Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Lot at Stake—Virginia 2009

There is no allowance for election fatigue in Virginia.

There are no off years in the commonwealth. In even-numbered years we have the Federal elections along with the rest of the country. While most states take the odd-numbered years off. But in the Old Dominion, those years are for the elections for state offices.

In 2007, Virginia's shift from Red to Blue in the presidential race was foreshadowed when the Democrats wrested control of the Senate of Virginia from the GOP for the first time since 1999. Those are four-year terms and all seats are up for grabs at once.

The Republicans managed to maintain their control of the lower chamber, the 100-member House of Delegates, in '07. However, that once vice-like grip on control there has slipped. Since the 2001 elections, the Democrats have steadily added a total of 10 seats, giving the GOP a 54-44 lead with two independents.

Next year there will be elections for Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General and all 100 seats in the GOP-controlled House of Delegates.

It's not hyperbole to say that this local election will have global implications.

If the Republicans can take back the Governor's Mansion from the Democrats (VA has a one-term limit so incumbent Democrat Tim Kaine can't run), and strengthen their control of the House of Delegates, that would be taken as a message that the state's Blue status in '08 may have been an isolated phenomenon. Such victories would be a major morale boost to the party nationwide.

If, on the other hand, the Democrats keep the governor's chair and take away most or all of the seven seats they would need to control the HOD, talk would be of a permanent realignment. Liberals everywhere would be emboldened while Republicans would be dispirited.

The GOP nominee for governor is Bob McDonnell, who is the sitting Attorney General. On the Democratic side, the candidate could be a Clinton-era figure, Terry McAuliffe. The former DNC Chairman has lived in McLean for many years, but he would need a road map to find his way outside the Beltway.

McDonnell is considered to be a strong favorite, but a year ago it was odds on that the Old Dominion would go for the GOP presidential candidate.

Nothing will happen unless all Republicans, especially those of us who live in Virginia, make it happen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New GOP Site Message: “I don’t get it!”

The GOP has cranked up a Website entitled "Republican for a Reason" to try to get grassroots input about the future of the party.

Good idea, horrible execution. My experience there shows me that the rushed this out with no beta testing leading to a poor user experience. It screams "I don't get it" coming from the GOP.

I went to leave my text input and I took some time to compose a message. When I hit the button to submit I got an error message saying that I used "illegal symbols" in the text. I had nothing that could be confused as an HTML tag, just parenthesis and apostrophes. There is no link to help besides a token set of FAQ's, nobody to whom I can report the problem.

In a more minor annoyance, they assign you a randomly-generated password when you sign up but there is no place to go to change it something you can, you know, actually remember.

I'll check back at some point but I'm not going to waste time dealing with a bug that I can't report.

The key phrase above is "I'll check back". A lot of current and potential Republicans won't.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Here’s the problem

Here is one reason why the GOP is struggling right now.

As I type this, Congressman Eric Cantor is getting ready to appear on Fox News Sunday. Presumably he will be talking about the future of the Republican Party and how it's going to pull itself back up. He's about to be elected Minority Whip, the #2 Republican post in the House.

I am on the email list for both the Cantor campaign and the Republican Party of Virginia. Yet I received no notification that Cantor was going to appear on FNS. No email, nothing posted on either website. Nothing.

The most powerful Congressman from Virginia in quite some time is on a prominent national news show and we have to stumble on that information on our own.

I should have received an email at the very least. There should be a place on both websites to sign up for text message alerts and one should be sent out for something like this. The appearance should be touted on both websites.

The national GOP site fails to make any mention of the appearance either. God forbid they should attempt to promote one if their rising stars.

Say what you want about Ron Paul's supporters, but they get it. Every time their guy is on national TV his crowd knows about it in advance and they have an opportunity to persuade their friends to tune in and listen to his message.

The Cantor camp and the VA GOP are always are eager to send out emails about fund-raising events and to solicit contributions. But where they miss the boat is in giving us information that might eventually make us want to reach for the credit card and send fifty or a hundred bucks their way every once in a while.

Unless and until that disconnect is repaired and the GOP moves in to the 21st century when it comes to communication the party will continue to struggle.

Judge Napolitano—Politicians Ignore Constitution

There's not much to add to this.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dog Bites Man: Post Coverage had Obama Slant

Stop the presses: The Washington Post's coverage of the 2008 election favored Barak Obama.

The papers ombudsman, Deborah Howell, reviewed the paper's political coverage from November 11 of last year through Election Day 2008. She reported the following:

The Post provided a lot of good campaign coverage, but readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama. My surveys, which ended on Election Day, show that they are right on both counts.

The ombudsman was, of course, shocked, shocked to find liberal bias in virtually every area from op ed stories to photographs to uneven treatment of the vice presidential candidates.

Immature, Unprofessional, Cowardly Jerks

I'm not normally one to pile on. If I'm a few days late in delivering criticism I'll usually just let what others have said stand and let it be.

But at the risk of drawing a 15-yard penalty, I'll jump on the pile here and take a shot at those incompetent McCain campaign staffers who decided that it would serve them well to trash Sarah Palin well before the corpse of the failed campaign was even cold.

A detailed autopsy is a critical part of any failed venture of the magnitude of a losing presidential campaign. But there is a difference between a sober assessment conducted in private and a public trashing of an individual who was a major part of the venture.

The McCain campaign staffers who spread the stories about Palin thinking that Africa was a country or that she greeted staffers who came to pick her up in a bathrobe or towel (depending on which account you want to believe) are nothing more than immature, unprofessional, cowardly jerks.

And that's not me talking, even though I am in complete agreement of the assessment of those gossip mongers. Those are the words of the Governor of Alaska herself. has undertaken Operation Leper and all fair-minded people should consider taking part in it. The site is identifying McCain staffers who blabbed about happenings that should have stayed private (if, indeed, they happened at all). The idea is to make those gossips political lepers. Any candidate who is considering hiring these buck passers needs to know what they might do if the campaign should be unsuccessful. In fact, Operation Leper will actively work towards ensuring that those campaigns are failures.

This is a very worthwhile effort and The Rational Conservative fully supports it. The idea originated in this post and there is a petition to sign here.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Introducing The Rational Conservative

John McCain inspired me to get back into politics.

That inspiration came at the very end of his campaign for president. In the closing week of the campaign, with the odds stacked high against him, in his stump speech he urged his supporters to "Get up and fight!"

I looked at the polls that indicated that my state of Virginia would go blue for the first time since 1964.

Get up and fight!

I looked at the certainty that a Democrat would take the Senate seat up for grabs in Virginia, making my state's Senate delegation entirely under Harry Reid's thumb.

Get up and fight!

I looked on as over half of my fellow Americans who cast ballots voted for the candidate who promised to "spread the wealth around".

Get up and fight!

A few weeks earlier, during one of the debates, I watched McCain, the candidate I supported, talk of having the federal government buy up the mortgages, signaling that personal responsibility was no longer in vogue.

Get up and fight!

I watched as the media went to great lengths to dig up dirt on Sarah Palin and on Joe the Plumber but the kid gloves were on when it came to investigating the background of Barak Obama or highlighting the gaffes of Joe Biden.

Get up and fight!

And then I looked at myself. I used to be fairly involved politically, up to date on all of the issues, informed of what was going on in Washington, always ready and willing to attempt to persuade others to consider my point of view.

But then, well, I got complacent. In Richmond, I was in the middle of a solidly Red state with two GOP Senators. Both chambers of the Virginia legislature were Republican. An occasional conservative Democrat in the governor's mansion was hardly a cause for alarm. Republican president? Check. GOP in control of the House and Senate? Check.

So, I tuned out of politics. Not completely, mind you, but my interest devolved to a very superficial level. I was disturbed two years ago when George Allen was "macacaed" out of office and the Republicans lost control of Congress but that was just an unfortunate isolated incident. No reason to get all worked up, I thought.

Then along came 2008.

Looking back at all of this and with McCain's words echoing in my head, I've decided that it's time to get off of the sidelines No longer will I sit back, rooting for the GOP to prevail, letting the other side define the terms of the debate.

Get up and fight!

My blog here, The Rational Conservative (or Raticon for short), is part of my part of the fight. I'm going to introduce my ideas into the arena and highlight the best of what others have to say. In addition, I'll take others to task when I disagree with them, regardless of what side of the political spectrum their thoughts may reside.

I will do more. Next year I will work to support the Republican nominee for governor of Virginia (likely to be Bob McDonnell, a solid conservative). In fact, I'll start that effort right now. I have no campaign fatigue since I didn't do much in this one besides sit back and watch everything go down in flames.

And in elections after that, and in between elections as issues come before the legislatures, I'm going to get up and fight.

I look forward to engaging in conversations with those of you who are of like mind and those of you who have reasonable disagreements.

It's good to be back in the fight.