Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama on Firearms

This letter came to me from a friend in Illinois:

October 10, 2008

Fellow Sportsman,

Hello, my name is Rich Pearson and I have been active in the firearm rights movement for over 40 years. For the past 15 years, I have served in the Illinois state capitol as the chief lobbyist for the Illinois State Rifle Association.

I lobbied Barack Obama extensively while he was an Illinois State Senator. As a result of that experience, I know Obama’s attitudes toward guns and gun owners better than anyone. The truth be told, in all my years in the Capitol I have never met a legislator who harbors more contempt for the law-abiding firearm owner than Barack Obama.

Although Obama claims to be an advocate for the 2nd Amendment, his voting record in the Illinois Senate paints a very different picture. While a state senator, Obama voted for a bill that would ban nearly every hunting rifle, shotgun and target rifle owned by Illinois citizens. That same bill would authorize the state police to raid homes of gun owners and forcibly confiscate banned guns. Obama supported a bill that would shut down law-abiding firearm manufacturers including Springfield Armory, Armalite, Rock River Arms and Les Baer.

Obama also voted for a bill that would prohibit law-abiding citizens from purchasing more than one gun per month. Without a doubt, Barack Obama has proven himself to be an enemy of the law abiding firearm owner. At the same time, Obama has proven himself to be a friend to the hardened criminal. While a state senator, Obama voted 4 times against legislation that would allow a homeowner to use a firearm in defense of home and family.

Does Barack Obama still sound to you like a “friend” of the law-abiding gun owner?

And speaking of friends, you can always tell a person by the company they keep. Obama counts among his friends the Rev. Michael Pfleger - a renegade Chicago priest who has openly called for the murder of gun shop owners and pro-gun legislators. Then there is his buddy Richard Daley, the mayor of Chicago who has declared that if it were up to him, nobody would be allowed to own a gun. And let’s not forget Obama’s pal George Soros - the guy who has pumped millions of dollars into the UN’s international effort to disarm law-abiding citizens.

Obama has shown that he is more than willing to use other people’s money to fund his campaign to take your guns away from you. While a board member of the leftist Joyce Foundation, Barack Obama wrote checks for tens of millions of dollars to extremist gun control organizations such as the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and the Violence Policy Center.

Does Barack Obama still sound to you like a “friend” of the law-abiding gun owner?

By now, I’m sure that many of you have received mailings from an organization called “American Hunters and Shooters Association(AHSA)” talking about what a swell fellow Obama is and how he honors the 2nd Amendment and how you will never have to worry about Obama coming to take your guns. Let me make it perfectly clear - everything the AHSA says about Obama is pure hogwash. The AHSA is headed by a group of left-wing elitists who subscribe to the British view of hunting and shooting. That is, a state of affairs where hunting and shooting are reserved for the wealthy upper-crust who can afford guided hunts on exclusive private reserves. The AHSA is not your friend, never will be.

In closing, I’d like to remind you that I’m a guy who has actually gone nose to nose with Obama on gun rights issues. The Obama I know cannot even begin to identify with this nation’s outdoor traditions. The Obama I know sees you, the law abiding gun owner, as nothing but a low-class lummox who is easily swayed by the flash of a smile and a ration of rosy rhetoric. The Obama I know is a stony-faced liar who has honed his skill at getting what he wants - so long as people are willing to give it to him.

That’s the Barack Obama I know.

(original signed)
Richard A. Pearson
Executive Director
Illinois State Rifle Association

Illinois State Rifle Association
420 E. Locust, P.O. Box 637, Chatsworth, IL 60921
Phone: (815) 635-3198 or (815) 635-3166 Fax: (815) 635-3723 Website:

Dedicated to education, safety training and support
of Illinois firearm owners

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Agriculture is BIG in South Carolina!

Study: Agribusiness is a $34 billion economic engine in state

Agriculture, forestry eclipse manufacturing and toursim as S.C.'s cash cow

A study conducted by the South Carolina Agribusiness Council and the South Carolina Forestry Association shows agriculture and forestry have eclipsed manufacturing and tourism as the state’s largest economic segment.

Harry Miley of Miley Gallo and Associates, a Greenville-based economic consulting firm, estimated that South Carolina’s agribusiness, which includes all aspects of farming and forestry, annually contributes $33.9 billion to the South Carolina economy and employs an estimated 200,000 residents.

“The bottom line is that South Carolina’s oldest industry has entered the 21st century with great promise in the emerging economy,” Miley said in a statement.

And, while technology and manufacturing remain at the forefront of many state and county economic initiatives, the role of agribusiness and the need to encourage local agricultural production and consumer awareness should not be underestimated, he said.

“South Carolina’s agribusiness is so much larger than most people realize,” said Evin Evans, co-owner of Split Creek Dairy Farm in Anderson. “Producing, packaging and transporting food is an enormous industry and contributes a great deal to the state economy in terms of tax revenue and job creation.”

Evans said that “agribusiness, which is everything from growing food to raising cattle to insuring farm equipment or selling supplies, is the jewel in South Carolina’s own backyard.”

Edgar Woods of the Palmetto Agribusiness Council echoed Evans’ sentiment.

“The industry that provides consumers with food is one of the dominant economic forces in our state and the challenge remains for our leaders to continue encouraging the development of new technologies and methods in support of that industry,” Woods said.

Besides the economic impact, another less obvious benefit is derived from the consumption of locally grown food — economic independence and security.

“Just like foreign oil, we can ill afford to become dependent on foreign food,” Evans said. “It is harder to inspect products for contamination when they are grown in foreign soil. It also costs a great deal more in terms of logistics, and the only ones who gain are the multinational food distribution companies.”

Jim Smith, founding director of South Carolina’s Upstate School of Sustainable Agriculture, said consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the origins of their food, from where it is grown to how it is fertilized and stored.

“The demand from restaurant owners and consumers for locally grown, organic food is outstripping supply,” Smith said.

He cited a variety of factors are contributing to the increased demand, including a desire many consumers have to buy local, organic produce rather than what is shipped in from outside sources.

Forestry officials said emerging technologies for alternative fuels will help the agribusiness sector grow even faster.

“This is just the beginning compared to what we are likely to see in the coming decades,” said Bob Scott, president of the S.C. Forestry Association, in a statement. “Whether its carbon credits or biofuels, South Carolina will be on the cutting edge.”

State Rep. Jeff Duncan, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, called on members of the state legislature to look closely at the results of the Miley study.

“Agriculture should not be seen as what our state used to be,” Duncan said in a statement. “It’s the backbone of our economy.

“As elected officials, we have a responsibility to do all we can to support growth in the agribusiness sector,” he said. “Our future depends on it.”

To learn more about “agribusiness” in South Carolina, go to

Monday, October 20, 2008

Justice Clarence Thomas is Right on the Money

From the Wall Street Journal - Monday, October 20, 2008
How to Read the Constitution

The following is an excerpt from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's Wriston Lecture to the Manhattan Institute last Thursday:

When John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address, "Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country," we heard his words with ears that had been conditioned to receive this message and hearts that did not resist it. We heard it surrounded by fellow citizens who had known lives of sacrifice and hardships from war, the Great Depression and segregation. All around us seemed to ingest and echo his sentiment and his words. Our country and our principles were more important than our individual wants, and by discharging our responsibilities as citizens, neighbors, and students we would make our country better. It all made sense.

Today, we live in a far different environment. My generation, the self-indulgent "me" generation, has had a profound effect on much around us. Rarely do we hear a message of sacrifice -- unless it is a justification for more taxation and transfers of wealth to others. Nor do we hear from leaders or politicians the message that there is something larger and more important than the government providing for all of our needs and wants -- large and small. The message today seems more like: Ask not what you can do for yourselves or your country, but what your country must do for you.

This brings to mind the question that seems more explicit in informed discussions about political theory and implicit in shallow political speeches. What is the role of government? Or more to the point, what is the role of our government? Interestingly, this is the question that our framers answered more than 200 years ago when they declared our independence and adopted our written Constitution. They established the form of government that they trusted would be best to preserve liberty and allow a free people to prosper. And that it has done for over two centuries. Of course, there were major flaws such as the issue of slavery, which would eventually lead to a civil war and casualties of fellow citizens that dwarf those of any of the wars that our country has since been involved in.

Though we have amended the Constitution, we have not changed its structure or the core of the document itself. So what has changed? That is the question that I have asked myself and my law clerks countless times during my 17 years on the court.

As I have traveled across the country, I have been astounded just how many of our fellow citizens feel strongly about their constitutional rights but have no idea what they are, or for that matter, what the Constitution says. I am not suggesting that they become Constitutional scholars -- whatever that means. I am suggesting, however, that if one feels strongly about his or her rights, it does make sense to know generally what the Constitution says about them. It is at least as easy to understand as a cell phone contract -- and vastly more important.

The Declaration of Independence sets out the basic underlying principle of our Constitution. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . ."

The framers structured the Constitution to assure that our national government be by the consent of the people. To do this, they limited its powers. The national government was to be strong enough to protect us from each other and from foreign enemies, but not so strong as to tyrannize us. So, the framers structured the Constitution to limit the powers of the national government. Its powers were specifically enumerated; it was divided into three co-equal branches; and the powers not given to the national government remained with the states and the people. The relationship between the two political branches (the executive and the legislative) was to be somewhat contentious providing checks and balances, while frequent elections would assure some measure of accountability. And, the often divergent interests of the states and the national government provided further protection of liberty behind the shield of federalism. The third branch, and least dangerous branch, was not similarly constrained or hobbled.

Since Marbury v. Madison the federal judiciary has assumed the role of the interpreter and, now, final arbiter of our Constitution. But, what rules must judges follow in doing so? What informs, guides and limits our interpretation of the admittedly broad provisions of the Constitution? And, more directly, what restrains us from imposing our personal views and policy preferences on our fellow citizens under the guise of Constitutional interpretation?

To assure the independence of federal judges, the framers provided us with life tenure and an irreducible salary -- though inflation has found a way around the latter. This independence, in turn, was to assure our neutrality and impartiality, which are at the very core of judging -- and being a judge. Yet, this independence can also insulate a judge from accountability for venturing beyond the proper role of a judge. But, what exactly is the proper role of a judge? We must understand that before we can praise or criticize a judge. In every endeavor from economics to games there is some way to measure performance.

As important as our Constitution is, there is no one accepted way of interpreting it. Indeed, for some commentators, it seems that if they like or prefer a particular policy or conduct, then it must be constitutional; while the policies that they do not prefer or like are unconstitutional. Obviously, this approach cannot be right. But, it certainly is at the center of the process of selecting judges. It goes something like this. If a judge does not think that abortion is best as a matter of policy or personal opinion, then the thought is that he or she will find it unconstitutional; while the judge who thinks it is good policy will find it constitutional. Those who think this way often seem to believe that since this is the way they themselves think, everyone must be doing the same thing. In this sense, legal realism morphs into legal cynicism. Certainly this is no way to run a railroad, not to mention interpret the Constitution. . . .

Let me put it this way; there are really only two ways to interpret the Constitution -- try to discern as best we can what the framers intended or make it up. No matter how ingenious, imaginative or artfully put, unless interpretive methodologies are tied to the original intent of the framers, they have no more basis in the Constitution than the latest football scores. To be sure, even the most conscientious effort to adhere to the original intent of the framers of our Constitution is flawed, as all methodologies and human institutions are; but at least originalism has the advantage of being legitimate and, I might add, impartial.

Right-on, Justice Thomas, Right-on!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Southern States Energy Board

I was honored to receive from the Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell an appointment, effective November 10th, to the Southern States Energy Board.

According to the Code Section 13-7-420, this Board is charged with the power to, among other things:

a) Ascertain and analyze on a continuing basis the position of the South with respect to energy, energy-related industries and environmental concerns.

b) Encourage the development, conservation and responsible use of energy and energy-related facilities, installations and products as part of a balanced economy and healthy environment.

I am excited about this appointment and look forward to serving the State of South Carolina in this capacity as we continue to meet our energy needs for today and the future.

Thoughts on "Going Back"

With the General Assembly being called back into an "Emergency Session" to take up the State's shrinking budget, I start to think about what sort of shenanigans we might be faced with. Here are some thoughts that I have:

1. Well, here is an opportunity to put Nikki Haley's transparency bill to the test by requesting roll-call voting on all of this.

2. Don't propose any tax increase. Not even a repeal of the grocery tax. At times like these, we need to cinch up our belt, every agency pitch-in and we will get through this down-turn. We are not unique in this situation - every state is facing similar circumstances. I know Rex Rice will probably propose a cigarette tax increase to give the government more funding. I just don't think that you raise taxes in a situation like this - you cut expenses. That is what most South Carolina families do.

3. Don't raid the Trust Funds and Reserve Funds. We may not be at the "bottom" in this economy and we may need those funds later. Let's attempt to make targeted cuts first.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

SC Club for Growth Scorecard - A+!

The South Carolina Club for Growth released its 2007/2008 Legislative Scorecard today. I am proud that I received an A+ rating by this Conservative group.

You can view the House Scorecard here: SC Club for Growth

Congratulations to Eric Bedingfield and Mick Mulvaney for their Stellar A+ ratings, too!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why It Is Important

There is a lot of talk concerning the importance of the Bill Ayers connection with Presidential hopeful Barack Obama, whose campaign consistently brushes off and changes the subject.

The reason it is so important - and where the McCain campaign is falling short - is that, when this connection is considered along with other questionable connections for Obama, it clearly points to a disturbing lack of judgement on his part.

Barack Obama has not been truthful in his disclosure of his relationship with Bill Ayers. His campaign's statements of:
"Bill Ayers lives in his neighborhood. Their kids attend the same school. They're certainly friendly, they know each other, as anyone whose kids go to school together."
- just don't hold water.

Obama launched his campaign for the Illinois Legislature in Ayers home, in addition to Obama serving on the Board of Directors for a non-profit organization that Ayers started and ran. Furthermore, Ayers' children are in their late 20's or early 30's and Obama's kids are in gradeschool.

But the Obama campaign wants to dismiss the Ayers connection.....OK......let's do that and focus on his other questional judgements. The Obama campaign wants to focus on the economy. Ok, let's look at the players.

The economy is at this point in history due to the under-regulation of the Federal Government sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. During the growth of these quasai-agencies, when they were guaranteeing billions in low documentation/no documentation mortgages, as well as dealing in securities that are backed by these low doc/no doc mortgages and which were traded on Wall Street and around the world, purchased by the likes of Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, the guys at the helm were none other than Franklin Raines, Chairman of the Board & CEO; Tim Howard, Chief Financial Officer at Fannie Mae; Jim Johnson, a former executive at Lehman Brothers who was later forced from his position as CEO at Fannie Mae.

Obama's judgement, and his campaign's ties to the recent economic problems, lie with these three men. And this is where the McCain camp needs to get busy:

Franklin Raines: Chief Economic Adviser to the Obama Campaign.
Tim Howard: Also a Chief Economic Adviser to the Obama Campaign.
Jim Johnson: Hired as a Senior Economic Adviser to the Obama Campaign and selected to head the Vice Presidential search committee.

McCain also needs to look to the numbers: Obama, in a very short, less than one-term US Senate career, has amassed campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to rank his only second in the most donations received to long-time Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee which oversees the likes of Fannie and Freddie.

If we dislike nothing else about Obama, and there is more to question, let's at least call him out on his judgement and his ties to individuals who were at the root of the economic meltdown. That is why it is so important.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Historic Perspective on the "Bailout"

Whether it is called a "Bailout" or a "Economic Rescue," I have some fundamental problems with Congress passing this bill. Was it necessary? Maybe. Will it work? The jury is still out - we'll see how the market responds.

The question that I have is: Was it Constitutional? Under what Constitutional authority does Congress have to raise taxes on citizens of the United States, giving the money to the U. S. Treasury to buy private mortgages (good or bad) or securities or even to hold these types of real estate assets in the event of a foreclosure? Maybe they do under a broad interpretation of the Interstate Commerce provision - coincidentally used by the Roosevelt Administration to implement the social agenda called the New Deal in the 1930's or under the General Welfare clause of Article I.

So, in thinking about the bailout - let me share some quotes from the Founding Fathers and historical figures about the role of government as well as cautions from them:

George Washington once said: "The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon."

"The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it." James Wilson, Of the Study of Law in the United States, c. 1790

"On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." Thomas Jefferson, June 12, 1823

Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given to them. {The Constitution} was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers, and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect." Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, Feb. 15, 1791

"The legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex." James Madison, Federalist No. 48, Feb. 1, 1788

"It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and, as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please." Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, Feb. 15, 1791

"If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions." James Madison, letter Jan. 21, 1792

"No nation was ever ruined by trade, even seemingly the most disadvantageous." Benjamin Franklin, Principles of Trade, 1774

"I think all the world would gain by setting commerce at perfect liberty." Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, July 7, 1785

"I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious." Thomas Jefferson, letter Sept. 6, 1788

"The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale." Thomas Jefferson, letter May 28, 1816.

"The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys." Thomas Jefferson, letter June 19, 1808

"Excessive taxation.....will carry reason & reflection to every man's door, and particularly in the hour of election." Thomas Jefferson, letter Nov. 26, 1798

"To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and their fruits acquired by it." Thomas Jefferson, letter April 6, 1816

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined."
James Madison, Federalist No. 45

"One hundred and seventy-three(the number of Congressmen at the time) despots would surely be as oppressive as one." James Madison, Federalist No. 48, Feb. 1, 1788

"A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury." Alexander Tyler, 1787

I am fearful that this expansion of the power of the Federal Government will further erode our Republic. It, too, is obvious that the failures of past Congresses to regulate the mortgage industry, especially relating to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac despite warnings in the Spring of 2001 (Bush Administration) and later in 2004(Bush Administration and Congressional Hearings) and 2005 (Congressional Hearings and McCain speech/Legislation Introduced), played a huge part in this economic meltdown. Both Republicans and Democrats are to blame and there are numerous YouTube videos of the hearings to satisfy your appetite as to these facts.

Remember ENRON? It seems that the guys from Freddie and Fannie (Franklin Raines and James Johnson) should be investigated and brought up on charges (for "cooking the books" that led to huge bonuses for them) the same as the ENRON officers. Maybe they will. But allowing this Congress, with the likes of Chris Dodd and Barney Franks, to investigate is like sending the burglar to investigate the burglary.