Tuesday, March 3, 2009


March 2009

Greetings fellow Conservatives!   As you may already know, George Heidcamp,  Town of Saugerties Conservative Party Chairman,  and the Conservative Executive Committee,  resigned their positions in 2008.   At a meeting of the County Executive Committee this past December,  I was appointed to the position of Conservative Party Chairman in Saugerties.  While I did not seek this position I accepted it for several reasons. The purpose of this letter is to discuss the current state of affairs and to explain why I feel conservatism matters.

First, however, I would like to acknowledge and thank George Heidcamp for his leadership of the party these past years. George took up the cause and was active in  promoting the party.  As a consequence of some of his strong stands he often became a target of our political opponents and has taken more than a few arrows for the conservative cause.  I want to thank George and his entire executive committee for a job well done. 

 I also want to acknowledge the contributions of former party chair Dorothy Dederick. Dottie was chairman when I first registered and her energy over the years is a testament to her devotion to conservative principles. 

I would also like to thank you for registering as a conservative. It tells me that you have an abiding affection for this country and the principles on which it was founded. Far from the caricature of conservatives in the media today -  portraying us as reactionary and ignorant,  conservatism for me embodies the best of America. Conservative thought is forward looking, cautiously optimistic,  respectful of our traditions and currently contains some of the best ideas on major public policy issues.  

I have been asked what conservatism is and it’s a good question. There are many voices of conservative thought, from social to fiscal conservatives, libertarians, neoconservatives and so forth. For me, conservatism isn’t so much an ideology as it is an approach to life. I believe conservatives have a far healthier and more realistic understanding of human nature. We know man is not a perfect creature and no government on earth can make us so.  A basic tenet of conservatism can be found in the proverb  “ Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.”  This simple yet profound insight, I believe, found it’s most harmonious expression in the founding documents of our republic. Our system of self-government, while maintaining civil order, allows us the ability to reach our full potential as individual human beings. As conservatives we value self-reliance, individualism and hard work as some of the prerequisites to a healthy, functioning society. In the course of human history there has never been a system of government that allows mankind more freedom, dignity, and a chance to succeed than the one bequeathed to us by the founders. This is our heritage as Americans and something to be justly proud of.

The so called stimulus bill is now law. This act, along with many other actions the government has taken over the past year is an affront to the idea of self-government. The purpose of this latest legislation is not to stimulate the economy but to stimulate government. It points out, better than anything, the differences between our political opponents and us. They want to foster a culture of dependance. They want and encourage people to look to government for help, and in so doing they can aggrandize more power unto themselves.  No one is saying that there isn’t a necessary and proper role for government, but, as Thomas Jefferson said over two hundred years ago, “a government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.”

I hope you are as motivated as I am to correct what the liberal establishment is doing to this country. To me it’s reminiscent of the late seventies, a time where our elite lost faith in the abilities and resourcefulness of the American people. 

More than ever this country needs to get back to basics and return to conservative values. The best way to do that is  to offer common sense solutions to our many problems.  I have accepted the chairmanship of the Conservative Party to promote those values and ideas in an ongoing public debate. It will only be with your support and feedback, that the Conservative Party of Saugerties will have a voice that will be heard loud and clear.     

For your convenience a blog site has been set up as a forum for conservative thought and ideas at 

http://www.coolcons.net/     Please visit and bookmark the site and watch for important news.  You will be able to post comments on the articles that appear.  I welcome and encourage feedback!

I can be reached by email at catmtn1@gmail.com   Please send me your email address so we can start building a mailing list.  The next mailing will be a notice for an organizational meeting.  Thanks for your interest. 



The following appeared last fall in the local paper. It's up to us to make people come to the "right" conclusions!

With  the recent market turmoil and panic, combined with a highly charged political campaign, Americans can be excused if they find it all a little bewildering.  While bewildering, it has caused me to think of bricks and mortar. Bricks and mortar in a real sense and more importantly in a metaphorical sense.

I often think how much we take for granted in this country. The world we wake up to each day has in it the homes and businesses, associations and organizations that comprise our physical reality and by extension, our culture. How did these things come to be? What was the animating spirit behind their creation? What is it about this culture that makes us unique and sets us apart? As a building can fall down, can the things that have made our culture also be destroyed? 

In all of the responses to our current travails perhaps what is most alarming is a very deep sense that the political responses are missing the mark and  drawing the wrong conclusions. It reminds me of a story attributed to Abraham Lincoln. When Lincoln was a practicing attorney he once represented a client who owned barges on the Mississippi River. One of these barges got loose one day and rammed an abutment of a railroad bridge and caused extensive damage. The railroad sued the man for damages and during the trial brought in all kinds of experts and high priced legal talent in an effort to win. Their case seemed pretty airtight until it was time for Lincoln’s summation. “My learned opponents” Lincoln said, “have presented an impressive case. There is no question that they have their facts absolutely right. But they have drawn completely wrong conclusions.” The jurors laughed uproariously at this, adjourned to deliberate and shortly came back with a verdict favoring Lincoln’s client. With the trial over, attorneys for the railroad besieged Lincoln asking him how this could be. They had the case won, how could Lincoln win they demanded to know, simply by saying what he did. “Well boys” Lincoln replied “it just happened that when court adjourned for lunch today I happened in the saloon where the jurors were eating and told them a little story. A story of a farmer working in his barnyard when his ten year old boy came rushing up to him all excited. Paw, said the boy, come quick. Sis and the hired man are up in the haymow. He’s a pullin down his pants and she’s a liftin up her skirts. Paw, they’re gettin ready to pee all over our hay. Son, the farmer said, you’ve got your facts absolutely right but you’ve drawn a completely wrong conclusion.                                                                                                     

Now, I know that the American taxpayer doesn’t want to end up like that farmers daughter. To me it’s absolutely essential that we don’t do more harm by coming to the wrong conclusions, that somehow our system and it’s principles are at fault.

Most Americans recognize that we’re headed for some lean times. This should be regarded by us as an opportunity to get back to the basics, living within our means, working hard, saving and thrift, and strengthening our sense of community. If you cut through all the fog its not hard to see anything that can’t be fixed by returning to the virtues that built this country. Can there be any doubt that what is ultimately going to pull our chestnuts out of the fire is the American free enterprise system? American businesses, workers, entrepreneurs, doing the millions of things that they do every day conducting this nations affairs is the mortar that holds us together.  We certainly can not look to government to create wealth for us.  

Perhaps the most important “brick” of our civilization, it’s very foundation if you will, is under assault, and few recognize the danger this poses. To understand the origins of that foundation and it’s bearing on us we need to go back to a misty June morning centuries ago in the English meadows of Runnymeade. While not appreciated at the time, the events that day helped to sow the seeds of the greatest civilization in the history of the world.  By compelling the government, in this case the king, to sign a document recognizing certain of their “rights” and privileges, the barons set in motion a chain of events that over centuries coalesced into the freedoms we all enjoy today. The signing of this document, the Magna Carta, was the first, nascent, organic appearance of the recognition that a king was responsible to a higher authority. It helped to lay the foundation that our personal freedoms are directly tied to our economic freedoms. Stop and think about that for a moment. Your right and my right to associate, worship, and speak freely are inherently bound to our rights to property. At a time when our government is scattering billions of dollars like chicken feed, swollen and drunk on it’s own power and sense of self-importance, it threatens to expand it’s size and scope even more.  

It is my hope that Americans are mindful of these things and don’t draw the wrong conclusions. For it’s not just billions of dollars that we stand to lose but the steady erosion of our freedoms. The freedoms that allow us to build, create and succeed beyond our dreams. But with that success there is always the inherent risk of failure. That is the nature of life. The art of life is in treating success and failure as the imposture’s that they are, as a wise poet once said. Let us not attack the foundation, the “bricks and mortar”  that make us who we are because of the abuses of a few. The stakes are that high if we are to pass on an America to our children that bears any semblance to the one we knew when we were young.

- Mark H. Knaust

Don't Laugh - It Could Happen

I came across the following on a blog by a fellow named Chuck posting as http://www.nitecruzr.net . What was once ridiculous is now possible. I think you'll agree, it's pretty funny. 

New Government Program Ends Job Discrimination

The Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA)

Washington, DC - Congress is considering sweeeping legislation that will provide new benefits for many Americans.

The Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA) is being hailed as a major legislative goal by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition.
Roughly 50 percent of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society said California Senator Barbara Boxer. We can no longer stand by and allow People Of Inability to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favors to a small group of workers simply because they have some idea of what they are doing.

In a Capitol Hill press conference, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed to the success of the US Postal Service, which has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. Approximately 74 percent of postal employees lack any job skills, making this agency the single largest U.S. employer of Persons of Inability.

Private-sector industries with good records of non-discrimination against the Inept include retail sales (72%), the airline industry (68%), and home improvement 'warehouse' stores (65%). At the state government level the Department of Motor Vehicles also has an excellent record of hiring Persons of Inability (63%).

Under the Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million 'middle-man' positions will be created, with important- sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance.

Mandatory non-performance-based raises and promotions will be given so as to guarantee upward mobility for even the most unremarkable employees. The legislation provides substantial tax breaks to corporations that promote a significant number of Persons of Inability into middle-management positions, and gives a tax credit to small and medium-sized businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires. 

Finally, the AWNAA contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the Non-ables, banning, for example, discriminatory interview questions such as - Do you have any skills or experience that relate to this job?

As a Non-abled person, I can't be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them, said Mary Lou Gertz, who lost her position as a lug-nut twister at the GM plant in Flint, Michigan, due to her inability to remember righty tightey, lefty loosey.  This new law should be real good for people like me, Gertz added. With the passage of this bill, Gertz and millions of other untalented citizens will finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Said Senator Dick Durban (D-IL) - As a Senator with no abilities, I believe the same privileges that elected officials enjoy ought to be extended to every American with no abilities. It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her adequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation and a good salary for doing so. 

Another example of how the absurd is now quickly becoming reality - check out this video, amazing stuff!


ix years ago (how time flies!), because of a series of unplanned events, I was asked to run as Conservative Party candidate for Town of Saugerties Supervisor.  I did so without any other major party backing.  I decided at the outset that if I was going to do this, I would raise issues in public that were important to me.  My campaign cost $50.   I had a blast meeting and talking with folks all over the Town of Saugerties.  I wrote a series of articles that the local papers published (until they caught on to what I was doing and stopped publishing them). 

Looking back I can say that one of the principle reasons that I ran for Supervisor was the importance of land use in the the Town of Saugerties, an issue that continues to be relevant.   The following four articles have themes that are still timely -  education, taxation, the economy, land use, and the importance of long term thinking.  I will re-visit these issues in the months ahead.