are then usually given a thumbs up by both houses. However, this can become a tricky proposition when power is split between the two parties as it is now, with the Senate controlled by the Dems and the House ruled by the GOP. 

Ostensibly there is already some public input into the process, as bar associations can and do offer their recommendations. However, they don’t have to be taken. The appointment of judges is a tricky proposition as, honestly, the public doesn’t know alot about what makes a good judge. However, they certainly suffer the consequences when bad judges make it through. The article mentions a program that was instituted by then AG Bob McDonnell to garner feedback for new judges and then offer it to them when the time comes for re-appointment. However, the program has since been defunded. 

So, thoughts? I think as it stands a wholesale change is not in order (as the process allows for the public’s input via the form of legislative elections, although House races rarely hinge on judicial appointments and still insulates judges from direct influence of donors, as would not be the case with legislative elections), but I think certainly some sunlight into the process wouldn’t hurt, even if it was in the form of voluntary efforts such as Delegate Morgan’s.