Friday, March 25, 2011

I've Left the Virginia Democratic Party...

Cross-Posted at DailyKOS and the HokieGuru blog

And not because I don't have progressive views about the future... the Virginia Democratic Party has left me.

The Virginia Democratic Party has been "leaderless" for almost two years. We've had hit rock bottom. Let's talk about some of the things that need to be fixed for me to come back into the fold (e.g out of Independent status)... let's start at the top:
  1. Barack Obama - I love you, Mr. President, but no one knows what you stand for. You've been AWOL in the federal budget fight, you accept whatever cuts the House Republicans want, and we are now in a third war (and we are borrowing from China to finance those operations). I don't see you standing up for the party members, either... I see you talking in generalities, but there is no positive message from you on how your policies (or lack there of) are going to make the nation better off.
  2. Tim Kaine - Dude, please quit playing drama queen and get off your "fence" about running for Senate. You have ruined the chance that other candidates (much better candidates, I might add) will run for the federal political office that impacts every Virginian's life. After your tenure and the DNC (and the substantial electoral losses... pretty much wiping out our 2006 and 2008 House and Senate gains), why anyone would want you to run for Senate is beyond me. It's kind of like banging your head against the wall repeatedly and stopping because it feels so good (e.g. insanity). Please do us all a favor and take the ambassador position in Madrid.
  3. Jim Webb - Jim, I understand why you are leaving (Senate Dems are going to be in the minority in 2012). However, this is a time when we need your leadership in the Senate. We can no longer endure draconian budget cuts and during your last few weeks, we need you to stop caving... we also need you to talk some sense into Tim Kaine.
  4. Jim Moran - You have lost your only chance to be a House committee chairmen... won't ever happen for you... as a committee chair, you would have the authority to send resources to Alexandria and Arlington, part of the economic power engine in the State of Virginia. It's time for you to retire. We need new blood in your seat... someone that is in touch with the district and it's needs... someone that has a chance to lead. You've been a back bencher for years and it's time for you to end that charade.
  5. Creigh Deeds - You did nothing to reach out to younger voters (that's why Barack Obama won... reaching out in Northern Virginia would have been a good idea). The downslide in the Virginia Democratic Party really began with you, man. Your 2009 Virginia Governor campaign was the worst I have ever seen in politics. It might have brought the Virginia Democratic Party to pre-1993 levels.
  6. Brian Moran - Dude, seriously, where do I start? I have no idea how you are the Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia. Hello, you run for Governor, you can't even win your own home precinct, and you get this important leadership role? WTF. Really? Dude, seriously... what are you doing to build the Democratic Party in Virginia? I see no strategic message or positive message for the future originating from your office... you need to lead the efforts in this area... as a party, we can't say, don't vote for the other party because they suck... we have to say this is why our polices are going to make your life better... a strong positive message about the future is what we need. Who is in charge of strategic communication, anyway? It is bad enough that you support a proprietary educational industry that eats at the tax payer trough.
  7. Dick Saslaw - Dude, you are my Senator... I've voted for you a couple times, but I'm not donating just because you say Cooch sucks. You can only play the firewall role so long. Where is your positive vision for the future? How are you going to make life better for Virginia (and more specifically, Alexandria) residents? I see nothing coming out of the Virginia Senate "leadership."
You notice here that I've consistently talked (several times above) about a positive message for the future... this is what people respond to... how do you plan to make Virginian lives better? What can we do better than Republicans? This is a conservative state... not gonna get away with trashing the other party... must make a case as to why we are better. How will people benefit from our policies? None of those seven people above are doing that. I've never seen a party so lost in the wilderness.

And that's why I'm now an Independent voter and have left the Virginia Democratic Party. I may be back in the fold in November 2012... but you have to win me back... with a positive message about the future.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Governor Bob McDonnell - Don't Rob Higher Education

Unfortunately, I can't blame Bob McDonnell for this entirely, however:

A little-known provision in former Gov. Tim Kaine's final budget bill currently working its way through the General Assembly proposes something unheard of in higher education: taking a portion of mandatory student fees paid to universities and depositing that money in the state's bank account.

Higher education officials and advocates say it's not only an unfair "backdoor tax" on students and families, but that it could set a dangerous precedent for education funding.

This is completely different from taking general fund money [away]. This is private student money never intended to go to the state that the state is taking," said Steven Jones, executive director of Virginia21, a Richmond-based youth advocacy group. "It's a matter of the public trust."

Nice... not... the proposal would also dip into university reserve funds, including the interest that accrues on those accounts. Colleges around Virginia use those funds for capital projects, including dorm renovations, new student housing, and other projects.

At a time when workforce reductions and tuition increases are happening at every college in the state, Virginia cannot afford to rob higher education anymore. Remember, this is only the beginning... if Bob McDonnell gets away with this, he'll try this same tactic with elemetary and secondary education.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is Bob McDonnell considering a tax increase?

In the State of the State address the other night, the governor had this – and only this -- to say about taxes:
The budget that was waiting for me at 12:01pm on Saturday requires $4 billion in cuts.

Some say taxes must be raised – it’s unavoidable. Here’s what I say. I will work with you –Democrats, Republicans and Independents. We will meet and negotiate; there will be disagreements, and there will be compromises.

Virginians are struggling with the worst economy in generations. We will not turn our economy around by taxing Virginians more. To do so would ignore the indisputable truth that the fiscal fortune of any government is tied to the economic prosperity of its people.

 Therefore, if you pass a bill in this recession that raises taxes on the hardworking families of Virginia – I WILL VETO IT.

 And if you pass a budget embedded with those same tax increases – I WILL NOT APPROVE IT.

I find it hard to believe that McDonnell would seriously consider raising taxes. Given the choice between responsible, constructive governing and blind adherence to an ideology that teaches that taxes and government are always bad, a Republican that dreams of a future in his/her party will choose ideology every time.

And yet, McDonnell’s specificity of language is intriguing. Would he approve a tax that was not imposed on “the hardworking families of Virginia” – say, a gas tax, or an increased sales tax, or additional taxes and fees on business. Of course, ultimately, those taxes hit hardworking families, but one could at least argue that they are taxes actually levied on others.

After all, if the Governor meant all taxes were off the table, there was a more direct and clear way to say so, like “Read my lips. No new taxes!”

But he chose not to do so.

Could he be telling the General Assembly he would support a tax incre…er….revenue enhancement of some sort, if could be argued that the burden does not, somehow, fall on families.

I’m sure I’m off base. My Republican friends in the Commonwealth might be misguided and dangerous ideologues, but they are not stupid enough to fall for this.

But there is a $4 billion budget gap that McDonnell needs to close, and I am eager to see how the Governor solves this puzzle over the next couple of months by expense cuts alone, consistent with the promises of his campaign.

Friday, January 15, 2010

EXTRA! EXTRA! McDonnell renegs on transportation promises

Well, Gov-elect McDonnell has reneged on his promises to fix Virginia’s transportation mess.

I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, that this has happened!

Not that it matters much. McDonnell’s “plan” for transportation was always clearly intended as so much campaign fodder, and never intended as an actual and practical solution for the Commonwealth’s transportation issues.

Still, Bob McDonnell is responsible for his own actions, and reneging on a promise so central to his election before he is even sworn in is, frankly, inexcusable, even in these cynical times. But it won’t be the last promise on which McDonnell reneges, unfortunately, as most of his campaign was premised on presenting an image of himself completely at odds with the reality of who Bob McDonnell really is.

The trick for McDonnell, of course, will be to maintain his viability as a national candidate while delivering on his “Manchurian Candidate” role to remake Virginia in the image of Pat Robertson (it’s all laid out there in his thesis). To accomplish this, I suspect that much of the dirty work in the social arena will fall to Ken Cuccinelli, with McDonnell simply not interfering with Cooch and instead playing the role of “Moderate Bob” insofar as most citizens are concerned, with a healthy dose of winks, nods and coded language to the teabaggers he will need as he reaches for national office.

That’s what’s up, it appears, with McDonnell’s low key demeanor and overtures to Democrats heading into his inauguration.

Progressives are at an inherent disadvantage compared to Republicans when it comes to acting as an opposition party. Because we believe in the capacity of government to act as an agent of progress in society, we try to find areas of constructive compromise and cooperation with political opponents when they operate the levers of power, even at the expense of supporting policies we know to be wrong because they possess some good aspects, and even if short –term political objectives are impaired in the process.

While the reasons were certainly more complex, it was this general approach to governing that allowed Democrats to seek common ground with President Bush throughout most of his presidency, notwithstanding his record of lying and incompetence. It was only following Katrina that common sense took hold, although it was too late by then, and Democrats realized that they were doing long-term damage to the country by supporting Bush policies.

For Republicans, however, being obstructionist is not only entirely consistent with their philosophy that any government action is inherently bad, quite apart from the objectives and means of implementation of that action itself, but it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. This strategy, of course, has the added virtue of providing the opposition with short-term political gains, as people turn on the party in power because of its inability to deliver.

I’m curious to see how Virginia’s Democrats respond to the McDonnell/Cuccinelli Administration in Richmond and to their inevitable sacrifices of education, health care, and public safety at the altar of tax cuts, much as we see McDonnell toss transportation to the wolves. And I’m curious to see the response to Cuccinelli’s efforts to reverse what little progress Virginia has made in social areas, whether the right for a woman to control her own body, gay rights and other civil liberties as he pursues his narrow Evangelical vision of society.

I do not have high hopes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2009-2010 Virginia Tech Men's Basketball Preview

Thanks to aznew for letting me guest post the 2009-2010 Virginia Tech Men's Basketball Preview. The Hokie Guru is an editor for VT Fan Focus's Men's Basketball section, and was one of the founding members of Fire Bryan Stinespring. He's a season ticket holder, and definitely has his finger on the pulse of the program right now. Here it goes:

This is my 2nd year as a season ticket holder (and I’ve watched Hokie Men’s hoops since the mid 1980’s...I remember the big upset of Memphis in 1985). We’re looking to build on a 2008-2009 season that had our Hokies finish in a three-way tie for seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Jason King from Yahoo Sports has it right when he says talent wise, we were an NCAA tournament team last year, but inconsistency kept us out of the Big Dance. Subsequently, we had to settle for a second round appearance (and quick exit) in the National Invitational Tournament. This year, the ACC media picked the Hokies to finish in 8th place considering that our big time scorer, A.D. Vassallo graduated. The Hokies will definitely miss Vassallo for his offense, but definitely not his defense.

Reports from Practice

Reports from 2009-2010 practices are limited, but tweets from Malcolm Delaney on Twitter (@foe23) show that Virginia Tech beat Charlotte and GEORGETOWN in official scrimmages. While it’s hard to take much from those results, this is a good sign. Further, there's quite a bit of buzz that our D is stronger this year. There has been an increased emphasis on overall team defense with Greenberg's squad, not unlike the mentality of our football team.

New Facilities

Arguably the biggest news of the offseason was the completion of a brand new $21 million basketball practice facility in Blacksburg. Seth Greenberg expects the facility to provide a “wow” factor that will help level the playing field in terms of recruiting against the traditional ACC powerhouses. The building is impressive, and certainly improves the perception of the program with respect to recruits as well as rivals. Hokie fans will also enjoy the fact that we pay homage to Greg “Teabag” Paulus in the form of a two-story poster in the entrance of the facility. From what I’ve heard, the players LOVE the facility and the current players have had more opportunity for practice shots this year than in the last three years combined.

A New Assistant Coach

Seth Greenberg made what many in the media say was a great off-season hire in assistant coach, Bill Courtney. Courtney is considered an excellent recruiter, especially on the East Coast, which is particularly important in the ACC. When he was an assistant at Virginia, he recruited Sylven Landesburg, the Cavaliers' best player. While at George Mason, he recruited every player on the Patriots' Final Four squad. You can see more about Courtney here. I'd say we’re lucky to have him. Welcome to Virginia Tech, Bill.

The Schedule

The knock on our Hokies in previous seasons is that we did not have enough quality wins (non-conference and ACC) to make the Tournament. This year, we have an opportunity to pick up some strong wins before the ACC season begins. The highlights include Temple in the Philly Hoop Group Classic, Iowa in the Big 10/ACC Challenge, Georgia at home, Penn State on the road (when I first heard that game announced, I thought it was for football and I was massively excited). Hokie fans should still be excited about the basketball matchup, and I will be travelling to Happy Valley to witness it in person. The Hokies will also take on Seton Hall south of the border in Mexico. In ACC play, we have a pair of home and road games with North Carolina, Boston College, North Carolina State, Miami, and Virginia. The Hokies have single home games against Clemson, Wake Forest, and Maryland. The Hokies go on the road for games against Florida State, Duke, and Georgia Tech. I wish we could play Maryland and Duke twice (so I could boo both teams off the court and yell “Teabag Paulus” and “General Greivis Vasquez” for the hell of it), but this is the way ACC scheduling works out this season. In short, we have some good opportunities for quality non-conference and conference wins. If we come out of the blocks hard, we should have a good chance to be undefeated by the time the ACC season begins.

The Roster


  • Malcolm Delaney (Junior, G, 6’3”, 190 lbs) – The best player we’ve had at Virginia Tech since Dell Curry (some would argue that Ace Custis should be rated higher than Malcolm… I disagree). He is the undisputed team leader and we need him to be more vocal this year. Delaney is preseason First Team All-ACC and is the leading scorer among all returning players in the conference. Malcolm is listed in Top 25 Point Guards as well. Delaney is a combo guard (e.g. he can play point and shooting guard) but his natural position is shooting guard. To improve his game, Delaney participated as a player and counselor at LeBron James’ Nike Summer Basketball camp in Cleveland. Delaney has the best jump shot (think rainbow) I’ve seen at Virginia Tech. Towards the end of the season last year, fatigue might have been a factor with Delaney...let’s hope that’s not the case this year. Look for him to have A GREAT YEAR that might bounce him into the NBA draft.

  • Dorenzo Hudson (Junior, G, 6’5”, 220 lbs) – A possible candidate for third scorer on this team. Towards the end of the season last year, Hudson starting scoring a bit more, averaging 6.8 points per game in the final two months of the season. We need him to step up and be a defensive stopper.

  • Terrell Bell (Junior, G/F, 6’6, 205 lbs) – A player who is “challenged” offensively...but on this team, he won’t have to score points. We'll need him to be our defensive shutdown guy this year, which could include a major role off the bench.

  • Erick Green (Junior, G/F, 6’4, 185 lbs) – One of the new recruits...a pure point guard and someone I have high hopes for. We need him to eat up 15-20 minutes per game by the middle of the season so that Delaney can move to the shooting guard (and get some rest on the bench). Erick can run the offense and can play solid defense (he’s also a taller point guard). He won't play Deron Washington defense (ha), but pretty good defense nonetheless. Green can score when he’s asked to, but he’s not a Delaney-type in that area of his game. I’ve heard reports from practice that he is very athletic, but needs to be more aggressive. Green’s development could be the key to our season. If he progrresses, he could take over a starting role by January. He is the first true "pass-first" point guard that the Hokies have recruited in the Seth Greenberg era.

  • Ben Boggs (Freshman, G, 6’4”, 200lbs) – A guy who will be asked to spell Delaney and Green...if he plays good defense, he will see some time on the court.
  • Paul Debnam (Senior, G, 6’3”, 195lbs) – A fan favorite who will never see the court, except in mop-up duty.


  • Jeff Allen (Junior, F, 6’7”, 250lbs) – Perhaps the best front court player we’ve had a Virginia Tech since Ace Custis. The Hokies will count on Allen for major scoring and rebounding this year. Allen has worked hard in the offseason and we need him to be a force this year. Allen is listed as one of Top 25 Power Forwards. He was also a counselor at LeBron James’ Nike Basketball Camp with Delaney.

  • Lewis Witcher (Senior, F, 6’9”, 218lbs) – Lew is only senior on the team. He's a guy who we are going to need strong leadership from this season, along with scoring points and being aggressive on the boards. He's a borderline starter, but if he is not aggressive on the boards, he will be coming off the bench for his final season.

  • J.T. Thompson (Junior, F, 6’6”, 210lbs) – J.T. is always that player who can provide a spark off the bench...the problem is that he isn’t big enough to handle most strong forwards and isn’t quick enough to hang with most speedy forwards, but he's got the work ethic. He is a fan favorite because he plays hard to the whistle every time he is on the floor, and he is a leader. He may or may not start this year considering his size, but he’s beast on the boards. It would be nice if he could be third scorer, but he does many of the little things well (like working for loose balls) so I’ll take that for now.

  • Victor Davila (Sophomore, F, 6’8”, 245lbs) – A guy that was originally on Rivals' list of top 125 players that was also recruited by Wake Forest. When Davila gets the ball down low on the block, he’s pretty hard to stop from scoring (he could be a great one). He needs to be more aggressive in defensive transition and active on the boards, which are two things that might keep him out of the starting lineup. He’s a young, talented player that I hope we see some aggression from this year. He has a very good chance to be a starter, especially against teams in the ACC where we'll face off against bigger, more physical power forwards.

  • Cadarian Raines (Freshman, F, 6’9”, 238lbs) – A big guy who is going to take up some space down low, but it will take him a while to get back in the swing of things because he fractured his foot in the offseason. We’ll need his big body for the ACC season.

  • Manny Atkins (Freshman, G/F, 6’7”, 200lbs) – One of the new guys…reports are that he’s a lights-out shooter. We need one of those in Blacksburg.
  • Gene Swindle (Freshman, C, 6’11’, 260lbs) – A center project who will never see the court, except in mop-up duty.

  • Allan Chaney (Sophomore, F, 6’9”, 235lbs) – A transfer from the University of Florida who figures to fit well in Seth Greenberg’s scheme of one post man, two wings, and two guards. Chaney will be eligible in the 2010-2011 season and will likely play the “three spot.” Unfortunately, he is undergoing shoulder surgery and cannot practice with the team as a result.

Projected Starting Lineups

The Hokies will likely have two different starting lineups: one against small teams (that will require our quicker players on the floor) and one against bigger ACC teams (to provide a little more physicality). Here are my projected lineups:

Projected Starting Lineup – vs. Small Teams

  • Malcolm Delaney
  • Dorenzo Hudson
  • Lewis Witcher
  • Jeff Allen
  • J.T. Thompson

Projected Starting Lineup – vs. ACC Teams

  • Malcolm Delaney
  • Dorenzo Hudson
  • Lewis Witcher
  • Jeff Allen
  • Victor Davila

Closing Rebounds

  • Offensive and defensive rebounding must improve this year. We must get better on defense.
  • Virginia Tech needs a third scorer in every game, even if it’s by committee.

  • Our front court guys Witcher and Davila, really need to be more aggressive this season.
  • This might be the last year we see Malcolm Delaney (and maybe Jeff Allen) at Virginia Tech. I’m selfish though, and would love to see Allen and Delaney stick around for another year.

  • Hokies still have season tickets available, so grab them here.

Season Outlook

I believe that we’re going to do better than the ACC media predicted. That’s generally the way things work with Virginia Tech football and men’s basketball…when expectations are high, we have some issues, and when they are low, we do well. This is an experienced team who has fought in the ACC trenches and knows what to expect in key ACC road games. If the team plays with consistency on defense night-in and night-out, we should finish in the top half of the ACC and grab a bid to the NCAA Tournament.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Of course the polls are right - Just ask President Dewey...or Joe Abbey

Just back from the campaign rally in C'ville. Lots of energy, and a steadfast belief that this election is still in the hands of the voters, not the pundits or pollsters.

According to Joe Abbey, the polls are severely undercounting potential Democratic, and if we "get to the polls, we can yet do a Dewey beats Truman in this race."

We'll see what happens tomorrow, but I continue to believe that Virginians do not want to go backwards, and do not want Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli, and the cultural, social and economic regression that they represent, running the Commonwealth. As a result, I continue to believe that there is potential for a last-minute voter surge that the polls are not seeing.

I spoke with a local political observer/blogger at the rally, and asked what he thought about the polls. He was fairly confident that Creigh would do better than the polls were predicting, and he made the point that given the registration surge in 2008, there are enough Democratic voters who may be under the radar to stage an upset.

Every vote will count.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How to prevent McDonnell, Cooch bait & switch on Virginia? Vote. Just vote.

Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli are pulling a bait and switch on Virginia.

These two guys have been cultural warriors their entire public lives. How can anyone believe that once they find themselves in power that they are going to change their stripes?

Indeed, no sooner did they feel assured of victory than they began to show their true colors. As this article clearly demonstrates. Bob McDonnell contradicted a promise he made at a debate within 48 hours concerning both protecting a woman’s constitutional right to choose and non-discrimination against homosexuals. And in the last week, McDonnell has simply reaffirmed these positions.

Bob McDonnell is spitting in all of our faces. In the faces of all Virginians.

The only question is whether we will let them get away with it.

Democrats and moderates in the Commonwealth have the power to stop them.

All we need to do is vote.

That’s it. Just vote.