Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'll be visting with my dad and seeing other family over this holiday. Because family takes priority, especially during this joyous holiday season, there'll be no posts until sometime late next week.

I wish all of you and yours a happy and safe Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

With Friends Like These

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is one of our staunchest allies. And President Bush and the entire Bush family have enjoyed close personal relationships with the Saudi royal family.

The problem with this is that the Saudis are the major exporters of Sunni terrorism. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers on September 11th were Saudis. And the Saudi clerics have aggressively proselytized the rest of the Middle East with their puritanical anti-Western brand of Wahabbiism. In fact, the madrassas, the Muslim religious schools from which most of the young Islamic radicals spring, is funded and staffed by Saudi clerics and their supporters. I've long said that if you really want to fight Islamic terrorism, you have to go to its heart and soul, which is Saudi Arabia, not Iraq.

Anybody who tells you differently doesn't understand the Muslim world or Islamic religion.

Now comes a disturbing story that highlights how extreme and puritanical the religious faith of the Saudi Wabbiists is.

According to this CNN account, a 19 year old woman, who was raped by seven men was originally sentenced to 90 lashes of a whip for the crime of being with a man to whom she wasn't married. All Saudi women must be accompanied in public by a male relative, either a husband, father, or brother. Women must be chaperoned at all times in that country. They are not allowed to drive or to work outside the home without permission. In fact, they cannot even seek surgery or other medical care without male permission.

Because the woman appealed the sentence and talked to the media, the Qatif General Court increased her sentence. The men who raped her were originally sentenced to two to three years in prison. They also had their sentences increased to two to nine years. Why does something tell me they will probably serve the original two years anyway and only the woman will suffer the extra punishment?

In all the cases I've ever heard of blaming the victim, this one probably wins the award for the most gruesome.

But to add insult to injury, the woman's lawyer also has been disciplined. Abdulrahman al-Lahim, the attorney, has had his license revoked and is facing a three year suspension and disbarrment.

And what has been the official reaction of our country to this? According to CNN, there's this:
White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend, who announced her resignation Monday, called the case "absolutely reprehensible" but told CNN's "American Morning" the Saudis deserve credit for their assistance in battling terrorism. "This case is separate and apart from that, and I just don't think there's any explaining it or justifying it," she added.

And here's a further administration reaction:
In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said U.S. officials had "expressed our astonishment" at the sentence, though not directly to Saudi officials. "It is within the power of the Saudi government to take a look at the verdict and change it," he added.

I think we'll be waiting for a long time for any justice. This, after all, is the same country where in the 1990s, Saudi religious police blocked the entrance to a burning school so that young girls could not escape a fire because the religious police were more worried that the girls would be seen without their head scarfs than that they would burn to death in the blaze.

Meanwhile, the case has sparked outrage among human rights groups, including within Saudi Arabia itself.
"This is not just about the Qatif girl, it's about every woman in Saudi Arabia," said Fawzeyah al-Oyouni, founding member of the newly formed Saudi Association for the Defense of Women's Rights.

"We're fearing for our lives and the lives of our sisters and our daughters and every Saudi woman out there. We're afraid of going out in the streets.

"Barring the lawyer from representing the victim in court is almost equivalent to the rape crime itself," she added.

Human Rights Watch said it has called on Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah "to immediately void the verdict and drop all charges against the rape victim and to order the court to end its harassment of her lawyer."

I hope I'm wrong, but I don't hold out much hope of any justice for this victim of rape. Nor am I optimistic about our war on terror. I've said it before, I'll say it again. We are in the wrong place, fighting the wrong war. We've managed to get ourselves smack in the middle of a civil war that didn't have to happen in Iraq while the real extremists are running around free, jacking up the price of oil and socializing with the Bushes.

As I said in the title, with friends like these, you don't need enemies. Unfortunately, we've made them anyway.

Monday, November 19, 2007

When There's No "There" There

In the frenzied final days of Virginia’s 37th District Senate race I picked up and posted a story about a supposedly questionable real estate deal in which Ken Cuccinelli had allegedly been involved. At the time I took the position that Ken had a reputation for integrity but since this looked bad, he should explain it to his constituents. And along with some other bloggers I wondered why nobody from the mainstream media had picked up these allegations to investigate them.

Last Wednesday I found out.

That evening I spoke with Ken Cuccinelli, who called me to explain it. He made clear that he was doing so only because I was his constituent and he told me to feel free to use it on my blog or not, it was my decision. He personally was not inclined to answer what he felt was more a campaign dirty trick than a substantive charge. I think he was right. For myself, I just ran with the story rather than checking it out. I put the onus on him to answer it. A good journalist doesn’t do that and I knew better. Before you print an allegation like that, you call and get the subject’s explanation. If the person declines to talk to you, you put that in your article. I’ve criticized other journalists for failing to that. It’s basic good reporting and is a journalistic fundamental.

But I also tried to have it both ways. After all, I’m not a journalist. I’m an amateur with a day job so I simply put the story out with a disclaimer that I gave him the benefit of the doubt but it was up to Ken to answer the charge.

Not exactly.

It’s up to the person writing the piece to pick up the phone. I didn’t do that. Ken, who had every right to be annoyed, however, was the one who did exactly that.

So, I feel I owe it to him and his reputation to follow up and write what I now know and especially to inform my readers that he indeed answered my questions.

Frankly, I’m going to keep the explanation to the bare bones. I don’t want to rehash it or give it a new life. So, here’s the take home version:

Ken had a client whose family had been feuding for years. The client’s mother and sister were not speaking and the sister wanted to sell her one-third of a family home back to the mother. Ken was asked, as an attorney, to make a third party purchase. He bought the one-third interest in the property and four days later sold it to the mother. He was not a beneficiary and received no consideration. He was a nominee, or stand in, for the transaction. That’s why he legally was not obligated to pay a grantor’s tax. It’s also why he had nothing to declare from the purchase on his disclosure forms.

If he earned anything, it was in his capacity as an attorney for his law firm. Transactions like these are not unusual. They are employed routinely when families can’t get along and need to settle estate disputes and transfer property from one party to another.

In addition, the lobbyist client was somebody whom Ken had known previous to his becoming a state senator. In fact, he was introduced to that person by a law professor in college.

Finally, the media did follow up on the story. Four or five reporters, including one from WTOP and one from the Examiner, called Ken the next day and followed up on his account. The reason you neither read nor heard anything about it is because after those journalists did the research they found they had nothing to write about. There was no “there” there.

Another Union Endorsement for Leslie Byrne

Leslie Byrne just announced another union endorsement. The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, AFL-CIO, CLC District Council No. 51 voted unanimously to endorse Leslie.

Here's a quote from their announcement:

The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 51 proudly endorses Leslie Byrne for the candidacy for the U.S. Congress in the 11th District of the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2008. For over 20 years she has been an advocate for working families. She has an unblemished record for defending workers rights by addressing issues important to working families in the legislature. We are confident she will continue to be a voice for us in the U.S. Congress to advance the common good of all.

Congrats to Leslie on snaring another union endorsement. For those who don't realize it, Leslie has been a friend of labor for many year, and often at great personal cost when it was not popular to stand up for Virginia's working men and women. Her history with organized labor goes way back and she has earned every endorsement she has received or will receive.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Just Some Housekeeping

Leslie Byrne has her new website up. H/t to Ben Tribbett who's already posted her bio on NLS. It's no secret to those who regularly read the blogs that both of us are big supporters of Leslie Byrne. I'm also putting her site on my blogroll.

In addition, I put up a new site called Virginia Commitment. Here's a description from their site of who they are and their purpose.

Virginia’s Commitment is a coalition of concerned citizens, homeowners, landowners, consumers and business people which seeks 21st century approaches to promote Virginia’s growth and prosperity.

Dominion Power wants to build a new 81-mile-long transmission corridor in Virginia. They say it’s all about Northern Virginia’s need for electricity. The truth is quite different. If built, Dominion Power’s power line will be bad for ratepayers, bad for the environment and bad for Virginia. We are in favor of a new approach to Virginia’s growing need for reliable energy

Worth checking out. I'll be doing some more housekeeping over the weekend, taking off the websites of those whose campaigns are over, both winners and losers. I'll be replacing campaign websites with official websites that senators, delegates or other officials may have as those become available.

No real blogging tomorrow as I'll be out celebrating my birthday. I'll be back over the weekend.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Final Wrap Up Analysis of the 37th District Race

Bwana posted an excellent analysis of why Ken Cuccinelli won the November 6th election. It’s up at his joint, as he would put it. In reading it, I couldn’t help thinking it was a wonderful companion piece to my post on why Janet Oleszek lost that election even though the 37th District is trending Democratic.

As Bwana said:

But all this wringing of hands in Democrat land overlooks one thing-Republican state Senator Ken Cuccinelli ran the ideal campaign, and he should be congratulated on that. I do not mean perfect-there were glitches along the way, like the failure to have any presence at all at Day 2 of the Burke Centre Festival. But Cooch set up a fundamental plan, put it in motion and stuck to it. He did not make elementary mistakes, not did he make mistakes that created an opening for Hoot to jump in. While both sides went on the attack, Cooch used Hoot’s verbal stumbles to argue she was not ready to be a state Senator without casting her as a bad person. He also did not respond to fishing expeditions by Democrats trying to create issues, nor did he do anything stupid that gave Hoot an opening to come after him-compare that with the JMDD-Chap! mailing thing.
The truth is that Janet had an excellent ground game. As Bwana notes, the Cooch did not have any presence at the 2nd day of the Burke Centre Festival while Janet’s troops were out in force. Her campaign also mailed a ton of campaign literature. Like Ken, she was at my house numerous times and left door hangers because I was never home when either candidate was in my neighborhood.

What Janet’s campaign proved was that it’s not just getting out your message but the content of the message that counts. Her constant emphasis on the abortion issue was talking past what voters were concerned with. I’ve already made the point in the previous analysis and won’t harp on it here.

I think Bwana is also right that Ken refrained from personal attacks on Janet and stuck to capitalizing on her verbal gaffes and stumbles in the debates to argue that he was better suited to serve in the Senate. He made her competence the issue, which is fair game. But he never implied in any of his attacks that she was a bad person despite the fact that they are diametrically opposed on his most passionate issue, right to life. That’s an issue where people can really get vitriolic. For every time she called him an extremist, he could have roused his base by returning fire and saying that she was an immoral baby killer. But he refrained from that and simply stuck to the issues on which the voters were most focused.

The important thing is that no matter how much more conservative than his district Ken is, he’s the one whose message connected. He certainly isn’t showing any signs of moderating his position. Right out of the gate, he’s already vowing to oppose Governor Kaine’s attempt to end abstinence only sex education (here and here).

But on the campaign trail, he addressed the issues about which voters cared most including transportation, education and mental health care. He didn’t shy away from his stands on abortion and that issue didn’t help him. It probably cost him votes and made the race even closer. But enough people either agreed with him – let’s face it, there really are some pro-life people even in the most liberal areas of the 37th District – or didn’t consider it the primary issue of the campaign. My take is still that it only motivated the most committed of the base on either side. Others simply don’t feel threatened that they are going to lose reproductive rights. And with Democrats in power in the Senate and the Governor’s mansion, they probably feel more secure so barring the overturn of Roe v Wade, this should be even less of an issue next time.

If Ken can work to solve their more pressing problems – or if he is perceived as working to solve them – they really don’t care that they disagree with him on one issue.

Meanwhile, the important take home lesson for Democrats is that no matter how great your team is at the mechanics of getting out your message, you first have to have the right message that connects with voters. And more work on debate prep wouldn’t hurt either.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Gone Fishing

Ok, actually going to Tennessee for a long weekend to watch the University of Tennessee at Chatanooga play football. That's my husband's alma mater.

Then an early birthday celebration at a lovely restaurant called High Point, located on top of a mountain. It's right near University of the South (Sewanee). My mother-in-law's birthday is October 31 and mine is November 15, so we will have a joint celebration.

While I'm gone, play nicel

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Monday Morning Quarterbacking on a Thursday Afternoon

The old saying that all hindsight is 20/20 has some truth. Now that Ken Cuccinelli has probably won the 37th District, it is time to go back and do a lessons learned for the future.

There were a few things that the Oleszek campaign could have done differently and more effectively in this very close race – one, btw which shouldn’t even have been close let alone lost.

Please understand, unlike some others, I don’t mean this as criticism or finger pointing at anybody in her campaign. The truth is if I had recognized these things myself sooner, I’d have shot an email to her or called her or Jonathan. I had plenty of access to both of them. So, I was as blind to the shortcomings during the campaign as anybody else.

However, here is the single most important thing I would have done differently now that I look back at it.

I never would have labeled Ken Cuccinelli as an extremist. There were two problems with this strategy. The first is that Ken is personable, witty, and nice. If you were an average voter and you received a piece of mail calling him extreme and then you met him, you would simply discount the mailer as political hype. Most people barely read the stuff they receive because they are too busy and they get too much junk mail. They also don’t believe half the claims in TV ads because they’re smart enough to know both sides are bashing each other because they think it will help them win.

The other problem with calling people names is that most people don’t respond well to the obvious nastiness of “toxic labeling.”

A much more effective strategy to get the same message across would be to be more factual and “show rather than tell” the voter. How do you do this?

You take a few examples of unpopular votes that Ken has cast, or bills that he sponsored, and then draw the conclusion that he is out of step with his district. But first present the evidence. And then be more moderate in your assessment. In fact, given his personality, it might even be wise to start by admitting that he’s nice, charming and smart. But he’s not really in synch with the community’s views and values. Claiming he is “out of step” resonates more with voters than labeling him “extreme.” It will also match their expectation should he actually show up at their door acting reasonable. And by conceding his strong points, it would make Janet seem more rational and believable.

The other thing that is necessary is actually matching the voters’ concerns and not talking past them.

As an example, after pointing out Ken’s anti-abortion positions, instead of promising to protect a woman’s right to choose, Janet could have pointed out how Ken was more concerned with pursuing divisive wedge issues than solving practical problems. She then could have pledged to work for solutions to Virginia’s transportation problems rather than fighting the culture wars. Putting that twist on the issue would have been a more effective way to go.

The reason for this is that most women don’t feel threatened by Ken’s anti-abortion stances. They are pro choice in his district. But the truth is that their right to abortion and birth control just doesn’t appear to be under any real threat.

Until the Supreme Court actually overturns Roe v Wade (which it very well could some time in the future), nobody is going to feel threatened. It’s simply viewed as an irrelevant issue because people feel secure about these particular rights.

But if you tell them that Ken’s dedication to that issue causes him to be distracted from finding solutions to their real problems that would stir them up. It would also show that Janet was more in touch with their real concerns than Ken.

Also, during the debates Janet needed to come up with more substantive answers to issues like transportation. Failing to do so was the big mistake that hurt her performance.

The most damaging question asked her was whether she would have voted for the current transportation plan if she had been in office. It really harmed her campaign that she refused to respond fully, insisting that she couldn’t answer hypotheticals.

It would have been more effective to simply say she never would have voted for this plan.

She should have insisted that she would have worked for a different plan, explained what she was in favor of as an alternative, and then never budged from it. If she was pressed further, then she could have said that she couldn’t answer the hypothetical because she really believed she would have been more effective at crafting a compromise and so wouldn’t have had to make that choice. Period! End of discussion no matter how many times she was pressed. Once you’ve given a substantive answer you are not obligated to elaborate on it and beat it to death just because somebody keeps badgering you. You just stick to the answer until they get tired and move on.

However, at that point, had she been the one who wanted to move on, she could credibly have turned the question on Ken. Why didn’t he work harder to craft a better compromise?

She should also have been more aggressive during the debate at pointing out that although Ken claimed to want to change the funding formulas so that NoVa residents received more of their tax dollars back from the state, he failed to deliver. She should have pressed him by reminding him that he was a member of the party in power. If he couldn’t bring home a better funding formula while the Republican Party was in charge, why did he think he would do better if the party changed hands, which everybody knew was a real possibility. She could have pushed the fact that he didn’t get along with his own moderate leadership so he surely wouldn’t be effective if Democrats took over.

And finally, there is no substitute for coming up with clear, specific positions and policies. A candidate has got to take some risks by putting out an agenda for people to see and vote on. I don’t believe Northern Virginia voters would have voted against raising money to fix problems as long as they were convinced that the candidate proposing it would be a good steward of their tax money, use it wisely and raise it cautiously.

In short, my advice to a candidate would be this.

You have to convince them that you have good judgment and won’t try to break the bank. Virginians respond to fiscal responsibility. Persuade them of that and don’t disappoint them when you are in office. Be honest about the funding you need, the limitations on what you can do with what you have and present them with a clear plan, including how much it costs, to improve things. Above all, address their real needs and interests rather than tilting at ideological windmills.

And that would be the winning formula for the 37th District. In fact, it would probably work in most areas but especially there.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Reflections on Yesterday's Elections

Oh my, what a night!

I stayed up longer last night than I had in years. Part of it was because of the partying. There was no way Dan and I were going to go home at our usual 10 or 11 o'clock. Dan, especially, had worked hard on the labor to labor GOTV at Northern Virginia's Central Labor Council. There was a great deal for us to celebrate.

And this morning, we were getting phone calls from friends from as far away as New York and Florida congratulating us on Virginia's wins.

Of course, it was closer than we would have liked. And some races that we should have taken, we didn't. And in one case the results still aren't known.

The Oleszek-Cuccinelli race is still up in the air, heading to a recount. In that district, it never should have been that close. Even Ken acknowledges that he is far more conservative than the constituents he represents. However, he is an excellent campaigner, intelligent, charming and likable. And he was a superb, sharp, witty debater. All of that helped him.

Janet ran a great ground game and she's far smarter than a lot of the rightwing blogosphere gives her credit for. I still hope she can pull it off based on the absentee ballots as well as the official recount. Most people will agree that recounts don't usually lead to a reversal of the original results but they are necessary to ensure the fairness and integrity of the process.

Having said all that, I actually once worked in a very close race in Fort Lauderdale where my candidate was winning on election night in a real squeaker very similar to the contest in the 37th District. And once the absentee ballots came in, it got even closer, right down to the wire. And in a heartbreaking reversal in the recount, we lost by single digits.

I don't think that will happen this time, but you never know.

Having said that, I'm not going to do the usual "winners-losers" recap, though I will have something to say about winners and one loser later on. Nor am I going to agonize, as a few progressive bloggers have been, about the ones we lost or that were too close and should have gone better.

Instead, I'm going to savor the victory that we did win. There will be time to sit down with the numbers and analyze the results when we prepare for next year's elections. And taking a hard look at what we did wrong as well as all the things we did right will be a necessary prelude to picking candidates and setting strategy for the next round. There's always room for improvement.

But for this time, the Democrats were pumped, energized, and ran an excellent ground game which is the envy of state-wide Republicans. In addition, we really utilized some significant technological enhancements to our GOTV effort, some of which I've heard will still not be talked about publicly. And I think we also dominated the blogosphere.

Progressive bloggers were disciplined, had a coherent message and stayed on it.We worked to help candidates across the state. And when the mainstream press fell short in covering a story adequately, the blogosphere was able to step into the breach and get out the facts that newspapers, radio and TV tried to ignore or squelch. The days when a corporate press could act as the only gatekeeper and prevent one side's message from getting full coverage are over. Voters have a variety of resources at their fingertips when they sit down to gather the facts and make their choices.

As far as the winners, in this election, the real winners are the people of Virginia for having given Tim Kaine a majority, albeit a slim one, so that he can enact legislation that will truly benefit the whole state. Hopefully, we will be able to implement a pre-K school program that will benefit our children, provide more adequate mental health services, and do more to solve Virginia's transportation problems and also protect the environment.

Another big winner is moderation. Republicans on their blogs are consoling themselves that Virginia is basically a conservative state that will not be happy with the the Democrats they've chosen. I think those bloggers are wrong. Virginia Democrats are not uber liberals. They are moderates and centrists who are interested in pragmatic solutions not social wedge issues that divide people. The big loser of the night was demogoguery in all it's forms.

The illegal immigration issue did not deliver the blow out victory that Republicans had hoped it would. It seems they are running out of boogy men to scare the voters with. That does not mean that Democrats should ignore the issue of illegal immigration. Far from it.

Gerry Connolly had the right idea. By focusing on limiting the impact of illegal immigrants' activities, such as gathering at 7/11 stores to pick up day labor jobs, or crowding into illegal boarding houses, Fairfax County was able to protect the property and quality of life of its residents without breaking laws or running afoul of the Constitution.

In addition, Fairfax has concentrated on curbing gang activity and has lowered its crime rate making our area one of the safest suburban regions in the country. A pragmatic focus on outcomes that are possible and legal trumps grandstanding and demonizing a whole group of people every time.

As the Democrats rightly noted, the solution to the problem of illegal immigration must come from the national level. So, next year, I'd like to see proposals and solutions from the Democratic candidates running for Congress, the place where this problem will truly be solved. And the proposals I want to see are those that will secure our borders, discourage businesses from hiring illegal immigrants to depress wages, and provide some sort of amnesty to those who are otherwise law abiding and have lived in this country and held jobs for years. They deserve humane treatment as a part of any solution to this problem.

Finally, every candidate who ran is a winner. Whether they won or lost, they helped to make ours a stronger democracy through their effort, hard work, and sacrifice to run for elective office. I say, thank you to every one of them. And thank you to everybody who came out and voted. You are all winners because you participated in the electoral process and made our democracy stronger for it.

And thank you to both sides of the blogosphere for the spirited, sometimes heated, and always fascinating converstation. May it continue!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Last Minute Democratic Pep Rally

I want to end this night on a high note with something inspirational for Democrats going into tomorrow's elections. So, for some great coverage of today's pre-election rally at George Mason University, go here to Raising Kaine for Lowell's coverage of the event. And for a real treat, Raising Kaine also has some beautiful photography of the event by Mary Lee Cerillo. Go here to view the work of a talented photographer who captured this pep rally for our Democratic candidates.

I wish every one of them the best of luck and victory tomorrow!

If You Need Further Convincing

If you need still further convincing on the importance of this Tuesday's election, here's a link to last night's Inside Scoop with Mark Levine. One warning, it is an hour show featuring representatives from local unions talking about how the state-wide elections will impact working people.

Thanks to Jim Southworth for the link.

November 6th - Decisions Are Made By Those Who Show Up

UPDATE: I received this, from Norman at Raising Kaine, as a comment:

In the 68th House please vote for our incumbent Katherine Waddell, Independent. She is running against Loupassi, republican, and Grogan, another Independent. Loupassi is the favorite to win with major support from the republican party and eric cantor.(Norman from Raising Kaine blog)
I knew there would be good people that I would forget to include. And some readers will come on and scan quickly and not go to the comments, so I'm updating to post this information, with a sincere thanks to Norman for letting me know.

I suspect it won’t come as a surprise to any of my readers that my one last pitch to get out the vote tomorrow, Tuesday, November 6, will be to vote Democratic. Here’s a partial run down of Democratic candidates to vote for. I’m mostly sticking with the local races in my neck of the woods and with the people I know the best.

For the Senate:

Janet Oleszek over Ken Cuccinelli in SD 37
Chap Petersen over Jeannemarie Devolites Davis in SD 34
George Barker over Jay O’Brien in SD 39
Chuck Colgan over Bob FitzSimmons in SD 29

For the House of Delegates:

Bruce Roemmelt over Bob Marshall in HD 13
David Poisson over Lynn Chapman in HD 32
Marty Martinez over Joe May in HD33
Margi Vanderhye over Dave Hunt in HD-34
Rex Simmons over Tim Hugo in HD 40
Jeanette Rishell over Jackson Miller in HD50
Chuck Caputo over Marc Cadin in HD 67

The one exception to my “all politics is local” rule is to urge voters in the 1st SD to vote for John Miller over Tricia Stall. Anybody who takes a pledge to oppose public education on general principle, as Tricia Stall has done, is too extreme to ever sit in a legislative body anyplace.

These are the candidates who are most in step with the changing constituencies in Northern Virginia. It’s time to replace the ideologues who would rather pursue divisive social wedge issues in the legislative body with those who want to find solutions to the pragmatic problems facing ordinary Virginians.

We need a legislature composed of people who will work with Governor Tim Kaine to find lasting solutions to our transportation problems and funding for public education, including all day kindergarten programs. In addition, our mental health services are woefully under funded and there is a pressing need to see that people get the mental health treatment they need to prevent future tragedies in our state.

Finally, Republicans had eight years of their party ruling the commonwealth, both the governor’s mansion and then also the legislature during the 1990s. They brought Virginia to the brink of financial disaster before Mark Warner became governor in 2001 . Warner restored Virginia’s bond rating and put the state back on firm fiscal footing. Under Tim Kaine, who has followed in Warner’s footsteps, Virginia continues to be rated one of the best states to do business.

But both Warner and Kaine have had to fight an intractable legislature every step of the way to accomplish anything. It’s time to give Tim Kaine a Democratic majority so that Virginians can really see what he will accomplish for them.

If they don’t like the results, they can vote Democrats out of office in the next election. Unlike other states, Virginia holds elections every year so any time our citizens don’t like the direction of the state, they can send a message. But it’s time to give the Democrats the chance to move forward a Democratic agenda to benefit Virginia. Without giving Tim Kaine a Democratic majority to work with, that opportunity could be lost.

Fairfax Count Races

In addition, for the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, I’m urging people to re-elect Gerry Connolly as Chairman. Also vote to re-elect Sharon Bulova and vote for Mike McClanahan.

Fairfax is a well run county whose leaders have not given in to hysteria over illegal immigration. Rather than succumbing to the temptation to demagogue the issue and to get entangled in expensive and illegal attempts to curtail services to illegal immigrants, Fairfax County has focused on enforcing zoning laws and other regulations to mitigate the worst effects of illegal immigration such as overcrowded and illegal boarding houses, too many parked cars, gang activity and crime. Indeed, Fairfax has enjoyed a decrease in gang related activity and our crime rate has been steadily declining.

In addition, Fairfax has been a leader in the Cool Counties initiative to fight global warming and be more environmentally responsible.

Furthermore, although he is often criticized for being too favorable to big business and developers, Connolly and the Board passed big box legislation and a living wage bill. For those pro-working people pieces of legislation, they are to be commended. I don’t think Republicans would have been as responsive to the needs of middle class and working class citizens. So once again, the Democratic elected officials in Fairfax have benefited working Virginians and deserve to be retained in office.

And for the school board, Ilyung Moon, Liz Griffith and Tina Hone.

I'm sure I've forgotten some good and deserving people. If so, please forgive me. Fortunately, mine is not the only site you can visit for campaign and election information.

Finally, I must add one last pitch. A low turn out is expected for all these races. There was a line in an old West Wing show: “Decisions are made by those who show up.”

Please, please show up!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Ken Cuccinelli Supporter's Last Minute Tactics of Desparation

I'll start out by saying that I don't believe any of this was authorized by Ken Cuccinelli himself. And I know that, to a certain extent, this may be unfair guilt by association to blame him for the actions of a few of his more desperate and extremist supporters. But here is a picture of the defacement of one of Janet Oleszek's campaign signs.

In addition, a suporter of Cuccinelli sent out this e-mail to other Cuccinelli supporters:

Hello Everyone...

As you know I am NOT a big fan of 'mass' e-mails; however, we are only 3- short days away from Election Day and it's important we get the 'right' people in place. This is one of several e-mails I have sent to solicit your support for Mr. Ken Cuccinelli.

As I have said before, and I will say again... Ken Cuccinelli is someone that not only has my respect but my complete support.

Now let's talk about Janet "oh my God is she an ugly liar" Oleszek. First and foremost as a woman I have to say, having a woman, like her, in office would do NOTHING for woman period. I personally want a woman in office I could absolutely be proud of... that clearly, under no uncertain terms, is NOT Janet. No... Janet is NOT for Fairfax... Janet is for Janet; that's it and that's all. Janet knows she can't win fairly so what does she do... this sorry excuse for a human lies and tries to smear the good name of Ken Cuccinelli. How original... growing a brain would do this woman A LOT of good. And Janet's unprofessional, dishonest and nasty behavior that speaks volumes as to what you can expect from Janet, this monster, in the highly unlikely event she would ever be elected. Unfortunately for Janet her disingenuous, unprofessional and unethical behavior can NOT begin to discredit what an amazing person Ken Cuccinelli truly is. Janet needs to grow up, find some morals, buy some ethics... and, most importantly, while she's at it Janet should absolutely consider a face lift. Have you seen her? Janet gives a whole new meaning to the word F-UGLY.

Back to Ken... Ken is PRO-Family... PRO-Virginia... PRO-Fairfax... and Ken Cuccinelli supports you, the good, honest, tax paying citizens of the 37th District.

Re-Elect Ken Cuccinelli, a man who will do right by you...

Not some sorry excuse, lying, sick, twisted and manipulative woman like Janet. Janet can ONLY hurt the 37th District- this I promise you.


I am not exactly sure why this person, I assume it's somebody named Georgia, put the pro-Ken writing in blue and the anti-Janet stuff in red but I kept the original color scheme that appeared in the email.

Given that blue usually stands for Democrats and red for Republicans, one would think Georgia was confused and color-challenged as well overly excitable and not very intelligent.

I guess campaign supporters are sort of like family, you don't always get to pick the ones you want. I couldn't imagine anybody thinking Georgia was an asset to any campaign. Nor do I think campaign vandals are an aid to anybody's cause.

I mean, if I were to see anybody's signs defaced, I would assume it was that candidate's opposition and think less of him. It's an unworthy tactic that usually backfires as it should.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Powerful Populist Democratic Message from John Edwards

I haven't decided which candidate to support in next year's presidential primary. But John Edwards' powerful populist message speaks to my heart and moves me emotionally.

Any long time reader of AIAW knows that, like Edwards, I consider myself a populist at heart. So, I'm proud to present this moving video clip with a h/t to Mosquito Blog for bringing it to my attention.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Leslie Byrne Endorsed Unanimously for 2008 Race

The Communications Workers of America (CWA), Region 2 today unanimously endorsed Leslie Byrne in her congressional race in the 11th CD.
Congratulations, Leslie!
Thank you, Lowell, for the photo,
which I lifted from RK.

Ken Cuccinelli on the Defensive About Cock Fighting Ad

PM has a post up on Raising Kaine about Ken Cuccinelli's response to a Humane Society ad that takes him to task for his position on cock fighting. The ad appeared locally and apparently has the Cooch on the defensive.

He voted against measures to outlaw cock fighting in Virginia. Since Maryland and North Carolina have both made it a felony, the fighting venue have moved to Virginia, bringing with it, not just a disgusting and cruel sport, but the crimes of gambling and drug and alcohol abuse that go with it. Ironically, this "sport" - and I use the term very loosely since there's nothing sporting about arming chickens with knives and razors in their claws to make their deaths more bloody and painful - is popular among some groups of illegal immigrants, the very people Ken claims to want to discourage from coming into Virginia.

In addition, in a letter he wrote to the Connection newspapers, defending his position, he ends with the, what he thinks is witty, comment that he enjoys a good drumstick.

So do I. But I don't enjoy the thought of animals dying in a needlessly painful and violent manner. When animals are slaughtered for food consumption, it is usually in a manner that is quick and as painless as possible, not in a drawn out bloody battle waged for entertainment.

I'm not sure I get the Cooch's faux libertarian values. He works hard to prevent women from having access to birth control yet he makes light of cruelty to animals.

And, no, I'm not comparing the life of a human to that of an animal. I deliberately left the abortion issue out of this. I'm talking about his opposition to a woman's right to birth control prescriptions, something that involves no death. Again, I'll repeat for the scientifically challenged, even if life begins at conception, preventing conception is not the same as murder.

But making light of the bloody and protracted death of animals for sport and entertainment is being a poor steward and misuing God's creatures. It does not have the same moral equivalency of harming a human being but it is nonetheless immoral and probably a sin.