Note to Candidates: Count Contributions Carefully

Great presidential puzzle
Great presidential puzzle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The fallout continues from last week’s massacre at an historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. In an online manifesto of sorts, accused killer Dylann Roof credits an organization called the Council of Conservative Citizens with inspiring his racist agenda.

Now, it turns out, at least three Republican presidential candidates (Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Rick Santorum) and one likely candidate (Scott Walker) have received campaign or PAC contributions from CCC’s president, Earl Holt III. All four are returning the contributions or donating similar sums to charities.

But there’s more to this story. Writing in the Washington Post, Will Greenberg and Tom Hamburger report that “[t]here is no evidence that the campaigns, including those of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum, were aware of the group’s background.”

That’s probably not true. If it IS true, it makes those candidates look, well, incompetent.

The Council of Conservative Citizens, which “oppose[s] all efforts to mix the races of mankind … and to force the integration of the races,” has been been scandalously associated with the Republican Party since at least as far back as the 1980s.

Numerous Republicans, including US Representative (and later, to the shame of the Libertarian Party, its presidential nominee) Bob Barr, US Senator Trent Lott, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour and Mike Huckabee, then lieutenant governor of Arkansas, have addressed the group’s events and been called out for doing so.

In 1999, Republican National Committee chairman Jim Nicholson asked Republican CCC members to disassociate themselves from the organization.

And in two presidential campaigns, Rand Paul’s father, Ron Paul, was dogged by associations with CCC, including a scheduled (but either missed or “disappeared”) appearance on its “Political Cesspool” radio show and contributions from CCC activist Virginia Abernethy.

CCC is not a new problem for the GOP. It’s been a problem for nearly 30 years. Presidential campaign staffers have been down this rabbit hole in previous election cycles.  Anyone running a serious campaign for the GOP’s presidential nomination knows — or SHOULD know — that CCC-linked money comes with scandal attached to it.

No, I’m not accusing these four candidates of being racists. But in politics, it matters who you hang out with and whose checks you cash. In the information age, a computerized contributor blacklist (“return checks from X”) just isn’t that complicated to implement … and only returning the money after you get caught doesn’t cut the mustard.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.




“Gun Control”: The Answer Is NO

English: MP-446 "Viking" 9mm Handgun
English: MP-446 “Viking” 9mm Handgun (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I’ve had to make statements like this too many times,” US president Barack Obama said after last week’s shootings at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. “[O]nce again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun.”

Hillary Clinton, front-runner for the Democratic party’s 2016 presidential nomination, chimed in as well: “How many innocent people in our country, from little children, to church members, to movie theater attendees, how many people do we need to see cut down before we act?”

The upshot, of course, is that Obama and Clinton want Congress to pass yet another round of victim disarmament (“gun control”) legislation. And they’re more than willing to do a little happy political dance on the graves of the latest nine victims to advance that agenda.

To steal a line from Obama himself, let me be perfectly clear: “Gun control” isn’t about guns, it’s about control.

How do we know this? Because the evidence is clear. If the goal is to reduce violent crime, “gun control” not only doesn’t work, but has the exact opposite effect.

There’s a strong and near-universal correlation between violent crime and “gun control” laws. American cities with the most draconian “gun control” laws routinely report the highest violent crime rates in the nation. Areas with fewer restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, conversely, report the lowest violent crime rates. Violent crime rates routinely drop rather than rise when and where restrictions on gun ownership and carry are eased.

Above and beyond the blatant falsehoods concerning intent — for Obama and Clinton certainly know the foregoing facts, which are a matter of public record — “gun control” is also illegal, immoral and impossible.

It’s illegal because neither the plain text nor the intended meaning of the Second Amendment are unclear. The “supreme law of the land” forbids both federal and state governments to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms in any way, shape, manner or form.

It’s immoral because each of us has an inalienable human right to defend our own lives. To forbid us the tools to do so is to openly abet all of our would-be murderers.

And it’s impossible because so many Americans already own so many guns (rough estimate: 250 million guns in the hands of 100 million Americans), and with new technologies like 3D printing have the ability to manufacture so many more at will, that we will buy, sell, trade and gift them among ourselves whether the politicians like it or not.

Obama and Clinton don’t have to like it. That’s how it is whether they like it or not. “Gun control” is a utopian fantasy if its goal is to reduce violence, a dystopian fantasy if its goal is, as is clearly the case with these two, to reduce us under an absolute despotism.

The answer to both fantasies is “no.” It’s going to stay “no.” Get used to it.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.





Speech and Guns: Freedom is indivisible

XP002By Kamenev (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

A few years ago libertarian novelist and essayist L. Neil Smith wrote a prescient piece on victim disarmament (called, by its supporters, “gun control”). Smith is a prescient guy — he also predicted, among other things, the digital watch and the fall of the Soviet Union. I can’t find the piece at the moment, so I’ll paraphrase:

It’s impossible to effectually outlaw guns without also outlawing writing, speaking and thinking about guns. And it’s impossible to effectually outlaw writing, speaking and thinking about guns without outlawing writing, speaking and thinking, period.

Thinking isn’t a strong suit among victim disarmament advocates, but I guess one of them read the article. A couple of years ago, the US State Department ordered Cody Wilson of Defense Distributed to remove 3D printing files for the “Liberator” pistol from the Internet, pending a ruling on whether the posting of those plans constituted an illegal “weapons export.” In early June, the US State Department filed a new rule proposal on the Federal Register.

The rule is in a combination of bureaucratese and technical jargon, but it boils down to the US government requiring anyone who wants to publish “technical data” on the Internet (where it can be downloaded by foreigners, making it an “export”), relating to how to build weapons, to get the State Department’s permission.

We’ve been around this tree before. Back in the 1990s, the government went after proponents of “strong crypto” for making their software available globally, treating cryptographic algorithms as “munitions” for “export” purposes. Hilarity ensued as cypherpunks arrived at airports wearing t-shirts with the following three lines of Perl on them:

#!/bin/perl -sp0777i<X+d*lMLa^*lN%0]dsXx++lMlN/dsM0<j]dsj
$/=unpack(‘H*’,$_);$_=`echo 16dio\U$k”SK$/SM$n\EsN0p[lN*1

Those three lines of code implemented the RSA cryptographic algorithm. Which meant that flying abroad wearing the t-shirt constituted “unauthorized export of a munition.”

The government ended up backing away from that battle. As a result, all of us now have relatively easy access to tools that help us protect the privacy of our information. Now they’re back, trying to throttle free speech in the name of “arms proliferation control” abroad and, implicitly, “gun control” here at home.

The right to think, speak and publish as we please is inseparably linked — both morally and practically — to the right to keep and bear arms. It’s impossible to support one without supporting the other. And as we can see, the State Department now intends to destroy the latter by destroying the former.

The required “comment period” runs through August 3rd. You can read the proposal and register your opposition to it at:!documentDetail;D=DOS-2015-0023-0001

If legal opposition doesn’t work, the necessary next step is open defiance. This is not a battle Americans can afford to lose.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.