Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Definition of Juvenile

What do college freshmen who sit outside the cafeteria line and hold up rating cards for young women as they exit the line with their trays and Not Larry Sabato have in common?

They define juvenile, i.e., "displaying or suggesting a lack of maturity."

At the risk of being accused of lacking a sense of humor, I have to say that the NLS contest to rate the "hottest" woman candidate or wife of a candidate is demeaning.

The contest equates the women leaders who run for office with the supporting cast of spouses who help men run and reduces both to unwilling beauty queens. The contest diminishes the victories of successful candidates like Anne Crockett-Starke. And, the contest illustrates the double-binds that women who seek to lead confront. Can one be both feminine and competent? See, Women and Leadership: Beyond the Double Binds by Kathleen Hall Jamieson for more on this subject.

Virginia is in the bottom ten of all states in the percentage of women in our legislature. In part, this is because of the double standard women confront when they seek to serve us as part-time citizen legislators. If they are single, they must put up with rumors about their sexuality. If they are attractive, they must put up with rumors about who they are sleeping with. If they have small children, they are attacked for putting themselves first and worst.

Men, e.g., Mark Earley and Bob Marshall, have large families with small children that they left to serve in the legislature without criticism. Yet, Eileen Filler-Corn met a barrage of negative sniping when she sought election to the House of Delegates because she had two school age children at home.

Men don't have to put up with stuff like the NLS contest, or the ongoing running commentary women face regarding their looks, clothing choices, hairstyles, etc., as a price of public service.

No wonder more men than women indicate an interest in running for office. See, Fox, Gender, Political Ambition and the Decision Not to Run for Office at page 5.

Bottom line here for me ...

Grow up, NLS.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Picture This

Delegate Cole has introduced a bill that would make it legal for a law enforcement officer carrying a concealed weapon to drink alcohol in a restaurant or club but only if he is actually on duty.

Here's what the amended "guns in bars" law would say if Cole's bill is passed:
J3. No person who carries a concealed handgun onto the premises of any restaurant or club as defined in § 4.1-100 for which a license to sell and serve alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption has been granted by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board under Title 4.1 of the Code of Virginia may consume an alcoholic beverage while on the premises; however, nothing herein regarding the consumption of alcohol shall apply to a federal, state, or local law-enforcement officer while actually engaged in the performance of his official duties.

I suppose this is somehow meant to make it legal for undercover police officers to drink while working a case without disarming or violating the law. But, it seems weird that we're passing a law to make it legal for police officers to drink on the job while carrying a concealed gun.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"Time and the Art of Living" 3

The new year approaches. Limitless possibilities; things left undone. A beginning; an ending.

Grudin on past and future:

III.20 The past is like the body of time, the future is like its soul. Our sense of the past is voluminous, corporeal, complex; but our sense of the future should hold innocently and simply, like stellar spectrum, the full quality of our spirit and will.

May the new year replenish your spirit and reenergize your will.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

"Time and the Art of Living" 2

The holiday season... time with family ... thoughts about past time ... hope for time yet to come.

Not much time for blogging. So, over the next week or so, I've decided to share more from Robert Grudin's book, "Time and the Art of Living."

As we think about the year past, what we did and might have done, it's important to remember that balance is an important aspect of success in life and in managing time.

Grudin on Achievement and Time:

IX.29 The mind which can totally and inanely forget its work and obligations is often also the mind which can, at the proper time, give them the fullest attention. People of this bent know not only the value of concentration but also the secret resource of fallowness. They protect their fragile hours of productivity with down pillows of oblivion.

I hope that you find some "down pillows of oblivion" on which to rest in the week ahead and beyond.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Questions for the New Attorney General

Richmond's new ezine for women published a revised version of my blog post on questions for the Virginia Attorney General in the December 2005 edition now available online.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Bacon's Rebellion: Blog the Budget! Executive Offices

Over on Bacon's Rebellion, Jim's asking folks to "blog the budget." Shaun Kenney suggests that we all play "adopt-a-budget" and see if we can find the fat.

I don't know if you'd call it fat or not, but, as noted in my comment on the Executive Office budget, the request for an additional position and more money for the Division of Debt Collection in the Office of the Attorney General deserves a very careful look by the money committees and the new Attorney General.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Congresswoman Davis Rewrites Dictionary; Makes Include and Exclude Synonyms

It seems to me that Virginia Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis and others on the anti-holiday bandwagon have merged the meanings of "include" and "exclude" in their efforts to put the "Christ" back in Christmas.

Those of us who use Happy Holidays as a greeting do so to "include," that is, to "accommodate, add, admit, allow for, append, bear, build, build in, carry, combine, comprehend, comprise, consist of, constitute, contain, count, cover, embody, embrace, encircle, enclose, encompass, entail, enter, have, hold, implicate, incorporate, inject, insert, interject, interpolate, introduce, number, number among, receive, subsume, take in, teem with, or work in" everyone who is celebrating this time of year regardless of what they are celebrating.

We are not trying to "exclude" or "ban, bar, bate, blackball, blacklist, block, bounce, boycott, close out, count out, debar, disallow, drive out, eject, eliminate, embargo, estop, evict, except, expel, force out, ignore, interdict, keep out, leave out, lock out, obviate, occlude, omit, ostracize, oust, pass over, preclude, prevent, prohibit, proscribe, put out, refuse, refuse admittance, reject, remove, repudiate, rule out, set aside, shut out, sideline, suspend, throw out, veto, or ward off" Christians who are celebrating Christmas.

No matter what the good Congresswoman says, I'm going to continue to see include and exclude as antonyms, and I'm going to include everyone in my holiday greetings.

And, what's this thing these folks have about the Christmas tree anyway...the history of Christmas trees as a Christian symbol is relatively recent, promoted actively in the US only since the late 1800's and not "universal" as a tradition until the 1920's. A bit of history:

The Egyptians were part of a long line of cultures that treasured and worshipped evergreens. When the winter solstice arrive, they brought green date palm leaves into their homes to symbolize life's triumph over death.

The Romans celebrated the winter solstice with a fest called Saturnalia in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. They decorated their houses with greens and lights and exchanged gifts. They gave coins for prosperity, pastries for happiness, and lamps to light one's journey through life.

Centuries ago in Great Britain, woods priests called Druids used evergreens during mysterious winter solstice rituals. The Druids used holly and mistletoe as symbols of eternal life, and place evergreen branches over doors to keep away evil spirits.

Late in the Middle Ages, Germans and Scandinavians placed evergreen trees inside their homes or just outside their doors to show their hope in the forthcoming spring. Our modern Christmas tree evolved from these early traditions.

Legend has it that Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. One crisp Christmas Eve, about the year 1500, he was walking through snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of a group of small evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight. When he got home, he set up a little fir tree indoors so he could share this story with his children. He decorated it with candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ's birth.

The Christmas tree tradition most likely came to the United States with Hessian troops during the American Revolution, or with German immigrants to Pennsylvania and Ohio, adds Robson.

But the custom spread slowly. The Puritans banned Christmas in New England. Even as late as 1851, a Cleveland minister nearly lost his job because he allowed a tree in his church. Schools in Boston stayed open on Christmas Day through 1870, and sometimes expelled students who stayed home.

The Christmas tree market was born in 1851 when Catskill farmer Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds of evergreens into New York City and sold them all. By 1900, one in five American families had a Christmas tree, and 20 years later, the custom was nearly universal.

What's the big deal about including everyone in the magic of the season by calling the tree a holiday tree?

Sometimes me thinks that the gentlelady doth protest too much.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Ten Keys Revisited

The Sunday before the election, I wrote my analysis of how I thought Sabato's "Ten Keys to the Governor's Mansion" were playing out in the 2005 election cycle.

We haven't yet had the benefit of Sabato's thinking, but I thought I should keep myself honest by looking back at what I said and seeing whether it makes sense viewed in hindsight.

Here's what I see:

On turnout, I was wrong that lower turnout would deliver the election to Kilgore. Kaine won despite the fact that turnout was lower than 2001's 46%. The conventional wisdom (R's do better when turnout is low)was wrong in Kaine's election. The turnout among black voters turns out to have been close to the 15% that Warner did, so the makeup of the lower turnout looks like it was unchanged or tending D compared to 2001.

The "prevailing conditions" (Warner/Virginia heading in the right direction) factor looks to have had a stronger influence on the election that I thought it did. I said it favored Kaine, clearly it was very favorable.

As to the rest of the 10 keys:

1) Economy (Then, neutral; Now, neutral to advantage D)
Dissatisfaction with the economy in some rural parts of the state (like Henry County) helped Kaine, not Kilgore. Overall, though, I still think it was a Neutral factor overall in the election. I do think voters thought that Kaine could do a better job delivering on the issue since more jobs and the economy voters voted for him.

2)Party Unity (then, advantage D; now advantage D)
Turned out to be the advantage for Kaine that I thought it would be.

3) Scandal (then, advantage D; now advantage D)
Turned out to undercut Kilgore as I projected.

4) Campaign Operations (then advantage R; now neutral to advantage D)
Kaine's folks ran a great and technically advanced campaign. The vaunted R machine wasn't. I called this an advantage for R's. Looks like this should have been neutral at best, perhaps even advantage D's.

5) Campaign Money (then advantage R; now advantage R)
Kilgore had the advantage. It didn't end up helping him.

6) Candidate Personality (then neutral; now advantage D)
I called this neutral, probably because I know both guys and think both are genuinely likeable people. However, the Kilgore his campaign presented was not likeable, and the Kaine his campaign ultimately presented was authentic and likeable.
This should have been advantage Kaine.

7) Prior Office Experience (then advantage R; now neutral)
Kilgore did little with his experience, and he wasn't able to get traction on the negatives associated with Kaine's tenure as mayor. I gave the advantage to Kilgore, turned out to be neutral at best.

8) Retrospective Judgment of Previous Governor (then advantage D; now advantage D)
Warner's high positives made this a very strong advantage for Kaine. I got this one right.

9) Presidential popularity (then, advantage D; now advantage D)
I called this one right, too. Bush was a drag on Kilgore's candidacy.

10) Special issues and dominant circumstances (then advantage R; now neutral to advantage D)
Immigration turned out not to have the intensity Kilgore clearly hoped it would. Transportation, which Kilgore should have been able to work to advantage, didn't help him. Kaine's decision to focus on growth and transportation late in the campaign clearly boosted turnout and his vote totals in the exurbs. I called this advantage R. I might have been right in the abstract, but Kaine's team clearly turned this negative into a positive.

Warner Steps Up on Workplace Discrimination

On Friday, Virginia Governor Mark Warner stepped up to the issue of workplace discrimination against gays and lesbians and did the right thing. As the chief personnel officer of the Commonwealth, he included a provision in the state budget he proposed that makes clear that Virginia's equal opportunity policy covers sexual orientation. Then, he reissued his own executive order No. 1 to declare that Virginia's "firm and unwavering policy ... to assure equal opportunity in all facets of state government" forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation.

According to the HRC
, Virginia joins 25 other states and 420 of the Fortune 500 companies that have nondiscrimination policies.

In a competitive employment environment, Warner's policy decision makes good sense for Virginia and Virginia taxpayers who want the best and the brightest working in state government and at our public colleges and universities.

The Richmond Times Dispatch reports today that a fight (led by who else? Bob Marshall) is already brewing on this small step forward for fairness.

But, really, how controversial can this be when, as the TD reports, Speaker of the House Bill Howell is "among 84 Republican and Democratic legislators who signed a pledge with Equality Virginia, a gay-rights lobbying organization that pressed Warner for the ban, to prohibit discrimination in their offices."

Tim Kaine's spokeswoman has said that Kaine's Executive Order 1 will continue to prohibit discrimination in state government based on sexual orientation.

People of right reason should get ready to respond, though, when Marhall and others try to strip the langugage from the budget bill and pass legislation to prohibit the Governor from extending this protection to workers by Executive Order.

The Data Confirms Common Sense Analysis of the Election Results

Jeff Schapiro's column today revealing some of the Kaine post-election poll results confirms what those not playing Republican bubble boy know by intuition, talking with folks, listening to what non-wonks have to say ...

independents and moderates made the difference in the governor's race.

And, they really didn't like the negative ads used by Kilgore (especially the death penalty ads).

Can we revisit whether negative campaigning "works"?