Saturday, May 31, 2008

Serving Yourself, Not Truth Or Your Candidate

So Greg doesn't understand how conventions operate, apparently doesn't like the result (I, too, cast my ballot for Bob Marshall, but Jim Gilmore is certainly an acceptable candidate, perhaps superior), and he decides that it's sinister.

At least, that's what one discovers on a series of posts on his tackily-named website.

Greg started with a complaint about the way seating was arranged:
Of note, the Prince William Delegation was provided with only three rows of seating in the back of the floor, which is about the same amount of seating reserved for Colonial Heights. I wonder if Prince William had not been the source of today’s challengers whether adequate seating would have been provided.
Now, I agree with the lack of planning that left a delegation with more than four hundred elected delegates with about fifty seats. That's incompetence, particularly when you do nothing to solve the problem and leave those delegates to fend for themselves, or split the delegation when enough people complain. And I actually tried to do something about it.

But then Greg suggested something untoward in the seating arrangements:
I thought it was rather bizarre to arbitrarily assign counties that are split between CD’s into one of them. I live in the 10th District, but my vote was tallied in the 11th. Were this not a party convention, I’d think I’d have a Fourteenth Amendment case, but the party can do what it wants under the law.
I jumped in again, providing a detailed explanation that nothing was unusual about this practice:

It’s not “arbitrary,” Greg. It’s the difference between knowing how things operate at a State Convention and under the Party Plan, and how you think they might operate.

Voting strength is calculated by unit (i.e., counties and cities) as a function of the total Republican voting strength in the preceding presidential and gubernatorial elections, and therefore varies from unit to unit (and Convention to Convention). Delegates serve a representative function, as representatives of Republican voters in their units. You’ll remember that you were elected as a delegate to the State Convention from Prince William County, NOT at the Tenth District Convention. Congressional District don’t send delegates to the State Convention; individual units do.

Moreover, each unit must vote all of its votes (the “whole-vote” rule). Therefore, each individual’s vote within the unit is calculated as a function of those who show up. For instance, if a county has 100 delegate votes, and ten people from the unit show up (it doesn’t matter how many are elected to go), each person’s vote is worth 10 delegate votes. On the other hand, if 50 people from the unit attend, each person’s vote is worth only 2 delegate votes (it can be subdivided to a maximum of 1/5 of a vote per person). Thus, while about PWC had 408 delegate votes (if memory serves), approximately 300 people showing up and voting on a ballot means that each person’s was worth about 1.33 delegate votes . Now, a county like Caroline County (I think it’s in western Virginia) [I may be wrong about the name of the county; I'm working from memory] had about 50-60 delegate votes, but I was told that only two people from that unit attended; hence, each person’s vote was worth about 25-30 delegate votes.

Additionally, the value of each person’s vote can change from ballot to ballot. For instance, if fewer people voted on the second ballot (for RPV Chairman) — and I suppose that fewer did, as you and perhaps others left — then the value of each individual’s vote in the unit increased. I don’t know what the difference in the number of delegates voting was, but interestingly, Jeff won one more delegate vote than Bob did in Prince William County (11th District Chairman Becky Stoeckel showed me her tally sheet, but I was only interesting in the delegate votes (the only number that matters in the tally), not the raw number voting).

Someone speculated to me that Hager’s fear of Bob’s strength may have been the reason why two separate ballots were conducted, rather than one, as efficiency would suggestion. The theory apparently was that he hoped that those primarily interesting in Marshall’s candidacy, and presumed to be Frederick supporters, as well, would leave after the ballot for the Republican nomination for Senate. Don’t know if it’s true, but it seems plausible.

In short, that one or those two people from Caroline County had enormous power to alter the outcome, because of weighted voting and the “whole-vote” rule. I’m told that both people voted for Gilmore; a shift of even one would have made the margin razor-thin, and may well have altered the outcome. Bob may well be kicking himself over that one, if he didn’t campaign there.

Now, as for where units are seated on the floor, it’s fairly arbitrary, but doesn’t alter the outcome. Past practice — followed today — is to seat units among two or more Congressional Districts (like Fairfax and PWC) with the Congressional District in which a majority of the unit lies, and have the District Chairmen (who almost always attend, unlike some unit Chairmen) report the weighted votes. In the case of both PWC and Fairfax, that is the Eleventh Congressional District. That is why we were seated with the Eleventh District.

The alternative is to have each unit report their votes individually, which would make the process even more unwieldy and lengthy than it already is.

Now, though, Greg is making wild, baseless accusations:
Apparently as a matter of convenience, while balloting today was by locality, votes were tabulated by Congressional District, which I understand is a somewhat unusual practice.
Really, how is that unusual? Greg doesn't explain. It's quite usual in Virginia. It's been done that way at every State Convention I've attended since 1992, inclusive.

He then asserts that "the distortions this would inevitably cause had an impact on the outcome of the close election for the nomination for the United States Senate." However, there is no "distortion," as I outlined in my comment (which Greg alludes to, but does not credit to me), and he offers no evidence of one.

Of course, the problem is that Greg doesn't understand how the process works. Instead, he asserts that "what happened is that delegates registered and voted by locality, and that total was aggregated into Congressional Districts which were then weighted."

No, Greg, the weighting is a simple formula applying the percentage of ballots cast for each candidate within the unit to the total delegate votes for each unit. Congressional district chairman receive both raw vote totals and the weighted totals, and double check the math.

Greg then offers this helpful suggestion:
So I’d think that if it’s useful to report results and weight votes by Congressional District, it would make sense to have delegates actually register and vote within the Congressional District in which they reside. Apples to apples, so to speak.
Think some more, Greg. Under your proposal, a unit like Prince William or Fairfax --- units split among three districts each --- would have to have their delegates caucus and vote separately in each district. Votes would then have to be tallied and weighted separately in each district. In short, without any demonstration of "distortions," you would create a situation providing more opportunities for errors.

Doesn't sound like a very good idea to me.

Now Greg tries to sound authoritative, but fails miserably. "I am lead to understand that this is pretty rare; so rare its never been done before." Really? By whom? It's certainly usual in Virginia.

Then Greg says "At the last convention, delegates registered, voted, and were tabulated by locality." What "convention" was that? A congressional district convention, with far fewer units? Greg doesn't say.

But it's then that the really wild theories start: "with anything political I have to imagine someone had a vested interest in this procedure and stood to benefit by this." Who? It's a method of calculation. There are no "political implications of that change, and no one pushes for the unusual without trying to obtain an advantage from it." And it's not unusual. Greg staunchly maintains otherwise, but offers nothing more than his ruminations to support the notion that Virginia's standard procedure is "unusual."

He is correct about one thing: "neither Jim Gilmore, nor Bob Marshall’s campaign had anything to do with this." Of course not. As I explained in detail, it's standard practice at State Conventions.

Another wild theory is the claim that "This could also simply be an effort by some committee to obtain an efficiency without realizing that shifting votes around like this could help or hurt someone," but he never bothers to demonstrate how anyone is "help[ed] or hurt." Indeed, as far as I can tell, it is only Greg who is claiming that "something unusual happened, and that the difference is made was somewhere between terribly insignificant and absolutely conclusive." Glib. Well-written. And utterly unsustained by any proof.

Nevertheless, I would have no problem with one of Greg's suggestions, and one which will no doubt occupy the new tenure of Chairman Jeff Frederick:
If we had the results for the Senate nomination vote by locality, ... and tabulate them by locality comparing that outcome to the official results, we’d be able to figure out pretty quickly whether there was an appreciable difference in the outcome.

I have little doubt that Jim Gilmore would like such assurances. But Greg is so full of himself that he seems to operate under the presumption that his wild fantasies are reality, and that well-established and validated practice should yield to his "insights" into propriety.

One nearly needs to read the irresponsible comments of those he is apparently listening to in order to understand the folly of that course. My suspicion is that his complaints and refusal to listen to reason and facts is rooted more in his resentment that he is not among "a few insiders" who have been managing with integrity the process for decades or more than in any legitimate concern over the integrity of the process.

Convention Observations --- Rank Incompetence

Perhaps the most incompetently run State Republican Convention I have ever witnessed.

Yeah, that about sums it up.

I didn't attend the session on Friday, as I reported previously. However, I suspect that some bloggers will relate that day's festivities, or already have.

Nevertheless, the level of incompetence demonstrated at this weekend's GOP gathering in Richmond was sufficient to cause me to reconsider and change my vote for State Chairman. There are aspects that were simply unforgivable on a wholly technical level.

The day started out well. Woke the wife and kids, performed our morning ablutions, and went downstairs at the Marriott for a very nice buffet breakfast, included in the price of our room. Then provided for late checkout (not as late as necessary, as it turned out), and went over to registration. Registration was fairly prompt, though the individual handling the end of the alphabet nearly gave me credentials for someone named "William" whose last name started with a "Z." Cleared that up, and made our way to the convention hall.

The immediate problem was getting in. People were checking credentials, and the entrance was the same door as the exit. Sooooo, people were coming out as many more were attempting to gain entry. Traffic jam ensued, aggravated by the usual suspects handing out lapel labels. Nice planning.

However, when the Youngs entered the hall, and sought out our delegation from Prince William County, we immediately noticed that only three rows --- perhaps fifty seats in all --- had been allotted for our delegates. Hmmmm. Had spoken to Tony Guiffre and his lovely fiance, who informed me that 427 PWC delegates had been elected to cast our ballots. If even half showed up (one can never tell about these things, but that's probably a minimal estimate), fully three-quarters of our people hadn't been planned for.

Well, someone needed to do something, so I sought out a staff member. Worthless, save to point me to the help desk on the other end of the Convention Center. Great. Now I would be one of those people fighting against the tide to exit the hall. Soooo, I left the boys with the wife, and sought to get more seating for Prince William's delegates. Waited in line (a lot of people needed help, including Congressman Frank Wolf and his wife), and finally corraled someone at the help desk. He informed me that the unit Chairman (Lyle Beefelt) would have to request more seats. "Let me make sure I understand this: there's a problem, and you're telling me I have to get him out here to make the request?" "That's right." "No, that's ridiculous."

It was an annoying and crowded walk back to the hall, but I resolved on the way that this --- a staffer completely unresponsive to an easily-solved problem --- was a serious enough problem that it had to be illustrative of larger problems.

In any case, I went back into the hall, and looked for Lyle. Nowhere to be found, but it was a big crowd. Instead, I sought out the central control area, and Charlie Judd, RPV's Executive Director. Now, I've never met Charlie, though I've of course heard his name.

He, too, was unresponsive.

Saw Jeff Frederick and Amy on the way back, and told him that I had reconsidered. While I believe that many of his criticisms of John Hager --- a man I've known and liked for nearly 20 years --- were unfair, this was inexcusable incompetence, and that I would wear his sticker and vote for him.

Now, I voted for Jeff, more times than I remember. Supported him against Jack Rollison when he ran his successful primary challenge to take his seat. Like him.

But I've known John Hager for nearly twenty years. Haven't always agreed with him, but have always been cordial. He finished his race for Lieutenant Governor in 1997 --- the same year I ran for School Board for a second and final time --- at the polls at Henderson Precinct in Montclair, my home precinct. We were side by side for the last two hours at the polls. Four years later, when he ran for the GOP nomination for Governor, he visited the offices of National Right to Work. Visited my office, and personally asked for my support, which I happily gave to him.

But this was no longer about personal loyalty. This was about the functionality and continued health of the State GOP. And today, in a very basic, well-rehearsed function, it wasn't working.

Sadly, the lack of adequate seating and the non-responsive staff was not the only display of incompetence in what was to be a fairly long day.

Sat next to Bob and Debbie FitzSimmonds. Kibbutzed. Listened to the speeches. Lyle asked Bob and me to aid with the balloting. Happy to help.

Turns out that Bob Berry had failed to appear at the Nominations Committee --- I was told later that no one informed him that he had to --- and therefore, his name was not placed in nomination.

And then we met to plan the balloting for PWC. And the ballots for Senate still had Bob Berry's name on them.

What, the copiers at RPV were down? No one could make a run to Kinko's? It's not like the ballots were on special paper. They were simple copier paper.

Now, Bob's disqualification was announced from the podium. But nevertheless, this was a simple problem easily fixed. And nobody bothered to do it!

Maybe not a big deal. 'Cept, when the votes were tallied, two or three districts reported votes for Bob Berry.


Under Robert's Rules, under which the State GOP and the Convention operates, ballots for an unqualified candidate are nullities. They don't count against the total vote, and should not be reported.

Nobody bothered to tell the ballot counters this.

Sooooo, as the votes are being reported, and it's a very close contest, those votes --- about 22 or 23 delegate votes in all --- might make a difference. Perhaps a huge difference.

Nevertheless, when all the votes were counted, it was clear that it was a very tight race. Only about sixty-five delegate votes separated Jim Gilmore from Bob Marshall, with the former prevailing.

As it happened, the Youngs voted for Marshall. Again, it was a tough decision. Both men are friends, of nearly twenty years. We supported Bob in his first race for House of Delegates, and ever since. Met Jim Gilmore at the Leadership Institute's Independence Day Conservative Soiree, back when he was Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney. Were at his home, at a reception for convention-goers on the day Ronald Reagan died.

We were ticked off at both of them for putting us in this position: having to choose between two well-qualified candidates who were friends. We would be happy for either. In the end, our decision was made on the fact that Bob would simply be more fun in the Senate.

And now, I have questions as to whether the winner is, in fact, the winner. Because of RPV's incompetence/laziness. This simply shouldn't have happened.

Now, perhaps counting Bob Berry's votes didn't make a difference. It probably didn't. But don't Virginia Republicans deserve better? Don't Jim Gilmore and Bob Marshall deserve better? This isn't rocket science. We've attended more than half a dozen State Conventions over the last sixteen years, and I've served on both Rules and Credentials Committees in the past. This has never been a problem.

In any case, it made our decision for Chairman a little easier.

Turns out, the race for that office wasn't even that close. In the end, Jeff Frederick's lead was so commanding that John Hager --- very graciously and magnanimously --- moved to make the election one by acclamation. Class act.

But I hope that he realizes that the negative result was, at least in part, a function of the fact that these happenstances caused him to bleed votes with each additional failure.

In the end, John deserved better, too, from the people at RPV. And he didn't get it.

John Chichester Drops All Pretense...

and appears in an upcoming ad (run the video to view) for the Boyish Governor.

Aside from the Winchester Billygoat AKA former state Senator Russ "Chamber" Potts, Chichester did more than anyone to destroy the value of the GOP name brand in the last decade.

It's a refreshing change that he's dropping the pretense of actually being a Republican.

Perfidy, thy name is "John."

State GOP Convention Observations --- The Preliminaries

Just returned from Richmond, and after a few hours of recovery, I'm organizing my thoughts on this weekend's gathering. Because I was able to get a last-minute reservation at the Marriott, we went down on Friday afternoon. Arrived too late for registration, or the first-day activities, but was given the rundown by Josh Suarez, on the Marshall staff.

Didn't attend the Gala on Friday night. The family opted for dinner at the Tobacco Company, in Shockoe Slip. Interesting night. I first went there about 24 years ago, with my college girlfriend. The scary part was when, in talking to my oldest, I found that our waitress was 22. Yep. Wasn't even born the first time I went there.

Nevertheless, had a great meal. Ran into John Stirrup and talked for a time with him, and returned to the hotel for the hospitality suites.

Since it was two doors down from our room, hit Bob Marshall's first. Wine and deserts mainly, and a good group of people, but rather quiet. It was early, and after my youngest managed to loudly pop a balloon on a candle, we went to search out other venues.

Ran down to the lower level, and went into Jeff Frederick's ice cream social. A dry hospitality suite!?!?!?! Well, the boys liked it, and we had desert. But there were almost more hotel staff there than guests, and after an ice cream bar, we left.

Turns out most of the suites --- and the best ones --- were at the Convention Center. Stopped by Bob McDonnell's/Bill Bolling's. Ah, beer! Had a good conversation with State Central Committee Member David F.C. Ray, saw a few other old friends, and went next door to John Hager's suite. More good food, fewer people I knew well, but they had chocolate and strawberries, and Patrick was in hog heaven. Saw John on the way out, and told him that I would be supporting him. And that, while I believed some of Jeff's criticisms to be unfair, he would be well advised to adopt some of his suggestions for Party improvement.

At this point, Brenda thought it best to get the boys back to our room and into bed. Couldn't blame her, given the hour she rises for her commute.

Then went around the north corner, and found Governor Gilmore's, National Committeeman Morton Blackwell's, and the Jeffersoniad's suites. Morton had the best food, by far. Crab cakes; shrimp; chicken fingers. But Jim Gilmore had the best bar (perhaps explaining his victory). Full, open bar. Crown Royal; good bourgon; Chivas! Would come back to this one.

Saw many old friends: John Tate; Kevin Allen; Corey Stewart; John Stirrup. Had a great conversation with Boyd Marcus, for whom I have recently had a new respect, as he had the wit to send his son Randy, Bill Bolling's Chief of Staff, to Hampden-Sydney. Got to know Christopher Younce. Talked to John Stirrup's brother, as well as getting to know Jim Fotis (really, for the first time) and his lovely wife, Kim.

Had a great conversation with Jim Bowden, whom I have admired for a long time. Wonderful fellow. Saw Shaun Kenney for the first time in years. And Jim Hoeft, whose Bearing Drift is Tidewater's premier blog. Rick Sincere (who got great footage of the maroons protesting Vice President Cheney's visit) and Alton Foley were also in attendance. The Jeffersoniad Suite was a blogger's hotbed, for obvious reasons.

Jim Hoeft made one of the better suggestions of the night, and suggested that we all head to Tucker Watkin's suite. Tucker is the Fifth District GOP Chairman, and I'd never had the pleasure.

Well, it turns out that Tucker's suites are legendary. Great bar, and I capped off the night with an incredible burboun recommended by him. We then had a wonderful conversation about Fifth District politics. The alma mater lies in the Fifth, and it seems that Tucker and I have quite a few mutual friends.

Turned in for the night after two --- the party was still going strong --- and prepared for the events of the 'morrow....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What A Republican!

Say what you will about John McCain --- I have, and probably will --- but anyone who would even consider voting for a raging Socialist like Barack Obama can't be seriously considered to have ever been a Republican, or a Conservative.

And he's lecturing us on what's wrong with Washington?!?!?

What's most wrong with Washington is people who seek political power by auctioning their political "principles" to the highest bidder.

Poor Ed King --- So Bitter; So Irrelevant

Just came across this rather interesting comment, in response to a recent Gary Jacobson column in the Daily Fishwrap ... er, "Potomac News":
I think Gary’s thoughts are correct and expressed very well. What a contrast with those columns written by the not-great James Young who could call anyone any dispicable name he desired but was protected by the editor of the “PotNews” from the any criticism by letter writers.The editor MUST publish the critics. A truly free press demands it.
Wow! I'm so flattered. I wrote a little weekly piece for that journal for about seven years, and was unceremoniously canned nearly four years ago --- no notice to me or the readers, just discontinued, with the editor lying about how many complaints she received over it --- and Ed King (a former County Supervisor, prior to 1992) is still fixated on me. I suspect that most people, even in the district he represented, would be hard-pressed to identify his name, and I don't write letters for free to a journal which used to pay me for my work.

Now, I suppose I could ask Ed what he's talking about, since he provides no examples of me "call[ing] anyone any dispicable [sic] name [I] desired," and never mind that Gary Jacobsen's work is notable for the fact that it persuades --- contrary to its intent --- people to vote Republican, but why bother? Democrats rarely let the truth interfere with their childish accusations.

But I can't imagine a more ringing endorsement of my influence as a columnist. Just ask Lt. Governor Sean Connaughton.

BTW, Ed, it's "despicable."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Green Tree Has Red Roots

Apparently, the Czech President is causing quite a stir by publicizing something else that the so-called "mainstream" media has chosen to ignore: that environmenalism and calls for government action to combat "climate change" are simply the same old far-Left prescription for the elimination of freedom dressed up in new clothes.

The Europeans recognized this fact decades ago, with the rise of the "Greens," with the recognition that "the Green tree has Red roots."

I would not recommend that the Czech President hold his breath waiting for Al Gore to appear for an honest intellectual exchange.

H/T to Drudge

Monday, May 26, 2008

Impending Conference

Driving to Central Pennsylvania to visit the family over the Memorial Day weekend, saw a billboard advertising an impending convention of "Muslims for Peace," set to occur in the unlikely location of the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

It's certainly a refreshing change for a religious whose most prominent adherents these days seem to be making war on America. It's also evidence which encourages those who respect the faithful of all faiths, and question why so few Muslim leaders denounce radical violence.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ranting Kids Are Upset

Now that Governor Timmy! has endorse Gerry Connolly for the Democrat nomination in the 11th Congressional District, it seems that the boys and girls at Ranting Kids ... er, Raising Dough ... er, "The Blog Formerly Known As 'Raising Kaine'" have case his name down the proverbial Memory Hole, and scrubbed his name from their masthead. Now it's just "RK."

Now, some of us have always thought that "RK" stood for Ranting Kids. Works as well as anything else.

Remember that old show "When Animals Attack"?

Perhaps we should call this "When Moonbats Attack."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Interesting Time Of Year

I'm always fascinated by springtime in D.C.

I vividly remember leaving here one April morning, and when I arrived in Anchorage, Alaska, it was warmer there than it was when I left.

It's not much different today.

More Observations On PWC GOP Committee Meeting

Another observation on last night's first meeting of the newly-reconstituted Prince William County Republican Committee:

Where was everyone?

We heard for months on end from those who breathlessly trashed Tom Kopko for "destroying" the County Committee, or provided a forum for it. But not even Greg Letiecq was there.

Now, to be sure, most did so behind the cowardly cloak of anonymity/pseudonymity, but nevertheless, they managed to follow mindlessly the meme that Kopko was evil, and that his decisions harmed the GOP. Never mind that those who have been around for awhile --- actually participating, not just casting brickbats while GOP candidates enjoyed unprecedented success County-wide --- observed the same cyclical trends which have been virtually unbreakable since the founding of the Committee in 1991. The Internet just provides so many opportunities for smears.

And to be sure, Kopko overpromised when elected. Those who have been around for some time knew it was unrealistic to dream of --- let alone promise --- a "600-member County Republican Committee." Might be nice, but aside from the fact that it would increase the costs and difficulties in finding an adequate venue for County Committee meetings exponentially, experience teaches that it's just not realistic. The GOP is any venue is more that those elected to the leadership position of County Committee Membership, as I have observed elsewhere.

But now, Lyle Beefelt is the Chairman. Nice guy. Have been friends for a long time, notwithstanding some disagreements, and even including a cheap, foolish shot or two from him (yes, Lyle, Julie Lucas is a lightweight, intellectually, from all that I have observed; your list of her "accomplishments" says little about substance, particularly regarding matters to come before the House of Delegates, and your criticisms of her winning opponent seem misplaced from someone who has just been elected to a position from which his primary goal should be to grow the GOP). Trustworthy, honest, and fairly non-confrontational. Even endorsed by those who agree on little else. As Citizen Tom observed, he "tends to occupy the middle ground between the party’s different factions, he still manages to be on speaking terms with everyone. That actually is no mean trick."

So where were all the disgruntled people who had been so alienated by Tom Kopko? Wasn't he the problem, according to some? Wouldn't all those people come rushing back to the GOP Committee once he was out the door (actually, he still sits on the County Committee's Executive Board, by virtue of being immediate past Chairman)?

To be fair, I recognize that one meeting does not a trend make, but last night's rather anemic attendance does not bode well for the Committee resurgence implicit in the arguments of those demonizing Kopko.

Now I suppose, were I of a mind to demonize Lyle (i.e., were I a damn fool), I would blame him for that anemic attendance. I might declare in hushed conspiratorial tones that he is masterminding the destruction of the County GOP, or that he is engaged in some sort of campaign to deliver the Committee to those who wish ill to PWC, Virginia, the United States, and all that is good and pure in life.

But I won't. As noted above, it is merely the same cyclical trends which have been virtually unbreakable since the founding of the Committee in 1991.

Not that those who engaged in it won't find an excuse to blame someone else when their over-promises are revealed as such.

Monday, May 19, 2008

New PWC GOP Committee Meeting

Just returned from the first meeting of the newly-reconstituted Prince William County Republican Committee.


All three newly-elected members of the State Central Committee elected from the 11th Congressional District at Saturday's Convention --- David Ray; Patsy Drain; and Keith Damon (who I had not previously met, but came highly recommended by Fairfax Senator Ken Cuccinelli) --- were in attendance, and expressed their appreciationfor their support from Prince William.

And give new County GOP Chairman Lyle Beefelt credit: he knows how to stick to a schedule. We were scheduled to adjourn by 8:45, and by God, we adjourned by 8:45.

It might have been earlier but for some controversies which might well have been resolved more easily with a little more planning and/or better execution of the County Convention.

What is perhaps most interesting is the fact that the good planning and/or little missteps which would have provoked charges of conspiracy and perhaps even high treason probably will be ignored by those who hated former Chairman Tom Kopko for ideological reasons. One has to wonder why?

The only big controversy was over elections of inferior officers. Not because there was a surplus of candidates; none of the races was contested. And a question was raised over only one of them.

What provoked the controversy was the question of Treasurer. It seems that the individual interested in the job, a woman I don't know by the name of Fotis (Kim?), had erroneously failed to mark the box for Committee membership at the County Convention. Hence, she was not technically qualified for election prior to a vote on new Members, as the Party Plan requires election by the County Committee from "among their number." As an aside, this was a conscious choice by the committee which drafted the Party Plan --- I was its Chairman --- to insure continuity of leadership, among other reasons.

It seems that a number of people (initially just former Secretary Karen Ulrich) objected to moving the election of Treasurer --- required to occur at this meeting by virtue of the Party Plan --- to after the election of new members. The change was suggested by me, among others. The practice of the Committee has long been to hold that election until the end of the meeting.

However, this problem was averted when the prior Treasurer, Kathy Royse, consented to election, and promised to resign in favor of the new Treasurer upon her election. While I have no reason to distrust Kathy, the problem with this course lies in the fact that Kathy was technically elected to a two-year term, and there is nothing which would compel her to resign, should she choose not to.

Now, there are good and sufficient reasons for the practice of electing new Members at the end of the meeting. Primarily, it insures the orderly conduct of County Committee meetings, and insures that no one can "pack" a Committee meeting and engage in activities which would embarass the GOP and its nominees.

And there were good and sufficient reasons to vary from this practice on this occasion, the primary one being that there was no great controversy over this single election, and it appears that the single candidate was not technically qualified at that point in the meeting simply due to an oversight.

Of course, the County Committee is charged with the continuing corporate existence of the GOP in Prince William County. It is, though some seem not to understand this, or ignore it, the leadership of the Republican Party in the County. It is decidely not the rank-and-file of the Party, which --- by virtue of the County Party Plan --- is made up of:
All legal and qualified voters of Prince William County under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, regardless of race, religion, national origin or sex, who are in accord with the principles of the Republican Party and who, if requested, express in open meeting either orally or in writing as may be required, their intent to support all of its nominees for public office in the ensuing election....
Because of this fact, it is sound policy to provide some level of control on those who vote in a County Committee meeting. The same reason justifies the rules limiting Membership to a certain number of Precinct Members (never approached, so far as I know) based upon a proportion of GOP votes in preceding elections, and a limited number of At-Large Members (again, never invoked, so far as I can recall). Aside from this fact, Members of the County Committee are require to be registered voters. And indeed, that desire for "control" is precisely why we vote new Members in to the Committee. Objections can be raised, for good reasons and bad, but certainly among them, over the concern that adherents to principles other than those of the GOP might attempt to take over the local Republican leadership.

Allowing anyone who appears at a County Committee meeing, signs an application, and writes a check for $50 (dues for a two-year membership) to vote immediately prevents the important process of verification that the applicant is, in fact, a registered voter (a process followed by the Credentials Committee at the County Convention and/or Mass Meetings). This is an important process required by both the State and County Party Plans as a qualification for Membership.

As it turns out, the only item of "New Business" discussed at tonight's County Committee meeting was when the Old Whithered Wench, AKA Anke W. Cheney, appeared at the meeting to declare that, perhaps, this policy should be reconsidered. She made no motion, but provoked some discussion.

Now that the Old Whithered Wench thinks it's a good idea is sufficient reason to question it. After all, she has absented herself from most participation in the deliberations of the Committee since it was founded in 1991. Perhaps not coincidentally, this is when the GOP in Prince William County has come to dominate County politics.

And, of course, she has engaged in the sleazy practice of attempting to use the criminal justice system against political enemies, chronicled here. Moreover, she has previously renounced the GOP when she didn't like the results of a contested nomination.

Ah, were it that it were so.

But the policy --- and it is only a practice, apparently not written into the Party Plan --- is a sound one, and one which has proven useful in the past. The Old Whithered Wench suggested at the meeting that the alternative of voting in new Members at the beginning of a meeting would promote Party growth. She asserted that such individuals stay in the GOP.

I have my doubts. After all, the only occasion when it was meaningfully invoked involved the efforts of former Chairman Sean Connaughton to take revenge on the GOP for the embarassing loss he suffered in a straw poll conducted at the 2004 County Convention regarding the impending race for Lieutenant Governor, for which he was a candidate for the GOP nomination. Having failed to support the local GOP, he didn't encourage his supporters to attend. They stayed away, in droves. Probably as a result, his main competitor --- future nominee and Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling --- walked away with a victory, and 70% of the vote.

At the next meeting of the County Committee, the organizational meeting, Chairman Sean attempted to "pack" the Committee with new "Members," all paying the then $30 dues on the spot and demanding a vote for new officers. Chairman Sean's campaign flack, Hector Quintana, was in attendance to oversee the operation, and it was reported to me at the time that he was on the phone with a very-agitated Chairman Sean when his attempted coup failed miserably, upon invocation of the existing practice by then-Chairman Brian Murphy, much to his credit.

The group brought in was widely described as a "mob" by those in attendance. And apparently, Chairman Sean didn't have too many standards in his quest for higher office: many were also Democrats. At least one of those attending was an individual with whom I attend church. Now, she's a very nice lady. But she's also a Democrat. Indeed, just a few months later, I saw her car with a "Kaine for Governor" sticker prominently displayed.

Few, if any, of the others have ever darkened the door of the GOP in the years since.

And even if it were true, is it the kind of "growth" to be desired by a political party with public responsibilities? Should local GOP leadership in the form of its Committee become subject to the control of a well-funded group which sufficiently organizes itself for a single meeting?

I think not. And while the goals of those who separated the County GOP from the combined Manassas/Prince William County Committee in 1990/91 were explicitly to deliver control of the County Party to the grass roots, as always, it was important to strike a balance between grass-roots control and surrendering control of the GOP to whatever mob happens temporarily to assemble.

It's a lesson as old as the American Founding, in which the Framers conscientiously and intentionally bequeathed to us a republic, not a democracy. And one that those who would consider any proposed change to this long-standing practice to consider carefully before doing so.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Methinks They Doth Protesteth Too Much

With some in the far Left moonbatosphere in high dudgeon over the President's speech yesterday in front of the Israeli Knesset, at least one popular denizen of the left-of-center portion of the Virginia blogosphere has been strangely silent on the subject.

Maybe there's a conscience or two there after all.

Nevertheless, it must be that President Bush has struck a nerve. Apparently, the President was out of line, according to Democrat leaders, as detailed by Doug Mataconis. Interestingly, he didn't associate any names --- or any political party --- with those remarks.

Oh dear.

These are the same people who frequently accuse and/or tolerate accusations that the President is a terrorist and/or a murderer and/or a liar and/or a nasty bastard who's simply trying to enrich his buddies in the oil and gas industry.

One might take them more seriously if they weren't advancing the notion and/or accepting support from the "Bush Lied; People Died" contingent.

Not A Chance

Just received this in today's junk mail folder:

John McCain doesn't know me from Adam... but neither did George W. Bush in 2004 when I rallied over 80,000 Vets4Bush plus their friends and families. I did this "on my own nickel" and I'm doing it again for John McCain. I'm doing it because McCain is an honorable man and he is head and shoulders above the Democrat candidates. He is the ONLY candidate fit to be Commander in Chief. I don't agree with him on all issues, and it's likely that you don't either.

I know you all agree with me that we REALLY NEED to elect another Republican President this year - that's why you're attending this Convention. I would like to represent you - the grassroots Republican Activists - at the RNC National Convention in Minneapolis, MN on Sept 1. I would greatly appreciate your vote.

I hope to meet you at the 11th District Convention tomorrow. Registration opens at 9:00 a.m. and the convention is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m.

Suggestion: You might consider bringing snacks, because I've been told there will be no food for sale in the School.

O. P. Ditch
Candidate for RNC National Convention Delegate
I suppose I could dissect this chapter and verse, starting with the mistaken salutation "Friends."

But what would be the point? Suffice it to say that Ditch was part of Julie Lucas' charitably-named "Brain Trust" in last year's 51st District Delegate race for the GOP nomination, and when he didn't get his way at the Convention, either opted out entirely or, more probably, gave aid and comfort to Democrat Paul Nichols in his narrow victory in the General Election.

My response was more succinct than usual:
It seems to me that we need a National Delegate who works for all Republican nominees.

Not a prayer.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

They Can't Be Serious

With the Democrat nomination all but won by Sen. Barack Hussein Obama, attention has started to turn to his choice of running mate. Of course, with Hillary Clinton still in the race, notwithstanding the virtual numerical impossibility of winning, many in the media are asking "What does she want?" They speculate that she would accept the VP slot.

Sorry, but I have to ask: If you were Barack Hussein Obama, would you really risk choosing such a nakedly ambitious person --- with all of the suspicious activities swirling around her --- as the person who would succeed you to the highest office in the land upon your untimely demise?

One hopes that an American President would be somewhat more risk averse.

Whether It's True Or Not....

that's just offensive.

Apparently, a Georgia bar owner is selling "Obama in '08" t-shirts, with a picture of Curious George above the slogan.

He justifies it by saying there's a resemblance between the cartoon character and the Democrat frontrunner.

One needn't be a race hustler to be offended by this.

Lowell Feld: Far-Left, and a Liar, Too

Yeah, yeah, I know: big surprise, coming from the far Left.

Nevertheless, it's more than a little surprising when those on the far Left, who make pretensions to commitment to free speech (especially when it's there's) so nakedly avoid uncomfortable little facts which reveal their irrationality.

Now, I don't often comment on Ranting Kids, ... er, Raising Dough,, "Raising Kaine." Don't do so much at all. After all, it's little more than an echo-chamber for the far Left.

However, when I noticed a post on the Great Annandale Earthquake of Ought-Eight, I realized what had happened, and given that I felt it at my office (a mile from the epicenter), I offered that fact. First one in more than a year.

Then yesterday, I noticed that Lowell Feld, the Kid-in-Chief, offered a few "thoughts" on Governor Timmy's! tax increase plan... er, "transportation plan." I prefaced my comments with the attempted witticism that "thought" would be a nice idea, but implied that it wasn't reflected in the post.

Didn't record the comment elsewhere myself, but it was something to the effect that the typical far-Left pap about "the exorbitant profits of oil companies like ExxonMobil" --- you know, the 8-9 cents they make (on average) per gallon --- was more than a little nonsensical, since their increased profits are a function of increased volume of sales, and since both the Federal and Virginia governments tax gasoline at a rate about double that amount, thus "profiting" much more than those eeeeevil oil companies from the sale of gasoline. I also pointed out the basis for my authority on the issue, since my father was, for more than four decades, an owner of a single, small service station, and laughed at the uninformed premises underlying Lowell's "thoughts."

I also pointed out that, if you wanted to talk about altering the tax structure, "A reasonable, sensible case can be made for altering the calculation of the gas tax, changing it from a flat rate (17.5 cents per gallon) to a percentage of price, to adjust for inflation concerns. You don't make it, and Tim Kaine didn't have the guts to. What leaders!"

My comment generated a number of thoughtful responses, even an endorsement from someone with the handle "Bubby." Since I don't pay too much attention to Ranting Kids, ... er, Raising Dough,, "Raising Kaine," I don't know much about "Bubby," or where he's generally coming from.

Lowell's response? He deleted my comment. Not the responses, mind you. Just the comment. When "Bubby" complained, Lowell declared:
"Skeptical Observor" is more than deserving of being "troll rated." And no, we're not going to have an "honest discussion" with someone who believes every Democrat is a left-wing "extremist," a "socialist," a "nihilist," a "communist," or any of the other things he's called us over the years.
Now, I can't look at my comment, since Lowell deleted it, and I have to work from memory. But I remember having said virtually none of those things in my comment. And certainly said nothing more insulting that one regularly sees on the pages of Lowell's blog about Conservatives.

But then Lowell said this:
This blog isn't the government (0.00 / 0) so the "free speech" issue is not applicable. People who come on this blog choose to play by our rules, just as people who go into any other blog -- right, left, center, whatever -- choose to play by their rules.

Anyway, if you read our posting guidelines, they are very clear:

* Users who unnecessarily bash or attack, including ad hominem attacks, any users on the site are subject to immediate banning. Our actions will be dictated by the specific circumstances.

* Users that post comments that do nothing but name-call, denigrate other users, or make inflammatory remarks will be warned first and banned if warnings are not heeded. Extreme violations will be banned outright.

Now, if asserting that someone has made an uninformed comment without thought is "ad hominem," and offering actual facts (about oil companies, for example) as opposed to anti-corporate propaganda is "nothing but name-call, denigrate other users, or make inflammatory remarks," then....

Well, the simple fact of the matter, it's not. And while I can't remember chapter and verse about what I said, it certainly wasn't fairly categorized as any of that. And I said so, giving Lowell a chance to restore my comment. He didn't.

And certainly, I was never "warned first." No e-mail from Lowell. Nothing. Just deletion of my comment. Which, of course, denies any other reader the opportunity actually to read the comment and see if it is fairly categorized as such.

Which is, of course, the point. The far Left --- and yes, that's precisely where Lowell resides --- can't take honest debate. It especially can't stand facts which disprove it's rhetoric. So Lowell deleted my comment.

Perhaps the most revealing fact is that, in responses which complain about ad hominem attack and imply name-calling, Lowell calls me a "troll."

That just about says it all about the merits of his position. And while I have no illusions about whose position on this will be more widely read --- not nearly as many people read this blog as read Ranting Kids, ... er, Raising Dough,, "Raising Kaine" --- the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the leading "light" of that blog must be recorded somewhere.

Even if little, childish Lowell can't face the criticism himself.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Welcome Home

You know you're getting old when kids you watched grow up put away childish things and start their lives as adults.

One young man, a boy named Thomas, is someone I've watched grow up in my church over the last nearly-19 years. I watched him as a child, play softball with his dad, and watched him as he became an Eagle Scout. A few years back, he went off to Virginia Tech, graduating last year. He was not involved in last year's tragic shooting.

I was quite surprised to learn, a few months ago, that he had received his commission in the Army and had gone to Afghanistan.

Thankfully, he just returned from Afghanistan --- safely, thank God --- and was joyfully welcomed at today's church service.

Welcome home, Thomas. And thank you for your service.