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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Time Travel: As Easy As Ousting Todd Akin

I know I've been going on about the whole Akin thing. And (I think) this might actually be the last thing I have to say on the matter. This situation, as I have pointed out more than once, is bigger than Congressman Akin's remarks. It is bigger than Congressman Akin. It goes to the heart of our political process.

Before the 17th Amendment was passed, United States Senators were chosen by legislators within the state they were to represent. There was no primary, and the only influence the general population had was in their choice of state legislators. If they chose poorly in local elections, they would get lousy US Senators. The 17th Amendment changed all that, changing Senate elections to a popular vote basis just like US Representative elections.

Why is this relevant now? The people who are calling for Congressman Akin to step aside are asking us to undo nearly 100 years of the American political process. If Akin does drop out of the Missouri Senate race, there will not be another vote to determine the nominee. The nomination will not automatically go to the second place finisher from the August 7 primary election. Instead, the new nominee will be selected by the Missouri Republican Committee. They can, if they choose, select a nominee who ran in the primary - they can select the last place finisher if they so choose. But they are not limited to the primary field. They are free to choose anyone they like, and the people will have no recourse.

But let's forget for just one second that forcing Akin out is setting Missouri back a century. Anyone advocating that Akin step down is voluntarily negating the entire primary process, declaring the irrelevance of every citizen who went out and voted in the primary, and saying that it's okay and even advisable for the GOP to replace candidates by mandate when they feel that the electorate is too stupid to do so properly.

And for the record, if you complained during the Presidential primary about being forced in to Romney as the "inevitable candidate," stop talking now. If you have ever complained about the notion that at every election you have no choice but to vote for the "lesser of two evils," hold your tongue. Because if you are also calling for the resignation of Todd Akin, you are informing the GOP that your principles - and the American political process - are for sale.

What Have We Done?

We wait this morning for news from Todd Akin's Senate Campaign. We wait to see if he will stay in the race, despite the funds that people have been falling all over themselves to withdraw. And while we wait, we should consider this: If Todd Akin bows out of this race, it won't be because an unfriendly media sandbagged him. It won't be because liberals conspired to get rid of the conservative threat. It won't even be because of the words Todd Akin said, even though unfortunate soundbite is what kick-started this whole affair. It will be because we were complicit. It will be because we allowed the national GOP (many of whom reside and work outside of Missouri to tell Missouri that a candidate who legitimately won a primary was unacceptable, and we helped them to throw him under the bus.

I'm not saying that, because of the comments he chose to make, Todd Akin didn't walk out in front of the bus the first time. But he got up, brushed himself off, and tried to keep walking forward. It wasn't the left that kept grabbing him and shoving him back under that bus. It was us. It was fellow conservatives who either misunderstood his comments and then held Congressman Akin responsible for their misunderstanding, or who got caught up in the media frenzy and simply refused to accept his apology.

The GOP has done a spectacular job of sabotaging Congressman Akin. Nothing he actually said was untrue. Nothing he actually said was out of line with what we all already knew he believed. And yet the GOP allowed the media narrative that twisted his words beyond recognition. Not only that, but some conservatives quickly jumped in and furthered that same narrative. While folks like Todd Starnes and John  Nolte tirelessly redirected people toward objectivity, Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin ran instead with the popular narrative and effectively joined the Akin lynch mob.

As grass roots, it is our duty to do everything in our power to fight the machine, especially when it works within our own party. Allowing a man like Congressman Akin to tank after a comment (albeit unfortunate) that didn't actually change anything, we set a dangerous precedent. We set the precedent that our own party can use any gaffe they like, however contrived, to destroy a candidate they do not want in the race. (And make no mistake, the GOP did not want Todd Akin in this race. That's why GOP insiders helped to organize the campaign for John Brunner.) If we allow Todd Akin to be taken down by this, the people fall prey to the very thing we claim to be fighting against - the establishment ruling by fiat. To back down from the fight now is to wave the white flag and prove to the GOP that we are, in fact, their bitches, and that even though they are wrong, we will cowtow to their pressure.

If Akin stays in this race, it is possible that he has been damaged enough that we could lose this seat. And that is a scary thought, especially for Missourians, who would be saddled with another six years of Claire McCaskill. But how does that compare to grassroots losing *all* seats that boast candidates who have angered the GOP? Think of Todd Akin as the canary in the coal mine - if he falls to this strategy, who is next? Every election from here on out, we will not only have to fight the left and the media, but also the pseudo-right.

If we continue to support Todd Akin, we have the ability to hit the national establishment where it hurts. Sadly, many who claim to be fighters have already fallen prey to the narrative. There may not be enough of us left to cripple the establishment this time around, and every time we fail they get stronger.

So wait for Todd Akin's response. And if he intends to fight, I say we fight with him.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tread Lightly, Conservatives

Conservatives everywhere are scrambling to join the left in the character assassination of Missouri Republican Senate Candidate Todd Akin. Many conservatives I know personally are jumping into the fray, calling Akin's comments "stupid," "crazy," and "insensitive." Some even suggest that the statements he made were lies.

But tread lightly, fellow conservatives, because herein lies the problem:

What Akin said was, by his own admission, at best poorly worded. But what cause is helped by conservatives beating him over the head with something he has already clarified? If this were still primary season, I would understand your zeal. But at this point in the game, the only person who stands to gain if he is torn down is Claire McCaskill. The same Claire McCaskill who voted for Obamacare without actually reading the entire bill. The same Claire McCaskill who not only votes to protect abortion rights, but actually votes against measures that would prevent foreign aid from funding forced abortions overseas. The same Claire McCaskill who continually chooses failed green initiatives over Missouri jobs.

I understand that some of you feel that he deserves all the backlash he gets from a comment that was "galactically stupid." But if you look at the response he is getting from liberals and the media, I think it's fair to say that he's getting plenty of backlash without your help. If you still think that your additional punishment is warranted, then chew on this: for those of you who have spent the last few months complaining about the Ron Paul zealots, don't look now - but you're doing the same thing.

The people who insist on voting for Ron Paul after he failed to secure the nomination say that the rest of America deserves to be punished for not being "smart enough" or for not understanding the Constitution well enough to vote for Ron Paul in the primary. They're so scorched earth about it that they don't care that the most likely result of executing said punishment is another four years of Obama and the possible destruction of America as we know it.

Likewise, the Conservatives who insist on continuing to punish Todd Akin for his verbal gaffe are willing to risk another six years of Claire McCaskill in order to make a point. They are so intent on making him pay for one verbal misstep that they are willing to possibly let McCaskill slide on six years of bad policy.

As I said before, conservatives, tread lightly.

Todd Akin Incites Twitter Frenzy

I can't speak for Missouri Senate Candidate Todd Akin. I can't unsay the comments he made that are currently whipping both sides of the aisle into a TwitterFrenzy.

First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare, if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

The left is basking in outrage like only the left can, ignoring the fact that rapes were documented at the Occupy camps that they so rigorously defended. They are dropping the hammer on Akin - the same hammer they held back when New York Mayor Bloomberg interfered to effectively force women to breastfeed. The same hammer they held back when Whoopi Goldberg made her "raperape" comments. The same hammer... Well, you get the idea.

The right is falling all over itself, but can't seem to pick a direction. Some are buying the hype and asking Akin to step down. Some are even engaging in the kind of mudslinging we generally attribute to the other side. And some are breaking down Akin's comments and trying to make sense of such a seemingly idiotic statement coming from someone as well-versed as Akin.

So what's the answer? Let's go to the statement.

First of all, what Akin "understands from doctors" is absolutely right. The likelihood of forcible rape resulting in pregnancy is very low - studies suggest a 1-4% chance. Forcible rape even during the up to three fertile days per month becomes less likely to result in pregnancy because stress impairs the body's ability to conceive. (which may be what Akin meant when he talked about the female body "having ways to shut that down.")

So the only question is, what did he mean by "legitimate rape?" That question I can't answer, but I can make a few suggestions.
First, it is possible that he was attempting to differentiate between forcible rape and statutory rape. The wording was clumsy at best, but if that's what he meant it was at least accurate. Forcible rape is far more likely than statutory rape to create a stressful enough situation for the body to defend itself and prevent conception.
Another possibility is that he was attempting to draw a line between rape and the girls who claim rape while their parents are present to avoid embarrassment but then admit to consensual sex once the adults leave the room.

Regardless, the fact that he misspoke is obvious. His campaign has already released a statement clarifying that:

The question now is how many people will allow a bad sound bite to be the deciding factor in an election that could make or break the Republicans' chance at regaining a majority in the Senate.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Trouble With Conservatives

The division within the Republican Party has been the subject of much debate in recent years. More than ever before, patriots who once fought side by side are pitting themselves against each other in a bitter battle that has festered and grown into the currently brewing war. But the real division is deeper than just taking side between candidates, it goes to the heart of the voters.

You see, among Republicans and conservatives, there are two types of voters. There are those who take a hard line stance on principle and vote based solely on that. They have little concern for the idea of “electability” and view any vote for a less principled candidate simply because “he can win” as an unconscionable compromise.

The other type of conservative voter looks at a much bigger picture. He sees all candidates as imperfect and believes that a compromise may be necessary in order to win. He is more concerned with the perceived electability of the candidate, and is therefore more likely to be willing to concede a few issues and support a candidate who has a better chance of winning.

The real problem is not that both types of voters exist within the Republican Party – it is that we can’t get both types of voters to exist in the same people. You see, both types of voters are useful in their own ways.

The first type, the voter who sticks on principle, is absolutely vital during primaries. This type of voter culls the field and succeeds in promoting candidates who are also principled, candidates who will vote those principles once they are elected to office. Once the principle-first voter gets past the primary, however, he becomes a liability. He is the one who is likely to vote for a third party candidate that has no chance of winning, thus splitting the conservative vote and handing the election to the other side. He is equally likely to stay home and refuse to vote at all, which has a similar result. Some vote third party or stay home because they feel disenfranchised, and some do it because they want to punish the voters who were willing to compromise in the primary, saying that they "deserve what they get for not picking the right guy." Either way, the end result is a split Republican vote, and a likely loss.

The voters who focus on electability, if they begin to do so during the primary, actually become part of the reason that the general election becomes a choice of the lesser of two evils. Their tunnel-vision concerning the ultimate electability of the candidate allows them to overlook ideological shortcomings to the point that any candidate who makes it through the primary is by definition less principled. Once the general election rolls around, however, these voters become absolutely necessary. They come out in droves to do exactly what they did in the primaries – hold their noses and vote.

What we need is more voters who understand the entire process –  who are willing to stand on principle during primaries in order to ensure better candidates, but then are willing to do what it takes to win when the general election rolls around.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Coalition for Life Will Return to Court Over Plastic Sign

This morning I sat in a relatively crowded courtroom and observed. A prosecutor and an attorney approached the judge, and although I was near the back of the small municipal courtroom, I was able to make out pieces of the conversation. The judge seemed to be suggesting that the case be dismissed, as it was obvious he felt the statute being cited did not apply in the situation. What statute? What situation?


Last month, a group of people from Coalition for Life St Louis stood outside the Planned Parenthood in the Central West End. They stayed on the sidewalk. They prayed. They didn't speak to anyone who didn't come toward them voluntarily. They placed a plastic sign on the sidewalk. The sign advertised free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, which were to be provided by Thrive's mobile unit just across the street.

After weeks of a steady build in police presence during Coalition for Life's weekly days of prayer and counseling, police finally acted. Five police cars were on the scene. Officers as high ranking as lieutenants approached the group. They quickly centered in on the group's leader, Brian Westbrook, whose calm comment to a fellow activist was simply, "I think we're going to get to see the inside of the police station today."

The police arrested Brian on the sidewalk, cited him for violating two city ordinances (false advertising and unlawful affixing of a sign), then released him with a scheduled court date. The false advertising claim was based on the fact that the ultrasound machine was not right there with him on the sidewalk. The unlawful affixing of a sign was based on the fact that one of their signs was a plastic sandwich board style sign - which they placed on the sidewalk.

This whole situation strikes me as odd.

For one, was it really false advertising if Brian was using that sign to direct women to the Thrive mobile unit parked just across the street? After all, that unit was fully capable of providing the services he offered. And if it was false advertising, why are they not cruising the streets and arresting every Avon Rep. who has the company logo on her car but doesn't carry a full stock of products in the trunk? And what about the McAllister's Deli mobile advertisers? Do they routinely get arrested for not containing the entire franchise inside a PT Cruiser?

And as for the "unlawful affixing of a sign"? Unless St. Louis City is prepared to address the reasons they refused to enforce this same ordinance last fall when occupiers affixed signs and banners to everything in Kiener Plaza that held still, they have no standing to selectively enforce that ordinance against a man who rests an easily movable sign on a public sidewalk.

And so we sat in court this morning, waiting to see the official outcome. After the hushed-tones meeting with the judge, the prosecutor offered the following deal: the case would be dismissed if Brian picked up the court costs for both sides. And Brian politely declined. The case will be heard in its entirety on September 14, 2012 at 9am in St. Louis City Municipal Court.

My take on the issue? Brian Westbrook was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT to refuse the deal offered by the prosecutor. He should not be expected to pay the prosecutor to allow the dismissal of a case that clearly never should have been brought to court in the first place.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Guns, Republicans: Responsible for Sikh Shooting

The Sikh Temple in Wisconsin was still on lockdown, possible shooter still inside, when the left started spinning the situation out of control.

The first kneejerk reaction was to demand stronger gun control. Let that sink in.

Now, maybe I'm reading different breaking news stories than they are, but none of the accounts I have read made any mention of a gun that walked into the temple of its own free will and started shooting, unmanned. All of the accounts I have read actually mentioned a human shooter. One who was obviously willing to break the law in order to kill people. I would posit that a man willing to break the laws barring mass murder would barely blink at the idea of breaking a few gun-ownership regulations. And thus gun control fails before it is even implemented.

The second kneejerk reaction was to blame conservatives - specifically Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann - for the hate that obviously inspired this senseless attack.

At first the accusations were just bandied about by a twittersphere full of armchair pundits on break from their usual "it's Bush's fault, and the Koch brothers are funding the Tea Party" rants.

Not to be outdone by a few twitter - well - twits, NBC came late to the party. An official release from the NBC Nightly News included the following inflammatory (and as uncorroborated as Harry Reid's Romney Income Tax Witch Hunt) statement:
Officials told NBC News the suspect, who served in the U.S. Army, had many tattoos. The suspect had some kind of radical or white supremacist views but, as far as officials said they had heard, he was not in any kind of radical organization. His previous run-ins with law enforcement involved traffic offenses, they said.
Hmm. Add in the fact that major networks are now classifying this shooting as a "domestic terror attack" (while the Fort Hood shooting remains classified as "workplace violence"), and the demonization is complete.

Guess I should expect to be detained "for further observation" the next time I dare to fly in my old Army jacket.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Little Help?

Tuesday is coming. More specifically, Tuesday, Aug. 7 is coming. The Missouri primary is coming, and in light of that I need to ask you fine folks a favor. My friend Martin D. Baker is running for the hotly contested seat in Missouri's 1st Congressional District. For the last few months, he has been operating with a skeleton crew of a campaign team, half-jokingly calling them "the best that money can't buy, mostly because I can't afford to pay them." Not surprisingly, in this economy, financial endorsements have been hard to come by - making paid positions on his campaign an impossibility. But they have pushed on, because they believe in what Martin stands for and they are all grass-roots at heart.

So what do I need your help with? I don't need your money. (Although, should you feel inclined to give it, you can donate to Martin's campaign here.) I don't even need much of your time - maybe less than five minutes. I just need you to take to Twitter and Facebook and drop Martin Baker's name today. Some of you may not live in the St. Louis area, and that's ok. The beauty of social media is that you probably know someone who knows someone who lives in Martin's district.

So here's what I'm asking you to do:

When you post on Twitter or facebook, tag Martin (@Baker4Congress). Use the hashtag #FlipMO1. The only thing that Martin asks is that you stay away from personally insulting his primary opponent (@Hamlin4Congress) or the Democrat contenders (@russcarnahan and @LacyClayMO1). There is plenty of information out there to promote Martin Baker without doing that.

Some helpful information:

MO District 1 has been under solely Democrat control since 1949. That's 63 years of single party control.
Since 1969, the District 1 Rep has been a member of the Clay family.
Both Clay and Carnahan are considered to be Missouri political royalty and have made careers living on taxpayer money. Carnahan even secured over $100million in stimulus money for his brother Tom's failed wind farm.
Since Clay took office in 2001, MO 1 has lost 82,000 jobs and 6% of the population - most of which went to outlying districts (Republican districts, such as MO 2).
Clay's tenure also saw two major malls (Jamestown Mall and Northwest Plaza) become virtual ghost towns. The North City Corvette plant was outsourced to Kentucky.

Why is Martin Baker the guy?

Martin Baker is the only MO 1 candidate of either party with a detailed plan to restore District 1. His "Baker's Dozen" platform includes the implementation of a Fairtax and the overhaul of excessive regulations that destroy small businesses and place the burden on job creators.

He will vote to repeal Obamacare in its entirety.

As a card-carrying member of the NRA, he will defend your Second Amendment Rights.

He is the only MO 1 candidate endorsed by Missouri Right to Life, Blackstorm, and Fairtax.

As a 22 year veteran of the Navy, he understands the need for a strong and well-trained military, and will vote to keep America strong on the global stage.

As an advocate for smaller government, he will vote to get the Fed out of your pocketbooks and your personal lives.

Please, if you have a minute, get on Twitter today. Tag @Baker4Congress and use hashtag #FlipMO1. This is the best chance we've had in 60 years to make some real change in St. Louis!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Late Andrew Breitbart Makes an Appearance at Chik Fil A

Andrew Breitbart was at Chik Fil A yesterday. No, seriously, I saw him. I saw him in the faces of the tens of thousands of Americans who patronized the fast-food chain in protest of the current media narrative. His voice was the one I heard when people explained that it was never about gay rights - it was about free speech. The people who flocked to Chik Fil A yesterday did so because they believe (and rightly so) that Dan Cathy has the right as an American individual to believe and say whatever he likes. No one was there to protest gay marriage or to promote discrimination - rather, they were there to protest discrimination against a legitimate business based on a falsified narrative. Andrew would be proud.

Photo: Chik Fil A in Des Peres, MO, courtesy of Dana Loesch

But today isn't Chik Fil A Appreciation Day anymore. So what do we do now? Yesterday's event was planned as a preemptive response to GLAAD's planned "Same Sex Kiss Day at Chik Fil A," during which protesters would walk into Chik Fil A locations and engage in same sex make-out sessions. Their plan is to converge on locations nationwide tomorrow (Friday, August 3) at 8pm Eastern.

First, let's talk about protests, and how they are different depending on whether the protest is being made by conservatives or liberals.

Generally when conservatives boycott things they do it quietly. I've said before that I won't buy Heinz products because I can't stand John Kerry. Conservatives vote with their wallets every day (as they did in tens of thousands on Chik Fil A Appreciation Day), and they don't make a big deal out of it. They know that the person who isn't getting their money will feel the effects.

When liberals protest, the story is quite different. Not only do they have to punish the person or entity they are protesting, but they also have to punish everyone who refuses to join their cause.

This "Same Sex Kiss Day" is great example of that, as misdirected as it is. It's misdirected because Dan Cathy's statement was never anti-gay. It was simply a statement that confirmed something that we all already knew - Chik Fil A is a Christian company, and they support traditional marriage and family ideals. The left immediately began spinning, quickly convincing people that Chik Fil A as a company discriminates against the LGBT community (patently false) and that they laced their chicken with bigotry and intolerance (also untrue - and scientifically impossible).

But think about this: if it were true that Chik Fil A was as anti-gay as the left wants us to believe they are, then their "Kiss-In" protest would completely fail to make their point. Why? They say that they want tolerance. All they want is equal treatment, right? And they're going to make that point by going to the people they want tolerance from and do the most offensive thing they can think of, right in their faces. Funny, I just don't see that being an effective protest. It would be akin to asking a new mother (holding her baby) if she smoked, and when she said, "No, and I don't like smoke around my baby," protesting her "intolerance" by blowing smoke in her face.

If we allow them to make that statement tomorrow, we allow them to continue with the narrative that the publicity surrounding Chik Fil A is about gay rights. Chik Fil A Appreciation Day May be over, but the #WAR still rages...

So what can we do? Last month when Texas A&M students learned that the Westboro Baptist Church would be protesting a local military funeral, they put on school colors and formed a human wall, separating the protesters from the funeral. We can go back to Chik Fil A tomorrow at 8pm Eastern. We can remind Chik Fil A that we don't only support them because someone marked a date on our calendar, and we can make sure that any protesters who do show up don't disturb the employees or disrupt the business.

See you at Chik Fil A tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chicken, Bacon, and the HHS Mandate

August 1st. Chik Fil A Day. Also the day the HHS Mandate goes into effect. You would think that the two are unrelated, but not so much. You see, it's all about religious freedom, baby.

The HHS mandate, which forces all businesses to provide their employees with healthcare that includes contraceptive coverage, is one of the most egregious usurpations of individual liberty in recent years, always excepting the whole of Obamacare. Why? Because subject to that mandate are religious groups, most notably Catholic schools and hospitals, whose doctrine does not allow birth control. What the mandate does to them is akin to forcing Hasidic Delis to serve bacon.

The real problem is that it's the government. The one thing that we can be certain of is that if we allow the government a foothold here - with forcing Catholics to violate their consciences to comply with a government mandate - no one can predict where it will stop. It sets precedent that will allow the government to violate the religious freedoms of those who refuse medical care altogether for religious reasons. Next they could legitimately attack those who choose not to vaccinate their children, whether their reasons are religious or personal. (And let's be realistic - a nation of women who have to pay for their own birth control is far less of a public health risk than a nation of children who are not vaccinated.) The end game is that if the government is allowed - even begged, as by Sandra Fluke and Nancy Pelosi - to violate this particular aspect of religious freedom, we give it the authority to violate ALL aspects of religious freedom.

What does that have to do with chicken sandwiches? (Aside from the fact that Chik Fil A serves up an awesome chicken club with BACON, I mean.) Chik Fil A, with the help of Mike Huckabee and hundreds of thousands of Americans, is standing up for religious freedom and the right of individuals to express it. As nearly everyone on the planet is aware, Chik Fil A CEO Dan Cathy happened to mention in an interview his support - and, by extension, his company's support - of the traditional family and traditional marriage. In a concerted effort to take offense at what was realistically a fairly benign statement, liberals everywhere made it clear that "I support traditional marriage" and "I hate all gay people" are actually the same statement. (Maybe that's true if you happen to attend the Westboro Baptist Church, but not where I come from.)

If all the liberals wanted to do was boycott Chik Fil A over that position, then I would have nothing to say. Individuals have every right to express their opinions - Roseanne Barr, who said that "anyone who ate at S--- Fil A deserved to get the cancer" - has just as much right to say what she thinks as Dan Cathy. And they are free to express said opinion by refusing to buy chicken - just as I am free to express my opinion of John Kerry by refusing to buy Heinz products.

But when the mayors of several cities get involved, it becomes a different story. They, like any other individual United States citizens, have the right to express their individual opinions on the subject. But when they make it a political issue and begin banning private businesses because of their religious affiliations, they overstep their rights and begin to infringe the religious liberties of others.

[Understand that if Chik Fil A was truly guilty of discrimination, the acts of the mayors in question would be slightly less egregious. But because Chik Fil A does not discriminate against homosexuals who choose to work or eat there, they lose any ground they thought they had. (As my brother-in-law said, "When I go to Chik Fil A, it's not like they make me sign a statement saying I'm not gay before they give me chicken...")]

So in the face of infringement of religious liberty, both enforced (through the HHS mandate) and attempted (against Chik Fil A), free speech purists all across America are doing what they can today to strike out for freedom: EATing MOR CHIKIN.