The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Saturday, April 30, 2005

SST tries to do RSS

Apparently, some people who read this blog never actually go to http://sicsempertyrannis.blogspot.com. Instead, they read the posts on some sort of aggregator that they have set up. This appears to be a deliberate attempt to avoid looking at our sweet new logo. This aggregator is called an RSS feed.

We've gotten a few emails in the last two weeks saying that our RSS feed was screwed up. When the RSS feed isn't working, it's like a plug in the pipes, and no posts make it through the aggregator. I fix the problem posts as soon as I know about them, and we'll try to keep things flowing.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Reporterette resurfaces

I stopped in Charlottesville for some Bodo's Bagels (highly recommended!) and was flipping through a free weekly paper - The Hook. Inside was this blurb:
Latest Nelson nicety: Nelson County Life debuts this month. Publishers (both former TV reporters) Tommy and Yvette Stafford promise "if-it-bleeds-it-leads" and "sensational-ambush" journalism will not appear in their magazine.
Yvette, of course, was a member of the Old Dominion Blog Alliance until her blog went mysteriously dormant on February 27th.

You should check out Nelson County Life. It doesn't appear that any issues have been posted online, but I am sure they will be forthcoming.

More Bush speech analysis

Last night in my analysis of President Bush's speech, I noted that Democrats have no faith in the American people. In today's LA Times, David Gelernter agrees with me:
The ugly truth is that Democrats habitually treat voters like children. It's the basis of their philosophy.
Not only that, but the Democrats are acting like children themselves, stomping their feet and pouting every time Bush announces a new policy idea. There are actually Democrats who believe that Tom Daschle's obstructionism isn't what got him booted from the Senate. If Democrats want to keep on believing they can bog down every Administration initiative in parlimentary procedure and not suffer any consequences, go ahead. We'll just keep doing in 2006 what we did in 2002 and 2004. Winning.

Former Del. Fenton Bland gets five years

Former Del. Fenton Bland was just sentenced to 57 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution to the bank he defrauded. You'll recall that Bland resigned at the beginning of the 2005 session. Stealing money from nursing home patients is generally frowned upon in today's society. At the same time, my heart goes out to the Bland family.
U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson rejected Bland's appeal for a reduced sentence. Bland's wife, Elizabeth, is institutionalized at Central State Hospital and Bland said his incarceration would leave their young children without no one.

"Judge, I ask for mercy. Please have leniency on me," Bland said haltingly.

Allen v. Clinton in '08

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire has the results of that poll of 215 political insiders that puts Sen. George Allen at the top of the GOP Presidential list. The poll also puts Hillary Clinton well ahead of her competitors for the Democrats nomination. Interestingly, Mark Warner finished a fairly strong third in the Democrat poll behind Clinton and John Edwards.

This poll is probably a good interpretation of the candidates' organizational strength. Lots of political insiders have been impressed with the staff that Allen has put together for his Senate re-election campaign and expect it to bear fruit on the Presidential trail should he win re-election.

The other part of the equation is obviously the voters. Not matter what kind of organization you have, if the primary voters aren't sold, you are done. As I mentioned last night, two of George Allen's strengths are connecting with voters and mobilizing the conservative base. This will certainly help him in Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere. As for Clinton, she is obviously beloved by the liberal base, but the Dean-wing of the party has not exactly been cozy with the Clintons. It will be interesting to see if Democrats will nominate someone who already brings so much baggage to the race or if they will go with a fresher face like Edwards or Warner.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

President Bush Lays it on the Line

I thought I heard his spurs jingling when he was walking down that hallway to the microphone. President Bush is on the warpath, so you'd better saddle up, or catch the next train outta Dodge.

I watched the President's presser tonight, and I was impressed. I don't understand why the guy doesn't do more of these things because he really seems to thrive in the medium. He's focused, he's direct, he's confident, and gosh-darnit, he's right! The President was on point this evening, focusing his remarks on two key issues, Energy policy and Social Security. Lord knows the President has been under fire recently. Unfortunately, his ambitious second term agenda has been sidetracked and waylaid by a variety of other circumstances, from rising gas prices, to the Tom DeLay witch-hunt, to Senate Republicans efforts to force the Constitution down the Democrats' unwilling throats like a spoonful of Castor Oil.

Now, the President is back at the Ponderosa and he's putting the spotlight back squarely on himself. Forget about all that other stuff, he says. I've got a plan for America and doggone it, you're all gonna hear about it. The President seeks to make it clear that he is running the show and no matter what is going on in Congress, his agenda will go forward.

First, Energy policy. This country needs a comprehensive energy plan and it needs it now. As the President said, there's no magic wand that can be waved to reduce gas prices. However, he has laid out sensible solutions to a number of long-term energy problems faced by this country. The House has passed the bill, and now the tectonic plates in the US Senate must shift and get this bill to the President's desk. Technology and innovation will help rid us of our dependence on foreign oil. Increased exploration, including ANWR, will help rid us of our dependence on foreign oil. Alternative fuels and NUCLEAR POWER will help rid us of our dependence on foreign oil. These are sensible solutions that will provide real relief to the American people down the road. If you think gas prices are bad now, just fail to pass this legislation and see them keep rising until they top $5.00 a gallon like they are in England.

Second, Social Security. President Bush made the case for reform as clearly as it can be made tonight. Delaying this important reform is just plain selfish on the part of Democrats in Congress who will benefit from their own swank retirement plan but doom me and my children to fend for ourselves. How many ways can he say it folks? 1. Seniors will not lose their benefits! 2. Young people will not be allowed to squander away all their retirement money! 3. The people who need Social Security the most will be getting a BETTER deal and the program will remain solvent for years to come! What is the problem here? Oh that's right, it's petty politics. Democrats would hate to see people have an ownership stake in their own retirement money. Heck, then the government wouldn't be able to take it and waste it on their pet projects. Well, we can't have that. People taking ownership and responsibility for their money away from the government? The horror!

The simple fact is, the Democrats have no faith in the American people. They see themselves as caretakers of all the poor misguided souls out there. Guess what, Democrats. We can take care of ourselves just fine, thank you! Last November, America puts its faith in someone who has faith in them. All the Democrats can do is say "No!" to everything the President puts forth. "No!" is not a solution to our problems. It's time to make our voice heard once again.

Say "Yes!" to President Bush!

Say "Yes!" to comprehensive Energy Legislation!

Say "Yes!" to freedom and democracy in Iraq!

Say "Yes!" to confirming John Bolton to the UN!

Say "Yes!" to upholding the Constitution and giving Bush's judicial nominees an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor!

Say "Yes!" to real, effective Social Security reform!

Allen for President picks up steam

John Behan over at Commonwealth Conservative has a couple great posts looking at George Allen's potential run for the Republican nomination in '08. I know a number of people who have worked for the former Governor/now-Senator and I am convinced that he will indeed run in '08. If he does not gain the nomination, he will certainly get a good look as a potential Veep depending on who the nominee is.

However, first in the crosshairs is Allen's '06 Senate re-election campaign. As of now it seems unlikely that Allen will face a serious challenge next year. Governor Mark Warner is the Dems best hope of taking back the seat previously held by Chuck Robb. However, Warner seems unwilling to put his political life on the line against a figure of Allen's status in Virginia. Tim Kaine may be right that George Allen isn't a native Virginian, but his folksy charm and down-home ways have allowed him to be embraced by native Virginians across the state.

Furthermore, unlike Warner, Kaine and other Jonny-come-lately's who bear those Yankee law-school degrees, Allen spent his college and law school years here in the Commonwealth, actually lived in Abingdon for a time (I believe clerking for a judge there after law school if I'm not mistaken), and practiced law right here in Virginia as well before entering public office. Allen may have been born in California, but he is without doubt an adopted son of the Commonwealth.

In terms of the '08 campaign, Allen may seem like a long shot right now, but believe me, he likes it that way. One of Allen's heroes is Ronald Reagan, and there are some certain similarities there. Like Reagan, Allen is considered a lightweight. Democrats constantly question his mental faculties and poo-poo his political chances because of perceived shortcomings stemming from his folksy demeanor. Allen has made a career out of shattering those low expectations and humbling his cocky challengers.

Allen also emulates Reagan in that he is adored by the religious right despite not being outspoken about his beliefs or even really pledging committment to many of their goals. That is not to say he isn't committed to them, simply that he is not necessarily vocal about it. Furthermore, it seems that the mere sound of his voice sends liberals into a frothy rage wherein they babble incoherently and run screaming from the premises. Reagan (as well as our current President) invoked similar reactions from the left who couldn't understand why people liked and agreed with the man.

The same can be said for Allen, who, as John Behan points out, has an inate ability to truly connect with people. I cannot stress this feature enough, as it is probably the most important key to Allen success and the reason he should not be counted out in '08. I am not sure of much, but I am certain that when the Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and elsewhere get a load of George F. Allen, they are going to fall in love with the guy. That doesn't mean he'll win the nomination, but it does mean he'll be a force to be reckoned with on the campaign trail.

As always, we'll keep a close eye on Allen in the months and years to come.

Bill Frist offers compromise on judicial nominees

Of course, you would never know it from this biased AP title: Frist Won't Budge on Filibuster Demands.
Frist offered to retain the right to filibuster district court nominees in exchange for 100 hours of debate and guaranteed confirmation votes on the nation's highest judgeships. The Senate's top Republican also said that under his plan, senators would no longer be able to block nominees in the Judiciary Committee.

"Judicial nominees are being denied. Justice is being denied. The solution is simple, allow senators to do their jobs and vote," Frist said in a speech on the Senate floor.
I'm not in favor of any sort of stonewalling of the President's judicial nominees. But if we have to compromise in order to keep things moving, then getting all the Circuit Court nominees approved is a good start. It's certainly a better compromise than the lame Sixth Circuit deal that Harry Reid offered on Tuesday. Reid wanted to approve Richard Griffin, David McKeague and Susan Neilson in exchange for withdrawing Henry Saad's nomination.

As an aside, I'm in light posting mode for the next two weeks.

Harper's Magazine's Chilling Article

Harper's Magazine came out with a three part series in its May issue, which has hit the stands apparently, but is not on their webpage quite yet. But you can read an article here by Stanley Kurtz on today's NRO that analyzes the chilling attack on the Christian right and its supposed march toward fascism. All of the leftwing blogs are throwing around words like "Christian fascism" and the like right now in reference to Justice Sunday this weekend and the growth of the Christian right in the United States. These attacks are malicious and need to be confronted head on. Read an example of these blog attacks here.

Mr. Deeds tries to walk the middle of the road

Charlottesville Liberal Creigh Deeds is running for Attorney General. Unfortunately for him, hardly anybody has noticed. In today's Daily News-Record, Deeds laments the lack of media exposure he is getting as a result of running unopposed for the Democrat nomination for AG.

In the article, Deeds tries to paint himself as a reasonable moderate, as he loves to do when back in his native Bath county. However, this down-home facade is betrayed by his considerable record representing some of Virginia's most liberal constituencies in the State Senate. Deeds has repeatedly supported tax increases of every size and shape in the Senate. He has waffled on the gay marriage issue, criticizing Republicans publicly for marriage "restrictions," then voting for them. Democrats have tried to bolster Deeds' "moderate" credentials by pointing out that his record is less extreme than that of his only potential opponent, John Edwards (who has since dropped out of the race). If that isn't putting lipstick on a pig, I don't know what is.

ACC Spring Football Report Cards

Contrary to what some might think, the college football season never really ends. After the bowl games, its recruiting season, then the NFL Draft, then spring practice, then a long hot summer to dream about what glory might be seized in the coming gridiron battles of fall.

Now that most teams have gotten a good look at what they are working with this year, the sportwriters are shifting into full-tilt prognostication mode. ESPN.com has a thorough rundown of the ACC's teams here, including the new kid on the block, Boston College. If you want something more in-depth, CollegeFootballNews.com is putting out daily team profiles.

As far as the pre-preseason polls go, it looks like the expectation level for Virginia Tech is back up to post-1999 levels with another Vick manning the controls of the Hokies' offense. As for the Commonwealth's other team, Virginia is expected to be a solid team that competes for a Top 25 ranking. Those type of muted expectations aided VT's run to the ACC Championship last year. Can the Cavs match VT's overachieving effort of a year ago? Can the Hokies stand up under the pressure of the national spotlight? September is only 4 months away, here's how they're polling right now:

CFN: Virginia Tech-#5, Virginia-#27
CNNSi: Virginia Tech-#6, Virginia-"On the cusp" [of the Top 25]
CBSSportsline: Virginia Tech-#11, Virginia-"Ten to watch"[outside Top 25]
ESPN.com: Top 10s ranked by panel of sportswriters
Maisel: Virginia Tech-#6
Forde: Virginia Tech-Not in Top 10
Davie: Virginia Tech-#3
Gottfried: Virginia Tech-#9
May: Virginia Tech-#9

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Return of the Buffalo

I'm sure you've already seen this, but the buffalo got loose in Baltimore today and roamed the streets for about 4 hours. Too bad they couldn't strike a bigger blow against eurocentrism. In the end, they were all rounded up and incarcerated. But the sight of buffalo on a tennis court warms the heart.

You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose...

And now you can pick your party. The RTD provides some details on the upcoming June 14th Primary elections. Unlike most years, both the Democrats and Republicans will be having primaries on the same day, which means that voters will be forced to declare which primary they want to vote in and will not be allowed to vote in both, as is often the case.

Virginia has long held on to its tradition of not registering voters by party and not identifying candidates on the ballot by party. As in many other cases, Virginia values its uniqueness. However, this tradition has created a lot of confusion in the past among Virginia's voters. It seems likely that as time passes and campaigns become more virulent, we will begin to hear stronger pleas for party registration in Virginia.

Roanoke-area Delegates Races

The Roanoke Times has this rundown of the regional House of Delegates races both contested and uncontested. Of the nine incumbents running in the Roanoke and New River Valleys, only two are currently facing opposition.

According to the RT, Delegate Ward Armstrong (D-Henry Co.) will be challenged by republican David Young. Delegate Allen Dudley (R-Rocky Mount) will be challenged by Democrat Eric Ferguson.

The most interesting item is this:
Barbara Chrisley, who ran an unsuccessful Republican campaign against [Pulaski Del. Benny] Keister in 1999, said Thursday that she is seriously considering switching parties and challenging [Christiansburg Del. Dave] Nutter this year. The retired Radford University professor said she will likely make her decision soon. . . ."I'm recognizing that my values are very much aligning with the Democratic Party," she said.

Sounds like it's a good thing Chrisley was unsuccessful in her bid against Keister.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Peter DeFur to challenge Bill Janis

Last week at the Shad Planking, we heard rumblings of a potential challenger for Del. Bill Janis. They've heard the same thing over at My Own Backyard.

Dr. Peter Defur, a VCU professor, will seek or has received the Democratic nomination for the 56th District.

Dr. DeFur is a professor in the VCU Center for Environmental Studies.

Washington Post tells people what to think about Senate Republicans

The Washington Post released a poll today in which they heralded that two-thirds of Americans oppose a rule change prohibiting filibusters against judicial nominees. However, if we look closer at the poll itself, which is available as a pdf file here, we'll find those results may not accurately portray the views of the American people.

As most people know, the art of polling is based in large part on how the questions are framed. Lots of other factors can also affect poll results, such as the time of day the polls are conducted. The first step in analyzing any poll is looking at who was polled. This poll divides along party lines as follows:
Democrats 35%, Republicans 28%, Independents 32%.

Ideologically speaking, the poll reveals the following results:
Liberal 20%, Conservative 30%, and Moderate 47%

The interesting thing about these results is that Republicans are obviously much more confortable with labeling themselves "conservative" than Democrats are with the term "liberal." And doesn't the term "moderate" sound so appealing?

Moving on to the beef, the WaPo article says:
But by a 2 to 1 ratio, the public rejected easing Senate rules in a way that would make it harder for Democratic senators to prevent final action on Bush's nominees. (emphasis added)

However, if you look at the poll question itself, it states:
Would you support or oppose changing Senate rules to make it easier for the Republicans to confirm Bush's judicial nominees. (emphasis added)

Ah, there's the rub. The question says nothing about the filibuster, nothing about an up-or-down vote and implies that Republicans alone would be confirming these nominees rather than the entire Senate. The results of this question are even more interesting in light of the previous question. Remember that these questions are asked in sequence and, as a result, can be crafted to lead people towards a conclusion on future questions. Here is the prior question:
The Senate has confirmed 35 federal appeals court judges nominated by Bush, while Senate Democrats have blocked 10 others. Do you think the Senate Democrats are right or wrong to block these nominations?

The results of this obviously loaded question? 48% say they are right, while 36% say they are wrong. Yet again we see absolutely no reference to filibusters, no mention of denying the nominees a floor vote, and couching the question in terms of having confirmed 35 other judges. Nicely done, pollsters.

One interesting poll result that is ignored by the Washington Post article, regards the question about whether federal judges are too liberal or too conservative. The poll reveals that 26% of respondents believe judges are too liberal while 18% believe they are too conservative. 52% of respondents typify judges' ideology as "just right." It should be noted that this question preceeds those on the judicial confirmation process.

The WaPo gleefully announces a number of other poll results that seem to hurt Bush while ignoring those that support his positions. I encourage you to look at the results yourself, examine the questions that are being asked, and draw your own conclusions.

Bolling Campaign Releases Connaughton Quote

The Bolling campaign has discovered and released a quote from 2001 in which Connaughton said of the No Car Tax campaign which Gilmore was continuing in the final days of his administration:
My gut reaction is this could be catastrophic for localities. We would need to analyze this and the potential impact on our budget," said Connaughton (R-At Large).
This quote is from an article entitled "Gilmore Renews Quest to Kill Car Tax; Long-Term Fiscal Impact on Va. Worries Warner, Local Lawmakers"; R.H. Melton. The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: Dec 18, 2001. pg. B.01.

This will be ample material for more negative direct mail pieces from the the Bolling campaign. Look for them in your mailboxes shortly.

Token Liberal Shares a Goldwater Quote With Us

Token Liberal requested that we post a quote from Barry Goldwater relevant to some of the issues surrounding the judicial nomination process in the Senate. He feels this is an adequate response:
However, on religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God's name on one's behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' and 'D.' Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of 'conservatism.'

More on Connaughton-Bolling VEA debate

Last week, Harry generated a number of insightful comments with this post on Sean Connaughton's endorsement by the Virginia Education Association. A number of people felt that Harry was being too hard on Mr. Connaughton.

In order to move the dialogue forward, we asked each Lt. Governor candidate to submit their answers to the VEA questionnaire. In our opinion, this is precisely the type of extended analysis facilitated by blogging.

Here is the Bolling campaign's answer.
While Senator Bolling is a strong supporter of public education and public school teachers, he disagreed with a number of the questions on the survey and decided not to respond.
We have not yet heard from the Connaughton campaign, but are obviously interested in hearing his answers to the questionnaire.

Here are the questions:
  1. Do you oppose the use of public money for private schools (vouchers and tuition tax credits or other methods)?
  2. Will you oppose efforts to eliminate or weaken continuing contract?
  3. Will you oppose efforts to offer a Defined Contribution Option as a substitute for the current Defined Benefit Virginia Retirement Systems plan?
  4. Will you support legislation establishing paying Virginia's teachers at a rate at or above the national average teachers' salary as the policy of the commonwealth, and will you support efforts to move Virginia's average teacher salary to the national average within the next four years by providing sufficient funds and appropriate budget language?
  5. Will you support the provision of a Retiree Health Care Credit equal to that offered for state employees to school board personnel including educational support personnel?
  6. Will you support the utilization of the W2 Definition of Salary for the determination of a Virginia Retirement System benefits?
  7. Do you support revision of the Child Protective Services section of the Code of Virginia to limit the complaints against school employees to cases of "gross negligence or willful misconduct" and reduce the frequency of job-threatening but frivolous complaints?
  8. The current budget is the first to deduct federal funding from the basic aid sent to localities. Do you support the full restoration of Federal Deduct?
  9. Will you support increasing the state share of the per pupil allocation for health insurance costs of local school board employees?
  10. Will you support increasing the Virginia Retirement System's multiplier from 1.70% to 2.00%?
  11. Will you support the right of Virginia Education Association members to have dues collected through voluntary payroll deduction?
  12. Will you support legislation to require contracts between local school boards and education support professionals?
  13. Will you support funding of the four unfunded 2004 Standards of Quality revisions (Principals, Assistant Principals, Speech Pathologists, and Reading Specialists)?
At first glance, I'm a little surprised at the questions.

Nine of the thirteen (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11 and 12) deal exclusively with salary, union or benefit issues.

Two questions (8 and 13) deal with school funding in a more general sense.

Of the other two, question 1 on school vouchers puts the VEA at odds with the patron issue of many private and home-schoolers.

There's also not anything about student achievement, increased college enrollment, etc. I understand that the VEA opposes such metrics, but measurable standards could go a long way to making their platform more palatable.

For further explanation of the questions, visit VEA's legislative agenda.

    Hinkle tells campaigns to grow up

    Norm breaks down Bart Hinkle's article in today's Richmond Times Dispatch. You can read the actual column here, but with Norm's astute analysis, why would you need to?

    Norm did skip my favorite part of the column.
    In his autobiography, former Nixon operative G. Gordon Liddy relates a plan dreamed up by the Committee to Re-Elect the President (the aptly acronymed CREEP). It consisted of hiring hippies to urinate in public while bearing banners for McGovern. The plan -- P***ers for McGovern -- wisely was shelved. It was sleazy, but at least it showed imagination.
    Now that would be grass-roots activism!

    The Hinkle column is also worth a read because it contains an extended quote from Waldo. Although Hinkle doesn't attribute the quote, it's mentioned as being one of the few to go there.

    'Tribe' Under Fire

    The NCAA's PC Police have struck again, according to this article by the RTD. The NCAA's Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee, as it is officially called, has asked William and Mary to conduct a "self-analysis" regarding the use of the "Tribe" name and logo.

    This absurd level of political correctness strikes out at any team that uses an American Indian moniker, regardless of its history, usage, or approval by Indian groups. Forcing teams to rid themselves of names that recognize Indians is a purely superficial manuever that does nothing to change people's perceptions or solve any real problems that face these groups. In fact, William and Mary has already changed its name once, from the Indians (since that is so offensive), to the Tribe.

    At least the Indian groups themselves have their wits about them. In this article, Gertrude Minnie-Ha-Ha Custalow, historian for the Mattaponi Tribe, notes that they see nothing improper about the name. She pretty much sums it up this way:
    "You know, sometimes this type of thing can get a little bit ridiculous."

    State Campaigns embrace new media

    The Washington Times has this story about the Kilgore and Kaine campaigns' use of the internet.
    "The Internet is more and more a very valuable tool for communication," said Mr. Murtaugh, also a veteran of Virginia political campaigns. "The technology continues to improve, and you can do more things with your Web site."

    Both campaigns are able to reach a younger and more politically tuned-in audience using the Internet. "There is a certain demographic that increasingly is getting its news from what we call alternative sources," said Mark J. Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University. "It's not just the morning paper and the reliable networks anymore."
    The Virginia blogosphere even rates a mention.
    There are also bloggers and other Internet-based commentators -- most disavowed by the official campaigns -- who are weighing in on the race with analysis, observations and even parody.
    That's okay, guys. We love you anyway.

    Monday, April 25, 2005

    Kaine TV ads are up - still hasn't posted latest radio commercial

    The new Tim Kaine TV ads are up at http://www.kaine2005.org/. There's one image shaping ad with the Lt. Governor's kids, and one on Kaine's property tax plan.

    You know what isn't on the website? The most recent radio ad, as covered in the RT-D and by Norm.

    The one where Kaine says ""If I have something to say, I'm not afraid to say it myself. But Jerry Kilgore has been making things up about me and letting slick radio announcers do his dirty work."

    Really, let's hear it. I wonder if it's not being posted because even Larry Sabato said that it was an "apparent attempt to demean Kilgore." Or is it not being posted because even Virginia's congressional delegation is beginning to weigh in? Or is it not being posted because the Lt. Governor realizes that on the heels of his comparison of the Shad Planking/Wakefield to Russia, that it's probably not a good idea to insult rural Virginians?

    UPDATE
    I'd like to thank the Kaine campaign for their responsiveness. The ad has now been posted (as of 3 PM) and the campaign has apparently decided that it is a good idea to insult rural Virginians.

    I'll incorporate John Behan's further comments by reference.

    The Dean-iac is Back

    Well, that didn't take long. The WaPo has a funny item today about DNC Chairman Howard Dean and his hilarious attacks against the Republican Party. In the past few months Dean has referred to Republicans as "evil," "brain-dead," and "corrupt." The Dems knew what they were getting with Dean and they put him in charge of the party anyway. All I can say is, keep it up Howard. Dean's erratic, divisive and destructive leadership will just keep pushing Americans away from the loony left and under the GOP's ever-expanding tent.

    Five Guys comes to the Roanoke Valley

    I was overjoyed to see this item in the Roanoke Times about the northern Virginia burger chain expanding to the Star City. There are not too many things that I like about northern Virginia, but Five Guys is definitely at the top of the list. If you haven't had the chance to try these sinfully good burgers and fries yet, I highly recommend them. And don't forget to try the peanuts while you wait for your order, they're delicious.

    Sunday, April 24, 2005

    When is a seal not a seal?

    When it's on a flag. Confused? Read on.

    When we first put up this site, we wanted to express our connection to the Commonwealth. We picked two emblems with high recognition - the great seal of Virginia and a map of Virginia. In addition, the Great Seal is a visual depiction of our name.

    The result was our old masthead.

    It's a masthead that many of you have come to love. You turn to it each morning, hoping for some yummy SST goodness. It's freedom, democracy, apple pie...but I digress.

    Last month, we received a very nice email from a gentleman in the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office.

    It has been brought to the attention of this office that the Seal of the Commonwealth is being displayed on the website sicsempertyrannis.blogspot.com and that this is the e-mail address for the person(s) responsible for that website.

    This office proudly encourages free speech. The persons responsible for this website appear to be conscientious citizens who would not knowingly violate a law of our Commonwealth. For that reason, I want to advise you of Section 7.1-31.1 of the Code of Virginia. This provides that, "no persons shall exhibit, display, or in any manner utilize the seals or any facsimile or representation of the seals of the Commonwealth for nongovernmental purposes unless such use is specifically authorized by law." This section goes further to set criminal penalties for violation.

    I bring this law to your attention with the assumption that you were not previously aware of it and that you will take appropriate and timely action to discontinue using the Seal of the Commonwealth as part of your website.

    Thank you very much for your cooperation in complying with the law of our Commonwealth.

    Here are those "criminal penalties":

    ...any person violating the provisions of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $100, or by imprisonment for not more than thirty days or both.
    I was floored. I certainly never meant to test § 7.1-31.1. In fact, the email notice summed up my intentions perfectly: "The persons responsible for this website appear to be conscientious citizens who would not knowingly violate a law of our Commonwealth."

    I started thinking about another masthead that would express my love for the Commonwealth, and at the same time encompass our blog's name.

    One morning as I waited in line at the Wachovia ATM, I had an epiphany. There, right before my very eyes, was a nongovermental display of the Great Seal. It was centered on a deep blue rectangular field, and surrounded by a white border. It was flapping gently beneath Old Glory - The Flag of the Commonwealth.

    Perplexed, I decided to do more research. Was every bank and private citizen in Virginia in violation of § 7.1-31.1? I learned that the Flag of the Commonwealth was mentioned throughout the Code of Virginia.

    There was, however, no general authorization for private citizens, banks, gas stations, etc., to fly the flag. In other words, their display of the Great Seal was not "specifically authorized by law."

    I wrote back to the very nice gentleman in the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office and posed one question:

    It would appear that every person who displays the Flag of the Commonwealth is in violation of § 7.1-31.1. Is this your understanding?
    I received a reply in short order:
    This office has maintained a distinction between the use of the Seal, which is specifically restricted by law, and the use of the flag of Virginia, which has no statutory restriction and for which this office has no jurisdiction. If anyone chooses to use the flag, on a website for instance, and so long as it looks like a flag rather than looking like the seal centered on a blue rectangle, there is no statutory concern.

    Eureka! A new, better, more improved masthead was born!

    This was the rough draft, although Zach and Harry wanted to make it the permanent masthead. The final version now adorns this very page.

    If you were looking to be entertained, you can stop now. If you want to do policy, read on.

    1. What, in this day and age, are we doing with a keeper of the Seal? Last time I checked, Mark Warner wasn't wearing a signet ring or carrying beeswax. It seems just a little anachronistic.
    2. Under federal copyright law, states must generally assert some right of protection that extends beyond the provisions of 17 USC §106. This is called the extra element test. Here, the Commonwealth only regulates the duplication and display of the state seal - something they could do with federal copyright. See, e.g., National Car Rental Sys., Inc. v. Computer Assocs. Int'l, Inc., 991 F.2d 426, 433 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 861 (1993); Taquino v. Teledyne Monarch Rubber, 893 F.2d 1488, 1501 (5th Cir. 1990); Acorn Structures, Inc. v. Swantz, 846 F.2d 923, 926 (4th Cir. 1988). The Commonwealth's law is thus preempted by federal statute
    3. §2.2-122 of the Code of Virginia allows the Secretary of the Commonwealth to license the Great Seal for commercial purposes. This licensing is apparently not available to non-profit or speech oriented enterprises like Sic Semper Tyrannis. To the extent that this is the case, the Commonwealth is engaging in both content and viewpoint discrimination. On the other hand, if the Commonwealth is recognizing its right to regulate commercial speech through licensing, it is implicitly recognizing its inability to regulate non-commercial speech by restricting use of the seal.
    4. Doesn't the Commonwealth's decision not to enforce § 7.1-31.1 against displays of the flag raise all sorts of questions about arbitrary enforcement? Does the Commonwealth's assertion of § 7.1-31.1 provide fair warning to users of the seal, when it's abundantly clear that they assert no intellectual property rights over the flag? Is there some limiting construction (of which I am not aware) that would obviate the Constitutional problem of overbreadth? Or is this just void for vagueness?
    5. Does any member of the GA who reads this blog want to take a crack at cleaning this language up?
    6. A brief perusal of Google images indicates dozens of non-governmental uses of the seal, including one by a Democratic candidate for the House. At a time when the citizens of the Commonwealth have been asked to shoulder the largest tax increase in Virginia history, is this the kind of thing we want to spend our time on?

    Liveblogging Justice Sunday

    I'm kicked back on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn, watching Justice Sunday , the much maligned program on the Senate filibuster.

    I missed the first few minutes, and when I turned it on, FRC president Tony Perkins was giving the Senate hotline phone number.

    James Dobson is up now. - His highlights:
    ...unelected, unaccountable, out of control majority on the Supreme Court, and I think that they need to be reigned in...
    ...It's time to get off of Tom Delay's back (I assume that refers to his comments on the judiciary, not his penchant for junkets)...
    ...Marbury v. Madison put the Supreme Court in a position of pre-eminence. This is something that Thomas Jefferson was worried about..."it will place us under the despotism of an oligarchy."
    Roe v. Wade has resulted in the largest Holocaust in world history. It was a direct result of an unchecked court...
    ...every one of the Supreme Court's anti-religious decisions of the last 30 years was opposed by greater than 70% of the population....
    ..."We aren't trying to make anyone do anything, but we have the right to participate in this representative form of government. Call your senator, tell them what you want them to do, and that you will remember their vote"...

    Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is up now. It's his hometown crowd, and he's very well received.
    ...why talk about the Federal Judiciary? Because so much that is precious to us is in the hands of the Courts...
    ...Christians understand non-textualism. For too long, people who have told us that we need to get behind the Bible's message. I say the Bible says what it says...Well, it's the same thing with courts.
    ...Judge Pickering was asked in his confirmation hearing about something he said as president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention. He said that Christians ought to base their decisions on the Bible. He was speaking as a Christian to other Christians, and that, in some people's minds made him unqualified to serve on the federal bench....
    ...William Pryor was questioned about his "deeply held personal beliefs." It was William Pryor today, it could be you tomorrow...
    ...This isn't partisan. I would love to choose between a pro-life Democrat and a pro-life Republican....
    ...So long as we are here on earth, Christians must contend for [morality, decency, and bedrocks of civilization]...

    Sen. Frist is appearing by tape.
    ...Democrats are threatening to shut down the Senate if they don't get their way...
    ...Either confirm the nominees, or reject them...
    ...Don't leave our courts hanging.Priscilla Owen is extremely qualified. She does pro bono, etc...
    ...only in the United State could a vote be called the nuclear option. I call that democracy...

    Bishop Harry Jackson - the architect of the Black Contract with America
    ...righteousness and justice is the foundation of God's throne...
    ...there's a justice problem with America. Lady Justice is not blind anymore...
    ...we need to make our judges umpires, not lawmakers...
    ...many African-Americans want to change America and return it to its righteous foundation...

    Bill Donohue - president of the Catholic League
    ...I feel at home in a Baptist church, especially if the alternative is a Catholic like Ted Kennedy...
    ...If you won't confirm a Catholic who believes in the tenets of the Catholic church, then you are anti-Catholic...
    ...who are the Senators to say that that I can't participate in the political process?...
    ...this isn't just a Christian issue. People in the secular left think we are threat, and we are...

    Judge Charles Pickering
    ...I was most upset about the accusations of racism...I have a lifetime of working for race relations in Mississippi...
    ...William Pryor has always put aside his personal beliefs. I wish liberal judges would put aside their personal beliefs...
    ...If Christians don't stand up, then I cringe about the future of America. I hope that young people will consider serving as judges...
    ...the confirmation system is broken...
    ...the only alternative to the filibuster is to insist that the Constitution be followed...
    ...no one raised an issue of separation of church and state when Paul Revere put a lantern in the Old North Church...
    ...today the American people need to be warned...


    Tony Perkins
    ...we aren't asking these Senators to vote for the nominees, we are asking them to vote...

    Summary
    I honestly don't see what the ruckus was all about.

    7 Hoos, 3 Hokies, 1 Pirate taken in NFL Draft

    The Commonwealth of Virginia had 11 players taken in the NFL Draft yesterday and today, all by the Arizona Cardinals. Just kidding, but Cardinals coach Dennis Green did draft heavily from the Old Dominion, taking VT cornerback Eric Green and UVA linebacker Darryl Blackstock in the 3rd Round, and UVA offensive guard Elton Brown in the 4th Round. Other selections were:

    UVA tight end Heath Miller-1st Round: Pittsburgh

    VT cornerback Vincent Fuller-4th Round: Tennessee

    Hampton wide receiver Jerome Mathis-4th Round: Houston

    UVA running back Alvin Pearman-4th Round: Jacksonville

    UVA defensive end Chris Canty-4th Round: Dallas

    UVA defensive tackle Andrew Hoffman-6th Round: Cleveland

    VT offensive tackle Jon Dunn-7th Round: Cleveland

    UVA tight end Patrick Estes-7th Round: San Fransisco

    Congratulations to all of these fine football players and good luck to those, like ACC Player of the Year Bryan Randall, who were not drafted and will seek to join an NFL team via free agency.

    Lincoln Lovers in the Confederacy's Capital

    Ok, so its been a pretty slow news day. However, I found this article in the RTD rather interesting. Bridgewater College President Phil Stone (a UVA Law grad) has founded a society to honor the 16th President and his family's deep roots in the Old Dominion. Needless to say, not all Virginians are thrilled about efforts to honor a President many folks still blame for the Civil War.

    Lincoln supporters look to the ending of slavery and preservation of the Union as evidence that Abraham Lincoln was our nation's greatest President. His detractors focus on the structural, economic, and personal devastation levelled on the South as a result of what they consider Northern aggression.

    Both sides are a part of Lincoln's legacy and should be included in the broader discussion of Virginia's history. However, rather than focusing on the wounds of the past, Stone notes that Lincoln has many lasting connections to the Commonwealth and stood for many things that Virginians today can embrace.

    The Lincoln Society of Virginia will hold its first meeting on Monday May 2.

    Saturday, April 23, 2005

    Tom Daschle's media firm plans TV buy for Tim Kaine

    Via the RT-D and a nice email from Kilgore campaign, we learn that Tim Kaine is kicking off his first TV commercials on Monday.

    The Kaine campaign is using Struble Eichenbaum as its media consultants. Last May, Dakota Blog Alliance member Daschle v. Thune noted Struble's long relationship with Daschle.
    Struble certainly knows how to win in South Dakota, having advised Daschle since 1984. He also worked for Senator Tim Johnson’s campaigns in 1996 and 2002 and has worked extensively in neighboring Nebraska. And, it should be said, South Dakota is an easy state in which to shape a candidate’s image, which is Struble’s specialty.
    Note the similarities between Daschle-2004 and Kaine-2005. Both races have candidates with a voting and activism record. Both candidates are running in a population with views considerably more conservative than their own. Both candidates are trying to shape images with ads in which the candidate claims that he is really in line with his constituency.

    How did Daschle v. Thune view Struble's efforts?
    After spending close to $8 million on TV, radio, and newspaper ads and having supporters mail personal letters to all the residents of key counties in recent months, he’s stagnant or slipping in the polls and John Thune is gaining. And Thune hasn’t run an ad! Even with no push-back, Daschle’s ads aren’t working. Has Karl Struble, Daschle’s long-time media guru, lost his magic touch?Perhaps.
    Of course, that was written six months before the South Dakota elections, and the prediction was proved accurate.

    Best of all, though, is Struble's fatalistic analysis of Daschle's defeat.
    “You can overanalyze South Dakota, because in this case you had somebody who was a national leader,” said Democratic media consultant Karl Struble, who handled the television strategy for Daschle. For someone like Daschle, it is “easier to ascribe the national party agenda” to them.

    Struble added, however, that “there is no doubt that being a Democrat in red states make you an endangered species.”
    The teaser on Struble's website notes, "In 2004, three Democrats were elected governor in states won by President Bush, Struble Eichenbaum worked for two of them..."

    The website teaser for November 9th has already been written. It says, "In 2005, no Democrats were elected governor in states won by President Bush, despite Stuble Eichenbaum's best efforts..."

    There's also the small similarity of Struble v. ______ Blog Alliance, but that analysis can wait for another day.

    UPDATE
    JB directs us to the original comparison between the Dakota Blog Alliance and the ODBA.

    NFL Draft Picks Critiqued

    Harry and I like to give Zach a hard time for his sports obsession. One story we forgot to include from the Shad Planking involved a woman who, when Harry told that we wrote SST, said "Oh, I read it every day. Who does the sports posts?...I skip those." :-)

    Zach made his NFL draft picks here, and did quite well. You can look at the actual results on this site. He got eight of the top ten players right (although not necessarily in the right order), and correctly predicted Ronnie Brown to Miami and Troy Williamson to Minnesota. He also picked the 49ers taking a QB, the Bucs taking a RB, the Titans taking a DB, and the 'Skins taking a DB. (Steve Minor wanted the Skins to take sentimental favorite Heath Miller.)

    Zach's only blemish is that projected #1 pick Aaron Rodgers didn't get picked up until the 24th pick.

    Friday, April 22, 2005

    Tim Kaine uses slick radio announcer for 3/5 of ad

    Norm, as usual has done a great job breaking down Tim Kaine's latest radio ad. In it, Kaine accuses Kilgore of "letting slick radio announcers do his dirty work."

    So I headed over to Kaine's website and listened to the newest ad posted (the one before the subject of Mr. Shapiro's article today).

    Kaine uses Ms. Come Hither for 38 seconds of the 60 second spot.

    Give me a break.

    Remembering Pat Tillman

    Today, April 22nd, 2005, is the one year anniversary of Pat Tillman's death. By now everyone knows the story of Pat Tillman, who gave up NFL riches to serve his country in the United States Army. Tillman was killed while serving in Afghanistan with the Army Rangers.

    The Pat Tillman Foundation has been established in his honor to inspire people to make positive changes in themselves and in the world around them. Found on that website are these profound words:
    As Steve White, Navy SEAL and family friend stated, "1976-2004, that one little dash in there represents a lifetime. How do we spend our dash?"
    What a world this would be if more people spent their dash the way Pat Tillman spent his.

    The End of an Era

    This story seems to have been overlooked in the VA blogosphere today. After 212 years, the staff of the Governor of the Commonwealth will no longer have an office in the State Capitol. As a result of renovations to the Capitol, the Governor's offices will be moved to a new space in the Old State Library. Once the Capitol reopens, the Governor will have a small, mostly ceremonial office in the building, but the staff and cabinet offices will remain in the Old Library building.

    Virginia Sports Hall of Fame opens today

    Ok, I've been receiving a bit of good-natured ribbing around here lately for my proclivity towards sports-related posts, so I've been trying to cut back. However, I think this one is important to mention, and it's Virginia-related. The Virginian-Pilot reminds us that the brand-spanking new Virginia Sports Hall of Fame opens its new digs today in Portsmouth. Virginia has produced a great number of accomplished athletes in many sports. Whether its football (Bruce Smith), basketball (Dell Curry), tennis (Arthur Ashe), or golf (Sam Snead), Virginia has a long and storied sporting tradition that will now be on display in a fitting home.

    Word is that Senator George Allen, whose father is in the Hall, will be on hand to dedicate its opening. I hope to get a chance to check it out soon and hope y'all will too. And be sure not to miss the Russ Potts exhibit while you're there.

    CBS full-fledged propaganda machine

    I promised myself that I would devote the day to meaningful (non-blog oriented) pursuits. However, I blew my gasket when I read this headline, and I have to vent.

    GOP Pushes Filibuster Fight

    So let me get this straight. Now, the Senate Judiciary can't even vote nominees out of committee? They can't do it because it forces the Dems to filibuster!!!

    I promised myself that I would never curse on this blog, but I'm pretty close. The obstructionists don't even have the guts to stand on the floor and actually do the thing that they supposedly hold so dear. They want the GOP to hold TEN Circuit court nominees, and another DOZEN district nominees in committee, just so Ted Kennedy can get in his second dinner at 11:30 PM.

    And if the Judiciary committee dares to do its Constitutional duty and moves nominees to the floor, what are they doing? Why, they are "pushing a filibuster fight"!!

    Amazing.

    Earth Day 2005

    Today is Earth Day. Usually this "holiday" is associated with tree-hugging hippies chaining themselves to redwoods or communing with snail-darters or some other such nonsense. However, the Roanoke Times has an interesting article today about the role that Christaisn should play in protecting the environment. Actually, the article itself is kind of silly, particularly with passages like this:
    "There are a whole lot of SUVs in church parking lots and a whole lot of Styrofoam plates being thrown away at church suppers....That doesn't look too sacramental to me."
    However, that doesn't mean there isn't some truth to be found beneath the crunchy granola exterior unearthed by the Roanoke Times. Christians are certainly called to be good stewards of the environment and it's something that Christians probably don't spend enough time thinking about. One of the greatest things about living in Virginia is the abundance of natural beauty that we have been blessed with. Caring for the environment doesn't have to be an issue that's only addressed from a liberal or secular perspective. In fact, we'd all be better off if it wasn't.

    GMU plans depraved "Sextravaganza"

    The Washington Post reports today about a disturbing proposal at GMU for a campuswide sex fair that would apparently utilize student activity funds to expose students to various and sundry forms of promiscuity. The fair is to be sponsored by the "Pro-Choice Patriots" group and being billed as a "health fair."

    Sen. Ken Cuccinelli is rightly disturbed by these efforts to foist a "sexually liberated" agenda on the students of George Mason. This is clearly another example of the MTV culture run rampant, a culture that glorifies irresponsible promiscuity and devalues healthy relationships. Most of the funds that go to support these kinds of activities are probably provided by the parents of these GMU students. If I were a parent of such a child, I would be deeply disturbed about what kind of "education" my child was receiving.

    Tim Kaine's biggest donor speaks at ACLU dinner

    Via Powerline, we get some good audio of the type of thing that Howard Dean finds funny.
    Dean regaled an appreciative audience for nearly 90 minutes without once raising his voice, as he did after last year's Iowa primary election. But he did draw howls of laughter by mimicking a drug-snorting Rush Limbaugh.
    Tim Kaine has vowed never to stand on stage with his largest donor, and it's easy to understand why. That doesn't mean they won't be embracing at the VIP reception.

    Thursday, April 21, 2005

    Santorum Down by 14 to Casey in Early Polls

    A Quinnipiac University opinion poll was released this week on the 2006 Senate race in Pennsylvania between Santorum and Robert Casey (son of the former pro-life Democratic governor of Pennsylvania), and Casey is wiping the floor with Santorum right now. He's leading in this very early poll 49 to 35. The last poll showed Casey with a 46-41 lead in February. Let's remember though how much time there is between now and November 2006. It's definitely not a positive sign about Santorum's popularity in a state in which Kerry's margin of victory was less than Bush's margin of victory in Ohio.

    Putney announces for a 23rd term

    The worst kept secret in Botetourt and Bedford counties was officially revealed Tuesday when Delegate Lacey Putney announced he would indeed run for another term representing the 19th District. Putney's statement is an interesting one in light of the common knowledge that former Roanoke mayor Ralph Smith had recently moved to Botetourt for the sole expressed purpose of running for Lacey's seat. The Roanoke Times reports Putney's reasoning for running again as follows:
    "My experience, seniority and positions of leadership are second to no one in the 100-member House of Delegates," Putney said in a news release. "This, coupled with my knowledge of the needs and concerns of the people of the 19th District acquired over the last 40 years will enable me to provide the quality of leadership and representation they have come to expect and deserve."

    Since Smith was the only person who had expressed interest in Putney's seat, Putney's statement seems to suggest that Putney does not consider Smith capable of providing the appropriate level of leadership and representation for the 19th district. Certainly Putney knows he cannot serve forever, but apparently he has yet to find a suitable successor to his distinguished legacy in the House of Delegates.

    SST goes Shad Planking

    The Signs
    In straight numerical numbers, you would have to say that Kaine “won.” However, there were enough Kilgore signs to offset the advantage. Unless you went down with the idea of choosing a sign “winner,” I don’t think you would really notice.

    The Kaine signs were of the metal stake variety, which are a lot easier to put up than the wooden stake variety that Kilgore had. Over 24 hours, that can add up to a lot more signs installed. Kaine also had the “Duck, Duck, Debate” signs. I didn’t think they were that funny, but I’ve never been accused of being unbiased. The “priceless” signs were better. Tim Kaine also had an airplane pull a sign around the site that said “Real leaders don’t duck debates,” or something like that.

    The people that I talked to confirmed that moveon.org and DNC people were putting up Kaine signs. This is a fact that Kaine’s camp isn’t denying. When we left at 6:30, Jerry’s volunteers were hard at work taking down his signs. Kaine’s people hadn’t started yet, so they were in for a long night.

    The Vice
    Gil Davis’s cups were biggest, but were plastic with a lapel sticker. He also had cigars. However, he didn’t make the ballot, which is an automatic DQ. The winner has to be Bob McDonnell, who had big cups, and they were screen printed. His IceHouse was cold. Zach and Lighthorse Harry both hit for the cycle (one beer from every candidate), and have the cups to prove it. Harry hit the tipping point around 5:15 PM, when he began introducing himself as “Lighthorse Harry, Sic Semper Tyrannis.” We calmed him down, and would like to thank Viola for promising to keep our secret.

    The Food
    Smoked shad reminds me of crabmeat. It’s dense and oily, but the smoke gave it a good flavor. I just didn’t have the patience to pick it out. The fried fish, baked beans, and cole slaw were typical fair fare, and I downed my plate in 10 minutes.

    The Candidates
    Mr. Kilgore arrived right at 2 PM, and I saw the Lt. Governor not long afterwards. Both worked the crowd hard for 2 hours, then headed for the stage. Jerry went first (by virtue of coin toss, of course), and did a good job of keeping it light. Among the jokes I remember (these are paraphrased):
    • “This year, we had to import the shad from out of state. I hear the Democrats are starting to do the same with politicians.”
    • “I was talking to Tim earlier, and he said, ‘Jerry, I’ve never been to this part of North Carolina before.’"
    • “I’m sorry Mark Warner couldn’t be here. I hear he was windsurfing with John Kerry.”
    • “I’m glad to give Tim a chance to have his picture taken with a genuine Virginian. I know it will help him in Virginia, and it will help me in Kansas.”
    Tim Kaine went next. I couldn’t tell how much of his remarks were prepared. He did appear to be looking down at some notes, but also delivered some remarks off the cuff. His highlights:
    • “Jerry, it’s good to see you. I hope this isn’t the last time we appear on stage together.”
    • “Thank you for mentioning out-of-state politicians. I’m sorry that George Allen isn’t here to hear you.” (Allen is a California native).
    • “This year, we’ve taken the signs to a new height.” [gestures at airplane sign].
    • [relaying conversation with a Ruritan]: “I expressed my disappointment that on even numbered years, the Shad Planking is on the same day as the GA veto session. General Assembly members can only come every other year. I asked him if they would consider moving it to a Tuesday, and he said, ‘Why do you think we keep it on Wednesdays?’”
    • “Someone once told me that the Shad Planking is like going to Russia. You should go once, but you would be stupid to go again.”
    This last bit was appreciated by the lobbying/politico crowd, but it didn’t win any fans among the locals, who comprised more than 50% of the audience. There were audible boos, and I think Mr. Kaine realized his gaff and movedon.

    ConclusionIt’s a great Virginia tradition, and everyone had a good time. I’d be surprised if anyone’s vote was swayed.

    Token Liberal Analyzes the Shad Planking

    Note: I'm posting this on behalf of SST buddy Token Liberal.

    Well, I (Token Liberal) went to my first Shad Planking, and had a blast. My joke for the afternoon was that I was there to provide perspective (since I had on my Deeds, Chap, and Kaine stickers, and needless to say the SST crew did not). So here is my perspective:

    Best Conversation by Far:

    With a former staffer of the Carson for Senate Campaign in Oklahoma:

    “We were running ads like ‘Coburn sterilized a 14 year old girl without her consent while performing an abortion,’ you know, a really good ad. Coburn’s ads were, ‘Carson is a Democrat,’ and ‘Carson once met Hillary Clinton.’”

    “Then Coburn came out and said, ‘middle school lesbianism is running rampant in Southeastern Oklahoma,’ and it turns out that the phrase was polling 55% POSITIVE for Coburn. I mean, what can you do??”

    Best Conversation with a Candidate:

    George Fitch. His history, as the former coach of the Jamacain Bobsled team is actually not as fascinating as his fathers, who was provost of Nanking during the Rape of Nanking. Moreover, when asked why he ran, he actually got into policy!!

    Worst Conversation with a Candidate:

    Creigh Deeds. While shaking my hand he kept up eye contact for about a second, and before I could open my mouth he had walked on. Very poor.

    Best Handshake by a Politician:

    Jerry Kilgore. Despite expectations, was very firm and was strong. Great Eye Contact with a warm Smile.

    Worst Handshake by a Politician:

    Creigh Deeds. See above.

    Best Food:

    Bolling. Bratwursts with real onions and relish.

    Best Beer:

    Creigh Deeds. Much props for splurging for Killian’s.

    Best Dressed:

    Delegate Bill Janis. Cowboy hat and frat boy glasses. He also easily gets the nod for biggest character.

    Worst Dressed:

    Tim Kaine. Jeans??

    Best gimmick:

    Temporary tattoos for Chap Petersen.

    Best T-shirts:

    Fitch. While only 2 of them, the Jamacian Bobsled team will always be cool.

    Best Cup:

    McDonnell. Very deep and very shiny. Honorable Mention: Focus on the Family. There will be nothing better to drink my latté in tomorrow morning while I drive to work in my Volvo wearing a Dean for America t-shirt

    Worst Cups:

    The entire Democratic ticket. Stickers on a plastic cup is not cool.

    Best Beer truck Worker:

    Chap Petersen’s. Guy was super cool and super nice.

    Best presence:

    Chap Petersen. His staff was everywhere, and their blue shirts stood out.

    Worst Presence:

    Viola Baskerville. No tent. No beer truck. It seemed like she was there for 30 minutes and left.

    Better speech:

    This one was a draw. Kilgore’s was better written with good jokes. Kaine had better delivery.

    Winner of the Sign Wars:

    Kaine. Not even close.

    Best Use of Signs:

    Chap Petersen. Knowing he could not compete with Kilgore and Kaine close in, he staked out a half mile of highway about 15 minutes out with Chap signs on both sides. They were evenly spaced, were beautiful, and definitely got his name out.

    First candidate bumper sticker to go on the Honda Civic:

    Chap Petersen. Really funny guy. Great staff. Great future.

    Wednesday, April 20, 2005

    More Shad Planking Pictures







    Jerry Kilgore


    Bill Bolling


    Creigh Deeds


    Viola Baskerville


    The Main Event

    Shad Planking pictures

    Here are two, courtesy of a friend:





    Hopefully, I can get some of the signs. Creigh Deeds did make a funny. He had one sign, and over it was a sign that said, "this is the one and only Creigh Deeds sign."

    David Toscano accuses Kim Tingley of push polling

    The 57th District (Charlottesville-Albemarle) is a rare bird in Virginia politics. It's a Democratic leaning district. The city is strongly Dem, and the county precincts are among the more liberal in Albemarle County. That makes the Democratic primary on June 14th even more important, and the race has apparently turned ugly. David Toscano, released the following:
    Last night, many Democrats in the 57th District received telephone calls from a Florida company apparently hired by candidate Kim Tingley to conduct push-polling interviews. The pollsters, who when asked, identified themselves as "working for Tingley", made numerous and incorrect assertions about the character and record of three-term City Councilor and former Charlottesville Mayor David Toscano. If, in fact, Mr. Tingley is not behind this "guerilla marketing" campaign tactic, we call on him to repudiate this effort being conducted on his behalf. If he is indeed the perpetrator of these negative push-polls, we call on him to cease any further such activity. This tactic is reminiscent of the negative campaign style witnessed in the recent presidential election and is consistent with the type of smear campaigns that distort a candidate's record under a win-at-all cost mentality. If Mr. Tingley wants to continue to be a progressive player in the Charlottesville area, he will need to realize that here, we try to run clean, issues-oriented campaigns.
    I don't know anyone who received the calls, so I can't tell you more. In fact, a lot of my friends in the 57th don't even have land lines, and I don't think cell numbers have worked their way into phone databanks yet.

    The Shad Planking

    The weather is gorgeous for a spectacular day at the Shad Planking. Maybe I'll run into some of you in Wakefield this afternoon. Should be a lot of fun. Let's hope the rumors that Kaine beat Kilgore in the sign wars aren't accurate. I'm afraid they might be though.

    Thelma Drake targeted by Moveon.org

    The Daily Press says that liberal group www.moveon.org is running ads against Rep. Thelma Drake. They are angry that she voted in favor of last month's bankruptcy bill, which makes it harder for people to walk away from consumer debt.
    The group's ads say most bankruptcies are filed by working families who encounter medical problems and resulting large bills. "This new law won't make it tougher for corporate giants like Enron or WorldCom," the ad intones. "But the law will burden decent, hard-working people with more debt. The credit card companies have a friend in Thelma Drake. Do you?" The ad concludes with Drake's district office telephone number.
    Moveon isn't running ads against Rep. Bobby Scott. That's because Bobby Scott voted against the bill because it was "bad for families." Or was it because Bobby Scott has more than $80,000 in credit card debt?

    Jim Gilmore to endorse AG candidate?

    In yesterday's news about Bill Bolling endorsement by Jim Gilmore, there's this nugget of information:
    Gilmore said he may endorse other candidates in GOP primaries, including one of the two contenders for attorney general.

    "I am being careful about when and where," he said.
    So far, Steve Baril has shown a good ability to line up endorsements from the Richmond area, and it will interesting to see if Gov. Gilmore follows this trend.

    Agriculture supports Russ Potts

    The AP has this story on the major impact that real estate developers have had on state-wide fundraising. There are the obligatory quotes about the health of the real estate sector and real estate's need to have good relationships with legislators. Then there's this humdinger:
    The only sector to overwhelmingly support an independent candidate was agriculture. Of the nearly $343,000 it gave in the race for governor, almost three fourths went to state Sen. H. Russell Potts thanks to a $250,000 single contribution from Kentfield Farm of Middleburg.

    Potts, elected to his Winchester seat as a Republican in 2003, is running for governor as an independent, saying he is fed up with the GOP's hard line against taxes and abortion.
    That would be Lloyd Ross. And if he represents Virginia agriculture, then I represent Virginia newspapers.

    Tuesday, April 19, 2005

    NFL Draft Week

    College and professional football worlds collide this weekend at the NFL Draft. No other sport's draft generates as much interest, attention, and debate as the NFL Draft. For the pundits, the question will be "Who is #1?" For the fans, the question will be "Who will my team get?" For the GMs and coaches, the question will be "Who will help me keep my job?"

    Here, then is my take on the Draft's first 10 picks. The rest of the first round will follow later in the week.

    #1- San Francisco 49ers: For those of us that remember the days of Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and the 49ers dynasty, it's a little strange seeing them with the first pick in the Draft. But the NFL is all about parity now and that means more teams get a shot at the #1 pick. Unfortunately for the 49ers, there seems to be no consensus #1 pick in the Draft this year. Most franchises believe that a team is built around a QB, but if there is no clear #1 QB, does it make sense to draft one here anyways? I think not. Let's face it, the 49ers will probably stink again next year and could very well be in a position to draft Matt Leinart at that time. Smart Pick: WR Braylon Edwards. Probable Pick: QB Aaron Rogers.

    #2- Miami Dolphins: Nick Saban has recently been hinting at the possibility the Ricky Williams could be back in a Dolphins uniform in the near future. Ok Nick, let's play "Good idea, Bad idea." Good idea=A franchise running back, Bad idea=A guy who quits on his team to smoke weed and follow Lenny Kravitz. If Saban is smart and wants to remain an NFL Coach for any length of time, he'll take an RB here and not bank on the enigmatic Williams. I think Saban is just throwing up a smoke screen, so to speak. Smart Pick: RB Cedric Benson. Probable Pick: RB Ronnie Brown.

    #3- Cleveland Browns: The Browns aren't that bad. Seriously, the Browns may only have won 4 games last year, but they are not far off from being a decent team. Last year, they scored 48 points against the Bengals, they lost in OT to the Eagles, and they lost at Pittsburgh by one point. The addition of Coach Romeo Crennel should be good enough for at least a couple more wins this year. As players go, what they need most is a QB. Assuming the 49ers take a QB, the Browns will probably select whoever is left between Alex Smith and Aaron Rogers. Smart Pick: QB Alex Smith. Probable Pick: QB Alex Smith.

    #4- Chicago Bears: The Bears are another once-proud franchise that has fallen on some tough times. Barring an improbable return to the glory days of Iron Mike Ditka, the Bears will probably be the ones getting battered and bruised in the NFC's "Black and Blue" Division. The key to winning in the NFC North will be solid defense and clock control via the run game. Despite a mediocre-at-best backfield the Bears would have to snatch up a playmaker like Michigan's Braylon Edwards if he was still available here. Smart Pick: RB Ronnie Brown. Probable Pick: WR Braylon Edwards.

    #5- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Despite their atrocious record, the Buccaneers defense is actually still pretty good. Last year the Bucs ranked 5th in total defense, giving up only 284.5 yards per game, and tied for 9th in scoring defense giving up only 19 points per game. Where they stunk was rushing offense, ranking ahead of only San Francisco, Miami and Oakland. Look for coach Gruden to address that need this weekend. Smart Pick: RB Carnell Williams. Probable Pick: RB Cedric Benson

    #6- Tennessee Titans: The Titans have all sorts of problems and would probably be wise to try and trade down to get more later-round picks. Assuming they keep their spot, QB Steve McNair won't be around for ever and if either of the top 2 QBs are available here, the Titans should snatch them up. More than likely, they will instead address defensive holes here. Smart Pick: QB Aaron Rogers. Probable Pick: CB Antrel Rolle

    #7- Minnesota Vikings (from Oakland): The loss of Randy Moss has Vikings fans in a tizzy and they will probably be disappointed if the Vikes don't take a receiver here. What the Vikes really need, however, is help on defense, particularly the secondary where they were ranked 4th worst against the pass last season. Smart Pick: CB Antrel Rolle. Probable Pick: WR Troy Williamson.

    #8- Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals got a veteran QB in the offseason in Kurt Warner to help guide their young receiving corps. Chances are they will take one of the top 3 backs if they are still available to round out the offense. While the Cardinals' defense was respectable against the pass last year, it was simply atrocious against the run and could use a playmaker in the middle of their defense. Smart Pick: LB Derrick Johnson. Probable Pick: RB Carnell Williams.

    #9- Washington Redskins: The Redskins are another team that would be wise to try and trade down for more picks. If they stick around, they could really use a good target for Patrick Ramsey to throw to or a corner to counter the losses of Champ Bailey and Fred Smoot over the past two seasons. Smart Pick: WR Mike Williams. Probable Pick: CB Adam "Pac-man" Jones.

    #10- Detroit Lions: The Lions' offense is pretty set with QBs Joey Harrington and Jeff Garcia, WRs Roy Williams and Charles Rogers, and RB Kevin Jones. Expect them to go with the best available defensive player on the board with this pick unless maybe Braylon Edwards falls in their laps for some reason. Smart Pick: DE DeMarcus Ware. Probable Pick: LB Derrick Johnson.

    Fans flocking to RFK again

    One of the big issues brought up by the Orioles' ownership in trying to prevent an MLB team from relocating to Washington, DC was that it would siphon off a large portion of Baltimore's fan base. Mind you, the Baltimore/Washington region has no problems filling up two NFL stadiums, but baseball's attendance numbers in the area will be given extra scrutiny in light of those fears.

    Last night provided the first opportunity to compare weekday attendance numbers with home games at both RFK and Camden Yards. The importance of these numbers is debatable, as the Nationals are still in a "honeymoon" period and were riding a five-game win streak, while the Orioles were playing the Detroit Tigers. In any case, here they are: The Nationals pulled in 24,003 fans which is a pretty amazing number for a Monday night game. The Orioles, on the other hand, pulled in only 16, 301, the lowest attendance EVER at Camden Yards.

    Thomas Boswell at the Washington Post has a good look at the weekend attendance numbers and says that fans shouldn't be worried about the Baltimore/Washington region supporting two teams. Monday's numbers might give some folks pause, but I generally agree with Mr. Boswell's thesis. There's no reason why these two clubs can't both be competitive and give a sports-crazed region one more thing to be proud of.

    Younger Vick Gets Back in the Saddle

    Junior QB Marcus Vick has reclaimed the #1 spot on the Virginia Tech depth chart according to the Roanoke Times. Vick started the spring practice session as the #3 QB behind returning signal-callers Sean Glennon and Cory Holt. The move to put Vick at #3 was ridiculed by many as meaningless, but Hokies' coach Frank Beamer used it to make a point that Vick would have to earn his spot as the Hokies' starter.

    Vick's legal troubles over the past year have been well-publicized. Last year he was kicked out of Virginia Tech for the fall semester and prevented from interacting with the football team as they made their impressive run to the ACC Title and a BCS match-up with Auburn. Vick reportedly spent the time off training with the Atlanta Falcons and contemplating his eventual return. The suspension seems to have agreed with Vick as coaches and players alike have raved about his improved skills and evolved sense of leadership and maturity.

    Now it looks as though Vick will finally get the chance to be "The Man" at Virginia Tech. Vick has certainly paid the penalty for his misdeeds and should be given the opportunity to redeem himself. Ultimately, success or failure on the gridiron will cement how people remember Marcus Vick. Let's hope the memories to come are good ones.

    Pope Benedict XVI

    German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was named the new Pope today. White smoke billowed from the Vatican's smokestack this morning, signalling the election of a new Pope. The Washington Post has the story covered here.

    Rod Clemmons to press Frank Hargrove on death penalty

    As we pointed out last month, Del. Frank Hargrove will face a primary challenge from retired Atlee High School principal (and current Jim Dillard aide) Rod Clemmons.
    Yesterday, Clemmons made it official.
    Citing Hargrove's opposition to the death penalty, Rod Clemmons, a former principal of Atlee High School, said he will run against Hargrove....Clemmons said he will make advocacy for public schools and children a major theme of his campaign. In the last three General Assembly sessions, he has been legislative assistant to Del. James H. Dillard II, R-Fairfax, chairman of the House Education Committee.
    If you are like me, you have to find this announcement somewhat laughable. Del. Hargrove does oppose the death penalty, and it's conceivable that a conservative could challenge him on it. However, hearing this challenge from a Jim Dillard (most liberal R in the House) protege is absurd. Clemmons' real beef with Hargrove is that Hargrove didn't vote for the tax increase in 2004. Of course, that doesn't win primaries.

    Bad News For Blood Type B Guys

    So our South Korean correspondent has forwarded us another story, this one of much less importat nature. Those of you out there with Blood Type B, thank your lucky stars you aren't a South Korean. If you read the story, you will find out that girls don't date Blood Type B guys because "scientists" claim that they are "selfish and hot-headed." In fact, last year a song entitled "Type B Men" rocketed to the top of the music charts in South Korea.

    Apparently, it all began in Japan when in 1927, Japanese scholar Takeji Furukawa published a series of articles called "The Study of Temperament Through Blood Type." They seem vaguely similar to the eugenics movements of the early 20th Century United States that led to Buck v. Bell in 1927. The idea truly arrived on the scene in the greater culture when in 1971 when Japanese writer Masahiko Nomi wrote "Understanding Compatibility from Blood Types."

    Ken Cuccinelli and Chesterfield Chairman challenge open primary policy

    As Norm points out, the Chesterfield Republican Chairman has filed suit to challenge Virginia's open primary policy.
    The lawsuit says the law, which allows any registered voter to vote in any political party's nominating primary, infringes on a political party's right of free association.

    "The right of free association includes the right not to associate as well," the suit says.
    This is an interesting case, because the substantive law has already been settled. The Supreme Court has heard similar cases in the past.
    * Tashjian v. Republican Party of Conn., 479 U.S. 208 (1986)
    * California Democratic Party v. Jones, 530 U.S. 567 (2000)

    As Rick Hasen's terrific blog notes, other Circuits have considered the interface of Tashjian and Jones. In Beaver v. Clingman, the 10th Circuit noted,
    When read together, the clear and unavoidable implication of Tashjian and Jones is that a state generally may not restrict the ability of a political party to define the group of citizens that will choose its standard-bearer.
    In Virginia, courts have tried to avoid the controversy on standing grounds.
    In 1996, Patrick M. McSweeney, then chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, filed suit in federal court against the open-primary law. He wanted to deny U.S. Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., the nomination in a primary battle against the more conservative James C. Miller III.

    U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Williams dismissed the suit, saying McSweeney did not have the legal standing to bring the lawsuit because state law allowed the open primary. A federal appeals court upheld the action.

    Last year, the Republican Party of Virginia's state central committee amended its party plan to allow its affiliated committees, such as the 11th District committee, to exclude from primaries voters who have participated in other party primaries during the previous five years.

    For example, a Virginia voter who participates in the June 14 Democratic primary this year would not be able to vote in the GOP primary in 2007 for the 11th District nomination.

    In an effort to create standing for Larry Miller to bring the lawsuit, Martin has already said he wants to be renominated in a primary in 2007. The 11th District committee met on Jan. 13 and voted to hold a primary for the nomination that year. The State Board of Elections warned that the primary would have to be open.
    It will be interesting to see how the Chesterfield chairman and Sen. Cuccinelli address the standing issue.

    Bet on the Next Pope

    That's right, as the cardinals continue to deliberate in the secrecy of the Sistine Chapel on who will be the next leader of the Catholic Church, we can sit at home and gamble on who will be their choice. Place your bets here.

    Monday, April 18, 2005

    Nats on a Roll

    Well, the move from Montreal/San Jose/Wherever seems to have agreed with the Washington Nationals. It's amazing what having a permanent home and a real live fan base will do for you. Of course, picking up guys like Vinny Castilla, Jose Guillen and Esteban Loaiza in the offseason didn't hurt either.

    Last night the Nationals finished off their home-opening series with a sweep by beating the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks 7-3. Mind you, these are not the same Diamondbacks that won the World Series back in 2001, but it's a momentous achievement for the DC ballclub nonetheless. The Nationals have now won five straight games and sit atop the NL East. Exciting stuff for a team that just a few months ago didn't even know where they'd be playing this season.

    The incomparable Tony Kornheiser has a great article today capturing the springtime swoon that is affecting DC residents now that the National Pastime has come home to the Nation's Capitol. I hope to catch a Nats game sometime this summer and see just what all the fuss is about.

    Primary Challengers to Incumbents

    Last month, I posted a list of potential primary challengers to incumbents. Here's an updated version. I am not including any primaries for open seats. I will post those at a later date.

    30th District - Republican
    Ed Scott
    Mark Jarvis

    54th District - Republican
    Bobby Orrock
    Shaun Kenney

    67th District - Republican
    Chris Craddock
    Gary Reese

    50th District - Republican
    Harry Parrish
    Steve Chapman Steve Chapman

    33rd District - Republican
    Joe May Joe May
    Chris Oprison Chris Oprison

    23rd District - Republican
    Preston Bryant
    Robert Garber

    55th District - Republican
    Frank Hargrove
    Rod Clemmons

    82nd District - Republican
    Bob Purkey
    Peter W. Schmidt

    74th District - Democratic
    Donald McEachin
    Floyd Miles

    I'm missing one Republican primary for a seat held by an incumbent. If you know what it is, let me know.

    UPDATE
    83 District - Republican
    Leo Wardrup
    Delceno Miles