Sunday, April 29, 2007

Lucy Beauchamp quits race for Republican nomination

As I reported yesterday, Lucy abandoned her bid for the Republican nomination for Clerk of the Court.

The story ran in the Prince William Extra, page 1, but for some reason Page 1 has not been posted yet. The subhead was "Longtime Republican Cites Rift in Local Party", and the article starts by trying to build up Lucy's credentials:

Prince William School Board Chairman Lucy S. Beauchamp has voted twice for President Bush, campaigned for numerous past Republican Board of County Supervisor members and served on the Prince William County Republican Committee for more than 10 years.

Now, Beauchamp, who is running for clerk of Circuit Court, is relinquishing her Republican label at the most important point of her political career.

It almost brings a tear to your eye. But nowhere in the article does the Post note that Lucy has been unable to get the Republican Party endorsement for School Board Chair.

The Post blames a "rift" in the party:

Beauchamp's withdrawal reflects the growing rift in the county's Republican machine, as more members of the conservative wing have begun to leverage significant influence in leadership positions and policy decisions.

And where did they get that idea? Why, from Lucy Beauchamp, Republican extraordinaire!!! And what is this "growing rift"?:

This year, Beauchamp lobbied Republican supervisors vigorously, and unsuccessfully, to raise the county's real estate tax rate high enough so Prince William schools could offer teacher raises on par with other Northern Virginia School Districts, without being forced to trim any more from their own budget.

At least the Post was honest about the argument. Lucy didn't want to cut her own budget, instead she wanted the BOCS to raise taxes so she could claim credit for better teacher pay, without losing her standing with the pro-democrat NEA, and without getting blamed for the tax increases (which would be blamed on the Republicans on the BOCS).

Of course, it's not some small "conservative" leadership that opposed her. The Republican Committee spoke loudly and negatively about the move by the School Board to force a tax increase while not considering reasonable steps such as delaying the implementation of all-day Kindergarten, a program with limited evidence of value.

The Post also didn't mention that this "rift" as they call it was largely settled as millions more were made available to the school board.

The Post, having exhausted their ability to spin this, finally gets to the nub of the problem -- Republicans want to choose their OWN nominee, and Lucy doesn't like it:

Now her message is much more blunt and is driven by her belief that the local Republican Party's nomination process has been unfair this year. Party leaders decided to have a convention, where only Republican delegates have a say about candidates, rather than a primary, where the general public can vote.

Lucy thinks that it's unfair for Republicans to choose their nominee. As a friend to the teacher's union, she no doubt was counting on their mostly democratic membership to help her defeat Michelle McQuigg, who is counting on Republicans for her nomination.

Lucy also complained about the location for the convention being in the east (There is no "good" single location for a meeting in our county), and for being told she had to re-file too late. As to the last point, the Post notes:

Kopko denied that, saying that somehow an e-mail he had sent to her and McQuigg asking them to refile because the convention site had changed had not gone through and he did not realize it until much later. Ultimately, he allowed Beauchamp to remain as a candidate.

There is a valid reason to ask the candidate to acknowledge when the location changed, and it is NOT to kick the candidate out or to be unfair. Instead, it is FOR the candidate, to ensure that the candidate knows of the new location . Tom didn't kick her out, and the process ensured that both candidates were on record knowing about the new location.

I have little doubt that if he had not done this, we'd be reading charges that Lucy hadn't been properly notified of the change.

Lucy thinks this whole convention thing is intolerable:

There are some absolutely fine people in the Republican Committee, and I don't believe a lot of them agree with this,", Beauchamp said. "I believe my race should have been decided in a primary, to give the citizens the right to choose."

Did Lucy miss the meeting where the Committee approved the conventions? Or are all of us who voted NOT fine people? I don't want the "citizens" to choose MY PARTY nominee, I want the citizens of MY PARTY to choose the nominee. Most of the good people of our committee agree that we don't want the Democratic Party to choose our nominees.

If Lucy wanted ALL the citizens to get to vote for her, and not just Republicans, she shouldn't have wasted the Republicans' time, effort, and money on a disingenuous bid for our nomination. She is running as an independent now, and she will get her wish. But in doing so, she has trashed the party she pretends to hold dear, has cost the Republican nominee time, effort, and money to contest a nomination Lucy apparently had no interest in obtaining, and has frankly wasted MY time, and the time of all the members of the Republican Committee, who had to listen to her speeches, vote on the convention, organize it, give money to support it, and fill out delegate forms and change our schedules to support it.

For Lucy, it's all about her. "I've been harmed, I've been treated unfairly, I've been subjected to difficulty". Apparently Lucy thinks she is the first person in the history of the Internet to have an e-mail dropped. Apparently Lucy thinks that she is the only one inconvenienced by her dropping out of the convention, ignoring all of us who rearranged our schedules so we could attend.

The Washington Post didn't ask Lucy the most obvious question a person with a brain would want to ask -- Were you having trouble getting delegates for the convention? I guess the answer would have not been helpful to their story. Does anybody think that, if Lucy was getting enough delegates signed up to compete in the Republican convention, she would have dropped out? It's clear that she realised she would lose, and decided to cut her losses.

But why trash the Republican Committee on the way out? Because there are people who are friends of hers here, people who would be sympathetic to her charges of being treated unfairly. She hopes to mislead enough of them so that her NEA contacts can push her over the top in the general election against an uninspiring Democratic opponent.

Michelle's response when she heard this sob story?:

"I am surprised, I am speechless," she said. "When you say that you're a Republican and you're going to run in a Republican convention, to drop out, you know, is, I don't know. You lost the battle before your got started."

As I said, Lucy also complained about the location of the convention. Michelle responded to that as well:

McQuigg was not sympathetic to Beauchamp's comment that the Freedom High site was inconvenient, saying that, if anything, the location favored Beauchamp beause it's a school and Beauchamp is the School Board chairman. She said that if Beauchamp had difficulty communicating with Kopko over filing matters, she "needed to reach out".

That's how the post reporter wrote it. Methinks the reporter needed a clue about humor/sarcasm. As School Board Chair, Lucy has been on the ballot throughout the county. ANY location would be a location where people who have voted for her live. This location at least is also close to Michelle's natural constituency. I imagine Lucy would have been fine with a convention at Battlefield High.

Loser's whine, winners win. If Lucy had broad support in the Republican Party, she wouldn't be dropping out or attacking the party for wanting to pick it's own nominee. I feel sorry for the good Republicans who signed up for her campaign, and now have to decide between their obvious personal relationship they have with her, and their commitment to her, with their commitment to the Republican party. It will be interesting to see if any drop off her campaign.

BVBL has coverage, including what is said to be a response from Beefelt. Excerpts:

Now the party will try to tell the average Joe that Lucy is disqualified because, even though they accepted her check, didn’t say clearly in the call whether candidates or delegates had to re-file and didn’t give Lucy notice of the re-filing requirement. But somehow that it Lucy’s fault because she didn’t call the Chairman to find out what they weren’t telling her she had to do. And because there are rumors that Lucy might run as an independent, she must first re-commit to this sham of a process by answering all the rumors [about running as an independent] before the party will even think about making it fair.

This probably was written before Tom made it clear Lucy was not "disqualified". And I think Lucy's actions have "answered" the rumors.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Lucy Beauchamp to run as Independent

Lucy Beauchamp, current school board chair and one of two republican candidates for the Clerk of the Court position vacated by David Mabie, has dropped out of the republican nomination contest against Michelle McQuigg, and will instead run as an independent.

Story will be in the Washington Post tomorrow.

That will free up a Saturday for me.

Update, 3:42 pm:

I hear that the Washington Post heard about this before Lucy told the Republican Committee.


The story ran in the Prince William Extra, page 1, but for some reason Page 1 has not been posted yet.

I also see the "premier" local blog has finally caught up, and predictably has given Lucy somewhat favorable coverage as it pushes their agenda against Tom Kopko . I left them a nice comment explaining again to them why a convention is more fair for true republican candidates.

Also, Citizen Tom weighs in with his take, "Sour Grapes"

Friday, April 27, 2007

Christians, cast as villains

From yesterdays Potomac News, my column: Christians, cast as villians:

I don't know if Cho Seung-Hui, the person responsible for the deaths of 32 people at Virginia Tech last Monday, is the "typical" mass murderer. But I do know more about him than I care to know, and he has received more publicity than he deserves, thanks to NBC showing his home video.

A lot of people make uplifting videos of themselves accomplishing good in this world, but NBC has no interest in them because they wouldn't get ratings. But execute dozens of innocent teachers and students, and you get a first-class ticket to stardom.

Everybody is scrambling to tell Cho's life story. I now know he hired a "female escort" for a private session. As a child, he hit his sister. He was a loner, he stalked two women and he caught his dorm room on fire. I've even seen his eBay trading history.

I do know Cho isn't the "stereotypical" villain. He wasn't a gun owner -- when he decided to shoot people, he had to purchase guns and ammo. He wasn't in a hate group. He wasn't picked on. He was Korean -- Gov. Tim Kaine this week assured the Korean community they weren't to blame, but really, are Koreans who we think of when we hear "killing spree?"

Who is the typical villain? White fundamentalist gun-toting Christians. In March, a school district in Burlington Township, N.J., held a hostage rescue drill to test emergency procedures for responding to a terror attack.

The drill involved two armed men who enter the school, kill several students, and take the rest hostage. Town officials designed what they thought was the most likely villains for an attack.

And what did they come up with? A group called the "New Crusaders," a "right-wing fundamentalist group who don't believe in separation of church and state." This group attacks the school because a child was expelled for praying.

To the local paper, this made complete sense. An article in the Burlington County Times on March 23 said of the 'Christian killers' story: "The scenario has played out in real life across America: Gunfire echoes through a school and students are held hostage."

Of course, when the Christian students were subjected to the drill and learned that they were the villains, they were outraged. As well they should be. If you want to find the Christians in a typical shooting, look on the other side of the gun barrel. Cho's victims included four students involved with Campus Crusade for Christ, five Baptists, and many other people of faith. His multimedia presentation railed against Christianity. The Columbine shooters specifically targeted Christians. And there was the mass murder at the Amish school in Pennsylvania.

But it took two weeks of complaints before the officials even acknowledged a problem. Eventually the district released a "clarifying" statement that said in part: "Any perceived insensitivities to our religious community as a result of the emergency exercise scenario are regrettable. It was certainly not the intent to portray any group in a negative manner. We cherish, respect, and celebrate the diversity of cultures and faith that exist within our community."

But that focus on celebrating diversity contributed to their mistake. They knew not to use a "Muslim terrorist organization." They wouldn't think of using ethnic or racial minorities. We all know who to be sensitive to, and if we forget, there are organizations who will sue to remind us. But using a conservative Christian group as killers raised no flags.

So maybe Cho wasn't the "typical" villain. He wasn't white, he wasn't a conservative churchgoer, he wasn't in a gun club, and he wasn't a dangerous "fundamentalist" upset about prayer in schools.

Meanwhile, videos showing Christians and their positive impact on communities collect dust on shelves across America, while officials portray Christians as villains. And Cho, a real villain, has his twisted vision of the world plastered across my television screen.

Unfathomable tragedy, unbelievable opportunism

From last week's Thursday Potomac News Unfathomable tragedy, unbelievable opportunism:

A tragic shooting at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg has left 32 people plus the killer dead and others wounded, some critically. And unfortunately we see vultures picking over the dead bodies to push their own political and social agendas.

The victims were still being counted at the campus and some were calling for firing the head of the university, and others clamored for more gun control, or less gun control. One New York writer chose the occasion to gloat over Virginia's tragedy, as a fit punishment for our "lax gun laws" which he blamed for crime in his state.

The media loves tragedy. It drives their ratings -- and the more controversy the better. So they gave a platform to anyone who would second-guess the local police for the time it took to enter the building, and the school for not immediately recognizing the danger. "We should have pushed the panic button," one wrote, as if there is a magic "Easy" button like in the Staples commercial that would cast a spell and keep our children safe in times of trouble.

I have my own opinion about what we should do so we can help them protect themselves when confronted by an armed gunman who has a well-conceived plan to kill as many people as possible. But now is not the time.

I write this having just watched the convocation held in Cassell Coliseum to comfort the community in this time of sorrow. Of course all the politicians were there, but not as politicians, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans, fellow citizens, to offer condolences and support and words of sympathy and hope.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine came back from his trade visit to Tokyo to be with his fellow Virginians, with President Bush at his side. Each spoke passionately, personally and with grace and purpose appropriate to the occasion. Their words of comfort and encouragement seemed to lift the spirits of those in attendance. It was a welcome reprieve from the 24/7 "news" coverage focused more on blame than compassion, on ridicule than reflection, and on speculation than fact.
Last to speak was Nikki Giovanni, noted poet and distinguished professor at Tech. She spoke as if at a pep rally, but it seemed appropriate and certainly was well-received. One phrase stuck with me: "We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be."

The tragedy is not ours. It belongs to those who sat cowering in rooms while a man shot randomly at them. It belongs to those who hid in adjacent buildings, and those who watched their classmates jump from windows to escape the carnage. It belongs to those who lost loved ones, and those who feared they had. It belongs to those responsible for the safety of the school who watched as lives were lost.

For the rest of us, the attack brings sorrow and pain and anger. But we experience it as observers, not as participants. As the president said, "This is a day of mourning for the Virginia Tech community -- and it is a day of sadness for our entire nation." Those who were there mourn, while we who look on have sadness, and sympathy, and grief but not in the manner of those involved.

So when I hear pundits and politicians claiming the tragedy for their own gain, to push their own agenda, to advance their own causes or careers, my response is, how dare you. How dare you use others' grief as a springboard to advance your agenda? How dare you steal the outpouring of goodwill that should flow to those in need, and redirect it to your pet projects, your political aspirations?

There will be a time to address the causes and responses to this tragedy, but not today, not while the bodies await burial. There will be a time to evaluate the response to the shootings, but not today, while the survivors lie in hospital beds. There will be a time to examine the motives of the murderer, but not today, while some families mourn and others sit in prayerful vigil. I thank our governor and president for reminding us that today is a time for unity of spirit.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I'm back again again.

I took a couple weeks off. We went away for easter vacation, and I decided to stay light on blogging for another week or so, although I did slip in a post or two.

I didn't feel like jumping back in this week due to the events in Blacksburg.

But now I'm back, even though today I note another gunman killed himself and a hostage at the Johnson Space Center in Texas. It's a sad world we live in where we think "good, only two people dead".

I'm still sick and tired of the incivility, and plan to take a more active role in marginalizing those who sour the political public discourse with a foul tongue or unsubstantiated personal attacks. It won't make me the popular blog, because people are drawn to childish, immature discussion. But I've never cared about that.

The lost art of civility

My column for last week, (april 12), addressed the Don Imus firing from the point of view of the collapse of civility in our discourse, as illustrated by Don Imus. Nowhere is this more obvious than the blogosphere, where good conservative bloggers who spoke to the issues have all given up and retired, to be replaced by cheap muckrakers looking for quick kills for hit counts.

Anyway, my column "The lost art of civility":

"A week of 'I can't believe you just said that'." That's how writer Robyn Disney of the Macon Telegraph described offensive comments muttered by radio host Don Imus about the Rutgers women's basketball team last week after their loss to the Tennessee Volunteers in the NCAA finals.

Imus created a stir on his morning radio/TV show with derogatory banter about the team. He started by saying "That's some rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos." He later called the Rutgers women "nappy-headed hos." Critics want Imus fired for his statements. He has been suspended for two weeks, but that may not be the end of his punishment.

Imus says worse things every day on his show. But there was something different about this attack. It wasn't the racial slurs, as offensive as that was. See, Imus generally attacks politicians and public figures, people in the spotlight who are used to the incivility that accompanies being "famous."

But this time, his target was not a controversial national figure, or some publicity hound that might be deserving of a smackdown. Instead, he attacked a team of women who did nothing but excel at their sport, earning the right to represent their school in a championship game. They deserved admiration and respect for their accomplishments. Imus instead insulted them for a cheap laugh.

Vivian Stringer, the Rutgers coach, said it best in a Tuesday news conference. "These young ladies before you are valedictorians, future doctors, musical prodigies … (they) are the best this nation has to offer ... They are young ladies of class, distinction. They are articulate. They are gifted." She called Imus' comments "deplorable, despicable, abominable and unconscionable."
We should not be surprised by his comments. Once we accept personal attacks on public figures, it's a small matter for incivility to spread to any person unfortunate enough to gain the attention of one of these purveyors of insult.

Why should any person be the target of public personal insult? Why for example is it acceptable to trash Britney Spears for her lack of parenting skills? We used to be ashamed to gossip if the object of our uncivil language heard us, but now we are more likely to shout louder to be sure we are heard.

I don't care if Imus is suspended or fired or made to walk the plank. His offense was not against me. His offense was against the dozen or so players on the Rutgers team, and they are the ones who have standing to demand apology, retribution, or compensation.

At the press conference, one player said "all of our accomplishments were lost, our moment was taken away" by the remarks. She shouldn't feel that way. Self-esteem comes from within, and you should not give others power over you by their words. The players know what they accomplished.

But frankly, the harm wasn't just in his words, but in the media coverage that followed. Nobody was asking these women's opinions about anything when they were "just" ball players. But after Imus made his comments, everybody wanted to know how they "felt" about it, giving his words power and demeaning the team's real accomplishments.

That's part of what drives our public incivility -- the attention it brings from the media. We are desensitized to bad-mouthing because it's "news." Nobody cares if someone says something nice, but if someone attacks, that's news.

A columnist recently complained about being subjected to a cell-phone conversation on a plane where the participant loudly used the "f-word." He wondered why a person would feel comfortable shouting such language in a public place, but more so why every other person on the plane seemed resigned to accept it. Maybe it's time we responded to incivility with righteous moral outrage.

We can't stop the incivility unless we act against it. We need to turn off the demeaning shows and write the newspapers and TV stations that we are tired of people saying bad things about others. We need to raise the level of public discourse beyond name-calling and onto substantive issues. We need to call out the perpetrators of incivility in a polite but firm way. We need to reclaim our public space for civility.

I wish I could remember what columnist wrote the story about the f-word passenger on the plane. He said some good things about civility that I'd love to post here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

How do we know crime rates if nobody reports them?

Just a short comment. A few weeks ago my daughter had her MP3 player stolen at school during after-school activity. Several other ipods, mp3s and phones were taken, along with a good sum of money.

Several of the children reported this immediately to the school. But apparently the school will do nothing. Since the school provides lockers (too small in the gym locker rooms for the full bags the children have to take home at the end of the day, but still lockers) I guess they figure since no school property was taken it's not their problem.

But so far as I can tell, NONE of the children were really informed that nothing would be done in a way that would make the children realise they should call the police and report the incident themselves. And the school certainly isn't encouraging them to do so.

So I guess, since nobody called the police and the school took no information, that it never really happened. There isn't a crime ring operating in the school, there's no black market for electronic toys, and everything is just hunky-dory.

I confess that I never thought to call the police until a couple weeks after, and I still haven't called. In fact, my suggestion was to try to contact a shady character and see if you could buy back the stuff on the black market. Go along to Get along, I guess. Sure someone should stand up to crime, but it'd be more satisfying to pay a "finders fee" for the "lost" item than have a dead-file case and pay retail for the item again.

A year and counting

Hey, I just noticed that I've been at this blog for over a year. It wasn't my first blog, although that one is barely alive anymore (it was my "official column blog" and never really took off).

According to the counter that I don't really trust, I've had 28,000 hits in this little over a year. I think someone is reading me way too much, but if the actual number is 1/10th that, I'm still glad to be doing better than Mel Gibson from the movie Conspiracy Theory.

Unlike some better-known bloggers, I'm not discouraged by my lack of visitors or mention in blog rankings (i note that when I put my blog name in with RK and NLS, I kick their butts, but only because the comparator uses "blogspot" rather than my blog).

And unlike one well-known blogger, I'm not threatening to take my ball and go home, nor do I intend to make it my goal in life to ruin the lives of smokers or those who think government has actual limits to it's power.

Thanks to both of you who read my rantings.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Faisal Gill draws over 100 supporters

As I said before, there were over 100 people at the Faisal Gill campaign kickoff, and plenty of food. The speeches were excellent.

I had heard there would be protesters. Some people who claim Faisal and his supporters are terrorists were going to show up and picket his event. So, I took pictures of the protesters, as you can see here:

Oh well. Maybe next time.

Bill Bolling noted the impressive size of the crowd, and congratulated Faisal for getting so many people out for his kickoff. He talked briefly about all the candidates for office, and then spoke directly about Faisal. He opened by noting that he was not there to be against the other candidate, and said we had two excellent candidates. I appreciated that, and wish we could all adopt the attitude of speaking FOR our candidates instead of trashing the opponents.

Then he endorsed Faisal. He said why he felt so strongly about Faisal. He noted that Faisal is not a politician, but is a family man. We need people who understand the pressure that families are under, good schools, safe streets, and low taxes - and Faisal understands those concerns.

He called Faisal a Patriot, noting his service both in the Navy and in the department of Homeland Security. He notes that Faisal can reach out to different parts of our community, different ethnic groups, but he is first and foremost a patriot and an American.

He told us Faisal Gill is a true-blue conservative, the kind we need in Richmond. Calling Faisal a fiscal conservative, Bill said Gill understands the need to keep government small and focused, to keep taxes low, and to create a pro-business environment. Faisal understands the importance of individual rights. Bill also called Faisal a social conservative, who is pro-life, and pro-2nd-amendment.

But most importantly, Bill Bolling said Faisal Gill was his friend. He spoke of how Faisal stood by him during his campaign, noting there were only a few people who were with him from the beginning, and Faisal was one of his strongest allies. All the endorsers made this same comment about their friendship with Gill and his hardworking commitment to them when they needed him.
Ken Cuccinelli spoke next, He told of how Faisal worked tirelessly to help Ken win his election, crediting Faisal for his victory. Ken then noted to his common ground with Faisal on smaller government, which means less regulations and less taxes. Ken talked about 2nd amendment issues, the right to bear arms as an individual right. Ken asked us to support Faisal to help Scott and Ken protect our constitutional rights. He spoke of the unborn, and Faisal's strong pro-life credentials. He closed by saying
"those are fights that aren't going away. Fights for the unborn, fights to protect our constitutional rights, and to reign in government. That is a constant battle. It always wants to grow, it always wants to invade your life, and it always will, unless you elect people like Faisal Gill to reign in that monster that is government".

After Ken's speech, Corey introduced Scott Lingamfelter. He good-naturedly questioned why Faisal would choose to follow Scott, calling him a hard act to follow.

Scott gave a great, rousing speech, which I won't excerpt for a while, because I'm taking a break.

But I was most impressed by Faisal Gill himself. I didn't know what to expect, having only heard him in short speeches at the committee meetings. This guy can speak. He is forceful, clear, and speaks with conviction on the issues that are important to our community.

And listening to Gill, it is clear he won't back down when he gets to Richmond and the influence of the "good old boys". It's one thing to be able to voice the correct positions on issues. It's another to have displayed the conviction and determination to fight for what you believe in when others are fighting back, as Gill demonstrated in his debate on the Marriage Amendment in Fairfax last fall. I note Gill stood strong in the face of false allegations of wrongdoing in 2004 as well, when a lesser man might have quit, he stood his ground and cleared his name before he would leave for private practice.

Faisal touched on a broad range of issues during his 20+ minute speech. He did so with few notes. He moved well, he spoke directly and convincingly. His positions on most issues were strongly conservative, and showed a commitment to doing the right thing for the district.

Again, I'll post highlights of the speech at a future date, as I am tired and will be taking a break to get away from the scurrilous charges of people which I feel are dragging me down to their level.

It was informative listening to Bill Bolling, Ken Cucinnelli, and Scott Lingamfelter delivering long and heartfelt endorsements of Faisal Gill, both as people who support his policies and philosophy, but also as friends who vouch for his impeccable character and fine services to our country both in civilian and military capacities.

If you live in this district, I urge you to pay close attention to Faisal, and if you like what you see and hear, to sign up to be a convention delegate for Faisal Gill, a man who would be a fine representative for the 51st district.