Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Controversy Over the UAE and Ports

Just a couple of quick observations on this issue, because I really don't know how I come out on it.

1. The entire controversy is late. Our wonderful so-called "mainstream" media was hunting Dick Cheney when this issue first arose, and are paying attention to the issue late.

2. That Jimmy Carter and the Washington Post support the President's position on this issue gives me pause.

3. Not John Behan at Commonwealth Watch has a good post here.

4. There are pros and cons on both sides. On the one hand, Arab companies deserve more scrutiny. Not all Arabs are terrorists, but all of the 9/11 terrorists were Arabs. At the same time, most of the commentary that I've heard on the issue sounds a lot like reflexive --- dare I say it? --- racism. Many commentators are speaking to their "feeling" about the issue, without any specifics.

The bottom line, I suppose, is that the President can make a case on this, and should. While I respect his desire to entrust the decision to good people that he supports, this initial and well-intentioned reaction is untenable given the growing firestorm. The fact is, as Not John Behan notes, that Americans trust the President on security issues more than they trust virtually anyone that the Democrats can put forward. But that trust isn't reflexive in the face of legitimate security questions over what many recognize as our most vulnerable point of entry into the United States.

A Sign of the Impending Apocalypse?

Just spent a weekend visiting the family in Central Pennsylvania, so this may have something to do with this:

Does anyone else out there find themselves strangely drawn to the Olympic Curling competition on USA Network?

Apparently so. I heard a report the other day that said that the United States' association's website had more hits on one day last week than it had during all of 2002.

Analysis of PWC GOP Committee Membership

One of the raps on Conservatives from self-styled moderates/"Group A"-types (tip o' the hat to TC)/Sean-Connaughton-cult-of-personality types in the blogosphere has been the "declining membership" of the Prince William County Republican Committee. Bert Buscher put together and e-mailed an analysis a few days ago (I've interposed it now that I have his permission to do so):

I have been troubled by the PWCRC membership losses. So I decided to quantify what those losses were. Attached is the result of my study.

My study’s conclusions are:

  • At least 60% of our membership, 200 members, has been lost from August 2004 to February 2006, an 18 month time period. (See Table 1).
  • Actions to correct the loss of members should been taken no later than the summer of 2005. This implies that there is not a membership monitoring process or a control process for signaling this problem.

Over a week ago I shared the results of my documentation with Bob FitzSimmonds, PWCRC Membership Chairman, and via Bob with Brian Murphy, PWCRC Chairman. By telephone, I have talked to both of them. They are not being blind sided by the distribution of my study.

Also, by contacting them I was insuring that I had not missed something or should have taken something else into consideration. Bob FitzSimmonds raised an excellent point that PWCRC had an influx of members at the May 2004 meeting who did not attend membership meetings after that. These non-dedicated members were quickly dropped from the membership rolls by missing 3 consecutive membership meetings. Table 2 of the study takes this phenomenon into account.

By distributing this study I hope to trigger corrective actions for PWCRC’s shrinking membership problem.


Bert Buscher

Republican Chairman of the Gainesville Magisterial District of PWC

Here's the Study (I hope the tables translate):

Prince William County Republican Committee
August 2004 to February 2006
Membership Study

PWCRC membership totals over an 18-month period are provided by this study. The membership data sources are the MS Excel membership files that are e-mailed at irregular intervals to the Republican Chairmen of the PWC Magisterial Districts. The tables’ “Cumulative Change” columns document the membership count changes from August 2, 2004.

Assumptions concerning member counts have been made. These assumptions are explained in the “Assumptions Made in this Study” section.

The study’s conclusions are:
At least 60% of our membership, 200 members, has been lost from August 2004 to February 2006, an 18 month time period. (See Table 1).
Actions to correct the loss of members should been taken no later than the summer of 2005. This implies that there is not a membership monitoring process or a control process for signaling this problem.
This study is not an analysis of membership changes. It simply documents membership totals over an 18-month time period.

What follows are 2 table sections, assumptions made section, and a conclusion section.

Actual Membership Change
PWCRC has lost at least 60% or 200 members in the past 18 months, from August 2004 to February 2006. Table 1 documents how much and when these losses occurred.

PWCRC Membership Totals from August 2004 to February 2006
Cumulative Change
File Received Date Member Count Change from Prior File Member Count Percentage
August 2, 2004 333
November 19, 2004 285 -48 -48 -14.41%
March 28, 2005 209 -76 -124 -37.24%
May 1, 2005 171 -38 -162 -48.65%
January 23, 2006 140 -31 -193 -57.96%
February 2006 133 -7 -200 -60.06%
Table 1 – Actual Membership Count

Adjusted Membership Change
Table 2 is Table 1 with an adjusted August 2, 2004 member count. The 50 non-dedicated PWCRC member count was subtracted from this member count of 333 to give a count of 283. PWCRC has lost at least 150 dedicated members during an 18-month period, 53% of its dedicated membership.

PWCRC Membership Totals from August 2004 to February 2006
Cumulative Change
File Received Date Member Count Change from Prior File Member Count Percentage
August 2, 2004 283
November 19, 2004 285 2 2 0.71%
March 28, 2005 209 -76 -74 -26.15%
May 1, 2005 171 -38 -112 -39.58%
January 23, 2006 140 -31 -143 -50.53%
February 2006 133 -7 -150 -53.00%
Table 2 – Adjusted Membership Count

Assumptions Made in this Study
Tables 1 and 2 – February 2006 Assumption
Members who miss 3 consecutive PWCRC meetings are dropped from membership. There were 28 members on the drop list for the January 23, 2006 PWCRC membership meeting. If they did not attend this meeting, then they would be dropped from membership. At this time the number of members dropped after this meeting has not yet been determined. Assuming that ¼ of these 28 members did not attend, then 7 members would have been dropped after this meeting.

The February 2006 count reflects the 7 members assumed lost. Given the prior membership loss experience, this assumption is extremely conservative. Note that a more realistic 21 member loss would be a total membership loss of 64% in Table 1 and 58% in Table 2.

With the conservative assumption of 7 members dropped, the actual losses should be worst than shown in the tables. The tables give “At Least” losses for February 2006.

Tables 2 Assumption
There was an unusual turnover in 2004 membership due to an influx of members joining at the May 2004 meeting and then not attending later meetings or at most attending 1 or 2 meetings. These members were not dedicated Republicans. This non-dedicated member group count is included in the total member count for August 2, 2004. The no records exist giving the number of these individuals in this group. Note that by the November 19, 2004 file distribution; the
non-dedicated members had been dropped from membership. The effects of these non-dedicated members on membership totals may be removed to reflect only dedicated PWCRC members.

It seems everyone agrees that PWCRC has continually lost members during the study period. The size of the non-dedicated member group must not be large enough to cause a gain in membership. To have no increase, Table 1 above shows the non-dedicated member group should be 48. An assumption of 50 non-dedicated individuals would yield an increase of 2 members at the November 19, 2004 PWCRC membership meeting. This assumption of 50 is purposely too conservative, so it will be used.

With the assumption of 50 non-dedicated members in the August 2, 2004 count, the August 2, 2004 member count is reduced from 333 by 50 to 283 members. Table 2 shows Table 1 revised for dedicated only members. The net effect is a 7% lower loss rate.

The purpose of this simple study is to document PWCRC’s membership totals for the last 18 months in table form. Whether Table 1’s 60% or Table 2’s 53% loss is used for judging what has transpired is somewhat immaterial. Debating over which huge loss number should be used is not constructive. Taking 2/3 of the 60% loss still gives a huge loss of 40%!

Shown in the tables is the fact that corrective action should have been triggered during 2005. One can debate when this action should have been triggered, but surely by May 2005 a wakeup call should have been given.

Based on the foregoing, the conclusions are:
At least 60% of our membership, 200 members, has been lost from August 2004 to February 2006, an 18 month time period. (See Table 1).
Actions to correct the loss of members should been taken no later than the summer of 2005. This implies that there is not a membership monitoring process or a control process for signaling this problem.

Hopefully this study will trigger the current membership into taking corrective actions.

Bert Buscher February 20, 2006

Membership Chairman Bob FitzSimmonds sent around his rejoinder late yesterday. Bob offers an interesting analysis, one that speaks from years of experience and participation. Haven't had a chance to compare it to Bert's yet, but both are worth reading. Here's Bob's rejoinder:

I apologize for the length of this email. If it is just too long, I have bolded some pertinent facts to help you skim over it.
I am responding to an email that you may have recently received from Bert Buscher concerning membership stats for the PWC GOP committee. Bert summed up his email by stating that we have suffered a 60% loss in membership and that there is "no membership monitoring process or control process for signaling this problem". I am answering the email in my capacity as Membership Chairman of the Committee. Bert and I have discussed his views on this and I appreciate that he made attempts to correct his original data with information I gave him (members who joined but never attended, for example). Nonetheless, it seems to me that his data (and hence, his analysis) is flawed in several ways.
Wrong Comparison
Comparing a point of highest enrollment to a point at the end of the same committee cycle doesn't really tell you much. Every committee cycle tends to start with the core group, expand to include folks who are attracted by our activities and then fall off toward the end of the cycle. In our case, we started two years ago with 145 members and have ended up with a remarkably similar 144 members, for a net loss of 1 member.
A genuine comparison should be from one committee cycle to another. Unfortunately, for us this is problematic as well, because we have just started keeping good records in regard to the "3 meeting rule". So while I have a roster for 2002, it is hard to say if this is everyone who ever joined the committee (my guess) or just a snapshot at some point in time. In any event, the committee roster I have has 230 people on it. You will note that this is far less than the number who have joined during the current cycle (approximately 365). But if you calculate in a reasonable drop rate for the 3 meeting rule, you will end up somewhere in the neighborhood of the 125-150 members that have typified our committee for as long as I have been a member.
Is this a great victory? No, not particularly. But neither are we hemorrhaging members as Bert maintains. Anyone who has been around for any length of time can remember when we had no members from Neabsco. Few can remember a time when Brentsville was as robust as it is now. We have lost a few long time members and we have added a few new faces. But the truth is that the committee is remarkably stable, particularly in light of how disagreeable some of our meetings have been over the last two years.
Too Short A View
As noted, Bert's numbers cover a period of only 18 months, starting 5 months after the beginning of the current committee cycle and concluding 2 months prior to the end of this cycle. For anyone who has been involved in this committee for very long, it is clear that the 18 month period Bert uses was unusual in the life of the committee. In addition to a presidential campaign and a gubernatorial campaign, we had a contentious battle between two factions in our local committee. All of these things served to temporarily boost the numbers of people joining the committee. This was so much so, that we were temporarily unable to meet in McCoart, where we have met for nearly 10 years.
Monitoring and Control Process
As to Bert's final contention, we do have a monitoring and control process and it is exactly that process that Bert used to prepare his data. Every bit of data used in his analysis was gleaned from records we kept for the first time. Brian set up an ad hoc committee (Me, Steve Danziger, Jane Beyer) to establish a mechanism to keep proper records and to support the 3 meeting rule. We met several times and established a system of roll taking and rosters to mark committee membership. We produced new updates after each meeting (usually) and we notified folks when they were in danger of losing their membership (again, usually). The system was not flawless, but we did make this effort. If we had not, Bert would not have know how many folks joined, left, attended meetings, etc.

Bert draws a grim picture, but the historical data I provided above, would suggest otherwise. I hope folks find this information helpful.
Bob FitzSimmonds
Membership Chairman
Prince William Republican Committee

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Dick Cheney's Hunting Accident and the Media

Rarely has so-called "main stream" media bias been in more stark relief than in the treatment of Dick Cheney's hunting accident.

A media which treats seriously and with respect a far-Left Senator who failed to report to authorities a fatal traffic accident until more than eight hours later is now complaining because the White House didn't see fit to report to them (the media) an apparently minor hunting accident.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Dick Cheney's Hunting Accident

Apparently, the blogosphere is all atwitter over Dick Cheney's hunting mishap. Even the normally sensible Old Zach at SST says he should resign.

This is pretty silly. Accidents happen. A man was hurt, and that is a pity, but he'll apparently recover, and it's a risk one assumes when one engages in the activity.

'Course, the chance that I'd accept an invitation to go hunting with the Vice President is now roughly the same as the chance that I'd accept a ride from Teddy Kennedy.

Or get either.

UPDATE: Doug makes a similar observation here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

This Is Truly Hilarious

Remember all those scurrilous rumors about Tom Cruise, before he impregnated Katie Holmes?

Then you'll have to go out and see Top Gun II: Brokeback Squadron.

Asinine Pot. News Letterwriter

It seems that the pro-government school monopolists have little but hate and misrepresentation to offer in response to any proposal to free children and their parents from the propagandization of government schools.

The latest example appeared in today's Potomac News, where Tony Ares of Woodbridge responded to a column by Jim Simpson advocating vouchers (I apologize, but the sorry Pot. News doesn't have a link to today's letters). It seems that, according to Ares, "Conservatives love to mask their real reason for supporting a voucher program." Why do we --- I consider myself a conservative, notwithstanding efforts of some to water-down the "name brand" --- "love the idea of vouchers"?

According to Ares, the "real reason" is a "thinly veiled excuse to reinstate Jim Crow," to "indoctrinate [our] children with old bigotry."

Wow! That would certainly come as news to my children, who have attended two affirmatively Christian private schools where a large minority, if not majority, of children are of different races. It wasn't intentional; Mrs. Young and I didn't care about the racial makeup of the schools, though I suppose we might have had they been entirely of one race or another. Our only concern was that they get a quality, values-based education, and that they were indoctrinated with the pro-government propaganda and the "latest thing" directed by the National Education Association.

And it would certainly come as a surprise to their godfather, whom they affectionately refer to as "Uncle" Rossie, who is, in the words of Ares, a "black [or] brown" person with whom they "deal" regularly.

Of course, what my children don't get at their Christian, private schools, is government indoctrination, and experimentation with the latest educational fad. They don't have to wonder to whom, at Thanksgiving, we are giving "thanks." They aren't subjected to history lessons where the Christian roots of the American experiment are ignored in favor of "grievance" history.

They are, however, educated at probably less than half the cost of a Prince William County government school, where our tax dollars are subsidizing an over-bureaucratized system.

The last pro-"Jim Crow" private school in Virginia of which I am aware was the Prince Edward Academy, founded in 1959 to educate white children in Prince Edward County and the surrounding area when the local fathers, in response to forced desegregation, closed the local public schools for four years rather than integrate them.

However, even that vestige of Jim Crow went the way of Jim Crow laws in 1993, when it became the Fuqua School, with an endowment from J. B. Fuqua, who had grown up in the area and became a world-renowned businessman and philanthropist in Atlanta.

If somebody sees or knows Tony Ares, you really should welcome him to the 21st Century. Jim Crow is long dead and buried. School choice is not now, nor has it ever been, about oppression. It's about freedom for parents and their children. And while there might be a few who would abuse school vouchers and tax credits for the purposes identified by him, the vast majority of advocates for school choice have no interest in the vile and despicable motives attributed to them by Ares. Indeed, the only vile and despicable motives truly discernable in this dispute are those of Ares, demonstrated by his naked race-baiting.

'Course, I suspect that it's intentional. After all, some of the most articulate and passionate advocates for school choice are black Americans. And the far Left has much to fear when the demographic contingent most loyal to the Democrat Party gets off the Liberal "plantation."

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Getting Odd Messages

For some reason, I can't seem to access my website, and others on blogger. Interesting.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Another Democrat Hate Campaign

It seems my old friend, Ralph Reed, has become the target of another Democrat hate campaign. Ralph was earning his doctorate at Emory while I was earning my J.D. at the law school.

Congratulations, Ralph! A singular honor.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

When Good Teenagers Go Bad

It seems that Vince Thoms, the self-described "Too Conservative," has had some fantasies about Chairman Sean and the status of Kate Obenshain Griffin as Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. TC thinks that Chairman Sean should replace Kate.

While the wailing and gnashing of teeth over a few GOP losses in special elections against an energized Virginia Democrat Party is interesting, one really has to wonder whether it is merely the effort of so-called "moderate" Republicans to reclaim the control over the GOP that they lost nearly three decades ago. You know: when the GOP started winning in Virginia.

But Chairman Sean as RPV Chairman? What a great idea! Elect as Party Chairman someone who holds in contempt one of the four Republican state-wide office holders (and the highest Republican vote-getter in 2005), and one whose candidacy for statewide office was rejected by Republican voters. Great message that would send to the grass roots. And that's a great way to insure evenhandedness if there is a contest between McDonnell and Bolling in 2009.

TC also decided to belittle those who find Chairman Sean's character and ethics wanting, but ignores the fact that the dispute that many of us have with him is about policy, first and foremost: his tax and spend ways. TC and others try to talk their way around it, but the fact is that Chairman Sean has presided over massive tax increases in PWC.

And he has done so not by justifying his spending increases --- some of which may be justified --- but by demonizing fiscal conservatives and conducting the debate in Left-wing terms: "Where would you cut?" In fact, the thoughtful opposition of the Prince William Taxpayers Alliance has only suggested that the rate of increases be limited to a far greater extent than he has ever been interested in, or, at least, was ever interested in until he got statewide ambitions.

Chairman Sean learned his lessons well, and adopted the same tactic used by Clinton and congressional Democrats in the late Nineties: have bureaucrats write budgets which propose massive increases, and label (inaccurately) any proposal to limit those increases as "cuts." My conception of leadership is somewhat different: grab a spendthrift bureaucracy by the gonads, and don't let go 'til they scream.

Without saying anything else about Chairman Sean, I stand by my earlier comment: elected public officials should not hold Party office. And that includes my friend Eugene Delgaudio, running for Tenth Congressional District Chairman.

Aside from the absurdity of TC's suggestion, it is his premise which is faulty, as I fail to see why the long knives should be out for Kate. Sure, we've had a bad string in specials, but we won two out of three statewide offices in the General. Kilgore's loss is attributable to three things: Kilgore's inept campaign; Kaine's dishonest campaign; and Marky Mark's inexplicable popularity. Our losses in the specials, I would contend, are due to local factors not attributable to Kate's leadership.

Capturing Hitlary's Essence

A colleague sent me this. Perhaps the most accurate picture of Hitlary that I've ever seen. Doesn't it perfectly capture her inner maniac?

UPDATE: Chad Dotson has a great "Separated at Birth" here.

Four Things

Seen this elsewhere. Why not?

Four jobs I’ve had

1. Boy Scout Camp Counselor/Lifeguard
2. Library Assistant
3. Waiter
4. Lawyer

Four movies I can watch over and over

1. The Gallant Hours
2. To Kill a Mockingbird
3. Patton
4. Star Trek: First Contact

Four places I’ve lived

1. Logansport, Indiana
2. Northumberland, Pennsylvania
3. Decatur, Georgia
4. Montclair, Virginia

Four TV shows I love

1. Law and Order --- any iteration
2. Star Trek --- any iteration
3. Monty Python’s Flying Circus
4. L.A. Law

Four places I’ve vacationed

1. St. George Island, Florida
2. Bay Area, California
3. Knoebel's Grove, Central Pennsylvania
4. Seattle, Washington/Vancouver, B.C.

Four of my favorite dishes

1. Chicken Fettucine Alfredo
2. Teppanyaki Filet, Shrimp, & Scallops
3. Sushi --- Salmon; smoked salmon; Philadelphia Roll (see a theme here?)
4. Maple Bacon

Four sites I visit daily

1. Commonwealth Conservative
2. Drudge
3. Anchorage Daily News
4. Too Conservative

Four places I would rather be right now

1. Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii
2. Anchorage, Alaska
3. Bay Area, California
4. Hampden-Sydney

Four bloggers I am tagging

1. Scott Hirons
2. Virginia Centrist
3. Chris Casey
4. Shaun Kenney

Charges Dropped

The Capitol Hill Police have dropped charges against Cindy Sheehan, who appeared in the gallery at the State of the Union address as a guest of California Democrat Lynn Woolsey wearing a t-shirt reading "2245 Dead. How many more?" The wife of Congressman Bill Young, Beverly, whose local home is in eastern Prince William County, was also removed. She was wearing a shirt that read "Support the Troops -- Defending Our Freedom." According to the Washington Times, Mrs. Young (no relation) told the St. Petersburg Times, "They said I was protesting. I said, 'Read my shirt; it is not a protest.' They said, 'We consider that a protest.' I said, 'Then you are an idiot.'"

Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer apologized to both.

I agree with Chief Gainer's decisions on all counts. Both should have been removed, for House Chamber during the State of the Union Address is not an appropriate venue for protest. I would assert that the House Chamber is never an appropriate venue for protest or comment of any kind. And I agree with his decision to remove Mrs. Young. Had he not done so, Cindy Sheehan would have had the basis for a potentially-successful lawsuit for content-based discrimination.

Actually, though, Mrs. Young was partially right, too. There were two idiots in this imbroglio (saying Cindy Sheehan is an idiot is redundant). They were Mrs. Young, and Congresswoman Woolsey.