Review: Pressler Recounts 2014 Campaign; Now Where’s His 17%?

Last month we went on a family vacation, a weeklong loop around Wyoming. While enjoying the Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis, I got a voice mail from former U.S. Senator Larry Pressler.

Readers attentive to symbolism may jump to snark, but consider: a 74-year-old politician reached me over 600 miles from home, on a day when no one in South Dakota would have been able to tell him where to find me, by tapping my phone number onto a mobile device made possible in part, he would say, by a bill he passed twenty years ago, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the magnum opus of his time in the Senate [p. 63].

Senator Larry Pressler's thin new book.
Senator Larry Pressler’s thin new book.

Senator Pressler wanted to send me a copy of his new book and asked for my mailing address. I called back and left a message with my Aberdeen address, not bothering to recommend that he e-mail me a PDF that I could read on the long drive up to Sheridan and on to Spearfish. (Besides, I was on vacation!) Kerplunk—the book got to Aberdeen about the same time we did.

Senator Pressler: An Independent Mission to Save Our Democracy hit online shelves last February. About the same time we communicated, Senator Pressler told KSFY that writing this book was one of the hardest things he’s ever done, because he had more to say than he could publish:

I wrote nearly 1,000 pages and I had to cut it down to 200 in order to get it published… people won’t read more than 150 pages,” Senator Larry Pressler said [Courtney Collen, “Former Senator Larry Pressler on His New Book,” KSFY, 2016.05.25].

Having read the 150 pages published, I want to read the other 850.

This slim autobiography breezes through Larry Pressler’s upbringing in Humboldt, his education at USD and Oxford, his tour of duty in Vietnam, his studies at Harvard Law, and his service to South Dakota in the U.S. House and Senate in about 45 pages. The bulk of the book, 90-some pages, recounts his Independent 2014 Senate campaign. Pressler concludes with about 15 pages of election post-mortem and recommendations for political reform.

The autobiography includes a fair number of enticing details—Pressler’s tension with his father over innovation in farming [p. 26], his heart-breaking (says Pressler) choice of Rhodes Scholarship over an unnamed USD girlfriend [p. 31], his experience in 1974 of his own party leaders’ viewing him as an “elitist outsider” [p. 46] due to his out-of-state experiences (the parallel to Matt Varilek 38 years later is noteworthy). However, with these details and others, just as I’m thinking “Interesting, tell me more,” Pressler turns to the next event, and the next. His penultimate campaign, the 1996 contest in which he lost his Senate seat to Tim Johnson, receives only a couple paragraphs, with no blow-by-blow that might inform choices made in the final campaign eighteen years later. Pressler has an interesting personal and political life; we need to hear more about it.

That breeziness becomes more frustrating when Pressler turns to the 2013 run-up and the 2014 campaign. As happened in 2008 when I read insider Jon Lauck’s “Anatomy” of the 2004 Daschle/Thune Senate race, I come away from Pressler’s first-person account of his 2014 campaign feeling like I didn’t get much of the insider detail that the man at the center of the storm could give us readers.

Pressler mentions Mike Rounds’s victory in the Republican primary in one sentence [p. 93], without any real analysis of how Rounds won that primary and what opportunities Pressler saw to win votes among the 46% of Republican primarygoers who did not vote for Rounds. Pressler spends three pages talking about the speech he gave to Sioux Falls Democratic Forum in April 2014 [pp. 87–89], but he doesn’t take that opportunity to evaluate his sense of Democrats’ support for their nominee, Rick Weiland, and his own ability to peel that support away. Pressler quotes one speculative, pot-stirring piece by Bob Mercer published a week after the primary   suggesting Pressler could beat Rounds if Weiland quit and concludes, “there was a groundswell of support for Weiland to drop out and for his supporters to embrace me” [pp. 99–100]. I never saw such a groundswell; if the Pressler campaign had intel that such a groundswell existed, Pressler could share that evidence with us now. Pressler never mentions the other Independent on the 2014 ballot, Gordon Howie. Even if Pressler is of the opinion (borne out by the election) that Howie was a non-factor in the result, Pressler the astute political observer should say, “Howie was a non-factor,” and explain why the Tea Party angst Howie keeps trying to channel couldn’t get traction in the Senate race.

Pressler completely skips the Dakotafest debate, his first appearance on stage with Rounds, Weiland, and Howie, at which he acquitted himself as a still-sharp statesman brimming with policy ideas. That omission is perhaps excused by Pressler’s advancing directly to his astute cultural observations on the South Dakota State Fair. A 4-H alumnus (showing swine and competing in public speaking with the Humboldt Hustlers made Pressler the man he is today!), Pressler laments that the State Fair is a “dying tradition” [p. 102]. The fast food on the midway is “universally bad” with “no fresh fruits or vegetables… or any lean pork or beef, for that matter, although that is the criterion on which the fair’s blue-ribbon winners are determined” [p. 104]. And then Pressler turns completely into Wendell Berry:

One of the things I like to check out at state fairs is the farming equipment. I am an old tractor fan, and I like to see the new equipment. I can still recognize them, but the now seem to resemble equipment for construction rather than for farming. I don’t have the personal, emotional identification with these new types of tractors as I did with the older models.

Back when I was growing up, tractors were simpler and they actually had personalities that stemmed from their idiosyncrasies. In fact, it was almost as though the farmer’s and his tractor’s personalities merged [pp. 104–105].

Pressler weaves these observations with his account of solo campaigning amidst a State Fair crowd more interested in getting to the country western concerts, and it’s brilliant writing. I could read a couple hundred pages more like that.

But then we’re breezing along again to highlights of the campaign, to campaign talking points, media appearances, endorsements, and the tension between Pressler’s pride in not spending much on his campaign and wishing he’d had the money to hire staff and reach more voters. We learn that a spam attack shut down his campaign website server for a couple weeks in October, but otherwise, truly inside details from the campaign trail seem sparse.

But maybe the book reflects the nature of the campaign. Maybe Pressler 2014 really was one man winging it, without a team of trusted advisors analyzing the electorate and the opposition. There was no grand strategy. It was just Pressler, doing what he could with what time and money he had, and pausing every now and then to observe that Fair food is bad or that the view from the hill by Kennebec on a cold winter day makes a man feel very small [pp. 80–81].

Besides the personal snapshots of his career and what would seem to be his final campaign, Pressler offers some larger themes. Pressler contends that the Vietnam War “created a fracture in the American psyche that has never healed” [p. 34]. The “privileged elites” he saw avoiding the draft and leaving the war to be fought by the “less advantaged” forever soured him on “the Left” and undermined the common commitment to public service. Interestingly, Pressler suggests we heal the rift created by the “flawed” [p. 144] Vietnam draft by implementing mandatory national service. Young Americans could fulfill their national service obligation in many ways—military service, support work for first responders, participation in a new Civilian Conservation Corps (working as Pressler’s dad did in the 1930s, planting trees with the CCC in western South Dakota and Wyoming)—but there would be “no exceptions, no exemptions, no deferments” [p. 145].

Pressler contends in his preface that his campaign “did change politics in my state” and “did make history.” The latter portion of that statement is technically true: Pressler won 17% of the popular vote, the strongest showing of a third-party/non-party candidate for statewide office in recent memory. But that performance feels more like a historical footnote, not a watershed. Pressler’s tally did not change who won the 2014 election. Pressler’s 17% are nowhere to be seen in South Dakota’s 2016 political landscape. No one organized a “Pressler Party” or an Independents’ coordinating committee. No Independents or third-party candidates stepped forward to run for U.S. Senate or U.S. House; only seven candidates are running as Indies for South Dakota Legislature. Pressler credits Jackie Salit’s IndependentVoting.org for “trying to put together a repeal referendumon the ballot in 2016” to undo the Legislature’s effort to shut out Independent candidates with 2015’s Senate Bill 69. IndependentVoting.org did indeed help that referendum effort, but Pressler fails to note that most of the work on that successful referendum drive was done by the South Dakota Democratic Party and a certain Aberdeen blogger.

Pressler claims that his campaign “helped bring South Dakota politics back to a more moderate stance” [p. 150]. Pressler incorrectly says that our Senators have stopped trying to repeal Obamacare but doesn’t account for the anti-Obama politics that have prevented the Governor and Legislature from expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Pressler says the Obama impeachment rhetoric that he found so offensive in 2014 has faded, but he doesn’t discuss the new racism pushed by the man who won South Dakota’s GOP primary and embraced by all three of our Trump-endorsing Congressional delegates. Pressler doesn’t account the ongoing culture war waged by a Legislature obsessed with abortion, guns, and where transgender people pee, and Pressler doesn’t account for the return of the most radical conservative in the 2014 GOP primary, Stace Nelson, to politics. South Dakota politics seem as radically and oppressively conservative as before Pressler’s 2014 campaign.

Pressler seems a bit more attuned in his discussion of Independent impact and solutions to national politics. But even at that level, Pressler’s Independent bid seems not to have established a new paradigm. The discontent and desire for alternatives that Pressler says fueled his 17% take appears to have manifested itself in the big votes for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, but both of those contenders chose to mount their Presidential bids within the two-party system. Michael Bloomberg toyed with but backed away from an Independent bid, and Gary Johnson and Jill Stein show no sign yet of igniting even a Ross Perot-sized 19% voter revolt. Pressler himself says an Independent stands no chance in the Presidential election at this point and advises any new party to start now if it wants to make a difference in 2020.

Senator Pressler: An Independent Mission to Save Our Democracy is a gentle memoir of one man’s attempt to come out of retirement and save democracy. That story, seen strictly through Pressler’s eyes and combined with autobiography and proposals for political reform, is worth the brief time required to finish the 150-some pages. I’m glad Senator Pressler caught me on the phone in Thermopolis and sent me a copy to analyze.

But those of us joining Pressler on his mission to save our democracy want more: more details, more analysis… and more of a plan for finding that cantankerous 17%, getting each of them to bring two friends to the polls, and creating a voting majority that would send independent-minded reformers to Washington and to Pierre.


28 Responses to Review: Pressler Recounts 2014 Campaign; Now Where’s His 17%?

  1. Private Richard

    Senator Pressler is a good and decent man and a fine example for those in public service. We need more politicians like him in this state and nation. There’s a good set of conservative values… some of us would call them Christian and common-sensical values, ones that are based on honesty, fairness and the golden rule. Then there are what I consider a bad set of conservative values that seem to flourish among religious hypocrites and the unintelligent/uneducated, not to mention the politicians who use them to manipulative the same. Unfortunately, so often in the social politics of this state’s and the rest of the plains and southern states, these values have found a large electorate. Thank you Senator Pressler for standing up against the wackos.

  2. Good point, Private! From that perspective, I like both the fact that Pressler ran and that he has written this slim volume to remind us why he ran. That’s why I want more from this book: I want to learn more about the details of the campaign, what Pressler did to combat those bad values, and what concrete things he and the rest of us can do to capitalize on whatever inroads he made in 2014 to continue to press for the good values he wanted to bring back to South Dakota politics.

    This assumes, of course, that we don’t hold Pressler’s Reagan conservatism against him and take him for the moderate he seems to have become with his policy positions and advocacy for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

  3. Senator Pressler may be a fine fellow to many now, but in 1996, he did us no favors with the Telecommunications Act. What that did was to take the airways that we citizens owned and put that into the hands of private ownership. When you check out the media and see how slanted it is, thank Senator Pressler for this piece of legislation that opened the door to huge charges by cable companies along with the political power they now have.

  4. Stace Nelson

    @Mr “H,” Senator Pressler’s younger brother, Dan, was a former constituent, and a supporter of mine. He was by army favorite Pressler. Sadly, he passed away from liver cancer. I brought several constituent bills ’11-’12 from concerns Dan made to me. I have fond memories of Dan, his campaigning advice, and was saddened greatly when Mrs Pressler informed me of his passing. I personally think Dan would have been the better legislator of he siblings.

    While I understand the motives on the left of attempting to diminish the reliability of the term conservative, I would offer that conflating conservative and radical is in fact an oxymoron:

    Radical http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/radical

    Conservative http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conservative

  5. Private Richard

    Agreed. I don’t intend to be an apologist for Senator Pressler, whom I regarded as a lapdog for the Reagen agenda. Only in retrospect does he seem moderate and reasonable and decent in comparison to many contemporary Republican politicians.

  6. I thank Cory Heidelberger for his review of my book. Cory is by far the best writer on the South Dakota political scene, either by bloggers or by journalists–and I consider him the best of both.

    Cory pointed out some strong points and weak points in my book and I thank him for that. Although I am now a 74-year-old and have had a recent minor bout with some possibly malignant material in my bladder (which was all removed), I do plan to someday rewrite and to include what is in the other 850 pages that was cut, I thank Cory for making the point that there is a lot missing. On the other hand, a publisher told me that nobody will read more than about 150 pages of anything from a former U.S. senator, as we are no longer on the actual senate seat.

    In my next version, I plan to address in more detail the fact that the Telecommunication’s Bill that we did pass is not responsible for all the changes in the media. The Telecommunications Act did initiate the internet, and with computer’s there is a whole new way of citizens gaining information. And there are other technological changes, such as satellite radio, that have detracted from local reporting.

    But a major factor was Bill Clinton’s friendship with the very top corporate leadership and his administration’s total abandonment of enforcement of any anti-trust or predatory-pricing laws. Bill Clinton is my fellow Rhodes Scholar and a friend of mine, but for some reason his administration totally abandoned the enforcement of any anti-trust laws (I think it was his close friendship with top corporate officials that eventually enabled him to form The Clinton Foundation with top corporate support). The Telecommunications Act did not deal with anti-trust and was not so intended.

    So as a result of all this, the talented Cory Heidelberger’s of this world are writing on computer blogs rather than writing for newspapers or wire services.

    In any event, we have almost no in-depth political reporting by anyone who knows the political history of South Dakota. Cory Heidelberger is a beacon light on the northern prairies because he knows the political history and he is an extremely talented writer.

    Anyway, thank you Cory for the work you put into this lengthy review. You are an independent writer who acknowledges your political beliefs. You are, I believe, a Liberal Democrat and you say so. What is dangerous is a political writer who has strong leanings one way or another and doesn’t tell us upfront. Cory, I suspect you are not paid anything near what you are worth, I just hope we can keep you writing in South Dakota. Your understanding of the political history of our state keeps guys like me honest. I would include Jon Lauck in this category, who appears to me to be more of a responsible Republican.

    Thank you, Cory Heidelberger, for this in-depth review. It is the first one that really relates my book to actual South Dakota history. And thank you for pointing out some of the short comings in my book. I do have a small place on the Missouri River and plan to do some old-fashioned shoreline fishing and some ice fishing too. And I hope to do some writing in my old age.

    Cory, I want to hear more from you and South Dakota needs to hear more from you.

  7. A place on the river—I can imagine a lot of good writing happening in such an idyllic place… when the fish aren’t biting.

    Thank you, Senator Pressler, for taking the time to read this review and to share your thoughts with readers here. I’ll certainly keep writing for South Dakotans; I hope you will, too!

    I, too, left a great deal out of my review. Senator Pressler’s point about the interaction of the Telecommunications Act and local reporting appears in the book, and it is an astute and useful observation. Yes, the Telecommunications Act contributed to keeping the Internet open and birthing blogs like this, but blogs like this have not yet filled the gap left by the conglomeration of local broadcast outlets under corporate umbrellas and the consequent quashing of local reporting by the corporate/satellite business model. I don’t know if we have a political solution to that problem. We may just need reporters to tie their Web reporting to other enterprises that can pay the bills.

    And hey, Happy! Did you see what the Senator said about the relative merits of political writers being upfront about their political beliefs? That sounds a lot like what I said Sunday about journalism and bias:

    http://dakotafreepress.com/2016/06/23/terry-woster-democratic-discourse-is-about-learning-not-winning/#comment-50131

  8. Stace, I don’t conflate “conservative” and “radical”; however, I feel comfortable characterizing you as a conservative who is at the more radical/extreme end of the conservative–liberal spectrum.

    Remember, radical has the same root as radishradix, meaning root, as in liking to pull out the roots. Stace, you campaigned to root out corruption, to yank out the structures that allow the corrupt officials to favor its cronies and cling to power. And you do make some members of your own party pull their hair out at the roots. ;-)

    Far from seeking to diminish your status as a conservative, I use radical to emphasize it. Two out of the three definitions you offer through your link support me: you may not like change from traditional or ordinary values, but you do support a basic reading of the important tenets of conservatism that you say your mainstream GOP counterparts have lost, and you do hold extreme views that are not shared by most people (at least not according to the one statewide test of your principles, the 2014 GOP primary vote).

    But Senator Pressler would not want us to get wrapped up with labels; he would advocate that we get past our partisan differences and work on practical policy solutions (that’s in the book!).

  9. Kim Wright

    I have the greatest regard for Larry Pressler and his genuine efforts to reform South Dakota’s and our nation’s political landscape. It is a pleasure to know him. I have no doubt he was motivated to run in 2014 to bring compromise and progress to our government. Thanks, Cory, for your review of his book…..I look forward to reading it myself. I would remind Sen. Pressler that as independents we continue to learn and will definitely take a page or two from his lesson book!

  10. You would think that Bill Clinton would be a hero to today’s Republican’s, considering he was in bed with corporations.

  11. Stace Nelson

    @CAH “conservative” is the most trusted political identifier in America. It’s the reason why so many moderate “Republican” politicians in SD claim to be so during election years and why those with opposing political views add adjectives like “radical” and “ultra” to actual conservatives to alter or confuse that favorable perception.

    You are REALLY reaching on the radish comment 😆

    If all things were equal, opposing candidates were honest about their records, and voters were fully aware? Your assessment might have merit; however, name recognition, and having the $ needed to advertise, is crucial in a state wide race. The primary was full of candidates claiming they were as conservative as me.

    That being said, the majority of voters in SD align with my basic political views as evident in voter registration numbers, and consider the Left’s views to be radical and extreme. Additionally, my views on limited government, Liberty, 2nd Amendment rights, and the sanctity of the lives of babies, are historically supported by our Founding Fathers, and are traditional American values.

    There is nothing extreme or radical about my conservative beliefs..

  12. Donald Pay

    Well, I think there are three Larry Presslers. The first one was the idealistic young guy who took on the Republican establishment and wasn’t afraid to cast aside tired projects, like Oahe Irrigation Project, and stand with grassroots South Dakotans. I actually voted for that guy once or twice. The second one was the guy who wanted a committee chairmanship and had to begin labeling himself as a “commonsense conservative” and his opponents as “radical liberals.” Needless to say, I loathed this Larry Pressler. The third one is the elder statesman who has a lot of wisdom to impart. I like the first and the third Larry Pressler.

  13. Darin Larson

    Stace- when you don’t think there are any limits on the right to bear arms, your views are radical and extreme. You don’t understand that? Even Scalia thought there were limits on the right to bear arms. Viewing your right to bear arms as God-given is radical and extreme. It is a mark of the true believer and similar to the mindset of the terrorists that blow themselves up in the name of Islam.

  14. So, Candidate Nelson, are you saying you don’t like radishes? (Remember, the radish growers of South Dakota are watching….) ;-)

    Pressler as a multiphase historical figure—there’s a theme for the ultimate Pressler biography!

  15. Stace Nelson

    @Darin You appear to be missing something. Our Founding Fathers believed our rights came from God, they wrote that and that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. You don’t understand that? You should be thankful that “true believers” in the US Constitution like me exist, it’s people like me that have manned the battlements of freedom preserving this nation and the liberties you enjoy. You are mistaken, it is you that has the similarities with the terrorists. I fight to preserve those God given rights the Founding Fathers spoke of, it is you that seek to subvert them, just like the terrorists.

    @CAH I’m a carrot, parsnips, and turnip kind of guy.. 😀

  16. Mr. Pressler represents our state well. Always the gentleman and a voice to be heard. A definite cut Above our representation these days. I admire his service to the people. Cory has done well in bringing Larry’s book to us,

    I do not believe Mr. Nelson, that Darin Larson seeks to subvert the God given rights the Founding Fathers spoke of. He only seeks to build a better country. Just like you. And for you to characterize the people that have defended America in your mold is disheartening.

    Mr. Pressler has helped make this rock a better place and has always reached his hand out in friendship to all. For that I thank him.

  17. Steve Hickey

    The Senators brother Dan was a supporter of mine too, after redistricting Humboldt was situated in D9 which I served. Sad to hear he died. And I look forward to reading this book. And I agree that Cory, hands down, has the best political coverage and commentary in the state. He is wrong on abortion, but I changed my mind to hold a consistent view of the sanctity of all human life and have that hope for him as well.

    BTW, people do change their minds – heck I remember my former friend Rep Stace signing on enthusiastically to my 36% rap cap bill back in 2011 with comments on how much he hates that industry. Then just a couple years later when he ran for Senate he voted against my far less stringent payday lending reform bill in Committee and shared a story about how he has used the loans himself in the past. A total and complete flip flop but in the wrong direction.

    Wonder if Senator Pressler will be supporting the 36% rap cap and if he has any comments on it? I want to believe he will stand with the little people against the poverty industry.

  18. mike from iowa

    Nelson-your arms are gonna fall off from patting yourself on the back all the damn time. You served. We got that. Now give it a rest and learn to read the ENTIRE 2nd amendment, not just the part the NRA wants you to fantasize about.

  19. Darin Larson

    Stace- you keep avoiding the fact that even Scalia says that there are limits on the right to bear arms. Why is that? Straight talk not your forte?

  20. Darin Larson

    And God wanted you to have an AR-15 just like God wanted Osama Bin Laden to strike at the heart of the foreign devils on 9/11.

  21. Steve, we’re all wrong about something. ;-)

    It is interesting that, of all the Senate candidates from 2014, Rick Weiland jumped to ballot issues as a viable way to enact reform in South Dakota. Pressler mentions the SB 69 referral (now Referred Law 19), but he doesn’t directly address the other ballot measures brought by Rick, Steve, his friends at Farmers Union, and others. Pressler does give favorable mention to lobbying restrictions enacted in Wisconsin [p. 146–147] that mirror part of Weiland’s IM 22, the Anti-Corruption Act. Without specifically mentioning Amendment V or IM 22, Pressler gives mixed reviews to the open primary system and public campaign finance and says those reforms nibble at the edges of bigger changes needed [pp. 140–142].

  22. Stace Nelson

    @Steve Hickey I don’t think you wish to raise the “flip flopping” issue. I do personally dislike the usery industry that employs high interest rates; however, I am a free-market conservative Republican and that position hardened even more the longer I was in the legislature.

    @IOWA Mike give your leftist bile a rest. Only leftist radicals don’t understand the 2nd Amendment is an individual right, just as they think that abortion is a Constitutional right. It wasn’t till Leftist started pushing the naive idea of disarming the innocent masses did they employ the idiotic narrative that the 2nd Amendment is a right only for militias.

    @Darin By citing Scalia, you take a stance that he was right in HIS view of the 2nd Amendment which you then adopt in your repeated over simplification of his stance. Feel free to inform IOWA Mike of the reality of Scalia’s extensive opinion on it which established SCOTUS precedent. We will never know whether I disagree with individual Scalia’s opinions on the matter as you cite none of them. It is beyond ignorant to conflate law abiding American citizens’ right to be armed to defend themselved, with the wholesale murder employed by Islamic terrorists. Let me know how that Stace works out for Democratic candidates in the upcoming election. Make sure you give that radical opinion wide spread distribution.

  23. Stace Nelson: “…they wrote that and that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. You don’t understand that?”

    Is there any room for restricting that right? We don’t allow convicted felons to exercise that right, but based upon the text in our Bill of Rights alone… isn’t that a conflict?

    We now require a gun purchaser to fill out a lengthy form and submit to a background check. Isn’t that infringing upon the actual right, or is there a loophole because we have a right to bear arms but no necessarily a right to buy them?

    Then there is the entire debate about what arms should be considered acceptable. We already have restrictions on things like tanks, grenades, or fully-automatic weapons. Some would like to go further and eliminate semi-automatic long guns, others would like to do away with handguns entirely, still others would like to go back to the musket days. There is already a line drawn, but should it be removed entirely if we wish to remain faithful to the Constitution?

    I don’t envy our Supreme Court Justices. They are intelligent enough to know our forefathers were not capable of predicting the future, yet they (the Justices) are in the difficult position to attempt to interpret the words which we find so important. Regardless of how any of them rule on any issue there are people who claim they are misinterpreting the Constitution, and others who claim they are rewriting it.

  24. Steve Sibson

    “But a major factor was Bill Clinton’s friendship with the very top corporate leadership and his administration’s total abandonment of enforcement of any anti-trust or predatory-pricing laws. Bill Clinton is my fellow Rhodes Scholar and a friend of mine, but for some reason his administration totally abandoned the enforcement of any anti-trust laws (I think it was his close friendship with top corporate officials that eventually enabled him to form The Clinton Foundation with top corporate support).”

    That is important to understand. Did Clinton’s crony capitalism rub off on his wife?

  25. Stace Nelson

    @Craig The only people that have their rights restricted are the poor. If you have money? You can preach gun control while protected by Secret Service Agents with full automatic weapons. If you have money? You can have fully automatic weapons, biological and nuclear weapons, etc. I disagree with you on SCOTUS, they have fumbled the ball repeatedly over the years because they believed your sentiments, that they were so intelligent. There job is not legislate or to interpret the US Constitution, but to follow it.

  26. mike from iowa

    Their job is to interpret the constitution in Stace Nelson’s favor.

    The constitution is the final arbiter of whether passed law meets the constitution’s intent Wingnuts have a number of litmus tests for appointees of both parties and they favor korporate amerika and the wealthy and disfavor the middle class and workers and poor,etc.

  27. “There job is not legislate or to interpret the US Constitution, but to follow it.”

    I don’t disagree that the court should not legislate… but in order to follow the Constitution they are forced to interpret it. I suspect you are ok with them doing so when the interpretation leads to the individual right of gun ownership (outside a militia), but if the interpretation was another direction there would be many accusing them of being a activist court.

    How else can they make a ruling when they can’t even agree on what the original intent was? They are only human after all.

  28. Darin Larson

    Stace says: “We will never know whether I disagree with individual Scalia’s opinions on the matter as you cite none of them.”

    I find it highly entertaining that you claim to be well-versed in the 2nd Amendment, but then in order for you to comment on Scalia’s views of the limits of the 2nd Amendment, you require citation to well-known caselaw. It is almost as if you are avoiding the question of whether you agree with Scalia that there are limits on the 2nd Amendment right.

    I believe I previously referenced District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) where Justice Scalia wrote the opinion of the Court that included:

    “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. Pp. 54–56.”

    taken from Wikipedia, District of Columbia v. Heller.

    In summary, I am asking a simple question: whether in your view there are any limits to 2nd Amendment rights?

    The citation to Scalia’s opinion does not mean that I agree with his opinion, but I thought it instructive to our conversation. You don’t seem to accept the fact that there are any limits on 2nd Amendment rights even though the most conservative Supreme Court justice admits that there are limits.