Happy Birthday South Carolina?

Did the states exist before the Constitution and the creation of the federal government?  Well, for most students of history the answer should be a resounding yes.  One would think that there would be no dispute that the original states which won their independence from Great Britain got together and created the federal government, not the other way around, right?

SCWell, apparently that understanding is incorrect, at least according to the Republican Party of South Carolina.  Yesterday, that group wished the State of South Carolina a happy birthday on Facebook.  According to them, the state is now 228 years old.

In case you didn’t know, the SCGOP is wrong; the state of South Carolina is, in fact, much older.  For example, in 1629 King Charles I gave vast tracks of land including present day South Carolina to Robert Health.  The date for the Province of Carolina starts then.  Although both North and South Carolina were at one time one colony, the two began to split in 1719 and were declared two different colonies in 1729.  So is that then the proper date of South Carolina’s birth?  Or is it March 26, 1776 when the colony declared their  independence from Great Britain?  On July 4th of 1776, the state (or independent republic) elected their first president, John Rutledge.  How could South Carolina elect a president if the state wouldn’t even exist for another 12 years?

Nevertheless, it seems that the South Carolina GOP declares it to be May 23, 1788, which was the date it ratified the U.S. Constitution.  Never mind the fact that that date isn’t the birth of the United States either, as the nation was previously governed under the Articles of Confederation (which South Carolina ratified on February 5, 1778).

Although it would be proper for the South Carolina Republican Party to wish South Carolina a happy 228th anniversary of their ratification of the Constitution, to offer a happy birthday instead in this case makes about as much sense as declaring an individual’s wedding date to be their birthday. I suppose if that were true, then I do not legally exist and I am still waiting to be born.

Although several people have pointed out the SCGOP’s error, so far there was been no retraction.Rebutals

Unfortunately, this proclamation by the Republican Party of South Carolina is disturbing because it either demonstrates ignorance of what a birthday is, or, even worse, a fundamental misunderstanding of the history of South Carolina and the spirit and principles on which the United States of America was founded.  Many states, such as South Carolina and the rest of the 13 original colonies, and other formerly independent nations such as Vermont, Texas, and California existed (or were born) before they became part of the United States.

Time to Retire Bob Goodlatte

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Karen Kwiatkwoski

By Karen Kwiatkowski

What if you lived in a part of Virginia dominated by poultry, hay and cow-calf agriculture, and yet your Congressman of nearly a quarter of a century was a city lawyer from Massachusetts, who thought ethanol subsidies were a good idea, spending your tax dollars to raise your feed costs year after year?

What if your Congressional district was home to well over a dozen institutes of higher learning, in a technological age, and your Congressman responded not to their needs, but to West Coast lobbyists to preserve decades old digital copyrights law, filling his campaign chest by stifling innovation ?

What if you, like many of your neighbors, supported first amendment rights for the various groups known as “Tea Parties” and yet your 12-term Congressman who had headed the House Judiciary Committee for nearly four years agreed to consider impeachment hearings for IRS appointees for targeting tea party groups ONLY after the House Freedom Caucus forced him to last week?

What if your Congressman was never a member of the House Freedom Caucus?

What if your long-serving Congressman is close friends and political allies with removed House Speaker John Boehner and successfully primaried whip Eric Cantor?

What if your Congressman was currently offering a “free” bus for Republican delegates from the 6th District to their district Republican convention on May 21st to choose national delegates and key Republican committee seats – but only if they vote for who you tell them to vote for?

What if your Congressman didn’t understand how modern technology works in the cable business, as stated by Techdirt magazine in early May 2016, yet persisted in pushing the wrong kind of regulations for it?

What if your “republican” Congressman voted to fund Obamacare again and again, while simultaneously telling constituents that he opposed it, again and again?

What if your Congressman had advocated for federal government domestic surveillance, beyond Constitutional statutes, and blindly supported the USA Patriot Act and its extension called the USA “Freedom” Act despite constitutional questions on the legality and ethics of this surveillance and data gathering on US citizens?

This list could go on and on, and it will continue to grow, as long as we continue to send Bob Goodlatte back every two years to vote for more government spending, and more government interference in our lives, year after year.

We have a choice on June 14th to send a different kind of Republican to represent us in the House.  Harry Griego, a military veteran, professional pilot, dedicated to the Constitution and limited government, is a change that is long past due for the 6th District.

Let’s retire Bob gracefully, and leave him to his world of expensive suits and “it’s the best we can hope for” explanations to his constituents.

Let’s send a conservative warrior, who believes in limited government, and who will be a part of limiting that government through strict Constitutional votes, and partnering with likeminded Congressmen and women, who truly care about reducing federal debt and overreach.

Vote with me for Harry Griego on June 14th!

 

Karen Kwiatkowski is a farmer, professor, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, member of the executive committee of the Republican Party of Shenandoah County, and immediate past president of the Republican Women of Shenandoah County.  In 2012, she challenged Representative Bob Goodlatte for the Republican nomination for the 6th district of Virginia.

A New Law For Harrisonburg!

img_0646-1Everyday we read stories of the government expanding its power.  Little by little, the government continues to grow.

On Monday, May 16th, the city of Harrisonburg, Virginia, sent out a press release regarding a new ordinance which takes effect on June 1st regarding dog tethers, specifically how long tethers must be and how often they can be used.

As their press release states:

This ordinance, city code section 15-2-1, states that dog owners may not tether an unattended dog for more than one hour continuously or for four hours cumulatively within a 24-hour period. The tether must be at least three times the length of the dog, as measured from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail. The tether should not be too heavy and not exceed 10% of the dog’s body weight and only one dog should be attached to a single tether.

The only dogs that should be tethered are those six months of age or older and if female, a dog that is sterilized or not is estrus.

Some alternatives to tethering a dog are to bring your dog indoors or to install yard fencing, a dog run, or electronic fencing.

This ordinance will be monitored and enforced by the Harrisonburg Police Department’s (HPD) Animal Care and Control Unit.

Now, at first glance, you might think that this new ordinance is great.  After all, I’m sure many of us have a furry friend and would like to think that all dogs in the city are treated well.

However, as the ordinance states, this law gives the Harrisonburg Police Department additional authority of enforcement.  Think about it.  Would you want police officers or your neighbors constantly monitoring your property to see if you are following this law?  Furthermore, do we really want our tax dollars and our police time going toward this effort?  Wouldn’t the community be better served if the police spent their efforts catching criminals who pose a danger to society as opposed to measuring the length and weight of tethers and using stopwatches to determine how long a dog has been tethered?

As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, government exists to secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Unfortunately, since the time of the birth of our nation, this basic lesson of civics has been forgotten as both elected and unelected officials continue to expand the power of the government at all levels.  I assume that the Virginia General Assembly grants localities to create such ordinances, but that doesn’t mean that city and county governments ought to interfere in every private matter.  With these thoughts in mind, could someone please explain how a person who chooses to use a dog tether in the city of Harrisonburg affects the life, liberty, and/or pursuit of happiness of either the dog owner or his neighbor.  And, if it does not, how is this matter any business of the Harrisonburg City Council?

Reading this new ordinance, I was reminded of a quote from the film Jurassic Park.  I assume city council was “…so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”  After all, if we really cared about the wellbeing of dogs within the city, wouldn’t it also be a good idea to mandate what brand of tethers they can use.  While we are at it, why doesn’t the government decide what kind of food dog owners should provide?  Where does the limit of their power end?

Every year local, state, and federal government power grows with new laws and regulations, often for well-intentioned, but misguided reasons.  Although this local tether ordinance might sound good at first glance, ultimately these kinds of decisions are best left with private individuals and not simply surrendered to the whims of five elected officials. The government doesn’t always know what is best for our pets, for our children, for ourselves, for our property, or for our society; thus the best course of action is to keep the government as small and as limited as possible.

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode XXXV)

IMG_0339On Wednesday, May 4th, Andy Schmookler and I appeared on 550 AM, WSVA, for our monthly radio hour.  As the program took place the day after the Indiana primary and the withdrawal of Ted Cruz from the Republican nomination process, and the ongoing contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, it took center stage in our conversation.  In addition, I briefly discussed the Virginia Republican Convention which took place in Harrisonburg several days ago.

In case you missed today’s radio show, you can find it here.

Enjoy!

Attacking From the Shadows

Image from Senator Vogel's Facebook page

Image from Senator Vogel’s Facebook page

Five days ago, I received an email attacking Senator Jill Vogel.  For those who don’t know, Senator Vogel recently announced her intent to seek the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor for Virginia in 2017.

The email declares that Vogel is a “RINO state senator and DC lobbyist”.  It then goes into several issues, such as immigration and gun rights, to explain how Senator Vogel does not share our principles.

Although it raises some good points, there is no indication who sent this email besides the return address, rinoalerts1776@gmail.com.  It fails to include the name of the person who sent it or the organization he or she is associated with, if any.  I sent a message to the sender trying to find out more information, but, five days later, I still haven’t gotten any reply.

Personally, I find such anonymous attacks cowardly and have constantly spoken against them such as I did in the 2010 Harrisonburg City Council elections and the 2013 Republican lieutenant governor nomination.  I believe that if you have something valid to say, say it and have the courage to attach your name to your criticisms, rather than attacking from the shadows.  Sure, doing so may make enemies, but it adds much more authenticity to your arguments.  After all, how do we know you are attacking her because you think she is a bad candidate, or simply because your or your client is secretly seeking the nomination in her place.

Teeter-Totter Syndrome

rvf9ww7m-1435680516By Jeff Smith

“If you wish to view politics with clarity you need to get off the teeter-totter.” ~Old Man Anarchyball

Ever hear of a political syndrome called the teeter-totter? Imagine, a playground teeter-totter. Now mentally title the right-side seat Republican and the left-side seat Democrat. When the right-side seat is up in the air the Republicans are “winning” (debates, arguments, etc.). When the left-side seat is up, the Democrats are “winning.” It goes without saying that when one side is up in the air, the other is automatically down on the ground. In the real world politics doesn’t work like this, but it is amazing how many people believe that it is so.

We are all aware of the dislike the Republican and Democratic Parties and their supporters have for one another. In many, that dislike is closer to a foam-frothing hatred. This hatred between supporters can be so great that it becomes imperative to each side that they win at almost any cost. Each passionately believes that their side must always be in the up position on the teeter-totter or automatically the opposing side is winning. The power of this syndrome is such, that it is speculated that if Joseph Stalin were to come back to life and run for president on the Democratic ticket, and Adolph Hitler were to come back and run on the Republican ticket, one of these two monsters would become the president of the United States. Neither side can tolerate the other side winning and will do almost anything to ensure it, leading to lying and trickery. This is known as the ends justifies the means. That in order to achieve the desired goal, it becomes acceptable to deceive and trick the public. Strangely, it never occurs to the supporters of each side, that what they have come to believe about their own side, may not be entirely true, due to the same lies, trickery and deceptions utilized to obtain their support in the first place.

We are human. We are easily trained to play to win in politics, just as we do in sporting endeavors. The teeter-totter syndrome is part of the state’s training (brainwashing) to accept lies as being truths. A well-brainwashed supporter will defensively deny the truth without realizing it, especially if that truth differs or threatens the normal belief system of that side. The human brain is an amazing and powerful tool. When properly prepared the human brain can consciously fool itself into seeing an altered truth. this naturally hampers the ability to see facts as they really are. Subconsciously, humans are able to realize that they are not processing a real truth, but when combined with hatred and fear (of the opposing party), people can deny themselves the truth, in order to maintain a lie. A good example of this is when voters blame the opposition party for current and ongoing problems, but are unable to see the fault of their own side (denial). Another example is when voters change their position on an issue (war, liberty) based on which party currently holds office. When the parties change which holds office, so changes the supporters positions. In discussing this behavior with the supporters of both sides, they deny any change in their opinions, even though it is plainly obvious to the casual observer.

The teeter-totter syndrome is directly responsible for the tyranny and corruption Americans suffer from. Neither side being able to see and admit that their side is equally part of the problem, not the solution. Because the majority of the people are stuck in this teeter-totter syndrome the Democratic and Republican Parities hold complete economic and individual control over our lives, all the while, the syndrome convinces the individual to believe that they are actually free. The two monopoly mega-parties intentionally feed and fuel the teeter-totter hatred in order to maintain control. In public the two parties passionately attack one another, but in private they are friends, co-partners in the biggest slave trade history has ever witnessed.

The people need to see the truth. That there is no teeter-totter. It is just an illusion of the mind, a tool for the state. If the people could cease hating the other party they would be able to see the world through clear eyes, thus being able to make better choices. Unfortunately, this is not a realistic solution. Hate and fear are natural human traits. They cannot be regulated. The only real solution is to remove the ability of people to have control over other people’s lives. If they can’t see clearly they have no business involving themselves in the solutions others need. This removal of control over others must also include the state, as it is made up of these same people who cannot “see clearly.” Until that day arrives, the government will continue instigating hate and fear so that it can retain control, all-the-while, blaming the other party not currently in office.

Jeff Smith is a political activist who has been involved in libertarian politics since 1975.  He sometimes uses the moniker Old Man Anarchyball.  This piece has been reposted with his permission.

[Image from theconversation.com]

Obenshain v. Dunbar

In just a handful of days Republicans across the state will gather in Harrisonburg, my hometown, for their state convention. There they will be voting for a new committeewoman. The two choices for this position are Suzanne Obenshain and Cynthia Dunbar. Having had the opportunity to get to know both women, I’d like to offer a few thoughts.

The Obenshains in Richmond in late 2012

The Obenshains in Richmond in late 2012

I’ve known Suzanne Obenshain for well over a decade. While I was growing up in Harrisonburg we both attended the same church and were both quite active in local Republican Party politics. She’s a person whose opinion I’ve valued. For example, when in 2013 I started to consider running for local office in the 2014 elections, speaking to Suzanne Obenshain was of prime importance. To highlight some of my activism, I was a bus captain for the Obenshain for Attorney General campaign at the 2013 Virginia Republican convention and later the campaign asked me to serve as her chauffeur, though I only ended up driving her once and it was just around Harrisonburg.

My last meaningful conversation with Suzanne Obenshain was a little over two years ago. However, as I’ve written in previous pieces, after about 19 years of activism I was kicked out of the Harrisonburg GOP in February 2014. Given that I had been a loyal supporter and volunteer for the Obenshains since Senator Obenshain first declared his intent to run for office in late 2002 or early 2003, the first person I called looking for assistance with this matter was Suzanne Obenshain. In the moment I needed her help the most she refused to provide aid. During the call she asked me if I knew what a “good Republican” was. I explained that I thought it was someone who held fast to principle and advocated the values found in the Virginia Republican Creed. Instead, Ms. Obenshain explained that being a good Republican had nothing to do with ideology, but instead a good Republican was a person who supported all the Republican candidates. I was shocked when I heard these words, but perhaps I shouldn’t have been.

After all, after the 2012 Republican National Convention, which screwed over the Ron Paul delegates, I presented a resolution to the local Harrisonburg GOP from the Virginia Republican Liberty Caucus that condemned both John Boehner and Reince Priebus for their role in this matter. However, it was Suzanne Obenshain herself who scuttled any attempt to either discuss it or bring it to a vote.

Also, during the 2012 Harrisonburg City Council elections, much to my disappointment I discovered that one of the Republican candidates promoted a lot of big government policies, more so than even the Democratic candidates. Given this realization, there was no way I could bring myself to either support or vote for this person. After the election, when all three Republican candidates went down in defeat, I spoke with Suzanne Obenshain, as she was the person who recruited our local candidates. I asked why the local GOP would nominate a person who couldn’t be called a conservative by any stretch of the imagination. She responded by telling me that no one else wanted to run. However, wouldn’t it have been better to have one fewer nominee than running a full slate if that meant rallying behind someone who was antithetical to our principles? Does being a Republican actually mean anything?

Getting back to 2014, although no longer a member of my local committee, I still requested to attend the state convention. Both the chairman and Ms. Obenshain told me that I could go as a voting delegate. However, I was dismayed to discover that the call for the convention included a strict loyalty oath to the party and her candidates, declaring that all delegates from Harrisonburg would support all of the Republican candidates that year. Neither knowing who they were nor whether or not they would uphold the principles of the RPV Creed I felt could not honorably sign such a document. I asked who decided to include this oath in the call, which was considerably more stringent than other local calls, such as the one from Waynesboro, and was told that it was Suzanne Obenshain who did so.

One of my relatives asked Suzanne Obenshain why the Republicans had treated me poorly and I was told that she responded saying that the Republicans were afraid of me, in part because I was unwilling to compromise on most principles and because I openly criticized my representative, Bob Goodlatte when he voted against what I always assumed were supposedly Republican values.

After the convention I spoke to a local friend who was also a Shak Hill supporter and convention delegate. At the time Shak Hill was running as the more conservative option for Senate. However, my friend told me that several Ed Gillespie supporters, including Suzanne Obenshain, attempted to intimidate him on the voting floor into supporting their preferred candidate.

I still ran for local office but I did so as an independent since I wasn’t a member of the Republican Party any longer; I felt someone needed to represent my principles. I ran on a platform of limiting the power and scope of the city government and to the best of my knowledge, I was the only candidate who mentioned the Creed of the Republican Party of Virginia or sought to advance the values which it advocated. Party labels aside you’d think that limited government Republicans would be happy that at least one of the candidates actually advocated limiting the government. Nevertheless, several of my friends told me that Suzanne Obenshain was furious with me because I had the audacity to run for office against the Republican nominees. When I went door-to-door for my campaign I stopped by the houses of several friends who had signs for the Republican council candidates in their yard. When I asked them about it, I was told that they had not requested the signs but instead Suzanne Obenshain placed them in their yards simply because they were members of the Harrisonburg Republican committee. By comparison, due in part to my principles, many Libertarians supported my campaign either through time or money as did some disaffected local Republicans.

Photo of Cynthia Dunbar with Suzanne Curran and Mark Berg. Image from the Dunbar campaign.

Photo of Cynthia Dunbar with Suzanne Curran and Mark Berg. Image from the Dunbar campaign.

On the other hand, I first spoke to Cynthia Dunbar on New Years Eve of 2015. She called me while I was picking up a few pizzas for a party that was taking place that evening. Although I wasn’t a member of the Republican Party and had no plans of rejoining, we spoke about her candidacy, the GOP, and political principles. I met her in person on Saturday at a meeting of the Shenandoah Valley Constitutional Conservatives in Mt. Jackson.

Over the last several months, I’ve had the chance to listen to Cynthia Dunbar on a handful of occasions.   She seems to be a person guided by conviction that promises to stand up to the party bosses and elected officials who betray their principles and/or the grassroots activists who elected them in the first place. In addition, she’s picked up endorsements from a number of good Virginia political activists and elected officials I respect including: Delegate Brenda Pogge, Delegate Bob Marshall, Senator Dick Black, Suzanne Curran, Anne Fitzgerald, Steven Thomas, and Ed Yensho. However, the most exciting endorsement comes from my former boss, the godfather of the modern liberty movement, Dr. Ron Paul.

Some of her detractors have attacked Dunbar for the fact that she has lived in Virginia for only a handful of years. But don’t we all have to come from somewhere? One of my Republican opponents for city council used this issue against the Democrats and the Libertarian candidate because they lived within the city limits for only several years. Although I am a native of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, that was as a result of the choices my parents made, not my own. Honestly, what should matter more, political principles and character or something transient like geography? I’d like to think this is an easy question and we should not treat people as outcasts simply because their roots are not as deep as our own.

Let me offer you a few fun facts. Since 2009, only one Republican candidate has beaten a Democratic candidate in Harrisonburg. If Senator Mark Obenshain had won our hometown in 2013, he would be Virginia’s attorney general. Here’s another fact. In 1995, at the age of 15, I was the youngest Republican activist in Harrisonburg. In January of 2013, at the age of 32, I was still the youngest person who regularly attended monthly meetings of the Harrisonburg Republican Party.

The facts and experiences I’ve mentioned might leave you with several important questions. Why don’t Republicans win Harrisonburg? Although I don’t know their current membership, when I was a part of the party why did the Harrisonburg GOP fail to recruit newer, younger members? Well, when you have leaders of a political party which values loyalty to the party over principle, what do you think happens? When you have a local unit, which forces its members to sign onerous loyalty oaths to the party and her candidates, it is possible that the members begin to build up resentment? When you have a political party that is more concerned with pleasing elected officials and party bosses at the expense of the volunteer grassroots activists, why in the world would anyone choose to join such a group? When a local party recruits candidates who are indistinguishable from the Democrats, why wouldn’t voters select the genuine article? When the local leaders of the Republican Party treat conservatives and libertarians who are outside of the party as hostile enemies, should there be any wonder why Republicans no longer win Harrisonburg and the local unit is so dreadfully small and ineffective? Lastly, I have to ask you, are these kinds of values ones that Virginia Republicans want at the national level?

It should be obvious that this election for Republican National Committeewoman is one of important contrasts. Like my hero Ron Paul, if I were a delegate to the Virginia Republican Convention, given my experiences and knowledge of the two candidates, I would have no hesitation in casting my vote for Cynthia Dunbar.

Why Not Vote Libertarian?

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Joshua Huffman with 2012 Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson at the 2016 Virginia Libertarian Convention

VC Note:  On April 2nd, the Daily News Record (my local paper) published an opinion piece from Mr. Allen Clague III entitled “Be Careful in Voting Libertarian”.  In the article, Mr. Clague attempts to dissuade citizens from voting for Libertarian candidates by using some flimsy or just plain wrong reasons, such as the party and her candidates are secretly well funded by billionaires and their shadow groups.  After reading it, I felt it required a response.  Here is what I wrote which appeared in the April 16th edition of the paper.  The paper created the title for this piece.

 

After reading Mr. Allen Clague III’s open forum piece from April 2nd called “Be Careful in Voting Libertarian”, I thought it needed both some factual clarifications and a rebuttal.

First, I do not know of many people who would call Ted Cruz “a libertarian cloaked as a Republican.”  For example, his desire to see “if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out” presumably due to the use of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, coupled with his support for religious profiling of Muslims in America and his calls for the government to force Apple to unlock their iPhone are all decidedly unlibertarian positions.  And these are just a few examples.

Furthermore, as Republican Representative Justin Amash (MI-3) wrote in his endorsement of Ted Cruz, “Ted is not a libertarian and doesn’t claim to be.”  Therefore, I believe it is an error to associate Ted Cruz as a standard-bearer or even a foot soldier in the libertarian movement.

Second, I’ve never heard of a group called Citizens for Prosperity.  There was a group called Citizens for a Sound Economy, but it split in 2004 to create Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks. Although some people claim that Americans for Prosperity is a front for the Libertarian Party, in my experiences I have never seen them promote a single Libertarian candidate or official but have witnessed them helping Republican candidates and officeholders.

Now, to be fair to Mr. Clague, perhaps he didn’t write the headline associated with his piece.  After all, I have found that when I write for the Daily News Record my titles often change.   However, I agree that one should always be careful in voting, regardless of which candidate or political party you choose to support.  Unfortunately some voters don’t take the time to learn about their choices, instead blindly assuming that a party’s candidate follows a certain set of principles, which often is untrue.

Sure, there are some people who like to throw out the names of political bogeymen.  If you are on the left, the Koch brothers are evil masterminds bent on world control or if you are on the right, it is George Soros pulling the puppet strings of others.   Although it makes for an interesting story, each side assumes that these men wield an unbelievable amount of power and control over our political process.  It is easy to say that we have no say in what happens.  However, if you don’t like the way your city or county government is run then it is up to each of us to make a change.  Do you think your state or federal government representatives are corrupt?  Then mount a challenge to vote them out of office.  It’s really that simple.  If that means voting for a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or independent candidate, have at it.  Don’t toe a party line again and again simply because you’ve always voted that way.

What is Libertarianism if it isn’t a scheme to make the Koch brothers and their allies rich?  Well, unlike some other political philosophies, my understanding is that libertarianism advocates a very limited government, one that protects life, liberty, and property, while doing little else.  I do not believe that one should use the power of the government to take from our neighbors to enrich either our friends or ourselves.

Friends, don’t be scared away from voting for the best person in each election regardless of political affiliation.  Despite what some people may say, sometimes voting for Libertarians is the best option.  It certainly beats the lesser of two evils!  And, if you think that some secretive, well-funded group controls the Libertarian Party, I have some disappointing news for you.  After all, if they were, don’t you think we would have seen some extremely well funded Libertarian campaigns by now?  I’ve been involved in politics since I was a student at Harrisonburg High School in the mid to late 90s.  As soon as I get my first check from the Koch brothers the readers of the DNR will be the first to know!

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode XXXIV)

IMG_0334On Wednesday, April 6th, Andy Schmookler and I returned to the airwaves of 550 AM, WSVA to talk about politics.  The Democratic and Republican presidential primaries continues to dominate discussion, especially with Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders winning Wisconsin over their party’s current front-runners.

If you missed the show, you can listen to it here.

The Reputation of Bloggers

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Pete Snyder

When you read a piece written on one of the multitude of blogs out there, do you ever stop to think about the author?  For example, do you ask what motivated him or her to craft the article and what agenda he or she is trying to advance?  Yes, when it comes to politics there are conservative blogs, liberal blogs, blogs that promote a grassroots or anti-establishment point of view, and those who seek to prop up certain elected politicians.

Last weekend I took a good bit of time to ponder this thought.  Several months ago a candidate contacted me as he was considering hiring me for his campaign.  After several abortive attempts I finally I spoke with his campaign manager just recently.  Although I was told that they didn’t have the funds to make an offer at this time, I was informed that I could help them out by writing pieces on this website critical of their opponent.  It was hinted that doing so might improve my chances of future employment.  However, the more I thought about the matter, the more it disturbed me.

One of my primary motivations in writing The Virginia Conservative is to report on political events around the state (especially in the Shenandoah Valley), offer my thoughts about politicians, their staffers, and legislation, and do my small part to promote political dialogue as well as the ideals of liberty and limited government.  The pieces I’ve written here I do so because I think they are important, because there is some matter that ought to be brought to public attention.  Have my opinions shifted and changed with time and new information?  Of course!  If you scroll back, you can find writings from 2008.  Who can honestly say that he or she has remained completely the same in an eight-year period?  However, no one has ever paid me to write anything that you find on this website and all thoughts presented (unless otherwise indicated) are my own at the time that they were written.

In response to this recent suggestion from the campaign, I included this statement in the message I wrote the candidate:

…I was asked to write pieces on my website attacking one of your opponents. If I were to do so, I was told it could improve my chances of getting hired when money became available.  Similarly the Stimpson campaign tried to funnel anonymous attack pieces through me in 2013, but I refused to do so.  Although I have made quite a few enemies these last few years, I always try to write what is true and right, not simply what benefits my point of view.  Given my limited experiences with [your opponent] in 2011, I believe it would be a terrible mistake for the voters of [your] district to choose him and I may write a piece to that effect on The Virginia Conservative.  Nevertheless, I steadfastly refuse to become a political hack, degrading either my honor or my work to do the behind-the-scenes hatchet attacks of others…

I was later informed that this situation arose out of a misunderstanding.  But it did get me thinking.  Is this idea foreign to many political blogs?  Are they merely fronts for various organizations, candidates, and politicians, willing to write whatever makes their clients look good (or calls their enemies into question)?

Let me expand on what I wrote concerning the Stimpson campaign.  Back in 2013 the Susan Stimpson campaign for lieutenant governor contacted me prior to the Virginia Republican Convention.  One of her staffers wanted me to write a piece critical of both Jeannemarie Davis and Pete Snyder, two of Stimpson’s opponents that year.  As such, they provided me with information and quotes from a gathering elsewhere in the state.  I did not personally attend this event, so the only material I had to work from was the information provided from the Stimpson campaign.  First of all, I wasn’t all that enthusiastic to attack either Davis or Snyder.  Both Jeannemarie Davis and Pete Snyder had taken time out of their campaign schedule to meet with me personally.  Although the Stimpson campaign repeatedly suggested a similar face-to-face meeting, they never made good on this promise.  However, in the interest of promoting dialogue, I agreed to write up a piece using the material that they sent me provided that I could mention that I had received this information from the Stimpson campaign.  However, they didn’t want their opponents to know that their campaign was behind it and so declined.  As a result, I decided not to run the story.

So are bloggers seen as mere mercenaries for hire these days?  Given some of the seemingly baseless attacks from one of the larger Virginia blogs against a certain legislator, I sometimes have to wonder.  Much like super PACs, do politicians and groups funnel money to bloggers to anonymously attack their foes?  Has that become our reputation?  If so, I would be ashamed to call myself a blogger. I would not want to associate with any writer or campaign that thinks that this kind of behavior is okay.  Yes, I do have an agenda to promote dialogue and liberty, but I feel if others discovered that I were writing thinly veiled behind the scenes attacks (paid or even unpaid), it would completely obliterate my credibility and any chance of even an attempt at objectivity.

Perhaps I am wrong.  After all, donations are few and far between and the costs of running The Virginia Conservative are higher than the monetary gains.  Nevertheless, I hope my readers can rest assured that when they read an article on this site, it isn’t written because I am getting paid to promote a certain cause or candidate. I do it because I’m one of those people who believe in what they say and think that honor is worth more that the lure of a possible job.  Revisiting 2013 once more, I’d like to believe that Ms. Davis and Mr. Snyder approached me because they considered me to be fair and objective, focusing on the issues we have in common, and not simply as someone who can be bought off to support a certain point of view.

So, what do you see as the reputation of bloggers?