Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Relocated

The Virginia Progressive has relocated to virginiaprogressive.org.

Please update your bookmarks and/or links.


Thank you!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Exurban Battles Brew in Virginia

Karl Rove loves the exurbs. The supposed mastermind of President Bush's victory decided long before November's election that these rapidly-expanding communities contained the ever-elusive persuadable voters that would keep Bush in the White House.

The term exurb was first used in the 1950's to describe the sleepy, rural communities that existed beyond the confines of the traditional suburbs. New highways and the increasingly-popular automobile allowed workers to venture outside the regional cores of America's metropolises. And venture they did.

The exurbs of today are no longer sleepy, nor are they rural. They have become, instead, destinations in and of themselves, with vast office parks and shopping malls punctuating the seemingly endless sprawl. It is here that Karl Rove sought and found his persuadable voters. And it is here that the battle for Virginia's legislature is taking place.

A handful of high-powered incumbents face serious challenges in the exurbs of Northern Virginia. John Kerry narrowly won Fairfax County, the inner-most exurb, and the race to watch there is between Republican incumbent Dave Albo and Democratic newcomer Greg Werkheiser in the 42nd district.

Albo is a life-long resident of the district who cites cutting taxes and punishing criminals as his priorities. He recently, however, caused some controversy by proposing legislation that would reduce the penalty for child molesters. Werkheiser is considered by many to be a rising star in Virginia politics. He is a co- founder of the Virginia Citizenship Institute and has written speeches for both President Bill Clinton and Governor Mark Warner.

Werkheiser has taken an early lead in fundraising by amassing $81,000 during the last period, while Albo managed just $68,000. Werkheiser is sure to extend that lead between now and February 26, the date when Albo, currently in Richmond for the bi-annual session, can legally commence fundraising.

The Republican party has dominated Prince William County, an outer exurb, for as long as most can remember, but Democrats hope that rapidly shifting demographics brought about by an influx of new immigrants will work in their favor.

At the eastern end of the county, Republican incumbent Jeff Frederick, a political consultant, faces Democrat Matt Harrisonr, a management and information technology consultant in the 52nd district. Harrison has raised $36,000 and Frederick has raised $107,000. .

Republican Bob Marshall faces a vigorous challenge from retired fire fighter and Vietnam veteran Bruce Roemmelt in the 13th district. Roemmelt will surely attempt to point out Marshall's conservative social views and his inability to relieve the area's ever-worsening traffic. Marshall has raised just $24,000, a relatively low figure for an incumbent.
(fundraising data courtesy of Virginia Public Access Project)

Cross-posted at Political State Report

Monday, January 24, 2005

Southside University Update

The Daily Press has a comprehensive article describing the proposal to create a new university in the town of Martinsville. Interestingly, a community foundation, flush with $200 million from the sale of a local hospital, has pledged $50 million to the construction and maintenance of the new college.

The "New College of Virginia" they have proposed would let traditional, college-age students and older people with work force experience earn a bachelor's degree in only 28 months.


Longwood and Old Dominion Universities have offered a counter-proposal that would expand partnerships in the area by building on the successful "branch campuses" idea utilized in other regions of the state. This proposal would cost $4.9 million per year, while the "New College" would cost $9 million.

The State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SHEV) refused to endorse the "New College" plan, claiming that more time (and money) should be taken to study the idea. As Will Vehrs pointed out recently at PolState, there are two groups here: the "let's do it group" and the "let's study it to death like we always do in Virginia."

I'm a member of the first group, but something tells me I'll end up being disappointed. Oh well, wouldn't be the first time.


The Birth Control Fight


Republican State Senators, led by Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis, want to limit the rights of Virginia's families to use safe and effective means of birth control. (courtesy of Maura from DFV)

Maura points out that Delegate Dick Black (R-Loudon) believes that contraceptives are really
"baby pesticides" and that Delegate Bob Marshall (D-Manassas) wants to ban access to contraception for victims of statutory rape.

This fight is not only about the rights of women -- it is about the rights of families. Real
family values are values that allow Virginia's families to make responsible family planning decisions in private, without interference from Dick Black, Bob Marshall, or the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Interesting Things

First, I should apologize for the recent lack of posts. My internet has been acting up lately -- thanks Comcast!. Anyway, here are a few things that I find interesting.

Waldo has a joke.

Albo doesn't like bats.

Dictionary.com???? Is that an approved MLA source?? Apparently not.

"This is one of the most intellectually gifted presidents we've had." -- Karl Rove (courtesy of WaPost)

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Werkheiser Outpaces Albo

Democrat Greg Werkheiser has raised nearly $90,000 dollars thus far, significantly more than Republican incumbent Dave Albo. (courtesy of GOTV)

The 42nd District comprises the southern tip of Fairfax County. This is an important race: the 42nd is a swing district, Werkheiser is a great candidate, and Albo seems a bit hapless. If you're considering a donation of time or money to a NOVA candidate, Greg Werkheiser is probably a good choice.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Warner Watch

The Daily Press hints that Governor Mark Warner will forego a tough 2006 battle with Senator George Allen in favor of a 2008 Presidential bid.

As I've said before, I think this is the right move.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Falwell for Gay Rights???

A resourceful e-mailer recently informed me that none other than the "Reverend" Jerry Falwell recently informed the Roanoke Times of his support for the civil/contractual rights of the gay community. Unfortunately, the link is now dead, but this snippet is quoted verbatim from the story:

He [Falwell] insists that people who support such initiatives [against gay marriage] "are not homophobes. They just believe the family is the family." Gays should be protected from discrimination in housing and employment, Falwell said, but "most Americans ... don't want government saying gay marriage is OK. That's against physiology, against common sense, and for Christians, against the Bible.

Falwell appears to be in disagreement with Delegate Robert Marshall (R-Prince William) and other anti-family Virginia Republicans who seek to strip citizens of contractual rights.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Rise of the Democratic Blogosphere

"I've elected to withdraw HB 1677 from consideration by the General Assembly this year. The language is just too confusing," Del. John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake. ('>Augusta Free Press)

The Virginia blogosphere achieved its first concrete victory this week when it convinced Del. John Cosgrove to withdraw HB'>HB 1677, a bill requiring mothers to report fetal deaths to the police within 12 hours of delivery or face misdemeanor charges. Much of the credit should go to Maura, a poster on the Democracy for Virginia website, who began the firestorm by writing a detailed and passionate description of her opposition to the bill.

News of the proposed legislation spread quickly, generating over 40,000 hits on the DFV website and reaching over 1,000 blogs. Del. Cosgrove found himself buried beneath a deluge of e-mails from many who feared that his bill would require a physically and psychologically injured mother to report a miscarriage to the police within 12 hours.

Cosgrove responded by pointing out that the legislation was intended to prevent abandoned-baby incidents, which have apparently become disturbingly prevalent. It did not, he asserted, even mention the word "miscarriage" and was never intended for such situations. Bloggers fired back by pointing out that the Code of Virginia defines a miscarriage, but not the death of a newborn, as a "fetal death."

Therefore, it would seem, Cosgrov'ss legislation did in fact apply to miscarriages. Finally conceding that his bill's language "was just too confusing," Cosgrove withdrew it from consideration.

The Virginia Pilot commented'>commented on the story and made this observation: "A lot of the bloggers are morons, but a lot are savvy, dedicated, and on target."

For the first time in the history of Virginia politics, bloggers have made a substantial impact on public policy. There is now a committed corps of Democratic bloggers in the Commonwealth dedicated to voicing their beliefs and shaping the public debate.

Those bloggers are beginning to recognize their collective power and will undoubtedly seek to exercise that power in the upcoming elections.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

State of the Commonwealth Round-Up

WaPo

WashTimes

Times-Dispatch

In his opening-night speech to the General Assembly, the Democrat sometimes dabbled in revisionist history and, for example, generally glossed over last year's pitched battles with Republicans that eventually produced his signature achievement: a $1.4 billion package of tax increases.

Daily Progress

“I thought he gave a very Republican speech tonight,” said Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, a GOP candidate for governor. “He talked about tax cuts, torte reform, a commitment to public safety and reforming VDOT. “I think it’s a start in the right direction,” Kilgore said. “It was good to talk about so many of the issues that you’d expect to hear from a Republican governor.”

Virginia Pilot

Speaking to the jointly convened Senate and House of Delegates, Warner sought to soothe raw emotions left over from last year when the two chambers angrily disagreed on the size and scope of tax cuts, forcing the Assembly to remain in session an unprecedented two months past its scheduled adjournment. Lawmakers finally agreed on a record $1.4 billion increase.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Polstate.com

Check out this discussion of Virginia's transportation issues on PolState.

Note: The Virginia Progressive will begin contributing to PolState sometime in the very near future.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Help Tim Kaine!

A poster at MyDD has written a diary asking the blogosphere to make last-minute donations to Tim Kaine before Wednesday's deadline.

Get over there and RECOMMEND this diary. Let's keep it up on the front page until Wednesday and do our small part to elect Tim Kaine!

Upcoming Events

The time for action is NOW. Here's a list of upcoming progressive events in VA. Find one near you. Attend.


ADA Counter-Inagaural

Join us for an evening of fun with like-minded individuals at Americans forDemocratic Action's Counter-Inaugural Gala:
Where:The Washington Court Hotel Grand Ballroom525 New Jersey Avenue, NWWashington, DC 20001
When:Thursday, January 20, 20057pm to Midnight
Featuring live music from the Oxymorons, a performance by Billionaires forBush, no-host bar and hors d'oeuvres.$50 per person.
Visit www.adaction.org/CounterInaugural.pdf for moreinformation or to order tickets. You can also register by phone at202-785-5980. Ask for Andrea.

VA Grassroots Meeting

Tuesday, January 11th, 7p--9p, Virginia Grassroots Coalition Meeting at Capitol City Brewing in Shirlington -- 2700 South Quincy St, in Arlington. Look for the beginning of the November 2005 campaign season as we're ahead of the General Assembly opening on 1/15. Progressive candidates have an open invitation to come chat with the group. We'll also be screening the new George Lakoff DVD on framing -
http://www.buzzflash.com/premiums/04/11/pre04069.html No need to RSVP but do email in advance if you want to get onto the agenda for the evening. eric@vagrassroots.org
METRO ACCESS!!! -- We did the research and it's an easy 10 minute bus trip on the 7E line from Pentagon to Shirlington. Buses leave the Pentagon bus terminal (South side of the Pentagon) every 20 minutes. 23A bus from the Arlington metro corridor also works. 23A is a 20 minute trip from Ballston metro.


DontAmend.com Meeting

Tuesday, January 11 at 7 pm, Planning meeting for the DontAmend.com-DC/MD/VA February Equal Marriage Rally! -- We will work for equal rights for LGBT people in the DC, Maryland and Virginia area. The meeting is open to all people who care about equality and justice. The meeting will take place at the Chapin-Smith residence in Takoma Park, near the Metro. Email Jen Chapin Harris for RSVPs, meeting address, or questions -
jench1977@hotmail.com

Equality Virginia Lobby Day

Thursday, January 13th, Equality Virginia's Lobby day in Richmond -- Go if you can. There's NO substitute for actual people in attendance. There are buses going down from NoVA.
Details and registration at -
http://www.equalityvirginia.org

If you know of or are organizing another event in the coming week, feel free to post an announcement in the comments section or send me an e-mail and I will add it to the original post.

Moran Backs Social Security

Northern Virginia Congressman Jim Moran is now officially OUT of the faint-hearted faction. A recent constituent letter asserts his complete opposition to President Bush's radical plan to replace social security with private accounts.

Information to date suggests that the reform proposal supported by the President would finace ISA's [i.e., private accounts] by diverting a portion of the payroll taxes now paid into Social Security. I will oppose any such plan and encourage my colleagues to do the same.


The good guys have won this battle, but the fight to preserve Social Security goes on. Many thanks to all of you who have called or e-mailed Moran's offices!

Virginia Family Values PAC


Check out the new Virginia Family Values PAC.

Courtesy of Waldo Jaquith.


Finally, a real effort to present progressive values as the true family values.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

"Affirming Marriage"

If you haven't seen this piece in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, go check it out. The article, by Laura L. Hutchison -- my new favorite VA journalist -- , describes the relationship of a same-sex couple from Fredericksburg. Barbara and Tibby met in high school and fell in love later in life.

After returning to Utah, Barbara began an art career and invited Tibby to see her work.Their friendship grew. They fell in love...

Like many same-sex couples, Barbara and Tibby had taken legal steps to ensure the other would always be taken care of. They bought a house together and shared bank accounts. They drew up wills, powers of attorney and medical directives that would give one the authority to make life-or-death decisions if the other became unable to do so...

Barbara and Tibby have not been activists in the gay-rights movement. "They simply want the ability to grow old together, to take care of the one they love..."

"It's a political thing," Tibby said in the film. "We are easy to scapegoat. We're easy for people to say 'they are immoral.' Well I'll tell you, I'm the most boringly moral person."


Bob Marshall's bill, HB 571, restricts the rights of same-sex couples to enter into a slew of legal contracts. Marshall gets all worked over the idea of granting anything close to equal rights to those who practice "sodomy." His legislation and divisive comments are a kick in the face to law-abiding, responsible citizens like Barbara and Tibby.

Barbara and Tibby are leaving Virginia. Thanks to Marshall and his conservative cohorts, the people of Virginia have lost an inspired personal therapist and a talented artist. But more significantly, we've lost a loving and committed couple, something we need more of.

Restricting the rights of same-sex couples does not "sanctify" nor does it "affirm" marriage. Loving relationships like Barbara and Tibby's make our state richer, happier and, yes, more moral. The day Barbara and Tibby leave will be a sad day, a sad indeed.

Please link to and e-mail this story. The vast majority of those who wish to restrict the rights of same-sex couples do so because they buy into the stereotypes of the "homosexual lifestyle." The reality is that most same-sex couples are "boringly moral," just like Barbara and Tibby. The battle for equal rights will NOT be won not in state legislatures or in Congress, but in the hearts and minds of everyday people. Let's start changing those hearts and minds!



Saturday, January 08, 2005

Werkheiser for Delegate

As I mentioned in a previous post, good candidates are a HUGE advantage in winnable districts. In fact, they're a necessity.

Well, we've found what looks to be a good candidate in Fairfax: Greg Werkheiser.

And don't forget just how bad Dave Albo is!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Cosgrove v. Women


Daily Kos has a great discussion about Del. Cosgrove's insane bill. I went through some of the comments and picked out my favorite. The winner is...poemless who gives us this piece of inspired prose:

"We should personally call Cosgrove himself each time we menstruate. Not in order to obey the law, but because millions of hormonal women calling constantly might shut him up, or at least make him reconsider his little hobby of preoccupying himself with the product of our
reproductive systems..."

Unfortunately it seems Virginia is gaining a national reputation as a breeding ground for ultra-conservative, wacky laws. I hope that The Virginia Progressive and other VA bloggers (check out the links to your right) can be a force to expose and highlight the extremism of people like Del. Cosgrove during the upcoming election cycle.

If you're visiting the site for the first time -- as many people are -- please join us in our quest to dismantle and defeat the arch-conservative stranglehold on the VA legislature.



Thursday, January 06, 2005

Misdemeanor Miscarriages??

Check this out from Daily Kos.

Is that what people will think Virginia is about? I hope not.

Van Landingham Retires

Marian Van Landingham (D-Alexandria), one of the legislature's most consistent progressive voices and its longest-serving woman, is retiring according to the Alexandria Gazette Packet . This isn't really news, as her worsening struggle with cancer became known a weeks ago. But the race to fill her seat has now begun and the Packet has some interesting info.

"Several people have mentioned their interest in running," Van Landingham said. "Many of them are my friends so I am staying out of it for now. We will have to see how things shake out as we get closer to the time for a primary."

While as many as eight Democrats from Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County have expressed some interest, only one had registered with the Voter Registrar as of Tuesday. Elsie Mosqueda, long-time assistant to Brian Moran has thrown her hat in the ring officially.

"Elsie called me and told me she was interested in running," said Mayor William D. Euille. "I am saddened by Marian's announcement and suspect that a number of people will come forward with an interest in running for that seat. We will just have to wait and see what happens. For now, my prayers are with Marian."


I doubt seriously that eight real candidates will emerge. It will probably be around four or five. But the 45th is a heavily-Democratic district and the primary is tantamount to the election so competition will be fierce. The race will be similar to Adam Ebbin's 2003 victory in Arlington when he won with just under 800 votes.

Mosqueda has a slight advantage being affiliated with Brian Moran and I expect she'll win his endorsement. But that doesn't mean that she can raise the money needed to win this race. This thing is wide open to an outsider who can raise upwards of $80,000 in a very short amount of time.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Moran Update

Congressman Jim Moran is still a member of the faint-hearted faction.

Come on Jim! The clock is ticking here. Enough is enough.

Call, E-mail, Harass!

More Dems in Legislatures

Bob at Commonwealth Commonsense cites a Times-Dispatch editorial pointing out that Democrats picked up 60 seats in state legislatures in 2004.

State legislatures often serve as incubators for Senators and Congressmen. For Democrats, the results from the state contests, including Virginia, rate as a sliver of good news in an otherwise dismal year.

Yes, state legislatures often serve as incubators for Senators and Congressmen. More Democrats in lower offices means a larger pool of candidates to choose from for higher offices. Oftentimes, the key to knocking off an incumbent is a quality candidate. A quality candidate is one that can raise money, put together a great campaign team, articulate a vision, and drew meaningful distinctions with his/her opponent.

But, to me, the more significant conclusion to be drawn here is that OUR message works when it is communicated in a way that people can understand. Local candidates have the ability to take the Democratic platform straight to the people, free from the filtering of sensational media and misleading attack ads. Therefore, wins at the local level expose the superiority of our priorities. People want what we have to offer. Our job is to convince them that we, as Democrats, can provide it.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Presidential Ambitions

The Times-Dispatch has this piece on the presidential ambitions of Mark Warner and George Allen.

Commonwealth Commonsense chimes in. Two things struck me in this article.

First, Warner should NOT try to challenge Allen in 2006 and then expect to run for President. The timing is too close, especially with the front-loaded primary schedule.

"If Warner wants to run for president, he should run for president. If he wants to run for the Senate, he should run for the Senate. He shouldn't try to do both," said political consultant Steve Jarding.


Second, Allen lacks gravitas.

If he runs, Allen "will have to show some gravitas," Rothenburg added. "He will need to talk knowledgeably about national security and defense issues."


Stu Rothenberg, always the gentleman, is being polite here. Allen is a bit of a dope. I've seen him speak on telecommunications legislation and he was unable to expand beyond generalities and folksy one-liners. Of course, that strategy has been pretty effective for you know who.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Marshall Made News


The Potomac News lists Delegate Robert Marshall (R-Prince William) as a top newsmaker for 2004. Marshall, who made the list alongside fellow Republicans Sean Connaughton and Harry Parrish, is recognized for his outspoken views on same-sex marriage.

Western Prince William Delegate Robert G. Marshall, R-13th District, sparked controversy during the 2004 General Assembly session for sponsoring HB 751.

This legislation, passed by the General Assembly, prohibits gay couples from having any of the rights and privileges of marriage.

Despite the fact that same-sex couples already lacked the right to marry or form a civil union, Marshall found it necessary to further restrict the rights of law-abiding Virginians. The bill passed after the legislature overrode Governor Mark Warner's veto.

You might remember the esteemed Mr. Marshall for his crusade to restrict access to contraception or for his enlightened comments during a public forum earlier this year. This man is an extremist.

If his goal for 2004 was to make news -- he succeeded. But if his goal was to enact sensible and meaningful public policy that would improve the lives of everyday Virginians -- he most certainly failed.




Looking Ahead

The Daily Press gives a nice look ahead to the upcoming legislative session and the Kaine-Kilgore gubernatorial showdown.

The verdict? The legislative session will be relatively calm while the race for the governorship looks to be pretty tough. Recent MyDD and Dailykos discussions have centered on the impending battle between the aggressive Kaine and the arguably-effeminate Kilgore?

Should Kilgore's somewhat-feminine voice and mannerisms be part of the campaign? I don't know. But I do know that HE won't be calling Tim Kaine an "economic girlie man" any time soon.

Also check out Political State Report for a run-down of VA goings-on courtesy of conservative blogger Will Vehrs. Pay close attention to his description of the split between moderate and ultra-conservative Republicans in the legislature. This dynamic MUST be part of our 2005 strategy. Divide and conquer!

Saturday, January 01, 2005

In or Out?

A while back I pointed out that Northern Virginia Congressman Jim Moran was a member of TPM's faint-hearted faction.

Now it seems that Moran has catapulted himself into faint-hearted faction leadership by virtue of a letter that seems to maintain his suspicious level of ambiguity on the issue. The letter does not assert that Moran supports Bush's radical scheme, but nor does it assert his opposition to the scheme.

This is neither the time nor the issue for Democrats to be weak. Please contact Moran and tell him to stand up for the Democratic principles that he claims to espouse.

Friday, December 31, 2004

Doctor or Delegate

Prince William County Republican Robert Marshall is at it again. Apparently, Mr. Marshall is a doctor now:

"You give a woman a month's worth of the birth control pill in 12 hours, what the hell are you doing for your system?"

Once again, Marshall wants to restrict access to contraception at Virginia's colleges and universities. Last year Marshall tried to force colleges to stop dispensing morning-after contraception to students. Now he wants to make those colleges "liable" for the effects of those pills.

I guess somebody forgot to put the M.D. in front of his name on his official bio. Of course, I find it hard to believe that he graduated from medical school when he clearly lacks a fundamental understanding of the reproductive process.



Thursday, December 30, 2004

Check This Out...

There's a serious discussion over at MyDD about Virginia politics.

Certainly a lot to talk about here and I already have some thoughts that I'll be posting later on today. But for now, just go over and check it out.

Another Reason

As if we needed another reason to keep a Democrat in the Governor's mansion. Warner's legacy will be, I hope, a tradition of common-sense economic policies in Virginia. But that legacy is not assured. We have a lot of work to do.

The Republicans, on the other hand, continue to bicker amongst themselves. The vindictiveness of Howell and his no-tax cronies never ceases to astound me.

YOU LOST BILL! Give it up. The people of Virginia want economic policy that funds the needs of schools, police officers, and firefighters rather than the needs of you and your big business buddies.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Dedicated Funding for Metro

The idea of creating a dedicated funding source for Metro seems to be gaining a bit of steam. The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority moved yesterday to support the plan to increase the region's sales tax by 0.5 percent.

Some involved seem to believe that a tax increase would pass by virtue of its being dedicated solely to funding Metro.

"As we dug into the public-opinion surveys and other types of information, we're convinced that a Metro-only sales tax, in fact, would pass" in the jurisdictions served by the transit agency, Mr. Snyder said yesterday.


We all know that Metro is facing serious long-term problems caused by its insufficient funding and/or poor management practices. Check out MetroRiders.org to find out more about those problems.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Getting Rid of Gay-Basher's??

The Washington Blade recently published an article, based on an interview with Joshua Israel, president of the Virginia Partisans, describing efforts to replace two Northern Virginia Republicans. Both men -- Del. Dave Albo (R-Fairfax) and Del. Robert Marshall (R-Prince William) -- have horrible records on gay rights and seem to have earned themselves vigorous challenges.

Marshall will face Bruce Roemmelt, a retired firefighter, and Albo will face Greg Werkheiser, a lawyer and former speechwriter for top-level Democrats.

Both Albo and Marhall represent the worst and most reactionary wing of Virginia politics. Knocking off even one would be a huge win for the good guys...and for the Constitution. Marshall is known for making brilliant statements like, "Homosexuals can get married. They just have to marry someone of the opposite sex. It's a requirement of nature."

Albo, of course, being the enlightened statesman that he is, would like to lessen the punishment for having sexual intercourse with children.

Updates

The Virginia Progressive now has "trackback" functionality and an improved RSS feed. Please consider adding us to your My Yahoo! or other homepage.

United States of Ronald Reagan

Republicans are obsessed with naming things after Ronald Reagan.

I guess its understandable since he singlehandedly defeated Communism, Fascism, racism, sexism, liberalism and just about any other -ism that is sooooooo evil!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Campaign Finance Reform in Virginia??

The Manassas Journal Messenger opines on the problem of money in politics, but offers absolutely no suggestions to help alleviate the problem.

Of course, there probably is no reasonable remedy for escalating campaign costs without
encroaching on the values of free speech. Unfortunately, to finance these grand endeavors, the candidates find themselves spending more time on the fund-raising circuit than the campaign
trail.



They point out the recent case of Prince William County Attorney Sharon Pandak who withdrew from the race for Attorney General after realizing that she "would be spending the bulk of [her] time in the campaign on fundraising." I have a hard time believing that Pandak didn't understand the demands of the race before she entered. She must have known the amount raised by her opponent Creigh Deeds.

But honestly, one would think that the Journal Messenger could come up with at least ONE suggestion to improve the situation. I mean, isn't that their job?? They get paid, right??

Correction!!


One criticism of the blogosphere offered by those in the "mainstream media" is that bloggers are accountable to no one. They can write whatever they wish, true or not, without fear of retribution. This is true to a point, but ultimately exposes a fundamental misunderstanding of what blogs are about. The power of a blog is unleashed by the collective wisdom, experiences, and ideologies of its community. The wisdom of this blog's community has already begun to speak.

I received an e-mail pointing out some mistakes I made regarding my characterization of Congressman Jim Moran. In my anger regarding his unclear position on Social Security, I inadvertently linked to a statement made by Congressman JERRY Moran regarding impeachment. The e-mailer also stated that Jim Moran voted against "impeachment on all counts."

This is, I guess, technically true. Moran was, however, one of 31 Democrats to cross party lines and vote for the initial articles of impeachment. Therefore, it would be tough to argue that he voted against "impeachment on all counts." The e-mailer also points out that Moran "voted for the unconstitutional third trimester abortion ban, he has since changed his mind on this and now votes against such a ban without a health-of-the-mother exception." This is true as well. Moran voted for the late-term abortion ban a number of times until finally changing his mind and, in the last few years, voting against it. Therefore, my assertion that Moran crossed party lines on the issue must stand.

I thank the e-mailer for his pointing out my linking error. Nonetheless, until Congressman Moran issues a statement asserting his absolute opposition to the President's plan to destroy Social Security I will continue to point out Moran's past "mistakes" (by "mistakes" I mean mistakes in policy rather than in his personal life) in the hope of avoiding future ones.

In closing, please do not hesitate to e-mail/comment on any mistakes that you notice on this site. I WILL post a correction for any factual misrepresentations that I make.

Death Penalty Redux

Just a few days ago I told you that Kilgore would hammer Kaine for his opposition to the death penalty. Apparently, the Washington Post shares that view.

But more powerful than Kaine's opposition to the death penalty is the fact that he served as a defense attorney on several death penalty cases.

Tuggle raped, sodomized and shot a woman while on parole after killing a 17-year-old girl. Whitley cut the throat of his Fairfax County neighbor and then brutally sexually assaulted her.

This whole thing will get very ugly and expect to be hearing A LOT more about Tuggle and Whitley in the next eleven months. Kaine's opposition to the death penalty is sincere and I admire his unwillingness to compromise on such an important issue. Similarly, the right of ALL alleged criminals to a competent defense should be indisputable. Nonetheless, these are esoteric explanations that are difficult to communicate over the course of any political campaign.

Check back for updates on this important story!


Sunday, December 26, 2004

Back to Work


A quick round-up of recent news stories.

Gov. Warner touts fiscal centrism and raises $2 million.

"The thing I'm proudest of this year is that there was that
re-emergence of what I call the sensible center. People took off their partisan
hats for a while and said, at least in terms of the finances, let's try to make
a tough choice and do what we think is right for the long-term fiscal interests
of the state."

Two Republicans want Virginia to leave behind Bush's No Child Left Behind.

Schools are not cookie-cutter institutions that can all
succeed from the same top-down plan. Along with adequate resources, educators
need some flexibility to attain the nation's overall goal of ensuring that
youngsters leave school with the educational skills to become productive adults.
Until the administration gets serious about retooling the program, No Child Left
Behind will be little more than a catchy, but empty, political slogan.


A good piece in The Roanoke Times previewing the Kaine-Kilgore showdown. The verdict? It won't be
pretty.


The Social Security dust-up is ongoing and, yes,
Northern Virginia Congressman Jim Moran is STILL a member of the faint-hearted faction. Call or e-mail his office and DEMAND that he issue a statement asserting his unequivocal support for Social Security. Oh yeah, please don't forget to be clear about what Bush is really trying to do to the most successful social program in our nation's history.




Thursday, December 23, 2004

Happy Holidays!

I'm gonna lighten up on the posting for the next few days. I'll be battling the horde tomorrow to do some last minute shopping, so I'll probably be pretty tired after that.

But look for some new and exciting content starting next week! I'm working on a Social Security Action Center and will be putting together synopses of 2005 state-wide races.

Thank you to all who have been visiting and please tell your friends
!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Let's SAVE Social Security


Ok folks, there's no doubt about it. The battle lines have been drawn. President Bush is committed to pressing his radical Social Security privatization scheme through Congress. That being the case, I'd like to make a few points regarding what we, as progressive Virginians, can do.

First off, a lesson in
framing. When speaking about Bush's plan with friends, relatives, or pets, be sure to emphasize that Bush is not trying to reform, revamp, redo, or redress. Instead, this plan is an attempt to destroy Social Security. Talking about it in any other terms cedes the rhetorical advantage to the other side. You see, for the most part, people like Social Security. They have some misplaced doubts about its solvency, but the vast majority of people want their children and grandchildren to receive a guaranteed retirement pension.

Bush's plan removes the guarantee from guaranteed. This is the truth and this is how we must frame the debate. Now, if you're an avid reader of
Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo like I am, then you probably saw this earlier today.

Yes, based on his refusal to support the
2001 Filner Amendment Northern Virginia Democrat James Moran is part of Marshall's faint-hearted faction. What does this mean? In 2001, Congressman Moran refused to support a relatively meaningless proxy vote prohibiting privatization of Social Security.

Does this mean that now, in 2005, he'll support Bush's plan?? I doubt it. But Moran has abandoned the party before on some serious issues like
impeachment and late-term abortion. So if you live in Moran's district, or close enough that you can pretend to, call his office and make sure they know where you stand.

Tom Davis is hinting strongly that he, along with as many as 30 House members, are opposed to any efforts at privatizing Social Security. Davis, as we know, is in a swing district but is constantly pulled to the right by statewide and/or national ambitions. Be sure that Bush and company will pressure him to sign on to the plan. So again, if you live in the 11th, call or e-mail Davis and let him know.

That's all I have for now. We're working on a Save Social Security page that will track the situation and give you the information you need to contact your member of Congress.




Kaine Fights Back


I thought this was interesting.

And perhaps alluding to the failure of presidential candidate John Kerry to
forcefully respond to criticism of his military record, Kaine said, "Unlike
some Democrats, I'm not going to sit back while attacked. I'm going to stand
up and fight for what's right."

I've long felt that Kerry made a huge mistake in not responding quickly and decisively to the Swift Boat lies. On that note, I'm glad to see Kaine going on the offensive. At the same time, however, its usually not good to see accounts of your negative ads in the press. Unless, of course, you need the free media that badly.

I'd like to see Kaine generate some negative coverage on Kilgore by doing something positive. A proposal to tighten restrictions and stiffen penalties on telephone eavesdroppers might be a place to start.

Commonwealth Commonsense makes a good point regarding Bush's propensity to attack and the hypocrisy of Republicans crying foul at the hint of a Democratic attack.

Death Penalty ENHANCEMENT Act


I'm going to bed now. It's late. But I absolutely HAVE to say something about this. Apparently Kilgore's new bill is entitled The Death Penalty Enhancement Act. This is insane.

How does one enhance the death penalty, you ask?? Well, it's very simple. You kill more people.

There you have it -- a new and improved, ultra-modern, space age, guaranteed-to-be-a-hit, ENHANCED DEATH PENALTY. This guy is good!

Kilgore Proposes Killer Bill


I've said it before and I'll say it again. In fact, I'll keep saying it: Kilgore is gonna hammer Kaine on the death penalty. For those of you not in the know on this one, Lt. Gov. Kaine opposes the death penalty.

Republican Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore yesterday labeled Democratic Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, his likely opponent for governor in 2005, as "John Kerry with a Richmond address."
Outlining what may be a major attack theme of his campaign for governor, Kilgore said Kaine, like Kerry, is opposed to the death penalty.

When asked about the issue, Kaine admirably cites his Catholic faith and he repeatedly states that he intends to enforce VA law, which, as you know, allows for the death penalty. But neither of those things will make the issue go away. In fact, Kilgore recently proposed a bill that would drop the requirement that the death penalty be applied only to the triggerman in a killing.

The message also is intended to help draw a distinction between Kilgore, who is running for governor, and his likely opponent, Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D). Kilgore has said repeatedly that Kaine's personal opposition to the death penalty will be one of the key issues in the 2005 campaign.

In a debate with Kaine this month, Kilgore promised to remind voters that his opponent "actually represented death row inmates, those who escaped from prison."

This bill is obviously an attempt to create publicity around the issue. The WaPo has the story, but this kind of thing isn't aimed at the Post's Northern VA readership. Kilgore wins if this story gets picked up by local TV/newspapers in rural areas. We'll have to keep our eyes open over the next few days.

That being said, this issue is a real loser for Kaine. He needs to do two things.


  1. Avoid the issue by changing the subject. Campaigns are about getting YOUR message out. If YOUR message is in the news, there is no/less room for the OTHER GUY's message. Kilgore won the first of many battles to dictate the news. Let's hope Kaine wins the next...and the next...and the next.
  2. Emphasize this point ad nausuem: I FULLY INTEND to enforce the death penalty...just as Gov. Warner has. Warner broke with liberal tradition on this issue and benefitted from it. Kaine needs to identify himself with that.





Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A Good Idea...We Need More of These in VA


Lt. Gov Kaine suggests that we give regions more control.

The concept of regionalism pops up frequently in Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine's vision for Virginia's future.Recognizing that the success of the commonwealth’s cities and counties is tied so closely to their regional economies, Kaine wonders what would happen if the state started approaching other important issues—like education funding, for example, or transportation and land use planning—from a more regional perspective.

"In every way in which we send money back to localities, we ought to be encouraging regionalism," he told Times editors and reporters in an interview last week.
As I see it, this issue is directly linked to controlling sprawl. Development is NOT merely a local issue, it is a regional and state issue. There needs to be serious mechanism put into place to FORCE localities to coordinate with each other and with the state on zoning/development issues. Kaine's proposal seems like a good start, but I'm not sure how much traction it'll gain over the course of the campaign.

As we all you know, you campaign in poetry but govern in prose. This sounds like prose to me.

The Times-Dispatch Goes Completely Insane


They really go off the deep end with this one. I can't even begin to fathom how they could publish this type of mindless, childish drivel.

The party's problem in wooing the electorate is not that it needs a new dress; the problem is that it is a nag and a scold and a snob. Voters don't like that. Or, to borrow from the title of a popular self-help book: They're just not that into you.

Amazingly, the Virginia Pilot has a piece that seems to address the very kind of inane, adolescent name-calling that we see from the Dispatch. Coincidence???

Far be it from us to lecture either major political party on strategy, but some high-ranking Republican — Attorney General Jerry Kilgore or U.S. Sen. George Allen would do — ought to evaluate whether this approach is serving the party well.

Our guess is that the GOP apparatus does the party more harm than good when it devotes more energy to name-calling than problem-solving.

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