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Archive for March, 2009

Well, like clockwork, tax day is fast approaching.  Like so many people I know, I believe that the federal income tax (along with the 16th Amendment, of course) should be abolished.  Citizens should have first claim to their money, not the federal government.  The income tax has led to a ballooning in federal revenue, which in turn has given rise to a massive increase in federal spending, government programs, bailouts, and unconstitutional usurpations.  How much longer will the American public continue to remain silent in the face of our growing welfare state?

This year, a coalition of conservative and libertarian organizations have risen in protest.  They include groups such as Americans for Prosperity, Campaign for Liberty, Freedom Works, The Leadership Institute, Young Americans for Liberty, and many others.  They are supporting a number of rallies across the nation on April 15th in opposition.  Here in Virginia, you can, (as of March 31), find rallies in:  Abingdon, Roanoke, Rocky Mount, Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Richmond, Newport News, and Virginia Beach.

So head on over to The Tax Day Coalition website to learn more and to sign up.

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I’ve met a lot of social conservatives over the years.  It should come as no surprise; after all I’m one too.  For some people, the desire to promote all, or a specific, issue(s) in the social conservative agenda is their modus operandi, his or her specific driving force in politics.  It could be:  abortion, school prayer, gay marriage, obscenity, or a host of other issues relating to social or religious norms.  We believe despite the general liberalization of laws and society that we speak in favor of the “silent majority” of citizens who agree with our positions but do not exercise their political voices.  In addition, most social conservatives support legislation, as an extension of their religious beliefs, to shape the world in a manner, which they believe, would be pleasing to God.

The problem comes when social conservatives look to the federal government to promote their agenda.  By doing so, they put themselves in conflict with both the fiscal conservatives and limited government conservatives.  Under a strict interpretation of the Constitution, the federal government has been severely restricted in its powers and involvement in societal issues.   The 10th Amendment is, without a doubt, the most neglected amendment and yet, so much of our freedoms and liberties rest with this amendment.

Relying on the federal government is a two-fold problem.  First, it grants the government authority that the Constitution doesn’t allow. For example, suppose we pass a pro-prayer in schools law.  Once we allow the federal government the power to act on social or economic issues, what happens when the liberals get into power and enact legislation that is contrary to our own?   Perhaps they pass a law not allowing prayer in schools or a law, which is favorable to some religion other than our own.  What can we do?  What is our defense?  We can no longer claim the government has no authority to act in such a way, because we just used the might of law to enact our own social legislation when we were in power.  And so the federal government continues to grow, at the expense of the rights of the states and the individuals.  I ask you consider also the track record of federal government in social issues.  Do things get better or worse?  Let’s take abortion.  Since the federal government claimed jurisdiction over the issue in 1973, have the number of abortions inn this country increased or decreased?  A silly question I know.  Did it not overturn a number of state laws, including the laws of Virginia, to allow for a far greater number of abortions?  We must strip this power from the federal government and allow the states to decide.  Will abortion still continue?  Yes…I’m certain that a number of states will allow this practice to continue, but at least we can eradicate or vastly reduce this plague in Virginia.

There are a number of otherwise well-meaning social conservatives that will throw the other strains of conservatism aside in order to achieve their social agenda.  Although seemingly well meaning, this line of thinking is dangerous to both the social conservative movement and to freedom and liberty as a whole.  We all have some sort of grand vision for society, but using the might of the federal government to enforce a worldview leads to trouble.  I’d like to see society transformed where violence and profanity are drastically curtailed in the media and the rest of life.  A world without abortion…a world where the family is protected…a world where everyone acts morally and honor God.  A nice vision I think.  But if I use the heavy hand of government to enact such a goal, do I not destroy freedom and create a fascist state?  Some might retort, “Who cares?”  However, what happens when we enact a fascist theocratic state where some faction is in charge? What happens to the protected rights of those people not in power?  Could the Catholics persecute the Protestants?  Or the Protestants persecute the Catholics?  Or how about the Muslims, Jews, or non-believers?  The next thing you know the enemies of the state are quarantined or are even executed in the search for order, uniformity, and stability.  Is this the kind of society you desire?  Alas, as a result of neo-conservatives, both the nation and the conservative movement have been sliding in this direction.  Conservatism can succeed, but, with so many other problems in life, the federal government is the problem, not the solution.

I know the temptation to seek help from the all-powerful federal government, but as citizens in a supposedly free society, we must reject these tactics.  Although we may achieve success via these means, such success will only be temporary.  We will end up yoking ourselves to this totalitarian state and end up begging our masters to promote some sort social order.  Our liberty will be lost and we will have only ourselves to blame.

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You’ve likely gotten this information from some other source, for example, both the Harrisonburg GOP and Senator Obenshain sent me an email this morning about this topic, but, if you haven’t, here is the deal.

Former Attorney General Bob McDonnell is coming to Harrisonburg as part of his statewide tour to begin campaigning for Governor.  He begins this tour Saturday in Virginia Beach and will be in Harrisonburg next Tuesday (March 31).  The rally will begin at 4:15, in Taylor Hall, Room 400 on JMU’s campus.  Full statewide tour details can be found here.

Should you be able to attend, the campaign does ask for an RSVP in one of three ways.  Either email cailin@bobmcdonnell.com, call (804) 612-9111, or visit the facebook group.  I hope to see you all there, but I don’t know yet if I’ll be working next Tuesday.  Either way, you should take this opportunity to meet the likely next Governor of the Commonwealth.

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This morning I received another email concerning the situation with Chairman Frederick.  However, the link it provides does not seem to go to the right place (at least for me).  It is as follows:

This letter can be found at
<http://virginiapolitics.mytimesdispatch.com/index.php/member/31/> 

Also it should be noted that the signers below represent Unit
Committees which comprise 35% of the Delegates to the upcoming State
Convention.

Chairman Jeff Frederick
Republican Party of Virginia
901 East Cary Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

Dear Jeff:

As fellow conservative grassroots Republican leaders, we urge you to
resign as chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. After
reflecting on recent events, we have concluded that it is time for new
leadership of our Party so that we can unify, and win this November.

We have worked tirelessly over the years to build our party, advance
conservative ideas, and elect fellow Republicans to local and state
office. We have devoted our time, talents and undying commitment to
our shared cause. It is with this commitment to our party that we
agree with the other grassroots and elected leaders who support a
change in leadership. 

Sincerely, 

Kenny Golden Chairman, Virginia Beach City GOP
Donald Williams Chairman, Chesterfield County GOP
Angela Kelly-Wiecek Chairman, Hanover County GOP
Susan Stimpson Chairman, Stafford County GOP
Mike Meredith Chairman, Rockingham County GOP
Anthony Bedell Chairman, Fairfax County GOP
Pete Burkhimer Chairman, Chesapeake City GOP
Sheriff Mike Wade Chairman, Henrico County GOP
Pam Brown Chairman, Norfolk City GOP

If these leaders have joined the growing bandwagon of GOP leaders who want Frederick gone, it will be very difficult for the Chairman to stop this growing coalition.  Although I don’t know much about the rest, I have a good deal of respect for Chairman Meredith so his name, like Senator Obenshain’s before him, adds considerable credence to the effort.  I’ll post more news on the subject as it becomes available.

Update:  Some added allies for the Frederick side.  As found on spankthatdonkey.com, the conservative stronghold of Augusta County has recently passed a resolution in support of Chairman Frederick.  It reads:

RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF RPV CHAIRMAN JEFF FREDERICK


Whereas, the Augusta County Republican Committee believes that the strength of the Republican Party comes from the grassroots up, not the top down.

Whereas, in June 2008, the State Republican Convention elected Jeff Frederick as the State Chairman with an overwhelming vote ot the delegates.

Now, therefore, be resolved, that the Augusta County Republican Committee:


1] Fully endorses and supports the Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Jeff Frederick.


2] We call on Republicans across the Commonwealth to focus on the elections at hand. Chairman Frederick is doing the job he was elected to do, namely to make the state party the servant of the local unit and not its master.


3] We call on the State Central Committee and senatorial caucus to also fully endorse Chairman Jeff Frederick and assist him unconditionally to retake

the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Republican Party.

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Lately I’ve spoken with several people about the situation concerning the Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. As there are still a number of people out there who remain uniformed, let me bring you up to speed. There are a growing number of individuals who are looking to remove Chairman Jeff Frederick from his position. In order to better understand the situation, let’s flash back a year ago.  After the November elections of 2007, the Republican Party lost majority in the Virginia Senate, a position it enjoyed since 1997.  But why did the party lose?  Some argued it was as result of the actions or inactions of the Chairman, John Hager.  Drawing upon the discontent of many of the Republicans in the state, especially the conservatives, Jeff Frederick, Delegate from the fifty-second district, launched a campaign to win the chairmanship from Hager at the May 2008 convention.  Another complaint raised against Hager was the lack of fundraising under his watch.  The Frederick campaign worked diligently, especially here in Harrisonburg, to promote their cause.  By comparison, the Hager campaign was not so visible.  Right before the convention the mudslinging intensified including slanderous accusations. I n the end, however, Frederick easily defeated Hager.

Since his election however, Chairman Frederick has come under heavy fire for three separate publicly stated accusations.  The first two mirror complaints leveled against John Hager; of low fundraising and the very poor results of the 2008 elections.  As faithful readers to this blog know, I held out little hope of Jim Gilmore’s chances of success against Mark Warner, but the fact that he won only 6 localities (Augusta County, Colonial Heights, Hanover County, Poqouson, Powhatan County, and Rockingham County) was a staggering loss.  Concurrently, John McCain lost the state by over two hundred thousand votes, thus being the first Republican candidate to lose the Old Dominion since Richard Nixon began the trend of winning in 1968.  Far more troubling, however, were the results of Virginia’s representation in the House of Representatives. Thelma Drake lost the usually conservative second district, and Keith Fimian was unable to retain Tom Davis’ seat in the eleventh.  But, the most heart breaking loss was Virgil Goode’s 727 vote loss in the fifth district.  I do wonder if the RPV could have done more to retain some of these seats.  After all, back in 2006, the RPV hired a number of activists, including myself, to bolster and augment the efforts of House and Senate campaign staffs.  Even though Senator Allen lost his reelection bid, I still maintain that the RPV put forth a good effort through their grassroots organization plan.   What I want to know is, where was this coordinated plan in 2008?  Why did the RPV not send out a similar cadre of staff?  In Harrisonburg I saw McCain and Goodlatte staff, but where was the RPV?   To my knowledge the closest RPV representative for this area was about a hundred miles away in Lynchburg (if anyone can validate or disprove this information, please let me know).  I’m guessing the issue revolved around money and fundraising.

The third concern revolves around Senator Northam, who was supposedly considering switching to the GOP.  As the Democrats held a 21-19 majority in the Virginia Senate, one switch like Senator Northam’s would tip the balance of power toward the Republican Party as Lt. Governor Bolling could cast votes to break the tie.  While  this plot unfolded Chairman Frederick sent out a twitter message stating, “Big news coming out of Senate: Apparently one dem is either switching or leaving the dem caucus. Negotiations for power sharing underway.”  After this message, the picture gets a little murky.  Some claim that Senator Northam never intended to leave the Democrats, but attempted to use this tactic to leverage his party.   Others state that Chairman Frederick’s early tweet tipped off the Democrats who were able to pressure successfully Sen. Northam to remain in their party.   Regardless of the actual reasoning, I believe that Chairman Frederick’s early posting was a poor decision as it gave many of us false hope, ultimately proved to be erroneous, and gave additional fodder to his enemies.

The plot doesn’t end here.   At the Advance last year a number of members of the RPV State Central Committee attempted to remove Chairman Frederick, but were unsuccessful.   Recently, the Committee served the Chairman a notice that they will vote on whether or not to retain him at a meeting on April 4.  In addition, both the leadership of the Republican Party in the Virginia Senate as well as all of the Republican members of the Virginia delegation in the House of Representatives have called on Chairman Frederick to resign.  I got the Senate letter in an email several days ago and it reads:

**VIRGINIA SENATE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS**

**March 6, 2009**

RPV State Central Committee

c/o The Honorable Michael E. Thomas

901 East Cary Street Richmond, VA 23219

Dear Mike:

We write on behalf of the Virginia Senate Republican Caucus to express our support for the recent actions taken by members of the State Central Committee in relation to Chairman Jeff Frederick. An overwhelming majority of our Caucus has expressed grave concern over the state of affairs at the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) in recent months and has lost confidence in Delegate Frederick’s leadership.

While we recognize the recently circulated petition is a State Central Committee matter, we stand in full support of your effort. Our Caucus has engaged in conversations with other elected Republican leaders in recent months as it became clear that Delegate Frederick’s lack of judgment was hurting our Party. Each time, we have decided that it is not our role as elected officials to pick the Chairman of RPV. We are gratified to see this movement initiating from the “grassroots.”

Our members recognize the importance of this year’s elections –both statewide and local. As a slim minority party in the Senate, it is critical to our Caucus that we retain the Lieutenant Governor’s office, retain control of the House of Delegates, and regain the Governor’s mansion. We are confident in the ability of our ticket this year to succeed, but their job would be made easier with a functional state party behind them. Heading into such an important year, it is critical that our state party have the full confidence of our candidates, our elected officials, and our grassroots. Like you, we are convinced that the only way to ensure this is a change in leadership at RPV.

Accordingly, we support and appreciate your efforts in this regard and stand ready to assist as needed.

Sincerely,

Sen. Thomas K. Norment, Jr.

Republican Leader

Sen. Stephen D. Newman

Republican Caucus Chairman

Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle

Republican Leader Pro Tempore

Sen. Walter A. Stosch

Republican Leader Emeritus

Sen. Mark D. Obenshain

Sen. Frank W. Wagner

Republican Whips

P.O. Box 1697 ♦ Williamsburg VA 23187 ♦ (757) 259-7810

Paid for and authorized by the Virginia Senate Republican Caucus

**

**

Virginia Senate Republican Caucus

Sen. Thomas K. Norment, Jr.

Republican Leader

Sen. Stephen D. Newman

Republican Caucus Chairman

Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle

Republican Leader Pro Tempore

Sen. Walter A. Stosch

Republican Leader Emeritus

Sen. Mark D. Obenshain

Sen. Frank W. Wagner

Republican Whips

Sen. Harry B. Blevins

Sen. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II

Sen. Emmett W. Hanger, Jr.

Sen. Robert Hurt

Sen. Stephen H. Martin

Sen. Ryan T. McDougle

Sen. Frederick M. Quayle

Sen. Frank M. Ruff, Jr.

Sen. Ralph K. Smith

Sen. Richard H. Stuart

Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel

Sen. William C. Wampler, Jr.

Sen. John C. Watkins

Thomas J. Cosgrove

Executive Director

The House of Representatives letter reads (as found on bearingdrift.com):

March 12, 2009

The Honorable Jeff Frederick

Chairman, Republican Party of Virginia

115 E. Grace Street

Richmond, VA 23219

Dear Jeff:

For the good of the Republican Party of Virginia we write today asking that you step aside as chairman in light of the recent call from three-fourths of the State Central Committee seeking your resignation. Clearly it is the sentiment of the grassroots membership of the Party to move in another direction.

With November’s elections rapidly approaching, it is essential that our party be unified as we work to regain control of the governor’s mansion and retain control of the House of Delegates. No one will benefit from a protracted battle over the leadership of RPV. It is in that spirit that we ask you to step down.

Sincerely,

Frank Wolf

Robert Goodlatte

Eric Cantor

Randy Forbes

Robert Wittman

Although kept secret for some time, the particular charges offered by the State Committee are broader reaching than the three listed above.  This morning I got an email from Chairman Frederick that lists all of these charges as well as his response.  It is as follows:

Notice of Intent to Remove Jeff Frederick as State Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia

Initial Response to Charges – Summary

The Call to remove Chairman Frederick consists of ten charges. Charges 1, 2, and 3 concern the Chairman’s management of RPV finances. Of those three charges, Charge 1 is the most specific, while Charges 2 and 3 are widely ambiguous, lacking specific references detailing the allegations. The remaining seven charges in the Call concern alleged infractions of the Party Plan or specific interpretations of the Party Plan.

Charge 1:

Failure to transmit, in a timely manner, online contributions made to the Republican Party of Virginia and processed by his own company. Withholding 7% of online contributions made to the RPV for a period of weeks during the summer of 2008 after repeatedly assuring the Executive Committee that he was not using his company as a vendor for RPV.

Response to Charge 1:

While waiting for a newly contracted vendor to complete work on a new RPV website and for a new online donation vendor to complete its setup requirements, the Chairman established a “place holding” website through his own firm, GXS Strategies, Inc., also using its online donation company and subsidiary, ChargedContributions.com, for a period of 91 days. In return for a 7% discount fee, it was expected that ChargedContributions.com would cover all incidental expenses related to any transactions, including payments to merchant banks and credit cards.

Key facts:

· This “place holder” approach was immediately successful. Under the previous chairman, the Party raised only $2,000 online for the first five months of 2008 combined. After the Chairman and RPV staff set up an efficient, yet temporary system, the Party raised over $21,000 online in just three months at no cost to the Party. The funds collected by the RPV website were deposited into a non-interest bearing escrow account for distribution to the Party. Distributions were made on 8 July and 1 October.

· The “place holder” page automatically reported contributions to the RPV employees’ responsible for fundraising supervision, and, providing redundant transparency, the entire account was accessible to RPV employees.

· Of the $21,135.00 in contributions collected for RPV by ChargedContributions.com, the company retained 7% of the total, or $1,479.45, to cover incidental expenses and required remittances to merchant banks, credit card companies, and an online processing service. After fulfilling obligations to merchant banks and credit card companies, ChargedContributions.com retained a maximum total of $581.62 to cover other incidental expenses associated with the credit card collection process.

· In order to fully comply with Virginia campaign finance disclosure law regarding the work it did on behalf of RPV in constructing the “place holder” website and donation page, GXS Strategies, Inc., of which ChargedContributions.com is a subsidiary, reported an in-kind contribution to RPV in the amount of $17,717.61 on 8 September.

· Far from withholding money from RPV to benefit himself, Chairman Frederick’s company provided free services to the Party in an amount that was 30 times greater than the total of the alleged monetary compensation received by his company.

· All records, documentation, and filings verifying this information and detailing these transactions can be accessed via the Virginia Public Access Project, The State Board of Elections, the Federal Elections Committee, and internal RPV documents.

To summarize Charge 1, the Chairman’s company donated $17,717.61 in-kind to the RPV. During the period this company was used, RPV netted $19,655.58 from its online donations. The Chairman’s company provided interim services for 91 days, and the Executive Committee and RPV staff had a full accounting of the fundraising.

Charge 2:

Repeated failure to fully comply with a July 22, 2008 directive unanimously adopted by the RPV Executive Committee to disclose existing and pending contracts with vendors.

Response to Charge 2:

A search of existing contracts reveals that the Executive Director of the RPV provided every known contract to members of the Executive Committee, and that a good-faith effort was made to inform members of future contracts. The Executive Committee itself acknowledged in September 2008 that they were in possession of those records, and no member has indicated to RPV, in writing or otherwise, of the existence of any contract or agreement by which we have not fully complied with this directive, let alone repeatedly so.

Charge 3:

Unauthorized expenditures of RPV funds for unbudgeted activities without either State Central Committee or Executive Committee consent.

Response to Charge 3:

While there is no specific allegation in this charge, it has been suggested by more than one Executive Committee member that the Chairman’s procurement of office space in Northern Virginia was a breach of his authority.

The Chairman rented space at a rate of $600 per month for an office in Prince William County to serve as a Northern Virginia satellite office for RPV and for his legislative constituent service office. It was his intention to use the office space for himself for donor meetings and for other business to be conducted by RPV’s Northern Virginia Field Director and its Finance Director. For the period beginning 15 October 2008 and ending 15 June 2009, Friends of Jeff Frederick paid $2,400 for its portion of the office and RPV paid $2,400.00 for its portion. All payments were made directly to the landlord.

The Party Plan grants the Chairman authority to operate the State Headquarters within the approved budgets for personnel, but makes no other restrictions on the Chairman’s ability to authorize expenditures.

Charge 4:

Failure to provide members of the State Central Committee with a reasonable time to review and consider the proposed 2009 budget prior to proposed adoption by the State Central Committee. Failure to provide one or more members of the State Central Committee with any opportunity to see the proposed budget prior to the meeting.

Charge 5:

Disregard for the minimal rights of members of the State Central Committee to participate in discussion and debate at the December 2008 meeting by refusing to recognize numerous members attempting to speak and failing to ascertain the required 2/3 vote necessary to end debate. Lack of transparency in the budget process by giving members less than 36 hours to consider the budget rather than the usual three weeks.

Charge 6:

Corruption of process by failing to conduct a proper vote on 2009 budget by (1) beginning, but not completing, either a hand count or roll call vote, both properly called for; and (2) unilaterally declaring the vote result without even a partial count of those in favor and no count whatsoever of those opposed.

Response to Charges 4, 5, and 6:

These charges all refer to the approval of the 2009 RPV Budget at the 5 December meeting of the State Central Committee. They state that Chairman Frederick demonstrated a less than firm grasp on the proceedings at various SCC meetings by failing to provide adequate time for budget review, or by failing to recognize various members during debate. More accurately, though, they reflect the disappointment of some State Central members in the outcome of this meeting.

The Executive Committee recommended against approval of the budget by the State Central Committee. But after a prolonged and contentious debate, the State Central Committee voted to approve the budget, which is now in force.

Robert’s Rules of Order and the Party Plan provide every member the opportunity to object and to challenge the Chair on rulings and by raising points of order. Further, Robert’s is clear that it is the responsibility of each member to guard the process by interaction and objection. In this case, no objections were made to the rulings, votes, and procedures described in these charges at the time of the meeting.

Charge 7:

Failure to “promptly convene” the Appeals Committee upon timely receipt of an appeal of a ruling by the General Counsel.

Response to Charge 7:

The “Appeals Committee” is not recognized by the Party Plan, so it not subject to any specific timeline. Moreover, decisions of the Appeals Committee must be affirmed by State Central if they overturn the ruling of RPV General Counsel. The appeal in question was filed specifically to the Appeals Committee the day before the December 2008 meeting of the State Central Committee. Because of an amendment made to the RPV Budget at the December 2008 State Central Committee meeting, the Party’s then-General Counsel stepped down. A meeting of the Appeals Committee could not be scheduled until after a new General Counsel accepted the post.

After a new General Counsel accepted the post, several attempts were made to schedule this meeting to comply with the availability of all participants. Despite these difficulties, the Appeals Committee is scheduled to meet on 20 March 2008, two weeks prior to the first State Central Committee meeting since December.

Charge 8:

Circumventing the State Central Committee by appointing committee and otherwise assuming Duties clearly prescribed in Article III, Section D, as duties of the State Central Committee without consultation or authorization.

Response to Charge 8:

There is ample and long-standing precedent for the Chairman to establish ad hoc committees without SCC approval. In fact, members of the Executive Committee and the SCC both offered positive feedback on the establishment of these committees, and further, no member lodged any objections. Further one of the established committees was specifically requested by a District Chairman on the Executive Committee.

Charge 9:

Damage to the reputation and effectiveness of the Republican Party of Virginia through refusal to coordinate activities, including campaign messages, with Republican nominees for public office.

Response to Charge 9:

Evidence to the contrary on this charge is extensive and heavily documented. In fact, the Chairman and RPV staff undertook several sensitive assignments from both federal and state elected officials and nominees.

Since Chairman Frederick assumed his current position, RPV staff works cooperatively, frequently, and regularly with Republican nominees, candidates, and elected officials. There are numerous examples to support this fact.

[NOTE: Since much of the evidence contradicting this charge contains sensitive internal campaign documents, supporting documentation is being offered exclusively to members of the State Central Committee.]

Charge 10:

Failure to notify the Executive Committee of a possible breach of security and/or compromise of security of data residing on servers and failure to act promptly to investigate potential breach when requested to do so.

Response to Charge 10:

In November 2008, some members of the Executive Committee alleged that there had been a breach of RPV’s e-mail lists. Less than 24 hours after the breach was alleged, Chairman Frederick utilized experts in his firm to investigate the possibility of any breach. After an extensive system analysis, which included an examination of log files, no evidence of a breach was found and the Executive Committee was so informed.

Concluding thoughts

And so the saga continues.  As more and more Republican leaders, especially conservatives like my own Senator Obenshain and the presumptive Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell, call for the resignation of the Chairman, it will become increasingly difficult for Jeff Frederick to hold on to his position.  My hope is that the State Committee will judge all of the evidence presented both for and against the Chairman fairly and render a clear decision that all can respect.  As 2009 will prove to be a key year for our party, we need to be united.  Although I do believe it will happen despite my protests, I sincerely do not want this conflict to spill over into May’s convention.  I do not believe that most of the delegates, myself included, have sufficient information to judge this case and such a public trial would likely be exceeding ugly.  Things are bad, yes, but do they warrant Chairman Frederick’s removal?  Right now I don’t know.  However, as Chairman Frederick fights for his political life and his opponents gather their forces, I don’t think any vicious new chapter to this conflict will surprise me.   Nothing defeats the Republican Party quite as well as the Republican Party itself.

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Good evening everyone.

Excellent news!  Earlier today on my trek over to Delegate Lohr’s and Senator Obenshain’s office Delegate Lohr’s legislative assistant, Joel Hensley told me that we are one step closer to bring back the Harrisonburg/Rockingham Young Republicans.  Although the group started up in the early part of 2007 and showed much promise, unfortunately it disintegrated prior to the election.  We must bring it back!  Therefore if you agree with this blog and live in the area you must join!  Ok…so if even you don’t agree with me but still hold to the ideals of the Republican creed you should get involved.  Your first step is to head on over to facebook and join the newly forming group.  Get to it.

I’ll see you there!

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I don’t know about you, but as for myself, there is one night of the year that I particularly dislike.  That night was Saturday night, the start of Daylight Saving Time.  Unless you happen to live in Arizona or Hawaii (or a few other places), then you too have been hit by this yearly whammy.  One second it is 1:59 and then bam it is 3:00.  Where did my hour go?  It is difficult to adjust, especially when it comes to sleeping.  I don’t know about you, but I cannot simply command myself to suddenly go to sleep one hour earlier than I did the previous night.  And what about the morning itself?  As a high school student I can recall many mornings when I  walked to school in utter darkness.  How safe can that be, strolling about in the twilight with groggy and sleep deprived motorists whizzing by?  And what about eating?  Aren’t breakfasts, lunches, and dinners disrupted too as schedules shift?

Daylight Saving Time is still a relatively new experiment in our nation’s existence.  For a history of Daylight Saving Time, you should check out this website.  As I know some of you don’t care to click elsewhere, let me give you a very brief summary.  Daylight Saving Time first came into widespread use in the United States in 1918, during the First World War.  It was instituted in order to reduce fuel costs but was so unpopular that it was repealed in 1919.  As a result of U.S. involvement in World War II, we were again subjected to this annoyance, but this time it was year round daylight saving time for about three and a half years.  After the war, some localities opted to continue to observe the time switch, but there was little uniformity across the nation.  Therefore, in 1966 Congress passed the Uniform Time Act to start DST on the last Sunday in April and end on the last Sunday in October.  Starting in 2007, Daylight Saving Time was extended beginning on the second Sunday in March and ending on the first Sunday in November.

But let’s return to my argument at hand.  As stated above, supporters argue that energy costs are reduced as a result of DST.  However, as a result of the hour shift, I find that on many nights, this very night included, I have to run the air conditioner for about an hour in order to cool the house sufficiently to sleep.  How is that efficient?  Also, earlier today I read an interesting article that stated that there is an increase in the number of heart attacks in the country for several days after the time change.  Apparently the suffering caused by this change is widespread and even potentially fatal.  However, I think the greatest case to make against DST deals with government intervention and arrogance.  Think about it for a moment.  How presumptuous is it for a delegate, governor, President, representative, senator, or any other government agency to change time itself?  Are they so high and mighty that they can either rob or bestow an hour as they see fit?  And do they have the constitutional or moral authority to make changes that disrupt the lives of millions?

Although I don’t think I’d make this statement about any other issue, I think that it is high time that Virginia follows the lead of Arizona and Hawaii and liberates her citizens from the torment of Daylight Saving Time.  Enough is enough.  Give me back my hour.  Stop the theft of time!

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Recently the General Assembly passed a bill (SB 1105) that “prohibits smoking in all indoor restaurants, bar and lounge areas, and restrooms in restaurants in the Commonwealth, with certain exceptions where smoking may be permitted.  Requires the posting of ‘No Smoking’ signs and provides for a $25 civil penalty for a violation of these provisions” (official summary from the G.A.’s website) as of December 1 of 2009 unless those places of business create portions of their establishments with alternate ventilation systems.  This law, as is done in the case of both gun control and abortion, is another incremental step toward outlawing the practice of smoking altogether.  Rather than pushing for an outright ban (which would met with tremendous resistance), opponents of smoking have slowly pushed their agenda.  For the longest time, we have had a “sin tax” on tobacco products which was much higher than just about any tax on any other good and much greater than the typical sales tax in most states.  Over time the tax would increase, thus although the good itself was not illegal, the inflated price would discourage citizens from either continuing their habit or trying the item for the first time.  Today I read in the DNR that the FDA and the federal government are looking into the regulation of tobacco. I should note that I have not nor do I ever plan to use any tobacco product and personally I strongly discourage the use of any tobacco products be they smoked, chewed, snuffed, or dipped.  I find all of these practices both disgusting and harmful to one’s health and I greatly look forward to the day in which no person uses these products.  So then, I must be a big fan of this new law?  No…not at all.  Business owners, not politicians in Richmond or Washington, should be able to decide for themselves if they wish to allow smoking in their places of business.  Now I prefer to frequent businesses that do not allow smoking as I don’t like being around the smoke, but that is my decision as a consumer.  If a business chooses to allow smoking, either for personal or financial reasons, that preference should be their option.  Like many nonsmokers, I’ll be less likely to come in, but, on the other hand, smokers will likely appreciate the opportunity to light up.  Given the massive crusade against smoking, I find it hard to believe that any customer or employee is not aware of the potential risks of either smoking or of second hand smoke.  If you enter such an environment then I say caveat emptor.  As a parent, if you don’t want your kids to be around second hand smoke, then don’t take your kids to a place that permits smoking. Don’t instead go to an establishment that allows smoking and then complain to the manager when the person beside you lights up.  It’s not the manager’s fault…it’s not the smoker’s fault…it’s not the government’s fault…it’s your fault for not being a responsible parent.  Your choices at that point are to sit there or leave.  I’d advise leaving.  Simple enough.

Besides tobacco usage, people engage in all sorts of activities that are potentially dangerous to their health.  So does that concern give the government the right to be the health police?  These days obesity is a major issue.  I believe that the mass consumption of fast food is a major contributor to the health decline of many Americans.  If they were to greatly reduce or, even better, eliminate patronage at these establishments, I sincerely believe that the average health of citizens would improve dramatically.  So then should I advocate government regulation for the betterment of my fellow citizens?  Again, the answer is no.  First of all, the ends do not justify the means.  Should we look to the government to solve all of society’s problems?  Obviously, like tobacco, many citizens freely choose to engage in these behaviors we consider risky.  Must their freedoms be curtailed because we know (or supposedly know) better?  I’m sure that I myself partake in behaviors that shorten my life expectancy.  For example, I know that I should exercise more frequently, but due to various reasons, I do not do so.  Should the government (local, state, or federal) mandate exercise requirements for me?  Heaven forbid.  Such a policy, although expected from a fascist police state, is unreasonable for a supposedly free republic like our own.

What about seat belt laws?  Although I think we can all agree about the importance of wearing a seat belt while either driving or riding in a vehicle, is it really the prerogative of the state to decide for us whether or not we should engage in protecting ourselves?  Fortunately the government has wisely restrained itself from being our nanny in our own autos, and therefore…oh no…wait a minute…that’s not right.  My mistake.  For some reason we’ve come to believe it is reasonable for the government to be our co-pilot for the sake of our own safety.  Gee, as we surrendered our choices and personal responsibility to the government on this issue, it should come as no surprise that the government seeks to extend its influence further into the public health and safety debate.

Now I think that the public should not turn a blind eye when companies attempt to mislead people concerning the dangers or potential dangers of using or consuming their products, but if we know what the risks are, then each person should be able to decide for him or herself if he or she chooses to use such products or engage in those behaviors.  When it comes to smoking in private businesses it is time to get the government out!  Nevertheless, I expect that the crusade against tobacco products will intensify in the coming years.  Prices will continue to rise and one day you won’t be able to smoke at all in public, and then not even in your own home.  Although I ask that you continue to show the courtesy of refraining from smoking in confined areas (especially around me), to all my friends who enjoy a the liberty of a good smoke I say, “smoke ‘em while you got ‘em”.

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