Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hundreds Of Jobs, Thousands Of Jobs

The United States (as well as the rest of the world) is suffering through the worst economic contraction since the 1930’s. Millions of men and women have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Nationally, the unemployment rate has risen to 9.5%. Here, in the Commonwealth, we have been more fortunate. Our statewide unemployment rate is about 6.5% (as of August). The only states with lower unemployment rates are Montana, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming, all with smaller populations and economies than Virginia.

Experts in economics give various explanations for this mega-recession. They all involve greed, under-regulation, large numbers of defaulting loans, and stuff like that. (Despite Republican Bill Bolling’s attack ads, none of these experts blame the recession on the “tax and spend” policies of Democrat Jody Wagner.) The damage to our economy has been severe and it has taken significant actions by the Federal Government, under both Presidents Bush and Obama, to avoid an even greater catastrophe.

Most experts believe that the economy has probably reached its lowest point and that recovery is starting. However, unemployment rates stay high and people are hurting. Despite our lower rate, here in Virginia tens of thousands of people are still unable to find work. Further, in some areas of the state unemployment rates are much higher.

So, along comes snake-oil salesman Bob McDonnell and dubs himself the “Jobs Governor.” Despite the world-wide recession, despite the fact that economic recovery in Virginia is tied to economic recovery in the rest of the country, despite the fact that Virginia is already one of the best-managed states and one of the best in which to do business, Bob McDonnell wants us to believe that he alone can bring jobs to Virginia.

Well, dear reader, we will look at the “Jobs Governor’s” plans in just a moment. First, however, the maven must give a very short and overly simple economics lesson. Why, you ask, do people lose jobs during a recession? The answer is quite simple. During a recession many businesses, both large and small, experience a significant drop in revenues. To offset these losses the company must cut its expenditures if it is to stay in business. One of the easiest ways to do that is to cut its payroll. Therefore, the loss of jobs. When will companies start hiring again and create more jobs? They will start rehiring when they are doing enough business to produce sufficient revenue for them to conclude that bringing on more workers will be profitable. Until that time it is unlikely that they will rehire their laid off workers (or other workers).

Despite the economic realities, the “Jobs Governor” is promising that if we elect him he will bring large numbers of jobs to Virginia. How will he do it? For sure, he won’t do what Franklin Roosevelt did during the 1930s depression. FDR put people to work by having the Federal Government hire them to perform needed work in the country. Bob McDonnell’s philosophy of government precludes him from turning the Virginia government into a major employer of those currently unemployed. So, how is Dr. McDonnell going to cure our unemployment sickness? Let’s take a look:

First, Bob proposes some “New Job Initiatives.”

1. He will expand the use of the Governor’s Opportunity Fund
2. He will appoint Bill Bolling as “Virginia’s Chief Jobs Creation Officer."
3. He will designate one Deputy Secretary of Commerce to work exclusively on rural economic development.
4. He will provide a tax credit of $1,000 per job for every company that creates 50 new jobs. In economically distressed areas the employer would only have to create 25 new jobs to qualify for the credit.

Governor’s Opportunity Fund : I won’t comment on this one because Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate is proposing more or less the same thing.

Making Bill Bolling the jobs “czar:” As my children would say, “Big Whoop!” Reader, what has Bill Bolling done in his entire private-sector and public careers that would qualify him to be “Virginia’s Chief Jobs Creation Officer?” Hey, I’m not even sure what a jobs creation officer does. Does he run a big manufacturing plant that turns out 20 or 30 new jobs every day? Does he lead posses into other states to capture jobs and bring them back to Virginia? Does he kidnap business executives and hold them until they agree to hire more people in the Commonwealth? Give me a break, Mr. Jobs Governor. This is nothing more than an idea to make Bill Bolling feel more important and to deceive the electorate.

Designating a rural development Deputy Secretary of Commerce to work exclusively on rural economic development: You know, I had no idea what this meant until I looked at the details of Dr. McDonnell’s economic plan. There it says, “We will place a greater emphasis on rural economic development by designating a Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade to do nothing gut recruit new business to rural parts of Virginia, where jobs are desperately needed.” Mr. Jobs Governor, this is another case of merely giving somebody a more glorified title. How exactly can a deputy secretary recruit new business during a massive economic downturn. Do you really think there are thousands of potential entrepreneurs out there that would gladly open businesses in rural Virginia if we only had a designated deputy secretary to recruit them? How can a designated deputy secretary convince existing businesses to move to rural parts of Virginia? If it was in their economic interest to do so, they would have already moved. This is another case of voter deception.

$1000 tax credits: Look, Dr. McDonnell. Whether they are large or small businesses, companies exist to make money. They will only hire more workers when they believe those workers will produce more revenue for the company than the cost of their salaries. Your plan is to grant $1,000 tax credits for each job when a company creates at least 50 jobs. (The threshold is only 25 new jobs in an economically distressed area.) Okay, let’s say that the average salary of the workers in these new jobs is $25,000 per year. To hire 50 new workers is going to cost the company $1,250,000 in salaries. The tax credits you will give them total $50,000. I may not be a businessman, Mr. Jobs Governor, but it doesn’t make sense to me to increase my company’s costs by $1,250,000 in salaries per year to save $50,000 in taxes. That’s a net loss of $1,200,000 I’ve incurred by creating jobs in Virginia. I’m sorry Bob, your offer of tax credits will not produce a single job in Virginia so long as the country is suffering through this recession.

Well, it seems that looking only at his “New Jobs Initiatives,” Bob McDonnell is not much of a jobs governor. So what else does Bob propose? To find out, tune in later.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Virginia—A Male Dominated State?

I was researching the boundaries of some of the congressional districts in the Commonwealth when I looked at the photographs of our representatives. Guess what? They are all men. And, of course, both of our U.S. Senators are men. At the state level, only about 15% of the members of either the Senate or the House of Delegates are women. All of our state-wide offices—governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general—are men.

Loyal reader, did you know that the voters of Virginia have never elected a woman as Governor? They also haven’t ever elected a woman as Lieutenant Governor. Only once have we elected a woman to be our Attorney General. That was Mary Sue Terry who served from 1986 until she resigned to run for Governor in January 1993.

Now, we may ask, trusted reader, why a state like Virginia has elected so few women to public office. Aren’t we the state that made history by electing an African American to be our Lieutenant Governor in 1985 and our Governor in 1989?

This year we in Virginia have the opportunity to elect a woman—Jody Wagner—to a state-wide position. Don’t misunderstand me. I would not vote for or against a candidate simply because she is a woman. So I wouldn’t ask you to do that either. However, in the case of Jody Wagner, she is clearly the better-qualified candidate.

If you take a minute to get past Bill Bolling’s ridiculous attack ads (the only things he hasn’t blamed on Jody, yet, are the biblical plagues), you will see clearly that Jody is the one to vote for. During the past eight years, Jody has worked for both Governors Mark Warner and Tim Kane in positions involving the financial operations of Virginia government. She deserves at least part of the credit for Virginia having the best managed state government and for Virginia being one of the best states in which to do business. Jody understands the workings of Virginia government better than any of the candidates running for any state office this year.

And Bill Bolling? During the last eight years he has presided over the Virginia Senate and served in that Senate—four years each. That’s it! There is nothing in his resume to suggest that he is qualified to be Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor, and the past four years have proved it. His record as Lieutenant Governor since 2006 is unremarkable at best. (Why else the attack ads? If he had done a good job, he could have run on his record.)

So, in voting for the clearly better candidate, we Virginia voters can also elect our first female Lieutenant Governor. This is our best opportunity in twenty years to make a dent in the male-dominated government of the Commonwealth.

Bill Bolling: Look In The Mirror

Unless you don’t have a television, you must have noticed that all statewide Republic candidates are in attack mode. It’s hard to watch any show on any network (broadcast or cable) without being inundated with attack ads against Creigh Deeds, Jody Wagner and Steve Shannon. Sometimes I find it pretty funny. First there’s a McDonnell ad telling us that if Creigh Deeds is elected he will raise taxes by the billions of dollars. That’s followed by a Bolling Ad making the exact same claims about Jody Wagner. When they come back-to-back, it’s hard for this maven to figure out who the real Democratic villain is.

But, the attack ad that almost led me to award Bill Bolling his second chutzpah award of the campaign season is the one that accuses Jody Wagner of not only wanting to tax every activity each of engages in every day, but also of running a negative campaign against Bill Bolling.

Come on Bill, since September I have only seen one positive ad from your campaign (at least here in Richmond). The rest of your campaign has been nothing but attack ads filled with lies, deception and misinformation about Jody Wagner. Where do you get the gall to accuse Ms. Wagner of running a negative campaign? Come to think of it Bill, I will change my mind and give you that second Chutzpah award. You richly deserve it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ken Cuccinelli: You Better Believe Him

I am often worried about how an election will turn out. Last year at this time, because of a shortage of money, sabotage of my campaign by a supporter of one of my opponents, and a string of organizational endorsements for another opponent, I was worried that I might not win the election for the School Board here in Richmond. (Of course my worries were validated on Election Day.) In many presidential elections over the years I was worried that the Republican candidates would be elected over the Democrats who I felt were much better qualified. In all those elections, I worried about the outcome.

But this year is the first time that I am more than worried; I am afraid of the outcome. In previous years, I never felt that election of the opponent to my candidate could actually turn out to be dangerous. I always felt that we would just have to wait for the next election. But this year there is the possibility that Ken Cuccinelli will be elected our next Attorney General, and that scares me.

Ken Cuccinelli, when in friendly audiences, has made it clear that he intends to be an Attorney General like none before. He intends to use the office to effectuate his agenda. He intends to use the office to turn this state back, not to how it was before former Governor Warner was elected, but to how it was in the good old days of states’ rights. In Republican debates, interviews by friendly reporters and at “tea parties” in Virginia, Ken has made it clear that he will enforce only those laws that he agrees with. He has also made it clear that he intends to fight the Federal Government in every instance in which it tries to implement a program in Virginia that he opposes. Ken has gone so far as to promise to sue the Federal Government to protect Virginia’s “sovereignty.”

Although I have previously pointed out how right-wing a Republican Ken is, his philosophy on the use of the Attorney General’s office is downright dangerous. Ken wants to undue all the progress that the Commonwealth has made in the past several decades, and to do so he has revived the doctrine of nullification and the cry of state’s rights. Nullification first arose during John Adam’s term as president when the Republican supporters of Thomas Jefferson argued that a state could nullify the effect of a federal law by blocking its implementation in that state. It is based on the theory that the sovereignty of states is superior to the sovereignty of the United States.

Nullification has raised its ugly head several times during the life of the United States. In the 1950s and 1960s several southern governors like Orval Faubus and George Wallace used the nullification doctrine, which they called “state’s rights,” to rule that the Supreme Court’s ruling outlawing school segregation would not apply in their states. They used their powers as governor to try to block integration in their states. It took the intervention of the federal government to assure that the law was implemented in those states.

I really thought that the principle that the United States Constitution and laws affected under that constitution were the “supreme law of the land” had been well established. But now Ken Cuccinelli has promised to ignore the words of Article II, Paragraph 7 of the United States Constitution and to decide himself which federal law will be enforced in Virginia. He also promises to decide which laws of the Commonwealth he will enforce.

Ken Cuccinelli acknowledges that it may take time to achieve his objectives. As quoted by the Washington Post, Ken has said, “It isn’t one dramatic step on any given day or getting one bill passed. It’s the gradual, slow, drip-drip-drip impact you can have.” 1 This is why Ken intends to be Attorney General for a long time.

Dear readers, if we the people of Virginia elect Ken Cuccinelli as Attorney General, Virginia will start moving back to the state’s rights days. Ken’s “drip-drip-drip” will gradually erode your liberties. I hope you choose to vote for Steve Shannon, Ken’s opponent, so as to stop this threat to the wonderful state that Virginia has become. The choice is yours.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Biased Reporting

A short time after it runs its feature on Creigh Deeds next Sunday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch will endorse Bob McDonnell for Governor, Bill Bolling for Lieutenant Governor, and Ken Cuccinelli for Attorney General. Over the years the TD has consistently endorsed Republican candidates in major elections. I understand the policy position of the TD ownership and I have no problem with it. It’s their paper and they can do with it whatever they want.

But, dear reader, when this bias passes into news reporting, this maven must protest. Today’s paper marks the second time that I have seen the TD running unflattering photos of Creigh Deeds. Each time they have shown Deeds frowning. These photos are the type that I would expect the Bob McDonnell campaign to use in their attack ads against Deeds. They make it very hard for the voter to like Mr. Deeds. After all, who wants to vote for someone who is always frowning?

I am sure that Bob Brown, the TD photographer who covered the gubernatorial debate, must have gotten at least one shot of Creigh Deeds without a frown on his face. Yet the editors chose to run this photo.

The TD is the daily newspaper for Greater Richmond. Regardless of its editorial bent toward supporting Republican candidates, it should be neutral in its news reporting. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. I hope that between now and the election the TD stops showing its bias in the photos it uses in its news reporting.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Has Bob McDonnell Changed His Stripes? Part 3

Before I get to the substance of this posting, let me make one thing clear. I am not against religion. I am not against Christianity. In fact, some of my best friends are Christians. I do not object to our national or state leaders praying or reading their chosen scripture to help them make the really tough decisions that we ask them to make. I would prefer a leader that understands that there is a higher power in the Universe to one who thinks that he or she is the fount of all knowledge. Having said that, let’s get back to young Bob McDonnell’s thesis.

Bob McDonnell believed that all the significant institutions in society—the family, the church and the state (he was referring to civil government, not the Commonwealth of Virginia)—were ordained and established by God. Further, God has assigned to each of these institutions a specific role. As Bob put it on page 12 of his thesis,

“Each institution in society has been instituted by God for specific limited purposes. Therefore, a good idea does not necessarily translate into good policy, unless it is instituted in a proper means by an institution with jurisdiction.”

The first of God’s institutions, according to young Bob, is the family. Since God created the family in the Garden of Eden, it is an institution that precedes and is not subject to definition by the state. In Bob’s words on page 13,

“The family, as a God-ordained government has an area of sovereignty within which it is free to carry out the duties it owes to God, society, and other family members, under the covenant [of marriage].”

[Young Bob then goes on to describe the role of the Church. My maven’s license does not extend to theology, so I’ll skip over that.]

Bob McDonnell describes the role of the state (or government) in the following words on page 14 of the thesis:

“The civil government was ordained to secure the inalienable rights of individuals created in the image and likeness of God, and to facilitate a society in which other institutions are free to perform their covenantal duties to God and others. . . . Government authority is constrained both by this limited delegation from God, and by the covenant which the people have established with their leaders, embodied in the Declaration of Independence, the constitution of the United States and the several states, and statutes passed pursuant thereto.”

So, it takes until page 14 of his thesis for Bob to get to the constitution and laws as affecting the authority of government, and then only in a subsidiary role to God’s assignment of jurisdiction in scripture.

Dear reader, I am somewhat troubled by Bob McDonnell’s view, which appears to be that the rules of God set forth in the Christian Bible are controlling over the law as established by the constitution, statutes and court pronouncements of the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Does this mean that, if elected, Mr. McDonnell will consult scripture first before deciding whether he will carry out laws passed by the General Assembly? Does he believe that laws enacted by the Congress or the General Assembly of Virginia are only valid if they are consistent with God’s division of jurisdiction among the family, the church and the civil government. Does this mean that if he takes the constitutional oath of office that requires him to swear or affirm that he will “support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia” that he will be adding the unspoken caveat “to the extent they are consistent with the institutions ordained by God?”

Mr. McConnell says that he has changed some of his views since he wrote his thesis. Does this change include his views on government I have just described? This is the question we should be concerned with, not whether Mr. McDonnell still believes that feminism has caused the downfall of the Republic. The citizens of Virginia have a right to know whether Bob McDonnell intends to enforce the laws of the Commonwealth as written, without first deciding whether he thinks they are consistent with the Bible. Instead of telling us what a good father he has been to his daughters and how well he has treated his female subordinates, let Bob answer this basic question.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Blame It On Jody!

Three years ago I brought to your attention the Republican campaign tactic of using the “Big Lie” to try to win elections. 1 The theory is that the voters are basically stupid and that they will believe anything you say. In fact, the bigger the lie the more likely they are to believe it.

So, Republican Bill Bolling’s attack ad against Jody Wagner, Democrat candidate for Lieutenant Governor, does not surprise me. In the ad, Bill blames Ms. Wagner for everything that has gone wrong with the world, the nation and the Commonwealth in the last eight years—

· Jody raised taxes for each of the last eight years (“Every tax increase, every year.”)
· Jody caused billions of dollars in budget shortfalls.
· Jody caused huge government debt.
· Jody raised taxes on senior citizens.
· Jody is responsible for all the jobs lost in Virginia.
· Jody has “made a bad economy worse.”

Nowhere in this ad “sponsored” by Bill Bolling is there any support for these statements. It’s just accusation after accusation after accusation. Not only does Bill make Jody the scapegoat for things that have happened, he even blames her for imaginary disasters. If it sounds good, blame it on Jody!

Bill, why the big lies? Are you afraid that you can’t be reelected based on your own record?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Has McDonnell Changed His Stripes? Part 2

Let’s talk about Bob McDonnell’s views on the state’s role in regulating the sexual behavior of consenting adults.

For those of you who are not lawyers: In 1965 the Supreme Court of the United States issued the landmark decision in Griswold v. Connecticut. The Court declared unconstitutional the Connecticut statute outlawing the sale of contraceptives in the state, ruling that the law violated the privacy rights of married couples.

On pages 7 and 8 of his thesis, the 35 year old Bob McDonnell criticizes the Court’s ruling, endorsing instead the view that states had the power to “regulate the legal and sexual relationships of marriage.” On the following page, Bob says that the effect of the Supreme Court decisions in Griswold and other cases was to abandon the sanctity of the traditional family and replace it “with the perverted notion of liberty that each person should be able to live out his sexual life in any way he chooses without interference from the state.”

So, incredulous reader, Bob McDonnell believes that states should have the authority to regulate sexual relationships. He further believes that the idea that people should be able to choose how to live their sexual lives without interference from the state is a “perverted notion of liberty.”

Does Bob McDonnell really think that the Commonwealth of Virginia should be snooping around in your and my bedrooms to assure that we are not practicing that “perverted notion of liberty?” He certainly did when he wrote that thesis.

But he says that some of his views have changed since he was a young and rash 35. I certainly hope this is one of them.

Christian Right Poised To Rule Virginia

The leaders of the Christian Right in Virginia are feeling good today. The Washington Post poll shows all of their candidates—Bob McDonnell for governor, Bill Bolling for Lieutenant Governor and Ken Cuccinelli for Attorney General—with significant leads over their Democratic opponents. If they can just get through the next twenty four days without the electorate finding out the truth and changing its mind, they will have one of their own in each of the top three positions in Virginia government. Then they will be able to push their agenda for “fixing” the Commonwealth.

Wait, maven, what are you talking about? Do you just assume that all Republicans are from the Christian Right?

No, trusted reader, I realize that Republicans cover a wide spectrum of views and policies, just like Democrats. But these three birds of a feather—McDonnell, Bolling and Cuccinelli—are way out on the right wing of their own party. This is possibly the most conservative ticket that the GOP has ever nominated.

Maven, maven, maven! You are exaggerating as usual. How can all three of them be as right-wing as you suggest?

Reader, you just need to look at their records as members of the General Assembly. All of them have consistently voted the “right” way on every issue supported by the Christian Right. All of them consistently received ratings of from 90 to 100 by the Virginia Family Foundation. All of them receive A or A+ ratings from the National Rifle Association. They have consistently voted against women’s reproductive rights and against any restrictions or controls on the ability of Virginians to acquire or carry guns. They were the leading proponents of what became Virginia’s constitutional marriage restrictions.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at the right-wing bloggers around the state. They are positively salivating over the possibility of these three getting elected. Take a look at McDonnell’s, Bolling’s and Cuccinelli’s campaign web sites. They are equally committed to what they refer to as traditional Virginia values, the values pushed by the Christian Right and other ultra-conservatives.

Take a look at Bob McDonnell’s master’s thesis. Oh, I know that he was only thirty-five years old when he wrote it. I also know that he says he has changed some of his views in the intervening years. But, exactly what views has he changed? He doesn’t really say. If you think that his views are main-stream, take a look at some of the statements in the thesis that I quoted last month. 1

Now, we don’t know what Bill or Ken may have said in their theses, but we can look at the annual report card of the Family Foundation to see Ken Cuccinelli’s voting record in the Virginia Senate. It was an off year for Ken (last year he was the Family Foundation’s Legislator of the Year) because he only received a 91 rating. He missed out on getting the 100 because he voted in favor of SB507, which would have allowed expanded off-track betting on horse races. But let’s look how Ken did vote:

· He voted to withdraw state funding from Planned Parenthood.

· He voted to ban state funding of embryonic stem cell research.

· He voted in favor of a “Choose Life” license plate, with proceeds going to pregnancy resource centers.

· He voted against broadening Virginia’s Family Life Education course to include anything other than abstinence.

· He voted against expanding Virginia’s domestic partners benefits law to include life insurance.

· He voted for allowing state police chaplains to pray “in Jesus’ name.”

Trusted reader, I think Ken Cuccinelli’s own voting record has shown him to be a right-wing Republican.

Although I don’t have information on Bill Bolling’s votes in the General Assembly in 2005 and earlier, just look at his own web site. 2
Bill brags that he opposes women’s reproductive rights, that he opposes any restrictions on gun ownership or possession, and that he not only supported the so-called marriage amendment but used his own funds to campaign for its passage.

Reader, if these three men of the Right are, in fact, elected on November 3 (and the choice is yours) it should be a very interesting four years in the Commonwealth.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Has McDonnell Changed His Stripes?

Hopefully, the Deeds for Governor campaign will be spending more time on positive ads rather than the negative stuff that’s been keeping them distracted. However, that doesn’t mean that this maven cannot spend some of his time analyzing Bob McDonnell’s master’s thesis. Between now and the election, when the inspiration comes to me, I will be looking at some specific issues raised by Bob’s thesis. (I know that last month, in a fit of cutting and pasting, I set forth most of the significant things that Bob said in his thesis. However, it is clear to me that was just too much material to digest.)

Sadly, Bob McDonnell lives in an evil, dangerous world. On page 20 of his thesis Bob says:

“. . . [P]olicy decisions must be made with the cognizance of the nature of man. . . . [M]an’s basic nature is inclined toward evil, and when the exercise of liberty takes the shape of pornography, drug abuse, or homosexuality, the government must restrain, punish and deter.”

Later, on page 61, Bob says:

“Policies, however, must be sufficiently realistic to acknowledge that man lives in a broken and sinful world formed by his inherent selfishness. . .”

I am glad I do not live in Bob McDonnell’s world. I see people as basically good. Certainly they make mistakes and sometimes succumb to the urge to do bad things. But, on the whole, I believe that the citizens of Virginia are good and decent people. Not Bob.

So, how does Bob’s world view reflect on his view of the proper role of government? On page 14 of the thesis, he says:

“The state alone . . . bears the authority to punish wrongdoers, for the civil ruler is a minister of God to execute judgment and encourage good.”

Perhaps Bob’s view of the role of the civil ruler served him well as the Commonwealth’s head prosecutor. As prosecutor it makes sense to see your job as a battle against evil. However, I’m not sure this is the kind of world view we want in the man who will be our next governor.

Bob McDonnell says he has changed many of the views he expressed in his master’s thesis when he was only 35 years old. Perhaps his view of the world is one of them.

There You Go Again, Bob

This maven has observed ten or eleven gubernatorial contests in Virginia. In every one of them the Republican candidate has accused the Democratic candidate of intending to raise taxes if elected. This is such a standard part of Republican campaign rhetoric that I assume it’s required by the rules of the Virginia GOP. So, it came as no surprise to me last night that I saw and heard—

I’m Bob McDonnell, and I approved this message. . . Then comes the standard attack. Creigh Deeds intends to raise taxes. In fact, Creigh Deeds has promised that if elected he will raise our taxes. This ad even goes so far as blaming Creigh Deeds for possible increases in federal taxes. All this Deeds devilry will cost the average Virginia family thousands of dollars.

You know, loyal reader, my three young ‘uns received wonderful public school educations in the Commonwealth. All of them took civics in middle school and government in high school. All three of them learned that in Virginia only the General Assembly has the constitutional authority to enact legislation, including laws that raise taxes. They understand that no Virginia governor has the authority, under our constitution, to raise taxes.

Which leads me to conclude that either—

Bob McDonnell is deliberately deceiving the voters of Virginia, or
Bob McDonnell slept through his civics and government classes.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ernesto Sampson Is A Republican, Right?

This maven is always fascinated by politics. While up in Northern Virginia last week, I was looking at the political signs and saw some for Bob McDonnell, which read “Fairfax’s Own.” Has Bob McDonnell moved without telling me? Hey, all’s fair in love, war and politics, right?

Signs are so interesting. In some districts, it is common for candidates to identify their party affiliation. Unless, of course, their party is in the minority. In a predominantly Republican district, it seems that a candidate will use bigger letters for the word “Republican” than for his/her own name. In other districts, those where Democrats are dominant, a Republican candidate will certainly try to hide that fact.

So, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Republican Ernesto Sampson, running for the 69th District Delegate seat made vacant by the retirement of Democrat Frank Hall, doesn’t highlight his party affiliation on his campaign signs. After all, the 69th is a predominantly Democratic district. In fact, Ernesto is so shy of the fact that he is the nominee of the Republican Party that he doesn’t seem to mention it on his campaign website either. Yup, Ernesto would like us all to forget that he represents the GOP.

If you look at his website to see why he is running, you would think that Ernesto is a Democrat. He promises that he will carry out President Obama’s education plans. Ernesto seems to be the only Republican in the country who has something good to say about our president.

The one thing on his website that indicates that Ernesto is, in fact, a darling of the GOP is the long list of Republican politicians who support his candidacy. Mr. Sampson has been endorsed by Delegates Sam Nixon, Manoli Loupassi, Tim Hugo, Bill Janis and Chris Peace, all of whom are not only Republicans but vote very conservatively in the House of Delegates. He is also endorsed by the chairs of the Richmond and Chesterfield Republican parties. So despite the sheep’s clothing that Ernesto Sampson wears, he is definitely a wolf… I mean Republican.

Getting back to his campaign signs, Ernesto Sampson does something strange. His is the only political sign I’ve seen this year that has the candidate's picture on it. Now, a picture takes up a lot of room. Putting your picture on a campaign sign cuts down room for displaying your name in the biggest letters possible. So, why would Ernesto Sampson waste space by putting his photograph on his signs?

There is one thing I forgot to mention. Not only is the 69th District predominantly Democratic, it also has an African American majority. Could it be that Ernesto Sampson put his photograph on his campaign signs so that African American voters can see that he is also African American? Can it be that Mr. Sampson is playing the “race card”? This maven certainly hopes not.

But, I am being too suspicious of Mr. Sampson just because he is hiding his Republican affiliation. I am sure that the only reason he put the picture on his signs is so that we can all appreciate how handsome he is.

Why Deeds Will Lose

Last week I was up in the Democratic hotbed of Northern Virginia. I was talking politics with some friends and asked who they were voting for for governor. They were all voting for Creigh Deeds. I asked them why. The only answer I received was “because he’s not Bob McDonnell.” Ay, dear reader, there’s the rub. None of them were particularly enthused about Creigh Deeds—he was just the ABM (Anybody But McDonnell) candidate. Even this late in the campaign, my friends really knew nothing about Senator Deeds. And, if he weren’t running against ultra-conservative Bob McDonnell, they had no reason to vote for him.

But, you may ask, isn’t Creigh Deeds the one who won the Democratic primary by a landslide? Isn’t he the one who received half of the votes cast in a three way race, in which he had by far the smallest campaign chest? How can someone who was so popular among Democrats in June be virtually unknown now?

Let’s look at Creigh Deeds’ campaign message. It is very clear to this maven that Senator Deeds is running as the ABM candidate. His campaign ads tell us why we shouldn’t vote for Bob McDonnell, but say nothing about why we should vote for Deeds. What is Senator Deeds’ campaign theme? What has he done to demonstrate that he is the person who should be our next governor? What do we know about him? About his family? What does he believe in?

On the other hand, let’s look at Bob McDonnell’s campaign. It has stayed on message from the beginning. He is “The Jobs Governor.” He has the attractive family. He is the guy with solutions to all Virginia’s problems. Even when he has been attacked based on the views he expressed in his master’s thesis, he has stayed on message. He runs some defensive ads, but mainly it’s still family and jobs.

What has happened to the effective campaign Deeds ran in the primary? Has he forgotten that he won the primary because he was the only candidate who was NOT running negative attack ads against his opponents? In the primary campaign Deeds was the one with the family (I remember that he went away to college with only a few bucks in his pocket and mom’s advice). Deeds was the one who stayed on the positive message of what a good governor he would be.

So, where did it all go bad? Surprisingly, it was when Bob McDonnell’s master’s thesis was made public. Somebody on Deeds’ campaign staff decided that this was the weapon that would win the campaign. Suddenly, all of Deeds’ campaign was focused on that thesis and how it affected McDonnell’s votes in the legislature. Gone was “Deeds will be a great governor” as a campaign theme. In came “Bob McDonnell voted against abortion and contraceptives for married couples.” And now, with the ads issued in response by the McDonnell campaign we have a “he says, he says” dispute with nobody knowing who is telling the truth. This is NOT the kind of campaign that wins elections in Virginia.

And now, this maven is getting e-mails from the Democratic governors and from the Virginia Democratic Party and from the Deeds campaign begging for more money. They all tell me that if they only have enough money they can prevent the Republicans from reversing last year’s great victory. But will more money make a difference? Not if it is going to be spent on more of the same. This campaign will not be won by money. It will be won only by a campaign message that tells me and a million other Virginia voters why Creigh Deeds is the right man to be our next governor.

Is John O’bannon Too Conservative For The 73rd?

One of the hotly contested House of Delegates races in the Richmond area is in the 73rd District, where University of Richmond professor Tom Shields is trying to unseat incumbent Republican John O’bannon. For reasons too complicated to discuss here, I attended a debate between these candidates last month. Just to see what these guys stand for, after the debate I looked at their campaign websites.

On Doctor O’bannon’s site (John is a physician), he brags about his record, including three items that show that he “Shares Our Virginia Values”—

· 100% rating from the Family Foundation
· “A” rating from the National Rifle Association
· Never voted for a tax increase

I have no intention of taking on the NRA (they being heavily armed), and (since he’s a Virginia Republican) I’m not surprised that John has never voted for a tax increase. But let’s look at this Family Foundation 100% rating.

As you know, the Family Foundation is a conservative lobbying group that is pro-life, pro-family, pro-parental authority, pro-constitutional government and pro-religious liberty. Each year the Foundation issues a report card rating the members of Virginia’s Senate and House of Delegates. As explained in its report card, a 100% rating means that a legislator voted “profamily” on all of the foundation’s chosen bills, and a 0% indicates that a legislator voted the "wrong" way on those same bills. In the House of Delegates, nearly all of the legislators that were rated 100% are Republicans (Lacey Putney of the 19th District is an Independent), while all those that rated low (nobody was so bad as to rate a zero) were Democrats.

So, how did you have to vote (and how did John O’bannon vote) to rate a 100% rating from the Family Foundation? These are some of John O’bannon’s “profamily” votes:

· John voted to require abortion clinics to provide information that fetuses experience pain.

· John voted to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.

· John voted to prohibit state funding of embryonic stem cell research.

· John (a physician) voted for a two-year delay in implementing the recommendation that 6th grade girls receive the HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer.

· John voted for offering women seeking an abortion an ultrasound of their fetus.

· John voted against adding sexual orientation to the state’s non-discrimination in hiring law.

· John voted against including life insurance in Virginia’s domestic partner benefits law.

Based on this record, is John O’bannon a bit too conservative for voters of the 73rd District? In less than four weeks we'll know.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

A Chutzpah Award For Bill Bolling

The TV ads being run by and for incumbent Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling tell of all the things Bill plans to do if he is reelected. But, wait a second. Isn’t Bill the incumbent? Why has he done none of these things during the last three and three quarter years serving as Lieutenant Governor?

He uses the motto “New Ideas for a Better Virginia.” I don’t understand, Bill. Did it take you nearly four years in office to suddenly come up with new ideas? Have you been doing nothing since the last election, Bill?

Bill has ideas to bring jobs to Virginia. Bill has proposals for boosting the economy. But apparently Bill’s ideas and proposals will only work in a second term.

For running an ad campaign which treats the voters of Virginia as idiots, the maven grants a chutzpah award to Bill Bolling.