Archive for July, 2013

The Young and The Feckless

I recently attended the Arizona Western Conservative Summit. It was a one day event in Scottsdale, Arizona. The full multi-day event took place in Denver, and a number of speakers and panelists were simulcast from Denver to our location. The theme of the Summit was “Freedom’s New Day.”

The panels that stood out the most to me were the ones about Youth, and their coveted vote. First, you should know that the majority of attendees seemed to be (judging solely on hair color), well beyond their youth. But, then again, at 31 years old, I wasn’t considered youth either. At least, not for he purpose of purchasing the youth priced ticket for the Summit. When I attended BlogCon back in May of this year, there was also a lot of talk about the Youth. At the Con and the Summit, the concern was how to attract the Youth to the Conservative/Republican movement, and what is it we’re doing wrong? The opinions from BlogCon and WCS were fairly consistent: It’s the messaging, stupid.

I disagree. And not necessarily so respectfully. I’ve heard people say that the Youth really do believe in America’s foundational principles of liberty, self-responsibility, and free markets…they just vote for the party that, according to its platform, believes the exact opposite of that. Yes, yes, I understand that the Republicans get a lot wrong, too. However, if Liberty and the principles that founded America are going to gain a foothold anywhere, it’s more likely to be in the party that believes America’s foundational ideas are exceptional. So, if you really believe in those things, why vote backwards or for the party least likely to accommodate those ideas? The answer: because you don’t believe in those things.

Sign: Our Country Is Doomed Without EducationAnd how could you? If you’ve not been living in a bomb shelter with Brendan Fraser in one of the worst movies even committed to film, then you’ve been subject to American culture. That culture, especially in education, is owned lock, stock, and chalkboard by Progressives (or, Leftists, if you prefer). If you’re lucky enough to make it out of your mother’s womb alive, you’ll likely soon find yourself seated in lovely government-run classroom. From an early age you’ll be taught the it-takes-a-village line: Johnny has ten apples, Sara has four apples – clearly Johnny has more apples because he is a privileged white Christian male. They ease you into it, so by the time you hit junior high, you won’t question them when they tell you that the second amendment really just applies to the military. That way, by the time you’re writing essays for college, you can wow them with how you don’t feel like an American citizen, but rather a Citizen Of The World. Yes, very original.

Clearly, we have a youth problem. But, it’s not the one we necessarily think we have. It starts earlier. We have to start educating when they’re 2, not 22. Sure, minds are still pliable and salvageable at 22, but the younger the better. And branding and marketing executives know this. They know if your parents buy Volkswagen, Starbucks, and McDonald’s, then when you get all grown up you’ll be speeding down the highway in a Passat with a quad latte on the way to get a Big Mac. In some ways it’s less about the product or the packaging and more about familiarity. However, the unmitigated disaster of New Coke shows that there does need to be some substance.

I’m not saying we should resign the education arena, but the battle is uphill. Both ways. In the snow. With no shoes. And being chased by a pack of hungry wolves. With a salami in your pocket. But we do need to make youth more familiar with our ideas. As it stands, we have to do a lot of that outside of the classroom setting. Thanks to my dad, I cut my teeth on reason magazine, CATO, and Liberty Magazine – they were always around, they were my bedtime stories. When I got older, we talked about the ideas in those pages, he asked me questions that didn’t have yes or no answers, he showed me parts of the country or parts of history where ideas at odds with liberty had failed, and where freedom succeeded. My dad taught me how to think not what to think. He led me to places, like the Federalist Papers, where I could find answers for myself. That only made me want to find more. Ultimately, this bred in me a familiarity with Liberty. My spirit became more than kindred with Liberty, it craved Liberty. That is what we need to pass along. This is the Youth problem we have: They don’t crave Liberty. They desire the safety of mundane dreams and a certain future promised by Big Government. Instead, they need to be taught to hunger for the opportunity to clear their own paths and to be excited about the possibility of what they’ll find behind the thistles and thorns.

For more news and opinion that matters for Liberty, visit the Standard Excellence Facebook page, and Maya’s Twitter profile @maya0830.

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Smart Girl Summit 2013 – Indianapolis

sgs13web600Exciting announcement for Standard Excellence – in 12 days (that’s two Fridays) Ryan Hill and Maya Grim of Standard Excellence will be in Indianapolis, IN covering Smart Girl Summit 2013!

Smart Girl Politics is a non-profit organization that works to involve fiscally independent women in the political process, and has been sponsored by FreedomWorks, the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, the Heritage Foundation, FTR Radio, Americans For Prosperity, and many others.

This year’s summit will include speakers Katie Pavlich of Townhall.com, James O’Keefe of Project Veritas, plus many other speakers and panelists. SGS 2013 covers important topics that affect women in America from getting plugged in to local and state politics to successfully promoting a conservative message through digital means.

Other highlights at the Summit will include Common Core school curriculum standards, a book signing by James O’Keefe, a session focusing on reaching youth, and what is sure to be a spectacular, the Armed and Fabulous program where dozens of armed women will showcase their control over their firearms.

Smart Girl Summit 2013 - IndianapolisSmart Girl Politics Action is also the blog of Smart Girl Politics, featuring lively and intelligent conservative thought from a female perspective.

That’s it for this week! For more Oklahoma, Texas, and national news and opinion that matters for Liberty, visit the Standard Excellence Facebook page, and my Twitter profile @FoaRyan.

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Liberty News – July 28, 2013

This Week in Liberty News, the weekly a collection of stories I run across that affect your liberty in Oklahoma, Texas, and on the national scene.

Oklahoma

We don’t need no stinking badges? Yes, yes, we do.

Distirct Attorney Jason Hicks has suspended a practice of using the private company Desert Snow to assist in roadside drug stops in Caddo County. Prosecuters have also dropped all criminal cases arising from those stops. The problem is that the private company is doing the job of law enforcement, including pulling citizens over and seizing property and money, even in some cases when no drugs were found.

A Caddo County Special Judge David A. Stephens was shocked to learn a private company was performing the stops, and indicated he hopes this will stop.

Taxes vs. credits vs. breaks vs. cuts…

oil rig pumping at sunsetWe’re pretty proud of our natural gas and oil production in Oklahoma, and now that the industry is strong and a vital part of our local economy, it may not be in our recent memory that oil companies have received and still do huge tax breaks from the state government. Last year alone $321 million was given to oil and gas companies, sparking interest in the Finance Secretary’s office to reconsider what place these tax advantages have in our government.

Credits and rebates each account for about half of the total break, meaning that the State of Oklahoma is both reducing the amount companies are paying in the first place, as well as chopping off the bottom line.

Texas

Texas is now outpumping some OPEC nations, at levels that would put it in the top 15 countries in the world in terms of oil production.

Around the U.S.

NSA Story Continues

This National Security Agency scandal has gone global. Invading the privacy of ordinary citizens is not just getting Americans upset, our friends across the Atlantic Ocean have begun to show their discontent with US data-gathering operations, and in some cases are firing back by threatening to cut their ties with America. The Guardian (America’s new New York Times) reported this week that European firms could cut ties with US internet providers because of the NSA scandal, and that the vice-president of the European commission warns “American cloud services providers could suffer loss of business.”

“If businesses or governments think they might be spied on, they will have less reason to trust cloud, and it will be cloud providers who ultimately miss out. Why would you pay someone else to hold your commercial or other secrets if you suspect or know they are being shared against your wishes?” she said.

Back home, Yahoo! has won a significant battle in the fight for transparency. In June, Yahoo! Inc. requested the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court make documents available that would make public information about the requests it made in 2008. This week, the FISA Court granted their request. Although Yahoo! complied with the customer info requests, it is fighting back, and in the words of Gizmodo, they are blazing the trail to transparency in the post-prism world.”

Freedom of the Press

Meanwhile, the extent of freedom of the press is also spending some time in the spotlight. The 4th Circuit Virginia US Court of Appeals ruled New York Times reporter James Risen to testify in a case against a former CIA official who is now charged with providing him information. Risen has responded by saying he would go to prison rather than testify, and promised to carry this case all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary.

Don’t Drone the Drones, Bro

And the FAA is now warning against the practice drone hunting and, believe it or not, drone bounty hunting. Believe it or not, a town of 550 residents in Colorado has passed an ordinance that creates drone hunting licenses. Deer Trail, CO charges only $25 for a drone hunting license, and there is a $100 bounty on destroyed unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. This has prompted a response from the FAA threatening to prosecute and/or fine anyone shooting at a UAV.

That’s it for this week! For more Oklahoma, Texas, and national news and opinion that matters for Liberty, visit the Standard Excellence Facebook page, and my Twitter profile @FoaRyan.

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Oklahoma Rally Against War with Syria

Oklahomans gather in the heat to show their objection to US intervention in Syria

Oklahomans gather in the heat to show their objection to US intervention in Syria’s civil war.

Residents from the Oklahoma City area gathered Friday evening at the south steps of the Oklahoma State Capitol to hold a rally protesting US involvement Syria’s civil war.

Organized and hosted by Oklahoma State Senator Paul Wesselhöft, the event featured several speakers, including two other State Senators. Around 100 were in attendance. EDIT: Michael McNutt of the Oklahoman estimated 200 attendees in his report.

Wesselhöft opposes intervention in Syria on grounds that it is not the moral or political obligation of the US to be involved in the civil war of another country. Upon stating this at the beginning of the rally, Wesselhöft received strong applause. He followed by stating, “This war is our concern, but not our business.”

Syria is currently in the midst of a civil war, echoing the recent events in Lybia and ongoing unrest in Egypt. While the Obama administration has done relatively little in Egypt’s governmental overturn, more than 70 US aircraft and 145 unmanned drone strikes were used to aid the removal of Libya’s dictator Muammar Qaddafi.

Those in attendance expressed their desire to prevent involvement in another international conflict. Lukus Collins, one of the speakers, describes himself as anti-war by principle, and says that wars are almost always waged for reasons other than what governments announce. Others could be seen holding signs ranging in message from total rejection of all war to support for US military troops needing a break from action.

In addition to Republican Paul Wesselhöft, two Democrats State Senators also spoke in the non-partisan gathering.

Below is a photo catalog of the Not Our War rally.

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For more Oklahoma, Texas, and national news and opinion that matters for Liberty, visit the Standard Excellence Facebook page, and my Twitter profile @FoaRyan.

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Were the scales tipped in the Zimmerman trial?

UPDATE 13 July, 2013: George Zimmerman has been found not guilty of murder, and has been acquitted on all charges.

Books are written about it. Movie plots hang on it. Everyone loves a good suspenseful murder trial. And why not? It’s great drama. Someone is dead, and the life of another hangs in the balance.

Soon we will all know the fate of accused murderer George Zimmerman. My prediction is a verdict in Zimmerman’s favor. At the beginning of the trial I thought the prosecution would be a lot stronger, but ultimately from what I’ve seen in following this case, I think the prosecution’s key arguments were all either disproved or significantly weakened. Evidence has to support you beyond reasonable doubt, and I think there plenty of doubt that this was actually a murder, rather than a neighborhood watch altercation gone deadly.

A tipped scale?

Cases like the Zimmerman trial drive my political nerve crazy, because they automatically disadvantage the defendant. People who were not present when the shooting occurred have decided for the rest of the world what happened that night.

In our court system, it is said the “burden of proof” lays upon the accuser, because our American belief and law considers men innocent until proven guilty. And that’s absolutely true; the George Zimmerman trial  is an attempt to prove his guilt.

So what’s the disadvantage? This trial has become an attempt to prove the innocence of Mr. Zimmerman. He chased down some kid eating a bag of Skittles and went in for the kill. Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee lost his job for not having him arrested. Protests denouncing the killing as racism and a hate crime garnered national media attention. There’s even expectated riots if the jury finds him innocent.

In short, widespread publicity has altered the normal process of justice.

Sometimes that can be a good thing, in situations where justice is not being applied, and political pressure forces the system to operate. Then there’s instances like this, where an investigation in progress was interrupted, and certain key elements were released to the public against the direction of the police department.

Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplet overruled Police Chief Lee, who wanted to play the 911 call to family members one at a time in order to establish untainted opinions of who was crying for help. Instead, he made the call publicly available and had it played to the whole family at once.

Not the first time

In Oklahoma, we’ve had our own “white on black” self-defense-turned murder trial recently. In 2011, Jerome Ersland was convicted of the murder of 16 year old Antwun Parker, whom he shot after Parker and a friend entered his pharmacy with a gun, attempting to rob it. Ersland responded with his own gun, shooting Parker in the head. This would have been the end of the story, and there would likely be no trial even if that shot killed Parker, if not for the fact that Ersland came back inside after chasing down the other would-be robber, and shooting Parker 5 more times.

That was certainly a mistake, and a costly one resulting in a life sentence for Ersland.

Both Zimmerman and Ersland could have chosen different courses of action that would have prevented their trials in the first place, but neither one of them woke up one day with the intent to kill anyone.

Zimmerman woke up planning to do his neighborhood watch. Ersland woke up planning to run his pharmacy, just like any other day. In both instances someone else came onto the property, which led to the shootings. Both acted in self defense, at least initially.

I say they are disadvantaged in the trials because though they are legally treated as innocent, the public and even the families of the victims treat them as guilty, before the trials are even held.

To give further evidence to my case that defendants are disadvantaged in trials like these, the Associated Press is reporting today that the jury may now be considering other lesser charges than murder. These are charges, including child abuse, that were not originally brought to the trial. The prosecution feels it was unable to satisfy the  requirements to prove murder, so now it’s just going for anything it can get.

My argument is not that either of these men are innocent or being unjustly tried, but

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