The Other Newport: Newport, RI

While traveling to the Northeast to help fellow young conservatives combat leftist ideas on campus last week, I made a pit stop in Newport, RI to see what’s there. Since I grew up near Newport Beach, California, I never imagined I could like another Newport until I visited the older one here on the East Coast.

For those of you unfamiliar with Rhode Island, it’s the smallest state in the union boasting the longest official name. I kid you not. It’s officially known as the “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.” (I first learned this two years ago when I paid my first visit to the state.) Historically speaking, RI is famous for giving rise to religious tolerance during the colonial era.

Newport, RI is a city rich in history. First and foremost, it was the site of George Washington’s famous speech at Touro Synagogue on August 18, 1790. Here’s the full text from his speech:

Gentlemen:

While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.

If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy — a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

Source: George Washington: A Collection, ed. W.B. Allen (Liberty Fund: Indianapolis, 1988)

Secondly, it was a summer getaway for both Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. (Kennedy even got married there at St. Mary’s Church.)

Moreover, Newport is home to some rich naval history as it boasts the Naval War College.

While in Newport, I was able to explore some cool attractions. First up was driving near some mansions on the coast, with the most famous one being the Breakers. They date back to the Gilded Age and are open to the public.

breakers 2

Map of Newport mansions

breakers

The Breakers – Newport, RI

If I hadn’t been pressed for time, I would have spent more time exploring them. These estates are alluring and beautifully crafted. (Free enterprise FTW!)

Next stop was the International Tennis Hall of Fame. It’s a place where tennis greats are inducted and given high honors. I especially loved visiting this place because it brought back memories of my high school tennis days. Who can resist grass tennis courts?

GAB NEWPORT

Me posing at the International Tennis Hall of Fame

tennis hall

Statue of Int’l Tennis Hall of Fame founder

After driving to the Breakers and Int’l Tennis Hall of Fame, my final stop was downtown Newport, RI.

newport 2

Marveling Newport Harbor

 

newport soap

Cute soap bars made to look like cupcakes at a harbor-side shop in Newport, RI.

What’s the takeaway from this blog post?  It isn’t the Newport I grew up with, but it’s a Newport I can learn to equally appreciate and enjoy. Go visit Newport, RI!

 

I Rode Uber For the First Time Today and Loved It

uber logo

I’m going to come out and say it: Uber is awesome.

Don’t know about Uber? Here’s more information about the ride-sharing service:

Uber is evolving the way the world moves. By seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through our apps, we make cities more accessible, opening up more possibilities for riders and more business for drivers. From our founding in 2009 to our launches in over 200 cities today, Uber’s rapidly expanding global presence continues to bring people and their cities closer.

I finally used the service for the first time today here in Boston (where I’m currently on a business trip). In true conservative fashion, I take time to adapt to certain things. (Sorry, not sorry!) Back home in the D.C. metro area, I drive my car everywhere so I don’t see the need to use a taxi apart from traveling. (However, I plan to use it again for an upcoming family vacation in December!)

For those of you who know me, I’m an unabashed supporter of free markets and start-ups. Companies like Uber and Lyft pique my interest, so I’ll happily support them if they give consumers greater choice, employ standards, break monopolies created by unions, and offer a great service. (They should reconsider hiring former Obamanite David Plouffe. Not exactly a free market guy.) Though I fully support such enterprises as the aforementioned private ride-sharing services, I hadn’t used them until today. Better late than never, right?!

How do I rate my first Uber ride? 10 out of 10. Overall, riding an UberX is quite a pleasant experience. Regular taxis are too cramped, unpolished, or dirty. Their rates are expensive and their drivers are generally irritable. By contrast, Uber drivers are friendly, punctual, and professional. Uber cars are clean and presentable. Best of all? The iPhone app allows one to pay beforehand by making it easier to process a transaction and not deal with unnecessary fiddling of receipts. (Thanks to a $20 off coupon for first-time use, my ride was free.) I doubt after today I’ll ride in a regular taxi again.

Free enterprise is the most liberating and uplifting economic system ever devised. (Suck it, collectivists and Bolsheviks.)

Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are reviled by anti-choicers, particularly unions and those who despise ingenuity. In June of this year, the Department of Motor Vehicles in my adopted state Virginia issued a cease and desist letter to Uber warning them to stop operating in the Commonwealth. Uber didn’t cower to Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Richmond and remained vigilant. After many people expressed their discontent with this move, McAwful, Attorney General Mark Herring (another leftist ideologue), and others in Richmond thankfully backed off.

No government regulation or bureaucrat can kill the American entrepreneurial spirit–no matter how relentless they are in stifling consumer choice and freedom.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Uber! Long live private ride-sharing services.

 

Catch Me in Las Vegas for #SHOTShow2015

shotshow ig

Credit: Instagram – @shotshow

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be attending my very first SHOTShow® in Las Vegas, NV from January 20-23, 2015! I’ll be there on behalf of Counter Cultured to cover guns. (Thank you, Michelle S., for the recommendation and encouragement to apply!)

What’s SHOTShow®? Here’s more from the event page:

SHOT Show® is the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade ShowSM and Conference for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting accessories industry.

In addition, the show offers a uniquely diverse Law Enforcement and Armed Forces section for agency and department purchasing agents.

The largest trade show of its kind in the world and the fifth largest trade show in Las Vegas, the SHOT Show features more than 1,600 exhibitors filling booth space covering 630,000 net square feet. The show, which is a trade-only event, attracts more than 65,000 industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries.

Attendance at the SHOT Show is RESTRICTED to the shooting, hunting and outdoor trade; and commercial buyers and sellers of military, law enforcement, and tactical products and services ONLY. The show is not open to the public and NO one under age 16 shall be admitted (including infants).

Admission to the show requires government-issued photo identification plus documentation demonstrating direct, professional affiliation to the trade. Show exhibitors and media are subject to different credentialing requirements.

I haven’t been back to the West since I moved away from Southern California permanently in September 2012, so I’m excited to venture out there again. (Don’t worry–Sin City won’t get the best of me. Vegas has more to offer than crazy partying!) Excited to see cool guns, network with others, and go hotel hopping once again. (Bellagio fountain show, to-die for Paris Hotel crepes, Venetian shoppes? Count me in!)

I’ll be chronicling the event here and at Counter Cultured. Stay tuned!

Who else plans to attend? Hope to see you there!

Angling Right: Fishing in the Fall? Do It!

As temperatures begin to cool and seasons start to change, opportunities to fish become increasingly limited.

Fall on the East Coast means shortened days and chillier temperatures, which don’t spell well for fishing. (Ay!) When I used to live in SoCal, my family and I would sometimes fish until early December. Although you have to go further south to enjoy decent fall/winter fishing back here, I’ve learned I can prolong my fishing excursions for another month or two.

Need incentives to go fishing this fall? Here are five great reasons to fish during autumn from Take Me Fishing:

1. Ideal Conditions: Autumn provides perfect weather for people and fish. Temperatures are cooler during the day for a picnic, and water temperatures are just right that fish are  active, which means a first-timer is more likely to hook their first catch.

2. Accessibility: More than 90% of Americans live within an hour driving distance of navigable water, which means a day or afternoon trip is easy and affordable. Find a place near you with the Places to Boat and Fish Map.

3. Stress Relief: Reports show that being near the water can naturally help lower anxiety, and fishing and boating are easy ways to naturally relieve stress, all the more reason to plan an adventure. In fact, a recent survey revealed 20% of Americans say relaxation and stress relief as the main reasons they appreciate fishing.

4. Conservation: More people fishing and boating means more funds for protecting, conserving and restoring our nation’s aquatic resources. This is because the funds from your fishing license and boat registration go back towards the natural places you love.

5. Health Benefits: Fishing and boating bring a wealth of health benefits. An hour of casting, an afternoon of kayaking or a fight to reel in a big fish can be great exercise for any age.

Taking these benefits into account, I definitely plan to enjoy a few more opportunities to unleash my angling potential. Hope you do the same! Also, expect some more “Angling Right” posts from yours truly as I explore several new fishing spots.

Will you fish this fall? Yes? No? Weigh in below!

Happy fishing!

 

Counter Cultured Column: Gun Groups Don’t Degrade Women

I’ve penned a new column up at Counter Cultured in response to Mark Follman’s piece at Mother Jones suggesting the NRA degrades and objectifies women.

Here’s an excerpt:

The leftist blog Mother Jones recently lashed out at gun groups, specifically the National Rifle Association (NRA), by accusing it of objectifying women and treating them like sex objects.

MJ senior editor Mark Follman authored a hit piece titled “How the NRA Degrades and Objectifies Women” to purport the decades’ old lie that Second Amendment advocates, like conservatives, are sexist. (Such a big boy thought!) Follman finds fault in an article published in the latest issue of America’s 1st Freedom because it pointed out that Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America founder Shannon Watts, heroine of firearm disarmament, is dishonest in her quest to promote “gun safety.” He writes:

The premise of the lengthy article attacking Watts, authored by conservative legal scholar and gun rights lobbyist Dave Kopel, is that she is a fraud—an operative fronting a political group, rather than the homemaker turned grassroots activist she says she is. The art spread for the piece depicts Watts as a paper doll figure in high heels, with a 1950s-style kitchen apron and domestic accessories including a feather duster, iron, sponge, and spatula.

Additionally, he’s offended by the personification of guns because literacy devices that positively promote guns supposedly inspire violence:

The NRA also rolled out two videos this summer fantasizing about attractive young women as, literally, assault rifles. A video titled “Beauty Shots,” from NRA News commentator Colion Noir, “personifies one of his favorite firearms in female form.” His voiceover describes an alluring, adventurous woman as she poses in workout gear, swims in a pool, and gazes intently into the camera; at the climax of the video Noir declares, “She is: Daniel Defense M4-A1.” To some the video was simply a head-scratcher, but it also drew rebuke, not least for debuting just three days after a heavily armed college student committed mass murder in Santa Barbara, driven by his rage at attractive young women.

Much like their fellow leftists in similar outlets, Follman and his Mother Jones minions might want to tone down their whining as they’ve dedicated numerous articles and tweets to defaming pro-gun activists, especially female gun activists and enthusiasts.

 

Continue reading at Counter Cultured.

Gun Control is Not the Solution After Navy Yard Shooting

Today marks the one year anniversary of the tragic Washington Navy Yard shooting. This event left our metro area down and distressed. The unspeakable horror surrounding this event brought so much pain to those personally afflicted by it. Anyone who commits a senseless act like a killing rampage should be condemned and properly brought to justice.

How did this president commemorate this day? By calling for more expanded background checks, a revival of the “assault weapons” ban, and more restrictions on magazines. Same old, same old.

One, universal background checks NEVER work. In order to purchase a gun in your respective state, you have to undergo a background check. There are already laws in the books. Stop creating more government oversight on our Second Amendment rights. The Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis got government clearance, had a history of weird behavior, and could have been stopped. This administration did NOTHING to stop him. No redundant background check would have prevented him from committing his awful actions.

Two, “assault weapons” don’t exist. Banning guns like the AR-15 because you find them scary when all they have are certain unique features is unnecessary and foolish. Hell, even the New York Times recently published an article admitting that “assault weapons” are in themselves a myth. Semi-automatic firearms are NOT the same as fully-automatic firearms. Drop this imaginary crusade once and for all.

Third, restricting magazine capacity puts one in more danger than you think. If you’re met with a moment where your life is on the line and you don’t have enough bullets to defend yourself as a last resort-key word is last resort-you are making yourself more vulnerable to attack or worse–death. 10-round or 15-round magazines offer extra cushion for range time and, inevitably, for self-defense.

Gun control measures never reduce or eliminate the threat of violence. Instead, they bolster and enable tyranny. What’s the solution? Gun-free zones should be eliminated so tragedies like the Navy Yard Shooting never happen again.

Irony in Estonia

There is no greater irony than an American president with Marxist beliefs who already brokered a deal with Russia telling the nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania that he has their backs.

Here are some gems from his speech in Estonia today: “People want more control of their lives, not less.”; “Our commitment to your security is rock solid!”; and “I should have called the Estonians when we were setting up our healthcare website.”

Really? If he says he loves freedom, why are his policies here rooted in control and more government involvement? Why did he okay START II with Russia if he has the Baltics’ backs? Why should he and his administration be trusted if their foreign policy strategy is out of whack? Why would Estonia want to touch something like Healthcare.gov when that country, like many other formerly occupied countries under the USSR, already suffered under the wrath of socialized healthcare? It’s quite pathetic.

Here’s why you should be skeptical about the Obama administration backing the Baltics: During a 2004 trip to Ukraine, he and former U.S. Senator Dick Lugar told Ukrainian officials that their country should be disarmed of military weapons–at minimum, weakened militarily (meaning they are more vulnerable to Russian attack). Additionally, Obama essentially gave Putin via Medvedev the okay to do whatever that country wants in the name of “flexibility” in that infamous hot mic scandal before the 2012 election.

I have a vested interest in Baltic affairs because I have many family members back in Lithuania and friends in several of the Baltic states. (My mom is in Lithuania as we speak.) Given how the Obama administration has handled things domestically and foreign policy-wise, he’s not to be trusted. The Baltics need to take matters into their own hands and have the moral support of fellow freedom-lovers at their disposal.