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Archive for October, 2011

VC Note:  I received this article yesterday from Karen Kwiatkowski, a Republican candidate for Virginia’s sixth district House of Representatives seat.  She writes concerning last week’s debate in Verona between four of the U.S. Senate candidates.

The Shenandoah Valley Tea Party Patriots debate for U.S. Senate candidates was revealing.  Some of the good:

  • All candidates wanted to reduce the size of government, both budget and power.
  • All candidates believed state’s rights and the constitution were important, preferring decentralized government.
  • Most were willing, as Ronald Reagan once promised, to eliminate the Department of Education and the Department of Energy, and to reduce EPA funding.
  • Most were willing to repeal or alter the Patriot Act; one candidate advocated dissolution of the TSA, to loud applause.

Some answers were bad, reflecting an alarming lack of awareness about how the economy works and how much the federal government spends.

  • When asked if they would scrap the current tax code, all candidates said they wanted lower and smarter taxation.  But they offered revenue neutral proposals, such as Fair tax or Flat Tax, or “making up the difference” in targeted and sin taxes.   No Independent or Conservative candidate was willing to seriously reduce the overall federal haul.
  • Several “conservative” candidates said they would actually vote to raise the federal debt ceiling under the “right” circumstances.
  • To create jobs, candidates advocated incentives, protectionism, import tariffs to force us to buy American, tax code manipulation, and reducing regulations.  None clearly stated that prosperity, liberty and productive entrepreneurialism – real job creation — is sustained only when government remains small, limited, and strictly constitutional.

In terms of ugly, I noted these:

  • When asked about how they would stop executive overreach, and presidential and regulatory lawmaking, all expressed concern, but none had a solution.  As aspirants to the Senate, they should have simply said:  “Executive agencies attempting to “legislate” through rulemaking will be defunded.”
  • When asked about the Occupy Wall Street movement, most candidates expressed distaste and disgust.  None pointed out demonstrators would be better off in D.C., protesting federal agencies, departments and the Federal Reserve for rewarding improper financial activities, and for creating the environment, rules, and incentives in which Wall Street financial institutions exist and operate.

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One hot story currently in the news involves a prisoner exchange between Israel and Palestine.  Given the continual clashes between the two, I suppose a swap of detainees shouldn’t be too surprising.  However, the terms of the deal do seem a little lopsided.  In return for the release of one Israeli soldier, Israel is letting one thousand and twenty-seven Palestinians go free.  1,207 to 1!

Now if you think that those numbers aren’t quite fair, just wait, it gets better (or worse, depending on your perspective).  According to the Washington Post, approximately two hundred and eighty of these Palestinians to be released are imprisoned for killing Israelis.

Of course, it is a matter of national pride when a foreign nation captures one of their soldiers.  It makes a country appear weak when they cannot save one of their own fighters.  But focusing exclusively on this sort of mentality misses the larger picture.

What becomes of the memory of the civilians and soldiers killed by these two hundred and eighty?  Are their deaths meaningless?  Do they not deserve justice?  And, just as important a factor to consider, once released, who will stop these two hundred and eighty people from rearming and killing the people of Israel once more?  We are told that the worst are going to be exiled, but exile is not nearly as safe an option as prison or execution.

If my government, either the United States or Virginia, agreed to free convicted murderers in exchange for the life of one soldier, I believe that most Americans would be outraged and rightly so.  Murderers should not be treated like bargaining chips.

If history serves as any sort of guide, I do not believe that these kinds of deals will resolve tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians. After all, according to an article on Wikipedia, these lopsided exchanges are common.  “Over the last 30 years, Israel has released about 7,000 Palestinian prisoners to secure freedom for 19 Israelis and to retrieve the bodies of eight others.”

This exchange will only embolden the radicals within the Palestinian community and they will continue to kill Israelis.  Think about it logically for a moment.  After all, once enough of their brethren have been imprisoned, they can simply barter for their release by capturing another Israeli soldier.  Rinse and repeat.  The seemingly never-ending cycle of violence continues.

My greatest sympathy rests with the families of the innocent civilians who have been mercilessly slain…and those who will become new victims in the future.

Sounds like a raw deal to me.

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Over the weekend, I received some very disappointing news.  Republican Senate candidate Jamie Radtke has decided to withdraw from the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party’s October 20th Senate debate.  Citing that former Governor George Allen will not be participating, the Radtke campaign announced that they too would be absent despite an earlier commitment to attend.

In my opinion, this decision could prove to be a key misstep for the Radtke campaign for at least three key reasons:

Everyone who will be attending the debate knew well in advance that George Allen would not be there.  Therefore, it is likely that many of the attendees who will be showing up are doing so in the hopes of finding an alternative to Mr. Allen.  With Jamie Radtke absent, she will lose a chance to convince these voters both of her merit and to prove herself as the worthy conservative front-runner for this title.

Every occasion a candidate has to speak is another prospect of raising funds.  According to the Radtke Facebook page, after speaking at an event in Virginia Beach the other day, one gentleman volunteered to donate $1000 to her campaign.  How many audience members in this debate will be similarly inspired by a no-show?  I’ll give you a hint; it rhymes with zero.

Most importantly, this move will likely alienate a portion of Jamie Radtke’s base, namely the tea party.  One of Jamie Radtke’s greatest claims to political fame centers on her involvement with the Richmond Tea Party and the statewide rally.   If her campaign simply dismisses opportunities offered by tea party groups, how many passes can she take before those opportunities are no longer offered?

Furthermore, as an active participant of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party Patriots, I’ve witnessed firsthand the efforts put forth by a multitude of members to bring this debate to life.  To be surprised with this brush-off, especially less than one week before the debate, will certainly generate some kind of blowback.

Readers of this blog will note that I’ve been particularly critical of George Allen for his refusal to attend the October 20th debate.  After all, a debate serves as excellent tool for voters to learn about their choices for candidates.   Unfortunately, it seems that the Radtke campaign disagrees.  How can the Radtke campaign call for a debate featuring all of the Republican candidates while at the same time refusing an opportunity to debate with all but one of the Republican candidates?  As I’m sure you can tell, I’m profoundly disheartened by their decision.

But the show must go on.  Don’t pass up an opportunity to hear from Kevin Chisholm, Tim Donner, E. W. Jackson, and David McCormick at the debate this coming Thursday!  Make sure to show up by 6:30 PM at the Augusta County Government in Verona.

Who knows?  Maybe you’ll find your ideal choice for our next Senator at the event.  Either way, I look forward to seeing you there.

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On Tuesday night, like many Americans, I intently watched a hotly contested political debate.  However, unlike most of the folks, the debate I sat in the audience of didn’t feature presidential hopefuls, but rather the three candidates for Sheriff of Harrisonburg & Rockingham County.  As opposed to the Tea Party forum that was held previously, this event last night was a full-fledged, no holds barred debate.  And let me tell you that the attacks came fast and furious as the night went on.

I’ll start by mentioning the particulars of the debate that I thought went well.

First, the fact that all three candidates showed up was important.  This point might seem like a minor issue, but a debate is a time-honored tradition in American politics that should not be ignored (cough hint to George Allen cough). I congratulate C. M. Hess, Bryan Hutcheson, and Kevin Shifflett for having the courage to stand before the voters (or employers as Mr. Shifflett prefers to call them) and articulate their reasoning for seeking the office of sheriff.

Second, I thought the debate was well run.  Although the periodic announcement of time remaining was a distraction, the time keeping was handled fairly, giving each candidate equal time.  I appreciated that hosts allowed for considerable audience participation (although I’ll delve into a specific negative on this issue shortly.)

Third, in general the audience and candidates were respectful of each other.  There were no wild outbursts or interruptions and although there were differences in levels of applause, clapping greeted each answer.

However, the greatest negative, in my mind, had to revolve around the audience questions.

First, was there any oversight or prescreening on these questions?  Some folks tended to ramble, veer off topic, or jam several questions into one.

Second, it seemed to me that some members of the audience sought to politically assassinate candidates.  Now I understand that most of the people asking questions did so in order to promote the candidate of their choice or to point out the weaknesses of the other candidates, but some of the attacks seemed to me to be over the top, especially the ones directed against Mr. Hess.

As a result of recent news, most citizens are aware of the drinking and driving incident that took place last year involving our current sheriff, Don Farley.  Do I believe that the public needs to be better informed about this issue?  Yes.  If there is proof of misconduct should Sheriff Farley be held accountable?  Of course.  Does the entire Sheriff’s office bear some responsibility for this affair?  Sure.  Well, should we bludgeon Mr. Hess repeatedly over the head with this issue and treat him as if he were drinking and driving himself?  I don’t think so.

I’d compare the event to a three-way boxing match.  Imagine if you will, during the fight several spectators jumping into the ring to pummel one or more of the athletes.  Would you consider such a move fair?  Now, if one of the candidates wished to spend his time tearing into another candidate that is one thing.  I just found the repeated attacks from the audience against all the candidates, but especially against Mr. Hess given their ferocity, quite distasteful.

I think there is something to like in all three of the choices, but each of the candidates seems to have a particular strength.  C.M. Hess gets a leg up with on the issue of experience given his lengthy service with the department.  Although none have run for office prior, Bryan Hutcheson seems to be the most articulate, which can create confidence and clarity among the force and the citizenry.  Given his role in the discipline of the armed forces, one can argue that Kevin Shifflett stands a better chance to reform some of the negative aspects of the office.

If you are wondering who I thought won this debate, given all aspects, I believe that Mr. Hutcheson emerged the winner (or the least unscathed depending on your perspective).  One of his strongest moments emerged when both Mr. Hess and Mr. Shifflett independently stated that he would be supporting Mr. Hutcheson assuming he were not a candidate himself.

Will this trend continue in future debates?  We’ll have to wait and see.

Until then, I encourage you to visit the websites of Hess, Hutcheson, and Shifflett as well as their Facebook pages.  The citizens of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County deserve a great sheriff.  Let’s make sure we pick the best one.

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I don’t know about you, but I usually enjoy participating in polls, surveys, and the like.  Well, last week, I received an email from a graduate student asking for participants in her social psychology project.  Here is the bulk of the message:

My name is Maggie Campbell, and I am a social psychology graduate student at Clark University, working under the direction of Professor Johanna Vollhardt.  I would like to invite you to take part in a survey concerning your beliefs about good and evil.  You will also be asked about your worldviews and your opinions on social issues.  It will take roughly 20 minutes to complete this survey and you will be entered into a raffle for am Amazon.com gift card.  We are giving away (2) $50 gift cards and (2) $25 gift cards. The deadline for participating in this study is October 25th.

This survey is anonymous and none of your answers can be traced back to you.  Please do not put any additional identifying information on your survey.  Please only take part in this survey if you are 18 years of age or older.  Your participation is completely voluntary and you are free to leave any questions unanswered. You may drop out of the survey at any time.  At the completion of the survey, you will be directed to another webpage where you will be asked to enter your email address in order to be entered into a raffle for an Amazon.com gift card.  Your answers on the survey cannot be traced back to the email address you supply.  Please feel free to email the researchers (MaCampbell@clarku.edu or JVollhardt@clarku.edu) with any questions, concerns, or if you are interested in receiving information about the results.

To access the survey, please use the following link: http://ww3.unipark.de/uc/good_and_evil

Now, I’ve already been to the site and run through the survey myself to make certain it is on the level.  After all, I would never recommend that anyone should go to a website which masquerades as something that it is not.

I’m pleased to say that I found the survey to be worthwhile.  It explores a variety of topics such as politics, ethics, and various moral questions.  If you have a bit of time to spare, I encourage you to follow the above link and help out Ms. Campbell’s research.  You might even learn something about yourself.

Assuming I get permission from the creators, I’d like to share their results on this blog once they are concluded.  After all, due to the demands of society, so many people wear a facade of some form or another.  So, what do we truly think about the burning questions of the day when we can answer anonymously and without repercussion?  I’m looking forward to finding out!

So head on over and fill out the survey.

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VC Note:  This article is the latest opinion piece from Karen Kwiatkowski, a Republican candidate for Virginia’s sixth district House of Representatives seat.  As I look forward to the event on October 20th, like Kwiatkowski, I am profoundly disappointed by this trend of incumbents and frontrunners in Virginia to avoid debating.

The Shenandoah Valley Tea Party Patriots are sponsoring a U.S. Senate Candidate’s Debate on Thursday, October 20th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Augusta County Government Center in Verona.  This debate will be attended by four of the eight U.S. Senate candidates seeking to represent Virginia in 2013.  Three Republicans and an Independent candidate have enthusiastically agreed to participate.

The format includes a set of questions prepared in advance for all candidates, and will be moderated by WMRA’s Tom Graham, host of the news program “Virginia Insight.”

This debate is a public opportunity for the people of the 6th District to get to see the candidates in action.  It’s an opportunity to become better informed as to what these candidates offer, how committed they are to truly representing the interests of the voters, and how courageous they are.  Can they stand up for what they believe?  Are they proud of their record as politicians, as businesspeople, and as Virginians?   Do they know what they are talking about?

The debate will include Independent candidate Kevin Chisholm, and Republicans Tim Donner, E.W. Jackson, and Jamie Radtke.

It appears the anointed ones in both of the major parties – George Allen and Tim Kaine — will be missing in action.   It is unfortunate but understandable that the Democrats will not be present on October 20th.   But the George Allen’s refusal to face his conservative opponents is less so.

Perhaps Allen takes conservative support for granted.  Perhaps he is afraid of his articulate and impassioned Republican competitors.  Perhaps he is arrogant.   Perhaps he believes that he doesn’t need the voters in the Central Shenandoah Valley to win the nomination.  Perhaps his advisors have told him to ignore the conservatives and maybe they will fall in line.

I know how difficult it can be to get an honest answer or a commitment out of an incumbent candidate.  There seems to be a very real, and very ugly, sense of entitlement among those who hold or have held public office.  As the constitutional conservative challenger to the 6th District’s ten-term incumbent Bob Goodlatte, I’ve formally invited the incumbent to a series of debates, including one sponsored by the JMU Debate Society on March 13, 2012.  Even though I have repeatedly contacted his office and spoken to his staff, I have received not even a form letter or email in response.

It is no coincidence that nine months before the Virginia GOP Primary, the self-proclaimed, self-anointed, big-government Republican George Allen promotes his candidacy using a shared bumper sticker with similar self-proclaimed, self-anointed, big-government Representative Bob Goodlatte.  The presumption of these statist Republicans in this day and age of real constitutional crisis in this country is simply astounding.

While Allen hasn’t had a chance to spend and borrow as a Senator recently, Goodlatte has apparently never met a budget he couldn’t support, as long as he could earn an atta-boy from the Republican House leadership, or a tradeoff for one of his pet projects.  For his current crusade for a Balanced Budget Amendment, all he had to do was not propose savings, or make hard decisions, but simply vote with Boehner and Cantor for over $2 trillion in additional federal borrowing in July 2011.   When you consider this record, and Goodlatte’s repeated votes to fund Obamacare and Obama’s unconstitutional war in Libya, maybe it’s clear why he wouldn’t want to debate a constitutional conservative on the hard facts.

The larger problem here isn’t that Bob Goodlatte presumes his right to avoid any debate with, or even acknowledgement of, a farmer and military veteran from Shenandoah County who has never before run for public office.  It isn’t that George Allen can’t spend an hour or two in Verona on October 20th to talk about issues with his conservative competition for the Senate.

Here’s the problem.  These big-government Republicans exhibit an attitude of entitlement to public office.  Allen and Goodlatte behave as if they have been somehow anointed to represent us, in an era where only 6% of Americans, according to a recent Rasmussen poll, believe candidates keep their promises once elected, and in an era when the U.S. Congress is held in wide contempt by the rest of the country.   I believe we’re smarter than that.  I know we deserve better than that.

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1983-2011 (Image from SFLA)

A few moments ago, I received word that Kortney Blythe Gordan has died as a result of injuries sustained as a result of a car accident.  Now who was Kortney Gordan?  Well, I ‘m sure she was many things to many people, but to me, she was a pro-life activist.  Since June of 2010, she held the position as the field director for the organization for Students for Life of America.  If you would like more detailed biographical data, you can find on the SFLA website.

To give you a bit of background information, from January to March of 2007, I served as a field agent for Students for Life in the state of Tennessee.  As you can tell, my brief time with that organization took place before Kortney’s involvement.  Fast-forwarding, in the latter half of 2010, Kortney and I shared a few emails and maybe a phone call or two as SFLA prepared for their now annual conference in Knoxville, TN.  As I was in the area already, visiting family outside of Knoxville, I ended up stopping by the conference to say hello.

As you can tell, I wouldn’t really say that I knew Kortney very well, for all we had were those brief encounters.  Nevertheless, it does sadden me to see a fellow pro-life activist fall in the line of duty.  Adding to the tragedy, Kortney’s unborn child also perished in this accident.  Furthermore, Jon Scharfenberger, another SFLA employee and passenger in the car, survived but is in critical condition.

Tonight all I ask of you is to pray for the friends and family of Kortney Blythe Gordan as well as for Jon.  Let us hope that those who care for Kortney receive comfort for their sorrow in these dark hours.  Let us pray that Jon recovers from his wounds.

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