on BS

Well that didn’t take long. The BS has reared its ugly head… you know: the old “bait and switch”. Barely two days after winning his election our Governor Branstad has started pushing for an increase in the gas tax. Even though the majority of Iowans are against it. Even though gas prices have finally come down enough to give middle and lower income families a bit of a break in this still sputtering economy. Even though some have suggested that we look somewhere else in the budget for the money other than the taxpayers’ pockets. It makes me wonder if perhaps I should really be using those other two words that the BS acronym could represent.

Now before any of my fellow Republicans faint from shock that I dare call out the leader of my party, please remember that I have no illusions that under a Democrat Governor we would fare far worse.  However, as one of the state GOP party leaders, my job is not just to get Republicans elected, but to also ensure that Republican principles are supported. Therefore, now that the election is over, the time of accountability for our candidates has come. Just because “our guys & gals” won, does not mean that they get a free pass to violate the very Republican principles on which they ran. Raising taxes without looking elsewhere to decrease spending is not only irresponsible, but an idea more in line with a Democrat party platform than a Republican one. Republicans did not win the day because the people wanted Democrat-lite. They won because the people wanted something completely different.

Iowans are tired of party politicians; we want statesmen. We want those that are willing to roll up their sleeves, come up with creative solutions to problems that don’t involve more personal income sacrifice, and work to bring liberty back to the electorate. We don’t want those who just put a Band-Aid on the status quo. It angers me that the current dip in gas prices is being used as an excuse to justify the timing of a gas tax increase, as if Iowans have nothing better on which to spend their money. We all know that while the lower gas prices are merely temporary, a gas tax increase will be permanent. Government does not have an infinite right to our money, and we would prefer that our elected officials work to bring about a more frugal government, lowering taxes for Iowans, rather than working on excuses to raise them.

I am disappointed that Governor Branstad pulled a “bait and switch”, waiting until after the election to start pushing for the gas tax increase, knowing full well that most are opposed to it. A far wiser solution would be to conduct a full audit of all state departments, and take recommendations from the public and state employees on where the budget could be trimmed in order to shift more funding to Iowa roads and bridges. Legislators in past sessions have come up with ways to do this without raising taxes (sadly these were killed in the Senate by Democrats). Just imagine how much more we could do if we had every Iowan, with experience in every industry, using their knowledge to recommend savings to our state instead of just elected officials and bureaucrats? We would tap into an incredible brain-trust that could not only make our government more efficient, but perhaps even less expensive to run. Iowans prioritize spending in our personal and business budgets every day, and it’s time that we expect our government to do the same. No party should be immune from the scrutiny of the electorate, especially the very one that claims to believe in honor, good stewardship, and constitutional principles.

And if you say that it cannot be done, that it is a pipe dream, that all politicians are the same, I call BS. They are only the same if we let them be. Branstad is violating Republican principles by supporting such foolishness as a gas tax increase; therefore, my fellow Republicans should be the first ones in line to stand up against it. The honoring of principles must always come before the honoring of men. Reversing this order has not only led to the disappointment of the electorate, but also to the tarnishing of the principles themselves. The people are looking for something greater and I believe that the potential to be a statesmen lies within every person we elected on Nov 4th. But until we stand up and stop giving into apathy whenever we get the old “bait and switch”, how will we ever know?

“A politician is a man who will double-cross that bridge when he comes to it.” ~ Oscar Levant (1906-1972), pianist, composer, author, comedian, and actor

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on Housecleaning

This weekend I finally had a chance to get some much needed housecleaning chores done. With the 2014 election over, and the 2016 Presidential dog and pony show not yet begun, I have more free time to conquer the multiplying dust bunnies that are doing battle across my hardwood floors. Yes, my house is at that point where it will take more than just a sweeping glance and a feather duster to hold these at bay. My inattention has created a much bigger job for me now, such that not only will I need to roll up my sleeves, but I’ll probably have to get them dirty as well.

Last week we gave our government its own kind of housecleaning, sweeping away most of the Democrats in what is being called a Republican rout. While some may say this was a referendum on Obama as President, I don’t think that is entirely it. I think this was more a referendum on the progressive model of governance, as Americans finally recognized it for the mess it was. The progressive model mostly lost on Tuesday, while the conservative model won. All across the nation, even in the bluest of states, Democrats were swept out of power, both locally and nationally, as Americans repudiated their model of big government, open borders, amnesty, redistribution of wealth, undermining of religious liberty, gun control, high taxes, stifling regulation, and Obamacare. Try as they might, Americans weren’t buying what the jackass party was selling; no one really believes anymore (if ever) that Republicans are racist woman-haters.  One only needs to look to Mia Love (UT), Rick Scott (FL) and Joni Ernst (IA). That tired, divisive drum beat rose to the level of ridiculous, and Americans saw through the pathetic razzle-dazzle.

That being said, the housecleaning is far from over. As I mentioned earlier, not consistently staying on top of house work merely makes it harder to do later when you finally get around to it. Just because we repudiated the progressive agenda with this election does not mean that the existing and newly elected pols won’t get lazy and ride the compromise couch when it comes to cleaning up D.C. Housecleaning is hard work, and if there is one thing politicians don’t like, it is hard work. Our federal government is long past the point of a superficial dust mop sweep; it’s now at the point where we need to roll up our sleeves and accept the sweat and dirt that comes along with the effort of fixing broken things. Folks, we don’t just need statesmen; we need actively engaged citizens.

There will always be stuff that distract us from the chores of life. There will always be things to do that are a lot more fun and a lot less exhausting (or frustrating). However, there are some chores that are necessary in order to live well and to live free. One of these is the necessary chore of civic engagement. As Americans we cannot ignore our politicians like we can the dust bunnies in the corner. The bad ones need the occasional reminder that we hold the dust mop, and the good ones (i.e. the statesmen) need the occasional polishing of encouragement for a job well done. How can we hope to keep our house in order otherwise?

“Cleanliness is very important. If you let kids make a total mess in the kitchen and then leave, you’re not really teaching them anything.” ~ Emeril Lagasse (b. 1959), celebrity chef, restaurateur, television personality, and cookbook author

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on Discipline

By the time you are reading this, the 2014 elections will be over. Our email and mailboxes will be less cluttered, our trash bins will be less full, and our television screens will be less annoying. I know that you, like me, are breathing a sigh of relief- thank goodness it is over! We can now return to our daily lives, comfortable in knowing that those we elect will do their jobs while we do ours, right?

As you recover from your fit of giggles, we  both know that it is no longer safe to return to the blissful ignorance towards our elected officials as it once was (if it ever was). No matter who wins the election, our job as the electorate has only begun. The hard part of holding these folks accountable now rests on us. ALL of us. Our lack of attention towards the actions of elected officials – in both parties – is what has put us in this mess. It is why so many in government have the attitude of elitist aristocrats towards those they are called to serve. With the rare exception of a few true statesmen, most act like the undisciplined little children of inattentive parents: destructive to a few, costly to many, and irritating to all.

While parents have unconditional love towards their children, we cannot have this same feeling towards those we elect. No one is perfect; we are all lazy, selfish and corruptible in the right circumstances, especially when no one is paying attention. Just like we expect the parents of a child screaming for a toy in Wal-Mart to do something, perhaps rein them in and punish them if necessary, so too is it with politicians. We are the parents and overseers of this great nation, the protectors of both its future and that of our children. We cannot let these political vagabonds run wild and loose, leaving destruction in their wake. We have a responsibility to pay attention, get vocal, and get involved.

Nothing good ever happens without sacrifice, and I suppose that is what I am asking those of you reading this to do. Although we expect those we elect to be true statesmen and women, and get angry when they inevitably fail us, the fault does not just lie with them. It also lies with us. If we are unwilling to do the hard work to hold them accountable, is it really fair for us to expect them to do the harder work of being honorable? Are these men and women somehow made of stronger stuff than we? Do we really think that we are electing gods? And if it’s our expectation that they be so, should we really be that surprised when some forget their place, and start to believe themselves to be our aristocratic masters instead of our humble servants?

The mess we are now in as a nation can be laid at the feet of both parties, as the human temptation to rule usually overpowers the heart to serve. However, an inattentive public, forgetting their responsibilities to “raise up their children in the way they should go”, is also to blame. As citizens of this great nation our responsibilities are not only to our children and communities, but to their future as well. If we continue to ignore the future, in order to enjoy the present, our children’s children will know nothing of the freedoms we have, nor of all the sacrifices made to preserve them. These freedoms have been slowly eroded by an ever expanding government, which only became so due to a populace who failed in their collective duty to watch, and if necessary discipline, their political children.

However, all is not lost. In this generation I am seeing a rising up of those that understand what is at stake, and who desire to get involved in order to stop this march to soft tyranny. They are revaluating their priorities, and are willing to give up some temporary joys in order to ensure a permanent future for the next generation.  Although their work is harder than it should be – for we have neglected our duty as citizens for so long – they are willing to be the forward guard, to take the arrows and stand for those not able (or willing) to do so.  Now the question is, will you join them, and enter the game to beat back those opposed to our Constitutional Republic? If not, how much longer do you think you can remain on the sidelines before the bleachers are pulled out from underneath both you and your children as well?

“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace”. ~ Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, December 19, 1776

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on the Hatch Act

In 1939 the Hatch Act was passed in order to stop corrupt Democrat politicians from using federal government employees to influence congressional elections. At that time, Democrat President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration was using its influence to secure employment for folks in exchange for political contributions for preferred candidates. Decrying such blatant corruption from the liberal executive branch, both the Republican Party and the conservative wing of the Democrat party decided to pass legislation to prevent the federal meddling in elections. The original Act was intended to restrict the political campaign activities of federal employees (elected officials were exempt), including campaigning for office, as well as federal employees using their influence with the promise of jobs, promotions, contracts, etc., in order to influence campaigns.

Over time however, like most laws, the Hatch Act has morphed into something outside of its intent. Since 1939, the definition of “federal employee” has been extended to include any state, county, and city employees where the local government chooses to use federal money to fund 100% of their salary. Therefore, a local Iowa government employee doing local government work, who has no say over who in her department is funded with federal dollars, and who cannot possibly influence a federal election or promise a federal job, can lose her freedom to run for local office if her superiors chose to fund her salary 100% with federal funds. So, in other words, at the whim of management, those of her peers who aren’t 100% federally funded will have more freedom than she will.  Does that seem right and fair?

Why is it that laws intended to stop the corruption of Washington D.C. never really seem to do that, and instead are used against ordinary private citizens, to silence their voice and limit their participation? In fact, many of the recent Hatch Act election violations investigated by the Office of Special Counsel have been focused more on local government races, not federal. So, because our state and local governments decided to whore themselves out to the feds for money- our money no less – our liberty ends up getting pimped. Is anyone else tired of the feds using this as an excuse to continually meddle in our local affairs?

No small town local candidate has money it takes to fight the feds in court. This is why I believe that the Hatch Act is an arcane, unconstitutional law that needs to be repealed, as its original purpose of fighting federal corruption is not being accomplished. Like most federal law, it is not being used to protect us; it is being used to control us. So, while my county Democrats seem perfectly fine spending more of our money and lying prostrate to federal control,, the county Republicans are not. We believe that the final authority always lies with the people, not the feds. We believe that every citizen should have a political voice, and a political choice, and that the feds have no right to take that away from you without constitutional justification. Our Republican candidates believe in liberty, fiscal responsibility, the rule of constitutional law, and that they are the people’s servants, not their masters.

The feds may have intimidated and silenced one of our local candidates who only wants to serve, but do not let them intimidate or silence you. You, the citizen voter, are not bound by the Hatch Act. You are the ultimate authority when it comes to voting for whom you believe will serve us best. Please use it on November 4th, and remind the feds of their place.

“When the most lavishly funded federal government on the planet comes after you, eventual guilt or innocent is irrelevant: the process is the punishment.” ~ Mark Steyn, from his May 31st, 2013 article, The Lois Lerner Defense, which covered the IRS scandal

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on Radicals

Radical  [rad-i-kuh l]: adjective  1) of or going to the root or origin; fundamental 2) thoroughgoing or extreme, especially as regards change from accepted or traditional forms 3) favoring drastic political, economic, or social reforms 4) forming a basis or foundation 5) existing inherently in a thing or person ~ from Dictionary.com

What makes a radical? When you hear that word, what kinds of things are conjured up in your mind? Are they positive, or are they negative? Or perhaps they are both, depending on who or what you are talking about. Looking at the definition of radical above, many things in society today can be considered radical, depending on which side of the political or social norms you reside. For instance, social conservatives see the radicals as those who push norms outside of social or moral traditions. And liberals see the radicals as those who promote traditional morality or individualism instead of what the government or the collective defines as best.

You might be surprised to know that what is considered radical today by liberals, was once the norm not that long ago. And not that long ago, what many liberals consider normal today, used to be considered radical. Basically, being called a “radical” was entirely dependent on the position of the person who is saying it. Yet, in both time periods, there were and are those who exist on neither side, those who live their lives in the nebulous “middle”, those who don’t want to rock the boat, those who don’t want to draw attention, and those who would rather stay out of the fray. Basically, those who want to be left alone.

However, speaking as a former person who liked to dwell in the middle, what most folks there don’t understand is that most of the “radicals” want to be left alone too. The American colonies for instance, just wanted to be left alone by England. They considered themselves English subjects first, but when it became apparent that they no longer had a voice in their own destiny the seed of rebellion was planted. In that time period the idea of independence and self-governance was a radical idea. And in twentieth century America, people were tired of being restricted by gender or color to a mediocre life of less freedom. They wanted access to the same Constitution others had, which at the time was a radical idea. Going a bit further back in history, a man name Jesus rattled the religious elite by espousing the radical idea that you don’t need to jump through a bunch of man-made hoops to access an eternal God in heaven. History reveals to us that great societal change only happened when those who chose to no longer remain in the middle stood up. People who decided that wanting to be left alone was no longer the safest or the freest option. People who wanted a better future for the next generation. While each of these historical examples reveal the different consequences of those choices – one was war, one was persecution, and one was death – the same action was taken by all: they chose to be radical. And they eventually won.

But wait – one might say that there is a negative side to radicalism. Just look at those radical tyrants of history: Caligula. Genghis Khan. Ivan IV. Robespierre. Hitler. Pol Pot. Stalin. Kim Jong Il. The list goes on. However, are they truly the radicals? Or are the radicals those who left the safe submissive middle and resisted their dominion? I am sure that these bloody dictators did not see themselves as the radicals, but those who dared stand against them. One of the greatest temptations of the human heart is the desire for power, money and control over their fellow man. So then, do we now consider those who pursue this dominion over others the norm and those that fight for freedom the radicals?

Mull that over a bit. And then note that history shows us over and over that positive change only came about when a brave few chose to be “radical” and defy tyranny. Evil only flourishes when good people – absent any righteous radicals to challenge them – remain in the middle, risking nothing, saying nothing, doing nothing. So, let us go to the root of the matter: perhaps the real reason most people don’t like radicals is that they make those in the comfortable middle uncomfortable. And after all, who really likes that?

“We have come to a point in time where using common sense, speaking factual truths and asking honest questions have been deemed radical behavior. While in turn, manipulation, thoughtlessness and dishonesty is often rewarded and rules the day.” ~ Gary Hopkins

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