No, not the blog Mason Conservative, I'm still here. My alter ego Chris Beer has moved from Herndon to Mansassas. My wife and I finally cobbled together enough to purchase a nice townhouse in the Bull Run area of Manassas. Best of all, I have signifigantly upgraded my political representation.
Congress: Old: Gerry Connolly, New: Frank Wolf
State Senate: Old: Jennifer Weston, New: Chuck Colgan
House of Delegates: Old: Ken Plum, New: Bob Marshall
Board of Supervisors: Old: Cathy Hudgens, New: Peter Candland
The Plum-to-Marshall move is probably the most drastic you can have.
Bob McDonnell has been found guilty of corruption. I’m still trying to get my head around perhaps the closest thing the GOP has to Boy Scout troop leader being found guilty of any crime. In fact, I’m still not prepared to say that McDonnell was guilty of corruption. I just finished reading Rick Pearlstein’s The Invisible Bridge about the fall of Richard Nixon and the rise of Ronald Reagan. When I read about the true crimes that President Nixon committed, that is corruption. What Bob McDonnell did was make a massive, enormous mistake. I’ve been around the state party long enough to know that Bob McDonnell is no criminal, this is not a man who spent years as a prosecutor, delegate, attorney general, and governor trying to enrich himself. In fact, it seems clear now that McDonnell’s steady rise through the Virginia power structure was done at the expense of enriching himself. My position on this is that McDonnell is guilty of something, it is clear that this snake-charmer Johnnie Williams played on both McDonnell’s weaknesses and plied him with gifts, loans, and a wedding In order to get McDonnell to make personal appeals on his behalf. Should he be staring at a potential 30 year jail sentence for essentially pimping a dietary supplement? No. Flatly, no. I consider McDonnell more guilty of a giant mistake rather than a crime. Federal prosecutors get their rocks off taking the tiniest misdeeds of any politician to put them in jail. I even think McDonnell truly did not realize what he was doing was wrong given the giant chasm between Virginia’s gift laws and federal corruption statutes. I have never heard a Republican that I have ever met say a bad thing about McDonnell personally. He just made a gigantic mistake, but I do think that he must pay a proper price. He’s guilty, just not 30 years of jail time guilty.
What is going to interesting to watch is how this plays out. I’ve found it fascinating that so many elected officials have been quiet. I suspect that every single elected official in Virginia is looking through their campaign ledgers and perhaps realized that if someone looks too close to them the same thing could happen. And if that is the case, then this trial was not all for naught. Separating the sadness I feel for McDonnell, this trial could be a gigantic strike at the crony capitalist that has defined Virginia for generations. For years Virginia has foot the bill to move businesses into the state, oftentimes at the detriment for the taxpayer. The governor’s million dollar slush fund, the Opportunity Fund, is nothing but a way for the state government to buy off businesses and have them come here with deals that no organically grown local business could get. There are the haves and have-nots in Virginia, and it has been decided for years based on who you know. I put this up in a blog post the other day, but the question everyone is avoiding is why Johnnie Williams decided to ply McDonnell and his wife with loans, gifts, and travel? What did they have? What the Governor had at his disposal was oodles of tax dollars to throw around with no oversight. Williams is a leach on society, and it’s a crime itself that he gets away scot-free with what he did.
It’s nothing new for southern states to sell out to big business, it goes back to the Bourbon era back in the 1880s. McDonnell told us from the beginning that he embraced this model with this Bobs for Jobs campaign. He sent Bill Bolling scurrying around the country trying to throw that money in businesses faces to get them to come here. What has happened, like I said before, was Virginia has set up a business structure not based on a free market but on a political market. It’s who you know, not how strong your business is. And if you know the right people, you can get a deal the rest of us cannot. My hope is that with this McDonnell conviction, leaders in the General Assembly will step up not only to close some of these ethical loopholes, but do away with the Governor’s Opportunity Fund. Businesses here should be able to stand up on equal footing with those who have friends in high places. Parasites like Johnnie Williams need to be dealt with, in my opinion, more than fallible politicians like Bob McDonnell.
Gifts and money. Money and gifts. It can all flow with no limit in Virginia and we have seen the hand-wringing by everyone about it. Its a betrayal of the Virginia Way (whatever that is), the nattering nabobs of the press tell us. Let's fix Virginia's ethics, demands Gov. McAuliffe as he vetoes ethics reform. The dirty secret is nobody in Virginia actually wants ethics reform because they all love getting free shit. McDonnell was just dumb enough to get caught.
The real reform that needs to be made must force us to ask a different question that everyone is asking now. What is being asked now is "why is there no limits on gifts?" What we really need to ask is why was Jonnie Williams trying to bribe Bob and/or Maureen McDonnell? Thatis what nobody is really talking about and where the real corruption lies.
Bob McDonnell had at his disposal quite a bit of money in something called the Governor's Opportunity Fund, basically a state-sponsored slush fund that allows him to throw money at businesses. Nobody is talking about that. The difference between what Jonnie Wiliams did and what Bill Bolling was doing for four years as Jobs-Whatever-Fake-Title he had is a crazy and lonely wife. The real reform isn't gifts, the real reform comes from the governor of Virginia having at his disposal millions of dollars to "convince" businesses to move here. Virginia Republicans make a lot of hay, and at times rightfully so, about how this state is great for business. But much of that comes from taxpayer money or sweetheart deals that exempt these businesses from a lot of the regulations local businesses have to endure.
The real corruption is legal and state-sponsored crony capitalism that frankly southern states have used since after Reconstruction to lure businesses here. Part of the governor's job should be to bring businesses here and foster an economic climate hospitable to business. But what Virginia does goes beyond this and vests in one man (or women) the sole power to throw around millions of dollars that opens one up to the slick moves and winning smile of a dietary supplement shyster looking to pocket taxpayer dollars by lavishing gifts and attention on a man and his wife distracted by work, ambition, and loneliness.
It's time to close this Fund and force the state and General Assembly to create a real business climate, not a one-man crony capitalism.
Nobody knows how much farther this is going to go, but it seems pretty clear at least two big names in the Ron Paul for President campaign might be heading to an indictment. It appears that Dimitri Kesari and Jessee Benton bribed a former Iowa state senator to switch sides from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul in the 2012 presidential caucuses. I am currently reading a book about Watergate so as much as I want to say that there is no way Ron Paul himself was involved in this, you never say never until it is all said and done. Lord knows US attorneys love getting their hands on politicians, Democrat or Republican.
There has been a lot of glee bandied about on social media and various conservative blogs who hate everything about Ron Paul and would be just as happy to see every libertarian leave the party. The movement within the GOP has been shockingly successful given it was born out of a quixotic campaign by Paul in 2008. At the end of this year there could be upwards to 20 liberty conservatives in the House to go with the handful that are already in the Senate. For only six years of activism, that is a great showing. Furthermore, on the issues Paul himself ran on, we are seeing the GOP drift into that direction. Audit the Fed has become something many Republicans support, marijuana decriminalization support has grown, respect of civil liberties has shifted, and even some are beginning to question our foreign entanglements.
The lessons from the quick success the movement has had is twofold, and both are wrapped in the Sorenson scandal. The first is the movement is quite young, which means the professionals working for these candidates aren't as sophisticated and don't understand how the game is played. I'm sure things like what Sorenson did happens allthe time, but it is done in a way so nobody gets indicted. Guys like Benton are playing in the majors when really they are AAA ballplayers at best. The second is for the speed in which the liberty movement has made gains within the GOP, it has made A LOT of enemies. The joy among the Paul haters to what has happened to Benton is palpable. The margin of error for the liberty movement is close to nil, as we've seen in states like Iowa, Nevada, and Alaska where the liberty forces took over the state party only to be smacked back down by the establishment by means both nefarious and clever. This is a brutal sport, GOP politics, and the people who have been on top for a long time aren't just going to step aside. They have the money, the power, and greater numbers. For the spectacular achievements this far, there is still a long way to go.
The good news is the one thing that liberty conservatives have on our side is time. We are the future. Our leaders in Congress like Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, Mike Lee, Raul Labrador, along with incoming reps like Dave Brat are in their early 50s or (much) younger. Particularly Amash and Massie have become the vanguard of this movement and their ideas are rising while the tired arguments of the establishment have seen the party lose election after election, year after year.
There are always going to be people in any movement like Kesari and Benton, overzealous at best and outright corrupt at worse, but life goes on. For this liberty movement to be successful it must become more important than anyone one person. It needs to be ideas and not personalities that drive it. Stuff like this happens in every party, all the time but we must be more careful. People on both the right and left are looking to get rid of us and we musn't let consultants dominate this movement the way it dominates both parties establishment.
Let me help educate Sen. Santorum on what Rand Paul is talking about. Non-interventionism is the exactopposite of isolationism. You know what is isolationism? Our current 14 year journey on Middle East intervention and war. Has the rest of the world, particularly Europe, ever trusted us less? Since the end of the Cold War, when has Russia and China felt so emboldened to challenge our interest around the world? Interventionism IS isolationism. It isolates America around the world, and when you combined costly wars that tire the United States with warrant-less illegal wiretapping not only in our own country but with our allies as well, the policies of the DC Foreign Policy Establishment (FPE) are the true isolationists.
Rand Paul is not calling for isolationism or Fortress America or whatever you want to call it. What Rand Paul is saying is we cannot continue to intervene in other countries because the law of unintended consequences has undone whatever good we might have achieved in the short term. In the Bush Era, we decided (with my support, sadly) to spread Democracy to the Middle East based on the Sharansky doctrine outlined in A Case of Democracy that no free and Democratic states go to war with each other. The dictators of the Middle East, some of whom we supported during the Cold War (Saddam, anyone?), we suddenly turned into pro wrestling villains needed to be removed from power because they would supposedly support terrorism. Nevermind the fact that so many terrorists where Islamic radicals perfectly happy to remove these secular dictators and fill that power vacuum with their own radical leadership. In Syria, ISIS is a direct result of the United States supporting the "rebels" against Bashar Assad. Guess who else wants Assad gone? While we damn ISIS for their savagery, bit was the United States that four years ago armed these very same rebels. By creating power vacuums we foolishly thought would be filled by allies of Democracy, we have instead opened up country after country to the rule of Islamic radicals. Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Libya with Syria next.
"Well Chris, what about Israel?"
What about it? The old dictators we have now removed after supporting for a generation with foreign aid understood how the world worked. Despite their talk, the wars in 1967 and 1973 effectively ended any idea of destroying Israel. These guys got the deal, they understood the game. They can bash Israel some for internal consumption but they always left them alone. What I am basically saying is the United States national security interests where better served with the old dictators like Qadaffi, Mubarak, and Assad. It is a terrible choice to make, but there aren't any Thomas Jeffersons in these countries like now. These countries don't have a history of self government like the United States did before our revolution. In fact, so many of these countries are really countries at all. They were constructed at the whim of old European Imperialists. To continue to fight the wars of Woodrow Wilson and David Lloyd George 100 years later is folly. And deadly. I hear over and over from the right that Barack Obama took victory and turned it into a defeat in Iraq. Its partisan revisionism. We only need to look back at our own Revolution to understand why.
Because the war was fought on our land, our army simply had to trade land for time. This is what happened in Iraq. The rebels live there, have always lived there, and will always live there. They can kill and then melt into the population. When I hear brilliant minds like Sean Hannity and Bill Kristol talk about being betrayed in Iraq, its a joke. We would have to stay there in perpetuity to accomplish whatever we wanted to accomplish there. How do we "win" in Iraq? They elect a government we want? Well, what if the ballot was truly open and what the people want is a more fundamentalist government? Look at Egypt, their government was elected. If you argue that Obama lost Iraq, please use the comments section to tell me how we were to "win."
Rand Paul is talking not about isolationism but re-engaging the world as a true leader, not a power searching for war. People on the right like Rick Santorum and the left like Hilary Clinton have come under this bizarre idea that we need to use our military to force our interests. Instead of wars, Paul wants to rethink what our interests are in the first place. Fighting wars for dead European imperialists isn't worth the damage it has done to this country both in our standing in the world and the terrible loss of life of our own.
What we need to do is come home and become a self-sustaining energy producer in oil and everything else to break free of whatever leverage these countries now run by radical Islamists that we inadvertently put int power. We need to rebuild relationships with up-and-coming powers like Brazil, Germany, and India to counter the Islamist-Russia alliance that we could be facing. Lastly, we need to actually engage countries like Iran and create at least a diplomatic relationship in order to make sure we never take each other to the brink. Internal energy production combined with rebuilding the trust of the world will make the United States a true leader in the world and won't let low-rent powers with imperial interests like Russia fill that void.
Remember, if you see a politician that is advocating foreign interventions they are the true isolationists.
Apparently Barbara Comstock, she of the tony McLean suburbs, has never had a job. That according to chauvinist cum congressional Democratic candidate John Foust. I feel bad on a certain level for any female who is a successful Republican. You just can't understand how befuddled liberals get that a successful women like Barbara Comstock, someone who has proven that you canhave it all, is not a liberal. I think there is an actual hatred among liberals for women like Comstock. She undermines everything they say about Republicans. She undermines a war on women narrative, the abortion narrative, even though she has proven you can have it all.
These kind of attacks should make Republicans and Comstock feel good, though. Because winning campaigns don't talk like this.
Not surprisingly, Sen. Emmett Hanger is already a target. Former Augusta county Democratic chair Marshall Pattie, no apparently a Republican trying to run against Hanger from the right, is in. Don't fret though, conservative Augusta county GOP chairman Dan Moxley is running.
What is surprising is that Sen. Steve Martin is getting a primary challenge, from Amanda Chase. From what I can tell, this is a pretty serious challenge and makes for a much more interesting race considering that Martin is hardly an establishment RINO like Hanger.
Libertarian, non-interventionist sites and friends of mine are struggling with this issue. I personally respect Barack Obama for taking his time to make sure this is the right thing to do and we absolutely cannot send troops and get involved in another land war. But these people are so evil that even al Queda has cut ties with them. Think about that.
The larger problem is whyAmerica is having such a hard time with this. It comes down to the fact that our last two presidents have done significant damage to our standing around the world. George W. Bush dragged our European allies into wars they wanted no part of and then Barack Obama approved or escalated nearly every major Bush initiative when it comes to NSA spying. Our allies think we are war lovers who spy on their prime ministers. So we have no standing around the world to rally against this kind of evil. Nevermind our double-dealing in Syria that helped create the ISIS as we know it. We supported the Mujaheddin when the Soviets were around but then backed the dictators who made peace with Israel. We tried to have it both ways and now nobody really trusts us.
ISIS is evil. The are slaughter children and crucifying children. We must stand up and stop them, but we have made it so much harder on ourselves to be the true leader of the Free World. 20 years ago we would have had 10 countries backing us up, no questions asked. I support bombing ISIS, saving lives, but we need a complete reset in foriegn policy in order to reassert our status as a true leader of the Free World.