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(This is a guest post from my friend, James Curtis. Please read carefully because, as little as we may like it, he’s right.)

An Open Letter to the “Tea Partiers” of Virginia’s Fifth District

Dear colleagues,

I have a piece of good news for you and some bits of bad news. The good news is that Tom Perriello’s days as our Congressman are numbered. The bad news is that Robert Hurt doesn’t need our votes to win in November.

Many of the various political and demographical factors that came together in 2008 to allow Perriello to oust longtime Congressman Virgil Goode will not be factors in 2010. Those factors included a suppression of Republican/ conservative voters who were unhappy with the nomination of John McCain and the realization that Obama was being projected to win the election, maybe even carrying Virginia in the process. The Obama nomination invigorated the District’s Democratic/ progressive voters, as well as independents attracted to the candidate’s promises for “change” and anxious to participate in the historical election of the republic’s first African-American president. There was also the speculation that some University of Virginia students fraudulently registered to vote in both their home districts and locally, or in whichever district their votes would be more “effective” in electing Obama.

Of course, the partisan Democrats and independent progressives of the 5th District will vote for Perriello in November. But, without the additional independent and transient voters, Perriello’s level of support should return to about 35-40%, as indicated by the vote totals of the 2002 – 2006 elections.

As demonstrated in the recent Republican primary, Robert Hurt does not need our votes to win. In fact, despite the efforts of so many within the Tea Party to nominate one of the other six candidates who in various ways were more in line with our principles of smaller government and fiscal responsibility (the candidates demonstrated varying levels of respect for individual rights), Hurt’s double digit margin of victory demonstrates that there are enough partisan Republicans in the district to easily secure the nomination for the party insider. The bad news for the Tea Party is that Hurt has confirmed that he does not need our votes. He simply needs to focus his message toward those partisan Republican and conservative independents to also win in November.

(Yes, despite the protests of many within the Tea Party, Hurt is a conservative, but that is a matter for a different discussion.) If this were a two way race, Hurt would win about 60% of the vote, again consistent with 2002 – 2006 results. To solidify victory, he will continue to pay lip service to the Tea Party principles, enough so to win a fair share of our votes, or to convince some of us that he has learned his lesson as far as voting for expansions in government.

Many of the Tea Party crowd are worried that the independent campaign of Jeff Clark will somehow split the small government (conservative, libertarian, independent) vote in a manner that Perriello’s 40% will be a large enough vote total to win. Historically, independent or third party can expect about 2 to 3 percent of the vote from independent voters of all political persuasions and protest votes from those who will vote for anyone who doesn’t have a “D” or an “R” next to his or her name. Extrapolating this data, Clark’s presence on the ballot would be expected to change a 60/40 race into a 58/39/3 race.

The impact that Tea Party voters will have in November will be in determining what Hurt’s, Clark’s and Perriello’s final percentages will be, because these are “extra” votes to be allocated among the candidates. Just like the district experienced a surge in Democrat-inclined voters in 2008, it will experience additional small government supporters this year. None of these additional supporters will improve Perriello’s position; they will simply add votes to either Hurt’s or Clark’s total. However, they will not create a defection of supporters from Hurt to Clark that would result in a Perriello victory.

So, the worst news for Tea Party supporters is that they have missed their chance to affect the 2010 5th District Congressional race. As unsavory as this will sound to Tea Partiers who wish to impact this year’s election, now that Hurt has secured the Republican nomination, this is his race to win or lose. If Tea Party supporters wish to have an impact in the 5th District, they will have to refocus their efforts on the next round of elections.

But keep in mind that the fight to restore the Republic will not be won or lost in November, and that many battles lay ahead for us who wish to return it to its Constitutional foundations. Whatever your assessment of Hurt’s impending election, do not lose sight of the larger objectives nor hope that we can be successful.

In Liberty,
James Curtis
Charlottesville, VA

(About the author:
James is a member of the Jefferson Area Tea Party, as well as the Treasurer of the Libertarian Party of Virginia and Jefferson Area Libertarians. He has spoken at Tea Party events hosted by the JATP and Lynchburg Tea Party. He is a two time graduate of the University of Virginia, with degrees in Government and Accounting, and owns a tax and consulting practice just outside of Charlottesville.)

Bradley here, with an additional note. First, I took the liberty of adding special emphasis to the last paragraph. Secondly, James’ assessment is largely correct, though I could see Jeff going as high as 10%, if enough people are willing to stand on principle.

I posted this here to allow a greater outlet for James’ words, and to help spread the knowledge that we can send a message to the GOP establishment without returning Perriello to DC. If nothing else, we have learned many valuable lessons from this primary process. This is information we should use wisely in the next go-round.

As for this election cycle, my path is set: in November, I will be voting for Jeff Clark, and I will move forward from there with a conscience that is absolutely clear.

What you choose to do is no one’s decision but your own. One bit of advice: use wisely your power of choice. And please, stay engaged in the battlefield of ideas. This process is long and tiring, I know, but the end goal of restoring our republic is well worth our continued sweat and exertion.

As always, thanks for reading.
For Liberty,
Bradley S. Rees

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Balance Beam/Cheer: (This is TOO cute) –

Here is my second post for the Virginia Tenth Amendment Center, which is basically a follow-up to the post below.

Also, visit the “Sons Of Liberty Radio” page for a link to archived podcasts of my BlogTalkRadio shows, which have featured Josh Eboch (from the VA Tenth Center) and Michael Boldin (founder of The Tenth Amendment Center, based in Los Angeles, California).

Unnecessary Swamp-Dwelling

In Virginia’s Fifth District (where I live), as well as across the nation, people are beginning to ask the fundamental questions. What remains to be seen is this: whether enough sets of lips will give voice to them before it becomes too late.

In my last post, I compared our political landscape to a forest. However, a more apt analogy may be a swamp (appropriately enough, considering the original terrain of our nation’s capital).

The reason I say this is simple: We seem to have gotten bogged down in partisanship and stuck waist-deep in certain issues that, ultimately, bear little consequence in our current economic climate.

“Social” conservatives and “social justice” liberals will both strap on the hip-waders of morality to justify their ends, yet both equally miss the mark when trying to square their respective positions with the Founders’ vision of liberty and, moreover, Federalism.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to open the door for a debate on whether the Founders envisioned a moral society. Their own writings leave no wiggle room between door and jamb, on that score.

But, in the far right’s refusal to acknowledge the significance of the 9th Amendment, and the far left’s misguided interpretation of the 10th (due mostly to a blatant misreading of Article 1, Section 8), both tend to forget other important elements of our Founding documents.

More importantly, they misinterpret (or simply disregard) the frame of mind of those who wrote them. We know the Founders were intensely aware of the severe danger posed by a monarchy or similarly dictatorial style of governance.

What some of us too often neglect is that they had just as much, if not more, fear of a theocratic State. But, in reality, are they that dissimilar?

Theocratic rule in England was made that much more powerful by the complementary system of hereditary Monarchy. But, in the absence of that particular style of government, would a theocracy be any less brutal? Would it be any less a danger to the rights and liberty of the under-class?

The Founders knew, from both experience and intellectual honesty, that the answer to both preceding questions is a resounding “No!”

Again, it is clearly understood that the Founders were moral men, and many of them were deeply religious, holding their God, and the principles He inspired, as their moral code for dealing with their fellow man.

Indeed, Jefferson wrote into the Declaration and the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions their commonly held belief that man’s natural rights are derived from God.

Yet, you will notice that the Bill of Rights is NOT a recitation of the Ten Commandments. In fact, many of the principal tenets of traditional Judeo-Christian faith are not even hinted at in any of our founding documents.

The Founders’ stipulation that we should strive to maintain a moral society can be summed up thusly:

That, as free men, we are endowed with certain rights which confer NO obligation on our fellow man, save one: that they refrain from violating them. And we likewise refrain from violating their rights, whether through force or fraud.

The former was the basis for Ayn Rand’s great anti-statist novel, Atlas Shrugged, and was the underpinning of her Objectivist philosophy.

Yet, it should be noted here, she was an avowed atheist. The concept of man’s rights being derived from our Creator did not hold any weight with her. She argued that, simply by virtue of being human, these rights belong to us.

The point is, we can find broad agreement on these simple points, across typical dividing lines of race, religion, and even political loyalty.

Why, then, must we sink into the swamp of arguing over moral issues which are typically the product of religious ideology?

The Founders would be ashamed and saddened to see their writings, and the system of governance they debated over, lost sleep to put into writing, and even bled for, being reduced to the heap of rubble it will surely become.

And all because we refused to rise from the mire of social issues and face our Republic’s true threat: the loss of liberty. This liberty is being taken away from all of us, from pro-life to pro-choice, from recreational drug user to ardent drug prohibitionist, from quiet heterosexual to flamboyant Gay Pride parade organizer.

And it is happening much more rapidly now than ever before.

It had been said, “It’s hard to remember you’re there to drain the swamp when you’re armpit deep in alligators.”

I would submit to you, dear reader, that the alligators are above the shoreline, gnawing away at this great Republic.

Can we commence with draining the Social Issues Swamp? I think you will find that, once we do, those who have been in the swamp with us, mud wrestling over these issues, will pick up shovels and join us in marching as one united force to beat back the alligators.

Once the Republic is secure, maybe we can get back to the Founders’ words, in the Federalist papers and Amendments 9 and 10, and find that we had no reason to be in that swamp in the first place.

In early March, I was invited to join the Tenth Amendment Center as a blogger on their Virginia Chapter site. So far, I haven’t been very prolific there, but I’m hoping to devote more time to it, as I can.

I’ve decided to begin cross-posting here, and may soon undertake similar efforts at the 912 Project fan site.

Without further ado, then, here is the first of many posts for other sites:

By Way Of Introduction

In today’s political landscape, with its constantly-changing dynamics and rhetorically-charged issues, we sometimes narrowly avoid the oak tree right in front of us in our mad dash through the forest, staring only at its canopy. It’s so vast!,we exclaim to ourselves and to anyone within earshot.

Other times, we hurtle right into the broad trunk of that massive oak. Some shake it off and continue dashing around, again only seeing the forest and its canopy that seems precariously close to caving in on them. Perhaps they, like Chicken Little, never realize there even was a tree, instead believing perhaps a chunk of that vast canopy somehow fell down, knocking them flat.

But some of us, as we recover from the impact and pick ourselves up, brushing leaves and debris from our clothing, actually take a step back, stunned, and begin to see the individual trees.

I am neither placing blame on the latter, nor heaping accolades on the former. It’s just how we’re wired. Some can be more effective educating others in generalities, glossing over the finer points to make the expansive ones more accessible. Others tend to focus in on the details, treating each individual issue to its own modicum of respect and pondering its nuances, like a Rubik’s Cube, until a solution presents itself.

It is increasingly rare, these days, to find people who have a firm grasp on both of these techniques. But they are the ones who are most needed now.

The epic battle we are engaged in is not merely a political one. It goes far beyond that. Ayn Rand makes my point eloquently in this quote from her 1974 essay entitled “What Can One Do?”

– “A political battle is merely a skirmish fought with muskets; a philosophical battle is a nuclear war.” –

Make no mistake- the struggle we have joined is primarily a philosophical one. Yes, we need to understand the overall distinctions between these warring philosophies, and there are many sources for this information. But, more importantly (at least in my mind), is seeing the distinctions between the individual trees in this philosophical and political forest.

The latter is what I will be seeking to point out in subsequent posts here. I’m happy to join the Tenth Amendment Center, and you, faithful readers and activists. I hope you will remain active here, and elsewhere, and help others realize the true struggle we face.

The following is the text of the statement delivered by Bradley S. Rees at a press conference Thursday evening. For more specifics on the problems and solutions Bradley speaks of in this statement, please read the October TEA Party speech Bradley has posted.

Thursday night’s statement, in full, is below:

Thanks for coming out here to Bedford County tonight. I grew up not far down 460, over in Appomattox County, and my wife and I moved our little family out here just over 2 years ago.

The reason I called this press conference this evening is simple, but the details are not. I’ll keep this as brief as possible, then open it up for questions.

I have been running for the Republican nomination for the 5th District since December of ’08, but officially only since this past June. During this time I have consistently referred to myself as a “reluctant Republican” and proudly taken on the mantle of the anti-establishment, grassroots candidate. I have been honored to speak at 5 tea parties, and have been invited to speak at several more that I simply could not attend.

It has been a distinct privilege to meet and converse with thousands of 5th District residents, and to have gained their trust, support, and, most of all, their friendship. I sincerely hope that, by the end of this statement, I will retain all of these sentiments from these great people.

But, during this campaign, I have also heard and seen many things within the Republican party establishment, both nationally and locally, that have been a cause for great concern and even, at times, indignation. I have witnessed things that are meant to be kept in the shadows, away from the ears and critical thinking abilities of the populace.

These things, especially how some of the best people I’ve met in this process are viewed by the higher-ups in the party, must be brought into the light of day, sooner rather than later, so that the battle for the soul of the Republican party can be waged, AND WON, before the next election cycle.

As a candidate, within the Republican party, it would be unbecoming for me to bring these hidden sentiments, this intentionally suppressed rift, to the surface. Suffice to say, there are people in this party whose sole concern is political power, all at the expense of core principles.

There are many, both at the national, state, and local levels, whose power-lust and win-at-all-costs mentalities have infected the Republican party like a grotesque and malignant cancer.
They must be rooted out, not to destroy the party, but to reclaim and rebuild it, on the foundation of the core principles it has historically stood on, and that so many of the party elites have so long ignored, and now completely walked away from.

We have seen some of what I’m referring to come into a national spotlight lately. In Florida, moderate Governor Charlie Crist is running for the Senate seat vacated by Mel Martinez, and currently held by one of his own former chief advisors that he appointed. Former Speaker of the Florida House, and a true conservative, Marco Rubio is running for the Republican nomination for the same seat.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has stepped into the primary process (which is not their place, by the way) on behalf of Crist, who fully supports the failed Economic Stimulus from this past February. This is nothing short of arrogance on the part of Republicans at the national level, attempting to dictate to local party members who their nominee should be. And many on the local level are more than happy to go along with these dictates from above.

In New Jersey, there was a primary for the Republican nomination for governor. Chris Christie, an establishment Republican and career politician, beat out the much more conservative Steve Lonegan for the nomination, again with the help of national party members and the Republican National Committee.

Now, a few days away from the election, it appears that Christie will lose, and one of the most corrupt politicians since Richard J. Daley, John Corzine, will retain his residency in the governor’s mansion. The Independent candidate, Chris Daggett, who is more conservative than Christie on many issues, has been surging in the latest polls, and actually has broken out of the ranks of “spoiler” and into the realm of legitimate contender. You can bet that the party establishment is not happy about this turn of events.

And, most recently, the special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District has gained a national spotlight. Career politician and blatant liberal Dede Scozzafava was handed the GOP nod, while Doug Hoffman, a businessman and political outsider, was completely overlooked. Hoffman is now running on the platform of the Conservative Party of New York, and has an excellent chance of winning, over both the Republican and Democrat candidates. In fact, the most recent polls I have seen show him opening up a lead over both the liberal and liberal-lite candidates.

Even with the support of money and influence from the RNC, Newt Gingrich, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, Scozzafava’s ties to the AFL-CIO, ACORN, SEIU, and her support for Card Check and the failed stimulus plan have all exposed her as the liberal-lite politician she truly is. The American people, in these 3 races, are proving that they are tired of the same old party insiders and their political games which routinely foist upon us the “lesser of two evils.”

In the cases of Rubio, Daggett, and Hoffman, the people are being given a true choice, not just what the major parties have attempted to shove down their throats.

And that leads me back to this race, right here in Virginia’s 5th District. Out of 7 declared candidates so far for the Republican nomination, only one has even drawn a comment from the National Republican Congressional Committee, and they sounded very pleased that this person had entered the race. With the track record they have in other races around the country, my question is this: why should we trust THEIR judgment here, in OUR nominating process?

The answer is, quite clearly, We shouldn’t. And so, as in these other races I’ve highlighted, the people deserve a clear choice. I am here tonight to also deliver a message to the 5th District Republican leadership: If you let the powerful D.C. and local party elite dictate the outcome of our nominating process here in the Fighting Fifth, and that nominee is not a principled conservative that we can trust to maintain spinal integrity in Washington, you can count on next year’s general election being identical to this year’s New York 23 and New Jersey Gubernatorial races.

I had hoped the GOP establishment would have learned a lesson in November of 2006. They didn’t. But they had another chance to learn a valuable lesson from a horrible mistake last November, both on the national level AND here in the 5th. The American people are growing weary with career politicians. Here in the 5th, they voted for a fresh face, a political outsider that everyone in the GOP refused to take seriously. Gee, that sounds familiar. I think I resemble that remark!

The point is: They STILL don’t get it. And I fear they won’t wake up before next Spring when they choose their nominees for 2010.

As such, it is my duty to announce that, as of today, I am withdrawing from consideration for the Republican nomination, so that I can devote my time, via my blog and my upcoming radio show, to exposing some of the charlatans and even outright liars who have corrupted the party I would have been proud to represent.

Starting in January, I intend to begin laying the groundwork and getting my support structure in place to run on the Virginia Conservative Party platform. It may amount to only drawing enough votes from the Republican candidate to ensure Tom Perriello a second term. If so, so be it. Maybe then, the party will understand that we are trying to save the GOP from its worst enemy: not the Democrats, but themselves.

I do not plan to do this on a whim, only to be a spoiler, but to give the people a chance to make their voices heard. Those voices will, I fear, be denied at next Spring’s convention, due to deals made in smoky back rooms in the 5th district.

The current acronym for people like Crist, Christie, and Scozzafava, is RINO. Republican In Name Only. That’s why I chose this spot for my press conference tonight. Because, whether the RINO is big or small, it’s still a RINO.

Safari Rees

Going on Safari: Rees Hunting RINOs

Now, as far as I’m concerned, Tom Perriello is a man of principle. He says what he means, and votes that way. I completely disagree with his principles, but I respect him for standing on them. A RINO, on the other hand, cannot be trusted. They will say one thing, when they are at home in the district, then vote the completely opposite way while in the Capitol, dancing with the devil. As Joaquin Phoenix said in the movie 8MM, “When you dance with the devil, the devil don’t change; the devil changes you.”

When you boil everything down, Ronald Reagan was absolutely right when he said that we need to shun the muted pastels and instead embrace bold colors, to clearly delineate the differences in principle between ourselves and the opposing party. This, he said, would revitalize the Republican party, and so it did. I think it would behoove us to once again heed the Gipper’s advice.

My campaign’s main slogan has been, Stand on Principle, or Stand Aside! I think Reagan would agree. And, until recently, when he endorsed Scozzafava, I thought Newt Gingrich would agree, as well. But perhaps Newt danced with the devil a bit too long, as well.

In closing, I started out this campaign with one goal in mind: to prove to the people of the 5th District what they should have learned last November: that it doesn’t take a career politician, a lawyer, or someone with a big-name pedigree to engage the principles and capture the imaginations of the voters. Instead, it takes a firm commitment to principles, against all odds. I never anticipated the level of support I have received over the past 10 months, and I am truly grateful for that.

But my original goal has been achieved. Because of my candidacy, 3 others have joined the race, and they are not politicians, or lawyers, or well-known. But what they ARE means more than all those combined: they are principled conservatives whose love for this country outweighs any party affiliation or loyalty to the elites in the power structure. They are all hard-working family men, and political outsiders. I will be watching their campaigns closely, talking with each of them frequently, and I fully intend to endorse one of them in the coming months, hoping the party will take heed and finally begin to stand on principles.

Thanks for your time, and I’ll open this up to any questions you may have.

Rush Limbaugh correctly pointed out on his show (on 10-22-09) that the statement released by the White House claims “Special Master on Executive Compensation” Kenneth Feinberg made the decision on cutting executive pay on his own, without having to run it past Obama first. This begs the question “just how much autonomous authority do these czars (never subjected to Senate scrutiny) have?”

As distressing as that question and its implications are, it is even more frightening that there is no answer forthcoming (and I wouldn’t suggest holding your breath waiting for one).

One point that Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity ALL failed to make, however, was one that popped in my mind Wednesday evening while watching ABC’s Nightly News reporting on the Pay Czar/Special Master’s announcement. Namely, that this 90-95% pay cut is for the top 25 execs from 7 TARP companies. But, as far as I’ve been able to determine, it states that these cuts are to be applied to base salaries.

Quite a few of these execs are making a base salary of $1 per year. So now they’ll be getting a nickel or a dime per year in compensation? That’s less than Michael Vick was earning per hour IN PRISON! Well, of course that’s not the entire compensation package for these executives. Their main perks come in the form of stock options, retirement plans, and bonuses. Oops! Not BONUSES?! We proved back in March with AIG that we can drum up a hell of a lot of violent faux “populist” outrage with the notion of bonuses!

Here’s my prediction: wait a few months (if that long) and the Congress will start holding hearings where these execs will be grilled (or, more aptly, raked over the coals) by grandstanding Senators raising the banner of righteous indignation over these “greedy profit-mongers” and their “undeserved bonuses.

This entire deal boils down to one larger point: with executive pay limits, and the inevitable future recycled furor over bonuses, the Obama administration gets a two-fer distraction to keep your minds focused on what they want you to focus on. They are magicians of the first order and this is grade-A sleight of hand.

How many balls are in the air right now, and being juggled by this inexperienced clown of a President? Afghanistan, Health Care Reform, Cap&Trade, Card Check, Stimulus 2, Net Neutrality, Executive Pay, Financial Sector Regulatory Reform… The list goes on and on.

We cannot allow them to make us focus on just one of these. We must all be vigilant, tiring though it may be (and by design, I might add. It’s the Chicago way.), and we must all focus on all of it at once.

To reiterate, watch your balls, America. Or, as Uncle Joe Biden would say, “Gird your loins!” ;D

Traditionally, this repost would be in the “National” section, but I’ve decided instead to use it as the main post on the home page here. This was originally published on January 14th of 2009, but it is just as relevant today.

 

It will, sadly, continue to be relevant until we get a grip on our political process. Contrary to popular opinion, our political process is not fueled by money or votes (although it looks that way). The lifeblood of American politics, for at least the last 80 years has been corruption.

 

On Friday, the Illinois legislature voted (nearly unanimously) to impeach embattled Governor “Hot” Rod Blockheadjevich. The reason? U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald’s impending indictment of the Governor on charges of corruption and conspiring to auction off PEBO’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.

 

The “Pay-To-Play” scandal has been headline news around the world for over a month now, with moral outrage and righteous indignation springing up from media organizations and all ends of the political spectrum.

 

My only question is this: What’s all the fuss? “Pay-to-play?” Doesn’t that sum up our entire modern political process?

 

Think about it.

 

You have a Congress with approval ratings below 30%, unemployment worse now than at any point in the last 15 years, and an economy that has been turned on its ear (by bad government regulations and politicians on the dole from the same failing companies whose solid financial footing they testified to just 3 years ago). All of this should add up to chaos, not to mention red-faced fury from the electorate, yet candidates in the last election cycle raised and spent over 2 billion of OUR dollars.

 

And what will be their #1 priority in Washington over the remainder of their terms? Yep, paying back all those big-dollar campaign donors with favorable regulations and government contracts for their friends’ companies. What do you get for the money you sent in? A momentary sense of satisfaction in supporting someone, monetarily and ideologically. Then, reality will set in as you realize that they, like all the rest, will continue the government tradition of confiscating your pay before you even see it.

 

Just something to chew on.

 

 Look, perhaps it’s not quite as obvious as what Blockhead is accused of, but it seems to me that there are actually 537 elected officials in Washington, D.C. whose seats are bought and sold every election cycle. Does it have to be this way? Of course not.

 

But true change does not occur in a vacuum. It requires a significant outside force. I, for one, am proud to be an outsider. Will you join me in being part of the force?