The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Monday, February 28, 2005

Hockey Returning to the Star City

The United Hockey League has announced that they will bring an expansion team to the Roanoke Civic Center starting with the 2005-2006 season. Roanoke has been without a hockey team this year for the first time since the 1979-80 season after the ECHL suspended operations of the Roanoke Express. The Roanoke Times has more here. The new team will be the 15th team in the UHL and will join Richmond as the only southern teams in the Missouri-based league.

A new team name will be determined through a contest and will be announced at an exhibition game in April. The game will be played at the Roanoke Civic Center between the UHL's Richmond RiverDogs and Motor City Mechanics. Personally I'd like to see them bring back the Roanoke Valley Rebels, but I doubt the PC crowd would allow it.

A Southern Gentleman

I loved the comments that Jamie Foxx made after winning the Oscar for Best Actor, and deservedly so for his magnificent performance in Ray. I especially enjoyed his tribute to his grandmother who he essentially thanked for making him the man he was by "beating" him. He said that his grandma could have won an oscar for how well she beat him. Foxx came close to tears visibly about how she would talk to him after beating him and tell him how she wanted him to be a good southern gentleman. Good to see corporal punishment endorsed on Hollywood's main stage. I bet a lot of people were squirming in their seats. Come on...these people probably forbid their kids from playing with toy guns or eating sugar!

So, here's a shout out to good ole southern discipline!

Shifting Sands in the Middle East

With all the news coming out of Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and Egypt it appears as if the Iraqi elections are already affecting the beginning of a political transformation in the region. RealClearPolitics.com has a lot of great stuff to read on the Middle East. I enjoyed this editorial by Michael Barone about how the Bush doctrine is changing minds from Berkley to Bahgdad. Well, maybe not Berkley. I particularly like the characterization of free elections in Iraq as the Middle East's Berlin Wall coming down.

More on NASCAR culture

Geoffrey Norman at the National Review has this good article about the spread of NASCAR culture and what separates us racing aficionados from those who just don't get it.

After one race week out of the pole position, Kurt Busch is back in familiar territory, the top of the NNC standings. I was rooting for "Front Row Joe" Nemechek to win yesterday but alas he got bit by the Hendrick engine bug. At least I can smile that Jeff Gordon got knocked from the cup lead by the same problem. Special congrats to Emporia, Virginia's Elliot Sadler who finished 8th at California, moving him up to 6th in the driver standings.

The Academy gets something right

Before Harry has an opportunity to call me a sycophant I'll admit that I can't get enough of the movies. And as anyone who has seen my DVD collection can tell you, I like the bad ones as well as the good ones. Last night, however, was about the good ones and this year I thought the academy got the awards right. Check out all the winners here.

I felt like last year's academy awards tried much too hard to make a political statement by awarding Tim Robbins and Sean Penn. I thought that both Bill Murray and Johnny Depp deserved the award over Penn last year and I found Robbins' performance the least impressive of all of the supporting actor nominees. However, with it being an election year, I guess the academy had its own agenda.

This year, however, I thought that the Oscars went to the actors who deserved them most based on their performances, not based on their politics or skin color. For this reason, I thought last night's show was more important to black actors than the 2002 show that awarded Denzel Washington and Halle Berry. In 2002, I think that the academy felt compelled to award Washington and Berry in order to acknowledge how it had slighted black actors in the past. Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman, however, deserved the awards because their performances were the best of the group of nominees. To me, that is a much more important statement about equality.

I was a bit surprised that Million Dollar Baby won both the directon and best picture awards. I did not feel that Million Dollar Baby stood out as clearly the best film among the nominees and I thought that the academy would likely split the direction and best picture awards between Aviator and Million Dollar Baby.

Finally, would someone please get Sean Penn a sense of humor.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Wilder Campaign Fund missing $169K

The RT-D tries to unravel what has happened to the $172,000 that Doug Wilder had left over from his 1989 campaign for governor.

No finance reports have been filed since 1999, despite laws to the contrary.

Is Chap Chicken?

The RT-D covers Viola Baskerville's decision not to refile for her House seat. Baskerville is running for the Democratic Lt. Gov. nomination.

Chap Petersen, on the other hand, plans to refile for his House seat, and won't withdraw unless he gets the nomination.

I think that Del. Baskerville probably considers herself to have had a successful public life, and would be satisfied to return to private life. Del. Petersen probably thinks that he has more to accomplish, even if he doesn't win the Lt. Gov. nomination.

But in this business, you never pass up a chance at alliteration.

Baby Addison is awesome

That is all.

Friday, February 25, 2005

State senators ask Potts to resign chairmanship

From the AP:
In a two-hour closed-door meeting after the announcement, Senate Republicans voted to ask Potts to resign from the party and surrender his committee chairmanship and other committee assignments.

"Failure to do so will require us to consider future appropriate actions in accordance with Senate Republican Caucus rules and the rules of the Virginia Senate," the caucus said in a letter to Potts.

"I absolutely, unequivocally refuse," Potts told reporters. "It's my party too."

Potts said the caucus did not have the four-fifths vote necessary to oust him, even though the letter was signed by all 23 of his GOP colleagues. It would take 27 votes in the 40-member Senate to strip him of his committee assignments.
Here's where it gets tricky. The Senate Rules don't exactly speak to this.

Rule 8a states:
Should any Senator, however, during his term of office, cease to be a member of the political party of which he was a member at the time of his election or if a special election results in a change of political party membership, the Clerk of the Senate, upon such change in political party membership, is authorized to reassign chamber desks and office space accordingly.

Rule 20a states:
Should any Senator, during his term of office, cease to be a member of the political party of which he was a member at the time of his election, he shall be deemed, thereby, to have forfeited all Committee memberships to which he may have been elected.
If I understand Potts, correctly, he's denying that he's left the Republican party and is daring the caucus to kick him out. He hints that the number of Republicans who would have to vote to kick him out is 80%, or 19 Senators. Even if Chichester, Quayle, and Potts don't vote to do it, that leaves a one cushion margin. Stolle, Stosch, Norment, or Wampler could protect Potts, but they all signed the letter asking him to resign.

There's no need to take it to a 2/3 vote of the entire Senate. Either there are enough votes for the caucus to kick Potts out, or there aren't enough votes to do anything.

Putting together my analysis of Potts' run

I need some more information, and Russ Potts campaign web page has ZERO issues on it.

Can anyone tell me a single issue on which Russ Potts is to the right of Tim Kaine?

Leave a comment. If you want to say that Potts is an "investor" and that's a conservative value, fine - post it.

The only two things that I can come up with is that Potts wants to reinstate the car tax and raise the gas tax.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Kilgore campaign leaks Potts' Plans

He'll be running as an independent.
The announcement today that Russ Potts (I-Winchester) will run for Governor as an Independent can only be seen as a tremendous setback for the Kaine for Governor campaign. Now, the High Tax/Big Government Spending lobby has two liberal candidates to choose from in the race for Governor. What we have here today is not a split within the Republican Party, but rather a colossal fissure among the High Tax/Big Government Spending coalition.

Russ Potts will only take votes away from Tim Kaine's base of supporters who believe a $1.4 billion tax increase and a $1.5 billion budget surplus is not enough for their big government appetite.

There are now two liberal candidates for Governor who are equally committed to raising taxes next year and only one candidate who is not only against further tax increases, but also is in favor of tax relief. The Kilgore for Governor campaign has two advantages: first, a majority of the voters agree with Jerry that we do not need to raise taxes, and second, the minority supporting tax increases have two candidates to split their votes between.

Russ Potts's candidacy poses additional electoral math problems for Tim Kaine. First and foremost, he will run lockstep with Tim Kaine on the issue of abortion and will be appealing to those liberal activists who support abortion on demand and feel like Tim Kaine has taken their support of his candidacy for granted. Russ Potts' strong ties to the leadership of the teachers' union and the Virginia Chapter of the AFL-CIO will more than certainly draw votes away from Tim Kaine.
Other people have pointed out that Potts will do the deed as an independent (here and here).

We'll have details as soon as Potts makes it official tomorrow.

I know you are but what am I?

Hunter Andrews' widow received two resolutions today in the Senate.
In the Senate, Cynthia Andrews, Hunter Andrews' widow, accepted two framed resolutions honoring the longtime Senate Finance Committee chairman.

And in doing so, she showed some of her husband's knack for being outspoken on state policy. She praised the Senate for resisting an effort to end the use of automated cameras trained on intersections in some localities to catch drivers who run red lights.

"One reason I love the Senate is the Senate has good sense," she said. "Anyone who would vote against the 'photo red' bill is a red light runner himself."
Andrews concluded by saying, "Whoever smelt it, dealt it."

Yet another Delegate Steps Aside

The Virginian-Pilot adds another name to the growing list of Delegates not seeking re-election this year. This time, it's Delegate James Dillard (R-Fairfax) who is retiring after 32 years in office. Dillard, of course, was one of the 17 GOP delegates who broke ranks to help pass the largest tax increase in Virginia's history. In his farewell speech he offered no contrition, instead urging his colleagues to continue raising taxes. No word from the Pilot on who may seek to replace him.

Addison Adds

I particularly like this quote from the RT-D:
"People say to me, `Dillard, are you a liberal?' Sometimes they ask, `You a moderate?' and others say `Are you a conservative?'" Dillard said. "I say I'm not really any of those. I'm a Virginian."
I'm going out on a limb here and guessing that no one has asked Dillard the third question in at least ten years.

This sets the stage for an election between Michael Golden and David Marsden.

Former Bridgewater professor charged with sex crime

The DNR reports that a 35-year old former english professor from Bridgewater College is being charged with soliciting via the internet and engaging in sex with a 16-year old girl. The story says that the affair ended once the professor began dating a Bridgewater student. This kind of story will undoubtedly shake the small, religious college which has more recently been known for their success on the football field. The story is most unfortunate for Bridgewater's President, Dr. Phillip C. Stone, who has done an excellent job during his tenure of raising the profile of this tiny private college located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley.

Just the Good Ol' Boys...

The RTD has an article today about the greatest TV show of all time, The Dukes of Hazzard. Sure, go ahead and make fun of the simple plots, redneck stereotypes, and unbelievable stunts, but I was raised on this show and still consider Cousins Bo, Luke and Daisy part of my own family. Ben "Cooter" Jones, who you might remember from his Congressional run against Eric Cantor, has an interesting comment about the "red state" appeal of the show. Truly, by today's reality-TV standards, even Daisy's short shorts look tame.

Needless to say, I am quite excited that the Dukes will be coming back to TV on CMT. I am a little more hesitant to get excited for the show's big screen treatment coming this summer. I am miffed by the selection of Jessica Simpson to play Daisy, who was always the smartest character on the show. I'll still be there on opening weekend, but my hopes aren't high.

The Dukes also offer a nice segue to an article this morning from the Christian Science Monitor (tip of the cap to Drudge) about the growing debate over southern culture. The article notes that the debate has moved well beyond its traditional emblems and outside its natural borders. The CSM also seems to echo my observations about the "southernization" of America:
Some observers see a note of irony in the growing suppression of conservative Southern memorials at a time when old Confederate values like militarism, chivalry, gentility, and religiosity are gaining political prominence.

I'm sure that the blue staters will argue that the influence of southern culture is shrinking, not growing. I'd respond not just with election results, but also anecdotal evidence like a Krispy Kreme in Times Square and Country Music at the Super Bowl and NBA All-Star Game. In the meantime, I'll just let Waylon Jennings keep singing me to sleep.

DEA busts Ecstasy production operation in Blacksburg

The Roanoke Times has more info about a huge drug bust in Blacksburg earlier this month. The two defendants allegedly produced some 6,000 capsules of Ecstasy in the basement of their residence and then distributed the drug during parties they held there. The federal prosecutor has described this as the first Ecstasy lab found in Western Virginia.

Here I thought all the ecstasy at Virginia Tech was due to the success of the football team.

Secession fever. Catch it!

After yesterday's story about a Washington State senator pushing for independence for the eastern half of the state, here's a story today about a reinvigorated secession movement in Texas. While I'd hate to see the Lone Star State leave the union, one secession movement I can certainly jump on board with is that of MoveOnCalifornia.org. They'd be missed, but not by me.

GA reaches budget deal

It's all but over. You can read about it in the WP, RT-D, and Daily Press.

First the spin, from the WP:

The decision would make good on a pledge put forth by lawmakers last year as they raised taxes for core services but abandoned efforts to boost spending on transportation.

Oh, really, Mr. Shear? All core services? Isn't that the problem? And which lawmakers made these promises?

The Reverend Kirk Cox preaches the gospel:

"The problem with John [Chichester] is that everything is a tax increase," said House Majority Whip M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights).

The details
  • $848 million for roads. These are one time expenditures used to jump start some proposals and get others back on track.
  • Lowering the sales tax on food. This was my #1 priority for the session.
  • $200 million to phase out the sales tax advance. This was my #2 priority for the session. I am disappointed that the negotiators couldn't find the additional $52 million to finish the job, but 96% of businesses get their loans back.
  • 3% raises for state employees - total of $16 million
  • Governor's pay raise to $175K, and AG's pay raise to $150K

UVA to replace Alderman Road residences

Wonder what TJU is going to do with $20K in tuition, room and board? Some of it is going to be spent to replace the Alderman Road dorms.
"...Characterized as a corroding “train wreck” with little personality..."
What is it about buildings taking the characteristics of their inhabitants?

Potts calls 10 AM press conference

Potts to announce intentions
Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr. of Winchester, a sports promoter known for prickly populism, is expected to disclose his intentions at a news conference tomorrowFriday at 10 a.m. in the Old Senate Chamber of the state Capitol.

Neither Potts nor his principal adviser, Thomas J. D'Amore Jr., would provide a sneak peek yesterday of Potts' plans, which -- if he runs outside his party -- would assure Virginians a three-way race for governor.

"He's going to give his intentions as to going to forward," said D'Amore, a former Connecticut Republican chairman who is traveling from Hartford to attend the announcement. "I'm not going to be unnecessarily coy."

Fitch Challenges Kilgore to Debate - Will Kilgore Accept?

LOL. Not in this lifetime.

Like Steve Baril before him, George Fitch has everything to gain from debating Kilgore. Kilgore has everything to lose.

Unlike Baril, though, Fitch admits that he doesn't expect Kilgore to debate him:
The response from the Kilgore campaign: "We are focused on our real opponent, Tim Kaine, and we look forward to debating the issues with him over the coming months," spokesman Tim Murtaugh told the AFP.

Fitch said he "had a feeling that would be the response from the Kilgore camp."

"It seems their strategy in coping with the challenge that I represent is going to be to ignore me. Fine. He can pretend that I don't exist," Fitch said.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Secession movement in Washington State?

YahooNews reports that a Republican State Senator in Washington has introduced a bill to form a new state out of the 20 counties east of the Cascade mountains. This radical proposal is the result of a lot of frustration over the results of last November's Gubernatorial election. If you haven't been following the drama, Republican candidate Dino Rossi won the initial ballot count, as well as the recount, but on the third count, Democrat Christine Gregoire was declared the winner by 129 votes after some mysteriously "overlooked' votes were found in heavily Democratic King county. The Washington GOP filed suit to have the results overturned and just yesterday, they announced that some 1,108 felons had voted illegally in the election, most of them in King County.

Interestingly, this is not the first time that pacific northwesterners have attempted secession. In the 1940's counties from southern Oregon and northern California attempted to form a new state of Jefferson. There has also been a movement to form an independent nation of Cascadia in the area, as well as a state called Columbia consisting of parts of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Must be something in the water up there.

Another Open Seat in the Valley?

After reporting yesterday that Delegate Louderback would not seek re-election, the DNR today looks at potential successors for Delegate Glenn Weatherholtz (R-Harrisonburg) in the 26th district. While Weatherholtz's aide John Elledge has indicated his desire to run for the seat of his boss steps down, it appears from the article that he does not have the support of local Republican leaders. The alternative candidate is apparently Rockingham County School Board Chairman Matt Lohr. Lohr is a resident of Broadway, a farmer, and best of all, a Virginia Tech graduate.

Weatherholtz is responsible for the controversial bill to ban public school clubs that promote sexual behavior. The AFP has more on this bill. The bill passed the House by a vote of 95-0, but likely won't see the floor of the Senate.

Also, the AFP and Valley Republican have more on Louderback's retirement.

Norma McCorvey's Petition for Cert Denied Yesterday

Norma McCorvey's petition for cert for an overturning of the case which she made possible so many years ago was denied yesterday by the Supreme Court without opinion. This was not surprising whatsoever, given the fact that the court's composition would have to change signficantly before Roe v. Wade would be overturned. The media did not cover the story at all. I could not find any stories about it. If you have one, please link it.

What is disappointing is that many pro-lifers got very excited about this and were praying and agitating and raising awareness about this cert petition when there was little or no chance of the Supreme Court taking this case. I think it's dangerous to get the base of the pro-life movement excited and mobilized about hopeless causes. It's damaging to the ability of the movement to persevere. The fact is we have to gain two more pro-life seats on the Supreme Court, somehow. Until we can do that, no change will occur. So let's not create false hopes and then dash those hopes on the rocks.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Is Federalism dying?

By way of CC, Rick Sincere has picked up a great letter to the editor by Wyatt Durrette.

Durrette is worried about the erosion of Federalism by Congress, and I couldn't agree more. Many thought that the early years of the Rehnquist Court would harken a return to the principles of federalism after the growth of the Federal government in the 60s and 70s. The hopes were strengthened by Newt Gingrich and the Contract for America.

Unfortunately, the Republicans in majority were quite different than the Republicans in minority. Additionally, the Rehnquist court hasn't taken as aggressive as stance in the last few years.

I'm a big Federalism fan, and no one has done more to foster these ideals than the Federalist Society.

Is the DNC going to complete their Kaine pledge?

Commonwealth Conservative discovers this story, which says the DNC is spending down their cash reserves. John wonders whether they'll have enough money to complete their $5 million pledge to the 2005 Virginia elections.

Another fact in a similar vein is that Terry McAuliffe has inhibited Howard Dean's ability to raise money.
Former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe left a few surprises for incoming DNC chair Howie Dean. Perhaps the biggest was McAuliffe's decision to give to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) full access to the DNC's donor database known as "Demzilla."

McAuliffe didn't consult with Dean or any of Dean's advisers in giving the two congressional campaign committees access to the list. For years, the DNC has given its party's House and Senate campaign committees access to its version of the data base, but that's partly because both committees help finance the list and its upkeep. Neither Democratic committee will be paying the DNC a dime for what many on Capitol Hill consider a huge windfall to the DCCC and the DSCC.

Dean was not happy when he learned of McAuliffe's decision. "He was pissed," says a former Dean campaign staffer, now at the DNC. "Demzilla is one of the few tools the DNC had that it can leverage for fundraising. The money we raise would then be used to help support Democratic candidates and the party operations. Now everyone has the same list, the same data. The DNC has no chit to play."
Demzilla was McAuliffe's pride and joy, and he used it to great effectiveness in restoring the DNC to fundraising success. Giving the list to Pelosi and Reid has symbolic power - it suggests that McAuliffe is worried about putting the future of the party in Dean's hands. There's a disconnect between the hard-left faction of the party that supported Dean and those that want a more pragmatic approach. And that's really saying something to choose Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid as a more temperate alternative.

There's also a real financial impact to McAuliffe's move. By giving the Congressional committees the direct ability to raise their own money, he eliminates one important point of leverage that the DNC possessed. If you are a donor in Demzilla, and you get two fundraising appeals, are you going to answer the one from the Congressional committee or the one from the DNC?

Valley Delegate to Step Down

The DNR is reporting that Delegate Allen Louderback (R-Luray), who represents the 15th district, will not seek election to a fourth term. The 15th district covers all of Page, Rappahannock, and Shenandoah counties, as well as part of Rockingham county. The district is solidly Republican and should remain in GOP control. The DNR lists Shenandoah County Commonwealth Attorney Todd Gilbert and former Page County GOP Chairman Brian Plum as potential candidates for the seat.

Addition from Addison
Louderback is perhaps most famous for his proposals to eliminate tax exemptions from the Virginia tax code (and lower the rates across the board).

His ideas came to fruition in HB1488. HB1488 was the House counterproposal to the Senate's $4 billion bohemeth last session. The final compromise budget only ended three exemptions, and Louderback voted against it.

Louderback will be missed because he means tax reform when he says it. Our Connecticut governor and his heir apparent mean something entirely different when they talk about "reform."

Monday, February 21, 2005

A Tribute on President's Day

This day we honor two Presidents who, together, are probably most responsible for the nation we know today. Washington led the charge to freedom and guided the nation in its infancy, setting a standard for all who would follow. Lincoln kept the nation together through sheer force of will and presided over the most challenging chapter in American history. Here, some thoughts in their own words:
If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War.
-George Washington in his 5th annual address to Congress

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free Country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective Constitutional Spheres; avoiding in the exercise of the Powers of one department to encroach upon another.
-George Washington in his farewell address

I know that the LORD is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the LORD’S side.
-Abraham Lincoln

The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves—in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere.
-Abraham Lincoln

What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties, without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, every where. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors.
-Abraham Lincoln

Daytona 500 grabs highest ratings ever

Not to turn this into a NASCAR blog (though if you can point me to a good one, i'd be much obliged), but the actual demographics seem to bear out anectdotal evidence of the broadening appeal of the sport. According to this story, the Daytona 500 put up impressive numbers in some not-so traditional markets like New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. The broadcast numbers would also place it among the top ten prime time TV shows.

While the liberal media elite may decry these numbers as evidence of our culture's decline, it is clear evidence to me that those misguided individuals are increasingly in the minority. The popularity of NASCAR is, of course, strongest in the "red states." To me, the sport's growth is just another sign of the growing appeal of the ideals that belong to the hard-working, self-reliant, god-fearing, patriotic folks who inhabit those "red states." I'll just call it the "southernization" of America.

By the way, Jeff Gordon is still a pretty-boy punk.

Counter-Culture Icon Commits Suicide

It is being reported that author Hunter S. Thompson, probably best known for his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, has killed himself. Though I can't stand the man, he has long been a larger-than-life figure in American culture and his writing was always provocative and original. ESPN.com's Page 2, for which he was a frequent contributor, has more.

Potts Playing the Potter Role from It's a Wonderful Life

What a bitter, bitter man. He obviously has no life. Many of you have already enjoyed www.stoppotts.com, the anti-Russ Potts website "exposing" him for who he really is. I find the similarity of his name to the Potter character in It's a Wonderful Life quite convenient for analogies. He even looks like him and talks like him a bit.

I'm personally sick of this mantra from so many sources about this new factionalism in the Republican Party. There have always been factions within the Republican Party. It is in the very nature and character of political parties to have personalities and ideologies struggling for control of the party. In the 1980s, we saw a very intense battle between the Christian right embodied in the Moral Majority, Pat Robertson, and the Christian Coalition versus the more traditional country-club Republican types. The caucus meetings for sending people to state conventions were heated and nasty. In 1993, we saw John Warner turn his back on Mike Farris, the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor, accusing him of all sorts of barbaric practices. Again in 1994, John Warner abandoned the Republican Party nominee, this time in the person of Ollie North and endorsed a third party candidate, Marshall Coleman, who had twice been the unsuccessful Republican candidate for Governor in the 1980s. In 2001, the split between Hager and Earley was a little more tame, but still many Hagerites refused to vote for Earley. The fact is a split between moderates and the right of the Republican Party of Virgina is not new. It's always existed, and it comes and goes regularly depending on the situation. It keeps the party young and brings new people into the party, strengthening us in the end. That's the benefit of factions in a party system. We come together at the end. For those of us who don't know how to come together (thank you, John Warner, you traitor), we will not forget.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Motorsports in the South

As I spend an enjoyable Sunday watching the Daytona 500, I stumbled across a story on the changing face of NASCAR.
Once the province of bootleggers and backwoodsmen, its appeal largely limited to the Southeast, NASCAR is now a full-service entertainment juggernaut that trails only the NFL in its reach and ambition. The rolling billboards that used to peddle tires and motor oil at ramshackle ovals in small towns just a decade ago now zoom down new speedways in the shadows of big cities, selling cereal, office supplies, internet providers and even Viagra to a worldwide audience of 75 million.

But on the eve of the 47th running of the Daytona 500, managing that explosive growth is proving every bit as challenging as achieving it.

Every change in the sport, from the launch of a playoff system last season to the crackdown on drivers' conduct and language, invariably brings howls from a core audience increasingly worried the sport has become more homogeneous than homespun, more choreographed than chaotic.
Rockingham lost its spring race to California Speedway and its fall race to Texas Motor Speedway. Darlington lost its fall race to Phoenix International Raceway. Ten years ago, there were nine races in North and South Carolina. That number is down to four. I think the two Virginia raceways, Martinsville and Richmond, are safe.

From a political perspective, I hope that the growth and diversification of the sport will end the "NASCAR dad" demographic. I hate demographics.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

It was the best of basketball times, it was the best of basketball times

2 wins, 0 losses today.

The Hokies got it done against Miami and avoided the classic let-down game.

My youth team won again. My favorite point guard tripped an opposing player, lost his balance, and ended up sitting on the other guys head. Foul. We gave him the award for best defense.

Dillard accused of laundering funds

The Burke Connection publishes this story about the way in which James Dillard has funded his aide's campaign. His aide, David Marsden, is running as a Democrat, and apparently Dillard didn't want to just transfer the money to Marsden outright. Instead, he paid Marsden for "constituent services" and then Marsden deposited the money himself.

This has been brought to my attention twice in the last few weeks, but I keep forgetting to blog about it. You can see the deal go down here. Jim Dillard transfers $10,000 to David Marsden and his wife on 12/01/04. Then in late December, Marsden and another family member deposit $10,000 into Marsden's campaign account.

Several thoughts:
  • Burke Connection was told about this story by a disgruntled Democrat. That says that there are still plenty of people who don't like the idea that Dillard, nominally a Republican, would be meddling in the Democrat's nominating process.
  • This indicates the porous nature of Virginia's campaign finance system. There are no checks on transfers in and out of accounts. At a minimum, I would like to see some descripton of what exactly Marsden did to earn these funds (in an off-year) and what his hourly rate works out to be.
  • The fact that Dillard feels so comfortable donating to a Democrat indicates how badly we need Michael Golden to win this seat!

Ken Redick's sob story

The Roanoke Times has this redick-ulous story today saying that J.J. Redick's father was threatened by Virginia Tech fans after their win over Duke on Thursday night. Most of Redick's claims are refuted by VT athletic department officials and the story says nothing about what part, if any, Mr. Redick himself may have played in the confrontation. Needless to say Virginia Tech fans and Duke fans have different takes on the story. The most unbelievable claim to me is that the Duke fans were trapped by VT fans for 15 minutes after the game and were unable to leave. Sounds a lot like sour grapes to me.

By the way, I can't tell you how pleased I am to hear John at CC admit to rooting for the Hokies.

Friday, February 18, 2005

More Signs of the Apocalypse

On the heels of Virginia Tech's historic win over the Duke Blue Devils (I just love saying that), comes the news that Roanoke is getting a Starbucks. The Roanoke Times wonders whether this means that Roanoke is now "hip" or if the coffee chain is just lowering its standards. My favorite quote of the piece is this from Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce Director, Beth Doughty:
Maybe we're almost there, Doughty said. "We get a Williams-Sonoma and a Crate and Barrel and we're done."

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Libertarian to challenge Ken Plum

from the Libertarian Party of Virginia:

Donny Ferguson, a Reston Libertarian, will oppose Delegate Ken Plum in the Nov. 8 general election. Ferguson works for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, dealing with traffic, growth and budgetary issues.

"You'd think Plum would know his district doesn't support his call for higher tolls, seeing as they already voted against his call for higher taxes for transit in 2002," said Ferguson, citing the 36th District's rejection of a referendum Plum supported. "Voters want proven solutions to traffic congestion, not outdated ideas and another round of Ken Plum's tax hikes."

...

Ferguson will introduce tax-limitation legislation modeled after Colorado's successful "Taxpayer's Bill of Rights," which has been adopted in dozens of other states.


This district is hard to get a handle on. It generally includes Reston, which is a young area. At the same time, Del. Plum doesn't really capture a lot of cross over votes. Northern Virginia generally has low voter turnout, so a few dedicated people could swing this Ferguson's way.

Hell Freezes Over

Virginia Tech 67, Duke 65

I thought that it would take at least five years for VT to get a win over Duke.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Carnage in the Senate

It's been a rough couple of days for House bills in the Senate.

From most to least relevant.

1) The Senate Finance committee took the Transportation bill House and substituted the text of the Senate bill. The House will do the same, so the House bill number will contain the Senate text, and the Senate bill number will contain the House text. Then it gets sent to commitee, where who knows what happens.

2) The Senate Finance committee also killed the House's plan to fully phase out the car tax. It apparently died for lack of a motion, so no Senator has to go on the record as opposing it. At the same time, every House member gets to say that they tried and the Senate just wouldn't go along. We'll see if that flies in November, especially for Joe May, Vince Callahan, and Riley Ingram.

3) Senate Privileges and Elections referred Bill Carrico's Religion Amendment over to Senate Courts of Justice. It will almost assuredly die there. I didn't think this bill did much harm or much good. The Federal Constitution controls in 1st amendment issues. When's the last time you ever heard of someone bringing a Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom claim (on either side)?

4) Dick Black's gay adoption bill was killed. I thought that this was workable, but the Senate members thought that there were enforcement difficulties and that it was "bigoted." It also didn't help that one of Black's witnesses had been expelled from the American Psychological Association. Even if it was for "political differences," it doesn't really start thing off on the right foot.

ACC to use instant replay

ESPN is reporting that the ACC will become the latest conference to experiment with instant replay in league football games. Last season, instant replay was used in the Big Ten, with mostly successful results. As a traditionalist, I am hesitant to accept the addition of instant replay to college football. However, it is difficult to deny that as the sport has emerged into a multi-million dollar industry (of which the athletes get none, but that's another issue) the need for officials to "get it right" has also grown in importance. I will be interested to see how this works. Naturally, if the calls go against the Hokies, I'll be against it.

Unintentional Comedy Level: High

Drudge informs us that the US Navy has decided to commission a brand new attack submarine: the USS Jimmy Carter. If you don't find that hilarious, then you have no sense of humor. I can't think of anything more emasculating for a naval officer than having your craft associated with our nation's most mild-mannered Commander-in-Chief. Seriously, this is a guy whose idea of sticking it to the Soviets was keeping our athletes out of the Olympics. Let the ribbing begin.

Assault on the Blogosphere

Redstate keys us into an extremely relevant story to those of us here in the blogosphere. Apparently a Tulsa, OK newspaper, the Tulsa World, has threatened legal action against a local blogger unless he stops linking to and excerpting its articles on his website. Linking and excerpting news stories from other sources is quite obviously the bread and butter of the blogger community. Clearly it is illegal to take another person's material and pass it off as your own. It is also illegal to take another person's material without their permission and use it for personal financial gain. It is hard to believe that the activities dealt with here might constitute copyright infringement, but we will be watching this closely.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Power to the People

With a tip of the cap to RealClearPolitics, Wired magazine has an excellent, thorough article making the case for nuclear power in the United States. This is an issue that I have felt strongly about for some time. Due to irrational fears about safety, the US hasn't built any nuclear power plants since the 1970s. In fact, we are well behind the rest of the modern industrialized world when it comes to the use of nuclear power. Unfortunately, the spectre of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island continues to loom over the minds of the American public and prevent Congress from making real progress when it comes to national energy policy. The reality is that nuclear power is cleaner, safer and more cost-efficient than coal power. While other energy alternatives exist, none can compare to the effectiveness of nuclear power. This article does a great job dispelling myths, analyzing the benefits, and adressing the concerns that come with the debate over nuclear power. I have often hoped that the US would begin to look seriously at nuclear alternatives to its energy problems. Now it looks as though the policymakers' eyes are finally being opened to the possibilities.

Who is George Fitch?

The Augusta Free Press has a solid bio piece today about Fitch. If you've been living in a cave for the past couple weeks, Fitch is the mayor of Warrenton who has decided to challenge AG Jerry Kilgore for the GOP nomination for Governor. If there is one thing I can agree with him on, it is the urgent need for someone to stop feeding the leviathan that is our State government. The General Assembly has been gorging itself on taxpayer dollars ever since George Allen left office and its appetite doesn't look to be satiated anytime soon. Don't get me wrong, I firmly support Kilgore and I believe he has the desire to limit government spending and cut taxes. Here's hoping that Fitch's challenge gives him the will to do so.

Also check out Valley Republican's coverage and astute analysis of the Fitch campaign.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Text of the Baril challenge to McDonnell

On the heels of Saturday's Steve Baril Digest, the Daily Press has most of the text of Steve Baril's letter to Bob McDonnell. The Daily Press endorses the idea of a series of debates.

I think that McDonnell's answer is pretty clear from Janet Polarek's comments in the Augusta Free Press.

The Daily Press editorial does reveal that the two debates already agreed to are April 5th in Norfolk and April 28th in Petersburg (at VSU).

April 28th is a long time before June 14th. The candidates will fill that void with about $1 million of TV commercials and direct mailings.

Law Students helping to build a case against Saddam

Here is a really interesting article from the Virginian-Pilot about the role that some William and Mary law students are taking in the trial against Saddam and his henchmen. These students have a unique opportunity to be involved in a case with such far-reaching implications before even entering the practice of law. How cool would would it be to say you had a hand in convicting one of the 20th century's most ruthless and evil tyrants.

Let the Dean Era begin

On behalf of us at Sic Semper Tyrannis, I would like to offer hearty congratulations to Howard Dean on his election to the Chairmanship of the DNC. Republicans everywhere are rejoicing at the Deaniacs' hostile takeover of what I am sure is soon to be known as the Anti-Bush Party. With a tip of the cap to the Augusta Free Press, I particularly enjoyed reading RPV Chair Kate Obenshain Griffin's thoughts on the matter: "It is clear the Democrat Party has officially gone full-tilt in favor of their true leftist liberal leanings."

I'll drink to that.

Paging the Pages

Things must be moving pretty slow in the General Assembly right now as a couple of papers have turned their attention away from the legislators and are now reporting on the lives of the House and Senate pages. The Roanoke Times had two articles (here and here) yesterday about the young men and women who work behind the scenes during the session. Today the Daily News-Record chimes in with a local perspective on those six weeks in Richmond. This sounds like a great first-hand experience in state government for these kids and makes me wish I had thought of doing it when I was younger.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A milestone for Roanoke's Millionaires Club

I am compelled to link this wonderful story about the Texas Tavern's 75th birthday. The Tavern is one of the most unique places on earth. If you have never ventured into the tiny white building on Church Street in downtown Roanoke, you are missing out. Many a sleepless night has been spent there pondering the answers to life's great questions over a bowl of delicious chili. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

It was the best of basketball times, it was the worst of basketball times...

The 3rd and 4th grade boys basketball team that I coach just won their fifth straight game. We are known for our tenacious defense and high octane offense.

Congrats to UVA for their victory over VT this afternoon. I think Gillen's slow-it-down offense is brilliant for the players UVA has. If UVA goes on a run, will Gillen save his job?

Sen. Allen to tour Middle East

from Richmond.com

U.S. Senator George Allen (R-VA), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will be traveling in the next few days to the Middle East to meet with government and military officials in Iraq and Israel.

In Iraq, the Senator will be meeting with: Virginia troops stationed in the country; members of the new Iraqi government; members of the U.S. Embassy team; and General George Casey, Commander of the Multi-National Force – Iraq. Due to the sensitive nature of the information, the military has asked that the exact dates and times of the meetings not be released.

While in Israel, Allen will hold meetings with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other Israeli leaders about their new plans to create a lasting peace with the Palestinians.

On Monday, a satellite feed and radio actuality of Allen from the Middle East will be made available to the press.
This junket is the beginning of the effort to improve Sen. Allen's foreign policy credentials. Here's hoping that it's a successful effort.

Should I be looking at a career as a sports promoter?

Has anyone else thought about the fact that the two challengers to Jerry Kilgore for the Republican gubernatorial nomination are sports promoter Russ Potts and sports promoter George Fitch?

Creigh Deeds - clear as mud

I've mentioned in the past that I think Creigh Deeds is squirrelly.

Today the Daily Progress breaks down a true Senate-House conflict. The Senate, see, wants to connect the GAB (offices and committee rooms) with the Capitol by way of an underground tunnel. To the populist House, this is a big waste of money.

What does Deeds think?
Deeds said the tunnel doesn’t seem extravagant, given possible security concerns, but “I just don’t think it’s absolutely necessary.”

“In the House of Delegates, you are always in the campaign mode,” Deeds said. His unstated implication is that the Virginia Senate operates in a different mode, perhaps with a longer-term view.

“It’s my 14th session, and security is much changed,” Deeds said. “There are metal detectors everywhere. I could see in the future it could be a security issue.”
That clears it up nicely.

Steve Baril Digest

There has been a plethora of Steve Baril posts in the blogosphere recently. I'll summarize them here:

1) Baril campaign paying for signatures
2) Baril campaign lacks definition and may not be managed properly
3) Baril challenges McDonnell to seven debates in April
4a) The debate challenger is always behind
4b) How can a Williams Mullen partner be an outsider? (Not to mention how a governor's son-in-law can be an outsider)

I also have heard #1 and #2. I think Steve's analysis on 4a and 4b are exactly correct. My opinion about the Baril campaign can be summed up in one world - ambivalence. It's not that I don't like Steve Baril or can even identify any difference of political opinion. It's that there's nothing to get me excited about his candidacy.

Since most people give Baril little chance, why isn't he pursuing the Kilgore '97 strategy? Kilgore had almost no name recognition in 1997. He ran a positive campaign, stayed out of the slime that consumed Ken Stolle's campaign, and finished a strong second. Kilgore's 1997 finish assured him only token opposition for the nomination in 2001.

Baril could build his network through June, hoard his cash, and get ready for 2009. He'd only be 54, which is plenty young for a statewide candidate. It's not guaranteed that he would win, but he'd have a better chance than this year.

NOTE:
I've found one of the two scheduled debates between McDonnell and Baril. It's April 5th in Norfolk. If anyone knows the other one, drop me a line.

January Revenue up 20%

The AP tells us that January tax revenue was up 20% over January 2004. Over the first seven months of FY 2004-2005, revenue is running 14.3% ahead of the first seven months of FY 2003-2004.


The glowing fiscal news comes a year after the General Assembly deadlocked in a bitter battle over the need for additional taxes just before an economic expansion took hold last spring.

The current boom, largely driven by federal spending for defense and homeland security needs in northern Virginia, forced Warner last month to adjust his economic forecast upward by $282 million in the midst of a General Assembly session.

Republicans, particularly conservatives in the House, have accused Warner of hiding news of a pending recovery last winter to ratchet up public pressure on lawmakers to pass a $1.4 billion tax increase. The economic turnaround, they say, proves their contention that the additional taxes were unneeded.

In his memo to Warner, however, Bennett cautions that the wildest growth in state revenues is from the hardest-to-predict sources.

That poor Mark Warner. The gun was held to his head, and he was "forced" to revise his estimates. Here's what my back of the envelope maths says. The 2004-2005 needed 8.2% revenue growth to be balanced. On approximately a $60 billion budget, a 2% revenue growth above the 8.2% would MORE THAN COVER the tax increase. And although Warned claims that the growth in revenue comes from "hard to predict" sources, even sales tax (ignoring the .5% increase) was up around 10%.

Even if Warner's analysts aren't good enough to forecast the tricky parts of revenue, there has been enough growth in other parts to indicate that the tax increase was wholly unnecessary.

Virginia Citizens Defense League to sue over gun ban

The Washington Times is reporting that the VCDL will sue the General Assembly over the gun ban enacted this session.
Mr. Van Cleave said state police sent his group a letter that stated it was unlawful for a person to openly carry a weapon without possessing a concealed-weapons permit. "Rights have been violated," he said.

Mr. Van Cleave thinks that letter will be enough to persuade a judge to overturn the ban.

The office of Attorney General Judith W. Jagdmann did not have a position on the matter yesterday, and will not be able to comment once there is pending litigation.

Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle, Virginia Beach Republican and a member of the 14-person Joint Rules Committee that passed the ban last spring, said he thinks the ban is "fair" and "responsible."

Mr. Stolle said even though he supports Second Amendment rights, he sees it as a safety issue and doesn't want the ban lifted.

Gun safety advocates also support the ban.


In the past few years, it has been an...interesting sight to see. People's guns would be openly displayed, they would set off the metal detectors, and just proceed through. I never felt unsafe as a result, and I think the ban was just a preemptory move.

On the legal side, second amendment law is extremely sparse. I believe that the NRA and other groups have challenged gun legislation in the past. Usually, lower courts uphold restrictions, and the Supreme Court declines to rule.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Joe May's latest invention

Delegate Joe May is probably best known for his nineteen patents, but the candidate for Lt. Gov. certainly isn't resting on his laurels this legislative session. The Winchester Star reports today that May has proposed legislation to help address Northern Virginia's transportation problems by extending commuter rail all the way out to Haymarket. The three-year $123 million project would supposedly remove 4,200 vehicles from I-66 during rush hours. It's pretty clear that this is a short term band-aid on NoVa's transportation woes, but the more important question is "What does this do for May in the LG race?" I say it does nothing.

Speaking of development...

The RTD has a series of articles, starting with this one, about a proposal to build a new downtown ballpark in Richmond. As with seemingly all new developments, the idea of building a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom has engendered strong feelings on both sides. Opponents of the plan seek to go the cheaper route by renovating The Diamond, the current home of the Triple-A Richmond Braves. The idea's supporters note that the plan will use mostly private funds to develop a distressed area of the city with apartments, condos, shops and restaurants, along with the ballpark. A look at the proposed site is found here.

Unfortunately, many communities have recently fallen prey to the idea that brand-spanking new sports complexes can generate immediate growth in traditionally run-down areas. In many cases, these efforts do not achieve the desired results. However, the "mixed-use" plan offered here seems like a much more appropriate development plan that incorporates improvement of the whole community. While details are still coming out, on first impression this proposal seems like it has great potential to revitalize a part of our capital city that has been through some tough times.

It may be small, but it's growin'

In my past coverage of the 19th HoD district, I have mentioned the prevalence of land use issues in the area. The development of Botetourt and Bedford counties are a point of contention for residents who find their communities increasing encroached upon by the growth of areas like Roanoke and Smith Mountain Lake. Today, the Roanoke Times has this article looking at the conflict between the town of Fincastle and Botetourt County over development. While residents of Botetourt may not be keen to find themselves absorbed by the growth of Fincastle's boundaries, it seems the alternative is to be exposed to the ever-expanding reach of Roanoke's suburbs.

The guys over at Bacon's Rebellion talk a lot about these types of development issues that are facing communities all over the Commonwealth. I certainly appreciate their efforts to forge a starting point and framework for such an important discussion. One of the greatest things about Virginia is the wealth of natural beauty stretching from the shores of Accomack, through the plains of Loundon, to the mountains of Lee and Scott. Continued growth is great for Virginia, but not at the cost of God's magnificent creation. I encourage everyone who cares about our Commonwealth to take part in this debate.

Monarchs on the gridiron?

The Daily Press has this story today about the possibility of Old Dominion starting a football program. Such a move would make the third Virginia college in just a few years to start a football program from scratch, following on the heels of DIII Christopher Newport and NAIA Southern Virginia University. Christopher Newport's rapid rise, four playoff appearances in four years of existence, offers hope for another successful football program in the football-rich tidewater region. ODU would likely enter Division I-AA and would seem to be a natural fit for the Atlantic 10 football conference that includes William and Mary, JMU and Richmond, or perhaps the Big South that includes Liberty and VMI. In any case, it seems as though many alumni support the idea and the continued growth of Virginia's colleges and universities will likely aid the effort.

On a related note, if you haven't been paying attention, ODU's Men's basketball team is tearing through the CAA with a conference record of 12-1 and 22-3 overall. While the highest profile win they have is over St. Joe's, this could be a team to look out for in the NCAA tournament.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Hakeem Olajuwon funds terrorists

In a story that combines my dual obsessions, sports and politics, ESPN.com is reporting that a mosque founded by the former NBA All-Star gave more than $80,000 to organizations that later turned out to be fronts for Al-Qaida and Hamas. Olajuwon himself is not being investigated according to government officials.

Alabama Federal Judge Shuns Yale Law School

This is an awesome story. An Alabama federal judge has decided to refuse all applications from Yale Law students for a clerkship with him based on the fact that Yale Law School does not allow military recruiters on campus.

Apparently, the federal judge, Judge William Acker, Jr. is a Yale Law graduate himself and has had many Yale Law clerks over the years. He notified Dean Harold Koh of the law school of his intention to boycott all Yale clerks in a letter on Monday. Good to see somebody taking a stand!

Tobacco still rules in the Commonwealth

Thankfully, the Senate rejected a bill yesterday that would have banned smoking in many public places throughout Virginia. It was voted down by a tally of 26-14. While much of the nation has turned its back on the cash crop that made America possible, Virginia remains closely tied to the tobacco industry despite its recent struggles. While I am not a smoker, tobacco remains a product that lots of people want and should be free to use. I agree with Sen. Hawkins' assessment that restrictions should be made by the marketplace, not by the legislature.

Virginians' underwear gets national attention

The Virginia General Assembly is getting some national press for what may be one of the dumbest pieces of legislation ever considered by the body. Delegate Algie Howell has introduced a bill to levy a $50 fine against anyone whose underwear is displayed in a "lewd or indecent manner." The story is covered here, here, and here (among other places).

Ok, so there's no chance this bill will be passed, but why introduce it in the first place? Clearly it is intended to please some constituents who are offended by low-riding pants. But why can't Delgate Howell simply explain to them that such a bill is both foolish and pointless. Ignoring the obvious problems with enforcing such a law, this bill represents what George Allen likes to call "the nanny state" at its worst.

Besides, I am quite certain that public scorn and ridicule are much more effective deterrents than a $50 fine that will never be enforced. Thus, if you are offended by something that someone is wearing you'd be better off simply loudly saying "Oh my God, look at that guy's clothes! I can't believe he's wearing that!" than asking your legislator to outlaw such attire.

Fitch's Cool Bio

So as many of our fellow bloggers have already analyzed ad nauseam, George Fitch is running for governor, apparently against Jerry Kilgore for the Republican nomination, or perhaps not. But I just wanted to link to his website, and comment that you have to admit he has a far more entertaining biography than Jerry Kilgore has.

First, he coached the Jamaican bobsled team in the 1988 Calgary Olympics, immortalized by the movie Cool Runnings, starring John Candy, who plays George Fitch's character apparently.

Secondly, as Reagan's consul to Belize and commercial trade attache to Jamaica and France, he has significant foreign policy experience compared to Jerry Kilgore. Perhaps Fitch should be running for Ambassador to the U.N. or something.

Finally, and perhaps coolest of all, Fitch was born in Canton, China to a missionary family during the Communist Revolution. His father served in the OSS during World War II in China and also served with General Chennault's Flying Tigers. His grandfather, who wrote a book, called My Eighty Years in China was provost of Nanking during the Rape of Nanking in 1937.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

If it's good enough for California...

Today Sen. Russ Potts was defending two of his bills on the Senate floor. After being working into a tizzy over his plan to lower teaching licensure requirements for out of state teachers, he immediately was required to defend SB1194, which established a "Christopher Reeve Stem Cell Research Fund."

Sen. Ken Cuccinelli proposed an amendment to limit the fund to adult stem cell research. Ol' Russ, who probably knew the amendment was coming, went into full rhetoric mode. He claimed that Cuccinelli's amendment would "gut" the bill and render it worthless. He then began a list of people who his bill was "good enough for."

My favorite was, "If embryonic stem cell research is good enough for California, then it's good enough for Virginia."

Cuccinelli's amendment passed, and then SB1194 passed unanimously.

A Home Run for the Valley

Both the DNR and AFP have articles today about the Harrisonburg stadium proposal. The proposal also includes building a civic center, hotel, and retail shopping center on the site at the corner of Neff Avenue and Port Republic Road. The only developer involved in the bidding process is Harrisonburg Downtown Visions LLC, whose proposal will be reviewed by city officials in the coming weeks.

Minor league baseball is a wonderful community and family activity. I look forward to the day when Harrisonburg can take its place in the Commonwealth with the Salem Avalanche, Danville Braves, Pulaski Blue Jays, Richmond Braves, Norfolk Tides, Lynchburg Hillcats, and Potomac Cannons.

Gilmore to Endorse Kilgore

The Washington Post is reporting that Jim Gilmore will endorse Jerry Kilgore today.

Gilmore got what he wanted - a visible role - and is positioned for a comeback role in the future.
Gilmore will serve as honorary co-chairman of Kilgore's campaign, along with U.S. Sens. George Allen and John W. Warner. Kilgore, who resigned as attorney general Feb. 1 to run for office full time, will make the announcement Tuesday.

"The Warner governorship has been relentless about raising taxes. It's time for a change," Gilmore said of Gov. Mark R. Warner, a Democrat. "By asking me to serve, I think Jerry's signaling an intention to address this in a forthright way."
...
Gilmore has done little to quash rumors of a comeback. He said Monday that "I've indicated that I expect to be a candidate again at some point." But he said that he is fully supporting Kilgore this year.
Also, my man Mo gets a few spin bits in.

Mo Elleithee, a spokesman for Kaine, said, "It took three years to pull us out of the mess that Jim Gilmore left us in. The state is back on track and now Jerry Kilgore wraps his arms around Jim Gilmore. If he wants to tout support from Jim Gilmore, we'll shout it from the rooftops."
The Kaine campaign seems intent on making this about the car tax. It will be interesting to see whether the Senate will pass full phaseout in the next few weeks.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Iaquinto launches website

Sal Iaquinto, probable Republican nominee for the HoD seat currently held by Bob McDonnell, has launched his website.

You can visit it at http://www.salfordelegate.com.

Noise from the 19th

As a result of our coverage of the potential 19th district HoD race, one of our fans in Botetourt County forwarded me a copy of an editorial from the Fincastle Herald entitled "Not All Botetourt Republicans embrace Smith." Unfortunately, there is no electronic version available so I've reproduced parts of it here.

This well thought out, well written letter comes from Brian Brown, a member of the Buchanan Town Council. Brian states:
It is very interesting that the former Roanoke mayor, so recently removed from his "retirement," would want to move and represent Botetourt and Bedford Counties in Richmond. I for one do not support his quest to become a suitcase candidate.... I doubt I would be discussing his candidacy in Botetourt if the City of Roanoke had a history of supporting Republicans.
This criticism of Smith's political opportunism is one that I have heard from many sources. Essentially, many find it cowardly that Smith would abandon the city he has called home for some time so that he wouldn't have to face the prospect of being beaten in a fair fight.

Brown expounds on this theme later in his letter:
Never did Jefferson and the other founding fathers of our great Commonwealth envision Virginia as a place where we would have politicians move in order to take advantage of the political landscape to gain power.
Republicans have always supported the notion that power should be given to those at the lower levels of government because they know their community's needs. How can we, as Republicans, support someone who is so blatantly striving for power that he thinks he can come into our community and gain support just because he is from the same party?
These sentiments are not uncommon, which is why some party activists are reportedly urging Delegate Putney to remain in his seat for at least two more years, while others are scouring the length and breadth of the 19th district for other potential candidates.

In Memoriam

Ronnie spoke at the University of Virginia on December 16, 1988 at the very end of his presidency. His speech is located here and is an interesting look back at his two terms. Just thought you might enjoy it. There is also an interesting series of questions by then University President O'Neill for President Reagan.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Happy Birthday Ronnie!

Image Hosted by imagehosting.us
Feb. 6, 1911-June 5, 2004
Ronald Reagan Memorial Foundation

Light Moment on House Floor

One of the things that I like about the House of Delegates is the tendancy of some Delegates to resort to humor during debate.

Yesterday, the House passed HB2921 on to its third reading. The bill, proposed by Del. Dick Black, would make sexual orientation a factor in adoption proceedings.

Del. Robert Brink wins a prize for the best gay stereotypes (from the AP):
Del. Robert H. Brink asked how Social Services Department workers would determine whether a couple interested in adopting a child are practicing homosexuals.

"Would they do an inventory of the petitioner's CD collection? If it's mostly show tunes or includes a Judy Garland boxed set, the petitioner's out of business," said Brink, D-Arlington, as House members howled with laughter.

"Or maybe the department could case karaoke night at the local bar. Anybody who performs a Village People song with a little too much enthusiasm would be out of business," he said.

The group's 1970s pop hit, "YMCA," is widely considered a gay anthem.
The R-TD adds this bit of key information:
The assembly's only openly gay member, Del. Adam P. Ebbin, D-Alexandria, said the bill turns investigators into a "new sex police" and volunteered that he does not own a Judy Garland boxed set.
In all seriousness, I don't see the enforcement problems that others see. If this bill is passed, then Virginia Department of Social Services could develop regulations similar to the military's pre-1993 policies.
The statute directs that members of the armed forces shall be separated from the service if they have engaged in homosexual conduct, or indicate that they have a propensity to engage in such conduct by stating that they are homosexual or bisexual. A person who does not engage in that conduct does not fit the
definition of a homosexual, or identify himself accordingly.

Under the pre-Clinton policy as well as the 1993 statute, this logical presumption is
"rebuttable," but only under extremely narrow circumstances.


Cook County Judge Holds That Pre-Embryo Is Human

Here is a bold move by a Cook County, Illinois judge who is allowing a couple whose embryo was accidentally destroyed to sue the fertility clinic responsible. I'm assuming that this will be quickly overturned by the appellate court, though I can hope that is not so easily done. In the war for the hearts and minds of the American people, it seems perhaps to be an attempt to swing the center of the debate farther to the pro-life side by reframing the debate.

Judge Lawrence claims in his opinion that the Illinois legislature has been very clear that an "unborn child is a human being from the time of conception and is, therefore, a legal person." He bases this assertion on the state's Wrongful Death Act which allows suit, though apparently not criminal prosecution for the killing of a fetus in an assault or accident. It's good to see that the pro-life movement's fight for legislation that will protect the unborn as a person is truly having its effect in the courts.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Bill to Ban Spinner Rims gets PBIed

I'm not sure how I missed this. HB2390, which would have banned spinner rims in the Commonwealth, was PBIed on Tuesday.

This old article explains the rationale for the bill. It only got shelved by one vote, so it could be revived in future sessions.

I for one, am glad it failed. I've been trying to talk Mrs. Addison into pimping our station wagon. I think spinners would look tizzight.

Spinners

Richmond police post mugshots of people who solicit prostitutes

"Homeowners and families are telling us that they are frustrated and threatened by the prostitution they see on their streets, sidewalks and alley ways. This section of the RPD web page is designed in direct response to the demands expressed by law-abiding men and women of our city: they are tired of prostitutes plying their trade on their sidewalks; they do not want girls and women treated with disrespect by customers coming into their neighborhoods; and they do not want their children to view acts of prostitution enacted in public places at every hour of the day and night."

Mug Shots.

In-state cost to attend UVA to pass $20,000 per year

The UVA Board of Visitors is meeting this weekend. As part of their new charter status, UVA proposes to raise tuition by 10% in each of the next five academic years.

The cost to attend UVA for Virginia residents is currently $6800 in tuition and fees and $5960 in room and board. While there's not a five year projection for room in board in the committee report, the past three years have had room & board increases of 10.6%, 8.8%, and 9.7%.

That gives a tuition estimate of $10,935 for the 2009-2010 academic year, and room and board costs of $9468.

If you currently live in Virginia and have a child in eighth grade, it will cost you $20,403 to send that child to UVA - just for her freshman year.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Study says I-81 not congested

Contrary to popular belief, a new VDOT study, covered here by the Roanoke Times, says that I-81 is not as crowded as most people think. The study says that the average speed of traffic on this route is 69 miles per hour. The interstate also graded pretty well in terms of safety, with a crash-score rating of 160 points, compared to an average of 277 for all of Virginia's interstates.

The study says that, while there are problem areas around major cities, the interstate as a whole is in good shape for the near future. These results seem to complement the arguments of those who oppose improvements to the entirety of I-81 in Virginia. These critics would seek cheaper and less extensive improvements to trouble areas, coupled with alternatives such as transferring truck traffic to nearby rail lines. These critics include State Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) who has introduced a bill that would halt VDOT's plan for a wholesale overhaul of the I-81 corridor. The Roanoke Times has more on Hanger's bill here.

While I agree that the widening of I-81 shouldn't be the only fix, Hanger's solution seems too short-sighted. A 50-year solution to I-81's problems will likely be much cheaper and less troublesome than a series of 10- to 15-year solutions. While I also understand people's aversion to tolls, they make a heck of a lot more sense than the blanket tax increase that Hanger voted for last year, as they actually tax people for their usage of the road.

UPDATE: Looks like Hanger's efforts have been derailed (sorry, couldn't help it) in committee. The Roanoke Times has more.

Baseball in the Friendly City?

The Daily News-Record has this story today about Harrisonburg's potential bid for a permanent minor league baseball team. If the stadium plan goes through, the city would likely seek a Single-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.

Harrisonburg has certainly earned its nickname. It is a beautiful, quaint, and welcoming city. It has also been growing quite rapidly in recent years. If you haven't been there in the past 10 years, you might not recognize it today. A lot of this development can be attributed to the growth and success of James Madison University, which enrolls more undergraduate students than the University of Virginia. This rapid growth, however, has also created a number of problems, such as traffic, that may keep this proposal from being successful.

Harrisonburg already participates in the very succesful Valley Summer Baseball League. Should the stadium make use of the beautiful mountain scenery of this region, I am certain that it could be one of the nicest parks in the state.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

More on Tim Kaine and Gay Marriage

The Virginia Family Foundation was nice enough to email me to clarify statements I made in this post. From Chris Freund, Director of Communications:
Tim Kaine said that he would favor a marriage amendment that defined marriage only. The amendment passing throught the General Assembly would define marriage AND ban civil unions, etc. The Lt. Governor does not support the amendment in that form.
There have been five constitutional amendments introduced that deal with gay marriage. They are HJ528, HJ584, HJ586, HJ615, and SJ337. Of these, only SJ337 has had any movement and is currently on the Senate floor (although it has been passed by for four straight days). Only HJ528 would appear to meet Tim Kaine's requirement that the amendment deal only with marriage.

This stance, to me, is even more for political expediency, than if Kaine had shifted his opinion to include a civil union ban. He knows that nothing would stop a judge from requiring the GA to create a legal equivalent (as happened in Vermont). At the same time, Kaine gets to say that he supported a constitutional ban on gay "marriage."


Picture for the ages

Janet Norwood sharing a hug with Safia Taleb al-Suhail may have been one of the best moments I have ever witnessed.

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Car tax relief makes it out of committee

The House Appropriations Committee voted out HB1654, which would lift the car tax relief cap imposed at last year's General Assembly session. I won't revisit some of the policy issues, but I thought the vote breakdown was interesting.

YEAS--Callahan, Putney, Tata, Hamilton, Ingram, May, Sherwood, Wardrup, Reid, Landes, Hogan, Joannou--12.
NAYS--Morgan, Cox, Jones, S.C., Councill, Phillips, Spruill, Stump, Miles--8.
ABSTENTIONS--Dudley--1.
NOT VOTING--Dillard, Van Landingham, Scott, J.M., Abbitt--4.

In the Yea category, Callahan, Ingram and May all voted for the tax increase and are essentially reversing themselves with this vote today.
In the Nay category, Morgan and Chris Jones are Republicans affirming their vote last year to freeze the refund. Kirk Cox (R) is a surprise. Most observers consider him to be a hardline conservative. I'm wondering why he would vote no, especially in an election year.

UPDATE
Norm over at One Man's Trash has uncovered the mystery of Del. Cox's vote. Del. Cox voted yes on HB1654, but it was recorded as a "no." I'm aware of a rule that allows you to add your vote if you missed a committee meeting, but don't know the rule if it was incorrectly recorded. In any event, the bill passed out of committee by more than one vote, so it's probably not worth fixing. Cox will have a chance to vote for it on the floor.

Senate Education and Health embraces charter status

Senate Education and Health offered its unanimous approval of SB1327S1. This bill, commonly known as the "charter" bill, gives universities operational flexibility, as well as the ability to raise tuition.

The backroom compromises on this were substantial, and it was endorsed by all sixteen university presidents. The bill is 82 pages long, but the RT-D gives a good explanation.
The bill requires all public universities to develop six-year academic, enrollment and financial plans that meet state goals in those areas. The plans, which would include expected tuition rates, would require General Assembly approval.

It also establishes a three-tier system of autonomy. All universities would be eligible for the first level, which would provide more flexibility in purchasing, personnel and construction. The second and third levels allow increasing degrees of autonomy for schools that meet certain criteria, including at least a AA-minus bond rating for schools seeking maximum independence.

Universities at the top tier would operate under a management agreement that would spell out the exact nature of their autonomy. The agreement would have to be signed by the governor or designated Cabinet secretaries and four legislative leaders _ the president pro tempore of the Senate, the speaker of the House of Delegates and the chairmen of the Senate Finance and House Appropriations committees.
I've been on the fence on this issue for a long time. I have a degree from one state school, and will soon have one from another. I want these schools to be as well-run and well regarded as possible. At the same time, I don't want tuition to get completely out of hand. As the Cato Institute's recent study indicates, colleges are almost incapable of reining in tuition themselves. I want to be able to send baby Addison to a state school in 20 years.

Virginia Tech honors fallen alumni

A tip of the hat to Dave who sent me this item about a newly licensed VT car magnet that will honor U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jeffrey Kaylor, of Clifton, Va., and Army 1st Lt. Timothy Price, of Midlothian, Va., both of whom were killed in action in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 respectively. The magnet looks like this:

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All proceeds from sale of the magnet will go to benefit Emerging Leader Scholarship endowments previously established in memory of each of the fallen officers. I encourage Hokie fans to purchase the magnet here.

And for those who aren't aware, Ut Prosim is Virginia Tech's motto, which means "That I May Serve."

National Love for the ODAC

It's not often that the Old Dominion Athletic Conference makes national headlines and appears all over ESPN. But that's exactly what is happening this week after what may be the most incredible game-winning shot I have ever seen in college basketball. The scene was Monday night's game between Guilford and Randolph-Macon. With 0.6 seconds left and the game tied, the ODAC's leading free-throw shooter went to the line. After hitting the first free throw to take the lead, he was instructed to miss the second in order to run out the clock and brevent a shot by Guilford. Instead, sophomore guard Jordan Snipes caught the rebound and heaved the ball towards his own basket on the other end of the court. The ball went in, and Guilford won the game 91-89. The shot was measured at 85 feet, 5 inches. If you haven't seen it yet, the video is here, and the Roanoke Times has the full story here.

As a side note, Bridgewater College currently leads the ODAC with a record of 10-3 followed by Randolph-Macon and Virginia Weslyan at 10-4. The ODAC Men's Basketball Tournament will be held Feb 19-21 at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Va.

UPDATE: During a local live newscast, Jordan Snipes again hit a cross-court shot while being interviewed about his amazing feat. The story and video are here.

License Plate Mania

A lot of ink has been spilled the past few days over the proposed bill to create specialty license plates promoting traditional marriage. The bill, sponsored by Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter, passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 62-35 and now makes its way to the Senate. You can read about it here, here, and here.

I think this bill is a bad idea for several reasons. First and foremost is that such a bill opens the floodgates for groups of people to call on the legislature to approve specialty plates heralding all manner of political causes and opinions. Obviously, the first response would be a pro-gay marriage plate. From there we would descend into a endless morass of politically tinged license plates.

In my opinion, Virginia already has way too many specialty license plates anyway. While it is cool to support your alma mater or be able to choose between Virginia themed designs to liven up a usually dull license plate, when we need a plate to announce that we are bowling enthusiaists, i think we've gone too far. In addition, Virginia has the most personalized license plate messages of any state in the nation. Seriously, how many options do we need to express our individuality via our automobiles?

My solution is to invent some kind of sticker that people can put on their car so that they can express their views without requiring legislative approval. These "bumper stickers" could have all sorts of messages on them and could be more easily replaced than license plates. A variety of shapes, colors, and fonts could be utilized to offer far greater options than a simple license plate. Gosh, if only I knew where to find such a thing.

Drive Fast, Turn Left

The RTD has this story today about Richmond's bid for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. I think it will likely end up in North Carolina, but if Richmond is able to land this attraction, it would be a major tourist draw for the Commonwealth. NASCAR claims to be the fastest growing sport in the nation as well as the largest spectator sport. Its fans are die-hard and would travel from miles around to visit a museum to the sport and its greatest owners, teams, and drivers.

By the way, there are only 18 days until the NASCAR season opens Feb. 20 at the Daytona 500. Check out NASCAR.com for all your racing info.