The Commonwealth Iconoclast

A site dedicated to covering issues relevant to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and nation at large, plus other interesting things too, as I see fit...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Chavez: A champion of America's poor?

Here's a good story that I just ran across - Hugo Chavez - Pat Robertson's arch nemesis and President of oil rich Venezuela - wants to sell "cut-price heating oil to U.S. poor".

This is getting more hilarious with each passing day. It appears that Chavez wants to sell heating oil directly to America's poor. According to the article the "details" of how this would be accomplished would be worked out later. Therefore will Chavez become a champion of the poor in America as he has in Venezuela? Of course the always media hungry Jesse Jackson is presently in Venezuela promoting this idea with Chavez.

Trust me, this isn't going to happen even if George Bush and Dick Cheney have to personally sit at a port in Houston and dump out every barrel of oil earmarked by Chavez to America's poor into the Gulf of Mexico. Let's just give a big collective"thank you" to Pat Robertson for making Chavez's name vernacular, and thus creating an opportunity for Chavez to show the rest of America what a lot of oil, and good old fashion populism can do.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Get a gun in his hand!

Yesterday, Tim Kaine, in support of his "Sportsman for Kaine" did a little skeet shooting in Franklin County (hitting 14 of 25 clays, not too bad I must say) Of course, as you can see from the article the NRA was quick to point out that Kaine's attempt to "hug a shotgun" is nothing more than a machination, and if elected Kaine will personally be going door to door to collect uncle Billy Bob's beloved 20 guage shotgun. Nothing against Billy Bob, it's just all in the name of public safety.

Look I grew up in rural Virginia, I"ll talk guns all day with you. But the NRA is nothing more than an extention of the radical right element of the republican party. Unless a democratic canidate is willing to go down to the local elementary shcool and hand out Teck-9s to the kids, the best any non-republican can hope to achieve is for the NRA not to endorse a candiate - as in the case of Mark Warner vs. Mark Early in Virginia's 2001 gubernatorial race. Of course rebluplicans and democrats view a non-endorsement by the NRA as a de facto endorsement for the democratic candidate...confused yet?

Now I know Kaine as Mayor of the City of Richmond implemented Project Exile. As I understand Exile works somethng like this: if a convicted felon is caught with a illegal gun (since it is illegal for convicted felons to own guns) he/she receives a 5-year mandatory federal prison sentence. Seems fair enought to me, since gun rights advocates are always saying they are "law abiding gun owners" (which the overwhelming majority are), then they surely don't have a problem with Exile, since it's targeted towards "non law abiding gun owners". Yea, right, wouldn't it be nice if it were that easy. That would be too practical, and as in the case of the NRA politics trump practicality, or as in the case of project Exile public safety. (Note: I'm having a difficult time finding the NRA's offical stance on Project Exile, but it is accurate to suggest that a significant number of NRA members are opposed to Exile)

An even better recent example of the NRA putting polictics above practicality was the NRA's snub of Ohio congressional canidate Paul Hackett. The U.S Marine Corps officer Hackett, is a "card carrying member" of the NRA, an even has a concealed weapons permit in Ohio. Whereas his oppenent had niether, but according to the NRA had a "proven track record as a sate legislator for gun rights" - ok, fair enough - so I guess this too would be a situation for a "non endorsement", right? Wrong. Of course Hackett's lemming for an opponent received the endorsement. Who knows if this endorsement really translated into many votes for Hackett's opponent. What it does show me is that the NRA is more intersted in republican politics, with rare exceptions, then they are gun rights.

Here's an idea - how about we let Kaine and Kilgore "shoot it out" for the NRA endorsement?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Robertson apologizes, well sort of...

Yesterday Pat issued a half-ass apology for calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. His apology went something like "I know it's a slow news cycle in August, but I'm sorry for calling for the assassination of Venezuela's Dictator Hugo Chavez..." As I see it, by calling Chavez a "Dictator" (which I'm not aware of too many dictators that were democratically elected) he is essentially trying to suggest that even a "low life" worm like Chavez doesn't deserve to be murdered. Regardless of what you think of Chavez, he is legitimately elected, period. Therefore the term "dictator" does not apply.

So what's next for Robertson and the radical right element of the republican party? Will they continue to issues "fatawas" calling for the murder of foreign heads of state? Or will they start turning their focus closer to home? Call me crazy, but just maybe Americans will be next? Could you see Pat and his devout followers praying for the assassination of Hillary Clinton? Unless of course she is running for President against John McCain, and then Robertson could call for the assassination of both Clinton and McCain.

Is it just me or is it incomprehensible that a "man of god"would EVER go on TV and call the for the murder of a foreign leader, or anyone for that matter? Hopefully we are living in the "high water mark" for the radical religious right in our country, but is it really too far of a stretch to think that they (Dobson, Robertson, Falwell, et. al) will eventually advocate violence against Americans? Especially if the political tides start to shift in favor of a more moderate or even (gasp) liberal direction?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Ok, this is getting old...

Another day, another Pat Robertson story. Ok, my blog is turning into a 24 hours Pat watch - so be it. This morning a new story involving the pious Virginia Beach preacher - but this time he's not pimping diet shakes, instead he's on air calling for the assassination of Venezuela's democratically elected President, Hugo Chavez. How Christian of him.

I'm not a Latin American geopolitical expert, but I have been to Venezuela, and know a bit about the Country. My assessment is that for the most part Chavez is a nut and an agitator, but he is democratically elected - and Chavez has attempted to address the extreme poverty that exists in his nation. Thus, endearing him to the millions of impoverished Venezuelans.

Chavez knows that "drumming up" anti-American sentiments within his Country is a cheap and easy way to score with some, thus this is likely why he is so hostile towards Washington. Not to mention that in 2002 Bush and company were suspected of engineering the one day coup that forced Chavez from office for a short time.

Though Venezuelans opposed to Chavez's rule claim he is not legitimately elected, there is no evidence that suggest this (or at least from legitimate sources). So regardless of you what you think of Chavez, you have to just live with it. (Just like we have to somehow live with the results from Florida in 2000 - which in my opinion would make election officials in Zimbabwe proud, anyway....)

Remember though, Robertson is not opposed to dictators or "rogue" leaders. For instance he strongly supported the Presidency of Liberia's Charles Taylor, the blood thirsty genocidal maniac who is wanted for human rights violations. Of course Robertson's support for Taylor had nothing to do with their joint gold mine venture.

Ok, I think you get the picture. We'll just have to wait and see what Pat comes up with tomorrow. This guy is starting to loose his cookies fast, he's starting to become the "Jimmy the Greek" of the televangelist world. I can't hardly wait to see what he says next...

Monday, August 22, 2005

Pat's diet shakes

Here's a good article that appeared in the Richmond-Times Dispatch this morning; Republican activist/entrepreneur/TV minister Pat Robertson is being criticized by the Trinity Foundation (a nonprofit religious media watchdog organization) for pimping his line of "diet shakes" on his daily right-wing propaganda/infomercial TV show known as the "700 Club".

Essentially the Trinity Foundation is questioning if the practice of selling miracle diet plans (appropriately named "Pat's age-defying shake") is an appropriate activity for a nonprofit religious organization. I would say probably no more appropriate than a TV minister owning diamond/gold mines in Africa (see previous post) - which the Trinity Foundation has criticized Robertson for in the past.

Ok, so there we have it - another day, another story about my favorite right-wing millionaire minister from the Commonwealth. Not only does Pat get to make millions in the name of the lord, or in this case diet shakes, but he gets to do it tax free, and receive federal transportation funds for his future real estate development. Man, the federal government has been awfully good to Pat. I guess I'm in the wrong business.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Attack of the paranoid suburanites in Roanoke County

I an article appearing this morning in the Roanoke Times, several hundred Roanoke County residents showed up last night at a Board of Supervisors' meeting to oppose the conversion of an existing 504 unit apartment complex into low income housing. Of course, all in the name of property values.

The existing apartment complex, known as "San Souci" - pronounced San Shoo-She, or as I use to call it when I lived in Roanoke, San White trashy- would receive a considerable upgrade, which it appears to be in dire need of, and then rented to low to moderate income residents.

Having worked in the field of development for a few years, adjacent residents (in this case upper income white folks) would have likely been opposed to anything that could have conceivable been developed there - even if the developer would have proposed to tear down the aging apartment complex and build $300, 000 McMansions. It's just the nature of the beast, people oppose anything and everything.

In this case, residents from the County near and far appear to be united in their fear and disdain for poor folks. After all, they will likely increase crime, go to their schools, and destroy the upgraded property once the keys are handed over to them. Though unspoken, these new residents will likely be, well of a different color too.

Since I am somewhat familiar with this particular aging apartment complex I can tell you it (San Souci) is already a low/moderate income housing development. But by County officials calling the proposed development as a future "low income" housing development, they might as well have called it "a welfare crack haven with a disproportional number of young disenfranchised urban dwellers that will destroy all that you worked so hard to obtain" housing. Really. Who cares if the development might be full of grandmothers living social security check to social security check, or the fact that there is no evidence that low income housing diminishes the value of adjacent properties.

Regardless, Roanoke County invited trouble by stating that this new development would be for "low income" residents. Instead a more benign term - such as "affordable units/housing" might have been more palatable to nearby residents. Still, being poor in some parts just isn't acceptable. Isn't that why there are Cities in the Commonwealth?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Henrico's $50 laptop give away turns into riot...

Ok, this is funny - Henrico County, Virginia a few years ago began issuing laptops computers to all students (5th grade and up) in the County. Considering that Henrico has a population of 250,000 +, you could imagine that Henrico has a lot of laptops sitting around. I even had the pleasure of using one of Henrico's laptops while living in Richmond, because my wife worked for the school system. Nice!

Well a few weeks ago Henrico decided that it needed to dump off a few laptops, and it would simply "give" them away to the general public for the mere price of $50. That's a hell of a deal, even if a 5th grader used if for two years before you.

I remember saying to my wife that maybe we should drive down to Richmond and get in line in order to get one the day they go on sale, but obviously others had that in mind too. Shortly after announcing the laptop sale, the County's leadership quickly changed their minds and limited the purchase of the laptops to Henrico County residents only - so you had to bring a valid drivers license, voter registration card, ect. in order to be eligible.

So the sale took place today at the Richmond International Speedway in Henrico. Well, loads of people turned out, and a virtual riot ensued. Today, the story even made the front page of It was so bad that even a few old people and kids were trampled by the laptop hungry mob. Awesome!

Maybe the next time that Henrico deceides to do something philanthropic - such as give away used laptops - I have a few suggestions: 1) sell the merchandise at a reasonable rate, say $200 or something, in order to ensure that every degenerate from a 50 mile radius does not show up. Not only will you sell all the laptops, but you'll also make 4 times the loot. 2) why not just offer to sell the laptops to the students who used them? Seems logical to me.

It will be interesting to see how the County handles the next laptop sell.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Fulk Campaign: "Laziness will kill you dead"

"Laziness will kill you dead" is an expression that I first heard used by the mother of a college buddy of mine several years ago. I think that this expression should be communicated to who or whomever is handling democratic candidate Lowell Fulk's campaign for the 26th Delegate seat.

Here's a brief description of the situation: Since the announcement by the republican incumbent, Glen Weatherholtz, that he would retire after 2005 from his seat, a relatively competitive race is developing for his vacant seat between Fulk, and the republican nominee Matt Lohr. Considering that Fulk narrowly lost to the incumbent Weatherholtz in the last election, Fulk has to be feeling pretty good about his chances this time. Even in the republican dominated 26th district.

Regardless of who wins the race, it will likely be a major upgrade for the residents of the 26th district. I've only lived in the area for a short time, but I've heard from both republican and democrats that Weatherholtz appeared to be a boarder line incompetent legislator/person.

So back to the campaign. In my Harrisonburg neighborhood several Matt Lohr yard signs started appearing (maybe three?), so I thought to myself maybe I should call the Fulk campaign and see if I could get a few yard signs. I'll put one in my yard and then do a little canvassing of the neighborhood and find some other Fulk friendly houses and ask them if it would be OK to put a sign in their yard too. Also, over the course of the last few years I've become familiar with democratic friendly households (previous elections), so this will be my little contribution to Fulk's campaign - you get the idea. It's a small gesture, but this is a delegate race too. I mean isn't this the essence of such an election?

Therefore I decided to contact the Fulk campaign and set up a time or place where I could pick up some of his gear, and then do my thing. So I called the number that Fulk listed on his web site as "contact the campaign". OK, I called and left a message, once, twice, three times, Ok no one is calling me back! I even left multiple messages telling them what I was doing, and what I would need. Still no call back! Wow! So then I tried the Democratic Party of Rockingham. Same result.

I then decided to try a little experiment. You've got it, I contacted the Lohr campaign - once again through the number listed in his web site- bingo, two hours later I'm called right back. Wow, real, real depressing. Good job Lohr, you just might want this election after all!

Ok, so what does all this mean? Well probably nothing, I'll still vote for Fulk, but let's just say every time I pass a Lohr sign I don't get quite as motivated to campaign for Fulk, and can you blame me? My suggestion to Fulk is if you're going to list someone as a point of contract for you campaign, be damn sure they actually do something, it's obvious that Lohr must have thought of this minor detail when selecting a point of contact for his campaign.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Senator Warner in Staunton....

Yesterday, the local news reported on a visit by U.S. Senator John Warner to Staunton. Warner, the senior Senator from the Commonwealth, is generally well liked for his moderate approach to politics. I too, generally have a favorable opinion of Senator Warner. Senator Warner appears to prefer statesmanship, whereas his Senate counterpart, Senator Allen, appears to prefer fierce partisanship.

During the summer recess, Senator Warner is doing a bit of traveling around the Commonweath in order to catch up with his constituents. Therefore, yesterday Senator Warner was in Staunton. Here's the catch: I was shocked to hear that Warner's visit to Staunton was his first since the 1970s. Wow!

In defense of Warner, it's apparent that neglecting to visit the "Queen City" (with a population of 25,000 +/-) has obviously not been a detriment to his reelection bids. Regardless, I still feel that if you showed a picture of Senator Warner to 25 random people - in any city/place in the Commonwealth - maybe 5 would could identify him as "some politician from Virginia", maybe? I guess that's what living for 30 plus years inside the beltway will do for you.

As I see it, Warner's future as a Senator is likely coming to an end in 2008. If Mark Warner fails to capture the democratic nomination for the Presidency, or a VP spot, then he'll likely refocus his attention on Senator Warner's Senate seat, which will be up for grabs in 2008 as well. If it does indeed "play out" this way, this time Mark Warner would probably be assured a victory. Therefore I wouldn't be too surprised if sometime in 2007/early 2008 Senator Warner announces his retirement, but this too will be contingent upon the fate of the Commonwealth's other Warner.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Virginia Beach's Highway to Heaven

Another day, another story about Virginia Beach's minister/republican activists/entrepreneur Pat Robertson. Today in the Virginia-Pilot (that's a newspaper) an article detailed how Mr. Robertson's donations to the GOP has resulted in 10.8 million dollars of federal transportation funds for an exit leading to City Line Road. This road would lead to Robertson's proposed mixed-use real estate development in Virginia Beach.

The development of City Line Road, which does not exist at this very moment (minor detail), would be a yellow brick road leading to Robertson's real estate cash cow, paved at taxpayers' expense. Unfortunately, Pat gets to keep all the profits!

Allegiance to George Allen and the GOP has its benefits, big time. And to think, all of this for a mere $16,000 in offerings to the GOP. Hell, that's a divine return. Maybe Robertson should also open up a bank in his new development?