The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Our thoughts and prayers with the Kincaid family

Anne Kincaid, longtime political activist and co-founder of the Virginia Family Foundation, died today.

AP Story:
"The pro-family movement in Virginia has lost one of its brightest stars," said Victoria Cobb, executive director of the conservative Family Foundation. Kincaid helped create the organization, the state's foremost lobby against such issues as abortion and gay marriage and for school prayer.

Kincaid described herself as a flower child of late 1960s whose life direction was altered by her own illegal abortion in 1970. She became a "born-again Christian" whose past made her all the more credible and passionate, friends said.

"She had an extraordinary will and it came out of her faith," said Johnson, a deputy state attorney general. "Phrases like `religious right' get tossed around a lot, but she had an abiding faith in God and that faith propelled her in the public arena."

One more primary race

The Virginia Public Access Project is a great resource, and they've set up a new page for the June 14th primaries.

There's not much new information for faithful SST readers, but we did miss one race.

Charles Clemmons will challenge Frank Hargrove for the Republican nomination in the 55th (Hanover County). Del. Hargrove is a likeable older gentleman known mainly for: 1) his opposition to the death penalty and 2) his poor hearing. He didn't vote for the tax increase, so I'm not sure what Clemmons' beef is.

Clemmons doesn't even show up on a google search, which isn't a good sign.

UPDATE
Thanks to Jaded JD for cracking this one. Charles Clemmons is also Rod Clemmons, the retired principal of Atlee High School. Mr. Clemmons spends his retirement as a legislative aide to Del. Jim Dillard. I assume that Mr. Clemmons and Mr. Dillard knew each other when Mr. Clemmons was a principal in Fairfax.

If Mr. Clemmons shares his boss's political philosophy, then the beef is probably that Del. Hargrove didn't vote for the tax increase in 2004.

I didn't want to handicap this one before ascertaining whether Mr. Clemmons is a serious candidate. Del. Hargrove probably won't run again in 2007, and this could be a tune-up run for Mr. Clemmons. However, two of Del. Hargrove's sons are active in Hanover politics, and they also may have designs on their father's seat.

2007 races loom

I must admit that I threw up in my mouth just a little when Norm made this post about 2007 races. He reprints an fundraising email from Ken Cuccinelli:
We have started to hear the rumblings about our likely next opponent. The rumblings are consistent with our expectations and the rumors that we've been hearing. In his last race, he had massive union support and got significant financial help...
Norm mentions two possible challengers. Cuccinelli faced James Mitchell in 2003 and Cathy Belter in 2002. The only problem is that neither one of them had what I would considered "massive union support." I recognize that politicians are prone to exaggeration when trying to raise money, but then another thought occured.

Mark Warner v. Ken Cuccinelli in 2007? You heard it here first. After all, they tangle on the basketball court.

Terri Schiavo's battle ends

It is truly sad that this woman's life had to end this way.

Here are the links:

YahooNews: Schiavo Dies 13 Days After Tube Removed
CNN.com: Schiavo dies amid legal, ethical battle
Washington Post: Terri Schiavo, 41, Dies at Fla. Hospice
NYT: Schiavo Dies Nearly Two Weeks After Removal of Feeding Tube
USA Today: Terri Schiavo dies in hospice

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Betamax Redux

It's pretty rare that I agree with Congressman Rick Boucher, in fact, I'm not sure that it has ever happened before. However, I have to hand it to the Congressman on the issue of fair use of electronic media. According to this article by the Roanoke Times, Rep. Boucher has introduced a bill that would codify the Supreme Court's 1984 decision in Sony v. Universal City Studios, also known as the Betamax case. See Boucher's website for more.

Many folks probably don't remember that when the Betamax VCR was introduced, the Hollywood studios wanted the courts to ban them because they could be used to make illegal copies of movies and TV shows. The Court's decision introduced the idea of "substantial noninfringing uses" that permitted consumers to use VCRs for personal legal purposes. This ruling has allowed a wave of technological innovation that has now led to another legal battle over "fair use." The movie and record industries are now trying to stop consumers from being able to copy digital media for personal uses. It is precisely the same issue that was debated in Betamax, only with new technology.

Codifying Betamax would not permit piracy or illegal forms of filesharing. Those activities would still be illegal and would likely be litigated enthusiastically by the copyright holders, as they should be. However, if the Court reverses course and bars purchasers of digital media from the fair use of said media, it will mark a significant blow to the rights of law-abiding consumers.

Chap and Rudy partner up

Rudy Giuliani will open a New York office for Bracewell and Patterson.

Who else works for the Texas law firm? None other than John C. Petersen.

UPDATE
The news today is that the entire firm is going to be renamed Bracewell and Giuliani.

The website has been renamed and this press release is available.

Virginia Political Blog Rankings

Steve Sisson over at the AFP has an interesting article today about blogging wherein he takes anonymous bloggers to task for hiding behind their computers while lobbing Molotov cocktails at the Virginia political landscape.

He then proceeds to rank his Top 10 Virginia Political blogs awarding the top two spots to anonymous bloggers, Us and Commonwealth Conservative. We are certainly flattered to be considered #1 by anyone, but John Behan shouldn't worry, he'll always be #1 in our hearts here at SST.

Like JB, I have some disputes with Steve's rankings. I would certainly put Norman at One Man's Trash higher on the list, for instance. But hey, that's why they call them opinions right?

In any case, thanks for all the support we've received thus far. We'll do our best to keep up our end of the bargain.

McDonnell beats chest, roars mightily

From Bob McDonnell:
Yesterday, I filed 17,296 petition signatures with the State Board of Elections office in Richmond, far exceeding the legal requirement of 400 signatures in each congressional district and 10,000 total signatures statewide. Yesterday was the earliest time candidates could file with the State Board, and I was the only candidate for Attorney General to file petitions, guaranteeing me the first spot on the ballot.

I want to thank the hundreds of McDonnell grassroots volunteers from across Virginia who signed up their fellow citizens at grocery stores, post offices, high school basketball games, Republican events, civic club meetings and in neighborhoods. Together, we got the job done.

As a result, the McDonnell for Attorney General campaign is once again leading the way at the grassroots level.
The press release also includes a request to donate today . The next deadline is April 1st, and every candidate is trying to boost their numbers for this reporting period.

Churches Wielding Political Power

The New York Times had this interesting article this weekend about a movement among many of Ohio's churches to take back control of Ohio's Republican party, which may conservatives apparently feel has abandoned its base.

Last year's Presidential election should have removed any doubts that churches and religious groups can be used to organize political involvement. The question that the article raises is whether this type of religious political movement will be successful in steering the Republican Party towards a social conservative agenda, or if it will merely result in an alienation of moderate Republicans that will splinter the party.

Clearly it is the latter course that the Times hopes for. Unfortunately, once again the left overrreacts about the involvement of religious conservatives in the Republican Party. The type of organization detailed in the article speaks more to the strength of the GOP than its weakness. Every political party is a collection of ideologies that sometimes offend one another. The power struggle that occurs underneath the big tent is healthy, and the more people who become involved in the party as a result, the better off we are.

Mara Salvatrucha In Northern Virginia

Mara Salvatrucha, otherwise known as MS-13, is a growing problem in Northern Virginia, which has become one of its two primary centers of activity here in the United States along with Los Angeles where it started back in the 1980s. It was founded by immigrants from El Salvador, fleeing from the violence of the civil war occurring there in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

This is an issue that our candidates for Attorney General need to address and provide solutions to. MS-13 is considered by the FBI probably the most dangerous gang in the United States. It consist of tens of thousands of members worldwide, including between 8,000 and 10,000 known within the borders of the United States. In our day and age of increased connectivity as a result of technology, gangs have become the new organized crime, what the mafia used to be. They still remain difficult to deal with due to a decentralized hierachy structure, though MS-13 seems to be trying to create a more hierarchial structure in order to be even more effective at doing what it does, which consists primarily of fighting gangland wars in DC and Northern Virginia.

This article in Newsweek explains the growing problem and is a fascinating look at something that most Virginians are not aware of, except for those who have experienced the brutality of MS-13. It needs to publicized, and it needs to be dealt with before it becomes even more of a problem than it already is. We don't need any more mutiliated bodies found on the banks of the Shenandoah River or shootouts in the streets of Northern Virginia neighborhoods.

Tim Kaine wastes ad money on issues that people don't care about

Today in the Augusta Free Press, Tim Kaine says that voters don't care about social issues.
Presumptive Democratic Party gubernatorial nominee Tim Kaine doesn't think Virginians are interested in making their 2005 state elections into political litmus tests on gay marriage and other social issues.

"Issues like that really aren't driving issues for people," Kaine said last week during a campaign stop in Staunton.

"I've put 125,000 miles on my Dodge Dakota pickup truck going all over Virginia since I was inaugurated, and people don't ask me about social issues. They want to talk about jobs, education, economic opportunity and health care. So I'm running a campaign on those things," said Kaine, the state's lieutenant governor.

"The other side is running the social-issues campaign. That's not us. We run on issues that really matter to folks, the bread-and-butter issues. I don't see a clamor of voters Republican, independent or Democrat, to really go on social crusades," Kaine said.
Of course, the Kaine campaign is spending a bunch of money buying ads on religious and small market radio stations.
Kaine's ads will air on religious and small-market stations in the cities' non-metro markets, said Kaine communications director Mo Elleithee. They feature Kaine in a soliloquy about his upbringing, toiling as a youth in his father's small Kansas City ironworking shop and his days as a Roman Catholic missionary to Honduras. "I was taught to be tight with a dollar and watch the bottom line," Kaine says in the spots. "My core values are grounded in the lessons I learned at home and are guided by my faith."
This is yet another example of Tim Kaine trying to pander to his liberal financiers and at the same time try to court the rural vote. He wants to appeal to the 24% of voters who said they were guided by moral issues in the 2004 elections, but doesn't want them to actually consider where he stands on these moral issues.

Three fundraising articles

1) The Daily News-Record covers Matt Lohr's recent breakfast. If you read between the lines, Lohr didn't quite match Lowell Fulk's $9000, but he's hopeful that more donations will be coming in shortly.

Although Fulk announced his candidacy last week, he benefits from a fund-raising organization established during his unsuccessful 2003 challenge to Weatherholtz.

Lohr, who became a candidate last month after Weatherholtz’s chief aide, John Elledge, decided not to run, is undaunted by the late start.

"It’s a challenge — obviously we have a lot of ground to make up," he said. "But we have a lot of people on board who are ready to help make this campaign a success."

The Lohr camp is in the middle of a letter-writing campaign, the candidate said, adding that he has heard from a number of people willing "to open up their homes for fund-raisers" and other events.

"Given that my opponent has been campaigning for three years, and I have only been running for three weeks," Lohr said, "I am certainly pleased by the progress of my campaign."
Given Fulk's big head start, I don't think that any conclusions can be drawn from fundraising numbers.

2) The Culpeper Star-Exponent has this story a $10,000 donation to Mark Jarvis' campaign like it's a new thing. In reality, it's just the fulfillment of a previous pledge.

3) Kirk Cox has hosted a very successful fundraiser at Swift Creek Mill Playhouse and this year is no different. The best line came from former POW and SBVT member Paul Galanti:
"I got to spend six years and eight months looking at the kind of government John Kerry would like us to have," he said. "We still have some people who want to socialize our society."

Garber makes it official

The News Advance covered Robert Garber's campaign announcement. Garber will try to unseat Preston Bryant in the Republican primary on June 14th.

Garber announced his bid in the parking lot of a gas station, and will be framing the race as a referendum on the gas tax.
Garber told a group of about 30 supporters assembled in the parking lot that Virginia voters face a future gasoline tax hike unless they remove what he called tax-friendly lawmakers like Bryant.
This is the type of single issue campaign that seems to work well with today's distracted culture. We'll be watching to see if Garber can make the charge stick. Bryant (my word is my bond) says he has no intention to raising the gas tax.

Garber's webpage is http://www.robertgarber.com.

Chap Chooses

Chap Petersen promised to choosed between his House seat and the Lt. Governor's race by April 1st, and he has kept his word. He will not run for the House seat.
"The stakes are just too high in this lieutenant governor's race," Petersen said in an interview. He added that he has been considering for a couple of months giving up his seat to devote his time to his statewide bid. "I didn't want to be distracted . . . or have the voters' attention diverted by being on the ballot in two different places," Petersen said.

He said he was not pressured to step aside. Some Democrats have said privately, however, that they wanted Petersen to announce that he would not seek reelection so that his prospective replacements could begin to raise money.
This is a swing district, and the Washington Post article lists some possible contenders:
Two Fairfax County Democrats, School Board member Janet S. Oleszek (At Large) and David Bulova, son of Fairfax County Board Supervisor Sharon S. Bulova (Braddock), have said they will compete for that party's nomination. The lone Republican seeking the seat, Washington lobbyist Jim Kaplan, is from Fairfax
City. A Libertarian Party candidate, Scott McPherson, also has filed with the state Board of Elections.
I think Jack Rust could probably win this seat back, but I think he may be done with politics.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Creigh Deeds announces

Creigh Deeds made a number of stops today, and the AP had this story.
"With Creigh Deeds, we'll have a crackdown on price gouging by the drug companies who make our medicines and our well-being a profit center instead of an affordable way of life," he said. "We'll take on the insurance companies who deny coverage and put bureaucracy before quality health care."
Addison likes people who refer to themselves in the third person. Addison is going to start doing that on SST. Addison doesn't like undercutting R&D, though.

This post brought to you by Cingulatcom

Count me among the people who have been consumed by the AT&T/Cingular/Suncom merger. My problem was that I split my Suncom plan with someone in another state. All Virginia customers of Suncom got switched to Cingular, while the other person on my plan stayed with Suncom.

It took four trips to the Cingular store and about 12 hours to figure out the most economical way to continue cell phone service. My sympathies to the store workers. They've been hung out with very little training and very little ability to give customers anything other than the standard lines.

Cingular has hired security guards to regulate unhappy customers. I kept hoping that I would see them in action, but the Wackenhut man at my location kept his stool anchored firmly to the floor.

There once was a man from Connecticut...

Governor Mark Warner invoked the ancient art of limerick yesterday in signing a bill to make the big-eared brown bat the official bat of Virginia. The Virginian-Pilot has the story here.

I'm sure that we can all sleep better at night knowing that Virginia no longer has to go without an official flying rodent. No longer will our great Commonwealth be ridiculed by bat enthusaists for our failure to recognize the bat's many contributions to society, such as eating insects and, well, mainly just eating insects. Thank you Governor Warner and members of the General Assembly for having the courage to address this pressing need and pass this important legislation. Now, can we do something about the state song issue?

By the way, feel free to submit your suggestions for completing the Mark Warner limerick. Just keep it PG, folks, this is a family blog after all.

Sheras the latest domino to fall

Democrats in the 57th district seem to be lining up behind David Toscano's bid to replace Delegate Mitch Van Yahres in Richmond. At one point it appeared as though 5-7 democrats might throw their hats in the ring for the Charlottesville-area seat. However, UVA professor David Sheras has become the fourth person to decline the opportunity, joining William B. Harvey, Meredith Richards and Waldo Jaquith. The Daily Progress is following all the ebbs and flows here.

The Republicans in the race are Tom McCrystal, a Charlottesville businessman, and Sharon Jones, an Albemarle day care center owner. The nominee will be chosen at mass meeting on June 6.

Rockingham School Board torn between two lovers

The DNR has a good article about the 26th District race between Republican Matt Lohr and Democrat Lowell Fulk. Both men have served on the Rockingham County School Board and apparently some members of the board are conflicted about who to support.

Board members Dan Breeden and Bill Gamble don't pull any punches, however, attacking Lohr for being ambitious and devoid of leadership. That is of course before calling him "a friend."

Well, gosh, with friends like these, who need enemies? Sounds like things are heating up early in the 26th.

Valley Republican gets promoted

ODBA member ValleyRepublican has been promoted.
I am working for Todd Gilbert, a candidate you should by now be quite familiar with, so I won't waste your time repeating the basics. I feel that I cannot both do justice to my blog and give him the service he'll need come May.
Check out Craig's new work at http://gilbert4delegate.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 28, 2005

Response mixed over Roanoke's new Art Museum

I haven't blogged about this yet, but apparently it has become a pretty big deal. Roanoke recently unveiled plans to build a brand new Art Museum of Western Virginia and the plans are bold to say the least. The concept has received an outpouring of response, both positive and negative, from the community. The Roanoke Times has done a big series on it and has invited debate.

Incidentally, I take umbrage with the idea that Roanoke has no central, unifying landmark. Hellooooo! Star City of the South, people! But even I admit that people don't exactly drive from hundreds of miles away to see a big electric star on a hill. Frankly, some people don't want outsiders finding out about Roanoke because they figure they've got it pretty good and they don't feel like sharing the secret. I can't say that I blame them, but perhaps a new direction is a good thing for a city that sometimes seems stuck in its past glory days as a railroad center. That said, I have always enjoyed Roanoke's quaint market area and I'm not sure a drastic departure from that is warranted. Furthermore, the fact that the Roanoke Times seems so firmly supportive of the idea automatically gives me pause. That's not to say I oppose the whole thing, just perhaps the location.

RiverCity Rapids has a good analysis of the project here and contrasts Roanoke's willingness to take risks with the foot-dragging of their Richmond-area couterparts. Still, I wouldn't be so quick to praise Roanoke's forward-thinking. After all, they still haven't figured out that Victory Stadium mess.

Virginia Sports Roundup

First and foremost, big ups need to be handed out to the Virginia Union University Panthers who captured the Division II basketball crown this weekend. The team, located in Richmond, is coached by Dave Robbins who has now brought VUU its third title in his 25 years there. If you didn't know, VUU is also the alma mater of the Detroit Pistons' Ben Wallace. You can read the RTD's account here. Unfortunately, in a state with one two big-time D-I schools, the smaller schools sometimes get overlooked. The achievements of schools like VUU, JMU, Bridgewater and Liberty, just to name a few, should be a source of pride for all Virginians. Here's to you, Panthers.

The DNR has some info about the start of the upcoming Valley Baseball league season for the Harrisonburg Turks, including, gasp, new uniforms.

The Daily Progress has an update on UVA's coaching search but spends most of the article talking about Tubby Smith. Smith might be UVA's #1 target, but then my #1 target is Katie Holmes and I don't see that one happening either.

The Virginian-Pilot has a few Hokie-related items about the starting QB contest as well as former Hokie's preparations for the NFL Draft. Even though everyone is excited about Marcus Vick, I have heard good things about sophomore Sean Glennon. If for some reason Vick can't step up, it sounds like VT's second option is none too shabby.

As far as the Final Four goes, I am adopting the ABC approach. That's Anybody But Carolina. I am actually rooting for a Louisville-Michigan State final just so all the sportswriters will have to actually think of something new to say. I'd like to see Pitino get another title and I sure wouldn't mind Izzo winning another. I'd rather see Roy Williams remain a perpetual bridemaid, because its funny. As for Bruce Weber, well, he should be thanking Roy Williams for giving him a team loaded with Bill Self's recruits. In any case, based on this past weekend's games, next weekend should be a doozy. More overtime anyone?

Finally, it's race week in Bristol, folks. So why are you worrying about anything else? The Herald-Courier and NASCAR.com have you covered. This track may be getting old, but it's still the best in the business. Ain't no racin' like Bristol racin'. Incidentally, I'm looking for Kurt Busch to take the checkered flag, but watch out for Greg Biffle who is on a roll and Emporia, Va. native Elliot Sadler who is quietly sitting at #10 right now in the overall NNC standings.

Missionary Politics

Here is a fascinating article by a progressive Democrat that gives the responsibility for the resurgence of the right in American politics to the willingness of the Republican Party to recruit, to do the dirty work of going door to door, of evangelizing, and to be very strategic about building institutions that create new conservatives and bring one issue voters into the Republican fold.

The article consists of an aggressive exhortation by a Democrat to other Democrats to begin recruiting, to be missionaries of progressivism, as they call whatever it is that they believe these days.

Christopher Hayes writes: "And yet the improbable fact about missionary activity is that it works, regardless of the faith's specific dogma. Mormons are the fastest-growing church in the country. Evangelical protestant congregations make up 58 percent of all new churches in the United States. Globally, Islam continues to reach into new and unfamiliar lands, experiencing explosive growth in China. Religions that actively proselytize – Pentecostals, Mormons, Muslims – grow, almost without exception." This is fascinating and accurate analysis of the growth of primarily Charismatic and Pentecostal churches around world, to the exclusion of all other Christian denominations except for conservative leaning wings of the mainline denominations in Third World countries, not to mention fundamentalist branches within the United States, primarily in red states.

Also interesting is that Hayes slaps down the liberals who insist that the electorate is essentially progressive at heart and has only been deceived into voting conservative. He admits that the conservative movement has actually created a conservative majority, that people are at heart conservative, but he believes that this is a result of aggressive recruitment on the part of the armies of the right.

Hayes: "Common sense would suggest that the best explanation for this is that most voters are conservative and the Republicans are the conservative party. If this is true, we cannot continue to imagine there exists a slumbering progressive majority waiting to be awakened with the right trumpet call. We cannot cling to the fiction that conservatives have somehow hypnotized the electorate, hoodwinking them into voting for Republicans and reactionaries while leaving untouched their internal worldviews, which somehow remain fundamentally progressive. It is important that we stare directly into the sun on this point. The right has fundamentally reconstituted the way Americans view government, politics, policy and the public sphere. We need to change it back."

Tom Delay's Own Personal Tragedy

A recent story has revealed that Tom Delay went through a situation similar to that which the family of Terry Schiavo is dealing with currently. Delay's father was comatose and brain dead in 1988 and kept alive by machines and intravenous feeding tubes. It's a fascinating article that gives the reader a look into the mindset of Delay and helps one to understand his stance on the Schiavo issue.

There are, however, important differences between his father's situation and Schiavo's.

Dan Allen, Delay's spokesman, said that the critical difference was that "the only thing keeping her alive is the food and water we all need to survive. His father was on a ventilator and other machines to sustain him." There are however many other similarities, but none as important as that major distinction.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

A Life Redeemed

This story of a 26-year old single mother talking down a rapist and murderer by reading passages from A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren and sharing the testimony of her redemption is slightly old news, but I heard it in church today and thought it was a spectacular story. So if you haven't read about it, I highly recommend it. The murderer had killed three people, including a judge, earlier that day after escaping from his guard while in the courthouse and had eluded police for hours in the largest manhut in Georgia history. He came to Ashley Smith's home randomly and held her hostage before her now famous talking down of him began.

Smith said: "I figured I was either going to die or not. So before I died, I was going to let him know that he was not capable of 'killing' me. All he could do was send me home."

It's amazing what an impact one redeemed life can have...

Happy Easter

Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.

Mark 16:6

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Romans 8:11

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Six Flags over Roanoke?

The RTD has this story about Virginia's Explore Park and continued efforts to make this spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway a major tourist destination. While the Explore Park is a great idea, and quite enjoyable, it has been a financial failure and has gobbled up Virginia and Roanoke County taxpayers' money like jellybeans.

Just judging from past experience, the private sector usually runs things better, cheaper, and more efficiently than the government does. Virginia's history and natural beauty are two of its greatest assets and Explore Park is a well-meaning effort to combine the two. Here's hoping a little private investment and ingenuity can turn things around for Explore Park, without damaging the surrounding environment.

Strong Work RaisingKaine

I have to hand it to the folks over at Raising Kaine. Five days after making fun of Debbi Kilgore (Terry's wife) for being a home-ec teacher, they are back at it with a nice rip on Jerry Kilgore's mother.

I wonder if Lowell Feld even knows how to get from Arlington to Gate City.

Victory Stadium's future still uncertain

Just to prove I can write about something other than sports, here's a story from the Roanoke Times about continuing debate over Roanoke's Victory Stadium. From Roanokers, Victory Stadium is a historical landmark that has hosted hundreds of concerts, festivals, high school football games and other memorable events for over 60 years. However, to anyone who views it objectively, the place is a heap that has well out-lived its usefullness. The Roanoke community would be well served to build a new facility that would better accomodate the city's needs and could attract even more high-profile events to the Star City. Unfortunately, some city officials fail to let go of short-sighted renovation plans.

Incidentally, Ralph Smith's total failure to provide any leadership whatsoever on the resolution of this issue during his term as Roanoke's mayor remains a big strike against him in my book.

8 Teams Halfway There, 8 Teams Livin' on a Prayer

Sorry about the Bon Jovi reference but this year's NCAA Tournament has been One Wild Night after another. If you are wondering how I feel about last night's games, I'll simply say that I spent last night in a bar in Durham, NC. That's right, I'm public enemy #1 for you Wahoos out there: Virginia Tech and Duke fan. So enjoy yourselves today Duke-haters, but remember, this is what the Blue Devil faithful refer to as "a down year."

Now on to the analysis:

Louisville v. West Virginia: Why did it have to be West Virginia? Why does this year's Cinderella story have to be the gosh-durn Mountaineers! The mere sight of yellow and blue makes me break out in hives and causes me to feel an overwhelming urge to set my furniture on fire. Plus Pittsnoggle looks like a bigger, uglier version of Jason Cain and there's another guy who's name sounds like Care Bear. Coach Beilein seems like a pretty classy individual though and he has certainly paid his dues coming up through the coaching ranks. Still, I am rooting for Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals to go all the way. I love the Cards' skill and athleticism, and having Pitino on the sidelines sure doesn't hurt. If Tayquan Dean is healthy, I like Louisville to win a hard-fought battle that should go down to the wire.

Illinois v. Arizona: Well, all my chips were riding on Eddie Sutton's OSU Cowboys, but Salim Stoudamire put the final nail in my bracket's coffin. Stoudamire has been fantastic the last few weeks and I wouldn't be surprised to see him lead the Wildcats to yet another Final Four. Channing Frye is also a man-child that could give Illinois' guard-laden lineup problems. However, I think the Illini are focused and have their eyes on the prize. They know that all eyes are on them as the #1 seed in the Tournament and I think they will handle the pressure and advance to the Final Four. An Arizona loss would also allow the NCAA to extend invitations to J.J. Redick and Salim Stoudamire for a 3-point shootout at the Final Four. It won't happen, but who wouldn't want to see it?

UNC v. Wisconsin: Wisconsin out-uglied NC State to advance to the Elite 8, and a date with another ACC team from the Triangle. Bo Ryan's coaching job in this tournament is not getting enough praise as I doubt anyone who doesn't wear cheese on their head thought they'd be here. Unfortunately, UNC ain't State. The Heels are just too darn good and as long as they avoid turnovers, foul trouble and poor shooting, they should win. The Research Triangle almost turned into the Burmuda Triangle last night as Duke and State crashed and burned and UNC escaped by one point over Villanova. I think the narrow victory will only strengthen UNC's resolve and they will win easily over an outmatched Badgers team.

Michigan State v. Kentucky: Tom Izzo v. Tubby Smith. I am looking forward to this matchup. After beating Coach K for the first time in his career, teleTubby should be no sweat, right? I doubt Izzo will see it that way. I am still not a believer in Kentucky, as they have had a tendency to lose focus at inopportune times this season. Izzo's team, however, is loaded with seniors who know how to win. I've already stated my fondness for Paul "P. Diddy" Davis. Another Spartan I enjoy watching is forward Matt Trannon. This guy is a beast, and he should be, he's also a wide receiver on State's football team. I was first impressed by him when I watched him aid State's near-upset of Michigan in the Big House this year. He may not contribute much to the box score, but you can tell he gives the team a lot of intangibles. The Spartans also lead the nation in free throw percentage which can be crucial down the stretch in the tourney. I like MSU to go back to the Final Four.

So there you have it: Louisville, Illinois, UNC, and Michigan State. My bracket may be dead and buried, but I'll still be glued to the TV the rest of the weekend.

The politics of SB1338

I just let you know my policy opinion on SB1338, and I recognize that it's a little hard to explain on the stump. That's why I'm blogging, not running.

As a piece of political science observation, though, this is a perfect issue. It's closely divided along the regulatory/libertarian divide, and persuasive arguments can be made on both sides. Shaun Kenny, to take one example, is trying to make this a wedge issue in his primary fight with Bobby Orrock.

It's also perfect because the same bill was introduced in 2004 as HB1016, and also passed the House by one vote. You can get a sense of who is feeling vulnerable, and from what direction, by how they flipped from 2004 to 2005.

Voted No in 2004, and Yes in 2005
David Albo (R) - perhaps feeling the pressure from Werkheiser?
Phil Hamilton (R) - ???
Algie Howell (D) - casting a progressive vote after the underwear debacle?
Joe Johnson (D) - maybe thinking about retirement?
Allen Louderback (R) - retiring and is going to vote the way he wants
Brad Marrs (R) - Brad feels Panny Rhodes' hot breath on his neck

Voted Yes in 2004, and no in 2005
Preston Bryant (R) -tax raiser protecting his right flank
Lyn Lewis (D) - rural, conservative district
Ed Scott (R) - tax raiser protecting his right flank
Bud Phillips (D) - blazing hot criticism from John Behan. I'm talking HOT!!
Jackie Stump (D) - see above. Stump represents the same rural SW demographic, and can't stray too far to the left.

When is "pro-gay" pro-Republican?

Yesterday, the governor signed SB1338, which removed Virginia's limits on businesses' rights to extend health insurance to their employees.
It makes Virginia the last state to prohibit businesses that are not self-insured from offering coverage to unrelated children, grandchildren, elderly relatives, friends and other members of a household.

In effect, the legislation, pushed by a coalition of business and gay-rights organizations, permits an insurer and employer to decide who would be covered under a group accident and sickness insurance policy.
Of course, you can see the problem coming a mile away. If companies can extend health care benefits to "members of a household", then they could...gasp...choose to extend those benefits to homosexuals.

SO WHAT?

Gay Marriage expands society's recognition of relationships, and society ought to be able to refuse if they disagree. Civil unions expands society's recognition of relationships, and society ought to be able to refuse if they disagree. Same goes for gay adoption, etc. I oppose these efforts, particulary when activists try to accomplish them through the courts rather than the legislature.

This bill, though, is all about the government getting out of the way of private action. If a private company wants to give healthcare benefits to non-custodial grandchildren, and thinks that they can justify the additional cost to their customers and stockholders, then why should the government get in the way? If a company wants to let me add my next-door neighbor to my health-care policy, and we mutually work out a payment plan, then why should the Commonwealth collectively care?

Hoffler confirms the Warner administration's sense of entitlement

I want to elevate a comment that Will Vehrs made last week regarding the DGIF spending scandal.
There is an attitude in the Warner Administration that because they took "pay cuts" to work in state government, they cannot be corrupt. We're not talking major, systematic corruption, but the kind that separates the leadership from the troops.
Well, DGIF chair Dan Hoffler left the building yesterday, and confirmed Mr. Verhs observations:
No one was more forceful in the executive director's defense than Hoffler, who said, "I have seen Bill Woodfin work 80, 90 hours a week while his wife was battling cancer. I have seen him away from home on these so-called junkets when he wanted to be home."
I have the deepest sympathy for anyone who faces cancer. It's a difficult, difficult thing. But keep in mind that Hoffler's resignation is about excessive spending by all of the top officials, not just Bill Woodfin. Moreover, does someone who faces a personal crisis deserve $5000 in boots? Does someone who travels on business deserve to spend $4000 on Game Ears?* What about $600 on car stereos?

Where is word one about being good stewards of the public's money? I'm going fishing next weekend. Are my $35 in licensing fees and permits going to be spent to improve natural resources in Virginia, or are they going to pay for boondoggles?

* This is the one that did it for me. Game Ears are sweet technology, but I can't justify the $500 to Mrs. Addison.

Oprison blasts May

From Steve Sisson's most recent post at the Bacon's Rebellion blog, we learn this interesting bit of information:
There's more retribution from the red storm that's rising in the valley:

Because a Valley 'Pub told me he was witness to some fireworks at the Clarke County GOP committee meeting last week. Chris Oprison gave a fiery speech denouncing Joe May (who was in attendance) in from of a strong May crowd.

... He called May's record "abhorrent," and said he "says one thing and does another."

"You could hear a pin drop. Very tense. After the meeting, May and Oprison had a face to face talk. Don't know what words were passed but it was quite a show."
I have met both of these candidates, and I even used some of Joe May's inventions at an old job. Chris Oprison underestimates Joe May at his own peril. Del. May gives the impression that he has no fire in his belly, but his life success tells another story. I know how they do it at Skadden, and I'm betting that the rural voters on the western edge of May's district aren't going to be too receptive to it.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Cantor rising in prominence

The RT-D has this article on Eric Cantor's rising prominence as a House leader.
Rep. Eric I. Cantor has moved quickly into the major leagues of Republican fund-raising and largesse as chief deputy majority whip in the House of Representatives.

The 7th District Republican's campaign committee and his leadership political-action committee, ERICPAC, doled out more than $1 million to GOP candidates and groups in 2003 and 2004.
...
Cantor, 41, is seen as likely to bid for a promotion in the House leadership when the right opportunity arises. That Cantor is a rising star was tacit in Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman's headlining the Cantor fund-raiser in Richmond yesterday.
I think it's been a while since Virginia had someone in the top three in either party.

What is it with Tim Kaine and loaves in the basket?

Yesterday, I posted on Tim Kaine's weird double invocation of a quasi-biblical metaphor.

I decided to check the news archives and turned up a Roanoke Times article from January 12, 2004.
Kaine said the challenge grant demonstrates that the idea for a four-year Southside college is gaining momentum.

"The Harvest Foundation is taking a bold and courageous step forward to put its loaf into the basket," Kaine said.
I think that says it all.

JB and Addison meet

This morning, I met up with John Behan at a secure, undisclosed location. We exchanged the ODBA handshake and then consumed a hearty breakfast.

It was good to put a face with a (fake) name and we had a good chat about the governor's and down-ticket races.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

FEC claims it won't interfere with bloggers

The Washington Post reveals that the FEC has decided to adopt what it calls a "relatively nonintrusive" approach to regulating political speech over the internet. This is certainly good news for the blogosphere. It is interesting to me that for quite a few years, many people have blamed the internet for a decline in social association in our society. If you are familiar with Robert Putnam's book, Bowling Alone, the argument goes that the breakdown of social organizations leads invariably to the breakdown of society at large.

I would like to think that perhaps the blogosphere presents an opportunity for like-minded folks to create new forms of social organizations, replacing the bowling leagues of years gone by. This is all a long-winded way of saying that I think restricting this form of speech would be detrimental to our society.

Check out Redstate for a more in-depth analysis of the proposed FEC rules

Hypocritical Republicans?

In the fallout of the accusations that Republicans put out a memo stating their intention to manipulate the Schiavo tragedy for political purposes, it behooves those of us on the right to check our armor and think about these issues on a more introspective level than we have previously chosen to. There are definitely some serious questions about our own consistency with respect to end of life issues. President Bush himself passed a piece of "futility of care" legislation in 1999 that appears to have been responsible for the death of a 5 month old baby recently. Read about the story here. Somewhat disturbing.

Another well-written article on the Schiavo story comes from Ann Coulter, who can often be rather ascerbic. Her piece today though is fascinating.

If you want to read excellent analysis of whether or not the Republican memo about Schiavo is legitimate or a fraud, check out Hindrocket's typically exhaustive research on Powerline.

Loafing in rural Virginia

Tim Kaine has made no secret of his plan to emphasis his faith during his gubernatorial campaign.

A personal favorite was when, in opposition to the idea of tax referendum, Kaine said, "Ever since Pontius Pilate allowed the crowd to make the hard decision, people who are afraid to lead have often used popular referenda to avoid their responsibilities."

Fair enough. I think that there are several problems with this analogy, but it's a clever one.

Check out two stories in the news today:

First, a story in the Augusta Free Press about Kilgore's bad practical joke of a campaign memo. Kaine delivered these remarks at 12:15 PM Wednesday.
"Has it come to this that somebody steps out and offers themselves to public service, to put their loaf into the basket, as it were, and we all have something that we can contribute, and all have something that we ought to contribute, so you step out and offer yourself, and the first thing that they do is step up and rip your face off? And they're going to do that for seven and a half months. So I guess that's what it has come to," Kaine said.
Next, from the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record, regarding Kaine's "work" on the turkey plant in Hinton. Kaine delivered these remarks at 2:15 PM.
"Last June, I sat down with Sonny [Meyerhoeffer, the co-op's president] and talked about what could be done," Kaine told the crowd. "I was really gratified to be able to help and to work with all of you on this. Everyone had a little loaf or fish to put in, and alone it wasn't enough, but together you see what can happen."
I like Matthew 14:13-21 as much as the next guy. But can't we keep our Bible story/real-world ratio one-to-one?

Sons of Liberty

As conservative bloggers in a state known for its resistance to tyranny going as far back as Bacon's Rebellion in 1675-1676 and later the Sons of Liberty of the American Revolution, we see ourselves as inheritors of that tradition of dissent against tyranny, in response to the overreaching arm of the government, of the all-powerful executive, today embodied in Governor Warner, the rich man in that house down in Richmond. We liken ourselves to the little rags that the Colonists were putting out in the 1760s and 1770s in response to oppressive, unjust, and unnecessary taxation such as the Stamp Act. Though our blogs are far more technologically proficient than the printing presses of the 1770s and we can respond to news with far more rapidity, we hope the end result is the same and that liberty is victorious as it tends to be in these parts of the world.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Presidential March Madness

I wish I had found this earlier, but check out this website that has assembled a Field of 64 notable Republicans and arranged them in a bracket to determine the 2008 Presidential nominee.

Right now 2-seed George Allen is trailing 10-seed J.C. Watts by a margin of 65% to 35%. Let's help Sen. Allen get to the Sweet 16! Voting for this round ends at 8:00pm.

Looking at the bracket, I predict that Condi Rice will likely emerge as the winner.

ABC caught poll skewin'

Michelle Malkin has a great article here about ABC's attempts to make up people's minds for them on the Terri Schiavo issue by using inaccurate push polling and shoddy reporting. But what else is new, right?

Jarvis kicks off Republican challenge to Del. Scott

On Monday, Mark Jarvis kicked off his primary challenge to Del. Ed Scott (R-30), and the Culpeper Star Exponent has the story.

As a minister should, Jarvis is campaigning hard for the Christian Conservative vote:

What is right for the 30th District, said Jarvis, is a representative willing to "go back to the original intent of the Founding Fathers," he said.

"The intent was not to have a church state," said Jarvis, "but they didn't want to kick God completely out of government. As a matter of fact, I want to get God back in government."

He offered two commitments to his future constituency if elected to House of Delegates - to champion "moral legislation" and not support raising taxes.

"I feel our citizens are taxed too much," said Jarvis, "and I want to invite God today back into our government here in Culpeper County."

He also challenged Scott's voting record on abortion-related issues, tax hikes and the "homosexual agenda."

Jarvis's webpage is up at http://markjarvis.info/.

Young to challenge Armstrong

Republican David Young plans to challenge Ward Armstrong in the 10th District, according to this article in the Martinsville Bulletin.
Young is a supervisor for Patrick County, and there's never a reason for Ward Armstrong to get a pass in this conservative leaning district.

I recognize that the economies of this district and this region are dependent on each other and that we must form coalitions" to work together, Young said, adding that he wants to "establish partnerships" across the region and across state lines.

A Federal Express hub planned for Greensboro, N.C., will bring development along the U.S. 220 corridor, Young said, and "we have to be ready." A new perspective can help, he added.

"We're not going to get a GM (General Motors) assembly plant and we're not going to bring back the textile industry. Those days are over," Young said and called on the area to "change with the times and adapt" to a new economy.

He believes the area should concentrate on tourism. Young considers a marina at Philpott Lake "one way Henry County could really shine."

The marina should include a fueling station for boats. "Once people pull their boats out to fuel them, they don't come back," Young said. With an on-site facility, however, "people might end up staying a night or even two."
The article notes that Young is a retired vocational agriculture teacher. If you are keeping count, and I am, that makes three Republican candidates with backgrounds as Ag teachers. Young is running in the 10th, Matt Lohr is running in the 26th, and Bobby Orrock is running for reelection in the 54th.

Kate Is a Wahoo

Addison, you know as well as I do that Kate was merely being polite to the poor impressionable Tech College Republicans, bless their little hearts. She roots for UVA sports over Tech sports always, and she realizes the vast superiority of a liberal arts education at the University of Virginia and its tradition for shaping and raising up leaders within the political ranks of the Old Dominion both now and throughout the history of our august Commonwealth. Kate is a Wahoo, period. She wasn't suggesting that all Wahoos are pompous. She was just playing to the usual stereotype. She merely happens to be humble and willing to admit it, as most of us graduates of the University of Virginia are always prepared to do.

Old Zach, do we know if Kate even applied to Virginia Tech? Obviously, if she did, she was accepted, but did she even take the time to apply?

Virginia Sports Roundup

Quite a few items involving Virginia athelets and teams that I find of interest:

-Only one Virginia basketball team is still alive and kicking, the Liberty Flames. Liberty's women's team advanced to the Sweet 16 last night by defeating DePaul. The Flames are the 13th seed in the Chattanooga region, but have advanced by upsetting 4th seeded Penn State in the first round, and 5th seeded DePaul in the second. Liberty will next face top-seeded LSU on Saturday. The RTD story is available here.

-Native Virginian J.J. Redick was named a First-team All-American yesterday. Redick helped lead the Duke Blue Devils to an ACC Tournament championship and a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament after the team was picked to finish fourth in the ACC in preseason voting. Redick, who graduated from Cave Spring High School in Roanoke, Virginia, led the ACC in scoring (22.8 points per game), free throw percentage (93.5%), and minutes played(37.13 per game). Two Virginia schools were also represented by All-American selections with ODU's Alex Loughton and Norfolk State's Chakowbi Hicks named as honorable mention selections.

-Both the Roanoke Times and Virginian-Pilot report on the return of much-maligned Virginia Tech QB Marcus Vick. The Hokies start their spring practices today amid skyrocketing expectations resulting from their ACC Championship run last season. CollegeFootballNews.com's pre-preseason rankings placed VT at #5, but Coach Beamer is clearly trying to keep expectations in check. Vick will apparently start the spring as the #3 QB, behind sophomore Sean Glennon and redshirt-freshman Cory Holt. This Hokie, however, doesn't expect his to stay at #3 very long.

Kate feeds red meat to Virginia Tech CRs

If you didn't love Kate! before, you should love her now.

In recent remarks to Virginia Tech's College Republicans, Griffin demonstrated the savvy that will make her Virginia's first female governor:
University of Virginia graduate Kate Griffin is currently working to promote the campaign for Jerry Kilgore as governor. Kilgore officially announced his campaign yesterday.

Griffin handed out bumper stickers reading “Hokies for Kilgore,” saying she may have gone to U.Va., but she liked Tech and was not one of the “stuck up Wahoos.”

Howard Dean gets religion

As DNC Chairman Howard Dean makes his "pandering to people I can't stand" tour through the South, he is trying desperately to redefine the Democratic Party as the "We believe in faith and values too" party. The Tennessean has this account of his stop at Vanderbilt University where he apparently twice invoked biblical references.
In the first he said Jesus' directive to ''love thy neighbor'' didn't mean one could choose which ones to love. He then remarked that Republicans never brought up the scriptural verse saying it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.

While I guess it's a good thing that Dean is reading the Bible, I think he needs to do more reading. The first statement is clearly an attempt by Dean to paint opponents of gay marriage as hate-mongerers, as if the Bible were unclear on the subject. I'm not sure what Dean's point is in citing the second verse. Jesus' point was not that rich people won't go to heaven, but that putting all your faith in the Lord, not the world, will make the impossible possible. But then I'm sure Dean didn't bother to read beyond that verse.

My favorite comment in the article is Dean's statement that ''[he]'d rather see someone go to work for a Republican campaign than sit on their butt.'' I hope the folks in the audience follow the Doctor's order.

The Schiavo dilemma

In this morning's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer has written an excellent column that clearly illustrates the conflict that Terri Schiavo's case presents for the many of us who care deeply about both life and federalism. Unfortunately, it appears as though the rule of law may force a most undesireable outcome that results in a helpless woman being starved to death.

In our civilized society, it is abhorrent for such a brutal death to be forced on any innocent human being, particularly when their will in the matter is subject to such uncertainty. Yet, the overreaching hand of Congress in this matter has even more frightening precedential effects. Should Schiavo die, at the very least we can hope that State legislatures will respond accordingly to prevent her fate from befalling any other Americans.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Gilmore says real estate taxes are good issue

In another case of a headline being worded much more strongly than the story, Bob Lewis has a story titled Gilmore sees property tax debate as repeat of 1997 car tax fight. The only quote from Gilmore actually says:
"People have watched their real estate assessments go up dramatically and they have some sense of suspicion, I think, that maybe this is just an effort to get more money out of them," Gilmore said after appearances with Kilgore on Tuesday.

"It's good to focus on these tax issues because they matter very much to people all across the state, whether it's cars (being taxed) or real estate," said the Republican former governor.
People are beginning to see the similarities (my grandmother, for instance). However, in 1997, Don Beyer tried to fight the car tax head-on. He climbed on board too late. In 2005, Tim Kaine has come out of the gates with his own version. Voters will need to decide whether they would prefer to take local government's word on limiting the increases (Kaine's plan) or whether they would prefer a constitutional amendment (Kilgore).

Also, Prof. Larry Sabato displays the big government mindset that made him Henry Howell's golden boy:
Sabato said statewide candidates who run for election targeting local revenue sources pretend that local and state revenue streams are separate. "But they really aren't," he said.

"In the end, the state has to supply the extra revenues to balance that out," Sabato said. "It's a shell game."
Or Larry, the state could just decide that some things aren't worth asking families to give up money for.

Dance wins in the 63rd

As expected, Rosalyn Dance won the special election to fill Fenton Bland's seat.

I didn't think that this race was really winnable, and it wasn't one of our best chances for a pick-up.

A local operative working on the race told me that even if Sims could manipulate the turnout to win the special election, she faced the certain prospect of losing it in the general election this fall.

Thoughts on the LG contest

Ed Lynch has a spectacularly mis-titled editorial in the Roanoke Times today regarding the race for Lieutenant Governor. The piece is called "How we should choose a lieutenant governor" but proceeds to provide no instruction on doing so.

It starts off predictably by stating that the LG position has been a traditional stepping stone to the Governor's mansion. I was expecting this to be the starting point for instruction on choosing an LG who could easily step into the state's top office, but alas, no such luck. Instead the article simply begins listing conservative positions that Senator Bill Bolling has taken throughout his political career and calls him the "clear Republican front-runner." Rather than compare Bolling's views to his opponents', Lynch merely ignores them. In fact, no other candidate's name, Democrat or Republican, is even mentioned in the piece.

Next, the editorial takes a most unpredictable turn. Lynch addresses two proposals that Bolling has made in his campaign as "one good idea, and one very bad idea." He then proceeds to launch into a criticism of Bolling's proposal to prevent illegal immigrants from having the benefits of in-state tuition. Regardless of whether this proposal is a good idea or a bad idea, I am befuddled as to how this criticism aids the reader in determining how to choose a lieutenant governor, particularly when no other alternatives are presented.

While my colleagues are a couple of Bolling sycophants, I am decidedly on the fence in this contest. I usually enjoy reading Mr. Lynch's columns and was hoping for an honest analysis of the candidates and what they bring to the table, or at least what qualities an undecided Republican voter like me should look for in a candidate. As of now, I prefer Bolling's strong conservative positions, but am more impressed by Connaughton's style and presence. I view Connaughton as the more electable of the two, but his unfamiliarity with the legislature is a concern for me. Bolling has clearly been working hard for a long time on this campaign, but I keep hearing things about his grassroots support being soft, which bothers me. Neither has set me on fire as of yet, but there is still time. Anyone else's thoughts on the race would be appreciated.

Who stands with the Governor?

The news just showed the governor's signing ceremony for the
accelerated food tax reduction. The cameras scanned the crowd, and I got a glimpse of the invited legislators.
  1. John Chichester
  2. Russ Potts
  3. Harry Parrish
  4. Steve Shannon
  5. Mark Sickles
What's wrong Mark, couldn't find any Republicans?

Sen. Allen defends NASA

Sen. George Allen is burning up the editorial pages today with yet another column, this one in the Hampton Roads Daily Press. In this letter, Senator Allen responds to concerns about funding for NASA by pledging his full support for the Langley Research Center, located in Hampton, and trumpeting its importance to Virginia's economy.

Perhaps Senator Allen is worried that Virginians are starting to forget who he is while he's away in Washington. I can assure you, Senator, there is little chance of that. But 2006 is approaching fast, so it never hurts to remind people that you still care about what is going on in their lives. They'll remember that come election day.

Universities will link up to boost research

Gov. Warner announced the creation of a new super-fast fiberoptic network that will link up the state's six major research institutions, permitting them to share information with one another as well as access national and international research resources. Virginia Tech, George Mason, Old Dominion, Virginia Commonwealth, William & Mary and UVA will invest around $6 million over five years for the project. The universities hope that this network will improve the Commonwealth's scientific research and development capabilities. The RTD story is available here.

Army raises re-enlistment age for Guard and Reserve

USA Today informs us that the Army has raised the maximum age for recruits by 5 years, from 34 to 39. This move is clearly aimed at helping the Army cope with recent personnel losses and recruiting shortfalls. While this change des not apply to the active Army, it will certainly give the National Guard and Reserve access to a much larger pool of applicants.

This adjustment makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons. First of all is that 39 is not as old as it once was. There are a lot of healthy, able-bodied individuals in their mid-to-late thirties who have previously been prevented from serving their country in the US Army. Furthermore, life in the Guard and Reserve is quite different than life in the active Army. Except during deployment, which the Army expects to occur every 3-5 years, the demands on Reservists and Guardsmen are not as strenuous as those on the active Army. The Army also insists that physical requirements will be unchanged, further limiting the pool of applicants.

While these changes are needed and welcome, it is a shame that the Army must resort to such measures to meet its recruitment goals. At a time when our nation is in the most need, it is disturbing that able-bodied Americans are not heeding the call to serve. If Americans seek to avoid mandatory service, then more willing volunteers must be found. The US Armed Services offer a wealth of opportunities for Americans of every size, shape, and color. The incentives are greater today than they have ever been, whether financial, educational, or patriotic. All you have to do is raise your right hand.

Make no mistake, there are people out there who want nothing less than the complete destruction of our nation and way of life. Our freedom depends on the willingness of young men and women to selflessly serve in the US military. Why don't you join them?

GC turns out for the local boy made good

JB over at Commonwealth Conservative has a great description of Jerry Kilgore's campaign kickoff in Gate City last night.

I've been to dozens of football games and basketball games at GCHS over the years, and think there are three truths about Scott County:
1) They like a good show
2) They support their own
3) They like to win

Sounds like the Kilgore campaign provided #1 and the crowd provided #2. I'm pumped to do my part to provide #3.

Gillen's replacement to face tough task

The Virginian-Pilot has a well thought-out article today addressing the challenges that will be faced by UVA's next basketball coach. The greatest challenge, of course, will be simply competing in an ACC conference that is loaded with talent and will be adding the Boston College Eagles, a team that only went 25-5 with a 13-3 record in the Big East this year. Regardless of who decides to go pro and who stays, the ACC will always be stocked and getting to the top tier will always be a nearly sisyphean task.

It is not hopeless, however. As the article points out, there is some talent coming back to Virginia next year in the form of players like J.R Reynolds, Gary Forbes, and Sean Singletary. At times this past year, Singletary looked like the only player on the court who cared if the Hoos won or lost. His efforts were rewarded by selection to the ACC All-Freshman team. In addition, the Hoos will open a brand-spanking new arena in 2006 that they hope will help lure top-shelf talent.

For now, they hope to lure a top-shelf coaching candidate to Charlottesville by waving big bucks at anyone and everyone that has coached in the NCAA Tournament. Names like Tubby Smith, Rick Barnes and Mike Brey have been bandied about, but mostly met with denials. My pick would be the youngest head coach in the NCAA, VCU's Jeff Capel. Though it would be quite a risk, Capel is a coach's son who played under Coach K at Duke and obviously has an excellent grasp of the game. Though he probably needs more seasoning, if UVA grabs him now he could very well be there for many years, and losing him to another school could come back to bite the Cavs. Unfortunately, I doubt that Craig Littlepaige will choose to go out on that particular limb unless forced to.

UPDATE

The RTD likes former UVA player and current Phoenix Suns assistant Marc Iavaroni as a possible replacement for Gillen. They also mention that some UVA boosters are not keen on Rick Barnes after he spurned the school in 1990, and that Golden State coach Mike Montgomery, who had formerly coached at Stanford, is probably not interested.

Harrisonburg baseball takes a hit

The DNR reports today that the Harrisonburg City Council has put the kibosh on the proposed stadium/hotel/civic center complex by a 4-1 vote. Apparently the city is hesitant to approve the use of public funds for a risky venture that may or may not be profitable.

Although the idea of minor league baseball in Harrisonburg is attractive, this is the right move by the city council. Stadium financing deals are a huge racket. There is no reason for any public funds to ever be used to build sports-only arenas. The prime example is the San Fransisco Giants' SBC Park, which was financed entirely by private funds. Projections of economic benefits are usually overblown and it is often the taxpayers that end up getting hosed.

A couple of interesting '08 items

Thanks to RealClearPolitics for these two articles:

-The Washington Times explores the idea of a Cheney candidacy as Bush's best bet to carry on his political legacy.

-The New York Post wonders if Hillary Clinton might decline to run for re-election to the Senate in order to avoid the difficult votes that haunted Kerry throughout his campaign. They then follow the hypothetical dominoes that might lead Guiliani to Albany and Pataki to Washington.

UPDATE

-Larry Kudlow at the National Review chimes in on the Cheney '08 speculation.

Sen. Allen defends nuclear option

In a fiery editorial in today's Washington Times, Senator George Allen calls on Senate Republicans to "call Senate Democrats' bluff" by invoking the nuclear option that would prevent filibustering of President Bush's judicial nominees. Allen takes the Senate Dems to task for usurping 200 years of tradition by blocking up or down votes on the nominees. He warns them that their obstruction will earn them the same fate as their erstwhile colleague, Tom Daschle. As Chairman of the Senate Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Allen led the successful effort to unseat the Senate's most powerful Democrat.

Allen has never been one to shy away from conflict, so it is no surprise that he'd prefer to take the fight to the Dems rather than timidly hope for a less controversial solution. I particularly liked Allen's suggestion that this procedural maneuver be regarded as the "constitutional" rather than "nuclear" option.

This statement is classic George Allen:
It's sad that instead of working with us to find common ground, Mr. Reid is leading the Senate Democrats into a box canyon. They've already dug themselves a six-foot political grave and they seem intent on continuing to dig.

That kind of rhetoric is the reason that us "common folk" love Sen Allen. Unfortunately, we haven't gotten to see that side of Allen very much in the US Senate. With re-election right around the corner and a potential presidential bid looming on the horizon, perhaps his handlers have decided that the time has come to let Allen be Allen.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Kilgore kicks it off

Bob Lewis from the AP releases the first story from the Kilgore kickoff.


Among the highlights:
  • increases in the state income, sales or gasoline taxes should be approved in voter referendum
  • caps on property tax bills - property assessments can increase no more than 5% annually
  • decentralized road decisions, with power given to regional transportation boards
  • incentive based pay increases for the best teachers

More Schiavo Material

Here is a fascinating website of Kate Adamson who spoke at a pro-Terri Schiavo rally recently. She claims she was in the exact situation as Schiavo 10 years ago after a massive double brainstem stroke paralyzed her. Check out the pictures.

So many questions and issues involved: Should Congress be passing laws concerning an individual? What does this say about our federalist system?

RTD questions affirmative action

The Richmond Times has this editorial today addressing AG candidate Bob McDonnell's statements that state colleges and universities should not use race as a factor in college admissions. The editorialist fails to make a strong case, at once criticizing affirmative action while also calling McDonnell out for not addressing what they believe to be other unfair considerations.

Specifically, the editorial argues that giving preference to in-state students and so-called "legacy" students is just as invalid as giving artificial preferences to students based on race. But the comparison is apples and oranges. The stated goal of affirmative action is to increase "diversity" on college campuses, but using race, any race, as a factor only creates a shallow form of diversity that doesn't necessarily contribute to the stated educational goals.

Preferences to in-state students and legacies are aimed at achieving political and financial goals, not diversity goals. In terms of gender preferences, I'm sure that the vast majority of male college students would have no problem eliminating such preferences if they in fact resulted in the 2/3 female population that the editorial claims.

The Left Admits Iraq Is No Vietnam

Juan Cole of Informed Comment fame is now admitting that Iraq is no Vietnam by any stretch of the imagination. Cole, a Middle East historian at the University of Michigan, is the preeminent leftist blogger on the situation in Iraq and has been quite skeptical of the war effort.

Cole writes: "In Communism, the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong had a universal ideology with a nationalist subtext that could hope to unite all the Vietnamese. . . In contrast, the Sunni Arab guerrillas in Iraq lack a unifying ideology. They are either Baathists (discredited in most of the country) or Salafis (a hard line Sunni ideology with no appeal to Shiites in the south or to most Kurds in the north), or Arab nationalists." Cole also points out that the insurgents have no major patron states, but still must insist that "there are other forms of quagmire. Nevertheless, it is important to hear these concessions coming from intelligent but strident leftists who can see that Iraq will not turn into a Vietnam, though they believe it may become a protracted struggle like in Northern Ireland or Sri Lanka or even perhaps Lebanon. Cole says that "long term, low-intensity ethnically-based conflicts just grind on for a decade or more, and then, if we are lucky, gradually fade at least somewhat away."

It's healthy to see some rational comments emanating from the Left. Good to see them coming around.

Old Zach's Tournament Take

Being the sports addict that I am, I 'm sure you'll be surprised to learn that I've been completely worthless the past four days while the NCAA Tournament's opening rounds were taking place. Like most everyone else, my brackets have taken some hits, but fortunately my Final Four picks of UNC, Duke, Louisville, and Oklahoma State remain intact.

The ACC has been rated as the best conference all year by the RPI and as the Sweet 16 begins three teams still have a chance to represent the conference in the Final Four for the 8th time in the last 9 years (the lone exception being 2003's team of Syracuse, Kansas, Marquette, and Texas. While the plaintive cries of East Coast bias are heard throughout the land, in truth it all comes down to winning and losing.

With that in mind, here's the conference breakdown for this weekend's games:

ACC (3): UNC, NC State, Duke. Unfortunately the best the ACC can do is to put two teams in the Final Four as UNC and State would play each other if they win their next game. Georgia Tech's beatdown and Wake Forest's loss to the Hillbillies Mountaineers put an end to the ACC's chance for an unprecedented 3 final four teams. UNC is looking dominant right now, while Duke appeared vulnerable in their victory over Mississippi State. Still NC State is the wildcard and might be playing better than anyone left standing at this point. Julius Hodge has regained his ACC player of the year form from a year ago, and could very well carry the 'Pack to a surprise trip to St. Louis. Still, I think most everyone, including me, would prefer to see UNC-Duke: Round 3.

Big Ten (3): Illinois, Michigan State and Wisconsin. These three teams have been the cream of the crop all year in the Big Ten and have lived up to expectations (or in Wisconsin's case exceeded them) by making the Sweet 16. Illinois has been the favorite all year, is playing close to home, and will have no excuses if they don't make the Final Four. I don't like Michigan State's chances because they lack a true point guard, which has been historically vital to a late-season run. Plus, Duke has owned them the past few years and I don't see that changing. I do have to give mad love to the other P. Diddy though, that's Paul Davis. Wis-kahn-sin might be the most boring team in America, but they are getting it done. Still, they might have to go through two ACC teams to reach St. Louis and my East Coast snobbery won't permit me to believe that can happen. I love Bo Ryan though because he reminds me of the Principal in The Breakfast Club.

Big East (2): West Virginia, Villanova. Wow, I can hardly write about this without detonating into a massive fireball of rage. As a Virginia Tech fan I hate all things West Virginia and care not a whit for the Big East. Also as a fan of class, manners, and common sense I hate almost everything that comes out of Philly. For the sake of humanity, let's hope that Ol' Roy and The General take care of business against these two pretenders.

Big Twelve (2): Oklahoma State, Texas Tech. For the reason's stated above, I will most certainly have my guns up for the Red Raiders this weekend, even if they have killed my brackets the past two years. Also, like our friend John Behan, I love Bobby Knight. The longer Bobby Knight sticks around, the greater the chances are for a classic soundbite that ESPN will play ad nauseum for the next 20-30 years. I have Oklahoma State in the championship game, so I have a lot riding on the Cowboys. While they didn't look impressive in the first two rounds, I hope that their lackluster performace will serve as a wake up call, not cause for concern. OSU will certainly need to bring its "A-game" against Arizona and possibly Illinois. I think Eddie Sutton will have them ready.

Pac-10 (2): Arizona, Washington. I'll admit I know nothing about the Huskies except that they have a short guy who plays for them. Apparently they are pretty good, and look to be on a roll. Still they are in unfamiliar territory this late in the season as a #1 seed. Experience counts and that's why I like Pitino's kids to take out Lorenzo Romar's team. Lute Olsen and Arizona, however, have been here before. Salim Stoudamire is a stud, but I just can't get over the fact that the Wildcats lost to Virginia. Still, I expect the game against OSU to be a classic.

C-USA (1): Louisville. I have been touting Louisville all year as a possible surprise Final Four team. Their loss to Memphis at home gave me pause during the regular season, but they are back on track now after dismantling a very good Georgia Tech team. They were snubbed by the tournament committee, receiving a #4 seed after winning the C-USA tournament and being ranked #4 in the nation. That slight appears to have motivated them and now the whole nation knows what I've known since December, the Cardinals are fo' real.

Horizon (1): UW-Milwaukee. The Panthers are clearly this year's Sweet 16 Cinderella, but few expect them to stay on the same floor with Illinois very long. Still, head coach Bruce Pearl can take comfort in the fact that it is exactly this kind of tournament run that opens the door for big-time gigs at other schools.

Mountain West (1): Utah. Andrew Bogut might be the best player in the tournament right now and is NBA stock is undoubtedly soaring. Carmelo Anthony showed us two years ago what one great player can do for a team in the tournament. Bogut could give Kentucky problems, but I think Utah's overachieving will end on Friday.

SEC (1): Kentucky. The SEC secured its legacy as this year's most overrated conference with 4 of its 5 teams bowing out in the first weekend. Yet it's no surprise to see Kentucky still standing this late in the year as Tubby Smith has guided yet another group to the Sweet 16. This team is still young and inexperienced, but who wouldn't love to see another Duke-Kentucky regional final? The tradition, the pageantry, the competing shades of Blue and White. Just don't let Dick Vitale anywhere near that game if it happens.

The Huskies and Cardinals will kick things off at 7:10 on Thursday night, and I can't wait!

Baril Stands Up UVA Law

The Virginia Law Weekly at the University of Virginia School of Law came out in its March 18, 2005 edition with a revealing item of information on candidate Steve Baril saying "thumbs down to Virginia Attorney General candidate Steve Baril for twice bailing on Law School speaking commitments at the last minute." Word out of the Law School has it that he's bailed on both the Federalist Society and the UVA Law Republicans over the course of the last couple months.

House Majority Leader weds local attorney

We at Sic Semper would like to extend our congratulations to Delegate Morgan Griffith on his recent marriage to Botetourt County prosecutor Hilary Markham. I can't believe I missed this story in the Roanoke Times last week, but better late than never. Our best wishes go out for this joyful Republican union.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Hugh Finn - 1998 = Terry Schiavo - 2005

I was thinking about the similarities between the Hugh Finn case here in the Commonwealth and the Terry Schiavo controversy. Steve over at SWVALaw has tracked down the procedural history from that case.

Mr. Finn, of course, did not get a special session of Congress.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Is Kaine's plan different than Bolling's?

I'll be the first to admit that I'm hard on political reporters. I try to make up for it by pointing out when I think they are being fair.

Two candidates have announced campaign issues that involve property tax relief. Bob Gibson has fairly described the holes in Sen. Bolling's and Lt. Gov. Kaine's plans.

The Norfolk Pilot, on the other hand, manages to find fault only with Sen. Bolling. Given the
criticism from the Virginia Municapal League and the Virginia Association of Counties, one would expect more criticism of Kaine's plan from the op-ed pages. If anyone gubernatorial candidate is channelling Jim Gilmore, it's Tim Kaine.

As an aside, we were having dinner with my grandmother and she said "It sounds like Tim Kaine is trying to pull the same mess Jim Gilmore pulled with the car tax!" Look for grandmother Addison to guestblog at somepoint in the future.

DGIF Chairman Resigns

Times Dispatch and Norfolk Pilot report that DGIF chairman Dan Hoffler has resigned.

I have been following this story for a few months (here, here, here and here) and was beginning to think that $222K in political donations could buy an unlimited amount of protection from the Governor.

But with the Norfolk Pilot's investigative reporting and critical op-ed on Wednesday, the Governor must have decided that enough was enough. The Pilot requested "thousands of documents and five computer databases from the Department of Game & Inland Fisheries."

They discovered an amazing amount of questionable spending, and I urge you to read the article.

Among the highlights:
  • During the 3½-year period, Woodfin, Bradbery, Caison, Boyd and Florence M. Harding, Woodfin’s assistant, spent more than $5,000 on boots. In one 18-month stretch, taxpayers bought Woodfin five pairs, one for $249. A few purchases were for other game wardens and recruits.
  • Knives also were popular – in one two-month span, Caison bought eight knives worth $440, including one for $120. A member of the Special Law Assistance Program team bought 11 engraved knives at $185 each, for a total cost of $2,035.
  • The written explanation for some charges did not match up with actual receipts, such as two charges from May andJune 2004 that listed a “security system” when the purchases were for two $600 car stereo/CD players.
  • Bradbery and Boyd also had memberships to a Richmond health club paid by the department. Woodfin said the $25-a-month dues were necessary for Bradbery and Boyd to supervise new recruits who use the club, also at state expense.
  • The department spent $4,600 for custom-molded, electronic hearing devices designed to enhance outdoor hearing and muffle gun blasts. At least $2,140 was spent for Bradbery and Caison. The devices generally are bought for game wardens who teach shooting classes. Although they are administrators, Bradbery and Caison occasionally teach, Woodfin said.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Ashcroft to teach at Regent Law School

The Virginian-Pilot has this article saying that the former Attorney General will teach a two-week course each semester for the next five years. This is an incredible opportunity for the students of Regent. Good luck getting into that class.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Putney likely to seek re-election

The Bedford Bulletin has this piece suggesting that Delegate Lacey Putney will in fact seek another term. There has been a great deal of speculation surrounding this seat covering the counties of Bedford and Botetourt, as well as Bedford City.

A while back, former Roanoke City mayor Ralph Smith moved from Roanoke to Botetourt County and announced his intention to run for the seat should Putney step down. Now it appears as though ol' Ralph may have jumped the gun and will have to wait at least a couple more years before the seat comes open.

Delegate Putney said that he had been urged by "independents, Republicans, and Democrats" to run again. This statement corresponds to the things I have heard coming from that region of the state. Now the real question will be whether Ralph has the patience to sit around in Botetourt waiting for Putney to retire, or if he will pack his bags yet again. I hear there's a nice home on Mill Mountain that might be available.

Update

The Roanoke Times has this piece confirming that Putney will announce his intention to run again shortly after the General Assembly's one-day veto session on April 6. The article also indicates that Ralph Smith intends to stay in the district and foster his relationship with Putney, clearly hoping to make himself the heir-apparent to the seat.