Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: Broken Borders, Broken Promises

On May 11, 2013, along with several other conservative and libertarian citizen-journalists, my wife and I were invited to lunch by Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. We attended knowing that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

The cost of admission was to have a "visit" with Mr. Staples. That was Mr. Staples exact word for the informal speech and press conference, "visit".

In addition to being well fed, lubricated with a pint of Shiner (or a glass of red wine, in my wife's case), and an autographed copy of Mr. Staples book, Broken Borders, Broken Promises, we also were entertained with stories and little-known facts about Texas and her border with Mexico. Todd reminded me of some of the collateral effects of current border security and immigration policies. He also opened my eyes to additional collateral effects.

The "visit" was just a tease. Mr. Staples's book is a "must read".

Today, immigration reform is among the pressing issues discussed at the national level. At state levels, though, many states and cities pay the problems little mind or attention. What citizens of most states hear is whining about jobs, complaining about illegals sucking up US Taxpayer dollars by fraudulently receiving food and housing subsidies, and other "not my business" minutia. Citizens of border states, particularly those on the Southern border, see other problems. This book will open the eyes of every voting-age American to the destructive effects of ineffective border security and an over-burdensome immigration policy. It affects each and every American.

Todd makes that abundantly clear. 

"My goal is to provide adequate protection to the men and women who grow the food and fiber upon which our state, country, and the world depend.  These land stewards demand and deserve relief from the terror inflicted by the drug cartel members, and this reprieve can only [sic] come in the context of broader reform  that ensures the border is secure and legal movement along our southern border is prioritized" ~Todd Staples, Preface to Broken Borders, Broken Promises

Many may wonder what being an Agriculture Commissioner in Texas has to do with immigration and border security. Mr. Staples's book explains with surprising detail after surprising detail.

Texas is home to the United States' largest supply of beef. Due to the violence on the border, infected beef from Mexico end up intermingling with US-based herds. This affects our country's food supply. It affects the prices of food. It affects the availability of the food.

Texas isn't just a beef producer. The state also produces cotton used in making clothing, such as the jeans you are probably wearing. The insecure border affects cotton production. Cartels and human traffickers destroy the crops and chase ranchers/farmers off of their land. They set fires that burn the crops. They bring boll weevils that infect and kill the crops.

Texas also produces strawberries. The Poteet, TX Strawberry Festival is famous. So are the berries, which tend to be huge. Texas grows citrus trees such as lemons, grapefruit, and oranges. While perhaps not as famous as Florida or California's crops, they are still a necessary part of the nation's food supply.

The list goes on.

The three-part interdependent problem needs a solution.

The first problem that must be addressed is the insecure, porous border. Having lived near the border in Arizona, I have witnessed, directly, the effects of poor national security. Robert Krentz, a local rancher, was assassinated by a drug cartel. This affected the entirety of Cochise County, AZ. It is but one story that illustrates an ongoing epidemic of violence. The drug cartels, sex slavers, and other smugglers want to push law-abiding landowners off of their land.

Among the fires set along the border in 2011 was the Monument Fire. It was set just south of the border and quickly destroyed thousands upon thousands of acres of National Forest and ranch land. It was set by one of these criminal organizations.

Near the border in Texas,  ranchers are kidnapped or murdered in acts meant to terrorize other ranchers into ceding their property to these criminals.

In Broken Borders, Broken Promises, Todd Staples points to the website Protect Your Texas Borders. The site contains videos and personal stories about the plight of ranchers, businessmen, and landowners along the border. The examples are exhaustive.

The proof is more than evident. The border fences are not sufficient. In many cases, they extend only a few miles beyond the limits of cities, leaving rural areas unprotected. Border Patrol agents are undermanned and under-equipped. Federal Laws limit what state and local law enforcement personnel and individual, law-abiding citizens are allowed to do in order to protect themselves, their families and their land.

On the site is a presentation (available at this link). One thing most people fail to realize is that the criminals do not stop at the border. They infiltrate the whole of the US. And drug smugglers are not the only ones in the group. The cartels network with terrorist groups such as Al Q'aeda and assist in sneaking these enemies of the US into our country. They also assist in abducting our kids to be sold as sex slaves on the black market. 

The second problem is one concerning the supply of labor. Yes, there are jobs here in the US that your average US citizen isn't willing to perform. Migrant and immigrant laborers from Mexico make a better wage in the US than back home. We have ranches that cannot get their crops harvested in time to get to market without them. The work visa program needs to be streamlined. These workers don't seek to immigrate here. They just want to work for a week then go home to their families.

This is indicative of the whole immigration and visa process. It has become bogged down with bureaucracy and red tape. There are some people who come to the States on immigration visas. Many of them begin the process immediately. There are certain gateways and time-frames. Even doing the right thing, the visas usually expire before the process can be completed. In far too many cases, the immigrant is not aware of the visa's expiration. They become "illegal" despite that the fact they were doing the right thing.

Immigration reform should not include amnesty for those who enter illegally. However, for those who wish to immigrate legally, the process needs reform. Our nation is built on immigrants. Legal immigration is a necessary cornerstone to our national values and industry. Many small businesses and successful companies were started by legal immigrants who industriously pursued the American Dream.

I know several immigrants quite well. They are great people that anybody would be honored to meet. Two of them worked as interpreters for the US Army in Iraq. One of them is, now, a US Soldier, already a patriot and a great American, even though he has yet to be naturalized. Another is working as a security guard, paying taxes, buying groceries, and living in the Great Republic of Texas. If somebody would be dumb enough to ask if I'd put my life in their hands, the answer is "I already have. I trust them, with no reservations." We, the USA, are lucky to have them.

The third part of the problem deals with those illegal immigrants already in the US. Amnesty doesn't work. It has been tried several times in the past and failed every time. All it does is invite more people to break the law expecting impunity. Those not guilty of any other crimes should be presented with a fair and just path towards legal residency, but not full citizenship. Those guilty of other crimes such as fraud, identity theft, larceny, trespassing, murder, etc., to include higher misdemeanors and all felonies should be deported. However, no plan for this demographic will work until the border is secured and the legal immigration process is reformed.

Todd Staples addresses all of the above in his book. Todd also addresses many of the counter-arguments. He has been called to defend the Texas policies regarding immigration and border security. He battles emotion-based rhetoric with facts and data. Those facts and data are bolstered by the personal, human touch of the stories he recounts from Texans who live near the border. The picture Mr. Staples paints in Broken Borders, Broken Promises is one identifying problems that need to be solved, and one of some solutions that are working already. Agree or disagree with his stance or policies, the book grants vital insight into the issues.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Foreshadowing Economic Conditions

The Social Security Administration's (SSA) monthly snapshot is not due for public release until sometime next week. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) next monthly report is due out next Friday. What can we expect?

Given indicators floating about, one can assume another month of more of the same.

First, we have a continuing trend of former workers filing for SSDI with the SSA. SSDI is "disability insurance". It isn't really insurance. It is a government pay-out. Each month, as unemployment handouts expire, former workers are filing for SSDI, claiming disability due to mental health conditions. The most claim disability is "depression". The depression is caused by an inability to gain employment. While on SSDI, these people are taken out of the labor pool. That lowers the total labor force, the denominator in the equation used to calculate U3 and U6 unemployment rates. When a denominator gets smaller, the percentage employed gets larger. In other words, the unemployment statistics fall.

In April, the number of personnel on SSDI had risen to about 10,961,000. Preliminary numbers (not completely verified) indicate that as many as an additional 17,000 new recipients were added in May. Leaked numbers claim the total number of personnel currently receiving SSDI may be up to 10,978,000. That means 17,000 fewer people in the workforce. That doesn't include people who go back to school. It won't include new mothers who drop out of the workforce to be stay-at-home mothers. It doesn't include workers reaching retirement age. it doesn't count the people who just give up looking.

Some may recall the reported drop in the Workforce Participation Rate. The BLS reported a drop in participation that coincided with the lowered U3 unemployment rate celebrated by many who fail to look at all the data.

In addition, the last few monthly reports from the BLS have indicated increases in part-time employment while full-time opportunities decline. The drop has not been an immediate cliff-fall on the graph in either case (WPR or Part-Time due to economic conditions). They have been gradual declines.

The U6 under- and unemployed rate is rising, slowly, month by month. The U3 is ticking down, though. The reason is simple. Employers are facing conditions that make it more feasible to hire 3 part-time workers than two full-time. Their payroll taxes are lower. The benefits they must provide are lower. The penalties they face starting in January 2014 are lower. Those increased taxes and penalties are mostly due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), nicknamed "Obamacare".

The truth is that the average household is earning less income. That is not growth. That is not prosperity. Parents are faced with working two to three part-time jobs to make ends meet. In many cases, this is in single-parent households. In others, both parents are working outside the home. That keeps parents from being as active as they'd like to be in their children's lives.

The weekly jobless claim numbers from various states show that new claims keep being filed. The numbers of "new hires" are not rising at a rate that can adequately overcome those claims. More of those "new hires" are part-time positions than there are full-time new hires. So the U6 rate remains abysmal.

The housing market is allegedly on the rise, becoming a "sellers' market". New home sales are up, as are the selling prices. This is because interest rates are being held artificially lower than the free market would adjust towards. Because the rates are held lower, lenders are less likely to grant the loans. Those who could not get loans in previous years are settling for lowered value homes than they shopped for in past years. They are getting smaller mortgages, and trying to buy. The sellers are not losing as much as they would have a year or two ago. However, many of them are still selling at a loss. The loss just isn't as great.

Because interest rates are being forced lower than the free market would correct them towards, banks are not paying as much (if any) interest on savings, checking, money market, CD, or bond accounts. The small interest paid is much lower than inflation. Due to that, keeping money in savings is actually a slowly leaking bucket rather than a slow-growing nest egg.

To combat those low rates, more people are investing what savings they can scrape together into private businesses. This is the stock market. The Dow and NASDAQ numbers have gained over the past year. But these are higher-risk means of investing savings than a savings account would be. The draw is that dividends on stocks have the potential to pay out equal to or greater than the inflation rate.

Consumer confidence is up. However, real spending is not what it was in 2008. Over the past 5 years, Americans have adapted, despite the poor policies of the current administration. These days, a trip to McDonald's is the treat that a steak dinner at Outback was 5 years ago. It is still conditions of austerity, not prosperity. Then there is the fact that, due to poor interest rates and high inflation rates, it is more cost effective to spend what you have today. Your dollar today will be worth 70 cents tomorrow.

The indicators all point to more dismal reports next week. If reported U3 falls by less than 0.5%, it is not an improvement. If U6 remains the same or rises, then things got worse. If the WPR remains the same or fails to rise by less than 1.0% then things are not improving.

The water is rising. The basement is flooded. The roof is leaking. The levy is about to burst. You can see another storm cloud on the horizon.

But Americans have always been resilient We will persevere despite the attempts by the current administration to further enslave us and make us dependent upon the government. Things may get worse. However, it is nothing the US cannot handle. We have been through worse. We will be great again.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Texas Seeks To Restrict Abortion Pills

Currently RU-486, Mifeprex, is the only FDA approved abortion pill available in the United States. However, several others are being developed. Its primary purpose is to induce non-surgical abortions.

The Texas Senate is debating proposed regulations regarding the use and prescription of this type of drug. Those proposed regulations surrounding abortion pills are similar to those the state holds for surgical abortions. Since RU-486 is allegedly effective only during the first 49 days of gestation, late-term abortion considerations are not considered to apply.

Among the provisions concerning the use of abortion pills in Texas is that the drug must be proscribed by a physician, not a nurse practitioner or physician's assistant, and only after a full examination is completed. Part of that examination includes tests to determine the gestational age of the unborn child and health of the mother.

The Senate is set to vote on SB 97 in the near future. The full text of the bill as amended by the committees is available here.
       Sec. 171.053.  DISTRIBUTION OF ABORTION-INDUCING DRUG. (a)  A person may not knowingly give, sell, dispense, administer, provide, or prescribe an abortion-inducing drug to a pregnant woman for the purpose of inducing an abortion in the pregnant woman or enabling another person to induce an abortion in the pregnant woman unless:
             (1)  the person who gives, sells, dispenses, administers, provides, or prescribes the abortion-inducing drug is a physician; and
             (2)  the provision, prescription, or administration of the abortion-inducing drug satisfies the protocol tested and authorized by the United States Food and Drug Administration as outlined in the final printed label of the abortion-inducing drug.
       (b)  Before the physician gives, sells, dispenses, administers, provides, or prescribes an abortion-inducing drug, the physician must examine the pregnant woman and document, in the woman's medical record, the gestational age and intrauterine location of the pregnancy.

Abortion Pill Bill In Wake Of HHS Plan-B Announcement?

Among misconceptions regarding the abortion pill is confusion between Mifeprex and "Plan-B" emergency contraception pills. Plan-B is not an abortive. It is a high dose of a common birth-control pill that can delay ovulation and/or prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.

The moment of conception is still a subject of debate in the scientific community. Some see the zygote stage immediately after fertilization as the moment of conception. Other biologists contend that implantation is necessary to the development of the child. To them, successful implantation marks conception. Abortive miscarriages are defined for those that occur after implantation.

In either case, Plan-B is not considered an abortive. It is considered a form of contraception.

Some individuals consider SB 97 to be in reaction to the US Department of Health and Human Services' (et. al.) decree that Plan-B should be available to children under 16, over the counter, without prescription, and without parental consent.

However, the Abortion Pill Bill was introduced November 2012, several months before the HHS announcement.

Individual Rights, OTC Medications, and Minors

The abortion pill and plan-b debates draw to a deeper concern in individual liberties. Many drugs restricted  to prescription-only controlled distribution may serve better if sold over-the-counter. Doing so with many drugs may assist in lowering prescription and medical costs of individual citizens.

Among the mass of OTC medications available is the "mystery drug" known as acetyl salicylic acid. This drug was little studied before being approved for over-the-counter sales. The side-effects were little known, and several have come to light in recent years. Its uses, as well, were little known. In the past few decades, new uses have been discovered. Acetylsalicylic acid is also known as "aspirin". It thins the blood. That is beneficial for individuals with high blood pressure as well as those with high cholesterol or arterial sclerosis. However, the drug can prove deadly for people engaging in other many other activities such as SCUBA diving, or Soldiers in a combat zone. Aspirin is also known to cause or aggravate peptic ulcers. It can aggravate many of the causes of rectal bleeding. It can also cause complications for menstruating women. In children, it can cause Reye's Syndrome.

Yet, this common OTC pain reliever is readily available over the counter. Most people understand the risks and do not overdose on it. That is because most adults are responsible.

Certain low-level antibiotics remain prescription-only in the US. One of the main concerns behind allowing low-dose penicillin available OTC is that there are people allergic to it. It seems reasonable. However, people are allergic to sesame seeds (and oil). It is still available in the grocery store. The same goes for peanuts and chocolate. While some nanny-state advocates would love to ban those, the fact remains they are still available at you local grocer. Those allergic to them simply stay away from them. The same should be true of penicillin.

Then come the arguments concerning minors' access to these medications. HHS wants Plan-B available OTC for minors. Yet schools will suspend or expel a minor student for taking an aspirin or acetaminophen pill. The answer to this is simple. As with alcohol, tobacco, and lottery tickets, it may, perhaps, be a good idea to prohibit sale to minors. it won't prevent them from getting them. It will, however, limit access, to a degree. It will also put the welfare of the child squarely where it belongs, with the parents. In addition, it would provide a degree of accountability among those who may sell such to minors.

Currently, a 12 year old can legally purchase a bottle of Nyquil and a bottle of Robotussin. Nyquil is 50 proof, slightly higher than common peach schnapps. It contains other drugs that affect the brain. In larger doses (such as a whole bottle), Robotussin is known to produce hallucinations. Kids can legally purchase these items and "get high".

The issue is one to consider. Several prescription-only drugs are such in order to inflate the price. Making them available OTC for responsible adults may make them much more affordable. Meanwhile, several OTC drugs are not for recreational use and may be easily abused, especially by minors. So, perhaps more drugs should be considered for OTC sales; OTC sales need to be better regulated in regards to purchase by minors.

In any case, women will need a full examination by a physician to get their abortion pills, if this proposed Texas bill passes.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Texas Second Amendment Two-Step Update

As Texas's 83rd Legislative Session wanes, there is a rush to finalize votes on Second Amendment and gun rights issues.

Some of these Second Amendment related bills recently passed both houses of the Texas Congress during a special Saturday session. They are headed for Governor Perry's desk for signature and execution. Others are still shuffling between the houses as the Senate or House amend the bills or clarify their language.

Second Amendment: Texas Concealed Carry Clarified

On Memorial Day 2013, the legislature sent the finalized, enrolled version of HB 3142 to the Governor. HB 3142 simplifies and clarifies much of Texas's concealed carry code. The bill basically strips segments of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code and other associated laws. Under the current code, the law can be interpreted to restrict concealed carry licenses to apply only to a select class of handgun the citizen qualified with when applying for the license. The new code, among other things, changes the language to read that qualifying with any size, caliber, or class of handgun satisfies the qualification requirement.

In other words, if the applicant qualified with a sub-compact 9mm, they can upgrade to a compact .45 caliber if they wish without having to re-qualify.

 SECTION 5.  Section 411.177(a), Government Code, is amended to read as follows: 
       (a)  The department shall issue a license to carry a concealed handgun to an applicant if the applicant meets all the eligibility requirements and submits all the application materials.  [The department may issue a license to carry handguns only of the categories for which the applicant has demonstrated proficiency in the form and manner required by the department.] The department shall administer the licensing procedures in good faith so that any applicant who meets all the eligibility requirements and submits all the application materials shall receive a license. The department may not deny an application on the basis of a capricious or arbitrary decision by the department.

The bill also clarifies the criteria for businesses, especially those that serve alcohol, to post notice and signs outside their premises.

SB 299 was signed by Governor Perry. SB 299 further restores Second Amendment protections to Concealed Carry License holders. It clarifies the law towards a more common-sense application. Previously, an accidental exposure or "pining" of a concealed firearm was a crime. The new law requires the presentation to be intentional and threatening in order to violate that portion of the law. 

Much of the confusing concealed carry laws could be best clarified if the state enacted "constitutional carry" laws such as the State of Arizona.

Campus Store and Transport, Still Infringes on Second Amendment?

Also over Memorial Day Weekend, the Texas 83rd Legislature passed and enrolled SB 1907. The final enrolled version of the bill as sent to Governor Perry is available here

The bill allows for concealed carry permit holders to store their firearms in their vehicles while on college campuses. It also allows for those license holders to exercise some miniscule amount of their Second Amendment protections by being allowed to bear those arms inside of their vehicles as they drive onto or from the parking areas on those campuses.

       (b)  An institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education in this state may not adopt or enforce any rule, regulation, or other provision or take any o action, including posting notice under Section 30.06,Penal Code, prohibiting or placing restrictions on the storage or transportation of a firearm or ammunition in a locked, privately owned or leased motor vehicle by a person, including a student enrolled at that institution, who holds a license to carry a concealed handgun under this subchapter and lawfully possesses the firearm or ammunition:

The perceived compromise to campus carry is still seen as a violation of Second Amendment protections. The proponents of concealed campus carry claim this "compromise" may be just lip-service that does nothing.Many advocates of "campus carry" claim this law does nothing to enable law-abiding citizens to defend themselves on college campuses. Most college campuses are "gun free zones". They are also havens for rapists and those who commit other violent crimes, who often do so with impunity.

Restoring The Second Amendment on College Campuses

HB 972, "Campus Carry" is still being debated in the State Senate. The bill has been slightly amended. It has passed favorably through the Senate committees. It is scheduled for a floor vote in the near future. HB 972 has much support among college student organizations such as Students For Concealed Carry.

Still, proponents of "Campus Carry" and restoring Second Amendment protections express perceptions that the bill does not go far enough in restoring those protections. The argument behind their reasoning is that the bill grants the administrations of those colleges too much latitude in regulating and infringing upon Second Amendment protections.

However, in the case of private universities, the owners still have their individual properties rights. They are still sovereign over the policies on their property as long as they do not violate higher laws. In that vein, the bill may be the best compromise short of a state-wide protection of "Constitutional Carry".

Second Amendment To Protect Students

The Texas legislature has also passed the controversial bills that may allow educators and administrators in public, charter, and private schools to be armed in order to defend themselves and the students.

SB 17, which extends Second Amendment protections to educators, was passed, enrolled, and forwarded to the Governor's desk for signature over the Memorial Day Weekend. The bill will allow schools that do not have armed police stationed in the schools to arm employees. The educators or administrators must already hold a concealed carry license and must undergo additional training in order to qualify for the special license.

On Wednesday May 22, 2013, the 83rd Legislature passed, enrolled, and forwarded SB 1857 to the Governor. SB 1857 directs the Department of Public Safety to establish a program to train and certify instructors who can train and certify those educational workers. The bill further stipulates the curricula both the instructors and the applicants must meet.

Opponents of the bill tend to pull on heart-strings, offering only an emotional argument that "guns don't belong in schools". Those opponents usually fail to address that for decades, many schools has marksmanship teams and kept working .22 rifles locked in storage rooms for that purpose. In those days, the school shootings these opponents fear were unheard of.

Texas Still Violates Second Amendment

The bill that would partially restore Constitutional Carry has yet to be considered by its respective committees. HB 1194 was left "pending in committee" on March 14, 2013. It was never allowed its votes. Citizens are denied the Second Amendment protection to bear arms without infringement. The bill would have allowed concealed carry license holders to openly carry their firearms, without having to conceal them. While even that law infringes upon the constitutional right to bear, it would have been a monumental step towards restoring Second Amendment rights. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Texas Congress Considers Fracking Resolution

State Representative Jim Keffer of Eastland, TX filed a "fracking" resolution on May 26, 2013.

HR 2853 opposes regulations and policies enacted by the US Bureau of Land Management. In the resolution, Keffer claims that BLM attempts to push a "one-size-fits-all" suite of regulations and policies concerning hydraulic fractured drilling, or "fracking", on Texas businesses. It the resolution challenges those regulations and policies as being based upon limited and incorrect data.

       WHEREAS, The bureau's proposal is arbitrary and capricious in nature, as evidenced by the lack of justification and by erroneous cost estimates and clearly overstated and unfounded benefits; the states will suffer from this rule, both by increased costs to their citizens and by the loss of substantial royalty revenues from federal lands as exploration and production companies divert investment to state and private land in lieu of federal land;

The bill later resolves to compel the federal government to revise or withdraw their policies and regulations in regards to the State of Texas.

       RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 83rd Texas Legislature hereby declare that the Texas Railroad Commission is the appropriate authority to regulate all oil and gas exploration and production activities in the State of Texas and that a federal one-size-fits-all regulatory approach ignores the local and regional differences among oil and natural gas operations that make state regulations more adaptive and effective; and, be it further
       RESOLVED, That the Texas House of Representatives respectfully urge the United States Department of the Interior to withdraw the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's proposed rule to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands, and to defer to the states on how best to address any health, environmental, or safety issues arising from hydraulic fracturing and related operations on these lands;
The full text of the House Resolution is available at this link.

Fracking: From Movies To Policies

In the documentary FrackNation, film makers Anne MacElhinney and Phelm McAleer reveal the inconsistencies, fallacies, and misrepresentation of evidence presented in films such as Gaslight. BLM seems to use unproven and faulty data sets displayed in Gasland to found their regulations without doing the actual scientific research.

Anyone choosing a "side" on this issue needs to watch both films. From there, actually read the studies and scientific findings that support each side. Include all of the available data before taking a side. 

Fracking has been around for decades. It seemed the stuff of science fiction when Author Ayn Rand used it in her acclaimed novel Atlas Shrugged. The movie trilogy based upon the novel features fracking, as well. Both display the dangers of too much government regulation and intervention when the owner of a large oil field shuts down production, sets his wells on fire, and declares "I'm leaving it as I found it," and "retires".

Some proponents of fracking cite similar reasoning to those who support the construction and use of the Keystone Pipeline. Those proponents argue for increased prosperity and opportunities. They also claim the suppression of those opportunities may be in effort to suppress market competition to certain high-level political donors such as Warren Buffet. Warren Buffet owns a major petroleum portage railway.

As with all things, there are many sides and perspectives to any issue. However, as with every issue, the facts are the facts, and the data is the data. It must all be examined. Intentionally ignoring important data sets or portions of a data set in order to push an agenda should be avoided. When taken in aggregate, it appears, for the time being, that the vilification of "fracking" is a false accusation based upon obfuscation with the intent of impeding prosperity.

Friday, May 24, 2013

TX Bill Regulates Gun Control Regulations

The Texas House of Representatives passed a soon-to-be law that restricts gun control regulations a municipality, county, district, town, or city may adopt or implement.

Texas law already states that local governments cannot adopt any gun control laws or statutes beyond those passed by the state legislature. SB 987 takes that state law a step further. The state may now file suit against any municipality or local government who seeks to adopt or implement such a law. The suit will result in an injunction, permanent or temporary, to prevent such an adoption.

In other words, cities such as San Antonio or Houston cannot pass their own gun control laws like cities in other states, such as Chicago, IL, have in the past. Should Mayor Castro of San Antonio succeed in pushing through a ban against AR-15 semi-automatic .223 rifles, the state of Texas can immediately order San Antonio to not enforce that law. Should Houston pass a law prohibiting armed guards or educators at schools, the Texas laws providing for those personnel supersedes the city ordinance. A district could then provide those armed security personnel, regardless of the city ordinance.

The law also applies to regulations governing shooting ranges, indoor or outdoor. The state regulations are the effective regulations. The city cannot arbitrarily ban ranges that meet the state requirements.

The full bill enrolled and forwarded to Governor Perry for signature is available at this link.

    (f)  The attorney general may bring an action in the name of the state to obtain a temporary or permanent injunction against a municipality adopting a regulation in violation of this section. 
       SECTION 2.  Section 236.002, Local Government Code, is amended to read as follows:
(a)  Notwithstanding any other law, including Chapter 251, Agriculture Code, a county may not adopt regulations relating to: 
             (1)  the transfer, private ownership, keeping, transportation, licensing, or registration of firearms, ammunition, or firearm supplies; or 
             (2)  the discharge of a firearm at a sport shooting range. 
       (b)  The attorney general may bring an action in the name of the state to obtain a temporary or permanent injunction against a county adopting a regulation, other than a regulation under Section 236.003, in violation of this section.


Could Bill Impose More Gun Control?

Like many acts of any legislature, be it state, local, or federal, this bill presents a double-edged sword.

Not only does the bill prevent local governments from imposing further gun control regulations, it prevents them from lifting infringements upon the Second Amendment.

For example, imagine a municipality near the border area determines that ranchers and farmers be allowed to openly carry their pistols to protect their property and family from drug cartels. The state could now automatically impose and injunction against that law. This would be despite the fact that the Texas restrictions against open-carry are infringements upon the US Constitution.

No town or municipality in Texas would be allowed to pass a city ordinance such as the one unanimously passed some years ago in Kennesaw, Georgia. The town of Kennesaw passed a referandum made city ordinance that mandates all property owners own a firearm to protect their property. Crime in the city dropped to near zero. The per capita violent crime rate in that town are among the lowest in the nation. Texas towns would not be allowed to pass similar local laws.

So, while the new bill prevents localities from further infringing upon citizens' Second Amendment protections, it also denies those same localities from better protecting those rights.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

For Some, Everyday Is Memorial Day

Around this time of year, several things seem to recur. My email inbox starts getting stuffed with stories about veterans, widows, and survivors. Many individuals and organizations start sending stories about loved ones and ancestors. Pictures, graphics, and digital copies of memorial paintings become much more prevalent on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Those who support our gallant men and women who serve or who have served add their own messages to postings calling for such love and support.

Meanwhile, stores start advertising their Memorial Day sales. Grocery stores push beer, brats, hot dogs, hamburger patties, and the like. Department stores attempt to sell grills, lawn chairs, and swimming gear. In many places, this coming weekend marks the opening of beaches and pools.

I check the condition of my flag. Our flag. The flag represents those most essential truths embedded within the natural rights. The flag symbolizes not only the US Constitution our military service members swore to support and defend against all enemies. It also symbolizes the spirit and intent behind its phrases, clauses, articles, and amendments. The best compendium of those ideas is found in the writings of John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, and John Locke. Among those are The Federalist Papers.

The flag represents those ideas so important that citizens volunteered to fight for them. They fought to their deaths for them. They paid the ultimate price so that we may enjoy those blessings of liberty.

The flag also represents love.

Flag Day is June 14th. Memorial Day is not about the flag. My attention to the flag is in reverence to those men and women. It is about my love of my country, our Constitution, my family, and those men and women.

You see, Memorial Day is not just the last Monday in May for me. It is every day. So, on the national holiday, everything intensifies. I'm not the only one who experiences this phenomenon, either.

I will admit that I am, at times, subject to minor bouts of survivor's guilt.

So, these days, I find myself brought to tears. Ask my wife, I don't cry, at least not when anybody can see. 

I miss some of these heroes every day of my life.

I miss my friends. It is just that simple. We took an oath. We did our duty. We did what we knew the American people expected of us. We refused to give them any less than our all. We also gave that promise to each other. I'm still here. They are not.

None I knew would regret their sacrifice. It is sad. But, it was unfortunately a necessary reality of war. War, as horrific and repulsive as it can be, is necessary to preserving the ideals every true American hold so dear. They would not regret their sacrifice as long as they can look down from heaven and smile, knowing we are still free.

Memorial Day isn't some Hallmark holiday to celebrate beach openings, a new grill, or a day off work. It is a solemn day to remember those who gave their lives.

Please do go out and picnic or BBQ. Have some fun. Enjoy those liberties. However, please do something else. Take an hour or so. The day is 24 hours long. These men and women gave their lives. Please, give them an hour of your time in return. If you are a church-going person, go to church and do something in remembrance. Catholics light candles. Druids spill a beer near a symbolic well. If church is not your thing, please go to a cemetery. While there, find the grave of one who served our nation in war. Say hello. Say Thanks.

As much as those of us still among the living appreciate your gratitude, we'd appreciate it more if you expressed it to those who paid for your liberty with their lives.


P-G Matuszak

Each year, I publish at least one essay about Memorial Day. Please read my past essays:

War Veterans Know The Meaning Of Memorial Day 
 Schuyler B. Haynes
Names of the Fallen, and WHY they should be honored
Memories of Love and Faith
Honor, Valor, Fidelity, Sacrifice, SOLDIERs: Shugart & Gordon 
Three Poems from a Warrior's Heart

CSCOPE Loses Battle, Fight Continues

CSCOPE is a controversial educational tool and networking suite used in over 800 school districts in the state of Texas. As of Monday May 20, 2013, the system will no longer offer lesson plans.

SB 1406 places online, digital, or other collaborative curricula, such as CSCOPE, under the auspices of the State Board of Education and subject to the review, audit, and approval process that text books and other educational media must undergo. As of May 22, 2013, SB 1046 has passed both houses of the Texas Legislature, been enrolled, and sent to Governor Perry for signature.

Sec. 8.0531.  INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS DEVELOPED BY A COLLABORATION OF REGIONAL EDUCATION SERVICE CENTERS. Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter or Section 8.001(c), instructional lessons developed as part of a curriculum management system by a regional education service center, acting alone or in collaboration with one or more other regional education service centers, shall be subject to the same review and adoption process as outlined in Section 31.022.

CSCOPE History of Controversy

The move comes after CSCOPE came under fire for several controversial curricula and lesson plans came to light. Among those controversial curricula was one lesson that mandated a US Citizen to stand and pledge allegiance to the country of Mexico. Others had math problems designed to indoctrinate elementary school students in wealth redistribution commonly used in socialist tyrannies.

State Senator Dan Patrick led a charge to place CSCOPE under state board of education oversight. Among the major concerns parents had with CSCOPE was a perceived lack of transparency in the system. Parents were denied access to the lesson plans and curricula CSCOPE offered. Parental rights, opponents of CSCOPE claim, were infringed. Parents were placed in a reactive role, unable to screen educational tools and lessons their children would be exposed to until after the kids were subjected to them.

Many opponents of CSCOPE argue that the program and software suite was being used as a means to "backdoor" the Common Core State Standards Initiative (Common Core) into Texas schools.

The Texas 83rd legislative session has passed several bills banning Common Core from Texas schools. Some believe that this may have spurred some advocates of Common Core to sneak Common Core Curricula items into the CSCOPE system.

CSCOPE Will Still Be Used

Though CSCOPE will no longer share lesson plans, the program isn't going away. Instead, it is being reconfigured to contain schedules and tips for assisting teachers in enabling students to meet gateways and hurdles.

CSCOPE was not outlawed. Instead, Senator Dan Patrick suggested that more oversight be given to all digital and online educational tools used by educational institutions. CSCOPE is but one online educational tool available to educators, parents, and students.

The Texas Tribune published this article on the CSCOPE decision and reactions from both sides of the issue.

Royka's Ramblings: A Soldier's Thoughts on Memorial Day

Arlington National Cemetery
Courtesy of the US Army
Photo is public domain

Today I choose to write because once again I am struggling with the guilt of my surviving my combat service unharmed and getting to go home.  My life is a story in contradictions and things I have done or not done, it seems that I am adrift without those anchors I once held to so tightly. I do not feel sorry or ashamed for myself as that is a waste of the priceless gift I have been given by my gods, life.  There are so many days now that I miss what I once had, mostly my identity as a soldier and a servant to our great people.
I miss teaching the young faces and hearing the grumbles of those just starting out on their service as a soldier.  I miss my brothers and sisters in arms especially those whom I had the distinct honor and privilege to serve alongside directly throughout my 18 years of military service. I try to honor them each day by being thankful that I live and was blessed by knowing them. I find my body getting older and things don’t work as well as they did back when I was 19 and felt immortal. 
Yet I see the cycle move endlessly about me as I view the world through those eyes of mine that have seen many things.  The thing I have found most interesting about my life since being honorably discharged from active duty service, is that I see what my dad surely must have seen after his departure from the Army. I watch at a distance a world that I can never be fully a part of ever again. I am forever changed not just by my service but what I did as a soldier in both peace and war. I do not resent those whom do not understand why my eyes mist with tears when I return to a place I will never wholly leave behind.
I now know what it is that all veterans carry within themselves especially those whom survive to return home.  I know now what it is my father saw in those moments he drifted back to another time and place. I know the shame he felt at being a “lucky one” who made it home, only reinforced by a nation that could not separate the war from the warrior. I am eternally grateful to my fellow citizens whom have so courteously and with such heartfelt honesty thanking those whom have served, are serving, or will serve in the future. Our nation learned many painful lessons during the Vietnam War and we still have much to learn and remember.
I remember every single moment and I each day offer prayers to my gods that my fellow warriors will never be forgotten so long as I remember, I cannot forget.  My eyes stream with tears at how fortunate I am, when so many others paid the highest cost in the service of their country. It is the least I can do for having that gift that they gave so nobly and freely to all of us. We owe it to them and ourselves to reflect each day on what we have that truly matters most our humanity. 
The events that propelled our nation into its current conflict have been largely forgotten by most. It greatly hurts me deep inside my soul that so many of our warriors, men and women, linger slowly fading into a background of the daily pressures of life.  This is not out of a gross negligence on the part of everyday citizens but a larger issue that of we must never forget those whom have borne the scars of war. Less than 1 percent of our nation has served in the current conflicts that our nation has fought in recent memory.
What shames me more is that so many of us forget the costs paid to ensure our freedom is kept intact. We live in a world now that seems more chaotic and dangerous than ever. Yet we still move onwards towards a future that is often unclear to us till we have passed through it and it becomes the past. We argue over political and social viewpoints with an ever increasing hostility towards any whom may disagree with our point of view. This to me is the greatest tragedy of all as we seem to forget those bitter lessons history teaches us and so few now have to bear its weight till their dying day.
May 30th is a day set aside to remember and honor our fallen heroes, who have come from every place upon this earth, every walk of life, and ultimately chose a life of service to others.  Yet I watch those whom see it as merely a day to go shopping or enjoy a barbecue with friends, not taking a moment to reflect on what it means to be free.  Every day is a day of remembrance for our nation’s veterans; we lived those moments and cannot ever forget them even when we want to.  
So I ask all whom read these words, remember and never forget the price paid and sacrifices laid upon the altar of liberty by so many.  Remember not just those whom served directly but those whom are truly never seen. The mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, and loved ones whom bear that memory of that sacrifice, they deserve your respect and thanks as well.  Ultimately Memorial Day for me is a renewal of my sacred vow to remember and never forget the humanity and the human dignity of all whom have sacrificed so much in the service of our people, our nation, and our way of life.
That is why we have fought and bled our bodies, our hearts, and our souls for that is the most perfect distillation of our nation’s ideals.  That is that all humanity has the right to be treated with respect and dignity no matter the situation. It is an ideal that we must never stop striving to achieve a state of perfection but when we fall or fail to remind ourselves why it is important in the struggle.
In closing I ask everyone before you hurl an epithet, insult, or slur at anyone remember what price was paid for that human dignity to be freely expressed. Remember that is a fellow human being and we are a people steeped in the idea that all humanity has a sacred right to be treated with dignity and respect. We will not always agree with each other nor will we always remember to be respectful of one another. But we are all human beings and thus deserving of that most basic right of our human dignity.

 Editorial originally published at Jared Michael Royka's Juxta-Suppose . Reprinted with permission from the author. Copyright 2013 by Jared Michael Royka.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Veto? Bill Targets NPOs For Political Donations

On May 14, 2013 the Texas 83rd Legislature passed a bill requiring Non-Profits to report all political donations if they total over $25,000.

             (3)  makes one or more political expenditures, excluding expenditures authorized by Section 253.098, 253.099, 253.100, or 253.104, that in the aggregate exceed $25,000 during a calendar year.

Furthermore, SB 346 requires itemization of contributions exceeding $1,000.

       Sec. 254.283.  CONTENTS OF REPORT. (a)  Itemization of a contribution under Section 254.031(a)(1) is required only if the contribution exceeds $1,000 during the reporting period. 
       (b)  The first report required to be filed in a calendar year in which the $25,000 threshold under Section 254.281(a)(3) is exceeded must include all political contributions accepted and all political expenditures made in that calendar year.
Of note, labor unions are exempt from reporting political donations.

       (b)  This subchapter does not apply to a labor organization or any subordinate entity or associated account of a labor organization.

Though the bill has been forwarded to the Governor's Office for action, Governor Rick Perry has not yet signed it into law. The full enrolled version of the bill forwarded to the Governor is available this link.

Call To Veto:  Concerns Over Targeting Political Donations

Erick Erickson of Red State Magazine (and WSB Radio in Atlanta, GA) published an editorial on the bill.

Mr. Erickson makes several key points in his argument for veto of this bill. Perhaps one of the key points he made was that reporting and releasing the names of donors could bring unethical and illegal targeting against these organizations or their individual donors.

Mr. Erickson cites such activity in Wisconsin and California in the recent past. In addition, the recent revelations of IRS targeting specific groups for special auditing aggravates these examples.

Beyond Mr. Erickson's well-stated debate, there are other issues proponents of a veto add.

One such item of consideration is the US Supreme Court's decision in the controversial Citizens United case. The US Supreme Court decision may apply to potential misuse and targeting promoted by the SB 346  mandate to report all political donations by non-profit groups.

Another argument for veto may include 14th Amendment violations. The bill targets specific groups who are not conducting illicit activity. The political donations reporting law could, feasibly, be considered to deny just and equal treatment under the law. This point is exacerbated by the final argument in favor of veto.

Among the several stated reasons to veto the political donations reporting bill, SB 346, is the exemption for labor unions. It is public knowledge that the largest labor unions in the US make routine political donations on behalf of their members. Their contributions almost exclusively go towards one political party. Exempting labor unions from these political donation accountability laws appears to specifically target those NPOs who donate to the opposing party. The bill, therefore, is biased and unethical. Should labor unions also be required to report political donations and contributions, the bill would be far more equitable.

In addition, most labor unions make these political donations regardless of the political ideology of their members. They collect the union membership dues and make political donations from those dues.

Based upon the several questions and counter-points to the bill, it will be interesting to see Governor Perry's resulting actions. His decision could have a huge impact on any future political aspirations.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Drug Testing For Unemployment Subsidies

The Texas state Senate passed SB 11, a bill to initiate drug testing for food stamps and other government assistance programs. The bill is set for a floor vote in the Texas House in the near term.

A second senate bill, SB 21 takes drug testing a step further. The bill sets conditions for requiring  that testing. If the person seeking unemployment subsidies is in a field whose employers routinely require drug testing as conditions for employment, the unemployment office will also conduct testing as part of eligibility screening for those subsidies.

The gist of the bill indicates that if the applicant's former employer conducts drug tests, the unemployment office will follow suit.

(a)  The commission by rule shall adopt a drug screening and testing program as part of the requirements for the receipt of benefits under this subtitle by an individual to whom Section 207.021(b-1) applies. The program must: 
             (1)  comply with the drug testing requirements of 49 C.F.R. Part 382 or other similar national requirements for drug testing programs recognized by the commission; and 
             (2)  be designed to protect the rights of benefit applicants and recipients.

A positive, or suspicious result of a drug test could mean denial of unemployment benefits. The applicant may return 4 weeks or more later and re-apply. That application will include a subsequent drug test.

An individual whose drug screening assessment indicates a reasonable likelihood of use by the individual of a substance subject to regulation under that chapter must submit to and pass a drug test administered by or on behalf of the commission to establish the individual's eligibility for benefits under this subtitle.  An individual who is determined to have failed a drug test under this subsection under a final determination or decision made by the commission under this section is not eligible to receive benefits under this subtitle until the individual has passed a subsequent drug test administered by or on behalf of the commission not earlier than four weeks after the date the individual submitted to the failed drug test.

Positive results from a drug test are not an automatic disqualifying factor, though. There are certain mitigating aspects and appeals. For instance, if the applicant is enrolled in a drug rehabilitation program, they may, under certain circumstances, still receive unemployment benefits.

      (c)  Notwithstanding Subsection (b), an individual is not disqualified from receiving benefits based on the individual's failure to pass a drug test if, on the basis of evidence presented by the individual, the commission determines that: 
             (1)  the individual is participating in a treatment program for drug abuse; 
             (2)  the individual enrolls in and attends a treatment program for drug abuse not later than the seventh day after the date the individual receives initial notice of the failed drug test result; or 
             (3)  the failure to pass the test is caused by the use of a substance that was prescribed by a health care practitioner as medically necessary for the individual. 
       (d)  The commission by rule shall prescribe procedures for an appeal and the retaking of a failed drug test by an individual under this section.

If the applicant appeals and the initial test is deemed to have been a "false positive", then the Texas Workforce Commission must reimburse the applicant the costs of the tests.

             (2)  full payment by the commission of the costs of the retaking of failed drug tests by any individual who contests the individual's failed drug test as a false positive result and passes a subsequently taken test.
SB 21, drug testing to receive unemployment benefits, faces a Texas House vote some time this week. The full text of the engrossed bill sent to the House is available at this link.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Why Happy Clingers' 'Love' Guns

Why we "love" our guns.

The reasons seem to escape so-called "bleeding hearts". Those of us who hold the Second Amendment protections so dear "get it". Those who question "why do you need a gun?" simply don't want to acknowledge the real world around us. 

Those who promote infringing or repealing the Second Amendment portray law-abiding gun owners as "violent kooks" or "bitter clingers". Some of those that understand our reasoning want a tyrannical government in which they are part of the oppressive oligarchy. Others who understand our reasoning but promote infringing upon that natural right wish for an environment more permissive for violent criminals. Those that don't buy into their false rhetoric and propaganda.

 We appreciate the engineering and aesthetics, sure.


 Human beings love art and engineering. Good engineering is a form of pragmatic art. We can look at the Capitol Building in DC. It has a pragmatic function. It has offices, meeting rooms, and the congressional floors. However, its iconic image is impressive and beautiful. The architectural engineering is both art and function.

It is the same with firearms. Older weapons carry with them history. You can look at an M-1 from World War I and appreciate its place in history. You can also look at a "Peacemaker" that was personalized and decorated in a similar way. You feel its place and role in history when it helped "tame" the "wild west". 

Today, we can marvel at the engineering and inventive beauty behind several designs. For example, Kahr makes a .45 cal. concealable pistol. In the mid-20th century, such a feat seemed unimaginable. Yet, today we have a pistol small enough to comfortably conceal that won't remove your hand from your wrist on the range.

Another great and aesthetic marvel is the gun made from a 3D printer. Just 10 years ago, this concept was pure science fiction, like teleporter beams in Star Trek.

We like the feel of the recoil and the sense of achievement when we see the bullets strike the center of the target on the range. 


Competitive marksmanship takes a lot of practice and a lot of work. Like martial arts and most other sports, it takes discipline and determination. Even the basics of marksmanship takes practice to acquire. 

I taught rifle marksmanship to young lieutenants in the US Army. Many had been through basic marksmanship courses already. However, most were at a level they celebrated making just the minimum qualification standards. Through 4 days of intense, hands-on training, I helped many of them greatly improve their scores. 

There is a sense of achievement when a neophyte shooter puts those first few rounds downrange and hits somewhere on the target. As they improve, so do their spirits. Determination supplants the initial apprehension and fear of the noise and recoil. Familiarity brings respect of the engineering. It also makes the shooter safer. Somebody using a gun who is afraid of it is unsafe. Respect of the weapon along with familiarity with how they work makes them safer to handle. 

Like with martial arts, the more a marksman practices, the more confident they become. Marksmanship isn't just pointing and pulling a trigger. It involves how you position your body. It involves breath control an maintaining a clear head. It involves maintaining firearms. It includes handling the weapon safely, knowing how to load, unload, and clear a firearm. It also brings knowledge of your own capabilities and vulnerabilities. Then, just like in martial arts, when you are confident in what you can do, you become aware of what is really necessary to do. Just because you know you can land a back-spin kick against the side of a guy's head faster than he has a chance of blocking it doesn't mean you have to. You know you can if you need to. The need to do so, however, becomes lower. You know you can, so you can just smile and nod knowing this "potential threat" really is not a threat.

It is the same with marksmanship. You have the gun. You can use the gun. You are confident that you can defeat the perceived threat. You are prepared if it becomes a real threat. The threat diminishes. Your fear is abated. Nobody gets hurt, and the gun is never taken from its holster. 

We like the food we bring home from a good hunt, sure.


Hunting has been a human survival tool since Grog first sharpened a stick and learned he could throw a rock. Today, humans have advanced to the point most of our food comes from agricultural activities such as ranching and farming. 

However, hunting still remains. For many, it is an outdoor pastime and hobby. However, it still serves several purposes. We tend not to herd several animals that are still "good eatin'", such as deer. We hunt them. 

In many areas, the deer population has grown to dangerous levels. If not reduced through a "natural predator", their population will threaten not only agricultural efforts of humans but the habitats of other animals. Hunting them keeps their numbers at levels good for the species and good for the environment. 

The same goes for wild hogs and boars. 

The practice also allays concerns over human survival should technology or government fail causing civilization to fall into dystopia such as in "The Walking Dead". 

But those are not why we "love" our guns.


We "love" our guns because we love what they better enable us to protect:

We love our families.


That should be a given. As humans, we are family-oriented social creatures. Most religions include some variation of honoring your family name, your parents, and doing their reputations proud. 

It is a natural inclination to advance our species. It's instinct. For humans, that means our families. We look to our children to continue our lines in order to preserve our ancestry. 

We love them. So, we want them to thrive, protected from harm. 

To do so, the responsibility falls first on families and individuals to protect themselves. Additional law enforcement, protection, and security personnel are supplementary to those efforts. They are not meant to be the primary means. In the United States, the Supreme Court decision in the Gonzales v Castle Rock case drives that point home. 

We love our US Constitution and the American Dream.


Is the Constitution perfect? No. However, it still stands as the best foundational and supreme law of any land on the planet. No other system of government promotes individual liberty and prosperity as well. The US Constitution is designed to grant a necessary centralized federal government with very limited powers and authority necessary to enable a national based upon the rule of law, not the whims of man. 

The American Dream is one of individual opportunity to pursue happiness. John Locke defined that pursuit as the acquisition, trade, and accrual of property, be it physical or intellectual. We thrive on the fruits of our labors. To do so, we must be afforded the means to protect those fruits from vandalism or theft. Our very lives are dependent upon what we build, grow, and achieve. The American Dream is that we can succeed and thrive on our individual efforts or fail, trying, without some tyrant hindering our efforts. 

We understand that there is no such thing as a free lunch. We don't want somebody acquiring a cheap lunch by using force to deny us the fruits of our efforts in providing our own.

We love our natural rights of life, liberty and property (also called the pursuit of happiness). 


As already illustrated, our natural rights are intertwined with our survival as a species, the supreme laws of our land, and the American Dream.

Part of the natural right to life is the ability to protect it, to fight for it, to defend it. Only with the inherent right to defend our lives can we enjoy the natural right to have them.

Liberty is our freedom to live and enjoy other rights and privileges as long as we do not infringe upon those of others. There are forces of evil in the world. That is a fact. There are those who seek to deprive us of our liberties. We should not seek them out to eradicate them, though. That could easily turn to tyranny and deprivation of those very liberties to others. 

However, our liberties must be guarded and protected. That requires individuals to be allowed to arm themselves adequately enough to repel any tyranny or evil that attempts to steal our liberties. 

The Pursuit of Happiness is property, be it intellectual, physical, or spiritual. We work hard to acquire it. Our labors and the trade of portions of our live to provide goods and services is compensated monetarily. That compensation can then be traded to acquire properties we are not able to create ourselves, such as some food stuffs or automobiles or iPads. 

Nobody should be allowed the right to take those fruits of labors, that pursuit of happiness, from another by force. To prevent that, reasonable, hard-working, law-abiding citizens require the means to protect themselves and their families.

The right to keep and bear arms is one of the natural rights, bestowed by our creator. It is the means to insure the other natural rights from being infringed or stolen by force. The Second Amendment does not grant that right. In its own wording, it preserves and protects that natural right.

And we are willing to die for them. 


No, we are not willing to die for our guns. 

Historically, though, we are willing to die over the ideals of natural, individual rights. Brave men and women throughout history have placed their own lives and well-being on the line to defend those rights of others. Molly Pitcher did so. Patrick Henry did so. Sergeant First Class Schuyler Haynes did so. 

Senator Ted Cruz did so. He went to battle to defend individual rights to include the Second Amendment when he was part of the litigation team that won the Heller v DC Supreme Court trial. 

The tradition continues. Those who claim to "support the troops" must, regardless of political party affiliation, then also support what those military service members swore a solemn oath to support and defend. Their first loyalty  is to the US Constitution and the base ideology explained by the Federalist Papers. That means, in its purest form, individual natural rights of each individual US Citizen.

More than that, we pray we are able to protect them so that we don't have to. 


All those things we hold so dear and precious must be guarded, defended, championed, and protected. 

We don't love our guns, folks. We love those people, freedoms, natural rights, prosperity, opportunities, and dreams. Guns are just the current, modern tools that help us to defend those things we hold most dear. 

That is why we love our guns.


Now do you "get it"?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Texas Moves To Restore Gun Rights

Several gun rights bills aimed at restoring the Second Amendment to Texas citizens have been circulation Texas's 83rd Legislature.

Some of these bill were previously stonewalled and left "pending in committee". Others, such as the one regarding storage and transportation of firearms on college campuses, are regarded as ineffective attempts at compromise.

Texas has been doing this legislative two-step regarding gun rights since the Sandy Hook shooting in Newton, CT.

Three bills recently had positive movement. They appear to be headed towards passage and execution by Governor Perry.

Protecting Gun Rights: Nullification of Seizures

HB 1314 better insures gun rights and Second Amendment protection by prohibiting law enforcement officers and government officials from seizing firearms. Under this bill, it will be a misdemeanor for any law enforcement or government official to take away a firearm under any law that is not part of Texas state statutes. For example, if a federal law were passed to seize any rifle that looked like an AR15, it would be a crime against the officer to seize the firearm.

       Sec. 46.16.  UNLAWFUL SEIZURE OF FIREARM. (a) A person who is an officer or employee of the United States, this state, or a political subdivision of this state commits an offense if the person, while acting under color of the person's office or employment, intentionally or knowingly seizes a firearm as permitted or required by a federal statute, order, rule, or regulation that imposes a prohibition, restriction, or other regulation on firearms that does not exist under the laws of this state.

The full text of the engrossed bill is available here. HB 1314 already passed the Texas House. It is on the Senate intent calender and will likely be passed within the next few days.

State Officials Will Not Infringe on Gun Rights

HB 928 appears similar to HB 1314. Like HB 1314, 928 has passed the House and is on the Senate intent calender. It also is likely to pass the legislature and head to Governor Perry within the next week.

HB 928 makes is a crime for any government official to assist federal officers in enforcing any federal infringement of gun rights that is not also a Texas state law. The organizations are also prohibited from accepting any funding from a federal program directed at restricting or seizing firearms or accessories.

       (b)  An agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state, and a law enforcement officer or other person employed by an agency of this state or a political subdivision of this state, may not contract with or in any other manner provide assistance to a federal agency or official with respect to the enforcement of a federal statute, order, rule, or regulation purporting to regulate a firearm, a firearm accessory, or firearm ammunition if the statute, order, rule, or regulation imposes a prohibition, restriction, or other regulation, such as a capacity or size limitation or a registration requirement, that does not exist under the laws of this state.

       (c)  A political subdivision of this state may not receive state grant funds if the political subdivision adopts a rule, order, ordinance, or policy under which the political subdivision requires the enforcement of any federal statute, order, rule, or regulation described by Subsection (b) or, by consistent actions, requires the enforcement of any federal statute, order, rule, or regulation described by Subsection (b). State grant funds for the political subdivision shall be denied for the fiscal year following the year in which a final judicial determination in an action brought under this section is made that the political subdivision has intentionally required the enforcement of any federal statute, order, rule, or regulation described by Subsection (b).

The full text of the engrossed bill to be voted on by the Senate is available here.

Gun Rights On College Campuses

As graduates prepare to cross the stage at Texas A&M University, San Antonio Campus, some of them will, undoubtedly, wish this bill were passed years ago.

Texas nears passing the controversial "campus carry" bills that would allow concealed carry licensees to carry on college campuses. With violent crime on college campuses on the rise, this appears the best solution to protect students. Across the nation, most states ban firearms on college campuses. Some believe  that these "gun free zones" create an environment permissive to rape, armed robbery, and other violent crimes.

HB 972 will allow concealed carry licensees to carry concealed on campuses. It allows for private colleges to apply further restrictions with the consent of the student body. Within reason, colleges may request exemptions for select buildings and structures on the campuses.

The Senate companion bill, identical in text, is still stalled in committee. However, campus carry and gun rights advocates are watching HB 972's progress in the Senate. The bill (full engrossed text available here) will see a floor vote within the next few days.

Some Gun Rights advocates believe the new law gives too much power to the colleges. However, especially in the cases of private universities, property-owners' rights must apply as well.