Federal money UPDATED

So I was looking to write a piece on fundraising for Virginia ‘06 federal races, and I noticed that the last report was filed Sept-05. I assume the next report is due on the 1st if January. Does anyone know the law?

Nothing much interesting to report from the Sept-05 report:

In the 2nd, Farlow (D) and Ashe (D) haven’t raised much.

In the 8th, no Democrats have filed reports recently. Looks like Jonathan Mark won’t get his wish.

And in the 11th, Andy Hurst and Ken Longmeyer have raised meager sums as of Sept-05. I ran into Hurst at an event a while back and he had hired a fundraiser. So we’ll see how that’s going when the January report comes out. I also know that Hurst has some loyal followers.

Update: According to NLS, It looks like Thelma Drake will be challenged by Virginia Beach Commissioner of Revenue Phil Kellam. He currently rates the primary “Likely Kellam” and the general election “Slight-lean Republican”. We’ll be watching this one…

Chamber controversy

The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce ruffled some of it’s own feathers by endorsing Kilgore a couple of months ago. The Washington Post covers the controversy: Kilgore Endorsement Falls Flat in Fairfax.

Various members of the Chamber (posting anonymously) argue the significance of the Post article on the new Chamber Blog, Policy Soup. I can’t say I disagree that the Post article had an agenda…

The most interesting thing about the article is the following (unrelated) tid bit:

There was also concern that Republican partisans among the PAC trustees put party loyalty over the best interests of the chamber. Former chamber lobbyist Nancy Reed avoided partisan ties, while her replacement, Jason A. Flanary, has worked for Republicans on Capitol Hill and in Richmond. Government affairs coordinator Paul V. Tyahla worked for the National Republican Congressional Committee before joining the chamber staff.

I’ve heard Flanary’s name mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for HoD. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think he lives in Delegate-Elect Chuck Caputo’s district.

I’ve also heard that Chuck doesn’t want to run again (although I’m sure he’ll run in ‘07 if unopposed). It’s a long time between now and 2 months from now when people need to start raising money. So who knows. Oh wait…

Email of the day

“Virginia Centrist:

What should we do in Iraq? What’s your position?”

Well imaginary email person, I favor staying the course for a few more years until (1) the job is done (a stable semi-Democracy exists) or (2) the Iraqis have the means (political [2a] and/or military [2b]) to kick us out/ask us to leave.

Since most people would agree that there is a low chance of (1) actually occurring, I’ll address the probability of (2a and 2b).

2a: The day the Iraqi public turns against us in a large and measurable way (whether that be legislative decrees or huge nationwide street protests) it will be time to leave. At that point, we will be an unwanted occupier (I’d argue that we aren’t quite to that level today, since a great majority of the Iraqi government supports us. The Kurdish region and many Shiite reegions support us as well). However, the very fact that Iraq was able to show this kind of political unity could be good for their future. If a unified political coalition demanded our withdrawal, and we complied, this would probably give that coalition popular legitimacy. I imagine that, as the Iraqis train more and more soldiers and withdrawal becomes a real possibility, opportunistic Iraqi politicians will begin to clamor for the opportunity to be the “hero that gave America the boot and saved Iraq!” America should let this happen. It’s in our interests.

2b: Should the insurgency grow to a size that allows them to start inflicting larger numbers of casualties on our troops (today’s number is significant, but very small), then it’s simple: we lose, we go home.

I’d hate to lose. I’m not sure what “message” that would send the terrorists (Dick Cheney tends to spend his days and nights worrying about how the terrorists will interpret our actions). Maybe the message would be: “If the Americans invade a Muslim country, we must organize a resistance to blow as many of them up as possible. Then they will leave! Muhahahaha!” I don’t know. But I don’t mind sending them that message, since (a) the terrorists already knew that this was an effective strategy and (b) I doubt we’ll be invading any Muslim countries in the near future.

I hate to end this post without addressing the “withdraw now” or “timetable” arguments. I’ll address the serious “withdraw now” argument, (pull out most troops over a 6 month period, ala John Murtha) not the crazy “withdraw now” argument (pull out troops in 5 minutes, establish Department of Peace, send Bush to Hague, arrest all oil company CEOs who try to make a profit, name child “Moonbeam”).

John Murtha’s point is that if we’re doing more harm than good in Iraq, we’d might as well pull out. This is based on the theory that the presence of our soldiers (as an unwanted occupying force) flares up more violence than the presence of our soldiers (as a policing force) prevents. I’m skeptical about this. If we weren’t there, I still think you’d have violence - just a different kind, between factions instead of between insurgents and US troops.

As far as timetables go - I really don’t see the point, other than to judge our progress. Maybe that’s not a bad reason to set loose amendable timetables. If Bush announces, “We will remove 50,000 troops by January of 2006 and replace those troops with homegrown Iraqi forces”, this will put pressure on the US military to actually accomplish this worthy goal. The public will then demand that our leaders either accomplish their stated goal, or face harsh scrutiny. Sounds reasonable enough for me.

Blogs weigh in on the clemency decision

The most interesting are the contrarian opinions - Jaded JD, Will Vehrs, Jim Bacon, Chad Dotson, I. Publius, and James Young all agreed with Governor Warner’s decision.

Meanwhile, the only people I’ve seen who seem to disagree are Walt Ball and Too Conservative.

Meanwhile, Atomopawn enters the following comment:

On the other hand, there is a time and a place for executions. While Haru is right that “it’s better for a thousand to go free than one innocent to be executed” it’s not THAT much better. Justice and punishment go hand in hand. If we stop killing criminals altogether, crime WILL increase. [my emphasis added]

Will it? I support the death penalty, because I don’t really care if murderers are put to death. Why the heck not, I say?

But can anyone really tell me how “crime WILL increase” if the death penalty is abolished? The common arguments for deterrance:

1. Fear - Since the death penalty is only used on really violent murders, here’s the logic we have to use: The death penalty instills fear in potential criminals who would have murdered someone and then mutilated them if the penalty was only life in prison and constant rapings from inmates, but they reconsidered and murdered someone in a less distasteful manner (maybe with pills or with a gun from really far away), because death is worse than constant rapings.
2. Societal norms - If the government establishes a death penalty as an ultimate penalty for the worst of all crimes, this tells everyone that “Society will not tolerate murder!” This “ultimate moral” is instilled in the subconscious every child in states that have the death penalty (citizens who grow up in states without the death penalty tend to still believe that murder is bad, but their negative opinion of murder is not quite as strongly held as people who grow up in states with the death penalty). That’s why states without the death penalty have more murders than states that…wait…there are no stats to back that assertion up…

Anyway, like I said, my support for the death penalty could be best summed up as “well sure…why the heck not?” But when someone’s guilt is even slightly in question, I’m certainly going to support clemency.

PS: The death penalty was strengthened today, not weakened, as some have asserted.

Guest worker plan revived

Look at what Bush has in store for the lawbreakers ™

[Bush] said that an integral part of dealing with immigration is his proposal to create a guest-worker program that would grant temporary work visas to undocumented immigrants already in the country. Bush’s plan would give such workers three-year visas, renewable for an additional three years, after which they’d have to return home to apply for legal immigration.

“We will not be able to effectively enforce our immigration laws until we create a temporary-worker program,” Bush said.

This is the one proposal that, quite honestly, has the potential to push Bush’s approval ratings down to zero percent (by angering the Republican base). I didn’t think it was possible for Bush to get any lower, but maybe it is. If he asserts himself and steps up to bat for this guest worker plan AND immigration becomes a big issue during the ‘06 midterms, then I wouldn’t be surprised if Bush’s approval numbers hit 20-25%.

How could Bush possibly be so tone deaf? Is he that far into the pockets of big business (as my far left friends often assert) that he’ll commit political suicide in an attempt to keep the supply of cheap labor flowing?

More on Tom Davis

Look, I agree with Tom Davis on most stuff. He’s a pretty moderate guy and he seems like an decent Congressman.

But when I see a blog defend the two dumbest things he’s done in the past year (sticking his nose into the Schaivo and the Vienna Metro controversies), I can’t resist myself (dumb thing #3 was the baseball hearings).

In the case of Schaivo, Davis was grandstanding in order to build credit with the Republican base in Virginia for a future run for statewide office. He was doing little else…I don’t know Tom Davis, and I haven’t spoken to him on the matter, but I’m almost 99% sure that, in his heart, he didn’t favor Congressional intervention in the Schaivo case (like 80% of Americans). He raised a stink because he wanted to boost his conservative credentials. Political opportunism - and with a vegetable!

You see, Tom Davis knows that he doesn’t have a chance in hell with the fire breathing Republican base downstate. So he’s making a few plays towards them through occasional crazy behavior. The only question is - what will he do next?

Tom Davis Fan Club chimes in on Metro West proposal

I found this Too Conservative post hilarious:

Don’t New York Fairfax

Heard the slogan don’t Fairfax Loudoun? How about don’t New York Fairfax.

The plan to build the Fairlee/Metro West mini-city is continuing on its path to passage, as an editorial in the Examiner discusses.

Chairman Gerry Connolly, and Lee Supervisor Dana Kauffman have voiced support , but formal talks will not come until February 8th.

Clearly they’re carrying water for Tom Davis here…

But who is Tom Davis carrying water for? The answer: himself!

Last April, Davis used his powerful Congressional position to “intervene in a contentious local issue by proposing legislation to scale back a massive development planned next to the Vienna Metro station, a project he acknowledges is near his own neighborhood.” [Washington Post].

Dense development within walking distance of a Metro station? Encouraging people to walk to and from a pedestrian means of transit? That would make too much sense. Not in Tom Davis’ Back Yard!

Even more amusing is the DC Examiner’s argument against dense development within walking distance of a Metro Station:

For many longtime residents, Fairfax County’s leafy suburban streets - located just 16 miles from Washington, D.C. - offer welcome respite from city crowds and urban grit. But that may soon be changing dramatically. Economic and demographic pressures are threatening to transform parts of the county into high-density mini-cities almost right before their eyes.

An editorial about density that mentions demographic pressures? What could they be alluding to?

I’ll let my clever readers think that one through…

Bill Leighty

Read this: Barney Day presides over the Bill Leighty lovefest.

Bill Leighty is a funny guy.

The Magical Surplus Part I

I’m starting a series of posts called “The Magical Surplus”. In these posts, which will run through the end of the GA session, will cover lawmakers plans to deal with the huge surplus this year. This will be one of many continuing series.

There are many options. I’ll rank them in order of likelihood:

1. Pretend like the surplus isn’t a surplus. Rather, it’s just another chunk of revenue to be spent. Create government programs and long term spending initiatives.
2. Pass some one time spending initiatives.
3. Pass some one time tax refunds.
4. Pass some long term tax cuts.

Of course, we’ll get into specifics as the year goes on. Right now, it’s a good bet that a large chunk of that money will go to one time spending on the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup and Transportation (both have bipartisan support). I’d hope that at least 1/4 of the money goes into the Rainy Day Fund, and at least 1/4 goes into a one time tax refund.

If GA insists on passing long term tax cuts (not likely with Chichester the chair of the Senate Finance Committee), then I would favor the following tax changes:

1. Updating the tax code. Right now it looks like it’s inflation adjusted to 1935 dollars. The top bracket for individuals is $17k (at a 5.75% rate). In essence, we have a flat tax in Virginia right now, because most working people who make under $17k are eligible for the Virginia EITC anyway, which cancels out their taxes. I haven’t decided what I think we should do here (I’d like it to be a tax cut or revenue neutral), but I’m thinking about it…any ideas?
2. Getting rid of the BPOL tax. This is an outdated tax that taxes business revenue (not profits).
3. Exempting small farms from the state tax (getting rid of the “sprawl tax” that encourages small farmers to sell out to developers instead of passing their land down) but KEEPING THE ESTATE TAX ON RICH PEOPLE.
4. Enacting some sort of tax relief for seniors on their property taxes. I don’t really know how to do this without creating another Gilmore style state expenditure to the localities…but I really don’t like the fact that elderly people are being forced to sell their homes.

Random questions that I’ll be focusing on:

1. How are UVA, W&M, and VT’s revenue streams looking after the quasi-Charter School thing was enacted? Will tuition rise?
2. What will Chichester do? Will Kaine back him or back away?
3. What will the House GOP do? Will they keep their Caucus together or will we see another group break off and work with the Senate?
4. What will Tim Kaine’s proposals look like? Will he push new programs (like the pre-school program) or will he figure that they are DOA in the Republican controlled GA?
5. How many “fiscal conservatives” will vote to spend spend spend that surplus?

This is really the first time I’ve blogged during a GA session, so it’s a new experience for me. We’ll see how it goes. I can’t wait for the session to start.

More candidate speculation

I think it’s time for the Democrats to start promoting Steve Shannon for statewide office. He has crossover appeal (he ran well ahead of Kaine in his district) and he’s a good Democrat. Any takers? I also think Leslie Byrne should run against Tom Davis…I think she’d give him a run for his money. Although I’ve heard she doesn’t want to run again… And finally - I’ll take James Webb against George Allen this year. I’m not sure whether he can self-finance - but that would be helpful. My comma key isn’t working…