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Posts Tagged ‘Tea Party’

Yesterday, I was invited on WHSV TV-3 to discuss the government shutdown and the tea party movement.  You can find a link to this segment here.

After watching the clip, I must say that I would have loved to discuss some of the issues presented by Dr. Roberts.  Oh well, perhaps next time, eh?

 

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Photo by Charles Dharapak of the Associated Press

As the 2012 Republican Presidential race continues, in a move that would certainly be a monumental surprise a year ago, former Senator Rick Santorum has positioned himself as the leading alternative to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.   It is likely that quite of few readers of this article prefer Rick Santorum.  As Mike Huckabee did in 2008, Santorum polls highly among those describing themselves as conservative, especially Christian conservatives, and has done quite well in the both the South and the Midwest.

Is Rick Santorum a conservative?  There is no doubt that he is socially conservative.  But, does he embrace the ideals of Madison and Jefferson who called for a limited federal government bound to the principles of constitutional restraint?  Does he believe, like Barry Goldwater, that Republicans ought to fight against big government programs, such as FDR’s New Deal, that expanded the role of Washington bureaucrats far beyond what Americans had previously known?  Unfortunately for conservatives, as Rick Santorum stated in the following interview from 2008, the answer is no.

Interestingly, Rick Santorum has picked up considerable support among tea party members as well.  Keep in mind, that the core aim of the tea party, at least in this area, is a return to the Constitution, restraining the federal government to its authorized functions, and opposition to the spiraling debt and massive spending.  As the previous video indicated, Rick Santorum isn’t particularly favorable to this mindset.

So how does Rick Santorum view the tea party?  Since his speech in 2008, has he changed his views and embraced the ideals of limited government conservatism?  Well, in June 2011, he answered that question.

Now that he is officially running for president, Santorum has changed his tune, reaching out to unaware tea party voters even through his policy positions remain relatively unchanged since his time in the U.S. Senate.  Given Rick Santorum’s troubling, although fairly consistent, stance opposing the conservative ideal of a small, fiscally responsible central government, opposing the branch of the Republican Party who advocates these ideals, and opposing the tea party movement, one does have to wonder why any self-described conservative or tea party member would support his candidacy for President.  The only reasonable answer is that they do so solely based upon the idea that he has strong moral and religious principles.  Although then the question becomes, should we support someone for a political office based on his or her religious beliefs alone?

Do we believe a person who labels him or herself a Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, or any multitude of faiths or someone with no faith at all is or ought to be the defining characteristic which makes a person suitable for elected office?  And, if so, like the nation of Iran, should our country be ruled by a theocracy?  Assuming that either the GOP or the government follows down this theocratic path, will we still enjoy the long standing freedom to criticize our leaders or their policies when their principles run counter to our own?  When fascism comes to this country will it, like we have been warned, be wrapped in a flag carrying a cross?

Of course, anyone is free to support any candidate for any reason, however, it is useful to know where that candidate stands.  Rick Santorum, by his own admission, is not friendly to either limited-government conservatism or the tea party movement.  Therefore, it is particularly puzzling why some of these very same people should accept him as one of their own.  Following this line of thought, one must ask if he or she wants a Republican Party, a tea party, or a nation primarily ruled by Rick Santorum or someone who embraces his ideology?  It ought to be a fairly easy question to answer.

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What are the principles of the tea party?  I suppose that question it not particularly easy to answer.  After all, each tea party has its own flavor, each focusing on a multitude of issues they believe is important. Many of the left decry the movement as a bunch of small-minded bigots, while some of the establishment types on the right are quick to marginalize or downplay the importance of these groups as well.

Sure, their principles are varied, but so too are their goals.  Therefore, it is difficult to measure the success or failure of the tea party as each strives to accomplish different tasks including: removing poor leaders, electing “tea party” candidates, advancing legislation, spreading education and awareness, and/or simply providing a forum for political discussion.

But, going back to my original query, a number of weeks ago I was asked that very question about my local tea party.  Although I was tempted to respond off the top of my head with the laundry list of possible answers, I instead pondered the idea and compiled a file of what I thought were the most important tenants.  Here’s the list that I crafted:

The Tea Party supports the ideals of a limited and constitutional government.  Therefore, we believe:

The primary purpose of government is to protect the lives, liberties, and properties of its citizens and those lawfully within their borders.

The federal government has grown well beyond its constitutional limitations as proscribed by the Constitution and reinforced by the 10th Amendment.

The rights of law-abiding citizens to own and use firearms in a responsible manner for recreation, hunting, and protection should be protected.

The current tax code is too lengthy, burdensome, and convoluted and thus ought to be revised or replaced.

The Federal Reserve ought to have no hand or say in the printing or distribution of the money supply and should be abolished.

Education is not a federal issue and ought to be left to the states and localities with primary rights and responsibilities residing with the family.

The federal government has no authority to authorize any national health care plans, meddle with existing plans, nor mandate any person to purchase any insurance or program.

The federal government is crushing current and future generations under the weight of a national debt.  Not only should the government balance its budget, it should greatly curtail spending immediately only to engage in functions proscribed in the Constitution.

We oppose any and all laws and mandates forced upon the citizens by supranational organizations such as the United Nations.

We support greater transparency and openness in all levels and branches of government.

Of course, there are a whole host of other important issues, such as ending abortion or bringing our troops home, but I don’t really see the tea party as dealing with social issues nor do I think there is a majority opinion regarding military policy (unfortunately).  However, I do believe that the above list incorporates most, if not all, of the local tea party principles.

Are you a tea party member yourself?  Or do you view the group with either curiosity or disdain?  Most importantly, what principles would you either add or remove from my list?

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Everyday, it seems that I receive another email announcing some other group or elected official who endorses George Allen’s Senate bid.  More and more people are climbing aboard the Allen bandwagon, but I cannot get on board.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I was a very strong supporter of George Allen back in 2006.  During that election cycle, there was nothing that I wanted more than to work for his re-election effort.  Although I didn’t get a job with him directly, through my employment with the Republican Party of Virginia, I did get to spend a lot of time assisting his campaign.  Like most Republicans and conservatives, I was both shocked and disappointed when he lost to Jim Webb by a narrow margin.

When I heard that George Allen was running again in late 2010/early 2011, my first reaction mirrored the same excitement that I displayed back in 2006.  Here is a conservative with almost universal name recognition who can reclaim one of Virginia’s two Senate seats currently held in Democratic hands.  But then, at the urging of a handful of anti-Allen folks (some of whom have since either joined the Allen campaign or who have endorsed him), I delved into Allen’s record when he served as our Senator from 2000-2006.  What I found would make just about every constitutional conservative cringe.

Like many conservatives, as the Bush presidency dragged on, I became increasingly disheartened with George W. Bush for not only failing to rein in the power of the federal government but massively expanding instead, as well as failing to enact conservative legislation.  But it wasn’t just the President who betrayed the conservative movement.  After all, for a huge chunk of the 107th, 108th, and 109th Congresses, Republicans controlled both the United States House of Representatives and the Senate.  For some unexplainable reason, I focused my frustrations on our President, while maintaining a rather rosy view of our legislators.  Nevertheless, as our Congressional representation endorsed and advocated these plans, they should be held just as culpable.

Let me outline what I feel are a few of George Allen’s most troubling votes while serving as our Senator.

He supported passage of the U.S. Patriot Act in October 2001.  George Allen, along with many other legislators voted to strip away some of our civil liberties in exchange for supposed security.  This act vastly increased the power of the federal government by allowing previously illegal roving wiretaps done without a court order and spying on what books folks check out in libraries.  You might be able to merely excuse his vote due to the widespread panic immediately following 9/11, but the fact that he voted to continue the program in October of 2006 meant that he had no qualms placing this country on the path to a police state.

He supported passage of Aviation and Transportation of Security Act in October 2001.  Are you happy with the TSA handling airport security?  Does the idea of aggressively patting down your grandma and your children please you?  How about revealing body scans?  Again, we can thank George Allen for this situation.

He supported No Child Left Behind in December 2001.  The federal government has no Constitutional authority to be involved in the education process.  Why should bureaucrats and legislators in D.C. have any control of an issue that is, depending on where you stand, the role of the states, localities, and most important, the parents themselves?

He supported the Iraq Conflict Resolution in October 2002.  Senator Allen voted to authorize use of force against the nation of Iraq while forces were already committed in another nation.  This invasion set a dangerous precedent for pre-emptive war.  As we all know now, we attacked a nation who posed no threat to the security of the United States.  This action led to the death of over 4,000 U.S. soldiers, over 100,000 Iraqi civilians, and a cost to the American taxpayer of $1.9 trillion dollars.

He supported Medicare Part D in November 2003.  Senator Allen advocated the expansion of federal government meddling in the health care industry by voting for passage of the Prescription Drug and Medicare Improvement Act.  From where in the Constitution does the federal government derive such authority?

He supported raising the debt ceiling.  Over the span of his six years in office, George Allen voted to raise the debt ceiling not once, not twice, but four times.  How is repeatedly driving this country further into debt the mark of a fiscal conservative?

Lastly, one of the defining marks of a limited government conservative is to actually eliminate unneeded, wasteful, or unconstitutional government.  How many federal programs did George Allen eliminate or try to eliminate while serving as our Senator?  Can you name just one of any substance?  I sorely wish that I could.

It is true that there are some good conservatives that voted the wrong way on one of these issues.  One area of disagreement typically shouldn’t scuttle a politician.  However, the fact that George Allen is on the wrong side of each of them is particularly troubling.  Although some of my Republican friends may think openly questioning George Allen’s record tantamount to treason, shouldn’t we resolve these matters now, before both the primary and the general election?

Last week, I heard that conservatives should support Allen because he has learned from his mistakes and now shares our values.  I haven’t seen sufficient evidence to back up this claim and thus I don’t really believe George Allen 2011 is much different from George Allen 2006.  Need proof?

If you will recall, from my article on May 27th of this year, I wrote each Republican candidate for Senate asking, “therefore, as a Republican candidate seeking to represent us in the United States Senate, the burning question on my mind is, if elected, what federal programs, agencies, or departments will you work to eliminate?”  Although George Allen stated that he planned to streamline a number of agencies and programs, unlike the other candidates he did not mention completely eliminating anything with the exception of Obamacare which is important, but not nearly enough.  Read my article and decide for yourself.

Now some people will point to Tuesday’s news of supposedly 100 tea party individuals who have endorsed George Allen’s campaign.  Although I’m certain a handful of partiers will do so, it is becoming apparent that this claim is a hoax.  From what I’ve read, quite a few of the people listed did not give their blessing and some of the people on the list aren’t even associated with the tea party.  The Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation, of which I am a member, released a statement dispelling the claims of the Allen camp.

Nevertheless, I’d very much like to join with my friends and elected representatives who have endorsed George Allen.  After all, Virginia needs a strong conservative voice who will stand up for the Constitution, our principles, and the people of the Commonwealth; we need a man or woman with strong convictions who will do what is right even if that means sometimes standing against the President and his or her own party.  Given his track record from 2000-2006, like so many people in the tea party movement, I’m just not convinced the George Allen is the suitable person for the job.

Sure, George Allen has more than established his credentials with the officeholders, but that fact alone doesn’t win either the GOP nomination or the general election.  The challenge for both George Allen and his campaign is to prove to the tea parties, conservatives, Republicans, and average Virginians that he is the most principled candidate.  Despite what some outlets are reporting, so far, they have not succeeded in doing so.

I prized my A Team pin when it received back in 2006, but I guess it will continue to gather dust.  How unfortunate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A few moments ago, I received an email from the Radtke campaign.  The bulk of it contains a letter from Jamie Radtke to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada (which was also recently posted on RedState).  Although I get a lot of political email, I decided to share the letter here too given that it is well worth the read.  As you will discover, it expresses a shared frustration regarding the seemingly endless spending coming out of D.C. coupled with a profound disappointment over the irrational understanding and demonization of the Tea Party movement by some politicians, pundits, and activists in the establishment.

Hope you enjoy.

Joshua

An Open Letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from U.S. Senate Candidate Jamie Radtke

Dear Senator Reid:

To quote Ronald Reagan, a man we are really missing this week: “There you go again.”

In the same way that an overwhelming majority of Americans did not want Obamacare, yet it was aggressively forced on them by the single-minded zealotry of the Democrats in Congress, you are again ignoring the will of the American people who, by majorities of 3-to-1, want you to cut spending. And you are so intent on getting your way and ignoring the demands of the electorate that you are forcing a government shutdown to prevent cutting a mere 1.5% of the budget.

And rather than assuming responsibility for falling down on the job, failing to pass a budget last year and doing nothing to solve the fiscal mess you have put us in, you are again (just as with Obamacare) attacking the Tea Party for resisting you.

Honestly, Washington Democrats seem to have changed their motto to: “When all of us fail, blame the Tea Party.”

Well, Senator, the Tea Party was right about Obamacare, and the Tea Party is right about cutting spending with the budget vote, and Americans know it.

After adding $3.64 trillion to the national debt in just over two years, President Barack Obama and the Washington Democrats can claim credit for a $14.2 trillion debt, which equals nearly 100% of U.S. GDP!

You must know that this level of debt-to-GDP is crushing our economy. The degree of cynicism and ideological zealotry required to ignore that threat for political purposes is breathtaking.

So, given the cynical approach you and establishment Washington took on Obamacare and are taking on this budget issue, I can only say thank God for the Tea Party!

The fact is, if there had been no Tea Party, the establishment career politicians (in both parties) would still be talking about whether we should steer a lot to the left or a little to the left as you drive our country off a cliff.

Rest assured that, just as with Obamacare, the Tea Party will not be silenced, and we will not be satisfied until Washington puts an end to the fiscal insanity in Congress, saves the America we’ve always known and restores our liberty.

Mark Twain once said, “Always do right. That will gratify some of the people, and astonish the rest.” The Tea Party seems to have astonished you with our resistance to Obamacare and Washington’s fiscal insanity. But you might as well get used to it, because Tea Party Americans will continue to stand with those doing the right thing until this mess is fixed.

Sincerely,

Jamie Radtke

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Welcome to my first of what will be many podcasts.  Enjoy!

Today’s episode deals with prejudices and ignorance regarding the Tea Party movement.

The Tea Party of Hate?

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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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Earlier this evening, the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County Tea Party had a meeting in preparation for Election Day coming up next week.  Although I don’t have an exact count, it seemed to be pretty well attended.  Most interesting of all was guest speaker State Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26).  He spoke to the crowd on a number of subjects: life in Botetourt County many years ago, the excesses of eminent domain, the corruption of V-DOT, and politicians who are fighting against the growing encroachment of the federal government.

Personally, I believe his presence helps establish an important link between the Tea Parties and those in power.  Although some politicians try to ignore the Tea Party movement and hope it will go away, others like Senator Obenshain and former Governor Allen are  trying to work with the group.  I do not believe that the growing dissatisfaction with “politics as usual” is going to disappear anytime soon.  Some leaders in both the Republican and Democratic parties have sold out the founding principles of this nation and have unconstitutionally usurped power or abandoned their duties.  Therefore, members of the Tea Party argue that it is high time that these leaders were removed from power.

Like the Ron Paul Revolution before it, there are still a few conspiracy theories afoot.  For example, tonight one person suggested that either the Rothschilds or the Bilderbergers dominate the Federal Reserve.  Regardless of the validity or absurdity of such a claim, there are more important issues to consider.  Overall, I believe that a majority of folks are fairly levelheaded and simply want their country and their government back from the bureaucrats and career politicians who now ride roughshod over the Constitution.  Although it may be easy to dismiss these groups, we do so at our peril.  Despite a few bizarre rumors, I believe that these people, not the GOP proper, will have the greatest impact in the coming years, provided they are properly trained, informed, and organized.  They should not be quickly folded into the Republican Party, but rather act as a gadfly, insisting both the left and the right follow traditional American principles.  What they lack in experience, they make up for in enthusiasm and in numbers.

Like the GOP and the Democrats, the Tea Party too will be handing out information at the polls on Tuesday.  I don’t believe that they intend to distribute materials in favor of any particular candidate, but rather a statement of their principles and details regarding their meetings.  Then again, given the surprise appearance of Stuart Bain near the end of the gathering, maybe we will see some of his literature at the polling places too.

My advice to you is, if you are a conservative then you should get involved with your local Tea Party.  They could use your help and we, in turn, need more allies in the fight ahead.  My great hope is that they can help curb the abuses of the liberals and get the GOP back on the straight and narrow path.

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Photo thanks to RonPaul.com

For those of you who haven’t heard the exciting news by now, Dr. No is coming to Richmond!  He will be one of the central speakers at the Greater Richmond Convention Center during the 2010 Virginia Tea Party Convention.  His speech is scheduled for 2:25 PM on Saturday, so if you are planning on attending, make sure not to miss him.  Read more about it at http://www.vateapartyconvention.com/. Other speakers include Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, AG Ken Cuccinelli, and former Senator George Allen.  It is encouraging to see so many Virginia leaders working alongside the Tea Party movement and Representative Paul.  I wish that I could join you all on Saturday, but as I’ll be about four hundred miles away, I guess I’m going to skip this one.  Nevertheless, many bloggers from the Jeffersoniad will be on hand for the event, so I’m sure there will be a lot of great coverage.  Once they have their posts up, I’ll link you to several.

So join the Tea Party crowd in Richmond this Saturday, October 9.  It should be a day to remember.

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