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Details Matter – Legislative Whoopsie

Via Josh Prince, we find out that Pennsylvania’s new preemption law isn’t really law…yet. It turns out that someone sent the wrong version of the bill to the Governor.

Josh noted on Facebook that it does mean a new effective date, but the law will still become law.

Maybe Tom Corbett could find a liquor privatization bill that the Senate seemingly forgot to send him to sign before he leaves, too.

The Future of Ballot Measures

Sebastian noted that Bloomberg has rated his top priorities for the next gun control ballot initiatives. The Brady Campaign is quick to follow with their promise to ride his coattails.

However, they want more. They want far more than what Bloomberg is willing to fund right now. They released this map that shows all of the states they want to target in coming years with gun control ballot measures.


Maine isn’t highlighted because the Brady Bunch decided to go with a flashing GIF that colored target states blue one by one and I didn’t quite act fast enough to capture it in time. I didn’t care enough to try again.

Regardless, I wouldn’t completely write this off if you’re in a deep red state that they have colored dark blue on this map. Plenty of gun owners are willing to believe that these laws only target “bad” people and that they aren’t really efforts to entrap otherwise law-abiding people who just get mixed up with what’s allowed and not allowed. Do not assume your state is immune.

To Win, You First Need Good Candidates

This is a great WaPo article detailing how the GOP came back for the 2014 elections. I think it also hits on an important concept, which I believe is lost on the Tea Party, and probably the cause of a lot of friction between it and the GOP establishment. The Tea Party is big on finding the “true conservative,” and not focused nearly enough on finding good candidates. The article talks about the candidacy of Joni Ernst in Iowa:

Republicans worked to polish Ernst’s presentation and policy platform. “She is naturally disciplined, and I assume that has a lot to do with her military training and her farm-girl roots,” said David Kochel, an Ernst adviser.

Meanwhile, the Braley campaign had problems. With each of his missteps — a gaffe about towel service at the House gym, hostile questioning of witnesses in committee hearings and a local fracas over a neighbor’s roaming chickens — Braley caused heartburn in Washington.

When the chicken incident became public, Reid called and said, “Bruce, look, you just have to be smarter than this — or you’re going to lose,” according to Krone. Schumer, the party’s message maven, called Braley repeatedly to help him become more disciplined.

“Braley listens for a minute and then sort of just continues back on his merry way,” said a senior Democratic official. “He’s not a good politician, which may seem like a compliment but it’s not. . . . He comes across as arrogant, and I think it’s because he is.”

If you want true conservatives to win, they must first be good candidates, meaning they have to be good politicians. What are the qualities of a good candidate?

  • They can fundraise and run a campaign. If they can’t do this, they can’t win. A lot of people in Pennsylvania were really enamored with Sam Rohrer for a while, but he couldn’t fundraise or campaign, and so he never went anywhere as a state level candidate.
  • They have to be disciplined. They need to stay on message, and avoid saying stupid things. In the example given of Chris McDaniel in Mississippi, he was formerly a conservative talk radio host. No one who has that much of a paper trail, on transcript trail in his case, makes a good candidate. They’ve said too much over the years, and some of it is going to be stupid. Some of it will be stupid taken out of context, which the opposition is sure to do. This is where Todd Akin fell over.
  • They have to be personally likable. They have to come across to low information voters as good people, who care about them, and reflect their values. Standing up for “true conservative” values is fine and well, but if they can’t do it in a way that still maintains likability, they will tank. LIVs aren’t ideological, and there are a lot of higher information voters who aren’t particularly ideological. They want candidates who appear to care about them, and others. If you can’t frame your ideology in a manner that connects it back to voters, you don’t have a chance. This is why Libertarians have never gotten anywhere.
  • They have to be good at retail politics. If they are no good on the stump, in debates, at dealing with people one-on-one, or aren’t willing to campaign hard to achieve victory, their campaign could easily end up hopeless. Modern GOTV efforts require candidates that are well-versed, or at least knowledgeable enough to hire people well-versed in technology. Why did Scott Brown do so well as a carpetbagger candidate in New Hampshire? Because he’s very good on this factor.

These factors matter a lot more than ideology. In politics, these factors are the horse. Ideology is the cart. The Tea Party doesn’t seem to understand that. The establishment does, and that’s a big reason the establishment did well in this election. I share people’s loathing of the GOP establishment, but if the Tea Party doesn’t learn not to put the cart before the horse, they’ll continue to struggle and be disillusioned.

Elections 2014: How Did We Fare?

For me the big prize was Hickenlooper, and that race is still too close to call. Same with Malloy in Connecticut. I’m pessimistic, because close races almost always resolve in favor of the Democrat. Still, I’ll take giving them a close shave. Malloy especially, is a deep blue state incumbent Governor. That race should have been a cakewalk for him and it wasn’t. Hickenlooper also should have sailed to re-election. Things are still close in the Colorado Senate race. We won in Maryland, which was an open seat. That was surprising. Cuomo handily won re-election, but that was not a surprise.

We did not do well on the Background Check initiative in Washington. It passed about 60/40. The competing 591 got voted down outright. Billionaire assholes can buy elections folks. That result means they will try that again elsewhere where they have the ballot as a weapon. Oregon gun owners: I’d be getting nervous.

All in all, I don’t think it was a bad night for gun owners, but it was not as good as it could have been, when compared to how the GOP did as a whole. The GOP would do well not to take this election as a mandate. This was a vote repudiating Obama, not a vote for the GOP. They just happened to be lucky enough to be the not Obama.

Good News for PA Voters

This is just a reminder that if Tom Wolf wins, as expected, it is now legal to drink your sorrows away at the local bar. However, you may need to stay closer to sober in order to save your bucks to pay those higher taxes he’s promising everyone.

Regardless of the sorrows you may need to drown, the linked story is an interesting history on liquor sales in Pennsylvania on Election Day. They also note that South Carolina was the last state to legalize the sale of alcohol on Election Day while Alaska and Massachusetts still allow local towns to enact bans.

I think it’s also funny that they feel the need to remind people that you can’t trade liquor for votes. The story also notes that as recently as last year, there have been problems with this with an Arkansas lawmaker who traded vodka and chicken dinners for votes.

A Democratic congressional candidate out in Western Pennsylvania posted photos of herself and volunteers with candy that they were giving out to their voters today. I wonder if there’s a law on that?

Off I Go to Hold My Nose

I’ve been happy with Corbett on the gun issue. If you look at his record, it’s about the only constituency he managed to please. On every other issue, I’m disappointed. He hasn’t really done anything to fix the state’s long term financial problems. The People of Wisconsin will be happy that Scott Walker made some hard decisions now. Even New Jersey is probably marginally better off for having Chris Christie. But Pennsylvania is probably doomed to a serious pension crisis in the not so distant future. Because of the intransigence of the Senate GOP leadership, we couldn’t even get liquor privatization done. But I will hold my nose and cast the vote for Corbett, pretty much solely on the gun issue. He signed enhanced castle doctrine and signed enhanced preemption. He came out after Sandy Hook and put the kibosh on gun control in Pennsylvania, which enabled us to focus federally. Every one of our neighboring states except Ohio and West Virginia suffered attacks and setbacks at the state level, and it was West Virginia’s senator trying to screw us federally. As Republicans go in this state, Corbett has been pretty good on guns. I can’t imagine Tom Ridge holding so firm after something like Sandy Hook.

I’m also very concerned Tom Wolf will be the Jerry Brown of Pennsylvania. At some point, fellow citizens, we need to stick it to the GOP leadership in this state. Pennsylvania has a moderate political tradition of centrist Democrats (except in the cities) and squishy Republicans, so it’s going to be a long road. Wolf wants to fix the state’s finances with more taxes, notably a progressive tax (which is unconstitutional, PA mandates a flat income tax). As a commenter mentioned earlier this morning, this place is going to start looking an awful lot like New York if the state GOP doesn’t start standing for something other than its own power and self-interest. If Wolf wins, the best case scenario is total gridlock, and all that while the clock will be ticking on the state’s pension problems.

In local races, my State Representative, Frank Farry, has been pretty solid on Second Amendment issues, so he gets my vote without question. Robert “Tommy” Tomlinson, my State Senator, went without an endorsement for a while because he tried to screw us on Florida reciprocity. This year he’s got an endorsement again, because he voted with us on Castle Doctrine and enhanced preemption. I’ll vote for him, since his Democratic challenger, Kim Rose, didn’t even see fit to return a questionnaire.

I’m still deciding whether or not I’m going to hold my nose for Mike Fitzpatrick. He took an endorsement from Bloomberg’s outfit, and was one of the few Republicans to support the house equivalent of Manchin-Toomey. If I do, this will be the last year. If Fitzpatrick doesn’t step down in 2016, like he’s promised to do, and fails to draw a successful primary challenger, I’m done with voting for Fitzpatrick as long as he’s going to suck up to guys like Bloomberg. If I do end up pushing the button for Fitz, it’s not really for him so much as to keep the seat in GOP hands in the hopes he steps down like he promised, or draws a reasonable primary challenger. If that seat flips to the Dems, it’s going to be a hell of a lot harder to get it back, which would suck if the GOP actually managed to find an acceptable candidate for 2016.

Tomorrow is the Day

This is an unusually good piece with Wayne LaPierre. He often comes across as kind of wooden and teleprompted. But this is pretty good:

And I can’t argue with the message. This election is the first major election where we get to express our disapproval of the politicians who sided with Bloomberg and conspired to punish us for the actions of a madman in Newtown, CT. There’s a good chance we can get both Hickenlooper and Malloy tomorrow, but that isn’t going to happen unless we vote.

Candidate X or candidate Y may not be ideal, but punishment first. We’ll deal with the new boss’s issues in time.

Quarantine Power

This is a bit off topic, but news is slow on the gun front today. I ran out of energy for arguing over what libertarianism is and isn’t in my late 30s, but for the sake of a conversation starter, I thought I ask the question of whether a mandatory quarantine is compatible with libertarian principles, however you want to define them.

I suppose some would argue that a quarantine violates the non-aggression principle. Others would probably argue that spreading a disease to someone is initiation of force, and so the state is justified in preventing it. But really, there’s only a risk if you go out in public that you’ll spread a disease. What level of risk constitutes aggression?

These days I’ve learned to like Prof. Randy Barnett’s argument that having a theory of the state police power is important. Under that idea, quarantine would typically fall under a traditional police power the states have held. However, since the federal government lacks a police power, it’s only quarantine powers would be related to international travel, and interstate movements. Some would argue, I believe convincingly, that if you’re a dedicated originalist, the federal government probably has no quarantine power at all, since the Constitution only gives Congress the power to control naturalization of persons, and not their movement.


The PA Supreme Court Controversy

Ace has a pretty decent write-up on the controversy on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court surrounding Justice Seamus McCaffery, who got in trouble for sending around raunchy e-mails on state computers. Apparently Justice McCaffery and the Chief Justice Castille don’t get along too well with each other. At the end, Ace notes:

Philadelphia Magazine says the war is partly about the power to supervise all of Pennsylvania’s state courts — power Castille doesn’t trust McCaffery with.

I don’t really have much of an opinion on the controversy, and perhaps Chief Justice Castille has legitimate reasons to be worried about Justice McCaffery. But I should note there’s a gun angle to this, in that Justice McCaffery is friendly to the Second Amendment, and Chief Justice Castille, a former Philadelphia District Attorney, has not been.

Supreme Court justices are elected in Pennsylvania, and McCaffery has carried an NRA Endorsement, and has spoken NRA Annual Firearms Law Seminar. I thought his talks were entertaining and funny, as Supreme Court justice presentations go.

Educating Our Opponents

It would appear that Pennsylvania gun owners may need to work a little harder to educate our opponents.

I don’t mean that we need to educate them on how firearms actually work or on the historical lessons of the Second Amendment – they’ll never listen to those messages.

What our opponents need is a return to elementary school spelling classes, perhaps with a mix of middle school civics to supplement their lessons.

This tweet, with the creative spelling of amendment, went out to at least 26 Senators. I get that typos happen (don’t even get me started on how many people I see who add an extra ‘m’ to the word), but in a call to action tweet sent from a professionally staffed organization to over one half of the members of a legislative body, that’s a pretty sad mistake.

I hope that people on our side of the issue will remember to double check your tweets and messages before you start writing to lawmakers.

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