Monday, August 31, 2009

Has Virginia really "rejected" Bob McDonnell? Really?

Creigh Deeds' campaign has produced a new ad that tries to link Bob McDonnell's business acumen and strategies with George W. Bush, claiming that McDonnell is adopting the former president's economic policies which played a part in the current recession. The ad states that Virginia has "rejected" both Bush and McDonnell.

There's only one problem with that assertion: it's completely false.

Virginia has not rejected Bob McDonnell any more than he has molded himself to Bush's philosophies. In the past two weeks, no fewer than four of Virginia's most prominent business and economic organizations have given their endorsement to the McDonnell-Bolling ticket. Most recently was the Virginia chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. For those who don't know, this is the leading small business association in the Commonwealth, with almost 6,000 small businesses across Virginia as members. They are a non-profit and non-partisan organization, and their endorsement is basically a statement that this is the candidate who will keep Virginia as a national leader in securing and creating jobs in the small business arena; and, as Bob himself said, "small business owners are the engine that drives our economy."
Before the NFIB endorsement came the endorsement of the Virginia Credit Union League. This is an organization that represents almost two hundred not-for-profit credit unions in Virginia, as well as 3 million member-owners living in the Commonwealth. Before that, it was the Virginia Association of Realtors. Two of the largest contributing factors to the recession have been credit woes and the housing market; and now, Virginia's largest credit and realty associations have selected Bob McDonnell as the candidate who can best help us recover in those areas.

One of the most impressive endorsements, of course, has to be from AgPAC, the political action committee of the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. Agriculture and forestry combined contribute around $79 billion to Virginia's economy and provide more than 10% of our jobs. This makes agriculture and forestry the number one industry in Virginia; and the Farm Bureau, with over 147,000 members statewide, has chosen Bob McDonnell to keep it that way.

This is all within the last two weeks, of course. The McDonnell campaign has been collecting endorsements for months now, including the endorsement of Sheila Crump Johnson, a Virginia resident and one of the founders of Black Entertainment Television, which I reported on last month. With two months to go before the election, it's clear to me that not only has Virginia not rejected Bob McDonnell, but rather that it has thoroughly embraced him for what he will be: a jobs governor.

I posted a month ago about Deed's "Obama problem", how he was campaigning just a little too much like our current president had last summer. Running against Bush won't work in Virginia; not because the former president was popular here or because we're more conservative than liberal, but because Virginians want more than partisan bickering. We want answers; we want solutions; and we want candidates who will spell out exactly how they intend to provide them. Bob McDonnell does exactly that, while Creigh Deeds seems content to settle into a "them against us" style of campaigning. If anything, that is what Virginians have rejected.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Are you now, or have you ever been, a critic of the current administration?

You know, I thought it was bad enough when the Department of Homeland Security, under the leadership of Secretary Janet Napolitano, issued a report declaring opposition to the president's agenda an indication of rightwing extremism. Simply opposing abortion, handgun restrictions, or the president's economic policies would be "harmful" to the country, the report stated.

But now, instead of ostensibly putting police and other law enforcement officials on the alert for potential domestic terrorists, the administration is enlisting every citizen from sea to shining sea to monitor casual conversations and emails for any hint of opposition to the president's health care reform.

First of all, I don't know why they bother to call it the president's plan. He has yet to put forth a comprehensive reform plan, and, as far as can be determined, has not even read any of Congress' plans in their entirety. Still, to be fair, he has yet to break any promises that he's made on health care reform, and he's more than entitled to defend his positions.

On the other hand, instead of calling on Congress to not send him any bills containing provisions that would run contrary to his pledges (which has resulted in several draft bills that do run contrary to those pledges), he's calling on the public at large to be his eyes and ears, to report on our neighbors, our family members, and even the stranger on the street. His administration claims they just want to counter any misinformation that may arise about health care reform; but couldn't such a goal be accomplished far better by issuing talking points that would (theoretically) refute the "misinformation"? Why not just do what the president does best, which is apparently to sell his plans to the American public? TV lights get a little hot after a while, I suppose.

There's even the question of whether or not it's even legal for the White House to issue this call. reports that, rather than merely being a potential violation of our First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom to protest, the White House may be in violation of federal law:

U.S. Code: Title 5,552a.

“maintain no record describing how any individual exercises rights guaranteed by the First Amendment unless expressly authorized by statute or by the individual about whom the record is maintained or unless pertinent to and within the scope of an authorized law enforcement activity.”

Now, will the administration be violating the law if they don't actually keep records of the citizens who speak against health care reform? I don't know; I'm not a lawyer. But I do know that this ... is ... wrong.

Richard Nixon was famous for, among other things, saying "When the president does it, it's not illegal". I sincerely doubt that President Obama wants to follow the example of the only president forced to resign over a scandal that involved monitoring private citizens. He'd do well to print a retraction on the White House website; he won't, but he should.

And we should all feel free to continue opposing his agenda.