Tuesday, June 30, 2009

House of Delegates '09 - Scott Surovell Launches Bid (44th District)

As expected, Scott Surovell announces his candidacy for the seat being vacated by Kris Amundson

An excerpt:
To truly solve the state's problems, we still need to bring change to the Virginia House of Delegates. Todays House turns down and obstructs virtually every reasonable measure to move Virginia forward. Each year, it sends scores bills focused on divisive social issues or scoring political points instead of problem-solving measures to improve people's lives. I am committed to keeping the 44th district in Democratic hands and moving the House of Delegates to Democratic control. Our leaders cannot truly solve our problems until this happens.

That just about sums it up.

Please go read.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Is Deeds Painting Himself Into a Corner on Taxes?

The answer, in short, is maybe.

The other night in Lynchburg, Deeds and Bob McDonnell took the stage separately, but at this point in time, as the candidates size each other up, it was as close to a debate as we will get -- at least for the next four weeks.

Here was the lede in the RTD coverage of the event:
Gubernatorial hopefuls R. Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell, in their first back-to-back appearances on the same stage, told Boys State attendees in Lynchburg yesterday that they could improve transportation in Virginia without raising taxes.

Deeds, a Democrat, said he would seek to pay for better roads by promoting business growth that would increase state revenues, but ultimately that growth depends on better roads.

"I have no plan to raise taxes," Deeds said twice.

McDonnell, a Republican, said he'd try to finance roads by "cutting spending on things that are not a priority."


I recently wrote about the GOP’s desire to have a debate on taxes with Deeds, saying the Democrats need not fear this debate. I noted the blog Mason Conservative, which wrote, “So yes, please o' please Deeds and Dems, run on who's going to cut taxes and who's not,” and responded as follows:
The problem is that voters will not necessarily frame the question like Mason Conservative does. The salient issue will not be "who's going to cut taxes and who's not." The issues voters will more likely be concerned with are who has a positive agenda for moving the state forward? Who has pragmatic ideas for solving the transportation problems of the state? If my taxes will go up, what will they be used for? Who will level with me about all the facts so I can make an informed decision?

I stand by what I wrote, but if the issue becomes, as Mason Conservative framed it, who will raise taxes and who won’t, Sen. Deeds will lose that argument, if not the election. No Democrat can beat the single-minded refusal of Republicans to acknowledge the legitimacy of any tax.

If voters are going to frame the issue in a favorable manner for Deeds, it will be because Deeds have effectively framed it for them.

Given this, Sen. Deeds engagement on the issue in Lynchburg did not bode well.

“I have no plan to raise taxes” is, for all intents and purposes, engagement on the GOP’s turf. It sets the stage for a discussion over who is more likely to raise taxes.

I understand the tactic -- blow the tax hiker allegation off by simply denying any intent to raise taxes. I'm just not convinced, however, it will work.

First, it affords the Republicans the opportunity to say Deeds is, well, lying about his intentions. The fact is that Deeds did vote for recent tax increases to fund transportation, so if he is going to say now he has no plans to raise taxes, he will need to explain why raising taxes seemed like the right medicine several months ago. This feeds into the caricature Republicans like to paint of Democrats -- we're incurable tax-and-spenders who won't level with voters during elections.

Read, for example, what Bearing Drift had to say today about this:
Don Beyer, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine could all do the “I’m not going to raise taxes” spiel with no voting record to deny and to suggest they might was to commit some grave sin of prevarication.

But Deeds does have a record, a long, long list of voting for tax increase after tax increase. Deeds voted for regional tax increases for Hampton Roads the same time he voted for massive tax increases across the state (we in Hampton Roads got a double whammy).

I’m not a professional political operative, so I won’t embarrass myself by trying to suggest a better message for Deeds, but (oh, okay, I will embarrass myself) as I said in my earlier post on this, it seems to me the effective response to the Republicans lay in a crafting a pithy argument along the lines of this: Deeds is a pragmatist searching for practical solutions to our problems. He will not take anything off the table if it will help the Commonwealth’s economy grow and make everyone more prosperous. No one can deny Transportation is an essential part of that. Bob McDonnell, on the other hand, is a ideologue trying to peddle the same narrow discredited economic policies of George W. Bush, unthinking reponses that are really no more than slogans that may sound good in a stump speech, but that we know from our current situation don’t work in the real world.

Perhaps I give the voters too much credit, thinking that they can understand this level of nuance. And, of course, it is easy for me, as a relatively anonymous blogger with nothing on the line professionally, to contribute my two cents. I'm quite honestly not certain what I would suggest were there a possibility of anyone actually listening to what I had to say, so perhaps the professionals have it right: When it comes to any mention of taxes, at all costs deny, deny, deny, and worry about it tomorrow.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

House of Delegates '09 - Shannon Valentine Kicks Off Re-Election Bid (23rd District)

Courtesy of Off K Street, Shannon Valentine kicks off her re-election campaign.

An excerpt:

Whenever you say Lynchburg and Democrat, most people think you're joking. The Democratic House of Delegate member from District 23 is no joke. In a part of the state where Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church are the 800 Lb gorilla in the room and the surrounding areas are all represented by Republicans and two "Independents" (Watkins Abbitt I-Appomattox and Lacy Putney I-Bedford), Delegate Shannon Valentine is the only member of the Lynchburg area delegation that demonstrates any understanding of social and economic justice and how issues directly affect people from their doorstep to the curb.

It's an excellent post with plenty of good pics.

(Note: I will be trying between now and election day to highlight good blog posts containing news about House of Delegates campaigns, in order to hammer home that retaking the HoD is of statewide importance. This is the first such post on my part.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cuccinelli's Sickening Defense Of Predatory Lending Renders Him Unfit to be Attorney General

Based on his performance at his recent debate with Steve Shannon in Virginia Beach, Ken Cuccinelli demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is not qualified to be the Attorney General of Virginia.

Look no further than Mr. Cuccinelli’s comments on predatory lending.

Mr. Cuccinelli was asked for his thoughts about predatory lending and whether he would support an interest rate cap. Here is his complete answer (emphasis added):
People wouldn’t use them [payday loans] if they didn’t need them. The alternative for a lot of these folks is nothing for some, and for others it is running up their credit cards.

This is not an illegitimate product, although it is clearly an expensive one. What we find, in my neighborhood, I have one of these near my home, is that people use them for a short term problem, try to get by the problem, and pay it back and get ahead.

Now, the problem arises when people start getting into the cycle of debt, where they can’t get out of it. That’s true of credit cards as well. Certainly, what we need to focus on in the Attorney General’s office is to make sure the lenders are telling folks the truth and giving them the full picture of the consequences of the contract they are about to enter. With that step taken, I believe widely in letting people contract for what suits their needs at the moment, as long as it’s within the law.

Mr. Cuccinelli’s answer is a fine one for a Delegate or State Senator to give, albeit one with which I would disagree. It closely tracks the industry’s talking points, and is carefully designed to put a legitimate moral face on what is simply legalized loan sharking. If a legislator wishes to spout the talking points of a favored industry, and cast his or her votes in favor of that industry, that is between them and their constituents.

But the job of the Attorney General is different, and the spouting of talking points from a predatory industry by a candidate for that office is completely inappropriate.

Among other responsibilities, the Attorney General serves as an advocate for and protector of Virginia’s citizens. When it comes to predatory lending, that obviously requires both an understanding and appreciation of the devastating effect these loans have on innocent peoples’ lives.

In saying that predatory lending is “not an illegitimate product,” Mr. Cuccinelli demonstrates that he possesses neither. Further, in his futile attempt to defend this industry, Mr. Cuccinelli unwittingly becomes the witness in chief in establishing his disqualification for the very office he is, paradoxically, seeking.

According to Mr. Cuccinelli, payday and car-title loans are designed as a one-time short-term fix for people in need of money. “What we find, in my neighborhood … is that people use them for a short term problem, try to get by the problem, and pay it back and get ahead,” Cuccinelli said, adding almost as an afterthought, “Now, the problem arises when people start getting into the cycle of debt, where they can’t get out of it. That’s true of credit cards as well.”

But the fact is that Payday and car title loans are not, in practice, short-term, one-shot loans. In fact, according to the group Virginians Against Payday Loans, 99% of payday loans are converted into long-term debt.

Data from the Virginia Organizing Project tells the same story. According to VOP data from 2005, 90% of these predatory loans were made to persons who take more than five loans per year. Amazingly, 62% of the loans were made to people who take out more that twelve loans per year!

The industry is obviously hip to this economic reality. The VOP reports that more than 90% of the industry’s revenue is derived from fees paid by these trapped borrowers. In 2006, the VOP found, the typical payday borrower paid back $793 for a $325 loan.

Make no mistake, this is exactly what the product is designed to do – otherwise, the predatory lending financial model will not work. Consider, it cost lenders money to secure each new customer, i.e., advertising, paperwork, credit checks, etc., but the cost of developing business from a trapped borrower is relatively minimal, because they have no choice but to come to the lender and borrow more.

So, right off the bat, for someone as intelligent as Mr. Cuccinelli to describe these lending products as legitimate because they are just short-term, albeit costly, one-time loans to tide people over until they can get back on their feet is -- and there is no way to sugarcoat this -- a lie.

In this sense, payday and car-title loans are a classic bait and switch, advertising themselves as a relatively fair and simple transaction to attract customers, while the lenders real goal is to trap borrowers in a long-term cycle of debt.

It is mind-boggling to me that a candidate for Attorney General, even a Conservative Republican, would defend this as a “legitimate” consumer business tactic. Simply amazing. There is no honor or principle involved in defending abusing fellow citizens.

Further, Mr. Cuccinelli mentions the problem with being trapped in a cycle of debt in an almost off-hand manner, comparing it to revolving credit card debt, minimizing it by comparing it to something that millions of Virginians do every day in a responsible manner. In doing so, Mr. Cuccinelli removes any doubt that he is simply misinformed about the severe effects of predatory lending, and makes it clear that he is involved in active deception of the havoc such lending wreaks on thousands of Virginians.

Finally, Mr. Cuccinelli drives the final nail in his coffin with his assertion that payday lending is simply a matter of allowing people to contract for what suits their needs. No honest, knowledgeable and serious attorney can believe this to be the case.
In a payday lending transaction, almost by definition, involve unconscionable adhesion contracts that would not be enforceable but for the legitimacy laid upon them by Virginia’s ill-advised and ill-enacted legislation. The borrower is always desperate. Furthermore, the gap in the relative sophistication level of the lender and borrower is typically quite large. So, even as the law declares these agreements to be lawful, as a moral and ethical matter the parties to these transactions are in no way on equal footing bargaining at arms length. To suggest entry into predatory lending agreements is simply a manifestation of the free right to enter in contracts, good or bad, turns the entire idea of freedom on its head. Freedom does not mean that the rich and powerful in society ought to be free to abuse the weaker and more needy members of society, does it?

Finally, the suggestion that all this can be cured by some frm of disclosure is naive, at best, and dishonest, at worst.

Look, I am 180 degrees opposite from Ken Cuccinelli on the political spectrum, so I wasn’t going to be voting for him either. And the problem is not that Mr. Cuccinelli is misstating the current law – predatory lending is lawful in Virginia.

But that doesn’t make it right or ethical or moral, and the fact that a candidate who aspires to be Attorney General of Virginia presents himself as a defender and apologist of the disgraceful predatory lending industry just makes me sick.

Crossposted to Blue Virginia

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

McDonnell's Social Agenda: Run Away! Run Away!

In a post today, Conservative blog Bearing Drift was discussing a fund-raising e-mail from the Deeds campaign, in the process of which it claims the e-mail uses "the same tired rhetoric about McDonnell’s 'extreme social and economic agenda' (you mean the one that wants to create jobs, stimulate the economy, and keep taxes low?)"

Now, I don't work for the Deeds campaign, and am not certain what his campaign meant in this particular e-mail, but Bearing Drift's Mr. Hoeft, who wrote the post, is obviously smart enough to know that creating jobs, stimulating the economy and keeping taxes low are, at best, goals we all share, and at worst, meaningless political bromides intended to masquerade a candidates real policies.

That said, perhaps the "extreme social and economic agenda" to which the e-mail refers is one that, given its druthers, would outlaw all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest, and even if the life of the mother is in danger; one that would leave in place outlawed gay marriage and civil unions; one that would deny gay people the right to become judges, and presumably other professions as well, on the grounds that they may have violated an anti-sodomy statute; one that rejected $125 million in federal aid for Virginia's unemployed on the grounds that it offended some debatable legal interpretation of state sovereignty.

But truth be told, all that is beside the point. What I don't understand is why Mr. McDonnell and his supporters seem to be running away from his extremely Conservative social positions.

Strange. It's like they are trying to keep this part of Mr. McDonnell's record from the voters. I wonder why?

GOP Howl on Transportation: Taxing and Spent

Lawyers have a saying about the proper way to mount an effective argument at trial.

If the facts are against you, the saying goes, you pound on the law. If the law is against you, you pound on the facts. And if the law and the facts are against you, you pound on the table.

Yesterday, trying to defend Virginia Republicans against charges of inaction on the issue of transportation, William Howell, the Speaker of The House of Delegates, pounded on the table.

By way of background, last week Gov. Kaine published an article in the WaPo discussing the GOP obstruction on transportation funding in the House of Delegates. Sunday, Speaker Howell responded with a political rant entitled, “Virginia Republicans Kept Their Promises on Transportation.”

Teeing up his attack on the Governor, Speaker Howell begins by falsely accusing Kaine of “[attempting to tag] Republicans in the House of Delegates with sole responsibility for every failing of Virginia’s transportation system.” According to Howell, “In [Kaine’s] view, credit for all progress on transportation belongs to his administration and the federal government under President Obama.” Gov. Kaine, according to Howell, is a “partisan hard-liner.”

Hilariously, Howell then proceeds to claim, on behalf of Republicans, credit for all progress on transportation in the Commonwealth, and to attack Kaine and Democrats in the House for opposing the GOP because their proposals did not include tax increases, as if tax increases were an end in themselves.

To be fair, Kaine did lay some blame for the state’s transportation woes at the feet of the GOP, specifically, the decision “that we should not invest more state dollars in transportation.” He also asserts Republican legislators “rebuffed” his “efforts to get more money for statewide or regional needs.”

These, however, are not so much partisan attacks as they are simply statements of fact with which I suspect, were he not so intent in working himself up into an angry lather, Speaker Howell would agree. Indeed, Howell crows about the efforts to block the gasoline tax increase Kaine proposed during the recent special session of the General Assembly, so what exactly is the beef he has with Kaine saying exactly the same thing, albeit from a different point of view?

But, hey, why should the GOP let reality intrude at this point? In defending Republican performance against Kaine’s imagined attack, Howell asserts that House Republicans were the sole driving force behind such initiatives as public-private partnerships for pursuing transportation projects and land use legislation.

Hmmm. I wonder what Gov. Kaine had to say about these initiatives? Did he take “sole responsibility” for them, as Howell claimed?

Here is what Gov. Kaine wrote about public-private partnership and land use legislation: “These changes have been important and generally bipartisan in nature.”

Uh, okay. Perhaps Speaker Howell missed that sentence when he read the article.

More seriously, to understand Speaker Howell’s table pounding requires some understanding of the dynamics of the transportation debate, and the larger problem facing the GOP as it seeks a return to political relevance.

Whatever critiques may fairly be leveled against Gov. Kaine for his failure to fix the Commonwealth’s transportation issues (and there are some), and whatever good policies the House GOP may have supported from time to time (and there are some), the central fact is that the Republicans in the House of Delegates have blocked efforts to address the core transportation problem in the Commonwealth: the lack of new funding for desperately needed new transportation infrastructure, mainly in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

For the last several sessions, the GOP has supported various budgeting tricks that move non-existing dollars from one place in the budget to transportation, measures that relied on projected surpluses that never materialized, or measures that rely upon speculative revenue to be generated, if ever, years in the future, such as future revenue from off-shore drilling. But these are measures designed to give the illusion of providing new funding while doing nothing of the kind. Whatever the relative merits of off-shore drilling, given the controversy over it, is staking transportation funding on revenue derived from it a serious and responsible proposal, or is it political theater?

Needless to say, the Righty Blogosphere in Virginia, found Howell’s argument convincing and inspiring. Gov. Kaine’s, uh, not so much. “Bill Howell Kicks Some Ass,” gushed Too Conservative. The generally more sober Tertium Quids was less sanguine about Howell and the GOP, but it labeled Kaine’s mostly factual article “strange.”

In fact, Howell’s aggressive broadside was a signal that Bob McDonnell and the GOP will default to its stale and discredited tactic of anti-tax demagoguery to obstruct any effort to deliver new funding for transportation. No matter how minimal or necessary such funding might be, it will undoubtedly be characterized as “the biggest tax increase in the history of the world since forever.”™ Indeed, that counts for Howell’s, if misplaced, denunciation of Kaine’s supposed partisanship on the issue. The GOP’s anti-tax position is not intended as a rational argument over policy; it only works as a rallying cause against the evil of government.

Howell's rant also presages the upcoming election.

Consider this from the blog Mason Conservative:
So yes, please o' please Deeds and Dems, run on who's going to cut taxes and who's not. I want to talk more about your plan to raise the gas tax during on the worst recessions in a long long time. I want to talk about Deeds supporting raising vehicle registration fees I want to talk about Deeds supporting fuel tax in Northern Virginia, I want to talk about Deeds voting for the 2004 tax increase while Messrs. McDonnell, Bolling, and Cuccinelli all voted "NO." Over and over again, "centrist" "conservative" Rural Courthouse Senator Creigh Deeds has voted YES, YES, YES for tax increase.

So please, lets make who's more likely to raise taxes on the middle class be it directly, or through gas, or through fees a legitimate issue. Because on the back benches in the Senate, Deeds sat back and voted yes over and over on this.

I certainly don’t speak for either the Deeds campaign or Democrats generally, but that debate will spell Democratic victory in November. Sure, there is an element of the electorate virulently anti-tax to which this argument will appeal. But this election is not about their votes, which are not going to Sen. Deeds anyway.

The problem is that voters will not necessarily frame the question like Mason Conservative does. The salient issue will not be "who's going to cut taxes and who's not." The issues voters will more likely be concerned with are who has a positive agenda for moving the state forward? Who has pragmatic ideas for solving the transportation problems of the state? If my taxes will go up, what will they be used for? Who will level with me about all the facts so I can make an informed decision?

And so forth...

This election is about he votes of Virginia’s moderates, and thanks in part to the failed administrations of Gov. Jim Gilmore and, more recently, President George W. Bush, these voters have wised up to the tired and mindless anti-tax rhetoric anti-tax rhetoric of the modern GOP. People have come to understand that the cause of low taxes for their own sake, disconnected from a discussion of the policies and programs such taxes are meant to finance, is not a recipe for good governance.

Does the Mason Conservative really want to talk about the 2004 tax increase? Is there some way to gauge how voters feel about that. If only we could have a proxy election on the issue, like Mark Warner running against Jim Gilmore for statewide office, perhaps we'd get some insight into that question? Ah, well, it’ll never happen – I guess we’ll just have to speculate about what voters think.

More recently, given the severity of Virginia’s transportation problem, does Mason Conservative really want to discuss the gas tax? Consider the proposed increase beat back by Republicans in the House of Delegates during the special session.

The proposed increase was a one cent per gallon per year over the next six years.

To put that into some context, if the average person drives 12,000 miles per year, and assuming an average of 25 MPG, in translates into an additional $5 per year. That would be a total of $30 over the entire six year period.

Of course, some will be taxed more, some less, depending on a variety of factors, but that is the average.

I’m confident, presented with all the facts, voters will, as a general matter, collectively come to common sense conclusions. This year, Creigh Deeds and the Democrats will be having a serious and honest discussion with voters about setting the Commonwealth on a path of sustained prosperity and economic justice and opportunity for all, a path that begins with fixing our transportation problems.

William Howell, Bob McDonnell and Mason Conservative meanwhile, signal that they will just be pounding the table.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Conservative Incoherence at Virginia's Righty Blogs - UPDATED

I am still new at dealing with the Conservative blogs in Virginia, having spent my still young blogging career mostly immersed in Democratic primary battles. But my experience the last few weeks seeing the give and take between the Progressive and Conservative sides of the blogosphere has been illuminating.

For one thing, it has helped me better understand the crisis that seems to have overtaken the Republican Party and the Conservative movement. At one time, I thought this crisis was simply the result of the failed competence of the Bush presidency, but I am beginning to understand that the crisis, much like the failed Bush administration that precipitated it, results more from the intellectual incoherence of Republican policies than it does from incompetent implementation.

Take the recent contretemps over a post at Bearing Drift this past week by J.R. Hoeft stating that Congressman Tom Perriello “cast the deciding vote” to bring Guantanamo detainees to Virginia.

In truth, Rep. Perriello did nothing of the sort. He voted against an amendment that would have prohibited allocating funds to close down the prison at Guantanamo Bay. The amendment was defeated by one vote, but it was less than clear whether any one Congressperson was “the” deciding vote. And as Rep. Perriello made clear, his vote was based on his moral, ethical, and religious principles, not arm-twisting or following the leadership.

But leave all that aside for the time being.

Because the post focused on “bringing detainees to Virginia,” Mr. Hoeft was clearly advancing an argument that Virginians should be afraid having the detainees in our midst because our prison system could not guarantee holding them securely, either because of lax security or a legal system that would defy all logic and reason by releasing them into society. Indeed, this has been the undercurrent of the whole “closing Guantanamo means bringing terrorists to America” argument, of which I assume Mr. Hoeft is aware.

Lest there be any mistake, Bearing Drift commenter Jessica Pruesser explained:
Several of the commenters here are missing the point about Gitmo. It is not just that they will be brought here, it is that when they are brought here they will be granted the rights of American citizens (which they are not) and then let go by some judge to roam around our streets and start new terrorist cells, because you know dang well that the fed will not be making sure they get sent back to wherever they came from. Which btw none of them want, because those people actually DO torture them.

There is, of course, a legitimate debate to be had about whether to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Unfortunately, this is not it. This is just silliness and fear mongering.

So, I wrote a post calling the Bearing Drift post “patently absurd” and explaining my reasoning. Anonymous is a Woman, one of Virginia’s better bloggers, wrote a stronger critique, attacking the implicit assumption in the Bearing Drift argument that America’s prison guards could not adequately guard the terrorists.

That put Mr. Hoeft and some other righty bloggers in high dungeon, channeling their best Capt. Renault -- they were shocked, shocked I tell you, to be accused of fear mongering. It was, on the one hand, kind of amusing watching them cast about when confronted with the logical implications of their own unserious arguments, and my first instinct was just to sit back and watch them flop around helplessly like a fish landed on the deck of a boat, angry, defiant and without any defense whatsoever, save their anger and defiance.

But, ultimately, the sheer disingenuousness of it got to me, and so I am responding.

Here is the comment Mr. Hoeft, the author of the post at Bearing Drift that started it all, left at AIAW’s blog:
This has nothing to do with prison guards or their ability to keep us safe.
It has everything to do with wasting taxpayer money when we have a perfectly good facility at GITMO already doing the job.
It has everything to do with creating unnecessary demands on our local populations when we have to move the prisoner to the courthouse.
It has everything to do with granting U.S. rights to people sworn to undermine the U.S. system of governance and law and order.
It has everything to do with putting these prisoners in general population, allowing them to sew their seeds of hatred amongst U.S. inmates.
It has everything to do with the POTENTIAL of making the area surrounding the prison a target for outside terrorist groups and extremists.

Now we’re talking. Here are some serious arguments. Lets take a look at them, shall we?

Does this have anything to do with prison guards?
I never said it did. I’ll leave Karen to deal with that. My sense of her post, though, was that she was trying to make a point about the absurdity of Mr. Hoeft’s argument more than anything else.

Is GITMO a perfectly good facility?
That depends on what Mr. Hoeft means by “perfectly good.” If all he means is that it is serving its function as a warehouse for human beings to be securely maintained as prisoners, I’d agree.

But Guantanamo Bay has become an unfortunate symbol of an American justice system gone awry, one in which many innocent people, apparently including minors, have been imprisoned for years without any legal rights or review whatsoever. Prisoners have been tortured and abused there, as well. Forget whether or not this makes Guantanamo a recruiting tool for our enemies, there is simply no doubt that the prison, as a symbol, is clearly corrosive to our credibility and moral authority in the world, and is therefore impairing our international power and influence over the behavior of other nations.

But even if you disagree with that assessment, you must acknowledge that the perception I describe is a reality, and that as a result Guantanamo Bay cannot be characterized as “a perfectly good facility.”

Will unnecessary demands be placed on local populations when moving prisoners to courthouses?
Perhaps, but I’d disagree those demands are “unnecessary.” People are inconvenienced all the time in the name of ensuring Constitutional rights for despised minorities. This, more than anything else, makes America a great country, and it is a source of strength for us.

Also, the pragmatic aspects of this can be minimized in any number of ways, for example, by housing prisoners on military bases or at prisons that are not near population centers. In short, Mr. Hoeft’s argument that this would place unnecessary demands on local populations hinges on his assumption that authorities would implement this policy in the stupidest, most inconvenient way possible. Mr. Hoeft, apparently, is under the impression that George Bush is still President.

Will granting “U.S. rights” (whatever they are – I presume Mr. Hoeft means certain rights guaranteed by the Constitution) to people sworn to undermine the U.S. system of law and governance create some unstated difficulty?
I have no direct response to this “argument.” I don’t profess to be a Constitutional expert, but is Mr. Hoeft seriously suggesting that obsequiousness to the U.S. system of justice and government is a criteria for entitlement to Constitutional rights? If he is, and if it turns out he is right, he’s got me, and he wins the argument!

Will putting prisoners in the general population radicalize our homegrown criminals?
Personally, I suspect that the terrorists would have more to fear from being placed in the general population than we have to fear from the risk of them radicalizing American prisoners -- I’d imagine in the jailhouse pecking order that al Queda terrorists would rank somewhere below child rapists, -- but whatever, if this is a real concern, the detainees can easily be housed outside the general population.

Will the area outside the U.S. prison where detainees are held become a terrorist target?
Maybe, but all that will mean is that when given the opportunity to strike, terrorists would simply strike there rather than someplace else. There are already plenty of targets in Virginia.

Look, here’s the problem for Mr. Hoeft and his fellow travelers on this issue: When we seriously debate the merits of closing down Guantanamo, we quickly reach an impasse and it comes down to a judgment call. Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on my judgment or Mr. Hoeft’s judgment to resolve this issue. In America, we have elections to decide who will make the necessary judgments on questions like this, and we have, as a nation, elected Barack Obama as the President of the United States. And he has decided.

Which brings us full circle to Mr. Hoeft and his Republican cohorts resort to silly scare arguments rather than actual arguments on the merits, which they will lose. His position, as reflected in his initial and most revealing post on the matter, is not so much a brief against closing the prison as it is a wailing rage of frustration at the election of Barack Obama and the electoral losses of the Republican Party.

That explains why arguments advanced by an otherwise obviously intelligent individual like Mr. Hoeft are so draped in purported outrage, and so lacking in coherence.

UPDATE: Check out Drew's first rate research on this at his excellent blog, DemBones. As it turns out, all the fear-mongering had been specifically resolved in legislation passed a few days before the Guantanamo amendment that specifically prohibited the release of Detainees on U.S. soil, rendering the hysterics of the righty blogs even more disingenuous.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Final Word on Terry McAuliffe

I just want to say a few words about Terry McAuliffe.

I have refrained from commenting on the recent primary, but given all the noise surrounding McAuliffe’s candidacy, and several post-election analyses I have seen that I think simply miss the mark, I have a few comments.

First, several of the blogosphere’s McAuliffe-haters have asserted that but for their relentless stop-Terry-at-all-costs campaign, he might have won. Some of these bloggers that supported Brian Moran consider the election result quite unfair, believing they did the heavy lifting while Deeds sat back and garnered the benefit.

Obviously, such speculation, by its very nature, is not disprovable, but my sense it that these folks made little difference in the race, and may even have been a net benefit to McAuliffe (pun intended). While I would guess that the process of writing and posting rants against McAuliffe and his supporters had some cathartic benefit for them, in their self-righteous rage the McAuliffe haters simply failed to bother to lay out a compelling case against McAuliffe. There were plenty of allegations of guilt by association, but little proof of actual wrongdoing, at least as far as I could see. Just reading over comments to these posts on Daily Kos, where they found at least some audience (the Virginia blogosphere having quickyl tired of it), overall opinion seemed to turn against the relentless negativity as time went on – recs and tips grew fewer, even as comment activity raged on -- as with repetition the arguments castigating McAuliffe tended to reveal their flaws more than they magnified their strengths.

As for Brian Moran’s negative campaign against McAuliffe, lame both it substance and implementation, it seemed to hurt Moran more than McAuliffe.

The fact is that McAuliffe had two weaknesses in this campaign that no amount of money or personality on his part could overcome. The first was his lifetime lack of involvement in Virginia politics that left him without a reservoir of emotional and deep support in the Commonwealth upon which to draw. Supporters became enamored of him, but they were never heart and soul in his corner. When Deeds gained some momentum, it was easy enough for them to jump ship.

The second problem stemmed from the first; in order to overcome his lack of Virginia experience, McAuliffe's message was necessarily contradictory. On the one hand, as a Democrat he sought to portray himself as an heir to the Warner-Kaine legacy. On the other hand, McAuliffe also had to run as an outsider who would go into Richmond, do things a new way, and shake things up. He could not logically sustain both arguments.

This was clear in the dispute over payday lending. When McAuliffe criticized Deeds and Moran for their votes in this area, Deeds countered, correctly in my view, that he was tacitly criticizing Warner and Kaine, as well. McAuliffe tried to deny that he was doing so and to distinguish Warner and Kaine’s records from Deeds and Moran’s, but it never made much sense, because the differences, at best, were on the edges.

Most voters, obviously, don’t think that deeply about a candidate’s message or parse it so closely. But voters, IMHO, do sense these inconsistencies on a gut level. As creatures who want things to make sense, when we perceive something that doesn’t, our fight or flight instinct takes over. Since 225,000 Virginian Democrats couldn’t each kick the crap out of McAuliffe, they simply took flight and voted for someone else.

Early in the race, McAuliffe said if he were the nominee, he would be able to help House of Delegate candidates to raise money. He was challenged to pledge to do so even if he were not the nominee, and he did so pledge.

Much more than any help McAuliffe will give to Deeds, I’m interested to see what involvement he has in the less glamorous down-ticket races, and whether his interest will carry over into the 2010 and 2011 elections, as well.

Or will his obvious desire for the spotlight pull him in a different direction?

Depending upon how that plays out, we will find out what Terry McAuliffe really wants, and depending upon what that is, he might find a much more welcoming electorate in 2013.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Suspension of Disbelief

According to the web site Bearing Drift, one of the Conservative sites I have been reading and commenting on lately, Tom Perriello cast the deciding vote in the House of Representatives for bringing terrorists from Guantanamo Bay to Virginia.

I can’t really tell if this is true or not. The vote seemed to concern whether to allow President Obama to use funds to close the prison, not actually to bring terrorists to Virginia. What’s more, while the vote did sport a margin of one, I can’t tell if Perriello’s was the deciding vote; after all, when the vote is decided by a margin of one, every vote is, in theory, the deciding vote.

But, whatever, I digress into logic.

No sooner did Bearing Drift publish this little news blurb than Bradley Rees, erstwhile Republican candidate for Congress from the 5th District, was all over it on Twitter. “My 2010 opponent just did THIS,” he effused, linking to Bearing Drift. A little later, he tweeted, “What’s Tom thinking? What am I missing?”

Bradley, don’t hang a fastball over the plate like that, man.

It really is Bearing Drift, a Republican website that seems smart and serious, that mystifies me. I rarely agree with anything I read there, but have enjoyed the debates I’ve had in comments sections over the past week.

But I simply do not understand why intelligent people traffic in such patent nonsense as Bearing Drift did in this news blurb.. I understand the short-term tactical benefit that Republicans hope to achieve with advancing such tripe – it is a convenient way to scare people that terrorists will be sharing their community and, presumably, turn them against Democrats and drive them back to the GOP.

To be frightened by such a patently absurd argument, however, requires what is known is the entertainment business as the suspension of disbelief. That is, you have to buy into the clearly absurd proposition that after closing Guantanamo, the terrorists will end up living in our communities.

And if you think that is too ridiculous of a thought for most people with some measure of common sense to believe, here is what one commenter at Bearing Drift had to say:
Several of the commenters here are missing the point about Gitmo. It is not just that they will be brought here, it is that when they are brought here they will be granted the rights of American citizens (which they are not) and then let go by some judge to roam around our streets and start new terrorist cells, because you know dang well that the fed will not be making sure they get sent back to wherever they came from. Which btw none of them want, because those people actually DO torture them.

Comments like this leave me not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

I have no idea whether this kind of false alarmist rhetoric will work against Perriello in the short term, although I tend to think that most people from any position along the political spectrum would, for the most part, tend to dismiss allegations like this after only a few moments of actual thought, as the arguments proffered to establish them are completely untethered from reality.

Regardless, Democrats and Progressives have nothing to fear from such propaganda.

Republicans, on the other hand, ought to be afraid. Very afraid.

These arguments may appeal to the “Black Helicopter” portion of the GOP base, and, of course, some voters will just not have any independent basis to know whether or not terrorists will be moving into their neighborhoods, so they may be easily swayed by an argument like this.

This dynamic can win the GOP a local House of Delegates, or even congressional, election in Virginia, but the GOP's days of dreaming about sustainable political leadership or change are in the past.

Over the long run I am confident that Republican reliance on arguments like this have been and will continue to erode the credibility of the GOP because they are insulting to voters. In this case, for example, 99% of Virginia citizens will not notice a difference in their day-to-day lives whether these detainees are in Guantanamo or Alexandria, and they will soon enough realize they have been fooled, once again, by GOP rhetoric.

And if you are curious why our friends from the other side the aisle never seem to learn from mistakes like this, it is because they do not seem, at least as far as I can tell, to perceive the disclosure of the fact that they are full of it to have anything to do with people perceiving them negatively.

Ask them, and they will tell you it is the fault of the liberal media.

To my new friends at Bearing Drift, keep it up, guys. Remember, the election of Progressives benefits you, too.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Please, Don't Make Me Snark Again

Virginia Tomorrow is a website run by Bob Holsworth, a quality, if right-of-center political analyst from VCU. Indeed, Prof. Holsworth seems to be giving Larry Sabato a run for his money in the MSM quote sweepstakes.

I suppose it is only a matter of time (if it has not happened already) that a blogger opts to write under the name “NotBobHolsworth,” and we will know, for certain, that the good professor has truly arrived.

Dr. Bob, as he calls himself, publishes posts by guest writers at his site from time-to-time, and if anything, they point up what a good political analyst Dr. Bob himself is. His latest guest post, however, left me scratching my head a bit. It is from an obvious GOP shill named Tony Lee, who describes himself as “writing a book about how the GOP can appeal to minorities and Generation X and Y voters while staying true to its conservative principles and values and how Virginia is replacing California as the nation’s new harbinger state.”

In a post entitled, “Why Deeds’ Win Was Good for McDonnell,” we find the latest entry in the sweepstakes to explain why Democrats electing the best candidate to run against McDonnell was really the worst thing we could have done. (Can we really be this dumm?)

Lee’s argument, in his own words, is as follows (and as the humor columnist Dave Barry used to say, I am not making this up):
Had McAuliffe or Moran won the nomination, Republicans, thirsting for a revival, may have gone overboard in attacking the Democratic candidate. In essence, they may have made the same mistake Moran made in the primaries -- making the race about the opponent instead of about McDonnell. It would have been fun and exciting, but Virginia’s independent voters may have been turned off.”

Lee concludes, “With Deeds on the top of the ticket, the election will be less circus-like and more focused on meat and potatoes issues unless Democrats attempt to spuriously tie McDonnell to figures like George W. Bush. This helps McDonnell.”

Maybe the election will be more down to Earth, but Lee goes on to argue with plenty of bold assertions, but few actual facts, why McDonnell’s policy prescriptions are superior to those of Creigh.

At first, I had a difficult time making head or tail of this argument. But then I got to thinking about it, and could see the unassailable logic of it. Indeed, the more I thought about it, the more I realized there was recent historical precedent for Lee’s analysis.

In 2008, had the Democrats nominated Hillary Clinton for president, the election would have been the political circus Lee paints, only on a national level, and probably much worse. In their rapturous glee of going negative on Hillary, the GOP would have certainly lost focus on winning and overplayed their hand, sending huge numbers of independent voters over to the Democratic side, as surely as lemmings follow one another to their deaths by walking off cliffs.

Fortunately for the GOP, Democrats played right into the Republicans’ hands by nominating Barack Obama. saving the Republican slime machine from its own worst instincts. Unable to rely upon the backlash to the overreaction that the Hillary nomination almost certainly would have caused, Poor Obama was left only to debate issues with the Republicans, a clear advantage for the GOP. To be sure, I'm surprised Obama survived that grueling ordeal with even a molecule of pride intact.

And that is why we have President McCain in office today.

Oh, wait...uh, well, I guess I need to work on the end there. But in any event, based on this analysis, here is the point: I really hope that once Mr. Lee’s book is complete, Republicans don’t read it. If they do, we may never be able to again elect another Democrat to office.

Crossposted to Blue Virginia.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Limerick For Bob McDonnell

Long before he beat the anti-sodomy drum,
Bob McDonnell got head from a girl kind, but dumb.
When about it he claimed, "I can not recall,"
She remarked, "Hmmmm, it did seem kinda small.
It's possible I was sucking his thumb!"

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Can Virginia Afford Four Years of Bob McDonnell?

One of the Conservative blogs I find worthwhile and interesting, Bearing Drift, has a blog post up entitled, “McDonnell v. Deeds in Perspective.”

Here is the essence of Bearing Drift’s take on the election before us:
There will be many issues that will be discussed, the economy, abortion, taxes, energy, and others. The issue that really gets to the heart of this election is simple. Will our Commonwealth be sovereign?

The underlying issue is whether or not Virginia will continue to lose sovereignty to the federal government. The recent controversy over accepting certain stimulus funds, is a perfect example. Governor Kaine has, in many ways, sacrificed Virginia’s sovereignty.

Now, I thought the “Recent Unpleasantness” answered the essential, broad question of state sovereignty, but perhaps not. In any event, while Virginia’s Bearing Drift Conservatives may subscribe to this view that state sovereignty is the signature issue of this election, I suspect that Mr. McDonnell does not. I went back and looked a few polls taken during the 2008 election regarding issues that voters cared about, and I have to tell you, state sovereignty did not make an appearance on any of them. I’m guessing Mr. McDonnell, if nothing else an intelligent fellow, noticed this as well. And indeed, based on the campaign he has run so far, it seems Mr. McDonnell wants to get elected, not make a point in the Republican Debating Society.

But to the extent that this sort of superficial and weak analysis reveals the ideological underpinnings of Mr. McDonnell’s policy choices, then it is fair to ask, as Creigh has done, whether Virginia can afford four years of Mr. McDonnell as Governor.

Nothing personal or negative. Here is why.

If serious Conservatives, including Mr. McDonnell do in fact think like this, then it is indicative of the fundamental problem that infects their movement today, namely, an inability to develop a set of affirmative policies based on their ideology that can gain the support of the electorate. It isn’t their fault, entirely. For one thing, the ideology itself is simplistic and, in this day and age, historically irrelevant, at least insofar as developing concrete policies is concerned. In an era of strained state budgets, tax cuts are not appealing; in a time of greater demand for state services, spending cuts are not desirable. In an era of high unemployment, a family cannot shelter or feed themselves with the knowledge that some degree of state sovereignty has been maintained.

If I may borrow from Bearing Drift, the recent controversy over accepting certain stimulus funds is a perfect example. There is, I am sure, a great intellectual, Constitutional and moral debate to be waged over whether those funds came with too many strings attached that impermissibly trampled on an early 19th Century view of state’s rights and individual liberties , but here on Earth, in the United States of America, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in 2009, when tens of thousands of people are hungry, unemployed, homeless and just plain worried about what the future has in store for them and their children, turning down the money was just, what’s the expression I’m looking for here – oh, right, no need to get too technical -- bat-shit crazy.

So, if Mr. McDonnell just made a bad one-off call here on the stimulus funds, it’s one thing. But if it was his adherence to an ideology of protecting state sovereignty, as Bearing Drift asserts, that led him to make this BSC decision, meaning that we can expect four years of BSC decisions, then Mr. McDonnell should make that clear.

That way, we can make an informed decision of whether we can afford four years of him as Governor.

UPDATE: Lowell at Blue Virgnia noticed this post as well.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Larry Sabato's 10 Keys To The Governor's Mansion Revisited

Back in April I wrote about Larry Sabato’s 10 Keys to the Governor’s Mansion – the ten criteria identified by the UVA talking head/professor for handicapping Gubernatorial elections in Virginia that had amazing predictive power when applied retroactively.

In a somewhat confusing exercise, I attempted to use the 10 Keys as a means of evaluating which Democratic primary candidate would fare best against Bob McDonnell. EThe results were mixed, at best.

Now that the primary is over, the picture has cleared and, well, what the Hell, the 10 Keys are like a high fastball of political punditry and I have to take another swing at it.

One disclaimer. This analysis is art, not science. Reasonable people (including the three or four Virginia Republicans that fall into that group) can disagree with respect to my evaluation of each criteria, but for the most part I only conferred an advantage upon a candidate for a category if it was a clear advantage. Otherwise, I rated the category neutral.

Whichever candidate has the advantage in the most categories will be the winner. That’s not me talking -- Larry Sabado says so. As far as I’m concerned, once we have that we don’t even need to hold the election. Prof. Sabato’s opinion is typically more accurate than any election result could ever hope to be.

1. The economy, as measured by changes in per capita income and the unemployment rate in the twelve months prior to Election Day.

Neutral. Previously scored advantage R. The reason for the change is economic indicators have turned up and consumer confidence is rising. Unemployment, however, will continue to be an issue for the rest of the year.

2. Campaign Organization and Technology


3. Candidate Personality and Appeal


4. Retrospective Judgment on Previous Governor

Advantage D. Tim Kaine’s approval ratings are over 50%.

5. Presidential Popularity as measured by public opinion poll ratings for the six months prior to election day.

Advantage D.

6. Scandal.


7. Party Unity.

Advantage D. Previously rated Neutral. Reason for change is that primary is over and Democrats are coming together behind Creigh. Republicans, on the other hand, on both a state and national level, are in the midst of a serious ideological struggle to define their party in the wake of devastating electoral losses over the last several elections. This struggle is, in the long term, healthy, but it tips this category, for this year, to Democrats.

8. Campaign Money.


9. Prior Office Experience of Candidates (where statewide elective office is given more weight that a district or local office).

Advantage R.

10. Special Issues and Dominant Circumstance.


Final tally: Deeds +2

Eric Cantor - Out of Touch

Just got done watching this clip of Eric Cantor discussing Creigh Deeds’ victory on Tuesday and his handicapping of the upcoming Gubernatorial race.

For example, Cantor asserts that the Deeds/McDonnell match-up will present clear choices for the voters. Here are the issues Cantor mentions:

- The vague and usual tax and spend charge
- EFCA (card check)
- Closing Guantanamo Bay Prison

Only someone who has no idea what is going on in the Commonwealth could possibly believe these are the issues that will predominate in the race such that they are the ones you mention first. Tax and spend Democrats? Yawn. EFCA? Isn't this a Federal issue? Closing Guantanamo? What bearing does this have on my day-to-day activities?

Anyone who has been paying attention knows the issues will be the ones that will directly affect people’s lives, like transportation, education and the environment, and, of course, the interdependent relationship these issues have to the Commonwealth’s economy and jobs.

On the one hand, Cantor could be signaling that these are the issues the GOP wants to be at the fore in this election (Please, bob, please, do this!), but I doubt it. And even if he was, McDonnell is clearly to smart to follow such wayward advice. Rather, Cantor’s comments and demeanor in this interview leave me convinced he is out of touch with what is going on back here in the Commonwealth, and he was merely parroting the three ideologial talking points that are able to fit in his brain at any one time.

Well, to be fair, is Cantor simply too preoccupied with his national leadership role to pay attention to his home state, or is the problem that he is simply not too bright? A little bit of both, I suspect. Keeping track of both is part of the job, of course, and it should not be that tough of a trick to manage.

But even as I castigate Cantor, I’d like to also pay homage to his considerable skills. Intelligence, after all, is not one of the qualities needed to be a leader in today’s Republican Party. In fact, intelligence and independence of thought can actually be a hindrance.

Rather, the ability to mindlessly adopt as your own the most extreme right-wing position on any issue, the willingness to kowtow to a hate-merchant like Rush Limbaugh and an ability to relentlessly repeat talking points consisting entirely of content-free ideological bromides without a hint of shame or self-awareness are, on the other hand, much more important.

Without doubt, Cantor possesses these skills in abundance.

Well, that’s good for Rush, but in the long run, Cantor’s abysmal lack of awareness of what is happening in his own backyard is a disservice to his Virginian constituents.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

2009 Outlook: The good news and the better news

I don’t know when the first head-to-head polls showing Creigh matched up against Bob McDonnell will be out. Soon, I’d imagine. And when they do come out, I have no idea what they will show. To tell the truth, I could care less.

But as I sit here today, I have a pretty good idea where, all else being equal, the election will wind up on Nov. 3, no matter what the polls show us in the meantime, and that will be with Creigh winning this race by 4 to 5 points.

Before I get into the reason why this is so, I would just caution that we are a long way from Election Day. There will be plenty of gaffes to play out, negative advertisements to debunk and perhaps even scandals that bubble up to the surface. So, like a strong football team that can be undone by a weak one thanks to some ill-timed turnovers, quirky bounces of the football or a key player having a preternaturally great day, so can Creigh yet lose this race.

In 2005, McDonnell beat Creigh in a statewide election for Attorney General by roughly 350 votes out of nearly 2 million cast. During the primary, Creigh’s opponents would point to this loss as evidence that Creigh could not beat McDonnell.

The numbers, however, show something quite different; they show that Virginia is a different place in 2009 than it was four years ago, much to the favor of Democrats.

Take party identification. Virginia is simply significantly more Democratic. In 2005, according to Gallup polling, 46.2% of Virginia voters self-identified as Democrats or leaning Democratic, while 45.8% identified as actual or lean Republicans. The difference was .4% in favor of Democrats. Just a year earlier, however, the advantage was 11.3% in the Republican Party’s favor, a precipitous drop-off likely reflecting the diminishing approval of the Bush Administration around that time.

In 2008, meanwhile, the same poll showed self-identified Democrats and leaners at 47.5%, and self-identified or leaning Republicans at only 38.5%, a gap of 9% in the Democrat’s favor.

In addition, population in Virginia has shifted to Northern Virginia, which is more urban and more Democratic than other areas. For example, the top four Congressional Districts for Creigh in 2005 were 3, 8, 11 and 10. Creigh collectively took about 61% of the vote there (McDonnell actually won the 10th, but I have grouped it with other NoVA districts – 8 and 11 -- for purposes of this analysis.)

In 2005, those four districts constituted 35% of the total vote. In 2008, these districts constituted 37.6% of the total statewide vote, and increase of 2.5%.

McDonnell won all the remaining Congressional districts, including Deeds’ “home” districts of the 5th and 6th, as well as 1, 2, 7 and 9, with about 54.5% of the vote. Those districts constituted 65% of the vote in 2005, and 62.4% in 2008.

Do some math, and here is one thing you can learn. If all the 2005 vote percentages between Creigh and McDonnell are left in place, with the exception of adjusting the total vote count to reflect the population shift toward NoVA, it would add roughly 3,000 votes to Creigh’s total and he beats McDonnell easily. The reason is because population is moving into the areas where Democrats perform best.

So, if the candidates simply “repeat” their performances from their last contest, even though in 2005 Creigh lost, in 2010 we’d be saying, “Hello Governor Deeds.”

Of course, those percentages will not remain static, as this is a new election, with new issues and candidates with different levels of experiences and skills than they possessed in 2005. Who has the upper hand?

That brings us to the anecdotal, subjective factors, including:

- President Obama continues to enjoy high approval ratings in Virginia.
- In 2005, McDonnell outspent Deeds 2-1 (much of it during a primary, but still campaign cash spent to get his name and platform out to voters). In 2009, neither candidate will want for money.
- Gov. Kaine has approval ratings over 50%.
- Democrats are, for the most part, coming together after a hard-fought primary. The RPV, on the other hand, is bitterly divided over fundamental issues of ideology and defining the principles for which the party stands, disputes that are not so easily buried just for the sake of an election;
- On social issues, McDonnell is much more conservative than the Virginia electorate.
- While the national Republican Party can help McDonnell with money, there is a noticeable lack or party leaders able to help McDonnell appeal to the Democrats and Independents he will need to pull out a victory. Indeed, the names mentioned as potential surrogates for McDonnell, such as Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Sean Hannity, rush Limbaugh and even Mark Sanford, may fire up the Conservative base, but they would almost certainly alienate Independents and moderates in doing so. That is a tough circle to square.
- Creigh, on the other hand, will have the support of our popular governor, two popular senators and eight Democratic Congressmen to serve as surrogates on his behalf across the Commonwealth, not to mention President Obama.
- Consider electoral performance since 2005 in statewide elections:
o 2006 – Webb wins Senate election over Allen with 49.6% of the vote
o 2007 – Democrats retake the Senate
o 2008 – Obama becomes first Democrat to win state since 1964 with 52.6% of vote
o 2008 – Warner wins Senate election over Gilmore with 65% of the vote

That is a lot to overcome.

I’ve been scratching my head trying to understand what factors mitigate in McDonnell’s favor, to wit:

- McDonnell has beat Creigh once (see above – that was then, this is now).
- McDonnell is a good campaigner and comes across as a moderate.
- Despite the dominance of the Democratic Party in Virginia and nationally since 2005, the GOP insists we are, in our hearts, a Center-Right country. We just don’t know it.
- The Republicans are really sad about all their losses lately, and they really, really, really want to win badly.
- Creigh lacks toughness (not true)

Of course, a campaign and an election, indeed, will take place, and anything can happen. The point is, Creigh starts with numerous factors that give him an advantage from the get-go.

The good news is this is Creigh’s election to lose.

The better news is that Creigh is pretty darn smart, and that is unlikely to happen.

This Is going To Be A Lot Of Fun

This comes courtesy of The Mudflats, an Alaskan blog. (h/t Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly)

Check out this exchange between Sean Hannity (keynote speaker at the RPV convention two weeks ago!) and Sarah Palin, failed VP candidate, possibly a future presidential candidate and almost certain surrogate for Bob McDonnell:
Hannity: …The price of oil is going up again. It’s not quite at $140 a barrel, but it’s on its way up to $70 and $80…

Palin: Yeah, well and I thank God it’s not at $140. You know people say, “Hey, Alaska! 85% of your state budget is based on the price of a barrel of oil. Aren’t you glad the price is going up?” I say, “No!” The fewer dollars that the state of Alaska government has, the fewer dollars we spend. And that’s good for our families and for the private sector.

Steve Benen explains it:
The problem, of course, is that Palin doesn't understand why she opposes government spending. In general, the Republican line is that it's important to limit spending so to keep taxes low and prevent deficits. But that doesn't apply to Alaska at all -- it already has exceedingly low tax rates and no budget deficit at all.

The governor, in other words, wants Alaska to have less money, just for the sake of having less money.

Benen is too kind. the fact is Sarah Palin is charismatic. She has a great schtick. She obviously has some political talents. But she is not too bright. That will not work for her in Virginia.

It is virtually certain that Palin, a bona fide star in the GOP with Presidential aspirations, will be here to campaign for McDonnell. And when she does, the GOP faithful will sing her praises. Young Republican males will swoon. Young Republican women will swoon.

Progressives will be watching, too, but because we will want to see how long it takes for her to say something crazy-ass stupid. If it takes longer than 10 minutes, I'll be surprised.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Live Blogging Deeds Bash In C'ville

I'm going to try to live blog the Deeds party at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville. No promises, though. I've never live blogged before, and although I've earned a living for more than 25 years writing, I am an abysmal typist.

Right now, I'm at Escafe, a bar next to the Omni. It large doors are open, tot he pedestrial mall here in Charlottesville, and a thunderstorm is passing through. It's all actually pretty neat. I don't hang out here at all, but this is the first time I've ever been here (a) this early; and (2) sober. As I'm my second beer (one at home, one here), I mnight correct that before this evening is done.

And, in honor or Creigh, Wallflowers playing in the background. Sixth Avenue Heartache.

It was pretty quiet over at the Omni. A few MSM types hanging around the lobby wagging their huge telephoto lenses around. Some kind of old folks dinner going on in the lobby, and a lot of bored hotel workers milling about.

I'm trying to make contact with a Deeds staffer who camera died last night at the rally. I loaned her mine, and hope I can get it back so I can take a few hundred awful, out of focus photographs.

More later.

7:02 - Sh*t - polls closed while I was typing that drivel. Packing up now, paying tab...

7:31 - Finally set up in media room. Wireless working great. Sitting next to Eric, a really nice guy, from the Roanoke Times -- helped me get set up.

Still haven't found my camera.

Creigh up in suite practicing speech, I'm told.

7:46 - Looks like it will be an early night. Everyone feeling really good here. Saw James Martin, pretty happy, on the phone out in the lobby.

Spoke with Del. Dave Toscano. Asked what he's thinking aboutgoing forward. "One election at a time," he says, but he's smiling.

Also chatted with Dave Norris, Charlottesville's mayor and one of the best progressives you ever want to meet.

7:48 - Still can't find Kate with my camera. Aaargh.

8:14 - Creigh speaking soon. Finally got camera. Shooting in B/W tonight. Hockey on tv in press room.

8:29 Dave Toscano says Brian and Terry have called Creigh. Also intimates someone bigger than that has also. Hmmm....

Creigh set to speak a little before 9. Got a Bud from the bar set up in the press area. $6.

9:00 Tom Perriello next, then Creigh.

Had a great talk with E.J. Dionne (sp?), the best Progressive columnist in America, and, I found out, a Hell of a nice guy. He asked my opinion of the race -- that was weird.

Headed back to ballroom to find a perch for picture-taking.

9:29 - Back in the press room. I was kneeling down next tot he stage trying to find a place to shoot pics from, apparently right in the path Creigh was going to use to the stage. Peter Jackson shouts in my ear, "I need you out of here NOW!" and there was Creigh, on his way to the stage.

The MSM will report on the speech. He seemed to get a little teary talking about him family -- his mother, specifically, and whether she could imagine her son being nominated to run for Governor.

Creigh's about to come in press room. No pictures. One reporter tells Jackson, "You guys are getting a little uppity." (It was clearly mean as a joke).

Also, looking over my pictures. I am one poor photographer, but hopefully I'll have one or two good enough to post tomorrow.

Joe Abbey out in the lobby looks lost. He has no one to kill this evening.

9:39 - waiting for Creigh. I think I'll get another beer to kill the time.

9:51 - Still waiting. Eric, sitting next to me, from the Roanoke Times, is processing his photos from Creigh's speech. He's a pretty good photographer. I am jealous.

9:56 - finishing beer. tired. going home.

Joe Abbey: We're very confident. Still working hard for every last vote

Just off a quick conference call with Joe Abbey, Creigh's campaign manager.

Won't even attempt to put it into prose. Here were his main points:

- Having a great election day.

- We have not seen anything over the last 24 hours to contradict what we have seen in recent polls.

- We had a huge surge in volunteers

- Big increase in donations

- Seeing incredible energy and excitement

- Only thing that has changed in the last 24 hours is Terry Mcauliffe's tone and the attitude of his campaign. Before, he talked about himself. Now, he just wants to talk about Creigh.

- Mentioned the internal poll put out by the McAuliffe camp showing a dead heat between Creigh and McAuliffe. Sample size was only 200. Pollster wouldn't even allow his name on it. "I'm surprised they got the results out of Montana so quickly."

- We feel very good about our position.

- Turnout in C'ville very hight

- Turnout in the valley is very high

- Happy about what we're seeing in Richmond/Tidewater

- Think statewide turnout will be 5-6%

- Weather affected NoVA early, but after that, not too much.

- Surveying C'ville and environs, turnout already exceeds 2006.

- Very confident. Working hard for every last vote.

Five Reasons To Vote For Creigh Deeds Today

Finally, Election Day.

It has been a tough campaign at times, but not that tough compared to many campaigns. For all the complaining about “negative attacks,” there is for the most part a good amount of civility practiced in Virginia politics.

In that spirit, I wish both Brian Moran and Terry McAuliffe the best of luck.

But Creigh Deeds is the best choice for Democrats to nominate. Here are five important reasons why:

1. He is the most experienced and the most ready to be Governor on day one;

2. He has a Progressive vision for Virginia in terms of education, encouraging economic development for the entire Commonwealth and in encouraging economic justice for all citizens;

3. He is a pragmatist, able to reach across the aisle and work with Republicans to accomplish his goals for the benefit of Virginians.

4. Because he is from a rural area, he is uniquely positioned to break through the regional logjam that has prevented a solution to the transportation issues in our state;

5. He is dedicated to using his power as Governor to force non-partisan redistricting upon the Commonwealth. This will profoundly change the relationship between our government in Richmond and the Commonwealth’s citizens, and set the stage for continuing and Progressive reform for the next generation.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Brief Personal Comment On The Attack Launched At Creigh Tonight

When I first saw the letter from Omar Samaha and Colin Goddard, first on NLS and later on Blue Virginia, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, the Virginia Tech tragedy touched both of them in ways that I simply cannot understand, and I cannot and will not sit in judgment of how they, or anyone touched by this or other tragedy, choose to express their profound anger and grief.

On the other, I was bothered by the sense that, even as Lowell and Ben protested they were simply reporting news, they were also exploiting, for the political gain of their chosen candidate, Terry McAuliffe, the anger and grief of these young men. It does not matter that their letter did not say, “Vote for Terry,” because all concerned understood that, given the current state of the race, a vote not cast for Creigh would accrue to the benefit of Terry McAuliffe.

So, even as controversy over the letter the swirled on the blogs and on Twitter, I stayed out of it, unsure of my own sense of the situation. I was struck by how Hokies, in particular, were most upset by the exploitive nature of the political attack launched by NLS and Blue Virginia using this letter.

But new revelations force me to comment.

Challenged on his blog that he was working in concert with the McAuliffe campaign, Lowell wrote:

This didn't come from a "campaign," it came from Omar Samaha and Colin Goddard.


To my knowledge, swear on a stack of bibles and all that, this was sent out independently by Omar Samaha and Colin Goddard, picked up by the Virginian-Pilot, then blogs and NBC12.

But, it turns out that Samaha and Goddard, while sincere in the thoughts expressed in their letter, did receive help from the McAuliffe campaign.

Ryan Nobles at Decision Virginia reports:
However, when I asked Goddard directly about the involvement of either campaign, he confirmed that he had received assistance from Terry McAuliffe’s campaign. Specifically he said the campaign provided he and Samaha with a press e-mail list to distribute their statement. He said the e-mail was supposed to go out Sunday, but an error was made in the sending process delaying it until today.

What a sad way for Terry McAuliffe to end this campaign.

Lowell is a friend of mine, and so I’ll take him at his word that he knew nothing of the McAuliffe campaign’s involvement in this when he swore on a stack of Bibles, but I can only assume that his earlier statements, in the parlance of Watergate, are “no longer operative.”

Beyond that, I won’t compound the sadness of the events that have transpired tonight, and will simply close with Creigh’s comment on this tragic episode:

“My heart has gone out to all of the victims and the families of the Virginia Tech tragedy. There are certain events that happen in our lifetime that are above politics.”

Obama's Targeting Director Sees Deeds' Victory As Most Likely

Froma Q&A at FiveThirtyEight with Ken Strasma, President Obama's National Targeting Director in 2008, on tomorrow's election:
You got to know Virginia demography pretty well in 2008. Any predictions on what will happen Tuesday in the Virginia primary?

The key in Virginia as that we don’t yet know the demographics of the primary electorate. The Democratic primary electorate in VA has been changing over the last several cycles. The share of the Democratic primary vote coming from Northern Virginal more than doubled between 2001 and the 2008 presidential primary. We’ll see on Tuesday who does the best job of turning out their vote.

Most public polling is showing Deeds and Moran gaining and McAuliffe dropping, but the numbers are close enough that a good GOTV operation could make the difference for any one of the three candidates. I see the most likely outcome as a Deeds win, but McAuliffe could still win if Deeds and Moran continue to split the “non-McAuliffe” vote. If Moran’s supporters begin to defect to Deeds then there is probably no way for McAuliffe to win what would then be functionally a 2-person race against Deeds.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Deeds Takes Commanding Lead In PPP Poll

When even the pollster hedges this much, take it with a grain of salt. I remain on pins and needles.


Hit Me With Your Best Shot: My Favorite Attack On Creigh

Ever since the CW realized that Creigh may actually win this thing, and as we've come down to the wire, the attacks have been coming in fast and furious. All of them have been seen before and were easily batted away, at least on a substantive level, although it has been tough to keep up with the sheer volume.

Of all the attacks that have been levelled at Creigh recently, my favorite, by far, has been by a Moran supporter who offered the following reason why Creigh ought not to be the Democratic nominee:
But there is another reason ... Deeds' won't win, and it's played out very clearly in the primary race: Deeds is a milquetoast wimp that doesn't have any fight in him.

The whole time McAuliffe ran around this state making specious claims about his profligate business background, Creigh Deeds was silent. Brian Moran, on the other hand, took the gloves off and went to work. Moran and McAuliffe traded body blow after body blow and each got bloodied up pretty well. Moran for going negative (in other words, talking about McAuliffe's record, propensity for exaggeration and general seediness - see Telergy), McAuliffe... well... for being McAuliffe.

Now, after Brian Moran exposed McAuliffe as the less-than-honest huckster shill that he is, now that McAuliffe is tanking across the state, now that Brian Moran has shown that he has what it takes to stand up and fight for the state that he has served for 3 decades... Well... He deserves our appreciation. More than that: he deserves our votes.

Creigh Deeds has been a shrinking violet this entire campaign season. He's done nothing to distinguish himself and shouldn't be allowed to back into the nomination having done nothing to earn it.


I don't know if they hand out awards for negative attacks, but if they do, this ought to win one.

Gunning for Creigh - McAuliffe and Moran Toss the Hail Mary

There are two worthwhile things to note about the furious push on now in Northern Virginia to paint Creigh as an extremist on guns.

1. Neither McAuliffe nor Moran, apparently, are thinking past Tuesday at this point. Should either of them pull it out in the primary, their trashing of Creigh for his principled adherence to the Second Amendment, even though it resulted in policies with which the disagreed, will come back to haunt them. It didn't have to be this way. Guns would not be an issue in this campaign, except for the fact that Moran and Mcauliffe have now made it one should either of them win. Democrats come out on the shortside of that debate in a general election.

2. The battle is being fought against Creigh in NoVA. Moran and McAuliffe are playing defense on their home turf, while Creigh is on offense. I suspect that neither campaign figured Creigh to ever become a factor up there -- they thought they'd be fighting each other for NoVA votes. This speaks volumes about where this race is heading.

Actually, there are probably more than two items worthy of note, but it was all my limited brain could come up with right now. In any event, it adds up to desperation time.

PPP Poll Preview: Almost All Undecideds Moving In Same Direction

Last night and this morning brought two posts on the PPP blog. The first is very interesting.

Last night, Tom Jensen, PPP's communications director, wrote:
Looks like a tight race in Virginia...for second place. The undecideds seem to almost all be moving in the same direction. ... But it doesn't look like things are going to be as close on Tuesday as the polling in the last week suggested.

Take your pick about who is out in front (you know who I think it is).

This morning, Tom said they would try to get the results out between 10 and 11 tonight.

Election Special: Comparing the Candidates' Records

Some of my good friends in the blogosphere who support Terry McAuliffe, quick to cry “foul” at any whiff of negativity directed at their candidate, have proffered the following defense of their own man’s negative attacks: The negative attacks are not negative attacks at all. Rather, they assert, these are important and highly relevant comparisons of the candidates’ respective records. If those comparisons paint Creigh and Brian in a negative light, they contend, that’s the fault of the facts, not of the McAuliffe campaign, which is just bringing the facts to light.

I’m not sure I buy the logic of that for a variety of reasons, although I am impressed by the creativity and surface appeal of the argument.

Still, with two days left to go until the election, I am more interested in debating substance than semantics, so for now I will accept the position of my McAuliffe friends on this matter and both stick to comparing the candidate’s records and not complain when they do the same.

I want to emphasize comparing record, as distinct from comparing the record of one candidate to the campaign promises, rhetoric and platforms of another, for the latter do not comprise a record. After all, the point of looking at a record is that a candidate can say anything when running for office, but a record of votes or actions taken at another time when the person’s objective was not earning statewide votes is more reliable evidence of where they really stand.

So, as a service to my readers (and the three of you know who you are), and in light of the shortening hours until election day, I pulled an all-nighter last night in order to put together a complete comparative examination of the records of Creigh and Brian Moran, respectively, versus that of McAuliffe’s on some of the key issues facing the Commonwealth. So, without further ado, the McAuliffe record:

1. Terry’s record of action on solving Virginia’s transportation crisis:


2. Terry’s record of action on bringing alternative energy to Virginia, or implementing policies designed to improve efficiency:

[more chirping]

3. Terry’s record of action on payday lending:

[even more chirping]

4. Terry's record of action on redistricting:

[silence -- crickets got tired]

Well, it looks like I’m going to have to cancel that comparison of records, because Terry McAuliffe has no record to compare with the other candidates.

Look, McAuliffe’s no carpetbagger – he’s lived in the Commonwealth for 17 years – but the fact is that before launching his run for Governor, McAuliffe demonstrated zero interest in what went on in the Commonwealth.

I understand why McAuliffe and his supporters want only to compare records with Creigh and Moran when it comes to negative attacks. It’s a one-way street; when you don’t have a record, there is nothing for the other guy to attack.

What I don’t understand is, if a candidate’s record matters so much, as McAuliffe and his supports tacitly acknowledge in their argument that comparing records is fair game, what does McAuliffe’s complete lack of one say?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Brian "the Joker" Moran Up To His Old Tricks

Well, the Brian Moran slime machine is out in full force, and as usual it is full of half-truths, misrepresentations and distortions.

This time the target is Creigh Deeds, apparently explaining Brian’s newest tag line, “We need a fighter, not a dedicated, decent, intelligent public servant.”

Which brings me to Brian’s interview today with NBC12. Before I get to the substance, I just want ask what is the story with that grimace? Did Brian accidentally fall into a vat of toxic chemicals on his last visit to Gotham City?

Despite being freaked out, onto the substance.

Here is what Brian said about Creigh’s record on guns:
Well, it's extreme. He's the only Democrat who's ever received an endorsement from the NRA since 1989, I mean that's different from Warner, Kaine or myself or Jim Webb... There are some positions where I believe he's taken extreme positions. He voted against my legislation to keep guns out of the hands of those convicted of stalking and domestic abuse. He also voted against one gun a month, which was Doug Wilder's legislation. He also voted for guns in bars and family restaurants. That puts him on a very extreme position, and we're educating the voters with respect to that extreme position on guns.

Well, Lowell at Blue Virginia, one of Brian’s most aggressive critics this election season, checked it out. He found HB436, a piece of proposed legislation from 1998, that fit the bill. “This appears to be it,” Lowell said, adding later, “Moran appears to be correct on this one.”

Or not.

Yes, the Committee on Criminal Justice failed to report the bill out, as Lowell says, with Creigh voting against. But as anyone who has ever followed the legislative process, committee votes get cast for all sorts of tactical reasons unrelated to the substance of the legislation at issue.

That is what I suspect happened here.

Why do I think that?

Well, here’s the crazy thing. Moran refers to this bill as “My legislation,” presumably because he was a co-patron of the bill (not the chief patron, another piece of phony Moran self-puffery). But more importantly, guess who else was a co-patron of the bill?

That’s right. Creigh Deeds.

So, if this is Brian Moran’s legislation, then it’s Creigh’s legislation also.

Look, do I know what happened here? Do I know why Creigh voted no in committee against a bill for which he was a patron? No, I don’t. And I don’t care. It was 11 years ago, and I seriously doubt Creigh or Brian recall the machinations that were flying around at the time.

The more relevant point today, for purposes of Tuesday, is that this sort of Mickey Mouse negative attack is part of a larger pattern that the Moran campaign has been following. When Brian Moran or his campaign tells you something negative about another candidate, whether Terry McAuliffe or Creigh, far too often it seems you are not getting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

The 2009 Netroots Surrogate Debate

The blog Common Sense for Virginia has set up what promises to be an interesting debate among blogosphere supporters of the Democratic Gubernatorial candidates ahead of Tuesday's election: Lowell Feld of Blue Virginia, Carla Ward, who is Catzmaw over at Blue Commonwealth and Waldo Janquith, Virginia's very own blogfather. Lowell, of course, has been supporting Terry McAuliffe, Carla has been a strong advocate for Brian Moran (not to mention a pain in my butt quite a bit - :)) and Waldo, of course, in his low-key, but devastatingly effective way has been supporting Creigh.

Congrats to CSFV for getting this creative debate organized.

Here is CSFV's announcement. Questions can be left there, but if you submit questions below, I will happily pass them on.
It is Common Sense for Virginia's pleasure to announce our first major event as a blog. As the clock winds down to the Democrats' June 09 primary, many voters/bloggers are anxious to see some more arguments between the campaigns regarding everything from negative ads, to electability, to which endorsements help/hurt. As such, it seemed only fitting to host 1 final debate.

Common Sense for Virginia is excited to host the 2009 NetRoots Surrogate Debate with 3 experienced bloggers from different aspects of the Virginia blogging scene to represent each of the candidates. CSFVA is pleased to announce that Lowell Feld of Blue Virginia, Waldo Jaquith and Carla Ward of Catzmaw will be participating in this debate representing Terry McAuliffe, Creigh Deeds, and Brian Moran respectively. (Lowell's for Terry, Waldo for Creigh, Carla for Brian)

The debate is scheduled for 7:30PM on Sunday June 7, 2009 and you can submit the questions for the NetRoots debate. Either submit here in the comments section or email them to venukatta@hotmail.com including you city, state (if other than Va) and then your question to this surrogate debate. We only about 50 hours to make this last debate count! Submit your questions and watch the debate right here on Common Sense for Virginia (in the comments section of a blog post) between 7:30PM and until we're satisfied that we've had a thorough, intellectual discussion.

It's been an exciting primary season, and as it draws to an end, let's end it with a bang!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Brian Moran: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

When the Brian Moran campaign criticized Terrence McAuliffe for accepting out-of-state campaign contributions, when Moran himself had accepted such donations in a significant amount, I attributed the gaffe to the fact that it was early in the campaign and his campaign needed to get their sea legs.

When the Moran campaign made his opposition to the Surrey coal plant the moral centerpiece of his campaign, even though Moran had voted in favor of a coal plant in Wise, I was merely bemused since I don't really know much about environmental politics.

When the Moran campaign criticized Creigh for his Marshall-Newman vote, saying he needed to be held "accountable," even though Moran had an anti-gay marriage vote record in his background, I attributed it to poor research by his staff of a perhaps obscure vote five years ago. (But when his campaign tried to explain away that vote as having been wrongly recorded, despite the presence of contemporaneous comments from Moran himself showing he was against gay marriage, I attributed it to political malpractice.)

When Brian Moran misstated the procedure for amending the Virgina Constitution on Mark Plotkin's radio show last week, I just felt bad for him.

Now, however, that the Moran campaign has sent out a mailer attacking Creigh on his record on guns, with the headline, "By working so hard to get the NRA's approval, Creigh Deeds has lost ours," just several days after Brian rang up the endorsement of gun rights group opencarry.org, well, now I can only conclude that the Moran campaign is a gift from the blogging gods.

Here is what Opencarry.org had to say about Brian Moran:
Moran has some pretty good pro-gun votes on his record, including voting FOR HB535 in 2005 to legalize carrying concealed handguns in school parking lots, as well as FOR HB 530 in 2004 to preempt all local gun control laws, even those in his home city of Alexandria.

Oh, and by the way, just for the record, here is what they had to say about Creigh Deeds:
But why not vote for Creigh Deeds, of Bath County?

For 2 reasons: (1) Deeds is less likely to catch McAuliffe than Moran [oops!]; and (2) voters need to send a message to Virginia politicians like Deeds (who recently began supporting a ban on private gun sales at gun shows) that caving in on gun rights principles to run for state office will not be tolerated! We cannot afford to allow the Washington Post’s new poster boy for gun control to be elected as Virginia’s next Governor.

And last, but not least, with respect to that NRA approval of Creigh that makes him lose our approval -- Well, the NRA gives Brian Moran an "A" rating, so he has their approval, too.

[shaking my head in pity now]

Anyway, a quick word about Creigh and guns. I am not going to waste time explaining or trying to rationalize his record. Creigh has said many times that his support for gun rights is a matter of principle for him, based on his interpretation of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Now, as a legal matter, I disagree with Creigh (and the Supreme Court, for that matter) about the meaning and precise rights created by the Second Amendment, but I certainly respect, morally and intellectually, someone who thoughtfully interprets that Amendment differently that I and acts accordingly.

In this sense, the Moran ad is defamatory in suggesting that Creigh "worked so hard to get the NRA's approval." He did not. He was merely following his beliefs and his principles with respect to the Second Amendment.

I'm curious what Brian Moran believes in this subject area. What does the Second Amendment mean to him?

Based on this mailer, it appears he apparently doesn't care much about it at all. For him, it appears, guns are just another commodity to be regulated, merely a subject of policy, without any constitutional implications. another subject on which he can pander to his NoVA constituency while hiding a record that directly contradicts his rhetoric.

And yet, his own votes and positions have earned him an "A" from the NRA, and an endorsement from opencarry.org. Who, I ask, is the candidate "working hard" to gain the approval of the gun lobby, principles be damned?

I don't agree with Creigh on this issue at all, but I respect the Hell out him for following his deeply held principles in a responsible manner designed to protect the public safety, for his willingness to, if you'll pardon the obvious pun, stick to his guns.

But more importantly, once again, thank you, Brian Moran. Thank you blogging gods!