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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…

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Coburn unveils Stimulus Silliness

December 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Via the Cato Institute we learn that the Senate’s often provocative fiscal watchdogs, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Senator John McCain of Arizona, have released a new 100 page report detailing some of the sadly goofy uses of stimulus funds. Some of the lowlights of your (and your children’s, and their children’s) tax dollars at play work include:

  • “Almost Empty” Mall Awarded Energy Grant ($5 million)
  • Water Pipeline to a Money-Losing Golf Course ($2.2 million)
  • Grant to Fund Search for Fossils . . . In Argentina ($1.57 million)
  • Bobber the Water Safety Dog Costumes ($21,116)
  • Developing the Next Generation of Football Gloves ($150,000)

And so much more.

The always hilarious Norm points out that some of the projects lead to this being a “stimulus” in more ways than one:

The National Institute of Health (NIH) is using stimulus funds to pay for a year-long $219,000 study to follow female college students for a year to determine whether young women are more likely to ― “hookup” — the college equivalent of casual sex — after drinking alcohol. Researchers will recruit 500 female students prior to their first year of college and contact them monthly over the course of a year to document sexual hookups, noting when there is alcohol involved. It is part of the $7.4 billion the NIH received in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support ―scientific research.

Maybe with all that TARP money rolling back in U.S. Senator Mark Warner and his Dem cronies can set up yet another package to help me get a date….

Our Man Mitch?

December 3, 2009 1 comment

For someone who recently has begun making sport out of saying no to a possible presidential bid, Mitch Daniels sure is making a heck of alot of sense whenever he does speak (though some may argue that commonsense’s natural momentum is away from those seeking higher office). From the Washington Times (h/t Brothers Judd), Daniels of fiscal conservatism as a moral issue:

“The essence of our nation is the protection of individual liberties,” he says in an interview with The Washington Times. “That means, for example, never take a dollar from a free citizen through the coercion of taxation without a very legitimate purpose.

“And then we have a solemn duty to spend that dollar as carefully as possible, because when we took it we diminished that person’s freedom. Otherwise, that citizen could spend that dollar on something he or she chose. This is an obligation of everybody who serves in government.”

On the issues any 2012 contender will need to address:

For one thing, “a colossally unsustainable [national] debt load — an unfair, even immoral burden we’ve deposited on our young people,” he says.

“The threat of Islamic fundamentalism coupled with its ability to take advantage of modern technology,” for another.

And then there’s “our reliance on energy purchased from people who use the money in ways contrary to American interests.”

And perhaps most refreshing–modesty and austerity (a topic he gave an entire commencement address on this past spring):

A Princeton graduate from a modest family background, he conveys in conversation the image of the quiet-spoken libertarian-populist for whom braggadocio is simply unthinkable. Getting him to talk about his accomplishments isn’t easy. “I want to look to the future,” he says.

….

Ask him to crow about his gubernatorial accomplishments, and he flatly refuses. Press him by asking if there’s anything he’s proud of having done in office, and you learn he is “pleased” he took a state that was in bankruptcy when he came into office “and put it in the best fiscal position ever,” though he acknowledges that holding on to that status is tough in this economy.

The article goes on to cite some of his accomplishments as Governor. He has been able to govern the way Bob McDonnell promises to–conservative principles guiding real results. Through initatives such as privatizing the state’s toll roads and keeping an eye on state payroll (actually managing to REDUCE it, of all things), Daniels has been able to cut property taxes by a third statewide and affect the largest tax cut in state history.

Perhaps his biggest watchword? Accountability. The state’s DMV went from being a joke to winning an award for the best in the nation. The average time spent in an office is SEVEN MINUTES. How was this accomplished? By rewarding good employees and punishing or removing bad ones. Sorta sounds like a business, no? Yet Mitch Daniels seems to be the only one with the courage to do it.

I encourage any conscientious conservative serious about cutting government size and scope to look into this man.  I will admit he has one mark against him–in his first year in office he proposed a 1% income tax hike. But when the state legislature balked, he simply took out his scissors and not only made state government work with less but work better. His humility may prevent him from talking about higher office, but one things for sure: I’d rather spend the next two years convincing him to run only to see him decline than to jump on the Cheney 2012 bandwagon.

A Big Win for Transparency

December 3, 2009 Leave a comment

It pains, PAINS me to write this–but kudos to Madame Speaker Pelosi for putting the itemized expenditures of every member of Congress online. The document, know as Statement of Disbursements of the House, has been published by law since 1964. This is the first year, however, that it has been posted online.

Virginia Watchdog posted this first and notes some curious expenditures. I have not gone through the items line by line and probably will not. It’s hard to tell who’s the worst/best spenders in Congress, given that Congressmen are all over the country with different needs in regard to how often they go home or communicate with constituents, but it’s still comforting to see this information out there for public consumption.

Now if only these practices would trickle down to the local level…..

Virginia to Yoga Instuctors: Get regulated or get going

December 3, 2009 Leave a comment

I wrote yesterday about how the outgoing Governor and the General Assembly were less than friendly to business when they eliminated resturants right to choose whether they would be smoking or not. Now, via Norm at TQ, we discover they have a new target: yoga instructors.

I can certainly understand the state regulating certain instructors of certain skills–doctors, lawyers, barbers, and a few other where health, safety and comptence are paramount. But they way the law is written would seem to indicate that guitar and piano instructors should be regulated too. After all, isn’t teaching someone how to make music teaching them a way to make money as well?

Saxman Advising McDonnell on Education

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment

Soon-to-be Former Delegate Chris Saxman will be advising the McDonnell administration on public education, according to the News Virginian via SWACGirl. Saxman’s retirement took many by surprise–including yours truly, whose territory included Saxman’s seat in the House of Delegates. Saxman had been eyed as many as a possible contender for Lt. Governor in 2009 before Bill Bolling made the race. He also briefly considered a run for the GOP nod for United States Senate against Jim Gilmore. From the NV:

Saxman, R-Staunton, said he and former Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Bosher will spend the next month reviewing personnel, programs and criteria at the Virginia Department of Education before issuing a report to McDonnell on Jan. 4.

Saxman said his review could entail how to work on McDonnell’s plan for additional charter schools in a time of lean state budgets. “It’s quite an honor and a privilege to take on a transition area like K-12 education,’’ said Saxman, who has been a strong proponent of school choice during his four terms in the state House.
Saxman also said serving on the transition team would offer him an opportunity to “see how the executive branch works.”

Even before leaving the House one of Saxman’s biggest issues was educational choice. He was behind the founding of the School Choice Virginia 501(c)4 group that has made a big splash both here and in D.C.–they were upfront in the recent publicizing of data that shows the public firmly in support of school choice. The group is headed by former Saxman aide and campaign manager Whitney Duff.

Two outcomes from this announcement. One, McDonnell is giving hints of a sweeping legislative agenda to come in the next few months. Two, we haven’t seen the last of Chris Saxman. Chris is a young guy, just in his 40s. He’s also a smart and dedicated guy, willing to take big risks to get his core values time in the spotlight. I’d put money against Saxman joining the administration, but Saxman’s soapbox is now a whole lot bigger than the one he occupied in the House.

Last of the ’09 Victories

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment

From up north, from stunning news from Nassau County, New York (better known to the TV watching populace as Long Island), one of the 10 richest in the country. From the New York Times (free subscription):

Nearly three weeks after Election Day, the recount in the race for Nassau County executive is expected to conclude on Monday. Edward P. Mangano, the Republican challenger, has a slight lead over the Democratic incumbent, Thomas R. Suozzi.

Although Mr. Suozzi held a 237-vote lead on election night, out of about 245,000 ballots cast, he has trailed Mr. Mangano since the recount began on Nov. 9. As of Wednesday, with all but a handful of the ballots counted, Mr. Suozzi trailed by 217 votes. Tallying was halted for Thanksgiving and will resume on Monday morning. But the results may not be conclusive.

Although the race certainly didn’t draw a great deal of national attention, the outcome is one to pay attention to as Republicans consider how they will win back the suburban voters they won in the 80’s and 90’s but dawdled away in the earlier part of this decade. As I mentioned earlier, Nassau is one of the ten richest counties in the country, putting it in that same lofty territory as Loudon, Prince William and Fairfax counties here in our own commonwealth. For the Virginia-centric, it is also analgous to Prince William to Fairfax. Just as with Prince William, Nassau was reliably red until the dawn of the tech age*. Nassau has seen its Republican State Senators erode, and county council control shifted to the Democrats. It went for Barrack Obama with 53%, lower than Prince William’s 57% for Obama but still a solid win.

Yet, this year, like Prince William, Nassau County has gone for a candidate (though by smaller margins) that ran on core Republican principles of cutting government waste, fixing tax problems, and generally efficient government. The same can be said for all of the aforementioned exurban counties, along with the urban county of Fairfax. If Republicans want to win in 2010 and 2012, there’s something to be said for the results in Nassau County and Virginia.

*Nassau went for Clinton in 1992 but just by a slim plurality. 1996 was the first year it went solidly for a Democrat, a trend it has continued since.