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Archive for January, 2010

Why Don’t You Get A Job?

When I think about getting a new job, I can’t help but think of the first three lines of the song “Rock’n Me” by the Steve Miller Band.  The lyrics are right; it is very tough to find good employment these days.  Now, that’s not to say that I’m not presently employed.  I’m grateful for the work I have, even though I’m underemployed, but unfortunately my work has nothing to do with the field of politics.  As I’m sure you can tell from reading this blog, three of my greatest passions are: advancing my political ideology, learning about politics and relaying such knowledge to others, and writing.  I’ve been constantly searching for a job that encompasses one (or more than one) of these areas.

I’ve applied to positions as far away as Sacramento and Fort Lauderdale as well as peppering Virginia and the regional states.  Alas, the tree of success remains barren.  In addition, for some reason, communication from potential employers continues to be poor.  On several separate occasions, a person or organization has either set up a date for an interview or planned to make an offer, only to completely cease all contact instead.  It is horribly frustrating.  I understand that circumstances change.  Perhaps you found a better candidate.  Maybe you are in a hiring freeze.  Regardless, I would appreciate the common courtesy of a phone call or an email to relay this information.  If you happen to be a person who engages in such behavior, don’t worry.  Unlike Conan O’Brien, I have no plans of calling you out on this blog or elsewhere, but for goodness sake, couldn’t you show at least a nickel’s worth of respect?  Imagine yourself in my shoes.  Wouldn’t you deserve the same?

Now I know that this blog is a double-edged sword.  Although it has greatly increased the circle of folks that know both my politics and myself, I’m sure it has offended some people as well.  After all, it is a rare occasion when two people can agree completely on every issue.  Nevertheless, I make no apologies for any of the stances I have taken.  Every true, limited government, conservative could find more than enough common ground with this blog, and hence, with me.  Now I know what a few of you will say, “But…but…but, the war…”.  Sure, if you are a PAC, politician, media outlet, or another related organization looking for employees whose sole or primary task it is to promote the conflict in Iraq, you’d best look elsewhere.  On the other hand, if you are looking for a zealous pro-life, pro-2nd Amendment, pro-10th Amendment, pro-right-to-work, pro-Judeo-Christian values kind of guy, then I’m your man.

Well, I’m sure you came to this blog to read my articles, not to find a want ad, but I’m afraid we live in troubled and uncertain times.  Should you or an organization you know be in the market, send me an email.  Writing and politics are my life; I’d just like them to once again be my job too.

Thank you for your time.

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The politics of color identification continue to grow in this country.  Now by color identification, I’m not referring to anything racial, but rather the “red state blue state” mentality that is becoming more widespread.  For example, in the world of political blogging and activism, we have folks like RedState and RedStormPAC on the right and Blue Virginia and Blue Commonwealth on the left.  Although not really conservative, as they hail from the “red state” of Tennessee, there is also the satirical Red State Update.

The notion of identifying the color red with the Republican Party/conservatives and the color blue with the Democratic Party/liberals is a relatively new concept arising out of the 2000 Presidential Election where states won by George W. Bush were labeled in red and states won by Al Gore were labeled in blue.  Prior to that time, there was no uniform color scheme to identify the parties.  Some years the Republicans were blue, some years they were red.  It should be noted that, so far, neither party has officially adopted their assigned color.

Personally I dislike the system and believe it would make far more sense if the colors were reversed.  Like Thomas Nast’s elephant and donkey, the colors, in my mind, serve as a criticism for both.  The Republicans should be blue as their critics claim that their tax cutting plans and trickle down economics benefit the rich, the well connected, the elites, the blue bloods.  The Democrats on the other hand promote nationalization and expanded government power like you would see in a communist or “red” country.  But don’t just take my word for it.  Painting the right-wing party blue and the left-wing party red is a fairly universal concept outside our borders.  For example, if we examine the rest of North America, in Canada the Conservative Party’s color is blue and the Liberal Party is red.  So too is it for Mexico where the PAN is blue and the PRI is red (and also green).  Moving across the pond (as the British like to say) we find Europe in much the same color plan.  In the United Kingdom, the Conservatives are blue and Labour is red.  Need more proof?  In Germany, France, Spain, Poland, Norway, and Austria, the CSU, Union for a Popular Movement, PP, Civic Platform, Høyre, and FPÖ parties are all right-wing and use the color blue while the left-wing SPD, Socialist, PSOE, SLD, Labour, and SPÖ parties have all chosen or been assigned the color red.  One can even see similar trends in Asia where in Japan the LPD’s colors are blue and orange and the DPJ is red and black.  In South Korea the GNP is blue and the DP is green (OK, it isn’t a perfect system).  Although not every party lines up with blue for right-wing and red for left-wing, especially in multiparty countries, it is a fairly accepted norm.

Thinking back to our own colors and perceived negatives about the parties, I guess you could say that the Republican Party is now red due to the zeal for war and the resulting bloodshed, but what really ties the Democrats to blue?  I think the blue Republican and red Democrat make far more sense.  After all, if the Democrats are blue, isn’t calling conservative Democrats “blue dog” redundant? Although I am certain it won’t happen, given that Republicans “hate the poor”, I say that we should salvage our elitist blue and leave red for those “commie” Democrats.

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Back in July, I lamented the closure of many Virginia rest stops as a cost saving measure for the state government.  Earlier today, I received word via Facebook from State Senator Steve Martin that they will be reopening soon.

We will have the welcome centers opened in less then 3 months, though I understand the Kaine admin had the toilets removed and physically taken elsewhere. I called Tim Kaine early last Spring suggesting private sector sponsorship to keep them open. His rep replied that it was a good idea, but then rejected it. I called… The Retail Merchants and Bob McDonnell and they embraced it. Such sponsorship may not be needed.

Nothing said “get out of my state” quite like those boarded up rest stops.  Thank you Senator Martin and your fellow levelheaded legislators for restoring these important features along our interstate system.  Even though the economy may not have fully recovered yet, I’m glad to see our sense of hospitality and common decency has.

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Today is a pivotal day in American politics as voters across Massachusetts head to the polls to elect a new Senator.  They will be filling the seat occupied for 46 years by Ted Kennedy.  Given the New England commonwealth’s reputation as one of the most liberal states (for example, they were the first to allow same-sex marriage), one would typically expect the Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, to coast to an easy victory.  After all, a Republican has not held a Senate seat there since 1978.  Instead, she is in a statistical tie or even projected to lose.  The latest survey from InsiderAdvantage conducted on Sunday shows the Republican, Scott Brown, with a 9-point edge.  In addition to the two major party candidates, Joseph Kennedy (who has no relation to the famous Kennedy family) is running as an independent.

This race is important for several reasons.  First, like the Virginia and New Jersey Gubernatorial races before it, some people will claim that this election is another referendum on President Obama and the Democratically controlled Congress.  Far more critical, however, is the resulting makeup of the United States Senate.  With the current temporary Democratic appointee, the Democratic majority presently enjoys a filibuster proof 60-seat majority.  Should this seat change hands, Republicans can stall or kill all sorts of legislation including the controversial national health care bill.  Therefore, liberals and conservatives are taking special note of this election.  Funds and activists across the nation have been pouring into the state as each side scrambles to gain an advantage.   Even Barack Obama has made a number of campaign stops across Massachusetts in recent days, urging voters to support Coakley.

With turnout projected to be at least fifty percent, today’s vote should be particularly exciting in the Bay State.  All eyes are on Massachusetts as activists of all stripes eagerly await news of this critical special election.

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With each passing day, America slips further and further into the grip of socialism.  I expect that both the House of Representatives and Senate will soon reach an agreement on the latest attack on our liberty, national health care.  Although I’d like to think that Senator Webb and Warner would uphold their vows to our Constitution and vote against the bill, in the end, it is highly likely that both will toe the Democratic Party line.  Sigh.  I suppose that at some point our government must have been pretty decent.  Then again, the Supreme Court finding a supposed right to privacy that allows you to kill your own children through abortion but doesn’t protect you from the intrusion of the government through the excesses of the Patriot Act makes just about as much sense in today’s society.  It’s amazing what you can get away with when you interpret the phrase “general welfare” as liberally as possible while ignoring the 10th Amendment.

I have a confession to make.  Like millions of Americans, I don’t have health insurance.  Why don’t I, you may ask?  The answer is simple.  I cannot afford it.  Although I have had health insurance in the past and will likely do so again in the future, my budget doesn’t allow it at the present.  Well then, should I look to the government for assistance?  Should I insist that the government take money out of your pocket and give it to me so that I too can enjoy the benefits of health insurance?  Is that scheme unfortunately becoming the new “American way”?  While we are on the subject, I have to wonder why we need health insurance for routine doctor visits.  My understanding is that originally health insurance was used for major things like surgery, hospital stays, and the like.  Using insurance for any health related issue under the sun makes about as much sense as requiring auto insurance for oil changes.  As a result, this increased reliance on insurance has greatly spiked the health care costs in this country.  Take it from me; to now seek medical assistance without it is tantamount to financial suicide.  And when this legislation passes, if you choose to go without insurance, then the federal government can fine you?  I’m starting to wonder, which side won the Cold War, liberty or statism?  To borrow a phrase from Yakov Smirnoff, in Soviet Russia, insurance chooses you!

Now we can scream foul at the top of our lungs, but will our elected representatives hear our cry?  Sure, some statesmen like Delegate Bob Marshall, Senator Mark Obenshain, and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli are actively fighting for your rights, but the vast majority of politicians simply don’t care.  After all, Washington insiders know what’s best for you and are more than happy to dictate policy.  You agree, yes?  Remember, Napoleon Obama is always right.  Anyone who supports federalized insurance must be voted out of office and I encourage you to read Senator Obenshain’s recent article on the subject found in the Washington Times.  Not only does socialism promote bad medicine through expanded bureaucracy and inflated costs, it also spawns bad governance.

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Let me start with some background.  After finishing my work for a pro-life organization in the state of Tennessee, I faced a tough dilemma.  What would I do next?  What about working for a presidential campaign?  After all, I had been rigorously volunteering for political campaigns for about a decade at that point, and in the last election I had the opportunity to work for the Republican Party of Virginia.  But which one was best?  For starters, the candidate had to be completely conservative both socially and fiscally.  One thing was certain; I wasn’t about to offer my services to any sort of pro-choice politician, no sir.   In addition, I had become increasingly frustrated with a growing number of Republicans over their apparent abandonment of the principles of a constitutional, limited government (George W. Bush anyone?).  And so I researched.  One candidate far and away drew my attention…Congressman Ron Paul of Texas.  Sure, I had heard of him, but I didn’t really know too much about him.  After all, with 435 members in the House of Representatives, who can keep track of them all?  Many fellow Republicans regarded him with derision calling him Dr. No due to his track record of voting against so many bills.  But the more I read, the more I liked.  Unlike so many other members of Congress, he consistently voted in accordance with the Constitution, even though doing so meant he wouldn’t bring home pork to his constituents.  He opposed tax increases; he favored state rights, slashing spending, and the elimination of many federal programs, departments, and agencies.  Although heavily controversial, he also opposed the conflict in Iraq, a big selling point for me.  Even though I was, and still am, leery of the legalization of many types of drugs, he was right, it was a state issue, not a federal one.  He represented, in my mind, the true ideals of the Republican Party and conservatism.  My goal was clear.  I had to promote Ron Paul aggressively.  I had to work for his campaign.

Trying to get employment with the Ron Paul campaign was a difficult task, a job in and of itself.  I called weekly and spammed the campaign with email.  Finally, when I heard a Ron Paul campaign staffer would be in Winchester, I hopped in my car and headed north.  It took months, but my determination finally paid off and I was soon headed to South Carolina.  This effort was not simply another campaign, but a revolution.  Although I can’t find a backwards l or a proper backwards e on my keyboard, you could often find signs that read, “Ron Paul Revolution” with a backwards e and l so you could simultaneously see the words revolution and love written backwards.  In many ways, we were just that, a nonviolent revolution.  Although we certainly wanted to win the primaries, we had an objective much more far reaching than a single election.  Our goal was the hearts and minds of the average citizens of America.  Some people treated us with skepticism; others, like Rudy Giuliani, rudely and openly mocked our principles.  But, we labored on, never second-guessing the importance of our cause, winning converts slowly but surely.  Unfortunately we didn’t win South Carolina.  Then again, the campaign didn’t win a single state.  Some people might view such a result as a failure, but we knew better.  After the South Carolina primary, I had hoped to continue on with the campaign to my home state of Virginia, but fortune had other plans.  Even though I was sidelined, a spectator, that didn’t stop me from cheering as loudly as I could.

During the primaries, Rush Limbaugh mentioned that the nomination of John McCain would destroy the Republican Party.  Now, if John McCain had actually won the election, I think Rush would have been right.  Given his plethora of non-conservative tendencies, we would be a party without a clear ideological direction, leaderless.  Although not necessarily as a result of, but definitely concurrent with, the election of Barack Obama, conservative activists began to rise in great numbers in opposition.  Even though I do not have the specific data in hand at the moment, a majority of Virginia Republicans viewed Ron Paul unfavorably in 2008.  By 2009, opinion had shifted greatly.  Had Ron Paul or his positions changed?  Not as far I as could tell.  One by one, activists and ordinary American have come to understand that maybe Ron Paul wasn’t a crazy tinfoil, hat-wearing lunatic.  Maybe the government had grossly overstepped its constitutional bounds.  Maybe we had to react now, before our liberties diminished further, before we totally become vassals of the state.  As proof of this trend, one only needs to look to rise of the tea party movement.  Although I can’t pinpoint the exact origins of this protest, I can easily see some roots from both the message and tactics of the Ron Paul campaign.  Conservatives of just about all stripes are fed up with the status quo, the steady lurches toward a socialistic nanny state, and demand a halt!  Many are discovering the merits of the 10th Amendment for the first time.

Although the Ron Paul campaign wrapped up back in 2008, I’m pleased to say that the movement has taken new forms, morphed to become useful post election.  The two largest and organized children are the Campaign for Liberty and Young Americans for Liberty.  Many of my former coworkers are heavily involved in these organizations.  I encourage you to visit their websites and learn more about them.  Take it from me; they are both worthy of your time, your money, and your support.  As history is still being written, it is impossible to gauge the full impact of the revolution, but in many ways Ron Paul could end up being the Barry Goldwater of this generation.  If you will recall, although he didn’t win the presidency himself, the movement that he started led to the rise and election of Ronald Reagan.  I will always respect Ron Paul and his followers for their devoted, principled stance and am pleased to count them as my allies.  Even if tomorrow is uncertain, two years later the R3volution lives on!

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Rethinking Johnson

When you ask the person on the street who were the greatest presidents, you usually get a pretty uniform list:  Lincoln, Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Reagan, Wilson, and sometimes even Kennedy.  But why do these presidents make the list?  Why are they viewed as great in the public mind?  The answer is simple.  Either for good or ill, each of these men accomplished something monumental (with the possible exception of Kennedy).  They have achieved immortality in the American mind.  But, despite what you may think, greatness doesn’t necessarily imply a positive morality or respect for the law.  In fact, in terms of shredding our own Constitution, one could easily make the case that FDR, Wilson, and Lincoln were, in fact, some of, if not, our worst presidents.

I could continue down this rabbit hole, but instead I wanted to focus on one of our forgotten presidents, Johnson.  No.  Not Lyndon Johnson.  He was a disaster for our country with his so-called “Great Society” of expanded meddling by the federal government and reckless handling of the Vietnam War.  Rather, I’d like to discuss our 17th President, Andrew Johnson.  Many people seem to forget about Andrew Johnson given he that immediately followed a powerful and assassinated leader, Abraham Lincoln.  Think about it for a moment, with the twin exceptions of LBJ and Teddy Roosevelt before him, how many vice presidents who assumed the presidency upon the death of the president can you name, much less discuss in any detail?  John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester A. Arthur, Calvin Coolidge, do any of these names ring a bell?

A few days ago, I found myself in Greeneville, TN, home and final resting place for Andrew Johnson.  Although, like the rest of the American public, I don’t really think about him much, I certainly don’t believe that he ranks as one of the worst presidents.  Again, the reason he is viewed in such a poor light stems from the question, what did he do?  Did he win a great war?  Did he expand the size of the country?  Did he create new, expensive, and unconstitutional federal programs? No, no, and no.  Well then, what did he do?  The answer is simple.  He stuck to his principles.  First we need a bit of history about Johnson.  At the onset of the Civil War, Johnson served as one of Tennessee’s national Senators.  In the early stages of the war, he held the distinction of being the only Senator from a seceded state who retained his seat.  When Nashville fell to Union forces in early 1862, Abraham Lincoln appointed Johnson as the military governor of the state.  Given his status as a pro-war Democrat, Lincoln selected Johnson as his running mate in 1864, and when Lincoln fell at Ford’s Theater, Johnson became the 17th President.

But what were Andrew Johnson’s principles?  He strongly believed in state rights, limited government, and the Constitution.  Then why, you may ask didn’t he support the Tennessee legislature when the state declared independence from the federal government?  The answer was that he believed secession was unconstitutional and held a higher loyalty to the national government than his home state.  Given these principles, after Lincoln’s death, Johnson often came into conflict with the Radical Republicans.  First of all was the issue of Reconstruction.  Although Johnson preferred a fairly lenient path to reconciliation (simply ending slavery and notions of secession), many of the Republicans demanded far harsher terms, treating the southern states, not as self-governing entities, but as conquered territory.  Then we had the 14th Amendment.  The Republicans wanted the southern states, as well as the rest of the country, to ratify the amendment to give former slaves the benefits of citizenship, but given that most of the white Southerners still didn’t enjoy political representation, Johnson strongly opposed this amendment.  Next came the Tenure of Office Act.  Passed over Johnson’s veto, the law stated that the president would require approval from Congress in order to remove a member of his cabinet.  This law (although repealed several decades later) was later declared unconstitutional in Myer v. United States.  When Johnson violated this act, the Radical Republicans began impeachment proceedings against him.  Thus Johnson was the first president to be impeached, though he narrowly avoided conviction by the Senate with a single vote.  Ultimately, Johnson’s refusal to compromise his principles cost him considerable political influence.  As a final act to show his loyalty to the limits of power and the government, he was buried with the flag and a copy of the Constitution.

Certainly I have a few questions for Andrew Johnson such as:  How, as an advocate for states rights, could he support the occupation of his home state?  And how could he serve as a military governor (and a particularly harsh one at that)?  Regardless of the answers, I believe Andrew Johnson has gotten an unfair assessment from modern historians.  Was he our greatest president?  Certainly not.  Nor should he be in the top five, or likely even the top ten.  Nevertheless, I think his devotion to our Constitution and limited government is a lesson our current politicians could and should take to heart.  Andrew Johnson may not have accomplished “great” things like burdening us with the modern welfare state, the creation of the United Nations, or the income tax, but he did attempt to heal the nation after a period of tremendous turmoil as amicably as possible.  Given the horrors of Reconstruction coupled with the extreme racial prejudice and segregation that dominated both northern and southern society for the next century, one does wonder what sort of world Johnson’s ideals would have created.  Maybe it is time to rethink Johnson.

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Late Saturday night I received an email from Steve Zeitchik, a reporter at the LA Times.  He was writing a piece for the paper about politics of the movie and, after reading my political review of Avatar on this blog, wanted to speak with me further on the subject.  The following evening I had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Zeitchik about the political themes of the film.  We explored Avatar, fellow blogger reactions, political attitudes of the movie going public, and briefly other films.  Although I’ll admit it that I’ve always been a little intimidated to speak to the press, I thoroughly enjoyed our half an hour conversation.  He highlighted all of these issues in his work, “‘Avatar’: Red-state politics + blue aliens = box-office green”.  Let me tell you that it was both gratifying and humbling to be recognized in the media.

I suppose I can now add that my blog is “now featured in the LA Times”, but regardless of that issue, I encourage you to check out Mr. Zeitchik’s article.  After our exchange, I entered the theater for the second time on Monday to revisit my original impressions of Avatar.  They remained pretty much the same.  However, I did find another conservative message.  Given the Na’vi’s code of “mating for life”, their concept promotes such a high degree of marital and sexual fidelity that they would presumably create far more stable and long-term relationships, as well as improving the society as a whole.  As a side note, despite what some might say, the 2D experience is nearly as good as 3D.

The bottom line is simple: if you haven’t watched Avatar yet, go do so and see what all the fuss is about.  Even if you, like myself, disagree with many of the political ramifications in the film, the stunning visual effects and entertaining story easily cover the $10 to $15 ticket price.  Then feel free to share your gripes and praises of this controversial work.

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