Palin’s “Baptism”

Image from Gage Skidmore on Wikipedia
Image from Gage Skidmore on Wikipedia

This weekend, 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate spoke at a gathering of the National Rifle Association.  During her talk she stated, “If I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”  That line was met with considerable applause from the crowd.

Although I have a lot of areas of disagreement with Sarah Palin’s former running mate, Senator John McCain of Arizona, one position that I did appreciate was his steadfast opposition to torture.  Having served in Vietnam, we have been told that he experienced horrible treatment at the hands of his captors and thus knows firsthand of these loathsome practices.  As such, McCain believes that America should not embrace the inhuman tactics of torture.  Regrettably, it seems that Sarah Palin thinks otherwise.

Palin’s viewpoint seems to harken back to Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who famously declared that anyone suspected of being a terrorist, whether proven or not, should not be afforded due process or legal protection under either the U.S. Constitution or international law.

Also, Sarah Palin doesn’t seem to understand that although torture can sometimes provide useful information, it can also be wildly unreliable as “people will say anything when subjected to intense pain“.

Not only are Palin’s comments on Saturday disturbing from the perspective of constitutional liberty and human rights, they also indicate a troubling theology.

Does she believe that we ought to forcibly baptize non-Christians?  Are her thoughts a nod to the idea of conversion by the sword, the same practice that many on the right condemn some Muslims for enacting on their non-Muslim neighbors?

And shouldn’t most Christians be offended by the idea of comparing baptism, which many of us believe holds deep theological significance, to the loathsome torture of waterboarding?  Do we honestly believe that baptism ought to be held up in the same light of simulated drowning?

Therefore, as they are an affront to both civil liberties and to Christianity, Sarah Palin’s comments regarding baptism by waterboarding must be completely and utterly repudiated.

Johnson 2016?

Photo from Gary Johnson's Facebook page
Photo from Gary Johnson’s Facebook page

In a recent article in the National Journal, Gary Johnson may be considering another run for president in 2016.  As was the case in 2012, the former New Mexico governor suggests he may run under the banner of the Libertarian Party.  As he puts it, “I would love running as a Libertarian because I would have the least amount of explaining to do.”

Certainly some liberty-minded Republicans wish that Gary Johnson would return to the Republican fold.  After all, he was elected as a Republican in New Mexico.

However, any memory of the 2012 Republican presidential primaries would make such a switch highly unlikely.  For those who do not recall, Johnson first began his presidential run as a Republican in 2011.  Despite being a fairly important former elected official and offering a memorable quip that several dogs created more “shovel ready” jobs than President Obama, he was only allowed to participate in two debates.  In a party and media fueled catch-22, his poll numbers were low because he didn’t get much coverage.  And as he didn’t get much coverage, his poll numbers could not improve.

In addition, former Governor Johnson has some philosophical differences too.  Although marking himself as a strong fiscal conservative during his time in elected office, Gary Johnson holds a number of social views which put him at odds with the religious right wing of the Republican Party.

Now there are some Republican politicians who have used the Libertarian Party as a resting point before returning to the GOP.  For example, 2008 Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr has since rejoined the Republican Party.  Then again, I thought Barr a rather curious choice for the LP.  Although I didn’t consider myself libertarian in 2008, given his previous support of the Patriot Act and the War in Iraq, I thought that I was more libertarian than Mr. Barr.

On the other hand, the Republican Party is still searching for an identity and unfortunately there is a sizable contingent of the leadership that is openly hostile to libertarians and conservatives.

So, it should be interesting to see when and if Gary Johnson kicks off his presidential campaign.  I assume that if he runs as a Libertarian again, it should increase public understanding and membership in the LP.

A Request for RISE

Good morning readers.

As many of you may know, for the last year and a half I have been attending the RISE United Methodist Church in Harrisonburg, VA.  To tell you just a little about the church, although it serves the entire population, it focuses heavily on the area college students.

Well, at the service last Sunday, the church announced that it is going through a period of considerable financial difficulty.  I’m sure that this comes as sad news to many, as RISE has had a positive impact on the spiritual development of so many individuals in the Harrisonburg community, myself included.

I know that many of us are struggling in the current economy and funds are often at a premium.  However, if you could spare a few dollars to aid this church, this family, I’m sure it would be greatly appreciated.

If you feel so moved, please visit the RISE website to offer what you can or…better yet, stop into the RISE house on 690 S. Mason Street (the intersection of Mason and historic Cantrell).

img_1964 RISE has given so much to so many and so today I humbly ask my friends and neighbors to help support her in her time of need.

Thank you so much!

6th District Conventions Aplenty

This weekend, the Republican Party will be holding their sixth district convention in Botetourt County.  The details are as follows:  It will be taking place on Saturday, April 26th, 10:00 A.M. at the Lord Botetourt High School located on 1435 Roanoke Road in Daleville, Virginia.  One of the main purposes of this gathering is to elect a chairman of the regional party.  As previously mentioned, they will choose between current chairman Wendell Walker and former Speaker of the House of Delegates Vance Wilkins.  Representative Bob Goodlatte does not have an intra-party challenger (though if he did, that contest would have taken place in a primary at a later date).

Then, on May 3rd, the Libertarian Party will be holding a sixth district convention of their own.  This convention will be held on Saturday, May 3rd, starting at noon at the Macado’s restaurant at 30 North Main Street in Lexington, Virginia.  One of the major features of this gathering will be to determine who, if anyone, will be the Libertarian nominee to run against Representative Goodlatte.  For the record, the Libertarian Party last ran a candidate in the 6th in 2010.  It would not be surprising to see the party field a challenger, especially given that there is not a Democratic candidate in the race.

Thus far I have received no word on whether the Democratic Party will be holding a sixth district convention in the near future or if they have already done so.

Exciting political times here in the central western portion of Virginia!

Senate Polling

Currently, the News Virginian, a newspaper based out of Waynesboro, is holding an online poll to gauge support for the various 2014 U.S. Senate candidates.  The poll includes all four of the Republican options, Democratic Senator Mark Warner, and Libertarian Robert Sarvis.

So what does the poll show?  Currently, Robert Sarvis easily tops the voting with 61.3% of the vote. Mark Warner comes in second at 21.8%.  Ed Gillespie leads the Republican field with 13.2% and Shak Hill, the most well-known alternative to Gillespie, is farther behind at 2.5%.  Both Chuck Moss and Tony DeTora do not crack the 1% mark.

Robert Sarvis at the 2014 Virginia Libertarian state convention.

Although the poll doesn’t display how many people have voted thus far, nor can it be declared scientific and thus accurate by any stretch of the imagination, it still holds some interest.

Looking back to the Republican presidential primaries in 2008 and 2012, Ron Paul often won these internet contests with convincing margins, though I don’t recall him with the kind of lead Sarvis has in this poll.  Nevertheless, he fared much better in the online world than the ballot box as liberty-minded voters are typically younger, more technologically connected, and this much more likely to participate in these kinds of polls.

Although it is exceedingly early in the race, if any candidate does reach or exceed the 60% mark on Election Day, it will most likely be incumbent Senator Warner.  After all, the last time he ran in 2008, he crushed former Republican Governor Jim Gilmore 65% to 33.7%.

It is true that we won’t know who the Republican nominee will be until after the Virginia Republican Convention in June.  However, most pundits and pollsters currently rate this race as fairly safely Democratic.  If that trend holds, could Robert Sarvis see a surge in popularity as a protest vote against the major party candidates?  I suppose the answer to that question depends on who the Republicans nominate, the unity or disarray of the GOP, the popularity of Mark Warner, and the strength of the Sarvis campaign over the next several months.   Perhaps a taste of things to come, I have spoken with a multitude of activists across the state and it seems likely that there will be a revolt in the liberty wing of the Republican Party if Ed Gillespie is the party nominee; if that transpires, Sarvis could see a substantial increase in support.

Want to add your voice to the mix?  Click on the link for the News Virginian’s website and cast your vote in this straw poll.

The JMU CRs Picnic

IMG_2629Earlier today, the James Madison College Republicans hosted a picnic at Purcell Park in Harrisonburg.  More than a dozen students along with a handful of activists gathered together in the warm spring day to socialize and discuss politics.  The featured guest was Virginia State Senator Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg.  Two other elected officials also made an appearance: Harrisonburg/Rockingham Clerk of Court Chaz Evans-Haywood and Delegate Tony Wilt of Broadway.

In part, given my considerable involvement in politics during my time at the College of William & Mary, I very much appreciate political interest and involvement among university students.  After all, who knows whom among us will be our future leaders?  Many of the principles students learn during these years along with their civic involvement will go a long way toward crafting great citizens.

Liberation of Buchenwald

Scan 50Today marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp located outside of Weimar, Germany.  On April 11th, 1945 at 3:15 PM, American soldiers took the camp.

In the summer of 1999, while studying in Germany, I had the opportunity to visit both Weimar and Buchenwald.  Although much of the original camp was destroyed, a portion of it still remains.  I’d like to share a few photos I took back then in the hopes that the terrible crimes against liberty and humanity committed there might never be repeated or forgotten.


Scan 51Scan 49

In Defense of Barbara Comstock

Barbara Comstock (Photo from Comstock's Facebook page)
Barbara Comstock (Photo from Comstock’s Facebook page)

A few moments ago, I received an email from the Wasinger campaign regarding Barbara Comstock.  For those unfamiliar with these names, Wasinger, Comstock, and a whole host of others are seeking the Republican nomination to the 10th congressional district of Virginia.  This email includes the line, “Barbara Comstock voted for President Barack Obama in 2008.”  As you might image, I found that idea curious.  Why would a Republican openly admit to voting for a Democrat, especially one like Barack Obama.

Therefore, I did a little digging and discovered that Barbara Comstock did say that she voted for Barack Obama.  However, it wasn’t in the general election, but rather the 2008 Democratic primary.

To offer you some perspective, Virginia has open primaries and so in any given election a voter can choose to vote in a Republican or a Democratic primary, but not both.  I don’t know if you remember, but back in 2008 Rush Limbaugh encouraged his listeners to vote in the Democratic primaries in order to stir up trouble and prolong the process.

Now I am no stranger to voting in Democratic primaries.  For example, in 2013 I voted for Ralph Northam.  It wasn’t the general election, but rather the Democratic contest.  I thought Northam would be better than Chopra in much the same way Comstock preferred Obama to Hillary Clinton.

However, the Republican Party of Virginia recently decided that if a Republican votes in a Democratic primary, he or she would be prohibited from participating in Republican activities.  I believe such a move  to be anathema to the principles of a free and open democratic republic like ours.  In addition, if this rule had been in place in 2008, Barbara Comstock would have probably been expelled from the party, not won as seat in the House of Delegates in 2009 as a Republican, and thus it would be exceedingly unlikely that she would be seeking the Republican nomination in the 10th today.

If I lived in the 10th district, would Barbara Comstock be my choice?  No.  She and I disagree on a few important issues and the names on her list of endorsers raises more than a few red flags.  However, to attack her for exercising what I believe is her civil right to vote for Barack Obama in an open Democratic primary, which her tax dollars helped fund, is absolutely ludicrous.  Unfortunately, an increasing number of Republicans in Virginia have been swept up in such partisan madness.

I encourage you to take the time to educate yourself and don’t assume that everything you read is completely accurate or not skewed for political gain.

Gillespie: Big Government Has Won?

Earlier today, I stumbled across an article in the National Review entitled, “Has Big Government Won?”  Written in 2003, during the Bush presidency, the author of the piece asks if the Republican Party has cast off all notions of a fiscally responsible, constitutionally limited government and instead embraced the idea of unrestrained federal power.

Now that the Bush era is over, some Republicans feel that they can finally admit that the party strayed tremendously from its supposed principles during this time.  That realization is no great news story, although it is worth repeating and remembering in the wistful hope that it never happens again.  However, I’d like to draw your attention to the man referenced in the beginning of the article, then Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie.

IMG_2458Although they aren’t direct quotes from Mr. Gillespie, the article states, “Gillespie basically said that the Republicans’ long-time war against big government has now ended.  Government won.”  Drawing from the Manchester News Leader, it goes on to add, “the party’s new chairman, energetic and full of vigor, said in no uncertain terms that the days of Reaganesque Republican railings against the expansion of federal government are over.”

Some would say that it doesn’t matter as it was ten years in the past and Ed Gillespie no longer heads the RNC.   However, it is relevant to our present times because Ed Gillespie is currently running for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in the state of Virginia.  Therefore, what Virginia voters need to know is does he still embrace these opinions?  Has big government won?  On his website, he declares himself to be a conservative, and although conservatives come in a multitude of varieties, one would be hard-pressed to label embracing big government as anything approaching conservative.

A decade is long time and there is no doubt that political positions shift and change.  But does Ed Gillespie still hold his previous opinions?  Does he still believe that the Republicans should not fight against the expansion of federal power?  And if the answer to these two questions is yes, can any voter who considers himself to be either conservative or libertarian support Mr. Gillespie for U.S. Senate?