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Former Secretaries Urge LeBlanc’s Confirmation Sunday, 19 February 2006

Posted by R Garfield in Political, State of Virginia, Views On News.
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Senate and House Republicans have been urged by former secretaries from both sides of the political aisle to allow LeBlanc to serve on Tim Kaine’s cabinet.

I’ve been trying to figure this one out, which is why I’ve not posted anything about it before. Several people seem to feel that it’s because Senate and House Republicans want to do the big hairy ape thing and flex their biceps – maybe to show Kaine, a Democrat, just who it is that is going to be running the Commonwealth. I’ve never really bitten into either of those arguments.

What I think – and I have no real basis for this, other than armchair quarterbacking – is that it’s fear and intimidation. It’s not the Senators and Delegates that are afraid, though – it’s their behind-the-scene bosses. Recent campaign disclosures have shown once again that far more Republicans than Democrats are pocketing funds from Big Business interests, in ways that could be described as being ‘a little sideways.’

Those bosses look at the possibility of the appointment of someone who’s taken a stand for the little guy – the ones they make their bucks on the back of – and got a bit fearful. So, they pick up the phones, call up the people they made those big campaign donations to, and say “Let’s get rid of this guy. Even if he supports the policy, he’ll have a powerful PR position to speak from.”

And all the little boys and girls chorus, “Yessir!”

And we here in the Commonwealth get something that’s been on its way for some time: “Government by the Big Corps, for the Big Corps; which shall not perish from the earth.”

Senator John McCain has stated publicly that although America has done well economically, that the average American, the working class, has not shared in the fruits of that success. It looks like the GOP is determined that workers will continue to be denied a voice as well.

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One Hand Clapping Saturday, 18 February 2006

Posted by R Garfield in Bemused, Local, Political.
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Mark Twain once said,

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

Mr. Twain did not address what to do when you’re the only voice speaking about an issue. When one is drafting an ordinance, and there is no dissenting voice, well, obviously, it means that the draft will likely become the final ordinance.

But does that mean that the writer has done such an excellent job of addressing all the issues that there are no potential problems, no areas that should be excised, reworked, or expanded upon?

I’m the writer in this instance, and I certainly know better than anyone that I have never done such a stellar job at writing anything.

That is the function of committees, and boards; that is the purpose of debate in setting public policy. It addresses issues where one person may have a blind spot, or perhaps only a misconception. It may bring to light areas that may not have been addressed at all, or that harbor ambiguities or unintended loopholes.

When somone disagrees with me; I know where I stand. When someone agrees with me, I know where I stand. When the only thing I hear is silence, I am lost. I don’t know whether my ideas have merit; I don’t know if I’m heading in a positive direction, or not.

What I do know, is that the things I write affect a couple thousand people, some directly, many indirectly; and that in the absence of any debate, I am solely responsible for whatever good or ill my writings cause them… and that is a very scary position to be in.

O’Brien’s ideas, good and otherwise Saturday, 18 February 2006

Posted by R Garfield in Political, State of Virginia.
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Senator Jay O’Brien (R-39th) has suggested that local electoral boards may want to adopt a more professional image.

“In the past election, two election officials were family members of the candidate. Leslie Byrne ran for lieutenant governor, and her husband Larry was on the election board. And in Gate City, Attorney General Jerry Kilgore’s mother was on the election board down there – and this shouldn’t be allowed.”(1)

I was told that the state Democrat Party wouldn’t touch this issue because it affected some Democrats. The possibility of “Hurting Byrne” was cited. My view, and that of many other people around here in Gate City, is “So what?” If it’s wrong for one political party, it’s wrong for the other one as well. This was and is not a political tactic to damage Jerry Kilgore – this is something that’s a legitimate issue to be addressed completely separated from party bias.

O’Brien is also the only person from his side of the aisle I’ve seen (I’m sure there are others) suggesting that some real numbers be collected regarding illegal aliens and the issues that surround them. This is a hot button to push, a serious item of contention between parties, and it seems to me that for Republicans, this is a chance to ‘put up or shut up.’ Chances to say “See? I told you so!” are things that should be embraced, if you truly think you’re right on something important.
I’m for Tim Kaine’s statement that transportation funding has to be used only for transportation, rather than a slush fund for whoever wants to dip into it. So is O’Brien. What could make more sense than this? If there is a transportation crisis, then funds earmarked for transportation should be used to help offset that crisis.

I’m less than thrilled by the seemingly commonsense argument that tax dollars should only be spent in the areas where they are raised, when it come to education. The problem I have with this is that educational mandates are passed down from the state, and both the state and federal governments are fond of unfunded mandates. An unfortunate fact of life is that is you have 20 people living on a block, as opposed to 20 people living a couple of acres apart, you’re going to have more resources available to deal with unfunded mandates on the local level.

Our transportation issues are not the ones plaguing NoVa, our resources are not the same as those available to NoVa, yet the population dense areas such as NoVa are the ones these mandates come from. Pick your problem: gridlock from too much traffic, or using a horse because no road goes where you need to go.

(1) http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/article.asp?article=62137&paper=62&cat=104

Flip-Flip-Flop Saturday, 11 February 2006

Posted by R Garfield in Local, Political.
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I know why politicians are so easily accused of flip-flopping on the issues. It’s something I run into also, not as a politician, but as an appointee to various committees.

It’s a  scary thing, actually, when your work and ideas have an effect, and potentially an adverse effect, on others. Many times, you don’t know what the actual outcome of your work will be until after the fact.

That being the case, I – and others, including politicians – do the best we can with the information we have to accomplish the objectives we’ve been given – our “mandates,” if you will.

If that information unders a radical change of viewpoint – such as may be happening with the Scott County Strategic Planning Steering Committee – then you’re left with two choices:

  1. Continue along the path you’ve been taking, knowing that the objective you’re working toward may not be the one that was intended; or,
  2. Flip-Flop, taking the change of information you’ve been given as true, and worthy of consideration, even when it entails criticism and possibly, further work on something you’d like to see labelled as ‘finshed and done.’

It’s incredible to me that anyone would seek political office, or indeed, political appointment under such conditions.

What drives me, and many of my fellow voulteers, is the desire to see positive change come about in our communities. What frustrates me, and my fellow volunteers, is to work towards a goal only to either find out we’ve been working towards the wrong objective, or to see our work disregarded, and gathering dust in a forgotten tomb of good intentions.

Hyperbole over Hillary Saturday, 4 February 2006

Posted by R Garfield in Bemused, Drifting.
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Ed Morgan writes, “… this was not the head of an average human. No, it was the head of a muppet, or possibly a cyborg version of muppets to be more exact. They created her to take over control and drive us into our doom, and it is up to those that know to stop this evil creature from gaining more power and destroying our country.”

He’s referring to the now-famous photo of Hillary Clinton making a face during Bush’s Stae of the Union address.

Funny thing, when I look at Hillary Clinton, I see many things, but a cyborg muppet is not one of them. I also wonder just what “they” created Ms. Clinton.