Saturday, May 31, 2008

GOP Nominates a Cracked Egg

Virginia Republicans nominated Jim Gilmore to run against Mark Warner for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring John Warner. Gilmore is widely considered to have failed as governor, failed as party chair, and he nearly failed at winning the nomination most assumed was his for the taking. In the end he barely squeaked past Delegate Bob Marshall, who is farther to the right (but more honorable) than Gilmore, by a vote of 5,222 to 5,156. According to reports, attendance at the convention was down and there were many empty seats.
The Virginia GOP has been struggling in recent years, losing the governor's mansion twice in a row, what was considered a safe U.S. Senate seat, the Virginia Senate and seats in the House of Delegates. Nominating Jim Gilmore, widely considered the worst modern governor, has the GOP digging deeper in the litter pile. What's that they say: When you find yourself in a ditch, quit digging. Guess Virginia Republicans haven't learned that yet. Cluck cluck.
Gilmore may do well among 6th District voters who, although gradually breaking away from the Republican mindset, still tilt right. Some of them far right. And we can expect a nasty campaign from the Gilmoron camp. Ana Gamonal, a spokeswoman, said he will come out swinging: "We are going to continue to hammer Mark Warner and smoke him out . . . ."
The convention also chose Jeff Frederick as party chair. A delegate, Frederick boasts few accomplishments other than being a right wing firebrand. Guess that was his appeal. The Virginia GOP continues to drift farther from the mainstream. Watch out flat earth wingnuts, you might fall off.
Mark Warner responded by releasing a new ad with a bipartisan and positive message:
Featured in the ad is Rockingham County Sheriff, Don Farley, who is an independent and strong supporter of Warner. Several other prominent Virginians speak up for Warner's common sense governance, including former GOP Senator John Chichester. What's the old joke: when Chichester retired, the average I.Q. among Republican Senators fell by half.
Maybe I'll lay an egg . . . squawk! . . . but here are early predictions from the hen house for this race:
  • Jim Gilmore will engage in a nasty Rovian-style campaign. He'll get nastier as the election approaches. And nastier.
  • Republicans will be divided and many understandably unenthusiastic.
  • Mark Warner will run a positive and bipartisan campaign.
  • Gilmore will carry the 6th District, but by a much smaller margin than Republicans have in recent elections.
  • Gilmore will pull down the Goodlatte campaign. Bobby will be cordial, but keep his distance. Sam Rasoul should be very happy today.
  • At the end of the day on November 4 the statewide totals will be: Mark Warner 57% and Jim Gilmore 43%. Maybe I'm being too conservative??
That's all from the grist mill for today. Peck. Peck.

Chief Rooster Until June 7

The News Leader reports that the GOP State Central Committee upheld Kurt Michael's election as Augusta chair. Ousted wanna-be chair, Larry Roller vows to fight on, perhaps going to court. He commented "I'm not going to let him steal the election, no matter what." Didn't Michael supporters try that once? I bet the courts stay miles away from this cockfight.
Michael says he'll step down on June 7 when the GOP 6th District Committee meets. What then? Does the district committee anoint someone? Will they call a new mass meeting that will be as poorly run as the last one? Will Larry Roller be chair by default? Will Kurt be convinced to stay on for the good of the party? Will Lynn step up and save swacland? Will Emmett Hanger be left partyless? Inquiring minds want to know!
This next tidbit is purely rumor mill stuff.... what do you think goes on in the chicken house, anyhow? Seems Kurt is chief rooster of the Emerald Hills POA. He crows so much he's run off most of the other chickens, running the POA as his own barnyard. All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others? If true, seems to be some foul (or fowl?) parallels between Kurt's worlds.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Scrambled Eggs

A few interesting political odds and ends today -
Janice Lee Allen has, according to the Daily News-Record, gotten the 1,000 signatures and has been approved by the State Board of Elections to be on the November ballot. I'm sure she's clucking about her success! But, getting on the ballot is the easy part.
According to the grist mill, Allen has alienated 6th District Democrats by flirting with them over a possible run and then virtually dropping off the map. After months of silence she announced she'd run as an independent, implying in an email that David Layman had encouraged her do so. Anybody who ever knew David is keenly aware that he would never have encouraged anyone to run for anything unless he/she was a Democrat. So, it is unlikely Allen will find any support among Democrats who recently nominated Sam Rasoul who has already fired up the activist base of the party. According to releases, Sam will be campaigning in Staunton this afternoon and again on June 7.
CCC previously commented on Allen in "New Kid in the Coop" and the analysis stands today. Beyond her hometown of Bridgewater and the Daily News-Record, she'll get scant attention. Unless she has a sugar daddy, fundraising will be tough. My six months out prediction is 3-4%.
Chris Graham, the new chair of the Waynesboro Democratic Committee, has wasted little in setting up a website to keep local Democrats informed. Most local committee websites get little traffic as they tend to simply be online bulletin boards of coming events and rarely take edgy positions. With his background at the Augusta Free Press, Chris will likely create a lively place for online Democrats to meet. Check out the committee's new email address and Waynesboro Democrats Facebook page.
All the pecking for now. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Take a Gas-X, Bob

On his campaign website blog, Bob Goodlatte posted the following bit of idiocy:
Virginia’s families are feeling the pinch of rising gas prices and recent talk of $4 a gallon prices are of great concern to me. I believe immediate action needs to be taken to address this issue. Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress have failed to show leadership.
His blog continues with colorful charts and graphs, a YouTube video, and other litter straight from the poultry house.
Well, well, Bob.... sounds like you are trying to make campaign chicken salad out of Republican chicken sh*t. How about laying the blame where it more correctly belongs - on your buddy Bush. When Bush took office in 2001, oil prices averaged about $23/barrel. He then invaded Iraq (with your complete support), saying their oil reserves would pay the cost of war and rebuilding - how did that one work out, Bob? Since then, oil prices have risen, and risen - recently trading at $133/barrel.
This spring the CEO of Exxon-Mobil blamed high oil prices on the weakening dollar, geopolitical uncertainty, and speculation. Three reasons that all may be directly traced to failures of your friends in the Bush administration.
A weak dollar makes foreign travel and imports more expensive (it does make U.S. exports cheaper for foreigners, good for businesses involved in exports and for foreigners traveling here). Since much of our oil is imported, our cut-rate dollar is hitting everybody's wallet. So how is the Bush administration to blame? Huge deficits and an outflow of resources caused by the war is part of the problem. Also, the borrowing necessitated by huge trade imbalances. The situation was exacerbated by the failure of the president to lead. The NY Times stated it concisely:
The only lasting way to fix the imbalances — and reduce that borrowing — is to increase America’s savings. But the administration has steadfastly rejected that responsible approach since it would require rolling back excessive tax cuts and engaging in government-led health care reform to rein in looming crushing costs — both, anathema to President Bush. It would also require revamping the nation’s tax incentives so that they create new savings by typical families, instead of new shelters for the existing wealth of affluent families — another nonstarter for this White House.
Stymied by what it won’t do, the administration has gone for a quicker fix — letting the dollar slide. A weaker dollar helps to ease the nation’s imbalances by making American exports more affordable, thus narrowing the trade deficit.
But to be truly effective, a weaker dollar must be paired with higher domestic savings. Otherwise, the need to borrow from abroad remains large, even as a weakening currency makes dollar-based debt less attractive. That’s the trap the nation is slipping into today. Among other ills, it could lead to a deterioration in American living standards as money flows abroad to pay foreign creditors, leaving less to spend at home on critical needs. Or, it could lead to abrupt spikes in interest rates as American debtors are forced to pay whatever it takes to get the loans they need.
In volatile economic times like now, leadership is crucial — and notably absent with this administration. Officials have made no effort to orchestrate a more coordinated and comprehensive realignment of the world’s currencies, in part, it seems, because the administration is unwilling to have America do its part by saving more.
Geopolitical uncertainty is the hallmark of the Bush/Cheney/McCain/Goodlatte foreign policy. The war in Iraq destabilized an entire region and and the off and on saber rattling and threats toward to Iran are keeping friends and foes alike off balance and confused. Our once cherished influence with the Saudis and others is gone. Rumors of war makes the oil markets jumpy giving rise to more speculation.
Cackling about which, wild and uncontrolled speculation, may be the driving force behind the current escalation of gas prices. With supplies up and demand down something has turned the "law" of supply and demand on its head. According to this article in Business Week (pretty Republican read, I'd say) it is all about "unregulated commodities markets and greed." Or another way of saying it - this is what happens when the fox guards the hen house.
So Bob, before you fling chicken litter at Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats who have only "controlled" Congress for a little over a year, you better look at nearly 8 years of Bush administration policies (supported 99.9% of the time by you) that undermined the U.S. position in the world of politics, economics, and morals.
Questions to Bob on the Democrats controlling Congress: how many obstacles have you and your GOP friends erected to block Democratic initiatives? How many procedural delays will the House minority muster? How many filibusters will Republicans threaten in the Senate? How many bills will the president veto? How many times will you support his veto? Don't blame the Democrats until you look in the mirror.
As The Roanoke Times noted in an editorial "Gasbag Politics,"
Goodlatte has an opportunity during this election season to prove he can rise above the fray. So far, he's off to a disappointing, but predictable, start.
There is a choice for common sense leadership in the 6th District this November. It it time to retire Bob. Take a Gas-X - bloat is the only kind of gas with which you can speak on with authority.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A beautiful late spring day

A few pictures around the house and from our exploration today. All of the flowers are around the homestead. They are stunning and no photo can do them justice.
We encountered this fellow along a gravel road. He was not too happy with me taking pictures and put on quite a show. He'd puff up and spread his feathers whenever I seemed to threaten. And, he was talking turkey whenever I got close.
Christians Creek was serene. We could have waded and enjoyed the quiet for much of the afternoon.
The lush Shenandoah Valley is beautiful.
A few more flower pictures from the homestead.
I type while sitting next to an open window - I can hear the "night sounds" coming from a nearby pond and creek. With the hectic pace of life, I sometimes have to remember to take a moment to smell the roses, to enjoy wildlife, and to catch all the colors of our world.

Local Coverage of the Democratic Convention Disappointing

The News Leader had nothing, zero, zilch about the Democratic Convention's nomination of Sam Rasoul. No real surprise there - mostly they cover the "important" stuff like restaurant health inspections and the songs and last dinners loved by locals. Every now and then The News Leader gets brainlocked on a story and wears everyone out - After Hours and local Republican cock fights are the most recent examples. Sometimes I think this paper is only good for catching the droppings of my feathered brethren. I do like McClosky's cartoons, however. Why he doesn't fly the coop?
I don't often peck around in the The News Virginian, but a quick search of their website showed only one recent article about Sam . . . prior to the convention. The focus was on the new young faces taking over local politics. Sam was only mentioned in passing.
The Daily News-Record doesn't do Sundays, so we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see what coverage they do/don't  have. A website search found nothing within the last month.
The Roanoke Times ran an extensive article that began
Democrat Sam Rasoul, who since last spring has been running for Congress, received the official nomination Saturday to face U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Roanoke County, in the November general election.
Rasoul, who lives in Blue Ridge, was selected by Democrats in the 6th Congressional District during an uncontested nominating convention at Rockbridge County High School.
He will be the first Democrat to challenge Goodlatte, an eight-term incumbent, since Roanoke Mayor-elect David Bowers tried in 1998. Goodlatte has faced independents since then but won easily each time.
Didn't have a chance to check the Lynchburg and other smaller newspapers. However, the online Augusta Free Press has extensive coverage and webcasts. Perhaps that isn't too surprising since the editor, Chris Graham, is the new Democratic chair in Waynesboro and was present at the convention. Chair or not, Graham and the AFP have long held a reputation for covering stories and getting scoops ahead of the Augusta area print media.
Such beautiful weather and here I am pecking around in political litter. Have a great Memorial Day and please take time to remember the reason for this important holiday.
Peck. Peck.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Democrats Nominate Rasoul

Lots of laying mash in the political trough this weekend - Sixth District Democrats did what everyone expected when they formalized the nomination of Sam Rasoul to challenge Bob Goodlatte for House of Representatives. No real surprise there . . . kind of like a good hen laying an egg every day.
Sam accepted the nomination and immediately took on the issues the Republican swiftboaters will likely raise - his age and ethnicity. Make no mistake, he knows he'll be hammered by bigots and Republicans obsessed with holding on to power. But from Sam's remarks, make no mistake that he'll answer every attack. Sam was inspirational while talking about the American Dream - OMG, hope that doesn't mean a "chicken in every pot . . !"
While Sam gave a fine speech, the highlight of the convention was the nominating speech by Bill Bestpitch, First Vice-Chair of the Roanoke City Democratic Committee and former member of the Roanoke City Council. Somehow, Cliff over at Cobalt6 got a digital copy and posted it by 6:00 PM! Line by line and issue by issue, Bill laid out Goodlatte's failings and hammered home the theme that when Sam Rasoul gets to Washington, he'll be working for us
Gotta admit, Bob Goodlatte has been feasting on the chicken feed of special interests. Will voters in the Sixth District return a guy who often sides with big agribusiness over the family farm? Will they return a guy who voted against the 21st Century G.I. Bill and valley veterans? Will they return a guy who gets a "F" on education policy and supports the failed "No Child Left Behind?" Every rooster knows incumbents are tough to beat, but Mr. Goodlatte is on the wrong side of so many issues near and dear to valley voters that his rotten eggs are starting to stink. Sam promises to listen, to hear, and to represent the values of the valley in D.C.
The convention also chose  four delegates (and one alternate) to the Democratic National Convention in Denver and a presidential elector. During the downtimes when votes were being tabulated, the convention honored "Most Valuable Democrats" and "Most Valuable Young Democrats" in each locality. Seems there is quite a rise in activism - some of these Dems must get up before the chickens!
David Layman, former chair of the Sixth District Committee, who suffered a heart attack while leading a committee meeting, was also honored. A slideshow of his family and political life accompanied the reading of a resolution commemorating his dedication to his community and the Democratic Party. David's widow and a number of family members were present.
Spotted at the convention was Chris Graham, the new chair of the Waynesboro Democratic Committee. 
That's all from the chicken coop for now. Remember Coarse Cracked Corn is 8% protein, 2.5% fat, and 2.75% fiber. But, that's a hell of a lot healthier than 100% BS at the local wingnut blogs. Peck. Peck.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Satan, the Bible, the Constitution, and Craig County Schools

According to an article in, the Craig County School Board has approved an elective course in Bible study for the 2008-09 school year. The action has prompted the ACLU to ask for information.
Before the School Board voted to add the course entitled "The Bible in History and Literature," there was a short video presentation featuring actor Chuck Norris (you may recall he was a visible supporter of Mike Huckabee) and several county residents spoke about the need to have God in school. “Satan is here in Craig County High School,” said former Craig County School Board member Fay Powers. She added, “We fight Satan every day."
Several pastors spoke in favor of the new class.  "We can teach the philosophy of evolution, but not the Bible” in school, said the Rev. Morris. Retired pastor Jerry King said he “would be surprised if this county turned it [the class] down, when we know the end is near.”
About a half dozen students also spoke in favor of a Bible class. Freshman Cody Rader spoke with emotion, "The law says we can do this," he said, and he complained about having to listen to the theory of evolution, while not believing it.
At least one school board member urged caution. Dawna McDowel pointed out that the Bible class “content is different than what is being hoped for.” She continued, “If we’re going to institute a course, we need to be very careful not to cross the line, and I mean VERY careful . . . forcing religion on others is against the Constitution.”
The course being offered is believed to be one promoted by the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools. It claims to have its curriculum in 1,800 high schools in nearly 450 school districts in 37 states.
The People for the American Way charges that ". . . the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS) have attempted (sometimes successfully) to introduce Bible classes in public schools under the guise of improving students’ understanding of literature and history. But, more often, the real intent of the organization is to promote a religious, primarily Christian doctrine . . ."
According to a press release, the ACLU of Virginia has filed a Freedom of Information Act inquiry. The ACLU noted that a NCBCPS course in a Texas school district was dropped after parents filed suit. The school board opted for another course consistent with the United States Constitution. “Public schools in Craig County may teach students about religion and they can offer courses that include studying the Bible,” said ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Rebecca Glenberg. “But there’s a legal line between teaching about religion in public schools and promoting particular religious viewpoints. If Craig County’s teachers will be following the NCBCPS course recommendations, they will certainly be crossing that line.”
Some school divisions, notably in the Rockingham and Augusta counties, have "released time" programs where elementary students leave school (with parents' permission) for Bible classes taught just off the premises (sometimes a mobil classroom literally inches over the line). This arrangement was upheld in Zorach v. Clauson because the instruction was off school grounds and did not involve public funds.
Although legal, released time programs' entanglement with public schools' daily routines sometimes run afoul of the Constitution. For example, there have been a few cases of teachers inappropriately "bribing" students (who didn't want to go) with treats to go to the Bible class. In other schools, parents have felt community pressure to grant permission. In others, the Bible class has been treated and seen as part of the school curriculum.
Although not a legal issue, released time programs have recently come under fire as schools try to maximize instructional time for the Standards of Learning. When time for the arts or PE is cut back for more teaching to the high stakes tests, it is hard to justify time out of the school day for Bible study.
If Craig County HS goes forward with "The Bible in History and Literature" course, everyone from the superintendent to the teacher will be walking a fine legal line. Teaching about religion is okay. But, when it becomes preaching, even to a minor degree, it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The ACLU and others will be watching!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Daily Slur

The Daily News-Record editorial page is a daily regurgitation of bile flung (usually) at Tim Kaine, Barack Obama, and anyone the editors deem liberals (which is all Democrats and any Republican to the left of Newt Gingrich). At least they aren't so happy with McCain either, especially since, gasp, his "Left Talk Express" has a (inadequate) plan to deal with climate change and environmental issues.
This week, the DNR editors put out this below the belt crap:
Edward Luttwak, writing in The New York Times on May 12, makes a few interesting points about Sen. Barack Obama, the Democrat presdential candidate. Speaking of Mr. Obama's professed Christianity, Luttwak writes that Islam does not recognize Mr. Obama's conversion, which could be problematic for a President Obama.
"Like all monotheistic religions, Islam is an exclusive faith," Mr. Luttwak wrote.
"As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran, his mother's Christian background is irrelevant. ...
"His conversion, however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is ‘irtidad' or ‘ridda,' usually translated from the Arabic as "apostasy," but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim's family may choose to forgive)."
All of which means, Luttwak says, that providing security for a President Obama on a visit to a Muslim country would be ticklish "because the very act of protecting him would be sinful for Islamic security guards. More broadly, most citizens of the Islamic world would be horrified by the fact of Senator Obama's conversion to Christianity once it became widely known — as it would, no doubt, should he win the White House."
This truth, should not, Luttwak observes, affect whether a voter casts his ballot for Mr. Obama. But it does mean a President Obama's miraculously smoothing relations with the Islamic world isn't the certainty some observers say it is.
A sampling of the interesting comments on the DNR's online forum (join in with your own):
"... DNR, racism has no shame..."
"So which is it? Is he a secret Muslim that we have to fear, or a Christian who converted from Islam and we need to fear FOR him? Can't have it both ways."
"'Obama's professed Christianity.' You must be implying that he is some sort of manchurian Muslim candidate. False, wrong, and shame on you..."
"The best part (OK, I'll grant you there's a lot of best parts in this short piece) is how the DNR decides that we Christians should recognize Koran teachings and disregard Obama's mother's faith..."
The Daily News Record is a pretty solid in reporting local and state news. Too bad they have the right wing monkey cage running the editorial room.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Shame on Bob Goodlatte

Last week the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century G.I. Bill as an amendment to the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Military Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill would provide educational benefits similar to those of WWII veterans. Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA-03) was one of the House patrons. This is the same bill Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) introduced (on his first day in office) in the Senate and pushed on the Sunday talk shows and at every opportunity. Among the Senate supporters is Senator John Warner (R-VA).
The vote in the House was 256 to 156 with 32 Republicans voting with the majority. How did Bob Goodlatte (R-VA-06) vote on the 21st Cenury G.I. Bill and help for our veterans? On the wrong side.
Seems Mr. Goodlatte is all to willing to send young men and women into harm's way. He's all too willing to spend billion of dollars a week on a war, occupation, whatever you want to call it. He's all to willing to ask our soldiers and their families to sacrifice for their country. But, Mr. Goodlatte is unwilling to provide veterans with the same educational benefits that WWII vets received. Mr. Goodlatte is short-changing the young men and women of the Sixth District, Virginia, and the nation. Does he think a handshake and a hollow "thank you" is reward enough for their service?
CCC recently praised Mr. Goodlatte for his vote on the Farm Bill because he seemed to be listening to constituents. Today, he's even taking a tour of Valley farms, no doubt to claim credit.
On the 21st Century G.I. Bill, Goodlatte is flat wrong. Are his ears plugged with BushWax? Does he not care about our vets? Is it about the money? If so, Mr. Goodlatte you are a hypocrite for supporting billions for Iraq while shortchanging these young men and women. Contact our not-so-representative Mr. Goodlatte and tell him you stand with our veterans - and expect him to do so, too.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Guns, Government, Common Sense

Boones Mill is a small town in Franklin County, VA. Located on Rt 220 between Roanoke and Rocky Mount. It isn't the kind of place that often makes the news. The 300 or so residents of the town probably like it that way. Most of the time town council meetings are low key affairs drawing little attention beyond a few civic-minded residents. 
At a recent council meeting all that changed. Folks filled the small council chambers and some were packing heat - yes sir, the kind of heat known by such names as Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Glock. Their reason for being there - to protest a "gun ban."
Council had put up a sign in Town Hall asking people to not bring guns inside. Check your gun at the door, partner. In response, guns rights advocates came to the council meeting to protest by proudly carrying guns. Turns out that, under Virginia law, the protestors had a valid point! Local governments can ban guns in schools, churches, and courthouses but not on other public property. So, the Town of Boones Mill acted beyond its authority when it put up the sign.
Similar protests have occurred in other towns and cities in the Shenandoah Valley, Northern Virginia, and elsewhere. These protests are not spontaneous reactions of local citizens but are carefully orchestrated by gun-rights groups like the Virginia Citizens Defense League. Visit the website for their commentary on Boones Mill.
Which leads to some obvious questions:
  • Should the General Assembly preempt local elected officials from banning guns in town/city halls, at council, school board, zoning, other meetings. We know the General Assembly has that authority, but should it be in the business of telling local government when to stand and when to sit?
  • Do guns have a place at these council, school board, or other meetings such as public hearings on zoning or the budget? Sometimes these meetings deal with topics that excite the emotions and pit citizen vs official or neighbor vs neighbor. Even if it isn't brandished, could the very presence of an armed citizen intimidate others from speaking out? Could it influence a supervisor's vote?
  • I know that the gun I can't see is more dangerous than the one I can, but allowing anyone to walk in to a public building with a openly carried weapon seems to be inviting others to do so with a concealed weapon.
  • And it isn't just meetings that should be of concern. Citizens visit town halls and county administrative building for all sorts of reasons: taxes, building permits, registering to vote, etc. Occasionally a citizen is angry over his taxes, or a failed building inspection, or whatever. Do guns have a place in situations where those kinds of emotional confrontations may occur?
  • Does the General Assembly allow the open carrying of guns in the Capitol and the General Assembly Building? If not, why not? What is good policy for our state lawmakers would seem to be good policy for local governments as well. Or, at least let local governments decide for themselves if guns and government meetings mix. 

Saturday, May 17, 2008

With Election Looming, Goodlatte Listens

By a vote of 318-106 the House of Representatives passed a $209 billion farm bill that includes crop subsidies, school lunches, and promotes ethanol. It also includes historic funding for cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. Bob Goodlatte, whose hearing may have improved a bit with elections less than six months away, voted for the bill. The Virginia delegation supported the bill by a vote of 7-4  with Republicans Goode, Wolfe, Davis, and Cantor voting no. Agriculture is important in all of Virginia, nowhere more so than the 6th District.
The bill now goes to the Senate where it has bipartisan support. President Bush, saying the bill gives too much to farmers, is threatening a veto. If the House numbers stay firm, there will be sufficient votes to override. Goodlatte, who has rarely broken from the Bush position on anything, will be one to watch closely. Perhaps the increasing irrelevancy of the president combined with GOP setbacks in recent special elections and a strong challenge by Democrat Sam Rasoul have gotten Mr. Goodlatte's attention. 
Environmentalists have applauded the increased funding ($440 million) for bay cleanup efforts. "This is a win for everybody. It's a win for the farmers who are looking for help in their efforts to improve the Chesapeake Bay and it's a win for everybody in the region who loves the bay," said Doug Siglin, of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The funding would support various programs affecting farms - planting cover crops and forested buffer zones to help filter out contaminants before they get into streams and rivers that flow into the bay. It is estimated that about 40% of contaminants come from farms in the bay's watershed.
The bill retains the traditional commodity subsidies and includes $3.8 billion permanent disaster payment program for farmers hit hard by weather losses.
Any blog named Coarse Cracked Corn has an interest in a farm bill and especially in the ethanol provisions. The president has pushed ethanol as a partial solution to our energy needs but from my perspective corn-based ethanol is not the way to go. It is expensive to produce and puts energy and food in competition. On the positive side, the farm bill places new emphasis on other sources of ethanol including incentives for sugar and cellulosic (like wood chips) ethanol production - a good development that may make ethanol production more efficient and reduce its emphasis on corn. The bill cuts the tax credit for ethanol producers by 6 cents to 45 cents/gallon. On the other hand, the bill preserves some favoritism for corn ethanol and protects domestic ethanol production by maintaining a high tariff to keep Brazilian ethanol, which is made from sugar, out of U.S. markets. I hope this anti-competitive tariff is temporary. For more information on the energy provisions of the farm bill check out this article.
That's all from the barnyard for now. Peck. Peck.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Dem Chair in Waynesboro?

Marlana Lewis, chair of the Waynesboro Democrats, has resigned. She and her family are moving to North Carolina. 
Yesterday, an article in the Augusta Free Press stated that the only announced candidate for the chair was Chris Graham. Graham is publisher/editor of the Augusta Free Press and recently lost a bid for Waynesboro City Council.
Lynn Mitchell, (aka swacgirl) screams conflict of interest conveniently forgetting Roger Ailes and all the other Republican media moguls. Oh well, she's pretty much a rightwing zealot, anyhow. Nobody pays much attention to her rants.
On the other hand, most Democrats I talk to think Graham is a hard working journalist but don't trust him. So, this rooster has to wonder how Graham will do in his attempted coup of the Waynesboro Democratic Committee. Even if he wins will he be accepted by the 6th District Committee (ah, maybe fratricide like among the Augusta GOP)? How will he get along with Augusta chair Tom Long and Staunton chair Bob Dickerman?
Stay tuned. The Waynesboro Democratic Committee meets May 22.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Godmother

Thanks to The News Leader's cartoonist McCloskey for this great cartoon.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

GOP Lays Rotten Eggs

The leadership controversy in the Augusta GOP continues with a guest column by Larry Roller in The News Leader. I'll save you reading the painful rehash of the "facts" of this intra-party mud wrestling by quoting Roller's summary: "Obviously, the behavior of Michael clearly demonstrates that he is not interested in 'what’s good for the Republican party.' He’s more concerned about what authority and power he can attain for himself." In a related story, Roller has appealed the 6th District Committee's decision to give the chairmanship to Kurt Michael to the state party.
The second rotten egg is the controversial ad run by a committee calling itself "Citizens Committee for Commonsense Government in Staunton." According to a story in The News Leader:
Local GOP insider Olivia "Libby" Welsh has filed with State Board of Elections as a political action committee, revealing the names of donors who funded the controversial ad endorsing City Council candidates Rusty Ashby, Richard P. "Dickie" Bell and Bob Campbell. Yet those donors say they didn't know the ad's content and anticipated a more positive approach.
A quick read of the story reveals Mrs. Welsh solicited donations ranging from $250 to $1,000 from nine individuals to pay $4,500 for the full page ad attacking the city manager and staff. Some of those individuals now say they put up the money without knowing the content or purpose of the ad. And these are responsible business persons in the community?
Welsh has also admitted she worked with the Campbell campaign on the ad - a violation of campaign finance laws. Commonwealth Attorney Ray Robertson and the Virginia State Police are investigating. With so many of the conspirators professing ignorance (one even said "I was sound asleep when you called me"), it will be interesting to see how deep they are able to probe. If there was a intentional violation of campaign laws, misdemeanor charges may be filed. Otherwise a civil suit may lead to fines.
The ad seemed to have little impact and may actually have hurt Campbell and Ashby. Only Bell, an incumbent, won.
Libby Welsh has long been known as a GOP insider who loves to throw around her prestige and money to get her way in the party and in the community. She often pulls strings under the table to assure she wins. I bet the next time the phone rings at 3:00 AM and Libby is on the line asking for money, the sleepy ear on the other end will be wide awake and the mouth will say "No! Go away Libby!"

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

City Council Elections - Dems Do Well

In Roanoke, Democrats won stunning victories for city council. David Bowers made a political comeback trouncing the incumbent, Nelson Harris. Bowers had served two previous terms as mayor.  The Democratic ticket of Anita Price, Sherman Lea, and Court Rosen was also elected, defeating three independents.
In Staunton's "nonpartisan" city council elections two candidates supported by Democrats won - David Metz and Ophie Kier. Incumbent Dickie Bell and newcomer Andrea Oakes also won election. In the last weekend of the race, a controversial ad by the so-called “Citizens Committee for Common Sense Government in Staunton” endorsed GOP candidates Dickie Bell, Rusty Ashby, and Bob Campbell. Depending on whose story is the truth, the ad may have run afoul of campaign finance laws. At any rate, the ad seems to have carried little weight and may have even hurt its intended beneficiaries. 

Warner Greeted By Enthusiastic Crowd and Sunshine

Folks started gathering around 4 PM, well before Mark Warner was expected to arrive. The lawn around the courthouse was dotted with red, white and blue yard signs. There was friendly banter as as upbeat crowd of a couple hundred Democrats, independents, and even some Republicans waited for his arrival. Easily towering over most other folks was Staunton Councilman Bruce Elder. And arriving just as Warner began speaking was JMU president Rose.
A dark cloud and a few drops of rain brought out umbrellas just as Governor Warner walked across the street, greeting folks and exchanging a few words.
Several speakers including Lowell Fulk and Sheriff Don Farley (an independent) spoke about Warner's successful term as governor. Farley, saying he was a country boy and was allowed to talk this way, said "I'm really pissed off at you," while turning to look at governor. As a smile broke across his face, he continued "because you won't be governor again."
As Warner began, he looked to the clouds and speculated that it might be a short speech. In a passionate and fast paced (because of the weather?) presentation Warner talked of the challenges Virginia faced when he was governor and of the practical bipartisan approach that turned a deficit into surplus, invested in public education, and preserved the state's reputation as a friendly place to do business.
As Warner moved into the substance of his speech, the sun broke through the clouds warming the backs of the crowd that came from Harrisonburg, Rockingham, Augusta, Staunton, Shenandoah, and perhaps other more distant places. With the sunshine, Warner turned his attention to issues facing the nation including getting rid of NCLB and taking care of our vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Emerging from all his talk about issues was a core theme: when elected Mark Warner will be a "radical centrist" who cares less about partisanship and more about solving problems and moving America forward.
Sam Rasoul, the soon-to-be nominee of 6th District Democrats for the House of Representatives arrived early and enjoyed meeting and greeting folks. A large number of folks were sporting Rasoul stickers. Sam and his wife, Layaly, found their way to the front and listened intently to Warner's comments.
Also in the thick of the crowd was Drew Richardson who also sought the nomination to run for Congress. Drew withdrew from that race, but his continued activity and presence at today's rally probably signals a future run for office.
Even future voters got caught up in the action. After the rally, Graham grabbed a yard sign leaning against my legs. His dad assured me it would find a place in their front yard.
This was clearly a Mark Warner event, but Sam Rasoul supporters were actively handing out stickers and yard signs. I expected to see more people displaying support for one presidential candidate or the other. I guess most people were here to show support for Warner and put presidential politics aside for this rally. That said, I did spot a dozen or so Obama T-shirts and buttons, but not a single one for Clinton.
Warner's visit got front page coverage with additional photos in the Daily-News Record.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

New rooster crowing

There is a newbie blog poking fun at the twisted lives of Augusta Republicans - 141 MAJORITY. Check it out. I've been tempted several times to post reactions to the daily dribble from the News Leader about the fratricide in the Augusta GOP... but it is just too complicated for this simple pecker. If you want to check out the latest, see today's News Leader article. There are plenty of links to the earlier muck.
In a related story, I got an email alleging that Larry King asked Jon Stewart if America was ready for a woman or a black man. Stewart responded "were we asked in 200o if American was ready for a moron" (or something like that). Anyhow, have fun watching the waning days of Bush/Cheney and the kindergarten playground squabble of Kurt, Lynn, Larry, and friends. It is all good cracked corn.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Five years and counting the deaths and the dollars. 
Enough said.

Springsteen supports Blue Ridge Food Bank

Thanks to Cobalt6 for bringing this to the attention of Coarse Cracked Corn. In a perfect storm of converting food to fuel, oil inflation, and other factors we are seeking skyrocketing food prices. Inconvenient to many of us, this is hammering lower income families, especially hitting kids. Take Springsteen's advice and help out the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.
Bruce Springsteen electrified John Paul Jones Arena during a hard driving 2 1/2 hour performance on Wednesday night featuring a potent blend of old favorites like "Born to Run," "No Surrender," and "Promised Land" and new classics from Magic such as "Radio Nowhere" and "Long Walk Home." Although it wasn't a political performance, I was hoping Bruce would mention his endorsement of Barack Obama. There were a number of fans (including me) sporting Obama buttons or Tees. But politcs is never far from his thoughts and it is at the very core of his music. His lead-in to "Living in the Future" was a passionate reminder of constitutional rights lost over the past 7 years. During the encore, a rousing "American Land" from the Live from Dublin CD featured lyrics on the big screens driving home the band's thoughts on right wing immigration bashing. Springsteen supported the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank with a pamphlet and thoughtful words throughout the performance. If you are a fan (or not) how about supporting the Springsteen Endorsed Virtual Food Drive.