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Archive for November, 2010

Hello, conservative friends.  For many of us, it has certainly been far too long since last we spoke.  And others of us have not yet met.  Unfortunately, as you know, many people my age do not take a serious interest in politics.  There are many possible explanations for this situation.  Perhaps they simply haven’t taken the time to get involved yet…maybe they don’t know how to get involved…or they feel caged in by their liberal friends.  Regardless of the circumstance, it’s time we make a change.  Therefore, I’d like to invite all of the young conservatives in the Shenandoah Valley to join me at an upcoming social gathering.  Now, this get-together is nothing fancy, but it gives us a chance to meet like-minded folks in a fairly informal atmosphere.  The details are as follows:

Who: Conservatives of all stripes: Fiscal, Social, and Constitutional (Ages 18 to 40)

What: Social Gathering

When: Thursday, December 2

7:00 PM to 8:00PM

Where: Downtown Harrisonburg

Massanutten Regional Library

174 South Main Street

Main Room

 

Light refreshments will be served while supplies last.  So make plans now to come out and join us.

I hope to see you all there!

Thanks!

If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email at conservativeva@gmail.com

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I am growing increasingly concerned about the influence of money in politics.  Of course people with money should be allowed to exercise their opinions, but so too should folks who have little.  About a week ago, I found a historic first, an issue where Attorney General Cuccinelli and I disagree.  Although I strongly supported the idea of a convention to select the Republican nominee for Senate in 2012 like Ken Cuccinelli did, I didn’t believe that we should increase filing costs for candidates.  Even worse though was the suggestion to hike the fees for delegates to these conventions.  If someone displays enough energy and effort to come to Richmond to cast his or her ballot for a nominee, I don’t think he or she should be forced to shell out large sums of money to do so.

Another thing that bugs me is constant requests for money, as if I am merely an unthinking set of empty eyes attached to a wallet.  Over the weekend, I received a letter from the Lieutenant Governor.  Now I’ll confess that I enjoy the nostalgic touch of a letter and so I always look forward to the mail.  When I opened the piece, I was disheartened to find that it was merely another generic political letter asking for money so I can join the “Bolling Brigade”.  Are you kidding me?!  Plenty of people are out of work these days.  The last thing the unemployed can afford to do is join the Bolling Brigade.  Now don’t think I’m singling out Bill Bolling here.  After all, I do support both Cuccinelli and Bolling.  Many politicians and organizations have been scrounging for funds these days.  What they should realize is the simple fact that when it comes to a choice between eating and donating money to a politician, there is really no choice at all.

So let me ask you a couple of questions:  Just because I don’t give away my money, does that mean my volunteer time is useless?  Is my opinion somehow less valuable or less important than someone who is willing and able to cut a fat check?  What with the recent high priced Advance and barrage of form fundraising letters, I’m beginning to think that the rich are trying to exclude the rest of us from the political world.  I’m starting to wonder if politicians leer at us greedily, judging us merely based on the bulge in our back pocket?  Hey buddy, my eyes are up here!  I’m more than just my cash, check, or credit card!

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A few moments ago, I successfully posted my most recent blog post on Youtube.  Now true, it is only an audio recording and a single grainy image, but I hope that it will lead to many new exciting things.  In addition, for those of you who have never met me, you now have an answer to the question, what does the author of The Virginia Conservative sound like?  Listen and enjoy.

Although it is likely going to go pretty slow at first, I must say that I’m looking forward to exploring new possibilities to expand this blog.

Isn’t technology amazing?

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On this coming Friday and Saturday, Republicans across the state will be gathering in McLean, Virginia, to celebrate the 27th Donald Huffman Advance.  For those who don’t know, Donald Huffman is a former chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia.  This year should an interesting event as many high name conservatives have reserved hospitality suites for Friday night.  For example, the three potential 2012 Senate candidates, former Governor George Allen, Delegate Bob Marshall of Manassas, and Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart all will be currying support.  To name a few more, my State Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg and Representative Eric Cantor of Richmond will each have a suite too.  Then on Saturday, after breakfast, attendees will have the opportunity to attend numerous workshops followed by lunch and then additional workshops.  That evening, activists can also enjoy a dinner and a VIP reception for an additional cost.  Sounds like an interesting experience, no?  So what do you expect an event like this one to cost?  $25?  $50?  $100?  Regrettably, these two days cost a staggering $165 per person!

Until last year, I never attended the annual Advance.  Although I have been to two conventions, I couldn’t justify the price tag.  After all, besides the cost of the Advance itself, you also have to take into account the travel costs as well as the hotel.  If you caught the early bird special for lodging this year, that means tacking on another $85.  In late 2009, I decided to make the trek down to Williamsburg to see what the fuss was all about.  The Friday night hospitality suites were sort of like a family reunion as I was able to speak to many politicians and activists that I had met over the years.  Unfortunately, by the late evening, I grew increasingly unwell.  By the morning, I felt sick and it was difficult to concentrate so by the time I got over to the Advance I was feeling pretty miserable.  Therefore, due to my worsening condition and desire to not contaminate my fellow activists, I planned to leave.  While pondering my options, I asked if I was able get some sort of refund if I left.  The folks at the RPV said that I could and so I exited the convention hall to return to Harrisonburg.  Later however, I was told that my promise of a full refund was reduced to just a partial refund.  A few weeks after that, the idea of even a minor refund was completely rejected.  Obviously, this episode has soured my impression of the Advance.

I would expect that many Republicans will gather in Tysons Corner this weekend to celebrate this year’s Advance.  However, you will not find me there.  Even if I could afford to go, I believe the charge is far too high for what you get and, especially in these tough economic times, the average Republican activist will be repulsed by the fees associated.  I have no problem with a fundraising dinner and a VIP reception in order to raise cash from the high rollers among us, but $250 (including hotel) to attend a handful of workshops?  If you are looking to learn more about politics, given their lower outlay, I think the Leadership Institute provides far more bang for your buck.  Shouldn’t the Advance be more about celebrating our victories and working for the future rather than squeezing the faithful for funds?  Sure, I’d love to join you at the RPV’s Advance, but the costs are simply too high.

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A Rockingham County political activist has recently been charged with 33 counts of theft, fraud, and forgery.  Less than 24 hours ago, James Madison University’s newspaper, The Breeze, first introduced to this story to the public in an article entitled “Student impersonator charged with credit card fraud”.  According to that piece, Andrew Jones, 18, of Broadway had allegedly stolen a handful of credit cards from JMU students and used these cards to purchase several thousands of dollars in assorted items.  Furthermore, the article states that JMU Police Investigator Doyle Hess tells us that Andrew has admitted using the cards.  Seems like a fairly routine open and shut type of case doesn’t it?

Ah, but that is where our tale takes a rather interesting turn.   Shortly after this story broke, hburgnews.com offered readers additional information, much of which was provided by Jones himself.  In this rendition, Jones stated that several members of the JMU College Republican community accuse him solely due to his homosexually.  Furthermore, Andrew claims to have knowledge and involvement regarding voter fraud in regard to some unspecified election.  Regrettably, these newest claims have spilled blood into the water, evoking an intense feeding frenzy and wild speculations from other local political activists on the hburgnews website.  As a result, I felt compelled to write about this matter.

Disappointingly, these new allegations have muddled an otherwise clear story.  The central issue at hand is whether or not Andrew Jones stole and used other people’s credit cards, not tales of corruption and discrimination.  Now is voter fraud a serious accusation?  Of course!  But such a claim merely distracts from the more pressing matter.  Even though admittedly much smaller in nature, this case is quickly shaping up to be like Harrisonburg’s political version of the O.J. Simpson circus trial.  Rather than focusing on the guilt or innocence of the person in question, our attention is drawn elsewhere.  We must not get caught up in this hoopla.  Regardless of these secondary issues, if Andrew is innocent, he must be cleared of all charges.  If, on the other hand, he is guilty, he must be punished according to the law.  Then, only once that central topic is dealt with, should we consider these other troubling matters.

Unfortunately or not, depending on your perspective, I believe the appearance of these red herrings will only serve to weaken his argument of innocence.  His bizarrely disappearing and reappearing Facebook account doesn’t do him any favors either.  Although gone now, his post telling friends not to worry due to a supposedly close friendship with the Commonwealth Attorney does much to discredit the possibility of a fair and impartial trial.  And the line, “I thought when they arrested me it was for voter fraud. I was shocked to find out that wasn’t [the reason]” is very disturbing.  More or less admitting complicity regarding voter fraud to a media source is a damning self-accusation in and of itself.

My words of warning to local political activists of all stripes are as follows:  Just because Andrew Jones happens to be Republican, that fact alone should not color your viewpoint either for him or against him.  His claims of fraud and discrimination might be completely true or they might be desperate attempts to deflect blame and attention.  I don’t wish to convict an innocent person nor do I want to see a guilty person vindicated.  Fortunately, neither you nor I are currently the judge or the jury, so the court of public opinion holds little value.  These central charges of theft, fraud, and forgery must be resolved first.  I’m glad that we live in a country where we have the opportunity to offer either support or condemnation to the accused, but never let politics get in the way of justice.

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Although this update is long overdue, you can now find The Virginia Conservative page on Facebook.  So feel free to check it out over there.  It is still in the early stages, but it should serve as a useful tool to connect with this blog as well as the other folks who read it. I hope to link it back to this blog as well once I figure out how.

You can find the page here.

Thanks for reading.

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One of the fundamental questions that we must ask ourselves is, what is the purpose or function of government.  As I have said on previous occasions, I believe the primary goal of any government is to defend the lives, liberty, and property of the citizens against any threat either foreign or domestic.  To a lesser extent, a government must also serve to provide needed services that, for either security reasons or economic ones, cannot be handled by the private sector.  Unfortunately, this viewpoint has gone into decline as more and more people view the government merely as a tool to achieve some tangible gain at the expense of the rest of the citizenry.  This trend is not some sort of new phenomenon, but has existed since the dawn of politics.  As Adam Smith writes in The Wealth of Nations, “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment or diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices”. 1 In this article, we will be discussing three of these widespread conspiracies.

The first of these conspiracies is subsidies and quotas.   Rather than let the free market act unfettered, the government interferes in order to promote certain industries.  Basic economics teaches that, under normal circumstances, if one area of industry experiences a glut of production, supply will rise as demand remains constant.  Therefore the price will plummet.  With diminishing revenue, less efficient suppliers of that product will stop producing and switch into a different market as to enjoy a better rate of return.  Conversely, if demand increases or supply drops then prices will rise and, as a result, new suppliers will come into being and/or current suppliers will increase their outputs in order to take advantage.  Although prices will fluctuate in the short run, over time assuming no intervening factors, they should remain relatively constant.  Subsides and quotas destroy this natural process.  They serve to keep prices artificially high or low and do not reward efficiency.  For a real world example, let’s look at the topic of sugar subsidies.  The reason sugar costs more than other sweeteners in this country is that the government subsidizes the industry.  As most citizens do not buy large quantities of sugar at one time, they do not notice the increase, but it does create significant wealth for sugar growers.  According to the Cato Institute, on March 12, 2010, sugar prices in the United States were 78% higher than elsewhere on the globe. 2 As the costs are so widespread among the millions of consumers, no one raises a fuss, while the benefits are concentrated in the hands of a relatively small number of producers. Large-scale buyers, like Pepsi, are affected by the higher prices and must switch the sweeteners they use in order to cut costs thus causing the rise of products like high fructose corn syrup.  Although we could import cheaper sugar from abroad to force prices back to the free market norm, the government sets strict quotas to limit these imports and thus keep this artificial price in place.  Unfortunately, the sugar industry serves as one of many glaring examples of a sector that uses the federal government for their own monetary gains at the expense of the public.

The second is the relatively new phenomenon of hate crime legislation.  These sorts of laws apply additional civil or criminal penalties for those who perform acts against people of other races, religions, or lifestyles.  Although potentially noble in thought, in practice the whole idea becomes utterly absurd.  Robbery is robbery, assault is assault, battery is battery, and murder is murder.  One should suffer the same consequences regardless if one commits an offense against a Jewish person, a black person, a homosexual person, or someone who happens to be all three.  It should make little difference legally if the perpetrator and victim happen to share a color or creed or end up being totally distinct.  In an episode of South Park, the creators display the ridiculous nature of so called hate crimes when their judge, pronouncing sentence against one of the character, announces, “I am making an example of you to send a message out to people everywhere: that if you want to hurt another human being, you’d better make damn sure they’re the same color as you are.” 3 The great fear of hate crime legislation is the way it further divides society and sets up special privileges for members of certain groups.  Should a criminal who harms me be treated any differently than a criminal who harms you in the same manner?  Isn’t the goal equality for all under the law?  Is justice blind, or does she favor certain classes?  Does it matter when you are robbed whether the perpetrator simply wants your money or commits his or her act because of hatred?  Couldn’t a special interest group promote hate crime laws merely to offer greater protection to individuals within their organization at the expense of everyone else?  In order to keep each person equal under the law and the penalty for crimes consistent, we must do away with any and all hate crime laws.

The third conspiracy is pork barrel spending.  Unfortunately this problem is extremely expensive and pervasive.  The pork watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste defines pork as congressional spending that consists of one or more of the following:  “requested by one chamber of Congress, not specifically authorized, not competitively awarded, not requested by the President, greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding, not the subject of congressional hearings, or serves only a local or special interest.” 4 The most infamous pork project was Alaska’s “bridge to nowhere” which would cost $398 million and link the town of Ketchikan to the island of Gravina, which contains an airport and the homes of roughly fifty people.  Although such a plan would no doubt be helpful to the town of Ketchikan, shouldn’t the citizens of Ketchikan pay for it rather than have the burden be shouldered by every citizen of the United States?  Unfortunately, too many members of Congress view U.S. tax dollars as a trophy to be carried home to their constituents.  Regrettably, the problem is not limited to one party as both Republicans and Democrats covet pork.  The worst among them have been former Senators Ted Stevens of Alaska and Robert Byrd of West Virginia.  Fortunately both are out of office, but I’m sure a number of politicians aspire to step into their shoes.  Although the state of West Virginia has benefited greatly from his largess, having named over thirty public works after Byrd including a statue of himself in Charleston, just imagine what else could have been done with that $1 billion, including returning it to the hardworking taxpayers.  According to the 2010 Pig Book published by CAGW, recent pork includes:  potato research, lobster research, brown tree snake removal, theater restoration, museum funding, and music education.  Do these projects fall under the authority of Congress according to the Constitution or are they merely a conspiracy to funnel our money to special interests?  From a politician’s point of view aren’t they mainly a tool for boosting support and improving their reelection chances?

Although there are many more conspiracies against the public, subsidies, hate crime legislation, and pork barrel spending are three of the more egregious violations.  Given the general ignorance of the public and their willingness to blindly assume that their representatives are looking after their best interests, these schemes will continue.  But there is some growing hope.  With the rise of the tea party movement, more and more Americans are realizing that our government has been overrun by the whims of special interests. Special interests will never change, but that doesn’t mean that leaders must bow to them.  Government is not and cannot be about exploiting one’s neighbors for selfish gains either monetarily or legally.  Although Election Day has just passed, we must always remember to only vote for candidates and politicians who share these convictions both in word and in deed.  Then, and only then, will we shake free of these conspiracies and restore government to its proper role.

1      Smith, Adam.  The Wealth of Nations. Book I, Chapter X pg. 152. London:  Methuen & Co, 1904. Print.

2      Ted Dehaven.  “Sugar Subsidies Not So Sweet”  The Cato Insitute.  March 17, 2010. Web. October 13, 2010.  <http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/sugar-subsidies-not-so-sweet>

3      “Cartman’s Silly Hate Crime 2000”  South Park.  By Trey Parker & Matt Stone.  Comedy Central. April 12, 2000.

4      “What is Pork Barrel Spending?”  Citizens Against Government Waste. Web October 13, 2010.  <http://www.cagw.org/about-us/frequently-asked-questions.html#What_is_porkbarrel_spending&gt;

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During my most recent adventure in retail, when one particular customer came into the store he regularly thanked me for my efforts on behalf of the pro-life community.  Although I’m uncertain how he knew of my work in Tennessee, I did appreciate his support.  Toward that end, he offered to donate to my political campaign should I ever seek office…but that is an issue for another day.  Now I know that while many of you aren’t as politically active as I, you are as intensely as pro-life.  Well, I’m pleased to announce that you can take a stand to help prevent the wholesale slaughter of the next generation.  On Friday, I received word from our friends in Botetourt that you can help in this noble cause.  The message is as follows:

According to our Attorney General, the state of VA could enforce
higher standards on abortion clinics in Virginia.  Planned Parenthood
says if these standards were enforced, 17 of their 21 abortion clinics
in the state could close.  The Governor has not done this yet.

Can you help me encourage the Governor to do the right thing?  We want
Gov. Bob McDonnell to instruct the state Board of Health to enforce
the regulations on abortion clinics that the Attorney General says is
within the Governor’s power to do.

You can read the Attorney General’s opinion at:
http://www.familyfoundationblog.com/2010/08/23/cuccinelli-virginia-has-legal-authority-to-regulate-abortion-centers/

So please:

1. Contact your GOP Delegates and state senators ask them to tell the
Governor to take a stand on this by instructing the state Board of
Health to enforce the regulations on abortion clinics.  You can find
and contact your state reps at:
http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openform

2. Contact the Governor: http://www.governor.virginia.gov/Contact.cfm

3. Write letters to the editor of you local paper & call in to radio talk shows

4. Pray

5. Ask others to do steps 1-4 – forward them this email.

Remember tell them you want Gov. Bob McDonnell to instruct the state
Board of Health to enforce the regulations on abortion clinics.

Thank you for taking the time to speak up for those who can not make
their voices heard.

Even though we’d like to eliminate all abortion facilities in the Old Dominion, this effort is a key step in the right direction.  Regardless if your Delegate or State Senator is a passionate advocate for the unborn or not, we must contact them about this matter.  Unfortunately, as you may have noticed, most politicians will only act when spurred by their constituents.  So here is your chance to join me as we work to shut down many of the so-called “clinics” in our Commonwealth.  Although one person can make a difference, an entire army of motivated citizens is worth far more.  You must call or write Governor McDonnell and your representatives in Richmond and tell your friends and family to do likewise.  We can save the unborn, but only if you’re willing to help.

Update:  I just sent an email to the Governor.  What are you waiting for?

Further Update:  An online petition is now available too.

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Working for the Ron Paul Presidential Campaign back in the late part of 2007 and early days of 2008 was certainly an interesting experience.  During my time, as I traveled the state of South Carolina, I had the good fortune to meet a Charlestonian radio host by the name of Jack Hunter.  Much like myself, he is a conservative political commentator who deplores the neoconservative hijacking of the Republican Party that strongly took root during George W. Bush’s first administration.  As a side note, unlike Mr. Hunter, I have so far been unable to achieve any sort of long or short-term job prospects as a result of my efforts.  But getting back to the subject at hand, many of his fans know Mr. Hunter by the moniker of the “Southern Avenger”.  In his early days, he even went so far as to appear in a mask just like so many of the professional wrestlers he enjoyed in his younger days.  Although such a practice might seem strange, I have discovered that until a person becomes established in political commentary, he or she often adopts a literal (or not so literal) cloak of anonymity.  His recent work includes pieces in the Charleston City Paper, The American Conservative, Taki Mag, and YouTube.  He is certainly one who tells it like he sees it and is driven to spread his ideology rather than making nice with the establishment.  Along with several other individuals, I credit Jack with helping to spark my creative energies that led me to create the political blog you are reading now.

Recently, the internet has been void of new commentary from the Southern Avenger.  Much to the dismay of his fans, his YouTube site has not been updated in several weeks. Given the growing agitation, I contacted him recently via Facebook to discover the cause of his absence.  He informed me that he was on hiatus and was toiling on a special project.  Once it is concluded, he should be returning to his regular activities.  So Southern Avenger fans, you should rejoice.  Jack Hunter will rise again.

In closing, if you have not heard the Southern Avenger’s viewpoints, I encourage you to check out his vast library of videos found on YouTube.  As with any political commentator, I doubt you will agree with him 100%, but I expect you’ll find something that you like.  Just a couple of clicks should be well worth your time.

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For those of you who spend time on Facebook, you may have noticed an ad with this picture

Image found on VoteiQ ad

asking “Where do you align?” Being the political junkie that I am, I immediately clicked on the link and filled out the survey.  The results were very disappointing.  On several issues, mainly foreign policy, the website claimed that I was a liberal.  As a result, I called the folks at Vote IQ to explain my objections to a few of the questions.  They sent me an email explaining their process, but they didn’t fully address my concerns.  Therefore, I replied with an admittedly rather hastily and passionately written return email which reads as follows:

Thank you for your email.  I suppose I should explain my objections to the quiz.

Unfortunately, on a number of questions, (3,5,7,11) a response labeled as conservative is not really conservative but instead it is neo-conservative response.  These two camps have battling for the heart and soul of the Republican Party for a number of years.  Now one may claim that any policy enacted by George W. Bush’s administration is “conservative” given that he is a Republican, however I believe that to be a rather short sighted approach.  For example, many of his actions, such as No Child Left Behind, the Patriot Act, and the War in Iraq and against terrorism went against traditional conservative values.  Speaking to question #7, although we favor a strong national defense, very few conservatives support a limitless defense budget.  I’m sure we would support eliminating redundancies and outdated equipment especially given the growing national debt.

Turning to a personal level, for quite I have been fighting elements within the Republican Party who promote a vast increase in the size of government at the expense of the states and personal liberty.  Therefore it is rather disheartening to see you define these big government solutions as conservative.  Prior to Bush, recent history agrees.  With the exceptions of neo-conservatives, one only look to the reaction of conservatives during the Clinton era when we were fairly united against entangling foreign wars and nation building in Kosovo.  Back in the 1996 Presidential campaign, Republican Bob Dole spoke of ending the Department of Education.  Now, we have the Tea Parties.  Now some people think that the Tea Party movement sprang up solely in response to President Obama’s administration.  Such a viewpoint is shortsighted, as it is also partially a rejection of neo-conservatives who have vastly increased the power and scope of the national government without regard to the Constitution.

To state simply, conservatives prefer a smaller federal government who defers to state and local government, refrains from economic intervention, and allows for the enforcement of cultural and religious norms.  Although some conservatives (like neo-cons) support a robust foreign policy which involves the U.S. policing the world, such a viewpoint doesn’t represent historical conservatism, but rather adopts many of the same principles as Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat.  Now many liberals [are] against grand foreign entanglements too, but so are Paleoconservatives.

Lastly, to switch subjects, I wanted to comment on question #9.  As I’m not a doctor nor I have I researched the subject, I do not pretend to know the medical value of embryonic stem cell research.  I just oppose the process for ethical reasons.  Whether or not you think the process is valuable is not the key question, but rather do you support using stem cells for medical treatment.  Therefore, I would recommend changing the wording of this question.

Thank you for your time.  I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Several days ago, I received the following response:

Hi Joshua,

Reading over your thoughtful email this morning was a pleasure.
You have identified limits to the use of labels like liberal and conservative.
William Buckley 50 years ago said in UP FROM LIBERALISM that it is difficult to define conservatism and so it is.
The limitations of the labels and the values people assign to those labels is therefore in constant flux and dispute.
That is as it should be.  Were the labels to become fixed they would quickly become out of date and stale.
We took for our definitions the results of the Pew ideological poll of 2005.
It’s an imperfect approach; I don’t know what a perfect approach would look like.
The goal was to give our visitors something to chew on.  If this leads to a good discussion on Vote iQ, that would be terrific.
We’d welcome it.

You all should check out this website, but take their thoughts and labels with a grain of salt.  I believe that conservatives should always fight against the unconstitutional excesses of government both domestically and abroad.  Even though we must give a small portion of our liberty to the government, we cannot be overrun by fear into sacrificing our supposedly protected rights.  As Ben Franklin reminds us, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

It seems that we must continue to reclaim the mantle of true conservatism.  Neocons have had their day.  Even though we are still in the early stages, I’m hopeful that the age of the Tea Parties and the constitutional conservatives has come to stay.

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