Filed under: Election 2008, Local Press | Tags: Election 2008, Shenandoah Valley Herald, Virginia Organizing Project
The Freedom of Press is one of our most precious freedoms. However, the press should never be mistaken to be wholly objective. Coverage can be driven by many things, from the political biases of the report or editor to the particular medium’s heaviest advertisers. More often than not its driven by a good story, and the subjects always play into that to get the most favorable coverage. What this can mean is that not all sides of a particular group, good or bad or indifferent, are presented to the public. This is one of the great things about the new medium of blogging. By being incredibly easy and cheap (more often than not free) blogging allows ordinary citizens to counter the predominant media narrative on a given story.
That’s why I felt compelled to write about the Shenandoah Valley Hearld’s coverage of the Virginia Organizing Project.
“We will be asking people throughout the Commonwealth what issues are important to them,” said Janice “Jay” Johnson, chairperson of the Virginia Organizing Project (VOP). “We will also ask them how important health care reform is to them, encouraging all the people we meet to contact their state Delegate and state Senator with their ideas on how to reform our broken health care system.”
Yates, who lives in Mauertown, is one of VOP’s ten regional organizers.
“We’re excited about getting more young people involved and knowing that they’re going to learn important democratic skills,” Yates said. “Youth are key to solving problems in our communities. They bring lots of energy to the process.” In Shenandoah County, Yates said that affordable healthcare and affordable housing are two of the main issues that they’ve been spending the most effort on lately.
The Voter Guide contains information about how to register to vote, how to regain voting rights after a felony conviction, and how to cast an absentee ballot. The Voter Guide also includes a summary of a dozen important public policy issues, ranging from climate change to racial profiling to redistricting.
Of those who were at home, in their conversations, almost all of the Edinburg residents the interns spoke agreed that affordable healthcare and housing are major problems here in the Valley, along with the high price of filling up their gas tanks.
Sounds great, right? A bunch of young people canvassing people to register to vote, and a group that deals with issues that have become of great concern to local families. What could be more ideal?
Well, the reality is that there’s few groups out there that simply want people to go out and vote. Even the American Legion and the League of Women Voters, though non-partisan, have particular views on given issues of the day. And why is this such a bad thing? I would love to live in a world of 100% voter turnout and encourage everyone to vote and let their voice be heard. But I’m also in politics for a reason: to see my principles and values come to fruition through government action. And this involves making sure that my people come out to vote. Both parties engage in massive voter registration drives that target their ideal voters. As long as there’s a balance, this isn’t a bad thing.
But we shouldn’t mistake the Virginia Organizing Project‘s agenda. Although we’re all concerned with health care and gas prices, they have specific prescriptions for these and other of societies ills: progressive taxation (a cornerstone of Marxism), a living wage (which goes far beyond the minimum wage, calling for the minimum to be an amount that everyone can live off of, ignoring that most minimum wage workers are retired or of school-age), the abolition of the death penalty, severe government restrictions on health care coverage (although they seem to stop short of calling directly for universal health care), and gay marriage. They’re also one of the groups working with Governor Kaine’s office to expedite petitions for the reinstatement of voting right. Here’s some highlights of other issues they’ve covered in their newsmagazine:
- “Hurting immigrants won’t fix the immigration system .”
- ““Marriage” Amendment campaign builds the equality movement in Virginia .”
- VOP urges NO vote on amendment #1 on November 7
- A Senator vs. Civil Liberty
- No executions in Virginia in 2005!
Clearly, they have an agenda on the left side of the political spectrum. Their staff also seems to have its fair share of left-wing credentials.
The Virginia Organizing Project, of course, has the right to keep doing what they’re doing and should be applauded for, if nothing else, their civic-mindedness and desire to forward their particular values. But you also have a right to know about their whole agenda.
(Edited for length)
Filed under: General Assembly | Tags: Crime, General Assembly, Law and Order, Todd Gilbert
Given his record as a true expert on criminal law and an advocate for prosecutors and law enforcement, Delegate Gilbert may have a claim on the title of “Sheriff of the General Assembly” (if only because Glenn Weatherholtz, the GA’s only actual sheriff, retired in 2005). Three laws the Delegate sponsored this session go into effect tomorrow (July 1st being the end of the Commonwealth’s fiscal year and the date on which almost all of Virginia’s legislation goes into effect). From the press release:
No bail for illegal alien criminals—Persons illegally present in the United States who commit serious crimes in the Commonwealth of Virginia will be presumed to be ineligible for release on bail pending their trials. No longer will such criminals be routinely put back into the community to pose a further threat to public safety and to be at risk to flee from prosecution. This measure, first conceived and offered by Delegate Gilbert in the 2007 session of the General Assembly, was adopted by House and Senate leaders as part of the 2008 Republican legislative package on illegal immigration. Mandatory minimum sentences for methamphetamine dealers—Higher level dealers of the dangerous and highly addictive drug methamphetamine will face mandatory, minimum prison sentences, even for first-time offenders (at least three years for selling one ounce and at least five years for half a pound or more). This bill co-sponsored by Senator Mark Obenshain was the only new criminal law funded in the cash-strapped 2008-09 budget in order to provide for the fiscal impact of the potential increase in prison populations. Elimination of parole loophole—Misdemeanor offenders sentenced to more than twelve months in jail for multiple misdemeanors will no longer be eligible for early release. Delegate Gilbert’s bill closed this loophole which eliminates the last vestiges of Virginia’s once liberal parole calculations which ensured that prisoners served only a fraction of their sentences before parole was abolished for felonies in 1995. Under the now closed loophole, many prisoners sentenced to serve more than twelve months in jail on multiple misdemeanors were actually serving less time than prisoners sentenced to less than twelve months.
In typical Gilbert fashion, Todd had this to say about some of his more liberal minded “colleagues:”
“Many members of the General Assembly quickly find those areas in the legislative arena where they can best contribute. As a career Virginia prosecutor, I found that being the ‘tough on crime’ delegate is a perfect role. I am pleased to sponsor strict measures aimed at those who break the law. I am also proud to stand in the gap against my colleagues who would routinely weaken our criminal laws and vote to shorten prison sentences. I hope these new laws will go a long way toward making not only my constituents safer, but the people of Virginia as well.”
Speaker Howell also had praise for the abilities of the sophomore legislator:
“Todd Gilbert is a hard-working, no-nonsense and highly effective delegate. On many important issues, Todd is out front making necessary improvements — nowhere more so than criminal justice and public safety. Because of his active leadership for law-abiding citizens and against criminals, Virginia will be a safer place to live, work and raise a family.”
Perhaps some day soon we could seen the Delegate from Shenandoah heading up the Courts of Justice Committee (which supposedly handles more legislation than any other committee at the General Assembly)? Or perhaps we could see Gilbert in an office with a higher profile.
Tragedy came again to the Shenandoah County Government Center when it was learned that Jeff Aimonetti, Sixth District Member and Chairman of the Planning Commission, passed away over the weekend after collapsing during a basketball game held in conjunction with a Senior Olympics Event in Charleston. Early media reports indicate that the cause was a massive heart attack. Mr. Aimonetti was the brother-in-law of Strasburg Town Councilman Scott Terndrup and the father of Jeff Aimonetti Jr, a Voting Member for the Edinburg Precinct on the SCRC.
I only had the chance to see Mr. Aimonetti in action a few times, but he seemed to be extremely fair and judicious as chairman, not one to court controversy, and extremely interested and knowledgeable on an area of government that can be extremely nuance and difficult to understand.
The Aimonetti Family has the Committee’s deepest condolences for their untimely loss. We will be sure to provide you with details on arrangements as they become available.
UPDATE: The Northern Virginia Daily has done an excellent job with their article looking back on the commissioner.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete as of this morning.
Weigh in with your memories in the comments below.
Filed under: Election 2008 | Tags: Barack Obama, Election 2008, John McCain, Polling
Obama has maintained his slight lead in Virginia since the last time we took a look (in the first edition of Stampede!), with Obama at 49%, with McCain trailing at 47%. Still within the margin of error and still under 50%, but just 4% find themselves undecided at this point, an unusually low number at this point in the campaign.
Some other interesting numbers:
- McCain is still polling over 25% of African-Americans, indicating that perhaps Obama is having some problems connecting with those in the Black community who have more conservative views on faith, abortion, and gay marriage.
- Currently Obama has only 79% of Virginia Democrats behind him, versus 86% of Republicans throwing in behind McCain
- 51% of Virginias attended Church Services regularly, and amongst these voters McCain has a 13 point lead
- The poll found that 43% of Virginians described themselves as Democrats, versus 31% for us and 23% independent. Expect this finding to be heavily scrutinized across the blogosphere
- McCain maintains a solid lead in the Shenandoah region at 61%. President Bush got 63% last time in the Sixth (and the Shenandoah region for SurveyUSA extends beyond the 6th), but 4% remain undecided
All in all, a little disappointing, but there remains alot of room for movement. Additionally, there’s some questionable findings elsewhere in the poll and this thing is under the margin of error, so essentially, Virginia remains firmly in toss-up territory.
Which makes it all the more important that we get cracking on our phone banks and walking. In Virginia individuals do not register by party, so the only way outside of ids from primaries (and they see very low turnout) to get a clear of id of who’s who is to ask the people. Always a difficult endeavor, but it’s the only way, plus with the intensity of the race, people have opinions and are willing to talk.
Anyone interested in phone banking can join us July 9th at United Country Real Estate on July 9th. If that doesn’t fit into your schedule, please let me know. I have call sheets rip roaring ready to go.
Craig Orndorff (firstname.lastname@example.org) (540) 436-3530
It was announced late last week that President Bush will be attending the annual Independence Day and Naturalization Ceremony at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, of course, is a giant in American history, constantly being reconsidered, his genius just as much apparent as his personal foibles and character flaws. Still, it was Jefferson who gave voice to the multitude of concerns which drove the people of America to found a new country, a new way unlike anything the world had ever seen. A nation founded on the principle of being a free state for all men. It took over 200 years, but we’re closer to Jefferson’s dream than ever before.
President Bush will celebrate those principles on the last Fourth of July of his second term, but he will also welcome into our society men and women who took the difficult step of leaving their homelands to become a part of the American dream. Despite the recent hub bub over immigration, these people should be honored for wishing to become part of this dream and taking the proper steps to do so.
This ceremony has special importance for me. One, as a UVA Grad, I have the typical Jefferson obsession, but I also work at a home which was heavily influenced by Jefferson’s architectural style. Additionally, I have seen President Bush before. I was in the front row of an event held at NOVA Community College in 2004. The theme was “The Ownership Society,” and one of the topics was personal health accounts. I was just feet away from the man throughout the whole thing, and he passed us by as he exited. I did not get to shake his hand, but throughout the whole ceremony, I felt genuinely secure. Right or wrong, President Bush took the action that he thought would protect the American people. It has to be incredibly trying to decide to send American sons to war.
But at any rate, as we exited the townhall, there was a couple arguing with some young protesters on bikes just outside the hall. A typical scene, but there was something very special about this couple: they were recent African immigrants, dressed in their native attire. They had made their own difficult decision, had seen in the American dream the chance (the chance is all that matters) at a better life and they took it. They became fully invested in America, involving themselves in the process of electing a President. And here they were, defending their men against some privileged liberals who had the great fortune of being born in America in the first place. It was an incredible scene that will stick with me always.
Information is forthcoming, but right now the President is scheduled to speak at Monticello at 10 A.M. The press release can be found here. I will update the post when more information is available and put this on the website calendar.
With the time, you may be able to make the event (Charlottesville is a half hour drive) and still be back in time for the Parade in New Market. If anyone has any interest in perhaps taking a caravan down, let me know at email@example.com.
Filed under: General Assembly | Tags: Gas prices, General Assembly, Mark Obenshain, Special Session, Todd Gilbert, Transportation, Video
for the last few days, anyways.
Sorry for not being able to keep on top of the transportation session. But here’s what we’ve got:
*Governor Kaine’s plan is dead for the time being. The people of Virginia have dodged a major bullet here-however, it wasn’t long before the Senate Democrats decided to switch to a larger caliber. Here’s their plan:
- Increase the general sales tax a quarter of a percent
- Increase the sales tax on automobiles half a percent
- and the grand finale–Increase the gas tax six cents over the next six years
Another part of the plan would reverse the hard won legislation for earlier this year that removed VDOT’s authority to impose tolls on I-81 without the General Assembly’s authority. In Thursday’s Northern Virginia Daily, State Senator Mark Obenshain took a particularly hard line on this part of the plan.
But Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, said he was concerned that one portion of the bill would return authority to impose tolls on Interstate 81 to the Commonwealth Transportation Board.
Legislators approved a measure earlier this year putting the valley’s major thoroughfare off-limits for tolls for any reason unless the General Assembly specifically agreed.
But Saslaw’s bill “seems to state the intent of the GA to give the CTB that authority to impose those tolls on Interstate 81 for additional lanes that are constructed,” Obenshain said, speaking from the floor of the Senate.
The House Rules Committee voted Friday to send this bill to the House for a full vote. Delegate Gilbert gave us a sneak peek of which way he’s leaning on the measure:
“What the Democrats did in the Senate today was, in my mind, unconscionable,” said Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Woodstock. “It was in complete disregard for the plight of working Virginians.
“To ask people at a time like this to pay more for gas demonstrates that Senate Democrats really have a tin ear about the everyday needs of their constituents,” Gilbert said.
A bright spot of the Committee’s action was to move forward a measure from Delegate Chris Saxman that would dedicate royalties and revenues from off-shore drilling off the Commonwealth’s coasts to transportation. According to SWAC Girl, that amount may be as much as $200 million over the next five decades. Bob Goodlatte, of course, has been championing this on the national level over the last few weeks. Even Newt Gingrich has been touting this through his group American Solutions, and as mentioned the potential of the Virginia bill:
Go here to sign Newt Gingrich’s petition.
And go here to sign the county party’s petition to say “no thanks” to the Senate Democratic plan. Be sure to contact Mark and Todd until the General Assembly goes back into session on July 9th. Their contact information can be found here.
H/T to Suzanne Curran of American Solutions.
Filed under: Election 2008 | Tags: 2008, Barack Obama, Liberals, Presidential Election
before he falls off the edge?
I’m writing, of course, about presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Barrack Obama. For nearly twelve years, Hillary Clinton has been one of the predominant faces of American liberalism. There have, however, long been far more liberal voices in the Democratic party, and they grew restless with what they saw as a too moderate approach to governing by the Clintonistas (what, they weren’t satisfied with the Assault Weapons Ban and two of the most liberal members of the Supreme Court?). However, they never had a true voice, someone that could carry them to the White House……
until now. Barrack Obama has proved himself to be firmly on the left end of the spectrum. Perhaps not a leftist per se, but on every major political issue of our time Barrack Obama is on the farthest left end of the spectrum one can go and still be a member of the Democratic party. Of course, some of his supporters are less bashful about their views.
However, VA Patriot lays out the case for Obama being perhaps more explicitly Marxist than he’d wish to be seen. It’s a real eye opener for anyone considering which way to go in this election.
If these aren’t your views, be sure to join us every other Wednesday (the next time on July 9th) for Bob Goodlatte’s phone banks at United Country Real Estate in Mount Jackson, or donate to John McCain’s campaign.