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Chuckles with Arlen

December 28, 2011 Leave a comment

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, if you didn’t get enough (albeit unintentional) laughs during his five terms in the Senate, the only man in D.C. funny enough to deliver his verdict in an impeachment trial citing an obscure precept of Scottish law, Mr. Snarlin’ Arlen Specter!

For what it is, it’s not a bad set. I’ve heard most of the jokes in other forms, though, so I’m thinking that he found them in the pocket of that jacket that looks like he bought at the estate sale of some former Catskills comedian (ha-cha-cha!) Be forewarned: the Senator works a little “blue” (an old school comedy term for “dirty”)

Hopefully, in 2015, he’ll be able to join by then Former Senator Al Franken on a nationwide Former Senators of Comedy tour!

(H/T Political Wire)

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As Goes Virginia…..

December 27, 2011 1 comment

UPDATE: Via Bearing Drift, it has been learned that Rick Perry has launched his own legal challenge. Actually, it’s beyond launched–the suit has already been filed in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia. Their argument seems to be that the requirement that voters be registered to vote or eligible to register in Virginia unconstitutionally restricted his ability to recruit signature gatherers. (Focus on seems to be–I’m not a lawyer) They cite a number of other cases in which registration requirements were struck down. We seem to finally have a number for Perry–6k signatures. This isn’t even close to the 10,000 valid required. We’ll see how this pans out–he may get relief from the court, but I imagine the jeers will be even louder from the blogosphere than they were before. Also, one correction–any legislative fix will require 80 delegates, not 60 as I wrote earlier. That means they’ll need 13 Dems to cross over (12 if Putney votes with the GOP).

This is a Virginia-centric blog, so of course, one would expect me to view the entire political landscape through the prism of the Old Dominion. And sometimes, that can be a rather jaundiced view. However, a funny thing happened over the weekend….Virginia became kinda important. Or at least we think we did, or maybe we became less important….at any rate, people were talking about us.

That came when, in the early hours of Christmas Eve, it became known that the ballot for the March 6th Republican Presidential Primary would feature only former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Volunteers at RPV’s Obenshain Center had been working since the morning of December 23rd. Paul and Romney got through easily, but on that evening it was discovered that Texas Governor Rick Perry wouldn’t make it. That pretty much left Gingrich for those who don’t much care for either candidate, and the supporters of those two to root for Gingrich to fail. Facebook and Twitter lit up with conversation rivaling election night itself. Granted, some of this was likely due to the fact that “Ron Paul” is something of a fighting word for both Ron Paul detractors and supporters, but it was still pretty amazing for the night before Christmas Eve. Ultimately, around 3 a.m., word came out that Gingrich had indeed fallen short. Huzzahs rang out from those who don’t much care for Gingrich, while everyone else who doesn’t much care for Romney or Paul found themselves rather disgruntled. To add tragedy to all of this, one volunteer died in an automobile accident after a day of working to verify signatures.

So what now? Well, let’s first look at this close to home. The very first reaction to this was the first thing that comes to the mind of any loser (or to the mind of any candidate too lazy/principled to fill out paperwork *cough*AlAsbury*cough*): Write-in Time! However, despite the fact that it is discussed every time a primary comes up, write-ins are not allowed in Virginia primaries. Newt Gingrinch, a Virginia voter, was out of the loop on this, along with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who suggested such a thing in his post-Christmas newsletter. What’s left for Gingrich? Well, there could be a legal challenge, but the Washington Post talked to observers who suggest this as unlikely. The other possibility would be an emergency change in election law that would allow write-ins. But the RTD notes this too is a problem: the GA doesn’t convene until Jan 11th, and ballots must be printed by Jan 21st. Emergency legislation requires a supermajority of (updated) four fifths–32 Senators, and 60 80 Delegates. Those are high barriers, and with a very slim Republican majority based solely on the fact we hold the LG’s chair, very unlikely to be reached.

Read more…

LFSWCD Elects Officers

December 20, 2011 Leave a comment

The Winchester Star had the below article on the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District’s officers election. As my term does not begin until the first of January, I did not have a vote in this matter, but I look forward to working with all of the officers listed below:

Chairman: Richard Hoover (Elected, Warren County)
Vice Chairman: Marcus “Bubby “Adams (Elected, Frederick County)
Treasurer: Bud Naglevort (Elected, Clarke County)
Secretary: Amanda Campbell (Secretary, Staff)

Richard W. Hoover, who has served on the commission as the Warren County director since 2007, will head the panel.
District directors coordinate local, regional and national conservation efforts – both public and private – as well as administering technical assistance funds and promoting education programs to protect water quality and reduce water pollution.
Hoover is chairman of the Avtex Superfund Site Committee and serves as the Lord Fairfax District’s representative to the Pure Water Forum. He also heads its Personnel Committee.

Frederick County Director Marcus “Bubby” Adams Jr., who was first elected to the district board in 2004, was selected as vice-chairman. The full-time farmer chairs the Conservation Technical Committee and serves on the Personnel Committee.

Clarke County Director Bernard “Bud” Nagelvoort was re-elected treasurer. He was elected to the board in 1999, and is a past district chairman.Nagelvoort chairs both the Legislative and Finance committees and serves on the Conservation Technical Committee.

Amanda Campbell, district administrative assistant, was re-elected secretary. She has been employed by the district since 1985.

Tomorrow I’ll be getting up information about an upcoming public informational meeting on the District’s two dams, Birdhaven and Lake Laura, both of which are located right here in Shenandoah County.

Selecting A Second (POLL)

December 19, 2011 1 comment

The biggest political news in Virginia over the last few weeks has been the emerging primary between Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Well, to a certain degree….that story is slowly being overtaken by talk of the Governor’s agenda for the upcoming General Assembly Session and the upcoming Presidential Primary (though if Virginia will have much impact right now is anybody’s guess).

However, a new survey from Public Policy Polling (a Democrat leaning firm in North Carolina) put the conversation back in the news. Right now, Cuccinelli has a tentative lead over Bolling, 44% to 25%. A few issues with this poll–one, they use automated polling, rather than live interviews. Two, there’s no indication in the toplines that there was any real attempt at geographic weighting. One big issue right now for Bolling is that he simply doesn’t seem to generate much attention from the GOP faithful, despite having been in the limelight for the last seven years, stemming back to his first run for his current job. While his net favorable is +24%, 52% of primary voters don’t have an opinion of him. This compares to Cuccinelli’s net +41%, with 27% not having an opinion. However, Bolling is already attempting to heighten his profile, starting with this WaPo profile on his new role as the state’s “part-time decider” (referring to his new role as the tie breaking vote in the State Senate). Meanwhile, Cuccinelli has fired back at some of the key criticisms of his decision in an email to supporters shared at Bearing Drift.

So all that’s going on….but what about the race for the silver medal? That is to say, what about the Lt. Governor’s race? Right now, the other race ginning up alot of attention is Bell v. Obenshain v. Fairfax Circuit Court Clerk John Frey for Attorney General. Historically, here in Virginia, Attorney General has been the preferred stepping stone to the Gubernatorial nomination, but that all really depends on just how things play out in the general. If your AG candidate lose but the LG wins, then they suddenly find themselves in the catbird seat. Given that Virginia has few statewide offices compared to neighboring states, its not a bad place to be if your aspirations eventually head in the direction of the Governor’s mansion. So, naturally, the position tends to draw stiff competition, even if, statutorily speaking, its pretty dang boring (though most LGs preside over the Senate more actively than their federal counterparts and McDonnell has given Bolling more duties to Bolling than usual, the primary duty is still the macabre responsibility of waiting for the unthinkable to happen).

So, who wants this possible diamond in the rough? Here’s the rumored/announced contenders so far:

Announced On the precipice of announcing, but not quite yet…..

  • Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart–So far Stewart is the only announced candidate for Lt. Governor. Corey has been making the rounds for several years around the state and already earned a great deal of cachet through his localities efforts on illegal immigration. He would not be the first local elected to make the leap from county politics to the state level (his predecessor, Sean Connaughton, ran for the position in 2005), but he’s probably the best positioned, coming from a key locality for statewide campaigns. He also carries less of the baggage that weighed down Connaughton in terms of fiscal issues. Furthermore, Stewart is also guaranteed to shake up the debate on localities versus the state in a way that Warrenton Mayor George Fitch failed to do in his quixotic 2005 Gubernatorial campaign. UPDATE: Corey isn’t exactly announced, but he’s definitely way more “in the game” than the rest of the field. So I’ll keep him separated from the rest of the bunch with the caveat that he’s not announced–but he’s more or less running.

Rumored

  • Keith Fimian–Mr. Fimian has twice been the GOP nominee against now Congressman Gerry Connolly (formerly Fairfax County Chairman). Fimian came very close to an upset in 2010, but alas, no cigar. However, he still has a large following and certainly would start out with some strength in 2010–something that would make the roadmap more difficult for Stewart. However, Fimian won’t start with much of a base outside of the 11th unless he really steps up his operation over the next twelve months, and as a two time loser may have an image problem to overcome. Still, he’s a dynamic figure and one to watch at this stage.
  • Pete Snyder–Mr. Snyder is the founder of New Media Strategies, an Arlington based social media firm. He recently left the firm to start a venture capital firm, Disruptor Capital, and to head RPV’s Victory 2012 program. Snyder is certainly well known within professional political circles, but less-so-amongst rank and file activists. However, he has strong business ties (ones that will only get stronger with his new venture) and his part in the Victory program will bring him a higher profile over the next year. Again, his NOVA ties are a plus. However, his part in the Victory program could possibly be as much a hinderance as a help, as there will likely be pressure for him not to be campaigning while trying to win Virginia for the GOP.
  • Ed Gillespie–Former RPV, RNC, and McDonnell for Governor chair, Gillespie has a long, long history of Republican political work. He’s going to bring not only political expertise to the table but also financial ties and likely a top notch management team. Gillespie won’t likely be able to bank on NOVA ties as much as the aforementioned candidates. He’s one of those Beltway types who lives in Virginia because, well, what professional Republican wants to live in Maryland (Sorry Krystle, but if its any consolation, I still want Crabs for Christmas)
  • Senator Jeff McWaters–I’ve gotta admit, I’m somewhat in the dark on McWaters, other than he won a special election for the seat of now Sheriff Ken Stolle down in VA Beach. Also, he’s earned a 92% rating from the American Conservative Union–not shabby. It would be a big jump to go from one and change terms in the State Senate to a statewide bid–right now, I imagine the talk is driven largely by the lack of other contenders from that part of the state. But he’s not a horrible fundraiser and was certainly generous with his money in 2011, so we shall see.

So that’s the field right now. I have them all included in the poll above, so vote away….well, them plus one. Right now, as a wild card, I’m including Delegate Ben Cline. Why? A few reasons. One, although is pretty much assumed that Delegate Cline is the heir apparent to Congressman Goodlatte, Goodlatte is pretty young in Congressional terms–he could conceivably serve another decade or so, so long as he beats off his upcoming primary challenge (and right now that seems like a good bet). Cline has a leadership PAC (although its seen little activity), and he hosted a hospitality suite at the Advance this year. He’s put himself through law school since he started his run in the House. I’d be surprised if Cline, a young comer by any account, sits still for too long–it’d be curious for someone to go from LG to Congress, but hey, stranger things have happened. At just 39 Cline certainly has room to grow, so hey, why not?

I suspect that the field we discuss now will not be the one we end up with in June of 2013. I suspect a Richmond based candidate will pop up, and I would be very surprised in that many NOVA based candidates stay in. In 2005 there were 5 candidates flirting with LG at one time or another but only 2 ended up on the ballot. It’s a big task getting on the statewide primary ballot (ask Emmet Hanger), so we’ll revisit this later. For now, though, have fun, and include any additional rumors you’ve heard in the comments.

Taking the Oath

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Today, I officially began my service as one of Shenandoah County’s two Directors for the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District. Well, semi-officially. I’ve already sat in on several committee and board meetings, but it was today that I received my certificate of election and took the Oath of Office at the Shenandoah County Circuit Court. However, my term of office does not begin until January 1st, 2012. This is the oath that I took upon my late grandfather Roy Orndorff’s bible:

I do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge all the duties incumbent upon me as a Director of the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District according to the best of my ability.

Although this is an office that is often overlooked and rarely discussed, even by fanatic followers of local politics, I take my oath very seriously–which is why I wanted to share this with anyone who may happen to stumble upon or follow this blog. This is also the reason that I am using this blog as a source of information about my duties as a Director. I strongly believe that elected officials, regardless of the level or prominence of their office, have a duty to fully inform the public about the actions that they conduct on behalf of the people.

I am humbled by the support of Shenandoah County’s voters and look forward to my service on their behalf. I’ll be adding and updating information here over the next few days to reflect this new step on my life’s journey. Later tonight, I’ll also share some information about upcoming board activities.

GUEST POST: President Obama, please put JOBS under the Christmas tree this year

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment
What follows is a guest post from Melody Himel Scalley, a talk radio host from the Eastern Shore. Although I have some concerns about just how we should go about extracting the multitude of resources (both oil and alternative sources) that the Old Dominion rests upon, I do believe that a great deal of opportunity lies there and that a true comprehensive energy plan MUST be part of the dialogue on any discussion regarding the economy. So with no further ado:
President Obama, please put JOBS under the Christmas tree this year
by Melody Himel Scalley

Unless you have a high paying government job, and even if you do, you are probably well aware that the majority of American’s are deeply impacted by the ongoing devastation to the United States economy since President Obama took office.

While overall the unemployment rate hovers close to 9%, minority unemployment remains consistently near 15% and these figures show no indication of significant improvement in the near future.  Meanwhile, the current administrations lack of a positive Energy Policy is not only hamstringing companies that could add much needed AMERICAN JOBS to the economy; it is also compromising our long term national security and unnecessarily delaying our economic recovery.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently released a report that shows the U.S. is on track to actually export a net increase in gasoline, diesel and other oil-based fuels in 2011 for the first time in 62 years.  This is due to the fact that while our economy is stalled, the economy in emerging markets is booming.  However these record exports are not forecast to continue.  EIA is also predicting domestic oil production will fall 240,000 barrels/day through 2012, mainly due to the continued Gulf “energy freeze” imposed by our current administration.

The United States has the highest standards for environmental protection in the free world.  Other countries do not endeavor to protect the environment for future generations as we do, yet their lack of concern for the environment will affect all of us.  We have the desire to be good stewards of the environment as well as the technology to extract our resources in a safe and efficient manner.  The U.S. also has the most stringent work place safety requirements of any nation.  We have the energy resources right here within our borders.    If President Obama wanted to put American’s back to work he has an entire industry waiting for the green light to help him turn around our economy.

I grew up in New Orleans and my Dad worked on the oil rigs.  I can attest first hand that oil industry jobs keep food on the table, the lights on and the rent paid.  If we simply used the God-given resources we have in our great Nation, many American’s would not be needlessly losing their homes and struggling to keep their lights on and their families fed.

We still import over half of our oil and petroleum products.  Instead of selling our debt to China we should be selling our OIL to China and reducing our national debt.  We do not lack the resources in America.  What we lack is leadership and the political will to demand our administration put forward an energy policy that is beneficial to Americans and the United States.  Let’s start the New Year on the right path.  It is time to resume drilling within American borders and stop exporting American jobs.

Melody Himel Scalley is an entrepreneur and talk-radio show host in Virginia.

Books and the Ballotbox (Poll Included)

December 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Ah, the joys of campaigning. There’s many things to love about it….meeting new people, the rush of contacting voters, putting up signs and handing out bumperstickers. There’s one thing, though, I’ve never really loved: the quaddrenial rush of books from presidential contenders. There’s a few reasons I’ve come to loathe this. Largely, I feel bad for not reading them, even though most of them are just filled with ghostwritten pablum that differs little from the candidate’s stump speeches. I don’t read as quick as I used to, but with all these candidates, even if you are a fast reader, that’s still alot of time. Then there’s the whole thing of actually shelling out $30 if you want to read them before their author is little more than an afterthought in the race…..(I’m not on the Kindle train yet)

Apparently, somebody reads them, though. There was much ballyhooing about Cain’s book a little bit ago, how it appeared his campaign was more book tour than campaign. Now, the New York Times notes the same thing about Newt:

Even as he widens his lead in the polls, Newt Gingrich spends substantial time on an activity that raised questions about his ultimate motive when he was a back-of-the-pack candidate: selling and signing $25 copies of his books.

As his primary foe, Mitt Romney, and the White House intensify their efforts to negatively define Mr. Gingrich, his sole public event on Friday is at a bookstore in Washington. On Saturday he flies to Des Moines for a Republican debate but plans to squeeze in an afternoon book-signing.

Experienced campaign strategists cannot recall a top-tier contender devoting so much time to pitching products while seeking the White House. Mitt Romney, who also has a book out, has never sold it while stumping, his campaign said. President Obama, a best-selling author in 2007, did not incorporate sales events into campaign appearances, according to a spokesman for his re-election committee.

Mr. Gingrich’s devotion to book-selling, Republican strategists said, raises questions about the propriety of a candidate who is generating personal income while seeking the White House, as well as whether he is making the optimum use of limited campaign time.

There’s certainly plenty to talk about here, but let’s face it–Newt has spent the last twelve years or so as a political entrprenuer, starting organizations here, shilling a book there, appearing on this or that news network. I’m sure its a hard habit to break. And of course, Newt has always been a prolific writer (or the one whose name is on the jacket, at least), having written 21 some odd books throughout his career (some of which one intrepid New York Times Magazine author dared to read).

But what about candidates that are new to the writing game? Well, not so hot for Michele Bachmann (h/t Political Wire):

Michele Bachmann’s weak poll numbers may be showing up in slow sales of her memoir, Core of Conviction. In the two weeks since the book was released, it’s sold just 3,000 copies despite a media blitz and numerous book-signing events by Bachmann.

Those numbers come from Nielsen BookScan, which gets the information directly from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and most other retailers. The company estimates its sales numbers capture 75 percent of the book market although it currently does not get information from discount retailers Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club.

As of 5 PM ET on Wednesday, the book ranked 4,200 on Amazon’s bestseller list, although it ranked 62 on the site’s political bestseller list.

Ouch. It’s hard to judge how well her book is doing–sooooo many books are published in America that the average per book is around 500 copies (keep in mind that we’re talking about a really wide range of numbers here, so the average isn’t all that great of a statistic). But the fact that its not even intriguing readers of political books indicates that Bachmann’s book is not breaking through.

Honestly, not only is it not that important (trot out old “x’s don’t vote” trope here), but its not all that uncommon. If you really want to read any of these books after their shelf-life, I suggest in about nine months you head down to the Green Valley Book Fair, where they’ll be available for about $5/pound (ok, so they don’t sell them by the pound, but on average you’ll be paying about $3-5 per title)

Basically, there’s five kinds of political books

  • The reporting/history book–usually written by a third party shortly after or around the time of the events in question (“What It Takes”). A subset of these books may fall more in line with the history genre (The Last Campaign, about either the 1948 Election or RFK’s 1968 campaign, depending on which one of these same titled books you pick up) but still are plenty interesting for politicos
  • The kiss-off/tell all–written by an ex-administration official or someone who played a pivotal role in the events in question–you know, your Scott McCllellans of the world. Some my be polite, like Christie Todd Whitman, but even she had a critique in there
  • The campaign book–written by people who are actively running for office or considering it. Most are ghostwritten (see above)
  • The policy book–closely related to the campaign book, but written by someone who may not be seeking higher office in the near future but is trying to build support for their policies (Think “Young Guns” here)
  • The memoir–written by former officeholders. Usually written by the subject, but likely polished by a professional author (“Decision Points”, “My Life”)

Again, very few of these books have a very long shelf life. Probably the ones that last the longest are the memoirs and the history books, because they’ll be of interest long after the fact. The others, however, don’t tend to lend too much to either political professionals or historians, so don’t be surprised if they don’t see additional print runs.

So what say you, dear readers? Add categories in the comments, and chime in with the polls below about your political reading habits.