The Rise of the Anti-Republicans

Lubbock is so overwhelmingly Republican that here, much like at the national level, we are experiencing the rise of the anti-Republicans.

These are a new breed of critic. They often spurn “the arena,” professing to be smarter than voters and officeholders alike. Where the anti-Republicans have achieved commercial or electoral viability, it is by the goodwill of their Democratic supporters.

This is not the usual style of dissent. For years Democrats and Republicans have welcomed the open debate of ideas. The lines were distinctly drawn and the differences clear.

They unite around an angry pathology, dubious credibility and uncertain stability.

The anti-Republicans, on the other hand, are a political fifth column; Democrats professing to be Republicans. They spend their time and energy expounding all that is wrong with the Republican Party. They canonize past Democratic figures and lament there are none like them today, ignoring their historical support of segregation, abortion and big government.

We eschew the porcine politics of pragmatism. What spews from the anti-Republicans is the crudest form of populist politics. The message changes from one to the next because they have no guiding principles. Instead, they unite around an angry pathology, dubious credibility and uncertain stability.

They value personality over principle. In their world, it is not the job of lawmakers to work for the greater good by passing principled legislation, but to be the biggest pigs at the trough. An officeholder must bring home a disproportionate share of the pie or be damned. The anti-Republicans disdain all but the pork principle.

The anti-Republicans disdain all but the pork principle.

When confronted with rational argument the anti-Republicans react with anger and pejorative. They resort to belittling opponents because they cannot argue from the secure ground of conservative values like limited government and self reliance.

Hiding behind nostalgia, shallow slogans and cheap rhetoric, the anti-Republicans are not electable. They are sideline critics.

The underlying conviction of the anti-Republicans is that we are dependent upon government to be great. Thus, their promises to make us “great again.”

But when did we cease to be great?

What ought to identify Republicans are our ideas: we coalesce around common beliefs and principles we hold dear.

And what made us great? Was it big government? Money from Austin? Does our greatness derive from the personality of our lawmakers? Or, are we great because of the ideas and values of our citizens?

What ought to identify Republicans are our ideas: we coalesce around common beliefs and principles we hold dear. The tent is big enough that we need not agree on every issue, but we agree that our ideas are what bind us.

What do we do with the anti-Republicans?

We stop calling them Republicans. They are political anarchists; Democrats in disguise. Unlike Republicans with whom we may disagree on one principle or another, the anti-Republicans are dishonest purveyors of political and social chaos.

We promote principle and eschew the porcine politics of pragmatism.

We challenge them. If bringing home the bacon is the stuff statesmanship is made of, then we demand they prove it. Let them run for office as Democrats, whose agenda they advance. 

Finally, we continue to be the party of ideas that matter. We question their presuppositions and false premises. We promote principle and eschew the porcine politics of pragmatism.

It has been a turbulent election year. To the degree we abandon our principles we cease to be the Republican Party and become a political parody.

“No Cost” License Plate Readers Are Turning Texas Police into Mobile Debt Collectors and Data Miners

“Vigilant Solutions, one of the country’s largest brokers of vehicle surveillance technology, is offering a hell of a deal to law enforcement agencies in Texas: a whole suite of automated license plate reader (ALPR) equipment and access to the company’s massive databases and analytical tools—and it won’t cost the agency a dime.” | click here for Electronic Frontier Foundation article.

AJ Editorial is Bad Opinion Based on Fabrication

Wednesday the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal carried an editorial founded in false reporting, reinforced by fraudulent quotes and bolstered by bad opinion.

In an op-ed piece that was more appropriate to the advertising section, the paper promoted Vigilant Solutions, a company that has devised a license plate recognition system. Their device will read and track license plates as a police officer drives down the street. If a plate owner owes outstanding fines to the city the officer is alerted and can stop the offender and offer to run his credit card on the spot to pay the fines. If the driver has no credit card the officer can choose to haul the citizen to jail for not paying a parking ticket.

Vigilant calls it their "warrant redemption system."

The city of Kyle never implemented the program. The quote from the police chief was a complete fabrication.

The result is to turn law enforcement into the city’s debt collection agency. Vigilant Solutions provides the equipment and charges 25% of the amount collected plus processing fees. 

The AJ, acting as a shill for Vigilant Solutions, advocates the idea saying “it has an appeal.”

The advertisement-parading-as-an-editorial cited the city of Kyle as an example saying it “is now using the warrant redemption program.”

The AJ editorial even quoted Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett saying “the program frees up more time for his officers to handle other police matters.”

The Sandstorm Scholar did a little fact checking and discovered none of the above is true.

First, according to Kyle Assistant City Manager James Earp, the city of Kyle never implemented the program. The city council initially approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore the idea. The council later voted unanimously to kill it more than two weeks prior to the AJ editorial. The AJ report was false.

This wasn't a mistake; it was a made-up story to fit a preconceived conclusion.

Further, the quote from the police chief, which can reasonably be inferred to be a quote given the AJ, was a complete fabrication. Police Chief Jeff Barnett told the Sandstorm Scholar he had not talked with anyone from the Avalanche-Journal.

Chief Barnett added that he had seen reports in the media that implied his department had implemented the program but that he had never said that to any media outlet.

“One misconception that I heard that was out there in some media was that we had already accepted the software and had already begun implementation. That is not true at all,” said Chief Barnett.

The Kyle story was not a distortion, it was a lie. This wasn't a mistake; it was a made-up story to fit a preconceived conclusion.

We contacted the AJ’s editorial board. Publisher Brandon Hughes was out of town so we talked with another member of the board. He claimed the editorial was based on information contained in a Texas Tribune article which the AJ had run last month.

LPD Chief Greg Stevens: "That's a terrible idea."

So the AJ’s facts and opinions derive from a left-leaning, factually questionable, online publication.

If it can get worse, it is the opinion that came from the errant editorial. Like almost any other big-government scheme that comes along the AJ editorial board liked the idea of turning the police into a collection agency. “…as long as they are doing it in addition to enforcing criminal and traffic laws and keeping the peace, it sounds reasonable," wrote the AJ. 

We’re left wondering exactly how much spare time the AJ thinks Lubbock police have?

Police Chief Greg StevensLubbock Police Chief Greg Stevens told the Sandstorm Scholar, “I don’t want the police out there collecting any proceeds on the street. That’s a terrible idea. That’s not the business we’re in. We simply serve arrest warrants.”

We agree with the Chief.

The Sandstorm Scholar questions how this editorial advertisement came about? Did it simply come from Vigilant Solutions' lobbyist via the Texas Tribune and blindly picked up by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal? Or has Vigilant Solutions targeted Lubbock and is doing pre-sales work via the editorial page of the AJ? And doesn’t this sound eerily similar to the AJ's support of red light cameras in days past?

Vigilant Solutions is a California company that, according to the website, spent $421,000 on lobbyists at the federal level in 2015. You can be certain they spent that much or more at state and local levels. Most Texas cities, including Lubbock, do not have lobby reporting requirements.

Doesn’t this sound eerily similar to the AJ's support of red light cameras in days past?

Why is this a big deal?

Because there was a time when editorials in the local paper were thoughtfully and carefully prepared. They carried weight. The topics were substantive and they didn't shill for commercial interests. Not coincidentally, that was also a time when its circulation was twice or more what it is now.

Don't mistake what you read in today's AJ editorial pages for something that matters. The editorials and endorsements are sloppy, sometimes based in fiction and make no attempt to reflect Lubbock’s conservative values of limited government and self-reliance.

All in a day’s work at the Lubbock AJ. Is it any wonder we prefer to call it the Daily Nickel?