Political Gamesmanship Again/Still in Virginia

State Senator Linda (Toddy) Puller, D-36, announced her retirement. She did so at the beginning of the session, to allow her compatriots to play their games.  Now, I notice that for the first time in years, she has updated her photo, no longer using the one from before her stroke, but rather one that makes her appear much more frail.  (NB: Though her body is frail, and has been for years, her mind is still extremely strong.)  She’d have had a harder time winning elections with the new photo in campaign ads, but is more realistic now.  And yes, people will make decisions based on photos, unfortunately, so Puller has been demonstrating she is very politically astute.

So Scott (“Isn’t-it-Nice-I-Got-Named-to-a-Leadership-Position-Again-in-Time-for-an-Election”) Surovell has declared his intent to run in her place.  No surprise there.   Dems hand-picked their Fairfax County Chairman to replace Kris Amundsen, who conveniently decided to announce after primary day that she wouldn’t run again; now they elect Surovell chair of the caucus (read:  special-interest group) in the House.  No good little Democrat Party Member would announce against him.

According to Megan Howard, Surovell’s Legislative Assistant, Scott will not resign his current position in order to run.  Think about that.

Democrat Paul Krizek has announced a run for Surovell’s seat.  What’s he going to do?  Challenge Surovell in a primary?  Or will they hold a firehouse primary so they can run Scott for both seats and promise the likely opening to Krizek?  Will they truly force a special election on the voters (of course, assuming the Republicans, Libertarians, or Independent Greens actually bother to run a candidate)?

No Republican, Libertarian, Independent Green (well, maybe the IG; they’re not very politically savvy) can announce now, because that would be tantamount to acknowledging Surovell is a shoo-in — which he is, but mostly because no one will commit to the effort to take him on in an issues-based race.  So toady publications like the Connection newspapers run items like this, probably weekly or biweekly, for the next year so Google searches have lots of name recognition for searches when election season rolls around.

Hey, Republicans and Libertarians, THIS is how you take elections.   NOT by nominating someone no no one has ever heard of, or leaving it to the Independent who spent $5 on an election and still managed nearly 30% of the vote.

The things you think about, sometimes …

I was thinking yesterday “why does the crape myrtle keep its leaves until frost, then dump them all at once?” – which is really just the lead-in to this set of ponderings.

When we say “why?”, we look for one of two answers: “,,,because …” or ” … so that …” Those two answers represent an interesting look at the world.

“… because …” implies a look backward. It says a thing does something because, or in response to, a stimulus or an action by another thing.

“… so that …” looks forward. Something or someone does something that causes other people or things to react.

I wonder if this will color how I look at the TV programs I truly enjoy — those on botany, biology, archaeology, anthropology, etc. Will I start to wonder whether a population evolved “because” something else happened, or “so that” something could happen? Will the terminology I hear color the credence I give to the “experts” on these shows?

Nothing in my queries is earth-shattering.  I don’t even know for certain that the concept hasn’t been explored; I just haven’t thought of things in this way.  I don’t even know for certain that it will color how I look at things a week, a month, or a year from now.

I was just pondering.

Published in: on December 31, 2014 at 7:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Re-election

Imagine this.

You’re the boss; you own a small company with about 200 employees who are the face of your  business to the public; what they say binds you.

You hire Bob Brightguy, and tell him go forth and do.

Then you go do something else for a while.  Services are rendered and billing works in your name.

When it’s time for contract renewal, you look over the list of employees up for renewal, you say “Oh, I know that name.  Yeah, keep him.” and you go play more golf.

That’s what WE THE PEOPLE seem to be doing with our elected officials.  They’re our employees!

We’re not paying attention to how Bob Brightguy votes on routine issues. Does he go along to get along, doing as the party says?   Does he introduce legislation that’s good for the entire county/state/country?  Does he automatically say “no” to ideas that aren’t part of his list of interests?  Is he swayed by unions, associations, lobbying groups, or individuals with deep pockets?  What other sources of income does he have besides what WE THE PEOPLE pay?

When it’s re-election time, we get bombarded with “look what I did for you” mail, e-mail, and phone calls.  Well, to be even more frank, often we get “look what a scumbag the other guy is” instead, or “Fred Flamelight hates redheads, so vote for me.” communications instead.

Can you name one piece of legislation your State Delegate or Senator introduced?  Do you know how s/he voted on legislation that’s important to you?  Do you look to see whether the legislation s/he votes for is giving power to the government or taking it away, and cast your votes accordingly?

What is your federal representative an expert on?  What Committees does s/he sit on?  How does s/he vote on routine issues?  Is s/he party-line, and does that meet your approval?

I ask all this because I was part of a discussion recently where someone was complaining about a ballot issue on our November ballot, and whining that s/he didn’t know anything about it until s/he got to the polls.  ( I’m leaving alone for now the whole issue of a responsible voter learning BEFORE election day what will be on the ballot.)  The issue was a Constitutional Amendment, which by law our legislature must pass it in identical form two years in a row; then they must pass a bill dictating exactly the wording to appear on a ballot.  So by the time the voters see it in November, it has been through the General Assembly twice.

Confidence in our politicians has dropped to atrocious levels over the past few decades, yet WE THE PEOPLE don’t know what our legislators stand for.  Often we don’t know their real stance on issues of importance to us, we don’t know whether their voting record matches their campaign promises, and sometimes we just vote because s/he has a D, R, L, IG, S, or I after his name.

Wake up, voters.  Pay attention – or you get the government you have now, with an approval rating in the cellar and the power to do just about anything they want because they know you won’t listen to anything but Fox or MSNBC, if that.

You Gotta Wonder …

Delegate Scott Surovell (VA-44) has led several clean-up days over the past few years for Little Hunting Creek.  Volunteers have cleaned (and re-cleaned, and re-cleaned, apparently) an area of the creek that is used as a dumping grounds.

These efforts are commendable, though I wonder if perhaps a fundraising effort for fences to keep trash from getting IN to the creek might be more long-lasting.

Here comes the “but …”   Surovell writes in an e-mail:

To help deal with the never ending [sic] stream of trash into our community’s creeks, I am currently considering the following action items:

    -Legislation authorize Fairfax County to enact legislation to allow fines for abandoned shopping carts
-A comprehensive litter education program in the Route 1 Corridor
-Supporting measures to make trash and litter a measurable metrics [sic] in determining stream health
-Re-introducing a $0.05 plastic bag fee

Being me, I have to ask the obvious questions …

Who the hell are we going to fine?  Stores, which already lose hundreds of dollars when a cart is stolen?  The dumper?  As if we’d find them.  Gods know the police have so much free time they can investigate cases of dumped shopping carts.  And why only Fairfax County?  What’s so special about carts dumped here instead of, say, Prince William County?

Why would we need legislation to enact a comprehensive education program in the area?   Sure, we’re a Dillon Rule state, but there is no state law that says communities cannot educate their citizens.  (Sounds like a plea for funding the program, which I would oppose vehemently as not high-enough priority.)

Along the Route 1 corridor, there are hundreds of families who don’t have cars (which they would have to fuel, insure, and maintain).  They take buses to work, and stop at WalMart, Safeway, Target or, yes, 7-11, for food and toiletries on their way home from work.  The $.05 tax harms these people more than any.  (I can almost hear the “oh, wait, we’ll provide them reusable bags”)

FYI – the didn’t the volunteers collect, this time, 51 plastic bags of trash?

I can’t argue the remaining point, simply because I don’t know enough.  IS litter a metric of a stream’s health?  One cannot make it relevant just by enacting legislation.  Nor is anyone helped if the state or administrative bureaucracy is forced to collect measures on topics that do not drive action.  If the metric can be shown to be useful, why is it not already part of data-collection efforts?

Commercials that annoy me

Or, more precisely, that send a message which is most likely not the one the manufacturer intended.

Chevy Volt.

Owner says “I probably go to the gas station such a small amount that I forget how to put gas in my car.”

The message I get is that either it’s a royal pain in the ass to put gas in a Volt, or the owner is too flipping stupid to be driving.  I tend to believe the stupid part, given the grammar of her statement.

So the message I get:  “Stupid people own Volts.”   Do I want to be one of them?  Nope.

An open letter, and a promise, to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell

Governor McDonnell, you have the power to stop this atrocity.   The government of Virginia is poised to retrogress to a patronizing, sanctimonious mass of social laws designed to step on women.

I urge you in the strongest possible terms to reject in whatever form the “personhood” bill and the “ultrasound” bill reach you.  Reject them outright.

I am so repulsed by the ideas espoused in these bills that I will make a promise.

I will promise, should these bills pass with or without your signature, that I will not cast a vote for a Republican in Virginia until they are repealed.  Nor will I cast a vote in a national election for any ticket with which your name or your endorsement is affiliated.

I will do what I can to get other women and others who value individual freedom to join me.

Invest In Me (#investinme) – A reply to Virginia21

Today Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell tweeted “Students w/ @Virginia21 brought 10K signatures to GA with message for higher ed: #investinme — watch on @NBC29

Virginia21 is an organization of college “kids” who want the Commonwealth to “invest” in them.  So I watched their 15-minute video to see what they had to say.

Mind you – I favor a college education <b>for those who are interested, and who can accept the intellectual rigor</b> (sometimes) <b>found in academic programs</b>. No matter my personal opinion of the value of some degrees; I’m treating all students alike in this post.

Every student should understand some basic concepts.  One shouldn’t get to college without knowing them:

– People make “investments” with the expectation of receiving some personal benefit.  Some believe a benefit to society is a personal benfit.

– People usually make “investments” with no <b>guarantee</b> of return.

– Those who are “frightened” of an investment will avoid it, mitigate it, or accept the fright as a learning experience.

– Investors have a variety of choices.  They select those where they believe the outcome will be worth the cost.

– Choices have consequences.

– Negotiation is a part of life.

So, let’s talk.  Why should I invest in you? No, not a group of “kids” – or even young adults – YOU.  What’s your end of the bargain?

Will you agree to remain in Virginia – or to pay Virginia taxes anyway – for 10 years after graduation?  Will you agree to work for Virginia-based companies, or to add another percentage point to the loan for its life if you don’t? Will you agree to pay Virginia income taxes no matter where you live and work? Will you agree to take any work for which you are physically capable and which doesn’t cost you more than you earn?  Can you answer “yes” to at least one of these – can you make it worth the taxpayers’ money?

You see, I didn’t hear any of that in your speeches today.  I didn’t hear “invest in me and I’ll return xxx to Virginia.”  I didn’t hear anything but vague promises of economic prosperity – politician words.

I heard individual issues.

One student said after parental contributions, jobs and loans there are “no other options.”  That may be true, if he included grants in with loans, if he accounted for scholarships, and if somehow he accounted for part-time education, delayed education, 0r military service (that carries with it an education benefit).

One student, perhaps the same one (I listened; I didn’t watch) said it’s “frightening” to know that jobs are scarce and income is not promised, while he has massive student-loan debt.  Welcome to adulthood.

Face it.  There have been better times to enter adulthood, and there have been worse.  It’s not personal; no one’s out to “get” today’s young people.  You live in a world of challenges.  If you can’t face the first, what makes you think you’ll face others without appealing to someone else to bail you out?

What are you investing?  Your time and brainpower?  If you want the degree, you’ll do that anyway.  Is the outcome worth the cost to you?  If not, why are you there?  If you can’t articulate what the degree will do for you AND FOR SOCIETY, don’t expect society to get generous.

Voter ID laws

Voter identification laws are getting a lot of attention in Virginia this legislative season.

Proponents are correctly noting that ID requirements can help to prevent voter fraud.  Opponents are correctly noting that voter fraud is not a big issue.

Opponents are also claiming that voter ID laws disenfranchise the poor, the elderly, and minorities.   In some way, that’s true.  Those groups are less likely to have ID, though with the possible exception of elderly individuals born before widespread (one might even say mandatory) issuance of birth certificates.  Opponents are claiming that minorities and the poor are less likely to have driver licenses — also (perhaps) true, but irrelevant if the acceptable forms of ID are not limited to drive licenses.

The real purpose of voter ID laws is to prevent unscrupulous political operatives (are there any other kind?) from offering to drive any group of people to polling places (to “exercise their god-given rights”), extolling the virtues of their candidate (and the “evils” of his opponent) during the drive, and thus swaying the elections.  This type of community do-gooder action (“driving people to the polls”) is touted highly, but is actually most often buying a vote.  If an individual calls a campaign headquarters and asks for a ride, it would be reasonable for that campaign to presume the individual will vote for its candidate.  For a campaign to go out to seek out people to take to the polls is disgusting.

I would surmise that amongst those people who would likely not have gone to the polls otherwise, there will be a percentage who do not have, for one reason or another, an ID.  I’d like to see actual data, but apparently it doesn’t prove a thing or the sides would be trotting it out.

Now, one might argue that it is a damn shame there are groups of people in any area who might be subject to such practices.  I’d agree.  That’s also irrelevant to the voter ID issue.

So one party is always afraid the other party will perform such “community service.”

It just so happens this time it’s the Republicans who believe the Democrats have more to gain by using this tactic.  This time, the Republicans believe the Democrats buy votes with promises of government programs (or loss of same).  It has not always been this way.

We pay legislators to do WHAT? (Redux)

I’ve been trying for two days to comment on Del. Surovell’s reply to my comments.  Can’t do it at the Dixie Pig; I’ll do it here.

Why is it the government’s role to “protect” my property values?  Can you find that anywhere in either the US or the Virginia  Constitutions? Regulating grass height to protect property values is the role of the community of residents, not the community of legislators.

Can you say “nanny state”?  I knew you could.

Del. Surovell is bemoaning the steps a locality has to take in order to request permission to regulate grass height.

I say don’t allow any locality to regulate it, and the problem is solved.

I seem to have missed the logic here.

Delegate David Englin (VA-45) is concerned about tax credits that eat up the revenue Virginia should be collecting, and in fact has submitted a bill  (HB1032) that: “Prohibits any committee of the General Assembly from reporting any bill that establishes, increases, or expands a state or local tax exemption, credit, deduction, or any other reduction in tax liability, unless the bill contains a sunset date not to exceed five years.”

So ponder this.  Why is he introducing

HB 1023 Income tax, state or corporate; tax credit for hiring certain individuals.

and co-patroning

HB 1041 Income tax, state and corporate; tax credit for hiring veterans.

HB 922 Real property tax; exemption for disabled veterans.

I guess it’s not tax credits he’s against, just credits he doesn’t like.

I’m not necessarily opposed to tax credits for disabled veterans, in limited circumstances.  But you can’t oppose tax credits, and then introduce them, without questions being asked.