The Pictures Tell The Story

Saw these two signs, promoting some prominent Republican candidates, at the new Ashby Ponds polling place:

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Say, is that a Post-It note on the “Plowman” sign? Let’s look closer:

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Yes, it does appear to be a Post-It note. Let’s be sure we can read it:

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Ah, must have been on top of a stack, left for a volunteer. But, is there something hidden immediately behind it? Let’s see:

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My goodness, there’s another sign, covered up by this one. Whose can it be?

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Ah, Republican unity. Charming.

Tom Bellanca Endorses 2015 Candidates

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Tom Bellanca, Independent candidate fpr chair of the Board of Supervisors, has announced his list of endorsed candidates.

Tom Bellanca, running as an Independent for chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, announced his endorsements for Tuesday’s election. Bellanca said:

In the past 12 months and in many cases the past 5-10 years, I’ve gotten to know many of the candidates involved in this local election personally. While there are no candidates I dislike, and most of the candidates can, I believe, do a good job, I believe it necessary to indicate which of those candidates I believe will be and act in the best interests of the residents of the county. For this reason, I am endorsing the following candidates for leadership in our county. I believe these persons to be the best options to lead our county forward in all respects and I hope you will vote for them on Tuesday, November 3, 2015.

Board of Supervisors and Constitutional Officers:
Chairman At Large – Tom Bellanca (I)
Sheriff – Michael Chapman (R)
Commonwealth’s Attorney – Jim Plowman (R)
Clerk of the Court – Gary Clemons (R)
Treasurer – Roger Zurn (R)
Commissioner of the Revenue – Bob Wertz (R)
Ashburn District – Ralph Buona (R)
Sterling District – Koran Saines (D)
Blue Ridge District – Richard Jimmerson (I)
Catoctin District – Craig Green (D)
Dulles District – Matthew F. Letourneau (R)
Algonkian District – Andrew Resnick (D)
Broad Run District – Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R)
Leesburg – Kristen Umstattd (D)

School Board:
At Large – Stephen Knoblock
Algonkian – Ryan Myers
Blue Ridge District – Jill Turgeon
Catoctin District – Dusty Sparrow Reed
Leesburg District – Tom Marshall
Sterling District – Brenda Sheridan
Dulles District – Jeff Morse
Broad Run – Joy Maloney
Ashburn – Eric Hornberger

SCV Opposes Recall of CSA License Tags

In the Deep South of Virginia, in bucolic Brunswick county, the Sons of Confederate Veterans are mounting a simulation of the end of the Civil War, by challenging Gov. McAuliffe’s order recalling Virginia license tags that bear the Sons’ symbol (which is largely the Confederate States of America’s unofficial “battle flag”). The simulation results from the fact that Leonard Tracy Clary (described as the Sons’ “Virginia division commander”) has no chance of winning.

The reason he can’t win is a combination of two facts: first, the Supreme Court has ruled that states have no obligation under the First Amendment to issue tags with symbols on them that the state doesn’t want to issue; second, license tags are state property. In Walker v. Texas, the Supremes ruled that the state (in that case, Texas, but applicably to all states) is speaking when it issues a tag with a symbol on it, and that the state gets to decide what it says. Although all state action is limited by what the constitution (of the state and of the United States) permits, the Supremes observed that government function would be virtually impossible if one were to read the First Amendment in a way that meant the state could not choose to refrain from some speech. As license tags are made and issued by the state, it’s the state’s call as to what they look like and, to the extent that they say anything, it’s the state’s call as to what they say (or don’t say). In other words, your First Amendment right to put a CSA flag sticker on your bumper isn’t equal to a First Amendment right to make the state put a CSA flag symbol on its tags, or even on some of its tags. (I don’t believe the Walker case argued an Equal Protection claim, which would have said that, if Texas puts anyone else’s logo on its tags, it has to put everyone’s logo on some of its tags, but I suspect the outcome would be the same, as long as the Supremes continue to regard those symbols as state, not private, speech.)

Division commander Clary’s claim (from the press reports) appears to be slightly different from Walker’s. Walker argued that his application to have Texas make tags with the logo was denied unconstitutionally. Clary is claiming that, as he already has a tag, Virginia can’t make him give it up. I think this argument is doomed, however, as Clary’s tag is Virginia’s property. Any of us who possesses a Virginia tag can be asked by Virginia to give it back, regardless of the reason. So I don’t think Clary’s case will last very long, much less succeed. I believe one has to pay a small fee to get a tag with a logo on it, so Clary can expect to get his money back. After that, however, I think he’s still got a First Amendment option he can spend that money on, one that ought to have been the way to avoid all this fuss in the first place…

 

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Full-Day Kindergarten Is Democrats’ “Obamacare” For Loudoun County

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With the type of magical thinking that brought us Obamacare, Loudoun County Democrats are promoting full-day kindergarten as a central issue this year, and hoping you don’t think about how it can be paid for.

Here, from commenter vacliff yesterday, is an excellent explanation of the current reality about full-day kindergarten:

…implementing FDK now, with a still massively growing school system, would be a poor use of county funds.

FDK seems to be the mantra that the Dems are hanging their hat on. Yet, to my knowledge, not a single one has explained how to pay for it or what other funding items should be cut to pay for it.

The reality is that it will take tens of millions of dollars to do it, most of which is building the space to put the kids. Should you simply raise taxes to whatever it takes? Even if you support that idea (which I

Kuesters, Maloney, and FDK

If you’re wondering what “FDK” is, read something else. If not, then you know that bringing full-day kindergarten to Loudoun county would cut the list of Virginia jurisdictions that don’t already have it from four down to three, and that doing so has become one of the short list of critical issues in this campaign cycle. Of course, it matters most in the race for school board, where the choice in Broad Run is between the incumbent, Republican-endorsed Kevin Kuesters, and his returning challenger, Democratic-endorsed Joy Maloney.

Here’s the short version: Maloney is solidly in support of FDK, Kuesters thinks it isn’t worth the money.

The longer version is where policy gives way to politics, as both of them know how popular the idea of FDK is in Loudoun county. Thus, for Joy Maloney, the fact that she is with the majority on this issue is something she wants known as widely as it can be. For Kevin Kuesters, the fact that he’s, at the best, on the fence about it, just isn’t going to win him many votes. So, Joy has the relatively easy task of telling voters she will try to get them what they want, while Kevin is stuck trying to look like he’s in favor of something that he actually doesn’t support. And that’s where you find out if a politician will talk straight or not. Alas, Kevin’s not.

Now, for what it’s worth, I get along with Kevin pretty well on a personal basis. He’s a pleasant guy who, with me, proves that two people with opposing political views can be mutually cordial. However, we’ve never run against each other in an election. Joy (who is also a very nice person) has fairly put it out there, in her campaign materials, that Kevin isn’t backing FDK. Here’s one of her flyers:

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And, albeit a bit hard to read (for the lack of a lot of pixels), here’s Kevin’s online denial (from a Facebook ad):

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Let’s blow that up a bit:

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It says, “Joy Maloney’s mailer is dishonest.”

Is it? She does cite a reference. Let’s look at Kevin’s full statement from Ashburn Rising:

I will not support expanding full-day kindergarten just so the third graders reader better,” he said, also requesting more information [from school staff] about benefits in the senior year of high school.

That could be read as leaving him with an open mind, but still in need of convincing. That bit about “third graders” is an example of what we lawyers call “weasel words,” which are qualifiers that let you avoid the hard implications of whatever else it is that you’ve said. But, Kevin’s apologists might jump on the fact that Joy’s mailer kept the definite part (“I will not support expanding full-day kindergarten…”) while leaving out the weasel words. Those words, his apologists might say, make a difference.

Except they don’t and here is why: Kevin made his comment about third-graders in December of last year. In January of this year, in Leesburg Today, he said this:

There is clearly a strong belief that FDK is a valuable and desirable program offering for schools, which is a real benefit for property values. It is also true that FDK assists with childcare expenses and logistics for parents who do not have to arrange for half-day schooling and half-day childcare. On the other hand, research consistently shows that by third grade there is no statistical difference between the academic performances of students who attended FDK versus those who attended half-day kindergarten (except at-risk kids). As a school board member, I have to decide if the actual benefits (perceived value, short-term performance and childcare) outweigh the actual costs ($50 million one-time construction costs, $12 $14 million recurring annual costs).

In other words, Kevin had already made up his mind that his weasel words really didn’t matter. Moreover, he says he has to balance the needs of the students against the impact on the taxpayers. As a former member of the board of supervisors, I can say with certainty that such balancing is not the job of a member of the school board. The school board’s job is to develop a budget that will meet the needs of the students. While the Code of Virginia imposes a duty of frugality on school boards, it does not authorize school boards to knowingly exclude funding a program just to ease the burden imposed on taxpayers. (I will add that a bit of Googling will show you that research on the benefits of FDK are far from consistent in proving what Kevin asserts above: there’s a lot of evidence that FDK, if followed by appropriate first-grade and later curricula, has lasting benefits.)

Bottom line: Joy’s mailer is not dishonest. She’s holding Kevin Kuesters to his own position, which he now knows is not the one that the voters want him to take. Dirty politics is what you get when people make stuff up, lie about their opponents, or attack each other’s character. Joy’s mailer is as clean as it gets. Kevin may wish he’d said something else, but it’s the political process doing its job (and a political candidate doing hers) when all a campaign is doing is holding an elected official accountable for his public record.

Joy Maloney supports FDK. Kevin Kuesters doesn’t. That’s as clean as it gets.

 

King Vs York, A Tale Of Two Wagers

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In the battle of wagers, Scott York comes out looking prescient regarding the Republican electorate.

No one knows what’s going to happen in the Loudoun County elections on Tuesday, as is always the case, because there is almost never any polling conducted. In the race for chair of the Board of Supervisors, predictions are particularly hard because four people are running, two of whom are Independents and likely to cut into whatever party loyalty might exist in 2015.

Both Republican Charlie King and Independent Scott York took the leap of faith every would-be candidate must make prior to tossing their hats in the ring, but they’ve each taken a further risk in their respective approaches during the campaign.

York’s wager was an obvious one, in retrospect, but still a gamble at the time: With overwhelming name recognition throughout Loudoun County, and a reputation for being on the preservationist side of the question of development in the West, he decided to make a strong play for Republican votes by immediately endorsing a number of Republican candidates.

York had most recently won office after joining the Republican ticket in 2011, riding the wave of a Republican sweep of county offices. As an Independent in 2015, he sought a different wave: of dissatisfaction among the Republican rank-and-file, and willingness to reject party authority.

In case you hadn’t seen the news lately, this turns out to be a most excellent year in terms of Republican willingness to reject party authority. If there were ever a year for banking on voters to defy the local Republican Party and their “pledge,” 2015 is that year. Kudos must go to Scott York for reading the tea leaves correctly, and discerning from the temperament of the electorate following the Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC) convention that there might have been dissension in the ranks afterwards. One of York’s endorsements was of Republican Sheriff Mike Chapman, who prevailed in a primary contest at the convention.

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Steve Simpson (L) and Charlie King had what appeared to be a joint PR effort to reduce the authority of Mike Chapman’s Sheriff’s Office.

Which brings us to Charlie King’s wager. King faced a tough situation already, before York even joined the race, because a vocal part of King’s support came from a faction of the LCRC which worked to defeat Sheriff Chapman before the convention, and afterward lauded in social media and elsewhere the fact that Steve Simpson was jumping from the Republican fold to run as an Independent against Chapman. The, uh, “pledge” be damned.

If anyone had a stake in the generic concept of Republican loyalty and keeping the pledge, it was Charlie King. But right off the bat, an influential part of the LCRC said, in effect, “we don’t need no stinking pledge, voting for Independent candidates is ok,” their celebratory fist bumps became roundhouses to King’s face, and into that Perot-sized opening stepped Scott York.

How would King respond? Well, interestingly. In a campaign that has been absent prominent discussion of major issues, and in which the King campaign has garnered very few headlines in the local news for taking a stance on policy matters, King apparently decided last month to take a virtual jab at Sheriff Chapman by calling for creation of a county police department. That actually may be the only issue-oriented headline King has gotten this year. Scott York weighed in to correct King’s assertion that the idea had not been sufficiently explored, and to educate King about the fact that the bigger decision would be changing Loudoun County’s form of government (an odd oversight on King’s part).

Steve Simpson, for his part, quickly joined in with what appeared a lot like a tag-team effort against Chapman.

In terms of public perception, the notion that Charlie King was part of the “Steve Simpson wing of the LCRC” was not repudiated, to say the least: King seems to be wagering he can pull maximum votes from the anti-Chapman Republicans, tick off the other half of the local Republican electorate, and still pull out a win in the general election.

King is a smart man and he does seem to understand politics, but one can be forgiven for questioning his math.

Sterling Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio and Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman both campaigned actively against Mike Chapman back in April, before the convention, but since then have said nary a word about the race for sheriff and certainly nothing publicly to disparage Chapman. Both men might have believed they had some political capital to burn in opposing a popular Republican sheriff.

We can’t know how Republican or Independent voters have been influenced by these political maneuvers, if at all. We can’t even say if it will matter in the end: The big winner from the battle between King and York for Republican votes could be the Democratic candidate, Phyllis Randall. If she holds onto the majority of Democratic votes, and makes some inroads with Independents, and York and King split their voters somewhat evenly, Randall could emerge with a plurality.

Two factors point to King ending up on the losing side of his wager (which, for the record, I don’t want to see happen – Charlie King would make a great chair of the Loudoun Board).

First, York absolutely crushed the competition in fundraising. York lapped the field by raising more than his three opponents’ combined totals so far. But more importantly, York seems to have taken a huge share of potential Republican dollars. Charlie King raised less than $50,000, on top of $28,000 in loans to himself. Scott York raised quadruple that amount even as a very late entrant to the campaign. In fact, nine of the district supervisor candidates raised more money than King.

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The message of King’s campaign in the final week is that he is the “Republican” candidate.

Second, King’s promotional campaign, which seems to have begun last week (at least at this Sterling household), appears to acknowledge that he’s Republican-challenged. The message of his mail pieces is that Charlie King is THE Republican in the race, in case you didn’t know.

A robo-call from Ken Cuccinelli this morning had the same message, and “Republican Charlie King” seems, along the lines of “Pistol Pete Maravich” or “Broadway Danny Rose,” like the drumbeat phrase we are supposed to internalize in the final week of the campaign.

Which is all fine and good, and probably necessary, especially when one of the King campaign’s most resonant public statements of the past two months was for a position opposed by our Republican sheriff, and supported by the Independent and Democratic candidates for sheriff. In a year when voters seem more than willing to thumb their noses at the party anyway, King has to hope he is the one to inspire loyalty among Loudoun County Republicans.

Jebbie, We Hardly Knew Ye

Jeb Bush Boring Supporters
Jeb! (which in Spanish means “Wake Up!”) was chosen as Jeb Bush’s campaign theme because “Me!” sounded too vague and “Blah!” too edgy.

Jeb Bush is toast, the annointing is canceled, because after his disastrous debate performance the other night, all those rich people who wasted millions of dollars on his presidential campaign will decide to do something more useful with their remaining cash, like burning it in the backyard to make s’mores.

Anyone not from Florida may wonder what all the fuss is about, and most of those in Florida are probably nodding sagely and saying “Yeah, we could have told you he did not have that much going on upstairs.” The only people troubled or vexed by Bush’s humiliating implosion will be the few, the shallow, the bandwagon-jumping political establishment and consulting class folks who saw patronage and paychecks in them thar legendary hills of Tallahassee.

Politics, which can be defined as a jobs program for blabbermouths, provides speaking opportunities for people whose minds are not sharp enough to normally merit anyone paying attention to what they say.

Many of the blowhards in politics are in it for one thing and that is to draw a paycheck. Of the rest, most seek ego fulfillment, which may seem to us a thin motivation, but when a very rich person is trying to upgrade from a great yacht to a better yacht, and something gets in the way of that purchase, you’ll see how big a factor mere ego can be. Political careerists will say ANYTHING to keep hold of the power position that delivers the cash or recognition they so desperately need. A few people thereby occupy positions of policy influence for years and years, solely because they can work the system.

In addition to all the economic and social destruction delivered by our oligarchic government, they irritate us to no end. We are a nation of spectators, which probably is not so great from the standpoint of personal life value, but no one can deny we the people can set a high bar for entertainment. So when a politician is boring, it pains us. Because Person A is in politics – either as an office seeker or a political consultant or an “expert” commentator – Persons B through ZZZ are often forced to listen. This is annoying for the listeners, particularly when the yammerers are spouting formulaic nonsense, as they so often do.

But that is how Jeb Bush became a “frontrunner” in the Republican presidential primary before any polls were taken and Bush’s only recent accomplishment had been the trail of dozing millennials left behind his every public appearance.

(Full disclosure: Jeb Bush’s mother says he’s not boring.)

Thus, when an opportunity arises to shut the doofuses up, to mute the speakers, to draw the curtains, well, gosh darn it, people really love that sort of thing.

Now, we’ve seen all of the “Bush dynasty” that we will ever likely see. What the hacks have lost is America’s gain, and worth savoring, because chances to derail another ensconcing are few and far between. The ruling class generally does not tolerate opposition, and that is why every Cantor-ization is so treasured, and why a Donald Trump who thumbs his nose at both the Party and the Media Commentariat brings such joy to the commoners.

Bruce Lee once said the focus of life should not be on increasing what we can take on, but decreasing distractions – “hacking away” at non-essentials. That’s advice we should especially heed today, with so many voices coming at us from so many directions. As we close the chapter on Jeb! our lives will actually get better.

Questions Before The Elections: Loudoun Democrats At Odds In Sterling

Eugene Delgaudio Sterling Boulevard
Eugene Delgaudio’s campaign won the Sterling “sign wars” and may be about to win an historic fifth term in office.

Every four years, Loudoun County Democrats try to defeat Sterling District Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, a Republican, and every four years for the last sixteen they’ve managed to fail despite massive pre-election bluster and fulminations. This year, a rumor has been circulating in Sterling that the Democrats are not entirely united behind Delgaudio’s opponent, Koran Saines – which raises the question, yet again: Are the Democrats really intent on removing Delgaudio?

That question took on new salience in Sterling the night before last, in a mass email from one of our most well-known local Democrats, a self-identified “longtime Sterling District community and political advocate,” who stated:

Ethics, accountability, community loyalty, and leadership qualities are what I look for in our political leaders. With that said, I strongly support and endorse the eleven (11) candidates below…

The endorsements included many local Democrat office seekers – Randall, Umstattd, Ohneiser, Boysko, Liz Miller, Bell, Murphy, Wexton, Favola – and two running for the non-political offices, Flannery and Sheridan.

Missing was any endorsement in the Sterling District, certainly a significant omission on this person’s list, in the same sense that a missing roof would be a significant omission on a new home.

There was, however, this “note” in small print beneath the letter, “I also encourage you to vote against the current Sterling District Supervisor, Eugene Delgaudio.”

The loyal Democrat felt compelled to state opposition to Delgaudio, without quite being able to identify Delgaudio’s opponent by name. (Which would leave open the option of Sterling Democrats casting a write-in vote).

I don’t know what the problem is with Koran Saines: Having met him, I find him to be an intelligent fellow, not as ideological as you’d expect from a Democrat, and running a decent, albeit quiet, campaign. There has been the traditional dust-up between campaigns over “sign wars,” with Delgaudio claiming on social media that Saines’ campaign is stealing Delgaudio’s campaign signs – although riding around Sterling, one gets the impression Delgaudio has won the sign wars once again.

But whatever is going on on the Democrat side, if there are hard feelings – if Koran Saines or his campaign have appeared untrustworthy or lacking in “ethics, accountability, community loyalty, and leadership qualities” – the Democrats are going to have a tough time defeating a savvy and tireless campaigner like Delgaudio. The Republican seems to thrive on retail politics and will have made an extraordinary amount of personal, direct contact with voters by the time the polls open on Tuesday.

I speculated years ago that if Loudoun County Democrats did not have Eugene Delgaudio, they would have to invent him, because they get so much traction from his statements …. his statements outside the boardroom, that is. His day job as a nationally-known conservative activist is what gets all the attention from his partisan opponents. That Delgaudio makes great fodder for media grandstanding and fundraising letters. His voting record, however, is what you would expect from a Republican: not particularly radical, nor surprising. As an office holder, Delgaudio is a known quantity who everyone admits does care about Sterling and works hard for the district.

And maybe some Democrats are deciding, as many Sterling voters have done for 16 years, that the Delgaudio they know is preferable to a candidate they are not sure about.

More Powerful People Agree: Ryan’s Hypocrisy Good For Them

The utter inanity of suggesting that Paul Ryan’s insistence that he be allowed all the family time he wants, as a condition of being Speaker (when he has consistently opposed parental leave) is somehow good for working parents (particularly moms) is earning the criticism it deserves. See, when a very, very powerful person demands an accommodation like that, he (or she) can get it. Thus, when other very, very powerful people (like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg) say that a very, very powerful person’s ability to obtain an accommodation like that somehow strikes a blow for the rank-and-file working class, it proves they all live in an alternate universe, where the powerful believe their privileges were earned, and the powerless have only themselves to blame.

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Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg

If Paul Ryan wanted to use this moment to earn some valid praise, he should declare himself willing to reconsider his views on parental leave, now that he’s finally aware that asking for it is justified, but getting it isn’t as easy for the rest of us as it is for the Speaker of the House. He won’t, of course, but, oh, if he did!