Note: Art Smith is Communications Director for the Polk County Republican Party.Â His views as expressed here are not necessarily those of the Polk County Republican Party.
Just an observation but ifÂ theÂ Executive DirectorÂ of the Republican Party of IowaÂ (RPI)leaves this key position to work on the Branstad campaign, isÂ that not sufficient reason to confirm that Branstad is going to run?Â Â Well, Jeff Boeyink did.Â RPI has benefited greatly from Jeff’s work, and will certainly be a challenged in finding a comparable replacement.Â Matt Strawn had this to say today:
â€œI hope all Iowa Republicans join me in thanking Jeff for a job well done. The Iowa GOP is better off because of his service and tireless advocacy for principled, conservative government. Iâ€™m personally grateful for his wisdom and guidance and wish him well.â€
This is a major coup for the Branstad campaign,Â due to Boeyink’s strong skills, relationships, experience, andÂ the level of credibility he adds to the campaign.
From Terry Branstad’s campaign comes this statement:
Richard Schwarm today announced the hiring of Jeffrey Boeyink to lead the Terry Branstad 2010 Committee as it continues to explore a possible gubernatorial run by former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.
Schwarm said, â€œThis is the next natural step in our exploratory process as we move from a volunteer effort to the acquisition of professional staff and financial resources to take Terry Branstad 2010 to the next level of effectiveness.â€
Boeyink has served as Executive Director of the Republican Party of Iowa (RPI) since last February and resigned yesterday to accept this new position. Prior to joining RPI, Boeyink served as President of Iowans for Tax Relief where he worked for more than two decades.
Schwarm also noted, â€œThis appointment does not signal any change in Terry Branstadâ€™s status as a potential gubernatorial candidate. He continues in his role at Des Moines University and will make his plans known at a future date.â€
Others commenting today included Polk County GOP Co-Chair Will Rogers:
“Jeff has a tremendous amount of experience and will bring a level of talent to the race that is unparalleled by any of the other campaigns including Culverâ€™s.”
The story broke this morning at The Iowa Republican web site (although I first found out about it from David Chung’s Hawkeye GOP site via Facebook).Â Â As David stated, finding a new Exective Director is going to be job one for Matt Strawn.
For all of the other candidates for Governor, I think the time has come to acknowledge that Branstad is in the race, despite Schwarm’s comments about the campaign being “exploratory”.Â For some, that might mean cutting off the campaign and for others it means being more direct in speaking about Branstad’s record and ability to beat Culver.Â Either way, the elephant in the room should be visible now.
We will be talking about this today on The Bean Walker Live! internet radio show during the first hour.Â Email me or chat me your comments today!
I’ve heard this week some suggestions that having the individual states administer reforms to provide improved health care might be a better way to accomplish what is needed.Â Paul McKinley, Senate Minority Leader and candidate for the Republican nomination for Iowa Governor, released one of his insightful memos today on this very topic.
“Iowans are overwhelmingly in favor of making health care more affordable, accessible and portable. Most Iowans are also happy with their health care coverage, they just want their elected officials to instituteÂ some reasonable and responsible market-based revisions to the current system to make health care less expensive, more accessible and more portable.
“The direction some in Washington D.C. want to pursue will not make health care more affordable, accessible or portable and instead amounts to a government take over of nearly one-fifth of the countryâ€™s economy. Instead of empowering patients and physicians, the direction D.C. is headed will strip away personal liberties and empower government bureaucrats. Now is not the time to throw out the entire system we utilize today and replace with an expensive, rigid and confusing bureaucrat controlled government takeover. The plans being discussed in Washington would add hundreds of billions in debt and do nothing to improve affordability, accessibility or portability.
“Instead, Iowa Senate Republicans are proposing a set of initiatives and reforms that can be implemented at a state level within the market-based health care system already in place. They are carefully crafted to make health care in Iowa more affordable, more accessible and more portable.
“First, Iowa Republicans propose to establish a statewide online information hub that brings together both cost and outcome quality data in a searchable format for consumers. We believe the information age provides a tremendous opportunity to compare cost and quality in the delivery of health care services. Competition and comparisons save employers, families and individuals money.
“Younger Iowans in the 18-30 age, given their relative age and better health, often do not make purchasing health insurance a high priority. As a result, when they do have to seek medical treatment it is often for a serious condition and therefore very expensive. In fact, there are 106,000 Iowans in this age group who do not have health insurance and account for roughly half of all the uninsured in the entire state. Therefore, Senate Republicans propose legislation that will encourage the development of low cost market-based catastrophic insurance products that will provide base care for younger Iowans.
“Third, no serious attempt at reducing rising health care and insurance costs can move forward without an honest attempt to address the issue of medical malpractice reform. We have continually championed the need to pass legislation that raises the burden of proof for malpractice claims and places reasonable limits on payment for damages. Those hefty costs are passed on to consumers like you.
“Next, current law allows large employers the opportunity to deduct health care costs â€œabove the lineâ€ â€“ meaning a dollar for dollar reduction in their taxable income equal to the employer share of health insurance costs. This is a tremendous incentive for employers to provide health insurance to their employees. Thus, it should be no surprise an independent study shows 94 percent of employers who have 50 or more employees provide health insurance, whereas 36 percent of employers who have 10 or fewer employees only offer health benefits.
“Because a significant portion of our population now work for small businesses or for themselves, we believe such â€œabove the lineâ€ deductions for health insurance costs should be extended to all businesses and individuals. Some estimates suggest an above the line deduction for health insurance costs may provide a 30 percent savings on such costs and provide a significant incentive to offer health insurance benefits to their employees. If itâ€™s good enough for Wall Street, it ought to be good enough for Main Street.
“Prevention programs that encourage long-term commitment to wellness practices are proven to reduce demand for expensive health services and curb future growth in health care spending. However, our current system chooses to focus on imposing penalties on those who practice less healthy lifestyle through higher insurance rates rather than rewarding good health practices with lower rates.
“Consequently, we propose legislation to encourage insurers to offer â€œprevention creditsâ€ to individuals and businesses that can be used to reduce health insurance rates for those that demonstrate a commitment to wellness and prevention. â€œPrevention creditsâ€ will allow an average Iowa family to save upwards of 15 percent on their health insurance premium or $1,635 on an average family policy. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services there is a return on investment of up to $4.91 for every dollar spent on wellness.
“Finally, we favor a bill that prohibits the denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions if you change policies within a health insurance company. Simply changing policies within a company does not mean you should lose your coverage if you have a pre-existing condition.
“I know we can make a real difference in lowering the cost of health care without turning our entire health care system and a large segment of our economy over to the government. We must utilize common sense reforms that can be done right here in Iowa. We can be a leader in showing the rest of the country how to achieve market based health care reforms that make health care more affordable, accessible and portable without adding hundreds of billions in generational debt and putting the government in charge of our health care.
Â “As always, I welcome hearing from you and can be reached by phone at 515-281-3560 or by e-mail at [email protected].”
I think there is a lot to be said for focusing many of these efforts at a state level instead of federal.Â Some states, like Florida, have implemented some tremendous solutions to help reduce costs and ensure that patients help participate in controlling those costs.Â In some cases, both the challenges and solutions may more regionally specific and better solved regionally.
One area that will likely require some federal oversight will be cross-state portability.Â Some states might be resistant to such portability (and admittedly, due to influence by Insurance Lobbiests), but it would still be beneficial to make this a joint effort between the states under the herding of Congress.
I like where Iowa Republican leadership is headed.
Update! Link to podcast of today’s show!
Last Tuesday (September 29), I hosted the second half of Tim Albrecht’s program “The Bean Walker Live!” on Des Moines Local Live, and today begins 3 weeks of hosting the program in full while Tim concentrates on getting married!
On today’s show, during the first hourÂ I will have Shane Vander Hart from Serve Our Youth Network to shareÂ about the volunteer opportunitiesÂ they have and howÂ they cooperate with local government to impact the lives of high-risk kids in the Des Moines Metro area.
During the second hour, Connie Schmett from Polk County (Iowa) Republicans will join us to talk about the upcoming Fall Dinner at Living History Farms this Sunday featuring the Iowa Republican Gubernatorial Candidates.Â We will also talk about some of the big issues in state and federal government this week.
Here’s a link to the podcast of last week’s show.
The Des Moines Register, one of the two printed dailies that I read, has done some work to revamp the Politics section of their web site. As part of that effort, they have added “Featured Political Bloggers”, providing perspectives from the Right, the Left, and Across the Spectrum. Yours truly is one of the “From the Right” bloggers. More information about these changes will be included in the Sun
Although I’m pleased to be included in this project, more importantly I’m impressed that the Register is providing a forum that allows more established bloggers an opportunity to present opinions on topics that are important to everyone from such a variety of perspectives. Most people in Central Iowa recognize that the Register’s editorial positions tend to lean to the Left (although they occasionally surprise us). It is an exceptional publication that works with people from an opposing perspective as actively as The Des Moines Register is at this time.
Bloggers featured include:
From the Left:
From the Right:
From Across The Spectrum:
All of these folks have great ideas and I’m looking forward to interacting with them and Des Moines Register readers.
This coming week will also be the beginning of four weeks of filling in for Tim Albrecht on his internet radio program “The Beanwalker Live!” on the Macs World Live internet radio station. On Tuesday September 29th, I will be filling the 4:00 to 5:00 PM time slot. On Octobers 6th, 13th and 20th, I will be doing the entire two hours from 3:00 to 5:00 PM. I plan to have some great guests in October, so please check it out! And if you can’t catch it live, podcasts will be available!
Today marks the start of the of the Iowa Right To Life Book Sale at Veterans Auditorium in Des Moines.Â The sale runs from September 9 through 14.Â
This is one of the most important non-profit organizations in Iowa providing counseling and assistance to pregnant women.Â Services available include financial assistance, pre- and post-natal health care, a safe place to stay, child care, and counseling, to name a few. Â There are resources out there and there are people who care.Â For more information, visit their web site at this link.
The results are mostly in for Des Moines, and are in for West Des Moines.Â For Polk County School Districts, you can see the results at the Polk County Auditor’s Web Site.
The Power Plant and Equipment Levy passed in West Des Moines.Â Des Moines and Johnston each passed the Revenue Purpose Statement for the 1 cent option sales tax.Â Ankeny voted down the bond issue to build a new elementary school.Â And Urbandale voted down their Power Plant and Equipment Levy.
It’s too bad that voter turnout was down from prior elections.Â Evidently a reflection of what people really care about.
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West Des Moines residents, thanks for voting in Mark Lagomarcino.Â I think you’ll be glad you did.
It’s another School Board Election day here in Iowa! Traditionally, School Board Elections are one of the voter lowest turnout elections, which is sad for at least these reasons:
- Every election represents a critical right and responsibility for us as citizens to speak our minds. Elections are our opportunity to support or oppose people running for office and their key value points, as well as proposals that general impact our rights or our money. The more of us that participate, the more likely it is that the election and the policies that result will most fully reflect the will of all of the people.
- School Boards, although considered by many in the political world to be a lower value and of lesser importance due to the realm of influence and non-partisan nature of these elections.Â However, SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTIONS YOU WILL PARTICIPATE IN!Â Did I shout that loud enough?Â It is the School Boards, and not President Obama’s “Go Make Me Proud” speech that will exert significant influence over our children and help form the next generation.Â I am a strong advocate for the role of parents in raising their children, but the schools have the attention of our kids for 15,000+ hours over 13 years.
I don’t think there is anything more important than the effective forming of future generations, and the Public Schools have a heavy hand in that.Â Let’s make sure that we have the right hands in that formation.
Full disclosure: My wife and I do not have children, although our niece spent a year living with us when she was 15.Â We have 13 nieces and nephews and 2 great-nieces, and many friends with children.Â Despite the face that we don’t have children of our own, we share in the desire to see future generations prosper.
So, please, get out there and vote!!!
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Some of you may live in communities such as ours (West Des Moines) where there is an item on the ballot regarding the continuation of an existing levy to cover some of the physical aspects of the school system (referred to in some places as Power Plant and Equipment Levy, or PPEL).Â Typically, these levies cover:
- Building repairs, renovations, additions, and safety improvements
- Purchase of computer systems and other educational technology
- Purchase of school buses
These levies do NOT cover salaries, textbooks, or curriculum programming.Â Â They are NOT a new tax.Â Unless the existing levy is severely onerous, you should vote to continue the levy in your district, as I will here in West Des Moines.
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Lastly, if you live in West Des Moines, and want to see conservative values in your School Board both from a policy standpoint and from a fiscal management standpoint, you should vote for Mark Lagomarcino.Â I met him recently at a fund-raising event and was impressed with his speech and the way he answered questions.
The following piece addresses specific thoughts about the direction of the Republican Party.Â While the writer is actively serving as Communications Director for the Polk County Republican Party of Iowa, the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Polk County Republicans, the Republican Party of Iowa, or the Republican National Committee.
If you’ve followed The Conservative Reader earlier in 2009, you would note that we discussed a need to rethink the Conservative/Republican agenda. We have not yet dug into that process deeply, although many have been voicing their opinions about what needs doing.
There has been a substantive effort on the part of some Christian Conservative Republicans to promote an agenda that honors God with a level of apparent intolerance to those who do not agree with them. “No Compromise” is their war chant. While their positions certainly fall within the same realm as my own, their approach, ability to listen, and ability to acknowledge that they will not achieve the political utopia they seek (especially not on their own power), are all sadly lacking in the true message of the very God they are trying to serve. Interestingly, some of these folks have even stated some of the clear Christian principles that come in opposition to their behavior: Love, Mercy, and the need to change hearts through the power of God’s Grace and not through human Law. Instead, one hears little more than condemnation, personal attacks, and hatred. These folks could do themselves and the world a greater service by listening more and saying less. Regardless, I hope they continue to speak out about what is right (without the personal attacks), because that is a message that the World needs to hear. But Politics is never the final playing field of Truth.
Contrast that with the efforts of Doug Gross, who in the August 30 Des Moines Sunday Register delivered an Op-ed piece recommending complete abandonment of our efforts to drive back the social diseases that have infested society and have been embraced by the courts. Gross, who has been an unsuccessful candidate for Governor, believes that the key to the Republican Party’s success in 2010 will be a complete focus on fiscal issues and minimizing of efforts to try to address social issues such as Abortion and Gay Marriage. His position seems to be as simple as this: the Republican Party will continue to falter while struggling with the “cultural and ideological wars”, so drop (or at least soften) the socials issues already so we can win. And he continues to argue with numbers of registered Republicans (which are a bit lower than Democrats and both largely lower than Independent… Iowa is mostly an Independent state) instead of looking at the very issues he decries and the overwhelming number of Iowans who continue to support Traditional Marriage and the lives of the unborn.
Doug also references research by the Iowa First Foundation. The focus of that research is party image. While I agree the image of the party is substantively tainted by public displays of in-fighting, a history of government largess, corruption and moral failure, it seems untenable to state that abrogating key party principles is really appropriate.
Keep in mind, the number one issue for Iowa Republicans is the Right To Life. The very first plank of the Iowa Republican Party Platform is:
1. A Right to Life
We believe life, from conception to natural death, is a sacred gift from the Creator and thus is an inalienable right as outlined in the Declaration of Independence. Therefore:
1.1. We affirm that every innocent person, including the unborn child, has the God-given and Constitutional right to life beginning at conception and ending at natural death
1.2. We reaffirm our support for an amendment to the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Iowa that protects innocent human life from conception to natural death.
1.3. We oppose using public revenues to fund abortions or organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, which advocate abortion.
1.4. We commend those who provide alternatives to abortion by meeting the needs of mothers and offering adoption services. We furthermore support their right to perform the services in a manner that does not violate their values.
1.5. We support a â€˜Womanâ€™s Right to Know Lawâ€™ whereby performers of abortions must provide complete factual information to the pregnant woman about the complications of abortion, the biological development of the unborn, fetal pain, and the availability of alternatives to abortion.
1.6. We support legislation requiring that upon completion of informed consent as outlined in â€œWomanâ€™s Right to Know Lawâ€ there shall be a three (3) day waiting period before any abortion services can be provided.
1.7. We support legislation requiring consent by a parent and/or legal guardian before a minor child receives an abortion or any other reproductive services and products. Such law should require proof of identity of the parent in order to protect children from continued abuse by sexual predators who pretend to be the parent taking their child for an abortion.
1.8. We support the reversal of Roe vs. Wade.
1.9. We support the use of non-embryonic stem cells to advance modern medical research. We oppose somatic cell nuclear transfer (human cloning), embryonic stem cell research, human fetal-tissue research from induced abortions, and the commercial use or sale of fetal parts.
1.10. We strongly urge that the 2002 Human Cloning Ban, which was repealed in the 2007 Iowa Legislature, be reinstated.
1.11. We believe euthanasia, assisted suicide, and infanticide are murder.
1.12. We support the ban of partial birth abortion.
1.13. We oppose the removal, by order of a court or state agency, of fluids or nourishment from those who are either acutely or terminally ill. We believe the decision should be left to the family or conservator.
1.14. Whereas DNA evidence is allowed in our Judicial system as proof of identity, we believe that DNA proves that a fetus upon conception, has DNA separate, from his parents, identifying him as a separate individual, with all the rights endowed him by the Constitution of the United States, that among these are the right to life liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
1.15. We believe in â€œconscience clauseâ€ legislation so that no physician, pharmacist or other health care provider can be penalized for refusing to prescribe, dispense or participate in the procurement of abortion or anything contrary to the conscience of the health care provider.
1.16. We support the confidential statistical reporting of abortion procedures to the State Health Department by all doctors and facilities performing abortions in Iowa.
A lot of Iowa Republicans, I would suggest that most of those that voted at the 2008 State Republican Convention, support this plank. Furthermore, I think that a large number of Independents do as well.
We have a similar story on Family Values. Much of the plank on this topic is focused on Traditional Marriage and sexuality:
6. Family Values
In keeping with the reality that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that our nationâ€™s foundation and subsequent blessings flow from adherence to and respect for the Judeo-Christian ethic, we affirm the following:
6.1. Traditional, marriage-based (one male and one female) families are intrinsically procreative and thereby essential to a stable, thriving, and lasting civilization. Therefore, public policy must always be pro-family, encouraging marital and family commitment, while also supporting parental rights and responsibilities.
6.2. We support an amendment to the Iowa Constitution stating that â€œTo secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.â€
6.3. We support an amendment to the United States Constitution stating that â€œOnly marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized in the United States, and that neither the Federal government, any state government, or the political subdivisions thereof may create or recognize a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals.â€
6.4. We encourage adoption of children by heterosexual married couples consisting of one man and one woman.
6.5. We oppose adoption by same-sex couples.
6.6. We believe access to sexually explicit material, especially on the Internet, poses a serious threat to our families and children. Therefore we must strengthen and enforce our laws to protect our families and children.
6.7. We believe in the sanctity of marriage and call upon the Iowa Legislature to rescind â€œno-fault divorceâ€ laws.
6.8. We believe that parents are responsible for their children and we support the rights of parents to discipline and protect their children.
6.9. We uphold the Declaration of Independence and the Pledge of Allegiance, with references to the Creator as presently written, and believe that it is constitutional and does not violate separation of Church and State, but ensures freedom of religion and not from religion.
6.10. We oppose any law, ordinance or policy that would approve the practice of homosexuality.
6.11. We strongly oppose the UN “Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
6.12. We call for the repeal of sexual orientation in the Iowa Civil Rights Code and we oppose any other legislation or executive order granting rights, privileges, or status for persons based on sexual orientation.
6.13. We believe the father of a child, born or unborn, has the same rights and responsibilities as the mother in all matters regarding the child.
Again, this is what Republicans in Iowa believe in. There are other areas of social concern (Health and Human Service, Immigration) as well.
Do I think the platform is perfect? No, but then again I do think it is well done, and fairly well addresses the concerns of Iowa Republicans. Should we ignore or discard these sections of the Platform? That would be wrong. You may hear me suggest that in working with the opposition party, one must be prepared to listen and perhaps work out a compromise in order to achieve a path toward long-term success. However, the Party Platform provides the most substantive statement of what we think is “right” as Republicans and we must maintain steadfastly our core message.
Doug thinks that promoting our Conservative Social Agenda (read “religious”) will just continue to make Republicans irrelevant. Doug thinks that “Iowans get nervous when their politicians wear their religion on their sleeves.”Â The image of wearing religion on one’s sleeve is dramatically at odds with the simple fact that for many Republican politicians, Faith is one of the key drivers behind their policy positions (as it is for many Iowans), and it is a sign of integrity that they make that fact clear to voters.Â Although there are some who are turned off by that, I find that most folks I encounter find this honesty refreshing as long as aligning with that faith is not presented as a cultural or organizational mandate.
There is no doubt that we have a large amount of diversity within the Republican Party and that we need to be inviting even to those who don’t necessarily align perfectly with our entire platform (and I am speaking more toward party members than I am toward potential candidates).Â But frankly, the challenge goes both ways: those who come in should learn to understand and accept the fact that the majority has established the principles and policy positions, and the majority should be willing to take the time to not only explain but to also listen to those that hold a differing viewpoint.Â Regardless of the majority decisions on anything, each individual in the party has value and should be treated that way.
Doug provides some compelling and valuable ideas regarding areas where the Republican Party can make some improvements, and indeed the Party has already done so at the state level and within many county organizations. This includes working to engage our youth, leveraging newer communications technologies and strategies, and a stronger emphasis on recruitment. And, as Ted Sporer said in response yesterday,
Given the economic collapse our nation faces, and Iowaâ€™s role as arguably the worst business climate in the nation, there really cannot be any argument that the economy is our best punch.
Agreed, the economy and the impact even the fear that Socialized Medicine brings to Iowans are areas of essential work.
But to deprive the public of both the information and opportunity to debate the critical social issues that assail us today is not only ingenuous, but weak. Despite the fact that Democrats hold sway in the Iowa General Assembly and that the Iowa Supreme Court is made of up folks that sincerely believe it is their responsibility to mold society to their value system, Iowans have and want the right to speak clearly on these issues.Â Our party is their only real hope of having a voice.
There were some folks in our country’s history who did some awesome things… we call them the Founding Fathers.Â When the Declaration of Independence was written, they debated references to slavery, and ended up dropping the language, an unfortunate decision.Â Further work was attempted throughout the building of our nation, but it took over 80 years for us to address this disease on our society officially, and we still suffer some of the ill effects of this decision today.Â But it took the forming of the Republican Party, and an unswerving commitment by the Party and its leaders, to bring slavery to an end.Â It wasn’t politically prudent.Â Lincoln almost lost his reelectionÂ bid over the war that ensued.Â But it was the right thing to do, and we are the better for doing what we know is right.
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There is one other aspect that needs consideration, especially if you are concerned (as Doug is) about the core value of “winning”.
I spoke with my dear wife about Doug’s position on this last night. Keep in mind that my wife is not as driven to engage in the political quagmire as I am, and typically does not express strong opinions on topics such as “What should the Republican Party do about the internal debate regarding social issues?”.
Her response to Doug’s position was simple. “That’s stupid”. And here’s her reasoning. If as a party we step away from our values, especially regarding Life and Traditional Marriage, we will instantly lose the support of those that provide the fuel for our party. These are smart folks… they read the Des Moines Register and blogs like this, they listen to talk radio, they work on their own key agendas, and they are fired up about how Republican Principles speak to their values, and I guarantee they read Doug’s piece on Sunday with angst.
Those folks might still vote Republican in an election, but their volunteer, financial and vocal support for the party will evaporate. Without this hard work and critical support, the Republican Party will no longer attract voters.
And, according to Doug, our “business is attracting voters”.
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I made a passing reference to a piece that Ted Sporer published yesterday at his blog. Ted was spot on, and as usual was able to express his position much more eloquently than I. Some of my thoughts and comments were helped by having read Ted’s piece, so I want to especially acknowledge that.
I also appreciate the opportunity to talk through these thoughts on The Beanwalker Live! program this afternoon (about 25 minutes or so into the program) with Tim Albrecht.Â Tim is very sharp and a great sounding board for topics like this.Â Catch his great site The Beanwalker.
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