Cowards, Corruption, and Conventions

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By now, most observers of Republican politics here in the Old Dominion know what transpired down in Virginia Beach Monday evening. Gary Byler, the current chair of RPV’s 2nd Congressional District Committee, is a supporter of conventions to determine our statewide nominees, and the establishment old boy network of our state party doesn’t like conventions anymore, so they wanted to replace him. He elected NOT to run for re-election, and the Vice Chair of the 2nd, Curtis Colgate, stepped up. He also is a supporter of conventions, and is a fairly big donor, has a long history of party activism, and notably owns the historic Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach. Establishment Senator Frank Wagner (R-7th) put together a campaign for the chair of the 2nd before Byler announced he wasn’t running. You may remember Frank Wagner is the genius who introduced, along with his buddy Del. Scott Taylor (R-85th), bills in both houses of the General Assembly this past session to forbid any method of nomination except open primaries by ANY political party for statewide candidates. Thankfully, this effort went down to ignominious defeat after a popular outcry.

Senator Frank Wagner, the man who would be king.

Senator Frank Wagner, the man who would be king.

Back to Monday evening at the Virginia Beach Republican Party mass meeting. Sen. Wagner knew the Beach comprises 64% of the total voting strength at the 2nd Congressional District Convention this year, so he was kind enough to help slate the Virginia Beach delegation down to just 32, including himself and his most reliable minions. This was out of nearly 1,000 people who filed to be delegates. He disenfranchised all of these people simply because some of them were Colgate supporters. The hand count was NOT done through a ‘division of the house’, so that both sides get an accurate, fair count. It was orchestrated so Wagner’s people had every advantage. If it stands, he has 100% of the Beach’s voting strength, and is now guaranteed the chairmanship of the 2nd. Slating is something that’s done to remove ineligible or compromised voters, such as known members of another political party, etc. This was done so that Frank Wagner can win. No other reason. Del. Barry Knight (R-81st) and Sen. Jeff McWaters (R-8th), along with Taylor, helped organize and lead this effort. Del. Chris Stolle (R-83rd), chaired the mass meeting and played along. The rumor is that Sen. Wagner is planning to use this as a springboard to take control of the RPV State Central Committee over the next few years, and then run for Governor in 2017 in an open primary, which he will ensure is the mandatory method of nomination. Particularly distasteful is how Wagner, Taylor and co. hide behind the “Conventions disenfranchise members of the military!” canard. This is the worst, basest, craven cowardice. I’ll bet some of the nearly 1,000 folks you slated were military, Frank.

Senator Jeff McWaters, minion of both Bob McDonnell and Frank Wagner. He made his fortune off of Medicaid, through his firm AmeriGroup, which was then sold off to WellPoint. Real conservative.

Senator Jeff McWaters, minion of both Bob McDonnell and Frank Wagner. He made his fortune off of Medicaid, as CEO of AmeriGroup, which was then sold off to WellPoint. Real conservative.

Needless to say, I have no intention of standing by and letting this happen, and I know plenty of other grassroots Republicans leaders in the Commonwealth won’t either. If they get away with this sort of underhanded behavior here, it will happen all across Virginia. Not a chance. I plan to do my part to shine a light on this, have the Virginia Beach delegation either include everyone who filed, both at the RPV Convention in Roanoke and at the 2nd CD Convention, or have the delegation black flagged (disqualified). Then I plan to help ensure Wagner, McWaters, Taylor, Knight, and Stolle all face strong primary challenges next year. Should they gain nomination, I wouldn’t mind seeing conservative or libertarian independents in the general. These men are unworthy of being leaders, and certainly unworthy of the public trust.

Shak Hill For United States Senate

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As it stands, there are only two candidates for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2014 that have a reasonable chance of leaving Roanoke with the nomination: Former RNC Chairman, former RPV Chairman and former Romney campaign adviser Ed Gillespie, and former Treasurer of RPV’s 10th Congressional District Committee and former USAF tanker pilot Shak Hill. Both men have been absolute gentlemen in my admittedly limited contact with them.

What separates the two men? Their ideology and their records. Ed Gillespie has a record of supporting the Medicare Part D boondoggle, supporting the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP, the bailout), supporting “comprehensive immigration reform” (amnesty), supporting the passage of HB 3202, the ultimately unconstitutional taxing plan as chair of the Republican Party of Virginia, helping found American Crossroads with conservative bête noire Karl Rove, lobbying for Enron, and long-term association with the Republican establishment. A partial list of these would be enough to seriously damage his conservative credentials; the complete list makes a mockery of them. Now he claims to be a pro-liberty conservative. But hey, he did raise a few million dollars for Rand Paul’s Senate campaign. So he’s got that going for him.

Shak Hill is on record opposing the bailouts, the stimulus, HB 3202, and amnesty, and cannot be accused of being a tool of the national Republican establishment. He also brings a compelling personal story to the table involving his wife’s victorious battle with cancer, and fostering of over 40 children, along with his service during the Gulf War. He’s a very strong supporter of gun rights, having gotten the endorsement of Gun Owners of America Political Victory Fund. He’s gotten the endorsement of longtime conservative activists like Jim Bowden and D.J. McGuire, and today he receives mine as well. I am proud to endorse Shak Hill for United States Senate.

Setting The Record Straight On Immigration

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Longtime readers of this blog know our views on illegal immigrants and immigration and border security. That said, there’s been some sentiment on the immigration issue lately in the Virginia righty blogosphere that I feel compelled to respond to. I wasn’t one of those offended by the (in)famous Super Bowl commercial featuring America the Beautiful sung in various languages, but Jim Bowden makes some very salient points otherwise about borders, culture, and the rise and fall of nations nonetheless.  On the other side of the ledger, many who should know better are rushing to the defense of the GOP establishment and their immigration ‘principles’ that came out of the GOP House retreat late last month.

Particularly galling at Bearing Drift today is the repeated use of the word ‘nativist’ to describe those of us who actually expect immigration laws to be enforced. In this same post, Shaun Kenney, whom I nearly always agree with otherwise, decries caricaturing of illegal immigrants using a graphic, and then does the exact same thing to those of us who demand border security and the rule of law, using a graphic of the memorable Bill “The Butcher” Cutting character, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, from the film Gangs of New York. We also apparently are demanding draconian violations of civil liberties and the rounding up of the 12 to 15 million illegals come hell or high water… News to me. He advocates for amnesty, well, because it’s mean to expect these poor, innocent illegal immigrants to show some respect for our laws and sovereignty. Oh, and the Catholic Church, represented on this issue by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wants amnesty, so for some reason that should settle it. I think not. Come on, Shaun, you’re better than that. That is the height of hypocrisy. And please, people, quit conflating legal and illegal immigration.

Over at Virginia Virtucon, a post is up taking Dave Brat, a candidate for U.S. House in the 7th District, to task for questioning the incumbent, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, on immigration, because Brat demands immigration laws be enforced, while opposing Obamacare. The author has the nerve to suggest it’s hypocritical because Obamacare is the “law of the land”. Respectfully, this is political weaselry at best. The Affordable Care Act is only in force because John Roberts chose to place his concern for the ‘reputation of the SCOTUS’ (or something) above the plain language of the Constitution. Even left-wing SCOTUS watchers were amazed that he sided with the four liberal justices. No one has ever credibly suggested that immigration and border security laws are unconstitutional.  Such a comparison is ridiculous on its face. Add to this that Brat would seek repeal of the Affordable Care Act should he be elected, and the attacks come off as even more patently ridiculous. Factor in that Cantor himself said on the House floor less than two weeks ago that “immigration reform could be an economic boon to this country” and it’s easy to see why conservatives are suspicious of Cantor, Bob Goodlatte, and House leadership on immigration issues.

Want to win the trust of conservatives on these issues? Enforce the law and secure the border. Once that’s done, then, and ONLY then, will we be interested in discussing immigration reform. The visa and immigration system is certainly broken, by over a century of lobbying by every industry, racial interest group, religious denomination and labor group imaginable, and cries out for repair. But just like the amnesty Reagan signed in the 80s, the business lobby will team up with others to prevent any meaningful enforcement, and this time we have an administration ulterior political motives to look the other way already. No amnesty, and no reform until enforcement. Learn it, practice it, earn it.

The REAL Future of libertarian Politics

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A couple of weeks ago, Brian Doherty over at Reason published an article about the recent gubernatorial election in Virginia. He included a few links to Virginia political blogs, and interviewed Chuck Moulton, the chair of the Libertarian Party of Virginia (and someone I consider a friend), Chris Stearns, the pro-liberty chair of the Republican Party of Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District Committee, Rob Sarvis, the Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, and Arthur DiBianca, co-founder of Libertarian Booster PAC.

Libertarian Booster PAC is the PAC that assisted Sarvis’ campaign and has taken donations from Joe Liemandt, a major Democratic donor. This led a lot of pro-liberty Republicans to accuse Rob Sarvis of being a Democratic plant, a somewhat ridiculous allegation given his previous membership in the Fairfax Young Republicans (he signed up to be a delegate at the 2013 Young Republican Federation of Virginia convention) and ties to the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia (he came and spoke to our 2011 state convention about his race against Dick Saslaw for the Senate of Virginia that year), but by that point many Republicans were unfortunately susceptible to this sort of thing. I can personally tell you this PAC also assisted Laura Delhomme’s campaign here in the 47th HoD race, and they supported LP candidates in 2012. So allegations that this PAC came into being to support Sarvis are patently ridiculous. Having said that, I will take serious issue with Mr. DiBianca’s quote to Brian Doherty:

…it also helped Sarvis that the Virginia race was one of the only big political shows of the year and he was the most interesting thing about that race, which got him big free press coverage, very unusual for a Libertarian. He was also helped by the fact that McAuliffe and Cuccinelli were both assholes.

Oh, really? I’ve been critical of the horrible campaign that Dave Rexrode and Chris LaCivita ran for Ken Cuccinelli; they should never work in Virginia politics again. That said, what does THIS guy know about Ken Cuccinelli, or Virginia politics? NOTHING. That much is obvious by his characterization of Ken. I’ve met Ken around 8-10 times at events since 2005 or so. I’m just an activist, just a guy. not trying to get into politicians’ good graces or anything like that, or build a career through my activism. I’m simply one guy motivated by ideology, working within the Republican party, to advance my ideals, and I just happened to end up the chair of RLCVA. There’s no reason he’d remember who I am, but the man has never blown me off, always actually listened what I had to say (I encounter a LOT of politicians and I can tell when they’re not), and is generally a good guy. Nobody I know that actually KNOWS him thinks anything less. Mr. DiBianca is typical of the LP types who think EVERYONE in politics not associated with the LP is evil. Ed Crane, who long ago publicly renounced support for the LP, funneled a lot of money into the race through his Purple PAC, specifically to oppose Ken Cuccinelli. All of this is because purist libertarians have a narrow set of social issues that they disagree with Ken on, namely abortion, marriage equality, and the existence of the state’s sodomy law (which Ken has little to do with either way, the General Assembly tried to replace that law a few years ago, but couldn’t come to an agreement), so they recruited a gubernatorial candidate to run against him, and oriented their messaging and campaign to reflect that. To assert anything else is dishonest.

I spoke with Rob Sarvis himself, in early April, after I heard he was running. Despite having been complimentary of Ken in 2011, he told me directly that his run was motivated by Ken’s social conservatism, and that the LPVA had recruited him, not the reverse. As Nicki pointed out earlier, no candidate or party is entitled to the votes of pro-liberty activists or anyone else. So Rob didn’t ‘take’ votes away from either Ken or McAuliffe. That said, he, his supporters, and LPVA all jumped right onto the same dishonest message that Ken wanted to require transvaginal ultrasounds for every abortion (that was McDonnell’s bright idea; Ken opposed it), that he was not only looking to use the sodomy statute to regulate the sexual behavior of consenting adults, but that he was responsible for the law’s existence (both blatant lies), and that he would somehow use the office of the governor to move against legal abortion (something Ken directly addressed and denied). This was repeated by Rob’s campaign manager and volunteers every chance they got on social media and everywhere else. The secretary of LPVA actually (seemingly) seriously posited several times on social media and blogs that Ken was ‘taking’ votes from Rob because the LPVA convention happened a month before the RPV convention! Considering Ken had been in the race for close to a year before Rob even considered getting in, that’s utterly ridiculous and speaks to the level that LPVA was operating at.

Chuck Moulton had a few things to say about RLCVA, as it turns out In addition to a few comments he made on social media, Brian Doherty quoted him:

Moulton remembers attending meetings of the state’s Republican Liberty Caucus back then and “my impression was that they are misnamed; they are more like the Republican Fiscally Conservative Caucus, because they didn’t seem to care so much about social issues. I asked each candidate in a Q and A about those issues and Sarvis stood out as the only truly libertarian candidate there.”

No, Chuck, you are quite wrong. The difference between RLCVA and LPVA (and the LP in a broader sense) is that we understand that we have to ally with people we mostly agree with to achieve anything at all politically. You basically helped scupper a largely pro-liberty candidate in Ken Cuccinelli because of abortion and marriage issues. The LP is like the Goth children from South Park… if you’re not EXACTLY like them, they won’t hang out with you. This is why the LP is simply not serious about politics, and perhaps not even about policy. What about gun rights? Property rights? Marijuana legalization, where Ken has come our way significantly over the past four years? Plenty of other issues other than fiscal issues where Ken is great. The guy who’s with you 80% of the time is your ally, not your enemy.

Since this fight has been picked, let me address the LP in general. It is a WASTE OF TIME. LP activists are actually celebrating the fact they got 6.6% in a statewide election. I’m not kidding. In the American political system, from the local level on up to how Presidents are elected, it’s set up for two major parties, whoever they might be. The last time a major party collapsed was in the mid-19th century, when the Whig party collapsed. The American, Free Soil, and Republican parties struggled to the be the replacement; the Republicans won that struggle. The other two disappeared shortly thereafter. The LP has won some local races, and has even elected some state legislators in a few states. Good for them. But they cannot be taken seriously in Virginia until they at least elect ONE member of the House of Delegates, and their statewide candidates have no chance of winning. In U.S. politics, minor parties do nothing except help the major party they are further away from ideologically. In the case of the Libertarian Party, despite some agreement on social issues, that party is the Democratic Party. That is all the LP accomplishes, and both the genesis and tactics of the Sarvis campaign bear out that they understand that, despite their protestations to the contrary.

If pro-liberty activists in Virginia want to be effective politically, their best course of action is join the Republican Party and help us advance liberty within it. They can join local unit committees, and they can join the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia.

And just like that, the GOP caves…

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with a whimper.

At Obama’s meeting with Senate Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine laid out a proposal to raise the debt limit until the end of January, reopen the government and take a slice out of the health care law.

Under a proposal she and other GOP senators have been developing, a medical device tax that helps finance the health care law would be repealed, and millions of individuals eligible for subsidies to purchase health insurance under the program would be subject to stronger income verification.

At the same time, federal agencies that have been affected by across-the-board cuts would gain greater flexibility in the use of their remaining funds.

Everything else would be negotiated later.

That is to say, the Democrats got everything they wanted, with nearly no concessions to the GOP, and the GOP folded like a cheap lawn chair.

It’s not that I’m unhappy that I may finally get paid for the work I’m doing. It’s just that the Republicans have once again proven to be inept in the face of appalling Democrat intransigence and arrogance.

You know those elections where you’re hoping to make gains in 2014, GOP?

I wouldn’t count on it if I were you.

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