Monday, August 31, 2009

Virginia's Manchurian Candidate

If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you know that there have been about half a dozen posts dating back to March detailing two-faced Bob McDonnell. This right wing fanatic is Virginia's political version of a Manchurian Candidate - a brainwashed sleeper agent wanting to take over state government. No, I don't think McDonnell is an assassin in the usual sense of the word. Instead, he's hidden far right agenda was ingrained in soul, heart, and mind by the likes of Pat Roberstson and friends at CNB (now Regent) University. Taliban Bob's mission was to remake our Commonwealth as a theocracy and, in the process, kill the hopes and dreams of of many Virginians.
In recent years Virginia voters have moved well beyond the radical and failed right wing policies of politicians such as Jim Gilmore (although many of those loony birds hold on in the House of Delegates). Today, Virginia is more moderate, bluer, more tolerant, looking forward to a progressive future. This presented a problem for McDonnell who rose through the Christian conservative faction of the Republican Party on the nurturing knee of the television pastor.
To get elected McDonnell would have to change - make that appear to change - to be more in line with those changes in Virginia. His slick message handlers have used the power of TV propaganda to brand McDonnell as a moderate, almost making him appear and sound like a Mark Warner. Don't buy the lie.
Now in '89 Thesis A Different Side of McDonnell, Amy Gardner of the Washington Post has disclosed his political beginnings and core beliefs:
At age 34, two years before his first election and two decades before he would run for governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell submitted a master's thesis to the evangelical school he was attending in Virginia Beach in which he described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators." He described as "illogical" a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples.
The 93-page document, which is publicly available at the Regent University library, culminates with a 15-point action plan that McDonnell said the Republican Party should follow to protect American families -- a vision that he started to put into action soon after he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.
During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.
You can read the WaPo article here or here and trudge through his entire thesis here.
Even his friends seem to acknowledge the difficult position McDonnell has placed himself in by this unabashed rebranding of his image. Delegate Robert Marshall (R- Pr. William), a right wing political ally, thinks McDonnell has gotten himself between a rock and a hard place - turning off moderates who think he's hiding something and scaring conservatives who fear he has sold them out.
I think most Virginians want a Governor who will talk straight, build bridges with all political persuasions, work hard, and do his best every day in office. We can trust Creigh Deeds to be that kind of leader and Governor. Can we trust Bob McDonnell? Huh - do you really have to ask that question?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wrong bird for the job?

With the midsummer surprise withdrawal of Chris Saxman, the 20th District House of Delegates race suddenly became more competitive and more interesting. An entrenched incumbent had exited and, for the moment, the field belonged to Democratic challenger Erik Curren. The Republicans had to scramble to select a unifying nominee that could keep the GOP leaning district bright red.
Anyone following the subsequent events remembers the much publicized GOP forum held at Buffalo Gap High School on July 27. Although the forum was public, the selection of a pinch hitter was actually made by the local Republican chairs who interviewed candidates (and probably made up their minds) the day before. Those chairs met secretly after the forum and announced they'd picked Staunton City Councilman Dickie Bell.
Now, scratching about in the grist, I'm hearing of a few Republicans who aren't exactly crowing about the nominee and how he's performed in the month following his behind-closed-doors selection.
When you bring up Mr. Bell, one Republican (who didn't attend the forum) questions where he is and what he's been doing since early August. He knows Bell made an appearance at the county fair and a few yard signs have appeared at the usual GOP homes in Staunton, but other than that, little has been seen or heard from the GOP nominee. This person expected Bell to hit the ground running, trying to build name recognition in parts of Augusta and Rockingham counties where he isn't very well known. He has been disappointed that Bell doesn't seem to be working very hard or taking it seriously.
Another very conservative Republican had hoped David Karaffa would get the nod from party leaders. Pointing out how Karaffa organized folks to come to the forum in red shirts, this GOPer noted that Karaffa knows how to motivate the conservative base of the party. What really gets this right winger miffed, is that Karaffa is putting on his own health care town hall and showing the leadership that is apparently lacking in the nominee: "They picked the wrong person for the job. We needed a true conservative. A leader. We didn't get either."
I don't know how widespread these views about Dickie Bell really are among Republicans. Perhaps it is just a few disgruntled folks sounding off to anyone who will listen. But, from my roost, it is very interesting that at least a few birds are straying from what used to be a pretty tight-knit flock.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The more things change

You know the saying, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." If Bob McDonnell sneaks into the Executive Mansion, it will be back to the past.
The GOP gubernatorial candidate has spent six months trying to modify his image. Looking at his ads, one might even think he's a moderate Democrat. But, under the veneer is the heart and soul (soul... really?) of Jim Gilmore. Yep, that same fellow who by broad consensus was one of the worst modern governors of our great Commonwealth, Gilmore crashed the budget during good economic times, was a ultra-partisan forcing legislative gridlock, and pushed a hard right agenda out of touch with most Virginians.
If you listen to Bob McDonnell, you will hear much of the same Gilmoronic budgeting couched in tones you might associate with a smiley face. The most glaring example: bobbing for transportation funding would be easy under his plan - saying a gas tax increase wouldn't work because cars get better MPG (does he think this was a Democratic conspiracy?), he'd "raise" an additional $1.4 billion annually for roads from the state's General Fund.
All sounds good! Painless! Potholes fixed and congestion relieved and we don't have to pay for it. Just a matter of moving a few dollars here and there. Bob... for your next trick, what will it be? Check out the new BobbyMc charge card - it is as good as Virginia's bond rating (yeah, the same bond rating endangered by Gilmore)?
A reality check on Bob's math. Most of that $1.4 billion would come out of public schools, police and sheriff departments, healthcare, fire and rescue services, and other essential services. He'd be robbing Peter to pay Paul (a trick he learned from Jim), drawing off school funding just as the federal stimulus funds (which helped keep most school divisions functioning and solvent) come to an end. He'll smile and reassure us that kids will still learn and police will still come when called. Bob McDonnell is lying.
The world has changed, but Republican campaigns have the same rhetoric. Like his mentor, Jim Gilmore, Bob McDonnell will say about anything and make any hollow promise to win. Virginian's bought Gilmore's big lie and we paid a long hard price for it.
I'm reminded of the Who's, Won't Get Fooled Again:
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again
No, no!
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss
Things change but Republicans haven't. VIRGINIANS WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Follow the money

Who is putting up the big bucks to kill healthcare reform? Who are their allies? Some names won't surprise you. Other names might be new to you. When Rep. Goodlatte holds his town hall meeting on Sept. 5, you can bet Dick Armey, Glenn Beck, Americans for Prosperity, Joe Wierzbicki, and friends will be lurking in the shadows whispering "death panels," "Hitler," and "socialism."
Click here for a large version of the flow chart "Who's Paying to Kill Health Reform?"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Creigh Deeds to Visit the Queen City

Gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds will be in Staunton for two events this week:
  • Thursday, August 27 at 7:00 PM rally in front of Mill Street Grill (in case of rain at Elder Antique Auto).
  • Friday, August 28 at 9:00 AM a media event at Black Dog Bikes on S. Lewis Street.
Please join Creigh at both events!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Good Deeds in Harrisonburg

I went by Court Square in Harrisonburg today to greet Creigh as he passed through Harrisonburg. Good stop, nice crowd pulled together at the last minute. Only downer was... I forgot my camera. Not to worry, TV3 and the DNR were there.
At Old Dominion Coffee Shop, Creigh talked of educational opportunity, creating jobs, the Rockingham County Fair, and his special relationship with Valley folks. After chatting with friends in the crowd, Creigh was escorted by Mayor Kai Degner to local landmark, Jess' Lunch, the Children's Museum, and to several businesses.
Commenting on the explosion of his campaign staff and offices, Creigh told a small group of supporters that during the primary his headquarters was in Charlottesville and he personally knew each and every one of his staff and most of their spouses and family. Over the past few weeks the Deeds campaign has moved the HQ to NOVA, a number of regional offices have opened, and dozens of new staff have been hired. "Now," said Creigh, "at nearly every stop I meet a new person on my payroll."
One local blogger has criticized Deed's for not spending enough time in the Valley, but I guess he hasn't been paying close enough attention. True, Creigh started his Deeds Country Tour in Charlottesville which isn't in the Valley, but it is a quick commute for many. The Deeds Country Homecoming was on the Bath/Highland line, while technically not in the geographic boundaries of the Shenandoah Valley is certainly in the Valley's cultural region. Today Creigh was in Harrisonburg and Sunday he'll be in Lexington, both about as Valley as it gets. There have been other stops in Valley communities, a rumor of a future stop in Staunton, and I predict more will be coming in the next 70 days. So to that critic - instead of squawking like an old hen, perhaps show a little Hospitality in the Valley.

Looking Backward vs Moving Forward

"Virginia's brightest days lie ahead." That will be true if we elect a pro-business leader like Creigh Deeds who pledges to keep the Commonwealth moving forward with policies like those of Mark Warner. The alternative means a return to the failed economic policies of Jim Gilmore and George Bush.
You can meet Virginia's next Governor in Lexington Democratic HQ/Jeff Price Campaign HQ on Sunday, August 23 from 3:30 to 4:15 PM. The HQ is located at 312 S. Main St. RSVP: 540.464.DEMS


Last night the Orange Co. Planning Commission reversed its approval of a special use permit for a Walmart Supercenter near the Wilderness Battlefield. Last month the commission had approved the plan on a 5-4 vote, but that meeting was deemed illegal because of a SNAFU concerning advertising of the public notice. Yesterday's meeting tied 4-4 (two commissioners were absent) which effectively means no approval or recommendation will be sent to the Board of Supervisors.
The Board of Supervisors seems, nevertheless, poised to approve the Walmart proposal since three of its five members have said they support it. But, there is still a chance to sway that vote as the supervisors will hold a public hearing on Monday, September 24.
More about the Planning Commission vote. Additional background info with links to help you get involved. Calling or emailing members of the Board of Supervisors may make a difference!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

That ain't chicken feed

The Virginia General Assembly will hold a special session today to deal with the aftermath of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts that will require Virginia to modify laws so that forensic analysts are available to testify about scientific evidence. The Senate Courts of Justice committee finished work on a bill that requires prosecutors give the defense 28 days notice of intent to use scientific evidence. The defendant would then have 14 days to decide if the analyst will be called into court. The change will place a manpower and cost burden on forensic labs, but that is often the situation when living up to the demands of our Constitution including the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause.
Since that issue is likely resolved, the bigger story today will be Governor Tim Kaine's not-so-surprising announcement that the state's budget shortfall will be in the neighborhood of $1.3 billion. That ain't chicken feed. Kaine has told state agencies to make plans for spending cuts of 5%, 10%, and 15% by early September and those cuts, including elimination of some jobs, will likely roll into effect this fall. House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith and Governor Kaine find themselves in agreement - coming on top of previous budget reductions, these cuts "will be painful." The cumulative shortfall for the two-year budget is $3.7 billion!
Meanwhile, local school officials are saying federal stimulus funds helped them save jobs and programs and budget shortfalls won't be felt in classrooms. That's partly true but it is laced with chicken sh*t. I understand one smaller high school cut 11 sections of classes - and not because of declining enrollment. That translates into larger classes and some courses not be offered. Community colleges are looking at larger classes as well. Superintendents can talk, but talk is cheap. Those cuts will be paid for in the classroom.
Valley Republican delegates are going to push the General Assembly to find funding to reopen the interstate rest areas. They say delaying renovations at DMV headquarters will cover the costs of reopening and running the rest areas. Those renovations may be a wiser investment for long term efficiency of DMV, but they aren't as politically sexy for delegates facing challengers. Isn't it a bit hypocritical for the very delegates who blocked reliable funding for transportation to now be scratching through the grist and pecking at Governor Kaine over the rest areas?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Calling Valley Crackers

Lots of folks in these parts love Rush Limbaugh, Neal Boortz, and other right wing radio and TV talk show clowns. They are pissed that the "liberal" media has been bashing Glenn Beck for some of his recent comments. Stephen Colbert comes to Beck's "defense."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

On recess, Bob?

National and local news is filled with the drama of the town hall meetings on healthcare reform that have been conducted by President Obama and many representatives across the country. Of course, the media is mostly obsessed with the confrontation and emotion that has erupted at some of the meetings and with repeating the outrageous (and deceitful) things some are saying about "death panels" and socialism. Fortunately a few in the media are exposing the orchestrated campaign by the GOP, drug companies, extremist front groups like FreedomWorks that is designed to shout down rational debate rather than seek bipartisan consensus.
With all these town hall meetings going on, I thought Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R) would have conducted several in the 6th District of Virginia. After all, across the mountain in the 5th District, Rep. Tom Perriello (D) has already held eight "Tom in Your Town" meetings and has about a dozen more in the works. Most of those have seen high turnout and each has attracted groups more intent on disruption than discussion. But, at the "Tom in Your Town" in Charlottesville, residents supporting reform equaled the shouters and a good exchange of ideas took place. I suspect the same is true at many other forums around the country, except you'd never know it from our sensationalized main stream media.
So far, Rep. Goodlatte seems to have taken the word "recess" seriously (skipping rope?) and I'm unaware of any town hall meetings conducted in the 6th District. Now comes word that he'll hold some "tele-town halls" and will announce a series of face-to-face town hall meetings soon. But, don't count Goodlatte among those congressmen really seeking honest input and discussion. He's already called the America's Affordable Health Choices Act "misguided" and has repeated the Republican talking points about eliminating waste and fraud in the current system and medical liability reform. My bet is that the congressman's office is already working with extremists like tea party and Americans for Prosperity to make sure he is surrounded by friendly faces and loud shouting to try and drown out supporters of healthcare reform.
So, keep your eyes open for one of Rep. Goodlatte's town hall meetings near your where healthcare will be "discussed." In the meantime, you can call his D.C. office at 202.225.5431 and tell him you want genuine and meaningful healthcare reform. For email and regional office contact info, click here. It only takes a quick read at his website to see Goodlatte's mind is already slammed shut and he'll hop in lockstep with Republican marching orders. But, that doesn't mean rational and thoughtful voices shouldn't be raised in the 6th District.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Backwards Bob

Some Deeds supporters in the Shenandoah Valley are less than happy that Creigh Deeds has told the truth about Bob McDonnell's crusade to ban all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest:
They want to know why bring this hot button issue up now? Why bring it up at all?
Earlier this summer Bob McDonnell spent several hundred thousand dollars on TV ads designed to reshape his image, to rebrand himself, to mislead Virginia voters. In those slick commercials, McDonnell was portrayed as a moderate consensus builder, open to all ideas, and willing to work across party lines. Using shades of blue, Taliban Bob seemingly attempted to paint himself almost as a Democrat. In June, with the Democrats focused on their primary, McDonnell was able to use the power of TV to fabricate an image of him as a moderate that gave him a midsummer bump in some polls.
The reality is, of course, quite different - Bob McDonnell is a hard right Republican with an agenda sharply in contrast to the majority of Virginians and most folks right here in the Shenandoah Valley. McDonnell has again and again introduced legislation to limit and even ban all abortions, including those in the horrible circumstances of rape and incest. Creigh Deeds, the actual common sense moderate in the gubernatorial race, decided to call the weasel out on his misrepresentations on the issue of a woman's right to choose.
Most Virginians support a fair, balanced, and common sense approach to reproductive rights. One that reduces abortion by making education, factual information, and birth control choices available to all women of child bearing age. An approach that ultimately keeps big government out of personal matters and leaves the decision to the woman, her doctor, and her spiritual advisor.
Creigh Deeds will continue calling Bob McDonnell out for speaking out of both sides of his mouth by talking like a moderate in public while preaching to the right wing firebrands in private. For his lies and misrepresentations on a host of other issues - public education, transportation, public safety, jobs, vouchers, and much more.
That's why this issue. That's why now. Taliban Bob had the stage to himself during the campaign's opening act and he put on a good show pretending to be something he isn't. During Act II, Act III, and all the way to Election Day Creigh Deeds, Democrats, and many Republicans will be letting folks know about Bob McDonnell's filthy lies and the man behind the mask.
Sorry if the issue Creigh raised made you a bit uncomfortable. Sorry if it stirs ups the WASPS in the Valley Family Forum. But, it was time to call out Bob McDonnell for saying different things to different audiences. It it time for all Virginians to know the truth about the real Bob McDonnell. What they'll find in his Pat Robertson, Jeff Frederick, Jim Gilmore tainted past, and in his own record, Virginians won't like one bit.

Push Back Payoff

Finally some push back against the crazed mobs that have been storming town hall meetings on health care reform hosted by Democratic senators and representatives. You know the story: opponents of health care reform fill the room carrying signs about "socialism" and more hateful ones depicting Obama as some sort of "Hitler." Shouting out lies about things like "death panels" their tactic has been to misinform, confuse, scare.... and if that doesn't work, to simply shout down any reasonable discussion of the issues. This well orchestrated GOP/insurance industry campaign has dominated the news for the past couple weeks. Reminded this bird of the rude and coarse behavior exhibited at the Augusta Co. reassessment hearing earlier this year.
Last night in Charlottesville, that came to an end. The auditorium was again packed for Rep. Tom Perriello's (D-05) town hall meeting. This time though, the audience included many supporters supporting reform who took to the microphone with reasoned, rational statements. When the realization crept over the mob that other opinions would be heard and the debate would be responsible, respectful, and issues-based they simply walked out. That seemed to verify my contention that opponents of health reform aren't interested in democratic debate, consensus building, and compromise - they want it their way or no way and they want to defeat anything they see as part of the "Obama agenda."
Lesson of the story: If supporters of health care reform want to be successful we will have to respectfully but forcefully push back at the town hall meetings citing facts, truths, and turning out in sufficient numbers so as to not be intimidated and shouted down. We can also:
  • Call or email our senators and representatives;
  • Write letters to the editor;
  • Post on blogs;
  • Talk to friends and family.
Video of the Charlottesville town hall meeting on NBC29.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hazy, Lazy and HOT

Spent most of the past week out of the online loop. Let's just say the South Fork of the Shenandoah, a tent, short hikes, and cookin' over a campfire were more of a priority than the internet, politics, or other manmade distractions. Quiet reading time too - currently it is Shadow Country, a sprawling, detailed, and engaging portrait of Edgar Watson and the wild country of southwest Florida islands some 100 years ago. Continuing with more of the same today, which promises to be the first of several hot ones, that will feel even hotter since we're haven't been acclimated by many 90° days this summer.
Hits on the campfire/grill culinary scene included beer butt chicken and and an easy peach cobbler in the dutch oven. I'll leave it to you to explore beer butt chicken recipes that stroke your taste buds, but if you like moist bird on the grill, it is the way to go. Oh, many of the recipes say to "pour out 1/2 a can of beer and discard." I'd never be so wasteful!
You can find a bunch of cobbler recipes - one of the easiest and tastiest things to make in a dutch oven. I kind of made one up using ingredients from several different recipes:
  • 2 30 oz. cans peaches
  • 1/3 cup tapioca
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • cinnamon
  • 3/4 can Sprite or 7 Up
  • butter
Place oven on about 15 briquettes or coals. Dump peaches with syrup in dutch oven and stir in tapioca. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Stir soda into cake mix along with cinnamon to taste. Top with 5-6 small pats of butter. Put top on and spread 10 briquettes or coals evenly across top. Bake about 45 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Remember to clean the oven properly - no soap - dry well, lightly oil, and store with lid slightly ajar in a dry place. For stubborn baked on sugars of the cobbler, put several cups of water (never put cold water in hot oven) in oven with coals above and below and allow to steam for 20-30 minutes.
About the only news I've followed this week, perhaps because I talked with a participant, were the mobs that are trying to shout down discussion of health reform and energy legislation, such as the one Congressman Periello conducted one this week. The fellow I talked to seemed nice enough until he brought those topics came up. Then he went red hot like bacon grease poured on a campfire. Many of his arguments were just plain wrong and meant to enflame - for example, old folks will be put to death like in dictatorships.
He let slip a few things that made it clear this, like the tea parties, is more of a top-down manipulation of people's frustrations and emotions than it is any grassroots movement. In his words were anger at the economy (but no blame for Bush) and more than one hint of vile racism. Guess that's some of what the estimated $150 million the drug companies are spending in opposition will buy. Helped by GOP orchestration with an assist by Fox News. Aided and abetted by pandering narcissists like Sarah Palin.
Like that bacon grease on the fire, I predict this fellow and the current "movement" will flame out. But, as with a campfire, there will be heat long hidden by the ash, ready to reignite when the GOP and their allies toss more grease laced with lies on it. The politics of polarization and hate - I fear it will be a while before those embers finally die. Keep the water pail handy. In the meantime, back to the cool waters of the river.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Take Six

There is a bit of a lull in the Wilderness Battlefield - Walmart controversy because of a SNAFU in notice about the public hearing. Now there is a proposal by preservationists for a study to search for alternative sites. Some on the Orange County Board of Supervisors are resisting. But, the study would be funded by private money, not tax dollars, and would only take six months.
Six months seems like a reasonable time to take a second look before consigning a piece of American history to the bulldozer, bricks, and shopping carts. Let the Orange County Board of Supervisors know what you think - tell them to "Take Six."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Welcome to Deeds Country

Welcome to Bath County - Deeds County!
This November all of Virginia will be DEEDS COUNRY.