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Archive for October, 2011

Maybe due to geography or conflicting obligations you ended up missing the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party’s U.S. Senate debate on October 20th.  Well, for those who did, I’m pleased to report that you can now watch the entire event from the comfort of your home computer.  Special thanks for this effort should go to the Tea Party, Sandy Garst, Dave Mason, and the Shenandoah Area Working Group.

To whet your appetite, here is the first segment:

You’ve already read my thoughts on the debate.  You’ve also heard from Helen Shibut, Karen Kwiatkowski, Luke Wachob, and Sarah Prescott.   But why not listen to the whole presentation and decide for yourself?  You can view the rest of the videos here.

There is a lot going on the Shenandoah Valley these days.  Besides reading local blogs such as mine, I highly recommend signing up for the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party’s newsletter.  You can do so by simply sending an email request to shenvalleyteaparty@hotmail.com.

Watch these videos, visit the candidates’ websites, and attend their gatherings when they come into town.  As voters, we have an obligation to select the candidate who will best represent our principles in Washington.  Do you know who that person is for you?

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On Saturday, I received a rather intriguing email from TheTeaParty.net entitled “37 things you should horde…” Inside, it offers several links to a page promising “click here to discover the 37 critical items you need to stay alive and healthy (you won’t be able to buy these things later!)”.  Given recent concerns with the value of the dollar, a weak economy, and the ever-present looming threat of some sort of natural disaster and/or a terrorist attack, people’s fears and concerns will likely draw them to this site.

But what do you find when you get there, you might wonder?  What are these 37 things that you and everyone else in our society need?  The short answer is, after watching the video they offer, I still have no idea.

Let me save you a bit of time.  For about a half an hour you sit through a repetitious video preying upon your fears that promises to save you from the crisis ahead.  After spending so much effort trying to convince you that you are a “good patriot”, that the speaker is your friend and only wants to help, and this information they provide will save you and your family from starvation and mob warfare, you are bombarded with a sales pitch to buy a book that contains the answer to these future panics and more.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you, but if you really care to watch it anyway, you can do so here.

A month or two ago, after receiving one of my first emails from TheTeaParty.net, I called their Washington D.C. office hoping to learn more about their organization.  No one answered my call and, even though I left a message, no one has anyone called me back since.  Surprised?

Looking through their dozen or so emails I have stuffed in my inbox, this so-called tea party seems to only send out two kinds of messages, emails asking for money and emails from their paid sponsors.  This morning’s email was more of the same.  “Do you support the movement?” they ask.  If yes, click here to take a poll.  But, once you do, there is no survey, only another donation page.  I’m sure that these kinds of self-serving messages are terribly useful to the greater tea party goals.

Masquerading as the tea party is all the rage these days.  After all, like the televangelists of old, preaching a message of doom and gloom coupled with a monetary path to salvation is a popular and proven tactic.  How many of our parents and grandparents were deceived by Jim Bakker or someone of his ilk back in the ’80s?  Take from the old!  Take from the naïve!  Their loss can be your gain!  But let me ask you this question: if you generously choose to donate some your hard-earned cash to show your support for the tea party, which would be a better choice?  Your friends and neighbors out working in the community?  Or some unknown group based in D.C.?

Now maybe TheTeaParty.net is on the level but, after a month, it is starting to become apparent to me that they may be little more than a group trying to cash in on the tea party’s name through promotion of their paid sponsors. Sure, you can ask me for a donation once in a while.  Shake me down for money four days in a row?  That tactic seems more than a little fishy.

Getting back to my original point, should you be prepared in the case of a disaster?  Absolutely.  Should we be concerned about the state of the economy?  Of course.  However, as a member of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party, I don’t want anyone to get suckered in by an astroturf substitute promising solutions to a problem that may or not exist.

But who should listen to reason with so much fear swirling in the air?  After all, tomorrow’s headline might read, “Panic!  At the Supermarket!”  Maybe if I ever look to cash in on a book or newspaper I’ll end up writing such provocative statements.  For now though we have at least two options.  Which course of action will you choose?

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Are you a pro-life activist who lives in Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Charlottesville, or anywhere in the Shenandoah Valley?  Well, I’ve got some exciting news for you.  The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform is hosting a training session at the campus of JMU tomorrow.  That’s right.  JMU.  Saturday.

Dr. C. Fletcher Armstrong

The featured speaker is Dr. C. Fletcher Armstrong, the Southwest Director of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform.  Now, I first met Dr. Armstrong back in early 2007 while working as a pro-life activist for Student for Life of America.  Having witnessed his efforts firsthand let me tell you that he is one of the most knowledgeable and dedicated forces for the unborn out there today.  I’ve also been informed that Nicole Cooley, author of the book Into the Light:  Rape, Abortion, and the Truth that Set Me Free, will be speaking at this gathering as well.

Here are the details of the event:

October 29th

1 PM – 5:30 PM

James Madison University

Keezell Hall

Room 105

But wait…there’s more!  How about a flier advertising the event?  Pro Life Training Academy – Harrisonburg Virginia

Whether you are promoting the cause alone or you are working with a group, I know that being a pro-life activist is often a tough job.  Fortunately, we do have friends and allies in this fight like Dr. Armstrong and the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Knowledge and networking are both powerful tools and this event will promote both.  Therefore, I strongly recommend that if you support the cause and live anywhere near the Harrisonburg, Virginia area, then you should attend this meeting.  Let them know you are coming by signing up on Facebook here!

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Liberty Online

If you are like myself, you’re always on the lookout for new, like-minded political blogs.  That’s why you can find a multitude of links on the right-hand side of the page promoting websites of merit.

Well, along those lines, I’m pleased to report that James Madison University’s student voice for liberty is now online.  The group, Madison Liberty, just created their own blog on Blogspot.

Whether you’re looking for additional commentary regarding the recent Senate debate, discussions of ideology, or would just like to keep a finger on the pulse of student activities at JMU, Madison Liberty’s website should be a great resource.  You may not agree with everything they say.  Heck, I’ve found that I’ve come to a different conclusion than one of their posts already.  Nevertheless, I believe that this website will be chocked-full of well-reasoned discussions and commentary.

So I encourage you to head over to Madison Liberty and see what they have to say.  Maybe we can share a comment or two.

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Gary Johnson is not getting anything approaching a fair treatment from the media.  The national press has constantly ignored him throughout the campaign season so far.

Now I can hear the response from some of you already.  But, he is a second tier candidate!  Why should we care?

To those sorts of statements I ask, who has a heavy influence as to who is labeled as first and second tier candidate?  The media!  How can voters decide whether or not Gary Johnson is their preferred candidate if there is little mention of him in print, on the radio, or on T.V.?   Let me give you a recent personal example.  When I mentioned his name at a local Republican gathering over the weekend, many of the folks had no idea who Gary Johnson is.

But, he isn’t some novice who has never held political office before.  He was the Governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003.  Now shouldn’t the former Governor of New Mexico be treated with at least the same respect offered to a former one-term Governor from Massachusetts?

But why should you or I care?  After all, my first choice is Ron Paul and not Gary Johnson.  Well, although Johnson is not my favored candidate, I still respect his efforts to promote liberty.  It is certainly true that he and I disagree on a number of fundamental issues such as life and immigration.  Nevertheless, we should never squelch political debate just because someone happens to offer an opinion that runs contrary to our own.

I’ve seen the media try to screw over candidates before.  To tie in my own political experience, back when I worked for Ron Paul in 2007/08, we faced many of the same problems that the Johnson campaign faces today.  Perhaps the worst offense happened during a 2008 New Hampshire debate where Ron Paul was not invited because (I kid you not) the organizers informed us that there was not enough room on the stage.  Strange that there was room for both Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson even though they were polling beneath Paul.

What a waste of time.  Johnson isn’t polling well. 

To counter that sort of thinking I offer three suggestions.  Point number one: try actually including Gary Johnson’s name in the poll.  Listed candidates always do better than fill-in-the-blanks.  Point number two: give him a chance to articulate his position alongside the rest of the Republican field in the debates.  His time as Governor of New Mexico alone has earned him a right to share a piece of that stage.  Point number three: even if his poll numbers aren’t that high, it should be up to the American people to determine the Republican candidate, not pollsters and the press.

As this article indicates, I firmly believe that Gary Johnson ought to be given a fair shake.  That is why, when asked by the Johnson campaign, I agreed to collect signatures for them alongside my effort for Dr. Paul.

You may love Gary Johnson or you may not.  But that decision should rest with each voter and not the political pundits.  After all, if you never hear about him, how can you ever know for sure?

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On Saturday, the Harrisonburg GOP, the Rockingham County GOP, and the local Republican Women held a fundraiser at the Stone Family Barn in Harrisonburg.  The event featured delicious local BBQ and a wide range of tempting desserts prepared by the Republican Women.  In addition, Dave Kyger and his band provided some excellent bluegrass music.

Harrisonburg’s own State Senator Mark Obenshain was the first of many well-known speakers, which included Susan Allen, the wife of former Governor and U.S. Senate candidate George Allen, and U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6).  The audience brimmed with elected representatives and Republican hopefuls, a virtual who’s who role call in local politics.  The complete list (and I hope I haven’t left anyone out) also included: Karen Kwiatkowski of Shenandoah County (a candidate for Virginia’s 6th district House of Representatives seat), State Senator Emmett Hanger of Augusta County, Delegate Tony Wilt of Rockingham County, Delegate Steve Landes of Augusta County, Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle County, Bryan Hutcheson (a candidate for Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Sheriff), Commonwealth Attorney Marsha Garst, Clerk of Court Chaz Evans-Haywood, Rockingham County Treasurer Todd Garber, Rockingham County Supervisor Pablo Cuevas, Rockingham County Supervisor Fred Eberly, Rockingham County Commissioner of the Revenue Lowell Barb, and Harrisonburg School Board member Greg Coffman.

This event proved to be another excellent opportunity to collect signatures to get both Representative Ron Paul and former Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico on Virginia’s ballot for the 2012 Republican primary.  Whether you support Paul or someone else, I encourage you to sign these petitions so that each Virginian can have a great range of options when we go to vote next year.

As the event came to a close, the party held an auction to raise additional funds.  There were a wide variety of items on the block including many of the same desserts we previously enjoyed with our meal.  Of course, I would be remiss if I failed to offer thanks to Chuck Ahrend whose hard work made this experience possible.

Overall, the event seemed to go quite well.  If you are a local Republican who unfortunately missed Saturday’s event, I encourage you to mark your calendars in advance for next year’s gathering.  You shouldn’t let this occasion pass you by.

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On Thursday, four Senate candidates gathered in Verona to participate in the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party’s debate.  These participants include three Republicans, Tim Donner, E. W. Jackson, and David McCormick and one Independent candidate, Kevin Chisholm.  There were also three vacant chairs on the stage set aside for George Allen and Tim Kaine who both declined the invitation as well as one of Jamie Radtke who withdrew less than a week prior to the event.

The debate itself included a wide variety of issues: the size of the federal government, national debt, the 10th amendment and federalism, property rights, among others. It was gratifying, not only to be selected by the Tea Party to craft some of the debate questions, but also to hear the candidates discuss ideas that I think are important.  However, I would have liked to have the four gentlemen share their thoughts on foreign policy.  Unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough time to cover everything.  Hopefully, the next debate will delve into this topic and more.

Here are a few impressions of the candidates.  In the early portion of the debate, Kevin Chisholm spoke favorably of Woodrow Wilson, the League of Nations, and the United Nations.  Presumably these viewpoints would not find much traction among the tea party faithful.  In addition, he was either unfamiliar with or offered no strong opinions regarding the Patriot Act, Agenda 21, and Kelo vs. City of New London.  Although no candidate can claim to know everything, this lack of knowledge could weaken his chances.

From earlier reports, I expected a great debate from both E. W. Jackson and Tim Donner.  They both have a reputation as forceful speakers and I think that this debate reinforced this idea.  Bishop Jackson seemed to win over the crowd as he garnered the most applause of any of the candidates.  Given his statements, I have mixed feelings about him.  He advocates removing U.S. involvement in the U.N. and supports state nullification of unconstitutional federal laws, which shows his commitment to federalism.  Conversely his almost unconditional support for Israel may needlessly embroil the nation into another unnecessary war.  Also, if I understood him correctly, although he opposes the invasive TSA searches, planning to vote to extend the Patriot Act creates worrisome questions regarding his support of civil liberties.

Switching to Tim Donner, his most memorable line came when he compared the government in Washington D.C. to our pre-Revolutionary oppression with Great Britain.  Although he held his ground well, he didn’t offer much in the way of any other bold comments and thus lost a bit of ground to the other candidates.

Flanked by both Jackson and Donner, David McCormick remained in the background for most of the debate.  His soft-spoken style seemed more akin to a storyteller than a debater.  Nevertheless, as the debate continued, I began to pay more attention to Mr. McCormick once he stated that he would not vote to renew the Patriot Act as well as the idea that the federal government ought to have no role in our health care.  He came alive toward the end of the event, but time expired before he could make serious inroads with the crowd.

There was also a straw poll at the debate.  Yesterday, I thought I heard unofficially that E. W. Jackson emerged the victor with around 45% of the vote.  A few moments ago, I received the official results and they are as follows:

George Allen 1%

Jamie Radtke 1%

Kevin Chisholm 1%

Undecided 3%

David McCormick 8%

Tim Donner 20%

E. W. Jackson 65%

Congratulations to Mr. Jackson for his convincing victory in the debate.  I once again encourage you to learn more about Mr. Jackson and the rest of the field, but in recognition of this feat, I’ll include a link to his website here.

I appreciate that these four candidates faced the voters to answer some very difficult questions.  Although the frontrunners were absent, one cannot win the hearts and minds of voters with mere mailings and T.V. ads.  Clearly advocating shared principles through personal contact is a key to representative government.

Overall, although attendance was less than I had hoped, I rate the event as a success.  Thanks to the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party for this event.  Hopefully all of the candidates will take the time to participate in the next debate.

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