Friday, March 30, 2012

The Final Chapter in the Pro-Life Debate

As an appropriate bookend to the latest round of debate over the beginning of life, there have been several stories lately about suicide by elderly couples, showing how decisions made at the end of life can be just as controversial as those at the beginning.  It also reminds us of the overreach of government, particularly by social “conservatives,” when it comes to our inevitable exit.

We all remember the Terry Schiavo case, and I won’t rehash the antics of mindless pro-lifers in Florida.  However, I hope you will recall also the Virginia equivalent to Schiavo (actually a predecessor) in which former Governor Jim Gilmore sought to force a wife to keep her brain-dead husband on life support, and then refused to pay her attorneys fees when she fought back and won.  I have never forgiven him for that disgusting, patronizing arrogance, and it’s exactly why I didn’t vote for him when he ran for Senate in 2010.  (Editorial Note:  The War Department has my advanced medical directive saying pull the plug.  And, boy, she just can’t wait for the opportunity).

In a slightly different vein are the assisted suicide cases.  As I mentioned above, and reminiscent of Jack Kevorkian’s escapades in the 1990s, several sets of elderly people decided to end their lives together and on their terms, including an elderly couple in San Diego who used a commercially available suicide kit.  The reason for their suicide wasn’t reported, but it really doesn’t matter either.  It’s their business.  Our role as a society is to encourage them to live and to help make their lives worth living, but, in the end, the decision to check out is theirs’ alone.

Putting aside all that, I’ll be so bold as to offer a practice pointer for a fulfilling life:  realize that, if you’re lucky, you have about 80 good years in you – and then work backward from there.  Figure out where you want to be at the end, what you want to achieve, what your priorities are, and plan accordingly.  Along those lines, I’m reminded of George Eastman, the inventor of roll film and founder of Eastman Kodak.  After achieving incredible success in his personal and professional life, then suffering from a painful degenerative spinal condition that he had seen consume his mother, he committed suicide.  He left a note that read, “To my friends: my work is done.  Why wait?”

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back to Richmond . . .

. . . the House of Delegates rejects the Senate’s budget amendments.

Good for them!  Glad to see the House Republicans holding the line on the Senate Dems’ extortionist spending add-ons, though, of course, the Dems will now try to paint them as the obstructionists.

That said, my guess is that a compromised budget will be worked out relatively quickly.  Why do I think that?  Simply put, these guys (and gals) have other things to do.  Like their real jobs.  Thank goodness for a part-time legislature.   Even with the occasional distraction of divisive social issues, the limited nature of the General Assembly really does force efficient use of the legislators’ time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What a Difference a Republican School Board Makes

Remember last year when, after going to far as to close school for a few days because it was short on funding, the Loudoun County School Board came up with a $8.5 million surplus and didn’t know what to do with it?  Instead of simply giving it back to the County, it decided, over heated disagreement with the Board of Supervisors, to spend $4 million of it on electronic blackboards.

Well, this Board has found $11.6 million between the cushions.  This time, though, instead of spending it on something like espresso makers in the classroom or Ipads for custodians, it’s turning it all over to the County.
Isn’t that the way things are supposed to work?

Monday, March 26, 2012

LCDC Takes a Swing at Delgaudio – and Misses

Evan Macbeth, the newly minted chairman of the Loudoun County Democratic Committee, leads off his administration with a  call for Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio to resign following a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center that called Delgaudio’s Public Advocate of the United
States . . . a hate group.  [Dramatic "daa daa daaa" here]

Swing and a miss for Macbeth.  Not that Delgaudio deserves any slack, but, if you’ve ever read a paper or a blog in this town, you’d know (quite well) that Public Advocate is, and has been, about as anti-homosexual as they come.

The Dems will have to do a heck of a lot better than just relaying the scorn of some leftist group from Montgomery, Alabama if they ever expect to take out Eugene.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sports DO Matter – And That’s a Good Thing

It’s been said that the Sports page is so popular because that’s where the good news is (that is, of course, outside Washington).  As opposed to the rest of the paper that dwells on shortcomings and controversy, the Sports section celebrates accomplishment.  Moreover, it satisfies an instinctual craving for competition and for victory, and provides daily proof of the reward for dedication and hard work.  True, there are plenty of scandals and controversy in sports, too, but they generally involve cheating of some sort, showing that even in scandal, sports can teach us all a lesson about fair play.

Perhaps sports shouldn’t be the multi-billion dollar industry that it has become over the last century, but the fact remains that people do care, and care very much, about the results of these contests.  As I said above, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  So, as you become absorbed by a bunch of boys throwing an orange ball through an 18-inch ring, don’t be ashamed.  Just sit back, crack open a cold one and revel in your humanity.

Friday, March 16, 2012

2012 General Assembly’s Greatest Achievements

What were they?  To be honest, in all the commotion over the 2% of the bills that dealt with social issues, I’ve lost track of any real accomplishments in the other 98%.  Let’s see.  . . .
  • No party registration legislation, but we did get a tighter voter ID.  I guess that’s good, but it’s not that impressive.
  • No major transportation bills of which I’m aware.
  • No meaningful business-generating or tax-lowering legislation of which I’m ware.
  • (For the love of God, don’t bring up the ultrasound bill again)
UPDATED: Here is what the Post came up with, but not much really moving me.
Please, someone, just tell me something good.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Loudoun County Government Reform Commission recently trotted out its “to do” list, which is an odd mix of both the impossible and the immaterial.

On the one hand, it sets broad, lofty goals such as fundamentally changing the police and fire services, restructuring the roles of the County treasurer and commissioner of revenue and staggering the terms of supervisors.  On the other hand, though, it dives into minutia such as whether to change “the current treatment of bed and breakfasts” for planning and zoning purposes.

There are a few that are in the middle, like exploring alternative means of measuring the effectiveness of government programs and the consolidation of land acquisition duties and responsibilities.
All in all, I still think the commission’s efforts will yield virtually nothing of substance, and the agenda just proves my point.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pipe Bombs in Sugarland Run

For the second time in a month(story about the first time here), police have responded to pipe bombs under the bridge over Sugarland Run at Algonkian Parkway after residents on Tuesday night heard what sounded like explosions.

I want to think it’s just kids messing around, and that is what I thought the first time.  But you’d think that, after the first incident, they would have moved on.  Unfortunately, it’s beginning to seem like something more serious.

UPDATED.  The daily crime report includes a call responding to a loud boom, but despite a canine unit and another eight or nine responding units, nothing was found.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Virginia is Not for Child Molesters

The General Assembly recently passed a bill that would mandate a life sentence for anyone convicted of raping a child under the age of 13.  Although existing law permits the imposition of a life sentence for such heinous crimes, the life sentence was imposed in only 10 of the last 215 convictions according to the bill's impact statement.

The punishment initially may appear disproportionate relative to the punishment meted out for other criminal acts.  However, this is not a matter of the appropriate punishment as much as one of true public safety.  Simply put, that brand of deviate is not likely ever to be rehabilitated, and I’m certainly not willing to risk my children’s safety to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I have no problem taking them out of my neighborhood forever.

The bill was patroned by Del. Rob Bell who also patroned several other sex crime bills including a minimum 20 year sentence for distribution of child pornography.  As you likely know, Bell is running for attorney general.  He's definitely building his "law and order" resume here.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Where Villains Are Made: Proposed DARE Cut Highlights Tough Choices Ahead

Eliminating wasteful, unproductive government programs is always good for a press release, but cuts like those (and the positive press that goes with them) can only go so far.  If one really is to make a difference in a bloated budget, he has to be willing to not just trim the fat, but cut some meat, too.  The resulting heated criticism, my friends, is the political furnace that tests one’s fiscal and political courage, and it is from which emerges the true “budget hero.”  Of course, the budget’s hero is the public’s villain.

Supervisor Delgaudio’s proposed termination of the DARE program demonstrates the challenge of unpopular cuts.  Facing opposition from the sheriff and others, Supervisors Ken Reid and Delgaudio offered an amended proposal that would have resulted in a marked reduction in the program itself, but ultimately no reduction in spending.  I’m not saying that DARE should or should not be cut, but the debate (and the result here) show the tough choices that lie ahead, as well as the apparent lack of resolve from even the most fiscally conservatives members of the board.

Representatives at any level holding budgetary responsibilities must be willing to risk being vilified - if they hold to their conservative principles, it’s virtually certain they will be.  Cuts in education, seniors programs, drug programs, transportation programs and the like always draws wild opposition, and much of it justified.  Crowded classrooms and crowded roads are legitimate gripes.  If a representative is serious about controlling taxes and spending, however, he must realize that his decisions and he personally, will be unpopular.

Lest you pity the representatives, think again.  Remember, this is just what these conservatives were elected to do.

Friday, March 9, 2012

When Worlds Collide: Political Bloggers and the Main Stream Media

As much as political bloggers criticize the media for its disingenuous denial of bias and the media belittles bloggers for their blatantly irresponsible bias, a more symbiotic relationship between the two clearly is developing.  Whether it’s due to cutbacks at the papers or the rising prominence of blogs, a new informational dynamic has emerged.

Obviously, bloggers get a great deal of their base information from media reporting.  For me, WaPo’s Anita Kumar’s micro-reporting of Virginia politics has been a very good (and dare I say unbiased?) source of information as has  Tom Jackman’s “State of NoVa” - which is reporting but mixed with a fair amount of blog-like opinion.  (Editorial Note: I realize saying anything positive about the Post likely will result in a public stoning on a soccer field, but so be it)

On the other side of the coin, the MSM is beginning to recognize the relevance of blogs, even local ones.  WaPo and RTD, for example, even go so far as to list lil’ ol’ on their websites.  More than that, though, the MSM is getting its information from the blogs.  You may recall the attention this blog received from Fox News last fall in Loudoun Insider’s post on the Obamazombie.  More recently, Richmonder broke a story about the SWAT team patrolling the abortion protesters around the capitol.  Even bigger than those stories, though, Liz Miller, Lowell Feld and I were recently quoted in Northern Virginia magazine on our opinions on the Republican pledge (note sarcasm here).

It all goes to show that the two feed on each other, and, together, they provide the public with a pretty complete picture of the political scene, especially the local political scene that’s often overlooked by the press.  MSM generally is heavier on facts; blogs heavier on opinion.  Each has its place in the ever democratizing “fourth estate.”

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Am I Even a Republican Anymore?

All this clamor about how this site is really not a “Republican Viewpoint” had me thinking: am I a Republican?

Well, let’s start with the creed of the Republican Party of Virginia as the baseline (with my notes in parentheses)

We Believe:

  • That the free enterprise system is the most productive supplier of human needs and economic justice, (100% agree – like I’ve said before, greed is good)
  • That all individuals are entitled to equal rights, justice, and opportunities and should assume their responsibilities as citizens in a free society, (100% agree)
  • That fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints must be exercised at all levels of government, (100% agree. Debt bad. Taxes bad. Got it.)
  • That the Federal Government must preserve individual liberty by observing Constitutional limitations, (100% agree. The Feds are bound by the Constitution. Guess that would also include individual liberty in matters of the most personal in nature, like, oh say, matters of life and death. Wouldn’t it?)
  • That peace is best preserved through a strong national defense, (Got it. “Peace through Strength” – shouted it at Mondale as we heckled him off stage at a college function in 1984)
  • That faith in God, as recognized by our Founding Fathers is essential to the moral fiber of the Nation. (Hmmm. Not sure what that has to do with political beliefs, but I don’t disagree with the statement. I don’t read it as saying that you have to believe in God to be a Republican; just that belief in God supports morality. Got it. Fine with that.)

Seems I’m in agreement with each phrase of the creed, yet, somehow, I’m still called a liberal, progressive Democrat. Could it be something in my past? Let’s see. (insert wavy “flash back” screen shot here)

  •  Contributed thousands of dollars to Republican candidates, causes and PACs  
  • Spent thousands of hours on campaigns for Republican candidates and causes (both paid and unpaid)  
  • Have declared myself Republican ever since I could pronounce the word  
  • Got drunk (underage) at Ronald Reagan’s victory party in ’84  
  • Named my dog “George W.”  
Still nothing there. Hmmm. Wait! It must be the positions I’ve taken on controversial and sensitive issues that have not just divided the party, but the entire nation. Yes! That must be it! You see, I recently took a position not at all popular with more rabid Republican base: I chose Mary Ann.

I stand by my choice proudly, and I’m not going to change it just because some party hacks tell me that I couldn’t possibly be a good Republican with that view. The sparkle in her eye, the Kansas charm, the cocoanut cream pies. There’s really no comparison – she’s clearly superior to the plastic Hollywood types, regardless of what right-wing Republicans may say. Yes, Ginger has her positives, and I even gave thought to the dark-horse, third party candidate Mrs. Howell. In the end, though, I chose Mary Ann. While not always a popular decision, it does not make me any less Republican.


Indeed, there’s nothing in the Creed that says I must chose Ginger, this being such a very personal decision and all. I still believe in all those Republican principals even though I disagree with some other Republicans on this one monumental issue. Therefore, I call myself a Republican, and will continue to call myself a Republican, because it is still the party that most closely represents my own political views (the Mary Ann vs. Ginger issue notwithstanding). If someone doesn’t like it, that’s his problem. Frankly, I could not care less about the labels anyone gives me.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

If Fairfax Gets by on $1.08, Why Can’t Loudoun?

Fairfax County’s residential real property tax rate for 2013 is likely going to be $1.08 per $1,000 of assessed value. On the other hand, the Loudoun rate currenlty being discussed is $1.28. How is it that the tax rate, just one county over and, admittedly, with higher ranked schools, is 16% less? What’s more, the $1.08 rate is an INCREASE over last year’s rate, and they don’t have a meals tax, either.

Loudoun hasn’t always paid for than its sister county. Look here for a comparison of rates in northern Virginia counties and cities over the past 25 years. It wasn’t until 2005 that Loudoun property tax rates began to exceed those of Fairfax. Since then, the disparity has just grown greater and greater.

I just don’t get it. Honestly, I don’t.

As I’ve said before, “MAKE MINE $1.09!”

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Romney Wins VA — With 5% Voter Turnout

Can you believe that only 5% of registered voters turned out to vote in a presidential primary?

Granted, only one party had a candidate to elect, and there wasn’t much of a contest there, but still five percent?! Even if the state were divided 50-50 Dems and Reps and all the Dems stayed home, that still means that only 10 percent of Republicans came out. Regardless, it was drastically lower than in years past.

Locally, the turnout was also around five percent and Mitt Romney rolled as expected, garnering 10,807 votes in a county with more than 176,000 voters. In my precinct, there was a whopping 179 votes cast. It must have been a long, boring day for the poor poll workers. They must have felt like the Maytag repair man. Or Dave Albo.

As much as I like low voter turnout, I’m still a bit surprised, if not somehow troubled, about this. Ahh. I’ll get over it. After all, I did pick the winner.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Was the Sun in His Eyes?

The General Assembly this week approved a bill that would allow homeowners to install solar panels on their homes despite the express terms of the contracts they entered into with other homeowners when they bought their houses (aka the HOA bylaws). In addition to abrogating these contracts among homeowners, the bill is completely antithetical to the idea of majority rule. Simply put, HOAs shouldn’t be forced to allow these panels, or any such aesthetic monstrosity, if the majority considers the aesthetic or economic impact unacceptable. Glad to see that Dels. Tom Rust and Joe May opposed it, albeit unsuccessfully.

On the Senate side, Sen. Dick Black voted against it, too, though his recorded vote was a little funny: “Senator Black stated that he voted yea on the question of the passage of S.B. 627, whereas he intended to vote nay.”

Must have been that glare off Chap Petersen’s 30′ x 30′ solar panel that caused him to hit the wrong button.

Friday, March 2, 2012

On the Senate Budget Broohaha

On the one hand, the Senate Republicans kind of brought this on themselves. From the beginning of the session, they recognized, as well as did the Democrats, that the lieutenant governor had no authority to vote on tied budget bills even if he could otherwise break ties on procedural votes. Thus, the Republicans effectively mortgaged the budget bill in order to control the Senate until such time. Well, the day of reckoning has come.

That said, the Dems are behaving like a petulant five-year old holding his breath. Their obstinance has nothing to do with the merits of the legislation; it’s all, quite admittedly, just a power grab. In the end, they’ll have to breathe (not sure they realize that).

Partisanship at its worst – and both sides are to blame. Simply disgusting.

To Rejoin or Not to Rejoin. Is It Really a Question?

After virtually every Loudoun County Republican Committee meeting, I’d come home and regale the War Department with stories of the ridiculous childishness and self-importance that had dominated the meeting. Every time, I’d get, in a genuinely perplexed kind of tone, “Then why do you keep going to those things?”

The answer I’ve given lately is that the LCRC meeting are always good for a snarky blog post or two. Beyond that, however, I’ve had a difficult time finding where the two hours I’d spend there actually made my life, or the lives of others, any better. And when I consider the time away from the Nukes (and the price I pay for that), it becomes even more difficult to justify.

As such, when I received the email yesterday announcing the LCRC’s annual meeting where I’d have to renew my membership, I had to pause and really give it some thought. As has been written elsewhere, the pettiness and sheer insanity of the organization has become just mind-bottling (yes, bottling).

All that makes me think that, perhaps, it’s time to pass on the meetings and just go straight to the big kids’ table at Tuskies for a few beers instead.

Virginia Supreme Court Slams the Door on Cuccinelli’s UVA Climate Change Investigation

As reported in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Virginia Supreme Court today rebuffed Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s civil investigative demands for documents related to grants a UVA professor receive to study global warming. On the technical side, the court ruled that the university is not “a person” under the specific law by which he sought to obtain the information.

Hmm. Maybe Del. Bob Marshall’s “personhood” bill should be amended to include universities as well as zygotes.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fear Big Government? Fear the Little Governments More.

Every day there’s a story where a Republican somewhere bemoans the encroachment of the federal government to the detriment of the rights of the states and the individual. And while the encroachment of government on the rights of the governed is indeed a legitimate concern, one must understand that the far, far greater threat to our liberty is at the state and local level.  Below are three reasons why.