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Archive for April, 2009

Several days ago, I sent a message to the staff of my Representative, Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) regarding HR 1207, also known as the Federal Reserve Transparency Act. Specifically, I wanted to know the Congressman’s opinion on the legislation, and, if he agreed with such legislation, if he would sign on as a co-sponsor.  This resolution (text found here) sponsored by Ron Paul (TX-14) seeks to curtail the vast power of the Federal Reserve by requiring an audit of the system prior to 2011.  I believe that it is an important step to restoring fiscal integrity and making the government and independent agencies accountable to the people.

This evening, while reading an updated list of co-sponsors to the resolution (now over 100 fellow members of the House of Representatives), I was delighted to see that Representative Goodlatte’s name along side Rep. Broun (GA-10) and Rep. Garrett (NJ-5).  Thank you Rep. Wittman (VA-1) too!  What about the rest of the Virginia delegation?  I’m talking about you, Glenn Nye, Bobby Scott, Randy Forbes, Tom Perriello, Eric Cantor, Jim Moran, Rick Boucher, Frank Wolf, and Gerry Connolly.  It’s time for you to make a stand for freedom, limited government, and the Constitution…or are all those things outdated?  Anyway, maybe, just maybe the government will start to shift in the right direction.  Here’s hoping.

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One Less RINO

Well…I got home from work this evening and browsed the news.  What did I find?  Senator Specter of Pennsylvania has switched from the Republican to the Democratic Party.  Really his departure comes as little surprise.  After all, I would hardly classify him as a limited government conservative.  Remember, he was one of three Republicans who voted for Obama’s “stimulus package”.  He faced a conservative primary opponent his last election and only garnered 51% of the vote.  For the 2010 election, polls indicated that Pat Toomey (Specter’s 2004 and 2010 challenger) stood an excellent chance to defeat the senior Senator.

When it comes to the important issues of the day, I found myself disagreeing with the Senator on: abortion, affirmative action, immigration, McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform, and the minimum wage.  In order to achieve victory, the party must be about principles and the Constitution.  It is clear that both the Republican Party and the people of Pennsylvania can do better than Senator Specter.

True, this move causes the Democrats to nudge ever closer to the 60 filibuster-proof majority, but I think he will be as much a problem for the Democrats as he was for the Republicans.  Hurrah!  We now have one less RINO!

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Recently a fellow by the name of Mark asked me if I could tell him a bit about life and politics here in Virginia.  So, for the out-of-staters and the recently relocated, here are my impressions.  To begin, I need to inform you that I don’t have a whole lot of experience living in other states.  There are only three other states in which I have spent any appreciable time: Tennessee, South Carolina, and California.  Therefore I won’t be comparing Virginia to any particular state.  With that note out of the way, let’s begin.

As of this point I have lived in a handful of locations in the state: Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Charlottesville, Williamsburg, and to a much lesser extent Virginia Beach.  Geologically speaking, these cities and counties encompass a geographic majority of the state’s regions: the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Piedmont, and the Tidewater.  So if you enjoy the sun and surf of the beach, the gentle rolling topography, or the tranquility of the mountains, Virginia has all three and more.  Although much of the state is still fairly rural, if you enjoy the hustle and bustle of the big city areas such as Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax or the Hampton Roads area should be your destination.  Unlike any other state, cities and counties in this state are politically separate entities.  Virginia has 39 cities and 95 counties.  Cities in Virginia are not necessarily a reflection of a large and concentrated population as cities range from Norton with a population of 3,904 in 2000 to Virginia Beach with an estimated 440,415 in 2008.

Politically and culturally speaking, Virginia is still one of the more conservative states in the Union.  Although it is true that President Obama won the state, prior to his victory, no Democratic candidate for president has won here since Lyndon Johnson back in 1964.  Recently the Democratic Party has enjoyed a string of successes in statewide politics with the election of two Democratic Senators, two successive Governors, present control of the Virginia Senate, and two new members of the House of Representatives.  However, in order to achieve these victories, they have run candidates who are (or pretend to be) far less liberal than the national party.  For example, our senior Senator Jim Webb supports the second amendment right of gun ownership, supports making English the national language, and was against the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill.  When it comes to the culture, most businesses (at least outside the major cities) are either closed on Sunday or operate on abbreviated hours.  In addition, many citizens attend some sort weekly religious services.

Unlike most states, both Virginia and New Jersey have elections every year.  In even years we elect officials to go to Washington, in the odd years we elect them to go to Richmond.  In addition, some localities hold their city or county elections at yet another time.  For example, until recently, the city of Harrisonburg held their elections for city council in the spring.  One can find some sort of election or campaign just about any month of the year.  This year we are electing every member of the House of Delegates, Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General.  Like every other state, with the notable exception of Nebraska, Virginia has a bicameral legislature, which is called the General Assembly.  The lower house is the House of Delegates, consisting of 100 members, and the upper house is the Senate, consisting of 40.  The Governor is a bit weaker than the executives of other states as he is barred by the Constitution from seeking successive reelection.  Our government is less involved and mettlesome than Washington in that our legislature meets only on a part-time basis (typically 30 or 60 days per year).

Recent legislation by the state has been a mixed bag.  While George Allen (R) was Governor, he succeeded in reforming parole and mandating parental notification for teen abortions.  Jim Gilmore (R) won as Governor on the pledge of elimination of the car tax (which, unfortunately, has not be completely eliminated).  In 2003, a number of Republican lawmakers allied themselves with then Governor Mark Warner (D) to raise taxes.  As a result, Republicans lost control of the Senate in the next election, 2007, a body they controlled since 1999.  Back in 2006, Virginia voters approved the Marshall-Newman amendment to the Constitution that defines marriage as between one man and one woman and forbids same-sex civil unions.  Recently Senator Obenshain unsuccessfully attempted to wrest control of liquor sales away from the state.  In Virginia, presently all liquor sales must be done through state-run ABC stores.  Although typically a tobacco (and business) friendly state, smoking will soon be banned in all restaurants.  Speaking of restaurants, as I’ve mentioned in the past, any one worth its salt will serve a good sweet tea.

I could write on for pages and more pages, but I’ve observed that most of the state’s values and traditions remain relatively the same from year to year, to borrow a quote from Bilbo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring movie “with change coming slowly, if it comes at all”.

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In recent times, there has been little for limited government conservatives, such as myself, to be happy about.  If you will recall, back in 2000 Governor George W. Bush campaigned as a “compassionate conservative”, whatever that truly means.  I always have assumed that conservatism, at its heart, is sufficiently compassionate as it promotes the ideals of personal reasonability and liberty, over reliance to a burdensome government that can give you anything you want, albeit inefficiently, but also take away everything you have.  Unfortunately, as a result of the 2001 terrorist attacks, the Bush Administration broke just about all of its supposed ties to limited government conservatism.  It became a sort of conservative dark ages.  As expected, the military budget increased to combat terrorism, however, George W. Bush supported many policies which ran counter to conservative ideals:  immigration amnesty, greater federal involvement in education with the No Child Left Behind Act, attempting to nominate a person to the Supreme Court with little knowledge of Constitutional Law, laying the foundation for a police state through the Patriot Act, and starting a pre-emptive war in Iraq to name the biggest issues.  Unfortunately, as George Bush was a Republican, far too few conservatives were willing to speak against his policies.  I am certain that if a Democrat advocated legislation such that Bush advocated conservatives would have raised a big fuss.  I recall wistfully remarking to one of my professors the hope that the Republican Party would offer a conservative alternative to Bush in the 2004 Presidential election.

The 2008 Republican presidential election didn’t provide a whole lot of hope for conservatives either.  Early front runners like Rudy Giuliani, who was far from a social conservative, Mitt Romney, who supported state sponsored healthcare and has held both points of view on many political issues, and Mike Huckabee, who although a social conservative seemed to forget about limited government and fiscal restraint, filled me with considerable concern.  As you know from reading this blog, I decided to rally behind the only Republican candidate who consistently spoke in favor of shrinking the national government, Representative Ron Paul.  Unfortunately, too many conservatives scoffed at the idea of Paul being their nominee.  Some firmly believed in Bush’s conflict in Iraq while others lumped Paul as being the same as some his more radical, conspiracy-minded followers.  Nevertheless, John McCain became the Republican nominee.  As I have stated in the past, although Senator McCain advocated a few conservative policies, he is not a conservative.  This truth should have become painfully clear as a result of the McCain/Feingold muzzle on free speech, his support for amnesty, and his insistence during the debates of compelling the government to buy up and renegotiate bad mortgages.  Yuck!  Although many conservatives grudgingly voted for McCain, others either stayed home on election day, voted for Obama, or voted for a third party candidate.  Still, I was still surprised by how badly McCain lost.  Conservatism was further removed from the national stage.

For the first time in a long while, I’m beginning to gain a glimmer of hope.  Now I believe that we are only a few years from a conservative renaissance.  “How can that be?” You might ask.  Under Obama and the series of bailouts the state has grown ever larger.  What politician is willing to take a stand for my liberty…for my tax dollars?  Just look at recent events.  More and more states have passed resolutions reclaiming their sovereignty as protected by the 10th Amendment.  We don’t know what sort of legal impact these resolutions will make, if any, but it is clearly an important step if we wish to reign in the federal government.  And consider the tea parties.  In hundreds of locations across the nation, thousands upon thousands of disenchanted citizens gathered to protest excessive government taxes and spending.  Think back to last year at this time.  If the protest occurred then, wouldn’t they have been labeled as radical or ignored completely by media outlets like FOX News?  Have either spending or taxes risen so dramatically between Bush and Obama?  Hardly.  And yet now that a Democrat lives in the White House, conservatives and Republicans of many stripes can band together in opposition to Obama’s policies.

The present time harkens back to 1994 when the Democrats controlled the Presidency, the House, and the Senate.  However, unlike that time, we must nominate and elect principled limited government Constitutional conservatives who will remain true to their values, not be corrupted with the temptations of power and kickbacks.  Then, and only then, we will enjoy the fruits of a lasting conservative renaissance.  Our goals are clear.  Let us not waiver.

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I’m pleased to announce we have a new member in our happy conservative blogging coalition, The Jeffersoniad.  For those who don’t know, The Jeffersoniad is a group of conservative and libertarian bloggers from across our great Commonwealth.  In any event, may I present to you SWAC Girl.  I first met Lynn Mitchell, the blog’s author, back in 2006 while working for the RPV.  She impressed me as a very dedicated and passionate activist back then.  Like myself, she is a resident of the Shenandoah Valley.  For those who don’t know Virginia geography, her local politics encompass the neighboring southern county and cities, the cities of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County, which form her acronym SWAC.  Her blog is a good deal older than my own and, according to her website, it started in the early part of 2006.  Although you might not agree with everything she has to say (heck, a number of you disagree with a lot of what I have to say), I certainly think her site is worth reading.  Right now, she’s got some good stuff up about the recent tea party events, including pictures from the Staunton Tea Party.  Go check it out!

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I received word earlier today that Harrisonburg will be hosting a Tea Party/Tax Protest tomorrow.  Here are the details:

12:00 to 6:00 PM
At the courthouse in downtown Harrisonburg. (Intersection of Route 33 and Route 11, aka intersection of Market and Main Street, aka Court Square)

Think the government wastes money?  Are your taxes too high?  Were the massive bailouts a betrayal of common sense and the Constitution?  Are you tired of being ignored by the bureaucrats and politicians in Washington?  Do you favor capitalism over socialism?  If you answer yes to any or all of the questions above, then you should attend tomorrow’s tea party.  Unfortunately, I’ll be unable to attend tomorrow, so if you get any good pictures/video of the event, please let me know and I’ll put them up on this blog for everyone to see.

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To all my fellow Christian friends out there, I have what may sound as a radical suggestion for you…forget Easter. “What?!?” you might say.  Don’t you think it is important to remember the resurrection?  Absolutely.  The resurrection is a cornerstone of the faith.  As Paul reminds us “And if Christ was not raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your trust in God is useless.” 1 Corinthians 15: 13 (NLT).

So what’s the deal with Easter?  The problem is that Easter is not a Christian holiday.  It is of pagan origins.  For starters, how many times does the day Easter show up in the Bible?  Unless you have a King James translation of the Bible, the answer is almost certainly zero.  For the record, in the King James version, Acts 12:4 reads, “And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.”  Now even if you hold that Easter and the resurrection of Jesus are related, using the term Easter makes no sense here.  Why would Herod, of whom the above verse references, care about Easter?  Therefore, every (or most every) other translation uses the word Passover as opposed to Easter.

Easter itself is named after a pagan goddess, Eostre, and was a celebration of this goddess and the coming of spring.  Europeans celebrated this rite (or one similar) long before they had ever heard of Jesus.

So how did the most important date in Christianity and this pagan holiday wed?  After all, we know that Jesus’ death and resurrection historically took place before, during, and after the Jewish Passover.  Why then is his resurrection not tied to the dates of Passover?

Prior to the First Council of Nicaea in 325, some Christians celebrated the Resurrection at the same time that Jews celebrated Passover, while others did not.  At the Council, the majority opinion further distanced Christianity from its Jewish roots by detaching the celebration of the Resurrection with Passover.  The dates of Passover, taking place from the 15th of Nisan to the 21st, differed from year to year as the Jewish people use a lunisolar calendar (as opposed to a lunar year used both by the Julian calendar then and our Gregorian calendar now). The celebration of the resurrection was to now take place on the first Sunday after the full moon taking place after the vernal equinox, March 21.

With the Resurrection now divorced from the Passover, as Christianity spread to Northern Europe it supplanted and mutated with the previous pagan religions.  Old gods and goddesses such as Eostre fell out of favor but their holidays and festivities did not.  In order to make the transition easier, many local traditions melded with this new religion.  Thus bunnies and eggs, reminders of fertility, the arrival of spring, and foreign gods now share equal, or even greater time with the true Christian meaning for this holiday.

For example, while suffering with the flu a few weeks back, I visited my local drug store.  Signs wished customers a “happy Easter” and their shelves were filled with related products.  Guess how many mentions or images of Jesus, the crucifixion, and the resurrection I could find?  Zero.  The shelves were stocked with eggs and bunnies created from a variety of chocolates and other sweets.  Given a choice between Eostre and Jesus, clearly paganism wins out in our society.

The resurrection, like the birth of Christ, has become a mere marketing tool steeped in the religions of old!  For my commentary on the Christmas season, read ‘Tis the Season Part 1 and Part 2.

Looking back, it didn’t have to end up like this.  But the willingness to modify Christianity to coincide calendar-wise with old festivals, as well as a refusal to stand up for the true meaning of our holidays has led us to this state.  As opposed to focusing on Jesus, the Messiah, we now have Santa, the Quid Pro Quo Materialist god, and the Easter Bunny, the Chocolate god.

What would be the easiest solution?  Although many might scoff at the idea, change the dates of the commemoration of the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus away from pagan holidays and back to their historic norms (likely sometime in September and the Passover).  Without the present trappings, maybe everyone will recognize Christian holidays as being about something else…Jesus perhaps?

If you want to celebrate both Easter and Christmas for the seasons that they have become, feel free to do so.  Just don’t confuse a Cadbury cream egg or a basket of plastic grass as a sign of anything Christian.

Until next time!

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