The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Does the ACLU know about Toomer's Corner?

Virginia Tech is gearing up to play Auburn University in the Sugar Bowl on Monday. Virginia newspapers have provided neat color stories on Auburn traditions. One of the most unique traditions is the rolling of Toomer's Corner. After football victories, thousands of fans, coaches and players gather at an intersection near campus. After speeches about "teamwork, integrity & faith," the crowd rolls a large oak tree with toilet paper. This year, the crowd has added the singing of the spiritual Hard Fighting Soldier. The lyrics are:


I'm a hard-fighting soldierAnd I'm on the battlefield
I'm a hard-fighting soldierAnd I'm on the battlefield
I'm a hard-fighting soldierAnd I'm on the battlefield
And I'm bringing souls to JesusBy the service that I yield
I've got my helmet on my head --In my hands, my sword and shield...
You've gotta walk right and talk rightAnd sing right & pray right on the battlefield...
When I die, let me dieIn the service of my Lord...
Doesn't this need to be stopped? Can't the ACLU do something? What if an impressionable freshman goes along with friends after the game? What if they just want to fit in and see Head Coach Tommy Tuberville signing a religious song? Won't they feel coerced into participating?

The only way for this travesty to stop if for Virginia Tech to soundly thrash those 1st Amendment violating Tigers.

Friday Night Update

It gets worse. I've discovered that the entire team sings this song in the locker room after games. It's past the first commercial, about 1:45 in. The coaches link arms with the players in a coercive manner. I think I see a player in the third row whose heart just isn't in it. If I can find him in New Orleans, the ACLU might have a plaintiff. How could this be less "social pressure" than the facts of Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, Lee v. Weisman or Mellen v. Bunting?

Virginia Tech has to win, they just have to.

Dems Rethinking Pro-Choice Stance

Here is a link to an excellent article in the Los Angeles Times from 24 December about the Democratic Party's rethinking of their pro-choice stance on abortion. If you haven't read it, check it out. Former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer is pro-life and one of the primary contenders for the Democratic Party chairmanship. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are both pushing for his election in the vote on 10 February. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

#25 UVA versus #4 Wake - Sunday 5:30 p.m.

On Sunday, UVA has a chance to show that UVA basketball truly is back. They have come out of nowhere this year as the seventh ACC team ranked in the top twenty five by shocking then #11 Arizona 78-60 in Charlottesville in UVA's second game of the season. Freshman point guard Sean Singletary has done a good impression of John Gilchrist and Chris Paul to transform an average team that managed to beat three top fifteen opponents in a row in the spring to make a run at the tourney into a team that has a great shot at making the tourney this year if everybody stays healthy. If they can stay competitive on Sunday, it will show us that this team is legit.

UVA Season in Review

Now that I have finally come to grips with UVA losing its first bowl under the watch of Al Groh, I can finally talk about it without intense pain. Honestly, this season was an awful season for UVA football, perhaps most of all because of the great expectations and the team's complete inability to live up to any of them. I was in Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee when we brought our #6 ranking to the game and got spanked 36-3. I ran out of material to trash talk with the swarm of FSU students around me after one quarter of playing. It was simply embarassing. It wasn't even competitive. I was at Scott Stadium when Miami threw a 25 year touchdown strike on 4th down witn a minute remaining to seal the game. I refused to make the trip to Blacksburg to be disappointed yet again. Then we managed to go to a horrible bowl, much lower than our seeding in the conference, and then blew a huge lead in the bowl as well. UVA lived up to none of its expectations, did not beat a single ranked team, did not a win a single game I truly cared about. All in all, it was one of the most miserable seasons that I have watched. Where did all the offensive ingenuity and creativity go? Where did the ability to come from behind disappear to? Why are we now having other teams come from behind to beat us? I don't have an explanation, but I was definitely reminded of the late George Welsh years. Al Groh lost his nerve. I still can't believe he didn't got for it on fourth down and one on the Virginia Tech 25 yard line in the 2nd quarter. Perhaps the worst call he has ever made. The playcalling at Florida State was also disgusting. Groh definitely has changes he needs to make and some questions he needs to answer.

Did the Speaker really promise no retribution?

The recent news stories of Del. Preston Bryant's removal from House Appropriations all contained a similar statement: That Speaker William Howell had promised not to punish Republicans for voting their conscience.

I decided to do a little digging to find out exactly what the speaker said, and whether he promised "no retribution."

When Preston Bryant, Chris Jones, Glenn Oder and the other ringleaders developed their tax increase in late March, they faced a problem. They believed that they had sufficient votes on the floor of the House, but lacked enough votes in the House Finance Committee.

On Friday, April 2nd, the Speaker issued a press release. It noted in part, "I have told House Republicans who express potential support for a half-cent sales tax increase that they should get together, draft the best compromise revenue bill they can, and be prepared to present it to the full House of Delegates next week...I will encourage members of the House Republican Caucus to allow the bill to be reported by the House Finance Committee on Tuesday so that it may be considered on its merits on the House floor...[such a vote] may be a useful exercise in producing greater understanding and movement toward a budget. [I will] urge every member of the House to vote his or her conscience..."

The Speaker then secured promises from House Finance members to let the bill pass out of committee. Four members of the committee, Louderback, Cole, O'Bannon, & Janis, took an infamous GA "walk". Janis later quipped that he was eating waffles with his son. On April 7th, HB5018 passed out of committee 10-8.

In later months, the Speaker made it clear that he viewed some Republicans as more culpable than others.

May 30, 2004, Daily Press: Oder and Bryant arguably did more than [just vote for the tax increase], with Oder's op-ed piece and Bryant's high-profile role. Howell did say the op-ed "is a different subject. That goes further." [Note: In March, Glenn Oder wrote an op-ed in the Daily Press that called for a 1% sales tax increase and other fee increases.]

June 6, 2004, Daily Press: "I've said it about eight times, but I'll say it a ninth time," he said. "There is no retribution for those who voted for the tax increase. If there were retribution for those who voted for the tax increase, I'd be switching 17 or 19 people around, not two or three...This is really a sort of discussion with Chris [Jones] and others about some of the stuff the consequences of some of their actions...It's really between me and Chris."

It seems clear to me that the Speaker's April 2nd statement only referred to using his influence to get HB5018 to the House floor. The Speaker was promising only to give every member a chance for an up or down vote. Moreover, there's a great deal of difference between voting your "conscience" and "no retribution." Not surprisingly, an attempt to get HB5018 out of committee has, in the media's eyes, become a promise by the Speaker to allow caucus members to vote however they want, whenever they want.

Thus far, the Speaker has drawn the line betweeen the ring leaders and those that merely wanted to reach a compromise, even if it meant a tax increase.

Finally, why haven't we heard more about the fact that Tommy Norment kicked Sen. Bill Bolling off of the Chesapeake Bay Commission and the Virginia Health Care Commission, and kicked Sen. Steve Martin off of theBoard of Veterans Service?


Democratic incumbent faces primary challenger

John B. Nicholson III has announced that he will challenge Del. Paul Councill, Jr. (D) in the Democratic primary for the 75th District on June 14th. The move is obviously calculated to "encourage" the 83 year old Councill to retire.

Nicholson, 59, said he believes the district needs a more active delegate who will meet more frequently with constituent groups and local government leaders.
Curiously absent from the Virginia Pilot article is any mention of a rift in the Democratic Party...

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Preston Bryant removed from House Appropriations

Preston Bryant has been removed from the House Appropriations Committee. To date, this is the most draconian punishment for the House Republicans who voted for the tax increase. Bryant, along with Chris Jones, was viewed as a mastermind behind HB5018.

Other Republicans who voted for HB5018 also have seats on Appropriations. They are:
  • Vince Callahan
  • Jim Dillard
  • Harvey Morgan
  • Bob Tata
  • Riley Ingram
  • Joe May
  • Chris Jones

It's hard to understand why Bryant would be removed from House Appropriations while Jones is allowed to stay.

Thursday Morning Update

The Washington Post, Lynchburg News & Advance and Virginia Pilot also are covering this story. There's not too much additional information. James Hazel points out the difficult situation the speaker is in. He notes, ""It is a move reflective of a man who is worried about holding on to his position of power and has to make a move to satisfy the far right."

[As an aside, why don't newspapers ever refer to James Hazel as a "member of a powerful Northern Virginia developer family that stands to benefit personally if additional money is spent on roads."?]

The Virginia Pilot also notes that the Speaker is not normally allowed to make committee changes in an off-year GA session. The special election of Paula Miller to Thelma Drake's seat opens the door to changes.


Ramsey Clark to join Hussein's legal team

Al Jazeera and Newsday are reporting that former Attorney General Ramsey Clark will join Saddam Hussein's legal team.

Hussein is as entitled to legal representation as anyone. Ramsey Clark, though, thinks that the United States should be put on trial for "the November assault on Falluja, destruction of houses, torture in prisons and its role in the deaths of thousands of Iraqis in the war." Clark has also defended Slobodan Milosevic.

Salon magazine, no friend of right-wingers, has referred to Ramsey Clark as a war criminal's best friend.

Meet Joe May

Chris Graham of the Augusta Free Press has provided the best coverage of the down-ticket candidates Today he profiles Lt. Gov. candidate Joe May. Joe May is a tech savvy member of the House of Delegates and one of the nicest guys in Richmond. His biggest problem, of course, is his mysterious behavior regarding the tax increase last GA session.

April 12, 2004: Joe May announces his candidacy for Lt. Gov. In his press conference, he states his opposition to the tax increase under consideration. He notes, "Taxes suck the lifeblood out of families and businesses."

April 13, 2004: True to his promise, Joe May votes against HB5018.

April 27, 2004: HB5018 comes back to the House from Senate approval. the Senate version contains an additional $250 million in deed recording fees. Joe May votes for it!!!

Joe May's explanation? He told the Winchester Star, "I voted for it because while I was really opposed to any tax increase, I am even more opposed to not having a budget."

Other political analysts hypothesized that Joe May was unable to find any room to the right of Bill Bolling and decided to move to his left. In my opinion, that ground is already occupied by Sean Connaughton, and Joe May shanghaied his campaign before it ever got off the ground.

Joe May is also faces a primary challenge for his House seat from Chris Oprison. Oprison probably thought that Del. May would not seek re-election. It now appears that Del. May will re-file for his House seat, and he will have to defend that seat on the same day that he is seeking the Lt. Gov. nomination.

More on the Bay's declining health

On the heels of yesterday's post, the Virginia Pilot today discusses the renewed efforts to regulate menhaden fishing in the Bay. Menhaden are small, oily fish that serve as one of the bases of the Bay's food chain. Menhaden oil is also an important ingredient in fertilizer, cosmetics and pet food. Menhaden is also a key source of popular dietary supplement Omega 3 fatty acid.

I spent a good deal of time discussing this issue with the captain and mate on my fishing charter this summer. At least among the recreational and charter fisherman, there's a deep-seated resentment of the menhaden industry. These men are not scientists and, rightly or wrongly, are trying to identify problems with the Bay. Menhaden ships are a lot more visible than the hundreds of sewage plants that eventually feed into the bay. At the same time, I think that menhaden fishing must have some impact on the Bay's ecosystem.

The Virginia Pilot article also mentions the increasing political savviness of the recreational fishing industry. They have hired two Republican lobbyists who will focus on the real economic harm done to other Bay industries. This is a more potent argument that an ethereal appeal to "environmental consciousness." Recreational fisherman also can make a strong argument that every other fish species in the Bay is currently regulated by the VMRC, and menhaden should not be singled out for special treatment.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Regional Sales Tax - Redux

The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority recommended Tuesday to impose a 1/2% sales tax dedicated to funding Metro (Washington's subway).

The 2002, voters defeated a sales tax increase that would have provided money for both mass transit and road improvements. The referendum defeat, incidentally, was a major setback for Gov. Warner.

I was opposed to the 2002 increase and oppose this one for the same reason. How can it be good tax policy to charge an increased tax on toilet paper and electronics in order to fund mass transportation? I understand the policy reasons behind tolls, increased gas taxes, or (gasp) charging more to ride Metro. This summer, I paid $1.35 to ride Metro in each direction. I would have been willing to pay $2 each way before driving (and paying $12 to park) would have even been a consideration.

There's no question that Northern Virginia has serious transportation issues. The key to solving them is to charge more to the people who cause the problems. I think we can do a better job of structuring tax policy to meet that goal.

Colin Farrell's Interpretation of John Smith? Uh Oh

Before watching the Aviator last night, Old Zach berated me for not carrying my weight on this blog for the last week, and I humbly begin to make reparations with this brief blurb. We also noticed previews for a movie called The New World, which will be released sometime in 2005 apparently, essentially portraying the landing at Jamestown and the interaction with Powhatan, Pocahontas, and the 30 or so tribes in the confederation that Powhatan led. Colin Farrell will be playing John Smith. After his performance with his foppish mop of blonde hair in Alexander, I believe I can speak for everyone when I say that we are all relieved that he will not have blonde hair in his portrayal of John Smith. It's more of a scruffy dark brown, I believe. Perhaps Christian Bale as John Rolfe can salvage the day.

Earl Dickenson still going strong

Chelyen Davis with the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star today writes a story on Earl Dickenson, the retired House Appropriations Chair.

Mr. Dickenson seems to be enjoying a slower pace of life out of the public eye. The story talks briefly about the politics behind Dickenson's forced retirement.

Dickinson retired after Republicans redrew his district in June 2001 to include heavily suburban Henrico County and cut out many of his old constituents. While Dickinson was a conservative Democrat, he was still a Democrat, and the Democrats had lost the majority in the House.

He had to share the Appropriations Committee chairmanship with a Republican. By the next election, Republicans were predicted to win (as they did) enough seats in the House to end the power-sharing agreement. That would have booted Dickinson down to the position of the committee's ranking Democrat.

"The last elected Republican would have had more seniority than the most senior Democrat," Dickinson said of the situation. "I figured it was time to go out up on top."

What the story doesn't say is that Del. Bill Janis ran unopposed for the 56th District in the 2001 elections. One interesting unanswered questions from the 2001 redistricting is whether Dickenson would have been able hold off Janis in a district with 40% new constituents. Edd Houck proved in 2003 that a Democrat can hold on in a redrawn rural seat.

In any event, Del. Janis has the seat for as long as he wants it. Del. Janis is a favorite of Republicans because he is so disliked by Democrats. He's like a fundraising lightning rod. Expect a well financed Democratic challenger to waste about $350K on a race this fall and expect Del. Janis to handle it easily.


Who should pay for Chesapeake Bay clean-up?

The Danville Register & Bee has this story about the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors' legislative package for the 2005 GA session.

The BoS has indicated its disapproval of the "flush tax" that will be proposed. The proceeds from this fee will cover restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay. Some of the fees will also be used to pay for upgrades to sewage treatment plants.

As a conservative, I hate when tax increases are euphemistically referred to as "user fees." This fee, though is sorely needed. I was fishing on the Bay this summer, and the dead zone of oxygen depleted water seems to cover more and more area every year. This also seems to be a prime example of requiring people to internalize the social costs of their actions.

That said, I am not opposed to limiting the flush fee to those localities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. If North Carolina doesn't mind that Pittsylvania sends its nutrients into the Roanoke River Basin, then neither do I.

The first flip flop?

I attended the Republican Advance at the Homestead in early December. In his address to the group, Sen. Allen pointed out that Tim Kaine has defended the right of states and localities to impose taxes on internet transactions.

The Augusta Free Press has pointed out that Kaine may have reversed course on this issue.

As a Federalist, I think Kaine has a defensible position. Saying that states should not be pre-empted by a federal ban on internet taxation is different than saying that states should impose such taxes. It's the second part of Kaine's testimony that looks more like a change in position. He noted that a federal moratorium would
"...create considerable budgetary problems for local governments, and lead to unfair competition in the marketplace."

Mainly, I just want the opportunity to chant "flip-flop, flip-flop, flip-flop" at some point during the campaign.

Weekend Movie Reviews

Over the weekend I had a chance to see a couple of movies that I have been looking forward to for quite some time, Ocean's Twelve and The Aviator.

Ocean's Twelve is, of course, the much-anticipated sequel to 2001's smash hit Ocean's Eleven. The great thing about this sequel is that the entire cast from the first movie, including such names as Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Matt Damon. In this film, the eleven thieves who conspired to rob the Bellagio hotel and casino in the first movie are brought together once again when their identities are exposed and they are forced to pay back the money they stole. As a result, they flee to Europe and attempt to steal enough money to pay back their debt. However, they are soon pitted against a French master-thief, named the Nightfox, who is none too pleased with these Americans imposing on his turf. Thrown into the mix this time around is the beautiful and talented Catherine Zeta-Jones as an agent trying to bring the thieves to justice.

I was excited to see this movie because the first one was such a fun and hilarious caper. However, I had heard a number of bad reviews about the sequel so I came in with some trepidation. Fortunately, my fears were allayed as I was entertained throughout by this twisting, turning adventure that lives up to the spirit of its predecessor. I didn't think this movie was as good as the first, but it was still a very enjoyable film. The thing that makes this movie for me are minor characters, played by guys like Don Cheadle and Bernie Mac. It's amazing that an ensemble cast with this many stars is able to work, but it does. Steven Soderbergh does a great job of directing the action and keeping you wrapped up in it. I recommend this movie if you are looking for an adventure comedy to kill some time over the holidays.

The Aviator is Martin Scorsese's biopic of the late Howard Hughes. Hughes, played in this film by Leonardo DiCaprio, was at one time one of the richest people in the world. He dabbled in a number of industries, including movie making, but found most of his success in aeronautics. Unfortunately, he also suffered from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder, which eventually drove him into madness and seclusion. Hughes is a fascinating character in American history both for his genius and his eccentricity.

Scorsese does a magnificent job of depicting an individual at war with himself. The movie is littered with depictions of the rich and famous with whom Hughes kept company, such as Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn and Kate Beckinsdale as Ava Gardner. The true fascination of this film, however, is in the man himself. DiCaprio, despite my initial skepticism, does a tremendous job in his portrayal of the tortured genius. Despite the movie's two and a half hour length, it successfully draws you into this man's world and leaves you wondering what might have been. If you can endure the length, I highly recommend this fascinating depiction of a unique American life.

So, there you go, two good movies to catch over the holidays. If you are waiting for the review of Fat Albert, well, you'd better keep waiting.

Monday, December 27, 2004

More on the Death Penalty

Commonwealth Conservative has good analysis on the death penalty issue in the 2005 Governor's race. It's covered in the Washinton Post today and the Virginia Pilot takes the issue on in an editorial.

Additionally, the Daily Press has this article about legislation that will be introduced to eliminate the death penalty for juveniles. The bill will be co-sponsored by Del. Vivian Watts (D) and Del. Vince Callahan (R). Callahan notes, "I think the chances are probably slim, but I don't think as a society we should be executing children. I am not opposed to the death penalty, but my God, what have we come to?"

Del. Bob McDonnell, chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee (and AG candidate) doesn't reveal his opinion, but doesn't issue a ringing endorsement of juvenile execution. He states, "In a civilized society there's probably a place for an ongoing dialogue about that issue and whether it's fair and just and consistent with good public policy to execute people under age 18."

I hope that this issue doesn't take center stage in the race. I think that Americans are losing their appetite for the death penalty. Even people who strongly support the death penalty, like me, are disconcerted by men who are initially sentenced to death and then later exonerated.

2005 GA Package

The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star has the requisite article about all of the bills that will be considered in the 2005 GA session. In addition to high profile bills on transportation and the death penalty and all of the Governor's budget amendments, legislators will sponsor 2000-3000 other bills.

Del. Frank Hargrove has filed a bill to allow the Virginia chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy to have special vehicle license plates bearing the chapter's logo.

Del. Scott Lingamfelter proposes to issue license plates for "supporters of traditional marriage." The plate would feature intertwined gold wedding rings over a heart. Del Lingamfelter also proposes naming a section of Rt. 234 after President Reagan.

Del. Bill Janis proposes a bill that basically says you can't sue McDonald's for making you fat.

Del. Mitch Van Yahres has introduced a bill to repeal the Affirmation of Marriage Act that Virginia legislators passed last year to prohibit marriagelike contracts between same-sex people.

Del. Floyd Miles has introduced legislation that says anyone arrested for solicitation of prostitution must provide DNA for analysis.

Del. Glenn Oder is offering a bill that would require every passenger over age 16 in a vehicle to wear a seat belt--something that may be contentious in a House of Delegates which has refused to make it a primary offense for even the driver to not buckle up.

Del. Harry Purkey has introduced a package of bills related to changing the state Constitution to give Virginia governors the right to succeed themselves.

Del. Jim Scott wants to change the Electoral College so electoral votes would be given to the presidential candidate who wins each congressional district, instead of giving all of the state's 13 votes to the candidate who wins the majority vote statewide.

Del. Richard Black is bringing back his "fetal pain" bill that would require doctors to anesthetize fetuses that are to be aborted.

Del. Jim Shuler is resurrecting a bill that gives power to a bipartisan commission to do the work of redrawing legislative district lines after the U.S. Census every 10 years.

I am still hopeful that Del. Terry Kilgore will refile his apple butter bill from the 2004 session. As anyone with experience can tell you, apple butter from a copper kettle is far superior to apple butter from a steel kettle.


Sunday, December 26, 2004

Merry Christmas to All!

Being home for the holidays sure makes keeping up with blogging tough, especially when your folks don't use, much less understand the internet.

Anyway, I hope everyone has had a blessed Christmas, and here's an election article from the RT to tide you over.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Where is the budget surplus going?

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has this story and this story about a recent safari taken by top officials at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The 17-day jaunt to Zimbabwe was billed as a study of global game management, conservation, fisheries management, poaching and regulated hunting. The Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Tayloe Murphy wisely denied the $20,000 receipt for the hunting trip, which was then paid for from private sources. However, the VDGIF officials also purchased $12,000 in equipment, which they have not reimbursed.

Here's hoping that the independent audit currently underway will find that the equipment must also be paid for from private sources. The people who planned and asked for this trip deem it as a worthwhile means of increasing knowledge, while most citizens will view it as a boondoggle.

To me, this trip illustrates a fundamental problem with agency budgets. In a time of plenty, spending of this type becomes more "worthwhile." In times of constraint, agencies will make tough decisions about what needs funding and what doesn't need funding. With a $1 billion surplus, there just aren't that many tough choices being made. The only way to force fiscal discipline on an entity is to base their budget on some sort of formula. I favor an index based on some function of population growth and inflation.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Virginia Tech student killed in Iraq bombing

The RT has this story about a current Virginia Tech student whose reserve unit was called up and was a victim of Tuesday's suicide bombing attack in Mosul.

In this bowl season, this is a tragic reminder that, no matter who you root for, we are all Virginians, and all Americans.

As we appreciate our gifts and celebrate the Christmas season, we should give thanks for the gift of freedom and celebrate the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. They are all in our thoughts in our prayers.

Looming Showdown in Senate Judiciary

On Monday, the Washington Post revealed the identity of the Senate Judiciary Committee's two new Republican members. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Tom Coeburn of Oklahoma are both strong conservatives. Because the Democrats got their butts kicked in November, the vote balance on Judiciary will shift from 10-9 to 10-8. The added one vote cushion will give Sen. Specter an additional reason not to backslide on his promise to give every judicial nominee an up or down vote in committee.

Then today, the Bush administration announced its intention to renominate 20 nominees that have been denied up or down votes by obstructionist Democrats. You can read about it
here and here.

The nominees are experienced and qualified, and each deserves to be mentioned individually.
  • Terrence W. Boyle (4th Circuit) (first nominated May 9, 2001)
  • Priscilla Richman Owen (5th Circuit) (first nominated May 9, 2001)
  • David W. McKeague (6th Circuit) (first nominated November 8, 2001)
  • Susan Bieke Neilson (6th Circuit) (first nominated November 8, 2001)
  • Henry W. Saad (6th Circuit) (first nominated November 8, 2001)
  • Richard A. Griffin (6th Circuit) (first nominated June 26, 2002)
  • William H. Pryor (11th Circuit) (first nominated April 9, 2003)
  • William Gerry Myers, III (9th Circuit) (first nominated May 15, 2003)
  • Janice Rogers Brown (DC Circuit) (first nominated July 25, 2003)
  • Brett M. Kavanaugh (DC Circuit) (first nominated July 25, 2003)
  • William James Haynes, II (4th Circuit) (first nominated September 29, 2003)
  • Thomas B. Griffith (DC Circuit) (first nominated May 10, 2004)
  • James C. Dever, III (E.D.N.C.) (first nominated May 22, 2002)
  • Thomas L. Ludington (E.D. Mich.) (first nominated September 12, 2002)
  • Robert J. Conrad (W.D.N.C.) (first nominated April 28, 2003)
  • Daniel P. Ryan (E.D. Mich.) (first nominated April 28, 2003)
  • Peter G. Sheridan (D. N.J.) (first nominated November 5, 2003)
  • Paul A. Crotty (S.D.N.Y.) (first nominated September 7, 2004)
  • Sean F. Cox (E.D. Mich.) (first nominated September 10, 2004)
  • J. Michael Seabright (Hawaii) (first nominated September 15, 2004)
The response from liberals was embarrassing but not surprising:

"I was extremely disappointed to learn today that the president intends to begin the new Congress by resubmitting extremist judicial nominees." - Sen. Harry Reid

"The president and his team want to pack the federal courts with right-wing ideologues, and roll back decades of progress in social justice" - Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way

Quotes like this make me very, very happy. I am itching for Sen. Frist to eliminate filibuster as a stalling tactic on judicial nominees. (the "nuclear option.") It's time to give these candidates, and future candidates, the simple majority "consent" required by the Constitution. The president earned capital, political capital, and I intend for him to use it.

Does Virginia really need NCLB?

The Harrisonburg Daily Record has this story about Steven Landes and Emmett Hanger working on a plan to exempt Virginia from the No Child Left Behind Act.

The story notes:
Landes and Hanger have said the No Child Left Behind program, with laudable goals, penalizes Virginia for its efforts under the Standards of Learning.

While the Bush administration and Congress may come to an agreement on changes, Landes said he wants the General Assembly to move ahead. "It’s important to keep the pressure on," he said.

"It will take," Hanger said, "significant changes to the program to make it workable." Hanger and Landes agree with the intent and goals of accountability standards.

Two thoughts:

1) A Republican who voted for the tax increase and one who voted against it are working together on an issue. Where's the rift?

2) What happened to Newt Gingrich's plan to eliminate the federal Department of Education? President Bush is one of my favorites, but NCLB has been a major pain for states. It's particularly difficult for Virginia, a state that was already making major progress under Standards of Learning tests. Teachers who were getting good passage rates on SOL tests are having to change their lesson plans and strategies in order to comply with NCLB. I would be in favor of NCLB including an exemption for states that have already enacted tough testing standards.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Kaine is Trying to Ride Warner's Coattails.....John Warner, that is

Kaine and the Democratic Party are trying to create the impression that they are a party of moderates aligned with the so-called Republicans who broke ranks with the party regulars and RPV to vote for the highest tax increase in Virginia history along with the Democratic Party. The Democrats are trying to sell themselves as the new majority in Virginia, while simultaneously trying to break apart the Republican majority by taking advantage of gossip, dissension, and inter-party rivalry. It's pretty remarkable how successful they have been thus far.

Here is yet another example of their manipulation. In an email letter sent out by the Kaine campaign, Kaine states that "Virginia is a state known for its steadfast and strong leadership. We are the state of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Warner, and Mark Warner." This subtle yet effective attempt to link himself to the senior senator from Virginia, a lifelong Republican, is but another example of how the Democratic Party is trying to tear apart the Republican Party at its foundation while simultaneously thrusting itself into the proverbial center through sheer deception. As Mark Warner begins his run for the Senate to replace John Warner in 2008 without even allowing apathetic Virginians to realize that a different Warner has been elected and sets himself up for his run for the White House in 2012, we will begin to see more of this from the Democrats as they try to blur the lines of distinction between themselves and the Republican Party in a state where Republicans have won almost all the major battles in the last decade and will continue to do so provided we work together.

Who is the political opportunist?

I found five articles on the Kilgore death penalty reforms. FOUR of them included at least one of the following lines:
  • The message also is intended to help draw a distinction between Kilgore, who is running for governor, and his likely opponent, Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine...
  • Kilgore has said repeatedly that Kaine's personal opposition to the death penalty will be one of the key issues in the 2005 campaign...
  • In a previous statement, Kilgore promised to remind voters that his opponent "actually represented death row inmates, those who escaped from prison."...
  • Kilgore sidestepped a question on the possible political implications of his proposal...
  • Kilgore is the likely Republican nominee for governor next year and the death penalty is an issue on which he already has sought to distinguish himself from his likely Democratic opponent...
  • Kaine's position on the death penalty is likely to be an issue in that race....
  • While Kaine says he opposes capital punishment personally but would support the laws of the state, Kilgore has criticized Kaine for his personal opposition and for defending, as an attorney, death-row inmates.

Get the idea? In case you are completely daft, let me spell it out. Kilgore's changes are proposed as a wedge issue for the 2005 race.

I have two responses to these reporters: 1) Turkey Plant in Hinton and 2) College in Southside. BOTH of these issues are designed to shore up Tim Kaine's popularity in the rural parts of the state.

Of the fifteen articles found by googling "Tim Kaine" and Hinton, NOT ONE of them mentions that Kaine's work on the turkey plant is intended to "help draw a distinction between Kilgore and Kaine." Of the seven turkey plant articles I found on Westlaw, NOT ONE of them mentions that Kaine's work on the turkey plant is an attempt to "distinguish himself from his opponent."

Googling "Tim Kaine" and "Southside" turns up a whopping 254 articles on Tim Kaine's work on a college in Southside. Of these, ONLY ONE mentions the political implications of Tim Kaine's work. 253 stories that don't mention "possible political implications" or "criticism." Westlaw turns up 43 articles - none that mention potential political reasons behind Kaine's support for a college in Southside.

It's clear that when it comes to questioning the political motivations of Gubernatorial candidates, the street only runs one way.


More on the Capital Punishment Reforms...

To follow on the heels of Old Zach's post, the two biggest changes are the proposal to drop the triggerman requirement and the proposal to dismiss deadlocked juries during the sentencing phase of trial. Currently judges must issue a life sentence when juries are hung on the issue of punishment.

There doesn't seem to be a Constitutional problem with the first change. Of the 38 states with the death penalty, 15 (including Virginia) allow only the triggerman to be sentenced to death. The Supreme Court has ruled that the use of the death penalty in this manner is allowed.

The second provision seems more problematic. If a new jury is empaneled for the sentencing phase, then will they be required to hear all of the evidence again? Would the entire voire dire process be repeated, or would a new jury be picked from the original pool of jurors? How would judges and prosecutors handle the changes in their schedule? The AG's office says seven other states have enacted similar legislation. It would be interesting to see how they handle the logistics.

Kilgore on the Death Penalty

On Monday, Attorney General Jerry Kilgore unveiled details of his legislative package for the 2005 General Assembly session. You can also read about it here and here. Among the items included is the Death Penalty Enhancement Act. This legislation, if passed, would allow judges to dismiss deadlocked juries in the penalty phase of the trial, which could make it easier to get death sentences. It would also eliminate the "trigger man" requirement and permit the Commonwealth to appeal the dismissal of capital charges on speedy trial grounds.

It is clear already that Kilgore intends to make his "tough on crime" record an issue in this campaign, as well as Tim Kaine's strong opposition to the death penalty. While I strongly support the option of capital punishment, as do most Virginians, I am not so sure this issue is a big winner for Kilgore. Virginia already ranks 2nd in the nation behind Texas in capital convictions and sentences carried out. Most people are comfortable with the use of the death penalty, but I doubt too many people think we absolutely need to kill more criminals. While it will be effective to paint Kaine as a liberal for his opposition to the death penalty, I think Kilgore's efforts are better spent on other issues.

I believe Kilgore has done an excellent job as Attorney General, and I hope that he will now turn his attention to the important task of being elected Virginia's next Governor.

On a more somber note

Our prayers go out to the families and friends of the Richmond-based 276th Engineer Battalion of the Virginia National Guard. A mortar attack today killed 24 and wounded 64 in a compound outside of Mosul. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, two of the casualties are from the 276th.

An earlier RT-D story notes that the 276th "can trace its lineage to the First Virginia Regiment of Volunteers, formed in 1652. George Washington and Patrick Henry were two of its early commanders. Henry created the unit's motto: 'Liberty or Death.'"

It has come to this...

Never constrained to let facts get in the way of bitter jealousy, our good friend Harry's diatribe reveals the utter frustration of Hoos fans everywhere at never being able to measure up to the Hokies on the gridiron, despite their delusions of superiority. Prior to VT joining the ACC, Hoos fans would constantly gripe about the supposed "weakness" of the Big East and claim that the Hokies would never be better than a middle-of-the-pack team in the ACC. Well, this year VT proved 'em wrong yet again winning the conference outright (something Virginia has never done) in their very first season. Despite protestations that Tech "didn't play FSU" they did in fact play the two ACC teams that beat the 'Noles, and soundly defeated both the 'Canes and the Terps.

UVa's failure on the field has only been compounded by the Hokies' continued dominance in in-state recruiting. Though Al Groh arrived in C'ville with dreams of "taking back the state," Frank Beamer and his staff have continued to believe that slow and steady wins the race. Their efforts have paid off this week in the form of Highland Springs' Victor "Macho" Harris, the top recruit in the Commonwealth of Virginia, who chose VT over USC, Michigan, Miami and, yes, UVA. You can read about it here.

Sure, Virginia Tech's basketball program is not yet up to par in the loaded ACC. But what Harry conveniently omits from his frustration-blinded rantings is that, with Tech's admission to the ACC, the "one-trick pony" criticism has already been proven false. VT has fielded competitive teams in the ACC's winter sports, defeating the Hoos not just in football, but also soccer and wrestling. The Hokies women's soccer team also made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in history, and just yesterday the women's basketball team defeated #12 Texas Tech.

Finally, when it comes to academics I won't stoop to their level and cast aspersions on the value of Virginia's liberal arts eduction. I will simply say that Virginia Tech's mission is quite different from that at "Mr. Jefferson's University" and it is one they have been very successful at. For proof, you need look no further than the technology driven region of Northern Virginia where the majority of Tech's in-state graduates reside. Finally, as it pertains to academics I suggest Harry reads Bob Lipper's recent column in the RTD regarding the VT football team's graduation rate.

But then again, that would force him to face the facts.

Sic Semper Expose

For the future reference of our readers, Addison and Old Zach are Hokies, and I, Lighthorse Harry, am a diehard Wahoo. We are all VERY zealous about our respective teams, and the rivalry and dissension will be reflected on this blog when football season comes around again.

For now, let's note that UVA is ranked #25 in basketball, and Virginia Tech just lost to UNC by what....30 points? Thank goodness it's baskeball season.

And the Hokies can take their Sugar Bowl and their fraudulent ACC championship and go to hell. I am NOT going to root for them. I don't care what George Allen and Jerry Kilgore and all the rest do. True Wahoos do not ever support Virginia Tech, even if it does supposedly help the Commonwealth as a whole. I wish we had left them out in the cold when we stole Miami from the Big East. Instead, we have chosen to make them a member of an elite athletics conference, a conference where we actually do care about academics, and Virginia Tech is a disappointing addition. Too bad we have to prop up their other sports teams.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Seal of Approval

In light of our blog's name, I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to link this story from the RTD about Virginia's state seal. I like the last line of the article, it's so very Virginian.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

More on the Attorney General fundraising disparity

On Friday, I mentioned that I didn't think that anything could be read into the Republican AG candidates', Steve Baril and Bob McDonnell, massive fundraising advantage over their Democratic counterparts, Creigh Deeds and John Edwards.

I think that opinion merits more attention in light of today's editorial by the Daily Press, and Virginia Conservative's take on that editorial.

In a November 17th article covering Bob McDonnell's campaign announcement, AP writer Larry O'Dell had the following piece of information:

"McDonnell has raised just over $800,000 and Baril about $785,000, according to the most recent campaign finance reports. McDonnell said he expects to raise about $1.3 million for the primary and just over $3 million for the general election."

In the 2001 Attorney General's race, Whitt Clement raised $857,000 and John Edwards raised $450,000 in their losing bids for the Democratic nomination. If we assume that Don McEachin raised somewhere between those two numbers for his nomination fight, then that means he spent somewhere around $650,000 on the primary and about $1,000,000 on the general election.

Jerry Kilgore, meanwhile, spent almost $2.3 million - all of it on the general election.

The point that I have been trying to make, of course, is that by engaging in a low-cost, low-key primary fight, the Democrats can marshall funds and resources for the AG general election. If Deeds and Edwards, either tacitly or by express agreement, decide not to beat each other up in the primary, the winner starts with a de facto $1.3 million advantage. We'll see if Deeds and Edwards agree with my strategy when the finance numbers come out in a month.

Man of the (Eight) Year(s)

President Bush has been named Time magazine's Person of the Year for the second time. Bush is the eighth President to have been named as such at least twice (FDR was named three times). This was clearly an easy pick on Time's part as the election dominated the news for much of the year.

Congratulations to President Bush. Here's looking forward to four more great years.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Gentlemen, start your checkbooks

The Winchester Star is out of the gate this morning with a preview of the upcoming General Assembly session. As expected, much of the focus will be on transportation, but Republican legislators should be careful not to fall into the "surplus" spending trap. Now that Gov. Warner and the Renegade 17 have seen fit to jack up the tax burden on all hard-working Virginians, we must in return demand fiscal responsibility on the part of our legislators. Indeed, it is our money they are spending in Richmond, not theirs.

Governor Warner has also released his proposed budget amendments for the new session that focus primarily on, surprise, transportation. Besides increased funding for a host of projects, Warner has also proposed reducing the tax on groceries and setting aside $229 million for the "rainy day fund." While Jerry Kilgore and other Republicans have voiced general support for Warner's amendments, we must remember that this is only a starting point, and once the session begins in earnest, things could get nasty pretty quick.

In terms of the transportation debate, while anyone who has lived in Tidewater and Northern Virginia understands the massive transportation issues facing those regions, it is important that the rest of the state not be left out in the cold on this issue. That doesn't mean that legislators should push needless funding for pet projects, but rather that Southwest Virginia, the Valley, and Southside should have a seat at the table and a fair shake in negotiations over a comprehensive transportation policy. The widening of I-81, improvement and upgrade of railroads, and expansion of air service are all things that can help encourage growth in these regions. They are also projects that private industry can aid in completing more quickly and less expensively that the government can by itself. Such steps are necessary, not simply to address short-term problems, but also to craft long-term solutions to the the Commonwealth's transportation needs.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Cash Moves Everything Around Me...

I can always tell how close we are to the end of a financial reporting cycle by how many campaign solicitations I receive. I've been asked twice in the last four days. Everyone is looking to pad their numbers before the period closes.

Virginia's next reporting cycle ends on December 31st, and the reports are due on January 15th. Here at Sic Semper, we will break down the numbers, but here's where we are by way of background.

As you can see, the Republican downticket candidates are pursuing a strategy of mutually assured destruction, while the Democrats are in a period of detente. Unlike Virginia Conservative, I don't think you can take any cross-party lessons away from the disparate numbers. The Democrats probably have less money to waste on the primary season, and are pooling their resources for the general elections.

December 31st is also the reporting deadline for Virginia political committees. We will get our first look at the money behind the previously mentioned Leadership for Virginia. Also expect a big report from Virginia Conservative Action PAC - fresh off G. Gordon Liddy and Ann Coulter fundraisers. We'll find out who put money into the $2 million Warner birthday bash for OneVirginia.

Other political committees to look for include the Speaker's Dominion Leadership Trust and the pro-tax Foundation for Virginia.

Thanks to our friends in the blogosphere

Thanks to our friends at SW Virginia Law Blog and Commonwealth Conservative for linking to our blog.

When we picked the adjective "ultimate" to describe our page, we certainly didn't intend to imply superiority over the other Old Dominion blogs. The new kids on the block have been watching the experts for a long time, and we know we have a ways to go.

Notre Dame not getting Golden

The Daily Progress and Roanoke Times are both reporting that UVA Defensive Coordinator Al Golden has announced he is staying in Charlottesville to coach next season. This despite an item buried in this Boston Globe article yesterday that claimed Golden had agreed to join Charlie Weis in South Bend.

Golden is known as a talented recruiter and the architect of Virginia's defense. So, I guess that means we can plan on seeing UVA pull in solid recruiting classes for the next few years while continuing to fold when it counts on the football field.

A strange new twist in the D.C. baseball saga

WTOP news in Washington is reporting that the campaign opposing construction of a publicly financed baseball stadium in the nation's capital has been largely funded by the owner of adult theatres and gay nightclubs in "D.C.'s unofficial Red Light district." Apparently many of these businesses would be forced to move or close up shop if the stadium construction deal is approved.

Yeah, it'd be a real shame to replace such a family-friendly neighborhood with a big, bad baseball stadium. Thank goodness we have D.C. Councilwoman Linda Cropp to take the moral high-ground on this one.

More Tom Cruise sightings in Rockbridge County

The newshounds from the Roanoke Times are all over this story.

Cruise is in town along with actress Dakota Fanning and director Steven Spielberg filming next summer's blockbuster War of the Worlds.

Update: 12/17/04 Tom Cruise has turned the Roanoke Times into SW Virginia's version of the National Enquirer. Here is yet another story about the movie star's latest exploits in Lexington. Pretty soon the RT will have Nostradamus' predictions for 2005.

Bolling Kicks Off with a Big Crowd

Bolling kicked of his campaign officially with a breakfast in Richmond at the Downtown Marriot on Thursday. Sources have it that 300 people attend the 7:30 a.m. breakfast, despite the 20 degree weather. A very nice showing indeed.

In other related news, the endorsement of Bolling by Congressman Forbes was announced today.

Not What Jefferson Had in Mind

This story is not directly Virginia related, but all Christians and all freedom loving people everywhere should be concerned about the growing repression of free speech, particularly directed against Christians right here in the United States. This is not what Jefferson had in mind when he penned the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, stating that "Almighty God hath created the mind free."

This particular instance, one of the worst that has come to my attention, occurred in Philadelphia in October, where 4 protestors at a gay pride event are being charged with ethnic intimidation, criminal conspiracy, and riot for essentially reading the Bible in public. Charges against seven others arrested with them were dropped simply for the reason that the other seven could not be seen reading Scripture in a videotape of the incident. A link to the video can be found here at the bottom of the press release.

Interestingly enough, we see here the actual reading of the Scripture targeted, not even necessarily anti-homosexual opinion. It demonstrates the real goal of the homosexual agenda, which is complete suppression of Christian dissidence against their movement and eventually the affirmation of their lifestyle. They will not be satisfied with an open marketplace of ideas in which they can still be criticized. They will only feel secure when every voice that rises up against them has been quieted.

Jefferson's companion in the quest for religious freedom in Virginia, James Madison, wrote that the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom "extinguished forever the ambitious hope of making laws for the human mind." I fear that our nation has lost sight of their vision, and the costs may be more than we can bear.

More than pride on the line in Chattanooga tonight

The NCAA will be handing out a National Championship trophy this evening as the Division I-AA football playoffs come to a head in the Volunteer state. For the first time in history, the Commonwealth of Virginia will be represented in the I-AA title game as the James Madison Dukes take on the Montana Grizzlies.

On a related note, the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record has this story about a friendly wager on the game between US Senators George Allen (VA) and Conrad Burns (MT). I have always found the wagers between public officials over sporting events to be quite amusing, and Senator Allen, who is an avid sports fan, is a prime offender. (Do these fall under the Senate gift rules? What are the tax implications here? Who can tell me?) In any case, here's hoping JMU represents the Commonwealth honorably and brings home the title. The game will be televised at 8:00pm on ESPN2.

Congratulations should also be extended to William and Mary QB Lang Campbell who was selected for the Walter Payton award as the top offensive player in Division I-AA. William & Mary lost to James Madison in the national semifinal round last week.

Update: Congratulations to the James Madison University Dukes - 2004 Division I-AA National Champions! Enjoy your Montana sirloin Senator Allen.

Ed Schrock's new job

It appears that Congressman Ed Schrock won't be leaving Capitol Hill after all.

Schrock, who was forced to withdraw from his re-election bid for VA's 2nd Congressional District seat after allegations of sexual misconduct, has apparently been hired by one of his former colleagues. The RTD reports that Schrock will become a subcommittee staff member on Rep. Tom Davis' House Government Reform Committee. Davis represents Virginia's 11th Congressional District.

Schrock will be replaced in Jan. by newly-elected Representative Thelma Drake.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Will he or won't he?

Rumblings about Russ Potts' potential bid for Governor continue to emanate from the hills of Frederick County. Today's Winchester Star covers the latest rumor, which has the State Senator leaving the GOP and running as an independent.

Potts, who was a lead supporter of Governor Warner's massive tax increases in the last legislative session, is already a source of constant vexation on the part of conservatives. If ol' Russ wants to strike out on his own and blaze a trail for his so-called "principles,"then I say more power to him. But why delay his announcement until after the session?

Obviously, Sen. Potts is more interested in using the threat of a candidacy to milk favors from the Republican leadership than he is in actually leading himself. It is interesting though, that Sen. Potts only seems to let his principles get in the way when it doesn't affect his Committee chairmanship.

And the lawyers get wealthy

Yesterday, the Richmond Times Dispatch had this article about the legal fees awarded to the DPV's lawyers in the eavesdropping civil lawsuit settlement. Williams & Connolly, a major DC litigation firm, will receive around $350,000. Their fees come out of the $750K settlement.

The RPV, on the other hand, was represented by Hunton and Williams. The RT-D said today that Hunton's total legal fees would be around $160,000. Their fees are on top of the $750K settlement.

By my estimation, out of the $910,000 that will be paid out to put this lawsuit behind us, $510,000, or 56%, will be paid to lawyers. Not bad work if you can get it.

You have to wonder, though, if J. Andrew Keyes, Kenneth C. Smurzynski, Collin J. Fox, and Kenneth J. Brown are really worth $200,000 more than Edward J. Fuhr, John E. Holloway, Robert M. Tata, and Eric H. Feiler?

Makes me think that the Democrats should have negotiated a better legal fees contract. That way they would have more to spend on "charity."

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Memo to Panny Rhodes

Helping to elect Democrats does not help the Republican Party in any way, shape or form.

While this may seem obvious to most of us, apparently the "leadership" at Leadership for Virginia, a GOP PAC devoted to supporting higher taxes in the Commonwealth of Virginia, hasn't gotten the message.

Unfortunately, these pro-tax Republicans scored a minor triumph today with the election of Democrat Paula Miller to the House of Delegates seat recently vacated by Republican Thelma Drake. Drake was elected to the US Congress this year, largely on her support for low taxes.

LFV contributed $50,000 to Miller's campaign against Republican and tax-opponent Michael Ball. For some reason, The Virginian-Pilot considers increasing the number of Democrats in the House a "major victory for... the moderate wing of the Republican Party."

I've got a newsflash for the folks at LFV: Abandoning our core principles and supporting Democrats does NOT strengthen the Republican Party. By throwing down the gauntlet in the 87th District, LFV has signficantly raised the stakes in next year's General Assembly races. If they are going to spend money to support Democrats, then the anti-taxers have every incentive to find anti-tax challengers to the Renegade 17. At least that way, some of LFV's money will be soaked up.

Is D.C. Baseball Slipping Away Already?

Apparently some members of the D.C. City Council have recently had a religious conversion and now suddenly care about the taxpayers.

The Washington Post is reporting that the Council approved legislation last night that drastically alters the city's deal with Major League Baseball. The new funding legislation requires that half of the cost for D.C.'s brand-spanking new ballpark be picked up by private funds.

D.C. mayor Anthony Williams says this development will jeopardize the agreement with MLB to bring the Montreal Expos to the nation's capital.

Hear that Northern Virginia? Now's your chance!

Chilling

Watch this advertising spot from the Iraqi Resistance. Where did Islamic Jihad get their PR guy? This will blow you away!

Katzen on Kaine

Tim Kaine is the first gubernatorial candidate in Virginia out of the blocks with a website. I wonder how much money this guy is going to waste in his losing bid for the governor's mansion. I still can't get out of my head Jay Katzen's voice from the 2001 campaign calling Tim Kaine's values "Vermont values." Katzen was right then, and what he said is still true.

Allen Picks Campaign Manager

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has this article about Senator Allen gearing up for his '06 re-election battle. He has hired Jason Miller, who worked for Senate candidates Jack Ryan of IL, Mel Martinez of FL, and Tom Coburn of OK. Martinez and Coburn both won tight races, while Ryan was forced to withdraw from his race due to illicit allegations made by his ex-wife in divorce proceedings.

This follows the recent hiring of Dick Wadhams, who managed John Thune's successful Senate campaign in SD, as Allen's Chief of Staff. These moves make it clear that Allen is putting all the right people in place not just for his re-election campaign, but also for a potential run at the White House in '08.

Virginia a Leader in Job Growth

This article from today's Roanoke Times shows how strong the economy is here in the Commonwealth. While some areas, like Southside, continue to struggle a bit, Virginia as a whole remains a model of economic health.

Yet another reason to believe that our dishonest Governor has saddled us with a host of unneccesary tax increases that will only stifle economic growth in the long run. Thanks Mark.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Cool Movie News

There will be plenty of time for religion and politics here in the future, but first, if you haven't yet seen the trailer for War of the Worlds, well, what are you waiting for? It's available here.

If you haven't heard, War of the Worlds is the latest adaptation of H.G. Wells' famous book about a martain invasion of Earth. The book is perhaps most famous for its radio adaptation on Halloween Eve, 1938, which was narrated by Orson Welles. The adaptation was so realistic that many people panicked and believed that martians had actually invaded Earth. You can read about it here.

This newest movie version, one was made in 1953 winning an Oscar for special effects, is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Tom Cruise. Excited yet? I know I am. Everything I have heard so far tells me that Spielberg is back to his old form once again with this extravaganza. I am talking old-school, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T.-era Spielberg here. It is rumored that this movie may surpass Titanic as the most expensive movie ever made. Cool.

So you may be asking yourself what the heck this has to do with Virginia. Well, as it turns out, portions of this movie will likely be filmed in Rockbridge County, Va. You can check out the story here and look here to find out what Tom Cruise ordered at the Lexington Dairy Queen.

All for now.

Welcome to Sic Semper Tyrannis!

Thanks for visiting our humble blog. It is the sincere hope of myself and my cohorts that this blog will come to be a spot of interest for people who love our Commonwealth as much as we do. We represent the three regions of the state (Tidewater, Piedmont, and Mountains) and we each have a different story to tell. In any case, we hope you enjoy reading as much as we enjoy blogging and please feel free to give us feedback. Now, on to the blogging!