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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.

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Sunday Morning Quarterbacking

December 6, 2009 Leave a comment

The first press clippings are coming out about the Advance. What’s curious is that the DPV Central Committee just happened to meet in Staunton on the same day, and writers can help but compare the two events. But first, the Advance, from the RTD:

In a celebratory mood, Virginia Republican activists hailed their conquering heroes yesterday after several years of discouraging defeats.

“Isn’t it great to have an Advance where we can actually celebrate?” said Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. “The last few years have been like wakes.”
“We’re happy, hopeful and energized,” said Del. Benjamin L. Cline, R-Amherst, who for the first time carried the college town of Lexington.

…..

McDonnell, who drew a standing ovation and loud huzzahs, spelled out why he thought the VRepublicans won: “We stuck to our conservative principles, while providing practical solutions.”

McDonnell said voters wanted solutions to the everyday economic problems confronting them, and the Republicans offered those solutions. McDonnell said that by 2014, when he leaves office as Virginia’s 71st governor, he wants Virginia to be the energy capital of the East Coast; government to be careful about spending taxpayers’ money; more “privatization, innovation and consolidation;” merit pay for teachers; and all highway rest stops reopened.

The Post was also there on Day One:

Tonight was mostly about socializing.

Republicans walked from one hospitality suite to another where they sipped drinks from open bars, munched on cheese and crackers and picked up more stickers.

Most suites were hosted by 2010 congressional candidates including Scott Rigell , Ken Golden and Ben Loyola who are vying to replace U.S. Rep. Glenn Nye (D) and Feda Kidd Morton running for U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello’s (D) seat. Keith Fimian, who is opposing U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly for a second time, also made the trip.

And Day Two:

McDonnell, visibly relaxed and seven pounds heavier since the election, individually thanked many of his supporters and volunteers.

“The Republican resurgence has begun in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” he said.

McDonnell talked about how Republicans won the election — by offering solutions to everyday problems — but his loudest applause came when he promised to uphold the conservative issues he rarely talked about on the trail.

“I was a pro-life attorney general for Virginia and I will be a pro-life governor,” he said. “I was a Second Amendment attorney general for Virginia, and I will be a Second Amendment governor.”

As I mentioned, the Dems held a meeting, but the mood wasn’t nearly the same for Creigh Deeds’ victory, I tried my best guys, I really did, I’m sorry speech. From the WaPo:

Looking rested and wearing an open collar shirt under his blazer, Deeds was greeted warmly by his fellow Democrats and spent long moments huddled with longtime senate pals Mary Margaret Whipple and Dick Saslaw. The crowd of more than 100 gave Deeds a standing ovation when Gov. Tim Kaine recognized Deeds as “one of the finest people I know in public life.”

Still, quietly, a few activists said they blame Deeds for the breadth of the party’s losses in November, believing his hesitancy to embrace the agenda of Democrats at the national level left the party unenthusiastic about his effort.

And of course, leave it up to Virginia Democrats to throw more bad after bad:

With many party members convinced November’s losses came because Democratic office seekers did not clearly enough set out policy positions that distinguished them from Republicans, the party took the unusual step of adopting a resolution on a policy issue: With little discussion the central committee voted to encourage all of Virginia’s Democratic members of Congress to support a health care reform bill that includes a public option.

Seriously?? Adopt THAT in a part of the state that CLEARLY repudiated you? When the Republicans just succesfully reamed you by showing what a charade your “reform” package is? Of course, in their words of their House leader:

“A lot of it was apprehension about what’s going on in Washington, make no mistake about it,” Armstrong said.”People say they want change–right up to the moment it shows up.”

That’s right–If I ordered a $20 dollar steak and got a bill for $100, I’d be pretty pissed off too.

But perhaps my favorite line comes from the WaPo blog’s preview of the weekend: “GOP prepares to Celebrate, Dems to Commiserate

Tim Kaine’s “Farewell Virginia, Hello Statism” Tour

November 27, 2009 Leave a comment

From Ryan Nobles at Richmond’s NBC12 comes this gem about how Governor Kaine will be spending some of his final hours in office:

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine will make a tour of a series of Restaurants on the day one of his signature legislative accomplishments goes into effect. On December 1st, Kaine will make appearances at a number of different restaurants across Virginia in honor of the first day that  Commonwealth’s ban on smoking in bars and eateries will be enforced. One of his stops will be here in Richmond. The Governor will appear at the Home Team Grill on Main Street in the Fan at 4pm.

I won’t go into length about my philosophical opposition to the smoking ban–I already did that here. But how swell is it that His Excellency is touting an increase in nanny state protections while leaving the state with a budget mess that barely covers essential services and even looks like it will leave his other landmark achievment, universal pre-K on the chopping block?

For those who smirk at my railing against statism, here’s a heartwarming Thanksgiving tale from that great bastion of nanny state thinking, Michael Bloomberg’s New York City (h/t Instapundit):

When a small church comes to the Bowery Mission bearing fried chicken with trans fat, unwittingly breaking the law, they’re told “thank you.” Then workers quietly chuck the food, mission director Tom Bastile said.

“It’s always hard for us to do,” Basile said. “We know we have to do it.” . . .

Lines at soup kitchens are up by 21 percent this year, according to a NYC Coalition Against Hunger report released yesterday. The city’s law banishing trans fat took effect in July 2008 and touched everyone with Health Department food licenses — including emergency food providers.

So come January 17th, how about just skedaddling on up to D.C. with your pal the President and work on consolidating statist thinking from the confines of the DNC? Kthanksbai.

The Death of Volunteerism?

November 25, 2009 2 comments

From GetLiberty.org and Americans for Limited Government comes this disturbing story:

Last week, Nick Balzano, an executive board member of the Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) Allentown Local 32BJ chapter resigned after threatening to file a grievance against the Allentown, PA city council for letting a Boy Scout clean up a walking path. The Scout, 17-year-old Kevin Anderson was attempting to earn an Eagle Scout badge.

As reported by Michelle Malkin in the New York Post, Balzano bellowed at a city council meeting, “We’ll also be looking into the Cub Scout or Boy Scout who did the trails. We may file another grievance on that… None of them can pick up a hoe. They can’t pick up a shovel. They can’t plant a flower. They can’t clear a bicycle path. They can’t do anything. Our people do that.”

I don’t know what’s more disturbing: the fact that the complaint was filed to begin with or that Balzano so loudly disdains people working to make the world a better simply out of the kindness of their heart. Predictably, the Union said that Balzano had no authority from them on this. However, Fox News points out that he was not alone:

According to Nerzig, the letter came from Balzano and “four or five” employees who were receiving a stipend for their service on a part-time committee, representing a few hundred Allentown workers.

Given that they’re paid employees and that others agreed with him, something within the group’s guiding principles must have driven them to do this. This is not the first instance of intimidation we’ve seen from SEIU. As ALG points out, the President confers often with their President Andy Stern and stated during a rally last year that they would paint the country purple with SEIU.

ALG also points out that the President just recently began signing Eagle Scout certificates, a long standing tradition. Given that we’re less than a year in to his administration, this could very well be a coincidence. Given that the President has already signed into law bills greatly expanding “paid service,” however, I would suspect that America’s grand tradition of helping others and individual initiative may not be part of his guiding vision for our nation.

Wither the Youth Vote?

November 24, 2009 Leave a comment

One the biggest surprises on Election Night was Bob McDonnell’s handy win over Creigh Deeds with the youth (18-29) vote–a full 10%. Pundits on the right quickly noted this. From the Weekly Standard:

McDonnell proved that a dynamic candidate with the right ideas, an active youth outreach program, and strategic use of new media technologies, Republican candidates can win the youth vote. The McDonnell campaign deserves credit for its text messaging program, the Young Professionals coalition that leveraged both fundraising and grassroots organizing, and the energy that his daughters brought to the election.The GOP needs to wake up and take note. Bob McDonnell did not invent a new way of campaigning. He was the right candidate with the right message who refused to cede Virginia’s youth to the Democrats and actually reached out to them. Republicans should take this week’s election results as a sign that the Grand Old Party still has a real opportunity to appeal to young voters.

Certainly that was great news. However, it must be pointed out that, in all likelihood, the same youth vote did not come out in 2005 that did in 2009, nor did they come out in the same numbers. In 2004 the youth vote made up 17% of the vote in Virginia; in 2008, it was 21%. In 2006 (the only other off year election I could find results for), they made up 12% of the vote. This year it was a meager 10%. Turnout amongst the bracket itself was 17% versus the 54% the year before–given the exit polls showing a strong R/conservative indy advantage, it would appear that youth voters just stayed home by and large. And with good reason, according to many on the left. From Future Majority:

He did youth outreach. I don’t know if Deeds did, but the consistent narrative around the Deeds campaign was that he wasn’t really for anything. The additional narrative I hear is that VA isn’t that Democratic.This doesn’t mean young voters have gone GOP, it means that when you put forth the effort to get young voters, you speak to their issues, and you get out the vote you get a good result. Further, when you don’t have a strong Democrat at the top of the ticket but you have a strong Republican at the top of the ticket those young Republicans or those young conservative voters turn out. From the numbers I’ve seen the students at Liberty University could have turned out and made the margin of victory for McDonnell.

So while we certainly should cheer this turnaround, it would appear that the youth vote, smaller than in previous years, more closely matched their older peers. That leaves us with the question of why youth 1) don’t turn out by and large and 2) why they tend to be liberal. And it’s not as if liberalism is a knee jerk response to being young. Indeed, the Richmond Times Dispatch that youth are perhaps those with the most to lose in the coming healthcare debate:

Comes now the House-passed health care “reform” bill that, amazingly, would extract more subsidies from the young. It mandates that health insurance premiums for older Americans be no more than twice the level of younger Americans. That’s much less than the actual health spending gap between young and old. Spending for those age 60-64 is four to five times greater than those 18-24. So, the young would overpay for insurance which — under the House bill — people must buy: 20and 30-somethings would subsidize premiums for 50and 60-somethings. (Those 65 and over receive Medicare.)

…..

Although premium changes would apply mainly to people using insurance “exchanges,” the differences would be substantial. A single person 55-64 might save $3,490, estimates an Urban Institute study. By contrast, single people in their 20s and early 30s might pay from about $600 to $1,100 more. For the young, the extra cost might be larger, says economist Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Hudson Institute, because the House bill would require them to purchase fairly generous insurance plans rather than cheaper catastrophic coverage that might better suit their needs.
Whatever the added burden, it would darken the young’s already poor economic prospects. Unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds is 19 percent. Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, notes on his blog that high joblessness depresses young workers’ wages and that the adverse effect — though diminishing — “is still statistically significant 15 years later.” Lost wages over 20 years could total $100,000. Orszag doesn’t mention that health care “reform” might compound the loss.

So what to do? I think we’re on the right path with campaigns that offer positive solutions. Some would suggest moderation is the key. From our neighbors to the South in Raleigh:

The Republican Party grew rapidly in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s in North Carolina by courting conservative Democrats.

But North Carolina has maintained the strongest Democratic Party in the South during the past decade by siphoning off moderate Starbucks Republicans.

As conservative British Prime Minister HaroldMcMillan (1957-63) once noted: “A successful party of the right must continue to recruit from the center and even from the left center. Once it begins to shrink into itself like a snail, it will be doomed.”

However, McDonnell showed this year that youth voters will buy into clear policies based on conservative principles when it hews to the voters writ large. The real test will be when the youth vote really shows up–can congressional Republicans such as the eventual nominee in the Fifth make crossroads in places like Albemarle County? Stay tuned.

The evidence is really piling up….

November 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Limited government has become the cause du jour for the right these days, after over a decade of social issues such as gay marriage and abortion driving many a campaign and cause. Certainly these issues maintain relatively high profiles (abortion has been inextricably woven into the health care debate, and gun control is still at the tip of the tounges of those warning against increased government intrusion), but these days halting government expansion is the biggest concern for conservatives. It makes sense. Many conservatives are left bemoaning the fact that too little too late was said about these issues during the Bush years, and the legendary defecits that were piled up during that era are now only being heightened by Democrats compulsion to be all things to all people.

Indeed, the much touted government intervention into our economy seems to have done little in the short term to create jobs. Indeed, government intervention in the area of unemployment is actually HURTING employers. (H/T Hot Air) From the Associated Press:

• Chuck Ferrar, who owns a liquor store in Annapolis, Md., expects to pay $9,000 in unemployment taxes next year, up from $3,000 this year. Health care costs for his employees will rise by $8,000, or 17.5 percent. “When you start adding this up, it turns into real money,” he said. “If I lose an employee through attrition, I will not replace him. You can’t afford to do it.”
• Sam Schlosser, owner of Plymouth Foundry Inc. in Plymouth, Ind., said his unemployment tax bill could double next year. Revenue at the family-owned company, which makes iron castings for machine parts, has fallen about 50 percent, he said. In case of higher taxes, his company may have to consider layoffs, he said.

Why is this the case? Because states are required to change their rates each year in accordance with the rate of unemployment. But because the economy is so deep to begin with many states are running out of cash. The real rub?:

But the severity of this recession has bankrupted many states’ trust funds and forced them to borrow from the federal government. States eventually must pay back the loans. Otherwise, the federal government can raise taxes on their businesses.

So let me get this straight–a government program that is designed to help the jobless actually puts them in a worse position by making it harder for businesses to hire? Typical interventionist logic.

The good news, though: there’s evidence that fiscal conservatism does and has worked. A new working paper from two Harvard economists indicate that not only do tax cuts make it more likely for an economy to rebound, but spending adjustments both help the overall fiscal picture AND are less likely to spur a recession. The money quote, via The Corner:

“Fiscal stimuli based upon tax cuts are more likely to increase growth than those based upon spending increases. As for fiscal adjustments those based upon spending cuts and no tax increases are more likely to reduce deficits and debt over GDP ratios than those based upon tax increases. In addition, adjustments on the spending side rather than on the tax side are less likely to create recessions.”

You can check out the paper in its entirety here. Despite this academic exercise, I’m afraid that the American people are destined to learn the results of statism through hard won experience this go around.

Howell Does Good

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Long time readers will know that Speaker Bill Howell, who was recently re-elected to his position as Speaker of the House (or is at least the Republican pick, though the current majority more or less secures his choice by the Caucus), is not exactly one of my favorites. I’m not going to back away from my position on the smoking ban coming into effect at the beginning of next month, though I will admit that it didn’t really hurt the ticket’s pro-business platform (though McDonnell himself opposed it, and frankly I can’t think of a single race where this was a deal breaker).

However, I do give kudos where kudos is due. Howell played very smart politics over the last few years by keeping costs down in the House and by allowing recorded subcommittee votes. That particular plank managed to appease both the media and liberal types along with conservatives for whom transparency has become a hot new issue. Howell doubled down on this strategy today by not walking away from proportional representation. From the Washington Post VA Politics blog:

House Speaker Bill Howell plans to honor current rules of proportional representation as he reorganizes House committees in the wake of the Nov. 3 election results. That means Howell will add one Republican to each committee, in line with the GOP caucus’ growth from 55 to 61 members. He will not be adding two Republicans, as has been widely rumored, according to Howell chief of staff Paul Nardo

Kudos to the speaker. Frankly, not much was to be gained here. Barring a defection from the Democratic caucus to the McDonnell administration (and possibly two, if Republicans don’t hold the 37th Senate district seat vacated by AG-elect Ken Cuccinelli), we aren’t going to control the Senate any time soon. While tempting, adding two GOPers wouldn’t do much and only aid any narrative of Republican overreach. Governor-elect McDonnell is in a good position to get many of his iniatives through already. No reason to queer the deal by angering and giving the Democrats good reason to fight tooth and nail and to give the media the possibility of comparison’s to Obama’s overreach in his first year.

So kudos to Speaker Howell and the Republican Caucus. But remember: we’re still watching.