Young Americans for Liberty’s Flaw

Promoting liberty on our college campuses across our nation is important. In fact, it is one of the most important activities one can do if he or she wishes to advance the principles of limited government to our next generation of students. However, neither of the two largest student devoted college organizations, the College Republicans nor the College Democrats can be relied upon for this task. Sure, both of these groups may do so from time to time and on certain issues, but the simple truth is that the overall focus of these groups is to advance political parties and their candidates, but not principles.

Image from YAL's Facebook page
Image from YAL’s Facebook page

With the end of the 2008 Ron Paul campaign, several groups came into being that sought to advance liberty first and foremost. One such group, Young Americans for Liberty, focused primarily on colleges and college-age individuals. On my own I have been actively assisting and encouraging liberty-minded college students and political dialogue for the last five or so years. Therefore, as you might imagine, I eagerly looked forward to the opportunity to join forces with a group like YAL. Unfortunately, the opportunity never seemed to present itself. At our local university of James Madison groups blossomed and quickly disappeared. Over the last several years two separate YAL groups sprung up and died.

But, last year, that changed. I heard that the Virginia State Director of YAL had moved on to other things and they now had an opening, which I jumped to fill. In November of 2015, Students for Liberty (another pro-liberty pro-student group) held a conference at the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. While there, I met with the regional coordinator for YAL and briefly discussed the opening for a state director and the conversation seemed promising. When I returned to my computer, I sent her a copy of my resume.

The Young Americans for Liberty stater kit
The Young Americans for Liberty stater kit

Several weeks later, I was called for an interview that went really well.   As a test and prelude to employment, I was asked if I would be willing to try and set up YAL chapter at one of our local colleges. Although I don’t like the idea of working for free (after all, why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?) the thought of finally working for YAL convinced me to allay my misgivings and give it a shot. They asked me to come up with a plan to promote student activism and, based upon my work and experience with other political organizations I did. They then sent me a box of materials for tabling and I traveled to the nearby Bridgewater College to see what I could set up. I ran into a snag with the college administration and, with winter finals and the break only a week or two away, it became readily apparent that there was not time to set something up. I then visited Eastern Mennonite University, but ran into similar time constraints.

Therefore, I sent the regional coordinator this message on December 17th:

Well, as you predicted, trying things so close to break has put a damper on the plans.  However, I have spoken with one student and although we don’t have a date set yet, we are planning to meet some time this break.  And then when break is over we will see what happens.  Besides that, I’m looking forward to Star Wars, but who isn’t?

If you could put a good word for me to the people at YAL I would appreciate [it].

Thanks and have a great day!


I hoped to try and set something up at a local college for early in the next semester as I waited for the YAL representative to get back in touch with me. Weeks passed. Then, on January 7th, I finally heard back. In the reply, I received some shocking and dismaying news.

Here’s the most important paragraph from their email:

“…I don’t doubt your abilities and I really would like to see you be a part of the movement, but the biggest hick-up that I’ve come across is your previous involvement with YAL. With the way our field program is structured all of our state chairs have been involved with YAL in the past, in one leadership role or another. This is to verify that they know what a successful YAL chapter looks like and what it takes to make one. With you, you have never been a part of a chapter with no fault of your own, but they will not let me bring you on because of that and this will not change in the future.”

Note what they are saying. I wasn’t being rejected either due to a lack of expertise or talent. Apparently, because I wasn’t a part of Young Americans for Liberty during my time as an undergraduate (because YAL didn’t exist before the 2008 Ron Paul campaign) I couldn’t be considered for employment. However, why didn’t they announce this policy from the onset of our conversation? Were they hoping to get as much free labor from me as possible before casually pointing out their policies preventing them from hiring me? It felt like a turn of the century business that had picked up an Irish laborer at no cost and when he finally asked to be hired for a wage, the business revealed a previously hidden “No Irish Need Apply” sign. As I thought more about it, I began to wonder how many other people have been taken advantage of by this policy.

As I wrote in reply, “I’m disappointed to hear about this policy and it makes little sense.  As you mention, I couldn’t have been part of YAL as an undergrad as it didn’t exist then.  By the same token, neither could Jeff Frazee (the founder of YAL), Ed King, or many others.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  And, it isn’t like I haven’t I started student groups once out of college, as mentioned in my work for Students for Life, but I guess that means nothing to YAL.  To me this is about as fair as excluding a person based upon skin color, country of origin, or gender, as no one has control over any of those things either.  And what of the people who discover liberty after they get their degree?  Does YAL treat them as second class citizens too?”

I went on to add, “Unfortunately, based upon this position of your group, I guess I won’t be able to recommend that any liberty-minded students become a part of YAL as long as this policy remains in place.  The idea of working with YAL has been a goal of mine since the end of the 2008 Ron Paul campaign, but I guess it is best to finally forget about it.  I suppose it is finally time for that dream to die.  Nevertheless, these words are a poor representation of the depth of my disappointment.  It is regrettable that the movement has to be fractured, but I am still hopeful to find work for a group which actually values my experience and dedication without this kind of inane policy.”

Since this exchange at the beginning of the year, I have heard nothing further from YAL. Several months afterward, a local student came to me with the idea of restarting the Young Americans for Liberty chapter at James Madison University. Unfortunately, given their hiring practices, I advised against him allying with YAL. For better or worse, YAL recently underwent a leadership change, but I do not know if their policies have remained the same.

This disappointing episode with Young Americans for Liberty has not dampened my enthusiasm for promoting our values to our next generation of leaders and, as such, during the 2016 spring semester you could find me at JMU almost every week. If you are interested in either working for Young Americans for Liberty or considering donating to the group I believe you ought to know this detail about them upfront and not after you have offered them your time or money. It is my hope that YAL will jettison this fatal flaw or, if that doesn’t happen, I hope another organization will rise up to become the premier liberty-promoting group on campuses nationwide. That’s something I would be excited to be part of.

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

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.


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,  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.