Saturday, June 30, 2007

Unity is a rational choice

In Greg's report on Monday night's meeting, which he titles "Unity is an earned commodity" (I think), he makes some good points, and some bad ones:
Tonight’s PWCRC meeting included a plenty of calls for Republican unity in order to help our candidates win in November, and those calls make a lot of sense. The purpose of the committee is to get Republicans elected, and unity is an important part of accomplishing that goal. With a fractured party, this goal is a lot harder to accomplish, and good candidates to some degree risk suffering some negative impacts if the support structure behind them isn’t effective.

He is right about the importance of unity. Unity is critical to the task of the Committee, and a fractured party is trouble for ALL Republicans.

He next talks about the 51st convention and the meeting of the 11th district committee:
I hope that their discussions will focus around restoring some degree of confidence in the convention process and addressing the problems observed in this and other recent conventions. In order to achieve unity, it will be critical to restore some degree of confidence in the candidate selection process. Without that, regardless of who the nominee for the 51st District will eventually be, that unity will be difficult if not impossible to earn.

Nothing the 11th district committee does will give people confidence for this
election cycle. We absolutely have to develop better procedures for conventions, but that will help in the future, not now. We don't need the 11th district for this, a couple smart people could do this from our own committee.

Meanwhile, we already have a nominee for the 51st district, and there's no unity because those who oppose him refuse to accept the current reality. And if at some point a ruling recommends a change in nominee, there may still be no unity because. barring a finding of actual fraud by the candidate himself, most of the committee will not accept changing the outcome on a technicality when a majority of delegates clearly supported the winner.

Unity is an earned commodity, after all. It requires that we have confidence that the process is fair and equitable, and our commitment to the process is what builds confidence and earns unity.
This is nonsense. Unity is a choice of the individual to put aside personal differences for the common goal. You earn respect, but you don't need to respect someone to unite with them on a common goal. You just have to realise the goal is more important than your own complaints and grievances. I'd still like to see a single piece of evidence that the process for the 51st was not "fair" or "equitable", but in any case Greg is mixing up "unity" with "trust" or "respect".

Until we adequately address the issues that threaten this unity, unless we actually earn unity, calls to be unified aren’t likely to be very effective. Show activists that their contributions will be thwarted by an unfair process, and they’re more likely to walk away than join hands with those they may feel are responsible and work to serve their interests. Earning unity by letting dissenters bleed away, instead of demonstrating that unity is deserved, just isn’t productive in the long term either, although it can appear to provide a relatively quick but costly resolution.

Activists won't feel "thwarted" by an "unfair process" if the goals are the same. The reason activist feel thwarted now is they were working at cross purposes -- because of different primary candidate choices. But now there are a set of Republican candidates, and the only "thwarting" will be if some choose to support non-Republicans, in which case THEY are the problem and unity requires they leave. Because unity is not about "earning", but it IS about working for a common GOAL.

People will overlook their own distrust of a process if they think they can work together to achieve results.

The hardest test of leadership is dealing with issues such as these. These issues are not to be swept under the rug amidst calls for unity, but addressed head-on so that confidence, trust, and unity can be earned.

There's a lot of hand-waving about "unfair processes", but little evidence of what was unfair. There have been perceptions, charges, accusations -- but little in the way of concrete facts which can be dealt with. I'm not disagreeing that we need to deal with issues -- I'm just saying that spelling out the issues is actually a hard but necessary step.
Until that happens, and perhaps it will as the folks involved are hardly stupid and frequently remind us that they are motivated by larger goals, calls like this are more annoying than worthy of serious consideration.

Calls for unity are only annoying to those who still want to have fights over which candidates to support. We don't "unite" during primaries, because we all support different Republicans. But once those fights are over, we are SUPPOSED to come together to support whoever the winner is.

Instead, we have four groups which refuse to unite behind the Republican or Republican-endorsed candidates -- Lucy's gang who dropped out rather than lose a convention, Desi running against Republican-endorsed Gil Trenum, Maureen who is unopposed but is upset that someone may not have supported her in the primary, and Lucas, who at least is staying in the party but whose supporters refuse to accept the current situation and instead pretend that filing an appeal erases the current results.

What Greg is saying is that some members aren't ready to be unified, and until they are, calls for unity will be ignored. He hasn't spelled out the terms of surrender here, but from reading his and other blogs, I can't see anything that could be done that would satisfy them.
Some of the things I am hoping will result from the 11th District and RPV are more clear and defined procedures to be used for conventions. By defining the process in greater detail and ensuring that that process is auditable, we can restore confidence in the legitimacy of future candidates. I also hope that a thorough investigation of what happened at the 51st District Convention will help to establish where weaknesses are and provide a solid basis for establishing these more thorough and improved process definitions.

Here I agree. We need to clarify and add detail to the RPV plan statements. While there are a lot of ways to handle credentialing, verification, and balloting, there's no REASON for diversity in these steps -- there's certainly a "best way", and we should use it.

For example, a list of delegates by precinct should have been printed and checked off at the ballot box, just like in real elections. We had printed badges "checked off" with precinct names -- but we didn't collect them, and the badges could line up in the wrong line. A checklist wouldn't. With a checklist, we could stop Delegates who weren't credentialed for a precinct and send them to the right one, PLUS we'd know exactly who voted in each precinct to ensure they had checked in, and we'd assure people didn't vote twice.

An initialling of each ballot by the two volunteers would ensure no fake ballots were inserted. Although the numbering of ballots already did this, the initialling by both campaigns would eliminate the justification for either campaign to complain about ballot control.

RPV should either get rid of the rule allowing non-registered voters, or specifically state the cutoff date for application, and clearly state the items which will be required to "verify" the voters in the absense of their name on a registration list.

I'm sure a few of us could get together and make a complete list based on the 51st and other conventions that would largely solve the problems. I happen to think the 51st did a LOT of good things, but some of their focus on re-verifying identities may have distracted volunteers from checking precincts.

Lastly, although there is no perfect choice to be made in the appeals
process, an honest and thorough description of what happened and a commitment to learn from it will help others to accept whatever decision is rendered and allow some of us to accept that while mistakes were made, we’re moving forward in a responsible manner. We can’t resolve everyone’s concerns here, but we may have an opportunity to resolve those for many.

I disagree, because the only possible reversal of the results would come from throwing out 103 legal, valid, counted votes, simply to "correct" wrong-precinct voting from other legal, valid, credentialed voters. Since examination of the overvote/undervotes and possible effects shows Gill would still win (see HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE), absent proof of fraud (and no fraud is alleged in the appeal), it would not be RIGHT to arbitrarily reverse the results.

It would be nice if people could even agree on an "honest, thorough" description, but given the anger at Tom Kopko for trying to be "thorough" by getting reports from the observers, I doubt the opponents will accept anything he says. And given Becky's ENDORSEMENT of Julie, and her prejudging of the appeal, nobody will trust HER judgment either.

There is no way Lucas supporters will accept a decision that leaves Faisal in charge, although they may resign themselves to it. And there is little chance given the evidence presented that Faisal supporters would accept overturning the convention as anything but an underhanded political maneuver -- absent clear evidence of fraud by the candidate. We can't count on ANY result of the appeal to cause "unity" -- we simply need to determine to BE UNIFIED in spite of the appeal. That's not earned, it's simply an act of will.
Unity cannot be achieved without fairness, and to the extent we can establish that in the aftermath of this convention, we have the opportunity to earn unity, rather than just explain how important it is and beg for it. I hope the leadership of the PWCRC uses this opportunity well.
Unity has nothing to do with fairness. Unity is based on commonality of purpose. The PURPOSE of the Republican Committee is to elect Republicans, whether we like them or not. If you don't want to elect Republicans, don't join the Republican committee, sign up for individual campaigns. If you choose to be a "Republican Committee Member", then support the Republicans, whoever they are -- or at least don't support their opponents. And resolve to get along with other people who have that common goal, rather than looking to inject personal grievances into the committee process.

I do hope the committee uses this time to re-evaluate their approach to things. But that has nothing to do with unity, and everything to do with effectiveness. Because we can all be united, but if the committee is ineffective, activists will lose interest as their efforts are wasted by the process.

For example, Gil Trenum should be unopposed for School Board. That would free him and his supporters to give money and time to other Republicans. Instead we will spend time and money supporting Gil, and other committee members will possibly do the same for Desi, as we fight against ourselves instead of being unified.

Because unity has nothing to do with "earning", or "trusting", just "working together for a common goal". But since some don't want to do that, they instead have tried unsuccessfully to re-define the word.

UPDATE 7/5: GBK makes the following observation in a post about this thread, in which he notes that I said that a checklist would "assure people didn't vote twice":

He wrote on 6/30/07 that "With a checklist...we'd assure people didn't vote twice." But now he says double-voting was impossible.

"Assure" means "to cause to know surely; reassure". So there is no contradiction. The process in place would make it "impossible" (nothing is truly impossible, it just would be extremely difficult). But the process we had does not provide a paper trail for those who did not attend the convention.

A checklist would "assure", meaning "cause to know surely", that nobody voted twice, because we could see each name checked off, and count the number of checked-off names, proving there was a separate name for each vote.

BTW, GBK says several times I was at the convention -- I was not, and I've never said I was. I'm not in the district, I was not a "Faisal Gill supporter", I never endorsed a candidate, and I never told anybody who to vote for or not vote for.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Illusion of Control

Last week a 13-year-old girl lost both her feet in a bizarre and tragic theme park accident at Six Flags, Kentucky. The accident was on a drop-ride, called the Superman Tower of Power ride.

In the aftermath, Six Flags and Cedar Faire companies shut down a total of 8 other rides that were similar in style and made by the same company. One was the Drop Zone at Kings Dominion in Dowswell, Va, a ride my kids and I ride often.

Meanwhile, I had recently read a story about kids being punished at a local school for touching. I decided to combine these two thoughts into a column which I called The Illusion Of Control.

Selected Excerpts, with some links added:

My children and I are theme park junkies. Most of our vacations involve visits to one or more theme parks, sometimes more than one in the same day. I don't know exactly why, but certainly one reason is the thrill of a ride that appears to be out of control and dangerous. But no matter how scary the coaster is, or how high you climb or how fast you fall, in your mind you realize there is no actual danger. If you don't, the six-year-old sitting in the seat next to you might give you a clue.

I then mentioned the accident at Six flags, and referenced a web site RideAccidents, which lists lots of accidents at theme parks. For example, two coasters we plan to ride later this summer have had non-serious accidents this year. True story, when I went to the site, I didn't know what I would find, but what I found was that there are a LOT of accidents on inflatable rides, like moon bounces. That played well with my idea of the illusion of control:

Instead, it seems the most dangerous "carnival" equipment today is the Moon Bounce -- but not (as you might think) because children get too boisterous and land on each other. Instead, it seems they have a habit of blowing away. As in, lifting off the ground and soaring through the air, only to land far away often with disastrous consequences.

I listed several examples, most of which you can find at the special "Inflatables" section at RideAccidents. Then I finally get to the point.

My point isn't to scare you away from the Moon Bounce at your local fair (although you should make sure all four corners are securely attached to the ground). What I'm saying is control is often more of an illusion than a reality. Nobody who puts their child in an Air Castle expects them to end up in the ocean. People think the rules will keep their kids safe.

We try too hard to control everything in our lives -- and worse, we give government too much power to control our lives as well. This is all done in the false belief that we can be free from harm if only we pass a law or make a rule.

Next, I reference the story of the no-touching policy at Kilmer Middle School in Vienna, as discussed in the Washington Post last week. I note there could be a sound reason for banning some sorts of contact, and then continue:

But as is often the case, the school has taken a reasonable restriction on inappropriate contact, and turned it into a draconian rule against any physical contact whatsoever. No handshakes, no high-fives, not even a tap on the shoulder.

I note the principal's justification, which I reprint here from the Post article:

Deborah Hernandez, Kilmer's principal, said the rule makes sense in a school that was built for 850 students but houses 1,100. She said that students should have their personal space protected and that many lack the maturity to understand what is acceptable or welcome.

"You get into shades of gray," Hernandez said. "The kids say, 'If he can high-five, then I can do this.' "

She has seen a poke escalate into a fight and a handshake that is a gang sign. Some students -- and these are friends -- play "bloody knuckles," which involves slamming their knuckles together as hard as they can.

I conclude in my column:

She is probably correct. But the policy is still wrong, because it pretends we can actually control gang activity, fighting, and kids testing boundaries, if only we restrict anything that could possibly lead to such activity.

Some parents support these rules, precisely because they provide the perception of "control," a false sense that nothing bad will happen because the rules won't allow it. I doubt the gangs have left the school because they can't perform their handshake -- but a lot of children are learning that touching is bad, rather than a normal act of human civility.

We rarely have the control we think we do over our circumstances, and that isn't really a bad thing. After all, a little loss of control can be thrilling.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Virginian Federalist: Ethical Anonymity

I talk about the ethics involved in blogging from time to time. The folks over at Virginian Federalist have a post up about the ethics of anonymous blogging: The Virginian Federalist: Ethical Anonymity:
The Virginia blogosphere has abounded with discussions of blog ethics for the last two weeks. The Virginian Federalist itself has emphatically encouraged fellow bloggers to elevate the discussion and abstain from personal assaults. Some bloggers, though, seem to think that anonymous/pseudonymous blogging is the problem. Obviously, The Virginian Federalist does not share that opinion.
Go check it out. I've got a comment there which I repeat here:

Good post. I may link and blog this.

But a few quick responses:I think the judging of unidentified comments/blogs is based on whether they are discussing issues, or engaging in gossip or personal attacks.

If they discuss issues, even if it's leaks of information, the readers can judge what credibility to set for a comment. With personal attacks damage is done with no real way to discredit the source or point out motives.

"Anonymity allowed Deep Throat" -- but DT was not anonymous to the authors, and it was the AUTHORs that provided credibility to the report. The WP would never have published an anonymously penned article like that.

I've chosen to simply use my real name everywhere, and I've withdrawn comments before submitting because of it. But I can see how attaching my name to a position on an issue could keep people from thinking about what I wrote -- which would be a good reason to use a pseudonym for an issues blog, so people focus on the issue and not the personality.

Anyway, I don't see people complaining about anonymous ISSUES blogs. It's the rumors, personal attacks, lies, false and misleading reporting by anon sources. And by identified sources as well.

Elisabeth Edwards -- Venus Flytrap?

In a post over at Democratic Central Elizabeth Edwards -- Steel Magnolia, Mrs. Edwards is praised for her attack on Ann Coulter in a pre-arranged call-in on Hardball:

Right on, Elizabeth Edwards!

After Ann Coulter went on national television Monday morning expressing her wish that John Edwards would be assassinated, she appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews. It was a call-in show, and Elizabeth Edwards called in.
Oddly, Edwards is not praised for questioning Ann's "assassination" comment, which of course was just an example of how the media engages in selective outrage (Ann was simply noting that when she was being castigated for using the word "Faggot", Maher was given a pass after saying that he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terror attack).

Rather, Elisabeth chose to bring up a column Ann Coulter had written in 2003, which questioned the Democratic Presidential candidate field for using dead relatives as political props:

You wrote a column a couple of years ago which made fun of the moment of Charlie Dean's death, and suggested that my husband had a bumper sticker on the back of his car that said ask me about my dead son. This is not legitimate political dialogue.
Here is the original quote from the article by Coulter, The Party of Ideas:

At least when Gephardt exploits a family tragedy, he doesn't expect praise for not exploiting a family tragedy. John Edwards injects his son's fatal car accident into his campaign by demanding that everyone notice how he refuses to inject his son's fatal car accident into his campaign.

Edwards has talked about his son's death in a 1996 car accident on "Good Morning America," in dozens of profiles and in his new book. ("It was and is the most important fact of my life.") His 1998 Senate campaign ads featured film footage of Edwards at a learning lab he founded in honor of his son, titled "The Wade Edwards Learning Lab." He wears his son's Outward Bound pin on his suit lapel. He was going to wear it on his sleeve, until someone suggested that might be a little too "on the nose."

If you want points for not using your son's death politically, don't you have to take down all those "Ask me about my son's death in a horrific car accident" bumper stickers? Edwards is like a politician who keeps announcing that he will not use his opponent's criminal record for partisan political advantage. (I absolutely refuse to mention the name of my dearly beloved and recently departed son killed horribly in a car accident, which affected me deeply, to score cheap political points.

I wouldn't want John Edwards to be president, but I think even Karl Rove would be willing to stipulate that the death of a son is a terrible thing.
So as you can see, Ann never suggested he had an actual bumper sticker on his car. She was saying that believing a son's death was a tragedy was not a "democratic" position, and Edward's grief was not a defining aspect of his qualifications for the office of President.

But the more important question is, has Elisabeth looked in the mirror? I'm not sure whether there's much of a line anymore to cross when it comes to speaking about a public official running for a public office. But what about a public figure, say, Elisabeth Edwards, attacking a private citizen?:

Elizabeth Edwards says she is scared of the "rabid, rabid Republican" who owns property across the street from her Orange County home — and she doesn't want her kids going near the gun-toting neighbor.
The Edwards family has yet to meet Johnson in person. "I wouldn't be nice to him anyway," Edwards said in an interview.
Edwards views Johnson as a "rabid, rabid Republican" who refuses to clean up his "slummy" property just to spite her family, whose lavish 28,000-square-foot estate is nearby on 102 wooded acres.
So if criticizing a former Senator running for President for using his son's death as a political prop is not "legitimate political dialogue", what can we say about his wife calling her neighbor "rabid" and accusing him of purposely keeping a "slummy" property?

Not that her husband is free from hate speech. After all, he was recently caught saying "I hate Duke Basketball". Maybe Elisabeth should call the next talk show he appears on to ask him why he is using such inappropriate "political dialogue"?

GoodByeKen calls Jeff Dion's neighborhood "Homos"

After FansOfFaisal posted a brief story about a joint campaign appearance with Faisal Gill and Paul Nichols hosted by Jeff Dion at a meeting of the Antietam Homeowners' Association, GoodByKen couldn't resist trying to run up blog hits by calling Dion's neighborhood gay, I guess because Jeff Dion is openly gay:
Dion's Homoners' Association Encounters Nichols and Gill

Who said that Homos are not accepted in politics? Former HOD-51 candidate Jeff Dion held a meeting of the Antietam Hill Homoners Association last night at which HOD-51 putative Republican candidate Faisal Gill and Democratic candidate Paul Nichols encountered each other. The two men reportedly mingled with the Homoners and answered questions from them.

Gay activist Jeff Dion put on the Homoners Association debate. As Brits like Elton John popularize the lifestyle it is inevitable that groups like the Antietam Hill Homoners Association would proliferate.
This may explain why even the Democrats don't really want this blogger associated with their party. "Groups like the Antietam Hill (sic) Homoners Association would proliferate"? Is that supposed to be funny? It isn't.

For the record, it's Antietam Woods, not Antietam Hills. I don't think that was part of the "joke", just a plain old mistake.

Letters in response to my School Board columns.

Two letters were published in the Potomac News in response to two columns I wrote about the trailers at Brentsville, "It's not just about the trailers (May 24, 2007, blogged HERE) and "Tying up some loose ends" (June 14, 2007, Blogged HERE)

From Tying up some loose ends, my comment about the school board:

Fortunately, the head of the School Board, who is most responsible for the lack of planning that left the school grossly overcrowded and with inadequate bathroom and other facilities, is resigning to run for another office. Milt Johns, my School Board representative, is running for the position. He has worked hard to mitigate the disaster of Brentsville, including pushing a plan to help parents who want to transfer to less crowded schools. I hope under his leadership the School Board can get along better with the citizens of Prince William County and our elected government.
The first response School Board doesn't have power over it's fate, (June 17, 2007) said in part:

Regarding Charles Reichley's column of Thursday, June 14, 2007, Mr. Reichley needs to understand that it doesn't matter how much planning is done to provide enough schools for our growing population, the School Board has no taxing authority and must work with within a limited budget.
On a final note, the School Board chairman, Lucy Beauchamp, has done a superb job. She will be a great loss to the school system.
I actually think Lucy has done a lot of good as School board chair. However, I believe her recent beligerent attitude and attempts to become more autonomous are bad for the board. Further, while it is true that the School board doesn't control their income, or the number of children in the system, they do control HOW the money is spent, their income has gone up by huge amounts over the last 5 years (only this past year has there been any need for fiscal restraint), and they have control over the school boundaries which determine how much an individual school is overcrowded.

Sure, a lot of people didn't want to be districted out of Brentsville -- but a leader should make the hard decisions, not just blame the supervisors for their problems. All the money in the world wouldn't fix the problem of not redrawing boundaries for Brentsville. Meanwhile, Stonewall Jackson High school isn't near capacity, so it's not just building new schools.

The letter Reichley off base on Brentsville issue (June 24, 2007) was harsher in it's criticism. Excerpts:

In his June 14 column, Mr. Reichley was off base about the Brentsville High School trailer issue and who caused the fiasco. The School Board does not control the amount of residential development in the county and cannot accordingly plan accurately for school growth.
This seems to be a common theme for School Board supporters. But the Board has access to that information, and should do a better job of planning. It's not a total mystery where the houses are being built.

There is a new High School in planning that will relieve the pressure at Brentsville. However, failure of the county supervisors to adequately fund for the school system has pushed the start of construction of this new school back more than once.
Since this year is the first that the board has held the line on tax growth, it's hard to see how that could be the excuse for delaying construction, especially when it didn't delay the new 38 million dollar administration building. Further, how will a new school help if the Board won't re-draw boundaries? They could have forced some students back to Stonewall Jackson High School, which is currently well under capacity, but they didn't seem to want to make the hard choice to upset parents who wanted their kids to go to Brentsville.

Mr. Reichley expounds on how he believes Mr. Milt Johns will bring a solution to the problem. One needs to remind Mr. Reichley that Mr. Johns was on the School Board through several budget iterations that got this problem to this stage.
My comment was not that I BELIEVED Milt would do better, simply that I HOPED he would do better. Milt was part of the board, and voted with Lucy on many of these issues. But at least he is trying to mitigate the problem while Lucy seems more concerned with getting people back that she thinks slighted her.

Maybe, Mr. Reichley is touting Mr. Johns more from his position on the County Republican Committee than reality.
Milt has no challenger, so he hardly needs me to tout him for the position. I have spoken to Milt about this issue, and it is that conversation, and not blind loyalty, that gives me a little bit of hope that things will be better. I don't think he will be as confrontational with the BOCS, and I think cooperation will serve us all much better than what we had this past year.

Mrs. Beauchamp has worked many, many years on the School Board to provide the children of Prince William County with a first rate school system. Mr. Reichley's backhanded slap at her accomplishments and achievements was, in my opinion, completely out of line. Maybe his comments were motivated more by Mrs. Beauchamp choosing to leave the county's Republican Party than reality.
I wasn't a great fan of Lucy when she was running for the republican nomination. But I do think she did well as Chair, and I voted for her for the position in the last election. I just think in the past year, maybe because she was setting herself up for the Clerk election, she tried to pick fights rather than solve problems.

I think her push for all-day kindergarten over fixing overcrowding and funding teachers was wrong-headed. I think her suing me for independence after screwing up the Brentsville overcrowding issue shows a lack of consideration that makes me think it's best she is moving on.

Maybe it's time Mr. Reichley did a little more homework on how our school system got in the present overcrowded condition. Brentsville is the tip of the iceberg for our inadequate educational facilities and the School Board didn't put it there.
I never blamed the school board exclusively for overcrowding, just the extreme overcrowding and totally inadequate response at Brentsville High school. Oddly, when they were fighting for more money and publicly attacking the BOCS, they never mentioned needing more money to solve any overcrowding issues -- just to fund the teacher raises they neglected for all-day kindergarten, since they knew that people weren't going to call their supervisors over a few more hours of school for their 5-year-olds.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

PWC GOP Meeting.

I managed to attend the meeting Monday night. Once again, I was "dissappointed" as I keep expecting some big fireworks and nobody got up and had a fight or anything.

The meeting was quite uneventful, just the usually little spats mostly about moving the meeting along, or actually resolving things. We had some fun trying out different wording on the anti-senate-immigration bill resolution before voting to approve the original.

We also had some fun amending our bylaws to raise the dues we pay, by the time we were done it just said whatever we say the dues are is what they are. A process that took too long.

In fact, most of what we do takes too long, in my opinion, because we aren't a terribly well-educated group regarding Robert's rules and the appropriate order of amendments and votes. No big deal -- I'm certainly no expert myself, I'm part of the problem, not part of the solution here.

As t o what really happened, check out Citizen Tom's blog entry Prince William County Republican Committee.

BVBL: Tom Kopko Hard Working Leader

"who has done pretty well as chairman. ... He has earned a lot of support among committee members."

I was looking through the BVBL archives to see what had been said about a member of the executive committee, and hit this incorrect story from March 14, 2007, when BVBL told it's readers that Tom Kopko was running for Coles District Supervisor:
I’ve recieved word that tomorrow Tom Kopko will be holding a press conference at the PWCRC Headquarters to announce his candidacy for Coles District Supervisor and will indeed challenge Marty Nohe in the June primary. What will happen with the chairmanship of the Prince William County Republican Committee remains unclear, although the last I’ve heard on this is that Tom intends to retain this position while he campaigns, despite some considerable pressure to resign.
Of course, the "announcement" never happened, Tom never ran, and BVBL was once again wrong -- something that never seems to bother his readers.

And there was this statement by Greg L. about Tom Kopko in the comments:

Tom is regarded as a hard working leader who has done pretty well as chairman. The shack is usable now, there’s been a pretty solid string of victories, membership is strong, and the committee is financially solid. He has earned a lot of support among committee members.
So in March membership was strong because Tom was a hard working leader, who had lots of support because he has done "pretty well".

Of course, in March BVBL wasn't trying to discredit Tom to help Lucas get elected.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Tying up some loose ends

This was my Potomac News column from two weeks ago, that I missed posting. It covered the latest news about several items I had previously written.

From the column Tying up some loose ends, first I re-addressed the immigration issue, which is still scheduled to be considered again next week. Highlights:

However, the president and many members of the Senate want to bring it back again. They still think tinkering around the edges will make this unacceptable bill somehow acceptable, but it won't.
Here's an analogy to use. Imagine there's a sold-out concert at the Nissan Pavilion. But when gates open, people who did not buy tickets rush in and take seats. Obviously, the police would be called to remove people in the concert illegally and probably arrest them. It wouldn't matter if they were well-behaved in the seats, had purchased drinks and food or were perfect concert-goers.

Well, the Senate immigration bill is like the manager deciding to let them stay in the concert, so long as they pay the manager a premium for the privilege. Meanwhile, those who behaved legally, who waited in line, and who bought tickets, are out of luck. Even if the concert wasn't sold out, the illegal concert-goers got the best seats while others who waited in line are stuck in the back.

Next, I re-addressed the Brentsville Trailer issue. The PWC BOS approved the trailers, and the School Board came up with a plan to winterize the two stadium bathrooms (three stalls in the women's room, increasing the total female toilet count by 20%). I noted that they were STILL pursuing the lawsuit because, as I had said in my previous article (blogged HERE and HERE), it wasn't about the trailers, it was about power and not having to submit to the people through their elected officials. I also said this about Lucy, but not by name:

Fortunately, the head of the School Board, who is most responsible for the lack of planning that left the school grossly overcrowded and with inadequate bathroom and other facilities, is resigning to run for another office. Milt Johns, my School Board representative, is running for the position. He has worked hard to mitigate the disaster of Brentsville, including pushing a plan to help parents who want to transfer to less crowded schools. I hope under his leadership the School Board can get along better with the citizens of Prince William County and our elected government.

Note I didn't say I EXPECTED things to be better, I just hope. Milt voted with Lucy on most of these issues, and he can't escape some blame for the situation, although to his credit he seemed to be the most active in trying to fix the problem (of course, it's in his district).

Next, I re-addressed the orange tree article. My Homeowners Association mistook my self-deprecating statements for an attack on them, so I wanted to clear the air:

It's always dangerous to use personal stories, because people who know you can get the wrong idea. In this case, my friends on our HOA board knew about my orange tree, because they wrote the letter telling me to remove it. Our rules are pretty clear that you can't just paint stuff any color you want, and I meant for my readers to understand I was chastising myself for doing so.

But I was not clear, and because of a joke at the end about the tree, some thought I was attacking them for not talking to me personally. Further, since I'm a former board member, and wrote many of the guidelines, they felt I shouldn't need a letter to know not to paint a tree orange.

I apologize for not making myself clear, and for all the things in my yard that were in violation of our guidelines.

Because, in addition to the orange tree, I was in the middle of removing a large dead evergreen tree. If you look HERE, it was the large tree on the right I used for my Red/Green christmas tree in my christmas lights display, and while it died during last year, I kept it up so I could decorate it one more time.

But because it was only half cut down, and I had piled the sticks neatly but in the side of the yard and not the back, they wrote me up for those two items as well.

Lastly, I re-address the Iraq war vote. I noted the Democrats voted for war funding, and that a reader sent me a link about a fake Mickey Mouse used to promote terrorism (in response to my comment about Iraq being a "Disney World" for terrorists).

I also said:

Meanwhile, although the Democrats allowed our troops a few more months funding, they plan to attach surrender language to many bills over the next months, hoping to wear down the enemy and eventually win. Unfortunately, the enemy is our government, and "win" (in true Orwellian "Newspeak") means humiliating and total defeat. We need success in Iraq, not retreat and surrender.

Report on the PWC School Board meeting

Tom over at CitizenTom has a detailed report on the latest Prince William County School Board Meeting. Check it out. Thanks, Tom.

Milt Johns had summer assignments for everybody, which I'll repeat here from Tom's notes:

* High school students: Read Animal Farm or 1984 both by George Orwell. Johns wants a report.

* Middle school students: Visit the Manassas Battlefield twice, once to learn about the battles fought their and a second time to appreciate the wildlife.

* Elementary school students: Visit the Air and Space Museum extension near Dulles Airport.

* Parents: Look at what your children are wearing to school. If your students are wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt, google Che Guevara.

My children are most definitely NOT wearing Che Guevara t-shirts. My daughter has seen them though. But if they do, here's my recommended google reading for Che:

The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster. Many of the early leaders of the Cuban Revolution favored a democratic or democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's "labor camp" system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims.
The rest of the article is hardly more flattering.
He was killed in Bolivia in 1967, leading a guerrilla movement that had failed to enlist a single Bolivian peasant. And yet he succeeded in inspiring tens of thousands of middle class Latin-Americans to exit the universities and organize guerrilla insurgencies of their own. And these insurgencies likewise accomplished nothing, except to bring about the death of hundreds of thousands, and to set back the cause of Latin-American democracy—a tragedy on the hugest scale.

Jonathan Lies about post, fails to link to truth for readers

A while ago I referenced a blog entry by JM over at GoodByeKen, and JM thanked me for linking to his blog. So he can't plead ignorance to blog ethics when, in a recent false report about something on my blog, he refused to link to the blog entry, making it hard for his readers to see that his remarks were false.

It could be that he's so enamored by BNN rankings that he doesn't want to give anybody else links. Of course, with a lifetime ranking of 2.67 our of 10, I'm not sure what he's so happy about.

I am no longer providing links to his blog, but I will provide the information so you can cut and past it:

In that false entry, Jonathan says:

Blogger Charles of Two Conservatives, noted for his man-crush on Faisal Gill, has finally admitted the obvious. Namely, that the wheels are falling off of Faisal Gill's wagon. And who gets the main credit? The BVBL blog, and deservedly so. But incredibly, Charles saw fit to mention little-old GoodbyeKen for some of the "blame," which is to say, some of the credit. He calls GoodbyeKen BVBLs "partner in crime." Thanks Charles!

But the post to which he refers, "Childish Antics having some effect", had nothing to do with Gill's campaign -- it was about the PWC republican Gala being cancelled:

Mostly, bloggers behaving like children can be ignored. But once in a while their juvenile antics are infectious. When people's uncivil, hate-filled, fact-free diatribes start seriously impacting society, good people need to rise up and put a stop to it.

Greg at BVBL posts that the PWC gala was cancelled.

I quote Greg from his blog as well. And nowhere in the entire blog entry is the name Faisal Gill mentioned. And since I don't believe that "the wheels are falling off" anybody's wagon, it is absurd, and false, for JM to suggest that I "admit" it, and a lie to say I did so in a blog entry.

And while I can't know why he didn't link, not doing so prevented his readers from clicking the link and finding he post was lying about my post. So long as Jonathan believes that lying about other bloggers, and using childish name-calling (man-crush? what are we, in 3rd grade here, Jon?), he probably will continue to get blog hits, because people like this kind of stuff, which is why the National Enquirer sells lots of newspapers.

But posting false statements to get people to read your blog isn't civil, ethical, or honorable. And since I won't sign up to post at anybody's blog, I'll have to answer his false claims here.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Childish Antics having some effect.

Mostly, bloggers behaving like children can be ignored. But once in a while their juvenile antics are infectious. When people's uncivil, hate-filled, fact-free diatribes start seriously impacting society, good people need to rise up and put a stop to it.

Greg at BVBL posts that the PWC gala was cancelled. I know he did this a couple of days ago, but BVBL is still, like a petulant child, blocking some people from reading his posts, so it can take a few days to respond to his rants.

Greg makes this statement:

Given all that’s been going on lately, it’s not too surprising that attendance at this event would be disappointing. Kopko’s intransigence in failing to address the apparent improprieties of his support of a primary candidate in the 51st District which he effectively controls, the irregularities in several conventions that have been conducted during his tenure, his open fighting with the Chairman of the 11th Congressional District Committee, as well as with some candidates for Republican nominations, and now his removal from office of his chosen membership director don’t help at all to promote unity within the party. Who exactly would want to celebrate all of this?

But the fact is, the hatred, vitriol, and bad blood is almost entirely generated by BVBL himself, along with his partner in crime, Jonathan Marks who refuses to be called a Democrat but runs the site GoodByeKen dedicated to baseless accusations and witless commentary aimed at removing Republicans from office, and making people "pay" for supposed "evil acts" such as voting for a candidate.

Further, in the REAL world, civilized people find ways to get along, and even celebrate, while having disagreements. It's only in Greg's blog world of hatred that simple differences of policy or practice become life-and-death struggles of humanity.

And it's laughable to for Greg denouncing acts that don't "promote unity within the party". The fact is Greg doesn't want unity, he wants to destroy the party, to what end I can't figure out.

So while dedicated people with years of service getting Republicans elected are still working hard for our candidates for this fall, a few petulant actors look for any excuse to attack people mercilessly for not adhering strictly to their view of the world.

Here's what Nancy Pratt, the person RUNNING the gala had to say about the cancellation:

It is with great disappointment that we have to announce that we must cancel the Gala. We worked very hard but because of the contention and people working against it and other scheduling conflicts, we realized that at this time it is not possible to continue. We are having a great many difficulties keeping our committee together and we must remember what it is we are here for. This committee is not a social club but a very important instrument to help us support political leaders who embody the Republican ideals. Many of our members have been frustrated, disappointed, angered and many other things which has been dangerous to the strength that we need at this time. I implore all of you to remember that we need each other and that the stakes could not be higher. Lets pull together and mend our fences, we need each other.

What person in their right mind would be working AGAINST a Gala to celebrate conservative principles? An unmannerly, uncivil person. And while Greg thinks it's "natural" for us to be at each other's throats, the fact is in the real world it is NOT natural. People who have been taught how to behave in a socially positive manner get along in the face of disagreements.

But the blog world is increasingly made up of people who have no idea how to act in a civilized manner, and show no interest in doing so.

A Contrast in Styles for the 51st appeal

Here is how Becky Stoeckel, chair of the 11th district committeee which will next hear the 51st convention appeal, has spoken about the appeal, before she has even seen it, from the article Lucas appeals nomination decision:

Stoeckel attended the June 2 convention and criticized the procedures used to disseminate and count ballots.

"Believe me, if I had anything to do with that convention directly I would have made sure it was run squeaky clean," she said. "I wouldn't want an appeal in my lap."
She said she supports Lucas' appeal and thinks that the two precincts with inexplicable overvotes should be disqualified.

"If someone can put three extra ballots in, they could easily put in 10," she said.

There would be no way of knowing if that happened, she said, since the ballots are anonymous.

"In a lot of ways I feel sorry for Faisal because his victory is tainted because the process was flawed," Stoeckel said. "It could be overzealous newcomers, it could be very innocent or it could be very sinister."

As I said in the post "Becky Stoeckel has disqualified herself from the 51st district appeal", her obvious prejudging of the case before seeing the evidence, and her prejudicial comments, should disqualify her from a position of authority in judging the case.

Meanwhile, a release from the PWC Republican Committee shows how an appeal SHOULD be approached. From Tom Kopko, who is the chair of the 51st district committee which has to hear the initial appeal:

Update on the 51st House of Delegates Convention Appeal

As most know, an appeal regarding the 51st House convention was submitted by Julie Lucas on June 11 to the 51st Legislative District Committee. The appeal seeks correction of a mathematical error in the credentials report regarding the Civic Center precinct and for all votes in two precincts, Lake Ridge and Penn, to be completely thrown out because of apparent over-votes.

As the Chairman of the 51st Legislative District Committee, and its sole member, the appeal currently rests with me. I would like to update everyone on my progress.

General. Given that the nature of the appeal is to overturn the nomination, it requires the utmost in care, thoroughness, and consideration. Frankly, that will, and should, take some time but I am working as quickly as possible. Until I complete the plan of action below I will not have made a decision on the appeal.

Plan of Action. My plan is to review all of the surrounding evidence in the hope of identifying reasons why over-votes may have been recorded. Then I will work with the Credentials and Elections Chairmen to narrow or even pinpoint the source of the over-votes. As I stated in the Potomac News recently, there are many, many human errors that are possible as well as possible intentional errors. This is done with respect to Robert’s Rules (RONR 10th Ed.) regarding how to count ballots.

Status. I have asked for and received signed copies of the convention minutes and rules. I have reviewed copies of the credentials materials and ballots. But, while I have received favorable responses from both I am still awaiting reports from the RPV observer and the 11th Congressional District Chairman who acted as an observer.

Thank you for patience in this weighty matter.

Tom Kopko

No prejudging the case, only a detailed plan to investigate completely to do what is best. Some naive people were upset that the appeal wasn't handled within "48 hours", as if the important thing is to rule rather than actually investigate (that seems to be the Becky Stockel approach, as she already knows what to do without looking at ANY evidence).

But to those who are upset about the pace of the deliberations, note who is responsible at this point. As Becky said in her quotes in the newspaper, she was at the convention as an observer (although she never officially announced herself as such). So to collect ALL the information, Tom Kopko has asked her for a report. But, as he notes, "I am still awaiting reports from the RPV observer and the 11th Congressional District Chairman who acted as an observer."

If Becky saw things to criticize, now is the time for her to provide to the 51st district committee her sworn testimony so it can be evaluated.

Friday, June 22, 2007

BVBL commenters attack Lucas volunteers

Not that they understand what they are doing.

In a thread at BVBL attacking Lucy Beauchamp, Batson D. Belfrey said:
McQuigg isn’t much better. Her lack of attention to detail contributed to the mess that is the 51st. Beauchamp and McQuigg….hmmm…who to chose?

Actually, McQuigg was on the Credentials committee, which had nothing to do with how the election was run, that was the Convention Chair Pat O'Leary (recommended by Julie Lucas), and the Elections committee, chaired by Ruth Griggs, again chosen by Julie Lucas.

If the convention ran poorly, Lucas people were in charge of it, having chased Tom Kopko out of the process.

Commenter Freedom responded:
Absolutely, Batson…but then again, thinking back on the 51st campaign and “I’m neutral but voting for Faisal Gill,” the decision becomes much, much easier.
Jonathan Mark showed his ignorance:
Does Beauchamp have a good shot at winning as more people become aware of the HOD-51 credentials fiasco? McQuigg could not control access to ballots and ballot boxes, resulting in overvotes in two precincts.
Again, McQuigg was CREDENTIALS, not ELECTIONS. But facts seem to mean little to BVBL's readers, and since I'm banned there's nobody to correct them.
She is silent on Kopko’s perversion of the rules and his current obfuscatory delaying tactics in sending Julie’s appeal to the 11th District.
There is no delay, nor does McQuigg have any say in the appeal. You might as well criticize every person in Prince William for "not complaining".

Anyway, here's my point. When bloggers started screaming that Tom Kopko couldn't be trusted, Julie went to people she could trust and asked them to protect her interests. Those people graciously accepted. One of those people was Michelle McQuigg.

And now that it is convenient, Lucas supporters want to punish people who volunteered their time and effort to try to make the convention work. Thus guaranteeing that NEXT time, it will be harder to find people to do this kind of work.

The place at which I "used to visit"

You know, BVBL can lock anybody out of his blog he wants. As I've explained many times, BVBL NEVER asked me to stop commenting, or to make my comments shorter, nor did he ever send an e-mail explaining why he doesn't want me reading his blog any more.

Remember, I can't even READ his blog, much less write to it.

But, and again here is where BVBL is breaking blog ethics, he sometimes mentions me in his blog, without letting me read his comments or to respond to them. And he keeps misleading his readers, suggesting I CHOSE not to comment any more or to defend myself.

In a recent thread, a commenter who used the name "charles" was personally attacked by several other commenters. The funny thing was he said nothing bad, they just attacked him because they thought he was me.

But BVBL came to his rescue, sort of:

Greg L: You may want to pick a different name to use when posting, as someone by that name used to visit regularly and has somewhat of a history. The confusion is likely to end up causing you some trouble.

This is wrong on so many levels. First of all, his comment that I "used to" visit regularly implies I chose not to visit anymore -- he should have said he banned me. And I don't have a "history", there's just people who like to make personal attacks when they can't discuss the issues.

I have no problem in other blogs where the commenters are less juvenile. Even at NLS, it was only a couple of commenters who descended into childish name-calling and personal attacks. Even at BVBL it was only a couple of people.

BVBL needs to grow up, and stop making comments about people he won't allow to answer. Frankly, I wouldn't care so much about his blog except that he keeps attacking people with misleading information which needs to be corrected.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hot Gas or Hot Air?

My column from this week's Potomac News, about the "problem" of gas station pumps not adjusting for gas expansion in the summer heat.

Hot Gas or Hot Air excerpts:
Every year around this time we are treated to a spate of news stories about consumers being ripped off by gas stations selling hot gas. No, not stolen gasoline, but rather gasoline warmed by summer temperatures. But this "rip-off" is more hot air than truth, while there is a bigger scam that goes unreported.
In case you didn't know, Gasoline does expand as it warms up, so one gallon of warm gasoline has a little less energy than one gallon of cold gasoline. The change is very small, as the expansion value for Gasoline is 0.000950/degree celsius. As I explain in the column:
First of all, the temperature effect is actually very small. If gas costs 3 dollars/gallon, a 30 degree temperature change would cost about 4.5 cents per gallon. That's less than the difference in local station prices, and much less than the difference in price from state to state.
That's if the gas really gets hotter. As I also point out:
Second, gasoline is not usually stored above ground, but rather in underground tanks, where the temperature is cool and fairly constant, changing only a few degrees between winter and summer. Once the gasoline sits underground overnight, the summer temperatures don't really matter.
Different gas can also have different energy levels:
Take "premium gas" for example. "Octane" is not a measure of energy, and there is no relationship between the octane rating of gasoline and how much energy it has. However, many manufacturers make high-octane gasoline differently, so it does have more energy. Then they charge extra, so you pay more for the energy anyway. Other manufacturers use methods for raising octane levels that lower the amount of energy in a gallon of gas.
This article was based on an AP story which appeared in the Potomac News, titled "Higher temperatures mean lower gasoline potency", which I found online from HERE:
Consumer watchdog groups warn that higher temperatures can cost consumers between 3 and 9 cents a gallon. That could total more than $1.5 billion in the summertime, including $228 million to drivers in California alone, according to the House subcommittee on domestic policy, which recently addressed the concerns in hearings. The subcommittee's new chair, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, has long been active on the issue.
So I noted that while the true effect of summer heat on gasoline volume is minimal there are other things that really change the energy in our gasoline:
Each winter many locations (like Prince William County) require "gasohol", which is gasoline with ethanol added. But ethanol has a much lower energy value than gasoline (only about 2/3rds as much energy). So gasohol sold in the winter costs the consumer about 10 cents per gallon extra in energy, or more than twice the cost of a 30-degree temperature rise. We actually save over 5 cents a gallon even with hotter gas over the winter gas with ethanol.
But this misses the real point -- there isn't some "set price" for the energy in gasoline, such that if the gas station can heat up the gas, they can make money on the deal. Each station sets the price of their gasoline to make money, and to compete with every other station:
One last thing -- the typical gasoline retailer makes about a penny a gallon selling gasoline, regardless of the price. If we adjusted the pumps to provide more real gallons per "gallon" in the summer, the retailers will have to raise their price enough to still make their penny profit. In fact, any real effect of "hot gas" has already been accounted for in the retail price, based on competition with other sellers.

So the politicians will continue to blow hot air about the cost of hot gas, but in the end no matter what they do, it will only serve to drive up the cost of providing gasoline to the consumer, rather than saving us money.
The one thing I'm sure of. If we tax the gas companies MORE, it will mean we will pay more for gas. If we make gas companies install more expensive pumps, we will pay more. And if the new pumps credit fewer gallons pumped (to adjust for heat), the gas stations will simply raise the price-per-gallon on hot days.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Post Misses Mark in Caddigan Article

Yesterday I wrote about the Maureen Caddigan rant about not supporting Corey Stewart.

Tonight I want to look more into the absurdity of the article itself. From the Washington Post: Caddigan Might Not Support Stewart:
"I think he did everything in his power to work against me," Caddigan said. "He asked three people to run against me, and I certainly won't be supporting him in November."
So, who were these three people? I've learned that the Washington Post contacted at least one person who was supposedly "recruited". That person told the Post the story was false. The Post chose not to include that denial.

We can assume the Post tried to contac the other two people and failed to get confirmation.
Stewart said that he did not support Caddigan's opponent, Charles C. Brewer, directly or indirectly, and that he never recruited anyone to run against her in the primary.

"I didn't support anyone in the race," Stewart said. "I kept my finger off that one. I didn't support Brewer; I didn't endorse him. I know she thinks I somehow recruited him, but that's not true."
And in fact there is no evidence, even in this article, that anybody was recruited, or that Stewart offered his support to Brewer.
Brewer did not respond to a call seeking comment.
And yet the Post was in such a hurry to run this story that they couldn't wait for confirmation from Brewer. The election isn't for another five months, so what exactly was the rush for the Post to print this without Brewer's side of the story?
Caddigan said Stewart worked against her right up until the primary by asking people to hand out Brewer literature at polling locations in the Dumfries District. Stewart said that he never asked anyone to work the polls for Brewer.
Given other inaccuracies, I believe Stewart. But seriously, is this what she means by "support"? Asking people to help hand out literature? Did Brewer not have enough people to man the 8 polling places? And would Corey have to beg people to man the polls? And would Corey, having obviously avoided all public comment, then called people to work for Brewer who would talk about it?
One person active in the county Republican Party disputed Stewart's assertion that he didn't support Brewer. The activist said that Stewart came to him early in the primary campaign and asked him to support Brewer in the election. On primary day the Republican activist said a Brewer poll worker told him that Stewart had asked him to work that day for Brewer.

Stewart "was definitely helping out," said the Republican activist, who requested anonymity because he did not want to get caught up in the intraparty squabble. "He called me when the campaign started and told me that there was a guy out there running against Caddigan and that I might want to take a look at him and consider helping him."
An unnamed "activist" who does not "want to get caught up" in the squabble. How believable is this? If his story is true, Stewart asked him to help, which means Stewart knows who he is. And Maureen knows who he is, because Maureen gave his name to the Post. So why is he "anonymous", if the two people involved both know who he is? And how do you stay "out of" a squabble by talking publicly to the Washington Post.

To believe this, you have to believe that Corey Stewart, wanting to keep his intentions hidden, nevertheless actively recruited an "activist" who not only wouldn't listen, but would turn on Corey to the Washington Post.

Further, Maureen said Corey tried to recruit 3 people to RUN against her, but this "activist" says Corey "early in the primary" asked him to support BREWER. If so, why was Corey also asking others to run? Probably because Corey was NOT asking others to run, nor was he actively supporting Brewer.

Lastly, even if you BELIEVE this unnamed anonymous "source", he gives no evidence that COREY supported Brewer. At best, he shows that Corey tried to talk OTHER people into supporting Brewer.
The tension between Caddigan and Stewart that has been present at some meetings has now spilled out onto the campaign trail. Caddigan called Stewart's support of her opponent "despicable."
When did it become "despicable" to support a Republican candidate in a primary? Frankly, given Maureen's votes on the board, and her support for Pandak in the special election, I think Corey showed great restraint in not publicly endorsing an opponent against her.
"She has a history of supporting Democrats," Stewart said. "Now, I don't think that is the right thing to do. I think that if you are a member of the party, you should support other party nominees or get out of your party."
For example, Maureen supported Kathleen Seefeldt against Sean Connaughton in his first run for the Chair position. And she supported Sharon Pandak against Corey last year. Now, I don't think every Republican needs to support every one of our candidates. But I think our elected Republican officials should support Republicans against Democrats, on principle.

It's not like Maureen is saying she supports the Democratic Platform. She's just saying she is upset Corey doesn't like her, and wants to take it out on him by supporting his opponent.
Kopko said that he rejected the moderate and conservative labels and that voters made it clear how they feel about their party by electing Stewart last November and then electing Republican Michael C. May in a special election to fill Stewart's seat from the Occoquan District on the board. He did not mention Caddigan's primary win.
Why would he menton her PRIMARY win when discussing how the Republican Party is defeating Democratic Party candidates? The primary was within the party and doesn't show ANYTHING about how we do against Democrats.
Jenkins, the longest-serving member of the board, said that he thinks Stewart supported Caddigan's opponent and that the election results were a "setback" for the chairman.

"She had an overwhelming vote, over 81 percent, with a low voter turnout that indicates that the people who turned out had a message they wanted to send back," Jenkins said. "I think that it was a setback for him.
Who cares what Jenkins, the only Democrat incumbent left on the board, thinks, since he has no idea what the facts are? This was typical Washington Post, giving a Democrat an unsubstantiated shot at a Republican. Corey didn't support Brewer, but Jenkins says that the Republican incumbent's win is a "setback". Right.
At Caddigan's victory celebration Tuesday night, Pandak showed up to offer her congratulations. Caddigan introduced Pandak to the crowd. Last week, Caddigan said she is considering supporting Pandak against Stewart. If she did that, it is possible that the county Republican Party would try to expel her.
I'd believe that if it was attributed to someone. But since we didn't throw her out when she supported Seefeldt, or when she supported Pandak, I doubt unless she actively campaigns for Pandak that the Republican committee will do anything.

BTW, if you look again at the entire article, there are quotes from Caddigan, Kopko, Stewart, and Jenkins. No other people are mentioned by name, and just one male "activist" is identified anonymously.

Brewer is not quoted, the other 2 supposed "candidates" recruited by Stewart are never mentioned. Also not mentioned is a primary source other than Caddigan for this story -- Jane Beyer. I don't know why she is not quoted or named in the story.

But I've heard that the Post reporter mentioned her by name when trying to confirm the story about candidates being recruited.

The PURPOSE of primaries is to test our incumbents for adherance to the principles of our party. Incumbents should welcome this opportunity to sell what they have done, not go crying to the Washington Post about it.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Maureen Won't Support Corey. In other news, Sun Rises.

Maureen, having won her primary, and with no general election campaign, is now saying she won't support Corey Stewart.

She doesn't need any help from the Republican committee since the democrats have given her a free pass, and I guess she is thinking about returning their favor by supporting Sharon Pandak.

Of course, she all but supported Sharon Pandak against Corey in the special election. And it seems she supported Kathleen Seefeldt (D) against Sean Connaughton in his first race for the chair position.

So the "news" would have been if Maureen had decided to support Corey for a change.

But the Washington Post thought Maureen's non-support was newsworthy. Which it might be, if only for her petty personal vindictiveness:
Supervisor Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Dumfries) won her primary election by collecting a whopping 81 percent of the vote. But despite the landslide, she is fighting mad.

Caddigan, a member of the Board of County Supervisors since 1991, is upset because she thinks Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R) worked to defeat her in the primary.

"I think he did everything in his power to work against me," Caddigan said. "He asked three people to run against me, and I certainly won't be supporting him in November."
I'll deal with this entire article in another post tomorrow. There's a lot reported and NOT reported that I find noteworthy.

The article notes Maureen hasn't decided whether to actively support Pandak:
The dispute might get even more serious if Caddigan openly supports Sharon E. Pandak, who lost to Stewart last November and is running against him again in the general election. Caddigan said that she is considering supporting the Democrat but that she hasn't made up her mind.
But it also notes that Maureen never supported Stewart before:
Stewart said that Caddigan did not support him in the race against Pandak last November and so he is not surprised she once again will not support him this November.
Caddigan is apparently one of those politicians who feels like once they had their seat, it's unseemly to give the voters a choice. Given that the democrats have handed her the seat, the ONLY chance voters had to make a choice about her service was in the primary. I fully supported Maureeen (as did everybody I know of, as evidenced by the trouncing she gave her opponent), but now that she's complained I'm glad someone ran against her, even it if was a joke candidate with no support.

Maybe Caddigan would like a stronger challenge next time? She breezed through the primary, and has no general election opponent, and yet she's "so mad" she goes to the Washington Post to allege and complain that some other republican that she's never supported didn't support her?

Friday, June 15, 2007

John Gray, taking advantage of my trusting nature

According to today's Potomac news, "Republican" John Gray has filed to run for the Occaquan Supervisor's seat as an independent. From the article Candidates to Run as Independents:

John S. Gray also filed petitions Monday to run against incumbent Michael C. May, R-Occoquan.

May defeated Gray in a Republican convention in 2006 prior to a special election in January.

The Occoquan District seat was left vacant when former Occoquan District Supervisor Corey A. Stewart, R-Occoquan, was elected chairman of the board after former Chairman Sean T. Connaughton accepted a presidential appointment.

Before Gray challenged Mike May in Occoquan, he first challenged Corey Stewart for the Chair position on the Board of County Supervisors. During that race, some people made a big deal of the fact that Gray had last run for office as a Democrat, but was now saying he was a long-term Republican.

After the convention ended, John Gray came to me at the convention and had a conversation, which impressed me enough that I wrote My Conversation with John Gray, in which I said in part:
But anyway, he believed it was important to let me know that he had been a republican for years, had a good record of supporting republicans, and that his run for the democrat nomination in 2003 was a "stupid mistake".

I believe him. Of course, I tend to believe people that tell me things to my face, because I'm a pretty trusting guy. But if I had to justify my belief, I would use this argument: First, he sounded sincere to me. Second, he sought me out to talk to me, he wasn't trying an answer an argument. Third, this was after the convention -- he had no reason at that point to try to deceive me about his credentials as a republican.
Well, I may have just been proven wrong. I have no respect for people who say they are good Republicans, and then don't bother to run for office in a primary, instead filing as independents. It's hard to be a "good republican" when you are running against a republican in the general election.

John has every right to run as an independent. And at least he didn't run for the Republican nomination FIRST, and then jump to independent after losing the nomination. But I don't expect to be defending him the next time he claims to be a real Republican.

Arnaiz sends wrong message to the children?

According to today's Potomac news, Desi Arnaiz has filed to run for the Brentsville School Board seat being vacated by Milt Johns.

From the article Candidates to Run as Independents:
Julie Lucas and Desi R. Arnaiz filed to run for seats on the Prince William County School Board.

Arnaiz, 59, filed last week for the Brentsville District seat. He is the founder and president of Virginia Systems Inc. an Internet technology company.

Arnaiz's wife and campaign spokeswoman, Cheri Arnaiz, said her husband is running because "He thinks he can make a difference for the schools, for the kids and for the teachers."
What difference will he make for the schools, the kids, and the teachers? What message will his candidacy send? Unfortunately, the wrong message.

Desi Arnaiz earlier this year decided to ask for the endorsement of the Prince William Republican committee. School Board members do not run with party affiliation, but the parties often endorse candidates.

The Republican committee set a simple qualification to request an endorsement -- the candidate had to sign a pledge to NOT run for the seat if they did not receive the endorsement.

Desi was not forced to seek the endorsement and sign the pledge. But he did sign the pledge. He requested the Republican endorsement. However, the Republican endorsement went to another fine Republican, Gil Trenum, who is now the Republican-endorsed candidate for the seat.

But Desi Arnaiz has decided his word is meaningless. By filing to run for the seat, he sends the message that it's OK to lie to get what you want, to break your promises if keeping them is inconvenient, to mislead your friends in order to get ahead, to sign an oath and then disregard it when it suits your fancy.

Those are NOT lessons I want my kids to learn. And frankly, those are not things I would have expected from Desi, who is a fine man, a good Republican, and someone I respected.

He has not lost my respect, but he has severely damaged it. I hope this is not a true measure of his character, but just an uncharacteristic mistake made in the heat of the moment.

There is still time to do the right thing. Desi can, and should, drop out of the race. Doing so would demonstrate to the children of our county that they should honor their pledges, they should act with honesty and integrity, they should keep their word, and follow the rules they agree to follow.

Or more importantly, that you should do all those things even when there is a cost to do so (after all, anybody can behave well when it doesn't cost them anything do do so).

It would be a hard lesson for Desi to teach, as it would require him to give up something he really wanted (so badly that he would give up his honor for it). But it would be a valuable lesson, and would be what I would expect from a man of Desi's previous character.

Everybody makes mistakes, it's how you deal with them that shows the true measure of a man. Maybe Desi is convinced it was a mistake to ask for our endorsement, to commit to supporting Gil Trenum (our nominee). But he should not compound that mistake by destroying his reputation for honesty and integrity.

I very much want to be able to point with pride to Desi for the way he handles this. I hope he will see the damage he is doing to his reputation.

Update: Citizen Tom has some other thoughts about this, along with the details on the pledge Dezi took when he asked for the republican nomination.

Becky Stoeckel has disqualified herself from the 51st appeal.

Not because of money she received, or her endorsement of Lucas. Political people do political things, and should be able to separate their official duties from their non-official duties.

No, her disqualifying failure is in pre-judging the appeal before it has even reached her desk. From today's Potomac News, Lucas appeals nomination decision:
She said she supports Lucas' appeal and thinks that the two precincts with inexplicable overvotes should be disqualified.
No person can be considered a fair judge after stating they SUPPORT one side before they have seen ALL the facts, which includes testimony from both parties. Only Lucas's side has been speaking publicly. And based on that, Becky has already decided Lucas is right? A person who sits in judgment MUST be disqualified if they have prejudged the case before hearing the evidence.

Further, her comment about the "two precincts" shows she is judging based on evidence not before her. The official report is that three precincts overvoted. The Lucas appeal before the 51st district committee apparently claims one was not overvoted. That's not a fact before Becky, but her statement presumes it to be true.

So Stoeckel has made her decision about what should be done based on information NOT in evidence, and before the appeal is in front of her, and before she's seen the evidence. No person doing so can later claim to be impartial or fair.

Becky MUST recuse herself from judgment. Stating the outcome of the appeal to a REPORTER before you even hear the appeal is clearly inappropriate and disqualifying.

Further, her argument is faulty:
"If someone can put three extra ballots in, they could easily put in 10," she said. There would be no way of knowing if that happened, she said, since the ballots are anonymous.
First, there is NO indication a "someone" put "three extra ballots" in. The ballots were tightly controlled, individually numbered, and handed out by election monitors who had to check the credential badge for the name and precinct before handing out a single ballot.

There is no report of extra numbered ballots in Lake Ridge, so the election monitor for Lake Ridge likely handed out 80 ballots to 80 valid people. So they likely weren't "extra ballots", simply ballots cast in the wrong precinct.

Second, even if you ASSUMED there were 10 extra ballots, and they were for Gill, in Lake Ridge, and therefore subtracted 10 from Gill in Lake Ridge (and took the 1 overvote from Purcell) , Gill would still win (Gill: 207.25, Lucas: 204.75).

In fact, for Lucas to win you'd have to take a total of 15 votes from Gill in Lake Ridge.

Further, it is highly unlikely Lake Ridge had 10 "extra" votes. The undervote for the convention was 6%. So for Lake Ridge, you'd expect 5 undervotes, 8 fewer votes in Lake Ridge than were actually cast, NOT 10, and certainly not 15.

In fact, the WORST precinct for undervotes only had 8 undervotes.

It's likely the Lake Ridge overvotes were people who voted in the wrong precinct. The 2nd-most UNDERVOTED precinct was Mohican (6 undervotes, almost 20% undervote), which is right next to Lake Ridge. If three Mohican voters accidentally voted in next-door Lake Ridge, that would account for the overvotes.

Neighboring Springwood also had almost 20% undervotes -- and if those 2 undervotes voted in Lake Ridge by mistake, that would help account for the overvotes.

So while Lake Ridge had 3 "overvotes", 8 more votes than average, the two neighboring precincts had 8 undervotes, 6 FEWER votes than the average -- almost a wash.

So it seems we can be pretty certain nobody "stuffed" 10 extra votes, much less 15, into Lake Ridge -- if they had, we'd expect more than 3 overvotes.

Given the math, and given that the ballots were numbered and handed out IN LINE by election monitors who watched them put into the ballot boxes, it is inexplicable why Becky Stoeckel believes before hearing the evidence that someone "stuffed" 3-10 ballots in Lake Ridge, and thinks that throwing out 103 VALID votes (that's over 16% of the delegates) is the "appropriate" response.

The very thought that you would disqualify over 100 valid voters because of what is likely a trivial error of allowing a few people to PROPERLY vote but in the IMPROPER precinct should be laughed at by people of common sense.

Update: I've also learned that Rockledge precinct includes part of the Lake Ridge community -- and Rockledge had 6 undervotes, about 10% undervoted, when you'd have "expected" 3. If those other 3 undervotes were cast in Lake Ridge by accident, that would also fully explain the "overvote".

Update 6/17: John M. in a post about the 11th CD makeup comments on my post, saying in part:

But what Charles doesn't tell you is that in the same article where Stoeckel said that the overvoting precincts should be disqualified, Kopko, who is also on the Committee, disagreed:

"So far there doesn't seem to be any precedent for throwing out an entire precinct," he said. "So far the most common remedy I've seen and have been told about is to make a determination of whether the overvotes, and only the overvotes, if given to the loser, would change the outcome of the election, and it doesn't change the outcome of the election."

So if Stoeckel recuses herself then so should Kopko. And since Kopko has resolutely refused to recuse himself from any matter concerning the Gill-Lucas contest, so should Stoeckel.

But there is a big difference. Tom Kopko HAS the appeal before him right now. He has all the evidence, and is evaluating the evidence. Becky has no appeal or evidence before her, but has already made a pronouncement of how she would rule.

Tom's comment is not a pre-judgment. It's not even a judgment. He is commenting on the current state of his deliberation, where he is actually researching what other conventions have done when there were overvotes. In other words, he is commenting on the evidence he is finding during fact-finding, in response to Becky's pre-judgment that has been published in the newspaper.

Becky will be a juror in the case, and she has pre-judged the case and tainted the results by publicly calling on a particular action before the evidence is presented.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Waldo Forging signatures on comments to his blog?

Kilo says so. In his post Waldo Is a Liar, he notes that while he hasn't commented to Waldo's blog in some time, Waldo has changed someone else's comment signature to Kilo's,

I just became aware that Waldo has forged ( To fashion or reproduce for fraudulent purposes) my name and linked my website to a comment made on his blog. Waldo admits changing the real authors name to mine. I did not make this comment and in fact have not commented on Waldo's blog in some time.

Here's where Waldo confesses to changing the name:

Carl, I’ve taken the liberty of changing the name that you entered (”Teddy’s Turds”) to your real name. How embarrassing for you to have mistyped your name so severely. But, hey, mistakes happen, so I’ve got you covered.

It's clear Waldo is trying to embarrass Kilo. The only question is whether Waldo really and truly believed Kilo was posting under another name (in which case he's just sloppy and ignorant), or if he simply asserted so without any reason.

But what is NOT in question is that Waldo changed the signature on a blog entry, forging Kilo's name. There is no good reason to do that without permission from the commenter. Blog ettiquite -- if you think someone's posting under a different name, you can accuse them, you can delete their comments, but you shouldn't EDIT other people's comments, much less their signatures. That's just bad form.

I recommend NOBODY post to Waldo's comment section until he proves he can be trusted not to be changing people's comments to make them look bad, or worse. Bloggers who edit comments like this, or worse who make wholesale deletions simply because they don't like losing an argument, should be punished by the blogosphere, or else all of us will get a bad name.

Primaries have better participation than Conventions?

Interesting factoid.

51st District Convention, Lake Ridge Precinct -- 80 total votes cast.

Tuesday Republican Primary, Lake Ridge Precinct -- 80 total votes cast.

44 - Glendell Hill
22 - James J. Fotis
14 - Michael W. Messier
80 - TOTAL

Of course, the irony is that there are those who insist that 80 was TOO MANY voters for the 51st convention, and would like to throw out the votes of those 80 people who gave a day of their lives to vote, simply because someone (not them) made an error and either miscounted them at checkin, or allowed them to vote in the wrong precinct line.

Of course, the "primary" supporters who profess to want to open up the process to more voters also got 50+ now-registered voters banned from voting despite the RPV plan suggesting they should be allowed to do so.

The "Math" error

BVBL has a post he called "the math error" although in fact he's not reporting a math error at all, but rather a likely cause for ALL the supposed "overvotes" -- that the front desk simply didn't do the counts by precinct correctly.

In fact, in the ONE instance reported, there were supposedly two delegates who weren't counted at ALL as being there, but were actually there and had valid badges for one of the overvoted precincts. If there were two, it's likely there were more than two.

In fact, given that the front desk rejected some people, and they had to go to the credentials committee and get hand-written badges, it's possible THOSE people weren't counted either.

It's also possible a couple people were allowed to vote in the Lake Ridge precinct when they weren't tagged for the precinct. However, I'm beginning to discount that. The Lucas monitor for that precinct is a long-time republican operative, and is hardly the kind of person you'd expect to make an error like that. And since she hasn't said anything about allowing people who weren't allowed to vote to vote, and since she had control of the ballots which were all numbered, it seems highly unlikely that a person with the wrong name tag voted.

It's too bad they don't collect the valid name tags at the end, so they could go through and count them to see how many were issued for each precinct. But remember, the Lucas election monitor had to put an ''X" on EACH AND EVERY voter in the Lake Ridge precinct. Does ANYBODY here think the Lucas election monitor would have put an "X" on a name tag that was NOT in that precinct? Why would the Lucas election monitor hand out ballots to three people who had the wrong name tags?

Since the only reason would be to cause overvotes and get the precinct thrown out so her candidate would win, and since nobody would accuse a Lucas campaign person of doing that with no evidence, I have to think that she marked 80 "X" marks on 80 valid Lake Ridge Precinct votes.

It will be interesting to hear what SHE thinks caused the overvotes in her precinct. I can't imagine she'll say she allowed invalid votes just for her candidate to win, nor can I imagine the RPV would throw an election to a candidate if the candidate's appointee was the reason for the error. Especially to throw out 77 good votes to win the election because of the error.

Anyway, there's a simpler solution since the election wasn't that close. Throw out 3 gill votes in the precinct and nothing changes. Since the precincts are all weighted, there's no point in throwing out the whole precinct, that would disenfranchise voters in a way contrary to the point of having weightings.

Fact is, if you think there could have been overvotes in one precinct, there could have been people voting wrong in EVERY precinct. But there's no indication of a single person being CAUGHT voting in the wrong precinct.

My guess is that this will unfortunately end up at the RPV. And my expectation is that, they being smart people, will do the math, realise that you could even throw 10 gill votes out of the "overvoted" precinct and he would STILL win the race, and properly reject the appeal.

That is, if we even know all the facts. My guess is there's a lot of things both sides have that are being held close. Heck, we are just bloggers. It's not our place to make these decisions, and we probably get in the way more than help.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Blog Ettiquite

I do occasionally read BVBL, even though BVBL has blocked me after I kept correcting all the errors there.

BVBL of course has every right to block any reader, just as I have every right to point out how cowardly it is to do so.

But there are rules of ettiquite in the blogging world. And one of those rules is that if you block a person from your blog, you don't post about them. Of course, since BVBL doesn't follow rules like checking facts before posting, expecting ethical or mannerly behavior is certainly out of the question.

I just like to remind people from time to time that I'm prevented from reading or responding to BVBL, in case they wonder why people are saying false things about me and I'm not responding. I probably wouldn't respond anyway, but now I have a good excuse.

Update: OK, I decided to see how scared BVBL really was, so tonight I made two subdued but on-topic and polite posts from a different network to his blog. Since BVBL has NEVER asked me to not post to his blog, I feel no obligation to refrain simply because he has made it slightly harder. It will be interesting to see if the comments remain. More interesting will be to see if BVBL blocks another large blog of addresses from his site.