Wednesday, August 31, 2016

From the Archives: Civil liberties lawyer John Whitehead recalls Beatles' social, political impact

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on February 13, 2014. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Civil liberties lawyer John Whitehead recalls Beatles' social, political impact

Sunday, February 9, will mark the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first appearance on American television. That evening in 1964, the Fab Four – John, Paul, George, and Ringo – were guests on The Ed Sullivan Show. In the studio audience were hundreds of screaming teenagers but across the country, 73 million viewers tuned in, almost twice as many as had previously watched a single television broadcast.

Charlottesville civil liberties attorney John Whitehead reminisced on February 7 about that night and what followed that decade in an interview on WCHV-FM's “Inside Charlottesville.” On Friday afternoon's program, host Coy Barefoot asked him to recall the beginnings of Beatlemania and its subsequent impact on society.

Taken by surprise
Whitehead, founder of the Rutherford Institute, began by noting that, according to their photographer, when the Beatles landed in New York on February 7, 1964, “and they heard all this yelling and stuff, they thought the President had landed, or some dignitary. They didn't realize [until] they went down the ramp that all those 5,000 teenagers” who crowded the runway “were there for them. They were taken totally by surprise.”

They should not have been so surprised, however, because the Beatles' popularity had preceded them to America.

“They had the top five tunes in the Top 40” in February 1964, Whitehead explained. “No one's ever duplicated that, which is amazing. I think that seven out of the top 10 songs were Beatles songs when they landed in the country.”

So many people were indoors that Sunday to watch the band on Ed Sullivan, he said, the country experienced its lowest crime rate in something like ten years. George Harrison later quipped that “even the Kremlin was tuned in,” Whitehead recalled. “It was amazing.”

The Sixties begin
Reflecting on the Beatles' later impact on politics and society, he suggested that “the Sixties, in my opinion, started that night on The Ed Sullivan Show.”

That performance began “all that upheaval” that continued with the worldwide broadcast over the BBC of “All You Need Is Love” (with 400 million viewers) and culminated with “the summer of love” and Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967.

The Beatles, he said, “captivated the world with peace, harmony, and love, which was their great message.”

He added that John Lennon “took off on his own and started his worldwide campaign for peace, and anti-war.” In reaction to that, he said, “the FBI went after him, collected 400 pages” of intelligence on Lennon's activities “and tried to intimidate him and get him deported. Richard Nixon considered John Lennon his number one enemy at that time. It was really weird.”

Horrified parents
Asked by Barefoot where he was that night 50 years ago, Whitehead recalled that he “watched the show” and his “parents were horrified.”

Years later, he continued, shortly before his mother passed away, “I asked her, what was the worst thing that ever happened to America? She looked at me and said 'The Beatles.'”

His mother was not alone. He also remembered attending a conference in “1983 or 1984” when a prominent minister took the stage and said to the audience of 10,000, “I want to tell you what has really destroyed America: The Beatles.”

Whitehead looked around at the young people around him and they all had the same puzzled looks on their faces. The minister “never explained what he meant” but he was probably referring to “the youth rebellion” of the 1960s.

That rebellion, Whitehead went on, “was focused.” It “brought down a crooked president” and the protesters “stopped the Vietnam War.”

Youth in rebellion
He expressed his admiration for the youth rebellion of that era.

“I'd like to see all that again, folks. I've often said, if you've got a picket sign and you're out there active, I don't care what you believe. I may not like what you're saying, [but] I'll go to my death to defend it," Whitehead said. "I just like activism."

John Lennon, he pointed out, “epitomized” the spirit of youthful rebellion and was even vilified by some on the Left for his idealism.

When Lennon released the song “Revolution” (on The White Album) and said “if you want destruction, count me out,” Whitehead remembered, “The Village Voice actually criticized him for being too peaceful.” Lennon's response was along the lines of, “What do you want to do, kill people? Why would we destroy anyone if we want peace?”

It's that kind of idealism that Whitehead would “like to see all that again but I don't see a lot of it.”

Expressing some frustration, he added: “Here's the thing. A guy like Lennon, the other Beatles -- they took their fame and tried to advance an agenda, a very positive agenda, but I'm looking around for entertainers today like that. Justin Bieber? I don't know.”

John Whitehead, author of A Government of Wolves, has also published an essay, “50 Years After the Beatles: Isn’t It Time for Another Political & Cultural Revolution?,” on the Rutherford Institute's web site.

SUGGESTED LINKS

Charlottesville civil liberties lawyer assesses 2012-13 Supreme Court term
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Charlottesville lawyers compile rules against ‘politically correct’ Xmas
Rutherford Institute endorses Charlottesville marijuana resolution
Attorney General Cuccinelli calls Charlottesville ABC sting operation 'overkill'

Original URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/civil-liberties-lawyer-john-whitehead-recalls-beatles-social-political-impact

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

From the Archives: Federal court strikes down Virginia same-sex marriage ban but stays order

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on February 13, 2014. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Federal court strikes down Virginia same-sex marriage ban but stays order

In a case that involves a confusing mix of plaintiffs, defendants, and ex-defendants who have taken the side of the plaintiffs, a federal judge late on the eve of Valentine's Day struck down both Virginia's statutes prohibiting same-sex marriage and a state constitutional amendment that does the same

“The Court is compelled to conclude that Virginia's Marriage Laws unconstitutionally deny Virginia's gay and lesbian citizens the fundamental freedom to choose to marry,” wrote Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in a 41-page opinion. “Government interests in perpetuating traditions, shielding state matters from federal interference, and favoring one model of parenting over others must yield to this country's cherished protections that ensure the exercise of the private choices of the individual citizen regarding love and family.”

In the case of Bostic v. Rainey, Wright Allen (nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate in 2011) granted the plaintiffs request for summary judgment and found that “Va. Const. Art. I, § 15-A, Va. Code §§ 20-45.2, 20-45.3, and any other Virginia law that bars same-sex marriage or prohibits Virginia's recognition of lawful same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions unconstitutional. These laws deny Plaintiffs their rights to due process and equal protection guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

At the same time, Wright Allen stayed her order pending review by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Richmond.

In strong language, Wright Allen stated that the Commonwealth of Virginia's defense of its same-sex marriage bans failed to meet even the very low legal hurdle of rational-basis analysis

“Virginia's Marriage Laws fail to display a rational relationship to a legitimate purpose,” she wrote, “and so must be viewed as constitutionally infirm under even the least onerous level of scrutiny. Accordingly, this Court need not address Plaintiffs' compelling arguments that the Laws should be subjected to heightened scrutiny."

If there are any “legitimate purposes” behind the same-sex marriage bans, she argued, they “share no rational link with Virginia Marriage Laws being challenged. The goal and the result of this legislation is to deprive Virginia's gay and lesbian citizens of the opportunity and right to choose to celebrate, in marriage, a loving, rewarding, monogamous relationship with a partner to whom they are committed for life. These results occur without furthering any legitimate state purpose.”

Wright Allen's ruling follows similar federal court decisions in Utah and Oklahoma (which are cited in her opinion) and, most recently, Kentucky.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who made national headlines in January when he refused to defend the marriage laws and instead presented a brief on behalf of the gay couples seeking to overturn the ban, issued a short statement in advance of holding a press conference on Friday morning:

In a press release, Herring said that the district court's decision "is a victory for the Constitution and for treating everyone equally under the law. It is the latest step in a journey towards equality for all Virginians, no matter who they are or whom they love.”

Acknowledging the court's stay of its order, Herring noted that the legal process “will continue to play out in the months to come, but this decision shows that Virginia, like America, is coming to a better place in recognizing that every Virginian deserves to be treated equally and fairly.”

Herring's news conference will take place at 11:45 a.m. on Friday, February 14, in the auditorium of the Pocahontas Building at 900 E. Main Street in Richmond.

SUGGESTED LINKS

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring will challenge anti-gay marriage laws
Obama’s announcement prompts question, Is gay marriage a ‘new right’?
LP gubernatorial hopeful Robert Sarvis aims for marriage equality in Virginia
Libertarians praise Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling in DOMA case
Author David Lampo brings gay-rights message to conservative Republicans

Original URL:  http://www.examiner.com/article/federal-court-strikes-down-virginia-same-sex-marriage-ban-but-stays-order

Monday, August 29, 2016

From the Archives: Charlottesville entrepreneur Paul Jones sells non-lethal self-defense products

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on February 18, 2014. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Charlottesville entrepreneur Paul Jones sells non-lethal self-defense products

Two decades ago, when Charlottesville business owner Paul Jones ran a shipping company near the University of Virginia, he heard from his part-time employees – mostly female students – that they had apprehensions about walking around town and across the UVA Grounds late at night.

After doing some research, Jones found a supplier of pepper spray and began to stock it in his store. Through word of mouth, pepper spray became a more popular product than any of the other items he sold in his store.

“I was selling thousands of pepper sprays,” he told the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner in a recent interview. “I was the only outlet in Charlottesville at the time.”

Starting The Belvedere Company
Fast-forward to 2014, when Jones was looking for a new enterprise he could pursue in retirement.

“I was looking to start a company that would deal mostly on-line but the big struggle was finding a product that I really liked, that I really believed in, and could use [myself],” he explained.

He looked at and dismissed “pills and lotions and potions for weight loss and virility and those types of things,” when he remembered “how I used to sell pepper spray, lots of pepper spray.”

That was when he considered non-lethal self-defense products and started The Belvedere Company, an on-line retailer that sells not only pepper sprays but burgler alarms, whistles, surveillance equipment, safes for storing valuables, and other self-protection items.

“That's what I want to sell,” Jones said. “It helps people. It makes people safe. Since I believe in it, it's easier for me to sell.”

These are the same products he uses himself and gives to his own children and stepchildren for their own self-protection.

Easy to use
“I like everybody to be safe,” he explained. “I can make money helping people to be safe. To me, it was a no-brainer.”

The non-lethal self-protection products The Belvedere Company sells are easy to use, Jones noted. “You don't have to be physically strong or fast or nimble, but you have to be willing to use it and you have to be alert and aware of your surroundings all the time.”

Even though he hopes to make a profit selling self-defense products, Jones cautions that “the number one way to defend yourself is to avoid problems. Don't go into a dangerous situation.”

The best way to stay safe, he says, is not “to put yourself into a position that's like walking down a dark alley at night in a strange city. There's no sense doing it if you can avoid it.”

However, he adds, “if you have to be out alone – and you can be in a safe place and still be attacked – the big thing is you have to have your weapon with you. If it's at home, it's not going to help you.”

Alternative alarms
For those who are wary of using something like pepper spray, which might blow back after being used against an attacker, Jones offers alternatives like whistles and alarms on The Belvedere Company's web site.

“We've got 'screech alarms,'” he pointed out, which “emit high-decibel sounds that sometimes scare away an attacker and other times just draw attention to you, which an attacker doesn't want. He doesn't want attention drawn to him if he's assaulting someone.”

In addition to self-defense products, Jones also sells instruction manuals, such as The Facts About Defense Sprays and How to Use Them to Bring Criminals to Their Knees, which he calls “a long title for a short book.”

That book, Jones said, “will give you the self-confidence to use any of our self-defense products, whether you are going to use a pepper spray or not.”

The Belvedere Company, which Jones calls a “one-stop shop for personal security products,” sells to customers in the Charlottesville area, elsewhere in Virginia, and – with a few minor exceptions – in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

SUGGESTED LINKS

Federal court strikes down Virginia same-sex marriage ban but stays order
Civil liberties lawyer John Whitehead recalls Beatles' social, political impact
'Proselytizing for freedom,' Robert Sarvis bids for U.S. Senate in Virginia
Privileges, immunities, gun rights: Charlottesville lawyer Buddy Weber discusses the 14th Amendment
Podcaster Adam Kokesh talks about NSA spying, gay marriage, and Justin Bieber

Original URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/charlottesville-entrepreneur-paul-jones-sells-non-lethal-self-defense-products

Sunday, August 28, 2016

From the Archives: Attorney Bruce Fein discusses NSA lawsuit, DHS spying, and FCC intrusions

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on February 21, 2014. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Attorney Bruce Fein discusses NSA lawsuit, DHS spying, and FCC intrusions

Constitutional attorney and former Reagan administration official Bruce Fein spoke in Charlottesville on Thursday, February 20, about his book, Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy, at a forum sponsored by the Rutherford Institute and hosted by the Barnes & Noble at Barracks Road Shopping Center.

In an interview with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner just before his presentation, Fein said he would also comment on events since the book's 2009 publication, events that illustrate how “violations of the constitution have become so chronic that they numb the public and even elected officials to the danger we encounter as we move toward what I call 'one branch tyranny' – secret government, [with] everything subordinated to a risk-free existence and absolute executive power.”

Since writing the book, he said, “ we've inched even further along that perilous path.”

NSA spying
One example came with the revelations that the National Security Agency has been engaged in domestic spying against American citizens. In response, Fein has been working with U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) on a law suit against President Barack Obama filed as a class action “on behalf of every single American who's made a phone call in the last five years.”

He explained that “the NSA since 2006 has been collecting, without any suspicion of wrongdoing, the telephony metadata on every single American's phone calls. That means they get the number you dialed, your own number, the duration of the call, and perhaps where the location is.”

The NSA collects this information, he said, even though the agency has “no suspicion at all that you're engaged in any kind of wrongdoing, that what you're doing has anything to do with foreign intelligence.”

The agency justifies its spying with the belief that, “by collecting this data, at some future point, they may be able to connect your phone number with a foreign phone number that has some possible connection with international terrorism.”

'Dragnet surveillance'
This, Fein said, “is a dragnet surveillance of staggering proportions” yet in the eight years since the program was initiated, “there have been no uses of the program that have resolved a single terrorism investigation.”

The argument of the lawsuit is that the NSA's metadata collection “violates the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures,” he said. “You have a right to keep your metadata free from government surveillance and the fact that your phone company has it doesn't mean that you've expected the government to have it. The government can put you in prison; the phone company cannot.”

The resolution sought by the lawsuit is “to get a judicial order requiring the NSA to expunge from their database, which is perhaps the largest database in the history of the world, all of this telephony metadata, and forbid it from being collected in the future.”

If the lawsuit succeeds, he explained, “it would expunge all of the information that now hangs over everybody's head like a sword of Damocles.”

Collecting license plate data
Fein also commented on a recent news story that the Department of Homeland Security had put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) to track the location of every vehicle's license plate in the United States. (The RFP was later withdrawn in the face of public opposition.)

Even though the program was suspended, he said, “we can anticipate there'll be efforts to use surveillance drones to capture where Americans are 24 hours a day, if they step outside their home.”

This is, he explained, “all part of what I call the psychology of a risk-free existence. That's the bane of any republic because liberty can't persist without some risk.”

The DHS example shows how “the government feels that they should try to gather all information at all times about everything we do because it at some future time it might be connected with an international terrorist investigation, which again turns the whole idea of liberty on its head,” Fein explained.

“We have an inherent right to be let alone, just because we're human beings,” he said, “and that right can be disturbed only if the government can advance a compelling reason to think you're engaged in some kind of wrongdoing or have information relevant to some wrongdoing or antisocial behavior.”

Americans are not required to explain to the government “why we want to be let alone,” Fein explained, because “it's just inherent of being an American, and that has been turned on its head. The government now assumes that they have the right to get every [bit of] information they can conceive about you.”

FCC in TV newsrooms
Fein also commented on a program proposed by the Federal Communications Commission – also withdrawn in the face of public opposition – that would embed investigators in every television newsroom to determine how reporters decide what stories to feature on their broadcasts.

That kind of activity by the FCC, he said, “It is an outrage. We would expect that in Russia or China or maybe in Belarus.”

The FCC's proposal, he said, violates the understanding that “the government never has a right to impair anyone's privacy -- to look at anything that Americans are doing – unless they have, at the outset, some plausible basis to think wrongdoing is underway.”

In a republic, Fein said, “the people censure the government; the government does not censure the people.”

He concluded the interview by quoting Thomas Jefferson, who said: “When the government fears the people, you have liberty. When the people fear the government, you have tyranny.”

Unfortunately, Fein asserted, “we are approaching the latter, unless we change that trajectory very quickly.”

Bruce Fein also appeared on WCHV-FM's “Inside Charlottesville” with Coy Barefoot on the same evening he spoke at Barnes & Noble.

SUGGESTED LINKS

Rutherford Institute asks local lawmakers to speak out against drones
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Charlottesville entrepreneur Paul Jones sells non-lethal self-defense products

Original URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/attorney-bruce-fein-discusses-nsa-lawsuit-dhs-spying-and-fcc-intrusions




Saturday, August 27, 2016

From the Archives: Immigration laws may make United States poorer, says economist Daniel Lin

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on February 22, 2014. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Immigration laws may make United States poorer, says economist Daniel Lin

America is, “on average, poorer” because immigration laws limit the number of willing workers who can come to the United States and offer their services to willing employers.

That was one of the points made by economist Daniel Lin during an interview with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner after he delivered a lecture at the University of Virginia on the topic, "Who Wins? Who Loses? The Economic Effects of Immigration."

Educated at UCLA and George Mason University, Lin teaches economics at American University, where his research interests include the industrial organization of entertainment industries, the theory of the firm, and the antitrust implications of various theories of competition. His lecture at UVA was sponsored by Young Americans for Liberty and the Institute for Humane Studies.

“Most of the discussion about whether we should allow more immigrants” into the United States, Lin said in the interview, focuses on the question, “Is the increase in well-being that we see for the immigrants, is that enough to justify the fact that Americans suffer?”

'Foreigners benefit us'
Even if you don't “say that foreigners are worth just as much as Americans,” he continued, “you can say that we should focus on Americans first.”

Still, Lin added, “what this discussion is missing is: Do we really know what's happening to Americans? And are we really paying attention to how much foreigners benefit us when they come here?”

The purpose of his lecture, he said, was to point out how “we're not really sure about either of those things. It turns out the effects on Americans, when we allow more foreigners, are not conclusively negative.”

Some “respectable economists,” he explained, argue that “when we allow more foreigners in, it allows more Americans to specialize in higher-wage jobs, to do more,” and the wages of Americans “go up.”

Complementing Americans
Part of the reason for this is complementarity, meaning that immigrants do jobs that free up Americans to do other jobs, often jobs that pay higher wages and are more productive.

“When we see workers coming in,” Lin explained, “we often think that they directly compete with all Americans, but that's not quite correct. When new workers come into this country, they are also complements to American workers.”

He offered the example of someone who is a programmer or a scientist.

“If you have that person mow his own lawn, or cook his own food, or make his own clothes, he's going to have to take time away from being a scientist [or] being a programmer,” he said.

If, instead, someone else performs those tasks, the American “can focus more time on being a scientist, being a programmer, and do more work, be more productive,” Lin explained. “The helper is not a direct competitor to the scientist or the programmer or the teacher or researcher, whatever.”

The immigrant is instead “a complement, who makes that person [the American] better off. That is why you don't see people who are hiring nannies or gardeners recoiling when they do that. They're not forced to do those things. They want to do those things. It's the laws that are trying to prevent those things from happening.”

The people “who are doing the hiring and the people who are doing the working,” Lin pointed out “both benefit when they are allowed to contract with each other.”

Making Americans poorer
Having laws that impede immigration into the United States makes everybody poorer, he explained.

“The current laws allow foreigners to come in but it is a trickle compared to the number of people who want to come in and the number of people who Americans want to hire,” Lin said.

“If you look at the waiting list for visas” for people who want to work in the United States, which are often multiple-years long, Lin said, “we certainly can conclude that America is, on average, poorer because we block these types of contracts from happening – these exchanges from happening.”

When people who want to work in the United States “are being prevented from coming here and the Americans who would benefit from having these extra workers are not allowed to have those benefits,” he argued, “we certainly do see Americans on the whole being poorer than otherwise they would be.”

The stereotype that immigrants are hard-working and ambitious is “rooted in truth,” Lin said, because of “selection bias” that comes from people who are “willing to overcome the cultural differences, the language differences, moving apart from [their] home town [and] family,” in order to come here to work, as well as who are “willing to put up with a lot of bureaucracy” to get that “golden ticket” permitting them to work in the United States.

SUGGESTED LINKS

Charlottesville entrepreneur Paul Jones sells non-lethal self-defense products
What is the DREAM Act, and why is it important? A conversation with Claire GastaƱaga
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James Robinson discusses 'why nations fail' at George Mason University

Original URL:  http://www.examiner.com/article/immigration-laws-may-make-united-states-poorer-says-economist-daniel-lin

Friday, August 26, 2016

From the Archives: GOP can regain control of Senate in 2014, says strategist Grover Norquist

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on March 9, 2014. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

GOP can regain control of Senate in 2014, says strategist Grover Norquist

Republicans can regain a majority in the U.S. Senate in the 2014 general election and even Virginia Democrat Mark Warner is vulnerable, said strategist Grover Norquist in an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which ended its three-day run on March 8 in suburban Washington, D.C.

Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and author of Leave Us Alone: America's New Governing Majority, told the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner that he was encouraged by the CPAC turnout of more than 11,000 participants, including “a majority of people under 25,” which he characterized as “extremely, extremely healthy.”

'Dull roar'
In contrast to past years, he said, “the whining is down to a dull roar.” In terms of content – speeches and panel discussions – “we've really covered a whole host of broad center-right issues.”

Overall, Norquist said, "I'm pleased, I'm happy. It's going well. People are excited. We've got all these Senate races and the candidates are being highlighted, so it's good stuff.”

With regard to the prospects of the Republican Party taking control of the U.S. Senate this year, Norquist is optimistic.

Gaining a GOP majority is “more likely than not,” he said.

Republicans “need to pick up six for control. There are seven that look very, very good.”

The likely pick-ups are in “overwhelmingly Republican states with weak” Democrats holding those Senate seats, and there are “competent Republicans running."

Seven probable pick-ups
Norquist ticked off the names of the seven states: “Alaska, South Dakota, Montana, West Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Arkansas.”

In each of those seven, he said, there is “a fine candidate who's been nominated or will be nominated” and in “each of them, the Democrat is not as strong as they might like.”

All those states, he added, were won by Mitt Romney in 2012 with a margin of more than ten percent, and they have all been trending Republican “where our guys are pulling ahead.”

In addition to those likely seven pickups, Norquist continued, “you have a series of states like Michigan, where all polls have the Republican candidate ahead.”

He also mentioned New Hampshire, “where the Republicans have a real shot” and Iowa, “where you have to decide who the Republican [nominee] is but they all poll OK against” the Democrats' candidate.

In Iowa, he averred, “I suppose it's possible to nominate the guy who could lose” but in Colorado, “we have a weak Democrat and a [Republican] congressman who wasn't going to get in” has now entered the race, “clearing the field – so Colorado is in play with every reason to think we could win that one.”

Worrisome Georgia and Kentucky
There are two Republican-held seats to worry about, however.

First is Georgia, “because if you nominate the wrong guy, you could lose that, but there's a runoff, so I don't think they will nominate the wrong guy.”

The other is Kentucky, “where some people think [Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell should have passed a bunch of laws with 45 Republicans because they haven't learned to count.”

Instead, “they think it's because he's a liberal that he hasn't been able to beat the guy [Majority Leader Harry Reid] with 55 votes with [McConnell's] 45 votes. There are many things, perhaps, to criticize Mitch McConnell on. Not being able to win votes in the U.S. Senate with 45 [Republicans] is not one of those things you can fairly whine about.”

Still, Norquist cautioned, McConnell has “been damaged by his challenger in the primary. I'd keep an eye on that seat but I think Republicans should be able to take the Senate.”

Virginia's vulnerable Warner
Even in Virginia, where popular former Governor Mark Warner is seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate this year, Norquist sees reason for Republicans to be hopeful.

Warner is vulnerable, he said, basing his assessment on having spoken with the incumbent Senator at a recent event in Washington.

“I ran into Mark Warner at a party the other day and, he said, [he] wasn't in Davos” for the annual global economics conference because Republican challenger Ed Gillespie is running for office.

“'So I'm here,'” Norquist quoted Senator Warner.

Gillespie, who has three rivals for the GOP nomination (Tony DeTora, Shak Hill, and Chuck Moss) “is a competent candidate,” he explained. “He can raise money. He's uniting the party.”

Norquist concluded that, “with any sort of a good Republican year,” Virginia has “a Senate seat that Gillespie could win and Mark Warner could lose.”

Warner will face Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis in the November election, as well as the eventual Republican nominee, who will be chosen at a convention in Roanoke on June 7.

The full audio interview with Grover Norquist will be available soon on Bearing Drift radio, The Score.

SUGGESTED LINKS

Grover Norquist surveys the 2012 political and legislative landscape
Grover Norquist discusses congressional government and GOP candidates
LNC executive director Wes Benedict takes Libertarian message to CPAC
GOProud’s Jimmy LaSalvia talks about CPAC and gay conservatives
'Proselytizing for freedom,' Robert Sarvis bids for U.S. Senate in Virginia

Original URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/gop-can-regain-control-of-senate-2014-says-strategist-grover-norquist


Thursday, August 25, 2016

From the Archives: Former U.S. ambassador to Vatican talks diplomacy at Virginia book festival

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on March 19, 2014. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Former U.S. ambassador to Vatican talks diplomacy at Virginia book festival

Ambassador Francis Rooney came to Charlottesville on March 19 to speak about his recent book, The Global Vatican: An Inside Look at the Catholic Church, World Politics, and the Extraordinary Relationship between the United States and the Holy See. The occasion was a panel on “The United States in the World” at the twentieth annual Virginia Festival of the Book.

Rooney, who was President George W. Bush's envoy to the Holy See, participated in the discussion along with University of Virginia political scientist James Ceaser, University of Mary Washington professor Stephen Farnsworth, and Stanford University historian Robert Rakove. The panel was moderated by Sorensen Institute executive director Bob Gibson.

After the panel ended, Ambassador Rooney spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner about his book and about the Vatican's politics and diplomacy.

Pope and Congress
First, he commented on the invitation issued by Speaker of the House John Boehner, asking Pope Francis to address a joint meeting of Congress in 2015.

“Speaker Boehner,” he said, “is a devout Catholic and values the role the Holy See plays in the world.”

The idea of inviting the Pope to the U.S. Capitol “reflects the importance of Holy See diplomacy and the importance of the relationship with the United States,” Rooney noted. “It's never happened before” but it also “offers an interesting opportunity.”

Rooney said he would be surprised if Pope Francis accepts the invitation but the gesture itself demonstrates “the importance of Holy See diplomacy” to U.S. policymakers.

He added that there is a convergence of interests and values between Washington and the Vatican.

For instance, he said, the “principles of Holy See diplomacy apply to all persons.” These include “fundamental respect for human dignity, nurture of freedoms, especially religious freedom, and [seeking] to promote the natural rights of man.”

Human intelligence
Rooney also pointed out how the Vatican also is the locus of a worldwide human intelligence network, something that may be unparalleled elsewhere. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, he recalled, said the Catholic Church has “one of the greatest information gathering networks in the world.”

“One of the unique aspects of the Holy See is their global network of priests, nuns, NGOs. We get so much information from them,” he said, adding that there are “millions of vignettes of Holy See information surprising the United States in its, in what they've been able to find out.”

He gave the example of when Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, then the Vatican Secretary of State, visited President George H.W. Bush in the Oval Office.

When the meeting took place, Rooney said, Casaroli had just been told by some nuns “about a bridge being blown up in Lebanon.” This was pertinent because the United States and the Holy See had been working together to unify Lebanese Christians. Bush and Casaroli looked at a map together, with the cardinal pointing out where the missing bridge had been located.

The president was unaware of this information, so he called the CIA, which also had not learned about it. “How do they know that?,” the CIA asked.

'Holy See in action'
In writing his book, Rooney said, he “tried to minimize the memoir part. People's interests in ambassadorial memoirs are fairly circumscribed and, I think, justly so.”

Instead of focusing on himself, he “tried to put in the things that show the Holy See in action,” especially instances of “the Holy See and the United States working together.”

While doing research for his book, he learned “about the incredible ability of the Holy See to do good in the world diplomatically and how important this charge is,” as well as how much the United States and the Vatican have in common in terms of their foreign policy aims.

In addition, he said, prior to his experience as a diplomat and as a writer examining diplomacy, “I didn't fully appreciate the First Amendment, I didn't fully appreciate our unique concept of citizenship in the United States, until I saw how other countries work, especially European ones.”

Vatican II
Rooney also commented about how the articulation of ecumenism by the Second Vatican Council affected the Holy See's diplomacy, both positively and negatively.

Vatican II, he said, “brought it into the modern world. It would be pretty hard” for Vatican diplomats “to be taken seriously nowadays without Dignitatis Humanae and Nostra Aetate,” two key documents of the council.

“On the other hand,” he continued, there have been “three existential threats to Holy See diplomacy: one was Napoleon, one was the unification of Italy, and the third one was Vatican II – because a lot of priests wanted to turn inward and get out of the diplomatic business.”

They wanted to “have nuncios focus on recruiting bishops and appointing bishops” rather than on diplomacy, but Pope Paul VI, a graduate of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, (the Vatican's school for training diplomats) said that the Church has “an important role to play in the world.” Pope Paul, he asserted, “saved the diplomatic mission, if you will, of the Holy See.”

Ukraine and Russia
Finally, Rooney answered a question about the current dispute between largely-Catholic Ukraine and mostly-Orthodox Russia.

The situation there, he said, does not stem from religious differences but rather from geopolitics.

“It's Obama's weakness and the fact that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, in some ways, even had President Bush's number – but he for sure has Obama's number.”

President Obama, he said, “has brought [Putin] to a point where he feels he can take actions which are against international law” without fear of serious reprisal.

The complete audio version of this interview will soon be available on Bearing Drift radio, "The Score."

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Original URL:  http://www.examiner.com/article/former-u-s-ambassador-to-vatican-talks-diplomacy-at-virginia-book-festival


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

From the Archives: UVA political scientist analyzes 2012 election, looks toward 2016 GOP nominee

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on March 19, 2014. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

UVA political scientist analyzes 2012 election, looks toward 2016 GOP nominee

James Ceaser teaches politics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and is co-author (with Andrew Busch and John J. Pitney, Jr.) of the recent book, After Hope and Change: The 2012 Elections and American Politics.

Ceaser spoke about After Hope and Change at the 2014 Virginia Festival of the Book on March 19, participating in a panel discussion on “The United States in the World” with political scientist Stephen Farnsworth, historian Robert Rakove, and former ambassador Francis Rooney. The panel was moderated by Bob Gibson, a former political reporter with The Daily Progress.

After the panel, Professor Ceaser answered questions from the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner about lessons learned in the 2012 presidential campaign, the outlook for factional divisions in the Republican Party, and who the GOP presidential nominee might be in 2016.

'A different era'
In summing up his book, he explained that “After Hope and Change makes a comparison between the 2008 election, where 'hope and change' was the theme, where enthusiasm and uplift accompanied Obama's election, and 2012, which was kind of a letdown, [with] no inspiring theme [and] little enthusiasm.”

Those differences, he said, were recognized “by the Obama people themselves. They were contentious to win but” they knew that the electorate "had moved into a different era.”

The defining figure “was no longer the Obama of 2008,” Ceaser explained. “It was Obama elected in 2012 as a politician, not a cultural or moral leader of the whole world.”

One of the lessons learned from the 2012 election is that “the Democratic Party, as a base, has a slight advantage over the Republican Party,” he said. “I think that was confirmed. The Republicans went in thinking this was an election they could and should win, and they lost it.”

Swingers
Ceaser cautioned, however, that there is “still enough of a swing group in the American population that any election can swing to either party, given how people process the events under which they live. We may be seeing in 2014 a swing back to the Republicans. Who knows what will happen in 2016?”

What 2012 teaches us, he noted, is that the Democratic base has a slight advantage over the GOP but “enough people who still swing to make every election a struggle, the outcome of which is unknown.”

Divided Republicans
Factional differences between libertarians and social conservatives have been “part of the Republican Party for a long time,” Ceaser pointed out. “It all goes under the label of conservative, but you pick up the hood and you see that conservatism means different things to different people – hence conflict.”

This has historically “been the way things are,” he said, “but basically the Republicans have been able to come together sufficiently because of their opposition to the Democratic project to hang together, more or less.”

He warned, however, that people should not “expect the Republican party to be holding hands as various pieces are opposed on many issues.”

He pointed out that “perhaps the greatest division within the Republican party has been on foreign affairs,” and that it is significant that “the libertarian position [is] closer to a sort of softer isolationism than the rest of the party.”

GOP's 2016 nominee
Within this context, Ceaser has some general predictions about what to expect during the 2016 GOP presidential nomination contest.

“The libertarian candidate will do well, that is, maybe even have a plurality over a spread field but in the end will not have enough support to achieve the nomination, he said.

Ceaser said the 2016 candidate will not be someone who “will be very surprising,” but rather will be someone like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, or Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

The nominee, he predicted, will be “someone who has some elements of respect for libertarians but is not himself libertarian.”

What about Rand Paul?
If Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is a candidate, he added, “he'll do quite well.”

Expressing some admiration for Paul's political skills, Ceaser offered that “it's one of the more amazing stories of American politics: This young senator from Kentucky, whose father was regarded in many ways as an extremist, [yet] Rand Paul has been able to take this movement and make it into something a lot larger in a very short period of time and acquire status as a significant player in the Republican party.”

Rand Paul, he concluded, is a “potential very strong candidate, even though I don't think he'll be over the top in 2016.”

The complete audio version of this interview will soon be available as a podcast on Bearing Drift radio, “The Score.”

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Attorney Bruce Fein discusses NSA lawsuit, DHS spying, and FCC intrusions

Original URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/uva-political-scientist-analyzes-2012-election-looks-toward-2016-gop-nominee



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

From the Archives: First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams talks about free speech in Charlottesville

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on March 22, 2014. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams talks about free speech in Charlottesville

Floyd Abrams, an attorney who has argued for freedom of speech and freedom of the press before the U.S. Supreme Court in cases such as Citizens United and New York Times v. United States (the “Pentagon Papers”), came to Charlottesville on March 22 to speak at the Virginia Festival of the Book.

In a panel ostensibly about Abrams' recent book, Friend of the Court: On the Front Lines with the First Amendment, he was quizzed by Ronald L.K. Collins, author of Nuanced Absolutism: Floyd Abrams and the First Amendment, and audience members. Josh Wheeler, director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, hosted the panel, which was held in the Charlottesville City Council chambers.

After he had autographed copies of his book for admiring readers, Abrams answered a few questions posed by the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner.

ACLU evolution
One concern of his is the evolution of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) towards a position that often seems at odds with free speech rather than in favor of it.

The ACLU, he said “is becoming more of a liberal organization – more of a progressive organization – than a free-speech protective one.”

That is not to say, he explained, “that they would not protect, on the face of it, the right of some conservatives who were thrown in jail for speech; they would.”

In “hard areas” such as campaign finance law, however, he said that the ACLU is “too willing to give up speech for what they consider to be other social benefits. I think that they hurt themselves as an institution and limit themselves in terms of serving as a protector of the public when they do so.”

Minority protection
Related to that, Abrams indicated that he agrees with the premise of Jonathan Rauch's book, Kindly Inquisitors (which he said he has not read), that posits that members of minority groups are better off in a robust free-speech regime than in a regime that limits speech for the purpose of protecting those same groups.

Minority groups, Abrams said, or “people who are weaker than stronger are the people who generally benefit the most from living in a free society and a society in which speech is free.”

While that may not satisfy “people who say, 'but we have some people with more power than other people because of their money,'” he argued that “anytime we cut back significantly on speech, the people who tend to get hurt most, if not first, are people without rather than with power.”

Tillman Act
With regard to campaign finance law, Abrams offered some thoughts on the Tillman Act of 1907, one of the first such laws. The Tillman Act, which banned corporate contributions to federal campaigns, has been criticized by Justice Clarence Thomas, who told Stetson University law students in 2010 that Senator Benjamin Tillman “was from South Carolina, and as I hear the story he was concerned that the corporations, Republican corporations, were favorable toward blacks and he felt that there was a need to regulate them.”

Abrams said the Tillman Act had “conflicting” aims.

“One was to limit corporate power and corporate control,” but, he added, “the Tillman Act also had significant racist aspects to it,” although it was “basically a reform piece of legislation designed to crack down on corporations.”

Lane v. Franks
Finally, Abrams talked about a free-speech case he is following that he expects to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“There's one I'm watching very closely,” he said, and he has filed a brief in it, “which is a follow-up to the Garcetti case of a few years ago [Garcetti v. Cebalos, 2006], which basically said, if you work for the government, and you're doing something within the course of your governmental duties, they can fire you for any reason, including your speech.”

The current case, Lane v. Franks, he explained, involves a former government employee in Alabama, who observed a politically-connected person who was being paid for a government job that he did not actually do, and “who revealed the fact that the other person was essentially acting criminally. The other person was convicted, jailed, fined $160,000, and they fired the guy who turned him in.”

According to the First Amendment Coalition, which filed Abrams' brief in the case, Lane v. Franks “tests the limits of the categorical, on-off rule of constitutional interpretation that was applied in Garcetti. We think (hope) that the Court chose to review the Lane v. Franks case to reverse the appeals court and clarify the Garcetti decision in a way that permits First Amendment protection for true speech by government employees, at least in circumstances where the speech serves a public or governmental interest.”

The question raised by this case, Abrams noted in Charlottesville, is this: “Is that really consistent with the First Amendment? Is it really consistent to say that when you tell the truth in court, you can be fired for that? I don't think the Supreme Court is going to say that, but that's one case I'm watching.”

The complete audio recording of this interview with Floyd Abrams will soon be available as a podcast on Bearing Drift radio, "The Score."

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Original URL:  http://www.examiner.com/article/first-amendment-attorney-floyd-abrams-talks-about-free-speech-charlottesville


Monday, August 22, 2016

From the Archives: Stephen Jimenez discusses Matthew Shepard's murder at Virginia book festival

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on April 1, 2014. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Stephen Jimenez discusses Matthew Shepard's murder at Virginia book festival

Investigative journalist Stephen Jimenez discussed his 2013 book, The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard, in Charlottesville on March 20 at the Virginia Festival of the Book. Jimenez participated in a panel called “Shifting Identities” at the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library.

In The Book of Matt, Jimenez explores alternative explanations for the 1998 beating and murder of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, which at the time was thought to be an unprovoked gay bashing and hate crime.

Shepard's murderers were convicted of second degree murder but not a hate crime. Jimenez looks into a seedy underworld connection between Shepard and one of his convicted killers, Aaron McKinney. Based on his research, Jimenez posits that both Shepard and McKinney were involved in the crystal meth trade in Colorado and Wyoming and disputes the notion that anti-gay animus motivated McKinney and Russell Henderson, who also was convicted of Shepard's killing.

Disrupting the narrative
After the panel, the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner interviewed Stephen Jimenez about his research and conclusions.

When the author began working on this story, he had no plans to disrupt the narrative of Matthew Shepard's murder as an anti-gay hate crime.

Almost 15 years ago, Jimenez traveled to Laramie, Wyoming, to write a TV movie about the Shepard murder, spending eight months working on a screenplay that ultimately went unproduced.

At the time, he “believed that the story of this anti-gay murder was really very important and deserved the long form of the television movie but” just as he thought his research for the screenplay was finished, he “started to realize there were other things going on around this crime.”

After extensive interviews with Cal Rerucha, the principal prosecutor of the Shepard case, “I felt I really wanted to look deeper. I also felt – as a gay man as I got into some of the methamphetamine side of the story, as someone who's a survivor of the AIDS era – that methamphetamine was becoming a very, very big problem in urban gay enclaves but also it was moving through a substantial part of the country: through the Midwest, through states like Missouri and Kansas and Iowa and then, in the West, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming. When I realized what methamphetamine was doing, I felt it was critical to tell that part of the story that had been largely excluded.”

'Drug laws have failed'
Asked whether his findings had implications for the wider debate about drug prohibition, Jimenez replied that “I'm quite libertarian when it comes to drugs.”

He explained that he believes that “drug laws have failed miserably” and that there is “a lot of organized crime” involved in the war on drugs.

“It's not by accident,” he added, “that some very vulnerable communities have been set up” as markets for methamphetamine.

“Meth has been a problem on native American reservations,” Jimenez said. “Meth has been a problem in the gay community. Meth has been a problem in economically depressed towns, communities across the country.”

His purpose in writing The Book of Matt, he explained, was to show how “the issues in this case are full of human complexities. Matthew was a human being. The perpetrators were human beings.”

He said “it behooves all of us to understand those complexities if we're serious about dealing with the many different manifestations of violence and hatred in our culture and in the world at large.”

Resistance and acceptance
Although there has been some resistance to his alternative theory of the Shepard murder – which upends the accepted narrative similar to the way Dale Carpenter's book, Flagrant Conduct, changed the accepted story of Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 Supreme Court case that resulted in overturning sodomy laws in the United States – Jimenez said that reception of his book has generally been positive.

“I just completed a 34 city tour” in which “city number 33 was Laramie, Wyoming. I spoke to a packed theater there on a night when it was 10 below zero. A few hundred people came out.”

There were many comments and questions at that Laramie appearance, he said, but “not one person stood up and disputed my findings.”

While he was touring the country, Jimenez said he encountered “minuscule resistance to what's in the book. In fact,” he added, “it only happened at one book store in Washington, D.C., but everywhere else I spoke in the country, people were very open to the findings of the book.”

Since The Book of Matt began as a movie project, it should come as no surprise that “there have been some initial inquiries” adapting it into a film. While Jimenez has not done anything to pursue that possibility yet, because he's working on other projects, “maybe, with the passage of time, a movie can be made,” he said.

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Original URL:  http://www.examiner.com/article/stephen-jimenez-discusses-matthew-shepard-s-murder-at-virginia-book-festival

Sunday, August 21, 2016

From the Archives: Craig Shirley recalls events at the start of World War II in 'December 1941'

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on May 24, 2014. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Craig Shirley recalls events at the start of World War II in 'December 1941'

Memorial Day weekend seems an appropriate time to revisit Craig Shirley's 2011 book, December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World, a day-by-day account of what happened in the month that the United States joined the effort to defeat the Axis Powers in the Second World War.

Shirley spoke about his book at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville earlier this year. After his presentation, I asked the author about the genesis of the book and what he learned while researching the history of the early days of World War II in the United States.

Family inspiration
The idea for writing the book came from his family, he said.

When he was growing up in upstate New York, around the dining room table he heard “the stories about all the things that were going on with the Victory Gardens and the oleo[margarine] and the fake coffee and food shortages and all the sacrifices the American civilians made” during the war.

Moreover, he explained, his uncle had enlisted and, “was shot down and killed in the Pacific.”

Shirley's family had a tradition of military service going back to the American Revolution.

Two of his ancestors fought at Breed's Hill and Bunker Hill in Boston. Another ancestor “was with Washington all the way from 1775 to 1783. He was at Valley Forge, he contracted small pox there and lost an eye.”

That same great-grandfather fought at Monmouth, Boston, and Trenton. “He was in a number of battles under Washington's command. He was just a militiaman, one of the regular army from Connecticut. I don't think he achieved any rank.”

While his family members served in the military, Shirley said, “I wanted to do something from the standpoint of the civilians and how they were affected by the events of December 7.”

Deep and broad research
To research the material that ended up in the book, Shirley explained he “cast as wide a net as possible. We went to all the Roosevelt materials and uncovered documents that hadn't been reported on previously. We went through [Secretary of War] Henry Stimson's papers at Yale, we went through [Secretary of State] Cordell Hull's papers.”

Shirley and his research team also explored “Eleanor Roosevelt's papers and diaries, all the White House documents we could get our hands on, all the War Department” documents that were available.

“On top of all that,” he said, he looked at memos, diaries, and “thousands and thousands of newspaper articles” as well as “shortwave dispatches because at the time, CBS and NBC both had shortwave commercial broadcast stations and so the transcripts of those shortwave broadcasts” are archived.

Newspapers were a particularly rich source of information.

“There were some reporters and columnists who were just terrific and I like to use their material. It's interesting that there probably wasn't a newspaper reporter in 1941 who wasn't an excellent writer. They were all very good writers.”

In 1941, there were about 2,000 daily newspapers across the country, Shirley explained, compared to about 500 today. New York City had nearly 20 daily newspapers, he said, “including ethnic papers, [like] Polish papers. Washington, I think, had seven daily newspapers at the time.”

'Great man theory'
What surprised Shirley in the course of his research was “coming to the conclusion that Franklin Roosevelt was a better man than I thought he was. I am a political conservative, but I am also a historian and I have to look at things objectively.”

The New Deal, he asserted, “in terms from the standpoint of turning the economy around, was a failure [but] it did help the morale of the American people, there's no doubt about that.”

There is also no doubt, he added that, “without Winston Churchill [and] without Franklin Roosevelt, Adolph Hitler and the empire of Japan would have ruled the known world.

Churchill and Roosevelt, he concluded, “really are part of what Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish historian, postulated as the great man theory of history, and these truly were great men.”

Craig Shirley is also the author of Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America (2011) and Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All (2005). December 1941 has now been published in paperback and Kindle editions.

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Historian Arthur Herman explores America’s World War II industrial effort

Original URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/craig-shirley-recalls-events-at-the-start-of-world-war-ii-december-1941



Saturday, August 20, 2016

From the Archives: Morgan Griffith, Robert Hurt vote against Rohrabacher amendment on medicinal pot

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on May 30, 2014. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Morgan Griffith, Robert Hurt vote against Rohrabacher amendment on medicinal pot

Early in the morning of May 30, the House of Representatives voted to approve an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015 (HR 4660) that has the effect of prohibiting the federal government from interfering in the production or distribution of medical marijuana in those states that have legalized it.

Introduced by Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-California), the amendment passed on a vote of 219-189, with 49 Republicans and 170 Democrats voting in favor of it. It was the first time the House had voted on a bill related to this topic since 1998.

Virginia Members vote 'no'

Among the members of the Virginia delegation, Representatives Rob Wittman (R-VA1), J. Randy Forbes (R-VA4), Robert Hurt (R-VA5), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA6), Eric Cantor (R-VA7), Morgan Griffith (R-VA9), and Frank Wolf (R-VA10) voted no, while Representatives Scott Rigell (R-VA2), Bobby Scott (D-VA3), Jim Moran (D-VA8), and Gerald Connolly (D-VA11) voted yes.

Morgan Griffith's “no” vote came as something of a surprise, since he has introduced legislation similar to the Rohrabacher amendment. In April, Griffith submitted HR 4498, the ``Legitimate Use of Medicinal Marijuana Act'' or the ``LUMMA''. The bill would restrict the federal government from applying the Controlled Substances Act (as it relates to cannabis) in states that have legalized the medicinal use of marijuana.

Robert Hurt's “no” vote was not as surprising, although in an exclusive interview with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner before the Rohrabacher amendment came to the floor, the Fifth District congressman said he was open to the concept.

Hurt explains his position on cannabis
Speaking specifically about Griffith's bill, Hurt told Examiner.com that “I think that the case that [Griffith] makes is very compelling.”

Hurt explained that “it's not good when the government gets between patients and their physicians,” such as when doctors “diagnose chronic and significant pain, nausea, and other issues that could be ameliorated by this treatment.”

The policy change envisioned by Griffith's bill, he said, is “something that we ought to look at and, as Morgan points out, the Virginia law [on medical marijuana] would allow for this if there was no federal ban.”

(Former Delegate Harvey Morgan, a Republican from Gloucester, sought to clarify and strengthen Virginia's medical marijuana statute several years ago.)

Hurt was careful to note that, although he has “the highest amount of respect” for Congressman Griffith, “it's important to just point out that I am not, and never have been, in favor of legalizing marijuana. I don't think it should be legalized.”

The Chatham Republican added, with regard to legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington state, “that those states that have done that in the West, I fear they're going to be sorry that they've done that [and] gone down that road.”

Hurt said he has not yet taken a position on Griffith's medical pot bill, but he is looking at it carefully.

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Original URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/morgan-griffith-robert-hurt-vote-against-rohrabacher-amendment-on-medicinal-pot


Friday, August 19, 2016

From the Archives: GOP Senate hopeful Tony DeTora favors marijuana law reform, opposes Mark Warner

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on June 2, 2014. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

GOP Senate hopeful Tony DeTora favors marijuana law reform, opposes Mark Warner

Stafford County resident Tony DeTora is one of four candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Virginia. On Saturday, June 7, the state GOP convention in Roanoke will select a candidate to challenge incumbent Senator Mark Warner (D-Alexandria) from a list of competitors that also includes Ed Gillespie, Shak Hill, and Chuck Moss.

DeTora spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner last month on the sidelines of the Fifth District Republican Convention at Hampden-Sydney College near Farmville. The interview began with a look at Warner's vulnerabilities as he runs for re-election in November.

“If you look at the perception of Governor Mark Warner,” DeTora said, “and you compare that to the record of Senator Mark Warner, they're two different people.”

That, he said, is “a huge vulnerability.”

'Not the right guy'
Republicans “need to point that out as we approach November [because] that opens the door for us to get in there [as] some people still really, personally like him. They need to be convinced that maybe he's not the right guy for us in Washington.”

DeTora explained that in his “day job,” he is a senior policy analyst on the staff of Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-California). Rohrabacher recently submitted a successful amendment to an appropriations bill that would have the effect of prohibiting the federal government from interfering with medical marijuana providers in states that have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Since DeTora works for Rohrabacher, what does he think of efforts to reform marijuana laws?

“I don't think we should be restricting people's freedom,” he said, “without a clear constitutional reason to do so, so I'm supportive of the things he's trying to do.”

Working the system
DeTora's experience on Capitol Hill is one of the key assets he claims to bring with him into the Senate race.

“I also understand the politics and the games and how that works,” he asserted. “I understand how to work the system as well. I'm the only candidate in the race who understands all of that, has all that experience, and wants to go to Washington not to play the games better but to undo them.”

The first-time candidate also believes he can appeal to libertarian voters in the general election.

“Libertarians are going to absolutely be interested in my message. Most of this campaign is going to be about economics because the state of the economy is in a shambles. Obamacare is hurting that. Pushes for increases in the minimum wage is hurting that. All of these things are just compounding so my fiscally conservative message will resonate with libertarians,” he said.

Noting that Libertarian Party candidate Robert Sarvis will be running for the U.S. Senate this year, DeTora said that while Libertarians are “interested in getting the Libertarian Party a permanent spot on the ballot, they also don't want to send Mark Warner back to Washington to represent Virginia, so we can appeal to them that way.”

Taking the long view, DeTora explained he got into the Senate race for the sake of his two-year-old daughter.

“I'm concerned about her future,” he concluded. “We want to male sure that we secure the blessings of liberty not only for ourselves but for our posterity, as they write in the founding documents. I'm concerned that as we approach her future, that America won't be the great nation it still is.”

A podcast of this interview with Tony DeTora can be heard on Bearing Drift's "The Score."

SUGGESTED LINKS

Morgan Griffith, Robert Hurt vote against Rohrabacher amendment on medicinal pot
'Proselytizing for freedom,' Robert Sarvis bids for U.S. Senate in Virginia
GOP Senate candidate Shak Hill thinks government is 'overreaching'
Virginia Senator Mark Warner discusses budget issues, independent voters
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor explains GOP's appeal to libertarian voters

Original URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/gop-senate-hopeful-tony-detora-favors-marijuana-law-reform-opposes-mark-warner




Thursday, August 18, 2016

From the Archives: GOP Senate candidate Chuck Moss emphasizes technology issues, outsider status

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on June 5, 2014. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

GOP Senate candidate Chuck Moss emphasizes technology issues, outsider status

Virginia Republicans will meet in Roanoke on Saturday, June 7, to pick a candidate for the U.S. Senate to run in the November election against incumbent Democrat Mark Warner.

Four men are seeking the GOP nomination: Tony DeTora, Ed Gillespie, Shak Hill, and Chuck Moss.

Moss is a Northern Virginia small business owner and engineer. He spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner on the sidelines of the Fifth Congressional District Republican convention at Hampden-Sydney College last month.

Moss said he was motivated to run for the U.S. Senate nomination because he saw a lack of skills and perspectives on Capitol Hill. Specifically, he explained, there need to be more people in Congress who “understand the technology that's becoming more of an issue within national security, the economy, privacy, things like that.”

DMCA, SOPA, PIPA
He noted that technology issues are underestimated and underreported, deserving more attention from policymakers.

“In terms of technology, we need to understand what we're doing and make sure we're not undermining our large industries at the behest of special interests such as Hollywood,” Moss said.

Among legislation “that's frustrated me over the years,” Moss singled out the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and noted that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) “had a big uproar,” yet problems in those bills recur within other pieces of legislation.

For example, he said, “right now we're looking at the Trans Pacific Partnership that's being negotiated in secret, ostensibly because of national security concerns. They're trying to fast-track that legislation and a lot of those issues that have been beaten down in the past keep coming back up in various ways. We need to keep an eye on that and not cede the control of Congress to an up-or-down vote on fast-tracking.”

Warner's Vulnerabilities
In terms of the vulnerabilities of his potential opponent, Mark Warner, Moss said that “Obamacare gives us a strong tailwind but I think we need to have a positive message as well.”

Warner, he said, is burdened by having had “a career in Washington both before and after running for office. I think we can make the argument very successfully that we need something different, that the challenges we're facing within the country are too big and too urgent to leave it to career politicians and Washington insiders.”

In terms of appealing to libertarian-minded voters, Moss said “I try not to pigeonhole myself too much, but I have described myself as a fiscal conservative with a libertarian slant. If you look at the Republican Creed and we focus on – and make clear that we support – fiscal responsibility and personal liberty, that has broad appeal that transcends party.”

In Virginia, he explained, the electorate is “very closely, evenly divided” among Republicans, Democrats, and “unaffiliated independents.”

Republican candidates, he said, “need to be able to talk to those people, the swing voters, and make sure our message of fiscal responsibility and personal freedom, if presented well, resonates and transcends party. We need to reach out to people with that consistent message and make the case that we will not only talk about it when running but stand for it when elected.”

A podcast of this interview with GOP Senate candidate Chuck Moss can be heard on Bearing Drift's “The Score.”

SUGGESTED LINKS

GOP Senate candidate Shak Hill thinks government is 'overreaching'
GOP Senate hopeful Tony DeTora favors marijuana law reform, opposes Mark Warner
'Proselytizing for freedom,' Robert Sarvis bids for U.S. Senate in Virginia
Virginia Senator Mark Warner discusses budget issues, independent voters
Morgan Griffith, Robert Hurt vote against Rohrabacher amendment on medicinal pot

Original URL: http://www.examiner.com/article/gop-senate-candidate-chuck-moss-emphasizes-technology-issues-outsider-status

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

From the Archives: GOP Senate candidate Ed Gillespie sees 'energized, excited' party activists

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com on June 5, 2014. The Examiner.com publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to Examiner.com since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

GOP Senate candidate Ed Gillespie sees 'energized, excited' party activists

Former national and state Republican chairman Ed Gillespie is one of four candidates seeking the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate from Virginia at a state party convention in Roanoke on Saturday, June 7.

The winner of the nomination contest – either Gillespie, Tony DeTora, Shak Hill, or Chuck Moss – will go on to face incumbent Senator Mark Warner (D-Alexandria) in November. Libertarian nominee Robert Sarvis may also be on the ballot, pending his meeting the petition requirements by the filing deadline of Tuesday, June 10.

Gillespie spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner on the sidelines of the Fifth Congressional District GOP convention at Hampden-Sydney College on May 17. He expressed his views about health care reform, Warner's vulnerabilities, his appeal to libertarian-leaning voters, and whether he will debate any ballot-qualified candidate during the election campaign.

Party unity
Although the party canvass and convention process so far in 2014 has been fractious, Gillespie believes that “unity is possible.”

Republicans, he said, are “energized, they're excited.”

Gillespie pointed to “massive turnout at our district conventions and people getting energized and excited and coming into the process” as being “a good thing for us.”

With regard to the disputatious nature of the convention process, he said that “a little friction, a little tension here and there, that's a sign of a growing party. I would rather have the growing pains of a growing party than no pains of a shrinking party.”

Libertarian voters
Asked how he can earn the votes of libertarian-leaning Virginians in November, Gillespie asserted that “we have a lot of common ground with our libertarian-leaning members of our party and libertarian-leaning members of the electorate obviously. We are in favor of less government intrusion in our lives, we're in favor of lower taxes, we're in favor of stopping reckless spending, we want to get Obamacare out of making decisions about what our health insurance can be and who our doctors can be.”

He noted his view that, “if you believe in our constitutional principles of limited government and personal freedom, then anyone with a strong libertarian leaning needs to vote for our nominee come November.”

Gillespie would not, however, commit to debating any ballot-qualified candidate during the campaign. “I'd debate Mark Warner happily,” he said, but with regard to Robert Sarvis or any other possible Senate candidate, he demurred.

“I don't know. We'd have to look at that. Obviously, my focus is on Mark Warner,” Gillespie said.

Job killer
Warner's vulnerabilities include “his job-killing policies, his voting with President Obama and Harry Reid 97 percent of the time,” the GOP hopeful said.

Warner, he continued, “didn't just vote for Obamacare, which kills jobs. He voted against an amendment to repeal the medical device tax --165,000 jobs right there. He's for cap-and-trade or a carbon tax. A cap-and-trade regime would cost Virginians alone 66,000 jobs. He has voted job killing policy after job-killing policy. The fact is, his policies have resulted in lost jobs, lower take-home pay, skyrocketing health-care costs, and higher energy prices.”

In contrast, he asserted, Republican policies, “based on free markets and free people, would result in more job creation and higher take-home pay, and lower health-care costs, and bringing down energy prices.”

Gillespie also summarized his views on how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare.

Repeal and replace
“We need to repeal it because it's designed to get us to a single-payer system over time. We've got to repeal it and replace it with market-oriented reforms,” he said.

“I'm looking at a positive alternative to put forward for the people of Virginia. Some of the things I've been talking to people about are allowing for insurers to market across state lines. There's an artificial barrier there that doesn't exist in the auto market or the life insurance market. It shouldn't exist in the health insurance market.”

Gillespie also suggested a policy that would give “equal tax treatment for the employer or the employee, giving the employee more power in that regard. That would also help, so when you change jobs you wouldn't be at risk of losing insurance for a pre-existing condition.”

He pointed out the need for reform of medical malpractice laws, “which are driving up health care costs by virtue of defensive medicine practices or exorbitant awards. People need to be protected in our judicial process in the event of hospital error or doctor's error but we can do that without driving up the cost of health care.”

Gillespie also noted that medical savings accounts “hve been gutted by this administration” but should be “beefed up” instead.

He concluded his discussion of health-care policies by saying that he is “looking forward to talking about a positive alternative [to] replace Obamacare. People want to know what we're for as well as what we're against.”

He also expressed confidence about his chances of winning the nomination in Roanoke.

“I am very excited about the convention. I believe we're going to have a unifying convention in Roanoke; I think we can bring our party together. I'm very optimistic about how that's going and like our delegate count a lot.”

Saying he will support the eventual nominee “110 percent,” but adding that “ I'm hoping it's going to be me,” Gillespie concluded that “we have real momentum and a chance to unify our party for a big win in November.”

An audio version of this interview with Senate candidate Ed Gillespie is available on Bearing Drift's podcast, “The Score.”

SUGGESTED LINKS

GOP Senate candidate Chuck Moss emphasizes technology issues, outsider status
GOP Senate hopeful Tony DeTora favors marijuana law reform, opposes Mark Warner
'Proselytizing for freedom,' Robert Sarvis bids for U.S. Senate in Virginia
Virginia Senator Mark Warner discusses budget issues, independent voters
GOP Senate candidate Shak Hill thinks government is 'overreaching'

Original URL:  http://www.examiner.com/article/gop-senate-candidate-ed-gillespie-sees-energized-excited-party-activists