An Unlikely Ally In Support of Second Amendment Rights…Or Not

A few days ago*, a fairly creepy video made the rounds on the internet. Purporting to be from the hacktivist collective “Anonymous,” it was a pretty straightforward and powerful argument in defense of Second Amendment gun ownership rights and a veiled warning to the Obama Administration if they continued to pursue gun ban legislation. If you are not familiar with Anonymous, they most recently made an internet splash for hacking the Twitter accounts and website of the Westboro Baptist Church in retaliation for their announcement that they would be protesting at the funerals for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.

Anonymous is generally thought to be a more left-leaning “collective” and has identified itself with such “movements” such as the “Occupy” groups and WikiLeaks/Julian Assange, which makes their supposed support of the Second Amendment a bit suspect. However, the group definitely has an Anarchistic bent, and generally does not support government intrusion on citizens’ rights; not to mention some of the stated goals of the Occupy movement are similar to those of the Tea Party.

Therefore, there has been a great deal of speculation regarding the authenticity of the video. At first, the video was declared authentic by the “Anonymous Relations” blog; however, they then retracted the declaration and stated that it was a fake. This then led to several Anonymous members questioning how an anonymous collective could declare the video as “unofficial”, implying that there was some central authority (as well as noting that the video used to authenticate was a mirrored version, and not the original). In addition, many comments indicated support for the content of the video:

I was under the impression that Anonymous is a collective of people with no leaders, no authorities, and most importantly no names. Anyone is a part of Anonymous if they say they are, and the things which Anonymous “does” happen organically in reaction to a collective mindset. You can’t figure out who made that video? Guess why, because he/she’s anonymous, thats the point. If the author of this “We’re sorry” post is attempting to be an authority over the actions of Anonymous, then guess what, its no longer Anonymous. Someone should make a “we’re sorry” post for the “we’re sorry” post.

Gun rights are a serious issue when governments become and/or are tyrannical. It takes guns away from peaceful people, but it doesn’t make guns magically dissapear. If a criminal wanted one, he could still get one. And the smartest criminals could get themselves into positions of power in government. They have all the guns, and apparently all the rights.

So this is not a “fake” video. Its just a video. A video an anonymous person made. If thats not part of Anonymous, then Anonymous is no longer Anonymous.

Regardless of whether the video is an authentic Anonymous message, or if it was done by someone pretending to be part of the collective (or if it is even possible to determine). The message in the video is a powerful, if not creepy, argument in favor of individual rights and against government infringing on those rights, and well worth watching if you haven’t seen it yet:

*I’m sorry that I haven’t been posting regularly lately. I’ve been dealing with two cars in the repair shop, and has been totally distracted by the NFL during the Ravens’ run to the SuperBowl. I expect to return to regular posting in about two weeks.

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10th Amendment Time

President Barack Obama signs the executive ord...As we begin Barack Obama’s second term as president, it looks more and more like he will rely on trying to push his agenda by performing an end-run around Congress and try to govern via Executive Order (by fiat). A perfect example of this philosophy and tactic is his recent announcement regarding gun violence. Obama knows that there is no way he can get his gun agenda passed by congress (Americans are understandably fond of their rights), so he gives VP Biden a panel to head, in order to make recommendations back to the president.

Recognizing that more gun grabbing legislation would not pass Congress (and the possibility of primary fights for those who supported the legislation), he turned to executive fiat to pass his agenda. However, as noted by The Ulsterman Report, Obama was still not prepared for the backlash from citizens and gun rights advocates and had to gut his plan:

The president had his little moment, and was pretending it meant something, but he said nothing.  That 21 (23) point plan or whatever it was, was hollow.  It was a gutted version of what he was hoping to do as recently as a few days ago.  Instead, he had to roll over and made a weak threat to Congress but that threat starts in the Senate and they already told him to shut up.  Obama backed off.  He lost this time, and it was all because of the American people.  His media will try to spin it as something different, and if he gets another chance, the president will be right back to pushing for confiscation, but for now, we won this particular fight.

Not only was the plan gutted, but contrary to news reports, it really amounted to little more than nothing. As Gabriel Malor points out, the 23 Executive Orders that Obama was supposed to have signed amounted to nothing more than  three memos:

Aside from the fact that this faulty reporting from the leftist media was narrative control to make Obama look strong and decisive, rather than defeated and impotent, this whole episode give us a glimpse into what the next four years will look like. This time the people won, but can we count on a popular uprising each time Obama dips into the Executive Order well? One could hope, but it is unlikely (there aren’t many issues that get a rise out of Americans like potential gun-grabbing).

Further, even though I had high hopes, it looks like the GOP leadership in Congress isn’t going to be much help either. Rather than holding a press conference after Obama’s remarks, there was no one out there explaining the relevance of the Second Amendment, or the dangers of governance via executive fiat. I thought that Boehner had finally “gotten it” regarding dealing with Obama (and maybe he has, we’ll have to watch the debt ceiling negotiations to see), but the GOP public relations/media consulting efforts are still virtually non-existent. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who will be sponsoring legislation to rescind Obama’s Executive Orders was the biggest exception:

And there are several of the executive orders that appear as if he’s writing new law. That cannot happen. We struck down once, the court struck Clinton down for trying this and I’m afraid that President Obama may have this king complex sort of developing and we’re going to make sure that it doesn’t happen.

This is a good start; however, it is a long shot that such legislation would be put up for a vote, let alone pass the Senate, while Harry Reid is in control. Let’s also not forget that the interests of the individual states in Congress was greatly diminished when the Seventeenth Amendment passed (most notably pushed by “progressives” and criticized for increasing federal power). Therefore, it looks like our best hope to thwart the Obama Agenda may be at the state level itself, where several conservative governors have begun to announce their displeasure with Obama’s agenda. This “resistance” seems to have started in earnest about the time it was announced that UN “observers would be watching polling centers during the presidential voting last November. Several states, most notably Texas and Iowa threatened to arrest any observers that tried to gain access to polling places.300px-Rick_Perry_by_Gage_Skidmore_3

More recently, Texas governor Rick Perry (disclaimer: I strongly supported Perry in the Republican primaries) issued a statement in response to Obama’s remarks on gun violence. Ed Morrissey has a good write-up over at Hot Air, and the full text is here. However, I want to focus specifically on the last paragraph:

In fact, the piling on by the political left, and their cohorts in the media, to use the massacre of little children to advance a pre-existing political agenda that would not have saved those children, disgusts me, personally. The second amendment to the Constitution is a basic right of free people and cannot be nor will it be abridged by the executive power of this or any other president.

This is a clear statement that the fiat of the current president does not trump the rights protected by the constitution. Perry gets it, and is not afraid to put it out there for the world to see. I am confident that Perry is not afraid of a political showdown with Obama, and will draw a line in the sand, if necessary. Texans, as a whole, do not suffer fools very well. I am sure that there are other conservative governors who share this conviction (Bobby Jindal (R-LA) comes to mind) that have not yet spoken out. However, I urge everyone to pay attention, because I believe this is where the “battle” will take place – framed as an issue of states’ rights versus a federal power grab. States are our best hope to thwart Obama and his agenda. Let’s hope more governors follow Perry’s lead. State legislatures just may regain the influence they lost in 1913.

[UPDATE 1/17/13]

It looks like there has been a chorus forming at the state level, albeit by law enforcement officers pledging to not enforce any legislation in violation of the 2nd Amendment or state law. One particular example from Alabama:

“The federal authorities can try to enforce it,” said Dorning. “I’m the Sheriff of Madison County. I took a constitutional oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America, to defend the Constitution of the State of Alabama, even if it takes my life. That is my position.”

Sheriff Dorning is the latest in a chorus of lawmen from across America who are saying they may not enforce new gun control legislation. President Obama’s call for a new assault weapons ban and 10-round magazine limit were the headlines in what some say are the most stringent gun control measures ever. The President cannot get the two major revisions unless Congress signs off, but Sheriff Dorning said even if they do, Washington is not his final authority.

“As long as you are a law-abiding citizen, then I don’t see a problem with law-abiding citizens being able to arm themselves however they so choose,” said Dorning, who pledged to ignore any law that would call for the confiscation of assault weapons or any other firearm. “Our people in our communities and homes need not fear that the Sheriff of Madison County or his deputies would come to their homes and make an attempt to disarm them. It will not happen under my watch.”

Sheriffs in Kentucky, Minnesota, and Oregon have also voiced opposition to Obama’s proposed gun control measures.

Challenging The Media Narrative

The biggest obstacle in getting the conservative message to the general electorate is the mainstream media. The media, including newspapers, network, and cable television programs has abandoned its historic purpose of reporting facts and holding our government accountable to the people, in favor of redefining itself as the propaganda arm of leftist ideology. As a result, anyone espousing a conservative viewpoint interviewed by the media is immediately confronted with the leftist narrative, which is framed as “truth”, against which the conservative pundit must then play defense.

I have written before about one remedy to this problem: having wealthy donors/benefactors of conservative/GOP candidates and causes buying or creating media outlets. However, until (or if) that happens, conservative pundits must learn to play offense and challenge the leftist narrative from the jump. Probably the best example of this happened on January 10, 2013 when Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro went on the Piers Morgan CNN show to “debate” gun control:

What is notable in this interview is that Ben started right out of the gates challenging the narrative that Morgan (representative of the leftist position on guns) had been espousing and putting Morgan on the defensive. Eric Weddle elaborates:

Piers Morgan dismissed gun-rights advocate John Lott by scoffing at him. Piers Morgan dismissed gun-rights advocate Larry Pratt by insulting him. Piers Morgan dismissed gun-rights advocate Alex Jones by saying nothing.

And Piers Morgan struggled to find the appropriate strategy for dismissing Ben Shapiro, editor-at-large of Breitbart.com and a foe of extraordinary polemical agility. He started in on Morgan by contending that the CNN star had exploited the dead children of Newtown:

“What you tend to do is you tend to demonize people who differ from you politically by standing on the graves of the children of Sandy Hook, saying they don’t seem to care enough about the dead kids. If they cared more about the dead kids they would agree with you on policy.”

Patented outrage spilled from Morgan: “How dare you.” And then the conversation took a turn for the better, as Shapiro cornered the CNN host on a central disconnect of the ongoing gun-violence debate: Proposals are floating around to redo the ban on assault rifles, something Morgan supports.

This is the exact correct method of dealing with the media: get them on their heels, challenge their assumptions, and make them play defense. Of course, as Duane Patterson reports over at Hot Air, Morgan waited until the next segment to respond to Shapiro uncontested. However, once the public begins to see that there is no “there” there, they’ll begin to take a second look at the saner, proven conservative position on the issues. As John Nolte astutely observes:

For years now the media’s used rhetorical tricks to bait our side into divisive arguments based on the kind of false premise Democrats never face. Whether it’s abortion, contraception, same-sex marriage, or guns — the media hits us again and again and again until someone like a Todd Akin says something stupid enough it can be used to tar the party as a whole and our presidential nominee.

This isn’t fair, but it is reality. Complaining about it will get you nowhere and exposing it has proven absolutely worthless because you can’t shame the shameless.

Instead, we have to start beating the media at its own game.

After Fox News rose to prominence, Democrats trained themselves to face the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly. Because Democrats weren’t used to being challenged, they were frequently caught off guard, the videos would go viral online, and the damage would be done. You don’t see this happen anywhere near as often as you did ten years ago. That’s because Democrats fixed the problem.

Republicans need to first come to terms with the fact that they have a problem, a big one. Then they need to man up, go to school, and do something about it.

And they can start by studying Shapiro’s CNN appearance last night like the Super Bowl game-tape it is.

Absolutely, this is the way proceed.

Grabby McGrab Hands

A few days ago I read a short, but insightful post by Amy Otto in which she perfectly branded the Democrat Party:

There are plenty center right ideas that have been largely abandoned by both parties. It’s time to brand the Democrats as the party of Big Everything. Big Government, Big Business, and Big Debt.

While I find that the above quote perfectly captures the essence of the Democrats, I’d like to one-up Amy and brand them the party of Grabby McGrab Hands. Childish? Yes. However, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate moniker after hearing about the recent “policy initiatives” from the left this past week. In a nutshell, the Democrats want to grab your guns, your money, and your freedom. This is just in the past week or so! So I thought I’d take a brief look at each.

Democrats Want To Grab Your Guns:

Anyone paying attention for the past few decades or so already know this to be true. From Diane Feinstein’s proposed ban on “assault” weapons (never mind that a leftist could define assault weapon if his or her life depended on it), to “Sheriff Joe” Biden’s so-called task-force on gun violence, it’s simply the same old story: the left wants to keep people from lawfully acquiring and possessing a firearm.

At the grass-roots level, I’m sure there are some well-meaning, but woefully uninformed folks who really think that banning guns would make us all safer. However, As I’ve written before, the gun control proponents in positions of power “actually care less about stopping this type of violence than they do for “disarming” the American citizenry, thereby ever-increasing the power of the state.” They’d rather use a tragedy to push a political agenda, rather than the root causes of the incident (more laws aren’t going to stop someone whose sole intent is to break the law).

Democrats Want To Grab Your Money

If you’re like me, you probably groaned (or more likely morse) over the fiscal cliff deal that passed Congress last week. If there was any positive from the deal, it was that the income cut-off for the higher rates was passed at $450K per year for a couple, as opposed to the $250K cut-off Obama wanted (how good is the $1 Million cut-off from “Plan B” looking now?). Of course the negatives include the fact that the job creators will be facing a higher tax burden, and creating class warfare in the tax code is despicable. There is never a good reason to raise taxes on anyone; doubly so when the economy is barely limping along.

Is that enough for the Democrats? Not according to San Fran Nan; they want even more of our money:

“The President had originally said he wanted $1.6 trillion in revenue,” she said on “Face the Nation.” “He took it down to 1.2 as a compromise in this legislation. We get $620 billion dollars, very significant, high-end tax, changing the high-end tax rate to 39.6 percent, but that is not enough on the revenue side.”

How much is enough, Nancy? Will there ever be enough? According to the quote, it looks like she wants to make up the $1 Trillion from Obama’s original goal, ostensibly through closing loopholes. Hello? closing loopholes were already put on the table, but rejected by the Democrats. Selective memory, anyone? The bottom line is how much is that the Democrats will not be happy until they run out of other people’s money to spend (h/t Margaret Thatcher).

Democrats Want To Grab Your Freedom

Nothing amuses me more that a leftist insisting that he or she is for civil liberties. Beyond the frequent cries of “hands off my body” or “keep the government out of my bedroom*”) is an insidious totalitarian agenda aimed at limiting freedoms (the gun-grabbing mentioned above is a fine example). Another good example is the insurance mandate of which we are all aware that may force employers to violate their freedom of religion in order to provide free contraceptives and abortifacients to employees.

However, I really wanted to highlight the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that Obama signed this past week. This a great example of talking a good game (e.g. closing GITMO), while doing the opposite (the NDAA prohibits the transfer of prisoners from there. In addition, it allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens that “substantially supported” our enemies or their “associated forces.” Are those terms defined? OF course not. Let’s not even talk about American citizens on tough-guy Obama’s “kill list”. Last but not least, the NDAA still authorizes warrantless wiretaps of American citizens. Due process, what’s that?

To be fair, many of these things are continuations of provisions included in the PATRIOT Act. However, for a group that wants you to believe that these policies were an abomination under Bush, they seem awfully happy to keep on approving, using, and expanding them.

If all of this doesn’t convince you that the Democrats are a party of “grabbers”, nothing will. My advice is to hold on to your hats, though, because there’s no telling what they’ll try to grab next. In the words of Depeche Mode:

The grabbing hands grab all they can
All for themselves, after all

The Simple Things

Last night while I was going through the web, trying to decide which outrageous outrage generated by D.C. I would blog about, one of my sons came up to me “I did it! I did it! Daddy, I did it, c’mon!” You see, he got a Spiderman toy for Christmas: it has a zip-line with two suction cups, and Spidey slides back and forth on the line. My twins are three years old, so they have trouble getting the cups to stick. After showing them how to do it, followed by a lot of frustration on their part, I was encouraging them to keep trying to do it on their own, so they could know that perseverance and determination pays off. While I was surfing, my oldest (by a minute) had moved the new art easel over to a wall and had gotten the suction cups to stick, all without me knowing.

The pure joy of accomplishment on his face, along with his excitement to show me his triumph just melted my heart. I put the laptop away, and spend the rest of the night playing Spiderman, transformers, knights, and whatever toy they could think of next.

You see, I think sometimes we get so caught up in our own worlds (if you’re a political junkie like me it’s about figuring out what’s going in in D.C., how it’s going to screw us, why the GOP seems so impotent, etc.), that we can forget about the little things right in front of us that bring us the most joy (or should, at least). That’s why I took the night off from politics, and I plan to spend today watching playoff football – hopefully with my boys, they’re fledgling Ravens fans, but still find Mickey Mouse more interesting than Ray Rice – eating some chili, and just spending some time with the family. While I’m still worried about the shenanigans along the Potomac, I’m going to enjoy putting it all aside for a few hours and enjoy simple things for a while.

Oh yeah, and GO RAVENS!

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The Imminent Conservative Messaging Crisis

I hope I’m wrong, but I see the potential for a messaging issue for conservatives regarding the recent changes in tax rates that resulted from the fiscal cliff deal. Specifically, it deals with the ending of the 2010 payroll tax holiday, which has lead to a 2% increase in payroll taxes for about USFederalTotalTaxRateByIncomeLevel.1979-200770% of Americans. To be sure, I don’t like paying more in taxes, regardless what kind, and there have been two major responses from conservatives about the expiration of the holiday: outrage that their taxes have gone up, and a sort of “I told you so” response to leftists complaining about their taxes. Twitchy has a pretty good compilation of these responses.

The danger I see is how the reaction to the payroll tax increase relates to conservative messaging regarding the tax code and how it should be reformed. Whether you are a proponent of the Fair Tax (like me), a flat tax, or just making the current code less progressive, one of the main arguments is that everyone should have some “skin in the game”. Currently, about 47% of all Americans do not pay any income tax at all, and the thinking is that in order to have them understand the perils of government spending, some of taxes should be collected from this 47%. When it’s their money being spent, they may come to a different conclusion regarding federal spending. I certainly agree. Of course, the leftist retort to the “skin in the game” argument is that these 47% pay payroll taxes, therefore they do have skin in the game. There is a valid reply to this line of reasoning, and Glenn Reynolds has it right:

One response, of course, is that people who don’t pay income tax still pay other taxes, like Social Security payroll taxes, Medicare, and various federal excise taxes.  That’s true, of course, but it misses the point. The point isn’t whether people are “freeloaders” who don’t pay any taxes. It’s whether people have “skin in the game.”  If you take me to an expensive restaurant for dinner but let me put money in the parking meter out front, that doesn’t provide me any incentive not to order the lobster. Splitting the check, on the other hand, will cause me to think twice. It’s like health insurance, where experience shows that even a small co-pay makes a difference in what people spend.

As long as we continue to make this distinction clear, whether or not the argument is accepted by the majority of Americans (who really wants to start paying taxes if they haven’t been previously?), it is consistent (and true). However, the problem I see emerging in the rush to say “I told you so”, and to a lesser extent those outraged by the increase, is a conflation of the payroll tax increase for the majority of Americans, with the income tax rate hike on those making over $400K. For example:

And:

To be sure, these are completely valid sentiments. The problem, however, is that they fail to differentiate between payroll and income taxes. This type of argument from conservatives is problematic for two reasons. First, Obama the snake oil salesman was playing semantic games when he said that taxes wouldn’t go up on the middle class – he was referring to income tax rates, not payroll or Obamacare taxes (which will open a new chapter of “I told you so” soon). The distinction between income and other taxes must be maintained to effectively expose the lie. Second, by conflating payroll tax increases with income tax rate increases essentially removes the “skin in the game” argument. By talking about these two types of taxes as if they were the same, then we are conceding that the 47% actually do have skin in the game, which weakens the argument for the Fair Tax, flat tax, or general tax reform.

Therefore, when discussing taxes, we ( and by “we”, I mean not only the conservative rank and file talking about it with their friends, family, and co-workers, but also the pundits and especially politicians who talk to the media) need to keep on message and make sure the distinction between payroll and income taxes is delineated, and why the former does not denote “skin in the game.” If one wants to complain about higher payroll taxes, rather than compare the middle class to the rich, this is probably a better way to do it: