The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

On death and taxes

It looks like HB 40 was modified in Senate Finance today. HB 40 was conformed to the senate bill, SB 504, which will only lift the estate tax for estates over $10 million, or if the estate is primarily composed of a closely held business or working farm. This one is headed for conference.

I can't really expend a lot of emotion on the Virginia estate tax until we see what will be done with the federal tax when it goes back to $1 million threshold in 2011. I'm guessing the federal tax threshold will settle somewhere around $10 million.

Now, what really gets me fired up is HB 568 - the XM radio tax. Like everyone else, I got the XM email this morning. I did the math, and my total telecom tax will go from $9/month to $15/month.

The people who come out ahead on this one have POTS, traditional cable, and no XM. People who have DirecTV, VoIP, and/or XM, or who are in low tax localities, are going to pay more.

Spicing Up the Winter Olympics

Now here's an idea I can get on board with.

Hilarious.

William F. Buckley Throws in the Towel

This is rather shocking. I don't know how I missed it, but apparently last week the esteemed Mr. Buckley wrote this Op-ed piece for RealClearPolitics.com arguing that we have lost the War in Iraq.

Buckley states his belief that the ancient animosities between the Shiites and Sunnis are simply unconstrainable by American military forces and that we should bail on the Iraqi experiment in order to save our larger foreign policy vision. As he puts it:
It is healthier for the disillusioned American to concede that in one theater in the Mideast, the postulates didn't work. The alternative would be to abandon the postulates. To do that would be to register a kind of philosophical despair. The killer insurgents are not entitled to blow up the shrine of American idealism.

Frankly, I disagree. I do not believe that all is lost in Iraq. There will certainly be some periods that are more difficult than others, but I believe that victory, stability, and democracy are still attainable goals in Iraq and throughout the greater Middle East. In fact, I recently received an e-mail from a friend in Iraq who informed me that the talk of "civil war" was exaggerated hooey. Granted that was before today's events, but even so my friend is not given to flights of fancy or even harboring any political agenda.

While I certainly don't think it's a bed of wine and roses, I'm also not ready to give up just yet. Not when we have so many brave men and women out there putting their lives on the line to ensure our success.

SB 267 Tabled in Finance

Despite machinations of powerful WMATA and transportation lobbyists, Senator Mary Margaret Whipple's bill to support Tom Davis' federal metro money with a sales tax increase was tabled in House Finance today. This is the same bill which is drawing controversy over at NLS and in today's RTD and WaPo from Bill Leighty's truthiness in re: Mrs. Davis' vote. (She did vote for it).

But I find two other votes much more interesting. Today Delegate Tim Hugo voted "Nay" on the tabling, hoping to bring her to the full floor of the House (where he was sure to vote "yea"). In the Senate, after amending the bill to be enacted only if the federal money is secured, Senator Jay O'Brien voted for it.

O'Brien's vote is more interesting, in many ways, because I wouldn't imagine that capital improvements at Metro stations will do a dang thing for his constituents. If O'Brien voted for a bill to create a sales tax dedicated to widening the Fairfax County Parkway or Route 123, I wouldn't blink. But this almost seems like O'Brien is picking a transportation issue to step away from his fellow Senate conservatives so that he doesn't get branded as someone who refused to do anything for transportation.

Allen v. Webb: The Websites

At this early stage of the Senate campaign it is difficult to discern any distinct advantages (aside from incumbency) on either side. As a result I did a little web searching today to see what the candidates' websites have to offer.

Frankly, I was quite disappointed in Senator Allen's campaign website. Granted, there is tons of info available on his official Senate website, but as of now, the campaign website is sorely lacking. The graphics are pretty and there is the obligatory donation button, but not much else. The funniest part about this is that Allen devotes an entire section of the small site to saying what a leader he is on the Internet. For someone who professes to care so much about this forum of information and claims, at least in his mailings, to be taking this campaign seriously, his website does little to prove it.

The Webb-site (ha, ha) is not as pleasing to the eye, but much more substantial in terms of content. Webb has a lengthy bio detailing his impressive record of public service and literary accomplishments. Granted, that resume is probably Webb's greatest strength given his lack of any service in elective office, but it is impressive nonetheless. Also Webb has a good collection of links to news stories that give folks more information about him. They even link the National Review! All in all, it's a pretty good website for someone who has just gotten into the race so recently.

Of course, Webb's biggest problem might be convincing the Democratic establishment to embrace him. That problem was highlighted this morning by Governor Tim Kaine on WTOP when he indicated that he had not yet even recieved a cursory phone call from the candidate for the Democratic nomination for the US Senate. You can listen to those comments here.

Restoring Civility to the Blogosphere

Jaded JD looks to be back in action and I say "Welcome Back!" Jaded JD is one of the smartest bloggers in the biz and even though we don't agree on everything I'm glad to see him back trying to raise the level of debate.

Apparently his blogroll post has bruised the substantial ego of some VA politicos, and that's a good thing in my book. I generally agree with his rules and I have certainly tried to keep our blogroll short and constrained to the blogs that I read regularly and like. If that offends you, well, too bad.

As The Jaded JD fits those criteria, and not out of any obligation to reciprocate, you can see that I've already taken the step of putting him on our blogroll.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Thank God for Bob McDonnell

I'm sure many of you have seen this, but I loved hearing about this...thank goodness for those few hundred voters who made McDonnell the Attorney General instead of choosing someone who would have rubber stamped the Kaine administrations attempts at overruling the majority opinion of the state of Virginia on this issue:

Victoria Cobb, Executive Director, Family Foundation
Friday, February 24, 2006

Victory Alert: AG McDonnell Overrules Governor's Executive Order

Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell today issued a legal opinion stating that Executive Order No. 1, which included sexual orientation as a protected class in the Commonwealth's nondiscrimination policy, is unconstitutional. The executive order was one of Governor Warner's parting actions and Governor Kaine's first act as governor, signed immediately after taking the oath of office on January 14.

General McDonnell issued the opinion in response to a query by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13, Manassas) on the constitutionality of the executive order. The opinion states that the executive order aims to change public policy, which constitutionally, can only be changed through the legislative process.

McDonnell wrote in his opinion that the executive order was "permissible to the extent the Governor is ensuring that the laws are faithfully executed," but that the addition of protected class status to a particular group "was intended to, and in fact did, alter the public policy of the Commonwealth. It is further my opinion that changing the public policy of the Commonwealth is within the purview of the General Assembly; therefore, that portion of Executive Order No. 1 is beyond the scope of executive authority and, therefore, unconstitutional."

It was the third stinging rebuke to the homosexual lobby and their allies in state government in less than a month. Previously, the General Assembly defeated a bill to add sexual orientation and expression to the protected class in nondiscrimination policy not only for the state, but for local governments as well. The General Assembly also stripped similar sexual nondiscrimination language out of the state budget submitted in January by former Governor Mark Warner before his term expired. The insertion of such language into the budget by Warner was unprecedented, as he tried to get policy passed into law through the budgetary process where he could not through normal legislative means.

Reversing the Governor's a ctions and working to prevent similar legislastion has been a high priority for The Family Foundation this session.

McDonnell's office also played a role in the recent debate on the propose constitutional amendment defining marriage by defending the amendment's language amid attempts to water down its meaning and to delay the process of getting the amendment
cipating such an issue was impossible during his campaign, McDonnell's action today was consistent with his campaign plon the ballot.

Statement of the Port of Virginia: February 23, 2006

This is actually very reassuring to know. The state controls the port terminals in Virginia instead of renting them out:

Dubai Ports World (DP) a United Arab Emirates (UAE) state-owned company’s purchase of Peninsular and Oriental (P&O), a British company, has intensified the national discussion on ownership, operations and security at our nation’s ports. As demonstrated in the paragraphs below, DP’s purchase of P&O would not increase the security risk at The Port of Virginia.

To fully understand the implications of this purchase and its effect on port security in Virginia, one must first recognize the difference between a stevedore and a terminal operator, and understand how The Port of Virginia operates.

Terminal operators have access to all information contained in manifests, shipping records and bills of lading and control the movement of cargo through the marine terminal. Terminal operators are generally responsible for cargo from the time it enters the country until it is cleared by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and released to a trucking or rail company to leave the terminal. DP (P&O) will have terminal operations in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami and New Orleans.

The ports where DP (P&O) would control terminal operations are “landlord” ports. These ports lease land to a terminal operator which runs the terminal with little or no oversight from the authority.

Stevedoring companies generally load and unload cargo from ship-to-shore. Stevedoring companies are responsible for the movement of cargo around the interior of a marine terminal, but are not part of the transfer of cargo to outside trucking or rail companies. In some cases stevedoring companies may expand their services and provide complete terminal operations, in these cases they are also terminal operators. DP (P&O) will have stevedoring operations in Portland, ME; Boston; New York/New Jersey; Philadelphia; Wilmington, NC; Baltimore; Miami; and most Gulf coast ports from Freeport, Texas to New Orleans. In Virginia, P&O has a 50 percent ownership interest in CP&O, LLC, a stevedoring company. That ownership interest would transfer to DP. At The Port of Virginia, CP&O handles cargo but does not manage any portion of the port operations or data from VIT’s information systems.

Virginia is unique in the U.S. port industry. As a state agency, VPA owns the marine terminals and operates the terminals through Virginia International Terminals (VIT), a private, non-stock state corporation under the control of VPA. VIT controls the movement of cargo from the docks and through the gates. In addition to the control of cargo movement provided by VIT, VPA provides security at the facilities through the use of a state certified Police Department. These stabilizing conditions continue regardless of future changes in ownership of privately held maritime businesses.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

On Smoking Bans and Subcommittees

I'm glad to see the latest topic spreading across multiple Virginia blogs has everything to do with a bill, not much to do with scandal, and so far, nothing to do with prank phone calls.

The "Clean Indoor Air Act" (Senate Bill 648, patroned by Senator Brandon Bell, and also known popularly as "The Smoking Ban") indeed was defeated by a 6-0 vote of the ABC/Gaming Subcommittee of House General Laws on Thursday, in a very late meeting after the House finished up with its budget.

In December 2005, we all reported on the change to the House rules which will allow bills to be "PBI'd" in subcommittee, only to be brought in front of the full committee at a Chairman's discretion. As one would expect a change in the rules initiated by a Republican majority generated generally warm feelings from conservatives and generally cold feelings from liberals (which the MSM echoed at the time). Check out Tyler Whitley's piece from last Sunday's RTD for some more recent opinions.

But now we are met with the first real test for the new rule, a bill which people cared about. I mean, a lot of people followed this bill. A large, grassroots anti-smoking lobby, a powerful restaurant, hospitality and travel industry, and TV newsfolk that can get their heads around this simple, tangible, palpable, meat-a-licious topic.

Do yourself a a February favor, and read the Richmond Democrat's account of the day. I wasn't there, so I can't comment on the behavior of Dels. Wright and Albo, or anyone else in the room that Mr. Wilmore criticizes for their personal behavior/appearance. I do believe that he's wrong in assigning blame/credit for the densely packed room and the media coverage to the "secret" nature of the subcommittee. Like I said in the previous paragraph, this is a big story, and it's an easy story, and I think it was worth Rosalind Helderman's
or Christina Bellantoni's time regardless of whether or not she would've been able to look it up on the internet later that night.

Waldo started up some discussion over at his site, and I've joined in there. I'd like to bring it up here too, maybe getting a few more GOPers into the mix. Do we have a problem with a bill dying in front of a 6 person subcommittee? Factoring in the chairman's discretion, should 7 people in the House be able to end what at least 21 folks in the Senate began? Should subcommittee votes which result in a PBI be recorded? There are important questions here and those who favor the majority need to be responsible for answering them now. Someday, and some would say someday soon, we may not be in that situation, and we need to be prepared to fully own up to the precedent we set during our reign.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Smoking Ban defeated

Finally, an article that lays out the real reason to oppose a statewide smoking ban.

From what I've seen, the evidence is that where smoking is banned across a geographic market, there is little to no effect on restaurants or bars, since consumers can't choose between a smoking and non-smoking establishment.
Note the inherent contradiction -- the best that can be said is by eliminating choice, no one suffers disproportionately. Yippee!
I don't smoke, and I'm not a huge fan of that smell on my clothes after a night out. But eliminating that smell by government nannyism? Never. I'll just buy Febreeze.
(For an example of actual economic choice at work, just visit that great Virginia city Charlottesville. There is one bar on the downtown mall which prohibits smoking, and people who really don't like smoke go there. Problem solved.)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Transportation Funding Idea

I was mulling over the recent subcommittee vote in the GA and had a funding idea.

What if there was some way to only tax the people who rode Metro?

I'm not sure of the details but it's basically like this:
1) Figure out what it costs to operate Metro. What you would do is add up all of Metro's costs.
2) Figure out who rides Metro. I'm not sure if there should be surveys, or polls, or what.
3) Figure out some way of taxing people based on how often they ride Metro.

We could do the same thing for roads:
1) Figure out how much roads cost.
2) Figure out who uses the roads.
3) Tax people based on how often they use roads. You could even put some sort of device behind a car's rear-view mirror that could be scanned at different places on a road. If there is some item of consumption that people buy that roughly correlates to the amount they use roads, then you could tax that.

Conservatism breeds happiness

Over at RealClear Politics.com, George Will has written a humorous column addressing a recent poll that shows conservatives are more happy than liberals. Says Will:
Conservatives' pessimism is conducive to their happiness in three ways. First, they are rarely surprised -- they are right more often than not about the course of events. Second, when they are wrong they are happy to be so. Third, because pessimistic conservatives put not their faith in princes -- government -- they accept that happiness is a function of fending for oneself. They believe that happiness is an activity -- it is inseparable from the pursuit of happiness.
However, Will notes the best thing about this survey is that "this finding is niftily self-reinforcing: It depresses liberals." And that puts a smile on my face.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

10 Best and Worst Fictional Presidents

Check out this blog listing the 10 best and 10 worst fictional presidents of all time. It is an interesting list and there is certainly no shortage of other candidates that might be considered.

Personally, on the "worst" list I would add President Mike Brady played by actor Gary Cole in the TV movie "Brady Bunch in the White House." On the "best" list I'd add President Steve Rogers from the Marvel Comics universe. Steve Rogers is better known by his alter ego, Captain America.

Bloggers' Conference Call w/ Del. Wardrup

The guys over at Bearing Drift, One Man's Trash, Shaun Kenney and Commonwealth Conservative have the run down on last night's event. It sounds like some good things were discussed, particularly in the hot-button area of transportation. This is a great step for teh Virginia blogosphere that we hope will lead to many more like events.

We were glad to be invited to join in and regret we couldn't participate. I know at least Chad will forgive us though, since we had tickets to see UVA defeat #13 Boston College at U-Hall last night. Great game for the Hoos, especially J.R. Reynolds, who you might remember played against J.J. Redick in high school while a student at Roanoke Catholic.

Another Great J.J. Read

Pat Forde over at ESPN.com has written a fantastic article about J.J. Redick that gives tremndous insight into his life, his background, and his motivations. It talks a great deal about Redick's christian faith and reveals two tattoos that J.J. has under his jersey. The tattoos are two bible verses: Isaiah 40:31 and Joshua 1:9.

The first refers to this verse: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

The second refers to this verse: Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Redick also says, "I realize that any talent I have is a result of God's blessing."

It is a great article about a very impressive young man who seems able to keep a remarkably level head despite all of the furor surrounding him. Of course, none of this will dissuade bitter fans of other lesser teams from hating him, but it is nice to see someone who is able to suffer that abuse yet remain true to himself through it all.

Monday, February 20, 2006

George W. Bush is Harriet Miers

Over at NRO, John Derbyshire makes this interesting point about the problem that many conservatives have in truly embracing Dubya the way we did with Ronald Reagan. As Derbyshire says:
Reagan came out of an America whose commanding heights, cultural and political, were held by liberals. Yet he was a true conservative, of great principle and conviction. In the later America from which GWB emerged, conservative ideas were much more accessible & widespread, and there was a wider, deeper pool of real conservative from which the GOP might have chosen its presidential candidates. Yet here is a guy from that much-improved background, who is insouciant to, perhaps (I wouldn't personally rule it out) ignorant of, two of the most fundamental principles of modern conservatism: fiscal restraint and government limitation.
I can't disagree.

The Cheney Farce

Mason Conservative has a really good post about the MSM's rediculous behavior surrounding the whole Cheney shooting episode. Honestly, the media are acting like spoiled, self-absorbed children desperately trying to make sure that everyone's attention is focused solely on them. It is true that Cheney should have come out right away to apologize for his mistake but the media are trying to turn a hunting accident into a metaphor for the entire Bush administration, which is beyond absurd.

The funny thing is that the traditional media is so threatened by the emergence of cable news and the internet, that they actually seem to be accelerating their demise by switching into desperation mode trying to create sensational stories (See Katrina death tolls) that will prove their relevance.

Meanwhile, as the MSM heralds the demise of the Republican party, the majority of Americans are looking around at thousands of new jobs, lower taxes, a booming economy, relatively low interest rates, gas prices that are back to reasonable levels, and most importantly, no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11. Basically, Americans are pretty happy right now, but you wouldn't know it from reading, watching, and listening to the MSM.

Happy President's Day

Today is President's Day, that much is for certain. What isn't for certain is exactly what today is supposed to celebrate. Most people think of today as celebrating the birthday of our first President, George Washington, who was actually born on Feb. 22. In fact the U.S. Code refers to the holiday as "Washington's Birthday."

Many others believe it honors both Washington and Lincoln, who was born on Feb. 12. Still others believe it is intended to honor all U.S. Presidents. Still, for many people, all that matters is that it means a day off from work.

The confusion behind this holiday is detailed in depth here. To celebrate, honor your favorite U.S. President in the comments section.

Best Ever.

Yesterday, J.J. Redick passed Johnny Dawkins to become the all-time leading scorer in Duke basketball history. That is an impressive record to hold for a school that has accomplished so much in college baskeball. Appropriately, the NCAA's all time leading 3-point shooter grabbed the Duke scoring title with none other than a 3-pointer.

Love him or hate him, you can't argue with J.J.'s accomplishments at Duke. He has certainly secured his spot in the pantheon of Duke ballers and his jersey will soon hang from the rafters at Cameron Indoor. Whether or not J.J. makes it in the NBA, he is now and forevermore one of the greatest players to ever don the blue and white.

I look forward to enjoying J.J.'s game for a few more weeks and I'll be rooting for him to go out on top in the NCAA tournament.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cheney speculation

John J. Miller over at NRO has a great article speculating on the fate of the Vice Presidency should Dick Cheney decide to step aside for any reason. Miller floats some interesting possibilities such as Condi Rice, Mitch Daniels, Bob Dole and John Roberts. Here are some more, just for fun:

Newt Gingrich
Marc Racicot
Jack Kemp
John Ashcroft
Alberto Gonzalez
Dan Quayle (just because)

Still, as much fun as it is to speculate, an astute friend of mine asked me the following question this weekend, "Why would we want Cheney to step down?" Her point: Cheney is loathed by the left and basically acts as a heat shield for Bush. Everytime some hot-button issue arises, Cheney gets dispatched to defend the administration policy and take the slings and arrows from the media and the left. Then, once the policy seeds are sufficiently sown, the President comes in to reap the harvest.

Not a bad strategy.

Hokie wins at Daytona

This afternoon Jimmy Johnson was the driver who finished at the front of the Daytona 500 field, but it was a 1998 graduate of Virginia Tech who was guiding the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet team to victory lane.

After Johnson's crew chief, Chad Knauss, was suspended for cheating this past week, team engineer Darian Grubb was selected as his replacement. Grubb is a native of Floyd, Virginia and, according to the Roanoke Times, attended VT from 1993-1998 graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering. Today was Grubb's first race as a NASCAR Nextel Cup crew chief, though he may get another shot at it next week if NASCAR extends Knauss' suspension.

In other Virginia NASCAR news, Emporia, Virginia's Elliott Sadler finished the Dayton 500 in 4th place after an up and down day that saw him lead the race at one point then fall well back in the field before regaining position towards the end.

Other Virginia drivers Denny Hamlin, Jeff Burton, and Hermie Sadler finished 30th, 32nd, and 40th respectively.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Senate Bill Seven Zero Eight

Typing it all out like that makes it sound more menacing, doesn't it? SB 708 is the Senate Leadership's transportation tax package, and it passed through the Senate on Friday 34-6, after over an hour of debate, which I had the pleasure of watching via the closed circuit TV capacity of the General Assembly Building. This post is mostly about my impressions of the legislation as formed by the debate. Go here to read Jim Bacon's assessment as to why this is the "The Worst of All Conceivable Solutions."


Every Senator, including Charles Hawkins and Ken Cuccinelli who started the festivities off, noted the bill was sure to pass by a safe margin. "I'm sure you won't be casting a tie-breaking vote on this one Mr. President [Lt. Governor Bolling]," said the Good Senator from Western Fairfax as he launched into his reserved questions for the Senator from Pittsylvania (Hawkins) and the Senior Senator from Fairfax (Saslaw). Saslaw did most of the legwork in defending the gas tax increase against the rhetorical assaults from Cuccinelli, Obenshain, and Martin. Seantor Watkins stepped out and defended the grantor's tax increase, though it understandably drew much less fire. Senators Hawkins and Deeds made interesting points about being the two members of the dirt road caucus (Hawkins: I'm the only one here who lives on a dirt road, which is off of another dirt road) and casting these votes for the sake of the entire Commonwealth and not their own self-interests. The strongest points made in favor of the bill came from Senator Marty Williams, of Newport News, and the Junior Senator from Virginia Beach, Senator Wagner, who tied the increased funding for Hampton Roads area projects is tied to promises made to the federal government which need to be kept in faith in calendar year 2006, or the region loose important federal matching funds and face future challenges in retaining the sizable presence of the U.S. military in the area. Williams also noted increased efficiency in VDOT over the past four years which should give those of us paying the tax more comfort.

I don't like this bill, but not because I just throw any tax increase out the window without really trying to get my head and heart around it first. I really just don't trust these large hodgepodge omnibus revenue packages which squeeze a little money here, pinch a little more from there, and shake down a few of the little guys. Senator Martin spent a good deal of his time talking about the queerness of the tax plan, and it's odd rebate structure, and Senator Cuccinelli joined in to say that the people least likely to fill out those forms and seek a rebate on their fuel purchases from the Tax Commissioner are those who are most in need of that money. Cuccinelli also stood up for those who would get hit hardest by the "abuser fees" and encouraged everyone to have a sense of compassion for those who'll end up getting hit by a ticket which costs his half a month's pay, when he's just driving the same speed that the rest of us do everyday up and down these highways.

I felt that the Senate's regular conservatives who spoke against this measure were very polite, very professional, and really kept the tone of the debate as just that, a debate. I was taken aback when Senator Tommy Norment, the floor leader of the Senate who is generally the guy who'll keep this sort of stuff over on the house side, put Martin in his sights and accused him of not having the right to ask questions for failure to submit his own transportation package.

The entire bill can be read here, at the General Assembly's website. Go here for the fiscal impact statement. Go here for the PDF version of the bill, which is the one that the members of the House who get their paws on this bill will have. There's a lot of interesting stuff in this bill, and people on both sides of both the aisles (moderate and conservative, D & R, even rural and suburban) have to pick up their pens and go through the bill, line for line, strike what they don't like, add what they'd like to see, and get involved in the debate.

And one more thing. Senator Fred Qualye threw out some numbers and said that the monthly burden on a driver caused by our new gas tax would be "the cost of one Super Value meal at Mac-Donald's, and looking around this chamber and looking at the people I see walking down the street out here in Richmond, I think everyone can part with one Mac-Donlad's Super-Value meal a month."

UPDATE

Riley Not O'Reily, who is Alfred to Vincent Thoms' Young Master Wayne over at TC, has the press release from Senate Transportation Committee Chair Mary Williams (R-Newport News).

Remembering #3

February 18, 2001 is a day race fans will never forget. It is the day we lost Dale Earnhardt.

The life and death of Dale Earnhardt have almost single-handedly made NASCAR the incredible success story that it is today. When Earnhardt went into the wall at Daytona five years ago, NASCAR was more popular than it had ever been and was the fastest growing sport in the country. The sport's growth and popularity have only increased since then.

Earnhardt was both loved and hated by NASCAR fans, but everyone respected his talent and recognized his greatness. His untimely death forever secured Earnharadt's place in the hearts and minds of America's race fans. It is possible that some of Earnhardt's records could be broken, but no one will ever replace Dale Earnhardt.

Today we honor the life of Dale Earnhardt.

Check the Roanoke Times for more.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Reagan '08: Tanned, Tested and Ready

Courtesy of RealClearPolitics.com comes this article floating the idea that the 2008 GOP nomination is going to come down to one question: Who can successfully take up the mantle of Ronald Reagan?

The article notes the difficult task that GOP candidates will face of associating with President Bush's tough stance in the war on terror, while distancing themselves from Bush's big government domestic agenda.

Frankly, I feel that George Allen is the most well-positioned Republican candidate to bridge this gap. However, it will certainly be interesting to see how each of the candidates attempt to walk that line.

Prelude to Daytona

Today's Gatorade Duals at Daytona will finally give us race fans relief from the long winter when 58 Nextel Cup Drivers participate in two 150 mile races to determine the final field for Sunday's Daytona 500. The Duals start at 2:00 on TNT.

In the meantime, if you need to brush up on who to watch this weekend. check out NASCAR.com's Power Rankings.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Epaminondas of Thebes

Well, this post is waaaaaay outside the purview of the 2006 General Assembly, but I just wanted to note that Wednesday's "Featured Article" on the main page of The Wikipedia was Epaminondas of Thebes, my favorite figure from antiquity.

Back to the present, Speaker Howell has all the bills communicated out of the Senate assigned to committee now (as does Madam Clerk in the Senate). Let the bodies hit the floor, gentleman.

Jeff Schapiro Doesn't Get It

Norm points us the this RTD blog entry from reporter Jeff Schapiro. In it, Schapiro says that Gilmore's re-emergence has put the J-O-Y in conservative bloggers' hearts. He also says that this blog "generally welcome[s] Gilmore's draw-a-line-in-the-sand brand of politics."

Either Schapiro has never read this blog before yesterday, or he's just being lazy. I am not a fan of slash and burn politics and I don't think anyone on this blog is. Frankly, I am an admittedly biased Allen supporter which means Jim Gilmore isn't exactly my favorite guy in the world. I doubt I'd support him for Governor in '09 even if he ran. What I do believe in, however, is giving credit where it is due.

As I said yesterday, I didn't go into yesterday's meeting expecting much from Gilmore, but I was wrong. Gilmore made some very astute observations and I feel he should get credit for them. Schapiro's comment is condescending and implies that anyone who dares agree with anything Gilmore says is guilty of petty partisanship.

We are not a "my-way-or-the-highway" blog. We don't go slinging the term "RINO" around like some others do. And we don't throw fellow Republicans under the bus just because we disagree with them. Maybe Schapiro just doesn't like the fact that we don't embrace his personal folk hero, Russ Potts. But I don't think its an extreme position to say that someone who treats the GOP the way Potts has shouldn't be able to retain the advantages of his Party membership. Otherwise, the party labels are meaningless.

Staples 413 Three Pointers Record Falls

Of all the records JJ had to break, did he have to break this one? It was really neat to see Curtis Staples on hand and in the crowd, congratulating JJ and presenting him with the game ball after the game. Staples was a class act at UVA and a great player to watch. He was a freshman the last time UVA went deep into the NCAA tournamet (Elight Eight in 1995).

Iraq has been peppered with Cheney's munitions. Whittington has been peppered with Cheney's munitions.

Juan Cole thinks he's cute with his top ten comparison of Cheney's decisions in Iraq to Cheny's shooting Harry Whittington. I don't endorse them, but they are rather amusing while simultaneously infuriating.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Conservative Romance

That might sound like a contradiction in terms but the folks over at National Review don't think so. They are getting in the Valentine's Day spirit by naming their favorite conservative love stories.

The last one is my favorite. When in doubt, go to the source.

Gilmore Gets It

Ok, I mentioned before that I had the opportunity to hear Gov. Gilmore's remarks to the Tuesday Morning Group this morning. I must admit that I was skeptical going into this thing. I have frankly never been a big fan of Gilmore's. Like many, I believe that Gilmore was elected in 1997 based mainly on two things, George Allen's popularity and Boyd Marcus' genius "No Car Tax" campaign slogan. Further, many people also credit Gilmore's stubbornness over repealing the car tax with Mark Earley's defeat by Mark Warner.

Needless to say, I had some low expectations. In fact I fully expected Gilmore to join those voices placing the blame for recent GOP struggles at the feet of the RPV, which has proved a convenient scapegoat for those few who are more interested in pointing fingers than thinking through the party's problems. Well, to my pleasant surprise, I was wrong.

Norm has already covered Gilmore's remarks in depth, so I'll try to keep from repeating his post. Last week in this post, I said that if our candidates keep running like Republicans and governing like Democrats, then voters will cease to have any reason to vote for Republicans. Gilmore said pretty much the same thing today, saying Republicans are sending the voters "mixed messages." Gilmore also indicated the belief that Northern Virginia is not completely lost to Republicans (and as he did quite often during his speech, pointed to himself as an example). He stressed the importance of ideas in convincing voters and winning elections.

I tend to agree with Gilmore that personalities are not enough for Republicans to win in Virginia. I don't know anyone who has said they didn't like Kilgore as a person, but I know lots of people who didn't vote for him. It is important to understand that Republicans are not a majority party in Virginia in terms of voters, we are a plurality. There are many voters in Virginia who are willing to vote for either Democrats or Republicans, and it is the "ideas" that Gilmore talks about which will bring them to our side. Gilmore made a comment about not nominating candidates simply because it is "their turn." I agree that it is important that we have competition in our party, not coronation. Yet that competition must be civil, and within reasonable bounds. It does us no good to reward those who do nothing but undermine Republican efforts, just as it does no good to leave good Republicans high and dry over minor differences.

Finally, Gilmore offered a few suggestions on how we might fix the political process in Virginia. They aren't necessarily new ideas, but it is rare to hear them from an insider like Gilmore. The three major proposals he floated were 1) eliminating the seniority-based leadership system, 2) implementing party registration, and 3) removing the one-term limit for Governors.

One thing is certain after hearing Gilmore today: He's running for something. I don't know if Gilmore is preparing to run for John Warner's seat in '08 or if he's preparing to make a comeback bid for the Governorship, but it's obvious that he hasn't been using his time off from politics idly.

Virginia's NASCAR Heritage

While Virginia will unfortunately not be selected as the site of the future NASCAR Hall of Fame, the Commonwealth has a rich racing history nonetheless. In preparation for the start of the new season, NASCAR.com has been counting down with a racing history of all 50 states. Today the Old Dominion is in the spotlight.

NASCAR.com looks at the accomplishments of some of the sport's great Virginians such as two-time champ Joe Weatherly, the Burtons, Sadlers, and Woods', Ricky Rudd, Rick Mast and Curtis Turner. They also highlight Virginia's two current tracks, Martinsville and RIR, and some past tracks such as Langley Speedway, Old Dominion Speedway, and my personal favorite, the New River Valley Speedway.

One thing they fail to point out is Virginia's distinguished NASCAR racing team, Morgan McClure Motorsports. The #4 team has been racing in NASCAR since 1983 and has featured such drivers as Mark Martin, Ernie Irvan, Sterling Marlin, Bobby Hamilton, and now its newest driver, Scott Wimmer. While the classic yellow paint scheme is a thing of the past, Morgan McClure has a bright future with one of NASCAR's most talented young drivers.

Outraged Muslims Brutalize Fast Food Icons

Oh, the humanity!

Check out this picture from Reuters showing Muslims torching the figure of Ronald McDonald. Colonel Sanders wasn't spared either. What's next? The Hamburgler stripped naked and bound in chains? The Burger King having his enormous head chopped off? The Taco Bell dog being served for lunch?

This gives new meaning to the term "Fry Guys."

(Hat tip to Michelle Malkin)

Tuesday Morning Group

Today I attended my first session of the Tuesday Morning Group and it was a good one. The main draw this morning was Former Gov. Jim Gilmore. Norm over at One Man's Trash, whom I finally had a chance to meet, has a good rundown of Gilmore's remarks. I'll have more on my reactions later this evening, but for now, go see what he has to say.

Why Is Jim Webb a Democrat?

Over at NRO, Mackubin Thomas Owens has an interesting column analyzing why this former Reagan administration official has switched teams. Owens warns that, if Webb can get the nomination, Allen "is likely to be in for the fight of his life."

Saint Valentine Is No Friend Of Mine

I'll keep this rant brief, but suffice it to say that today marks the worst holiday ever conceived by humankind. Even worse than Arbor Day.

Valentines Day is nothing more than a vast conspiracy by the merchandisers of chocolates, flowers, greeting cards and teddy bears to make husbands and boyfriends feel guilted into spending ungodly sums of money on frivolities. V-Day also makes single folks feel like social pariahs by parading everyone else's happiness in front of them in a ritual shaming.

Not that I'm bitter or anything, but I think I'll spend the evening wearing black, watching Carrie, and listening to She Hates Me on repeat.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Bacon's "Breakthrough" in Transportation

Always a must-read, this Jim Bacon article from the latest Rebellion reminds all of us that we don't have to fight harder to derail this biennium's tax hike- we have to fight smarter.

Allen the '08 Pick of Conservatives

According to a poll taken at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, conservatives selected Virginia Senator George Allen as the most likely Republican nominee of President in 2008. Allen grabbed 22% of the vote while Arizona Senator John McCain came in 2nd with 20%. The only other names in double figures were Rudy Giuliani with 12% and Condoleezza Rice with 10%.

It is important to note that the poll asked who respondents thought would get the nomination, not who they themselves would choose. The phrasing of the question could affect the results in several ways. First, it weighs heavily in favor of whomever is getting the most current publicity. McCain's high name ID helps there. For Allen, proximity to the event, along with the recent VA Governor's race, may put him at the forefront of many minds at this point. In addition, the question could depress votes for candidates that people think won't get into the race, such as Giuliani and Rice. Finally, given McCain's rocky relationship with conservatives, it's hard to believe that he would get 20% if the CPAC attendees were asked who they would support for the nomination.

The other factor that must be considered in analyzing the results is the fact that 81% of respondents were between the ages of 18-25 which is obviously a drastically different demographic from those who will actually be choosing the nominee. Even so, it is good to see a youth movement behind Senator Allen to supplement the accolades he has received from higher-profile conservative stalwarts.

A Breath of Fresh Air

While the rest of the Virginia blogosphere is sucks in the noxious fumes of a wonderful new NLS scandal, I'd like to draw everyone's attention to the long and hard fought victory that Senator Brandon Bell won today on behalf of non-smoking sourpusses everywhere in the Commonwealth.

I don't smoke. I never have. I never will. I don't even smoke cigars!

But I agree with Senator Charles Hawkins (R-Pittsylvania), who hasn't had a cigarette in 25 years, when he says that it is not only an absurd trespass on the rights of restaurant owners and smoking patrons, but also the non-smoking patrons who just think that smokers are more fun.

The nay votes were the regular conservatives, the rural Democrats, and the Senate leadership (who probably were angling for a substitute tax bill to squeeze it to death).

I'm fairly confident the house will stop this measure, but I'd hate for a silly frivolous tabloid story to distract us while our right to pursue happiness is being ground into the ash tray of the nanny state.

Also is this first time in this GA session that Cuccinelli and Chichester have been on the same side of a controversial proposal?

President Black Bush

Man, I miss Dave Chappelle.

Go watch this video depicting a comedic view of how life would be different if President Bush was black. If you can't laugh at this, you have no sense of humor.

Greatest. Movie. Ever.

Ok, maybe that's going a little far, but if you haven't yet heard about the upcoming movie Talladega Nights, I guarantee it is going to be HI-larious. The trailer has finally hit cyberspace and you can watch it here.

This trailer has it all: Martinsville Speedway, Will Farrell in his underwear, a Captain America T-shirt, a Tom Cruise reference, the #22 Caterpillar car, a faux Frenchman, a car wreck and a nod to Chuck Norris. What more is there?

Cheney Should Resign

First of all, this has nothing to do with this weekend's hunting accident.

I'm just not really sure what all Dick Cheney is actually doing as Vice President. He never speaks in public, he only shows up on the radar screen when something goes wrong, and he doesn't really help the President or the Party in any tangible way. Sure, he's had a great record of public service and I personally respect and admire him a great deal, but to be honest he's just filling a chair at this point.

Seriously, Condi Rice seems like the one making the most headlines in the Administration outside of Dubya. The Constitution says precious little about the role of the Vice President, so why not just have Cheney resign and have Bush appoint Condi as Veep while keeping her job as Secretary of State. Think about it. The first female and African-American Vice President. It'd be great. I think Condi would be a tremendous Veep.

Of course, if it's not feasible for Condi to hold both positions at once for whatever reason, I'm sure Bush could just concoct some Roveian scheme to appoint someone that would throw a wrench in the Dems '06 plans. It could be just the spark that Dubya needs.

Big Weekend for Virginia Drivers

Last weekend proved to be a very successful one for Virginia-born NASCAR drivers. Most prominently, South Boston-native Jeff Burton won the pole position for this sunday's Daytona 500 (aka the Super Bowl of Racing). Following close behind him was Emporia-native Elliott Sadler who had the fourth-fastest time in qualifying. Elliott's brother Hermie Sadler had the 20th fastest qualifying time but does not have a guaranteed spot and must try to race into the field in Thursday's Gatorade 150 duals.

Also making waves this weekend was Chesterfield native Denny Hamlin, who won Sunday's Budweiser shootout driving the #11 Chevy for Joe Gibbs racing. I was happy for Joe Gibbs winning the Nextel Cup campionship last year, but I've never been a big Tony Stewart fan, so it's nice to have someone on Gibbs' team to root for. However, it is a little weird that Hamlin is a few weeks younger than my little brother.

Finally, I must voice my displeasure that my favorite driver, Ward Burton, continues to sit on the sidelines while many less experienced drivers get the chance to drive in the Nextel Cup. Ward is the brother of Jeff Burton and the 2002 winner of the Dayton 500. With all the young bucks in NASCAR, it's depressing that no one is willing to give an old hand a chance to drive.

A Tax on being healthy

Though its of a more national flavor, the following article struck me as truly outrageous. This article by Sebastian Mallaby in the WaPo's Op-ed page is in opposition to the President's Health Savings Accounts. The passage that raised my ire was:

"In sum, health savings accounts are not just about ending the tax bias in favor of traditional company health plans. The administration is proposing a new kind of 401(k), and using it as an inducement to quit low-deductible insurance. Rich people, who gain most from the tax breaks on saving, will be first to sign on; healthy people, who subsidize sicker people in company health plans, will be right behind them. Their exit may force traditional health plans into a death spiral. The loss of the subsidy from healthy workers will drive premiums up, which will drive more healthy people into health savings accounts, which will drive premiums up further." (emphasis added)

And you thought taxes on income didn't make a lot of sense; apparently liberals now want to prevent the President from ending a tax on health. I wholeheartedly agree: let's penalize people for being healthy. If you exercise, eat right, don't smoke, etc. you should have to pay.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Warner dubbed "Governor Nobody"

The London Times newspaper has an interesting article today about the race for the Democratic nomination in 2008. The paper continues the trend of portraying Hillary Clinton as the favored candidate of Democratic activists but as someone who many feel is unelectable.

In response, former Virginia Governor Mark Warner is floated as the moderate alternative to Clinton that could help the Dems recapture the White House. The Times also compared Warner to Tony Blair, a comparison that Warner encouraged. However they also quoted someone who was considering supporting Warner as saying, "I don’t know a thing about him and I don’t care."

That's not particluar encouraging praise for a Presidential candidate.

Olympic Update

The Winter Olympics got underway on Friday evening with the Opening Ceremonies from Turin, Italy (Yes it is "Turin" in English, not "Torino")

After the first weekend of competition, the Norweigians have lapped the field with 7 total medals. However, only one of Norway's medals is of the Gold flavor. The United States is tied with host nation Italy, Russia and the Netherlands for second place with 3 medals each. The U.S. is tied for 1st place in the Gold medal count with 2 Golds so far. Germany also has 2 Golds, their only medals so far.

You can follow the medal count here, since we all know the Olympics are really about who comes home with most doughnuts.

Happy B'day Abe

Today I had the pleasure of attending a ceremony honoring the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln. The ceremony was held at the Lincoln family graveyard just outside of Broadway, Virginia. It may surprise some to know that the Lincoln family has very deep roots in the Shenandoah Valley. The location of the family graveyard is close to where Lincoln's father was born and lived before the family moved to Kentucky. Many of the President's relatives are buried there, including his great-grandfather and his cousin, who was also named Abraham Lincoln.

The ceremony was conducted by Bridgewater College President Phillip C. Stone.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Support the Danes

As one of the foremost political commentators on the blogosphere today, it is no surprise that one of my personal favs, Michelle Malkin, is all over the controversy surrounding a series of Danish cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammed.

If you are not familiar with the controversy or have only heard bits and pieces of what it is all about, I encourage you to read Michelle's site thoroughly for the full scoop and many, many helpful links. If you just want to see quickly what all the fuss is about, you can see the 12 cartoons here.

The reaction to this so-called controversy is out of control. There is nothing about these cartoons that justifies retaliation against the people of Denmark or their government. In fact there is much that we Americans can love about the Danes. To quote my father, "Much like the Dutch, they are a liberal nation in the classic tradition of English liberalism of Adam Smith, Edmund Burke et als. Like the Dutch, they resisted the Nazi occupation during WWII in numerous ways."

My dad is a pretty smart guy, and I agree that we should support the Danes for having the courage to invite a healthy debate on the freedom of speech and the dangerous role of certain radical sects of the Islamic faith in the world today. Michelle Malkin agrees and, along with some other bloggers, has arranged a BUY DANISH campaign to voice our eceonomic support for the Danish people. One can also visit this Support Denmark site.

Simply put, any villianization of the Danes as insensitive bigots or some other such nonsense is both unwarranted and serves only to inflame, not to resolve. Symbols of Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and other religions are constantly reproduced in various ways throughout popular culture that might be interpreted as offensive to many of those religions' adherents. Yet, you don't see Christians, Jews, or Buddhists rioting in the streets and calling for the heads of those responsible when it happens. To accept such a reaction by some groups of Muslims as reasonable is to encourage similar responses to perceived "offenses" in the future.

That is unacceptable cowardice.

Rarer than the Dodo

That would be a Congressman offering to give up his paycheck.

However, that is exactly what Senator George Allen is proposing as a solution to Congress' annual failure to approve a federal budget on-time. Allen presumes, probably correctly, that if it were the Congress' own paychecks at risk, the work would likely get done much more expediently.

Along with proposals to resurrect the line-item veto and his strong opposition to internet taxation, Allen is singing music to economic conservative ears. Could it be that Allen is shrewdly trying to distance himself from rash of money-loving Capitol Hill scandals, or is it simply that he's finally finding his niche in Washington as an heir to the Reagan-conservative mantle?

Time will tell.

House GOP proposes transportation fund

From todays WaPo on the House GOP's plan to establish a transportation fund without the broad tax increases proposed by Kaine and the Senate Republocrats. (I'm not normally given to name calling, but I thought the one thing all Republicans could agree on was lower taxes, lower spending. We may fight on abortion, religion, etc. but when did we abandon lower taxes?)

As a resident of Northern Virginia, I'm all for spending more money on roads -- if you've never lived there, you can't possibly understand how big a mess it is. Without exaggeration, "Rush Hour" lasts from 7-10 AM, and 4:30-7:30 PM. And that's if there are no accidents.

On a related note, while I'm sure we talked about this before, what was the logic for rejecting the regional plans Gov. Warner proposed, which would allow localities to tax themselves, if they chose, to pay for transportation? I'd vote against a tax increase normally, but if I knew the money would ONLY go to road projects around DC, I might vote for it.

UPDATE: In the comments, Will Vehrs has asked for a Northern Virginia road priority list, so I thought I'd see if any other NoVaites had thoughts.
My list: Expedite I66 widening, Widen Rt. 7, Rt. 50. I'd also like to see the parking lots expanded at Metro Stations Vienna, East and West Falls Church and Dunn Loring (though this may be a federal issue). Oh, and of course Metro to Dulles.

State tuition for some illegals

Today's WaPo has the story about Sen. Hanger's amendment which would essentially exclude children of illegals whose parents have paid state taxes (and who are themselves seeking legal residency) to receive in-state tuition.

At first blush, I think I'm in favor of this proposal. Ignoring the legal/illegal question, in-state tuition is meant to benefit those students whose parents have paid state taxes. And so long as the student is seeking legal residency, I think in-state tuition is appropriate. Otherwise, aren't we punishing children "for the sins of their father"? Should a student who graduated from a Virginia high school, is seeking legal residency and whose parents pay state taxes receive that benefit?

(Side question: How can you be an illegal immigrant, pay taxes, and have no one notice your illegal status? I just did my taxes and was worried I might get audited for over-deducting my moving expenses)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Politics of Defeat

As bad as things may have seemed for the Virginia GOP recently, the way things are going in the General Assembly they could get a lot worse, and I'm not just talking about 2007.

While Virginia's economic growth has resulted in piling up massive surpluses and leaving Virginians feeling relatively comfortable, two things have been happening in Richmond. First, a coalition of Democrats and Republicans have set about imposing the largest tax increases in the history of the Commonwealth and moving Virginia steadily up the chart in terms of the average tax burden per resident. Second, the state legislature has been fattening itself and its friends on bigger and bigger budgets full of spending projects designed to reward special interests.

One of these days, Virginia's voters are going to wake up and look at their tax bills in shock and then they'll feel the oppressive hand of excessive regulation and the poor quality of government-provided services and they're going to be angry. Then the next thing they'll do is look at who was in charge while all this taxing and wasteful spending was going on and they'll see it was the GOP.

Of course, just like every election cycle, the GOP will say they are the party of fiscal responsibility and limited government, then most of them will go right back to Richmond and start taxing and spending all over again.

Folks, this is not meant to be an indictment of the Republican Party, it is meant to be a wake-up call. If we Republicans continue to elect those who do nothing but act like Democrats, then we'll have no one to blame but ourselves when voters get fed up and decide to just start electing the Democrats. There are precious few Republicans in Virginia today who are willing to campaign and vote the same way. While we may not feel it today or even very soon, following a two-faced philosophy (one in Richmond and one back home) is a surefire recipe for defeat in our future.

UVA Crime

Check out this guy being a good representative of Mr. Jefferson's University. Beware those UVA hat-wearing hooligans. Wahoowa.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Online Town Hall meeting with AG Bob McDonnell

Looks like the live-blogging event over at Commonwealth Conservative was a great success. This is a great development in blogging and government and we look forward to future iterations. Read all about it here.

Republican Roanoke

Not Larry Sabato and GOPHokie are talking about something close to my heart, the Roanoke Valley. NLS looks at voter data that shows a growing Republican trend in the greater Roanoke region, which he defines as Roanoke city, Roanoke county, Salem city, Botetourt county, Franklin county, and Craig county. While the trend did not benefit Jerry Kilgore as much as one might have thought, it seems that the pivot point between the Shenandoah Valley and the Great Southwest is growing redder while NoVa gets bluer.

GOPHokie says a strong independent streak in the region is one reason why Kilgore couldn't replicate Bush's success in the area, but that local races confirm the trend evident in the Presidential numbers.

While I wouldn't rely entirely on the '04 numbers as evidence of Republican strength in the region, I think they are probably generally accurate. However the differences between the vote counts for Bush and Kilgore simply confirm that each campaign, and candidate, is different and the GOP can't expect to throw any name out there and win.

As far as the reasons for Kilgore's performance, that is less obvious. Certainly the dreaded SWVA accent probably wasn't as much of a turn-off in Roanoke as it might have been in NoVa, so that should indicate that the sound of Kilgore's voice probably wasn't much of issue in the race. Instead, I think the results show that most residents of the Roanoke Valley are generally happy with their quality of life. Just like voters were wary of changing horses midstream in the War on Terror in '04, they were equally wary of switching teams on the state level in the midst of relatively good times in the Commonwealth. While Kilgore did win the region, increasing on Mark Early's totals, that indicates only the strength of the GOP base in the Roanoke Valley, while the margin indicates the Kilgore campaign's failure to convince swing voters that their candidate would be better at continuing the good times than his opponent.

By the way, if any of you disgruntled NoVa GOPers are considering a move to the Roanoke Valley based on recent election results, we'd prefer you just stay where you are. We don't need NoVa creeping any farther south.

Redick Report

Virginia native and Cave Spring High School graduate J.J. Redick had 35 points last night in leading #2 Duke to victory over arch-rival North Carolina in Chapel Hill. That was the most points ever by a Duke player against UNC in a game at Chapel Hill. Redick was 5-10 from 3 and perfect at the free throw line as Duke blew a 17 point lead then came back from 5 points down in the final minutes to win 87-83.

J.J.'s 2,459 career points are now only one point behind Christian Laettner for 5th-place on the ACC all-time scoring list and 128 points behind Dickie Hemric's 2,587 points at Wake Forest. If he contines at his average pace of 28.4 points per game, Redick should pass Hemric just after halftime in the game against Temple on Feb. 25, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was sooner.

Though Pete Maravich's NCAA record 3,667 career points don't appear to be in jeopardy, Redick's 408 career three-pointers rank 2nd all time in the ACC and third all-time in the NCAA behind Curtis Staples' 413. I wouldn't be surprised to see Redick hit at least five 3's this saturday in College Park. Redick's career .921 free-throw percentage remain an ACC and NCAA record.

Here's the most amazing statistic: Redick has now hit the exact same number of three pointers this season (90) as all of Duke’s opponents combined this season against Duke.

Did I mention I love this kid?

Update: Here's a great article from ESPN's Page 2 where an avowed "Duke-hater" says folks should lay off Redick.

Swanny Clears a Path

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is reporting that PA Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton is stepping aside in his bid for the GOP nomination for Governor in order to present a united party behind presumed nominee and Pro Football Hall of Famer Lynn Swann.

Everything I have seen and heard says that Swann will give Gov. Ed Rendell a run for his money, and Swann is certainly not known for getting into something he doesn't intend to win. However, it will be interesting to see how the rigors of a campaign affect a political novice like Swann.

It certainly won't hurt that the glory years of the Pittsburgh Steelers, of which Swann was a part, were recalled by this year's Super Bowl Champs. Well, that is unless those bitter Philiadelphia Eagles fans all vote for Rendell out of spite.

Foot in Mouth Epidemic

The national Democratic Party just can't seem to get things right. Despite the President's unpopularity, the Abramhoff scandal, and a host of other problems for the Republican party, the Dems just can't seem to capitalize on those miscues by the opposition. In fact, it is often the Dems who are seen as shooting themselves in the foot.

The politicization of Coretta Scott King's funeral by the Dems is just another example of the tin ear that Democrats have developed towards the American public. Bill Clinton in particular has done a great disservice to the office of the Presidency by engaging in repeated criticism of his successor for the purpose of creating a easier road for his wife to the Democratic nomination in '08. During Clinton's presidency you NEVER heard George Bush the elder criticizing Clinton's policies because Bush believed in the tradition of decorum and deference surrounding the office. Clinton has brazenly broken with that tradition and started a disturbing trend that will only serve to deepen the political divide in this nation.

Similarly, Illinois Senator Barak Obama, who many in the Democratic party see as their savior, has run into a bit of this foot in mouth disease as well. Obama was ripped by Sen. John McCain this week for backing out of his agreement to work with the Arizona Senator on bipartisan lobbying reform. This bit of partisan gamesmanship comes only shortly after Obama defended Hillary Clinton's "plantation" remarks regarding the House of Representatives. For someone who has carefully crafted an image as a person who is above the partisan fray, Obama's true colors are starting to shine through. I guess when you are vying for a Veep slot, all that bipartisan mumbo-jumbo goes out the window.

While Democrats and their MSM allies have tried hard to trumpet this year as the one when the Dems will take back Congress, I have my doubts. It's going to be hard for the American people to hear anything the Dems have to say as long as they keep putting those feet in their mouths.

Monday, February 06, 2006

This is funny

Look at the members of the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services committee. Now look at the members of the Senate Local Government committee.

P.S.--- If you didn't start to fear a genuine Democratic (by which I mean they run with a "D" next to their name) takeover in the Senate after Herring's victory last week...

What a Life

The story of William Borden of Yale '09 is simply amazing.

Borden, the heir to the Borden Dairy empire, chose to become a missionary to China instead, but died at the age of 25 after contracting spinal meningitis in Cairo while on his way to China.

Read it.

"No reserves. No retreats. No regrets." - William Borden

Sunday, February 05, 2006

How Bout Them Cavs

Leitao has a limited roster playing excellently. Reynolds is finally playing well, and is complementing Singletary perfectly. They make a great back court.

Glad to see UVA pulled it out against Wake Forest.

Friday, February 03, 2006

McNulty on Hot Seat before Judic Committee

Looks like Mr. McNulty is holding his own during the hearings on his nomination as Deputy Attorney General.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

You like me, you really really like me!

A blogger that I've recently gotten into (if only for his incredibly frustrating trivia) tagged me for this "four things" bit that seems to have become all the vogue amongst the Virginia blogs, so here goes.

Four jobs I've had
1. Server of frozen delicacies
2. Campaign staffer
3. Customer Service Associate (i.e. Bagboy/cart corraler)
4. (Whoops, definitely not NASA researcher, sorry Sarge) Caterer

Four movies I can watch over and over
1. Red Dawn (and not just on a Reaganite level, but also for the absurdity of it all)
2. Harvey
3. Animal House
4. For my purposes, the non-sketch Python films count as one

Four places I've lived
1. An locality that begins with a W in the Shenandoah Valley

Four T.V. shows I love
1. The Simpsons (prior to Season 10)
2. Family Guy
3. The West Wing (but honestly, usually only the campaign episodes)
4. Bring back Mister Sterling!....joshing, Futurama

Four places I've vacationed
1. Orlando, Florida
2. Washington, DC
3. Virginia Beach, VA
4. Williamsburg, VA

Four of my favorite dishes
1. General Tso's Chicken, particularly from Brown's Chinesse American in Luray
2. Macaroni and Cheese, but only if its done right
3. Shrimp or Chicken alfredo
4. Crab legs

Four sites I visit daily
1. Bloglines....but I read the best of OMT, SST, and CC from there
2. NLS.....I can't quit you
3. Yahoo! News
4. Facebook *shudder*

Four places I would rather be right now
1. Deep down in some little pocket, screaming to get out.....Charlottesville
2. The Valley
3. The room
4. Peking Pavillion.....they better have eggrolls

Four bloggers I am tagging
1.When I get back

My Four Things

Four Jobs I've Had:
1. lawncare boy
2. retail stock room "associate"
3. campaign manager
4. legislative correspondent on Capitol Hill

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over:
1. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
2. Glory
3. Saving Private Ryan
4. Dr. Strangelove and How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
5. Chariots of Fire
6. Godfather
7. Fight Club
8. Goodwill Hunting
9. Braveheart
10. Oh....whoopsss

Four Places I've Lived:
1. Charlottesville, Virginia
2. Woodbridge, Virginia
3. Richmond, Virginia,
4. Washington, DC

Four TV Shows I Love:
1. Dave Chappelle
2. That 70s Show
3. Andy Griffith Show
4. UVA sports events

Four Books I Love:
1. The Witness by Whittaker Chambers
2. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
3. In God's Underground by Richard Wurmbrand
4. Scottish Chiefs by Jane Porter (John Adams enjoyed reading this in 1810)
5. The Sacred Romance by John Eldredge

Four Places I've Vacationed:
1. Kinshasa, Zaire (now the Congo)
2. Dominican Republic
3. The Scottish highlands
4. The Netherlands

Four of My Favorite Dishes:
1. anything my mom makes
2. Fettucini alfredo
3. anything at the Tavern on Emmet in Charlottesville
4. haggis, neeps, and taddies

Four Sites I Visit Daily:
1. Commonwealth Conservative
2. One Mans Trash
3. BenDomenech.com (what got me interested in blogging years ago) - shut down now
4. Reasoned Audacity, www.charmaineyoest.com

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now:
1. Charlottesville (oh wait, I am here) - did i mention i love Charlottesville
2. Edinburgh, Scotland
3. New Zealand
4. Cambodia

Four Bloggers I'm Tagging:
1. the ones Old Zach is tagging
2. dittos
3. dittos
4. mega dittos

Four Things

Hey Chad, no fair tagging two of us SSTers. Oh well, here goes:

Four jobs I’ve had

1. Grocery bagboy (yes, me too)
2. Dishwasher
3. Vacuum cleaner salesperson (for 3 days)
4. Political campaign flunkie (shocking, I know)

Four movies I can watch over and over

1. Top Gun
2. Office Space
3. The Goonies
4. Any Connery Bond film

Four places I’ve lived

1. Richmond, VA
2. Roanoke, VA
3. Alexandria, VA
4. Charlottesville, VA

Four TV shows I love

1. Dukes of Hazzard
2. Smallville
3. Sportscenter
4. Scooby-Doo

Four places I’ve vacationed

1. London, England
2. St. Petersburg, FL
3. Seattle, WA
4. Mexico City, Mexico

Four of my favorite dishes

1. Virginia Ham and Baked Apples
2. Pork Barbeque and Cornbread
3. Five Guys Burgers and Fries
4. Ice Cream

Four sites I visit daily (other than this one)

1. Tech Sideline
2. National Review Online
3. IMDB.com
4. Commonwealth Conservative

Four places I would rather be right now

1. Detroit
2. Outer Space
3. Scotland
4. Professor Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Children

Four bloggers I am tagging

1. The RedStater
2. GOP Hokie (to balance RedStater's Wahoo-ism)
3. Steve Minor
4. Waldo (for ideological diversity)

I eagerly await Lighthorse Harry's entry

Allen plays for dollars in Detroit

The Washington Post's Political Blog has this item about a fundraiser George Allen is hosting this week in Detroit featuring a litany of the NFL's owners and former stars. I believe that Allen's connection with the NFL will be very significant come 2008. The NFL is the most popular professional sport by a longshot. The average American watches and understands football, and a Presidential candidate who does the same is someone they can identify with. You might recall that during the 2004 campaign the website Football Fans for Truth lampooned John Kerry's apparent lack of knowledge about sports. It was the perception that Kerry was not a "man of the people" that helped contribute to his demise, despite Bush's unpopularity.

Allen certainly won't face the same problem that plagued Kerry, but his problem might just be that he's too much like Bush. Of course, as you can tell by the comments at the WaPo blog, Democrats keep levelling the same old attacks against Allen that failed to work against Bush such as:
"He's dumb"
"He's riding his daddy's coattails"
"His public persona is fake"
"He's corrupt"
"He smirks"
and of course the old standard "He's a racist"

What these folks don't understand is that George Allen connects with the average American in the same way George Bush does. They like him, they trust him, they identify with him. That is why George Allen is electable, and Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry and Al Gore are not. Until the Dems get that figured out, they'll keep losing Presidential elections.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

John F. "Jack" Herrity

Jack Herrity will always be "Mr. Republican" for Fairfax County. Nothing was more enjoyable than cruising down John F. "Jack" Herrity parkway and being passed by the man himself in his signature hat.

And he never stopped. He was on his way to another bid for County Chairman. He could be seen on top of every growth issue in the county, positioning himself against the developer-owned and operated Connolly. I think he could have done it.

There's a lot of talk about the doors of tomorrow that shut forever whenever a politician passes away. In the memory of Dalton, J. Sargeant Reynolds, Couric, and Obenshain supporters and fellow party members struggle to pick up the slack for the lost pillar.

I'll be the first to say it then, '07 here we come-

Let's win this one for Jack.

Go over to Too Conservative for more details

VA's position in Majority Leader Race

The Hill has a daily tally of the Members of Congress who have publicly declared their support for one of the three candidates for Majority Leader. According to that poll, only four of Virginia's eight GOP congressmen have publicly declared who they are supporting.

Roy Blunt has the support of Rep. Jo Ann Davis, Rep. Tom Davis, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte. John Shadegg has the support of Rep. Frank Wolf. John Boehner does not have any publicly declared support from the VA delegation.

The undeclared Representatives are Eric Cantor, Virgil Goode, Thelma Drake, and Randy Forbes. Seeing as how Cantor got his current position in leadership from Roy Blunt, it is probably safe to believe that Cantor will vote for Blunt. Perhaps we can convince the others to support Shadegg.

Sad Truth: A lot of Virginians just don't care...

The discussion of what Sen. Herring's blowout win over Mick Staton means has begun over at Commonwealth Conservative, which links to similar discussions.

There'll be lots of opinions, each right in its own way, and each also wrong. So with that as a preamble, here's my take:

There's an old saw in politics: In any given election, each side will win 40% of the vote, and the contest is over that middle 20%. Certainly this is true in Loudon County, which even though it supported Kaine was (until recently) a solidly Republican County. So when one candidate gets less that 40%, it's a sign something is seriously wrong.

However, unlike in some other special elections, here I don't think the problem was necessarily an ideological split within the Republican Party. If anything, it was a problem with how Republicans have been approaching elections recently, both here in Virginia and nationally.

It seems as though Republicans can't help but nationalize every election. During the governor's race, we couldn't talk about anything except abortion and the death penalty (which sounds a lot like 2001, when you think about it). The Democrat talked about fiscal solvency, transportation, etc. Both times, the Democrat won. In the special election, even though Staton tried to talk about transportation, even the conservative blogs couldn't help but talk about Dick Black.

At some point, Republicans are going to have to realize that, while the base loves talking about abortion, the death penalty, and other social issues, the "center" (especially in Northern Virginia) honestly doesn't care. All they want is to be able to get to and from work, not pay too much in property taxes, and be able to send their kids to decent schools. That, and the trips to soccer practice, baseball practice, swim lessons and church on Sunday, and that's all most people have time/energy to care about.

It may be hard to believe, esp. if you believe abortion is murder, but the reality is the "center" just doesn't care that much about it. "Legal but infrequent" probably sums up the position. Unless Republicans learn how to talk to people who really don't care that much about politics again, we are going to continue to lose -- maybe not all at once, but slowly over time.

Musical Mayhem: The Fight for A New State Song

As promised in the comments below, here is a set of proposed lyrics for the song "Shenandoah," to make the song more Virginia-centric.

Oh, Shenandoah,
I hear you calling.
To the heart of all your people.
Oh, Shenandoah,
I hear you calling.
And I pause, and think of home,
In my dear Virginia.

Oh, mountains tall,
I see your splendor.
And my heart soars like your summits.
Oh, mountains tall,
I see your splendor.
And I pause, and think of home,
In my dear Virginia.

Oh, rolling wave,
I taste your sea spray.
Old as time, yet ever changing.
Oh, rolling wave,
I taste your sea spray.
And I pause, and think of home,
In my dear Virginia.

Oh, brother mine,
My hand I offer.
Stand with me and be my neighbor.
Oh, sister mine,
My hand I offer.
And I pause, and think of home,
In my dear Virginia.

Very beautiful, although I think it's missing something. It just seems to me it doesn't take in the whole breadth of Virginia's people and culture. Who could be left out.........I KNOW! Here's my suggestion for a final verse.

Oh, 95
Cars snarled in traffic
Standing still, there on your asphalt
Oh, 95
I long to drive home
Away, so far away
Out to west Loudoun

There we go.

The Legend of Matt Wells Grows

Yesterday's National Journal Hotline reported that George Allen has hired "The Phenom" Matt Wells to be the organizational director for Allen's '06 campaign. You'll remember Wells as a driving force behind the successful campaign of LG Bill Bolling and as the campaign manager for the the GOP's lone special election victory in a House of Delegates race, that of Del. Chris Peace.

Wells has now apparently hit the big time by latching on with the ever-growing Allen bandwagon. I don't know Matt Wells, but I heard he once scissor kicked Angela Lansbury. That's impressive.

Signing Day 2006

Today is basically the first day of the new college football season. All the new additions to our favorite teams become official today. Hokies and Hoos can follow all the action at TechSideline and The Sabre.

Virginia Tech looks to have a solid, if not spectuacular, recruiting class this year. I have no doubt that Beamer and his staff will continue to turn underrated High School players into All-Americans and NFL prospects as they have done for years. Meanwhile, AlGroh will continue to waste the considerable talent he has amassed in C'ville.