Saturday, June 23, 2007

A New Blog in Virginia

Check out Middle of Nowhere, a blog run by two former Republicans who feel disenchanted by the GOP...but don't like the Democratic Party, either. I think this blog could become very widely read in a short period of time.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Conversation With a Soldier

My best friend and "brother from another mother", PO/3 Curt Cabot of the United States Navy, just came back from his tour of duty in Bahrain. His crew, simply put, ran cargo missions and troop deployment flights from Bahrain to Iraq.

After 15 minutes of talk about our families, his coming home on leave, and a bit of reminiscing...we got to talking about his deployment. Given the fact that I follow politics, and I can't help myself, I asked him the question of "do you honestly feel that this surge is starting to work?"

His response said it all: "It's already working. We're landing planes in places we could never land before. We've got more and more civilian support from the people in Iraq. Every week, my job got easier, I can tell you that much."

He had not heard Harry Reid's "we've lost" comments. When I told him what Reid said, Cabot replied, "Either he doesn't know what's going on over there, or he doesn't care. Either way, screw him. If he thinks we lost the war, maybe he can do better. I'd have no problem strapping him up in combat boots and a gun and sending him over there."

By the way, Cabot is probably one of the least politically-slanted people I know. As more of my friends and acquaintences come home from their tours, I'll try to get more comments from them. I feel that they can give us a good idea of whats really going on in Iraq.

No Mo' Gitmo?

Apparently, the Bush administration wants to close the Guantanamo Bay prison "as soon as possible." The question is...why? Guantanamo has been a perfect spot for a military prison to hold those captured in war. It's not located in the United States, and should there be a jailbreak, there is only one direction detainees can go.

Many claim that we are "abusing" the detainees in Gitmo. The complaints from the detainees are horrid, disgusting tales of abuse and torture........I mean, my God, we denied them scented deodorant!!!

Ok, all jokes at the left aside, until they can come up with a viable, permanent solution to "where do we put all of these prisoners?"...I say let Gitmo stay.

Endorsement Time!

It appears that in Shenandoah County, District 2 Supervisor Jim Patrick will be facing a challenge from Steven A. Baker in November. Currently, the biggest issue facing Shenandoah County residents has to be the proposed regional jail. Patrick has laid out the reasons for a new jail well, and I do agree that a new jail (whether local or regional) is something residents of our county should

I know both men (although, I don't think Jim realizes that I know him, lol), and even though I'm not in District's my county.

In conclusion, the Podium endorses Jim Patrick for the District 2 seat on the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors.

Transportation Without Taxation...For a Fee

I've been discussing the new fees for serious traffic violations with a few people I know. Not surprisingly, it isn't a popular move amongst most people I talk to. Most people believe, though I haven't heard it acknowledged by politicians, that this is the General Assembly's attempt to fund transportation upgrades throughout the state without a tax increase. I still say that reducing the state budget would also help to fund this project, but let me tell you what's involved with these new fees.

These "civil remedial fees" will be on top of any court costs, insurance increases, license renewal, and other penalties that have to be paid. So, after paying the courts, the DMV, and your auto insurance now owe the state. For instance, a conviction for reckless driving will net you a $1,050.00 fee.

That is a bit steep, in my opinion. However, the "payment plan" that they have instituted is at least a fair step towards assisting those convicted of these traffic violations. That reckless driving fee, instead of a lump-sum payment, can now be paid in three (3) $350.00 payments.

While I do think that harsher penalties for serious traffic violations is a fine idea and a great deterrent (hit 'em where it hurts...the wallet), I do believe that some of the first-time violation fees are a bit steep and excessive. Maybe $500-600 for a first-time offense for reckless driving, for instance. Once you get to repeat offenses, then the fines should go up to the levels they have outlined in the bill that was passed.

It's already law...and I do believe the goal of the law to be a good one. So be careful, all ye with lead foots, because starting July 1st...your spare cash may become property of the state.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Waldo/Kilo Dust-Up

Now that things are starting to simmer down a bit between Waldo and Kilo, I'm going to provide some thoughts on this whole issue.

Let me start with Waldo. Now, Waldo is someone who kinda plays on both sides of the ethical fence, in my opinion. Sometimes he can be a nice guy who likes good debate and banter. Other times, he can get a little self-righteous and indignant over nothing and do something that infuriates many. Due to his status as one of the "elder statesmen" of Virginia political blogging, people on both sides of the great ideological divide come to his defense (although, there is a majority of Democrats in that bunch).

Carl Kilo is someone else who plays both sides of the ethical fence. While he was one of the reviled Bloggers4Sayre, I also found him to be more of a "voice of reason" compared to a few of the other really vocal members of that group. However, sometimes the origin of some incidents point to Kilo, even if it is circumstantial. For instance, a couple of anonymous comments that were anti-Fred Thompson and contained some invalid statements and a sprinkle of foul language. Almost immediately after these comments were posted, a vote was cast for Duncan Hunter on the presidential poll. Kilo is a pro-Hunter blogger.

Whether or not Kilo actually made the posts, I don't know (I didn't get the IP addresses due to this being blogspot and all). However, it is an interesting coincidence.

Kilo claims that he is not the only person on his IP address, and that he lives in some form of a his internet access is shared by multiple users. While it does sound like a convenient excuse, and nothing more...I'm not going to say that Kilo is making this up. He wouldn't be the first person I know to have these kinds of living conditions.

If Waldo is lying, shame on him for trying to deceive people into being "anti-Kilo". If Kilo is lying, shame on him for trying to avoid responsibility for his comments. If neither one of them is lying, shame all us (including me) for getting involved. :)

Just thought I'd pass my two cents on this...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Some Celebs Disagree With Immigration Bill

Apparently, a trio of celebrities have spoken out against the amnesty bill being brought back to life in the Senate. This is no ordinary group of C-listers, either. We're talking Arnold Schwarzenegger, legend of the silver screen Al Pacino, and the delectable Jessica Alba.

Alba, in a recent interview, expressed how she doesn't feel it would be right to be labeled a "Latin" actress, even though some people do, because she doesn't speak spanish. She states that she is "American", because she speaks english and had an American upbringing...she knows her heritage and is proud of that, but considers herself an American first. I can completely relate to that, and I agree with that sentiment.

Read about it over at Michelle Malkin.

Rising to the Top

Fred Thompson 28%, Guiliani 27%. For the first time all year, someone other than Rudy Guiliani is in the top slot of GOP contenders for the 2008 presidential nomination, according to Rasmussen Reports.

McCain and Romney are both down a point each from last week, tied for third with 10%. However, McCain's unfavorable rating has been steadily increasing, mostly due to the immigration bill that the solid majority of America pretty much hates at this point. Romney's 10% has been a steady one, as he has wavered between 9-12% for quite a while now.

The Hunt for Red State November continues...

When Educators Exercise Power...

...ridiculousness tends to occur.

Kilmer Middle School in Vienna has banned all forms of "touching". Not inappropriate touching. Not physical violence. All forms of touching. No high-fives, hugs, hand-holding, or handshakes. Nothing.

Why? It's all in the name of "prevention" according to school officials. Apparently, high-fives/handshakes = gang signs, and signs of affection and puppy love aren't welcome by the girls of the school.

Well, that's how the school's administrators feel, at least.

It's obvious you want to prohibit inappropriate conduct and contact like fighting and groping. However, can we be serious and sensible about this? I'm glad to see the parents are fighting for a change.

Weekly Podium: "Common Ground Between the Aisles"

(cross-posted at The New Dominion)

Yes, it is true. For the first time in a long time, both of our major political parties have found some common ground between them.

That common ground, however, is the fact that they are both suffering from rifts within their respective parties.

Despite what you read in the blogs and in the op-ed columns, the polls don't lie. The Democrats are not viewed very favorably by any stretch of the imagination. The same can be said about Republicans, too. This invariably proves that America is tired of the "same song" from both parties.

These rifts and disagreements are occurring at both the national and local levels. The rifts in the GOP have been over policy and general ideology. The rifts between the Democrats seem to be over tactics, hierarchy, and sometimes over simple "he said, she said" issues.

The current state of the GOP strikes me as being similar to the state it was in post-Watergate and between 1992 and 1994, IMO. These rifts tend to ebb and flow, especially when it seems both parties are shifting on a national level.

The GOP shift is more of an ideological shift away from the polarized combination of the moderate/centrist "compassionate conservatism" and the evangelical "religious right"...both are shifting towards a simpler, Reagan-esque conservatism. They're getting away from abortion and same-sex marriage as hot-buttons, and back to national security and the economy as the core issues that drive the party.

While the historians like to state that Reagan was the first presidential candidate whose victory was engineered by the "religious right", Reagan was not big on pushing the evangelical agenda. He had better things to do. He had a Cold War that was turning against the U.S., an economy that was battered and bruised by the end of Jimmy Carter's term in office, and a national spirit to uplift.

On a national level, there has been a very swift and sudden breach of support from Republican voters and President Bush over this immigration bill.

A good example of ideological conflict within the party was right here in the Valley. The 24th State Senate primary between Emmett Hanger and Scott Sayre pitted a difference in ideology over what defines "fiscal conservatism". Hanger appealed to a moderate base, Sayre appealed to a more conservative base. All Bloggers4Sayre talk aside, this race was about a particular issue (among a few smaller issues) that obviously irked many conservatives.

However, the GOP conflict is nothing like the Democratic Party's rising issues. However, the national dissatisfaction with the Dems and the statewide rifts are two separate issues.

The Democratic Party's descent into the cellar of approval ratings comes from several key areas of dissatisfaction. Most notably is the party's lack of deliverance upon their campaign promises. Between the complete dismissal of promised changes in policies and initiatives, the determination to seemingly persecute as many Republicans as possible, and the lack of movement on the anti-war effort, Democratic voters are starting to feel a bit disenchanted with their once-vibrant movement.

Within Congress itself, there has been some apparent grumbling behind closed doors over the lack of unison by the Democrats on the cloture votes during the recent immigration bill debate. There were 12 Democrats that voted against cloture in the final vote, and Harry Reid was quoted as saying "I'll take care of that later". "Later" turned out to be a closed-doors meeting with a quite a bit of criticism doled out to those who did not go along with a vote in favor cloture.

While the immigration debate has been tearing apart the Republican Party, it seems to have been causing quiet, beneath-the-surface feelings of dissent and dissatisfaction within some in the Democratic Party.

On the local level, there seems to be some disagreement between the grassroots and the local party chairs in some areas. The most high profile rift involves 11th Congressional District chair George Burke and a few bloggers over feelings towards each other and several exchanges of words.

I've been traveling across the blogosphere and the op-eds, reading what columnists and bloggers have had to say in other states, and I've noticed increasing amounts of discontent within the Democratic party in other states, as well. This intra-party bickering is not just a Virginia issue, but a much wider problem on many levels for the Democrats.

What this means is that the voters are not happy with the status quo. Whether it be nitpicking and micromanagement of issues by Republicans, or lack of progress by the Democrats, both parties are having their problems.

You may be asking yourself, "What does this all mean? We have a presidential election next year."

Well, it seems both parties are "looking backward" to find inspiration to "look forward". Republicans are looking for a leader to "right the ship", so to speak, like Ronald Reagan did in the early 1980's. As I opined in a previous column, the GOP was once a party of ideas, but they got bogged down in side issues on a lower rung of importance to most conservatives.

The Democrats are a little more divided in their nostalgia. Those who support Hillary Clinton remember the "good ol' days" of Bill Clinton's tenure. Some see Barack Obama as a modern-day JFK, given the comparisons in youth, charisma, and ability to captivate the public with their speeches.

Either way, there is a general dissatisfaction towards our government by the public. While the similarities end there, the fact is that both sides of the aisle need to heed the calls of their base of voters if they want to continue their careers in matter if they serve in the local town halls, in Richmond, or on Capitol Hill.

Is it just mild discontent, or are we witnessing a small revolution within both parties? Only time, and the mood of the voting public, will tell.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Quick Note

Due to a quirky training schedule over the next couple of weeks, I'll try to post as much as I can. However, if I go a substantial amount of hours without a new post, it's due to my schedule.

However, I'll try to bring you as much Podium goodness as often as possible...thank you in advance for your patience :)

Virginia Voters: Check Your Registration Status

Jim Patrick has the details.

Apparently, in the process of updating their software and information, the Virginia State Board of Elections has had problems with registering voters in the right precincts. This could have an effect on up to 25% of all registered voters in the state.

So please, double-check and make sure you are still registered in the proper place.