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Newt “Hollywood” Gingrich

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m not a trained historian, at least in the sense of one current presidential candidate. I do not hold a PhD or even a Masters in the subject. But I do consider myself something of an amateur historian and do possess some historical training and experience, as a former schoolteacher and museum employee. I read quite a bit on a number of historical topics. One particular interest of mine is the Cold War era. I particularly enjoy viewing this through the contemporary media and pop culture of the period.

In the 1980s there were a number of films that considered the after-effects or on-set of a nuclear exchange between the superpowers. Some were primarily focused on the aftermath: Threads and The Day After are two infamous films that look at the toll on society and individuals that would ensue after such an exchange. These films also looked at the conditions that might lead to such an exchange. They tended to have a largely anti-nuclear, left-leaning message.

One film focused more on the lead-up and did so in a fascinating way. The 1984 Canadian produced Countdown to Looking Glass, which originally aired on HBO on October 14th of that year, considers the scenario of an economic collapse leading to Soviet puppet states springing up in the Middle East, particularly Oman. The U.S. sends troops to Saudi Arabia and Oman responds with a blockcade in the Strait of Hormuz. Soviets deploy submarines in the region as shots are exchanged on a variety of fronts. Things come to a head when the Omanis and the US exchange fire, resulting in the loss of an Omani gunboat. A Soviet sub is tracked under the Nimitz, and eventually nukes are exchanged. We’re left with the President and his closest advisors boarding the Looking Glass, an airborne command center and the very real possibility of an all-out strategic nuclear exchange.

What makes the film so compelling is that the events are portrayed through a mock newscast. The producers purposely added dramatic scenes and used compressed time (i.e. several days of events presented over the 1 hour 26 minutes of the film), but the newscast aspect lends a great deal of authenticity and really captures the paranoia and anxiety of the era. They also used real pundits and politicians, such as Eric Sevareid and Senator Eugene McCarthy. It does a fairly good job of staying somewhat neutral while still capturing the immensity of the potential situation.

Also appearing in the film is a young, telegenic Congressman from the state of Georgia. At the time he was a right-wing back-bench bomb thrower who was quickly making a name for himself. A committed Cold Warrior, he makes numerous references to past history and hails Winston Churchill.

You might know him. It’s former Speaker and current GOP Presidential candidate Newton Leroy Gingrich.

It’s been a while since I viewed the film, but I believe Newt appears twice from what I remember He appears at around 6:20 in this clip from the first third:

And at about 6:42 in this clip from the last third:

Newt isn’t exactly a Hollywood star like, say, former Senator Fred Thompson. But he has appeared in a variety of films, mostly documentaries. But in 1995 he did have a cameo appearance in an episode of Murphy Brown. Check out the former Speaker’s full Hollywood credits here.

As an aside, I strongly suggest you check out Countdown to Looking Glass. It may not have the power it once did, but it still pulls up a whole lot of emotions.

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Reagan on Newt, Romney

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

In last night’s CNN debate in South Carolina, Mitt Romney made mention that both Newt Gingrich and George Romney, Mitt’s father, were mentioned in The Reagan Diaries and claimed that Newt was mentioned only once and that Reagan thought he had a bad idea. Welp, I happen to have a copy of the Diaries, so here for you to judge for yourself is both the entry on Newt from 1983:

Monday, January 3rd
[Staff and NSC meetings; calls from congressional leadership.]
A tough budget meeting & how to announce the deficits we’ll have–they are horrendous and yet the Dems. in Cong. are saying there is no room for budgett cuts. Met with a group of young Repub. Congressmen. Newt Gingrich has a proposal for freezing the budget at the 1983 level. It’s a tempting idea except that it would cripple our defense program. And if we make an exception on that every special interest group will be asking for the same.

And actually TWO mentions on George Romney in 1984:

Friday, June 22
…..
In the Rose Garden after lunch I met with representatives of the Internation Youth Year Commission. Then a meeting with Sec. Schultz, mainly on the Soviet situation. No break through but further evidence that they aren’t quite sure which way they want to go. George Romney came by, he is heading up a part of our Pvt. Sector Initiative called “Volunteer.” He’s interested in possibly a special medal for outstanding volunteers. I’m rather inclined to think maybe they should be formally included in the presentation of Medals of Freedom. Did a portrait session with mike Evans & then off to  Camp David. Got there in time for a swim.

And on June 1986, there’s a mention that Reagan attended a luncheon for volunteer action group led by George Romney. Note that I only own the abridged edition edited by Douglas Brinkley–the Reagan Library sells the unabridged edition. There’s likely more on Romney there. In this edition, Ron Paul was not mentioned, nor was Rick Santorum, naturally, as Santorum was not elected to Congress until 1990, after the end of Reagan’s term.

I’m not going to go now and track down everything Ronald Reagan ever said about these four, if anything. Just wanted to clarify the historical record to the best of my ability.

Dennis Morris to hold Precinct Meeting

January 18, 2012 Leave a comment

Shenandoah County Supervisor Dennis Morris (R-Dist. 5) will be holding a precinct meeting on Thursday, January 26th at the Toms Brook Volunteer Fire Department. The Fire Hall is located at 3342 South Main Street in Toms Brook. (Map and directions here) District Five consists of Toms Brook, Lebanon Church, and Cedar Creek precincts.

The meeting appears to be primarily for the purposes of discussing the state of County EMS and Fire Services, as Gary Yew, the county’s Fire Chief, will be speaking. Refreshments will be served. For more information, you can call (540) 436-9149.

 

Agenda for January 12th, 2012 LFSWCD Meeting

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment

On Thursday I’ll be attending my first meeting of the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District Board as one of Shenandoah County’s two voting members. Before each meeting I’ll be posting the agenda here. Also available here are the LFSWCD December 2011 Draft Minutes and LFSWCD January 2012 Meeting Reports from other departments that we work with. I’m not posting them verbatim due to the size, but there they are available for download should you be interested. Note that last month’s minutes are a draft and do not constitute the official record until approved at Thursday’s meeting. After Thursday’s meeting I’ll post notes from the meeting.
10:00           CALL TO ORDER

INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS

10:15     1.   MINUTES OF DECEMBER MEETING

10:20     2.   TREASURER’S REPORT

10:25     3.   CHAIR’S REPORT

10:40    4.    LORD FAIRFAX SWCD REPORTS (Additions to written reports)

  • Conservation Technical Specialist – Pete Benedetto
    Conservation Technician – Jed Rau
    Conservation Technician – Sam Truban
    Conservation Easements – Jim Lawrence
    Conservation Technical – Marcus Adams
    Dam Safety   – Lauck Walton
    Education & Information – Mary Gessner
    Erosion & Sediment Control – HB Simpson
    Finance – Bud Nagelvoort
    Legislative – Bud Nagelvoort
    NSVRC Water Resources Advisory Committee – Wayne Webb
    Personnel – Richard Hoover
    Pure Water Forum – Craig Orndorff
    Royal Phoenix Easement Committee – Richard Hoover
    Shenandoah Resource Conservation & Dev. Council – Joan Comanor
    Shenandoah County Water Resources Advisory Committee – Henry Staudinger

11:10     5.    COOPERATING AGENCY REPORTS (Additions to written reports)

  • NRCS, Natural Resource Conservation                       Mike Liskey
    DCR, Conservation District Coordinator                      DebbieCross
    VA. Cooperative Extension Representative                Jake Grove
    VA. Department of Forestry Representative              Joe Lehnen/Justin Barnes
    Va. Dept. of Environmental Quality Representative  Bob Peer
  • Martha Shickle – Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Planning Commission –Chesapeake Bay Remedial Program

12:00              ADJOURN

The Saga Continues: The AG Race (POLL INCLUDED)

Movie franchises work best in threes. Comedy has its own rule of threes. And here in Virginia, we have three statewide elected officials elected in the year between the presidential and midterm elections. So, of course, I feel like I have to complete my own trilogy of posts about the state of the race for 2013. As has been said by me and plenty others, much is in flux right now, and this isn’t even the biggest race on the radar. Those, of course, are the US Senate Race and the Presidential election, for which the GOP will need all hands on deck next year to prevail in. However, as we recently saw with the discussions over the presidential primary ballot requirements and the “loyalty oath” issue for said primary, these races are definitely coloring how people are approaching the 2012 races. So, since we’ve already gotten a feel for where we’re at for the Governor and LG races, why not go for a threepeat?

A caution–let us not read too much into any results I have to offer. If anything, the only thing internet polls are good for are for giving us a slight idea of who has the best organized and motivated people. That, and just who reads what blogs. (My readers/acquaintances seem to be more Bolling fans than Cuccinelli fans, given that my poll results were the inverse of Bearing Drifts) But, in a number driven business, they’re just fun too, so why not?

Your Contenders

Announced

  • Delegate Robert Bell–Bell is starting his fifth term in Richmond as a Delegate representing a Piedmont based district, with territory in Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna and just a chunk of Rockingham Counties. (This makes for an interesting race, as that means two candidates represent parts of the same locality) Bell was first elected in 2001 and has represented a “purplish” district–mostly due to the Albemarle based precincts but has consistently done well. Bell’s ambition has been known for a long time, but this cycle marks his first clear shot at the brass ring. Bell has often been considered one of the “young guns” of the General Assembly (though at forty four, he’s just five years younger than another candidate). He’s married with two young children. Bell has been a pretty reliable conservative in the General Assembly, but some of his legislative agenda has tended towards strengthening laws and regulations–something that may not play well with the current libertarian leanings predominant amongst many Virginia GOP activists. Bell chairs the powerful Criminal subcomittee, which handles a large chunk of legislation that comes through the GA each year. Additionally, Bell is a former prosecutor, something that’s always a plus (though not a necessity) in this race. Bell is also a pretty formidable fundraiser.
  • Fairfax Circuit Court Clerk John Frey–Frey, the three term clerk of the combined Fairfax and Fairfax Circuit Courts, is something of an unknown entity to many activists–even a few in Northern Virginia. However, from what I had learned about Frey, he certainly brings an interesting angle to things. For one, he’s not in any real way tied to Richmond as it is, and I think we can expect him to talk alot about the relationship between the state and localities, a tack that will likely also be taken by Corey Stewart in the AG’s race. Additionally, he brings the sort of executive experience that Bell and Obenshain don’t quite have, running an office of more than one hundred fifty employees with a budget of $11 million. I’m not sure about Frey’s experience as a lawyer nor his fundraising abilities, but it’ll be interesting to learn more, as he’s attempting a path that hasn’t been successful on the GOP side since Jim Gilmore won the AG slot in 1993 (going from local to statewide office).

“Exploring”

  • State Senator Mark Obenshain–Right now Obenshain is said to be “exploring” a run for Attorney General, but he has launched a committee specifically for this race and its said that an official announcement is forthcoming–he’s in. Obenshain is embarking on his third term in the State Senate. Obenshain has twice handily dispatched opponents in this rock solid red district, and in 2011 no one even bothered running against him. Obenshain has been a stalwart conservative in a Senate that was, earlier in the last decade, more under the influence of moderates. Obenshain has a reputation as a fighter but also as somebody who can get things done. Obenshain has been a decent fundraiser, but compared to Bell, he’s never had the real need to raise a huge chunk of coin to get the job done. Obenshain is more closely linked to Cuccinelli than Bell, the two having been close in the State Senate, and therefore may draw many of Cuccinelli’s supporters, but Obenshain has clearly stated his neutrality in the Governor’s race. It certainly doesn’t hurt, either, that Obenshain is the son of a party legend, former RPV Chair and 1978 Senate Nominee the late Richard Obenshain (who died in a air crash during the campaign and was replaced on the ticket by now Former Senator John Warner). I’m not sure but I don’t believe Obenshain has any prosecutorial experience but is regularly named one of Virginia’s “Legal Elite” by Virginia Business Magazine. Obenshain has two children in college, is married, and is 49.

Possible Candidates

  • Former Arlington School Board Chair Dave Foster–Foster ran in 2009 and came in third at the convention to Cuccinelli and Brownlee on the first (and only) ballot. Foster’s primary claim to fame is as a member of the Arlington County School Board (0nce as chair) and is regularly touted as a figure who can break the Democratic stranglehold in that region (although the School Board is non-partisan). Foster raised a decent amount of money in the AG’s race last time but never really gained any traction, squeezed by Cuccinelli’s strident conservative legislative accomplishments and Brownlee’s tough on crime rhetoric. Foster has remained active, hosting hospitality suites at recent Advances. Foster’s biggest appeal was and is as a Republican in deep blue territory–but last time he wasn’t the only one, with Cuccinelli in the mix, and this time he won’t be the only one either if Frey does indeed make it to the primary. Foster may instead make the race to replace now-State Senator Barbara Favola on the Arlington Board of Supervisors, but the guy’s scrappy–if he takes a pass on that, and its looking very likely, then we’ll have a better idea of where he’s leaning.
  • Former US District Attorney John Brownlee–Brownlee could make the race again, having placed second to Cuccinelli at the 2009 State Convention. Brownlee is many a consultant’s perfect storm candidate–a veteran, a tough on crime prosecutor, young, great looks. However, Brownlee, despite his sterling prosecutorial credentials, never really made a strong case against the Cooch and managed to lose a good chunk of the rural counties, supposedly his strongest area as he served in the Western District in Roanoke. Still, Brownlee was a pretty decent fundraiser and pulled in some pretty good supporters, but don’t count him out yet. However, keep in mind that a GOP win in November could lead to different opportunities for Brownlee…..

So there’s your slate, folks. Vote above, with the usual choices (all of the above mentioned plus undecided and someone else). Feel free to share any further thoughts or candidates in the comments below.

Virginia No-Till Alliance Conference on February 7th

As SWCD Director, I often receive notices for conferences and meetings on a wide variety of agricultural and environmental topics hosted by the commonwealth’s SWCDs and their governmental and non-profit partners (which, as I’m quickly learning, are too numerous to list here). As many of my constituents are farmers or otherwise involved in the agricultural industry, I’ll be sharing them here from time to time. I know my readers are a mix of politicos and constituents (probably the latter mostly for right now), but as I continue my service I’ll be using this platform equally to inform my constituents about the activities of the board as well as my regular writing. So without further ado:

The Virginia No-Till Alliance will be presenting a conference on no-till practices at several sites around the commonwealth in February. The closest one to Shenandoah County will be at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds on February 7th, 2012 from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Without going into a great deal of technical detail, no-till farming is essentially a method of crop production that does not disturb soil through a variety of practices, therefore increasing water and nutrient content in the soil and decreasing erosion. For more on the practice, this article from Wikipedia is a relatively good overview.

If you wish to attend the conference, RSVP with the Rockingham County Cooperative Extension Office by January 30th by calling 540-564-3080. For more information about what will be offered at the conference, see their brochure here. To learn more about conference speakers visit the alliance’s website here.

 

 

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