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Archive for December, 2009

One of Many

December 9, 2009 1 comment

Far away from our own commonwealth, word that an incumbent congresswoman in Kansas will be seeing a primary challenge from the right. From CQ Politics:

A Kansas state senator announced Tuesday that he is considering challenging Republican freshman Rep. Lynn Jenkins in the GOP primary in August 2010.

“When Lynn was elected, there were a lot of Republicans who were suspect of how genuine a conservative she was,” Pyle said in his announcement. “But most of us decided to take a wait-and-see approach. With her record before she was elected to Congress, and just a few votes while in Congress, it is abundantly clear that Lynn is not a conservative.”

What’s interesting about this case is that this not some lone activist mounting a challenge against an “impure” Republican. The candidate is a sitting official, so they already have a platform and an activist base. Additionally, Jenkins has not exactly been a breakaway figure in the House–she stuck with her fellow Republicans on the stimulus and health care. Her biggest sin is the same one former Congressman Jim Ryun brought up when he faced off against Jenkins for the nomination in 2008: Jenkins is pro-choice to the point where she publicly allies herself with fellow pro-choice Republicans.

As it should be pointed out whenever we talk about primaries, all politics is local. Kansas has a long and storied history of fighting within its GOP between moderates and conservatives. Indeed, the state’s current Governor is a Democrat who bolted the GOP to run with now HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Still, this is not the first challenge to a sitting GOPer, nor will it be the last. The brand is in such bad shape that there’s a brewing conservative movement to boot as many moderates and “soft” conservatives as possible in favor of starting over again with principled candidates. Indeed, this has reached our backyard in the visage of a challenge against Frank Wolf (though I suspect this gu will do no better than the last one, who barely cracked 10%). There’s even been word of a challenge to Congressman Goodlatte, who voted against the intitial TARP package last fall. If that’s not a true conservative, than I don’t know what is–though again, Goodlatte’s is a case of local interests meshing with national movements.You can bet your bottom dollar, though, that I’ll do everything in my power to keep Goodlatte in the House.

My guess: pretty much any Republican with less than a 80% lifetime score from the American Conservative Union will see a challenge, though the strength of the candidates will vary widely.

Another Czar Poorly Vetted

December 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Perhaps one of the most controversial aspects of Barrack Obama’s adminstration so far has been just how many cabinet level and lower level appointees have very shady pasts. A number have had tax trouble–some made it through Congress, some didn’t. What’s far more troubling, though, is how many individuals with radical views were shepherd into government by the administration by making them “czars.”

One such controversial appointment was that of Kevin Jennings as School Safety Czar. Jennings already got in some hot water in September when it was revealed that he had advised an underage student of little more than safety when engaging in sex with an older man. Jennings was in a position to do something legally but did not–as a gay man himself, this is understandable, given that (rightly or wrongly) few teachers act legally on the older boyfriends of straight girls. Jennings gave good, if not misguided, advice in that instance.

Far more disturbing, however, is a conference that his organization GLSEN hosted at Tuft’s University in 2000. This conference went far beyond basic sexual safety and covered a variety of dangerous sexual techniques. I won’t go into detail, but Virginia Virtucon has the scoop. This is very disturbing. I happen to think that sexual safety has its place in modern education, though focus should be placed on abstinence. However, openly sharing sexual techniques with minors is not only ludicrous but in very poor taste.

And that’s not all–the same report that VV cites notes that GLSEN promotes and sells a number of near pornographic titles through its bookstore online. Again, I am all for the youth of America learning about sexuality, but this is not a place that public schools need to be involved. And don’t get me wrong–I think that it is just as inappropriate for libraries to have straight romance novels available for students. The composition of a library should not be to simply get students to read anything but to enlighten their existence. If a book doesn’t do that, it has no place in a public school library.

It would appear, however, that right now the Obama administration feels that “throwing it all out there” is a much better solution to the very real problem of bullying. Instead of teaching students to accept each others lifestyles, despite any personal misgivings, they’d rather it all be on the table to create further confusion and fear.

Tea Partiers continue to flex muscle

December 8, 2009 Leave a comment

I find the tea parties that sprung up around the country last spring an absolutely fascinating exercise in political involvement. Though the media and left-wingers are quick to denounce it as “astroturf,” but the fact of the matter is that, regardless of who came up with the term and who puts what events together, run-of-the-mill activists across the country have made it into something much bigger than anyone could imagine. Right now, many groups are getting involved in congressional primaries to turn out a candidate close to their values. Indeed, in our own backyard tea partiers are promising to have a series of debates in Virginia’s Fifth District.

“Our intent is to make the process fair and accessible to all viable candidates and give them the opportunity to prove themselves to the citizens of the 5th District,” Lynchburg TEA Party leader Mark Lloyd said in the release.

Lloyd noted that many TEA party members are independent from the GOP. “…Nevertheless, as Americans we intend to make our voices heard and we intend to be part of the political process.”

Lloyd points out correctly that the are a number of independent conservatives in the effort–however, in speaking to some of these people I find that many are former Republicans who just couldn’t tolerate the party’s full fledged support for certain types of candidates. However, these people appear to have still come out in droves for Bob McDonnell this past year. Therefore, they are drawn to the Tea Parties first as a way to get involved then jettison again if they get burned. The label is so potent that Rasmussen did a poll that discovered that an actual Tea Party would beat the Republican Party in a congressional match-up:

In a three-way Generic Ballot test, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds Democrats attracting 36% of the vote. The Tea Party candidate picks up 23%, and Republicans finish third at 18%. Another 22% are undecided.
Among voters not affiliated with either major party, the Tea Party comes out on top. Thirty-three percent (33%) prefer the Tea Party candidate, and 30% are undecided. Twenty-five percent (25%) would vote for a Democrat, and just 12% prefer the GOP.
Among Republican voters, 39% say they’d vote for the GOP candidate, but 33% favor the Tea Party option.

Obviously, dissatisfaction with the Republican label remains so high that nearly a third of people who call themselves Republicans would consider a third-party. No wonder state Republican parties, such as Colorado and Virginia’s, have taken great care to listen to the tea party movement and co-opt its focus on individual liberty and fiscal issues.

I still maintain that the Tea Party is more of a re-branding and re-ignition of a staid conservative movement that became unprincipled early in the decade. The Republican Party can defuse the threat of conservative independents bolting or staying home by a) keeping leaders like Sarah Palin from seeing hope in a third party and b) by not only promising but delivering on issues key to the identity of tea party activists.

As Norm pointed out over at TQ:

It may indicate that Republicans, if they hope to be successful in 2010, would be wise to pay attention to the activists back home who are protesting, organizing, forming PACs, lobbying for legislation and more under any number of tea party banners.

Or they could ignore it. In which case, they had best hope they packed along an extra pair of socks…because it gets mighty cold and damp in the political wilderness.

2012 Odds and Ends

December 8, 2009 Leave a comment

I take a great interest in primary fights and how they help define our party. This is certainly the case with the 2012 fight. However, not every little thing I read is going to lend itself to a full post, and sometimes I’ll post a compendium of recent news from the various contenders. This is one of those times.

–Former PA Senator Rick Santorum told ABC News yesterday that he is “absolutely” looking at running in 2012. I still believe that Santorum is not the candidate we need right now, but he will certainly shake the race up for social conservatives if he gets in. However, he also mentioned fiscal issues as part of his “traditional values” platform:

“I think I’ve been very clear that you know, we need to stand foursquare on the traditional values. When I say traditional values people think, ‘Oh that means, you know, social conservatism and the family. It also means the free enterprise system and that government shouldn’t be large and controlling things — I mean, those are all core Republican principle.

–Sarah Palin signed books in Fairfax (a county where she and Senator McCain were clobbered in 2008), and the enthusiasm that has been noted at previous stops continued in full force. From the WaPo:

Palin fan Greg Williams, 46, of Springfield said he hasn’t felt so strongly about a politician since Ronald Reagan. He spent Friday night in a tent rigged with a tarp to keep out the rain, to make sure he got his chance to see her Saturday. He joined several other campers until about 7:30 a.m., when Fairfax County police made them break down their tents so people near the front of the line could cross the street and stand closer to the store entrance.

One has to wonder how Palin would have been received at the Advance. As Chairman Mullins pointed out, though, this past weekend was for Virginia, though two names that have been floated for 2012 spoke: Minority Whip Eric Cantor (and as even he’ll say, far too prematurely) Bob McDonnell. However, I expect we’ll see her raising money for a Virginia politico very soon. Palin also experienced a good weekend in the polls. CNN has Palin at 46% favorable to 46% unfavorable. This is up from 42% in mid-October.

–Mitch Daniels was in Chicago raising money for Indiana pols. That prompted Race42012 to right this about the burgouning My Man Mitch movement:

While Public Policy Polling has yet to post the results of its online poll of second-tier Republican candidates from earlier this week, Daniels was coming in a strong second just before the polls closed, beating better-known Republicans like Dick Cheney and Rudy Giuliani while only Pawlenty edged out Mitch for the top spot. Daniels’ assumed, effortless conservatism combined with his ability to apply his philosophy to the issues of the day, all packaged in a personality that provides voters with a stark contrast with President Obama, may mean that Mitch Daniels is in the perfect position to re-assemble the Fred ‘08 movement, only this time led by a candidate who can actually go the distance.

–Finally, outgoing Minnesota Governor and 08 Veep mention Tim Pawlenty has hired a finance director. Pawlenty would certainly make for a solid choice policy wise, but does he really have the charisma for the national stage? One can make a case that Daniels would make it because of his down to earth nature and modesty that real people can relate to. Pawlenty, though, seems to have the ambition and policy chops without a real defining character trait–probably the reason he was passed over for Palin in 2008.

–Finally, Race for 2012 has a chilling recount of Huckabee’s clemencies as governor, including an unusual 12 murderers. In his time in office Huckabee granted more clemencies more than every surrounding state combined.

Why Tweet?

December 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Two disparate but related posts led me to ask this question today. First, there was Fisherville Mike’s short post linking to an article about Sarah Palin’s use of Facebook. It was this line that got me thinking:

Politicians shouldn’t tweet like they’re teenage girls – Newt Gingrich talking about dinner with James Carville, or Nathan Daschle telling how he’s relaxing in the hot tub. Go ahead and have a life; we just don’t care to hear about it.

Mike hit the nail on the head. People are naturally social animals–indeed, there’s a whole category of mental illness used to describe behavior in which people have abnormal social patterns: personality disorders. The flip side of this coin, though, is that social networking tools like Twitter and to an even greater extent lead us to believe that everyone we care about (or have in our social network because we think they can help us (you do it–admit it) cares about everything that we do–the phenomena of people posting their every little move on Twitter and Facebook is really no different from the Salahi’s gatecrashing at the White House–the goal is relevance in an increasingly growing and shrinking world. Both Twitter and FB have their place. In particular, I think that Twitter is custom made for short posts from political events and to spread pithy thoughts about major news. I’ll admit that even I am guilty of an occasional vanity tweet, but the fact of the matter is that in the wrong hands these tools are just another way for drama makers and attention seekers to get an audience they don’t deserve.

The other post was from Krystle about a curious new device created by tech types at Hasselt University. It’s essentially a Fisher Price activity center with a board inside that sends tweets when toddlers press family member’s pictures.

Is it me or has this hit a new level of insanity? Can we just let kids be kids? Children can utilize technology without impacting their social skills towards addiction or even imposing the mantra of acronyms into their learning. It’s bad enough that children are growing up faster each day through the various influences in the media and on the internet. Twoddler is actually taking away from a child’s creativity by drawing them towards a technology addicted lifestyle. I guess this is the sign of the times and further distancing simplicity outside of childhood.

Again, the device is simply a prototype, but I would expect that it won’t be too long before social networking is integrated into new toys. I find this dangerous from two perspectives. First, despite its name, social media ceates a new wrinkle in interpresonal interaction by allowing people to connect from long distances. It does this, however, through a screen, a screen that cannot capture the depth of an individual’s true emotions. It is necessarily limited to text and sometimes graphics. It seems that as we move through phases of technology, we lose a certain depth of communication. The telephone eliminated facial expressions, text messaging made it very difficult for some turns of phrase and irony to be readily understood, and the invention of text messaging further garbled the mix. Children should be raised in a manner that allows them to use the whole of their social tools. While social media is here to stay and will become an increasingly part of our social interaction, it doesn’t mean that children need to have it pounded into them from three months of age. If we foist adult ideas upon children, we’ll end up with a generation with limited imagination and verbal abilities, thinking that they’ll always have the comfort of the screen to mediate awkward social interactions.

And another thing–why Twitter? I view twitter much the same way as I view XM radio–an intermediary technology. Twitter is a curious little thing–part social network, part micro-blogging tool. But these features are both being quickly supplanted by Facebook and the increasing integration of social media into smart phones, combined with the increasing use of data plans on said phones. Another reason not to barrage children with social media from an early age–it is a constantly shifting universe that requires discretion and understanding of the various pros and cons to each platform. I may sound like a hypocrite here, since my twitter use has actually increased with the purchase of a new phone–this is because I don’t have data service to use Facebook but I DO have a QWERTY keyboard. Again, it works for me. That will be the key to success for the next generation in using social media–careful selection for the individual.

Beating a Dead Horse

December 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Some people just can’t escape criticism. One of those unfortunates is Creigh Deeds. First, there’s a scathing editorial from Doug Wilder, who many waved off as a has-been when he predicted the inevitable. From the RTD:

Candidly, though, I will state that Deeds’ inability to resonate with the base of the party was not his only failure, as some have claimed. He also failed to connect with the overall root base of Virginia voters of all persuasions — particularly independents and crossover Republicans. If a candidate cannot attract the votes of a broad-based coalition, it becomes extremely difficult — if not impossible — to win any statewide election in this commonwealth.

That is Virginia Politics 101, but sometimes it does us all good to refresh ourselves about the lessons these past few decades of elections have taught us.

…..

With the concerns of the base about job losses, under-employment, health care, and resources for infrastructure improvements mounting on an almost daily basis, Democrats will have to start showing that the base — which has been so essential to so many of us having been elected and put into positions of leadership — has real reasons to believe that its votes matter, and that it will see tangible results, notwithstanding the present dilemma of the party.

Meanwhile, outgoing Governor Tim Kaine shows that a little loss like that on November 3rd is no cure for arrogance. From the Politico:

In an interview in Monday’s Danville Register & Bee, Kaine, who’s also chairmen of the Democratic National Committee, said that he would have run for re-election if Virginia governors were not limited to one term and that if he had run again he “probably could have won pretty easily.”

So you really think that the voters of Virginia would have just ignored your billion dollar deficits? Indeed, there was one candidate on the ballot that worked with the Governor and defended his fiscal policies tooth and nail only to get whomped just as bad. Can’t poor Creigh catch a break? Just like the incoming Governor he’s still got a job to do, and I’m sure he’ll be glad when session comes. Will he become a leading critic of the administration? Time will tell.

Of course, Tim Kaine also threw himself a lavish party at the Hat Factory in Richmond with over 1,400 guests. No word if this was on the government kitty….but its clear that His Excellency would rather us remember “the good times” like a boyfriend desperate to get back with a girl he mistreated.

We Beat the Post!

December 7, 2009 2 comments

Let the word go forth that I beat the Washington Post by more than an hour in reporting that the previously removed Dirty Deeds resurfaced at the RPV Advance Luncheon–and that I wasn’t nearly as uppity about it.

What?? I have a hat, and I need something to hang it on.