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After Action Report in a Philly Ring County

Someone who knows I’m a registered Republican even though I’m more libertarian than they really like and not enough party cheerleader. But a local woman posted something about Bucks County GOP losses this morning that made me think there was room for some serious observations about things both large and small local and county candidates could have done to improve their odds in an opposition party wave year – a factor that was completely predictable.

Of course, I should have known better than to assume anyone was interested in talking about things they saw that worked well for candidates and missed opportunities for others. People would rather scream “SHAME!” than actually think about things they could help do for their candidates of choice in next year’s elections.

I guess I’m sharing an edited version here since I hope that someone might be willing to be inspired by some of these thoughts and ultimately make a positive impact for gun rights.

Locally, I don’t think most of the GOP candidates prepared to run in what is, historically, going to be a year that favors the opposite party. There were some small things I noticed that probably made a difference, and then some big concepts, too.

For most of the county-level offices, other than glossy mailers that immediately go into the recycling bin, all I ever saw were the generic blue signs that had lots of last names with no visible office listed. The offices were listed on the signs, but nearly impossible to read in much smaller print squeezed between 3-5 last names of various GOP candidates on plain blue backgrounds. Even the glossy mailers I got a look at as they fell into the trash all had many candidates for different offices so that they all blended together.

In a specific an example, for sheriff, I knew a guy named Milt Warrell was on the ticket because his signs were big, bold, clear, and not typical campaign colors. They were bright yellow and black. If it weren’t for the fact that I knew the GOP incumbent had a different name, then I would not have know Milt was a Democrat or anything else. But, unlike the GOP candidate, I knew he was running for sheriff. Milt’s visible campaigning just showed him being something different and that he was clearly running for that office.

I get that local campaigns don’t have major resources to spend, and that’s why they try to campaign together. However, it’s not acceptable to have literally no individual efforts. First of all, and this is pretty important in a purple-blue state for Republicans, you need to accommodate the ticket splitters. There have been times when I’ll take a sign for one candidate, but leave the others behind because I’m not on board with them. So why should the guy or gal I like miss out?

On the state level, Sallie Munday, a candidate for our state Supreme Court, clearly benefitted from split ticket voting given the spread she put up statewide. As much as I hate to admit it, I do think part of it was because she is a woman. (There were several races where GOP women beat Dem men by percentages that aren’t likely explained by much more than they won the women’s vote because they are women.) But I think the significant vote spread was also because she was willing to run very targeted social media ads that don’t cost a ridiculous amount of money. Even before I had my NRA orange mailer on her endorsed candidacy, I was getting ads for her on the issues I clearly follow on Facebook. I knew her name well before Election Day, before the NRA ever sent anything about her, and on issues I care about.

On a side note, what was up with NRA PVF having multiple statewide-endorsed candidates in Pennsylvania and then leaving them off of their website? We had to go through the effort to scan in the mailer to share with Sebastian’s gun club. It would have been easier to point to a public webpage like we could with New Jersey.

Back to the Pennsylvania state races… Christine Fizzano Cannon was also doing some ads, though not as targeted as Munday’s, but enough that I knew she was a ballot for something. However, her good move was to do several “alert” style ads starting around 11:00am on Election Day over the fact that Philadelphia purposefully printed her name incorrectly on about half of their voting machines. I don’t know if she ran those sponsored posts statewide, but every time I opened Facebook yesterday, I saw one here in a ring county. That plays very well into the narrative most suburbanites and “T” people have that Philly is corrupt. That’s hours of sending a message out there that will motivate many who may have been uninspired to make sure and hit the voting booth on the way home. Not to mention, the specific reason her name was chopped in Philly could have caused some split voting tickets because it’s something unique to women who don’t give up their maiden names, but also use their husband’s names. Philly decided not to recognize her “2nd” last name on half of their machines. That’s not something most men would face, and women know it. She beat out a Democratic woman, and I suspect that if we could get the timing of those votes cast for her, there was an uptick after she got the word out about Philly screwing her over.

There is one exception to the social media spending that didn’t win in a race I was watching closely, and that’s a local supervisor candidate. He started spending on Facebook ads right before the election, but they weren’t targeted (beyond location) and they were reproductions of those glossy mailers that go straight into trash. They didn’t tell me anything about him. It’s like someone told him to spend something online, but he didn’t know about any of the power to really target it. And since guns have come up as a local issue, he could have done something. I’m sure that’s true for a variety of other local issues that he didn’t really hit on.

I don’t think that online ad spending is the ticket to success, but I do think that individual campaigns that at least tried to talk about issues voters care about won out here over generic 3-5 candidate signs that barely fit the office names on there. It was expected to be an opposition party wave year, and they didn’t run like it at all here in Bucks County.

I also won’t ignore that Trump was a factor, even though federal races weren’t on the ticket here. But that isn’t a surprise since this is typically the result when one party takes the White House the previous year. One way to both run against what many find off-putting about Trump without actually running against him and his policies is to make yourself really likable. I see a huge missed opportunity with one relatively small office in Pennsylvania that could really spawn a lot of fun online ad themes, and that’s Prothonotary. I still can’t say it. I still don’t fully understand what they do (even though I believe some of it is genealogically-related), and I can assure you that other regular and irregular voters are in the same boat. Surely someone in a candidate’s circle of friends or family could help draft a series of funny videos around that theme. Run them online for not much money, and that could have been one more county office to hold onto just by running on a platform of being a likable person with a sense of humor.

There’s also the mobilization issue. How many GOP-leaning voters were put off by a lack of enthusiasm, a dislike of driving in dark and rain, and heavy rain? In an aging state like Pennsylvania, probably quite a few. Was there an effort to reach out to older voters who otherwise would have gone to vote? I don’t know. I know that some races were close enough that everything should be on the table as proposals to GOTV for the county GOP. I also know enough to know that they won’t do it here. Sad.

Not Hysterical Piece on Rifles

Leave it to the local news to have someone write a not completely hysterical piece explaining the type of rifle used in Sunday’s shooting. Of course, then other articles they are running from other reporters specifically contradict the facts reported in this story – many using the “AR means assault rifle” crap. I thought the MSM told us that one benefit they offered was layers of editorial oversight. So why run a factual piece that explains the AR myth isn’t at all true, but then turn around and work that uses the AR references in a way to directly contradict yourselves?

Like any high profile incident, we’re not really going to comment until more facts are released. It seems there’s a great deal of information not released yet, and that may or may not raise questions about enforcement of laws. I will admit that based on bits that appear to have been confirmed, it is troubling that Texas seemingly approved this guy as a “certified” security guard when he had a conviction for assaulting other people. It seems to me that even unarmed security have some level of “authority” over others in their place of employment, and those with a history of assaulting others may not be the best fit for those jobs. (Or maybe they are a perfect fit in some jobs like at sketchy bars, but probably not for the family water park where he was apparently approved to work since the shooter’s conviction was for assaulting his own family.) But again, I also acknowledge that the timeline or other details may change rapidly.

What does appear to be shaping up is that this shooter was caught because of the efforts of an armed citizen and another regular guy with a truck willing to risk their lives to put an end to this shooter’s ability to do harm. They couldn’t save those inside the church, but they did what they could to make sure he didn’t hurt anyone else.

Victims at the Four Seasons

Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer has an attention-grabbing headline: “For Bucks couple in Vegas, a horrifying view of the carnage.” With a headline like that, you click on it thinking that maybe they were in the midst of the crowd and saw things you can never forget.

And, let me tell you, I don’t think they will ever forget the horrifying view of an empty littered lot 35 stories below their posh Four Seasons room the morning after the shooting. The art deco-inspired wall papers and giant shiny silver mirrors to reflect the lights coming in from their floor-to-ceiling windows looking down on the Strip will remain forever in their minds against the backdrop of the litter below them.

The article says they heard some shots which the couple assumed to be fireworks with the concert they could just hear below them. But the article deliberately uses phrases that just acknowledge they saw the curtains blowing out of the neighboring hotel room the following morning and litter the next morning after there had been bodies previously. It doesn’t actually say they saw “carnage.”

The Inquirer does want us to know that the couple resting in their super comfortable Four Seasons bed has no intention of letting the gunman get in the way of their high end bridal conference business and that they will, in fact, be strong enough to stay the entire 4 additional nights they were planning to stay! #LasVegasStrong

When this couple reached out to the largest newspaper in their home region to tell their harrowing story, they made sure to pose for a photo in their posh hotel dressed in their most stylish clothes looking appropriately concerned for the little people below. Without it, I’m not sure we could have believed that they had survived such a tragic crime that happened to a group of completely unrelated people 1,600 feet down the Vegas Strip.

Liberal Advice Columnist Tackles Gun Ownership

…and it doesn’t end up how one might expect.

One of my weird little guilt pleasures is reading Dear Prudence. She’s young and very liberal who not only lives, but also works in that bubble. Needless to say, I figured I knew which way she would come down on the side of a wife who doesn’t want to buy a gun with her husband who does want one for self-protection in the home.

I have to admit though, I thoroughly agree with her advice. First, she makes clear that the wife does not have to commit to using a firearm if she’s not comfortable doing it. That is absolutely true. Not everyone is going to be comfortable using a firearm or any type of lethal force. Self defense is a personal decision, and just like we should have the right to decide to have access to a firearm to defend our lives and families, others have the right to choose an alternative (or no alternative if they are true pacifists).

After that, though, “Prudie” points out that if her husband is equally determined to own a firearm as the wife is to not using one, there’s still an argument to be made she should know enough about to have a reasonable discussion on safety precautions when it’s around her in the house. Again, that’s perfectly reasonable. I’ve made the case plenty of times that even when one household member isn’t too keen on gun ownership, just having a basic knowledge on how to safely handle it and unload it if needed can go a very long way in easing their comfort with the existence of one at home.

It didn’t come down to politics at all – just a reasonable argument that the couple will need to solve it for themselves and that both have the rights to their views. Could it be that we’re winning more of the culture fight than we might sometimes realize?

If you want a question related to guns that involves a little more drama, there’s this one from July where a girl raised living off the land hunting and fishing in a poor household is involved with a rich girl trying to go vegan and they are getting serious enough to consider kids – except they can’t agree on food. While Prudie says it’s a relationship worth trying to save since this is the only major disagreement, she also kind of quietly acknowledges that there’s a good chance something this major won’t end well for trying to raise children together.

Bloomberg Steals from the Little Guys?

I have to admit that I would expect Bloomberg’s people to be much more thoughtful about the optics of taking the work produced by individuals with far less cash in their bank accounts in this era of economic populism.

Bloomberg was smart enough to realize that after years of his political allies getting arrested – often for gun violence crimes or crimes against women & children – that Illegal Mayors Against Guns wasn’t going to go anywhere. Not to mention, actual grassroots gun owners in many non-urban areas successfully convinced several to very publicly disavow his agenda. He already had a lock on urban leaders, so he rebranded.

He can’t rebrand himself as “not a billionaire.” It is something that has worked against him repeatedly since it automatically paints him as a guy looking to come into states, throw some personal wealth around, and outspend any local voices. Because, well, that is exactly what he does in elections. Regardless, you’d think he’s still want to keep a softer image with it outside of election season so that he can try to build a network of allies to use in the next election season before he pisses them all off.

Nope, Bloomberg’s folks apparently want to promote the image of big, bad jerk billionaire because his partner Shannon Watts decided to take the work of a Houston-based independent photographer. Despite having licensing information clearly stated on his Twitter bio, Shannon swiped his work – how this man in a disaster area supports himself – and posted it to show how much she and her political partners “care.”

In fact, not only did she take it without paying for it, she didn’t even credit him for his work and the fact that he ventured out into the storm to capture the magnitude of the damage. She spent nearly $3 million on a house in the mountains, and her boss is worth about $53 billion, but their online advocacy efforts run through her Twitter page would rather take the (fantastic) work of others without credit or license than pay licensing fees to small business owners. In fact, even though the image is gone from her Twitter account, she refused to acknowledge the wrong and apologize or even wish him & his family well in the ongoing disaster.

Of course, it gets better. This theft of other people’s work goes beyond Twitter and photographs. NSSF’s Larry Keane found that state leaders for Bloomberg & Watts are using local government offices to request Project ChildSafe gun locks and slapping their own branding on them, pretending like they are responsible for the program.

Bloomberg the Billionaire only cares enough about gun safety to buy a little paper, send state leaders around to pick up gun locks provided by the firearm industry, and pretend he’s running his own program. Again, it’s a case of Everytown taking the hard work of people with fewer resources and pretending it is his own without any credit or acknowledgement. This is why class warfare rhetoric works with so many people. Outside of the walls of Everytown, this kind of behavior of taking credit for the work of those with less means rubs people the wrong way.

Bloomberg’s $20 Million Mistake

This is a lovely harsh rebuke to the Bloomberg allies who are trying to convince their supporters that the evil Republicans are to blame for not having total background checks on every single firearms transfer. They point out that, no, the gun control groups pushing the initiative are 100% to blame for the “mistake.”

NRAAM Participation Trends

I really wish that the anti-gun groups would take an actual detailed account of how many participants they have their anti-NRA protests for annual meeting each year so we could compare. Somehow, I don’t think their graph would look like this one.

This is based on data I’ve been tracking since I attended my very first NRA Annual Meeting in 2004. (I just realized the error in the title with the years. I clearly forgot to update that, but the numbers include Atlanta in 2017, even though that also says 2016 at the bottom. Sorry! It’s fixed in the spreadsheet for next year…)

Other data points that I keep in the spreadsheet that aren’t in this chart is how much the NRA annual meeting has grown since that first one I attended way back when. It’s now 33.5% larger in terms of attendance compared to Pittsburgh 2004. Each time we revisit a city, the number of attendees has gone up between 14% and 44%.

It’s almost like the more that people learn about what NRA is really doing, the more they are on board.

NRA Legal Seminar Catches Press Attention

I suspect it’s a good thing when media that specifically serves the legal profession covers the NRA law seminar and the fact that it qualifies for CLE (continuing legal education) credit.

Even though many attendees were ready to open fire, if the need arose, the daylong event looked and sounded like most other CLEs.

I have to admit, it would be nice if they would have mentioned it’s an annual event that will be offered in Dallas next year. I’m sure there are plenty of pro-gun lawyers in Georgia who didn’t learn about it in time and would love to get out to the next one.

My Good Deed Following NRA

My favorite section of the NRA convention is always the collector section. Each year, there’s always something new to see. In Houston, I was really excited to see a major display from Dallas Arms Collectors themed around the Revolutionary War. When I realized that several items were traced back to specific patriots, I tried to do a good gun deed and track down a few descendants who appreciated learning their ancestor’s firearm still exists. I know I would love to find out that my ancestor’s gun is still in someone’s collection and preserved somewhere.

This year, on the way back from Atlanta, we stopped at King’s Mountain, where they also have a display of weapons and related items actually used by soldiers who participated in the battle. You know what I had to do, right?

When I go down to DC in June to visit DAR headquarters, I’ll be looking up the descendants of William Smith & Jacob Beeler who have joined DAR. For all I know, they already know about their ancestor’s gun and gear on display. But, on the chance that they don’t know…well that would be amazing to share with them.

The Supreme Family Tree

In light of Trump’s victory, Gorsuch’s confirmation, and another 3 1/2 years of the term, it’s reasonable to discuss what’s next for SCOTUS. The topic becomes a bit morbid when you’re talking about non-retirement openings that could change the Court because one study found that “the justice‚Äôs death-in-office odds are about tripled” when the sitting president is from a different party than the that of the president who appointed the justice.

Sebastian & I were curious about the chances of an unplanned opening on the SCOTUS (aka not a retirement) and realized that family history can yield some important clues to the health of descendants. This post isn’t meant to indicate we’re wishing any negative health to sitting justices, it’s just an interesting intersection of law and genealogy. Here’s a look at the oldest Justices on the Court right now.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Much has been discussed about her health since she was diagnosed with one of the deadliest cancers a few years ago. However, it was caught early and things seem to be fine with her. Regardless, she is the oldest member of the SCOTUS at 84.

I actually can’t trace Ruth’s family back very far because her father was an immigrant and her mother was the daughter of immigrants. What makes it worse is that she’s from New York which is generally a nightmare for records. (There’s a reason that Reclaim the Records has had to sue them the most.) However, I have learned that Ruth may well have a fine collections of furs in her closet since her family was big in the fur business. I’d love if she’d flaunt them.

Regardless of the challenges, Ruth has far surpassed the average age I’ve been able to confirm with any confidence of her direct ancestors – 61.5. That number is largely so low because her mother died very young of cancer. Once you factor in collateral relatives such as aunts/uncles, the average age jumps up to 79.38.

Needless to say, it’s understandably why some on the left are upset that she didn’t retire under Obama. However, if she takes after a couple of uncles, then she’s got another ~3 years to meet their lifespan, and that’s enough to get into another administration should Trump not win another term should he run again. In fact, given better healthcare, it’s possible she could last through 2 terms of Trump if he can pull off a win in 2020.

Anthony Kennedy
As the next oldest member of the Court, Anthony Kennedy also has a strong recent immigrant background that makes it a little harder to trace his family tree. However, he’s the first one I found that has any line going back to the Revolution. (I don’t think that’s required or anything, but it’s just interesting.)

Anthony Kennedy is turning 81 years old this summer. The average lifespan of his direct ancestors is only 69.4 years. Factoring in those indirect relatives in reasonably close generations drops that average to 62.3 years.

It’s fair to consider that Kennedy may not want to pass on the bench. If he doesn’t want to do that, then he probably would want to retire soon. Based on his family history, he is rather lucky to have these extra years. (Granted, I don’t know the causes of death for his family, so it could well be that medical advances would have easily extended their lifetimes.)

Stephen Breyer
The third in line based on age is Stephen Breyer who will turn 79 this summer. What I can research of his tree doesn’t go back very far since his maternal grandparents were the immigrants on that branch and all great grandparents on the paternal side made the trek to America.

Direct ancestors and indirect lines come out to the same average – 73.1 years. In that regard, family history would indicate that maybe Obama’s term may have been a better time to retire if he wanted to confidently keep his seat in liberal hands.

***
I’ll do further research on the younger justices soon. And, based on suggestions at the bar this weekend, I may also expand this to study the family histories of any other potential nominees. (Watch, this will result in judges having to submit a family tree to be considered for SCOTUS!)

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