October 26, 2014

About Phil Tran

Phil Tran is the premier political consultant and web developer for pro-life female candidates and elected officials in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. He is a political independent.

Corry Bliss, the Kim Kardashian of the GOP

Kim Kardashian has no talent and became famous in an amateur film that depicts her getting screwed. Corry Bliss is a nationally known Republican political operative who is famous for getting his candidates…screwed.

Ever since Corry Bliss became a consultant and a campaign manager for Republican candidates, he has always found a way to lose.

Thelma Drake for Congress 2008 (Virginia) – Lost to Glenn Nye. Bliss’ understudy here, Seamus Owens, lost with Jay O’Brien for State Senate 2007, Marianne Horinko for State Senate 2009, and Miller Baker for State Senate 2011.

Kerry Bolognese for Delegate 2009 (Virginia) – Lost to Dave Marsden in the general election in 2009, the same year Republicans trounced Democrats across the board. Bliss’ understudy Justin Shaffer would go on to work for Kerry Bolognese’s losing effort in the 2010 special election for the same seat against Eileen Filler-Corn. This understudy would follow Bliss to Vermont…

Brian Dubie for Governor 2010 (Vermont) – “Corry Bliss took a candidate that was up 20 points and turned him into a loser by election day,” said Bradford Broyles, a Republican activist from Mendon, a town in the central part of the state, near Killington. “We’re still repairing the damage to the Republican party.”

http://courantblogs.com/capitol-watch/linda-mcmahons-campaign-manager-had-a-controversial-past-in-vermont/

John Stirrup for State Senate 2011 (Virginia) – I am just going to quote myself here. See below.

http://chesapeakeliaison.com/2011/08/14/2011-primary-picks/

http://chesapeakeliaison.com/2011/08/24/13sd-analysis/

Bliss’ understudy here, Ryan Terrill, would follow Bliss the rest of the way, but not without losing races of his own including Laura Neuman for Anne Arundel County Executive 2014 (took a Maryland statewide favorite and “rising star” and ran the campaign into the ground, thus forcing his mid-campaign ouster) and Joe Leibham for Congress (lost the primary).

Linda McMahon for U.S. Senate 2012 (Connecticut) – Bliss tried to deceptively link McMahon to Obama in a year Obama won by a landslide. McMahon still lost.

Joe May for Delegate 2013 (Virginia) – Bliss tarnished the image of a Virginia gentleman and lost in a primary to far-right extremist anti-public transportation bully Dave LaRock. Virginia is much worse because of this.

Karen Handel for U.S. Senate 2014 (Georgia) – Handel was an afterthought and finished 3rd in the primary.

Pat Roberts for U.S. Senate 2014 (Kansas) – To be determined, but this is a very negative campaign that is alienating a lot of people.

In just about every instance, Bliss employed his trademark dark, deceptive, and deathly negative campaign tactics. A Pat Roberts win, if Bliss can attain it, will not repair the smoldering wreckage Bliss has left behind for the candidates and the country to fix.

Likewise, to illustrate the incestuousness of the campaign world – that is every bit as incestuous as the Cocktail Party establishment crowd Inside the Beltway, everywhere Bliss goes, he takes his whole crew with him. Chris LaCivita is always the general consultant. Vince Harris is always the web designer and digital director. Ray Allen’s Creative Direct is always the direct mail firm (this is the same Ray Allen who is responsible for Eric Cantor’s demise as his campaign manager). Add an unimpressive crew of permanent underlings properly schooled in Bliss’ negative campaigns and negative personal demeanor like Ryan Terrill and Patrick Lee (who has a losing record of his own in Virginia – Will Nance for State Senate 2009, Samantha Rucker for School Board 2010, Pat Herrity for Congress 2010, Cory Stewart for Lieutenant Governor 2013) and you have an F Troop cast of characters who can’t hit a stationary target at point blank. It is a losing tradition.

In their defense, if Republicans are stupid enough to hire Corry Bliss and give him a six-figure salary and a blank check for staff, these hanger-on consultants stand to make an easy $10,000+ every year simply by sticking up for a victimizer known for his fierce loyalties to his peers. It is nice work if you can sell your soul for it.

Read more:

http://thevpo.org/2014/09/06/a-familiar-face-is-sent-to-the-rescue-in-kansas/

http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/inside-chris-lacivita-s-plan-to-save-pat-roberts-20141023

Mitt Romney will NOT unite the GOP

Like a parasite that just won’t go away, one-time failed U.S. Senate candidate, one term Massachusetts Governor, and two-time failed Presidential candidate Mitt Romney keeps coming back for more. As if prideful ambition was not bad enough, Romney’s diehard supporters from the elitist, exclusive, privileged Cocktail Party wing of the GOP keep building him up like a golden calf in the desert.

Some Republican elected officials of the Cocktail Party persuasion (The “Establishment”) are delusional enough to believe that perennial candidate Mitt Romney can be a unifying force in a deeply fractured party and that he should run for President again in 2016.

It is laughable that Mitt Romney can be a unifying force for the GOP when many of his diehard supporters quietly or openly harbor contemptuous, condescending disdain for Sarah Palin Republicans and Ron Paul libertarians and wish to drive them out of the party.

Don’t believe the Cocktail Party’s rhetoric of “unity”. They are interested in “uniting the party” only if they or their buddies are the nominee in order to secure the votes they need to win so that they and their incestuous Cocktail Party buddies can once again have access to power and privilege in the White House and on Capitol Hill. Beyond that, they will never give libertarians and working-class, populist, blue collar Republicans a seat at the table or staff jobs in the White House and the Hill. Cocktail Party incest and groupthink is killing the movement.

Maybe a third Romney loss is what the GOP needs in order to completely discredit the Cocktail Party Establishment so Republicans can clean house and start anew with fresh young talent not beholden to the traditional power brokers of Washington.

Tea Party defeats Cocktail Party

The Tea Party and libertarian-backed Dave Brat defeated House Majority Leader, next-in-line for the Speakership, and Establishment crony Eric Cantor tonight. This is a victory for the blue collar common folk over the white collar, insular, neocon, out-of-touch, inside-the-Beltway Cocktail Party.

Ideology was not the sole factor in Cantor’s demise. Cantor became a creature of Washington and no longer fit in with nor related to his constituents. Think about it. Was there anything about Eric Cantor’s persona that uniquely represented central Virginia? No. When you think of Eric Cantor, you think of a creature of Washington paying his dues, playing nice, playing the game, following the script, and waiting for his turn to be Speaker of the House.

Americans are tired of politicians going to Washington or Capitol Hill staffers/lobbyists going “home” in order to go back to Washington as Members of Congress to hobnob with their elitist, exclusive, insular, and incestuous group of friends in fancy offices and expensive restaurants. As my fellow blogging compatriot said, this is about “cool kids vs. outcasts”, “insiders vs. outsiders”, “white collar vs. blue collar”, “Fraternities vs. Independents”, “wine vs. beer”, “The Monocle vs. Cracker Barrel”, “clean hands vs. calloused hands”.

There is hope for the rest of us when an unknown, underfunded candidate at a 40-1 fundraising disadvantage can force the House Majority Leader, next-in-line for Speaker of the House (3rd highest post behind the Vice-President), and 14-year incumbent to spend over $5,000,000 running a negative attack campaign in a state-sponsored primary designed to benefit incumbents with huge war chests only to lose 55%-45% on Election Day.

Believe in America. The American Dream is alive and well.

The folly of Maryland’s Conservative Victory PAC’s foray into Virginia

In the summer of 2013, former Bush Administration official Chuck Floyd launched Conservative Victory PAC with a strictly defined goal of increasing Republican numbers in the Maryland General Assembly. With 7 more Senators and a few more Delegates, the Maryland GOP could exert quite a bit of influence despite still being in the minority. A flashy video and a campaign plan set the stage at the PAC’s launch party in Potomac, MD.

Conservative Victory PAC will work to increase Republican numbers in the Maryland General Assembly by first…going to Virginia to help elect Ken Cuccinelli as Governor???

Of course, questions to Floyd were asked immediately. “Why are we financing Virginia’s elections? They can take care of themselves. We need to keep Maryland donor money in Maryland!” (I agree.)

Conservative Victory PAC’s line of reasoning was that they wanted to do two things in Virginia to supposedly benefit Maryland. First, they wanted to hold fundraisers in Virginia in 2013 to build a donor list that they could use to help finance Maryland races in 2014. Second, they hoped that a show of commitment from Maryland donors and activists for Virginia Republicans would necessitate Virginia Republicans repaying the favor by sending donations and activists to Maryland in 2014.

Both points are interrelated so I will address them as one. These ideas are utterly laughable.

I have worked in Virginia politics. There is a waterfall of utter disdain and contempt from Virginia Republicans toward the great State of Maryland. The constant barrage of negativity from Virginia Republicans against Maryland makes a proud Marylander with tons of Maryland friends and fun times in the state want to cut his wrists.

I have had countless conversations with Virginia activists over the years and have heard more stump speeches from Virginia politicians mentioning Maryland than I care to recount. What do Virginia Republicans truly wish for Maryland? Virginia Republicans want Maryland to die so that they can siphon away all of Maryland’s Republican voters to shore up their own at-risk Congressional seat in the 10th District, to quixotically have a shot at defeating Gerry Connolly in the 11th District, and to try to retake the statewide offices. That is what Virginia Republicans truly want to happen to Maryland.

Even if Conservative Victory PAC provided the needed resources that were a determining factor to put Ken Cuccinelli over the top in 2013, Virginia Republicans were never going to repay the favor. They have their own Congressional races and U.S. Senate race to consume their time in 2014.

Was there a hidden motivation for Conservative Victory PAC’s foray into Virginia in 2013? Could the fact that two of its board members – Lynne Blankenship and Chris Melling – live and work in Virginia have anything to do with this misguided foray into Virginia by a supposedly Maryland-focused PAC? (Trojan Horse alert!)

Also, Conservative Victory PAC has been noticeably absent from the Maryland General Assembly races in 2014, contrary to their stated commitment to such races exclusively back in 2013.

With no outside help and no reinforcements from the RNC, the Maryland GOP has continued to make strides in the right direction in recent years at the local level where it counts the most. There is a healthy and growing farm team of Republicans in Maryland and Maryland did not need Virginia’s help to make that happen.

Give credit to the Democratic Party. The Democrats truly care about all 50 states and will stand their ground to fight for their values in every state, even against insurmountable odds. “Moving” is not in the Democratic vocabulary. I know. I spent a large chunk of my political life working with Texas Democrats.

Republicans, curiously despite being advocates of “stand your ground laws”, have a penchant to flee their home states at the first implementation of liberal government policies. That is not a recipe for long term party growth. Republicans will never see national electoral success on the level with Democrats in the modern era if they continually write off California, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, DC, and Maryland as “lost causes”. Democrats are fighting tirelessly in Texas as Republicans retreat from Democratic states. It is game over for the Republicans if Democrats succeed in flipping Texas in the next ten years.

This is why it is important for Republicans in Democratic states to recruit, equip, and elevate homegrown talent. People who have a longstanding, emotional connection to their home state (and folks like me who will relocate to Maryland in due time!) will be most fit to serve in a disadvantageous political climate. One of the best decisions the Maryland GOP has made in recent years was to start hiring in-state. In-state talent inside the Maryland GOP headquarters has proven to be more loyal, effective, and passionate than the out-of-state hired guns of the past who viewed Maryland as a stepping stone at best for their political careers. Maryland is a neglected and ignored neighbor in the RNC’s own backyard. This actually provides us with the prime opportunity to set an example on how to build a state party free from the RNC’s interference and cronyism.

I believe that each state’s politics generally exist as an independent unit largely unaffected by the political winds of neighboring states. All politics are local after all. It is true that Virginia is less liberal than Maryland. However, that does not mean that should the Republican Party in Virginia establish total dominance in the Commonwealth, that it would create a “rising tide that lifts all boats”.

In the alternative, if state politics are interrelated in some form or fashion, the following would be true. A Democratic Virginia would help build a more Republican Maryland. It would actually be in the best interests of Maryland Republicans to NOT help Virginia and let Virginia succumb to Democratic dominance. With no strong Republican neighbors, the RNC would have no choice but to be fair to all neighboring states with its time and money earmarked for local support. If Virginia was a solidly Democratic state, Republicans relocating to Washington for work would find Maryland more attractive and settle there. Some would plant roots and even register to vote as Republicans in Maryland. A Democratic Virginia will help build a Republican Maryland.

In the interim, let Virginia be the Washington GOP Establishment’s damsel in distress. As we speak, RNC and RPV efforts to hold Republican seats have become much tougher as known Republicans have moved out of Virginia since Terry McAuliffe’s election and as reports indicate that most new residents in Virginia in recent years are Democratic.

Maryland Republicans should be fully committed and invested in their home state. Focus on Maryland and Maryland alone. There is progress being made and if done properly, Maryland could be a true two-party state in ten years while Virginia becomes a solidly Democratic state.

Virginia – sell high. Maryland – buy low.

Red Maryland. Blue Virginia.

No, I am not referring to premiere political blogs of the same name. By the end of 2014, there is a small, but very much realistic possibility that we may see a Red Maryland and a Blue Virginia. Let us take a brief overview.

All Politics Are Local

All politics are local. National trends matter, but in the end, all politics are local. Weird things can happen within a state’s election results that will not be explained neatly within the confines of national trends and the limited knowledge of a national talking head on television. Yes, some of these guys are real con men getting paid 6 to 7 figures for talking political nonsense on television. Remember how Karl Rove and others of his ilk got egg on their face in 2012 prematurely writing about the end of Obama’s presidency?

Republican Bob Ehrlich won the race for Governor of Maryland in 2002. He defeated a Kennedy in his race – Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. The Ehrlich-Steele ticket was also one of the most competitive showings for a Republican statewide campaign in the dense and heavily Democratic Montgomery County garnering over 113,000 votes. Being able to secure close to 40% of the vote in Montgomery County was the difference maker in the election for Ehrlich.

Meanwhile, Connie Morella, the longtime Republican incumbent in Montgomery County’s Congressional District lost. Bob Ehrlich and Connie Morella may both be Republicans, but that is where their commonality ends.

Bob Ehrlich is as conservative as you can be in Maryland. His voting record is much more pro-life than he claims to be. Ehrlich is a cultural conservative. In Ehrlich’s recent book which he wrote without the assistance of a co-author or ghostwriter, the chapter entitled “An Insecure Culture” is actually longer and more detailed than the chapter on national security.

Connie Morella is a liberal Republican that would make Nancy Pelosi blush. She supports abortion rights, strict gun control measures, progressive environmental regulations, government funding of contraceptives, needle exchange programs for drug addicts, and legalization of medical marijuana. Morella also opposed many tax cuts, opposed the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and opposed the Iraq War in 1991 AND 2002.

Why did conservative Bob Ehrlich win statewide in his first race for Governor in a Democratic state when longtime Congressional incumbent Connie Morella lost her reelection bid running on her liberal record in a liberal district?

All politics are local. Coattail effects don’t always materialize because each campaign needs to be viewed in the context of its own campaign.

A gubernatorial race is a state matter. In 2002, many Marylanders were upset about the direction of the state. After eight years of Parris Glendening’s Democratic administration, many Marylanders felt it was time for a change. Bob Ehrlich took advantage of this opportunity and presented them with the change they wanted. As a Congressman from Baltimore County, Ehrlich ran on his conservative voting record in Congress and promised Marylanders the change they wanted in Annapolis. Also, so goes Baltimore County, so goes Maryland. Every time a Republican has won statewide in Maryland, Baltimore County has voted for that Republican. Baltimore County is a swing district and a bellwether for the state of Maryland. It certainly helped that Baltimore County overwhelmingly voted for one of their own to be the Governor of Maryland.

A Congressional race is a national matter. In 2002, many Marylanders were upset with Congressional Republicans as they were simultaneously upset with Democratic Governor Parris Glendening. The Bush Administration was beginning to plan for the invasion of Iraq. Tom Delay was a very unpopular figure.

Democratic State Senator Chris Van Hollen ran his Congressional campaign against Connie Morella by repeating this one phrase. “A vote for Connie Morella is a vote for Tom Delay.” The Van Hollen campaign knew that even though Morella was a Republican, she was highly popular with Democrats and was able to easily win reelection every two years since her first election in 1986 because she was a liberal’s favorite liberal. The way to convince Democrats to stop crossing over to vote for Morella was to tie her to Tom Delay.

Never mind that in 1997, Morella voted “present” on the issue of the Speaker of the House, thus denying Newt Gingrich her vote. Never mind the countless instances in which she openly challenged GOP leadership. She was a Republican. Tom Delay is a Republican. Therefore, Morella has to go.

The line worked. Van Hollen won a close election. It also helped that redistricting added nine Prince George’s County precincts where Connie Morella was unknown and Van Hollen ran up the score in PGC.

2014

Fast forward to 2014. Virginia does not have state and local elections on the ballot. There is one U.S. Senate seat up for grabs and all Congressional seats are up for election. Virginia Republicans, who already have a tendency to make state and local elections about Washington, have nothing but federal elections on the ballot with the U.S. Senate race as the marquee event. In an increasingly blue Virginia, Republicans are running against Barack Obama. Make no mistake. President Barack Obama is still a highly popular cultural icon in many segments of the population. Republicans thought that they could unseat Obama in 2012 and were absolutely convinced it would happen. It did not happen. Running against Obama in 2014 in order to maintain and pickup Congressional seats should not be viewed as a solid strategy.

Additionally, while Republicans are expected to flip some U.S. Senate seats, the U.S. Senate seat in Virginia held by Mark Warner is consistently rated as the least likely to flip in 2014 along with Minnesota. Al Franken is running for reelection in Minnesota. That Minnesota U.S. Senate seat will remain Democratic. Mark Warner is running for reelection in Virginia. Mark Warner continues to enjoy broad support from Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

Maryland, on the other hand, does not have a statewide federal election on the ballot. The marquee event is the gubernatorial race. Much of the Congressional races are so heavily gerrymandered to one party or the other that they are an afterthought. All focus is on state and local issues.

This is where Republicans have a window of opportunity in Maryland. Over 50 percent of Marylanders think the state is heading in the wrong direction. When Bob Ehrlich was elected Governor in 2002, the number of dissatisfied Marylanders was actually 39 percent. Many Democrats have soured on Martin O’Malley’s tax hikes and are willing to give Republicans a shot. Republicans are fielding legitimate contenders to flip State Senate and House of Delegates seats. Republicans are fielding candidates at the local levels to build on recent successes at the local level.

Unknown to most observers is that the majority of the counties in Maryland are now dominated by Republicans. In a state where Democrats have had a stranglehold throughout all of the political party realignments in American history, the Maryland GOP is quietly building a farm team for higher office. At the level of government that is closest to the people, Marylanders are starting to learn directly how Republican polices can improve job growth, public education, and the quality of life in their home counties. If you want to know about the long term health of a state political party, don’t look at the top. Look at the bottom. The local level is the foundation. The local level is the here and now and the future.

Inside Baseball

In regard to internal party issues and “inside baseball” matters, the differences between RPV and MDGOP could not be more stark. The Republican Party of Virginia continues to deal with civil war between grassroots insurgents of the Tea Party and the refined, polite establishment figures of the cocktail party (Editorial: The latter descriptor of the Establishment is NOT a compliment.). There are activists who will not lift a finger to help a nominee because figuratively speaking, the nominee drinks wine while the activist drinks beer.

[Note: Establishment/moderate vs. Tea Party/conservative is a false dichotomy. There are Establishment Republicans who vote like Tea Party people and there are Tea Party people who care more about promoting themselves than conservative principles. The real battle here is cultural. It is between the grassroots who are the kids loitering outside the school on their skateboards while the Establishment is sitting inside the air conditioned school at the “cool kids table” and enjoy favoritism in the classroom as “teacher’s pets”. [Editorial: The writer takes no sides in this debate.)]

However, on the prettier side of the Potomac, the Maryland GOP is showing a great deal of unity compared to the tenure of previous Chairs and Executive Directors which was often marked by fracture and fleecing. Current Chair Diana Waterman and Executive Director Joe Cluster are Marylanders invested in Maryland. They are working to empower candidates so they can spread common sense policies to move the state forward. They are not using their titles to check off a box for their own political ambitions or agenda and, just as important, they are not mouthpieces or puppets for any faction of the GOP. Everyone is focused on electing a Republican Governor and increasing Republican numbers in the General Assembly. The MDGOP leadership has also built a team of grassroots advisors to do yeoman’s work behind the scenes and start preparing for the numerous City and Town Council elections in 2015 to solidify the party’s foundation and create a formidable farm team to draft candidates for 2016, 2018, and beyond.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. The MDGOP is in better health for the long term than the RPV is. Many events can happen between now and Election Day 2014 and let us not forget the fact that the MDGOP faces more electoral disadvantages than the RPV does. However, anything can happen. If the MDGOP continues to press forward in unity while the RPV is mired in strife at all levels, don’t be surprised if we see a Red Maryland and a Blue Virginia after the election.

Mitt Romney just won’t go away

Mitt Romney, the worst Republican Presidential nominee since Wendell Wilkie, is the gift that just keeps on giving. From Redstate:

When conservative candidates lose their bid for elected office, they tend to fade away from public life and are never heard from again. But for Rockefeller Republicans, losing an election is evidently a resume enhancer for them to continue advising and interfering with Republican politics and policy…

Not only did he lose the election to Obama, [Mitt Romney's] status as the grandfather of government-run healthcare completely took the issue of Obamacare off the table for two years – until Senator Ted Cruz and other conservatives were able to bring the issue back to the forefront of political discourse.

Many of us thought Romney would recede back into private life and enjoy his affluent retirement lifestyle and his close-knit family. Instead, he has slowly crawled his way back into public life and is trying to become the kingmaker of the Republican Party. A one-term governor of a liberal state with a moderate record, Romney has never fought and bled for the conservative cause. He has never accomplished anything to earn him the right to play the role of elder statesman in the party…

http://www.redstate.com/2014/05/09/mitt-romney-severe-conservative-just-wont-go-away/

That Mitt Romney is still relevant in Republican circles illustrates the cultural proclivities of the Republican “Establishment”. The Establishment does have a number of white collar anti-Tea Party conservatives with hardcore conservative Tea Party voting records. I would never paint the entire Establishment as a bunch of moderates because that is actually not true on the whole despite their acceptance of Rockefeller Republicans.

What separates the Establishment from the Tea Party is the fact that they welcome any and all politicians who adhere to their cultural norms. Washington cocktail party circuit. 5 star restaurants. Nantucket getaways. Starched white shirts and white collar jobs. Well-coifed hair. Exclusive parties with Inside the Beltway “celebrities”. Elite northeast private school education. If you vote like a RINO and act like the Establishment, you are welcome in the Establishment. If you vote like the Tea Party but act like the Establishment, you are welcome in the Establishment.

Politics is tribal. A hardcore conservative Republican of the Washington Insider persuasion may disagree with Mitt Romney on several fundamental issues, but will ultimately carry water for him and adhere to his talking points because Mitt is “one of them”.

Sarah Palin was never “one of them”. She is blue collar. She went to junior college and later graduated from Idaho. She does not care to cozy up to the Washington elite. She doesn’t go to exclusive parties and wine and cheese receptions on the Hill. She doesn’t eat foie gras. She eats food she hunts. She hurt her potential after 2008 by refusing to play the game and be “one of them” in a cultural sense.

Washington Establishment Republicans culturally have more in common with John Kerry than they do with “Joe Six-Pack”. While some Washington Establishment Republicans may vote like “Joe Six-Pack” they will always rather have a glass of wine (not beer) with John Kerry/Mitt Romney than the uncouth, unwashed masses.

Wholesale change with Republicans in Washington starts with culture, not ideology. Want a Republican Party that is more Main Street than K Street? Change the culture. Empower blue collar folk to win elected office on Republican principles and groom them for higher office. Washington Republicans will become more representative of the people when it looks more like Southeast DC and less like Northwest Washington.

Roy Moore (R-AL): An embarrassment to social conservatism

Roy Moore, of the Ten Commandments controversy is back on the headlines. The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court claims, among other things, that because Buddha did not create human beings, the First Amendment only protects Christians.

Social conservatism is quickly dying out in a rapidly secularizing, Western Europe-like America. This is of great concern to honest social conservatives whose motivation to participate in politics is rooted more so on social issues than on fiscal issues. Social conservatives should be even more concerned that bad actors on the fringe are unknowingly aiding and abetting the rise of a socially liberal, fiscally conservative Republican Party.

If social conservatives do not police those who claim to stand up for social conservatism, there will no longer be any party in America that will represent their voices. There will only be a socially liberal, fiscally liberal Democratic Party and a socially liberal, fiscally conservative Republican Party.

Let’s analyze Roy Moore’s idiocy play-by-play.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/05/02/alabamas-chief-justice-buddha-didnt-create-us-so-first-amendment-only-protects-christians/

Speaking at the Pastor for Life Luncheon, which was sponsored by Pro-Life Mississippi, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court declared that the First Amendment only applies to Christians because “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures” who created us.

Roy Moore spoke at a pro-life luncheon. This is why pro-lifers can’t have nice things.

Also, the First Amendment applies to everyone.

“They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship,” he continued. “Let’s get real, let’s go back and learn our history. Let’s stop playing games.”

The first settlers may not have brought the Koran over, but they were certainly part of warring Christian denominations who wanted religious freedom for themselves and not for others. Baptists, Quakers, Presbyterians, Methodists, Anglicans, and Lutherans did not get along with each other in Europe and none of them got along with Catholics.

He then noted that he loves talking to lawyers, because he is a lawyer who went to “a secular law school,” so he knows that “in the law, [talking about God] just isn’t politically correct.” He claimed that this is why America has “lost its way,” and that he would be publishing a pamphlet “this week, maybe next” that contained copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, thereby proving that all the people “who found this nation — black, white, all people, all religions, all faiths” knew that America was “about God.”

Sometimes I feel like social conservatives hold the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, man-made documents inspired by rebellion and by a failed government in the Articles of Confederation respectively, in much higher esteem than the Bible, the inspired, infallible Word of God. It is like they would replace the Pauline letters in Scripture with Thomas Jefferson if they could.

Speaking of Thomas Jefferson, the first non-Christian President in America (His Deism and denial of the basic tenets of historical, Biblical Christianity would place him outside.) was a staunch defender of religious liberty and would argue that America was for everyone whether they believed in God or not.

Chief Justice Moore later defined “life” via Blackstone’s Law — a book that American lawyers have “sadly forgotten” — as beginning when “the baby kicks.” “Today,” he said, “our courts say it’s not alive ’til the head comes out.”

Pro-life arguments stand up just fine with the backing of medical professionals. Moore does not need to counter judge-made law with the words of another lawyer whose popularity is found exclusively in law schools. Blackstone. Really?

“Now,” he continued, “if technology’s supposed to increase our knowledge, how did we become so stupid?” Discussing Thomas Jefferson’s use of “life” in the Declaration of Independence, he said that “when [Jefferson] put ‘life’ in there, it was in the womb — we know it begins at conception. Why aren’t we going the right way instead of the wrong way?”

“Now if technology is supposed to increase our knowledge, how did we become so stupid?” Good question, Roy. Look in the mirror.

He later said that “you can’t be happy unless you follow God’s law, and if you follow God’s law, you can’t help but be happy.”

Actually, Roy, you don’t have to follow God’s law to be happy. Jesus Christ fulfilled Old Testament prophecies and established the new covenant. No longer are we bound by the law, but we are saved by grace. St. Paul stood up to the Pharisees and spoke at length about this in his letters. All legitimate mainstream Christian denominations – Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, etc. – have always taught first and foremost that we are justified by faith. We are all sinners and there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. That is why Jesus Christ paid the debt we could not pay on the cross and rose again on the third day in fulfillment of the Scriptures. You can follow God’s law if you want. You have free will to do so, but if you do not have faith, it is pointless.

“It’s all about God,” he continued. “We’ve made ‘life’ a decision taken by man,” he said, and “taken ‘liberty,’ and converted it to ‘licentiousness. We’ve taken ‘pursuit of happiness,’ and reduced it to materialism.”

This statement is actually true. Libertine materialism is hurting American culture. Unfortunately, it was spoken by a person with zero credibility so him saying this is a major setback to all pro-lifers who are working tirelessly to change hearts and minds on the issue. People like Roy Moore prey on vulnerable populations, the elderly, and low-information voters and cause them to give their limited resources to fund legal defense teams instead of donating to honest Christian groups to advance their charitable work. Lawyers get rich. Christian stewards get poorer.

The Republican Party will abandon social conservatism in ten years out of electoral expediency. If social conservatives do not get their act together and find fresh new faces to advocate for the movement amidst insurmountable challenges, they will have zero representation in America’s two-party system.

Deadbeat Politicians: Meyer Marks (R-MD)

Blacklisted: Meyer Marks (R-MD)

My friend Joe Steffen wrote this great piece exposing Meyer Marks’ denial of payment to a vendor for services successfully rendered. Meyer Marks, who was once a Maryland gubernatorial candidate and is now a State Senate Candidate, enlisted the services of the talented Tex Fischer for his short-lived gubernatorial campaign. Tex charged Meyer $500 for a website, which is a ridiculously low price for a man of his skill set. After Tex successfully completed his work in building a pro-quality website for Meyer, Meyer flatly refused to pay him. Read Joe’s article for the full details.

This is personal for me. Tex Fischer, like yours truly, is a fellow web designer. He is a good one too, who really should be paid a lot more than what he is currently being paid by clients. As vendors and consultants, we have been screwed by too many clients and campaign managers, even with written agreements. In fact, being screwed once is one too many times.

If you go to a restaurant and eat without paying, do you think you can walk away a free man? No. The restaurant will alert the police and you will face prosecution.

Why does the public tolerate campaigns that use and abuse vendors and consultants and refuse to pay them in the end? The sad fact is that some of the good politicians who deserve respect are as deadbeat as the bad ones. Sometimes it is not really the politician who stands in the way of payment but it is the campaign manager or chief of staff who is stiffing the vendor. It is the same thing in the final analysis.

You would think that politicians in a party that purports to support hard work and small businesses would pay vendors and consultants their full market value correctly on time. This is not the case in too many instances. If legal action is an ineffective deterrent because it is too costly for the vendors and consultants, public shame needs to be left on the table as a deterrence.

Meyer Marks is blacklisted.

You can’t go home again

20060726-001In 2006, I came to DC to work on Capitol Hill for Congressman Chet Edwards (D-TX), a real standup guy for whom I worked two hard fought Congressional campaigns before coming home to DC. Later, I would work two separate stints with the House Veterans Affairs Committee (Democratic Staff).

Several activities were part of my lunch routine. Chet’s office was in the Rayburn House Office Building so the Rayburn Cafeteria was the usual hangout. The House Veterans Affairs Committee, situated next door to the iconic Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), occupied the 3rd floor of Cannon House Office Building with a long balcony facing the Capitol. It was prime House Office Building real estate. Lunches at the Longworth House Office Building were the norm there, but in the summer months, office picnics on the balcony were always a treat.

Sometimes, I would skip lunch and take a stroll around the House and Senate office buildings and the Capitol building. The views are great, there is much to explore, and the tourists wonder if you are somebody important! The place has an indescribable aura and even a unique smell that doesn’t change!

If I ever wanted to eat lunch offsite when I was working on the Hill, I would go to Cosi located at 301 Pennsylvania Avenue SE. The food is good. The wi-fi is reliable. The upstairs section has sofas where you can tuck yourself away in a corner, work on your computer, and admire the view through the windows.

Fast forward to 2014. Chet Edwards lost his reelection bid in 2010 and is no longer on the Hill. Capitol Hill does not feel the same for me without Chet around.

Also, Cosi on Capitol Hill closed in January 2014 after 15 years of service on the Hill.

Much of my youth as it pertains to Capitol Hill is gone and the nostalgia is hard to recapture. I guess you can’t go home again.

“You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood…back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame…back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.” – George Webber in Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again”

Draft Dave Albo for Congress (VA-8)

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I urge Delegate Dave Albo to run for the open U.S. House of Representatives seat in Virginia’s 8th District. Dave Albo, a West Springfield High School alumnus, has a Delegate seat in the 42nd District that covers a significant amount of territory in the 8th Congressional District. He starts with a base that no other Republican challenger can claim.

While Dave Albo is a rock star with a legion of groupies who melt at his every croon and bass lick, his thoughtful centrism and his easy-going, unpretentious, next-door neighbor demeanor has created a safe Delegate seat for himself in the 42nd District as long as he wants it. That coupled with odd-year elections for the General Assembly allows Albo to take a no-risk shot at higher office.

Most importantly, if you are tired and weary of safe, scripted, stale, by-the-book campaigns as I am, a Dave Albo for Congress campaign would be the equivalent of a freewheeling, invigorating, live-for-the-moment, concert tour.

Albopalooza every week. Albopalooza on the Capitol steps. That is a unifying message.

Draft Dave Albo for Congress.

Because Dave Albo is a badass.

“Hey, hey. My, my. Rock and roll can never die.” – Neil Young

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All photos courtesy of Phil Tran.