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Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

I figured the competing endorsements, of Toomey by the Bloomberg Camp and McGinty by the CeaseFire Camp (as if they were separate: Bloomberg funds CeaseFire) was to create a situation such that no matter what the outcome, victory against the evil gun lobby could be declared. This article in the Dallas News backs that up, because it looks to me like prepping the ground space for this narrative. See, Toomey loses to McGinty, it’ll mean the people want gun control. And if Toomey gets re-elected, it’ll mean the people want gun control. You can see how Bloomberg can use this effectively.

McGinty is attacking Toomey for not being gun control enough, which was entirely predictable. She argues his background check effort was largely window dressing, which is absolutely true. Toomey was trying to have his cake and eat it too, apparently believing Bloomberg’s bullshit polling on the issue and thinking his money would help him. If Toomey loses, it’ll be because most of us “stayed home.” It won’t be because he wasn’t gun control enough.

There is a strong undercurrent within the GOP in Pennsylvania that this is a safe issue to equivocate on, which was probably true decades ago when the GOP maintained their political machines in the ring counties. Growing up in Delco, hard to believe today, but a lot of Dems registered as Republicans because that was the only way you could have an actual vote. Plus, if you wanted county jobs, you had better belong to the right party, and that wasn’t the Dems. If there are any older Delco readers, you probably remember the “War Board.” A lot of GOP elders have not really fully grasped the consequences of the collapse of that system. The GOP leaders have clearly not been opening the cross tabs on a lot of these polls and seeing how wide the gap is by party affiliation. Those cross tabs show that Democrats overwhelmingly support gun control, and Republicans overwhelmingly support gun rights. Independents? They lean a bit more Republican on the issue than Democrat. This should be especially noted in a state, like Pennsylvania, where if Republicans win state-wide office, it’s going to be by a hair’s breath. Toomey needs every vote he can get, and there are a lot of us that feel he stabbed us in the back.

And it’s not necessarily just because he went against us on this one issue of background checks: his record of disagreement on that issue was pretty clear going in. It was the manner in which he went about it where the real insult came. Toomey could have signed onto Tom Coburn’s Amendment. He could have actually read the FOPA provisions in his bill that would have effectively gutted its protections. He could have acknowledged his mistakes. But instead of that, to add insult to injury, he took Bloomberg’s money, endorsement, and allows ads to run that try to out-gun-control McGinty? Yeah, screw that, Pat.

Toomey is also wrong about background checks: they always poll great when people are asked about them abstractly. When people start having to think about the actual policy implications of what the gun control groups actually want, then maybe they don’t poll so well. We saw this in Washington also, that the policy specific doesn’t vote tally nearly as well as it polls, even when put to the people in a deep blue state. That Nevada’s initiative is polling at 54% gives me a little hope we can reduce Bloomberg’s margin a good bit this go-round, or perhaps even defeat him outright. Gun control has historically over-polled on ballot initiatives.

As for Toomey, I couldn’t care less about his fate. Defeat would at least show the GOP that there is no room to equivocate on this issue, and that touching Bloomberg or his money in exchange for equating on gun rights is a fatal move.

Best Election Ever!

Seriously, it’s going to be the Wiener that brings Hil down? I couldn’t write this stuff!

Oregon Wildlife Refuge Standoff Acquittal

I’m not a big supporter of the what the wildlife refuge standoff folks did, but I’m heartened by this result because I absolutely support jury nullification and wish more people were aware of it and would use it more often. I don’t believe juries should nullify lightly, but I think it’s a critically important check the people retain against the power of the state, and in this case the federal government has just reaped the resentment is has spend years sowing with western ranchers.

Support for Assault Weapons Ban is at a New Low

AK-47This new poll result, which shows 61% of Americans opposed to assault weapons bans is great news. Support is falling even among Democrats. Hopefully will help efforts to prevent gun control advocates from building that “West Coast Wall” by convincing lawmakers in Washington and Oregon to pass a ban on assault weapons. It should also, hopefully, forestall Bloomberg from thinking balloting a ban is a smart investment. Gun control groups will probably try, but it takes money to get the signatures, and money to con convince the public, and if Bloomberg isn’t willing to spend millions to achieve that, they don’t have a prayer of doing it on their own.

Glenn Reynolds notes:

I think two things are going on. First, gun control got a boost from the psychological damage and ensuing hysteria after the JFK, RFK, and King assassinations, and that’s worn off, prompting a reversion to traditional American attitudes. Second, it’s become obvious over time that gun control is a dumb political gimmick, mostly designed for virtue-signaling at the expense of flyover rubes.

I think he’s that’s largely correct, but my worry continues to be that while national numbers like these are good news, what matters more is where people of this opinion are concentrated. For instance, if all those Assault Weapons Ban loving Dems were concentrated on the West Coast, they could get their wall, especially if Bloomberg is willing to spend big. And while I believe the effort of the Colorado recall heroes probably saved Colorado from more gun control for quite some time, demographic trends there aren’t good long term for gun rights. I certainly believe there are states in which the gun control movement will never make real gains: essentially any state where Democrats aren’t that competitive. But they stand to make real gains in states Dems are competitive in provided there’s a lot of geographical concentration of like opinion, and no real ability for gun vote to change much (e.g. California). I’d love to see more geographic-centered polling on this issue, because that’s ultimately going to determine whether the gun control movement has a shot at flipping a half-dozen or so more states into their column.

Enjoy Seeing Bloomberg’s Hopes & Dreams Flushed Down the Jail Cell Commode

Savor this, as it might be the only schadenfreude you’ll get this silly season: Kathleen Kane in handcuffs being carted off to prison. They had high hopes for this rising star in Democratic politics, and now where are they? Bloomberg sank, if I recall, about half a million into her race. That’s a lot of cash to spend to buy a few reciprocity agreement changes, but it’s always good to get in the ground floor of a rising political career. But that was not to be.

I noticed that Bloomberg was only willing to dump an even quarter million to Josh Shapiro’s campaign in the AG race this time around, but at this point he’s probably only looking to protect his gains from that office rather than looking for risky favors.

Misleading Pennsylvania’s Voters

Pennsylvania voters will be casting votes for a ballot initiative they have already defeated once this year. Why?

Because lawmakers realized what the outcome would likely be and decided at the last minute to invalidate the question wording to put something more misleading on the ballot instead. Based on a test run by a polling firm, they are going to get what they want by playing dirty.

What’s the issue? Judicial retirement ages.

In April, we were asked directly whether or not to increase the age at which judges could retire from 70 to 75. The question before voters was clear:

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges and justices of the peace (known as magisterial district judges) be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years, instead of the current requirement that they be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 70?

It explained who it would apply to, the proposed change, and the old rule. Perfectly reasonable ballot question! Except that when you look at the history of these types of votes in other states, they almost always go down in defeat. So the lawmakers decided to change the wording at the last minute. Except absentee ballots were already printed and voting machines programmed. Instead, we were told that our votes wouldn’t count, so we shouldn’t bother voting on it. But 2.4 million people voted anyway, and they said no to the increase – exactly what lawmakers feared would happen.

When the new language was announced, a couple of former Supreme Court Chief Justices sued on the basis that it’s deliberately deceitful. You be the judge:

Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges and magisterial district judges be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years?

Funny how now it sounds like you’re adding a judicial retirement age to the constitution instead of extending the terms of those in office! Even funnier that the current Chief Justice turns 70 this winter, and the next in line for the seat turns 70 next year. What an odd and completely unexpected coincidence! What an even stranger coincidence that the Supreme Court decided to leave the question alone with one Justice recusing, half saying it’s perfectly clear and the other half saying it’s confusing. Average age of the justices voting that it’s clear as day? 62. Average age of those voting that it’s clear as mud? 55. If you count the Chief Justice’s recusal as putting him in the camp of those wanting the new, confusing language, that average age goes up to 64.

While I did vote no on the initial non-binding vote, I could have been convinced that it’s worthwhile to increase the retirement age. But now, no way. This is a deliberate deception, and one columnist mentions that a local polling firm has found it’s likely going to work exactly how lawmakers and the courts wanted it to work.

Berwood Yost, chief methodologist for the Franklin & Marshall Poll, … found in a split-ballot experiment that voters presented with the current wording tended to vote “yes.” When asked if justices should be able to retire at 75 instead of 70, however, most say no.

If you’re a Pennsylvania voter, I would strongly encourage you to vote “NO” on the ballot question this November. More importantly, tell your friends and family who vote about what’s going so they know not to support this kind of deceit. In April, it was a legitimate vote on the retirement age. Next month, it’s a more of a vote on legal ethics. Don’t let them play these games and get away with it.

Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste

Or apparently lamenting that a crisis doesn’t quite fit the preferred narrative. We’ve always wondered if they sit around waiting for the right kind of atrocity, and now we have an answer. Without context we don’t really know whether the lament was that a terrorist act wouldn’t drive the gun control train in the same manner as they wished, but it sure seems apparent that something didn’t fit Podesta’s preferred narrative.

This is Why We Need Constitutional Carry

Because protections built into the law mean nothing to the Pennsylvania State Police. They apparently have illegally linked the LTCF information to our Drivers’ Licenses so that when you’re pulled over at a traffic stop the officer can see all your information related to the LTCF. It may not just be cops either:

Furthermore, even if there was, it is illegal to disclose this information to individuals other than a law enforcement officer acting in the scope of his/her duties. As I understand the new system, it is being relayed to emergency responders, which may even include tow truck drivers that are part of the system.

I’m very uncomfortable with this state of affairs. This essentially makes Pennsylvania a duty-to-inform state. How long before they link this to the plate readers the cops use these days? Bullshit. This information was supposed to be private and increasingly we’re seeing state officials violate the law when they feel like it. What’s worse? Most of the time they get away with it.

NRA Releases Candidate Grades for Pennsylvania

You can see here. It’s pretty much what I expected. Pat Toomey gets his grade reduced from an A to a C and loses his endorsement. In my local congressional race, it looks like Brian Fitzpatrick turned in a B questionnaire and is not going to carry an NRA endorsement. However, Fitzpatrick is running against Steve Santarsiero, whose F grade is really an understatement. Recall that Steve Santarsiero called for door-to-door confiscation of semi-automatic firearms. In other suburban Philadelphia races, Republican Pat Meehan is down to a B- with a D rated Mary Ellen Balchunis running against him. A race to watch is the sixth district, held by A rated and endorsed Ryan Costello, up against a D rated Mike Parrish. Costello is the only suburban district not running in mad fear of Bloomberg’s money. I cannot stress how damaging Bloomberg has been to gun rights in the Philadelphia suburbs, and that’s almost entirely because he brings more cash to the table than we can, and our local gun owners are not active enough in the issue politically to counter his money. It is not for lack of gun owners that we are losing ground, it is for lack of gun owners who give a shit enough to do something.

John C. Rafferty has drawn an endorsement with an A- grade in the  race for Attorney General. His Democratic opponent Josh Shapiro is D rated, and on his web site says that he plans to “Expand background checks to cover private sales of long guns.” I’m not sure how the AG has the power to do that, but there you go. We’d also continue to worry about our reciprocity agreements with other states with Shapiro in the AG seat. Also consider that the AG seat is a springboard for Governor.

Red Meat for their Respective Bases

I watched the debate last night, despite there not being enough booze in the world to get through that. Pass the Brawndo. I call it a draw, with the real loser being the American People. I think Trump’s base got a lot of red meat from Trump with his trade protectionism and good old fashioned “law & order” talk, and Hillary’s base got red meat both from her, and from plenty of Trump hate. Glenn Reynolds I think summed up my sentiment best:

Honestly, the bar was set so low that both cleared it: Trump didn’t throw anything, and she didn’t cough up blood. Happy 2016!

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