Friday, October 28, 2011

Ten things that are plucking my last nerve

On Facebook, I usually call this "Things I Hate." But I'll try to confine myself to political topics here and we'll just say these are things that are on my nerves, as the 2011 campaign rushes to a close and the 2012 presidential election kicks into gear.

1. The assertion, generally by Republicans, that a requirement to bring photo ID to the polls has something to do with curbing "voter fraud."  One candidate even said in debate the other night that voter fraud was on the rise in Virginia. When asked to provide an example he, of course, could not. Look, you don't steal an election where the votes are cast, you steal it where the votes are counted. Anybody who gave this issue about ten seconds of thought would realize you can't fix an election by voting fake voters. It's too cumbersome, requires too many people to be in on the scheme. It's a silly idea. We've had three presidential elections in this country that might have been stolen -- 1880, 1960 and 2000. If they were, they were all stolen after the polls closed. So, when Republicans get serious about voting machines with computer software that can't be easily hacked and paper trails to allow an accurate recount, I'll believe they care about "voter fraud." Until then, they're just trying to suppress the vote.

2. Stupid campaign charges. I've got to call out Sen. John Miller's campaign on this one. Miller (D-1st), who's been accused of having a conflict of interest for taking a job with a local aviation company after voting for a bill that gave them a tax break, accused his Republican opponent Mickey Chohany of having a bigger conflict. The issue? That Chohany twice voted for street improvements on the street where his restaurant is located. Look, I've been in that business, I understand "Deny, deny and make counter accusations," but make them sensible. The street improvements were included in packages of citywide street projects that were recommended by the city administration, not Chohany. It's like saying a City Council member has a conflict because he votes to repave every street in the city, including the one he lives one. For the record, the allegation against Miller is more serious. I don't think it rises to the Phil Hamilton level of a violation of the conflict of interest laws that needs to be prosecuted. There's no evidence of quid pro quo. At the same time, it looks bad and -- if in my opinion -- he shouldn't have done it.

3. Republican presidential debates. The only person more exhausted than I am by the multitude of debates is apparently Rick Perry. I might join him in his resolve to ignore some of them. Of course that won't have the consequences for me that it will for him. If you can't win a debate against Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann, you aren't going to stand much of a chance against Barack Obama.

4. The way some people who cheered on the Tea Party rallies last year, mock the Occupy Wall Street rallies this year. And, I suppose, vice versa. Before the Tea Party got co-opted by the Republican Party, it expressed a lot of the same populist outrage that Occupy Wall Street does. In my view, this is a country long in need of a little healthy populist outrage. The nightmare of the powers-that-be is that the Occupy Wall Street folks and the Tea Partiers might realize that they're mad at some of the same people. That graphic going around the Internet isn't a total joke; there is an intersection of interest between the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street around the too chummy relationship between government and business.

5. Michele Bachmann. Voice like a razor blade, crazy eyes and crazier ideas. Come back, Sarah Palin, all is forgiven.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

The end of Republicans as we have known them?

Former Williamsburg City Councilman Mickey Chohany is facing off against incumbent Democratic Senator John Miller for the 1st District seat in this fall's elections.

There are a lot of things you can say about Chohany as a candidate. Based on recent debate performances, you might say he's not ready for prime time. You might say he's a stalking horse for Sen. Tommy Norment (R-3rd) and that if he's elected Norment will effectively have two votes in the Senate. (Although if we were going to give a Republican senator two votes, I'd argue that Norment -- who at least understands the importance of governance -- isn't a bad choice. I'd rather he had two votes than Sen. Steve Newman.).

But the odd thing that some people are saying about Chohany is that he's RINO (Republican In Name Only).

I'm not sure on what basis anybody is saying this. Is it guilt by association because he's an ally of Norment, who has also been called a RINO?

Because, on the issues, Chohany seems to meet all the Republican litmus tests. He's pro-life, pro-gun and anti-tax. He's tried a straddle on gay rights, but it's the same straddle that Virginia Republicans, and voters, let Gov. Bob McDonnell get away with.

Are guns or abortion what got Chohany (or Norment) into politics? No. But that doesn't mean they aren't Republicans.

This stupidity has gone so far that some in the right-wing blogosphere are calling for a write-in campaign for Tricia Stall. In case you don't remember Ms. Stall, she's a right-wing Republican who took out another "RINO", Sen. Marty Williams in a primary in 2007 only to lose to Miller in the general election. She lost that election in a 1st District that was far more Republican than the current configuration. Tricia Stall not only has no chance to win as a write-in, she couldn't win if she was on the ballot. She couldn't come close. A vote for her is a vote for John Miller.

Chohany might win. More likely, given the nature of the district now, he won't  But at least he stands a chance.

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