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Archive for June, 2011

Back in 2009, then political novice Robin Abbott unseated the 21-year Republican incumbent Delegate Phil Hamilton of the 93rd district.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the two most important factors determining this outcome were the Old Dominion University scandal and the general Democratic leanings of the 93rd.

I’m not going to rehash the ODU matter here, but rather reexamine the claim that the old 93rd is generally hostile to Republican candidates.  First, we have the 2009 House of Delegates election itself, where Democrat Robin Abbott captured 53.94% of the vote as compared to Hamilton’s 45.6%.  Now obviously having served for 21 years, Hamilton had a clear name ID advantage to Abbott, but without further thought one may merely conclude that the result was completely due to hostility as a result of ODU.  But we should always look at the numbers.

In the 2009 election, the 93rd comprised the northwestern portions of Newport News as well as two eastern precincts of James City County.  While both James City County precincts were above Hamilton’s overall percentage (48.34% for Roberts A and 63.17% for Roberts B), he only won two precincts in Newport News (Deer Park 50.81% and Watkins 56.98).

How do these numbers compare to another contest at the same time, say the 2009 Governor’s race?  In Roberts A & B, McDonnell captured 57.42% and 72.85% of the vote respectively.  In 93rd portion of Newport News, he exceeded his statewide average of 58.61% in only one precinct, Watkins.

Looking back to 2008, how did McCain/Palin fare in the 93rd?  I should first mention that they won 46.33% of the vote in Virginia.  Only in Roberts B (68.23%) and Watkins (55.45%) did they get a higher margin than the statewide average.  Some precincts in Newport News, such as Epes (19.15%), Greenwood (23.42%), McIntosh (23.79%), Lee Hall (28.47) and Reservoir (31.76%), they didn’t even manage to get a third of the vote!  Given these numbers over the past several years, I think you can argue that the 93rd was not a friendly place for Republican candidates.

Well, how have things changed with redistricting?  This new 93rd has lost many precincts in Newport News while picking up about 12,500 James City County residents, about 14,000 Williamsburg residents, and about 5,300 York County residents.  Although the citizens of Williamsburg are more liberal than average Virginian, so too are James City County and York County residents considerably more conservative.

Let’s discover what was lost and gained in Newport News.  The precincts of Epes, Palmer, Deer Park, and Watkins were completely eliminated from the 93rd while Reservoir was split between the 93rd and 94th.  While the removal of Epes should be welcome news to Republican challengers, Palmer, Deer Park, and Watkins were Hamilton’s top three showings in the city.  Ouch!  In exchange, the 93rd picked up the Bland precinct.  However, that precinct performed well below average for Republican Delegate Glenn Oder in 2009 (48.12% to his typical 67.62%).  Losing Epes got rid of 7,800 people who typically don’t support Republicans, but shaving off 8,000 in Deer Park, 6,200 in Palmer, and 5,500 in Watkins who are far more favorable to the GOP will certainly sting.  Plus the new 1,400 people in Bland won’t likely be doing Republicans any favors.  I don’t think it is a stretch to say that it will be nearly impossible for a Republican to win a majority of these Newport News sections of the 93rd.  This exchange should significantly bolster Abbott’s numbers here in 2011.

What about Williamsburg?  Having lived in Williamsburg for four years while attending the College of William & Mary, I can personally tell you that the city is not particularly favorable to conservatives.  For example, in 2009 Stan Clark, the Republican delegate candidate, fared 4.5% poorer on average in Williamsburg than the rest of the district while Bob McDonnell posted numbers that were 13.4% below normal.  In 2008, McCain ended up almost 12% worse than his state average.  Gee, things don’t seem to look too good for Republican contenders do they?

Well, let’s move on to James City County and York County.  Unlike the cities, these areas contain a much higher percentage of Republican voters.  With the exception of the precincts of Roberts C and Jamestown B (although 2009 delegate candidate Clark did better there too), delegates, governors, and presidential candidates drew considerably more support from these new precincts of the 93rd than they enjoyed on average.  For the biggest example, in the Harwoods Mill precinct, now split between the 93rd and 91st, McDonnell got a 17.85% boost and McCain got a 22.19% increase from the norm.

So what’s the bottom line?  Well, in this new 93rd Republicans will suffer greatly for the additions and subtractions in Newport News, not to mention the addition of Williamsburg.  The influx of voters from James City County and especially York County will help a lot, but will they be enough to offset the Democratic swing of the cities?  Possibly.  For comparison purposes, Bob McDonnell won about 52% of the vote in the old 93rd and would have won about 54% in this new one.  Although both numbers are below his state average, the fact remains that he emerged victorious in either scenario.

This year, Republican businessman Mike Watson is challenging Democratic freshman Delegate Robin Abbott.  This race will hinge on a number of factors besides just the numbers listed above.  Has Abbott done a good job reaching out to her constituents?  Are they pleased, upset, or apathetic with her performance in the House?  Has she bolstered her name ID?  What sort of connections can Watson draw upon in the 93rd?  And which side will have the greater number of volunteers and a motivated base?

Given my connection with Williamsburg and my employment in the 93rd during the last cycle, you can bet that I’ll be keeping my eye on this race.  Now in fairness whether Robin Abbott is retained or replaced in the House of Delegates, either outcome will have little impact in the balance of power in that chamber.  Nevertheless, I expect liberal and conservative activists from Williamsburg, James City, Newport News, and York will have their hands full with this one.

I’d rate the 93rd a toss up right now.  The numbers slightly favor the Republicans but the incumbency factor boosts the Democrats.  Either side has the potential to win; I just don’t think that it’ll be easy for anyone.

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Virginia is gearing up for another election year.  Then again, every year is an election year in this state.  Like New Jersey, Virginia is a bit of an oddity in that we elect our representatives in state government in the odd numbered years.  Although this method does allow our state government to be partially detached from fluctuating national trends, it also means that we elect some legislator or another every November.

Here in the central Shenandoah Valley, office seekers to the House of Delegates, State Senate, and the various constitutional offices are in the early stages of winning allies and expanding their coffers.  We have five House members up for re-election as well as two State Senators.  Right now the field is pretty stable.  None of the present members (all Republicans) have any primary challengers and only one of them, Delegate Dickie Bell of Staunton, currently has a Democratic opponent for the fall.  I’m working on an in-depth analysis of the 20th district contest for an upcoming post.

No doubt the biggest race in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County for 2011 has to be sheriff.  Currently, there are three people seeking the post.  Kurt Boshart and Bryan Hutcheson are vying for the Republican nomination that will be decided on July 12th.  The winner of this contest will face independent candidate C.M. Hess on the November ballot.

But what are my predictions regarding these two races?  Well, for the House of Delegates, Laura Kleiner is pretty green politically (her experience only reaches back to 2009 according to her website) and the newly drawn 20th district is still conservative.  Also, the more I listen to Delegate Bell, the more I like him.  I have to assume that other conservative activists in the Valley are reacting likewise.  Given these factors, I expect Dickie Bell will retain the seat.

As for the sheriff’s race, I’ll wager that once next month’s dust settles that Boshart will be the GOP nominee.  He seems to have a greater support among the Republican faithful and, as far as I can tell, has done a better job courting their support.  However, if the general election were held today, I believe Mr. Hess will prove victorious.  First of all, he is winning the sign war.  Drive around the city and especially the county and you’ll likely see a much greater number of his signs up at local businesses and the yards of supporters than either Hutcheson or Boshart.  Second, partisan leaning seem to have little influence over this race.  Although the area is heavily conservative, voters don’t necessarily favor the Republican nominee over an Independent when it comes to sheriff.  For example, in the last contested race in Harrisonburg in 2003, the Independent beat the Republican by a hefty 18.5%.

When considering either the sheriff or the delegate race, one should always remember that a lot can happen between now and Election Day.  After all, it is only late June now.  As 2006 and 2009 showed, one grievous slip of the tongue or a perceived ethical lapse by a candidate can easily scuttle months or years of effort.  Barring any major setback, the strength or weakness of a campaign effort will have a far greater impact than anything else…except maybe the lines of the district in question.

As with any political campaign, it should be interesting to watch.

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Since I first took an interest in politics in 1994, my hometown of Harrisonburg has been represented by 2 different Delegates, 2 State Senators, 5 Governors, 4 U.S. Senators, 3 Presidents, and a vast multitude of city council members.  During this time, there has been only one consistent factor in the Harrisonburg political representation, Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke.  First elected in 1992, he has been our voice in the United States House of Representatives, uninterrupted for these last 19 years.

Given that the 6th district is arguably the most conservative and most Republican district in the state of Virginia, it comes as no surprise that Bob Goodlatte has won so many times.  But were you aware that the Democratic Party has fielded a candidate in only one of his last six elections?  Furthermore, each time that Goodlatte has faced a Democratic opponent, he has turned back these challengers handily, capturing between 60 to 69% of the vote.

So what about the elections when the Democrats don’t try?  Well, in those cases Goodlatte often has no opposition, as was the case in 1994, 2000, and 2004, or an assortment of third party and/or independent candidates.  These opponents outside the two-party system fare even worse that the Democrats.  For example, in the most recent contest back in 2010, he trounced both a Libertarian and Modern Whig, garnering a commanding 76.26%.

After taking the last election off, the Democratic Party seems poised to try to capture the seat once more.  Right now, their probable candidate appears to be Andy Schmookler, a radio personality and author from Shenandoah County.

However, unlike every previous contest, save for his first in 1992, we have an unusual challenge; Bob Goodlatte is facing an opponent from within the Republican Party.  Running as a liberty-minded Republican is Karen Kwiatkowski, a former Air Force Colonel, college instructor, and political author from Shenandoah County.

Now, if either the Republican nomination or the general election were held today, I would expect Bob Goodlatte to win both handily.  After all, he has a massive advantage in name ID, war chest contributions, and is generally liked in political circles, Republican or otherwise.

According to Roanoke’s WSLS, at an event in Verona earlier this month Mr. Schmookler “compared his 6th District campaign to the rebel…mission to destroy the Death Star”.  That assessment may not be too far from the mark.  As fans of the Star Wars trilogy will recall, Han Solo declared Luke’s lucky shot at the end of the first film to be “one in a million”.  With all due respect to Mr. Schmookler and the Democratic Party, given the conservative nature of the voters in the Shenandoah and Roanoke Valleys as well as the surrounding highlands, a Democratic victory in the 6th seems just about as improbable as the undermanned and under equipped rebels’ assault in that movie.

Although we don’t know if it will be decided by a primary, convention, or something else, which can certainly influence the outcome, I would expect the most exciting contest to be in the Republican nomination.  Are voters happy with Mr. Goodlatte and our current representation in Congress?  And what kind of alternative is Mrs. Kwiatkowsi offering?  These questions are the central issue that the two candidates and their campaigns will need to answer.

Mr. Goodlatte has a clear advantage over any challenger at this stage, but I’m looking forward to watching the contest to come.  As a fellow voter in the 6th, I encourage you to read about the candidates and visit their websites to learn more about our Representative, Bob Goodlatte, and his two contenders, Andy Schmookler, and Karen Kwiatkowski.

Is Bob Goodlatte unbeatable?  So far that answer seems to be yes.  But, there are other factors we must consider.  First, when we mix the contest with a high profile Senate and Presidential race, the story gets far more interesting. Second, given that he is opposed from both the left and the right, it seems certain that 2012 will be the most intriguing House race that Virginia’s 6th has seen in decades.

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Although you may have forgotten, back on February 15th of this year, I sent a message to my Representative, Bob Goodlatte (VA-6), asking why he voted to continue several constitutionally questionable provisions of the Patriot Act including roving wiretaps and allowing federal government access to your library records.

Let me tell you that, in the past, I’ve been very impressed with his response to my queries.  In general, they have arrived within a few weeks and include very detailed answers to the issue in question.  Therefore, although I happen to disagree with him over this particular matter, I eagerly awaited his answer.  After all, political dialogue is one of the great hallmarks of our government.

Well, on Thursday, June 2nd, one hundred and seven days since my inquiry, I finally received a response.  I could explain how much effort it took on my part to get this reply; how many phone calls, emails, and office visits I made over these three and a half months as I waited.  But, I’ll save that whole story for another blog post.

So, after all this waiting, what did Representative Goodlatte say?  Well…

Dear Joshua:

Thank you for contacting me regarding civil liberties and the USA PATRIOT Act. It’s good to hear from you.

The September 11th terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon quickly reshaped the priorities of Congress, the Bush Administration, and the Department of Justice (DOJ).  In response, the original USA PATRIOT Act was passed by the House and Senate, and signed into law on October 26, 2001. This law, which I supported, gives law enforcement officials the tools they need to wage a successful fight against terrorism while safeguarding the civil liberties of Americans.

The investigative tools that this law provides assist in protecting the nation against terrorism. Those tools used in national security investigations include application of wiretap and other electronic surveillance orders to new technologies like the Internet and cellular phones and the authority for federal law enforcement officials to share foreign intelligence information with other government officials with responsibilities for national defense, protection of federal officials or facilities, and immigration.

As you may know, H.R. 514, the FISA Sunsets Extension Act of 2011, was introduced by Representative James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, and would extend the sunset for the three temporary provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act until May 27, 2011.

Like you, I am concerned about the protection of civil liberties. The USA PATRIOT Act, as amended by subsequent reauthorizatioins [sic], preserves civil liberties while combating terrorism by retaining evidentiary standards for obtaining warrants, and subjecting information sharing to court supervision.

The FISA Sunsets Extension Act of 2011 was introduced on January 26, 2011, and passed the House on February 14, 2011, by a vote of 275 – 144.  This legislation passed the Senate on February 16, 2011 by a vote of 86-12.  H.R. 514 was then signed into law by the President on February 25, 2011, becoming public law 112-3.

The world that we live in since September 11th will require us to be more patient, to be more alert, and to tolerate more inconveniences.  However, we must be careful not to trade our personal freedoms for the promise of security.  Once we have sacrificed the civil liberties that our Nation was founded on, we have allowed terrorism to defeat us.  Rest assured that I will keep your views in mind as Congress considers measures regarding to the USA PATRIOT Act.

I appreciate you taking the time to contact me.  I feel it is important to keep an open line of communication so I can best serve the interests of the 6th District.  I hope you will continue to be in touch as the 112th Congress debates issues of importance to the United States.

Again, thanks for the benefit of your comments.  Please feel free to contact me whenever I may be of assistance.
Sincerely,

Bob Goodlatte
Member of Congress

I suppose you might be wondering why it has taken a little over a week for me to post this letter on this blog.  After all, I’m rarely at a lack for things to say.  In truth, I quickly crafted a response that was about as long as the letter itself.  But, after a bit of contemplation, I decided not to air it.  It was overburdened with frustration and disappointment.  Even though I won’t share that version, that doesn’t mean that I’ll sit quietly in the corner.

Now why would I be troubled?  If you’ve read up to this point, you already know that answer.  But let me go into a bit more detail.

1.  Bob Goodlatte supports the Patriot Act

One shouldn’t really be surprised here.  He voted for the act when it was first created and supported its reauthorization earlier.

Even though this issue is critically important, it doesn’t upset me as much as the other two points.  After all, no one should expect their elected representatives to agree with them all the time.  If one were to count the minor and major variations of political opinion in this nation, they would be like grains of sand on a beach.

Nevertheless, I believe that the Patriot Act severely erodes our Constitutional protections of habeas corpus and the 4th Amendment.  Although the tide is slowly turning, it is regrettable that a majority of my fellow Republicans are willing to offer up vast amounts of our liberty to the government in exchange for perceived security.

I really wish Representative Goodlatte would change his mind on this issue.

2.  This response doesn’t really answer my question

Yes, it is nice to have a historical framework for the Patriot Act, but what rationale does Goodlatte give for supporting this reauthorization?  He says that it gives “law enforcement officials the tools they need to wage a successful fight against terrorism”, but that statement alone presents no real tangible clues why the Patriot Act is necessary as compared to pre-Patriot Act anti-terrorist techniques.

What I want to know is, how many terrorist acts have been definitively thwarted as a direct result of the Patriot Act?  Have there been any proven cases of individuals or groups that would have escaped detection if the Act had not been in place?  Conversely, how many people have been wrongfully detained and/or imprisoned as a consequence of this increase in government power?

If our trade-off of liberty for security has paid dividends, can he show me?  How it has done so?  Or, as I suspect, are we actually worse off as a result?  Unfortunately, Goodlatte addresses none of these ideas in his response.  I’m sure Representative Goodlatte thinks the Patriot Act is necessary for some reason or another.  However, if he cannot effectively articulate that rationale, then whether the voters happen to agree with him or not, we are left with muddled confusion.

3.  The amount of time and effort required getting a response 

This issue is by far the most troubling.  I can understand it taking a few weeks or even a month to get a reply from my elected official.  But 107 days?  Is that an acceptable time frame?

What has happened to his D.C. staff?  Does one need to repeatedly remind them month after month in order to get a reply?  Why did I have to contact not only his D.C. office,  but also his Staunton office, Harrisonburg office, and his Roanoke office before getting this email?  Was I simply being ignored, misled, or some combination of the two?

Now I assume that few of his constituents are as persistent as I; I expect that most would have given up long ago, disgusted.  But it shouldn’t be this way.  I firmly believe that in order to enjoy effective representative government, we must have a clear discussion between constituents and their elected leaders.

In closing, let me say that my purpose is not to offend, but I feel that I must compose this letter in the hopes that doing so will prevent this situation from happening again in the future.  I certainly appreciate the chance to communicate with my Representative, but this affair has left a sour taste in my mouth primarily as a result of points 2 & 3.  As I’ve said, in the past his responses have been thoughtful and timely…far better than either of our two Senators, which is why this episode has been particularly disappointing.

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A few hours ago, I received word from George Allen’s campaign that today he signed The Contract from America.  By doing so, he joins the growing ranks of limited government conservatives like Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Representative Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota.  As Allen states, “To me, signing this pledge is an affirmation of my commitment to protecting individual liberty, limited government and economic freedom.”

But what is The Contract from America, you might ask?  I’m sure most of you remember the GOP’s 1994 Contract with America, but now we are talking about a contract from America?  What an odd name.  Doesn’t it sound like some secessionist ploy?  Well, here’s the contract.  Read it yourself:

The Contract from America

We, the undersigned, call upon those seeking to represent us in public office to sign the Contract from America and by doing so commit to support each of its agenda items, work to bring each agenda item to a vote during the first year, and pledge to advocate on behalf of individual liberty, limited government, and economic freedom.

Individual Liberty

Our moral, political, and economic liberties are inherent, not granted by our government. It is essential to the practice of these liberties that we be free from restriction over our peaceful political expression and free from excessive control over our economic choices.

Limited Government

The purpose of our government is to exercise only those limited powers that have been relinquished to it by the people, chief among these being the protection of our liberties by administering justice and ensuring our safety from threats arising inside or outside our country’s sovereign borders. When our government ventures beyond these functions and attempts to increase its power over the marketplace and the economic decisions of individuals, our liberties are diminished and the probability of corruption, internal strife, economic depression, and poverty increases.

Economic Freedom

The most powerful, proven instrument of material and social progress is the free market. The market economy, driven by the accumulated expressions of individual economic choices, is the only economic system that preserves and enhances individual liberty. Any other economic system, regardless of its intended pragmatic benefits, undermines our fundamental rights as free people.

1. Protect the Constitution

Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does. (82.03%)

2. Reject Cap & Trade

Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation’s global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures. (72.20%)

3. Demand a Balanced Budget

Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike. (69.69%)

4. Enact Fundamental Tax Reform

Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words—the length of the original Constitution. (64.90%)

5. Restore Fiscal Responsibility & Constitutionally Limited Government in Washington

Create a Blue Ribbon taskforce that engages in a complete audit of federal agencies and programs, assessing their Constitutionality, and identifying duplication, waste, ineffectiveness, and agencies and programs better left for the states or local authorities, or ripe for wholesale reform or elimination due to our efforts to restore limited government consistent with the US Constitution’s meaning. (63.37%)

6. End Runaway Government Spending

Impose a statutory cap limiting the annual growth in total federal spending to the sum of the inflation rate plus the percentage of population growth. (56.57%)

7. Defund, Repeal, & Replace Government-run Health Care

Defund, repeal and replace the recently passed government-run health care with a system that actually makes health care and insurance more affordable by enabling a competitive, open, and transparent free-market health care and health insurance system that isn’t restricted by state boundaries. (56.39%)

8. Pass an ‘All-of-the-Above” Energy Policy

Authorize the exploration of proven energy reserves to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources from unstable countries and reduce regulatory barriers to all other forms of energy creation, lowering prices and creating competition and jobs. (55.51%)

9. Stop the Pork

Place a moratorium on all earmarks until the budget is balanced, and then require a 2/3 majority to pass any earmark. (55.47%)

10. Stop the Tax Hikes

Permanently repeal all tax hikes, including those to the income, capital gains, and death taxes, currently scheduled to begin in 2011. (53.38%)

It certainly sounds promising doesn’t it?  Any effort that seeks to restrain the growing power of the federal government is certainly an idea I can get behind.  It seems, I’m not alone; the concept has the backing of a number of limited government organizations like The Leadership Institute, The Republican Liberty Caucus, and Freedom Works.

However, I do have two questions regarding the contract.  First, what’s with all the percentages after each segment?  Is it a ranking of priority?  Do the number represent folks who sign choosing to accept certain portions of the contract while rejecting others?  Well, after making a few phone calls, I discovered this answer.  In order to gauge public opinion on what are the most important priorities, the organizers held a poll.  The top ten are what are listed here.  The percentages after each are the percent of the vote each won.  “Protecting the Constitution” was labeled the highest priority, while “Stopping the Tax Hikes”, although important, was the lowest concern of the top ten.

Second, I’m not too wild about point number seven.  Sure, I’d like to see federally run health care defunded and repealed, but replaced?  Replaced with what?  Something merely more cost efficient?  I do not believe that the federal government has any constitutional authority when it comes to the health care of its citizens.  Therefore, without additional details, I cannot support this particular plank.

If you will recall, back in 1994, Republicans captured control of Congress by uniting around a list of conservative principles and priorities.  Should they do so again, I would expect them to win a far greater percentage of seats.

Therefore, despite my one particular objection, I believe that this Contract From America is an important step in the right direction.  It may be a funny sounding name, but we need to get Washington under control and we must do so now.  As our former Governor and Senator states, “Only by listening to ‘We the People’ and returning to the foundational principles of freedom, personal responsibility and opportunity for all will America once again be the land of opportunity.”

Although I still need to learn more about this effort,  I certainly do appreciate their motivation and applaud George Allen for signing on to this project.

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Three

Well, here we are.  Three years and 315 posts later, the Virginia Conservative rides on.  These last few years have really flown by.  It seems like just yesterday that I started up this blog.

I suppose that with this milestone, it is appropriate to reflect a bit on where we’ve been.  I’m pleased to say that the Virginia Conservative has gained considerable notoriety in Virginia’s political blogosphere and beyond.  Acceptance into The Jeffersoniad shortly after the blog’s creation, declared a “regular read” by nationally known blogger Erick Erickson of Redstate, quoted in the LA Times, linked to by the Tennessee Republican Party, a guest spot on the Schilling Show, recently creating a piece with input from all five Republican Senate candidates, these are many of my best moments.

Do I strive for even greater things?  Absolutely!  I’d very much like to be able to take my thoughts to a much wider audience.  If I could spend my days doing nothing but talking and/or writing about politics, I would relish such an opportunity.  If I could morph into the role of a commentator like a George Will, Walter Williams, Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity (minus arrogant rudeness of course), or a Jack Hunter, I would do so without a second thought.

I know what a few of you are thinking, if you don’t see any money from your writing, why do it?  Well, life’s not all about the pursuit of wealth now is it?  I write because I want to advocate a specific set of political principles.  I write because I think it is important.  Last, but not least, I write because I enjoy writing.

Of course, any blog worth its salt should never forget its fans and those who take the time to offer worthwhile commentary.  After all, although those people don’t write articles here (though if you care to submit a guest piece, please let me know!), they form an important part of the dialogue.  I may not reply to every thought you offer, but it is still appreciated.

Therefore, for my third anniversary, I’d like to take a moment to offer a shout out to the most prolific folks of both past and present:  Republic of Texas, Mr. Average, Drew, Brent Finnegan, Craig Orndorff, Laura Logie, Zach Thompson, Zeeb, Light Horse, dettmermichael, Seth, True Conservative, Navy Vet, Venu, J. Tyler Ballance, L.A. Castus, Jeremy Aldrich, Citizen Tom, and Matt.  Even though I know that many of us agree (and also disagree) on a variety of topics, political discussion is a barometer of a healthy society.

Thanks to those who have joined me for part or all of these last three years.  I’m excited to see where we go from here!

Three it is!

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