The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Friday, December 30, 2005

Rolling Stone profiles "Rahmbo"

This is a fairly interesting Rolling Stone piece on Rahm Emanuel. Apparently he's the inspiration for The West Wing's Josh Lyman (I always figured he was more the Sam Seaborn), but many (including this Virginian) see him as the biggest threat to the GOP majority out there today.

"One thing I agree with Newt about," says Emanuel, "is that he knew you had to look and feel like someone voters could see in that leadership role before they'd put you there. We have to generate that feeling. We have to make people believe that if they give us the goddamn keys to the car, we're not going to hit the tree.


I still think Rolling Stone just drops random swear words into their quotes.

Good Value on a Virginia Education

Tuesday's Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star notes the increasing number of guaranteed admission agreements being secured by the Commonwealth's community colleges for her impressive four year institutions.

Transferring from community colleges has long been a back door into Virginia's traditional institutions of higher education for the best and brightest of students, generally those who have some other problem holding them back, like recent immigrants (including my uncle, who got into William and Mary from NVCC after not being accepted to any four year based upon his scores and credits from his mothercountry) and home schoolers.

I think this is a great thing. Of Rahm Emanuel's rip-off Contract with America agenda, my favorite concept is making post-secondary education as universal in this century as the high school diploma was in the last. I also think that drawing more qualified students into the community colleges of Virginia will have positive influences on the students there who are just pursuing their associate's.

UVA needs to win

With Oklahoma's upset win over Oregon and Georgia Tech's embarassing showing against Utah yesterday, the Big XII now leads the pack for the Bowl Challenge Cup with a record of 3-1. The ACC and Pac-10 are tied with 2-1 records. Wins today by Virginia and Miami, coupled with a South Carolina victory over Missouri would put the ACC ahead of the Big XII.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but "Let's Go Hoos"

Update: Nice win for UVA and the ACC. The Hoos had been 0-4 in games where they trailed at half this year. Great game to go out on for Marques Hagans, Connor Hughes and the ACC's all-time TD leader, Wali Lundy. UVA probably isnt going to be very good next year, so it's nice for them to end on a win. Now, let's go *gag* Miami.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Playoff v. Bowls

The AFP's Chris Graham has this article today defending the status quo in Division I-A college football. The argument here is that a playoff would not generate any more money that the current bowl system does, that it would deprive many teams of an opportunity to play in the post-season and that it would present a huge burden to fans who would be forced to travel to far-off destinations for several consecutive weeks.

I'll admit that I once favored eliminating the bowl system in favor of a true playoff, but I have since changed my mind. Frankly, college football is unique because its season already functions as a playoff, with teams needing to win every game to have a chance to compete for the national title. However, it is a concern that college football continues to use an arbitrary system to decide the champ rather than playing it out on the field.

I feel that the best solution to the dilemma would be an eight team playoff with the following features:
  • 8 teams determined by ranking in the BCS. While the BCS is a very flawed way of choosing the Top 2 teams, it does a better job of distinguishing the worthy from the unworthy when more teams are included. BCS #1-BCS#8 would get bids regardless of conference.
  • First Round games conducted at higher seed's home stadium. This would mean that the Top 4 teams in the nation get rewarded for their efforts. This would reduce the financial strain of a playoff on football fans. It would also protect the integrity of the regular season since one-loss teams, particularly those who decide to schedule too many patsies, could potentially lose the home-field advantage.
  • Semifinal and Final games played at current BCS bowl locations. The championship game would rotate between the Sugar, Rose, Orange and Fiesta bowl as it currently does. The only question would be what to do with the fourth bowl each year. The options could be a consolation game between the two semifinal losers, or simply allowing that 4th bowl to have first pick of the top two non-playoff qualifying teams.
  • Regular Season limited to 11 games. This would ensure that teams could still schedule a couple solid out-of-conference games without having the championship games and playoffs extend the season to a great extent. Only two teams each year would play as many as 15 games, only one more than a possible 14 (12 + Champ game + bowl game) starting next season.
The above system would allow the NCAA Division I-A champion to be determined on the field rather than by the BCS system. It would also protect the integrity of the regular season, while also allowing the bowls to live on. Yes, by only removing 8 of a possible 56 bowl teams, there would still be room for most of the bowl games to continue. Only a few minor bowls would be eliminated and there is no reason that the fans of bowl eligible teams wouldn't continue to support them as they currently do.

If the above system was applied to this year's field, it would look like this:

at #1 USC
#8 Miami

at #4 Ohio State
#5 Oregon

at #3 Penn State
#6 Notre Dame

at #2 Texas
#7 Georgia

Now who wouldn't want to see those games?

The only teams I see with a legitimate beef are Big East Champ West Virginia, whose only loss was to Virginia Tech, and ACC Champ Florida State, who lost four games. Frankly, I believe West Virginia is more deserving than two-loss Notre Dame and the computers agree, placing WVU #9 and ND #10. Unfortunately the human voter bias in favor of Notre Dame gives the Domers the bid. As for FSU, well when you lose to Virginia, Clemson, and NC State, you get what you deserve.

What do you think?

Kaine's Administration Filling Out

With today's expected naming of Viola Baskerville to be the Commonwealth's next State Secretary of Administration, Tim Kaine will have filled more than half of the Cabinet level positions in the new administration.

The filled positions are as follows:

Chief of Staff: William H. Leighty
Sec. of Finance:
Jody M. Wagner
Sec. of Natural Resources: Del. L. Preston Bryant Jr.
Sec. of Technology: Aneesh P. Chopra
Sec. of Health and Human Resources: Marilyn B. Tavenner
Sec. of Public Safety: John W. Marshall
Sec. of Administration: Viola Baskerville

Those posts yet to be filled are:

Sec. of Transportation
Sec. of Education
Sec. of Agriculture and Forestry
Sec. of Commerce and Trade
Assistant to the Governor for Commonwealth Preparedness

Of course there are the rumors about Edd Houck for Secretary of Education, what about the rest of these positions?

(Hat Tip to the RTD)

Stomach Punch

Yesterday's news that Dan River Inc. had been sold to an Indian company came as an unwelcome post-Christmas gift for the company's approximately 1600 employees. The textile company has very deep roots in Danville as its smokestacks have been a fixture of the city's skyline for decades.

As the RTD reports:
It is a bitter moment for a city that once had two kings: textiles and tobacco. The reigns of both are now over in Southside Virginia.
I just drove through Danville a couple of days ago and as I passed the Dan River facility I pondered the tremendous economic, political and social changes that have met this region since its founding. The outsourcing of Dan River is now an all-too-familiar realization of those very changes.

Prognosticating Punditry

The talented writers at the National Review have tapped into their inner Nostradamus' (Nostradami?) and offered their predictions for the upcoming year. Some are serious, most are not, but all are worth the read. Here's a taste:
  • Chelsea Clinton gets engaged.
  • Howard Dean gets enraged.
  • Cindy Sheehan fades.
  • General Motors will be purchased by Google.
  • Howard Dean will not finish 2006 as chairman of the DNC.
  • There will be another Supreme Court vacancy.
  • John McCain will recognize another major problem, speak out about it honestly and devise a solution that will not solve the problem but rather will make it worse.
  • With strong bipartisan support Congress calls for a three-month embargo on Angelina Jolie adopting any more kids from the third world.
  • Here in the U.S., 2006 is shaping up to be a tough year for the GOP with the party continuing to pay the price, in scandal, and worse, for becoming too comfortable, too complacent, and too forgetful of the lessons of 1994. Will they hold on in the midterms? Yes, but not without some nasty scares, and every nasty scare makes it more likely that McCain will be the nominee in '08.
  • Al Franken, Michael Moore, and Nancy Pelosi will all admit that they are indeed hypocrites. (Okay, it was worth a shot.)
Should be quite a year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Liberal Media Exposed

The Media Research Council has released this year's Notable Quotables of 2005. The awards, which have names such as the Barbra Streisand Political IQ Award for Celebrity Vapidity, honor the best (or worst, as it were) of mainstream media buffoonery. These quotes are hilarious and I suggest you go read them all, but here are a couple examples:
"I’ve known John Roberts for years. I think it’s a very sensible pick in all serious ways. But I must say that when I spent five hours reviewing all of his documents from when he worked in the Justice Department, I was actually quite surprised at how, how very, very conservative he was."
— NPR’s Nina Totenberg on the July 30 Inside Washington. Totenberg had previously referred to Judge Roberts as "very, very conservative," "very, very, very conservative," "a really conservative guy," "a conservative Catholic," and "a hardline conservative."
Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan: "We’re not going to cure terrorism and spread peace and good will in the Middle East by killing innocent people or — I’m not even saying our bullets and bombs are killing them. The occupation — they don’t have food, they don’t have clean water, they don’t have electricity. They don’t have medicine, they don’t have doctors. We need to get our military presence out of there, and that’s what’s gonna start building good will....I see Iraq as the base for spreading imperialism...."
Host Chris Matthews: "Are you considering running for Congress, Cindy?"
Sheehan: "No, not this time...."
Matthews: "Okay. Well, I have to tell you, you sound more informed than most U.S. Congresspeople, so maybe you should run."
— Exchange on MSNBC’s Hardball, August 15.
Matt Lauer in Baghdad: "Talk to me...about morale here. We’ve heard so much about the insurgent attacks, so much about the uncertainty as to when you folks are going to get to go home. How would you describe morale?"
Chief Warrant Officer Randy Kirgiss: "In my unit morale is pretty good. Every day we go out and do our missions and people are ready to execute their missions. They’re excited to be here."
Lauer: "How much does that uncertainty of [not] knowing how long you’re going to be here impact morale?"|
Specialist Steven Chitterer: "Morale is always high. Soldiers know they have a mission. They like taking on new objectives and taking on the new challenges...."
Lauer: "Don’t get me wrong here, I think you are probably telling me the truth, but a lot of people at home are wondering how that could be possible with the conditions you’re facing and with the attacks you’re facing. What would you say to those people who are doubtful that morale can be that high?"
Captain Sherman Powell: "Sir, if I got my news from the newspapers also, I’d be pretty depressed as well."
— Exchange on NBC’s Today, August 17.
Indeed. Thank God for the blogosphere.

Christian Throwback Jerseys

Here's an interesting concept to capitalize on the popularity of custom sports paraphernalia. These biblically themed basketball, baseball, hockey and football jerseys replace team names with books of the bible (e.g. Romans instead of Rockets, Philippians instead of Phillies).

Some of these teams could probably use a little divine intervention.

ACC kicks off bowl season

The first of the ACC's eight bowl games kicks off tonight as Clemson meets Colorado in the Champs Sports Bowl from Orlando, FL.

The ACC and Big XII lead all conferences with 8 bowl participants each, followed by the Big 10 (7), the SEC (6) and Conference USA (6). The conference with the most wins across all bowl games will win the Bowl Challenge Cup, presented by Cooper Tires. A win in tonight's game would help the ACC by dealing a loss to their biggest competition for the cup.

The ACC's other bowl games are as follows:
MPC Computers Bowl: Boston College v. Boise State, Dec. 28, 4:30 PM, ESPN

Emerald Bowl: Georgia Tech v. Utah, Dec. 29, 4:30 PM, ESPN

Music City Bowl: Virginia v. Minnesota, Dec. 30, Noon, ESPN

Peach Bowl: Miami v. LSU, Dec. 30, 7:30 PM, CBS

Meineke Car Care Bowl: NC State v. South Florida, Dec. 31, 11 AM, ESPN2

Gator Bowl: Virginia Tech v. Louisville, Jan. 2, 12:30 PM, NBC

Orange Bowl: Florida State v. Penn State, Jan. 3, 8 PM, ABC
Show some conference pride and root on all the ACC teams to show the talking heads which conference really is the best.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Tiki Headed for Canton?

I love this article about Tiki Barber on Espn.com and about how he has turned himself into one of the greatest players in football, as well as one of the most marketable. He will soon be joining the ranks of veteran player broadcaster almost assuredly or do almost anything else he wants whenever he chooses to retire, which I hope is not anytime soon because he just seems to be getting better and better.

Glad to see Tiki representing THE University so well. Keep it up fellow Hoo!

Friday, December 23, 2005

McSweeny on Pricing Transportation

Pat McSweeny's new column is another in his series breaking down and discussing the problem of sprawl. I feel very uneasy about what he suggests.
If Virginians want true efficiency, an assured source of revenue for roads and public transit is not the answer. It will lead to rigidity. The policy debate over congestion has proceeded in precisely the wrong direction. Rather than looking for more tax revenues, we should be dismantling the current funding arrangement and demanding that Congress do the same.

The only way to achieve a more efficient transportation system over the long term is to price transportation the way telecommunications and energy are priced. The old model may have worked tolerably well in a simpler time, but it is ill-suited to the ever-changing and increasingly complex mobility challenges we confront in metropolitan areas.

For decades, we have built government roads to accommodate scattered development. More people drive more vehicles on more trips over longer distances than last year. Without a radical change, we can expect that to worsen in the future.

Congestion of these roads is an example of the tragedy of the commons. Because everyone can use a road without a user charge, no one takes the cost of the road into account in deciding where to live, work or engage in any other activity requiring travel. Pricing of transportation that reflects its true value would contribute more to rational patterns of development than any set of government land use policies and regulations devised ever could.
In terms of the long distance commuters, everyone needs to understand that while a few high-flyin' fancy-pantsed tech guys with salaries topping 250K are buying houses out in Jeffersonton and making that commute to Reston, a good number of their neighbors are cops and public school teachers in Burke or Vienna who can't afford a spacious home near work. Hard working people adding extra hours on their commutes because they feel their families deserve a chance to live in a big house with a lot of land. Not only will some sort of a usage system on roads punish those already bearing the long commute, it will actually make it impossible for some people to live in a decent size home. McSweeny said the solutions won't be painless, but we've got to keep our eye on the American dream as we move forward with this debate.

So here's the question I pose to the readers- what's the matter with sprawl?

Don't Fairfax Prince William

It looks like traditionally blue-collar Prince William is getting a little big for its britches:
The Prince William Board of County Supervisors is considering a countywide ban on boats, trailers, motor homes and RVs on public streets.

On Tuesday the board voted, 7 to 1, to authorize a public hearing on the proposed widespread prohibition. Thomas Bruun, assistant director of public works, recommended that the hearing be held in 60 days.

By law, the board can hold a public hearing within two weeks, but the Department of Public Works believes that more time is needed to inform the public about the proposal, Bruun said.

The measure would bar commercial vehicles -- such as dump trucks, concrete trucks and food and beverage trucks -- from street parking in residential districts.

My New Favorite Blog (On the Left Anyway)

Though I've been a longtime reader and personal admirer of "Charlottesville's favorite enfant terrible" I must admit another left-of-center blogger has captured my heart. J. Sarge's New Dominion has fast become one of my favorite reads. Everyone should be checking him out everyday (if only to make sure he keeps up his recent pace of daily postings).

Larry Sabato (the original) often talks about the impact that untimely death has taken on the history of Virginia politics. On our side, we look to our beloved (and rightfully so) Richard D. Obenshain, who would've been U.S. Senator, and then would've been a figure of nationwide importance, a strong anchor for our party's conservative values, and a rallying point to help us unify in the wake of our sometimes bloody primaries. On the other side of the aisle, Sabato points to two. J. Sargent Reynolds died while holding the number two spot in VA government in 1971 (post-mortem most political observers agree he would've been Governor in 1973). State Senator Emily Couric was on her way to a Lt. Gov. bid. Though easy to characterize at first blush as a Charlottesville Liberal (so was Tim Kaine, btw) she would have been a very strong contender for that office and would have stood a fantastic shot of becoming the Commonwealth's first female governor.

P.S. Though Sabato never brings it up, the early death of Governor Dalton clearly had an impact on the Republican party in the late 1980s and even today. Who else in the recent history of Virginia politics has left us before their time?

Welcome to The Family

We'd like to welcome our good friend The Red Stater to the ODBA. I've read his blog for some time now and he does good work over there. Glad to have him on board!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia Rap

You have to watch this hilarious spoof rap video from Saturday Night Live comedians Chris Parnell and Adam Samberg. Basically they just rap about going to see "The Chronic-(what?)-cles of Narnia." Funny stuff.

Johnny Damon is Dead to Me

Over at ESPN.com the Sports Guy unloads his mailbag with the plaintive cries and shrieks of terror that emanated from Beantown this past week as news came down that Johnny Damon, who was seemingly on his way to becoming one of Boston's all-time favorite sports figures, signed a deal with the Devil himself, George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees.

Here's my favorite one:
In what has become a sports rivalry of biblical proportions, do you find it ironic that Johnny Damon, aka Jesus, turned out to be, in fact, Judas? Can this rivalry between New York and Boston get any bigger? I know you can't bear to think of it but the only logical countermove by Red Sox management is to sign Clemens and instigate a brawl by having him bean Damon.
-- J. Wood, Natick, MA
I couldn't agree more. If you want to know what it feels like to have your heart torn still-beating from your chest, go read these e-mails. Painful.

Virginians in the Pro Bowl

The NFL announced its Pro Bowl selections yesterday and the Commonwealth of Virginia was well represented. Three former Virginia Tech Hokies were named to the Pro Bowl. Michael Vick and D'Angelo Hall will represent the Atlanta Falcons for the NFC, while Cincinnati Bengals kicker Shayne Graham will play for the AFC.

In addition, Vikings safety Darren Sharper, who played at William and Mary, and Texans kick returner Jerome Mathis, who played at Hampton University, were also selected.

Finally a couple of guys from Roanoke, Virginia, the Buccaneers' Ronde Barber and the Giants' Tiki Barber, were also named to the Pro Bowl. I can't seem to remember what college they played at but it's probably not important. The former Cave Spring High School standouts will be making the trip to Hawaii together for the second year in a row.

It's Official

Mims is in as Chief Deputy Attorney General. According to the press release it is the number two post, and if Bob McDonnell can no longer serve (or resigns early to focus on his campaign for Governor in 2009...just playin, don't start hatin) then Mims would step in as Acting AG. This begs an interesting question as to why Mims, 48, would want this job. I don't think he's yet interested in retiring, and I imagine he'll be taking a stiff pay cut. For now, I'll forgo the '09 speculation and just say he's a great guy who is looking to serve the Commonwealth in a new and larger capacity than he has since 1991 (the year he first made it to the House). Good luck to future former Senator Mims, and thank you for your continued service to the Commonwealth.




Of course, now all of tooconservative's and NLS's posts on the 33rd mean something. This is the first special election that will grab the full attention of the NoVA party players. This is also the first election where it's hard to tell whether it will be a Conservative pickup, a Dem pickup or a Conservative-but-not-quite-as-conservative-as-Ken-Cuccinelli retention.

Tony Dungy's Son

Eighteen year old James Dungy was found dead in an apartment in Florida on Thursday...apparently of natural causes. Tony Dungy is one of the class acts of the NFL...no one is more noble or dignified. My heart goes out to him and his family over this Christmas season that has turned into a nightmare for them.

Update: It now appears that Dungy's death may have been a suicide. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dungy family.

Reveling

In Bob McDonnell's victory...and holding 2 of 3 statewide seats.

In my birthday tomorrow.

In the biggest birthday of them all on the 25th...and just enjoying the Christmas season in general. Spent all yesterday shopping the Short Pump area...that place is amazing. It's like it has sprung up over night.

Get off the internet and get your mind off politics you sick sick people...

Go Skins on Saturday baby!!! I feel a win coming...prediction, 26-17.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Conservatives, eh?

Mason Conservative has a good look at the upcoming elections in Canada and the possibility of a conservative takeover there. I'll believe it when I see it, but if it happens it will be great news for our neighbors to the north.

Deeds Concedes

That's what Waldo Jaquith and Chad Dotson are reporting and it is great news for Bob McDonnell who can finally stop holding his breath. It's good news for the GOP too which went from holding one statewide office the past four years to now holding two.

Sure I'd trade a GOP Governor for the other two, but at least we know Kaine can't go too crazy with McDonnell, Bolling and the GOP-controlled General Assembly watching his every move.

The Odd Couple

ESPN.com has a great article about the budding friendship between NCAA player of the year candidates Adam Morrison and J.J. Redick. The article points out that, even though many media types focus only on their similarities (i.e. skin color), they are actually two very different players. Here's my favorite line:
One is on the left coast, the other on the right -- and that can apply to their political views, too.
Just another reason to love J.J.

The End of "Brochure Bills"

The December 11th House GOP caucus meeting makes me feel good to be a Republican. If I closed my eyes I'd think it was 1994 all over again. Why? Because the decision to let the House dispose of bills in subcommittee rather with the committee chair's consent is a great victory for efficiency in government. Bob Gibson, the single point of light of the Charlottesville Daily Progress, reports on the change in this hilariously titled piece from Monday. The editors at the Progress aren't as elated as I am, and they take it to task in this op-ed from Tuesday.

The folks over at the regress aren't out of line, even if their strained canine conceit is atrocious. Anytime a group goes for a seemingly sub rosa power-grab alarm bells should go off in the heart of every Republican and classically liberally minded fellow. I don't think this should be viewed as a power grab. I think that House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith (R-Salem) was being honest when he said this is merely a way to keep "Brochure Bills", those that are "not ready for primetime" introduced only to get good press back at home (and fit neatly into a reelection brochure) should take up less of the General Assembly's space-time and energy and be dispatched the first time they are heard, not the second. Giving more authority to the subcommittee will ensure that the full committees have more time to craft quality legislation.

While clearly abuses will occur (it's politics) and someone will always be upset when even a "real dog" is put down (it's politics) this action demonstrates a clear commitment to making the system work better. Brochure bills aren't something only introduced by the minority.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Brief aside from the recount...

Two absolutely amazing articles on the death penalty by Gary Becker and Richard Posner on how the death penalty actually does have a deterrent effect.

Updates

We finished with a net gain of 2 for McDonnell in Fluvanna, which was one of the handful of localities with the mechanical lever machines.

We also picked up 15 in Lynchburg City.

Recount Totals

From personal knowledge, I know that Manassas City and Manasass Park City remained the same after the recount. Earlier, I had heard that there was no net change in Prince William County, but now over at one of the comments on Commonwealth Conservative, someone is saying that Deeds picked up 119 in Prince William which is just scary. Three changes like that and this recount swings to Deeds. I hope that's inaccurate.

Lunenburg County remained the same.

Waynesboro City was a pickup of one for the McDonnell campaign.

Fluvanna County is ongoing.

Bush's Approval Ratings Up to 47%

Pretty surprised and pleased by this ABC poll!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Light Blogging

On account of the recount tomorrow, things have been pretty light around here recently. Hopefully there'll be plenty of good news to report come tomorrow evening.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Skins Are In . . . For Now

Thanks to their HUGE win over Dallas and losses today by Minnesota and Atlanta, the Washington Redskins currently sit in the 6th and final playoff spot in the NFC. They hold the tiebreaker over the Cowboys, Vikings, and Falcons.

If they can beat the Giants at home and the Eagles on the road the next two weeks, they are in the playoffs. If not, they'll need some help.

FIGHT FOR OLD D.C.!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

F-22 Operational

I plan to get a ride in an F-22 one of these days. Glad to see Shaun Kenney keeping up with the future of air warfare.

Wish I were just retired Air Force Chief of Staff General Jumper, who got to fly it right before he retired this fall. He "shot down" 8 F-16's in the training mission.

And now for something completely different......

Unlike most political bloggers (but exactly like most personal bloggers), I generally take my inspiration from my own personal thoughts and experiences in the game rather than commenting on the mainstream media. However, some thoughts popped into my head while perusing over the Post (I never have enough time to read the major papers as I would like) and watching ABC World News Tonight (which, I swear to God, just happened to be on. I miss you Bernie Shaw).

1) There was an interesting article on interfaith groups pushing for greater regulation of tobacco products. I think this is quntissential example of the ongoing struggle between the more-libertarian minded fiscal conservatives of the party and the social conservative wing (which by far has the clout). Although our woes are played up to a great deal in the media, I think that for the time being this is a sustainable coalition. However, as more and more shared policy goals are met, these things will start popping up. Stay tuned.....

2) ABC News had two interesting segments that seemed (in my mind, at least, interconnected). First off was a typical piece on the Iraq War and President Bush's problems in its execution, particularly in regards to the recent domestic survelliance scandal. Later in the program was a piece on how people are taxed by localities for rental cars. Naturally this may not mean anything, but could this be a subtle commentary on how appealing Libertarian (big-l intentional) ideology may be, even if its really not sustainable in any practical sense?

The Invitation

My invitation to Bill Bolling's inaugural festivities arrived the other day (in both paper and digital format), and two things popped out at me.

1) Why are the tickets to the Abingdon event (in Southwest Virginia, arguably one of Virginia's most impoverished areas) only $35, when ostensibly it should a cookie cutter of the other dinner affair?

2) How come Hampton Roads and the Shenandoah Valley (a GOP stronghold that still faithfully ran a 72 Hour operation like noneother, though deliberations are far from finished on the effectiveness) are being left out of this?

No (D) Position on the War- Good or Bad?

....for the (R)'s that is. When I first heard about Rep. Nancy Pelosi's comments yesterday my id high-fived my ego and I felt a little bit sunnier about the GOP's chances in 2006. Then I realized that they might finally be taking the right advance. I think Rahm Emmanuel's got a gameplan that might get them to the majority, and a big part of that would be avoiding getting his new guys bogged down in foreign policy and war on terror debates. He's running around the country "practically kidnapping candidates (according to one Democratic friend of mine)" and maybe he's promising them they won't get painted as some anti-war "nut."

At the same time, if there is angst about the war (and there is) and unease about Bush's handling of it(which there is, but probably not as much as the Post would have us believe) shouldn't the Democrats be taking advantage of that in their last chance to run against President Bush?

Of course, Pelosi forced herself into this weird diversity-of-message position by even stepping out on Iraq in the wake of Jack Murtha's statements. Howard and Nancy really messed it up for the Democrats. You had Jack Murtha, a genuine American hero, and undoubtedly, a staunch supporter of our troops and the military, turning into an outspoken critic on the war. We were never going to be able to hang the cut-and-run label on a guy like Murtha (especially considering he wasn't even calling for a cut and run) but we've already done it to Dean, Pelosi, Kerry, and many other liberal Ds who are all to eager to make rash and harmful statements for the cheap pops of the left wing audience right in front of them.

In the end, I think no unified democratic position on the war in re: the midterms is a smart move. What does everyone else think?

They Don't Wear Wooden Shoes.

The sets "Fans of The West Wing " and "committed blogaholics" probably have significant overlap. As I'm sure everyone knows, actor John Spencer passed away of a heart attack on Friday. For conservatives, White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry frequently provided the most articulate voice for their positions, particularly on national defense (in the Season Two episode "The Drop-In" Leo proves unflappable in the face of liberal cynicism as he pushes for a national missile shield) In Seasons Three and Four they character became a strong advocate for a brutal and severe war on terror. This neocon turn may have been intended by Sorkin and O'Donnell to lampoon American arrogance towards Middle Eastern countries, but I'll never forget this line from "Game On" when discussing Saudi stand-in pseudo-nation "Qumar":

"I can't pretend like Qumar is our quaint little allies whose culture it is important to be tolerant of. They don't wear wooden shoes."

Rest in peace Mr. Spencer. And thanks for the good memories.

Friday, December 16, 2005

We are Succeeding in Iraq

Reaction around the MSM has been pretty positive regarding yesterday's elections in Iraq. Despite widespread attempts by the media to downplay the many positive things that we have been accomplishing in Iraq, it is near impossible to deny the importance of the outstanding participation in this exercise of democracy.

Over at National Review, William F. Buckley weighs in with his thoughts:
What happened that was of great importance was the decision by the Sunni insurgents to permit people to vote without threatening death and mayhem. That license increased the participation rate from a little over 50 percent of eligible voters last January to about 70 percent on Thursday. We will not have long to wait before seeing whether the insurgents’ decision was an acknowledgment of political reality, or only a temporary maneuver calculated to reinforce their strength in showdowns to come.
Meanwhile over at Real Clear Politics, Tom Bevan lays one on the media for their complete failure to put our present conflict in any sort of historical context.

Finally, the incomparable Peggy Noonan is eloquent as always in reminding us that this struggle is much bigger than George W. Bush. A sample:
News reports both in print and on television also seem to be suggesting a turn. They seem to suggest a new knowledge on the ground in Iraq that democracy is inevitable, is the future, and if you don't want to be left behind you'd better jump in. One senses a growing democratic spirit. A sense that daring deeds can produce real progress.

'Tis devoutly to be wished, and all of good faith must wish it.
She says ever so much more, I encourage you to read it here.

Riding Off Into the Sunset Provision

Norm at OMT has this smart and funny post (What else is new?) about taxes, specifically those mysterious federal telephone service charges. He also manages to deftly tie the post into the Freedom and Prosperity Agenda, which seeks to require expiration dates for all new taxes and all tax increases.

Thanks for continuing to beat that drum Norm. We need to do a better job supporting you on that front. The FPA is a platform that all conservatives should be able to rally around and shows that our Party continues to be the one offering innovative ideas and solutions for our Commonwealth's problems, not the same old tired philosophy of tax more-spend more supported by Warner, Kaine and the Dems.

It's a Warning

Seen on a car this afternoon, two bumper stickers side by side:

Tim Kaine for Governor

John McCain 2008

Hmm.

Former Gov. Baliles to Direct UVA's Miller Center

From the press release:
University of Virginia President John T. Casteen III today named former Virginia Gov. Gerald L. Baliles as the fifth director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs, the leading nonpartisan institution dedicated to studying U.S. national and international policy, with a special emphasis on the American presidency.
Baliles, a Democrat, served as Virginia's 65th Governor from 1986-1990.

You can read the rest here.

The Budget is Live

Go here to read Governor Warner's speech. Go here to take a gander at the documents.

The highlight of the speech. Under "Challenges Remain" headline "Education" we get this gem:
Earlier this year, I went to India, leading a business delegation on a trade mission. As I visited that country—which is undergoing explosive change—I saw a number of things that speak to where we are as a state… as opposed to where we need to be.

A dozen examples jump to mind. But the one that really stands out -- more than the Taj Mahal or the high tech industry that is being spawned almost overnight -- is a visit we made to one of the worst slums in Delhi.

Dirt floors . . . no running water . . . kids being sent out to beg to feed their families instead of going to school.

I was of course struck by the crushing poverty. But I also saw something the locals call the “hole in the wall.”

It is a cinder block building covered by a corrugated tin roof, where computers have been placed into a hole in a concrete wall. No teachers. No instruction. Just put there. The computers were turned on in the morning and turned off at night. And, every day the kids wrestled over who would use the computers first.

You wouldn’t have believed it. I met a kid named Sameer who asked me how to spell my name so he could “Google” me, so he could see whether I was somebody important.

He, and all the others, knew how to e-mail and IM. They were doing basically the same things on the computer that my girls do at home.

A lot of these kids are truly remarkable and I pray they do well.

This experience said a lot to me about what is going on in India -- a country poised between two worlds, between past and future -- between dire poverty and cutting-edge technology.

But where it really resonated is this.

It told me in a very real, very personal way that the race is on for the future. The central question is -- Who’s going to own it? … and who’s going to get there first?



At the RPV Advance in Hot Springs VA a few weekends ago, I made a quick trip to the bustling metropolis of Bath County (I apologize if it's actually in Alleghany) Covington. On Route 220 south I noticed that I was in "Virginia's Technology Corridor." While this was an awkward (and probably completely fabricated) anecdote. It hits on a serious note. Service sector jobs of the highest technological caliber will move across the ocean with less muscle-power than trinkets and sneakers. I agree with Governor Warner 100%.

Fear Sameer.

Allen-mania Continues

Chad Dotson stokes the Allen '08 fires a little more with his post on this new National Journal poll that again has Senator George Allen out in front among the GOP hopefuls. The big question seems to be "Is Allen too much like Bush?"

Some of the comments of those polled are interesting. They seem to indicate that Allen is focusing far more on New Hampshire than Iowa at this stage in the game. Some Presidential candidates have ignored Iowa altogether in the past, but they usually wind up getting steamrolled by the Big Mo'. It's still early, so there's plenty of time to build an organization there, but Allen would be wise not to forget the Hawkeye State.

Anyone remember what happened to Dan Quayle's Presidential hopes after that Iowa straw poll in August of '99?

Update: One interesting thing I noticed over at the National Journal (there's lots of good stuff there, by the way) was the CNN/USA Today Poll of registered Republicans that puts Allen #4 with 7%, behind Giuliani (30%), McCain (22%) and Rice (18%), and ahead of Frist (3%) and Romney (2%). That is by far Allen's best performance in any poll I have seen of voters and may indicate that the grassroots are starting to learn more about him. Incidentally, I don't think Rice will run and Giuliani and McCain will be battling for the moderates, leaving the conservative mantle wide-open. Interesting stuff.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Times Dispatch Censoring Church Ads?

This was forwarded to me, and I'm not sure what Media General's legal team is thinking here. This seems like political correctness run amok:

Dear Friends,
Thought you might be interested in this. I am a pastor of a small Evangelical Christian church located in a suburb of
Richmond Va. Our church is looking to hire someone as an accompanist, Yesterday, Dec. 5, 2005, I tried to place a help-wanted advertisement in the large Richmond daily newspaper "The Richmond Times Dispatch". I had my secretary send them the copy for the ad which read as follows: "Vibrant growing Jesus-loving congregation looking to hire a talented pianist/organist for Sunday morning worship services and evening choir practices. Pray about it, then send your resume to...(our address) "

We received a call back form the paper saying they would not run the advertisement unless we dropped the words "Jesus- loving" and "Pray about it". I asked to speak to a supervisor who confirmed that this was, in fact, their position, so I asked her to send me a letter stating their objections and why these phrases were being rejected. She told me that she would have to check with the company attorney about that but she would get back with me later in the day. A couple of hours later she called back and told me that she had spoken with the Media General attorney, (the Times-Dispatch is owned by Media General, a large media conglomerate based here in Richmond), and he had advised them to tell me that they would not run our ad if we used the words "Jesus- loving" or "pray about it" in the text. He also advised them not to send me a letter or put any of this in writing. (I guess they fear a law suit?)

What blows my mind is this: This paper prints so-called "personal" ads where people can openly advertise that they are looking for homosexual sex or adulterous relationships. They print display ads in the sports section every day for the local strip clubs..but according to them I can't describe our church as "Jesus-loving." That just doesn't make much sense to me! Isn't that sort of the definition of a Christian church? We love Jesus. Anyway I'm not quite sure what my next step is. I'm praying about how to address this obvious discrimination in a way that brings glory to Christ and leads people to faith in Him. Please pray about how this might be used for the Kingdom in a positive way. You are welcome to forward this to anyone you think might be interested.

Sincerely,

David A. Crisp
Sr. Pastor,
Hanover Evangelical Friends Church
Mechanicsville, VA 23111

Southside U- Class of 07?

Not quite. The New College Institute of Virginia put out a press release this morning detailing a little bit of the plan to establish a 4 year undergraduate institution of higher education in/around Martinsville.

Stage one of that plan will involve bringing "baccalaureate degree granting programs to the area as soon as 2007." This will be done through cooperation with existing four year universities. Since I've yet to find this article in any linkable place I'll block quote the juicy center of the press release:

Specifically, in the first of the two stages, beginning in 2007, the New College Institute would offer classes at NCI facilities through existing colleges and through NCI faculty members. During the second stage, from 2007-2012, NCI would report to SCHEV on the development of the New College into a baccalaureate college or branch campus, as appropriate.


During this transition period until 2012, the New College Institute would focus its curriculum on students who have completed an associate’s degree program at a community college, such as Patrick Henry Community College, or who have completed the first or second years of an undergraduate program.


The release goes on to state that planners are looking to create some "fast-track" curricula which will help students get their b.a. or b.s. in less time than the 55 month national average (which seems really high!)

I hope to get the full release up later. Personally, I've always been uneasy with the construction of a university as a solid econoimc stimulus. It costs a lot more to run a school (primary, secondary, or higher) than it does to buy the land and build the building. Is this thing going to turn a profit (I mean, is it going to loose a lot more than most colleges?). This will not be the last we hear of the New College Institute's two-stage plan, as it will require approval by the General Assembly to get underway. Legislators would be foolish to stand in its way though. Remember, there were only two candidates to campaign on the concept of Southside U.

And right now they are the only two men we know will be taking statewide office on January 14th.

John Kerry's sense of humor?

Apparently, John Kerry tells jokes. Grrr... FrankenKerry make funny joke! People laugh!

Budget Release. 9/16 9:30 AM

Tomorrow morning in the General Assembly Building's "House Room D" Governor Warner will present his final budget to the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees. If the lobbyists and special interest groups in your area have been at a ten so far, expect them to kick it up to eleven tomorrow.

Open seat in the 23rd?

Chad Dotson is reporting that Delegate Preston Bryant is set to take an appointment in the Kaine Administration today as Virginia's new Secretary of Natural Resources. You'll all remember that Bryant was one of the GOP ringleaders of the effort to support Gov. Warner's massive tax increase two years ago.

The move would be an interesting one by Kaine because it could replace a legislator that might be somewhat friendly to Kaine's administration and replace him with one that is not so friendly. The 23rd House district covers the City of Lynchburg and part of Amherst County and is a fairly conservative district.

With Republicans already hoping for a pick-up in the 3rd House District, and rumors floating about a possible Democratic seat opening up in the very Republican 17th Senate district, one might have to question whether there is a method to Tim Kaine's madness, as he seems set to create a stronger GOP majority in the General Assembly.

With respect to who the GOP will run in the 23rd, however, the answer to that question should be obvious: Whomever Jerry Falwell wants to run.

Trade Massachusetts

I think Professor Bainbridge is on to something: Let's trade Massachusetts. I don't know about the rest of you, but I say it's a deal at twice the price. Heck, I'm even willing to throw in a player to be named later. (I'm thinking Maine, but would consider other offers)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Basket-blogging

Now that the College Football season is in hiatus until bowl season, it is time to turn our attention to the College Basketball scene. For that, one of my favorite college basketball blogs is Bracketology 101.

These guys do a great job of looking at the college basketball scene from the perspective of the NCAA Tournament. As we all know, getting into The Big Dance is every team's goal at the beginning of the season, so this blog focuses appropriately on that goal. They'll let you know what the important games are each week and who is helping and hurting their chances at getting into the Field of 64.

They also have some other great features like this list of College Basketball's Top 10 White Guys. It's pretty tough to argue with Gonzaga's Adam Morrison and Duke's J.J. Redick as #1 and #2 on that list. I also love their suggestion in yesterday's post that someone organize a game of H-O-R-S-E between those two. Who wouldn't want to see that?

Romney Ain't Got Nothin on Allen

Looks like Romney is gearing up for the '08 run by choosing not to run for reelection next year...bring it on.

Sen. Allen's Approval Rating Shooting Skyward

In a SurveyUSA poll released yesterday, the group polled all 50 states for the approval/disapproval ratings of all 100 United States Senators. Since the poll was last taken in October, Senator George Allen's approval rating has shot up 10 percentage points, from 49% in Oct., to 59% in Dec. This is compared to a 2% increase, from 58% to 60%, for Senator Warner.

It is interesting that many Democrats tried to frame the 2005 Gubernatorial Election as a battle between George Allen and Mark Warner. However, these poll results should make it clear that, although the majority of Virginians did not choose Jerry Kilgore to be Governor, that choice is no reflection on Kilgore's good buddy Senator Allen.

As if it weren't obvious enough already, Sen. Allen is going to walk to re-election. In fact, I was just thinking the other night that Sen. Allen's '06 campaign may be another reason why now would be the perfect time for Kilgore to run against Boucher in the 9th. Sen. Allen is going to rack up huge margins in SWVA, even bigger than Bush in '04. In fact in 2000, when both men were on the ballot, Bush received 54% of the vote in the 9th, and Allen received 56%. Bush received 59% in 2004.

Senator Allen would probably relish the chance to stump for his friend down there, and we already know how the folks love Kilgore down in the great Southwest. If Kevin Triplett was able to keep Boucher under 60% with Bush's coattails, Kilgore may actually have a chance at beating him with Sen. Allen's.

Republican Reformation

Over at the National Review, Jonah Goldberg is issuing a wake up call to the Republican Party. Goldberg argues for a return to the traditional conservative principles of a smaller government whose powers to tax and spend are heavily restrained. Goldberg closes the article with the following indictment of Republican policies:
We have confused “low taxes” — which we all like — with limited government, which we don’t have. We expect Democrats to want the government to do everything, but at least they have the consistency to raise taxes in order to pay for it. Republicans lack similar convictions. Which is why they need to be born again.
I couldn't agree more. The party I know and love seems to have lost its way in many respects. But don't expect those guys in Washington to do anything about it. It will truly take a revolution at the roots if we expect things to change. Who's with me?

Tim Kaine: Casanova

Tim Kaine: He's a Lover, not a Fighter
This great quote is from an article in today's WaPo regarding Kaine's "growth" plan. Maybe I'm missing something obvious, but how does restricting development closer in, whether in Richmond, NoVa or Va Beach, not lead to even more suburban spread in the outer counties? Take, for instance, DC. If the jobs are downtown, or in Arlington, that's where the jobs are, regardless of where the people working them are. The result is that people commute in from as far away as West Virginia (~2 hours each way). Wouldn't it be better to build more houses, townhouses and even high rise apartments to allow people to live in closer? Also, wouldn't a higher density allow for better mass transit options? What am I missing here?

Light The Candle

Today marks the one-year Blogiversary of Sic Semper Tyrannis. For some warm fuzzy memories, here's our first post.

In my mind, we have far exceeded anything I thought we could accomplish on this blog at the one year mark. I want to thank everyone out there who has supported us, linked to us, commented here, or just read and enjoyed what we've had to say. I hope you'll keep coming back, and we'll certainly try to keep holding up our end.

I am excited about the future of SST. When we started, I wasn't sure that blogging was anything more than a fad. Now I can see what a valuable and valid source of information blogs can be when used properly. I think we have a lot more to offer here at SST and I hope that we can keep making a solid contribution to the Virginia blogosphere.

In terms of retrospection, my favorite post by Addison was the one that made me feel like we had truly arrived on the Virginia political scene. If you recall, the Governor's office took something of an interest in our graphic design. My favorite post by Lighthorse Harry was this great political tidbit of historical perspective about the campaign of Jeff Stafford and those activists it spawned. Finally, my own favorite post was probably the one I did in the wake of the London bombings on July 7, 2005. I feel that those sentiments still ring true today.

Consider this an open thread for reminiscing, congratulating and even criticizing. We're always open to changes around these parts, as long as they are the right changes.

By the way, this is still the funniest thing I've seen all year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Getting the Redskins in

Rick Snider in the DC Examiner has this analysis of who can help and hurt the Redskins in the remaining three weeks.

He explains why we want the 'Bucs to win the NFC South and the Vikings to win the NFC North.

He emphasizes that all the 'Skins can do is just win, baby.

Bloggers, Bloggers Everywhere

On the heels of Not Larry Sabato and CrimLaw getting the Chad Dotson '09 bandwagon rolling (awfully early I might add), two more bloggers appear ready to throw their hats into the ring for elected office.

Amid rumors that 17th District State Senator Ed Houck will take a seat in the Kaine Administration, the Internet's first elected blogger himself floats a couple of other bloggers' names as his possible GOP replacements. Both former YR state chair Jay Hughes and the incomparable Shaun Kenny would make excellent candidates and would (watch out!) give bloggers a foot in the door of the General Assembly.

Bloggers in the statehouse? What next? Men at UVA?

Updated Blogroll

Thanks to Chad Dotson for providing us with the updated blogroll for the ODBA. Lots of great new blogs on there, I encourage you all to check them out. In addition, we'll soon be adding another blogroll for other blogs that interest us, but aren't in the ODBA. We each have our favorites, but there may also be other good blogs out there that we aren't aware of. If so, we encourage you to let us know about you.

Deeds' Mouthpiece Speaks

Steve Minor has an excellent post deconstructing the Roanoke Times editorial page's efforts at undermining results of the AG recount before they happen. The Times is doing it's best Charlie McCarthy impression to the Democratic Party of Virginia's Edgar Bergen. Unfortunately, as Steve deftly points out, they simply ignore the facts and the law in doing so.

Three New Movie Trailers

Being the geek fanboy that I am, winter is always a time for looking forward to next summer's cheesy popcorn flicks. Sure, I'm as excited about King Kong as anyone, but what I really long for is the mindless explosions, CGI and logic- and physics-defying silliness that define the summer movie season.

Ain't It Cool News.com points us towards some early teaser trailers for three of next summer's biggest blockbusters-in-waiting: X-Men 3, Mission Impossible 3, and Miami Vice. And to answer your question, No, there aren't any original ideas in Hollywood.

The Commonwealth's Winningest Football Program

In the 21st Century, that title surprisingly belongs to the Bridgewater College Eagles.

According to Bridgewaterfootball.com, the Division III Eagles have posted the Commonwealth's best record since the start of the 2000 football season. Over that time Bridgewater has posted a record of 64-11 for a win percentage of .853. In second place is the Virginia Tech Hokies with a record of 57-19 for a win percentage of .750. The site has an interesting chart of all 23 of Virginia's football-playing schools and their records since the 2000 season.

Just for historical perspective, I looked up the all-time records of the Division I-A and I-AA schools to see how they compared. Virginia Tech was again the best posting an all-time win percentage of .593 through the 2004 season. Next best was JMU with a .540 win percentage, followed closely by UVA at .533. By contrast, Bridgewater College's all-time win percentage prior to the 2000 season was .277. That figure has increased to .356 thanks to Bridgewater's incredible run over the past 6 seasons, but that is still a painfully low total. In fact, a full third of Bridgewater's all-time victories have come in the past six seasons. That's pretty remarkable for a school that started playing football in 1899.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Here's to your health

Much better coverage has been given to the topic, but I am completely fascinated by the newly proposed Medicaid legislation coming out of the House Republican Caucus. I've already been hearing reports of legislators returning to their offices to find voicemails filled to the brim with messages regarding changes (although many seem to reference "the Congressman" and the House legislation, as to be expected from misguided astroturf). I think this may become one of the big issues of the session, particularly since the House beat the Governor to the punch on a plan.

I'm particularly intrigued by the medical savings account plan, something I've been interested since I heard President Bush bring it up on the stump in 2004. I think if we're going to have a societal safety net, there's nothing wrong (and perhaps we even have an obligation) to provide those who are more disadvantaged with the same benefits of the open market as others. However, I am confused that the plan seems to reference "a" private-run plan, not "one of several." Is this implying a state-condoned monopoly running aside the Medicaid program? I'm also quite interested in these health courts. What do you all think? Will this simply create more bueracracy or will it actually save money in the long-run by reforming torts in a substantial way? This could be one of those rare ideas where larger government could pay-off, like a full-time legislature (although that has its downsides as well).

Being There

Having gotten the all-clear from my bodyguard, I can now return to regular posting. I know that the time has essentially passed for such observations, but I have one final anectdote from the Advance involving a topic of much dicussion here at SST, the presumed '08 Senate Primary.
Perhaps it is merely a function of being a Congressman, but Bob Goodlatte's names have been amongst those thrown out to be in possible contention should John Warner retire. Personally, I think that while Goodlatte is a great legislator and could probably win, he just doesn't bring alot to the table in a race that could be critical should the Dems find a top notch candidate. Plus, he'd make a great chair of Judiciary, that being the rumour for the next round of committee shake-ups.

However, I think that Saturday night's Davis-Davis-Goodlatte suite put the nail in the speculation coffin in two ways. Not only did he dare to co-sponsor a suite with one Rep who certainly isn't running and one who just about already is, but there was an amusing scene around 10 o'clock. As the Congressman stood essentially in the middle of the room, everyone had their backs turned to him. Not purposely of course, but he was the center of the universe without any attention being paid to him. Perhaps this is the role best fitting the Representative: a pivotal legislative player who just doesn't need to do much politicking anymore.

More on Jackie Stump

Goodwin had the press release, and Brian Patton has a link to WCYB, saying that it is for health reasons.

We certainly wish Del. Stump speedy recovery. He's worked hard and deserves a rest.

If Del. Stump knew that he was retiring, this was an extremely shrewd decision by the Democrats. The 3rd is a Democratic lean, but Jerry Kilgore won it 53-47. I think that the Dems were worried about Kilgore's coattails, and figured their chances were a lot better in a special election than in a general.

UPDATE: I just noticed that, in comments below, Kilo also mentioned Del. Stump's health reasons for resigning.

Special Elections- In the Name of the Commonwealth

"NOW THEREFORE, in the name of the Commonwealth, you are hereby required to cause an election to be held in your said County on Tuesday, January 3, 2006, for a member of the House of Delegates of Virginia to fill the vacancy. The last day for filing as a candidate for such office in said election shall be Friday, December 16, 2005, at 5:00 p.m." --- Governor's 12/12 News Release

The date has been set for the two special elections (which we know we need to have). Tuesday January 3rd voters in Caroline, Essex, Hanover, King and Queen, King William, Middlesex, and Spotsylvania counties will head to the polls to select a successor to "Fireball" Bill Bolling. And down in the fightin' 9th voters in Buchanan (Buck-a-non, right?), Russell, and Tazewell will select a replacement for the Honorable Jackie Stump who has resigned.

Now I want to be Governor someday just so I can make proclamations in the name of the Commonwealth.

When did Jackie Stump resign?

Brilliant Legal Minds

Quote of the day: "Thirty-six leading law schools, on the assumption that doing so would help them, have just advised the United States Supreme Court that contemporary American legal education bears meaningful comparison to a Klan assembly."

This comes from an article about the case of Rumsfeld v. FAIR, in which law schools argue that being forced to allow the military to recruit on equal footing with other employers as a condition of federal aid to their Universities violates their First Amendment rights. Never mind that the same law schools are free to protest those appearances, or make clear they don't agree with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", or even refuse the government aid. FAIR's position seems to be that the government shouldn't be allowed to attach conditions to the federal aid, even though this was a tactic they were extremely fond of when it came to forcing schools to institute affirmative action (think Grove City).
Frankly, as the article notes, it makes me wonder about the value of my legal education.

VA Blog Carnival - Edition XV

The latest collection of juicy blogging morsels from around the Commonwealth is up (or down perhaps?) at Below the Beltway. Lots to choose from, so sample some for yourself.

Davis for Senate?

The results of Too Conservative's online poll are in, with a "resounding" win for Congressman Davis. As I noted in an earlier post, regardless of how this turns out, if it means the VA GOP can finally talk about how to manage the "two wings" of the party (and maybe the two sides can talk to each other), I don't care how the actual race turns out.

Give us Ramsey! Or better yet, Schaub!

Though it pains my heart, I'm calling out Coach Joe Gibbs. I never thought this day would come, though to be fair I never thought Coach Gibbs would (1) abandon a player who showed our team such loyalty and (2) tolerate a quarterback who plays this poorly.
In case the title of this post doesn't make it clear, I'm calling for a return of Patrick Ramsey. You remember Ramsey, right? He was the Redskins quarterback during the last year of Spurrier's fun-and-gun-and-lose. If you still don't remember, just picture that guy who was always lying on his back. I thought that might jog your memory. Patrick Ramsey was the guy who stuck it out that whole season, despite getting sacked nearly as many times as David Carr. He actually got injured from being sacked so many times, and still he suited up for each game. And to reward this loyalty, the Redskins picked up. . . Mark Brunell.
Now, I know Mark Brunell was a good Jaguars QB back in the late 90's, when his legs still worked. But now-adays, Mark Brunell plays well approximately 1 game in 4, and has more success completing the ball to the other team than the burgundy-and-gold. Not that Patrick Ramsey will ever be a Pro Bowl quarterback. Neither was Doug Williams, or Mark Rypien, and yet the Redskins won with those guys. And I'm man enough to admit that if the Redskins had replaced Ramsey with a big name draft pick, a younger QB they were grooming to be the franchise quarterback, I wouldn't be writing this. But they didn't. The Redskins rewarded Ramsey's loyalty with a man nearly old enough to be my father.

This brings me to the second half of the title. The Redskins need a franchise quarterback, a younger player who can lead this program for years to come. Hopefully, though I chastised him above, those years will be with Coach Gibbs at the helm, and a big time running back in the backfield. What the Redskins need is a strong-armed, mature pocket passer who can control the ball, which is what a Gibbs offense needs, more Big Ben than Michael Vick. Fortunately, the Commonwealth's flagship University has produced just such a passer in Matt Schaub. He's tall, mature for his years, and a local boy with a ready-made fan base. He's riding the pine behind Vick in Atlanta, and likely will be for years to come. Let's pick him up before he gets a chance to play and drives his market value through the roof. Now, if we can just figure out how to get the next incarnation of John Riggins...

New Defense Secretary . . . Joe Lieberman?

Secretary Lieberman?
Though this is actually from Friday's edition of Slate, it does raise some interesting questions about the Democratic Party's stance on the war. To be fair, it also highlights a serious Republican weakness if quoting a Democrat is the White House's best response.
For all you conspiracy theorists out there, it allows this interesting possibility: With the success of Sharon's new centrist party after his leaving Likud. . . McCain/Lieberman in '08?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Loudoun County housing bubble just "ran out of stupid people"

From Business Week:
Psssssfffffft. That's the sound of the air finally leaking from the real estate bubble in Loudoun County, Va. Since 2000 it's been the nation's fastest-growing county, where eager homebuyers always seemed to outnumber happy sellers. Until now.

Bob Semmens, a 60-year-old retired pressman, has heard that sound. After he offered up his 3,000-square-foot colonial, with three acres and a swimming pool, in early July for $759,000, he sat back to wait for the frenzied offers. A year before, houses had remained on the market for just 20 days and were snapped up in bidding wars. But "very few people were even coming out to look," Semmens recalls. After four months, he was about to take the house off the market until next spring. But then he struck a deal -- for $620,000, an 18% price cut. Semmens rues his bad timing: "Just at the time I was getting the house on the market, everything really started to slow down."

By October, agents had 2,908 existing Loudoun houses on the market, an increase of 127% over a year earlier. The average time on the market had climbed 62%, to 42 days, since the fall of '04. And in just two months, from August to October, the median sales price for houses dropped from $506,100 to $480,000. In kitchens and coffee shops from Purcellville to Leesburg, anxious homeowners swap stories about a market rapidly going soft: The real estate agent who gets 10 to 15 e-mails a day from developers now offering price cuts of $10,000 or more to move new houses. The sign installer who's putting up three "For Sale" signs for every two that he takes down.

What's happening in Loudoun is a rapid shift in psychology -- a classic sign of a market turn. The buoyant optimism that fueled speculation and expectations of ever-rising prices is now succumbing to the fear of being left standing when the music stops. Real estate, the hottest play of the century in Loudoun, is rapidly cooling.
And of course, my favorite part:
Loudoun's real estate community insists the market is merely reverting to a more normal state. "We're coming back to more of a balance," says Karen Overheu, a Long & Foster Realtor with listings in Loudoun County. "You don't have to make up your mind [about buying a house] in an hour or risk losing it to someone else. It's a little insane to have it the other way."

There's another explanation, says insurance agent Joe Kelly over lunch downtown at the Leesburg Restaurant. "They ran out of stupid people."



Don't Buy Lexar Jumpdrives

Lexar makes portable storage devices, including the Jumpdrive.

This week, both my Jumpdrive and my wife's Jumpdrive died. Lexar's technical support is abysmal, and their return policy is extremely strict.

Redskins need rooting help

I'm home after attending the early service at church, and I've decided to get motivated about the Redskins wild card chances.

Right now, the Giants, Bears, Panthers and Seahawks lead their divisions, and the Seahawks have already clinched. We'll assume that the Giants, Bears and Panthers will win their divisions.

That leaves five teams at .500 or better. So root for:

the Chiefs over the Cowboys
the Rams over the Vikings
the Saints over the Falcons (MNF)
the Panthers over the Buccaneers


and obviously, the 'Skins over the Cardinals.

That will leave the Cowboys, Vikings, Falcons and Redskins at 7-6, and the Bucs at 8-5.

Senator Allen Comes to his Senses

The Cybercast News Service is reporting that Sen. George Allen is dropping his support for 'hate crimes' legislation that includes sexual orientation as a protected class. Allen voted for similar legislation back in 2004.

Allen's staff gives two rationales for this change:
The first is, he feels that those changes to hate crimes laws could have a chilling effect on First Amendment rights...

Secondly - even though he doesn't feel that the legislation that was voted on in 2004 in and of itself, would elevate 'sexual orientation' to civil rights status - it's becoming clear that there are some courts that would use that as a building block towards civil rights status, which he is opposed to.
Of course, we all know what is really going on here. Allen is no dummy, and he recognizes that he will be battling a number of other ambitious souls for the conservative mantle in the 2008 primaries. Allen is smartly seeking to short-circuit any strikes that others might raise against him with the GOP base.

As I've said before, Allen is most comfortable and most convincing when he's talking about economic, not social, conservatism. Still, GFA is savvy enough not to give his opponents too much rope with which to hang him.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

#4 is Simply Amazing

I love J.J. Redick.

Not only is this kid from Roanoke, Virginia the single greatest shooter I have ever seen, but he has a will to win like nobody else. J.J. wants the ball every single time. If a big shot is needed, he'll take it. He's fearless, competitive, motivated, and yes, cocky as hell. And I dig that about him.

I was in Lynchburg, VA four years ago the day J.J. dropped 43 points on George Wythe, on an injured ankle no less, to give his high school the state title. It was the first time I'd ever seen him play, and I couldn't believe my eyes. There was no place on the court J.J. wouldn't shoot from.

This afternoon, J.J. dropped 41 on the #2 team in the nation, Texas, and it was deja vu all over again. You can tell just by watching him that J.J. knows this is his last go 'round in the Duke blue-and-white. And just like in high school, he wants to make it count. If J.J. doesn't lead this team to at least the Final Four this year, I'll be very surprised. What a guy.

Switched to Mozilla Firefox

I've never been one of those "Microsoft is ruining the world" type of guys.

However, after acquiring some sort of spyware that causes constant pop-ups, and after being unable to fix it despite three days of efforts, I've given up.

Firefox is now the only browser on my laptop.

VHSL Championship Games

This afternoon and evening, the Virginia High School League will conduct the Group AA and A Championship Games in Lynchburg and Harrisonburg respectively.

In Group AA, at 12:30 PM the Salem Spartans will face the Powhatan Indians for the Division 4 Championship. At 4 PM, the Richlands Blue Tornado will challenge the Knights of Turner Ashby for the Division 3 Title.

In Group A, at 12:30 PM the J.I. Burton Black Raiders will meet the William Campbell Generals for the Division 1 crown. Then at 4 PM the Giles County Spartans will battle the Manassas Park Cougars to determine the victor in Division 2.

I'll be rooting for Salem, TA, Burton and Giles, but good luck to all the teams and players who are participating.

Back from Narnia

Last night I went to see the Chronicles of Narnia and I must say that it met my expectations superbly. It has been ages since I read the books, but I have fond memories of them transporting me to a magical world filled with talking beasts and fanciful creatures. The movie recreated the world of Narnia in tremendous fashion and I was blow away by the special effects that rendered realistic creatures and talking animals. The casting was superbly done with the Pevensie children as well as Tilda Swinton as the White Witch (even though I didn't like her costumes).

There were a number of things that I didn't like about the way they changed the story from the book, and most of them had to do with watering-down the Christian message. For example, the movie brought the character of Aslan down to more of a human level than he is portrayed in the book. The movie also makes Edmund out to be more of a victim than simply a mean little child. Both of these have the effect of cheapening the sacrifice that Aslan makes.

Overall, I was very pleased. The Christian themes are still quite strong if one understands them. Unfortuntely, that doesn't seem to be the case for many of the members of the media who reviewed the film, such as the Washington Post's Stephen Hunter, who views the film as a justification of British colonialism. This kind of obliviousness remains the reason that Hollywood types fail to understand how to market to Christians, though they'll happily take our money when they do so by accident.

U.S. Dealt Tough Hand in World Cup Draw

The US Men's Soccer Team came into yesterday's World Cup Draw ranked 8th in the world and hoping for a somewhat easier path through the first round than they have encountered in past World Cups. Instead, the US landed in arguably the toughest group, with three of the four teams ranked in the Top 12 in the World. The US was placed in Group E along with 2nd-ranked Czech Republic and 12th-ranked Italy. The fourth team in Group E is Ghana, who should not be overlooked.

Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl is already calling Group E this year's "Group of Death," which is a moniker attached to the toughest draw in each World Cup. I happen to agree with Wahl, and the difficulty is magnified by the fact that the runner-up in Group E could end up playing defending Cup Champ Brazil in the second round. In other words, if this is truly going to be the year that the US proves it belongs on the World Cup stage, they are going to have to topple some giants to do it.

The US' first 2006 World Cup match will be against the Czechs on June 12 in Gelsenkirchen.

Friday, December 09, 2005

This is why we fought to reelect Bush

Great article in Washington's premier newspaper today about John Bolton's line in the sand approach towards his job as our man at the "United" Nations. The article is about the fact that our GOP congress is going to back him up, but I think it is a greater credit to our president. It makes me feel glad I spent all that time making phone calls and organizing volunteers in 2004. There's no doubt that without Bush in office we would not have Bolton, or a Bolton-esque figure, in the job. Go get 'em, Johnny.

In Defense of Kate Griffin

In the wake of Jerry Kilgore's loss at the polls last month, as well as the loss of a couple seats in the House of Delegates, there has been some understandable finger-pointing going on within the GOP about who is to blame for these setbacks. Some have suggested that our party chairman, Kate Obenshain Griffin, is responsible and have gone so far as to call for her ouster. I feel that these calls are grossly misguided for a number of reasons.

First of all, Kate has performed admirably under an extremely difficult set of circumstances. Kate was brought in to run the party in the wake of the eavesdropping scandal that cost Gary Thomson, Ed Matracardi and others their jobs and cost RPV $950,000 in a settlement that doesn't include legal fees, court costs and the like. Since that time, Kate has rallied the party faithful, brought major donors back to the table and allowed us to remain competitive despite the type of setback that would kill a weaker organization. Thus, we need to remember what a precarious situation she was brought into.

Secondly, Kate has the support of our party leaders. You'll remember it was George Allen and Jerry Kilgore who turned to Kate in the first place and asked her to serve. No one would have blamed Kate for saying "no thanks" and staying in Winchester with her family. Fortunately for us, Kate cares about our party too much to stand by watching the GOP marginalize itself. Those who have worked with her know her to be hard-working, knowledgable, and committed to the shared principles of our Party and Commonwealth.

Finally, Kate is a powerful voice for the Virginia Republican Party. Not only does her name resonate with Virginians, but she has also been a forceful advocate for the VA GOP. In 2004 Kate served on the platform committee at the National Convention and she also was one of the GOP's most outspoken critics of Mark Warner's proposed tax increase at a time when many Republicans were unwilling to do so. There is no doubt that the budget debate put a tremendous strain on our Party, but thanks in part to Kate's strong leadership, we maintain control in the General Assembly and will likely hold two of the three statewide offices. For those who wish to claim that Kate was not hardline enough against those in our party who supported the tax raise, you are not in possession of the facts. She was outspokenly against those tax hikes at the risk of losing support of members of her party who were of not as strong a conviction.

Certainly the Chair of the Party organization takes some responsibility for our losses, and I believe Kate has accepted that. However, I also feel that replacing her at this time would be foolish and premature. Frankly, our Party fared pretty well in a very difficult political atmosphere this year. If we continue to lose ground in '06 and '07 then a change may be necessary, but as of now I am very proud to have Kate Obenshain Griffin representing our Party and I firmly believe she is the best person to continue to do so for the forseeable future.

Quite the Compliment

Let me start my SST blogging career by thanking Old Zach and the other members of SST for allowing me to join what is one of the preeminent Commonwealth blogs. In the days ahead, I look forward to being a part of what is quickly becoming the next generation of information dissemination, the indepent blog. While it is too soon to tell what the long-term effect blogging may have on political campaigns here in the Commonwealth, so far the ability to quickly fact-check and provide opinions outside of the MSM, it can only be positive.
A little about myself, or as much as is possible for an anonymous blogger. I was born and raised in Northern Virginia, and despite the jokes, consider myself both a native Virginian and a Northern Virginian. Additionally, though I'm sure you were already thinking it, I'm probably less conservative than the other members of SST on most issues. I chose the pseudonym "Madisonian" because I think it describes my philosophy towards politics: Remain true to your ideology, but recognize that governing is often about convincing and compromising. It's not enough just to believe in a principle; sometimes you have to find a way to compromise without losing the core of what you want.
While I'm sure not all agree, I think we will see the debate on this writ large in the coming year, as the Commonwealth's GOP comes face to face with the reality that our largest population centers (NoVa, Richmond, Va Beach) are trending back towards the center, or at least away from partisanship. Success is statewide politics may depend on an ability to make conservative ideals palatable to groups outside our base. At the very least, a Davis v. Gilmore primary would be a perfect example of this.
Again, thanks to the other members of SST for their warm welcome, and I look forward to contributing.

The Final Piece

When the founders of SST decided that we wanted to expand our blog to include some other voices, we wanted to make sure that we added some geographic and ideological diversity to our little slice of the blogosphere. I believe we have achieved that goal, even though it has meant sacrificing somewhat the pro-Hokie bent. I'd like to welcome yet another Wahoo, Madisonian, as the final piece of the SST expansion puzzle. We look forward to what they will bring to the table.

The Other Recount

Tyler Whitley at the RTD let's us know that the Marrs/Waddell race in Chesterfield's 68th will be settled on the same day as the AG race (December 20th). Marrs was defeated by 42 votes out of 26,886 cast. That's a larger margin than the AG race, but just as the AG recount is dangerously close for our guy, this one is similarly close for Waddell. As for who Waddell will sit with in the 06 session, I'm more than happy to wait till noon on the 20th (when this recount is expected to be done) to find out. By the way, Marrs is a Law-hoo (JD at UVA in 1985; BA from W&M 1982)so you can take a wild guess at who I'll be pulling for on 12/20.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Voices Crying Out in the Wilderness

One wouldn't blame the 5 Conservative Senators who make up the Republican Senate Victory PAC (RSVP for short) from feeling that way. On Tuesday, Jim Bowden of Bacon's Rebellion (hat tip to Norm) made a strong argument for conservative Republicans to support this group with any available resources.

As I said, in my review of the Advance, I had an opportunity to speak with each of these men at their Hospitality Suite and I was encouraged by what they had to say about their agenda to restore conservative principles to the State Senate. Unfortunately they can't do it alone, they need our help. Frankly, we must face the fact that, as of right now, there are three parties in the State Senate. We need more Cuccunellis, Martins, Newman, O'Briens and Obenshains in the Senate if we are going to restore fiscal sanity and conservative values to our Commonwealth.

I was impressed at how many people were packing the RSVP suite this weekend. Maybe those folks were just trying to get their hands on some free food and beer, but personally, I think many of the grassroots of our party are tired of Republican legislators rolling over at the first sign of trouble. They are hungry for individuals to stand up for our principles and present our agenda in a clear and common-sense way to the voters of Virginia. I applaud the efforts of these five men, I join them and I hope many of you will do the same.

Kilgore v. Boucher?

Waldo Jaquith drops an interesting nugget here that Jerry Kilgore may be pondering a run against Rick Boucher in the 9th District next year.

We have already heard from Chad that Bill Carrico is planning to run. I image he'd step aside if Jerry decided to jump in. On a related note, I spoke with Kevin Triplett at the Advance this past weekend and asked him whether he was considering another run. He said that the timing wasn't right for his family to get into another campaign so soon but that if Boucher is still around he may challenge him again. I was happy to hear that since I volunteerd for Triplett back in '04 and he made a very respectable showing for a first time candidate.

As far as the possibility of a Kilgore run, I think it would take a lot of guts to get back in the saddle that soon. I think folks in the Fightin' 9th would respect that and there might even be a sense of sympathy for the hometown boy. Considering the fact that in '04 Boucher gained the lowest % of the vote he has since being elected to Congress, Kilgore may have an excellent shot at pulling the upset. And lest you think this is another Jay Katzen in the making, I'll remind you that Katzen did not have nearly the ties to the district that Kilgore does.

I wouldn't blame Kilgore if he sat this one out, but if he took out Boucher he be immortalized in our Party for years to come. Simply the thought makes me smile.

Welcome to the Cool Kids Club

I'd like to welcome Too Conservative as the newest member of the Old Dominion Blog Alliance. As you can see, we've already added him to the sidebar so he won't have to wait several months like some other poor souls did (Sorry, guys!).

Chad says he has some ideas about where the ODBA might go from here. I'm interested to hear what they are. As far as new members go, I suggest that Elephant Ears, The RedStater, and Mason Conservative join the party too.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Proud to be the Party of Lincoln

There are two African American men seeking the gubernatorial nomination of the GOP for an '06 general election. Yesterday Mr. Dotson informed me that HoFer Lynn Swann announced he'd take on the former LG and the former GOP candidate for Governor Bill Scranton (son of the GOP moderate icon from the '60s) for the nod from the PA GOP. Of course he's not the only African-American seeking statewide office in '06. Michael Steele is poised to bleed a little bit of the blue out of Maryland's Congressional Delegation when he takes Paul Sarbanes seat just over the river. And Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell has been running for Governor since November 8th 2002. Blackwell is currently leading in the polls against GOP AG Jim Petro and GOP State Auditor Betty Montgomery.

I've always been proud that our Commonwealth was the first in the union to elect an African-American to be governor, even if that guy happened to have sat on the other side of the aisle. It makes sense that this American milestone came from the Old Dominion. Will the grandson of a Pakistani immigrant ever become Prime minister? Will the French ever rally behind someone of Algerian heritage? Probably not. Will an African American, whose ancestors came to this continent on a slave ship, within our lifetimes become President of the USA? Absolutely. And when she does, I believe she'll look back to men like Ken Blackwell, Doug Wilder, and Michael Steele and realize their extraordinary lives blazed her path. I'm excited to be awake enough to see it happen.

Of course, there's no affirmative action within the GOP. Both of these men have tough races ahead of them and to get to GOP nod you have to earn it. But just because Herman Cain didn't get the nomination for the '04 Senate contest in GA doesn't mean his candidacy wasn't a step forward. Blackwell, Cain, Steele, Swann (and hopefully someday soon Mr. Paul Harris) take rather large steps for themselves towards political power, but enormous leaps for the American people as a whole.

P.S. what are the good blogs to read to get a sense of what's going on in Ohio? Who is Ohio's Chad Dotson?

UPDATE:
Here's a Lynn Swann website, note it still talks about his run for Governor in the subjunctive. But it's official alright.