Saturday, September 18, 2010

Shotgunning With Perry; Tracking White

I had the good fortune to be invited to an event featuring Texas Governor Rick Perry on Friday, at a private sporting clays competition with other bloggers from around the state and nation. The bloggers are here in Austin for a blogging event and the organizers took us out to the Cypress Preserve in northwest Austin, through tie-ins to the Perry campaign. A few observations:

  • The event was fun. Anytime you get a chance to shoot guns at a target or skeet range you're going to have a good time. I've shot skeet and hunted doves before but never shot at sporting clays, an activity which simulates hunting conditions for various types of bird and game as you might encounter them in the wild. I'd never shot at teal rising straight up in the air before but what a challenge and what fun it was to hit the two targets in the same set! At another station, for dove I think, I went 5-8, with two consecutive sets of double hits on two clays thrown at the same time, coming at the shooter from the same direction. But hey, enough about me!
  • Despite the fairly limited access we had to the Governor -- he seemed to be more interested in hustling between groups and getting some shots in at each station than fielding policy questions -- a few bloggers got into policy and campaign stuff with him. But really, who can blame the Governor for not seeming too interested in doing his political duties? Indeed, I was more interested in shooting clays than talking with the Governor anyway. With all due respect, Mr. Governor...
  • Rick Perry was shooting what looked like Browning Mossy Oak Duck Blind semi-auto. (Now that would have been a good question for me to ask "What gun are you shooting, Mr. Governor?" and one he might not have ducked! Punny aren't I?)
  • The Governor has a very comfortable shooting stance. He moved into shooter mode very easily and quickly and I could tell he was really enjoying his time away from the office. There's no doubt he's a natural shooter, one who has been using guns a long time. In some of his pre-event comments he exuded great confidence in his abilities, saying something like none of us could outshoot him. I believed him, like I believe the golf course hustler who plays all the time for a few bucks here and there. It would have been tempting to take on the Governor in a challenge, but I figured I would have been outgunned. I was right, but if he'd spotted me a few clays, I would have taken up the bet anyway.
  • I asked Will Franklin, a media aide for the governor's campaign staff, to poll the bloggers on the bus about their shooting experience. I estimate there were about 50 people on the bus and about 20 said they'd used shotguns before while the other 30 indicated they had never done so. What a shame! I mean really, it's quite sad that adult Americans had never had the chance or the self-initiated gumption to go out and shoot before being invited on press-blogger junket! I think all journalists and bloggers should be required to take a shooting class to understand the 2nd Amendment in the way they take classes to understand the 1st Amendment. As an aside, just think what that percentage of previous shooters to non-shooters it would have been if the bus contained a bunch of left-wing bloggers. Of course they would never be on a bus returning from a sporting clays shooting event in the first place. It's sad that people are so sheltered and so comfortable in their lack of experience with guns. It's even more sad that they are always so intent and determined to dismantle a Constitutional right enjoyed by so many of their fellow Americans.
  • The inimitable Anna Z and I were talking about how fun shooting is and how addicting it can be. The personal challenge of controlling the weapon so that you can hit your target is no small feat. Hold the gun correctly, line up the sights, breathe correctly, squeeze correctly all have to be performed in relaxed but focused mental state over the course of seconds. The results are easily seen. If you did it right -- hit. Wrong - miss. There's no "Jobs created or saved" attempts to rationalize poor results, of the type that liberals routinely engage. "Gun control" to a conservative means the ability to hit your target with as little wasted lead spent as possible.
  • Of course Anna Z probably has some good policy/political questions for the Governor, so you ought to check her site to see some more professional coverage of the event ;-) My teammate Sibyl West at will probably do so as well.
Which brings me to Bill White, the Democrat opponent to Rick Perry for Governor.

I'd like to ask Mr. White some questions about his previous engagement with a group called "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" and his likely alignment with their political objectives in Texas.

Last July, Democratic Senate Candidate John Sharp called on White to quit this liberal group, founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. White is no longer listed as a member as seen here. He was however, as can be seen on this advertisement found at the "MAIG group's web site. (Note to MAIG web tenders - I downloaded the ad PDF so there's no reason for you to remove the link to the Memory Hole.)

The questions then, to both candidates, but especially to Mr. White, would be something like this:
  • If elected Governor of Texas, would you adopt the policy prescriptions that MAIG suggests for reducing the flow of weapons to Mexico, including the types now found in California for requiring background checks for all handgun sales at gun shows, requiring purchase permits in advance of handgun sales, allowing local jurisdictions to regulate firearms, and allowing inspection of gun dealers?
  • Wouldn't you be concerned that those restrictions would pose undue hinderances on Americans to exercise their rights to bear arms as recently validated by the U.S. Supreme Court?
  • Are you more interested in restricting the rights of Americans to buy and sell guns than apprehending illegal aliens who are engaged in securing those guns for transfer to Mexico?
  • In a Texas led by Bill White, how much Constitutional liberty should Texans be willing to sacrifice in order for you to help Mexico with its military's fight against drug and illegal immigrant traffickers? Would you put the same emphasis on reducing the amount of drug use by Texans, the already illegal activity that supplies the narco-traffickers with their sources of revenue for purchasing and transporting weapons?
Of course I'd like Governor Perry to answer the same questions. I'd like to think he would live up to his conservative credos and defend Texans' rights to bear arms without undue government meddling, especially in the surreptitious name of helping Mexico with its problems.

Big thanks to the Perry team for having me along!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mark Strama's Uncle T - How the Elected Class Stays in Power

Just for the record, I am pro tort reform and very thankful that Texas leads the Nation in the important area of tort reform. I do, however take issue with the methods of single issue focused Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) PAC which perpetuates bad incumbent lawmakers on the sole basis that they support TLR’s legislative agenda. In other words, groups like TLR perpetuate the problem that the TEA Party movement has recently--and Republican Assemblies have for many years--risen up to remedy.

I’m happy that Dan Neil and Paul Workman are getting matching funds from Conservative Republicans of Texas. However, it is my understanding that TLR has threatened to match dollar for dollar, in contributions to Patrick Rose and Mark Strama, any contributions to Jason Isaac and Patrick McGuinness, respectively from Conservative Republicans of Texas (CRT) and other PACs, hence no such matching funds to Patrick or Jason from CRT.

I’ve exposed Rose’s connections to powerful interests previously. But since I looked it up I might as well mention that TLR has funneled contributions to Patrick Rose to the tune of $18,493.30 (including in-kind contributions to The Committee To Elect Patrick Rose) since October 2009, $10,000 of which has been contributed since May 2010.

Now, turning my attention to Mark Strama.

Note firstly that Richard Trabulsi, Jr. is president of Texans for Lawsuit Reform and chairman of its political action committee (TLR PAC). In that capacity he has funneled “other people’s money” to both Patrick Rose and Mark Strama for their support of TLR’s agenda, even though on most all other issues they are in lock step with liberal Democrats seeing as how they are liberal Democrats, very liberal.

In the case of Thomas Mark “Obama” Strama, Mr. Trabulsi is his uncle. It must be nice to have an uncle who can funnel other peoples money ($15,000 since November 2009, $10,000 of which has been contributed since May 2010) to your campaign in exchange for a few token votes for TLR on its issues.

Also, I note that Mark Strama’s brother (and thus also Trabulsi’s nephew), Keith Strama is a lobbyist and just look who one of his clients is:
Texans for Lawsuit Reform
919 Congress Avenue, Suite #455, Austin, TX 78701
Type of Compensation: Prospective
$25,000 - $49,999.99
Client Start Date: 01/12/2010
Client Term Date: 12/31/2010
Now if that doesn’t smack of...

As for Strama’s Obama loving credentials, note the excerpt below about the split between Aunt Judy Trabulsi (Richard Trabulsi’s sister) and Nephew Mark (especially the red letter text):
Trabulsi, who noted she made her first political contribution — $30 — to Bill Clinton's race for Arkansas attorney general in 1976, has since given more than $18,000 to Hillary Clinton's campaigns since 1999, including $4,200 for her current presidential bid.
Generational split
Not everyone is convinced that Hillary Clinton's longtime ties in the state will tip the election in her favor.

Matt Glazer, the editor of the Burnt Orange Report, a liberal blog based in Austin that endorsed Obama, said the question is whether traditional Democratic organization will prevail or whether the primary will be decided by the first-time voters who are drawn to the Illinois senator.

"Is it the new young hip or the usual thing?" said Glazer, a native of Spring. He noted that one of the contributors to his blog is David Mauro, Garry Mauro's son.

One sign of generational differences is that Trabulsi's nephew Mark Strama, a 40-year-old state legislator from Austin, has endorsed Obama.

"Obviously, it was a hard conversation when I told my aunt a year ago I was going to support Obama," said Strama, noting his aunt was "horrified."

"For people in my generation, who didn't get to experience the JFK and RFK candidacies, this is our first chance we have had to be inspired," Strama said.

Source: Clinton's not alone in the Lone Star State: Despite 36-year network, a victory isn't guaranteed

Politics as usual must stop. November is coming! May the conservatives smash their opposition on election day.

(The source of all the PAC contributions and lobbyist information given above is the Texas Ethics Commission website.)