Thursday, September 8, 2011

Armed Gays Don't Get Bashed

Over the last two weeks, there has been a disturbing spate of violent attacks on gay citizens along the Wasatch Front. One of these was exceptionally brutal, involving a beating and curb stomping by the homophobic thugs, and all are repugnant. Police are investigating, but there have been no arrests as of now.

Incidents like these are why I support organizations like the Pink Pistols (whose slogan is the title of this entry) and Utah's Stonewall Shooting Sports. The right to bear arms, and by extension the right to self-defense against violent criminals, isn't a liberal or a conservative value. It's a human right. This country is unusual in that it recognizes the right of its citizens not only to defend themselves, but to possess the tools necessary to do so effectively. We cannot allow self-serving politicians to turn defense of that right into a political stance belonging solely to one or another party.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It Begins!

Earlier today, Rob and I went to the Twilight Concert Series at Pioneer Park to collect signatures. We had to leave before the bigger crowds showed, but we got about 50 signatures. We'll be at the City Weekly Beer Festival on Saturday for the same purpose. Stop by and say hi. If you can't make it but you still want to sign the petition, good news! The Utah elections website has the forms in PDF format available here:

Print out the second page, sign it, get all your friends to sign it, and send it to:

Guns and Booze Party
40 S 900 E #2F
Salt Lake City, UT 84102

Every little bit helps!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Chairman of the Liquor Commission

According to the Salt Lake Tribune today, "Richard Sperry, a former physician and self-described nondrinker" has been named chairman of the Utah Liquor Commission. Just what we need, yet another person who has no experience with alcohol making decisions about liquor. Apparently he knows economics, so maybe he'll recommend against shutting down profitable stores, but I cannot fathom why we put people who don't drink in charge of drinking. That's like having religiously conservative straight people decide issues of gay rights, or having people who have never fired a gun pass laws restricting the Second Amendment.

Oh wait.

 Anyway, hopefully Sperry takes his appointment seriously, and acts as though he's accountable to the citizens of Utah and not to legislative stupidity. Can't say I'm optimistic though.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lawsuits for the win!

It was announced today that the Utah Hospitality Association is suing the state of Utah over liquor restrictions, specifically the licensing system (which has resulted in a de facto freeze on new licensees, predicted to last for around two years) and the new ban on drink specials (which the UHA claims are a form of price fixing, and which violates the Sherman Antitrust Act). Full text of the lawsuit is available here.

My first inclination was--hell yes! It's about time someone called out the legislature. I'm not asking for Utah to have liquor laws identical to those of Las Vegas or New Orleans, but the laws we do have should make some damned sense, and these ones don't. I'm willing to accept some restrictions on the number of licensees, but no new bars or restaurants with a license for two years? That's ridiculous. The legislature talks a big game when it comes to the free market, but what kind of free market restricts entire categories of businesses because most of the lawmakers don't consume what they sell? And don't give me the public safety/it's for the children crap either. There is precisely zero factual evidence that any restriction on things like the sale price of beer or the number of bars causes drunk driving or underage consumption. Enforce the laws against those things, and hold people accountable for their actions--don't punish legitimate businessmen and responsible consumers because you don't know how beer works.

Now, I am a little concerned about the cost, as a taxpayer--if this goes to court, we're the ones who will wind up paying the state's legal fees. Obviously, the easy answer would be for the legislature to admit that by and large they have no idea what they're talking about when it comes to alcohol, but if that were likely I wouldn't be running for office. In any case, the cost of the legal fees is dwarfed in the long run by the cost of these liquor laws--not just lost tax revenue from bars and restaurants that either don't open or choose to relocate, but also in tourism dollars lost because travelers have the impression that you can't get a drink here to save your life. We don't want people going to Aspen or Vail instead of coming here--it costs us money, and Aspen sucks. So even if we wind up footing the bill for this lawsuit, I'm behind the UHA 100 percent. Let's get it done, fellas.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Who Are Ya?

Hello, and welcome to the official blog of the Guns and Booze Party of Utah. My name is Nick Bernard, and I'll be running for Utah House of Representatives District 30 in 2012.

A little about who we are: The Guns and Booze Party was born, as you might expect, during a long conversation about politics that took place in a bar. I was talking with my friend, Rob Krumm (who is also working on this campaign) about how fed up we both were with Republicans, Democrats, and career politicians in general. One particular point in the conversation was the hypocrisy of both sides in claiming to support individual liberty, but favoring heavy restrictions on things they didn't personally care for. In Utah, this can best be exemplified by firearms and alcohol. The Republicans on Capitol Hill talk a lot about personal liberty and freedom and being anti-socialist when it comes to guns, but we have a liquor control system that resembles that of the Soviet Union (except that it was easier to get a drink there). The Democrats are the opposite--they take admirable stands when it comes to gay rights, reproductive rights, and free speech, but then they vote against more liberal gun laws--and in other states and at the national level, Democratic politicians are responsible for nearly every draconian gun law on the books. Both of these groups irritate me, since I'm generally in favor of both booze and guns--hence the party's name.

So what are our principles, besides having well-stocked gun safes and liquor cabinets? As John Stuart Mill said in On Liberty, "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others." This is known as the "Harm Principle," and it forms the basis of our outlook on social issues. In a free society, adult citizens should be allowed to do as they please, so long as they don't hurt anyone else. For instance, while I favor extremely stiff penalties for drunk driving, I'm against collective punishment of all responsible drinkers in the form of draconian liquor laws. Similarly, if you use a gun in a crime you should go to prison for a long time--but your decision to be a criminal shouldn't affect my ability to legally purchase a firearm.

As for economic issues, the Guns and Booze Party will take no general stance. The point of this party is to focus on social issues; as such, I or anyone else elected under the Guns and Booze Party will either abstain from voting on economic issues, or simply vote their conscience. Any economic policy is the sole decision of the individual candidate, not of the Guns and Booze Party as a whole. Personally, I tend to favor a balanced budget with enough tax income to pay for education and some form of social safety net, but that's just me. What I can tell you is that if elected, my agenda will include introduction of bills to make it easier for law-abiding adults to live the life they choose--including what drinks they decide to imbibe, what they choose to buy at Cabela's, and who they fall in love with. To me, budgetary concerns are secondary to individual freedom.

The million dollar question, of course, is: Do we actually think we can get elected, as a third party and a brand new one at that? The easy answer is, maybe. I'm not going to deny that it will be tough. However, with the recent resignation of Jackie Biskupski after twelve years of service (and a lot of great work for Utah's LGBT community), right now is probably the best chance for us to show that elections don't have to be a choice between the two groups that we've been convinced are the only options. That said, we will need your support. We still have to officially register as a political party in the state of Utah in order to get on the ballot, for which we'll need 2,000 signatures from registered voters. I feel confident that we can do that, and once we get on the ballot, we're in it to win it. So if you're tired of career politicians and an unnecessary two-party system, if you want your representatives to vote based on what's right and not based on the letter in parentheses that follows their name, then vote for us.

Thanks for reading.