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Archive for August, 2011

These last few days have proved to be some of the more interesting in Virginia, both politically and otherwise.  Of course, this thought may lead you to ask why I haven’t written about it before Friday.  Well, when you are working a bunch of ten-hour days straight, I find you have time for little more than sleeping and eating.  But enough about myself; let’s dive in.

I suppose the most talked about news has to be the Virginia earthquake.  Based right outside the town of Mineral, VA, at 1:51 PM on Tuesday, a 5.8 magnitude quake shook the eastern U.S.  At the time, I was about sixty miles away, across the Blue Ridge Mountains in Weyers Cave, VA.  Although I certainly felt the tremor, I didn’t know it what it was at the time.  Fortunately, the damage was limited and there have been no reports of any fatalities.  However, any time there is an earthquake near a nuclear power plant, I suppose there should be cause for concern.

Moving on to political matters…also on Tuesday, there were a number of primaries across the Commonwealth.  Republican and Democratic hopefuls squared off against each other to secure their party nominations.  Although there weren’t really any great surprises, there were a few disappointments.  Running through the most interesting contests for Senate, we find Senator Norment easily fended off a challenger, former Del. Dick Black making a successful return to state politics, former Delegate and former RPV Chairman Jeff Frederick wiping the floor with Tito Munoz, Jason Flanary denying Steve Hunt another chance to reclaim the seat formerly held by Ken Cuccinelli, and Tom Garrett edging out a win in a five-way contest in the 22nd.

Switching to statewide issues, a recent rift has developed between Senate candidate and former Tea Party leader Jamie Radtke and RedState editor Erick Erickson.  If you may recall, Erickson was early supporter of Radtke’s, promoting her over the “establishment retread” of former Governor and former Senator George Allen.  Although many of the details are still being sorted out, Erickson recently published negative comments about Radtke after her recent speech at a convention sponsored by RedState in Florida.  With allegations flying that her discourse was extremely lackluster and that Allen supporters fund RedState, it is proving difficult to sort out the facts from the conjecture.  Although it is certainly true that I respect both Radtke and RedState, I recommend letting the dust settle before delving into wild speculation.

Moving to local issues, a new candidate has entered the race for Sheriff of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.  His name is Kevin Shifflett and he is from Harrisonburg.  Although details are limited, he is currently a captain in the Army National Guard.  Running as a second independent candidate, it should be interesting to see how his candidacy affects the field of Hutcheson & Hess.  Is he a strong contender?  I suppose we will discover the answer to this question very soon.

Lastly, I wanted to touch on last night’s Tea Party meeting.  As a result of featuring Delegates Tony Wilt, Steve Landes, and Rob Bell, the gathering was extremely well attended.  Just as impressive, the media covered the event for the first time.  Both WHSV (the local T.V. news) and the Daily News Record were present.  Although tea parties are waning in certain parts of the state and country, does this event herald an era of new success for our local tea party?  I certainly hope so.  I wish that I had brought my camera to capture it all.

Although there are other topics to consider, I believe that the ones listed above are far and away the most important in Shenandoah Valley politics these last several days.

Earthquakes, primaries, and political intrigue…wow!  What a week!

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One simple fact that I’ve learned from the Republican Presidential primaries of both 2008 and 2012 is that Ron Paul will win any online poll.  Now, there are a number of reasons why he does so well in an online format that I won’t get into in this piece.  The point I want to make is that just about every time he emerges victorious, the major media outlets will explain away the results or simply and quietly take down their poll.

Today, the website Libertarian News shows another favored tactic.  Over at U.S. News and World Report, they offer readers a choice of Republican candidates including recent dropout Tim Pawlenty and a handful of undeclared candidates like Sarah Palin.  The field isn’t too surprising as the poll was created way back at the end of February.  However, when scanning the list of ten candidates, one cannot find Ron Paul’s name anywhere.  So has U.S. News found a solution to the presumed Ron Paul victory?  Were they thinking, “maybe if we don’t mention him then some other candidate will win”?  Well, take a look at the results as of 9:15 PM EDT tonight and see for yourself.

Seems like a lot of people (67.8%), prefer someone else than the candidates that they have listed.  Now, to be fair, Gary Johnson, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry are excluded as well. However, I have to believe that the vast bulk of the “other” vote has to be for Dr. No, Representative Ron Paul of Texas.

Here is a note to U.S. News and World Reports:  You can try excluding Ron Paul, but the results will end up the same.  All that you’ve succeeded in doing is alienating his supporters.  Therefore your poll is and ought to be considered a joke.

Lastly, here is the kicker.  It may surprise you to know that freedom is popular with the online crowd.  Of course, so is Ron Paul.

Thanks to Jim for sharing this information!

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Regardless of whether you care for Representative Ron Paul or not, you do have to admit that he enjoys a legion of loyal followers who express their support in a variety of creative ways.  More impressive still is the fact that they are completely independent of the official campaign.  While some methods are clever and innovative, like the Ron Paul blimp, others are merely bizarre.  Unfortunately, a few are counterproductive to his election chances.

One important fact to remember in all of this is that Ron Paul supporters are not a monolithic group.  They include folks from all walks of life and various political persuasions.  Although we can (and do) disagree among ourselves, we are all bound by an ideological thread to the Texas doctor.  But I digress…

Getting back to my original point of supporter created material, I’d like to share two songs written by professional musicians and Ron Paul supporters during the 2007-08 campaign.  The first is by Rick Ellis, a Frank Sinatra impersonator out of California.  The second is by Aimee Allen, another singer/song writer out of Los Angeles.  Although there are numerous sub par examples out there, I think both of these are quite good.

As you listen to them, I’d like you to ponder this thought.  How many other candidates, Republican, Democratic, or otherwise, have such a devoted following to write music singing their praises?

I hope you enjoy!

Note:  While Aimee Allen’s song is available on iTunes, Rick Ellis’ is free on his website.  Also, if you know of any more good examples, please let me know and I’ll add them here.

Special thanks to Joel for reminding me of Allen’s effort.

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Although Karen Kwiatkowski has been promoting her effort to unseat Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6th) for last month or two, tomorrow she is officially announcing the start of campaign.

The details are as follows:
Time: Thursday, August 18th at Noon.
Location: The Augusta County Courthouse located at 1 East Johnson Street in Staunton.

Although I planned to attend this event, I regret to say that I’ll be unavailable.  Nevertheless, if you are interested in the fate of this nation and our representation in the federal government, I encourage you to be there.

Once the nomination comes around next year, you may end up choosing to re-elect Goodlatte or you may select Kwiatkowski. But through the process, I want you to ask yourself, which of these two candidates best represents your principles, your values?  After all, how can we hope to make an educated vote without sufficient information?  My advice is to listen to the words and plans of both Kwiatkowski and Goodlatte.  Tomorrow will give you one such opportunity.

I do hope you get a chance to hear Kwiatkowski on Thursday.  Rest assured that I’ll post more details about other campaign events as they become available.

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Last night, I made my annual pilgrimage to the Rockingham County Fair.  The fair, of course, is many things to many people: a social gathering, a plethora of rides, a sampling of good food, a chance to see a multitude of farm animals, a concert, a tractor pull, and a demolition derby.  For me, the fair is another opportunity to promote my political ideology (no great surprise there, huh?).  Therefore, like I’ve done on and off since 1995, I volunteered at the Republican booth.

Speaking of politics, I guess the highlight had to be a visit from Governor Bob McDonnell.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see him myself.  Nevertheless, I did manage to get a handful of pictures of other things.

Throughout the night, the Republican Party booth was a hotbed of activity.  Many folks were drawn to promise of free balloons and a raffle.  One could find materials on about a dozen candidates and there were a multitude of colorful bumper stickers and yard signs.  You could even sign a petition to get Rick Perry on the ballot for the 2012 GOP primary.

Elected officials and hopefuls who I saw at the booth include:  Bryan Hutcheson (candidate for Sheriff), Delegate Todd Gilbert (15-Woodstock), Delegate Dickie Bell (2o-Staunton), Senator Mark Obenshain (26-Harrisonburg), Todd Garber (Treasurer for Rockingham), Ted Byrd (Harrisonburg City Council), Lowell Barb (Commissioner of Revenue for Rockingham), Bill Kyger (Rockingham County Board of Supervisors), and Karen Kwiatkowski (candidate for the House of Representatives in the 6th district).

By comparison, things seemed a bit slow at the Democratic table.  Given that they have no candidates for the Virginia General Assembly, their main focus appeared to be promoting Tim Kaine for Senator in 2012.  Although I won’t claim to have stayed at their table long, I didn’t see any elected officials there.

Outside the exhibition hall one could find a tent for Independent Sheriff candidate C.M Hess.  They seemed to enjoy steady traffic.  I’m very much looking forward to the Sheriff forum being held by the local tea party.  You can find more details on that event here in the near future.

Overall, the fair seemed to be a well-attended event.  There were a multitude of vendors, both food and otherwise,  and there was quite a bit to see and do.  I hear that the Beach Boys are returning for another concert this coming Friday.

The Rockingham County Fair never fails to impress, so, whether you happen to be interested in politics or not, I recommend you head over to check it out before it disappears until next year.

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Photo thanks to RonPaul.com

In my last post, I mentioned how disappointing it is that major media outlets seem to continue to ignore Ron Paul despite his strong showing at the Ames Straw Poll this weekend.  Well, it seems that I’m not the only person who noticed this apparent media blackout regarding the 12-term Representative from Texas.

First, I found an article from Paul Jacob with Citizens in Charge.  In his blog, called Common Sense (which you’ve been able to find in the links section of this blog), he helps to expose this apparent contradiction.

Second, Jon Stewart of the Daily Show discusses the topic at length in the Daily Show last night.  It is quite a good watch.

I believe that it is important for voters to hear the platforms of all of the candidates seeking the Republican and Democratic nomination in any contest.  In order to create an informed electorate, citizens must know their options and decide for themselves who is the best person for the post.  The mainstream media, it seems, has already made that decision for you.  Ron Paul?  He is too extreme; he’s too far out there.  I suppose the folks at CNN, Fox News, and others have determined that they do not want Ron Paul to succeed and therefore are taking an active role to make sure that he does not.

Now, I’m not one of those people who claim that Ron Paul would easily win if given a fair shake by the media.  Securing the Republican nomination is a long and difficult process.  After all, there are many establishment Republicans who would not support Dr. Paul under any circumstances and a little favorable media coverage will not change this fact.  However, you should also bear in mind that there are a number of constitutional conservatives and libertarians who will not support the status quo or big government Republicans either.  Remember the three-legged stool example from many months ago.  I do believe, however, that Ron Paul would appeal to a much larger section of Republican voters if they thought that he was a credible candidate.  This recent media sham doesn’t help to dispel these thoughts.

I wish news outlets would go back to reporting the news rather than making political calculations as to what the news should be.  Is it no wonder that more and more people are turning online for their daily dose of news rather than relying on traditional media sources like the paper, TV, and radio?

Perhaps nothing will ever change.  However, I assure you that as long as Ron Paul continues to champion so many of my principles, I will continue to advocate and promote Ron Paul.

Ron Paul 2012.

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The results from Ames are in and the numbers are as follows:

Michele Bachmann 28.6%

Ron Paul 27.7%

Tim Pawlenty 13.6%

Rick Santorum 9.8%

Herman Cain 8.6%

Rick Perry 4.3%

Mitt Romney 3.4%

Newt Gingrich 3.4%

Jon Huntsman .4%

Thaddeus McCotter .2%

First off, congratulations to the Bachmann campaign for their win.  As I didn’t have my “ear to the ground”, I wasn’t quite sure who would emerge victorious.  Second, I should also commend the Paul campaign.  More than one out of every four voters picked Paul.  That’s about an 18% increase over last year’s total.  Seems like it should serve as a very good boost to them.

The news reminds me of Bill Clinton’s second place finish during the New Hampshire primary in 1992.  Although he finished second, he got a higher vote total than expected.  Calling himself “the Comeback Kid”, he spun the news to make everyone think he won even though he technically did not.  Based upon this “win”, Clinton went on to capture several key states and then the nomination.  If the Paul campaign can work similar magic, perhaps Ames can serve as an excellent launching board to creating President Paul (I hope).

Speaking of spin, some media outlets are completely ignoring Paul performance, a favorite tactic from 2007/08.  Perhaps the worst offender is Politico.  Before changing their headline, it first read, “Bachmann Wins, Pawlenty 3rd”.  Why they would announce the third place finisher in the headline but not second place is, quite frankly, baffling.  The only logical conclusion that one can draw is that they are actively seeking to marginalize Ron Paul.  Disgraceful.

Another major news tidbit to come from Ames is the story that Tim Pawlenty has decided to withdraw from the race.  I believe such a plan to be shortsighted.  After all, he finished in a strong third.  More importantly, it is merely the first straw poll.  No delegates were awarded and actual voting is many months away.  Nevertheless, I welcome the news as it shrinks the field slightly and shows that Pawlenty was never a serious candidate to begin with.

Lastly, although not directly related to Ames, Rick Perry, the current Governor of Texas, has entered the Republican race for President.  The reaction to this news is mixed.  While some conservatives welcome this new choice as authentic and viable, others consider him to be yet another RINO (Republican in Name Only).  Either way, I look forward to learning more about Governor Perry in the future.  Also, as you will note, even though he was not on the ballot, Perry finished sixth, a strong performance for a write-in candidate.

Ames is over and done; a small drop in the bucket.

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VC note: This article comes from Karen Kwiatkowski, Republican candidate for the 6th district House of Representatives seat of Virginia.  It is the second one she has submitted to me.  The first can be found here.  As always, I welcome pieces from elected officials and candidates and hope to showcase more in the future.

After the predictable drama of which political party or faction should be blamed for what spending, the debt limit was again raised for the 11th time this century, by $2.1 trillion, or nearly 15%.   This increase adds to the nearly $15 trillion the US already owes to international banks, foreign countries, and American investors.  This new total debt, potentially $17 trillion, does not count the $62 trillion in obligations for unfunded domestic entitlements, specifically Social Security and Medicare.

The outstanding debt burden of this nation will soon rise to a staggering $77 trillion.   Oh, and the Congress agreed to cut a $100 billion per year over the next ten years, starting after the next election, they promise! Whew!  Maybe Congress does need a vacation now, after all their hard work!

The latest debt ceiling deal will include new taxation, and it is interesting that the true fiscal hawks in Congress are being excluded from the “SuperCongress” being set up to “solve the problem.”  Too bad no one wants to read the Constitution, which clearly limits federal government functions, and presumably its need to tax, borrow and spend.

The Republican Party itself seem happy, and why not? This spending and taxing behavior has marked Republicans for decades, with massive increases in borrowing and spending experienced under Nixon, Reagan, and both of the Bush presidencies.  Ronald Reagan, a favorite source of modern conservative quotes and references, oversaw a rise in the annual spending deficit increase from $79 billion to $212 billion in his first term – and the Reagan years added $1.9 trillion to the federal debt. This trend line is symbolic “tea” for the Tea Party, and conservatives, liberals, libertarians, constitutionalists and independents all share a concern about overspending and what it means to our children and grandchildren.

The Democratic Party is just as guilty – they point to Reagan as an awful tax cutter – but in fact Reagan oversaw a drastic 65% increase in the annual tax load.  In order to push through a three-year tax cut, he cooperated in the largest tax increase in American history up to that time.   It is easy for a politician to just say, “Give me more!” but because our hard-earned and harder-to-keep money is already skimmed by government at or above 35%, most actively avoid paying taxes.  Big corporations hire lawyers, accountants and move their headquarters overseas.  The rest of us make sure we are at the lowest bracket possible, and we avoid hiring full time employees – all in order to avoid even small increases in taxation.  Our own behavior trumps the politicians demand for more, and more.

What about a balanced budget amendment?  Mr Goodlatte’s naiveté on this issue is either astounding or he is a really slick politician.  Congress doesn’t want balance – it’s way too painful, and they will easily override the low bar set in the language of the proposed toothless amendment.  Beyond that, states that strive and compete for ever larger federal handouts would never support a federal balanced budget.  They know it would be an end to the gravy train, and would create additional and even unbearable federal tax burdens on their citizens.

Because the Balanced Budget Amendment says nothing about lifting unfunded federal mandates, states themselves could actually go broke if they ratified such an amendment.  Incidentally, 32 states are already insolvent, and are currently borrowing money from the Federal Government to pay unemployment insurance.  Well, maybe the Congress didn’t know about this little structural problem.  In any case, three-quarters of the state legislatures and governors do know, and they will oppose any honest balanced budget amendment. The solvent states are already angry for being asked to help bail out their insolvent neighbors, and they too will rightfully oppose a federal balanced budget that will view well-managed state coffers, like Virginia’s, as cash cows.

So how do I really feel?  Like most Americans, I’m angry at Congress for its inability to manage our money.  Like most Americans, I hold Congressmen and most politicians in high contempt.

How about this solution:  Stop spending money you do not have.  Renegotiate any current debt you can, don’t borrow any more, and deal today with needed changes in the entitlement system such that our aged social security and Medicare dependents are seamless cared for, and young people are free of these classic Ponzi schemes, where money from millions of younger workers is immediately disbursed to thousands of past investors.  Let interest rates rise to a market-determined level, so Americans and others can actually save and invest in America, and to deter more irresponsible government borrowing.

When a country is on the road to financial collapse, it can get either stay on that road and face ruin, or it can turn onto a new road towards a more positive and accountable future.  Congress whined, fussed and argued, and last week, once again, they chose to accelerate towards the cliff.  Thelma and Louise couldn’t be prouder.

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Well, with the summer winding down, fair season is in the air.  This week, Augusta County is holding their annual festival.  In every year past, I have attended the Rockingham County Fair and skipped the one to the south.  However, as I’m still in the city of Staunton, I figured that I might as well experience theirs while I am so close.

My first stop inside was the Republican Party booth.  As is the case back at home, a fair serves as an excellent opportunity to spread information about candidates and causes that many attendees might not hear otherwise.  Standing in front of the table was Delegate Dickie Bell (R-20, Staunton).  Besides folks running for city and county offices, I could also find information on Delegate Cline and Delegate Landes.  However, short of a few signs, there was nothing for Senator Emmett Hanger.  This fact might seem odd, but given that Delegate Bell is the only member of the General Assembly in the entire Shenandoah Valley who faces a Democratic opponent, I guess Senator Hanger didn’t want to spend any money to campaign.  Perhaps the greatest surprise was the stack of bumper stickers and brochures from former Senator George Allen.  Although the 2012 primary is a good way off, it never hurts to remind people that you are running.

In general, I found the Augusta Fair to be a bit disappointing when compared to Rockingham.  Although all of the display booths are rented already in Rockingham, this fair had numerous empty spots in the exhibition hall.  There wasn’t even a Democratic table.  Also, the layout was pretty poor.  At the entrance, they force attendees down a certain path, like rats in a maze.  As a whole, the grounds aren’t as large and don’t offer as wide a range of activities and vendors.  I’ll freely admit that the bear show was an amusing (and free) aspect, but, overall, the fair lack pizzazz. Then again, prior to today, I’ve only been to two other fairs.  Perhaps the grandeurs of Rockingham County and Münster (Germany) have spoiled me.  After all, according to Wikipedia, The LA Times has rated the Rockingham County Fair as one of the best rural fairs in the country.

Therefore, my recommendation is to visit the Augusta Fair if you get the chance, but, if you can only attend one, make sure not to miss Rockingham.

Now that I’ve hyped it, we’ll have to see what the Rockingham Fair holds in store in the coming days.  For those politophiles out there, I hear that the Governor will be coming to that event in the early part of next week.  I’ll try to snag some pictures.

Until then!

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For the last several days and the next week or two, I’ve temporarily transferred to the city of Staunton, Virginia.  Located twenty-five miles or so south of Harrisonburg, Staunton is a place rich in both history and culture.  Not only can you find places like the Frontier Culture Museum and the American Shakespeare Center, but also Wright’s Dairy-Rite and Woodrow Wilson’s birthplace and Presidential Library.  If you are wondering how Wright’s fits in with the rest, like Jess’ Quick Lunch in downtown Harrisonburg, it is an iconic restaurant that serves as a gathering place for politicians and political campaigns over the decades.

On Thursday, I had the chance to attend a meeting of the Staunton branch of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party Patriots.  Although I had hoped to visit with this group earlier, the fact that so many of their gatherings took place at the same time that the Harrisonburg group met, I felt I had to wait until their schedules were separated.  Speaking of such matters, during that same evening Senate hopeful Jamie Radtke was meeting with the Page County branch.  I would‘ve loved to have gone there as well, but I still haven’t found the trick to be two places at once.

Besides electing a Staunton representative to the SVTPP board (more on this issue later), the main highlight of the event was Karen Miner Hurd and her Virginia Tea Party Alliance PAC.  A relatively new organization in Virginia politics, Ms. Hurd’s PAC seeks to transform Virginia politics by not merely electing Republicans, but by electing Republicans who embrace the conservative ideology.  While wearing a pin declaring her disdain for RINOs (Republicans in name only), she ardently advocated challenging the Republican establishment types who have previously and continue to water down the Republican brand.

Given my frustrations with lackluster and non-conservative candidates (like John McCain in 2008), I can certainly appreciate the purpose of the VATPA.  After all, electing Republicans is not of much value if they govern and legislate in more or less the same fashion as the average Democrat.  If some Virginia Republicans steadfastly refuse to adhere to the principles outlined in the RPV Creed, then why should conservatives support their election or reelection?

After Karen Hurd spoke, Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26) offered a few thoughts to the audience as well.  He regaled us of his early days in the Senate when he butted heads with then Senator John Chichester, a fellow Republican.  As you may recall, Chichester, a villain to many fiscal conservatives, helped pass one of the largest tax increases in state history.  I always appreciate the chance to hear Senator Obenshain speak and, as you already know, given his voting record and sponsored legislation, I believe him to be one of the best, if not the best, member of that body.  One does hope that should the Republican regain control of the Virginia Senate this year that men of Obenshain’s caliber will lead the body as opposed to business as usual Republicans.

Getting back to the main focus of this article, given their commitment to our shared principles as well as a determination to influence local, state, and national elections here in the Commonwealth, you can be sure that I’ll be eagerly watching the activities of this new PAC.  I’ll provide more details as they become available.

I have no other news from Staunton at this time.  if you happened to be in the Harrisonburg area, I hope you had a chance to meet with the Ron Paul group. I would have loved to have gone myself, but given the high price of gas, I had to sit this one out.

Until next time, just remember; stay informed and stay active!

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