Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Goodlatte lays rotten eggs

Bob Goodlatte sent a mailer that is just arriving in mailboxes in the 6th Congressional District in which he says:
"Recently the Congress passed, with my support, important legislation that expands the education benefits for our returning service members."
That legislation, initiated by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) enjoyed wide bipartisan support and the overwhelming support of a grateful American people.
Trouble is, Bob Goodlatte's taxpayer funded mailer is a disgusting lie. Goodlatte, following the lead of George Bush who threatened to veto the G.I. Bill, voted no. Only after the bill passed with such huge support that the president withdrew his opposition, did Bob Goodlatte support the G.I. Bill which had been included in an appropriations bill.
In another rotten decision, Bob Goodlatte voted no on the House Judiciary Committee motion to hold Karl Rove in contempt for his refusal to testify before Congress. During the impeachment of President Clinton, Goodlatte talked glowingly of the rule of law and the constitutional responsibilities of Congress. Now, when a Machiavellian political operative, Karl Rove, refuses to appear before our national legislature to answer questions about the prosecution of former Governor Donald Siegelman of Alabama and the politically motived firings of U.S. District Attorneys, Goodlatte forgets all about the rule of law and subverts legitimate congressional oversight powers to blatant partisanship.
Bob Goodlatte has laid so many rotten eggs, the voters should kick his sorry tail feathers out of the henhouse. He has failed to represent them or our great nation.

News of the day

In a shocking and sad story, Fred Hutchens, 26, an aide on the staff of Senator Jim Webb, was found along Rt. 220 near Fincastle, dead from a single gunshot to the head. Hutchens had been a rising star in Virginia Democratic politics. A Botetourt County deputy found him, with a pistol underneath, his body. The Roanoke Times has the story
Linwood Holton's memoir has been released.
"He (Dumas Malone) said, 'Governor, be sure to write your memoirs. Otherwise, your perspective will never be known, that kept nudging me all through the years -- 'Holton, you've got to get this done.' "
Former Governor Linwood Holton, 84, has written his memoir of his life from coalfields to the statehouse. The father-in-law of current governor, Tim Kaine, made history with his 1969 election:
"My election as a Republican was, in itself, a culmination of efforts to create two-party democracy in Virginia, but little did I then realize what a wonderful panorama of opportunities would be presented during the next four years," Holton wrote of his 1969 election.
While Holton is credited with beginning the process of cleaning up the state's rivers and beginning the cabinet system in Virginia government, he believes his greatest contribution was setting the example and prodding Virginian to "turn its back on its discriminatory past and become a model of race relations." When the Holtons enrolled their children in a predominately black public school in Richmond, the photo of him walking his daughter to school made national news and set a powerful signal to all Virginians.
Holton was part of the old Mountain-Valley coalition of Republicans who were far more moderate and forward thinking than the conservative Byrd Democrats who controlled Virginia politics for decades. Holton, and others of the M-V coalition like John Dalton, moved the state into the future of race relations, environmental protection, and moving K-12 and higher education to new levels. But, on a fundamental level, Holton's election signaled the beginning of robust two-party competition. 
Somewhere along the way, things changed. While there are still conservative Democrats, the old segregationists and others living the past slowly found that party a hostile environment. Today's Virginia Democrats are a mixture of can-do centrists like Mark Warner and Jim Webb, moderate/conservatives, and progressives.
While there are still a few Republicans of the M-V mold (Emmett Hanger comes to mind), that party has been captured by the rigid, right wing, social and religious conservatives. A mixture of both groups enabled the GOP to capture the General Assembly and elect governors like George Allen and Jim Gilmore. But today, with the right wing in control the old M-V guys are aliens in their own party.
The fracturing of the GOP, while Democrats have united around forward looking centrists, has shifted the state's political dynamic since 2000. The election of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and governors, Jim Webb as U.S. Senator, and Democrats re-gaining control of the Virginia Senate signal the new rise of the Democratic brand in the commonwealth.
Because of this groundswell for Democrats, while the Republican continue to retreat into a far-right, do-nothing corner, Virginia is seriously in play for Barack Obama and will likely go for the Democratic candidate for the first time since 1964. Virginia will also be represented by a second Democratic senator, Mark Warner, which hasn't been the case since the early 70s. You can expect the Democrats to pick up a couple House seats as well.
The legacy of Linwood Holton lives on - today it is found in the Democratic Party.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Grits and Red Eye Gravy

A Shenandoah Valley blogger, Riley Murry, has "Blue Roots in the Red Zones" on the Huffington Post. Good read. Good insights.
The News Leader has confirmed the opening of a Staunton headquarters for Barack Obama. Chris Saxman's comments sound like he's been scratching in the litter but not coming up with much. Tough times for Republicans.
Raising Kaine has a couple great posts about the national media cackling on Tim Kaine as VP here and here. From this perch, I think the talk about Kaine is genuine, but it is likely a trial balloon. We'll see how the winds blow it around over the next few days - that could seal the deal one way or another. Upside - Kaine was an early Obama supporter and might give Obama a lock on Virginia and help in other southern states. Downside - Kaine, as much as I think him a good egg, hasn't had a barn burner of a term as governor and he doesn't help Obama like somebody with a foreign/military policy pedigree would. Plus, his exit might open up some advantages for the GOP in the state.
Last point - my bumper sticker survey during my road trip reveals Obama - 3 and McCain - 1. Thought I'd see more. Lots more! While political geeks are blogging, most of America is on vacation, playing softball, picking tomatoes in the garden, or watching the tube (anything but politics). Cluck!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Golden Eggs

Looks like area Democrats are grinding all sorts of good corn these days. They'll be as busy as a new rooster in the hen house over the next few weeks. Check it out:
An Obama Headquarters will have a grand opening in Staunton on Saturday, August 2 from 10 AM to 2 PM. The HQ is located in the Beverley Building at the corner of Johnson Street and S. New Street (100 S. New Street). This brings to about 25 the number of Obama headquarters around the state. One opened in Harrisonburg a couple of weeks ago.
The next week, August 5 thru 9, the Augusta County Democrats will have a booth at the Augusta County Fair. They'll be pecking around there, with help from the Staunton and Waynesboro Democrats, each evening and all afternoon/evening on Saturday. 
And, as previously posted, the Augusta, Staunton, and Waynesboro Democratic committees are hosting Paint the Valley Blue.
For information and tickets visit Paint the Valley Blue
or email,,
All of this while the McCain campaign is just now scratching up a list of local volunteers.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Friends of a Feather

My feathered friends looking for food in the coarse sand of OBX. Politics is far from the mind. Cold Dos Equis  Ambar with lime. Steaks on the grill. Seafood tomorrow. Republicans used for chum. Cluck... politics out of mind... for today.
Cock a doodle do... I need to crow about the very prominent Democratic Headquarters along the main road in Nags Head. Cluck. Cluck.
Back to the brew.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Corn meal mush

The DNR has a top of the front page headline, McCain Recruits Locals. Wow! Could it be that his campaign is building a new organization? For a political junkie, this looked like must read material.
This breaking news comes on the heels last weekend's report that the Obama folks opened a HQ in Harrisonburg. Reports are that one in Staunton will soon follow. They've opened 24 headquarters in smaller and medium sized cities and towns.
OK, the McCain folks have lots of new recruits and a whirlwind of activity. Whoa rooster.... what is this? The article is basically a list of local GOP chairs. Nothing new here. Nothing! Local party chairs, both Republican and Democratic, are always the first line of locals who work for their candidate. This story is corn meal mush. No salt. No butter. No milk. No nothing.
So, why does the DNR print.... no, not merely print (this would have been a relatively meaningless but OK page filler in the back of Section B), but give front page headline billing to this mush? Pick your reason -
  • Slow news day. Nothing happening.
  • It really is news. McCain's campaign has generated so little enthusiasm and action in Virginia that it was doubtful anyone, even the local chairs, would get out and work.
  • The DNR is a Republican mouthpiece. Obama has filled the local, state, national, even international news headlines this week. McCain countered with that stunning pic with Bush #1 (looked like Grumpy Old Men to me) and a "stimulating" interview in a grocery store cheese aisle. The editors of the DNR just had to find something to get their guy a headline.
  • Remember the old joke (it is even mentioned on their website), GOP means Get Out and Push. Local party chairs are getting a public prodding to do something.
Got another idea why the DNR would run such bland mush on the front page? Love to hear it. 

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Getting the fox out of the henhouse

Dave "Mudcat" Saunders is a Democratic consultant and co-author of Foxes in the Henhouse: How the Republicans Stole the South and the Heartland and What the Democrats Must Do to Run 'em Out. Always insightful and often witty, Mudcat, is fun to read and even more fun to get into a Q&A with spontaneous comments. The Shad Plank conducted an online chat on July 23. A few Mudcatisms:
You damned right I see Gilmore getting nasty. I think it's his nature. Some of the attacks will have absolutely no basis in truth. By Labor Day, he's going to be telling you guys that Mark was the dude behind the grassy knoll.
For example, he (VA Attorney General Bob McDonnell) put in all those sodomy bills and when asked if he had ever committed sodomy, replied, "I don't recall." Bubba hears that and says, "I might have forgotten where my car keys are. In fact, I might have forgotten where my car was, but I don't think I would have forgotten that one."
Read the entire interview including his thoughts on the '09 gubernatorial race and how Obama can win in Virginia at The Shad Plank.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Scrambled, fried, or just cracked

Todd Gilbert retracted (sort of) and then restated (again, sort of) his absurd statements that Barack Obama is a "borderline communist," a "marxist," and a "socialist." Gilbert told the Northern Virginia Daily, "sometimes to make a point you use exaggeration."
Cluck! That sounds like a step in the right direction. Okay Todd, you were caught up in the moment, the scrambled eggs were hot, you were surrounded by Republican loyalists, and you threw them some red hot sausage.
Then, with the advantage of hindsight and (one would suppose) rational thought (can Republicans do that?), you uttered the following distortions and misrepresentations: "the fact remains that Obama uses the rhetoric of class struggle, his policies rely on heavy progressive taxation and the redistribution of wealth." (emphasis mine)
Whoa. Todd is a Republican who supports president Bush. Talk about a big, prying government kind of guy. Spying on citizens. Tax breaks weighted to help his rich friends in their "class struggle." Tax breaks for big oil. The biggest redistribution of wealth from the middle and lower economic classes to the wealthy since when . . . the Gilded Age? His friend in the White House doesn't mind bailing out the mortgage industry (and neither do I as long it is focused on the little birds instead of the vultures), but what happened to the "invisible hand" of capitalism that you cherish in your bird brain?
"tippingpoint" said it best in his post at the Northern Virginia Daily:
Delegate Gilbert clearly proves that passing the Virginia SOL's is not a requirement to serve in the legislature of this great Commonwealth. He must have been sleeping in his Social Studies classes. Calling Barack Obama a "Marxist" is simply stupid. I doubt Mr. Gilbert knows the difference between Marxism and the Marx Brothers. He couldn't tell the difference between a Socialist and socialite. The King of "big goverment" debt growth is good 'ol "C student" GW Bush. Gilbert's jibber jabber has more in common with the fanatical jihadist rants of Al-Qaeda, than with the common-sense GOP of fair-minded Republicans like Dwight Eisenhower, GHW Bush, Gerald Ford, and good 'ol John Warner. Virginia Republicans - Get a Grip! Don't lose the Grand Old Party to wingnuts like Del. Gilbert!
The good folks of Shenandoah County deserve better representation than they are getting from Todd Gilbert. As voters find out the truth about wingnuts like Gilbert (he has a clone or two south on the 81 corridor), Democrats have been gaining seats in the General Assembly. It may take some time to scour out all the bad eggs here in the Valley where Republicans are entrenched like burnt eggs in a cast iron frying pan. Shenandoah County Democrats have less than a year to find a good candidate to challenge this cracked egg. Happy good egg hunting.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Crowing about the Queen City

The editorial board of The News Leader has their collective knickers in a twist over closing East Beverley St. during Mark Warner's recent visit to the Queen City. Their editorial points out, "when taxpayer money supports organizations, their respective boards need to be careful how they get played by the political parties."
Was this a political event? You bet. Everything in an election year seems to have political overtones. Was it overtly partisan? Guess it depends on your perspective. While Warner was welcomed by the clerk of court and vice mayor, no party leaders spoke or were recognized. For his part, Governor Warner did discuss issues in this year's Senate race, but he refrained from overdoing the partisan rhetoric. 
Many of his comments connected the dots between the fine arts, historic preservation, Virginia's rich history, and the economic value of tourism to Staunton, the Shenandoah Valley, and the state. Unlike his opponent, Warner is uniquely qualified to bring this message to Staunton, because as governor, he actively promoted grants and public/private partnerships that made projects like the Dixie, the Wilson Presidential Library, and restoration of the Stonewall Jackson possible. Warner spoke for 10-15 minutes - much of the rest of his time was spent touring and learning more about progress at the Staunton Performing Arts Center and how Staunton is increasingly becoming a cultural center and tourist destination.
The News Leader editorial says that when an organization wants to host a candidate "it should be on private property, not all over downtown" (emphasis mine). One block was closed for a couple hours - it was not "all over downtown." The buildings toured by Warner are mostly shells, hardly a place to conduct such an event. The sidewalk in front of the Dixie was the logical place to showcase the project and closing the street was done, at least in part, for public safety and to avoid even more confusion for police and irritation for motorists. Besides, since when does politics have to be on private property? It is best conducted on the public square where all the people and those who want to hold political power can meet face-to-face. Too often power brokers meet in closed events out of view of the people and the media.
As usual, McCloskey's cartoon is great. He captures two important points about this event - the one made in the editorial, about the event being overdone, and the other equally important point - Mark Warner is very popular in Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Todd Gilbert is a totally rotten egg

I can't cluck more about this total embarrassment than the posts here and here. Todd Gilbert should disgust us all - just like the totally rotten egg he is. He misrepresents his district in the House of Delegates. He stands in the way of progress. He lies. TODD GILBERT LIES. If you'd like to comment about this dumb yoke of a delegate, go to the Northern Virginia Daily

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Onions, corn, zucchini

I just pulled onions from the garden, so this clip from The Onion struck me as particularly funny and oh so sadly true. And, who stood right by Bush's side in all these failures - Bob Goodlatte. That's right, the same Bob who misrepresents us here in the 6th District. Maybe Bushlatte can go on the road with fumbling king george.

Obama HQ Grand Opening

On the same day that a new Rasumssen Poll showed the presidential race in a dead heat in Virginia, the Obama campaign opened a headquarters at 124 South Main Street in Harrisonburg (about a block from the courthouse). The atmosphere reminded me of an Apple Store - lots of smiles, enthusiasm, energy, optimism, and knowledgeable people discussing issues and strategy. Over the past few days, the Obama campaign has opened 20 offices in other small and medium sized towns.
An Obama headquarters should be opening in Staunton in a few weeks.
The HQ opened at 10 AM and there was steady stream of visitors getting signs and bumper stickers and signing up to volunteer. A young lady from Staunton registered to vote and her application was added to a stack of others who had previously done so. Another table had maps of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County - folks were signing up to host events and talk to neighbors in their precincts. Laptops were connected to and to the Neighbor to Neighbor online organizing tool. Mitch Stewart, the statewide campaign director of Virginians for Obama arrived about 1 PM and ignited the crowd while speaking at the reception.
The crowd swelled as the Grand Opening Reception was about to being at 2 PM. Lemonade, ham biscuits, roasted pecans, fresh fruit, and other snacks made for a gathering point at the back of the room if you could weave your way through the crowd to get there . 
As the reception was about to begin the room was filling with people. What's the fire marshal's limit?
Visitors were greeted at the door by local Obama campaign workers and volunteers from the local Democratic committees. Bumper stickers and yard signs were gone shortly after noon - even with an extra supply brought by Barbara Lee from the Augusta-Staunton Democratic headquarters.
Thanks to Tipping Point for the pictures. He has more photos and information at Blue Ridge Data.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Attack chicken

Again and again Jim Gilmore attacked, but he didn't lay a spur on Mark Warner. Such is the way is was and such is the way it will be throughout the fall. Jim Gilmore was one of the most horrendous governors in Virginia history. Mark Warner one the of the best. Virginians know it and will vote it.
Today (July 19) the two candidates debated at The Homestead in Bath County at an event hosted by the Virginia Bar Association. The pitiful underdog, Gilmore, had only one objective - to attack... prior to the debate Gilmore promised to "smoke him (Warner) out." But, like Luke Skywalker, Mr. Warner deflected every jab and blow. As Virginia Tech political commentator Robert Denton said of the lively debate, "Mark Warner more than held his own."
Some pipe-smoking Republicans like the SWACgirls of fantasyland think a miracle Jim Gilmore win is possible. They point to '06 when the "sure to win" incumbent, George Allen, was upset by Jim Webb. Allen lost because Virginians had already grown skeptical of his leadership - and doubts grew as he made dumb statements and empty promises. Gilmore will never get any traction at all because he suffers the same afflictions. Virginians know all too well about his failures as governor. Even Republicans barely nominated him and haven't exactly been supporting him with money or volunteers. Supporting that point - a new Rasmussen Poll shows Warner leading 57% to 34%.
Listen to the debate for yourself on the WMRA podcast, but an acoustic warning, the sound isn't the best. For more coverage check out Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Roanoke Times (AP).
My conclusion: Mark Warner has a lot to crow about. Jim Gilmore is a dumb cluck - even Republicans know it. Expect a 20 point win for Mr. Warner. Only the badly cracked eggs support Jimmy.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mark Warner Tours the Central Valley

Mark Warner's day started in Winchester and ended at the Rockbridge County fair. From there he traveled to Bath County's Homestead where he will participate in the Virginia Bar Association debate this weekend. In between, he had stops in Harrisonburg and Staunton. One of his themes, building a coalition of "radical centrists," was echoed at each stop. As the most successful modern Virginia governor, Mark Warner governed from the center and reached across party lines to first clean up the budget mess left by his predecessor, Jim Gilmore, and then move Virginia forward in K-12 education, protecting the environment, and other core areas. As Warner said -
"If we are going to get this country back on the right track . . . we have to have a strong group of bipartisan 'radical centrists' in the Senate."
In Staunton, where he arrived a little late, Warner was greeted by a crowd of over 150 who braved the mid afternoon heat and blazing sun to greet the next U.S. senator. The sounds of a little pickin' and grinnin' and Woodrow Wilson's Pierce Arrow limo accented the jovial atmosphere among folks seeking a little shade along one sidewalk.
In his remarks, Warner talked of the value of historic renovation and cultural attractions to Virginia tourism - a major business for the Commonwealth - commented on energy policy, rebuilding our nation's infrastructure, and restoring American competitiveness. 
After speaking Governor Warner toured the beginnings of the Staunton Performing Arts Center, Blackfriars, and had a short ride in the Pierce Arrow to the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library.
The best and most complete coverage, including a webcast of some of Warner's remarks, is found at the Augusta Free Press. The News Leader, News Virginian, and NBC29 also had coverage.
A few photos of Warner's campaign stop in Staunton. 
Before speaking, Mark Warner spent time shaking hands and talking to the crowd.
After introductions by Tom Roberts and Dave Metz, Warner took the stage in the heat of the sun to talk about his plans as Virginia's next senator, quipping that "I'm unemployed and looking for a job. Will you hire me?
Click the links for the Augusta Free Press or NB29 to listen to his remarks.
A small group of Gilmore supporters is greeted by Staunton Democratic chair, Bob Dickerman. They hovered in the shade of a shop doorway so far up the street they probably couldn't hear the remarks of the man who will join Jim Webb in the Senate.
That's Alex with the sign. I can't identify the Republican in lavender

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Paint the Valley Blue

For information and tickets visit Paint the Valley Blue
or email,,
Cross posted at We Will RockDem.

Good Deeds in Staunton

State Senator Creigh Deeds was greeted by over 80 enthusiastic supporters at White Star Tavern for lunch yesterday. The boisterous crowd finally settled down to lunch and to listen to Creigh's talk about the values he brings from his Bath County roots and his answers to questions about transportation, education, gerrymandering, and his goals as governor.
Deeds faces Delegate Brian Moran for the party nomination. Moran, who represents Alexandria/Fairfax leads in early fundraising, partly because of high dollar events in NOVA. Deeds points to his statewide name recognition and service in both houses of the General Assembly as key advantages. He lost the '05 race for attorney general by less than 400 votes although is opponent out-spent him by nearly 2-1. Deeds picked up over $6,000 at this lunch on a sunny summer day in a political season in which voters are more focused on the national election - that ain't chicken feed.
While the crowd was mostly Democratic, there were a number of business and professional men and women you'd see mostly in the GOP flock or as solo birds. At least one high dollar donor to Goodlatte was present. Creigh has always been able to work across party lines and has electoral appeal to many independents and some Republicans. A strong argument for his nomination - that ain't chicken litter.
Coverage in The News Virginian and on NBC29. For some reason The News Leader was a dead duck although their offices were just a short walk away - not uncommon for the unpredictable paper.
Peck. Peck.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

High priced corn

Mark Warner, who is making some stops in the Valley on Thursday, has far out raised and out spent his opponent. Warner has raised a total of about $9.3 million; Jim Gilmore $1.2. At the end of June, Warner has $5.1 million on-hand; Gilmore $111,000. Warner has already spent more than three times the amount Gilmore has raised in total. But, this is still chicken feed compared to what Senate races have cost in other states.
Many Republicans are wondering, as is Larry Sabato of UVA's Center for Politics, "How does he (Gilmore) get through the race?" He doesn't!
Warner released a new ad on energy yesterday which will air on several Virginia media markets, including Roanoke. If it is not in your area, you can see the ad here. Gilmore has jumped on the ad as being vague and that it "muddies" Warner's position on domestic oil drilling. Hey Jim, it is a 30-second ad!
Warner and Gilmore face off in a Virginia Bar Association debate this Sunday at The Homestead in Bath County. A Warner spokesperson said Warner will talk of positive, bipartisan achievements. The Gilmore campaign promised "to smoke him (Warner) out on some of the issues." Watch out Mark, this guy is known for using razor spurs in cockfights!
But, money doesn't vote on Election Day - people do. While I certainly haven't been to all these events, from news coverage Warner seems to be winning the war of meeting people face-to-face. A couple of events in the Valley drew 100-200 people at each. By contrast, when Gilmore traveled the I-81 corridor last week, he stopped at businesses where there was a captive audience of employees. A stop at a Roanoke Valley convenience store appeared sparsely attended - looked like more media than anyone else. There don't seem to be very many, even diehard Republicans, clucking for Gilmore!
Warner makes several Valley stops tomorrow (July 17) starting in Harrisonburg and ending the evening at the Rockbridge County Fair. He stops by the Staunton Performing Arts Center (Dixie Theater) at 3:00 PM to highlight the fine arts. Wonder if a big a flock will turn out?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

No corn ethanol??

No corn ethanol? That is one of the planks in Sam Rasoul's energy platform. Cluck!
Mr. Rasoul held a press conference outside JMU's Integrated Science and Technology Center today. It was a warm and sunny day, so the solar panels in the background were probably working at full capacity. Perhaps 25 or so folks showed up along with the local TV and newspaper. Three candidates for Harrisonburg city council briefly spoke.
If you've scratched around in previous posts, you know CCC likes wind and solar. This bird is also intrigued by T. Boone Pickens' recent ideas. So, what does Mr. Rasoul have in mind?
He began by laying out the problem much as Mr. Pickens has done - in the early 70s we imported about 25% of our oil; today it is almost 70% costing over $33 million per hour. He calls his plan "Zero Petrol by 2050" and suggests a man-on-the-moon commitment from the federal government to make it happen. Good energy policy, he noted, is also good economic policy. Key points he made for the long term:
  • Incentives to the auto industry to encourage hybrid and other efficient vehicles
  • Cellulosic ethanol which is more efficient to produce than corn ethanol and helps hold down the price of coarse cracked corn
  • Government purchasing of fuel efficient vehicles to boost the market and set an exmple
  • Government supported R&D in new technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells.
Rasoul does recognize that in the short term oil will continue to drive our economy. He supports the "Responsible Oil and Gas Lease Act" which pushes companies to begin exploring and drilling on 68 million acres of currently leased federal land. One would think the soaring oil prices would be encouragement enough, assuming there are sufficient oil and gas deposits there.
CCC wishes he'd talked a little more about wind and solar, especially since wind turbines are planned in parts of the 6th District and there were solar panels in the background. Perhaps that will be a greater emphasis as his ideas evolve.
Equally interesting will be watching coverage of this event on TV3 and NBC29 which have only recently begun covering this race. Tomorrow's DNR could also be interesting - but will it be "fair and balanced."

Monday, July 14, 2008


Iochief is a old, standard variety of sweet corn - about 80 days to maturity.
You've seen the news - InBev, the brewer of Becks and 200 national and local beers in over 130 countries, is buying Anheuser-Bush, the largest brewer (about 48% market share) and an icon in the United States. Price - about $52 billion. While this isn't specifically Shenandoah Valley news, it could impact folks across the area - Anheuser-Bush has a brewery and theme park in Williamsburg. InBev says they'll keep the North American breweries operating but there are questions about the commitment to Anheuser-Bush's other operations like parks and philanthropic programs. What about the Budweiser Clydesdales?
So, the "King of Beers" will now be based in Belgium. Guess that is far better than China or Kuwait! It is the third largest takeover of a U.S. company by a foreign firm. The buyout also signals the continuing trend of mega global companies - Anheuser-Bush-InBev will be the fourth largest consumer company in the world. Some of these companies' resources dwarf many national governments and can exert tremendous influence in international politics.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Chicken Little

On July 4 Cliff Garstang from Cobalt6 and an occasional poster here, wrote a letter to the editor of The News Leader in which he advocated moving beyond oil to cleaner and renewable alternate sources. Appropriate that it was published on Independence Day because that is what we are really talking about here - independence from the stranglehold of other nations, from a proven source of pollution and greenhouse gases, and from a drain on family budgets and the national economy alike.
A couple of letter writers responded with the off-repeated right wing mantra of drill more and drill now. The most recent writer by the name of Shawn Allen of Harrisonburg kind of sounded like Chicken Little. He called for drilling in ANWAR and off-shore using the opportunity to endorse Janice Lee Allen (is Shawn family?) for Congress writing that she'd bring "vision and creativity." Since when does more of the same constitute "vision and creativity?" Thinking in the past rather than the future is not the way to solve problems. 
The U.S. is kind of like a junkie with an oil needle deep in a vein. More drilling just keeps up the drip, drip, drip of addiction. Like the old Fram commercial, "you can pay me now, or pay me later." If you've been a reader of CCC you've seen several posts about wind power, especially as it relates to potential wind farms in Highland County and Shenandoah County. While wind turbines present some challenges in some locations, it represents a great opportunity for clean and renewable energy. 
You may have seen recent TV ads by well-known oil man and corporate raider T. Boone Pickens promoting ideas to wean us off petroleum. Mr. Pickens says:
"this is one emergency we can't drill our way out of. But if we create a new renewable energy network, we can break our addiction to foreign oil."
Pickins' believes the estimates of off-shore oil are wildly overestimated. That belief is supported by others and illustrated by the slow pace of the oil industry to explore for oil/gas in 8.3 million acres off the Florida coast that was opened up  in 2006. Guess the Allens missed that one. Cluck!
Pickens' plan calls a dramatic increase in wind and solar to generate electricity. That would free up natural gas that is currently used for electric generation to be converted to compressed natural gas (CNG) to power vehicles. He believes we might replace up to 1/3 of our fleet with CNG powered cars. The technology exists with costs comparable to current gasoline vehicles.
The Pickens' plan has attracted the attention of Carl Pope of the Sierra Club. Now Mr. Pickens and Mr. Pope aren't exactly birds of a feather, but the plan's vision and creativity has them on common ground. Pope notes a government mandate to require distribution of CNG would be necessary to assure nationwide availability (the oil industry would likely resist). Manufacturers would have to make the cars (which having fuel stations available will encourage) and consumers will have to buy the CNG cars or purchase low-cost conversion kits. Perhaps it would be sound policy for some government rebates to help ease the conversion. If we can do it for digital TV we can certainly do it for our nation's energy security.
Perhaps the Pickens' plan has some flaws and I'm sure he's looking to make a profit on his huge wind farm in Texas. There is nothing incompatible about going green and earning profits. But, it represents the kind of original thinking and consensus building necessary to move the United States into a new era of energy independence. As Carl Pope said, 
"To put it plainly, T. Boone Pickens is out to save America."
POLITICAL LEADERSHIP NEEDED: more vision and creativity and less "the sky is falling."
Just added this 11 minute YouTube clip: T. Boone Pickens explains the problem and his plan.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Free Kibble - Free Rice

OK, this post isn't specifically about the Shenandoah Valley or Virginia, but if you love animals, you will find Free Kibble of interest. Started by a 12 year old girl in Oregon, Free Kibble donates pet food to humane shelters. Log-on, answer a daily trivia question, and you've made a donation. You can read more about their mission on the site.
Free Kibble copied the success of Free Rice. Help fight world hunger and get smarter at the same time! Free Rice features a vocabulary quiz which gets progressively more difficult. For each correct answer you donate 20 grains of rice. Now this might not sound like very much, but with its popularity plus the fact that you can play over and over, Free Rice has donated over 38 Billion grains of rice through the U.N. World Food Program. Now, that ain't chicken feed! So, what does budgerigar mean?

Friday, July 11, 2008

The chicken and the pot hole

Every newspaper and state blog is blasting the failure of the General Assembly to find a compromise to fix Virginia's roads. Governor Kaine said it best: "It was like a 'Seinfeld' episode; I mean a show about nothing. In the House, it was a road session about nothing."
Delegate Steve Landes (R-Augusta) said the House of Delegates were called "delegates" because they are supposed to do what the people want. I guess that means the people want nothing done - perhaps so.
Sometimes problems have to get worse before they get better. Such is obviously the case with Virginia's pot holes. By any measure this is a political loss for the governor as well as the state. Guess we'll have to see how it plays out in the '09 elections when all 100 members of the House of Delegates stand for accountability before the voters. My guess is that some GOP delegates, especially from NOVA and Hampton Roads, will have some explaining to do. That's when the chicken will cross the road.
The stalemate on appointments probably works out as win for the governor. The legislature failed to make appointments to the Virginia Supreme Court, several circuit courts, and the State Corporation Commission. Governor Kaine will now make recess appointments that next year's session will have to confirm. Time will tell if House Republicans will kick out a judge who has already been seated.
For now, our political leaders have dropped the basket and broken all the eggs. Cluck.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The answer is blowin' in the wind

Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, of which Shenandoah Valley Electric Co-op is a member, has announced that it signed a long term contract to purchase wind generated power from AES's wind energy project in central Pennsylvania. With wind energy farms on the horizon for Highland Co., Shenandoah Co., and other western Virginia locations this deal could signal commercial viability of this renewable resource. While there are some environmental concerns - mostly issues with bats and migratory birds - wind energy has to be part of a clean and renewable energy future. 
The co-op also plans to purchase power from the Hydro FS hydroelectric project in Alleghany County, Virginia.
This is certainly worth crowing about! Two clucks for ODEC!!
Peck, Peck.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Why didn't the chicken cross the road?

It is very likely the Virginia General Assembly, more specifically the House of Delegates, will drop all the eggs on Virginia's transportation fix. As the Roanoke Times points out, the House GOP will likely block any statewide solution coming to the floor for a vote - except the one with a gas tax increase, figuring they can put the Democrats between a rock and a hard place. Instead the Republicans want some sort of regional solution - but neither NOVA nor Hampton Roads are buying it. Politics as usual. Road needs will continue to be unfunded. The health of Virginia's economy is jeopardized. The chicken wants a good road to cross.
In my cackle of yesterday, I commented on Jim Gilmore's I-81 road trip. Seems Jim is a bit camera shy, perhaps not trusting what he'll say or do (like his buddy George . . . you pick which one). According to a post on Raising Kaine, Gilmore's Gang worked hard to stop a Warner supporter from filming at an event at a Salem convenience store. Maybe denying freedom is a campaign technique of choice for some Republicans.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Goose Egg

Jim Gilmore passed through the Valley yesterday. From the coverage, it looks like he stopped by friendly businesses where he was guaranteed an audience. Few other residents took notice. Although he dubbed this a "working families tour," other than talking about gas prices he really didn't address much of concern to the average families I know.
His main point was off-shore drilling, just the decision to do it, would lower gas prices tomorrow. Apparently Mr. Gilmore is unaware that in 2006 Congress cleared 8.3 million acres 125 miles off the Florida coast for exploration and drilling. The oil companies viewed it as cost prohibitive until the recently. 3-D mapping and other studies will take at least two years and only then will the first hole be drilled, if it is believed to be commercially viable. So, Mr. Gilmore, it is more than a little bit dishonest to suggest a decision today will give give us relief at the pump tomorrow. Election pandering - but cluck, cluck - you are a master at that!
Mr. Gilmore failed to talk about saber rattling on Iran, unbridled speculation, and the weak dollar as causes of increased oil prices. How about raising the margin for speculators? Or making them take at least partial delivery of a futures contract? Perhaps moving toward a balanced budget to help strengthen the dollar (but that might mean spending less in Iraq)?
Mr. Gilmore, next time you come to the Valley, be prepared to talk about all the possible solutions. Guess I'm just crowing in the wind. You will continue to pander. Voters fell for your slogans a few years ago. They won't again.
Fool the voters once, shame on you. This time voters "Won't get fooled again!"

Monday, July 7, 2008

Flew the Coop

Flew the coop for a few days of camping and kayaking on the Shenandoah River. Nice change of scenery and activities. Visited one night by four screech owls who roosted in a tree less than 20 feet above our campsite. Although I hear them often, I only occasionally see an owl and this was the most up close and personal I've ever been with one, not to mention four. They stayed close well into the night.
One early morning while heading out for ice I was scanning AM radio for a weather forecast. Ah, the "soothing" voice of Pat Robertson coming from the cheap speakers in my truck. My "favorite" minister was introducing a tape of a speaker addressing the intentions of the Founding Fathers in creating a Christian nation. The speaker's credentials were "well-established" as holding a bachelors degree from some Bible college and an honorary masters from some seminary. I'd never heard of either institution but if you weren't listening closely, I suppose it sounded great. I'd never heard of him either, which is why, I guess, that I can't remember his name right now.
He began railing against the "secular humanists" and the ACLU who are taking God out of the public square. Giving selected facts from a couple court cases, he clearly was having no trouble working up the friendly audience in whatever venue (it was supposed to be in our heathen capitol, Washington, D.C.) he was speaking. Establishment Clause, Free Exercise, nowhere is "separation of church and state" found in the Constitution . . . . On and on he went in a carefully moderated voice (don't want to sound unreasonable like some fire and brimstone revival preacher) designed to sooth and reassure the listener.
Blessedly, I rounded a mountain and the radio went to static. Punching seek, I quickly found a station with the sought after weather forecast.
I've been reading Jon Meacham's American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation. It is a great refresher course in the role of religion in politics and government as it developed during the colonial period, the Revolutionary War and Declaration of Independence, the drafting of the Constitution and First Amendment, and how religion has been used and abused by presidents and other political and religious leaders. Meacham does a great job with the early history but seems to skim over more recent controversies and extremist uses of religion in the public square.
It is not my intent to rehash American Gospel, but rather to encourage you to give some thought to the proper role of religion in American government and politics as we get deeper in the presidential campaign. Religion will be a factor - both John McCain and Barack Obama spoke to evangelicals over the past weekend. Religious prejudice has entered some blogs commenting on the congressional race in Virginia's 6th District.
It is clear to me that "public religion" has a role in campaigns, political rhetoric, elections, and governing. By public religion I mean the notion of a "Creator" or "Nature's God" as expressed by the deist, Thomas Jefferson, in the Declaration of Independence. Public religion speaks to our fundamental rights and liberties. The term as coined by Ben Franklin and supported by many presidents beginning with George Washington, that held that "religion and morality" were important aspects of society, but did not control it. Public religion is not the same thing as private belief. Public religion unites. Private belief divides.
The past two elections (actually, this has gone on since at least the election of 1800) have seen the corrosive effects of using religion, especially private belief, to divide us, to foster hate, to win elections at the cost of governing a more united American people. We will be far better off by following the excellent advice of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor:
Reasonable minds can disagree about how to apply the Religion Clauses in a given case, but the goal of the Clauses is clear - to carry out the Founder's plan of preserving religious liberty to the fullest extent in a pluralistic society. By enforcing the Clauses, we have kept religion a matter for the individual conscience, not for the prosecutor or bureaucrat. At a time when we see around the world the violent consequences of the assumption of religious authority by government, Americans may count themselves fortunate - our regard for constitutional boundaries has protected us from similar travails, while allowing private religious exercise to flourish.
In spite of what Pat Robertson and others would have you believe, religion is indeed flourishing in our nation. Extreme voices like Robertson would have their private belief trump our public religion.
There will be other extreme voices screaming for attention on talk radio, in blogs, and in commercials between now and November. Some will be brazen, hateful, and easy to spot and debunk. Other messengers will be more subtle, more polished, and spread their disgusting message with a wink and a smile. Whenever and wherever you confront the politics of religious bigotry and extremism speak out to reject the message. This November we should elect candidates based on character, qualification, issues and their ability to bring us together as a people. The Rovian politics of divide and conquer have no place.
Peck, peck.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Valley Omelet

David Bowers was sworn in as Roanoke mayor yesterday, marking a political comeback. He'd served on City Council from 1992 to 2000 and was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for House of Representatives in 1998. The Roanoke Times has more in "Back in the catbird seat."Joining Bowers are three new Democrats who were elected in May: Anita Price, Sherman Lea, and Court Rosen.
It was harmony in the Staunton City Council reorganization which unanimously reelected Lacy King as mayor and also chose Dave Metz vice mayor with only Dickie Bell dissenting. New on the council are Ophie Kier and Andrea Oakes. While city council elections are nonpartisan, Kier got some support from city Democrats while Oakes, who had been vocal about the "porn store," garnered support from many Republicans.
Travel across the county to Waynesboro, and all the hens weren't clucking in unison. They unanimously elected Tim Williams mayor but divided sharply over selection of the vice mayor. The so-called "new majority" of Williams, Frank Lucente, and Bruce Allen elected Lucent as vice mayor with strong dissents from Lorie Smith and Nancy Dowdy. If this "new majority" coalition holds together it will mark changes in Waynesboro's direction. You'll recall that City Manager Douglas Walker was forced to resign after the "new majority" was elected. Most of the talk coming from that trio focuses on cost cutting and changing the priorities of the city. All of them are talking about building "trust," "respect," and "unity." Could be some cracked eggs until they are successful at that.
Cuppa joe? How many Starbucks in the Shenandoah Valley are on the closing list? With an economy squeezing many families in the valley, that home brewed cup looks better all the time. In some towns and cities there seems to be coffee shops everywhere. How many can a market support? Plus, even McDonald's has upscale coffee to go with that Egg McMuffin. Starbucks success brought competition, but thinking they were unstoppable, the company probably grew too fast, too far. I don't give a cluck about the big corporate roosters, but I do feel for the employees who will be losing jobs.
Peck. Peck.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Good eggs - good Deeds

Lost in the General Assembly gridlock over transportation are two bills by Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) that passed the Senate and deserve to pass the House of Delegates. SB 6012 offers tax credits for businesses that provide flex schedules for employees. SB 6013 provides similar credits for businesses that encourage telecommuting. 
Deeds has announced his candidacy for governor and ideas like these illustrate creative approaches that help solve problems. But, will House Republicans want a Democratic gubernatorial candidate taking credit for this legislation? Or in their political calculus will they supports the Deeds' bills figuring Delegate Brian Moran (D-Fairfax) would be the more formidable statewide candidate?
At any rate, the tax credit approach will probably appeal to the anti-taxers in the House of Delegates. Maybe, just maybe, they'll leave partisan politics out of the equation and pass these bills on their merit.