The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Deep Throat Revealed by Woodward

Finally....the truth comes out. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein have confirmed that FBI agent Mark Felt, at one point the #2 guy in the FBI, is indeed Deep Throat. Fascinating. One of the great questions of our political era finally answered.

Good Report Card From DC Voucher Program

Early results from the DC voucher program seem to be giving it favorable ratings. It's still too early to have any indication on the program's impact on the test scores for the children enrolled. However, we breath a sigh of relief at any positive signs from the first federally funded voucher program in the nation's history, and this is an encouragement.

UVA Baseball Again in the NCAA Tourney

Good to see that UVA's strong performance in the ACC tournament this past week paid off for them.

Three Cheers for Democracy...and France

I made a post a few weeks ago speculating wishfully that the French might reject the European Constitution in their national referendum, and I am now pleased to report that on Sunday they did indeed reject the European Union in all its vaunted glory and sent the aristocratic elites of Europe into a panic. Their dream for a continent united under one government has been put on hold. The people of France finally realized how much they would be giving up to a government based in Brussels.

This vote by the French will delay the ratification of the European Constitution for at least several years since the treaty requires that there be unanimous approval of the European Constitution by all 25 countries (which makes sense considering how much sovereignty they would be relinquishing), and the issue would probably come before the French people again in 2007 at the earliest.

The dollar is already gaining on the Euro.

The future of Europe is up for grabs. Read more about it here.

George Allen onin the stump

The RT-D has a nice story this morning about George Allen's rising profile as a presidential candidate. The story spends some time on Sen. Allen's recent embrace of ethanol. This change has "evolved with technology," according to an Allen staffer.
"Contrary to the past, advanced technology has made it more practical, more efficient and more affordable to produce bio fuels," Snepp said in an e-mail.
Even more interesting is Sen. Allen's rising profile in media outside of Virginia.
Allen has been keeping up a busy travel schedule outside of his Senate duties. When the Senate is taking a Memorial Day break this week, he plans re-election campaign fundraising stops in Arizona, Nevada and California. As chairman in 2003-2004 of the Senate Republicans' re-election arm, he developed political contacts across the country.

Allen has gotten mention in news reports beyond Iowa, New Hampshire, and Virginia recently. He has been speaking out not only against judicial filibusters but also in support of John R. Bolton, Bush's nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, and on other matters.

Between May 22 and mid-Friday, there were 112 individual articles that mentioned Allen; 35 on Wednesday alone; and Associated Press articles mentioning him were picked up by 340 newspapers Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, an Allen spokesman said. It is common for senators' staffs to monitor news stories about their bosses.
Sen. Allen was also the subject of a recent attack piece by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. That most likely means that they view him as a serious contender that needs to be sidelined.

UPDATE
Sorry for the messed up formatting. That's what I get for posting at 3 AM.

AG race gets testy

That's the headline from The RT-D today. "Gets testy"? Methinks the RT-D is about two weeks late to the party.
McDonnell said Baril hails himself as a conservative but hasn't always courted the conservative vote.

"He ran in 1998 as a moderate," for a House of Delegates seat, McDonnell said. "He lost in that primary. Now he is running as a conservative. I think the people have seen through that."

Baril last week challenged McDonnell to "come clean" about who paid for political advertisements, suggesting the dollars were "washed" through the Virginia Conservative Action PAC but were really from a group, the American Tort Reform Association, that does not have to disclose its contributors.
The article also gives a nice summary of some of the candidates' positions. It's interesting to note that the article states as fact that ATRA need not disclose its donors. I pointed out last week over at Commonwealth Conservative that ATRA members are listed here. Most of them would seem to have reason to support tort reform, including my favorite, The International Roller Skating Association.

Monday, May 30, 2005

On Memorial Day

From General Order No. 11 - May 5, 1868

We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and found mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, andother hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation's gratitude,--the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan.

By command of:
JOHN A. LOGAN,
Commander-in-Chief.

N. P. CHIPMAN,
Adjutant-General

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Worst. Endorsement. Ever.

Roanoke Times:
State Sen. Russ Potts may be running for governor as an independent. But the Winchester firebrand still considers himself a Republican.

So Potts had no qualms about casting an absentee ballot in the open GOP primary for governor, even though he hopes to run against the winner this fall.
I guarantee the endorsement won't be appearing on any of the candidates webpages. I'm absolutely dumbfounded by this move. Let's assume, arguendo, that there is a problem in the Republican party, and that Russ Potts wants to speak to it. Does he really think that his endorsement carries any weight with Republican primary voters? If it's some sort of Jedi reverse psychology mindtrick, then I can't figure it out.

Of course, it could just be about Russ Potts.

Down-ticket primary races

The Lynchburg News-Advance writes a typical story on the Republican LG primary.
The race for the GOP’s lieutenant governor’s nomination pits two candidates in a game of political one-upmanship to show why each considers himself a better Republican.

So as the race to the June 14 primary heats up, each candidate must convince voters why he is the right man to represent the Republican Party in November’s general election.
There isn't really any new information in the article. It is the first time that I have seen Sen. Bolling refer to Mr. Connaughton's countercharges regarding Sen. Bolling's tenure on the Hanover Board of Supervisors.
“When he was on the Hanover Board of Supervisors he did the same thing,” Connaughton said, citing Bolling’s 1992 vote to reduce the county’s real estate rate, which still resulted in a 13.56 percent increase in the average tax bill due to higher assessments.

“I don’t understand how people can be so hypocritical,” he said. “What was fine for him is not fine for me?”

Bolling said voters should look at his 10 years in the Senate where he voted against dozens of proposed tax increases.

“I have never claimed to have cut taxes in local government. That’s what is dishonest,” he said. “I’m not running for lieutenant governor based on my record with local government a decade ago, although I’m proud of it. I’m running on my record over the past 10 years in state government.”
The Free-Lance Star has a similar article on the AG's race.
Bob McDonnell and Steve Baril are both lawyers, both Republicans, both 50, and both running for attorney general.

But there, they say, the similarities stop.
It's a typical horse race story. In fact, in reference to the ads purchased by VCAP, Mr. Baril states,
"I think we've got a horse race. Any time you've got the self-proclaimed front-runner attacking the challenger that says volumes."
That's often the case. On the other hand, there's only so many times a front-runner can take a punch before he has to respond.

The polls close in 15 days and 21 hours. I can't wait.

Virginia NASCAR HoF bid to include $51.5m in state funding

Norm finds today's RT-D article on Richmond's bid for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

I pointed out two weeks ago that the Richmond bid's webpage didn't explain where the money would come from. Today we learn:
Agostino said on Monday that the group hopes to have a final economic-development impact assessment within two weeks.

"We need to know if this is going to work financially," he said. "This is taxpayers' money."

He said the group is hoping for a 50/50 mix of public and private funding to support the $103 million project but said that could change. Part of those public dollars would come from the state, officials said.

"We are including a letter in our report from senators saying they support the [Hall of Fame] idea," Agostino said.

It's unclear at this time how much taxpayers would be expected to kick in, Agostino said.
Um, isn't all public money taxpayers' money? Is there really any other source? If we can get revenue from the public money fairy, then we should tap that instead of say, tax increases.

And does anyone want to guess which senators have signed the letter of support? I have a few good guesses.

As always, Norm has a way with words:
Not only no but hell no.

You want a hall of fame, you build it with private money.

Oh what am I saying? This is Henrico County...the land where the county manager threatens homeowners with higher taxes if they don't vote his way in referenda (yeah...that big money and special interest lobbying sure went over well here, didn't it?).

This is Central Virginia, where local governments fall all over themselves to hand out taxpayer money to private groups looking to build the Next Big Thing.

And this is Virginia...where pols from both sides of the aisle have allowed private groups from across the Commonwealth to weasel their way onto the public teat.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Terry Kilgore to get opponent

As Va Conservative, Raising Kaine and Brian Patton have all noted, Terry Kilgore will have an opponent in his race this fall.
On Wednesday, June 1, 2005, Rex McCarty of Gate City, Virginia, will announce his candidacy for House of Delegates in a rolling tour through the 1st Legislative District of Lee, Scott, Washington, and Wise counties.
A quick google search indicated that's Rex McCarty, husband of Lisa Watson McCarty, editor and publisher of the Scott County Star. That angle could make for an interesting campaign.

I agree with JB - this one is already over. And besides, Virginia 2005 has already called this one.

Sign Wars

I spent some time out and about recently in Fairfax County, and the sign wars are in full effect.

The 37th District (Chap Petersen's old seat) has the signs that you would expect in a double primary for a swing seat. Mason (R), Kaplan (R), Bulova (D) and Oleszek (D) all had plenty up. I didn't count, but every intersection had representation from every candidate.

In the 67th District, it looked like Chris Craddock had gotten his signs up early and often. Del. Reese was represented at most intersections, but Mr. Craddock's volunteers had superior firepower and position.

It looked like Bill Bolling's and Sean Connaughton's signs played to a draw at most places where they were doing battle. The campaigns had identified valuable real estate on entrance and exit ramps. I have no idea what the story is in Prince William, and the balance could be shifted.

NOTE: IMO, sign wars are generally worthless other than as a crude measure of grassroots support. I wonder if any marketing guys have produced any analysis on how effective yard signs are? There's George Allen's "worth a $1000 donation" estimate, but I think that was for bumper stickers, not signs.

Fines for election violations

Time to pay up:

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the Democratic National Committee and another Jackson entity will pay $200,000 in fines for campaign finance law violations in the 2000 presidential election stemming from a complaint by a prominent conservative lobbying organization.

The civil penalties were announced Thursday by the Federal Election Commission in a case filed by the American Conservative Union. The complaint followed a speaking tour in which Jackson stumped for Democrats at more than 120 events between September and November 2000. The FEC found Jackson's travels, officially nonpartisan, were actually done on behalf of Democratic candidates.
Also yesterday, a Texas district judge ruled that Texans for a Republican Majority PAC (TRMPAC) must pay $200,000 to five Democrats who lost in 2002 legislative races. This decision by a judge elected as a Democrat is not final and will be appealed.

There are broad philosophical issues that are the same in both of the cases. Both defendents claimed that they were not involved in partisan political activity, and therefore should not be required to adhere to election laws. In the gray area between political and issue advocacy, I prefer that we always ere on the side of free speech.

Couple who brought down DGIF gets FOIA fee reduced

Lee and Paulette Albright, a Nelson county couple investigating profligate spending at the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, has won again in court.
Nelson County Circuit Judge J. Michael Gamble ruled yesterday that the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries was wrong when it charged Albright $3,000 for copies of documents he sought under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

The judge ruled that the department could only charge $989 and that it must pay Albright's lawyer. The judge also said the department was mistaken when it redacted, or blotted out, information on 103 pages Albright was given.

The judge allowed redactions on only 38 pages.

Finally, in a ruling that could have major implications throughout state government, Gamble ruled that the department had no right to charge Albright for the time officials spent studying and redacting the documents.
This is a terrific public interest story. I've been very interested, as a hunter, in the whole mess at DGIF. (See previous posts here, here, here and here). In general, the Albright's story is a great triumph for citizen action, and a lesson that FOIA isn't just for newspapers. The Albright's should be applauded. They should also start a blog. :-)

Also, I didn't get a chance earlier in the week to mention the resignation of DGIF director William Woodfin. Will Vehrs and Norm Leahy had some thoughts on the matter.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Allen's Presidential Aspirations Benefited

Here is a great article by Hugh Hewitt about the ramifications of the deal by the 14 Senators that seems to have accomplished little or nothing. In the meantime, Priscilla Owens has been approved and John Bolton has been filibustered despite promises by Reid that he would not be.

Hewitt considers the presidential aspirations of those parties involved from the Republican side:
On the presidential front, it wasn't only McCain who lost big with the deal. So did Senator Bill Frist, at least for the moment, as legitimate questions are being raised about his ability to run the country when he cannot even corral his own caucus. Nebraska's Chuck Hagel contributed to the collapse of the caucus with his reprise of Hamlet on every Sunday show that would have him. Winners include Virginia's George Allen and Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney.

UVA Lacrosse vs. Johns Hopkins

Just a heads up about the UVA Men's Lacrosse game tomorrow at 2 p.m. on ESPN. They are in the Final Four of the NCAA tourney and are playing Johns Hopkins.

It's been a great season for the men after a rough finish last year.

Way to Go, Commonwealth

So, we helped 50 sex offenders on the state registry get it up last year with state medicaid funded viagra. Nice.

John Dalton, Jr. to run for Radford Commonwealth's Attorney

John Dalton, Jr., son of Virginia governor John N. Dalton, will run for Radford City Commonwealth's Attorney this fall.
Dalton received the Republican nomination for the post Tuesday. He will face current Commonwealth's Attorney Chris Rehak, who defeated [Patrick] Moore in a special election last year to replace Randal Duncan, Dalton's former partner who became a district judge.
Mr. Rehak only won his special election last fall by one vote. It's always easier the second time around, but we'll definitely be rooting for Mr. Dalton.

Mr. Dalton is the brother-in-law of Republican AG candidate Steve Baril.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

DMV proposes new license restrictions

The Bristol Herald-Courier had this item the other day announcing a new proposal by the VA DMV that would essentially put a waiting period on obtaining new drivers licenses while the DMV verifies your identity against a centralized datbase. The driver would receive a temporary license on-site while the permanent one would arrive in three-to-five business days.

After 911 the Virginia DMV's security procedures were put under a great deal of scrutiny when it was determined that some of the terrorists had fraudulently obtained valid IDs. It is good to know that the DMV is still working on new ways to improve identity security. I do question why their technology won't allow them to verify identities on the spot though if they have a centralized computer system. Come to think of it, where is the wait-time reducing technology too?

Advertising and the Blogoshere

One of my favorite leftwing websites, namely Juan Cole's Informed Comment, has a great post here about the future of marketing and advertising among blogs, comparing them to your advertising on newspapers. It's a nonpartisan look at some of creative ideas that some members of the blogosphere are putting forth to make blogging a profitable profession (not that most of us make any money off of it or even expect or desire to).

Jeff Stafford's Kids Who Took Over Virginia Republican Politics

I thought it was an appropriate time to resurrect an article from Style Weekly in 1999. The article details how Jeff Stafford's 1984 campaign for the 9th Congressional District in Southwest Virginia against then one-term incumbent Rich Boucher created a group of Republican operatives and party leaders who now play a major role in Republican politics.

The article is divided up into a Part I and Part II that have to be read separately because the Style Weekly link from Part I to Part II is broken.

You will find the article fascinating...I guarantee it. The Stafford staffers who got started on his 1984 campaign now play major roles within Republican circles and are very influential players on several of the statewide campaigns this year. Betsy Beamer is Treasurer for the Kilgore campaign and held the position of Secretary for the Commonwealth in the Allen administration from 1994 to 1998. Her husband Jim Beamer started his own lobbying firm. Ray Allen became a partner of Boyd Marcus and now is one of the most powerful consultants in the state, consulting for Steve Baril right now. Tim Phillips, who is a partner with Century Strategies, Ralph Reed's consulting firm based out of Atlanta, is handling the Connaughton and McDonnell campaigns currently.

The article tells how Jeff Stafford infused his staffers with a love for Virginia politics through his passion for what he believed and his ability to laugh at himself as he barnstormed across Southwest Virginia. It's well worth reading.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Supervisors know it when they see it

Some Virginia localities have started looking at new ways to restrict adult businesses in their communities. The Bristol Herald Courier has this article looking at Washington County's efforts to keep porn shops away from churches and schools. The Daily News Record addresses much the same issue in Rockingham County.

Unfortunately, the porn industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds across the nation and suck thousands of Americans into an inescapable web of moral deficency. With the internet it is now getting even easier for kids to be exposed to this filth at an early age. Free speech activists will surely decry these efforts, but I applaud efforts to protect our children with sensible laws that only minimally affect the freedoms of those few individuals who really want to seek this stuff out.

R.I.P. John McCain (RINO-AZ)

As I read it, this article by Linda Feldmann of the Christian Science Monitor is a gross miscalculation of the political impact of the judicial confirmation issue, particularly on the right side of the aisle. Feldmann makes McCain out to be the hero in this scenario. He is not. Certainly the media will continue their fawning and slobbering over McCain and will talk him up as a contender in 'o8. But truth be told, his Presidential eulogy has already been written.

John McCain is a traitor to the Republican cause. He is a RINO of the worst sort, not because his views are "moderate," but because he trumpets his party affiliation while displaying a complete lack of loyalty to the causes and concerns of that group.

I must confess an egregious error on my part. In 2000, I support John McCain over George W. Bush. Had I not been on a camping trip during the primary, I would have voted for him. Of course, I immediately supported Bush once he claimed the nomination, but I still regret having supported McCain at all. I was dead wrong about this man.

In fact, John McCain has a lot in common with our own Russ Potts. Both are egomaniacswho are embittered by the fact that the rest of the party that nominally associate themselves with doesn't agree with them. They seek the spotlight only for themselves and care nothing of the principles of their party or those individuals they represent. Both fancy themselves "mavericks" and imagine much larger constituencies than they actually represent. Finally, both will be left standing at the altar come election day. Whether this November or the summer of '08, their endless compromises will leave them lonely when the voters start looking for leaders.

Commencement Exercises on the Lawn

I was on the Lawn on Sunday morning to see several friends and relatives graduate from various programs of the University and it was a spectacular morning. The sky was perfectly blue, not a cloud in the sky, with the temperatures in the mid 70s with acceptable levels of humidity. You can't really ask for much more.

However, the valediction presented by Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind on Saturday night was probably the stronger oratorical effort.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Detroit Block City

I tend to get a little carried away when it comes to talking sports, so I'll try to keep this short. The Detroit Pistons asserted their dominance in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat winning 90-81.

My Pistons are going to beat the Heat and win this series for three reasons:

1. Defense: It's a cliche because it's true. Defense does win championships. The Pistons have the best defense in the NBA and the Heat haven't faced one in the same universe as the Pistons' through the first two rounds. Dwayne Wade was a monster in Rounds 1 and 2 but got manhandled last night. He'll play better in Game 2, but it won't be enough over the course of the series.

2. Experience: The Pistons are the defending champs. They have been there, done that. Even the guys who are new to the team this year have some experience winning. Antonio McDyess is a veteran guy who brings scoring and defense off the bench. Carlos Arroyo played with the Puerto Rican Olympic team that impressed many by beating the US in Athens last year. Shaq Daddy might have his rings to inspire the Heat, but aside from him and Alonzo, they are short on playoff experience.

3. Coaching: Stan Van Gundy has done a great job with this team guiding them to the #1 seed in the East this season. But he's no match for Larry Brown who is one of the best in the game. The Heat had almost a week to get ready for the Conference Finals and still couldn't win Game 1. Call it rust or whatever, I say they were flat out-coached.

Game 2 is tomorrow. I think the Heat will bounce back with a win at home, but I'm taking the Bad Boys from Motown in 6.

Conservative Cowardice Strikes Back

Yes, I'm back. Sorry for the extended absence, but i'm sure I wasn't missed too much. I've been itching to get my hands on a computer for several days now, and it feels good to get back in the saddle. It'll be another week or so before I'm back up to full blogging speed, so please bear with me. On to the news of the day

The opportunity was there and yet again the Republicans in Congress folded like a paper napkin. The spineless "centrists" of the Senate, led by Darth Pawn John McCain, have once more favored pomp over principle. While they pat themselves on the back for forging a "compromise," true conservatives cringe at the platform the deal has enabled the minority party to grab and use for the sole purpose of leveling continued attacks on the President. Furthermore, we lay in wait for the inevitable railroading that will occur when the real issue finally takes center stage in the form of a Supreme Court vacancy.

I'm happy for Priscilla Owen, Janice Rodgers-Brown, and William Pryor. They deserve it. Unfortunately, they deserved it on their merits as accomplished officers of the court, not as bargaining chips in a political shell game. A game in which we may soon find out we've been snookered.

This compromise shines a bright light on what is wrong with the Senate. Too many members have been there too long letting their brains and convictions rot away while their skulls get refilled with ideas about procedure and tradition, some of which don't even really exist at all. That is why we need more George Allens in the Senate. George Allen is a principled leader who understands what is right for the country and he doesn't care if he rocks the Senate's comfortable traditions to achieve it. "That's just the way things are done here" is not a valid justification for conjured-up rules that distort the Constitutional duties of our elected representatives.

Conservatives should be very disappointed today. Very soon Democrats will label a Bush Supreme Court nominee as "extreme" and "outside the mainstream of american jurisprudence" simply because that person is conservative. I hope that when the time comes, the Senate Republicans will have the gumption to stand up to such attacks. After this week, that hope is very dim.

Monday, May 23, 2005

John Warner "solves" the crisis he started

In 1987, the Senate started down the road to ideological litmus tests for nominees by choosing not to confirm Robert Bork. Who voted against Mr. Bork? John Warner.

Now, 18 years later, we've come to another impasse. Who brokers the deal to deny seven honorable and competent nominees an up or down vote? John Warner.

Read more at RedState.

Evangelical Assault on the Ivy League

The New York Times had a fascinating frontpage article on Sunday about the Christian Union's attempt to create bastions of evangelical Christianity within the secular world that is the Ivy League. You will find very interesting their analysis of the rise of evangelical strength within upper classes of wealth, where once evangelical was code for lower to lower middle class and Episcopalian was code for upper class. All of those strictures have been turned upside down.

UPDATE
Fixed the link. Sorry.

Jim Gilmore endorses Bob McDonnell

In a move that surprised a lot of people, former AG and Governor Jim Gilmore endorsed Bob McDonnell today.
Gilmore said at a Richmond news conference that he believes McDonnell's experience as a legislator, prosecutor and military officer makes him the best-qualified candidate to lead the state's efforts to combat crime and prepare for another possible terrorist attack.

McDonnell also unveiled his anti-terrorism agenda. At the heart of his plan is making the Office of Commonwealth Preparedness and the Secure Virginia panel permanent. Gilmore created those two groups by executive order shortly after the September eleventh attacks.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

George Allen advertising on Power Line

I just noticed that George Allen is running ads on Power Line. Is that because a disproportionate number of Virginia voters read Power Line? Or is something else going on?

Profiles of all three AG candidates

The Lynchburg News and Advance has two articles today on the AG's race. They first profile Steve Baril and Bob McDonnell, followed by an article on Creigh Deeds.

The Republican article includes Mr. Baril's four planks of 1) 100 state troopers, 2) changes to Virginia's sentencing guidelines, 3) increase in drug courts and 4) faith-based drug rehabilitation.

The article also profiles Del. McDonnell's plan to crack down on sexual predators and mid-level drug dealers.

There was one interesting item that I hadn't seen before, and I assume that it's a new release.
Further, a letter written by the co-chairmen of the Governor’s Commission on Parole Abolition and Sentencing Reform to McDonnell, calls Baril’s criticism of Virginia’s sentencing reform policy misguided.

The policy, part of Gov. George Allen’s “truth-in-sentencing” initiative, has been in place since the mid-1990s and seeks to ensure violent felons serve the full term of their sentence.

“It is regrettably common for politicians who have no experience in criminal justice matters to offer superficial criticisms and recommendations,” the letter, written by commission co-chairmen William Barr and Richard Cullen, states.

Baril dismissed the letter as political propaganda designed to discredit his proposal.

His plan offers “very specific changes to restore the criminal sentencing guidelines to keep people safe, not to dismantle the vision of George Allen,” Baril said. “It’s clear that these guys haven’t read my plan.”
I assume that's the same William Barr that served as US AG under Bush41. If so, a letter from him and from former Virginia AG Richard Cullen carries some weight.

The article on Deeds covers his plan to create a 21st century crime division and to strengthen penalties for crystal meth labs.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

RGA stakes a position - does it affect the downticket choice?

Both Jim Bacon and Norm Leahy (subbing for JB), have carefully dissected the new Republican Governor's Association ad being run on behalf of Jerry Kilgore. You can also watch the ad here.

The gist of it is that Tim Kaine is falsely claiming to have cut taxes as Richmond mayor. In reality, home assessments far outpaced the cuts, so taxes increased.

As everyone knows, this same argument has been a focal point of the Lt. Governor's race. Sean Connaughton drastically cut property tax rates as PW Chair (by $.45/$100 value) and is campaigning as a tax cutter. At the same time, assessments outpaced the cuts, so people's actual tax bills increased.

I've listened carefully to both sides of the argument in the LG's race, and both points of view have merit. It's clear, though, which side of the argument RGA is taking.

And if the RGA is staking out this territory in the Governor's race, how will Mr. Connaughton be able to use it in the LG's race? He can't very well argue that he was a tax cutter at the same time that RGA is running these ads against Tim Kaine. Conversely, if Tim Kaine is attacked on this point, can't he just say "Well, your LG running mate did exactly the same thing in Prince William."?

Perhaps the strategy is to run the ads now, and keep running them if Sen. Bolling is the nominee. If Mr. Connaughton wins the nomination, then other ads will be developed.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Echoes of the Republican Revolution?

Here is a fascinating article comparing the current political situation to that of the pre-1994 political atmosphere that prepared the way for the Republican Revolution. Though I disagree with them in general and realize it's a politically motivated piece (i.e. wishful thinking on the part of the Left), the comparisons are interesting to look at. Steven Thomma writes:
Now, as then with the other party, Republicans' ethics are under assault. Their opposition denounces their vicelike control as "arrogant." Their ambitious agenda risks overreach and public backlash. Their popularity is sinking. A unified opposition party is holding off until closer to the next election before offering its own agenda - thus withholding any good target for counterattack.
The difference here is that the Republicans' so-called ethics questions have largely been manufactured by the DNC and the media aligned with it, whereas there were legitimate ethics scandals in the early 1990s that helped to bring the 40 year Democratic reign in the House of Representatives to an end. Additionally, the Republican seats in both the House and Senate are largely safe because of massive gerrymandering (whether or not right) and the fact that their Senate seats are mostly in red states.

James Blubaugh named as Todd Gilbert's opponent

The Northern Virginia Daily has an article about Todd Gilbert's opponent in the 15th HoD District. (This is Allen Louderback's old district).
WOODSTOCK — The 15th District Democratic Party unanimously nominated James Blubaugh as its candidate to battle for the region's open seat in the Virginia House of Delegates on Wednesday night.
The Shenandoah Daily Herald adds this:
Blubaugh was the assistant inspector general at the U.S. Department of State and the deputy chairman of intelligence tasking at the CIA. He and his wife, Elizabeth, currently run a small business from their home in Washington, Va.

Elizabeth Blubaugh is a former Rappahannock County school teacher and is currently on the Lord Fairfax Community College foundation board. They have three children.

“And best of all,” said Lowerre, “he’s not a lawyer.” That may have been self depreciating (Lowerre was an attorney) or a dig at Blubaugh’s opponent, Todd Gilbert, who is an assistant commonwealth’s attorney.
There may be some traction associated with campaigning against a lawyer, but I don't think that a retired career bureaucrat is the one to lead the charge. Now that the slate is set, former ODBA member Craig Orndorff an get to work over at Gilbert For Delegate. It's a very good campaign blog. Be sure to check it out for current information.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Kaine jobs plan gets weak reception

It doesn't sound like the AP was that impressed with Tim Kaine's jobs plan:
Democrat Tim Kaine offered an economic package Thursday as notable for what was done under Gov. Mark R. Warner as for what Kaine wants to do if he succeeds Warner.

At least three of Kaine's six vaguely sketched ideas continue reforms Warner began. Another _ staggering the state's fiscal timetable to give governors more budgetary involvement _ mirrors a bill offered this year by a conservative Senate Republican.
Here as SST, we love Sen. Cuccinelli as much as the next conservative, but come on Tim! People are going to think you are pretending to be a conservative if you steal too many of Ken's ideas. Shifting the budget year into an election year would make the GA more accountable to the public. That means that the 2004 tax increase wouldn't have happened. I'm surprised that the Lt. Governor supports such a shift, given his strong preference for new taxes.
Sorry. I meant to say "budget reform" and "investments."
"We did general fund budget reform in 2004 and I do not believe there is any circumstance I can foresee that the Legislature is going to get back into general fund budget reform," Kaine said.

"We're going to have to live within our means. We had our shot at it in '04. It was hell to get there by a one-vote margin after 117 days and we've done the ... budget reform that we're going to do for the foreseeable future," Kaine said.
I disagree that the GA can't pursue budget reform. I think that a majority of legislators would be entirely willing to pursue a revenue-neutral budget reform. The problem, of course, is that budget reform is only a euphemism when uttered by those on the left.

North Carolina proposes package for NASCAR HoF

Proving once again that anything in the blogosphere can be connected to anything else, North Carolina has proposed a tax and incentive package. This happens on the same day that Bacon's Rebellion is hosting a conversation on economic development incentives.
North Carolina's bid to house a NASCAR hall of fame got a boost Thursday when the Senate tentatively approved a temporary 2 percent increase on Charlotte-area hotel rooms to help fund construction of the museum.

Charlotte is one of a number of cities, including Richmond, Va., that want to host the hall, which could bring 400,000 to 500,000 visitors to the state annually. All must make their proposals to NASCAR by May 31.
...
The bill allows the higher hotel tax to be in place as long as the city carries debt incurred by museum construction. But another safeguard, added by amendment on the Senate floor, would allow the city to refinance the debt for no more than 30 years.

While the Charlotte-area hotel industry supports the tax, the North Carolina Travel and Tourism Coalition and the state Hotel and Lodging Association do not.
North Carolina has indicated a willingness to ignore economic realities when bidding on major development deals. Witness, for example, their ridiculous $242 million bid for a Dell plant. While a hotel tax isn't quite the same as funds expended from general revenue, the principal is the same.

As Jim Bacon points out, these incentives create a classic prisoner's dilemna. Every state would be better off if these packages weren't offered. Once they are offered, however, every state must fall in line or risk losing out on plants and museums.

The recent detailed proposal doesn't explain exactly how the Richmond Hall would be funded. Nor does the official Richmond webpage.

I want the NASCAR HoF in Richmond as much as the next guy. I just don't want it to be a net loser.

The Race to Replace Chap Peterson in the 37th

The Republican primary race in the 37th to put up a candidate in Chap Peterson's old house district has become rather controversial as of late. Jim Kaplan, a recent addition to the race, has been endorsed by Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, whose Senate district engulfs most of the house district represented by Chap Peterson until he resigned to run for the Democratic LG nomination. Kaplan was recently informed by the campaign manager of John Mason, his primary opponent, that Mason had been endorsed by Rep. Tom Davis, the husband of Devolites. Word is that Davis and Devolites don't always endorse the same candidates and that they both have a friendship with Mason, but it was still surprising. After several phone calls were made, it was discovered that Davis has NOT endorsed Mason and that he needs to explain why he claimed Davis's endorsement.

What is perhaps even more questionable is that Mason apparently made a donation to the Tim Kaine for Governor campaign in 2003. It is outlined here by VPAP. Although it is admittedly a small donation, either Mason did not realize he was at a Democratic fundraiser which is obviously ridiculous and would invalidate his campaign in and of itself, or more likely he is trying to position himself to gain some Democratic support in the general campaign should he win the GOP primary.

TV and radio advertising

Bill Bolling announced a new radio and TV ad today. You can watch both the TV ad, Conservative and the radio ad, Experience , by clicking on the ad name. I've already heard the radio ad on Rush Limbaugh.

Sean Connaughton has already released a TV ad (watch it here).

Bob McDonnell also has a TV ad. (McDonnell TV Ad).

Steve Baril has not yet released a TV ad, but judging from the mailers filling my mailbox, his media guys aren't letting any moss grow under their feet.

Also, I've seen the Kilgore Education Ad three times, and only seen the Kaine Houses Ad once.

Spotlight on Kentucky Basketball

Pat Forde's article on race and Kentucky basketball tradition is an excellent story of the progress and sometimes the lack thereof of racial views in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. As somone who's parents and grandfather went to the three schools in Kentucky known for their basketball tradition, UK, WKU, and U of L, this article is especially interesting. It's good to see a black coach at UK after not even allowing a black scholarship player on the basketball team until 1970. That doesn't mean I think Tubby Smith is actually a good coach though! The man cannot recruit!

Peter DeFur to talk gun control in run against Bill Janis

Democratic candidate Peter DeFur made it official yesterday at a press conference in Louisa.
An environmental scientist who teaches part-time at Virginia Commonwealth University, the candidate is challenging Del. Bill Janis, R-Short Pump, in the Nov. 8 election.

“I will bring a voice of reason to state government in representing the citizens of Louisa, Goochland and western Henrico,” deFur said from the steps of the Louisa County Courthouse.

“I hold a deep respect and love for freedom, reason, tolerance and justice in our government and in our society,” he said. “These are the values that will shape my perspectives as I go forward.”
And how would Mr. DeFur be any different than Del. Janis?
“My voting record would be different,” deFur said. “I don’t think I would have supported a number of the measures that he did regarding gun control.” He said his record on firearms would be one to promote safety and security in schools and public buildings.
That's the ticket. All of those folks out in Goochland and Louisa have been clammering for some commonsense gun control, and Mr. DeFur is the person to give it to them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

More on the President's visit to New Kent

On Friday, I mentioned President Bush's visit to rural New Kent county.
It got major press coverage in New York Times, LA Times, Times-Dispatch, WaPo and every other major paper around.

The Daily Press story was typical.
President Bush turned the national spotlight on New Kent County on Monday, saluting a little-known business and the humble soybean as examples of how Americans can win their energy independence.

"Our dependence on foreign oil is like a foreign tax on the American dream," he told about 450 people at the Virginia BioDiesel Refinery. "And that tax is growing every year."

The president's visit, which had set neighbors abuzz for days, occurred as he urges the Senate to pass his energy bill and as most gas prices hover above $2 a gallon near the start of summer vacation season.

The president's motorcade arrived at the refinery ahead of schedule Monday morning. The invitation-only crowd of Republican Party backers, operatives and elected officials waited under a bright sun as Bush toured the plant.
The technology sounds very cool, but I'm sure it was a thrill just to have the president visit the area.

Here are some photos sent to SST:

Bush2

Bush3

Allen1

As always, remember to send us your photos from Virginia political and sporting events.

Absentee Ballots for June 14th

By way of the Baril campaign, we get some good information about absentee ballots. A friend has told me that Mr. Baril is reminding people to obtain absentee ballots if they will be out of town on primary day.
You can either fill-out an application at the Registrar's Office (go to SBE to find your nearest office), or go to Absentee application to print-out the Application and mail or fax it to your local registrar's office, which you can find at SBE directory
This is a good public service and we are glad to pass it on. Remember, in the 1997 primary, only 168,671 people voted. Your vote WILL count.

UPDATE
I had to edit the .htm titles to make them fit in my template. The links are the same.

Judicial debate on C-SPAN2

I'm eating lunch at my desk so I can watch the judicial debate on C-SPAN2.

George Allen is giving his floor speech now. The interesting sub-battle here is between Sen. Frist and Sen. Allen (and maybe a few more). Both are fighting to identify themselves with the views of 2008 primary voters.

I like the strategy of choosing Judge Owen and Judge Rogers Brown as the test nominees.

UPDATE
Diane Feinstein just mentioned Strom Thurmond's epic filibuster as an example of a minority viewpoint protecting itself through filibuster. However, she didn't mention exactly what it was he was filibustering. Wonder why?

Senate offers money for enactment of state seat belt laws

Yesterday, the US Senate turned back efforts to strip seat belt language from its omnibus transportation bill.
On a 86-14 vote, the Senate rejected an amendment to a $295 billion highway bill that would have stripped from the bill a provision giving federal incentives to states with primary seat belt laws.

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws that permit police to pull over drivers not using their seat belts. Another 28 states have secondary laws under which police can ticket drivers for seat belt violations only after they stop them for a different violation. New Hampshire has neither primary nor secondary enforcement laws.
Virginia, of course, does not currently have a primary seat belt law. A LEO must pull over the driver for some other infraction before he can write a seat belt ticket. Governor Warner's push to pass a primary law was one of the first embarrassments of his tenure. He thought that he had the votes in the HoD, only to have it defeated at the last moment.

Sen. George Allen tried to strip the language with an opposing amendment.
But Sen. George Allen, R-Va., who offered the opposing amendment, said states should be allowed to come up with their own plans for increasing seat belt use without having to abide by a federally imposed formula.

"This brand of nanny government precludes American adults from making basic decisions for themselves," Allen said in introducing his amendment last week.

Allen proposed providing the federal financial incentive to states that achieve an 85 percent safety belt use rate. He noted that the House version of the highway bill, which passed in March, has a similar approach.
Should the seat belt language survive the legislative process, it will be interesting to watch the General Assembly's actions. Will their principled stance on seat belt laws continue, of will the lure of federal dollars be too much to resist?

Richmond Crusade for Voters endorses Leslie Byrne

In a surprising snub to local candidate Viola Baskerville, the Richmond Crusade for Voters has endorsed Leslie Byrne in the Democratic Lt. Governor's race.

The Crusade is Richmond's largest minority group designed to increase "effective black participation in Richmond's political process."

Del. Baskerville is counting on large voter turnout in her home base of Richmond. This endorsement carries significant weight among Richmond Democrats, and could hurt Baskerville in an area where she needs to win big. At the same time, I'm glad to see the Crusade prove wrong those who argue that minorities should always support minority candidates.

As a Republican, I would be happy to see either Ms. Baskerville or Ms. Byrne as the Democratic nominee.

The Crusade stayed close to home in the Republican primary, endorsing Steve Baril, Bill Bolling, and Jerry Kilgore. I'm not sure how many Crusade voters will be voting in the Republican primary.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Rumors of Our Demise

....are greatly exaggerated. This is a transition time for all three of us right now and we apologize for the absence of posts for the last few days. We will soon be back in the swing of things. Currently, however, we are scattered around on various trips, islands, lakes, and are distracted from the Virginia political scene that sometimes seems to consume our lives. Contrary to popular belief, we do have lives other than reading newspaper clippings and receiving anonymous email tips from campaigns who want to feed us with information.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Connaughton-Bolling turns ugly

It appears my worries about reliving 1997 are coming to fruition.

Yesterday, the Washington Examiner ran an editorial on Bill Bolling's employment by Reciprocal of America. ROA was placed in receivership in 2003, and several executives were charged with fraud. The article is on page 18 of Thursday's DC Examiner (warning: 8 meg file), and was written by Barbara F. Hollingsworth, the Examiner’s Local Opinion Editor. Here's the summary paragraph:
What the senator from Mitchellville didn’t say was that his record includes 21 years at The Reciprocal Group, which, according to the Insurance Journal, served as the “attorney-in-fact” for Reciprocal of America — a Glen Allen-based insurance company whose executives were found guilty of Enron-like fraud and whose reverberations hit Wall Street and helped topple AIG Chairman Maurice Greenberg.

Bolling, who plans to appear with former Gov. Jim Gilmore at a fundraiser at South Lakes Recreation Center in Dumfries on May 17, so far has not been implicated in any of the criminal or civil cases now pending against Reciprocal.
Well, Senator Bolling is from Mechanicsville, not Mitchellsvile, but who's counting? The article goes on to lay out some serious allegations, including questions about the extent of Sen. Bolling's knowledge, level of responsibility and salary.

Sen. Bolling, of course, fired back in an email today:
Now, Connaughton has resorted to desperate measures. He is using deception, distortion and dishonesty to attack my personal character, integrity and professional business reputation.

For months now the Connaughton campaign has tried to get a reputable newspaper to write an article criticizing my prior business relationship with Reciprocal of America. (ROA) ROA was a Richmond based medical malpractice insurance company that was placed into receivership by the Bureau of Insurance in 2002.

Following ROA’s demise, civil suits were filed against some of the company’s executive officers and some of these officers were indicted for insurance fraud. No one was more surprised, disappointed or angered by the company’s failure than I was.
The email, and accompanying letter to the DC Examiner, go on to rebutt the Op/Eds main points.

I don't know whether this is good for Connaughton. As a general rule, this sort of thing can go a long way to influencing undecided voters. On the other hand, it may be breaking TOO soon. There's plenty of time for Sen. Bolling to tell his side of the story, and I'm sure that he will be doing so in the next week. If the Connaughton campaign had a role in breaking it, as Sen. Bolling says, then it was broken too early, and I'm not sure why they would have done so. I would know a lot more if I could see each campaign's internal polling, but I don't think that will happen anytime soon.

There is one definite loser - RPV. June 15th can't get here soon enough.

Democratic GA candidate arrested in Charlottesville

This one has flown below the radar for almost a week now. Democratic candidate Rich Collins was arrested last Saturday for refusing to leave the shopping center where he was campaigning.

Interestingly, the Daily Progress didn't actually run a story on the arrest. The first news of it was in an editorial today.
Mr. Collins, an environmental mediator and professor nearing retirement at the University of Virginia’s architecture school, was given plenty of opportunity to leave the Shoppers World shopping center parking lot after he was asked to leave while campaigning there Saturday.

He chose not to leave. He chose to get arrested and go to court.

Many factors may have influenced Mr. Collins as he stood and spoke for about an hour with police and Charles T. Lebo, the property manager for the Albemarle County shopping center, who had asked him to leave.
Prof. Collins is the choice of Waldo. I know he's got a lot going on right now, but I'd be curious to hear his opinon.

UPDATE
I googled it a bit more, and found this post by George Loper. Also, there's this bit written by Mr. Collins, the day after he was asked to leave Shopper's World. He doesn't mention his personal situation, only discusses the right to campaign at shopping centers in a general sense.

It's hard to say how this will affect the primary. I suspect that there's very little behavior that could convince the 57th not to support the Democratic nominee. So if it resonates with the Democratic primary voters, then it's good politics.

Fort Monroe Targeted for Closure

Today the Pentagon released the findings of its BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) study that proposes to shut down 180 military installations across the country, including 33 major bases. As we noted before, Virginia is home to over 100 military installations and has not been affected much by past rounds of base closures. While only one base will be affected in the Commonwealth, it is a major one.

According to the Virginian-Pilot, Fort Monroe is home to over 4,000 employees both military and civilian. The Fort dates back to the 1800s and is home to the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).

All in all, Virginia actually makes out quite well and several bases such as Fort Belvoir, Fort Lee and the Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth will actually grow in population as a result of other bases closing. Virginia will likely lose about 1500 military jobs total, but Hampton Roads will gain over 5,000 jobs according to the Virginian-Pilot.

As expected, a number of Congressmen and Senators are already screaming bloody murder over the Defense Department's effort to cut costs and boost the efficiency of the armed services. Expect there to be much wrangling over the changes on Capitol Hill, but for the final result to be quite similar to the current proposal.

No story on GMA

There was, after all, no story on Good Morning America this morning. Perhaps it got bumped for the story on Nicole Ritchie's weight loss, or for the story about the world's largest Funyuns.

I'm reminded again of why I dislike the morning shows.

UPDATE
Watch again this weekend or Monday. If nothing serious happens, like discovery of another large snack food or a celebrity break-up, we should get to see the story.

President Bush to visit New Kent County

The town of West Point and its neighboring county of New Kent have been buzzing over rumors of a Presidential visit.
While the Richmond stock car race will be the highlight of his weekend, Wagoner anticipates even more excitement Monday when President Bush visits the Virginia BioDiesel refinery in Eltham to promote his energy plan and renewable fuels.

"I think it's a good thing he's coming to talk about the fuel plant," Wagoner said. "Anything we can do to drop the fuel prices down, we definitely need. I think it would be a big plus for the county."

Eltham is a one-stoplight village along state Route 33 across the Pamunkey River from West Point. Small, post-World War II houses with tidy lawns line the road alongside three car dealerships, a motel and a restaurant. The refinery is tucked inside an industrial park about a mile from the village center.

County officials and congressmen are among the 300 expected to visit the refinery Monday at about 10 a.m.
Biodiesel is manufactured using soybeans as the base material. While it will never be a substitute for crude, it has the potential to supplement oil supply with an environmentally friendly alternative. UVA is testing two buses powered by biodiesel.

Also, anytime the President comes to a rural area, it's a big deal.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Judicial Activism Gets Local Treatment

There's an interesting dust-up going on in Floyd County over a Commonwealth's Attorney's position. The current CA Gordon Hannett, an Army Reservist, has been activated and is being sent to Iraq. Hannett hired an attorney to try cases in his absence, but a Circuit Court Judge has taken it upon himself to replace Hannett with a different attorney. Sitting Attorney General Judy Jagdmann has issued an opinion siding with Hannett.

The State Supreme Court will be ruling on the issue soon. I'm sure that'll be interesting, but I really want to hear John Behan's take on the issue.

For Sale: Former Mayor ISO Constituency

Here's what passes for news in the Roanoke Times these days. Apparently former Roanoke Mayor Ralph Smith is having a yard sale to clear his former Mill Mountain home of the stuff he collected while living in Roanoke for many years.

As you may remember, Smith moved out to Botetourt County in anticipation of Lacey Putney's retirement, only to have Putney decide he wanted to return to Richmond. Now that Smith has sold his home in Roanoke, he'll have to stay put in Botetourt and hope his new neighbors eventually warm up to him.

Star-Exponent Interview with Ed Scott

The Culpeper Star-Exponent has an interview with Del. Ed Scott (R-30), who is facing a primary challenge from Rev. Mark Jarvis.

The interview focuses on religion, which isn't really that surprising given the background of Del. Scott's opponent. The weirdest question, though, is the final one.
Q: Imagine Jesus is a member of the House of Delegates. On which of the following issues do you think he would most likely be at odds with the conservative Republicans there: banning gay marriage, protecting the right to bear arms or pledging no new taxes?

A: Serving as a member of the House of Delegates is a high honor, but humility will not allow me to pretend that I can speak for Jesus regarding what his views would be on issues before the General Assembly. Suffice it to say that his influence would be tremendously positive and welcomed by members of all parties and ideologies.
Good answer.

GMA to air segment on Governor's race

Per a press release from the Kilgore campaign, a piece on the Virginia governor's race will run on the ABC morning show Good Morning America. The piece will air tomorrow (Friday) in the 7:00-7:30 time slot.

I'm guessing the accent dust-up will be a focal point of the story. We'll be curious to see if the defunct "Jerry the Duck" webpage gets mentioned.

A look back at the 1997 AG's race

The primary races are starting to heat up, and there was more sparring yesterday betweeen Bob McDonnell and Steve Baril. (AP and Times-Dispatch). I'm like JB - the primary fights make me antsy and I'll be glad when June 15th gets here.

I thought it would be worthwhile to put things in perspective. Virginia Republicans haven't had a statewide primary fight in eight years. Here's a summary of the highlights, or lowlights, from 1997. The AG's race that year featured Ken Stolle, Mark Earley, Gil Davis, and Jerry Kilgore. The Lt. Gov's nomination race started out competitive, but Coleman Andrews and Jay Katzen bowed out near the end. John Hager won the nomination.
  • The signature item of the campaign is a videotape of Gil Davis. The video shows him, drink in hand, chatting with a woman in a hotel room. At one point, Gil Davis makes a reference to the woman's desire to pose for Playboy magazine. Davis laments that he can not defend himself because the woman is a current client. Gil Davis later explains that he was actually telling the woman not to pose in Playboy, and that he often has drinks in hotel rooms with clients. Davis tries to get the other campaigns to promise not to use the video - they decline. When Gil Davis wins the Paula Jones Supreme Court decision, he shoots to the top of the polls. Ken Stolle incorporates video footage of Gil Davis into an ad. The impact ends Davis' hopes. The fallout is viewed as also ending Ken Stolle's chances.
  • Jerry Kilgore and Ken Stolle spar on crime. Kilgore criticizes Stolle for pushing legislation that would allow casual drug offenders to undergo rehabilitation rather than being jailed. Stolle then runs ads saying that Kilgore said Stolle was soft on crime. Kilgore then demands that Stolle apologize for saying that he said something that he didn't say. Kilgore said he never used the phrase "soft on crime."
  • Jerry Kilgore gets major press coverage for crashing Don Beyer's kickoff in Abingdon. Kilgore releases a number of quotes from Don Beyer in which he appears to disparage Southwest Virginia. One quote says that Southwest residents lacked "the education, the self-esteem or the chutzpah" to run businesses.
  • A number of state newspapers dust off their quadrennial editorials on how the AG really isn't the top cop.
  • Gil Davis and Jerry Kilgore announce that they plan to put their stock portfolio in a blind trust, while Mark Earley delivers the one-liner of the campaign, "A family of eight doesn't leave much to play the stock market."
  • Shad Planking. Jerry Kilgore serves MGD. Stolle wins the sign wars. Mark Earley offers moist towels.
  • Ken Stolle faces challenges about embellishing his academic pedigree. He had previously claimed that he had a criminology degree. He clarifies that it was actually in interdisciplinary studies, but that he took enough criminology to call it his major.
  • The candidates spar over the lottery, with strong social conservative Mark Earley supporting repeal. Jerry Kilgore supports repeal if the state does not keep its promise to fund education with the money. Ken Stolle and Gil Davis do not favor repeal..
  • The candidates spar over one-handgun-a-month, with Gil Davis and Jerry Kilgore favoring repeal. Mark Earley and Ken Stolle do not favor repeal.
  • An anonymous flier is circulated in Southwest Virginia that is critical of Jerry Kilgore. The flier has Mark Earley's name on it, but the Earley campaign disavows any responsibility for the ad. The Kilgore campaign accepts Earley's denial, and the SBE launches an investigation.
  • The National Right to Work Committee calls a press conference to criticize Mark Earley for his strong union relationships. Earley crashes the press conference and calls the assertions a gross distortion of his position.
  • Stolle takes some serious heat from Earley for a Stolle ad that implies that Earley favors decriminalizing marijuana. Earley calls it "deceptive campaigning" and "absolutely abhorrent."
  • Stolle complains that a Christian Coalition guide ballot inaccurately depicts his stances on taxes and gambling. The guide is viewed as giving Earley a leg up with his conservative base.
Conclusion: 168,671 people go to the polls. Mark Earley pulls in 35.8%, while Jerry Kilgore finishes a surprising second with 24.6%. Ken Stolle finishes with 20.8% and Gil Davis gets 18.8%.

It's worth noting that about 50% of this stuff took place before May 10, 1997, and about 50% took place afterwards. We are well off this pace, which could mean two things. Either the campaigns will remain relatively civil, or the four down-ticket candidates will be making up for lost time in the next 4.5 weeks.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Tim Kaine abandons website making fun of Jerry Kilgore's accent

I'm finally back in the saddle, and I hope to bring my posting up to speed in the next few days.

While I've been gone, the fallout over Tim Kaine's cheap shots has gone nukular. The WaPo was on the story Monday, and Bob Lewis' AP story was picked up by the Chicago Sun-Times, Seattle Times and ABC News.

I'm willing to give the Kaine campaign the benefit of the doubt here. If this is just about debating, then why have they abandoned their snarky webpage? The whole thing was designed to make fun of Mr. Kilgore during his "10 Weeks of Honest Reform" campaign. By my count, we are in the seventh week of the announcements:
  • Week 1: The Nation's Best Teachers Initiative: The "3 R's" - Recruit, Retain & Reward
  • Week 2: Bolstering Our Commitment to Technology and Growth: Virginia Advanced Research Alliance
  • Week 3: Safe From Harm: Furthering the Goal of Eliminating Domestic Violence
  • Week 4: Open, Ethical Government: Promoting Transparency and Electoral Reform
  • Week 5: Transportation for the 21st Century: Keeping People and Commerce Moving
  • Week 6: Accountability in State Government: Establishing an Advocate and Watchdog for the Taxpayers
  • Week 7: Leading for the People: Trusting the People on Taxes
So why is Kaine campaign's hit webpage holding at week three? We are supposed to "Stay tuned for more episodes of "Ten Weeks of Dishonest Reform" starring Jerry the Duck..."

I'm tuned. It's not about the accent, after all - it's about the debates.

My first dog training spam

Things have gotten a little serious in the Virginia blogosphere lately, so I'm delighted to present the spam that appeared in my inbox today. I've received spam for Viiagrea, brand-name softwear, super low mortgages, and Nigerian money launderers. But this was my first dog training spam.
If you're not using the right dog training techniques, you're probably wasting hundreds of hours per year. Not to mention missing out on some of the joys of owning a well trained dog. Imagine being able to take your dog to Starbuck's Coffee and place him in a "down-stay" while you go in and have a cup of java. And know that he'll still be there when you come back! You can easily reduce your training time by more than 60%, and still achieve maximum results. Here's a small sample of some time-saving secrets you'll learn for your everyday training...
I'm actually thinking about clicking for more info.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

George Allen Fights for Our Judges

This weekend, George Allen stayed on the offensive against Democrats obstuctionist tactics in the US Senate. A while back, we noted Allen's editorial in the Washington Times calling for Republicans to execute the Constitutional option and allow President Bush's nominees to have a vote on the floor of the Senate.

On Saturday, Senator Allen delivered the Commencement address at Regent University. In his remarks, he referenced the judiciary thusly:
Allen cited as the cornerstone of freedom four tenets of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the precursor to the Bill of Rights: freedom of religion, freedom of expression, private ownership of property and the rule of law.

Referring to the last, Allen said it was important to have “judges who apply the law, not invent the law.”
On Sunday, Allen took the battle to Fox News Sunday where he faced off against fellow Senator "Chuckles" Schumer. Despite the New Yorker's best efforts to put words in his mouth, Allen continued to rail against the Democrats efforts to hamstring our court system by denying President Bush's nominees an up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate.

Finally, on a related note, Hugh Hewitt wrote back in February that potential Supreme Court nomination proceedings could give Senator Allen a golden opportunity for national exposure, given that several of the possible successors to the highest court in the land hail from the Old Dominion. Further, it would be a strong signal to the Republican base that Senator Allen is someone who will fight for the causes they care most about. Given Allen's efforts so far, I'd say Mr. Hewitt is right on the money.

VCAP endorses Bob McDonnell

The Virginia Conservative Action PAC has endorsed Del. Bob McDonnell in the Republican AG primary.

VCAP is quick out of the blocks. In an ad released today, they argue, "[Del. McDonnell's] opponent, Steve Baril, has no experience as a prosecutor. Baril’s own Web site says his law practice is quote ‘devoted primarily to business and commercial litigation.’ Do we really want a commercial litigator who’s never served as a prosecutor or elected official to serve as Virginia’s top cop?"

I think the VCAP endorsement and ad represent another step in the cat and mouse game played out between VCAP and their alter ego, Leadership for Virginia. LFV is a PAC formed last year to elect Democrats and moderate Republicans. LFV's first big donation was $50K into Democrat Paula Miller's campaign fund in her race for Thelma Drake's old seat. She defeated Michael Ball last fall by 97 votes, a loss for the Republicans in the HoD.

The LFV supporters, by and large, are upset with the House of Delegates' resistance to new taxes in 2004, and are looking to move Virginia Republicans towards the tax side of the political spectrum. Others would argue that LFV exists mainly to counterbalance any effect that VCAP could play in primary races or general elections. (I'm pretty sure that VCAP announced its major push first, but I could be wrong).

So why is VCAP picking a dog in the AG's race? Most likely because several of Steve Baril's prominent supporters are also donors/founders of LFV. For example, Developer Til Hazel has given $26,500 to Steve Baril, and $50K to LFV. Supermarket magnate Jim Ukrop has given $7500 to Steve Baril, and $50K to LFV. Plumbing baron Lloyd Noland has given $5K to Steve Baril, and $25K to LFV. Universal Tobacco execs Henry Harrell and Allen King have given $17K to Steve Baril and $25K to LFV.

To be fair to Mr. Baril, he's publicly disavowed the 2004 tax increase. Additionally, VCAP's luster has been dimmed by the problems surrounding Steve Chapman's run. Look at the donations, though, to see what the moneymen think, and don't think, about which candidates reflect their values and priorities.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

All Allen, All the Time

That's what it feels like around here anyway. Seriously though, I have a few more George Allen related items to share that I found interesting. One of the major knocks against Allen is his lack of foreign policy credentials. Though he has served at every level of government, some argue that Allen has never shown a grasp or an interest in foreign policy issues. Allen staffers that I know dispute these charges and point to his seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as evidence of his commitment to foreign policy.

Secondly, is this very interesting Free Republic article regarding Allen's recent trip to Iraq. In it, Allen displays a solid understanding of the issues that we face there and a commitment to the so-called Bush Doctrine.

Finally, I found that the wingnuts over at Daily Kos are already working themselves into a frenzy trying to cut down any Republican nominees before they can take root for 2008. The best part about their discussion of Allen is how ridiculous some of the statements are. Like this one for example:
Of course, the state GOP would like to clone John Warner and run him forever, but thankfully cloning is illegal here, hehe.
or maybe this rationalization:
Allen only got ran for governorf because in redistricting he was thrwon into a district with Frank Wolk who had seniority, and was told by the party eledes who could not mount a primary challenge.
Yikes, I don't even know where to begin with that one, except to say that it was Tom Bliley, not Frank Wolf. Funny, funny stuff.

Oh, well. More to come soon, I am sure.

UPDATE: Some more Allen searching revealed this commentary Senator Allen wrote for the National Review last month defending John Bolton's nomination to the UN. Makes for a good read.

A Mother's Day Message from Mr. T

In honor of Mother's Day, I felt it only fitting that we should take some advice from the King of 80's Public Service Announcements himself, Lawrence Tureaud aka Mr. T.

So pity the fool, and treat your mother right, suckas.

George Allen '08 Frontrunner?

The George Allen buzz seems to be growing by the minute around here. Today's LA Times proclaims the Virginia Senator as the "dark horse front-runner" based on the National Journal's recent poll of Washington insiders that put Allen ahead of names like McCain and Frist.

Seasoned Allen-watchers will know that Allen is a California native who has drawn some comparisons to his ideological forbearer, Ronald Reagan. The Times also draws some parallels between Allen and the White House's present occupant. I agree that "misunderestimation" by his opponents has been key to Allen's success, just as it has been for President Bush.

The Times notes that numerous other polls have Allen elsewhere in the field of challengers, but that he is near the top in most of them. It also references an article about Allen in New York's Jewish newspaper Forward, with the headline: Dems Turn Up Heat on GOP Frontrunner. That article describes Allen this way:
The tall, handsome senator — son of the late, famed Washington Redskins football coach George Allen — lives in the town of Mount Vernon and cites Thomas Jefferson and Ronald Reagan as his heroes. Genial, staunchly conservative and partisan, Allen gained his seat in 2000 by beating Democratic incumbent Charles Robb 52% to 48%. In a November 2004 address to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Allen called himself a "common-sense Jeffersonian conservative," touted a partnership he had created between Virginia and Israel for economic and cultural exchanges and described the 2004 senatorial playing field in nonstop football metaphors.
Ah yes, those nonstop football metaphors. Lots of people find them annoying, but I'd remind those folks about the beating John Kerry took in Green Bay for calling their stadium "Lambert Field." At least we know Allen won't have that problem.

Our friend John Behan has a couple more Allen items over at Commonwealth Conservative. Also, if you haven't read Mark Coffey's analysis of Allen over at Decision '08 you should check it out. He places Allen's odds at 20-1, tied with John McCain.

That's quite a lot of buzz. My ears are ringing.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Commencing Commencement

Here's a neat article in the Roanoke Times today about one of our soldiers who, while still overseas, will be graduating from Ferrum College today. Apparently, while serving his nation in Afghanistan, he managed to take two classes over the internet that he needed to graduate on time. It's a remarkable story.

The article also mentions that the Commencement speaker at Ferrum will be none other than US Senator John Warner. That got me to thinking about this time of year and the fact that all of Virginia's outstanding colleges and universities are able to draw so many interesting speakers. Here are a few that I know of:

John Warner will also speak at George Mason
George Allen will be speaking at Regent University
Doug Wilder will be speaking at Bridgewater College
Treasury Secretary John Snow will be speaking at JMU
Sean Hannity will be speaking at Liberty University
Tom Wolfe will be speaking at W&L

Bob Gibson reviews Virginia political blogs

Last week, the RT-D wrote a story on Richmond area blogs. Several people, including Norm Leahy and Will Vehres, wondered why any political blogs weren't mentioned.

Today, Bob Gibson tackled that very topic in this story.
If you’re in the mood for a prickly political opinion, a salty suggestion or even a benign or humorous observation, your search need not go much further than Virginia’s great and growing collection of political blogs.
The article mentions Bacon's Rebellion, Commonwealth Conservative, Sic Semper Tyrannis and One Man's Trash on the right. One Man's Trash is called "feisty", which is a publishable version of Jeff Shapiro's opinion of it.

Rick Sincere Thoughts is mentioned as a libertarian blog, while Waldo and Commonwealth Commonsense are mentioned on the left.

So there you are guys. Our very ourown newspaper article on political blogs.

My only additional thought on this topic is that Mr. Gibson mentions that there is not a mix of political outlook on most blogs. That's certainly true of this blog, and I would imagine that it's true of most other blogs. I think the difference, though, is that the web facilites jumping from forum to forum with limited effort. So, while the individual sites in the blogosphere might have a mindset, the total picture is pretty diverse. Waldo and Commonwealth Commonsense are daily reads for me.

Friday, May 06, 2005

This Party Will Last Forever

Amal Dorai, an enterprising student at MIT, is hosting the Time Travelers convention. No need to call it "first annual" or anything like that since you only need one (think about it). The convention will be located at 42:21:36.025°N, 71:05:16.332°W, known in the present day as the East campus Courtyard at MIT. No word on whether Michael J. Fox will be there.

Get all the details here.

ACC Baseball at Fenway?

The Raleigh News & Observer reports today that Fenway Park officials have reportedly offered the use of the stadium for a future ACC Tournament. ACC Commish John Swofford called the idea "intruiging." Boston College will officially join the ACC on July 1 and the Conference will be looking for many opportunities to make the Beantown folks feel welcome in the ACC family.

The 2005 ACC tournament will be May 24-29 in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Right is right, and the Left is wrong

The National Review's Victor Davis Hanson has an interesting article today exploring the recent electoral failures of the Democrats and wondering aloud what it will take for them to get back in power. To paraphrase my Magic 8-Ball: Outlook Not So Good.

I think this really points out the deficiencies in the Dems present approach:
[S]uch easy largess and the cost of caring often translate into contempt for the small businessman, entrepreneur, and salesperson who is supposedly illiberal because he worries that he has less disposable income and is less secure. And when you add in cracks about Wal-Mart, McDonald's, and the "Christian Right" — all the things the more cultured avoid — then the architects of a supposedly populist party seem to be ignorant of their own constituencies.
In other words, the liberal establishment that is found in the "cultured" centres of academia, the media and Hollywood looks down their nose at ordinary folks then wonders why they don't jump on board with their views.

The Democrats are desperately looking for the next Bill Clinton. Fortunately for us, by allowing folks like Al Gore, John Kerry, and Howard Dean to lead the party, they just keep looking in the wrong place.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Steve Chapman's week does not get better

Scott Hirons, 2003 candidate for the Neabsco District Board of Supervisors seat in Prince William, had some interesting things to say on his blog:
In 2003 I was a candidate for office in the magisterial district Steve Chapman was then Chairman of for the Republican Committee. The district, by the way, is in Dale City not Manassas. On his website for his candidacy he proudly acknowledges this role as well as his concurrent role of Chairman of the Prince William Young Republicans during the same period. The functions of both of those roles are to act as a liaison between campaigns and the Republican committee. However Steve saw these roles as an opportunity for personal financial gain.

During a time in which he was expected to participate in volunteer activities, recruit volunteers to assist campaigns and provide leadership as a part of the Republican Committee to campaigns in the district, he conceived a plan to charge campaigns for activities he was expected to be an active volunteer on...
Man. This may be just one more case of piling on, but there are comments to this effect on other blogs. Hiron notes that he has submitted this as a letter to the editor.

I had heard that PW politics was pretty rough, but I had no idea.

Blair looks to hold on in the UK

Exit polling in Britain indicates that Tony Blair will likely hold on to his seat and the Prime Ministership, though with considerable losses for his party. The exit polls, which are notoriously unreliable, suggest that the Labour Party's majority may shrink from 161 seats to 66 seats in the 646 member Parliment. The polls show that the Conservative party may gain 44 seats in the new Parliment. A good showing, but this portion of the article makes me sad:
If the exit poll is correct, Michael Howard's opposition Conservatives, the once mighty party of [Margaret] Thatcher, Benjamin Disraeli and Winston Churchill, face a third consecutive term in the political wilderness.
Lo, how the mighty have fallen.

Big East, ACC settle lawsuit

A number of news outlets have reported that the Big East and ACC conferences have reached a sttlement agreement on the suit that was filed as a result of ongoing conference realignment. Last year, Miami and Virginia Tech left the Big East to join the ACC and will be joined by Boston College this year. The settlement has been reported at about $5 million.

ACC Legal Counsel Erik Albright and Commissioner John Swofford, however, issued terse statements disputing news accounts of the settlement. One of teh most interesting portions of the settlement being reported is this from the Raleigh News & Observer:
The settlement specifies home-and-home series between N.C. State and Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Rutgers, Florida State and West Virginia, and Virginia and Connecticut. Miami will receive an appearance fee of $225,000 for playing at Pittsburgh on Sept. 11, 2010.
Incidentally, Virginia Tech will already play West Virginia next year and has scheduled a home-and-home series with Syracuse for the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

In other ACC news: It looks as though the ACC will be getting a new conference partner for the Gator Bowl. This article indicates that the Gator Bowl will seek to replace the Big East conference with either the Big XII or Big Ten. This move makes sense for the Gator Bowl as three of its biggest draws from the Big East are now in the ACC. The Big East will continue to match up with the Virginia Cavaliers in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, NC.

Coaching Dominoes Continue to Fall

After the University of Virginia introduced former DePaul coach Dave Leitao as their new head coach, the question inevitably became "Who will coach DePaul?" The Blue Demons decided that if they were going to lose a coach to the Commonwealth, they might as well take one, as they did with former Richmond coach Jerry Wainwright.

Now the RTD reports that the U of R Spiders have filled that vacancy with former Air Force coach, Chris Mooney. Mooney played basketball at Princeton under the legendary Pete Carril. Needless, to say Spiders fans had better brush up on the "Princeton Offense" because they'll be seeing a lot of it.

Now, what about Air Force?

Tim Kaine says we are now at war with Eastasia

Tim Kaine was on WLNI in Lynchburg this week, and here's what he said about the government funding of Million Mom March buses.
“The Million Mom March was not my issue. I didn’t go. That’s not my thing. But I did support the citizens who had been through a hard time by having them go up there. But I’ve never done anything to oppose the Second Amendment.”
I know most of you read my post on Tim Kaine's "evolution" on gun control, but this statement takes the cake. Remember, gun control aligned with Mr. Kaine. It practically chose him. It completes him. But somehow, it's not his issue.
...at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally.

There was, of course, no admission that any change had taken place. Merely it became known, with extreme suddenness and everywhere at once, that Eastasia and not Eurasia was the enemy. Winston was taking part in a demonstration in one of the central London squares at the moment when it happened...The speech had been proceeding for perhaps twenty minutes when a messenger hurried on to the platform and a scrap of paper was slipped into the speaker's hand. He unrolled and read it without pausing in his speech. Nothing altered in his voice or manner, or in the content of what he was saying, but suddenly the names were different. Without words said, a wave of understanding rippled through the crowd. Oceania was at war with Eastasia! The next moment there was a tremendous commotion. The banners and posters with which the square was decorated were all wrong! Quite half of them had the wrong faces on them. It was sabotage! The agents of Goldstein had been at work!