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Ron Paul has a solution to the pirate problem

It's bounty hunters. They're even legal. Now, will Congress go along?

April 19, 2009|Andrew Malcolm and Johanna Neuman

Ron Paul, the Texas congressman and darling of Libertarians everywhere, has an idea on how the United States can deal with the Somali pirates plaguing international shipping in the Indian Ocean: hire and train some bounty hunters.

The idea, unlike some of Paul's proposals, is actually gaining traction in Congress. The U.S. Navy is too big for the mission. So, hiring and training bounty hunters to go after the pirates is, as Political Machine put it, "a classic case of fighting fire with fire."

The mechanism would be a little-known power in the Constitution called marque and reprisal. The provision was used often during the Revolution and the War of 1812, but not since. Basically, the law allows the United States to hire private citizens to keep international waters safe.

"If we have 100 American wannabe Rambos patrolling the seas, it's probably a good way of getting the job done," said Competitive Enterprise Institute's Eli Lehrer.

If Congress does start using the provision, it might want to consider a few amendments. Under current law, bounty hunters are allowed to keep the ship and any treasure they capture.


Gay and GOProud

Perhaps it's a sign of the times.

When even Iowa is signing up for gay marriage, maybe it was inevitable that gay Republicans -- the sacrificial lamb that political guru Karl Rove used to assure George W. Bush's 2004 reelection -- would experience growing pains.

That's just one possible explanation for a new political organization. Called GOProud, the new 527 (tax-exempt) organization promised a traditional conservative agenda to fill what it called a void in gay Republican politics.

"Until today, no organization has stood up for gay conservatives and their conservative allies," said Jimmy LaSalvia, the group's executive director.

That will be news to the granddaddy of the gay GOP movement -- the Log Cabin Republicans, a 30-year-old organization that has pushed for more inclusiveness in the party's politics.

But to hear the GOProud crowd talk, you'd think that advocating against workplace discrimination is somehow wimpy. And if you read the organization's manifesto -- advocating repeal of inheritance taxes, fighting against global extremists and defending gun rights -- you'll notice an allegiance to President Reagan's core principles.

"There are lots of organizations on the gay left working on issues like hate crimes and federal employment discrimination," said Christopher Barron, GOProud's chairman. "But there is no organization working on issues like tax equity, free-market healthcare reform, Social Security reform and other traditionally conservative issues."

All of which bemuses William McGurn, former Bush speechwriter, who wrote in the Wall Street Journal about the irony that "it is the gay wing of the Republican Party which is now advocating for a return to the party's Reaganite roots."

The group could be a wild card in GOP politics. An estimated 1.5 million gays and lesbians voted for Arizona Sen. John McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Would that number have been higher if Palin's name had been on top? That's what GOProud is counting on.

In the past, evangelicals and other hard-core conservatives have tried to block the doors of the Republican Party.

But now, with Barack Obama in the White House and the demographic profile of the country leaning Democratic, party leaders are reaching out to young and minority voters, installing Michael Steele as Republican National Committee chairman and promoting Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on the national stage.

The key question: Has Republican public opinion moved on from the Rove strategy of 2004 when he used gay marriage as a wedge issue -- or will this group too be used as a scapegoat?


Neuman writes for The Times.

Read Top of The Ticket, The Times' blog on national politics, at

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