Friday, June 29, 2012

Braley Bytes: Fast & Furious Edition

The recent vote to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over subpoenaed documents in the investigation of the Department of Justice operation "Fast and Furious," which resulted in the deaths of over 300 Mexicans and an American border patrol agent, was "purely political theater" according to 1st District Rep. Bruce "Clunkers" Braley.  Braley voted against holding Eric Holder in contempt, both in committee and when the measure came before the full house.

If Braley thinks that the Fast and Furious investigation is merely "political theater," contributor John R. Lott Jr. points out a salient fact that Braley should bare in mind: "People died. It is something to remember during today’s historic House vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. Never before has a sitting attorney general been held in contempt.

Lott continued, "With all the hoopla over past scandals from Watergate to Filegate to Pardongate, the cover up was always worse than the crime. Yet, in 'Fast and Furious,' the guns that the US government supplied to Mexican drug gangs have been used to kill one American border agent and over 300 Mexican citizens  and commit numerous other crimes.

"To date, because of administration stonewalling, we don't have answers to the most basic questions. Why would the Obama administration give drug gangs guns without trying to trace them? Why not inform Mexican officials about the program so that the Mexicans could try tracing the guns on the Mexican side of the border? Why start pushing untraceable guns to Mexico at the same time that the Obama administration was making their wildly false claim that 90 percent of crime guns in Mexico were from the US?

"One hopes that it was sheer incompetence combined with a desire to stonewall any investigation, but the fact that people knew that the guns weren’t being traced raises questions even about this explanation. It raises the possibility that the guns were being sent to Mexico as part of a plan to push for more gun control."

Whether it was or wasn't part of a plan to push for more gun control as Dr. Lott suggests (and I agree), Holder has stonewalled the congressional investigation to the best of his ability.

Small town lawyer Ben Lange, who is challenging Braley for the 1st District seat, had this to say about Thursday's contempt vote:

"Border Agent Brian Terry died at the hands of weapons given to drug lords by a federal agency under the jurisdiction of Attorney General Eric Holder. The Attorney General subsequently admitted to misleading Congress and retracting a letter that contained false information about what officials in the administration knew about the 'Fast and Furious Operation.' The Attorney General then refused to turn over documents that would allow our elected representatives and the Terry family the ability to hold our government accountable and find out who knew what and when. Instead of holding the Attorney General accountable, however, Congressman Braley chose to play politics. The family of Brian Terry deserves better. Iowans deserve better.”

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rush Limbaugh Invades Iowa

One of my guilty pleasures in life is occasionally listening to about half an hour or so of Rush Limbaugh's radio show on my drive home from work.  I don't always agree with him, especially on some social issues or when he's trying to paint over the Republican Party's record on spending increases, but I enjoy his commentary and humor.  On his show he's been promoting his bottled nonalcoholic sweet tea called Two If By Tea (a play on a phrase from the famous Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "Paul Revere's Ride.")

I wanted to try the tea but it was only available through mail-order, so when I saw that a local business in my town was hosting a "tea tasting" of Limbaugh's product I had to check it out.  Legacy Lanes, a family owned bowling center, pro shop, restaurant and bar in Monticello, is the ONLY retailer of Two If By Tea in the state of Iowa.  The proprietor, Brian Meyer, is a bit of a "dittohead" too and has been a caller on Rush's program.

I stopped by for the sampling and enjoyed the tea very much.  I ended up buying a couple cases.  Two If By Tea is available in Original Sweet Tea, Diet Original (my favorite), Raspberry and Diet Raspberry (my wife's favorite), Peach and Diet Peach, Blueberry and Diet Blueberry, and now Unsweetened.  Meyer sells it in single bottles (which you can even enjoy at the bar), or six-packs, and boxes to go.

A part of Rush's proceeds go to a good cause.  Two If By Tea is a proud sponsor of The Marine Corps - Law Enforcement Foundation, a charity that provides assistance to the children of United States Marines and federal law enforcement personnel who were killed while serving our country.

Fans of Limbaugh will certainly enjoy the novelty and anyone who enjoys good tea will enjoy the product.  Legacy Lanes is located at 901 North Birch Street in Monticello.  If you find yourself midway between Cedar Rapids and Dubuque, stop by and ask Brian for some Two If By Tea.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Iowa 2011 Crime Rates- A Sneak Peek

The FBI has issued its Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report for 2011.  That was Iowa's first year as a "shall issue" weapons permits state.  The number of nonprofessional carry permits increased from 39,397 in 2010 to 94,516 through November 2011.  Advocates and opponents of the new law will want to know if their predictions came true.

“I don’t see how this could do any good," stated one police officer last year.  “There are going to be some shootings because of this,” said another officer speaking to Dean Close of the Vinton newspaper.  One letter-writer warned, "A gun in hand [...] messes with the head and mind, just as a muscle car does. Possibilities and actions are enhanced, and restraints on anger and all else that is upsetting are dwarfed and become ineffective."  Predictions of "wild west shootouts" by lawfully armed yokels were rampant.

Calmer heads predicted: "A year or two from now, when the sky doesn't fall and the bodies aren't stacked in the streets like cordwood, most Iowans can go back to not remembering that we have a carry law."

Who was closer to being right?  Unfortunately the FBI report won't answer everything because it is just the abbreviated preliminary report, and we shouldn't ascribe too much significance to any one year uptick or downtick anyway.

The report indicates that violent crime dropped by 4% nationwide in 2011, it's fifth consecutive yearly drop.  Murder dropped by 1.9% nationally.  Violent crime dropped by 4.9% in the "Midwest Region," while murder actually rose by 0.6% in the Midwest.  Some experts are predicting that while national crime rates are at historic lows, they may have bottomed out, as evidenced by an upward spike late in 2011.

The only Iowa-specific data I could find was in the report's "Table 4," listing crime rates for cities with populations over 100,000.  It listed Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Des Moines.

Murder remained the same in Cedar Rapids with 2 in both 2010 and 2011. In Davenport murders rose from 2 in 2010 to 5 in 2011. In Des Moines murders rose from 5 to 8. Thankfully those numbers remain relatively low and the uptick apparently occurred all across the Midwest. Opponents of the new law will have a hard time laying this statistical blip at the feet of the shall issue law since none of the murders were committed by permit holders. (If a permit holder ever did commit murder it would be the lead news story for a week and probably make the national news.)

All three cities saw a decrease in total violent crime from 2010 to 2011.  Cedar Rapids dropped from 386 in 2010 to 358 total violent crimes in 2011.  Des Moines had a negligible drop from 1,084 to 1,069 total violent crimes.  Davenport saw a significant drop from 868 to 652 violent crimes.

I don't think these three will be isolated examples when the FBI's complete report comes out later on. I know that the Waterloo P.D. reported that city's "violent and property crime" was down by 12% in 2011 and that county's sheriff reported rural crime was down as well.  I would imagine there are similar reports elsewhere in the state.  Anecdotally, I know that I don't have to execute three to five second rushes across my local Walmart parking lot to avoid bursts of gunfire from all the weapons permit holders.

At the very least, the shall issue law definitely has not led to the "blood in the streets" predictions of its harshest critics.  At best, it may have helped to push Iowa's already low crime rates a little lower.  We'll have to wait for the full report to see for sure.

21 of 25 Iowa Delegates Are Ron Paul Supporters reports:

"A sweeping victory by backers of Ron Paul at the Republican Party of Iowa state convention over the weekend is a sign the constitutional conservative movement will be a force in the state’s GOP politics for years, according to one of the leaders of the Liberty Movement.

"The Paul-aligned Liberty Movement scored a near-sweep of national delegates elected at the convention Saturday. [...] 21 of the 25 Iowa’s delegates elected Saturday are members of the Liberty Movement, and most supported Paul in the Jan. 3 first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses, according to Adil Khan, executive director of Liberty Iowa, a PAC aimed at advancing the causes of limited government and individual freedom."

Monday, June 4, 2012

IGO and ACLU of Iowa Candidate Ratings

In preparation for tomorrow's primary election here are rankings from two more pro-liberty groups in Iowa.

The ACLU of Iowa recently released it's report card for Iowa legislators.  This has limitations because it will only show you how an incumbent voted on certain issues and doesn't grade unelected challengers.  Also, I tend not to agree with ACLU of Iowa on some issues.  They tend to have the right idea on things like free speech, equal rights, privacy, surveillance, and due process but get a little off track on "reproductive freedom" (certainly nobody has a "right" to an abortion on somebody else's dime) and Second Amendment rights.  The report card may be more useful for seeing how your legislator voted on individual bills rather than looking at his or her final grade from ACLU of I.  You can read the report card here.

Also, Iowa Gun Owners sent out an email with a "Gun Rights Voter Guide" for tomorrow's primary election.  Some of the highlights (I apologize for some of the formatting below.  It is the fault of this author and not like that in the original IGO email):

In House District 1:

Kevin Wolfswinkel (R) has answered our candidate survey 100% pro-gun, which shouldn't be a surprise since Kevin is a lifetime member of Iowa Gun Owners, and has been for a long time. Kevin supports Constitutional Carry, Stand-Your-Ground, removing Iowa's
unconstitutional permit to purchase, and will stand against ANY threats to our gun rights.

Jeff Smith (R) refuses to answer our survey. Worse, he voted against Constitutional Carry in 2011 - in violation of the candidate survey that he did sign in 2010!

House District 2:

Iowa Gun Owners was going to remain quiet in this race since both candidates completed
their survey 100%. We had concerns since one of the candidates, Megan Hess (R) worked
in the General Assembly this past year for the notoriously anti-gun Clel Baudler. Baudler
KILLED Constitutional Carry in his committee and did so proudly.

Running against Hess is Josh Davenport (R), a longtime Iowa Gun Owners supporter.
Josh is very vocal about his stance on the 2nd Amendment and eagerly completed our
survey 100% in favor of our gun rights.

However, this past Saturday Hess was interviewed by the paper in her district and she
removed any doubt about the fact the she LIED on her candidate survey. Not only
does Hess not support Constitutional Carry - she thinks we need a new bureaucracy
to make the government mandated training requirements more regulated!

Clearly Hess intends to go to Des Moines and bargin away our 2nd Amendment rights!
She's just telling the voters what she thinks they want to hear - and she's not even elected

House District 6:

Matthew Ung (R) has answered our survey 100%! Matthew believes deeply in our 2nd
Amendment rights and was troubled to learn that his current Representative voted
AGAINST our gun rights during his short time in office. Matthew supports all of the
legislative agendas of Iowa Gun Owners.

Regrettably, freshman Representative Ron Jorgensen (R) was difficult to work with the
moment he came into office. He was very unwilling to co-sponsor bills, he voted against
Constitutional Carry in 2011, and now he refuses to sign a simple candidate survey.

House District 7:

Tedd Gassman (R) refused to answer the survey saying that he wants to leave the gun laws as they are. He won't commit to advancing our gun rights in any way.

Mark Frakes (R) has answered our survey in support Constitutional Carry, Stand-Your-
Ground, and other key pieces of legislation. While he answered another question
incorrectly, he was confused about the question, and did not do so purposefully.

House District 10:

Incumbent Tom Shaw (R), Iowa Gun Owners' lead bill sponsor for the last two years in the
House has again answered his candidate survey 100%. His record and leadership on
behalf of our gun rights is well known to our members.

Challenging Tom Shaw is Maison Bleam (R), who has answered his survey favorably.

House District 16:

Democratic candidates Ronald Pierce and Heidi Coners have both refused the survey.

House District 22:

Clint Fichter (R) has answered our candidate survey with 100% pro-gun answers.

Gerg Forristall (R) has refused to complete the survey which should come as no small
surprise to voters there since he voted against key gun legislation in 2011.

House District 24:

Jane Jensen (R) has completed our survey and is a proud supporter of the 2nd Amendment.

Cecil Dolecheck (R) has not completed the survey.

House District 25:

Joan Acela (R) is a strong gun rights supporter who was happy to answer the IGO candidate survey 100% in support of your gun rights. She's not hidden her views on the 2nd Amendment at all during her campaign.

Joan is challenging Julian Garrett (R) who has repeatedly refused to co-sponsor the bills
that he promised to support when he ran for office in 2010. Garrett also refused to
answer our candidate survey this year. He took help from gun owners in his last election
and then voted against the 2nd Amendment in 2011.

House District 26:

Steve McCoy (R) is running for the open seat vacated by the retiring Glen Massie.
McCoy, a military veteran, has happily answered his candidate questionnaire. He's on
the record supporting Stand-Your-Ground reform as well as Pre-Emption reform
which would put an end to the patchwork system we have right now where one
county allows you to carry concealed and another does not.

Ruth Randleman (R) has repeatedly refused to answer our survey. Many of our members
from this district have contacted Randleman, but she still won't tell us where she stands
on the important 2nd Amendment issues facing law abiding Iowans.

House District 28:

Both candidates in this race, Greg Heartsill (R) and Len Gosselink (R) have answered
our survey with pro-gun replies. However, Greg Heartsill (R) has pledged to sponsor
legislation, as opposed to cosponsoring it. We appreciate both surveys, but greatly
appreciate the leadership pledge from Greg Heartsill.

House District 30:

Jim Carley (R) has completed the survey 100% and supports all the legislative goals of
Iowa Gun Owners.

Carol Miller (R) has refused to answer our survey despite it being sent to her multiple times.
Refusing to sign this survey is usually a sign of hostile intentions when it comes to your
gun rights.

House District 36:

In this 3 way primary race one candidate stands out. While Tony Seliquini (R) and
Larry Steele (R) have completed the survey 100% pro-gun, Jeff Ibbotson has refused
to tell you and me where he stands on the key 2nd Amendment issues facing Iowans.

None of the three Democrats running in this primary have answered the survey.

House Distict 37:

This is the most crowded primary race in this year's primary race with 5 Republican
candidates. There are no Democrats running. We'll summarize each candidate's stance.

Matt DeVries - 100% response to his candidate survey.

John Landon - no answer to multiple surveys that were sent to him.

Jacob Mason - 100% response to his survey.

Jim Robidoux - No answer. Wrote a letter saying that he would not be answering.

Stacey Rogers - 100% response to our survey.

Jeffery Wright - Refused his survey. He wouldn't even open it.

House District 39:

Erik Helland (R) says that he's pro-gun and he completed his candidate survey last year. But in 2011, when trying to maintain his personal friendships with the power brokers in the
Capitol, he broke his pledge and voted against your gun rights. This year he's refusing to
go on the record.

Jake Highfill (R) is challenging Helland, in part, because he's frustrated with his anti-gun
voting record. Highfill has answered our survey 100%.

House District 76:

David Maxwell (R) has answered his entire survey 100% in support of your gun rights.

Larry Wilson (R) refused his survey at the Post Office and sent it back...he wouldn't
even open it.

House District 78:

Jared Klein (R) will not complete a candidate survey for us. That's likely because he's
voted against Constitutional Carry and knows that he's broken a promise made to the
voters last election. Capitol insiders report that Klein is much more concerned about a
long career in politics that honoring pledges made to his voters. This is very disturbing.

Challenging Klein is Priscilla Marlar. Marlar (R) is a strong 2nd Amendment supporter
and did our survey 100% pro-gun.

Senate District 4:

Both Dennis Guth (R) and James Black (R) have completed their candidate survey 100%

Senate District 10:

Jake Chapman has completed our survey 100%. We've talked to Chapman and he seems
sincere regarding his support for your 2nd Amendment rights.

Matthew Mardesen has also completed our survey. He came out OPPOSED to
Constiutional Carry and OPPOSED to removing Iowa's unconstitutional permit to purchase.

Senate District 22:

Certainly no Senate race has received more attention regarding gun rights than this race.

Longtime incumbent Pat Ward is being challenged by Jeff Mullen - both are Republicans.

In 2010 when Constitutional Carry received a Floor vote Ward was the only Republican
to vote no. While 17 of the 18 Republicans were in support, Ward refused. Later she
voted in support of an anti-gun bill that removes guns from people without them
even being guaranteed the right to be present at the hearing where the court orders their

Ward has never apologized for those votes and she is arrogantly refusing to complete
her survey this year.

Jeff Mullen is a serious shooter who has a fine collection of self-defense firearms. Mullen
takes his 2nd Amendment freedoms very seriously and he answered our survey 100%.
Mullen understands that more guns in the hands of law abiding people will equal less
crime, and he lives this.

Senate District 36:

IGO member Jane Jech has completed her survey with all favorable responses.

Larry McKibben has not returned our survey.

Senate District 42:

Republicans Larry Kruse and Lee Harder both answered the survey with pro-gun

Senate District 46:

Republican incumbents Shawn Hammerlinck and James Hahn were lumped into the same
district after the legislative maps were redrawn this year. Both have surveyed 100% and
both voted for Constitutional Carry in 2010.

Senate District 48:

Brian Cook (R) did not return his survey.

Dan Zumbach (R) supports Constitutional Carry, Stand Your Ground, Pre-Emption
Reform and all of the other legislative goals of Iowa Gun Owners.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Iowa Right To Life Endorsements

In my last post I said that if I saw any other candidate endorsements from pro-liberty groups I'd pass them along.  My pro-choice friends might disagree with me, but without life it's downright hard to enjoy liberty and property, so I'll include Iowa Right to Life in that list.  Iowa Right to Life recently released the names of primary election candidates who they believe meet "criteria reflecting ability, sincerity and responsiveness in support of our Pro-Life legislative priorities." Here they are:

U.S. House 01: Ben Lange

State Senate:
04: James Black
06: Mark Segebart
08: Col. Al Ringgenberg
14: Steven Everly AND Stephanie Jones AND Amy Sinclair
22: Jeff Mullen
36: Jane Jech
42: Lee Harder AND Larry Kruse

 Iowa House:
01: Kevin Wolfswinkel
02: Josh Davenport AND Megan Hess
06: Ron Jorgensen AND Matthew Ung
07: Tedd Gassman
08: Bob Dishman AND Henry Rayhorns
10: Maison Bleam
22: Greg Forristall
23: Mark Costello
24: Cecil Dolecheck AND Jane Jensen
25: Julian Garrett AND Joan Acela
26: Steve McCoy AND Ruth Randleman
27: Joel Fry
28: Len Gosselink AND Greg Heartsill
30: Jim Carley
34: Patti Branco
37: Matt DeVries AND John Landon AND Jim Robidoux AND Jeffrey White
38: Kevin Koester
39: Erik Helland
50: Pat Grassley AND Annette Sweeney
55: Marshall Nessa
59: Howard Lyon
76: Larry Wilson
81: Blake Smith

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