The First Gillespie Mailer

Scan 39Today, I received my first mailer for the 2014 Senate Race.  As the title of this article indicates, it came from the Ed Gillespie campaign.

Looking at it objectively, it is a fairly good introduction to the candidate.  It features large color photographs of Mr. Gillespie and his family, as well as smaller ones featuring his immigrant heritage and a black and white photo tying Senator Mark Warner to President Barack Obama.  Inside, it discusses Ed Gillespie’s work ethic and his previous political experience.

However, I have to wonder who is the mailer’s target audience.  Presumably it is Republican activists, those individuals who attended previous Republican conventions and those who would be likely to do so again.  After all, a mailer that would be sent to all registered voters would likely be a waste of resources this far out from the general election.  And, with that thought in mind, the mailer falls short.

For starters, it is important to note that Mr. Gillespie is not the Republican nominee, but rather one of four candidates seeking the office.  However, the mailer seems to presuppose that the fight is Gillespie against Warner, making absolutely no mention of the Virginia Republican Convention where the decision over the nominee will be made.  If you support Gillespie as a result of this mailer, will you know that you have to sign up to be a delegate to the state convention in Roanoke?

Second, the mailer offers scant information where Gillespie actually stands on the issues.  He speaks against Obamacare, which is no doubt important, but rather than ending the constitutionally questionable program, he uses the troubling language of “repeal and replace” thus seeming to suggest that the federal government ought to play a considerable role in healthcare.  This phrasing is disturbingly reminiscent of the 2012 Mitt Romney campaign, in which Mr. Gillespie was a senior advisor.  Other ideas are listed such as: balancing the budget, cutting wasteful spending, and defending personal liberties.  I realize you can only include so much on a mailer and I don’t fault them for not going into details here, but the fact that the Gillespie campaign website is also devoid of this critical information is a bit worrisome.

Yes, a mailer at this stage of the election shows that the Gillespie campaign has money and is not afraid to use it; these are two important facts Republican delegates ought to keep in mind at the convention.  But, as I asked several weeks ago, where does Ed Gillespie stand on the issues, especially those that matter most to me?  I still do not know.

The Schmookler & Huffman Show (Episode VIII)

On Wednesday, the radio show aired its eighth episode.  I was happy to have Andy Schmookler back with me as he was away last month.

This month’s topics included the current troubles of the Republican Party and the possible law to take effect in Arizona.  It also featured a considerable number of callers.

In case you missed it, you can listen to the entire program on 550 AM WSVA’s website.  I would have shared this post earlier, but due to a technical glitch, the podcast was not available until today.  Enjoy!

Did McCain Teach the GOP Anything?

Picture from the website of Senator John McCain

On Monday, I wrote on the Facebook page of a site called Conservative Daily, “Everyday I’m glad that John McCain was not elected president.”  As I write these words, that comment has garnered 911 likes, far more than anything else I’ve said on Facebook to date.

Although still a Republican Senator, John McCain has fallen out of favor with a considerable segment of the conservative movement.  Many people look at some of his recent statements and votes and have come to the realization that he doesn’t share their political values.

However, I’d like to point out that the John McCain of 2014 isn’t that far removed philosophically from the John McCain that was the Republican presidential nominee in 2008.  Then, as now, he supported amnesty, bailouts, the Patriot Act, increased foreign aid, and expanded conflict in the Middle East.  John McCain hasn’t changed, but rather the perception many people have about him has.

Yes, nominating John McCain in 2008 was a mistake.  In much the same way, one could argue that nominating Mitt Romney in 2012 was also an error.  However, it will likely be a few more years until a sizable chunk of the conservative electorate will actually admit as much.

Now, some Republican pundits agree about McCain, but they hold this view simply because he did not win.  As such, these people will be quite willing to nominate candidates like McCain if he or she has a greater chance of winning, completely ignoring his constitutionally questionable principles.

You do have to wonder.  Will the GOP continue to run “moderate” candidates like McCain and then scratch their collective heads in confusion as the Democratic Party claims yet another victory?  Can they not understand that voters don’t want to hold their noses in order to cast their votes?  Don’t they realize that citizens need a candidate that they can actually like and support rather than simply choosing between “the lesser of two evils”?

If I had to place a bet, I’d wager that the Republican Party will fail this lesson yet again in the 2014 Virginia U.S. Senate race.  Nationally the trend will continue in the 2016 presidential contest; they will nominate establishment candidates, in the mold of John McCain, who are completely unable to resonate with the voters.

To quote the book of Proverbs, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.” Proverbs 26:11, NLT.

I’m happy to discover that so many people agree that John McCain was a mistake.  But did the McCain experience teach the GOP anything?  Or is he simply a sign of the future (or lack thereof) of the Republican Party?

Medicaid Expansion, A Done Deal?

Yesterday while in Washington, I received word from a reliable source that Medicaid expansion will be coming to Virginia.  There will be a number of token speeches and meaningless votes against the plan, but at the end of the day the majority of legislators will not halt it.  I’ve been told that the Republican controlled House of Delegates could kill such a proposal, but the leadership is unwilling to do so.  There will be a good show, but it will only be an act, a performance to placate conservative voters back home while secretly selling them out.

It seems that former lieutenant governor candidate Susan Stimpson got the memo as well.  She sent out an email on the same subject.  As Ms. Stimpson wrote, “Today the GOP leadership in the House of Delegates is holding a staged vote against Medicaid/ObamaCare Expansion.  It’s a cynical attempt to cast a vote that can be used for political cover in 2015 primary contests.”.  She presented one solution to the problem saying, “If Republican leaders were serious about stopping Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, they would be pushing to amend current law to prevent the Governor from making an end run around the legislature and expanding Medicaid on his own.”

Friends, Virginians were sold out last year with the massive transportation tax hike.  And now it seems that we are being deceived once more by our legislators in Richmond.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be represented by anyone who abrogates his or her duty and sells out to the powers that be in the federal government.  Therefore, I encourage you to discover where your delegate and state senator really stands on the issue of medicaid expansion and a whole host of other topics.  If the rhetoric doesn’t match action, then we must do what we can to make sure this mistake is corrected.

A Thank You Note to Senator Kaine

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I’ll admit that I don’t have much in common politically with Senator Kaine.  On so many issues, he and I are diametrically opposed.  Nevertheless, I feel it proper to take a moment today to thank Senator Kaine and his staff for their help.

A little over a week ago, my church (RISE) asked me to join them in their mission trip to Guatemala in the early part of next month.  Although honored by the suggestion, I faced several important hurdles, one of which was that my passport expired about four years ago.  Normally, it would be a simple process of getting my passport renewed; it takes about six weeks.  However, in this case I didn’t have six weeks to wait.

I contacted both of my Senators, Warner and Kaine, in the hope that someone would be able to help me.  In response, Senator Kaine’s office set up an appointment for me today at the Washington D.C. passport office as well as sending the necessary paperwork ahead.

Although the trip took several hours and had a few unexpected surprises, such as the parking lots at both the Vienna and Falls Church Metro stops being completely full and thus required me to actually drive into D.C., the overall process was relatively quick and painless; I’d estimate that the time inside took only about ten minutes.  Unfortunately, they could not give me my passport today due to a glitch in their machines and required me to have it Fed Exed to me in the coming days.  I wish that I didn’t have to pay even more, but what can you do?  Nevertheless, I am told that I should have my shiny new passport by early to mid next week.

Therefore, as stated at the beginning, I want to take a break from politics to thank Senator Kaine and his employees for their assistance.  Please know that it was greatly appreciated.

Ron Paul Inc?

As an activist in the Ron Paul movement, I have been concerned about its direction (or lack thereof) for the last several years.  I saw considerable problems in the 2012 Ron Paul campaign; there was a underwhelming deficiency of leadership and clear focus which was a driving reason that the campaign was unable to perform well.  For example, in the Virginia primary, Ron Paul was in no danger of winning the state, despite the fact that there were only two candidates on the ballot, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney.

Earlier this week, Dennis Fusaro, the National Field Coordinator for the 2008 Ron Paul campaign spoke on this concern on the Robert Wenzel Show.  During the 2008 campaign, I served as the Grassroots Coordinator for the state of South Carolina.  In the interests of full disclosure, I acquired my position shortly after meeting with Mr. Fusaro in 2007.  Here’s what he had to say:

Like Mr. Fusaro, these days when I ponder the future of liberty and the Ron Paul movement sometimes all I can think about is a poster that I saw many years ago:

Image from
Image from

Late last year, I wrote a piece questioning Campaign for Liberty, a group many see as the heir to the Ron Paul campaigns.  As I typed, although the group is quite prolific at asking for money, I have not seen any tangible results from them in quite a while; in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia it has been years.

These thoughts create all sorts of pressing questions.  Has the Ron Paul movement become nothing more than a game for money and power?  If so, how can we reclaim it?

How can you tell who honestly believes the principles we supposedly hold?  Is corruption a natural byproduct in the quest for power?

Who actually promotes liberty these days?

Where’s The Profit In Liberty?

IMG_2490On Saturday, Representative Justin Amash offered a number of important thoughts at the International Students for Liberty Conference.  One that should not be overlooked is the inverse relationship between money and the fight for liberty.

As Amash pointed out, many legislators receive massive donations from PACs and special interest groups.  These groups do so in order to lobby the government for subsidies, special tax breaks, and other favors.  After all, companies have powerful incentives to enhance their wealth at the expense of the American people.  And given that the benefits are so concentrated and the costs so widely dispersed, the public doesn’t even notice.

However, for principled legislators who oppose this corporate welfare (or crony capitalism if you prefer), political life is much harder.  How many PACs exist to serve the public interest?  After all, it is much harder to raise funds and to lobby when the end result does not lead to an appreciable increase in one’s own personal wealth.

Liberty candidates and causes routinely face this significant hurdle and thus this situation helps explain why government at all levels continues to grow.  Although it is great to have leaders like Amash, it also helps explain why he and people like him are very much in the minority.

The same holds true for organizations.  As an example, for the last year or so I have been attempting to create an organization to educate, motivate, and activate students at college campuses across Virginia.  However, every time the issue is addressed, the question of funding remains unresolved.  If anyone out there reading this post has any suggestions, please let me know.

Will the dream of increased liberty remain unfulfilled?  Will liberty candidates be able to compete with the establishment?  Will those who toil for the cause be required to do so without proper funding?  Where’s the profit in liberty?

ISFLC 2014 & Republican Women

Saturday was a busy day politically.  In the morning, U.S. Senate candidate Shak Hill and House of Representatives candidate Paul Bevington spoke to the Republican Women of Shenandoah County.  As mentioned in a previous post, this gathering took place at the Denny’s in Mount Jackson.  I traveled there alongside fellow liberty activist Lisa McCumsey.

Shak Hill reading from the Affordable Care Act bill.  (Note the stack of paper).
Shak Hill reading from the Affordable Care Act bill. (Note the stack of paper)
Paul Bevington in Mt. Jackson
Paul Bevington in Mt. Jackson











Afterward, I spent the remainder of the day at the International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C.  Although I had hoped to attend for all three days of the event, as was done last year, both weather and finances kept me from doing so.  I was disappointed to miss the taping of the Stossel Show which took place on Friday night.

Shortly after arriving, I ran across Jack Hunter giving an interview in the media lounge.


Next, came a panel discussion with Representatives Justin Amash and Thomas Massie.  Unfortunately, due to weather, Massie was unable to attend and thus joining Amash on stage was Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks and Jeff Frazee of Young Americans for Liberty.


Although James Madison University has sent a contingent of students in previous years, to the best of my knowledge there were no JMU students present this year, nor anyone else from the Harrisonburg area.  Nevertheless, it was great to run into two former members of Madison Liberty, Reid Walker (not pictured) and Luke Wachob, now working for the Center for Competitive Politics.


It was difficult to gauge attendance at ISFLC this year.  Although the conference occupied a greater portion of the hotel and more organizations were participating, actual student numbers were unavailable by the time I left on Saturday evening.  Given the Facebook chatter beforehand, it was likely that a good number of students had to unexpectedly cancel at the last minute (again due to snow).  All in all, it seemed like another great event, one that I would highly recommend for college students to attend if given the opportunity.

On a more personal note, as I made my way back to the Metro station, I ended up taking a wrong turn and became lost.  I was grateful that a young woman pointed me in the right direction.  Once she realized that I still wasn’t quite sure where I was going, she kept popping up every block or two, making sure I found my destination successfully.  I regret to say that I did not get her name, but her kindness was very much appreciated.

Yes, I believe it is fair to say that Saturday was quite an interesting day!

Valentine’s Musings

IMG_2042In previous years my single friends often refer to Valentine’s Day as “Singleness Awareness Day”, often seemingly bitter about the fact that they do not have a person with whom to share the day.  I certainly understand the frustration, as 2014 will mark another year out of many that I am alone.

Yes, it is easy to look at couples with a certain amount of jealousy.  However, this year my perspective has shifted.  If you read this blog in late 2012 or early to mid 2013, you know that during portions of these timeframes I experienced very powerful and, one could argue, life-transforming feelings of love.  A multitude of days were punctuated with great hopes, uncertainty, and terrible fears; unfortunately, the grand adventure didn’t end particularly well.  I snapped the above photo while with the Sarvis campaign in Lynchburg on July 28th, 2013.  At that time, some small part of me wanted my dreams of love to hold fast even though they had already more or less melted away like a pile of snow in a spring thaw.

Like so many facets of life, the whole journey had its positive and negative consequences, but if I could focus on something positive for a moment, that experience led me to a whole host of new friends, political contacts, and a faith community in the form of the RISE Methodist Church in Harrisonburg.  Prior to that time, I had been without a regular church for a multitude of years, and I must say that I was glad for the opportunity to participate in worship with these new brothers and sisters in Christ.

The fact that I could discover love, even a strained, confusing, and often one-sided variety that it was, gives me hope that one day I’ll be able to find that exceptional woman with whom I can share the rest of my life.  This Valentine’s Day message is for her. 1890986_10151961470444077_599885035_n

As I posted on Facebook, RISE has honored me by asking me to join in their mission trip to Guatemala next month.  Although I am looking forward to the opportunity to serve, I do remember that one of my cousins met his wife on such a foreign adventure.  It is important to be mindful of opportunities when they present themselves.  Then again, I hear you often find love when you least expect it.

Friends, if you are single, don’t be bitter about Valentine’s Day.  Do I need to tell you that it is better to be single than to be with the wrong person?  I cannot count how many couples I have seen who are terrible for each other; nevertheless, due to the fear of being alone they make decisions that lead to unhappy marriages, dysfunctional families, and, ultimately, troubled children.  No one deserves to be subjected to an abusive relationship.  And, conversely, if you have succeeded in finding that special someone, remember that despite what the ads tell you, materialism isn’t the mark of true love; love isn’t properly measured by dollars spent but rather the strength of your relationship and your willingness to give of yourself to each other for the happiness of all.

But, then again, you may ask what do I know?  Obviously, I don’t have all of the answers.  Otherwise, why haven’t I found the right person yet?

Best wishes to everyone on this Valentine’s Day, both to the couples and to the singles. And, the next time Valentine’s Day comes around, I hope I can share a remarkable woman with the readers of The Virginia Conservative.

May each of you find that man or woman of your dreams and may you experience a love that surpasses your wildest expectations!

Shenandoah County Hosts Hill and Bevington

This Saturday, February 15th, the Republican Women of Shenandoah County will be hosting U.S. Senate candidate Shak Hill and House of Representatives candidate Paul Bevington.  Their meeting will be taking place at the Denny’s in Mt. Jackson, just off of Interstate 81.

After their regular business session, Shak Hill will speak at 10 AM.  Then, at 10:45, Paul Bevington will take the stage.  For residents of the upper and central Shenandoah Valley, this event should provide a great opportunity to meet these two candidates and ask them questions about their principles and campaigns.

Assuming I am neither snowed in nor attending the International Students for Liberty Conference taking place this weekend in Washington D.C., I hope to attend.  I encourage you to make the drive to Mt. Jackson to learn about two of your choices for federal legislators.