The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Friday, March 31, 2006

Thoughts on the Blogosphere

Now that I’ve talked extensively about the state of the Republican Party, I want to turn the magnifying glass back on myself a little and talk about this very medium I am using right now. When Addison, Harry, and I started this blog 16 months ago or so, it was because we thought we had something to add to the debate that was going on in preparation for the 2005 statewide elections. We wanted to have a debate about the issues affecting Virginia and why we thought Jerry Kilgore was the right person to lead Virginia for the next four years (And I still do). We chose the name Sic Semper Tyrannis because we wanted this blog to be about Virginia, not about us. That’s also why we choose to remain anonymous. We want the focus to be on the issues we were talking about, not who is doing the talking. Unfortunately, I am beginning to feel that we are in the minority in that regard. It is wonderful to see a great many Virginians taking an interest in blogging, but at the same time it seems as if many of them are more concerned with putting the spotlight on themselves than with solving problems or answering questions about Virginia’s future. In addition, it seems as though, as the Virginia blogosphere has grown, the majority of new blogs have directed their focus at driving traffic to their sites through gimmicks and web-generated scandals than through the quality of their writing. Mind you, I am by no means saying that I myself have never done the things I am criticizing. I certainly have, but I have also tried to keep my posts faithful to my particular areas of knowledge and interest, and I would hope that the thoughtful posts outweighed the trite ones. You are free to disagree.

These criticisms certainly go for Conservative and Liberal bloggers alike. I think it would do some good for bloggers to start thinking not just about how many people might read something they write, or what kind of reaction it might get, but rather what does it add to the online discussion. Certainly every blogger has his own agenda, and that is what makes the community interesting. However, the way that agenda is presented makes a big difference. I enjoy reading guys like Shaun Kenny, Waldo Jaquith and The Jaded JD because their posts usually go deeper than the surface. Even if we don’t always agree, I usually appreciate what they bring to the table. Other bloggers I find to be “all hat, no cattle” as it were. I often cringe at bloggers like Not Larry Sabato, Too Conservative, and Republitarian simply because they exhibit more concern with fluffery and self-aggrandizement than anything else. As a result, even when these “gossip-column” bloggers post things that are worthwhile, I am less likely to read them and much less likely to give them weight. For example, having a poll to determine who the “most influential” bloggers are is a bit like taking a poll to see who the coolest guy at the Star Trek Convention is. It might make that guy feel like somebody special, but most people could give a damn.

This brings me to my second point, which is that the blogosphere is not nearly as important as it seems to think it is. For now, those who pay attention to the blogosphere, particularly at the statewide political level, are in a very small club. By and large, the blogosphere is not yet shaping public opinion in any meaningful or measurable way. Now, this is not to say that blogs couldn’t evolve into such a role. The increasing technological savvy of our society in fact indicates that they very well may. This is also not to say that blogs aren't at all useful, because they certainly can be. The fact that so many elected officials are now paying attention to the blogosphere indicates that it may well play an important role in our state politics in the near future. Still, the average voter in Virginia has no idea what a blog is, and a large percentage of what we say will have absolutely no impact on how people vote this November. All of this is not to discourage anyone from blogging. In fact I look forward to the continued growth and evolution of the Virginia blogosphere. This is merely a reality check for some of us who may suddenly believe ourselves kingmakers simply because a few hundred people click through our little corner of the Internet each day.

I applaud the work that has already been done by folks like Chad Dotson to foster a more involved, more respectful community of bloggers and I hope that those efforts will continue. I believe that, although individual bloggers may come and go, blogging itself is here to say. I also believe that blogging can be an extremely productive and helpful resource and outlet for people. I doubt that DeTocqueville would be surprised by our pursuit of new and varied forms of interaction in what can be an increasingly remote digital world. Humans in general and Americans in particular long for social and political interaction. Basically, we like having friends, and we like having debate. The Internet is providing astounding new ways of interacting with people who share our passions, and the blogosphere is one shining example.

I encourage all of the bloggers out there to think, as we have here at SST, about what it is that you want to accomplish through this meager platform. I encourage you to stick to those goals and to seek the counsel of others in achieving them. Mostly, I encourage you to make your blog your own. Each perspective is unique, and all are welcome.

Blog on.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

What Are Our Goals?

Here'’s where it gets fun. Yesterday we talked about leadership, so today we are taking the next logical step to talk about goals. Leadership without goals is just aimless wandering through the landscape of ideas.

Obviously there are some broad goals that we, as a Party should always strive for. These include things such as recruiting new voters to our ranks, reaching out to potentially new constituencies, seeding our grassroots, and yadda, yadda, yadda. Likewise there are always specific issues that are the subject of narrow focus at any one time such as is the case in the current transportation debate. However, in order to avoid the aimless wandering, I suggest that we focus on some broader, non-organizational goals that the Republican Party of Virginia should face within the coming years.

As always, I want this to be an open discussion. I want this to be something that we come back to on a regular basis because I believe that this discussion is good for our Party. I firmly believe that if we are able to identify problems before they mature, rather than simply react to things as they arise, then the Republican Party will be able to provide the thoughtful, practical, and fair solutions that are needed to address the problems of the day. I do not believe that the other side is capable of doing so in any unified, coherent fashion.

The question then becomes, where do we see problems on the horizon? What are the areas of social, economic, and political policy that we can identify today as needing reform before greater problems strike down the road. As I desire this topic to involve more free-flowing debate, I will only mention a couple of areas that I see as potential problem areas in our not-too-distant future.

First of all, I will point out that my analysis is focused on the State level, and therefore I will ignore some goals in areas that I would otherwise identify as national issues. The first of these state issues is education. While I support the improvements that were made under to our education system under Governor Allen, I am concerned that Virginia may now begin to fall behind the curve in the area of education reform. Virginia has always been a leader of reform in areas like criminal justice and welfare. However, many other states have taken the lead in reforming their education systems, leaving Virginia behind. While Virginia continues to have one of the most outstanding higher education systems in the nation, it is our elementary and secondary education that is ready for an overhaul. What I am talking about is school choice. We must bring competition and free-market principles to our education system in order to improve school performance and efficiency and provide parents with educational choices. Particularly in the poorest areas of the state, school choice will provide a wider range of opportunities to the very students who will benefit most from those opportunities. Denying quality education to any Virginia students in order to preserve a public monopoly on the provision of these services makes no sense and only limits our children'’s potential. It is past time to remedy that situation and unleash the creative potential of the next generation.

A second goal that I think we as a Party should address is environmental conservatism. I personally come from an agricultural tradition that values Virginia'’s natural resources not just because of their beauty, but also because my faith teaches me that they have been entrusted to our care. We are blessed to live in a beautiful Commonwealth with many natural splendors and bounty of open spaces. Unfortunately, many Virginians are too far divorced from a relationship with the land and waters of this State to be affected by their health. As a result, growth and development are beginning to threaten many of our natural, as well as historical, landmarks. I believe that there are many conservative solutions out there that can address the problems of pollution, sprawl and unplanned development, and inefficient use of lands. I believe that most Virginians do not favor high-cost, high-regulation, anti-technology solutions to environmental problems. I also believe that conservative principles can be applied to encourage people to take individual and community responsibility for their lands and resources so that government interference will be, in many cases, unnecessary. Unfortunately, we do not hear conservatives talk about these issues very much, which is why I fear that we will not be prepared to act before the problem gets out of hand.

The third goal that I will identify for our Party is the goal of fiscal discipline. I mean seriously folks, I'’m tired of beating around the Bush right here. It is simply re-gosh-darn-diculous for the Republican Party to be adopting this kind of tax-and-spend philosophy that we are seeing. Our State government'’s appetite for taxpayer dollars is simply astounding. The growth of our State budget has left inflation in the dust. Here we are two years after the largest tax increase in state history and some Republicans are right back onboard with another tax hike. What is going on here? It is frustrating as all get out to try and tell people I belong to a Party that believes expanding individual freedom and opportunity by letting taxpayers decide how to spend their money, when every time they turn around our GOP Legislature is reaching back in their pocket. I am really pleased to see the remarks of Speaker Howell this week and I hope that the House of Delegates has finally decided to draw a line in the sand on this thing. I'’m as frustrated about 2004 as anyone else, but we can'’t keep fighting that battle. I'’m not optimistic about how things are going to turn out this year, but we'’ve simply got to take on this issue as it stands and then we've got to come together and decide what our priorities are going to be. If we are not able to simply go in front of the people of Virginia and tell them exactly what we think a fiscally responsible budget should look like, then we're always going to find something more that we can spend money on. I am not sitting here saying "“Off with their heads!"” to any Republican who ever votes for a tax increase. What I am saying is that we'’ve got to be honest with the taxpayers of Virginia. Some folks just are not being honest, and that is a problem for our Party as a whole. We have allowed the Democrats in this State to adopt a theme of "“good government"” even though we know that all that means is taking more from the people and giving more to the bloated, inefficient bureaucracies. That doesn'’t fly with me and it shouldn'’t fly with a lot of other people either. The people of Virginia must live within their means, their government should have to do the same.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts, what about yours?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Who is Our Leader?

In order for any organization to be successful, particularly those of the political persuasion, they need good leadership. There is certainly no question of who is the leader of our National Party. With a Republican President in office it is clear who sets the Party agenda. While there may often be dissent, as there is over the present immigration issue, it is still the Chief Executive who has the highest platform from which to speak. Similarly, when we have a Republican Governor in office, it is generally understood that they set the agenda for the Republican Party statewide. Yet, when there is no Republican in the state’s top job, as is now the case, we must look elsewhere for leadership.

Before considering who might fit the bill as the “leader” of the Virginia Republican Party, we must first consider what we want from a leader. To be sure, it is not simply enough to be in a position of leadership, but rather it is what one does once in such a position that counts. For me, a party leader must have three things that set him or her apart from the dozens of other Republicans who merely aspire to lead.

First, a party leader must speak from a position of authority. Most times that authority is based upon electoral success. Sometimes, however, that authority can be gained through experience, fighting in the trenches and so forth, despite a lack of electoral success.

Second, a party leader must be trusted. A party leader is able to lead because they have gained the support of the grassroots members of the party and their fellow officeholders. One cannot simply step up, call oneself a leader and expect others to follow. A leader must have established a record of leadership over time at many levels, a consistency of purpose, a dedication to helping other members of the party and a devotion to integrity. These things instill confidence in others and ensure that others will not only believe what one says, but will also be willing to support you through actions.

Third, a party leader must have vision. It is not necessary for a leader to have all the answers to all of the problems that face our Commonwealth. However, a leader must have a clear idea of what the hope to accomplish and what direction the party should be moving. Too often those involved in politics begin to focus so much on the trees that they forget about the forest. An effective leader will tend to the trees, but will always have their mind on the forest.

To me these are the three things that spring to mind as to what makes an effective leader. Certainly there may be some overlap between these three areas of leadership. Likewise, there may be other qualities that I have failed to address that may be equally important. As always I leave things open for discussion.

Now I want to get specific about the state of our Republican Party as it stands today and examine who might fit these criteria we have laid out to help define our leadership. First, I will say that I have specifically excluded the criteria of popularity. Certainly a politician’s popularity in the party is important, but it is not always necessarily indicative of true leadership. It should be without question that the most popular Republican in the Commonwealth of Virginia is Senator George Allen. Yet, it should also be clear that Allen has no interest in being the presumptive leader of the Virginia GOP. This is not because Allen doesn’t care about us, but it is simply because his focus is on running for President and he hasn’t the time or ability to provide leadership to the State Party while simultaneously serving in the Senate and preparing a Presidential campaign. I certainly do not fault Allen for this choice, and I support him completely in his efforts. I simply mean to show that popularity is not a controlling factor in the leadership equation. There must also be a willingness to accept the role of Party leader.

If not in Senate, perhaps our leadership can be found in the House of Representatives. With 8 of 11 Congressmen hailing from the GOP, surely one of these national figures is qualified for the title of Party leader. The one that springs immediately to mind is Representative Tom Davis. His success in Northern Virginia, his support for Republican candidates, his unmatched fundraising prowess, and his high profile as a former NRCC Chair and now Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee make him an attractive leader in Northern Virginia. However, as a Congressman, Tom Davis’ focus is largely limited to his Congressional district and centered on National, more than State, issues. His leadership in NOVA is vital to our Party, but it has yet to translate to any sort of advantage in other parts of the state. A party leader must be a leader for the entire Commonwealth, a role that any Member of Congress would find difficult to fill.

Then what about our Republican leadership in the General Assembly? While some legislators are certainly more visible than others, drawing party leadership out of the General Assembly is a tall order. Senate Republicans can’t even agree with each other over the direction the Party should take in that body, much less provide leadership to the Party as a whole. Certainly, many conservative Republicans look to “new school” Senate Republicans like Sens. Cuccinelli and Obenshain as leaders, while some other Republicans still look to the “old school” Chichester-Stosch wing of the party for guidance. In any case, the dynamics of the Senate make that a very poor position from which to lead. The House of Delegates is moderately better and is certainly looking much improved this year from the 2004 tax debacle. Speaker Howell isn’t taking any guff from Governor “Tim Shady” Kaine and House Republicans seem to have circled the wagons this time around. That’s good news for those of us who care about true fiscal discipline, but it doesn’t help much in the leadership discussion. As much respect as I have for the ability of the Republican House of Delegates Leadership to herd all those cats, the size and function of the larger chamber of our legislature makes it a difficult place from which to lead the Party as a whole. The agenda setting function is available there, but being only one part of the legislative process makes the success of said agenda a risky proposition.

So, who has the platform to set the Party agenda outside of the legislative labyrinth and not have to worry about actually getting it passed? What about our RPV Chairman, Kate Obenshain Griffin? Certainly the Party Chairman has a platform from which to speak and has the support of the party faithful that elect them. These are both strong attributes for a party leader. However, there are also several drawbacks to the Party Chairman being the presumptive leader of a party. When was the last time a Party Chairman at the state or national level was considered the leader of that party? I would argue that this is likely the case only where Republican electoral success is very limited. It seems to me that the Party Chairman is in a party-building position, not necessarily a party-leading position. In some respects state parties are merely arms of the national party. In this role, our current Party chair has certainly done a fantastic job of raising the RPV profile and defending our national Party. On the other hand, the Party Chair is also very concerned with developing grassroots organization, raising money, training and recruiting volunteers, and like activities. These are the minutiae of Party activity that are essential to an effective Party organization, but leave little time for a leadership role of the type which we are discussing. As a result, I think it would be a great deal to ask of a Party Chairman, a voluntary position that takes on many responsibilities and even more criticism, to also be the Party’s Political Leader.

Where does that leave us? Well, there are two statewide Republican officeholders who have exhibited both the success and the service that we seek from our leaders. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Atty. Gen. Bob McDonnell are quite possibly the best positioned Republicans in the state to take the open mantle of leadership and provide purpose and direction for our Party in the coming years. While it is still quite soon after the past election, I am convinced that Bob McDonnell has already begun to step into that role and provide leadership for the Republican Party of Virginia. This is not to say that Bolling could not do the same, but it is merely my personal observation from recent events that McDonnell seems to have wasted no time in attempting to fill the leadership gap. McDonnell has been aggressive in proposing a legislative agenda, he has already been at odds with the Democratic Governor, and the closeness of his election already has made him somewhat of a folk hero in Republican circles. Certainly both McDonnell and Bolling have distinguished legislative records upon which to stand, but McDonnell seems to have the edge currently in agenda setting and publicity generating. From what I have seen so far this year, it appears to be McDonnell who has risen, perhaps unexpectedly, to a position of Party leadership.

I admit that my approach to this question may be somewhat misguided. Perhaps we need many leaders, each with different roles, to form a successful Party. But I submit to you that, although many are certainly capable of leading, having one leader to whom regular Party members can look to as an example and count on for guidance makes the Party stronger. Strong, effective leadership encourages others to strive to that same level. It draws uncertain voters off the fence. It promotes Party unity and cooperation. It is also possible that our next Party leader may be someone whom I have not discussed. Ultimately, that is for all of us to decide together.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bolten

No "outside gray-beard" like so many nattering nabobs in the MSM have been calling for, today's shake-up in the President's most inner circle brings in a distinctly un-Washington character.

Thank you to Howling Latina, at the new Virginia Progressive group blog, for pointing out this now-ancient 2001 Business week article. While this "Mumbling Honky" definitely agrees it is worth noting that Mr. Bolten has been sighted "canoodling" with Ms. Derek, I think the ultimate value of this piece is that it gives us a chance to see what the convention wisdom on Bolten was, as opposed to what it has become in the hours since he was named COS. The whole article is worth many reads- but two things stand out to me:

1. The Charlie Norwood anecdote certainly doesn't bode well for the administration's interactions with Congress, but at least we can be sure that Bush didn't cave in to Rep. Tom Davis with this pick.
2." With many of his colleagues preoccupied by the war on terrorism, the secretive Bolten is more valuable than ever as he works to keep the rest of the Bush agenda moving. But he'd rather the outside world not know." When the President's approval ratings where they are, with a country that now apparently trusts Democrats on taxes more than Republicans, I hope that Bolten has developed some taste for engaging the public.

Honoring Harry Parrish

Delegate Harry Parrish (R-Manassas) has passed away today at the age of 84.

This graduate of Virginia Tech was a decorated pilot during World War II and a distinguished public servant for more than 50 years.

Others are certainly more qualified to speak about this man than I, but it is clear that now is a time for all Virginians to honor the service of this fine gentleman, pray for his family, and remember his wealth of contributions to our Commonwealth.

What's Wrong With NOVA?

Now before all you NOVA-ites get mad about the title of this post, let me be up front by saying that I have very little idea how to even begin addressing this issue. I lived in Alexandria for two years a while back, but I won't begin to pretend that I understand the ins and outs of NOVA. All I know is that the GOP has been performing pretty damn poorly in NOVA recently and I fail to believe that it is just because there aren’t enough Republicans there.

Clearly something must be done in Northern Virginia. Courtesy of the State Board of Elections here are the results of the ‘97, ‘01, and ‘05 Gubernatorial races in the counties of Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William.

1997- Fairfax: Gilmore (129,038) Beyer (114,697)
Loudoun: Gilmore (20,997) Beyer (13,697)
PWC: Gilmore (32,049) Beyer (18,110)

2001- Fairfax: Earley (120,799) Warner (146,537)
Loudoun: Earley (24,372) Warner (20,907)
PWC: Earley (30,543) Warner (27,297)

2005- Fairfax: Kilgore (103,287) Kaine (163,667)
Loudoun: Kilgore (27,539) Kaine (31,074)
PWC: Kilgore (32,178) Kaine (33,364)

Folks, this is a problem. Not only are Republican Gubernatorial candidates losing ground in NOVA, but we haven’t even begun to talk about the losses of folks like Mick Staton, Delegate Dick Black and Michael Golden, for seats in the General Assembly. So what is the issue here?

One argument is that each of these races simply comes down to the candidates and that each of the losing Republican candidates was weak in some respect. In some cases this may be true, but it certainly cannot explain our losses across the board. Some may argue that Mark Earley was at a disadvantage because Mark Warner was from NOVA, yet NOVA ties didn’t help Don Beyer, nor did the lack of them hurt Tim Kaine. At the more local level, Delegate Black certainly didn’t help himself with his sometimes outrageous comments and what was perceived by many to be nasty campaigning against his opponent. However, even taking that into consideration does not fully explain what looks like a vast erosion of support for Republican candidates throughout NOVA.

Alternatively, some have asserted that the problem is a massive influx of Democrats into these suburban counties. While we all know, and the voter numbers bear this out, that these counties are growing exponentially from year to year, I have trouble believing that the demographic shift leans as heavily Democratic as such a theory would suggest. Rather, I believe it is more likely that the majority of these new residents are part of the “swing voter” category that must be convinced which side to vote for from election to election.

If this is the case, then the question must be asked, “How do we convince these voters to vote for Republicans?” The answer is at once very obvious and also very complicated. The obvious answer is that we must talk to the voters in Northern Virginia about things they care about. We must recognize that suburban voters are concerned with kitchen table issues such as personal and financial security, education, and particularly in NOVA, transportation. This is not at all to say that we should not nominate social conservatives in NOVA, in fact, I hope that we would. However, it is to say that I believe that our local candidates in NOVA should also be individuals who can speak intelligently on issues that affect their potential constituents’ daily lives as well as on broader societal concerns.

At the statewide level, I believe that it is important for statewide candidates to make Northern Virginia feel accepted. It seems that statewide Republican candidates have been increasingly focused on running up big numbers downstate in hopes of offsetting Democratic gains in NOVA. I do not think that ignoring NOVA is a winning strategy. Our statewide candidates must be competitive in NOVA in order to win.

In terms of increasing Republican competitiveness in NOVA, I am encouraged that RPV has developed the Northern Virginia Strike Force to specifically target this area for development of Republican grassroots, leaders and candidates. What concerns me is the emphasis that some seem to put on RPV’s role in this area. Many Republicans seem quick to blame the State Party for failures in NOVA without first looking at their own local Republican committees. In order to be competitive in NOVA, the party must be built from the ground up. Local activists must become involved, reach out to their communities, recruit volunteers and candidates and keep tabs on new developments. The rapid growth of that region makes it vitally important to stay on top of voter identification and recruitment. RPV can help in many ways at the “macro” level of political organization, but the “micro” level work must be done by those on the ground in those communities.

Winning in NOVA may not always be easy for Republicans, but it is absolutely necessary and it is certainly possible. There may be many more things that we should consider as part of the equation for victory in this ever-growing region of the state. I hope that this will be only the beginning of that discussion and that Republicans across the State can work together to find the answers.

Monday, March 27, 2006

What is a Republican?

Any discussion about the state and direction of our Party must start with this essential question. As I said yesterday, I do not claim to have the answer to this question. The point is that it must be asked and each of us who call ourselves Republicans must be the ones to answer it.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines a Republican as someone who is a member of the Republican party. Though largely unhelpful for our purposes, it is also facially correct. Yet, how do we even define a member of the Republican Party? Is it someone who simply votes for Republican candidates? Is it someone who has officially joined the party at either the national, state, or local level? Is it anyone who calls themselves a Republican? As you can see, even at that broadest level of abstraction, it remains difficult to define a Republican.

Instead of becoming frustrated by this difficulty, let us instead set some parameters for the discussion. Of course, these are again my own suggestions and anyone is free to disagree with them.

First, we should know that the Republican party is a coalition of ideas. That means that there will never be a single set of ideas that is altogether sufficient for defining what a Republican is. In some ways, this is a cop-out, yet in other ways it is something that we must fundamentally accept if we are ever to succeed as a Party. Different groups of people join the Republican Party for different reasons. Sometimes the interests of these different groups will conflict, yet in most cases compromises are reached for the benefit of all factions. Compromise is necessary to a functioning Party.

Last week at NRO, Ramesh Ponurru commented on this very issue saying:
Social conservatives are always complaining that they're not in the driver's seat of the Republican party. So are economic conservatives. They're both right. Neither group alone is large enough to form an electoral majority, and thus have to participate in a coalition that gives them some of what they want but leaves them dissatisfied on other issues.
Remembering this is absolutely vital to having a successful Party. Each of us join the Party for different reasons, and not everyone cares about the same things as you do as strongly as you do. That doesn’t make them “bad Republicans.”

That said, however, it is part of the role of the Party to come to a consensus about what the guiding ideas of the Party should be. For example, it is safe to say that Republicans have a generally economic conservative philosophy that favors free markets, low taxes, and limited regulation. Certainly, not all Republicans believe in these ideas. However, those that don’t are probably members of the Party because they care more about some other part of the platform than those particular economic planks. As a result, it is up to each individual to decide which issues are most important to them and then decide whether the Republican Party is the appropriate forum for advancing those ideas.

That brings me to my second point, which is that we must recognize that participation in the Party is voluntary. No person is forced to participate in the Republican Party. Those who do participate are here because they want to advance ideas that matter to them and which they have determined are best advanced by this Party. This does not mean that they will necessarily get their way. In fact, there may be many Republicans who are frustrated that their concerns are not adequately represented. For example, if you are against gun control, you may sometimes be frustrated that the Party or a particular candidate is not taking as strong a stand on that issue as you would like. Your positive options are two-fold. One, is to attempt to persuade the party or the candidate to take a stronger stand. Two, is to go to the other Party if you believe that they will be more willing to accommodate your position.

Two other options are available, but both would likely have a negative effect on your ability to advance the ideas you hold dear. One would be to remove yourself from any involvement and support no Party or candidate. The other would be to attack the Party or the candidate of your identified Party. I do not see either approach as being helpful to the cause.

I encourage Republicans of all stripes to support individuals in Republican primaries whom they find themselves most in agreement with. Intra-party contests contribute greatly to Party strength by honing campaign skills, forcing candidates to make clear their positions, and exposing potential weaknesses. Once these contests are decided, however, we Republicans should remain united and remain active. Even if your candidate doesn’t win an intra-party contest, it is important to stay involved in the party process. In so doing, a mutual level of respect develops between candidate and constituent. Despite areas of disagreement, both individuals can see that the other is committed to the Party’s success and communication is made easier as a result. Name-calling, rumor-mongering, casting aspersions on fellow Republicans and similar activities do not foster a mutual level of respect. The result of these activities is that your efforts to advocate for issues you care about will likely be frustrated rather than given due consideration.

Let me be clear that I am not advocating being “wishy-washy” in your positions, but rather I am arguing that we Republicans must come to the table with two mutual understandings: first, that we all want to succeed, and second, that we will sometimes disagree about how to succeed or which ideas should succeed. Be firm in your principles, but also don’t be discouraged if your ideas are not at the forefront of every discussion.

Further, If you think I’m trying to say that anyone who calls themselves a Republican is a Republican, you’d be wrong. As I have said before, it does the Party no good to have members who refuse to recognize or participate in the activities of the Party that have been agreed upon. It does no good for a Party to accept as a member an individual who does not share the goals of electing Republican candidates. It does no good to have as members individuals whose primary interest is building the Party in their own image, not in fostering open debate and participation of the individuals who make up the Party. Any person is free to call themselves a Republican, but that doesn’t mean that the Party apparatus to which Party members have consented must recognize them as such.

Third, we must understand that the Republican party is a political entity. The GOP is not a religious organization, it is not an ideology-based group and it is not even necessarily a policy-making group. The role of the Republican Party is to elect Republicans. The role of the Party is also to bring together as large a coalition as is possible to ensure victory and effective governance. Too small of a coalition makes victory impossible, while too large makes governance impossible. As a political entity, the Republican party functions in a way that uses democratic (small “d”) and republican (small “r”) principles to guide Party activity.

These Party activities will often return results that will upset some party members. Sometimes, the Republican party will lose elections. It is important that each of us understands that the Party is made up of individuals and it is these individuals who make the Party what it is. It is also necessary for those individuals to understand that having an active, competitive Party necessitates some apparatus. RPV and State Central are not “The Man” trying to keep the rest of us down and squash out any voices of dissent. They are trying to bring together a workable coalition of ideas for the purpose of electing Republican candidates. These efforts might look different in different parts of the state, but the ultimate goals are the same.

So if we accept that the Republican Party is a coalition, that particpation is voluntary, and that it operates as a political entity, then where does that leave us? What is a Republican? Better yet, why are YOU a Republican?

The floor is open.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Republican Malaise

In the aftermath of last November’s disappointing Gubernatorial election, I have observed some things that I consider to be potentially dangerous to our Republican Party. Over the course of this next week, I’d like to raise some issues that I feel very strongly need to be addressed. Now, I certainly do not put myself out to be an expert on any of these issues, nor do I claim to have all the answers. Rather, I hope to generate some discussion and encourage others to continue thinking about the direction of our Party in the coming months and years.

The main problem I have seen since November is an attitude on the part of Republicans that Jerry Kilgore’s loss was some sort of fluke or accident. By focusing the bulk of the blame on the candidate and his campaign, Republicans are attempting to reassure themselves by claiming that Tim Kaine “got lucky.” This type of thinking is dangerous and will only lead to future defeat.

It is true that Virginia remains a plurality Republican state. In other words, there are more Republicans here in the Commonwealth than there are Democrats, but only slightly. There remains a sizeable swath of independent-minded voters who must be convinced to vote for one side or the other. By attributing Kaine’s victory to luck or an incompetent opposition, Republicans are guilty of glossing over the reasons why these “swing voters” chose the Democrat over the Republican in this election.

I am concerned that many Republicans have merely accepted this reasoning and are convinced that we’ll just "get ‘em next time." The short-term result of this thinking is a lost sense of urgency about campaigning for Republicans. The long-term result will be losing more elections. If we do not learn from our mistakes, then we are doomed to repeat them. There were plenty of mistakes to go around this past year and I’m not convinced that we have yet learned from them.

As way of example, one mistake that I would point out would be our Party’s seeming failure to push security issues in last year’s election. By all accounts, security is the top issue among most Americans and is certainly of great concern to those in voter-rich areas like NoVA and Tidewater. Last year we had a candidate with a clear edge on those issues by virtue of his experience as Attorney General and Secretary of Public Safety. However, in my part of the state I heard very little talk about those issues. Further, the issue of security could have easily been used to translate to other areas such as transportation security and economic security. Instead, Tim Kaine was permitted to frame the debate as one about "good government" and Kilgore failed to respond by providing voters with ample reason to change the status quo.

Granted, this is all Monday Morning Quarterbacking, but these are the types of things that should be pointed out and discussed if we hope to win future elections. It is also true that State and national elections hinge on different issues, but it is clear that the approach attempted by Kilgore was unsuccessful, so why not at least talk about other possible approaches? I am certain that there are many of you out there who have other ideas that can be brought to bear and will ultimately help improve our Party. I encourage you to submit them.

Now, a word about this fall’s elections. It seems to me that the disappointment of last fall, combined with frustration over the fortunes of the national Republican Party have some GOP folks feeling a little down. Many of us conservatives are frustrated that a GOP President and Congress, not to mention General Assembly, have so departed from the tenets of fiscal discipline that we hold dear. Now that we’ve gotten what we want from President Bush in the way of Supreme Court Justices, it is becoming increasingly easy to find reasons to be annoyed at this Administration and feel less than enthusiastic about aiding the Republican cause.

I urge my fellow Republicans not to give in to this malaise. If anything, the present situation should encourage us to fight even harder for our cause. As the National Review’s Jay Nordlinger is saying, we should be on the offense in this election, particularly on the issue of the War in Iraq. Staying home this summer and fall and allowing the Democrats to take over Congress will do nothing to advance conservative Republican principles. We’ll talk more about what those principles entail tomorrow, but for now I want to urge you to get off the sidelines and get back into the game.

Democratic control of Congress would mean an immediate declaration of defeat in Iraq, two years of Impeachment actions against President Bush, repeal of the tax cuts that have allowed rapid economic expansion and growth in recent years, weakening of our national security infrastructure through the watering-down of the PATRIOT Act and related legislation, and much, much more.

Basically, Democratic control of Congress would be a nightmare. Despite the frustration with the current Republican Congress, it is MUCH easier for conservatives to affect change by working from the inside by getting behind the type of legislation currently being promoted by Senator Allen (line-item veto, balanced budget amendment, Congressional pay restrictions) than it would be to do so as the minority party.

There is going to be a lot at stake this November. Things can change at any moment and I for one would much rather have Republicans in charge to face the unexpected when it comes. Though I am not thrilled by everything our Party has done, I still believe that we are the only Party that is offering positive solutions to the everyday problems faced by Americans today. The Democrats are running on a platform of fear and anger. I do not believe that is a strategy that benefits this nation and I encourage all Republicans to get to work spreading that message to the electorate here in Virginia and throughout the country.

A Revolutionary Victory

The George Mason Patriots, the 11th seed in the Washington D.C bracket, have advanced to the NCAA Final Four by defeating the University of Connecticut 86-84 in Overtime. The win makes GMU the lowest seed to ever advance to the Final Four, matching the feat of the 11th seeded LSU Tigers back in 1986.

On their unpredictable road to Indianapolis, the Patriots have taken out 3 of the past 6 NCAA Champs (Michigan State, 2000; Connecticut, 2004; and North Carolina, 2005). George Mason is now the fourth team from the Commonwealth of Virginia to advance to a postseason tournament Final Four. The others are:

Virginia Wesleyan: Based in Norfolk, VA, the Marlins advanced to the DIII Final Four and defeated favored Illinois Wesleyan and then Wittenberg to win the Division III National Championship.

Virginia Union: Based in Richmond, VA, the Panthers advanced to the DII Final Four where they defeated Seattle Pacific before falling to Winona State (MN) in the championship game.

Old Dominion: Also based in Norfolk, VA, the Monarchs will play in the Final Four of the NIT this week. ODU will play against the Michigan Wolverines at 7:00 PM on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. The winner of that game will face the winner of the other semifinal between Louisville and South Carolina.

Congratulations to all of these outstanding Virginia schools. You represent your Commonwealth well.

Allen's Juggling Act

The New York Times has a profile today of our ubiquitous Senator George Allen. The Times questions whether Allen will be able to balance the demands of a budding Presidential campaign while also focusing on what could be a challenging re-election bid.

The Times observes that "even as [Allen] laments his day job, he is dancing a delicate two-step, asking Virginians to return him to it." Yet it is doubtful that Allen's frustration with his role as a Senator would prove an impediment to his re-election. In fact, if the present attitude towards incumbents persists through election day, Allen's anti-establishment streak and reform-minded proposals may aid his cause. To be sure, anyone who knows Allen would likely have guessed that the formality and proceduralism of the Senate would chafe his cowboy style.

The Times article only focuses on the possible match-up with James Webb as being a possible problem for Allen, conveniently ignoring the Democratic primary that must take place before Allen knows who his opponent will be. I seriously doubt that Harris Miller is going to roll over and let Webb take the nomination without a fight. That contest could be pretty bruising considering Webb's Republican ties and Miller financial advantage.

Of course, the Times includes the obligatory comments about Allen's love of football and eagerly draws the comparisons between Allen and President Bush. Further, the article tries to sow seeds of doubt about Allen's positions, first bringing up questions about his commitment to conservative principles and then painting him as too conservative. And yes, no profile of Senator Allen would be complete without someone calling into question his intelligence.

Ultimately, I doubt very much that Allen's Presidential aspirations will have much effect on his Senate election. Senator Allen loves a fight, and regardless of whether his opponent is Webb or Miller, he'll be ready.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Real Story in Iraq

Mark Alexander over at Townhall.com has an extensive article about Iraq today and what precisely is going on over there. Its very long, but it is well worth it to read it so that you can help perpetrate the truth about Operation Iraqi Freedom and the War on Terror. Particularly helpful is the link to the Heritage Foundation's memo, "Dispelling Myths About Iraq." Read it.

On Thursday, I said the following:
Unfortunately the media has fallen victim to conflating success in Iraq with President Bush's success. Achieving victory in Iraq should not be a Republican or Democratic issue. We can accept the fact that the media, by and large comprised of liberals who have never supported this President, do not want him to succeed. But by manipulating the coverage of the Iraq War by minimizing positive coverage, they are instead harming our military and emboldening our enemies.
Mr. Alexander expresses similar sentiments thusly:
Despite enormous progress in our tactical and strategic operations to seed democracy in a region that has known only tyranny for its entire history, the Democrats and their Leftmedia have politicized these operations for one stupefyingly inane purpose: To undermine support for the Bush administration, and thus, Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections. . . . Idiocy of this sort undermines not only the safety of American military personnel abroad, but also that of our civilians here at home.
It is good to see that the real message is finally spreading.

Taxes

I'm sitting here filling out my 1040 and I have to wonder how folks don't just look at this thing and immediately want to become Republicans.

What's In a Name?

While I maintain that THE movie of 2006 is going to be Talladega Nights with Will Farrell, I have just been made aware of another film that has some serious potential. At first I thought this was a joke, but it appears to be real. There are really only two things you need to know about this film.

1) The film is called Snakes on a Plane.

2) It stars Samuel L. Jackson

You can do the math.

UPDATE: Watch the trailer here!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Disappointment

I am still trying to recover from Duke's disappointing loss to LSU last night. I am upset that Duke lost, of course, but I am even more upset for J. J. Redick. J.J. has had one of the greatest careers in ACC history, despite facing some of the worst abuse of any player in league history. He has worked hard to make himself into one of the ACC's best and most reliable scorers and I felt he deserved to go out as a National Champion.

Redick has nothing to be ashamed of. According to GoDuke.com, Redick leaves as one of the most decorated players in Duke history. Back-to-back National Player of the Year, back-to-back ACC Tournament MVP, leading NCAA career three-point shooter, top scorer in ACC history, and on and on. Unfortunately, J.J. never performed that well in the NCAA Tournament. It is unfortunate that the great career of such a good Virginia-bred kid and stellar basketball player had to end on such a down note. Still, I remain proud of J.J. and I look eagerly forward to what his future holds.

Thanks for the memories, J.J., and good luck in the NBA!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hokie Blogging

I realize that I haven't talked much about my beloved Virginia Tech Hokies recently and that's pretty much because thare's not much to say. Saying the Hokies' basketball team had a tough year is an understatement. As TechSideline's Will Stewart describes in this post-season wrap-up, injuries, personal tragedies, and freak losses defined the Hokie's sophomore season in the ACC.

As Will points out, there is also cause for optimism for next year. The Hokies will actually have 12 scholarship players on the bench next year so hopefully the starters won't have to play so many minutes. Further, Greenberg continues to bring in solid recruits that should contribute immediately.

However, there are two words that should bring hope to any Virginia Tech fan who remains disappointed about our school's hardwood performance: football season

That's right, with the opening of Spring Practice yesterday, it is time for Hokies everywhere to turn their attention to the gridiron. CollegeFootballNews.com has the ACC Schedules and has the Hokies penciled in for another 10-win season. Meanwhile, CBS Sportline.com has their Spring Top 25 where the Hokies come in at #12. CBS also predicts a second-consecutive Coastal Divison Title. That's not too shabby considering the Hokies are have lost their #1 QB, their top 2 RBs, most of their Offensive line, several Defensive stars AND are breaking in four new coaches.

As Will Stewart outlines in this Spring Preview, despite the new names and faces, there is still a great deal of talent on this team. The Hokies have also stocked up on creampuff opponents this year, which should help the transition of the new players. The Hokies' out-of-conference schedule is probably the weakest in the ACC with the likes of Northeastern, Kent State, Cincinnati, and Southern Mississippi visiting Blacksburg this year. VT's road games aren't all that tough either visiting UNC, BC, Wake Forest and Miami (where they won two years ago).

In any case, despite a great deal of turnover in Blacksburg this year, the Hokies of fall are primed for another successful season. As the weather warms and March Madness fades from memory, Hokie fans everywhere will begin priming their portable grills, readying their facepaint and gobbler noisemakers, and stocking up on Wild Turkey.

For us, September 2 can't come soon enough.

Back on Offense

It appears that the White House and Conservatives way be awakening from their slumber in regards to the War in Iraq. For weeks the press has just been having a field day running down the President and the Iraq War and it has been having a marked affect on public perception of both.

Now it seems as though the President and his supporters are fighting back. Earlier this week, President Bush and reporter Helen Thomas got into a bit of a scuffle over the War as the President strongly defended his decision. Then yesterday, a mother in West Virginia asked the President how we could challenge the media's negative portrayal of the War. Apparently ABC News, and no doubt other networks, have received hundreds of complaints about the lack of balance in their coverage of what is going on in Iraq.

Today, Tim Graham at the National Review examines the arguments against the media's coverage of the War and the networks' typically self-serving response to that criticism. For example he points out that after Laura Ingraham challenged NBC's Today show on their coverage, NBC responded with claims that the White House was just trying to "shoot the messenger" and use the media as a "scapegoat" for his failures.

These defenses, however, do nothing to answer the question about whether the media's coverage represents the true nature of what is going on in Iraq, which it doesn't. Unfortunately the media has fallen victim to conflating success in Iraq with President Bush's success. Achieving victory in Iraq should not be a Republican or Democratic issue. We can accept the fact that the media, by and large comprised of liberals who have never supported this President, do not want him to succeed. But by manipulating the coverage of the Iraq War by minimizing positive coverage, they are instead harming our military and emboldening our enemies.

I certainly do not believe that this is the result that the media desires, but it is the effect of their
actions nonetheless. I am glad to see that the President and his supporters are finally fighting back and trying to ensure that the American people hear the many positive stories that are coming out of Iraq. I hope that they continue to do so.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Who's Your Daddy?

Courtesy of RealClearPolitics.com, Kathleen Parker has written an emotionally compelling article about the role of fatherhood in our society entitled 'Deleting Dad.'

Parker looks at a recent spate of books and news reports that indicate a disturbing trend for some women to seek the joys of parenthood without the "inconvenience" of choosing a husband. In some cases, women are even choosing the genetic characteristics they want from their sperm donors so as to achieve a certain look in their children. As Parker says, "Techos is winning the war against Eros, and leaving us spiritually poorer for the victory."

Parker goes on to explain how these women, by intentionally depriving their children of a permanent, stable father-figure, are also depriving their children of a relationship that is vital to a natural state of development. One need only take a brief look at our juvenile justice system to understand the impact of fatherless homes on our society.

As Parker concludes:

There's something terribly wrong with this picture, and it is this: These are sad stories that reveal symptoms of a diseased culture in which human relationships have no moral content and children are treated as accessories to adult lives. Yet, these trends are portrayed as the latest gosh-gee fashions.

A society in which women are alone, men are lonely, and children don't have fathers is nothing to celebrate. And a future world filled with fatherless children - bereft of half their identity and robbed of a father's love, discipline and authority - won't likely be a pleasant place to live.

While we can all understand and have compassion for those who are forced into single-parent situations, to intentionally deprive your child of a natural father-child relationship for your own "convenience" is an astoundingly selfish abdication of responsibility.

Gubernatorial Approval Ratings

Survey USA released their latest poll of Gubernatorial Approval ratings yesterday, and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine should be feeling pretty good with 53% approval as compared to 33% disaproval. That puts Kaine right about in the middle of the pack among his colleagues.

The highest approval rating goes to North Dakota Republican John Hoeven, while the lowest goes to a fellow Republican, Ohio's Bob Taft, with 17% approval. Another interesting poll number is that of GOP "Golden Boy" Mitt Romney, who comes in with a meager 42% approval, as opposed to 52% disapproval.

That's what I call underwhelming.

It's Football Season

I'm sitting here watching an international friendly between the United States and Germany and I have to say I'm getting pretty excited for World Cup 2006 this summer.

The United States had a great run in Korea and Japan four years ago when they advanced to the quarterfinals before falling to what was considered a vastly superior German team by a score of only 1-0. Four years later, the tables have turned to some extent. The United States will field its best team ever when the World Cup opens in June. In fact, just last week, the US achieved its highest ever FIFA ranking by climbing to 5th place in the world. The U.S. sits behind only Brazil, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, and Argentina in the latest rankings. Host nation Germany, on the other hand, fell out of the top 20 in those same rankings.

This is not to say that the U.S. will have an easy go of it this summer. They have been placed in what some consider to be the toughest group of the Tournament. Group E may very well earn the "Group of Death" moniker by including three of the world's Top 12 teams. The group comprised of #2 Czech Republic, #5 United States, and #12 Italy is also rounded out by a solid, if understrength, team from Ghana.

With the start of the MLS season coming up on April 1, now's a good time for Americans to get primed to cheer on our team this summer as we aim to shock the world and try to advance to our best finish since reaching the 1930 semifinals in a tournament that only had 13 teams.

Larry Sabato: Matchmaker

The legend of UVA's Larry Sabato continues to grow thanks to this Washington Times item today about Kate Obenshain Griffin's speech at UVA tonight. While Sabato says he won't be able to attend, he sort of takes credit for getting Phil Griffin and Kate Obenshain together in his Campaigns and Elections seminar.

The item also publicizes the efforts of the organization that is hosting tonight's event, the Network of Enlightened Women (NeW). The conservative women's organization, founded at UVA in 2004, has now expanded to a number of other campuses across the nation. Says NeW founder Karin Agness:
I think NeW is appealing because it provides an opportunity for conservative women to explore ideas with like-minded women and build friendships at the same time.
It is great to see this type of grassroots effort finding success at our college campuses and challenging the entrenched orthodoxy of liberal feminism that so many women are faced with when they arrive as Freshmen.

You go girls!

North Korea's Perfect People

Interesting article a friend sent me showing how North Korea kills at birth all infants who are born with birth defects or deformities in order to purify the race and ensure that they aren't a burden on the already starving and malnourished people of North Korea.

Pretty amazing where these things lead.

Potts Speculation

Commonwealth Watch, Elephant Ears, and Commonwealth Conservative have all posted about the rampant speculation over Russ Potts' future, so who am I to ignore the tide of blogger opinion.

As much as all of us would LOVE to see Potts go quietly, don't count on it. This man is so delusional that he believes himself to be the ultimate arbiter of all that is good and right with politics in Virginia. Potts views the attacks against him as validation of his importance, not evidence of his idiosyncrasy. It is actually disturbing to me that 2% of Virginia voters actually voted for the guy for Governor, but I guess there is no accounting for taste.

The best comment I have seen so far on this situation was made in response to Chad Dotson's post by someone calling themselves "Valley Redneck":

Y'all been to Winchester lately? There'’s the smell of blood in the water... you can'’t throw a rock without hitting Mark Tate.

Jill Holtzman Vogel raises money by walking into a room and saying "“Russ Potts."” The cash flies from all corners.

That's funny no matter who you are.

Kate Griffin at UVA Tonight

After yesterday's "discussion" over at Commonwealth Conservative regarding our Party Chair, Kate Obenshain Griffin, I received an email from a source who informs me that said Party Chair will be speaking to a group of students at the University of Virginia this evening.

Here's the info:
"Running on Empty: Why Campus Liberals and Hypocritical Democrats Can't Win."

with

Republican Party of VA Chairman Kate Obenshain Griffin (CLAS '91)

Wednesday, March 22nd at 6p.m.

Jefferson Hall (Hotel C on the West Range)

This event is open to the public and all are encouraged and welcomed to attend.

Named by the Atlanta Journal Constitution as one of the rising starts in the Republican Party, Kate Griffin has worked tirelessly to defend and advance conservative principles in Virginia and beyond since becoming chairman in fall of 2003. She has led rallies, held press conferences, orchestrated grassroots movements, served on the RNC's platform committee and co-founded and now co-chairs a political leadership training program for Republican women. Chairman Griffin has made several appearances on NPR, C-SPAN and the Fox News Channel. She is featured in the book Great American Conservative Women.

Kate Griffin is a graduate of the University of Virginia where she served as editor of the Virginia Advocate.

Check out her complete bio at http://www.vagop.com/contents/welcome/bio.shtml

and another article from the Arts and Sciences Council http://aands.virginia.edu/x7164.xml.

Co-Sponors: Network of enlightened Women (NeW), the Virginia Advocate, The Federalist Society, College Republicans, Law GOP
Sounds like a great event. I hope that all of the good Republicans in Charlottesville will be there to support her.

Allen on the Trail

For heaven's sakes, you can't swing a cat these days without hitting an article about our great U.S. Senator George Allen.

For example, the RTD has devotedly covered Senator Allen's trip to Iowa this weekend where he spread the gospel of Jeffersonian Conservative values that have been the mark of his success in our Commonwealth. They've also covered the Senator's travels here and here this week.

Next we have Senator Allen's fellow UVA Alum Rich Lowry reporting over at the National Review on the Romney v. Allen Battle Royale that is shaping up for 2008. Lowry characterizes the contest as a race for the title of "the conservative who will try to stand athwart the sometimes unorthodox, party-defying McCain for the nomination." He also notes that "Romney vs. Allen could well become a classic of intra-Republican conflict, featuring two equally formidable politicians jockeying to occupy nearly identical ideological ground."

And here's what Lowry has to say about Allen specifically:
The Virginia senator is as affable a politician as exists in America. The son and namesake of the famous football coach, Allen is such a perfect representative of football-obsessed, NASCAR-loving Red State America — down to the cowboy boots and the spit cup — that you couldn't create a better specimen in the laboratory. Allen's natural political skills and his down-the-line conservatism have fueled the strongly favorable insider buzz about his candidacy.
That is some pretty nice publicity, but as Lowry points out, Allen has a potentially bruising reelection fight to worry about first.

Then there is the Republican candidate's ultimate badge of honor, being attacked in the New York Times Editorial page.

Finally, there's this silly column from US News reviewing the happenings at SLRC. You'll have to read this one for yourself:

Sen. George Allen of Virginia went after the far-right vote with gusto. He said there was "no substitute for victory" in Iraq. Certainly he was thinking about some sort of political victory since the military operations against the insurgents continue to sink into a quagmire. Those jingoistic words drew an ovation, but Allen is clearly on the fringe with his appeal.

Wow, Senator Allen is sooooo on "the fringe"by calling for victory in Iraq. What is he thinking?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Contenders Line up for new NFL Commish

ESPN.com's Page 2 has vetted a thorough list of candidates for the NFL's top job and has compiled a powerful and prestigious list of finalists. Among the targets are: Condoleeza Rice, Bill Clinton, Isaiah Thomas, Cobra Commander, and Vince McMahon.

Funny.

Wishful Thinking

I see that Waldo Jaquith is waxing philosophical about this Style Weekly article and once again predicting the emminent downfall of the Republican Party in Virginia.

I hate to rain on his parade, and I'm certainly not saying we don't have our share of problems, but let me just remind folks about a few victories that the Republican Party of Virginia can be proud of:
  • Going for the Republican candidate in 10 straight Presidential elections
  • Both U.S. Senators
  • 8 of 11 U.S. Congressmen
  • Two out of three Statewide offices
  • 57 of 100 State Delegates
  • 23 of 40 State Senators
Again, this is not to say that everything is hunky-dory, but rather to say that there is a lot for Republicans in Virginia to be optimistic about. We obviously need to continue to work hard to elect Republican candidates, but the fact is that a large number of Virginians agree with our message and that fact has been proven again and again at the ballot box.

George Will on March Madness

Courtesy of RealClearPolitics.com, George Will weighs in with his fervent hope for the political madness of March to be left behind. Will has some interesting thoughts on the failed Dubai ports deal and its possible effect on the US economy. However his more interesting analysis is reserved for the Democratic Party's efforts to move several state caucuses between the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary in 2008. The natural result of this, says Will, is to benefit the front runner, in this case Hillary Clinton. Will concludes with teh following observation:
By 2008, America will have gone 11 elections without choosing a president from the Northeast. Ten since choosing an avowed liberal (Lyndon Johnson). Only two sitting senators have been elected president—Warren Harding and John Kennedy. And in the 46 years since it elected Massachusetts' Senator Kennedy, the Northeast's percentage of the nation's electoral votes has declined from 24.8 percent to 18.8 percent. But in March 2006 the Democratic Party has increased the probability that in March 2008 its nomination will be secured by a liberal Northeastern senator. Madness? Maybe.
Good stuff.

Constant Entertainment

These are a few reasons why I love reading "The Corner" over at National Review Online:

An entymology of the term "moonbat"

A news release about Iraqi Soldiers graduating a three-week course training the to operate and perform maintenance on Humvees (That course took me 10 weeks, by the way)

A hilarious video proving why it's a bad idea to marry Harrison Ford (my sister needs to watch this one)

A link to the Geoffrey Chaucer blog

and

A review of Shakespeare's All's Well That Ends Well

As I said, its constant entertainment for the political/pop-culture junkies among us.

NoVa Sports Blogging

I was getting ready to write something about the whole Alfonso Soriano saga going on at Nats Spring Training when I saw that Mason Conservative has already done it for me. Basically all I have to say is that this is not a good way to start off the season. Now that D.C. has finally agreed to build the Nats a permanent home, I was hoping for some better vibes coming out of Viera, Florida.

While I'm at it, I need to congratulate the Commonwealth's only team in the NCAA Tournament, the George Mason Patriots. The Green and Gold have been impressive in defeating two powerhouse programs in Michigan State and North Carolina and advancing to the Sweet 16 when many were saying they didn't belong in the Tourney at all. GMU is representing the Commonwealth very well indeed and you can bet I'll be rooting for them this weekend.

More McCain

Judging from this Washington Post column that tries hard to paint McCain as a conservative, I think it is safe to say that Democrats are pretty scared of this guy being the GOP nominee. I agree with some of the comments below that are skeptical of McCain chances to do just that, but I would remind folks that there was a time when many Republicans thought that Bob Dole was too "moderate" to win the GOP nomination.

Bottom Line: Never underestimate the ability of the GOP to nominate someone because it is "their turn." It doesn't make it a good idea, it's just the truth.

I Would be Remiss

I realize that I haven't linked to my buddy GOPHokie in a while but I would be remiss if I didn't recognize the excellent blogging that has been going on over there recently. I guess since the Hokies' basketball season hasn't been too much of a distraction, he been able to channel his energies into something else.

Keep up the good work!

A Rose-Colored Hue

Chad Dotson has uncovered a new leap in MSM blogging with the debut of the Washington Post's "Red America." This conservative blog is written by Redstate contributor Ben Domenech. Chad mentions that Ben was one of his inspirations for getting into blogging and the same can be said for us here at SST. Ben Domenech's blog was one of the first political blogs that I ever read.

It appears that "Red America" is off to a rousing start as Ben's first post includes a reference to one of my favorite anti-Communist movies, Red Dawn. This 80's cinematic classic features the acting talents of Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey, and a scary-good C. Thomas Howell. Wolverines!

Of course the post also includes Ben's typically astute analysis about why Democrats can't catch a break at the ballot box and why Republicans are taking their lumps too. This one looks very promising.

Monday, March 20, 2006

McCain- The Only Alternative on Iraq?

Inspired by OZ's post, it's occurred to me recently that there's only a semantic difference between the President's position on Iraq, and that of his toughest critics. The Honorable John Murtha and most Democrats in Congress call for the announcement of a timetable of withdrawal, but usually leave plenty of room for the extension of that timetable. The President and most Republicans (rightly) refuse to announce a timetable, but end up frequently dropping hints and clues as to how long they are planning to stay.

But not John McCain. The only guy who isn't calling for a draw-down in '06, lays out his Iraq strategy fairly well in this October 2005 op-ed.
If there's one reason I can overcome the pain in my stomach I feel everytime I hears someone say "Bick-Rah" (Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which is next only to the Alien and Sedition Act in terms of rank heinosity) it's that he may be the strongest, clearest, voice on Iraq.

McCain = Frontrunner

Despite the recent events at SRLC, Arizona Senator John McCain still has to be considered the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2008. The Baltimore Sun has a great article today about McCain's strategy and what has changed since 2000.

While I am a die-hard George Allen supporter, I think that McCain should be considered the strongest general election candidate for the GOP. Against a Democratic nominee that looks increasingly likely to be either Hillary Clinton or Al Gore, McCain would wipe the floor with either. In addition, McCain furthers the "Southwest Strategy" that will be necessary for GOP candidates to continue winning national elections. It is essential that the GOP keep the fast-growing states of Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada in the GOP column and remain competitive in New Mexico. McCain gives the GOP the best chance in those states and essentially reduces the "battleground" area to the Rust belt states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Again, I'll be casting my primary vote for George Allen, but Virginia is not likely to be a battleground state in '08 unless the remote possibility of Mark Warner grabbing the Democratic nomination comes to fruition. If McCain wins the nomination, Republicans should support him, particularly those who have been frustrated by the big-spending proclivities of the Bush administration.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Remembering Tom Fox

Tom Fox was a truly extra-ordinary man. Killed last week in Iraq after being taken hostage 4 months ago in Baghdad, the Sprinfield, VA Quaker and peace activist had been keeping a blog of his time in Iraq, living outside the "secure" part of Baghdad since September 2004, at http://waitinginthelight.blogspot.com/. Fox is eulogized in this Connection Newspaper editorial.

Fox's life story, which is well-covered in this Connection Newspaper article, is particularly amazing and inspiring. A friend said Fox would've wanted to be thought of as an ordinary man, but I doubt that friend or many others would agree. I have never been a man of extraordinary faith, but a life like this one, an seemingly average joe (a grocery store assistant manager) who answered a higher calling and did something incredible, inspires me to take a closer examination of my spirituality and relationship to God. It should also inspire all of us to clear our eyes, minds, and hearts from the fog of this war, and look for solutions that bring about peace.

I have been a supporter of the intervention in Iraq since it was announced by the President. I continue to support the presence of the U.S. military in Iraq, but those of us who stand for those American values, those of us who believe in the shining city on the hill, those of us who believe that our men and women are sacrificing there lives for the betterment of the Iraqi people and the safety and security of the world would do well to hold dear to our hearts the memories, principles, and words of Tom Fox.

The only “something in my life” I can hold onto is to do what little I can to bring about the creation of the Peaceable Realm of God. It is my sense that such a realm will always have natural disasters. It is the “man-made” disasters that we are called upon to bring to and end.

Wearin' O' the Green

What the heck are you doing here reading blogs? Go find your nearest Irish pub and grab a Guinness. 'Tis a Holy Day, after all.

Sláinte and Éireann go Brách, everyone!

The Natives are Restless

The Washington Post has an interesting column today about the brewing GOP irritation with the Bush Administration. Despite the fact that anything the WaPo says about the GOP should be taken with a heafty grain of salt, I think the analysis is pretty spot-on as it relies heavily on the voices of actual GOP Congressmen and not on speculation and unnamed sources.

No matter how cranky the Republicans on Capitol Hill get, the Bush administration must realize that it remains in their best interest to have the GOP retain control of Congress. Using GOP Congressmen as human flak-jackets can only go so far until the President will find himself wholly unprotected.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

WOW

$30,000 in debt for every American, men, women, and children.

The debt limited increased 3 TRILLION dollars under Bush.

Tourney Time!

I am going to be worthless for the remainder of the next two days as I prepare to get college basketball overload.

For the record, Chad Dotson had better prepare to hate Duke a little more, because they are going to win the whole she-bang.

Other than Duke, I'll also be rooting for the only Virginia school in the field, the George Mason Patriots, and also for my parents' alma maters, Florida and Davidson.

Let's Get it On!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Mood of the GOP

From the newly-redesigned RealClearPolitics.com comes an article from this weekend's SRLC that is not about the straw poll. Rather, the author discusses what he perceived to be the mood of the GOP grassroots.

Bottom line: The mood was concerned but optimistic. I think this bodes well for the GOP this fall as there is certainly room for concern, but it is important that we use that to motivate us to work harder, not to depress GOP turnout.

What Is Hidden Will Be Made Known

As we watch Barry Bonds' reputation fall apart as the truth comes out about his use of steroids ever since the 1998 season, it just reminds me of how true Matthew 10:26-27 is:

Fear not, for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and nothing hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in darkness, you will speak in the light, and what I whisper in your ear, you shall preach on the rooftops.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Go Wahoos v. Stanford

Tonight at 9:30 on ESPN, UVA men's basketball is playing at Stanford. Sean Singletary and company will hopefully give us another postseason victory in the NIT. Hopefully this year next time we will be in the tourney instead.

Next year, with Leitao, Singletary, 3 new recruits two of which are top 100 recruits, and the John Paul Jones arena, I think we may be ballin' in the NCAA tourney.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Wrongful Birth?

This article in the New York Times makes me kinda sick. A woman is suing her obstretician for medical malpractice because he failed to diagnose the Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome that her daughter had. She says that she would have aborted the child if she had fully known the condition that the fetus had. This is part of a growing "wrongful BIRTH" medical malpractice field in which women who want to abort children with Down Syndrome or other deformities sue their doctor for not making them aware of the deformities or retardation or failing to take the proper precautions to determine whether the child might have a problem.

In future years, you will see the mentally retarded and people with down syndrome become a much smaller percentage of the population as people continue to choose what children to have based on the pride and joy the children will provide to the parents themselves. We live in an era when children are treated like ornaments or play things for their parents.
Children who will require extra expenses or attention paid, beyond the neglectful eye that career focused parents are trying to shine on them, will not be introduced into a world that is best able to enable them then ever before.

Claude Allen's Demise?

I must say I was extremely shocked to see the reports of Claude Allen's arrest for stealing $5,000 in merchandise from a Montgomery County Target and Hechts. It just seems so ridiculous to me for a man of his stature to be wasting his time with stealing so little in such a petty way. I'm not saying massive embezzlement of government funds would be justified, but it would perhaps make more sense, perhaps be rationale. But this just lacks any point whatsoever. Why risk such a sterling reputation and job potential for a Bose Wave Radio system?

Claude Allen, former Secretary of Health for Allen and Gilmore's administrations in Virginia, and a filibustered nominee to the 4th Circuit, and most recently Bush's top domestic policy advisor before resigning about a month ago simply doesn't fit the bill of someone who would do this.

I am interested to see whether he will be convicted and how credible the charges are. We can only hope this indeed was a misunderstanding as his attorney claims.

Tennessean Dreamin'

Nashville's newspaper, The Tennessean, has a pretty hilarious article making the case that Bill Frist should be the front-runner for the '08 GOP Presidential nomination based on the votes of his fellow Tennesseans at the SRLC this weekend.

Not only is it silly to put too much stock in a poll taken two years out, but the Tennesean goes on to make some absurd assumptions about the rest of the field. For example, the article says that McCain and Allen "took themselves out of contention." While McCain did certainly undercut the legitimacy of the poll by asking his supporters to write-in President Bush, he remains very much the likely-front runner in terms of organization and media coverage. Likewise, while it was strange for Allen to proclaim he didn't care about the result, he still placed third in the poll and beat out Romney as the 2nd choice of the home-state lovin' Frist voters.

The article also states that Mitt Romney's supporters "picture him as the alternative to McCain for evangelical Christians." While the Mormons might like to portray themselves as part of this coalition, you can bet that Romney is the LAST person that many evangelicals want at the top of the ticket.

The article is nice spin for Bill Frist, but political observers outside of Tennessee know the truth. The good Doctor's star has faded badly since taking over as Majority Leader. Getting Roberts and Alito confirmed is good for him, but I doubt his efforts will be enough to keep him much in the public eye after he leaves his Senate seat next January.

The Fatigue Factor

Back on March 1st I wrote at length about the problems I am seeing in the Bush Administration and that concern has been echoed in numerous places in recent weeks. Today the Washington Post weighs in with the idea that Bush's team of advisors, many of whom have been with him since he first decided to run for President, are simply burned out.

Having worked in Washington myself, I'm pretty willing to by that argument. I have seen colleagues get burned out on the D.C. grind within a matter of months on Capitol Hill, I can only image what the President's staff is going through, particularly after such a greuling re-election battle. I was over D.C after a year and a half, so I am personally impressed that so many of Bush's inner circle has stuck around for five-plus years.

Perhaps it is time for some new blood to be infused into this Administration.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Redick's Road to Redemption

With the NCAA Tournament brackets revealed this evening, March Madness is truly upon us. As I fill out my bracket for a friendly tournament pool, I can't help but pick Roanoke's J.J. Redick to cap off his NCAA and ACC record-breaking career by leading the Duke Blue Devils to another NCAA title. It would be particularly sweet to do it by defeating a Connecticut team that ousted them from the Final Four two years ago by a single point.

I'll also be rooting for George Mason and Hampton to represent the Commonwealth well in the tourney, but it is Redick who has my attention for the duration. I'd love to see Redick go out on top and be rewarded for his four years of leadership, commitment, and hard work.

He deserves it.

Frist wins SRLC '08 Straw Poll

This weekend the Southern Republican Leadership Conference was held in Memphis, TN and many of the '08 Presidential hopefuls on the GOP side were in attendance. Bill Frist, Mitt Romney, George Allen and John McCain were among the honored guests who addressed the conference this weekend and hoped to boost their own propsects for the 2008 nomination.

Last night, a straw poll sponsored by Hotline was conducted of the conference attendees to indicate their preference for the Party's nominee in 2008. Given the conference's location it should come as no surprise that Tennessee Senator, and Majority Leader, Bill Frist came in first with 36.9% of the vote. However, the results should not be discounted as Frist is not running for re-election this year and will have free reign to travel the country seeking support while Allen and McCain are tethered to Capitol Hill. The second place finisher was Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who is also not seeking re-election this year. Virginia's George Allen finished in third place tied with President George Bush.

The Allen-Frist-Romney dynamic will be an interesting one to watch as all three are likely to try an position themselves as the conservative alternative to the more moderate McCain (not to mention Giuliani or Pataki if they get in). Frist's only experience in elected office is his six years in the Senate so he is likely to emphasize both his quick rise to leadership as NRSC Chair and the Majority Leader combined with his practical experience as a doctor and how that could affect health care reform.

Romney is also a relative political neophyte with only a single four-year term as Governor in a liberal state under his belt. He'll rely on his ability to win in a blue state as a key to his "electability." I am guessing that Romney might skip the Iowa caucuses and focus his attention on winning the nearby New Hampshire primary to give him some momentum. Still, I think his candidacy will die in South Carolina where his Mormonism will allow him no better than a fourth-place finish.

Allen has a much longer career in public service from which to draw as a State Legislator, Congressman, Governor and now Senator. Allen is likely to emphasize his success as an executive in reforming welfare, education and criminal justice in Virginia thereby setting a standard for many similar reforms at the national level. he will also rely on his Chairmanship of the NRSC in 2004, when the GOP gained 4 Senate seats, for proof of his ability as a Party leader. Just like Frist and Romney, Allen's weakness may be in the areas of defense and national security. However, Allen at least has his seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his relationship with Senate Armed Services Committee chair John Warner from which to draw. Even so, Allen probably has more ground to make up on Name ID than either Frist or Romney.

Allen-Frist-Romney will certainly be an interesting relationship to keep an eye on over the next two years. While the latter two seem to have an advantage at this stage, I would not count out Allen who loves playing the underdog.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sine Die.....for now.

The General Assembly has adjourned, Sine Die ("without delay" right?) which means that session is over. Of course, since they will be reconvening on Monday March 27th at 12 noon at Governor Kaine's call... what is really means is they can finally start fundraising again.

Here are the House Minutes for the final day of the regular 2006 GA session (and here are the Senate)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pleased to See SCOTUS Uphold Solomon Amendment

It was encouraging to see the unanimous decision of the Court announced on Monday to uphold the Solomon Amendment. I'm excited to see the Roberts court already making solid decisions. As a JAG officer myself who was recruited on the campus of UVA Law School, I think this is an important decision and a slap in the face to all those Ivy League liberals up in New England. Top of the morning to you all!

LeBlanc rejection

Since just about everyone in the Virginia blogsphere has already commented on LeBlanc's rejection, I won't belabor the point.
However, I think the conservative/Republican side is underestimating the fallout from this event. I think the rejection will hurt Republican among the Commonwealth's independents, especially those who lean libertarian.
However, even if there is no fallout, I strongly disagree with this move. No one would disagree with rejecting a nominee with a felony record, or who was incompetent. But though I dislike LeBlanc and his pro-unionization stance, that's not the allegation against him. Rejecting the executive's nominee because you disagree with his political views is something completely different. In fact, its what the Democrats have been trying to do to President Bush's SCOTUS nominees. That may be what they do in Washington, but it isn't how we do things here in the Commonwealth. I thought we were better than that.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Singletary First Team All-ACC

Very excited to see Sean Singletary get named First Team All-ACC, the first Virginia Cavalier since Bryant Stith on the First Team since 1992. There have been a lot of good Cavaliers in that time period, so it's quite an honor for him: Travis Watson, Roger Mason, Curtis Staples, Junor Burroughs, Cory Alexander, Harold Deane among others. J.R. Reynolds also was named Third Team All-ACC. Let's hope both of the guys improve over the off season and lead their team to greater accomplishments next year.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Here we go again...

Read this Mike Shear piece from Thursday's WaPo. Then read it again. Take momentary solace in the fact that Mike Shear really lays out the case against Kaine well. Sure, he takes the eyebrow down a 'notch. But The House GOP is starting to act like a teenager with low-self esteem, just repeating the same abusive relationship all over again.

So? How do we break the cycle of abuse? What do we do to get ourselves out from behind the 8 ball?

Hundreds I say, Hundreds!!!

Virginia Belle and these liberal Ohio bloggers need to relax. Citing this Columbus Dispatch story they say Ohio Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell is serving up the online identities of his constituents like Aegeus subjects to Minos' monstrous offspring.
First, Blackwell's statement about his hands being tied by law should not be looked at with this level of ridicule. So far, we've got to take them at their word that they are bound by the Ohio code to do this, and to not alter the documents in any way. Second, if there are hundreds of thousands of these things online, and only a few hundred people have listed their social security number, then I'm going to guess that it's not as bad as let's say a University, maybe one of Virginia, using all of its students SSNs as their principal student ID numbers.

The problem both these blogs and this poster have in commenting on this story is that the Dispatch is admittedly withholding key information (namely, what is the form and who filled it out).

Now I don't have the time brainpower to figure out what this form is and come up with a reasonable explanation to stick with my partisan gut, or to cross the street on this one, but I trust someone out there does (probably the "it" blogger of the weekJaded JD)