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Archive for October, 2008

Well folks, I’m guessing that the Obama rally in Harrisonburg was the largest event in recent history for the city.  According to the JMU website, the convocation center holds 7,612 and I assure you that many more thousands of people were there who didn’t make it inside.  I wish that I could show you pictures of Senator Obama, but unfortunately I was unable to get in myself.  From what I overheard, apparently you needed to arrive at least a good four hours ahead of time and, as I mentioned in my last post, I was quite unwilling to stand out in the cold for more than an hour.  To be fair, I would have tried to arrive sooner, but misinformation related to shuttle services delayed me considerably.

Nevertheless, I found numerous interesting pictures:  the scores of Obama supporters, the relatively small band of McCain supporters, vendors haggling their wares, piles of trash left scattered about by the waiting spectators, masses clustered around TV sets watching the live broadcast, and let us not forget a curious man in a suit waving a Soviet flag while shouting pro-Obama messages.  I present to you a mere sampling of the sights of the day.  If you still need more, check out YouTube or http://hbblogs.com/.

A pro-McCain rally going on nearby

A pro-McCain rally going on nearby

My first sight of the event...not a good sign

My first sight of the event...not a good sign

The line of people unable to get in continues.

The line of people unable to get in continues.

A view of the crowd in the back of the building

A view of the crowd in the back of the building

Another view of the crowd in back.

Another view of the crowd in back.

Disgraceful.  Just disgraceful.

Disgraceful. Just disgraceful.

A fairly happy band of pro-McCain students.

A fairly happy band of pro-McCain students.

Watching from the TV (1)

Watching from the TV (1)

Watching from the TV (2)

Watching from the TV (2)

Man with Soviet Flag

Man with Soviet Flag

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Barack Obama is coming to Harrisonburg today.  For citizens of Harrisonburg, this comes as exciting news as no presidential candidate has made a campaign stop here since Richard Nixon (at least that is what the local Democratic Party tells me).  Although most everyone in Harrisonburg knows these details by now, for those who haven’t heard, he will be speaking at the James Madison University Convocation Center at 5:15.  Doors will be opening two hours early and the building holds about 9,000.  I have been told that, like the crazed fans for Star Wars Episode I, students have been waiting in line by camping outside the event last night.  Although I hope to see the event myself, I surely will not wait even an hour in the cold.  Should the Champion of the Constitution, Congressman Ron Paul, visit Harrisonburg, I might brave the elements, but not for Senator (and likely future President) Obama.

Will you make the event?  Will you see me among the throng?  Only time will tell.  Hopefully I’ll have pictures and commentary to add.

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Well, it turns out that GOPguy1 was right.  The event on Tuesday at the GOP headquarters served as little more than a McCain pep rally.  I’m not quite sure why they did not label the event as such ahead of time.  The HQ was pretty crowded and, as expected, the three politicians showed up late.  Looking around, I saw they’d gotten a bunch of new high tech phones that likely came from the RNC.  State Senator Obenshain (26th-R Harrisonburg) was in attendance too.  As you might know, I was hoping he would’ve run for Attorney General in 2009, but I suppose we’ll have to wait another four years.  I don’t know where our Delegate, Matt Lohr (26th-R Broadway) has been keeping himself.  Although I don’t attend every GOP event here, I cannot recall the last time I saw him.  I wonder if he has been intentionally staying out of the limelight (for some unknown reason) or if he is just busy with his farming duties.

Even though the experience was not terribly exciting, I thought that there were two extremely amusing moments during the event, both from our local McCain representative, Michael Ganoe.  First, as he implored the attendees to volunteer during the last two week period, he stated that we should forgo our social and recreational activities, like our children’s sports, because, I kid you not, if Barack Obama wins then we will no longer be able to enjoy these activities.  That suggestion was greeted by a vocal amen from one man in the crowd.  Although I know the importance of hyping every campaign, the suggestion is still ridiculous!  It further illustrates the tactics of fear that have become so commonplace to the campaign.  Should we all leave the country if Obama is victorious?  How soon until we are rounded up into camps?  If McCain cannot win on his own merits (which I believe is impossible), then they resort to demonizing Obama.  The second funny moment came once Congressman Goodlatte arrived.  Here Mr. Ganoe, along with the crowd, thanked Bob Goodlatte for voting against the bailout.  If only Senators Warner and Graham were there then, I would been interested to witness their reactions as they, along with Senator McCain, both voted for the massive corporate welfare.  If that issue is as important to you as it is to me, how can you support a candidate like McCain who rammed the bill through Congress irrespective of the Constitution?

Later, Senator Warner arrived, followed by Senator Graham and they sang their praises of Senator McCain.  Although they sounded fairly reasonable, (at least for neoconservatives), unfortunately both speeches focused more on what’s wrong with Barack Obama rather than what is right about John McCain.  Senator Graham stated “If we send one more dollar of your money to Washington DC in the name of compassion we’re going to break the back of business and some of you are going to lose your jobs.”  So true Senator Graham.  Good thing you voted for the bailout huh?  I think I’d like my excess tax dollars back rather than ship them off to failing corporations.  I guess, unlike you, I’m not very compassionate.  After his speech, Senator Graham parroted McCain’s plan of compelling the federal government to buy up the bad mortgages.  Good idea!  I’m sure that plan won’t require more dollars to be sent to Washington.

But what’s a post about an event without pictures?  Oh, oh…what is this?  A shaky video too?  Hot dog!  Here.  Enjoy!

Crowd from Sen. Graham Event (1)

Crowd from Sen. Graham Event (1)

Crowd from Sen. Graham Event (2)

Crowd from Sen. Graham Event (2)

Fancy new phones for the HQ

Fancy new phones for the HQ

Looking for Volunteers

Looking for Volunteers

Rep. Goodlatte, Sen. Obenshain, Sen. Warner

Rep. Goodlatte, Sen. Obenshain, Sen. Warner

Sen. Warner, Sen. Obenshain, Sen. Graham

Sen. Warner, Sen. Obenshain, Sen. Graham

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A few hours ago I got an email from the local GOP indicating that Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) as well as Senator Warner will be coming to Harrisonburg tomorrow in support of Representative Goodlatte.

The details (in case you can make it):

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA

WHO: U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

U.S. Senator John Warner (R-VA)

U.S. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)

WHAT: Rally at Harrisonburg Virginia Victory Headquarters

WHEN: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 at 12:45 p.m. EDT

WHERE: Harrisonburg Virginia Victory Headquarters

182 Neff Avenue

Harrisonburg, VA

This email raises numerous questions.  First, why would they announce the event less than 24 hours in advance?  Won’t turnout be extremely low?  Second, why are liberal “maverick” senators like Graham and Warner supporting Goodlatte?  For the record, Warner hasn’t supported Gilmore and, most likely, will not do so.  Also, shouldn’t Graham focus his time on his own re-election bid against Bob Conley?  Third, and perhaps most importantly, why the heck would a conservative like Goodlatte want face time with Graham and Warner?

It is strange, very strange indeed.  If I can make it, I’ll let you know what I can find out.

Update:  I suppose that Louis is correct.  Calling Warner and Graham liberals would likely be incorrect.  They, like McCain, sometimes have liberal policies and sometimes have conservative policies.  Unfortunately, they are not wed to the strict conservative philosophies of limited government and personal responsibility.  I believe that both South Carolina and Virginia are conservative enough to find Senators who are closer to true conservatives (Conley and Gilmore in the present election).

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(Not a reference to the movie of the same name)

From the time of my political awaking back in the mid 1990’s, politicians have come and gone, rising to great power and falling from glory.  However, one leader on which I pinned such wistful hopes has so resoundingly disappointed me.  That leader was none other than President George W. Bush.  Back in 2000 when he was running against the liberal leaning John McCain, I strongly supported his election.  After the 8 years of Clinton, we needed a strong conservative leader who supported the ideals of limited government and exhibited strong moral values.  Very early in his administration, pundits criticized President Bush for taking time off and not accomplishing anything, but I didn’t mind in the least.  After all, he was our president, not the “leader of the free world” like the president has come to be viewed.  True, we are the greatest nation on earth, but other nations have a right to govern themselves rather than be controlled from Washington.  I figured that other conservatives and southerners agreed with this viewpoint.  One of my favorite quotes came from George Bush.  He said that in 2001, “I just don’t think that it’s the role of the United States to walk into a country to say, ‘we do it this way, so should you’”.

I thought that, like Communism, after the Clinton failures, the ideas of nation building and military interventionism were thrown on the ash heap of history.  In addition, for the first time in my life, Republicans controlled the House, the Senate, and the Presidency.  Can you imagine it?  We could finally roll back government spending and taxes.  How about eliminating a few unconstitutional government agencies?  Or even take steps to end the genocide of abortion?  Just about anything was possible.  Unfortunately, as they say, 9-11 changed everything.  Rather than fighting to restore our government, President Bush pushed for the so-called Patriot Act which further stripped away our privacy and liberty in order to gain a little temporary security.  American citizens, in their fear, willing gave up their rights in order to try to stay safe.  After all, if you weren’t guilty, you had nothing to fear, right?  Then came the terrible conflict in Iraq.  I say that it was terrible because it was the first time that we preemptively provoked a conflict (unless you want to argue about either the Vietnam and the Spanish American War, though in both those cases the government came up with a rational explanation that later turned out to be false).  Rather than focusing on punishing Osama Bin Laden for 9-11, we instead took over a sovereign nation, first in the name of weapons of mass destruction and later to spread democracy and freedom.  To die to maintain and enhance the freedom and liberty of one’s own people is a noble goal.  To fight on behalf of another nation or people’s freedom should be a choice made on a person-by-person basis rather than by our leaders.  European monarchs of old and today’s dictators treat their soldiers like pawns in a chess game, sacrificing them to gain territory or aid allies, but I would like to think that the lives of our soldiers hold far more value.

Back to domestic concerns, rather than fight against federal involvement in education, President Bush pushed for No Child Left Behind.  Also Bush failed in his duty to defend our borders by not punishing illegal immigration and refusing to pardon the border patrol agents who were imprisoned for doing their jobs.  What about his delay in firing Rumsfeld, which likely cost Republican seats in 2006?  Then we have the issue of the bailout.  Normally, a rational fiscal conservative would have realized that government intervention caused the problem, but instead George Bush supported massive corporate welfare at your and my expense.  On the other hand, what socially conservative programs did George Bush push?  Has abortion been curtailed?  Do we have greater school choice?  He squandered away so much political capital on his war on terror, that he either ignored his opportunities domestically, or even worse, steadily moved us in the wrong direction.

True, I did campaign and vote for George Bush in 2000, but I didn’t repeat my mistake in 2004.  I pinned so much hope on W. and he has disappointed on just about every front.  He is not a small government advocate on either fiscal or foreign policy issues and he tricked the moral wing of the party into supporting his flawed plans under the banner of God and Country.  Think John McCain is a fresh conservative change from the likes of George Bush?  Think again.  Until Republicans rediscover and embrace the constitutional conservative soul of the party they not only should lose, but they also must lose.  As even the questionably conservative Mitt Romney noted, “When Republicans act like Democrats, America loses”.  Demand better.  Otherwise get used to more crappy leaders like Bush and McCain.

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As Brutus from the blog, “The Oath” points out in his recent post, the position taken in the 2008 Republican Party Platform directly contradicts the bailout.

Check it out.

Good to see our Republican champion John McCain adheres so closely to the Republican platform. It is absolutely crazy.

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Well folks, the bailout is now a fact of life. Rather than the nasty $700 billion version first suggested, we now have a version that is loaded with so much pork and special projects that it turns our federal government into a corporate Santa Claus. Goody. Although a majority of the house members voted against the first package, a number of congressmen were quite willing to support a revised bill that gives gifts to their districts and pet interests, at the expense of the taxpayers of course. Fortunately, some constitutionally minded members of the House were able to retain their sanity like my own Representative Bob Goodlatte, such as Ron Paul and Scott Garrett. I don’t know who are worse, members like Eric Cantor who twice blatantly disregarded the constitution in favor of corporate greed, or congressional prostitutes who only will sellout their principles for an agreed upon price. Normally I would take the opportunity to rail against the votes of liberal Virginia Republicans like Rep. Tom Davis and Sen. John Warner, but fortunately neither will misrepresent Virginia values for much longer. While I’m on the topic, how can some Republicans claim personal welfare is a terrible thing and yet ardently support corporate welfare? Welfare, in either form, is the government-sanctioned redistribution of wealth from one person or group to another. I do not believe that either is constitutional and therefore both are tantamount to “legalized” theft. Despite what some politicians say, remember that just because something is made legal, it is not necessarily moral. Although a Democrat (therefore I hold you to a different standard), please know that I am still disappointed in you Sen. Jim Webb. Didn’t you campaign as a fairly conservative Democrat? Where are those conservative principles now? Will both parties drag us kicking and screaming into a new and glorious government welfare paradise? Must all Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, be forced shout “Hurrah for the Welfare State”?

In response to the bailout bill, Congressman Goodlatte (6th-VA) responded with the following statement:

“Today the U.S. House of Representatives considered legislation, the Financial Stabilization Package, aimed at stabilizing the growing financial crisis currently facing our country. Nothing is more important to me than ensuring the future growth of our economy and we can all agree that Congress has a responsibility to act to ensure that credit, the lifeline of our economy, remains available to individuals, families, students, and small businesses all across this country.

Inaction has never been an option. However, after much deliberation, I reached the conclusion that this legislation, which I voted against, is not the solution to our long-term financial problems or our short term credit liquidity crisis. While improvements have been made to the legislation, at its core it is the same as the revised Paulson plan which the House defeated earlier this week.

The Financial Stabilization Package represents the largest corporate bailout in American history by taking 700 billion dollars of taxpayers’ hard-earned money and handing it over to the very companies that made the bad decisions which led us into this mess in the first place. We literally reward those financial institutions who engaged in risky behavior to the tune of up to $8,000 for every family of four in the U.S. Since the federal government has to get this money from somewhere, it will borrow it, increasing the national debt. Not only will the government be paying $700 billion to bailout these reckless Wall Street companies, but also the billions of dollars in interest to pay off the debt. The bill requires the federal government to evaluate and purchase hundreds of billions of dollars of complex securities. Then the government will have to manage and ultimately sell these assets in an effort to recoup the taxpayers’ money. This is a responsibility for which it has no expertise and is a major intrusion in the financial markets with untold unintended consequences. This will directly affect every American by weakening the dollar and raising the cost of goods and services.

I believe there are other ways to turn this credit crisis around and stabilize our economy without penalizing taxpayers for the sins of those on Wall Street. The fundamental problem we face today is that no one knows how much the risky mortgage-backed securities are worth, and thus no private buyers are willing to purchase them. I am supportive of alternative initiatives to mandate that financial institutions purchase insurance from the federal government on these risky assets which places the burden on financial institutions to pay premiums for the insurance. The guarantee by the federal government would help unlock the liquidity of these assets by placing a minimum value on them. This would also limit the negative effects on taxpayers.

Other proposals worthy of consideration include funding assistance through a guaranteed bond program, which would be purchased by private investors, or a guarantee initiative similar to the net worth certificate program of the 1980s. These initiatives deserved scrutiny and consideration. Each of these would involve some financial participation by those who caused the problem. None were debated or voted on in this process.

I am pleased that after much urging from many Members of Congress, including myself, the mark-to-market accounting rules, which allows all financial institutions including local banks, to fairly value their assets and help to ease the credit crisis facing the country, were eased.

Our economy faces historic and unprecedented challenges. Most importantly Congress must not view the passage of the Financial Stabilization Package as the lone solution to the troubles in our national economy. It is critical that Congress continue to examine the root cause of this crisis, including fiscal irresponsibility and a lack of resolve to rebuild our domestic economy, including energy production.

I remain committed to working with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to ensure that businesses are held accountable for their actions, which should help restore long term confidence in our financial markets and set our economy back on the right track.”

As the stock market continues to slide downward, like water circling a drain, I could not help but think of the song “Stay Together for the Kids” by Blink-182 and how appropriately it applies to not only this bailout, but also the federal government in general. As the lyrics say, they rarely find solutions, create many more problems, and are routinely generous with the possessions of others.

I’m pleased to say that there is some good news friends. Fortunately for constitutional conservatives like myself, on the issue of welfare, we are offered a clear choice for president in this election. On the one hand, we have a candidate who vigorously supports a version of the welfare state and voted for the largest corporate welfare bailout in history. On the other hand, we have…hmm…well…another candidate who vigorously supports a version of the welfare state and voted for the largest corporate welfare bailout in history.

Uh oh.

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Good evening everyone.

I’m writing this post as I watch the second presidential debate, which, as you likely know, is taking place in Nashville, TN. For those who haven’t been there, the campus of Belmont is a beautiful place and I recommend visiting it if you get the chance.

As the debate grinds on, I wanted to just share my initial impressions as they come up. These are more my raw thoughts rather than a polished discussion. Did anything particular stand out to you?

9:20 Although the debate has only been going on for about twenty minutes so far, John McCain has mentioned three times, so far, the idea of having the government buy up and renegotiate bad mortgage loans. What a terrible and unconstitutional idea. Does anyone support such a plan? Do you want to pay for this scheme?

9:25 Unlike McCain, I do not like the ideas of Lieberman, Kennedy, or Feingold.

9:27 As we all know, Obama wants socialized medicine and education. Huzzah!

9:28 An important point early in the campaign was McCain’s plan to eliminate excess government and spending. He should talk more about these issues as opposed to spending more of our money.

9:37 McCain doesn’t want tax breaks for the wealthy? Doesn’t sound like a typical Republican idea. Reaganomics anyone?

9:43 McCain going on about global warming and climate change. Although I support nuclear power as he does (though for different reasons), I worry that his environmental plans will require increased government regulation.

9:49 We need offshore oil drilling to help ease our oil troubles. McCain is right.

9:54 McCain should continue to hammer Obama on the issue of healthcare (though he should avoid jokes because too few of his are funny.)

9:56 Obama says healthcare is a right, but we all know who he thinks should pay for this “right”. Are not our rights God given? You know, stuff like liberty, free speech, free association and the like? Pretty sure healthcare doesn’t qualify as a right.

10:21 Obama thinks that we need to rebuild the economies of the former Soviet Republics? Great idea! Even if it was constitutional, I’m sure our weak economy can support it.

10:27 A league of Democracies? Thank you Woodrow Wilson! Nothing warms my heart like mortgaging our national sovereignty.

Toward the end there, I guess you notice that I didn’t make too many comments. Starting about 10:00, the main thought running through my head was, “when will this be over?” Oh well. I’m sure that we will all be waiting “eagerly” for the next one.

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For those who have followed politics over the years, you might be familiar with the famous phrase “as goes Ohio, so goes the nation.” For those who are not, it is a reference to the presidential elections. Ohio is considered a bellwether state, which means that whoever wins the popular vote in Ohio will win the general election nationwide. Generally this maxim has held true. Since 1896, only twice has a candidate won Ohio but lost the election. However, since 1964, no candidate has won the presidency without capturing Ohio. Although Ohio does possess a significant number of electoral votes, 20 at the present, sheer numbers alone do not account for this trend. Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Texas, and the massive California all outrank Ohio in population and thus electoral votes. None of these states match the consistency with which Ohio sides with the winner. Something else must be at work here. Saving that particular reasoning for another day, nevertheless, for this election, winning Ohio is not as nearly important as it has been in the past. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the winner of one state will determine this election. Which is it? Why, our very own, Virginia.

If you are like me, you scan the polls every couple of days to see how the national trends are going. As usual, most states are not battlegrounds. Unless some sort of meltdown occurs, Obama will win California, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts, to name a few, while McCain will win Texas and a vast majority of rest of the south. Virginia is different this time. Rasmussen Reports has had Virginia in the “toss up” column since June. But Joshua, you might say, no Democratic Presidential Candidate has won here since 1964, what makes you think Virginia can go Democratic? Consider recent trends. We’ve had two back-to-back Democrat governors now and we have one (soon to be two) Democratic Senator(s). Even the state senate has fallen. As is typical, I would expect that northern Virginia and most of the cities in the state (with the exception of Virginia Beach) will go to Obama while the counties and rural areas will go to McCain. The battle lines are clearly drawn. The real trick will be to see which side mobilizes their supporters more effectively and in greater number. Who will win Virginia? With a month still to go, I cannot say. But I can say that the McCain camp desperately needs to win Virginia as his Republican counterparts have done in the past. Although Virginia will almost certainly predict the winner, I can foresee the possibility of Obama losing Virginia and still winning the election. For McCain, however, I do not honestly believe he can win without us. I don’t believe that any other swing state can make that claim. Therefore, if you wish to know the outcome of the Presidential election, you only need to feel the pulse of our own commonwealth.

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